Archive for the ‘Workin’ for the Man’ Category

Mixed Business

May 28, 2008

Lots of stuff to link to today, boys and girls, with lots of big stuff happening all over the eBays for your old buddy Ron. First of all, I’ve got a new gig over at Den of Geek, doing the weekend box-office roundup. Here’s the first of what will probably be many to come, complete with anti-Matrix and anti-V for Vendetta slander.

Also, Monday I continued the Musical Monday kick by posting the new Weezer video, Pork and Beans, over at Shaktronics. Imagine my surprise when I get an email forwarded to me from the company behind the video, Motion Theory, thanking me for spreading the word and even answering some of the questions I had! You know, with so much information out there on the Internet, it’s staggering to think that you might actually be noticed by the people you’re talking about. While my blog isn’t exactly a celebrity hangout like NewsComa‘s crib, I should be nicer to Steven Seagal, just in case he really would like to punch me in the crotch for my mocking love.

I think I’ll celebrate my good fortune by buying this Smaug ashtray. I don’t smoke, but I do like awesome stuff. And dragons. And random links.

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the gooderest news of all

May 25, 2008

My paper copies of the brilliant MicroMart issue 1004 arrived safely to my doorstep today, thanks in no small part to the US Mail. Now when people tell me I suck and can’t write good, I’ll be able to wave my magazine in their collective face and say, “Ha! Turns out I can write gooder than you!”

I don’t want to grow up

February 12, 2008

So, for those of you who aren’t in Louisville, which is all of you, there’s been what meteorologists are calling “a metric fuckton” of snow today. It started on my drive home and continues, albeit less forcefully, at this very moment. The projected total is somewhere between 4-8 inches of snow, plus sleet, ice, freezing rain, and all the stuff that makes driving fun. If it doesn’t keep snowing, and it is still snowing even now, but not severely, I’ll be ice skating into work.

I don’t want to.

I wish I was in elementary school again so I could just enjoy the snow and not have to go to work. Snow isn’t supposed to mean leaving the house early and praying you don’t die on some godforsaken interstate because you’ve already been hit by a semi once when driving in the dark while it was snowing. Snow’s supposed to mean putting on my big heavy boots and gloves and going outside to throw snowballs, or make a snowman, or scoop up the top layer of the fluffy white stuff and make snow crème.

This is the best kind of snow, fluffy and wet. It sticks together in perfect snowball clumps that burst in a shower of white powder when they hit something. Everything looks so clean and beautiful outside, with the layer of whiteness reflecting the moonlight and brightening the evening skies to gray instead of pitch.

I shouldn’t have to dread this. It’s a thrilling experience; my inner child is screaming at me, “Call into work! Go outside and roll around on the lawn like a dog! Doitdoitdoit!” I guess there’s a reason I’ve been listening to that band of eternal teenagers, The Ramones, all day long.

I don’t wanna grow up.

TV beer commercials in the real world

December 15, 2007

At work on Friday I had an observation while watching TV in the break room.

The only time I’ve ever heard a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song on TV, it’s been in that Miller Lite commercial that we’ve all seen a million times. You know the one: the house with all the Christmas lights, synchronized to the bombastic strains of “Wizards in Winter” from the album The Lost Christmas Eve. Surely, the guy who first did this, and TSO, have to be making a mint off the commercial, which is a yearly tradition on par with “A Christmas Story.”

Well, Newscoma‘s found some footage of someone, in her very own Hooterville, who has synchronized their Christmas lights to a song that ISN’T that overused song. Go check it out!

Author’s note: The originator of this phenomenon is a guy named Carson Williams, and since his house took off and became an internet and advertising sensation, he’s started doing Christmas light and music shows professionally. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Positions available, competence not required.

November 29, 2007

Graphic designer needed for the Nashville Tennessean. No knowledge of HTML required, obviously, since we can’t even HTML our job posting correctly, or even be bothered to go back through and strip out the code automatically inserted by Microsoft Word. While our job posting can look like hot diarrhea straight out of 2girls1cup, miss one comma on your resume and it will be shredded.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: El Oh El. Lrn2Proofread. This is quite possibly the least comprehensible job posting I’ve ever seen, and I’ve applied for government jobs!

A donation has been made in your name to The Human Fund

October 4, 2007

Listen, don’t think me some sort of uncharitable louse, okay? Let me finish what I have to say, then you’re more than welcome to call me an greedy prick who should be hit by a car. Maybe I am greedy, or maybe I’m just tired.

Look, I give, okay? If I have money, I give it freely. It’s just paper whose actual purchasing power depends on the exchange rate of the day. Yes, I work for a living (at many different places these days), but I’m not made of stone and am entirely too nice to tell beggars to go sit and spin on a fire extinguisher nozzle.

Guys approach me all the time on the street. They always look me in the eye, they’re always careful to keep some distance, and they’re always doing their best to look friendly. I always smile back, because I know what that look means.

“Hey man, can I have a couple bucks to get some gas? I have a long and complicated story that’s probably bullshit, and I probably really need the money for drugs, but here’s my line.”

I’ll listen thoughtfully. I’ll nod. I’ll smile. I’ll ask questions and make comments. I’ll test them.

If their story is well put together and they’re able to answer my questions without too much difficulty, I’ll give them a few bucks. Yeah, I know, I’m probably the reason they continue to do it everywhere they do it. Still, if they care enough to make their story relatively tight and I have the money, they’ll get what they want out of me.

I know it’s a con. I’m not that stupid. They know I know it’s a con, I’m sure. But I make with the paper when I have it. Maybe I feel slightly better about myself for having done a good deed. Maybe I’m compensating them for their storytelling ability. Maybe I’m giving them money to make them go away.

I don’t mind giving, even when I know it’s going to go straight into some guy’s pipe in the form of some delicious crack. That’s Kool and the Gang; more power to you, brother. Get your crack on and enjoy yourself. As a crackhead, your life probably sucks even worse than mine, because I’ve never gotten an infection from a rat-bite on my ankle.

But you know what? I’m tired of the forced giving at work, and I’m tired of pretending that I feel bad for not having money. I don’t feel bad, all right? I know the Homeless Glassblowers’ Alliance does some really good work for the poor and miserable, but asking me for money at work isn’t the best idea, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s solicitation for a cause that probably already receives millions of dollars from the government, and I don’t appreciate paying the same organization more than once. I already lose almost half a paycheck every two weeks to taxes, I don’t want to add more by giving a few bucks a month via payroll deduction.

Second of all, I don’t make that much money. I pay taxes, FICA, Medicare, the company retirement contribution, a retirement contribution into my own 401k, and insurance fees. You people work here, you know I don’t make much money because we’re all on the same relative pay scale. If we are not on the same pay scale, you make more than me as I’m the lowest man on the totem pole in the office thanks to my job classification. I have a phone bill, I have to pay for World of Warcraft, I have to buy beer, and I have to pay off a crippling level of college loans for a degree that’s been as useful to me as nipples on a male cat.

Third, you are my coworker, or more likely, someone in a position of authority over me. I don’t like being handed something with my name on it and told to turn it in to you, even if I am giving money to your pet cause. It’s not your business to have some record of what I give to your cause, or to have some record that says I choose not to give.

If I want to give, I’ll give. If I don’t want to give, I won’t give. That’s not information anyone else needs to know. That’s between me and the strippers down at the Jiggly Room.

The Big Announcement

August 19, 2007

Okay folks, since I’ve finished my first blog for the good folks at Flektor, I’m able to, uh… announce that I’m now blogging and working for Flektor. My first post is up, so go check it out here, all you Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild-obsessed maniacs! Do it, or else I won’t get to keep the job.

So. what’s Flektor? Well, I’m glad you asked. Or I’m glad you’re able to allow me to assume you’re asking that question. Either way, I’m going to continue.

Flektor is a new tool that allows you, the user at home, to make your own videos, slideshows, and whatever else you might want to do. In short, it’s a way for those of us too poor to afford Final Cut Pro and a $2000 Apple computer to make our own content and jump into the whole Web 2.0 thingamajig all the kids are talking about these days. The editing suite runs via magic derived from grinding unicorn horns into powder and mixing it with liger blood (or Flash), and if you guys make some great Fleks, then I’ll definitely promote you on the front page of the Flektor blog and let you know you’re being promoted so you can link back to Flektor.

Or I can just beg you directly to please link to Flektor, but how does that make you the next Acceptable.TV? It doesn’t, and I’m trying to help you guys get famous here.

how flies time… er, time flies

August 1, 2007

It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing poetic about an Amazon gift card. Oh, it was so cute, too. Thrilled to death that a million-dollar company could squeeze out a few spare bucks and leave me a gift in such a manner (no doubt after much clawing, scratching, and fighting from my wonderful editors Sarah and Simon).

Here it is, a week later, I’m officially a paid blogger over at Shaktronics. Feel free to go read my first post, I think you’ll like my charming, caveman-like attitude towards the cellular telephone.

Don’t ask me how it happened (nepotism), but it happened and I couldn’t be happier about it! Just think, if I could land seven more blogging gigs like this, I could think about quitting my real job if it didn’t give me health insurance! I don’t know why or when, but it’s like when I launched this humble little rant chamber, I put myself into a position as to where I could stop chasing after my dreams with the chainsaw of desire and start actually carving them into Farmer Vincent’s fritters.

certain details withheld to protect modesty

July 25, 2007

As you folks know, I toil away at a variety of web-based ventures for no money. Well, that’s no longer the case, at least officially. I still toil away at a variety of web-based ventures for no money, but at least once my toiling has netted me a crisp, sparkly new Amazon.com gift card! And to think, my birthday is only 2 weeks away (August 8), so it looks like I’m really going to put a hurtin’ on my Wish List this year, rather than just letting my lusted-after DVDs gather dust on some shelf somewhere in Cyberville.

I know it’s just a silly gift card, and I know all the other writers got something too. I’m not a special case, and it’s not because I asked my nameless boss the other day when I was going to get paid. Still, it’s nice to feel appreciated, and it’s nice to write about my gig as “Workin’ for the Man” rather than the usual “Shameless Self Promotion” tag. Just think, if I click my heels three times, maybe next time it’ll be a legitimate check, or at least a case of Miller Lite (inside joke).

I know I already told them I appreciate it, but I figured I’d go ahead and make a public pronouncement.

Author’s Note: Yes, I know I’m hinting hard at what multi-million dollar company I’m slutting my brain out for, but you guys have no idea how stupidly I’ve been grinning all day. All I’ve ever wanted in my life is to write something good enough that someone liked enough to give me a few bucks for, and now I’ve done that. If I get hit by a car tomorrow, I’ll die happy. This is, in all honesty, the summation of a long-time dream I’ve had.

Author’s Note 2: Actually, I won’t die happy, because I’ll have died without spending my damn money!

Ron’s surefire guide to lowering the cost of health insurance

July 12, 2007

So, despite my better judgment, I find myself playing Devil’s advocate on a variety of health care issues over at Music City Bloggers (despite the fact I’m neither musical or in a city, just in the suburbs).  For the record, I don’t think there’s that much wrong with the current system, and what is wrong cannot be corrected with government interference (things only get worse when the government gets involved).  But I will admit that things like health care insurance probably cost more than they have to, so here’s my plan on bringing down the price of private health insurance for everyone.  It’s a little thing I like to call the ‘free market.’ 

I don’t know how much buying health insurance on your own would cost, because the place I work provides me with health insurance (and I’m not going to Michael Moore myself by searching for random statistics and using the first ones I can find, because the statistics are not relevant to the discussion).  I’d imagine most of you don’t know it either, because the place you work provides you with health insurance as well.  It is one of the best/worst things the union has ever done for the common worker because while it benefits the union employee, it dooms his nonunion brothers and sisters. 

Regardless, people lack health care insurance because, supposedly, it is too expensive.  Why is it so expensive?  Simple:  health insurance is expensive because insurance companies have no pressing interest to sell health insurance to the individual consumer.  There’s no real profit to be made selling to people one at a time when they can sell bulk health care services to companies, state governments, and unions. 

They get a guaranteed term of service, collect a guaranteed amount of money every year, and because they are insuring hundreds of thousands of people, rather than individual persons, they are guaranteed to make more money than they will have to spend out to cover medical expenses.  Most people, as we know, don’t get sick that often, don’t need surgery every day, and generally don’t pursue health care that they don’t need. 

Meanwhile, when dealing with an individual person who seeks outside health insurance, there is an inherent risk that they are going to actually, you know, NEED something expensive.  Why else would they A) not have a job that provides them with health insurance and B) be seeking out health insurance in the first place?  Whether or not this is the case, it’s a reasonable suspicion.  Even a lot of employers who don’t have free insurance have companies that they recommend to their employees for insurance.  Rightly or wrongly, there’s the appearance that the insuranceless person, who randomly looks for insurance without some kind of back story or employer reference, is in dire need of something expensive.

So, how do you drive down the cost of individual insurance?  Simple (well, not simple, but easy).  Companies stop providing free or reduced cost insurance to workers and force the insurance companies to sell themselves to the individual consumer.  There’s no need to really compete for the individual’s dollar, just the fat pockets of Major Corporation, Inc. (and the right bribe in the right place usually takes care of that).  If the insurance companies had to compete for YOUR dollar, premiums would fall.  You’d get discounts for things like not smoking or having a gym membership (like good driver and good student discounts with car insurance).  There would be an interest, on the part of the health insurance industry, to get your business and reward you for eating right, working out, and not doing heroin. 

The onus would be on prevention and early detection, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than treatment.  Variable pricing packages would come into play, and those that want the full-blown free everything coverage and can pay for it are more than welcome to have it.  Those that want basic coverage and can’t afford the big stuff can still find a low-cost insurance outlet (the Esurance of health insurance, if you will).  Those that don’t want anything are free to roll the dice. 

How am I so confident competition would improve access to health care?  Competition with satellite drove down the price of cable.  Competition with cable drove down the price of the phone.  Competition between cellular phone companies drives down the price of cell service.  Competition drives down the price of meat, cheese, and soda.  Competition (assuming the product is readily available) always lowers prices and generally improves services for the consumer (because if you don’t keep the customer happy, there’s always another option). 

Car insurance is required, and because everyone needs it and your employer doesn’t pay out the nose for it, prices and packages are affordable for everyone.  If you are unhappy with your insurance, television service, doctor, garbage pick-up, or phone company, you can buy better coverage or change providers.  If you are unhappy with your company-sponsored health insurance, you can always buy coverage on your own BUT your company is still paying the designated provider for you, so the insurance company doesn’t lose business in response to YOUR unhappiness with coverage.

They’re getting paid regardless.  So why should they give a fuck about finding new customers that aren’t corporate customers who are going to pay up a designated amount of money for a guaranteed number of years?  Why should they try to cater to individuals who may or may not stay customers when someone comes along and offers the same care for $5 less a month?  There’s no reason for them to do it from a business sense  Sure there are a lot of uninsured people, but there’s no guarantee they’d want health insurance even if it were available at low cost. 

It’s the same reason why, until satellite came along, my local cable company sucked out loud.  There was no need to improve service, because I had no other option.  Now I’ve got 500 channels, high speed internet, and phone service for $125/month.  Who wouldn’t want to bundle their health, life, car, and dental insurance if they got a discount for doing it?  I know I would!

Give insurance companies a reason to cut prices and improve service, and they’ll do it because they know if they don’t, one of the many other insurance providers WILL. 

Author’s note:  As fascinating as I find Noam Chomsky, he’s wrong on economics AND he’s twice as wrong on linguistics.  Generative grammar?  Come on, that’s been refuted as incorrect since the 50’s, and was based on the completely falsified A-over-A principle invented by one of Chomsky’s students!  The only reason anyone takes his linguistics work seriously is because he’s politically popular. 

Author’s Note 2:  If you read this far, you have my condolences.  Sorry it wasn’t funnier.  Next time I’ll work in a poop joke.