I hate it when things come together in such a way to cause major wallet shrinkage

My new laptop cost a pretty penny, and although I have a decent amount of time to pay it off, I hate having such a large debt. Mortgage aside, I've never owed so much for one thing, and debt stresses me way too much to be healthy. When I bought my new camera last fall, it had the same effect till I payed off my credit card.

Last week I went down to see my mechanic in Fremont to get my brakes fixed. They've been squealing like mad for months now. Of course, a week before my appointment, I discovered my radiator had sprung a leak. It was along a seam near the top of the unit, and could be repaired, but I decided it would be better in the long run to get a higher-quality radiator. So Wayne, owner of Carter's Auto Repair (which I highly recommend), got me a Modine radiator, and I went to Mustang Magic to get a new fan shroud (the original one had been partially melted by the leaking coolant). When I came back with the replacement shroud, Wayne showed me my brakes. The pads were disintegrating, and the calipers were leaking. And the disc brake conversion kit they came with were a mere six months out of warranty. He replaced the pads, but thought Stainless Steel Brakes Co. should replace the leaking calipers, even though the warranty had expired. The whole thing cost me a little under six hundred dollars. Ouch, especially considering most of it was unexpected.

My cell phone has been on the brink since sometime early last winter. The jasminelive screen would go blank inexplicably, though the phone would still work normally otherwise. Sometimes it would shut off of its own accord, too. Frustrating, but I didn't want to spend the money to get a new one. Well, the old phone is going to make a great paperweight, since now the screen won't come on at all, and I bought a new phone about an hour ago. Still very basic, but now with a color screen. There are many, many better phones out there, but I don't need 75% of the stuff they do. It's the same with many of the cameras I sell. Most folks need them to take pictures, and that's it. There's a lot of stuff they put in digital cameras and cell phones these days to make them sound better, but they rarely get put to use. When was the last time you filmed something in movie mode on your digital camera? I used movie mode on my first camera maybe twice, and only while fooling around with it to see what it could do. I don't need a camera on my phone, and I don't really need a color screen, but that's how they come these days. Cost me $150. *grumble grumble grumble*

In preparation for my vacation next week, I reserved a rental car. I would much prefer to drive my Mustang, but the price of gas these days requires something with better fuel efficiency, and the altitudes I'll probably be hitting require something with fuel injection. Cost me over $230. Not to mention gas, food, and lodging while on the road. At least I plan on camping most of the time.

Today I payed all my bills and deposited my latest paycheck and spiff checks. I'm doing alright at the moment, but most of my recent purchases went on credit cards. I should pay them off before my trip, so I know how much I have to work with, but I don't really want to spend any more money today. Know what I mean?

In other news!

Have you ever said something particularly imaginative and/or insightful that you immediately wanted to write down and copyright? It's pretty rare.

A couple days ago, upon discussing the long wait for the start of my first vacation in nearly two years, I described the wait as

"One more dune in the endless desert of commerce."

Almost immediately, I wanted to put that line on t-shirts and give them to particularly annoying jasminlive customers.

P.S.: to my numerous and varied stalkers out there: my brother will be staying at my place while I'm on vacation, so don't try to break in or something. I've also installed a large rolling boulder in the entryway, should you try to steal my golden statue of the goddess of fertility.

In one day! Rock on!

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to write this, but holy shit did I ever have an awesome Sunday.

Normally Sundays are very slow days, sales-wise. Also, the most I've ever sold in a day, as far as I know, was no more than five or six thousand.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. ^_^

Sunday was busy as hell, and I somehow managed to sell over eight thousand dollars! I was number one that day! The usual number one and number two salesmen were numbers three and two, respectively. I have never had such an awesome day before!

I mean, I'm usually nowhere near the top of the ladder, in terms of free sex chat sales. I certainly have improved since this time last year, though. I've gotten much better at what I do. One never stops learning, of course, and I've still got lots to learn, but last Sunday sure made me feel good about my abilities as a salesperson.

W00t! *does a little happy dance*

By the way, check out Neurotically Yours if you don't mind a little (read: a lot) of animated crude humor.

This was written

Enough stewing. I have got to get this out.

Today at work some jackass complained to one of my managers that I was providing poor customer service. He said that, while I was dealing with his special order that another salesperson should have been taking care of, I gave him some sort of look of contempt and refused to answer a question he asked me three times. To this I say:


You, asshole, were the one who rudely interrupted me every time I tried to talk. You asked about getting a card, and when I first suggested the value kit, which came with a damn card and other stuff you'd need, you didn't let me get two sentences out before rolling your eyes and saying you weren't interested, as if I'd just offered to punch you in the gut or something. I'm sorry if I looked at you like you'd just slapped me, but that's how it felt. You, dipshit, were the one who said you would go do some research on the fucking internet (maybe you should know the internet only pisses off brick-and-mortar retail people like me, who work fucking hard to know what the hell we're talking about and aren't trying to fucking rip you off) when I suggested a spare battery, which I would buy for my own damn camera, and have on a few occassions. Thanks for the vote of confidence, dickweed!

And maybe you didn't notice it was busy as fuck at the store today, and I probably couldn't hear you very well over the crowd, even if you did ask me three times how much a memory card cost? And anyway, I remember you asking for a price once, and me telling you the damn price. So screw you, and speak the fuck up, ok?

I was dealing with you because I was trying to be helpful, not because I needed your damn holier-than-thou attitude. I would have gotten nothing out of the sale, since it was under another employee's name, and I was only trying to show you things I myself would buy. Normally I try to be as helpful and considerate as I can be, but when someone gives me no respect, I have a hard time giving much back. Sorry, asshat, but you started it, and I will not accept fault for this crap.

Via Pleasant Smelling Blanket

I haven't felt all that inspired to write lately. Haven't even been reading my daily online comics. Shocking, I know.

It doesn't help when your damn computer crashes, wiping away everything you've just written down in the last hour. fuck!!

I talked to a customer on the phone today at work. They were trying to describe the employee who had helped them the day before. The customer didn't know they were talking to the guy they were trying to describe. They said the employee looked to be in his mid-thirties. I'm twenty-five. I found that mildly disturbing.

I didn't mind when they came in later and spent fifteen hundred dollars, though.

I put in for my summer vacation today. Gonna see the Spin Doctors down in LA, then spend some time in the deserts and mountains. Feeling a major desire to get away from civilization, even if only for a short time. Problem is, I need to either buy a laptop or find some other way of saving my photos when my camera's memory card fills up. The laptop would make more sense, since any other device would eventually be replaced by a laptop anyway. The laptop I want, however, costs about $3,000. The sort of expense one could really use a loan for. Not sure what I'm gonna do, but I've got time.

Been working on my gift for my brothers for graduation (which was a few weeks ago now). It's coming along just peachy. I'm really excited about it. Should be rad when it's done.

I think I managed to remember most of what I wrote originally, in abridged form. I hate computers. I love computers.

I had an eventful weekend. Four-day weekend, actually

I figured I would wrap up the weekend for y'all because I don't have anything else to write right now.

Thursday was spent getting things done, since I only had one free day for that stuff. Bank, mail, food, etc.

Friday the 'rents and I drove down to LA for my brothers' graduation from Loyola Marymount University. The drive, as usual, was long and boring. We were staying at a hotel that night, so we dropped off most of our stuff there and then went to the campus for a big formal dinner with the school's president and graduates who had won various awards. Both Mark and CJ had earned prestigious awards in their majors, and Mark also earned the Ignatian Award, which is one of the highest awards given at LMU. I'm super-proud of both my li'l bros! The dinner was really good, but you should have seen the dessert. Oh wait, you can see the dessert! Besides the fruit, it was all chocolate. Even the cup. Tooth decay has never been so delectable. There was also a hot professional photographer chick walking around taking photos, and I asked her where a local camera shop could be found, since I needed something for my external flash. She answered with the name of the street it was on (Venice), and went back to work photographing everyone. Not wanting to be a bother, I went back to my business of eating and being ignored in favor of the soon-to-be-grads (not that I minded all that much). (the photographer chick comes back into the story later, in case you're wondering)

After dinner, we went to the Baccalaureate Mass (LMU is a Jesuit school, for the uninformed). It was one of the longest masses I've been to. The production of the mass was very well done (almost theatrical), though, so at least it was interesting.

Then there was a big party-thing outside with a band (made of music professors, I believe), lots of snacky foods, sodas, photo ops for the grads and their parents, and an ice sculpture (I'll post a photo of that eventually). I talked to the hot photographer chick a little more, found out she knew of the shop I work at and actually lived relatively near to it. I gave her my card and she said she'd drop by sometime. I was feeling totally zonked from the drive and from eating way too much, so I wandered and/or sat around taking pictures of stuff. There was a girl wandering from table to table with a shoebox that held a couple of very young kittens that had been abandoned. She was trying to find someone to take them, and I completely wanted them. They were sick, though, and I didn't feel like I would be able to take care of them well enough till I got back to Concord, so I had to pass. They were sooooo adorable! When we finally got back to the hotel, I was pretty much out the moment I hit the bed.

The next day we had to get up hella early (6:30 -- ouch) to get good seats for the commencement. I'll skip a whole lot of boring stuff here. It wasn't hot that day, but the sun felt like a spotlight on me, giving me nice pink arms (even with sunblock) and a burnt scalp. Goldie Hawn gave the commencement speech, which was really cool. I already told you about my brothers' awards, so I'll skip that. I was super-proud when they were called to recieve their diplomas, but had a hell of a time getting decent photos. Everyone and their uncle was trying to stand in my way for pics of their own grads. Looking at my photos now, I am reminded of my urgent need to get a better telephoto lens. The whole commencement thing lasted till early afternoon, and was followed by receptions spread around campus for the various colleges. They had really good cookies.

My brothers being the well-known, much-loved guys they are, pretty much every grad we ran into had to say their goodbyes. It took a while to get to the car. I took it in stride the best I could, but I was dying for a cool place to just sit and relax. The experience made me glad my graduation was held indoors, even if it was a little stuffy.

We eventually got to a really nice, small Italian restaurant somewhere in LA (I was rather lost most of the time). As we walked to the restaurant, we noticed there had been some sort of accident out front. Turned out a woman on a Vespa scooter had run into an old Dodge van and lost. There was a small crowd of people there administering first aid while they waited for paramedics, so we went inside to cool off. I went back out later with my camera (just in case) as the woman was being loaded into an ambulance. A woman who had been helping the injured rider yelled at me about how it made her sick that I was out taking pictures of someone else's pain. I said I had never taken the cap off my lens, and she could inspect the photos on my memory card if she didn't believe me. I also mentioned that I could have been a photojournalist there to document the scene, or someone just looking to see if taking photos of the scene for the rider could help in some way. In reality, since I knew the rider was in good hands, I was just checking out the fire truck and ambulance that had arrived for any interesting photo ops. Still, the woman made me a little mad, but I chalked to up to her being under stress and went back into the restaurant as she went into the bar next door. She came and apologized a little while later.

My grandma and aunts met us at the restaurant, along with Mark's girlfriend's family (she graduated too). The food was awesome. I wish I could remember the place's name. I don't remember much of what happened after that, because I was so drained from the excessive sun earlier, but I remember getting to grandma's place eventually, and struggling to stay awake to watch the Dave Matthews/Trey Anastasio Go To Africa thingie on VH1.

Sunday morning meant, then out to breakfast with the aunties and grandma. Then the long drive home. The weekend was a lot less resting than I'd hoped, but it was entirely worth it to be there for my brothers' graduation. I'm super-proud of those two. Supermega-proud

The following post was mostly written Wednesday

On Tuesday morning Briana and her brother had to leave for their jobs at 6:30, so I was up much earlier than usual. I didn't mind, however, since it gave me a nice early start. I went to Denny's for breakfast (can't beat their prices), then headed north towards Lassen Volcanic National Park via interstate 5. I was surprised how nice a drive I-5 was after you got past all the boring flat nothing of the central valley. Lots of beautiful forest and rolling hills. I did have to stop to take a nap around 9, though. At Red Bluff I headed east on highway 36, then took the Lassen Peak Highway through the park.

Lassen was a lot smaller than I remembered it. Last time I was there, I was somewhere around 12 years old, and everything was bigger then. Still, it was very enjoyable. There was snow still on the ground in the higher elevations, just like the last time. I checked out a few mud pots and sulfur springs, and took lots of pictures of the mountains and lakes. I'm sure most folks can't stand the smell of sulfur when they're in Lassen, Yellowstone, or any other volcanic area, but in small doses I can enjoy it. I recognize it as a part of nature, and nature was what I wanted to experience on this trip.

All day I was thinking about whether or not I really wanted to see Mt. Shasta. It wasn't part of a park, forest, or preserve, so it would be harder to get close. It also was just one mountain, not a range or group, so it would be over quickly. Well, a few minutes after leaving Lassen on hwy 44, I caught my first glimpse of Shasta's snow-covered peak, far off in the distance.

I had to get closer.

First I had to get to Redding, so I headed west, back to I-5. Redding is one of those towns I've wanted to see simply because it's always shown on maps and occassionally mentioned on freeway signs. I spent about two minutes there, finding I-5 and turning north. I meant to check out the new Sundial Bridge, but forgot. About an hour later, I was in the city of Mt. Shasta. My map showed a couple roads leading up the mountain a short way, but for the life of me I couldn't find them. Wanting to make it to Eureka before sunset, I found a small hill and took photos of the mountain from there. I grabbed a volcanic rock to examine more closely later; the mineral structures were intriguing. Some day I absolutely must go back, though with someone who knows the area. I want to spend more time there. Being so close to a huge volcano like Mt. Shasta was awe-inspiring. I must get closer!

To get to the coast in a decent amount of time, I had to backtrack down to Redding. Again I was happy that I-5 was such a nice drive. Every turn brought a new vista. Again I forgot to find the Sundial Bridge. I headed west on 299, following the Trinity river. Absolutely awesome drive, that road. Lots of twists and turns, but nothing too severe, and the views were fantastic. Even passed through a couple more National Forests. Occassional road work showed that Northern California has some hot hot hot chicks working construction.

When I finally hit 101, it meant a change in climate. The previous five days had been cloudless and hot. The coast was cool and a little cloudy. A welcome change. My route turned south, through Arcata, where one of my former California Aggie underlings was from, to Eureka. I've heard it said that parts of California's northern coast are like time capsules, containing cities that have changed little over the decades. From the little I've seen so far, Eureka fits the bill nicely. Lots of very old buildings, still in use though their occupants have undoubtedly changed many times. An old-fashioned town, and I'm sure the local teens loathe it.

Next time: The Voyage Home.