Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Conan Punches a Camel...Twice

I watched Conan the Barbarian over the weekend and it was pretty long and incredibly slow in parts. I wouldn't recommend it, but this clip below is easily the most random and funny part of the movie. I don't know where the second clip is from, as I fast-forwarded through a majority of the movie. I think Mortal Kombat should incorporate the Conan Camel Punch in the next edition of their game.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

He's In Trouble

This past Sunday in our Sunday school class, we watched a video that covered some of Jesus' parables. In the parable of Lazarus, Lazarus gets his reward in Heaven while the rich man who ignored him goes to Hell. They showed a short clip of the man in Hell, surrounded by green flames and begging for something to quench his thirst. At this point, Clark turned me and whispered, "That guy's in trouble!"

Yes, Clark. He certainly is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

iTunes Weeding

I think I've hit something of a wall with iTunes and my music collection. I currently have 8,744 songs on my iTunes which means I can go for 24 days and 13 hours without hearing a single song repeated. I mostly set my player to shuffle the songs and just listen to whatever comes up. While I absolutely love having that much variety, the truth is that I'm starting to miss the songs I really love. Take this evening, for instance. It shuffled to a song called "Extraordinary" by Annetenna - a song I easily rated 5 out of 5 stars. Sadly, it has only been played twice.

So, my mission over the next few weeks is to trim down the library. One of the reasons I keep so many is songs is because sometimes a random song will come on and it will just grab me and become an instant favorite. A perfect example of this is the song "Home in the Woods" by Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons. I never know when some random song will catch me and speak to me. One time, my fianceé asked if I thought I had enough songs on my computer and I said, "Yes - but there's still good music I haven't found yet."


As it stands right now, I have -

- 44 items not rated (new albums and such).

- 73 items rated 1-star out of 5. I've weeded out a lot of-1 star items, but I rate most of the free TV shows and podcasts as 1-star since it doesn't really matter.

- 318 songs rated 2-stars.

- 2,283 songs rated 3-stars.

- 4,665 songs rated 4-stars.

- 1,413 songs rated 5-stars.

I already see some cutbacks coming to artists I am kind of in the middle on. I probably have their entire albums (either purchased, borrowed or "found") but only need 75% of their catalog. So those filler songs by 311, Queens of the Stone Age, White Stripes, Rubyhorse, etc. will probably get chucked first. That's my guess. I'll report back on my weeding as it progresses.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tales of the Unemployed Pt. 4

Alright, this should be my last words about this topic, but this is a more fun post than the others. (Sorry for that, btw.) In my experience, the most useful job searching website is Indeed. It works like Google - you type in a job title and zip code, and it pulls searches from CareerBuilder, Monster, plus dozens of other job websites you've never heard of. My second favorite job board site is Craigslist, just because it cuts out a lot of the bullshit of job boards.

In my recent experience, I think the most bizarre job interview I had was with PTM Images in Pacoima. The posting on Craigslist was kind of vague but sounded exciting, so I submitted my resumé. I got a response from the President who told me to come in "anytime between 9am and 3 pm." That sounded I wrote back and said, "I'd like to come in at 11. Can you confirm that?" to which he responded "yes." I got there and there were 8 people in the waiting room. All there to interview for the same position. And there were only 6 chairs. I had to fill out some paperwork, at which point 2 of the people walked out and didn't come back. Yes, the herd was thinning! And I get a chair!!

After about an hour, I was moved into the company's lunch room where I waited with 8 people (the original 6 plus 2 others). Apparently, this dude decided to crank out as many interviews as he could in one day by just telling everyone to show up. So, my actual interview didn't happen until 1:15 and it lasted less than 3 minutes. All because his job posting was vague and I didn't have the skills he was looking for. Thanks, asshole. The sad thing is that I, along with most everyone, would probably have walked out of the interview if we knew about the shenanigans, but when you need a job desperately, the employer has all the power. Sad, but true.

I think one of the most fun interviews I had was with Sport Chalet in La Cañada. They were really cool, and they have sports memorabilia all over their offices. The lobby had signed snowboards, jerseys and helmets, and it also featured a organizational poster dubbed something like The Most Important People at Sports Chalet. At the top (most important) were the sales associates that work in their stores, then the store managers, then the regional managers, then the corporate office people, then at the bottom, the president. I thought that was really cool of them. Even though I still won't shop there because their stuff is overpriced.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Ralph Garman on KROQ had one of his "Ralph's Rants" about Twitter, and to a lesser extent, social networking the other day. While I use Facebook and MySpace, I admit I am incredibly anti-Twitter. Ralph's stance is that because of the boom of the Internet and social networking, everyone thinks they're important and whatever is happening in their lives is important and has to be shared with as many people as possible.

As someone who writes on 5 different blogs, I like to think I'm the exception to that rule. I like writing, I like getting comments but if no one read my blog, I'd still write it.

Getting back to Twitter, though, I can't understand how 140 characters of anything is worthwhile. Receiving updates of the little things that make up people's lives is not a reason for me to sit in front of a computer screen. I saw on Dane Cook's blog (on MySpace), he was going to make some special announcements via his Twitter account. So it's not enough that a person (not me) reads his blogs, or checks his website regularly, now they have to sit in front of their screen with Twitter open just to get a password for his ticket onsale or whatever the hell he was announcing...?

They took some phone calls from listeners who said they love Twitter because it lets them stay in touch with their friends. To which Ralph's response was, "How about picking up the phone or writing a damn e-mail?" My thoughts exactly. :)

If, and this is a huge IF, I ever got a Twitter account, I'd just post completely inane stuff on there so I could maintain a steady follower count of zero.

Twitter update: I'm pooping.
Twitter update: I just Tweeted.
Twitter update: I just Tweeted that I Tweeted.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tales of the Unemployed Pt. 3

I thought I was done blogging about this but just wanted to mention a few more things. I think one of the hardest things for me the last few months was not really having anyone I could really relate to and talk about things. Quite a few of my former coworkers found a new job within a few months, and some others were able to keep busy with freelance work to bring in some money. So if you, or anyone you know, gets or is laid off anytime soon, feel free to pass along my contact information as someone to talk to.

I remember one night in particular I wanted to crawl under a rock and just not come out again. I think I'll avoid getting into the details but just keep my offer in mind.

My only other piece of advice or whatever, if you get laid off, is to consider an incredible range of careers. I never thought I'd be applying for a job doing porn design or going on interviews in El Segundo, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Oh So Quiet

I've been working my new employer for a week now and the one thing I've noticed is that it's freakin' quiet. You could probably hear a mouse fart in the office. I held off on listening to music for the first few days but by Thursday, the quiet was driving me batty.

The other thing that kinda sucks is most of my favorite websites I check regularly are blocked - Yahoo mail, Facebook, etc. So, when I take my break and want a distraction, I fire up Safari and...have no clue what to look at. I can't read my email, I can't check social networking sites for any updates - it kinda blows.

We get a half hour for lunch, which is kind of nice because I leave at 4:30. It kind of eliminates going anywhere for lunch unless you hit up a fast food drive thru. But those are all minor things in comparison to having a regular job again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Funny The Way It Is

Dave Matthews Band is giving away the newest single from their forthcoming album for free, so I decided to grab it. Upon download, it immediately added itself to my iTunes playlist and started playing - whoa now! Slow down there, DMB!! My music collection is stored on a separate hard drive and I like everything in one place.

I was curious about what else this harmless little MP3 was capable of, so I clicked the "get info" about the file. For the "Owner" tab on it, the MP3 was kind enough to automatically grab my name from my computer and lock it. So if I don't want to be the "Owner" of it, I have to change it and verify it. Jeeeeeez, talk about wanting to track people. If they're giving away the song for free, why are they having the file do these things? Should it really matter if "Chris K" is the assigned owner of this MP3 file if anyone with an email address can download it? Thumbs down, DMB.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tales of the Unemployed Pt. 2

When I first got laid off, my job search was very narrow. I wanted to still be a graphic designer, make exactly or more than I was making at the bad place and have a reasonable commute. That changed - as evidenced by the interview I had with MySpace for a customer service position. It's in El Segundo (about an hour away) that paid $15/hour. I was even considering applying for a cook position at Baja Fresh figuring at the very least, I'd be bringing home tons of free food and that's kind of like saving money. So, if you ever become jobless, my advice is to consider tons of positions. Especially in this economy, I think it's going to be tough to find a well paying job and do exactly what you were doing before.

The job I started recently pays about $10k less than I was making before, is about 45 minutes away and is kind of a mindless, production artist job. But that's okay with me. I'd prefer to have benefits and a steady paycheck than try to find my dream job in this current state.

Even within the graphic design field, I applied for a range of places - everything from toy design to porn. I actually had an interview with an "adult" company and got paid to do some sample work for them. I really had to think hard about that one. A job is a job and at least it would be more honest than doing spam. Luckily, they never offered me anything.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tales of the Unemployed Pt. 1

It's been a while since I was laid off and now that I have a full time job again, I feel like I can share some of the thoughts and feelings I went through during this period. Some of the next few posts may not be cheery, because it was hard to maintain a positive attitude throughout all of this. I'll try not to be too depressing.

The first thing I thought when I was told we were being laid off was "This can't happen to me." I'm a college graduate! I'm working for a company with offices in France, Germany, Sweden, England and Spain! I go to weekly meetings where I'm told my division is doing fine and the company is happy with us! Then we were called into a "mandatory meeting" and given our walking papers.

It was a completely miserable feeling made worse by the fact that I carpool with my fiancee. We got laid off around 11am and she wouldn't pick me up 'til 5pm. Luckily, they were pretty gracious with us and let us back into the building if we needed to. I grabbed lunch with a friend and exited the building around 2pm. I sat in the park across from the office for about 3 hours until she pulled up to get me.

One kind of sad things is that I will probably never trust a company again. I will always keep my resume up to date and be checking job boards every so often just to see if there are better opportunities out there. It was one of the worst feelings in the world to have the carpet yanked out from underneath me.

As I was saying goodbyes to a few people at the bad place, this one dude came up and we had a conversation that kinda went like this:

Dude: "Oh, you should enjoy your time off."
Me: "What?"
Dude: "Yeah, relax, take a trip. Go to Europe."

Riiiight, because last minute trips to Europe are dirt cheap and I can surely afford one over the next month when I won't be making any money. Brilliant idea, jackass.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Goodnight Moon

Do you remember this book from your childhood - Goodnight Moon? I came across an interesting article the other day regarding this book. Apparently, the author, Margaret Wise Brown, signed away the royalties to that book to Albert Clarke, her neighbor's 9 year old son. And what became of Mr. Clarke? He basically squandered $5 million in royalties and had about $27,000 left to his name in 2000.

On one hand, that's kind of cool she would give some of the royalties to a child. On the other hand, it probably helped ruin his life. He was kind of a problem child to begin with, and he didn't get any money from it until the age of 21. But if you had hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties coming in every year and never had to find a real job, that would sure as hell change your life. And thanks to Bill Clinton, he and his children will have royalties coming in from that book until 2043. That article is kind of interesting.

At least it's better than leaving everything in your will to your pet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


In case you haven't heard or figured it out, I recently received two offers of full employment. I initially accepted one at a printer I was temping at very close to home, but then got a way better offer at a place 45 minutes away, so I accepted that instead. I wasn't really comfortable at the printer for a number of reasons, but figured at the least, it was better than nothing. I'll go into more detail about my Six Months of Misery in future blogs. I'll also relate some stories that happened at the printer in the time that I was there, and try my best to refrain from using the word "douchebag" too much. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How the States Got Their Shapes

I recently finished reading / skimming through a book called How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein. It probably isn't something you think about it but it's an interesting book. I mean, why does Michigan have that area on the other side of Lake Michigan? This book will tell you.

Each state gets its own chapter, so it's basically broken down into 51 chapters (DC gets its own) of 3-5 pages each. It's even presented alphabetically, so you can skip over the states that don't really matter (sorry, Tennessee!). I have to admit that I really blew through the second half of the book because the book can get incredibly dry. I hate to spoil it for you, but a lot of state boundaries are set because of rivers and/or mountain ranges.

I think the most interesting thing(s) I learned were how much foresight our forefathers had in planning our country out and acquiring land. They intended each state to be equal in size (hence you get a lot of states shaped like Wyoming, Colorado, etc.) but then some states come along and screw that up (Texas). There are also a few notes about how much impact one individual can have on a state's boundary lines because of their political connections.

Also of interest is why California is so freakin' big when it came into the Union so late - it's basically because the United States needed California more than California needed the US. With access to the Pacific Ocean and the amount of people flocking here during the Gold Rush, California could have been its own country. So basically, California set up its own boundary and the government was like, "Okay, you get to keep all that land if you join us." ¡Viva California!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mark Kano - Walking on Broadway

I recently got the solo album from Mark Kano, and I recommend it. Sure, I may be biased since I loved the crap out of the band he used to front - Athenaeum. He's just a straight up great songwriter. I think my favorite song is "Telling You I Love You" which is just a really great, sweet song. I wasn't sure about "Mr. Dog Catcher" at first but it's really grown on me. I'd heard an acoustic version of "Sad Songs" that was really awesome, and was just a little bit disappointed with this full band version. You can stream the whole album for free over on Bandcamp's site or you can just download it yourself for $7.92 (cheap!). It's the You Look Tired pick of the last few months!™