I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stealing the deal

Well, Black Friday's come and gone.  Was it worth it?  Nah, it never is.  Sure, like every other retailer out there, we had a good day, one of the best dollars and cents days I can remember.  Analysts say, however, that sales were a bit light, most likely because buyers are still wary of the economy.  What jello heads they are!  Most retailers have been swamping their customer base with Pre-Black Friday deals for the past 2 weeks.  And now we're in the Post-Black Friday deals, which are quite similar to the Pre-Black Friday deals.  Consumers learn fast!  This year our in-store specials were also available online so there was no need to deal with the crowds or the cold weather.  Also, this year the crowd waiting at the door wasn't nearly as large in previous years, however we did have a much, much larger crowd 4 hours after the doors had opened then we'd ever had on past Black Fridays.  And, as I said earlier, it was one of the best, if not "the best," as far as the dollars and cents go.

And, as far as the steals go, someone is always trying to 'five finger discount' the merchandise.  Most of the time we don't know about it until after the fact.  This year we had a woman, middle-aged, go to Self-Checkout with a rather full cart.  The cashier started to ring her through (we do this with full carts, it keeps things moving) when all of sudden the woman complained that a price was wrong.  While the cashier went back to her station to get the ad, the woman pushed her full cart past, and out the door.  $84 had been rung up, but there was much more merchandise in the cart, including some fairly large ticket items.  This is how it goes sometimes.  For some people there is nothing like stealing a little deal on Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday VS the Winter Storm Warning

Winter Storm Warning!

Yep, and we're right in the middle of it with the forecasters predicting 4 -8 inches of snow.  In fact, it's snowing right now, however the flakes are the size of golf balls and melting as soon as they hit.  I suspect, in the end, we'll get about 2 inches of slush.  That'll suit me just fine since I'm supposed to go to work this afternoon.  Don't know how long I'll stay since the Winter Storm Warning! will insure the only retailers busy today are going to be the supermarkets.  You know, Thanksgiving is tomorrow and nearly everybody who's cooking has waited until the last minute to do their shopping.  Grocery stores will be packed and by 6 or 7 this evening their shelves will be picked clean.  Also, don't forget, there is this Winter Storm Warning!  There is that group of people who hear those 3 words and feel compelled to stock up on bread and milk.  Me?  I went to the store yesterday and bought milk because I was running low.  I didn't buy bread because I rarely eat it.  If I get a craving for it, I can always whip up a batch of drop biscuits.

Anyway, I am scheduled to working from 4 - 10 PM, mostly to place signage for Friday morning.  I already know that when I walk in the front door, this is what I'll see:

lots and lots of black plastic.  Normally it stays on until black Friday morning, and then it gets trashed just before they open the doors.  They keep it covered because prices for all of the special deals will not get loaded into the system until sometime Thursday night.  You don't want to deal with an irate customer who feels he should get the discounted price early.  So everything is kept wrapped up. 

Hopefully, most of what I'm expected to do this evening will be done by the time I get there, or at least be well on the way to being completed.  I don't really want to stay until 10.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Friday VS Dragon Age Inquisition

So, what have I been doing for the past couple of days besides getting up at 0300?  Going to work to prepare for Black Friday.  Last year, for some odd reason, set-up was not slated until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  That's a lot of work to do in one day.  This year, for example, we dropped 174 full pallets of "stuff" and placed them all over the store.  That's a lot of pallets.  It's a lot of "stuff." What kind of "stuff?"  Well, there are 3.6 cubic foot Roper Washers and Roper Dryers (electric and gas).  I've never heard of that name brand.  And 3.6 cubic feet?  That's tiny.  But they're cheap, which means they'll sell.  On Friday morning customers can choose from several colors of Sherpa Throws, and neck warms, and AKC certified dog beds.  There are mushroom farms... bet that will be a hot ticket item.  Imagine the lucky child finding one of those under the tree.  The Electric Cork Screw, which sold out really,  really fast last year, is returning.  I might get one of those if there are any left by the time I go on break.

I'm scheduled in Garden on Friday morning, thought that doesn't mean I'll actually be spending time in the Garden Department.  What that means is that I'll be wondering around the store with a map helping customers find that odd present they want to purchase.  It doesn't make a difference if it's a Butter Cookie (yes, they'll be there) or a 3 foot tall 'build it yourself' dollhouse (they never sell).

And what I'd really rather be doing is playing Dragon Age Inquisition... on a PC of course.

What kind of hero will I be?  Why a great one, of course.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saying "no" to your Vet

I took Lilly to the Vet today for her inoculations, rabies and distemper.  In the process I also managed to aggravate my Vet, which is okay, you see I don't really like the one I had to deal with today.  A while back I had written about managing your Vet, well she's one who needs to be managed.  She will fill your cart with far too many expensive charges if you give her the chance.

Take the fecal parasite exam, that's a $30 charge just to see if your dog has worms.  My dogs have both been wormed.  Yet my Vet wants to do this exam every year.  They also feel it's necessary to test for Lyme Disease every year.  I don't let them.  This morning my Vet arrived prepared to vaccinate Lilly for Lyme disease.  Today, when I said "no," my Vet became a little nonplussed.  When I pointed out that Lyme Disease in dogs can be cured with simple antibiotics, she fumbled.  "Not always," she said, "if you wait too long and it's well advanced antibiotics may not work."  Then I added "and 90% of all dogs infected with Lyme Disease never develop symptoms."  And her retort was "but people are finding ticks everyday.  And deer ticks are very tiny."  You will notice she did not correct me, nor even deny what I said because most people just nod and say "yes."


Educate yourself.  Don't ever take what they say for granted.  Never forget that they are running a business.  Laura, the Vet I dealt with today, drives a Mercedes.  There's a reason she can afford to drive one.  I am not part of that reason.  Today's visit cost me $107.  Had I not educated myself well enough to know I could say "no" it would have cost me $215.  What's sad is that as I was leaving a gentleman was arriving with a cat in a carrier and I felt bad for him.  You see, even though I had the temerity to say "no," he will most likely say "yes."  While not all Vets will take advantage of the feelings you have for your pet, there are many who will.  And they will do so by hiding behind the mask of a caring individual.  Once you learn how to say "no," you will find they drop the baby talk real fast and get down to doing their job.  Oh, and they'll be very efficient at it too since they don't want to lose you as a customer.  They also know that as you walk out the door some other sucker will be walking in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fitness in one and two syllables

I had the 15 months service done on my car this morning.  Originally I planned to have it done last week, and had made the appointment for early in the morning.  However, when I showed up there were 7 other cars there already.  Still, I was early, and I did have an appointment.  When I told this to the attendant he said "all of these people are here for service."  So I repeated "I have an appointment."  And he repeated "all of these people are here for service," to which I replied, "I can't sit here and wait for 2 hours."  His response was "I can open the garage door so you can leave," which is what I did.  I don't make appointments so I can sit and wait.  Making customers wait defeats the purpose of having the make appointments.  So... I complained to the Honda Dealer.  I learned a long time ago that complaining to anybody else accomplishes nothing.  And I made another appointment for this morning at 7:00 AM.  And, of course, I got express service and was in and out in 35 minutes.

Anyway, they provide certain amenities for the customers who wait, like free coffee, and popcorn, and, of course, magazines to read.  This was the selection on the table in front of where I sat.

I did not pick the Deer Hunter magazine, nor did I pick the Cosmo.  I did, however, take the Fitness and started leafing through the pages.  For those who've never looked at one, at least 90% of the content is Supplement ads; page after page after page.  The articles are written with simple one and two syllable words.  One that caught my eye was "Cycling causes Erectile Dysfunction."  I ride bicycle and have never had this problem.  And, of course, the article actually said that some men, over 50 years of age, who go on bicycle rides over 50 miles in length, have occasionally reported this problem, but that there was no substantial proof that this was true. That's when I realized it was only filler taking up space between Supplement ads.   The headline should have been enough to warn me it was just fluff, it included the word 'dysfunction' and that's 3 syllables.    

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How many $ would Comcast lose with Net Neutrality?

I thought I'd post a little something about Net Neutrality since it seems to be a bit of a hot button topic.  Of course Comcast, and Verizon, are both totally against it and even though their publicity machines are spouting all sorts of negative impacts, their real motive is related to dollars and cents.  Evidently there are those who feel Internet services should be defined as a utility.  Comcast views this idea with abject horror.  How do I know this?  Several reasons, the first of which is they've evidently put Ted Cruz on their payroll.  The second is their financial statement released on January 28, 2014 for the previous year.  Believe it or not, they posted an increase of revenue for 2013 of 5.8%, that is billions of dollars.  They earned that from several sources, but quite a tidy bit came from subscriber rates.  My neighbor, Eileen just dropped them because, as she said, "every year their rates go up and they're just too expensive."  As a utility, Comcast could not arbitrarily raise it's rates every year.  They would need to prove that these increases are necessary.

Ensuring you make your 5% forecasted profit for the year is not a valid reason.  This doesn't mean they're not going to hit their goal, they'll just have to gouge it out of some other revenue source.  So how much revenue would lose with Net Neutrality?  Probably not much, they'd just have to say "bend over buddy" to someone else.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tooling towards Black Friday

My Black Friday schedule was posted yesterday.  Actually, it's not that bad - all morning shifts, except for Wednesday when I have this odd 4 PM till 10 PM shift.  Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be at the store until 11 or 12.  I had the same shift last year and didn't get out until after 11 PM.  After the store closes on Wednesday is when we go around pulling off all of the black plastic which has been swathed around the "surprise" deals and make sure the signage is correct.

One thing that is different this year is my start time on Black Friday.  Last year I was in at 4 AM because I was in charge of the coffee and donuts.  I put a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on a drywall cart, loaded it up with hot coffee and donuts and patrolled up and down the line of people waiting to get into the store.  That's right, we get a line.  Last year it was over 150 people long.  Of course, we don't get the same type of crowd Walmart or Target get because we're a home improvement store.  This means every one is well behaved and orderly, no eye gouging or knife pulling at our store.  No one has ever been trampled to death on Black Friday at a Home Depot, or a Lowe's.

And why do we get such a crowd?  For a long, long time wives and children had no idea what to get Dad for Christmas, so he either got a tie or cologne.  Now he gets a DeWalt drill, or a Ryobi impact hammer.  He may only use his new tools once or twice, but at least they'll add to the clutter he calls a work bench.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The unanimous dis-satisfaction with Unity

Back on Tuesday, Ubisoft, a French game developer, released Assassin's Creed - Unity.  I've enjoyed the Assassin's Creed franchise and was looking forward to this installment.  Previous games have dealt with the American Revolution and Pirates in the Caribbean.  This one deals with the French Revolution and centers on Paris and Versailles.  The trailers were amazing so I pre-ordered it for PC.
I started the download on early on Tuesday morning (yes, it was one of those work days) knowing it would be finished when I got home.  Of course I already read about all of the troubles that came with the release, but I was still hopeful my game would be playable.

This was not the case.  When I went to verify the game I discovered that some of the files had failed to download, which meant more time fixing the download.  And then, of course, when I did finally start to play the game there were more problems.  The screen was teeny, weeny, and neither my game controller nor the keyboard with that did that wonderful mouse I just got, the which fits so nicely in my hand, worked.  I could pause the game, but I couldn't get to any menus.  In fact I need to use the Task Manager just to stop the game.  I tried rebooting the game and rebooting the laptop and each time needed to use the Task Manager.  So I deleted the game and downloaded it a second time, which is time consuming since it's over 41 thousand MB.  And this is what a got:

Yep, that's my laptop.  Nice keyboard, eh?  And that teeny, weeny screen in the center is the game.  When it's that size this game looks damn good.  However, now I have a menu which allows me  to change the size of the game - I got rid of the black boarders and it fills the screen.  And it doesn't look as good.  Now I can see all of the issues people were complaining about.  Faces disappear, you try and climb a scaffold and your in the scaffold, or you turn and you're in a wall.  On occasion, Parisians float horizontally down the street.   Things that are crisp and sharp when it's teeny weeny are flawed - hair sometimes looks like it was drawn by a 4 year-old.  

Because there were so many complaints, Ubisoft's stock took a big hit.  The lesson to be learned is you don't release a game that's not polished.  If you have to spend money putting out patches to fix problems, then the game should have been delayed.  The only unity in Unity seems to be complete dis-satisfaction.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day Off with mouse lust

So what do I do when I have a day off?  Well, today I took the dogs to the park.  There's no telling how much nice weather we're going to have so I get them there as often as I can.  Then I spent some time cleaning up the yard... dogs, you know?  That and the leaves which need to be racked.

This is actually the first of 2 days off in a row, so mostly I relax, nothing too strenuous.  Tomorrow I'll get on the bike (which is on the CycleOps trainer) and try and put in about 25 miles.  Cardio, you know?  Until we start getting snow.

I made an appointment for Lilly to get her second year rabies shot, after that she'll be good for 2 more years.  My Vet sends me postcards listing all the things they want to charge me for which aren't necessary, like a 'fecal parasite test.'  They will run that test every year unless politely put a stop to it - she has been wormed after all.

My new gaming mouse arrived today - actually the postman dropped it off while I was out cleaning up the yard.

I play games on both a large laptop and an aging Xbox 360.  I've owned 3 laptops and have always bought a regular mouse.  I hate those little pads you're supposed to finger.  Give me something I can grip in my hand!  And if it has 14 programmable buttons?  It's almost mouse lust.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seven days and counting and Black Friday looms

Yepper, this is the last day in one of my 7 day weeks.  Except for Monday I've had closing shifts.  This suits me find.  I get many more chores done on this shift.  I hate the opening shifts because I have to get up around 0330.  That's right.  I usually don't feel like doing much of anything when I get home, except for taking a nap.  The nap bit isn't always successful since I have two Boxers who've been sleeping most of the day, so they're well rested and ready to play.

The big political news is that the Republican Party is once again has the majority in the House and the Senate.  I chortled when I saw the headlines "for the first time in 8 years."  That sounds better then saying since Bush was in the White House.  Isn't it interesting they didn't try and make that connection.  Now let's hope that they learned something in those 8 years.

For all of you gamers and Mass Effect fans out there, tomorrow is N7 day.  The Bioware Forums are a flutter with expectations.  Me, I'm going to sit back and wait.  The game will probably not be out until sometime in 2016.  Mean while, Assassin's Creed Unity gets released on 11/11, three days after my birthday - think French Revolution in Paris.  I'm excited.

Work has been pretty much the same.  We set our Pre-Black Friday - that's right, there's not only a Black Friday sale, there's a Pre-Black Friday and a Post-Black Friday.  I actually don't mind working on Black Friday.  You haven't seen anything until you've seen big, burly men with beards, running like 12 year-old girls towards the 'half off' Shop Vacs.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Silly Questions

Working at a paint desk which is centrally located in the store, a lot of people stop by and ask questions.  Some of them are in regard to product location.  Many of these we can answer.  Some of them are fix-it questions, such as 'how do you fix the broken slat on a futon?'  People with these questions are usually directed to a specific department.  And then we get the silly questions.  Now I'm not talking about uninformed paint questions - we get a lot of those and have no problem both answering and educating.  I'm talking about just plain stupid questions.  Here's an example from yesterday.  This large woman came up to the paint desk and asked "are your restrooms still in the back of the store?"

We all stood silent for a few seconds,smart ass answers dashing through our heads.  Now I know department stores will occasionally move departments, but we're a big box home improvement store.  And she wasn't asking about departments, she was asking about restrooms.  And evidently she'd been to the store before, and had used the restrooms before, since she knew they were located in the back of the building.  I was the first to respond and all I said was "yepper."  What else could I say?  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Surprising comment

As I'd said earlier, I went to see "Fury" the other night.  One of the things I like to do after I see a movie is go into Rotten Tomatoes to check out what other people are saying.  Sometimes their comments are interestingly right on and other times they are not.  Anyway, there is always a cast list which I find helpful since I'm not familiar with every actor out there and I click on those I don't know.  I wasn't familiar with Logan Lerman so I thought I would enlighten myself.  Interestingly enough, I've actually seen him in several other movies, though had no idea who he was.  I scanned down the page to the comment section and was surprised to see some individual had added the note "He is Jewish."  Now, why would someone need to write that?  As far as I'm concerned a person's religion is their own business.  Yet someone did feel the need to put a label there.  But then I remembered there really are quite a lot of idiots out there.

I once worked with a Catholic gentleman who told me he had some evangelical neighbors who completely ignored his family, as well as the other Catholic families in neighborhood.  Evidently this family had let it be known they believed Catholics to be heathens because they worshiped idols.  When I heard this I was stunned.  If you ask me, there's a big disconnect going on there, an embarrassing failure.  Just like the comment about Logan Lerman.  Who cares about his religion?  If that type of information is important to you, your priorities just my skewing in the wrong direction.  Of course no one is going to listen to me because that would mean they'd need to honestly re-evaluate, and to do that they'd need to question.  Of  course we all know that's never going to happen.