Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Prodigal Poster Returns - 2 Weeks Late

Howdy "everyone". I'm back again for another of my lately very occasional and conversely very lengthy posts. It's not that there isn't the usual "little stuff" that is somewhat interesting from everyday life to post, it's just that I have continued with the rather slothful attitude toward my blogging that started about mid-August or so of last year.

I will go back to approximately the time of my last post to start things out again. That is to say I will try to remember back to mid/late-November of 2010. First off, the easy stuff. Just two days after my last post - Nov 20th - which incidentally was the one year anniversary of what s/h/b my last day at CPAA but was actually the day after - I started a new job. The place is another call center named Xentel. Just think of the word xylophone.

I really have enjoyed my almost exactly two months there, even though I am not doing very well oddly enough. I just can't seem to get my LiveBridge momentum going again. But more on that later near the very end of this post (It's a doozy). I have met some really nice people there. Exchanged info with a couple recently. Even had the bright idea to photocopy a "info-let" about myself to hand out to people on the spur-of-the-moment.

These "info-lets" (name, both home phone numbers, facebook and twitter status and my blog address) have come in extra handy on two occasions in very short order. Short both in terms of from the time of coming up with the idea to the time I handed them out and also in terms of the time between giving them both out.

First, I ran into Jon M(u) on the platform at Corona Station. Took me a second, I admit to recognize him as he seems slightly plumper and he had his head shaved. The killer smile was still the same though. He was off work for a little bit after leaving Xentel but said he was quite happy at his new job (just started!) at a place called Supply Sergeant.

I told him that it was especially nice to see him as I had planned to exchange info with him on the very day that was his first day of not working at Xentel anymore. :( I told him something [can you all keep a secret - LOL] somewhat scandalous). I admitted that I had planned to get up the nerve to ask one of my favorite supervisors to "raid" the personnel files and get me his e-mail address.

Not his phone number, just e-mail. I had it all figured out! To encourage said supervisor's would-be shameful misconduct and give them some plausible deniability I would say if Jon asked where I got his e-mail that don't you remember giving it to me just before you left. LOL. A believable "fib", if I do say so myself. It's like I just recently read in Cosmo (I'm always the good little attributor). Lying doesn't get you in trouble. Lying poorly does. ROTFLMAO.

Anyways, shortly after (about a week actually) meeting and exchanging info with Jon I ran into Bianca M(e). Also at Corona Station but this time in the mid-level by the top of the escalator. A minute or two more - if even that long - and we would have missed each other, as I always use the elevator to get to that level. Strange how well things sometimes work out. Funny too, that on this day I saw Jon again for only the first time since originally running into him. Apparently, Wednesday is his band practice day.

That reminds me, other than telling him about my plans to purloin his info if a supervisor would have been accommodating enough, I also reminded him of his "promise" to play the bagpipes at my - hopefully far-off - funeral. He not only re-committed to it but offered the services of the entire ETS band - for free. I hope this is not too good to be true!

As for Bianca, we exchanged blog info and I don't know if she has read any of mine but I have read quite a bit of hers. I read all of her secondary (actually the original) blog from 2008. Also, a couple of screens full of the new one. Unfortunately, I kind of gave up on her primary (the more recent) one because it - like the other one - had no date stamps just time ones (kinda dumb, sorry Bianca but it's true).

The reason I read the entire old blog is because at least on that one she had an archives which she, in addition to no date stamps, didn't have on the new one. So there is absolutely no way of telling how far back it goes or how much of it has been read.
This is too bad because her more recent blog is even better than her original. Much easier to read and more adult-like. Which makes sense since the older blog was started when she was in middle school.

I am getting ahead of myself however, talking about the "info-lets" and Jon and Bianca as this happened in the last week or so (Jon) and the last day or so (Bianca), but it seemed to flow from what I was saying about all the nice people I've met through working at Xentel. Of course, it was the same at LiveBridge. I guess you can't help but meet plenty of nice people in short order when you work at a call center as so many people cycle through them in such a short time so a person is bound to meet many good (or at least interesting) people.

But back to a chronological order of sorts.

My mothers 84th birthday fell on the day that my late brother-in-law's brother had his memorial service after a freak winter farming accident. He actually died 9 months to the day after his brother. This was the first of two memorial services I went to so far this winter. More about the other later. As for this one, I have to say it was quite beautiful. There were two huge paintings of farm scenes on either side of the cross on the altar of the funeral chapel. It was a mostly non-religious service which I personally liked, and one that had probably the longest eulogy I've ever seen but as I said before a very beautiful one by his three daughters.

I asked for December 23rd off for "Blue Christmas". Actually I had mistakenly asked for the 22nd off thinking the day of the week it fell on was the 23rd. When I went to ask that it be changed a supervisor was nice enough to remind me that taking that day off would disqualify me from receiving holiday pay. I totally forgot about that. As "luck" would have it I was about 5 days or so short of qualifying for it anyway as I hadn't worked the 31 days you need to. So it didn't hurt at all to take the day. Which also took some of the sting of being just shy of qualifying away as otherwise I would have had to have voluntarily given something up either way.

I'm glad I decided to make an effort to go to Blue Christmas. I'll explain that in a second, but first I should explain Blue Christmas itself.

It's a day that some churches have to acknowledge that the holidays aren't always a time of fun, festiveness, and good cheer for everyone. For some people, the holidays are a sad time that may be filled with loss. When I first heard of Blue Christmas back when I started going to the Unitarian Church in the late 90's I thought it was just a "Unitarian thing" but I have since learned from my mother that they have it at her church too which is a United Church. Possibly other churches do this as well.

I'd be curious to know though whether or not "we" (the Unitarians) pioneered it. I do know that there is one "big" difference between the two churches observance of it. At UCE (Unitarian Church of Edmonton) it is always on the 23rd (the day before Christmas Eve). At BUC (Beverly United Church) it is always the Sunday just before Christmas.

But back to why I am glad I went this year. I have been to at least one other Blue Christmas back when I was first going to UCE. That year I went to see what it was all about more than anything. This time I decided to go for two reasons.

One was that with my mother being 84 just two weeks before Christmas Eve (Dec 10th), it is only a matter of time until she will be gone. Christmas Eve, when my brother and I along with her boyfriend and some "singletons" that me and my mom know get together to celebrate a smallish event with, just won't seem the same. My brother and I will be singletons then. So I thought that getting used to attending Blue Christmas might be a good idea. Not that it really gives you any idea until the time really comes.

The second, and probably more ___________ reason was because I wanted to see if anyone I knew and especially cared about was there and why so that I could offer some good wishes/support to them. When I went I ran into a casual but dear friend Susan and her wonderful father Bob who were there much to my surprise. Susan's mother/Bob's wife, who I never had the opportunity to meet as she had been sick for a number of years, died somewhat unexpectedly considering she had hung on so long on December 17th.

As a result, I was able to find out when the memorial service was, as I wanted to attend in support of Susan and Bob. I am happy to say I saw many faces I recognized who were probably there for much the same reason. Hopefully Susan and Bob know how much they mean to many members of the UCE family. As for Mrs. Koles funeral I will say that it too was (as is fitting for a Unitarian service) not very God centered. It was heavy on classical music as she was a huge fan of the genre. I am not really into classical music but thought the pieces played were very lovely. I believe there were two selections by her favorite composer, Lizst. There was also a nice story that was translated from her native Hungarian.

The previous paragraph too is a bit out of the chronological order as they delayed the service for the holidays and it didn't happen until Jan 14th.

December 17th (a Friday) was also the day I met my new work friend Debbie. It was the day she applied at Xentel. I noted to her that starting on Monday she would -just- miss the Xmas party on December 18th. It is for this reason and others that I will likely remember her start date (December 20th). I started the 22nd of November, she started the 20th of December and my day of "infamy" at Xentel - to be discussed later - happened on Jan 19th (yesterday).

I also remember the Xmas party on Dec 18th for another "sad" but "funny" reason. File this one under not learning my lesson the first time. LOL. I brought my friend Katherine to the Xmas party and while she was at the table I was looking for some people I knew and liked to introduce her to. I happened to end up standing next to two supervisors and one of their guests. The one supervisor appeared to either be using sign language or was quite a gesturer.

As I approached to find out who the guest he was talking to was, he walked away a few feet towards the music area which he was taking care of. I asked the guest his name and he replied in a way that let me know he was in fact deaf. As I didn't understand, I asked the other supervisor if he knew what the first supervisors "fathers" name was! Immediately, the first supervisor who was several feet away as mentioned replied from afar with a shocked tone that his guest "wasn't -that- old".

It gets worse. LOL. I go back to my table and tell my friend what happened. She smiled and commisserated and maybe even pointed out that it was typical. LOL. Anyway, awhile goes by and after stewing about my error I alight on an idea to perhaps redeem myself a little. The guest I inadvertently aged was standing near the bar with a drink so I thought maybe he is almost done and I can buy him another as a sort of an apology. So I go over to the bar and oddly, it's the second supervisor who is again with the guest (not his host) so I ask him if he knows any sign language.

Now for a funny and brief aside. The second supervisor, a normally somewhat "buttoned-up" type was a few sheets to the wind and came out with the following answer ... "I only know three things in sign language - hello, goodbye and FUCK OFF" (giving the finger!). LOL.

Well, back to the main story. Just then, like magic supervisor number one (the host) shows up like clockwork. On second thought, maybe it wasn't so surprising as he might have noticed me approaching his guest again and got worried. Apparently, if this was the case, it was not without reason. LOL. You see, when he showed up, I asked him if he could ask if I could buy his "brother" a drink. (I guess I assumed again that if the guest looked like the supervisor's father to me and wasn't he must still be related.) There was a brief pause. Then he said it was his PARTNER. Oops.

And naturally, he also pointed out that the offered drink was redundant as he had a fresh one. Foiled again. One lucky thing, when I told the first supervisor that my friend had told me to say I was drunk (LOL), I also said I didn't know which was better (or worse) - saying I was drunk or saying I was sober. He either smiled or laughed. Thank God he had a sense of humor about it. All in all a super nice (and very forgiving) guy.

As for why else this shows I learn some things very slowly other than the fact I made not one but two assumptions, it was the second time I put my foot in my mouth with someone's guest. The other time was not at this event, but still. A few years before, at a due at my mom's church, one of the three women who have been pastors at her church over the years (yes, three!) was there with a male guest.

The two of them, my mother and I and perhaps one or two others were in a group and I made the mistake of asking her about her "son". Turned out it was her husband! Again, oops. So as I said, some people never seem to learn the first time and apparently I am one of those sad, sad people. Hopefully there won't be a third time. "They" say things happen in three's. Lets hope for my sake that in this instance this isn't the case.

On a happier note than deaths and missteps, on the way to the Blue Christmas Dinner/Service I got a little unexpected Christmas gift courtesy of an ETS driver. I was waiting for a #7 to take me the second half of the way to the church and I noticed from (quite) a distance a older lady seemingly vision-impaired trying to figure out if the buses coming in were hers when a female driver noted what bus she was driving loudly enough for me to hear in the shelter. When my bus finally came I had forgotten about the older lady until the driver of my bus noted that he wasn't sure whether or not a woman wanted his bus or not. It was then I remembered the older woman and yelled at him to stop as it was probably a vision-impaired woman I had seen earlier. I went to the door to tell her what bus it was and it was not the one she was waiting for.

As we took off and I went to my seat at the front the driver called me up to see him. I assumed he had not seen my pass and when I said that we both joked about him calling me up to throw me off the bus. LOL. In fact, when I got up beside his seat to find out what he wanted, he handed me something. It turned out to be a two dollar coin. He said that he thought what I had done was extremely nice and wanted to treat me to a coffee at Tim Horton's. It really wasn't anything special but appparently he is more used to bad things happening on the bus and he wanted to show his appreciation. I thought it was not only a nice thing of him to do but as I said before, a bit of a little Christmas gift. Maybe even the nicest of many nice gifts I got this year since it was so unexpected and given with such a nice thought.

Also on a happy note, in late December/early January I treated myself to a whack of costume jewelry. I was walking past a window display and noticed a really nice, flamboyant, dangling, white "glass" necklace (I'd post a picture rather than trying to explain if I actually knew how - maybe I'll see if Virginia will show me how to do it with my cheap kids digital camera). I decided to go in and check on the price only half thinking I might buy it.

When I went in and asked I decided to look at their other jewelry and left $250 later! I bought several necklaces, two bracelets (one matches one of the necklaces and one matches one of the earrings), and a number of earrings. The last ones mentioned, the earrings, were kinda putting the cart before the horse as my ear holes have totally grown in. So I'll have to go to get them re-pierced and then wait the what-is-it, like 6 weeks or so it takes to go from the piercing studs to being able to take them out and wear other things.

I bought all the earrings, which were about 5 or 6 pairs, because I was afraid they wouldn't still be there later. This was because most of what I bought was sale-priced and some/most were the only ones on the rack of their kind. Also, finding jewelry I like can be a problem. At least when I'm in department stores. This was like finding a lost portal to the '80s. LOL.

For Christmas Eve, like I said, we had our small part of the family and one single friend dinner at Mom's followed by a Christmas Eve church service at mom's church just a few blocks away from her house (the house we all grew up in, me my whole life). On Christmas Day, we went to my oldest sister's for the huge dinner with all her 3 kids and spouses, 9 grandkids, "adopted" daughter and granddaughter (a friend of one of her girls who is a singleton too), both grandmothers (one being my mom), me and my brother (both without families of our own) as well as her daughter-in-law's sister, husband and two young kids (who think of her and her husband like additional grandparents) and last but not least a late old family friend's daughter and her girlfriend. Quite the houseful. I think the count was something like 30!

On December 26th (Boxing Day being a Sunday) I went to church at UCE again for only the second time in like 4 months (the first being Blue Christmas just 3 days earlier) for a wrapup to 2010 service. Typically Unitarian. I showed up quite early and ended up setting off the alarm because apparently someone set the alarm but forgot to lock the doors on Christmas Day after leaving and I was the first one there and of course didn't know the code. I also didn't know that there is a public access phone in the building (there is!) and thought the only one was in the locked church offices so when the alarm company would have phoned I wasn't able to answer. Luckily (sort of), on the 23rd at Blue Christmas, there were problems with the alarm and I (who was 5 minutes late) and another person (who was about 15-20 minutes late) both set off the alarm so I the alarm people &/or the police never showed up as they probably thought it was another malfunction and so likely there was no charge.

January 1st/New Years Day we decided to postpone the dinner my mom was having with the Christmas Eve bunch (Mom, me, my brother and my/my mom's friend Katherine) till January 2 because it was a Sunday so that my brother could take me and Katherine home together rather than taking her on Saturday (January 1st) because of her bad bus connections on the last leg of her ride home and me on Sunday. We started the New Year off with a very nice dinner. Mom found a prime rib that was $44 regular price for $29 so that was what we had. First time in a year or so. A very nice treat. Thanks Mom. BTW, left over prime rib makes for "quite the sandwich". LOL.

It is only now that I am getting to the point at which the title of this post comes into play. I had plans of posting at least semi-regularly from between Nov 20th when I posted for the first time in like three months as mentioned before, until my 1 year anniversary of blogging on Jan 6th. Of course, as we know, this did not happen. Many things, like the unexpected Christmas gift, Blue Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, our belated New Years Day, etc. all happened in a short span of time but I didn't seem to get anything down originally.

So when Jan 6th came, it not only came - it went. Without fanfare. Not exactly what I had "planned" for my first year finale. So here it is, exactly two weeks later. Not planned that way, it just happened. I guess it's the next best thing since I'm so big on patterns and anniversaries and second and third chances, etc. Like my yearly New Year's, then Ukrainian New Year's and then when neither of those panned out, Chinese New Year's resolutions of past years.

Speaking of Chinese New Year's ... two things of interest that I read lately.

First, apparently, there is a new, 13th zodiac sign. This only has to do with Chinese New Year's in so much as the Chinese have their animal zodiac and that reminded me of the "regular"/Western one which I just read has had to be re-jigged because of slight changes to the earth's something or other over many years. Yeah, whatever. As there are now 13 signs the dates have changed somewhat. My birthday is one of the dates affected. I have been a Libra for 42 years but am now being told that I am a Virgo! Not very impressed. For as much as I believe in astrology (not much) I have always seen many traits of mine in the Libra traits. I liked being a Libra. I find it difficult to believe that suddenly, my traits are going to be/really have been all along something entirely different. Virgo traits. Whatever they are. Haven't researched that yet.

The new sign is being "wedged in" just before Sagittarius (Mom's sign - actually didn't check if it still is) and I think it may start with an O. Just a minute, I will Google it... it is. I was right about it being wedged -before- Sagittarius and also about it starting with an O. It is Ophiuchus. Apparently though according to the New York Daily News Jan 19th, 2011 article The 13th Sign - Zodiac Madness "Don't panic, your star sign is still the same. And so is the sign of your lover, mother and best friend. That is unless you follow the sidereal (emphasis mine) system of calculation that the Eastern philosophy of Astrology does...".

Apparently we of the "Western Zodiac" as opposed to the "Eastern (Vedic) Zodiac" follow a tropical system of calculation. Also, according to Betty Matteson Rhodes' "true" astrological chart Scorpio got screwed (my words) as most Zodiac signs are 3 to 5 weeks long whereas on her chart Scorpio is 6 days I noticed. For those interested, the small window of November 23rd to November 29th. Oh and Mom's sign did change - if your into Eastern "Zodiac Madness" - she is actually the new sign Ophiuchus which is November 30th to December 17th. Consider this your astrological lesson for the day.

The second thing about Chinese New Year is that according to Yahoo News the manufacturing industry is in a tizzy about Chinese New Year because it seems that Chinese workers including the lower class types that do the cheap labor take a extended break of about ten days or two weeks at Chinese New Years AND there are fears that some/many won't return to their jobs after that and Chinese already has a newish labor shortage as Chinese workers are starting to move away from working for such low wages that made China a great place to export jobs. Consider this your economics lesson for the day.

After the jump to Chinese New Years which is a few weeks away I believe after talking about January 6th and my blog anniversary that brings us to the present. Yesterday, I got called into the office at work. (This is where I will now mention the doozy I was talking about at the beginning of this post). It has been a long time coming, but I finally got "the talk". Three days shy of my two month anniversary at Xentel (yesterday, January 19th), I get told that my numbers suck (not a direct quote - the manager was more tactful) and it's shape up or ship out time. I have to admit, I am surprised it took this long. Not that it makes it any easier to take. After all, I really do like it there. The people, the work, the location. The hours and pay, meh. Still, all in all, a great job in my opinion especially since the hours and pay are the least of my concerns all things considered.

I did get some advice which I wasn't sure about it's effect on my performance when I started writing this this afternoon. I only had about half a half shift (2 hours) to test it out yesterday before I started writing this. It did seem to help a little. I got one sale/donation almost immediately (the timing if not the actual "sale" being a fluke) and two more that "bit" but then fell off the hook. I mentioned that - the 2 could have beens not the 1 donation - to the manager and to his credit he called it progress. The donation was only $30 but it was better than a kick in the head.

Then today, I actaully managed about 5 sales/donations for a total of $130 or $10 above the amended amount the manager told me I should be reaching daily on average and only $30 below what we were originally told is the sales "goal". One of these sales was even to an "ethnic." lady (who had her young daughter pass along the info!) & which is a hard sale to make as "ethnic" women always seem to want to talk to their husbands. Now that I think about it, one of my two sales on the day of "the talk" - albeit before the talk I think - was to an older lady who gave the I'm a pensioner, ie. obviously I can't afford it speech before saying why not to one of my few pre-talk successful rebuttals.

So I guess I'm saying considering the day and a half (part-time hours) that I've worked since being put on notice I'm getting better. Hopefully it isn't an aberation and the success continues and the advice is truly responsible for the seeming turn-around. As for what the advice was, I was told that my voice was all over the place (not his exact words which I don't remember) but basically meaning it is high-pitched and up and down, up and down in intonation. He actually drew me a picture of my voice! LOL. The word I would use to describe his picture with is - "wavy". So the advice was to do something that they don't usually want people to do, which is to try to be more monotone. Again, LOL.

The other thing he told me that was funny (or would be funnier if my job weren't on the line) was that my pitch/spiel sounded like I was "telling people a fairy-tale". Like I told my friend Debbie when I told her about "the talk", I wish by fairy-tale it meant that my voice was so mesmerizing that I could hypnotize people into giving me $100-$150 at a time, on credit card no less. You are getting very sleepy, when you awaken you will give me money and lots of it and you will use our preferred method of payment! LOL.

Finally, I promised in the previous post that I would talk a bit about movies/tv. and some stuff like that. I will keep this part s-o-m-e-w-h-a-t short since this is probably the epic of all epic posts possibly exceeding the Life At LiveBridge posts in their three part entirety! I saw both Life As We Know It with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel & Due Date with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifanakis back to back at the discount theatre last weekend. Enjoyed both. Due Date probably slightly more. Then again maybe not.

LAWKI ended abruptly. DD was ok with one r-e-a-l-l-y funny scene with the dog in the car when they were trying to sleep in it and a few other sorta funny things most of which were in the trailer I think. Actually, LAWKI's funniest scene was probably the one of the baby getting "shoved" by the "doofus" that was also in the trailer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed them for what they were. I'm a reasonably easy audience. I love movies.

Tonight I saw the new replacement for Larry King Live which is called Piers Morgan Tonight I think. Not only do I like Piers Morgan (who I "met" on the Celebrity Apprentice Season that he won) but his guest was Ricky Gervais who I also like. Unfortunately, I didn't see the Golden Globes which RG hosted and was apparently wickedly funny and irreverent on.

Also, unfortunately I only saw part of the interview and without the sound (but with captions) as I was at McDonalds for a late dinner. The bright side I guess is if I were at home I probably wouldn't have had the tv on/known that PM's show was on and that RG was the guest. So I should be grateful because now that I know about it maybe I can find the interview on youtube.

Till next time. Hopefully, there will be more posts and fewer paragraphs per post. I counted over 50-60 here (including the 1,2,3,4 line ones as well as the bigger ones). LOL. That means its actually probably only 1-1/2 to 2 of the LiveBridge posts if I remember their length correctly. LOL. Anyway, hope to be back sooner rather than later but as I've learned - no promises.


P.S. This is Post 105.

P.P.S. I neglected to mention considering again that the title of the post refers to my missed anniversary anything about not making my anniversary date bet deadline. I missed it by "only" 20. But in fairness, I kind of gave up several months before and I had a good opportunity to mine people at my new job. Then again, it might be a good thing if not everybody there knows all about me. LOL.

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