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Nice little update package from Microsoft today…

October 1, 2004, 1:00 AM

I updated my Windows this evening to all the latest stuff from Microsoft. This means new service packs, incorporating a bunch of new features. Don’t know what half of them do, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

Only things I’ve really messed with are the ones of immediate concern to me (read: annoying features). I fixed the pop-up blocker to not chime and throw a message up when it finds one. I don’t need to know about the ad I just missed that badly. Just a little icon in the corner is all I need. I also fixed it where I can still play flash animations that I’ve got saved on my computer without an extra “OK”. That was a bother before I found the switch to turn that off. I save flash animations from the Internet onto my computer when I find something interesting. I have my favorites that I watch periodically.

My comment above about “…incorporating a bunch of new features. Don’t know what half of them do…” reminds me of Tim Allen’s stand-up act. He says something like, “I bought a [tool]. What does it do? I don’t know. Looks good on that pegboard, though.” Then he goes on to say, “And where did I get it? Sears!” Tim Allen seems to like tools from Sears.

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Categories: Computer, Walmart

There should be a shirt: “I survived inventory”

September 28, 2004, 5:56 PM

We at Wal-Mart just finished having inventory. Fun. A company comes in and counts everything we’ve got. Meanwhile, it was slow at the Service Desk, which made things go smoothly.

I’m just glad it’s over. Now things can get back to normal, plus I have a day off. Don’t know what I’m going to do yet – thinking about going out, though. We’ll see.

Categories: Walmart

And for you doubters, I can sing, though how well is left to the opinion of innocent bystanders…

September 20, 2004, 1:58 AM

This is my third journal entry in the same evening! I must have a lot to talk about.

Anyway, though, in the Garden Center at work, which is rapidly going from garden stuff to Christmas stuff, there is a small display in the center of the open space. There are four mechanical dancing Santas. For the most part. One is Santa Claus himself. One is a bear in a Santa suit. One is the Grinch in a Santa suit. And the last one is a snowman. These things are about a head shorter than me, and swing their hips, move their arms, turn their heads, and the Santa and the snowman move their mouths. They sing canned songs, but then they also have a jack for a microphone on them, where you can sing into the mic, which causes the heads to turn and the mouth to move.

After clocking out at work, I headed over to the Garden Center to check it out, and discovered the display, and noticed that it was plugged in, and a microphone was sitting there.

See where this is going?

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Categories: Today's Special, Walmart

Something tells me that Kmart is getting desperate…

September 12, 2004, 12:10 AM

Something just tells me that the Kmart in Waynesboro is desperate for business. As I was leaving Wal-Mart this evening, I saw a row of picket-style signs stuck in the ground along Lucy Lane across from Wal-Mart. What did they say? Look at this mock-up of it that I did (it was too dark for a photo).

Kmart sign

These signs are indeed right across the street from Wal-Mart. Seems we at Wal-Mart have been doing something right, and we’re beating the pants off of the Big Kmart down the road. The two stores are out of sight of each other, and about a mile or two away.

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Categories: JMU, Walmart

With all the rain we’ve been having…

September 9, 2004, 2:06 AM

I’m going to Washington DC today, and it’s probably going to be a soggy day, based on the looks of things.

Doesn’t bother me. Means I’ll get to see a lot of Mode 2 operation (Mode 2 is manual with speed protection).

Mom was concerned about all the rain. So I cited that strange dream I had back in February (according to this journal, February 19, entitled “Your assignment: Figure out where this dream came from”). It’s the one where I went Metro kayaking. I still think that’s one darn strange dream, and if I recall, at the time the people on SubTalk thought it was off-the-wall, too. And in that dream, if I recall, paddling a Breda down the water was for the less-experienced while rafting with a Rohr was the more challenging.

What’s odd, though, is how much that matches the actual trains. According to a few train operators I’ve spoken with, the Rohrs have some really weird quirks that make them more challenging to operate. Bredas are much less quirky.

Ah, well.

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Categories: Television, Walmart, WMATA

“THIS IS THE SERVICE DESK! STEP AWAY FROM THE RETURNS AND KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!”

September 2, 2004, 11:43 PM

Yeah, when it gets slow as the night continues on, we get a tad silly. Our scanners at the Service Desk are handheld and wireless, and are somewhat gun-shaped. And when an associate held up an item so I could scan it to find out what department it was in, I kind of hammed it up a little. Took my scanner gun, held it with both hands, aimed, and fired at the item in question. Zap.

When I saw the associate was amused, I hammed it up a little more, posing and jokingly saying, “This is the Service Desk! Step away from the returns and keep your hands up!”

Yeah, we’re nutty. Good, harmless fun. And it works even better with a telxon (pronounced TEL-a-zon), since those things have a longer business-end than our scanners do.

As you can tell, I had a really good day today. I also went over to SmartStyle (in-store hair place) on my lunch break and got my ears lowered. And just to illustrate how much hair I needed to get cut off, I now have a very neat and attractive haircut (can’t keep the girls off me!). But before lunch, I was so shaggy that I could have made great money renting myself out as a mop. I was really shaggy.

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“One person. One life. One Web site.”

August 20, 2004, 10:32 PM

Still working on redesign ideas, and I think I’ve come up with a theme for the redesigned site. Some sort of overarching theme for the Web site. Something that will stick in your mind. Something, at least. When I originally thought this up in the shower this morning (all my great Web ideas are thought up in the shower, but few actually leave the shower), I originally thought it up as, “One person. One Web site.” But that sounded too much like, “One person, one vote.” And while this is a presidential election year (SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE: Vote for John Kerry!), that’s not exactly what we’re going for on this Web site, which tries for the most part to keep politics out of frame. (The trick now is to say that with a straight face after I write my next quote article.) So I threw in “One life” in order to make it more personal, and as a reminder that this site is now more so than ever a 360-degree view of my life. So we’ll see how far that goes in the redesign, and how it turns out in the end. I do like that phrase…

Speaking of my life, though, my one hard drive is going to have to become multiple CDs sooner rather than later. I’m out of disk space! An 80-gigabyte hard drive, and I managed to fill ‘er up. Mostly with stuff from Big Mavica, which is a testament to how much use Big Mavica gets. Realize I’ve had to cut stuff on my computer to fit in three out of the last four photo sets. So we’re against the wall, as I’ve cut just about everything I am willing to cut. Time to burn CDs. This is going to hurt.

I also realized how few CD-Rs I have. I thought I had a big spindle of them. Turns out I was imagining one like my sister has as being one of mine. So that sucks. I have maybe ten blank CD-Rs in my possession, in a half-sized spindle, after realizing that my “stash of CDs”, which I had “hidden so well” was a lot smaller than I thought it was.

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Things we do on our off-days…

July 28, 2004, 8:37 PM

I was off yesterday and today, and it was quite an interesting time. The highlight of the days off was going to Roanoke on Tuesday afternoon and evening. I did some very minor photography, mostly night photography at Mill Mountain Park, home of the Roanoke Star. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just a certain draw to that location for photographing it at night. The only problem is that with the warmer months, darkness comes later, and thus I get far less time topside before they kick us out of the park at 11 PM (that’s when the gates close) than I would during the winter when it gets dark at like five.

Still, I managed to get a few gems. My only major problem up at the star this time was children. Elementary-aged children running around doing child-type stuff, getting in my way, tromping around on the wooden overlook platforms, messing up more than one shot. One child actually bumped my tripod, creating a double image with some strange trails on it.

On this trip, I also realized why winter is the better time for visiting the Roanoke Star. Besides there being more dark up there at night, the leaves are gone from the trees, permitting us to see more of the area. Foliage is a big blocker, let me tell you.

And then after I was finished at the star, I went over to Hooters, where I had a meal, and also got into a conversation with Cierra, one of the Hooters girls, about the Metro in DC, MARTA in Atlanta, and other transit-type topics. Also found out that Roanoke indeed does have transit service – a bus service called Valley Metro. I will have to chase this and photograph service one of these days. It may be more difficult than I would like it to be, considering that I had never even seen buses in Roanoke before this trip. Still, we’ll figure it all out in the end. May pair it up with the BT in Blacksburg.

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Soy? What’s the problem?

July 26, 2004, 2:24 AM

Well, my Sunday at work was a sweet-and-sour day. And it didn’t even have anything to do with work.

My day was quite a good day up to my lunch break. On my lunch, I bought one of my usual lunch picks, as well as something new I saw in the produce cooler. It was a vanilla chai tea with serious amounts of soy protein.

So I rang it all up on the self-checkout, and went off to the breakroom, where I decided to first enjoy the tea. I drank that down, and boy, was I sick. That was it. It did NOT agree with me, and I was miserable the rest of my lunch break. I don’t think my system settled for some hours after work ended. But goodness, I felt hideous. Not enough to go home early, but still, you could tell I was a touch out of it.

Needless to say, I’m never having that again. I don’t know what it is about soy. I used to drink soy milk all the time, and it would always agree. Then I had one soy milk that did not agree earlier in the year. I had at the time attributed it to drinking it too fast. This time I didn’t drink it fast, so who knows why it didn’t agree with me. And why soy has turned on me lately, I don’t know, especially since I used to drink soy milk a lot. Who knows…

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Categories: Food and drink, Myself, Walmart

The deck construction continues!

July 23, 2004, 10:18 AM

I had forgotten what it was like being in a place where construction was occurring on the outside of the building. I think that the last time I lived around construction was from 2000-2002, when, while I was living in Potomac Hall, JMU built Phase II of the College Center (aka “The Festival”). Then there was the time in 1993 at Stuarts Draft Middle School when they built on eight new classrooms while school was in session (but doing all the tie-in work after school was out for the summer).

But now it’s at home, and there is a group working on our new screened-in porch, which has replaced the old deck. It has also incorporated the structure of the old deck, as the workers didn’t demolish the framework, but built new framework around it. Right now there’s no roof on there yet, nor any evidence that one will be there yet except for tall support columns holding nothing at this point.

It’s been a few days since I’ve taken photos due to my work schedule. I took photos on Monday and Tuesday, then haven’t taken any since then. Next I photograph will probably be on Saturday or Sunday. I’m going to show you the progress photos in a Life and Times photo set. That will be neat.

Otherwise, my Washington DC trip on Wednesday went really well! I have now officially railfanned the entire system at the railfan window, and also visited all 83 operating Metro stations. There are three stations currently under construction that will open at the end of this year, which I will be visiting soon after they open. Still, that’s quite an accomplishment, no? Riding into Branch Avenue station at the extreme southern end of the Green Line and saying, “I did it!”

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“I’m gellin like a felon!”

July 20, 2004, 8:17 PM

There is no further proof that I spend way more than my fair share of time at Wal-Mart than the fact that I can recite so many of the commercials that they run on the loudspeaker. For instance, Dr. Scholls:

Guy: Hey, Ellen, are you gellin?
Girl: I’m gellin like a felon! Are you gellin?
Guy: I’m gellin. Want some melon?

I also learned that my coworkers also have heard it too many times, too. I casually asked a couple of coworkers if they were “gellin”, and I consistently was told, “I’m gellin like a felon!” And then we all got a good laugh out of it.

Still, we who work at Wal-Mart have heard everything that loudspeaker has done, and heard it numerous times. I still remember when three of us at the Service Desk all sang “Lean On Me” when it came over the PA system. The Service Desk Choir, we were.

Then there’s also the ads for West Nile Virus (informing everyone to get bug spray with deet), and the credit builder tip of the week. I could recite those to you, too.

Categories: Walmart

Photos of the Skyline Parkway Motel fire, and some other stuff

July 15, 2004, 1:56 PM

First of all, before I start showing you photos, guess who I saw on Tuesday afternoon at Wal-Mart. I saw Mrs. Kucs (pronounced “kooch”), my sixth grade math teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School. That was a lot of fun. She’s retired now, so I don’t see her around SDMS when I go visit. Still, Mrs. Kucs was a great teacher. The one phrase that has stayed with me that I learned from Mrs. Kucs was “That will be fifty whacks with a wet noodle!” All in all, great math teacher, and it was great to see Mrs. Kucs again.

Anyway, after seeing Mrs. Kucs as I was leaving work, I headed out to Afton Mountain and then beyond. Going to Afton, I went by way of downtown Waynesboro, because I had a few other photo spots I wanted to hit on the way. For one, the “scar” on the mountain in Waynesboro:

The scar on the mountain in Waynesboro

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Wild weather!

July 2, 2004, 1:21 AM

Boy, did we have some wild weather today! A tremendous thunderstorm came up out of nowhere around 5 PM (literally out of nowhere – it was sunny when I left for work at 1:30). This thunderstorm was amazing. Winds like mad (so I’m told – no windows at Wal-Mart), really heavy rains – enough to hear it on the salesfloor over the din of the customers, lightning like crazy, incredibly loud thunder (one round of thunder was a BOOM like an explosion rather than a rumble), and even hail, which you could hear on the roof.

And then, as one of our CSMs was handing me a flashlight for “just in case the power went off”, no sooner did she say it than the lights went out. Then they came back on. Then they went out for good. Let me say that the many skylights we have came in really handy, as the only parts of our store that were actually dark were the Service Desk and the other various “caves” in the store, like Layaway, the Vision Center, the Portrait Studio, etc. Those areas were dark, but we still had emergency lighting, which helped. But the bulk of the store was still very well lit by natural light.

Since we couldn’t do much at the Service Desk, since our scanners were out of service over there, they pulled me to the registers, where we hurried to get all the customers checked out despite having no belts due to no power (I told customers that I have no belt and that they should put their items at the end of the belt), and the fact that the customers had to be checked out before our backup power went out. We made it, thank goodness.

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Two more things…

June 30, 2004, 12:20 AM

First of all, it’s interesting having my sister working in the same place as me (mind you, though, she’s a cashier and I’m at the Service Desk). Usually if we get off near each other, one waits on the other, and in the case of this evening, we both took our vests home (vs. putting them in our respective lockers). Reason? Me: “I’m doing a load of vests tonight.” You see, I got powdered sugar all over mine after a lady brought up a broken bag of it. I got most of the sugar in the bag, but also managed to sugar-coat the counter, as well as me. So there you go. So as a result of washing our vests, there are two distinct piles on the kitchen counter. One is topped by a name badge saying “BEN”, with “CUSTOMER SERVICE” and “RISK CONTROL TEAM MEMBER” on it. The other, smaller pile is topped by a name badge saying “ANN”. Still, both vests are now hanging to dry.

And otherwise, I met Moreko Griggs at Wal-Mart today. For those of you who don’t know, Moreko Griggs is one of three valedictorians for Waynesboro High School’s class of 2004. There was considerable controversy there about there being three valedictorians, which in the final accounting turned out to be the adults making a big stink about something that those actually involved (Griggs and the other two valedictorians) didn’t see as too big of a deal. Either way, though, it was neat to meet him, as he has become a bit of a local celebrity.

That’s one reason I like working at Wal-Mart. You see everyone, from the famous (Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers was known to shop here occasionally), to local heroes (like Moreko Griggs), to local politicians (I met Waynesboro councilman Reo Hatfield at the grocery fastlanes once). You also see friends and family, as well as repeat customers. It’s neat.

Categories: Family, Walmart

Finally, an off-day!

June 29, 2004, 11:42 PM

Yes, after six straight days, where I worked all four different Service Desk shifts at least once, I finally have gotten another off-day. This Wednesday, I will be going nowhere near my own Wal-Mart. Other people’s Wal-Marts, on the other hand, are a completely different story, as most other Wal-Marts don’t look at all like Waynesboro’s. Most Wal-Marts are gray, red, and blue. Our store is beige and forest green. Our store has black signage and faux-wood floors. Most stores have some sort of blue signage and carpeting.

So I have yet to figure out what tomorrow looks like. Probably not going to go out, but rather I will probably take the opportunity to do some serious work on the Web site. I really need to work on it, since right now I’m behind on a few different projects, including spinning College Life off into its own subsidiary site, working on “The Lights of the Night” group of photo sets, and my “Memories” College Life set.

Otherwise, the phrase “Are your gas bills so high they make you want to cry?” is just perfect for me. To fill up the Previa costs almost $30 with these astronomical gas prices. And my car isn’t even one of those gas-guzzling SUVs.

Now sport-utility vehicles aren’t helping the price of gas, either. If people would all get small, fuel-efficient cars, maybe we could all get more for our money as far as gas goes. I know that when I eventually replace the Previa, I will be getting a small car, preferably a station wagon.

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