a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies


I Watched Them Pass Me By

I'm gonna start out by saying that if you've never gotten the kind of gadget lust that leads someone to upgrade to the latest and greatest every year, this post may not be for you. Please go ahead and read! But it may not make much sense.

Put simply, I've lost my gadget lust. Not entirely mind you. I watched the presentation today eagerly. I'm planning and hoping to get an iPhone Plus when my contract comes due in October, though I may have to wait a bit. And if someone handed my an Apple Watch I'd be over the moon.

But you know what? I've had the same iPhone for 3 years now, a 4S. Some folks who knew me a while back are shocked at that fact. I used to upgrade all the time. Usually by lining up on launch day. I had a ton of fun doing that. But now the gadget lust has kind of passed me by a bit. Oh, I won't pretend I didn't want a 5 or 5S when they came out. That I didn't try to justify needing a new one before the wedding because mine wouldn't last a day on battery alone. And sure, I picked up a new iPad Air to replace an iPad mini and now want the mini again (always want the one I don't have, you see). But even now I don't feel a great need to upgrade my phone. Sure, mine is older now, barely lasts a battery, and some apps crash it regularly (I'm looking at you, Instagram). But it works. I can charge it at work and carry a charging brick for when I'm out and about.

It's weird though, feeling that lust be gone. I watched the Watch presentation feeling like I was outside looking in. Sure, it looked cool. I'd use it and it'd be fun. It might even make me work out more. And when I have some disposable income and decide I need a new watch, I'll probably get one. But not right away. I won't be lining up or going into debt or anything for it.

The funny thing is, though, I don't begrudge those who do, who lust after these things, who replace them yearly. I really don't. I get it, and I still get a little huffy when someone makes fun of those folks. It's their thing. It's their fandom. Let them have it. It was mine once too, but no longer, really. I'm not sure when it changed. Maybe when I bought the house, or at least when it became this realistic idea in my head. But somewhere it kind of passed me by.

That said, I still have every intention of getting a new iPhone Plus when funds allow. And if I happen to win the lottery or get a higher paying new job soon, you bet your ass I'm buying an Apple Watch (and one for Anna too). And I'll still be thrilled as Hell when I open the new phone, and I'll still marvel at it for a year or so.


Until they release the new one, anyway.

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The Want of the Road Not Taken

I've entered one of those things lately where all I want is something different in my day to day life. Where I lament the fact that, in all likelihood, I'll be working an office job for the next 30-40 years or so.

And I mean, it's fine. I'm grateful for my job, I like it, and I love the idea of HR. It may be that I need to explore taking it off the beaten path, out of the office. That I need to look more into work from home HR jobs, or maybe even something entirely unrelated. Web design? Graphic design? Finally writing one of the 40 novels I have in my head?

The problem is though, in the end, I don't have a passion for those things. What I want, really, is the freedom. The sleep. The ability to not have to go in 9-5 every day. I'm happy to do the work, I am. I think I just wish there was more flexibility to it. I find myself often jealous of many of the housewives I follow on twitter, who work from home, or work primarily on the home. It's hard work, but I feel like in the end it would be more rewarding, somehow. Not that my current work isn't rewarding. It's just…different. I feel like I need a change.

Looks like the laptop must be going off soon. On the plane now, by the way. 

I don't know. I don't know what the answer to this is. I don't know if it's about changing jobs, changing careers entirely, or winning the lottery. It may even just be about finding a shorter commute. A job where I could leave the house a few minutes before work, instead of an hour and a half. Where I could leave my desk and be home in a few short minutes; start on dinner at 5:30 instead of 6:30. 

K, off we go. Not sure I'll post this. We will see.

Editor's Note: This was written a while ago on a plane and never posted. Going through old posts and thought I'd throw it up now. 

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Retail Not So Secrets

A few years ago, I worked for a large retail company that sold high-ish end clothing. I've been thinking about it recently, over the holidays and as I saw a few people from that job around my birthday, and it got me thinking about the things I learned there. I like sharing stories of that time, and I thought I might share a few tidbits that might interest those of you who never worked in retail. 

Though I'm of the opinion that, if only for an appreciation of retail workers, everyone should work in retail at least once.

So, I present for your interest, some less than secret secrets of retail!

  • Don't let anyone ever tell you the computer won't let them do something. 99% of the time it can, but saying it can't is just an excuse to either save the cashier time from doing something complex, or save the manager from having to make the difficult decision to violate policy or not to satisfy you. Every machine I encountered could be overridden, played with, rejigged or just in general smacked around to make it do whatever you wanted it to do. I prided myself on being able to work the cash machine like The Edge works a guitar, making it dance to my every whim to make sure a customer left happily. Course, eventually they tied my hands on that and made it so I needed a manager to do everything, but such is life.
  • The back is not some mystical TARDIS of goods, and an experienced stock person will often be able to tell you with a glance whether or not they have something in stock. They aren't (necessarily) lazy, they may just be really good at their jobs. If you insist someone goes to check in the back when they assure you they have no more, you may be just giving them an excuse to go to back, chat with friends a bit, and pop back out and tell you, gosh darn, they just couldn't find anymore.
  • The person greeting you at the door and forcing you into social interaction is not doing so out of friendliness. Well, they may be, but the primary purpose of that is to deter you from stealing something. The idea here is that if they can lock eyes with you and give you the impression that they've seen your face, well enough for a description to a sketch artist, they can deter you from stealing. It's not a 100% effective loss prevention tactic, I'll grant you, and there is a friendliness and customer service piece to this too, but the LP side of it is a big part, too.
  • When someone asks if they can help you find something while you pick through a pile, it's very possible they're saying "I know how to find that thing without messing up that pile I just spent 20 minutes carefully putting together." Accept their help, please.
  • Retail workers are often measured on carefully calculated metrics that may seem entirely idiotic to you. As a cashier, I was measure on how many people I convinced to join our email newsletter. Others were measured on those who voluntarily filled out surveys and how they scored there. Understand if they bug you about something like that, it's not a personal affront or an attempt to invade your privacy, it's something they may be forced to do. 
  • It's worth asking about discounts, but not pushing for them. If they're there, and available to you, people will give them. I had someone push and push and push for non-existent discounts, to the point of getting on the phone with customer service and still getting nothing. He was polite about it, but was also bragging about how much he was spending, which for the store overall was quite small, though. Not to belittle his purchase, just that the argument that he was spending so much money did not hold much weight there.
  • If you've lost your receipt, there is likely still an option to return or at least get something back. It's worth going in and asking. Often stores can look up your purchase with a credit or debit card, or at least offer you the current selling price in a gift card. It never hurts to ask, but you'll get a lot further asking about a return rather than demanding a return. The same is true if you're outside the return window. It never hurts to ask, and it might be good to call ahead and ask too. It could be things are inflexible, but if you're polite, you might still get something back.
  • You can do everything right, check every possible facet of an item, and still miss a security tag. It happens, and people are human. Pop back into the store, take your receipt if you can, and accept the apology of the worker you get. It likely wasn't them, but they should apologize profusely on behalf of the other worker, anyway. I always did.

So, those are a few fun facts from a few years in retail. Anyone have anything else they'd want to share that I missed?

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Surprising Things About Tom

Following the trend from Lauren, GFM and Emma, I thought I'd try and post a few things about me that might surprise you. I find I've LOVED reading these; partly cause they've been done by 3 of my favourite ladies so far (with more to come, possibly) and partly because sometimes I think those little minute things can really make a person. Particularly what they decide to tell you.

So, a few things that might surprise you about me (and that I may not have mentioned before):

  •  Around February in my second year of uni I started running daily. By July of that year I had dropped almost 50 pounds and was running over 9k a day.
  • love to sing and dance. I am, by most definitions, terrible at both, but if there is a cheesy pop song on that I know and no one is around I will likely belt it out while dancing around the room.
  • For a while in university I considered myself a Buddhist. At this point I'd probably go with agnostic, but distinctly not atheist. I believe there is more to a person than what we can observe with our eyes and what science tells us.
  • I had planned to become a university professor up until 4th year of university, when I realized it wasn't something that excited me.
  • The person I see in the mirror is likely starkly different from the person you see when you look at me. I've only recently started to realize how different that view really is.
  • I love airports, and could spend hours there watching the comings and goings.
  • In drama class at high school I was told I was a really good actor by a few people, and got high marks. I regret to this day not pursuing acting further and being involved with it in university.
  • I have mentally worked out a fanfic continuation of Star Trek, based on the last series' timeline (not the movie) that would see a story arc spread over 20 years and 4 different TV series. Very little of this exists outside my head, but the characters and lore behind are well fleshed out, and if you see me zoning off I may be writing/playing a scene in my head.
  • Similarly, I used to participate in weekly Star Trek chat-based RP sessions with 10-20 people at a time. I rose to the rank of Fleet Captain in the group I ran with, and ran my own ship.
  • I am incredibly uncomfortable, to the point of fear and revulsion, with the idea of my nails being filed.
  • Instead of going into HR I almost started working for the Canadian government. While I slightly regret not jumping on that opportunity (the job, 4 years ago, paid above what I'm making now) I do ultimately think I made the right decision, as without it I wouldn't know so many people I know now.
  • Despite being Canadian, I've never gone snow-boarding or skiing and don't have much interest in either.
  • I also find hockey really boring and dislike the taste of Tim Horton's coffee.
  • I often bemoan, quietly, to myself, the fact that I will never visit Minas Tirith, Rivendell, Balmora, Babylon 5, Ankh-Morpork, Halfhill, Orgrimmar and many others.

There are more things, I'm sure, but that's all I can think of for now, and my lunch break is nearly over. What are some surprising things about you? Why not write your own post?