Saturday, March 06, 2021

Be Careful What You Wish For


 So, wow, this week was crazy.

The paperwork thing continued, as well as wall-to-wall meetings.

Anyway, Thursday night we discover that my drain pipe has once again gotten blocked, flooding a bit of my basement. If you forgot, this what was happened the first time around:

So I figure the root has made its way back into our pipe. Awesome. I call Roto in the morning and they say they can get someone out right away. They can't quote a price--the rep will come out and take a look, and quote me a price, and I can say yes or no, and it's free if I say no.

Okay. Only problem is, nobody's home at my house to deal with the guy but me, and I'm working from 9am on. I have a meeting at 10am. I tell my dad, and he says he can come by and deal with the guy.

The guy shows up early though, so I'm forced to go deal with him. I leave my computer on so it'll let me know if I get any Teams invites. I let the other tester know I can't make the meeting, and we reschedule it for later.

The roto guy tells me it's gonna cost $689 for him to run the thing to clean the pipe. I'm like, holy fucking shit that's expensive. Back in 2016 it was like $500, which I thought was crazy expensive. I got no choice, so I say go ahead.

He runs it, and sure enough, starts hauling out roots. He clears the whole thing and leaves, says a camera guy will come by shortly to scope it and make sure it's clear. My dad shows up by then, so I'm back and forth from my computer to the camera guy when he shows. He runs the camera, and this time does something different from last guy--he finds the hole in my pipe, marks it, and then we go outside with some device that finds where it is in my yard. It's like 3 feet out from the front hedge of my house.

Then he gives me the options. Cheapest is a descale--basically they just go through and scrape the pipe hardcore. That costs $3K. Yeah.

Next is a patch. They insert some sort of heavy duty patch that will completely seal the pipe and make sure the root "is never a problem again". (this is what he tells me) But then the quote says it's guaranteed for a year. That's not "never". This would cost $9K. I shit you not.

Best case is to spend $10K, and they'll dig up my yard, cut out the bad pipe and replace it with good pipe, and we "never have to worry about it again". That's guaranteed for 5 years. I think we have different ideas of what NEVER means.

None of these are gonna happen. Hell, our roof has been leaking pretty bad into our attic, so that we now have some lines in our ceiling. THAT is what I'd spend $10K on if I had $10K lying around. Next on the list is new windows, because I'm not joking--two of my windows are held up with wood. I did it nicely so you can't tell from outside, but still. The top panes just fell down, because these windows are fucking 30 years old.

Now that I'm making some dough though, this stuff is a possibility of doing.

Anyway, finished Friday--worked a little later since I wasn't around the whole time, though I don't think anybody noticed. I'd guess that I was probably supposed to take paid time off during that, but nobody's told me shit about that, and I DID work an extra hour Thursday(the other tester met me for an hour from 5pm-6:10 to show me some of the work environments).

Then today--Saturday--I had an auction. I was hoping it wouldn't run that long, but I got there to set up at 9:45am, and the auction lasted until 8pm. Keep in mind that I can't eat any real food from 11am until it ends. (I munch on peanuts and candy)

So this was a roughly 55 hour work week.


On top of all that, I have to come home and finalize all the shit with my book coming out Tuesday. I had to make an ad for that horror app that's like FB. I don't wanna name it cuz I don't wanna end up in searches, but it rhymes with Flasher. They do very cheap advertising, so I figured I'd try it once.

Then HWA puts any members new stuff up for free in their New Works From Members section, but they require a landing page that they can direct people to, not the actual page listing. So I had to go make one of those real quick, which is this:

Took me like 30 minutes, cuz I had to make those graphics the right size. I have no idea how it looks on most browsers, but it looks fine on both of mine. Prolly won't load on mobile devices, but neither will my main site. I ain't fucking with mobile formatting, I don't have the time.

Then back to my A-zon dash to publish the print version. I settled on glossy. The poll of everyone I know was solidly split. Most people were like "I like BOTH of them, so can't choose."

Know how I finally decided? I held both of them out wide and asked my dog which one she liked. She went to the glossy, so I said fuck it, good enough.

Not enough stuff? Turns out I sold some eBay shit this week, now I gotta pack that up and get ready to mail it.

Holy fuck, where'd my free time go?

 Someone should make me these cupcakes.



Wednesday, March 03, 2021

First Week Of Work


                                                                         I know, what?

This week was nerve wracking, and it's only half over. Going into this on day one with literally no idea what I'd be doing or how any of it is set up made me pretty anxious. If you know me, you know I like going into every situation over-prepared. I mean, I go to Burger King and I've already plotted out three different scenarios for what I'm doing if there's an issue getting dinner there.

Yes, I guess I'm a bit anal about that stuff, but I am Aric Blue. (also funny, my actual title at the company has the word ANAL in it: Quality Assurance Analyst. I asked for Quality Assurance Oralist but they turned me down)

It's just glorified terms for software tester anyway.

Turns out, much of what I do the first week is fill out MOUNTAINS of paperwork. I'm not joking. They sent me six documents to fill out and sign, scan and return, and before I'm even done those, they sent me another three. Along with those was a checklist of videos I have to watch, take tests on, download certificates of completion for, and upload to them.

I'm not gonna go into details because it's a lot of govt crap. Stuff on classified and unclassified shit, things like that. My favorite part of one of the videos was talking about the dangers of social media web sites and they showed like 5 of these dangerous web sites, and one is Myspace.

Then there's tons of meetings, like never ending meetings. Some planned, others just pop up into existence suddenly on the MS Teams calendar. (that's the other thing--I have zero experience with Office 365, and everyone here seems to assume I do, so it's been a quick dive into figuring this stuff out)

The part I've liked best so far is another actual tester I've been meeting with during each day. He's shown me some of the actual work they're doing, and it definitely seems like stuff right up my alley. I just have to figure out the protocols and rules they have about it all. I'd go into detail, but it would bore the shit out of you.


Still waffling on glossy or matte for my book. I gotta make that decision in the next couple of days. I can always change it later though.

On the complete-dickhead news front, this asshat decided to put up my screenplay for FOC on A-zon for sale under HIS name. First off, this screenplay is free on a couple of web sites--I provided it to them years ago when asked. I had hosted it on my web site for free, so I guess the dude just downloaded it.

He also had a bunch of other copyrighted scripts to movies and TV shows, like ones that are NOT low budget. 

I filed a copyright thing against him. They didn't take it down very fast(and even had sent a thing asking for further proof or something, which I did.) Stewie tweeted about it and it disappeared after that, so he's taking credit for it. I'm fine with it, as long as this asshat is gone.

And he said they actually sold one through their affiliate link, which leads me to wonder why anybody would pay for something they could find for free online with a 2 second search, but also...should I just upload this thing to A-zon for sale? 

Dunno. My work break is over, back to it. Another meeting on tap.



Saturday, February 27, 2021

Reap The Whirlwind


 Wow...I thought I was busy a couple of days ago.

Still going through that course. And it gets very complicated, because the guy teaching it is clearly a genius in many computer languages and theories, and he rolls through them like YOU'RE a genius at them. Hey, I'm pretty good with many of them, but it's been a while so some of this shit is hard to figure out.

I'm not gonna try too hard to understand some of it until I find out whether I need to.

The laptop they sent was supposed to be to me on Friday, but never showed up. FuckEx sent a new estimate saying it'll show up on Monday, but I'm supposed to tele-meet the IT guy at 9am so he can help me set up all the security protocols. That'll be interesting cuz I'm not gonna have the laptop by 9am I don't think.

It has occurred to me that over the years I've wondered what it would have been like if I'd not gone into filmmaking, and had instead pursued the computer science degree I originally had gone for, and that this is sort of that what if coming true, only 30 years later.


Watched Galaxy Quest with the kid tonight. Man, what a great movie. Such a bummer that they never did a sequel, and now if they even wanted to, Rickman's dead. 


The novella release date approaches. I had to get the press release done, and now I'm just waiting for the right moment to send it to some places.

A-zon told me that I can't put a pre-order date on a paperback that they're printing. My usual way of publishing there is to make the print version, then you just tell it to create a kindle version from that, and it's all linked together.

Instead, I've had to move to the kindle version, upload that stuff, set the pre-order date, and it's up online now. Then a couple of days before that, I need to submit the paperback version. They can't give an exact date where it'll be ready to order, so it could show up a day or two before or after the kindle release date.

Speaking of that, I got the first proofs I ordered. They're matte cover. They look good. But I'm wondering whether glossy would be better. So I ordered two glossies, and they showed up. Made the choice even harder, because I like both but for different reasons.

I started taking a poll, showing them to people, and right now it's split nearly dead even. I put a poll on Twitter, and like 40 people have seen the poll, and only 2 people have responded. Wtf is it with people? Click the button and vote, man. It's easy.

So I'm still not sure which version I'm going to do. The other issue is that the cutting of the covers is off by a tiny bit, but enough that my graphic guy went ballistic. A couple of the proofs, the front cover goes nearly halfway into the spine. I complained to A-zon, and they apologized, refunded me, and say they'll talk to quality control.

But they didn't answer any of my questions about why this happened or if they could guarantee it's not going to happen on the actual books they sell.

I did my final read through and edit, and for fuck's sake, found a couple more typos. It's nuts. I've read this book 100 times, so I'm not sure how they keep slipping through the cracks.

On the details thing, if I sell this novella for $3.99 paperback, I make like $.35 per book. $4.99 puts it up to a massive $.65. The kindle's a little better, more or less coming in at either a flat 35% or--and this has rules--I can take 70% of the cover price, but I have to pay "delivery fees" on the electronic data, as well as allow it to be part of the lending program.

Until it's all set up, they can't tell me just how much the delivery fees will be.

So I mean, ain't nobody getting rich off of A-zon by selling books except for A-zon.



Thursday, February 25, 2021

Holy Crap Busy, got word that March 1st is my first day of work. They sent me hundreds of pages of stuff regarding security, policies, clearances, and more. Had to set up all the crap I haven't had to set up in years, like benefits, deductions, health care plans, etc.

Also been going through this 11 hour course on SQL. It's not a complicated language, but it can get complicated based on how complicated the tables are, and how many tables there are.

I'm still not sure what I'll be doing at this job, so that makes me a little nervous.

They're sending me a laptop, and I do get a cell phone and parking stipend, though I'm really hoping to not need the parking one much. If I have to go to work, it's in Arlington VA.

Also had a video shoot this week for the auction company, which I edited and uploaded in record time. I let them know about the job, and they took it pretty well. If things work out, they'll only have to replace me on the away auctions. 

Also finalizing all the stuff with the novella I'm putting out. I got the proof with a matte cover, and wasn't sure if that's what I wanted, so I just ordered the glossy covers and had to pay extra to get them to me fast. I got them today. I dunno, I'm still a little torn on it.


Today's dickery involves this. I heard about it a couple of days ago:

Notice there's nothing on there about pre-ordering it. I didn't search the store to see if they were up there for pre-order, I just went through some pages of their stuff, which are very cool.

Anyway, they went on sale today at noon. I set my alarm to get up because I wanted one of the plex glass ones. I got up on time, came down, kept reloading the store until I saw the posters. I clicked on the one I wanted, it took me to paypal, I checked how I wanted to pay---

--and it suddenly said SOLD OUT. The time was 12:01, one minute after they went on sale. That's when I noticed the pre-order buttons, which leads me to think that maybe they were up there somewhere for pre-order?

I quickly went back and BARELY got the regular lenticular version  of the art-print ones. Not as good, but should still be cool. I'll have to frame that bad boy.

Still, I'm a little pissed I missed the one I wanted.



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Starship Army


Went out for V-Day to Longhorn. Not our normal V-Day place, but we do like it there. We went a couple of days after the holiday so we didn't have to wait a long time. Turns out, we didn't have to wait at all.

The steak was awesome as usual. (a little undercooked, so I sent it back and said just put it on for a SECOND more--I like it pink but not raw, there needs to be a description between Medium and Medium Well, cuz nobody seems to be able to do that)

We came home and watched a flick I hadn't seen in 20 years--Peggy Sue Got Married. First off, had no idea Coppola directed it. Second, man, the stars in it. Helen Hunt. Jim Carrey. Joan Allen. That weird looking dude from all of Stephen Somers movies, who plays a hunky dreamboat in this--which makes me wonder when his career went from hunky dreamboat roles to strange dudes. I only remembered the two leads in the film, so it was surprising. 

Next night, put on Starship Troopers 4K for me and the kid. He'd never seen the film, and I'm not sure he liked it that much. He doesn't enjoy when characters get killed, so I'm gonna have to order the DNA test kits, cuz he might not be mine.

I'm gonna play him Army of Darkness tonight. Hell, it's Ash Wednesday, so it's appropriate.


Haven't heard anything job-wise yet. I finished the book I was reading for it, and did quite a bit of the SQL training course.



Saturday, February 13, 2021

Big News


 And no, not Valentine's Day, known as Valentimes Day when my wife says it. (and I give her shit every time)

To catch you up--I'd applied for a real job, did interviews, was offered said job contingent on me being able to get a clearance. Seemed dicey.

A couple of weeks ago--can't remember if I put it here--but my buddy called and told me that I hadn't gotten the interim clearance. That would have let me start working right away while they ironed out the actual one. My buddy said don't sweat it, he didn't get the interim one either but it did take them two YEARS to finalize his.

So I'm thinking, fuck, gotta wait two years to find out?

Today I saw he was calling me, and I thought "Fuck, guess I didn't get it."

Turns out, I did. So now they're looking to place me with a team in the company, so I could start actual work in the next two weeks. Now the dicey part is that I still work for the auction company. Some of that work I can continue to do if I want to--it's on Wednesday nights and weekends, both times that I have free from the real job.

But the videos I shoot and edit for them? I'm not sure when or if I will have time to do those. They would have to make some big accommodations--as in, we'd have to shoot them on the weekend, and they'd need to give me a lot of time to edit them, something they're not great about. (the last videos were shot 9 days before the actual auction)

Now I have to dig in hard core on learning MYSQL. I'd looked into it when they wanted to hire me--doesn't seem complicated as computer languages go--hell, it's not really a programming language really, which is why I guess it's called Structured Query Language rather Structured Programming Language, which would not make a good acronym(SQL is frequently pronounced SEQUEL--hell, the original acronym was actually Structured English QUEry Language) and also would be redundant, as programming languages are all structured.


Saw a pretty entertaining little movie called Wolf of Snow Hollow. It's a bit quirky, and features some very interesting editing that keeps the pace of the movie going strong. With funny yet tragic characters, and a mystery on top. I don't know anything about the writer/actor/director/editor, but he's pretty talented. I'm gonna look into some of his other stuff.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Novella Cover


So after going back and forth a million times, I've got the finished cover. I've submitted it all to A-zon and ordered print proofs so I can see if it looks good. They arrive next week.

Anyway, if ya wanna have a good laugh then let's take a look at what I gave him. I didn't mess with the back cover at all, knowing he'd do a bunch of work so why bother? This is what I gave him, and I think we can all agree that it's pretty good if I was a twelve year old.

So his first shot at the front looked like this, and it was already looking way better, though not quite as 80's mine:

Then he sent this one, and I'm digging it but still on the fence about the title not looking quite 80's enough. 

We went back and forth for a while and then oddly he sent me this one--saying he more or less randomly placed the girl image--he was asking me about something he did to the text, but I LOVED the positioning. It seemed way more mysterious and frightening.

He thought I was crazy, but went with me. Then he went to the back cover, and it looks more or less like this now:

I've blurred out the quotes since I'm gonna let Stewie do a cover reveal for his web site. I think we can all agree it's just a TINY bit better than mine... :)

Anyway, fingers crossed that the proofs look good. Then I'd make it live as a preorder to go on actual sale like March 8th or so. Kind of excited.

The part I'm not excited about is just how little you make on print books. If I sell this novella(125 pages for $3.99, I will make six cents per copy. If I sell it for $4.99, I will make $.65 per copy. Amazon takes a pretty hefty chunk...