Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's not wembling; it's rational comparison.

After I made the deposit on my apartment, I learned that I had an option of more than "like it or lump it".  One apartment was available on the second floor, and three on the first (or first and ground floors, if you're reading this in an English-speaking country).  I'm used to living on the second floor, so I don't hear squeaky floors or stomping feet above my head.  However, someone else had requested that apartment, pending approval of their application.  One plus of being on the ground floor will be that the place will be insulated by other units, so my heating and cooling bills might be a bit lower.

The second floor apartment faces west.  I liked that idea, so my houseplants would get sunlight, but then I probably would complain about too much heat in the summer.  The ground floor apartments face either north, south, or east.  I discarded the north-facing apartment because I'd get no sunlight whatsoever.  Thus, would I want east or southern sunlight?

I chose the south-facing apartment.  It turns out that it won't be too warm because, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the patio was already shaded by a Silver Maple that hadn't completely leafed out yet.  (Plus, if that tree ever has to come down, there's already a small Sugar Maple in the lawn due south of the apartment, which should provide backup shade in a few years.)  I should get enough diffused light for my plants yet reap the benefit of shade on my air conditioning bill in the summer.

I didn't take building color into account, but it was a wise choice, as the east-facing apartment looks out onto a crimson-painted building, and it would take some time to get used to.  (Still, I like it better than the yellowish complex across the street.)  The north and south facing apartments are in a gray-painted building (but, if you're inside it, does it matter what color the outside is?), and the west-facing one is in a beige building.

The pictures above were taken by the apartment company.  Once I move in, I'll take some of my own.  For instance, it'll be interesting to see how I can decorate around the mirror wall in the dining area.

That's what I get for opening my mouth.

I should've known better even to sound as if I were complaining.  I now have to do extra work.  Funnily enough, it involves sitting around.  :)

An employee who normally works during athletic events had a family emergency today.  My boss couldn't reach his supervisor, and the guy's coworkers either had games of their own to work or wouldn't answer their phones either.  Guess who it comes down to to work the games?

Actually, my boss and I are splitting the two games, but he chose the earlier one because he says he has farther to drive home than I do.  If I weren't such a nice guy, and if I weren't afraid of being written up for insubordination, I would've said, "Why don't you take the later game, since I'm always up at 4:30 and in the office by 5:30, but we never know if you're going to be in at 6:00 or 7:00 or whenever?"

Worse yet, it's a soccer game.  I know it's the world's most popular sport, but as far as interesting goes, I rank it barely above golf.  I had more fun watching curling at the winter Olympics.  I'm definitely taking a couple of books with me.  (The stadium has lights, so I know I'll be able to see.)

For that matter, I'm not sure why I have to sit through the game, if all I have to do is lock the restroom doors and shut off the lights.  I could just show up at the end of the game and do that.  However, the employee told my boss that he always is on hand.  I don't know what I possibly could do if an emergency arises.  Say a toilet backs up.  I'll end up calling my boss and ask him to call the maintenance manager, who will call the plumbing crew supervisor, who will assign someone to drive out there.  Well, I suppose that's better than a toilet backing up and there being no one to initiate the round of phone calls.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I presume the pace will pick up eventually.

While I was staying with my mom, I reread all of my beloved children's books (and most of hers).  One of my favorite authors/illustrators was Richard Scarry.  One of his many books is called What Do People Do All Day?  In my case, the answer is:  nothing much; sit down a while; maybe move around a little.

I found some more schools today.  That involves sitting in a truck, driving to the school, checking it off on my list, determining my route to the next school, and repeating until two or more hours is filled.  When I got back to the office, I went to the main office and sat there for what turned into four hours, manning the phones while the office staff (who normally woman the phones, and that's not sexist, that's fact) belatedly celebrated Administrative Professionals Day.  I received four phone calls in that time, none of which was an emergency.  (But I got through half of my book.)  By then, it was nearly time to get off work, at which time I tried a different route (the freeways) to my future apartment complex, so I could pay my deposit and measure the rooms.  (It took 20 minutes to drive from work to the complex, a distance of just under ten miles.)  After I finished there, I got stuck in traffic because of road construction.  This time, it took 20 minutes to drive just two miles.

Now, of course, I'm doing nothing but sitting here, exercising my fingers.  It would be tough to write an interesting book about that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I can breathe again!

Why, yes, my cold is all gone now.  Thanks for asking.  I meant, though, that I can relax.  I have received my federal tax refund, so there is money in my NM checking account again.  I could've paid my apartment deposit and bought some groceries anyway, but now I also can reimburse my mom for the credit card bill I expect to arrive at her house any day now.  I'll still be pinching pennies for a while, but I no longer feel the need to panic.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Get Around

I decided to find all the westside schools yesterday (at least the ones southwest of the river).  I lucked out on the first one, which was marked in my city atlas but didn't appear on the school board's map.  (That's because it's a closed site, which we have to mow though the building is unused.)  Then I got lost on my way to all the others.  All the roads go funky right by the interstate, and I kept ending up on the frontage road when I didn't want to be there and couldn't find it later when I needed it (natch).  There were no street signs for quite a ways (about two miles, it turns out), until I saw one that said 61st Street.  Then I saw 62nd, 63rd...  I couldn't turn around until 66th.  (I knew I was heading the wrong direction because I was looking for 33rd.)  After repassing 61st, going in the right direction, I didn't see another sign until 41st!

Of course, you know that I am not still lost since I'm typing this in my hotel room, but it didn't help that, once I was reoriented and knew exactly how to get to the next school, I encountered a construction zone which made me wind through a neighborhood, hoping I could find another way of getting there.  (I did.)

I think I'm finding every durned road construction area in the city (such as a good chunk of 11th Street South today).  I even questioned myself; was my statement merely hyperbole?  Not likely, since I have to find every school, which means I get off my "ant trail" first of all and off primary roads second of all.  Therefore, it is indeed likely that I will find every site where the road is torn up.  Funny, you'd think with all this road construction going on, there wouldn't be so many bad roads in this city.

Naturally, I thought the Beach Boys song would cap off this post quite well.  Naturally, I'm sharing this instead.

Funny Money

I got my first paycheck today, but there were problems with it.  The dollar amount was what it was supposed to be, but there were other things included -- or not included -- in the statement.

First off, I didn't see any withholding for Oklahoma state income taxes.  The office manager said that OK doesn't have income taxes.  What I've seen online, though (from the Oklahoma Tax Commission itself) is that they do.  (I included this question in my e-mail to our H.R. rep.)

Second, under my vacation and sick leave, it lists my eligible time in accrued hours, not as eligible days, and says I'm a non-exempt employee.  (This was the first question for our H.R. rep., as the office manager said someone above her level must have made a mistake.)

As of lunchtime, the H.R. rep. hadn't responded, so I took my check as it was (the dollar amount was okay, after all) and opened my local checking account.  Tomorrow, I'll try to submit my direct deposit authorization.  That is, if I can get into the payroll system and verify my address and phone number first.

Incidentally, while I was providing my information to donate blood at work today, the computer locked up completely.  I said it was my fault and explained that I might be a wizard, since I make computers go all wonky.  At the bank, the teller's computer was running slowly, and he kept apologizing, but I didn't bother explaining to him.

Come to think of it, the next time someone asks why I'm reluctant to use technology, it probably would sound better if I said I was a wizard, and not just old-fashioned.  At the very least I'll sound interesting instead of pathetic.

[Side note to Betty:   I can do wibbly-wobbly, apparently, but I have just one heart, so I probably can't handle timey-wimey.]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Or should I choose Door #3?

Just when I thought things couldn't get better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint) on the apartment-hunting front, I found another viable option.  This place appears well kept-up, the manager was engaging and seemed to care about the property (not just a leasing agent who talks up valueless perks like DVD's to borrow for free and a "business center", and who is trying to sell you a lease), and the price is ideal.  The negative of this site is merely the fact that it increases my tendency to wemble when faced with a choice.

If you'd care to give any advice, here are the properties in a nutshell.  (They are numbered in order of visit, not any sort of ranking.)  Apartment #1 is $0.66/sq. ft. ($465 for 700 sq. ft.), has a washer and dryer in the unit, and is about 14 miles from work.  Apartment #2 is $0.64/sq. ft.  ($479 for 750 sq. ft.), costs $1.00 each to wash and dry in the laundry room, and is about 3 miles from work.  Apartment #3 is $0.59/sq. ft. ($415 for 700 sq. ft.), costs $1.50 each to wash and dry in the laundry room, and is about 9.5 miles from work.

On the basis of those numbers, #3 is the best overall price and area cost, and #2 has the edge on proximity to work.  About all that #1 has to recommend it is the convenience of not carrying laundry, detergent, and quarters out the door.

Or should I start calling places out of the phone book?

Nothing like a virus to take the edge off a kid.

I slept last night!  I must have been just the right blend of sick and tired that I finally had a good night's sleep.  (One dream was darkly strange, though.)

I also wonder if my cold is on its way out already.  When I woke up, one of my nostrils was usable, and I haven't had to blow my nose very much yet.  Mind you, with one nostril plugged, it sounded as if I were breathing like a Sleestak, but I should be grateful to have the use of one nostril.

That sounds like a dance craze, doesn't it?  "Everybody do the Sleestak!"  Or maybe a horror movie.  Or maybe you could combine the two and make a horror movie about dance crazes.  You could call it Sleestaks on a Plane.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's cold in them thar lack-of-hills!

‘Tis yet another cold, misty, windy day which makes me wonder why everyone thinks this area is in a drought.  It was a fine day to stay warm and dry in my office and nurse my cold.  Of course, that couldn't happen.  I had to go to a school because the crew phoned to report that some doorknob tried to pass their truck while they were stopped for the crossing guard to escort a child across the street, and the guy's car scraped against their truck.  I didn't see the damage to the guy's car, but the truck had very minor scratches at the rear corner of the flatbed.  (The guy got a ticket, too.)  I hadn't even had time to meet with the crew leader who was going to show me how to fill out an accident form for what had happened yesterday!

On a happier note, I found an inexpensive apartment this afternoon, that I thought I could live in.  The place was shabby but cared for.  I don't know why I was amenable to it today, but other days I might say, "Couldn't you patch that better?  This place is a dump!"  (Untrue – the place I had visited immediately before had a hole in the office's entry wall which hadn't been patched.)  Then I went to the place across the street, which I had found online but, for some reason, didn't put on my list to visit, and found it charming.  It costs $14 a month more than the other place I like, and it doesn't have a washer and dryer in the unit, but it's a lot closer to work.  At the current, local gas price ($3.10/gal.), $14 would be just 1/5 of my tank.  I'm fairly certain I'd spend more than that with a longer commute.  (I just have to hope I don't need to do laundry so badly that I can't avoid walking to the laundry room on rainy or snowy days.)  I still have more places to visit, but I'm now at two possible apartments.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way back to the hotel and noticed that they have a branch inside for one of the banks I put on my pondering list.  They confirmed the information I had read online, and the sweetheart who was pointing out all the account options because she was trained to, even though she knew I wouldn't have enough money to have the exorbitant combined balance for the hoity-toity account, mentioned that a mortgage could be considered as one of the combined accounts.  Serendipity!  It just so happens that my mortgage bank is owned by the same conglomerate that owns this bank, and that would qualify me for that type of account (and, more importantly, waive the monthly fee).  So, I'll be taking them my paycheck this Thursday and opening my local checking account, and then I'll say, "Now would you please transfer x dollars to pay my mortgage?"

I only wish finding an apartment were that easy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

There's a cold in them thar lack-of-hills!

It doesn't surprise me that I've come down with a cold.  Given the number of hands I've shaken with new coworkers and apartment employees, I couldn't beat the odds forever.  I'm not going to turn into Monk, though, and carry wipes (and disposable baggies for them) everywhere I go.

I have confirmed, through my apartment hunt, that I am a snob.  Is it unreasonable for me to expect intact paint, a complex unsaturated with children, and a parking lot free of duck ponds?  (I'd say potholes, but those things were broad enough to float a boat in.)  No, but it's unreasonable, apparently, to find a decent complex in my price range.  (My preferred site from last weekend remains unchallenged, but an employee says it's in a high-crime area.)  I've checked out the southwest and east parts of town; what remains are the south and central parts.  Plus, I think I've basically exhausted my possibilities that I found online (there was one with nice cabinets in the kitchen, a gas stove, and a washer and dryer in the unit, and then I saw the monthly rent -- yow!), so I'm ready to turn to the phone book and start calling around.

I need groceries, so I might take tomorrow off from searching (supposed to be cold and wet -- again), unless I find a grocery store in the vicinity of the next cluster of apartments.  I went to the supermarket chain websites and wrote down all their branches in town, so that shouldn't be a difficult task.  I also reviewed my bank options last night, and I confirmed with the office manager today that my paycheck should arrive on Thursday and that most banks should be able to open a checking account and cut a check for me.  There's a major bank that has 16 locations in town, and it's affiliated with the bank which holds my mortgage, but it has hoops I have to jump through to avoid a monthly fee, so that makes some of the local banks preferable, although there are fewer locations of them.  (Although, considering how I intend to spend money rarely, the proximity of an ATM shouldn't matter.)  It would be nice if I had the luxury of time to find an apartment then choose a nearby bank, but I need my money by this weekend.  (Mustn't forget to call the possible banks to confirm the fees and technicalities I saw on their websites, and to see if they'd have any problems cutting a check for me right after I open an account.)

The office manager and I finally (I hope) finished my hiring paperwork today.  She says my check will arrive on Thursday, regardless of the information not being complete until today.  I should be able to access the online option to correct my phone number (and check whatever else they have which might be wrong), but she wants to wait until my check arrives first.  No sense tempting fate, what?  That reminds me, I could try right now to enroll for benefits...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Moment to Ponder

Considering how many employees' names I have to learn, the names of schools, where they are/how to get to them, the work order system, the timesheet system, and the layout of the city, you should understand that my flashes of brilliance don't occur as frequently as they used to.  I think I had one yesterday, though (and that was after a day of apartment hunting).

I had been worried how I would pay this month's mortgage.  I have enough money in my ABQ checking account, but writing a check that large would take it under the monthly minimum, then the bank would charge me.  (I've never understood the logic in charging people who don't have the money in the first place.)  My unemployment support has been cut off, so there will be three weeks before my first paycheck (I hope).  Then, when my first check arrives, it'll be an actual check, not a receipt for money deposited into my ABQ checking account, so that won't help me.  Or will it?

I think what I can do is take the actual check to a bank and open a local checking account.  After I do that, I can ask the bank to cut me a check for the mortgage payment.  Then, if my payroll and computer and what-have-you access gets straightened out at work, I can submit a request for direct deposit of future checks into both checking accounts.  (I also can write a smaller check, from my ABQ account, and send it to my mom, whom I'm afraid I'll have to ask to pay my credit card bill this month, but the money I send her should offset most of it.)

Of course, there's the matter of how much I'm going to be paid.  I might have figured that out, as well.  I took my intended salary and divided it by the number of pay periods in a year, to determine the base pay.  Then I subtracted 15% (hopefully an appropriate or too high a number) for taxes.  Since I won't have benefits deducted yet, the resulting figure should be approximately how much I'll see on my first paycheck.  That amount is enough to enact my tentative plan.

You know you're losing your hair when...

...after washing your hair, you can use a washcloth to dry your head.  (It didn't get all that wet, either.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

For once, I'm not stealing this from anyone else.

I got to thinking (when you're alone in a truck, driving around town and looking for schools, you have a lot of time to think) that I haven't yet seen any of my friends post a stupid internet quiz about "What Big Bang Theory Character Are You?"  So, here's one.

Since I don't watch the show, I can't tell you how accurate my result is (you'll have to tell me), but people have said I remind them of Sheldon, not Leonard.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

As much as I'm trying to keep from spending money I don't have, I gave in today and ate lunch at a restaurant.  A websearch for "bagels" and "Tulsa" brought me surprising success, and, since the website claims they have authentic, water-boiled bagels, how could I resist?

The verdict?  The bagels are, indeed, hard on the outside and chewy on the inside, which you expect from "real" bagels.  I thought mine (poppyseed) tasted a little sweet, but if they only say "mayo" and actually put "salad dressing" on the sandwich, that could account for it.  I liked it well enough that I will go back some time and order a dozen to take home.  If they pass that test, then I'll take a dozen home to my mom.

A Generalization

Tulsans are nice people (though my sample size thus far has been limited to people welcoming me at work and apartment agents trying to get me to sign a lease), but put them behind the wheels of automobiles, and they become the most self-centered turkeys I've ever seen.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two weeks is about right, isn't it?

You could say that the honeymoon is over.  After one week on the job, a situation arose at work, for which I had to do a disciplinary action.  After two weeks in Tulsa, I was awakened (it wasn't 2:00 a.m. this time; it was 11:45 p.m.) by my first Tornado Warning.

At this point, my coworkers agree that I'm cursed.  They think that it's the hotel which has cursed me (one hit the nail on the head by saying, "Communal living isn't for you, huh?"), so they are reviewing my apartment search list to leave comments for me, so that I can settle the matter and get out of here and into my own place.  They think my life (or at least my sleep pattern) will benefit.

You know, perhaps the end of the Noog's drought and the possible end of Oklahoma's drought are my fault after all.  It might well be that I'm an anti-tech wizard, but relocating me throws off whatever balance I had had in the past, sending my signals out unregulated and making everything go haywire.

That is so logical and reasonable, it's scary.

Oh, the Irony!

For a few hours this morning, several people's company-paid mobile phones didn't work.  Any time my boss, for example, tried calling someone, his call went to the wireless provider's accounting department.  I sent the admin. asst. a text, and it bounced.  However, I, the anti-tech wizard, could make and receive calls.

I joked that the company spent so much on my fancy new phone that they couldn't afford to pay for everyone else's.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I usually like jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles.  I think it comes from me having an orderly personality, trying to put things together in the just-right way that makes sense.  That's why I'm having trouble at work.

This morning, I tried marking all of the sites from the route sheets that my boss gave me onto the map issued by the school district.  However, not all the route sites were shown on the map, and not all of the map sites appeared in the routes.

My boss didn't understand my concern.  "That's not your crew.  Those sites are mowed by a different crew."  Okay, that explains why they're on the map and not the route sheets.  Now what about the others?  Some of the route sites are closed schools, so they don't appear on the map.  (For some strange reason, three sites which my boss marked as "sold" schools still do appear on the map.)  Some of the route sites are empty lots, so they don't appear on the map.  The rest of the route sites were not mentioned by my boss, so I don't know.

So what do I do if my boss tells me to go to Smith School, but I don't know how to get there because it's not on the map?  What if I see on the route sheets that Crew 4 will be at Jones School today, but I don't know where that is?  How was I supposed to know that the route sheets and the map wouldn't be in agreement?  It felt like I was trying to put together a puzzle, but the pieces weren't fitting together, and then my boss comes in and says, "Oh, you don't have all the pieces."  At this point, I was smart enough to recognize that my boss couldn't handle any further discussion, so I went on to another topic.  (Let's not even get into how I'm supposed to know about the bus lots around town.)

After lunch, I stopped by the front office and asked the women there if there was a map of all the school district's properties.  The two women there knew that there was, but neither of them knew how to get a copy -- but if the secretary (that's what they called her; don't yell at me for using an "archaic" term) wasn't off today and the rest of this week, and if the office manager wasn't occupied preparing for the district's award banquet tomorrow night, either of them could've helped me in a heartbeat.  It was the same situation when I asked for a discplinary form to write up an employee.  Instead, we just chatted for a while about my apartment search and what parts of town I shouldn't think of living in.  (Please note that I wasn't keeping them from working, as the computer program and/or website they wanted was acting up, so they needed something to do in the meantime.)

On a more upbeat note, my boss was driving me around, trying to locate some of the district-owned, empty lots that even he wasn't aware of, and we got really close to two of them but couldn't figure out, of all the empty land with no street addresses handy, which parcels of land were ours.  I pulled out my new device (I mean the iPhone I whined about the other day; I almost said "my thingy", which I thought might sound too suggestive) and -- miracle of miracles! -- managed to open the maps feature, enter the street we were seeking, find it on the map, and pull our location up as a blue dot exactly where we thought we were!  Yay, I figured out one bit of technology!  (I still want that instruction manual, though.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Does anyone else have this problem?

"Technophobia" isn't exactly my problem.  Sure, I distrust technological advances, and many of them are pretty much unnecessary.  (Does giving every school child a laptop to take home change the principles of learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division?)  My problem is more that the people who develop and market technology either don't understand that not everyone can comprehend how to use the new devices, or else they flat out ignore this "marginal" portion of the population.

For example, the powers that be at work have decided, for whatever reason, that I was to be issued something called an "iPhone 5".  (I don't know how long the Apple Corporation was offering similar devices before I realized that the "eye pads" I heard people talking about were the same thing as those commercials on TV because I honestly could not distinguish the lower case, sans serif letter "i" which begins the names of the devices from the upper case, sans serif letter "P".  I thought they were ads for "Pads".)  Of course, if I can't even see all the letters in the device's name, do I really need an instruction manual?  Well, someone at Apple evidently thinks not.  All that came with the device was a folded piece of paper called a "Quick Start Guide".  How can I start if I don't even understand the jargon it contains?  (I guess the people who already know how to use the first four of these devices understand it, but how good can the thing be if they keep having to improve it?)  The brochure provided a link to a website (I guess if you use one of these things, you are assumed to have internet access) for the actual owner's manual.  It's nearly 160 pages long!  (No wonder they don't put it in the same box as the phone.  At the very least, it would need its own box.)  At this time, I can't afford to buy more printer paper and another ink cartridge, but I will print the durned thing eventually, as one of my technophobic characteristics is the markedly higher understanding of what I read on the printed page vs. what I read on the computer screen.

What my problem really is (and if any of you know a term for this, or can coin one, please let me know) is that one of the good Cap'n's superpowers is that I flummox technology (sometimes in quite abstract ways).  It's as if I exude an electromagnetic field that screws up anything electronic.  This, unfortunately, plays a part in me wondering if I will get paid at any point.

In my company e-mail inbox was a message (sent before my start date, for some reason) instructing me to sign up for benefits at a particular website.  (They used to give a telephone option, but that apparently has gone the way of the Dodo.)  I went to said site and clicked to "register as new user".  I was prompted to enter my birthdate and the end of my Social Security number.  For further "security", they asked for my zip code.  Well, the zip code for the office didn't let me through.  The admin. asst. and I both figured they probably meant the zip code for my home address – whatever that is.  Did they mean my Noog address, or did they have the more recent address, when I was staying at my mom's?  (See?  I can't even log on to a website, that's how strong my power is.)

 Well, the ABQ zip code let me in (I mean, after I started all over, because, by the time I got back to the computer, the website had timed out), and it asked me to update my work cell phone number, which I did, but it wouldn't let me change my home phone number, which was listed as the one in the Noog.  (They had my newer address but not newer phone number?)  It instructed me to call a toll-free number to change it.  After none of the choices applied to me, the automated system finally put me through to someone in a central Asian country, who said that he couldn't change my phone number and instructed me to dial a different toll-free number than the one on the screen.  (At this point, you should totally understand why I loathe technology, as well as why I think "it's out to get me".)  I called the second number and refused to argue with the voice-recognition system, and it took a ridiculous number of times (more than five but fewer than ten) of me not answering before the system agreed to put me through to a human being.  That woman (who had a Hispanic accent but was far easier to understand) said, "I don't know why he said he couldn't change your number because he can and we can't.  We're only involved with former employees."  (At this point, you should wonder if the slugs who are contracted to answer phones are more worthy of the comic than even I am.)

 So, I informed admin. asst. again, and she phoned the H.R. department.  (In our company, as I presume in many others, that stands for "hardly reliable".)  She was informed that her regular rep. left to work for another company, and the one who is supposed to cover our account was off that day (Friday) and would be back on Monday.  (This is where the "abstract" part of my power becomes evident, since I now seem to inhibit human assistance in three different offices, after impairing the computer aspect.)  Admin. said that there's a way for me to change my address and phone number myself, but it involves a different website, and the H.R. dept. had not yet informed her (gee, why not?) of my user name and access code.  (Mind you, they were able to send me an e-mail about benefits before my hire date.)

Let's see:  I might or might not appear accurately in the H.R. database (or databases which don't communicate with each other).  I might or might not be able to update my contact information.  I might or might not be able to enroll for benefits.  Heck, I might or might not even get paid (especially since I don't know when my first paycheck is supposed to show up -- or are they not telling me that on purpose?).  I'd ask you to shoot me now, but then all those people who repair and reprogram computers and voice mail and what have you after I break them or point out bugs wouldn't have jobs any more.  On the other hand, it might be easier for you than creating a word for my tech-breaking ability (although you'd have plenty of time in prison to think one up).

By the way, I've successfully used the device to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and view and reply to e-mails.  I might have even been able to take a photo this morning, but now I need to ask someone experienced with this device to see if I did, and then what I should do with the image.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Going Frozen Fowl

It has been a week and a half since I moved to Tulsa and started the idea of eating more healthily than I had at my mom's house.  My portions are smaller, I haven't bought any snacks (neither sweet nor salty), and I haven't bought any soda.  (It's also an idea to save money for other aspects of my life.)

This weekend, though, I hit my first wall.  After apartment hunting, I wanted to celebrate by eating at a restaurant (also because I'm sick of microwaved foods or sandwiches in the hotel room).  I held off, though, and visited a new (to me) grocery store this morning, which indulged my desire for variety yet was a more economical use for my money.  (Incidentally, I don't know when -- or if, but that's for another post -- my first paycheck will arrive, and I probably have gotten my last unemployment check.)

Then, today, I thought of an alternative.  Similar to my making my own yogurt (mixing frozen fruit with plain, unsweetened yogurt), I probably could make my own soda by mixing cranberry or cran-raspberry juice with club soda.  I'm really jonesing for a fix, and the juice will have flavor and sugar like soda, but with nutrients.  I think I'll try that, the next time I go to a store.

That doesn't keep me from craving a fresh pizza, though.

If you lived here, you'd be home by now.

I enjoyed apartment hunting yesterday.  I searched the major apartment websites online, took notes, and made a list of the sites that tickled my fancy somehow.  Out of 61 complexes, I starred 15.  I visited 9 yesterday; 2 others were closed.  I'll visit those two and the other 4 tomorrow and Tuesday, after work.  I have found 1 I prefer above the other 8 visited (some of them were just this side of being dumps), but then I wondered if I could find as good a deal for less money.

So, I created a spreadsheet with the complex names, monthly rents, areas, and cost per square foot.  For the master, I sorted it alphabetically.  Then I sorted by cost per square foot.  There were a bunch (more than a dozen) on there that I hadn't starred, and now I'm second-guessing myself and pondering visiting them, as well.

As much as I want to make sure I get a good deal, I also want the temporariness of hotel living to be done.  I want to find a place and sign a lease so that I'll have an address to have my storage unit shipped to, so I can get on with living.

I decided to double-check the annual budget I drafted, to see how the possible rent would hit me.  At the moment, I'm procrastinating by typing this.  I want my fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and find the best possible apartment at a price I could afford.  In the meantime, this is the front-runner.  It's next to the riverpark (the only complex there in my price range), has apartments large enough for my furniture (and, after the walkthrough, also oriented correctly for my furniture), seems to be kept up, and includes a washer/dryer in the apartment, included in the rent (none of the others I've seen have that in my price range, either), so I wouldn't have to stash a year's supply of quarters in the place (the price for one load of laundry here at the hotel is astonishing).  The downside is that it would be a very long commute to work.  (That's another reason I'm pondering continuing the search.)

Sigh.  I hate being a wembler.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Now you know why they call them "Sooners".

In addition to those who roll through stop signs, Tulsa has a lot of drivers that will jet out in front of your car when you or I or any otherwise sane individual would deem it unsafe to proceed.  They're all lucky that my reaction time and my brakes work!

(If you didn't know already, the real definition is here.)

Oh no, not again!

At exactly 2:00 a.m. on Friday, all heck broke loose.  At least, that's what it sounded like.

I heard something like the Emergency Broadcast System alert, and I started slapping at my alarm clock.  It didn't shut off, and after a while I was awake enough to realize that the alarm sounds nothing like that.  (For an alarm clock, it's downright pleasant.)  Finally, the noise stopped, and my cell. phone beeped like I had missed a call.  It was a text message that looked like absolute gobbledygook to me.  Oh well, I thought, I'm up already, so I might as well go to the bathroom.

When I returned to bed and shut off the light, I saw flickering on the window blinds.  I peeked through and saw at least eight emergency vehicles on the road in front of the hotel.  "Maybe that's what all the commotion was," and, "That's an awful lot of vehicles for one sobriety checkpoint," were two thoughts that passed through my head.

I learned at work that day that everyone's cell. phone went off at 2:00 a.m. because of an Amber Alert.  (If you're as socially ignorant as I, I included a link so you, too, could learn what that means.)  "Yeah, but why did they have to do it at two in the morning?!" still is in my head.

Now I have to figure out if it's the hotel or Tulsa itself that has cursed me to wake at two o'clock in the morning.  (If it's one of you, I'm sorry already!)  That doesn't explain what all the emergency vehicles were doing out there, though.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This is how it begins.

I have lots of excuses for my behavior.  Everything I did was justified.  Indeed, if it was wrong, why was I rewarded?  (Although since the reward will, in time, benefit those who rewarded me, that's probably not my strongest defense.)

I went to Oklahoma's largest used bookstore after work today.  Please keep in mind that three books were purchased for work, three will be given to my mother after I read them, and one is an offering for the Book Pope, so less than half are for me (and two of those are for my horticultural library, and one is a book I had read before but liked so much that I wanted to keep, so...  Actually, the other three aren't fluff, as they are needed to entertain and divert me during lunch breaks, so I guess every book I got has a purpose, no?)  Two of the books were on the 25-cent table outside, one was in the dollar section inside, and all other books were five bucks or less.  (Finding the secret room in the back was just dumb luck.)

Okay, now that I justified my purchases, I'll explain the reward.  The cashier told me that any purchase over $40 gets a 20% discount (so I ended up spending under $40).  See?  It can't be wrong if I saved money!  Then she said that, if I save three receipts that total more than $100, I get $15 off a future purchase.  (As if I need to be tempted.)

I hope I can hold off my next visit until after my first paycheck...

Walk like an Egyptian, Drive like a Tulsan

I have determined that there are two kinds of drivers in Tulsa:  those who roll through the stop signs, and those who stop and park there for five seconds.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I'll bet they're a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, too.

From my short time here in Oklahoma, I've observed some Southern stores and Southern behaviors similar to those I encountered in the Noog, and some Western stores and Western behaviors similar to those I encountered in New Mexico.  I guess that makes the state Southwestern, all right.

Space Invaders

I returned to my hotel room today and discovered that my items on the bathroom vanity had been rearranged, and my trash bag was emptied.  When they said that maid service would be performed every two weeks, I didn't think that meant six days after I checked in.  The person was nice enough to put the cap on my shaving cream can (even though I intentionally do not put it back on), but I'm still glad that I didn't leave any money lying around.

Monday, April 08, 2013

If I had known it was Sting and the guys, I would've asked for their autographs.

Into every life, a little rain must fall.  Well, yes, all right, it did rain some more today, but I was trying to speak figuratively.  I meant to allude to things not always going easily for me -- or, since you know I hate change and have to adapt to a new city and new job, you kind of figured that things wouldn't be exactly swell.  Oddly enough, this problem has absolutely nothing to do with my new job or new city.

I figured I was adapting to the time change and resuming my early wake-up schedule rather well.  Last night, I went to bed at 8:30 p.m., woke up at 12:30 a.m. -- and was able to fall back asleep! -- and then was rudely (how else?) awakened by thumping in the room above at 2:11 a.m.  That thumping continued, in various intensities, frequencies, and volumes, for more than two hours.  I was able to doze on and off until my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., and it wasn't until shortly thereafter, when I was shaving, that the thumping finally ended.

I stopped by the hotel office upon arriving "home" from work today and asked if the noise upstairs had anything to do with the three police cars I saw in the parking lot this morning.

Oh, didn't I mention them?  When I got up, I peeked through the blinds to see if it was raining, and I spotted three police cars (not pink) downstairs.  One exited the parking lot, one drove around the building, and one stayed put.  (The one that drove around the building might've parked again by the parking lot entrance, but I'm not positive, so that might've been a fourth car.)

The young lady at the hotel desk confirmed that the police indeed were the cause of disruption to my sleep.  It turned out that the residents of the room above mine were in possession of a car that wasn't theirs.

All right, I understand coming to get them at a time they're likely to be in residence and not quite alert, but did they have to stomp around on the floor for two hours?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

It used to be just elephants!

Already in the four days I have been in Tulsa, there is a drastically lower frequency of sirens than I heard in the Noog.  So, it made me curious a few minutes ago when I heard one.  I looked out the window and couldn't believe what I saw:  a pink ambulance.  I thought I was hallucinating, until I saw this.

Get Lost

It has been my experience that an unpleasant journey still can result in a wonderful destination.  (That's just one of the lessons I took from Australia.)  I'm hoping the same holds true with my trip to Tulsa.

When I departed Albuquerque (only half an hour late), it was 46 degrees F, cloudy with a 10% chance of showers, and an anticipated high of 62 degrees.  When I reached the Texas state line, the temperature was 40 degrees and falling.  I hit snow flurries (twice) at 40 degrees.  It rained at 37 degrees.  My car thermometer warned me at 35 degrees that ice was possible.  (It did this twice, so I suspect that might be its programmed threshold.)  I observed that temperatures tended to be one degree warmer in the cities (and I do mean cities, not just towns or other built-up areas) than the open highway.  The temperature bottomed out at 33 degrees, as if Mother Nature was saying, "I could do this to you, but I won't – but I'll keep the threat there ‘cause you know I could."

When I reached the Oklahoma state line, it started raining.  And raining.  And raining.  Sure, the intensity varied over time, but my introduction to Oklahoma was of constant rain.  (Funnily enough, the people I met the next day all said they had been in a drought, and that is eerily similar to my introduction to the Noog.)  I guess the good aspect of the journey was that the temperature went up from 37 to 40 degrees.  That's where the good ends, though.

I pulled off the interstate at a small town, where the one gas station in the town was no cheaper than the two stations right at the exit.  I didn't need gas desperately, so I decided to wait and take my chances for a cheaper station later on.  In the meantime, I pulled into a fast-food franchise's parking lot (which was jam-packed at not typically a mealtime) to check my voice mail.  I had trouble connecting and hearing the voice mail, and I couldn't make a return call at all.  Maybe there were power lines nearby, but I decided that the town didn't want me there, so I skipped eating as well and headed back on the highway.

I then saw a sign for a truck stop franchise, which I recall stopping at for gas and a meal (at a restaurant franchise I like) on my trip from the Noog to ABQ, so I exited there.  The gas prices were far better than my previous attempt, but the restaurant wasn't the one I anticipated.  I got gas and figured, "I can get there hungry, but I can't get there if my car is hungry," so I hit the road again.

Wouldn't you know it?  Then comes a billboard announcing a different truck stop franchise with the restaurant I wanted.  (I guess I misremembered the affiliation from my previous trip.)  You know, it would've been nice if they had posted the billboard several miles back, so I could've condensed three stops into one and saved some time.  It was a nice pause (good food and a good book), though, before heading out into the rain once more.

All right, I lied.  There was another bright spot:  I passed through Oklahoma City after rush hour.  (If there was that much traffic at a quarter past six, I'd hate to have been there an hour earlier!)

Darkness came early, thanks to the clouds.  Still, that couldn't have been the reason that I didn't see a sign indicating the Broken Arrow Expressway exit in Tulsa.  (The hotel's website specifically said, "I-44 and Broken Arrow Expressway".)  I was nearly out of the city and back onto the turnpike* when I exited, found a lighted parking lot, and phoned the hotel to get reoriented.

* I know from past trips through Oklahoma that the highway between Okla. City and Tulsa is a turnpike, but I couldn't recall how much it cost, so I looked it up online to figure out how much money I'd have to have handy.  I found the official Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's Pikepass website and clicked on "Toll Calculator".  It brings up a drop-down menu (and you can try to verify this if you want, but I'm not making this up) from which I'm supposed to "Choose a Turnpike".  Alas, none of the choices reads "I-44".  Am I going to be traveling on Cherokee, Chickasaw, Cimarron, Creek, HE Bailey, Indian Nation, Kilpatrick, Muskogee, Turner, or Will Rogers Turnpike?  After fiddling with the website, I couldn't find a map that displayed the various choices nor linked the names with highway numbers (although this could be due to my tech. inadequacy and not a user-unfriendly website), so I had to click on each choice then review the additional drop-down menus for entries and exits to determine that I would be driving on the Turner Turnpike (known to us more logical mortals as I-44).  Next time, I'll go in reverse-alphabetical order so I'll find it on the second try and not the ninth...

Well, after I phoned the hotel and got no answer, phoned the toll-free reservations number and was informed by the woman who answered that she couldn't give instructions and that I'd have to phone the hotel, which I told her I already had done and gotten no answer, and she said that I'd have to dial a specific extension, which I did and finally talked to an intelligent human being, I finally knew where I was supposed to go.

The young woman at the hotel told me I should get back on the interstate, headed west (the direction from which I had come) and look for an junction exit with 51 south.  I found that exit (kinda), and it certainly lacked the words "Broken Arrow Expressway", which I seem to have found is just a local name for the highway and not an official state highway department designation.  That, though, is a matter of interpretation, as I can not trust the highway department further than I can throw them.  Why not?  (I mean, besides the whole turnpike-naming instead of numbering fiasco already described.)  Here's where the "kinda" enters in.  Well, as I told the young woman at the hotel when I finally arrived (two hours after my anticipated arrival time), "You know that odd-numbered highways run north/south, and I know that odd-numbered highways run north/south, but all the signs out there say 51 east or west."  (I had a 50-50 chance of picking the right direction, and, of course, I got it wrong and turned around when I again seemed to be leaving the city.)

The next bit of fun was unloading my car in the dark and the rain and fumbling with my keychain in my left hand to lock the car while holding stuff and fumbling with the keycard in my right hand while holding stuff to enter the hotel (note:  a corollary to Murphy's Law must be that, the more cumbersome or heavy the item(s) you are holding, the more likely the card reader will blink red and make you reinsert the key card) and haul my stuff up the (thankfully just one flight of) stairs and go back down for more junk.  Tulsa must have one heck of a night life, as someone else drove into the parking lot more than half of the times I went back for more stuff.  What happened to the days when you checked into a hotel and hunkered down ‘cause you were tired of being out all day?

It doesn't bug me that no one offered to help, since I don't know any of the other guests and couldn't trust them to see the stuff I have and not want to steal any of it.  (It's not worth anything monetarily, but maybe they're just mean.)  It doesn't bug me that the parking lot was full, so there were no spaces available close to the entrance doors and I had to walk the farthest distance laden with stuff.  It doesn't even bug me that, since I had to put my water-resistant jacket (note:  not a raincoat, which is packed somewhere in the storage unit, since it "never" rains in the Southwest) over the top of every load I carried, I ended up drenched while my belongings stayed dry.  All that mattered is that I had finally arrived (safely) and that I had a night to rest before figuring out the next set of directions.

Thankfully, online mapping websites are generally accurate, because the administrative assistant had told me that the office is located at 1555 North 77th East Avenue.  I asked her to repeat herself, and then I apologized, saying, "I must have misheard you, because I heard twice as many numbers and directions as there should be."  But, no, she was right, and the map generated showed me how to get there (although it did lack the slightly important step of telling me to stay on the same road as the hotel for the first part of the journey).

Seriously, what is up with Oklahomans that they can't or do not want to give directions, or name and number roads in a logical way – or, indeed, in a way that is consistent with most of the rest of the country?  (And I'm going to have to find how many sites in this school system?)

The next day was better.  I found my way to the office to do my hiring paperwork a few days before my start date.  I got directions to a store where I could buy a city atlas.  (I was looking for a map but happened across a map book, which is much easier to read than those giant, accordion-folded papers with every street name printed almost too small to read, although I had to pay extra for its legibility and more convenient size.)  I found my way to the grocery store and then back to the hotel, with just one bit of road construction that hampered me each direction.  After lunch, I found my way to the auto care franchise for an oil change (I had my car serviced before leaving the Noog, and I figured two cross-country trips probably warranted another service) and to the maul for protein bars and a pair of work shoes that, thankfully, were on sale because my other work shoes are in the storage unit, doncha know?

Since then, I've hunkered down in my hotel room, doing an extensive (i.e. long and boring) online search for apartments I might like and which are in my price range.  Have you ever been to a hotel or conference center that has those chairs (which look like this) that seem comfortable when you first sit on them, but a couple hours later, all cushioning effect has gone (like those airline seats which are supposed to be usable as a flotation device -- do you really believe that, after thousands of customers who are even heavier than you have sat on them for hours?), and you feel as if you're sitting on nothing more comfortable than a sheet of particle board, and your butt hurts so much that you're ready to leap up, yell obscenities at the highly respected speaker at the podium, and rush from the room as quickly and crookedly as your cramped legs will allow?  Well, that's exactly the sort of chair that this hotel gives people to use at the microscopic table that barely contains my computer, flatscreen monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers.  I guess they don't expect people to occupy their rooms continuously.  (I don't want to go anywhere yet because that costs money, even just for gas, and until I get a couple of paychecks, I can't afford anything.  Seriously, I might go into debt with my credit card for the first time in my life, and somehow I have to find the down payment and first month's rent of a hotel?  Yeah, it'll be a few weeks before I can start exploring Tulsa.)

So, that was my journey here and the first few days.  Oh yeah, I discovered yesterday (three days after I checked in) that the hotel has a luggage trolley.  Do you think they could've offered that to me when I arrived, so I could've reduced the number of trips (I lost count, but I know it was more than ten) I made, not been burdened by the loads, and have taken the elevator instead of the stairs?  Maybe they only give it to customers who check in during the normal operating hours – or maybe this is another example of Oklahomans' strange way of thinking.

After a trip like that, it has to get better, right?  It has to.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed!

He got his computer hooked up and online with no problems, either.  Bonus!

(More later.)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

10, 9, 8...

This is my last chance online before driving to Tulsa tomorrow.  If all goes well, I should be able to check e-mail and make blog posts again Thursday.

(If all goes well, I'll also be able to learn how to use this "iphone" thingy that the administrative assistant says they're going to issue to me for work.)