Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More stuff

It’s funny how a few days turn into a few weeks. The local election came and went and I’m at least happy with the candidates that won, even though only two that I voted for got in. I’m lucky that I had Tuesday off. Had I been working a full day that day, I would have had to wake up earlier to go in and vote.

I finally passed a thousand postings on Epinions. It took me several days to get over myself. I don’t get anything special out of it, but it is a strange feeling to have reviewed so many items. I still have a few reviews to rewrite. I hate having so many movie reviews to rewrite. A lot of the movies that I watched weren’t really worth rewatching. I got lucky with a few. With one, I got to watch it while I was waiting during jury duty. I didn’t get to watch the whole thing straight through, but I saw enough that I was able to piece together the major details.

I recently got into sudoku. Most of the ones I’ve done were easy. I’ve been trying to find more difficult ones. I like doing them online because they’re much neater. The two that I’ve done in the Miami Herald were messy because I kept having to erase stuff. That’s why I don’t like doing the crossword puzzles. (Well, that and the fact that I don’t know two thirds of the answers.)

The construction is going well. It’s not so bad not having the washer. We still have the dryer, which is nice. I’m not sure how much longer it will take, but I think I’ll be able to survive it. The most difficult part is not having the garage. There are things that I would consider putting out there had it not been for the fact that I can’t.

That’s all for now. Maybe by the next time I post something, I’ll have some sort of closing line or something.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Fewer books

I’m happy to say that I got rid of most of my books. I actually found a place in Miami Beach that was willing to pay me $81 for almost three hundred books. If you look at the picture in the previous post, I still have those two long cases. I also have two of the cardboard boxes, but they were willing to take a lot of old textbooks that I couldn’t get rid of. I have mostly paperbacks left, which I may or may not sell on eBay. If I can’t get rid of them, I may call back after the New Year to see if he’s going to take any more.

I actually bought three new pairs of shirts and three pairs of pants for work. This gives me enough that I should be able to last at least a week between washes. The washer and drier will be disconnected tomorrow, so we’re going through as much laundry as we can tonight. It’s getting to the point where I’m washing work clothes about as quickly as I use them. I’m hoping that they won’t be out of commission that long. However, it will now be a little easier to survive.

My brother comes back into town next week, which I’m looking forward to. I’d say that this means that I’ll be writing less, but I’m already writing about once a month. It might actually mean that I’ll be writing more since I may have more to write about.

Had it not been for work, I would have passed 1,000 postings on Epinions by now. As it stands, I’m three shy of the milestone. I could probably get two more out tonight and maybe get some sort editorial in commemorating a thousand. So far as I know, very few people on Epinions have made it this far, mostly because there’s so little money to be made in it.

In any event, that’s all I have for now. I’ll probably be posting in a few days because we have a local election tomorrow. Yes, I know. It would have been the perfect subject for a blog. Insofar as elections go, there really wasn’t that much to cover.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Turning Point

I guess this is one of those situations where I should have written more often, but I’m not really that far behind. I’d like to start by saying that I’m no longer selling on Half.com. They’ve made two recent decisions that lead me to believe that eBay doesn’t care about Half.com users.

The first is the removal of the preorder function. Preordering allows Half.com users to set a price at which they want the site to automatically order an item. When this happens and I list that hypothetical item, I see that someone is willing to pay a certain amount. If I think that this is a reasonable offer, I can accept. If not, I can list the item at a higher price.

The second (which really annoys me) is the removal of order confirmation. It used to be that when I got an order, I was able to confirm it. Now, it’s automatically assumed to be confirmed. I would have to refund the money if I can’t find the book.

So far as I know, the first issue is still in place. They may have changed the second back to the way it was, but I’m still quitting Half.com for good. It seems that since the eBay acquisition, they just don’t care any more.

We had a yard sale this weekend, but I didn’t sell that much. I didn’t even make $6. What I’m going to do is try to call some used bookstores either tomorrow or Tuesday. Hopefully, at least one will take cash. If not, I may have to list the books on eBay to get rid of them. If that’s what it comes to, I’ll have to sell them in lots to keep the listing fees down. As you can see from the picture I’m posting, I have a lot.

The main reason we had the garage sale was to clear out the garage. We’re going to do some construction on it and put in a bedroom. I’m not really sure about the exact plans. My parents have changed their minds about it several times.

The main thing that worries me about the construction is that we’ll be without the washer and drier, meaning that I’ll only be able to do my laundry occasionally. As it was, I could wash work clothes as needed. I’m going to buy extra clothes soon, possibly in the next week. This way, I could go a week or two without having to do laundry.

I’m sure I’ll survive. I suppose that in the grand scheme of things, it could be a lot worse.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Post-hurricane post

As I predicted, my post here was limited during the hurricane. I got poser back relatively quickly, but Internet access took a while to get back. I didn’t get to watch many of my programs for the two weeks following Wilma because we didn’t get the local NBC affiliate. It left me to watch a lot of movies on DVD.

My Internet access is still somewhat patchy. It seems to work until I need to go online. When I have to look at something, I can stay on for a few minutes or so. It seems to be more stable now, but I’m still writing this in Word.

The Aventura branch of the Miami-Dade County library system was closed indefinitely due to hurricane damages. I’m going to have to check to see what happened with the books I had on hold. I may have to put them on hold for the downtown library.

In other news, I set up a shop on CafePress.com, located at http://www.cafepress.com/b_and_p. Mostly, it’s just stuff with the “Bark and Pee” photo from before. I also set up custom postage using an image that I normally use for profiles. I really can’t see anyone buying that. Even I have to admit that it’s overpriced. I’ll see if anyone buys it. If I can’t sell any in the next month or two, I’ll probably take it off.

Elections are coming up in Biscayne Park. The election is scheduled for December 6, but there was talk of postponing it due to the hurricane. I don’t think anything came of that. I won’t be working that election for two reasons. First, I never worked in my home precinct. Second, even if they called, I don’t think I’d want to. My current work schedule would theoretically permit it, but I still probably wouldn’t want to. I don’t need the money that much.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hurricane Wilma

I’ve been awaiting the arrival of Wilma. We’re at the point now that we’re not going to worry about a category-two storm, even if it kicks up to a category two. We’ll survive. Basically, what it comes down to is how much we’ll have to clean up tomorrow.

What really gets me is the news coverage. For the past day or two, it’s been the same information over and over again. The same areas have been told to evacuate. We’re still going to be hit either tonight or Monday morning. It’s probably going to be a category- two storm. The local channels are using interviews as filler. There are the officials repeating the basic information and the residents saying that they’ll either get out of Dodge or rough it out.

This leaves me to watch The West Wing, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Crossing Jordan over the local NBC affiliate’s web site. My parents are actually watching a DVD. At I have an option. I hate it when the networks just preempt shows with no regard for what the people actually want to watch.

How much coverage can one person take? I think there should be a law limiting hurricane coverage to 12 minutes per hour. Let the stations use their commercial breaks if they think that the coverage is so important.

The irony is that I’m tempted to give updates about how the hurricane has affected me, but I’m inclined to not do so. Not only do I not want to encourage anyone, but also my power will probably be out.

It’s just as well. I’m trying to think of other things to write about.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The dating game

How does a guy get a date?

That’s one of those things that have always confused me. I know it happens because people go one to get married and at least some of those marriages have to have come from a first date. I was thinking about all of those dating and matchmaking sites and how I have yet to find one that works.

I haven’t tried many, but I find that sites tend not to do too much for me. The problem is that with the pay sites, the free version stinks. What usually happens is that I find a site, try the free version for a while and usually get a few promising leads. However, the free versions don’t make it easy to correspond with that many people at once, so I sign up. Once I’ve paid good money, what few conversations I’m having dry up. I go an entire month without really meeting anyone.

The big problem is actually getting started. Few people want to bother with someone who has a free account because they’re likely to be someone using a free account to get you to go to a pay site. (Even paid accounts might do this.) This is another motivating reason to pay. However, once paid, I still might not get a response.

I don’t know why that is. Probably it’s because I’m competing with hundreds of other guys doing the same thing and it’s very easy for us to come across as losers that try to hard. How do I try without making it look like I’m actually trying? If I make the first move, it could appear aggressive. However, if I wait, I run the risk of paying $20 for a month of nothing.

Dating is a lot like gambling. Everyone has a system and they all seem to be just a little off. I have yet to find a magic word or phrase that will get me a response. Right now, I’d be happy for that. I just want a chance, or at least the possibility of thinking I have a chance, at maybe meeting someone.

The question is, if I ever met a woman, would I know what to do with myself?

Monday, October 10, 2005

search engines and portals

I honestly didn’t expect to get many visitors here, but I signed up with one of those site-tracking services anyway. I wanted to see who was visiting and where the visitors were coming from. As I would have expected, quite a number of people are in the South Florida area. A good 70% of the visitors are in the same time zone as me. I do make mention of local landmarks. Someone even did a search for Barry University.

That actually got me thinking. Most of the hits seem to come from my profile page on Epinions, but I do get a few from portals and search engines. Since I’m using the basic (free) site tracker, I can’t see hits by search terms, but I can get an idea from the referring URLs.

Someone, apparently from Texas, did a search for Wolf Camera. Ok. That’s understandable. Someone in Ontario did a search for “check from Epinions” and came up with this blog. A hit is a hit, but I have to wonder what that person was looking for.

The most common search term seems to be Miami. I don’t know what they expect to find here. Then again, that’s the problem with search engines. You enter a word or a name and you get anything. The thing is that I don’t even live in Miami proper. I actually live in Biscayne Park, which is just a little north of Miami. (I’m only about a mile away from Barry University and about two or three miles from the local Johnson and Wales campus.)

Either way, it’s gratifying that people find their way here, however it is that you got here. If you came by search engine, though, I’d appreciate a comment about how close a match this blog was to what you were looking for.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yes, I'm still alive

It occurred to me that I haven’t written anything since getting the job. Everything’s been going well. In fact, I’ve been bumped up to full time. This has left me with little time to write. I think I wrote about ten reviews on Epinions for August.

I didn’t sell any books for a month, which left me with no direct deposit for one full bank cycle, and was thus charged $5. Banks seem to be after money, but this is nothing new. Banks are businesses and are thus after money. They’re not doing this out of a sense of altruism.

The thing that gets me is the fee for bouncing checks. If I write a bad check, I’d expect to get hit up with a fee. That’s fair, as I have a responsibility to keep track of my own money. However, I don’t think I should be charged for someone else’s bad check. I have a right to expect that person to write a depositable check.

It’s left me in a position where I won’t take personal checks for my eBay auctions. I’ll take PayPal and credit cards (through PayPal) and put up with PayPal’s fees rather than risk a $29 fee. If anyone can explain why banks charge that much for something that’s not my fault, please leave a comment.

In other news, I just got back from my brother’s wedding. It’s hard to believe that he’s married. I served as best man, which wasn’t that hard. People make a big deal about giving speeches. It really isn’t. The hard part was actually writing it.

Getting back to jobs, though, I don’t think that the mystery shopping will work out. I always get the jobs a day or two in advance, and they’re always hard to do. Since I don’t drive, I’m limited to the locations that I can take.

Miami Beach and South Miami are both difficult, especially if it’s on a day that I work. Many of the good locations get taken quickly, which is to be expected. Also, some have a long list of requirements. Movie theaters, for instance, require that I arrive a certain amount of time prior to the start of the movie, that I make a purchase from the concession stand, that I visit the restroom…

I did finally get another check from Epinions, although it was for only $10 and change. I wish I could get a little more money for my writing. I have a ton of things to write from my trip to California for my brother’s wedding. Unfortunately, I don’t get paid much for travel stuff.

I’ll leave you with a picture that I took in California. It’s actually a doctored picture, but people seem to take it for real. The story that I give is that California is giving more space to dogs.

Bark and Pee

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

At last!

Well, I got the job at Wolf. The hard part now is finding the documentation that I need to hand in to complete the application process. This happens every time. I put it someplace that I can’t possibly lose it and I then promptly lose it. I know it’s around here somewhere. It looks like I’ll have the same schedule as my brother, which is good.

The downside is that I’ll have to find something else to write about. It looks like a lot of employers don’t take kindly to having their stores or offices written about, so I don’t really want to put in a lot of detail. I like the people there and everything, but I really don’t want to take any chances, especially this early on.

The next big obstacle for me is going to be getting a car. I’ll probably be putting away a lot of money until I can afford something. I don’t really want to get something for the sake of getting something, but I do want something that I don’t have to worry about. Thus, I’ll probably be getting something used.

A hybrid doesn’t make sense for me right now, but that would be nice. In terms of cost, it wouldn’t work out because of the fact that whatever I save in gas will probably be eaten up by the cost of the car.

I don’t want to stay on for too long because I have to look for that documentation. I can look for it tomorrow. However, if I don’t find it, I’m going to have to have it replaced.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

More stuff and stuff

I had to reformat my computer last night. It wasn’t fun. I still can’t figure out exactly what happened. It might have been a virus or it might have been something I installed. Either way, reformatting was something I should have done a while ago. There were so many programs that I had installed and never used that it was probably just easier this way.

The thing that I hate about reformatting is that I can never get the computer back exactly the way it was. When I received the computer from Dell, they had customized the settings. I have no idea how to get things back that way.

The one thing I miss sorely (and this was something from a previous computer) was the ability to view individual files in the recycle bin whenever I deleted an entire folder. With my current computer, the recycle bin displays a deleted folder as the folder. With the previous one, reformatting caused it to alternate between this and displaying the individual files within the folder in the recycle bin. I have no idea why I like the other way better, but I do.

I may be able to get a job at Wolf Camera. I applied there yesterday and there seems to be a good chance that I’ll get hired. I have to call back, though, because I’m supposed to go in for an interview on Monday and that happens to be the Fourth of July. I want to make sure that they’re open.

I’m still expecting a check from something I did a while ago. It was for a National Geographic program. I was supposed to watch two DVDs and take a survey both before and after. The check is for $160, which is why I’m so impatient. By my estimate, it should have arrived already. If it doesn’t arrive soon, I’ll have to contact someone.

That’s all for now. With any luck, I’ll be posting a lot on Epinions soon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Employment is a mystery to me

Things seem to be getting better, but better is a relative term. The mystery shopping has only produced one job, wherein I went to several cell-phone stores. There were three stores, each paying $10. It will still be several weeks before I see the money. I was told that it would take 42 days to send me the money.

The problem is that I get a lot of offers, but they’re all over the place. Some are even in Central Florida. I’d take more jobs, but I can’t always get to them. Some are supposed to be multiple choice, but the ones I got had some that had to be filled in. They seem to be easy enough.

I got a mysterious call the other day about a job. Someone wanted me to come in for an interview, but it was at a place that I had never heard of and it was in northwest Miami-Dade County. I tend to avoid the northwest part of the county, mostly because I don’t drive. It would be very difficult for me to get to and from work on a regular basis. Also, the woman that I spoke to was a little strange. She almost hung up without giving me the address of the place that I was supposed to go to.

I seem to be doing well with Epinions. My overall ranking went up by ten positions and I also earned $3.77. My review of the iPod earned 62¢ in its first month. It seems like I’m cashing out every three months or so.

That’s all for now. I can only hope that I get more stuff from the mystery shopping. I might have to sign up for a few more.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A new frontier?

I just got back from a trip to pick up my brother from college. This means that I have a few travel reviews to write. It will probably be a few more days before I post anything. I haven’t really felt like writing since I got back.

While I’m talking about Epinions, I just heard that Shopping.com (which owns Epinions) is going to be acquired by eBay. This could be a good thing, but I doubt it. When eBay acquired Half.com, eBay said that Half.com would remain open, or at least that they had no plans to close it shortly after the acquisition. The only reason that Half.com is still open is that people didn’t migrate to eBay like they had hoped.

I see no reason why eBay should close Epinions. After all, this could be a good thing. I’m hoping that Half.com will start displaying reviews from Epinions of the products it has. However, you can’t always get what you want. It seems that the primary reason is that eBay wants to use shopping.com as a platform for displaying its deals.

On a happier note, I signed up with a few mystery-shopping programs. I have yet to receive any jobs yet, but I’ve only been with some of the programs for a week. If I don’t get something soon, I’ll have to contact some of the programs to see what’s up.

I’m still looking online and in the paper. I found a job in the paper yesterday. The job is close to my house. With any luck, I’ll get an interview. Online, there’s still very little. None of the local sites seem to have anything.

That’s all for now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Water, water everywhere

I just got my check from Epinions. $12.24. It’s not bad, but I’d like more for several months’ writing. For some reason, I always have one cent that I can’t cash out. I think perhaps that I have a partial cent and they’re rounding up.

I also got the check for the survey. There was word of another survey, but I’m still waiting to hear from the ones doing the survey. For some reason, Juno has a way of blocking messages that I want to come through.

Right now, I’m waiting on the check from the election. Everything went fine last week. Every time I do an election, I tell myself that I’ll never do another one. Then, another election comes around and I find that I need the money. If I find a job, I really don’t know if I’ll do another one. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

I want to apply for a job at one of those self-storage places. It’s just a matter of getting over there. One of the self-storage companies is opening a new location that wouldn’t be difficult for me to get to. The problem is that they’re accepting the applications at a location that isn’t that close to me. Since I don’t drive, I have to find someone to take me over.

There’s also a job opening at Barry University, but I can email a résumé to the appropriate person. Also, that’s very close to me. I’d love to get a job there; that would probably be the most convenient thing for me right now. Unfortunately, I can’t always get the most convenient thing. I need to get something that pays. Maybe then, I’ll be able to look for something that’s easier for me. The important thing for me right now is to get money.

The Web sites for nearby cities don’t have anything to speak of. One hasn’t even been updated since April 1. Those that do have current listings don’t have that many and among the listings that they do have, there’s nothing that would be good for me.

I’m going to apply to those two jobs and see how those go. It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Mixed news

It looks like I’ll be doing another election. I found out about it a week ago and they’ve already changed the training location twice. For now, the training will be in the same location as the polling place, which is convenient. In the past, the training locations have required a long bus trip each way. At least this location is close enough that the bus trip will be easy. I might even consider walking back.

I’m waiting to get paid for a survey. I don’t expect it to be much, but it’s something. I was recently contacted about doing another one for the same company, but it was by the person that introduced me to the survey people. I haven’t actually heard directly from them yet. Surveys are tough to get any money from.

A lot of sites that I’ve seen use contests. If you complete a survey, you get entered into a drawing for money. The problem is that I may be competing against hundreds or even thousands of people for one or two prizes. I’d rather take ten or twenty dollars. Another problem is that by the time I get to a lot of these surveys, my demographic is filled. That means that I get nothing. To boot, surveys are usually few and far between. There’s no way that I could count on them for money.

I came close to cashing out on Epinions. The minimum to cash out is $10 and I have $9.53. Next time, I should be able to do it. I hate high cash-out limits. The one for the advertising that I use on a lot of my sites is $100. I figure that at the rate that I’m going, I should be able to cash out in a few years.

I had almost cashed out on Commission Junction. They have all sorts of advertising programs to select from, which I can put on my sites. The limit was set at $25. Unfortunately, they instituted a rule that said that they were going to charge me $10 for every month that I was inactive. It should have been easy, considering that I had a lot of programs that were willing to pay me small amounts of money for giving out free stuff. Nothing. I was just a few dollars shy of cashing out and I went two months without any activity at all. It’s a shame, really. They said that I could sign up again, but why bother?

I’m just lucky that anyone’s looking at this Blog. I signed up for a counter, which I believe is displayed on the right side of the window. (If not, then it’s on the bottom, below all of my entries. I’m not sure.) I don’t get many people. If you’re looking at this now, I can expect the next person to come by within a few days. (I really need some word-of-mouth advertising.)

There’s still no news in the classifieds. I went through today’s and found nothing. However, I did go by the job-placement center at Miami-Dade College. They had two jobs, but it looks like both were filled. Unfortunately, their jobs go back several months. Usually, within a week or two, the job is filled.

That’s all for now. I’m going to have to keep trying.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bling Bling

I got the check from Elections on Monday, which I have to say was pretty quick. It was about what I expected, so I have no complaints except to say that elections don’t seem to come often enough.

I’m still waiting on the new most-popular lists for Epinions. I’m hoping to climb higher than 980 overall. I put a link to my Epinions profile on the side; you can see how well I’m doing by clicking on it.

I’m still relisting my books on Half.com. I’d say that I’ve already gotten through a lot of them. If I keep up at it, I should be able to do it by the end of the week, but there’s no rush. In order to keep my free bank account with Bank of America, I need direct deposit and there’s no minimum on how much has to be deposited, so all I really need to do is sell one book every month. I’ve just gotten a deposit and I should be getting another in a few weeks.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably be posting more soon.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Epinions and stuff

I got an additional 70¢ from Epinions, which I believe to be from February. 20¢ came from a review of an iron. I’m rapidly approaching 900. I figure that if I write one review a day, I’ll hit 1,000 in four months.

I’ve been looking at the classifieds and online, but I can’t find anything that I can apply for. A lot of it is stuff that I just wouldn’t be qualified for. It’s hard having a lot of jobs and none that are right for me. I applied for a few a while ago, but I haven’t heard anything from many of them.

It’s hard to go in for an interview. When I do get one, the pressure’s on. Interviews are so few and far between that I have to make them count and I get anxious. You know those bumper stickers with the 1-800 numbers that read, “How’s my driving?” I was thinking that there should be one of those for interviewing. I’d love to know what it is that I’m doing wrong. The trouble is that it would never work. It would be hard to ask someone to call and say bad things about me.

The only thing I have left to do is to keep trying. Eventually, I’ll get a job.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yard Sale and more Epinions

My current balance for Epinions has been revised; I now have $6.09 in my account. The thing is that only nine cents comes from reviews that I wrote in February. My review of Netflix has gotten me $1.31 so far. My review of “The Automatic Millionaire” has earned me $1.92 since I posted it on August 24th of this year. I’m still waiting for five episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to be added so that I can post those reviews. I may have to send another email to see if they got my first one.

The yard sale went pretty well. I got rid of a lot of books, but I still have a lot more. I’m going to have to repost them since it would have been too difficult to keep track of what I had sold. I had bought a lot of them at other yard sales, the dollar store and thrift shops. I figure that I made a small profit on what I sold, so I can’t really complain.

Books are particularly difficult to get rid of. My only two options are eBay and Half.com. There are some sites that buy and sell textbooks because of the higher profit margins, but the best I can usually do is a site that acts as an intermediary. I could take them to a used bookstore, but all of the places that I know of only offer store credit and I don’t really want to buy more books. Right now, the best option for my needs is Half.com.

Music and movies are a little easier. Not only do I still have Half.com and eBay, but there’s a site called Second Spin, which will buy CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs, although I might not get more than a quarter for them. Also, I have to pay to ship to them whereas on Half.com and eBay, they buyer pays.

Another option is Spec’s, which buys CDs and DVDs. I think they also buy console games, but I’m not sure. They use to pay cash, but they’ve started giving store credit. If I want cash, I can only get 80% of the value. The cash is more useful to me. It’s the same problem with credit for books; I’d have to buy something there and I don’t listen to enough CDs that the 20% would be worth it.

My absolute last resort is a nearby EB Games, which only offers store credit. At least with EB Games, there’s the possibility of my buying something. I recently got a Grand Theft Auto three-pack, which was selling for $9.99. By using the credit I had earned, I only paid $1.92 for it. The reason I had so little credit is that I don’t bring in too many things to them; they basically get what I can’t get rid of elsewhere. The good news is that they take DVDs, CDs and games and will take almost anything that I bring in. DVDs and CDs don’t bring in that much since that’s not their main business, but I’d rather take a few dollars store credit than have to keep something that I don’t want.

I wish I had some way of selling off the books easily. I may try selling a few on eBay before I go and relist them on Half.com. I’m hoping that there will be a few preorders. With Half.com, someone can place what’s called a preorder, which means that when someone lists an item, they have the option of selling it at the requested price or listing it at a higher price. Once an item is listed, I have no way of knowing if any preorders come in later. Relisting will give me the opportunity to see what’s out there, although I’m not holding out much hope. There are a lot of items listed at 75 cents, which is the minimum someone can list at for any item.

I’ll probably put up another post once I get that done.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The next day

Well, the election went pretty well. As expected, there wasn’t much of a turnout at our precinct. There was really only one issue in our precinct, and that was whether or not to allow slot machines at racetracks. The measure was defeated in Miami-Dade County, but passed in Broward County.

One of the advantages of low turnout is that closing up was easy. I think that we only had two machines where the number of ballots was in the double digits. It really saves very little time because most of the work is the same. We still have to count the number of signatures. We still have to take the machines down. We still have to do all of the same paperwork. This election, we had eight machines instead of the usual nine or ten, which meant that the savings in time was negligible.

The only thing of any interest was a man that wanted to vote in our precinct, but wasn’t registered here. His actual polling place was only a mile away, but he insisted in voting where we were. On Election Day, you have to vote at your home precinct; this is the only reason that we will actually refuse to let someone vote. We think that it may have been someone that was testing us or was trying to get attention. We may never know.

On a different note, I found out that I got some money from Epinions, but it’s still not enough to cash out. I got $2.11 for the month of February, which is down from $3.19 for January. It’s odd because I was actually able to write two reviews a day for February, which was up from one a day for January. I tend to write a lot of reviews of Star Trek episodes, which don’t earn as much. The big money is in electronics.

In a few days, the standings per category and overall will be updated. If you want to see how I’m doing, you can go to http://www.epinions.com/user-seacow. You have to go down a little, but it will show my rank if I’m in the top 1,000. I’ve already made the top 1,000 overall. I’m hoping to also rank in each of the 23 categories. Maybe I’ll even be able to make the top 100 in something.

Some categories, like Education, are easy to rank in. The person that currently holds 1,000th place for pets only has 295 total page views in that category. The only reason that I haven’t ranked is that I only have two reviews in that category. Two more and I’ll probably come close. The hardest to rank in is, of course, electronics with the person in 1,000th place having 8233 total page views. I doubt very much that I’ll ever do that well in Electronics.

I’d be interested in making the top thousand list for individual reviews. The only category where I rank is Business & Technology, where the minimum is 541 for a review. Education is 460 and Pets is 392, but I haven’t made either of those lists. I suppose the trick is to keep writing. I like to write and I seem to do well at it. I don’t get many people that look at my stuff, but those that do tend to rate my stuff pretty well.

I don’t know when my next entry will be. I’ve been meaning to do something on Half.com. I’m sure that I’ll get to it eventually.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Election Day

Today’s the big day. I thought that I’d just write something quickly. I went in yesterday at four to help set everything up. As usual, there was one machine that didn’t work. It took some time with tech support, but all eight machines now work.

I have to be there again at 5:45 a.m., which is in less than thirty minutes. Once there, I’ll probably be there until 8:00 p.m. It’s a long day, but I’ll be getting paid about $150 for it. Someone said that we’ll be getting paid more quickly this time. I hope so. I don’t know what the delay is.

I like the place that we have this time. It’s in a building with several other precincts. The place we had before was ok, but I think that this one is better suited for an election. I’m not really sure what happed with the last location. Rumor is that the property changed ownership and the new owners didn’t want us there, but I never heard anything official.

I still have a little more to do to get ready. I’ll probably do something longer within the next day or two.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Training Day

Yesterday, I went to the training class for the election. The time and place had gotten a little mixed up. I thought I had a dentist appointment on the eighth, so I had it rescheduled for yesterday. (It turns out that the appointment was actually today.) When I got the card, it was actually at a different location and it was still on the eighth. Fortunately, I was able to call back and get it rescheduled.

The training isn’t that bad. It’s supposed to last three hours, but sometimes, the instructor can get you out in less time. I’m not really sure why we need to do this each time. I was told that it’s because of the fiasco a few elections back where South Florida got a lot of negative publicity. I don’t care; I’m getting paid for it. It’s just that a lot of the information is the same.

I’m glad that I went, though. It turns out that there is something for me to vote on. There’s a countywide question about slot machines. I have to go to the Web site to see exactly what it is. I also have to go there to find out where the early-voting sites are. Since I won’t be working in my home precinct, I have to either vote by absentee ballot or vote early.

Not a lot of people know about early voting. Anyone that’s a registered voter in Miami-Dade County can go to any of these sites and vote, regardless of where you live. There are only a dozen sites each election, but it still works out better. I think that this is actually one of the benefits of the new machines; it’s actually possible to have every potential ballot on one machine. I think if more people knew about this, more people would vote. Come Election Day, you’ll have to vote in your own precinct, though. (If you show up in the wrong precinct, you can vote a provisional ballot, but it won’t count.)

Anyway, about the class…

The first thing we had to do was watch a DVD about sensitivity. It’s actually not that bad. It was the same one I had seen last time, though. I think after a few elections, it’s going to get redundant, but I think it’s worth it for those that are just starting out. The production was done pretty well.

Most of the class is going through a booklet and going over procedure. Very little of it changes from election to election. The first time I went to one of these classes, I was nervous; it was my first election and they had made me assistant clerk right off the bat. At first, I thought that assistant clerk was the lowest level. The truth was that of the dozen or so people that had worked that first election, only one had had any prior experience, and it wasn’t the clerk.

Anyway, that’s all behind me. Now, all there is to do is to wait until March 8 and show up at 5:45 a.m.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I got a call today from the Elections Department. It looks like there’s going to be an election in March. I live in precinct 151, but I work in 148. I think that this is a local election. (If it’s something that I’m supposed to be voting in, I haven’t heard anything about it.) The good news is that I usually make something like $150. The bad news is that it comes up so infrequently.

You’re probably thinking that $150 isn’t bad for a day’s work. Normally, I’d agree with you, but I don’t think you realize what goes into a day’s work in this case. First off, I have to go in for a training class. Since the whole thing with the 2000 election, Miami-Dade County requires training before each election and that usually takes a few hours. It’s not that bad. There’s usually very little new information each time, so the worst one is usually the first.

The day before the election, I have to go to the precinct at 4:00 to set up. This is because we use those machines and the machines take a while to set up. Once everything is set up, we get to go back home. This could take another few hours. Again, it’s not so bad. (If you’re getting any ideas, I’d think twice because there’s going to be some sort of security there.)

The day of the election is the worst. Voting takes place from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., but that’s not when my day starts and ends. I have to get there between 5:45 and 6:00 a.m. to make sure that nothing has been tampered with. At 7:00, we open the doors for voters and the day begins. The first rush of people is usually waiting for us to open the doors. This will last until 8:00 or 9:00. Then it’s quiet until noon, when we get the lunch rush. The last rush of the day starts at around 5:00, which is when people start to get off of work. It’s not so bad when it’s quiet.

At 7:00, whoever is at the end of the line gets to vote. (The poll deputy is the one responsible for enforcing this.) Once the last person has voted, we start to clean up. Someone has to count and add the number of ballots cast on each machine while someone else adds up the number of signatures in the books. These two numbers should match, but may differ if people sign in and leave before they actually vote. We also have to pack up the machines.

The poll deputy, who’s basically in charge of security, has to remain with the machines until someone can pick them up. The clerk and assistant clerk take everything else to a collection center. Everyone else gets to go home. I’m an assistant clerk, which means that I get to go to the collection site, where I stand in line and sign several papers and stuff. I’ll probably get out of there around 9:00, although the first time that I worked an election, I didn’t get home until close to midnight.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why anyone would put up with this. In my case, it’s for the money. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have much else going on. I hope you remember what I have to put up with the next time an election comes up in your area. I’m literally not allowed to leave the polling place during the 12-hour span of the election. If I can stay there for 14+ hours, I think you can find the time.

Friday, January 07, 2005

First post

I’ve started a blog. I had heard about these things for a while, but I never really got into it. I think 90% of it is that I had no real reason. A lot of the stuff I’ve seen out there has some topic, like the writer’s cat or a presidential candidate. What could I possible write that would be so interesting? The only thing I can think of is my search for a job.

I was reading in Time magazine that you can get money off of blogs, but that’s assuming anyone reads mine. Even a big readership no promise of success. I have a pretty successful Web page poking fun at Florida’s drivers’ test, putting a Miami spin on it. (http://seacow.www7.50megs.com/test.html) I have yet to see any money from it, but half of that is waiting for the minimum payout. The one pop-up ad site I have going for me is getting me maybe a dollar or two per month and I’m not going to reach Commission Junction’s payout any time soon. Why should I expect this to be any different?

I have to figure that there are enough unemployed people out there that would relate to my story that I could get a few steady readers. I’ve been to so many scams and pyramid schemes that I can pretty much spot them on site now. I’ve tried a few temp agencies; the one that looked promising didn’t bother to return my calls. I guess that’s not going to happen.

I’ve also tried some agencies that specialize in helping people. One agency didn’t work out, but I am going to one place that looks promising. First let me explain that I have Asperger Syndrome. It’s related to autism, but differs slightly. There’s no delayed onset of language skills, but there are other traits like awkward social skills. It’s because of that diagnosis that I am able to get help through the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

I figure that I might as well mention Asperger Syndrome now. I figure that it will give me something to write about when I find a job, and I have to remain optimistic that I will find something soon. I’m going to turn 29 next month. It’s funny to hear about people my age living with my parents until you’re 29 and living with your parents and you realize that the joke is about you.

I do have two things going on right now. I am trying to sell books on Half.com, but that’s not working out too well. My main sources are the dollar store and yard sales. I have to admit that a book that’s been sitting in the dollar store for three months isn’t going to do too well online. I have found a few books that do well, but those tend to go quickly at the dollar store, too. Right now, I’ve been trying to sell down my inventory. Half.com is bringing in maybe $10 per month. (If you’re looking to buy something, I’ve got a pretty good rating. You can look at my inventory by going to http://half.ebay.com/account/functions/view_seller.cfm?member_name=seacow_99.)

The other thing I have going on is Epinions, a site where people write consumer reviews. (You can see my stuff at http://www.epinions.com/user-seacow.) I seem to be doing all right there, but I have to have $10 to cash out and I’m at the point where I can expect that to be about every three or four months. It’s annoying because I know that there are people that probably cash out every other month. I know that I can be making a little more. Epinions lists the most popular reviews and the most popular authors. It’s frustrating to see people that write less and get more hits. What does it say when someone hasn’t written something in several years and still manages to get more hits than me? I’m on the top-thousand list for several categories and I do have one review that’s on the top-thousand list, but the overall top-thousand list eludes me. (If you go to the link above, you can see how I’m doing.)

I figure that one of three things will happen. First, I might find a job; this is what I’m banking on. Second, I might be able to do something with either Half.com or Epinions or even both, but I’m not holding my breath. Third, I might be able to do something with this, although I’m not counting on it. I’m not even sure how to set up the advertising yet or if I even can until I get a large enough readership. I’ll have to see how it goes.