Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Technology bullshit

Today started off fine, but is going straight down the crapper. Here's why:

1) I was driving my car back from delivering a cab customer back to Rochdale and the temperature gauge is way up in the red and occasionally the beeping alarm thing goes off. I just had the water pump replaced as well as my timing belt. Now my car is sitting at Gerardi's garage in Tatnuck awaiting some sort of repair that I can't afford.

2) WordPress. See my previous blog.

3) The cable tv isn't working all of a sudden. Worked fine last night. I turn on the tv. I turn on the cable box. I can flip through channels and the guide bar at the bottom tells me what I SHOULD be seeing, but instead I get an empty black screen where there should be the show.

I called Charter Communications. They ask me on the automated service for my 10 digit phone number so they can access my account. I give them my cell phone. Then I get transferred to a "live" human who asks me for the same phone number again. It's my ONLY phone number. And he asks if I might have another phone number and I tell him, NO, but I can give him the phone number attributed to me on the bill which was SHUT OFF over a year ago.

Then Mr. Cheerful asks me how he can assist me. "The cable's not working. It worked yesterday. Why is it not working now." I explained the whole situation. He tries to send a signal remotely from wherever the hell Charter-land is. Nothing.

We try unplugging the cable box and waiting 15 seconds and then re-plugging it in. It re-boots. It sits on a blue screen saying Scientific Atlanta or some other technical bullshit. Then eventually it goes to some other screen saying it's loading COD Service, please wait a moment. For alot more than a moment, I wait and I exasperating tell this Mr. Cheerful Asshole Whoever that these problems just keep on happening with Charter. We pay enough every month as it is without needing all this aggrivation. In fact, I JUST PAID THE BILL yesterday, IN CASH!

Now I don't even get the Guide bar telling me what's on each channel. It just says "No Data Available". Mr. Cheerful tells me that maybe it's just a bad box and that maybe I should try bringing it to Charter and swapping it for a different box.

So let me see if I get this straight... I PAY Charter. Their equipment isn't reliable so I have to inconvenience myself by taking time out from MY bill-paying, life-sustaining work to go TRY getting a functioning cable box so that MAYBE that fixes the problem. Oh, by the way, I'm still paying for today's NON-receiving of cable.

Read #1 again. My f-ing car is at the garage!!!!!!! I guess I could take a freakin' taxi to Charter. Oh wait... after 6pm... Charter is conveniently closed. THANK YOU, CHARTER!

At least my cable modem / internet access is still working (fingers crossed)...

***** UPDATE!!!!! *****

One day later, television viewing has magically returned / has been restored / something. Hooray for Charter. Best ever. Ugh... jerks. If there WERE other options...

WordPress blows - OR - things don't have to be so complicated

deleted because the feelings of the designer who set up InCity Times with WordPress were hurt.

but SAVED! just in case... so...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

AG at the T.E.A. Party Rally in Worcester

(click for larger images)

After work on Wednesday, I left the cab lot, drove to the other end of Prescott Street, parked the car in WPI's Gateway Park area and walked on over to Lincoln Square to be a part of the Worcester, MA T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) Party Rally thing.

I'm not usually one for joining groups, following things blindly or taking marching orders from anyone. If anything, I'm independent to a fault. But I am definitely someone who believes in a smaller, less-intrusive government. I'd like to see tax money spent better than it is right now. I'd like our elected officials to REALLY work for US, their constituents. Hey, I have to live within a budget. There's no reason why our government can get away with NOT living within its means, just like I have to. And seeing what's happened in America since our recent President was elected, I would like to at least be a body in the crowd of people willing to gather together to take a stand, make a statement that they are not happy with the way things are going.

So... I walked to the rally armed with my sketchpad, pens and digital camera.

I stood in and around the gathering point in front of the now-defunct (and as we're told "condemned" as we weren't allowed to go on the steps of the massive structure) Worcester AUD(itorium) and I drew. I reported in picture / cartoon / illustration form what I saw, what I thought, what I felt. I wasn't a reporter in any strict sense of the word, but I was there not only to be present, but to record the event in my own unique way.

One guy came over to me and jokingly (?) said that he was pretty sure that I wasn't Homeland Security. A photographer of some sort, took lots of photos of me standing and drawing what I saw. HBML / Worcester creative person Jacob Berendes came over to me, said "hi" and commented on liking to see oldschool reporting going on at the gathering, meaning he liked seeing me drawing and writing in an actual sketchpad instead of texting on a Blackberry or video conferencing simulcasting bla-bla-bla-ing in some new fangled hi-tech way... For the most part, people let me be and I completed two full sketchpad pages of observations.


1) LOTS of signs. Some (most) made right there on the spot, hand-markered, staple-gunned onto wooden sticks. LOTS of great messages that weren't offensive, but direct and confrontational.

2) Cheesy patriotic music played from the speakers. Hokey stuff that may have meant something to the vox populi, but was just over the top sappy and heavy-handed in my book. Lots of neo-crap country music sounding stuff. And some dude sang that "Proud to Be An American" song and it was really nauseating these ears. I just don't go for all these songs that the hardcore followers / believers are nuts about and I'm not afraid to criticize them. The songs' messages may be what I'm thinking, but the songs just basically suck.

3) People walking around wearing goofy patriotic Colonial America hats, not to mention going the whole nine yards by dressing as Thomas Jefferson... please. Two kids in kilts and other Scottish gear, playing traditional Scottish music on drum & bagpipe. Please. Ugh. Good music, I guess, but seemed tacky. But then again, I'm just not into all the decoration, I'd rather they just get down to business with the speeches and such. Leave all the tackiness out.

4) Jordan Levy was doing a live broadcast at the rally. Reporters from the Worcester Telegram and from Charter TV Channel 3 were there. Maybe there was someone from Worcester Magazine, but who knows? Maybe I was there representing InCity Times, but I was really there just representing myself and doing some drawing for a possible upcoming InCity cartoon.

5) There was a wide range of people. All ages. Adults, kids, elderly, teen, etc.

6) No chaos. Very civil. No craziness. THIS should add legitimacy to this gathering and to the points that the people at this event are trying to convey.

I left before the event ended. It was nearly 5pm and I wanted to get home. I'd been working since quarter to six in the morning, was tired and was going out for a trivia night thing out in West Boylston. In other words, I have a life, but I didn't want the day to go by without being a part of what I think is an important event.

I've always used my cartoon art to express my opinions and to take stands on what I think are important issues. And this rally just reinforced in me that I have to continue to use my cartoon in print as my rallying pulpit.

(On a bitter note, it's too bad that Worcester Magazine's replacement for Action Geek is such a weak, meaningless little waste of time of a read. I've gotten comments from cab customers that they miss AG in WoMag and they all wonder why AG was replaced by whatever the new cartoon is called. Several have expressed that they just don't "get" what this new cartoon is even about or if it's supposed to be funny or even make sense. I reply that I really don't know, as I barely give WoMag a glance week after week. Maybe I'll look at it online, but that's usually a very quick visit, much like the paper is a very quick read.

If WoMag's intentions were to be "edgier" by adding this cartoon and shit-canning Action Geek, which actually stood for things, expressed strong opinions and wouldn't take any crap from people, then I'd have to say that WoMag has failed. If anything, WoMag is just as tame as ever, doesn't really challenge Worcester in the slightest and continues to just blend into the background. Oh well.

Action Geek cartoons can still be read in the pages of the InCity Times. Maybe eventually the publisher will learn how to post the cartoons herself on the ICT website, but until then, you can read them on MY website...)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day Shift At Last...

It's been a while since I last blogged about taxi cab driving & life in general...

I've shifted to day shift from night shift. My day begins at 5:00 AM when my alarm goes off. 5:30 or so, I'm heading to the cab lot. 5:45 I'm off and running in Red Cab #89.

I've had to re-learn patterns. Take copious amounts of notes on jobs that go out, when, where, who, how much and ascertain whether they are regular customers I should be concerned about remembering. I've gotten somewhat accustomed to the fast & furious pace at which jobs come & go and how to strategically position myself to hopefully get more work and make more money... Night shift driving and having a survivalist's brain in my skull have trained me well for the savagery of day shift. I'm not even exagerating about how much tougher it is on day shift and I WAS WARNED and it's true, but I think I'm doing okay, duking it out with veteran cab drivers, as I'm rapidly becoming an experienced cab driver in my own right.

I switched to day for two big reasons:

I want to spend more time with my girlfriend Brooke who I love very much. Working days means that I can live more of a normal life and do things with Brooke or even on my own solo when everyone else is out & about doing things instead of the strange twisted schedule of night shift. She & I both thought that the two of us having opposite schedules would allow us to have our own personal space & time, but we quickly discovered that we wanted to spend MORE time together rather than just as ships passing eachother in the night, only really getting together on Saturday nights & Sunday. Since switching to day shift, things have only gotten better for us...

Second reason... Money. As summer approaches, the cab business starts to suffer. The college kids leave town. People start walking or bicycling or whatever else instead of taking cabs and there's less money to be made driving a cab. But during the day, there are still elder home care jobs, still doctor's office visits, still grocery store runs, etc. and I figured that I'd been on nights long enough and proven myself to be a reliable, conscientious, good-earner cab driver and that the company wouldn't mind me switching to days.

Okay... third reason... Day shift means I can actually go out at night again. I can go for scooter rides, go to bars instead of just dropping off customers at the bars, go for walks at night and watch the stars...

The only down side to day shift, aside from the lying, cheating & stealing that routinely goes on, is that I tend to physically crash (get super tired) around 9:30pm. Oh well... I'm pretty sure I can live with that...

There have been quite a few adventures of late, but I'll attempt to tackle them later on...