Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hello? Who is this?

I am thoroughly enjoying Job #1. I've been auditing lately. It's been fun because I get to see some delightful old advertising. I've been working on old telphone books from England, which features half page ads with messages like:

Call Up Your Friends By Telephone


Don't say HULLO
Announce Your Identity

They're wonderful.

(As an aside: If anyone knows someone with images that they would like to have scanned and lots of rolls of old film. Or microfiche. Or very old books... to have scanned. Do let me know. They've started offering our services to the public, and I get an ipod if I refer someone who signs a contract.)

Job #2...Well. I still have mixed feelings about it. Lavish told me that I've gone to the "Dark Side." Hm. I told her that I didn't like it either, but that they were going to be paying me. (She replied, "Would you be an abortion doctor if the pay was good?") So, as penance, I've decided to share some dirty secrets.

  1. Don't click on pop-up ads for Free Laptops! Free Dinners! Free Jeans! or Free! anything else. Just don't do it. If you do, you will enter your personal contact information (for your Free! thing, right?) and then they will ask you to sign up for different offers. One of them may be for school on the Internet. Just say no! Every little button you click means that your information will be sold to other people. Then at the end, they'll force you to either sign up for something that costs real money, or you'll give up. And your information is out there, either way. People will call you like crazy.
  2. If someone on the phone tells you that they got your information from a form you filled out, you probably did it. Even if you don't remember doing it. We really don't call up random people for kicks. ALSO, other people sometimes enter your information in those sorts of things (all it takes is your name and phone number) in order to get back at you for something. We're not asking for your credit card info on the phone, so you don't have to be suspicious about us having shady motivations. Our shady motivation is just to sell your information to more people. Which isn't great, but isn't much worse than you filling out the form in the first place.
  3. Supposing that someone calls you and you're not interested, what should you do? Well, if it's us, you should answer the phone and tell us that you're not interested. We don't try to change peoples' minds about things, we just call to see if you're interested or not. Some people think that ignoring the calls is a good solution. It really isn't. If you never answer when we call, we will call you 8 times (4 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon/evening). And then, you go on a "never contacted" list that we will pull out later when we don't have enough new people to call. If, instead, you tell us that you're not interested the first time that we call, we won't call you again.
  4. If you think that saying "DO NOT CALL ME AGAIN!" will get you taken off of "the list", you're wrong. The only time we put people on the Do Not Call list is if they specifically say the word "list". If people call you, tell them to take you off of the list. By law, they have to do so, and send you something saying that they did within a month. If you don't use the magic word "list" we just write "Not Interested." Which is a little different. (One man here in Utah makes a couple hundred thousand dollars every year by looking for pop-ups all day long, putting his information in EVERYTHING, and telling companies to take him off of their list. If they don't send him something within a month, he sues them. And he wins, over and over.)
  5. Your information is very valuable. Some companies will pay hundreds of dollars for ONE name and phone number. They told us about a list of 20 names that was worth thousands of dollars because they came from a really good survey. Or something. But who knew there was so much in it for other people?

The end.

Calling people is sometimes funny. I'll post some Job #2 stories later. And bus stories.

Right now, it's time for dinner.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spiders, Part I

A couple nights ago, there was a massive spider on my wall, right above my bed. My eyes widened and I backed away.

I offered to spray it with spider-killer and Lavish said that I couldn't because it would make our room smell. She told me to smash it. I couldn't. "I can't," I told her. I'm terribly afraid of spiders. She tried to talk me into killing it by making it sound like it was simple. But I still couldn't do it. Since it was such a simple thing for her, I suggested she kill it. "It's on your wall," she said.

So we tried to talk our other sister (visiting for the weekend) into killing it. "Here's what I am willing to do: Give me a BIG piece of Tupperware, and a BIG piece of cardboard..." She went to look for suitable trapping material, and found one of our roommates (who had just returned from a long camping trip).
"T, are you afraid of spiders?"
"No." (She wasn't. I bet she catches spiders with her bare hands, just for fun.)
"If you'll kill this one, you'll be my hero forever."

My sister tried to warn her about the size of the monster that was occupying my wall, and roommate didn't even care. She probably thought my sister was exaggerating. The roommate came into our room and said, "Holy crap, that is huge." And then she smashed it with a little piece of tissue. And that was the end of it.

I started wondering: why am I so afraid of spiders?! Bees and june bugs elicit similar reactions.

The classic reasons that people are not supposed to be afraid of spiders are:
1. They're small. (But so are many dangerous pathogens...)
2. They're more afraid of us than we are of them. (I'm not so sure about this one. How can something that simple know to be afraid of me? Also, many small dogs act like they're bigger than they are. Chihuahuas bark at big dogs all the time.)
3. Spiders have never hurt me. (That I know of.)

But to some degree, these things are true. It would therefore be logical to decide that I'm not afraid of spiders. Too bad it isn't that simple.

I've figured this out, though. The reason I am afraid of spiders is because they have superpowers. Consider these examples:
  • They walk up walls.
  • They have extra limbs. (Note: Octopuses also have extra limbs, and they are equally scary. In movies, they are virtually impossible to defeat.)
  • They have eyes that face different directions. Which equates to special vision power.
  • They can fly. (Not true of all spiders, because technically if they fly, they're not spiders. However, there are some insects that look quite a bit like spiders that do fly. Also, this reason is especially poignant when it comes to fear of bees and june bugs.)
  • They hang in mid air.
  • They disappear and reappear, which gives them the element of surprise.
  • They are armed and dangerous, sort of. I've heard that some spiders have 1000s of tiny teeth, and are poisonous. (Just, their mouths are too small to be able to bite us.) (Bees have a stinger, which means they're always armed, which puts them on the offensive.)

And with so many convincing reasons, it's no wonder that spiders terrify me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm still here.

I actually haven't disappeared. I've just been busy. (And have a temperamental Internet connection here.)

I needed a job, so I've been sending out resumes like nobody's business.

I almost didn't go to my first interview, because I wasn't sure if I wanted the job. Branflakes was kind enough to drive me to and from the interview, despite my uncertainty. The interview was great! We laughed and joked about Lemony Snicket books and other things. By the time I was done, I really wanted to work there.

And I got the job! I've only been working there for a week and a half, but I'm very happy with it.

Things that I like about my new job:
  • Everyone brings their ipods to work. Like, really everyone.
  • And often, people wear jeans.
  • I have a really cool security badge that has my picture on it and something inside that unlocks doors.
  • My coworkers are friendly! They plan parties and ice cream trips.
  • During our break, everyone plays a card game together.
  • I worried that it might be telemarketing or something like unto it, and instead it isn't at all. I process images.

And then, as though that wasn't enough...

  • Every Thursday morning they feed us. There were a dozen different kinds of bagels, and 15? different kinds of cream cheese. I love bagels. They also have donuts and fruit.

I really enjoy work.

I'm not attending school this Fall, though. I was really looking for more than just a part-time position.

I navigated buses to attend another job interview. The second interview was for a construction position (don't laugh). It offered 60 (sixty!) hours of work per week. Which sounded perfect. I went to my interview and was immediately offered the job. Wonderful.

I filled out a bunch of paperwork. I took a test on the computer about how often I hit people, share drugs with coworkers, and steal things from companies that I work for. Fine. I took my drug test. (A kind I've never taken before; it involves sucking on a hard lollypopish thing that softens with saliva.) Good. I finished my safety training. No scaffolding higher than thirty feet. Excellent.

We sat down to discuss the details. I needed a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves. They would be provided. I needed steel-toed boots. They would not be provided. No problem. I was to report to the site (not near Provo) at SIX AM, and work would go until 4 pm. Hm. My job that I'd already accepted was from 8 am until noon. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Yesterday, I completed two more tests (online) for a company that wanted me to do them before our interview. The first one was 90 minutes long! It had six sections, and was very similar to the SATs. It featured personality questions, which-do-you-prefer (teaching someone a new skill, or creating art? etc.) questions, vocabulary questions, analogies, math questions, number-sequence what-comes-next questions (20 23 28 14 17 22 11)... It was intense! And then the second test that they wanted me to do was similar to the construction one. [EDIT 10/17/07 - If you found me by googling the sequence: The answer to that sequence is 14. The pattern is +3, +5, x 2, +3, +5, x2, ? so the next one is +3 and 11+3 is 14.]

Two real questions from it were: Indicate your current use of any illegal drugs. * Daily * Once or twice a week * Weekends * Once or twice a month * I do not use illegal drugs * I'm not sure how often. annnnndd... The small amount of drugs you sold or gave your coworkers was not enough to hurt their performance. * I agree. * I'm not really sure about their performance. * I have never sold or given any illegal drugs to my coworkers. There were like 180 of these suckers.

And then! (After all of that!) I accepted a different job today. Starting tomorrow, I'll be working 10 hours per day between the two jobs. I'm really hoping that the new job works out; I'm supposed to be there an hour after my first job ends, and it takes about that long on the bus to get there. We'll see.

Job hunting has been my main excitement lately.

Other things I've done:

  • Last weekend I was in a parade! I handed out Otter Pops to hot people (like, many people in the sun; not just the good-looking ones.)
  • I've been reading books. I read Freakonomics (Levitt), and Prozac Diary (Slate), and I'm currently reading Basic Eight (Handler) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (Sedaris).
  • My birthday was this Saturday. Lavish took me to see a play, since I was in the mood to see one. We saw 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' and it was fun. Both Lavish and I remembered enjoying it before, but we must have been quite a bit younger then. It was quite different from what we remembered.
  • Attended my cousin's wedding reception.
  • Went to the Death Cab for Cutie concert.
  • I've watched a lot of Arrested Development with Optimistic. I'm through the first DVD of the second season. And I really enjoy it.
  • I finished my Sociology class! I got an A. (Everyone I know keeps buying textbooks for their Fall classes, and I'm jealous. I miss school.)

I think that's all. With any luck, I'll go back to writing shorter, more frequent blog posts. (Oh, sad. The pictures are not posting. I'll try again later.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Well, I've finally done it.

I moved to Utah a week ago. I made it official during the week by getting a library card.

My sister didn't tell our roommates that I was moving in, which made the move a little more interesting. Our roommates seem nice enough. The only problem is, I can't tell them apart! They're two blonde sisters, and they look nearly identical to me. I really am trying to learn which one is which, but for now I'm addressing them without calling them anything. It's sometimes awkward. Take a couple days ago, for example:

Our neighbor came over. I couldn't remember his name, even though I'd met him twice already. He wondered if my roommates were home. I told him I'd check. I went downstairs and found one of them on the couch. "The neighbor is here," I told her, not specifying which neighbor. I walked back to the door. "One of them is," I told him, not specifying which one.

I just know it's going to cause problems later.

I'm enjoying Utah so far.

There are so many people my age. I keep wondering what happened to all of the older adults. Also, it appears as though BYU hands out small children as part of matriculation. Everyone here has a toddler and a baby. Well, not everyone. A lot of people do, though.

And people go walking. Outside. I walk outside. In fact, I walked past an impressive statue of Brigham Young. They just don't have statues of of him in front of Californian libraries. It was nice.

Church is different here in Provo. I mean, it's the same everywhere, and all that, but my student ward here is much different than my family ward back in California.

We had Relief Society first, and our lesson was on the importance of marriage.

It reminded me of a game we would play while I was on my mission. I would choose a gospel principle (for example, "the fall of Adam"), and then the other person would fan through the scriptures, randomly stopping on one page, and pointing at a verse without looking first. Then they would have to explain Adam's fall using some random scripture that would generally not be related to it at all. If they knew their scriptures well, it would be easier because they could explain the background story of the verse, and from a story you can usually make connections. The game was an amusing one.

But as I was sitting there in RS, I kept wanting to guess what the real lesson was about. Because it seemed like the lesson could have been about anything and still been about marriage. It's easy. Emphasis just goes on different parts of quotes: "and she stood by her husband."

And then, as though I hadn't had enough fun, our next class was "Choose Your Own Adventure" style. We could choose between two separate Sunday School classes!

The one that we chose reminded me of the math class in the movie 'Better Off Dead'.
Teacher: "Who would like to read?"
Entire class: "OH, me! Pick me!"
Teacher: "John?"
Everyone else: "Aww."
(repeated throughout the lesson)

And then our sacrament meeting had stadium seating.

And what could be better than stadium seating for sacrament meeting?