That's not what the Death card means

You want it to be one way, but it's the other way
written 2014-04-15 12:31:33

Still no joy. This economy is killing me.

I don't use credit cards because I don't like the nebulous nature of fake money. Is my balance zero? It is, except there are fees, and you owe us $0.03 on the $1.00 we charge you for not using the card, and while you paid the $1.00, we did not receive the $0.03 and now you owe $25 in nonpayment fees, for which you also owe us $0.75, which will not appear on your statement.

So, last year, I call up the company and I say, "Cancel it, you people are vultures, why should I pay $100 every year to be allowed to have your credit card, which I do not use?"

They reply, "No sweat. Though, you'll lose all the flyer miles you've built up."

" many miles are we talking about?"

"About 25,000. Enough for a free roundtrip anywhere in the US."

"...dammit. All right, keep it open, here's $100."

Later that year, they said I had forfeited all those miles because I did not use my card. I didn't understand this concept, but I gave them some more money to return my accumulated miles to me. Understand, I didn't get anything in return for that money. It was just $30 or something for them to say, "Okay, yeah, now I see the 25,000 miles."

In a different context, this is called extortion.

So, this year, again having not used my credit card, they told me I had again forfeited my miles. At this point, I'm ready to accept the loss of one roundtrip flight (without Ingrid, unless we pay for it) just to get off this damn treadmill. To wrap it up completely, I called the credit card company and told them to cancel it. I'd read ahead and knew they'd try to convince me to stay, but I wasn't going to agree to pay $100 annually in any circumstance.

I call in, and they're a little short, a little rude. (And why not? Can you imagine if your job was to talk to people about money, in this economy? Everyone's poor, and you have to tell them they owe you an extra $25 this month. Everyone who isn't poor is pissed off about not being richer than they are, and everyone who's rich is pissed off about everyone else hating them. Okay, actually, the rich people have people who handle this sort of crap for them, but still. Not an easy job.) I tell them I'm canceling because I don't want to pay $100 every year to have a credit card I don't use.

"Shall we change your account so that there is no annual fee?"



Okay, fine, great, but look here: what the hell have I been paying $100 a year for for the past eight years? Flyer miles, sure, but then the CS person tells me I will still earn them with the no-annual fee card. So, basically, I was paying them because I agreed to pay them.

I feel like this is just further evidence that no two people perceive money in the same way. It makes me feel like my class-struggle perceptions are needlessly attenuated; a copy of a copy of a handwritten note describing a photograph.

My next step is to stop acknowledging money altogether and begin using a system of moral and ethical economics. Do good, or do well, and be paid in kind.

--12:28 PM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, my pastor, and my grandfather, who is dead

Shikata ga nai
written 2014-01-20 17:10:24

No news. Have not worked since getting dropped last October. TGI Ingrid, who is really not too concerned with our financial situation (she made sure our cost-of-living was cheaper here for our house than it was for her one-bedroom in DC). Have been applying for jobs way outside of the legal arena -- registrar's office in a college, records keeping for government agency -- since temp work seems to be a thing of the past and permanent work has proven a myth.

Things is rough. So be it. I apologize for posting total bummer material.

--5:07 PM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, "6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy"

You get over there without a second to lose
written 2013-10-19 20:22:01

Today: got up early enough to eat and drink extra water before donating blood. Donated blood. Bought Ingrid lunch at a place she likes, bought myself lunch at Burger King -- not sure why? Have been vaguely thinking about how long its been since I ate there? Looked around and bought nothing at the following places: Elevation Burger, Brave New Worlds, Golfsmith. Had lunch with Ingrid and told her stories about nerd girls trying to pick me up because of my Chaotic Awesome shirt. Watched Midsomer Murders while Ingrid napped (hard work week), and then showed her two episodes of Firefly. Felt good all day - no dizziness or light-headedness.

This week: got fired, saw Eugene Mirman, Kristin Schaal and John Hodgman perform, played way too much Dawn of War: Soulstorm.

Statistically, this has been a very good week. On average. Sucks to start it with losing your job, though.

--8:16 PM EDT, Philadelphia, PA, And you're the last best thing I got going

If you don't like the weather
written 2013-09-15 22:01:27

When I was a child, I dreaded Sundays.

I'm not sure why. There was some kind of feeling of wasted potential about them -- that I had not gone out and learned to fire a bow and arrow, that I had not constructed a remote control helicopter, that I had not done something worthwhile -- and now the weekend was going to end, and I would have lost this opportunity to do something, once again, just as I had last week.

It's Sunday. I have that feeling again.

I think it's because I have a project starting tomorrow. That idea that I had X days off since the last one, but tomorrow marks the end of those days, and I haven't accomplished anything. (Regardless of chores done, guests entertained, games played, etc.) And the work represents yet more time I'll spend in this terrible purgatory - no, limbo: purgatory at least has a hypothetical release date.

I told a coworker last week: these jobs give us experience we can never use. I have data and time served with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Federal Commodities Trade Commission and all sorts of other unwieldily named laws and agencies - and not one of them would recognize the job I do as meaningful experience. Because we're temps. We're held to a standard of meaningful lawyer-client ethical and professional obligations and we get fuck-all in return.

My unemployment insurance benefit period ended last week. This means almost nothing, only that I have to re-apply for benefits for the times when I'm not currently on a project. However, I've spent large chunks of time out of work in the last six or nine months, and the benefits look at the last five quarters to determine how much you made in that time in order to give you a percentage of that amount. Upshot: the possibility of a lot less money for the lean times.

So, I have to rely on having work that avails me nothing in the long run, and hope that it lasts long enough for the state to consider me a worthy reinvestment. I have to hope that I get a job I hate, that it lasts a long time, in order to receive welfare when it runs out.

I know my life is pretty good, but it feels pretty fucked up right now. I apologize if you're the kind of person who was getting used to the cheery, upbeat information here, lately, or if you're the kind of person who would rather not read f-bombs. But that's where I'm at, right now. That's the purpose of this page, in addition to helping people check and see if I'm still sucking air. Current status: repeating an identical course of action, hoping for different results.

--9:57 PM, EDT, Sunday, 9/15/2013, "You Can [Not] Advance"

If belief in Satan is predicated on belief in God
written 2013-09-11 17:41:57

Work has gotten scarce in my line of work - the temporary attorney biz, the doc reviewer line, the coding schtick - and as a result I've gotten grim and surly enough to want to write in this space again.

I cannot remember any HTML tags. Please do not be offended at how plain-- heh, it's a white screen with text. If you wanted formatting, you'd be... well, anywhere else, right now.

So two weeks ago, they write to me and say "Heslin, you want some work?" and I say "Heck yeah, I can work," and they say "Cool, don't call us, we'll call you." And then about a week later they call again, and say "Can you come in tomorrow morning?" And I say, "Well, I would, but I'll be on a place to Alabama tomorrow morning. Thanks for being so timely about inquiring if I wanted work."

That's the nature of the business, though. It might be hours from now, it might be three weeks from now, and it might go from "Definitely happening" to "The clients settled, there won't be a project after all" in the course of days, if not hours. "I'm available" means what the tense implies: I'm currently available. You didn't ask about later this week, or next month, or the weekend in November when I'll be Quebec City. You asked about now. Don't bitch when I happen to be in Alabama when you decide to get off your ass and offer me a gig.

And so but then last week I got a short-notice call for work. Thursday night inquiry for Friday noon training (italics to indicate contempt), with the laughable "Can you work this weekend?" No, doc review guy, I can't work this weekend, because I have friends coming over, and football is starting, and why the REDACTED would I want to work on the weekend? Yes, I'm technically unemployed and yes, the WASP work ethic drives me to flagellate myself whenever I'm not working, but you know what? You need more than just shitty, unfulfilling, no-options hourly wage-paying crap in order to live. Dum vivimus, vivamus!

Okay, I'm getting a little crazy with the HTML tags. I reverse apologize.

So they told us we'd get 50 hours of work. I did 5 on Friday, so I'm planning on four ten-hour shifts this week and a short Friday (which would pay OT time-and-a-half, yes, please). Important contextual note about doc review: Project managers lie. They lie like rugs. Like snakes. Like people with pathological truth issues. Liars, every one. Yesterday (25 hours in) we were told we'd finish the work today, Wednesday. Note, this total is not 50 hours, and certainly has not reached the overtime mark. FOUL PROJECT MANAGERS. Curse their names.

So today my plan was to work nice and slow, spend some time working up a business card for my new professional service, "A White Guy Listens To Your Problems," and then clock out. Make a little extra bank despite their efforts to keep me down, like the sheriff in that Bob Marley song. Guess how that worked out? The only other person on this project -- literally, there were two of us -- burned through all of his work too fast, and the project manager told him to take half of my work away from me.


So, yeah. Home early, middle of the week. Waiting to hear on some other project that is currently started but not happening, or something? Disqualified from unemployment by 5 hours last week and 25 hours this week. Bank account real, real low. A check that I was supposed to get some weeks ago still regretfully undelivered.

Is... is this the part where I whine? Yeah, I'm still not in a great position for self-pity. I'm lying around in the air conditioning, running errands for Ingrid, getting hassled by Abby. I got a copy of Red Mars, so I can start rereading the trilogy again, and I'm getting close to finishing my reread of Infinite Jest, which is on my phone. For those of you who don't know, Infinite Jest is one of those huge self-indulgent books that book nerds haul around so everyone can see what a huge book nerd they are -- and it fits on my phone.

Living in the future is so great. This future particularly.

--5:37 PM EDT, 9/11/13, Philadelphia, PA, "It's about to get real / I'm kind of a big deal", Tribe One

The terms "bro," "joint" and "wack
written 2013-05-13 10:30:46

There's a minor problem here. They want us to slow down so we can all bill more hours on this project. I was already working slow to bill more hours on this project.

It's not really a problem. It just means I end up bored. I have the internet, though, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem...?


I'd like to find out if I can use the fire stairs to come and go from work (seventh floor) but I feel like asking would flag me as a likely terrorist. Sitting still for eight hours is super bad for you. The health blogs say so!

To anyone who is familiar with my health regimen: I have some bad news. I went to the doctor, got looked at, and had some tests done. I was expecting, "You're fine, you-- oh, Christ, your cholesterol is WHAT? You sure you're breathing? Check again."

In fact, my cholesterol is middlin' to low, and my general health is fine. That's with sweet FA in the way of exercise, and terrible terrible diet. I should be dead, to hear all the hype. But I'm not? I'm pleased to hear it, but I'm also a little pissed at everyone who ever said anything about diet and health. Because they are all liars.

Please go look at my LinkedIn page. I started vandalizing it because it's worth two things: Jack and shit. And Jack stopped updating his LinkedIn page.

--Philadelphia, PA, I'll take all you sons of bitches when I go, 5/13/2013

This is wicked late, and on my phone.
written 2013-05-10 14:23:09

Me, Christoph (!Malk), Marty (Tzim), John (Law Firm).

Matt Morgan, Camarilla fatties, Martin (!Nos), Sonam, (Spirit Marionette Dominate), Me, Marty.

Jevon (Kiasyd), Peter Kapsalis (!Gangrel with Services), Me, Kym Alishahi (Anarch Pot Revolt).

DC. Sometime last year.

Just want to stay up and write this song
written 2013-01-11 19:49:39

I didn't note when that last update went up, but I'm sure there's a timestamp somewhere. REGARDLESS, it was a while ago, and a while before that since the prior one.

I have to interpret these lapses as good things. Life's good, home's nice, Ingrid's wonderful. I have work, if just for the minute; I spent the better part of the last three months out of a job. It was not nearly the catastrophic event it has been in the past, thanks to my sugar momma, but it still wrecked my savings. The student loan people will wait two months to tell you if you qualify for a deferment or a forbearance or whatever, but they will not wait at all to tell you you owe them for the current payment.


So I have a lot less money on hand for when I need it. I renewed the permanent job search, which, oogh, let me tell you, that's some depressing shit. I really believe my future is in general services, and in the era of the internet, no one needs someone who can do a little of everything. The Renaissance is dead. Long live specialization. ("Specialization is for insects." --Lazarus Long)

2013 is here, and I can make things out of yarn (Bros Don't Crochet), I'm going down to the Arbitration center again to do my part to provide impartial justice (and trick The Man), I'm perpetually dissatisfied, but fuck it. I have things pretty damn good right now and I'm going to try and recognize that.

The upshot of all this is, things aren't easy, but things are good. I'm too busy living to stop and record it. I hope you'll get ahold of me in other ways if this blog doesn't update often enough for your purposes. You're the reason this blog exists, after all.

--7:43 PM, EST, 1/11/2013, Philadelphia, PA, i'll meet you down at the big yellow joint

I am just a baker man, and I live inside a baking can
written 2012-08-17 11:49:04

Let me tell you what a good week is:

You start off without much to be excited about. You have these bookshelves lying around since you bought them and didn't construct them. You aren't playing D&D and you aren't running D&D because everyone is grown-up and has things they have to do other than having fun. You should probably go to the dentist soon.

But look again: weather's getting less oppressively hellish. There's work, and overtime if you want. Your girlfriend reminds you she kicks nine kinds of ass multiple times per week. There's a ton of new Adam WarRock stuff out there, and the acts with whom he is touring are a good exposure to new music. (I've heard that not being interested in new music is a sign of getting old.)

Last week, Adam came to the North Star Bar with Zilla Persona, Triceratopolis, Math The Band, and MC Lars. It blew my both my ears and mind out. I expect a show like that to be Awesome (Adam) and Whatever (everyone else). There was no second category at this show. Tons of sincerity, tons of awesome.

But we're talking about this week: Adam, Tribe One, Mikal kHill and Jesse Dangerously are coming to town next month, and put out a full album of new songs over one another's beats to raise money to travel on. Now, again, I am already in the tank for these guys, but it's a great album, and it's great to contribute to the war effort. Altruism, guys!

Also this week: I put on a suit and went and assumed a solemn mien, and dispensed justice as a participant in Philadelphia's arbitration program. That's right, I was responsible for others' judgments and awards. Run screaming, those of you who wish for a learned and informed judiciary. I am amok.

I got a new bag. It says "Bag of Holding" on the side, because I am a huge geek, and I will fly that flag. Represent. (It came with a black t-shirt reading "Chaotic Awesome" and a d20 that lights up when you roll a crit. NERD CRED)

It's just been a good week. Ingrid and I got a little Sonic one night, I built those shelves, I watched a little basic cable, I played my foolish Facebook Avengers game. The weather's always getting better; it's all downhill from here.

There, see? That was some boring-ass content. You'll be back when I'm bitching and moaning, no doubt.

--11:34 AM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, "so everyday at home was spent breaking those habits / 'cause his father wasn't raising no [redacted]", Tribe One, "Different" (get it here, that's an order.)

If this is obnoxious, it must be blogday
written 2012-07-03 14:22:59

I don't even remember what HTML tags this page uses.

Yeah! So! I have this page I never update. This is an update.

As with prior updates, there's nothing to complain about so I don't post anything. Because "Everything's fine, I like my house and my girlfriend and I have some money so I can buy things" is pretty fucking lame. What we - and by 'we' I mean the internet - want is some good ol' schadenfreude. Let's begin.

Two weeks ago, my job says, "We're running out of work. Finish up what you're doing now and then go home, we'll call you to come back soon." This is not terribly surprising in my line of work, as we are temps and our services are not constantly in demand. It is disappointing, certainly.

Last week, no calls. Late in the week, there's an e-mail saying "We'll have work for you soon. Probably Monday."

(Those of you familiar with me bitching about work may note: everything these people say is a lie.)

So Monday comes. And no word. This is now over a week of no work, which tends to negatively impact my financial landscape. Thank goodness for two-income households.

And then today - the day before the Fourth of July, mind you - they send out an e-mail. Try hearing it in Bill Lumbergh's voice from "Office Space", or go to this site and just click some buttons to accompany this.

"Yeah, we're gonna need you to come in tomorrow, yeah. We have a deadline, yeah. And why don't you just come in on Saturday and Sunday, too, yeah. Okay, that'd be great."

I'll try and remember to post later about how I'm actually lucky in this situation, because of all the unemployed law school grads out there, but I doubt that'll happen. Because this is some pure bullshit, this job.

--Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, PA, 3 July 2012, "all I'm tossin' and turnin' because the fire is burnin' and I ain't earnin' enough to pay the bills that pile up"

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