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Andy M.
creamynougat
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I'm sitting with my feet up on the desk, at home. I've had two Big Rock Traditional beers tonight and think it's about time to switch to the Okanagan Pale I have sitting in the fridge. [to fridge - *pschtt* - *swig* - sit back down] I've been off since Friday, and will be off 'til Jan 2. I've had days with the fam. and am looking forward to nigh a week with fam. and friends. I'm werking out the final kinks in the annual mix CD. True satisfaction.

Xmas was good. My gifts did good by other people, and I got a good mix of what I wanted and pleasant surprises of things that I didn't know I wanted...and budgets didn't continue their uncontrollable spiral, which had me worried over the past couple of years. I continue to hate Xmas music more every year, but right now I'm immersed in my favourite songs of the past year, so it's all good. I found a hilariously awesome metal version of the Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute (by a German band called 'Angelica'. Check it out if you've got the connection.

This year was cool in many ways, sucky in many others. Having to leave school sucked, but school sucked worse than that (I truly have naught but evil things to say about it), and the mental well-being of being out from under that yoke of idiocy is truly euphoric. In the 5 months that I have been working my job, I feel that I've learned more, accomplished more and had more of a positive impact than I had over the 6 years previous. My resume's getting beefed up with all these new experiences and certifications (adding serious wetland and arborististing certifications this year). The band has gone through changes (mostly in the drum chair), but we're still together and will be rockin' again soon. My living sitch is still minimalistic, but excellent.

Anyways, more living to do. If you're in Vancouver, give me a ring or a text.

Current Music: ABBA-Knowing Me, Knowing You

I is pulling extra hours this week (and last, but who's counting) in order to not have to go on unpaid vacation. I don't have enough hours for the 6-days off I need, so I's got to earn another 10 hours in the next 3 days. Whee! I'll figure it out somehows.

I LOVE my new place. It has a radiator, which equals toasty warm mornings. I know I should dislike the excess spending of energy, but I can't really turn it off. It has a single knob that I don't think does anything. The one downside of the place (besides a more difficult parking regime), is that my window now faces street-side. Which sucks due to New Yorker's me-first mentality that 2am horn blowing is a completely reasonable method of communication. 

but within 2 blocks we have:
2 subways (C and G)
A subway (my fav. fast food)
A decent supermarket (produce section n' everything)
2 chinese places
2 pizzerias
3 deli/bodegas
4 bars

Plus, me Hall St. friends is <10min walk, and the DeKalb strip is even less.

Anyways, back to work. Gots to do it good, cuz my flight's on Friday morning. Then I'm all family and friends 'til New Year's Day.

I am in Vancouver for a killer 4-day weekend. As such, I am missing 'US Thanksgiving' (and had missed Canadian Thanksgiving as I had been in NY all October...didn't even get the day, called 'Columbus Day' off). I compensated by stuffing myself with sushi last night with some friends of old.

Once again, I am reminded of all I give up to live in NYC. Good friends, awesome scenery, and a generally much cooler and relaxed vibe and modal personality.

In the general life front, I am moving next week. The place is in a way better neighbourhood, in a better building, fewer roommates, and actually will be lower rent. I am psyched. The 'old place' has become about $100/mo more expensive (rent increase and utility fee increases), and the leaseholder was continuing his spiral towards complete insanity (punctuated by drawn-out drunken-screaming fits at 5am), and had recently brought a puppy home, only to leave town (for a week) the next day, and leave his roommates with the perpetual-shitting-and-all-night-whining machine. He shortly thereafter had me take the puppy to a shelter, as he decided he couldn't make the time or expense that the puppy would construe. That pissed me off to no end, cuz I couldn't take him (there was a 'no pets' clause with the apt. anyways!) and I had to be the bad guy because he 'couldn't bring himself to do it'.

Anyways, new place has a private terrace for my room (big enough to put a lawn chair on and read and drink in that far-off summer sun), and the roommates will be out of the apt most of the time I'll be using it. The only downside is that the kitchen is strictly kosher, which will push me further to vegetarianism anyways.

Thrashing all around....Acting like a maniac...

WHIPLASH!

I have whiplash, and it's way less fun than the song makes it sound. 
I got rear-ended last Thurs. I was drivin'...fuggin' double-parker (in an area they could have damn well found parking at), had to stop, so did the guy behind me, but he didn't. Ka-pow! My truck now has a nasty ding in the rear tailgate, andI has a wildly spasming back and neck. Doc says it should go away in a week, and there's no permenant damage, but it's unpleasant. I spent all weekend in bed drugged up on muscle relaxants and painkillers.

But, I just got a call from the other guy's insurance (BTW, he was driving a '98 Jaguar, worth probably 10 times what mine is), and they say that the truck is 'a total loss' and they will cut me a check for the worth of it. The bonus, however, is that it's still drivable, and the truck is worth $3200 (by Kelly's Blue Book value), so I just have to live with a few extra dents, and I'll have some extra cash in my pocket. Hopefully, I can get some restitution for the pain this week without getting lawyers involved.

From physical pain to mental pain. The last two days have been murder on my brain. Job has slowed considerably, and I've spend a combined 20 hours these past 2 days watching a very very lazy construction crew. How lazy? They have a crew of 5, and on average, 1.2 people are doing anything at any time. They like to drag their heels to collect 1.5x overtime, and as they're unionized, they can get away with a lot. And when most of my day is spent mute while standing around while other guys goof off, my brain gets pretty liquid-y.

Current Music: Metallica - Whiplash (live)

My online time has withered. My work is no longer done in front of a computer with no hard guidelines required by the boss. Instead, I'm at construction sites and on boats 'til all hours. Some ways it sucks, some ways, it's a welcome relief. The internet had become almost a saddling addiciton, with hours upon hours blown to silly things like Fark and myspace. Now, my internet time is in much shorter supply, and I tend to be out there more, enjoying life.

Howver, it can come back to bite'cha.

This week, our internet wasn't working. I shrugged it off, keeping in contact via phone with the people who I know I needed to stay in contact with. Tonite, it came back. I checked my work email to find about 5 emails from the past week, reminding me that I had to have internet forms submitted for end-of-fiscal-year review, or else I wouldn't be elligable for the annual raise/cost of living increase. I understandibly freaked, and have been 'defining my goals and places of improvement' and other such CEO-speak over the past few hours. It's 3:32am, and I have to be up at 5:30 to hit the pavement...bah.

But a big plus is that this weekend will be truly boozerific. An all-you-can-drink loft party on Sat, followed by a Sunday of old-school lounging on Connoly's couch with beer and some football. God, it's been too long. 

Anyways, to sleep, perchance to not be a complete fucking zombie tomorrow.

Current Music: The One - Elton John

I had a bit of an incident with one of my best friends today, which I have analyzed to be a good example of behaviours of both our societies (I being Canadian and he being American). We had been talking for over a month about moving in together (along with his girlfriend) at the end of this month. We met up, exchanged ideas of what we wanted and financial limits, and set out to find a joint.

Unfortunately, there were three discrepancies, one spoken, two not. I said that I wanted to live more on the South side of Queens/Brooklyn, they said they wanted more North. I thought we could rectify that with a location somewhere in the middle, like Greenpoint/Williamsburg. The second discrepancy was price. I gave my max rent, but said I wanted it to be as cheap as possible; whereas I could tell from the excited body language of my friend's gf that she wanted as nice a place as she could get, cost be damned. This leads into the thrid discrepancy: I cared less about the place itself, and cared more about the location and the cost; whereas it seems that they were looking more for the nicest place possible.

See, of course everybody cares about just about every quality of a living space, and will say so, but people have different priorities. Of course I care about how it looks and what's outside my view is...but I'm more interested in it being an easy commute to the places I have/want to be.

So it came down to last night, when I got a call saying they had found the perfect place. The first tripping point came immediately, when they told me it was at the end of the N-line (in Astoria/Queens), meaning it was about the furthest point North of Queens/Brooklyn. This sucks for my commute, because while my commute can be a challenge (averaging about 30-40min each way), from that neighbourhood, it would become an hour-plus monster, straight through the ugliest parts of the rush hour.

Anyways, I arrived and saw the place, and I did love it. A duplex, big rooms, backyard (that was completely paved over...WTF?), porch, and a nice neighbourhood. It was a great deal, but the price was just above our budget. Plus, it was through a broker, and this brokers expected a broker's fee equal to one month's rent. So to move in, we would have to collectively cough up $6600 USD (first month's rent, one month's deposit, and one month''s broker fee). 

I did love it, and told both the broker and my friend as such, but that I had reservations about the commute and the price. I said I needed to think about it overnight (I really don't handle big-money decisions easily...god forbid I ever look to buy a house). My friend drove me home, and the entire ride home was he and his girlfriend extolling to me the virtues of the place, and when I countered with a 'Yes, I know, but the commute/rent' they would  brush it off as a minor inconvenience in exchange for another great virtue'.

But see, I was the one who would be the most put out. I would be moving further from work and fun, and losing the most by moving that way (they would be gaining), they just refused to see my situation and my values. I value not spending an extra hour a day in my car (which is worth a lot to me, cuz I FAC-ing HATE sitting in traffic). I value saving as much money as possible, as I have seen family members in the later stages of life benefit from earlier frugality, or suffer from the lack thereof. Never on the ride did they admit a single significant downside.

Anyways, I did a time v. money analysis. First, the time to get the money. Between the increased rent and the broker fee (not counting the cost of moving and of getting furniture), I calculated the increased annual cost to me to be over $3000. Which is the equivalent of roughly 5.5 weeks of my take home pay. That was kind of the breaking point, as I couldn't imagine myself working that much for luxury. And the commute thing was essentially adding an hour to my work day, then that's around an extra $500/month in unpaid time and effort. Not to mention that there are usually only 17-18 hours of waking in my day, and losing 1 of them to sitting in traffic is not in my best interest.

But the place was VERY nice, and I would have loved to live there. I lost a lot of sleep on the decision, and told my friend the next morning that I just couldn't do it. He re-iterated another pursuasion, saying that 'We're not going to find a better deal', I said that it was just too much. He said 'Okay, we're moving without you', and as I began to explain my logic and ask to try to find a cheaper place, he hung up on me.

So, and pardon the broad strokes, I find it to be a disturbingly American stereotype: 'I like it. Therefore, it's best for all of us, and even though it may not work for other people's values, when those other people rasie concerns, rather than hear their side, and  consider/compromise, I will instead try everything to pursuade them to my viewpoint, and if they continue to be in the way for whatever reason, we'll find a way to cut them out of the way'.

Of course, I'm so Canadian by being cautious and insisting on more time. I'm a little upset at my own wishy-washiness, but I'm quite glad to keep the extra money and time. 

I feel bad about it, but still feel I made the right decision. I felt a slight pang of redemption on today's commute home, when I turned off the highway to take a few local streets immediately after hitting gridlock. The traffic report told me that it was gridlock all the way up to Queens, which would have meant well over an hour of standing in traffic. Instead, as I was decently close to my place, I snuck onto local streets and was home in 15 minutes.

Grrr...goddamn corporate america, with their 'you have to accrue sick days before you can officially be sick'. So I spent the last two days arboristing in the hot sun with some serious fever action with lethargy and just overall feeling like shit. And to top it off, today's day in the sun turned into a 13 hour shift cuz it turns out the crew I was overseeing likes to drag their heels in order to collect sweet sweet 1.5x overtime...no me, buck-o...'salaried, exempt, professional'. BAH!

But for serious, it was your stereotypical construction site. 2 people working, 5 people watching. When it came time to weld the pipe, the two welders were working while everybody else took an hour-long smoke break.

Anyways, to bed, perhaps to actually do laundry tomorrow...as I've been precluded from doing it for a week now.

My new fascination: Clone High. A fabulously written, cheaply animated show that was cut down after 13 episodes because some people didn't like the idea of a teenage clone of Ghandi doing whatever it took to get some dry-humping action. Anyways, fabulous show, could have been the next 'That 70s show' (with an interesting gimmick, but the story and writing itself made it great)...rent the DVD. For those that know the show: isn't it funny how all the main characters are clones of great leaders who were assasinated (the only exception being Cleopatra, who committed suicide)?

jokrackis in town. We did some Brooklyn Brewery and W'burg rooftop action. She has yet to hit the 'walking in Manhattan' wall. Is good to see her, as I don't think I have since 2001.

I am getting the writing bug again. But I want to try another level. I see ads asking for 1-act plays and short stories/poems. Perhaps I'll try a few of those as I gather ideas for the great Can-American novel.

I just minutes ago passed my Wetland Delineation final exam (online take-home). I am quite happy, cuz it was a most irritating albatross for the past month. Possibly the worst-written exam questions ever, I was very worried that I wasn't going to pass. But I got enough right that they passed me. Now to get on the other albatrossi after a decent night's sleep.

Job is going very well. I'm already doing solo work and report filing (a few days ahead of schedule) and may soon get underlings and have adventures to the more exciting impact assessment studies upstate.

And it just became Friday...FIRST PAYCHECK! WOOOOOO! My immediate treat I have promised myself is a new cellphone (I've had the same one since 2001). As my work will be paying for a new laptop and glasses, I don't even need to bother with the other treats I was going to buy me...which is good, bnecause I've been such a bitch lately that I only deserve one treat.

Current Location: Brooklyn, baby!
Current Music: Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet

Job so far is fun, but I fear it may become dreary. It comprises largely of observing burly men dig trenches around tree roots and making sure that roots are unharmed. It is still a little fun, and the work is far from hard. The fun moiments come during tree surveys and occasional trips to aid other projects. The truely sweet part is (a) it's a 'professional job', (b) my work day is usually over by 3pm. My office is sweet as hell, I arrived to my very own desk, computer and 212-area-coded phone number. Plus a view of the Statue of Liberty from my window. Pity I'll hardly ever be there.

I am now beginning to look for 'second jobs', as my evenings are suspiciously uncluttered (and I now have a work visa that allows me to do so). I won't do some sort of fool regular schedule job, more of a 'man with a van' type of stuff, moving things and people...most posts on Craigslist start at $20/hr for such services. So a couple of nights a week (completely on my schedule) can translate to an extra $100.

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