Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I named him Pesto.

Hypocrisy is a funny thing. It can be something simple, like telling your kids not to eat cookies in bed when you know full well you munch on crackers and cream cheese in your own bed. It could be something a bit bigger, like telling your kids not to have sex before marriage when you know full well you've been having an affair with your boss's secretary. (Neither of these examples are taken from personal experience of any kind. FYI.)

Today, I found myself facing an odd sort of hypocrisy: cruelty to animals.

Ever seen those pictures in commercials or on the internet from Greenpeace or whoever showing images of poor, dilapidated animals covered in oil from oil spills compliments of Exxon Mobil or Royal Dutch Shell? They're supposed to have white fur or feathers or something, but they're completely black from being soaked in oil?

Any time I'd see one of these pictures, I wouldn't really think much of anything.

Today at work, I saw a minor version of this in real life. I was working a 767-400, real big plane, so big in fact that the normal air-conditioning hose wouldn't reach to attach to the outlet on the bottom of the plane. (We hook up a massive AC hose while the plane is still operating on ground power, before it powers up itself.) Instead, we had a portable AC unit parked near the port-side engine.

As we were moving it in preparation to push the plane out, a pigeon hopped out from underneath the AC unit and nearly got run over. I had to shoo it out to keep it from getting smooshed.

And after the AC unit was gone, it just sort of sat there. I tried to shoo it a little more, but he just kept coming back. He couldn't fly very well and, on closer examination, looked a little blacker than most pigeons.

A little like this:

Only not quite so covered in oil. I felt really bad for the little guy. He didn't look injured exactly, but it was clear that he wasn't in the best of health. He hopped away gingerly under a nearby truck, and I hoped he would keep going after we'd left.

An hour and a half later, we'd already had another plane come in, turned it, and sent it on its way. I headed over there again, just to see. Sure enough, there he sat, now entrenched under the water cooler furiously drinking up as much as he could.

I decided to name him Pesto. That would make him named after this guy:

Good ol' Pesto. Always making Joe Pesci-esque threats.

Anyway, far as I know, that pigeon is still there, hiding underneath the Gate 15 jetway. I really feel sorry for the little dude. He seems petrified to go anywhere else, and from what I can tell he looks like he might've been doused a little in oil from the AC unit. Not a lot, but the AC unit was there overnight, so he might've been there overnight as well.

It is here that we come to see the apparent hypocrisy I'm finding myself experiencing. Those pictures of baby seals covered in oil? Never meant anything to me. Still doesn't, really. I mean, we need oil. If we're going to get around anywhere in this society, we need oil to put in our vehicles. Right?

Then I see this pigeon. And I kinda hate pigeons. They're annoying and everywhere. But this little guy is ailing, seems terrified to even breathe, and my heart goes out to him. A pigeon!

So... apparently I feel bad for animals that I can actually see in front of me, but animals halfway across the world that I merely see pictures of... not so much. That makes me feel good.

Meh. I'm not really depressed about it or anything. Just... introspective, I guess. Thought I would share.

In other news, hypocrisy is a really weird word to spell. Just look at it. The "hypo" part I get. But "crisy"? Come on, English language, throw me a freakin' bone here!

Song stuck in my head: FNT - Semisonic

Monday, June 29, 2009

So hey. Check it out.

I just created a second Blogger blog. It's called Falkner On Film. The idea here is to give me an outlet to review all the movies that I've seen over the years, which I have a tendency of doing anyways. So yes. I'll be doing that from time to time. Hopefully more often than not.

In other news, Angela and I bought a queen size mattress and box-spring the other day which we'll be picking up in about ten minutes. This we purchased for a total of $60, USD. The current owner of the bed is moving to India (back there, actually), and needed to get rid of pretty much everything by tomorrow. Since we've currently been dealing with a mere full size bed for the first two years of our marriage, Ang and I were pretty psyched at the idea of upgrading to the bigger sized bed. We won't have the bed frame just yet, but we figure we can sleep on a mattress on the floor for a while.

And come on, $60? Couldn't freakin' pass that up!

Okay, gotta go now. Tee tee eff en.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So... Primerica.

First of all, my Physical Aptitude Test for Delta went pretty well. It consisted of a hearing test (press a button when you hear a beep), a step test (step up, step down, step up, step down, repeat for three minutes), and a lifting test (put 75 lbs. in this box and lift it from this level to this level, while maintaining good posture). *shrugs* Piece o' cake.

After that, Ang and I met with the Primerica cult. Er, I mean, financial service. Sorry, Freudian slip, there.

Yeah, lemme see if I can accurately describe Primerica to those not in the know. Ang found out about this company from one of the customers at Denny's (it wasn't even her customer, actually). The woman said she thought Ang was a very positive and outgoing person and she felt those would be excellent qualities for the kind of work she was in, so she gave Ang her card and invited her to go to a meeting about the job that Tuesday evening. She even invited me along, the more the merrier. So, we figured, eh, if Ang could pick up a second job relatively part-time, why not? We're hardly hurting for cash right now, but we could always use the money.

So, not really knowing anything about the job other than the fact that it involved "financial services," we headed on down to Mesa, a good 20 minute drive from here, to see what all Primerica was about. We were greeted very kindly by the woman who first invited Ang in the first place, and she led us into the office complex where Primerica was meeting. A greeter at the door welcomed us inside and invited us to sign in, since it was our first time there. From there, a another man who presumably worked there ushered us in to the main area in the office space, which was set up like your average small church, about six rows of four chairs on either side of a middle aisle, with an overhead projector shining toward a white screen at the front.

Eyebrows raised yet? Greeters? Ushers? Guestbook? Overhead projector? Sure sounds like a church to me.

And the resemblance hardly ended there. The entire meeting was basically a little pep rally for the job itself, with multiple speakers talking about what the job consisted of (without actually explaining what the job consisted of), and all of them talking up how wonderful the company was, how much better a model it was than other similar companies, and how much money you could conceivably make doing this job. There were actually posters on the walls advertising "the $100,000 club," which celebrated "your first $100,000" with a sort of Superbowl Ring decked out in diamonds and stuff.

One of the speakers in particular, a guy from Hawaii who apparently had flown in special for this meeting, acted as a pseudo-pastor for the evening, encouraging the audience to be winners, "not losers," as he specifically put it. It was incredible. He'd pose a question, such as, "Boy, times are tough, huh? Anyone out there think times are tough right now?" And to this, the audience would respond with empassioned "Yeah's" and "Mmhmm's" and "Oh yes's," bearing not just a passing resemblance to your average Full Gospel Baptist Church. I've never been able to stomach the blind agreement with a pastor of any kind, regardless of how much truth (or Truth) he's preaching, I'm going to actually think about what he's saying before agreeing with it automatically, so I sure wasn't going to be feeding fire into this guy's kindling.

And yet... as the night drew on, I found myself wanting to participate. I found myself actually wanting to speak up when the moment seemed appropriate, go along with the service, give in to the business revival being preached. It was unsettling.

Anyway, we left the meeting feeling odd, but hesitantly optimistic about the prospect of the job. Ang moreso than me, but it was more a nagging uncertainty than an actual pessimism at that point.

That night, I had a dream that basically directly pointed to Primerica being an unstable investment. Nagging uncertainty turned pretty quickly into boldfaced skepticism.

The following day was the day of the test for Delta and our second meeting with Primerca. After I got home from the Delta test, we quickly ate some lunch and then drove out to where they'd told us to go. And we drove... and drove... and drove a little more. Come to find out this place was all the way out on the border of Queen Creek, almost a good hour away from us here. Did not realize that one when they were telling us where to go.

But find it we did, and once we got there, we quickly got into discussing the real, honest work that the job would entail. And to be entirely fair, it does seem for all intents and purposes to be very honest work. Primerica is kind of an amalgamation of any kind of financial service you can think of. They're part bank, part insurance company, part investment firm... and all love. Well, at least they seem to be. Their biggest selling point is their Financial Needs Analysis, or FNA, which basically maps out all of your current finances, be it income, debts, or expenditures, and gives you a bit of a tool to use to help you get out of debt. This isn't the loan part; all they really do is show you what you're doing with your money right now and steering you toward a possible better plan for how to manage your money, be it making bigger payments on specific loans or investing more in life insurance, or a 401k. That's the biggest thing.

It's even free of charge. You don't have to pay them a dime if you don't want to. Pretty good, honest work, right?

Well, far as I can tell, yes... it's the actual job that's the shady part.

Remember, this is a company built like a Full Gospel Baptist Church. In addition to that mentality, it's also something of a multi-level management scheme, or pyramid scheme. The actual way we'd make money doing this is, essentially by recruiting other people to do the job. You can make money by never accomplishing this, but it won't ever amount to much. This I think is how Primerica has been allowed to exist for the past 30-some years, because while it's clearly a pyramid scheme (which is actually illegal in this country), it isn't merely dependent upon the recruitment part. For every loan or insurance policy or investment you do get someone to take through Primerica, you get a cut (be it $100 bucks or $50 or whatever). So that part is merely like your average commission-based sales job.

So... it's like the shady part of the job is shady on whether or not it's actually shady. Pretty clever, if you ask me.

However, whenever you do recruit someone into Primerica and are able to yourself personally train them in the job, you'll automatically be given a cut of whatever that person makes. You don't take money away from them, however; as a more senior member of the company, you're now due more cash per every transaction, and whenever your recruit makes a sale, you basically make the difference of what you would make if you'd done it yourself and what they actually do make. Like... if you're now owed $400, and they make a sale for $100, you'd make $300, just because they're your personal recruit.

What I don't get is... where's all this money coming from? Supposedly you're owed, like, $100 bucks for every life insurance policy you get signed. However, life insurance only costs, like, $40 bucks a month on the high end for most people. Where'd the extra $60 come from, and why are you making so much as the lowest level employee?

So, um. Yeah. After some careful thought and discussing it with some outside opinions, we decided not to give Primerica the go-ahead. We think it was probably in our best interest.

On the bright side, on the drive over to Queen Creek, we found a real live Anthropologie store that Angela just had to go in. She's been in love with this retailer ever since she learned it existed online, but we'd never found an actual store apart from the online store. I'm thinking it's probably because everything in Anthropologie costs about $150 bucks a piece, and we don't usually find ourselves in neighborhoods where such places would be abundant. Ang actually ended up finding a pair of pants in her size that was marked down from $158 to $19.95. Insanity. She's awaiting her mother to hem the legs (they were clearly designed with a supermodel's stilt-legs in mind), at which point I'm sure she'll be wearing them incessantly. Perhaps we'll get a picture of them up sometime.

Okay, this ended up being really, really long, as I figured it would be, and I've just wasted an hour. Commence vegging!

Song stuck in my head: True Affection - The Blow

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fitter than the average Joel B.

Today promises to be an eventful day. It's my first of two days off at the airport, but at 11:30 this morning (Arizona time, of course), I get to take a Physical Agility Test and hearing test in relation to my recent hiring with Delta Air Lines. For those that may not be aware yet, I've been working at a company called Airport Terminal Services for the past year, which was contracted out to Delta, as opposed to working directly for them. Not a terrible deal... except that it skips over all the main benefits of working for an airline. Like free flights on Delta routes.

Well no more. Far as I'm aware, once I'm officially a Delta employee, I'll have the perks of being able to fly anywhere that Delta flies free of charge. Not sure if that means anyone who flies with me can fly for free too, but heck, one free ticket is one free ticket. Totally gonna take advantage of this. :-)

But yes, because of this, today I take the Physical Agility Test, in order to determine if I'm physically fit enough to perform the job that I'm already doing. It involves 3 full minutes of walking up and down a step, lifting 70 lbs. multiple times to multiple shelves, etc. A year ago, I probably would've been nervous about something like that.

Today? Bring it on.

This really makes me happy. Physical labor is no longer a daunting prospect to me. It's not like I'm all of a sudden able to bench twice my own body weight or something, I'm just... well... healthy. Hehh.

I think when Ang and I get around to having kids, I'm going to require them to do something physically demanding like once a day or something. Like, for an hour a day or something, "Okay, time to go outside and run a lap around the block, kids!" Perhaps we'll have kids who actually like playing outside and this won't be an issue, but if my kids are anything like me, I'm gonna need to drill this into them.

Anyway, later today at 3, Ang and I are going to be meeting with some people for this company called Primerica, which is like a sort of amalgamation of a bunch of different financial services (morgaging, consolidating, debt consulting, and the like). We're doing this because we went to a sort of business pep rally for the company last night intended as something of a recruitment and training meeting. I'll get more into that later.

For now, I'm going to eat breakfast with my beautiful wife. Happy morning, everyone!

Song stuck in my head: Paper Bag - Fiona Apple

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Inevitable.

Welp. This was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm not sure if it's sooner or later, but here it is.

I'm going to blog again.

Obviously, this is not Xanga. This is Blogger, which, back when I first set up an account in the first place, used to be called Blogspot. Back then I just wanted to be able to comment. I've been amazed that, ever since then, the Blogger website has been able to recognize that I'm apparently still logged in every single time I return to a Blogger blog, regardless of how long it's been or if the computer's been shut off or whatever.

But I digress.

Yes, I'm going to blog again. I have come to the conclusion that I need this. If just for the sake of keeping my creative juices from stagnating into pickle juice, I need this. I've really missed my old chronicle, and by golly, I'm gonna have it again whether I have anything to chronicle or not!

So why Blogger and not Xanga? Well, for starters, Xanga seems to have gone the way of the buffalo. It's hardly extinct, but neither is it surviving very well out in the wild. Clearly plenty of people still use it, but I know roughly two of them, and the rest all seem to be outside my social conciousness. Suffice to say, I really couldn't care less what Datingish or Mancouch or Revelife have to say about pretty much anything, and don't care much to look anymore.

In addition to this, I've always sort of quietly admired Blogger's format. It's simple, and hey, we all know Joel likes simplicity, right? Maybe I'll try to fool around with the colors or something later, but for now, this works for me. Simple. Yeah.

Anyway, I hope this turns into something a bit more interesting than my last blog ended up being. I'm gonna go eat my pizza which turned out not as thoroughly cooked as I'd hoped. Yay!

Song stuck in my head: Have You Ever - Incubus