jkmoreno: (Default)
So yeah, obviously I didn't make good on keeping up with the log entries. Part of that was the darker side of perfectionism: after I made the first one, a buddy suggested I put them up on the store's official page, so I wanted to rewrite what I had to make it look a bit better (and shorter, so as to try and limit the number of tl;dr complaints). I started falling behind when I rewrote, then kept trying to catch up, and that started a vicious cycle. The vicious cycle kept going thanks to the other side of the coin: real life was kicking my ass, and it kept getting both better and worse. Better because I was going out to fun stuff with a new group of awesome people, worse because my work schedule was hitting some sort of epic-level critical mass to where even on my days off, I was too exhausted to think about doing much.

It's kinda funny, since it seems like every time I start a writing project lately, I end up abandoning it because of some good fortune. Last time, I met the girl who would eventually end my time in singles purgatory, and this time I was developing some much-needed social confidence.

But I kept this particular post in mind, and since things are cooling down on all fronts, I figure the time is nice for a little inane hilarity.

It was almost fitting, in a sense, that Father Evendur would pass away when he did. The previous week, everyone in town had gathered to celebrate and commemorate the five-year anniversary of the end of the Abyssal Plague outbreak and the victory over the cult led by the brothers of the dwarven Clan Sabrak. Clan Sabrak had introduced the plague to Easting with the intention of offering all the townspeople as a sacrifice to their dark god, but help had speedily arrived in the form of a few groups of adventurers summoned by the Merchant Council of Iriaebor.

All of these would-be heroes contributed greatly to the downfall of the cultists and the eradication of the disease, but the most instrumental of them was also the most motley. A brutish minotaur who lived only to plunder and murder, a naive and pretentious dragonborn paladin, an elemental sorcerer with an uneven personality, a warlock who seemed to be perpetually under some sort of influence, and a half-elven spiritual advisor who just seemed to be going through the motions. Their disparate backgrounds, personalities, and areas of expertise somehow combined to make them extraordinarily effective.

Clash, Los D. Gayme, Cedric Stormbringer, Tuoroth, and Lucien Lightfellow. They started out as unknowns, they returned as heroes. Nobody in Easting would forget their names.

Their success came with a steep price, though. Tuoroth had not survived the journey, and nobody had offered any explanation as to why. They were rewarded well by the Merchant's Council, but ended up marked by their enemies as the targets of an assassination attempt by a sect of skilled drow assassins. An attempt was made on their lives in Iriaebor mere days after their return, which also ended up endangering many civilian lives. The newly-minted heroes barely survived, thanks primarily to a well-placed tip and some timely intervention from a couple of allied adventurers and a handful of alert city guards. They quickly left the city after that day, and none of them were ever seen around the area again.

However, surely the memorial services for Evendur, one of the most well-respected men of Easting, would merit at least a visit from the people whose help he had requested, who had been assisted by them and assisted them in return. Much to the disappointment of the town, only Lucien showed up.

The intervening years had given much to the half-elf, but had also taken its share as well. The adventuring life had obviously been kind enough to give him a much stronger, healthier looking physique than he had when he first arrived five years ago. It had also been unkind enough to carve new worry lines in his face, making him appear as if he had aged more than a decade in those years. Still, he was polite enough to share a drink with those who wished for his company, and this was how the people of Easting would finally know of the fate of their saviors, and whether the rumors of them having spent their time in hiding from assassination attempts was true.

In the case of CLASH, it was true and false. His own underground contacts, in addition to his intimidating size and strength, ensured that the frequency of attempts on his life quickly petered out. He was at loose ends for several months until, by chance, he reunited with TERRA, an elven swashbuckler. They had first met when she had briefly assisted the group in an assault on the Sunset Shrine, which Clan Sabrak was using as headquarters. They decided to form a partnership, and in the space of the following year they were believed to be responsible for three major bank robberies and the theft of several priceless artifacts. While some might have reveled in the notoriety, it soon began to cause problems for them. This was due to two major factors. The first is that neither of them are terribly inconspicuous, so their presence was immediately known wherever they went. As if that wasn't enough, Terra's highborn affectations tended to call extra attention upon them, and not all of it was friendly. The other factor is that Clash, being incapable of keeping his typical loud and violent nature in check, tended to put everyone who was paying attention on guard.

Soon their attempts at thievery became too difficult to attempt, and they found themselves being run out of town by guardsmen at a quickly rising frequency. Opportunistic thieves guilds in the area soon began committing major crimes, believing correctly that the blame for these would be directed at Clash and Terra first. Everything came to a head when a particularly dimwitted town militia captain thought to try and save his superiors the paperwork needed to apprehend Clash and Terra by rounding up a posse with the intent to ambush them. Unfortunately, ambushing a pair of well-trained and battle-hardened killers with what basically amounts to all of the town's drunks and no-accounts is generally a recipe for failure. By the time Clash and Terra had escaped, the captain along with eight others were killed, thirty-seven more were seriously wounded, and the town suffered tens of thousands of gold pieces worth of property damage and loss. Their whereabouts since then are unknown, and it is rumored that there are three different adventuring companies out hunting for them with the intent to either apprehend or kill, and that even Iriaebor has instructed their patrols to shoot them on sight.

LOS D. GAYME also eventually ceased to be a target for assassination, though he was involved in more than a few incidents before they gave up on him. Surviving these attempts, as well as his services for Easting and Iriaebor, added greatly to his fame. Unfortunately, it also added greatly to the story he spun about his name, which eventually became even more ludicrous than the story of a fisherman experimenting with magically enchanted bait and somehow reeling in a shark. Despite that, he was never short of work, whether it be adventuring or spreading the teachings of his spiritual master. On several occasions, he and Lucien worked together in both regards, though their journeys generally ended up going in opposite directions.

The story of his name was not without its own perils, however. Not long after the assassins stopped coming, would-be duelists, either drunk, hoping to make a name for themselves, or just wanting him to shut up already, started to make life miserable for the dragonborn. Trying to fight a dragonborn at hand-to-hand combat, especially one as good as Los, was about as good of an idea as trying to swallow your own sword, and more than once Los ended up proving that point quite literally. Before long, he got tired of constantly being at odds with everyone, and decided to retire to a secluded monastery to devote himself to the training of the next generation of holy warriors. It is said that one of the most important rituals of his sect involved a particularly elaborate naming ceremony ...

CEDRIC STORMBRINGER was not as lucky as his fellows, as he would be a constant target for assassins. This was likely due to the fact that he was the only one in the group who was not well-trained in hand-to-hand combat. He spent most of the first two years after the end of the plague constantly on the move, fighting off several attempts on his life. His already formidable powers became even stronger, but it was evident that his personality began to become considerably unhinged. It took another year after the assassination attempts stopped before Cedric stopped constantly seeing assassins in whatever shadows he happened to be near, but he gradually began to relax and resume his normal life the best he could.

Unfortunately, this also led to the same conundrum that Los faced, as when he relaxed, he began to become very boastful about his role in the events of the plague outbreak, and began to see the constant attempts on his life and his triumph over them as proof that was the strongest of them all. This caused many adventuring companies to dispense with his services after a short time, and once provoked a massive bar fight in Scorbunel when a patron, listening to these boasts, felt that Cedric was greatly disrespecting his follow adventurers. The fight seemed to trigger a flashback of sorts, as Cedric ended up going down in one punch, then promptly hid in a corner, reportedly fretting over the possibility that someone could sneak up on him and stab him in the back in the middle of the confusion. Despite his fears, he would meet the proverbial end in an open showdown, as a foreign wizard taught Cedric the hard truth: no matter how good you are, there is always someone better. It took Cedric close to six months to fully recover from all the wounds he suffered in that fateful duel, and he was never seen or heard from again. It is believed that he decided to return to the elemental plane he came from, and never again meddle in the world of humans.

The circumstances of TUOROTH's death had never been fully revealed, but Lucien had at least provided the cause: Tuoroth had been engulfed by a magical flame within the Sunset Shrine, one that left no trace of him whatsoever. Cedric had corroborated the possibility of the fact, and a team of Purple Dragon Knights who investigated the Sunset Shrine after the fact had confirmed it. It was later revealed, again by Lucien, that it wasn't the result of an attack; the flames were stationary, and Tuoroth willingly walked into them. It was speculated that he was attempting to use it as teleporter, having observed the elementals use it in that fashion, but Lucien stated that he had observed Tuoroth looking deeply into the flames long after the battle, and thought he had heard Tuoroth talking to the flames before stepping through. Lucien devoted plenty of time attempting to figure out why Tuoroth chose to commit suicide, but his research confirmed what he had suspected from Tuoroth's mannerisims; nobody knew who Tuoroth was, and as far as most of the world was concerned, Tuoroth was not of it until he became a footnote in the history of Iriaebor and Easting.

As for LUCIEN LIGHTFELLOW himself? Despite not having a taste for it, he continued adventuring, as his services in treating the Abyssal Plague led to many more requests for his skills in investigation and the treatment of disease. While the other assassins stopped targeting his fellows due to their combat prowess, Lucien ended up in their good graces purely by chance. He had discovered that one of his would-be assassins was ill with a rare disease. Rather than kill him, Lucien decided to treat the illness, and sent the assassin on his way once he was better. The next time the assassins came to Lucien, it was to request his help treating an outbreak of the very same disease, which he did, and thus gained the trust of the people who were originally trying to kill him. This actually proved to be very useful, as another group of assassins had been hired by someone unrelated to the events of the plague outbreak to kill Lucien himself, but ended up being assassinated themselves.

Freed of the need to constantly run. Lucien settled down long enough to build a home for himself on the Dragon Coast, and ended up forming an adventuring company that became very famous and well-known for their efficiency and good demeanor before inexplicably, but amicably, disbanding after two years. Lucien himself was invited back to the piresthood of his native Aglarond, but turned it down in favor of continuing his research on mundane healing arts. He is currently writing a book in collaboration with three of the greatest healers in the land, with the intent to make it the definitive guide to the identification and treatment of disease.

jkmoreno: (Default)
 (This is the first of a series of posts based off of my experiences in this season of Dungeons and Dragons Encounters, told from the perspective of my character, the half-elf warpriest Lucien Lightfellow. It basically serves three purposes: recapping the events of each Wednesday night session, amusing those readers who may be familiar with D&D, and just working on improving my own writing skills. The latter was inspired by one of my buddies, who is also my DM this season)

It has been a long time ... )

The assignment ... )

The team ... )

jkmoreno: (Default)
 This is something that was percolating in my mind for a while. Maybe one or two people who read this will be amused by it, but I feel like putting it out there just for amusement and posterity.

The really long backstory )

The tl;dr version of where they are now )
jkmoreno: (Default)
The long-awaited (yeah, right =P) follow up to How To Interview Without Sounding Like An Asshole covers what you should do and what you should know before you come interview. Someone like John Rambo or your typical hot-blooded Japanese anime hero might be able to succeed by just running in, guns blazing and counting on sheer nerve to carry the day, but that is not you. Which is as good an intro as anything.

REMINDER: The views expressed in this commentary reflect only the personal opinions and experiences of the writer, who has been a screening interviewer at a restaurant for two years. They do not reflect conventional corporate wisdom and likely will contradict any so-called "expert" or job coach. You have been warned.

PART TWO: YOUR ASSIGNMENT IS DUE BEFORE WEDNESDAY

Anybody else remember Nick News? I do. )
jkmoreno: (Default)
Originally I was planning to write the next part of the interview series, but stuff happened tonight that pushed that to the back burner. Probably gonna do it on Wednesday sometime instead. Fits better, since that's the day I do interviews.

In any case, a first happened for me at work today. After working there, on average, 4.5 days a week for over seven years, we finally had a fire large enough that damages were caused an evacuation was necessary. A lot of the responses to that were pretty much predictable (i.e. sophomoric) in most respects, but there was one aspect that I knew intellectually but didn't really predict. That aspect came when the manager told us that there was a chance that we were (obviously) closing up for the night, but there was also a chance that we'd be closed for at least another day or two on top of that in order to assess and repair damages. Cue all the servers freaking the fuck out about being broke and making rent when earlier they were laughing about the whole thing.

Whereas I was able to view the incident with a veneer of detachment and my usual bit of wry pessimism, because as someone who lives rent free at home, I could survive if the restaurant was forced to shut down for a few days. Even in the worst case, I have enough money to pay all my bills for a time.

This got me to thinking: why does living at home still carry a stigma, at least around here?

Out of everyone I know around my age who lives on their own, only a handful are doing it comfortably, and of that handful I know that a few actually have their backs against the wall but are just ignoring the stress. Everyone else, for whatever reason, are being pressed against that same wall. One or two days of lost wages can have a serious impact on whether rent and bills will be met. Debt becomes as much of a companion as a significant other and will probably long outlast any significant other. Even things like school and health care have to be pushed aside because the costs are too prohibitive (or in the case of health care, I know one person who is still paying off medical bills from an emergency from years ago.)

Now, I know that living at home and with parents is not an ideal situation under any circumstance when you get to be anywhere near my age. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, but not everybody does. I can't really have company over whenever, I can't do whatever I want around the house, and heaven forbid I try to bring a lady home for the "evening". For the creative ones, which I fit to an extent, it can also be very stifling. I would love to practice singing or voice acting, but since parents are almost always home I can't really go nuts with it. I also don't get along with my parents very well, so that's another minus. And of course, I know too many people who would consider "still living at home" to be an instant dealbreaker.

Yet, I still do.

I used to bitch about wanting to move out, but lately I realized that I shouldn't be in such a hurry. It could be worse, and quite frankly I've seen enough good people worry themselves closer to coronaries because of needing to make rent or because debts are piling up. I've maintained that while I could afford to move out, I didn't want to be at the mercy of tips and needing to maintain the schedule I have just to be able to -maybe- save a little bit of money here and there after rent and my expenses.

On the evening of July 4, I was vindicated. While several I know are lamenting, I will be confidently striding to the bank, depositing a chunk of last week's tips, paying all my bills for the month, and knocking out a chunk of my own debts. Of course, now that I say it, I'll probably step on a land mine or my car will break down.

Just because I'm vindicated once doesn't mean I'm going to lose my veneer of pessimism.
jkmoreno: (Default)
What's this? Let me explain.

As some of you probably know, for the last couple of years I've been part of the interview process at my place of employment. Specifically, every Wednesday between two and four in the afternoon, I do walk-in interviews. Show up, fill out an app, and then you get a few minutes of my time for an initial interview. Ace that and you may get a call from me or one of the managers to set up a second interview with one of them. It's a job I enjoy, but at times it drives me crazier than my actual job for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons is that there are times where I can interview fifteen, even twenty people, and they all look and sound more or less the same. Like they've all read the same "How To Ace Job Interviews" book, or they all took the same class on the subject, or they all had the same mentor about it. As someone who has taken that advice, and someone who has given it, I have a feeling that not every piece of advice applies to the restaurant business, or at least not to mine in particular. So one day I got bored and decided to write down all the mistakes people made in their interviews and how they could correct them for use in a future blog post.

Then I lost that list, and made a new one. Then again. This time, I'm just shooting from the hip in insomniatic rambling mode. Hey, if a friend could say I'm eloquent in that respect, and if I can conduct interviews half-asleep, I can do this. As for the bland title, it's just temporary. I figure "How To Interview Without Sounding Like An Asshole" wouldn't be very constructive.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this post and any I may make like this one are based solely on my own unprofessional experience. I am not a licensed consultant or whatever. They only directly apply to interviewing with me. Your mileage may vary with other interviewers, managers, or businesses.


PART ONE: FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPARING TO (EPIC) FAIL

So you want a job. You decided you want to come apply at my restaurant. Good for you, because I always like meeting new people and hearing what they have to say. You probably even know about our Wednesday walk-ins, and you figure we're all a very cool bunch. You think it's cool that I interviewed that one guy in a T-shirt and shorts, smiled and nodded at everything he said, and shook his hand all friendly like as he walked away.

Don't ever emulate that guy, because he (and probably everyone else you saw waiting that day) won't be called back.

Getting a job, even at my restaurant, requires more than simply showing up and telling me how much you want to work there. As I tell everyone I interview, I'm usually interviewing around fifteen to twenty people a day, and that doesn't count the handful that bypass me completely and go directly to the managers for whatever reason. All of them showed up and communicated how much they wanted to work there. The ones that got hired, the ones my co-workers and my managers loved, didn't get hired just because they -really- wanted to work here. Among other things they had in common, they all came prepared. They knew what they wanted to do, and they knew they were coming to be interviewed. They may also have known that they needed to stand apart from the other ten or twenty people in the lobby that day, that there were hundreds of applications sitting in the office doomed never to be called back outside of some dire staffing emergency, and hundreds more doomed never to be called back, -ever-.

They knew that everybody "really wants to work here" and that they had to be better than that.

YOU CAN'T JUST SHOW UP

This is something I've wondered a lot lately: because the interviews are walk-in, does that make some people think it's okay to just show up, without doing any prior planning and probably wearing whatever, and think that they have a chance to get a job? Because that's been happening a lot lately. Case in point: on more than one occasion, there were a bunch of kids in the restaurant who had been eating and carousing and saw me going back and forth with people. They asked what was going on, and when they were told, all decided to fill out applications and be interviewed. It was even suggested to them to fill out their applications and come back next week, prepared, but they decided it would be better to go in completely cold with stained T-shirts and shorts. The manager on duty specifically told me not to waste time on them, because while he knew I would interview them because I believed in being fair and keeping a reasonably open mind, he had already decided they wouldn't be worth his time.

Now, that was a worst-case example, and you might think that showing up cold and not dressed for the part means you might not get hired no matter how awesome of an interview you are. You would be mostly right, but that's only because I have -never- had someone show up cold and be an awesome interview. Not once in two years and close to 1500 people interviewed. I find that those who just show up tend to either tell me what they think I want to hear, which is always wrong, or simply fail to communicate effectively at all and fall into rambling, overuse of slang, or outright digression.

Why am I mentioning a mistake that could seemingly be avoided by common sense? -Because that mistake is still being made!-

You might think that dressing up and knowing how to interview might mean you have a better chance. It does, in the sense that you're not going to raise any immediate red flags in myself or the managers. However, if you come across the wrong way, it's not going to matter how you sound. Just as a great interview can be sabotaged by a poor appearance, a great appearance can be sabotaged by a poor interview. A good balance is needed.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

This is an age where there are oodles of information quite literally at your fingertips. High school graduates today are from an era where the internet has been the norm rather than some spectacular new technology, and there are telephones that are more powerful than some of the computers I've had. I think there may even be a few that are more powerful than the computer I'm typing this entry on. So when I ask you if you have questions, and you're asking me things that you could have easily found out on your own with a little exploration, I'm going to deduce one of two things; that you read in a book or were told by a coach to ask that question, or you were disinclined or simply too lazy to find out for yourself before talking to me. Neither deduction is one you want me to make.

The great fictional martial artist, Mr. Miyagi, once said "Answer not important if ask right question." This is very true. I've adopted a sort of inverse of that. "The question is not important if someone other than me could have answered it." For example:

- "What time do you open?"
It's on the door, on our website, and I think it's even on the managers' business cards up at the front. Beyond that, every single other worker in the restaurant could have told you.
- "What positions do you have open?"
You should have figured this out before you showed up, even if you'll take anything. Granted, there's a good chance that whoever else you'd ask might not know, in which case you should tell me as such. If you saw an ad on Craigslist, then you shouldn't need to ask me this question (yet some people do)
- "Are you guys hiring?"
The question is half-valid because we do interviews on Wednesdays whether we're hiring or not and if someone really awesome shows up then we sign them, but it's still a dumb question that someone else could have answered.
- "What does [position] do?" or "What's a normal day like here?"
These you could find out from observation, or asking other people. Especially if you've been waiting in line because someone else decided to talk my head off, you could have chatted up the host to figure this out.
- Any question that's more like "small talk," like "Do you like working here?" or "How long have you worked here?"
These we'll cover another time, but these aren't relevant to your interview or your hiring chances, so while they might be nice questions, they're also wasting time.

This also applies to other points that might be lesser to you, but may be more important than you might think to myself or the managers. For example, my interviews are scheduled between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Think about that, and think about what your chances might be showing up at 1:55 versus showing up at 3:55. Also, I might actually still be doing interviews after four, but I cut the line off around there. If I still have more than a handful of people to interview, I may even cut the line off at 3:45, simply because I know that the people I have will make me go far enough beyond four that my managers will be a bit unhappy that I'm still at it. Now think about what would happen if you showed up at 3:55 and insisted that, since it wasn't four yet, I should interview you. The ones who know better show up early. The ones who don't but insist to be on equal footing with the ones who do will simply be thanked for their time and either promptly forgotten, or remembered in a way that wouldn't be conducive to employment.

It's always good to figure out as much as you can before you talk to me. Even among the questions that only I can answer, there are plenty that aren't the best idea to ask, which we'll cover another time, but more than that, the more information you get, the better you will know whether the job is right for you or not. Even if you still don't know, at least it will -look- like you do, and that's better than pretty much proving outright that you don't. Effort is respected, while lack of it is scorned.

YOU NEED A BASE TO CALL YOUR OWN

Interviewing is not something you should do on the fly. Certainly, the restaurant business tends to hire more for personality than skill, and I'll take an average freewheeling irreverent over an above-average rigid stiff. However, people who just talk at me as if I'm a friend on the street are just as likely to lose out as someone who talks like a corporate drone. As I said above, the ones who got hired tended to know what they wanted to do, knew they had to interview for it, so they went for it. There was a method to their madness, so to speak.

A trap that many people fall into when interviewing with me is that they tell me what they think I may want to hear. What many people think I want to hear usually translates as a string of interview buzzwords (like telling me they're a "fast learner" or a "team player" or "always on time") and statements like "I want to work hard for the company," or "I'll be an asset to the company," or "I want to help the company grow." This is both opposite of and similar to the "just looking for a job" type, in the sense while the statements are completely different, the driving force behind it is more or less the same. It's more or less the same screenplay, just translated into a different dialect. 

The ones who made it told me why they should be hired, in their own words. They didn't try to have a conversation with me, it just happened. They didn't just list qualifications, they demonstrated them. What they had was a foundation a build off of, a game plan they decided to work with. What strengths they wanted to show, what weaknesses they wanted to hide, and the thoughts and experiences that went with them. To support that, some asked my co-workers questions about the process, what they did, and what they thought it would take to work there. Some came by multiple times and observed. A couple even asked specifically about me, though they were correctly told that I didn't have a large impact on hiring. They engaged the team before they ever engaged me and showed that while they might have just been looking for a job, they really did want to work with us, and that buy-in can get your foot in the door better than years of restaurant experience and being referred by one of my co-workers ever could.

This is meaty for a first part, but in later ones we'll cover some more specific things to do or not do. I just felt like rambling this all out because ... well, I'll be going in to do interviews today. Perhaps it can also help me if and when I decide to go apply for another job. We shall see.
jkmoreno: (Default)
If you weren't an exemplary child who grew up to be an exemplary teenager and then an exemplary adult, then I'm willing to bet the ones who raised you probably had some comment or request that seemed like it was constantly repeated to you. Clean your room! Do your homework! Quit watching TV! Or even simply to be quiet. You probably hated hearing this over and over again, but you didn't do much to change it, or your efforts went mostly unappreciated.

Growing up, I was constantly criticized (and not constructively) for the amount of time I spent on the computer, or playing video games, or watching TV. The criticism tapered off somewhat seven years ago when I got a job and eventually almost stopped watching TV, and died down more when work started killing my desire to game. The computer issue still is a bit of a sore point, though.

For the most part, the criticism was due to the usual stigma of spending so much time with those activities that one would become lazy and unproductive, and in some ways that was true. I also think there was concern that I would rather do those things than go out to play, which was only half true: I would have loved to go out and play, but friends who didn't pick on me for fun were in complete absence, and I didn't have anything resembling a sense of humor about it then. However, it was never really explained that way to me. It was always "You're wasting your life" and threats to take everything away that were never really made good on, probably because on some level my parents knew doing that probably would have ended up destroying me.

... digression tends to lead to more topics for another time. Heh.

Anyhow, if it wasn't made obvious, the amount of flak I got (and still occasionally do) for my tendencies towards being on the computer still grates at me. The difference now is that I'm seeing things from a different perspective. One that leads me to conclude that my parents are either really old-fashioned, or unintentionally huge hypocrites. Because while my parents complain about how much time I spend on the computer, my dad spends the majority of his time sitting in a chair and watching television, and my mom spends the majority of her time talking on the phone and watching television.

I'm not begrudging them this or saying they shouldn't spend their time this way. This is their house, they pay the bills, and they've worked hard to make it as such. As far as I'm concerned, this gives them plenty of leeway in deciding how they want to spend their time. Yet, at the same time, I can't help but feel like their choices erodes their position of morality to the point that the only reason they would "lecture" me along that particular line is because it is their house and they are my parents. It certainly isn't for my own good or with my best interests at heart, unless they think watching TV all day while occasionally doing something else is better than what I'm doing.

Admittedly, when I was younger I used the computer mostly for play and to satisfy a need for social interaction that "real life" wasn't fulfilling. Nowadays in addition to all that, I use it to look up and read things that interest me. Reading so many things on the internet, whether it be from forum-based games or a site full of information about something I played or watched once, is pretty much solely responsible for making me such a voracious reader today. I think this has played a major part in mellowing me out as I got older and saw more of the world, so to speak. In fact, there are times when I'm at the computer ... actually reading a book, while something is playing in the background, I'm talking to a friend, or I'm working on something. I work long hours and (at least lately) enjoy an active social life, so it's not like I'm being a total hermit. All of this is known to them. Yet still I hear about how I spend too much time on the computer.

They're my parents and they can say and do as such, but I can't help but feel, at least a little, that people who spend most of their waking hours (especially in the case of my dad, who is retired) sitting in one place, watching TV, and/or talking on the phone are trying to take issue with me spending most of my waking hours at the computer.

Is it wrong that I think that, even though they're my parents and I live in their house, they need a little more ground to stand on before they can take umbrage?
jkmoreno: (Default)
Over the last several days, I've noticed my middle thickening considerably. I blame high levels of stress and workload and Breanna breaking up with me in April ... okay, not really the last one, but it did make me highly cognizant of my disposition towards "comfort eating", which I proceeded to do anyway because it was pretty hard to care about such things at the time. It has translated to me sweating a lot more and my dad asking me how much I weighed in that tone that says "You're getting fat and need to stop eating junk" that I've heard on occasion for the better part of fourteen years, even when I was fencing and playing soccer at De Anza. That subject leads to one that could be covered at another time.

I realized that I might be lulling myself into a false sense of security in some respects, because despite being horribly enough out of shape that someone might predict an early death for me even before they learn of my bad habits, I'm in the best shape or at least in the upper ranges of best among some of my circles of friends. It isn't a sad thing by far, but it does make me wonder sometimes.

There are a number of factors at play here. Out of everybody I know, I have by far the worst diet overall, as I subsist for long periods of time on Red Robin food and other fast food places. I drink far more soda than everyone I know, and I actively exercise very little. While I'm also the young one in some circles, I'm among the oldest in most of them, and my body is among the more broken down from my lack of care.

So how in the heck am I in better shape?

Rob and Steve's theory is the most popular: I work a job that requires me to spend the majority of my time on my feet and highly mobile, which also requires a bit of modest lifting. Compared to a typical office or retail drone, it would stand to reason that I would be in better condition.

A former coworker who actually said I was pretty athletic also had a theory when we discussed this once: I've always had a deceptively athletic background despite my appearance, as I was plenty active in P.E. classes, took tae kwon do for four years, was active in marching band, and spent most of my time at De Anza fencing and playing soccer. So even though by the time we had that discussion I had been doing little but waiting tables for three years, I hadn't completely lost my disposition to being active.

The boyfriend of another former coworker also made a pretty decent point, or so I was told by the former coworker above, who was her best friend: he used to be a decent athlete in high school (not really good enough to play even at the junior college level, but certainly better than I ever could have been at the time), but spent most of college drinking and partying, so he couldn't do any of that anymore. The boyfriend remarked that since I never did any of that (at the time, he was plenty surprised to see me at the pub with a glass of Blue Moon one night last year) I had probably not let myself go as much as he did, so it would be a matter of relearning.

Yet another former coworker had this to add: The Scorpio side of me (since I'm on the cusp) makes me naturally intense, so even the mundane things are attacked with speed and ferocity (the latter half of the sentence being my words, not hers).

I don't really have a theory of my own on this, as I've never seen myself to be in good shape, let alone better than even one person I know. Sure, I know intellectually that I would be in better shape than the one guy I used to know who spent all his days drinking, doing hard drugs, playing MMOs, or all three at once. That doesn't equate to being in good shape as much as it equates to being in better shape than someone with worse habits than me. 

This makes me think of another topic for another time, but right now I wonder ... does the fact that, despite the bad habits mentioned above, I can generally sort of hang with people in decent shape mean I'm in decent shape or somewhere near there myself? Or is that really just some level of talent and experience making up for the fact that I'm in really poor shape? I should probably stop rambing at this hour.
jkmoreno: (Default)
 Well, even though it's not a repost, I am going to borrow a couple of things from my most recent post at The Hundredaire Socialite. First, even though I'm intentionally late to the party, Happy New Year!

Second, I've decided to work blogging back into my daily routine. I know from being a NaBloPoMo winner that I'm at least somewhat capable of it, so there's no real reason outside of epic laziness that I shouldn't be able to do so. Part of what sidelined my blogging (and my Facebooking and Tweeting for that matter) was getting accustomed to some of the radical changes - at least, for me - in my life. Specifically, getting used to having a girlfriend and going out more than just on a rare occasion. Well, it's been a few months, and now I think I've settled into a groove. Not only that, I may actually have stuff to write about that isn't just the usual "life sucks" or even the new usual "life is good"

This isn't a New Year's resolution, mind you. I've been debating this for a while now, and I don't really believe in making New Year's resolutions anyway. Not saying it's a bad concept, but like piercings and tattoos, I like them but they're not something I do. So I am not under any self-inflicted impetus to actually do what I'm saying here. I figure those that know me and love me wouldn't be upset if I disappeared off the blogosphere because they know how to find me elsewhere. Those that don't ... probably don't give a crap anyway.

Anyhow, the way the blog schedule currently looks is that Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday will be for The Hundredaire Socialite. My personal blogging will be done on Tuesday or Thursday, and Sunday. I basically have no intention of blogging more than five days a week, and I'd put even money on myself only making it three or four before long.

I am, after all, a pretty lazy human being, all things considered.
jkmoreno: (Default)
(The following entry was crossposted from The Hundredaire Socialite)

As I type this sentence, it's six in the morning, and I have yet to fall asleep. Part of this is likely due to not waking up until three in the afternoon yesterday, and probably the caffeinated beverage of choice I had after work, but I think a part of it is the one thing I don't like about evening shifts at work: if they're rough (and tonight was), I either get too wired to sleep, or otherwise just have an inability to really relax. My mind can be a funny thing that way sometimes.

I've been meaning to post for some time now, but the fact of the matter is that I've been busy. A lot busier than even I thought, and it all just kinda hit me tonight. It's yet another difference between college me and working me, and especially between college me and Hundredaire Socialite me. College me faffed about a lot and had plenty of "me time" as defined by the Wiktionary: time to oneself; a period spent relaxing on one's own. Working me obviously did that a lot less, but there was still downtime on my off days, when I wasn't unhinged from whatever took a Phillips-head to my ... um, head. Hundredaire Socialite me is working a lot and going out a lot. At the least, it's a lot compared to how much I used to go out, as I joked about in the last entry.

Long and rambly. Don't say I didn't warn you. )
jkmoreno: (Default)
(The following entry was cross-posted from The Hundredaire Socialite)

Tonight (or rather, Tuesday night) was the second time I've worked a closing shift at work in a long time. Alone it's a non sequitur, but in this case it provides some background.
 
The other closer was Robert, the lead trainer, one of my favorite people to work with and someone I haven't had much of a chance to talk with lately because of differing schedules and both of us going out to do stuff on occasion. So we'd gotten to talking afterwards about a few things. Eventually we were joined by Bryan, the newly-minted kitchen trainer, who is rapidly moving into the former category, and we all decided to go to the pub and grab a couple of beers (or in the case of the lead trainer, a Tequila Sunrise which was pretty yum). I'm noting this mainly to remind myself that it is something I should do more often.
 
Anyhow, something that came up early in the night was our increasingly busy schedules. The holiday upsurge in business was coupled with some new things for us, such as Bryan's recent promotion. Robert has a couple of out-of-town engagements and a buddy coming back from boot camp, and my own newness has been somewhat documented here since last month and is still going very strong. Robert said he was thinking of getting a day planner to help him keep up with things, and it had gotten me to thinking.
 
In the past, I eschewed this for two reasons. First, because my memory tends to be extremely good. Second, because in the past I never did anything with any frequency that mandated keeping a day planner except for work, which was adequately covered by the first reason. To put it in some perspective, on Saturday I went to the Dickens Fair with Breanna, went home to rest because I slept poorly the night before, put in a short appearance at a birthday dinner party for a friend of a friend from De Anza, went to yet another birthday party for one of the Haunters to actually get to socialize with a few of them that I haven't seen or talked to since June, then to Rocky Horror with the Bawdy Caste, which led to sleeping through the San Jose Holiday Parade (sorry about that, Holly :( ).
 
That weekend saw more socializing on my part than I probably did in the entirety of at least one of the last two years or so. If you crossed out outings with Rob, Katie, and Steve, than it probably tops the last five years combined.
 
Case in point: maybe I need a day planner now. After all, I don't just have my job anymore. I have many friends to go out with and many outings to plan or participate in. I have a part-time business, complete with presentations, conference calls, leadership training, and even an international training event (where I will be spending -this- weekend). 2011 will see me joining up with the Bawdy Caste, making another appearance at FanimeCon, possibly making trips to Disneyland and the San Diego ComicCon, perhaps even being part of Halloween Haunt 2011. Ergo, the Hundredaire Socialite won't just be out on the town, he'll potentially be out in force!
 
So here are my questions, finally: Do any of you keep day planners? Do they help you keep organized? Do you stick with cheap ones or get the professional-looking ones? Where can you get quality ones for cheap, since Robert and I could both benefit from that information?
jkmoreno: (Default)
In what's becoming a tradition, the original plan for this post has changed. Originally I was going to make some long, semi-philosophical post about the project's effects on me, but instead I'm going to demonstrate them by doing two things (other than the Countdown to FanimeCon) I never would have entertained before the project.

1) Treat my dad to dinner for his birthday (today)
2) Ask my girlfriend out for tomorrow (okay, not so new, but still not something I've done all that much before)

Last night I was wondering what was causing me to feel so confident lately, and I've decided that it was pretty much everything. Looking back over all the entries I've made over the month, I do feel somewhat accomplished that I kept my commitment of a post each day, and can call myself a National Blog Posting Month "winner". A quick check of my LiveJournal archive tells me some interesting facts:

1) This is the first time I've ever had a post in every day of the month.
2) This is only the second time I've ever had an monthly average of one post a day. December 2004 was the first, but that was a crappy month capped off by having to put one of my cats down, so forget it.
3) There are almost as many posts on this blog for the month of November than I've made in the entirety of 2006 and 2007.
4) There are exactly as many posts on this blog for the month of November as I've made in the entirety of 2009.

Sure, the material was pretty crappy most of the time, but even the best anime series have filler arcs, and NaBloPoMo doesn't grade solely on quality. I would like to improve it ... but that will come over another time.

However, there's no way I would have had the gunyanos (or the insanity) to attempt this in the first place if it weren't for the confidence gained from the various sources over the last fifteen months or so. So instead of dropping some philosophy, I'm going to make this a big shout out to everyone who has influenced me more or less for the better in that time frame, in no particular order. If this victory comes with prizes or any other sort of awesomeness, these people are the ones who helped me make it happen.

(This entry was [obviously] crossposted from The Hundredaire Socialite)

It got long. As usual. Go behind the cut and enjoy the mushy! )
jkmoreno: (Default)
Before I begin this entry, Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate(d) it. There are a great many things I'm thankful for, which is no surprise as this has quite possibly been the best year of my life. Not the happiest, and not the most prosperous, but sort of a happy mix between the two. Because my mom is working tonight (CNAs don't automatically get the holidays off, and she took about a month off a while ago to visit family), we had no Thanksgiving dinner today, but it's perfectly okay. Semi-tempted to go see if the King Eggroll is open right now, but I probably should let them be since my own restaurant is closed right now.

(This entry was crossposted from The Hundredaire Socialite)

It's tl;dr as always. You didn't expect anything different, did you? )
jkmoreno: (Default)
"Playing games at the amusement park to win something nice for your girlfriend? That's money well spent. Going to the amusement park with your girlfriend in the first place, for a special event your friends have been wanting you to go to for a while, and meeting up with said friends? If you don't think -that's- money well spent, then you have problems. Going to a restaurant alone and semi-brooding? Other than the good food, you should be able to do that at home. I did, and I felt no need to try and talk myself into going for its own sake. Which in itself, is another rule or two.

1. Money has no power over a Hundredaire Socialite.
2. A Hundredaire Socialite always spends responsibly.


Another reason for not being compelled to spend money? I knew this particular event was coming up, so I wasn't under pressure to begin operations immediately."

The following direct-linked field report is brought to you in part by Amanda Dalton, Jennafer Lavelle, Breanna Palermo, and the crew of California's Great America Halloween Haunt 2010. I'm also remiss in pointing out that the previous two filler entries were brought to you in part by Steven Tavares.

Read more at The Hundredaire Socialite, Mikey's attempt at National Blog Posting Month
30 Days, 30 Entries, or Bust!
Read, Comment, and Follow!
jkmoreno: (Default)
 "Thank you for calling The Hundredaire Socialite. Today is November 4, 2010, and the Hundredaire Socialite wants to wish his buddy Rob a happy birthday! So much so that his plans for the evening got upgraded to the super-deluxe package and he might be gone all night. If you are reading this (and you are), then that possibility has come to pass. The Hundredaire Socialite will clear his calendar and get back to you on Friday. Please leave your comments after the beep, and enjoy the musical selection posted on Steve's Facebook while you do so."

Read more at The Hundredaire Socialite, Mikey's attempt at National Blog Posting Month
30 Days, 30 Entries, or Bust
Read, Comment, and Follow!
jkmoreno: (Default)
Seriously, nothing really happened. Went out tonight and had a good time, but didn't get back in time to make a decent field report.

It was a very good time, though, one that fills me with inspiration and ideas. So naturally I'm gonna at least post here to link to the other blog and keep bringing in potential readers and comments and followers.

Nothing more to read at The Hundredaire Socialite, Mikey's attempt at National Blog Posting Month.
... but definitely more to read tomorrow!
30 Days, 30 Entries, or Bust!
Read, Comment, and Follow!
jkmoreno: (Default)
"Another reason I might be out of my mind to do this is because of my work schedule and its potential to shift towards Chaotic Insane. Case in point: today I was scheduled just to train, and was planning to do some other stuff I normally do on Wednesday so that I can be free to go to an event (that will be my first field report) that night. Show up at 2:30, be out by maybe 7:00 at the latest.

So of course, the night completely falls apart, solely because I needed it not to. I have to stay until closing to help everyone else out, and then another half-hour to do all the other stuff I need to do. It was almost like the cosmos didn't want me to blog, or wanted me to be tired and flame out of my ambitious project in typical fashion."


Read more at The Hundredaire Socialite, Mikey's attempt at National Blog Posting Month
30 Days, 30 Entries, or Bust!
Read, Comment, and Follow!
jkmoreno: (Default)
"The subject line sums up my thoughts, for the most part.

What on earth possessed me to try and semi-launch myself out of my comfort zone of books and video games to go out into the 'world' and be social? It's not like I was discontent with being a bit of a loner, not like I was dreadfully unhappy. I went out once in a while with good friends, and things were cool. I had no real desire to change.

Then I went to some different social functions. Parties and a couple of concerts with people I'd only gotten to know this year. Even a few dates, which in and of itself is a Really Big Deal.

I had to admit it. After going through school being the kid everybody picked on, and having the typical issues that went with it, I was at the very least extremely intrigued by the notion that I could actually be considered 'kind of cool"

Read more at
The Hundredaire Socialite, Mikey's attempt at National Blog Posting Month.
30 Days Or Bust
Read, Comment, and Follow
jkmoreno: (Default)
The last week or so has been a real whirlwind of activity for me. Lots of places to go, people to see, and even a few very exciting things which I will talk about a bit more later on. On top of all that, I turned 28.

As I'm sure at least one person knows, I generally am not enthusiastic about my birthday because, at various times, I dislike either a) getting old, or b) being old. This year, neither of those dislikes were really at the forefront, except for some jokes here and there when I felt like playing the cranky curmudgeon. However, as can probably be evidenced by some of my recent blogging, I've been a lot more introspective this year than I used to. Specifically, I've done a lot of looking back to that fateful time of the two years spanning my last year at De Anza, and my first year at Red Robin, the middle of which saw what Beth referred to (in regards to her own situation) as a great divide. I refer to it as such because mine dovetailed with hers, and it's no secret that she was a major cause of it.

The me of now is vastly, vastly different from the me of then. If one were to look back at my blogging of the period, they might see someone of extreme temperament. Someone who was either very very happy, very very angry, or very very depressed. They might see someone who placed an inordinate amount of importance on getting a girlfriend. They might see someone who could wax high amounts of eloquence yet say the same thing constantly.

So basically, they might see a smarter version of Chris-chan (WARNING: link NSFW due to language and imagery, follow at your own risk), with emotional disorders instead of mental.

Those are things that I see as well, but I also see things that I wish I had again. I also see the confidence that could only come from ignorance or self-centeredness. I also see points where I could legitimately say "I'm happy" even aside from the obvious points that were related to Beth. I also see more points where I did things I enjoyed, particularly music, because I enjoyed them. I even see times where I was blissfully optimistic about my job at Red Robin, and that is something I especially wish I could reclaim. Most of all, though, I see someone who never really loathed or hated himself.

That last part is interesting, because many times I had been given the advice of needing to love myself before anyone else could love me. Maybe I just came across as self-hating, but I never was then. Granted, that was because back then I blamed all my problems on other people, so naturally I never hated myself. I think the more accurate advice that I should have been given was that I needed to tolerate myself, because that was something I never did much of. Perhaps the intolerance of my situation was mistaken for self-hate. I could see why that was. Even now, on occasion I get the advice to love myself, albeit only from one person whose opinion matters to me, and a few others who don't know what the hell they're talking about.

I digress. At this point in time I smile at how some things changed, but other things stayed the same. Six years ago, I thought nothing of telling the world about my emotional turmoil and how much I was hurting, while now ... well, the fact my blogging almost completely disappeared over the last few years says something. I felt completely alone most of the time back then, while nowadays I'm very secure in the friendships I have. I was an emotional wreck in the past, while now I feel that the wreck has cooled into a sort of pessimistic apathy towards life and work. I'm disillusioned by the things I used to be optimistic about, and I don't derive the same enjoyment from music and video games that I once did (which is not to say that I don't enjoy them, but they aren't among the primary aspects of my life anymore).

And yet ... just as it was then, I derive a lot of my enjoyment from simply making people, particularly women, smile, I'm still an incorrigible flirt, still motivated by purposes beyond money and possessions ... and just as I considered meeting Beth online in 2003 and in person in 2004 to be greatest things to happen to me in those years, I consider meeting my current girlfriend, Breanna, and her asking me to be her boyfriend, to be the highlight of my 2010. At least so far, since there's still a couple of months left.

Now I'm planning to try and maximize the potential of these newfound changes, especially this newfound social life. Not in a way to make money, obviously, but just to try and convince me to keep this socializing thing up, have a project for National Blog Posting Month, and perhaps make new friends and reconnect with old ones.

When midnight happens and November begins ...

The Hundredaire Socialite will get ready to storm the scene!
jkmoreno: (Default)
 As my social horizons have ... well, if not broadened back to their previously illusory range, then at least started the process of doing so, I find myself aware that quite a bit of time has passed since the last time I really stopped to think about it.

Back in the days when I was blogging regularly, times were very different. If you were working full-time on minimum wage, you -might- have been able to make a living on your own, as opposed to it being flat-out impossible now. Things like Bluetooth and broadband internet may have existed, but were not the norm nor were necessary for function in the internet of the day. The PS2 didn't dominate (though by the time I stopped blogging regularly it was). Cell phones didn't have cameras, and some couldn't even have polyphonic ringtones. Twitter and YouTube didn't exist, and MySpace and Facebook were still newborns.

And in those days, I was remembering how 56K dial-up internet was revolutionary and the only real games in town were Netscape and AOL. I was remembering a time when a lot of things that are staples now didn't exist, like MP3s and DVDs. Anime and manga as we knew it were pretty much confined to Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in the mainstream and some niches otherwise. People thought that the Power Rangers were completely original creations.

In either case, the general area I'm trying to go with this is that a lot of time has passed, and there have been a lot of changes. Not just in technology and trends, but in people. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the not-better. The majority of my Facebook friends could be sorted into four distinct eras: people I knew from high school, people I knew from my two years at De Anza College or are linked with them, people I know from my first three or four years at Red Robin, and the people I've basically met or reconnected with since I turned twenty-seven last year. The latter two have mostly experienced minimal change (in fact, most of the people on my Facebook I've met in the last couple of years were added as friends only over the last couple of -weeks-), but even they have gone through something notable or are in the middle of doing so. The former two ... even though I know that change over that long a space of time is obvious, which is partially why there's such a thing as a ten-year class reunion, some of the changes still surprise and startle me.

A lot of the people I've seen from high school haven't aged very well, at least not in my opinion. People who used to make fun of me for being fat have become fat themselves, and not in a way that looks healthy. A couple of people who seemed like bright stars back then seem to be plagued with issues now, issues which are driving them down. Admittedly, I see a bit of myself in them, since I let my issues drive me down constantly for years and it was only recently that I may have learned to cut it out some. In some ways, it is as if time has not passed for them, or they chose not to acknowledge it, and they're upset that time if forcibly catching up to them. They haven't realized that you can't do anything about time. It makes me think of one friend I used to talk about here in the journal often, who was a pretty cool guy when I knew him but went downhill eventually, and never really broke the cycle. While he's cleaned up well (in more ways than one), a couple of formerly mutual friends admitted not long ago that even though they kinda thought I was a loser, watching what he did and how he treated them eventually made them realize that they, and he, had overlooked my good points. They commended me for basically turning myself around and being a responsible adult, something he has steadfastly refused to do and something that had become more important to them once they had left school and had to make their own way.

Of course, not everybody is afflicted with this. One guy who was more or less my best friend in school is in the Air Force, something I'm proud of him for doing, but he's been going through a rough time not unlike my own. A couple other guys I know from then who were jerks most of the time seem to have mellowed out a lot and are pretty cool, though honesty compels me to admit that there's the possibility that my own immaturity from back them had something to do with my perception of them as jerks. Quite a few that I remembered from around the beginning of my time with Red Robin have finished school and moved on to fulfilling careers.

Where do I define myself? Somewhat in the middle. There is some credence to the opinion that I wasted a good chunk of my life and as a result I'm still living at home and waiting tables at 28 while a lot of other friends have moved on to careers, gotten married, and started families. But I'm not entirely dependent on my family's generosity, and I'm not going out and getting drunk and causing trouble on a regular basis. My life is relatively drama-free. My job might be a dead end but I'm confident that at the right time and with the right opportunity I could take the skills I gained from it into a new field, which I'm attempting with my foray into marketing and telecommunications.

Do I wish I could have done better? Of course I do, but considering the alternatives, which could have easily gone the other way and led me down a dangerous road of substance abuse, serious mental disorders, institutionalization, or even death, I'm certainly not going to complain too much about where I am.

Would I have gone back and changed things to give myself advice so that perhaps I could have achieved more success now? Definitely not. It was because of all the pain, loss, and failure of my past, whether legitimate or cooked up in my mind, that I could recognize where I am right now as a good thing. As I am fond of telling people, if I hadn't been picked so much at school, I probably would have grown up to be a complete asshole.

If I wasn't suffering six years ago, I wouldn't be appreciating rising above things today.
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