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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I won my dog in a game of craps!

I know this doesn't come up nearly as much as it used to when my parents were kids, but I can remember watching movies that showed the dangerous side of gambling where people could bet anything at all.
People would go to Vegas and come home with someone else's car because in the heat of the moment that person threw their keys onto the poker table to call a bet with.

Being out here in Vegas for about 5 years now I do realize that none of this ever happens in actual sanctioned casinos.  Sure, it is possible for you to lose just about everything, but it's no where near as easy as it's made out to be in the old movies.

So, while the title of my blog is technically correct, it's no where near as cool as I would like to make it out to be.
Mind you - I did not win him with the sweater - that was later added by an evil person who likes to play dress up Barbie with unwilling subjects.
But, that cute little guy above, Monster, is my fur-baby and the only reason he is in my life is because of a game of Craps.

Well, let me restate that as one of two reasons he is in my life.
As much as I love dogs and that excited look on their face when they haven't seen you for more than 20 seconds I would not have gotten one if it were not for the girl I was dating at the time.

But, now that he is in my life I cannot picture living without him.  It truly was the best game of craps that I had ever played and probably will ever play.

It was at Sam's Town for those of you familiar. They have this great set-up with a bet that I have not seen at any other casino ever, even ones owned by the same parenting company.
3 bets sit prominent at the center of the table.
All Small to the left, All Tall to the right and above it the All or Nothing.
You can place up to a $5 wager on any of them or all of them if you so choose and all you need is a hot roll to collect.
The All Small and All Tall pay out at $35 for $1 and the All or Nothing pays out at $175 for $1.

So, on that fateful night as the dice were passed to me I placed $2 on each of the numbers and I rolled for probably about 30 - 40 minutes or so hitting many numbers and many points.

I started my roll with somewhere between $100 and $200 and I walked away with $1175 give or take - a big portion of that from hitting the All or Nothing roll.
There is a lot of adrenaline that rolls through the body when you shoot the dice for an extended period of time, each role adding a little bit to your stack. But, nothing quite as exciting as needing one number for a big payout and finally nailing it - In my case it was Yo-Eleven.
Funny thing is that I hit it one other time as well when rolling but not for such a big payoff as I only had $1 on each number.

And, as a side note, in addition to Monster, my $1100 score was the reason I also bought my first Xbox 360.
We had gone out to look at renting a video game to play for the week and next thing you know I'm buying an Xbox, a 2nd controller, Madden, 99 Nights and Dragon Warriors 5 (I think).

Good times.  Now that I live further away from Sam's Town i'm kinda happy because it means that I don't spend so much time at their craps table pissing away money, but at the same time I really miss rolling the bones there.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adventures in Skyrim - Am I a Thief?

The day began innocently enough as I made my way through a cave picking berries and looking for anything else that might be of use to me in the cold, harsh world outside. After I finished clearing the area out and was satisfied that nothing else of interest was left I decided to continue my journey onward.

As I left the cave I saw three fairly angry men making a ruckus and coming my way.
I immediately assumed that these fellows were angry because it was so bloody cold outside and because they were wearing steel armor all over their body.
You see, when subjected to the elements, metallic armor might not be the best to go with.  Metal attracts the elements and will magnify the effects.  So, it was only natural of me to assume that since it was very frigid outside today and that we were in the middle of a snow storm that these gentlemen were feeling the effects of the cold more than I was.

It was out of the kindness of my heart that I conjured up a heating spell and applied it to their armor in an attempt to help them take the chill off so that maybe we could have a nice conversation before I was on my way.
It's at this point I realized I don't quite have the amount of control I thought i did over how much I was heating their armor up and I accidentally set all 3 of them on fire until they passed out of lack of oxygen after their stopped screaming and stopped breathing.

I felt a little bad about what I had done so I decided to search their remains for any type of identification so that I could notify their loved ones of the accident that had just occurred.  It was then that I found a note stating that these guys were given money to rough me up and kill me if necessary in order to punish me for some sort of evil deed that I may or may not have actually done.

Here is the agreed upon amount. I
expect you to faithfully carry out my
request to teach a lesson to the thief
Kiarya. You need not kill her, but I
have no qualms about it if you deem it
necessary.

-- Gilfre

Obviously I am no Thief, I am a Mage.  I don't sneak around backstabbing people, I kill them with awesome spells and shouts that the common folk cannot begin to understand.  So, I see this as a misinterpretation or maybe this Gilfre just had the wrong name when she hired these men to track me down.  I don't know, but I can tell you that I don't take too kindly to my good reputation being ruined by a commoner.

Gilfre, I do not know who you are or even where you live for that matter but you and I are going to be having a conversation in the future about this little incident.  Sometimes my conversations are spoken through the fire and involve a bit of Shouting, but I'm sure you'll understand that you cannot soil my good name and expect no repercussions.

Adventures in Skyrim

This is a little late as I have wanted to write something about it now for a couple of weeks, but better late than never right?

So I broke down and bought The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim because I know a lot of people who are going to be playing it and it would be nice to have people to talk to about the game while playing it.
Usually I am late to the game and pick things up when they are cheap and all of my friends have beaten the game, mastered the game and made it their bitch.  So, when I try talking to them about the game I either get too much information (which spoils some stuff), I get douche bag attitude (you are just playing that now, I beat that when it first came out loser) and with some I get good helpful information but I never get to "live" the experience with anyone.  So, knowing how much I loved Fallout 3 (100 hours and I still haven't touched the DLC yet) I figured that Skyrim would be a game I could easily get 100+ hours out of and therefor worth a day one purchase.

My only regret is that with getting it and not having played Oblivion yet that I might not be able to go back and play Oblivion because it would seem outdated compared to the newest release, so we will see how that goes whenever/if-ever I finally get to Oblivion.

Rough calculations put me approaching 30 hours into the game and I have not played nearly as often as I truly would want.  I have just recently hit level 17 and am running through the game with a Mage who is also specializing in one handed ax's (for when magic fails me) and crossbow's for hunting down elk and whatnot.
I am not cheesing the game in any way, I am not focusing really hard on getting any stats up high, I am just playing it as I see fit and running through the vast world that is Skyrim.  I am also loving every bloody minute of it.

My character is named Kiarya (I think that's how I spelled it) and is a throwback/reference to my old college days playing Dungeon's and Dragons with friends.  In fact, in pretty much every RPG that I play over the years post Behrend has me naming my characters (in the games that actually let you name characters) as a nod to those late night gaming sessions of yesteryear.
While the names that I give my video game characters might not 100% fit the person they are referencing, it still gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that will never be replaced.
Skyrim is no different.  I am already planing other play through's of the game using different types of characters and all of their names will come from the same place.
There will be a Rand (most likely my thief), there will probably be a Fallendelf (or Fal for short - who will probably specialize in healing and illusion spells), there will be a Zerg or Zorg who will be just a big brute of a Nord with low intelligence who wields big weapons and slaughters everything in his path provided someone else set him on that path. There might be others as well, but these are the ones that I'm thinking about currently.

I came in here to write a little story that occurred while playing and instead I went elsewhere.  So, as to not get too long winded I'll save that story for next time (which might actually have a completion to it instead of being open ended like it currently stands) and hope that some of you get enjoyment out of it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poker Night

I have not had the opportunity to play much poker recently so I am happy to report that I went out last night and through extreme patience and I had a profitable evening.

I originally headed out to the IP as Alaskagal of Allvegaspoker.com was going to be starting her shift.  However, upon arriving to the parking garage, I was greeted by a gent who told me that they were only allowing people staying at the hotel to park in the garage and I would have to park over at Harrah's.

Being that I was feeling kind of chilly in the brisk air as it was I decided I was not parking at Harrah's and headed over to Bally's instead.

The session started up and down as I won a good sized hand with a set of Kings early on but lost it all back plus a little more when someone flopped a set of Queens on me.
In fact, I had a series of hands that took me from about $250 starting stack to about $60.
Being that I had only been out for about an hour and didn't want to head back home with my tail tucked between my legs this year I decided to just go into extreme short stack mode and grind it back up (or get involved in a coin flip situation and hope to come out on top ha!).

So, For about the next hour or so I sat with my stack between $50 and $70, playing very little (got no cards as well) and waiting for any opportunities to add any chips to my stack.

Finally, willing to gamble it up I got into a situation where I was willing to play a hand in a less than desireable way in order to try to get more chips.  I called a raise with QQ (instead of reraise/pushing) hoping to get a couple of others to come along so I could push any flop.  However fate smiled on me when a Q came on the flop and a local doubled me up.
Same Local gave me another buy-in a few hands later when I called a smallish bet on the flop and hit my gutshot on the turn which he never saw coming - Still think I would have got another $100 out of him if the board didn't pair on the river.

I went on a hot streak and added a lot of chips to my stack over the course of about an hour where I hit everything (2 gutshots, 2 flushes, a couple sets, etc).

By the end of the evening I finally had one guy join my table (not a local, but a guy who is in town a lot) who I recognized and left shortly afterwards as the game was dying down and only us nits had the chips.

I then went and lost $26 at the craps table when the non-local came over to talk to me for a few minutes since he sees me around a good amount.  I then headed home and took a 3 hour nap before getting up today to watch football - but I should have slept because it's a crappy game I care nothing about.

Turkey Day and Black Friday

Turkey day and Black Friday, American traditions.

The great news this year was that for the first time in 5 years I actually got to spend a holiday with my family and that is worth more than anything else.  I am happy to have them living on the same coast as myself again and I didn't realize how much I had missed it until I got it back.

That being said, just like old times Christmas to us is more of a "season" than a particular day.  We have never celebrated holidays like other folks for the most part.  I usually get at least one or most of my presents early and because I will never grow up I always get toys (the toys generally have changed to awesome electronic toys as the years have gone on however I do still get a traditional toy - this year I am expecting Skylanders Action Figures).

So, Christmas is getting ahead of myself, Turkey Day comes before it.
Oddly enough, this Turkey Day we actually ate turkey.  This is something that does happen once in a while but we have been known to go with something less traditional like Lamb or whatever instead of the normal mass slaughtered celebrated bird.  But the turkey was bloody delicious as were the rest of the normal decorations of corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cheese cake.  Oh, even the next day leftovers were to die for.

My #000000 Friday shopping was mostly done the night before and just a few items done the morning of before heading out to work, however it was 95% done online.  And lets be honest, online is so much better because I don't have to deal with hour long waits to get to the register, I don't have to fight soccer moms for the last Kinnect and hope I don't get pepper sprayed while trying to pick up my cheap electronic addictions.

I did pick up a few things that I really wanted pretty damn cheap (and maybe some of this will be overlapped from my last post, but I don't care) and stuff for others as well, even though that stuff will go unannounced for now.

I grabbed a copy of the Wii game Metroid: Other M for $4.99 and free shipping from Best Buy.
I grabbed Blu-Ray copies of The Crow and Gran Turino for $4.99 and free shipping from Amazon.com.
Of course my copy of The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com which is actually being bought for me as a Xmas Gift.
Also I did snag my copy of Mad Men season 4 on blu-ray for $8.99 from Amazon.com.
And, At the last minute I grabbed the last two Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray for $9.99 each (Amazon.com again).

On a related note, I am very interested in the idea of the new version of digital copies included with movies now a days - Ultra Violent or whatever.
I like the idea that they are not just a one use and done (hopefully) and stored on the mystical cloud so that you can start and army of digital movies to add to your collection.
This is going to be something that I'll hopefully be taking advantage of so that I can watch digital copies of great movies on my Kindle Fire without having to go through the hassle of ripping and converting the movies myself.

I have most of what I want to get for the old man bought for the holiday season however I'm still working on the old lady.  I just gotta find the right gift (you know, other than the ultimate gift of my love lol).

Black Friday was boring and as every other year involved me working and selling crap to people who somehow manage to not work on such a day.  I didn't sell anything impressive or that would actually make me any money, but I helped some people find things that they want and let them leave with a smile on their faces which is what is important.

Life is good.
Take care and enjoy your family this holiday season - and please stop buying clothes for your pets, they don't like that shit.  Treats - Treats are what they like.  I have talked to them, this is what they tell me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The day before

It is the day before gluttony day and I sit here and think of what I am thankful for in my life, at least that is what I should be thinking about.

Instead I have been browsing video game and poker forums and blogs.
I have now purchased my 2nd X-mas present which should be delivered Monday.
I do find it amusing that I purchase my own gifts for other people -they just need to give me the money :).

I also splurged and bought myself a gift while I was on Amazon.com.

1st things first - the gift that I will be receiving (though maybe I'll wait till actual xmas to give it to myself from my parents) is the Blu-Ray of Lord of the Rings Extended edition which is on sale and I have been waiting for it for a long long time.

In college I was a huge fan of the movies, watching all of them in the theater multiple times each.
I bought them on DVD when they were released and I bought the extra special extended edition box sets when they were released as well. I believe they were a Best-Buy exclusive that came with bookends and whatnot - either way I have never even opened them, though it saddened me after one of my moves noticing that the shrink wrap on one had become ripped.  Oh well.

I also traded for the Blu-Ray collectors case that Best-Buy offered up as a pre-order bonus for ordering the regular edition of LOTR on Blu when they were released.  I didn't want to buy the regular edition Blu-Ray's because I knew I would be getting the extended versions as well, so I saved some money there and now only own the movies 3 times instead of 4 times (heh).  So, yes, I am excited to get my boxed set in so that I can now place the movies into the special holder that I bought for them.
I cannot wait to spend a whole day watching all 3 movies (C'mon Hobbit - we need you).

And, while I was ordering that gift for myself from my parents I also decided to spend $5 on myself and ordered the Blu-Ray version of Terminator 2 - one of my all time favorite movies.

Tomorrow between 4:30 and 8:30 Amazon.com will be having a sale on Mad Men Blu-Ray's for $8.99 each and I will be picking up the 4th season as I own the other 3.

I am hoping that there are some other TV shows that get some really good Blu discounts on Black Friday and the coming weeks as I am adverse to paying the type of money that they usually cost.  I'm a $20 and under type of guy.

I have been playing much Skyrim and will continue to do so for at least 100 gaming hours.

I am going to try to dedicate myself to reading 1-2 books every month.
For December I am reading a recommendation from an old friend - The Reluctant - which I purchased for the whopping price of $0.99 instead of getting it for free as I would like the author to at least make a nickle off of my read instead of nothing.
And, the other book that I'll be reading is one written by a high school friend with whom I have recently gotten back in contact with (and am addicted to his Youtube cooking show) Strange Works of a Strange Dreamer.

And, as a final note, everyone should check out Testosteroso which is a pretty damn cool band from the York/Lancaster area of PA that I was just introduced to earlier today.  Check out the webpage and listen to the songs on there - I love the take on Duck Tails and LOVE Mail Order Bride.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Musings

Today while having a conversation with a close friend through text messages my brain formulated it's own rationale to my current living situation.

I had likened not living in my own house to having to pay child support.
Every month a large portion of my income goes to something in which I have no control over and occasionally gain visitation rights to.

The response was "well, lets hope it doesn't last 18 years."

And that was when I came up with this.

My current living situation is more akin to a STD than child support.
It will clear up within a year but man does the itching suck.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Kmart - Customer Service Gone Horribly Wrong

Working in retail for the past decade has given me the opportunity to complain a lot about how I think certain decisions that the company (company can be either at Corporate level or even just on a Senior Manager level at the store) makes because of whatever reasoning I might have.

I was taught by my Admin Manager from day 1 that the customer is always right and we will do anything we can to make them happy because they will give us repeat business if they felt we took care of them fairly (no matter how we felt about it).
This has been ingrained in my head for over 9 years now as I take care of my customers on a daily basis.  From making a sale to correcting an issue after the sale, I take care of my customers every single time.

So, it is with much frustration that I am now in a situation where I am dealing with another retail company where I have an issue and I feel like I am getting the run around.

My problem started before 12:30 pm today and here I sit typing at nearly 3pm with no resolution other than I can expect a phone call within the next 48 business hours to discuss the situation and find a resolution.
So, enough vague and more explain!

Kmart has been running deals with rewards as long as you are signed up for their reward service. I will not be divulging the name of said website because I do not want to advertise for them with the lack of customer service I am currently receiving.

There was an advertisement that is running all week long stating a deal in the form of Purchase $XXX and receive $XXX in reward coupons for a future purchase.  Must equal a certain amount after tax (and per the official representative online) you CAN use previous reward coupons to bring the price under $XXX and STILL QUALIFY.

So, I go to my local Kmart to take advantage of the promotion.  When I get my product there are 2 cashiers near the register who are talking to me, one of the cashiers is new and the other is not.
Normal chit chat occurs and I explain to them why I am making my purchase and what I figure I will qualify for by making the purchase.
Neither of them have a problem with any info provided.
The new cashier is the one running register and cannot get his log in to work, experienced cashier gives new cashier his information so he can run the transaction (this really has nothing to do with anything, I am just retelling everything that happened).

He goes to ring everything up, but I ask for it to be done in two transactions to be on the safe side because I am expecting reward X for purchase #1 and reward XX for purchase #2 and would rather keep them separate just in case the system will only recognize one reward per transaction.
They both agree this is a good idea.
We make sure to use my rewards card (done via my phone number) because the system only prints the reward coupons if the person is registered for the reward program.
We run the transaction and no reward coupons print - I look at the receipt and my reward program was logged correctly.
Both cashiers cannot figure out what went wrong so they call a supervisor who comes back and flips through the add looking for the information.  A few minutes later she finds it and looks at what I purchased and tells me that because I used a previous coupon which brought my transaction down 1 penny below the threshold, I did not qualify.
I explain to her that online, through the official Kmart representative of this program, has verified and spread the word that the use of other reward coupons to lower the amount will not affect it and the purchase will still qualify.
She tells me that i am wrong and that they do not know how the system works and because of the product that I had purchased (it is a NON REFUNDABLE product) there was nothing she could do for me.
She told me that I need to pay more attention in the future in order to qualify for the rewards.

So, instead of continuing a conversation where I am being told I am SOL (the customer is not right) I left before a heated conversation could ensue.

I used my phone and looked up Kmart customer service phone number and gave them a call while I was still in the parking lot.
I explained my situation to the person who did all the normal apologizing and after nearly 20 minutes she informed me that all I had to do was go home, log into the reward program online and that my reward coupons for $XX would be in my account there and I could print them.

That was not the case, I have no reward coupons stored in my online account.
So, via online chat I contacted another Kmart representative and explained my situation through a series of very lengthy typed out messages.
He as well did the typical apologize, this is a rare case, sorry about your issue BS before finally getting to a point where he told me that he was sorry, he could not help me at all because my transaction occurred in a physical store and he can't help with those types of matters.
He then provided me with a different 800 number and told me that I should call there to resolve my situation.

So, I called and after explaining everything yet again I get told that she will get a hold of the Store Manager at the store and he will call me back to discuss any resolution, and he has 48 business hours to do so.

So, here I am, hours later and possibly waiting for another two days to talk to someone who might be able to come up with a solution that has already dragged on for way longer than it ever should have.

If this were my store the situation would never have gotten this out of hand.
First off I know all the promotions for the product I am selling.  If someone says that they are going to be taking advantage of a certain promotion but they have the wrong information I explain it to them.  I tell them how exactly they need to go about it in order to achieve their desired goal.  I do not just push them through and when something goes wrong expect someone else to take care of the matter.

Second, if there were an issue after the sale I would have taken care of it immediately, right there on the spot. I would have come up with a resonable solution or gotten someone involved with the authority to do so. I would not have looked at the customer sand said "Sorry, your shit out of luck, you need to pay more attention." (I told the cashier what I was going to do and why, they made the sale knowing the desired outcome but weren't smart enough/trained enough to know whether or not the desired outcome was achievable?)
I would never have let the customer leave the store upset and feeling wronged.  THIS IS NOT HOW YOU CREATE REPEAT BUSINESS.

So here I sit, hours later, getting more and more upset over the whole situation as every single person I talk to cannot come up with a simple easy solution even though I have told each and everyone of them what I was willing to do or how I would take care of it if this customer was in my store with this issue.
No, I have to wait another 2 days and hope to get a call back from the Store Manager and hope that he can provide me with some sort of closure in an attempt to keep my business.

I would have had this particular situation taken care of in less than 5 minutes At The Store.
Kmart let me leave pissed off and getting more angry with every level of service I deal with, potentially losing me as a customer and everyone who I am going to tell about my issues and how they will not take care of you and no longer care about you once the sale has gone through.

--- A disgruntled customer

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Clean Slate

It's the proverbial Clean Slate where the past is wiped away and the future is at the end of a cloudy tunnel.

Everything that once was here is now gone and everything that will be here remains a mystery.

As I looked back over some of the stuff that I had one here I realized that at this moment none of it mattered.
I didn't want to reflect on it any longer, I didn't want to re-read it.  Most of it was poorly written anyways, though I assure you that most of what I will write is going to be poorly written as well.

I didn't get this far in life off of my good looks and grammar!

The past 12 months have been full of hardships for myself but I am looking towards the future now.

I now have my family with me again, I love in the greatest city in the F'n world and I have a job that pays me more than I need and is as secure as any job is in this rough economy.

And, how can I forget, I have my Monster.
Even though he hates to have his picture taken.

Starting this next week I am going to be back on a set schedule at work which will help get me into routines that I need to be in.
I have a goal of posting a blog once per week about whatever is going on in my life - good, bad and ugly.
I will attempt to start going to the gym again.

That is enough of an intro - I now have to go eat some Doritos's and play some Video Games before the day escapes me.