carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Last night there was a power outage at the warehouse where my newspapers are printed, stuffed, stored, and distributed.
This caused a 12 hour delay in the normal schedule, which meant I was left hanging, with nothing to do but wait until the papers arrived.

It seemed like a rather endless waiting game.
With the thought that the papers could show up at any time, I put off doing anything that involved lots of time or effort so I would be available once they arrived, nor would I be too tired.

In the end, I should have devoted more time to other things, as they finally arrived around 8:30pm, when it was too dark and rainy to do anything about it.

So now I've wasted my Wednesday, now I have no Thursday, my Friday is going to be hectic with two routes and a final exam, then my Saturday I get to see a movie and finish off any papers that I may have missed on Friday.

Talk about a very sub-optimal day... =>.<=

Remind me why I deliver newspapers again?
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
And it seems that the first snow is going to be here for a bit.

The forecast is for more snow on Tuesday and maybe some on Wednesday, though it may turn to rain late Wednesday/early Thursday.

I'm not really concerned with how slippery it may be, as I've had well over eight years of experience pulling a cart full of papers on slick ice, so I'm pretty good at it.

What I'm more concerned with is keeping the papers dry as I deliver them.
The issue in this case is that snow can pile up much more easily than rain can, and so can make even bigger wet spots than a simple rainshower can.

I kind of need to get a tarpaulin and fold it up into a box-like thing to put the papers in while I'm delivering them.
There ought to be at least one way to fold it in such a way so that it's easy to open, but still keeps rain and snow out.

...I'd never expected the snow to hit so early or suddenly...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I have three paper routes to deliver tomorrow (Friday), as well as Laser Tag to go to in the evening, which I have to leave at 4:30pm or so for, so I have a pretty packed day.

Fortunately, I just checked the weather report, and it indicates that it's going to be cloudy with sunny periods.

Woot for no rain!

It may even change a bit over to sunny with cloudy periods, or even to completely sunny, who knows?
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
My Friday and Saturday are going to be rather busy.

This Saturday is the annual ACM programming competition for my region, and I'm going to be a volunteer, helping to run the Print and Balloon station.
(when teams print stuff, I rush the printout over to their computer, and when they correctly solve a problem, I inflate a balloon and tie it near their station)

This means I have to get there at 7:30am, and I usually like getting up at 8:30am, so it's going to be a little early for me.

On top of that (and before I'd remembered about the contest), the computing science student union is having a laser tag night the Friday before that, meeting on campus at around 5:15pm, then heading to the nearest laser tag location in a group, where we'll be playing a couple of rounds.
Each round usually lasts about twenty minutes, with about ten minutes between rounds, so that should last about an hour.
Add in travel time, and we should be done around seven or seven-thirty.
(plus over an hour to get home)

Then my supervisor called me Monday night, asking if I could substitute for another carrier on that same Friday (and I'd forgotten that I'd be out for the evening), so I said yes.
Each route typically takes me about two hours to do, so that'll be six hours that day, hopefully with some breaks between routes so I can avoid getting too tired.

So, talk about a busy weekend, eh?
At least my Sunday is still clear...
(for now, anyway)
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
These past couple of months have been rather wet on average, with rain of some sort almost every day, save for a few rather important days.

Those days are Wednesdays and Fridays, when I deliver my newspapers.

Aside from those days, it's usually a little wet around here.

It's been like this for a few months now, and I'm pretty thankful for this.
(especially as Canadian Thanksgiving was just yesterday)

In case anybody wants to keep an eye on the weather in my area, check out CBC's Vancouver Weather page periodically and see how the weather predictions change the closer it gets to Wednesdays and Fridays.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Gee, I have so much to say today.
I guess I'll just dump it all in one as it's almost 2:30am...
There is a branch of Electronic Arts in a nearby city and they hold playtesting sessions almost every week.
I first learned about this, well, maybe a year ago, and started applying for positions of interest.
(problem is that the nearest location doesn't create games in the genres I'm interested in)

Anyway, I was finally accepted for one this week (it was today, actually. Or more like yesterday. Okay, let's just say it was on Wednesday and leave it at that) and had a lot of fun.

As I signed an NDA, I can't say much about what happened, and mentioning even the type of game would pinpoint which location I was at, so I'll remain mum on that.
(the NDA lasts for a year, so I've got to wait until September 16, 2011 just to be on the safe side)

Anyway, in payment for having us playtest their game, we were each given one free game from the EA store.
We were told to give them a list of three possible games that we wanted and they'd pick what they had in stock.

Unfortunately, they had none of my choices in stock (LEGO Batman, Battlefield 2142 Deluxe, Battlefield 2: Complete Collection), so I had to choose something else from the store.

Apparently even my recently-built PC is still lagging far behind what is current in the games industry, as the latest Battlefield game (Bad Company 2) would not run much or at all even on that!
(the minimum requirements list a dual-core processor, and a quad-core is recommended!)

So I opted for something that could be similar: Mass Effect 2: Collector's Edition.
(hey, since it was free, I may as well go for the best version)

I haven't installed it yet, as I've got a number of much more important things to do.
Actually, this makes me wonder if I really have any free time to play games...
As my Wednesdays and Fridays are (in general) available, I've taken on a second paper route.
It's a bit less than a hundred papers and I'm not getting paid the ten-cent flat rate for them (six cents base and half a cent for every flyer over six, with bonuses for any extra deliveries that may be given), so I won't be getting double what I'm getting now.
But, it's in a new area, so I'll be able to meet new people and visit a new neighbourhood.

Though it makes me wonder if there's a reason I seem to be learning this much about my neighbourhood.
I wonder if I'll eventually need this information for something...
And now for something completely fascinating:
Marble Machine 3, by xeniaguy2, a grandfather, if I'm not mistaken.
It's an intriguing set up, where the initial marble is inserted into the machine at the bottom, and is brought to the top by means of carefully designed and counterbalanced levers.
(it's important to note that it's only initially brought to the top in that fashion, after that, it's brought to the top again via a 21lb counterweight, as the initial mechanism isn't easy to reset)

Once you've watched that one, there are quite a lot of other marble machines out there, including this one that's about the size of a business card:
Card-sized SPACEWARP, by denha.

You really get inspired by this sort of thing.
It really makes me wish I could get into the game...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I seem to be the go-to person when the newspaper needs a substitute paper carrier.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
It's just that this last time, the route in question was about eight blocks away, well out of my usual area.

Have you ever tried to lug about sixty pounds of newspapers on a two-wheeled cart when the load is a little overbalanced?
When you're not used to it, it can tire you out really quickly.
(heck, even if you are used to it, too!)

On top of that little problem (which would have been worse if I'd had to do the route in more than one trip), one of the streets was getting repaved, which meant that the entire street was gravel.
Granted, it had been packed fairly flat, but some areas were kind of loose, which meant that the going was kind of hard.
(and I don't have a whole lot of upper body strength, either, which didn't really help)

Piled yet again on top of that was the fact that the streets were not so level as the ones I'm used to, and in addition to that, most houses I delivered to had stairs leading up to the front door where the mailbox or letter slot was, and there was a significant stretch where the lawns had steep stairs leading up to the road as well!

The odd thing is, my back was only sore until the end of the day (in which I delivered my route also), and felt fine the day after.
(unlike my right shoulder, which is the one I used most on that route. It's a little tender when I use it in similar ways to how I use it for pushing the cart)

Anyway, suffice it to say that I won't be accepting substitute work outside my area in a good long while, probably not until I get a better job somewhere else, which means I won't be up for this sort of thing any more.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Apparently London Dugs carries the good jelly bean brand, Jelly Belly.
A small box (around 50g to 100g) is about $1.49, with a selection of ten flavours.
A small tin (around 200g) is about $6.49, and has about thirty flavours.
A small bag (around 300g) is also $6.49, and has about twenty flavours.
(yes, it's kind of expensive, but it's good quality!)

I'd received some in my stocking last Christmas (hmm, that was seven months ago! My how time flies!) and really enjoyed the quality and flavour, so I picked up a small bag of it.

I've been enjoying a few beans now and again, they flavours are wonderful, but sometimes hard to place.
(it would help if I ate more than one of the same flavour right after each other, to help figure out what each flavour is)

We'll see just how long they last...


I'm melting!

Well, not so much any more, but this entire week has been rather warm with hardly any clouds.
It only took me two days to figure out that I shouldn't take a jacket with me...

Then it took me until today (Friday) to buy a pair of shorts...
(while I have a pair of shorts my mom made me a while ago, they have an elastic waistband, so they're not really good for wearing anywhere aside from home)

So far, I'm rather enjoying the shorts, they're actually a little lighter than the home-made ones I've been wearing for a while now, and they're almost cargo shorts, what with the extra pockets on them.
(this means I can tuck my top-sheets from my newspapers into a front pocket and not worry about it getting sweaty and start to shred)

Today started to cloud over halfway through, so it was much cooler than it had been the rest of the week, which was much appreciated.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
So, one of my fellow carriers was unable to deliver his three routes for last Friday, so my supervisor asked if I could substitute for one of them, then asked if I might be interested in another.

For some strange reason, I accepted all of them.
(this in addition to my normal route, making a total of four routes in one day, on top of a class in the morning)

My supervisor was very understanding if I wasn't able to deliver all the routes in one day, there was no issue with delivering the rest on the Saturday.
She also wanted to know which routes I delivered on the Saturday so she could properly field any complaints that might arise without them showing up in my file.

The weather reports for the Friday and Saturday were not good, probabilities of at least 60% chances of rain, with no indication of sun.

So, it rained that morning until I got home from class, then the sun came out and the wind blew almost all the clouds away, leaving it bright and dry, near perfect delivery weather.
(the report for Saturday was still that it would rain, but the chances had dropped to 40% from 60%)

Again, it had rained during the night, but had cleared up to be bright and sunny again while I delivered the second two routes I'd missed on Friday.

It even stayed nice and dry while I had a lunch break between routes.

Not long after I finished the second and final route, it started raining lightly.
(almost like it was wondering if I needed to go out again later)

Later into the night and into Sunday, it started getting rather windy and the rain started pounding harder, so I'm glad I didn't have to do any more deliveries than that.

It's kind of surprising how accommodating the weather can be, especially when you don't have very good protection for the newspapers.
(all I have is an umbrella and a cart covered with black garbage bags. I'm thinking about upgrading the umbrella to a full, waterproof cloak, which would enhance still further the protection I'm giving the papers as I carry them up to each house. Protecting the papers while they're still on the cart, however, is still an issue I don't have a straight answer for yet)

Other times, I've just arrived back home after delivering papers (especially the times I've forgotten an umbrella) when the sky opens up and drops a deluge of rain that would have soaked me to the skin.

Somebody up there likes me, and I take this as proof that this is where I'm supposed to be in my life right now.
(which doesn't help the pay – about $10 a day, twice a week – but at least it's some pocket money)
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Despite the fact that it's not thanksgiving (Canadian or American), I can still be thankful for stuff:
  1. I'm thankful that I was only stuck in bed one day
  2. I'm thankful that my paper route supervisor is very understanding of any problems I have (she was fine with me delivering half of Wednesday's papers on the day and half the day after when I called)
  3. I'm thankful that I can deliver papers late with nobody on the route complaining about a missed paper
  4. I'm thankful that the neighbourhood I deliver in is safe, even at night
  5. I'm thankful that I can deliver papers "late" (after about 5pm in the winter) and see people's Christmas lights
  6. I'm thankful that the weather has been favouring me these last few days. While the weather report has indicated rain, it hasn't rained at all while I've been out.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Most of you should know that I have a job delivering newspapers for a local newspaper, so I thought it might be interesting to hear some of what I do for it.

I have a two-wheeled cart that I use to carry the papers on while I deliver them. I used to use a waggon, but that was before the wheels rusted off...

The papers get delivered to me in bundles tied with two plastic straps with no plastic wrapping (so I have to be careful when delivering in the rain or snow). I take one strap off and stack as many as will fit on the cart, leaving the rest for the next trip.

I've started a list of requirements for a future cart should I decide to make a new cart myself or modify one should it not be what I need:
  • Kick plate: I noticed recently that I've been using my foot to push the cart to an angle so I can push it, and I'm not always hitting the vertical bars, so a kick plate would be great for keeping the papers cleaner.
  • Door-hanger hook: Occasionally I get door-hangers that I deliver with the papers, with a hole at the top to hang on the doorknob (hence the name). My usual difficulty is that most carts aren't designed to carry these, so I have to hang them on one of the crossbars, which does nothing to prevent them from swinging or getting blown around by the wind. A bit of wire arranged in a square or rectangle flat some distance below a hook would do much to prevent them from being blown around.
  • A hook or strap to hold a water bottle. On hot days especially it's a good idea to carry water or something like that to keep you hydrated. Currently, I have difficulties carrying a water bottle with me as there are no holders on the cart.

Minor things that would be nice:
  • A longer handle? I'm not sure just what pushing the cart the way I do might be doing to my posture, but sometimes it feels like my arm gets pulled downwards, so maybe a longer handle might be a good idea. (one to two inches, five at the most)
  • A removable cover to use during the rain that's easy to get into, but keeps the rain out. (no duh there. I currently use a black garbage bag laid over top the stack of bundles to keep the rain off, which works fairly well unless it's windy)

Something that might be very nice is a motorized cart that can follow you when you want it to.
(because I deliver to houses that have stairs, it would be a very bad idea to have it follow me all the time)

Because the technology is available, it shouldn't be too difficult, but it really wouldn't be worth the cost, not unless I was delivering three different routes, seven days a week. But it sure would be fun...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
But first, due to my last semester of fun and madness, I had to drop the newspaper route I'd been delivering, which put the crunch on my Christmas present spending this year. (so it was not related to the economy, however, I did benefit from it due to some dropped prices)

At my earliest convenience I called the newspaper back and told them I was available to deliver or substitute for any route in my area, and found out that there were no available routes in my area, but there was a substitute position available from Dec. 10-17 (a four-day stretch, the paper coming out on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays), which I accepted and delivered with my usual quality of service.

Apparently, the carrier quit afterwards, and the circulation department asked if I would like to substitute for it again until they find another carrier for it. I, forgetting that I was interested in another route for myself, accepted it again, then called my zone supervisor back asking to have the route myself.
(I haven't heard from them yet, but I'm not worried, after all, I'd just been called on the 23rd about substituting again, and I'm sure that the office has been closed...

So, I might have a route again, and I might not, but one thing I know for certain is that when you haven't delivered a paper route for four months, then suddenly start delivering heavy holiday editions in two feet of white powder, you're bound to be sore for a couple of days afterwards.
(I've been sore for two or three days now, but am feeling much better now. It hurt even to laugh or get up from lying on the floor (something I like doing on occasion as it helps with posture and is usually a good resting spot). I also hadn't given myself much time to rest, what with all the snow needing to get shovelled off the driveways and pathways and vehicles and all... >.< )


Christmas Day:
There were only two things I found lacking on Christmas Day, the presents I gave (my budget was even smaller this year due to dropping the paper route I'd had because of my semester schedule) and my sister's impatience with my parents' lack of preparation.

As my Dad enjoys Wallace & Grommitt, I gave him a 2009 calendar (and some chocolate from the Art Knapps' Plantland display of candy imported from England).

To my Mom I gave a copy of "Dog Eat Doug" (a comic about a baby and a puppy with many of their antics and troublemaking).

My sister received the soundtrack for the recent musical "Mama Mia", some chocolate from the above-mentioned candy display, and a clip-on light for reading books or using a laptop by.

For the older of my two younger brothers (the one with the Nintendo DS), I found a copy of the "New Super Mario Brothers" game, and some licorice and chocolate, also from the above-mentioned candy display.

For my youngest brother (who is currently three years old), I found the Dinco helicopter, Sarge and a cammo McQueen from the movie Cars, along with a Cars-themed lunchbox that my sister didn't need to give to him.

It really makes me wish I could get a higher-paying job than a newspaper carrier so I can give better gifts to people...

Of all the gifts I received this year, the most notable are the ultra-bright LED flashlight my brother gave me (it even has a warning on it about looking into the lense when on!), a copy of the game Blokus (which I have yet to play a second time. The first was at a games night on campus, when I really enjoyed it), a five-button laser mouse (which I'll need to test more thoroughly, as I can't use the drivers on the disk that came with it, as it completely screwed up Windows' control of the mouse cursor, which included running the cursor off the screen and randomly opening context menus, meaning that I had to boot into safe mode to uninstall its drivers).

Add to the above the three different gift cards I was given (by different people) this year (one for London Drugs, another for Tim Hortons, and the last a pre-paid VISA card with $60CAN on it. Considering the fact that never before have I ever received more than one gift card per gift-event (Christmas, birthday) before, I've been rather blessed this year.

(I'm considering using the VISA card to buy an LCD display to connect to the Arduino that I'm going to buy so I can build a computer-controlled external display/input device to play around with, but I haven't decided yet. After all, no fees means no hurry...)

Overall a pretty good holiday this year, I think.


Boxing Day:
Unlike past Boxing Days (which we Canadians usually spend in the malls buying what we didn't get on our lists, though my family's usually better than buying things up that quickly afterwards) where I would visit almost a dozen stores to see what kind of bargains I could find, this year I knew of one thing in particular that I wanted to get, and which would not quite qualify as something someone would get me for Christmas or birthday (January 2nd, so I have to be very careful when shopping after Christmas).

Today I purchased only three items, the first was the above-mentioned item, a Black&Decker Pocket Power supply (with both a small inverter in it to power a simple device and a USB slot to plug a USB-charged device into.
As it was only ten dollars, I figure I should buy another one for the classmate I gave my other laptop to so he can use it without a wall outlet for an hour or so.

The other two items I bought today were the Battlefield 1942 collection (a total of two full games and two expansion packs) and a wireless presentation device with Wi-fi detector (it emulates a keyboard for full cross-platform compatibility and has an LED light as well as a red laser pointer. The other amazing thing about this one was the fact that it runs off only one AAA battery!)
(both of the above items were only ten dollars each, with the game collection usually costing about thirty when it first came out, and the second usually going for forty dollars at the regular price, so I'd like to think I'll get my money's worth out of them)
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Ugh, just what are you supposed to do when the houses on your paper route already have papers delivered to them before you get there?
And they're poorly delivered?

That's what happened today.

It doesn't really sound too bad if you consider the fact that it's "just a paper route".
But the important thing is that there are probably around a hundred people who didn't get a paper today, and the way the papers were delivered was completely terrible, which means that they were literally dumped on people's doorsteps (on a windy day, no less), with the flyer that was supposed to be stuffed into the paper dropped on top, and several houses were already delivered two papers, before I even got there (carriers for this paper are only allowed to deliver one paper per house maximum, and secondary suites don't get an extra paper, legal or not).
(carriers are also supposed to make sure that the paper doesn't blow away or get wet after delivery, and I've always tried to do that myself, so finding at least forty houses with badly delivered papers is rather disgusting to me)

However, I do understand how this sort of thing could happen.

For the last year, the paper I work for has started including what they call "top sheets" with each delivery.
The top sheet has a specific format, but is text with no graphics whatsoever, so it's kind of difficult to understand the first few times.

I'll probably try to put a text version of the sheet (in my case, two sheets. There's that many lines) later, so you can see what the problem is.

Eventually (but hopefully soon) I'll figure out a method for converting a top sheet into a more sensibly-formatted map, with information about what has changed (i.e., if a house wants a paper now that didn't want one and vice versa) and who's complained (that also gets put on a topsheet, along with any information about that day's delivery).

With this kind of problem, maybe it'll be enough justification to find a better system (especially as they're trying to hire younger kids as paper carriers).

I just hope my zone supervisor gets back to me soon, though...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Today was an interesting day as far as delivering papers goes.

Because the otherwise next day I'd deliver newspapers on would be Wednesday (a statutory holiday here in Canada), that day I get off and instead get to deliver today's papers before noon tomorrow.
Also, as they'd come at noon today, I've already delivered a little less than half of them today.
(I say half because it was just getting dark when I started and only managed that much before dinner. I started so late because my dad and I had repaired a new cart for me to use instead of my current one, as that one needs new wheels. I think a wheel needs more than half a centimetre of rubber on it to be very effective for moving things around...)

I'd recently purchased an inexpensive decorative red flashing LED light set thinking I'd use it for decorating my room, but then realized that when it's that dark out, I'd need to be able to see the cart on my way back from a house, so I strung them around the top of the cart.
They worked very well!
(I may just pick up the other colours they had when I have time! I'm sure that green and red would work very well together for next year...)

And now for something rather different.
I'd been planning to use Lee Valley's Veneer Business cards as gift tags, and as my parents were going to one of their stores, I'd asked them to pick some up for me to use, along with some other items.

When they'd got home, and we'd finally had a moment that we could talk, they'd handed over everything but the cards, and hedged when I asked about them.
Next opportunity the same thing happened.
Today when I asked, mom almost raged at me about holding my little brother so he didn't cry while she was gone, came back with them, then left leaving me holding Nathan.

Later I found out why.
She'd been wanting to bless me by putting them in my stocking.

Great, now I feel real guilty about it...
Any thoughts on how to feel less guilty about this?

Owies...

Nov. 22nd, 2007 09:35 pm
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I'm really not sure just how much longer I can keep running both paper routes at the same time.

Currently, it takes between four and five hours each of the three days the papers are published, and that's not including the time it takes to load things up or make sure that the bundles are in the carport until I'm ready.
(the person who's currently delivering the papers to me gets a little lazy sometimes and just dumps them in a pile in the driveway instead of in the carport where he's supposed to)

After I'm finished delivering all 223 papers (and sometimes door-hangers or additional flyers to insert), I'm really tired and rather sore (I really ought to see my chiropractor again, but I'm not sure I have the money at the moment).

Much as I appreciate the additional money the second route gives me, I'm not quite sure it's worth it.
I'm not as young as I used to be, and my brother isn't helping anymore (he now has a "real" job at a warehouse), so I'm doing it all myself now.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
I currently deliver a newspaper route in the area around my house.
It's the second route I've ever delivered (and with the same paper), and have been working for this newspaper for about four years, maybe five.

Previously, my brother and I have been working the route(s), but about two months ago he got a job at a warehouse, so now I'm working on my own.
Also, in the past we'd help out our boss by substituting on other routes nearby when a replacement hasn't been found soon enough.

Apparently, the carrier delivering the first route I'd worked has quit and no replacement has been found, so I get to do about 223 houses on my own.
On the first day I start subbing on the other route, the papers don't arrive on time.

At 1:50pm they still haven't shown up yet, and I'm supposed to finish delivering by 6pm and I estimate that it'll take me at least two and a half hours to finish everything.

I should mention that the person who delivers the papers to me from the presses hasn't been very reliable.
Sometimes they haven't been delivered until noon, and their state varies greatly, anywhere from a nice, neat stack in the carport to dumped into more like a "puddle" in the driveway (in the rain on occasion!).

So my first inclination was to assume it was him again.
What a way to welcome me back to the old route...

Finally, at about 4:20pm (not enough time to deliver everything before it got dark) the papers arrived and I managed to deliver about 60 houses out of the 223 before it got too dark for me to feel comfortable (and yes, I did have a flashlight).

Later I found out that it was a problem with the printing press and not the delivery guy's fault (darn!).

Anyway, that was yesterday, I really should go finish things so people don't complain too much...
(I really hope things go smoothly tomorrow, as I have to be somewhere for 5pm for a final practice before Saturday's regional competition!)

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Carl Foxmarten

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