Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas, Amazon, Narnia

Amazon wish lists are the awesome.

Make one, send it to your family when they ask what you want for christmas or your birthday, and you will probably end up getting some of the things on your list.

Of the things I had on my list, I received the following:
March of the Penguins DVD
DEWALT 18V Cordless Drill
Apple iPod USB Power Adapter
DigiTech RP50 Modeling Guitar Processor
The Big Lebowski DVD
Vieuphoria Live (a collection of Smashing Pumpkins live performances)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (the book)
Smashing Pumpkins - Greatest Hits Video Collection DVD

That is really a pretty good haul considering past Chirstmas's. It is really nicer to get stuff you want than to get stuff that is nice but that you don't really want.

In other Christmas news...

At 4:30 mass on Christmas Eve, the pastor gave a semon that basically pimped The Chronicals of Narnia, the movie currently in theaters. He said that it was the basic christ story, with Aslan as Jesus and the lion sacraficing himself to save everyone and all that. While I dont care much that he made the parallel, especially to all the little kids in attendence at mass, I do care that it was probably beacuse the church received the movie studio's press packet. Genious...really...some underpaid movie studio exec got a big bonus for coming up with that one...

Friday, December 23, 2005

New office

I have to say something about moving into the new office.

Lots of us are excited to be moving into a 'real' office. Others are glad to be closer to mass transit (my window looks down on part of the loop and front door of the building is about 200 feet away from a stop). Some are yearning for a door that they can close to block out everyone else and maybe actually get some work done and some for the variety of lunch choices which will be available. A few are lazy and dread having to go to an office more than 20 feet from where they live.

I am hoping the move to the new office will do the following:
1) improve employee output. Currently there is much distraction caused by close proximity of everyone to each other, also the breakroom is very near to where 2 people work, and if you go to get coffee or something, you often feel compelled to talk with them. Also - some people are getting private offices which should lead to those people working with their door closed more often and getting more things done. I know that I can get more done between 5pm and 6pm, after everyone leaves, than I can between 3pm and 4pm.

2) improve office decorum. Currently some staff members are pre-occupied with dick and fart jokes. There is always a time and a place for that stuff, but as our company grows we need to focus a little more on business and a little less of fucking around. We are at a critical juncture . If lots of things don't all start moving in the same direction, shit could start to hit the fan. There is also something to be said for going to work at a real office. People should generally feel that they are at work; and while at work they should be doing work. Current attitudes are more on the play side than the work side, though most people get their work done. Eliminating the feeling that people are not 'really' at 'work' should help this. The goal should be for everyone to work hard, but also play hard. Make going to work a good experience, yet getting the most productivity out of everyone. If we keep this goal in mind, the new office will not seem as crappy a place to work as people might think.

3) get us out of the ghetto. Simply stated the neighborhood of the current office is shitty and most of the time I dislike going to and from work. Plus there are fewer and fewer places to eat or get coffee or whatever.

4) improve customer and vendor relationships. Being in the loop should lead to better business relationships with vendors and customers who now know we are serious and successful. It has been said that within the first 2-3 months or so we will be having a 'lot' of vendors and other people coming to visit us. This will be good but also probably waste a lot of time.

5)Provide better working space. The new office has 2 conference rooms, wherein we can have good meetings with good numbers of people. The senior offices are large enough to have meetings of 3-5 people and those meetings will no longer bother the people working nearby. Even the junior offices are big enough to have a meeting of 2-3 people. The breakroom is closed off and away from the work area. There is a reception area. There is a storage area. All of these things were generally combined into one giant area in the current office.

All of the above being said, when I was going in to college and when I was in college, I always said that I didn't want to have a job where I work in an office all day doing the same thing over and over and over. That is why I became a theatre major. It was a chance to be doing something different all the time. When I was about to graduate I realized that the job opportunities in theatre involved a lot of non-steady work or long night/weekend hours - so I went for something that was more secure, more 9-5 and less corporate. The current job is getting more and more like what I didn't want to be doing each day. I do have responsibilities and experience that I probably would not have had studying for an office job, but they come at the cost of being overall less fulfilled, tired and frustrated a lot.

Conslusion? New office will be good for the company in general. Hopefully it will lead to good things and a change for the better for the company. If in 12 months from now, everything is still in basically the same state, just in a different location, then it might be time to move on or start changing things myself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

flickr

Tried flicker for the first time last night....man is it slow at 11pm on a Monday. I mean SLOOOOOOWWWW. This morning, totally lighting fast. And the limit is somewhat tough to deal with...20mb a month? With bandwidth costs being what I know them to be, especially pull bandwidth like that, you would think that they would want to increase their pull as much as possible. I would really like to see flickr's bandwidth graphs.

Friday, November 18, 2005

thingy overlords...

from slashdot article talking about IPv6 and how with 6 billion people and billions and billions of personal devices, IPv4 is just not able to cover everyone.


I for one welcome our new.... thingy overlords...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

self heating coffee

Found this in the bargin basket at Jewel for $.50 - it looked interesting and a bargin at 50 cents so I got it. Only reason i can figure is that it had a small dent at he bottom corner of the can. Also maybe it was simply older than the rest of the cans they had on the shelf (by 30 days or so).

Anyway - the coffee tastes ok, about as good as any starbucks coffee i have ever had or any gas station latte. Regular price off the shelf $3.49 so again about as much as it would cost at starbucks. Cheaper in bulk I would imagine as they do sell it on their webiste (albiet some generic variety). Heated to full temperature in about 8 minutes (top end of stated range) but was totally drinkable immediately upon opening.

The container is made by Ontech. Apparently they have a shit load of $$ and time spent in this thing. It really seams like a simple device. Some quicklime and some water are all that make the heating reaction, i guess it took them time to design just the right shape container, amount of chemical, manufacturing technique, etc... The technology itself is not really new, but Ontech's design is the true marketable feature. Totally self contained self heating beverage that doesn't need refrigeration. I think if the price comes down a little, or they do a little better job of marketing, this device will really take off.

A nice review and disection of the thing here

Monday, November 07, 2005

the times, they have changed

from jasonmulgrew.com
"When my dad was 26, he had been working full-time for eight years, had a two year old son, and a wife of three years. I’m 26, and I’m spending my Sunday afternoon hungover in a cell phone store trying to customize my number around vulgarities so that I can buy a phone that represents 5% of the cost of my dad’s first home. God bless America"

It is totally absurd what I will spend my money on. I bought a used Ipod mini a few weeks ago from a guy I work with. I spent more on this than I normally spend on gifts for my wife for her birthday or Christmas (perhaps I will have to start buying nicer gifts).

I am thinking about spending around 200k for a condo sometime in the next year. This is also totally absurd. I am fairly certain that this is approximatly 160% of the value of my parents current home and at least 50k more than my parents last home which was sold in 1994. Granted my parents live out in BFE and I live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country (at least Im not in NYC). I have no idea how I can afford this, or why it is even possible. I take a quick look at the numbers, at what is available, and what I think i will want etc... and this is probably what will end up happening.

But I still don't give money to the bums on the street, which, on average, I run into about once a week (I dont walk around a lot). I figure I give money to charities from time to time, and I am forced to give to many government sponsored programs, through my taxes, of which most of them could be taking advantage. I know if I ever ended up on the street I would do everything I could to keep from having to beg people for money including looking for every government hand-out available. Perhaps that I why I am not out on the street.

Monday, October 31, 2005

being serious for once - a tribute of sorts

ive never been good at expressing emotion, deep emotion that is. I express outward displeasurement all the time and occassionally something joyful will grace past my lips. Generally sadness, disapointment, other of the darker emotions typically get burried deep down and only bear themselves when they absolutely must.

grandpa died on saturday. after a long bout with emphasema. Not necessarily a painful way to go, but oxygen is esentially the most basic thing you need in life, to keep living, to keep breathing. He couldnt get any so he stopped trying. At least he was at home, with grandma, and others perhaps. I was not there, I am not going either. Mom and Dad will go and represent for us, show, emotion, for us. I will stay here and keep on what I am doing, keep on with my life, while remembering his.

After I heard I didnt know what to think, what I should be thinking. I knew it was coming, that it would come eventually, soon perhaps, and then it did come. So what was I suppose to think, when i knew it was to be at any time? I remembered. I will try to always remember, though we were not close, in spirit or distance, we did have some kind of bond, through blood, through family.

We walked out by the lake, in the city by the lake, and sat and looked east. We were not looking at anything, but everything. We sat and looked to the east and remembered...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Update to ball lickers

In the last year or so, since the last time I checked at least, there have been an additional 200 references to the phrase "They are the ones who are the ball lickers" listed at google.

teh intarweb r0x0r

(p.s. there are currently no google results for "teh intarweb r0x0r", maybe there will be one now. check back in 1 year for results)

I got blog spammed.

I dont think this makes me famous or anything but I was spammed in the comments section of several of my posts. Matthew Arata lives here got 3 comments for different sites that looked like either attempts to drive traffic to an adwords campaign or some other weird thing. I think probably more for adwords in an effort to increase page rank or something. I hope that it doesnt continue as I would really like to keep the coments section alive to see if anyone actually comes and reads this.

Job interview

No I did not go to a job interview, I was to be the interviewer. We at my work are looking for a general office assistant / billing representative / etc... So I posted on craigslist. Easy enough right? We get back a bunch of resumes and I weed them down to a few. At the top of my list are 2 women who look fairly qualified to do the job. After emailing both of them with a few "can you write a decent email back to me quickly" questions and discovering that at lease one of them did similar work at her last job I proceed to give them both a call.

I get through to one of them and she seems good on the phone, answers my questions easily, dosent sound like a total moron, which basically qualifies her to come to the office. Lets call her Mandy (not real name like it even matters) but that sounds like a good name. I tell Mandy to come to the office the next day, on Friday morning at 9:30 AM. This would give my bosses both the chance to be available to talk with her as one was going out of town for a few days and the other was tied up for the afternoon. She agrees to come for the interview. I clean up the office a little so we have a chance in hell of her actually wanting to work for us.

Next morning rolls around, 930 rolls around and no Mandy. 945, 10, 10:15...no show. No call, no email, nothing. I think that well, maybe something happened, she got lost, car trouble, didnt have the phone number, whatever. So I email her a few hours later to see if anything was wrong, why did she miss the interview etc.... I didnt hear anything for the rest of the day. I thought it was kinda strange, but things do happen.

Over the weekend I get an email back saying yes there was an emergency. She said she did call but I didnt answer and she felt weird leaving a message (I call bullshit here as I was at my desk most of the time and I see on my phone if I miss a call) but whatever. I decide to give her another chance and tell her by email to give me a call on Monday morning if she was still interested in the position.

Monday rolls around and Mandy calls. She said again that she did have an emergency that she had to take care of. I asked her again if she was sill interested in coming to the office for an interview. She said yes she was. I checked with one of the bosses for his availability and the time was set for Tuesday morning again at 930.

Well this morning comes and goes. Again, no Mandy, no call, no email. Nothing. WHO DOES THAT?

Really. Who sets up an interview, twice, and blows it off, twice? Who takes the time to call and fain interest only to flake out the next day. Did it waste my time? No, not really. I worked on other stuff when she would have been there. But still, at least have the courtesy to call and say she was no longer interested, didnt feel like coming downtown from wherever buttfuck she lives, whatever. Just call and lie to me or something. Do people do this a lot? Do people set up interviews and then blow them off all the time? Maybe she found a different job in the time between our call on Monday morning and Tuesday morning and was so excited that she didnt remember to cancel with me. Even if she didnt, that would have been an acceptable lie to tell me, that she had accepted a position elsewhere and thus didnt need to meet with me.

I dont get it. If someone could explain it to me I will give them a dollar.

I guess I get to go back to the pile of resumes to see if I can find some more people to call.

Monday, October 24, 2005

looking for zelda tab

I very much like the version of the Zelda theme song as recorded by the Minibosses. I believer it is 2-part guitar plus some simple bass line underneath. I would like to learn how to play this ont he guitar, except it is very difficult if not impossible to find this tab. If anyone comes accross the tab for this song please let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

This guy is not me. Matthew Arata lives in Chicago.

A google search of the term "Matthew Arata" in quotes produces 204 results. On the initial page of results, 9 out of 10 are directly related to my personal presence on the internet, mostly related to PR that my company puts out with my name on it, some theater stuff and my personal pages.

HOWEVER

The first result is NOT ME!! - som guy in Oregon who is building a plan like 10 years ago. So This is my little attempt to stear another related link to myself boosting my ranking.

Monday, October 10, 2005

ebay rulz and sucks

People will buy just about anything on ebay. I have sold several different items on ebay in the past that I never thought anyone would actually buy, but since I was listing other more easily sold items I thought why not put this crap up for sale as well. I already had the camera out etc... Some of these items include:

-a set of 2 plastic wall mountable coat hooks . Retail value $3-4 for the set i think. Someone bought them for $1-2 plue $6 or $7 for shipping. Since I had used these coat hooks for a while I feel that the investment was profitable, and the person whol bought them either lived a million miles away from a wal-mart or forgot that they had to pay for shipping as well, but went through with the transaction anyway due to the nature of ebay.

-a crappy black cowboy-esq hat - which was in terrible shape, but i suppose someone could have taken it to a Milliner (someone who makes or repairs hats) and had it reshapped. Though for that much money I think they could have just purchased a new hat. Similar to the item above.

So why do people find it necessary to purchase things on ebay that cost more than they would if they were to go to a local store and purchase the same item? It's not like these items I sell are rare or otherwise hard to find.

Though I guess I am slightly dumb for selling some of this stuff, like this one:

v-tech 900mhz cordless phone. (the phone kinda works, but the battery sucks.) I sold it as is, what you see is what you get and made no guarantee of workability. It sold for 99 cents. The final transaction broke out like this:
sale price .99. Guy paid $8.13 including estimated shipping (for a 99 cent transaction mind you). Shipping actually cost $7.19 leaving 94 cents. I had to pay ebay 60 cents to list the item leaving 34 cents. Then paypal took their fee of 54 cents leaving me 20 cents in the hole. (i also used about 50 cents worth of bubblewrap from my work). So if I had to buy the bubble wrap, I would have been more than $1 in the hole for SELLING something on ebay. Ebay made money, paypal made money and UPS made money. The guy got an $8 shitty phone and I got nothing... well nothing except I dont have an extra shitty phone sitting around in my apartment, and I didnt have to send it to the landfill.

The internet economy at work I guess. Oh and I am sure blogger is somehow making money off me right now as I type this post...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

more google ranking work

So someone named Alyssa Weichel runs some weird web ring - though I cannot go into further details without screwing up the point of this post. This is not the Alyssa Weichel I know.

The Alyssa Weichel I know is now known as Alyssa Arata (thanks to me.)

Alyssa did a nice art project about the chief while she was in college at the University of Illinois. It stirred up a small amount of controversy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rap battle

If have often wondered what I would do if I was forced to compete in a freestyle rap battle. Would I survive? How Would I prepare? Would I have to drive to Detroit? Woud Mekhi Pfeiffer be there? Well now there is a guide. And for all of you haters out there that say white guys can't rap - here is the famous Hasidic Reggae Rapper - Matisyahu

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ass wiping and ketchup packets

I injured my right hand a few weeks ago while I was on my honeymoon (yes I got married, no I did not blog about the process, but perhaps I should have). So the injury mainly affects my right thumb somewhere between or involving the 2nd and 3rd knuckles. I have discovered that this injury is sometimes called the skiers thumb or skiers injury because if you take a bad fall while holding your poles, sometimes the pole bends your thumb back to far. Sometimes football players get this too. Bending my thumb back too far is basically what happened.

If affects the following:
-my ability to make a firm handshake
-my ability to turn a doorknob
-my ability to wipe my ass in my own particular efficient way

This last ability concerns me the most. I am right handed and naturally wipe my ass with my right hand. Well I discovered that I use my opposable thumb fairly directly when performing the wiping action. I wipe in a downward "posterior towards anterior" direction. This puts pressure on my thumb in just such a way to aggrevate the injury. Before you ask - no I do not wipe my ass directly with my thumb nor do I stick my thumb up my ass, and no I do not get shit on my balls. The other affected abilities do not concern me much as I can use my left hand to turn doorknobs if i remember, and I don't shake hands with people on a regular basis. Wiping, however, is a 1-2 (or more) times daily occurance. Yes I have tried to wipe in other directions or with more or less force, but honestly the way I perform the task is fairly efficient for me and is being degraded by my thumb injury.

Heal faster thumb.

---

My daily lunch conversations at work have started to shift away from work to other less meaningful subjects. Today I brought up the need for larger ketchup packets. If given the chance, I will empty 5-8 seperate ketchup packets in order to efficiently dip my fries in just the right amount of ketchup. I thought why not make larger packets? Perhaps a packet 2-3 times the size of the current standard.

From a manufacturing standpoint I see the following:
Pros:
expanded product line
possible reduced material cost per ounce of ketchup
Less complaints from people like me

Cons:
Oppourtunity cost of making the different sized packets
Getting distributors and end users to switch or start using the larger size

From a distributor standpoint:
Pros:
Less wasted unused packets
less people asking for more ketchup, as they were able to squeez more ketchup out of the larger packet

Cons:
Getting people to adjust to the new size packets

I believe that you would receive about the same amount of ketchup in the standard "fist of ketchup packets" you normally get at a fast food place. Tthere would be simply fewer packets. The end consumer would not be affected and would appreciate openeing fewer packets to dispense the same amount of ketchup. Those that only want one packet of ketchup would simply throw the excess away, but who really uses only one packet anyway?

So as an open request to ketchup packet manufacturers of the world - please make larger ketchup packets.

No I don't care about mustard packets - one is just fine for my hot dog at the ball game.