Today is my birthday. Today August 21, 2002, I am turning ## years old. Acutally, I don't like to tell my age. Even though I am not really that old, I feel that it(age) really doesn't mean anything, rather just to see if you can drink or drive or smoke or get into clubs and such. And yes, I am old enough to do those activities so I guess that sets a kind of range on what my age actually is.

I do not really know for sure what I am doing today in order to celebrate. For what I know, two of my friends, Rick and Bryan, are going to pick me up, and we are going to go out to Club Deep out in Miami Beach. But that is just a guess because that is what we did when it was my other friend Joe's birthday and I was giving the impression that I wanted to come here when it was my birthday. Being that the club is in Miami, and I live about some 70 miles away, its not that often that I get to go their. I have been to Cafe Iguana and Baha Beach Club, for those of you who are familiar with the Fort Lauderdale clubs.

What I want for my birthday is a system for my car. I just got a Mitsubishi Montero Sport earlier this month and the speakers are not as good as they should be, or as good as I want them to be. I am a little tight on cash right now, so if someone gets it for me and installs it for me, then I'd be a happy camper. I do have a feeling that I might be getting a watch because one of my friends has been eyeing a mens watch lately, and he doesn't need a watch, so I have a feeling that perhaps that will be a gift to me. Only time will tell.

Happy Birthday me. Happy Birthday Wilt Chamberlain. Happy Birthday Hawaii.

As my tour of duty as a cashier at Oregon Mountain Community nears its end, I feel obligated to record, for posterity, the various thoughts, annoyances, and tidbits of wisdom I have gleaned from this, my first experience in Retail Land.

By all means, dear customer, feel free to clutter the checkout counter with your selections as you continue to shop, rather than using the baskets we have provided you.

I've never seen this behavior in any other store, but for some reason, a good 50% of customers at OMC have this annoying habit of using the checkout counter as their shopping basket. They'll select an item they want, bring it to the counter, leave it there, then continue shopping (and repeat). While there are many signs in our store, none of them recommends doing this. And yet, a large enough number of customers do this, independently of one another, that I think it must be some established practice that I wasn't previously aware of.

It's not that I'm opposed to helping make a customer's shopping experience more convenient, it's just that by piling their junk on our one tiny checkout stand, they make it inconvenient for other customers, who have to somehow fit their own loot on the counter so a cashier can ring it up.

Even worse are the customers who literally shop all day, adding to an ever-growing pile on the counter, right up until closing time. And then, thinking they're being nice by not forcing us to ring up their massive collection of crap after we've just closed, they tell us they'll be back for it tomorrow. So we have to move all this crap behind the counter, somehow manage not to trip over, lose, or break any of it despite the cramped space.

For some reason, some customers think that store employees can read their minds and know when they need help.

OMC is a very casual, laid-back store. It's an outdoor store, selling mostly hiking, backpacking, camping, climbing, and skiing equipment, and the type of people who work there are for the most part very relaxed, happy people. We're not a big chain, we're just one store, so we don't wear goofy little uniforms or nametags. But you can tell we're employees because we stand behind desks and answer phones and occasionally ask people if they need help.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to ask every customer in the store, every few minutes, if they need help. So, while we try to be attentive to the needs of our customers, it is not uncommon for several employees to get into a conversation while a quiet customer stands just out of sight, silently willing an employee to ask her if she needs help.

And of course, as the first person the customer sees on their way in and the last person they see on their way out, I'm the one they seem to view as being somehow in charge (even though I'm at the lowest rung in the ladder), and I'm the one they complain to.

Really, I assure you, dear customers, we want to help. We are happy to help. But we can't read minds. It is our job to help, and we get paid for us, so by all means, interrupt our conversations with each other. We really do understand. But don't stand there quietly for twenty minutes and then bitch at the cashier for the lousy mind-reading abilities of the staff.

Stores like ours are in business to make money. So no, we won't let you return sunglasses you stepped on, or hiking boots you've worn for a year and decided you don't like, or underwear with your poopmarks in the crotch. If we can't resell it, you can't return it.

We really do have one of the most liberal return policies you'll get. We'll take anything back as long as you bought it from us, and it's in good (i.e., resellable) condition, and it isn't underwear that has been worn. This isn't hard to grasp.

Now, when you try to return a pair of worn-out, muddy hiking boots that we don't even stock (and never have), that you claim to have bought from us a year ago, don't get mad when we tell you we can't help you. Okay?

If you have a shopping addiction and shouldn't be buying things, don't come into our store. And for godssake, if you do, don't tell us about your shopping addiction while having us demonstrate every pair of sunglasses for you while you try to stuff one more pair into your overflowing shopping basket.

I couldn't help laughing when a woman babbled endlessly about her problem with shopping addiction, all while handing me her credit card and consenting to having me charge it for several hundred dollars worth of sunglasses and accessories. What did she expect me to do for her? Refuse to take her money? That's not my job.

Do not try to sell insurance to the cashiers. Seriously. We don't like that.

A large piggish oaf of a woman recently waddled into the store, browsed around for twenty minutes, and then plodded up to the counter and started making idle conversation with me. She wasn't buying anything, and for all I could discern, she was just lonely and in need of attention (we get people like that a lot, sadly).

After a few minutes of conversation, during which she asked me various personal questions like where I live and how old I am, she asked if we (the store) were happy with our insurance policy. Not knowing a damn thing about the store's insurance policy, I said I hadn't a clue. She then proceeded to try to convince me to buy insurance on the store's behalf, despite my attempts to explain to her that I was merely a cashier, with absolutely no ability to do any of the things she wanted me to do.

In the process of trying to sell me this insurance, she repeatedly got in the way of customers I was trying to help, and interrupted me several times while I was speaking to another customer. Finally, I asked her to stop bothering me so I could do my job, and her face twisted up as if I had hit her, her eyes got all tear, and she screamed, "Well excuse me for trying to do my job!"

Fucking fatass.

Our store hours are posted right there on the door: 10am to 7pm weekdays, 10am to 6pm Saturdays, and 12pm to 5pm Sundays.

We know we're not open from dawn until midnight like many of your favorite discount department stores. We can't afford to be. And we really, really don't appreciate it when you come bounding in at 7:02 as we're on our way to lock the doors, and then, when we politely tell you that we're closed, you loudly yell, "What?!? You close at seven? Well FUCK THAT!". We tried being polite, despite your obvious inability to read a large sign with red letters on a white background. This doesn't give you the right to scream obscenities at us.

In closing...

I've enjoyed working at OMC. My previous jobs were all blue-collar desk jobs, and having to take a retail job for a while has given me a better understanding of just how much work retail employees do, and what a thankless job many of them have. And surprisingly, though it sounds otherwise, the majority of the customers I encountered really were very nice.

Nothing like starting the day off by finding that you need to reinstall Windows again. I have Linux to thank for this. You see, the particular distribution I was using was in need of an upgrade. So, being the mindful user, I issued the command apt-get upgrade. Bad move on my part, as it overwrote the MBR on my drive, and the boot loader did not detect my Windows partition. Try as I might, I couldn't get it back to Windows.

So now I sit here at work, in front of my WinNT 4.0 workstation and wonder what lies ahead for the rest of the day. Hopefully a little better luck.

Here's a nice brain dump of the day:

There's this one statement in my mind that has made me think and wonder about what the true meaning could be about:

"I ponder the trappings of true love."

It is this exact statement that leads me to believe that my assumptions are indeed fact.
True love is not suppose to be focussed on just one person. By saying that it's a trap, she is proclaiming that her thoughts are on herself and not for the other person, nevermind the couple itself. And having lived together, it only brought out that fatal flaw more apparently.

True love is suppose to be unconditional and selfless. It wouldn't have matter if I had grown up myself because she would not have had the capacity to understand and possess such beliefs. Obviously, a person like that needed their own ways to grow and develop into a more mature person. But it cannot happen without learning from the past - not living it.

The next statement that baffles me as I came across it last night:

"Forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past."

....wait a minute...I just got it. :)

shackled to a heart that wants to settle, and then runs away..

today is my father's birthday. all things considered, i will take today simply to be thankful that he was strong enough. it seems it was only days ago.. and i am always unsettled-nervous, hoping it is all okay. i am never ready.

things are quite strange lately. i am rarely lonely, often alone. i am confused and mostly happy, except when i am not. i love you, although i am frequently questioning how much i love the way life is unfolding.

lately you have me so content to simply exist. it has been a while. thank you.

i am watching the cd spin in my head around and around, picturing the music all dizzy and perfect. there is something in his words, in the way that he sings them. i can hardly think of listening to much else the last few days. so if she goes away, well, it's alright and i'm okay.

i am torn and i am afraid and nothing seems to make sense but, everything is so insanely beautiful.
Hands shaking, I drove to the pharmacy, knowing exactly what to purchase. You see, I've done this before. Three years ago, in fact, I went through almost the exact same experience.

It's dangerous driving when reliving an experience so powerful and so wonderful and so totally frightening. Emotional deja vu is a powerful thing; you lose sight of the present and feel all the power of emotions rising from your heart and spleen and pelvis as a rush to your head. It's overwhelming and confusing.

Getting home, I ran up the stairs, two at a time. I grabbed the handrail with my left hand, lunging desparately as though clinging for my life, so as not to fall back down. I couldn't get up the stairs fast enough, yet had to wait patiently as she unwrapped the package and read the instructions. The second it took to open the two-fold sheet to find the directions written in french seemed like an eternity. I can still feel my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest.

We didn't have to wait long; the result, like three years ago, was far quicker than written on the box. So fast, that it hammers home the message with a brutal, yet comforting certainty:

We're going to have another child.

Thank god!

Majette to 4th district: "I will not embarass you."

The most brilliant campaign slogan anyone could possibly hope to have in a general election against what will most likely be a shadow of a Republican opponent. As a Republican living in the fourth district I am overjoyed to find that McKinney will no longer be representing me in congress. I use to like McKinney despite my being a Republican, but as election day drew closer and closer, it really became impossible to vote for her unless you happened to hate Jews.

The night before the election I got a nice message on my phone machine telling me that it was illegal to try and vote in the Democratic primary without the proper documentation, and that the agents of the state would be watching for me! (Documentation required: Drivers License, agents of the state: Elderly.) So, obviously, as the (failed) intimidation requested, I didn't try to vote in the primary without the proper documentation.

In addition to the message, Cynthia McKinney father decided to complain about how Denise Majette was bought out by, who else? Jewish! Louis Farra-wrath-of-khan was also out there to rally the Islamic vote, which backfired and made the Jewish vote really motivated to vote for Majette.

Simply, McKinney got really, really, really scary!

People are making a big deal about the crossover vote from Republicans who voted in the Democratic primary, but I think they are mistaken. I admit that there were exactly zero people voting in the Republican booths while I was at the polling place, but i've never seen very many Republians in the fourth district, in fact, i'm the only one I know of. There isn't actually any registration to keep track of who is a republican and who isn't, we have open primaries. This probably made it appear as if a lot of the democratic crossover vote in the 2000 election cycle for John McCain were really normal Republican votes, creating an illusion of crossover. (Of course, there were very few democrats to vote for in the 2000 primary unless you happened to know one. The GOP vote for president was more important. By the same token, there weren't any races to vote for in the Republican primary this time any voter could name off the top of his or her head, except maybe the Governor's race, but Georgia hasn't had a Republican governor since reconstruction.)

As is always the case in a Georgia election, voters placed their chips where they cared to put them, and if you have to vote democratic to elect a Republican just because voting D is often a force of habit here on state levels, thats just what we do.
Chasing the siren song - Day 2

The morning was an exercise of surviving unconventional boredom - being show a new mall while it's opening for the day. Okay, you can see the stores open, food court restaurants preparing food, and a cart featuring board games. If I had someone who plays Mage Knight with me, I can learn a few things about them Swordmistresses.

My throat is being thoroughly roughed up since days ago - I feel like crap is going to stink up my breath. I've gotta get cough syrup before I go.

The photo store in Chicago has a new but re-marketed 300mm zoom lens for $219. I have no choice but buy it on Saturday.

Dinner was great - I had lots of raw oysters! Another friend of the family, one of the owners of a Thai restaurant paid for everything. I usually eat up to five oysters (because I can only afford that many), but 25!? I'm supposed to save myself for Mary Cleere Haran!

All God's Children

I have five children, and three wives. If I lived in Utah I would be behind the social power curve. But I live in Dallas, where I seem to be status quo. Not all children come from the same mothers. And some of my wives decided to place an "ex" before their status. So what does that tell me....I only date crazy women.

Now my children, they all have the same father. Being the dominant male, as I am told I am, then I should have the dominant genes. Or atleast my limited lummox mentality tells me so. Ok, that and all my wives expressing the same when my children do something they don't approve...."Just like their father"..or "Go take care of your child" are my fatherly mantras. The most popular one I am told is "They are that way because of your genetics. You act the same way, I just can't spank you!" How I wish that weren't so.

I can handle my children running around and thinking that everything is made of Leggos, just pull on it or hit it hard enough. And the fact that they were told not to do something less than a minute ago and yet they are doing it now doesn't bother me (ok, so when I am trying to use the restroom and one of my two daughters wants to open the door for a philosophical talk on the location of the Shrek tape does get tiresome). But all in all, they do behave as I do. And yes, I do get an extra special warmth inside when I get calls from my first wife saying my two sons are driving her insane.

So I sit and admire my children, but condemn their bloodline. For their father is a cruel and mean bastard. My oldest son was born with a heart defect that required surgery at one week of age. Today, he is expected to die when he hits puberty. Don't ask me why, I don't understand what the doctors are saying when their lips are moving. Child number three died instead of being born. His sister lived, but is fighting Cancer now and slowly dying inside.

Now my current, and God I hope last, wife wants us to have a third child. So basically she wants me to bring happiness into the world to gamble on what cruel and untimely death I can bring upon it without even knowing it. Not a happy way to look at the world, but a truth none the less.

Everyday, we (the united population of Earth) pollute and pervert our planet and society to a point that I find myself wondering if the luckiest child of mine will turn out to be my third one. And I am the leader of this perversion, for I have child with Cancer and I still smoke. That is true hypocricy - Save my daughter while I kill myself.

Do I want another child?...Yes.

Do I want them to suffer?..No.

Well, I agreed to the effort, we are going to try for another child. Now I know how God felt when he decided to create my life.

Welcome to another issue of Life in the Swedish Army, the weekly dump of entries from my diary, being written as I go through national service in the armed forces of Sweden. See this node if this is the first of the LitSA nodes you've seen. It contains some background info which will be expanded later when I get to writing a proper LitSA metanode.

As some may have noticed, I didn't post anything last week, so today's posting covers that week as well as the current one. The reason I didn't post anything last week was that I simply did not get the weekend off, as I have become accustomed to. Actually, I didn't get the weekend off this week either, but I got monday and tuesday off, and so, problem solved.

13th of August, 2002 - 15:48
Preparations for the royal guard duties ahead are continuing. As a welcome change we did not do any drills today, however, for the whole company drove down (in buses) to Almnäs Garnison (home of SWEDINT) to get our M95 uniforms, i e the parade uniforms we will be wearing while guarding the castle(s). We also got shiny bayonets for our rifles. I got to drive one of the buses we used to transport ourseleves, a diesel-powered Ford Transit featuring AC, a nice stereo system, but the acceleration capabilities of a stomped snail. Despite this, our little caravan was able to reach some rather nice speeds on the freeway. What cop would dare pull over a military vehicle?

15th of August, 2002 - 09:36
Not good. After a rather uneventful morning, we've been ordered to sit and wait outside the barracks while a squad of policemen and their drug-sniffing dogs sweep the building for any illegalities. Apparently, someone has left an anonymous note accordning to which someone has been hiding pot in his locker. It better not be anyone I know... All hell is likely to break loose if they actually find something.

15th of August, 2002 - 22:25
Evening. The drug sweep this morning ended right before lunch - in other words, we had to sit on our asses and wait for about three hours. Luckily, the police didn't find anything illegal. The afternoon was spent on more drills and parade exercises, and because the morning up until lunch happened as it did, the exercises continued until 2130 hours. This was followed by polishing up our personal equipment and other similarly boring stuff. Fortunately, some of us (including myself) got the evening off (by virtue of not needing the extra exercise), though we didn't get a lot of extra rest because of this fact.

Note: Our company guarded the castles in Stockholm and Drottningholm on two occasions: August 17-18 and 21-24. Due to the long shifts and sleep depravation, I got very little written during these days. Sorry about that.

21st of August, 2002 - 18:40
Wow. Long time, nothing written, but these have been busy days with very little time to spare. The third day of guard duty has begun, (the first two were saturday and sunday, last week) and I am here in bed, resting while I wait for my shift to begin. Being a telephone post, I have a wonderful eight hours of work ahead of me, starting at 2230 and ending at 0630 hours. No breaks allowed, except for emergency toilet visits. The job consists of watching various security monitors, answering the phone(s) when they ring, and watching TV when there's nothing else to do. I have a nice big Philips 28-inch all to myself - very nice.

I am expecting this week to be somewhat more eventful than last; partly because this is an "ordinary" week, so journalists and such (who like stalking the royal family) will be working. This means more to do for us, as we are to deal (in a friendly but firm manner) with anyone who looks like they may be up to something unsavory. We don't have quite the same level of paparazzi activity as the UK though, even though our princesses are way cuter (personal opinion). Another reason while there may be some extra action this week is that the guys over at K1 - the King's own little army, so to speak - are leaving the service (to be replaced by younger talents) this week. Having spent a LOT of time guarding the various castles, it is to be expected that they pay us a visit and try to have a bit of fun by messing around with us. I am looking forward to it.

Note: I didn't write anything else that week, so I'll try and sum up what happened as far as I remember it: The K1 people did visit, but they went to Stockholm rather than Drottningholm, so me and my mates who were guarding the "wrong" castle weren't subjected to their pranks (which included soaping a fountain, heh). Apart from that, nothing much happened - apart from the last shift I did, where I got the massive honour of watching Trauma - Life in the E.R. (on Discovery) with the crown princess) for about 15 minutes while we waited for her bodyguards to come pick her up. A very pleasant experience indeed, and a very nice conversation (the details of which I am not at liberty to reveal or discuss), too.

That's all for these two weeks. Sorry I didn't get more written, but like I said, I was kind of short on time. By the way, my platoon now has a homepage (made by me) where you will eventually be able to watch some photos of our activites. The site is in Swedish and is located at http://lednplut.tk. There isn't much there at the moment (no photos yet) but I'll let you know how to get to them when some are published.

One last thing: After my last LitSA write-up, where I briefly mentioned a feedback exercise we did, people have msg'ed me asking what kind of feedback I got (or, as one noder put it, what "insults were hurled" at me). Let me clarify what the feedback exercise was about: NOT insulting each other, but delivering constructive criticism in a friendly manner. This worked very well in my group, though I expect other groups may have had more problems. The specific criticism I got was mainly that I can be a bit egoistical (selfish) at times, which is considered by most people to be a bad thing.

That's all, folks!

<-- day 50-56 | day 71-84 -->

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