Saturday, May 26, 2007

55 days till Deathly Hallows, Jordin wins AI, union issues, CL sneak peek, missed a signing, I bought a DS, and other stuff

As you can see if you look at the Deathly Hallows/Order of the Phoenix countdown at the bottom of my main blog page (which is courtesy of MuggleNet), there are only 55 days (a little less than 3 months) until Deathly Hallows comes out. I am having trouble waiting that long. I just bought and re-read Order of the Phoenix (one of my 2 favorite Harry Potter books, the other being Prisoner of Azkaban) cause of the upcoming movie release, and that got me excited for the movie, which made me think of book 7, which is also coming oh so soon (about a week after the Order of the Phoenix movie). I have it pre-ordered, as I said before. While I am probably not going to marathon-read it (I don't have the patience), I am going to start reading it ASAP after I get it.

The American Idol finale was this week, split into the usual two nights of performance from the top 2 (Jordin Sparks and my favorite contestant, Blake Lewis) and results. It was hard to get into since I haven't had the opportunity to watch most of the season cause of work, even though we've been DVR'ing it (which my mom says is the only way to watch it, since that way you can fast forward through the zillion commercials they have during that show). The results show was Wednesday, and was 2 hours. Mum had it recording as usual so by the time we got home after she picked me up from work, we were so far behind (we were actually at where she paused it, which was at about 8:30) that we were able to fast forward through most of it. The fact that the results show was two hours long (as the Survivor finale reunion show always is also) is stupid. All anyone cares about is who wins, and announcing the winner takes like 5 seconds. The rest of the show is dedicated to people performing -- mostly celebrities, some performing solo and others with members of the top 12, as well as all of the past American Idol winners except for season 3's winner Fantasia, who was busy in New York acting in The Color Purple. So this meant there was Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard (who looks just as overweight as he did when he was on Idol, based on pics I've seen), Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Hicks. Then Clive Davis, who is the main producer for all the albums done by Idol alums, gave this long Oscars-esque speech about how well the franchise is doing, although he totally ignored Taylor Hicks's success CD-wise (focusing instead on how the first CD by Daughtry, the band led by season 5 fourth-place finisher Chris Daughtry, outsold Taylor Hicks's first CD) and babbled on continuously about Carrie Underwood, who appears to be his favorite Idol winner. Then he gave Carrie a plaque for selling 6,000,000 units of her album Some Hearts (which means it hit Platinum 6 Anyway, as a result of this speech and the ridiculous amount of commercial breaks, the show ran over its time slot, meaning that Mum had to record part of the next program (Fox Evening News) so the part when they announced the winner wouldn't be cut off by our DVR system. Apparently this happened to everyone; I saw something on some other person's blog that said something about the show running over too.

The point is, the winner was finally announced, and it was...JORDIN SPARKS. Not my fave, Blake...wah. It's okay least Sanjaya didn't win (Mum says she doesn't want to go see the AI live tour this summer, like we did last summer, for the sole reason that she doesn't want to see Sanjaya sing), and Blake seemed cool about getting runner-up. He'll record a CD though. I'm sure of it. Seeing CD's by past Idol runners-up, namely Clay Aiken (from Ruben's season) and Katharine McPhee (from last season), convinces me of this. Oh which reminds me. I saw at the Barnes & Noble by me the debut CD for season 5 finalist Paris Bennett (who is about the same age, if not the same age, as Jordin), and by one of the songs on the back was written "featuring Kevin Covais, aka Chicken Little." I found that quite funny. This refers to, for those who didn't watch season 5 of Idol, a bit of an inside joke. In that season, there was a guy in the Top 12 named Kevin Covais, who was 16 and kinda scrawny and short. Also, the Disney/Pixar movie Chicken Little had come out around the same time he was on the show. So the other contestants started calling him "Chicken Little," and the name stuck.

I received a letter a little while back about joining the union, which said I had to pay the money I owe them to join by June 1, or I will be terminated. I didn't have an opportunity to go over to the office to sign the proper paperwork until last Tuesday (the local union office is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays), but the day before at work I was having second thoughts. I have been considering looking for another job, and it doesn't make sense to join the union and then quit soon after. Plus, as I found out later, I won't qualify for benefits (i.e., medical insurance) until my 13th month of employment. So it will be awhile before I can get the benefits that I hoped to get when getting this job. This seems hardly fair...that you have to work there a year before you get benefits. I mean, what person my age expects to work for a grocery store that long? I was looking into other jobs, but now I am running out of time before the deadline, so I am going to go ahead and join the union after all. At least that way I can keep my current job while looking for a new one. I'm going to go this coming Tuesday, which I get off, to sign the paperwork for them to deduct the money I owe for monthly dues out of my paychecks, which seems to be the easiest way of paying them. Since I owe them quite a bit of money up front (initiation fee for one, which is I have no idea what, though probably not the whole $200 or so that they say I owe them), my checks might be a bit skimpy for a few weeks, but I've got quite a bit of money in the bank, so I'm ok.

Yesterday the Barnes & Noble by my work had scheduled a signing with Ben Schoen and Emerson Spartz, as part of the book tour for's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love, and How Will the Adventure Finally End?, to which they contributed along with some other MuggleNet people. I was going to not take a first break on purpose so I could take a 15-minute last break (which I think is how the break system works) and rush over there to get my copy of the book signed, but in the rush to get out the door to catch the regular bus yesterday morning, I forgot my copy of the book. I didn't realize this till I was already near work, and since I take the bus, I couldn't go home then or on my lunch to go get it. I wasn't too disappointed, since I only bought the book cause the MuggleCast people mentioned it so much, and I didn't even agree with everything in it. Plus I had assumed that I would probably be closing by myself and wouldn't have time to get over there anyway, and even if I had time, the line for getting books signed would probably be extremely long, and not worth risking going way over on my break to wait in. As it turned out, I had plenty of time, since our new guy Filiberto (or "Phil" as he likes to be called) was there to close with me, and things always get done faster and earlier when he's there, but with no book to have signed, going over there seemed pointless.

Since I had sprayed the floors with the foam gun (how they clean the floors here, rather than mopping), shortly after coming back from lunch (normally I sweep first, but Phil got ahead of me there and was already sweeping when I came back from lunch), by the time I got the dishes done (the last thing that needed to be done), it was only 7:40, and I was scheduled to be off at 9:00. So I tried to think of things to do. First I cleaned the three white floor drains (two of which are in the back under our prep and dishwashing sinks respectively, and the third of which is in the front in an accessible area under the cake case), a time-killing activity that my coworker Joseph had suggested. This involved taking out the grates and debris-catching trays from the drains, spraying out what was in the drains (which I used the sprayer gun for), and then putting some Block Whitener (a bleach-like cleaner that we use when the white blocks we use for counters get really dirty, hence the also works on walls and on the drains) in them and letting it sit. Then I cleaned the grates, sprayed out the Block Whitener, and put the grates and trays back.

By this point it was 8:00. The only things left to make up on last week's sanitation chart (another time-killing pursuit I've been doing on the nights Phil and I have closed together, namely Monday and yesterday...normally when I'm by myself I don't have time to do that stuff) were "Ceilings, Fans, and Lights," "Proofer Box Filter," and "Freezer Floor." The first two I didn't know how to do (I don't even know where the filter is on the proofer). But the Freezer Floor I knew from working at the other Stater Bros. just means to sweep the floor, which often gets cluttered with dust and bits of ice from the door flaps. Granted, the bakery freezer at the Stater Bros. I'm currently at is about twice the size of the one at Sycamore (probably cause we share it with deli). I decided to do this task, since it would take some time (I was trying to kill time, remember?), and last night was a good night to do it since there weren't a ton of racks and 6-wheelers (6-wheeled carts we use for carrying large amounts of boxes, also called "U-boats" cause of their flat bottoms and U-shaped handles) in the freezer. So I grabbed the communal department jacket (since to go in the freezer for longer than a few seconds without a jacket or sweater is not a good idea, since it gets pretty cold in there), and was delighted to discover that it does in fact zip. Thus insulated, I got a broom and then started pulling all the racks and 6-wheelers out of there. This took some time, since there were quite a few racks and not a lot of room near the freezer to put them, and also I had to move some La Brea trays cause Phil (who had graciously done the La Brea breakout for me at my request) had put some of the La Brea breakout on the rack that the deli uses when they clean their salad bar at night and put the rack in the freezer. Then I finally got to sweeping and a customer came. So I helped him, grabbed a different broom (we have a large, wide broom that works best for sweeping large areas, better than the small broom I was going to use since it's easiest to use the small broom to get the stuff in the dustpan), and went back to work. By the time I'd finished sweeping and gotten the racks back in the freezer, it was 8:40. So I wrote a couple notes (one to Heather asking about an earlier dilemma Joseph and I had had over whether a customer who'd ordered a 1/4 sheet Tres Leche cake got free ice cream with it -- normally when you order a cake that is a 1/4 sheet or bigger, you get a free half gallon of Stater Bros. ice cream with it -- and one to Karen, who was scheduled to bake this morning, explaining about the La Brea racks I'd had to move). After this, I didn't have anything else to do, so I leafed through a book of kits by DecoPac that was on the cake decorator's table in the back (I figured if I was just going to stand around, I better do it in the back, where I wouldn't be seen by customers or any managers passing by--unless the manager in question poked his or her head in the back, which they rarely do--plus I think we have security cameras in the front, and I didn't want to be on camera).

Today I went to the mall, since it was my day off (my first Saturday off in quite a while), and I was bored. (I had planned to go out anyway to see a movie, but nothing I wanted to see was playing -- I don't really feel like seeing the new Shrek and Spiderman movies, and I haven't seen the second Pirates of the Caribbean yet so I don't think I'd understand #3, plus at movies like that it's always nuts on the day after it's released, as I found out when I went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the day after its release). Before going in the actual mall, I went to a nearby Christian bookstore (namely Family Christian, the only real Christian bookstore chain out there), where I got a key chain for new house key (I lost mine--along with my treasured keychain featuring a super-deformed version of Ayeka/Aeka from the anime Tenchi Muyo, which I got from Comics n' Stuff, a store that no longer exists, at least at the mall near me--and Papa got me a new one, which I paid him back for) that is red and looks like a street sign. In white letters it says "Born Again Blvd." I felt this appropriate cause of what "born again" means (as I think of this I can't help but think of the song from Psalty's Kids Praise 10 called "Born Again"), and also cause my real name (which I won't reveal here) means "born again." Once I got in the mall, I wandered around mostly, only stopping in a few stores, as is my usual habit when I go to the mall. I saw EB Games and went in to look at the Nintendo DS games, since I'd been thinking the last few days about getting a DS, with the Code Lyoko video game coming out this weekend for DS. I looked up at the systems. They had some DS Lites for the usual $129.99, some used Lites for $119.99, a lone used regular DS for $99.99, and some "refurbished" DS systems for $99.99. Finally, I made one of my rare impulse decisions (the kind of decision that made me buy Hilary Duff's newest CD, Dignity, which is pretty good actually), and went out to the nearest ATM and took $200 out of my savings account, which I figured was more than enough for a used DS and a couple games. It ended up that the only non-new DS systems they had were the refurbished ones (the boxes above the games are for display only, as most people reading this probably know). The guy assured me that this still meant they were in good quality condition. So I said I'd buy one. The only one they had was in a bright red, but that was ok, since I didn't really care about color anyway, and plus it would match my GBA SP, which is in the slightly less bright red color the Nintendo people call "Flame." So, long story short, buying the system, two games (the Code Lyoko game and another game I'd been wanting to try called Pokémon Ranger), and a $10 1-year warranty that the guy talked me into getting so I could replace my DS if anything happened to it (they always try to talk you into this stuff; I got talked into a 6-month warranty on my used GameCube which did me no good cause I didn't have problems with it until long after my warranty was up), cost $182.36 with tax. I paid the guy the $200 in cash and got change back.

Other than this, my trip to the mall was uneventful. I finally found a plug for my laptop (which I had with me in its new bag -- a lovely laptop bag that I bought at Computer Circulation Center for $35 -- my first purchase with my debit card) on a pillar near the seating area next to the rather out-of-place indoor carousel. I used this opportunity to add more music to my mp3 player, since I'd only had time to add 17 songs before I left home. Then I worked my way back to where I'd come in to get to the small bus station at the mall so I'd get back in time to catch a bus from there to a station closer to my house, where I could catch a bus home. I played a bit of both games on the way home, once I figured out how to get past the save file naming screen for the CL game. I got home around 6:00.

I did not tell my parents that I bought the DS, mainly cause I don't think they'd want me to spend my savings on something like that. Strangely, though, I don't feel bad about it like I did when I bought the webcam, probably cause in that case my mum had specifically forbidden it. I've mentioned to my parents in passing about some of the CD's I've bought lately (in my quest for new music to listen to on my mp3 player, being bored with the music on my computer) and they didn't say anything, so they might not care about the DS, but just to be safe I am not going to say anything unless they see me playing it or something.

One frustration I have as far as the DS goes is that cause it is refurbished, it has some spots on the front where the paint's worn off. I was going to put some of my stickers on there to cover them, but I can't find my stickers. Then I decided it might be a good idea not to put stuff on there till I make sure the system won't have any problems or glitches.

Gah! It's already 10:30. What have I been doing up here? I've been on the computer I guess, playing my DS games when waiting for some program to unfreeze. I'm gonna go and eat some dinner. Tomorrow I don't work till 3:30pm, so I'm gonna go to church in the morning. Then I work Monday too the same shift, and I need to figure out if the buses for Shadowridge will run (since it's a holiday -- Memorial Day -- and so they may not run).

Oh and I saw the CL sneak peek ep, "William Returns." It was, um, interesting. I'm still holding my excitement till season 4 officially starts on June 5th though. Actually, I have two premieres to look forward to next week. The dub of Pokémon Diamond & Pearl debuts June 4, and season 4 of CL debuts June 5. Yay!

Anyway good night.

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