Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vegas, marketing, and Dunder Mifflin

This week has been pretty busy. I meant to write different blog posts covering a variety of topics, but that never happened and, truth be told, it probably never will. So, I've decided to break down this last week by each day:
  • Sunday: went to church, cleaned up/straightened my room a bit, went to ward prayer, finally went to Gina and Rocio's place for games. After a night of losing at various games, I went home and went to bed.



  • Monday: woke up at about 8am, showered, then got into a car and headed down to Vegas. There was much singing along with songs on the road trip - I learned my brother doesn't know when to sing "whoa-oh" during Offspring's The Kids Aren't Alright, and that Weezer's Buddy Holly can basically be sung in any key. Upon arriving in Vegas, we went to the National Association of Broadcasters convention, which is apparently one of the biggest annual conventions in Vegas. While there, Mark and I realized we didn't know jack about the cameras or the subject matter, so we BSed our way through as many booths as we could while Jeff actually did stuff that mattered. We also realized that we were in Las Vegas, and as such we should probably be gambling, so we placed bets on when we'd finally get out of the convention. (It's important to note we weren't really bored nor upset we were there; we just didn't know enough about professional level audio/visual equipment to get or contribute anything.) After discussing the details of the bet - that neither of us could persuade Jeff to stay or leave and we had to be cooperative with whatever he suggested (we were there for this purpose, so we wanted Jeff to get what he could out of it), we agreed that if we got to the car within 45 minutes I won, and after 45 minutes Mark won; we made the bet at 4:42pm; I started my stop watch at 4:45pm with Mark's permission. At precisely 5:28pm we entered the car. (The observant reader will notice that while technically it had been over 45 minutes since the bet was initially made and as such Mark was technically the winner, we had both agreed to that we could just start it at 4:45 and make 5:30 the cutoff, since it was an easier time to work with than 5:27.)

    I won $3.

    We then proceeded to the hotel - the Venetian, to be exact. I had read
    in an issue of my beloved Men's Health that most hotels are only booked about 60% full on average, and since it costs about the same to clean as a suite as it does a regular room, many hotels will allow you to upgrade at check in for cheaper than a suite would normally cost. We inquired about this and found we could be upgraded to a suite for $100 more. Split three ways, we went for it.

    It was worth it. I won't go into detail because my brother has already done so (which can be read abou
    t here), I will say that the room had two queen size beds, three LCD tvs (including one in the bathroom), a bathroom larger than my bedroom and square footage larger than our current house.

    After getting over the shock that we were staying in a suite in a 5 diamond hotel in Vegas, we went out on the town. We got food at a nice restaurant in the lower floors, walked around for a bit, got some chocolate cake-thinger that Jeff adored, and then went back to the Venetian. Jeff said he was tired and went back to the hotel; Mark and I went to the Tao lounge (I was saddened to learn that the nightclub is only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). It was fantastic. A nice atmosphere, comfortable seats - a great way to unwind after a day in Vegas. We had some good conversations and after about an hour decided to head back t
    o the room.

    Back in the room, I showered, took a bath, and went to bed.

    My brother still steals the sheets at night.
  • Tuesday: woke up early, went for a swim in one of the four swimming pools at the Venetian (I actually swam in the 'pool garden' on the 10th floor; it resembles what I imagine the Godfather had in his backyard), went to In-n'-Out Burger (3x3 Animal Style!), then drove home.

    During the 6 hour car ride, the exterior t
    emperature dropped 10F each hour. We left Vegas when it was 87F, we arrived in Provo when it was 27F.

    Opening the door to our place, we found some of our friends had raided our apartment with streamers (again, I defer to my brother's blog for this).
  • Wednesday: I don't recall a lot happening this day.

    I submitted about 20+ job applications and that's about it.




  • Thursday: woke up early, put on my suit and drove to Salt Lake City for an interview with a staffing agency that specializes in engineering and IT. They said there might be some positions opening up for me and I'm still waiting to hear back from them about one of them - it seems promising, though. About three hours after the interview ended I had another interview at another place, a marketing company. This company explained the position was a manager-training position and after the interview said they wanted me to come back the next day at 10am to meet with them and experience what the job is like to see if I wanted it. I accepted, excited that I had a chance gain manager experience and work in marketing. I imagined it like sitting around a room discussing ads, what billboards would bring it the most business, what locations are prime for marketing, etc. I was excited.

    Later that day, I had a date with a very cute girl. It went well; we had fun - went to dinner, then a walk, then back to my place to watch The Office.

    The Office was foreshadowing of things to come. And not in a good way.
  • Friday: once again, I put on my suit and went to Salt Lake City for the interview. I met the guy I'd be working with, Paul, and we set off to get to work. We would be working in Lehi, which was about a 20-30 minute drive and as such had time to talk. Things went well - we discussed school, what the job would entail (direct marketing of office supplies to clients) - the basic things. When we finally got to Lehi, Paul parked the car and we went into a law firm. He spoke with the receptionist who called in the office manager who had spoken with Paul last week. She ended up ordering some boxes of paper and it all seemed pretty kosher. After we said goodbye and thanked the lady at the law firm, Paul led me through the building and to every possible office he could find. I was kind of curious about this, and then realized he was introducing himself to everyone trying to find office managers whom he could sell office supplies to. Then it occurred to me: this isn't "marketing" in the "advertising" sense - it was literally cold-calling, door-to-door office supply sales.

    In other words: it was marketing for Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. It was exactly like the episode of The Office when they go out on sales calls. Exactly.

    I didn't like it.

    I spent the next 5 hours talking with Paul (we got along well), and trying not to show my displeasure at the work we were doing. Paul enjoyed his job and, in all fairness, he was saving most of the offices money by getting them paper and pens and ink and so forth for cheaper than they were currently paying. I told myself that if it paid a certain amount I'd do it, otherwise I wouldn't. A few hours later, I was back at the main office talking with the assistant manager of the company about what the job paid: it was 100% commission. For the first few months, your entire salary was off of commission from sales, and while 'most' of the 'representatives' make $700-$800 weekly, it was not a job I wanted to do. I don't like the idea of working wholly on commission; or on commission at all, for that matter. Furthermore, in order to get promoted (which they said takes about a month before you're made a "leader" and 4-5 months before I'd be made "assistant manager" - at which point I'd get a base salary plus commission from the sales of those under me) I had to train in 5 new people, and while they get paid the same commission rate I did, part of their sales (and mine) go to the manager.

    Now, while the payment was good - it was actually higher than I expected - and the benefits were nice - managers get week long vacations in the Bahamas for "training" and such - when I thought about, I realized that the pattern for which they hire on and how they sell makes a very interesting shape: a pyramid.

    While I may not find a job that has the potential to pay that well, I'd rather work a job I can stand than work a job that has my paycheck wholly relying on how much stuff I sell to someone. Plus, any job that claims I can start working it with no experience and make over $100,000 in just over a year is sketchy at best.

    I went to college to avoid working a job like this.

    Later Friday, they called and offered me the position; I politely declined.
  • Saturday: spent the entire day cleaning with my brother and then rewiring our television, DVD player, game systems and surround sound. Everything worked except the s-video input on the DVD player, so the DVR isn't wired into the television at the moment. On Monday, we're going to go to Best Buy and buy a DVI cable to wire it into the television, which will allow us to take advantage of our HDTV.

    I really don't care whether The Office is in HD or not, but it's the only way we can wire up everything at once.
So, that's my week.

Any questions?

Monday, April 7, 2008

10 Games I Want To Go Through Again

  1. Super Metroid
  2. Final Fantasy
  3. Final Fantasy IV
  4. Final Fantasy VI
  5. Chrono Trigger
  6. Secret of Mana
  7. Star Tropics
  8. Dragon Warrior II
  9. Dragon Warrior III
  10. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Interestingly enough, all of these games are from the SNES or NES. While I wholeheartedly believe the N64, Gamecube, Wii, Playstation 1/2/3, Xbox/360 consoles all hold their own with games, very few of them make me think "man, I really want to play through that game again."

Maybe it's just that it's been awhile, maybe it's just the nostalgic factor of playing these games, maybe it's just remembering them as better than they are...

Nope. Those games are all as fun today as they were when they came out. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy I, IV and VI are still as amazing to play through; I'm still awed by how complex those games are in both story and gameplay. Secret of Mana is just incredible from the start of a boy who pulls a rusty sword from a tree stump to visiting the mana tree in the forest to sinking the continent (this game still sells for $50+ on ebay). Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past created so much that is now essential in every Zelda game - boss battle tactics, level designs, weapons and items - this game created all of those now legendary Zelda traits. Actually, I don't think I've ever played through that game in it's correct order - I always do the dungeons out of order, which I just think is awesome. Dragon Warrior II and III each introduced new levels of gameplay, from being able to add/remove party members whenever you wanted in Dragon Warrior III to picking up party members as you go through the story in Dragon Warrior II. Star Tropics introduced the idea of shoving bananas in your ears to stop evil space overlords from talking to you...

And Super Metroid. Yes, I am willing to classify this as the greatest action game ever created - potentially even the greatest game ever created. I cannot think of a single fault with the game from it's design, gameplay, execution, and replayability. The game is as close to perfect as any game has ever come. Even the length is near perfect. Sure, for an RPG you want hours of gameplay and story development, for but a side-scrolling action game, 2-3 hours is the perfect length. You move from area to area before you get bored, you upgrade fast enough that you don't feel like you're not advancing, and the game never says "you must do this next" - if you can do it, go for it. I've played through it numerous times and never once said "y'know, this isn't that fun, I want to play something else." It's always fun to play through because it's done so well. Every time I finish playing through it, I feel good. The game is just that amazing.

By the end of the year, I would like to have gone through each of these games again. Some I can easily go through in a day (Super Metroid takes about 2 hours to pass, Star Tropics takes even less than that) while others will take a couple of days (Final Fantasy VI and Dragon Warrior III can each take upwards of 40 hours to complete). It may seem drastic to want to play through so many time-consuming games, but these games are what made me love gaming; these games are about problem solving and following characters you love.

These games are what make me proud to be a gamer. They're fun, sometimes challenging, require patience, problem solving, attention to detail, dexterity, reading comprehension and persistence. They're what gaming is all about; they're about taking some time and having fun.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Facepalm

Admittedly, I may have been a bit harsh on my siblings in the last post. Yes, I found what they said insulting, but I think they meant what they said either innocently or with the best of intentions.

I think the reason it struck home is simply because I feel like everytime I need to ask my father for help, I feel like I'm letting him down. I feel like I'm a disappointment, and by them offering me help, I feel like they're disappointed in me and feel they need to help me out so I'm no longer a stain on the family name.

I've always been the black sheep of the family, but not financially. I have a different taste in music, a different idea of fun, a different idea of style (although that's changing; their ideas of style, not mine), and just an all around different way of looking at life. I never felt like I was different financially, though. I always thought I was holding my own, and I suppose them offering me help and assistance makes me feel like I'm below them - like I'm not as good as they are - and as such am a disappointment.

I know my parents are always willing to help; they have the means to do so and it's never been a big issue. But I've had friends who have been paying for all their own things since they were 16 or 17. I'm 23 and have a BS degree; I should be able to handle my own bills and finances. By not being able to do so, or by struggling to do so, I feel like I'm a failure. I feel like I'm not progressing as fast I should, which is really uncomfortable for me because throughout school I was always in the upper echelon of students.

I hate feeling like a failure. By asking for or accepting help from those I consider my peers, I feel like I'm not only a failure, but am openly admitting it. That's what I hate most of all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I sleep alone tonight

I am a visitor here. I am not permanent. I've been here over a month and I'm still a guest. I don't live here. I take up space on the couch at night and live out of boxes stacked behind it.

I'm not a resident of Utah; I'm a long-term guest.

I also found out today that my siblings seem to have some permanent idea of me as a teenager. My brother condescendingly told me that he'd "bail me out" after I told him I was going to buy my furniture on credit (I never said anything about having trouble making payments), and my sister apparently thought my father
has been paying my rent and bills for the last 4 years. When I asked her why she thought this, she said it just never occurred to her that I supported myself.

I can't tell you how insulting I find those two comments.

I don't know why they've got this idea that I haven't grown up. I've supported myself. I've paid for all my own bills, my own rent, my own life. I wasn't a leech on my parents through college. At my old place, the place I left thinking that living here would be better, I had acquired all of my furniture myself, save for a bookshelf that was given to me as a Christmas gift. Everything else I had there I had gotten myself - all the cookware, the two dressers, the queen-sized bed and frame, the futon, the coffee table, the lamps, the bookshelves, the glass-top desk. Yes, my father paid for my tuition and I am eternally grateful to him for that, but for a large portion of the last few years I've paid for my own expenses and supported myself.

My brother and sister don't seem to understand this, or the idea never even occurred to them; I don't know which is worse. It's insulting. I'm 23; I can make my own decisions, I can support myself, I can handle my own finances. I don't need an older brother telling me he's going to "bail me out" when I have never - never - asked him for financial help or even implied that I'd ever want it from him. I have said that if I can't find a job that rent could become an issue, but I never asked him to come to my rescue. I thought my sister knew me better and actually understood that I'm an adult, not just a big kid still living off Daddy's
money. Yes, my father has helped me out from time to time, but that doesn't occur often anymore - and it doesn't occur much more often than it does for them. I know for a fact it occurs far less often for me now than it did for them when they were my age.

I'm not a kid anymore. I've lived on my own for over 4 years. I can make my own decisions, plan out my own finances and live my own life. I may not seem very responsible with money because when I have it I spend it affluently, but I am nearly always on time with my bill payments and my rent, and only a couple times have I asked for assistance from my father - I have never asked nor even hinted that I would need it from my siblings.

I moved out here hoping to meet my brother and sister as an adult and be friends with them. Right now, I feel like they still see me as the 13 year old they lived with a decade ago and I'm incredibly insulted by it. The only one out here who sees me as a fellow adult is my brother-in-law and I'm very grateful that he actually sees me as I am, not as I was. He makes me feel like an equal, like someone he respects. Not someone he has to baby and take care of.

/rant