Monday, January 19, 2009

On a Mission

Today I'll be gathering supplies to make one of these:

I guess FIRST had some logistics issues this year with the game pieces, as Walmart was the only retailer aside from FIRST directly, and both are completely sold out. Luckily a very wise team managed to create their own and made a video and guide to replicate it perfectly, so now teams have an option to get game pieces to practice with. I'll be working on 1-2 test homemade orbit balls for 108 to work with, and if it goes well we'll make a ton more. I will soon embark on a short journey around town to

1. Home Depot to get some 1/16" polycarbonate and 1/8" rivets
2. Joann Fabrics to get some spandex and padding
3. Maybe to Walmart to see if by chance they have anymore orbit balls left

I would assemble the whole thing at home, but I don't have a bandsaw. So I'll prep the fabric coverings tonight and finish it up tomorrow.

So long

and thanks for all the fish...

Circuit City couldn't emerge from Ch. 11 banktrupcy, which means goodbye to the country's no. 2 electronics retailer and goodbye to my job. While I'm not too disappointed about being out of a job in 60 days (didn't really need it), I am not looking forward to going through the liquidation process. We could go on and on forever about Circuit City's mistakes over the last few years that lead to its downfall, (oh wait, someone already has) but that's not the point. I wonder how the market will be with a Best Buy monopoly. Will online sales be up? Will the Best Buy haters convert? Will consumers just rely on Walmart, Target, and other brick and mortar retailers? I'm really not disappointed about losing my job at all, it just sucks to see such a huge company go, along with employment for 34,000 others. What a sign of the times...

I still have quite a lengthy post on consumerism coming up, but I still find it hard to believe how people are behaving now. I went to work on Saturday, unofficially known as Black Saturday, the first day of the liquidation sale, and it was worse than Black Friday in my store. Everything is 10%, with 20% off movies/music, and 30% off cables. The deals really weren't that great, but apparently brought traffic into the store in massive droves. Most people weren't making any major purchases, but buying small stuff like DVDs and CDs. Ironically, last week all CDs were 30% off...where were these bargain shoppers then? Ironically, most of our real Black Friday and holiday deals were cheaper than the liquidation prices now...where were these bargain shoppers then? Apparently, despite our bleak economic climate (the term Circuit City loved to use), people suddenly have money to spend!

I didn't expect customers to be polite and friendly; I did expect some rudeness, and I did expect some crazies, but not at the overwhelming level that I witnessed on Saturday. When I came in on Saturday evening, the parking lot was more packed than Best Buy's for once, there were a ton of people in the store, and it looked a complete mess, as if people were shopping like they were at Ross. I jumped into my normal role in imaging, with a positivie attitude. Unfortunately that didn't last for long, especially after being told multiple times "our goal is to sell, sell, sell...just move product out the door!" and running into some of the rudest people ever. I can't even count how many times I've heard "that's why you're going out of business!" (no shit!) or "I can get it cheaper elsewhere" (duh, so buy it there) or "I want you to give me a greater discount" (that would be considered theft) or "I demand to speak to a manager" (like that will help). People have obviously watched the news or read the articles to know that Circuit City ws going out of business, but clearly they didn't pay attention, as most articles and broadcasts clearly stated that we were now owned by liquidation companies and there is really no such thing as Circuit City anymore. We don't even have a website. A lot of media outlets have even publicized the deception and scheming behind liquidation, but a majority of consumers know nothing of that. They hear liquidation and think "omg really cheap stuff must buy now!" Working retail for 6 months, I've come to realize it's often too much to expect a logical thought process out of the average consumer. Most people also don't seem to care that their 10 - 30% discount is also at a result of of 34,000 people losing their jobs. Actually, some people are extremely sympathetic, but that gets annoying after a while too. Most people have no idea that I'm only 17, so they think I have bills or college tuition and a family to take care of or whatever like 80% of the others getting laid off. Luckily, my store is covered under the WARN act, which ensures I have a job or get paid for 60 days as long as I don't do anything stupid. 

With what I've experienced on Saturday, I don't think I'll stick it out until closing on March 21st. We currently have a make-your-own schedule thing going on, so I can work as much as I want, whenever I want as long as I don't go over 40 hours, but I can't see myself taking advantage of that. The worse part of the day is recovery at the end. Even though there are no more vultures in the store, it looks like a battlefield, so we have to make it look sparkly and wonderful like a brand new store, just as if it was business as usual. When cleaning up at the end of the night, it sometimes looks like people came, in went shopping, and just said "ah, fuck it" somewhere in the process and just dropped everything they had wherever they were. So this is what working at Walmart must feel like...

I'm not really sure what to expect over the next few weeks, or if I'll even be there. If there was just a rush on Saturday and the hype dies down in the next couple of day, I think I can handle it and will stick around, but if everyday will be like Saturday...adios! No need for that much stress over 8 and change an hour. 

Goodbye, Circuit City. It's been an interesting ride... 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Multitasking is Bad

This probably completely goes against everything I've stood for and done for like...ever, but I've come to realize the root of my issue with procrastionation. I used to think I was so awesome for being able to do so many things at once, but a few moments ago, a profound thought struck me -- multitasking is only worse. Having over a dozen tabs open on a dozen subjects, as well as iTunes, gtalk, and some other random program while trying to do an AP Lit assignment is just plain ridiculous. I've found that I'm not really getting work done faster, it's just a lack of self-control. For some reason I feel the need to check my email, Facebook, and Google Reader feeds and YouTube subscriptions every 5 minutes. I get caught up in links to other sites, self reminders to "hey, remember to do/check this!", or weird random questions that suddenly pop into my mind that I have to impulsively Google the answer for. It's the curse and blessing of the Internet.

This is horrible, horrible time management. People think that just because I get good grades I must study all the time and am constantly being productive. Ha! I rarely study or do homework at home, I just happen to be really good at BSing, can usually understand and retain something the first time I read it, and can read/work pretty quickly. I'm more than sure this type of behavior won't cut it in college. 

Observing just how busy I was in these last few months with school, work, college apps, robotics, and everything else, I realize now just how precious my time is. There's no room for failure or goofing off, but I do it anyway. Somehow a majority of my work gets done, but the manner in which it gets done is not optimal. Getting only 3 or 4 hours of sleep on a regular basis is not healthy. Nor is bragging about a lack of sleep cool. Today was the first Sunday I've had off since July and I realized just how tired I was.

Back to this multitasking thing, in no way is this an efficient use of time at all. I spend more time switching between activities or looking for something else to do than actually getting work done.  Fully dedicating my attention to one task at a time will get more accomplished in a period of time than trying to do 95 billion things at once. Duh!

I just remembered where this idea might've come from. Earlier today I read an article on Lifehacker about multitasking vs. continuous partial attention. Interesting, but doesn't really help me much besides providing a label for another bad habit.

Now that I know the problem, I don't know if I'll be able to solve it. Habits are hard to break.  I can't imagine turning on my computer to do work without having my email and reader and music playing in the background. Perhaps I need to part from my computer when doing real work (doesn't quite work well with online classes). Perhaps I should stop lying to myself about being efficient and good with time management first.

Ironically, I'm writing this post while trying to knock out the last essay I'll ever write (except for the final) for AP Lit, looking at robot stuff on Chief Delphi, and organizing music on my iPod. Change is difficult.

Hmmpf, maybe I'll have more time to work with in the near future since I (and 40,000 others) may not have a job after next week...