On a $100 sandwich

A colleague of mine at the deli mistakenly gave a price tag of $100 to a piece of sandwich, which prompted bewilderment when a customer ran it thru the cashier.

"What on earth did you guys put on it, gold?" they asked, which tickled us all.

After the cashier took back the sandwich to the deli, my colleague then reverted the price tag back to its original price of $3.99

Otherwise, that would have turned into one of the most expensive sandwiches in town!


Milli Vanilli

Do you know Milli Vanilli?

If you are born after the 1980s, chances are you don't.

Yet a friend of mine recently told me about how this musical duo achieved its notoriety for lip-syncing on MTV stage...and the tape got stuck.

What's worse, that particular song had won a Grammy previously, and as a result of that unfortunate incident, its award had to be revoked, causing downfall to the duo.

I know it's not funny to laugh at the demise.... But it certainly is to watch the video of how the lip-syncing went awry.

You can check it out on this Youtube link.


Libraries and new hobby of collecting bookmarks

Lately I have been patronising the Barnes & Noble bookshop and the public libraries in Union and Florence.

Especially these American libraries...they are such a marvel, you can borrow 50 items at once (whether they are CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, or printed books) for 21 days!

In the libraries I usually spend the entire day -I would've stayed here from dusk to dawn if I could- but since it opens at 9.00 and closes at 21.00 every weekdays, I spend only 10 hours of my holiday hours there.

Now one thing I found amusing is my newly found obsession for bookmarks.

I've found bookmarks which advertises the library's website and some Starbucks promotion and what's so good of them is that they are free.

So now I've found what it means to be a regular guy, just like everybody else.

Because since my childhood, I've seen other boys collecting anything they are obsessed with: some ask for stamps, some collect soccer balls, others find love in kites, shoes, musical instruments, and some of those fucking rich brats always come to school with a new electronic gadget or cellphone every once a month or so.

While I was left by myself...the only male species found not interested in collecting anything.

But hey, I collect bookmarks now! I promise you people I'll upload a picture of my collection someday.


Driving on the wrong side of the road

Having to use bike or feet as means of transportation from home to work, especially without any pavements on which I can safely distance myself off the passing vehicles, I always take the routine of driving against the traffic, which is the left-hand side.

That way I can safely see the cars and trucks coming ahead to me, instead of passing from behind.

Haha, being on the left-hand side of the road using the UK system again, eh? Guess it doesn't make much of a difference whether I'm still in Indonesia or living in America...my brain is still fixed to use the left-hand side of the road.

Now what makes me wonder is that some asinine drivers out there do not seem to be able to grasp the same sense of logic.

A couple of days ago I was klaxonned at and yelled at by a driver, who seemed to be furious seeing "this teenager who can't use his head to ride his bike on the right side of the road".

Thank God that I can't hear a single thing that he said, as he was yelling from inside his car windows. The only one who heard those cusses would be himself.


Thinking of transferring

I am currently thinking of transferring to either one of the other two branches of Sparta: one located next to a public library, and the other is strategically located within walking distances of several bookstores and gift stores, and shopping centres.

Moreover, both branches are more pedestrian-friendly: they have pavements within 50-80% of my walk/bike ride from home to each of both, which consequently makes my trip much more pleasant.

And those two other branches are around 30 minutes of walking distances each, which is around 10-15 minutes shorter than the time it takes to reach the place I'm working now.

What about the current Sparta branch where I'm working?

I tell you, it's not a pleasant one at all.

Not a single speck of pavement could be found from the house to my work place, hence I always have to walk or ride my bike on the road shoulders.

Moreover, on those road shoulders I can see rotten and disfigured bodies, and some skeletal remains of dead puppies and raccoons that has been there for months (or perhaps years), apparently hit by vehicles.


Anyway, though such a transfer between branches is theoretically possible (I only need to talk with my HR manager and conjure up some good reasons for it), it is not actually as easy to do these days.

Especially with the Sparta deli being understaffed; they need us all here!

A friend of mine whom I call Sally in this blog has also expressed an interest in moving to another branch, but that does not seem laudable, not at this point of time.

I just pray to God that there will come some new hires to this deli soon.

I'm dying to transfer.


on Pay raise

Working in the deli department of Sparta can give me pay raises of $0.10-0.25 every several hundred hours or so.

But for my first pay raise, I'll get a raise of $0.15 after working 175 hours. So far I've worked around 125 hours, so it will take me another two weeks before I start seeing more dollars on my paycheck (this translates to $4 more in my paycheck every week, or $16 a month).

The next pay raise after then would be after working 400 hours.


The winter clothes and umbrella I bought

I bought an XL-size black umbrella (which the label says to be around 55 to 68 inches in width) for $19 in Sparta.

Seems to be an unreasonable price to some of you earthlings back in Indonesia, but I found the umbrella's largeness to be very comfy, especially when it comes to me not getting wet.

Now, regarding the chill.

The season turned to the brownish autumn at the end of September, and the night temperatures often drop to 8-11 Celcius.

Considering that my buddies in Sparta could not always give me a ride back home, I am sometimes compelled to walk by my own.

40 minutes under 10 Celcius, at 23.00. Geez.

My first day, I only had one T-shirt, one long-sleeve, a hoodie sweatshirt, and thin pair of socks to walk with. No protective scarf, no beanie, no woolen socks, nothing.

And I was all gelid when I finally reached the door.

So I went to TJ-Maxx where people say I can purchase affordable winter clothes, and got myself a couple of them. Here's the list:

  1. Neck covering = $4
  2. A pair of mittens = $17
  3. A beanie = $12
  4. Thermal long johns = $15
  5. A pair of woolen socks = $6
  6. Another pair of merino woolen socks = $7
For those of you who don't know, thermal underwear is a piece of thin garment which looks very much like those worn by gymnasts. The only difference is that if you wear this thermal underwear, your body could get heated up so easily.

Because it fends the cold.

And a neck covering is like a bandana that primarily protects your neck. It works like a scarf, but it looks like a bandana.

I am not done with the list of winter clothes yet. I still need a pair of boots ($40-80), thermal undershirt ($20), and possibly a pair of ski goggles ($20-30).

I really need the boots. Even with this pair of woolen socks, my feet still get cold easily, due to the thin-layered shoes I have (one's a pair of sneakers, the other's a pair of work shoes).

Shoe Carnival provides pretty expensive boots that start from $60 upwards, so I'm thinking of trying Wal-mart sometime soon.


AT&T and T-mobile (part 2)

I've decided to keep my T-mobile for my American contacts. While AT&T is used to send and receive text messages from anybody outside USA.

If only I had found out about AT&T much earlier when I was in Miami... I could have purchased a simcard which remains active for 3 months for just $25!

And from that $25 balance, $10 can be deducted each month for my 1000 messaging package.

Which averages a charge of 1 penny per SMS, regardless of text being sent or received, domestic or international.

Sigh. Oh well.


AT&T and T-mobile

The names on the title are two of the most well-known cellphone carriers in America. It was unfortunate that I had purchased both, when I actually only have the need for one.

Here was how it went.

I firstly did an extensive research on several cellphone carriers, even to those with relatively obscure fame such as Boost and i-Wireless.

I found that AT&T and T-mobile are two of the most well-reputed brand. I initially wanted to subscribe to a postpaid service (where I am charged a certain fixed monthly fee of $40-60), but decided to rethink about it after seeing that that amount of money is too pricey for my pocket.

What I need is of course, easier and cheaper long-distance communication with Indonesia. So I researched for a data-only plan (where I only pay for the unlimited mobile internet, but without any phonecalls or SMSes)...to no avail.

I thought T-mobile had a data-only plan with their so-called "Unlimited Blackberry" plan, but it was no good. Apparently it was directed towards a hearing-impaired audience.

There was also another carrier that listed unlimited international phone calls as its main feature, and it got me excited...until I found out that the so-called "international" was only for 60 countries relevant to America (you know, the Spanish-speaking countries that provides USA with immigrants, the Arabic-speaking countries that provides it with oil and terrorism cause, and Japan and China and some similarly wealthy friends in Europe).

That pissed me off.

So I decided to go for a smarter solution, which would be a normal Prepaid plan, as any good Indonesians would opt for.

Postpaid got me thinking a whole week because:

  1. Though the phone may be low-priced (such as $150 for a Blackberry 8900) or even free, I have to subscribe to its carrier for 24 months in full. Which means that if I terminate the contract plan after using it for a year, I have to pay off a termination fee which ranges from $150 to 250.
  2. All the features that you have in a postpaid plan can be purchased cheaper with a prepaid plan. Who needs 1000 minutes and unlimited SMS for $50/month in postpaid when you can have the same features with a prepaid one?
Voila, prepaid is my choice.

Then I bought a T-mobile simcard in Walmart (which comes together with its Nokia 1661 phone) for $20, with $3 initial balance. This means that the Nokia came for $17, which wasn't a bad deal, considering how plastic it is.

I also bought a $50 prepaid refill card for T-mobile, a move I regret now.

What a waste of money.

It may not be true for some other areas in USA, but T-mobile does have a poor signal reception inside the house I'm living in right now.

Then they also charge a hefty fee to send SMSes abroad to Indonesia.

So I researched more on its arch nemesis, AT&T...and look what I found, a messaging feature package of $10 for 1000 SMSes!

And it lasts for 30 days.

And I found that in Kaskus, fellow Indonesians are giving testimonials of how they have found a "leak" that the SMS package can also be used to send texts abroad (to numbers outside America).

Now that I have found that AT&T has a good signal reception in the house, I'm sticking to AT&T. Just as not to let my T-mobile phone go to waste, I may keep the number alive till its expiration on late December...or I may choose to discard it by then.

But oh well, even if I want to keep both phones active, I only need to dig $10 for T-mobile and $25-50 for AT&T every 3 months. Which in total, I only need to pay $35 at most.

Which averages $12 a month.

Not a bad deal. Not expensive at all. I can now SMS as much as I like to Indonesia!


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