Sunday, March 30, 2008

Workbrain Needs a Lobotomy

Ah, Sunday morning. Listening to music on Rhapsody. Drinking coffee. Waiting for Roxanne to wake up so we can decide what, if anything, we want to do today. I'm actually off today, on a Sunday. The last Sunday I had off was January 6. By my count, that's eleven straight Sundays, including Easter Sunday, which we normally would've been closed on, but corporate greed decided we needed to be open on the holiday. It's about 10:40 am as I write this. Normally, I'd be scrambling to get a shower, get breakfast and get dressed to be at work by 12:30. But not today! I'm off today. And why am I off? Because I had to bloody request it, that's why. And for the record, I'm scheduled to work next Sunday that I know of, which will probably start another stretch of a dozen Sundays until I request one off. My manager said that she now is expected to work at least two Sundays a month, so maybe I won't have to work every Sunday, but I'll believe that when I see it.

You see, the company I work for uses a piece of software called 'Workbrain.' Sounds cool, eh? Well it f---ing sucks! This, presumably expensive, software program is supposed to create a balanced schedule based on sales projections, store hours, and, of course, the individual's productivity based on their sales. Balanced, my left nut! How's it balanced for one person to work every Sunday? The stupid program thinks I'm the only key-holder available on Sunday! Sure, my manager's tried to fix it, but the information won't take for some reason, and so I get stuck with working every Sunday. But that's not the only thing this great and wonderful software does that makes no sense. Let me give you a typical schedule of mine for a given week; in fact, I'll give you two weeks so you can see that it's a constant, not just a fluke (keep in mind, our pay week runs from Saturday through Friday):

March 22 – 28
Saturday 11:30am – 9:00pm
Sunday 12:30pm – 6:00pm
Monday OFF
Tuesday 9:00am – 1:00pm
Wednesday OFF
Thursday 8:30am – 11:30am (what was the f---ing point of even going in?)
Friday 11:15am – 9:00pm

March 29 – April 4
Saturday 9:00am – 1:15pm
Sunday OFF (remember, I requested this one)
Monday 8:30am – 1:30pm (and the next person comes in at 11:30am, so I'll be opening alone)
Tuesday 8:30am – 9:00pm (yep, 12 ½ hour day because the manager's on vacation and the other key-holder needs a day off too)
Wednesday OFF (the other key-holder gets to do the 12 ½ hour routine)
Thursday 8:30am – 6:15pm
Friday 8:30am – 1:30pm

And then, on the following Saturday, April 5, I don't got in until 5:00pm and have a schedule in which I do nothing but close every night, occasionally going in as early as 11:15am or as late as 5:00pm. Sure, that makes sense, right?

Now, you'd think that the manager would have some control over all this. NOPE. The district manager has basically forbidden the store managers from making edits to the schedule; it is to be worked as Workbrain did it, because Workbrain did it that way for a reason. Yeah, the reason is the programmer was a moron! The schedule makes no sense when on one day I'll work a 10 hour shift, only to have a three or four hour shift on a couple of other days; please, for the love of Mike just give me five, six-to-eight hour shifts like a normal person and rotate the freakin' weekends! That's the problem with allowing a computer program to do the scheduling instead of a person; there's no sense of fairness or balance. The machine just sees numbers and tries to predict who needs to be where and when. But, it can't even do that right, not when it schedules a mere two people on a Saturday night, but will have three working until an hour before closing on a mid-week day. Please, someone give Workbrain a programming lobotomy – it has a mental disorder!

~ JC

Upcoming: The results for the poll at the Blogger version of my blog will be posted on Tuesday (possibly not until late, if you happened to notice my schedule above for that day). You still have Sunday and Monday to vote. So far, “Tweak the layout and content, but keep it” has the lead at 50%, while the smart asses that actually chose “42” are at 30%, and the simple answer of “Keep it” is at 20%.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Once Easter's Gone, They're Gone

Today is Easter Sunday; that day that Christians buy new clothes and go to church to celebrate the resurrection of their Saviour, Jesus. For some of them, it's the only day of the year that they set foot in a church. However, I'm not here to discuss that. I'm writing, instead of a much more important topic; the Cadbury Creme Egg.

These wonderful confectionery delights are only available for a few months out of the year, from January 1 to Easter. Does this seem fair to you? To further our torture, the folks at Cadbury-Schwepps have launched multiple variations of the addictive treat. According to Wikipedia, these variations include the mini-creme eggs, caramel eggs, mini-caramel eggs, orange creme eggs and chocolate creme eggs, to name just the ones I've been able to find in local stores.

I've often wondered why these wonderful candies are only available for such a limited time, when they seem to be so popular. Like most folks, I discovered the Cadbury Creme Egg when I was but a youth, but my love for them has carried over into my adulthood. The only good thing about their limited availability that I can think of, is that the day after Easter they'll go on sale for half price and I can stock up and store them in the refrigerator for several weeks (if my addiction will allow them to last that long). In fact, I don't know which addiction is worse, the Eggs or Krispy Kreme Donuts? Personally, I love the original, but being a bit of a caramel junky, it was an exciting day when I found out they were making the caramel version. My fiancée disagrees, however and would rather have just the originals; Ok, so more caramel eggs for me then! I can live with that.

But tell me friends and gentle readers, which do you prefer? Leave a comment and share your love for the Cadbury Creme Egg in all it's various and sundry versions.

Oh yeah, before I forget, Happy Easter!

Upcoming Blog Topics: “Workbrain Needs a Lobotomy” (March 30), “Random Rantings of a Retail Sales Clerk” (TBD). Don't forget, there's only a few days left to vote in the poll about whether or not I should keep my website, Carlisle's Chaotic Corner, open or not. Thanks to the nine of you who have already voted. The results will be posted on April 1 (no foolin')

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Long about the year 1456 C.E., some Scotsmen got together and invented a sport involving putting a little ball, not much more than 1½ inches in diameter into a hole not much bigger than that. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, well that hole was several hundred yards away, and you have to accomplish this feat eighteen times and in the fewest number of strokes using a crooked stick! They called this sport, golf, presumably from an old Scottish Gaelic word which meant “to strike or cuff.” Some 541 years later, a kid named “Tiger” would turn the sport on its ear and generate tons of interest in the game in folks who had previously seen it as pointless.

One of those people who thought golf was a pointless game is currently writing this blog article. I had for years said that I'd never play golf and held to the Carlinian1 point of view that it was a “sexist, racist, elitist sport.” Then along came Tiger, and my attitude changed a bit. I also was in Bible college at the time Tiger won the Masters Tournament,2 and we were allowed to play at one of the area golf courses for free with our student ID and since it seemed that all church pastors were golfers, it seemed like the thing to try. So, I found a set of very old golf clubs (which I still have) at a junk store for $30, bought a cheap box of golf balls and gave it a try. I figured, if I hated it, there were plenty of guys on campus who were always borrowing clubs that I could easily get my $30 back. Well, I messed up and fell in love with the game, though it threatened to take my sanity and I came close on more than one occasion to breaking the clubs and/or throwing them in the lake. At least once a week, my buddy Kris and I would drive over to Hartwell Golf Club and play at least nine holes, lose at least four or five balls each, throw a club at least once, but always have a lot of fun while getting some exercise3 and getting off campus for a couple or three hours.

After I left Georgia and moved back home to North Carolina, I didn't play for a couple of years, because I didn't have that magic student ID card anymore and I didn't have a “golfin' buddy.” Then I met Jeremiah and we started the same routine that Kris and I had in Georgia; play golf once a week. The difference was, Jere and I used the cart (because it was included in the price of the round) and we had a cooler full of beer (hey, I wasn't in Bible college anymore and had never become a pastor :-P). A few months later, Jeremiah moved to another city and I was again without a “golfin' buddy” and quit playing for about two years.

May 2007, another friend of mine got married in Atlanta and had taken up the game, so the day before the wedding, all the guys got together and played golf. It had been the first time in two years I had even taken my clubs out of the storage room and it showed (not that I was all that good to begin with). That Saturday in Georgia last year, though, rekindled my love of the game and when I returned to Fayetteville, I decided it was time to get new clubs and start playing again regularly, even if I had to play by myself. In fact, the very week I got back from Rob's wedding in Georgia, the two of us got together to play a round when he came up to visit his parents.

I've been playing pretty steady for a few months now. I still suck at it, as evidenced in my score cards, several of which you can view online. While it's true that golf can become expensive, I've found a couple of courses that are pretty cheap, only $10 or $20 for a round of eighteen holes, and I was able to get my clubs on layaway at Dick's Sporting Goods. I need lessons, for sure, but I'll have to either win the lottery or wait for those supposed tax rebate checks the government is supposed to send out in May before I could afford that.

Why do I play, you ask? Simple; as maddening as it can be, and as much money as I spend on golf balls to replace all the ones I lose to “water hazard gods” every time I play, it relaxes me. I get to be outside, away from the stresses of life and just enjoy myself. Most days, at least at the smaller course I play at, I meet someone new and occasionally pick up some pointers and tips from them. Besides, it's not like I'm going to learn how to skate and become hockey player at my age, right?

Golf is also a game of honor and integrity; a couple of traits that are increasingly lacking in this country. It's the only sport, as Hardy Greaves stated in “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” that you can call a penalty on yourself (provided you're honest, and most golfer's are). So, get some clubs (those crooked sticks I mentioned before) and play golf America!


  1. I'm referring here to comedian George Carlin and comments he once made during one of his comedy concerts in the early 1990's or late 1980's.

  2. setting a tournament record for low score (-18) which still stands to this day, by the way

  3. we walked the course; we could play for free, but using the golf carts cost money and we were poor college students, which is why we usually only played nine holes because we didn't want to walk the entire eighteen.

Next week: a special Easter Sunday blog

Sunday, March 09, 2008

So Many Books, So Little Time

I love books. At last count I own 266 books, most of which are, unfortunately, in storage right now. I also love to read, when I have the time and energy. Lately it seems, I either have no time to read or no energy to do so and fall asleep whenever I pick up one of the many books in my collection that are yet unread.

I'll give you an example. I'm currently reading Planeswalker by Lynn Abbey, which is the second book in the Artifacts Cycle of the multi-book, multi-author series of Magic: The Gathering novels. I began reading it on October 29, 2007. Yep, that's right, I'm only half way through a novel of merely 359 pages and it's taken me four-and-a-half months to get that far. Sounds ridiculous, eh? I agree.

At one time I was quite a voracious reader. Even a 400-600 page novel scarcely would last a week in my eager hands. Now, though, it seems my desire is there but I can't get motivated. The “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” as it were. I remember back in October figuring out that if I knuckled down and read at least one book a week and didn't add anymore books to my personal library, it would take me somewhere in the vicinity of six months to get caught up. Evidently I'm failing at that concept in two respects; I haven't been reading a book a week (obviously) and since October at least two new books were added to my collection. To make things worse, I belong to The Science-Fiction Book Club and have a contractual obligation to purchase at least four more books within the next few months, which means I'll be making my six month estimate stretch out even farther.

It's not that I'm lazy or that the books I have strike me as boring. It's truly a matter of mental discipline. For example, as I write this blog entry, I could be reading instead. When I spend two to four hours on the golf course, I could be at a coffee shop reading instead. Let's not also forget the countless hours wasted in front of the television even when there's not a single damn thing worth watching on at the time. Add all that up, and even with my slow reading speed of twenty to thirty pages per hour, and I could've finished at least one book by now if not three! In other words, the title of this blog is really a bit of a misnomer as it's not really that I don't have time, it's that I don't make time to spend reading. That's really a sad fact considering how much I complain that there's nothing on TV anymore except reality show bullshit and there haven't been much in the way of good movies lately either. One thing's for sure; I don't need to buy anymore books for a very long while and should probably consider taking some of the ones I do own to a used bookstore.

~ JC

Next week (Sunday, March 16): my commentary on Golf and why I play the game

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Farewell to the Ultimate Dungeon Master

Each morning I begin my day with a hot cup of coffee and by logging on to Google Reader and scanning through the headlines of the various RSS feeds. Imagine my surprise Wednesday morning when I found the headline “RIP Gary Gygax” on the Geeks Are Sexy feed which lead to an article on Wired announcing that Gary Gygax had passed away on Tuesday.

For those of you not in the know, E. Gary Gygax is the co-creator and “father” of Dungeons & Dragons, and ostensibly all other role playing games and fantasy based games that have come after. D&D began as a miniatures based strategy game called “Chainmail” and developed into the role playing game it is today. With little doubt, all gamers owe D&D and Gary Gygax a vote of thanks for inspiring the games we all love from “Warhammer” to Magic: The Gathering and every game of a similar flavor.

There have been lots of people who have trashed D&D over the three decades since its debut into the gaming world. Fundamentalist Christians call it demonic and satanic. Bullies and assholes have teased and picked on the “geeks” who play it. The original publisher, TSR, Inc. even had its own internal struggles with Gygax, who founded the company, was forced out via hostile take over in the early 1980's and then in the 1990's sold the rights to D&D, et. al., to Wizards of the Coast due to being over $30 million in debt. Since it's inception in 1974, D&D has gone through three and one-half editions/incarnations and a fourth edition is reportedly in the works and slated for release in May 2008.

Regardless of your opinion of D&D or any of the various other games that have been spawned as a result of its influence, I can say for myself that when I discovered D&D when I was thirteen it inspired me to appreciate literature, history and art. Rest in peace Gary; you've given millions of people enjoyment and a creative outlet for all these years and sparked our imaginations. Huzzah and Farewell, Gary Gygax! You will be missed.


For Additional Reading and Information go to:

(this is a supplemental blog; Sunday, March 9's blog, “So Many Books, So Little Time” is still planned)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Oysters Please!

My fiancée and I both enjoy seafood. However, her family, who we live with, absolutely hate it. So, whenever we want fish and seafood we have to go out to get it. This past Friday, we decided to do just that because I had a craving for it, and besides that we hadn't had a “date night” in awhile either and needed to get out of the house as a couple.

After a bit of deliberation about whether to go to Sandpiper Seafood or its sister location, Hudson Bay, Roxanne mentioned 316 Oyster Bar, which is only a stone's through from where we live compared to an across town drive for either of the other two. Having never been to the 316, we decided to give them a try.

We arrived at the restaurant, which derives its name from its address of 316 Owen Drive and the oyster bar located near the center of the restaurant, just before 6pm on a Friday evening. Naturally, since this is the south and “fish on Friday” is mainstay in the region even for non-Catholics, the parking lot was packed full and we actually had to use the overflow parking lot behind the Baskin Robbins next door. I was very hungry and the parking situation was not a good omen, but we decided to park the car and go inside anyway. I was further disheartened by the crowd of people waiting to be seated and just knew that we'd be waiting at least an hour (my stomach seconded the thought by grumbling loudly). I started to suggest that we try elsewhere, but Roxanne reminded me that it was a Friday evening and any place we went would have just as big of a crowd, so we decided to tough it out. I went to the hostess station to request a table for two; when asked if I wanted smoking or non-smoking, I requested 'first available' as I figured that would be better odds. The hostess then asked me if that included the oyster bar; never having been there before I said “Sure, why not?” and proceeded to step back outside with our vibrating coaster so I could have a cigarette. It was a chilly evening, so after about ten or fifteen minutes we decided to wait inside where it was warm. I no sooner opened the door than our coaster call began blinking and humming letting us know that they had a place for us to sit and dine. I was quite pleased with myself for letting the hostess know that my selection of “first available seating” included a willingness to sit at the bar as it led to a fifteen minute wait instead of my estimate of an hour. We were escorted to two open seats at he oyster bar itself and thus began our dining experience for the evening.

We began looking at the menu and I have to admit I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw the prices. I wasn't expecting a seafood combination plate of flounder, shrimp and oysters with a salad and choice of two side items to be $23.99 when a deluxe plate from Hudson Bay which includes deviled crab, fries/baked potato and coleslaw in addition to the above items runs about $10 less than that. So, we decided to share; I ordered the three item combination plate and Roxanne ordered two items off of the appetizer menu, namely the shrimp cocktail and alligator bites (yep, that's right, we had alligator and it was awesome!).

In a simple phrase, the food was incredible! The hush-puppies, which were served in a basket as soon as we were seated, honestly have to be some of the best I've ever had; bite sized and not the least bit greasy, I would've happily eaten them with the honey butter that accompanied them all night. Our salad and shrimp cocktail were served next. I'm not a big salad person, but I swear that was the freshest salad I've eaten at a restaurant. The shrimp cocktail was perfect; large juicy shrimp served chilled with 316's own blend of cocktail sauce that had a little kick to it, unlike other cocktail sauces which are usually very bland. The alligator bites, though they're on the appetizer menu, were served at the same time as the combination platter. Neither of us had ever tried alligator and we were pleasantly surprised. I was expecting it to be much tougher and have a more gamey flavor, but it was quite tender, about the texture of clam strips with a similar, if somewhat spicier taste. As mentioned above, we chose flounder, shrimp and oysters for our combination platter along with a double order of fries for our two side items. My initial shock at the prices subsided a bit once I saw the size of the portions and I have to wonder where they managed to find such large oysters and flounder fillets. Everything was fried to perfection although I should mention that they do offer the option of broiled instead of fried for you health nuts out there. I commented to one gentleman sitting next to me that I felt 316's fried oysters were the best I had ever had. He mentioned that he had just move to Fayetteville from Texas but that he was originally from New Orleans, so I was quite interested in his opinion once he was served; I'm happy to report that he agreed with my assessment.

Now, it wouldn't be a complete review if I didn't mention the service at the place, and I have to say, beginning with the fairly efficient way of handling their wait list to the very attentive server we had at the oyster bar, 316 Oyster Bar definitely gets a thumbs up from me, and I've pretty picky when it comes to restaurant service. We had a great server at the bar who was not only friendly and efficient, but was johnny-on-the-spot with keeping our glasses filled with Coke. He even brought us an extra plate, without us even asking, since he knew we were sharing the main course.

Yep, I'd say it's safe to say that we'll be visiting the 316 Oyster Bar many more times in the future. A quick Google search unfortunately didn't turn up a website for the place, but I did find a website announcing the restaurant's status as the's Reader's Choice Winner for Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2006. If you love good seafood, go there... that is all.

~ JC

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Layout and Things to Come

As my regular readers (not that I really believe I have that many) have probably noticed, I've done some tweaking to the layouts of both the MySpace and Blogger versions of my blog, beginning with the title. I also maintain (sort of) a website called "Carlisle's Chaotic Corner" and so changed the title of my blogs so that there was uniformity, a theme if you will, to my online presence.

For the MySpace folks, I dropped the background image to make the page more viewable and load faster, changed the font to Arial, moved the sidebar to the right (to make it more resemble the Blogger layout) and also changed up the color scheme for the links (also, to make it resemble the Blogger color scheme).

For Blogger, I removed the stupid "My Color is Blue" banner from the sidebar since it was to wide and added the "News & Information" gadget courtesy of Google Reader. I tried to add the Google Reader gadget to my MySpace profile, but Tom says that Java Scripting is a no, no, so sorry to all my MySpace readers; I guess you'll just have to check out the Blogger version of my blog to see it.

As for things to come, my good buddy Jimmy "The Deez" Calhoun, who is the owner of Jabberwocky Asylum has endeavored to write a blog a day (except Sunday). This has inspired me to attempt something similar, although I am going to attempt to post once a week to start with and see how it goes. So, like Jimmy asked for on his blog, I need some topics and ideas to spark my right brain hemisphere into flowing the creative juices.

Until next time,
~ JC