Sunday, July 18, 2010

The 20 Yard Commute

You may have noticed I didn't post a blog last Sunday. For those three or four of you who actually read this blog, I apologize for that, but I was out of town and really didn't want to use the computer I had access to to write my blog since it wasn't mine. My reason for being out of town is actually more or less what I want to write about today. I spent, along with my beloved fiancée, house and dog sitting for my aunt and her husband (who is also my employer) the entire week from July 5 through July 11. It's sad that that was the closest thing to a vacation that Roxanne and I will likely have this year, but we got paid for it and it was nice to be out of Fayetteville for an entire week. But I digress.

House sitting for my boss did allow me to experience, albeit for only four days, what it is like to work from home. Since the shop is in the backyard of the house, I only had to walk out of the side door of the house, through the gate into the backyard and voila! I was at work. I whopping twenty yards or so. Compared to my normal 65ish miles that takes around an hour from Fayetteville to Garner1, it was a nice change of pace. The only bad thing, and it really wasn't all that bad of a thing, is that I found myself still waking up when I normally would have when at home. Considering that I was also watching two pit bull-terriers, it was helpful to have that extra time, but I still ended up getting tired of watching the same news stories loop on 'Morning Express with Robin Meade' and would end up getting dressed and heading out the shop at 9:30 instead of 10:00. Like I said, not really a bad thing, just a slightly annoying thing I guess.

So, this is what that experience showed me. Working from home is pretty awesome, but it can also be distracting. You would think I would have worked more hours since I was just right there and was not as anxious about having to drive home on I-40 and I-95. Interesting thing is, it's much easier to end up taking an hour for lunch instead of only thirty minutes when all you have to do is walk from the shop to the kitchen in the house and sit with your fiancee. You also end up realizing, hey, the TV, computer, whatever-book-I'm-reading, et cetera is just right there in the house and not an hour away and I'd much rather watch TV, read a book or play on the computer than make belts or dye, finish and wax holsters. So, in that respect, working from home can be a bit of a distraction too. Having pets and working from home is also a distraction because you find yourself thinking more about if they need to go outside or if they're tearing up stuff inside more when you're right there where you can take care of it.

Sure, it saved on gas and I really didn't have to get up as early (I did manage to sleep in a whole thirty minutes extra a couple of mornings), but I'm not sure I could pull off working from home everyday. I think I'd be to likely to constantly think of things that needed to be done like laundry or painting all of those pesky Warhammer models to be very productive with my work if I did work from home; out of sight, out of mind so they say. At any rate, while I certainly would not mind having a job that allowed me to work from home (aka, telecommute), I cannot guarantee I'd be as productive doing so as I would in a shop or office away from all the hobbies and things at home that could distract me from working.2

~ JC

1. That would be Fayetteville, NC USA to Garner, NC USA in case anyone was wondering or confused. Sometimes I do actually get the random reader who doesn't know me grin.
2. Now that I think about it, the fact that I wasn't actually working from home, but someone else's home is probably why I still got my work done that week. I didn't have all my stuff with me to distract me as much. LOL

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Flu Bugs, Painting Models, eBay, Smoke Juice, and General Mayhem

This week's blog is a pretty mixed up pile of commentary. It fits well the overall title of the blog actually. I've spent this entire past work week (Monday – Friday) at home with a lovely case of the Flu. Of course, this went over like a big lead balloon at work I'm sure. Not that there was a ton of stuff going on at work this week, what with the Independence Day weekend coming up and no shows going out, but there is/was a very large dealer order to be filled and I wasn't there to help with it. I spent the bulk of the week taking TheraFlu or NyQuil and sleeping. In between naps, I tried to keep folks abreast of my illness via Facebook and Twitter.

Prior to the week of sickness, I had attempted to start painting again in the form of Warhammer models. Being as that I could feel the sickness coming on even as early as Friday (6/26) and my nose kept running, it made painting rather challenging. I mean, try painting a 28mm detailed miniature while having to stop every few seconds to grab a Kleenex. To the left is an unpainted model next to the one I painted (a task that took me several days to complete because I didn't feel well enough until late Wednesday (6/30) to finish some of the details, hence the reason only one out of a few dozen has been painted). As you can see, I suck at painting. To give myself some credit, it's the first time I've painted anything like that in over ten years, so I actually did pretty good. Now I just have to nut up the gumption to try things like washes and dry brushing to bring out the minute details in the model. I never was all that good at either of those techniques, probably because when I was a thirteen year old D&D geek, I didn't even know those techniques existed. I always liked to look at pictures of completed models and miniatures and always wondered how they got them to look so vibrant. Well, now I know, I just need to learn how to do it myself. So, the one model I've painted is technically incomplete from a certain point of view – but I had fun painting it and I've got plenty more models in the one Warhammer boxed set I own to keep practicing on (it's not like I can't strip it and repaint it later after I get good at it).

Speaking of Warhammer, I'm afraid to admit that it's causing me to become somewhat of an eBay junkie. I'm not going overboard buying and bidding, but I do have about a dozen or more things that I'm watching at any given time. I've logged into my eBay account more in the last two weeks than in the last two years I think. Previously I was looking to rebuild my collection of role playing game books. Now I'm searching for deals on Warhammer 40,000 models. It's a good thing too, because I have to admit, the prices on eBay are tons less expensive than actually going through Games Workshop itself. Case in point, the “Space Wolves Battleforce” retails for $90 on GW's website, but I've found it for as little as $64 (or less) on eBay! Of course, I have to keep an eye on how much folks are charging for shipping else I'm right back to paying as much as I would from GW.

In other online ordering news, I finally decided to order some Johnson Creek Smoke Juice to try to refill my spent e-cigarette cartridges myself. Being as how most of my empties are menthol, and I really didn't want to find out what it would be like to mix flavors, I ordered a half ounce bottle of their Arctic Menthol smoke juice. At only about $10 (plus shipping) for a half ounce bottle, it's actually way cheaper than ordering the actual cartridges from Red Dragon which would run around $12 for four cartridges. The trick now is to figure out just how much to drip into the cartridges. To much, and it'll leak (and I'm sure that would taste just nasty) and to little would be like I never put anything in them at all. Of course, everyone else's opinion is that I should just quit smoking altogether. Naturally, that would be ideal, but until I can work on overcoming the nicotine addiction completely, I'll keep using the e-cigarettes as a way to reduce my actual smoking. Incidentally, for those of you who smoke – who do you find to be more obnoxious, those who have never smoked, and therefore have no idea how hard it is to quit, or those who have managed to quit and act all superior because they were able to and you haven't yet? Just curious.

In the general mayhem department, well, the flu causes just that. Being sick always sucks, but when it causes you to miss work when you get paid by the hour, it really sucks. When sickness means not even being able to read or write or paint or whatever else you enjoy doing, then it just makes the days you are sick seem that much longer because all you can do to pass the day is either sleep, or watch TV in a cold-medicine haze. Eating isn't enjoyable because you can't taste anything, and you feel like if you see another can of chicken noodle soup you're going to scream (which, of course, would hurt like hell because of the sore throat).

The other thing being sick slows me down on is job searching. I like my job – there's something about taking a shoulder of bull-hide and turning it into a bunch of quality belts or seeing it become a batch of gun holsters that's pretty cool. But it's not a career. With my fiancee actively searching for work in her field, now that she has her Master's degree, I also sort of need to have a job that would allow me to easily transfer. I've hesitated about filling out applications with places, like BestBuy for example, because of a slight sense of loyalty to my current employer (who's also my uncle by marriage) and also because of things coming up like Jury Duty that could interfere with things. Not to mention, I'm not really sure I want to go back into working retail again, but hey, that's what I know and what I'm good at; plus someplace like BestBuy could lead to experience in actual computer technician work while working on a degree and/or certifications in the Information Technology (IT) field at the same time. Anyway, I need to sort that out soon... very soon.

~ JC