28 June 2011

Financial Aid - Done and Done

I suppose I could make this post into another epic story, but I won't. The last couple months I have had some real issues getting my financial aid taken care of for my summer classes. Apparently, my financial aid form got misfiled or something, and so I wound up with $3400 in past due tuition balances and no financial aid to cover it all. After a very long, drawn out battle with U of A's financial aid department (think the 6-race battle from "The Hobbit"), I finally can announce that it's all sorted out. (Yay!)

That means that I'll be getting a $2600 loan refund after the amount that I've accepted to pay for tuition, which will help pay for my 5-day course in Tucson next month for my Preservation class. I'm looking forward to that course, which will explore the history of bookmaking and some of the techniques and issues involved with trying to preserve information for future generations. I checked into the syllabus, and it looks like it'll really be a fun class, if not work-intensive.

Right now, I'm enrolled in (and about halfway through) my Ethic for Information Professionals class which is examining ethical theories and applying them to LIS (library and information science) issues, like porn in libraries, fines and fees, PATRIOT Act requirements, etc. It's all kind of stuff I have heard of before, but a more in-depth study. Not uninteresting, but so far I'm not seeing how the class is beneficial to my studies. At least the professor is much more organized than my last one, which is very nice.

Also, aside from school, I have a couple fun updates: Dad, Scott, Scott's dad, and I all had a great time at the Father's Day game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox at Chase Field! We sat one row behind the D-backs' dugout, and though there were no foul balls and the D-backs lost the game, we enjoyed the time spent and I even got the warm-up ball from the first three innings from 1st base coach Eric Young after the top of the third! I'll post some photos from the game soon.

No word back from Iron Mountain, Inc. yet. Still job hunting.

Tonight one of my favorite authors, James Rollins, who wrote Subterranean, Deep Fathom, Map of Bones, and a whole host of other awesome suspense/action novels is coming to The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ tonight to sign copies of his newest novel, The Devil Colony. It came out a week or so ago, and Rollins is on a book tour to promote it! I am so happy I found out about it in time to go tonight! If you're also going to be there, and want to meet me, the fabulous author of this blog, say hi! (I'm kidding... my ego's not THAT big!)

26 June 2011

Anonymous Help

Hey out there in Bloggerland... Been a while since my last post, and I have NEWS! Earlier today, some anonymous baseball fan posted a comment on my post from February 16, 2010 about the four autographs I could not figure out on this Team USA-signed baseball from the 1998 Japan All-Star Series:

 Remember? I had four signatures on that ball I simply could not figure out, and my not-too-awful research skills were fruitless in providing me with any help. I wrote to Major League Baseball, Japan professional baseball, baseball research groups, and got no help with that year's team rosters or information on that series of games AT ALL. But now, thanks to my anonymous friend, I can announce that I know who three of those four signatures are from!

Cookie Rojas:
 Leo Mazzone:
 Rich Dauer:
This signature still eludes me... there is speculation it's from Manny Ramirez or Chan Ho Park, but after I compared it with online exemplars from those two players, I seriously doubt either one of them signed this:

UPDATE: Speculation abounds that this may be Mike Jackson's (Michael Ray "Mike" Jackson) autograph. I have evidence that he did pitch in relief for Team USA in 1998 as the set-up man for Trevor Hoffman, but I cannot find a decent exemplar auto of Jackson to compare this one to. Anyone have a good photo out there?

DOUBLE UPDATE: I have received definitive proof that this autograph is indeed Mike Jackson's:

If you know whose signature this is and can provide proof, I will be greatly in your debt!

All told, this means that the signatures on this baseball are of the following players:
Manager Mike "The Human Rain Delay" Hargrove
Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone
Coach Cookie Rojas
Coach Rich Dauer
Sammy Sosa
Carlos Delgado
Rick Helling
Trevor Hoffman*
Greg Vaughn
Dan Plesac
Javy Lopez
Tom "Flash" Gordon
Kevin Millwood
BJ Surhoff
Billy Wagner
Jason Kendall
Garret Anderson
Nomar Garciaparra*
Jason Giambi
Devon White
Curt Schilling*
Brett Tomko
Damion Easley
Al Leiter
Jamie Moyer
Andruw Jones
UPDATED: and Mike Jackson

Thanks to all who helped me figure this one out! It took 18 months, and it's very satisfying to have a definitive resolution!

09 June 2011

Iron Mountain

There are so many things I could be blogging about today, but that I am not going to. Anthony Weiner's Twitter "scandal," the wildfires burning in my home state of Arizona and devastating the wilderness between Hannigan Meadow and Greer, the recent incredibleness of the Diamondbacks (and their current 3-game losing streak), or my school summer financial aid runaround stupidity would all be poignant topics for this blog. I shall resist those temptations today.

Instead, I want to post an update of my recent job searching experiences. The backstory: my brother's lease on his apartment at his college is up in July, so he needs to find a new place. I want to move into an apartment as his roommate so we can split rent. Win-win situation. All I need is the job so I can pay for an apartment, so on Tuesday I went out to the area around where we want to live to pound the pavement and collect applications.

However, after the first few locations I stopped at all told me that I needed to fill out applications from their websites online, I came up with a new plan. I started from the apartments we'd looked at and went up to a couple miles north, south, east, and west of there and wrote down the name of every business that I would care to work at in order to be able to come home and just fill out a plethora of applications all at once. I found that, among other things, there are six banks, five hotels, a CVS, a Walgreens, a Target, a Fry's, a Costco, a military complex, a public relations firm, a Harkins, a Wal-Mart, an IHOP, an Applebee's, at least 15 lawyer's offices, four CPAs, and a slew of other places I don't remember off the top of my head. Oh yeah, and a little place called "Iron Mountain, Inc."

If you've never heard of Iron Mountain, Inc. before, I wouldn't be surprised. My readers on this blog tend not to be the type of people who would use their services yet. From their website: "Iron Mountain is a world leader in information management services, assisting more than 140,000 organizations in 39 countries on five continents with storing, protecting and managing their information." The company is a Fortune 500 corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange (and doing pretty well from the start of the company's shares on the NYSE). Here's a short list of services that Iron Mountain offers: document managing solutions, digital archiving, online backup, records management and storage, secure shredding, data backup and recovery, records management compliance, and film/sound archiving.

Sound familiar? My information science master's program is all about preparing us for work "concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information" (from the Wikipedia definition of Information Science). Add in the classes I plan to take in archivism (document storage, care, and preservation and digital information storage and preservation), and this company is something of a match made in Heaven! And within walking distance of these apartments!

So Tuesday night I searched their job listings, and found three positions I feel qualified for in their warehouse (two openings for "Records Center Specialists" and one for a part-time "Operations Service Specialist/Warehouse") which I promptly applied for. I wrote a tailored cover letter and everything! Suffice it to say that I would really love to get a job there... it would be ideal for my degree, for the experience I would get from it, and it would be close to "home" if we got that apartment. Now begins the waiting game while I fill out other applications. I hope they call!

06 June 2011


Karma: the mystical nature of the Universe that provides cosmic balance between good and bad. I guess it's something along the lines of Yin and Yang, but either way, I seem to notice it from time to time. You see, I've always been what one might call "lucky." I tend to be that guy who enters contests and raffles and then actually wins them. But then in a show of cosmic karma, I also am that guy who's been essentially unemployed for three years.

This is how my weekend went. Friday morning I got up with every intention of going job hunting in Phoenix near a place my brother and I would like to share an apartment. I got up, showered and shaved, put on my job huntin' clothes (slacks and a nice polo shirt), and went upstairs to print out a few copies of my resume. Sadly, sometime over the course of the past 36 hours, my father's computer (the only one in the house with a printer) had utterly crashed. I'm talking total annihilation of anything on the hard drive. It was an annoyance to be sure, but I figured it was workable. After messing with the computer for about a half-hour, I gave up trying to fix it, and decided to go to the library to print my copies out. It wouldn't be nice paper, but for retail it was at least something.

So I drove to the library, went in, and I couldn't get on the computers. Apparently I had a fine from my sister borrowing my library card and then failing to return her books on time. The system locked me out until I paid the fine (and renewed the card, which they are now making people do annually). I was... how do I say this... displeased(?) at having to shell out $30 in fines and fees just to print out 10 copies, but I needed the resume, so I did it. Finally, I got on one of the computers and opened my email. I had emailed the file I needed to myself for convenience. But wouldn't you know it? The library for some reason could not download my file from my email to the computer so I could open it! At this point, I was becoming frustrated. I'm not an IT guy or a troubleshooter. I didn't know what was wrong, but I also wasn't yet willing to give up with one more option left to try. I opened the resume file in Google Docs. It came up as a picture file, and to be able to print it as a document, I first needed to enable it for editing. I clicked "Edit", and guess what? "This file cannot be opened for editing on the Library computers." AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Now I was finally officially unhappy. My only final resort was to print the file as a photo directly from the Google Docs screen, which I did. It cost me $0.20 per page for a total of $2.00 for ten copies. I assumed there'd be a web address at the bottom of the page, but I didn't care. It was manageable. When the printouts came through, they looked AWFUL. The type was miniscule, blurry from being printed as a photo, and the margins were all screwed up. I calmly shut down my computer terminal, took my copies, and went back to my car. And I lost it. Something as simple as printing out my resume should not be that hard to do. All my financial worries and job-hunting stress came rushing out of me as I sat in the car in the library parking lot. At first I was laughing at myself almost hysterically at the absurdity of the situation, and then I was unable to hold back a few tears as my muscles tensed up.

I was done for the rest of the day. I went back home, and immediately went down to my room where I contemplated the insanity of the situation and how much I was surprised that such a small thing as not being able to make a few printouts had caused my depression. Looking back on it, it still seems absurd. To get me out of my funk, my parents suggested I tag along with my siblings, who were going to see "X-Men: First Class." I accepted, but despite losing myself in the movie for a couple hours, when I got out of the theatre, I didn't feel all that much better. (The movie was so-so, but I think if I saw it again when I was feeling better, it would be a better movie.)

Saturday, I had my tickets for the Diamondbacks game. I slept in for a while, so I missed going to my card shop like I usually do on Saturdays, but I used my time productively when I did get up, finishing a poster for the game, and getting ready. While I had invited Ryan to join me, he was unable to come (something about work being more important than hanging out with me... haha) and so I went alone to the game. I got there about 2:00pm via the light rail, and was somewhere around 30th in line as a season ticket holder. I like going there early and getting in early (and yes, I am a season ticket holder this year) so I can try to snag baseballs during batting practice.

When you first enter the stadium, the one thing every "ballhawk" does first is check the outfield seats for "Easter eggs" - balls that are just sitting there from BP before the stadium opens. If you're not first in line for this, you can kind of kiss finding an Easter egg goodbye. But even at 30th or so in line, I managed to find one that the 20 or so other people in the outfield roaming the seats had missed just sitting in the 20th row of one of the left field sections. I gave out a little "woohoo!" when I found it, and tucked it in my backpack for safekeeping. About 5 minutes later, a high fly ball came and landed on the warning track right in front of a guy in a red shirt, bounced up at him, and when he missed it, I was right there to make the catch for my second baseball of the day. Another moment later, a high home run ball came my way. I ran towards it, but I knew I wouldn't be able to get there in time. Thankfully for me, the ball clanked off another fan and bounded my way, and I was able to snag it. That was a new personal record for me: 3 baseballs at one game! Sadly though, that was all I got. I really wanted to go for five, and I had a chance on one other ball, but I ended batting practice with just the three, one of which I gave to a little kid with a glove who didn't get anything (and whose mom was very nice to me while I was running around trying not to get in her way as she was taking pictures of the kid). He seemed happy to get a ball, and the mom thanked me. (I like being nice...!)

Apparently, karma wasn't satisfied with making up for my really crappy Friday with 3 baseballs during BP though, because in the 3rd inning break of the game, I won big time! The Diamondbacks do a "Fry's VIP Rewards Giveaway" at that time during the game, and one lucky fan who holds up their Fry's rewards card gets picked by the DBacks' event staff to win a prize. Well, I grabbed my card, stood up and waved like an idiot, and immediately saw a guy with a camera streaking down into my section. A "Rally-Back" (one of the gorgeous DBacks' in-game entertainers) came and stood beside me and pointed at me as if to say "is this the guy?" At that point, I knew I was the winner! They showed me on the scoreboard, and gave me two tickets to All-Star Sunday (the XM Futures Game and Celebrity Softball Game) next month! I was so stoked I couldn't even finish scoring the game - I was texting people and updating Facebook and Twitter.... Social media user that I am.... Haha. It was awesome, and for the rest of the game, I kind of just sat there watching the action with a goofy grin on my face. Ah, karma.

Apparently, though, karma decided I was TOO happy about that, because I also got a ticket on the way home. But not for speeding (as I am sometimes wont to do), and not for aggressive driving, broken taillights, cracked windshield, or any of the other things people normally get pulled over for. No, I got a ticket for "failure to dim headlights." I was driving on a very dark road (no streetlights), and some moron blinded me with his brights. I flicked mine to get him to turn them down, but he didn't. So I flicked them again, a bit longer, and he still didn't respond. I could not see the road ahead of me, and I also could not see the Sheriff's officer behind Mr. Bright Lights who turned around and pulled me over and cited me for "getting into a headlight jousting match with oncoming traffic." I have no tickets on my driving record, nor any other infractions, but he wouldn't give me warning. I believe the ticket is kind of bogus, to be honest, and I'll go to court and explain the situation. Hopefully I can get it dismissed. If not, c'est la vie. It's karma.