Sunday, 29 September 2013

Damian Reporting In

Just wanted to make a quick post letting everyone know that I'm still alive. Yes, I have worked 21 consecutive days so far with no plans of stopping. Yes they have all been a minimum of 9 hours shifts (except for my 6 hour ones on Sunday with my part-time job).

Again, I'm fine. Just a bit tired. I can't tell if I'm exhausted from work, the poor sleep, or working out. Probably a combination of all of them. I have a few interesting things going on that can be turned into full blog posts but I'm going to wait until they "ripen" a bit more first.

Damian out.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Disasters in Concrete

It's scary how fast things can go from calm to complete chaos within the span of half of an hour. This has become very apparent as I spend more time in job as a dispatcher for concrete. I can definitely see why some people would find this job stressful and why it isn't exactly the most desirable position. In fact, a lot of my coworkers wonder if I'm stressed out.

I'm not. I'm just very tired and haven't been sleeping well lately.

And someone keeps drinking up all the coffee in the office.

An example of this is Thursday. Everything is going well, sure some trucks are a bit late, but everything is going fine.

Suddenly we are informed that one of our 4 major plants has run out of a crucial material needed to make concrete.

In the middle of the day.

After a meeting about warning people about running low on supplies.

So now we need to run reroute all trucks and jobs out of the dead plant to our remaining ones. The trucks need time to travel to a working plant, load up, and travel again. This is A LOT of wasted time spent traveling. All the jobs coming out of that plant are delayed by an hour AT BEST. Remember, labourers are not cheap, and with some projects, they need a continuous flow of concrete, otherwise they need to rip everything out and redo it.

Later that same day, a different plant suffers critical computer failure. Concrete is unable to be produced for a different reason now. All trucks and jobs need to be rerouted AGAIN as we try our best to make the best of a bad situation. Slap another half an hour delay. My supervisor is losing his mind beside me as we try our best to deal with the disgruntled customers and our bad situation.

Also I forgot my lunch and had to eat a disgusting instant noodle cup from a vending machine.

Later on my Saturday shift it looks good. Everything is calm and serene. It looks like it'll be a quiet shift. Did you know that we also rent out trucks to companies to pump concrete? It's true. All we have to do is make sure the pump drivers are notified of their respective jobs, details, etc..

Then we get a phone call asking where the pump truck is.

No one told the guy he had a job to go to.

Normally, not such a big deal. Except this was for a major client. Who was working via a permit that limited how much time he could use workers. He would now be idling for at least 3 hours as we scrambled to get the driver onsite.

To make matters worse, this is one of those instances where it is partially my fault as a dispatcher. Even though I'm still a junior and I don't have the scheduling responsibilities yet, it's my job to catch little errors like this and stop them before they happen.

And this error is one of those mistakes that will cost the company tens of thousands of dollars, and quite possibly the client. It's these kinds of mistakes that can cost people their jobs.

I think I'm safe though. Still not looking forward to the "meeting" with my supervisor.

Oh. And then we had the day where I walk into the office. I notice that there are an abnormal number of trucks outside the main plant and my supervisor looks more distressed than usual. I ask why.

"Well Damian, it be because we currently have 9 trucks that are down to due mechanical errors".

Losing even one truck during peak season can result in people getting concrete half an hour late. Imagine what 9 trucks would do to us first thing in the morning. Imagine how that affects the rest of the schedule for the day.

"Oh and the reason why there are so many trucks out front is because the main plant has shut down. We had a major blockage with a special mix of concrete for a client."

Great, we now need to reroute trucks again. Find and use a plant that has the materials to make the special concrete, and apologize to customers for late deliveries. By noon, the main plant is back online and we have lost a dozen trucks in total (though some have been repaired and are back on the road by this point).

Oh, and for anyone curious, this all happened in the time since I made a post about my job. And these big events are littered with small events such as computer crashes, truck drivers getting lost, concrete being rejected by clients, etc. etc..

A lot can happen in a week.

Don't worry. I mean it when I don't get stressed easily. I'm taking most of these events as best I can, making the best of a bad situation. My lack of stress could be because I'm not as experienced or laden with as many responsibilities as everyone else yet, but I like to imagine I have a better tolerance for stressful situations.

In the meantime, it's another day of work tomorrow. I hope it rains. So many people cancel their concrete orders when it rains. Maybe it won't be a hectic day for once.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Project Jason: Initial Impressions

When my work hours suddenly spiked and adjusted into later in the day I grew a bit concerned. Up until that point I had been heading to the gym after work before heading home, making it just in time for dinner, and then collapsing in my bed.

But with these extended hours, I'd be making it back home around 9PM each evening if I went to the gym after work. So I decided that I would start going to the gym in the morning, and then driving off to work when I was done.

Clearly, I overestimated my love of sleeping in.


Unperturbed, I simply did the obvious. I went to the gym late. And I came home late. Problem solved. The fact that my family knew that I was working late added credibility to my fatigued body as I stumbled into the house.

I've been pushing myself. If I don't feel like a bruised meatbag the next day, I know I haven't done my job right. In fact, one issue that I've been having on leg day is that my calves and soles of my feet keep cramping up. This often forces me to cut my session short. Stretching only gives me an extra 10 or so minutes, I've eaten plenty of bananas for potassium and drank milk for calcium but this doesn't seem to help much either.

Anyone with any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Oh god I can feel my leg twitching in anticipation of a cramp just by thinking about it.

But for some positive news, I have gained weight. I know, some of you may be shocked or surprised or horrified. But for someone who has stayed at the same weight (or less) for the last decade, the sudden addition of 5-10 pounds is incredible. My body is actually changing.

I've also had an improved appetite and have been eating like crazy. And because I've been recording the amount of weights lifted each session I can see a definite improvement for each day. 5 pounds here, 10 pounds there, even double what I was initially lifting.

If only my progress reflected on my physical appearance.

Maybe one day.

They say that within 6 weeks of working out, you notice the changes. In another 6 weeks, your close friends and family begin to notice, and after 6 more weeks, everyone else notices. I've been working out since the beginning of August so I can definitely say that I'm following this outline so far.

Also, an unexpected outcome of working out has been improved posture. I had a terrible tendency to slouch due to my height. But I realized that even if I had a more toned body, it was all wasted if my back was constantly curved.

So I stand and sit straighter now too. More health benefits.

Now I can't tell if my back hurts from the gym or from sitting up for the first time in years.

I'm fairly proud of myself. This is one of the few projects that I've been able to consistently dedicate myself to regardless of obstacles.

I hope I can keep it up. I'd rather not stop at a mere 10 pound weight gain.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Weekend Shifts

I've been blogging about my new job a lot. Because my new job is pretty much my life. Because if I'm not working, I'm either at the gym, or on my own computer for a few brief moments before I pass out on my bed so I'm barely rested enough for the next day of work.

But it's all worth it when you see that biweekly paystub.


In my last post about my job (which was barely a week ago) I talked about how I was finally got around to be trained to do dispatch. I was being trained to literally babysit these truck drivers and when to send them out, how to work the computer programs etc. etc.. It wasn't that much harder than taking orders to be honest.

And then suddenly my supervisor approaches my desk. "Damian, you're doing fairly well. I'm bringing you in on Saturday."

Most people would cringe at the potential to work weekends. Not me. And so, I went in for my first full-time Saturday shift at my new job.


Yep. Time and a half. More than enough reason for me to sacrifice sleep and relaxation to head in to the office at 8 in the morning looking like a zombie. It was funny, because my coworkers (and my parents before I left the house) commented about how dead I looked.

Some of you may wonder why the money is important enough for me to do this. Well, if I took the day off, what would likely happen? I'd sleep in until 1PM (or later), laze about all day, playing video games and other goofing off activities.

OR, I can be productive at work, hit the gym on the way home, and make delicious, delicious money.

Money that is greatly needed to pay off debt.

Money, money all gone now.

Saturday was actually my first time day of working in dispatch as opposed to being trained. I had to answer calls, send trucks, answer the radio, and keep track of everything that was going on all at the same time. It got hectic at times, but I think I handled it well it enough. Certainly could have been worse.

But this means it's time to quit my fastfood job. After all these years, now that I no longer can work evenings or weekends it's time to end it.

Or, I can keep working Sundays.


Yeah, they almost never need people to work Sundays at my full-time job. Meaning I can keep my fastfood job, soldiering through 7 day weeks. Technically, I don't need to work on Saturdays either, but I've volunteered to take as many shifts as possible unless stated otherwise.

No, I don't have a deathwish or have I become a workaholic. As stated before, overtime is amazing but keeping my fastfood job allows for a bit more cash AND allows me to have some variety in lunches. I have abused that 50% discount far too many times for me to break away from it. Plus, I'm getting sick of microwavable dinners and my own terrible cooking.

As long as I have the evenings to myself, I should be alright I think. I just need to balance things carefully to allot enough time for my projects and sleep.

And if I end up in the hospital due to collapsing from fatigue, that'll make for a hilarious set of blog posts.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Project Raven: The Opportunist

Of my decommissioned projects, this was possibly the most questionable. While not illegal, it is morally questionable and if you don't like the idea of me taking advantage of individuals who probably need the money more than I do then you should stop reading.

Though in my defense, if these people wanted this money, they should have been more motivated to go and get it. But others would argue that these people aren't exactly in the greatest position to get said money.

I'd feel bad, if I wasn't in debt.

Before we get any further, what exactly am I trying to exploit? Scholarships. Free money for you to continue doing well in school. Sounds fairly legitimate. But despite there being hundreds if not thousands of scholarships out there, there's quite a bit of competition, especially for the more prestigious ones.

My marks are decent, but nowhere near stellar enough for anything worth putting on a resume or CV. And after hearing a few success stories from fellow classmates obtaining scholarship money they should NOT have successfully obtained, I began to wonder if I could replicate these results.

And from who? Native Americans. Or Aboriginals. Or First Nations people. You know who I'm talking about.

I can sense my followers questioning my sanity already.

The idea came into my head when a friend of mine mentioned a joke that was played on him in High school. Someone had signed him up for an Aboriginal scholarship, filled out the appropriate information and sent it in.

A few months later, my friend had received $5000, for a scholarship only worth $1000. My friend, being the honest individual he was, called the association to inquire about this unexpected money and return it. He certainly didn't qualify, he's 100% Caucasian and lived in the United States for a number of years (remember, this story takes place in Canada).

The Native American association insisted that he keep the money. All of it. Why? No one had applied for the scholarship for YEARS. In fact, they were accumulating so much of this scholarship money that they were starting to get taxed for it. So they were willing to give it out to whoever applied, regardless of who they were.

Well if you insist...

Fine. One instance of this event. Unlikely to ever happen again. Except later when I encountered another group of peers who had done the same thing. Again, Caucasian males, who successfully applied for Aboriginal scholarships. What made them special? These were scholarships for WOMEN.

Let that sink in for a moment.

This is how desperate these people were to get rid of this money. Because no one had applied to these, for ages, that anyone who so much as sent in an application was an eligible individual. There is no risk involved. The worst that happens is someone you don't know, rolls their eyes at this invalid application and moves on.

At best, you clear thousands of dollars of debt with 10 minutes of work.

Moral dilemma.

Some people would say this is a statement on the current status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. True. I would also argue that this a statement on the status of many students in Canada, who when presented with mass amount of debt, will consider unscrupulous ways to pay it off.

But unfortunately, I'm no longer a student. I have a full-time job now, with steady paycheques rolling in, and I'm removing my debt honestly.

Would I have tried if I were still going to school? Yes. I would have. And for anyone out there who wants to try, I'm certain there are similar associations who barely get applicants.

Let me know your results.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Moving Up

I think I've finally gotten into the groove of working at my new job. Wake up. Turn off the alarm. Sleep for another 10 minute. Get up. Get ready. Get stuck in traffic. Be a few minutes late (but no one cares). Sit down in front of a computer. Talk on the phone all day long and help people. Head to the gym. Go home. Internet. Pass out.

It's nice to have a routine. Well, a routine in which I get paid to be tired and deal with (occasionally) stupid people.

All the time.

For those unaware, I'm currently working at my new job at a concrete company. For the month of August I was pretty much being taught as much as I could learn about concrete, and then how to sit in front of a computer how to respond to the many clients who wanted concrete orders or modifications to their orders.

I was told I was learning extremely quickly. Maybe it was just because the last order person was a complete ditz who couldn't figure out the program but I picked it up within a week. Last week they unleashed me on the phones by myself and I've been fine every since.

Which is scary, because a single error can result in massive costs on our end. In fact, the other day, someone checking over an order I made brought to my attention that I had entered in a wrong concrete mix due to a 3 character difference. And had that order gone through, it would have cost the company easily $25,000.


So part of our training is to double check orders, and re-double check orders to make sure everything goes right. Nearly all the mistakes I make are simply due to being new and they're pretty much all caught or not costly. My coworkers are pretty nice about it, teaching and showing me how to do things properly without making me feel like an idiot.

And so for about 2 weeks I did this. Time goes by surprisingly fast, shifts disappearing quickly. I rarely have an idle moment and I don't mind. This job keeps me awake and conscious and that's not a bad thing at all.

But on the side, I was also being trained for dispatch. Meaning I would now be in charge of sending out trucks in the city, directing drivers, etc. etc.. It's more fast-paced plus I believe I get paid more to do so.

Being paid even more to sit in front of a computer? Awesome.

But the training for being a dispatcher slowly disappeared. And I resigned to sticking with being in Orders. But I was ok with it. It kept my mind active, I was still being paid well, and there's something rewarding about helping people all day. Especially when most are appreciative.

And then yesterday,  my supervisor suddenly pulls me away from my desk. Usually when he does this it's because he caught a mistake I made. Except this time I'm greeted with, "Damian, you're completely comfortable with orders now. Starting now, we're training you for dispatch."

Turns out, dispatchers do EVERYTHING on top of sending out trucks. No point of training me for it if I wasn't comfortable with orders yet. But it clear that I am proceeding far ahead of schedule. Especially since we hired someone new and I can compare my rate of progress to her.

Feels good man.

Well, we would have started. If my systems account didn't suddenly decide to die on me. So we start next week. My official dispatcher training will require me to work longer and later hours. But I get overtime so I'm not complaining.

But this means that I can no longer work at my fast food job during the evenings. I'm now occasionally working on the weekends and this will continue until my full-time job starts allocating me to weekend shifts as well.

As much as I'll miss the cheap food, I think it's time I finally move on. Plus, I make more doing 1 hour of OT than I would doing 3 hours fast food.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Projects Update

Current debt: Still $11,000

It's time for an update here! As many of you may be aware, my new job has taken up a lot, and I mean A LOT, of my time and energy. Like D4 said, maybe it's time to drop the projects and just focus on my job, I mean, there's a definite payout, and I'll have my time and energy for myself.

But in the evenings and weekends when I'm not working, I still want to be productive. I know initially the point of these projects were to find an additional source of income. Now, they've expanded into broadening my skill-sets, testing unusual theories I've found, AND an extra source of income.

With that being said, I realized within a week of working, I had to deactivate certain projects. Here's where each of them stand.

For some.


Project Derp:

Goal: $$$$

I can't give this one up. I don't think I ever could. Especially after all the work I've put into it. Also, the fact that it somehow manages to keep improving even I neglect it for weeks at a time. The traffic keeps coming in, in August we managed to cover 2/3rds of the monthly cost.

I just need to find a way to throw 50 more hours into this project and I think it'll be safe to go. Then I can finally make a post about the second phase and get started on the third phase. Yes I may have a job, but if I can have something earning me money on the side without anymore work, that would be awesome.

Project Vegas:

Goal: Travel

I was considering putting this project down. The original goal was to use the money gained from Project Derp to abuse the loophole for Project Vegas.

And then I realized, I have a decent job now with a decent wage. My disposable income has quadrupled if not quintupled. In addition, having a full-time job bypasses some of the earlier restrictions in the aforementioned loophole.

Give me a month or two to complete this one. Now that I have the money, all I have to do is play the waiting game.

And I can wait, I'm patient.

Project Pandering:

Goal: Learn and re-learn skills.

This one is surprisingly going better than I expected. Sure, I don't have as much time for it as I'd like to work on this one but still, any progress is good.

I've also taken the liberty of using my new disposable income to purchase some additional hardware for this project. Will I have the time to properly utilize them? We'll see. I hope so, would like to show some of my completed work in the future.

Project Jason:

Goal: Exercise

This is probably the only project that I have been consistently working at. 3 times a week, no exceptions. I generally go after work, work-out for an hour or so, and then head home under the pretense that I had to "work late today".

After 6 weeks of lifting weights I certainly feel stronger and I've noticed that I can lift a lot more weight than I initially could. I also look a bit more toned but no one else is going to be seeing me without a shirt anytime soon.

Hopefully more visible results will happen soon.

At least I'm not as bad as him.

Deactivated projects:

Project Pitch:

Goal: Improve writing/$$$$

This one is dead. I don't have the time, energy, or motivation to continue with it. At least, not for now.

Project Cold:

Goal: $$$$/Miscellaneous work skills\

Summer has ended, I have a full-time job. There isn't a way to keep going with this one EVEN if I wanted to.

Project copy:

Goal: Miscellaneous work skills

Nothing to report.

Move along.

Project Koi:

Goal: Dating

Still no new single girls. Going to keep being single for a long time at this rate.

Project Raven:

Goal: $$$$

Oh man, Project Raven. I'll do a post about this one in the future and about how you could do it. I know people who have gotten away with this and made thousands.You probably need to live in Canada to do this one properly but I'm certain there are variations of it in other countries.

And that concludes my project updates. Next month I'm just going to discuss new, active, and newly deactivated projects. And hopefully, when a full paycheque arrives I can make some progress towards my debt.

For the first time in a long time, my future looks bright, I have a sense of direction, I know what I'm doing, and I have interesting goals on the side.

And that feels good.