Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm alive! And well! And... working?

It has been roughly 4 months since my last post. A bit of a hiatus from the computer, and the Internet in general. I was mainly burned by the sudden and quick death of online poker, a passion of mine. As some of you know, I was gunning for a WSOP run in June, but was promptly shot down. Being a regular Joe, I can't afford a 10k buy in, plus hotel, food and expenses. I gave up on that dream until later in life when I can sustain a dream such as that, or when our government gets its head out of its big, liberal ass and chill out with the fucking regulations on everything.

"HTC Evo 4G torn apart, bad camera."
But with bad news, comes good news. After a lengthy term of unemployment, I finally caught a break. With the help of a close friend, we spruced up my ailing resume and I quickly applied for an interesting position with Sprint. After an initial scuffle with a less than friendly HR guy, I was contacted by an internal recruiter and offered an interview. After a week, 4 interviews with 7 different managers, I was offered an excellent position as a Technical Consultant. What do I do? Nerdy electronics stuff. Stuff I could only dream of. And I get paid! A lot! American dream, baby.

I have to say, I am impressed with this job. I've been a very happy Sprint customer for a little over a year and have had nothing but amazing customer service, amazing service coverage and an excellent device. Sadly, my area does not have 4G service yet. On a recent trip to Pittsburgh I was able to experience the screaming speed of Sprint 4G and was honestly wowed by the performance. My rooted EVO acted as a hotspot and provided an excellent source of internet while I waited a grueling 4 hours in a strange city for friends to arrive. I even managed to log in to EVE Online and do some mission grinding while I waited without a single hiccup.

As an employee of Sprint, I am incredibly happy with the attitude and leadership so far. From what I have seen, the company is truly trying to improve every day. Upgrading infrastructure, introducing new products, training employees on new technology. Even providing an advocate program for device testing at a store level! Everyone I've worked with has been incredibly friendly, willing to help and eager to make an impression on a new employee. The training is comprehensive and exhaustive, but in a way that leaves you with so much knowledge your brain hurts after you go home. My first week was nothing but sleep and Tyenol when I got home.

I am glad to be back to work. To finally have a use in this big, scary world. I am thankful for my time off. Not everyone gets a 1 year "vacation" from work. Let me tell you, it was no vacation. Many things were lost, many things were done without, and I let some people down in the process. I think it made me a better person having gone through such an event, and I'm glad for it. I learned a lot from my period of unemployment, my sacrifices, my loss, and finding out who my real friends and family are.

To anyone out there fighting the fight, don't give up. I was ready to toss in the towel. I was ready to enlist in the Army just to have some purpose to my life. While I still aspire to volunteer for my country some day, I'm glad I didn't this time. Keep struggling, keep fighting. The man who gives up never really tried to begin with.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Delayed posts; have been BUSY!

I have been stupid busy the past week or so. Nothing important is posted here, so I will leave you with this until I get the energy up to post a blog about my aspiration for the WSOP this year. Talkin' bout some LIVE PLAY BABY!

I don't intend for this blog to be political at all, because that is not what it's about. But as an American, I would like to share this with my fellow Americans.

This painting speaks words about the socialist fiend that is our president. In times of trouble, the naive and fearful are always drawn to the charismatic radical.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HAM: International Space Station

I awoke this morning to a cold, nasty looking day. Wonderful; a day in the house. Northeast Ohio weather at its best. I got up, clicked on my radios and started walking out into my hall and I hear the radio crackle to life.

"This is November-krrrkkssksk-Sierra, Inter-ksssssskksksknnkk, over."

ISS floating about 200 miles over our little Earth.
I stopped in my tracks; in the 2 years I've been into HAM radio I have tried so hard to catch the Space Station. I must have left my 1802 on the worldwide downlink frequency, 145.800MHZ, when I was tuning last night. I ran back to my desk, in nothing but my boxers that do not fit right, and sat down. I hurried and opened the ISS tracking website to find the ISS was directly over Ohio; about 217 miles up. I cranked my little 1802 up to 50 watts and switched antennas to my vertical discone and fired away.

"November-Alpha-One Sierra-Sierra this is Kilo-Delta-Eight-xxx-xxx-xxx, calling the International Space station from Northeast Ohio, over! Hello hello, calling November-Alpha-One-Sieraa-Sierra, over!"

And I waited. Nothing. I called again, and got a bit of static garble. Yes! It seems they were hearing me, but I was unable to get their response. I continued to call back to them for about 10 minutes, receiving garbled responses and faint static as I watched it slowly go out of range. Damn. I did a few calculations to find out the next pass, and it seems I will have a much better chance tomorrow at 11:22AM. After doing this stupidly complex math, I found a feature on the site that does it for me. Dammit.

Now, on to some geeky gushing. Am I the only one who finds this SO COOL that HAM operators can actually talk to the ISS? In years past, NASA and the ARRL have been collaborating and sending up shuttle missions with  HAM equipment so the astronauts could talk to HAM operators on Earth. The amazing part of it all is the fact that you can contact them with a plain 2-meter radio; usually a range of 100 miles or so on the ground. But with a simple vertical antenna and even as low as 5 watts of power you can talk to the ISS. They only use 5 watts to talk to us on Earth!

So, tomorrow morning I will get up and hope they decide to fire up the radio tomorrow. Sadly, with the new expedition and new astronauts, Col. Doug Wheelock returned to Earth recently. He was one of the most active astronauts on the radio, making hundreds of QSO's during his time on the station. The activity of the radio on the ISS has dropped significantly since he returned safely to Earth, so all we can do is hope they feel like talking to some Earth geeks tomorrow!

For those of you unaware, here is a good video showing successful contacts with the ISS by some HAM's. Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Poker: Pocket Kings

Never slow play cowboys. You don't win big by playing passive.
Every Poker player has that favroite hand. The hand they have won many games with, the hand that has never let them down. For most, it's pocket aces. For me? Pocket Kings, or the cowboys. In my personal opinion, all statistics and pot odds and all that crap aside, pocket kings are the strongest hand you can get. Sure, pocket aces are fantastic too, but I've never, ever won a hand with bullets. Call it pure coincidence, or call it bad luck, you can call it what you will. Aces have never proven to be successful for me. Now, with that said, aces are never, ever a hand you should throw away or slow play. A word I hate, but "statistically speaking", they're the best hand you can get. Kings are second best. Now, enough of the personal opinions on good and bad here.

Kings became my favorite after my first big score on PokerStars. I was into a small satellite tourney and it was the last table. Somehow, I had made it the 4 hours and countless players and was in it for a final prize of 5000$. I was under the gun and got dealt King of Hearts and King of diamonds. There were 4 of us left, so I decided now was better than ever and snap called all in. Being the biggest stack, I couldn't be sent packing even if I did lose to another hands. Surprisingly, everyone called. I got a cold chill, felt sick. Sure, I wouldn't get knocked out, but 70% of my stack is at risk. Not good, and also baffling. I said out loud, "How the fuck? why are they all calling?!" The whole point of going all in was to scare the strong hands out! Not in this case, I guess. They must have all had screaming hands. I knew one of them had aces. I'm done for, I thought. The hand went on, I nervously watched the flop come up. King of Spades, King of Clubs, and a 3 of Hearts. I got up and danced, and danced, and danced. The turn was a Queen of Clubs and a 10 of Hearts. I win with Four of a Kind and also manage to dish out 3 knockouts and 3 bad beats at the same time.
Ace-King is a fantastic hand too. Suited is even better.

Player 1: He had pocket aces. Ace of diamonds and Ace of Hearts. Knew that already.
Player 2: He had pocket queens. Queen of Diamonds, Queen of Spades.
Player 3: He had Ace-Queen. Not quite sure why he went all in pre-flop, but whatever. Living on a dream? Ace of Clubs and Queen of Hearts.

So, the end of the night, I walked away with 5 large... and promptly lost it all that night. 

What's the lesson here? Play hard pre-flop with any strong pair. Aces, Kings, Queens. Jacks are tricky, be careful, I would never be caught going all in pre-flop with a pair of Jacks. If you're in position with a strong pair, bet the pot. That will weed out the trash hands. If you get a call, place continuation bets on the flop. Play your opponent, this is why learning about your opponents is key. Snap call and bet fast. If you get raised pre-flop, you need to take caution. If I've noticed that player has played weak, lost a lot of hands and limped in frequently, I may raise all-in in that situation. Nine times out of ten, they will fold.

The key is to bet yourself as the strongest hand, but don't over bet and look like a bluff. This is often the trickiest part of playing Poker. Betting has as much to do with the game as the cards.

Once you start winning, never forget to cut your losses. If you lose your good streak and start losing, don't be the table Hellmuth. No one likes a Hellmuth. Get up, walk away, get some fresh air. Hell, quit for the day if you want. A great tactic for winning streaks is to cap yourself. Once you've won X amount, quit and go enjoy yourself. You can lose alot playing Poker on tilt, and in the most extreme cases, ruin your credit report due to excess debt. And remember, no one likes a whiny, bitching cry baby at the table. Like Phil Hellmuth. It makes you look bad, and makes you vulnerable. Keep your emotions to yourself.

I hope you learned something. If anyone has questions about Poker, please feel free to ask me. I love to help and would be willing to post more information and blogs about Poker. Good luck at the tables!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What happened?

What happened to music like this? I remember this song, brings back so many forgotten memories. I love how back in the 90's, all the music videos looked like they just rolled out of bed. Now, everyone has a fucking make-up artist, perfect hair, auto tuned voice. Fuck your new age, I'll take my 90's.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dealing with the public..

One of the cars I have the pleasure of selling every day!
So, being a Car Salesman grants me the wonderful task of dealing with the average, general public. When I was green in this field, it was at the so called "upswing" of the recession and people weren't scared to buy things anymore. But America, being the consumerist idiots we are, thought that put them in an excellent position to be fucking stupid and think we owe them something. It was nothing for me to get Billy Badass walking down the lot looking for a hummer H2 and then offering me 15,000$ for it as if that would fly. Excuse me dumbass, just because things are slow, doesn't mean I'm going to pull my pants down and lose my ass on a car. People do not seem to understand how COST works, so next time you're buying a car, remember this.

1. Dealer buys car from an auction such as Manhiem for $17,000

2. Dealer puts pack on car, ranging from 350 to 750$. This is non-negotiable. It is added to cost. To you, it does not exist. Do not even bother trying to negotiate this. It will not work. What is pack? Pack is guarenteed profit that the salesman is not being paid commission on. Pack is strictly for operational cost such as rent, electric, utilities, etc. This prevents the dealer from losing money and possibly going out of business.

3. Auction cars often are not in great shape; a good dealer will make a car right. So, add in service bills, cleaning bills and transport cost if it's a far away auction. These are COSTS to make the car RIGHT for you, the customer. Sadly, it's a double edged sword. If a dealer doesn't make a car right, and we sell it with issues, we get called scammers and we supposedly sell bad cars. If we spend the money to make it right, we get called price gougers and people yell at me all day because our prices are too high. So, short answer? If the price is a bit high, but the car is great, it's because the dealer cared enough about satisfying customers to fix it before it hit the lot.

4. After all that, we are still allowed to try and make a profit. We are a business, after all. Depending on how much cost we have in the car, we'll often mark it up right the market value. Why? Well, why not? Market value is market value. Why can't we ask a decent price for our product? Car dealerships are one of the only businesses in America were negotiating a price is common tactic. And often, a feared one. People seem to think all dealerships are in it for the money and mark up cars way too high. Every price is too much when it comes to cars. While it's true; we do like money, who doesn't? Do you think BestBuy isn't in it for money? Or Wal-Mart? Or even Goodwill? Our markup of around 15-20% is NOTHING compared to the markups I've seen at Wal-Mart. I spent 3 years as a manager at Wal-Mart, and saw the sickening markup on products there. (That's for another blog.)

While I'm not saying you should swallow the markup at the dealership, don't act like we markup to rip you off. Every business is entitled to a profit, just like every customer is entitled to a discount. Don't be a jerk about it, and your salesman will bend over backwards to help you.

5. Sales Manager games. Yes, they play them. Yes, we hate it too. Nine times out of ten, we want to just cut to the chase and make a deal as fast as you do. Cut us some slack, sit back, and we'll work for you. I hate nothing more than walking up to the desk and having the manager say "Try and get a 500$ bump out of them on the down payment." Can we not just make the damn deal? The ideal day would be to greet, drive, sit down, strike a quick deal, do the mountain of paperwork, and watch you drive off, satisfied. The games are annoying, but if you just get pissy and walk out, you aren't doing anything for yourself because all dealers play them. If you go to a dealer and they don't play them? They did, and you didn't notice.

6. Commission. It's a big mystery to the customer, but really, it's easy. New cars suck. There is little room to negotiate, and we have to worry about CSR percentages, and we only make about 100$ a car on them, aka a mini. Considering the average draw is 1600$, that means 16 new cars to break even and not get wrote up. Lame. Used cars are where the money is. With used cars, we make 25% of the gross. The gross is anything above the cost of the vehicle. So if the cost is $16,000, and I sell it for $20,000, I just made $1,000. Nice for about 2 hours of work, right?

It was owned by a little old lady.. who drove the shit out of it.
7. We don't want to bother you, we have to or we get screamed at. Everyone hates it; even I do when I'm out looking on my leisure time. You drive up, get out to look at that pretty new Camaro and bam, out of nowhere comes a salesman. He greets you with way too much energy, then pesters you with questions and tries to take you to the "perfect car". You tell him No thanks, just looking. They then follow you around, ignoring your request. You get annoyed and leave. Ever wonder why we do that? Pressure. At my last dealership, if I walked in and my manager asked me why I wasn't with that customer and I gave him the "just looking" excuse, I would get my ass chewed out. So when the guy follows you around, be nice. Humor him. And when he asks for a name and number, give him a fake one. We have to fill out sheets on every customer. We can't help it you gave us a fake one.

This kind of turned into a car guy rant/information post. Truth is, we have jobs just like you. Thank god my current position is nothing like the average sales job. I do Internet Sales and deal with really cool people every day with no pressure to take ups. Inquiring over the Internet for a car is probably the least stressful way of looking at cars. Alot less pressure, and often times you can negotiate a bit over the phone or email. If you have any questions for a car guy, shoot away. I can make this a common Q and A type deal, since the car biz tends to be mysterious to most. I can even include funny stories. Trust me; I've got quite a few.

In the end, nowadays, it pays to be a good guy when it comes to selling. You don't find many of the shiesters and sharks that were common in the 80's and 90's. Many have retired or moved on, unable to adapt. The Internet and social media has made it a different ballgame. We still have to sell, and we still want to make money, but it pays to be a good guy. Get that stereotype out of your head and give your next salesman a chance. I genuinely care about my customers being satisfied; and when I make a friend, I make a friend; not for the benefit of my check book. I've come to find out most salesman have the same attitude.

So with that I wish you all a happy Buying Season! Summer is upon us and that means more and more people will want to buy cars. Take this info and use it to your advantage come your next purchase!

Friday, March 25, 2011

HAM Radio; not just a hobby for nerds.

Yaesu FT-1802, one of the best 2 Meter rigs money can buy.
When I was young, I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics about the possibility of HAM Radios being on the space shuttles, allowing Astronauts to talk to us normal people back on Earth. I was completely AMAZED by this, but at that age, Dad would not let me near a HAM radio, instead pushing me towards other things such as cars. Well, it only worked for a few years before I was at a high school party with a good buddy of mine, and there was someone with an HT (Hand-Held Transceiver) standing in the corner just talking away. Memories of Popular Mechanics rushed in.. and I had the bug.

Yaesu FT-890AT, my favorite HF radio ever made.
Two years later, the HT guy is a good HAM buddy of mine and I have grown into a nerdified radio geek. I have received formal complaints from my neighbors for the huge antenna towers and, in their minds, the "danger of radio waves" as quoted in a letter I received. They still have not found a lawyer to represent them. Hah.

Something I have noticed is the misunderstanding of HAM radio. People seem to think the hobby is for mouth breathing nerds who think they're radio DJ's with no life. While, sadly, this is half true for most of the HAM radio community, it's also a service to the community.

Many HAM radio operators are the first to respond in times of emergency and disaster. Radio waves are not dependent on existing infrastructure such as phone lines and cell towers. In the event of major power outages. HAM radios are easily converted to battery power. I can have my radios running on car batteries in 5 minutes with no preparation. In major disasters such as Haiti, entire portions of the HF bands were reserved for emergency radio traffic. Many operators within the US act as middle men, forwarding messages to stations that were otherwise unreachable by the original station. Organizations such as REACT often perform drills and volunteer for local  events such as parades, festivals, and other major events and also act as communications and support in the event of a major disaster.

With that said, in the event of a major natural disaster in your hometown, look for the HAMs! They can still talk to the outside world.