Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Half a Park, Half an Order, and Half-Expected News

Okay, I have several things to talk about tonight, all unrelated to each other save for the rhetorical flourish above. See what I did just there?

1. Half a Dog Park is Better Than None

Cayenne and Pepper and I went to Miko's Corner Playground as usual today, only to discover that a fence had been erected across the middle of it, blocking access to the southern half of the medium-to-large-dog enclosure. An elderly couple told me that this is an annual event; they close off half of the dog park, re-sod it, give it time to get established, and then open up that end while closing off the other end for the same process. I can't complain one bit about this. To be honest, the grass has been looking almost like a scattering of hay on bare dirt in recent weeks.

It does present me with a small problem. My usual routine is to walk around the (presumed) 440 yard track several times while the dogs sort of follow me around, dashing off frequently to chase other dogs, meet people, squat on the grass or smell interesting smells. With no sidewalk or track at the temporary fence, it's become difficult to do anything like that, especially since many of the owners congregate there, making navigation difficult. Ah, well, it will all be worth it in the end.

I did try sitting on one of the four still-accessible benches, but the dogs didn't know what to do if I wasn't moving. Eventually I stood around having a nice conversation about the dog park, dogs, cancer and the economy with a retired physicist and his wife. The dogs managed to amuse themselves with other dogs until it started to get dark. I'll have to start taking them out there earlier than 5 PM.

2. Half an Order Is Better Than None.

Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series arrived today from Amazon. I had pre-ordered it using my unemployment money debit card, and I don't regret or apologize for it one bit. This is going to be our leanest Christmas ever - John will probably count this as my only Christmas present - but I wasn't going to wait or do without. There are lots of other things I can't have right now - several Scalzi books, lunches out, new clothes and so on, and that's fair enough. After all, I am unemployed. I'm not pulling my financial weight. But Doctor Who is a lifeline for me, a joyous escape from my worries. I devoured most of the DVD extras tonight, all those deleted scenes and video diaries and so on, and they were great. If you don't happen to be a Doctor Who fan, mentally put yourself in my situation and then imagine the arrival of a box set of DVDs from your favorite TV show ever, packed with bits and pieces of stuff you've never seen before. It's fabulous.

There was also a Doctor Who-related book in my Amazon order, another bargain-priced pre-order which was originally scheduled to arrive tomorrow. It's essentially a series of emails between the show's head writer/executive producer and his journalist friend, fascinating stuff by all accounts. It hasn't shipped yet, and Amazon wants to know what I want to do about it. This book has been out for about two months in the UK, and what I ordered is the UK edition. So what I want to know is this: if I canceled the US order and ordered it from Amazon UK for approximately $2 more, would I get it any sooner? Who knows? I'm feeling a little guilty that I ordered it at all, but I had to do it. I just had to. I need to economize somewhere else now, somehow, to make up for it. By the way, friends, there will be no Amazon gift certificates from me this year. I'm sure you understand. Even John's Christmas stocking won't necessarily be full, for the first time ever. Nor mine, I imagine.

3. Half-Expected News Arrives About My Former Employer.

That's it. Either I'm a jinx or I'm very unlucky in the jobs I get, when I get one at all. First the travel agency business starts to go the way of the buggy whip (my longtime employer Worldwide Travel closed up shop this past summer), and then the mortgage industry crashes and burns (I was suddenly jobless when First Magnus went bankrupt in August 2007), and now this:

Beaudry RV files for bankruptcy protection

This is the company I've been calling Famous Vehicle Dealer in this blog, the company I worked for from September 2007 to May 2008. The fact that their financial problems just became public record means that I will no longer hide the company name. However, I have nothing negative to say about Beaudry, other than that I wasn't very happy there. It's hard to stay cheerful when it's obvious that your employer is struggling. It was not a question of mismanagement or anything like that. It's just that while I was working for them, gas prices rose to nearly $4.00 a gallon, and diesel fuel, which powers the high-end motor homes, cost considerably more than that. Who wants to spend $1,000 to fill the tank of a vehicle that gets 8 to 11 miles per gallon? And even now, as gas prices fall, it's unlikely that many people in this economy are spending $60,000 to $100,000 or more on a vehicle for which financing is increasingly difficult to obtain. Although Beaudry laid me off, I wish them well, and hope the bankruptcy filing and restructuring enables them to stay in business.


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