Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Up Early, Getting Worms

Today has been a crazy day and it is barely past noon. I had to get up early and take my mom to work. After dropping her off, I went over to the state board of education to see what I needed to do to get my Special Ed endorsement. After basically getting the run around by those guys, I headed over to BSU to see if I could have better luck with them and I hit a homerun.

The head of the special education department was a huge help and actually cleared his schedule to have a full-blown meeting with me tomorrow to figure out exactly what classes I need to take. He also gave me the name of a person in Meridian that may be able to find a spot for me in that school district. Finally, it feels like I got the ball rolling in the right direction.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick Post

I don't have a lot of time to type at the moment but I talked to that guy on Friday and after speaking with him, I am definitely going after a Special Ed job. Now, I am just filling out applications and trying to call the right people. The teacher I talked to seemed to think that I would most likely have a job by August so now I am just hoping he is right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Smart Decisions

Lately, I have been thinking about the future...a lot.

The job(s) that I have right now were good things to get me on my feet upon returning from Japan. In the long run, however, none of them are that great. The company that hires me to do the work with the autistic kids and the PSR work is an okay place to work for but my hours kind of suck, the commute to certain clients kind of sucks, and the lack of retirement packages and benefits kind of sucks. Essentially, I like the job but I hate the material things I am getting out of it. I could be working somewhere that pays me more and gives me some stuff so that I can plan for my future a little more.

Then there is the video game store. Let's be honest, the video game store is a crappy place to work but I do it because it is kind of fun and I like a couple of the people I work with. There is zero future there and it is basically a hobby for me. To top it off, I seldom play that many video games and the games I buy are few and far between. I like the job because of the discount I get on games but I have yet to buy anything there so what is really the point, aside from the extra little bit of cash it gives me?

So where does that leave me?

I have a few options. First, I could go back to school. The upside there is that I like school, I can meet people, and I can make myself more appealing to employers. The downside is that school costs money and I can't work as much while I am attending classes. This means I would need student loans and some form of income that could sustain me. I hate applying for loans and I am not sure what job I could do that I could live off of and go to school.

The second option is to apply to every school district I can and basically say to myself that I will move to wherever I am hired. While this increases the odds I get a job, it also increases the odds of me moving somewhere I don't particularly want to. It also means I get paid less if the job is in some nowhere town.

Option three, while appealing is probably not the best idea and that is to pack my bags again and this time, go to China. This is something I think about daily. Part of me really wants to do this but the other part of me wants to stay put and figure my life out. I needed to go to Japan, I don't need to go to China. Not now anyways. If I were to pack up now, I would essentially be delaying the start of a career. China would be fun but it really wouldn't do anything for my future.

This leaves the last option and most likely the one I am going to take. Special education. The benefits of being a special ed teacher by far and away overshadow the two things that I see as being a downside. The two downsides would be that I would be teaching history and that I don't feel my calling is to teach special ed. While I don't consider special ed my calling in the education profession, I do not think this will keep me from doing a good job at it. I have had a taste of what it will be like from my current job and it isn't too bad. Other things I am taking into account are the benefits and retirement. The pay for special ed is higher than that of a normal teacher. Special ed teachers are needed just about everywhere. Special ed teachers get the same holidays and vacations as regular teachers. I would have fewer kids to worry about and those fewer kids would be able to get more of my attention. I would have less homework and finals to grade come test time. And lastly, I would still qualify this as a job to get the ladies. Also, I think it would at least get my foot in the door so I could teach history some other time or maybe part time.

Having decided this, on Friday I am going to talk to a special ed teacher for a high school in town and see what he knows as far as when and where would be the best time for me to jump in. While I am not special ed certified, I have a teaching certification and experience in the field. This means that I could be approved to teach it on an emergency need basis. I have even heard rumors that some schools will then pay for me to get the special ed training and certification that I would need. On top of it all, if I choose not to stay in Idaho, special ed teachers are in need pretty much everywhere and so I would open some doors as far as that goes.

Kind of along the same lines as far as future thinking goes, if I am going to try to stick around here and teach for a bit, I have been passively looking at houses. What is funny is that the houses I have been looking at are in the same neighborhood as my brother and his wife are probably going to be moving in to. Did either of us know this, no. But it would be cool to be able to live next door to my brother, that would be fun. Of course, the housing situation is largely reliant upon the job situation so for now, the house hunting is premature but still kind of fun to do.

I guess it all comes down to me being sick of treading water, which is what I have been doing since I have come back from Japan. You might even qualify my last year in Japan as treading water but I wasn't done with what I set out to accomplish there and therefore, I didn't want to come home. I came home when I did because I had accomplished all I wanted to get out of Japan and a little more. I am just ready for the future and in feeling more ready, I have felt a tad younger. I have been working out at least every other day at a gym and that is also helping. I can go for eight miles on an elliptical machine in half an hour so I must not be too old yet.

I think for a long time, I was waiting for stuff to fall into place and maybe that was part of my reasoning behind going to Japan. I just wanted luck to take over and put me wherever. What I have found is that luck can only get me about $25k a year without benefits and no future so now I need to take a more hands on approach to my life and maybe make it a bit more how I hoped it would turn out on the first try.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bored In A Video Game Store

You would think that a video game store would be a fun place to work at but, as I am learning, it isn't so much.

Things I have done today:

1)Drank my iced mocha.
2)Wiped down some TVs and glass cases.
3)Read a video game magazine...boring.
4)Played some video games...boring.
5)Studied Japanese.
6)Talked to one of the store's owners.

Notice that nowhere in that list did I mention, "help a customer". This is because in the two hours since the store has opened, I haven't had a single one. Not a single freaking person other than the owner and myself has walked through the doors.

I was hired to increase sales because I am some kind of a "sales god" but it is nigh impossible to sell stuff when there isn't a single soul coming into the store. If I were the owner of this place, there is no way I would keep this store open when the other store does much better and has a more positive vibe going for it. I have a feeling that if something doesn't happen in a month or two, they will start to think the same way. All I know is that I am going out of my mind from the monotony of listening to video games chirping and no one to talk to.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I dread taxes. Yesterday, I finally got mine sent in and that was a pain. Unlike most of you guys, living in Japan has given me some special circumstances to deal with. Special circumstances means paperwork that even the IRS people weren't totally sure how to feel out.

The upside is that I am basically exempt from taxation this year from both state and federal entities. The downside is that I am not 110% sure I filled out all of the paperwork correctly. Either way, it is done now and I am reasonably certain is is done correctly so I am happy.

My question is this: If Peppy Kids Club knew I was going to have such a pain in filing this year, why could they have not helped me, because I am sure I am not the only American that has ever had to come back to the US and file a tax exemption? The IRS guy said that almost all overseas companies help you out with this. Not Peppy Kids Club. The other thing that irks me is if the US government expects EVERYONE to file some sort of return, why can they not word them in plain English so everyone can understand them. Yes, some CPAs would be out of a job but is the government here to serve us or a gaggle of accountants. Don't tell me, I think I know the answer.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Video Game Store and I

I have mentioned on here a couple of times that I am working at a video game store now kind of as a fun little hobby. Well, yesterday I was officially hired. The kicker is that there were several key things I didn't know about this place:

1. I am the most educated person that works at either of the stores and this includes the owners.

2. I have more sales and merchandising experience than all of the people in the store combined...this also includes the owners.

3. I am the oldest person working at this store...other than the owners.

What does all of this mean?

Let's just say I got the job. Oh yeah, I also have one of the stores to kind of use as my sandbox and figure out how to increase sales and traffic into the store. I have been hired as a "leader" of the store which means that there are really only two people I answer to and I have three people that now pretty much do my bidding when I am around. So much for this just kind of being a hobby job that I go to and relax.

So tonight, I went into the store and started looking at different things that could be done right off the bat to give sales a quick boost. There were two areas that my boss and I tackled tonight that I think will help tremendously. First, we created a bargain bin of really crappy or old games, marked them down and placed it right in front of the door. Anyone that comes in is going to see the stuff and so hopefully we can sell some of it. The second thing I switched up was the placement of newer games in hopes to attract peoples' attention as they come into the door. It was at about this time when my boss realized that I actually do have some experience with this kind of thing thanks to 7.5 years of Costco and told me he liked what I was doing.

Toward the end of the night, my boss and I were both busily sorting and alphabetizing games when out of no where two cops burst through the front doors, poised to shoot someone. After both my boss and I fervently swearing we worked there, the cops told us that our "stick up" alarm had been pressed and they thought there was a robbery in progress and came to thwart any would be criminals. This was obviously not what was going on.

So now the cops are wandering around the store and my boss is on the phone with the owners trying to sort everything out. One cop walks passed my newly placed bargain bin and exclaims, "Wow! These games are cheap!" Yes, yes they are; it is like those games are there for a reason....hmm. He immediately finds one title he wants and I tell him he should find another one so that he can utilize the buy two and get one free special we have on those games. After a few seconds of looking, he hasn't found a game that sparked his interest so I decide to suggest something.

"How about Grand Theft Auto?"

The cop's eyes lit up and he said, "Do you have it for the Playstation 2?"

"Yes, I do. And this is the Grand Theft Auto with the badass 80's soundtrack too."

"Sweet! I'll take it!"

And this is how I sold Grand Theft Auto to two uniformed police officers who had originally come into my store looking to stop a crime.

My boss gave him another game he was looking for as his free game and with that, the cops decided that they didn't need to fill out any paperwork for the incident, which meant that we didn't have to pay a $25 fine for the false alarm. All is well that ends well in video game land.