Archive for August, 2011

The Road to World Conquest: Juicebox pilfering

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

So, lesson learned: We don’t park the Juicebox on the street in front of the house ever again.

Last night, I almost moved it back into the driveway next to Catherine’s Honda. Unfortunately, when it occurred to me to do so, I was already fading from the effects of the Benadryl that I’d taken a little while earlier.

When I woke up this morning and took Huck for his walk, I found that the car was unlocked. The glove compartment was open. Papers were scattered on the passenger and driver seat.

No damage to the car. But…yeah, stuff was missing. What they took:

* The Garmin GPS device. It was kind of wonky, anyway. I didn’t use it because the virtual keypad sometimes just didn’t register the touch of my finger when I tried to hit certain letters or numbers. It’s not too reliable. And the guy yelled “Recalculating” way too much. Good riddance!

* The iPhone charger/radio transmitter we picked up in Mobile during our road trip. This let me listen to iTunes over my car stereo while it charged the phone. It wasn’t perfect, but it was useful. I’ll miss it.

* The multi-socket power adapter. This let me plug in my iPhone, the Garmin, and Catherine’s Blackberry charger. I’ll miss it too.

* Size XL Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band souvenir T-shirt from the greatest hits collection that I picked up a week or two ago. I liked to let Huck lie on that when he was in the back of the car. Smelled like wet dog. I won’t miss it.

Things they didn’t take:

* The car title. Yay!

* The hub caps. Woo!

* The checkered silver and black tie draped over the back seat. Not my favorite tie, but glad it’s still around.

* The basketball on the floorboard. Apparently, my thief was just a gadget freak and not at all into fitness. I suspect he’ll pay a price for that in the long run.

This is the first time I’ve been the victim of a property crime since the 1990’s, when thieves stole my Honda Accord and took it joyriding around Tampa while playing death metal on my cassette player.

Welcome to Durham!


The Road to World Conquest: Crime may not pay, but at least it’s not extorting me like being a good guy

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m breaking the law.

My Alabama license plate expired at the end of July after we moved back to Durham, North Carolina. I’ve been trying to get new NC plates since we got here, but suffice to say that this has been…challenging.

Last week, I reported to the DMV with my old NC license plate, my Alabama car title (which I had just received after getting my Alabama plate in March), and a checkbook to cover the cost of the new tag. The amiable old man behind the counter looked up my license plate number and informed me that Wake County had a tax block on reissuing a tag. Apparently, I owed some money to the county from 2010. He didn’t know how much. Also, the system seemed to think that my GEICO car insurance had been cancelled, so I would need to bring in a Form FS-1, which I would have to request from the insurance company.

That day, I called the tax office and discovered that I owed about $6 somehow. Paid it immediately, removing the tax block. I called GEICO and requested the FS-1 so that it could be mailed to me.

Yesterday, the FS-1 form arrived. I had everything I needed!

This morning, I jumped in the Juicebox. When I got to the tag office, however, I realized that I had brought everything except the FS-1 form. Not to worry. Luckily, I live just a few blocks from the DMV. I drove back home, snatched the form from the box on the kitchen counter, and then made my way back to the mall.

The clerk this time was a kindly middle-aged woman with bleached blonde hair who took my old NC tag, my driver’s license, my GEICO FS-1 form, and my Alabama title. She started filling out a form on the DMV computer. Then she told me that because I hadn’t turned my tag in after moving to Alabama, and because the system showed my insurance as being cancelled, I would have to pay a $100 fine for driving without insurance before I could get a valid plate.

I’ve had car insurance the entire time. However, I shifted it to the state of Alabama after moving there.

“Can I make that fine go away if I can demonstrate that I’ve been insured the entire time?” I asked. “Because I have. My coverage never lapsed.”

“Oh, sure, you can do that,” she said. “You’ll need to get an FS-1 form from your insurance company.”

I pointed to the one on her desk. “Already did that, didn’t I?”

“That’s not for the right date,” she replied. “You have to get one that proves you had coverage on 1/22/11.”

“Really not making this easy for me,” I said.

“At least you’ll save the hundred dollars,” she said.

“Maybe,” I said. “Can I get a temporary tag?”

“Not without that form.”

“So maybe I’ll save $100, but maybe I’ll have to pay a fine for driving with an expired tag,” I said.

“I don’t know how much that would be,” she said. “I’m not a police officer.”

I checked the web. Non-moving violation fines like that can cost up to $500, but it’s probably more in the neighborhood of $150.

Now I’m back to square one. Gotta call GEICO again, swim through the bureaucracy, and snag a different FS-1.

It shouldn’t be such a hassle to try to be a good guy.

The Road to World Conquest: Distracted

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Three weeks without a new blog entry? Seriously?

I could understand this level of neglect for someone who has a job. But for one of the unwashed masses living off unemployment, it’s totally unacceptable.

What else have I got to do, after all? Watch soap operas? Those are all getting cancelled and replaced by infomercials. Take a walk outside? Don’t you know the terrible things that await people who try to cross in traffic? Or, perish the thought, look for an actual job? I’m really enjoying all this free time listening to Huck bark at squirrels, rabbits, joggers, fluttering leaves, wind, cracking asphalt, satellites in high orbit…

Actually, I’ve been plenty busy.

First, thanks to some very generous backers, the OtherSpace Kickstarter project was a success. So, next Thursday, a new story arc will start, underwritten by sponsors for the first time! We’re still looking for more OtherSpace sponsors, though, so if you’ve got a few dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to help enable my caffeine addiction, I’ll return the favor by putting your name in print and maybe sending you some OtherSpace swag!

Second, in preparation for the arc, I’ve been busily building a new grid on OtherSpace for the city of San Angeles on Earth, where most of the action will take place during the next few months.

Third, I’ve been looking for so-called “real jobs” in the video game, journalism, and public relations industries in the Raleigh/Durham area. No word back on any of these opportunities so far. Maybe they’re waiting until October to see how the fiscal quarter wraps up. Maybe I’m too old. Maybe I’m not math-inclined enough. Whatever. I’d just like some kind of feedback that provides either hope or closure.

But, you know, the Roy Neary part of my brain – the part that wants to build mountains out of mashed potatoes and chase UFOs across the country – that part doesn’t want me to settle for a real job.

That’s the part that made me go online and order a new magnetic sign to slap on the side of the Juicebox so I could drive around town advertising OtherSpace. It’s the part that has me reaching out to Triangle gaming enthusiasts and local colleges to build word of mouth. And it’s the part that, emboldened by the success of the Kickstarter fundraising effort, decided to add the element of tiered sponsorship and rewards to the new JTS website.

It wants me to do what I do best for a living. It wants me to finally turn what I’ve been doing as a hard-working hobby for 13 years into a serious paying concern that does more in the long term than just give me a little extra spending money. Here’s me telling the universe: I want to build something that can support OTHER people, not just me.

I think it can happen, especially if I work on building more local support in the Triangle area as well as continuing to promote OtherSpace throughout the Internet.

Meanwhile, I’m definitely hedging my bets. I spend a good part of my mornings looking through websites for job opportunities, each and every day, because it’s the responsible thing to do. But I’m also spending a good chunk of time simply promoting my project, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, this blog, or by slapping the sign on the side of my car while I drive around Durham on my way to the UPS Store, Southpoint, or the Duke trail.

I’ve also signed up with a freelance writing gig site, just on the offchance that I can land some quick-and-dirty/no-long-term-committment jobs.

So, all that stuff has kept me kind of distracted from the blog.