Monday, March 31, 2008

What can brown do for you? Sara

So we left off with me learning the ropes on Pen 9 and trying new techniques. Everything on Pen 9 was moving along nicely. I couldn't complain anymore, as long as everyone showed up to work it was going to be a nice day. Walk around talk to old friends and new ones. Since Pen 9 was on top of Pen 8 I would always see their pick-off Sara.

Now females at UPS were very rare. It is a very hard job to be an employee there. Whether it be the work or just dealing with the guy attitudes. Anyway, Sara was a funny girl always in a good mood, unless the missorts were high. I can still see her yelling at me to fix the missorts in the back, even though I wasn't there anymore. All she wanted was for me to get on my radio and yell at someone.

Her boyfriend worked on the same belt as her. He was a solid employee. When I needed something I just called him and he would do it. Phil would get mad that I was stealing his workers, but they never got backed up.

They were two of the most reliable employees I ever saw there. They were responsible and always thought of others not just themselves. That's pretty big considering they were in their early 20's. They were what you thought of when you said UPS.

I still remember coming in that Monday morning when Shon was waiting for us. He told us how Sara had died over the weekend. It was a shock to me. I couldn't believe someone who wasn't even 25 could have died. I just saw her on Friday smiling and joking around with everyone. Apparently, her and her boyfriend were at a wedding reception (made it worse I suppose), when she started complaining of chest pain. Next thing she collapsed. I never found out how she died or why. But did it matter? 20's gone.

Her boyfriend took some time off and I remember seeing him when he returned. I simply asked how he was and if he needed anything. He was trying to be strong, but I could tell it hurt bad.

It was surreal to walk by that pick-off everyday and realize she was gone. It hit our pens pretty bad, unfortunately the world kept spinning and we had to move on.

Tags explained

Ok so what I am trying to create here is a blog that everyone can follow. For that reason I am "tagging" most of my threads. Most of you have noticed, now let me explain them.

Spotlight: This is the one that started it all I guess. These posts will spotlight the artist/genre of the week. I will try to post videos of the songs and my playlist for the week.

What can brown do for you?: Turning out to be my favorite posts actually. These will focus on my 5 years at UPS. I am trying to go in order, but I won't be able to stay linear forever.

Venting the Anger: Just me complaining about something...usually school related. But seriously, anything...comic books, tv, movies, name it I will give my opinion.

Thoughts Without Words: Similar to Venting the Anger, except I try not to get to upset. Just share my thoughts on a specific topic.

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: anything related to T.V. Usually, I talk about my favorite show and why. Maybe even throw on a video from Youtube or somewhere else.

That's where I am at. As for the titles, most are song titles. I liked the songs, so now I use them as titles. Obviously, my UPS one is the old slogan. It was either that or Moving at the speed of business. I didn't like that this one has brown in it which makes you think of UPS.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spotlight: Megadeth

ok, I am in the middle of giving my thoughts on Megadeth, so I won't be too long today. Let me say that the first part of Megadeth's career (pre-Risk) was filled with thrash classics. Most fans will tell you that KIMB, Peace Sells, SFSGSW, R.I.P., CtE, Youth, and CW are their best. Most will tell you up til CtE actually. Their first 5 albums are classics. I'm not gonna tell you they aren't. All I can say is to give their post-Risk career a listen.

Most kids are caught up with Hangar 18 because of Guitar Hero. And I'm not going to complain. but listen to other songs off of R.I.P. then. I would have to say my favorite thing about CtE-era Megadeth was how the rhythm guitar had that hard crunch sound...yeah kinda like Metallica. But seriously, listen to the opening riff of Symphony of Destruction and Angry Again...killer.


So next week, I will highlight their last two albums and give you what I think is a good playlist of the last 3 albums.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: Last Rites/Loved to Death, Peace Sells, Mary Jane from KIMB, Peaces Sells, and SFSGSW.
Tuesday: Hangar 18, Holy Wars...Punishment Due from Rust in Peace
Wednesday: Tornado of Souls, Rust in Peace...Polaris from Rust in Peace
Thursday: Countdown to Extinction, Symphony of Destruction, Angry Again from Countdown to Extinction and Hidden Treasures.
Friday: Blood of Heroes, Family Tree, New World Order from Youthanasia

Friday, March 28, 2008

Venting the Anger: Spring Break & CSTs

After reading yesterday's post on the CSTs, I started to get upset about the timing of them. Now I understand that we have to give them on a certain day based upon X% of the school year being completed, but why do we give them right after Spring Break? Seriously, we come back on Monday and Tuesday we start testing. Why? Do we really think that the students are going to study during their break? We work so hard to get these students ready for the tests then all of that momentum is ruined by having a week off.

But once again...that doesn't matter, they need to be proficient.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thoughts Without Words: CSTs

So it is that time of year again. And we are all scrambling to find ways to motivate our students to try better on their tests. No matter what we say about how their scores help the schools some students don't care. Universities (for the most part) aren't requiring a certain score to get into college. The only thing we use them for is to get into honors or AP classes. So what about the student that is never going to take an AP or honors class?

I know that we should hope they try their best. But some won't unless there is some sort of motivation that directly affects them. Gone is the days of doing what's right and in it's place is the "me generation". Normally, I would say fine don't do anything it's your test. But not in this day and age. Now all of a sudden, we are directly responsible for the scores. What if they are having an off day? Family problems? High school drama? Doesn't matter they need to be proficient or advanced! What if they don't try in class? What it they haven't done one assignment? What if they blow it off? Doesn't matter they need to be proficient.

So our math team decided to give some add on some % points onto their final grade based upon their CST scores. This is the one factor that seems to motivate all of the students. You might have the rare A student that will still figure that the test isn't worth squat, but this should hit most of the students. Thoughts?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Megadeth...better with age?

Ok so this week and next week is my two weeks of Megadeth. Now a little back story on Megadeth. Their first 4-5 albums were really solid thrash metal albums. They were never as epic as Metallica's, but better than most. I was never a big fan of Peace Sells (like most), but I did love KIMB, SFSGSW, and of course R.I.P. In 1992, they released Countdown to Extinction, which ended up being their Black Album. Factoid: the album debuted at #2 on the Billboard, it was beaten out by Billy Ray Cyrus' Achy Breaky Heart...yep that fad song.

Anyway, for me, after CtE it kinda went downhill. Youthanasia was too mid tempo paced, which we found out later was on purpose because their producer said that a certain tempo/time was needed for the album to sell. So we had songs that were slowed down and others that were sped up. Cryptic Writings was a pretty good album. It was better than Youthanasia because it wasn't a one speed album. Dave Mustaine said that this album encompassed their whole career. Classic thrash songs were their (She-Wolf, The Disintegrators, FFF, and Vortex), Youthanasia style songs (Trust, Almost Honest, A Secrect Place), and some new rock style (I'll Get Even, Sin, Have Cool Will Travel). It worked for me.

Unfortunately, Trust and Almost Honest were big radio hits, so they tried to re-create the sound for Risk. Risk is a good rock album, not a Megadeth album. It has it's moments...mainly Insomnia, Prince of Darkness, and Time. Other than that...horrible.

I should mention here that Megadeth has never had a stable line up. Through the period of R.I.P. to CW it was the same band. Risk introduced a new drummer. So after Risk there were rumors that Dave was going to pull the plug on Megadeth and start a solo career. They made an album, sent it to Capitol Records, then he changed his mind...thank God.

The World Needs a Hero was released in 2001. It was hyped as "the return of thrash" for Megadeth. It wasn't the return everyone was expecting so people knocked it. But let me say that the album is full (read full) of guitar solos. I am talking 2 minutes worth on some songs. Listen to Return to Hangar (sequel to Hangar 18 from R.I.P.), When, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, Recipe for Hate...Warhorse just to name a few. Megadeth was able to balance thrash songs with a rock under-tone. Something that would continue on the next two releases.

Next up, Dave injures his arm, disbands Megadeth, then...

Monday, March 24, 2008

What can brown do for you? Pen 9...the beginning

So I left off with me and the rest of the guys in the back getting banished sent to load side. I wanted to go back to the sort aisle so bad. In fact, the 1st week I was on load side, my pickoff didn't show. So I had to go up and be the pickoff. Now I didn't know anything. So I would stop the belt or send the package to the wrong loader. I knew that they would need to bring Robert M. out to run the belt because he knew it like the back of his hand. They did and I was able to go back to the aisle for the day. Well, that didn't last because I was pulled into the Bill's office (current building manager) and was told to find another pickoff and train him becuase I couldn't let this happen again.

It was at that point when I realized I was going to be out there for awhile. So my next plan was to show just how bad the back missorted. I thought " they moved me because of missorts, so let's show them that nothing has changed." Made sense. So I did daily tallies of the missorts, which ranged from a couple hundred to a thousand one day (found out they had like 3 new sorters up there that day.) Tom (who was the new unload/sort full-timer) would look at them and ask what they were. I told him that most were from Rancho (pen 8) and he said that those were transverse missorts. I said earlier that if the packages didn't get pushed to the far side that the packages could go to the wrong belt. Now when I was in the sort aisle no one called this a transverse missort. It's kinda like a mortal sin and's all a sin to me. SO Tom scoffed at the problem and then pointed out the number of Upland (pen 9 my belt) packages that were going back to the sort aisle. This day, there was close to 100 packages that were gathering in the back.

That's when I realized Shon (my full timer) was right when he told us, "take away their excuses, then they have to listen to you."

I had to find out why/what packages were going to the sort aisle. So I did something that was never...literally never done in the building. As a load side sup, I turned off the return belt...just the bottom belt actually, not the sort aisle one. It was unheard of. My loaders were pissed and in the beginning Shon was a little worried. You see there was a time during the sort, usually 15 -30 minutes before the sort ailse was clean, that we "put up divertors". This would allow the bottom belt to run, but no packages go to the sort aisle. So when we put up divertors, I turned off my belt. Now I was training a new pickoff (Mark), so when he was done on top he came done and moved around all the packages on the bottom belt. It was a mess the first couple days, but (once again not joking) there were like 5 packages on the bottom belt. It was a thing of beauty.

That was when I realized load side isn't that bad, but you need to be willing to try something new. I ended up doing some other "new" things, but I will get to those later.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Justice League Unlimited

This is the show that was made for people who grew up in the 80's with Superfriends. It was their way of apologizing for the Wonder Twins, Wendy & Marvin, and the fact that the Justice League called themselves Superfriends.

The entire DC animated universe started in 1992 with Batman: The Animated Series, after Batman was released. Gone was the campy Batman of the 60's and in came the dark, mysterious, detective we all know and love today. So the show airs for a few years and gets a spin off of sorts with Superman in 1996. Then when it looked like this new universe was done enter The New Batman Adventures, which moved Dick Grayson from Robin to Nightwing (how cool is that?) and introduced a new Robin in Tim Drake. Then Batman Beyond followed showing an old Bruce Wayne recruiting a new Batman. For me, BB was very under-rated and it gave us a great movie in Return of The Joker.

Then enter Justice League, which orginally focused on just 7 members (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern.). Then after 3 seasons it became Justice League Unlimited. I can go on for days on how good the show is. Seriously, during the last season of JLU they were using storylines from the original B:TAS...for you non-math majors that's over 10 years ago. Simply awesome. The themes were more adult oriented not in a rated R sex way, but in a more mature storyline. For example, when Solomon grundy is brought back to life Hawkgirl must kill him after he saved her life before. Good stuff high drama...not for kids.

The best thing I liked about the show was how they really brought the comic characters to "life". Batman doesn't get along with everyone, just like in the comics. In fact one of my favorite moments came in the end of the second season of JLU. The Justice League is going to turn themselves into the U.S. Government and well let's just say Batman doesn't agree. Go to about minute 6 for the scene.


Happy Easter

Well it was a busy day at our house. Church, grocery shopping, visit wife's friend for lunch, then over to her parent's house for dinner. Oh yeah and in all this our dear little daughter didn't sleep at all. All in all though a great Easter.

As for Lent, well I didn't give up fast food completely. I modified it so I didn't eat any fast food fries or onion rings, and I gave up all soda as well. So basically I could eat the food...just the main meal though. It was an interesting experience, one that makes me want to give up soda for a very long time actually.

What's on tap this week? I figure I will talk about some state testing, UPS, and of course a spotlight...this week and next on Megadeth. Should be a great week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spotlight: Anthrax

Ahhh Anthrax. The ugly step-child of the early thrash movement. They were recognized, but maybe not enough. They didn't have any groups bashing them for being satan worshipers (Slayer), not drug problems (Megadeth), or alcohol issues (Metallica). They jsut went about their way making solid thrash metal. They weren't taken too serious becuase of it too. They had their classic Among the Living. But for me, Anthrax lost the party/good/fun metal with Persistence of Time.

Longer songs, darker lyrics, and more technical music made this an instant classic with all thrash fans. Alot of people still think of Among the Living as their best...I would disagree.

I am a huge fan of the John Bush era of Anthrax. See after Persistence of Time, Joey Belladonna left the band, was fired...whatever the reason, and John Bush of Armored Saint joined. He brought in more of a guys metal. Factoid: John Bush was asked to join Metallica as their singer early on in Metallica's history. His first album, Sound of White Noise, really brought Anthrax to the public. Songs like Only, Potter's Field, and Black Lodge are all metal classics.

Their follow up Stomp 442 was just as good...if not better. But unfortunately, their record label didn't push it as much because grunge was the "in metal" so they felt it wouldn't sell. Stomp 442 was an interesting record because Scott Ian was the only guitarist on the album. Dimebag Darrell did some solos, but it was mainly Scott. To make for the loss of a guitarist their drummer, Charlie Benante, really stepped it up. The drumming on the next few albums were fill of drum fills and some insane beats. Another factoid: Charlie actually writes most of the riffs for the songs. Just listen to a song like Riding Shotgun or Tester to see what I am talking about.

If Stomp 442 got no love, then Volume 8 was abandoned. They were dropped after Stomp 442 and signed with a small label. Well a few months after Volume 8 came out *bam* the record company folds. Volume 8...gone. Out of print for years, it was recently released. Volume 8 is more of the same style, but was missing something for me. I will say this though Crush and Inside Out are classic metal songs. They are so brutal and good.

Next album...We've Come for You All. This is probably my favorite Bush era album. It takes all the strengths from their last 3 albums and they bring it together for this one. Insane drumming - listen to Nobody Knows Anything, killer riffs - What Doesn't Die, great chorus - Any Place but Here. A little death metal drumming and guitaring comes into play with Black Dahlia as well. Not to mention the return of a lead guitarist.

After that they went ahead and re-recorded some songs from their pre-Bush catalog, voted on by the complaining there. I was pretty pumped to see some Persistence of Time songs on their (Belly of the Beast & Keep it in the Family). Listening to the re-recorded versions made me realize how much better Anthrax sounded with Bush on vocals.

Unfortunately, Anthrax got on the "reunion" band wagon. In a nutshell, a 2 year reunion tour with Joey and the other guitarist, but no new album. Bush was left on the side line. After the tour was over and no album was planned they asked Bush back, but he declined because of the way the tour went down.

So what's next? Well Anthrax just announced a new singer. Who knows how good he will sound. But I need that style that John Bush brought to the band. Hopefully the riffs and drumming will still be there.

BTW, pick up Return of the Killer A's and Greater of Two Evils for a good mix of Anthrax music.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: Riding Shotgun, Belly of the Beast from Stomp 442 & The Greater of Two Evils
Tuesday: Hy Pro Glo (remix), Potter's Field (remix), Crush from Return of the Killer A's
Wednesday: Fueled, Black Lodge, Only from Stomp 442 & Sound of White Noise
Thursday: What Doesn't Die, Nobody Knows Anything, Anyplace But Here from We've Come for You All.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spotlight: Eluvietie

Not much to say on this spotlight since I talked about them earlier in the week HERE. I guess more importantly this is my 100th post!

Anyways here's a video from the album their debut album and from their latest release. I have a strong feeling we will be hearing about them at the end of the year for my top 10.

BTW, I think after a whole year of various genres of metal, I should return to the one true form of metal...thrash metal. With the bands that started it all...Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. I never was a huge Slayer fan.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: Your Gaulish War, Uis Elveti, Of Fire, Wind & Wisdom from Spirit
Tuesday: Calling the Rain, Tarvos from Slania
Wednesday: Primordial Breath from Slania
Thursday: The Somber Lay, Slania's Song from Slania
Friday: Inis Mona, Gray Sublime Archon from Slania

Sneak peak for next week. Yep Anthrax. I have always been a fan of Bush-era Anthrax. But actually, Anthrax with a shaved head Scott Ian is the best.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Venting the Anger: counseling students

Ahhh counseling students. Something that we teachers hear all the time. Sit down and try to reason with kids whose brains won't fully develop for a few years after high school. But that's the age we are in. Don't jump the gun, try talking first. The reason I bring this up is because of an incident at my wife's work...not mine. Although I have had some run in's with the dreaded "counseled student" comment on a referral.

My wife's school gets broken into a lot. Last year, when she was on maternity leave her portable was broken into and her school lap top was stolen and some other items. Fortunately, she didn't have anything important there (mainly because she was on leave). So the district decides to put up security cameras outside and in the school. Her school is open concept which means that there are no rooms. Just one or two moveable walls separating teachers. In other words, once you get in the school, you can go to any room you want.

So they have the cameras and a couple weeks later another break in. No biggie, they have cameras right? No, the cameras were installed, but never turned on. They were for decorative purposes only I guess.

So last week, my wife's teaching partner (they share 40 kids in a portable) is in the room working on grades with the lights out (thank you daylight savings time). She had a trash can holding the door open just a bit. She then hears a student walking by say "yeah it's open, let's go jack some stuff." She sitting in the back of her room watching this kid (4 or 5th grader) walk into her room. He turns towards her says I didn't mean it and runs out. She goes and tells the principal and tells her what happened. Her response "that's too bad. We have to be sure to get him some counseling." Nice huh?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What can brown do for you? terminology load side

So last time I gave some terminology about the unload/sort. Now I will focus in on load side.

There are two main belts on load slide, belt-to-car and slide-to-car. Pens 1, 4, 5, 8, & 9 were slide to car. Pens 8 & 9 were rare because they were the only slide to car belts next to each other. Literally, pen 9 was above pen 8. On a slide to car you have a pick off who waits for the packages to come down the belt and he pushes or pulls them to smaller belts that go to the loaders. The loaders had the return belt under them. This belt also carried bulk. So if they missed the bulk it would end up in the sort aisle. Now a slide to car belt could take theoretically take more volume because the packages could sit on the slide. One last thing about the slide to car pens, since they had direct access to the return belts, the air cans were usually unloaded on them. Air cans were full of next day air from sunrise or late planes. Normally there were two air cans and most of the time they were unloaded on pen 9. In my 5 years there, I can only recall 3 times that the air cans didn't come down pen 9's return belt. Two times when the return belt was overloaded with packages. Once during peak season when there was no room for the air cans on the belt. Once again, this was a reason that the return belts needed to stay on and doors 7 & 13 needed to stay clean throughout the night in the sort aisle.

On a belt to car you had a single belt with about 5-7 cars on either side. The person/persons in the front is called a splitter. Because the splitter just had to push or pull packages to either side of the belt. As the package went down the belt the loader would look for his package and then load it. Belt to car loaders needed to be faster I felt because the packages were constantly moving along the belt. You always wanted to stay ahead of you work and not fall behind. There is no return belt on the belt to car pens. All missorts usually just piled up at the end of the belt...made it look really ugly. I changed that on my belt (now that's a hook...not a good hook but a hook). Bulk was put on the belt by bulk drivers, which posed a problem sometimes because it was hard to get the packages up to the belt. The interesting thing about the belt to car pens was that you could turn off the belt on the pen separately from the belt moving packages from the sort aisle...or both at once.

On load side, supervisors had to take hourly stop counts. Drivers had a target for stop counts. Meaning that if they had a planned day of 80 stops and they were only at 10 after 1 hour, you as the supervisor would have to "take" work from another driver that was heavy that day. It got confusing sometimes. And to be honest in all my time on loadside I moved the work around maybe 4 times. We would wait until the on-road supervisors showed up (usually around 7 am).

Drivers began to leave the building at 9 am because of next day air. So you never wanted to be around if there was a lot of packages left out. No matter how hard a load sup tried, we never got out until after 9:30 usually closer to 10. When we were in the back...9 was a late day. Yet, we all needed to come in at the same time...fair? Nope, which is what cause a lot of our problems.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Band of the moment: Eluveitie

Ok, a couple weeks ago I was talking about my favorite albums so far. And I mentioned how tough it was going to be to put together a top 10 because there were already 3 solid albums. I also mentioned that every now and then an album comes out of nowhere to kick my butt. It just happened last week.

The band is called Eluveitie...I can't pronounce it...sorry. What makes this band special? Let's say it is the most original sounding metal I have heard since Borknagar's Epic. It is death metal with a nice flare of Celtic music...that's right Celtic. So not only do you get the traditional metal vocals, drums, and guitars; you also get a nice flute, bagpipes, and a hurdy gurdy. Yes he said a hurdy gurdy! What is a hurdy gurdy? Who knows...look it up HERE. There is also some very nice female Celtic singing on some of the songs.

All in all a nice surprise for an album. Oh btw, the name of the album is Slania. It's available on iTunes. I doubt Best Buy will have this one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What can brown do for you? terminolgy unload/sort

Now that I am going to be just sharing some fun stories about UPS I might as well knock out some terminology of UPS so you aren't lost.

Let's go with the unload area first. There were originally 18 doors in the back, then it pretty much doubled to 39 or something like that. Door 1/2 were never used (in the beginning...story coming) due to Pen 1's return belt, small sort, and Sunrise sort. Sunrise sort was another sort that ran during the same time that only did next day air. Now since NDA was guaranteed by 10 AM you can see the importance of getting that area clean.

On doors 7 & 13 there were return belts from the load side. The were for missorts. In other words, if a package was meant for pen 8 but went to pen 5, pen 5 would put it on the belt and it would come back to us. Door 7 return belt was from Pen 4, pen 5, pen 6 & pen 7. Door 13 was for mainly pens 8-11. Once these slides were down, they needed to be completely cleared before you could lift them. We were also told that the return belts needed to run all day because the belts were also used for bulk on load side.

In the sort aisle, there was a slide in front of the sorters were the packages would drop down from the main feed belt. The main feed belt had a bunch of belts going into each "feeder" (the long trailers) called an extendo belt because it could move back into the feeder. Off the main belt were these metal bars that moved called divertors because the "diverted" the packages to open areas on the slides.

Now a sorter was supposed to be at the drop point, where the packages came off the divertor down to the slide. Behind a sorter was 5 main belts, but became 6. Each belt represented 2 pens. If the sorter didn't push the package to the side all the way it could be a missort. Below the sorter was another belt for small sort. Small sort was a sort aisle for envelopes and small packages only.

Another term used alot was "irregs" which stood for irregular... duh right? Anyways an irreg was any package over 70lbs or 5 ft long. They were supposed to be pulled out of the feeder by the unloader. Irregs were never meant to make it to the sort aisle.

One final note, the sort aisle was a good 4 -5 5 feet above the rest of the unload. So the extendos would go into the feeder easier and bulk drivers (for the irregs) could drive under the sort aisle and pick up irregs. So when a sort sup wanted to talk to an unload sup they would talk across a belt and looking down at the unload sup. Looking back I guess that kinda fed my ego that I was better? maybe?

Ok that's a ton of information. Next time load side. Then I can continue with some stories. I was thinking about it though. My first trip to load side was pretty good. I didn't get into any fights...but still had fun.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What can brown do for you? Kicked out #1

Now let me say this, I will try to be linear in my stories, but like I said earlier there are so many stories so trying to stay linear is going to be a miracle. If you missed some earlier stories click HERE

So my first peak season just ended. We were getting a new building manager, Bill (Flint), and word was coming down that everyone was getting a new job. Now I had only been a supervisor for about 3 months, so I wasn't too happy about going to load side. In fact, I hated it. Load side sups worked longer hours and in my opinion had a harder job. So I remember the day before it happened. Jordan and I were done walking belts and we were standing over pen 4. Adrian (future sup, but a sorter at the time) came up and asked if the rumors were true. We said yep, and we had no idea who was taking our spots.

Funny thing is that I really don't remember who took over the sort aisle. I know that Robert M. was in the unload with Rob S., still don't know how Rob S. didn't get moved out. Anyway, Rob C. had a hard time letting go of the unload. He told everyone if he was moved he would quit. Well he got moved and then proceeded not to show up to work for a week...a week. He finally showed up and tried to say he was sick or something, but he was protesting it big time.

So where did we all end up? Well we were split up around the entire building. Jordan took over pen 1 in Corona center. Rob C. shared and eventually took over pen 7 in Airport center. And I took over pen 9 in Foothill center. I think I got the best belt out of the 3 of us. Not only did I get a good belt, my full timer was still Shon and the on-road sup was Leroy. So it wasn't too bad of a transition for me.

I was lost for awhile, but like I said Phil took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of load side. I'm not going to lie, my first trip to load side sucked. All I wanted to do was to get back to the sort aisle. And I wanted to show everyone that load side people complain about missorts too much.

That opinion quickly changed...somewhat. Next time I will try to convey what changed my mind. And when I became public enemy #1 for the building managers.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spotlight: Modern Thrash

So what is modern thrash? I know what Bay Area Thrash is; Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, Testament, etc. But what is modern thrash? I have a whole bunch of artists that I have labeled as modern thrash. Well, for me, modern thrash takes the best of metalcore, death metal, and everything else since the late 80's and throws it together to get a sound of metal that is most reminiscent of Bay Area Thrash. These are the bands that weren't afraid to play solos all the time solos were a bad thing.

Take The Autumn Offering. They are always labeled as metalcore. And sure, you hear it...definitely. But overall they are thrash. Their debut was mainly hardcore/metalcore with sprinkles of thrash, but their follow-up Embrace the Gutter is pure thrash with sprinkles of metalcore. Listen to the solo in the title track.

And for those looking for the metalcore part, listen to Ghost. You go from a solo that could have been put on any Iron Maiden album to a breakdown that could go on any Killswitch Engage album. BTW, this band switched vocalists and it hurt them big time. I couldn't stand their latest and it even made my disappointments for 2007.

Sanctity was founded by Trivium...neat huh? Anyway they were so impressed that they covinced their label to sign them. Road to Bloodshed is class thrash. Much like Susperia, they sound like Testament a lot of the time. Their vocalist also hits some Halford-like high notes too. The solos are really tight and crisp...much like Megadeth. Unfortunately, they just lost their vocalist/guitarist and drummer due to personal reasons. So who knows what will happen to this band now.

Havochate and Lazarus are too classic thrash bands. Once again, Havochate sounds alot like Testament. Nothing wrong there. As for Lazarus, they sound like a faster version of Exodus...that's right a faster version. The solos on this album are amazing. The first time I heard the album I was grinning from ear to ear like I did with Machine Head's The Blackening. Solid bands and I will be looking forward to their new ones.

Last up Shadows Fall. This band is still labeled a metalcore band, but after their second album, I think they turned more thrash. The War Within has very little if anything that sounds like metalcore...some breakdowns here or there. Shadows Fall were never afraid to play solos. In fact, it was their video for Destroyer of Senses that brought them back. I was blown away to hear a true metal song on MTV. Most of the hardcore vocals are gone for cleaner screams/singing. Listen to these songs and tell me they are metalcore.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: Embrace the Gutter, Ghost by The Autumn Offering from Embrace the Gutter
Tuesday: Fiction, Still Alive, Alone by Havochate from Cycle of Pain
Wednesday: Beneath the Machine, Zeppo, The Shape of Things by Sanctity from Road to Bloodshed
Thursday: Last Breath, The Onslaught part 1 by Lazarus from The Onslaught
Friday: What Drives the Weak, Inspiration on Demand by Shadows Fall from The War Within

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Battlestar Galactica 8 minutes

I am a huge fan of BSG. But trying to explain the entire show is pretty hard. This clip from does a pretty good job of cramming 3 seasons plus into 8 minutes. An extra plus is that it is pretty funny too. Enjoy

What can brown do for you? Margin of error

Ok now that I introduced you to the main players at UPS during my time, let me share a fun story about my first peak season. Now we were kind of in between building managers at the time. Leroy was still technically our manager, but another guy named Dean was making most of the calls it seemed. Since I was in the sort aisle, it was very important for us to "get down" (finish time) by 7:00 AM. That was pretty tough to do because of our set up and the number of trailers we had to process. Seriously, during peak season the we usually increased another 10 trailers a day...and still had to be done at the same time.

So Dean gives us this speech that he has never had a bad peak season and it wasn't going to be his first. Another funny thing he told us was that we weren't allowed to missed work during peak...even if we were sick. If we were sick we would have to throw up on his shoes before he would let us go home. I didn't realize how funny that sounded until I typed it right now.

Anyway, we weren't getting down on time. So one day Dean actually replaced me and Jordan with some sort sups from another sort. Now Dean thought we didn't know how to do our job, but these guys didn't get down any faster and they blew up the building with missorts. Missorts were a huge problem that never got solved during my 5 years there. Basically a missort is a package that goes to the wrong belt. Load side would put the package back on the return belt back to the sort aisle to be re-sorted (the travel time on the return belt was about 12 minutes). Not bad right? Well missorts would sometimes hit the 1,000's increasing the amount of packages sorted by 10% or more. It wasted time, wasted sorters, and caused havoc on load side.

So the "super" sups lasted one day because they blew up the building. So Jordan and I were back the following day. We started getting down on time or close to it, like 7:10 to 7:15 not great but respectable. Well Dean wasn't happy because the missorts were still a problem.

So Dean was talking to Jordan, Rob C. ,Rob S., Shon, and myself about the problem. Dean was talking about the missorts and what followed was one of the funniest conversations I ever heard. Keep in mind that Dean sounded just like Jim Mora when he gave his famous "playoffs" speech;

Rob C. - "well if they (load side) get 5,000 packages and only a couple hundred missorts that's not bad."

Dean - "not bad? what do you mean not bad? they shouldn't get any."

Rob - "what? you have to expect a margin of error."

Dean - "margin of error?!?! margin of error?!?!? what do you mean margin of error? There is no such thing."

Rob - "yeah there is...everything has a margin of error."

Dean - "margin of error?!?!? Shon what is he talking about?"

That was pretty much the conversation, Rob was convinced that sorters couldn't be perfect and he was right. But the "margin of error" we had going on was way too high. The way Dean asked Shon about Rob, was kinda like "get this fool away from me". I kinda learned, but obviously not enough, that part-time sups opinions weren't worth much.

We would joke about the margin of error for a long fact every now and then when missorts were brought up we would recreate the famous "margin of error" speech.

I think this is one of the reasons the entire back side was "re-deployed" after this peak season.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Venting the Anger: Suspended Students

I have a freshman student that was caught with alcohol on campus last week. Let me say that again a freshman with alcohol. In our student handbook it lists the "big four and out the door". These are the 4 things that usually result in expulsion, one of them is alcohol on campus. What did she get? 6 days at the suspension center...yep 6 days.

So it was my understanding that we didn't have to give work to suspended students. Well I was wrong, at home suspension students don't get a chance to make up work, but suspension center kids do.

HUH?!?! So who gets inconvenienced? The teacher is the one who has to get the work together. Grade it separately from the rest of the class. Give another version of a test (due to cheating). Grade that one. Then what about state testing? We are responsible for their it there fault they aren't at school? Is anyone going to care about that when her scores come back lower?

Once again we are giving zero accountability to the student. She brought it on campus. No one forced her. Yet what did she really miss? She gets to make up her work and tests. And I know some teachers will spend their lunch time/conference time to catch her back up. So you tell me what did she learn? And what is this telling other students?

SIDE NOTE: This is the 3rd time (that I know of) this has happened within the last year. Second time for a freshman. We have these "late start" dates for teachers to collaborate on their classes and school starts and hour and half later. What do you think the kids are doing with no parents at home?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What can brown do for you? Roll Call

Well I figure that since I am going to be telling alot of UPS stories I might as well have a post to kind of explain who's who.
The "original back-side four"
Jordan - my sort supervisor partner, taught me everything I knew about the sort aisle.
Rob C. - unload supervisor, competitive...nuff said.
Rob S. - unload supervisor, laid back army guy.

The "new back-side four"
Adrian - sort aisle supervisor, quiet, could always get the job done.
P.J. - unload supervisor, competitive, funny, didn't let work bother him (should've listened to him more)
Andrew (Drew 1) - unload/small sort supervisor, was super competitive hard worker until UPS sucked it out of him.

Load Side Supervisors
Trevor - Trevor was once my employee and still is a good friend. Made him "sup up" I don't think he ever forgave me though. Worked in the back with us for awhile, got shipped out though...pretty shady.
Chris - late everyday...shifty.
Robert M. - oldest part time sup there...knew his stuff. I took over his belt after 1st peak season.
Phillip - him and Rob were super close friends. I became pretty good friends with Phillip. He taught me alot about load side and what UPS really thinks of its part time supervisors.
Brian - after Robert M. was the second oldest. still there and from what I hear he has a pretty laid back job now.
Kenny - crazy a full timer.
Jeff C. - replaced me in the sort aisle...thanks Chuck. Solid sup better served on load side.
Jeff A. - looked like Drew Carey

Other Part Time Supervisors
Curtis - E AM's supervisor. Easy to imitate on the radio
Mike P. - bulk supervisor. Mike and I bumped heads alot. He was always trying to be the alpha male.
Mike L. - didn't get along early, but after awhile became ok with each other.
Ness - ness...
Bailey - always wore a hat. Was only a sup for like a month...and I remember him, how bad was he?

The "Full Timers"
Shon (Sean, Shawn) - 1st full time supervisor, funny. If you worked hard for him he looked out for you. BTW, I saw his name spelled all those ways.
Tom - most of my stories will probably have Tom in them. We had a love/hate relationship for awhile, but I would say the last 2-3 years of my time there we got along great. Solid sup, always tried to get the most out of everyone.
Chuck - Chuck...
Lou - building manager for 2 - 3 years out of my 5 there. We bumped heads alot until my last year there.
John - oh John...a company man. Funny, but didn't stand up to alot of people.
OT - division manager, tried to fire me.
Anthony - my last full timer when I was in the back...didn't like me at all... at all.
Randy - full timer, laid back. Kinda like PJ.
Bill - always hard to remember his name because Rob C. called him Flint (from GI Joe) one time and that's how I remember him.
Ric - Ric...back side full timer...butted heads a few times, but he knew I could get the job done.
Mike - division manager, told us his daughter could do a better job of running the back side than us.
Dave - building manager for like 3 months. Was from Palm Springs...tried to compare unloading 3 trailers a night to 30+....yeah we bought into that one.
Marie - worst sup ever. Seriously, she would always try to boss us around. Messed with her the most.

That's a pretty good run down of who's who. I might have forgot a few, but I will fill them in later.

That time of year again

So testing season is upon us again. When teachers are frantically trying to cram the remaining material to their students before the big tests. We start off with the CASHEE next week, then it's onto STAR testing, and some AP testing. The schedules get so messed up this time of year. Imagine having 1st period after lunch...that's right after lunch. How messed up is that?

The entire school seems to stop teaching for those 2 weeks of STAR testing. It's all about review during that time and creating a relaxing evironment.

I still don't understand why we continue to teach new material that isn't needed the next year. The students can't re-take their STAR test a month later. I said it last year, and it seems like more regular ed teachers are agreeing, regular ed classes are like AP classes. It's all about the test. And after that...what's the motivation?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spotlight: In Flames - Reroute to Remain

So last week we listened to some Swedish death metal and we didn't listen to this album at all because I wanted to listen to the whole thing. Now this isn't In Flames' best album, but it defintely is in their top 3 for me. This was one of the last In Flames albums I picked up because most reviews said they went nu-metal and sounded like Korn. That right there is enough to keep me away from it. I just remember thinking one day... what the heck? and picked it up. I really was surprised how different it sounded from Clayman (which was their previous album before this one). Gone were the Iron Maiden twin guitar harmonies, in its place was a thick bass/guitar tone. And yeah there were parts that reminded me of some nu-metal and Korn. But there was no rapping and no beat box goin on here.

There were still some fast songs, in fact there are alot. But the missing harmonies I think really pissed off a lot of older fans. The harmonies were now in the vocals. For me there is absolutely no fillers on this album. I think it is the big choruses that get me. From Cloud Connected to Free Fall they are just great sing a long type choruses.

With Soundtrack to Your Escape (their follow-up) they added a little bit more of their traditional sound. And with Come Clarity, most of the nu-metal sound is all but gone. But the nice thing is that they kept the great choruses.

In Flames have a new album coming out in a few weeks...I will defintely be getting this one ASAP.

Playlist for the week:
Entire album