Today is September 2nd…Labor Day. It has also been one full year working as a handler at FedEx.
I should feel proud and ecstatic of this achievement, but I’m not. Sometimes, I feel unfulfilled and unaccomplished while searching for a job in broadcasting and journalism. Also, the amount of work given to me and my fellow FedEx cohorts by management has been is borderline legal.
I can’t take photos and video of my workplace so this picture inserted here will give you an idea of working as a handler.
No doubt I’ve told many friends, family members, and co-workers how much I hate working at FedEx. It drives me bonkers every day I go there. I always get home exhausted and in pain.
Managers are also very uncompromising. For example…if someone has a serious medical issue and need a day off, they’ll refuse to give anyone medical leave and threaten to fire you.
Then there’s the constant yelling. Drill sergeants in the Army are less bothersome and more respectful than FedEx managers.
Hours are something to be desired. You basically work double-time for half the pay. In other words, one employee will get 6 hours of physically demanding labor, but actually work 3 hours (Pay rate is $11.90/per hour, by the way).
They’ll send a ton of freight to an area and expect their employee to meet a quota (at least 23 boxes per minute). Hence the avalanche gif above.
I can complain and moan about FedEx all day, but that is not what this post is mainly about. What I want readers to get from this post is how much weight I’ve lost since working at the company in a year’s time.
Before working as a handler, I didn’t do diddly squat in terms of physically demanding work or exercise. There were several small attempts while I was in college, but all ended in failure. With a busy course load, part-time job, internship, I had less free-time and I didn’t want to spend it working out.
It was not a surprise that I ended up weighing 225 lbs. before working at FedEx. However that soon changed as I began my employment on September 2nd, 2012.
To give you some insight of how much I changed in the past year, this photo shows some progression in my weight loss.
Back in January, I went down to about 198 lbs. This was the first time in about 10 years that I weighed less than 200 lbs.
I sat a goal that I wanted to get down to 175 lbs. before my first full year at FedEx. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
This summer, while temperatures were intensely hot inside the hub and working more rigorously than previously months, I hit a plateau of 185 lbs. No matter what amount of work I did, I just couldn’t lose weight (yet not gained extra pounds).
For much of the summer, I stayed roughly around 185 lbs. until last month. Slowly but surely, I was losing weight again.
As of this writing, I weigh roughly 182 lbs. I say “roughly” because I got on a scale last week (I have yet to check it). I am optimistic I lost a little more since then (especially since last week’s work was horrible), but I imagine it hasn’t changed too much.
Nonetheless, it’s an impressive feat and something that I’m proud of accomplishing. I can say FedEx helped, but it was more on my part. There were some dietary changes that have made this possible.
While my metabolism has drastically went up, I don’t eat as much food (just enough to satisfy). Except on rare occasions, I don’t drink sodas anymore.
Instead, I drink mostly water. I will have a couple cups of coffee in the morning, and some juice and a snack during meals. I haven’t totally went on a crazy diet, but I have made some changes to my eating habits for the better.
This is where I am now. I feel better and more confident about myself than a year ago, but I still have some more work to do. Ideally, I would like to be around 170-175 lbs. before the end of year.
Hopefully, it works out. I am still on the search for job suited to my career path. I am cautiously optimistic that my “lucky break” will happen soon, but I am also thinking of pursuing a teaching gig with the “Teach For America” program or apply to the Memphis Police Department. If I get a better job, then I will work out at the Kroc Rec Center and keep at it.
Hey everyone. Some of you may or may not know this, but I am going to produce a podcast soon called “Guys Speak Geek.” Yes, the title speaks for itself. I think it’s going to be something worthwhile…at least in my head anyway. It’s a work inprogress, but I have a blog site on WordPress up at least. You should expect the first episode sometime next week as the show talks about the HTC One, the Android experience, and T-Mobile’s JUMP! program.
Check out the site now at http://guysspeakgeek.wordpress.com/
There is confusion among the order of past Final Fantasy games. Once upon a time, FFIII was actually the Japanese version of FFVI on the Super Nintendo while FFIV was FFII in the U.S.
Since then, Square-Enix has cleared up this oddity by re-releasing the games Western audiences missed out on. The actual Final Fantasy 2 & 3 were originally on NES.
In 2006, S-E eventually brought Final Fantasy III to the States and other regions on the Nintendo DS. Since then, the game has been released on other platforms including iOS, PSP/Vita, and Android.
The Android version is nearly identical to the DS remake, sans dual screens and opening cinematic. Instead of NES sprites, this version is presented in 3D with polygons and all. In fact, the graphics might make one compare it to the PlayStation era Final Fantasy games.
Unlike the DS version, FF3 on Android is in high-definition and looks good whether using a smartphone or 10 inch tablet.
Controls are something of a mixed bag. While Google’s OS supports gamepads, this game does not so you are forced to use touch screen virtual buttons.
I prefer to use physical controls, however the touch screen interface is not bad, and much easier to use than most other games on mobile devices. After all, it is a RPG and works with the platform.
Most Android devices support FF3 so it should run very well on phones and tablets at least a 2-3 years old. I am using a Nexus 7 and gameplay runs smooth without a stutter.
Final Fantasy III’s gameplay is very good and holds up well against some newer games in the series (here’s looking at you, FF13). This game first introduced the job system FF fans have come to love. As you progress in the story, your party gains a variety of classes with their own unique abilities. For example, dragoons can jump, mages use magic, and monks can retaliate to counter enemy’s attacks.
If you are looking for a challenge, this RPG will give you one. With numerous random battles and difficult boss battles, this game will make you pull out you hair or, God-forbid, throw your Android device against the wall.
With that said, it’s not too hard that no one can beat it and a little level grinding goes a long way. For a greater challenge, I would say use the Onion Knight class, which can use all black & white magic and equip all weapons/armor. It nurfs your stats, but proves very rewarding once your party exceeds level 90.
The story isn’t horrible, but it is lacking substance. It is a simple premise: four Warriors of Light must find the crystals and save the world. These characters have short backstories but after their initial introduction, there is no further development. To be fair, this is one of the earliest Final Fantasy games (originally released in 1990) so don’t expect something on the caliber of FF6 or FF7.
I also wish pricing was a little better on this title. While iOS and PSP/Vita owner can get this game for less than $10, Final Fantasy III is a whopping $16.99 on the Google Play Store. It’s a tad expensive for a mobile game. However if you consider that the Nintendo DS version cost $40 when it released, then the price for this version isn’t all that bad.
Overall, Final Fantasy III on Android is great and I am still enjoying it. If I had to criticize it, it would be for lack of a story and high price point for a mobile game. I’d score this classic RPG 8 crystals out of 10.
In recent years, portable gaming has been greatly expanded. In addition to Nintendo’s & Sony’s handheld consoles, mobile games have flooded the smartphone & tablet landscape.
It can be argued that Apple iOS & Android could replace dedicated gaming devices or vise versa. In any case, major third-party developers are bringing hardcore experiences to mobile devices. Square-Enix is one of these companies that is supporting these platforms.
In the past three years, the famous JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) maker has brought well-known franchises such as Chrono Trigger to iOS and Android. It has also release new software such as Chaos Rings. Notably, Final Fantasy games are available on both operating systems.
Currently, the first four installments are on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad alongside Final Fantasy Tactics and Dimensions. Android has only FF I-III and Dimensions (FF IV and Tactics have yet to be released). Final Fantasy V (based on the GameBoy Advance version) is coming soon to smart devices with some graphical tweaks.
This flood of Final Fantasy remakes has some fans criticizing “Squeenix” about their strategy. The most common complaint is that there are too many re-releases, especially Final Fantasy IV. After all, the game is playable on Super Nintendo, PlayStation 1 & 3, PlayStation Portable & Vita, Nintendo DS & Wii, GameBoy Advance, iOS, and coming to Android this Spring.
Rather than seeing dozens of classic 2D-era games, some fans want more recent titles remade such as the ever-popular Final Fantasy VII.
Although there is some merit to S-E’s many releases, I believe what they are is doing is not a totally bad idea. By expanding their library into the App Store & Google Play, more people will experience the series. This is especially great for those who either missed the series or too young to get to enjoy it.
My only criticism against Square-Enix is its app pricing. On both Google Play and the App Store, the cost of each game far exceeds any program. Compared to other developers, S-E charges a hefty price for newer content. As opposed to the budget $1 apps, most games are roughly $15-$20.
Check out Final Fantasy III for example. As of this writing, the game is $16 on Android and $9 on iOS (although it released at the cost of $16). Furthermore pricing isn’t consistent between platforms, especially comparing with PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s eShop where games are significantly cheaper (by about $5-$10).
However, I must admit the premium price tag holds value in S-E’s offerings. It is still much cheaper than console titles (which costs $60). In comparison to handhelds, they retail normally $40.
After all, Final Fantasy III (remade originally for the DS) costed $39.99 when it released in 2006. Once ported over to smartphones and tablets, it was about half the original price.
Plus, Square-Enix usually offers discounts and sales on their games on the digital marketplace. Final Fantasy I and II have been sold as low as a dollar on some occasions. Final Fantasy III was marked down by half a year after its release on the App Store. This is just food for thought.
All this aside, I am excited for the Final Fantasy IV & V re-release on Android this year. The only thing I wish for is being able to use Bluetooth joypads. The virtual touchscreen controls are good, but using a controller with physical buttons would be swell.
The Tecsun PL-390 is among the plethora of Chinese radios to flood the market in recent years. For roughly $60 US on Amazon and Universal Radio, it provides the performance of expensive sets without breaking the bank.
The radio has the standard AM/MW & FM bands and includes shortwave and longwave. For single-sideband hobbyists, the PL-390 does not have SSB.
The receiver is bundled with a carrying case, external wire antenna, and an auxiliary plug. Batteries not included.
It has a line input jack should anyone want to listen to an external device like an iPod or tablet. The radio is also powered by batteries and AC via an USB cable. For complete specifications, visit swling.com.
Those hoping for synchronous detection are out of luck, but it has DSP, or Digital Signal Processing. The technology works much the same way by helping reduce interference and fading while providing an audible sound.
Speaking of audio, the speaker quality on the Tecsun PL-390 is good for causal listening. As always, a pair of decent headphones or external speakers would perform better, but the built-in ones should suffice.
The radio allows the user to switch multiple bandwidths between 6, 4, 3, or 2 kHz steps. While most receivers have two settings (wide & narrow), the Tecsun PL-390 gives the listener more options to adjust sound quality.
The default setting works best, however the other steps still provide an audible signal. Keep in mind that the 6 kHz sounds better but may be flooded with static while the 2 kHz step reduces the noise but also sacrifices quality.
Performance-wise, the PL-390 is possibly one of the best radios out there. Between the lineup of Tecsun receivers, it works just as well as the more expensive models.
For example, Radio Australia on 9580 kHz (during 1100 UTC/ 6 a.m. Central) is received very well on both receivers with very little static and fading and no interference. In fact, it sounded better on the PL-390 than PL-660, which costs $40 more.
While it does not compete to the more DXing rigs, it holds its own against others over the $100 price point. This review does not belittle the value of radios such as the PL-660, Sangean ATS-909X, and Eton E5. Those radios are great for multiple reasons.
However, the PL-390 is a great travel radio with the same performance and half the price. It lacks features like SSB and sync detection, but sound quality, reception performance, auxiliary audio ports, and DSP more than make up for it.
In addition to the review, here are some comparison audio files between the Tecsun PL-390 & PL-660. The stations tuned to these radios are Radio Australia and Radio Habana Cuba.
I haven’t posted in a long while. Mainly, I have been busy with work at FedEx and WUMR-FM so very little time has been afforded to me. Whenever spare time is available, some of it has been spent on gaming, mostly on-the-go or trying to finish Assassin’s Creed III.
A couple of weeks ago, I traded in some old, unplayed games and upgraded to a Nintendo 3DS XL (Flame Red) at GameStop. I am not a stranger to 3DS gaming since I used to have the original that released March 2011, so everything is familiar.
Off the bat, the portable device has some tweaks that make the XL the system of choice between the two. The big difference is screen size, which is 90% larger than the original 3DS but keeps the same resolution. One may think that games look crappy, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in quality. Both seem to be the same and games look great on the 3DS XL, especially with 3D turned on.
Speaking of, the larger 4.88 in. top screen makes 3D gaming much more bearable. The eyes do not get as strained and it is much more easier to focus the effect.
The bottom, touchscreen is also bigger (4.18 in.) and makes it easier to interact with games like signing a name, choosing items, menu navigation, etc. Also, it is noted that the stylus has been moved to the right side (as opposed to the top) for easier access.
Other little tweaks include slimmer size (in terms of thickness), heavier but matte plastic finish (less prone to scratches and fingerprints), more responsive analog nub and buttons, and actual physical menu buttons (Start, Select, and Home). Everything that was included in the first 3DS is still present in the XL version. Sadly, there is no second analog stick, but most 3DS games don’t need it and Nintendo has an attachment to remedy that problem.
Also, customers would be glad to know that the 3DS XL comes with a 4 GB SD Card (in addition to the 2GB built into the system), instead of 2 GB. The memory should be more than enough, but the handheld can be expanded to 32 GB SD cards which can be purchased for roughly $30.
Anyone who knows Nintendo is aware of some quality titles and the 3DS offerings are not disappointing. At last year’s launch, the company failed to bringing worthwhile games (the high price point of $250 didn’t help either). Since then, that promise has been fulfilled. Super Mario 3D Land, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Kid Icarus Uprising, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario Kart 7, and Paper Mario are just a few great first-party titles. Third-party companies like Square-Enix, Capcom, and Konami have brought triple A franchises like Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, and Metal Gear Solid to the 3DS as well. Even more game series like Super Smash Bros., Castlevania, Dragon Quest, and Monster Hunter are on the horizon. Then there are classic and current games available on the eShop.
If that doesn’t satisfy, the 3DS and 3DS XL are compatible with DS titles. For example, Pokemon Black & White 2 work well and even having the system opening more options if one downloads the Pokemon Radar App.
I could go on-and-on, but I must compare it with its rivalry…the PlayStation Vita. Even though the Vita has many elements that could make it successful, it lacks great games. Granted it has some, but 3DS has more…possibly because it has been out a year longer. With that said, the Vita is the best handheld I’ve owned from a hardware side, but lacks a huge library to keep most people interested.
Plus, price is a big factor. Even with the XL, the Nintendo 3DS is a much cheaper alternative to the PlayStation Vita. The lowest entry for Vita is $250, while the highest for Nintendo handhelds is $200. Also, you don’t have to buy a separate memory card for the 3DS. Nearly all 3DS games save directly onto the game card. It even comes with system memory and and SD card. For all those features, the Vita lacks memory and even a 4 GB stick will cost $20. Should anyone need to expand 3DS memory, 16 and 32 GB SD cards are widely available and very cheap. While it cost nearly $100 for the max amount of memory for Vita, it is about $70 cheaper for 3DS owners to upgrade.
I am not suggesting either system is perfect or completely flawed. Both 3DS and Vita offer some unique and wonderful experiences. However when it comes to price, the 3DS has a better deal. There are some truly great games, which Nintendo has always been successful with when it comes to portable gaming.
If I would have to suggest between 3DS and Vita, it depends on what you’re looking for. For better graphics, hardcore games, and better controls, the Vita is a good system but expect to spend a lot of money and possibly wait a while for more good titles. For those on a budget who want quality games that play well and look decent, the 3DS has plenty to offer for all different types of gamers. Those who think it is too kiddy might be right, but the games are still pretty enjoyable.
Anyone looking to get a 3DS this holiday season should consider a 3DS XL. The bigger size actually makes the system much better. Those who already own a 3DS wouldn’t need to upgrade, but newcomers may want to look into the XL, especially since it is slightly more expensive ($30 more) than the original 3DS at $170.
It has been a long while since my blog/online portfolio has been updated with posts. Nonetheless I am committed to writing articles, especially those related to radio, video games, and photography. With that said, there is something I want to share with you, the reader.
As a shortwave radio listener (SWL), I am aware that some major broadcasters have stopped their transmissions. In fact, the last post explained how Radio Canada International signed off permanently. Additionally, Radio Netherlands Worldwide stopped broadcasting as a whole. It’s nothing more, but a website claiming to promote free speech.
Newcomers to the radio hobby might wonder if there is anything worth tuning into anymore. There is a book that would tell you that so much programming is still available on shortwave. Heck, you don’t even have to listen to it to enjoy this piece of literature.
The book I am referring to is The Worldwide Listening Guide by John Figliozzi. It is among many radio hobbyist literature including World TV/Radio Handbook, Monitoring Times, and Popular Communications.
I actually had an older version of this book back in 1999/2000 when they were sold in Radio Shack. The edition I have now is the 5th Edition, and has served me well since it was purchased January 2012. While it’s not advertised in Radio Shack, it can be purchased on Amazon, eBay, Universal Radio, and C. Crane for about $25 US.
A word of caution: this book is mainly intended for radio hobbyists living in North America. While it can be used by any region, The Worldwide Listening Guide tailors it to this audience. Many sections reference North American time zones, cities, local broadcasters, and even broadcast mediums available in this continent.
However, I can say this book is like TV Guide, but…for radio. First of all, it covers every single way radio is received in North America. Coverage includes shortwave, AM/FM, Satellite, Podcasting, Internet, and even HD Radio.
In the front, there are several sections for each broadcast medium, which gives an overview, types of equipment, content available, advantages & disadvantages, etc. The meat of the The Worldwide Listening Guide is the program guide. This large section covers nearly every radio show broadcasted. Starting at midnight UTC (or 2000 Eastern time), the pages are filled with program name, station name, time and day it airs, frequency or platform, and program type.
To look for a specific genre of radio program, the “Classified Program Lists” will guide you. Say someone wants to listen to rock music shows or sports talk, the book lists that category and follows with a list of programs, the time/day they air, and which station to find it on.
There are other reference pages like the Program Name & Description List, Glossary, and even Listener Log pages where you can fill in details about your listening experience. You don’t have to be a shortwave listener to enjoy this book.
Having owned this for about 9 months, The Worldwide Listening Guide is a great companion to have while listening to your favorite shows and what to figure out what to listen to. While some information does get a little outdated, the author provides a web link for an updated addition to the existing book until the next edition rolls out.
I would not say The Worldwide Listening Guide is any more or less better than the other competing radio hobbyist books out there. It’s more of supplement to the experience. All these books deserve some attention.
With that said, I recommend The Worldwide Listening Guide for the new shortwave or even just radio hobbyist. It’s easy to read: simple but very detailed & informative.
For those people who listen to shortwave radio, it is getting time for Radio Canada International to sign off permanently. Thanks to budget cuts, the international broadcaster is eliminating its shortwave and satellite radio programming on June 25th. The last broadcast will feature its listener feedback show, Maple Leaf Mailbag which is normally hosted by Ian Jones. As many listeners are doing, I am writing one last e-mail to one of the first broadcasters I have tuned to initally on shortwave back in November 1997. Below is my final letter…
Greetings from Memphis,TN, this is Chris Freitas who has now finished his journalism degree at the University of Memphis. I am saddened to hear that Radio Canada International is shutting down its shortwave and satellite services. Does this also mean that the station will end its streaming audio and podcast services as well? Several broadcasters have left or in the process of leaving the traditional radio business for good. Recently, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has decided to terminate all English broadcasts, including its online services. Do the powers that be realize that they are silencing the only voice to the rest of the world? I love internet radio as much as shortwave but there are still many people worldwide that lack of web access or even a computer. It seems very silly that those in charge of these stations, including RCI, would rather save a buck and lose their audience than staying on the air.
Regardless, I have enjoyed listening to RCI since I first began listening to shortwave in 1997 on a Sears multiband radio. After reading an article in Boy’s Life magazine, Canada was one of the many voices I heard on the HF. If I recall, the frequency was 9740 kHz. Anywho, I really enjoying tuning to Maple Leaf Mailbag, especially when both of you guys were running the show. I realized that Ian has been the host since I have been a SWL. These past 15 years have been eventful to say the least.
Should RCI end its web services, I can still listen to CBC for all things Canada but RCI will be missed dearly. After all, it was one of my first stations I ever listened to on shortwave. I am sad to see many great broadcasters are leaving the medium. Thankfully most of them are online and I still can listen to those voices, but it’s not quite the same as tuning in on a portable radio that doesn’t require a web connection. Internet radio doesn’t hold the joy of trying to find distant signals thousands of miles away from the point of origin. As the curtain closes at RCI, I will remember the fond times tuning in and listening to great stories from Canada to the world…to my home. It has been a friend that is always welcome. I wish everyone at RCI success in finding new employment and future endeavors.
I also wish fellow listeners to not be discouraged about these developments in the HF bands and give internet radio a chance…should you have a internet connection. I am saddened that stations like RCI are leaving shortwave, but many are still alive and well on the worldwide web. After all, it is the content that really matters…not how it is being broadcast per se.
Due to some complaints and wanting to re-make this, I have a RE-review of the new Tecsun PL-660. It is very similar to the PL-600, and can be bought on Amazon and eBay for roughly $80-$100. If you are looking at a new receiver or looking for a comparison to the Sony ICF-SW7600GR and Grundig G3, the PL-660 has a slight edge over the Sony, but is much better than the early G3 models
After seeing some friends getting this, I have my turn for receiving a statement from Amazon.com via e-mail. The message states that based on some purchases, the customer may be charged Tennessee sales tax for the previous year if it was not charged at the time of purchase.
If you’re a resident of this state, then you will need to pay it. However, this law doesn’t apply to out-of-state residents. Amazon customers in Tennessee should come to expect an e-mail soon. Here is the message they sent me today:
Hello from Amazon.com,
Thank you for being a loyal customer of Amazon.com LLC. We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to provide you vast selection, low prices, fast delivery and convenience.
As you may know, Amazon.com LLC is not required to collect sales or use taxes in Tennessee. However, the state of Tennessee requires us to provide the following notice to you:
You may owe use tax on purchases you made from Amazon.com LLC during the previous calendar year. The amount of tax you may owe is based on the total sales price of the items you purchased during the calendar year unless an exemption exists under state law or you have already paid the tax. A sale is not exempt under state law because it is made through the Internet. The total sales price of purchases you had shipped to Tennessee in 2011 was $XX.XX. This is the amount that you may include on your Tennessee use tax return to calculate the appropriate use tax owed unless you have already paid the tax.
As purchases from Amazon.com LLC can be made through various sales channels, we have included directly below your breakdown of purchases from the various channels.
Total sales from http://www.amazon.com $XX.XX
Total sales from http://www.endless.com $0.00
Total sales from http://www.myhabit.com $0.00
Total sales from http://www.amazonwireless.com $0.00
Total sales from http://www.smallparts.com $0.00
In addition, the state of Tennessee requires us to provide you with the following link that you can use to get more information and pay any taxes due:
Use Tax Page: https://apps.tn.gov/usetax
Please note the following:
• While Amazon.com LLC does not report this information directly to the state of Tennessee we are required to provide this information to you based on Tennessee Code T.C.A. § 67-6-5 (f)(3) signed into law March 23, 2012.
• This notification has been sent to all customers that had purchases delivered to Tennessee. If you are not a resident of Tennessee, the most common reason for receiving this notification is that you may have sent a gift to a recipient in the state.
For more information you may also view our Tennessee Use Tax Notification Page at:
Honestly, this whole ordeal is a load of poop. While Amazon claims that it doesn’t have to include sales tax, they really should include it at the time of purchase. This is really bad practice to make its customers wait to get a tax statement a year later and pay a sum of cash since the service was too lazy add the charge. Regular, physical stores don’t do that so why should on-line stores be exempt.
The company should also be aware of state and federal laws and inform their customers AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE that they may be liable to taxes later on. Because everybody loves getting a statement later that suggests, “Oh, we forgot to tell you that you owe money for unpaid taxes. It’s not our responsibility.”
This kind of tomfoolery will drive away customers, which is why I am no longer purchasing anything from Amazon or any online retailer that doesn’t charge you tax straight off the bat. At least, that is my idea until it changes because I don’t want to be responsible for paying a bill that could be too much to handle. I don’t want to waste my time filling out forms so the state can take away money. You don’t do that with Kroger or 7-eleven so why should you for Amazon.
By the way state of Tennessee, you need to enforce online retailers to charge tax at the time of sale. Even with the law in effect, Amazon still doesn’t add the sales tax. It is a shame because I liked finding some awesome stuff on the website.