Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UR-A-Star!


Last night was midterm time in my night class for small business entrepreneurs at City College of San Francisco. Our assignment was to write an original business plan, touching on the following questions:
  1. How is your business unique from others selling a similar product/service?
  2. How will you market and drive people to your business?
  3. What is your projected unit cost? (median cost of what you're selling)
We had to present our idea to the class as if we were pitching the idea to potential investors. There were some highlights in the class, and of course, I took notes:

Presenter: Ian
Age: 29
Business: Cupcakes
Business Title: Cupcaketeria

"Hello, my name is Ian and my business is selling cupcakes at my business which I will call Cupcaketeria. At Cupcaketeria we will stand out from other cupcake businesses because everyone sells sweet cupcakes and we will sell salty or savory cupcakes. Some of the savory cupcakes we will sell will be cupcakes like, like, cornbread with bacon and, like, rice with beans or even sometimes, rice cupcakes with fish. People will want to come to Cupcaketeria because we will sell what will be known as a (holding up fingers to quote) 'San Francisco-style' cupcake that is unique to this city. People will be able to order our cupcakes by the dozen or just stop in for one which will cost $5. My unit cost is $5. Thank you."

Presenter: Amy
Age: 29
Business: Assisted-living home
Business Title: None

"My business will be one where people who are older and need help living can come and live. It will be an assisted-living facility for the elderly. I have a background in pediatrics and gerontology so I feel that I can be a great person to bring this sort of, of, I can bring a lot of knowledge and my education to people who may need my help. So, what else, what else, (flipping through her papers) oh yeah! My unit cost will be $3500 to $4000 dollars per month of living and people will want to live with us because taking care of your grandmom or grandpa will be too difficult for you. But we don't take people with dementia or alzheimer so don't bring your grandmom or grandpa with those diseases because we won't help them...and let's see what else, what else....?"

Presenter: Juanita
Age: 35
Business: Renting "jump houses" for parties
Business Title: UR-A-Star Jumping

"Hello everyone, I'm Juanita and I sell jumping houses, like those houses you see at kids parties at fairs and shit. I've actually already been selling the jumpers to people for awhile now, I'd say like for three years now I've been selling jumpers. But really I just rent the houses. It took a lot of time and I had to save up money to buy my first jumper and I also had to buy a snow cone machine and a popcorn machine and also folding tables and plastic silverware. I have my two sons help me and I don't have to pay them anything so my, what's that called?....my overhead is nothing. I own the jumper and the machines for parties. Also, my business is called (holding up a xeroxed piece of paper with logo) UR-A-Star-Jumping and we say that, "you are a star when you jump," because everyone likes to jump and feels like a star when they jump. One more thing is that this is a proprietorship business and I only sell to people who have no money like in my neighborhood or in a ghetto or something. Other companies are big and too afraid to go into those areas and they also charge too much. But people I sell to will know me and I don't charge much. One day to use a jumper is only $100 and if you want a snow cone machine too I charge for that and can throw in plastic silverware for free and what else can I say about it..., um, um, oh yeah, and I only have one kind of jumper. It's a castle. Other companies rent you shit like boats, dinosaurs or, I don't know, you can jump in a jungle. But I rent my jumper which is a castle. So, that's my weakness is that I only have a castle to jump in but my strength is that I'm cheap. So that's it. That's all. Thanks."

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Friday Three

My parents are flying to Brazil for my cousin's wedding (he's marrying a Brazilian girl). Because it's so far and expensive to go there, only a few people from my family are able to make it. Tomorrow is my mother's birthday and I wanted to call her before they left:

Me: Happy birthday, Mom!

Mom: Well, you're a day early.

Me: I know. But you'll be in Brazil on your birthday.

Mom: Oh, okay. How are you?

Me: I'm good. Are you guys done packing?

Mom: Are we? Oh, well, yeah, I guess so. Your father has his rubber chicken*, well, this is a new rubber chicken. His old one fell apart in the Caribbean so he had to go online and order another one.

Me: He's bringing that thing to Brazil? Why?

Mom: Oh, well, he loves it. All kinds of people talk to him about it.

Me: It's so, so, goofy.

Mom: Your father is goofy. I can't help that.

Me: None of us can.

Mom: He's also got his 'shithead' hat. I always tell him, 'Jess, you're gonna offend someone.'

Me: Mother, you guys are ambassadors for our country and our family. You're going to Brazil to meet this girl and her family for the first time and you're going to let Dad wear a gag chicken looped on Mardi Gras beads and a trucker hat with a hot turd on the visor? I don't think the humor will translate.

Mom: Oh, it will be fine. Don't worry about it, Ryan.

Me: And you don't think you're white trash?

Mom: (laughing) Well, I'm not. It's your father.

SCENE

*For going on 20 years my father has been wearing a plastic beaded-necklace with a rubber chicken on it. The Made-In-China rubber chicken is a miniature, key chain, version of a comic's gag chicken which you can find in any magic shop. He wears it to church, the grocery store and when meeting people for the first time. I'm convinced it screams two things: (1) I don't take myself seriously and (2) I don't take you seriously.
__________

My co-worker Elle was reading me an email, "I just love this food guy, Clark Evans. He says, '...wonderful, I can't wait to do an event with you guys. It's going to be smart, fun and tasty.'"

Me: What did you just say?

Elle: About Clark Evans?

Me: Yeah, the last part.

Elle: Smart, fun and tasty?

Me: OH! I thought you said, fart some and taste it.

Elle: That's just gross.

SCENE

__________



Jon and I have shacked up but we haven't gone so far as to purchase a home and shack up. I'm starting the process now so in a year, when I hope to house hunt forreals, I'll know how to make a proper offer.

I found this cute little house for sale for $639,000. I'm going to check it out on Sunday. It's got a huge back yard, small storage area/structure that can be used as guest quarters, garage, breakfast nook, laundry...I can't take it. It's even blue!

The DMV Can Suck It

My poor 1993 champagne-colored Ford Taurus is on its last leg and I'm donating it to Edgewood before it craps out on me completely. You'd think that'd be an easy process, giving your car to orphaned children and battered wives. Under normal circumstances, yes. But when the "Jones effect" takes place, of which I am hopelessly afflicted, it seems there's always a story.

Here's some background information about my car:
  • I got my car from a government auction for $900.
  • The front driver's-side fender is cracked. (Not from me.)
  • The interior, as my boyfriend describes it, looks like a cougar was unleashed inside for the weekend. (Lots of scratches...also not from me.)
  • The passenger-side door doesn't lock.
  • The back doors don't unlock.
  • There's only a radio, no CD player, no tapes.
  • No heat.
  • The dashboard is digital.
  • When I got my current job I stopped driving my car.
  • I moved to Oakland a year ago. (Not about my car but a fact that will come into play.)
  • I paid for my current vehicle registration in December and still have not received the tags.
  • There's been a crack in the radiator for 4 months and the car overheats.
  • I recently paid about $1000 in repairs.
  • After my car was repaired the head gasket blew.
  • Repairs for the head gasket are above $1500.
  • I've decided to donate my car and let someone else get some use out of it.
  • You can't donate your car unless you have current tags.
  • You can't donate your car unless all parking tickets are paid off.
  • When Alameda county issues parking tickets you're given a code instead of an amount to pay. You have to look-up that code and find the correlating fee and pay that.

As of yesterday, I still have not received my vehicle registration tags (4 months and counting) so I called the DMV. Bare with me:

(After pushing lots of buttons, finding my way through the maze of menus, I wait for 19 minutes to speak with a representative.)

DMV: Hello, Department of Motor Vehicles of California, this is Ronald. How may I help you?

Me: Hi, I paid for my vehicle registration and still haven't received the tags.

DMV: Okay. What's your licence plate number please?

Me: (reading) 4-Z-M-V........

DMV: (typing) One moment please. ... ... ... Okay, it looks like you need to pay for your vehicle registration.

Me: I have. I paid it in December. I have a copy of the deposited check.

DMV: (typing) One moment.... ... ... Okay, I see that. ... You owe $117 for a parking ticket.

Me: I have a parking ticket?

DMV: Yes, ma'am. (!!!) It looks like you paid part of it in February of oh-eight. You owe an outstanding $11 on that ticket.

Me: What!

DMV: Yes, ma'am. It looks like you paid a portion of it and we sent you two notices, one on (reading) April 11th of oh-eight and one on June 16 of oh-eight.

Me: Okay, that makes no sense but I can pay that. Where did you send the notices? I never got any notices.

DMV: One moment please....We sent them to 712 Hayes Street.

Me: I don't live there anymore. I've lived in Oakland for the past year.

DMV: Well, you have to change your mailing address.

Me: I did. I changed it a year ago when I moved.

DMV: Did you change your vehicle licence address too?

Me: I guess. I went on the DMV website and changed my address.

DMV: You changed your mailing address but not your vehicle licence address.

Me: They're the same address. I moved.

DMV: No, they're not. When we punch in your licence plate number we come up with 712 Hayes Street in San Francisco. I see your Oakland address here too, but that is where mail goes, not ticket information unless you change that too.

Me: Okay. That's makes zero sense. My car lives with me, in Oakland. Why when I change my mailing address wouldn't the DMV send mail there?

DMV: Because ma'am, your car's address is different than your mailing address.

Me: But my car doesn't get mail! I do. I understand what you're saying but it doesn't make sense. A mailing address is where I want to get mail! That's why it's a mailing address.

DMV: Okay. One moment please. ... ... ... Can you hold?

Me: Yes.

(I'm on hold for about 15 minutes.)

DMV: Hello, ma'am? Thanks for waiting.

Me: (slightly lower voice) Hello?

DMV: Um, please hold.

(I'm on hold for a brief moment and Ronald picks up again.)

DMV: Hello. What's your name?

Me: Ryan Jones.

DMV: Where's the woman I was just speaking to?

Me: That was me.

DMV: Are you sure?

Me: (getting very, very irritated) Yes! You kept calling me ma'am. I'm a dude!

DMV: Really?

Me: YES! Yes! I'm a guy!

DMV: I'm sorry. I couldn't hear very well I guess, I didn't realize...

Me: It's fine. What did you find out?

DMV: Well, I did some digging and it looks like you owe the $11 on the outstanding parking ticket plus the $106 in late fees...that's the $117, plus $69 for the vehicle registration.

Me: I PAID THE VEHICLE REGISTRATION!

DMV: Okay, okay. I see you paid that, but you paid it late and owe $62 for paying it late. We sent you a notice about that late charge at 712 Hayes Street in San Francisco.

Me: Great! Again, my car's address. Not my address. That's like sending mail to my dog while he's out on a walk. The car doesn't pay the bills, I do! Send mail to MY mailing address.

DMV: I understand.

Me: Is that all?

DMV: Um....yes. That looks like all your holds ma'am, er, uh, I mean, sir. I recommend changing your vehicle's address to your Oakland address and that should correct the problem in the future.

Me: Okay. Fine. I just want to donate my car and get it off my hands. But I've been waiting for these damn tags for months just so I can give my car away.

DMV: That's very nice. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me: (flatly) No, you've been a big help.

DMV: Okay, but just remember to update your vehicle's mailing address and everything will be fine. You can do it online by putting in your vehicle registration information.

Me: Which you have.

DMV: Well, yes, you can put in information from your old registration card but you have to put in the current date of the current registration in order to make that address change.

Me: Really! Well, you have that registration card so the date is pending. Should I put the date I paid for my vehicle registration or put a predicted date of receipt?

DMV: Well, first step is to pay your outstanding fees.

Me: Okay, and then what? My tags are sent to my car or my address?

DMV: It will be sent to you. In Oakland.

Me: I hope so. Because it doesn't sound like I can do one thing with out the other. Can't you just change my address right now?

DMV: Well, not really, no. You have to do that online.

Me: Great. Well, I'll pay for these fees and check with my car to see if it receives anything just to cover my bases.

DMV: Can I help you with anything else, ma'am?

Me: No, you've done enough.

DMV: Thank you for calling the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Me: I'M A DUDE!

SCENE

Friday, March 6, 2009

Inn Foe Mer Shall

I used to love infomercials when I was a kid and would linger on them while switching channels, mesmerized by their comedy and theatrics. Usually the host was amusing but mostly it was the audience members, so taken with the product they'd cut themselves for it.


My favorite infomercials came from Ronco (the "Set it and forget it" people). Their best commercials were the Popeil Pasta Maker and the Solid Flavor Injector (which looks like a hypodermic needle with corn). The Smart Mop infomercial (not Ronco) was especially fun to watch! The host was a Swede that jogged out on stage and riled up the crowd with his promises of slashing your housework in half. His sidekick was a gummy (more gums than teeth) lady that led you to believe she would live and die for the mop sham, which claimed to soak-up everything from spilled soda to hair. And let's not forget the recently advertised PedEgg, the egg-grater that scraps dead skin off your heel just in time for your dinner salad (not really).

Without infomercials we would all be living our lives in black and white, frustrated beyond measure with messy hairstyles and "stink" faces. Thanks to their products there's no dead air on television and thrift stores are stocked full of As Seen On TV gadgets months after the consumer buys them.

But wait, there's more...

Meet Vince, a guy who couldn't make it selling power shakes (I speculate) and was cast as the host of the Sham Wow and Slap Chop infomercials! Watch and learn:

Sham Wow Infomercial: It works wet or dry.


Slap Chop: You're gonna love my nuts.

Look for the "Love My Nuts" remix on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pullet

It's been a slow day at work. Elle and I went to the mall for a 2 hour lunch...they have an impressive international food court, so shut up. We came across the woman (pictured below) eating her Sorabol with intensity. Her unusual hairdo caught my eye.

Elle referred to the hairdo as a "pullet"--a mullet pulled back into a ponytail. I thought that was clever. I'm always trying to coin new phrases so I looked up pullet on Urban Dictionary. No coining today--it was the third definition! Here's all of them:

1. pullet
A mullet on the top of a woman's pussy.

2. pullet
A female chicken.
"Do you like my cock and pullet? "

3. pullet
When you have a mullet with a pony tail in the back.
"Man, that pullet looks like a good handle for receiving oral sex. "

Before I took Miss Pullet's picture, Elle and I debated for a moment about whether or not I should.

Elle's argument against taking a picture:

Yes, her hair is crazy. Agreed. But Miss Pullet is a "special" adult which insinuates that she has little choice in how she acts and few choices in how she dresses. She probably doesn't follow fashion trends, let alone hair trends. Taking a picture of her tragic quaff is mean.

My argument for taking a picture:

Her hair is more than crazy and we don't know that she is "special." But, Miss Pullet, special adult or not, is clearly an independent person. She appears to have come to the mall alone, sans supervision. She also has had a huge array of food choices to pick from in the Stonestown Mall's international food court, which suggests that she is not so "special" that she can't make an independent decision. I'm certain she proudly picked this pullet-style out of a lady hunters spread in Guns & Ammo magazine and doesn't care what anyone thinks. Taking her picture is my way of celebrating her brave and bold flair. It's catty to take her picture, yes, but there's no real malice.

Elle's counter argument against taking a picture:

You're full of shit.

My counter argument for taking a picture:

I'm taking it anyway.

CHEEEESE! *CLICK*

More Pullets


The Worst Kind

(I was giving rent checks to my landlord/neighbor, Murat, and making small talk with him earlier this week.)

Me: Where's Irena?

Murat: Oh, she's out having personal time. It's just me and Bimo [their son].

Me: Good, good, good for her.

Murat: Bimo's been sick all week.

Me: With what?

Murat: Stomach flu. It's awful. I didn't get it, but Irena has had terrible diarrhea all week. The worst kind! (He makes a hand gesture to signify explosive diarrhea; similar to one you might make to convey a bomb exploding out your butt.) She's had to set up camp next to the toilet. It was just bad.

Me: (covering my mouth with my hand) Oh, my.

Murat: And if she wasn't covered in Bimo's puke she had his diarrhea to clean up. And then her own.

Me: Eww.

Murat: Yeah, it was pretty gross. Anyway, she wanted to get out of the house.

(Right then, Irena rides up on her bike and rings the bike bell. *RING RING*)

Irena: Hello!

Me and Murat: Hello!

(Irena rides past us and out of site toward the garage. A moment later there is a huge crashing sound. The play-by-play of this is just like a crash in a sitcom: Person rides through shot on their bike, they ride off-stage and there is a crash-sound followed by a tire bouncing into the shot and finally off stage on the other side. Murat and I run around the corner to see if she's okay. We find Irena "downward-facing-dog" with her leg trapped between the bike frame and the handlebar, the trash cans are knocked over, the drain pipe is pulled off the side of the house and her groceries have spilled out of their mesh bag.)

Murat: Honey!

Me: Oh my God, are you okay?

Irena: Yeah, I'm fine. I just need someone to grab the bike so I can get up.

(I grab the bike and she struggles to get untangled from it.)

Murat: Did you hurt yourself?

Irena: No, not really. Crashing on your bike is not great for an upset stomach.

Me: Oh, I heard.

Irena: (innocently) What did you hear?

Me: Nothing.

SCENE

Crunk and Disorderly

This from Dlisted via Crunktastical.

It's a simple message: There's no breakfast in Heaven.

Jon jokes that I have a lengthy beauty regimen before I go to bed. I wrote a little song about it inspired by "The Breakfast Song."

HIT IT!

No mo' toothpaste.
No mo' dental floss.
No mo' tweezers.
Forget the mouth wash.

(Chorus) One of these evenin's.
God's gonna call me home.
I won't need my clay mask.
I'll be gone!

No mo' tea tree.
No mo' rice scrub.
No mo' toner.
Forget the citrus mist.

(Repeat chorus)

On that evenin'.
When God takes me home.
I won't have no crow's feet.
Cause I'll be gone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Whine and Spit

Jon, Sarah, Nick and I went to the SF Chronicle's Wine Festival this weekend at Fort Mason. I've been in years past and have seen some drunken messes trolling around the booths taking advantage of the free pourings. This Saturday was no different, but still fun. At one point Jon and I ducked out for some fresh Bay air. We were both wearing Smiley Face vineyard stickers when two younger girls came up to us.

(Girl 1: Brunette, slender, rough-looking teeth (one of them small like a chihuahua fang) and glitter eye make-up. Girl 2: Brunette, not slender (read: fat), braces, chipped fingernail polish and dirty shoes.)

Girl 1: Where did you get those stickers?

Jon: Oh, at that Smiley Face vineyards booth.

Girl 2: They're so cool. I want one.

Jon: You can just go right in and ask for one.

Me: They're next to the lamb curry booth.

G1: Oh.

(Five minutes of idol "weather" and "wine" talk.)

J: So, are you guys twins?

(Girl 2 laughs a little and Girl 1 looks offended.)

G1: Us? Twins?

J: Well, maybe sisters. You kinda look alike?

G2: We do?

G1: (offended) Really?

J: Sort of...in the eyes. (to me) Aren't their eyes both almond-shaped?

Me: (not seeing the connection) Uh, yeah, I guess.

G2: I don't think we look alike. I'm, like, a Mexican. A Taco Bell Mexican.

G1: I'm, Asian, but no one asks me if I'm Asian. I guess I don't really look Asian. But I am.

G2: Yeah, I'm Mexican, German and, I don't know, lots of things.

Me: You're like one of those spit buckets.

G2: What?

Me: You know, those huge buckets full of all the wine people don't like and spit out.

G1: Huh?

G2: I guess.

(No one knows what to say next and we kick at the ground.)

J: Well, we should get back to our friends. Enjoy the festival!

SCENE

Pictures courtesy of Jon Olives:
Me outside multi-tasking.

Me and Jon at the beginning.

Me, Nick, Sarah and Jon.

Me toward the end of the day. I smell like Amy Winehouse.