Thursday, February 23, 2017

My 1500 cents

Call me naive, call me a lunatic, but more businesses need to pay more than market minimum. Workers are more productive than ever. Think about that drive-thru employee is listening to your order while transacting with the person ahead of you. Now that that's in your head, do you remember what it's like to talk to two people at once about different things? Granted, you're not exactly discussing the merits of universal healthcare and basic income with the drive-thru associate, but multitasking in that way requires practice. Now, add money handling and some spot reading for entering these items into a console. Is that skill really only marginally valuable? Is that really what fast food workers did 20 years ago?

What about clerical work? It's true that certain types of knowledge are left to your supervisors and co-workers, like processes, policies, and management. However, so many questions can be Googled verbatim and avoid the labor of old school research. During my telephone customer service job at Zumiez, 15 of us (in shifts of 8-10 people) handled website issues, orders and store feedback for 600 stores across the nation. One phone call could have me using up to 8 different applications. This could not have been done at this level of efficiency 25 years ago, plain and simple.

Most of those store owners and CEOs didn't have to work at that capacity in that position in their time. I'm not saying they didn't have their challenges, but there needs to be a lot more empathy for raising the wage floor. The workforce asks a lot of their employees, and it's insulting to argue against raising minimum wage.

Obviously, opponents of raising minimum wage aren't against paying employees more. You'll hear reasoning that higher wages mean higher prices in general rising. Well, maintaining the status quo has screwed us over. Also, products aren't going to cost $6 per hour more. That is impossible. People might have a few years of tight wallets while the markets adjust, but I am positive about the outcome. Hopefully some opportunists will sock away their extra funds in this period of adjustment.

A restaurant in Seattle did away with tips after making the change in wages. So, while their menu prices have gone up, customers who are satisfied with their servers making a living wage won't be shelling out that much more to eat. Of course, frugal peeps like you and me say they should be cooking at home, and that this is a luxury anyway! However, I don't want that to detract from the case I'm building that the conscientious customer force is growing; there are lots of people who pay more because they know workers get more. This doesn't have to be just restaurants. Consider the consumers who make an effort to buy products made in America because the goods are likely produced under fair work conditions. Whole Foods and Costco don't show any signs of slouching on prices or employee pay. These businesses are certainly targeting those who have the money for it, and the $15 minimum would welcome some people into this group. That oughtta do some good, eh?

Then there are others who currently make under $15 and more than minimum wage, and fear they'll suddenly be out-earned. Are you kidding me? Do you really think your profession's unions and employees won't demand more once they see the world still standing after such a dramatic change? If not, quit your job and apply for the new minimum wage!

One last common argument against raising the minimum wage is that there will be less work to go around. Automation is coming anyway, and businesses have long been shafting employees of benefits by keeping them under full-time status. Also, I've stitched together 3 jobs to make a living before: this new minimum may mean people in that position only have to work 2.

So that's my 1500 cents on minimum wage. Cost of living is going up anyway, and we all work hard and so deserve it. If you are in Seattle, you're all set cause it's coming. Maybe we can next focus on the stingy bullshit 2 weeks annual vacation, or ridiculous heavy-handedness in giving managers bonuses that they don't pass on to their underlings next. Maybe we can abolish or limit exempt (overtime without pay) and keep the deserving managers a little happier.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gaming Goals in 2017

Part of my frugality includes my 2 games beaten, 1 game bought policy. I didn't do very well last year, achieving 1.4 games beaten for each new one I spent money on in 2016. Well, why not make a plan this time? This list of games I want to play in 2017 is an attempt to balance newly-acquired games and ones that have been sitting around for longer. While I'm at it, I might as well talk about em!

1) Axiom Verge. I saw a preview video a year or so ago, and just got it now cause it was on sale.

2) Infamous 2: First Light. Really fun, if ridiculous, game, and a solid, quick platinum trophy package.

3) Funk of Titans. This looked like a neat platformer of which I only saw a snippet.

4) Defense Grid. I love tower defense games, and haven't seen anything I liked for the current generation of systems. Hopefully this scratches the itch!

I have no idea what this game is about...
5) Sideway. This street-art-style platformer has been sitting on my PS3 for years, and has a very easy trophy rating. The perspective reinforces that you are a 2d sprite sometimes, just like the 3ds Zelda game, so that's cool.

6) Danganronpa. I saw it as a recommendation for a fun-and-easy platinum list.

7) Oceanhorn. I bought it in January, and this top-view adventure game is going to be dope daddy dollars! There have been comparisons to Wind Waker, and that is a good thing.

8) I am Setsuna. I missed TWO sales on this classic JRPG with Chrono Trigger-style combat, with the rationale that I'd buy it after I did more damage to my backlog.

9) Any Final Fantasy titles because Final Fantasy rules.

10) Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild. Ditto for above.

I look forward to experiencing these titles, and will of course let you know the skinny on how these games treated me. First up: Axiom-Verge-a-go-go!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Games of 2017: January's Task

Happy New Year! 2017 has gone off to a good start: I'm back into Overwatch, and doing a pretty well, after a frustrating Fall. Mei is still overpowered, but some recent tweaks, such as making more loot chests, an extra map, and Mystery Heroes has revived my interest in the game. It's just too bad I still get shitty loot boxes. In related news, January 2017 was my most platinum-trophy-productive month ever! Added bonus: 3 out of 4 of these games were free via PS+.

select item, select action, figure it out!
In the first week of January, I'd already gotten two platinum trophies! Day of the Tentacle was this month's free PS+ download, and I did everything in one session. The actual game is an old-school LucasArts adventure game with tons of light-hearted comedy that totally fell flat on me. The puzzles and barriers in games like this are often obscure and require an extensive memory, so I usually use guides to blaze through. Luckily, kind souls out there write spoiler-free guides so that I can get both the experience and the goodies.

Zap da giant 'nukular' ants
The other game was recommended by my friend, Damon of Videogames and Sushi, and is called Deadly Tower of Monsters. This is a beat-em-up action game that's gimmick is that it's supposedly a cheesy low-budget 70s-style sci-fi flick. The obnoxious director narrates, and the game's setting gives it plenty of permission to be totally random. It was the perfect length at about 5 hours to platinum, start to finish. Luckily, only an hour of that was backtracking, so that's just icing on the cake!

Third on my January platinums list was my favorite game in a while: Stories: Path of Destinies. This game has a lot going for it, including a hilarious narrator that tells the whole story, twists, jokes and all. It's laid out like a book, and throughout the 45-minute game, you get to make 4-5 major choices in the story, resulting in some 25 different endings. In most of the endings, main characters end up dead, and there is pretty much only one happy ending, which you have to piece together the right choices. You'll end up playing the same linear levels, with slightly different goals, and there are parts where paths split, too. However, Reynardo the fox, your badass hero, is quite the menace to his enemies.
Take that, ravens!
The combat in this game flows like the Batman games in that you're surrounded by enemies and take them down, one move at a time. You level up and learn additional combat skills, and I would recommend this game to anyone!

This gun provided a...riveting experience
The caboose on my platinum trophy train was Bioshock 2 on the PS4, which was my first time playing the title. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. I think the warnings I'd gotten about the game were due to the PS3 version's multiplayer, which was cut from the remaster. The trophies are merciful in that you only need to get most of the collectibles, and as long as you stay on your toes, you won't die very often. Even on the highest difficulty, I found myself overloaded with ammo and money. My favorite part of the game was early on, you get to walk through a broken amusement park built by Andrew Ryan, with animated dioramas that show how "the parasite" (government) always steals from the common man's hard work and brilliant ideas. This series' world-building is the best in the biz, and you should definitely try it out, if you haven't!

There you have it, 4 platinum trophies in 31 days. What was your most productive month ?

At work and in your personal life, how many accounts do you have that require a login?

Dudes. Chicks. Calm that consumer rush. This is a hard one, cause I try harder than the average Joe to be frugal and not financially wast...