How to Manage Two Part-Time Jobs

Derek working two part-time jobs

Being unexpectedly let go from Viddler was scary, but (as I’ve mentioned before) God gave me a huge feeling of peace about it. Since then, I’ve somehow made my living through freelance videography, photography, and hosting an Airbnb. I’ve looked for full-time jobs roughly every six months and rarely got a callback for an interview. In 2017, Lydia saw that Amazon was hiring. I worked there for seven months before I began getting a repetitive strain injury (a common occurrence in warehouse work) as a PIT operator (forklift driver). Within a week or two of being treated by Amazon’s on-site nurses, I got hired as a videographer for Powerteam International. That job soon added social media marketing and  a personal assistant to the CEO. I was gung-ho; let’s do this! Six months later, they wanted to reduce my minimum wage to even less and I wouldn’t be able to live on that.

Okay, you’re up to speed with the last decade of my jobs. After Powerteam, I was applying for full-time jobs yet again. I had some promising interviews at places I would enjoy. I was declined a couple of great positions. However, I did get hired part-time at Sam’s Club. I was utterly nervous to work as a cashier. I hadn’t worked directly with money since living in Australia; American cash is much harder to distinguish between denominations. Alas, I figured it out. They also require cashiers to upsell customers to Plus memberships and credit cards. I can sell something I believe in, but I barely believed in those offerings.

A month after joining Sam’s Club, I got an interview at Staples. Another part-time position. Woohoo! Perhaps I can finally bring in enough money to support my growing family. After juggling both jobs for a month, I started to have conflicts in my schedule. Both jobs would schedule me for a Sunday. Sometimes shifts would overlap by just an hour and I would be able to convince someone to cover me for the last hour at Sam’s Club. That couldn’t last long though; Sam’s Club only allows three call-offs in a rolling three month period. I had three in a matter of two weeks. Staples was giving me more hours, but Sam’s Club pays more. I really need both. Staples creates their schedule six weeks in advance. Sam’s create theirs three weeks in advance. Yes, I asked multiple managers at Sam’s whether I could give them my advanced Staples schedule for them to work around, but they refused to do so because “the computer creates the schedules and we tweak it as needed”.

Do you want the kicker? I’ve discovered in the past couple of months that most retail stores aim to save costs my having employees work the bare minimum possible. At a grocery store, that means 1-2 cash registers open on a weekday (read: slow days). Sure, customers can use self-checkout or an app to purchase their items… but if customers don’t want to use modern technology to purchase their items (or they want to pay with an archaic cheque), then they get cranky. I digress.

How on earth does someone juggle two part-time jobs? The only way I see it being possible is if you work a day shift and a night shift. But then you don’t sleep.

I worked nights at Amazon and I made it work (read: I didn’t see the sun much and I didn’t have much of a social life). I wouldn’t have been able to work in the daytime on my three off days from Amazon though. Even trying to switch to being awake during the day on my off days was a struggle; I’ve realised good sleep is very important for my health.

The answer? It’s not possible. At least in the retail industry. Hone in on the job you enjoy most (for me it’s Staples because I’m in Print & Marketing and I can use more talents than just a smile) and seek to get more hours or a full-time position there.

Photos by Christopher Hoyle and Lydia Steen.

Tip: Parking a car safely

I’ve always said if I ever buy/own a car then I will take impeccable care of it because it’s an extremely expensive piece of machinery and I don’t want to be wasting my money making unnecessary fixes on it.

Parking your car might seem like a trivial thing to do, but choosing a good parking spot could be the difference between your pristine car and a dent in your car.

A few things to pay attention to when parking are:

  • Parking under a tree.
    They can be great for shade and keeping your car cool, but keep an eye out for sap and other oils that could be dripping from the tree along with any birds in the tree. Sap, oil, and bird droppings will damage the paint and could remove sections of it completely — exposing the metal frame to the elements and eventually rust.
  • Don’t park next to oversize vehicles.
    The drivers of large pickup trucks, semi trailers, and construction vehicles will most likely need lots of room to exit their parking space. You don’t want your car to be nearby when they attempt to do that. Also, these vehicles have large heavy doors and could easily open wide and dent your car.
  • Don’t center park on a hill.
    As visually described in my video, leave more of a gap between the car that’s higher on the hill than your car. This way, if they lose grip on their door when it opens, then it will be less likely the door will swing wide and dent your car.
  • Park farther away from your venue/destination if it means your car will be safer.
    Being lazy and parking as close to the place your going by taking a parking space on the street rather than in a secure parking lot can result in scratches from cars driving by. For example, they could drive over a rock and fling it along the side of your car.

In the end, you can’t prevent all scratches, dents, and other mishaps unless you just don’t drive your car — which is the point of owning it.

This is just some advice for looking after your car a little better when you need to park it.

If you have any of your own tips, then please leave them in a video comment or a text comment below.

Wedding Photo Tips Wanted

On Saturday (less than two days from now) I’ll be the photographer for one of my best friends’ wedding. I took some great casual photos at her older sister’s wedding a few years ago, but now I’m the photographer.

Last night was the rehearsal — heh, it’s like an acting job — and I feel fairly confident in the area. Especially after I was told I can roam around and do whatever I want. Another person at the rehearsal jokingly told me he’d give me a Freddo Frog for every person I stop on. I told him “you’re on!” 😉

I’ve been studying the art of wedding photography through many different websites, and I feel as prepared as I can be. Though, I think I’m going to hire a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens for some wide perspectives.

Here’s my list of equipment:

Cameras:
Canon EOS 400D (Rebel XTi)
Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi)

Lenses:
Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens
Canon EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens
Canon EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
Canon EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens

Flash:
Canon Speedlite 430EX

Moreover, I feel I’m covered for all focal lengths. I’ll use the 50mm f/1.8 on one camera and alternate between the 55-250mm f/4-5.6 and the 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 on the other camera. I’ll probably keep the flash on the second camera because the 50mm f/1.8 will be fine for the available light.

Here’s a bunch of fantastic sources I’ve found for wedding photography ideas:

21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers
Wedding Photography Sydney Directory (tips and locations for wedding photography in Sydney)
Taylor-Made Photography (Trudi was my photography teacher at college and marked gave me full marks for my final assessment.)
Ryan Brenizer’s Amazon Blog (NYC Wedding Photographer)
Ryan Brenizer’s amazing slide show for a fun wedding (which I found from his Flickr)

Do you have any further tips for me?

Flip Mino HD or Something Else?

Nov 21, 2008: UPDATE at the bottom with reviews of the Flip Video MinoHD from people who have used them. In short, the reviews are just as I expected; pretty horrible.

August 16, 2009: The Flip Ultra HD was announced a few months ago and it still doesn’t have an autofocus lens. Even the iPhone 3GS has autofocus/tap-to-focus. The Flip is DEAD!

April 12, 2011: As predicted: The Flip is DEAD!

I don’t own a Flip Video camera, but I know many people that do. The videos created with it (example) look fantastic! Especially on Viddler. I’ve held a couple and it’s quite different to a traditional camera; you hold it in a vertical fashion rather than horizontal. It’s great if you need to capture a quick video an upload it to the web. But that’s where its use ends.

You can’t take photos. There’s a very limited menu system. There’s no expandable memory slot. It doesn’t have an optical zoom. The lens isn’t wide angle, thus when creating self videos (by holding the camera in reverse at a distance) you’ll have to stretch your arm farther to get a medium closeup. As of November, 2008, it costs about US$230 [check current price].

I’m a video guru and professional. I’ve been creating videos since I was born. So I’d like to share my thoughts on why you probably shouldn’t get the new Flip Mino HD. Over the past couple of years I spent many hours trying to decide on what kind of high-definition video camera to buy. Every couple of months a new model would be released with features such as a new sensor, more memory, and a smaller body. I could never find a model that met all my needs.

When I came to America in June, I continued to look for a model that would suit me. I still couldn’t find something that was perfect for me though. Then, in August, Jan tweeted about her new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 [Review / Buy on Amazon]. I researched this point-and-shoot camera and concluded that it was the right camera for me right now. Not perfect, but for the size and price it’s great! I bought one. Here’s the first video recorded with it:

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 records in HD 720p 30fps (same as the Flip Mino HD, but the Panasonic has a larger sensor and better lens), takes photos at 9MP, and records to SD/SDHC cards.

Note – The TZ5 also records in the following formats:

4:3 aspect ratio:
640 x 480, 320 x 240
30 fps, 10fps
16:9 aspect ratio:
848 x 480 – 30 fps, 10 fps
HD: 1280 x 720 (aka 720p) – 30fps, 15fps

I am always amazed at the quality of video that is recorded with my TZ5! It saves the files as .MOV. I compress them down using these settings and upload them to Viddler where they look stunning! I guess I’m a little biased because I own the TZ5. Though, from what I’ve researched, it’s honestly the best value. Did you know it’s currently the same price as the Flip Mino HD or less?! Check Amazon’s price. Let’s talk about some other similar options that are out there. The Flip Video’s direct competitor is the Kodak Zi6 [Review / Buy on Amazon]. Here’s some quick specs on it:

Storage 128 MB internal memory*, SD/SDHC card expansion slot
Focus modes normal, close-up
Video capture H.264 (MOV), AAC LC
Video quality HD60: 720p at 60 fps—16:9 HD: 720p at 30 fps—16:9 (default) VGA
Still format JPEG
Picture quality 3MP (stills, interpolated – the act of taking a smaller image and resampling it as a larger image; it is not actually taking 3MP images.)
Microphone mono
Speaker yes
I/O interface USB 2.0 (high-speed); component output; AV output
Tripod mount 1/4 in. standard
Power (2) AA batteries (Ni-MH recommended)

* 128 MB internal memory/approximately 30 MB available for image storage. BAM! Pretty neat, but not quite as jam-packed as the TZ5.

A quick note on batteries — In my experience, I find that most consumers prefer digital cameras that take AA batteries because if you run out of power, you can just go to the nearest shop and buy some. I prefer to have at least 2 Li-ion batteries made by the manufacturer of the camera. This way I have one in the camera and one in my bag (charged). They’re also rechargeable which means you won’t be spending a lot of money on batteries. Rechargeable batteries eventually loose their highest charge, but by the time they do you’ll have a new camera. The fact that the Kodak Zi6 uses AA batteries is one factor why I wouldn’t consider getting one.

My friend Brandice has a Kodak Zi6 and likes it because it’s like the Flip Video cameras, but has an SD card slot. She also said it has an issue with image stabalisation as the Flip does. This image stabalisation could be fixed in the Flip Mino HD’s new software (Pure Digital Video Engine 3.0), but I haven’t used one. (Please let me know in the comments if you use one and find it good.)

Check some test videos Brandice recorded with her Kodak Zi6:
Macro/Closeup

Driving/Movement
Ambient music

Next!

Most of Kodak’s current range of point-and-shoot cameras offer HD 720p video. I’ll list another and then tell you a little bit about video in DSLRs. The Kodak EasyShare Z1285. Afif just bought one and he has some an example video from it on his Viddler. It has captures 12MP photos, records HD 720p video (Kodak displays the words “True HD” on images of the camera, but that doesn’t mean it’s Full HD: 1080p), has 5x optical zoom, and can bake you a try of moist cookies in less than 4 minutes. [Auuhhhhh! Just making sure you’re still with me. ;)] It does all the other standard things you would expect from a point-and-shoot. It has a nice SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH VARIOGON lens too!

Who cares about the lens? I want MEGApixels! — In short, it’s a mix of the lens and the sensor. You can have a millions of pixels (a megapixel), but there’s no point if it doesn’t have nice, crisp glass for the light to flow through. You know photography is painting with light, right? Generally, larger the surface area of the lens, the better quality image you’re going to obtain; especially in low-light. For the average camera enthusiest, 8MP is high enough to print large posters of your photographs!

Onward!

On August 27, 2008, Nikon released their D90 [Review / Buy on Amazon] model: the first Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera that records video. When I heard this announcement I was appalled; you can’t force the mirror on a DSLR to stay open and record video. I guess I’m traditional; I started SLR photography in a darkroom, with chemicals.

Then… I saw the video that Justine recorded with her Nikon D90 and I was amazed because of the ability the photographer has to zoom in and out so quickly (far quicker than I’ve seen any camera under $10,000 zoom). I’m still indifferent about video in a DSLR, but the DOF and zooming would definitely be a plus!

Canon retaliated less than a month later with the 5D Mark II [Review / Buy on Amazon]. It captures video at Full HD (1080p), takes 21MP photos, HDMI video output, and a microphone socket (for external mics). Those DSLRs are in excess of $1,500 right now, so that’s not an affordable option (for most) if you just want HD 720p video.

The following is what I would recommend you have a look at for affordable HD 720p video:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 [Review / Buy on Amazon]
– Any point-and-shoot Kodak camera with HD 720p
Kodak Zi6 [Review / Buy on Amazon]
Sanyo Xacti E2 [Buy on Amazon] (Not HD, but waterproof and great 4:3 video!)
– Any of the cameras above plus the Flip Mino HD so you can use the good camera to record yourself melting down the Flip Mino HD into a gooey substance.

Articles I’ve read about the Flip Mino HD:
It’s Official: Pure Digital Launches the Flip Mino HD by NewTeeVee
A Camcorder Insurgent Goes HD by The New York Times [via Daynah]

Here’s an interesting site about the differences between CCD and CMOS image sensors.

Flip Video MinoHD reviews:
Obsessable Flip Mino HD Review
Andy Inhatko’s Flip Mino HD vs Kodak Zi6 Review
Flip Mino HD vx Kodak Zi6 vs Flip Ultra Video Cameras