Saturday, December 27, 2008
Steve Cochran, the evening announcer for WGN radio, couldn't let that one lay, of course. Right before Christmas, Dean was on Steve's show going over the best and worst movies of the year. Steve, comedian that he is, handed Dean a wrapped gift. Dean opened it. You could see the pained look on his face through the radio. It was Mamma Mia, of course. Not just the DVD, either--this was the CD of the Mamma Mia soundtrack. Dean, of course, expressed his true feelings and thanks for this 'gift'. One of the WGN folks suggested re-gifting it. At this point, all sorts of things popped into my head about what he could do with that CD, so I wrote him an email. It went as follows:
I heard on Steve's show this evening that you'd received a Mamma Mia
soundtrack from him, and there was a suggestion to re-gift it. However,
there are so many other uses for this, and I thought I'd share some with
you as inspiration. Note that the tongue is planted firmly in cheek....
1. Since I'm sure you're going to get a bunch of these for Christmas,
string them up with pretty colored string, a la Martha Stewart, and
attach them to a decorative hook. Non-decorative hooks, of course,
simply will not do. Adjust the string lengths so that the CDs will
overlap to whatever degree you desire. Hang it up outside as a wind
chime. I'm sure the music it creates that way will be just as lovely.
2. Thread a napkin through the center hole and use it as a napkin ring
for an '80's or 90's theme party.
3. Find a dowel rod that is just slightly smaller than the center hole.
Spray paint it whatever Martha Stewart has said is the color of the
season, and let dry. Place one or more disks on the hole, and slide
them down so that they're an equal distance apart, and use a hot glue
gun (following all safety instructions on the package) to secure the
discs in place. Glue on various kitschy things to add decor, making it
gaudy without being completely gauche. Place the dowel upright in a
decorative stand and secure in place. A non-decorative stand, of
course, simply will not do. Use this as a tiered appetizer tray on your
table. Make sure it's clean, of course. This is important. I'm
thinking you could fit about 8 to 10 mini-tarts or Hershey kisses on
each CD tray. Imagine the oohs and aahs that will come from your guests
when they view this creation.
4. Conduct scientific experiments. There are many things you could
attempt to do, such as testing how much pressure it takes with a ball
point pen, key, or wire brush in order to scratch it. You could test its
melting point or the amount of vegetable oil it takes to dissolve it in
one of the local university chemistry departments. Please do not do
this inside your house. I take no responsibility for any noxious fumes.
Please use appropriate safety gear and whatever other legal disclaimers
belong here so that I can't get sued if the CD blows up.
5. Coat it with peanut butter and then roll it in birdseed or sunflower
seeds. Thread some twine through the center hole and hang it outside
from a tree as a little bird feeder.
6. If you have received so many CDs that you still don't know what to do
with them--glue them all around a giant styrofoam ball, covering it as
fully as possible. Hang it from the ceiling and shine a light on it,
using it as an impromptu disco ball. Play real ABBA music at the party.
7. Use it as a plant coaster for a Chia pet. It's the only kind of
plant I can think of that deserves that honor.
Hope you find these suggestions of some use. I'm not quite sure what
use that might be, of course.
Happy Holidays to you and the entire WGN crew!
Dean actually took the time out of his insane schedule (I honestly don't know how he keeps up with it all) to drop me an email back, saying, "Absolutely hilarious!! Merry Christmas, Dean." I thought that was quite nice of him to send that, and I got a kick out of giving him a good laugh.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Trusty Hubby also got me TuneTools for iPod, Multimedia edition. I'm not 100% sure what to think of the fact that the information for this product leads me directly to the tech support page instead of the usual "Gee, look how wonderful our product is!!!111!!!11!!!" page. This generally does not bode well for the product. Nevertheless, the software has, among other things, a transfer feature to move music from your iPod to your computer. This is A Good Thing in case you have multiple iPods in your family, as we do. I discovered rather early on in my iPod life that if you sync an empty iPod or even someone else's iPod on a full iTunes library, iTunes will occasionally cheerfully delete your entire library. This made me Most Unhappy the one and only time this happened. I just KNEW those 1's and 0's were really still in there, but iTunes refused to cooperate in spitting them back out, no matter what I did. Apparently this happens fairly often, because when I emailed Apple about this to try to get my music recopied, they didn't even laugh, they just gave me a download code for my purchased music after I provided them the information they wanted.
I also discovered if your hard drive gets wiped, as has happened to me 3 times in the last year now, and your iTunes library happens to be considerably larger than your iPod, which is my case, you lose whatever's not on your iPod at that point, unless you've gotten smart and backed up your music elsewhere. Most of us are not smart enough to back up their music 'elsewhere', wherever that might be. Then there's also the issue of sharing music. Now, I'm not talking about outright stealing of music, I'm talking about sharing music within your family, although I suppose the RIAA will inform me via certified email/letter/voice of God that there's some fine print inserted on the edge of the CD in microscopic print that I may only copy it to one iPod at a time, and that I agree to this legal contract if I merely touch the outer plastic wrap of the CD.
So after losing my music twice, I decided to back up my music "elsewhere". This included purchasing an external hard drive, which I believe may have added to my score on the Geek test (and if there is no question about this on the Geek Test, there should be). I also decided to save it on a different folder on my computer as well to make importing to different iPods easier. Apple does not always make this immediately obvious. I suppose they want people using their iTunes as often as possible, lest we miss one of the Genius ideas they present. This simple would not do.
So, I browsed download.com and found a free and very useful utility called PodLift. It's not fancy, and you have to follow the instructions carefully, but there aren't that many instructions and they're easy, anyway. It's saved my music a couple of times and has made it easier to transfer music to other iPods. Since it's freeware, you can't argue about cost, especially after all the money spent on iPods and accessories this time of year. Hopefully you will enjoy it as well.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
Friday, November 21, 2008
So anyway, this is for all of us political junkies.
You know you're a political junkie when....
1. You're sad after the election not because your candidate wasn't elected, but because the news coverage of politics has dropped dramatically. In fact,, some of us may be sad in spite of our candidate getting elected.
2. You can name not only the Senators and Congressperson for your district, but also the Speaker of the House, Senate Majority leader, all Cabinet staff, the 9 Supreme Court justices, and the Joint Chiefs of staff, along with the governors for all 50 states and the mayors of the top 10 largest cities. You know not only their political affiliations but also their shoe sizes and favorite desserts.
3. You know that a minority whip is not some kind of kinky riding crop.
4. You know that 'cloture' is not a medical term, nor does it refer to curdled sour cream.
5. You know the rule for Presidents elected in years ending in zero, and you know the exceptions to the rule.
6. You prefer going to political rallies over any movie or sporting event.
7. You are also devastated that the really good ones won't be back for a good two years or so.
8. You're a registrar and/or work at the polls every election.
9. And you do it for free.
10. You've voted at every election you could once you reached legal age, even if it was just for the city dog-catcher and county horticulturalist.
11. You've spoken with your local alderman, county supervisor, state representative, state senator, and have visited Washington in the hopes of meeting with you Congressperson and Senators.
12. And you have done this at least twice.
13. And you haven't done it because it's part of your job.
14. You can name every President.
15. And Vice-President.
16. And do it backwards.
17. You wonder why more people don't email their representatives, because you do so at least weekly (you may be a die-hard, but you don't want to look like a stalker by contacting them daily).
18. The Secret Service recognizes your email address and IP anyway.
19. You listen to Rush Limbaugh because a. you actually agree with his conservatism and live for his daily words of wisdom, or b. can't stand the guy but want to be completely informed of The Enemy's Tactics.
20. You have a love/hate relationship with Bill O'Reilly for the same reason.
21. You know who Charles Krauthammer writes for.
22. You know the odds on if/when Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani will run for President.
23. You know the shade of the lipstick on the mythical pig.
24. You studied political science in college.
25. Then went for your master's.
26. And because you're a complete masochist, went on for a PhD.
27. You know that Al Gore did not invent the internet.
28. You feel the need to go find some more political news right now....
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Seriously, I'm glad that Turbine has made the commitment to making the game look good an play fun. I picked up Guild Wars last year, and Trusty Friend Bob Lion finally convinced me to pick up LotRO as an alternative, mainly because he wants more Trusty Friends to come play with him. We're on the Silverlode server, although I also have a character on the Brandywine server because I also want to be able to play with my Trusty Friends from The Lost Haven, which is the guild I play with in Guild Wars.
Ooo--4% of those 15k have made it to my laptop now....
So what am I doing while waiting for this expansion to really hit my desktop? Skyping with Trusty Friends and reading Lucasforums, of course. Bob and I are waiting for my game to update so we can start new characters, so in the meantime we're chatting. It's going something like this:
[11/17/2008 11:07:10 PM] Bob Lion54 says: AHOY!
[11/17/2008 11:07:13 PM] Bob Lion54 says: AHOY!
[11/17/2008 11:07:15 PM] Bob Lion54 says: AHOY!
[11/17/2008 11:07:22 PM] Bob Lion54 says: MORIA!
[11/17/2008 11:07:47 PM] Jae Onasi says: Is it up?
[11/17/2008 11:08:08 PM] Bob Lion54 says: The servers are being brought up right now.
[11/17/2008 11:11:50 PM] Jae Onasi says: cool
[11/17/2008 11:12:16 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Are you updated?
[11/17/2008 11:17:25 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Silverloade is UP!
[11/17/2008 11:19:16 PM] Jae Onasi says: Sweet! I'm getting on
[11/17/2008 11:19:35 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Good luck.
[11/17/2008 11:20:02 PM] Bob Lion54 says: It's erroring out because of all the people trying to get on. lol
[11/17/2008 11:20:31 PM] Jae Onasi says: Mine's decrypting or something like that
[11/17/2008 11:20:39 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Oh damn.
[11/17/2008 11:20:42 PM] Jae Onasi says: and I updated.
[11/17/2008 11:20:58 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Yea, it has to actually patch the game now.
[11/17/2008 11:21:14 PM] Jae Onasi says: I guess it didn't like what I d/l'd and installed yesterday or the day before
[11/17/2008 11:22:15 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Blast, I can't get in.
[11/17/2008 11:22:28 PM] Jae Onasi says: Bob!!what class should I make now--warden or runekeeper?
[11/17/2008 11:22:37 PM] Jae Onasi says: It's still updating mine
[11/17/2008 11:22:42 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Whichever you want.
[11/17/2008 11:23:01 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Or both!
[11/17/2008 11:23:33 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Make a Man Warden and do the starter instance with me.
[11/17/2008 11:23:38 PM] Jae Onasi says: Both!! Yes!!
[11/17/2008 11:23:52 PM] Bob Lion54 says: I updated earlier and it took forever.
[11/17/2008 11:24:15 PM] Jae Onasi says: I'm up to 32 of 49
[11/17/2008 11:24:31 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Wait, there's another part after that.
[11/17/2008 11:24:42 PM] Jae Onasi says: Man, I updated the client the other day!!
[11/17/2008 11:24:45 PM] Bob Lion54 says: And it will take a while.
[11/17/2008 11:25:14 PM] Jae Onasi says: But I will make a (wo)man warden and do the starter instance with you happily
[11/17/2008 11:25:30 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Well, the files we just put in place, but not implemented. Now it has to go through all the files and make the changes.
[11/17/2008 11:25:36 PM] Jae Onasi says: If it updates before midnight, otherwise I can't do much since I have to work tomorrow, sadly
[11/17/2008 11:26:16 PM] Bob Lion54 says: lol, I watched episode 3 while mine was updating earlier.
[11/17/2008 11:26:33 PM] Bob Lion54 says: And yea, ALL of episode 3, so...
[11/17/2008 11:27:16 PM] Jae Onasi says: I'm screwed then. :D
Episode 3, of course, refers to Star Wars, in case you have not achieved geekdom as Bob and I have. I, of course, have to give him an update on the update every few minutes.
[11/17/2008 11:45:30 PM] Jae Onasi says: Now it's examing game data again.
[11/17/2008 11:45:41 PM] Jae Onasi says: Holy crap, that's a big update.
[11/17/2008 11:45:45 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Yea
[11/17/2008 11:45:46 PM] Bob Lion54 says: 15000
[11/17/2008 11:47:27 PM] Bob Lion54 says: I told ya, I watched Episode 3 while it did it's thing,
[11/17/2008 11:47:52 PM] Bob Lion54 says: It finished during the Ani/Obi-wan fight.
[11/17/2008 11:48:51 PM] Jae Onasi says: Ooh--1% done!!
[11/17/2008 11:50:02 PM] Another Trusty Friend says: not far from 100%
[11/17/2008 11:51:55 PM] Jae Onasi says: Yeah, that's kinda how I felt when birthing. "Oh you're 1cm dilated" Great. 9 more hellish cm to go.
[11/17/2008 11:53:45 PM] Bob Lion54 says: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH
[11/17/2008 11:53:52 PM] Bob Lion54 says: Log in, DAMNIT!
[12:00:42 AM] Jae Onasi says: I'm up to 8% Bob!! Making progress!!
[12:00:52 AM] Bob Lion54 says: (chuckle)
[12:09:13 AM] Jae Onasi says: 13%!
[12:09:31 AM] Bob Lion54 says: Almost there!
[12:09:38 AM] Bob Lion54 says: Stay on target!
[12:09:39 AM] Jae Onasi says: Hehe
Well, I happened to notice Trusty Sith Lady Darth333 (trust me, she really is a Sith, being a lawyer in Real Life) had a new link in her signature. This link was to an article on Wired called "Complainers of the World Unite" I had to share that one with fellow Trusty Skypers, and we had to compare notes with who filled what role on Lucasforums, among other sites.
We laughed at this one because there are a couple people on Lucasforums who match this description:
The Eternal Quitter
Just comes on the forum to let everyone know he's quitting for good and to spend a dozen paragraphs explaining why. Then does it again three months later.
Sample Quote: "For real, this time."
Punishment: Forced to actually quit.
We wish they'd quit.
I've been guilty of this one:
The Magical Realist
Doesn't understand what a "game" is. Constantly makes arguments based on what would be "realistic," even if the game is set in a fantasy world run by wizards and pixies.
Sample Quote: "You can't tell me a Mondlagarian Tiger Warrior is stronger than a Swamp Troll. That just doesn't make sense!"
Punishment: Sent back to kindergarten for remedial make-believe classes.Anyone who's played D and D with me any length of time has heard me rant about how absolutely butt-stupid attacks of opportunity are. "Yes!! The Hated Level 3 Enemy Orc has stepped inside a 5 foot radius of me!! I shall swing my sword at him, taking my eyes and attention completely off the Level 500 Demon God with whom I am engaged in a Desperate Struggle for The Fate of the Universe, because the Stupid Orc has allowed me an Attack of Opportunity!!" How idiotic is that?
Yes, D and D is a fantasy world run by wizards and pixies. I don't care, Attacks of Opportunity are still butt-stupid. We house-ruled them out of my game. Of course, considering that all my online players were so new to the game that they *cough*Trusty Friend Emperor Devon*cough* didn't know what Initiative even was, AoO just confused the bejeezers out of everyone. No one would ever do an AoO in real sword fighting. Trust me, I fence a little bit, I know it's true. Guess I must have failed kindergarten make-believe the first time around.
Only has one complaint, but posts about it 15 times a day. This is because nobody else cares.
Sample Quote: "THE LAVENDER STARBELT IS ACTUALLY PERIWINKLE!!!! WHY DON'T THEY FIX THIS??!!!?!"
Punishment: Lavender Starbelt changed to lilac.
Oh, how I know these people all too well!! They're the ones who start the "Who would win: Kirk or Revan?" Never mind the fact that one's from Star Trek and the other's from Star Wars, and Never the 'twain Universes Shall Meet. This does not deter these posters in any way. In fact, they get ungodly detailed in their arguments: "Lucas coughed on the way to the bathroom, so that means that the writers _had_ to put a cough into Star Wars as Canon" followed by the equally stellar argument "Well, that means Cold-Eze tablets must be Canon, because he uses those. You don't see Cold-Eze in any of the Star Wars media, do you? Of course not." It's usually at this point that some flame-war erupts with much argument over whether something is Canon A, B, or C, as if it is Holy Writ Upon Which We Must Base Star Wars Worship. It's also usually at this point that I feel compelled to trot out the piece I wrote called "Statement on the New Six Degrees of Canon":
"We, at WookieWikiWarrickWicketpedia, wish to clear up the confusion of ‘Canon’ in Star Wars by instituting a new classification system on how to rank the different Star Wars and Star Wars EU materials. This will replace the Canon-a, b, c and g system (along with other letters and symbols), which was becoming just too confusing, resulting in many emails from forum administrators and moderators who were ‘having to deal with too damn many threads on arguments over Canon’.
1st degree Canon shall be The Movies. Radio adaptations, so long as they include voices from the Original Actors (and Actresses) shall also be 1st degree Canon. The Screenplays are also 1st degree Canon, but only if George Lucas put a ‘GL’ on every page. The official soundtracks are 1st degree Canon, because John Williams has included the use of both the bassoon and the triangle in his music, and quite possibly the krummhorn. Anything spoken by George Lucas is first degree Canon, including those more mundane statements like ‘I want to order a pizza’ and ‘I have to find the nearest restroom.’
2nd degree Canon shall include those radio adaptations that deviate from the script slightly but still maintain the ‘True Spirit’ of the movies. Those radio adaptations that include the voices of Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson shall automatically be changed to 1st degree Canon, because their voices are really sexy. Those adaptations that include excess amounts of Jar-Jar Binks or Ewok cuteness shall automatically be reduced to 6th degree Canon or less.
3rd degree Canon shall include any books that George Lucas decides shall be 3rd degree, which is pretty much everything else not in the 1st and 2nd degrees. It’s his world—if he wants to say a book is 1st degree or 6th degree, we shall bow to his greater wisdom. The exception are the Vong books, which shall be reduced to 6th degree or the 9th circle of Dante’s Inferno, whichever comes last. All Star Wars games are 3rd degree Canon. The Knights of the Old Republic games, because they are Really Righteous, are 2nd degree Canon. We hereby declare all permutations of Revan and Exile to be Canon, because trying to pick just one is really p!$$ing off the fans. The Star Wars Lego games would be 4th degree Canon because of the ‘cutesy factor’, except for the fact that my son really likes the games, so they stay at 3rd degree.
4th degree Canon includes any comic books. Graphic novels remain at 3rd degree because ‘graphic novel’ sounds more cool than ‘comic book.’ The exception is the Knights of the Old Republic comic book series, which is destined to become a Graphic Novel when bound together, and because they’ve drawn Zayne Carrick really cute. It’s at least 3rd degree, and we might even make that series 2nd degree if sales continue to be good.
5th degree Canon includes all fan-fiction, unless they are “Really Good,” which, by our definition, is anything with over 1,000 views on LucasForums or over 15 thumbs-ups on kotorfanmedia. If they’re “Really Good”, then they can, at the option of the administrators, moderators, machievelli, or the author, move to 4th degree. The exception is if the spam-per-view ratio approaches 1:82, in which case the fanfic shall be declared ‘spammy’ and the fic drops to 6th degree. Action figures are 5th degree Canon, unless they involve Yoda, Han Solo, or Luke Skywalker. These are 1st degree Canon because I like them and because Frank Oz rules.
6th degree Canon includes any speculative posts on any forums. It also includes any non-speculative posts, comments, jokes, pictures, and other written, visual, or aural media. Anything else not already specified shall be 6th degree Canon, unless the author finds something she really likes, in which case the Degree of Canon may be altered accordingly. Forum posts that are written by administrators or moderators shall be whatever Degree of Canon they desire, because the author feels the need to suck up, unless George Lucas declares otherwise, because his 1st degree is more equal than everyone else’s 1st degree.
We hope this clears up any confusion about Canon. If you have any further questions, please send an email to our help center at ‘we won’t answer it anyway.idiocy'. We will do our best to make sure that the answer to your questions are answered with as much obfuscation as possible, preferably by someone who does not even speak your language.
Thank you for your kind attention to this matter."
This, of course, reminded me of an exchange I had with a certain Sephira in this thread (starting around post 49-ish or so for context), and proceeded to become an argument about Canon (despite him failing utterly to recognize irony even if it bit him in the butt). I nearly fell off my chair laughing when he, absolutely and completely seriously, said "Tell me the events of lego star wars actually took place in the actual star wars universe". Tommycat summed it up perfectly in post 57: "Jae, I'm not sure, should I send the sense of humor via PM or is it something that must be mailed to a person via snail mail(signed in triplicate by Lucasarts and George Lucas)." I think the author of that Wired article must have met Sephira on his forum, too. Probably in a thread called "Who would win? Darth Revan or Bill Gates?" Of course, as we all know, anything in the Star Wars universe pwns Real Life, despite the fact that without Gates there would be no computer to play Kotor on, and thus no Revan. Silly me for noticing something like that....
Off to the Mines of Moria!!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This comment has generated more controversy over the last few days than anything else I've seen. Just for context, here's what Obama said in a speech a few days ago (courtesy of an article on Foxnews.com, with some commentary thrown in):
""How do they have the nerve to say it?" Obama asked a suburban Detroit audience Monday. "When you've been supporting this current president, your party has been in power, and you're not offering anything new, how is it that you're serious about change? You're not. It's empty words. You're just saying it because you realize, 'Obama has been talking about change. That seems to be working. Maybe we should try to say it too.'"
He appears invigorated by the turn of events, his voice full of spunk. While Obama can tend toward the professorial in his speaking, his recent appearances have had the feel of a revival or a political comedy show as he mocks the GOP ticket.
"You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said to an outburst of laughter and applause from his audience in Lebanon, Va., Tuesday. "You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, but it's still going to stink after eight years." "
From the laughter in the crowd, it appeared that more than a few people thought the lipstick on a pig comment was a slam on VP candidate Sarah Palin, but I don't believe Obama really meant it that way. From the context of the speech, it appears to me that he's referring to the McCain claim of change. The press frenzy over this comment is quite an overreaction. However, this underscores something important about this particular campaign: saying anything remotely negative about either race or gender is going to get someone in hot water. I know Obama was just using a fairly common saying, but I think it was an unwise decision in that it just gave more ammo to the Republicans. When I heard that, all I could do was cringe inside and think, "Oh, geez, he shouldn't have said _that_...."
Does it deserve the reaction it got? No. If anyone expects perfection out of these 4 people running for President and VP, they are going to be sadly mistaken, and we should cut these people some slack for being just plain human sometimes.
Obama's team, if it wants to win, needs to get the focus off Gov. Palin and back on to the Democratic message. Palin's not the one running for President. Bill Clinton won the Presidency in '92, against the odds, by constantly reminding himself, 'It's the economy, stupid' and hammering that message home repeatedly (minus the stupid part) to the rest of us voters. Obama needs to write a little note to himself, too: "It's not only the economy, but it's also healthcare, education, and taxes, stupid." He has less than 2 months to bring the message to America that he's the one who could best handle those issues. Focusing on anything but that only takes precious time away from the important issues.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
What did this do? It gave Dr. Rosenberg's show, and WGN, a HUGE number of listeners. Zack Christensen, the show's producer, mentioned that show has gotten the greatest response ever from a campaign or candidate. After listening to WGN for the better part of today, I'd have to agree--people were still calling in throughout the day to the radio shows, even when the topics were completely unrelated. I happen to think that's great for WGN and Dr. Rosenberg, I like them both.
What I don't like is how this makes the Obama campaign look. I think they are making tactical errors on this issue. What are these mistakes?
1. They declined to come on the show to explain their position. If you want to counter what you think is a smear campaign, then talking to Dr. Rosenberg reasonably would have been the single best way to handle this. The campaign missed a prime opportunity to handle this appropriately.
2. This is an over-reaction, and it makes them look like they have something to hide. Let's face it, Obama's relationship with Ayers is going to come under fire. Obama has dealt with that by saying he didn't agree with Ayers' unrepentant bombing. Fair enough, but now it just looks like the Obama campaign is very worried about what's in those documents that Kurtz has been researching.
3. It's going to make people wonder if Obama thinks the First Amendment applies to everyone except him, since it looks like the campaign wants to suppress free speech.
4. It just gave Kurtz, who the campaign people think is smearing Obama, a lot more press than he really deserved.
All this has done is give tremendous bad press to Obama's campaign. If they had just come on the show to give a rebuttal (perhaps a few nights later), it would have been a far more reasonable move, and it would never have given Kurtz the national press attention he's now enjoying. Obama's people should have left that little flame alone. Instead, they've managed to turn it into a raging forest fire.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
All of us missed our cat Higgins after he died, including our other cat, Chelsea. She walked around the house for a week meowing piteously for him. I decided this was a great excus-err, reason, to check out the local animal shelter, ostensibly to find a new companion for Chelsea, to reduce her loneliness. Mind you, I did not inform Point Man about this, but he had not disagreed about getting another cat, so I took that as tacit approval.
The staff at the Humane Society were wonderful. If you ever get a pet, I highly recommend going to your local shelter. The kids came with me so the staff knew the age levels and personalities of the kids that our new pet would be interacting with, and we told them that we also had a 20 year old cat at home. They knew right away which cats and kittens would do well with us and which wouldn't, which narrowed the field quickly. There were 3 cats and a kitten that we decided would make good members of the family, and we petted and played with all 4 of them. Finally we had to make the difficult decision between Tommy and Joey, who were both wonderful cats. Joey seemed to like the kids more than Tommy did though, and when I asked the gal who was working with us which cat she thought would work best, she pointed without hesitation at Joey. So, after paperwork and purchase of some cat items, Joey came home with us.
He's done amazingly well, He got home, and Chelsea decided that she was not as lonely as she thought she was. Her reaction was to hiss loudly and run out of the room. He just sat there, completely unbothered by the whole thing. She's still hissing at him from time to time, but her curiosity gets the better of her, now, and so she'll try to sneak up on him to sniff him. That works til he sees her and turns around, and then she hisses at him and runs off again. She's making progress, however.
Joey adapted to life in our home immediately, and he's a big cuddlebug. When we sit down, he'll jump in our laps, put his paws on our shoulders, and nuzzle our faces, purring loudly. He's a large cat, so this works well for adults. This particular maneuver is what convinced Point Man that yes, he actually did like 'the Melon-head' after all. I thought our cat was rather brilliant for doing that. Joey's discovered that he's too big for our daughter, however. When he put his paws on her shoulder and stood up, he was actually taller than her. He doesn't have the same personality and savoir faire as Higgins did--I don't think any cat could. However, I think he's perhaps even more loving, and we've needed that.
There's Joey at the top of the page, lounging in our windowsill.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
About 4 days after putting Higgins to sleep, I had to make an emergency trip into Chicago because my sister called and said "I'm in the ER having chest pains. I think I'm having a heart attack." Minivans handle pretty well at high speeds, and so I made it rather quickly to the hospital in spite of Chicago rush hour traffic. Fortunately, it was not a heart attack. Unfortunately, it was that food poisoning that's spreading like wildfire around the country. She picked up the bug from some raw baby carrots that she'd eaten earlier that day, according to the doctors. Seeing my sister shivering with the chills with a 104 degree fever is Not Fun. I am very unhappy with the person(s) who decided to not use proper hygiene before handling the vegetables. It's not that hard to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, people.
Two days after that, I was driving home with the kids when an idiot decided to run a stop sign right in front of me. I had no room to swerve or stop to avoid him. Fortunately, none of us was injured. The guy even paused for the stop sign--how hard is it to look both ways before crossing the street? This guy must have missed that class in kindergarten, along with what a stop sign looks like and the high school classes on driver responsibility, because yes, you guessed it, he's uninsured. Okay, dude--if you can't afford insurance, don't drive your damn truck! That's why God made the bus system, for heaven's sake. I'm especially not impressed when you step out of the truck wearing a couple 14 karat gold chains with expensive charms such as a cross, your mother's birthstone, and a few engraved doo-dads with the names of your 3 girlfriends, all to go along with your expensive watch, gold bracelet, 6 gold rings, and a giant diamond stud hanging off your ear. Be sure to wear them to your court date when I see you in small claims court to get back my 500 deductible. That'll impress the judge, I'm sure.
Why do I have to take him to court for the deductible? Because my insurance company sucks. It's gotten Progressive-ly worse over the last 2 or 3 weeks. Is that a big enough hint that I have *cough*Progressive*cough* insurance? My insurance company starts with a P and ends with rogressive. They epitomize everything I absolutely despise about insurance companies.
First, the agent tried to rush us to settle. This should make anyone suspicious, and it made my crap-detector red-line. However, he at least was friendly and helpful--at that time. Second, he informed me that my van was totaled and they weren't going to repair it, and in fact were going to give us a ridiculous pittance for the van. I'm not expecting enough to get a new vehicle, but my van was worth 3 times what they offered. I say 'offered' loosely, because they had no intentions of any kind of negotiation. They sent me some important-looking JD Powers printout explaining how they determined the price. I think they just paid JD Powers for the stationary, because the way they determined the worth of the van is utterly ridiculous.
I then discovered that if you complain about this determination, they do everything in their power to screw you over even more. They sent us a check and took out not only the deductible but another 400 dollars, and informed us that we needed to find someone to salvage our van, they weren't going to do it for us now. I've tried to contact my agent to ask him about this, chiefly, what happens if I don't get $400 for the salvage, because I'm betting it'll be half that and this is yet another way for Progressive to screw me out of whatever they possibly can. God forbid their shareholders lose .3 cents by them holding up their end of the bargain for the money I've paid them faithfully for a number of years. My once friendly and helpful agent, of course, now won't return our phone calls. Thanks, Progressive, for re-affirming my belief that insurance companies are dishonest and unethical and that for all your fabulous claims about great customer service, those claims are false. Brad Bird must have used you as inspiration for the insurance scenes in The Incredibles--you fit the bill perfectly. I'm adding vindictive to the list of pejoratives since you pulled the salvage crap. Hope you have a good time explaining it all to the state insurance commission. While I'm at it, I'll blog about how awful my experience with you is, and when I get any kind of 'rate this insurance company' survey from Consumer Reports and other organizations, you'll be receiving awful scores from me along with detailed reasons why. I'd say something about having to cancel our vacation to Disneyworld and to visit my 82-year-old grandma because of them, but Progressive won't give a flying hoo-hah anyway, so it's not worth my time typing it to them.
Do we have a new car yet? No. We have to pay cash for it since Jimbo's likely to get deployed any time now, and taking on another payment isn't possible. Thank God we have a family friend who can find decent cars at auctions to keep the costs down, but the process is s-l-o-w.
Let's add more to this--both laptops fried out at about the same time. The old laptop from '04 is probably done for unless we can find a way to replace the hard drive, and I don't know how easy it will be to find parts anymore for that. I will say this--HP does honor its warranties and gives good repair service. However, you have to jump through a zillion hoops to get to that point. Their phone support is full of friendly people who attempt to be extraordinarily helpful, but I have to tell you, if you get someone whose first language is anything but your native tongue, it's best to give them an excuse to leave ("I'm sorry--I have to hang up--I have to use the bathroom" or "Oh, dear--my kid just fell out of bed and cut himself--I'll have to hang up and call you back"). Then, re-dial a little later to get someone who does speak your language. It makes resolving the problem much easier if everyone speaks the same language natively.
Now, I'm not an expert in computers, but I'm not a n00b either. When the computer suddenly goes on the fritz, won't restart, and then a few hours later after it's cooled off, will restart and run for a few minutes before flaking out and crashing again and then not restarting, it's a pretty good indication that the unit is overheating and that it's a hardware problem. However, HP teaches their staff that a. all callers to HP tech support are complete imbeciles, b. HP is always right and c. the Holy Manual of Help must be followed To The Letter, lest God smite the tech support agent with Holy Static Electricity.
Thank goodness I kept the paperwork showing I purchased my warranty. This paperwork included the order number, which HP could pull up. They determined that yes, I had purchased it, but no, it was not linked to my computer. I don't even pretend to understand why, considering I purchased it online through the HP website. The first agent was helpful and decided the computer problem was likely hardware-related and gave me another 800 number to call to see if that would help solve the warranty issue. This, however, routed me to another Tech support line, where I found another Very Helpful Agent. Very Helpful Agent said it was a Saturday night and we'd have to get the warranty situation figured out on Monday with Customer Carepak when they opened up, but in the meantime, he, the Very Helpful Technical Support Agent, would assist me in getting my computer back in working condition, and perhaps we would not need me to send my computer in for repairs. I elected to play along, because I knew at some point, he'd finally give up and determine that yes, they needed to send me the Fedex box to me so I could send it to them for repairs. It was just a matter of me out-lasting him. I had to repeat a variety of procedures that I had done with First Helpful Agent, who had dutifully documented what we'd done, but apparently this did not impress Very Helpful Agent #2. After all, he was reading from the Holy Help Manual, and that had to be followed To The Letter, despite the fact that I had just performed said rituals only 2 hours earlier. I asked God for patience and He, happily, granted it.
I need to digress here and explain how directions are given by Very Helpful Tech Support Agents. Since they're taught all callers are complete idiots, the instructions in the Holy Manual of Help are worded accordingly.
Very Helpful Agent: Is your computer plugged in?
VHA: Is the outlet functional?
VHA (not believing this): Please unplug your computer and plug it into another outlet.
Me (knowing the outlet is working because the surge protector light is on and the other items plugged into it are working properly, and the computer lights come on): Well, I know it works--the surge protector light is on, and the alarm clock is working.
VHA (following instructions in the Holy Manual of Help in spite of obvious evidence that the outlet does work): We must try another outlet anyway. Please plug it into another outlet.
Me (getting up out of bed and pretending to walk to another outlet for a few moments): OK, I tried it in another outlet. The same thing happens.
VHA: OK, now we shall perform a 'hard reset'.
Me: Well, I did that with the first agent.
VHA: I know, but we shall do it again to see if it works this time. First, turn your computer over.
(I turn the computer over and wait for further instructions).
VHA (after a brief pause): Have you turned your computer over?
Me (deciding I must now repeat every single moronic instruction he says so that he knows I've done what he's asked): I have turned the computer over.
VHA: You are doing wonderfully!! Now, take the battery out.....
This went on for some time. At 1am, I kid you not, he gives me Basic Instruction 433: "Turn the computer over."
I inform him I have turned the computer over.
"Find a screwdriver".
I wonder why we need a screwdriver at 1am, unless it's the alcoholic kind. I discover it's because he wants me to unscrew various compartments and play with the internal guts of the machine, chiefly trading the RAM cards for each other and removing and re-installing the hard drive. He, of course, is on the exact opposite side of the world from me, so it's 1pm for him, and thus time of day is no concern. After doing all this he decides we should uninstall the video drivers. I am, of course, dubious that this will work. Not surprisingly, it does not work, and all we get is a bunch of lines. He then has me attempt to re-install them, and then F11 the hard drive out of existence. Not surprisingly, since it's an overheating problem, this also doesn't work, but at this point I have outlasted Very Helpful Tech Support Agent, and he gives up and says I need to purchase the Very Helpful Recovery Disks (which I couldn't buy several months back when I really wanted them before finding the F11 answer on google--see the blog entry on that at 'Confessions of a Geeky Mom'.). I decide after purchasing said disks it was time for some sleep, and it gave me an excuse to get off the phone to try someone who spoke English natively and who could perhaps not be absolutely tied to the Holy Manual of Help. Fortunately, the guy I talked to the next day was a. American and b. Blessed with A Clue. It also helped that I said the magic words "The fan doesn't even come on". Apparently a non-working fan immediately means 'hardware problem' in the Holy Manual of Help. He figured out some Very Helpful Agent had accidentally put an 'R' at the end of my computer's serial number, and removing that letter magically made HP's computers connect the warranty with my computer. He sent the box, I sent the computer off to them, and they fixed it with great alacrity. What was wrong with it? Heat sink fan had burned out, along with the entire system board. However, I am now also the proud owner of recovery disks. Getting my computer back made my month somewhat better, and prevented the marital strife of having to share 1 computer but 2 Guild Wars accounts. Thank God I had the smartphone for my 'net fix, but thumbing keys is a PIA, I have to tell you.
The latest sucky event happened this morning, however. A friend of ours out east is having some serious financial problems to the point of nearly getting kicked out of his apartment. We decided to help him out and loan him some money to help him get back on his feet. Yes, we believe he'll pay us back. Yes, we know we may not get paid back for about 3 centuries, but friends help friends, and that's all there is to it. However, a real a-hole had other ideas. Jimbo/Point Man made the mistake of setting his wallet down on the check-writing stand at the checkout line at a local grocery store. He got distracted by a clerk trying to ask for information to get a new grocery store card. He got so distracted he walked off without his wallet. I'd like to say this would not happen to me, but I have left my purse about twice in the last 2 decades so I am not perfect. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve it. The next guy in line decided it would be fun to keep Point Man's wallet, which included a few hundred dollars that we were planning to wire to our friend. Luckily we still had enough to wire to our friend, but we're now out $400 to a total jerk who feels he can sit in front of his (likely stolen) HD TV eating chips and drinking beer all day. Here's your clue, thief: You got caught on tape and we will prosecute when the cops decide you've done enough crimes and arrest you. The sad thing is if you worked half as hard at a real job as you did at illegal activities, you'd be a millionaire living in a mansion right now instead of being a half-bit piece of crap thief living in the trash section of town. Now we have to run around canceling cards, reporting the theft to the credit bureaus, getting new IDs, and a whole host of other things because this guy stole Point Man's life out of that wallet. Every time I think things can't get worse, they do. I'm afraid of which of the dozen other shoes is going to drop after all this. Yep, this month officially sucks.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
So, what brought me out of my little MMO bit of heaven? A message to Guild Wars Customer Service. I use the term 'customer service' very, very loosely. It's so loose that it won't even stay together with superglue or steel welds.
Here's what happened. I was playing a mission with my paragon character. I wanted to capture an elite skill (GW has regular skills and 'elite' skills--the uber-skillz that everyone wants to have on their skill-bar). This involves killing the appropriate boss with that skill and activating your 'signet of capture' or cap sig, and waiting for it a full 2 seconds before you can click on the skill to capture. Normally, this works pretty well, and I'm able to capture the skills I want fairly easily.
This time, however, the boss in question, Overseer Boktek (Ketkob? TekBok? Doesn't matter, they're all made up anyway), was at the very end of the mission. The mission ends as soon as he dies. I discovered this when I hit the cap sig but got booted out of the mission area to an outpost by the game mechanics before the signet could activate to catch the skill.
For those of you whose eyes glazed over by word 2 of that last paragraph, the upstart of all that was that I couldn't get the skill goody I wanted because the game is designed stupidly there.
Being the pragmatic sort, I thought I'd contact Arenanet (aka Anet by us Guildies) and let them know that there was a problem. I spelled out what the problem was, why it happened, and what I thought could be done to solve the problem, i.e. just give people about 30 seconds between the time the battle ends and the mission ends. This seemed like an easy-to-implement solution.
Apparently that's not the way Anet does things. The exchange went like this via email:
Me (initial post): Could you please build in a little time before the cutscene starts at the very end of the mission to allow signet captures of elite skills from the Overseers? Currently the cutscene starts as soon as the Overseers die, which does not allow any time to capture these elite skills. I would have liked to have captured one skill, if not both, but it's impossible to do right now as the mission is currently designed.
Thank you for your consideration.
|Response (GM Zanith)||04/10/2008 05:42 PM|
Thank you for contacting Guild Wars Support about this.
We encourage you to consider posting your suggestions on one of the many Guild Wars Fansite message boards. A compiled list can be found on the official Guild Wars web site at http://www.guildwars.com/community/fansites/. By posting on one of these message boards, other players can comment on your ideas, concerns, and suggestions, and Development Team members are able to catch up on what the community wants to see in Guild Wars. Fansite forums make it easy and efficient for us to learn from those playing the game.
Thank you for your efforts in assisting us to make Guild Wars the best gaming experience possible.
The Guild Wars Support Team
That has to be one of the most unique and bizarre approaches to customer service issues I've ever seen in my life. "Don't bother us, go spam your complaint on multiple fansites." If I said to my customers "Oh, don't come to us to fix a problem, go complain about it elsewhere to other customers and potential customers," I'd be out of a job very quickly. Of course, if you're playing the game, you've already bought the product and there's not too much more for Anet to sell to you, so I guess they don't have the same incentive to care about their image.
Well, I duly noted the problem on the website of my guild, The Lost Haven. I also posted on GuildWarsGuru, despite the fact that I probably wasted not only my time but the bandwidth of those 2 sites to gripe. It could be worse, however. One of my guildmates commented, "Come play World of Warcraft. Everybody is brushed off there. The difference is they don't try to pretend it is not so. It is working as intended." All I could do then was laugh.
Guess what I got in my email inbox yesterday? A customer service survey from Anet. My friend, stoffe, asked "Is there a 'what customer service?' option?" I laughed even harder.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"Honey, did you hear? We might get 6-10 inches of snow."
"Honey, did you hear? We might get 10-14 inches of snow."
"Honey, did you hear? We might get 16-20 inches of snow!"
Well, 20 inches is apparently my threshold level where I feel the sudden urge to buy milk and bread. This threshold varies from person to person and place to place. Now, you have to understand, I grew up in Wisconsin. I know winter very well, having lived through multiple snowy winters with sub-zero temperatures. So, when I lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas for 1 year, I was a bit amused by their concept of 'winter'. They pull out parkas when it's below 50, and they fussed over me and informed me I'd catch pneumonia because I was wearing a sweater and a warm jacket when it was 48 out. I don't pull out the parka until it's going to be below freezing myself.
Anyway, I also discovered their threshold for buying milk and bread apparently is 32 degrees. This happened one day in January when an arctic high hit much of the US, including Texas. The media was beside itself with the news that it was going to be below freezing that night. Before leaving for work, I took my pot of impatiens off the porch and put them inside, slipped on my sweater and jacket since it was going to get up to 50 that day, and headed out. All morning long the staff talked about the weather, who had bought milk and bread, who was going out to buy milk and bread at lunch, and which stores still had milk and bread, because many were sold out. As I headed out to lunch, I stopped the co-worker who I had come to depend upon for cultural information about the Deep South, seeing as I was a Clueless Northerner. Michelle had her parka on and looked worriedly at my sweater/jacket combo.
Me: Is there some kind of holiday tomorrow that I don't know about? Everyone's going out to buy milk and bread like the stores are going to be closed.
Michelle (looking at me like I must be a Clueless Northerner): Haven't you heard the news?
Me: Apparently not.
Michelle: It's going to be below freezing tonight!!
At this point, I was still quite unclear about how the freezing point could remotely be related to buying milk and bread.
Me: Yeah, I saw that on the news. It's an arctic high pressure system--beautiful blue skies today, I noticed. I'm glad I'm not in Wisconsin--it's probably 20 below there tonight. I did make sure to bring my impatiens in the house. We're supposed to have nice weather the rest of the week, I heard.
Michelle's look told me that clearly I did not understand how 'cold' works in Texas. She continued: You don't understand--when it gets below 32, it can SNOW!!!
It took every shred of self control I had not to laugh at that.
Me (trying hard to keep a giant grin off my face, lips twitching dangerously): Well, it can snow when it's below 32, but it's not going to snow. I promise. It's an arctic high and there are no clouds.
Michelle: You don't understand. If it snows, we're stuck in our houses for 3 days until it melts, because we don't know how to drive in it. Are you getting milk and bread over lunch? I think the Super-Wal-mart still has some left.
Me: No, I'm just going to get lunch.
Michelle: What?!? You have a little baby--you can't run out of milk and bread!
I finally realized there was going to be no peace with Michelle unless I reassured her about my milk and bread plans.
Me (fibbing only a little, since I drink Diet Pepsi and my son was still on formula at that point): Oh, I'm OK--I got milk and bread the day before last when I went grocery shopping.
Michelle: Are you sure that's enough?
Me (nodding enthusiastically): Oh, yes, we've got plenty.
I thought of that exchange as I went to the store tonight for, you guessed it, milk and bread, which we really were out of. Apparently the rest of Wisconsin had the same idea, because the milk was running low and the shelves were completely empty of our favorite bread. I'll have to bake some bread tomorrow. :)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I had heard about people joking about World of 'Warcrack' being addictive, and never understood it. Until I started playing an MMO.
Sure, it's not an RPG game where I get to make choices that ultimately alter the world. In Star Wars: KotOR, you can be the purest halo-over-the-head Jedi, or the vilest Sith Lord, and save the galaxy or turn it into your personal dominion. Since MMOs are played by literally millions, you can't have the game world being altered every 2.3 seconds when someone beats the game. That'd be a little tough on the continuity. However, GW does manage to hook you anyway--just completing the game Nightfall is an achievement in itself, since it takes hours over 6 large areas to complete the 20 missions. Then there's the search for elite skills instead of the ordinary ones. After that is the search for perfect weapons to do the maximum damage and also look cool at the same time. Then you can redo all the missions on 'hard mode' (read, crazy-kill-you-dead-fast mode) to get another title. There are still other titles for opening up treasure chests, being lucky or unlucky, drinking, and even eating sweets (which would be my personal favorite if it weren't hard to find the chocolate bunnies and candy canes).
After several months' play and help from a host of guild mates, most of whom are crazier about this game than I am, I've managed to max a couple titles (Protector of Elona and Legendary Spearmarshal, thank you) and am well on the way to a third (Holy Lightbringer). After maxing 2 more titles after that, I'll be Kind of A Big Deal and ready to move on to something like God Among Mere Mortals. However, I'll need to play a _lot_ more before getting to that lofty title. So if you go on the Guild Wars site, I'll probably be there--whisper Alina Stormseeker and you'll likely find me.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
What do geeky moms do on their holidays? Work. Spend lots of great time with family eating way too many things we shouldn't. Then game.
I ended up having to work both Christmas Eve and New year's Eve, and it was pretty busy both days. For some reason, everyone and their brothers, sisters, parents, children, dogs, and 5th cousins twice removed simply must come in for an eye exam on the last day of the year. This is generally to use up either insurance benefits or flex account dollars. Now, I know when they had to sign up for those plans, and it was over a year earlier, assuming they've been employed the entire year, of course. Why, then, did the thought of scheduling an eye exam not occur to them the other 364 days of the year? We actually had a guy come in at 5pm on the 31st to get an eye exam. He was surprised that we couldn't take him right then. First of all, on my planet, you're lucky to even find a doc open on New Year's Eve, much less at 5pm. However, coming in at 5pm when we close in 15 minutes and expecting an exam and glasses is either the height of arrogance or idiocy, and probably both. Needless to say, he got scheduled for another time, and maybe he'll schedule a little earlier next year, like maybe the 30th.
It was a good thing we got done at that point because I had to drive home through a snowstorm. My normal 50 minute commute (43.6 if speeding, which of course I never do) turned into 90 minute, stress-filled one. By the time i got home, I wanted nothing to do with a. people exhibiting abject stupidity or b. driving. Not like we planned on going out that night, but this geeky mom definitely was not going anywhere after that. So, we stayed home and were a very happy and geeky family that night. We enjoyed dinner together, then the kids played video games while hubby and I played Oblivion and Guild Wars respectively on our computers. We cheered when midnight struck. Then we went back to gaming into the wee hours of the New Year. There are not many geekier ways to ring in the New Year than that.