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Showing posts from 2011

Birds of a Feather

I was percolating for awhile in my head an idea for a super-hero story. I was originally going to write something, and then an opportunity presented itself to create it instead as a roleplaying game. However, I did not have the idea as fleshed-out as I would have liked, and I could not sustain the story. I have since then continued to percolate on the idea, hoping to gel some things and go back to it, again as either a story or a gaming experience.

The gist of my story ideas were:
A central city in America (using Chicago as basis; wasn't sure if I should use the actual city or have it be a stand-in for city of my naming)An event occurs which creates the mutation in people that allows for super powers to form. It is extremely rare.Powers manifest through some sort of extreme event in the person's life, if they have the genetic conditions and survive the process. Most often, the triggering events are traumas, but sometimes even puberty can cause them to come on. I called these ev…

Bell Mobility Being Tricky Again

My wife and have followed through on our plan to replace her old, pink, flip-style phone with a newer smartphone. We are also transitioning this phone to be primarily my phone and she will continue using her Blackberry as her main phone (which is what she uses 90% of the time anyway).

We got the phone on Monday, and I've been slowly setting things up and configuring it to work with our home network, etc. I noticed yesterday and asked my wife today about the fact that, although we had no data plan for the phone and I had turned off the wi-fi connection, I was still receiving data information. In particular, it was updating with new emails and notifying me of them, even though it shouldn't get that data.

This concerned me enough that I called Bell Mobility's customer support and spoke with a nice, well-spoken woman about the situation. She informed me that, unbeknownst to us, we were given a "free" week of data and that data connection was turned on in the phone so…

In Medi-Trust I Do Not

My wife called Medi-Trust today to refill some prescriptions. The person to whom she was speaking made a comment about how most of my prescriptions were lapsed or no longer valid. She politely disagreed with him, tried to discuss the situation, but he said the last time they had a refill for me was last year.

Step in the angry American. I had been in to see my doctor in mid-October and my wife had written me a note to make sure I got the doctor to write scripts for all four of my current medications. We then, together, went down to the pharmacy because there was an issue with one of the (existing) prescriptions. During that visit, I gave them the script with all four new prescriptions on it, and the female pharmacist and the counter girl did what they felt they had to in order to fix the one prescription. My guess is that they then filed the script without inputting the other three updated prescriptions.

I thought telling him this provided him with more than enough information for him…

Spirit Guides

Those who know me well know that the majority of my dreams are dark, harsh, and full of violence and death. That has been true for as long as I remember. I've had these types of dreams since I was a small child, and they exacerbate my sleeping issues, as I rarely want to rush to sleep because of what awaits in my dreams. My dreams are so nightmarish, that I rarely share them with others and I have slowly taught myself to quickly forget them upon waking up.

When I have a dream that is somehow positive, or, at least, not ultra-violent, it stands out and I do not forget it when I wake up. Even rarer, however, is when I have a dream that sticks with me for days afterward and fills me with a sense of peace and contentedness.
I was in the desert. It was a warm, sunny day, but not overly hot. There was a slight breeze blowing. To my mind, a perfect day in the desert. Out of nowhere and apropos of nothing there was a tortoise. This tortoise, however, was the size of a giant sea turtle, or…

The Straight Poop

In the vast majority of houses I've been to the person living there has something on the top of the tank to their toilet, items on their counter, and/or some sort of shelf or storage container above the toilet. Because of all of this, I am surprised at the number of people who leave the lid of their toilet up. Do these people never drop or knock anything off from one of these locations into the open toilet?

I will grant that having the seat down makes the hole smaller. But the hole is still there. Because of the number of times I have knocked items off of the counter or tank, or dropped things I was retrieving from the over-toilet storage into the bowl, I always insist on a closed lid. On top of this, human beings have a wide variety of excretory issues that can complicate the cleanliness of the bowl and not everyone cleans their bowls regularly. So having the lid closed is also good to help the overall look of a bathroom to the casual guest (or simply the inhabitant), prior to ne…

Quick Thoughts: Oil and Gas Prices

The vast amount of oil is transported via ship. At any given moment there are dozens of ships on the seas transporting the crude to refineries. It takes these ships from days to weeks to go from their points of origin (North Sea, Africa/Middle East, South America) to America for production. It takes days to refine the raw crude into various oil and gas products, and then ship it via tanker truck to all regions of the US.

Yet when something happens to a pipeline in Saudi Arabia or a coup happens in Venezuela, the price of gas changes immediately (the same day or next day, at the latest) at the pump, even though it will take a minimum of a week, and more like two weeks, before the interruption the issue caused would actually reach oil refineries and the gas pump in America. When the issue is resolved, it takes weeks and sometimes months before the price of gas declines back to pre-issue levels as the flow of oil resumes unabated.

And, of course, this doesn't even mention the home-so…

The New DC Comics Universe

DC Comics recently "rebooted" its comics universe by canceling and then re-issuing all new #1s. The idea behind this was intriguing, and it brought me back to comics after 5 years away. Overall, I think it is a good choice. However, I do not think they went far enough with the concept. The editors, I'm guessing, were afraid of changing too much and alienating long-time fans. So you have some characters and titles in which nearly everything stayed the same, and other characters and titles that changed a great deal.

Batman, and more specifically all of his bat-family, hardly changed at all. Had I been in charge, I would have cleaned up all of the extra characters, cleaned up history for some of them, and eliminated others altogether (with an eye for recreating them in the future down the line, assuming that the reboot is successful. One of the change I'm definitely scratching my head over is that of Batgirl.

Barbara Gordon was Batgirl for the longest time, but then was…

Food Cravings

I have been consuming copious quantities of some pretty strange things lately. For example, I got on a kick where heavily buttered bread was all I wanted to eat, and was practically all I ate for about a week and a half (went through a few loaves of bread in that time).

Then, suddenly, it was salami and provolone. Not on a sandwich, I've been just taking the cheese and meat out of the bag, sandwiching them together (sometimes with pepperoni), and eating that exclusively. And chocolate milk has been high on the list. I had quesadillas every day for lunch (and a couple of times for dinner) every day for a week.

I believe that, for the most part, when you get a craving for something, it is because your body knows it needs something and it knows it got it from that food. Not sure what I have been missing or needing lately that buttered bread, cheese, salami, and chocolate milk covers, but it has been a severe craving.

This all seems to be coming to a close now. I'm not feeling the…

More Phone Frustrations

This time, it was T-Mobile. I went online to t-mobile.com in order to check my cell phone's balance. The screen has a section for the minutes balance and for the dollar amount balance. The minutes was listed as "0" while the dollar amount balance was correct.

I called customer support in order to ask why my minutes balance was 0. First, getting a live voice on the phone was difficult. Pressing 0 simply errored, the automated voice did NOT want to give me up to a live person. I finally figured out to answer the questions incorrectly three times in a row so that it would get confused and would be forced to transfer me to live person.

The first live person was happy to give me my balance in minutes. He didn't understand that what I was calling about was an issue with the online site. Finally got him to understand and he transferred me to Trenton, part of the the "Technical Support" group. Unfortunately, this was technical support for the phone itself and not f…

More Unprofessional Bell Aliant Customer Support

Frequent readers of this blog will note that I have had issues with Bell Aliant (BA) in the past. Well, they've done it again.

On July 19th, my wife and I called BA to ask some questions about our existing account and about getting fiberop internet installed. We spoke with Lance. During that call, we tried to canceled my cell phone line. Lance explained that he could not cancel it immediately and that all cell phone cancellations required a 30 day notice. That's fine, I told him, consider this our 30 day cancellation notice and note it on our account. He did, and we assumed in 30 days, on August 18th, the line would be dead and the charges would be dropped.

Our next bill had the charges from Aug. 18 to Sept 18 on it. My wife made a note of that and showed it to me, at which time I immediately called the help number. I spoke with Tiffany on October 4th at 8:15pm. She said that "something had gone wrong with the cancellation request." For some unexplained reason, she c…

Passing of a Friend and Mentor

My best friend just let me know his father, Eric, passed away. His dad had been sick with leukemia for awhile, and was home on hospice care. When my wife and I went back to California a few weeks ago, we made sure to make time to visit with Eric. It was tough seeing him in the final stages of his life, but I am thankful that I got to talk with him and share some time before he passed.

Eric was one of my English teachers during high school; I had him for two of the four years. He always used to write "Wordy" at the top of any paper I turned in to him, as well as correcting any flaws in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He would often tell me that he was sure I could write better, that I had a better idea in there somewhere, and I just needed to let it out. It became my goal to turn in a paper on which he had no chance of writing "wordy" and that he could not say I left something behind, or out, or not fully developed. I did not succeed in the first year, but one o…

Speak Your Mind

Just once, I'd like to see a celebutard speak their mind and not back down from it. Hank Williams, Jr. and Johnny Depp are the most recent ones to make stupid statements and then have to backtrack fast when it is pointed out to them their statements were offensive. Williams equated President Obama and Majority Leader Boehner having a "golf summit" to Hitler and Netanyahu meeting. While he may have made poor choices in his analogy, most of us know that Williams is a life-long Republican, right-wing, and very conservative. We can assume he does not have a favorable opinion of the current Democrat President. So why are we so upset and surprised when he makes this analogy?

At first I thought Williams might not back down. He was given every opportunity to do so, and didn't take them. Only after his current, main meal-ticket decided not to use his song to open Monday Night Football did he realize how pervasive his gaffe was and that he may have to make an apology. The thi…

Endoscopy

Am having some trouble with my stomach, throat, digestion. My GP decided it was serious enough to both provide me with a new medication to try and to get an endoscopy to see if there was anything physically wrong. As luck would have it, my GE had an opening and could get me in much more quickly than my GP thought, so I had that done yesterday.

I've had two other endoscopies done in the past, for similar reasons. In one they found a large ulcer in my throat and discovered I have a hiatal hernia, in the other they could not figure out what was causing my issues. In both cases, however, since I was under the effects of the "twilight" medication (a drug derived from Valium used to keep you conscious but make it so you don't remember the procedure (or discomfort/pain from it)) the doctor spoke with my mother about the dos and don'ts, gave her an overview of what happened and what they found, and gave her the plan for going forward.

This time, however, they told ME all…

Vacation Vacation

We just got back from a short vacation visiting my friends and family. While the visiting itself was great (thanks, all!), the vacation time itself was spent traveling a lot. As anyone knows who has done it, traveling is strangely tiring. Although you sit on your ass in the plane and the car, you wind up tired as hell whenever you arrive somewhere.

The trip down was a "me" travel experience; anyone who frequents this blog knows what I mean. We had delays while planes were fixed, late departures, rude flight attendants, and even mysterious liquid dripping on me from a hole in the plane (turned out to be water condensation, but still). Luckily, the trip back was a "her" travel experience; pretty much smooth sailing, everything mostly on time, no hiccups or real issues. It was a nice change, as we've had more "me" travel experiences lately.

The thing is, we arrived in Atlanta exhausted. We then spent the time there fighting with the Hotel Melia over sill…

Right to Privacy

People have an expectation of privacy. While many claim we have a Right to Privacy, the Constitution itself doesn't grant that, and the Bill of Rights only grants privacy in certain circumstances. The Ninth Amendment has a vague, open-ending statement that some interpret as protecting privacies not enumerated in the Bill of Rights. But, as a whole, the people have a certain expectation of privacy, and that is why governmental agencies must get warrants in order to breach that privacy.

Lately, I have been using application, websites, and utilities that take a different approach. Facebook, for example, has made numerous changes to its features, all of which have provided more of my data to either Facebook itself, to its partners, to the apps people/businesses create for Facebook, or to other members. The problem I have here is that Facebook a) didn't ask me if this was okay, b) didn't tell me they were doing it, c) didn't give me an option to opt out (or hid that option …

Darker Isn't Better

The flaw I see in the reasoning of movie executives is that they think The Dark Knight did such bang-up business because it was so "dark," rather than believing it did so well due to a combination of excellent acting, a good story, and Heath Ledger's untimely death (and superlative acting).

Movies, especially comic book movies, do not need to be darker. Captain America, Superman, and many other heroes represent what is best and brightest about America; our morality in the face of overwhelming evil, our compassion in the face of overwhelming threat, our heart in the face of overwhelming despair. Certain characters, like Batman, Wolverine, and The Punisher, can be dark and be successful because of the background of the character. The Dark Knight worked as a dark film because the character of Batman is a lonely, frightened boy who is raging against the world that took his parents away from him. That rage both fuels his war on crime and eats away at him because he knows, dee…

Working for a Brighter Tomorrow

Since World War II, the way in which America has overcome depressions and recessions are with infrastructure building and scientific advancement. So, why has it taken the President so long to propose a jobs bill that proposes one or the other?

We got out of the Great Depression primarily due to infrastructure building, including such worthy endeavors as the national highway systems and Hoover Dam. Projects like going to the moon staved off economic worries and put thousands to work.

There are only two ways to improve an economy of a country: get people to spend money and/or cut what the government is spending. The current administration is cutting like mad, but there is only so much cutting you can do and still have a government. So, we need people spending money. Unfortunately, people are still worried about the economy, so they are hording their money. If you put more people to work, get more people spending money, then other people's worries are relaxed and they spend money, to…

HP and Death

*NOTE: SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY READ THE SERIES OR WATCHED THE MOVIES*

I decided to reread each Harry Potter book and watch each movie, one after the other. My original goal was to compare and contrast the books to the movies and see what and how much they changed and/or dropped in translating the books to film. However, along the way, my focus changed. I came to realize that Ms. Rowling has some very nice things to say about friendship/love and death.

The entire thesis of her seven-book opus is that those who love are more powerful and better off than those who seek power, which is necessarily a singular task that does not brook relationships. She then takes this a step further and suggests that those who have love are not overly scared of, are accepting of, and are willing to brave death, while those who seek power are scared of death and will fight against it at all costs and to their very detriment.

Harry Potter originally survives because of the sacrifices of his paren…

Banning Guns Again

There has been a rash of gun violence across the US again, and people are picking up their banners and rhetoric about banning guns and the need for more and stricter laws. There are a few points that the majority of people don't seem to grasp or understand:
There are, literally, thousands of gun laws already in the books. There are hundreds of gun laws in each state and hundreds more at the Federal level. The country has very strict gun laws.A very small percentage of gun violence is done with legally purchased, owned, registered, and otherwise sanctioned guns. The vast majority is done by illegally purchased, obtained, and used firearms.Enforcement of these laws is the toughest aspect; there are not nearly enough ATF, FBI, or policemen to enforce the thousands of laws already on the books.Vastly (approximately 10x each) more people are injured and killed by stabbing, blunt force trauma, and car accidents each year than by gun violence, yet we don't see these same people asking…

Hiding Your Options

ZIP.ca is a Canadian version of Netflix. Recently, there was a big postal strike that affected mail delivery across the country. While the postal strike and negotiations lasted for over a month, ZIP is giving its clients 13 days of "make-goods" for our inability to return watched, or receive new, movies.

What I think is funny is that, when I contacted them directly via their online support Chat function, the CSR I chatted with said specifically that they would contact each affected person personally (i.e., via email) with what those make-goods would be. I have yet to receive that email. Then, last week, my wife signed in to our account and saw a button to click relating to the make-goods at the top of the home screen for their website. As she wanted to discuss the issues with me, she ignored it and did what she signed in to do. When she mentioned it to me, I logged in and did not see any link or display on the home page.

We discussed it again last night. I logged in and show…

Perspective

Yesterday, my wife and I were returning from the movies. As we neared a particular intersection, I saw one vehicle coming toward us. Once that car passed, I started to go. A sharp intake of breath and a, "Geez John!" from my wife and I slammed back on my brake. At that moment, out from behind the passenger-side post came an entire other vehicle that I would have hit dead-on had I continued going.

It is funny to think that an entire vehicle can hide behind that post, but, of course, the post is really close to you and the car, for all its size, is farther away.

The posts that hold up the roof/ceiling of the cab area on my vehicle are about 12" wide at the base and a fairly steady 4" wide the rest of the way up. But that width is only about 3' away from me, at the farthest, while the 7' long and 5' wide car is 30+ feet away from me. In this particular instance, the fact that my perspective as the driver was so impeded by these thick, plastic and metal str…

ISP Coercion

I have grown to hate something since I moved to my present location, outside of the US: ISPs are now using your IP address to "better service" customers by providing them with pages and language preferences typical to the IP address location. The problem is that I'm an American living in a foreign country. I don't want to see the Canadian web page or have my pages default to UK English automatically!

The big catch seems to be that there is no way to turn this feature off that I can find. It is automated in the background, as a "convenience" to users, with no way to set and keep your own default. I now have pages that are telling me that "theater" is incorrectly spelled because it is not "theatre." Ahem, actually both are English and both are correct, damn it! I have sports pages I frequent defaulting to the ".ca" extension instead of the ".com" one, and giving me splash pages of hockey and soccer over American footbal…

Parenting Is Hard Work

Being a parent is hard work. You are responsible for making this little human being into a worthwhile and productive member of society. I am not a parent, but I watch other parents (especially my friends who are), and I observe which parents have respectful, intelligent, and productive children and which do not. This shows me that there are many different techniques and styles of parenting, and some are more successful than others. When left with children (either babysitting or when parents briefly leave the child in my care while they take care of something else in the house), I then try to put into practice what I've learned through observation. For the most part, those practices that I observe in the successful parents work and keep the children manageable, calm, and invested in whatever we are doing.

What I have noted is that those parents who provide boundaries, are consistent in what they want, and provide reasonable expectations, punishments, and rewards seem to have the &q…

Budget Crisis

Every economist, and every person who has tried to balance their own personal budget, agrees that there are only two ways to cut a deficit:
Cut spendingIncrease funding (in the case of gov't, increase taxes)Often a government can do one or the other. Sometimes it has to do both. When you are looking at a 14.3 trillion dollar deficit, you have to consider both, as there simply aren't enough places where you can cut to make up that mind-blowing figure.

The Republicans have said outright that raising taxes if "off the table" (John Boehner, among others). So, although there is literally and factually no way to cut spending enough to make up the difference in the budget, one half of all of the solutions to solve the budget crisis is off the table. This makes no sense, especially as you consider the fundamentals of the conservatives throughout the years (a good article calling this and other recent decisions into focus was published by Time recently). Why take any option of…

Other Household Chores

In addition to replacing the toilet in the main bathroom, I completed some other home improvement tasks recently. They are small things, and inexpensive to do, but have made a big difference.

I had noticed that our main closet in the bedroom had a lot of space above the one shelf and a lot of our crap on the floor. It struck me one day that we should put in another shelf above the first and get some of that stuff off the floor. I then walked around to the office and coat closets and saw the same issue-- a lot of head space not being efficiently used and a lot of junk on the floor. I suggested my idea to M and she agreed: let's put in a second shelf.

We went to Home Depot and got the same style of white wire mesh shelves that all of our closets have and had them cut to size (praying I had measured twice and had good numbers for the cutting). We picked up some of the special fasteners used to install them to the wall. We purchased shelves that were 12" deep so we could have som…