If computer companies made condoms

Bill Gates is offering $100,000 to anyone who invents the “next generation” condom.

Therefore, we have to think what would happen if all the computer companies suddenly went into the condom business:

Microsoft: Their condom fits 95% of available equipment. While it prevents pregnancy, you have to buy a seperate condom designed to prevent virus transmission, and put it over the first one, because 95% of viruses get through.

Apple: The self-described “cool crowd” would wear these. Only available at Apple stores, they are available in a wide variety of colors: black, white, and grey. Special protective cases and carrying accessories would be sold next to them, to protect the product. Fits all Apple Approved equipment, blocks 99% of viruses, but they are only approved for certain uses. Must sign user agreement. Apple condoms are on average 30% more costly than regular condoms, and have the Apple logo printed on them. There is one version of the Apple condom. All Apple condoms will be replaced everywhere with the newest version at the same time.

Google: The condom comes with an embedded chip to gather and transmit data, tracking where it’s used, for how long, DNA samples of both parties, and other biometric data of the users. Sends all of this to Google. Connects via bluetooth to Droid phones and Google Glass, adds personalized advertising, and improved user experience! Instantaneously attains permanent position as the #1 Google search result for condoms. Preferred by Droid users because it’s “not as restrictive” as Apple condoms, and gives them an air of superiority. Some versions of Condoms may have Apple logos on them, with the Droid logo drawn on with a Sharpie. Not all of the newest Google condoms are available everywhere.

RIM Condoms: Comes in one flavor: Blackberry. Used only by middle aged banker types, no matter how hard they try to get the younger crowd to use them. Internet jokes about “RIM condoms” suddenly increase 700%.

Facebook Condoms: Facebook condoms change privacy settings without warning, turning the user’s “private” experience “public” by breaking. Like Google condoms, they report back to facebook but only to your friends and friends of friends. Using Facebook condoms gets you extra credit on Zynga games like Mob Wars and Farmville, although odds are high the people that play those games won’t get to use very many condoms.

Advertisements

Extortion on the playground.

My kid had a bullying problem last year. No, I’m not talking about being beaten up or shoved around, it was more psychological than that. After all, she was in the third grade.
You wouldn’t think there would be a bullying problem in the third grade, I don’t remember getting picked on until at least junior high school. Back then they ignored desperate cries for help. The kids getting picked on finally gave up, now they shoot up the place. I guess when you tell a kid to “deal with it”, they do it in their own way, huh Mr. Patrick?
Any how – there was sort of a bullying problem last year. One of the girls, we’ll call her Halley, since that’s what her parents named her, organized this “playground syndicate”. My words, not theirs. The “new girls” to the group had to do grunt work on the playground, misc. busywork crap that Halley would come up with, like going back and forth to the trash cans ten times to throw stuff away. If a kid refused, no one in the group would play with them, for fear of getting tossed out.
Since when did Biker Gangs influence playground etiquette? Or the Mob? It was the silliest thing I had ever heard of. Of course, my kid told Halley, et. al. to shove it up their collective butts. I would have loved to seen the little Twatwaffle’s face.

20130328-145029.jpg

I’m glad to hear she wasn’t going along with the sheep, but at the same time, she was relegated to the bench writing in her notebook, because no one would play with her. My solution was to send the kid to school with a Piñata Bat to exact a little playground justice, but my wife’s cooler head prevailed.
If you’ve never seen a piñata bat, it’s a little baseball-bat shaped object, sometimes given out at ball games as a souvenir, usually made of some type of wood and about eighteen inches long, perfect for a book bag. Given my own history with assholes in higher grades, I’m quick to jump on the piñata bat as a solution to problems. My life experiences taught me two lessons: Don’t trust Anyone, and Don’t take Shit from anyone. It’s easy to take a little crap from someone, then after you get used to it, they give you more crap, and more, until you wind up their bitch, throwing their trash away the whole recess time, or carrying their drugs in your bum across the Mexican border.
So, the teachers handled the Playground Sopranos, and tried to put an end to it. Thus ended third grade. My kid came home the other day, reporting Halley is back up to her old tricks, in a different way. It seems that Halley is now accepting donations for kids to be “in the group”. Seeing as how she knows my daughter will rat her out, she leaves her alone, but one of the new kids was seen giving Halley money so that they would play with her. So we go from shunning to the classic “protection scheme”. I wonder if Halley has HBO, and gets left alone with The Sopranos and a notepad?
I wonder how long before they start making offers that others can’t refuse, except with the generous application of a Piñata Bat?

20130328-145305.jpg

Extortion on the playground.

My kid had a bullying problem last year. No, I’m not talking about being beaten up or shoved around, it was more psychological than that. After all, she was in the third grade.
You wouldn’t think there would be a bullying problem in the third grade, I don’t remember getting picked on until at least junior high school. Back then they ignored desperate cries for help. The kids getting picked on finally gave up, now they shoot up the place. I guess when you tell a kid to “deal with it”, they do it in their own way, huh Mr. Patrick?
Any how – there was sort of a bullying problem last year. One of the girls, we’ll call her Halley, since that’s what her parents named her, organized this “playground syndicate”. My words, not theirs. The “new girls” to the group had to do grunt work on the playground, misc. busywork crap that Halley would come up with, like going back and forth to the trash cans ten times to throw stuff away. If a kid refused, no one in the group would play with them, for fear of getting tossed out.
Since when did Biker Gangs influence playground etiquette? Or the Mob? It was the silliest thing I had ever heard of. Of course, my kid told Halley, et. al. to shove it up their collective butts. I would have loved to seen the little Twatwaffle’s face.

20130328-145029.jpg

I’m glad to hear she wasn’t going along with the sheep, but at the same time, she was relegated to the bench writing in her notebook, because no one would play with her. My solution was to send the kid to school with a Piñata Bat to exact a little playground justice, but my wife’s cooler head prevailed.
If you’ve never seen a piñata bat, it’s a little baseball-bat shaped object, sometimes given out at ball games as a souvenir, usually made of some type of wood and about eighteen inches long, perfect for a book bag. Given my own history with assholes in higher grades, I’m quick to jump on the piñata bat as a solution to problems. My life experiences taught me two lessons: Don’t trust Anyone, and Don’t take Shit from anyone. It’s easy to take a little crap from someone, then after you get used to it, they give you more crap, and more, until you wind up their bitch, throwing their trash away the whole recess time, or carrying their drugs in your bum across the Mexican border.
So, the teachers handled the Playground Sopranos, and tried to put an end to it. Thus ended third grade. My kid came home the other day, reporting Halley is back up to her old tricks, in a different way. It seems that Halley is now accepting donations for kids to be “in the group”. Seeing as how she knows my daughter will rat her out, she leaves her alone, but one of the new kids was seen giving Halley money so that they would play with her. So we go from shunning to the classic “protection scheme”. I wonder if Halley has HBO, and gets left alone with The Sopranos and a notepad?
I wonder how long before they start making offers that others can’t refuse, except with the generous application of a Piñata Bat?

20130328-145305.jpg

My troubles with Honda…

I’ve always been happy with foreign cars. Some people have an intense aversion to foreign cars, either because of some perceived threat to American jobs, or a sense of foreign inferiority. I’ve only ever owned foreign cars. My first one was a Mazda GLC, which should have been called a Mazda POS, because that’s what it was. It was purchased from a “friend” of the family. The car had a sense of when it was more than thirty miles from the house, because that’s where it would break down. The thing got a new “carburetor kit” more often than it got an oil change. But, chalk it up to buying a used car…

My next one was a Mitsubishi pick-up truck. That thing lasted for years. I think we had it about fifteen, maybe more. It was a no-frills, no A/C, no power steering, manual shift lumbering rattling ton of fun. Sure, it was hot and tough to drive at slow speeds, but the damn thing wouldn’t tear up. However, it did require the occasional sacrifice. Two deer, a Dalmatian, a goose, and numerous squirrels met their ends on the front and sides of that truck. Sure, the bumper was bent, and the plastic grill held together with some industrial glue, but the thing kept right on going. It dumped me once when the timing belt skipped, but it was at 150,000 miles, and a persistent drippy front oil seal had something to do with it.

Then came two Toyotas, a Corolla, which although smaller than the truck was fun for a while. A camry was next. Both cars lasted well past their finance dates. The corolla’s alternator crapped out after seven years, and then puked up a fuel pump relay, both relatively cheap fixes. The Camry is still going eight years later, with only a leaky power steering hose after 145,000 miles. Fixed for $20, including a new bottle of fluid.


2010_honda_cr-v_4dr-suv_ex-l_fq_oem_1_500

 

Then I bought the 2011 Honda CRV. I was very proud of it. Not only is it a foreign car, but unlike my Toyota (which was made in Tenessee), it was actually make in Somedamnwhere Japan. Yeah, I know, the CRV is a girl car. It’s cute, like a tiny mini van without the Soccer Mom stigma. Nothing says “douchebag” quite like rolling up somewhere and that side door goes sliding open and all the kids pile out. I think I’d rather ride a moped.

But any way – I was very happy with my purchase the first two years, until a slight buzzing began to emanate from under the dash, varying in pitch with the power applied to the A/C. The nice people at Honda said, “Your cabin fan bearing is bad. It’s going to be $160 to fix.” Seriously? I’ve driven literally over a million miles in varying makes of cars. I’ve NEVER had a cabin fan blow a bearing. I figured I would change it out during my next oil change. Thank you very much.

I didn’t make the next oil change – The car is 2.5 years old, and thanks to an active lifestyle (in the sense of we drive a LOT, all over the place, for the most part as a family we are a bunch of couch potatoes) we have over 50,000 miles on the car. On warm day a few weeks ago, I noticed the A/C didn’t seem to be cooling us off. I took the car back to Honda. The trouble? The Evaporator Coil is leaking. For those of you not versed in air conditioning repair, the evaporator coil is like a little radiator. It helps take the hot air out of the inside, and put it outside. It has a lot of pipes and solder joints and connections. Typically, air conditioning manufacturers are VERY proud of their coils, in the sense that they are priced like they are made of Gold, not copper.

Add to it the fact that they have to replace the “expansion valve”, which seems to exist to exapnd the cost of repairs, and some other related filter thing, all to the tune of $550. That’s not even the fun part. The labor for this event runs around $700, as they have to take the front bumper off.

On a car that’s less than three years old.

I can only guess that the Japanese have been buying parts from union labor companies. Needless to say, I voiced a strong opinion to Honda that my next car will come from down the street. Two toyotas with a combined 12 years under their hoods didn’t cost me that much in repairs. A/C systems seem to be a weak link in the CRV line, with MANY complaints over the years, something I didn’t know about pre-purchase.

I like the looks of the Rav-4. Hopefully Toyota won’t screw it up before it’s time to trade in the Honda.

So – I wrote Honda of America in California and expressed my displeasure with their shoddy parts. I got a phone call from “Unknown” today, who actually seemed to speak decent English and sympathize with my plight. Hopefully they can do something, but I’m not holding my breath too long. I don’t mind paying the labor, after all, I’m not under warranty, but for a coil to fail this soon is just silly. I’m tempted to get out the soldering iron and see if I can fix it… How hard should it be to pressurize the thing and stick it in some water like an old inner tube? They always want to replace these things, never try to fix them. I guess they couldn’t sell new ones if they did that…

Time’s a wastin’


If you were to visit my house in the coming weeks, provided I let you in (after all, I don’t know most of you from Adam’s Housecat. I don’t even know if Adam has a housecat. I’ll have to ask…) you might think I’m into some sort of kinky stuff. And no, not because I left a certain drawer open or anything… besides, leather is expensive and hard to keep clean.

I say that because over the next week or two there’s going to be all sorts of weird things hanging in the closet, from bedposts, across doors, etc. Ropes of various sizes, nylon straps, carabiner clips, plastic water bags, and tarps and cloth constructions of odd sizes and shapes.

anatomy-of-a-whoopie-sling

Yes, I’m going hiking again. I’ve been on several overnight events, but it’s really time to spread my wings and head off on another grand adventure, this one somewhat longer. I’ve decided to start at the start. Begin at the beginning as it were. I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail.

No, not the whole thing. It’s 2200 miles and takes six months to walk (unless you cheat a bit and have support, then you can push it to four, or even three). Just thirty miles or so…give or take a few bears. I’m starting at Springer Mountain with a couple of friends, and pushing on to the north.

Now I know there’s a common misconception about our former Governor Mark Sanford lying about being on the Appalachian Trail, when he was cheating on his wife. That is Verizon’s fault. See – someone called him and asked him where he was, and they THOUGHT he said “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”, when in reality he said “I’m liking this Argentinian Tail!”. So, it was all Verizon’s lousy service. He was probably on a Droid, too…

Anyway, I have been assuring coworkers that yes, I really am walking thirty miles through the woods. Unfortunately, hiking the “AT” this time of year has it’s drawbacks. This is peak thru-hiking season. 2500 or so people will start in the spring, and walk all the way to the other end, in Maine. They have to make it by mid-October before the state park at the north end closes, or get shut out and have to finish later. One in four will make it, half will give up before making it through North Carolina. But, since I’m starting at the beginning with all those people, I have been told it will be the AT equivalent of hitting Disney World over Christmas – a bit busy for the woods.

So, I’ll be pulling out all my stuff and going through it. Think about everything you need to live off of for three or four days. Then carry it around on your back for those four days. Okay, you can drop most of the clothes, you just wear the same ones and stink, really bad after a while. But whatever medicines you take, toiletries you need, sleeping gear, shelter, etc. you have to have to survive, goes on your back. Oh – and some way to drink stream water without catching a case of the runs that would make Montezuma Himself very pleased.

5983778_orig

There’s the hammock tent and its roof, with all its attachment ropes and tree straps. The carabiners for clipping various bits to the backpack, the water filter and its bag and hoses, the bear bag and rope for throwing the damn thing over the tree… all of it needs to be spread out, checked, repaired where necessary, and packed away. The only thing worse than that is coming home with some of it wet, and spreading it all out, along with the sleeping bag and underquilt.

I’m just hoping the weather is friendly. Tonight, along one of the peaks I will be walking, it’s supposed to be 14 degrees. Oh yeah – that’s calm breeze cold, with the wind chill it will feel like -6. I don’t think so. I would definitely have to avoid that area at 3 in the mornign. Of course, we won’t be camping on top of that peak (by that point we’ll be 2 miles from the car, and I plan on spending that night either at home, or on the side of I-20, depending on when the adventure ends).

636d9a21-acf7-4a7d-8250-fde95cc19f1b

My biggest problem of all, however happens to be something people take for granted most of the time: Food. I suck at camping food. I haven’t yet found a dinner worthy of cooking in the woods. I bought two camping cookbooks and a dehydrator. I have made some great “fruit leather” (think: fruit roll-ups in a crispier, drier form), some awesome dried fruits and (peaches in syrup come out GREAT – like candy), but that’s it. Dinner still consists of either Beef Jerky or some sort of processed pasta meal in a bag. I’m going to try to do this trip sans noodles. My hiking friends have some good suggestions. I might even make fajitas of some sort. I’ve dehydrated some salsa already. Interestingly enough, when you dehydrate hot salsa, it concentrates ALL the flavors, especially the hot.

So – the adventure continues, or at least the adventure preparation.

 

Trials and Tribulations with Time Warner Cable

First of all, they all suck.

Time Warner, Comcast, Dish Network, DirecTV. They exist for the sole purpose of separating the viewer from their hard earned cash.

Take, for example, the ever-present “Contract Dispute”. This usually occurs with one provider, then another, then another, in a rolling blackout of missing channels. I can almost hear them on the phone.

“Hello, Time Warner Cable CEO Speaking.”

“Hey yeah, this is the Viacom CEO, you want to make more money?”

“Sure man, what are you thinking?”

“Lets do the contract negotiation thing again. You blame us, we’ll blame you, throw in some slipping advertising revenues from the customers fast forwarding through our commercials, and drop channel for two days. In the end, you raise their rates and give us a cut, say five percent?”

“Sounds great! I’ll get the PR firm right on it…”

The bastards, that’s the kind of thing they would do… damn weasels. I used to have Dish Network. Back around 2005 or so. I had several bad installations and issues in a year, and finally a tech said the “transponder in your receiver is going out. Wait a few weeks, call them up and tell them you need a new one. They’ll bring it in and hook it right up.”

So – I did. I called them back and told them I needed a new receiver. I also told them I wanted a DVR, because they were advertising four rooms (two DVRs and two plain receivers) for free with a two year agreement for new customers. I said I was a customer for six years, and wanted the DVR instead.

They told me no. WTF? Customer for six years and I can’t get 1/4 the offer a new customer is getting. They were going to charge me $100 for the DVR, plus $25 for shipping. I told them to bugger off, hung up, and called Time Warner Cable. They said they could put my cable in by the end of the week.

Return call… “Hello, dish Network”

“Yeah, cut my service off Friday. I’m done.”

“I’m sorry sir but you’re under contract, you’ll have to pay extra.”

That’s right, they tried to say I was under a new two year contract since the guy came out and did service at my house. Always, Always keep everything these people give you, and everything you sign. I told them I could fax them the work order, but there was nothing about re-uppping a contract.

And what about that contract. You sign up for two years, and the second month they raise your rates. I think you should have your rates locked in for those two years. After all, you signed the damn contract at those rates.

So Any way – I dropped them like a hot potato. The funny thing was, they called me two weeks later to offer me my DVR at no cost, saying that “The policy had changed – existing customers could now get anything new customers could get”. Yeah, I call bull on that one.

So for several years I stayed with Time Warner cable, not because of their stellar service, but because they have cable internet. See – when I switched I dropped this antique form of internet called “dial up”, which is evidently something used around the turn of the century. Which century I’m not sure, but it was slow as shit. (My first modem in college was a 7200baud unit. That’s 7.2k for you people. Dialup peaks at 58k, so that was 8 times slower than most of you probably remember from the latter days of AOHell). For me, the jump to Cable Internet was a milestone in life. Oh, the stuff I could now download for free! The internet, all the piracy, none of the scurvy.

I almost dropped them last month. I don’t know what I would have done, I would have kept the internet, maybe gone to DirecTV, I don’t know. I’m still holding out to see if their commercial-skipping thing catches on and doesn’t get banned. My mom had a commercial-skipping VCR once. It was right their on the remote. One push, 30 seconds of fast forward.

I called them to get them to come out and fix a bad outlet in one room. Yeah, I know I could have done it myself, but I hate the spider farm under the house, and after having cable, the satellite, then cable again, the mass of black wires under there is very confusing. While on the phone, the friendly, midwestern-sounding lady told me she could save me money if I got the home phone bundle with my cable and internet. I don’t want a home phone, I don’t need a home phone. My wife and I have cell phones, if I want to talk I’ll call someone. I don’t want another way to reach me… one phone is enough. But – she said my bill would be $10 less each month for a year.

Okay, so do it. Free installation, $10 less. Gotcha. So the guy comes out, fixes me up, replaces my modem, and off he goes. My next month’s bill? $130 more than usual. So my $120 savings over the year goes to to a net loss of $10. I called them up, and of course get the call center in Juarez. Hector and I can’t really communicate, and he agrees to lower my bill by $25, the charge to fix the outlet in the one room.

Are you Freaking kidding me? $40 for the phone setup, $20 to register the phone number (that I didn’t want and don’t plan to use any way), taxes and other misc fees, all designed to screw me out of my money. After I hung up with hector I waited half an hour, and called back. I said I had enough of this crap, and was switching to satellite TV. I told them I wanted to know just how much internet would be by itself. Thankfully I got a call center that could understand me in regular plain old American English (although I still suspect it was in a foreign country), and they agreed to drop all the excess charges.

My bill straightened out. Now I have to remember to cut off the movie channels (free for three months) and the phone service (free for a year), otherwise I’m sure my bill will balloon through the roof. I know why they offer you three months free of something. They know you’ll never be able to remember exactly when to cut it off, and will wind up paying for part of a month, or just letting it ride after you get used to it.

I better call them this week about that. I need to see how Hector is doing, anyway.