Monday, December 11, 2017

Nigel's OK in My Book

Watching some classic (old) music videos, I found a song called Making Plans for Nigel (XTC). Never mind the song... I just like the title. The video is bizarre.

While we're at it, Kate Bush sounds like she's huffing helium.

  • Of note: when the doctor sedated Marshall, he used Propofol; the drug that killed Michael Jackson. Fortunately Marshall experienced a better outcome.

Congrats on 100 years of freedom for Finland!
Finland is known for heated underwear, anchovy pizza, and Finns. 
The national animal is the elephant (there are no elephants in Finland. They imported one from Africa, but it chose to walk back to Africa, rather than freeze).
Finland's national flower is grass.

  • 'Music' star Pink will raise her kids gender-neutral. Please make it stop. The Child Welfare Bureau has been called - these kids don't have a chance.

As I continue to tune in old videos, Instant Karma (John Lennon) comes on.. I've never seen it before.

The first thing I see is Yoko.. this is never a good thing. She's sitting onstage, toward the back of John; blindfolded and knitting. This would be delightfully absurd if anyone else did it. With Yoko it's Art, or as I call it, "a screw loose and a pathological need for attention."

There's a British guy playing tambourine. How can I tell he's British? He's wearing a full tan suit and huge, brown, horn rimmed glasses to play tambourine. There are also two bass players, for a reason John took with him to the grave. Maybe Chapman shot him to keep this from getting out.

It's a wonder I never got hired to review videos in the 80s.

  • If anything I write fails to offend you for the entire time you've been reading this, I'd like to share something with you, in the spirit of Christmas: "Simply,  Having, a Wonderful Christmastime."  This song has now invaded your brain and you will sing it incessantly for the next three weeks.
  • You're welcome.

Many women suffer silently from vaginal discharge and dryness, according to a commercial. Many people don't know I got out of the army on a vaginal discharge.

I would like to apologize, humbly and unreservedly, for the previous paragraph.

  • If you're having a Stupid Day today, remember: it could be worse. You could live in Mecklenberg County, where county records are being held hostage for $23,000 in Bitcoin. You could be the genius who opened the email attachment, unleashing the ransomware upon the county.

The Stupid is also great with the authors of a virtual keyboard app for android and iDevices, called Ai.Type. The app collects keystrokes, contacts, phone numbers, email addresses, social media profiles, and locations, among other things. The data is uploaded to, you guessed it, The Cloud. The 577gb database, on 31 million users, was left open to the public, so anyone who could find it had full access to it.

There is no word on whether the app let on that the user's data would be stolen uploaded to the company's (unsecured) server. Everything the user typed would be available, in addition to the information the app collected. Financial information, love emails, sexts, and all those pictures of women with one more penis than provided for in the original design specification.

If you rushed past the text about your data and clicked I AGREE, this is entirely your fault. If there was no warning, the developers should be sued out of existence and fined by the appropriate authorities for theft and negligence. 

I'll say it again: nothing you use is worth the invasion of your privacy and data.
You could also just use the phone's keyboard. This way, your data will only go to Google or Apple.

  • 28 senators wrote the FCC to urge holding off their decision on Net Neutrality because of irregularities in the data of public comments. 50,000 comments may not have been included in the public record. Hundreds of thousands of filings featured stolen addresses and there were half a million entries with Russian email addresses. Not included in the data were the rude comments directed at chairman Ajit Pai's nationality. You don't think there was anything suspicious about this, do you?

A lot of people blame the Russians for interfering in the 2016 election (and when I say a lot of people, I mean the losing side). I view this from the other side (of course I do): the Russians are not interfering - they're propping up American  democracy.

Hear me out: American citizens have become so fat and lazy, they can barely be bothered to go out for milk, no less vote. By hacking into our social media and voting systems, the Russians are making it look like our democracy is functional. People blame Trump for 'colluding' with Russia, when in reality, he was encouraging Putin to have his people vote to make it look like the election mattered. Meanwhile, the people who should have voted all stayed home, where they ran into the streets and online to protest and whine incessantly.

A brief investigation by the Boy Scouts of America, Special CyberSquad, turned up a few other places the Russians made a difference:
  • a West Virginia little league game
  • the decision not to tax online porn in the US
  • a $4 billion appropriation for Congressional bathroom remodeling and donations to Dick Cheney's various humanitarian charities

Have you rented a car lately?
If you did, your locations, smart phone identifier, and entered locations (including schools), are all available, if you attached to the car's infotainment system (the radio).  Privacy International rented cars and analyzed the information available in the systems. Personal information was on every single car.

Just to make things more interesting, the rental companies were not able to provide clear internal policies on handling drivers' personal data. The companies that responded said, as laid out in the Terms and Conditions, the responsibility is on the renter. The future is here and we're shooting it square in the nuts.

  • In case you didn't learn the first time, Ashley Madison, the website for cheaters, that leaked its database, has... wait for it... leaked its database of private and explicit photos again. So if you're the kind that insists on getting parts of you wet, you haven't learned your lesson. You know what they say - the third time's the charm.

brought to you by Friends of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Do It For the Children [and other orchestral nightmares]

I have nieces and nephews.
This came as quite a shock to me, even though I saw them shortly after they were born. It is said there are no ugly babies. Wrong. This is just one of the many reasons I have a dog.

No one ever told me that being an uncle actually came with responsibilities. I was all set to be a bad influence... I've got that one down perfectly.  I can purchase toys and musical instruments that make horrible, loud noises, then leave their home. But no, there's stuff I gotta DO for the little so and sos. You will notice, although nobody else does, that I do not invite them for Marshall's chemotherapy party or birthdays. I'm considerate that way.

Two of the little blighters are in their orchestras. It's wonderful that they picked up an instrument, even if it happened at gunpoint. As a musician of many years, I still don't get the school program. They give (force) an instrument on a poor unsuspecting child, then demand that he play only ancient classical songs. If  anybody were to just stop and ask the child what instrument he wants to learn, then what music he'd like to play, you'd have a much happier and more cooperative little musician. Let's face it... the kid is going to want to play the guitar or drums*. Perhaps classical music is a concept whereby parents insist on not having their children play drums. There's something to be said for it.

I feel very safe in saying that after the child decides guitar or drums, he'd rather not play something by Handel, preferring Led Zeppelin or Megadeth. This will also upset the parents, unless they like Led Zeppelin or Megadeth. They might breathe a sigh of relief that the child doesn't play a drum machine along with Nikki Manaj mp3s.

My Uncle Responsibility for the week involved watching the orchestra perform. It became my responsibility in a second hand way, when the child asked my wife to please come to his concert. Like most of my life, I was an afterthought; a person who showed up attached to the popular aunt. This doesn't bother me at all, and makes for a great reading.

So there we were, walking into an elementary school. I dared not count the years since I've been in an elementary school (and the times I was asked to leave elementary schools). They decided that since there were a lot of people showing up, they'd use the gymnasium, with its hard, acoustically-hostile cinderblock construction. You know... instead of the auditorium, where it's comfortable and things sound good, plus the seats did not come out of an old torture chamber, like the folding ones in the gym.

It was Standing Room Only in the makeshift concert hall.  All the parents were out with their phones held up, focused on the spot where they knew their kid should be (they couldn't see them either).  I thought this a good time to search for MILFs, and it was, except the MILFs all stayed home, preferring to go to the earlier show (to avoid the guys at the later show, who would be searching for them). We had to be there early, although no one has been able to figure out why. Perhaps they wanted everybody to be good and agitated before the concert started. It works well for Guns n Roses.

The show started and although we were assured our nephew was there, no one could actually locate him. His cello dwarfs him to begin with. These kids did very well, all things considered. Everybody knows children under five feet tall cannot play as well as the taller kids.**  They played reasonably in tune, although not exactly in time with each other. Their teacher/conductor, an Asian lady (you think I'm kidding, don't you?) played piano. After only a few hours, we finally figured out the method behind the madness: the conductor was actually the performer, while the kids were convenient accompaniment. Put another way, the teacher was the Indy pace car, which ran at precisely 55mph, while the children raced their cars in front of her, behind her, in the pit, across the grass, or anywhere else that wasn't next to the pace car. No one seemed to notice this but me, judging by the fact that I was the only one in the room without a camera pointed in the general direction of the stage.

Please don't take my gentle mocking as an indictment of the childrens' talents. I do not expect them to perform like Itzach Perlman (yes, I spelled it wrong - go read some other sarcastic bastard's blog).

When my nephew's group was done, I applauded enthusiastically, then raced for the exit. Unfortunately, my tires were shredded by The Pit Boss, who semi-politely explained that there was another group playing shortly. As loud as it was in the room, everyone wondered where that soul-shattered SIGH came from.

The next group was over five feet tall, which increased my hopes that I could sit there for another four hours.***  As soon as they started, it became glaringly apparent that the charming young lady up front with the violin was intent on 'interpreting' the songs in her own style. Her own style was largely not playing the same notes as everybody else. The egregious out-of-tuneness went unnoticed also, except for the fact that it kept waking me up.

My nephew proudly told us he was first chair. We learned later that first chair meant he was the first one in that particular chair at the moment. The orchestras were so large that the basses and cellos were located offstage. This was also the reason I was given for my location offstage with my guitar. I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with my appearance or my playing.

Here's where things got hairy (not me, the orchestra): something got in my ear and kept trying to bore a hole through and start eating my brain. It took me a few seconds to figure it out.. the group had another 'individual stylist', like the young lady with the violin. He and his bass decided that they were not happy with the key the song was in and proceeded to make the changes he felt necessary. This came in the form of playing every note a half-step lower, which seemed to make him happy, as it went on for the whole concert.  For the non-musician readers, the worst musical noise you can hear, aside from the aforementioned Niki Manaj, is two instruments playing a half-step apart. It has been known to make people go through windows on the upper floors of tall buildings. You can feel it right where your coccyx (COCK-six) is, and it goes up your entire spine painfully, attempting to exit via the top of your head. Perhaps the reason they didn't use the auditorium was all the bits of brain matter on the ceiling.  In these sad financial times, public schools cannot always afford ceiling cleaning services. They either hold functions in the gym or pray that no one looks up.

I thought I was home free when I got home, but it was not to be. Another nephew has an orchestral performance in three weeks. If I am not there, his mother will TALK to me. A lot. For a long time. With her grating Philadelphia accent and a liberal helping of Guilt. But the joke's on her... I'm bringing Bluetooth earpieces, so I can listen to Hendrix mangle a guitar while the children molest Bach.


*Unless the family is Asian, in which case it will be an orchestral instrument and classical music, which they will practice daily and excel, while we discover that 80% of the orchestra is Asian.

Before you go off on me like Nagasake, stereotypes don't appear from a vacuum. This is exactly the makeup of one nephew's orchestra. I looked around and noticed that most of the musicians were Asian (this is strictly an observation). They did not, however, have cameras, but on the other hand, it was very difficult to get out of the parking lot...

**I just made that up.

***20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Track THIS

An Australian man, working for a Western Australia water management company, was invited to a meeting at work, with their equivalent of Human Resources. Every employee was given a PDA (Public Display of Affection or Personal Digital Assistant, depending on day of the week), to track where they were. His records stated that he was working at different places but there was no report from his PDA/tracker that he was there.

The fella had a thing for a certain snack food. The bag it came in was foil and mylar. He placed the PDA in the bag, which acted as a Faraday cage. For those of us not electronically oriented, it's a device from which no signals get in or escape. This prevented the PDA from ratting him out. A brief investigation showed that he was out playing golf. 140 times. Now there's a man dedicated to his work. Or something.

  • it's time for my non-seasonal rant about unboxing. As we spend a lot of time online (admit it - you'll feel better), we might have seen this. This is a activity wherein you take a picture of something you got and post it online. We, who work in IT and have a more evolved and nuanced sense of sarcasm, can find no useful reason for this behavior. We also make Lemon Face when we see people posting pictures of their food. Or stupid Dog Filters.
  • This behavior is particularly egregious in the world of musicians. Some perfectly affable gent will take a picture of his brand new, just released effects box. Every reader is excited because they haven't gotten theirs yet or they're waiting for a demo on YouTube, to figure out whether they need this box or not.
  • And what greets them, after the headline "New Illudium P32 Explosive Space Modulator"?  A flipping picture. Gee, that's helpful. Stereotypes don't appear from a vacuum, hence the stupid guitar player.

You've got a cell phone. Of course you've got a cell phone.
You have your location services on, either through ignorance, because of the Gee Whiz app, or you simply don't care. Even if location is off, you can still be tracked. What kinds of information is tracked and what might be traced back to you? Some ad companies will allow you to opt-out but want your Wifi and Bluetooth MAC addresses. Yeah, right. Does it matter that Google collected information anyway, after these were opted out?

Whether you have an existing or new android cell phone, here are five simple tips to keep it safe.

  • What price security?  Paypal purchased TIO, a payment processor, for $230 million. TIO got hacked into. TIO halted all activities to avoid further losses. Meanwhile, the Personally Identifiable Information of about 1.6 million customers leaked. Paypal announced that it had found issues with TIO's data security program that did not adhere to its own standards.
  • This infers that Paypal did not check TIO's security standards.
  • Is a $230 million acquisition a mere pittance - too low to bother checking out its security? Where's the line? A billion?
  • In addition to not bothering to secure itself (it owns TIO, therefore it's Paypal), the business has provided a lot of grief to a lot of people. Even though I was a customer, I'd advise not using it.

One of the largest (Chinese) manufacturers of drones stands accused of helping China spy on the US. Because we buy Chinese drones.... what could possibly go wrong? Once again, the government keeps us safe.

  • It's a good thing the holidays are coming up. We now get treated to all sorts of ridiculous xmas commercials, some showing up as early as Halloween. This year we're treated to talking carrots and meerkats with German accents, that seem to go on forever. The Brits get a continuing story of two people who met on public transportation and are trying to hook up. This must have something to do with a cell phone provider, or why would they bother bothering us with this nonsense. The only reason I don't throw the screen across the room is that the female is cute, with a lovely, understandable Scottish accent. And I can't afford another screen. As I type this, I swear to you that the commercial just came on.

Yeah, I'm old school. Up til the current car, all my tires were cheap and large. The current car has tires that are small, with large rims and tiny (not thick) tires. What do you suppose would happen if current cars used real tires? My guess is a better ride, but I have absolutely no knowledge of tires, except that mine cost over $200 each, where they used to cost $60-80. Aside from the sound of Get off My Lawn, this is a genuine question. Any car people readers?

  • Think you're busy this holiday season? The poor folks at Amazon have been working 55 hour weeks, falling down on the job, and taken away in ambulances. Fortunately the problem was solved when the executives jumped to inaction and offered the employees small chocolates.

Everybody's favorite right wing tongue, Gene Simmons, was banned for life from Fox News. According to reports, he barged in on a staff meeting and exposed his torso, shouting, "Hey chicks - sue me!" Furthermore, he told Michael Jackson pedophilia jokes and mocked the intelligence of the staffers.

The article did not explain, however, why he was banned.

  • Everybody's favorite perennial presidential candidate, Vermin Supreme, sued after he was denied a permit to bring ponies to a Hillary Clinton book signing.

Vermin Supreme for president

  • After brief research, which is the only kind of research I do, Vermin is now a libertarian. Considering the recent candidates, as well as the Guy in the Loincloth, Vermin will be a welcome change.
  • Vermin's 2020 slogan: How could I possibly be any worse?
  • Before I decide on whether he gets my vote, I want to know if there will be personalized boots for our heads, or will they just say Vermin Supreme on them? How does one go about sizing them?

Today's Stupid Commercial: What worries you most about your financial future?
One of the kids pops up and says, I don't have any money.

  • Also overheard on tv: "she's in an advanced stage of pregnancy." 
  • What's that - the baby's halfway out?

Marshall Update: as mentioned previously, the oncologist canceled Marshall's last chemo treatment because he was doing so well. This week's appointment was looking around for lesions in his mouth. It turns out he's not fond of fingers in his mouth, much like the rest of us. 

So after all that, the onco wants to operate, to remove the lesion and go with pills for a while. When we got the estimate, one of us turned white, the other turned green. When we said we'd need to think about this, the doc said no problem - it just has to be done within two weeks. With oral chemo, it'll give him 6-9 months. Oddly enough, other options we discussed earlier would give him the same amount of time.

No one mentioned another operation until today.
Can't help but feel we're being led down the Golden Path, only we're giving away all the gold. Last I checked, neither of us are vets, so it's not like we can ask medically relevant questions. As you'd imagine, this is somewhat upsetting.

Mind you, Marshall's in great spirits; eating like mad, drinking like madder, and demanding everything be dropped so he gets what he wants at that moment. He's got bounce in his step, almost like a puppy. He's leaping on furniture he couldn't six months ago. 

The only criterion is that he's pain-free and comfortable.

this is probably a bad blog to read if you're an Apple fan

Monday, December 4, 2017

Yes, It's a Reptle

Know what Winning is?
A lizard named Harriet.

  • I just saw a commercial for this 'miracle combination bamboo bra', which was guaranteed to overcome every problem women have ever had with bras. I'm thinking that if you have an issue with your bra, you probably don't want one made of bamboo. Getting poked in the boobs by little bamboo probes all day has to be somewhat unpleasant. The Vietnamese used to put slivers of bamboo underneath the fingernails of their enemies to torture them.

Sometimes you gotta be a dick. Well, sometimes *I* have to be a dick. No idea why - it's almost a primal instinct. For some reason, I feel compelled to mess with people who have OCD

Well, not only me. At my last job, there was a lady who had some serious OCD. She'd go into a meeting room, and before the meeting, would notice a picture on the wall that wasn't straight. She'd get up from her seat to fix it. In absolutely no time at all, another Total Bastard picked up on this. He'd wait til she fixed the picture and sat down, at which point he'd get up and tilt it a bit. He'd sit across from her to watch her get up. It was beautiful to watch, especially when it happened after the meeting started.

Mrs. lefty has an OCD tendency or two. Since we're in the same house and married, I have absolutely no choice in the matter. When watching tv, the volume must be on an even number. She cannot explain why, but gets visibly upset when I ask. Therefore I must change the volume to an odd number. She gets more excited and changes it back. Not to be outdone, I change it back. She tells me it no longer matters, and she'll just watch tv. Within sixty seconds, the pressure is too great and the volume needs to go back to the even number. We actually have two remotes, just in case. If I'm in a particularly evil mood, we'll watch an entire program, then I'll casually mention that the volume was on an odd number the entire time. She says no problem, but I know she won't be sleeping that night.

A previous girlfriend had to get out of the shower by the rear of the curtain. Without any choice in the matter, I kept opening the front of the curtain and insisting we get out there. She turned white, pulled the curtain in the other direction and got out quickly, lest I catch her.

I told you I was a dick.

  • From the people who brought you diversity hiring (white people), comes a new app called ShopNoir, which allows you to Buy Black this holiday season. If I had even the smallest clue about programming, my app would be called ShopSinister, which allows you to Buy Left-Handed this holiday season. 
  • This will be followed by ShopCracker, for buying white; ShopHanukah for buying Jew (the Anti Defamation League will be calling later today); and ShopGyno, for female-owned stores this holiday season. Not represented so far are the potential beneficiaries of ShopWhich, the transexuals, who are currently out protesting. Last but never least is ShopCorrect, where you don't buy from the white male patriarchy and its opposite number ShopPrivilege, in case you want to shop exclusively with White Male Patriarchy Privilege.
  • None of this will matter, as most people will ShopCheap.

We ran out of soda the other day [loud, suspenseful sound effect from Law and Order-SVU]. Wife said she was so desperate, she actually drank water. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I don't provide well for my family.

  • TODAY'S TIN FOIL MINUTE: According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, about 20 million homes have a voice-activated assistant (Amazon Echo or Google Home). That's 20 million people who paid a sum of money for Amazon or Google to spy on them and keep their personal information. What could possibly go wrong?
  • This is another salvo in the War on Privacy, proving yet again that people are voluntarily ignorant about privacy or they simply don't care. Or both.
  • Not that the concept is a bad one.... this is the future, where you simply speak to your house and it does Stuff for you. It's truly cool to ask your house when is the last showing of Deep Throat at the Adult Metroplex, in the seedy part of town. Soon you'll be able to order tickets via your house, allowing you the option of Just Cleaned seats or discount Sticky seats.
  • When voice recognition technology is processed in the cell phone, instead of going upstream to servers, where it is kept, I'll start using it. The moment you want one service to interact with another, you're putting yourself out there.

A new survey of 1,600 Australians shows most people are concerned corporations are violating their privacy online. A similar survey of Americans shows most are concerned with Kim Kardashian and cat pictures.

  •  A high level IT tech receives an emergency call from his system at 5am. The main file server has gone offline. He remote connects to the system, or at least he tries.. the remote system that will allow him to access the server won't work, which is why companies pay for remote systems. They knew the server wasn't long for this world, so they built a new one that ran in parallel, so he did a few Magic Tricks, copied some operating system files, and had the entire new server up before anyone got into work. He announced this via email to everyone, telling them to reboot if their computers didn't recognize the new server.
  • Our hero was called into the Executive Office and, instead of a hearty Thank You, Attaboy, or Bonus, got yelled at and called unprofessional for installing the new server, because some people never bother saving their documents and leave them open overnight, so they lost them.
  • Security begins at home, then follows you to work. Unfortunately, it only follows IT people. Upper level might occasionally give a nod towards it, but abandon it immediately if it becomes inconvenient for them. They even go so far as to hire expensive security experts to make recommendations for them to completely ignore.
  • My old department put PINs on the corporate cell phones, for safety and privacy reasons. We also set all PCs to automatically lock after 5 minutes, so when people got up from their desks, others couldn't walk by and see private data or prohibited medical information. The Chief Operating Office appeared at my desk one week later, demanding we remove the PIN from her phone, because "security is.... inconvenient."  Right after that, the department was dragged into a six month series of meetings to decide the right amount of time before the computers locked. Everyone had input, which was somewhat less than helpful. Finally, the topic was dropped because people found it inconvenient to have to re-log into their computer when they walked away for a meeting or lunch or to flirt with a colleague, who would rather drink gasoline than deal with their neighbor.
  • We are doomed.

Good things do happen, even in Philadelphia. Some bright light ran out of gas on the highway. A homeless man happened by and, seeing her plight, walked to a gas station and spent his last twenty dollars on gas for her. Do you want to talk about Heart?

More than impressed, the motorist set up a GoFundMe page to raise a few thousand to get the gentleman set up with an apartment and job services until he could support himself well.

The GoFundMe went somewhat over expectations; about three hundred thousand dollars at last count. The man received a house and a tidy sum, along with job counseling.  What did he do? Donated money to organizations that helped him. Do you want to talk about Heart?

  • Ideally, you should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when doing anything from your computer. The connection can't be snooped on, offering full privacy for your data. One VPN service, PureVPN, boasts they don't keep logs, so you're secure from the authorities. Well, it turns out they lied: the FBI contacted them for information on a customer suspected of committing a crime and they turned over a treasure trove of information (that they don't keep).
  • If you read this far, you'll be happy to know the following are no log VPNS: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhostVPN, SaferVPN, and VYPRVPN.

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. And it was a bad time too. 
Some internal process started arguing with a different internal process.. I have no real idea what was happening, but the end result is that I felt like advanced death. It probably wasn't helping that I was at work. Sometimes I just sit there and nod off, which is fairly impressive if you happen to walk by. If it gets really bad, I feel like sitting under my desk. This doesn't happen often, which is probably a pretty good thing, as I like my job. They know me, so they might shake their heads, smile, and go on.

Eventually work ended and I somehow managed to convince the car to take me home. No, I do not have a self-driving car, but it always gets me home. Those of you who drink too much may experience a similar phenomenon. 

Once in the house, my mind turned to the thing I really wanted No, oddly enough, not sex.... I wanted a nap. A really satisfying nap. A deep, relaxing nap. The kind of nap that cures most of the world's problems.  With the total occupants in the house numbering two (the dog and me), I decided to use the couch.

This was my first mistake.  [I'm using the literary technique of foreshadowing here.]

Five satisfying minutes into my horizontal exercise, Marshall decided to surprise me by BARKING to go outside. This is unprecedented, as he naps when I nap. I told him how amused I was, and I stood there, waiting for His Highness to do his duty. As it turns out, dogs do not get embarrassed or agitated when you watch them go to the bathroom. No quid pro quo for me today.

Back in the house, dog safe and comfortable, I re-occupied the couch.

A short while later came a pounding on the door. No, the dog had not taken up pounding on the door with his water bowl.. it was yet another home improvement dude. This is the second one this week, which means they're infesting the neighborhood and we'll have to get one of those special exterminators out to help us. Fortunately it's a neighborhood problem, so everybody chips in. You know these clowns... they "happen to be working on a house in the neighborhood" and have "dropped by to see if you need anything done." Bless their pointy little heads. The altruism here is astounding - you just don't get this class of home improvement goodness in other sections of the city. 

I am a reasonably polite person - stop laughing NOW. Most people would simply slam the door in his face. I think that's kinda rude and Mom taught me better (even though it's rude to interrupt my nap, dinner, or anything else I'm doing, by knocking on my door). I politely tell him no thanks, but have a nice day. As it turns out, he's hip to this, probably because no one else will give him the time of day (or belly button lint). He keeps talking. I wish him a good day again, at which point he brings out the big guns: "Oh, so you're not planning to DO anything about your mess of a house?"

I could choose to be insulted. I could pitch a fit. I could throw my car at him. But I figured all of these would require putting more time (and heaven forbid, effort) into this project, so the best way would be to question the species of whatever gave birth to him, continue to wish him the most spectacular of days, and slam the door so hard he literally blows across the street, where he'll undoubtedly bang on their door. What he does next is sheer genius... he tells my neighbor they're doing work on MY house and would he like a quote. The neighbor has no choice but to order some work, because if the Problem House on the block (mine) is getting something done, others would be ashamed not to. Fortunately this is no longer my problem.

Back to the couch I go, laughing at the sheer hilarity of what has become a comedy sketch about someone trying to simply take a nap. 

And nap I did. For damn near fifteen minutes, when ANOTHER knock occurred. This is getting tiresome, I though to myself, while continuing to snicker. Praying it wasn't another chance to sign up for work on my house, I opened the door to find my wife standing there.  As anyone would imagine, regardless of whether they know her or not, my wife has house keys. To this actual house. Our house. The house with the really comfortable couch, upon which I was just napping. Judging by the plastic bag she was holding in her mouth, it appeared she'd need help. Let's face it... if I were overloaded, coming to my front door, I'd either have my keys in hand or drop something and get my keys. Perhaps being a woman comes with some sort of entitlement to have locked doors opened for you; I certainly don't know.

Deciding to keep all of my parts intact, I let her in and grabbed some bags. Strangely, I then went back to the couch, perhaps because I like pain and aggravation.

My wife, bless her, made sure to do everything she could to avoid annoying me, like talking for twenty minutes about her day, what she had for lunch, what her friends were wearing, what we were thinking about doing next week, and how about that earthquake in Delaware. Sometimes she misses subtle signs, like the way I had the blanket wrapped around my head while I was laying flat, with my back to her. She eventually stopped talking, perhaps when she sensed my breathing stop (a trick I learned in Swami School in India, back during the war).

Mindful of my damn near sleeping state, she did not talk. She did, however, hum. Lately she hums constantly. I would be judged not guilty if I murdered her for the never ending humming but I'm not like that. I wouldn't kill her, or even bludgeon her. Or run her over, or throw her from the roof. Mom raised me better.  When she hums, I politely ask her to stop. Sometimes she's so involved in humming, she doesn't hear me. So I try again, using more volume. Finally she looks at me quizzically, asks if she was humming, and apologizes. Then starts humming again.

So she's humming, being 'quiet' while I rest. Being quiet means not asking me questions (sometimes) and walking around without kicking anything (a difficult task regardless of my state). So she walks around stealthily. And when I say stealthily, I mean BOOM, PLOD, SQUONK, PLOD, PLOD. Hey, at least she's not humming, right? She quietly plods to the door, where we keep our high tech backup alarm system, which consists of a few REALLY LOUD industrial size jingle bells on a three foot strip of leather, around the doorknob. She completely avoids slamming into the bells by simply knocking them onto the solid floor with a humongous CRASH RING RING RING.  Good thing I was resting, or I'd be really pissed.

It is at points like this that I can only think of the words I'm going to type on the blog to share with you, because there's no live studio audience to watch people torture me while I try to nap.

One last time, I beg of the universe. I just want a nap.
The next thing I know, I'm hearing my parents' voices. This is not a normal thing for me, especially when I'm sleeping and they're not in my house. But the joke was on me - they were in my house, being quiet because I was napping. I didn't hear them knocking on the door.

HEY... if I didn't hear them knocking, it means I was ASLEEP for three or four seconds. I had technically NAPPED!

she asked what I want for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kill the Turkey

Turkey reheated.
Turkey sandwiches.
Turkey soup.
Stuffing sandwiches.
Throw out the bloody cranberry lump that Aunt Joan made to look like it just came out of a can, complete with lines....

  • So the Remaining Royal got engaged. Fortunately there's absolutely nothing else going on in the known universe, so television, news, the internet, and people on the street can be completely absorbed in this great bloody nonsense. 
  • As a Murkin, I'll obviously never understand the Royals and Britain's Royal Fascination. Not to mention the finances and ancient nefarious connections.
  • Out here in the Real World<tm>, it turns out that people get engaged, marry, get knocked up, and divorce all the time.  Not one of us rates a notice, news story, or full Social Media Blitz.
  • Sometimes, before or after engagement, sperm hits its target and a pregnancy results. Again, not so much as two lines on Faceyspaces, with four likes. The morning 'news' program has spent two full days on this. When we got married, we sent out email announcements. Not a single response, because everyone thought we were kidding. Imagine - me, kidding!

WARNING: if you need to wear a shirt with GORGEOUS or sweatpants with BOOTYLICIOUS on them, you're not.

  • But it's ok - for the rest of us, who are sick of Royal News, there is still time to catch the ponderous, endless stream of Dog the Bounty Hunter marathon on A&E.
  • Mrs. Dog, sadly, has cancer. This is not a problem for the show, which smelled ratings!
  • If possible, they are going to livestream her chemo. Yes, the guy whose dog just went through chemo is now making human chemo jokes.

Those of you who survived Turkey Day lived to see Black Friday. This is a manufactured event, in which people are supposed to buy Stuff that's supposed to be on sale. Some of these deep-researching geniuses have come up with the perfect item that must be purchased and wait in line to purchase it, sometimes in tents. Things get interesting when they somehow manage to get inside the store. Things get even more interesting when there are tv cameras there, which document the carnage for the area and the rest of the world, via YouTube, to see. People pushing, people shoving, people taking sharp and blunt objects to each other - and that's in the parking lot. This is a sociology experiment gone really wrong twenty years ago, hence its repetition every year.

So you've pretty much digested your turkey and the alarm went off at 3am, and here you are at [insert generic electronics store that is not at all Best Buy], with the doors just opening and General Unrest rearing his ugly head. The great mass of (in)humanity surges toward the door. Unfortunately, physics dictates that the width of the great mass of humanity go through the choke point of two doors, so humanity goes ahead and chokes. Each other, if necessary. People have died by falling and being Trampled Underfoot (2nd song reference - did you get the first?). After hopefully making it through the doors, you vault ahead, as if shot from a slingshot, to the... I dunno.. where did we want to go?

The Prepared Shopper, whose tent is insulated and has flowing booze, sprints right to their preferred, highly-researched item. Oh, so sorry... the large screen tv that takes up an entire wall and connects to your neural pathways, is not in stock. You discover that there was only one for sale anyway, and that went to Ralph, the manager's girlfriend's special son, the previous evening. Oh well, at least you got to stay in a freezing parking lot overnight.

The Real Hip Genuine 2000s Smart Consumer, who really has her shit together, has also been doing her research, but only for what's coming on Cyber Monday. This is a veritable online orgy of alleged deals from innumerable retail outlets, only these don't require a tent or getting up at 4am, hence it doesn't really count as Family Time. These poor slobs have also been deluded into the false belief that there are some actual deals to be had. While there are no apparent limits on large screen tvs for sale, you will run into them in terms of finding out they're no longer in stock, approximately two days before Christmas

This shit is mandatory, in case you didn't get the email.
The email, by the way, promised deals in every department, backed up by incredibly annoying tv commercials, featuring singing flipping boxes, belting out the worst vomitous soft classic rock tunes from your misspent youth. 
This email is markedly different from the email from a random Nigerian prince, promising you untold wealth, if you'd only send him your banking information. It turns out you can't even pirouette in Nigeria without hitting a prince.

If you happen to be a musician and mysteriously got on the emailing list for Guitar Center, you're in for a real treat. I counted eleven emails over the weekend, all with promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, plus a 25% discount coupon, good on anything in the store, except for two paragraphs of exceptions at the bottom of the email. If you take the time to do the math, you can save 25% on your choice of (new only) guitar picks or those tiny little rubber things that go on the bottom of boxes so they don't slip. This is the package of six tiny little things, not the thirteen piece pack. I expect their manager to be personally knocking on my door tomorrow, asking why I haven't used my coupon yet. He already sent me three emails. When he comes by, I'll ask him about left-handed guitars. The coupon, of course, applies to new lefty guitars, but they happen to be out of them. And when I say out of them, I mean they don't stock them, or happen to be caught naked with two cheapies hanging on the wall, one of which is used, which is not covered by the coupon. For some reason, it would cause grievous bodily harm to order a few lefty guitars for southpaw customers. Perhaps even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'd feel terrible if I inadvertently caused this with my selfish demands for a guitar I could actually play.

After you have completed this conspiracy by retail to further separate you from your money, there is a Brand New imaginary invented day: Giving Tuesday. This is the day you're allegedly supposed to give to charity.  The very clever joke here is that this day was also invented by the retail sector. It makes them look great and also disguises the fact that by the time you're done with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you have absolutely nothing left to Giving Tuesday. It's brilliant in concept and execution. You don't even have room on your credit cards, which were so maxed out, you had to get a few more. If you're in the UK, you can get them in 39% or 59% interest, and payday loans up to the minimally impacting rate of 1239%. Yes, that's right - you read that right (third song reference), 1239 percent.  In fact, as soon as you get the money conveniently deposited in your checking account the next day, Uncle Luigi comes by to collect the vig. If you don't happen to have it the next day, Luigi says that's fine, the amount you owe has been 'adjusted upward' to 2977%. This is grand progress from the days when Luigi would break a few of your limbs. Payday Loans have realized they can hurt you far worse than physically by interest and credit reporting alone.

So if I, for some strange reason, happen to have a few shekels left to divest myself of, I conveniently have an entire inbox of Helpful Suggestions. Even the libertarian party has an appeal. To be absolutely honest, and I am scrupulously honest, as you read several times per week, there's an organization called Oldies But Goodies, which finds homes for older cockers. I'm pretty sure it's tax-deductible. A few hard-earned dollars went there, before our own issues with an even older cocker. Screw the humans - there's no hope for them. Give to dogs (and even cats) whose situation is caused by humans, and can be remedied with a few of your dollars.  Give money, in-person help, pet food, and blankets to your local SPCA. Overbreeding, lack of spay/neuter, and pure human stupidity have landed these poor guys there.

SHIT - I have actually promoted the thing I just got done skewering.

  • My house is weird. You probably just shot your coffee out your nose, all over the screen, and said, "No!"
  • It lags the outside temperature by strange amounts, so that when it's warm outside, it's freezing inside. I don't actually know this until I go outside, and I don't go outside because Bad Things Happen when I go outside.
  • In fact, whenever I open the front door, the neighbors yell at me not to let all my cold air outside and make it cooler for the rest of them.
  • Pretty soon I'll be the only house on the block with windows open after Thanksgiving.

Abandoned Army and NSA Intelligence Sharing System data was left exposed to the public on an unsecured server. These are the people 'protecting' us and 'keeping us safe'. Mostly just spying on us.

  • The UK, long known for systems, spying, and intel, has decreed that porn sites must age-verify, so children under eighteen do not access videos of people performing relatively normal human activities. Just imagine the fun that will ensue once this data gets stolen due to a not-protected server somewhere. Plus, you raise wonderfully-adjusted children when you brand sex 'dirty'.

An important court case is being brought by the ACLU (for people who think they do nothing good, here's an example of why they do). The government, which, as mentioned early, 'protects' us by spying on us, maintains that you have no expectation of privacy when you voluntarily give out information. Information, in this context, is your cell phone's location data, only you haven't freely given it out. The case attempts to overturn a guilty ruling for a person convicted of a crime via location data, obtained without a warrant. The spy agencies maintain that they don't need a warrant to spy on you. You'll note that this is a popular, recurring thing. They will spy anyway, so this is just window dressing to make it look like they're not violating Fourth Amendment protections. Law is ill-prepared to deal with electronic communications and advancements. Use your imagination as to why the government would prefer not to rely on your constitutional rights and protections.

  • Bulletproof Coffee has informed customers that although their coffee is bulletproof, their network isn't. 

Marshall's treatments approach the finish line. The last chemo appointment was last week, stopped one treatment early because he's doing so well. This week, his bloodwork came up just fine. Next week is a visual inspection to see if there are any lesions left. Meanwhile, the New and Improved Marshall is ramping up the annoying of his parents, whining pitifully for everything his little heart desires. This usually takes place when they are doing something important.

No matter how intelligent he is, and he's frightening, he still drinks from the toilet.

  • Here's a great headline: "French president Macron says gender-based insults will become a crime, punishable by law."
  • Countries are criminalizing speech. Spoiled as we are by our First Amendment, this is shocking. Freedom of speech includes speech that you do not agree with - potentially ugly speech, that you'd prefer not to hear. Political correctness (social justice warriors) demands censoring speech with which they do not agree). The fact that this is infecting entire countries is worrisome. It's like a bad nightmare from old science fiction come true.
  • The point of this exercise is "educating the public and schoolchildren about sexism and violence against women."  What this means is that men are not allowed to say bad words about women, but it will be perfectly ok for women to say what they like to and about men. Isn't that wonderful?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios? No.

  • While we're all happy happy joy joy, I'll leave you with this small rant: we recently had our car's windshield replaced. When this happens, the service will give you the piece of the original glass, containing your stickers. All went incredibly well. This was followed in rapid succession by a number of police stops, demanding to know where the stickers were. Fortunately, they were all fielded by Mrs. lefty, who was none too pleased at the opportunity. Once the relevant documents were produced, the police smiled and she went on her way, semi-unmolested.
  • Today's visit with the local constabulary produced nastiness and attitude on the part of the policeman. When the documents were produced, he angrily went on about how this wasn't supposed to be like this. Well, what would you like done and what are the legal specifics on it, Officer?  The kind gentleman then gave her a legal warning. Thank you, Officer Dickhead. There's always one.
  • I suggested keeping the piece of windshield on the dash to avoid aggravation. Wife said this was a good idea, except when stopping quickly, when the glass would turn into a projectile. Well, yeah... there is that.

I gave up trying to find stuff years ago and now just ask

Friday, November 24, 2017

We Need More Diversity in the Blogosphere

Like that? I generally don't get to say hip things like blogosphere.
And I generally don't want to say things like diversity.

I just came across a disturbing article, describing how a diversity research group wants to bring greater diversity to the entertainment industry. Of course this is a college professor, because a really large number of really bad ideas come from college professors.  The original name of the group was Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative. The new name is the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and it includes people from UMG, Disney, Sony, and others.

I hope that readers of ThermionicEmissions know by now that I have no problem with anybody except the Stupid. There are no problems with diversity, unless it's forced. And sure enough, this organization wants to force diversity upon the music industry. Not the artists - we can all agree that there are few fields as organically diverse as music. No, they want to make everybody from label owners down to recording engineers and coffee getters more diverse.

Most of the people I know are old-school, like me. They believe you should hire the best qualified person for the job, regardless of gender, race, origin, handicap, dominant hand, etc. The new breed of PC social engineers feels it more important to have diversity than the best person for the job. I find this infuriating, as it's gaining traction and being accepted, even if grudgingly.

Philadelphia had an issue in the past few years that perfectly exemplifies the issues with social engineering diversity.  Someone decided the Philly Police did not have enough black people on the force. I have no idea who or how they made the decision. So they did whatever was necessary to hire more black people. The problem showed up during testing, when some of the black people did not score well in the tests. Rather than hiring people who could pass the test, the police department lowered the standards for the test and for hiring.

I don't know about you, but I want the best and brightest protecting me. If you prefer a more diverse force over a good force, I suggest there's something wrong with you.

I want to emphasize that I'm speaking about people getting the job solely because of diversity. If they can do the job as well as anyone else, there is no issue.

If I'm recording, I want a great engineer and producer. I don't want a new hire who got in because she has internal plumbing, plus less skill than the other candidate.

A relative took a test for a government job. She did well. Unfortunately the minority lady who didn't test as well got the job, because they needed to hire minority people. This is called discrimination.

After the professor gets done making the entire entertainment industry inclusive and diverse, I have some more work for her to do...

  • women need to start or get caught harassing men. There are no reports of this at the present time - all harassers are men. This is not inclusive or diverse. Something needs to be done.
  • take a good look at professional hockey. See any Asians? Women? Jews? Get on the ice and get some diversity happening!
  • Basketball and football have a black male majority. Is this tolerable in 2017? What about transgenders? Women who identify as Caterpillar backhoes? When was the last time you saw a vertically-challenged person (midget) on the court?
  • My body is genetically male. I identify as male. This is not diverse at all. What can we do about this situation? Do I qualify as diverse when I have sex because I'm connected to a woman (customarily my wife)?
  • NASCAR: men. Old and young white men. With silly hats outside the oval. Why not throw a few women in there, who have never operated a manual transmission? Some math geeks, who have never gone over 25mph? A few anarchists, who don't believe in seat belts or helmets?
  • WHERE ARE THE FAT PEOPLE in olympic gymnastics? Sorry - people of size.
  • when was the last time you saw a baseball game with a left-handed catcher? Or a donkey?
  • Why are there no clowns in Congress?  Wait - let me rephrase that. Why are there no people with big red noses and thick makeup.. no, that won't work either. People with caked on white makeup, floppy shoes, and noses that light up. I give up. You get the idea.

In case you're amused or you just want some less than pleasant news, there's an android bug that can potentially affect up to 75% of phones, excluding the latest version of android (Oreo). The long and short of it is you need to be looking for a popup, asking permission for the MediaProjection service to access something. Unfortunately, a potential attacker can detect when this comes up and put another popup on top of it (tap-jacking). The immediate solution, as most of solutions go, is to Just Say No. This service is typically used in taking screenshots. IF you can locate the service, you can turn it off and/or disable it. Be aware with all popups.

  • Linux users: here's a quickie on using the mlocate or locate commands, from the command line. Not to worry, there's a 'find' program in the graphical interface, so you don't have to use the command line. Wuss.

Germany has banned the sale, distribution, and possession of kids' smartwatches. Dropping my libertarian objection to government getting involved in business, this is a very interesting phenomena. Germany's problem with these is that they are spy devices, as I said when I discovered them. This is a case of government actually doing something helpful. In the US, we're more concerned about forcing a bakery to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

  • Duckduckgo, the search engine that doesn't track you, has some stats and suggestions on privacy. I use it and highly recommend it. You can set it as the default search engine on most browsers.

Best phrase of the week: I looked down and there was a baby in my sweatpants.

  • While people are busy dying, we must unfortunately add another name: David Cassidy, late of The Partridge Family. I don't think anyone makes it out alive, pardon the pun, from childhood stardom.
  • David's cause of death was listed as complications from dementia. Two days ago, he went into the hospital with what was described as needing an organ transplant, other organs failing, and doctors induced a coma. Once again we have two completely different diagnoses. This happens a lot.

If you're gonna sext, which I don't recommend, here are Motherboard's basic steps to protect yourself. Good reading, regardless of information sent. I don't recommend sexting not for moral reasons - I just don't send anything out that could cause grief if read by anyone else. Email can't be unsent, texts are kept, and pictures are saved. Do not send or text anything you don't want people to know or see. This is also the reason not to store data 'in the cloud.' Look at the celebrities whose accounts got hacked and their very private pictures got posted all over the internet.

  • There are certainly any number of reasons to hate Google. The most recent one is that since January, android phones have been sending your location information to Google. Google, of course, says they're not using the data and just throwing it away. This happened whether your location setting is on or off.  Naturally Google is horrified and has no idea how this happened. The practice will end by the end of November. Do. Not. Use. Google. For. Anything.

Net Neutrality is all we're hearing about, as the vote looms. The FCC, like useless corporate puppets they are, are about to drop network neutrality, which will potentially allow cable and other companies to give certain traffic or users priority or low priority. While most would encourage Net Neutrality, this is a red herring. The real issue is whether government should be involved in the internet. The answer, as it is with everything else, is no.

  • Texas Rangers have sent Apple a search warrant to get data from the Texas church shooter's phone. The last time data was requested, Apple refused and the FBI paid a hacker to retrieve the information. I hope that Apple will refuse again.

A trombonist was practicing and somehow managed to send his wife a text message, via voice recognition on his phone. Google and Apple keep your voice commands - this is fact. Now they'll have recordings of you practicing your instrument. No data is available on which instruments are able to send text messages, but we recommend you do not play with your instrument with voice recognition on. The message looked like this:

(1/5) Woo woo woo woo hoo hoo woo who wu woo woop woop etc etc etc.

  • Uber announced this week that they suffered a breach of 57 million user accounts in 2016. Why did it take over a uear to report? Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the hack a secret and delete the data. Stolen was names, email addresses and phone numbers of 57 million Uber customers and names and driver's license numbers of about 600,000 US drivers.
  • The CSO and an employee were fired. The founder and former CEO was made aware of the breach a month after it happened. Two months later. the new CEO may or may not have had knowledge of the breach, which happened before she took the position.
  • The data was hacked from Amazon Web Services (THE CLOUD).
  • Last year Uber was fined $20,000 by the New York attorney general for failing to report a different breach in 2014. (wow - 20k! I'll bet they felt punished)
  • Uber recently agreed to twenty years of privacy audits by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to provide reasonable security for consumer data.
Uber Related Continuing Rant:
Why have I been poking at THE CLOUD forever? Because once you can no longer touch your data, it is no longer your data.

Why don't I give out my data? Because companies will misuse it for marketing, sharing, selling, and it might get stolen.

Why might it get stolen? Because companies don't know and/or don't care about protecting the data, whether it's them or a third party. Something will be configured wrong or passwords will be leaked and the data will get stolen.

Why turn your phone's location service off? Do you seriously want anyone to know where you've been or where you are? It's not that you're important or unimportant; it's the fact that your data is yours and should remain so. Your location data, also kept by Uber, can be used to figure out what you were up to, which is nobody's business but yours

Rest assured that if someone can get your data, they will, and it will be used for their purposes, whether you know or approve or not.

ThermionicEmissions is beyond excited to announce our early Christmas present: Marshall's final chemo treatment was canceled, because he's doing so well. It's just blood work now.

The vet is pleasantly surprised and we're thrilled.
We get our baby for longer, and the doc's Mercedes is now paid off.

Look at that face...

From the bottom of my heart, thank YOU for stopping by.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Great Trash Conundrum

I don't know what it is about trash, but I hate it.
Not the idea of trash... taking it out and putting it at the curb.
Come to think of it, I have always hated trash, just not as much as mowing. Now that we have hired a child (damn near) entrepreneur to do the mowing, I can concentrate my hatred more efficiently and totally on trash. This simplifies the entire operation.

It starts a few days before actual trash day. I see the trash in the house and can start to hear it mocking me. It is not pleasant. It starts to grow over the top of the can. A day later it is actively mocking me. I do my best to ignore it because it's still not trash day and to actively see the trash would mean I had to carry it outside and I'm having no part of that. This Active Ignore process is usually ruined by The Commandant, who gently 'reminds' me to take the inside trash outside. This just creates another problem, in that I have to put the wife on Active Ignore. Some people spend most of their marriage with the wife on Active Ignore, justifiably or not.

Due to the expanded load of items on Active Ignore, it becomes too much to bear and I can again hear the trash mocking me, this time even louder, with derisive laughter (Bruce). If I'm very lucky, this process has eaten up enough time that it's the night before trash and I can put everything out anyway.

My city has weird trash laws. No, really... apparently they've got nothing better to do that legislate what time you can put out your trash (the afternoon before) and when the cans have to be off the curb (next morning, latest). Worse than the regulations are the people who follow them to the letter. This would consist of exactly one person, and I use the term 'person' lightly. It's the Crazy Lady, who uses her age (438 this year) to get people to do stuff for her. Some dude pops by at precisely the first moment you can put the bins at the curb and does so. He's obviously a nice guy to do this every week, but it also could be that if he doesn't, she'd talk to him. She has snakes coming out of her head, and most of her body parts have been replaced three or four times, so I wouldn't be in the vicinity either if she spoke. The entire neighborhood is composed of really nice people who do stuff for her. One guy was replacing the roof of her patio. I pleasantly suggested he place an anvil in the roof, ala Wile E. Coyote, and rig it to the door, so when she opens it, BOOM. He looked at me like I was nuts. This is a look that no longer bothers me, as I see it all the time. In fact, I have come to expect and cherish it. They don't know this monster, who has a red phone that goes directly to the city inspectors for when she thinks something is out of spec with my house. This is the lady who reported standing water in my back yard. Standing water was Marshall's pool. It is a rather large, purple-ish thing that leaves no doubt as to its function. I'm sure they had kiddie pools wherever she came from - even the depths of hell, where she might have ruled for a period of time.

Where was I? Oh yeah, trash.
So it's nine or ten pm, the night before trash day. All of the sudden, I remember that trash has to go out. While I still have the same complete lack of enthusiasm for the task, I have no choice. But wait!!! The cans are so incredibly LOUD that I don't want to disturb the entire block. But then again, it would disturb the Crazy Lady. No it won't, she's bloody deaf. Or at least she says she is. Having no choice, I get the trash out. This actually happens without too much grief and aggravation, except for noise. I keep telling myself that wasn't so bad, but by the following week, I'm back to Active Ignore and the process starts anew. 

You think I'm done, don't you?
There's the small matter of paper/cardboard recycling. We haven't quite gotten the hang of this yet. Obviously we know paper and cardboard when we see it.. it's just the process. Wife puts the collection basket in a different spot than the trash. And we always generate a lot of paper, overwhelming the poor basket. So every time I go to take this stuff to its can, it all leaps out of the basket, all over me, then into the can, except for the seventeen small bits of paper that lands on the ground. This is only a small issue, as it's completely dark and I can't see the ground. At this point, I receive help from an unlikely source: another neighbor. This fellow is a paranoid schizophrenic and has motion detecting lights, to detect when someone is vandalizing his car. He's a very nice guy and there were people vandalizing his car - the embodiment of "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." His light guides the way to the bits of paper on the ground.  Every week, when this nonsense is done, I swear to the wife that we need a better system for this. And every week she agrees. And every week (for over ten years), I take the same basket out, with the same result.

And this is why we had to hire someone to mow; because if trash seems like an endless house of horrors, it's nothing compared to mowing.

Just don't get me started on cleaning the house.

  • Another of the World's Smallest Books: Hot Policewomen on COPS

This week's Marshall news:  This was a between week, so it was blood work. He's been turning his head quickly, beating himself to death with his own flaps. This is indicative of ear problems. At the oncologist, we asked if they could look at his ears. The nurse said.. "uhhh..... no. That's a doctor visit - you'll have to call your vet."


So Marshall stopped to visit the vet, with steaming parents. The vet takes a look, plays with her Vet Chemistry Set, and delivers the happy news: Marshall has not one, but three separate ear infections. He has single-pawedly generated three separate bills in one day. Not only is he incredibly smart, he's incredibly talented too.  Now, if he could only use these talents to make some money...

  • I  have seen some weird stuff on tv, but the winner of the name contest has to be Peaky Blinders. I don't even want to watch it with that stupid a title. I did make the mistake of watching it with the wife, which was, as I said, a mistake. Good old fashioned (very old) fistfights with Irish accents. No thanks; I can see that at work every day.
  • Speaking of television, this weeks award for Best Spoken Phrase goes to one of those pregnant teen shows for the line, "Nobody told me it was so easy to get pregnant." This was closely followed by one of the mothers of the teens, who said, "Quite honestly, I wasn't surprised."

Have you ever met a person named Ignatius?
Neither have I.

  • Please look carefully at your email. Phishing is out of control this holiday season. A great rule of thumb, used by me personally, is NO. Just don't. Don't open it, don't read it, and don't click on it. Since I'm one of four people on the planet who do this, I'll make a few recommendations for the rest of you:
  • if some huge retail outlet sends you an email offering free this or sale that, hover your mouse over the link to see if it really goes to where it says. Better yet, go directly to their website - do not click on the link. Anything they're trying to sell you will be on their page.
  • if an email asks you for money or personal/credit card details, DON'T. Period. Whether it's a Nigerian prince or Sears, don't.
  • be suspicious of bad spelling or wording. No legitimate concern is going to send you anything with bad grammar or spelling.
  • if there is a file attachment, don't open it.
  • if the email is from a friend and looks weird or has an unknown attachment, get in touch with them to make sure they sent it, instead of being spoofed or hacked.
  • if the email is from anyone under 25, delete it. People under 25 don't recognize the validity of email, instead preferring Faceyspaces. They'll send you their dopey pictures and pithy ramblings online.

Don't forget: there are only 400 days til next Christmas. Shop early.

  • Researchers have discovered an unprotected database containing 1.8 billion posts collected by a Department of Defense contractor, who didn't secure the Amazon Cloud Storage correctly. This is why we do not ask the government to protect us. In fact, we need protection from the government.

There's a new method to lock your phone that uses your face. No, it's not the new one... it works like this: the phone takes one look at my face and locks itself out of fear and sheer terror. Unfortunately it also locks if you have ugly friends or relatives, or a particularly unsightly child.

  • Here's a chilling headline: "Senators introduce USA Liberty Act." No good can come from this. The trick to deciphering any legislation is to read it. If you can't or won't, look at the title. The bill's effect will be the opposite of the title, hence Liberty Act is designed to take away your liberty, just like the Patriot Act. 

This week we said goodbye to that nice Charlie Manson. Unfortunately I haven't had time to put together a musical tribute, but he did present songs to the Beach Boys and others, plus he believed the Beatles were speaking to him (Helter Skelter).

The man was raised by wolves. Actually that's not fair to wolves. His (single) mom was a prostitute and not really present or a good parent. He was in California and happened to be close to a known CIA mind control facility. Considering his hypnotic influence on followers and famous people, along with the unbelievable horror of his crimes, you might consider that there could be more than a coincidence in his location. I do not know if any mental health worker ever spoke to him during his incarceration, as they did Sirhan "please call me Sirhan" Sirhan.

Who'd have thought that permanently scrawling a swastika in your forehead would get you denied parole every time?

  • Speaking of goodbye, we bid a fine farewell to Malcolm Young, founder of AC/DC. Malcolm left the band recently because he was diagnosed with dementia and could no longer play. He was 67. For my money, he was the best rhythm guitar player in the business. The band is still touring. I believe his brother, Angus, of the schoolboy uniform, is the only original member.

would you eat a burger from this mascot?