Friday, October 14, 2016

Hilton Honor Telemarketer Calls

A lady claiming to be named Genesis Eden from Hilton Honors called recently trying to sell me on some trip to Hawaii. I told her that I wouldn't need such a trip because I already live in Hawaii. She switched gears pretty quick and tried to sell me on a trip somewhere in the "conjoined" (I'm sure she meant "contiguous") states. When she hit upon selling me on a trip to Vegas, I went into a few verses of "That Word Broadminded" and tried to sell her on accepting Jesus as her personal savior. This really seemed to piss her off for she chose to remind me that her name was "Genesis Eden" as if that made her some sort of spiritual badass. When I suggested that she might have been so-named because she was a Phil Collins fan, she finally hung up on me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ass Cream Cake

So, would ass cream be a type of fondant made from the gluetal region or would be some sort of emulsified butt by-product used as a filling? Either way, I've lost my appetite.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Prudential Multilevel Marketer Calls Me

Even though he hasn't updated his resume in three months, it seems that Clovis is still in demand. Recruiters who push multi-level marketing schemes keep e-mailing him to see if he's interested in joining their team. Most of them don't bother reading his resume. If they did, they'd realize that the first paragraph has a disclaimer stating that anyone who contacts Clovis agrees to pay a $20 contact fee. Some poor sap pushing Prudential products got caught unaware when I asked him whether or not he had actually read the resume. Upon reading the first paragraph aloud, he hung up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Popular Drinks At Sandals Royal Caribbean

I've drank more alcohol this week than I have in the past six months. Much of that has been in the form of Red Stripe beer, but more and more, I find myself indulging in mixed drinks while the wife and I lounge on the beach and stare out at the ocean. There are a lot of different drinks that the bartenders can make for you at Sandals Royal Caribbean. I'll list the more popular ones down below:

  • Jamaican Smile
  • Dirty Banana
  • Sky Juice
  • Bomb Pop
  • Buffalo Soldier 
  • Rum Punch
  • Ziggy Marly
  • Spicy Red Eye

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Luminous Lagoon

We can't just sit on the beach all day, can we? Well, with our butler bringing us drinks and snacks and doing everything for us short of wiping our asses, we most definitely CAN sit on the beach all day. That's why we book a night time excursion to swim in the glistening waters of the famous Luminous Lagoon. Montego Bay's luminous lagoon is a shallow lagoon of brackish water that is a habitat to a unique species of dinoflagellate. These phytoplankton emit a bioluminescencent blue-green glow when disturbed by people swimming or by boat engines cutting through the water.

We booked our excursion through the Sandals desk so all we had to do was wait outside at the appointed time and a car came around to pick us up. We traveled for about 20 minutes before reaching a somewhat seedy hotel/bar where we were invited to have a complimentary drink. We declined. I started to wonder about the possibility of waking up in a bathtub with a kidney missing. We waited for everyone else to arrive while a small dance troupe danced on stage. After about another 20 minutes of waiting, we all crowded into a boat and set off into the middle of the lagoon. Along the way, the driver explained to us how the bioluminesence worked. We were able to see the blue-green glow being emitted behind the outboard motor.

Photoshop Enhanced Picture I took In the Lagoon
We were soon encouraged to jump into the water to experience the glow of the luminous lagoon for ourselves. Sounds cool, right? Well, I'm thinking that the phytoplankton weren't feeling to luminous tonight because we could see nary a glow when we jumped into the water. It made me wonder for a moment if perhaps the boat's motor had some sort of tank containing glowing paint. The temperature of the water was pretty cold which may have had something to do with the general lack of glowing activity.  Everyone was pretty disappointed at the coldness of the water, the muddiness of the bottom of the lagoon and the overall lack of activity. And, at $60 a person, I can't blame them. Then there's the camera guy. He's happy to take pictures of you splashing about in the lagoon and then sell you the photos for $25. The best he could do for us was to have us sit near the motor while it was running while he took a series of pics. Not much came of him shooting pictures of people while they were in the water.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Club Mobay

We landed at Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica this afternoon. Before flying out, I booked a VIP arrival service for us called Club Mobay. Upon leaving the plane, we were greeting by a Club Mobay representative holding a placard with our names on it (My exclamation of "Woah! That lady has the same names as us!" was not appreciated). The Club Mobay representative led us through terminal, took us to baggage claim, fast tracked us through customs and immigration (while everyone else waited in line) and then brought us to the lounge to relax and have a few drinks while we waited for the Sandals transport to take us to the resort. Even though the lines in customs didn't appear to be too terribly long, we were very happy to have someone take us through the entire process just so we knew exactly what would be expected of us. So, for arrival service, I would definitely say that Club Mobay was worth the price.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Off To Jamaica

The wife and I are off to Jamaica for a week long honeymoon vacation. We're staying at the Sandals Royal Caribbean resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. And for the last week, I haven't been able to get that God-awful Beach Boy's song "Kokomo" out of my head ("Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go..."). Sandals resorts are all-inclusive which means that your food and drinks (even alcohol) are already included in the price. We also went a step further and got a room that includes butler service. The butler will make dinner reservations, reserve beach chairs, bring meals/drinks and make reservations for excursions. I'm told that they even offer to unpack for you but I don't know that we'll be asking our butler to do that. No need to let them root through our unmentionables. Anyway, we're looking forward to Sun, surf and relaxation in Montego Bay. Montego Bay itself is a very interesting city. Not only is it the top tourist destination in Jamaica, but it also boasts a thriving Business Process Outsourcing sector. Montego Bay is home to many call centers serving such Fortune 500 companies as Delta, Amazon and Netflix. Vistaprint also has its one and only call center located in Montego Bay. And, why not? Montego Bay is a modern city, home to fine dining and shopping opportunities (so says the Jamaica tourist board) and is currently updating its infrastructure to keep it so.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Trip To The Illinois State Fair

It's nice to see that, in spite of the ongoing budget stalemate going on in Illinois, we're still able to find enough funding to run the Illinois State Fair. Historically, the first state fairs were essentially agricultural trade shows organized by farmers in order to compare notes with each other and distinguish between good and bad advice. In the advent of World War II, as America's workforce transitioned to a post-Agrarian model, state fairs became more entertainment oriented.

Is This The Pinnacle Of Culinary Achievement?
This year marked my first ever visit to the Illinois State Fair. First off, I have to say that the price was right because our kids got in free due to their ages and my wife and I were handed free tickets by a random stranger who happened to have two extras with her. Still, even with the cost of admission, the Illinois State Fair offers a lot of bang for the buck. Mostly, I was there for the food. I will say that I was hoping for something more akin to Taste of Chicago where various restaurants come out, rent a booth, and offer some of their more flashy fare. It's a bit disappointing that the Illinois State Fair seems to attract mainly carnival food vendors. Still, an attendee with a more discerning palate can, with a little patience, sniff out some of the more exotic foods hiding among the rabble. I enjoyed a very passable pirogi in the ethnic center. I did also slum it and get a fried Twinkie which I found to be decidedly mediocre (too much corn dog batter).

Thanks to the many exhibits that the Illinois State Fair hosted on agriculture, wildlife, politics and citizenship, I learned quite about about the goings on in our state. Most importantly, I learned the difference between a corn dog and a pronto pup. Once upon a time, I thought that a pronto pup was just a cute name for a corn dog. But the Illinois State Fair opened my eyes. Turns out that a corn dog is a hot dog fried in cornbread batter while pronto pups are fried in pancake batter. Although both options were available at the Illinois State Fair, I didn't have either of them. I was, however, on the lookout for a corn brat or a cheesy corn dog, but, alas, neither seemed to be available. My kids were content with the many varieties of ice cream available, especially Dippin' Dots. And, of course, there were many different varieties of  popcorn from kettle corn to multiflavored and colored. And, one of the big highlights for me was encountering the tent. There I could sample various different types of meat in convenient jerky form. They had everything from alligator to kangaroo. No zebu, though. Damn.

They Really Like To Jerk Their Meat!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lower Interest Rate Credit Card Scam

I get calls like this all the time. A recorded message comes on and tells you that, due to your good credit history (or thanks to government bailout policy) you qualify for a lower interest rate on your credit card. You're asked to select "1" to speak with an agent. And when you do, some heavily accented agent feeds you a bunch of crap and asks for your credit card info. Once they have it, they'll be off making fraudulent charges in your name. Here's how I dealt with a recent call that came from (301) 912-3320 (obviously a spoofed number).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Long Wait Time At KFC

The first level of Hell is a fast food restaurant where you order your favorite meal but have to wait an eternity for it to arrive. Jason and I visited that Hell this afternoon at our local KFC/A&W restaurant. I was on my lunch break and was craving some chicken pretty badly. I ordered the $5 three-chicken tender meal from the KFC menu while Jason ordered a bacon cheeseburger from the A&W menu. Jason's cheeseburger came up rather quickly but he hung out with me by the pick-up counter. After about five minutes of waiting, we sat down. Fifteen minutes into it, I noticed that a lot of people were waiting around for their orders. At about 20 minutes, a few ordered started to trickle out, but they were for people who had ordered after me. Once we hit thirty minutes, I yelled "What are you guys doing back there, killing the chicken?" which got quite a few laughs from the frustrated crowd, but elicited no reaction from the KFC employees.

It was starting to get comedically tragic. Jason had long since finished his burger and I began to wonder aloud whether we were all part of some weird social experiment. The crowd had had enough and started to approach the counter for refunds. Refunds appeared to be taking about 5 minutes to process, as the cashier had to make a phone call each time a refund was requested. When my turn came, I approached the counter and asked to speak with a manager. I was told that the manager was not there. The cashier ask me what I had ordered. "A kids meal. That's how long I've been waiting" was my reply. Even though I said it in a joking manner, it probably wasn't the smartest thing for me to say. I soon noticed that my refund was taking longer than I had expected.

In the end, I just cut my losses and left. There's really no point in me raising public a fuss over $5. I could just as easily call the regional manager or send an e-mail to corporate, but to what end? Maybe I'd get some coupons for free KFC. But, if I got some free KFC, then I'd have to actually eat KFC again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Insurance Sales Recruiter Calls Me

Clovis got another e-mail from one of those insurance sales recruiters. The first line said "I recently came across your resume and was impressed by your credentials". I knew right off that it was a form letter and that he hadn't read my resume. Clovis called the rep out on this and the rep admitted that he hadn't read the resume, he was just working off of notes provided by his manager. The rep then tried to end the call and Clovis brought him back on message by asking what method of payment he could expect. The position, of course, is commission based. Clovis then bragged about how he had blown the rep's mind with his credentials. The rep accused Clovis of having a bad attitude. Clovis turned it back on the rep and tried to say that the rep was jealous of Clovis' superior sales skills. The rep eventually ended the call because of Clovis' salty language.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Aw, Shucks

It seems like my house has become a drop-off point for various types of vegetables. Ordinarily, I like getting such freebies from various neighbors and acquaintances, but it seems like this year has seen a bumper crop in home grown vegetables. This past weekend, we were invited to pick some corn from a friend's farm and were told we could help ourselves to three rows of the stuff. That's a lot of sweet corn. The entire family pitched in to shuck the stuff, yet, late last night, I found myself still shucking the stuff. As I threw the husks into a giant pile, I thought that I might take a picture and post it to Facebook with the caption "Aw, shucks!". This made me wonder about the origin of the expression.

Let's break this down. What is a shuck? It's a word used to describe the husk, pod or shell that protects certain foods. Essentially, a shuck is the worthless container that is wrapped around something of value. Origin of the actual word "shuck" is not generally known, but it first started to appear in literature in the 17th Century. Personally, I think it derives from the Middle-English word "schucke" meaning "adversary" or "devil". If you think about it, a shuck usually takes a fair amount of effort to pull off whatever foodstuff it's wrapped around. A shuck is, in effect, the adversary you must defeat in order to get at the food you want.

In the 19th Century, "shucks" began to appear as part of an idiomatic phrase indicating worthlessness.  (ie "it's not worth shucks"). Shucks are, after all, pretty much worthless, aren't they? It then evolved into a standalone expression that would seem interchangeable with the word "shit". Mark Twain uses it quite a bit in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, By the late 1930s, "Aw shucks" became a common response to a compliment and indicated modesty and/or shyness. One essentially is saying "Oh, it was nothing", as shucks aren't worth anything.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I Won A Prize In The Samuel Adams Quench Your Own Thirst Sweepstakes

The doorbell rang late this afternoon. Was it the neighborhood kids playing ding-dong-ditch? Would I find a flaming bag of poop awaiting at my doorstep in celebration of my upcoming birthday? No! The UPS guy had left a package. My wife studied it and asked "What did you buy from the Boston Beer Company THIS time?". I couldn't remember a recent purchase....but that didn't necessarily mean anything. I wondered if my wife had bought some Samuel Adams beer-related merchandise for my birthday and was just having some fun with it.

I opened the package. It contained a letter. "Dear Thomas...Cheers to you for winning our Quench Your Own Thirst sweepstakes! Enclosed is your prize". What??? Months ago, I had entered the sweepstakes when I pre-ordered Jim Koch (founder and CEO of Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beer) book Quench Your Own Thirst. I had all but forgotten about it. And now? A major award! Maybe it was a statue! Yet I could not find the words "Fragile" anywhere on the package. Okay, so it wasn't a statue or a leg lamp or a bottle of Utopias or trip for two to Boston to tour the Samuel Adams Brewery. It was two Samuel Adams pint glasses. Awesome! A prize I'll actually use! Beats that meat thermometer I won from Copenhagen tobacco.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Some SEO Scammer Calls Me

I got an e-mail last week from a guy named Ray Josh wanting to sell SEO services for my website. His contact card picture looked like something pulled from a stock image website and his name sounded made up. So, I told him that I don't speak English well and that he'd be better off calling and talking to Clovis.

He eventually called and encountered the standard carpeting company greeting. Ray asked for Clovis and was passed on to him. Ray immediately went into his pitch, but it was tough to understand due to his thick Indian accent. Clovis got Ray to condense his pitch and was told that he wanted around $200 for his SEO services. Clovis tried to talk him down to $10 and then moved up to "$15 and a song". When Ray got called out on using a fake name, he took major offence and eventually tried to say that "I told Tommy I was based in India". Which isn't true. So Clovis went to get TommyMac to put him on the phone. I then switched to yet another voice and spoke to "Ray" as if I did not quite understand English. "Ray" eventually became frustrated when I kept repeating "Mama say, mama sa, ma mak ku sa" and hung up.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why I Can't Vote For Hillary Clinton (for now)

I like to think that I'm fairly moderate as politics go. I'm generally socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I've been paying close attention to this year's Presidential primaries. I quite enjoyed the train wreck that was the Republican Convention. The Republicans just had the party overthrown by a populist who opposes all of their economic and foreign policies. From Maleina Trump's blatant plagiarism to Laura Ingraham's nazi salute, the entire debacle was so embarrassingly hilarious. And even it it wasn't so damned funny to watch, I still wouldn't be voting for Donald Trump. I won't go as far to compare the guy to Hitler, but, I do think he's the single worst candidate for President in modern history (not that he hasn't had a lot of competition over the last 20 years).

And, as for Hillary Clinton, as much as I think that we need to move much more towards the left in this country, I was having a hard time justifying my voting for her. It's not just that she lies. Every politician lies. It seems to me, though, that her first instinct is to lie, even if the truth would be the better option. And it's not just that she waffles more than an Eggo factory. It's that she waffles and denies having changed her position. Still, if the United States is to successfully move towards a progressive agenda, we'll need more liberal justices on the Supreme Court and the next President will probably be able to nominate at least two of them. So, with that in mind, I was ready to suck it up and cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Problem is, after the Democratic National Convention, I realized that I can't, in good conscience,vote for Hillary.

The timing of the Democratic National Convention couldn't have been worse. It came right after several DNC emails regarding Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her shameless bias for the nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton. And that wouldn't have been so bad had Debbie Wasserman-Schultz admitted everything and quietly stepped down. After all, no crime had occurred, no obvious rigging had occurred and there was no obvious fraud. Instead, the Hillary Clinton campaign hired her away. Why? Because she knows where the bodies are buried and the Clinton campaign wants to keep Wasserman-Schultz from talking.

In light of everything, I think it's natural that Bernie Sanders supporters are pissed off and want some answers and want some heads to roll. And, again, instead of acknowledging the problems within the process, the DNC trotted out a bunch of celebrities to tell everyone to focus forward and unite behind Hillary Clinton.

Sarah Silverman To Bernie Or Bust: You're Being Ridiculous

First off, I find it hilarious that a person who is known for telling jokes about pooping and yeast infections has the gall to tell anyone that they're being ridiculous. Further, the comment marginalizes peoples' right to be heard and attempts to waive away all of the real concerns that have recently cropped up about party corruption and unfair practices. Maybe those concerns didn't affect the outcome. But they're there and they needed to be addressed. It's a convention. Delegates have traveled across the country to participate in a political process, and political debate is part of that process. Dismissing them as ridiculous, especially in light of recent events, does the entire process a disservice. If you want the support of those who supported Bernie Sanders, don't paint them as sore losers. Make an actual attempt to win them over.

Moby Doubles Down For Sarah Silverman

And then there's Moby. Moby has been on a unity tear for a few days now, posting things on his Facebook page like:

Dear DNC protesters, when you Boo Bernie Sanders, when you call Hillary Clinton a "bitch", when you say you'd rather see Trump as president than Hillary, you simply lose all credibility and alienate the majority of progressives who want to be on your side. You need to tone down the vitriol and hyperbole, for when you scream irrational hate you end up sounding exactly like Trump supporters.

The problem with liberal elites like Sarah Silverman and Moby is that they vote liberal for a completely different host of reasons than the so-called "common folk". Silverman and Moby see themselves as humanitarians voting in favor of lofty goals that will result in the advancement of social goals in the United States. They're not worried about slipping further down an ever increasing economic decline. It's such a disparity that it's akin to a First Class passenger on the Titanic sitting comfortably in a life boat while lecturing the entire steerage class to calm down as the ship start to tilt into the sea.

Wil Wheaton Says A Few Things

Nobody cared. Shut up, Wesley!

The Ghost Of Harriet Christian Is Dancing In Her Grave

All of the cries for party unity by various Hillary Supporters is more than a tad hypocritical when one considers how several of them reacted to Harriet Christian and her rant against the Rules Committee. The woman said some things that would make my racist grandmother look like Rosa Parks and yet, supporters of Hillary Clinton hailed her as "sassy" and "empowered" and "uncompromising".

The Lesser Of Two Evils

People would have you believe that, if you're liberal, then Hillary is the lesser evil between Trump and herself. I personally think that they're equal evils. I find both of them to be political opportunists and I find both of them to be morally corrupt individuals and I find both of them to be habitual liars. They're essentially two sides of the same coin. At this point, I'm not okay with either of them being President. People would tell you that if you don't vote for Hillary, then, if Trump gets elected, it's on you for throwing away your vote. Thing is, if Hillary doesn't get elected, then it's HER fault, not anyone else's She needs to earn your vote on her own merit, not on Trump's lack of merit. I won't be forced to Mussolini simply because he's not Hitler.

There's still time until the general election. There's still time to change my mind and win my vote. That's what Hillary Clinton and everyone who wants to influence me needs to do. My vote, and everyone else's vote, needs to be earned.