Friday, December 9, 2016

Why Is Braith In My Home After I Adopted Lucia

No matter how immersed I may get in a Bethesda game, I don't generally get a case of "the feels" when I'm guilt tripped by NPCs within the game. In Skyrim, I'm not moved by Delvin's scolding me after I quit a Thieves Guild job. I don't really care about what led Aventus Aretino to perform the Black Sacrament (I care even less about whether he's a Nord or an Imperial). Yet, for some reason, young Lucia's story about losing her mother and being kicked off the farm by her aunt and uncle got to me. So, I adopted her and sent her off to my home in Lakeview Manor to be taken care of by my Housecarl.

When I arrived home after adopting her, I noticed that Whiterun's brattiest bratface, Braith was also in my house for some reason. Had I accidentally adopted her too (all these Skyrim kids look alike to me)? Horrible! She's the only character more annoying than Nazeem! Anyway, after bitching a bit, she left the house. I don't know what glitch ended up entangling her with Lucia briefly, but I certainly hope that Lucia doesn't invite her over to play anymore.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fake Warranty Scammers Call Me

This is a pretty typical scam, and I think I've posted about it before. Someone calls you claiming that your car's warranty is about to expire and they offer to hook you back up for a nominal fee. Of course, they don't offer any real coverage and if you end up actually needing a repair, you'll find out that you've got no actual coverage. So, when these jokers called Clovis, he decided to have a little fun.


  • When the first rep heard Clovis' accent, he somewhat aped it himself. 
  • Clovis bragged about the amount of side-action he got in the back seat of the car
  • Clovis also wondered what the rep meant by Board Underwriter. Clovis wondered how someone writes under a board and/or why the underwriter was so bored. 
  • The second rep had a little less patience. When Clovis said that the only leaking fluid issues he had was in his bed after a night of heavy drinking, the rep laughed, but it seemed forced. 
  • The rep put Clovis on hold the second he said that he doesn't need his engine covered because his car has no engine. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Even The Giants Of Skyrim Can't Stop Pop-Up Ads

We all know that advertising has had to constantly evolve in order to stay ahead of various methods of viral advertising. It has gotten to the point where it is often hard to tell the difference between real content and an ad. Skyrim is apparently no different. While exiting my home in Lakeview, I noticed a courier approaching. No doubt he had a letter for me. Perhaps it was the telegram from Ed McMahon that I had been waiting for. Before he could deliver it, the giant that has been hanging around my property (that's what I get for building out in the boonies) chased him down and beat him to death. While I walked back to my home, another courier appeared and gave me the intended message: An advertisement for the opening of a museum in Dawnstar. Great. Another viral ad.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump Mention Triggers Credit Card Scammer

Clovis is a very ardent, unapologetic Trump supporter. So, it's really no wonder that, when a credit card scammer with a foreign accent called him recently, Clovis felt inclined to mention that Tump's campaign promises related to immigration. The mere mention of Trump sent the caller into a frenzy, shouting insults and making threats. The scammer then hung up the phone in order to retreat to his safe space.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Busier Than A One-Legged Assaultron In An Ass Kicking Contest

I've been playing through the Nuka-World DLC for Fallout 4 and found myself in the World Of Refreshment. As I approached the computer in the Nuka-Cola bottling plant, I got flanked by three Assaultrons. I was able to cripple one by shooting one of its legs off. It fell to the floor, so I hacked it, de-activated it and fell back to deal with the other two. Once that was done, I went outside, explored a bit, came back in and then got ambushed by Nukalurks. I thought it would be a good idea to lure the Nukalurks to the disabled Assaultron and have it self-destruct. But, when I got there, the Assaultron was standing up leaning against the wall rather than laying on the floor. I activated it and incited it to attack, and it acted as if its leg were still attached even though it clearly wasn't. Check out the video below:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

President Trump

It seems that 2016 just keeps on giving. First the Cubs win the World Series, then Trump defies all polls and expectations and wins the office of President of the United States. Not only that, but the Republicans have secured a majority in both the House and Senate which means the Supreme Court is due to shift conservative. Surely, the giant meteor is only weeks away from bearing down on us.

Over the coming months/years the Democratic National Committee will no doubt be working on its post-mortum in the hopes of identifying the causes for Hillary Clinton's stunning loss. One of the excuses that is already spinning out of the minds of some of the more radical pundits is that people voted against Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. That's right, people are actually claiming that that nation was not yet ready to have a woman in the Oval Office so they voted against Hillary simply because of her gender. This would have been the fate of any woman on the ticket, they claim. Bullshit, I say.

While I concede that there may be a small yet vocal minority who voted against Hillary because of her gender, her being a woman was not a factor for the vast majority of people who voted against her. The fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote is a clear indication that enough people were willing to elect a female President. The problem resides with the candidate herself, not with her gender. During an election cycle where many people feel disaffected and were on the lookout for a political outsider, the Democratic Party threw its own outsider under the bus in favor of the biggest insider they had. A candidate who began her political life by carpetbagging her way to a New York Senate seat. A candidate who consistently lied about trivial matters like being under sniper fire in Bosnia or her daughter jogging through the World Trade Center on 9/11 just so she could seem more "presidential". A candidate who, despite already knowing the potential consequences (see George W. Bush and 22 million missing emails), set up a private email server and conducted political business on it. A candidate who claimed that she would hold Wall Street to the fire, yet refused to release the transcripts of the speeches she was paid to make for them. A candidate who rewarded Debbie Wasserman Schultz, disgraced DNC chair, with a position on the campaign trail. And, yet instead of addressing these issues head-on, Clinton decided to ignore them and focus instead on Trump's personal negatives. The Clinton camp tried to have you believe that voting for Trump was an endorsement of all the terrible things he said which is like saying that Germans who had grievances with the Treaty of Versailles supported the Nazi party. It's possible to support some things about a candidate but not others. And, yet the Trump campaign never tried to equate a vote for Clinton with endorsement of her corruption. Is it any wonder that, when given the choice between a shit-talking celebrity blowhard and a corrupt political insider, a significant amount of people decided to go with the blowhard?

That's not to say that the Trump campaign bungled its way to victory. They didn't. They won because they played to the disaffected white-collar Americans whereas Clinton played to the disaffected minorities. This allowed Trump to pick up the key swing states, especially those in the so-called Rust Belt (It didn't help that Hillary didn't set foot in Wisconsin during the general election and blindly believed that Bernie supporters who delivered the state to him in the primaries would just fall in line) Clinton played identity politics in an environment that was more concerned about class politics.

In the end, exit polls suggest that neither side were very enthusiastic about their candidates. They distrusted both of them, yet somehow managed to hold their noses and cast their votes for what they saw as the least of two evils. People who voted for Trump hated his stance on women and minorities. People who voted for Hillary hated her scandal-plagued political career. The result was a victory for Trump. Hillary lost not because she's a woman, but because's she's Hillary.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Some Thoughts On The Upcoming Election

It occurs to me that one of the disadvantages of Daylight Savings Time is that, when we turned our clocks back, it meant that we'd have to endure an extra hour of this year's election season. This year's Presidential campaign has been particularly nasty, so much so that it makes Grover Cleveland vs John G. Blaine look like a box social. Whatever happened to "Let the best man (person) win"? Whatever happened to "My worthy opponent...."?

While mulling over the Cubs' recent victory at the World Series, I was struck by something. Not once during the whole event did any player put down a player from the other side. There was no trash talk, just talk about strategy, playing hard and trusting in your teammates. Can you imagine what a Presidential campaign would be like if the candidates held themselves to this kind of standard?

Trump: "I'm happy to have gotten this far and I hope that I can bring the party to victory!"

Clinton: "I'm just going to give it my best shot, and, Lord willing, things will work out."

Trump: "I'm going to have to be ready to campaign, because you know she will."

Clinton: "My opponent is a great campaigner, and that means I have to be a better campaigner."

Trump: "I want to thank God. I want to thank the Lord God because It is really not up to me, it's up to him. And I want to thank the devil too because you know, that's why God's there. He's minding the fence making sure that guy never comes back. You know, if it weren't for the devil, God would  probably gone insane, blow his brains out from boredom. Everybody likes to feel useful. Make-a-da world go around."

Clinton: "We gotta take 'em one state at a time."

Sure, it's not high on drama. And there isn't really any insight in what they'd be saying. But, given the highly toxic nature of the last few election cycles, I think most of us would be happy if we could go through one that was a little on the boring side.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Agent Skinner Scams 60 People A Day

A guy referring to himself as "Agent Skinner" called yesterday with yet another one of those "lower your interest rate" deals where they try to scam you into giving up your credit card information. I was actually surprised to find that this particular scammer wasn't Indian, rather, he was Jamaican. I've mentioned before that Jamaica is becoming a hotbed of call centers. It was only a matter of time before I pulled one.

Anyway, the guy seemed to get a bit annoyed when, after being asked for the expiration date of my credit card, I told him I'd wait for him to get a pen. When I finally let loose with my usual insult, he was very disappointed, as I was apparently the second person to mess with him that day. I asked him who could fall for this obvious scam, and he told me that he gets about 60 people a day. He hung up when I referred to him as "a piece of human garbage".

Thursday, November 3, 2016

CUBS WIN!

Somewhere, deep within the depths of Hell, Satan is lacing up his ice skates. For the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. This morning, my Facebook News Feed is filled with die-hard and fair-weather Cubs Fans celebrating the victory. Some are even saying that it's a moment that they'll tell their grandchildren about. I can just see how this conversation would go with mine, some 20 years from now:

"Grandpa, where were you when the Cubs won The World Series?"

"I was in bed with Grandma. I'm a White Sox fan!"

Still, 108 years is a long time to wait between pennants. It's pretty humbling to think of all the events that happened in the world in those years:


  • The Ottoman Empire fell
  • Women got the right to vote in the United States
  • The rise and fall of Communism
  • Five states were admitted to the union
  • Haley's Comet passed by. Twice. 
  • Fourteen teams were added to Major League Baseball
  • Wrigley Field was built (The Cubs originally played at West Side Grounds). 
  • Jack Brickhouse was born and died. 
  • Harry Caray was born and died. 
  • Thirty-three elements were identified on the Periodic Table
  • The White Sox won The World Series. Twice. 

Anyway, good on you Cubs for finally getting around to winning the title and for throwing the shackles of "The Curse Of The Goat" off. I'm honestly happy for you and all of your fans. And maybe now I won't have to hear that damn "Go Cubs Go" song for a while. 

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 iJerkyGuy.com 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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Witcher 3: The Lord of Undvik. Cave Glitch

While doing the quest called The Lord of Undvik in The Witcher 3, you'll be directed to follow a trail of blood into a cave on Undvik. Once in the cave, there are several stalactites that you can jump on, one of which, in the Southwest edge of the cave, will lead you to a ledge. That ledge drops down into a bottomless pit. Jumping into the pit will transport you to a location approximately on top of the mountain relative to where you dropped down. I uploaded a video to show where and how this happens:

Monday, July 25, 2016

How To Hack Your Hotel TV So You Can Play Your Own Movies

Hotels are out there to make money off you. Once they have you paying for a room, one of the sweetest plumbs of upsells is the television entertainment. Who doesn't like lounging around in the room watching television? And who wouldn't like to veg out by watching some movies? Hotels are notorious for charging exorbitant amounts of money for customers to rent a movie through their pay per view system. They don't want the customer to be able to play their own movies on the hotel TV because that would undermine one of their most lucrative revenue streams. So, most hotels lock out the extra video inputs via a small device mounted to the back of the TV.

So, you want to play your own movies on a hotel TV but the input selection function is locked out? All you have to do is look at the back of the TV. Do you see a box mounted on it with a phone line coming out of it? Yank out the phone line that is going from the box into the television. This should give you access to change the input on the hotel TV (make sure to put the phone cord back in before you check out. Just in case). From there, you can easily play movies from any device that uses HDMI input. While you may be able to access the USB display input, you may not be able to play movies via the USB interface. Many hotels lock that out via the Firmware. In order to get a USB display interface working on a hotel TV, you would have to look up the television model and then download the latest firmware for it and install it onto the TV.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How To Win The Palio Race in The Witcher 3.

Participating in horse races in The Witcher 3 is a great way to earn coin and get upgrades for your horse. Most of the races are easily won. But the Palio is set up to be incredibly difficult. It seems like it's outright rigged from the start. The AI cheats by seemingly having unlimited stamina and by actually trying to force you off the track, resulting in an instant loss. I endured several losses before settling on a strategy to sprint in the open and cantor across the bridges (thus replenishing Roche's stamina). Even then, I'd get waylaid by a wraith or a cockatrice. Shoving off for Skellige before running the race so that I could buy the zerrikanian saddle made the difference in the end, but I still had to make sure to stick to the track or end up getting instantly disqualified.

Of course, if you're lucky, you might just be able to take advantage of a glitch where you'll have no competition at all in the Palio race. I don't know if it can be replicated on Xbox One or PC, but on PS4 make sure you save your game right before you talk to Cleaver about the letter he sent you. Every so often, the Palio will load and one of the competitor horses won't have a rider. If you keep loading Witcher 3 back to where you ask Cleaver about the letter, you'll eventually get a version where you start the Palio with both competitor horses not having riders. Once you have that, you can just cantor the whole race and finish it at your own pace. Here's a video of me winning the Palio race in The Witcher 3 because of the glitch:


Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Rebuttal To The Rebuttal Of Chris Rock Talking About Owning Their Actions

Another politically explosive yet intellectually dishonest meme is making the rounds on Facebook this week. In involves a rebutle to a statement Chris Rock made in an interview with Frank Rich back in November of 2014. The author of the meme takes Rock to task for saying "[White people must start] Owning their actions". Some group called Uncle Sam's Misguided Children took offence to the statement and tossed off a meme to decry it (in ALL CAPS, no less).

Yeah, we need to stop feeling guilty for shit we didn't do. It was black people who sold other black people into slavery and the first slave owner in America was black. All the ghettos in America are run by Democrats and more white people are shot and killed by cops than are black people. Last time I checked, it was black people looting their own businesses and killing their own people. So tell me again who needs to start taking responsibility for their actions.



Now, whether or not you agree with what Chris Rock said (in-context or out-of-context), there are some serious issues with the statements made in this meme. I'll take it line-by-line.

Yeah... we need to stop feeling guilty for shit we didn't do.
On the surface, it's not a bad sentiment, is it? The sins of the father should not be visited upon the son, right? However admirable that statement may be, we must also be mindful that the past, once it happens, does not become hermetically sealed from the present. Things that happened in the past have repercussions that can be felt well into the future. We, as a society, cannot hope to move forward by choosing to ignore problems simply because we have not personally contributed to them. The old adage, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"(George Stayana) rings true.

It was black people who sold other black people into slavery...
I'm not sure what the point of this statement is. History is replete with examples of various cultures selling their own people into slavery. One need only look as far as The Bible for an example of this. In Genesis 37:27-28 the sons of Jacob sell their own brother Joseph into slavery. More recently, The Proclamation of 1625 by King James I sold 30,000 Irish as slaves to the New World (mostly in the Caribbean). So, regardless of race, creed, or color, people are assholes and prove time and again that they will sell out their own if the price is right.


…and the first slave owner in America was black.
To begin with, this statement simply is not true. The slave trade existed in the New World since the early 1500's when slaves were brought to the Caribbean and Brazil. Even if we're limiting the concept of  "America" to the area encompassing the 13 Colonies, it's still not true that the first slave owner in America was black. The black slave owner that text is referring to is almost certainly Anthony Johnson. Many blogs with a hard-conservative bent like to pull Anthony Johnson's court record from history and use that as evidence that the first slave owner in America was black.

Here's the truth: Anthony Johnson, a black Angolan, arrived in Virginia in 1621 where he went to work on a tobacco plantation either as an indentured servant or a slave. He was eventually freed and, in 1651, Johnson claimed 250 acres of land along the Pungoteague Creek by virtue of five headrights, a colonial system put into place to help bring laborers to the colonies. In exchange for buying the contract for an indentured servant, Virginia Colony would give the purchaser 50 acres per servant. Anthony Johnson had bought the contracts for 5 indentured servants which is how Johnson came to have a servant named John Casor. At one point, John Casor escaped to a nearby farm owned by Robert Parker and claimed that Johnson had kept him longer than his agreed upon indenture. Anthony Johnson sued Robert Parker for Casor's return in 1651. This makes Anthony Johnson the first slave owner file a civil case over slavery in the Americas. So, you could say that the first slave owner to file a court case over slavery in America was black. But, you cannot say that the first slave owner in America was black.

Anthony Johnson was NOT the first slave owner in America. Documents show that slaves were sold to the colonists at Jamestown as early as 1619. And, since Anthony Jonson didn't arrive until 1621, and didn't get freed until much later, the claim that the first slave owner in America was black is erroneous. So, who was the first slave owner in America? Unfortunately, historical records don't indicate exactly who bought slaves, so if we are to go by named recognition, then the ignominious distinction of "First Slave Owner In America" would go to Hugh Gwyn (from a court case in 1640) or possibly Sir George Yeardley, colonial Virginia's Governor at the time when slaves were first brought to Jamestown in 1619.

For the sake of argument, let's just ignore facts and history for a moment (much like Uncle Sam's Misguided Children tend to do). Let's say, for sake of argument, that the first slave owner in America was black. So what? What does that prove? Does that somehow legitimize the institution of slavery? If a black man was the first slave owner in America, does it make it okay for everyone else to have owned slaves?

All ghettos in America are run by Democrats...
In case you weren't previously aware, this whole missive has a political point to make and, with this statement, all pretense of subtlety has gone out the window. In fact, the author is so eager to hit you upside the head with this that he/she fails to form a truly coherent thought on the matter. I am going to assume that the author doesn't mean that each ghetto in the United States has a designated person running it (who happens to be a Democrat in every case). Rather, the author intends to say that the poorest cities in America are governed by mayors from the Democratic party. If we look at the 10 poorest cities with a population over 300,000 according the a US Census Bureau report in 2014, then we would see that 3 of those cities had Republican mayors. This alone would mark the original statement as false. Still, a large majority of those cities are run by Democratic mayors. Are we to assume that the correlation is the causality? If that's the case, then let's have a look at the 10 poorest states according to a 2014 US Census Bureau report. Of those ten states, six Governors were Republican. What conclusion can we draw from that if we again accept that the correlation is the causality? Whatever the point that this original sentence was trying to make, it bears mentioning that our political parties are not split among racial lines. Democrats are not elusively black and Republicans are not exclusively white.

...and more white people are shot and killed by cops than are black people.
This is actually a factual statement. Yet, while it is indeed true that each year more white people are shot and killed by police than black people, it's pure statistical manipulation if you fail to adjust for population size. According to the most recent census data, white Americans make up 62% of the US population and about 49% of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans make up 13% of the US population but account for 24% of those killed by police. This means that an African American is 2.5 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than a Caucasian American.

Last time I checked, it was black people looting their own businesses and killing their own people.
This is another dubious statement. According to an FBI report from 2014, the "black on black" homicide rate was 90% compared to the "white on white" homicide rate which was at 82%. Not much of a difference there. And while I don't have any statistics available about looting, I'm thinking that the author means physical looting of a business, so-called "blue collar" looting. But, what about "white collar" looting, the sort of looting that involves embezzlement, money laundering and securities fraud. Any guesses on which race commits those crimes at a higher rate?

So tell me again who needs to start taking responsibility for their actions?
We all do. Change must come from within. If you want things to change, then change starts with you.
 
Let's recall that the Chris Rock quote that set off this meme was part of a larger conversation and was taken out of context. The relevant quote is as follows: "[White people must start] Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for". Rock was trying to make a comment on the state of race relations in this country and how what we perceive as progress can be skewed by one's perception. Whether or not you believe him, I don't think Chris Rock meant to imply that white people are directly guilty of the things their ancestors did. More specifically, I don't believe Rock meant to imply that white people must take responsibility in the present for the racism of the past. He just wants it acknowledged that it was a factor. That's how I see it, anyway.

Regardless of your perception of the quote, if you're going to debunk it, then you'd best be intellectually honest about the things you say when you do so. The person or group behind Uncle Sam's Misguided Children did do his/their homework and ended up tossing off some half-baked rant that people will as gospel simply because they saw it on Facebook.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Magic House St. Louis

After our somewhat disappointing visit to the St. Louis Science Center, I was a bit apprehensive about visiting the Magic House, which is essentially a children's museum in a mansion. I was wrong. So incredibly, utterly, totally wrong. The Magic House is a crazy, beautiful, wonderful place to take the kids where children and adults alike will have a good time.

The kids were especially fond of the mock construction site and the specialized STEM area. Myself, I was quite fond of the court area and the mockup of the Oval Office. My daughter and I shot a bunch of goofy videos there where she declared martial law and suspended habeas corpus. I had half a mind to re-enact Jimmy Carter's "Crisis Of Confidence" speech or Nixon's resignation speech, but decided against it as I didn't want to monopolize the area.

Ultimately, we were all blown away by the Dark Room. Kids can color their own house, plane, car etc and have it scanned into the system where it is then projected onto the wall as part of a dynamic world. At some point, a Godzilla-type creature appears and stomps the houses and cars. No worries, though, as they pop right back up after the cute monster disappears. I was totally geeked out and the kids loved seeing their creations appear on the screen.

Truth be told, we could have spent the entire day at the Magic House. Unfortunately, we arrived late and were only able to spend a few hours there. But, they were well spent.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

St. Louis Science Center

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was take a trip to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Some thirty-five years ago, my Grandfather would show up to pick me and my siblings up from a half-day at school, load us into his '73 Impala (practically a boat on wheels), hand us a box of donut holes from Dunkin' Donuts. and drive us down to Hyde Park so we could spend the rest of the day at the Museum of Science and Industry. Back then, admission was free, so taking four kids wouldn't break the bank.

In the tradition of  "Chicago's Greatest Freebie", we took the kiddos to the St. Louis Science Center this weekend where admission is free but parking is $15. It's touted as one of the Top 5 Science Centers in the country, but, I feel like the place has seen better days. First off, the bathroom facilities at the St. Louis Science Center were woefully inadequate for the amount of visitors it was handling. I understand that it was a holiday weekend, but that's really no excuse for the tremendously long lines we experienced outside of the Men's room.

Overall, the St. Louis Science Center seems to be feeling its age. There wasn't a lot that my kids, who are all very curious and inquisitive, seemed to enjoy doing. The Planetarium area was a hit and they liked hanging out in the bridge over the highway and looking through the telescopes. I was particularly gleeful at the fact that you could aim radar trackers at cars to see how fast they were going. The must wreak havoc with the commuters who have radar detectors. Despite the high points, I think we could have skipped this one.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Natural Sunburn Remedy

Summer is here and, with it, comes those powerful UV rays that wreak havoc on the skin of poor melanin-deficient folks like myself. Due to my Irish heritage and my tendency to work indoors, my skin reacts to the Sun like a fork in a microwave. I've spent many an agonizing evening laying on the cool tile of the bathroom floor while my siblings sprayed me down with Solarcaine in order to relieve the pain from a horrible sunburn.

I've pretty well learned my lesson. I try not to go out during the Summer without a high SPF sunblock and I make sure to re-apply it often. It helps, but I'm not always vigilant enough to keep from burning. Just about a week ago, while on the boat with the family, I got a pretty nasty sunburn. It was especially bad from the top of my knees down to my ankles. Later in the day, standing became difficult for me and getting out of bed was even worse. Nevermind the fact that the sunburn itself was giving off heat and made my skin feel incredibly itchy. With no Solarcaine or generic aloe lotion available, my wife improvised a natural remedy.

Using some essential oils provided by Young Living, she mixed some coconut oil with peppermint. In a separate mixture, she used coconut oil, tea tree and lavender. I realize that essential oils aren't exactly accepted as mainstream science, but, at the time, I was in so much pain that I was willing to try anything. The mixtures definitely had an effect on my skin. While not completely relieved of my sunburn pain, I did feel that I had gotten enough relief to function adequately.

There's an encyclopedia's worth of remedies out there involving essentials oils. If you're curious and have an open mind, you can find such remedies among the independent distributors of Young Living essential oils. It seems that, whatever the problem, there's an oil for that.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Some School Search Service Calls Me

One of those school search companies called looking for Clovis. When he asked how much education I had under my belt, I told him that I wasn't comfortable talking with other men about what might be under my belt. The rep couldn't stop laughing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

National Claims Center Calls Me

I got a call from a rep claiming to be from the National Claims Center using the phone number (561) 413-1026. Initially, I was impressed that the rep was actually a native English speaker, as foreign accents are usually more indicative of a scam. Anyway, the rep went into some pitch about Social Security Disability Benefits and it sounded like a classic scam to me. When asked my age (shouldn't a legitimate organization have that info before calling me?) I said I was 65. The rep told me that, since I qualify for Social Security, I wouldn't need her services. I then said that I was mistaken and that my real age was 34. She went into her pitch, asking if I suffered from a condition. I said I suffered from Tourette's and punctuated it with a few "Fuck You"s. She decided to end the call at that point.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I Had A Root Canal

I can now cross "Endure a painfully invasive dental procedure" off of my bucket list. A few weeks ago, I was noshing on a bacon cheeseburger and felt one of my back molars crack. I writhed in pain, cursing the Son Of Baconator that brought me to such a low ebb. A cursory examination involving three mirrors and several weird arm contortions revealed that I had cracked my tooth bad enough to knock the filling out. The dentist would later give me three options: 1) Pull the tooth, 2) attempt to refill it or 3) root canal. He advised that I get a root canal, so I decided to go along with his suggestion.

Over the next two weeks, I heard a lot of horror stories about sadistic dentists, botched procedures and stingy Novocaine treatments. Meanwhile, I tried my best to educate myself on what a root canal actually is. I'd heard a lot about it on tv, where it's fodder for situation comedies, but I really had no idea what the procedure entails. In short, a root canal, more technically known as endodontic therapy, is a procedure in which the dentist drills down through your tooth into the dental pulp tissue . The dentist drills out the pulp and then pulls the nerve out through the root canal. Once that's done, he fills the tooth with a polymer substance and attaches a temporary crown. You get the permanent crown a few weeks later.

The Implements Of Torture
I had resigned myself to enduring the procedure and mustered up the courage to sit in the chair despite my expectation that there would be a tremendous amount of pain involved. Watching the dental assistant lay out the tools that would be used in the procedure didn't help. There was no going back. The dentist shot me up with Novocaine and went to work. He only make me scream in pain twice. Most notibly, it hurt like a bitch when he got down to the pulp, as a bunch of pressure had been released from the tooth. He took the time to shoot me up with more Novocane. Overall, though, it was a relatively painless experience. I honestly felt more pain from the tongue depressor and the bite guard than I felt from the actual procedure. It was slightly worse than getting a tooth drilled and filled. The only other complaint I have is that my temporary crown feels weird and is raised slightly above where my actual tooth was, so I am having a hard time being comfortable when I bite down on my back teeth.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Multi Level Marketer Has No Morals

Clovis continues to get calls from people pushing multi-level marketing schemes. He invited a rep from a widely known financial services corporation to call him in order to discuss a comission based sales position. I answer the call as Ernie, pass it off to Diksmash and then answer as Clovis. The rep had no idea she was talking to three different people. Clovis explains that he's the ideal salesman because he has no morals and would bilk old ladies and sell his own mother's kidney if he had to. The rep is unfazed.When I reveal to her that she has actually been talking to one person using three different voices, she's actually impressed. It isn't until I tell her that she should be ashamed of herself that she actually decides to end the call.

Listen to her in the middle of the call. As much as Clovis tries to get her to describe the job he'd theoretically be doing, she refuses and re-directs. She's just there to put warm bodies into the seats so that the managing director can sell people on joining up.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aflac Recruiter Is A Quack

Generally, when you get contacted by one of those multi-level marketing recruiters off of a job search site, it's a sure bet that those financial predators are just playing a numbers game. They harvest your information off of the job search site, e-mail you a form letter and direct you to sign up for an "interview" via an online calendar app or some other website. Very rarely do they engage with you directly, as that would cut into their time making sales, pushing their underlings' noses to the grindstone and getting more warm bodies to cover their high turnover. Every so often, though, you can dangle the carrot and get a recruiter to engage.

Clovis has set about looking for a job and gets a number of multi-level marketing interview requests every day. He recently had the following exchange with an Aflac ponzi scheme pusher:

Hello, My name is [REDACTED] and I am the [POSITION] at Aflac Chicago. I am reaching out to you to consider Aflac as a career. We have a huge need to satisfy the demand for our product so we are hiring for the Associate position. Fully trained on by Aflac, an Associate is hired to educate the marketplace on what we do as a company. Right now is a great time to become part of our team because the opportunity is HUGE. Due to healthcare reform, out-of-pocket expenses are increasing while employee benefits are decreasing. Aflac helps deal with this shift. Due to increasing demands for our services, Aflac HQ is investing in city markets to increase penetration during a time when people need Aflac the most. There is explosive growth in Chicago right now and we need more Associates to take on the opportunity.

If this sounds like a career for you, please attend an open house to start the interviewing process. Respond back to confirm for our next session on Wednesday, 4/20 at 10am or Thursday, 4/21 at noon. Please include a contact number and I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please note- We keep track of candidates electronically so please respond to this email to confirm your attendance to an open house.

Sincerely,
[NAME]
[CONTACT INFORMATION]

I wasn't sure what Clovis' endgame should be on this, so, in order to see if the recruiter actually reads the emails being sent, he responded that he would be unable to attend the upcoming open house but would like to attend a subsequent one.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the upcoming open house sessions due to upcoming dental surgery on April 20. I do not expect to be fully recovered enough to attend on April 21. However, I do remain interested in attending at some point. Perhaps alternate arrangements can be made.

Warm Retards,
Clovis

The recruiter responded with an alternate date.

Clovis, Thanks for letting me know and I wish you good luck on your surgery! I have a few open houses scheduled for next week and the week of May 2nd so please let me know which one would work best with and I will write you back with some times. Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon!

Best,

[NAME]
[CONTACT INFORMATION]
Clovis responded in the affirmative that he'd be able to attend. I had wondered if, when the open house date came and went, the recruiter would notice that Clovis hadn't shown up. I was going to let that thread hang for a while and see if there would be a response. However, before that happened, Clovis got another copy of the same form mail from the same recruiter.
Hello, My name is [REDACTED] and I am the [POSITION] at Aflac Chicago. I am reaching out to you to consider Aflac as a career. We have a huge need to satisfy the demand for our product so we are hiring for the Associate position. Fully trained on by Aflac, an Associate is hired to educate the marketplace on what we do as a company. Right now is a great time to become part of our team because the opportunity is HUGE. Due to healthcare reform, out-of-pocket expenses are increasing while employee benefits are decreasing. Aflac helps deal with this shift. Due to increasing demands for our services, Aflac HQ is investing in city markets to increase penetration during a time when people need Aflac the most. There is explosive growth in Chicago right now and we need more Associates to take on the opportunity.

If this sounds like a career for you, please attend an open house to start the interviewing process. Respond back to confirm for our next session on Wednesday, 4/20 at 10am or Thursday, 4/21 at noon. Please include a contact number and I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please note- We keep track of candidates electronically so please respond to this email to confirm your attendance to an open house.

Sincerely,
[NAME]
[CONTACT INFORMATION]

Any recruiter worth their salt should be keeping track of who they already contacted. This was a pretty obvious screwup and Clovis had to respond to it:
I believe we had already discussed a potential open house and I responded to you indicating that I would not be available for the dates in April. Yet, here I find this morning that you sent out two additional e-mails to me regarding said open house. I'm sure it's an error in your form mail.

As a sales professional, I shouldn't need to tell you that Personalized Service is one of the Beatitudes of Salesmanship. As outlined in my recently published e-book, The Beatitudes of Salesmanship, "Blessed are the Personalizers, for they shall reap the rewards the sales". I then go on to explain that, even though prospects often expect to be subjected to mail-merge or form mail, one should always take care not to make it obvious that one is using such tools on prospects. It makes people feel like a number. As I further explain in the chapter, "Don't make people feel like a number". So, I guess my question is: How many contacts did you scrape from Monster this week and what number am I? 
Best Witches,
Clovis
A more sensible recruiter would have known something was up and wouldn't have bothered to further engage. This one decided to double down.
Clovis,
I apologize you received multiple emails from us about an open house. I do not expect you to understand our systems for recruiting but I urge you to be careful to jump to conclusions about our business. The open house is a general group session that gives out information on our company and the position. This position isn't for everyone and we know that fact. That is why we are providing job seekers the option to come in and learn about the opportunity at our office. From there, if there is interest from the candidate, we will take the time to meet extensively on a 1-on-1 basis to make sure this is a mutual fit to move forward.

Again, I apologize you received multiple emails from our office. I will take your feedback into consideration as I move forward. I just wanted to make sure you knew we don't treat our candidates as numbers. We treat them respectfully as people. Best wishes to you in your career search.

Sincerely,
[NAME]
[CONTACT INFORMATION]
Now, this is an interesting bit of information. Notice how, in the initial contact form-letter, the Open House isn't really described. It's just referred to as a means to start the "interviewing process". In the subsequent e-mail, the Aflac recruiter outlines the open house a bit better so that it's more obvious that it's a presentation. No doubt it's something akin to a hard-sell timeshare presentation. Clovis took the opportunity to respond with a little more snark.
I believe I understand your systems quite well. Even if I didn't, the system is not in error here. You are. I arranged a date in May with you for an open house. A day later, you sent me yet another form mail asking about a date in April. Surely you can see where the breakdown in communications occurred. As I explained in my e-book, 100 Do's and 100 Don'ts In Salesmanship, "DO take ownership of mistakes". You made a mistake. Own it. Save the lectures about jumping to conclusions for the "Jump To Conclusions Mat" (Patent Pending).

Upon further consideration, I am afraid that I cannot accept your invitation for an open house. As I indicated (and as you forgot) in the earlier e-mail, I'm having dental surgery on April 20th. The prospect of a dentist slowly drilling into my tooth and pulling out nerves sounds far more interesting than anything Aflac has to offer. That is, unless you can put me in contact with that talking duck. He's quite the charmer. I bet he could sell caligae to a decurio.
The recruiter seemed to get the hint at this point and tossed off a quick "Thanks for your feedback and I wish you the best of luck in your career search!" e-mail. Yet, the very next day, Clovis got the same form mail yet again. And, when he changed his resume two days later, he got another one!

My point in this whole exercise is to show that these sort of companies are only interested in numbers. They want to put warm bodies in the seats so that they can get them cold calling and selling as soon as possible. These are commission-only based positions with high turnover and few successes. These are "jobs" only in the strictest technical sense. And they're certainly not careers. Even if you're desperate, you should be sending all these sorts of e-mails straight to your trash folder.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop

I just picked up the Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop PC from InFocus. The standard edition ships with an Intel Atom x5-Z8500 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 32GB SSD and Windows 10 Home for $99. The Plus edition uses the same processor as the standard, but ships with 4GB of RAM, a 64 GB SSD and no OS for $169.99. It also has a fingerprint reader, which is cool, but I don't personally have any use for it.

Right out of the box, I hooked the display port on the Kangaroo Plus to my television via the HDMI port. Since it ships with no OS, I had to install one. In order to do that, I used the Rufus tool to make a bootable USB drive out of a Windows 7 iso. The trick here is to make sure to format it using the GPT partition scheme for UEFI as the Kangaroo PC doesn't seem to support booting via MBR. Rufus wants to default to MBR, so make sure you've actually got it on GPT before hitting START.

Kangaroo PC
My Windows 7 install kept freezing up on the splash screen when I tried to install it on the Kangraoo. It may have been an issue with my ISO file, it may have been an issue with Kangaroo. I don't know. I used the Windows 10 download tool and downloaded the Windows 10 ISO for Rufus to use. I was able to install Windows 10 on the Kangaroo Plus PC without a problem. Even better, I was able to use the Windows 7 product key in order to activate Windows 10. If I had wanted to, I could have installed Windows 10 using a a Rufus modified microSD card, but I decided that the USB drive would be easier. I tested both the USB 3 and the USB 2 inputs and Kangaroo was able to boot using either of them.

Getting the audio to work via the HDMI interface took a little doing. The Kangaroo support site has drivers that you can install to get it working,  and the instructions say that you merely update the existing sound driver. But, in my particular instance, there was no sound device listed. I had to attempt to install the drivers against EVERY unknown device listed in the Device Manager in order to get HDMI sound working. Not a huge deal, though.

Once it's up and running, Kangaroo runs snappy enough. The real question is, what would you use it for? Here are my thoughts:

Uses For The Kangaroo PC:



  1. Light Office Work: Microsoft Office 2016 runs fine and web browsing is a breeze, so if you plan on doing things like checking e-mail, writing documents, making presentations, and/or browsing the web, the Kangaroo PC will fit the bill. 

  2. Thin Client: My organization makes extensive use of virtual desktops, so the first app I installed was VMWare Horizon View. The Kangaroo PC won't even break a sweat when connecting to a virtual desktop, so, that, along with the price ($99 for the standard, $169 for the Kangaroo Plus) makes this an ideal box for such a task. 

  3. Media Server And/Or Movie Player: My family takes a few vacations a year, and the portability of the Kangraroo PC makes it ideal to bring along to plug into a hotel TV in order to play some movies via VLC for the kids during downtime. Otherwise, I've got it running Plex Media Server while docked at home and connected to a USB hard drive. 

  4. Home File Server: I've got a bunch of family pictures on a USB hard drive and the Kangaroo PC would be idea to create a share so that the wife can have easy access from her laptop to all the pictures I have taken over the years. Some folks would want to go full NAS rather than file server, but I think making a file share is a better option for folks who don't want to delve too deep into the waters. 

  5. Old School Gaming Box: Whenever I am feeling nostalgic, I can head on over to GOG.com where I can download one of my favorite old school titles and run her off of the Kangaroo PC. Currently, I'm pushing my way through Fallout and Fallout 2. Next up will be X-Wing and the Quest for Glory series. 

If you're interested in buying your very own Kangaroo Mobile Desktop, you can find one via The Microsoft Store and Newegg. You might be able to find one via Amazon, but, generally, they are re-sells from private individuals who already bought one and are looking to make an extra profit. You can also buy extra docks in case you're regularly taking your Kangaroo between different locations and don't want to have to bring the dock with you. Kangaroo has an internal battery that should give you about 4 hours of life should you want to keep the machine running while you travel. Also, the battery can be charged via the Micro-USB port. 







Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Multi Level Marketers and Ponzi Schemers on Monster.com

After nearly 15 years working for the same company, I started to think that it might be time for a change. To that end, I put my resume up on Monster.com, and, while I got a few decent inquiries from prospective employers, I ended up getting a whole lot more muti-level marketing opportunities. Most of them came in the form of annoying form letters offering me a "great opportunity" to be my own boss while selling whatever shit product they represented. A few aggressive ones actually called me and tried to give me the hard sell until I informed them that I work in IT and have no sales experience nor the desire to develop any. These multi level marketing jobs come from recruiters who merely scrape contact info off of Monster and send form letters to prospects in the hopes that 1% will respond and possibly buy into their ponzi scheme. After a particular annoying weekend call from one of these purveyors, I decided that Clovis had to get involved. He posted a resume on Monster, and, within 12 hours, the multi level marketing offers came pouring in.


I got a few phone calls as well. Most merely hung up when I didn't answer. However, a rep from Tru Green left a message and then sent a follow-up email:
Hi Clovis,  
I wanted to follow up regarding the message I left earlier on your voicemail. Based on the experience listed on your Monster resume, I feel this position will be a great fit for you and I would like to speak with you to provide additional information.  I can be reached at [REDACTED].
Clovis responded to her:
Thank you for your interest. Due to the demands of my current position, I am generally unable to answer the phone for personal calls during working hours. However, I can be reached any time after 4:30 PM and would like to invite you to call me in order to discuss details.  
 
Warm Retards, 
 Clovis 

The rep called right after 4:30. I answered the phone as Rodney from "E.Z. Lay Carpeting Company". When she asked for Clovis, I passed her off to a few different people (which was just me doing different voices) and she quickly hung up. Here's the exchange:



She later e-mailed Clovis explaining her actions:

Hi Clovis,
 I tried to call you back but it was a bit of a circus as different people answered the phone and kept passing it on. Eventually I hung up. Feel free to call me back when you can. Thank you.

Eventually she hung up??? She wasn't on the phone for more than 90 seconds. This could not go unanswered. Clovis responded to her:

I must express my deep disappointment at your low frustration level. I regret to have to inform you that Persistence is one of the key virtues of Salesmanship. Indeed, in my recently published e-book, "The Seven Virtues Of Salesmanship", I detail how my own persistence allowed me to sell carpeting to my dentist while I talked to him through my first root canal. It also details how I was not deterred from selling new tile to my ex-wife AND her lawyer for their new love nest while I was being sued for divorce by grounds of irreconcilable differences. And you bailed out because you had to wade through a few people on the phone in order to get to me? It sounds like the well has been poisoned over there at Tru Green. I have no problem leading a horse to water, but if that water is muddied with unhealthy practices, I cannot, in good conscience, allow that horse to drink. For, you see, Honor is another one of the Seven Virtues Of Salesmanship. There's no honor in hanging up the phone. There is only defeat.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but you do get a first chance to take on a second chance the first time. I invite you to show me that my initial assessment of Tru Green is incorrect. I'll leave the method up to you.
 
I Wish You All The Breast!
Clovis

The rep called the next day. Clovis answered and asked her to apologize to the owner of the carpet company for referring to his operation as "a circus". She declined and hung up.


She must have thought better of it, because she called back a few minutes later and offered an apology. She then went into her pitch. Clovis asked that the base salary of $500 per week be upped to $800 and that there be a finder's fee of $300 for him to come into an interview. She refused and eventually referred Clovis to her General Manager. Clovis was impressed that the Manager was General in the Armed Forces and wished to speak to him directly. The rep promptly hung up. Again.