Monday, December 30, 2019

iRobot Braava Jet 240

My iRobot Roomba has been a real workhorse over the last several years and it shows no real signs of slowing down. It sits patiently in my living room and is ready to give the carpet a good cleaning at a moment's notice. It's not really suited to kitchen mopping duty, though. So, I thought it would be a great idea to enlist the help of a robot mop to help clean up the kitchen and dining area. After looking very long at the iRobot Braava Jet m6, I went with the smaller, less expensive iRobot Braava Jet 240.

Whereas the Roomba vacuums sit on a charger until you activate it, the Braava Jet 240 is more suited to be put away in a cabinet until you're ready to get it out to mop. It doesn't sit on a charger, rather, it comes with a rechargeable battery and a plugin charger. Once you're ready to have it mop, you select a mopping pad, either dry, wet/dry or wet and you set the little guy on his way. You can also pour some iRobot brand cleaning solution mixed with water into Braava Jet's tank for a little extra cleaning power. Personally, I use Bona, a water-based solution and I'm happy with the results. You can also purchase washable re-usable pads, but, for now, I'm content to use the disposable ones that came with the Braava Jet 240 as they seem to do the job just fine.

My kitchen and dining area is shaped like a T and is about 250 square feet. There are four entry points, three of which can be closed off by simply shutting the door. There's an open entry way from the kitchen into my living room, which I usually use an iRobot virtual wall to keep my Roomba from crossing over. The Braava Jet 240 doesn't respond to virtual walls, though. Rather, it has a "virtual wall mode" where you can start the Braava Jet 240 in a certain position and then tell it not to mop anywhere behind where you started it. Which brings me to my next point: unlike the typical Roomba, the Braava Jet doesn't navigate by randomly bumping into things. Instead, it navigates the room in a methodical manner and actually maps out the room.

But how well does it clean? Well, it's not a vacuum, so, if you have a decent sized mess, you're actually going to have to either sweep your kitchen or run a Roomba through it because the dry mopping pad will only do as well as a Swiffer Sweeper would. The damp mopping works pretty well and seems to take care of all but the most stubborn food stains. For best results, I run the Braava Jet 240 in dry mode and then in wet mode and it seems to do a good enough job.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Samuel Adams Utopias 2019

Samuel Adams Utopias 2019
Samuel Adams Utopias Beer is an "extreme beer" made with caramel, Vienna, Moravian and Bavarian smoked malts, and four varieties of noble hops: Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger, Spalter, and Saaz hops. Utopias is matured in scotch, cognac and port barrels for almost a year. The result is a high alcohol, non-carbonated beer that seems closer to a fine sherry or a port rather than a beer. A limited number of bottles of Utopias are released each year and a single 25 oz bottle tends to go for around $200. I have been trying for years to obtain a bottle without success. Many friends, family members and significant others have also made the attempt on my behalf over the years and none of them were up to the challenge. Until now. Thanks to my very savvy girlfriend, I found a 2019 bottle under my Christmas tree this morning.

This is it. This is the Holy Grail of beers. I was so consumed with excitement that I sent a txt to my beer group friends to announce my acquisition and the resulting message was near gibberish. The 2019 Utopias has 28% alcohol by volume which makes it illegal in 15 states. Only 77 wooden casks of Utopias were brewed this year and I am the proud owner of bottle #05163. I'll be doing a tasting video in the coming weeks and will also be soliciting opinions from the friends in my beer group sometime afterward.

Monday, December 23, 2019

My Reddit Santa Came Through

The Reddit Secret Santa program is a gift exchange that is designed for Reddit users. It matches a Reddit user with another Reddit user, and each user must then send a gift to the other user according to that user's tastes and preferences listed on their profile. I haven't participated in Reddit Secret Santa in several years, mainly because the presents I have received in the past all indicated a lack of even the smallest thought and effort. But, having been involved in a very interesting Christmas show, and having had such a great time buying presents for everyone on my Christmas list, I decided that I would like to add some extra Christmas cheer to someone's season and joined up. I didn't expect much in return, and I just wanted to focus on finding the perfect gifts for a fellow Redditor.

This morning, my Reddit Santa came through and a package arrived at my doorstep. The gifts were so beautifully wrapped that I was going to wait until Christmas to open them, but I just couldn't resist. Inside, I found two books, Hillbilly Elegy and Citizens of London. I also got what smells like some very good coffee from Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co, and a Mandalorian coffee mug to drink it in. I suspect that Hillbilly Elegy is an attempt to counteract my liberal leanings which are quite evident in my Reddit posts. I'm open to other perspectives, though, so I'm happy to be have the chance to delve into this memoir from the self-styled Blue Collar Prophet, J.D. Vance and perhaps have my perspectives challenged.

So, thank you very much, and Merry Christmas to you, Reddit Santa. And, of course, thanks to Redditgifts.com for spreading some Christmas cheer around once again with its Reddit Secret Santa program.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Loan Depot Christmas

Those shysters from Loandepot called Clovis again. This time, it was a rep named Richard. Clovis asked him "So, you're a real Dick then, ain't ya Richard?". Clovis then asked Richard how he felt about working for a company that scams people out of money. Richard said that he felt that Loandepot helps a lot of people and that Clovis is entitled to his opinion. Clovis said that Richard isn't entitled to be a dick and then wished him a Merry Dickmas.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Re-Tile Frustration

I bought a set of Tile trackers back in July of 2018. I've been very happy with the product and have been using them to keep track of my car keys, work keys, wallet and briefcase. At about the year mark, the Tile app kept warning me that the battery was getting low on my tiles. I procrastinated replacing them because I wanted to see just how long the batteries would last. About a month ago, two of them finally died. Clearly, the battery life lasted far longer than the promised 12 months, which makes me happy. What kind of irks me is the Re-Tile replacement plan.

Tile advertises that their products are 99% recyclable. However, in order to recycle your old Tiles, you have to take them to an e-waste facility yourself and likely pay a small fee. That fee is likely covered in the discount you get from Tile for re-ordering once your Tile battery dies. It's a decent method, I guess, but I would really like the option to forgo the discount and have Tile send me a postage-paid envelope so that I can send the old Tiles to them and they can handle the e-waste recycling themselves. My old Tiles are going to be sitting in a box until I can remember to trek out to my local e-waste facility. How many other people have the same issue? How many Tiles will just end up in landfills because it's easier and more convenient?

The above being said, I am very happy with the new lineup of products that Tile has to offer. I replaced my old Tiles with ones that have replaceable batteries so that, next year, I won't have to deal with environmental guilt. The replaceable battery Tile is a bit bigger than the old non-replaceable battery ones, but, it's not that big of a deal to me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Loan Depot Hits On Clovis

Clovis got a call from a scammer claiming to be from a company called Loan Depot. Clovis was asked if he lived in a manufactured home, and Clovis said that clearly, someone had to have made it. As things went on, Clovis started to wonder whether rep was hitting on him. It's the curse of Clovis' beauty and Clovis has become used to it. Near the end, Clovis calls the rep out on the scam, saying that calling from a spoofed number and using a robo call to filter out customers aren't the practices of a legitimate business.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Nest Hello Video Doorbell

I've been wanting to get a video doorbell for over a year now. The main thing hindering me from having done so is the fact that I want a wired doorbell yet didn't have the wiring necessary in order to support one. This ruled out me being able to use a Nest Hello video doorbell and pretty well consigned me to having to accept the Ring video doorbell, which I did not want for several reasons.

Thanks to the Nest branded indoor power adapter, one can now run a Nest Hello video doorbell from an indoor outlet. This, along with the Black Friday price of $149, helped me pull the trigger and buy the Nest Hello. It's currently embedded in my front door where the old door knocker used to be and there's a wire from my entryway outlet running to it. Okay, it's not ideal, but it'll do until I can actually get an electrician out there to hard wire it. Now that that's done, what do I think? It's awesome!

There's a high degree of danger of me becoming some kind of weird hermit that watches footage from his video doorbell all day. The Nest Hello is always recording video and it gives you the option of saving up to 30 days of video footage along with 30 minutes of footage that you can save to your clip library. The first thing I do in the morning after getting my coffee is watch the overnight footage. Nest will tag any motion that it sees so that you can easily hone in on anything interesting. Already I've noticed that my street is much busier than I had thought, and the neighborhood cat rubs his face against my house between 5am and 7am every morning. The postman got wise to the Nest Hello early on and now slinks over to my door just at the edge of sight so that Nest Hello doesn't tag him as a person and only tags him as movement.

My home office is in the back part of my house and I'm unlikely to hear anyone knocking at the front door unless my dog decides she's interested enough in the noise to go barking after it. Now, thanks to the Nest Hello video doorbell, whenever the bell is run, I get a notification on all of my Google Home devices as well as my phone. I can then ask my Google Home Hub to show me the front door. I can talk to the person and, from there, decide what to do. On Friday night, the pizza guy rang it and I told him just to leave the pizza on the patio and that his tip was in the mailbox. When Jason came over and rang the doorbell Saturday afternoon, I told him to come in and wait for me in the living room and then unlocked the door from the Nest app on my phone as I sat in my office.

While at a Christmas dinner party Sunday evening, I asked the host what he thought of his Ring video doorbell. He remarked that he liked it, but wondered how long he would be able to go without recharging the battery. I mused to myself that I don't have that problem.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

HP OfficeJet Pro 8035

The evolution of my home office setup has continued with the addition of an HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 all-in-one wireless printer/copier/fax/scanner. My poor old Canon Pixma just can't compete with the amazing features offered by the HP OfficeJet Pro 8035, chief of which is the ability to print from anywhere using the HP app. In theory, you can also scan from anywhere using the HP app, but that would require something actually being put in the scanner to begin with.

What can you really say about a printer? It prints. It scans. It copies. I assume it faxes but I'll probably never test that function. Overall, it's a small but powerful printer, delivering a printing speed of 20 pages per minute in black & white and 10 pages per minute for color. Setup was super-easy and I had this thing running within 10 minutes of getting it out of the box. I liked that it connects directly to your WiFi network via direct authentication rather than having to use a WPS button which my current router does not support. Print quality is fine and the ink doesn't smudge when the paper is hot off the press. I guess the only bad thing I can say about the HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 is that loading paper into the paper tray is a bit awkward.



Monday, December 2, 2019

The Google Pixel 4

It was hard to say goodbye to my Samsung Galaxy S8+ after over two years of service. It had been a good, reliable phone. Unfortunately, it started to develop some interesting "quirks" after I took it in the ocean to photograph some rays and nurse sharks. Ever since then, it wouldn't connect to the Samsung Dex station. Even more odd, whenever it was turned off and I would plug in the charger, it would complain that the charging port was wet. I could see those behaviors being a result of its dip in the ocean, as saltwater can be corrosive for electronics (I honestly don't know what I was thinking at the time. Maybe I just wasn't). I could deal with those minor issues, but once the batter started losing the ability to last an entire day on one charge, I knew it was time to put the old girl out to pasture.

I picked up the Google Pixel 4 as part of Google's pre-Black Friday deals. Although the Samsung Galaxy S10 appears to have a better battery life and an additional wide angle camera, I was intrigued by the Pixel 4's night shot mode. The lack of a headphone jack on the Pixel 4 also gave me pause, but, I have recently settled on a nice pair of bluetooth earbuds and haven't used the headphone jack on my Galaxy S8+ in months.

One of the best features of the Google Pixel 4 is the Google Call Screening option which is enabled by default. Every time the Pixel rings, the standard "Incoming Call" interface is shown with a "Screen call" button. Tapping on the button will have Google Assistant begin speaking to the caller. Google Assistant will tell the caller know you are using a screening service and it'll provide you with a transcript of the call while asking the caller to state the reason for the call. Once the caller begins talking, a transcript of their response will show up on the phone's screen in real time. I've only had the Pixel 4 for a few days, and I have already used the feature dozens of times to screen out unwanted telemarketer calls.

Google wants you to navigate the Pixel 4 using gestures, but I found that I just couldn't get the hang of it, so I dove into the settings and added the Back, Home and Tile buttons back. I'm not all that interested in the Face Unlock feature and, although I am excited to try out the Astrophotography feature, it's not new as it was released with the Pixel 3. I guess what I am trying to say is that the Google Pixel 4 is a good phone if you don't have to pay full price for it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Clovis Gets A Job Offer

I got an email from some fly-by-night tech recruiter trying to get me to sign on to some shady contract work. I declined the offer, but told them that my colleague, Clovis would be happy to have the work. I forwarded Clovis' resume on the condition that the recruiter would not tell Clovis that I referred him.

This guy gave me up almost immediately when Clovis asked how he got his number. And, of course, Clovis was not too happy to have been bothered.

Monday, November 25, 2019

I Nearly Got Trampled To Death

We were on our way back from catching the 2pm showing of Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre early Saturday night when we noticed that the crowd on Michigan Avenue was starting to bottleneck. I thought that perhaps there was a pre-pre-Black Friday deal going on at Lush or something. Why else would there be dump trucks blocking the through-ways? As we attempted to cross Michigan Avenue via Chicago Avenue, we found that the street had been blocked for the Christmas Tree lighting parade. Yet another example of people jumping the gun on Christmas and trying to decorate before the Thanksgiving leftovers are cold.

At this point, we had two choices: settle in somewhere until the parade was over or try to find a way around Michigan Avenue. I had remembered that the nice lady that we had met at the Starbucks Roastery had mentioned that the Du Sable bridge south of the Magnificent Mile would be closed, so I knew that there would be little chance of us going South to cut over. But, perhaps we could get to lower Wacker drive via one of the Michigan Avenue stairwells. With that in mind, we pressed on South. And it could have been a fatal mistake.

The further South we pushed, the denser the crowd got in both population and intellect. What kind of idiot parent carts their kid around in a wagon through a dense crowd? What kind of parent thinks that they can let their kid run wild through that same crowd? What kid of moronic blogger thinks he and his girlfriend can successfully navigate this kind of human sea?

The northmost access stairwell under Michigan had been closed, but I still had hopes that the southmost one, just North of the Du Sable bridge would be open. The two of us pressed on until the crowd bottle-necked to a stop. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder like passengers on a Tokyo subway car. And then the crowd suddenly lurched forward and I tripped over a stroller wheel or a wagon wheel or something and I went down. I managed to stick my wrist out in order to save myself from completely face-planting. For about two seconds, images of my death via crowd trampling flashed through my brain. The headline "Old Man Crushed By Indifferent Crowd" seemed to have a particular ring to it. But, thankfully, a number of hands grabbed me, set me up right, brushed my back clean and didn't attempt to steal my wallet. Thank God for Chicagoans. If this had been New York City, my entrails would be been dragged across the Five Burroughs without anyone giving it a second thought. We pressed on, with the waning hope that the stairwell would be our salvation.

When we got in sight of the Lower Wacker Drive stairwell, it appeared to be blocked and I didn't see anyone moving down it. We ducked into the lobby of a building close by in the hopes that the elevator would be able to take us down to a lower level. No luck. On our way back out, we met a frazzled woman who was frantic about getting out of this mess. She said that she thought she could see heads moving down the Lower Wacker Drive stairwell, but wasn't sure that she could push through the crowd. The mere prospect of being able to get free was good enough for me to try. But, what to do to clear the crowd?

I told the woman that she was with us and that she should grab my girlfriend's hand and follow behind us. I started yelling as I approached the stairwell "I have a pregnant woman in labor! Clear the way!". Our new friend took the cue and started huffing and puffing while holding her stomach. This was enough to part the crowd and we managed to get to the stairwell which was filled to overflowing with people trying to get up. I spat forth more exclamations of an impending birth and that got us enough room to squeeze through the throng, placing us safely below Michigan so that we could cross under it and head East. We bade farewell to our fellow crowd swimmer and got the hell out of there.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Barrel Aged Menu
I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks. I don't mind their blonde roast coffee, and I like the occasional iced caramel frappuccino in the Summer, but, in general, I think that their coffee tastes like they over-roasted the beans. So, when Starbucks announced plans to open a 35,000-square-foot facility in the old Crate and Barrel location on Michigan Avenue, I was underwhelmed. And, after hearing reports of crowds of people waiting for over an hour to get in, I didn't want to go anywhere near the place. But, the girlfriend really wanted to, so I figured we'd get a hotel room close by the night before and walk over right before the Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened so that we wouldn't have to wait very long out in the cold to get inside. The strategy worked, as we waited for less than 15 minutes to get in. And, honestly, it's a pretty interesting place.

Looking Down From The 4th Floor
The Chicago location is just the latest in a line of gigantic experiential Starbucks stores that have been opening over the last few years. The Chicago location is the only one so far that offers whiskey-barrel aged coffee. It’s also the first to concoct a cocktail featuring coffee and Malört, a locally-made liquor only some die-hard Chicagoans appreciate. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is divided into five different sections, one on each floor.

The first floor offers coffee-to-go and hosts the gift shop. I picked up a pretty cool coffee mug for myself and a shirt for my daughter while my girlfriend bought the Chicago exclusive mug and some Christmas Blend coffee beans. The second floor is home to the Princi Bakery and Cafe where we had some yummy pastries with names I had a hard time keeping track of. I had some kind of raspberry muffin-type thing.

Irish Con Crema
The third floor is where you'll find an experiential coffee bar with coffee flights that feature coffees made with various brewing techniques. The Arriviamo Cocktail Bar is on the fourth floor. We had an absolutely amazing Irish Con Crema and some Mulled Spice coffee there (at over $10 per cup, they'd better be amazing). We also tried the Smoked Cold Fashioned, which is a sweet, whiskey-barrel aged cold brew with aromatic bitters. It’s alcohol-free, but you can change that by adding a glass of Knob Creek bourbon on the side. The fifth floor is the Michigan Avenue viewing terrace which was closed due to the cold weather.

I think we spent about two hours at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Even though the place was pretty crowded, and there were some pretty long lines, everyone there, customers included, were very friendly. We met a nice older lady who invited us to sit with her and was kind enough to snap a photo of us. When we left, there was still a pretty large line outside of people waiting to get in. And when we walked past later in the afternoon, there was an even larger line. I'm sure that, as the newness wears off, the long lines will be come less and less of a thing. As it stands, though, I'm glad we visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. I had quite a bit of fun and I really did enjoy the pastries and some of the coffee creations, especially the Irish Con Crema.

I actually feel pretty bad for the Starbucks location around the corner on Ontario. I'm sure they have to deal with the occasional overflow from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and have to tell people that they don't serve barrel aged coffees. "Sir, you can have a coffee to go or you can have a coffee and sit in the lounge, but we don't have any damn Irish Con Crema. You're like the eighth person to ask this morning!".




Friday, November 22, 2019

Dublin 4 Irish Pub

We're downtown this weekend to take in a few events and do some touristy stuff. We're staying at a hotel on Lake Shore Drive not far from Navy Pier. For dinner tonight, we decided to try out the Dublin 4 Irish Pub and I had such a great experience that I just had to write about it. You see, my grandmother made a pretty amazing shepherd's pie. Over the years since she passed away, I've encountered a number of people who have made attempts at shepherd's pie, which I have always dutifully tasted, and, ultimately choked down. Unfortunately, I have never tasted a shepherd's pie that even came close to tasting as good as Grandma Mac's. Until tonight.

The shepherd's pie at Dublin 4 is, without a doubt, the best shepherd's pie I have tasted outside of Grandma Mac's. The big difference is that my grandmother used lamb and carrot chips while Dublin 4 uses beef and carrot chunks. Still, I nearly cried when I tasted this, it was so good. And the portion size was perfect.

It's A Work Of Art. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Credit Card Scammer Numbers The Cards

Clovis got yet another call from a Credit Card Scammer. When asked which card he wanted a lower rate on, Clovis said he needed a lower rate on all of them. The rep then asked Clovis to get all of his cards and read off the numbers. Clovis assigned a number to each card and read them off with #1 being a Visa Card, and Number 2 being a MasterCard, etc. The rep got impatient and told Clovis that he just wanted the Visa card number. Clovis said that there are six of them. The rep told Clovis to grab any of the cards and read the number. Clovis started to list the cards again and the rep hung up.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cool Kills In The Outer Worlds

I recently finished my first run through The Outer Worlds on "Normal" difficulty. It has been a lot of fun to play The Outer Worlds, and the ending was very satisfying. There's still a lot of replay value in The Outer Worlds, though, and my next adventure is going to be a "Kill Em All" run on a higher difficulty. I don't know if I'm up for Supernova difficulty yet. Anyway, here's a short compilation of my best kills from my first run through in The Outer Worlds:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Card Services Asks For A Ballpark Figure

Clovis got yet another call from Card Services, except Clovis thought that the guy's name was Carl Services. When asked for a ballpark figure on how much debt he has, Clovis said that he got a figure of Jose Abreu from the ballpark.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Resurrecting The Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop

I had just taken delivery of some beautiful furniture for my home office when I decided to fire up my old HP Pavilion p7-1490. It's an eight-year-old machine that I've upgraded quite a bit over time with a better processor, more memory and a Blu-Ray drive. Alas, it seems to have developed some cooling problems with the processor as it would switch off after about 10 minutes. So, I ordered a new machine. It's going to take about a week to get to me, so I pressed my Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop back into service while I wait.

I've had the Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop in storage for over a year now. I can't remember the last time I used it with any seriousness, but I would assume that it was sometime around April of 2017 to play some movies via a hotel TV. I may have also used it from time to time as a thin client for work. At some point, I stuck it in a box with the hopes that I'd eventually turn it into a Plex client or a network file server or something. Since then, the Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop has been discontinued and I've heard some horror stories about expanding batteries that burst through the case.

I'm happy to say that my Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop is still in fine shape. It booted up and threw a few memory errors and did some auto-restarts before finally starting Windows 10 up and updating itself to Windows 10 version 1903 build 18362.476. I was able to connect my Canon Pixma printer to it so that I could scan and print as needed. Everything is working fine, and I'm able to get a respectable amount of work done while I wait for my new computer to arrive. I even managed to install Oracle 12c Desktop even though the process took nearly 4 hours. But, SQL Plus runs fine and I'm able to get some class prep done without any issues.

Maybe you've recently revived a Kangaroo PC too. Maybe you've purchased one off of eBay or had one handed down to you. In case you are starting from scratch and need access to the drivers for the Kangaroo Plus Mobile Desktop, here's a link:

https://infocuscorp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004403923-Kangaroo-Driver-Links


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Credit Card Scammer Confuses Me

These credit card scammers keep calling and I keep messing with them. This particular rep called to offer the lower rate and when she asked for my information, I kept putting her off with various distractions and feigned confusion.

When she asked me about the balance on my credit cards, I started listing cards at random and included The Ace of Spades and The Draw 4 Wild card. When she asked me to verify my Visa card's expiration date, I kept asking her how I could verify it. She then asked for the card's number and I said "It's number 1. It's the first card I took out of my wallet".

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Outer Worlds - Nyoka Is Drunk. Again.

I love the little interactions between crew members that The Outer Worlds has sprinkled throughout the game. The's one particular randomly generated interaction between Nyoka, the drunken hunter from Monarch, and SAM, the modified cleaning robot that had me laughing. At some point, you will arrive at your ship and be told that Nyoka is drunk again. Surprise. And you will then find her being tended to by SAM.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Television Service Scammer Calls

Clovis got a call from a scammer pushing some sort of TV service provider. Clovis was anxious to get some television service for his six televisions. He was proud to tell the rep that he likes to watch TV while pooping on the toilet. The rep called Clovis a "TV Lover" and Clovis said that he likes television, but not transvestites. Clovis likes watching Reverend Brian Lasphemy on the Praise Newtwork and is hoping that God isn't going to literally touch him.

When asked if he was allowed to have a satellite dish, Clovis said that, as a big man, he isn't very light. Clovis then talked about his dish that has a spaceman on it. The rep promptly hung up.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Outer Worlds

I don't pre-order video games often. Heck, I don't even BUY video games often. But, I was hyped enough about The Outer Worlds to pre-order it for the Xbox One. It's the latest action RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, one of my all-time favorite games. The Outer Worlds is set in an alternate-reality future where President William McKinley was not assassinated. As a result, Theodore Roosevelt never succeeded him, which resulted in large business trusts dominating society. Megacorporations eventually begun colonizing and terra-forming alien planets. In this strange future, The Hope, a colony ship bound for the Halcyon colonial system, is disabled and declared lost after its faster-than-light travel goes astray, leaving it adrift at the edge of colony space. The player character is awakened on board from cryosleep by a crazed scientist with a mysterious agenda, only to find that most of the other colonists are still in hibernation. The player then begins a journey to a nearby colony to investigate the true nature of the corporations and acquire the chemicals to bring the rest of his fellow colonists out of hibernation. The game features several factions and a branching story that reacts to the player's choices.

For an entire week, I hotly anticipated playing. I eagerly awaited 11pm on October 24 (Midnight, October 25 on the East Coast). I spent a decent part of the weekend playing The Outer Worlds between work, rehearsals, and date night. I played enough to get a good feel for how the game works and where it's going to go. I like the story and the way the factions function a lot more in The Outer Worlds than I did in Fallout: New Vegas. The combat mechanics take some getting used to, especially the Time Dilation effect which is similar to the V.A.T.S. system used in Fallout. The characters of the companions/crew seem to be very well fleshed out and they all have interesting backstories and offer unique side-quests.

By far, the most surprising thing about The Outer Worlds is the lack of game-breaking bugs. I sadly come to expect a number of bugs from games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, but several hours into the game, I haven't noticed any bugs in The Outer Worlds yet. If I have any complaints, it's the lack of variety of weapons and armor along with some of the dodgy enemy behavior. You can see in the video below that I am often able to easily approach an enemy from behind or even the side during heated combat without being noticed. Plus, I'm at level 15 and I'm still using the same scoped hunting rifle that I found early in the game to snipe with. Hopefully some game updates and/or DLC will be used to address these issues.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Credit Card Scammer Swears At Me

A "lower your interest rate" credit card scammer called me and attempted to get my credit card number off of me under the guise of giving me a lower interest rate. When asked which card I had a high balance on, I said that I had a high balance on all of them. The rep eventually got frustrated and just told me to use my Visa card. When he asked the expiration date, I pretended that I thought he was wondering what today's date was. He eventually just told me to Eff off and hung up

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Whole Shabang Seasoned Potato Chips

The Whole Shabang Potato Chips
A very close friend of mine is a nurse at a minimum security state-prison. For quite some time now, she has been talking about The Whole Shabang Potato Chips which are only available in the prison system. A company called The Keefe Group produces these chips and other snacks almost exclusively for prison commissary systems. And prisoners are obsessed with them. And for good reason, it seems. These incredibly salty chips are valued not just for their flavorful taste, but also for use in cooking. Prisoners often crush the chips up and use them to flavor otherwise plain meals such as white rice or chicken ramen.

On the outside, former prisoners go to great lengths to score some Whole Shabang chips. You can buy them at an inflated price off of Amazon or eBay. And, it seems that the Keefe Group eventually found that they were leaving money on the table by only offering their products in prison commissaries, as they are now available via their website.

My friend, whom I call "Nursey Nurse" has been talking about these chips for nearly two years now and, this past weekend, she finally brought a few bags over along with some Whole Shabang snack mix. So, of course, I had to try some of these legendary chips. They taste pretty good, kind of like salt-and-vinegar mixed with some sour-cream-and-onion and some bbq flavoring. I wouldn't be surprised if Keefe Group produces other "regular" chips and just does a run where they dump all of the leftover flavoring over some chips, packages them up and ships them off to prisons. Not that that's a bad thing. These chips actually taste pretty damn good. The're the perfect complement to a Reuben sandwich or a cheeseburger or a plain hot dog.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that we may have found one of the primary causes of recidivism:

  1. Set-up a for-profit prison
  2. Introduce an addictive snack and make it available only in prison
  3. PROFIT. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mortgage Scammer Laughs At Clovis

A mortgage scammer called Clovis and asked him what his balance was on his mortgage. Clovis told her that, as an old man, his balance isn't what it used to be. Clovis joked that he occasionally falls and emulates the old "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial. The rep laughed her ass off and Clovis took offence and asked to talk to her manager. The rep kept laughing and hung up.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fright Fest At Six Flags St. Louis

Roller coasters scare the bejesus out of me. The very idea of riding one makes me want to barf technicolor bile. So, it wasn't without a huge degree of trepidation that I agreed to take the kids down to Six Flags St. Louis for Fright Fest. I thought perhaps I could get away with merely accompanying the group and sitting outside the ride and getting some work done. But, I was told that, in no uncertain terms, I'd be expected to "Mac Up!" and ride along with the group. Thankfully, I had some time to prepare, as we checked into the Holiday Inn Holiday Inn : Saint Louis West At Six Flags late Saturday afternoon. I had stayed there a number of times before and have never really enjoyed the experience, as, much like Six Flags itself, it tends to be a human sea of people. But, booking this late in the year definitely cut down upon the crowd at the hotel and getting adjoining rooms helped to keep everyone in the group from feeling cramped.

We bounded out to Six Flags bright and early the next morning after gorging ourselves on breakfast at the nearby Denny's. I popped a Dramamine and an anti-anxiety before heading in to what I feared would be my ultimate doom. First off, I loved how the park was decorated for Fright Fest. The water in the fountain by the entry way, and indeed, all of the water in the attractions around the park was dyed red to resemble blood. It's too bad that the water park wasn't open because I think it would have looked incredibly cool to ride on Thunder River with the water turned blood red.

Since it was early on a Sunday, there wasn't much of a crowd, so there wasn't a very long line for The Batman ride. In the past, I had been content to sit near the ride's exit and either do some work or scarf down some disgusting park food. But, now, I was going to be thrust into the action. I didn't feel much anxiety as I strapped in, even though I had wanted to start slow with the River King Mine Train ride. But, I survived and didn't barf, which is a big win. The group then decided that we should hit all of the Superhero themed rides first. I think, out off all of those, I only really hated the Mr. Freeze ride because it jerks you back so fast. I think my stomach is still hanging on up there somewhere.

After that first set of rides, we got stamped and headed into the parking lot to the jeep to break out the cooler and have a lunchtime picnic on one of the grassy islands in the lot. I was even rewarded with a crisp, cool, refreshing Samuel Adams Summer Ale, which has just gone out of season. What a great surprise. After lunch, we headed back in and rode more rides, caught the freak show on the side stage and then waited for the monsters to come out after dark. The fine folks at Six Flags offer light-up badges for people who do not wish to be scared by the cast members. I was jokingly offered one but said that, even without the anti-anxieties, I wouldn't need one. That is, until I saw all the scary clowns! Nobody told me there would be scary clowns!

Just before the park closed, we headed back to the Holiday Inn and ordered pizza, which, because it was Sunday, we were able to take out into the common area for everyone in the group to enjoy. So, overall a great weekend and something I'd actually consider doing again.

As If Their Prices Weren't Scary Enough....

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Car Insurance Scammer Doesn't Know What A Beanie Baby Is

Clovis got a call recently from a car insurance scammer, and, after being offered 30% off of his insurance rate, Clovis wanted to know if he could get some Beanie Babies instead. The rep didn't know what a Beanie Baby is. Clovis happily explained it to him and the rep started to laugh. This pissed Clovis off who told the rep not to disrespect the Beanie Babies. The rep calmed Clovis down by telling him that he likes Beanie Babies and that he has Pokemon Beanie Babies. Clovis got excited and wondered when he might expect to receive one. The rep promptly hung up.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Philips Hue Lighting

I may have gone a little crazy with the home automation devices. With a Google speaker in every room (except the bathrooms) plus several light switches, bulbs and plugs, there's a lot of traffic on my wifi, even before including my "normal" devices live my TVs, computers and cell phones. Connecting to the network had started becoming an issue as the ISP-issued router didn't seem capable of handing so many requests at one time. Therefore, I decided to pick up a Phillips Hue Hub and start switching some of the components over.

The Philips Hue Hub connects compatible devices using Zigby (Z-wave) via its own hub rather than using your home wifi connection. This is advantageous if you're going to be using a lot of smart home devices and you don't want your wifi to get congested. As a test, I switched out the three dining room bulbs as well as the back porch bulb. Response time might be a tick slower than wifi, but connecting to my wifi is already noticeably zippier. Plus, it seems that Philips is the only reputable company that makes a GU10 track-lighting smart bulb (though, at $45 a pop, it'd be quite expensive to convert the 14 bulbs I have in my kitchen). So, I like it enough that I'll likely convert some of the switches and my four living room bulbs to Phillips Hue.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Mortgage Rep Is A Chicken Fried Moron

Rachel with SMS, some kind of mortgage refinancing company scam called Clovis asking him if he wanted to refinance his house. She said that there have been some changes to the market. Clovis said he didn't like going to the supermarket. Rachel asked Clovis if he was behind on his mortgage, and Clovis indicated that he didn't like her talking about his behind. When asked what his interest rate was, Clovis said he wasn't interested.

"Are you kidding me right now?", Rachel said in exasperation. And she still kept at it. She then asked what Clovis' credit score was. She said that there could be better options for him.

Clovis told Rachel that there was no better option than him. "You're killing me, Clovis", she said.

Rachel moved on and asked Clovis if he was interested in talking about refinancing with a lender. Clovis indicated that he thought that was the point of their conversation. Rachel said that she wasn't a licensed specialist. Clovis said he didn't need a therapist because the incident that made him need one in the past has been cleared up. Rachel asked again if Clovis was interested in refinancing and Clovis asked her if she was some kind of "chicken fried moron" since she had already asked the question and he had answered it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition

I remember the first time I heard Abbey Road, the final album recorded by The Beatles. I had a third generation copy taped off of someone's dual cassette recorder. Despite the hiss and hum I could tell that I was listening to a masterpiece. Over the years, it has become not only one of my favorite Beatles albums, but one of my favorite albums overall. So, when the Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition was announced, I pre-ordered it the moment it was available. It arrived at lunchtime on Friday and I have spent most of the weekend listening and re-listening to it.

The Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition is a 4 disc set which includes:

  • Disc 1: Abbey Road in a new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original eight-track session tapes and produced by Giles Martin
  • Disc 2: Session outtakes and demos
  • Disc 3: More session outtakes and demos
  • Disc 4: A blu-ray audio version of the album
  • Booklet: The four discs are housed in a slip-sleeved 12” by 12” 100-page hardbound coffee table style book with McCartney’s foreword; Martin’s introduction; insightful, in-depth chapters written by Beatles historian, author, and radio producer Kevin Howlett covering the months preceding The Beatles’ Abbey Road sessions, track-by-track details and session notes, the cover art and photo shoot, and the album’s reception upon its release; plus an essay by music journalist and author David Hepworth looking at the album’s influence through 50 years. The gorgeous book is illustrated with rare and previously unpublished photographs, including many taken by Linda McCartney; never before published images of handwritten lyrics, sketches, and a George Martin score; Beatles correspondence, recording sheets, and tape boxes; and reproduced original print ads.
The current price-tag of the Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition hovers around $90. Is it worth it? I'm probably the first person to bitch about record companies constantly going to the well and re-offering stuff in a slightly changed format. It seems that every 10 years an artist gets another greatest hits album re-issued, even if that artist has long since been deceased. And, yet, I have been nearly the first in line to buy some of these re-issues, especially those from Crowded House (I even bought the deluxe version of Temple Of Low Men if that tells you anything) and The Beatles. Why? Because these re-issues are the definitive versions of the albums. For me, Abbey Road is worth the cost. Here are some of the highlights for me: 

I don't notice much of a difference with the new mix other than to say that it feels brighter and fuller. I'm happy with that because the Super Deluxe version of The White Album felt like a completely different album, which is something I didn't want. I will say, though, that the remixed version of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" sounds much more intense in the outtro. There are some real gems in the outtake discs. I've heard McCartney's demo for "Goodbye" before, but it's nice to finally have a properly sourced version. McCartney's demo of "Come and Get It" is available on Anthology 3, but they Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition version adds some studio talk beforehand. The best part of the outtakes is "The Long One" which is the original version of the Side 2 medley with "Her Majesty" restored to its original position. The overall mix of "The Long One" sounds great, and it's an interesting artifact, but I completely understand why "Her Majesty" was cut out and tacked onto the end: It's jarring. The inclusion of "The Ballad Of John And Yoko (Take 7)" is quite the revelation. John and Paul worked on the track together without the other two Beatles and you can hear the playful banter between them in this take. John tells Paul, who is playing drums, "Go faster, Ringo" and Paul responds "Okay, George".

And, of course, I love the booklet. It's absolutely gorgeous and is worth most of the money right there.

So, should you buy the Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition? If you're a big Beatles fan, I'd say that it's a necessity. But, if you just like Abbey Road as it, you can easily live without it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Church Of The Beanie Babies

Otto got a call from Colorado Christian University trying to get him into their ministry program. Otto, of course, asked if he could get some free Beanie Babies if he signed up. He was disappointed to find out that he couldn't. When further pressed on his intentions, Otto said that he wants to get ordained so that he can bring the word of God to Beanie Babies.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Love When People Call Trump Stupid Rant

Yet another pro-Trump rant is winding its way around my Newsfeed despite my attempts to unfollow the most rabid Trump supporters on my friends list. This particular one isn't attributed to anyone specific, which is probably a good thing since it's such an incoherent mess. It does, however, raise a few points that I thought I would debunk:

Love when people call Trump Stupid..
You mean the multi-billionaire who kicked every Democrats ass, buried 16 career Republican politicians, and continues to make fools out of once reputable news organizations ..
-You mean the guy who won the presidency?
-You mean the guy with the super model wife?
-You mean the guy whose words alone put a massive slow down on illegal border crossings?
-You mean the guy whose mere presence made the stock market smash its previous records?
-You mean the guy who created 1 million jobs in his first 7 months in office?
You sure you're not the stupid one?
You sure you even know what it is you're resisting?
You sure you back a party that enables the decimation of every core principal of Christianity?
You sure you back a party that voted 100% against the abolition of slavery?
You sure you really take a politician like Maxine Waters seriously?
You sure you don't see anything wrong with someone who has a 40 yr career as a public servant living in a $4.5 mansion representing a district she doesn't even live in?
You sure you see nothing wrong or peculiar about Hillary Clinton a woman being involved in politics for the last 30 yrs having a net worth of $240 million?
You sure you're not just basing your opinion on hatred spewed by a crooked paid for media platform?
Are you sure you don't fall into that "sheep" category?
Are you sure you even have a clue?
Could you even tell me 5 things the Democratic Party has done to improve you're day to day prosperity as a hard working American citizen?
Probably not..
Do you realize the debacle you are sending your children into once they become adults by continuing to support a political party that has done nothing for the poor except kept them poor, gave them free abortions, and a few hundred a month to keep food in their fridge?
The prosperity and safety of its citizens is job one of your government.
Get with the program.
Everyone else has horribly failed you!
Smarten up and take a position for the sake of your children.
I promise you a country full of illegal immigrants, Muslims who want us dead, abortions, $14 an hour jobs, and non-gender specific people aren't gonna make your country and life any more prosperous.
Rosie, Madonna, Katy Perry, and Robert Deniro are not just like you. They don't have to live through the real world day to day disparity of an average American.
Men don't hate women, white people don't hate black people, and Donald Trump is not a racist.
Stop allowing yourself to be brainwashed by a party that has continuously failed you.
Be about your prosperity, your safety, your children, and an America First mindset.
Dump these crooked politicians that have stunted your growth.
Dump these crooked politicians that have stunted your children's growth.
Toughen up, take a stand, and act like a proud American.
(If you need help watch some Houston rescue footage and see the love, compassion, and American spirit of the Texas citizens which was a Trump landslide state as they help EVERYONE)
See the spirit of Trump supporting and freedom loving Americans and just imagine where we could be as a country if everyone was on board."

You mean the multi-billionaire... - we actually don't know that Trump is a multi-billionaire because he won't release his tax returns. Also, Trump has declared bankruptcy six times.

...who kicked every Democrat's ass... - yet lost the House of Representatives in 2018 to them

...buried 16 career Republican politicians... - The author is likely talking about the 16 other contenders who went up against Trump in the last Republican Presidential primary contest. Yes, Trump won, but he hardly "buried" those politicians. The office of President of the United States is the "brass ring" in American politics and a primary defeat usually puts a contender in hibernation until the winner's turn is over. We'll see what happens once Trump is done.

...and continues to make fools out of once reputable news organizations - Matter of opinion.

You mean the guy who won the presidency? - No, I mean the guy who won the Presidency, but couldn't get over the fact that he lost the popular vote.

You mean the guy with the super model wife? - No, I mean the guy who has had multiple affairs while married to the super model wife and used campaign donations in order to pay to cover at least one them up. And how is being married to a super model a mark of intelligence?

You mean the guy whose words alone put a massive slow down on illegal border crossings? - This "massive" slow down that the author is talking about isn't cited, and flies in the face of claims that there's a National Emergency at the border. But, if we take the claim at face value, then Trump's words carry that kind of weight because he's the President, not because of his intelligence. If he had said it as a private citizen, it would have had no net effect.

You mean the guy whose mere presence made the stock market smash its previous records? - No, I mean the guy whose tweets have created a degree of extreme volatility in the stock market.

You mean the guy who created 1 million jobs in his first 7 months in office? - No, I mean the guy whose ill-advised trade war with China cost the US 300,000 jobs so far and will likely cost the US 900,000 jobs by the end of 2020 if things keep going on the current course.

You sure you're not the stupid one? - Rhetorical.

You sure you even know what it is you're resisting? - Yes. We're resisting a President who thinks he is above the law, who uses his position to funnel money into his business interests and who uses dog whistle racism to appeal to his base supporters

You sure you back a party that enables the decimation of every core principal of Christianity? - What are the core principals of Christianity and how have the Democrats "decimated" them?

You sure you back a party that voted 100% against the abolition of slavery? - Well, if we're going to hold each political party to the things they did 150 years ago, then surely you'll hold the Republicans accountable for the Southern Strategy 50 years ago and you'll certainly hold Southern Republicans accountable for voting 100% against the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.

You sure you really take a politician like Maxine Waters seriously? - You sure you really take a politician like Roy Moore seriously?

You sure you don't see anything wrong with someone who has a 40 yr career as a public servant living in a $4.5 mansion representing a district she doesn't even live in? - Fair point on Hilary Clinton carpetbagging her New York senatorial seat. That being said, you sure you don't see anything wrong with a President who refuses to release his tax returns, who refuses to divest himself from his business interests and who encourages, politicians, diplomats and military brass to use taxpayer money to stay at his resort properties for official business?

You sure you see nothing wrong or peculiar about Hillary Clinton a woman being involved in politics for the last 30 yrs having a net worth of $240 million? - You see nothing wrong or peculiar with a Billionaire holding the office of the Presidency without divesting himself from his business interests?

You sure you're not just basing your opinion on hatred spewed by a crooked paid for media platform? - Rhetorical.

Are you sure you don't fall into that "sheep" category? - Rhetorical

Are you sure you even have a clue? - Rhetorical

Could you even tell me 5 things the Democratic Party has done to improve you're [sic] day to day prosperity as a hard working American citizen?
  • The Affordable Care Act
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • The Iran Nuclear Deal which lowered world oil prices by 2%.
  • The Obama Clean Power Plan which would have prevented 3,600 premature deaths a year, 1,700 heart attacks and 90,000 asthma attacks, according to analysis conducted by the EPA
  • Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards
The author then goes on a meandering rant which doesn't lend itself to a point-by-point rebuttal because it's just unfounded opinion.

So, the ultimate question here is, do I think Trump is stupid? Let's take a quick look at some choice Trump quotes:


  • "I think I am, actually humble. I think I'm much more humble than you would understand." —"60 Minutes" interview, July 17, 2016
  • "You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard. I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor...I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy. I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened...I was going to hit a number of those speakers so hard their heads would spin, they’d never recover. And that’s what I did with a lot—that’s why I still don’t have certain people endorsing me: they still haven’t recovered." — reacting to the Democratic National Convention, July 29, 2016
  • "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay? It's, like, incredible." — Sioux Center, Iowa, January 23, 2016
  • "[Vladimir Putin] is not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down." — said after Russia had already annexed Crimea in a 2014 intrusion into Ukraine that left thousands dead, July 31, 2016
  • "I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things." —when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whom he talks with consistently about foreign policy, March 16, 2016
  • "I'll tell you, it's Big Business. If there is one word to describe Atlantic City, it's Big Business. Or two words—Big Business."
  • "Despite the negative press covfefe" - Tweeted on May 31, 2017
  • "Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!” - Tweeted on January 14, 2019
And has Mexico cut us a check to pay for his border wall yet?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Christian Health Care Plan Doesn't Cover Beanie Babies

Otto got a call from christaianhealthcareplan.com hoping to give him a quote on health care. Otto gave his birthday as March 15, 1965 which the rep did not quite understand. When asked if he needed coverage just for himself, Otto mentioned that he needed coverage for his Beanie Babies. The rep hung up quickly after that.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Newly Discovered Mark Lewishon Beatles Tape

It's generally accepted that the breakup of The Beatles happened during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions and that, when the band regrouped to record Abbey Road, they all knew that it would be their last album and that they only put it out in order to "preserve the myth" as John once put it. It's well documented John Lennon had told Beatles manager Allen Klein that he wanted to quit The Beatles about a week after the newly revealed conversation took place and then announced his decision to the other three Beatles on September 20, 1969 right after they all signed a new contract with EMI. A newly discovered recording, however, purports to re-write this history by dropping a bombshell: The Beatles actually discussed recording another album after Abbey Road. The tape in question is in the possession of famed Beatles biographer, Mark Lewishon.

On September 8, 1969, about two weeks after they finished Abbey Road, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison convened a meeting at Apple’s HQ in Savile Row, which they recorded for the benefit of Ringo Starr who could not attend due to being hospitalized for an intestinal issue. Lennon starts out by saying "Ringo, you can’t be here, but this is so you can hear what we’re discussing." The three Beatles talk about recording another album and releasing a single in time for Christmas. John also proposes a new formula for the upcoming album: four songs apiece from Paul, George and himself, plus two from Ringo "if he wants them". Lennon adds that, going forward, his and Paul's songs would no longer be credited to Lennon/McCartney as they always had, regardless of who wrote what, but would be credited individually.

Paul, reacting to George being given equal standing as a songwriter says, "I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good".

George responds with "That’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs".

John gets a dig on Paul by saying that nobody liked Maxwell's Silver Hammer and suggests that even Paul himself didn't like it, so he should have given it to another artist like Mary Hopkin. Paul replies "I recorded it because I liked it".

It's certainly an interesting conversation, but is it such a bombshell? Not really. A number of Beatles authors have documented discussions among the band about new albums, singles and even a Christmas song post-Abbey Road. As far back as 20 years ago, Beatles biographers were writing about a tape recorded by Anthony Fawcett sometime in September where The Beatles discuss how to handle a theoretical post-Abbey Road album. Barry Miles' book Many Years From Now (Secker & Warburg 1998) says:

John's complaint to Paul was actually an attempt to get his songs on to albums without the usual democratic vetting by the others, as the conversation between John and Paul recorded by Anthony Fawcett in September 1969 reveals. John tells Paul: If you look back on the Beatles' albums, good or bad or whatever you think of "em, you'll find that most times if anybody has got extra time it's you! For no other reason than you worked it like that. Now when we get into a studio I don't want to go through games with you to get space on the album, you know. I don't want to go through a little maneuvering or whatever level it's on. I gave up fighting for an Aside or fighting for time. I just thought, well, I'm content to put 'Walrus" on the "B" side when I think it's much better ... I didn't have the energy or the nervous type of thing to push it, you know. So I relaxed a bit nobody else relaxed, you didn't relax in that way. So gradually I was submerging. Paul protested that he had tried to allow space on albums for John's songs, only to find that John hadn't written any. John explained, "There was no point in turning 'em out. I couldn't, didn't have the energy to turn 'em out and get 'em on as well." He then told Paul how he wanted it to be in the future: "When we get in the studio I don't care how we do it but I don't want to think about equal time. I just want it known I'm allowed to put four songs on the album, whatever happens." This was something the other Beatles had always wanted to avoid, ever since John's insistence on including "Revolution 9" on the White Album and his anger at their refusal to release the long, sound collage "What's the New Mary Jane". The other three Beatles wanted to retain a readily definable Beatles sound. Apple had already released Two Virgins and Unfinished Music, Life with the Lyons to mass derision and incomprehension, and plans were underway for The Wedding Album; understandably the other three wanted John's experiments to remain separate from his work with the Beatles. It was for this type of move, a cunning attempt to by-pass the Beatles democracy, that the others, much as they also loved him, regarded him as a "maneuvering swine", as Paul once put it.

The Fawcett recording may or may not be the same tape that Mark Lewishon has been hocking around.

Furthermore, in December of 1969, three months after John told the other Beatles that he intended to quit the band, John said in an interview "I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album, Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it. Nowadays there’s three if us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months. That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual physical problem. What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out".

At that point, the long delayed Let It Be album (which was recorded before Abbey Road) was soon to be released so John was allegedly pretending that the band was still together in order to keep from affecting sales of the upcoming album. Other Beatles biographers suggest that John truly was on the fence about quitting and that Paul's surprise press release announcing the breakup in May of 1970 forced John's hand.

In summation, the Mark Lewishon tape isn't the bombshell that it purports to be. It's an interesting look into the Beatles' minds at the time, but it doesn't reveal anything that wasn't already known. In other words: Nothing to see here. Move along.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Credit Card Scammer Makes Me Crash My Car

I happened to be at my desktop when another credit card scamming telemarketer called me. As I talked to him about lowering my interest rate, I brought up some sound effects on my computer. When he asked me for my expiration date, I told him that I was driving and to wait a second. I then played a car crash sound effect and tried to act as if I was mortally injured. Even as the ambulance sound effect played, the scammer still tried to get my info.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Debunking Tim Allen's Facebook Rant

There's a new political rant dirtying up my Facebook news feed. This one is attributed to actor and comedian Tim Allen, though much of it comes from a number of different sources including Ted Nugent, Kevin Sorbo and a Twitter user named Brn2Wander. An actual person named Tim Allen may have put this diatribe together, but the famous Tim Allen most certainly didn't. Here's the missive in question:

Tim Allen is credited with writing this.
From :Tim Allen

Here are some interesting points to think about prior to 2020, especially to my friends on the fence, like moderate Democrats, Libertarians and Independents and the never Trump Republicans and those thinking of "walking away" from the Democratic party.

Women are upset at Trump’s naughty words -- they also bought 80 million copies of 50 Shades of Gray.
Not one feminist has defended Sarah Sanders. It seems women’s rights only matter if those women are liberal.No Border Walls. No voter ID laws. Did you figure it out yet? But wait... there's more.
Chelsea Clinton got out of college and got a job at NBC that paid $900,000 per year. Her mom flies around the country speaking out about white privilege.
And just like that, they went from being against foreign interference in our elections to allowing non-citizens to vote in our elections.
President Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website. Let that sink in, America.
We are one election away from open borders, socialism, gun confiscation, and full-term abortion nationally. We are fighting evil.
They sent more troops and armament to arrest Roger Stone than they sent to defend Benghazi.
60 years ago, Venezuela was 4th on the world economic freedom index. Today, they are 179th and their citizens are dying of starvation. In only 10 years, Venezuela was destroyed by democratic socialism.
Russia donated $0.00 to the Trump campaign. Russia donated $145,600,000 to the Clinton Foundation. But Trump was the one investigated!
Nancy Pelosi invited illegal aliens to the State of the Union. President Trump Invited victims of illegal aliens to the State of the Union. Let that sink in.
A socialist is basically a communist who doesn’t have the power to take everything from their citizens at gunpoint ... Yet!
How do you walk 3000 miles across Mexico without food or support and show up at our border 100 pounds overweight and with a cellphone?
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wants to ban cars, ban planes, give out universal income and thinks socialism works. She calls Donald Trump crazy.
Bill Clinton paid $850,000 to Paula Jones To get her to go away. I don’t remember the FBI raiding his lawyer’s office.
I wake up every day and I am grateful that Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States of America.
The same media that told me Hillary Clinton had a 95% chance of winning now tells me Trump’s approval ratings are low.
“The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”— Margaret Thatcher
Maxine Waters opposes voter ID laws; She thinks that they are racist. You need to have a photo ID to attend her town hall meetings.
Trump — They’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just in their way.
Read that again. Again copy and paste.

The author's first point is a false equivalency by trying to point out supposed hypocrisy in women criticizing what Trump says and then turning around and buying 50 Shades Of Grey. We don't live in a binary world where opinions and standards have no nuance. It's perfectly reasonable to hold the public statements of The President of the United States to a higher standard than what we choose for our own private reading material.

The next point is actually word-for-word something actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted on June 18, 2019:

The perfect response to this came from LGBT activist and writer Amanda Jette Knox: "“No, most of us haven’t defended the questionable things she’s said to media and the world because those things are garbage. But as feminists, we WILL defend: – her equal rights as a woman – her right to be called out on those garbage things just like a man should be The end." Furthermore, plenty of people have taken critics to task for criticizing Sarah Sanders' appearance and other non-politically relevant traits.

I'm not sure exactly what the author's point is with "No Border Walls. No voter ID laws". The proposed border wall is a stupid idea that won't do much for border security because most people who are in the United States came here legally and then overstayed their visas. And voter ID is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, as there were only four documented instances of voter fraud in the 2019 election.


I also have to wonder why the author felt the need to call out NBC's hiring of Chelsea Clinton when several other children of political superstars have been hired as correspondents as well. Jenna Bush was hired by NBC as a news correspondent on Today, and Megan McCain, Senator John McCain’s daughter has held positions at MSNBC and Fox News. Also, Mr. Allen got Chelsea Clinton's salary wrong. She was paid $600,000 by NBC, likely due to her name recognition and impressive resume. Ms. Clinton has a B.A. in History from Stanford University, a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and a PhD in International Relations from Oxford University. She also has been employed by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Avenue Capital Group. Is all that worth $600,000? I'd say it is.

Now, as to the claim that Hillary Clinton "flies around the country speaking out about white privilege" it likely refers to a speech Hillary Clinton gave to the NAACP where she said "We white Americans…need to recognize our privilege". Other than that, I can find no other instances of Hillary Clinton giving a lecture where she speaks out about white privilege.

The author then goes on to accuse Democrats of wanting to allow non-citizens to vote in elections. I'm not sure where this claim comes from, but it's likely borne out of a mis-understanding of HR 1, a non-binding House motion pushed by Republican Rep Dan Crenshaw of Texas. The motion said "It is the sense of Congress that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens." Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the non-binding, opinion based motion. But, just because Democrats voted against a motion reaffirming that illegal immigrants can’t vote, it doesn't doesn’t mean they voted to actually allow those immigrants to vote. Federal laws already exist to prohibit non-citizens from voting in federal elections.

The claim that President Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website is simply false. The proposed border wall will cost between $12 billion and $70 billion while the Obamacare website cost, at most, $2.1 billion.

The notion that more troops were sent to arrest Roger Stone than were sent to defend the American consulate in Bengazi is spun off from something Roger Stone himself claimed. Whether or not it's true, it's yet another apples-to-oranges comparison. It's basically just Roger Stone trying to say that the way his arrest was conducted was over-the-top.

And then we float on over to claims about Venezuela. This is one of several tweets that "Tim Allen" copied from the Twitter account "Brn2Wander":

Venezuela had such a strong economy in the past due to its crude oil reserves. Its collapse is due to a number of factors, including falling oil prices, corruption, U.S. sanctions and economic mis-management.

Russia did not, in fact, donate $145,600,000 to the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign. This claim is spun out of the trumped up Uranium One controversy. Russia didn't donate any money to the Clinton campaign. And Trump was investigated because it was suspected that he engaged in tit-for-tat negotiations with Russia and then obstructed justice in order to cover it up. Read the complete Mueller report (not just the Barr summary) and form your own opinion.

I cannot find any documentation that Nancy Pelosi invited any illegal immigrants to attend Trump's State of the Union address. The best I could find is a number of articles indicating that California Rep Jimmy Gomez and New Jersey Rep Bonnie Watson invited former employees of the Trump Organization who were undocumented. It was obviously done to highlight Trump's hypocritical stance on illegal immigration.

Next up is the non-sequitur "A socialist is basically a communist who doesn’t have the power to take everything from their citizens at gunpoint ... Yet!". Whether or not you agree with Socialism as an economic theory, the statement shows a real lack of understanding as to what Socialism actually is. Furthermore, if you are truly against Socialism, then the way to keep Americans from calling for it isn’t casting Capitalism as good guy, while demonizing Socialism. The solution is to look at Capitalism logically and accept that its not the best method for everything in our economy.


The point about overweight refugees with iPhones goes back to a meme related to the migrant caravan published in November of 2018. The woman in the meme wasn't part of the caravan and the notion that a person who has access to a cell phone and is overweight can’t possibly be in a desperate situation is a both troubling and incorrect.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's Green New Deal does NOT seek to ban cars and/or planes.

With regard to the $850,000 that Bill Clinton paid to Paula Jones, it wasn't hush money. It was a settlement offer made in open court. It is well documented that Donald Trump not only paid hush money to Stormy Daniels, but he tried to cover his tracks while doing so. That's why Trump's lawer's office was raided.

Yes, it was said that Hillary Clinton had a 95% chance of winning the Presidential election in 2016. However, that means that she had a 5% chance of losing. The Trump campaign threaded the needle and pulled of what they needed to in order to win within that 5%. And still, Clinton won the popular vote. Also, the predicted chance of winning something is vastly different from an approval rating.

I can find no indication that you need a photo ID to attend a Maxine Waters town hall meeting. But, even if you do, voting is a civil right while attending a town hall isn't, so there should be no quibble about the differing standards as they are two different concepts.

Once again, we have a poorly written set of false equivalencies and non-sequiturs attributed to someone famous in order to give it more credibility. With just a little bit of research, its claims are easily debunked. But, don't let me do your homework for you, look into each of its claims yourself and you'll see.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Credit Card Scammer Calls Again And Gets Angry

Another one of those "lower your interest rate" guy called again. I went with the old "Let me ask my wife..." routine in order to try and mess with him. Plus, whenever he asked to "confirm" information with me, I acted as if I thought he was going to give me the information first in order to verify it.

At about 3:12 he gets irritated and throws out some kind of sexual insult. I ignored it and tried to clarify again. He tossed another insult out and said "You're wasting my time". He hung up after I asked why he needed my credit card expiration date.


Monday, September 2, 2019

My Wish.com Account Got Hacked

You are probably familiar with Wish.com. It's that website that sells a bunch of discounted crap, most of which is sourced from China. It almost certainly has shown up on your Facebook feed as a featured ad a few times over the years. Anyway, Wish.com is basically an e-commerce facilitator that allows sellers to list their products on the site and sell directly to the consumer. Wish doesn't stock the items, and instead acts as an intermediary handling payments. This has allowed Wish to become one of the leading platforms for selling counterfeit goods.

I bought something from Wish about five years ago and it was such utter crap that I never bothered to order anything off of the platform again. So, I found it pretty surprising when I got an e-mail from Wish.com stating that my account e-mail had been successfully changed to some account with a .ml extension. It was odd for two reasons: First off, I didn't request an account change. Second, even if I did, when making a change to the account e-mail address, a confirmation request should be sent to the original e-mail before such a change is authorized. That didn't happen. My only recourse was to e-mail Wish.com customer service who took two days to tell me that they had to escalate the matter due to its sensitive nature. Great. So the initial change isn't sensitive enough to merit added security, but the retraction of that change is.

It didn't really matter to me, because while I may have been dumb enough to open the account using an easy-to-guess password, I wasn't dumb enough to leave any of my credit card info in there. Even if I had, the info had likely expired years ago. But, it was the principle that mattered, so I pressed on. I sent a follow-up e-mail about four days after their first reply and suddenly, a new account had been created with my e-mail address. I went to log-in to the account and immediately clicked the "forgot password" feature. This allowed me to reset the password and log in. My order history was nowhere to be found. So, obviously, Wish.com decided that the easiest way to fix the problem was to just open up a new account for me using my old e-mail address.

So, what's the lesson here? Make sure all of your online accounts employ a strong password and use two-factor authentication where possible. Also, don't ever leave your credit card information in an app, unless you use a card that can issue virtual numbers that you can quickly expire.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Veterans Service Loan Scammer Won't Apologize

Clovis got a call from some scammer trying to push crappy loans on veterans. When the rep told Clovis that she had programs available, Clovis said that he didn't know how to install those programs on his computer. The rep tried to push him off on a delegate to take his information and Clovis said he didn't know what a delegate was, though he was once a delegate for Barry Goldwater. The rep talked over Clovis' story and Clovis demanded an apology.

The rep, at this point, knew that she'd been had and tried to end the call, but Clovis got her back into the conversation by asking her why she had lost all passion for her job. Clovis kept asking the rep why she had such a bad attitude. The rep said "If I lost all passion for my job, I would not be on the phone with you right now". Clovis remarked that they both knew that it wasn't true. The rep actually laughed in tacit agreement.

Clovis demanded an apology again and the rep said she had interrupted because she thought Clovis was brushing her off. Clovis said that the rep wasn't his type. He started singing "Never Gonna Get It" and the rep gasped in astonishment and laughed.

Clovis let the rep talk a bit and she talked about The Mission Act of 2020. Clovis wondered how they could pass a 2020 act in 2019. When Clovis remarked that he knew that Donald Trump was really powerful, but he doubted that Trump could travel through time, you can hear the rep sigh in exasperation. She then ended the call.