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:

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 lives 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 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 Account Got Hacked

You are probably familiar with 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, 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 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 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, 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.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Rangers At White Sox 8/24

Apparently, the term "Skybox" is outdated. For, when we arrived at Comisky Park and I asked some security folks where I could find the elevator to the Skybox seats, they looked at me weird.

"You mean the box seats? Which box are you looking for? Upper? Lower?, one asked.

"No, the Skybox. You know, the GOOD seats".

"They're all good seats here, sir".

The White Sox Beer Stein
I had booked some seats in the Guaranteed Rate Club section which is a large suite of seats behind home plate that includes a lounge area, bar and restrooms. I figured that it would be a great way to celebrate the end of Summer. And we had a great time despite the White Sox losing to the Texas Rangers 4 - 0. A huge fight broke out in the bleachers early in the game but it was briefly halted to show some respect for Jose Abreu's 1,000th career hit. Once that was over, the fight broke out again and the fat shirtless guy was taking out people left and right. I wonder if it being Beer Stein giveaway night had anything to do with it.

Meanwhile, in the Guaranteed Rate Club section, all was quiet. I had booked the tickets in secret and only told everyone that I had gotten really good seats behind home plate. When we approached the elevator to the Club, everyone else started to mutter, even going so far as to remark that I was up to some sort of trickery that would get us ejected. But, once our tickets were scanned and wristbands were applied to our wrists, they knew that it was legit.

"Is this your first time in the Guaranteed Rate Club?", the concierge asked.

We all affirmed that it was.

"You folks are in for a treat!"

Guests in the Guaranteed Rate Club seating are treated to an expansive dinner buffet that features all sorts of different fare. I was particularly fond of the chicken sliders and the smoked turkey carving station. Also included is open bar, so I personally managed to slug down my share of beers before the 7th inning. We discovered too late that, while you're at your seat, the wait staff will bring you typical ballpark fare like brats, nachos and hot dogs. I wish I would have left some room for a cheesy beef sandwich, but my stomach just couldn't accommodate one. About an hour and a half into the game, the dinner buffet became a dessert buffet featuring a make-you-own sundae bar

A foul ball made its way into our section and, had there not been a railing next to me, I would have been able to nab it once it bounced in. But, all told, it was a great way to watch the game and I'm hoping that we can do it again sometime next year.

The View From Section A Of The Guaranteed Rate Club Seats

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Switch Energy Keeps Calling

The fine folks at Switch Energy called yet again. When the rep asked if I was getting any assistance, I said I had to check and see. I asked aloud if were were getting any assistance and then asked the rep whether or not my dad helping with the bill counted as assistance. The rep asked if I had ever applied for PAPP assistance and I asked aloud whether or not we had ever applied for Paper Assistance. I then told the rep that the checks we use to pay the bill are printed on paper. The rep tried to clarify and I said that if someone peed on the electric, that it would shock and kill them. Yet another attempt to clarify seemed to really tick the rep off who vented a frustrated "Alright!".

The rep said he needed "a clear no. Say no". I then asked him how we got a clear nail to him in the mail. The rep ignored it and asked me to get a copy of my bill. The rep asked for the account number "as it appears on the bill" and I told him it was printed, though I had to ask what kind of font it was. The rep passed me off to a supervisor who got increasingly pissed off at my attempts to play dumb. The call ended when I made yet another attempt at the "Heywood Jablowmee" joke.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Places To Eat In Memphis

I wanted to take a little time to mention some of the great places we ate while we were in Memphis. The downtown area has a reputation for having some great food options. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to visit every place that we wanted to.

Flying Fish: It's a small chain restaurant, but there's a location right across the street from The Peabody. The fried catfish was really good and their tarter sauce was pretty remarkable. Their hushpuppies where the best that I have had in quite some time.

Blue Plate Cafe: We came here for breakfast right before the morning rush. The Eggs Benedict was on point and the fingerling potatoes were very well seasoned with a nice little kick to them.

Dyer's Burgers: One of many places boasting the best burger in Memphis. I thought they were fine. Nothing great. Thin patties on a standard bun. They're probably really good if you've been drinking heavily.

Aldo's Pies: Great place to either eat "artisan" pizza or grab a few slices of your tried-and-true favorites.

The Pig: I'm not a huge fan of ribs, as food on the bone makes me want to boke. But a close friend of mine demanded that I visit this place and try the ribs. They are indeed some of the best ribs that I have ever had. The meat falls off the bone easily and the BBQ sauce is tangy and sweet. For me, though, the big winner was their smoked turkey.

Automatic Slim's: I mentioned them in a previous post and raved about the Blackened Salmon Eggs Benedict. It was a really well balanced dish. I was, however, disappointed in their Bloody Mary. It was nice and spicy, but there was no flair. I realize that at $3, you're not going to get a full garden, but they could have at least tossed in a few olives.

Blues City Cafe: Their catfish is decent, but the gumbo fries is the real winner at this place.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Energy Scammer Finally Says My Name

The Switch Energy scammer called me yet again trying to get me to give him the details on my ComEd bill. When he asked me my zip code, I went off on a tangent about how zip codes help mail delivery and wondered how we could incorporate Canada into our zip code system. When the rep asked me if I got any help paying my bill, I told him that, despite breaking my hand once, I wrote the check all on my own. The rep tried to clarify but I kept insisting that I was capable of writing checks without assistance.

The rep told me "You might get a little serious and quit with the jolly thing" and demanded to know whose name was on the bill.

I told him my name was Heywood Jablowme and asked the rep to repeat it back to me. When he said it, I laughed at him and told him he was the first one in several calls to actually fall for the joke.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pet Friendly Memphis

Pet Friendly Hotels In Memphis

While planning our trip to Memphis, we decided very early on that we were going to bring the dog, Luna, with us. The decision to do so presented a number of challenges. First and foremost was finding a pet friendly hotel that was located close to the attractions we wanted to visit. The Peabody fit the bill quite nicely as it is located just a few steps from Beale Street and less than a mile from most everything you'd want to see in Memphis aside from Graceland. As it turns out, The Peabody is VERY pet friendly. Upon arrival, Luna was given a Peabody pet bowl, mat and treat. And there's a nice little green space complete with poop bags just outside of the valet parking area. You'll have to pay a non-refundable fee of $100 per stay to cover cleaning. I'd heard beforehand that the Peabody can be very strict about having your pet's shot records available. I had Luna's, but was never asked for them.

Some things to note about the pet policy at the Peabody is that pets are not allowed in restaurant/bar areas of the hotel. This includes the rooftop area. Pets are also not allowed near the grand fountain and are to remain a reasonable distance away from the ducks during the Peabody Duck March. And, of course, even if you are in a pet friendly area of the hotel, your pet is required to be leashed. If you leave your pet alone in your room and it becomes a noise nuisance, The Peabody reserves the right to enter your room and remove the pet to a private area and charge you a $15 per hour minding fee. If you don't want to take the risk, there's a nice doggie daycare place called Mutt Island just a half-mile from The Peabody. 

Some other other pet friendly hotels in Downtown Memphis include: 

  • La Quinta on Union Ave
  • The Westin on Beale
  • The Vista Inn and Suites on Union

The Peabody Dog Bowl, Dog Mat and Dog Treat. 

Are Dogs Allowed On Beale Street?

Dog Tired

In general, Beale Street is not pet friendly. I knew beforehand that the bars and restaurants along Beale do not allow dogs, but I didn't know that Beale Street itself had a ban on animals. We were halfway down the block before we discovered any signage that stated that pets are not allowed. Still, nobody batted an eye and we took Luna down Beale street several times without anyone saying anything. The one time a public safety officer warned us off the street, we were actually walking along Second Street en route back to the Peabody, so it wasn't an issue. The one somewhat pet friendly restaurant in the area is Automatic Slims. They have a very small outdoor area and we were allowed to have Luna there while we ate breakfast. And they make a pretty amazing Blackened Salmon Eggs Benedict. I suspect that we could have gotten away with having Luna at Flying Fish and Aldo's Pies since they also have outdoor areas, but we didn't have Luna with us at the time, so we didn't ask. 

Luna was quite the celebrity in Downtown Memphis. We walked her around quite a bit (always keeping water on hand for her) and a lot of people stopped to asked to pet her or have their picture taken with her. Luna was either very happy to engage with people or wanted nothing to do with them. It all seemed to depend on her mood.  She's used to walking a few blocks here and there, but we didn't know how she would do on half-mile walks in the Memphis heat. Turns out she did very well and seemed to enjoy herself. She was, however, worn out after each excursion and took to hogging whichever bed she happened to plop herself down on. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Visit To Graceland

"And I saw that silent mansion and I knew that I was lost. They were selling plastic souvenirs of Elvis on the cross." - Billy Joel

It has been said, in the movie "Pulp Fiction", I think, that you're either a Beatles fan or you're an Elvis fan. Well, I'm not an Elvis fan. I recognize his importance in the birthing of Rock N Roll and his influence on just about every band that came afterward, and I even like some of his songs. But, I'm just not a huge fan. The idea of visiting Graceland doesn't excite me near as much as the idea of visiting Lennon's childhood home at Mendips or McCartney's at Allerton. I don't care how Elvis lived. I don't care about his airplanes. I don't need to see all of his shrine to his Lansky Brothers outfits. I don't care if there's a pretty little thing waiting for the King down in the Jungle Room. And, yet, there I was this morning standing in line with the rest of the rabble waiting to go in.

As we were being ushered in, a lady turned to me and asked "When did Elvis die?".

I replied "Once he started making movies". I'm lucky I made it out of the mansion alive.

The story of how the Jungle Room came into being is an interesting one. Elvis' father, Vernon Presley had gone into town and saw what he called "the world's most ugliest furniture." When he returned to Graceland he told Elvis about it and Elvis went to go check out the hideous furniture for himself. Elvis because he bought the entire set and brought it back to Graceland and had lime green shag carpeting installed on both the ceiling and floor. This is where Elvis kept his friends waiting for him. Talk about a test of friendship.

Once you're in the Jungle Room, you're free to wander about the mansion on a self-guided tour. I was surprised at how small the house at Graceland really is. It's basically just a lavishly decorated Colonial. Once you're out of the house, you end up in the meditation garden where Elvis and some of his family are buried. In death, Elvis has become a tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Graceland every year, and with the cheapest tour being just north of $40, Presley makes more money dead than he ever did alive.

If you'd like to visit Elvis' grave but don't want to shell out $40 for a morbid tour of the mansion, then you can visit the Meditation Garden for free between the hours of 7:30 am and 8:30 am nearly every day.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The National Civil Rights Museum

"Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights. And so just as I said, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around. We aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 3, 1968

Jacqueline Smith
Jacqueline Smith has been sitting on the grounds of the National Civil Rights museum in silent protest for 31 years. The museum complex includes the Lorraine Motel building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was killed in 1968. After his assassination, the owner of the hotel, Walter Bailey converted the hotel to low-income single room occupancy housing. In 1982, Bailey declared bankruptcy and the Lorraine would have been sold at auction had the Save The Lorraine organization not stepped in and bought it.  In 1984, the Save The Lorraine organization changed their name to the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation and hoped to raise funds to restore the motel and convert it into a museum. This meant closing the hotel and having its residents move out in order to prepare for the 8.8 million dollar renovation.

The Lorraine officially ceased operations as an SRO hotel on March 2, 1988. On that day, deputies were called to forcibly remove Jacqueline Smith from the premises. She had been living there since 1973 and had worked for the motel as a housekeeper. Upon her eviction, her belongings were thrown into a pile across the street where she covered them with a tarp and set up camp and continued to live as she daily maintains her protest vigil. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Smith at her camp today.

Smith believes that the money that has been spent and continues to be spent on The National Civil Rights Museum would be better spent furthering the work that Dr. King left unfinished. That's not to say that she believes there shouldn't be a museum. "There are several civil rights museums throughout the country and Memphis should have its own.", she said. In her opinion, however, locating the museum in the South Main Street area has led to gentrification and has pushed low-income residents out of their longtime homes. Smith believes that by locating the museum in the place of Dr. King's death, it is essentially the James Earl Ray memorial, as the museum is focusing too heavily on the violence of Dr. King's death rather than concentrating on the work he did while he alive. This goes against King's message of peace and non-violence.

I asked Ms. Smith what it would take for her to end her protest. After all, what's done is done. The museum is there and the money has been spent. She referred me to an opinion piece that she wrote last year: "Let's relocate the museum within Memphis along with its Klan hoods, James Earl Ray rifle, and other negative memorabilia and turn the Lorraine into an establishment that Dr. King and Memphis can rightly be proud of and where visitors can experience his dream in action", she wrote.

Before leaving, I asked her how she was holding up and she said that she was hanging in there just fine. The authorities don't bother her or try to move her on and most people are generally very nice to her when they engage with her.

The Lorraine Motel. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Room Is Marked With A Wreath

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Peabody

Our headquarters for our long weekend in Memphis is the historic Peabody Hotel. It's best known for its duck parade where, twice a day, a paddling of ducks is led from their 13th floor (referred to as "The Skyway" rather than the 13th floor) home down to the Peabody's lobby fountain. This whole tradition started in the 1930s when General Manager Frank Schutt came back from a hunting trip and allowed some of his live call duck decoys to play in the fountain. Guests liked the idea and the Peabody has embraced it ever since. And, I mean they REALLY embraced it. There are ducks on everything here from the swizzle sticks to the toilet paper.

The Peabody is in a great location, situated within walking distance of many Memphis attractions such as Beale Street, Main Street, Autozone Park, FedEx Forum and a wide array of historic sites. They offer first-rate accommodations (seriously, they even pamper the dog here) with a refined yet relaxed vibe.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Walking In Memphis

"Put on my blue suede shoes and boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues in the middle of the pouring rain". - Marc Cohn.

Summer is nearly over and I've been way too busy with various projects to take any of the vacations that I have been wanting to take. And with my daughter busting her butt with her Summer job, I figure the poor girl deserves a trip before school starts back up. So, we trekked on down to Memphis for a short vacation.

The first thing we did was slide on down to Beale Street for a quick walk down the historic avenue filled with booze, music and good times. The Beale Street Entertainment District is only a few blocks long, and, much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, open carry of alcohol is allowed. So, the first thing I did was stop at a "to go" desk to get a beer. And I actually got carded. So, I handed over my license.

"Do you have something that isn't expired?", the bartender asked as she grimaced at my license. I had recently renewed my driver's license online and the new one had to be mailed and hadn't gotten to me yet.

"So, once my license expires, I am now somehow under 21?", I asked. "Wish I looked it!", I added.

"I just don't know if it's real", she said.

"Do I LOOK under 21? Hell, do I look under 40?" I asked

 "We ID under 103 and you look younger than that.", she said.

I can appreciate that and I took it as a compliment, so I showed her my passport card and got my beer. Then, kiddo and doggo and I walked along Beale Street. Early on, my daughter pointed out to me that various posted signs indicate that dogs are not allowed on Beale Street. Yet, plenty of people came up to the pup to pet her and get their pic taken with her. Some police officers even petted her, so I guess it's not that strict of a rule. It helps that doggo is adorable.

My initial assessment of Beale Street is that it's cleaner than Bourbon Street and it's much easier to get a beer to go. However, the area is much smaller than Bourbon Street and there's just not as much going on. I still had a pretty good time walking around and listening to the music, though.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

What Font Is My Com Ed Bill Printed With

Clovis got yet another call from those Com Ed energy scammers. He had been suffering from a case of the scoots so poor Clovis was on the toilet when the rep called. Clovis was asked to find his Com Ed bill and had to rummage through the desk in order to find it. Once he did, the rep asked how his name was printed on the bill. Clovis wasn't sure what font his name had been printed with. He suspected Times New Roman, but wasn't sure, so he yelled for his wife for confirmation. His wife thought it was Comic Sans but Clovis knew that couldn't be correct.

The rep hung up after hearing Comic Sans. Nobody wants to deal with Comic Sans.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Yeti Rambler

The coffee situation at work has become untenable. Everyone in the office prefers to use the Keurig and have spurned the purchase of a simple drip-brew maker. There isn't room for both in the break room, and we're not ponying up for a dual-brew. So, I've got to either drink sub-par K-pod coffee or I've got to brew my own at home and bring it to work in a thermos. No-brainer: I went with the thermos. For a while, I was bringing my coffee in a 16 oz knock-off Yeti tumbler. That worked okay, but it didn't quite hold enough coffee to get me through the morning and, by the time I got to work, the coffee had lost a noticeable amount of heat. Enter the 26 oz Yeti Rambler Bottle.

I came into work the other day with this bad boy in my clutches and got immediately side-lined by a last-minute meeting. Two hours later, I came out of the meeting looking like a coffee zombie. I would have even slurped up K-pod coffee and been glad to have it. But, I didn't have to, thanks to the Yeti Rambler Bottle. When I untwisted the lid, I could still feel the heat wafting out of the coffee. My coffee was still piping hot!

I'm a pretty huge klutz, so the best thing about the Yeti Rambler Bottle is that it seals up so well that I can drop this thing down the stairs and nothing will spill out. Okay, I haven't done that just yet, but it's only a matter of time before it happens organically. And once it does, I'm willing to bet that the Rambler is built Tonka Tough enough to gambol down the stairs without sustaining any dents.

Personally, I don't drink directly out of the Rambler, so I have no need for the optional straw-cap or the 5oz cup cap. Yet. Instead, I just let the Yeti Rambler store my coffee and pour it as needed into my coffee mug at my desk, so the included triple-haul cap works perfectly for me. Your usage needs may vary from mine, of course.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Com Ed Scammer Apologizes

Clovis got a call from an automated attendant saying "This is an apology call from Com Ed. We have overcharged you....". When the rep came on the line to get Clovis' information, Clovis insisted that the rep issue the apology that he was promised. Once the rep apologized, Clovis was triumphant and the rep ended the call.

Monday, July 29, 2019

I Hosted A Jazz Concert

Fresh off of my run as the co-star of a two-person musical, I got a call from a concert organizer asking me if I had any interest in doing a Jazz benefit. For a very brief moment, I thought that I was being asked to sing. But, no, despite my recent good reviews as a singer, the organizer was interested in me being the M.C. for the show. I was told that it was a two-night featuring three different singers backed by two different backup bands. All I would have to do is give some opening remarks, say a few words during intermission, and then wrap up with remarks before the big finale. There would be a rehearsal the night before the first show, so I figured I'd be given more specific instructions and an at least an outline covering the main points the organizer wanted me to hit during my remarks. Instead, I was just put through a mic check and told "just be you".

The Friday night run-through of the show was, for me, mediocre. I had no set list, very little information on the musicians and singers involved, and no outline on specific points to hit aside from the occasional verbal notes from the organizer. I was asked to fill ten minutes before introducing the first act, but struggled to fill five. Originally, the organizer didn't want me to introduce the individual acts, but that was quickly determined to be the wrong move, as the audience got confused over who was on stage. Things got better after intermission because I started talking to the artists and asked them pointed questions about themselves and the songs they were performing, just so I could have something to talk about on stage.

Ultimately, I wasn't satisfied with my performance during the Friday night show, so I spent much of Saturday morning thinking about how to improve my performance. What I came up with is

How To Be A Good M.C. :

1) Be Prepared: You don't have to write down everything you want to say, but it's a good idea to at least have a written outline. For example, my outline for the opening remarks went as follows:

  • Welcome
  • Introduce Myself
  • Anecdote about being asked to host
  • A very brief history of Jazz
  • List performers
  • Anecdote about first performer
  • Introduce first performer

2) Do A Runthrough: Even if you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it, it will help to do an actual run-through of your remarks to see how they sound. Written remarks on paper can come off very differently in delivery, so it will help to practice your remarks. Even better if you can do it as part of a full event rehearsal. 

3) Realize That You Are NOT The Star: The purpose of an M.C. is to get the crowd warmed up and guide the direction of the show The M.C. sets the tone and is there to make the main stars of the show look good. The M.C. is not in the business of self promotion

4) Lay Off The Jokes: Funny anecdotes related to the event are fine, but try to refrain from telling actual jokes with punchlines. There's nothing worse than trying to recover from a joke that bombed.

5) Get To Know Your Performers: They will be a source of material for you to draw your remarks from. I asked one of the performers about the songs she chose and she told me that she had written them all herself and had written a particular one at the age of 12. That made for a good story and I used it when introducing one of her sets.

6) Be Positive: Even if you don't like the event that you're promoting, you're still being brought in to build the audience's enthusiasm for it. When an act finished up their set, I made sure to say something good about their performance and asked the audience to applaud by saying something like "Let's hear it for them? Weren't they great?"

So, with the above directives in mind, I had a much better show on Saturday than I did on Friday. Even thought it was a small and tough crowd, I managed to get them fired up for the show, and, by the end of the night, they were clamoring for an encore rather than running for their cars.