Archive for the ‘WTF’ Category

Awake / Bureaucracy / New Photos

One of the biggest problems with working a night shift is that it’s virtually impossible to get anything done during the day. I finish work at midnight, which means that I’ll usually get to sleep anywhere between 4 and 5 am—think of it like getting home at 6 in the evening and going to bed at 10. Great. This isn’t much of an issue, except when I need to run errands, because I usually sleep right through most of the time that normal people are working. Most people, obviously, would suggest that I go to bed early and run the errands during the day.

And most people would be right. But here’s the thing.

I went to bed early tonight. Two o’clock, I was in bed and sleeping. And then, at 3:49am, I was awake. My only guess is that when I push my bedtime earlier, my body assumes that I’m having a nap. The problem with this is that around noontime, I’m going to completely hit a wall, which is okay under most circumstances—if I’m at home, I can just take another nap and I’ll be fine—but what if I happen to hit a wall while, say, driving? If that were to happen, I might hit other things, like… cars.

The reason I had gone to bed early was because I need to drive back to the town I used to live in, because apparently it thinks that I still live there. No, literally: I got a car reregistration form in it a couple of months ago that is now overdue by almost a month (yeah, I know, but I was told I have a month from the date my sticker expires, which gives me until the end of March, and like I said, getting errands done isn’t the easiest for a nocturnal creature), and while reviewing it last night I came to the realization that it says on it that I owe back taxes. For West Haven.

For the record, I have not lived in West Haven for more than two years. And I happen to know that all my car taxes are paid up through the end of 2006, the last year I lived there. So if they think I owe them money still, well, they’re sorely mistaken.

But that doesn’t really matter to the Great Bureaucracyâ„¢. Thanks to the miracle that is state governments, I have to get a physical stamp on my registration form that states that my taxes are paid. Which means I have to drive an hour back to West Haven, argue with the tax collector about whether or not I actually owe them money (my wager is that I’m still going to have to give them a pound of flesh whether I lived there or not), get a stamp, go to the DMV, pay them for the registration (plus a late fee, I imagine, if the month-long-grace-period thing I was told is untrue), and come home so I can work a full eight hour day night. Oh well, at least it gives me some time and material with which to write a blog post.

And finally, an interesting thing happened to me a couple weeks ago: I got a friend request on Facebook from somebody I hadn’t seen since college. We started to talking and she invited me up to Boston on Monday to go to an art opening she was doing. I asked her if it would be gauche to take along my camera and snap some shots of the opening, and was told of course not, by all means, so take it along I did, and also documented a bit of the aprés-opening gathering at her apartment.

Emma’s Art Opening, 3/2/09
Emma's Art Show, 3/2/09

You think YOU have it bad…

Wachovia bank sent Joe Martins of Georgia a letter after he closed his checking account, notifying him that he owed $211,010,028,257,303.00 on the account.

For the comma-declined, that’s more than 211 trillion dollars.

The letter includes the clarification, “no cents.”

“I didn’t know what to think. Obviously $211 trillion is a little above what I put in my bank account,” said Martins.

So the next time you think you’ve got it bad, just remember that you aren’t the guy who owes more than 70 times the national budget to his bank.

(via Consumerist)

Airport security detains man because of iPod charger

I just read a story about a guy who was detained and almost prevented from boarding his airplane because he had a homemade iPod charger—an iPod charger, I should add, that had absolutely no traces of explosives on it:

Homemade iPod charger

He asks what it is. I tell him it is a battery charger for my iPod. He asks if I made it myself, to which I reply that I purchased a kit over the internet. He says that he can’t let me on the plane with it. I explain to him that I have flown with it 4-6 times a month for a year now and nobody has questioned it. He says, “Not on my watch and not with my people.”

Now, I’m not an idiot, and I know that a device that looks like this is going to be suspicious at the least. But come on: it only takes a cursory glance at this thing to see that there’s no place to put any explosives! Let alone the fact that two D-cell batteries wouldn’t have the juice to blow up anything.

Kudos, though, to the Port Authority Police Department who were called to the scene who, upon investigating the device, they did a simple thing and plugged Damon Burke’s USB reading light into the charger and—surprise, surprise—the light lit up! At this point the security inspectors allowed him to board the plane, provided that he remove the evil, evil D-cell batteries from the charger.

Do we honestly think that things like this are making our flights safer? I think that Burke puts it best when he says:

They wouldn’t have grasped that the spare battery for my laptop was far more dangerous than the iPod charger. A dead short of the MintyBoost! would produce a little heat (maybe 4 watts total), a dead short of the laptop battery would likely cause an explosion of the battery…. and I had two of them fully charged. But these are the times we live in. A handful of people with no knowledge of physics, engineering, or pyrotechnics are responsible for determining what is and what is not safe to bring on a plane. They’re paid minimum wage and told to panic if they see something they don’t recognize. Does this make me feel safer? It doesn’t really matter.

Human Nature

This is probably the only thing you’ll see me say publicly about the Virginia Tech shootings, mainly because I feel too strongly about things like this to be able to form coherent words in relation to it.

But I have to say something about the press and their incessant need to find the underlying cause of things. They’ve been interviewing the roommates of this shooter, people who knew him, trying to find a link between thirty-two people dying and violent video games, but mostly, they’re trying to find meaning behind why the shooting happened.

Well, news outlets, I’m going to share a little secret with you: You’ll never find meaning behind this. You know why? There isn’t any. Why isn’t there any?

Because the guy was fucking crazy.

That’s all there is to it. You can try all you want to find out why the guy was fucking crazy, but in the end, he was fucking crazy and that’s all you’ll ever get out of it.

Now I know that the news outlets would never listen to the voice of reason, but in the interest of satisfying my own need to, well, be the voice of reason: Please, for the love of God, stop dwelling on this and let the poor distraught families of the victims grieve for the loss of their children.

Because obviously, they aren’t making enough money.

I just read a story on Slashdot that states that the RIAA is requesting that royalties given to recording artists actually be lowered.

Do you ever have that moment where you read something that makes the least amount of sense ever, and your brain actually has to reboot before you can continue? Yeah, I totally had that happen to me just after reading that story.

The argument made by the RIAA is that the royalties should be lowered “for use of lyrics and melodies in applications like cell phone ring tones and other digital recordings.” So in other words, they’re saying that the use of things like ringtones shouldn’t make as much for the artists—presumably the argument is that ringtones, being shorter, don’t warrant the same royalty as a full-length song.

I can’t even begin to articulate how downright awful this is on the part of the RIAA. As the article states, “in the past week the RIAA has made it quite clear whose profits the group is truly out to defend, and it’s certainly not the artists who actually make the music.” As if it wasn’t obvious in the past, it certainly is obvious now that the RIAA has absolutely no desire to protect the interests of the recording artists and is out for only one client—its record labels. The funny thing is that they aren’t even pretending here: they’re stating that the royalties need to be lowered because the labels aren’t making as much as they could be.

It’s not even like the labels aren’t still making money hand over fist. I’ve always wondered how on earth they expect us to feel sympathy for them because they aren’t making as much money as they used to make. Excuse me while I cry a river for you because you only made six hundred million instead of seven hundred million this year.

I can’t believe this is legal.

Let me tell you a little story: When I got home from work yesterday, I had some stuff waiting for me under the door to my apartment. This is, unfailingly, how my landlord notifies the tenants in my building (or hell, I guess how landlords notify tenants in any building) of future events. Two little items had been slipped through the crack on this particular day.

The first was a bright orange sheet that stated that starting on August 1, the late fees and month-to-month fees were going to go up by $15 per month. I paid attention to this, because my lease had run out on April 1 and since then I have been paying an extra $35 every month for a month-to-month lease, so that when the time was right I could pick up and move closer to work. Ultimately, not a huge deal, and definitely something I can work with until I find a place.

The second piece was in an envelope with my apartment number on it, and was also related to the fee increases, but this one was directly contradictory to the first piece of information. It informed me that my rent was being increased, to x amount per month. The problem is that instead of the normal $15 increase, this represented a $45 per month increase. Obviously, somebody is presenting me with conflicting information.

I was going to call them today and it slipped my mind, but when I got home after work today I remembered and called them to leave a message. But Andrew, you ask. What is it that you’re really getting at? Is there something more to what you’re telling us?

Well, dear reader, there indeed is more to this. Here’s the crux of what I’m getting at: At the bottom of this second piece of paper, I was informed that I could opt to sign a new one-year lease at a lower cost. Great, right? Well, obviously not, since, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not interested in staying here for an additional year. I like the apartment and all, but I just can’t afford the costs of living fifty-plus miles from work. However, there were no options whatsoever for opting out of this increase in prices.

No, I don’t mean opting out in the sense that I just won’t pay the extra cost. What I mean is that there was nothing anywhere that explained that if I don’t agree to the increase in price, I’m allowed to move out. You see, what I’m getting at is that as my current month-to-month agreement with my landlord stands, I’m required to give 45 days’ notice prior to moving out, or I get fined $100 from my landlord for “breaking the lease”. (Yes, there technically is no lease on a month-to-month, but it’s there in the lease agreement nonetheless.) However, if you look at what they told me, these new prices take effect one month from now. That’s 30 days, for those not able to keep score. So, in other words, if I want to move out and not pay the additional $45, they’ll fine me $100?

How is that even legal? How is it that a landlord can unilaterally change a lease agreement and not supply a fair means of getting out of that? I’m required to give them forty-five days’ notice but they only have to give me thirty?

Tell me something: What brownnosing piece of shit lobbyist for the property management industry got that law enacted?

I guess in the long run it’s better for me, because this is probably going to force me to find a new place. I’ll probably eat the $100 fine because I’ll make it up in saved gas costs in the first couple or three months anyway.

Like I wouldn’t have stopped. The nerve!

I was going to write an entry here about how incredibly stupid a golf swing looks when you really examine it. I had it all planned, about how I went to the driving range today and realized that I completely suck.

But alas, I’m not going to write about that. You’re crushed, aren’t you? Here’s why:

So I was sitting in my apartment eating dinner and watching The West Wing (it was “Galileo,” for those who would be interested), and I heard a knock on a door that sounded distinctively like mine. Not knowing whether it was my apartment door or not (and knowing that anybody I opened my apartment door to would be exposed to the horror that is how dirty my apartment is), I carefully peeked out my door and saw through the small porthole window on the door in the hallway a man.

At first, I assumed he was just another guy trying to get in, possibly to see the guy next door to me (who I think is some kind of drug dealer), until I noticed that there was a small shield on the left breast of his shirt. Upon noticing that it was a police officer, I opened the hallway door for him, assuming that he just needed to get in. But then he surprised me and asked me if I was the driver of a black Hyundai out in the parking lot. I said that I was, and he told me that somebody had called and reported that I had bumped into them on the way home today. He said that the guy had pulled my license plate and called it in as some kind of hit-and-run.

Now, having not hit anybody at all, I was quite taken aback and incredibly confused as to why there would be a police officer at my home telling me that I had. I went outside with him to look at my car, because even I will admit that it is entirely possible that I could have missed something so monumental as a car crash. But there was nary a scratch on my car, save for one scrape from misjudging how close the dumpster in my parking lot was, and that was easily proven given that the scrape on my bumper still has the telltale green paint that was plainly visible on the dumpster from even all the way across my parking lot. I told the cop that I had no idea what he could be referring to when all of a sudden it hit me (no pun intended).

I asked him, “Was this a guy in a white truck?” When the cop nodded his head, I explained this situation: There’s a stoplight at the end of the offramp from the highway, and I stopped behind this guy in a white truck. Not a big deal at all, as it’s your average stoplight. The light turned green, or we both stopped at the red and turned after seeing that nobody was coming (to be honest I really couldn’t tell you which it was; I’ve stopped at that light countless times since moving to this town and it’s not exactly something I pay attention to). I’m guessing that the light turned green, given the fact that I was close enough behind him that he claims I hit him, which would indicate that we moved together. All of a sudden, the guy practically stops in mid-traffic and pulls over. I, having no clue why the hell he was stopping and assuming he was going to pull into the auto-parts store parking lot that was right there, pulled around him and went on home.

So apparently the reason the guy pulled over was because he thought I’d hit him. And when I drove by him, he took down my license plate number, because obviously, waving me over and making sure that I stopped when he clearly looked me right in the eye as I drove by him would have been too difficult.

Now, just to be sure I wasn’t delusional, I gave my car a thorough once-over, and having satisfied myself that there were no telltale scrapes (white paint on a black bumper, even a trace amount, would have been incredibly obvious, right?), I handed the cop all of my information—license, registration, insurance information—so he could submit his report, at which point he informed me that he was going to put down my statement just as I had told him: that I didn’t think I hit the guy, that I was confused as to why he was pulling over, and that I couldn’t find any damage whatsoever on my car, and that most likely that’s as far as the whole situation would go.

Truth be told, I think he’s right. I mean, even if I’m absolutely looney and I did somehow hit this guy without leaving a trace of it on my own car, who would be stupid enough to file an insurance claim for a scraped bumper? I think, just to be on the safe side, I’m going to take photos of the front of my car in the morning.

And whew, enough of that. On a much happier note: I’m seeing my first medical professional since a long while. Here’s the not-so-great part: It’s an ophthalmologist, and it’s because in the last week or two, my vision seems to have been very blurry or at least inconsistent. Given that I only have one good eye (thanks to the genius of my Kindergarten screening, my lazy right eye was never detected), that worries me. Since my health insurance is pretty damn good and I only would have to pay fifteen bucks for a checkup, I figured it was time. And maybe this time I’m going to finally need to get corrective lenses for my good eye, which has been slowly slipping as I’ve gotten older. Guess we’ll see.

“I’m not even supposed to BE here today!”

Ahhhh, Dante Hicks, you certainly hit the nail on the head. I’m not even supposed to be here today. I’m supposed to be relaxing and maybe cleaning my atrociously dirty apartment right now. Perhaps catching up on some of my TV shows I didn’t get to watch this week. But though I am indeed at home, I am not relaxing, nor am I watching television or even cleaning. No, I’m on this computer, working. And not just any work.

I’m doing exactly the same thing that I was doing last night until ten o’clock.

The tape restore of the server that I rebuilt last night was successful, but only partially so. Apparently, the data that was restored was correct and had no errors, but it was a backup of already-corrupted data. So we essentially restored bad data back to the server. So now, I get to rebuild the server again, and we can put a previous backup on it instead.

I’m over the moon. This is my over-the-moon face.

On a more funny-yet-disturbing note: The over-the-moon comment is a line from The West Wing, spoken by Toby Ziegler (check the link). In doing my web search on the URL for the link, I found out that there’s a (pretty horribly designed) MySpace page for Toby Ziegler. I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that. There are other characters, too, if you look at the comments…

Is it opposite day? It is, isn’t it.

I wanted to get home at a decent hour tonight. Not because of any particular reason, just it’s been a slightly stressful week and I was hoping to be able to really relax tonight, maybe with a glass or two of wine, maybe a movie…

But apparently when I made that assertion to the heavens, I ended up tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing. Because a server died on us and I was (of course) picked to go rebuild it so that it could be restored from its tape backup. Naturally, this process is taking about three times longer than it should have, and here it is, almost 8 pm and I’m still at work without any semblance of a light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

The fates just looooove me.

Why the hell?

Why the hell is it that in the middle of March, I have the heat turned completely off in my apartment and my air conditioner is on because it’s so damn hot?

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