Cyclical Failure

did you hear about the guy that shot up his computer? he had just had enough, took it outside and shot it full of bullet holes. reminds me of that scene from the movie office space where they take the printer out into a field and bust it up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlk-3hps12q

though we’re not getting out the shotgun anytime soon, c and i are in a cycle of appliance deaths these days.

that’s the cycle where you bought new appliances around the same time the last time you bought them and now they’re all going bad around the same time… the choice is always whether to repair or replace, but it’s a guessing game as to how much the repair will cost and what percentage of a new purchase you’re willing to part with to repair of an old product.

the first one to go in our recent cycle was the clothes dryer. well, it was pretty much a no brainer that we would replace since we’d had the same dryer since 1986. we did have it repaired once in all those years and i remember that it was about 20 years ago and cost about $100. i would say that makes for an excellent track record. the popular meme is that new stuff is just not made like the old stuff. well, maybe not, but the new stuff certainly has a lot of new technology that makes it a whole lot better than a lot of the old stuff. our new dryer is nowhere near as hard on our clothes or our energy bill and it even has a steam feature that you can use to wipe out the wrinkles in the load you forgot and left in there for days. and as an extra bonus, having to make way for a new dryer forced us to have to completely clean up the entire area surrounding the dryer and toss out a lot of old stuff (like a pair of crutches or some calendars from 2000).

then my computer went berserk and you know the rest of that story. in that case the repair seemed like a better choice.

last night it was our range. c and i had been suspicious for a while that the oven was not working properly since there were times when it never came up to the programmed temperature or it seemed to take an unreasonable amount of time to get to temperature. last night it didn’t want to heat to more than 100 degrees and so we began the debate as to whether to repair or replace. you should know that c and i are both good cooks and bakers and people who strain the limits of a kitchen appliance. that said, we have also spent years dreaming of a larger high end range. problem is, that high end range will not fit in the space we currently have. it would be fairly easy to enlarge the space but then we would have to install a larger range hood to vent the range which would involve even more renovation and then… you know where this is all going.

in the end, we bought a new, higher end range with a lot more features than our old one. even in the 12 years since we bought the last range there have been enormous changes and upgrades that make cooking a lot easier.

i’m taking mental inventory and keeping an eye out for what might go next but so far the appliances that are left are either newer or not going to be replaced at all once they self-destruct.

and damn glad i don’t have a pacemaker.

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Longing for BC

sometimes i’d like to go back to a time bc. nope, not a time of dinosaurs or tribal rule or the beginnings of pottery or farming, hunting and gathering. some days i’d like to go back to pre-computer days – especially when my computer takes a dive.

remember when you didn’t have to think about protecting a piece of equipment from malicious intruders? remember when you didn’t have to download updates, recharge batteries, unplug in thunderstorms, backup drives, add memory, delete old files, etc., etc., etc.… on top of all the other life stuff you had to think about?

if you’re as old as me, you do. most of the time i think very little about my home computer, mostly because i use my ipad at home (unfortunately i am the tech person at work so i spend my days dealing with computer issues).

for no particular reason, my laptop decided to brick itself. it turned on and booted up but refused to do anything more than just that. i wasn’t too worried because i don’t use that computer for a whole lot and everything on it is backed up via a cloud based backup service and the files are also backed up on flash drives. still, the taxes were done and sitting on that computer waiting for me to file. i figured i was willing to pay about $200 to fix the issue and if that wouldn’t fix it, i’d just download the tax software again on another computer and pull in the file from the cloud backup then shop for a new laptop.

so, off to the computer repair place around the corner late saturday afternoon. after hearing my description of the issue, the guy assures me that they can clean up the problem and it will be ready by monday. he also gives me a price of $150 – $180. i tell him fine.

monday comes and goes and no phone call from the computer place. most of tuesday comes and goes and no phone call from the computer place. i call them. good news: there was nothing malicious in the system, just an issue with some corruption in the windows 7 operating system. they’ll wipe the drive and reinstall the operating system and i’ll be good to go by wednesday morning. but they’re only open from 9 – 5 so i can’t pick it up until late friday or saturday.

turns out c is leaving work early on thursday so he’ll pick up the computer on the way home. i call the computer place and let them know that he’s coming to pick up the computer and to please allow him to take it (because i think maybe they would be concerned about security and liability and all that). they’re not terrible concerned.

then they tell me the price for the work is $489. um, what?! no, no, no. we talked about $150 – $180. computer guy starts to argue with me and i argue back. he says he’ll call me back. when he calls back he tries to tell me that he talked to c about the price and i tell him that he’s full of shit since the only phone number they had is my cell phone #, which is with me all day.

half hour later, a different computer guy calls me back and he’s got a head of steam on him. he launches into recounting the conversation we had and how i talked about all the extra work i wanted done and how i gave him the go ahead and… i stop the guy and repeat that we never had a conversation because if we had, i would have told him that i would never have paid $489 for repair work and instead gone out and bought a new laptop.

a series of phone calls and conversations later, it turns out that the computer boys were talking to another woman with my same first name, my same laptop with the same windows 7 operating system issue plus plenty more issues. and she needed them to do a whole lot more set-up work than i needed. she was going to pay $489. or, she would have paid $489 but she had taken her laptop to a different computer place altogether on the same street (there are 3). yep. so they did more work on my laptop than authorized or necessary based on someone else’s say so.

they apologized profusely but then danced around telling me how they did all this work on my computer and it was a lot of time and… basically, they kind of wanted me to pay a higher price. you can imagine how that went over.

after some negotiating, we struck a deal that i would pay a little bit more for a small amount of extra work and they would stay open late for c to pick up the laptop.

computer guy said he had never had anything like that happen in the 20 years he’d been in business. i recommended that he institute some kind of receipt of ticket system rather than his current system of only taking down a name and phone number. funny thing to have to recommend to a guy who’s in the information technology business.

still, i’m thinking about sending the bill to microsoft for payment since i’m pretty sure that their operating system update caused the problem to begin with. i’ve even got evidence of another hp laptop with windows 7 that experienced the same problem at the same time. .. if only i could track down that other marge with the hp laptop.

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Filed under advice, communication, computers

Pysankas and more

mslavin424:

Since it’s that time of year again, I thought I would repost this. The eggs are out and about in the house again, though I still haven’t solved the question of the best way to display them.

Originally posted on read. see. think.:

When I was little my mom started a collection of eggs for me. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly know why and I never asked, but I suppose it was just something for us to share. The first eggs were little Limoges porcelain eggs from France that a neighbor brought home after a trip to France. Then I got it in my head to collect an egg from countries around the world. I have quite a few but I haven’t added to the collection in many years and I struggle with where to put all the ones I have. I displayed some of them for awhile, but honestly, it just feels too fussy to have around, not to mentioned that it’s a pain in the neck to dust.

Still, this time of year I can’t resist taking the pieces out and enjoying their beauty and the memories associated with them. I share…

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Spring


[in Just-]
by E. E. Cummings

in Just-

spring when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it’s

spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old balloonman whistles

far and wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s

spring

and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles

far

and

wee

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Filed under gardening, seasons, spring

The Zitner’s are Here, The Zitner’s are Here!

for those of you who do not speak regional philadelphi-eze, that means some of the best candy in the world is now available. Zitner’s

i know, i know, everyone has their regional favorites, but i’m telling you that zitner’s is among the best, and c and i have tasted some mighty fine chocolates from around the world. zitner’s makes chocolate covered eggs that have fillings of cocoanut crème, double cocoanut, peanut butter, butter crème (called butter krak), marshmallow and butter crème and chocolate chip. most of the eggs are covered in a thick coating of rich, dark chocolate, except for the peanut butter egg which is covered with milk chocolate.

google zitner’s and you’ll find a wealth of blog posts, articles, reviews, etc. that name these regional specialties among the very best in the world.

but, there’s a downside. nope, not referring to the calories associated with these treats ‘cuz enjoying them for a few scant months of the year isn’t going to kill you. it’s that they sell out quickly and they’re hard to find. it seems that this year they’ve gotten even harder to find.

i can’t find any truth to this, but it seems as though candy giant russell stover has played some hardball with grocery stores and convenience stores and taken over shelf space, which has pushed zitner’s off the shelves. c and i are pretty skilled at the zitner’s game if only because these eggs have traditionally sold out so quickly that you have to be on your game to find them. but this year even the unusually unusual places to find zitner’s, like the local hardware store, have come up empty.

ah, but the famed local favorite convenience store, wawa, was stocked full of zitner’s and peeps (another local favorite). i snatched up a bunch of cocoanut crème eggs and then came home to find an amazon box with two boxes of zitner’s cocoanut crème eggs inside. honestly, i would rather buy these treats locally, but if the local stores won’t or can’t get them, then amazon it is.

the thing about the philadelphia market is that people here stubbornly cling to their hometown favorites – so much so that some large national/international conglomerates have had a tough time wrangle market share away from the locals. one example of that loyalty is yuengling beer. many are the major beer makers who have tried to oust yuengling from restaurants, bars and stadiums with little success.

like i said, i don’t know if it’s true that russell stover is using a hard-line strategy to drive zitner’s off the shelves, or the fact that they are now being sold on amazon has increased demand. one thing i do know is that philadelphians will not do without zitner’s. and neither should you.

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Filed under addiction, candy, Food, holiday, seasons, spring

What We Value

whew! i just survived one of the most over-hyped awards show seasons in history! you too? yep, i’m pretty sure that we were all subjected to the never ending cycle of self-aggrandizement, self-adoration and selfishness that attacks the nation during the winter months.

january begins with wall street bonus season. the bonuses are voted on by the board of directors for each firm based on nothing at all and meted out in an obscene fashion that rewards both “success” and failure. recently these bonuses were even paid out using taxpayer money. the fashion is not the best and the red carpet is the red line though the returns in your investments as these firms skim off their share of your investment earnings.

sometime later in january are the golden globes. these are awards voted on by the “hollywood foreign press”, basically a group of less than 100 journalists and photographers who cover entertainment. here’s the definition of the actual requirement: requirements for active membership include primary residence in southern california and a minimum of four published articles per year. in golden globe voting there is no rule or regulation about interested parties in the entertainment industry paying bribes to these voters. kind of like congress. actually, the best part of these awards is that someone like ricky gervais or tiny fey and amy poehler have been tapped to host and their humor is directly to the point about the self-aggrandizing nature of the entire affair.

in early february the grammys show up. although, there doesn’t seem to be any timeliness to the nominations for the grammys. often music that was released years ago is nominated alongside taylor swift music that was timed to be released and make piles of money just before voting begins. the performances during the show end up being more important than the show itself and once-in-awhile a performer actually sings live and drives home the point that only 99% of music is auto-tuned. this crowd doesn’t seem to take themselves as seriously as actors, or take the awards as seriously, except for kanye west who, as we all know, is the only voter whose opinion counts.

finally, there is the award show to beat all awards shows: the academy awards. this show is hyped for months beforehand but in the days before the show there are nightly specials highlighting everything about the actors and the show and fashion and the never ending list of satellite industries that leech off of the oscars. the odd thing is that the oscars were designed to get us out of the house and into the movie theatre but oddly, the nominated movies aren’t usually in the theatres around the time they are being hyped for the oscars. need any more evidence that the academy awards are about self-aggrandizement? here’s the best quote about the academy awards from troy cambell, a social scientist at duke university: “the event allows artistic elites to indirectly praise themselves by praising others and the magic of art.”
consider that three of the four best picture winners in the past four years were movies about movies or acting. he goes on to caution that there’s a lesson for all of us in that we tend to only offer praise to those who look, act and think like us.

well, what’s wrong with offering praise to those who are like us? shouldn’t we praise the teachers, police officers, fire fighters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors, friends, temporary workers, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, office workers… you get my drift.

i want the real hero worship to be about everyday people who create, build, run, teach, inform and advance themselves, their families and us all by what they do every single day. we all don’t get awards, but we certainly all deserve them.

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Filed under Heroes, image, movies, music, success, work

Whiners, Bullies and First World Problems

louis ck has some brilliant standup making fun the culture of whining, which seems to be a mainstay of our modern world. at one point he talks about how people constantly whine and complain about their phones and he points out that just a scant few years ago we didn’t have the privilege of walking around with the very same “phones” or mini computers about which we all now complain. scathingly to the point.

i thought about louis ck’s routine as i read marc vetri’s tirade about food journalism.

marc vetri really has a problem with perspective here.

for those of you not familiar with vetri, he’s a 2005 james beard award winner for “best chef mid-atlantic”, named one of food and wine magazine’s “ten best new chefs”, owner of multiple restaurants in the philadelphia area, food blogger and prolific foodie on twitter, instagram and every other social media platform. he’s also very involved in the philadelphia schools and community.
i’ve only been to one of his restaurants and the food was delicious, the service excellent (except for the requisite snooty sommelier) and the bill substantial. c and i have long wanted to go to his flagship restaurant, vetri, but that would involve almost a mortgage payment. i’m not kidding (speaking as someone whose mortgage payment reflects a house purchased in 1989). vetri has a prix fixe tasting menu that costs $155 per person. yep, $155 per person. you can add wine pairings for $90 which will buy you 1.5 glasses of wine or you can purchase a bottle, which could run you about the same or substantially more. so you spend $310 for the food, say another $100 for the wine, $90 or so for tip and another $30 for parking or $60 for uber ride.

clearly, if you’re charging that kind of dough for a meal, the meal had better be every superlative anyone can think of (and maybe even then some). understandably, vetri he wants fine dining to have a different rating scale than other dining and he wants the food writer and reader to be as invested in all of his magnificence as he is.

not surprisingly, food writers piled on in retaliation against vetri and yet another food fight began.

at the end of the day, though, this is whole lot of whining and fighting over a simple necessity (food and nourishment) that has been turned into not just a first world problem, but a first world problem for the fraction of a percent who would be able to luxuriate in vetri’s bastion of fine dining.

while vetri spends his time whining about how food journalism is as stale as day old bread, i wonder how much of the world’s hungry belly would gladly accept that day old bread.

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