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Archive for the ‘D'oh!’ Category

"For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee"

“For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

 

Jeez, what a way to go. You think you’re fixing a nice dinner of Indochinese Spitting Cobra for your customers, and then all of a sudden the snake decides he’s taking you with him:

A Chinese chef cooking a dish with cobra flesh was killed by the snake he had planned to eat — when the creature’s severed head chomped down on him first.

Peng Fan set the Indochinese spitting cobra’s head aside while chopping its body for a soup, the Mirror newspaper reported.

But when he tried to toss the reptile’s head in the trash 20 minutes later, it bit him, injecting him with its fast-acting venom.

Apparently a snake’s head can live for up to an hour separated from its body. I call that an “important safety tip.”

Best line goes to one of the customer’s, though, after hearing the chef’s screams:

After we heard that, we did not continue with our meal.

No, really?

PS: Yep, this poor neglected blog. Must pay more attention to it.

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Me, after this weekend

Me, after this weekend

 

Of course, I’ve had worse stretches of days, but this has been among the worst in a good while.

The plan had been to take last Wednesday and Thursday off to…

a) Get my boss to stop nagging me to take time off (we can only accumulate so much);
b) Take advantage of the quiet intersession period at UCLA and the Friday state holiday;
c) And just to do things that I’d like to do, instead of what I have to do, and enjoy a five-day weekend.

Silly me.

Instead, what happened was:

I got sick for the first three days with a miserable cold. Only started getting better yesterday.

Got turned down for an apartment I wanted because I don’t make enough money, even though it’s less expensive than where I live. As you can imagine, I enjoy being told that, at age 55, I’m too poor to live in a distinctly average apartment, and I want to thank my employers, the UCLA Library System. While you hire more and more upper management, staff aren’t paid enough to live on their own in decent surroundings. Love you, too.

That rejection, of course, happened after I paid $635 for a deposit and credit check fee. I’ve been promised the $600 deposit back, but the credit check fee is “iffier.” If they had already started the check, then I’m S.O.L. Considering only less than an hour went by between my application and learning I’m too much of a peasant for them, I had better be refunded that, too.

Oh, and —yay me!!— I lost my Kindle Fire. (Pause. Heavy sigh.) Yes, you read that right. Sometime Saturday, while shopping at either Costco or the Albertson’s next door, I must have become distracted and left it in the cart or on the counter. Called them, but neither lost and found had it. If the apartment failure was embarrassing, this one is heartbreaking. That was a gift from a friend, and anyone who knows me knows how attached I was to it. It literally went almost everywhere with me. And now I’ve stupidly lost it. I’ve de-registered it, so no one can buy stuff on my account, but I really hadn’t planned on the expense of buying a new one — oh, and a new over-priced case, too.

(Secretly, I blame the late, lamented Notespark synched notepad applet and Apple computers. If Notespark hadn’t gone out of business, I could still have used it for my shopping lists, instead of Evernote. And if Apple hadn’t made my iPod Touch obsolete with its iOS upgrades, then I could have used Evernote on my iPod Touch, which can be slipped into my shirt pocket, instead of my Kindle Fire, which has to be placed in the basket while shopping. And then forgotten. See? It’s not my fault.)

Like I told a friend, if this keeps up, I may start to get cranky.

As it is, the weekend has a few hours to go. I wonder what else can happen?

I’d better not ask.

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"Banned by Nanny State"

“Banned by Nanny State”

I want to congratulate my city councilman, Mike Bonin, for his support of Los Angeles’ ban on plastic grocery bags.

You see, earlier this evening, I was at my local Albertson’s (1). While there, I had trouble finding a handbasket to hold the items I was buying. The manager saw me and came up to apologize. You see, they were low on baskets and had to order 200 more because…

PEOPLE WERE STEALING THE BASKETS BECAUSE OF THE STUPID BAG BAN!!!

Which phenomenon, by the way, has happened before.

Knowing our city council, they’ll probably pass an ordinance against stealing the baskets, rather than admit their mistake and rescind the bag ban.

Great work, guys.

Note:
(1) Sepulveda and Palms, if you want to know where the cool kids shop.

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"Banned by Nanny State"

“Banned by Nanny State”

I’ve already made clear my opposition to Los Angeles’ ban on plastic shopping bags handed out by stores with your purchase. Now, here’s an example of why that law is just plain stupid:

Today I had to stop at the grocery store to pick up some vegetables for dinner. (Broccoli crowns, to be precise.) I did not have my “environmentally friendly” (but health-hazardy) reusable bag with me. As I ride the bus to and from work  (environmentally friendly! Yay, me!), I didn’t have one with me. So my choice was to either walk all the way home, get a bag, come back, and walk home again, or just go inside, buy the broc, and “go bagless.” I chose the latter.

Kind of. You see, I still had a Dread Plastic Bag with me: the transparent plastic bag we put our vegetables in before buying them, which I used to carry the crowns home in.

So what’s the point of the ban, man?

Repeal it.

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"King & Maxwell"

“King & Maxwell”

As a wannabe writer, I have certain pet peeves, things I would never do in my own writing and hate to see in TV shows I’m following. They’re what I call “lazy writing” and they show a lack of respect for the craft, for the performers, and the audience. One among them is putting the main character in danger of their life, maybe about to be dropped into a pool of sharks by an evil villain.

Now, think about it: this is lazy because you know they’ll never kill the star of the show. I mean, give me a break. You’re ABC and you’re paying Nathan Fillion millions to star in “Castle,” for whose character the show is named and because of whom people watch, and you want me to believe there’s a serious chance the bad guy is going to gun him down? Puh-leeze. Any writer who proposed that would be fired the moment the show runner realized he’s serious. Sure, some among the audience watch to see what clever way the writers will rescue the hero, but, without the genuine threat of harm, it’s really just a cliché way to keep to keep viewers from changing channels.

But, you know what’s worse? When writers have the characters do something mind-numbingly stupid in order to get to that “star in danger” moment.

Case in point: Monday night’s episode of King & Maxwell, the fifth in their premier season. Starring Jon Tenney as Sean King and Rebecca Romijn as Michelle Maxwell, two former Secret Service agents now working as private eyes. The first four episodes were enjoyable, albeit not stellar, but last Monday night… (spoiler warning)

Here’s the set-up. “Maxwell,” (Romijn) is captured by the killer and held at gunpoint by him in a car. Oh no! Heroine in danger! But wait! She tricks him, surprises him, beats the crap out of him! Heroine wins!! Now all she has to do is…

Get out of the car and run off into the woods, leaving him his gun? WTF??

She could have done anything: get his gun. Grab his cuffs and handcuff him. Keep beating him until he’s unconscious and then call for help. Anything… anything!… except run away and leave him his gun so he could recover and pursue her, putting her in, yes, mortal danger, setting up a last-second hackneyed rescue by her partner.

Like I said, lazy, easy-way-out writing that cheats the craft, the show, the performers, and the audience. I’d like to think Romijn felt like an idiot having to do that scene.

I almost swore off the show right there, but I like it enough to give it some more time.

But not much.

Okay, “what should they have done” is a fair question, and I’ll give you a fair answer. Instead of putting the stars in mortal jeopardy, have the killer threaten a likable supporting character who is nonetheless expendable for being minor. This is cable (TNT), so the risk of supporting character death is reasonable. Maybe it’s happened before. The point is, the audience will believe it, the heroes still face danger and risk (of failure), and then no one is treated like a sucker.

See how easy it is?

Now, King & Maxwell writers: you try it.

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satire computer smash

Really, it won’t leave me alone.

Background: A few days ago, Amazon “upgraded” it’s Cloud Drive software, changes that very much annoyed me. A helpful individual (not an Amazon employee) on the Help Board pointed me to a way to make Cloud Drive at least stop doing the Annoying Thing. Once that problem was safely solved, I uninstalled Cloud Drive through the Win 7 control panel, planning to only access it via the web interface. Problem solved, hero gets the girl, movie ends, right?

It’s baaaaack.

Tonight, when I logged in to Windows, a message appeared asking me to log into my Cloud Drive account, and there was the Cloud Drive icon in my System Tray, just as if nothing had happened…

It. Won’t. Die.

Really. There’s no trace of it in control panel, nor can I find it installed anywhere in the program directories, but it does appear under “Favorites” in the File|Open dialog.

I never knew Amazon was in the undead virus creation business.

Anyway, I’ve posted another question to the help forum. We’ll see what comes up.

And, Amazon? I’m annoyed. Very, very annoyed.

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"WTF??"

“WTF??”

A bit of background: For a while I was using Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) for my offsite backup, but I decided I didn’t like having all my eggs (email, offline storage, online doc creation, photos) with one company, particularly one that has a tendency to regularly annoy me, such as…. Google.

So, when Amazon offered 5 free GBs of storage to go with my Prime account, I decided to buy 20 GB and make that my offsite backup, diversity of vendors having its attractions. All was fine until last night when I logged in after getting home and saw a message from Amazon that an upgrade was available and asking for permission to install it.

“What could go wrong,” I should have thought.

Apparently they’ve “improved” the software. Now it copies the folder structure of your Amazon Cloud Drive to your  hard drive, and then it downloads copies of all the files you’ve uploaded to that new, local “Cloud Drive.” (Yes, that’s what the top level of the new directory structure is called.) Now, if I want to upload files to the Amazon Cloud Drive, I can copy them to the corresponding folder on the local “cloud drive” and they will be synched to the server. And if I upload directly to my Amazon Cloud Drive, they’ll be synched to my local “cloud drive.”

If the downloading of all files to my hard drive struck you as odd, you’re not alone. I tested my suspicions by copying a photo I’d never uploaded to the local Cloud Drive’s “photos” folder; it was synched to the server no problem. Then I deleted the copy from the local Cloud Drive and…

It was instantly deleted from the server, too.

I tested this several times, including uploading directly to the server and letting it synch to the local Cloud Drive, and the result was always the same: If I want to keep a copy of a file on the server-side Amazon Cloud Drive, I have to keep it in the local hard drive version, too. On top of this, the original file(s) is in its original location, too, so now I have three copies!

As you can imagine, this left me thinking “Amazon, what were you thinking?”

Space itself isn’t the issue for me: I have a 1.5 TB drive that’s barely 25% full and I’ve used only 5GB of my Cloud Drive allocation, so the downloaded copies barely register.

But the whole nonsensical design annoys the heck out of me. Dropbox, a popular file-sharing/storage service, also creates a local “Dropbox” directory that then synchs to their servers. But it’s basically a fancy “copy” command — it doesn’t create a new file that must stay on your hard drive, if you want to keep the server-side copy available.

But, with this latest iteration from Amazon, they’ve wrecked any utility this has for me as an offsite backup; why would I want to backup anything to their “Cloud,” when it forces me to keep more and more duplicates on the local hard drive? I’m better off saving the money and relying on my external hard drive. (I like the dual redundancy of local and offsite backups, though.)

I wrote Amazon about this, thinking it’s a bug they’re fixing, but, no. In their reply, the customer service droid told me:

I’m so sorry to hear about the disappointment the new cloud drive application update has caused to you. When a file or folder is deleted from the Cloud Drive folder on your computer, it will also be removed from Cloud Drive.

That is more than lame. That is just stupid. Bad, bad design.

A user on Amazon’s “general help” board suggested a work-around that I’ll try tonight. But, unless Amazon fixes this, I’m looking for another offsite storage service.

PS: Amazon provides great services, but you have to wonder about their software design choices. Not just in this Cloud Drive problem I’ve described, but in the Kindle Fire, too. I love my Fire, as I’ve mentioned, but the failure to implement “collections” is just inexplicable. Or, if it is, Amazon isn’t telling anyone what the explanation is.

PPS: I forgot to mention — Soon after the installation of the new, improved Cloud Drive software, I discovered my Kindle for PC software (another Amazon product) was gone. Vanished. Utterly deleted. Now, I can’t swear the Cloud Drive installation caused the KfPC deletion, since I hadn’t used it for a few days, but the coincidence (and what I’ve heard of other glitches with Amazon software) is pretty suggestive.

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