Friday, September 29, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If I have to wake up to another sunny day I am going to freak out.

Living in California has its perks. Day after day of beautiful weather. Normally I love it.

This year.. I just can not take another day. I ache for rain. I want it to roll over me like a cloud of depression. So I can rest.

So maybe the neighbors dog will stop waking me up at 5:30 in the morning. So maybe my husband and I can lay around all weekend and do nothing. Blissful nothing.

When we bought this house we thought we would rest. It wasn't really the condemned house we normally like. If I'm just going to rip everything out why buy something nice?
It did have its issues... Like these rocks.

Why do old people do this? And what is up with that Christmas tree in the middle? It wasn't even a soft one. It had needles that would go through work gloves. Frankly most of the courtyard was a fire hazard. The Christmas tree, and that pine tree in the back which over-hung the roof.

This is what it took to get rid of them.

But that damn Christmas tree still existed. It had its own water source. And all those lovely looking rose-bushes. Millions and millions of rose-bushes.

It all had to go.

Now I have another load of rocks in my driveway. They have been there for almost two weeks. They came from the backyard. I haven't seen my contractors in 2 days, and I just want to rest.

There is no rain in sight.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A lucky shot.

Do you dream in HD?

At long last....we are the proud (maybe I shouldn't say that so soon) owners of an HD Tivo Series 3 from Weeknees. Step one? Call Comcast. My husband did this to prevent further blood-letting. Mine... theirs... pick one.

So far so good actually. They understood we needed cablecards seen here(scroll to the bottom, his formatting is off), and knew what we were talking about. We got a speedy appointment. This Thursday. I so want to get excited about seeing the pocks on my favorite stars faces without having to endure commercials. But I know something will piss me off. Most likely Comcast. But I do have to give them props. So far - no annoyance. In the California inland Bay Area they don't seem to be charging for the cable-cards. They are charging a 17 buck roll the truck fee. Seems fair.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This is not an illusion.

Things have been crazy, and I haven't had much time to make entries. So I am going to just add a silly bunny event. My girl used to play in this tube when she was a baby. I was convinced she wouldn't be able to fit into it. She obviously thought she could, and managed to stretch her whole body to get into the tube.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

10 Stages of Grief with Alienware

I know... you are probably saying "Wait, there are only 5."

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance.

On the Kubler-Ross scale, I think I am somewhere between stages 2 and 4. Now when it comes to ordering an Alienware machine. There are 10 stages. I apparently am also stuck somewhere between 2-4.

Yesterday they sent me an email saying "buck up Sweetie, we got your payment". Which actually sort of pisses me off. Since it has been 5 weeks. And no... I don't really appreciate your stage 2 rules. Because it doesn't take 5 weeks to verify payment information.

Besides my credit card is the one who is suppose to protect me from fraud. They do a really good job too. My credit card company once disconnected the card just because my husband and I were using it in different towns. I use this card specifically for that reason.

Alienware is just suppose to take my f-ing order. And Oh yeah... Didn't I just get an email on the 6th saying,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 3:21:10 PM
Your system is now in production. If you have any questions concerning your order status, please do not hesitate to contact us by replying to this e-mail. You may also click on the following link to view your order status online, real-time, 24 hours a day, any day:

Oh yeah! I did.. see it's right there.

They are so close to loosing my order.

Alienware has this goofy system where they make it seem like you are trying to get through levels on a video game. At first it was a little charming.. now it is just irritating.

Phase 1: (Order Confirmation)

Phase 2: (Billing/Finance)Your order has been validated and is waiting payment processing. While in this stage we are confirming any credit card and/or payment information for security purposes. Please understand that this phase is necessary as it will protect you the customer from any fraudulent transactions. We observe very strict security guidelines and hope you will appreciate our efforts. Note: Your method of payment and other factors may influence how quickly we can build your PC.

Phase 3: (Payment Processed)

Phase 4: (Pre-Production)

Phase 5: (Production Phase 1 - Assembly)

Phase 6: (Production Phase 2 - Integration)

Phase 7: (Production Phase 3 – System Testing)

Phase 8: (Production Phase 4 - Quality Control)

Phase 9: (Shipping)

Phase 10: (Order Shipped)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

No RoboNexus this year?

I'm starting to become reasonably sure there isn't going to be a RoboNexus this year. Normally it happens the first week of October. The RoboNexus web-site has yet to be updated, and that seems weird for an event of its size.

Lately I've noticed a rivalry between the commercial robotics market (i.e. those making rolling robots), and the hobbyist robot underground (i.e. those who make mainly walking robots).

Clearly there is some rift between iRobot and the hobbyist culture that made up half of RoboNexus.

From The Register.
"During his keynote presentation, the angular Angle noted that the "robot demo industry is doing just fine." Groups focusing on making walking robots and the like "have substantially slowed the industry."

He goes on to say.

"The industry does not need hype," Angle told The Register in an interview. "It needs good business and good products. I want the industry to be taken seriously. Saying walking robots are a distraction is about saying the industry doesn't need smoke and mirrors to be a fantastic industry."

I also experienced this first hand when I went to the Robogames in June.

The funniest thing about the show I have to admit, was a guy I talked to briefly who was working on this bot. (Sorry, this is the best picture I could find) He asked what had brought me to the show. I replied I had been watching iRobot for a few years now. Which he seems to scoff at. Alright fine... I see his lack of fondness for them. I say well... "they do sponsor a lot of events that feature robot technology". "Those are rolling robots" he says" not walking robots. True. I say that walking robots are a much more complicated creature. Make some niceties and scuttle away.

I'm curious if the robotic industry is going through some kind of identity crisis. Like Lollapalloza did. All of a sudden making money pushes you out of the art-for-arts-sake fringe, and your peers start complaining you're selling out. (Those capitalist bastards!)

Even though the two groups seem to be splintering, I think they need each other. The hobbyists need the commercial side for exposure and funds to put on shows. The commercial side needs the hobbyists for the wow factor. I hope these two groups kiss and make up soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does everything have to get so f-ed up?

Why is it that most people don't know they are crossing a line until after the damage has been done? And so it goes this week...

I blame this new dryer. Even though it tries to make me happy with ring-tone sounds when it is done.

Our old dryer was costing us a huge amount of money in utilities. It wouldn't shut off at the end of it's cycle. It would just spin for hours. I figured a new dryer would pay for itself within a year. But before replacing the dryer itself, I wanted to redo the laundry room floor. I didn't want to have to haul the new dryer out again later to replace the tile.

So we brought our home-improvement guys back. They have worked for us before at our old house. And frankly, they saved our asses, allowing us to get our old house ready for sale before the housing market got really sour.

The first week I was ecstatic.

On day 6, they brought in an extra guy. No biggy. They were laying tile at that point.

Day 7, I hear the new guy talking non-stop for a few hours. The kind of uninterrupted conversation that is hard to pull off if you are actually doing something. I look in from time to time and I see they had been there four hours and only got a 2 foot by 5 foot area of wall textured. Finally I get pissed and walk out to the garage where they had migrated and were basically sitting around screwing off. I know I am a ballbreaker and all... but hell, it doesn't take 3 guys to texture an area that big. And you certainly don't get to be exhausted by it. The new guy goes back to chatting away.

I flat out say "we've got a problem". They seem surprised, and try to make explanations about how they needed to wait for the texture to dry. I say " I need three guys for a 2x5 foot area"? Why am I paying this third guy when I see that only two of you are working. This new guy is just standing around talking. I remind them I am paying them a lot of money.

They all get to work, and the atmosphere has changed. For the next two days they are doing better, but they still really don't need this third guy.

For some jobs adding more people doesn't produce more results. The room is only 5x10 feet. Mostly you are just getting in the way of each other.

Now, I know I complain about a lot of things... but my husband and I are also very generous to people who do a good job for us. That is our only feedback mechanism. If you treat us well... and do a good job, we reward you.

For instance recently I gave a 50% tip to someone who came in to rip out some trees and shrubbery out of this age consumed house. The quotes I got from other contractors were way above his. So I tipped him 500 dollars because he did a fantastic job, and didn't annoy me. The guy got a big tip and I still felt I got a deal.

So, I feel particularly pissed at this point because I have treated these guys really well. I provide drinks, and buy lunch at least half the time.

Not to mention new guy thinks he can spit in my garage. I'm also off the chart torqued that when they use my bathroom, these men can't aim their wankers, and I have to clean up after them. That shit f-ing pisses me off.

So my guys are gone now. And it sucks, because we really liked them. They do a really good job. But they f-ed it up by taking advantage of my generosity. They were suppose to put in cabinets. I told them to forget it. I still paid them close to what they quoted me because they did a good job on the rest of it. I hope it was worth if for them, because we aren't inviting them back.

This is the computer mock-up my husband did.

This is what it looks like right now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Public Masturbation not a good idea? Hmmmmm... ya think?

We now have gotten to a place where everyone is so accepting of an individuals personality ticks, that public masturbation is a protected freedom.

Masturbation epidemic at SJPL
Jim Faith writes "This article from the San Jose State Daily Spartan, "Some patrons use privacy screens to view pornography," and descibes the situation caused by privacy screens. As on library worker says, "we call them porno screens." Sgt. John Laws, of the San Jose State University Police Department, said people using the privacy screens 'sometimes get carried away' and are caught masturbating at the computers." ---- I think the library needs to start equiping the stations with jars of vasoline and boxes of kleenex, and issue the librarians rubber gloves and lysol spayers.--

Wow... I knew we were progressive around here, but did I miss a memo? Far be it for me to step on your freedom of "expression". And you know it is always going to be some funky penis you would never want to see in the first place. Can't we donate some IPODS or something so they can at least masturbate in the Public Library bathrooms like normal people.

This weekend I think my neighbor died.

When we first moved in, our neighbor was pretty stand-out-ish, because he had this wild mullet. Especially for a man his age. I thought people grew out of those things. He also had intense blue eyes, but wore obvious color contacts that made his eyes seem un-naturally blue. We grew to understand he was a nascar fan, which is sort of odd in this neighborhood of retired grey hairs.

It was fairly obvious he had previous problems with his heart. He had a zipper scar that emerged from his muscle-tee. We have lived here four months, and have had meager interactions. He was a hardworking man, who even though he had retired helped his buddy out in construction. He was often popping his head over the fence to see what we were working on.

He did that just yesterday afternoon in fact.

He was also always working on something. He seemed like a nice enough man. And now we think he is dead.

My husband and I have become accustom to hearing fire engines come down our street. There are a lot of elderly couples in our immediate area. This is the type of neighborhood where nothing has probably changed for 20 years. These are the types of houses that no one moves from, and the only time you can buy one is when someone dies. It must have been alarming for them when we moved in and immediately starting ripping everything in sight out.

Somehow when you have been through a lot of tragedy, you just intrinsically know the sound of a fire engine. Even when the siren isn't blaring, the engine sound is so distinct. Somehow that sound is just etched in your brain.

So last night around 9:45 we noted a truck driving down our road. A fire-truck. This is something that actually happens about one or two times a month it seems. About 20 minutes later when I didn't hear the truck leave, I went out to investigate. I went to look out the front window and see if there were any neighbors outside. None of them were outside, but I could see fire-trucks lights reflecting off of the houses. This was close. But I still didn't see any neighbors out.

I conferred with my husband for about 5 minutes about how weird it was that none of the neighbors were out, with each of their houses were lit up like Christmas tree's. It has been about 25 minutes by that time, and the truck was still there.

I walked to the edge of our driveway, and I could see the siren lights bouncing off objects, but not the truck itself. But I could see that it was just right around the corner. We live second from the end of a block. I cross our street and look around the corner, and see they are parked right in front of our neighbors' house. We face one street and they face another. Sort of like an L. I run back into the house to tell my husband.

Trying to be discrete my husband crosses the street with me again, and there is an ambulance which has arrived at the house. It just showed up without sirens. By the time they all leave it has been over 45 minutes. They leave like they arrived, without sirens.

Now part of me wants to say that I am over-reacting. But my head says those all are really bad signs. And now I am officially in nosy neighbor mode. Everyday I have been listening to hear his voice or his whistle as he calls for his dogs. Or hear him working on something. It has been quiet.

The only neighbors I know... don't really know them. Even though they all have lived here for several decades. So all I can do is hope I am wrong.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Could CNET be listening to my thoughts?

I am under no illusion that anyone reads this blog. But something really odd happened this weekend. For the first time ever, the sound on CNET's tips for Digital Living was normal. How could this happen?

I'm not ready to let them off the hook yet, because it has only been one show. But if my post somehow popped up on CNET's RSS feed. I noticed. The sound is so much better. The other thing is ..... I don't remember them having a CNET TV tab on their web-site.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Those On-Star commercials are real.

I could never blog about this unless the outcome was good. Which it was. If it weren't, I'd be sobbing in a crumpled little ball.

This is how the scenario goes...

Last night I was a few blocks from my house. At a corner on the same side I was driving - I notice this woman clutching what looked to be like an 11 year old boy. When I say clutching, I mean it looked like she was holding onto him for dear life.

Later I would find out she was. The child was autistic. She was trying desperately to get keep the child from reacting to a dog. This scene for obvious reasons aroused my attention. The count-down went like this: I looked at them, noted it was really odd. Looked back at the road, and a big golden retriever is at my front right quarter panel. The same side the woman and this kid are on. Must have only been two seconds and I hit the dog. I was only able to slow down for about 3 feet when I was just on him. I was positive I was going to roll right over him. I hit the dog in a way that caused it to roll over like four times. I was sure the dog wouldn't get up.

The dog does get up, and runs to the lady and her kid on the corner. I run out of my car to ask if it is the lady's dog. She tells me, and the large forming crowd, it had been following her for blocks. Running circles around her and the child. By this time the dog is really bleeding, and everyone is on the phone to the police. I'm freaking out. The dog has no tags, and I am sure this dog is going to die. At one point a witness said she thought the dog was coughing up blood, and she thought it had a broken hip. I'm freaking out.. Did I mention that. All I can think is that someone's family is going to be crushed.

The police department finally made it obvious they weren't coming. Apparently hitting a dog in the street isn't a crime, so they weren't coming. Oh yeah... and they don't rescue squirrels either. They didn't say that.. but you get the idea. I at least thought they would want to make a report. Or take my information. Something.

So my husband is now on his way home from another town an hour away. He is telling me to call our vet and get the emergency clinic number. But at this point I am dealing with the witnesses and the dog. Trying to get the police to come, and having a complete meltdown. I was shaking.. apologizing to the woman who had the autistic child who saw the accident. I was a mess.

Later I find out my husband didn't want to pull off the freeway to look the numbers up for animal ER. I have made him completely panicky. All he wants to do is get to me. His only thought "must get to wife".

So he tries On-star. Tells them the scenario. Remember my husband is not in the affected car, and he is in a completely different town. On-Star at first couldn't find any information. So my husband asks them if they could call our vet line, who is closed - and get the emergency number for him. They actually did. They even connected him to animal emergency from the number they got from our vet. When he told me this after all the drama had died down I was completely amazed. I mean... I don't really think this falls under their umbrella of service.

Even if we never use the service again for an emergency.... it is absolutely worth every penny we pay for it.

Now back to the dog... a very nice lady and I got him to the ER in a different town. All the ones in our town close at 5:00. None of the witnesses thought I should drive. They all seemed more freaked out by my anxiety than the dog. Even though we all thought the dog would die. The ER doc checked him. Can you believe the dog was okay. I was shocked. I mean... I hit him at around 25 miles an hour. I think the limit is 30.

The vet said the dog looked like one of the better dogs they had ever seen for getting hit at 25 miles an hour. He had bitten his tongue. That was where all the blood was coming from. The exam didn't show any broken bones or internal bleeding. I still can't believe I didn't kill that dog. All I can say selfishly, I am hugely glad the dog was okay. I didn't want to have to live with that crap in my head. I'm neurotic enough.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I want to have your babies.

Last night something in my girls' head switched. She decided she knew me long enough, and that she wanted to have my babies.

I haven't really ever gotten why female bunnies try to hump on you like male bunnies. But they do.... and she did.

I'm sort of bummed about it, because I had this crazy idea I wouldn't neuter her. She is kind of too sweet. Which I really hate to gush about because bunnies are a very expensive pet to have.

Nothing can go wrong for years, then Bam. You are living in a cardboard box because they needed some expensive whatever, and the bunnies are nibbling the corners of the box.

Everything rational tells me to neuter like all the others.. but I don't really want to.

Nothing says I have way too much money like.....

Putting suede all over the inside of your brand spanking new Pontiac Solstice.

Amazingly crap-tacular.

Is this really that unusual?

This morning I wanted to take advantage of the deal that On-Star has with Verizon Wireless. I bet you think I am going to bitch about the Verizon customer support. Nope... I know a lot of people have problems, but the customer support has always been really good to us. So far (crossing fingers).

The problem is as follows:
My husband is primary on the contract. Despite both of us wanting to be on the contract, and giving them both of our SSN's. So each time I have to gain access to the account, they have to track my husband down and "ask his permission". What.. am I twelve?

Now there are many things that are in my husbands name, and I have to get his permission to access, but all of these things so far have had an ability to give a blanket permission slip. And let me tell is a collosally bigger deal than cell phone information.

Before you start thinking.. "well, I dont want my spouse to know bla bla bla". I understand. I fully support you. Though according to Verizon I can put in a change of liability slip, and take over what I imagine is the responsibility for defaulting on the cell phone bill. So...the issue isn't really spousal privacy.

Oh... and correct me if I am wrong... the government already thinks I am equally responsible. If he defaults you bet your ass they are coming after me.

Then of course.. because we are both adults, that limits his ability to independantly gain access to the account.

So I make absolutely sure.. the company already took both of our SSN's, there is no way both of our names can be on the account and we don't have to do this little dance. No can do. RIDICULOUS! I'm saving you a step of having to hunt my ass down. Why does everything have to be so difficult?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Popped up in the yard.

One of the neat things about moving into a new house is seeing what pops up in the yard. I am not sure these are quite my thing... but it is a fabulous respite of having to get rid of the zillions of rose bushes that exist here. I love rose bushes... but wow.. this woman went on a rose bush bender. I feel really bad about doing it, because the elderly lady who lived here must have loved them. She kept all the dog tags on and everything. But I have to draw my line at like 20. Even that is way above my tolerance, but some of them are really old specimins.

People with mock necks - shouldn't wear mock turtlenecks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why won't they just tell me they don't want my money?

Two weeks ago I put in an order for an Alienware machine. Like this one.

I did a bunch of research, and found a lot of horrible bad stories about Alienware support. But then... I found a ton of horrible stories about Dell, and Sony. So I figured if I was going to be in hell.. it might as well be cool hell.

First I call up sales.. and tell them I have seen some crazy horrible stories on the Internet and they need to convince me why I should buy one of their machines. Kind of stupid, but I always hope those calls are being recorded. When I know they probably aren't. Plus, I wanted my file to read "difficult" early. Somehow I went insane and placed an order.

Okay, so we just sold a house and have some unusual disposable income. At least I thought. I mean.. Even the bottom-line Alien machine isn't cheap. Sort of like a Porsche Boxster vs. a 911 . Both pretty damn expensive. I certainly didn't think a ton of people are plunking down this kind of money when (heavy sarcasm) the "economy" is so bad. I'm thinking the 3rd quarter is a period when they want to boost sales. It is easy to sell machines at Christmas.

Week one: I get an email.

There will be a slight delay in your Alienware order, because the part(s) listed below are temporarily back-ordered. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and assure you that we are doing everything in our power to expedite the process of obtaining the part(s). Once the part(s) have been obtained, your order will be processed.

1- NEC 16X DUAL LAYER DVD±R/W RECORDER ......................... Expected Date:
To be announced

I'm bummed.. but no biggy. I'm just going to call and have them delete the DVDR, and have them ship the machine. When I call however.. they tell me they are getting the parts in that afternoon. Al-right....whatever. I'm back in my happy zone.

Week 2. (yesterday) I get an email.

I am writing to you from Alienware Corporation to inform you on the status of your new Alienware P2 system. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming product demand, Alienware is experiencing delays in shipping your system in a timely manner.

Because of this shipping setback, Alienware would like to propose two options:

The first is modifying your existing order to remove the AlienFX system lighting control, and opt for a standard lighting choice of Red, Blue, Green, Turquoise, Yellow, White, or Purple. Choosing this option will allow Alienware to ship your system within 7 to 8 business days, as well as refund the original $150 option price to your order for the AlienFX system lighting control feature.

As a second option, if you would like to wait for the availability of AlienFX to be applied to your system order, Alienware will extend and apply free shipping, a $99 value, to the cost of your system. If you opt to wait for AlienFX to be applied to your order, your new Alienware P2 system should arrive within 4 weeks of the above date.

Um....hey guys...I might be less hissabitchy if you would have just said something when I placed the order. Instead you send me email every time you run out of twist ties. Now, like every purchase I have made for the last 6 months I wonder who the hell is spending this kind of money.. because I can't believe I am. Do I have to mention again how the economy is suppose to be bad. Oh yeah.. I think I might have mentioned that.

So I call Alienware today, and basically tell them I'm going to cancel my order. What good is it have a super cool machine, when, um... you never get it. I'm just going with another company. Somehow they convince me to stay by saying they will note my account, and it will only be 2 weeks instead of 4. I make sure to tell them if I get another email that I am absolutely going to cancel my order, and they had better note my account. I mean... come on! They are estimating an outset of 6 weeks. Hey... is this business one guy sitting in a garage assembling machines?

How could there be overwhelming demand when these are pretty high end machines.... and the other computer companies are actually scaling back revenues. "allegedly"

I don't know... if they don't need my business... why not just say that. Something like "Hey man.. we're good - we don't need your money". That way we can stop this bitching, and I can move on.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Is it just me?

Lately I have been seeing a huge increase in the following driving-related behaviors, and I can't decide which ones pisses me off more than the other.

Behavior #1: pedestrians who refuse to speed up when you are waiting for them to cross. As a matter of a fact, they seem to take the lackadaisical approach of cows grazing. Sort of a pedestrian zombie walk. Because apparently my time is less important than theirs is, and I should be forced to wait for them to cross. Walking however f-ing slow they choose.

I guess it is just me, but I thought there was some type of courtesy feedback. I politely wave for you to cross in front of me... and you showed me that you appreciated not having to wait for me to pass by walking slightly faster to cross. Now before you give me the stink-eye, I know some people are unable to walk briskly. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about people who are more oblivious to traffic than squirrels. People who blunder into the street without even the merest thought of oncoming traffic.

Some of these people even combine the "scratching my balls after having a huge meal walk", with the " I'm a pedestrian, I don't have to look before I walk into the street". I can't even say how how many people I have seen...just step into the street without looking. One person recently had their hair completely obscuring her face on a windy day, and just walked out in front of me. Thankfully I was not speeding, but I was so close I did have to do a crazy avoidance maneuver.

It has gotten so bad, that when I hear of peds getting hit on the news.. my first response is that they probably didn't look before they walked into the street. Maybe they should look next time.

Behavior#2: People in the fast lane, with no one in front of them for literally a mile. Because the rest of the freeway is somewhat packed, they have camped out in the fast lane and refuse to let you pass. They manage to time their driving so there is almost no way to get around them. They form a perfect fast lane triangle so if they wanted to, they could get into the second lane and let me pass, and then get right back into the fast lane.

Visualize a car in front and behind on the right of the fast lane offenders car. No one beside them. Now.. I will admit.. I am on their ass.. but not so bad that people are break checking me. And you know what would get me off your ass? Letting me pass!

Now the really odd thing I have noticed? It is almost always someone in an old Toyota Camry like this, or Subaru Outback like this. Quite frequently the color is maroon. I dont know why this is. There must be some demographic for buying these cars I am not aware of and can't figure out.