Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy f-ing Halloween.

You see folks... I'm in a really bad mood. My government has turned against me because I vote and drive. I soon will be serving Jury Duty on trials for people dodging jury duty. Because they are just being that hard-core.

Okay.. am I the only one who thinks it is a little crazy to have to go up to a high crime area on Halloween? I would take my camera, but I am a little nervous of being mugged. I'm not being a complete baby here.. the police don't even want to work in this town. They have had constant recruiting problems. And there are some places the police wont even go in unless there is a murder. How f-ed up is it that I have to go to the courthouse on Halloween of all days?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why do these people drive in the fastlane?

I know this is a horrible fuzzy photo. I'd like to say it is to protect my identity. Truthfully, my husband felt he had to get in front of this guy or forever be stuck behind him. You'd think he was trying to pass that truck in the middle lane. Yeah... not so much.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves right now. You can see no one is in front of him right?

Why is it people camp out in the fast lane going slightly slower than the rest of traffic? They refuse to move. Not to mention, you have to crawl up on middle lane guys ass to get by the person in the fast lane.

This freeway was actually pretty empty. Usually this guy is in the fast lane of a packed freeway with no cars in front of him for honestly a mile.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Evil Pumpkin Snowman.

This is what you get when it never stops being sunny.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

One of these things is not like the other.

I was checking out the robotic vacuum display today at a Fry's Electronics. At first when I saw this Cleanmate 365, I thought it was an iRobot product. I didn't remember this model, and looked all over the box to see who made it. Couldn't find a manufacturer anywhere. But it was certainly trying to pass itself off as a Roomba. Most people would have thought they bought a Roomba until they had gotten it home.

Click to enlarge.

Turns out it is made by Metapo. Of all the stupid names... Metapoo? I think it is super funny under the companies news section is reads....

"We have received an overwhelmingly positive response after our CleanMate product announcement at the 2005 CES Show in Las Vegas".

I guess sense the response must not have stayed as positive if Metapo is trying to pass themselves off as a Roomba.

And this deception was fully intended. This was the line of vacuum cleaners Fry's Electronics sells. Metapo could have very easily had their own display.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A little Celebrity watching.

Night before last we took a little time to visit a local film festival.

I wouldn't consider myself a real fan of too many celebrities. I mean.. I watch TV, but being a real fan just isn't my thing too much. When I heard that Adrianne Curry and Christopher Knight would be hosting the event, I thought it would be fun to go. Because I admit.. I'm a reality show whore.

Okay.. the real reason we went is I was hoping for some celebrity primadonna meltdown. Actually, all the actors were really nice down to earth people. Even thought I admit, my husband had to point out all of them except Adrianne and Christopher. It sounds stupid, but I won't really watch very much TV made before the year 2000. My husband on the other hand is an old film buff.

So when we got there I set to trying to find celebrities at the pre-screening party.

My husband is very tall, so after going out on celebrity re-con missions I would come back and my husband would say "Clint Howard was right next to you". By this time, he was all the way on the other side of the room. After a little while we had staked out a little corner, and Clint Howard came and stood right next to us.

All of a sudden I became a little pussy. I am kind of situationally shy. My husband saved me by making small talk with him about a local golf course. Even though my husband doesn't play golf. But he didn't want to do the whole " Clint, loved you in this " routine. And I actually had the balls to ask him for a photo. IMDB.

Here is a shot of Ian Gomez. I sort of recognized him, but only after my husband pointed him out.

And one of A. J. Buckley who I didn't recognize at all, but I guess has been on the various CSI's.

Here is one of Art LeFluer.

And this guy... my husband tells me it is Kevin Kilner.

For some reason this girl was hanging around. I don't think she was famous.. but you have to love when someone is trying to pull off those Wizard of Oz shoes. She also stood out quite a bit because everyone else was in business attire. I think she was trying to get noticed.

After about an hour I was beginning to be bummed because - no Adrianne Curry (IMDB) and Christopher Knight. Pretty much the only reason I wanted to show up at all. We all filed into the theatre and to my delight they both show up. I managed to get these photo's.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dodging the Jury Duty Draft - Unsuccessfully

I've been down in the dumps for a couple of days. You see my country needs me. Oh wait... I mean county.

You see folks...I apparently am in some demographic that requires me to drive from the farthest end of the county, to almost the other side of the county. Somewhere close to 60 miles, in the most grid-locked traffic you can ever imagine. Without fail each and every year I get called up. I am always forced to go down to the courthouse at the opposite end of the county.

There is a courthouse one town over... but I guess we don't get enough murders to warrant anyone actually being summons there. At the other end of the county however, it is Murder Mecca. 114 murders at the beginning of October for Murder Mecca.

So, last night, I call to find that I am in the jury pool. FUCK. Every single time. I pray that tonight is one I can sleep. Being an insomniac one never knows from night to night.

This morning after making the hour and 40 minute drive I arrive at the courthouse. Which really is giving me an airport atmosphere without the excitement. They even make you take your shoes off to go through security.

I walk into the jury holding area, and the place is f-ing packed. I would guestimate maybe 500-700 people. Every chair is filled with people who are hating life. Except this one Berkeley hippy guy who was just happy to be anywhere. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. They must have to go through a lot of people to bring all the combatants to trial in Murder Mecca.

To keep the patrons from rioting they stick on one of those 1960's-eque motivational "why jury duty will make you feel better about yourself", short movies. It kind of gave me a flashback to the orientation I got once at a fast food job when I was a teenager. Despite it trying to convince everyone that it would be interesting, and you might create new friends - I looked around - no one was really moved.

After almost 2 hours my group is called to see the judge, and the person we might be judging. By this time I can see there is no way I am getting out of this and I begin hoping for a drug trial. I always get murder trails. They are always really f-ing long. And did I mention my commute? Best case an hour and a half.. worst case.. 2 hours - maybe more. Each way.

So we sit down to hear the "alleged" crimes. And I am not exaggerating here. It took a full 25 minutes for the judge to finish reading the allegations. Fuck, I think... this is going to be a long trial. And truth be told, I have already formed a bias. 3 defendants, one already a felon. (Yes.. I am a little biased by felonies. These are serious crimes for someone who already has a less than stellar history.) 3 people dead "allegedly". No wait.. they are dead, but maybe not by these guys. Lots of weapons, and drug trafficking charges.

The thing is... I'm probably not the ideal juror. I'm pretty laid back until you get to murder, then I have some strong views. Hopefully they won't want me.. They would be insane to want me. But what does it matter. Next year at precisely this same time I will be called again. Probably for a murder. Can't they look at my last questionairs and see that I'm not a good candidate for murder trials? It would save us all a lot of time.

Links to the other posts for this subject. Precursor. Part 1, Part2, Part 3, Part 4.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Okay, enough gooey bunny stuff.

More bitching about how people have done me wrong.

Apparently, I have a never ending supply of stories about companies pissing me off, or flat out wasting my time. It drives me nuts. I actually am not a demanding person.

With customer service satisfaction at an all time low, and companies not being able to figure out why they can't retain customers - I offer the following.

Why is it is so hard to say these simple words. "I don't have this in stock - I don't know when we will get it". See.. its easy.

Instead a company would rather take the order. Tell a customer they are going to have the item. Make them wait and never get the item or have it take and eternity. Companies don't seem to understand the risk/reward system.

This is mine. If you tell me you don't have an item, I will probably buy it from somewhere else... but I will shop from you again. If you tell me you are going to get the item, never do after making me wait - unless you are the last person on earth I will never shop from you again. There are just too many vendors.

I also don't understand why some companies don't care why they are loosing customers, nor do they try to figure out why.

Here is yet another example.

My husband and I had been trying to find a solution to put shelves in a bedroom closet so we can stick the computers in there. I wanted wire rack (like these), because well, it makes it harder for dust to collect under electronic items. The shelves would be heavy to ship so we went to the only place we could find locally to make sure they fit our needs. This place.

When we walked in warehouse the gal manning the desk asked us politely if we could come back in about 45 minutes. She needed to conduct a phone meeting and she was the only one there. We were fine with that. Since the place is about an hour away, we figured we would browse some of the stores that caught our eye on the way in.

After an hour we walked back into the warehouse and exchanged niceties. She thanked us and asked how we were doing. We said "fine how are you". The girl actually said "well, I still have a job". Which should have been a warning signal, but it is only one of those things that seems big in hindsight. It did strike me as odd, but I congratulated her. What else do you say to someone who says that?

We picked out what we wanted to buy, and went to place the order. Now I have to tell you the words "do you have this in stock" are always the first thing that comes out of my mouth. For each and every purchase these days. They didn't have our item at this location, but it could be shipped from LA. Outset 7-10 days. Alright.. we place the order. She would fax us the invoice. I took it to mean later that day.. but whatever.

The next day my husband calls because still no invoice.The gal seemed surprised we would be calling so soon, but again says it will be 7-10 days.

8 days later still no invoice. So my husband calls again. "Oh sorry dropped the ball, that order hasn't even been placed, and we can't order from this company without writing them a check. The only person who can do that is my boss and he is on vacation for a week". We now realize why she is so worried about her job. She may work for a f-ed up place, but it is her job to make sure orders get placed.

This is the kicker.. when my husband calls to cancel the order the girl is like "oh, okay - click". She hung up so fast he couldn't even complain.

The elusive tongue picture.

Today was a good day.

You see... I had to go to that horrible animal eye care place today for an appointment for Jane. She's the dark one pictured below.

All last night and this morning I had this horrible dread. I despise the place.

One side of the office is internal animal medicine. That is code for horrible things like cancer. The other side is eye care. So, you are just stuck in this room with people trying to save the lives or their pets, or trying to make sure their pets eyes don't explode. Completely serious. Last time I was there - that was one of the emergencies. And occasionally you are stuck watching the grief of a person who's pet didn't make it out of the internal medicine side.

It is just a crappy place to hang out. They are always double booked, and I am not very fond of the care givers. I do understand they must have a crappy job. And they always seem to have to do something that sends my girl Jane Doe into horrible pain.

Immediately when I walk in the door my dread rises. Standing room only. Again. I knew I should have called to see how their appointments were running. But before long I am actually able to get a seat and settle in for a long wait. After a while the curiosity gets the better of me, and I just have to ask.. " so wow, what's up with your pet"? Generally it is pretty obvious a pet is missing an eye or is the size of a grapefruit. But the reasons often are different.

To my surprise the waiting room participants were normal today. The place usually is filled with birkenstock wearing, tie-dye covered, Jerry Garcia hippies, who spend their days rescuing cats. Very similar to the crazy cat lady on the Simsons. Today... no one wanted to tell me how smart their pet was, and talk to the animal in baby talk. The room wasn't filled with small chi-wa-wa's with giant head cones. It was just blissfully normal. There was even a cat rescuer from a shelter.. but she was just so sane.

Now don't get me wrong.. I love hearing about peoples pets. Its just a lot of the times I've been in there, these people are a little extreme and a little off. I do always manage to learn something new. This is an eccentric place after all. For instance, today I learned that cats get herpies. And that there is a dog breed called a minpin. Miniature Doberman Pincher. Honestly, my girl Jane, who is a dwarf bunny weighed as much as this dog. I thought it was some chi-wa-wa.

But the best news of all? My girls eye is healed. No debridement. They weren't sending her home in pain. No visits to the clinic for a few months. And her glaucoma has better pressure than a normal eye. Dedication doesn't often pay off for rabbit owners... but for now I can relax. No imenent fear the eye will have to be taken. I'm happy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I can't believe I had this conversation with Federal Express.

Update: Interestingly Fedex sent the person who had delivered my packages back out to the house to scan one of the boxes. Made me feel all bleeding heart for a minute or two. He was just a kid. I was getting a good steam of guilt going when I had to snap out of it. One, the kid needs to learn to do his job, and two, people send packages via these carriers so they have a tracking system and have security it will be a point to point transfer. Otherwise they are just like the post office, which no one trusts. I still hate having to cause a fuss just to get people to do the jobs they were hired to do.

Since we moved into this house Fed-Ex has had a habit of just leaving items that need signatures on the doorstep. There have been about 6 instances that were absolutely signature required packages. Including my machine from Alienware yesterday, and a box this morning.

I'm sure anyone who reads this blog thinks I'm a stark raving lunatic. Some weeks honestly it feels like it. I can't even express how much I hate to call and bitch at companies. I felt I finally had to call Federal Express and find out WTF.

This is how the conversation went.

Me- I just had a box delivered. It has a big old sticker on it that says a signature is always required, and the driver didn't ask me to sign for it.

Fedex Rep- Well, the company who sent it probably didn't put a hold on the box so the driver would know someone needed to sign for it. The company has to place a hold on the shipper.

At this point I can tell she is trying to brush me off and hope I say.. "Ah, Okay". But I continue on.

Me- Yes, I understand that, but I am looking at the shipper, and right under it is a big old sticker that states this package always needs to have a signature.

Finally she decides I'm not going away, and asks for the tracking number.

Fedex Rep- Yes, I do see this package is required to have a signature.

Me- Soooooo.. are going to talk to the guy or....?

Fedex Rep- Well, you have the package right?

She's kidding me right?

Me- Yes, but if I'm not home when something is delivered that needs a signature I don't want it to be left at the door without being signed for. A package that was really expensive was left yesterday and they didn't ask me to sign for it. I want it to stop.

Fedex Rep- Okay, can I please put you on hold?

Me- yes.

(she comes back on the line)

Fedex Rep- Ma'am we will tell the driver he needs get the required signatures. He was probably new, and I apologize for that.

Me- Thank you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aliens finally arrive.

Almost 7 weeks. 10 email's of red light - green light, and about 5 calls - the machine is here. Which by the way Fed-ex left at the door without it being signed for. Previous blog entries here and here.

The thing is.. they should have just said something when I ordered the machine. I would have been less bitchy. It kind of makes me unhappy when you place an order and find out several weeks later that the delivery date is un-determinable.

Since they weren't really ever sure when it would ship, I started looking at buying a machine from Voodoo. If things wouldn't have been a tidal wave of chaos lately, I would have pulled my order from Alienware.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dear Tivo.

First, I want to say that I can now watch my television shows in crystal clarity without having to suffer though media advertising. For that I am grateful.

However....my euphoria from smelling the factory air has worn off.

Dear Kind Tivo Management,

I know you think all of us rabid fans are just sitting around in our underwear watching television all day. You probably think since we never leave the house we don't really want our things to be nice. I'm guessing you think we are all just one step away from spilling bong water all over our components, and you are scratching your heads trying to figure out how we managed to scrape up a few thousand dollars for a plasma TV. Much less paying to be an early adopter for one of the new Series 3 boxes.

How else could you think having to do this to our brand new.. did I mention really expensive box.... would be okay with any of us?

Please Tivo Management, help me understand how you could not take into account there would be IR bleed-off from a television you specifically made a product for. Engadget blogs about it here.

Now onto my next complaint. We decided we wanted a larger drive, so we purchased a modified Series 3 though Weaknees.

When the box came my husband and I noticed that the unit was extremely loud. So he sent an email to Weaknees. You can hear the drive seeking over pretty loud television volume. I know it sounds like I am being just too bitchy about this. But I will tell you. I have two frikin' huge drives in my PC. One is 500gig. My husband once worked as a terrain modeler, so you know his machine is jacked up. The Tivo is louder than both of our PC's put together. That actually isn't the most irritating part. What is most irritating is Weaknees doesn't know when they will have a fix. Could be up to 7 weeks.

I know this is a Seagate problem because I just went through trying to get a replacement drive from them, and Seagate is having some serious failure and supply chain problems. Blogged about it here. But this isn't really new news.

The problem is that I don't think I can return my Comcast cable box for which the Series 3 replaces. I'm not sure if Weaknees is going to want the whole unit sent back so it can be fixed, or if they will just send out a replacement drive. So essentially we are in limbo for up to 7 weeks. If Seagate stays on schedule.

Yes, I know I can turn the cable box in and get a replacement if the Tivo needs to be sent back, but running down to the cable office is not always convenient.

It isn't the end of the world that the machine is loud... but when you pay a lot of money for something you expect not to have quite so many major problems with a product. Even as an early adopter.

Additionally it took 5 interactions with Comcast to get everything working. And we were lucky that it only took 5. One of the cards was DOA. Interestingly, there are 7 different types of cable cards. This guy had only brought one card. If the card he brought hadn't fixed it, another tech appointment would have to be made, and they would have to figure out which card worked.

Is this life Threatening?

I almost can't remember how many times I have said this phrase now. All I know is time slows down, and I get a slightly echo-ish feeling.

You are skipping along, and then suddenly you find yourself in a memento like time skip. For me, every medical crisis boils down to these four words. Is this life threatening.

It is sort of funny how life finds a way to side-swipe you. In a not so funny way.You think you know how things are going to play out when your family starts getting older. Heart problems - check. Cancer - check. But when my mother-in-law was admitted to ICU on Friday for complications from a fall she took two weeks ago - it was a complete shock. She had been attributing the headaches she was having to a existing history of migraine. Apparently when you hit your head, you can appear fine and still have some very terrible things wrong with your brain. I was under the mistaken impression that if you can go play tennis 3 days after your fall, you are probably okay.

Apparently brains don't work that way, and problems can lay in wait just to screw with you. Even if a CATscan or MRI is done immediately, there can still be problems that don't show on the tests and can present themselves days or weeks later. That little pain in your head really means something like this is happening.

Stolen from here.

A little brain surgery later and she felt markedly better. Though word today is they might have to go back in and do a little more draining. See...side-swipe. Life likes to screw with you in that way.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Robots in Space.

This guy should really be on the concept team for iRobot. His site here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A rant about shopping.

Okay.. I am going to start out saying I am not the most patient person, but a couple of things have just been bugging the hell out of me.

The topic today? Supermarket hell. Honesty I think that women are the most inconsiderate supermarket shoppers. They set up some invisible shopping turf, and I just can't stand it. They have to feel everything, and look at everything as if they are trying on a new skirt. They constantly bitch block you, so you can't just grab an item. Then they look at you as if to say "oh sweetie, did you want to get in here? - I'll just be another minute". Fuck!

For some reason today... males helped even out the scoring field.
I was third in line. A woman was in front of me. Who's only purchase was a banana. Then a guy who felt possessed to tell the checker his whole life story. Recounting the area's he has lived since birth. All the while painfully slowly writing a check. This took about three and a half minutes. A few minutes may seem like nothing in the scheme of things, but why is their time more important than mine?

Did I mention the woman in front of me... only wanted a single banana?

This is the thing... supermarkets are always busy. If you aren't being held up, you are holding someone up. So.. I would like to offer some etiquette tips.

1. If you are going to write a check, make half of it out while you are waiting. Not after you get to the checker. You know what f-ing store you are at. Fill it in, and sign it.

2. Don't park your cart in the middle of the f-ing isle. It takes two seconds to put it on one side or the other so people can easily pass. I know you think you are just going to be a second... but you aren't. So f-ing put the cart to the side.

3. If you are going to spend half a day comparison shopping for spaghetti paste, be considerate and let other people grab their items.

4. If you are feeling a little lonely and want to have a long meaningful conversation with the checker. DON'T! Unless you are the only person in line.

And lastly, if you have children. Control them. I don't think I need to hear your kid shrieking all the way on the other side of the store the entire time I'm there.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The world of next Tuesday.

I am pretty confident I am going to have to start hiding my identity to keep getting into venues. I admit I do have a particularly jaded view of technology. It is so cheap and accessible that things that used to be super wiz-bang are fairly routine.

This is my review of the Sunset Magazine innovation house. Probably the most detailed review you will find. I wasn't horribly impressed. More hype than real function. The other oddity. You have to be bused into this place. Which almost made me cratch going. I am horrible at waiting for things. At any rate.. the occupants of the buses were basically Sunset Seniors. Mostly the elderly who read the magazine, but for which the technology would surely be lost on. Maybe there was a huge "wow factor" for that demographic.

So here we go....

The first thing you see when you walk in is the robo-mower by Kyodo America.

I am particularly interested in this product since I own a Friendly Robotics machine. There has been a ton of salivating that iRobot would make a mower to compliment their other line of products. I have seen the pictures of this machine on the web and assumed it was a huge machine. It isn't. It is actually half the size of the Friendly Robotics model.

As you can see, it also has a fairly obvious safety vulnerability. More concerning is an image on this site which shows you how far off the ground this machine gets when it is doing steep terrain.

Additionally. This is a single blade unit. I have seen so many pictures making it seem like a huge machine (here) that would mow a large expanse. I am telling you. This machine would take a very long time to mow a yard this size.

I would have loved to see it going to see what all these buttons were about. Although I pretty much knew it would be inoperable.

iRobot display.

There were one or two "futuristic" things in the house. Although this next item seemed gratuitous, and odd. A 3D printer.

Even though the technology has progressed since I last saw it here at RoboNexus. I think it will still a long time before people will find these thing practical. The price has come down considerably though.. so perhaps I am wrong. This model was between 20-21 grand. RoboNexus 2005 they were about 45 grand.

These were the products it was making at RoboNexus. Here, here and here. Below are the products it was making at the Innovation House.

This was the data-closet for this house.

For the amount of real technology, I'm guessing half of this closet runs this climate controlled wine cellar with a bar-code system to keep track of your vintages.

As you can see it is a massive structure. We are close to wine country... but still.

Here is a clever display (I think) of a more safe way to do electrical wiring. If any of you know how the system works now... you basically wire-nut all the wires together. Hope the wire-nuts don't slip off when you push everything back into the wire-boxes. This system snaps the connectors together. Much like the connector that is on the back of your disk drive.

In the future, bathrooms will be really small.

Note: I don't mind small bathrooms, but this house is being sold in the range of 5.5 million dollars after Sunset Magazine is done running this tour. For that kind of money I want a bigger bathroom.

But they will have really cool windows made of liquid crystals.

The bathrooms will come with faucets that look really cool, but make every woman on earth crazy. When I first saw this I thought it looked great, but the water would drip on the mirror constantly making it look like crap. Sure enough.. turn the water off and you are left with drips on the mirror.

The office of the future will really not look much different than it does now.

And the media-room doesn't even have a TIVO.

And we still wont be able to figure out any art that is friendly to the earth without it being made from those plastic 6 pack can holders.

I was hugely interested in the solar installation. After the last blackout, we have been seriously looking hard at this technology.

In the future you will not need to use your legs. Maybe in this neighborhood you need a bicycle that runs like a motorcycle. Although I think a Vespa might be more hip.

The real reason to buy this house is the BBQ area. Honestly, it is the most fantastic space on the property.

And these fabulous views.

If you can make out the for-sale sign, this house could be yours. Just know, you can have most of this technology for way way under the 5.5 mil price-tag.