I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Those Crazy Gods of the Tour de France are at it again!

For years the Tour de France seemed to be peddling along just fine, except for those little things called doping scandals which circled around it like flies do shit.  I think because the Gods of the Tour, for the most part, had grown a little weary of the event.  To them doping was just stupidity on wheels, and maybe they thought it was 'one of those mortal things' and was really none of their business; the race was still rolling after all.  But then, sometime around the Floyd Landis bit, they seemed to begin to wake up.  Teams started cleaning up and perhaps the Gods realized that those mortal cyclists actually ride better when they're not all doped up.  Look what they did to Lance Armstrong, flicked him away like a bugger from their finger.  And today, on the 1st stage of the 100th Tour de France, those crazy Gods decided to have a little fun.  I mean, everything started off okay and the first two Acts went swell.  Then Act 3 arrive on a bus.

Is there a finger in that sign, somewhere?

Had I been that bus driver, I would have jumped out and looked up at the sign I'd hit and shouted "Holy Shit!"  Not this driver, he sat there and covered his face with his hands.  Oops.  Then they changed the finish line to the 3 kilometer mark which would have worked except this stage was to have a sprint ending.  Just past the 3 kilometer mark the road bends to the right.  Sherwin said it best,   "they can't end it there, there's a bend in the road, there's a bend in the road."  You do know, sprinters don't stop at the finish line, they're going fast so they tend to hit their brakes until after they've passed it, about where the road bends.  But then the bus was moved and the finish line returned to where it had once been.  But then one of the Gods stuck his finger down into the Peleton and gave it a little swirl and there was a crash and another one stuck a finger in Greipel's gears.  Couldn't you hear them laughing?  I could.  They said "we're going to make this the most interesting race ever!"  Of course, Cavendish wants to blame the crash on those mortal officials, he doesn't understand that those crazy Gods of the Tour de France are at it again.  They are alive and well, and, I think fully awake.

Trayvon Martin trial goes for boring

A few days ago the United States Supreme Court came down with two landmark rulings in regard to marriage equality.  I first saw this on one of my news feeds, so when I got home I turned on MSNBC to see what the national news media was saying.  To my surprise, they were televising the Trayvon Martin murder trial.  My first thought was that this was just an update since the Supreme Court rulings, while making a lot of people happy, were definitely going to piss off a lot of people.  I was wrong.  Someone high up at MSNBC had decided the trial was the more earth shattering, the more groundbreaking, of the two stories.  Someone decided listening to a supposedly star witness bumble her way through an incoherent testimony was the be all and end all of breaking news stories. How could anybody make such a stupid decision?
"Mumble, mumble" she said, "mumble mumble."
There is a reason Court TV exists:  courtroom drama is a medium best served by fiction.  In the real world courtroom testimony gets boring very, very fast because it is not regulated by either a plot line or the need for commercial breaks.  When a star witness has difficulty comprehending simple questions things slide into a slowly spinning whirlpool where words and phrases get repeated again, and again, and again.  I endured for about 7 minutes and then I went out into the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher.  News networks are meant to provide you with news, some nearly fatal barbiturate overdose served up in a soupy mess of irrelevance.  Is this trial important?  Yes.  Did that testimony need to be broadcast live?  Hell no!
This morning I saw a question on one of my news feeds regarding that day's testimony.  "Star Witness or Train Wreck?"  Holy shit, I thought, did that question even need to be asked.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cancer and the quality of life

Being diagnosed with cancer is cataclysmic. I've known a number of people who have received this terrible news, some have survived and some haven't.  My Dad was 71 when he was told he had lung cancer and had about 9 months to live.  That diagnosis was right one.  In spite of treatments, 8 months and 2 weeks later he died.  Six weeks before his death he had decided to end his chemo.  It was a bold and very smart decision.  He wanted to get back some quality of the life he new. 

A month ago and associate I worked with at the Carlisle store died of Hodgkin's Disease.  The last time I had seen him he too had told me he was no longer going to continue treatment.  Again, a very brave decision.  He had told me he wanted to get back some quality to his life.

Unfortunately these two are not the norm.  Too many people fight the good fight too long and suffer terribly.  While some do it on their own, I suspect most often it is a friend or loved one forcing them to endure.  Just after I transferred to my current store I was sitting in the lunch room talking to ASDS (Associate Support Department Supervisor) when an older associate came in and began talking to her.  His wife was struggling with her current cancer treatment and he was pressuring her doctors to try something else.  He sat there and cried and I wasn't feeling sorry for him.  After he left the ASDS turned to me and said "his wife is dying of cancer."  I replied "and he is not dealing with this at all."

Two weeks ago she died.  A couple days ago her husband was in the store and he was telling anybody and everybody her doctors were to blame for her pain and suffering; how they put her on failing treatment after failing treatment and how much terrible pain she'd been in up until the end.  What a horse's ass.  A little something I know, at a certain point your Oncologist will sit down and tell you there's isn't much more he can be do.  If you haven't said it by then, that's the time you need to say "no more."
Cancer isn't always fatal.  There a quite a number of survivor stories out there.  However, if you are one of those who is going to lose the fight, lose it with dignity.  Leave this life with a sense of quality, and never let someone else make that decision for you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Niall Matter - still acting, some what

I see Niall Matter is back on the Syfy Channel again in a vehicle called "Primeval, New World."  I'd seen a few episodes of the original series on BBC America several years ago and it wasn't that bad, of course it wasn't really that good either.  The best description I can give for it is passable.  During that time Mr. Matter was introduced on "Eureka."  In his first episode I thought, this isn't bad, he's a bit of a rogue, he shakes things up.  Of course, the bubble head writers and producers had already lost sight of their target audience and so the rogue was lost.  Viewers ended up with the cute, non-threatening guy who paired up with Jo.  By that time, however, "Eureka" was already past the point of capsizing because of all of the top-heavy relationships.  Nothing could save it.

As for "Primeval, New World?"  Well, being the curious type I checked it out on line and it's actually a Canadian TV show that aired in 2012, so while not being old, it's not, as the Syfy Channel implies, new.  Also, there seems to have been some gap between the show's initial run and the last two episodes because "Primeval, New World" was cancelled.  So what does the Syfy Channel do if the show picks up an audience?  Restart production?  Or maybe it's just one of those summer replacement series which is only meant to fill time.  I don't know.  What I do know is Mr. Matter seems to be the only cast member from the doomed "Eureka" to still have some sort of acting career.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jimmy Swaggart - Christian Parasite

I had a nice conversation with my brother this morning about our Mother who will be 80 on July 1.  She had, some time ago, said that she wanted me to added to her checking account so, should the need arise, I'd be able to write checks.  We haven't really pushed this since she is still mentally aware.  However, while I was visiting her yesterday she said she'd been watching Jimmy Swaggart.  It was the mention of his name which actually prompted this morning's conversation.  Many years ago my grandmother had been a fan his and upon her death discovered she'd been sending him checks regularly.  What appalled us was the total dollar amount she'd given, $10 or $25 every week for over four years, all from an elderly woman living only on social security.  That's a lot of money given to a man who's been caught whoring twice, at least that's the number of times it's made it into the news.  In my book that makes him a whore monger.  He is one of those unfortunate evils in Christianity, a Christian Parasite, preying upon the weak, the elderly, the down trodden.  "Let the Lord into your hearts and send me your dollars, now watch me cry so I can prove my sincerity."  This guy is the scum.  This is why either my brother, or myself, is going to have access to her checking account.  You see our Mother is living on a fixed income.  We do not want her sending money to this blood sucker which might be needed to pay for her medications, and she has several.  We do not want her trying to survive on $1.50 frozen dinners in order for his 'ministries' to buy him a new car.  He is worse then at persistent mosquito which drones near your ear in the middle of the night.  Eventually that mosquito will either fly away or bite you once and then fly away.  Swaggart is constantly droning in your ear "Let the Lord into your hearts and send me your dollars." 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Microsoft, vampires extraordinaire

There's a lot of what I call hubba bubba going on right now about the NSA and its information gathering techniques.  Some groups are shrieking "No. No. No."  Others are more willowy saying "this is what it takes to keep the country safe."  Many are trying to find out as much about Edward Snowden as possible, curious as to why such an unimposing figure might attempt to raise himself to such a level of notoriety.  Too many do not understand by pointing the finger at the Federal Government he has taken it off of the real culprits.  All of the media giants have released statements noting all of the times the NSA has gone to them asking for data.  Wait a minute.  If the Government is spying on American citizens, why does it need to go to Apple, and Yahoo, and Verizon, and Comcast, and Microsoft to get information.  Surely the all powerful government would have that data clenched tightly in its palms.  But that doesn't seem to be the case, does it?  What Edward Snowden did was demonize the NSA  and turn the media giants into victims: poor Apple, poor Yahoo, pure bullshit.  Think about who truly is gathering information about you and your loved ones every time you text or email.  Just think, Edward Snowden might be nothing more then a dupe, a foil, a red herring in the mystery of intelligence gathering.

A dork in the tunnel of information
Who is the real culprit?  The media giants, they are the real players in this game.  If you have bundled your Internet, Cable and Phone service through Verizon, think of all of the data you are supplying to them daily. The same is true with Comcast.  Right now Microsoft is trying to burrow its way into private lives like no other entity in history with the Xbox One.  Just think, it comes with a Kinect, you know, that little device with a built in camera and microphone.  Sure, they have tried to temper fears saying you can pause the Kinect if you want, but how many are going to remember to do that?  Supposedly, when the console is turned off, it's only listening for the command, "xbox on."  So, how many three year-olds are going to walk into a room and say those words without Mommy or Daddy knowing.  Think about it, Microsoft is really trying to be Big Brother.  You know what they say about vampires?  They can't come into your house unless you invite them in.  Guess who's out to suck the blood of your privacy?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Changing white population

The US Census bureau released some information that a number of Americans no doubt found staggering:  that by 2043 white people will be a minority group.  I'd read something several years ago which at that time suggested racial integration in America was picking up speed.  Back then it was suggested those people who call themselves white my reach minority status in the 2050's.  That  data must have been wrong, or else it has been continually re-evaluated. Actually, this is no surprise to me.  Genetically darker skin is the dominant gene.  This is life, which makes me laugh at the thought of all of those white supremacists who saw that press release and shit a brick.  I wonder if, with their numbers slowly dwindling, they might at some part consider a Black Nazi Party.  What a hoot that would be!

Five years from now this picture will be different

I did some research and discover defining 'white' is not as easy as it sounds, unless you're from one of the southern tier states.  Some people view Spaniards as white and others don't.  There are a number of Latino families out there who consider themselves white and yet they are darker then Marco Rubio.  Speaking of him, one can only wonder what he calls himself in his heart of hearts.  I suspect he thinks of himself as white.  In some of the Central Balkan countries religious ethnicity seems to take a big part in considering if one is labeled dark or light white, irrelevant of the actual skin shade.  Believe me, this gets really complicated.  Take a trip to Italy and you'll find a lot of dark skinned people who, if they lived in this country, would call themselves white even though many of the residents of Tulsa would call them Latino.  Of course being 'white' doesn't really mean anything. Boy, is time proving that to be true.  If you look at all the children under 5 in this country, 49.9 % are considered minorities.  This year or next that number is going to change.   This is how it goes.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

JJ Abrams pops a wet one

I went to see the latest installment in the Star Trek this past Sunday with more then a little trepidation.  This feeling of unease began to set in when Paramount Studios refused to give the villain an name.  They tried to hype it into a way of building suspense and it didn't work.  What was going through my head was this:  "they have a problem." And indeed they did.  I have no doubts about that.  Millions and millions of Trekkers would have stayed home if they'd known JJ Abrams had chosen to remake "The Wrath of Khan."  Believe me, they would not have spent their hard earned dollars on such a thing.  I have no idea why Abrams decided to do this, maybe it was a combination of arrogance and ego.  Maybe he thought he'd turned into the Pied Piper of Trekkers and they would follow him anywhere, they didn't.  Twenty six days into its theatrical release Into Darkness is $12 million dollars poorer then the reboot of Star Trek.  That's a lot of lost ticket sales, and that number is only going to grow as time moves on.  I bought the reboot on Blu-Ray, I will not by Into Darkness, and I suspect there are a lot of hard core Trekkers out there who will not buy it either.

Crash landing time

The first twenty minutes was good, but then problems began to develop.  I knew what was going to happen 5 or 6 minutes before it happened.  This is not a good thing.  About 70 minutes into the film the entire movie goes down the shit hole.  Abrams brings in a wizened old Spock to tell his younger version how to beat Khan.  I sat in my seat completely dumbfounded.  It was almost as if JJ Abrams thought he could bend over and fart at the audience.  His only problem?  He popped a wet one, and it stinks.  The lesson to be learned?  Know your audience and give them what they want.  There's an old adage in Hollywood: keep 'em coming back.  That's not really happening with Into Darkness, and it's showing up in the box office receipts.  What should have been a really good sequel seems to have been nothing more then ego at work.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Shannon Richardson - hack actress

I saw on the news where a stupid woman named Shannon Richardson has been arrested for sending ricin tainted letters.  Most, if not all, of the headlines or leads proclaimed her to be an actress.  Wrong.  Supposedly she has credits for working on The Walking Dead, or, actually, those writing the articles claimed that was listed on her resume.  Interesting.  As soon as I seem the blurb about being an actress I went to IDMB to check things out.  Nada.  Nothing.  She doesn't even get a mention.  I have the sneaking suspicion she was the one telling people she was an actress.  Wrong.  If she did appear on The Walking Dead I'm sure it was part of the set decoration.  You know, they call them extras because they help fill in the space.  They are an extra body on the set.  They are not actors.  They never speak.  They add motion to a busy sidewalk scene, or stand in the background on a crime scene.  Actors and actresses have dialogue.  Extras are part of the scenery.

This is what an extra looks like.

This is what an extra looks like with her estranged husband, married a little more then a year.  Oh yeah, and she's pregnant with her fifth child, her first with him.  I think he got smart and realized the actress was most likely covering her expenses with child support.  She tried to blame him for the ricin tainted letters.  Evidently the police looked at the information she was giving them and decided she was obviously trying to frame him.  This shows you just how bad an actress she is, she couldn't even play that part right.  But then what else can you expect, she was an extra.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gerber's Term Life Charade

If you're like me, you've seen the ads for the Gerber Life College Plan, however we may not be having the same reaction.  In my opinion, the commercials are so much false advertising.  It isn't until you go in and look at the website do they let you know what you're really buying is term life insurance.  Wait... what was that?  This isn't a savings plan?  It's term life insurance?  Damn right!  Which means (and they tell you this on the website) they're going to ask you questions about your health.  On the website, they also inform you the plan you choose can pay out from $10 thousand to $150 thousand upon reaching maturity.  Nice, right?  Sure, they just don't tell you what you monthly payments are going to be.  I'm going to be that to hit that $150 thousand mark they're going to be pretty damn salty.
Corrupting an image?

One of the things I always do when hitting a product website is check the reviews.  I was surprised there were on 23, 2 being negative.  You would have thought that with all the years Gerber Life has been around there would have been many more than that, of course maybe a lot of those who buy into it don't have an opinion, at least one they think they can share.

What I really don't like is that they are trying to snooker people into buying term life insurance.  Instead, the words "saving for college" are mentioned several times during the commercial.  Surprise, there are other ways to save for your child's college education.  Very few of them force you to lock yourself into a 10 to 20 year term life insurance plan.  And, believe it or not, many of them have a better rate of return.  So, if you are interested in saving money for your kid's future, go to your bank first.  Believe it or not, odds are they'll give you the better deal.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bill Pay Hell, and how they screw you over

I don't know about you, but I pay all of my bills through my bank using a service called 'bill pay.'  Such a deal!  I haven't bought a book of stamps in, oh, maybe three years.  Everything was wonderful, until this past week.  In the past, I just keyed in dollar amounts without really looking at when the bill was actually going to be paid.  I mean everything was getting paid on time so it didn't seem to be that important.  On 6/6/13, at 7:15 AM, I keyed in three bills and for the first time I looked at when they were going to be paid.  To my surprise I saw that two were going to be paid on 6/10 and one on 6/12.  I was quite surprised.  My brain grappled with this information and forced itself to wrap some form of logic around the two being paid on Monday, 6/10 - I mean, there was a weekend involved.  However, the being paid on Wednesday, 6/12 just didn't make any sense.  I immediately sent an email inquiring what might be causing the hold up.  The response was not what I was expecting.  You see my bills are actually being paid by Bill Pay (cap letters) not my bank (?) and the timeliness of payments depends upon the relationship Bill Pay has with the biller.
This can be inconvenient as hell

Well, the first thing that went through my mind was "hhmmm, that sucks."  So I shot off another email asking if I might possibly change that payment date.  The response from Customer Service at my bank was negative.  Changing the pay date is not permitted, payment date is set by the relationship Bill Pay has with the biller.  Even more distressing was the fact that 'a check was being cut on 6/12 and being mailed on 6/13.'  Bill Pay is mailing a check 8 days after I keyed the dollar amount to be paid.  That's 8 days, and you have to figure it's going to take the USPS at least 2 days to deliver the payment.  As far as I am concerned, this is pure horse shit.  I shot back another email asking how this was supposed to be convenient.  My third response was a rather generic "if you have questions you may want to call our 888 number."  I'm not calling.   Nothing is going to change.  Bill Pay is supposed to make things easier, not complicate them.  I went back and looked at all of the bills I've have paid through Bill Pay (hundreds and hundreds) and saw that those billers who accept electronic payment (UGI, PP&L) get paid right away, those who don't (like my dentist's office) have to wait.  Obviously Bill Pay wants me to write my own checks and only use them for electronic payments, which is pretty damn stupid.  You see the billers who accept electronic payment?  I can pay them myself, I don't need to use Bill Pay.  Like I said, this is horse shit.