Recently in Rants Category

  • “Hi, I would like to cancel my account please.”
  • “We’re sorry to hear that. One moment. I’ll transfer you to an account manager.”

…uh, oh…

  • “How can I help you today.”
  • “Yes, I just want to cancel my account please.”
  • “Did we do something wrong?”
  • “No, I just have way too many credit cards. I am trying to consolidate my finances.”
  • “Is there any reason why you chose this card to cancel?”
  • “Not really. I just have too many cards, and I never use this one. The balance is fully paid off, and I just want to cancel it.”
  • “If you transfer the balance from your other high interest credit cards onto this card we can give you zero percent interest for one year. What balance transfer rates are you getting on your other cards?”
  • “I’m already getting zero percent interest on a couple of my cards. Please, I just want to cancel this one.”
  • “We can give you zero percent interest on the balance transfer until the transfer is paid off with no balance transfer fees.”
  • “Please, I just want to cancel my account.”
  • “Are you getting cash back on any of your other cards. We can…”

At this point I set the phone down while he yammered on for awhile. When I heard silence, I picked up the receiver and asked again. After a few more times, back and forth, he relented.

Those of us who have done the dance know the moves all too well. I got to do it three times today. I do have to admit, they try to promise you the world, and it is tempting.

At some points, it was almost humorous. Especially, the Discover card guy; I suppose his effeminate voice was supposed to be soothing and reassuring. If he wasn’t such a cartoonish stereotype, his voice would have seriously creeped me out.

I actually got the CitiCards woman to chuckle as she was working through her script.

  • “I already have three different credit card accounts with CitiBank. I just want to cancel this one.”
  • “If you’d like, we could transfer the credit limit from this card and add it to the limit of one of your other cards.”
  • “No, thank you. I just want to cancel the card.”
  • “But don’t you want to increase your spending power?”
  • “I have a half-inch stack of spending power, wrapped in a rubber band. I have all the spending power I need.”

I took the day off from work today. It was too hot to go outside, so I finally had a chance to do a little personal admin. I haven’t completely lost track of my finances yet, but that little bundle of plastic sometimes seems like an elaborately stacked house of cards.

It was certainly worth a half-hour of my life to get those accounts cancelled and pass the cards through the little slot on top of my shredder. But, sheesh, these clowns sure do test one’s patience and resolve.

Stupor Fresh

Okay, I haven’t had a really “mundane” post in awhile (although one could argue that a thread of mundanity winds though most of my posts).

Anyway, the local Super Fresh in Plainsboro, which used to be my favorite supermarket, recently eliminated the two things that made it my favorite supermarket.

First, the Super Fresh used to be open 24/7. No longer. Now it closes at midnight. Bleah. Around 2 AM or 3 AM used to be my favorite time to go grocery shopping. No traffic on the road. The aisles were mostly devoid of customers. No lines at the checkout. You could talk out loud to yourself and not have people look at you like you were a crazy person. Grumble.

Second, they just reduced the double coupon threshold from $1.00 down to 99 cents. That penny makes a big difference. I mean, how many 99-cent coupons do you see in the paper? None, that’s how many. Our workplace has a wonderful person who cuts out all of the coupons from at least five Sunday papers and places them in a bin in our break area. Super Fresh’s new policy changes my entire coupon strategy. God help me; I have a “coupon strategy.”

Partially, thanks to these coupons, I had an order at the beginning of the month that I reduced from $44 down to $12. I often wait for items to be on sale then I whip out the $1 coupons for doubling. Two bucks off makes a big difference. I haven’t had to pay for deodorant in about six years.

Screw that. It’s back to ShopRite for me.

Ah, the extravagant life that an an academic salary affords me…

Fixed it my own damn self

Cable guy came this evening…and…by the time the cable guy left, my cable internet service was still out.

Apparently, there was some kind of outage in my local area. On Sunday a transmitter caught fire, and this, in turn, somehow affected all of the transmitters in the apartment complexes on my street. Somehow (don’t ask me how) the individual transmitters were damaged in such a way that their signal output was no longer powerful enough to power both a television and a modem through a splitter. Comcast would (hopefully) fix this by installing a new transmitter outside my apartment by close of business Thursday.

Damn it. Having been without internet access at home since Sunday, I was not content to let well enough alone (a consistent theme with me, for better or worse). I took a closer look at the coaxial cable splitter. Hmmm, there were three “OUT” connections. Two were rated at -7 decibel signal loss, and one only had -3 db signal loss. I switched my cable modem over to the -3 db connection and one of my television cables over to one of the weaker ones. Well, what do you know? All three connections were happy. The two television connections still have enough signal strength—even to power the hi-def channels. Most importantly, I have cable internet access again.

Um, so now why couldn’t the cable guy have done that? It is his freaking job, after all.

Oh well, hopefully, this blog can finally get back to its regularly scheduled programming.

Power outage

The unending rain knocked out the power again last evening. I understand that nature is a powerful force, but it is frustrating that in this day and age that power lines aren’t properly protected against a little wind and rain. “They can put a man on the moon…” (Of course, if one were to believe the preponderance of “the moon landing was a hoax” sites out there on teh intarweb…but I digress.)

Any plans I had for last night were shot. Not much to do alone in the dark besides read by flashlight and sleep, so I did a little of both.

Oh well, at least I can BitTorrent all of the TV programs that I was unable to watch or TiVo.

Redheaded stepchild


There’s nothing quite like going for dinner with a pretty 21-year-old to make a guy feel kind of old. So, of course, yesterday I just had to color out the gray. I also decided to try going a shade lighter. Unfortunately, whenever I try to go from a medium brown (my natural color) to a light golden brown, my hair turns reddish. I guess the Irish in me is just dying to come out.

This time I even tried a hair color that was supposedly designed especially for brunettes and was not supposed to turn one’s hair red. No dice. My hair, once again, is the color of a slightly tarnished copper penny. Bleah.

Serving up crap


Once upon a time, there was a cool television channel called Tech TV. Then an evil, greedy cable network with a clueless, condescending attitude toward “geeks,” sought to tap into the multi-billion-dollar video game industry by creating a channel called G4. Nobody watched G4; G4 sucked. Tech savvy 20-to-34-year-olds watched Tech TV. The evil cable network jealously vowed to kill Tech TV.

Realizing that there just weren’t enough sports channels on their over-priced cable service, they replaced Tech TV with Yankee Entertainment and Sports (at least that was what my area got). I, of course, said NO to YES.

When that didn’t work (and many of their customers were switching to satellite just to watch Tech TV again), Comcast bought Tech TV and merged it with their aforementioned crappy G4 channel, which you could only see if you had satellite or you forked over more money and got Comcast’s digital cable package, which might not be a complete rip-off if the first hundred channels weren’t still analog.

Not understanding what made Tech TV worth watching, and showing a complete lack of respect for their audience, they fired most of the on-air talent and gutted the shows. Most recently, they finally killed one of my favorite Tech TV shows, The Screen Savers (at least it was a favorite back in the days of Leo, Patrick, Megan, and Cat), and replaced it with something called Attack of the Show. Attack of the Show? WTF?

…and what quality content have they featured so far on this new show? Well now, how about shoving a live web server up someone’s rectum? Yes, this is, of course, what prompted this rant. They took a web server based off of a USB keychain drive, stuffed it in a condom, shoved it up someone’s ass, and invited viewers to visit the web site in this guy’s butt.


Pop-up backlash

Pop-up ads and pop-under ads—they are back with a vengeance. Bleah. The crafty coders that work for the various ad servers seem to have pulled slightly ahead in the scripted pop-up advertisement arms race.

Grrrrr. I use browsers with built-in pop-up blocking for a reason. This hijacking of my browser is an invasive disruption of my web surfing, and frankly—I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore. ;-)

I do not mind ads; in fact, I will occasionally click on those that both catch my eye and correctly target my interests (even though I try my best to mentally tune them out). Yet to combat this new breed of pop-ups, I felt compelled to take drastic action. For Safari, I installed PithHelmet, which works great against pop-ups, but by default blocks almost all ads, which may be overkill. For Firefox, I installed the Adblock extension, which seems a little buggy, but effectively short circuits all of those evil, dreaded “whack-a-mole” ads.

The ad servers got greedy and tried to bite off one of the hands that feed them. Well, I bite back.

Hip product placement

I can almost forgive that the CTU scenes from this season’s episodes of 24 have been one big commercial for the new Motorola Ojo. Also, I suppose that it is relatively believable that all of the “cool” kids on TV have iPods and Apple laptops (often with strategically-placed Post-its over the glowing fruity logo).

However, when Ryan’s new red-headed love interest, Lyndsay, (yes, I Season Pass The O.C.; deal with it) describes how she used an internet search engine to research information on her father, she didn’t just Google him. Oh, no! Lyndsay “A9.commed him.”

Um, as a genericized verb? I’m all for casually-hip, rapid-fire pop-culture references in dialog; they have been part of the genuine appeal of Lorelei, Dawson, Buffy, Seth, etc. This one, though, was so blatantly out-of-place I almost snorted a mouthful of refreshing Coca-Cola with Lime all over my Aeron.

I guess, maybe, I’m just falling behind the wired-tired-expired hipness curve.

I hate my last name

My last name has become a pejorative term for Muslims. I’m not sure when exactly this happened; I haven’t Googled myself in quite awhile. I am not amused.

Hosts overstepping their bounds

Recently, Six Apart released an update to Movable Type that patched a vulnerability that allowed a malicious user to send e-mail through the application to any number of arbitrary users if comment notifications are enabled. For those who did not want to upgrade to version 3.15, they also made a plug-in available which also prevents the exploit.

Yesterday, TotalChoice Hosting sent an e-mail to their users, saying that they had pushed a copy of this plug-in out to the installations of all of their customers with Movable Type. Seeing as I had already upgraded to 3.15 more than twelve hours earlier, this plug-in was redundant. No harm was done, and deleting the extraneous plug-in was simple enough. Still, it’s a “principle” thing.

It really ticks me off that TCH took it upon themselves to modify my MT installation without my permission. I haven’t decided yet whether to send them a complaint e-mail, but I just felt like venting.

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