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My Ramblings

Contact Lists and Cell Phones

Posted on | April 22, 2011 | No Comments

I’ve gotten to the point that I have at least 3 active phone numbers that I have to keep track of. The only way to manage that is with my phone’s contact list. But what happens when the contact is the wrong one?

Initially I thought this was a bit funny, because my daughter and her friends changed the name in her phone from a friend to her boss. They thought that this little prank would be a good practical joke to play. Little did they know that a couple of days later, they would witness the results of their prank. We were all gathered together for a banquet and the victim fell for it completely. The text messaging went something like this:

Prank victim: “So are you coming?”

Boss (totally unaware of anything): “Sure”

Prank victum: “How long will you be?”

Boss: “A few minutes”

A few minutes pass

Prank victim: “So where are you right now?”

Boss: “At home in my living room”.

Prank victim: “Well you are already 20 minutes late, why are you still home?”

Boss: “What are you talking about?”

Doubt now enters our dear prank victims mind.

Prank victim: “You know, the banquet!”

Boss: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

And finally it dawns on our poor prank victim.

“Who is this?”

Everyone who pulled the prank was at the banquet witnessing this episode and everyone laughed. I had to admit that as far as pranks go, this one worked out pretty well. But what happens when it isn’t a prank, but a complete mistake?

This happened on my own cell phone. I currently have two banks with which I do business with, and they both have “National” in their name. The problem is that I mislabeled the name in my phone. As it happens, I had to call one of the banks to take care of some of my banking business. I didn’t pay that much attention to the introduction by the person taking my call, I just went into my business as usual. It went something like this:

Me: “Hello, I need to ask a question about ___________”.

Bank: “Can you give me your account number?”

Me: “I’m driving, so I don’t have that with me, can you look it up?”

Bank: “Sure, what is your name and social security number?”

Me: “It’s __________”.

Bank: “OK, now I need to verify your account, could you tell me the amount of your last deposit?”

Me: “Sure, it was about ____________”.

Silence. Dead silence on the other end of the phone.

Bank: “OK, how about some recent charges on your debit card?”

Me: “Sure, I just went to ________ and bought something for _________.”

A longer silence

Bank: “I’m sorry, but I can’t verify your account. Goodbye.”

At this point, I have no idea what just happened. I do have an account there and the charges and deposits were pretty accurate. So now I begin to get a little annoyed my bank. What idiot customer service person can’t look up that information and know that it is me?

I drive home and look up the number of my bank, and at the point I realize that I had called the wrong bank. I did have an account there and I’m sure that my social security number matched up to my name on the account just fine, but all the transactions were totally different. I now realize that the customer service person saved my back side and did a great job.

The moral of the story: if something doesn’t seem right about the person you just called or texted, you might want to check your phone’s contact list more carefully.

Goodyear Tire and Service Are Liars and Cheats

Posted on | March 14, 2011 | 2 Comments

There is a reason that I hire experts to perform service for me. It doesn’t matter whether it is the doctor, the architect, or the car repair shop, I don’t have the time or the expertise to do those services for myself.

That is why I took my van into Goodyear Tire and Service. They get paid because they are supposed to be experts in their craft. And with that status, there should be a certain expectation of performance.

The problem that I was experiencing was a low frequency humming noise coming from the passenger side tire. The noise was related only to how fast the tire was rotating and was independent of the engine speed. I took my car into Goodyear Tire and Service and reported that exact symptom I have just described. What I did not say was that my suspicion was that the bearing was going out and would need to be replaced. I wanted a proper examination by the experts to determine the exact problem. The mechanic took my keys and promised a phone call with the diagnosis within a few hours.

The phone call came within the hour, and the diagnosis was a plethora of problems with the van. The first thing he said was that the bearing was out. But then the problems mounted. He reported that all the front brake pads and rotors were bad and need to be replaced, the back brake cylinders were bad and needed replacing in addition to an oil and lube. The last thing was the the state safety inspection was due.

The list amounted to work that totaled about $1,000. I already knew about the oil and lube and the state inspection, but something didn’t ring quite right about the brakes since I had personally replaced the pads and rotors myself about a year ago. However, since they confirmed by bearing suspicion, I authorized them to replace it, but not to do any other work.

Later that day, I came to pick up the van. I paid $311; $209 in parts and the rest in labor. Unfortunately, the noise was still there. I could not detect any improvement in my reported symptom. So I walked back inside to report my findings, and the mechanic at the counter said that since I had declined the work on the brakes, that my noise would still be there.

Huh?

I’ve heard a lot of noise from brakes, that never a consistent low frequency humming sound. But I politely left the shop because I wanted to check the brakes myself.

I pulled the van into my garage at home and took of the front wheels, brake pads and then the rotors. As I suspected, all pads were barely used, and the rotors still look almost new with very little wear.

What about the bearing that they replaced? I never did mention to them that the sound was coming from the passenger side, but they apparently didn’t think about that much because they replaced the drivers side bearing. I have no idea whether that was a real problem or not, and they did not return my old bearing.

I really needed my van fixed at this point, and it was obvious that Goodyear wasn’t going to help. I went down to the parts store, bought a $89 bearing, rented the tool for free, and spent half of my Saturday replacing it. This is what I should have done in the first place because that completely fixed my noise problem. The van runs completely silent now.

Why is Goodyear Tire and Service a lying and cheating company you ask? Because the mechanic that replaced the driver’s side bearing had to removed both brake pads and the rotor in order to replace the bearing. He held a perfectly good rotor in his hand and still told me it needed replacing.

The only other possible explanation is that they are completely incompetent. However, at this point I am rejecting that possibility.

Goodyear will never get another dime from me as long as I live, and I urge you do avoid doing business with this company as well.

The Lessons My Grandma Taught Me From The Grave

Posted on | January 9, 2011 | 1 Comment

Since I am the audio and video expert in my family, I usually and the recipient of all old recordings of people in my family so that I can transfer analog content to a digital format. One of the recent projects that I had was some recordings of my Grandma made in 1995 that were on cassette tape. I have come to refer to them as The Odessa Tapes. She died in May of 2001 so it has been a great project for me to hear her voice again. As I have proofed the recordings that I made, I realized that there are things that she has taught me that are powerful lessons in my life.

1. No matter how hopeless things may seem, change always comes for the better.

My grandma was born in 1918, so when the depression hit in 1929, she was just becoming a young woman. While the depression was a terrible time for most people, she reported that her parents had things better off than most. They lived in a rural town and grew all their own food, so they never went hungry. Even though money was tight, it was tight for everyone, and that’s just how it was. But even though the depression lasted the entire decade of the 30′s, things turned around in the 40′s quite substantially. In my own lifetime, I remember that my town had a time during the 70′s when growth was at a standstill. Even though I was only a kid then, I was old enough to remember when life got a lot better for our town in the 80′s.

2. Age doesn’t change who we are.

When I was a kid, my grandparents were all really old, and I thought that I couldn’t relate to them at all. However, my grandma tells a story with a bit of embarrassment that she wanted some candy from the store but she didn’t have any money. She decided that she would take some eggs from the chicken coop and trade them for the candy. The only problem was that she had to walk past her mothers window. So she decided to hide the eggs in her bloomers. When she tried to jump the irrigation ditch, she fell and smashed all the eggs.

It is a story I am pretty familiar with, since it is virtually legend in our family. I realized as I was listening to the old recordings that my grandma was a normal human being, and that I had grown up with her we would likely be friends.

3. She loved God and it made her life exceptional

My Grandma was a pretty religious person, but that didn’t mean she forced us to be religious. It wasn’t in her nature. The lesson in this case was taught be example, and she demonstrated to me better than any other person, why it is important to recognize our relationship with God and how much better our lives are when we align ourselves to Him. As people, I think we tend to want to make God into something that we like, instead of truly finding out who He is, and making ourselves into what God wants for us.

4. Our ancestors were much more intelligent than we give them credit for

I think sometimes that we have a tenancy to think with all our technology that we must have been so much smarter than those who came before. This is a characteristic of selfish people who are enjoying the progress that was made long before them. My experience with The Odessa Tapes is that our grandparents, and their grandparents before them had very keen minds and a great amount of intelligence. Just because they didn’t have iPods and laptop computers doesn’t mean they didn’t understand how they worked, they just didn’t have the technology to implement the knowledge that they had.

5. Don’t dis the progress we have made

One cliché that is popular in modern culture is to go back to the simpler ways of old and get rid of the advancement that our society has made. This is born out of the observation that our lives a complicated and the only way to resolve it is to go backwards. I think what we fail to understand is that our grandparents were always trying to improve their lives with new tools and better methods. In The Odessa Tapes, my grandma was very clear about how much their lives were better when new technology became available. She talked of how great it was to have a radio and how marvelous it was

I’m sure that there are other lessons that my Grandma taught me, but I will save those for another day. For now, I will end by saying how much better my life has been because of my Grandma’s influence and I miss her sometimes quite dearly.

I love you Grandma, and thanks for everything.

The Lawyer and the Blonde

Posted on | September 3, 2010 | No Comments

A lawyer and a blonde woman are sitting next to each other on a long flight from L.A. to New York. The lawyer leans over to her and asks if she would like to play a fun game.

The blonde is tired and just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists, saying that the game is really easy and a lot of fun. He explains how the game works:
“I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me, and visa-versa.”

Again, the blonde politely declines and tries to get some sleep. The lawyer figures that since his opponent is a blonde he will easily win the match, so he makes another offer.”Okay, how about this, if you don’t know the answer you pay me only $5, but if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500.”

This catches the blonde’s attention and, figuring that there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, she agrees to play the game.

The lawyer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The blonde doesn’t say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.

Now, it’s the blonde’s turn. She asks the lawyer, “What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four? ” The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references. He taps into the Air-phone with his modem and searches the Net and even the Library of Congress.

Frustrated, he sends E- mails to all his coworkers and friends he knows. All to no avail. After over an hour of searching for the answer he finally gives up. He wakes the blonde and hands her $500. The blonde politely takes the $500 and turns away to get back to sleep.

The lawyer, who is more than a little frustrated, wakes the blonde and asks, “Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and, comes down with four?”

Again without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.

Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper

Posted on | March 15, 2010 | 1 Comment

Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper 3-User

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