DiplomatiCat the Talking Beast

Inspired By Ire, Impelled By Ideal … "Never a TAME Lion"

Covid-19: Vacationing in “I wonder…?” Land

Time is something that we suddenly have more of, and for some , maybe even more than we know what to do with.  Our new acquisition PSVR setup has been an unexpectedly good investment, fortuitously timed to make the stay-at-home social distancing mandates of Covid-19 a lot more bearable than they otherwise would be (and even providing me more physical exercise in the past several weeks than I have had in the past 10 years, and positive effect on the blood pressure to boot), but escaping through the Sony Playstation to thehas inexplicably exquisite joy of slashing my way through boxes like a Samurai in Beat Saber isn’t the only diversion my brain keeps itself busy with these days.  The constant media blitz that this disease has sparked makes it impossible to avoid thinking about all the various mysteries presented by this new novel coronavirus pandemic, and if you, like me, are not above the indulgence in the odd well-argued conspiracy theory, and you aren’t careful, a stimulated but unoccupied mind can go wandering off pretty far down the road before you can get a leash on your imagination and bring it back to heel.

Yet this is also the same sort of condition that leads to flashes of brilliant inspiration.  Creativity abounds, as made apparent by some of the videos posted by people getting more and more bored and restless by the days after days of being housebound with only limited company.  I have personally given in to tugging on some loose threads of thought  lately, and once or twice (or maybe more than that) found myself unraveling a whole sweaters worth of mental knitting when those threads aren’t just part of some extra stitching left over after sewing up a small hole in the sleeve.  Having this much unstructured time has once again allowed me to to wander down the rabbit holes in my own mind, as well as the ones I always fall into on youtube… Come along with me as I follow my curiosity and end up on my most recent trip to “I wonder”-land:

I am starting to think this might be all orchestrated to combat CLIMATE CHANGE. My friend recently sent me a video discussing the ties Bill Gates had to global health issues and that got me thinking about how I had seen videos of him talking about pandemics specifically and the fact that billionaires could spend millions and not even have it affect their daily lifestyle at all, so how does any philanthropic person actually HAVE that much wealth at all unless there is something else operating which is more motivated by control than anything? THAT got me thinking, in turn, about how manipulative controlling people can be, and how so many things aren’t what they first appear to be when dealing with that.
AND when those ideas bumped up against the recent news articles about how things were actually improving in terms of pollution and nature what with people on global lock down and out of the way – all of a sudden we have lions laying around in African roads, dolphins in Venice canals and such — well, that just got me thinking about how I always said that we were fucked on the global warming issue anyway simply because, as a rule, people don’t change unless they HAVE to, and by the time the effects of climate change would begin to impact people personally enough for them to feel the need to alter their behavior (namely the kind motivated by comfort and convenience and consumption, primarily) the damage would already be done and irreversible. The scale of getting people to change their destructive habits even within the US alone would be impossible to achieve, much less a GLOBAL alteration, considering all the varied regimes of government and cultural differences and competition for power at those levels in the mix. The necessary paradigm shift that would have to occur to derail the handcart to hell we’ve been on in terms of climate change is too big to occur all at once … That is, UNLESS, of course, something should present itself as SUCH an immediate threat to existence that it unified all of those different agendas in defense against a common enemy.
In my mind, since I am not a complete control freak obsessed with world domination, the only example of such a threat to the species of man would have to be an intelligent one, such as extra-terrestrial invasion, or alternatively, A.I., as a product of our own folly and primitive impulses. If everything has a season and ultimately a cycle of life ending in death and extinction anyway, I had assumed that man’s own foolishness and greed would ultimately be our undoing through self destruction unless people should evolve and find their way to enlightenment, not just as individuals, but as a species, as entire cultures. I had understood that a micro-organism might also be a potentially devastating factor, but mostly as nature’s usual reaction to overpopulation, and still likely to leave at least SOME, even if very few, alive in it’s wake, if only because anything trying to survive as a parasite that kills off the entire host population is poor evolutionary process and self limiting.
Now that we have had so much time on our hands, contemplative reflection on those things has mixed them all up in my head and during a discussion with my partner about the probable inherent evil of billionaires, it suddenly occurred to us that someone who was able to spend all day thinking on how to control the world might have come to all the these thoughts I was having a lot sooner than I just did.  Although most conspiracy theories are based on the idea that someone who would utilize or even engineer a deadly pathogen would be motivated by greed or lust for power alone, I had a thought that it MIGHT also be someone who was willing to make a difficult choice and acknowledge that sacrifice of some might be the only way to avoid doom for all. (As any good nerd should be able to quote Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”) Since many people aren’t even convinced that climate change is even a thing, much less something we can do anything about, they might very well realize that the most difficult part of making a global change in behavior isn’t just the worry over what new direction to go in, but rather getting everyone to stop doing the things that have gained momentum and inertial resistance to that notion that a new direction is needed at all. Before we can all agree to do the same different thing, we gotta all STOP first. The first step in getting everyone to do the same something, would be getting everyone first to do the same NOTHING, as then at least everyone would be on roughly the same page to start.
Somebody — someone with enough resources in time and money and mind — might decide to combine all those elements and conclude that the only thing besides an active sentient attack from outside the species that might be enough of a disruption to our own personal frame of reference on grand enough scale to make a global paradigm shift might be an active NON-sentient attack from outside the species. It’d have to be something that not only poses an immediate TANGIBLE threat to each and every human individual on a personally relevant level, but one that we can RECOGNIZE as such. And though it would have to be dire enough command immediate attention and merit sufficient alarm to be completely disruptive to daily life as we know it,  it could not be so overwhelming that it would cause despair and immediate capitulation or surrender to hedonistic self destruction out of a sense of hopelessness.  Most importantly, it would need to be something that gives each individual both the onus and the agency to do something about it,  along with strong motivation to do it immediately. That might be possible if that something to do about it is simply to stop doing whatever we are used to doing all the time.
Something like, say… global pandemic/virus, perhaps?  (or resistant bacteria – another thing that is already an unintended consequence of our stupid, but a virus is more fluid in the speed of its mutation capability and its potential avenues for transmission and spread.) And maybe you don’t even need to have a real pathogen, if you can manufacture the illusion that one exists.  As much as we are more informed with the internet and the sum of world knowledge available at our fingertips at a seconds notice, we are also notoriously bad at scrutinizing all of that information, and are somewhat easily given over to believing what we see, even if we don’t see it directly ourselves or in it’s full context.  Even those of us who are willing to put in the effort of more critical thinking and verifying or vetting sources can’t always know if the information is trustworthy, especially in this era of the “deep fake.” War of the Worlds convinced many that our planet was being invaded over the radio, and the technology available for creating illusion today is vastly more advanced than what Orson Wells and a Foley artist had to work with.

Now I am NOT, mind you, even daring to propose that Covid-19 is not a very real and very deadly bit of nastiness concocted by Nature, I’m just saying that even if we do our due diligence digging, no matter how deep into the dirt you dive, there are some things that we still have to trust on faith that we are seeing what we think we are seeing.  Basic confirmation bias illustrates this.  And if you are going to err in one direction or another about something as serious as a highly virulent plague of death, it might be wiser to be safer than … well, you might be sorry, or you might be dead.

Either way, that whole climate change thing is looming within sight, maybe not even as far away as the horizon, so…  I dunno, maybe a little disruption to the entire economic ecosystem might Trump Trumping the whole fucking ACTUAL ecosystem.  One of them is integral support in our customary way of life, the other is integral in life support, period.  If fucking up one of those things means we have to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and forge a whole different way forward that is probably still a better option than desperately clinging to what is comfortable and familiar, or even just familiar, for the sake of not wanting to change course only to find out the light at the end of the tunnel was actually a mural painted on a mountainside by some Wile E. Coyote as you plow into it at top speed.

So that is where my head is at right now, anyway. I only got there by thinking that maybe all the rebound in nature in just a short time of human non-activity might be a silver lining, and then I realized it might not be the side-effect at all but the actual goal. THAT would be the sort of 3D chess shit I’d expect from folks with the sensibilities to screw over enough people to make obscene amounts of money in the first place and maybe the brains to realize that thinning the herd for higher quality stock is not a bad thing despite that the weak have feelings too.  I do know that the pompous ass playing President is not the player, but one of the pieces.  (Heck, maybe HE even knows that too. Except he thinks he’s the King rather than just the butt end of the horse the Knight is riding on.)  I don’t even have a clue what is going to happen in the near or distant future, though, as the chances of things returning to the way they were are slimming with time in a curve steeper than the one we’re trying to flatten via social distancing.

So I’m going to watch and see for a while, and in the meantime, there is the ps4 – I am paid up on my PlaystationPlus membership for a whole year right now, provided the network stays running that long and we still have electricity…

The fact that I came to any of these conclusions at all is both worrisome and reassuring. I am once again thinking that if I were of dastardly nature, I might be downright dangerous. Sometimes I don’t think people appreciate how much damage I might do if seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. (I don’t see HOW Stephen King lives with his own imagination, letting it out to play all the time in his books… I’d scare myself to death pulling on those loose threads and unraveling all that darkness in such detail. How do you think of all that horrific shit and not have constant nightmares?)

End of the Ride

Hey all – I need ….someone. Empathy. Understanding. Validation or just plain acceptance of what I feel and why I feel so much GRIEF right now.

Why? Because it’s truly the end. I have been feeling a sense of increased urgency to figure out my life and direction and place in the universe. Partly because of the number 45 – my age – marking the turning point in life where the road is more downhill than up in the changing slope of birth to death, and partly because of some nagging FEELING in the back of my consciousness that I am running out of time to figure it all out.

I imagine it to be the sort of urgency that sometimes people who die very young express as if they somehow know they will not grow old and seem to do more in the time they do have. a It’s not like I was sure I would die before reaching age 60 or anything, but I’ve felt a notable sort of panic-y tension building — just like a horror movie when you KNOW the jump scare is coming, but just not exactly WHEN, and the music is starting to signal it, but you know it might still be a fake out tease too — that somehow, for my discovery of my place in the world, my time is running out.

And it’s made more frustrating that the tools I feel I need to use to get me there are all inexplicably failing in the most irritating ways. For one, the fact that this post is almost impossible to write because the cursor keeps jumping all over the text and inserting the type into previous lines, selecting and overwriting, and generally just not cooperating with the speed at which I ought to be typing it thanks to having to correct and undo every other word. It’s maddening enough to drive me off of posting some of the most important things I have felt I needed to express because it is simply impossible to keep track of the thought when the words won’t come out on the page in order. I need to make five keystrokes on average for every one that should be necessary to get the thought out. But I’m not quitting this time, I’m fighting through it every step of the way even if I have to backspace five times every other word because I really NEED to express this just to see if ANYONE gets it, if ANYONE at all understands and can relate to why I am so gutted right now, because I need to feel a little less like a complete loser and a little less alone.

Because today, TODAY, I got the real shape of that countdown timer to the end. I finally have something concrete on the horizon marking the end of the line. Today is the day my mechanic – the one I chose for being honest to a fault, which made me feel safe that he wouldn’t rip me off on something I was a pretty easy target to get away with it on – he told me that it probably wasn’t even worth me having him do an oil change. And here I was bringing it in hoping to get a few leaks dealt with, maybe even a tune up to help me pass smog. And now I am faced with making the choice of maintaining her or letting it die with an eye towards saving that repair money to purchase another vehicle that might be in better, more reliable condition.

It’s the clutch, you see. Much like my memory and focus and self -esteem, it’s slipping. I had not noticed this, but I do know that I probably burn the clutch quite a bit in the small bit of driving I do, all street stop and go, very little highway and often in traffic. I HAD noticed that the clutch had gone soft on me, which appeared to be the result of a leak in the slave cylinder, and knowing that 60k miles ago it had cost me $500 bucks for a new one ( thankfully, only AFTER holding on until we pulled into a parking space in front of our motel room in Vegas, which made it somewhat forgivable considering the potential towing cost of having gone out somewhere in the middle of the desert vastness between here and there instead), I figured it was imperative that I have it looked at before it possibly stranded me somewhere in the vastness of road between here and the Bay Area, which was a trip I had been plotting to make to re-home some chinchillas that literally have my names on them… ( Well, not MY name, but the names I would have given to chinchillas if they had stuck to the first ones that I tried to attach them to – Chester nor Wally apparently did not want to be called Gizmo or Pikachu, but the two chins looking for a home just happened to be called exactly that. I think I must have them, but they are in Brentwood, and I am here.)

At any rate, I knew that new tires were a must, and that smog check had to be passed, and that she might do with a once over to make sure she was worthy of such a trek. She has gotten me from one end of the country to the other and has been with me longer than my longest lived pet at 23 now, but I was still imagining that she might someday regain her former glossy paintjob and see me through to an adulthood where I might have gainful employ and savings for a future and the overall wherewithal to retire her with dignity when I finally replaced her with a model of my choosing, preferably with the same virgin status that this car once had when I drove her off the lot, to be at the end of her life a single-owner vehicle from start to finish. As long as I could drive her, there was hope of something more and better to come. But this clutch, now, has defined the time period I have left to make something of myself before I lose even more resources to do so. The clutch, showing the definitive sign of eventual failure to come, is essentially the ticking time bomb that blows my life of independence and dreams out of existence and leaves me relegated to settling for what I can get, without the resources to get much of anything.

This clutch needs replacing either now or soon enough when it will go kablooey. And it will cost about $850 bucks to do it. It WILL go, it is only a matter of when, and when it does, the car will NOT be driveable. This is the only path to being able to grab my keys and go when and where I want to and it is already pushing the limit of how much the car is worth in terms of dollar value, and only marks the start of what would need to be done to the car to get it to match the functional state of another used car which might cost half as much as the repairs. What I could get for the money that would end up following this repair should another problem arise, in the suspension perhaps, which is already worn, or other major system would be a better investment of cash and hope for its future reliability. I can scrape around getting some used tires to throw on it, save the money of labor by having my bf install new brake pads in stead of the shop by buying the parts on ebay much like I did when I already earned my own macho points by replacing the radiator myself when that went flooey, and maybe hold back the reaper a little longer with some seals and whatnot being replaced to stop the slow leaks that have sprung up like in the slave cylinder of the clutch, but even if I can maintain the hydraulic function of it by keeping it topped with DOT3 brake fluid — and not letting it dry out like the situation that brought my attention to it now — that slippage means it’s on it’s way out no matter what. AND I still haven’t address the cracked CV boots on both axles yet (when I’d only suspected the one on the left had gone.)

If the money would mean that I might go another 5 or 6 years with her, I’d be okay with that. I like my car, even though it looks like a piece of shit. It FITS me. I bought it because it fits me better than other cars I tried. I am comfortable behind the wheel, and feel her edges as if they were my own. If only someone had been there with a camera to video tape that amazing feat of parallel parking I executed so flawlessly that one Thanksgiving in Hollywood when the only spot available was just a few inches longer than the length of my car, it could have been used as a textbook demonstration of how to do it right: not a single back n’ fill necessary, just 1, 2, 3 and six inches from the curb like a BOSS. Seriously. It was impressive. And I doubt I could have done it in any other car.

But, Stacy says it might be as little as a few weeks, maybe 6 months, no telling when it could be that the next major issue crops up, meaning another 300 or 400 to follow and I am obligated to throw good money after bad if it does? He doesn’t advise it. And it breaks my heart, because he is too honest to be believed in telling me that truth.

Folks, if you have a Honda/Acura (or a Toyota even, as I hear he expanded the business) you can’t do better on a solid guy to treat you and your ride right than Affordable Care of Hollywood on Santa Monica. His yelp reviews drew me in with the talk of the diagrams he would draw to explain the repairs and why they were necessary. And I even got one of those firsthand when I first brought him my car to explain how the master cylinder needed to be replaced. It’s not every mechanic that is willing to tell you when it is time to let go, while still saying he is at my service to do whatever I choose to do. The guy is worth 7 stars out of 5, no doubt.

And when that guy tells you it wouldn’t be worth it to do an oil change service on the car, you know the end is nigh.

This is devastating because I always had HOPE that things would turn around before I ran out of options. As long as I had my car running, I could tell myself that it would somehow come together for me and I could at some point be able to buy a new one – whichever car I wanted, because I would be a grown up that could do such things like buy a car, because I had a job, and a purpose, or something like that – before this one became unusable. It looks like shit, but I thought if I could just get a little more secure, that I could fix it eventually, that someday more options would present themselves. And now that someday is a lot closer, without those options available.

And I can’t seem to stop crying.

Because it means an end to the possibility. If she goes before I can get a grip on shit, I am stuck without a car at all or one that I need help to buy from my parents or one that I just have to get out of need and hate being in. I haven’t even LOOKED at a car in all these years with any interest in being behind the wheel.

(Well, there was ONE exception, and that was another Honda Civic, the 2006 Si model billboard was the only time I ever even thought -” wow, nice car!” I’d not mind getting out of my Civic into one of those, but I think even the price on a 12 year old car is out of my range without real help by several thousand dollars. It even looks good in white, which is something I have never said about any car ever, even my own model civic. In black, though… Yeah I could get behind that…. In theory if not in financing. )

But I need to start saving now for the next ride, that I will have to buy well used if I am to afford one at all, and I might not even have enough time to do it before this one is kaput. Which means more struggle either without a ride at all, or with one I don’t want but need. And I am so tired of trying to reach for the bottom instead of the top.

You see, it’s not the CAR, I’m mourning, it’s my dreams of being something more than I am now… something better, something bigger and more enviable. And if I don’t figure out how to become that before the clutch runs out on my car, I think I will lose hope that I can do it at all. I am muddling through the technology fails on my computer and my phone and my EVERYTHING trying to hold out until I can finally make some good of myself and feel like a functioning human. I really don’t see how you people with children even have that much confidence that you would take on such a responsibility. I think I would not even be sure I could keep a child alive. I have enough trouble with the pets! See my Horrible Hamster Tales blog entry and tell me if I am not right to be wary and traumatized and afraid that I would be unfit to raise a human to succeed in this world. I don’t even know how to do it myself, and I can’t teach what I don’t know. I feel like if I can’t even get a car at 45 without asking my parents for money, I haven’t a prayer of passing anything of value on to the next generation. Maybe a deep and abiding interest in butterfly life cycles, but that’s about it.

I feel like I have run out of time to prove myself worthy at life.

And the people closest to me are baffled that I am upset about how much it will cost to fix my CAR, which doesn’t help me feel like I have surrounded myself with the right emotional support team. It’s not the car I am mourning, it is the idea of my best ME that is dying with her…

Does anyone understand this? Or am I really as alone I as I have feared I might be in the world?

‘iN DEMAND’ But ‘NOW’ No More

Well, who knew?  Customer Service is still a thing!


iNDemandNow…or not.  Now what?

A pleasant and unexpected surprise came to me from iN DEMAND LLC after I sent an inquiry to their contact page regarding a DRM video that I purchased in 2014 and have not been able to access.  Their iNDemandNow.com division of the company (partnered with various cable providers) used to be one of the first stores for purchasing digital downloads of movies on demand, but is now defunct and gone.  I have always been against the DRM stuff just for that very reason:  people who buy it legally always seem to get most screwed by it not working right.

Of course, that is what happened to me and I had not been able to find a solution over the last couple years other than resigning myself to the idea of just buying it AGAIN,  but next time on DVD from ebay.

Still, the principle of the thing bugged me enough to keep holding off from that.  I knew the content protection setup was potentially going to be a problem back when I bought it, but it would have meant another couple of months wait on the DVD release of the show I wanted so badly to see, so I decided to take the chance. I went ahead and purchased an officially licensed download version of Tony award winner’s — and long time favorite talent of mine since the early 80’s —  Jay Johnson’s “The Two and Only”,  which was supposed to be viewable at any time I chose,  unlike a rental version.   (Allow me to say here, that the popular Jeff Dunham is a hack. Jay is incredible.  It’s criminal that the former is probably the one more people are familiar with.

It proved to be a delight worth the risk, despite being a pain in the ass because I had to redownload the player every time I wanted to watch it.  Now, I still have the file and the DRM license info on my drive, but since the content required logging in to an online provider that is now gone, I am SOL in accessing it, despite having paid for the keys to the lock. Having received an answer to a previous email about one of his old A&E’s Evening At The Improv appearances — which, if anyone knows where to find it, I would love to replace that episode I accidentally taped over with the 1988 World Series (which was magical, and almost worth it) — I even wrote to Jay’s facebook and blog pages to ask if he knew how to fix this.  No response, but the guy is like 80 now or something, so I can’t really blame him.

As one last Hail Mary, I decided to fuss at the only related company info I could find and filled out a contact email form on the website for iN DEMAND LLC, if only to satisfy my need to fight the good fight for what is right before resigning to re-buying something I should already own because I really wanted it that badly. (Seriously, It’s a great show. If you haven’t seen it, DO.)

And then, right after I hit send, I promptly forgot all about it.  Mom’s cat, who I am sitting, deciding to have a veterinary issue that became the focus of all my attention for the next day or so. All else was out of sight, out of mind.  I was quite exhausted from that whole ordeal with kitty when I logged into my gmail this weekend and saw a reply from the iN DEMAND domain at the top of my inbox.  Surprising, given that their current company info doesn’t even include any mention of that old platform or that service; I figured there was probably no one to direct the inquiry to.  I actually would have have been less surprised if I’d never gotten any response at all, so I was a little shocked when I read the content of the email.

Dig this! CS, OG-STYLE:

Oct 6-

Thank you for contacting iN DEMAND. We were involved with a number of cable companies in developing one of the very first online video stores.I want to reaffirm that the technology have evolved rapidly and the digital download world runs very smoothly.

Please rest assured that you can still shop for digital video from many sources and the content is easy to access and play. This original online store is no longer live.

Charter most likely is now your cable company and is not a digital download provider presently. I’d be happy to send you this DVD or an Amazon gift card for the value of the digital download? Which would you prefer? Please provide your name, address and phone number so that I may send you whichever you select.

Lauren LoFrisco


Honestly, I did not really expect a reply beyond a “sorry but blah blah blah …” form letter from an AI/Support-O-Botv3.0, if even THAT much, because I figured no one would even have a clue what I was talking about in the first place.   Try and Google the iNDemandNow.com video store to see what I mean — you can scarcely even find any reference online that such a company ever existed unless you search by exact phrasing with quotes, and even then you only get about 4 results total.

So, score one huge win for iN DEMAND LLC  for taking their customer service seriously and stepping up to solving my problem both courteously and efficiently (i.e. like a BOSS: “You want the download or DVD sent to you?” — BOOM. Just like that!)

And now I can’t even be mad anymore.

Here’s an excerpt from my return letter (requesting the DVD this time, as at least I learn from past missteps):

I am glad that there are still a few companies who respect the individual customers and don’t just feel entitled to our business as valueless ‘consumers’ unless we act en masse.  Honestly, I did not expect that iNDemand would be one of those which still had people minding the store, and to have this result is a welcome surprise.

Negativity is easy to pass along, but I find that acknowledging the stuff that is being done right is what makes people want to continue to do that and know that it has an actual effect beyond the quarterly projection at the stock meeting.  The community at facebook that tunes in to my own page will definitely hear about it from me that I received such a positive solution oriented response to my frustrated inquiry.

Lauren LoFrisco:  Your thoughtful consideration has been a bright spot in my day.  Please do pass that sentiment on to your supervisor as well, if you have one, as a note from me that there should be more like you on the other side of the customer service communications everywhere.  I hope they keep letters like this on file for when it comes time to hand out promotions and bonus checks.



Kudos where kudos is due.  This company got it right and I hope others will follow suit.  It goes a long way to possibly entrusting them with future business.  Well done.  Please don’t replace the necessary contributions of someone like the rep here with the saccharine imitation of a bot or AI program.  Or if this is a bot, make them ALL like this.  This being treated like a real person that mattered was a real bright spot in my day.

Ebay shenanigans over some shoes

(Warning:  Some swearing will occur in this diatribe.  Deal with it or move the fuck on… )

REALLY PISSED AT EBAY right now, as they are clearly suffering form the effects of hiring people in other countries for slave wages to deal with their customer service issues and frankly these people are only interested in the volume of issues they can close the book on,. regardless of whether they are actually resolving the problem. I opened a case this morning and found it closed with a final decision this evening along with two responses from the (shifty!) seller who took it upon himself to escalate it in order to try and shut it down by asking them to rule on the issue before even giving me any time to respond to his absurd accusations that I had altered the product I was trying to return.

Background:  This morning,  after much internal debate over whether it was worth the effort or if maybe my appreciation of their aesthetics was enough to outweigh the disappointment in their composition,  I finally  decided to hassle the return of a very pretty pair of western boots that I bought on auction last week which, contrary to the information in the description, turned out to be synthetic, ersatz, man-made, PU, or some other kind of composite material instead of actual leather. My first clue to this fact was the plastic smell of the shoes, and the cold smooth texture of the material. I was immediately suspicious, but unsure, as there was no way to examine the nap of the stuff without disintegrating the boot to see the backing, as  the embroidery and the outer shaft had been stitched through (and possibly glued) to the lining.
But I wanted to believe, I really did.

They were listed as “Vintage,” so I guessed it might be possible that their stiffness and mothball-like smell might be attributed to storage issues and lack of conditioning/maintenance.  I hoped that perhaps an application of some mink oil would restore some of the suppleness that I might have expected from leather, but that hope was short lived, as the liquid form just sort of smeared over the surface like a clear coat and didn’t absorb at all.  I thought maybe it was a product of some polishing wax or maybe it was just really CHEAP leather, wanting it to be so badly because they really were quite attractive to look at and I had passed up other BIN items of known good quality  construction and composition  to wait an additional four days in risky auction bidding to acquire these at a price that was still cheap enough but five more bucks than the one that had made them more attractive than those more expensive items in the first place.  Even though they felt pretty awful to the touch and  to wear, had they been actual leather, the oil should have rectified that to some degree.

I was not awfully surprised that the oil had no effect whatsoever.

Still desperate to hold out hope that I had not been had, I tried a bit of rubbing alcohol, also known to be an effective aid in softening neglected leather, but that also appeared to be in vain, although it did reveal that the shoes were either coated with some black polish wax or had been painted to appear to have more color depth.    I had hoped it was the reason that liquid beaded on the surface of the material instead of absorbing, as it might mean that leather pores were simply covered by that instead of just being non-existent because it wasn’t really leather.   I even switched to a bit of mink oil paste hoping it might have better effect, and that only seemed to leave a waxy haze that went away after heating a bit with a hair dryer, which made me pretty sure in the knowledge that I had been had since I had never had that happen to leather at all, but a plastic?  Yep.

Unfortunately, subsequent self  interne-ducation about how to discern real vs fake leather  eventually led me to the conclusion that it was a bad investment in synthetic shoes,  and a subsequent waste of quite a bit of mink oil that could have been put to better use.  They were pretty enough that I still considered avoiding the fight with the ebay seller (as they didn’t offer returns), but the idea that someone might be trying to get away with scamming people bugged me. I couldn’t see how someone who sold such a large volume of boots could possibly not know real from fake leather, which meant that it would have been a deliberate misleading, in the hopes that most people are not informed enough to know the difference.

And besides, if they weren’t leather, I wasn’t going to wear them so it really didn’t matter how cute they were, and then there was the fact that I had been very deliberate in only considering leather items even though used (or rather this new “pre-owned” bullshit that  somehow is intended to make one forget that someone else has had their foot sweating in it first) leather boots of good quality are frequently twice as expensive as brand new synthetic ones that will still not last a third as long as those second hand kickers.   Usually, in order to get the most selection and therefore the best deals on some items that are poorly worded or incorrectly categorized, I try to search in the ways that will include more potential to be what I want than just searching for what I want even though it means digging through more unwanted junk to find the treasure.  I check the “not specified” items as well as suede and leather since many times a leather shoe is only identified in the text of the ad,  not mentioned in the title and description which are the only parts that are indexed by the search engine.

But I had not wanted to be tempted by lesser quality goods at all,  so this time, I even limited my search to just those that were actually filling out the product descriptions  to specify them as leather material, as there were simply too many to sort through with the wide parameters I had set for style and type and color to browse through since I was more flexible on those particulars.    The one thing I had set in stone that would safely ensure that  the shoes would be worth my price point in consideration was that they be made of leather.     So I was not going to let that slide when I got a super cute pair of vinyl boots, gotdammit…   Had they been leather and in much worse condition than advertised, though, I would have been content to keep them.   But keeping these meant that I would still need to buy another pair of leather boots anyway, and if I wanted to spend that much on top of what these had cost to do that, I would rather have a better more expensive pair of the fucking shoes I wanted in the first place rather than compromising the ones I needed for these fake ones.

So even though it was sure to be a pain in the ass, they had to go back.  HAD to, because I want to get what I pay for and this was not it.  And a little glimpse at the way the seller had responded to other buyers negative feedback (which seemed mostly to center around items not being what they were purported to be  – *cue sinking feeling* as I read those even before the boots arrived at my door) already had me feeling like the person was not entirely honest in his representation, nor polite to customers who were dissatisfied.  I prepared my statement of why I was returning the boots to be irrefutable in evidence that they were not leather, so as to leave no room for accusation that I might be mistaken.

True to form, the seller responded with hostility and defensiveness in the two emails I found waiting for me less than twelve hours after I submitted my request to return the items, along with the unexpected notification from ebay that the seller had immediately escalated the claim to their judgment for resolution  (by calling on the phone and stating his case without waiting for a reply from me to said emails at all, when I couldn’t even escalate the claim until after the a period of three days wait time to allow them the opportunity to respond to my case – how does that work that they can close it without giving me six hours to answer his bullshit?) and that their “final decision” was in HIS favor and I could not get a refund because I ALTERED THE ITEM so they couldn’t be returned.

Wait… WHAT?

Pardon me for a moment while I take a breath to contain the rage that this idea induced.

Oh, I see…Let’s be clear here, now:  Had the oil actually had any effect at all on the damn things,  I wouldn’t have any reason to return them in the first fucking place. .   The jackass claims that because I explained in my evidence that I had applied mink oil (which did NOT actually penetrate the plastic coating, and didn’t have the intended effect of actually being absorbed by said shoe and simply ended up being wiped off again since it didn’t actually DO anything )  to the boots (as one would do to care for leather shoes properly, mind you), now they cannot be resold this way because of my  altering them.  Riiiiight.

So I call the appeal number to explain that the shoe is not in any different state from the way I received it, and it was not painted or distorted from its original condition any more than the shoe polish that had been applied to it made it a different color.  But according to the people on the other end of the phone making a whole 6 cents an hour to solve my problems, putting something on them constitutes “altering” them.

And here is where that “Pre owned” cocknocky crap begins to affect things, because it allows us to forget for a minute that we are not trying to return this brand new spiffy shiny thing that is now not able to be sold because I broke the seal on it and it is no longer the same shiny new item   Remember that these boots are purchased by me are described as  “vintage pre-owned condition with scuffs” and scrapes and torn fringes not to mention warped and half worn soles because they are USED SHOES.  GARAGE SALE FODDER.  SECOND HAND. BEATEN AND WORN AND TORN ON THE FRINGES AND I ALTERED THEM BY PUTTING SHOE CREAM ON THEM???  WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON IN THE HEADS OF THESE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS DECISION?

I assume by this logic that if I bought a dusty ass antique table and wiped it off with some pledge before I set my fruit bowl down on the middle of it and it collapsed from the termite damage that was not evident until something was placed on it,  that would also constitute the item being “altered” then, eh?   Or say,  getting my newly purchased used car washed and gassed up before learning that it was lemon when the mechanic got under the hood would also constitute having ALTERED the thing so it couldn’t be sold as a non-lemon to the next fool to come along after I bring it back and demand a refund?   Of course,  how can you sell it NOW with the little pine tree doohickey making it smell nice and the now shiny tires that I ALTERED with some armour all???

No,  wiping a shoe conditioner onto a SHOE is not altering the fucking thing.   Okay, maybe it is altered by wiping the DIRT off the outside of the thing that made it appear to be darker than it was, but I can put it right back on and un-alter them by rolling them in the fireplace soot for a minute too…  They are in the same condition they came to me in, if a little cleaner.  And let me reiterate,  had they been altered by the addition of this product I applied, I would have happily kept them and been satisfied with my used leather boots.  It is precisely because they were UNALTERED that I had any reason to seek a refund of my money because I didn’t get what I paid for.

I predict that I will be doing some yelling at some very stupid people on the phone in the very near future.   I already called the appeal number and all I got was Dione, the heavily accented useless idiot whose job it was to tell me that the reason I wouldn’t be getting my refund (or be able to return this fake shoe to this scam artist  who leaves abusive and disrespectful feedback responses to any buyers who are unhappy that they got a size 6 when they bought a size 8 or their used shoes were more used than the pictures and description let on when they arrived) was because my application of the mink oil meant I had altered the shoe.  She put me on hold twice to  tell me she was unable to do anything more than report what I had already known from the email informing me of this ludicrous shit.   What do they pay her for?  Transferring me to the unavailable supervisor because I am irate enough to seem like I might blog about it and tarnish the company reputation or something?   Or just telling me that the entire phone call is a clear joke, likely because they are going to close in half an hour  and she’ll take my number down and have the supervisor get back to me within 24 hours….

Yeah, I’m not betting on that one, either…

But you can believe that someone is going to hear from me before that time is elapsed, most definitely.   This is unjust that I can purchase something that I treat as my own to care for it and improve its condition for myself only to find that it is not what it claimed to be when that process has no effect in improving it, nor does it worsen it at all and then when I ask ebay to back up its guarantee to protect me from shenanigans I am told that I invalidate that protection by making the discovery that the item is fraudulent because I treated it as though it were authentic  as promised?  FUCK THAT NOISE.  I AM GOING TO BE A PAIN IN THE ASS ABOUT THIS OVER MY SHITTY SHOES.  I want every fucking penny of my 38 bucks back including shipping regardless of whether I even give them back at this point.  I am gonna ALTER them along with the ASS of whomever tells me that I have nullified the protection ebay promises by shining my own damn shoes as I put them where the sun don’t shine on their hindparts….

I was mildly irritated at the inconvenience of having to explain why the shoes are fake at first, but now I have that righteous anger that means someone is going to regret telling me no, if they dare…

We’re talking Miss Piggy level : “That DOES it… Hiyyyyyyyyy- YAH!!”

I don’t like it when shady people are encouraged to be shifty.   I will become a nuisance just to make a point if I have to.    Look at how much time and energy I have already spent in telling the story – do you really think I am going to just say, ok, and enjoy my fraudulent purchase because your people are stupid?  I will harass folks until they just give me my money back to shut me up even if they still think I am wrong.

Because I am NOT wrong.  THIS is wrong.

Oh and just fyi:  the ebay sellers id is saulwaldo123 and they are currently offering up  275 pairs of used boots and 3 new ones according to my search.  I think that this person would know which ones are leather and which aren’t.  And also should know perfectly well that mink oil is not going to make them suddenly transformed such that they are ruined now.  He knew they were shit already and doesn’t want to pay for them to get sent back to him, I’d wager.  I would suggest being very cautious about dealing with this  seller, as you may end up dissatisfied with what you think you have purchased not living up to the expectation .  Forewarned etc etc….

PSA – Dear Droid Devs: Dessert Does Not Quantify (Announce/Rant 2015.0814)

OKAY that does it. ENOUGH with the acronyms and codewords in the tech already!! Not everything has to have a cute fuzzy name that makes it impossible to know where it fits in the context of software development hierarchy.

It USED to be perfectly reasonable to understand whether or not your device met the minimum requirements when things wee sensibly ordered and named accordingly. If something said your system needed to be at least as advanced as OS 6.2 and your machine said OS 7, you were good to go. NOW, how the hell am I supposed to pick up a software box that says it will only run on systems running LION or above and I am not even sure if my own machine is TIGER or SNOW LEOPARD or whether it came before or after FUCKYOUVERYMUCHKITTY??

WHO decided this would be a good idea and WHY?

And now Android is just as bad. It was always an irritation for me not knowing if I was dealing with Ice Cream or Candy when trying to look up information about a device that I had interest in, but after reading this utterly nonsensical paragraph and the absurdity of it all hit critical mass for me:

“This change actually went live in Honeycomb 3.2, but it received fairly little attention. We can attribute that to a few factors. To begin with, Honeycomb’s source code only became public with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, meaning this change was buried amidst thousands of others. Further, the Nexus One never received an official OTA to Ice Cream Sandwich, so access to the SD card was never visibly lost. In fact, the only device known to be affected by the change was the Motorola XOOM. But the XOOM launched with a disabled SD slot, and by the time it was enabled in 3.2, the issue was usually disregarded as a bug.”

Seriously? A professional person wrote that like it ought to make sense. How’s this for an acronym : **RUFKM?!?**

I swear, I share the same creative spirit that you marketing folks have, but GTFO of the technical specs already. Give your product a cutesy or edgy image and name that conjures the feelings that should go along with it, but please let us stick to the sensible and inherently structured ordinals that mean I don’t have to do goddamn research to understand which things are what in order to compare them. I already KNOW that C follows B and that 3 precedes 4. But I am not going to make comparisons of software based on sugar content.

There is an entire article that is practically useless to me despite the fact that it probably contains the answers to the questions I have that sent me looking for it in the first place, but the only reason I might know it does is because Google spit it out as a likely match for the query. I am pretty well educated, and even have a bit of a .knack for the technical stuff and hyper-developed reading skills and I can’t find anything in that paragraph that makes a lick of sense.

It’s time to let the nerds do their nerdy thing, and the cool marketing slicky sales people need to get the fuck out of the way because they are actually not helping things at all. I am now even more inclined to stick with my feature fucking flip phone just because of how stupid that paragraph was…

Please stop.  If you must get fancy,.then at least pick some symbols which are intuitively obvious in their hierarchy so I don’t have to feel like I lost IQ points trying to understand which generation or iteration of a product you are talking about.

Personalized and Optimised to Petrification

I am already hyper aware of the way Facebook can really exacerbate confirmation bias and polarize politics and sort of give us a weirdly tweaked perception of our lives in a kind of idealized mirror view of ourselves, so an article warning about that filter bubble created by such parsing of news feed items according to FB algorithm was less alarming to me than the one that popped up as related to that one.  THAT one goes a bit more into how some of these personalized results can get rather insidious in ways we don’t even realize until it is much too late on even more supposedly neutral or unbiased sites, because the biases that are built in to the filter aren’t even recognized until something gets personally noticed as a really fucked up result. And they won’t even know what bias created it to fix it!    .

(read about that some more here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/03/23/what-you-dont-know-about-internet-algorithms-is-hurting-you-and-you-probably-dont-know-very-much/)

I think that anything that shapes our thinking by culling the information we get exposed to needs to disclose the process by which that information is selected to be excluded – as well as being very up front and open about how much is actually getting cut being very prominently displayed up front when the information is requested,

But I do want the burden of filtering out the garbage to be left to me to do myself by default and allow others to ask me if I want to be optimized by analysis of the past behavior rather than it being applied as a filter before I get to see what I might want to see and they don’t let me see it because I didn’t know I wanted to see it before I saw it – you know?

Me, personally – my best optimization algorithm for personalized results

One of the most important factors in the optimisation of results is the question of for whom exactly the results are supposedly optimized to benefit. If it is supposed to be for ME, well then how does the algorithm determine what I want NOW based on what I wanted before?
This is obviously interpreted incorrectly by Google’s search function, since they did away with the “search within results” option that used to appear when the damn thing was far more useful and relying primarily on boolean logic and the searchers particular skill with keywords and their own ability to reason and apply that boolean logic to hone the results as they saw fit. I was very good at that for my purposes, and for finding what others wanted to find better than they could find it themselves.
My success was greater because of a particularly useful set of skills to that purpose that is purely contextual knowledge of words and people and how they might habitually behave even if it isn’t how they logically should. Such as a broad vocabulary which allowed me to search common words that most would search as well as less popular but highly specialized and specific words in nuance or synonymous meaning that differentiated the results from less desirable but accurate matches returned by the more common references, coupled with some insight to people’s personality quirks which allowed me to search for things based on the mistakes people would commonly make if they were not native to the culture or outside the usual demographic (think grandparents trying to google a video game to get for their grandkids and not knowing the specs of the jargon which would most likely get them what they would really want, and avoiding some of what they might actually get that they really wouldn’t want to give to children at all that might have adult content without their realizing it – OOOOPS!)
This is not just because I can recognize patterns in behavior, but also because I can intuit or reason out WHY those patterns exist and adjust accordingly when the pattern alone doesn’t generate the correct result. That is a particular analytical ability that the algorithms cannot match without being told to do so by someone who has realized that the results were poor in the first place. FEEDBACK to the algorithm about its results and their usefulness is not immediate enough to adjust for in a subsequent search, but a person knows immediately when they didn’t get what they wanted. Without the ability to know how the information is filtered, even someone who would be able to alter their search to find a better answer cannot do that because they have no idea what variables are in the equation and how they are weighted to produce the bad results they got and it ends up an exercise in futility and experimental frustration.
Another plus in my column as internet sleuth and hunter of all things obscure extraordinaire is my own technical understanding – and the awareness of how the people who programmed the tech might think differently than people who USE it can also be a factor – and my somewhat unusual ability to interface with both people and machines with pretty equal fluency, when many are usually much stronger with one or the other the way someone is right of left handed. This means that I not only understand how the boolean logic terms and ordering of the search will affect results depending on how things are grouped and that it matters where you put the OR’s AND’s and NOT’s much more than people realize when you are talking to a computer program as opposed to your English professor. The computer will not adjust for what it understands you REALLY meant when you input something that you thought you wanted the way your prof might, it will just give you what you actually asked it for, which can often differ GREATLY from what you wanted to get.
And that is really the thing I miss most about that Search within results action, in that it was much easier to start with what you KNOW was actually working and then be able to eliminate the things that were not in a sequential manner of paring down by subsets. It was the process of combining exact boolean reasoning with the more nuanced variables to adjust the formula to get custom results for each and every different reason for each search and was a very efficient method of separating the wheat from the chaff regardless of however that wheat variety changed from search to search. An algorithm sees wheat as WHEAT, and sorts accordingly, without the ability to alter the grain’s texture or choose different strains according to whether its to be made into something else as an ingredient or whether it is to be of the best quality for its own standalone value for direct consumption, nor does it account for the fact that the premium wheat may be much more expensive and impractical for someone to use if they intend only to pound it into a flour to make some kind of natural adhesive paste that only needs to be non-toxic and not necessarily tasty.
Reasons for what we want what we want change as well as what we want, but the formulas are not equipped for guessing our motivations when we ask it a question at all. And people are often not even always aware of their own reasons for wanting something enough to tell an algorithm that might be clever enough to ask for that information to aid its selection even if there were one that dared to do that. I could do better than many people could do for themselves with that old unadulterated by personalisation boolean slave that Google search used to be because I am intuitive and curious and highly empathetic and well educated and articulate and have pretty good reasoning skills for critical analysis as well as broad exposure to various cultures and diverse cross sections of the population outside of my own comfort zone and familiarity, Awareness and objectivity are not the same thing, and though I may not always be able to tap into both at once, I do have the understanding that sometimes I might confuse them and what that might do to my perception.
An algorithm just is never ever going to get that fucking personal. People can’t even get that personal. But maybe one person can get that close to themselves to find what they really need if they look for it. I don’t mind overwhelming amounts of garbage I don’t need coming at me when i first sit down to look at it, because I was really good at knowing how to tweak my inquiry just so and eliminate the majority of the unwanted stuff myself right away, So in an overwhelmingly impossibly sized haystack with a mountain of needles buried in it, I’d essentially be an electromagnet that only attracted needles made of a particular alloy – leaving me to search for a needle in a moderate sized pile of needles if I wanted one that was a rare or unusual blend of elements, But the algorithms can only make a really unwieldy pile of needles that is just as impossible to go through one needle at a time or maybe an unwieldy amount of smaller specific haystacks with needles that I have to do specific searches in each one to find what I sek making that equally inefficient.
Finding a really obscure needle is easier my way. So I want to be able to search for information MY WAY. Cause I;m better at it than any algorithm that can ever be devised by anyone anywhere ever…I am a big girl and would prefer that I be allowed to decide for myself what kind of results I want to see without the helping hand of personalization.  It seems like those results eventually have the actually opposite effect they intend by trying to filter according to whatever it assumes about me or why i want to find anything.
I LIKE to grow and change, so it only makes sense that I will not be content by the answers selected and filtered by any function that might generate any algorithm to do my choosing for me. since it lacks prescience to see the future. That actually is a pretty good way to ensure that I don’t change by repeating the past.
Because by definition, things that don’t grow or change don’t LIVE.

There is only ONE reason to attend any college: taking the classes that are offered there.

So I read this the other day:


There are so many things wrong with this article, I am not even sure where to begin.

Actually, no, I DO know. It starts on the whole wrong premise of why anyone should even be applying to college in the first place. I WISH I had known what I know now about selecting a school the first time around. You see, I was raised to think of college as part of the compulsory education, not as a separate specialized study for greater depth in field of interest, I figured I was expected to go to school (Kindergarten through College) and that once I had my degree I would be free to do what I wanted with my life.

What I did not understand, was that my mother envisioned college as the magical job ticket, not as having any value in the actual education I might receive, so my dutiful attendance of college was ultimately a misguided effort at best since I had no idea at all what I wanted to do with my life by the time I was applying to schools. This is important: I should not have gone to college, at least not right away. Not until I had a reason to go, and could select a school that best fit that reason. When your reason is because its what you’re supposed to do, then you have no idea how to select an institute to give you what YOU need.

Which brings me to the next point – these schools and the idea that you are somehow trying to clamor and fight for the right to attend their institution because THEY are such hot shit is fully idiotic. No student needs to be concerned about heartbreak or self worth thanks to rejection from a school that encouraged them to apply! And these counselors are the ones doing that damage, since they are not making the selections they don’t actually know what any school might want out of any individual because the problem is they are trying to sell the individual to the school and the reality is that it should be the other way round.

Students with a solid enough academic record are plenty well capable of gaining acceptance into any institution if it is one that genuinely has something to offer the STUDENT. A student should be looking at the schools that can fit the needs they have and then go about informing the school exactly why you as a student can benefit from what they have to offer rather than what they can get from you. They will get the tuition from you, or someone else, that is what they are in it for, and that is why they reach out to students who show enough academic promise to meet a baseline, The shining out is not done on the report card, it is done in the interview process and the personal essay and the reasons you give the selection committees to believe that you will find a reason to stay there and continue to pay that tuition for several years and then represent them well on the other side of that.

COLLEGE IS A TOOL TO BE EMPLOYED TO YOUR NEEDS, NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR LIFE. YOU SHOULD KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR LIFE BEFORE SELECTING A SCHOOL TO BEST HELP YOU ACHIEVE THAT IF AND ONLY IF THAT IS NECESSARY TO WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH! Don’t waste your money and energy on it just because that is what you’re “Supposed” to do. NO one knows what anyone is supposed to do to achieve success, The ones who achieve it frequently did it through perseverance in pursuit of something specific, not because they got a degree in it, but because they wanted to do it they learned about it and studied it to a depth of knowledge which helped them do something with that knowledge they could apply.

Unless you are going into medicine or law, you may not necessarily benefit from four or more additional years of schooling. Particularly not if you are bright and capable and already had a good prep school education gearing up for that college experience, I found that I was vastly disappointed in the college level of education because it failed to exceed the quality of teaching I had already received in high school. I ended up choosing a liberal arts college (which is now considered one of the new “ivy leagues” as it is New England wintery and old and small enough to do that, I guess) and after a year I realized I was going to have to transfer because there was NOTHING at all in the course catalog that even looked remotely interesting to me and filling four years of credits with that which was available was going to be an arduous and unpleasant task.

It was a GREAT school , mind you, with all the high marks in the Fiske guide to snobbery and pretentiousness that make it impressive as a name to drop. but there was nothing there for me to LEARN. And the kicker is that my counselor had “advised” me that particular school was a “reach” for me to apply to! Seriously? Based on what? I knew that was my first choice though, by the first round of deadlines so I applied early decision. I got my acceptance and that was that, one and done, and the rest of my senior year was nothing to sweat since I had my admission to college in December already, reach or no reach.  What a load of puckey! They wanted me because I wanted them and had a decent enough academic record. What set me apart was most likely the passion and personality I put forth in the things that were not quantifiable by grades, but conveyed by my recommendations and my own expression. They would have been foolish not to take me, and I knew that despite my academic record being only solid and not uber-exceptional. And it really didn’t matter if they said no, because the point was to apply to put your best foot forward and if they said no, it was pretty much their loss as there were other schools that could do for me the same if not better than they could. You don’t recruit only those who are the most obvious academic powerhouses, you recruit those with the potential to find greatness with what they can give. Those are not always the 4.0+ GPA’s because not everything in life is a test to be graded. It depends on what the college is selling and what the student is looking to buy. “rating” only matters if the selling point of your degree is going to be based on the BRANDING of the institution on the diploma rather than the quality of the knowledge a candidate has. Unless you are looking for the school to sell you as a hire, who cares? Find a school that will teach you something useful, even if it is a community college because the reason to learn it should be for the knowledge not the label.

Now as to the idea that schools are bruising these fragile children with these recruitment strategies, GIVE ME A BREAK. Rejection is something they better get used to in the real world anyway, so I don’t see wny that should scare anyone off. Get tough now so you don’t get knocked so far down on your ass the first time the real world gets a shot at you. This is asinine to blame schools for reaching out to students who might benefit from what they have. You don’t know someone just by looking at their highschool transcript. IT is a PASSION and a DESIRE that drive the driven to excel . If a student wants something badly enough to pursue it with their whole effort, then get the hell out of their way, don’t judge them not good enough on paper. SHEESH, I did a ton of shit when was younger just because I had no idea it wasn’t possible half the time.

The real irony in my case is that I had a summer job at a temp agency right before I went off across the country to attend my freshman year of college. It was as the personal assistant to the main account holder on one floor of the downtown Deloitte and Touche office in L.A., and I was doing a lovely job for them, much to the relief of the other secretary who usually handled the rest of the floor and who had been burdened with the work of my job for some months as they tried unsuccessfully to find someone half capable to fill the position when the regular hire had left to start a family. I could hot understand why anyone found the job so challenging as I was managing just fine, well enough that I was soon offered the permanent position once my contract with the temp agency was completed.

The woman who delivered the offer was just about floored when I explained that I was due to leave for the opposite coast to go to school at the end of the summer, so I could not accept it. She blinked and seemed puzzled at the notion of “school” and in a bewildered voice asked, “…Wh-… Bu-…. How OLD are you?” and her jaw fell open when I responded, “Seventeen,” as if that were only natural. I had no idea that it was not, and so I went off to school in September, leaving behind a job that would be the envy of any entry level applicant trying to get a foot in the door of that company without a blessed CLUE as to the career I likely would have excelled at and become well compensated for. It was, in short, the precise sort of position that my mother hoped to assure me securing with this degree I went off to get. How stupid. I could have just stayed there, and become indispensable and saved her a hundred grand of tuition fees and myself a lot of stress. If I had wanted to get higher up the ladder, I am sure I would have found a way to take courses while working to increase my knowledge, but the practical experience I had would have already put me ahead of the game against any four year graduate down the line, but I left to go to college because that is what I was supposed to do to get the job. HAH!

Asinine, right? And if only I had understood that I was not going to school to learn anything, but to get a job ticket, I would have just stayed put and been wildly successful. Currently, I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and no job and no idea what the heck to do with myself, while had I skipped the whole college crap, I’d be either the right hand of the Director of Ops at one of the largest accounting companies in the world, or well on my way to being that Director myself just for sticking with the summer job I took to get some extra cash because it offered 12 bucks and hour, which was way more than minimum wage for skills I already had at the end of high school. GOOD skills that apparently are in short supply enough that they couldn’t find an adult with a degree to do the damn job half as well as a seventeen year old HS graduate.

So figure out what you are doing and make sure that going to college is worth the time and money to you to achieve your goal. You might be surprised to find that it is not serving that ultimate goal to go at all and there may be other paths that are more direct. College is not for everyone, nor should it. be. The world, and the job market, needs skilled people that can DO something well, If college is not going to further your capability to do something well then aren’t you just some kind of designer label that costs thousands of dollars to try and impress people with? Sure some few people can afford the 80 thousand dollar handbag made by Chanel or whatever, but most of us just need something to shove our crap into so we don’t drop it and a simple handbag from Ross will suffice for that. Why bother with the hassle of the label when you are only going to drop that sucker into an office drawer when you get to work and never look at it anyway.

There is only ONE reason to attend any college:  taking the classes that are offered there.  If a school offers classes  that you would benefit from attending, then apply there and attend if they accept you, and if they don’t, apply somewhere else that will offer similar courses and will also let you attend them.  Or audit them.  Or apply again to the school that rejected you if they are the only one that offers those types of courses.  The name of the institution is not so important as the quality of information presented, and don’t be fooled into thinking that the biggest names provide the best education at all.  It’s a game you can never win if you start evaluating life through the value of a name brand.  The advantage provided by the degree is more than the advantage provided by the pedigree of the degree, but the reason the degree is of any value at all is because it is supposed to indicate that you have been exposed to the requisite information to get it.    Don’t make the mistake I did in just thinking I had to go to college because it is what I was supposed to do.  I wish I had decided what I wanted to DO first so that I could apply to schools best equipped to help me achieve that and better avail myself of the opportunities within that environment too.

All I have now is a piece of paper that means I got a higher education, but the stuff of real value came from a few classes in the form of wisdom.  I’d rather have that and the paper hasn’t helped me get anything anyway.  Most jobs I would be interested in having would require a whole different background and even further schooling anyway.  Not sure it couldn’t have been better doing something else with that time and money instead.  But thank GOD my parents paid for it all up front.  At least I don’t have student debt….

The value of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Systems from THIS side of the phone line

When I have little patience as it is for the fact that I have to suffer the indignity of talking to a machine instead of a person that insults my intelligence with its programmed courtesies and pleasantries that are negated by its lack of cognitive ability to mean them in any way at all and therefore makes them an additional irritation rather than a courtesy and a ridiculous waste of time at best, it is even MORE absurd that the monotonous droning vocal facsimile insists on rattling off any number of useless bits of unsolicited info at the speed of slug that I do NOT need to know before I am presented with the menu option of what I wish to achieve by calling in the first place which is where I ought to have been offered a selection to hear it if desired. It then add further fire to my ire when upon finally having the option that I seek presented to me to select, I am given another phone number to call so that I can listen to THAT automated intelligence insult machine to repeat the process all over again.

I AM IN A HURRY DAMMIT. I don’t want to exchange pleasantries with electronics nor do I desire a recounting of all the recent interactions I have had with my account, I just want to pay the damn bill. It should be a simple procedure of dialing, entering my account number, pressing a selection to pay that is immediately offered , and then continuing with the necessary prompts to find out how much I want to pay and with what payment method and hold for confirmation BEEP DONE THAT IS ALL.

It ought to take me longer to type this rant about it than the entire process of paying that bill. Sadly, I would say it was at least a 4x longer effort to hear out the drone to accomplish it. AT LEAST.

If I have to deal with a machine, fine, then allow me to be efficient with it the way a machine would interact without all the unnecessary code that gums up the works, but don’t make me deal with it like a person I can’t even interrupt to ask what the fuck number to press to get shit done, okay? It’s not fooling me into thinking its being polite Its rude to force me to show courtesy to something that doesn’t recognize it and its rude to think I will be convinced by the imitation of a person that is clearly a program and It’s wasting my time and seriously pissing me off.

Who has time for that shit?

Does ANYONE find that interaction anything but a distraction and a disservice when a machine is programmed to say, “thank you” or ” I’m sorry” ? HIRE A FUCKING RECEPTIONIST AND HELP OUT THE ECONOMY FUCKTARDS!

My KINGDOM for a properly useful real human being to field and direct incoming phone calls!! The company that decides to lose a bit of profit margin for the sake of sanity and ACTUAL respect and courtesy instead of imitation cheapout-fuck-you-they-won’t-know-the-difference (oh but I sure as hell CAN believe it is not butter, Bitch!) ersatz courtesy bot-vox facsimile nonsense will be the company that indicates society is actually worth saving at all.


“Beware Greeks bearing gifts….”

Sooo I got a notice in the mail from TWC (my fairly recently re-acquired ISP) which informed me of the fabu news that I, like some winner of the internet lottery, was the lucky recipient of a no-hassle upgrade to their services. It seems that my internet speeds shall be increased upwards of threefold at no extra charge!

Interesting that when the service entirely disappears this last weekend, there is no admission on their part that the upgrade might have anything to do with that. This, however, might be due to the fact that support available from whatever third-world country to which TWC has outsourced its unhelpful brand of read-the-script-which-is-useless-to-solve-any-actual-technical-problem-besides-user-stupidity-and-unplugging-the-equipment non-technical “help” does not actually have the ability to do anything other than waste 45 minutes of my time going through the motions just to get to the point where the heavily accented individual on the phone can confirm that my modem is not online despite there being no bigger area-wide outage.

(REALLY? I’m not online? You don’t SAY!… Funny, I thought that I WAS and just needed to call tech support to be sure it wasn’t my imagination and sure enough it IS! So, what can you do to fix that? I can make an appointment for a tech to come inspect the modem FIVE DAYS LATER even if the problem might be solved or at the very least diagnosed by simply exchanging it for another one myself tomorrow? GREAT! Let’s do that! Meanwhile, you can also tell me some helpful things I can do without having internet access by visiting websites and downloading tools to check on the status of things….you know, when I finally get back online!) **SUPER RUFKM FACEPALM**

Fortunately, waiting for a visit or replacing the modem has proved unnecessary since the problem appears to have rectified itself of its own accord, perhaps because TWC has fixed whatever was causing the outage at the head end, despite having it firmly lodged up their OTHER end…

I will note that while speedtest does reflect the new improved bandwidth, I have not noticed any appreciable difference in practical use. That may be that there is just no real time savings in the jump from instantaneous to superinstantaneous and the plateau of what I might really care about was hit somewhere back around the 10 Mbps mark, making the jump from 15 to 50 somewhat less exciting than it would appear to be on paper. I might actually feel improvement, though, if I have to upload something given the jump from 1Mbps to 5Mbps (in case I decide to try my hand at youtube celebrity or distribute my media library to the world via bittorrent or something.)

Still, my initial reaction to such a boon coming from TWC unbidden and without a price hike is less one of gratitude, celebration and joy than of wariness and suspicion. ALL of me knows that TWC is not a benevolent being which aims to earn the hearts and charitable thoughts of its market base but a conglomerate of profit seeking machines that are not above extortion of that same market base. Why do you suppose I don’t trust this upgrade as being as ostensibly free of charge as they claim? Is this some kind of requirement they had to fulfill as a penance for a merger with Comcast or what?

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Thoughts on (legit) Pole dance and the “stigma of the strip clubs”

Today, I read something that wanted a reply in a FB group that I have just joined, and since my membership request to the group has not yet been accepted, I was unable to post my response to that comment directly in the thread. But then  I figured it might make some good blog fodder anyway, so I figure I will go ahead and speak my mind here, and then just link to this in that thread once I am allowed to participate so I don’t forget to go back to it later.  It reads:
“I was wondering if any of you other polers face a stigma of “pole dancing” when you tell family or friends that you pole. My mother hasn’t seen me on the pole but when we chat she makes it sound like its something nasty. My husband is beyond proud of me but when his friends find out that we have a pole in the house there are always comments with a sexual inuendo. This irritates me. I pole for me! For health, strength and confidence. Any tips on how to gently (or not) set these people straight?”


Now, This is interesting to me from the standpoint that it is a part of the artistic world, and that just because there are poles in strip clubs, having a pole at home isn’t necessarily anything to do with sexuality, but also interesting because I happen to know the sexy side of things from actually having been a stripper. The first thing that I note is the negative connotation that is associated with that concept of a strip club is generally perpetuated by people who have never actually been INSIDE of one.

It might surprise many to learn that first person I met who was a member of MENSA and also was the first to put the idea in my head that I would also qualify was someone I met while working in a strip club. And it may further surprise folks that it was not a customer, but another dancer a few years younger than me. It is because of that young woman that I became more aware of how much brain power I really had, and also by extension how that then really ramped up my sense of social responsibility and speaking up about politics and community leadership when before I had never considered myself at all qualified to say anything.

My own mother recently made a rather reflective comment about how “it isn’t like how people make it seem,” when I mentioned that day she utterly shocked me by coming to visit me at my place of work, to comfort me after finding me very distraught with her phone call. She had long been disapproving of my choice of work, having made all sorts of assumptions about it based on reputation of seediness, but this instance she must have felt the need to come and rescue her baby, because she came to the club that afternoon, bearing a care package.

Once she located me, which was difficult for the fact that she didn’t recognize me in my dragon robe and thigh high boots and hot pants and blonde wig, she looked around at the mostly empty place as we sat on a couch near the entrance and noted, “I don’t see a lot of fake boobs!” as though she found it rather baffling that the women who worked there were actually real people and not Barbie dolls. And then “Chanel,” one of the more outgoing dancers, came over and started to chat with us, putting her even further at ease, and we all ordered lunch.

When the time came for my own turn at bat, I assured my mother that the management would allow me to skip my scheduled turn on stage, as I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable watching me do my strip show in a nude club, and having now had the opportunity to reconcile the real me with the world she had not understood before, actually threw me for a loop by saying, “well, I don’t know… I think YOU’D probably do something more interesting than just walking around the pole…”

Okay. Challenge accepted.

I made my way to dressing room and gave the DJ my set instructions, and pulled out all the stops on the stage show with one of my many “theme sets” which comprised of a fantasy costume and music combination and usually some Circque du Soleil inspired pole ballet some 18 feet above ground on 4play’s exceptional pole that stretched all the way to the ceiling of the second story. As surreal as the idea was that I was putting on the show primarily for my MOM since there were only two or three other patrons there, I still love to perform, so she got the full treatment. And then she couldn’t stop being impressed and amazed. By the time she left that day, she not only had a transformed opinion of strip clubs and what I did there, when she met my manager before leaving, she actually leaned over the bar to whisper proudly and confidentially to him as she patted me on the small of the back with one hand. “She’s very good…!” She even paid for Chanel’s lunch along with ours.

So when you mention the stigma of pole dance that comes along with the association of the naked places, perhaps the first thing to call into question is not whether the pole is being blamed unfairly by that, but whether the whole branding of female sexuality as a whole has been maligned in this negative light, along with the clubs and the people who frequent them for work or pleasure. I can honestly say the one place I could not hope to classify into one homogeneous group label all of the various sorts that cross paths there, are the strip clubs and nudie bars I have been in across the country. One of the best things I enjoyed about such work was the thought at the beginning of each shift, “I wonder who I will meet today?”

There is apparently one thing that seeming every single type of human, male or female, single or married, old and young, rich or poor, the lonely and the adored, smart and educated to not so much, from black to white and all in between ALL seem to have in common there too – an appreciation of beauty and the opportunity to witness it for the price of a 2 drink minimum. So if pole dancing is anchored in that – it is a stigma I don’t mind. Viva la topless joints and Nudie bars of the world!!