Stuff of the Day

Update: I had a very good weekend.  Fun times, enoyable time spent with people I like.  Couple of annoyances, like having a headlight on my car go out Friday night, and having to replace it Saturday ($17.51 for the bulb, which isn’t bad, just an unexpected expense with shitty timing), and how freaking HOT it was Friday and Saturday.  Stressing out over money – I’m on stupidly tight funds until July 10th.

Saw The Proposal on Friday night.  It was cute, funny, pretty good.  Despite the whole “chick flick” stigma, it was a solidly enjoyable movie.  I was previously misinformed, however, as to the amount and extent of Sandra Bullock’s nudity in the film – definitely could have used more of that, IMO.  😉

Additionally, saw The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen yesterday afternoon on/as part of Kara’s Birthday celebration.  It was OK.  Some of the Bayhem-isms on the film annoyed me.  The spinning camera around Shia and Megan in one scene was really, really irritating.  It downright made Kara queasy.  The massive, excessive overutilization of Shakycam also bugs the crap out of me.  It’s not limited to this film, or Michael Bay, it seems to be used in practically everything now for action.  Such a horrible blight on the film industry.  That needs to either die entirely, or be relegated to very limited, “special” usage when it’ll actually accentuate a scene and give it more impact due to its rarity.

T2 is worth seeing.  Especially on a matinee if you can.  Does it have flaws, problems?  Oh hell yes.  It also has giant robots fighting, and a few very funny moments (Sam’s mom at college was great).

Link of the Day: Interesting and unusual car paint jobs

Spam of the Day: “Best oil for pork motor” – Seriously, I don’t make any of this stuff up.

Funny of the Day: I’m tempted to try this one, but I am skeptical of the results I’d get.

Pic of the Day: Too soon?

Quote of the Day: “(972): they say celebs die in threes. leave it to billy mays to throw in one extra COMPLETELY FREE!” – Someone from TFLN.

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Stuff of the Day

Update: Dunno what to say really. Worked late yesterday, working late today.  Going out tonight, will have to not drink at all, or drink -very- conservatively.  Seriously don’t want to wreck my diet again.  Dating front continues.  Small progressions, nothing notable yet.  Playing Poor until Friday.

Had a decent weekend.  Saturday was good, even though I had to work a half-day Saturday morning.  Got a good start on getting automatic updating working for our product, though it’s still not fully working with patches.  Haven’t sorted out why, yet, but I will.  Hung out with a friend Saturday late afternoon/evening into the night.  Worked on her very old, way slower than I thought, laptop, trying to get it updated and functional and reasonably reliable.  It informed her of a SMART disk error and impending drive failure the very next day.  :/

Link of the Day: Photos inspired by the 7 Deadly Sins

Spam of the Day: “Hey, open it up”

Funny of the Day: Kangaroo-like Pouch

Pic of the Day: I’d date her.

Quote of the Day: “If you like nerdy n’ dirty girls, she’s it, in fact, she’s kinky n’ thinky!” – Chris Gore

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Stuff of the Day

Update: So, I got my electricity bills yesterday.  Yes, bills – plural.  My mess with Bounce energy still isn’t resolved.  They sent me two bills.  For two different ESID #s, both, they claim, for my address.  I spent 38 minutes on the phone with them this morning, talking to 3 different people, having to re-explain the entire situation every time, despite the second person saying she was going to take the time to enter detailed notes on the case – so I wouldn’t have to explain it all again. *eyeroll*

It’ll be a couple of days before I hear anything. Or, if is as it has been for them thus far, they never call me back, and I decide to call them Friday and ask what the hell’s up.

Link of the Day: Stem cell contacts cure blindness

Spam of the Day: “Your presence is obligatory”

Funny of the Day: This wouldn’t have been a problem for me.

Pic of the Day: Colorful map of the brain

Quote of the Day: “If you go away, On this summer day, Then you might as well, Take the sun away” – Cyndi Lauper, If You Go Away

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Stuff of the Day: Can I Get Health Care For My Checking Account Balance? Edition

Update of the Day: I didn’t post anything yesterday because while I was at work, due to the time missed for my Dermatologist appointment, I was really busy, and once I got home, I was just really tired, didn’t feel like doing much of anything on the computer, and just sat/laid in bed watching TV, catching up on House, Chuck, Heroes, and Reaper.

After Monday’s frustrations and stress with the electric mess, Tuesday was another joyous day of hurry the hell up and wait.  I had a 2:45 appointment with the Dermatologist, so everything I did at work that day was harried and busy and just didn’t give me much time for slacking off productivity improving “zoning out.” I was informed that the Dermatologist would probably eat up the rest of my afternoon and wouldn’t be able to get back to work.  It actually took slightly less time than that, I got out of there right before 4:30, dropped my prescriptions off at HEB, and headed back to work and had around 25 minutes to pick up support emails that came in while I was sitting and waiting.  

Oh yeah.  Those prescriptions.  Three of them.  Apparently, I have Rosacea.  Damn my Northwestern European heritage, the Curse of the Celts.  Why couldn’t I get more love from the Comanche side of my blood for my face/skin/complexion?  The Dermatologist wrote me three scripts. An oral antibiotic (Doryx, etended, time-release Doxycycline – why some older, cheaper tetracycline won’t work, I don’t know), and two different face gels, Metrogel and Finacea.  I didn’t know how much these were going to cost me.  I figured they probably wouldn’t be the lowest-cost per my prescription plan, at $15 each, though maybe the antibiotic might be.  I figured, “well, probably be like $90 for these, maybe I’ll get lucky and it’ll only be $65.  Nope.  $50 each, the max cost for a monthly supply per my CareMark coverage.  When she cute girl at HEB rang me up, I let out something like a cross between an audible gasp and gutteral profanity.  When the signature screen asked me “Is this amount: $150 ok?” I commented that I really didn’t want to click  Yes, it’d be lying.  No, it’s NOT ok.  But, resigned, I paid it.  

Today, on  the next page of happy medical adventures, I spent even more time than yesterday at the Opthamologist’s office.  They’re really big on the waiting there.  Face time with someone of medical value in scrubs?  Maybe 15 minutes total, and that’s probably pushing it.  Time in the office? Almost 2 1/2 hours.  I came out of there with my eyes numbed, tinted with yellow dye, and massively dilated.  With another prescription.  I haven’t been to the pharmacy to pick it up yet, but I hope it’s not another $50.  My checking account balance has just been taking hard shots all week long, and it’s only Wednesday.  So many potential plans have just dried up, and now it’s going to be a lean 3 weeks at least until my second pay check of May on the 15th, and I’ve already got additional expenses delayed until then.

At least I’ve got something to look forward to this weekend.  Might post something about that later, might not.  For now, it’s a secret. 🙂

Link of the Day: LED Hard Drive Clock

Spam of the Day: “We sell the best alarm-clocks for your small buddy down there.”

Funny of the Day: Obama’s First 100 Days, per Facebook

Pics of the DayKamamara Matsuri or the Festival of the Steel Phallus

Quote of the Day: “Always take a job that is too big for you.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

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Stuff of the Day

Update of the Day: So far, it’s been just a lovely, happy, jolly day.  <- Insert sarcasm there.  It wouldn’t have been so bad, really, if I wasn’t dealing with yet another bureaucratic SNAFU.  I’ve had hassles with insurance, hassles with my 401k, and now today, I get a call from my apartment complex asking about my electric service, saying that TXU called them, saying the power was still being billed in their name, that it has been for the last 2 months, and I owed like $240-something dollars.  Or maybe it was $280, I’m not sure.  I knew I didn’t owe it, I’ve had Bounce Energy, already gotten my first bill, paid it, and have my second bill sitting on my desk at home.  Provided proof of my service to the complex, called Bounce and had them fax over proof of residence/proof of service.

Well, it seems, Bounce has the wrong ESID for my apartment.  Which means I’ve been billed, and have been paying for, someone else’s electricity bill.  Which also means that the amounts I’ve been billed for currently, are almost certainly wrong.  The way my luck goes, the correct amounts will be higher. :/

It is, indeed, higher.  The two bills I’ve received from Bounce, for the wrong ESID, totalled less than $80.  What does my complex want me to pay them (not counting since the end of the current bill they have, or the “5 to 7 business days” Bounce says it’s going to take to get this sorted out and have them properly handling my electric bill, like I thought they have been for the last 2 months?  $228.16.  TXU’s billing Windscape at 18 cents per kwh.  With Bounce, I’d be paying 11.8 cents per kwh.  My proper bills would be higher than the two I’ve gotten so far, but nowhere near totalling 228.16. 

This is really crappy timing.  I’ve got 2 more Doctor’s appointments the next 2 days, with those copays, plus whatever it’s going to cost for any prescriptions I end up with out of those.  I’m past angry.  I’m at sort of a simmering resigned rage.

Link of the Day: Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 May Have Scientific Basis

Spam of the Day: “The Queen and Her Jester – Role Play of the Month”

Pic of the Day: Sexual Positions (for the lonely and loveless)

Quote of the Day: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. – Anais Nin

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Stuff of the Day: Eggsplosion Edition

Update of the Day: So, after going months at this job with almost no issues with being here on time, I’ve had a rougher time of it lately.  I resolved to fix that after being 40 minutes late one day (when I lost my phone, which was shut off, jammed between my bed and the wall), and I’ve been experimenting with some different alarm schedules.  Yesterday didn’t go so well.  This morning was going better, I was probably going to be at work right on target (3ish or so minutes “early”), though I could still have gotten up and moving 5 or 10 minutes quicker.  Then, as I was scrambling eggs in the microwave for breakfast – something I’ve done lots of times before with no issues – there was this loud popping sound emanating from said device.  It startled me, of course scared Baby into bolting into another room and into hiding (just as I’d given her a little bitty bit of half and half), and as I yanked open the microwave, I discovered what had happened: an eggsplosion.  The roughly 3/4 done scrambled eggs had popped somehow, and small little bits of soft eggy fragments were all over the inside of the microwave.  Not wanting to leave this as it was (and wanting to finish cooking the portion of eggs that remained in the container, so I could actually eat them), I spent probably 10 minutes cleaning up the inside of the damn microwave (which was nigh spotless before) so I wouldn’t have little stone-hard bits of crisped egg baking onto the interior.  So, I went from on-target, to walking in 4 minutes late . . . to an admonishment about slipping on that lately and instruction to fix it waiting for me.

Still no ketones in my urine this morning.  Irritating.

Went back to see Dr. Doctor this afternoon.  Waited for an hour and ten bloody minutes, and finally poked my head out of the room’s door to ask them if they’d forgotten about me, when finally she came in to see me and talk to me.  One of my hormone levels came back low on my bloodwork.  So that gets to get treated.  I was offered two options – come in every 3 weeks for a shot, which would result in big spikes and then falling levels of said hormone, or a gel that’s rubbed into the skin (and I guess permeates it and get into the bloodstream, like patches?) applied daily.  Opting for the latter, which the doctor thinks is the better option of the two (though more expensive) I’m going to get that filled tonight and get to start this treatment tomorrow morning.  Yet another thing I need to budget time in the morning for.

Oh yes, and she set me appointments for seeing both an Opthamologist and a Dermatologist.  I “possibly” have Rosacea, and I “possibly” have schleritis, but she’s worried about the way the redness on my skin is and how only the outer portion of my left eye seems inflamed, and listed an autoimmune condition in the tissue on my face as a possibility.  Probably not, but maybe.  Now, being someone who has watched every single episode of House broadcast, a little part of my mind started to freak out at the word “autoimmune.”   Lovely.  All of these office visits, and probable prescriptions to go along with, will of course cost me more chunks of money. 

Link of the Day: Worst. Ninja. Ever.

Spam of the Day: “Forearm Forklift – Your Solution to Heavy Lifting”

Funny of the Day: Bringing the “A” Game

Pic of the Day: Finger Arm Lickin’ Good?

Quote of the Day: “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Stuff of the Day

Update of the Day: I just had my first bits of food, all day.  I’d been fasting since late last night, only water, for this appointment I had with Dr. Doctor today.  Got grumped at a bit, got an appointment set for an opthamalogist on the 29th to check out my left eye, a recommendation to see a dermatologist as well, and had 3 vials of blood drawn for lab work.  Lab work went over my per-visit limit, so a $30 visit turned into a $139 visit.  This is before I even go get prescriptions filled.  Right there my thoughts of maybe picking up a refurb iPod Touch from Apple died, at least for now.  Still, I suppose it’s better to be right and well and have a tech toy or two fewer.

Link of the Day: Russian Hairdresser Turns Would-be Robber Into Sex Slave

Spam of the Day: “Cobras process is fast and easy”

Funny of the Day: Way better Mac vs. PC ad

Pic of the Day: Pie Charts Adjusted to Reflect Perception

Quote of the Day: “Never knock on Death’s door: Ring the bell and run away! Death really hates that!” – Matt Frewer

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Semi-random Thought

The health care and the clothing industries need to get together, and introduce a stealth fat-tax.  

Why?  Because presently (with the exceptions of grossly larger food bills for whale-class folks), it’s more expensive to be healthy and slender and fit, than it is to be out of shape and overweight.  This is fundamentally fucked up.

Huge money industries are passing a stupid tax on to us as a whole because they’re going for shorter-term profits instead of more financially responsible and beneficial long-term ones.  It’d be cheaper for them, in the long run, and in turn, cheaper for us as a people, if they fiscally encouraged being healther and fitter.  I’m saying these things with absolutely no active research, no cited facts,  no specific figures to back them up. See if my chain of thought makes sense to someone other than myself:

Eating healthier costs more than eating cheaply and less healthily/unhealthily.  Yet being less healthy makes a person a higher health risk, be more expensive to care for medically.  

Bigger clothes, for the most part, cost the same as smaller clothes.  This one really makes no sense to me.  A Small shirt costs the same as an Extra Large shirt, but there’s significantly more physical material involved (which, at some point, equates to more time or labor involved as well – more stitches to sew, longer to cut, etc.  It may be a small amount per garment, but with thousands as a multiplier, it’ll add up).  Sometimes that same-cost-as thing extends up beyond Extra-Large.  Kohls, one of my more tempting places to look for clothes at, have no price differences between Small and XXL.  The only place that I can remember, offhand (I’m sure there are more), that differentiates a little here, is Walmart, where for “extended sized” it’s $2 more for some things.  This one really makes almost no sense to me.  Sure, I’m sure some folks in our quick-to-offend, self-absorbed, hypocritical, prudish society would be quick to bitch and moan about “size discrimination” or some such idiocy – but it’s a basic fact, there’s physically more (or less, depending from which side you approach it) actual, real, phsyical goods there.  Where else do you see people buying  different amounts of things for the same price?  Certainly not food – 9 chicken nuggets costs you more than 6 chicken nuggets.  Not gas – 3 gallons costs more than 2 gallons.  A queen-size mattress will certainly cost more than a full-size mattress.  

This concept is almost as if garments are being treated like intellectual property or entertainment.  You’ll pay the same ticket price for that 86 minute mediocre brainless comedy as you will for the 140 minute thought-provoking, emotion-rending drama.  280 page mass-market paperbacks may cost the same as 560 page mass-market paperbacks (not always, but it can and does happen).

So, the healthy, fit guy buying a large shirt for $20 is paying more for his clothing – per ounce, or square inch of fabric, or whatever metric you wish – than the guy who’s less healthy and bigger (we’ll presume same height for each and similar bone structure) buying the XXL shirt for $20.  

This just all seems stupid to me.  By not financially incentivizing being in better shape, healther, etc. – which tends to cost less, overall, medically –  it’s a sort of tacit encouragement for people to be lazy unhealthy drones, who have higher risk of health problems, higher cost of treatment, and thus, by aggregate, drive up the costs of health care for everyone.

But no, let’s continue overcharging the people who need less physical clothing for the same degree of decency and protection, and let’s continue profiting on cheap, processed, refined flour based and other cheapo carbohydrate laden foods.  Drive that carb addiction for short-sighted profit!

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Car Woes

So, last year, I purchased a used 2003 Saab 9-5 Linear sedan.  I bought it out-right, with money I got from my mom’s life insurance, for $8200 (that was with splitting the cost of a brand-spanking-new Bosch OEM alternator with the Macedonian man who owned the European Import-specialist used car lot).  I thought that was a pretty good buy, and I’d tried to do as much homework on it as I could (my car-buying process was a several week long affair, with a LOT of time spent online reading and researching, and a few days dedicated to going to dealerships and driving representative sample cars of all of the makes I was considering).  The maintenance records looked excellent, CarFax report was good, and I even tried to have a professional inspection done on it (with less than satisfactory results, but that’s another story of woe and frustration altogether).

I like my car.  It’s pretty, it’s comfortable, it’s reasonably quick, and it gets pretty decent gas mileage (22-24ish city, 33-34 highway).  It’s definitely the nicest vehicle I’ve ever owned, and I like some of the Swedish Saab quirks it has.  It’s no Mercedes-Benz, but still a nice car.

Less than two weeks after buying it, I had it in the shop at the Saab (/Cadillac/Hummer) dealership in Fort Wayne.  Two trips in there to fix various issues – expensive labor for rewiring work in the rear to get all the lights back there working properly, a new Direct Ignition Cassette, new battery, new spark plugs, a couple of other minor things I don’t remember now.  $1100 more sunk into the car.  Irritating, but I still had money left from the insurance.  It was supposed to be in “great shape” other than those issues I had fixed.

Everyone who’s looked at the car in any professional mechanical capacity has said the same things about it, more or less: “It’s in great shape.”

A few weeks before I allowed my life to fully implode in Huntsville, my car developed an irritating and inconvenient problem: the battery wouldn’t hold a charge.  I thought something was draining it that shouldn’t be when it was turned off.  The battery was less than a year old, it COULDN’T be the problem.  After getting jump-starts twice (once from a friend who drove from the other side of town, once from my next door neighbor with whom I’d never even spoken before), I paid what was, at the time, very precious money for a low-end “jump box” from Wal-mart.  It got entirely too much usage.

A little more than halfway back on the drive from Huntsville to Midland, a new concern popped up: the Engine Malfunction light switched on, and stayed on.  Then over the next couple of weeks, it’d go on and off relatively randomly.  Great.  So, I needed to find somewhere I could get my Saab worked on.  I thought it should be no problem, my dad has a friend (for whom he does bookkeeping and tax preparation) who is a mechanic who specializes in Imports.  His shop is even named “World Class Automotive.”  As it turned out, he does pretty much just Japanese imports, and domestic makes.  No European stuff, and definitely not Swedish.  No Saab dealer anywhere in West Texas, short of El Paso.  DFW or maybe Austin are the closest Saab dealers.  Bloody Wonderful.

It turns out, it’s pretty damn hard to find someone to work on a Saab in West Texas.  When I bought the car, never for a second was, “I wonder how hard it will to get it worked on in Midland, Texas,” an item of thought or consideration.  After some calling around and chasing down referrals, we found one company that said they could scan the Saab’s computer and who worked on Saabs: Littlefield Automotive.  We took the car in, they took entirely too long to figure out what the deal with it was (bad thermostat and temperature sensor) and then informed us they’d have to order the parts, and that it would take “a couple of days” to get them in.  I got my car back (paid for by my Dad, who, I am certain, is keeping a penny-accurate tally somewhere), and we were going to come back in after they got the parts in – presumably the next week.

A week and a half later, we finally get a call informing us the parts are in.  This is the week before Christmas week. Well, trying to get it worked on with the shortened week before the Thursday Christmas just seemed impractical.  The next week, with a similar situation with New Year’s Eve/Day, also seemed impractical.  Now, I’d started to notice a concerning sort of grinding noise coming from the front wheels when braking, or at low speeds even when not braking sometimes shortly before Christmas.  I didn’t think too much of it, but wanted to have them see what was wrong when I took it in.  The next week after New Year’s week?  Nope, my dad had a trip to Corpus Christi that week, which he left for on Thursday, so I needed the car that weekend too.  Finally, Wednesday the next week after that, I get the car in to Littlefield’s.  Like, 3 1/2 weeks or so, closeish to a month, after the parts finally arrived.

That concerning grinding noise?  Oh, that was my front brakes being almost entirely gone.  Know what it costs to replace the parts of a Saab’s front disc brakes?  I had no idea.  I know now with a painful clarity.  $134 for a break pad set.  $119 each, x2, for Discs (aka rotors). $144 each, x2, for front calipers.  $12 for brake fluid.  $672 in parts alone.  Tack on $391 for labor (including labor for putting on the parts from before that were on order that we’d already paid for), EPA fees, and tax . . . and there’s an $1131 front brake job.  3 weeks pay for me, with what I’m currently making.  That effectively delays me a month or thereabouts on any hopes of getting my own apartment.  That’s pushing me into March (possibly late March) to move with a reasonable buffer established, maybe longer if more expenses mount up to surprise me. *le sigh*

In addition, I know that my rear brakes (which were essentially working overtime with my front brakes gone) will need attention fairly soon.  I’m hoping I can put off having to buy new tires (and possibly new wheels with them – 2 of my alloy wheels have bends in them which I don’t know if they’re reparable with any cost-effectiveness vs. replacing them) until next year, or at least late this year.

Next time, I’m buying Japanese.

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