Showing 1 - 10 of 63 posts found matching keyword: dear diary
Thursday 6 May 2021
Stuffed animals often become a comforting, reassuring presence for their owners, and 2020 was a terrible year. Put those two things together, and you might have predicted a stuffed animal boom in 2021. But did you realize what form they'd take?
If you said teddy bears or puppy dogs, you haven't been paying attention to pop culture lately.
That last one there is a tie-in with the unmemorable Emoji Movie, which reminds me that back in the day my brother had a stuffed, vinyl E.T. doll that I found particularly unattractive. I owe you an apology, 1982 E.T.
Tuesday 4 May 2021
My father's aging (10+ year old) DIRECTV satellite receiver finally died, so he called AT&T for a replacement. That was the easy part. The new receiver came within 3 days, and Dad installed it (correctly!). He then visited the url the device displayed on screen for remote activation. That link re-routed to a page that told him to call a telephone number, so he did.
The first customer service representative he spoke to tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Repeatedly. Dad ultimately had to abort this attempt for a pre-scheduled doctor's appointment. Afterwards, he had me try again in the hopes that I would be better able to communicate with the technician. The customer service representative I spoke to also tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Then she hung up on me. I don't think it was her fault. She was using AT&T phone service, after all.
At this point I stopped waiting for a customer service representative to suggest what I suspected: that the problem might be in the receiver's access card. The receiver was reporting an on-screen ID number of "0000-0000-0000", which happens to be the default number if there is no card installed. When I opened the panel, I did indeed discover that whoever had inserted the card before shipping had installed it upside down. The old receiver model took cards face down; the new model required face up. I pulled the card, turned it over, plugged everything back in, and called DIRECT a third time. This time, the customer service representative was able to activate the receiver on the first try.
The terms for the new receiver required the old receiver to be shipped to DIRECTV for recycling. Again, the url that DIRECTV provided for generating a label was outdated, redirecting to *another* page that returned a 404 page error. After a little creative Googling, I found an AT&T electronics recycling link that appears to do what the suggested link was supposed to have done. By this time I was not surprised when the website instructions (and generated label) made it clear the receiver was to be mailed via USPS but the downloaded file called it a "FedEx Shipping Label." AT&T seems to have a real problem with modernization.
Hopefully, Dad will get credit for returning his receiver as instructed, though given how hard it was to do almost everything else, I'm not holding out strong hope. I'm starting to feel like I'd have a better chance if I sent a telegraph to the company to tell them it was coming and personally handed the box to a Pony Express rider.
Monday 22 March 2021
After I created my page showcasing delicious Coca-Cola movie product placement screenshots, I should updated it with notable Coke occurrences in other movies I've seen but haven't previously reviewed. Films like
John Hughes' classic The Breakfast Club
Stephen Spielberg's classic E.T.
Joel Schumacher's classic Falling Down
Mel Brooks' not-quite-classic Silent Movie
And no self-respecting list of movie Coca-Cola product placement should omit
The Gods Must Be Crazy
I was convinced that a Coke bottle played a small role in Andy Warhol's Trash, but on review, that was a Miller Genuine Draft bottle. I first watched Trash in the late Bill Marriott's drawing class in college — he would show us uneducated students an "arthouse" movie about once a week. I loved watching movies in class, even if I didn't like most of them. I didn't like Trash then, and I don't like it now. Now that I'm sure it wasn't a Coke bottle, I hope to never watch it again.
By the way, since we're on the subject of movies I don't want to watch again, there's a Coca-Cola commercial cut into Natural Born Killers that I remember making Coca-Cola executives squeamish back in the day when the public outcry against that movie was at it's height. If I ever do watch it again, I'll be sure to take a pic. But don't expect it.
Friday 28 August 2020
Taken 38 years ago today in a K-Mart photo booth:
I sure did like Pac-Man.
Saturday 18 July 2020
True story: Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and I was really looking forward to the latest movie adaptation when it finally opened in my local theater the second weekend in March. (I've seen other adaptations, of course. The 1996 version is good enough that it almost made me like Gwyneth Paltrow.) However, the second week in March coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 and the global shutdown. That's right, this whole pandemic exists just to keep me from Emma. Curses!
Well, I finally fooled you, COVID-19.
126. (1780.) Emma. (2020)
Fifteen minutes into my rental, Mom asked me, "What is it you like so much about bitches?" She was referring to protagonist Emma Woodhouse, who at the start the novel is very unlikable indeed, something the movie leans into *hard*. (Some might say that she's not much better at the end. Those people are heartless monsters.) Mom also knows I just watched 6 seasons of Downton Abbey and developed a bit of a crush on Lady Mary Crawley, another character who always gets it her way. In response to her question, I replied, "I like women who are like my mother." We did not talk much for the rest of the movie.
The enjoyment of Jane Austen's story is Emma's journey of self-discovery through a series of misadventures and comic misunderstandings which the movie does perfectly. In fact, the movie does just about everything perfectly. If you can't get behind Miss Woodhouse and the rest of the amazing cast, you at least should be able to marvel at the lush, Technicolor-like cinematography and stunning Regency period outfits. (Oscars for everyone!)
If I have any complaint, it's that the relationship between Emma and her beau develops too quickly. (Austen's Emma is constructed more as a detective novel than a romance. All the clues are there the whole time, but nothing comes together until the end.) It's a minor quibble, and the modernization of the plot does nothing to damage an otherwise wonderful adaptation. (The Harry Potter movies disabused me of the notion that movies should be exact visual duplications of their source material. If you're going to adapt another piece of art, you need to bring something new to the table.)
I've been in such a foul humor lately, what with the eternal cycle of bad news, that it's truly an unexpected delight to have a distraction like this. While I've always highly recommended Emma, the novel, I can now do the same with Emma., the movie.
Sunday 12 July 2020
I finally decided to throw in the towel on my current keyboard. I've never liked it. It's a ergonomic Microsoft Sculpt. While the layout is fine and the sensation of typing is pleasant enough (very reminiscent of a quality laptop keyboard), I can no longer tolerate the latency of the wireless connection. It often takes two presses of a key before it realizes I am typing, which can make both blogging and coding really, really frustrating.
Finally fed up, I decided to replace it with another ergonomic keyboard. I've been using the non-traditional keyboards for over a decade and a half, and I would rather not go back to a standard keyboard if possible. However, it was only after I decided on and ordered a wired Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard LXM-00001 that I realized I've never actually been fully satisfied with a Microsoft brand keyboard.
My previous keyboard was the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It was a monster. I mean the thing was huge. It had so many media and macro buttons that I never used plus a built-in scroll bar. All those superfluous buttons only got in the way. (I'm not especially dexterous. I'm not even not-especially dexterous. Bulls in china shops have better fine motor control than I do.) The 4000 and I never really got along, and the bulky size is what prompted me to by the slimmer Sculpt. At least it was wired.
Prior to the 4000 was the Microsoft Comfort Curve 3000. (Why isn't the model I just ordered a 6000? I guess Microsoft was wary of eventually creating a 9000, a model number best avoided unless you're a huge fan of robicide and daisies.) Unlike the 4000, the 3000 and I got along well enough for a while. I used it for about 4 years, and wore many of the letters off. However, the tactile experience was never great — the keys always felt cheap and loose — and I think it was a lack of funds more than anything else that kept the two of us together for so long.
So why after years of disappointment with Microsoft keyboards did I order another instead of choosing a different brand? I can't answer that question. My first guess would be brain damage. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me four times in a row... maybe it's time for the artificial intelligence to make the decisions for me.
(Footnote: I've had the new keyboard for 24 hours now, and so far so good. Firm buttons and quiet. I'm actually quite pleased with it. Maybe this is why I keep choosing Microsoft: they come out of the box so nice. I'm sure everything will be fine — as long as they don't push any updates to it.)
Wednesday 24 June 2020
On May 29, I decided I couldn't put off buying a new chair for my computer desk any longer. I'd broken the wooden chair I'd been using. The last two wooden chairs, I'd used, in fact. What can I say? I sit a lot.
Research was done online. (You may have heard that there's a pandemic on, and I didn't want to visit any showroom and sit in potentially infected chairs.) The purchase was done online, too. I ultimately placed a $200 order via Amazon.com. The seller — who was not Amazon because Amazon doesn't actually sell anything itself anymore — said I should expect it between June 8 and June 11. It did not arrive by June 8. It did not arrive by June 11, either.
On June 12, I finally looked into the FedEx shipping system to discover that the package had arrived in their Georgia distribution center on June 4. It must have liked it there, because it didn't move again.
On June 14, I called FedEx, and the customer service representative took one look at his computer screen and told me that "anything that hasn't moved in that long we consider a lost package." But he couldn't help me find it. Instead, he recommended that I get in touch with the shipper so that the shipper could file a claim. The shipper told me they'd get back to me once they'd looked into it.
On June 18, no one had gotten back to me, but Amazon.com's algorithms finally allowed me to request a refund on an undelivered product. So I did.
On June 20, I got my refund. Now I have my money back, but I'm still sitting in a broken chair. Since Mom had already planned an outing to Costco on June 24, I figured I'd bring home whatever they had available. At this point, I'm willing to sit on just about anything.
On June 24, when I woke up, an email was waiting for me from FedEx. They say the chair had been found and would be delivered to my house. Hooray! I was finally going to get the chair I ordered. I don't know why they were sending it to me after all this time, especially if they had already given money back to the seller, but if it was going to show up at last, I figured I'd accept it and settle up with the seller later. So I went to Costco and didn't buy a chair.
And when I got home, I got an email from FedEx saying that delivery had been delayed. It'll be there on June 25 now, they promise.
That's what I get. I'm going back to Costco tomorrow, and I'm coming home with a chair. If FedEx delivers another, so be it. As the old adage tells us: Two chairs are better than none.
On June 25, the chair was delivered before I could get to Costco. The box was in very bad shape, but the contents seemed well enough. So I assembled it and didn't buy a chair from Costco. But since the chair was finally delivered, I decided that I return my refunded payment to the seller. That proved to be another ordeal.
Long story short, as of July 2, the seller is paid (somewhat slightly less than the original amount), and I have a chair. The new moral here is that patience is a virtue, even when it can be hard to stand for.
Friday 22 May 2020
My Memorial/Independence Day yard art:
And a closer image from his inside stand (each painting so far has it's own foot so that it can be displayed in the house between visits to the yard):
I created Captain America about two feet taller than Santa Claus because he's someone everyone should look up to. (Santa Claus, on the other hand, is a dirty socialist.)
Happy Memorial Day!
Saturday 18 April 2020
I've been wondering how I will remember these dark days when we come out the other side. Travel restrictions, face masks, food shortages.... Frankly, we probably should have experienced it before now. America has been continuously at war with someone or other since 2001, and the public hasn't experienced any hardships like what happened in previous wars. Would we still be in Afghanistan if Americans had to share rolls of toilet paper in 2002?
Waaaaay back in the first week of March, when it became clear to everyone that this Covid-19 thing was going to be a real problem for neo-isolationist America, I rather naively believed that if everyone hunkered down, it would all blow over within two months. What a sucker I was for assuming everyone in the country was taking the plague very, very seriously. Like, prison solitary confinement seriously. However, I failed to take into account that no one can tell an American that they can't enjoy a Big Mac while test-firing their AR-15 inside the church of their choice. 'Merica!
It's now quite obvious that this thing isn't going to be over any time soon. I'm no president, but even I recognize that we can't start to relax restrictions until we know actually who has and who can spread the disease. Two months in, we've managed to test less than one percent of the country. At the current pace, it will take another sixteen years to test the rest. That speed will inevitably accelerate, but by any metric, we're still many months away from where we need to be for resuming what used to pass as "business as usual."
Personally, I'm still terrified that I'll catch the disease and give it to my family. Last month, I broke my piggy bank to renew my UGA football season tickets, but I cannot imagine that I'd attend any of those games if something doesn't drastically change in the next five months. Given the pace of progress, I'm beginning to suspect those games won't be played at all, at least not with fans in the stadium. I don't know what I'll do without football — specifically college football, that is. If the NFL doesn't play this fall, it may be a good excuse for me to give it up. It's not like the Dolphins have been all that entertaining over the past two decades.
I don't have much of a reputation for "staying positive," but I'm trying. Fewer cars on the road will help with global warming. Families will have time together they otherwise never would have experienced. People can explore new hobbies. For example, I'm now delivering what groceries I can find to my father, who is spending his time writing Trump fan fiction. Such is life in 2020.
Saturday 4 April 2020
So, when I took down my Santa Claus decoration for Christmas, I left two anchoring poles embedded in the front yard. Rather than let me pull them out, Mother insisted that I create more decorations for other holidays.
Turns out, I've got nothing else to do.
Introducing my Easter Bunny:
Here's another beside the front door for better scale.
I'm already working on the next piece. (I had to brave a trip to Michael's, where only 10 customers are allowed inside at a time, to pick up some blue paint.) I'll show it off when I get closer to July.