Complexities

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I’m probably just overly sensitive, maybe I’ve caught a case of Luditius. Maybe it’s just a case of all this technology crap isn’t “neat” anymore. Or maybe I’m just tired of feeling like I’m spending more time managing the shit in my life than living my life.

I keep getting panic messages from various entities. I no sooner sort out what the hell they’re bitching about than another company is demanding attention with another poorly worded email

We cannot access your account <— Former Identity monitoring company

We were unable to make a payment <— Alarm company <—Considering a replacement to them now

You MUST opt in to our bonus points program <— Credit card company 

It is MANDATORY that you login to your account to accept our new terms and conditions <— Bank

It is necessary for you to update your contact information IMMEDIATELY <— Former Bank

Termsandconditions3

Uhhh since when do the companies that work for me have the right to give me orders?  I don’t recall any part of their agreements, amended or not, that said I was subservient to them.

Last I checked… I wasn’t getting anything from these institutions but a bill. And they really should know, I don’t respond well to ORDERS.

(That’s the reason I didn’t join the military. I know that the military would probably have provided me with an interesting and rewarding career and many career choices after I was out of the military. But I also knew that I reacted very poorly to people barking orders at me. So recognizing and accepting that personality flaw, I didn’t join and I’ve always tried to support our troops in other ways.)

Maybe I’m just getting old.

Privacy Policy

For years, I’ve been tying to simplify my life. I’ve been trying to reduce the complexities that I had to deal with in my personal life, because I had so many complexities in my professional life.

It’s a losing battle.

Unfortunately, I’m also caught on the horns of a dilemma.

Privacy

On the one hand, I like the convenience much of our technology provides. On the other hand I don’t like the loss of privacy, and freedom our technology apparently demands.

Lately wherever and whenever possible, I’ve just been closing accounts with demanding vendors.

If they’ve asked, I’ve told them I don’t work for them, and their imperious tone implied that they thought otherwise. Often these folks try to blame the government. They claim that government regulations make it necessary to get my agreement to new terms and conditions.

Terms and Conditions

Okay, so why are they constantly amending their terms and conditions in the first place? For that question, these people have no answer. I however do have an answer…

Goodbye.

It’s about this time that they realize I’m serious. Then the customer service (laughable term) agent halfheartedly starts trying to sell me on their service but, by this time It’s far too late because I’m done.

I used to see this “accept our terms” crap, mostly with banks. Now I’m noticing it with services like my cell phone provider, utilities and even Identity theft monitoring services. (Necessary because of the Anthem data breach and of course the three previous employers whose employee databases were hacked, lost, or stolen.) I find it hard to believe that all of these people are amending their agreements at the behest of the government. Then again our government does seem to have its diseased tendrils in every aspect of our lives, so maybe it’s possible.

It does make me think twice about every interaction with any corporation I have.

Part of my Fugue is this time of year.

I guess lots of new laws and regs go into effect in July. “Happy Independence Day… NOW BEND OVER.” 

Another part of my mood is a recent encounter with the UltraViolet Customer Care Team.

UltraViloet Logo

For those of you who don’t know, UltraViolet is a cloud based video streaming service associated with several movie studios. They’re supposed to be competing with iTunes. They were horribly late to market and almost anyone with an Apple device iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleTV or Mac had already begun building a video library on iTunes by the time UltraViolet rolled out their first title. Since that time it’s been a VHS vs Beta kind of thing and UltraViolet offers no compelling advantage for me.  I have a rather significant investment in iTunes music and movies.

If I purchase a BluRay disc of a movie, I’ll look for a digital version of the movie too. Typically there will be an iTunes redemption code and an Ultraviolet code. Recently I’ve seen a situation where the code was the same and all you had to do was choose your preferred delivery format.

VUDU

The other day, I bought a copy of “American Sniper” and at a glance saw that there was a DVD copy, the BlueRay copy and a digital copy. I should have looked closer because the digital copy was UltraViolet only. Grrrrr.   “American Sniper” is available on iTunes so I saw the words “Digital Copy” and figured we were good to go.  Once I realized my error, I wrote to UltraViolet and explained that I didn’t want to have yet another online account to manage. I asked if it would be possible to trade this redemption code in for one that worked on iTunes.

They said they were sorry but no. Then they suggested I create an UltraViolet account, and then create something called a flixster, or cinema now, or VUDU account and that one or more of these, I could log into using my Facebook account. Then after spattering my credentials and God only knows how much personal information around the internet, I could play the movie on my iPhone or iPad or computer. Apparently, AMAZINGLY… I could even use my iPad to connect to my AppleTV so I could use my big screen tv but it would only be in stereo not surround sound.

Voodo

Ahem… So what part of “I don’t want to create another online account,” didn’t they understand and how is creating one or more accounts satisfying my stated requirement? FAIL!  

I ripped and converted the DVD to a digital copy myself. Technically I suppose it’s illegal but you know what? The hell with them! I wanted the digital copy solely for my personal use anyway. 


I suppose I’m making the calculation; cost vs convenience.

I’m questioning the hidden costs we pay for the convenience. As I get older, I’m not willing to pay the price.  This no doubt means that I’m going to be shoved aside like the old folks that couldn’t program their VCRs. (If you don’t know what a VCR is, Google it.) I’m probably tilting at windmills too. 

Oldman

Embracing my new crotchety old man role, I’ve discovered a new pastime.

The next time you’re bored, pick a utility who has a customer web portal that you’ve used. Call them up & tell them you want them to delete your web credentials because you don’t want to use their portal anymore and you don’t want the account credentials active, since you’re worried about online security and ID theft.

I’ll bet you that you’ll get transferred to a few different people and in the end, you’ll not be able to actually delete yourself without closing the account entirely. It’s funny as hell trying to get the “helpful” children to understand what you want.

I keep score by how many people I speak with, my personal best thus far is 8 people.

After all that, the best solution they came up with was turn off my power, close the account, and open a new account. But the power would be off for a day or so.  The other alternative was to leave web account open and create a really hard password. 

In my case, since I don’t want to turn off my power, the best I can do is create a password that Beelzebub couldn’t figure out.

I’m reminded of the song Hotel California.

I’m not ready to check out… But I’m enjoying working the little smart asses nerves.

OK I’ve got something to say about “American Sniper”

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I’ve read the book, I’ve seen the movie, and Michael Moore needs to shut the fuck up.

When he waddles his Jabba the Hut ass out into a battle field humping 90LBS of equipment and takes on a bunch of fuckers trying to KILL HIM, then maybe I’ll take what he has to say about war, guns, and soldiers a little more seriously.

Until then will someone please tell him to shut his pie hole? I think he’s said quite enough.

Here’s my take for what its worth on Chris Kyle and American Sniper.

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It’s a story of a man struggling to choose between something he does very well, his duty to his fellow soldiers, regardless of the branch of the military they were in, his country, and the love of his life & family.

You can’t read the book without noticing that past a little bit of swagger, and a smidgeon of embellishment, this guy was a real human being.

As to the embellishment… who hasn’t heard “War Stories” from a favorite uncle or grandparent? Chris Kyle didn’t get the opportunity to be that uncle, or grandparent, his life was cut tragically short in part because of his career after the Seal Team.

He was killed trying to reach out & help other vets truly come home.

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As a man, he was stressed about the same things that all of us were stressed about. Am I doing the right thing? Did I make a difference? I could have done that better.

Chris Kyle, from his own words was someone that I’d probably have liked. I don’t know that we’d have been friends. I can say he sure was someone that I’d have respected and might have enjoyed joking and teasing with. I’d have gone to any shooting range with him and no doubt learned a lot.

Chris Kyle was not a racist xenophobe. He called people that were trying to kill him and his team-mates, “Savages” with good cause. “Savages” put explosives in the hands of their children and are surprised when their children are killed. Civilized people get their children out of harms way.

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As far as Chris Kyle was concerned the “Savages” he was killing were evil of the most despicable kind. I suspect that, in part was why he was able to do four tours of duty without being killed. That belief that the evil was around him probably kept him sharp.

But the story is about so much more.

Again Mr. Kyle puts it best. “One day I’m in a war, then next I’m home.”

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How the hell do you deal with that transition? I mean flying from the West coast to the Southeast can strip my gears, One minute I’m in a super liberal Kumbaya place and the next I’m home in a land of Sunday go to meeting “Rednecks”.

I can’t imagine having bullets flying at me one day and my child on my lap the next.

In the book Mr. Kyle talks about his relationship with his wife. Its beyond obvious that he loved her very deeply and loved his children as much or more. She was the love of his life. The book also gives you Taya Kyle’s perspective, which is sometimes a little different than his.

The story ultimately is about him, his loves, and foibles played out against the harsh reality of war. In the end, he makes his family his primary duty and it’s not a simple decision or easy for him to do. The Seals were his family just as much as his wife and children.

How do you choose between one half of your family and the other?

The nuances don’t come through as clearly in the movie as they do in the book. This is not the fault of the movie script so much as it is a matter of the time the movie had to tell the story.

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The bottom line is this, the progressive leftists want to see only the harshness. They want to view this man only as a wind up soldier forgetting that he was fighting for them too.

They don’t want to be reminded that he was a human being and that he had depth and character and a moral compass that pointed north.

Acknowledging those facts means that they would have to abandon their preconceived notions and might actually like the movie, the book or God forbid, BOTH.

Read the book, see the movie then make up your own mind.

See past the battles for buildings and ground. See instead this man’s journey, I think you’ll appreciate this guy as a hero, but more importantly you’ll appreciate him as a man.

You should also know, I cried at the end of the book and again at the end of the movie.

My best friend looked the other way while I wiped away tears at the end of the movie.

I guess that’s why we’re still friends after a lot more years than either of us admit to.

What’s a guy to do?

Home Theater

So, you pay a ton of cash for a surround system and you decide that you’d like to enjoy it.


Ya take the dogs out to potty, settle in with your beer and fire up a movie that you’d like to watch.

Then your other half comes in.

They’ve had a long day so you give them time to settle too.

All is quiet again.

Ya press play, (it should be noted that when you’re alone in the house you don’t need the TV sound up to more than 25.) Yet with the other half in the house, you find yourself creaping the volume up, 26, 27, 30, 35, 40, 45 and you’re still missing dialog.

Your other half is reaching into a bag of snacks, over and over and over again and the crinkling of the mylar bag is swamping all the midrange dialog from a beautiful seductive actress, and most of the dialog from the softer spoken men.

Then one dog starts panting, the other dog decides it is time to drink half a bowl of water and does it for the next 3 minutes

MartyMcFly Speakers

slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp, crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,crinkle,crinkle, crinkle, crinkle,crinkle,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp.

Maxell Man

Once you push the volume above 60 ya realize you’re fighting a losing battle and the first gunshot or explosion in this movie is going to cause something that looks like the Maxell commercials or Marty McFly hitting that chord on his guitar.

So in complete frustration, ya shut the shit down. Give up.

I actually went and had my hearing checked because of shit like this. Turns out my hearing is fucking fine in fact it’s better than most men my age. The problem is that I live in a noisy environment.

And the moment, the very fucking moment you kill the shit you were trying to relax with, silence reigns again. The dogs shut the hell up, the other half looks at you like you’re a fucking madman and then has the audacity to ask why’d you turn it off?

Zen

You’re still frustrated and you say exactly what’s on your mind “Because I couldn’t fucking hear a damn thing with all the noise. Did it ever occur to you to put that shit in a bowl?

Yeah, I’m sleeping on the couch tonight. So the fuck what?

At least it will be quiet in the living room!

Just got some new Porn

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Ok, You’re right, it’s not Porn…  But the collection has a lot of the politically incorrect stuff that I spent my Saturday mornings watching, and laughing at.

This collection looks like it’s got a lot of the banned WWII propaganda. Much of this hasn’t been seen on TV for years because of it’s offensive characterizations of the countries that were our enemies at the time.

I think this stuff is fascinating and funny!

My chores are done for the day, so I think the DVD player is about to get a workout!

Maybe time for some beer and popcorn too.

Always Been a fan of the movie Dogma

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If you haven’t seen the movie it’s well worth your time.

There are a lot of pious religious folks that really hated the movie because they didn’t like it’s portrayal of the church, angels, and it’s generally irreverent take on God.

Personally, I suspect that God was sitting in the audience laughing right along with the rest of us.

I bring this whole thing up because I’ve been really ill with a cold / sinus / allergy? thing for going on 7 days. God created the world in 7 days… I’m done with feeling lousy!

As I was sitting in my favorite chair last night flipping aimlessly through TV channels all I could think was “When is this going to end?”

Which led me to Alan Rickmans line “It never ends” as he’s wiping the blood off his jacket with the hem of Gods clothes.

Strange what you think about at 3 am when you realize that your body is putting up a good fight. In the process the bug that you’ve caught is finding all new ways to inflict pain. Then you realize that  the bug in question hasn’t any clue whatsoever that it’s making you want to stick you head in a microwave.

Who knew that your teeth could hurt in such exquisite ways. Not a toothache per-se but a whole palate of pain that would make what Dustin Hoffman endured in the movie “Marathon Man” seem like Sunday at the park with Ice cream.

Much later last night, I noticed that every time there was a breeze through the house or indeed if I moved the comforter on the bed I’d start coughing violently. This led me to ask why?

I’d noticed a lot more pollen than usual in the air over the past few days. I started wondering if part of the problem was that there was so much pollen my body was simply trying to expel yet more foreign bodies.

When I say pollen… I mean that everything that can bloom is blooming. There are clouds of the stuff so thick at times it looks like dust storm. Everything in the house is covered with a pale yellow dust.

You want to talk sick??? Think of the pollen this way it’s cum!

Yeah you read that right it’s plant spooge, and you’re breathing it, eating it, and you can’t get away from it. Makes what you do in the bedroom seem pretty tame don’t if?

Don’t even try to tell me you don’t swallow!

LCARS

At this point I was actually thinking about sleeping in the back seat of my car.  I could even program it to fire up the fans and suck filtered air into the cabin  ever 4 hours.

It’s been in the garage for the past week. Sealed like a space capsule, all the cabin filters in place. A beautiful leather clad oasis of clean air oh my!

Sleeping in the car was looking better and better. The space craft metaphor is strangely true in the case of that car.. There are times when I expect to hear Majel Barrett Roddenberrys’ voice saying something like “Warning you’ve entered a personal hazard zone.” As I drive through Southern California.

Ok yeah it’s weird.

Tell me you’ll do better after the 6th consecutive night of getting 2 hours of sleep and coughing so hard your’e tasting blood then wondering if your lungs are coming up next. I double dog dare you!

As the morning light dispelled the insanity of the witching hours a simple plan began to gather like the light in the East.

It dawned on me that an experiment to find out if it’s the pollen or if I have a cold would be to close the house, (limiting the introduction of more pollen) and turn on the A/C.

The recycled air is filtered albeit not well, but limiting the introduction of additional pollen might go a long way toward removing the irritants. Much as I hate to have the A/C on this early in the year I figure I can run the experiment for 48 hours and see what happens.

Which leads me back to “Dogma”

There’s a scene where one of the demons says No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater… than central air.

So here I sit having a cup of coffee house darkened by drawn shades the sexual sinning hum of the A/C compressor occasionally heard from outside. And You know what? I’m not coughing as much. The real test will be tonight when I try to get some sleep.

Meanwhile the Dogs are more than happy with the A/C being on. They’re snoring loudly on their beds.

Now you’ve been through part of the rabbit hole that is my brain.

I hope you’ve incurred no permanent damage.

 

Here’s a bonus question… The control panel shown above, what fictional species does it belong to?

—– Update —–

Running the A/C & keeping the house closed seem to have helped. I also got a whole 6 hours of sleep. It was restless sleep but sleep nonetheless.

2012 BMW i8 Concept SpyderI haven’t braved the big bad world outside yet today. According to the weather reports it’s supposed to get windy in the valleys starting today so I’m guessing we may see the wind pick up a little bit here. More blowing pollen oh joy…

Part of the restless sleep was that I kept dreaming about driving through Germany after having picked one of these babies up in Leipzig . If you’re going to have restless dreams you should at least make them worthwhile.

This is the BMW i8. I know I’ll never be able to afford one even if it makes it out of the concept stage. I can dream though can’t I?

A friend of mine has an Apple TV and…

One of the problems with iTunes, and video formats, and DLNA is that there’s not much in the way of cross platform compatibility.

Since this household is a mixed platform house. That means that we have multiple video formats, all of which play just fine on their respective computers.

The problem is that if you want to play a video that you’ve purchased on iTunes you can’t play that video directly on your 55″ DLNA enabled flat screen TV unless you have an appliance (Either Software or Hardware). Or you can root around behind your big ass tv that’s hanging so neatly on the wall and connect your computer to it then hope that you can get decent audio out of your computer to an amp or something.

I’ve done it. It’s a serious pain in the ass.

The other alternative is to reprocess all of your video files into whatever format IS playable from your DLNA enabled player. Time consuming, prone to error, and often you end up with degraded audio and video.

Here was my situation.

I have video stored on a main drive that acts as a media server. The video is shown as available to all the DLNA devices. In this case, the Xbox, the TV, and surprisingly the DVR satellite box. What’s annoying is that not all of the video will actually play on any single one of the devices. And NONE of them will play any of the video that I purchased from Apple.

So I’m playing around with my computer at a friends place and notice that he has an AppleTV thingy. Sure enough, if I can play the video in iTunes… I can direct it at the AppleTV and bang… I have video and audio. The really cool thing is that Once the link is made between my computer and the AppleTV, I can navigate the whole library from the AppleTV, I don’t have to mess with the computer other than to make sure it’s on and running iTunes.

LESS THAN 24 Hours after leaving my friends house…

I have an AppleTV connected to the TV in the bedroom. I’ll probably end up with another AppleTV in the living room connected to the big ass TV too.

As I’ve explored the AppleTV i’m impressed… I can access anything on Netflix, I can access not only my purchased Apple video on my computer, but I can also access those videos from the cloud.

AppleTV also has various networks pay per view offerings available. Which has lead to a discussion about the merits of keeping the Satellite service.

It breaks down like this.

I watch, exactly one sitcom.

Two or three adventure / drama programs from the networks

and BBC America

I’ll tune into The Simpsons but most of the other shows on Fox Sundays are… well Crap!

I watch the news, and SciFi channel. The news is always annoying, talking heads breathlessly decrying the latest atrocity or providing second by second commentary on the latest high speed car chase. (High speed?!?! Most of these morons never get above 100!)

I’ll watch the National Geographic channels, the history channel, and several of the learning type channels.

I’ll watch comedy central for SouthPark, or Futurama

I pay for Stars just so that I can watch Spartacus

I pay for HBO just so that I can watch True Blood.

So the question I find myself asking is this…

Am I getting value for the price I’m paying?

Survey SAYS!  Not really. At over 100.00 a month, it’s not really worth it to me.

Of the 300+ channels available to me I don’t watch most of them. I couldn’t care less about BET, or ION, or the Spanish language channels.

I’ve long thought that as a PAYING CONSUMER… I should be able to pick and choose those channels that I wanted. I shouldn’t have to buy a package or packages just to get the one or two channels from each package that I actually watch never tuning to ANY of the ones that I don’t.

I’m considering doing what my buddy and so many other people I know have done… I’m thinking that pulling the plug on my satellite box might be reasonable.

I was raised on TV I’m a child of the ’60s. I’ve never known a life without broadcast TV. I find myself wondering if taking complete control of what I watch and when I watch it isn’t a better option.

If I re-allocate the 1200 a year from satellite to Netflix, Hulu, BluRay, or iTunes purchases… That’s a lot of entertainment that I can suddenly afford to see, on my terms without commercials.

Of course I’ll miss the local news broadcasts… But I can get most news on the internet… Who knows I might just start reading the newspaper again….

Oh and to my friend who is the cause of all this, laughing his butt off in his office…

LAUGH WHILE YOU CAN MONKEY BOY!

Remember I’m the one who usually causes the chaos… Be careful or I’ll remind you of a certain LaserDisk purchase…