Thursday, March 31, 2011

GODADDY: Feeding the Children One Elephant at a Time

For years, one of my favorite things to say is "Save the Whales- I'll eat them Later".
Not because I hate whales (I don't) but because it absolutely drives me crazy everytime I see some animal nut going on and on about poor abused dogs when there are countless children starving around the world right now. Those morons that ram Japanese Whaling ships should be ashamed to show their face in public. The money they piss away on protecting whales could feed more children than Sally Struthers could ever think of.
Today, I did my afternoon check of Twitter news blurbs and saw that Marlee Matlin is having a fit about an elephant being killed in Africa by GoDaddy CEO on safari. The article she linked to went on to say how the elephant in question was actually destroying crops near a village. This wasn't Dumbo harmlessly entertaining kids in the big top, gunned down by anti-fun terrorists. This was a dangerous animal causing villagers to starve.
Now, maybe Mr. Parsons shouldn't have posted graphic videos on the internet (I haven't seen them yet, so I don't know if they're that bad). But how can anyone with one iota of intelligence condemn this? Especially when said elephant was eaten by the villagers (and their children). Do you think that any of the little M'Timmies there shed a tear as they got a decent meal for what could have been the first time in months? I sure don't.
Ms. Matlin is a mother herself, and after seeing her on the Celebrity Apprentice (which was why I was following her in the first place) seemed like a pretty sensible woman. But after her tirade all in the name of poor Dumbo, I have to re-evaluate that.
I've been a godaddy customer for several years now, but was considering changing to a different company. After seeing Mr. Parsons aid to the children of Africa, I will be staying a GoDaddy customer for a very long time.


There it was again on the morning news- the myth that tall people get paid more. What utter bullshit. And it annoys me more and more everytime I hear it.
I'm 6'5".
This whiney myth- typically told by short people- really irks me to no end. I've been tall all my life and have had a variety of jobs. In not one of them have I had a co-worker taller than me. And in not one of them was I the highest-paid employee.
My current job, the other guy working with me in the same position made the exact same money as me- despite the fact I had 13 years seniority on him and was a foot taller. Before him, I had 12 years seniority and 6 inches height advantage- we made the same. The guy before him... well, he was my supervisor and had 15 years seniority on me, and was 8 inches shorter- and made a buttload more than I did.
What about in the military? Nope- height had nothing to do with it. Rank and how many mouths you had to feed did. Despite the fact I had been in three years, I remember new guys coming in, two ranks lower than me, but with a wife and kids, making far more than me. And they were all shorter.
I could go on and on, but I've proven my point.
Short, ugly people also like to claim that beautiful tall people get paid more. Now, I'm not vain, so I don't think I'm handsome- I am just me. My wife likes to tell me I'm handsome all the time- when she's not telling me I'm gross. And I've had an unnerving amount of older and married women work-stalking me. But I still never made any more money.
It's all bullshit. Nobody makes more money because they're tall- except basketball players. All you whiners that keep claiming this need to shut up. The reason you get paid less is because you're a shitty worker or have a bad attitude. In fact, in my experience, the short, ugly, overweight folks tend to stick together and be envious of those they wish they could be like. They hire and promote other insecure, obnoxious people.
I don't play sports. I sit at a desk. I get paid far less than I think I should or than what people in other areas get paid for my same job. Being tall hasn't done me any good- except maybe making it easier to change light bulbs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am gross. I am SO gross. Just ask my wife.
When I'm sucking down a home-cooked meal a little too fast and have to let fly a gut-rumbling, table-shaking belch, I'm gross.
When I'm in bed for the night, my body relaxing, and I unleash a bed-shaking, cheek-slapping, nose-burning fart, I'm gross.
Even when I'm using a kleenex to sound the air horn and expel snot from my head, I'm gross.
My wife pretty much either tells me she loves me, or that I'm gross. It's a 50/50 chance at any given time.
I don't think I'm gross. Do I not courtesy flush when emitting stomach-churning, paint-peeling fumes from the porcelain throne? Do I not roll down the window of the van when I've ripped a silent-but-deadly?
The kids don't think I'm gross. They love potty humor. They think I'm funny. Especially when they can join in. They clearly took the potty training book title Everyone Poops  to heart. Not so the wife.
And as I get older, it's become harder to resist the constant barrage of condemnation from the wife. At long last, I had to point out she is living in a glass house. Wives- in particular moms- are pretty gross, too.
First off, everyone breaks wind. It's a biological function. It is true many folks manage to hold it in until they can get to a safe blasting distance, but the occassional emission is had. Same thing with belches- especially when drinking carbonated drinks. Everyone does it.
And let's not forget morning sickness.
Oh, yes, my wife forgot all about that. She forgot her all-hours-of-the-day-and-night Linda Blair impersonations. Her fountains of projectile vomit that went on for weeks and weeks. She forgot how I had to clean up her half-digested sweet tea and pineapple chunks. From the carpet, bed cover, walls, and even refrigerator. Even with the wet/dry shop vac I bought with our second child, it was a disgusting task. I don't like vomit, and I sure didn't enjoy having to clean it up from wherever Mommy Appleseed happened to drop it around the house. Multiple times a day. But did I complain? No.
Then there were the diapers. I helped change them too. The nasty, liquified peanut-buttery like messes that made me wish for a hazmat suit. In fact, my worst memory of child rearing was the time my child walked up, pulling a hand from where she'd been scratching her butt, as if to initiate a secret father-daughter handshake. In the midst of reading the internet, I absent-mindedly took the sweet, innocent hand of my barely-walking baby. That was covered in crap. I wish she had kept that handshake a secret. Not the best way to let da-da know she needed a butt change.
I think, nay, I KNOW that I've earned the license to be gross. It's like uncouth Karma. Even more, I think my wife should shut up about it. Did I constantly tell her that her projectile vomit was disgusting while washing it off the walls? No. I pulled my t-shirt up over my nose, ground my teeth and fought the urge to vomit myself as I blotted up congealed stomach solutions and chunks of her last craving. I soldiered on.
It's not like I walk up to the wife and ask her to pull my finger. Or dash across the room, whirl around and stick my wallet in her face immediately prior to a discharge. I don't blow the hair from her eyes with a massive burp at the dinner table. These natural body emissions just happen on their own. She should accept this, be polite and pretend to ignore them- even if she does occassionally turn green and have to physically pinch her nose shut.
And it's only going to get worse. I remember my grandfathers. I remember how they bubbled and hissed and filled a room with all sorts of port-a-potty-like smells from time to time. As I get older, my self-control will decrease and my bodily functions will increase. The Fart Factory is just coming online.
The next time the mother of your children lets fly a barb about your grossness, look her square in the eyes and reply "Glass Houses, baby... glass houses...".
Or you could burp-talk "Sorry." I think that works pretty good, too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Blankey of DOOM

Just when you think you've seen it all, your kids unleash some new, horrifying ability. My daughter, Indy-manda Jones (age 5)  sure did last night. With her blankey.
I should start by pointing out that "White" isn't really a blankey. It's a tattered, faded, two sizes too small Hello Kitty body suit made of faux velvety goodness. She carries it around everywhere, Linus-style. It is part security blanket, part napkin, part germ gathering drag along, part car pillow, part night time teddy bear/rag-thing. White has many cousins: Blue, Pink, Black... they too aren't really blankets, but rather pillows, pajama tops and even a sheet of fabric that could have been made into a blanket, but which we never got around to doing. But like in the Highlander, there can only be one. And it is White.
So there we were settling down to watch TV in the dadcave, Mandi clutching White and doing the sleepy time head nod. Big Sis, age 11, moved a neatly folded quilt onto the couch. Mandi immediately sprang awake, snatching the quilt and using it as a pillow. Rather than admit she was outwitted by her 5 year old nemesis, my older daughter regressed a few years and began to bicker with her sister about the quilt. In mere moments, the damage had been done. Mandi leapt into a Hulk-like rage, screaming and crying and declaring that "Nobody Loves Me!" before storming off to the playroom, germ-encrusted White dragging on the ground behind her.
Wishing I could just once have some peace and quiet during one of my television shows, I first begged, then later demanded, Mandi come back, sit down and be quiet. My plan almost worked. Until Big Sis tackled me on the couch- wrapping me in a death grip and evilly declaring to her little sister "My Daddy!" The Shrieking She-Hulk immediately returned.
Apparently intent to beat her older sister to a bloody pulp with the dirty, plush softness of White, Indy-Manda began whipping her White back and forth over head. On the second back stroke of her enraged fly fishing routine, she snared a prize. A half empty bottle of cream soda Big Sis had left out on the dry bar- because kids never put stuff away.
Had White been made of kangaroo leather or some material with just the slightest surface friction, I have no doubt the glass soda bottle would have been plucked from the bar, flown across the room and struck me square in the temple just like how David felled Goliath. Instead, the dirty softness of White merely pulled the bottle over- dumping the contents all over White. By this time, though, White was arcing around and snapping back toward Big Sis. Who ducked just in time for White to snap out, releasing its cream soda cargo in a mighty gusher of spray. Coating me and the couch in drink.
There's no real moral to this story. I just thought that I should share the amazing The Cape-like ability of Blankeys, formerly hidden from parental eyes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TROGLO-VIEW: The Cheesecake Factory- bird food for the whole family

So it's spring break and we once again take our kids out to local attractions to broaden their minds and my wife picks restaurants to broaden her waistband. It's our week of splurge.
Well, it would have been.
It's my fault, really. I should have known that with a girly name like "Cheesecake Factory" the place wouldn't be worth a damn. But I was feeling all magnanimous and happy to be away from my craphole of work for a week. So I caved in.
Man, the prices in the over-decorated restaurant were high. But seeing as how the decor was right out of an old folks home or a 70s gangster movie, I kind of expected that. Being a bit of a rebel and a cheeseburger connosieur, I opted for a burger, instead of some fru-fru platter of poached pomegranites smothered in sissy sauce.
Our waitress was fantastic. Despite the fact she looked like she was barely out high school, the girl was an old pro at the serving game. Plenty of smiles, graciousness, neat and clean and superb service.
And when the food came I was shocked to see the bathtub-sized platter of food my wife got. Same for my oldest daughter, who got a ginormous platter of spaghetti. It was clear both the girls would be taking food home. My mouth started to water at the idea of a Fred Flintstone-sized bronto burger. Instead, I got a happy meal. Without the toy.
I shit you not, I have gotten burgers from Dairy Queen the same size. Maybe bigger. Americana Burger? More like, tiniest-assed country in Central America burger. A Texan would have bitch slapped somebody if they were served something that small. My God, it was like White Castle catering a fancy dinner. But on a giant sized plate. You could have fit three or four of those burgers on there. Did the waitress drop some of my food on the way from the kitchen? Do I really need a foot-long plate for a single quarter-pounder? I sure as hell didn't need it for the bouquet of french fries served in a metal cup on the side. Wrapped in paper and planted in the cup to make it look like I got more than I could count on both hands- but which I really could.
You know, I can understand a restaurant that hikes it's prices sky high and serves diet-sized portions. It's for a healthy profit margin. But why in the hell do you serve a bucket of spaghetti and a kiddie burger in the same place? I damn well know that I didn't order off the kid's menu.
My wife sat there and gorged herself on a major protion of the Atlantic's shrimp population, pushing her plate away and complaining she was stuffed. Same for my oldest daughter- lamenting that she just couldn't eat any more of that wonderful spaghetti. Me and my cheeseburger crumbs were not amused. My littlest made it worse by not eating her grilled cheese. It was "yucky". So we got her a second dinner of kids' chicken strips. Which I'll note was more food than my happy meal.
After everyone else finished- I had been done with my dining experience in like five minutes- we ordered cheesecake. At $7 a slice. I was expecting a candy-bar sized sliver of screw-you, but we actually got some decent-sized slices. Of course, at that price-to-food ratio, a whole cheesecake would have cost Donald Trump prices. My wife and oldest again lamented how full they were. I of course didn't have that problem, since the mouthful of cheeseburger I got was rolling around in my stomach all alone.
End result: $93.00 for our family of four, which I calculated was the same as almost three trips to Five Guys.
Will I return? Not very likely. Unless I have a bag of carry out from a real restaurant with me. Like sneaking food into the movie theater.
Cheesecake Factory: Not Dad friendly.

Monday, March 14, 2011


One of the things many a dad wrestles with is deciding if a movie is suitable for their kids. Kids often want to watch the same thing mom and dad do. Digital Video Recorders at home have really helped in the family watching, as they allow parents to skip past objectionable parts of movies and even television shows- assuming you are watching those programs on a delay.
This past weekend though I had to go it without a remote control and chance taking my girls, ages 5 and 11, to go see the new alien invasion flick, BATTLE: Los Angeles. (Not to be confused with the Syfy Channel's lame-o Battlefield Los Angeles).
I based my decision to take the girls on two factors: first, I've made a real effort to make sure my kids know movies are make believe. We watch all the behind-the-scenes stuff on the DVDs/Blurays, and we watch as many Movie Magic-type programs as possible. Syfy's reality competition, Face Off, has helped immeasurably with my youngest, showing her step by step how makeup effects are done. That being said, I do still limit a lot of horror or gore-type programs. Make believe or not, I don't want my kids being scared to sleep in the dark or getting bad nightmares.
Secondly, I read several reviews of the movie friday. Roger Ebert had one particularly scathing review in which he compared Battle Los Angeles to Independance Day- one of our family favorites. It was this comparison (with which I heartily disagree) that made me decide to take the whole family to watch some invading aliens get their asses kicked by the Marine Corps.
Both my kids fell asleep during this movie.
Shockingly, my 5 year old lasted far longer than her big sister, dozing off only moments before the big climax of the movie. My 11 year old dozed off twice during the movie, for very prolonged naps. How either was able to sleep through the ear drum bursting, chest-thumping loudness of the theater is beyond me. And I'll note I find it odd that as I get older and become hard of hearing, movies seem louder to me. One of the main reasons I dislike going to the movies is the brain-jsotling volume levels. I can control the sound in my home theater.
Is this movie appropriate for kids? Well, aside from boring mine to sleep, I'd say that it is. Sure, we see innocent civilians being killed by aliens. There are bodies in the streets everywhere. But this is a war/diaster movie and nothing on screen is going to be any worse than what children see on the news. Sadly, death and violence occur in plain view in the real world, and I am of the opinion we shouldn't encourage or shield kids from it. They need to be aware of it. I'm not saying they should be forced to watch violence, or that we as parents should drag the kids to a movie because it has violence.
Where does the level of violence fall in Battle: Los Angeles? It's not SAW. Nor is it Saving Private Ryan. The best analogy I've read is comparing the film to Black Hawk Down. And maybe that's why it bored my kids to sleep. The violence wasn't over the top. It's wasn't particularly bloody or gruesome. There weren't flesh eating zombies or disemboweling monsters. The violence, aside from being excessively loud, is fairly low key. Possibly even realistic. The violence isn't bad at all.
What about profanity? Well, it's a war movie. As a veteran I can tell you, soldiers do swear. In fact, I swear at home: "Clean up this (blank) room!" "Didn't I tell you to put these (blank) (blank) toys (blank) away!!!"  My kids have heard swearing- or "movie talk" as we like to call it. They understand that movie talk is reserved for adults or those people appearing on TV. Preferably both. I admit to cringing at the G-D I heard in the movie, but again, swearing is something kids are going to hear in real life.
What I do hate to see in movies is sex and nudity. My kids aren't going to see that in plain view. There's a far greater chance of my kids seeing a horrific traffic accident as we drive somewhere, then two consenting adults going at it on the side of the road. I shield my kids from the sex scenes and anyone who argues that sex is natural, it's no big deal for kids to see, etc. etc. I'll gladly accuse of being a closet pedophile. Thankfully, there's no sex in Battle Los Angeles. The only f-ing you see is the alien invaders f-ing up Los Angeles, and the Marines f-ing kicking their asses afterward.
All in all, I'd have to say that Battle Los Angeles is kid-friendly. It may bore them, it may give them a headache, but it's not going to scar them for life. And, in the end, the good guys win, so they hopefully won't come away being particularly worried about any aliens invading.
Yes, you can bring your kids. And you should, because this is a great movie for adults. If you like the whole scifi genre, this is a definite must see. Most of the goofiness of similar movies, plagued with technical inaccuracies and ridiculous writing are gone from Battle Los Angeles. Sure, there are a few corny moments, but you have to have a few in every movie. Sure there are a few errors- but again, every movie has them, and 2 of the 4 I noted were required due to the limitations of filming. For example, the Marines moving on patrol only a few feet from one another. They shouold have been at least 5 meters apart- the kill-radius of a hand grenade. But then they wouldn't have all fit in the frame, and the scene wouldn't have had the same impact. I can forgive the director that. In another scene, the Marines fail to use smoke to obscure their movement. If they had, some fantastic special effects and CGI aliens would have been obscured from my view. So I can live with that too.
And speaking of the aliens... they're great. They are tougher and more advanced than the humans, but our bullets do kill them- unlike many a movie where a 5.56mm round (capable of penetrating concrete blocks) doesn't even tickle the alien/monster/zombie/etc. Nor do the aliens look like people in crazy prosthetics like a Star Trek rerun. Nor do they use fancy lasers or energy-spitting weapons- they shoot projectiles just like we do, because a projectile does far more damage for the energy used to send it. The aliens, and their technology, blend seamlessly with this extremly well-made movie.
Battle Los Angeles is a great movie, and Roger Ebert has again confused entertainment with art.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I have a knack for buying those rare factory defects. You know the ones- those items that slip through quality control at the factory and go to the store then your home, then fail spectacularly. Like my first Canon camera. It had a rare lens motor defect that caused the auto-telescoping lens to jam in place. Or the microwave I bought one New Year's Eve. Spent the whole day installing it, then when we fired it up, amazing sparks started flaying around inside.

Now, some folks may have the urge to try and fix things themselves. Or download firmware updates. Or anything rather than go to the time-consuming task of returning an item to get a new one. I empathize. But the best advice anyone can give is that you fully check out your new gadget BEFORE you leave the parking lot.

Take my latest smartphone. I had been using an Android Developer Phone since early 2009. Basically the same thing as the G1, on T Mobile's crappy network. I know that T Mobile likes to condemn AT&T with all those ads with the scrawny girl in bright pink dresses, but where I live AT&T's network blows the doors off T Mobile. it's like comparing DSL to dialup. So anyways, after much research, I closeted the venerable G1 and picked up nice Samsung Captivate- AT&T's version of the Galaxy S.

Right off, the phone is remarkable. It has a very high resolution display. 16Gb of internal memory, a micro SD card slot. Video out, micro USB charge slot... it's a sleek, easy to use Android phone. Despite the fact that it was a little too sleek for my big butterfingers, I soon became enraptured with my new Captivate. I bought a special Otterbox Defender case for it. Extra charging cables. A belt holster.

Then I noticed the GPS wasn't working. Spectacularly not working.

I tried the online troubleshooting. I tried downloading a firmware update. I tried a special GPS repair app from Samsung. Nothing. My wristwatch would be better for GPS navigation- and it can't receive GPS at all.

Resigning myself to the fact that I was going to have to reload all my apps, redo all my contacts, passwords, etc. etc, I decided it was time for a return.

So I head over to the local AT&T store. I wander in, explain to the Hostess on duty out front that I'm there to return my defective phone and she summons Emo Vampire Boy to help me.

Call me crazy, but the Elvira-version of Justin Bieber just doesn't inspire confidence in me. I want a nerd like they have at Bestbuy when I have a technical problem. Someone with bad skin, mad scientist-hair and a pocket protector. But, I play the game and start explaining to Count Emo-youla what's wrong with the phone.

Emo Vampire Boy wouldn't let me finish explaining I can't lock on to ANY satellite. He compels the phone from me and wants to "show me a trick". He then turns on the "Use Wireless networks" options and triumphantly shows me that he can show the location. I explain to him that only approximates your position within 500 feet- I want GPS triangulation. Emo Vampire Boy bares his fangs and tells me that all AT&T phones use Wireless triangulation and can only get you within 500 feet.

Quickly debating whether I should stab him through the heart with a wooden steak or make him listen to happy music, I tell Emo Vampire Boy that I want to exchange the phone for one that works- I've only had the broken one for a few weeks. Knowing that even his emo-vampire strength isn't a match for me since he's barely a third my size, he sighs and tells me there'll be a $37 restocking fee. Unless I have my box.

I tell EVP I don't need a box. He can keep the box for the new phone. EVP tells me doggedly/battedly that no, I have to have my box.

I storm outside. Then I stop and go back in. Dammit, I'm the customer and it's going to be my way. No emotionally-confused, black nail polish-wearing, blood sucking fairy is going to push me around. I demand a manager.

"Tim" comes over to help. I again explain the GPS situation. He wants to know if I use the AT&T Navigator. I tell him no- I don't want to be one of those idiots who turns into the side of a building. I use GPS with Google Maps to find out where I am, or where I'm going. I tell him my previous phone, a G1, was easily able to lock onto satellites. I tell him I've updated the phone to Froyo (Android 2.2) and loaded a GPS fix program from Samsung- but still no GPS signal. I tell him all my online research and troubleshooting points to it's a bad phone.

"Let's step outside", Tim suggests. Did he want to duel? Was he scared Emo Vampire Boy was going to bite him? No, he just wanted to see for himself (since GPS generally works better outside). And then he turned on the Use Wireless Networks and shows me the phone. I wonder if AT&T teaches a special wrist-flip, show-the-customer-their-own-phone move during employee training?

Again, I explain that no, the phone should be receiving a GPS signal. I turn on the GPS Test App and show him NO satellites are detected. He almost sneers and tells me, "Oh, that's just an app you're using."

Say what?! It's an OFFICIAL App. From the Android Marketplace. Does he think all the other functions of the phone aren't controlled by applications? Apparently Mentally-Tiny Tim doesn't understand how computers or phones work. I tell him I want a new phone. Being Management, he doesn't really care and takes the easy way out. He agrees I can have a new phone. Then Tiny Tim also parrots the box thing. I demand to know why I can't just use the new box to return the defective phone. Tiny Tim explains there's a unique serial # on the side of the boxes to match the phones. Okay, that makes sense. EVP must have been just too exhausted to tell me that. So I tell Tiny Tim I'll go home- I live nearby- and get my box. But first, I want to make sure there are some other Captivates in stock. I explain I'm sick, and if I go all the way home and return to find they're out of stock, I'll be pissed. Tiny Tim goes to the back, then confirms there is some in stock and he's put my name on one.

I drive home, get the damn box and return.

Now, at this point I'd like to interject my opinion on returns. If I'm within the 30 days, no-questions asked period the sales rep told me when I first got the damn phone, why did I get the whole Inquisition route? I should be able to walk in and tell them anything, and end it with -so I want to swap for a new phone. Anything. "Every time I talk on this it shits in my ear." "It levitates and flies around the room at night... I think it's haunted." "I seem to be picking up alien transmissions- or maybe it's Al Franken on Air America." Whatever I say, I expect to be able to return the phone... since that was what I was promised.

Once I'm back to the Store of Many Questions, the Hostess greets me again and gets some blonde chick to help me. She initially appeared to be a hot blonde. A very hot blonde. As we walk over to her register next to a guy who looks like a Chubby Simon Pegg, I'm thinking- why couldn't I have talked to her instead of Emo Vampire Boy when I first came in. Hot Blonde begins to ring up the exchange and finally asks for my sim card to put in the new phone. When she reaches across the counter for it, that's when I notice the dirty nails. Like she'd clawed her way out of the ground or something. Really weird, considered she has clean skin and hair, sparkling teeth and was very neat and cleanly dressed- not even any lint on her AT&T black sweater. Perhaps she dug Emo Vampire Boy up and brought him to work earlier in the day? Or maybe she had been helping Chubby Simon Pegg fight zombies before her shift?

So I get the new phone turned on, and check it's satellite signal. None. Ruh-roh. Dirty Nails comes around the counter to see if she can help. I download the GPS Test app and tell her I want to check the phone before I leave. Chubby Simon Pegg perks up and wants to know what app I'm using. Instead of telling him he had red on his shirt, I told him the name of the app. Chubby Simon Pegg laments about the problems the Captivate has had in the past but how it's supposed to work, blah, blah, blahbbity blah. He eventually goes back to his console, mumbling to himself.

Eventually, I got the phone to work. Where with phone #1, I was able to see a grand total of 8 satellites in view when outside, but couldn't lock on to any of them, phone #2 immediately sees and locks on to 8 satellites. Now that's more like it! I thanked Dirty Nails, who didn't seem so hot anymore, went outside, got in my Mystery Machine and got the hell out of there.

Moral of the story... don't waste time trying to fix or download or talk to some English-is-my-second-language customer support rep when something you bought doesn't work. Just take it back. Even better, don't take it home in the first place until you KNOW it works. All it's features.

And save your box.