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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Daytime Drivel

Every day I'm at work, I go to the gym during my lunch. Most of the gym has sound and we get to listen to music. That I like. What I don't like is that the locker room has a television.

OMG! Daytime television is so bad. The rotate channels. We started out with the channel that had "The View" and while that was not my cup of tea, it was okay. Now, we're on a station that has a ripoff of The View. It's like the show wants to be The View, but it's not even in the same ballpark.

Then when I'm done working out, the news is on. I hate the news. I know, that sounds weird. I was a journalism major with my primary interest area in advertising copywriting. The local news, though, is all about murder and mayhem. Super downer.

That would be bad enough, but it gets worse. As bad as daytime television is, the advertising on daytime television is worse!

I have never seen so many commercials for ambulance chasers in my life. You deserve compensation if you've been injured in an accident, if your parent has been injured or abused in a nursing home, if someone has waved at you and you banged your hand against the wall, you might be eligible for compensation. OMG!!!

Lawyers should never have been allowed to advertise. It's not just one law firm either there are several. You would think that they would have some pride and not be bottom dwelling slime suckers, but you'd be wrong.

Today, the advertising was even worse than lawyers. I'm not sure who the advertiser was, but they are trying to scare old people. What were they trying to scare about? Not being buried or having the funeral that they deserve. What the heck?

I can't even believe how much this funeral home??? I'm not even sure was a funeral home. I have no idea who the advertiser was, which is a total fail on the part of the advertising agency. But this ad was modeled after the shyster lawyer ads for get your compensation now. Same type of language. The funeral you deserve. The compensation you deserve. Maybe there's like one advertising agency that just does these horrible low-budget slimy commercials. Maybe that's why they sound so much alike.

And don't even get me started on the ads for pharmaceuticals. Is moderate to severe plaque psoriasis such a huge problem that we need like 10 drugs for this condition? And is it really necessary to advertise them constantly?

While the pharmaceutical companies are focusing on getting your skin so you can feel confident, more and more of our antibiotics aren't working any longer. Are these companies working on new antibiotics? As far as I know, they're not. This is why there needs to be some public good put ahead of profit. We do not want to live in a world where antibiotics no longer work.

I'll save my rant about drug companies and what they should be working on as opposed to what they actually are working on for some other time. I'll just say that there advertising does not inspire me to want to use any of their medications. When you listen to these ads, they spent three quarters of their time listing all the side effects. And they often have "including death" as one of the side effects.

If I remember correctly from my time in advertising school, lawyers and pharmaceutical companies were given permission to advertise on television about the same time. I don't know who was in charge of that decision, that they've made life miserable. As bad as daytime television is, the advertising is worse.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The River O'Shea

I'm not sure I mentioned this or not, but the backyard of my new house was not completely sodded. Approximately the back one third of the yard is dirt. At first, I didn't think this would be a huge problem. All the trees are in that part of the yard and this meant no need to rake and no lawn to cut in that area.

The problem came when it rained. My house isn't that far from the retention pond, and because of that, the yard is sloped to send the water toward the pond. When it rains, the water flows like a river through the dirt, taking soil with it away from my house.

The erosion is bad enough that the tree roots are becoming exposed. Some of the trees are pretty far along. During a rainstorm in January, not only did I have the main river going through this dirt part to the retention pond, I also had tributaries winding their way around the dirt.

So I'm having landscaper come out to take a look at the yard. I'm hoping there's something we can do to prevent the erosion that doesn't involve sod. Not only is it expensive, but then I have the upkeep that comes with it. Plus I do not believe that I have my in-ground sprinkler system in that area. If I recall correctly, only the part that sodded is in the sprinkler's path.

However if my choice is between sod and some kind of ground cover that will attract snakes, I am all in on the sod.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Coffee Emergency

At work, they installed coffee machines for us and they're free! Yes, free coffee! Hurrah! These aren't those sad vending machine coffees, but a machine that allows us to brew lattes, mochas, hot chocolate, and teas in addition to regular coffee. There are a couple of other options I forget, too. We install a pod, the coffee brews, and automatically dumps the pod. This is beyond awesome.

Except for one thing: Our coffee machine has been down more than it's been running.

In two weeks, I think the machine has been up and running maybe three days. Possibly four, but I'm thinking only three. Insert sad face here. The coffee is decent and its quick and great if I don't want a jumbo cup--when it's working of course.

As far as I know, our machine is the only one that is down constantly like this. We've all started walking over to the next nearest machine. On Friday, they were cleaned out of coffee pods, or nearly so. When I went over in the afternoon, there were a few hazelnut flavored coffee pods left, a ton of decaf and tea, and one French vanilla flavored one. I grabbed that one. Yes, we'd even cleaned out the stash of coffee stored in the cabinets.

The biggest issue, of course, is all the extra people walking over there. The other part of the problem, though, is that the supplies are only being replenished every two weeks and the airline industry drinks a lot of coffee. I'm sure I remember reading about a survey of which professions drink the most coffee and aviation being on there right along with writers/editors. :-) Double whammy for me!

So with the coffee supply dwindling rapidly and one machine down, we are in the midst of a coffee emergency at work. Good thing I have some K-Cups stashed and that they haven't taken those machines out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mission: Music

Now that I'm driving myself, the music situation needs to be fixed. Radio in Atlanta is super bad--even those who were born here have said it--and I like to sing when I drive in the afternoon. In the morning, I'm too tired to want noise. I have a USB stick in my car, but the music is limited on there and after weeks of the same songs, I got tired of it. I checked into satellite radio, but the monthly cost was ridiculous. I decided I'd make another USB stick, but add a lot more music.

Theoretically, this shouldn't have been a difficult task. Take some music and drag it over and voila! It wasn't that easy.

First problem was that both iTunes and Amazon music sort everything by artist and then by album name so everything is in a freaking folder. That meant opening hundreds of folders, which was horrible, but then a new problem reared its head. I dragged the song over, but instead of copying, it was moved! That meant copying and pasting songs which added extra time.

I created a folder on my desktop to drag it to, and after two days, I had 600+ songs ready to go to the USB stick.

Second problem was that I couldn't find my bigger USB drives and the ones I had were too small. I ended up having to move everything off one of the larger drives (to my laptop since even those files wouldn't fit on the small drives) and then putting the music on the newly empty stick.

And that's when the third problem occurred to me. My car won't play .m4a files, only .mp3. Now I needed to convert files otherwise about half my music wouldn't play. I did an online search.

There was a free program for Windows in the app store. I downloaded it only to discover it only would convert files one at a time. There was no way I was going to do this for 300-400 songs. I searched again and found out that VLC Media Player will convert. I already have that program, but again, it seemed as if the conversion had to happen one song at a time. Grr.

Then I found out iTunes converted. I followed the instructions and then the fourth problem made itself known. All the files were imported into iTunes and resorted into files again for each artist/each album. ::sobs::

Yes, that's right--after I converted, I had to reopen all those folders. OMG! I'm on day 4 now and I still don't have new music in my car. I wish I could have found an easier way to do this.

Edited to add: The saga continues. About half the music either didn't convert or is hidden deeply inside the file hierarchy. Now I have to figure out which songs are missing and convert them again. What a PITA.

Edited again: After an hour or so of comparing songs to figure out which ones were missing, I gave up. I just copied the .m4a files onto the drive. I guess I'll find out for sure whether or not my car will play those files. I'm hoping it will even though I'm sure I remember that it wouldn't. I guess we'll see.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Where Did You Attend Grade School?

A lot of websites want you to answer security questions before you can login to their site from a new location. New location means same old computer on a different browser too, which is a pain. But the security questions are even a bigger pain.

I had one recently where before it would accept my login, I had to answer this question: Who is your favorite actress?

Hmm. I don't have a favorite actress and I certainly don't remember choosing one as an answer to a security question. I thought long and hard. It must be Jennifer Lawrence. I typed in her name. Incorrect answer. I tried just her last name. Incorrect answer. I thought about some more actresses, but I'm really not into this fame thing at all and couldn't come up with another answer. I refreshed the page. Who is your favorite actress? Gah!

I did eventually gain access to this site because after I refreshed the screen again, I received a security question that I could answer, but really? Why was this question considered a good one? Don't people change their minds all the time about who their favorite actors or actresses are?

Most security questions are just plain problematic. What's your favorite pet's name? That means I can't ever blog about or talk about any of my pets. Same thing for What was the make and model of your first car? What was the first concert you saw? Where did you attend grade school? Where were you born?

I've yet to see something as a security question that isn't either impossible to remember (i.e. who's your favorite actress) or difficult to remember to never talk about online (i.e. the list in the paragraph above.)

It seems to me that a much smarter way to handle this would be two factor authentication rather than stupid security questions. Even if I'm wrong about two-factor, there just plain has to be a better way than these questions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Just One Moment

So I listened to this podcast a week or two ago and they mentioned this app called Moment (For your iThing. There is an equivalent for Android, but I don't remember the name of it.) that keeps track of the time you spend on your phone. I decided to download it and see how bad I am.

It's been okay, but I have a problem with the numbers. You see, the app can't tell what you're doing on the phone, so it measures everything. Like I listen to podcasts while I work and I don't believe that should be counted. Same for music. If my focus isn't on my telephone then I don't consider it an issue and it doesn't count. Well it does for Moment.

However, it will adjust your phone hours when you do some screenshot thing that I don't get. Or allegedly it will do this because I haven't had it a week yet and it only wants the screen caps once a week. Because of this, I looked at the data from the weekend when I'm unlikely to listen to anything. I had 52 minutes on Saturday and nearly two hours on Sunday. I'm not quite sure where the Sunday time went because I don't remember using my phone much at all. Hence the reason I downloaded the app.

I'm actually really curious to see the data with the time adjusted. Without music, podcasts, or GPS/traffic, I'm betting my usage is fairly low, but I've been wrong before. I'm looking forward to getting more useful information.

ETA: This app has become hugely annoying with its constant reminders. This wouldn't be bad if it wasn't pinging me for usage on apps that I have excluded from the hourly count. Listening to podcasts or music while I work or am at the gym shouldn't count, but it won't subtract the time until after the fact. In the meantime, ping you're over this amount of time. Ping, you're over that amount of time. Grrr!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Coming Summer 2018

A friend (Trish McCallan) and I are releasing related novellas this year! Each story will be complete and will stand alone, but our heroines are best friends and go through some trouble together. Luckily, their guys are determined to keep their women safe!

My story is the prequel to a series I have planned set in a brand-new world. It's romantic suspense and in the novella and the first three books, the heroes are US Army Special Forces.

Let me introduce you Wicked Obsession with a short blurb:

It was supposed to be a wedding: a bit of fun, some wine, the chance for Langley Canfield to forget a devastating breakup. Until the wedding turns into a kidnapping, and her brand new ex—Sergeant Ryder Pienkowski—races to the rescue.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

RIP Van Pool

I don't like driving in Atlanta. There are far too many insane drivers here who drive 90 MPH (no lie!), weave in and out, and tailgate at that speed. There's the opposite side of the spectrum, too. Like this morning, the guy I came up on who was doing maybe 45 MPH on the freeway. Gah!

The first year after I moved here, I would drive to work with a death grip on the steering wheel. I hated it and I was ready to move back to Minnesota. And then I found the van pool.

To say I loved my van pool would be understating it. I would sleep on my way in to work in the morning and sometimes I slept on the way home, too. Other times, I'd text friends, do quick emails, play games, read, or any number of other things.

It wasn't perfect. There was one guy who was always late going home in the afternoons and I was already staying a little late. It also wasn't the greatest if I had errands I needed to run after work. A lot of times, I would end up backtracking or trying to drive to work myself to make the stops on my way home. Even this, though, was workable once I discovered my credit union had mobile deposit.

And then the unthinkable happened. My van pool died. There is a villain!

The company that leased the van to us (yes, we paid to lease the van and for gas) was bought by Enterprise Rental Cars. They insisted that everyone was going to get a new van, one that would lease for a hell of a lot more money than what we were currently paying. Our van pool leader managed to hold them off for a few months, but at the end of November, we had no options--we had to take the new van or drop out.

Sadly, there was no choice except drop out because the monthly fee nearly doubled! Yes, that's right--Enterprise jacked up the rates so high, the monthly fee would have been almost double the previous month's fee. I do not have fond feelings toward Enterprise.

So I've been driving to and from work on my own since my van pool died. I hate it. I miss sleeping, I miss not having to be the one behind the wheel, and I miss our guaranteed parking spot very close to the entrance. I'm really hoping that some other company will come in and start a van pool business that leases vans at a reasonable rate. Or that the state subsidizes the van so that it's affordable. Something so I can ride and not drive.

RIP van pool. You had your annoying things, but overall, you were awesome.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Glacial Software

For reasons I can't understand, it's cheaper to buy a new version of my anti-virus software every year than it is to renew. We're not talking a small difference either. It's $30 cheaper for me to buy it new. That's a lot of money! It's also a PITA.

If it were the same price, or at least close, I would prefer to do the renewal. It's a lot more work to uninstall the old software, buy the new one, and do an install.

And this time it was hellish to say the least.

After I loaded and initialized the anti-virus software, my internet slowed to a crawl. Not all of it. Gmail came up as quick as always, but every other site sat and spun, including Facebook. It wasn't only one browser either. Both the browsers I use reacted the same way.

An online search showed I wasn't the only person who'd had this problem, but I didn't see a clear-cut answer on how to fix it. I basically uninstalled and reinstalled it twice. Right now it seems to be working, but the real test will be tomorrow morning. If only everyone was honest and trustworthy and there was no need to worry about viruses or malware or ransomware, then I could ditch the anti-virus software. Sigh.

It seems as if it's always something that takes a lot more time than it should. Add new anti-virus software to that list.