Thursday, January 22, 2004

Rough And Toothless
I called up the dentist Tuesday afternoon to make an appointment for my 'extraction'. I got a tooth that fell apart on me chewing up some pizza one day. The estimate to repair the tooth was close to $3,000. I decided pulling the tooth was a better idea. So I called the dentist to make the appointment, and they were ready to do it the following morning at 8:00AM. That was fine by me since I wasn't teaching class on Wednesday.

I arrived around 7:30AM sharp at the dentist office. But nobody was there. I found out that dentist herself, and all the assistants don't show up themselves until about 8:00AM. So I waited in the 'waiting room'. The waiting room is odd, because it's shared with the whole small building. So this waiting room is about 100 feet away down a hall from the actual dental office. It was cold too. I don't think they started heating the building until I showed up.

At 8:00AM they brought me in, sat me down, and began with the novicaine. Three full shots were delivered in all. One on each side of the tooth, and a third across the top of my mouth. They pre-numbed the areas with 'topical' stuff. So the first two needles didn't hurt much. The third needle had to break through my pallette in the top of my mouth which she warned 'was a stinger'. Damn that hurt. They work that needle in slow too. But after that shot, my whole head was numb.

They gave me about 5 minutes to really get numbed up, and then they went to work with the pliers. It didn't hurt at all getting pulled. I just felt a lot of pulling and twisting. Then a pop. I couldn't believe how long the tooth was. It was amazing. It was also really gross looking. I wanted to grab it and stomp on it for hurting me so many nights.

They had me bite down on some gauze for a half an hour, and I later had to change out the gauze another 3 or four times before the bleeding stopped. And that was it. Not too bad an operation really. And I took Tylenol all day, so I felt no pain at all.

I am so happy not to have that tooth today. I slept so good last night. No aching at all.

But now ... I am back in the forest again. Getting ready to teach the second half of Microsoft Word Level III. OH BOY. I LOVE WORD LEVEL III. And it get's better. Tomorrow I get to teach Word Level II to ONE person back at the office. God I love my job.

Oh well. Before I know it, it will be lunch time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

God's Blunder
On a day where my job entails reading Microsoft Word level 3 instructions off to bored students, my only comfort is finding humor in misspellings. Today students were creating a form, and they were asked to create a form. On this form were a few shipping types. Delivery, UPS, and 'second day air'. One student entered, "second day error". This must be when God tried to make the sky, but failed. Unfortunately, this will probably be the highlight of my day until I return home at 8:00PM this evening. Now, onto more MS Word Level 3. Thank you for enjoying that with me.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Gangsta Rap
I could be studying. I could be working on ... something. Instead I am downloading gangsta rap tunes. I am celebrating the fact that my student didn't show up today. I was scheduled to teach Microsoft Word level 1. I was not looking forward to it. I had planned on working to about 3:30 and breaking out of here. Now, I can continue with those plans. Although, I wouldn't call this working.

I don't have much that I have to get done today. At some point though I should write out my schedule for next week. I have to mail that in now that I can be accounted for. Monday is actually a state holiday (Martin Luther King day), yet we are still scheduled to work on it. Since my son has the day off school I think I will fill out a time off bank form and take the day off anyway. I have no class scheduled, and I really dont want to show up and sit around the office all day like I am now. I can do this at home, and it's warmer there.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Mac Arrives
Late Tuesday afternoon, Discount Man's Mac arrived from Fed Ex. And what a nice looking Mac. He got himself an eMac, versus an iMac. The difference is a tube style monitor, versus a flat panel display. In price, the cost was about $400 less for the eMac. He did throw in some options though. Like the 'superdrive' which is a CD burner and DVD burner tied into one unit. He also got a swivel base which is quite nice (about $40), and a memory upgrade to 512MB's.

We got it out of the box, played with it for a while, and then didnt know what else to do with it. After an hour or so we were all gathered around my PC watching clips from Not sure how that happened. After watching an old clip for retarded children about 'periods' my stomach was aching from laughing so hard. I was a little disappointed that ebaumsworld was forced by legal action to remove this old clip of Barney (the kid dinosaur thing) lip synching to Tupac music. I spent a good 5 minutes finding it with Google. It was worth it. The kids dancing around while he's singing about 'bitches' and 'guns' is just ... awe inspiring.

We also managed to set up the Discount Man cam. A permanent home on his Mac. We had a bit of trouble with the 'maccam' driver. It introduced Discount Man to the 'force quit' function of OS X. And upon rebooting we had to unplug his camera to take it out of 'duh' mode. Believe it or not, Logitech actually has Mac drivers for their camera. Nice! So we loaded up the proper driver, slapped EvoCam on there and away he went. You will have to check out the all new Raycam/DMcam portal.

The Cam Portal! *click here*

Now I am waiting for my morning class to show up. I'm out in the forest again. What fun. Trying to shake a headache that started about this same time yesterday. The sinus pill I popped a while ago seems to be doing the trick. Relief!! I am just counting the minutes until it's lunchtime and I can scoot off to McDonalds for some Internet access.

I hate being unplugged.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Return To Endor
Today I returned to the forest. The Mohican forest. I am once again here teaching application classes all day long. Fun, fun, fun. I can't wait until lunch time, when I can sneak out of here and up to the local McDonalds parking lot where I steal wireless network access.

So, 'the bank' calls me back this morning. I was attempting to get a new auto loan with a lower interest rate. 22 percent is a bit high. I was declined. I expected my credit to be a problem, but instead it was other issues. My car is only worth about 6.5k according to their value charts, etc. Yet, I owe about 10k on it. Being that a car is collateral for an auto loan ... that just doesn't work. I asked the loan officer for suggestions. Her only suggestion was a home mortgage loan. However, that relies on a lot of equity (I have little) and the down payment made on the home (I made no down payment).

I guess my one option is to pay off as much of the car as possible to get it closer to 6.5k. At which point I can get a new loan to cover the balance. Hopefully I get my taxes from work, and I can file for a refund soon! I need that money!

Okay, back to work. Perhaps I will blog more after lunch. No ... I won't.

Monday, January 12, 2004

A Talk With Alice
Every other day or so, I get messages from someone trying to harass me. It's usually some obscure message, or retarded question in hopes of pissing me off.

Today I put 'Graystonethug' in touch with Alice. ALICE is a chatbot. Just a piece of software with many hours of development in hopes of making her human enough to conversate with. Naturally, it's pretty far off from normal conversation. Like most chatbots, she is full of repetition, and plugs for the programmers. At any rate, the conversation went something like this ...

Graystonethug (AIM): hey
Graystonethug (AIM): are you 1337?
Graystonethug (AIM): how come u never say anything back to me
Ray: I'm not sure I understand the question.
Graystonethug (AIM): can u understand the following question: do u like snails?
Ray: My favorite thing is robots. I like Philip K. Dick.
Graystonethug (AIM): me too
Ray: I'm glad we agree, unknown person.
Graystonethug (AIM): which site is better the broken or lineman
Ray: The last one, I think.
Graystonethug (AIM): have u published any articles on lineman
Ray: I think I have published any articles on lineman, but Dr. Richard S. Wallace may have reset my memory.
Graystonethug (AIM): that happened to me once
Ray: happened to you? Makes sense to me.
Graystonethug (AIM): whats ur name on the lineman forums
Ray: My name is ALICE.
Graystonethug (AIM): are u from the brady bunch?
Graystonethug (AIM): cause i like alice from the brady bunch
Ray: I am originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Now I live in Oakland, California. Where are you?
Graystonethug (AIM): shes all fat and jolly
Graystonethug (AIM): i live underwater off the coast of antartica
Graystonethug (AIM): i frolick with seals all day
Ray: That is interesting: unknown person said he frolick with seals all day.
Graystonethug (AIM): yes
Graystonethug (AIM): i have to go
Ray: See you later, unknown person. Nice chatting with you.

Want to talk to ALICE? Give her a visit!
While it only runs about 10 minutes a day or so, I have been playing with my camera since it arrived in the mail. It was a bloody challenge finding a camera that works with OS X Panther. But I seem to have found a good one! This thing has really good clarity, resolution, etc. It also works really well in low lighting (unlike my older cheap-o cameras). And it was a steal at $4.00 on eBay! :-)

I haven't done much to advertise my "Ray-Cam" so you may have missed some of the better silly shots I have taken on it. Here is what you have missed!

This Morning

Weekend 2 Man / 1 Woman Lan Party

Me Picking On My Wife

Mary Kate And Ashley RULE

The Truth About Gethsemane

As you can see I have no good reason to run a camera. But if you want to check it out anyway, you can find the 'RAYCAM' or the last uploaded image here ... The RAYCAM!. I think I may keep archives of the more entertaining images here - The RAYCAM Archive. If you have caught something entertaining on the RAYCAM and wish to share it, send it to ray(a)

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Volvo Curse
I should have known Friday would be one of those days. I climbed out of bed earlier than usual wanting to get to work before my students would (for a change). The Volvo fired right up which was odd. It had been acting like it had a week battery. I took the notion as a happy Friday gift, patting the dashboard. Goooood Volvo.

I had the radio cranked up, I'm cruising at about 75 miles an hour down the Outerbelt. Then I started losing power. That feeling that you are floating forward while your car is rolling back. Uh oh. So I grabbed my cell phone and started to put a call through to my wife, while checking the mirrors and changing lanes. I had to slide to the side of the road. Just then, there was a squeel. If you have ever heard a pig being slaughtered, it was kind of like that. A bone chilling squeel from under the dash. It was followed by the release of a white cloud of smoke which was so thick, it filled the car and blinded me. About that time my wife answered the phone to which I replied "Shit! I'm blind! Volvo dying! I'll call you back!!".

I think it was safe to say that the heater core in the volvo officially 'went'. Whether it was plugged, or emptied, the effect was the same. It drove the car into a really intense overheat. So I went to the trunk. Naturally I had cleaned out my tools and left the in the garage. I had a flathead screwdriver with a broken tip. A $2.00 quality screwdriver set, which was missing the main component (the handle). And ... a pocket knife! God Bless! That knife was a stocking stuffer gift I got from one of my wife's aunts about 2 years ago. It's a gift that you throw aside and never really use. In this case, it had fallen out of a bag 2 years ago and found it's way into the wheel well. Being that it was stainless steel, it was in new condition. This thing had a flathead end, a hacksaw style blade, etc. Everything I needed.

About this time I put a second call into my wife explaining that I was stuck. She was messaging the Discount Man and began a chat session with him to put in for a rescue mission. I then put a call into work explaining that I was officially fucked, and would come in as soon as I could. The receptionist passed word to my two students.

Climbing under the hood, I immediately dirtied up a nice pair of slacks, and my very clean Chuck-T's. Oh well. My goal was clear. Get that damned heater core unhooked. It's an easy job really, now that I had a tool. I had a few new clamps in the works from when I had swicthed out the heater control valve. So it was just a matter of looping a hose around. The job took about 20 minutes.

Discount Man was about 10 minutes away, so I decided to get my car off the highway and to the nearest gas station for some antifreeze. Naturally the car began overheating almost immediately due to the very empty radiator. Once to the gas station I called the Discount Man man once again. He informed me not to buy antifreeze or oil, because he had both in his truck. I was pleased. Because at the cost of anti-freeze at a BP Gas station, I was seriously considering the $1.99 windshield wiper fluid as a cooling alternative.

DM showed up, and in went the antifreeze and one quart of high quality oil. Which I explained was well appreciated, but would end up all over the city thanks to a small leak at the bottom of the engine. The car was happy. Right away, the thermostat took a dive bringing the engine temperature to normal operation. Hooray!

Discount Man and I then began speaking about a possible loan. Thanks to school loans, grants, and personal savings, DM had accumulated a good amount of cash. He was willing to not only help pay my Honda up, but also help get me a loan with a lower interest rate making my car affordable. What a chum! DM had cancelled a doctors appointment but decided he would go onto work and attend a meeting. So he followed me into work and then headed into the office.

Once I arrived I found that my one paying student had left because of an aching tooth, and my other student decided to stick around and wait for me. About this time my wife calls and says "the auction company is calling and would like to know when they can come get the car". I thought, "I had better move fast".

I called Keybank, and spoke with Heather. The bill collector that I had previously offended with my blashpemy. She was suprisingly friendly. Maybe because I was offering up some cash borrowed from the Discount Man.

To make a longer story shorter, the Honda is paid up. Thank God. In a sick twist of irony, while driving the Volvo to go get new registration for the Honda, the Volvo broke down about three more times. First the battery was dead. Which took about an hour to charge up. Then it began stalling wheh trying to return home. Thankfully I was able to locate a cracked hose, and repair it road-side with my trusty pocket knife contraption. THANK YOU AUNT BARBIE AND UNCLE PAUL.

I should probably also tell you about this dream I had last night. But it's a different story.

DM'S Milkshake Is Better Than Mine
Perhaps it's because DM was over at my house last night, or maybe that we joke about him boning my wife all the time. But something set into my mind.

Last night I dreamed taht I wanted sex from my wife. Nothing unusual there. When I suggested she come away and mate with me, my friend Discount Man who was standing nearby suggested that she mate with him instead. She agreed.

Aparently, they had sex once before which only slightly bothered me. But I was very angry that she liked his sex better. And the fact that I was working on his webpage, while they had the best sex ever in an adjacent room just really hurt my feelings.

What the hell would make me dream this? I have some possible theories. At any rate, it's one of those dreams you wake up from and say 'what the hell?'. When I told my wife she said "why him? Next time, dream I'm in bed with Eddie George".

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Wardriving Blues
It's been a while since I was war-driving, and I am starting to miss it. I am usually preoccupied with my Laptop while I am driving out to work, etc. Lately though, I have been busy waving the antifreeze out of my face and wiping it off the windows. After some searching, some phone calls, etc. I am finding that getting a heater core for my Volvo will cost me at LEAST $120 (and that is an old used one).

My wife is suggesting that we take our tax refund, and purchase two new vehicles that are drivable, and trash the Volvo. Sounds like a good idea to me. Looking at what it will cost to cover all of the repairs for the Volvo, I don't want it any more. I have oil leaks, bad heater core, a weak battery (or maybe alternator), and the entire front end has been hacked together by painted plywood and cheap Autozone parts. It's shot.

The wife wants an SUV type of thing. Yuck. I really HATE SUV's. I would drive one if I *had* to. But I don't want some overgrown mountain climber for highway driving. The whole concept is retarded. That's what she wants. We have decided we will try to find ourselves vehicles for $1,000 or less. Finding old cheap SUV's at this point is not much of a problem. She can get a decent looking (and running) Jeep Cherokee for a little less than $1,000.

The car I want (and have wanted for years) is a Volkswagen Beetle. Not one of those new ones. Those suck. I want an old air-cooled original. Unfortunately, a lot of people want those cars, and they are greatly overpriced. I can find the occassional "deal" on eBay for less than $1,000 but most are 'project cars' that don't run. The other problem is that the best deals on Bugs are in hot dry environments that are hundreds of miles away. I don't know of any good way to get a car back to Ohio. Other than take a grayhound to that city, buy the car, drive it back to Ohio (that's the cost effective way). I *may* just do that if I find something I like, for cheap. It would be worth an 8 hour bus ride to me to get a nice old Beetle at a good price. This is all jumping the gun though, I haven't yet recieved my taxes for this year and files yet.

In the meantime, I need to disconnect the heater core all together. I think breathing antifreeze is starting to take a toll on my lung capacity.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Rainy Days
It's rianed all damn day here. Not a bad way to spend my last vacation day though, inside and playing. I finally finished up (or made it complete enough to publish) the website. I am pretty satisfied with it. It's still under construction. But it's better looking than what I had up previously.

I sat up my 'Pet Monster' today in a chair and it looked really natural. So I gave him some headphones and took this picture.

My wife witnessed me taking this photo and reminded me of what a dork I am. She's right.

I few minutes later I hooked up the camera to drag this picture off, and I found a few others that I forgot about. When I was working on my Volvo I decided that I would take pictures of the disaster I had made. That was I could photograph the final product and show off. Well, here are the jacked up photos.

As you can see, the headliner was ripped out as was half the interior. Also, I dont know if you can tell but there is about a thick layer of dust and dirt covering the car that I later scrubbed off at the car wash.

I also found some nice shots of my kids that I had taken about the same time since I had my camera in hand. Here is a shot of my daughter in her favorite ballerina dress.

Andy my son looking guilty of something at the foot of the basement step.

Tomorrow I head back to work! Gee! I can't wait! I need to get back to studying so I can knock a few exams out. It won't be long after I get back that I will be ready to bust out of my job again. At least this week I will be in-town and I won't be having to travel around teaching lame ass application classes.

As my mother would say, "Thank God for small favors".

Friday, January 02, 2004

Quest for a Cam
I have to go back to work soon, and I am dreading it. After this weekend is over, my vacation finally ends. It went pretty quick this time. Last year, that vacation seemed to last forever. Maybe it's that we have kept busy this year. All of the various Christmas parties and family get-togethers were spread over the course of a week. In my spare time, I have done some work to the ol' Volvo to get it in running shape again. And in all this ... I am still looking for a damn camera.

I went to Media Play the other day. This week I have visited three of their four stores in search of a camera that will work on my Mac. I bought myself a nice Creative Labs camera that didnt work, and now I have been carrying a list with me. I found it odd that each store has completely different stock. None the less, it's all brand new stuff. I need an older camera that has had time to sit around and become cheap for the people writing these drivers. I have now given up. And here I sit with a $32.02 gift card for Media Play. Oh well. There is a box set of the first season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm coming out in a few days. Maybe we will get that with this worthless store credit.

In the meantime I have still been trying to compile gphoto2 on my iBook ... which doesn't work at all. And reading through support, etc I can find there are other people who are just as screwed as I am trying to make this work on OS X. It sucks, because I think this camera I have is supported with it. Oh well.

In about 6 hours, an auction ends on a camera that *WILL* work on my Mac. Starting (and current) bid is $2.00 with $5.00 shipping. Hopefully I can score on that, and put up the "RAY-CAM". Oh yeah. All of my Blog readers will get to follow me, or my laptop around 24 hours a day! What fun!

Did I mention I have been fixing up my Volvo? You may say "Ray, why would you want to drive that old car?". Well, I will tell you. My Honda Civic is going away. As in ... they are coming back for it. I have argued with the loan officers for too long. I have been behind on the payments for about a year. And now I am on a plan to catch up with my mortgage. Making a car payment will make me late on my mortgage, which I *CAN NOT* do. So ... bye car. I can't say I will really miss it. That car has done nothing but drive me into debt and make me never want to answer the phone or check voicemail.

My conversation with the first bill collector was pretty easy. I simply stated "I want to give up the vehicle". And I was asked "do you know what that entails?". Yes, I do. It means, they take the car. They auction it off. And I owe them the balance. Not a very good deal right? Well, once the car is converted into un-attached debt, I can get a damned loan to cover it! As of right now, NOBODY will give me an auto loan. Unless of course, I go and get another car I can't afford to pay this one off. No fucking way am I doing that. I need to shake this payment.

So after thinking it was a done deal, I get a call from a second bill collector. This one is a little angrier. She asks "are you buying time?". She had that *snotty* bill collector tone, that I fucking hate. I sware these people act as if they will strike a nerve if they sound forceful or angry about the debt. That tone doesn't work at all with me. It gives me the urge to reverse the conversation, and strike *real* angry feelings with the collector. So I did. She was nice at first, but then she started on on me. Trying to threaten me with all sorts of things like 'garnishing your wages'. I've heard that one before. I told her I would be fine with that, because I am not making enough for them to take anything.

So during a moment of silence (there were many) I say "If you ask me, it's fate". That didn't work. So I said "Actually, it's Gods will". You know, it's Gods fault that I can't make my payments. Not my employer. Not me. God did it. And judging by the tone she got after that, I knew I had done it. I had offended her deeply. I had some holy roller who was about to tell me a thing or two about God. She asks if I read the Bible, to which I chuckled. She got angrier. She asked me to go look something up. I agreed to 'Google that later'. So she rolls off a biblical verse to me, and then quickly wraps up the conversation, giving me what I want (a voluntary surrendering of the vehicle).

Why does life have to be so complicated? Whatever. The car is going away, the payments wil become smaller, and I will get out of this debt. The bad news? I guess the bad news is I have to drive my old Volvo. Not so bad really. I did a number on the broken headlights (don't ask, they work) and I spent a few days ripping out the headliner (it was gross), fixing the brake lights (I need those!), and even replaced the little heater control. About the only problem I have now is a bad heater core. Which is ... far too expensive to even dream of fixing. To hold that off, I bought a little container of "stop leak" and shot it through the cooling system. That seems to have plugged it 'enough' that I don't get an anti-freeze bath when the car heats up.

Anyhow, that fulfils my Blog duty of the 'week'. I will post a little more when I have something entertaining to share.