Low Priority

Snark time.

We receive our credit card statement by old-fashioned (in this era – it was modern in another time, I swear) snail mail. A personal check is written to cover our charges, and then it’s mailed back, with a stamp. Each month, the credit card company then sends me an email, verifying that the payment has been received and the bill is paid. They also tell me, “Next time, quickly and easily pay your bill using any checking, money market, or savings account – at home or on the go – ”

Yes, because one BIG priority in my life is to PAY MY CREDIT CARD BILL MORE QUICKLY. Because that benefits me…how?

I think we know who benefits from paying my bill by an e-process or app more quickly, and it ain’t me and my wife.

Here We Go Again – A Microsoft Rant

Microsoft has done it again; they’ve “improved” their Word product. 

Three features that I’ve grown used to are suddenly no longer functioning correctly after the latest MS “update”. As a writer, I liked the recently used files, pinned files, and the bookmarker that lets me pick up where I left off the last time that I was in a document. Stupidly of me, I like them so much that I trusted Microsoft to leave them as they are.

No.

I’ve been dealing with Microsoft products for over thirty years. Their updates and improvements regularly ripped up what I’m used to using, slowing me down, wasting time, and adding unnecessary aggravation.

My latest used files, according to MS Word, was in September of 2016. This is from a program that I use every day. The pinned files? All unpinned. Thanks, Microsoft. You’re a fucking peach. 

After finding the files that I used yesterday, the bookmark for where I left off is absent. I know where I was working, etc., but what the hell?

Of course, I must laugh. I must release long, bitter peals of angry laughter because, while Microsoft taketh away and fouls things up, it urges me, “Look! Look at our bright, shiny, NEW stuff. We’re improved, not like the sucky old product that we used to be.”

  1. Why should I look at your new and improved shit when you just removed my normally used shit, Microsoft?
  2. Why can’t I keep using the old, sucky shit.

(And yes, I recognize that the MS Word features that I’d grown accustomed to using were themselves new features, once upon a time. It’s great that they created an provided them. But can’t they see how it builds distrust when they do this sort of crap? It’s like good ol’ Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the bowl. She always pulls it away, and he keeps believing that THIS TIME it’ll be different. Then, Lucy, like Microsoft proves, nope, we fooled you again.)

It’s the world’s way, innit? Don’t know about that, but it sure as hell is the Microsoft way.

GRRR.

The Excuse

Two people were in the cross walk. The red Volkswagen Jetta had plenty of time to stop, but the young woman drove through the crosswalk, missing a pedestrian on either side by two to three feet.

Enraged, they gestured and shouted at her. She had a good excuse for not seeing them and stopping, because she was on her cellphone.

The Amazing POS That’s the Free Mail Google offers

Warning: this snarky rant has some profanity.

Well, I should have known.

I’d been using Gmail for years. It started sliding down hill a few years ago. To save it, I went to Inbox.

Mistake.

Four years later, and a year of PERSONAL frustration for me, frustration that included random shifting of mail into different places. WaPo’s news letter will be in one place on one day, somewhere else the next.

Delete an email? Not under this POS. Delete may work. It might not. The emails show up again and again, driving me crazy as I remembered already reading that mail and deleting it, sometimes THREE TIMES IN ONE DAY.

Earlier this year, Google announced they’re dropping Inbox. Does that mean they fucking improved Gmail?

Not fucking likely.

Being Google, it still works like crap. However, they’ve managed to add several infuriating features. One particularly pisses me off. Each time I delete an email or change a tab — hell, anytime I do anything in Gmail, a small offer comes up:

Gmail Desktop

 

Nothing stops this zombie question. Can’t be turned off. It just asks me again, and again. Hide? Fat fucking chance. It comes right back up after I do something. Click the X? No, that shit doesn’t help, either. Yes, it offers a brief respite, but nothing more. It’s always there, obsequiously asking me if I want to use their fucking feature.

As Rake would say, “Oh, fuckity fuck, fuck.”

Snark Alert – Firewise Edition

As the weather has grown hotter and dryer every year, wildfires have become a frightening threat to our southern Oregon community. To help improve the chances of our structures surviving wildfires, Ashland participates in the Firewise USA program. Besides offering assessments on your property, the program offers building and landscaping tips to improve the chances that your property will survive.

One tip is not to have a wooden fence that attaches to the house. I mentioned that to friends as we visited with them on their back deck. “We don’t have wooden fences attached to the house.”

We were sitting on a moderate-sized wooden deck attached to their house. “What about this deck? It’s attached to your house.”

“It’s not a fence.”

Oh, I see, yes. The wildfire will burn through the wooden fence surrounding your backyard and across the trees and grass, but then will come to your wooden deck and say, “Wait! That’s not a fence. That’s a deck. We better leave this alone.” Thus their home will be saved.

Honestly.

Guidelines for A Relationship with Your Muse(s)

I’ve been coping with my muse(s) for years. I’m not certain how many I have. I may have one muse with shape-shifting skills and multiple personalities, or a horde with very distinct skill sets and ideas. I suspect my muses are both of these ideas.

Muse(s) can be fickle. Having employed some mechanisms that helped me get along with my muse(s), I thought I’d compile some brief, general guidelines. These are recorded to help me in the future, but since I’m typing them up, I thought sharing them might help others when they’re dealing with their muse(s).

  1. Shelter your muse(s) like kittens, puppies, kits, and fledglings. They’re cute, tender, and impressionable, and need to be fed, protected, and nurtured. They depend on you for everything.
  2. It helps to act like you’re handling a fourteenth-century Ming dynasty vase when you’re conversing with your muse(s). They’re rare, fragile, and irreplaceable.
  3. Regard your muse(s) like they’re famous geniuses such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, Jackson Pollock, Maya Angelou, or Frank Lloyd Wright. They have a lot to offer, and you should pay attention.
  4. Behave with your muse(s) as you would with family that you enjoy having around, and respect and interact with your muse(s) as you do with family that you must love because they’re family, but you have no idea why they do the things that they do.
  5. Follow your muse(s) like they’re a famous performer, like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Beyonce, or Kanye West, or a movie star like Jimmy Stewart, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Dwight Johnson, Jerry Lewis, Casey Affleck, or Bruce Campbell.
  6. Care for your muse(s) like a favorite elderly pet who seems to be fading.
  7. Obey your muse(s) like you’re a child and they’re your parent(s).
  8. Nurture, protect, and teach your muse(s) like you’re their parent(s) and they’re your child, perhaps a two-year-old, or a sixteen-year-old. They could be both from moment to moment. Part of the fun is understanding which one they are.
  9. Interact with your muse(s) like they’ve been convicted of being a serial killer who escaped from prison and is standing in your bedroom.
  10. React to your muse(s) like they’re the monsters under your bed. You’re not sure if they’re real, but you keep hearing noises, and it’s really, really dark.
  11. Embrace your muse(s) like a bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm. It can be painful and illuminating, but rewarding, if you survive.
  12. Finally, have fun with your muse(s). Pretend that you’re all celebrating graduating high-school and becoming an adult by getting drunk.

Employing these simple strategies have rewarded me with the same sort of wonderful relationship that I have with a stranger that I bump into at a parade. With a little observation and effort, you can have the same kind of relationship.

Good luck!

United Airlines Lottery

United Airlines put me on a roller coaster this week. First, they announced plans to stop giving employees bonuses. They would instead use a lottery to reward them.

I thought it was a great idea. I always feel like it’s a lottery flying with United. Yes, I have a ticket for the flight, but do I have a seat? Will I get on a plane? And will it be on the day that I’m scheduled to be flying? Let’s start a betting pool!

The betting pools always made those of us waiting in the gate area feel better. Even though there was a chance we wouldn’t make the flight (or the flight wouldn’t go today), at least there was a small chance that we might win. It was a little rain of sunshine on a bitter day traveling on United Airlines.

I thought having employees rewarded by lottery would help employees and passengers bond. Now employees would feel how we passengers feel when we wait to see if we’re going to fly on the flight that we bought a ticket for.

I don’t think the executives were going to participate in the lottery. I felt sorry for them. It seemed mean of United to exclude them. I accuse United of being executivists, treating executives differently just because they’re executives. It seems like companies will discriminate about anything these days.

But then, United announced they were not going to do the lottery. Say whaaat? Apparently, the employees weren’t as excited about the bonus lottery as I was.

That surprised the president of United Airlines, Scott Kirby (which admittedly sounds like a movie star’s name in the 1940s). Kirby said, “Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you.”

I admit, I paused when I read that. The company president was surprised that people weren’t happy that they weren’t going to receive the bonus money that they were probably counting upon. I think that gives us a little more insight into why United sucks more each year (hell, each month) as an airline. It explains why they’re surprised when passengers are pissed about paying extra for the blankets, food, and a seat that isn’t out on the wing.

Is it surprising that United will start selling priority boarding for coach passengers? I believe they’ll next be selling priority exiting, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re going to start charging for the seats in the crowded waiting areas around the gate. “I’m sorry, sir, can I see your ticket for that seat? You can’t sit there if you don’t have a ticket. Would you like to buy a ticket? Just five dollars per hour. What’s your flight number? Oh, you’ll need about six hours, then.”

Then, like all of United’s twisted, greedy thinking, they’ll oversell the tickets for the seats in the waiting area. “Sorry, just because you have a ticket, it doesn’t mean that you have a seat.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that United Airlines employees must buy desk time at work.

United Airlines: “Fly with us. It’s a lottery.”

Pop-up Ads

Sara Fischer had a surprising article over on Axios.com:

People really don’t like pop-up ads, pre-roll

“What?” I asked myself. People don’t like pop-up ads and pre-rolls? Bullshit. Dismissive of this headline, I read the article.

Sara Fischer claims that Morning Consult did research, and discovered that surveys show that seventy-two percent of U.S. adults don’t like pop-up ads.

It’s more fake news, I suspect.

I don’t know anyone who dislikes pop-up ads. I love them, myself. Pop-up ads are technology’s way of saying, “Hey, relax. Take a break.” They stop me from getting too involved in stories by preventing me from immediately reading the articles, clicking on links, and searching for more information to vet the story.

Pop-up ads are a blessing, and should be embraced as such. Just think of how much more shit you could be reading and doing on the web, were it not for pop-up ads saving you.

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