Saturday, October 11, 2014

Change is a bear.

Phone, Internet, TV Cable: The perfect storm.

    It took about six hours for the telemarketers to discover my new phone number. They found me before my family and friends did. Possibly before the NSC.

I’m now getting multiple calls from someone named “San Antonio.” When SA isn’t calling, Huntsville, Texas and Alliance Security take turns. My phone is ringing more now than it did when everyone had free access to my phone number. .

    By the way, we didn’t change our number to dodge people. We changed phone companies and the new company couldn’t use our old number. Something about our metro-line..

    We also get Internet service for a fraction of the cost we were paying our ex-phone provider. And, we get ten times more megs of ram! I’d be more excited if I knew what that meant. Kay says it’s good, so I’m on board. Life is on the cusp of greased grooves here at the Hayter house. – I wish.

    Truth is, I’m goin’ nuts. It’s all about losing what I knew. They say “love hurts.” Well, that’s nothing compared to getting a new phone number and e-mail address.

    Do you have any idea how many people you have to call when you change your phone number? All of ‘em. First on my list is Kroger. If my pharmacist can’t reach me, my carcass will be in the hands of the Neptune Society before the next Octoberfest.

    Since Kroger doesn’t know my new phone number, I’m technically not a ”Loyal Customer.” I don’t know what they do to a fraudulent loyal customer, but it’s bound to be worse than what they do to you for dropping a jar of mayonnaise. I’m just guessing here.

    The change of my e-mail service is several times more trying than the phone number change. I’ve lost the copies of all my saved e-mails. And, my contacts are floating around in the netherworld. If you find ‘em, please redirect them to me. For all I know Mr. San Antonio has them.

    I’ve still got two existing e-mail addresses. One is for readers to find me. That’s the one at the bottom of the page. The other is for my spam mail. Whenever I enter a drawing to win a wheelbarrow or BBQ pit, I give ‘em my spam address, and only check it once a week to see if I won anything. – Excuse me a second, it’s the phone. -- Forget it. It’s San Antonio again. (I’m not making this up. They’re on me like flies at a cantaloupe toss.)

    All of these gripes are nothing compared to how I feel about my last change. Let me get a hanky, before I begin this part.  – All right. Kay and I just dropped Dish Network and adopted someone else. Having the Dish office disconnect you requires someone with the temperament of a rabid badger.

    I have trouble communicating with healthy badgers, so I had to handle the task. The first person I talked to at Dish was a girl named “Tahme.” That’s all I could make out. -- “Dish Network, this is Mumble, how can I help you?” – It’s as if they fear arrest should their identify be revealed. -- Excuse me a second, I’ve got a call.  -- It was Alliance Security. (No joke.) They didn’t care to leave a message.

    Okay, back to Dish. No, forget Dish. I don’t have time to tell you about their professional keep-you-on-the-line person from Burma, formerly Miramar, which was formerly Burma again. It’s enough to say that Brk (that’s what it sounded like to me. Brk.) is the greatest stalwart against Network cancellation in the Eastern Hemisphere. When that Burmese was through with me, I was still registered with Dish, but transferred to their In-Limbo division. I’ve got nine months to change my mind and go back to Dish at no cost. And I’ll receive my full docket of channels for only $14… for the first two days. (I made that up, but each sweet deal has time limit.

Truth is, if I can’t make more sense out of my new network’s remote, I may have to return to Dish. (Kay didn’t want me to say Suddenlink, so I’m referring to our new provider as “new network.”)  I had our old Dish remote down to an art. I could turn their remote upside down, while standing on my head and still record something on the DVR. Arranging “closed captioning” was a bit more difficult. I needed both thumbs and a straw to pull that off.

    I’m having some issues with the new network remote. I haven’t thrown it across the room, but only because Kay keeps grabbing my arm. – Excuse me. Another call. – It was “Huntsville.” (I kid you not. I don’t know what my new phone number is going for on the world market, but I’m apparently in demand.)

    Each channel on my new network has a different number than I’m used to. NBC is still Channel 2, but if I want it in HD, it’s 104. I can’t tell you where FX, TNT, AMC and USA are. They’re listed somewhere with nearly 1000 other numbers. I only get a fraction of those stations, but there’s no way of telling which ones I get. A red dot or something would sure help.

I will catch on, though. Either that, or there’s a Burmese guy named Brk that’s getting a call. – Excuse me. I’ve got an incoming call. (This one is a joke. I just needed an ending.) Next time.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Inventions not yet invented

What’s your theme song?

    I recently read an article in September’s issue of Reader’s Digest entitled “Someone Should Invent…” It wasn’t an article as such, but an assortment of inventions that readers submitted. I enjoyed the topic so much, that I decided to steal it… I mean enhance upon it. Yeah, enhance.

    Among the proposed inventions suggested is a pair of pants that actually catch fire when someone tells a lie. That was from Raymond Portalatin from New York City. He could well be the only Portalatin on the continent.

    My favorite idea came from Kelly Johnson in Columbus, OH. Kelly thinks someone should invent a way for each person to have his or her own theme music, so that when you approach ‘em you can better decide if you care to stop and chat. How great is that?

    By the way, I’ve already got my theme song. “Have Gun Will Travel.” I’m going to start humming the tune when a stranger approaches. Who wouldn’t feel safe around Paladin? Kay’s song should be “Peace Train” by Yusaf Islam, who will always be Cat Stevens to me. I have mentioned that Kay won’t argue about anything, have I not? Oh, she gets upset, but won’t argue. I’m sleeping with the conductor of a peace train.

    I would like to continue coming up with theme songs for other people, but that’s not my job. I’m supposed to tell you things that need to be invented. Remember? Toward that end I asked listeners of “The Mark and Cindy Show” on to phone in or Facebook their thoughts about inventions. What a dud.

    The most common suggestion was for a remote control to find your TV remote control. Problem is, I’ve got three remotes for TV viewing. I’ve got one each for the cable, the TV and the DVD player. That makes three objects to keep track of… to return to one central location.

Kay can’t return things. I’m liable to find one of the remotes in the Quaker Oats round cardboard box thing. She has no recollection of putting away anything. --  BUT. She is the peace train conductor. I’ve got to remember that.

Mark & Cindy Show listeners are the best people in the world, but their invention ideas stunk on ice, so I had to come up with my own. I waited till now to mention ‘em because I don’t have that many. -- Ready?

Someone needs to invent a wearable GPS device that not only tells you where you am, but explains why you’re there. For example: “GPS lady, why am I standing in the utility room?” – “You’re looking for the vinegar, Mark.” – “Vinegar? Are you sure? Why do I need vinegar?”  – “I’m sorry, Dave, that’s not my job.” Those computers can really get uppity.

Someone needs to invent a weird orb, the size of one of those exercise balls that you sit on, only you don’t sit on this orb ‘cause its got some weird juju in it. We’ll say gamma rays. Anyway, you roll the ball into a room, close the door, and instantly all of the dust and dirt in the room is attracted to the ball. See why you don’t want to sit on it?

After about eight minutes you open the door to the room, roll the ball out the backdoor, push a button and it repels all the dust and dirt. How about one of you start work on that?

The most valuable invention would be a machine that exercises for you. I was talking to a fitness lady a couple of months back who said that her health center has a platform that you stand on and it vibrates real fast. I think it makes tiny motions so there’s no fear of falling. The thing is supposed to be like jogging, only you don’t have to bend your knees or even move. It’s all done for you.

I believe the machine is called a Scam-track. It can’t possibly work. What we need is one of those big balls that people climb into and roll around and bump into other balls with people in ‘em. Only instead of bumping into people, somebody rolls you down a rocky hill or mountain or cliff.

Even though you’re perfectly safe ‘cause there’s padding in the ball, your reflexes would be going crazy and you’d be using every muscle in your body, especially the ones near your vocal cords. When you finally settle at the bottom of the precipice, you’d be completely worn out. And it only lasted a few seconds. Exercise period over!

You’d lie down on a cot for a few minutes, and once your balance and sense of smell returned (They say smell is the first to go) you’d hop up and go get a smoothie or waffles. Someone might want to do the science on this to make sure I’m right about all your muscles being used. Makes perfect sense to me.

I’ve got a few other inventions, but they’re mostly stupid ones. I’ll save ‘em for later. Speaking of which, I think next time we’ll discuss “What if gluten isn’t making you sick?”  That’s another article in the September issue of RD. A fascinating read. As is this. — What?


Saturday, October 4, 2014

It's weird, but I called me.

Oh, they're gonna get you.

    If age is in any way related to intelligence, I am obviously smarter than a lot of you. Unfortunately, my lack of understanding of practically everything is evidence that the “Age = Intelligence” formula is a load of horse sweat.

    My IQ used to be way up there. I took the test in the back of a guy’s pickup truck parked outside a Dandy Dog in ’84. The truck had the name “Wally” printed on the door and a decal of a ball peen hammer on the back window. Weird, the stuff I remember. Did I mention I scored way up there?

Everyone with lower IQ’s than mine agree that your Intelligence Quotient is a terrible way to measure smarts. It means next to nothing. The only significance of my score is the fact that I registered one point higher than Kay. God smiled on me that day, my friend.

Of course, that’s all behind me now. Today I’m dumb as dirt. I understand nothing. In fact, just this week someone asked if I knew the origin of the word “understand.” I thought it was a joke lead-in, so I didn’t make up anything.

From what I was told, if you stand under something it means you grasp it. Thus “understand.” Had I told that to anyone, the person would’ve said, “No, then you would call it “standunder” not “understand.” But I accepted it without comment, ‘cause I don’t like it when someone finds fault when I’m trying to impress.

After a bit of research, I found that few agree on the way the word originated. Some say the Old English word meaning “among” or “amidst” used to sound like “under.” I believe it was spelled “hostergotten.” So technically, if you “understand something, you’re supposed to say “Yes, I stand-hostergotten.”

I say that to say this: I was sitting in this very spot three hours ago when I got a call from myself. Up until that point, I had never been able to do that, yet, there it was. My caller I.D. had posted my phone number as the caller. Since I was the only one home, the call had to come from me… or the gnome that keeps stealing my left house shoe.

It’s a frightful thing when you’re alone and you get a call from your downstairs phone to your upstairs home phone. I was scared to answer it. I was thinking Twilight Zone and William Shatner. Had Twilight Zone aired such an episode I’m pretty sure William Shatner would’ve been it. Or, maybe Jack Klugman.

I eventually decided to answer ‘cause I didn’t want have to play back the message I would’ve left when calling myself. – “Hello?” – I thought that better than saying, “I thought you’d never call.” I wasn’t in the mood to joke around.

There was about a three-second pause before a recorded message came on suggesting that I act now in order to take advantage of a low interest rate on my credit card. That was it. I wasn’t relieved. Not in the least. In fact, I was more scared than I would’ve been had I been on the other end of the line.

I don’t understand how telemarketer companies managed to infiltrate my caller I.D. Made it look like I was calling myself. Anyone who can do that has the capability of establishing an alibi for any crime committed. “Officer, if you’ll check my phone records you’ll see that I was at home Friday night talking to myself on the phone for eight minutes.”

That’s a bit upsetting. Or, settingup, depending on the origin of the word. As disconcerting as that is, it’s less frightening than the fact that Home Depot accidentally let someone get my credit card info. I am now one of about 60 million customers whose credit info was stolen right under the nose of Home Depot’s computer security team of, uh… currently unemployed computer programmers.

The thing is, Home Depot didn’t learn about the breach for five months after it happened. A blogger, not even associated with the store had to inform them. – “Excuse me, but, uh, how are you guys handling the credit card info stolen from 60 million of your customers? Has that been a problem? Want me to see if I can buy the info back for you?”

If the hackers sell the data to just one person, there’s a chance my number won’t come up. It’d be like my name getting picked out of 60 big city phone books. However, it the hacker blankets the world with the credit info, I may have already purchased a portable hot tub for a Cossack named Igon Tuskovovich. And, quite possibly a John Deere rice reaper for East Asian agriculturist Chin Dom Phu..

No, I don’t understand stuff. I am so out of step with… uh, all the people who are stepping. I don’t want to even think what my IQ would register if I took another test. Doesn’t mean you can’t take one, though. You can find Wally’s pickup outside the Family Dollar store most Thursday afternoons. I’m still confused about that hammer. Ask him what that’s all about, would you? Ball peen? Where’d that “peen” come from?