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Thursday, September 27, 2012

WUMF: September 2012 Edition

OK... so, I've been distracted lately with stuff.   It's kept me from regularly posting, and I'm still late on my Labor Day travels post,  but the culmination of a few things have led to another thrilling edition of WUMF!

The Replacements
We all know that the replacement refs suck.  Fine.  But really, does the NFL care?  No.  You know why?  Because even bad publicity is good publicity.  Was it a bit petty that the league did not cave until the blown Green Bay/Seattle game??  Yes.  But the league generates a billion dollars. Even though the regular refs get like six figure incomes for working half the year and first class airfare, that's a still a huge disparity. 

Yet, it kind of backfires when the biggest names in team ownership see their games impacted by the botched calls.  The Krafts, who own the Patriots, and the City of Green Bay, which pretty much own the Packers both had games with controversial end game calls, resulting in losses for them.  That might be why the talks finally resumed and came to a conclusion.  So, now, we can get back to bashing the regular refs for blowing calls.  At least we get to see the Hochuli pythons signaling touchdown or holding.  Flex them you douche.  Flex them all the way to the bank.

If you know what that's from you'll know what the hell I'm talking about. On Sunday, my wife was about to give our five year old a bath when she noticed what looked like a blackhead on her back.  Turned out to be a tick.  I looked at it for a second and just said, "Eff it!"  I pulled it out.   I managed to get it all out, intact.  It sat on my finger nail looking at me, wiggling.  So, I flushed it.

In hindsight, I should have saved it.   We took her to the pediatrician on Monday and they actually wanted to hire me to do tick removals.  Seems to be OK.  They gave her an antibiotic to treat a sinus infection and after three days, the bite is hardly noticeable.   No, "Bullseyse", as it were.   We'll keep an eye on her, though.

Now, we have some woods around our house, but we don't go near them.  In fact, on Sunday, we were only outside to go to the store, and then she was outside with m for about twenty minutes while I grilled steaks.  She played on her swing.  She didn't go anywhere near brush.  So, I don't know if she got it then, or if those damn strays passed it along.  That situation is getting ridiculous.

The other reason I haven't been posting is that I got sucked into watching these videos.  For those of you who do not know.  Slenderman was part of a competition on the Something Awful forums.  The task was to doctor up some photos to make it look like some scary phenomena.   The result was this thing that looked like a cross between the Gentlemen from Buffy, and a sperm.  Go look him up.

Anyway, it turned into an ARG, which is an alternate reality game where a group of people started posting videos like they were found footage.   Under the guise of making a "Student Film" called MarbleHornets, a friend is given a bunch of tapes from the production and is told to "burn them".  Of course, you can't do that, so the person starts watching them and posting them as entries online.  What happens is that you see strange things like video and audio distortion, shapes, SLENDERMAN!

You get sucked in, even though you know the whole thing is fake, just because they capitalized on the thing that made Blair Witch so popular 12 years ago. There is no explanation for why it's happening and that's part of the fun.  You hardly see the monster.  Of course, when you do, it's so badly constructed, but still, it creeps you out a bit.   After three years and 60 some entries, it's gotten a bit ridiculous, but damnit if I won't watch every single one of them.  There's even free video games online surrounding the hilarity.

Hitchcock was really good in using fetishistic scopophilia in films like Rear Window and Psycho.  That's when you are entertained by watching others' as in the case of Norman Bates looking at Marion Crane through the peep holes or L.B. Jeffries looks at his neighbors across the courtyard.   But what really ratchets up the excitement or terror is when you are simply observers, unable to control what's happening.  You simply sit and watch something.  In the case of the MarbleHornets videos, you are given a POV (Point of View) experience and the person filming takes you along on for the ride, passive and unable to control what is happening in the frame.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two In The Clip and One In The Chamber

OK, so Friday night my father in law was headed over to go out with us to dinner. He then called and said that wasn’t happening. He was having chest pains and shortness of breath. He needed to go to the ER.

We flipped a coin and headed to Forbes Regional. You may remember, my wife had a bad experience at Westmoreland Regional when she was dealing with pneumonia. Then again, I had a bad experience with West Penn Allegheny Health System when they neglected to honor a wellness visit for my wife and instead charged us for a service which led to a huge debacle over charges, collections, and general failure of the healthcare billing system. However, seeing as how Excela basically wasted precious time when my mother in law was dying from a brain hemorrhage, I was more comfortable going to Forbes.

Now, for four months the man has been complaining of his leg hurting. He has an artificial hip and is 73 years old. However, no one could figure out what the hell was going on. He has arthritis in his back which was causing issues with his leg. He wears a foot brace because of a drop foot and that was broken for the last four years. As soon as he replaced it and got new shoes, it all went to shit for him. So, he sat and sat. He wasn’t playing golf or doing anything else. In the end, the diagnosis was that he had three blood clots. One in his leg and one in each lung. As I called it, “Two in the chamber and one in the clip.”

After he finally got a room, we noticed two things. One, his roommate sounded like he needed a coughalator and two, the bed had blood on it. So, needless to say, we got him moved. He was fine down at the other end of the hall, but the lady in the room next to him has the same issue as the other guy. So, it’s never quiet. He’s been laid up now, going on day five. He’s ready to come home. Hopefully, he’ll be home today.

However, last night as we were leaving, we got the most unusual request. An elderly lady was sitting at the entrance to the hospital. She was sitting in a wheelchair and asked if we could take her home.

I was flabbergasted.

I didn’t know what to say.

I didn’t have a chance. My kid got in the automatic revolving door and I had to follow her.

Apparently, she had been discharged and didn’t have a ride. She had been waiting for a cab but it hadn’t come after two hours. We were just about to say, “Yes”, when her ride showed up. A friend was coming to pick her up but fell asleep in the car out in the parking lot.

She was a trusting soul. We could have been psychos. Though, I could imagine her getting in the car and saying, “Thanks for giving me a ride.  Do you mind if I stop at the bank and get some money to give you for your trouble?” Then she pulls out a gun and ski mask.

“Granny’s packing! She’s got one in the chamber and two in the clip.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Happens When You're Not Paying Attention to Kids

Every now and again, my kid gets out all her old toys from when she was two or three and plays with them.  This cause my wife and I grief because the house gets littered with all her stuff which then has to find its way back into her room with enough space left for her to fit at bed time.

Most of the time she sits there playing with a few toys while watching television.  The ability for me to get some time to watch the backlog of my recorded shows is null unless one of those shows has Dora in it.

The rare occasions when she goes to her room to play allow me to watch television but I pay for it when I see the mess she has made in her room.

Today, she proved once again she is smarter than both her parents.   While I wasn't paying attention, she pulled this off all by herself.

Her old baby doll pack and play.

He removed the dangling animal cross bar.

One of her pony tail holders

Instant giraffe headdress

She showed it to me and I did not make the connection.  It never once dawned on me to ask how she managed to make this headband.  Then I actually looked at it when she took it off and put it down.

She took the pony tail holder and looped it around the ends of the cross bar.

She's five.  Now, I am biased when it comes to how smart she is.  I think she's a friggin' genius.  How many five year-olds could come up with this idea and application using two unrelated items?  This is not the first time she's engineered something like this.   When she was four, she assembled her own decorations.

Then again, she uses this thing to pretend to be a giraffe. 

Eh, she's still a genius.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Liberation after 607 straight days

It was hard to let go. I kept feeling the need to stay. It was like Stockholm Syndrome had kicked in or something. Finally, the last straw had broken and I was tired of throwing away countless hours on it.

I quit Café World.

(Cue thunderous choirs of singers.)

OK, I admit it. I AM THAT guy. I play Facebook games. I am a prisoner of the evil Zynga.

No, not really. I do play Farmville, but even that is probably on its way out of my life.

I should have seen this coming. In fact I realized the problem months ago but continued to plonk away at the restaurant themed game, even though it was dictating some aspects of my life.

Let’s back up for those of you who have a life. Zynga has a game called Café World where you run a cafe. You decorate it with different themes and styles, holiday or country specific. You cook dishes, make drinks, cakes, all kinds of stuff, and serve it. You hire your “friends” to work in your Café, which has no real effect on them except that they sometimes get notified that your using their Facebook identity in your game. I think that stopped awhile back if it was ever a thing at all.

Anyway, you get goals or missions. You cook up a certain number of dishes or ask friends for certain items and complete those goals for rewards. The more goals you complete, the better you can make your café. But, there’s a price.

Not all the goals are easy to achieve. There are time limits. There are restrictions on how many dishes you can cook at one time, and every dish has a different prep time. There is a restriction on how often you can ask your friends for help… and they have to be playing the game as well. Not at the same time, but they have it loaded on their facebook account to be able to help.

So, you get a set of goals and you complete the first one, fairly easy. Then you get to the third or fourth and now, you have to cook up like 30-40 dishes, ask for 10 items, and you have three days left to complete that goal and three more to complete the entire list. Meanwhile, you are already working on three other sets of goals. The pressure is on. But, you can still complete the tasks if you use up your “special” cash which you earn along the way. Your regular profit is based in coins but there is the “Café Cash” which you can buy with your “Real Cash” and that’s where the real game begins. Zynga wants your money.

And why not? They are a company that provides the game free to use over Facebook. But these microtransactions are just the tip of the iceberg. The game sort of makes it unwinnable and never ending if you don’t spend in game cash. The later goals in any set involve a lot of items that are either nearly impossible to complete because you don’t have the tools to do it or you need the help of friends who don’t play the game. That’s their goal; get people to suck their friends into playing and spend real money to complete in game goals.

It wasn’t hard to see the problem with these games and yet I still played. Part of it was that spirit of not quitting and part of it was that I had achieved so much that it felt ridiculous to just throw it all away.

After all, one of the few perks was free items for cooking a dish every day. After 607 days though, I’d had enough of it. The game was notoriously buggy, it was slow, half of the items you cooked never stayed in game and would disappear upon refresh or coming back later to serve them. In all, it became extremely frustrating to try and make it to my computer to cook something just so I could keep the streak alive. I wasn’t having any fun and finally said, “Eff it!” And removed the game from my account.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Irwin Is the End of the Universe

Lewis Black once spoke about the end of the universe being in Houston. There was a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. Well, that was awhile ago and it appears that it’s spreading.

Irwin, PA is now the new “End of the Universe”. And it’s much worse. First, National City got bought up by PNC and instead of making the existing one a First Niagara, it became another PNC. Then, the Walmart finally went in on Barnes Lake Road. It wasn’t bad enough that Hills and Ames succumbed to the pressure of the low cost retail giant a few miles away. Now, we have one here at the scene of the crime.

Finally, they began opening new stores around Walmart hoping to get their cast offs. Now, there is a Starbucks on one side of Route 30 and on the other, there is a Target, with a Starbucks inside it. How the F@#$ did Irwin get to be so high falutin’ that it needed more than one Starbucks? We can’t keep businesses in the shopping centers around it. The Norwin Cinemas is now a gym. The Blockbuster is now an urgent care center. Payless Shoes is now an eye doctor’s office.

Well played universe… well played.

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