Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dan is Paranoid:

So I went to the post office today to buy some stamps. I ask for a roll of stamps and hand the woman my bank card.

She says, "Picture ID?"

And I'm thinking: "Jesus Christ, what now? What crazy excuse has the Homeland Security/Domestic Spying fascists come up with now? Why in the the hell do they want picture ID for buying stamps? If I don't show ID, are they going to taser me right here in the post office? What next? When is this stupidity going to stop? What is this? North Korea?"

But I just said, "I need picture ID to buy stamps now?"

And she says, "No, for the credit card."

"Oh."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teen charged in Miami's 19 serial cat killings - CNN.com

Teen charged in Miami's 19 serial cat killings - CNN.com: "He could face a maximum of 158 years in state prison if convicted on all counts, said Terry Shavez, spokeswoman for the state attorney's office."


--If they give this kid 158 years for killing cats, that would be awesome.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The FDA is now going to regulate tobacco.

How hard could this possibly be? I'll spell it out:

Day 1: Yeah! we regulate tobacco!
Day 2: Tobacco is illegal.

How could they possibly allow tobacco to be legal? It kills the sh!t out of people all the time. I am NOT anti-smoking, but if they are going to "regulate" tobacco, and it kills as many people as it kills, then the only "logical" thing to do would be to make it illegal.

OR

Legalize the stuff that is less harmful.

The other thing that surprises me is this: The FDA WASN'T regulating tobacco until this year? WTF are those slackers good for?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Coffee Shop Notes

Loud Cell Phone Talker: The guy at the table behind me is on the phone with Verizon. He had a $500.00 phone bill and he is not happy with his [business] plan. He has a nasal whine, and while he isn't being a prick now, he's close. You can tell he's got full-on douche potential. Of course we all do, but this guy is letting it out on the surface a little too publicly at a high volume. He taps impatiently on the table as he talks to Verizon about endless details of his Verizon business plan:

His son married "this girl" in March. Apparently she is on the plan as well, but referring to your daughter-in-law as "this girl" tells us (everybody in the coffee shop who has to listen to this dipshit) something about his feelings toward his son's wife. He just told us all his phone number, and now I've jotted it down in my yellow notepad. (I could be a prick and put it in this note, but no one reads my blog anyway www.danmanning.com). Now he's told us his son's phone number (really loud) and his daughter-in-law's (that girl's) number. He's blurting all this wonderful information out to everybody, and I'm scribbling furiously right in front of him and he's clueless.

Who else is in the coffee shop? A chubby guy in a red and white striped shirt sits down and starts some furious laptopping(1). He's on his cell phone, talking about developing a website, but he has discovered his INSIDE VOICE (gasp!) so he is not annoying. I will not eavesdrop, because he is not broadcasting for all to hear. He is not annoying. Good for him. Good for humanity.

There are two pairs of women, each pair sitting at a table. All four have laptops. Side-by-side seems to be the preferred configuration. These two pairs of women are not together. The men laptop alone.

Two young girls are sitting to my left, chatting. They too have discovered inside voices. They are also not annoying. That is doubleplusgood. They don't have laptops! What what?

Loud phone talker leaves and later two women sit down at the same table. The woman behind me is trying to locate her daughter by calling various people on her cell phone. "She isn't answering her cell phone and she isn't at home." She hangs up. "This is so frustrating." She continues her conversation with the woman sitting with her. "I just told him to find a job, I don't care where." She makes a few more phone calls, trying to locate her offspring. "The only thing I can think of is she got a ride with someone else." Her name is "Caily" (or something like that. Spelling unknown. Non-standard naming convention)

Finally, "Caily" is found.

"'Caily'? How did you get home?" She says goodbye. "She got a ride home with Daniel," she says to the woman sitting with her. She calls someone else. "I'm so sorry, I don't know why she didn't call you or text you to let you know. She's in such trouble."

Again she hangs up. To the woman who is sitting there not saying much: "The two older children are from Curt. From my ex-husband . . . [insert entire life story here].


(1) Yes, I'm using the word "laptop" as a verb. Deal with it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

wednesday night - thursday morning RANT

This is not a conspiracy theory. Nobody planned this system out. It's just the way it works:

The government has come completely loose from the moorings of the Constitution. That piece of paper no longer holds any meaning to these media whores and corporate shills who have infested Washington (for decades and decades). This administration is exactly like the last, which was exactly like the one that it replaced. The trappings and accents and uniforms (D) or (R) may have changed, but the real people in charge have stayed the same the entire time. President Obama has gone back on just about everything he promised (gasp!) and he's doing the same thing Bush was doing, only he's more articulate when he makes excuses for doing those same things. He's even trying to retroactively cripple the Freedom of Information Act, which puts him in the same league as Bush, Cheney and the rest of those ass-clowns. Clinton deregulated the shit out of everything and Greenspan was his High Priest of Deregulation. Bush took us to war for no reason whatsoever and screwed things up even more. Obama is going to keep things exactly the way it has always been, same as it ever was.

I know it has been this way since the ink was dry on the Constitution, but it seems that in the past the politicians at least pretended to follow the rules (then again, maybe I'm nostalgic, and things have always been as fucked up as they are now). Now they're just making shit up whenever and they know no one is paying attention, and if anyone does raise a stink they just have them Tasered and they sic the law on the troublemakers.

As we buy more complicated and entertaining phones and laptops and televisions, and as we get more channels of entertainment, we will keep going to our jobs and filling our gas tanks and pretending that everything is okay. We close our eyes as our government runs roughshod over every right we thought we had, but probably only were allowed to think we had because it kept us quiet. But it is not okay. This system is unsustainable.

What am I going to do about it? Nothing. I have bills to pay. So I'll keep working and paying bills and pretty soon I'll be too old to care anymore. I'm already there really.

Some of us are kept as pets by the companies that use us to perform certain functions. We are given enough money to keep us in our homes, our kennels. We are kept in enough debt to keep us working. We are programmed by televisions to live beyond our means. We are shown standards of living that we are convinced we must have at any cost. We are given enough money to entertain ourselves between work shifts, and to buy food. We are given enough money to buy a vehicle to get back and forth between our cubicles and our homes. We are asked to work more hours for the same pay, to stay by our phones, to be always available. We are able to "log in from home", we are given beepers. Even on vacation, we are not allowed to disconnect. We are part of the Hive Mind. We will be assimilated.

We watch processed entertainment made for the lowest common denominator. It feeds our most basic fears and titillations.

We are told that there are two parties to choose from, and we argue with those who choose Brand B when we have chosen Brand A. But we don't realize both "Brands" of political ideas are really the same Brand. They both support a system that keeps us in the cycle I just described above. The politicians (actors) who make up the two "parties" are all bought and controlled by the same group of powerful companies and interests that make damn sure we keep consuming their products and buying into their ideas.

Both "Brands" of politicians are willing to put cameras everywhere, tap our phones, read our email, search our homes without warrant, take away our rights and pass laws that restricts the right to assemble and protest.

And we are told that other states are the totalitarian states. We are told that we are free.

And we are free. Really. Never mind, just go about your business. Nothing to see here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

a "late fee" by any other name . . .

This is what is printed on the back of my water bill. In all capital letters, as if that causes it to make more sense:

FAILURE TO RECEIVE THE BILL DOES NOT EXCUSE ANY LATE FEE. MAKE ANY INQUIRY OR COMPLIANT ABOUT THIS BILL BEFORE THE DUE DATE. A 10% PENALTY WILL BE CHARGED IF PAYMENT IS RECEIVED AFTER THE DUE DATE.

First of all, I've always paid my water bill. This isn't about me. But "FAILURE TO RECEIVE" the bill indicates that it might be lost in the mail. It would be impossible to complain about the bill before the due date if it is lost in the mail, and even more impossible to pay it on time if it was lost in the mail. And yet, this situation DOES NOT EXCUSE ANY LATE FEE. I wouldn't want it "EXCUSED" anyway. I'd want it eliminated. Is that the same thing?

In fact, if there is "NO EXCUSE" for a late fee, doesn't that mean a late fee will not be tolerated? And if that's the case, does that mean there are no late fees? I don't think my smart ass argument would get me anywhere at the courthouse, or wherever one takes a water bill to argue about it, which I probably would never do, because I fear the government and all government agencies.

Notice it doesn't say "FAILURE TO RECEIVE THIS BILL". Someone at the water department was thinking. If it said, "FAILURE TO RECEIVE THIS BILL", it would be impossible to read it because you hadn't received it yet. I'm pretty sure an angry customer at one time came in and made that same argument when they didn't "receive" their bill on time. That's when they probably changed that ALL CAP notice to say "THE" instead of "THIS".

I send out checks on the due date for most of my bills, and I noticed a $15.44 "adjustment" to my bill. I couldn't' figure it out until I realized it was a late fee. They don't put "late fee" on there because if I don't realize I sent it in late, I won't send it earlier the next time. They want me to keep sending it out on the due date instead of before the due date, and they'll keep making their little "adjustment". If they play that little trick on enough water bills, that is a lot of money. If they put "LATE FEE" on the bill, people would start paying on time, and that would mean less money for the water company.

It is my own fault for not paying attention. So I checked back on all my water bills. There's a $15.40 "adjustment" on the last bill also. We're billed quarterly for our water. So is it a late fee or something else? I called and asked the Township office and indeed, it is a late fee. It's not quite ten percent. Do they also make sure it isn't exactly ten percent so we can't figure out that it is a "late fee" instead of a mysterious "adjustment"?

I'm sending it early this time. And how quickly I've caught on: a mere nine years living in here. Ha ha ha. That's around $15.00 x 36 quarters = $540.00 in late fees (oops, I mean "adjustments"). Multiply that by all the late payers in the Township and I can see why you wouldn't want to point out the fact that your payer is paying late every month. "Adjustment" indeed.

I'm not complaining. Every so often when I open a tap and cold, clear water comes out I realize it is a miracle. We are so lucky to have hot and cold running water. A hundred years ago, chances are that wouldn't be possible. And a hundred years from now, it probably won't be possible either. We've hit the sweet spot being born when we were born, and we should count ourselves lucky. We have it so good in the "modernized" world.

But why does that notice on the back of my bill have to be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS? And why can't they call a "late fee" a "late fee"?

About Me

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I am the author of 8 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, Brain Giblets, The Cubicles of Madness, Booze and News, Get Your Zen On, Zen Happens, and most recently, Robot Stories. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at danmanning.com

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