Classic Dishes...

Left Nye And Dry

I haven’t added to this in a while, but the other night I was reminded of a Brush With Fame I had a while back, and it sounded like it would make a neat little piece. So:

Couple years ago a bunch of us were in my car, driving into Seattle (I lived in Bellevue at the time) to catch a Seattle Thunderbirds hockey game. It being Seattle at wintertime, it was a cold rainy night, and this one was particularly stormy.

As I’m getting off of the 520 bridge and preparing for the nasty quick switch across traffic (the arena exit is the very next one, so you get to slide across like six lanes of busy I-5 traffic over a tenth of a mile or so, tops. Fun.), someone sees a guy in a suit standing in the pouring rain next to his clearly diasbled vehicle, and comments “Hey, that looks like Bill Nye, The Science Guy!” We don’t think any more about it, and since faceoff was rapidly approaching, we speed along to the game.

As the game goes on, we’re thinking about it. WAS that Bill Nye, The Science Guy? Naw, couldn’t be. The person who saw him insisted that it looked exactly like him, down to the bow tie. And he _is_ a Seattle local, so it’s not like it’s outside of the realm of possibility.

The next day, we check various and sundry sources, and confirm that the stranded wet motorist was in fact Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

So, long story short, I dissed Bill Nye, The Science Guy, during a moment of automotive distress, in a driving rainstorm, just so I wouldn’t be late to a hockey game. I’m sure there is a special level of Hell waiting for me for that one.

Free Hat

So I’m driving to work this morning, and listening to the radio, as I am wont to do, the program I am listening to is in an ad break, and there are women oohing and aahing over the “free checking” deal their bank is giving them. “How can they do all of this for FREE?” one of them bubbles happily.

Jee-sus. Please tell me the average American isn’t so blind as to how the banking system works. I’m begging you. Lie to me if you have to.

Look, folks: if you are paying any kind of monthly fee whatsoever to a bank for a checking account, you are a DOLT. When you open a checking account, you are essentially letting the bank borrow any money you have in there for as long as you have it in there, for free (in most cases, keep reading), to invest how they see fit, in order to make more money that they get to keep for themselves.

Let me put that another way: I wanna buy some Microsoft stock. So you’re gonna buy it for me, and when the stock goes up, we’ll sell, and you get your money back and I get all of the profits. Sound good? Of course not.

Now, that’s not to say that checking accounts are completely worthless. There is a significant value to having your money represented in a safe computer for instant retrieval rather than keeping a coffee can in your cupboard or stuffing it in your mattress. But, rest assured that the money the bank makes from your free loan more than makes up for whatever it costs them to provide whatever services they provide to you.

“But my bank gives me .25% if I have more than $10,000 in checking!” Ooh! Pinch me! Do you know what kind of RETURN they get from that? They turn that into a 10% or 15% car loan, rest assured, they can afford to give you .25% of that, and it ain’t gonna keep the filet off of their table.

So the next time you’re in a bank opening a new account, and they’re gushing about all of the “free” crap you get, and they kick you that $15 toaster as a “free gift”, remember the $250 KitchenAid mixer you’re putting in the bank executive’s kitchen.


Check this out, particularly the intro:

The 10 Worst Macs Ever Built

Wow. A Mac elitist looking down his nose at other Mac users. Didja know that in the dictionary entry for “Redundant”, it says “See ‘Redundant'”?

Hell Froze Over

I won’t say it, because saying it is the equivalent of walking up to a pissed-off hungry lion, whipping out the private part of your choice, and smacking him across the face with it. So I’ll couch it like this:

Today, Comcast doesn’t suck as much.

Now, I fully realize this can (and probably will) change in the upcoming days. But right now, for once, I’m reasonably gruntled by my Internet provider. (I’m still pissed off over that whole cable thing, though.)

See, today is the day of The Big Switchover, where the absorption of AT&T Broadband by Comcast finally kicked in for the cable modem users, and all of our accounts and associated settings switched over to the Comcast network. And Comcast has been prepping us, harassing users to download this little ticking time bomb that will make the necessary changes in settings for people who phear the Accounts dialogue in Outlook Express, and keeping the information away from those who won’t until today.

Well, this morning, I got the four or five bits of information I needed, reconfigured two of my three computers, and told my DNS provider where to redirect this web site to. And so far, so good. As you can see, the site is up, I’m getting my mail, the forwarding is working well on the old address (and will do so through 2004, I’m told, which is plenty of time to tell all and sundry what my new address is), I can still remote access my home machine from work, and I still have unlimited news service. (I was particularly worried about that last part, but it looks like Comcast is playing it smart and leveraging the assets they got from AT&T. Impressive.) Not bad at all.

And The Four Of You who read this site regularly might notice another little nicety: the ad banners that stunk up the weblog pages are gone! Yep, one of the benefits of this switch is that I can FINALLY publish the weblog directly to the site instead of using Blogger’s hosting service. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great free service and I’m glad they provide it, but when you get web space from your ISP and you’re forced to use something ad-supported ANYHOW ‘cuz someone at the ISP has an irrational hard-on for security, it bugs.) Practical benefit for me: everything in one place, no having to rely on multiple servers. Practical benefit for The Four Of You: the page should load MUCH faster, all of the time.

So while I’m not planning to organize a parade or write a long letter to the Pope, I gotta give ’em props for not making this the horrible pain in the ass they could have.

If they get the cable situation hammered out, I might post that they suck even LESS….

Thanks, Teach

My math teacher my last two years of high school was Wayne Cruzan. Helluva nice guy, he was the kind of teacher who would let you hang out in his classroom during lunch hour (and was cool enough that you wanted to). But he was a great math teacher, too. Gave great notes. You could take a snapshot of the blackboards at the end of the day, and those would be perfectly servicable notes for studying for a test.

I had Mr. Cruzan for Algebra II, and something we called Math Analysis, which was basically a combination of trigonometry and all of the other stuff that doesn’t really fit into algebra or geometry, like sets and sequences and matrices and probabilities and such.

I was just OK at algebra (I’m golden with the basic tenets, but when it comes to trig identities and such, I was too lazy to memorize what needed memorizing, so I skated by with B-‘s), but I was GOOD at Math Analysis. I ended up getting the highest grade in the three Math Analysis classes that year. I even beat out one of the valedictorians. That was satisfying, lemme tell you.

Anyhow, the reason I mention all of this is ‘cuz last night I was talking to someone, and they threw out a probability problem: “You have 11 pennies and 6 quarters in your pocket. You reach into your pocket and pull out a random number of coins. What is the probabilty of those coins totaling 82 cents?”

And immediately my brain started turning. “Okay, the only way to make 82 cents is with seven pennies and three quarters, so first you’d have to pull out ten coins, there’s a 1 in 17 chance of that. 17c10 will tell us how many different sets of 10 we can get, then we need to figure out how many sets of seven pennies there are in 11, and multiply that by the sets of three quarters….”

Anyhow, I won’t bore you with the details. But I was pretty damn surprised to find that 14 years after graduating from high school, I still more or less remembered how to do that problem.

So, Mr. Cruzan, if you’re out there: Thanks.

(If you care, it comes out to (1/17) * ((11c7 * 6c3) / 17c10), which rounds down to 825/41327, or a hair over 1 in 50.)

Stupid’s With Me

My TiVo grabbed the first episode of Comedy Central’s foray into that excretable genre known as “reality television”, I’m With Busey last night. I just watched it now.

The concept is that this kid who claims to be a huge fan of Gary Busey’s writes to him to pitch the idea of this show. He can do that now ‘cuz he’s a comedy writer professionally. (Me, I’m keeping my amateur status for Athens.) And, probably because Busey thought it would be fun and a good opportunity to screw with everyone’s heads, he agrees to hang with this kid and let the cameras follow them around.

Now, if this kid were playing the part of a drooling fanboy, and doing his job, this could be a pretty funny show. Thing is, you can tell right off that he’s a better writer than he is an actor, and he’s NOT playing the part, he REALLY IS a drooling fanboy. And that’s more painful to watch than it is funny, because Busey spends his time generally abusing him. The two have no chemistry at all. The half hour didn’t end soon enough.

Clearly, me and my Tivo need to sit down and have a little talk.

Rooting For The Earthquake

So the Sabercats lost yesterday to the Arizona Rattlers, 66-49. Ah, well. This means the Rattlers will head to Tampa to take on the Storm in ArenaBowl XVII in two weeks. I’ll be rooting for the earthquake.

“Rooting for the earthquake” is one of those concepts in sports that everyone understands, but I don’t think it ever had an official name, until I gave it this one. See, for much of my life (well, until Rupert Murdoch bought the team and basically blew it up), I was a HUGE Los Angeles Dodgers fan. And in 1989, the Oakland A’s (who I had a hatred for ‘cuz the Dodgers had just faced them in the previous year’s World Series, plus I was never a big fan of Jose Canseco) and the San Francisco Giants (who I had a hatred for because they were the San Francisco Giants, and dammit, that’s good enough for a Dodger fan) ended up meeting in October to play in the World Series.

Now, there are times when you don’t particularly care about the two teams playing for a sports championship, but even then you can find a reason to root for one team or the other. But I HATED the A’s and Giants. HATED them. No way in HELL could I throw my support behind either team. The same thing would happen today if, say, the Dallas Stars and the Toronto Maple Leafs were to play for the Stanley Cup. Just disgusting.

So I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if a giant sinkhole opened up underneath the stadium and swallowed up both teams and put an end to this crap all together?”

As you know, at 5:04 P.M. on October 17, 1989, right as Game Three was about to get underway in San Francisco, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck the Loma Prieta area, about 45 minutes south of both teams’ home stadia. The Series was postponed ten days.

I was ecstatic. (My folks tell me I was also in shock, but what the hell.) This was, and is to this day, the closest thing I have ever had to a religious experience, the closest thing I have seen to bona-fide proof of a benevolent God. This was Someone in a Position of Power telling the planet that this World Series was never meant to happen. Tommy Lasorda was right. God, if there is one, is a Dodger fan.

So, long story short, whenever a Super Bowl or Stanley Cup Final or World Series or what have you rolls around, and two teams are playing that I really dislike, I root for the earthquake.


Comcast sucks.

You’ll find this to be a recurring theme here at Chez Fred, as their suckitude (and by extention, the suckitude that existed before they took over AT&T Broadband Internet) is directly visible on this site. Ya see, when I first started up this Blogger thing, my cable modem was handled by @Home. They did right by me, Blogger worked like a champ, and all was well.

Then the whole AT&T / @Home thing went down, AT&T took their customers hostage, and was born. At the same time, talking heads started showing up on my TV screen, assuring me I would enjoy “the same great service from AT&T” that I had with @Home.

Well, if by “the same great service”, they meant “We’re gonna throttle the hell out of your download speeds, raise your rates, and implement totally asinine restrictions on network access, including access to our POP3 server through Hotmail” then they certainly succeeded. Oh, and by the way, they also closed off all access to their Web servers from outside of their network. Which meant that Blogger couldn’t publish to my site anymore. And I have YET to get hold of an egghead at ATTBI who can give me a satisfactory reason for keeping Blogger out. Thanks, guys. ‘Preciate it.

Fortunately, Blogger has a service called BlogSpot for people in my predicament. But unless I pay them money, they slap ad banners at the top of the pages they host. And I wouldn’t have to even host them there if AT&T weren’t such idiots.

Long story short, this is why the blog takes forever to load sometimes, and why there’s an ad banner on top. At least I figured out how to anchor past it.

But this isn’t why I rant about Comcast today.

I have digital cable. I noticed that with Comcast taking over the cable side of things from AT&T as well, that there were new cable packages available. I also knew there was a second tier of digital channels I don’t get, which mostly include 47 different niche Discovery Channels that I could give a rip about, but also include VH1 Classic Rock (said to be excellent for an 80’s music geek like me) and TechTV. And I want these but I couldn’t justify paying another $10 a month for them.

So I call Comcast and ask what’s up. She explains to me that woih the Digital Plus package, I would “basically get every channel but the movie ones like HBO and Showtime.” And it would cost me $2.96 a month more than I’m paying now. Well, hell yeah, sign me up, I say. TechTV, here I come! Woo!

So I get home last night, and plop down in front of the TV to tell my TiVo of the wonderous new programming options it has before it. And lo, there are a lot of new channels out there. And TechTV is still turned off. Well, this must just be a mistake, let’s call the cable company and tell ’em to turn on all of my new channels.

“Ah. Sir, you have the Digital Plus package?” “Yes, that’s correct, just got it today!” “Well, um, TechTV and some other channels aren’t in the Digital Plus package, those are part of the Digital Extra service, and those will cost another $5.95.”

What. The. Fuck.

Digital Plus, Digital Extra, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had an obscure package called Digital Extended Remix With A Twist Of Lime Served Up By A Struggling Gay Waiter, that you had to order to get the 24-hour all-Chihuahua channel.

So we sorted it out, I told them I basically didn’t want anything if they couldn’t give me the channels I wanted in one package, and they set my cable back the way it was.

But still. Digital Extra. And there is NO mention of this on the website, by the way.

Comcast sucks.

Bits And Pieces

So here we are. Sunday night, I should be asleep, but I’m just not tired yet. So, a few thoughts.

I hope the four of you who read this site on a regular basis are enjoying the redesign. I’ve certainly enjoyed putting it together…I think it’s way tidier than any format I’ve had so far, and there’s actually some content here other than The Resume. (Which, ironically, is the only part that still needs redesigned – I want to port it over to the new content style format. Maybe tomorrow.)

Bought me a couple domains over the weekend. First time for me, so there is still a little ego-swell to the whole deal. The one you’ll care about is, which is now the main portal to this site. Finally, no more tildes. For those interested in such things, my registrar is, and the good people at are doing all of the DNS work gratis. (And I’m nobody special – they offer free DNS for up to 5 domains assuming you don’t get truly obscene amounts of traffic, and I never see myself owning more then two or three, and that just for fun stuff anyhow. So unless I put up message boards with wacky Photoshop hacks and turn into another Fark, we should be OK.) It was all working yesterday because GoDaddy was doing the redirection for me, but I found out that ZoneEdit will mask the redirection for free while GoDaddy wants another six bucks for the service, and I think that looks slicker, so I set that up this afternoon, which means we’re gonna need the new nameserver information to propagate. Hopefully tomorrow.

The San Jose Sabercats are now two wins away from repeating as ArenaBowl champions. Next victim: the Arizona Rattlers, this coming Sunday at 2:30 on NBC. Go ‘Cats Go!

Alright, that’s all I have for now. Until Next Time, America…

Lost Time

So we had a fairly major power outage last night. I’m not sure when the power came back on, I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of ten hours all told, based on where my oven clock (the only power-dependent analog clock in the house, welcome to 2003) was was when I woke up and discovered the power was back, and the fact that my TiVo reports it failed to grab Jeopardy for me last night at 7:30.

As a result, I returned home to my apartment complex after a delightful evening with friends to pitch darkness (with workers in front and back working furiously in the rain, Glub bless ’em), and was treated to the unique experience of hoofing up three flights of stairs balancing a couple board games and a dozen Krispy-Kremes. But that’s not what compelled me to write about this.

I woke up this morning, and, having no idea myself and a houseful of clocks blinking “12:00”, I stumbled out to the kitchen to acertain the time situation. My first instinct is to grab the phone and call the Time Lady. The Time Lady rules. She always knows what time it is. So I punch in the numbers. 767-anything else, right? S’what it always was. “Hi, welcome to Qwest Voicemail Services.” WTF?

Okay, traditionally it’s listed in the book as 767-8900. Nope, no go there. How about the traditional POP-CORN? Nope. I called the operator. Wouldn’t put me through due to “increased call volumes.” Um, okay. Called 411, asked for the Time Lady. She put me through to some third-party service that wasn’t no goddamn Time Lady, so I hung up,

Long story short, I live in a place where there is no Time Lady. Or if there still is, for the first time in almost 30 years, I don’t know how to call her.

This is exceptionally disconcerting.