Classic Dishes...

PostScript: Printer

Bear with me on this one, folks, I want to make sure my Google ranking on this post is good and high.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

So, Thursday night, I’m going to print something out on my printer recently unclogged by proximity…and I get more streaks. Dammit.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

So it’s time to bring out the cleaning fluid I purchased from Followed all of the directions, and….nothing. Printer is no longer a going concern.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

Let me just say that I don’t blame the Laser Service folks in the least, which is why I still link them above. Their fluid clearly works…I got some ink on my fingers in the process of all of this cleaning, and out of curiosity I put a little of the fluid on a paper towel, and it does indeed break it down and clean it right off, better than rubbing alcohol, even. Their stuff works. It’s just that Epson makes a crappy printer with an ink formulation prone to clogging, and once it does, you’re screwed. The days of Epson being a brand known for quality products are over.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

And so (Epson sucks) it is with great optimism (Epson sucks) that I shall spend today deciding (Epson sucks) between two Canon’s: the PIXMA MP510 and (Epson sucks) the PIXMA MP600. I also shall not (Epson sucks) be recommending (Epson sucks) an Epson printer (Epson sucks) ever again. They’ve (Epson sucks) made (Epson sucks) a (Epson sucks) sworn (Epson sucks) enemy.

Oh, and Epson sucks.

POSTSCRIPT REDUX: I splurged and went with the PIXMA MP600. Bigger display, and better and more conveniently located controls; it should be here this coming week. I’m excited. And Epson still sucks.

Printer Repair Made Easy….REALLY Easy

The weekend before this last one, I was poking around on Amazon, picking up a couple of things with a gift certificate I received as a Christmas gift. I finished my purchase, and, because I’m anal like that, went to print my usual invoice so I can reconcile my credit card account at the end of the month.

The printer, as it is wont to do (and as I was expecting to happen fairly soon) informs me that the Yellow cartridge has kicked and needs replacing. So I do so, and it goes back to work.

And the page comes out streaked. Uh-oh.

Now, I’m fairly confident when it comes to computer hardware. I roll up my sleeves, dive in, and eventually it gets fixed. But printers I am UTTERLY clueless about, and that’s kinda how I like it. They’re a pain in the ass.

However, there are at least a couple things I do know how to do: I print out a nozzle check, and lo and behold, several of them aren’t producing anything. Initiate head cleaning subroutine, lather, rinse, repeat, exact same nozzle pattern. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a clog.

The irony here kicks in on a couple of levels. On the top, we have the printer itself, an Epson CX6400. I bought Epson mainly because I was tired of replacing the all-in-one color cartridge on my old HP DeskJet 660C warhorse just because the yellow or magenta wore out, knowing that I was tossing away perfectly good cyan ink. So I wanted a printer that used discrete color carts. I also wanted a scanner and a memory card reader, and the CX6400 has all of that in one box.

The one thing that the HP had going for it, however, was that the print head was contained in the ink cartridge. So if it clogs, you chuck it, put in a new cart, and boom, new print head. With an individual ink-tank printer, if it clogs, you have to deal with it. Clogging is about the one thing that can screw you, in fact.

So, yeah, ironic.

Then, on the deeper level, in researching this whole thing, I discover that the CX6400 (and indeed any printer that uses Epson DuraBrite ink) is infamous for developing clogs after a couple years, because of the formulation of the ink, and because of this the DuraBrite printers are pretty much considered the scourge of Epson’s product line.

I bought this printer Christmas of 2004, and put in into service a week later. So I’ve had the printer exactly 2 years.

So, yeah, ironic.

Anyhow, when a friend of mine had a similar problem with her Epson, I did a little Googling and found, which gives advice for dealing with this sort of thing, in the name of getting you to buy their materials to fix it with. So, figuring I should follow my own advice, I order up some Head Cleaning Solution Plus, and figure out how to get through the week without printing anything. I don’t have high hopes for it, but after a couple days I make peace with the whole situation, figuring that if I DO have to replace the thing (and it kills me that tossing out what is otherwise a functional printer and STILL a fully-functioning memory card reader and scanner is actually cheaper than replacing the dead print head), I can get one that, well, isn’t universally hated.

I found that I print up a lot more over the course of a week than I thought.

Now, I don’t want the ink backing up too much (I figure I have enough problems), and running head cleanings and nozzle checks use ink, so I tried to leave it alone while I waited for the Magic Solvent to arrive. But, after a couple of days, curiosity got the better of me, and I ran another nozzle check. And it’s still not clean, but it’s a TEENY bit better than it was. But it’s still consistent, so I figure there’s still some clogging problems.

Finally, Friday, the stuff arrives: a little bottle of Magic Solvent, about an inch of surgical tubing, and a small syringe. I’m not really home for any length of time until Sunday, so printer servicing is going to have to wait until then.

Sunday morning comes, and I take a deep breath and head out to the living room to begin the surgery. Before I do so, though, I want to print out a receipt for something else I bought online, and I figure if it’s streaky, what the hell, I’ll just deal with it; I’m gonna chuck it when the credit card statement comes anyhow.

It prints flawlessly.

I do a double-take, and print up a nozzle check.

Perfect. Not one empty spot on it. Not one.

So, I have to offer up full kudos to the gang at Laser Service, proprietors of, for producing what is to the best of my knowledge the first effective print head cleaning solution that not only works as advertised, but doesn’t even have to be APPLIED TO THE PRINTER.

At Least I Have Chicken

As I’d mentioned before, last week I was back in California, visiting the ‘rents and taking in the San Jose Sharks‘ first two games of the season. And while I did wax poetic (if briefly) about the best burrito in the world, I’m sure you were hoping I would bring back a truly wacky food story. Well, I’d hate to disappoint, so:

I landed in San Jose on Sunday afternoon, got my rental car, and drove up to Fremont to have dinner with a friend. On the way to this delicious little Chinese cafe in Union City, we passed by this odd little place in a stripmall called Jollibee. I found it curious; it was a chain I’d never heard of before.

After dinner, driving back, we pass by it again, and I ask my dining companion what the heck Jollibee is. And she can’t really tell me, aside from the news that they have “a really weird menu…you can order burgers, but you can also order chicken and spaghetti.” I nod my head, making a mental note to look it up online when I got home, and then promptly forgetting said note. (This is why I carry a PDA. Which I’d also forgotten to make a note in.)

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, and I’m in San Jose, where I would spend the rest of my trip, getting some cash out of the ATM at my bank. And in driving away, I see another Jollibee. Now I’m doubly curious, and I make a note to Google this when I get to the motel I’d booked with the complimentary wireless Internet.

And the wireless Internet at the motel is down, won’t give me an IP address, and would not work the whole three days I was there. (That’s the fabulous Vagabond Inn, screwing travellers out of advertised ameneties since 1958. Don’t go there.)

So I’m left curious. And now we get to Saturday, and I have a jonesing for Wienerschnitzel, because it’s something I can’t get in Washington. So down we head to Tully Road, and I discover that my Wienerschnitzel has turned into a Hawaiian BBQ. (And I think we all know how painful that can be.) So I get a bright idea: there’s this funky place I keep seeing called Jollibee, all I’ve been told is that the menu is weird, but there must be something edible on it, it’s just down the road, so let’s go there! My companion agrees, and off we go.

You’ll note I haven’t linked to the restaurant’s Web site yet, mainly because I wanted to set up the story and have The Four Of You experience it just as I did, when I first walked in. As it happens, Jollibee is the most popular fast food restaurant in the Philippines, and now you can see what I did…a menu consisting of burgers, fried chicken, a hot dog, spaghetti, a mound of rice, hamburger patties, and gravy not that far afield from what the Hawaiians call locomoco, and something called palabok, which from the picture on the menu (and please remember that this is the picture taken specifically to make me want to eat it) looked not at all unlike what would happen if someone ate ground beef, hard-cooked eggs, and shrimp, and then puked it up onto a pile of rice noodles.

Esoteric enough, right? Well, now we get to the item names: Yumburgers. Jolly Spaghetti. Palabok Fiesta. The Jolly Hotdog. Burger Steak. And, finally, the name that is haunting me to this day…”Chickenjoy”. But I’ll get to that later.

So we order our food, first my dining companion, and then myself. She goes for a Yumburger and fries, and I opt for the Burger Steak, since I had locomoco on the brain since seeing the Hawaiian place. It is delivered to me on the ubiquitous orange fast food tray, and off I go into the dining area.

Upon arrival, my companion alerts me to the yellow Wet Floor sign that we’ve all seen a million times. And I am indeed mindful, and yet the second my feet hit that section of the tile floor, they fly out from under me and I’m on the ground.

Miraculously, I have managed to do all of this without spilling either my Burger Steak or my drink, and I’ve hurt nothing but my pride, but approximately 47 people are there to help me up at this point, despite all attempts on my part to wave them off and reassure them that I was fine…

…and apparently each and every one of those 47 people decide they need to stop by our table while we’re attempting to enjoy our lunch to reconfirm that I am in fact unharmed. In the meantime, I’m looking for a nearby hole to crawl into. I realize now that they’re all petrified that I’m going to sue them…

…and this suspicion is confirmed when the manager shows up with a clipboard, upon which is what must have been a hastily-written and no-way-in-nine-blue-hells-legally-binding release. At first I balk at signing it, irritated at the constant badgering, but then decide that I’d like very much for them to go away and let us finish our lunch, and since I had no intention of pursuing any legal action anyhow, scrawled my name and handed it back.

(Upon retrospect, I realize two things: 1) They had no idea who I was. I could have signed “Fred Smythe”, “Dick Hertz”, or taken some inspiration from our good friend “Mike Litoris“, and they would have been none the wiser. And, 2) I shouldn’t have signed it. They were saying that if I didn’t they would insist on taking me to the hospital, but short of sending out half of the WWE’s tag-team division, they weren’t making me go anywhere that I didn’t want to, and if they did, that would have been the makings of a fine lawsuit unto itself. But I didn’t want to embarrass my companion by making a scene, so no harm, no foul.)

Anyhow, back to our meal, which I think we’re going to be able to finish in peace. But here comes the manager again, and now she wants to give us free food to take with us. Specifically, she wants us to try the “Chickenjoy” and hopefully spread the good word about their restaurant. (I’m guessing she didn’t realize that ship had already sailed when she shoved the pen under my nose in the midst of a forkful of Burger Steak.) And I reassure her that everything is fine and we’d just like to finish our lunch and be on our way, but she’s having none of it.

And that’s how it came to pass that we had two pieces of Original and two pieces of Spicy Chickenjoy in the fridge back at the motel later that day, some of which was consumed the following morning while we were getting our things together to check out.

It wasn’t bad.

Game Over

I’m in California this week, visiting my parents for a few days, then spending the latter part of the week in San Jose for the Sharks’ first two home games, before I fly back home on Sunday.

Well, today, because I haven’t had a good proper burrito in far too long, I went to one of my old haunts, Papa Chano’s, for lunch. (And, damn. You folks back in Seattle who always listen to me complain about Taco Del Mar are gonna get it with both barrels when I get home; I’d forgotten how good a Mission-style burrito is SUPPOSED to be. It was magical.)

After lunch, I went driving around town a little bit, partially because I needed to run my auto insurance card to Mom at work so she could photocopy it for some reason or another, and partially because I was interested in seeing how Monterey had changed in the three years since I’d been here. (And, really, the last trip home doesn’t count, either…I was sick as a dog and didn’t do much exploring.)

And I discovered that Edgewater Packing Company was no more.

Colloquially known simply as “The Carousel” because of the 1908 merry-go-round that was its centerpiece, I had first heard about Edgewater at the tender age of eight years old, when I was taken to watch a family friend play in a Little League game. An older friend spoke of this wondrous place that had this ginormous carousel, a huge video game arcade, and an ice cream parlor, all in one incredible building on Cannery Row. I was wide-eyed. This news was the closest I’d ever come to believing in a benevolent God. This was a place I HAD to go to.

And so I pestered my parents relentlessly to take me to this ethereal paradise, and finally, one weekend (it had to have been a weekend, as we went at night), my parents took me there. And it was EVERY bit as amazing as I had been told. I rode the merry-go-round, and ate ice cream, and played video games and air hockey and skee-ball, and we took home a giant box of caramel corn from the candy shop inside. There was a toy store upstairs, with a kid-sized entrance that looked like you were walking into the mouth of a lion. There was a MAGIC SHOP upstairs. It was the best thing EVER, and it was truly the start of my video gaming hobby.

Over the next, oh, 20 or so years, I would go back there. A lot. Almost every weekend through most of the rest of elementary and middle school, then later in high school, and even into college. I would be taken again by the folks, then I would ride my bike down there, then Mom would drop me off and I would have to remember to save back a dime to call for a ride home on the pay phone. Then, my friends got cars, and would drive us down there. Then _I_ got a car and would drive myself. Sometimes I would be there just to play games, sometimes I had business at the magic shop or the comic book shop inside (that pretty much covers middle school), but no matter how old I was, no matter where I was in life, I always had a reason to go to Edgewater.

Over the course of my life in Monterey, four arcades had come and gone; Electric Light Arcade, the game room at Weird Harold’s Sandwich Shoppe, and Time Out all had their little runs, but Edgewater Packing Company was first, and it was last.

And now it’s gone.

I did some digging to see if I could find out exactly when it closed up shop (Mom couldn’t remember), and I never was able to. I did find out that apparently some developer wants to turn the building into an IMAX theater. Which is all fine and good, but you can’t play Paperboy, or Cyberball, or Star Wars, or Tapper, or any of an entire GENERATION of pinball machines, at an IMAX theater.

Wikipedia has an article on That’s The Question, a game show on GSN that to date has aired exactly two episodes. It does not have one on Edgewater Packing Company.

And if you ever need proof that there ISN’T a benevolent God, there you have it.

Missed It Byyyy……About 1,000 Miles

Strange lunchtime experience today.

I’m driving over to the steam-table Chinese place I frequent to get some food, and I’m totally on autopilot. I park, get out of the car, and walk inside…

…to find myself spang in the middle of what is now a teriyaki joint. I literally had to consciously stop the two-item-combo order from tumbling out of my mouth anyhow.

Apparently they dropped their franchise (the Chinese place was a chain) and decided to go All Japanese, All The Time. Mind, all of the decoration and what not from the previous place was there, but the steam tables and the menu were now changed.

So, teriyaki, what the hell, fine. And I get outside, and turn around, to discover that the logo on the door and the main sign over the place had in fact been replaced by two large signs reading “TERIYAKI”. So I suppose I had fair warning, had I not been lost in my own little dreamworld.

Like I said, strange.

Hey, look…NASCAR!

Just a quick observation on a Sunday night: Once you have a high-definition television, it’s amazing the utter crap you will watch just because it’s in hi-def.

I’m hoping it passes.


At noon I went out to get some Chinese food for lunch, and on the way back I drove past the Metro Cinemas here in the University District. And on the marquee, they proudly crow:

Now Serving Popped Corn!

Thank Gawd for that. I wonder if they got one too many dental bills.


There is one comforting thing when you are lying in bed and three stories below, someone’s car alarm is blaring.

When you don’t have a car alarm, you know it isn’t yours.

This Is Not The Cancellation You’re Looking For

Courtesy of One Of The Four David Zinkin, the following tidbit regarding Our Very Favorite Online Service Evar:

Dude gets ‘Tude while trying to cancel AOL

Frankly, Vincent was far too generous. I would have been demanding a supervisor the very second the guy said anything other than “Yes, sir” once I had satisfied the security authorization questions. Having worked in this industry, I know how to make things happen and have no tolerance for crap like this.

Actually, something similar happened when I bought my first laptop: Best Buy was trying to sell me the standard litany of extended warranties and the like, but because I financed it through a newly-acquired Best Buy credit card, I got a couple extra ones. And when I said, no, I didn’t want the service they were hawking, the guy actually said “May I ask why not?” And (much to my credit, because this NEVER happens, I’m usually too flabbergasted at the breach in courtesy to think clearly enough to do it), I simply looked at him calmly and said “No.”

Then he did it AGAIN. Some other thing where the minimum payment is guaranteed if I lose my job and can’t make the payment or some crap. Nope, don’t want that. “May I ask why not?” This time, he got the Icy Stare Of Ask Me That One More Time And You’re Going Home Tonight Sans Testicles, and a way-more-definite “NO.”

Either he got the picture or ran out of services to shill, because he did not try a third time.

Sad thing is, I know for a fact that there are enough technophobes, elderly people, and just plain morons out there that this tactic works more often than not, so I don’t see it stopping. However (and this is the point that I hope to get across to The Four Of You), I do feel that my obligation to any kind of social courtesy during a business transaction like this comes to an abrupt end the second a breach likes this takes place, and I have no problem with and no regrets after playing the Asshole Card just as soon as they do.


My new (well, it’s been two months now, so I suppose it’s not all THAT new) work schedule has me rolling out of bed a little before six A.M. each weekday morning. Those of you who have known me for any length of time know that for me this is as natural of an act as breathing. That is, if I were breathing CHLORINE GAS.

Ahem. Anyhow.

So this morning, mostly because the season finale of Lost was on last night and it was a two-hour job, I was particularly dead to the world. And when that happens, my savior is a Venti Mocha Frappuccino from Ye Olde Starbucks, picked up via the drive-thru on the way to work. This is a function of Seattle; I was never a coffee drinker before I moved here, but when you live in a city that has coffee stands every 37 feet, you’re pretty much forced to develop a taste for it.

Here’s how the scene usually plays out:

<Fred drives up to the speaker.>

Way-Too-Cheerful Barista Girl
: “Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get started for you this morning?”

Fred <sleepily>: “I’ll have a Venti Mocha Frappuccino, please.”

WTCBG: “One Venti Mocha Frappuccino! I’ll have that for you at the window!”

<Fred drives forward.>

Admittedly, it’s a spendy habit, so I try to limit this remedy for truly desperate times; no more than once or twice a week.

Nevertheless, this morning’s transaction:

<Fred drives up to the speaker.>

WTCBG: “Welcome to Starbucks! Would you like a Venti Mocha Frappuccino?”

The moment was not unlike the one experienced at the end of a really good card trick, when the magician reaches over and pulls the Three of Clubs out of your bowl of chili.

This is what it’s come to: I now have a “usual” at a coffee place.