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Archive for the ‘This Happened Today’ Category

…On Identity Theft.

Posted by Steve on May 18, 2009

I’ve never been a victim of identity theft, thankfully. Two of my friends have, and from their experiences I’ve learned that it really, really, really sucks. One of my friends has had the theft going on for years, and even though she’s able to give them the thief’s address (when someone uses your stolen identity to set up utility service at their home, it’s a pretty good bet where you’ll find them) three law enforcement agencies haven’t done anything about it, all claiming it’s outside their jurisdiction.

Well, today the fact that I’ve never been a victim of identity theft didn’t change. Instead, I learned that last year I unknowingly blundered into an identity theft that’s been going on since 2005.

See, ever since I got my new cell phone and number last year, I’ve started getting periodic calls on it that were for someone who isn’t me. Every time, it’s been a recorded message telling some guy (let’s call him Ozzy Freer, based on what his name really is) that it’s urgent he call back “about your account”. I, of course, figured it was something akin to those assholes the FTC’s busting. On a side note, I like to imagine the FTC’s staffed entirely by Robocops and Terminators. Something about sicking remorseless cyborgs on fraudulent advertisers and telemarketers just warms the cockles of my heart.

Anyway, I figured the calls for Mr. Freer were all a telemarketer and ignored them. But then, today, I got a call. A call from an actual human, a human explained that she was very sorry to be calling me, but I wouldn’t happen to know anything about the person who stole her husband’s name and social security number and registered for a phone in his name at my number, would I? When I asked if her husband was me (in hindsight, a very stupid question – I’d know if I were husband, and I’m not. I’m not anybody’s husband – at least, not unless I was married by proxy without my knowledge), she said no, her husband is Ozzy Freer. It appears that there is a real Ozzy Freer, and while he was deployed to Iraq back in 2005, someone stole his identity and got a cell phone in his name – a cell phone with the number that became mine last May. And it appears a collection agency’s been hired to collect several hundred dollars in unpaid bills on that old phone account. Got to say, that’s got to absolutely suck for them. So, I wrote her number down and offered to give her a call the next time I get a voice mail for Ozzy Freer. I figure, it might be a little helpful to them, and it should definitely help me quit getting calls that aren’t for me. About which, you’d think that collection agency would’ve been able to figure out that the phone number belongs to somebody else now.

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…On Coinage.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2009

I have never been to Hungary.

Most people have never been to Hungary, but I have a reason for specifying that I’m one of them. See, I have in my posession a Hungarian “5 FORINT” coin minted in 1972 in the “MAGYAR NÉPKÖZTÁRSASÁG”. Apparently, that means it’s 5 forints, coined in the Hungarian People’s Republic. But again, I’ve never been to Hungary. However, I have paid for things in cash in the United States of America very recently. And strangely enough, while 5 forints are currently worth approximately 2 cents… a 1972 five forint coin is the same size and shape of a United States Quarter Dollar. Which means that this Hungarian coin slipped into circulation in the U.S. somehow, and kept up that way until I glanced at the quarters on my desk and wondered which state decided to put a big “5” on their state quarter. I’ve no doubts at all that if I’d spent this coin, instead of realizing what it was, then the coke machine or the parking meter or the convenience store clerk would’ve accepted it as a quarter and it would have continued masquerading successfully as American money.

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…On How To Immobilize Your Arms For A Day.

Posted by Steve on January 11, 2009

Step 1: Go to the gym Saturday morning. Do lots of weights involving pulling motions, like Preacher Curls, Seated Row, and Reverse Curls.
Step 2: Go the range Saturday evening. Fire 150 rounds with your new 1911 and around 30 or 40 rounds with your buddy’s 9mm Glock.
Step 3: Spend Sunday doing The Robot because your arms won’t straighten.

I suppose, in the interests of honesty, I should admit it’s been… way too many… months since I’d done Step 1, which is probably the bigger cause of the stiffness and soreness in the biceps (and I wasn’t really exaggerating that I couldn’t straighten my arms today – especially not the right arm) than the time at the range. Still.

As for my new gun, I ended up not getting the Taurus 1911-clone I’d been planning on and got a Rock Island Armory M1911A1 instead. I still kind of regret that, since the Taurus would’ve had a few nice features that I’m missing out on: painted dovetail sights, a real nice beavertail, ambidextrous safety. On the other hand, the Rock Island cost me a few hundred less, and my understanding from reading a few 1911-themed webforums is that it’s good value for the money, a high-quality starter gun if you will, and is one of the guns on the market truest to the original design (I suppose that means to the 1924 A1 addition, not the original-original Model 1911, but then the 1924 update only changed external features, which for the most part were minimal and are hard to notice). It came with an aftermarket magazine, so I’ve got an 8+1 instead of a 7+1, but I’m not really going to complain about that. And while I do wish I had night sights and a beavertail, there’s something really nice about using a century-old design. It appeals to me to use a machine that, though built recently (in the Philippines), is true to a design from a hundred years back.

I do have an annoyance with the cost of ammo. Granted, there’s a good reason for the stuff to cost twice as much as 9×19: it’s twice as much bullet (230 grains versus 115 grains), but the best price I’ve been able to find is still $0.30 a round for FMJ. As my friend can get 9×19 for around $0.20 a round… he gets 50% more rounds per dollar.

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…On Mentos.

Posted by Steve on December 18, 2008

While I can’t say that I’ve consumed enough Mentos products to have an opinion on them – or, for that matter, to have a firm understanding of whether they’re gum, breath mints, or just plain candy – I can say that (jingle aside) I like the consistent theme of their ads: with a pinch of audacity and a heaping of quick wits, you can get out of a jam by thinking of a clever solution.

Well, the other night (Tuesday) I was at a restaurant because I could get free food there. The waitresses were all wearing what I guess is best referred to as “Christmas Flair”. One had a reindeer-antler headband (Reindeers are actually domesticated Caribous), another had a snowman scarf on, etc. Well, one had apparently forgotten her flair that night. What did this clever woman do? She raided the restaurant’s decor, taking two small ornaments off of the Christmas tree and replacing her earrings with them. It made me smile.

And, it made me think of Mentos ads.

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…On Going to the Gun Show

Posted by Steve on October 12, 2008

I went, today, for a little while to a gun show. Not with any intent to buy – and as it turns out, I couldn’t have bought one, since I only brought one form of ID and two are required – but more to browse where hopefully there’d be someone more helpful and informative than at the local stores that sell guns. As it turns out, I succeeded in that, and so now I’m saving up for what will likely be a Taurus 1911. So yay, and thanks to the helpful people at D & J Gun Repair.

Of course, what I really wanted was the mortar that somebody was selling. But then, I don’t have $1300 to spend on a 3-inch mortar, and even if I did… what would I do with a 3″ mortar? Get myself in trouble, that’s what. Ditto the swords: while a gun is going to be practical, allowing me to shoot back and people who are going to be shooting at me, I can’t justify the expense of a working sword (as opposed to a for-home-decoration-only sword-shaped thing) and wouldn’t know how to use one properly even if I did get it.

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…On Chili!

Posted by Steve on October 11, 2008

This week is Fleet Week, and the events included a Chili Cook-off by local units. So, a friend from work and I went down there and sampled a good 20 or so chilis for awhile. We also tried a Bhut Jolokia pepper, courtesy of the local Pepper Lover’s Club. Apparently, this is the world’s hottest pepper. Apparently, it had been boiled for 15 minutes in order to reduce the heat. Apparently, the club members eat slivers about the size of a fingernail clipping – or smaller. Without a doubt, it was a painful burning in my mouth – but it’s a smooth burn, one that comes slowly and gently. The first 15-20 seconds are actually very pleasant. It’s the next 10 or 15 minutes that are… youch. Burning!

Anyway, the chilis… many of them would’ve benefited from the input of the Pepper Lover’s Club (they also had raw Serrano, Red Savina Habanero, “Chocolate Habanero”, and, some tiny little round red one I think the guy called “whee-whee”). The overwhelming favor, for most of them, was that of tomato soup. A few others, had, in the words of my friend Jeff when describing my own chili at a cookoff two years ago, the problem that “all I can taste is meat.” So, yes, a great many annoyingly bland chilis.

That’s not to say they were all bad. Actually, the USS Fort McHenry was represented by a very nicely flavored green chili, and the USS Donald Cook had an excellent three-meat chili (actually, more like a stew than what I typically think of as chili, but it was excellent) that I kept going back for more of. They used ground pork – which amazed me, because I’ve done chili with ground pork before, and that’s where I get the worst cases of “just tastes like greasy meat” – seared chuck steak and everybody’s favorite, BISON!. There was also a chili with gator in it, which was interesting. I can’t remember which unit had made that, I just remember the chili next to them was the one from VFA-81.

Anyway, a chili cook-off, always great fun. And I didn’t stay around until the end (it wasn’t scheduled to end until 5, but when I left at 3:30ish many of the 28-30 chilis there had already run out) so I don’t know who the official winner was/is/will be. I will say this: in my opinion, the USS Donald Cook ( DDG-75) has the best chili in the fleet.

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…On Bread.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2008

Several years ago, at my apartment in Tennessee, I made a startling and unnerving discovery: bread left in my cabinets for several months wasn’t molding. In fact, several partial loaves of bread left in my cabinet didn’t mold over a period of months in which I kept forgetting I already had bread and buying new bread. When I finally took all the bread out of my cabinet, I had parts of I think 5 loaves, some 3 months old, and no mold.

Well, last night, a loaf of generic supermarket-brand bread from the same chain turned out to be moldy after only two weeks. So I can now say with confidence that Kroger-brand bread is not so chock full of preservatives that it’ll never mold.

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…On Hanna.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2008

It’s hard for me to believe that the minor annoyance that blew through here this morning was the same storm that killed over 500 people in Haiti. That’s especially true since the deaths in Haiti were primarily due to flooding, and asides from some rain yesterday afternoon and early last night, there was no noticeable precipitation here. Some gusty wind, but no flood-inducing rain. I guess that’s the difference between a Tropical Storm that’s actually in the tropics and a Tropical Storm that’s in a temperate zone.

Anyway, the last Hurricane Hanna there’ll ever be (the name’s a lock for retirement… and why only one H?) had minimal impact here in Hampton Roads.

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…On Observations at a Bar/Club Place

Posted by Steve on August 23, 2008

Last night, I went out with some folks, first to a bar and then to a place that was a bit odd: tucked away beside the marina of a gated community, next to a yacht club (!?!), it was a combination bar and club, with a dance floor and a band that played a pretty tight cover of Sweet Child O’Mine. My goals were accomplished: I did not spend the night alone at home playing video games, and the night went as expected: I ended up alone at a packed Wa-Ho at 3 AM, where I further contributed to my obesity with a delicious double-waffle, a delicious double order of scattered & smothered, and a sausage melt that made me decide to stick with sausage-egg-and-cheese sandwiches henceforth.

At that second joint I soon after my arrival spotted two women near the font of the dance floor, making out. “I wonder,” I thought in a charitable moment, “if they’re really together. I hope so.” And wanting it to be so, I decided that it was so. “I’m glad they feel comfortable enough to be so open about it.” That lasted all of perhaps five seconds before I realized how ridiculously naive I was being. “Dipshit,” I thought to myself, “that’s a load of crap. It’s just two drunk straight sluts making out to get men’s attention.”

Some time later, after drinking Red Bull through a straw (the bartender gave me a straw, and with the resources already wasted it seemed pointless not to put it to its intended use) and politely but firmly telling the tequila-promotion women who were there that no, I did not want to be airbrushed with a temporary Jose Cuervo tattoo, I again noticed those two women, still together, and seemingly paying no attention to anyone else. “Huh. Maybe they really are with each other,” I thought, reconsidering. Perhaps I’d been too hasty. Perhaps these two women were special, different from the other pairs and trios I had seen kissing and rubbing each other for brief moments before throwing themselves back into kissing and rubbing upon men. Perhaps these really were the wholesome, heart-warming, life-affirming honesty of Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed A Girl” and not the exploitative, objectifying, collaborationist cultural appropriation of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl. (Let me add, as a side note, that Sobule’s song is by far the more likable, even setting aside the advantage its laudatory lyrical and thematic content gives it over the other’s loathsome lyrical and thematic content, given its catchy up-beat melody as opposed to the simple droning of Perry’s song.)

Shortly before last call, I was able to reach a conclusion about those two when they at last broke apart and each went their separate ways… with a man. About that time, though, one of the people I’d gone there with walked up, disappointed by being shot down by a woman he’d had his eye on all the night. “She’s with another girl,” he told me, pointing. “That big Latina over there. Her girlfriend.” And being who I am, now I can’t help but wonder if she really was a lesbian (or bisexual) and that really was her girlfriend… or if she was just making up an excuse to dismiss some jerk she wasn’t interested in. I know which one I’d prefer were fact, but I suspect it isn’t.

At this same place, I observed a brief incident of punches being thrown, men being restrained, and one or two people getting forcibly ejected. During this, one bystander decided to get involved by sucker-punching twice one of the main participants. When pressed as to why he did this, I’m informed (I did not actually witness this part) his answer was to the effect of, “I donno, I just felt like it.”

That’s something I can’t understand. I recall once speaking with someone who said he and his friends would routinely have fistfights over disagreements, with unspoken agreements regarding when the fight would stop, and what sort of blows weren’t allowed. Again, I can’t understand. In my mind, the goal of fighting someone is to incapacitate, cripple, or kill them. So the only reason to fight someone has to be a reason to deliberately incapacitate, cripple, or kill them. Which means when you fight someone, there’s no such thing as “dirty”, there’s only efficient and inefficient, effective and ineffective. “Dirty” – say, a blow to the crotch or an eye-gouging – can be very efficient and effective. As such, in my mind, it’s to be encouraged during a fight – but only because “I donno, I just felt like it” isn’t a reason for fighting. Real-life fights aren’t boxing or wrestling or MMA – sports with rules and competition, where safety is a concern and causing injury something to prevented. They’re purpose-driven efforts to deliberately destroy someone’s body, where the target’s safety is antithetical to the goal and causing injury is an objective. In a real fight, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you win or die.

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…On Who “Rollins” Is

Posted by Steve on July 31, 2008

CNN.com’s frontpage has a link to an article identifying it as commentary from “Rollins”. So, I clicked it since commentary from Rollins, whether I agree with it or not, is always entertaining to read. Except this was by some guy named Ed Rollins who I’d never heard of. I’d thought it was going to be Henry Rollins giving the commentary!

And now, I go to work.

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