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  • Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE121)
    Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE121)
    Seagate

    You can make a Thunderbolt adapter for your RED SSD Reader with this!

  • Lucky Peach Issue 3
    Lucky Peach Issue 3
    McSweeney's Insatiables

    This is a foodie magazine beyond compare! Current Issues are under $10, issue #1 is over $185 today!

  • On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
    On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
    by Harold McGee
  • Bongo Ties ~ 10 Pack
    Bongo Ties ~ 10 Pack
    Bongo

    Bongo Ties - What would I do without them!

  • Delkin Devices DDSS-SCOPE2 Complete Digital SLR SensorScope Cleaning System
    Delkin Devices DDSS-SCOPE2 Complete Digital SLR SensorScope Cleaning System
    Delkin
  • Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso - w/zippered nylon tote bag
    Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso - w/zippered nylon tote bag
    Aerobie

    This is an awesome little coffee maker, the best, least bitter coffee I have ever made!

  • Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto
    Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto
    by Michael Ruhlman

    See my post in the Food blog, if I was going to recomend one book for a cook who wants to improve, this would be it!

  • The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
    The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
    by Timothy Ferriss

    A very sensible guide to eating that doesn't feel like a diet and provides results!

AKS - All Kinds of Stuff.

Here are some subjects that are not easily catagorized.

Wednesday
Jan232013

Verizon Wireless

I have had a Verizon account for many years. At one time that was 3 cell phones and 1 internet account. After many years of happy service I had a really bad Verizon Store experience. I lost a phone temporarily, I needed to get a new phone but they insisted that I wait in a long line of customer service even though they insisted that I had to pay full price for a new phone. I went to a friend’s business so I could call Verizon support and they said I should go back to the store and talk to the manager and have that person call them. I was was such a valued customer that they would make sure I was taken care of. So I went back to the store and asked for the manager and I waited for 45 minutes and nobody ever approached me and I went to AT&T and ported my numbers over. 

So my last remaining line after about 15 years of being an Airtouch/Verizon customer was my MiFi card account. That was the only part of my account that I did not switch over to ATT. In late 2011 I had mis-placed my MiFi card and I talked to a nice lady on Verizon phone customer support and she said that I could suspend my account until I wanted to re-install it it would not shorten my contract just add time on from when I re-instated it.

When I called Verizon after finding my card I realized that they had charged me more than a month’s worth or service. When I called Verizon while in Massachusetts, the lady told me I choose a different suspension plan that wasn’t dependent on my re-instating it. I told her what I was told but she insisted that was not the path I had chosen. I got really worked up, and said that I only knew what I had been told previously. She insisted on this point that I chosen. In her opinion I choose a version of suspension that I did not know existed. My lack of customer service knowledge meant that I should know things I was not told. And for that I said thatI would cancel my service when my contract was done. They totally pissed me off. You have a great conversation with support and then the next person argues that you did not have that conversation. How can a customer rely on set of rules that they were told and yet be held accountable for stuff they never heard. I don’t know what buttons they are selecting! So frustrating!

Fast forward a year or more, I am out of contract and I realize that my Mifi card has no battery left, and I am not using it. I call and cancel my service and the gal tells me I am paid up and since I am paying a month in advance and I don’t owe any more. So today I get a call from Verizon Collections and a letter from them saying I still owe for a month. Jerks. They always say one thing on the phone and something else later. Everyone always talks about how bad AT&T is but I have way better experience with ATT over Verizon. Once again I have a conversation which Verizon Support which is contradicted. I am once again told one thing and I am hearing something else. I will pay them the $55 bucks but I will never ever deal with Verizon again they are very stupid when it comes to customer service. 

Why after years of being a customer they send me an email at the end of 2012 asking how they can get my business back and then try to charge me for the next month that I had no service. Verizon-  is a team of idiots.

Thursday
Dec202012

Calm People

I just saw the “Escape From New York” episode of NatGeo’s Doomsday Preppers. I have to say that this was a very balanced view of prepping and bugging out. As I mentioned in my last post I thought this show was overly dramatic. Not this episode. I actually learned some things from the professional coaches that these 3 New Yorkers had. These were just 3 normal people that wanted to figure out how to get out of Dodge (as they say), and got some help from some pros on how to do it. Kudos to the producers of this show for giving a balanced view of how to prepare for an emergency. These were calm normal people for a change.

Friday
Dec142012

Prepping is Like Camping

Like a lot of people I have been watching NatGeo’s “Doomsday Peppers”  it is a pretty interesting show for a variety of reasons.

• This subject should be discussed. Especially in light of Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, and lots of power outages during winter weather over the years. Having supplies to take care of yourself and your family in an emergency makes sense.

• Another interesting part of this show is that the people they select seem overly paranoid. Maybe the producers are editing the footage to accentuate that aspect. A lot of these people are very dramatic. You’ve got to love reality television. Tell someone that a camera is coming to their house, and they get all excited about all the stuff they have been doing and get real intense about it. It would be nice to see some calm people on the show. It is almost like they are making light of their subjects in the way it is put together. Of course some people don’t need any help in looking foolish when they aren’t used to being on camera. I thought the Orthodox Rabbi raising rabbits for food in the back yard was odd. Really? Why not chickens? At least they are kosher. The guys who raise fish in their back yards seemed pretty normal though.

• At the end of the segments they always give stats about the odds of the Prepper’s worst fears coming true. Usually the odds are quite high against the particular incident happening in the near future. Examples like the Yellowstone Caldera supervolcano exploding. Just because Yellowstone has produced three very large eruptions over the last 2.2 million years doesn’t mean that you should expect another eruption. This particular case will probably be an extinction event anyway. Or the magnetic pole shifts. Most reversals are estimated to take between 1,000 and 10,000 years in duration, not days. The latest one, occurred 780,000 years ago.

But what about smaller natural disasters that happen with frequency that we experience several times in a decade?

Something that I have thought about since watching this NatGeo show, is a program that KCET Los Angeles (former PBS station) produced called  “Surviving the Big One: An Earthquake Survival Guide”.

It was presented by some L.A. Firefighters. It was a extremely thorough look at how to survive and prepare for a big quake in California. Unfortunately you can’t find out much about it online beside the link I attached to the title above. I wish they would put this up on YouTube as it was a good resource for an area that needs it. I watched it several times when I moved to L.A. in the early 90’s.

 

EDIT: After writing this I tried Bing instead of Google and it led me to a copy of this show on Amazon, it is VHS (I don’t have a VHS machine anymore). Amazon only showed one copy when I bought it.

AMAZON: “Surviving the Big One: An Earthquake Survival Guide” VHS (1989)

The Northridge Earthquake. I moved back to Phoenix from Van Nuys in late 1992 (about 10 miles from the epicenter), about a year before this devastating earthquake. Even when I went back to the San Fernando Valley to visit months after the quake, the destruction was everywhere. Property values plummeted, and many moved out of the state. Here are some facts I found on Snopes.com.

“On 17 January 1994, Los Angeles area residents were shaken awake at 4:31 A.M. by the seismic event that would come to be known as the Northridge quake. In the usual way of earthquakes, those few seconds of violent shaking took a terrible toll.  The quake killed 57 people,injured another 9,000, and caused property damage in the $13-$15 billion range. It closed seven freeway sites and two hospitals, and left 150,000 people without water, 40,000 without natural gas, and 25,000 without homes.”

California and the entire West Coast of the U.S. is a very active seismic zone, all the way up to Alaska. The whole Pacific Rim is known as “The Ring of Fire” . So in light of what can and has happened, where I live, this is a real threat. 150,000 people without water, 25,000 people homeless! It has been 18 years since Northridge. Maybe that is why I don’t notice people talking about Earthquake preparedness lately. KCET used to run the “Surviving the Big One” program on a regular basis. Haven’t seen anything like that docu in recent years. Before the Northridge quake there was the 1989 San Francisco quake during the World Series. “The quake killed 63 people throughout northern California, injured 3,757 and left some 3,000–12,000 people homeless”. This quake was probably the reason the KCET documentary was made. 

Consider the recent Japan 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami, and the devastation there. “On 12 September 2012, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,870 deaths, 6,114 injured, and 2,814 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 254,204 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 691,766 buildings partially damaged. Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.” Then there is the level 7 nuclear meltdown of 3 reactors from the Tsunami damage of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

We need to talk about earthquake preparedness. 

There are different natural disasters in regions of our country that need to be prepped for. Twisters in the Plains, Hurricanes in the Eastern Seaboard, blizzards in the North. Earthquakes in the Pacific is our ongoing danger.

When I think about it, Prepping is a lot like camping. You are going to be someplace (home maybe) without the conveniences of civilisation for a while - what do you need to make your life comfortable, or a least liveable? I don’t mean go nuts stocking up a years supplies, but at least a minimum of what you need to survive long enough in an emergency until order and services are restored. Or a plan to move out of where you are to somewhere safe.

I have to say if it wasn’t for this Doomsday Prepper show I wouldn’t have been reminded about the earthquake preparedness program I saw in the 90’s. Being prepared for a quake event like those that have happened several times in my life. I am just adding to my camping supplies, I always liked camping and now I am just thinking about prepping like an urban camping trip. A trip that I don’t schedule.

 

Monday
Nov192012

Avis Car Rental Stuff

So I was working on a project for Oakley, a video about some new MotoCross goggles. We picked-up the vehicle, a full size Ford E350 in Orlando on Sunday, with a drop-off at Tallahasee Airport on Saturday. I own a E350 so driving this beast is second nature to me. 

Early Saturday morning we are dropping off at the Tallahasee Airport. We realize that the entrance to the rental return parking lot is a 6” 6” clearance. This truck has a 7 foot clearance minimium. So we call Avis customer service numbers and really get no input on what we should do. So I decide to park in public parking as close to the Avis return as possible. We then check in to our Delta flight which leaves at 7 am. It is about 6:20 am and I approach the Avis desk ready to drop off the keys and a note as to where the truck is. 

When I get to the desk, there is a woman representative. I said I was told that there was nobody at the desk until 7 am, she said “I am here because I want to be, not because I have to be here”. I said that is good because I would rather talk to a live person than leave a note. I tell her we put our vehicle in public parking because thier lot has a height restriction. She imeddiatley said “You have a 12 passenger van!” “We don’t take 12 passenger vans here!”. She litterally threw her hands up like I was radioactive, or had the plauge. Sorry I have a contract that says you do! So I say “then you should not have rented it to me” I throw the keys in the drop box and say “It is your problem now”. 

I contact Avis customer service when I get back to California many hours later and they say they are on top of it. They even offer to take off one day of the rental for my inconvience., this is Staurday Pacific time like 2 pm.

So on Monday I realize I haven’t been billed for the rental and I call customer service and the rental has not been closed. I am given the Tallahasee Avis number and I call them to see what is going on. The contact there “Rodney” tells me they will charge me for the 3 days parking but not the extra 3 days rental. Jeez thanks!

In what world where you have a contract, and you abide by it, you are then penalized for being out of their comfort zone? Avis corporate seems helpful but this local Tallahasee office has a total CYA attitude. They are giviing me a break for the 3 days that they did not act on my dropping the keys off? I love Avis I have always used them but this is the worst example of customer service.

What do they do when you drop off a car before they are open normally? Just park it in the drop off lot and drop off the keys. The only anomally here is the height of the vechile, as far as I can tell, This afternoon Rodney says normally you call and have a desk rep take the vehicle from the curbside.  Totally different story from my interaction at the desk.

So they are giving me a break for not charging me for the extra 3 days they had the keys! Wow you guy are on top of your game! Good on you for being service oriented!

Thursday
May242012

A-Clamp Story

I saw this A-Clamp the other day, and was reminded of it’s story. See this A-Clamp (grip clip, spring clamp) ran away from home and was adopted by others, and came back home to me. If you look you can see some writing on the side.

So this was probably back in the 1999 or so era, I had some basic production supplies, I got some clamps from the hardware store and put my name on them. As these things go, after a job with several different people some of your stuff ends up in other’s kits.

I just wrote my name on the side in Sharpie a simple “Ferguson”. This was the start of the little clamp’s Orange County, California adventure.

Now I don’t know what order it all happened in - but C.B. got added to it, for Craig “Burnie” Burns. Now Burnie’s Grip & Electric. Then RA was put on it, for a local (now gone) grip and electric rental company, named after RA the Egyptian God of Sun and Light.

Then you go to the other side and there is a bar-code from my good friends at Video Resources, which is where I think I found it. I am working on a project for VR I grab a clamp off of the string and I thought “what the heck”? This was mine a while ago. Well it boomeranged back to me! 

I think it is funny. Just imagine you were a cattle rustler in the old West and you found a cow with 4 brands on it! It has been clamped on a desktop letter box of mine for years now and I thought it was an amusing story.