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20 Things I Noticed While Driving to Oklacon

Smiles?  What? Oh, its FIVE MILES, derp

My trip to Oklacon 2012 is now over and I had a fun time.  Due to a lack of access to the tubes while I was there, everything is going up late, so ‘bear’ with me as I get caught up. 🙂

  1. I have to start off with the oddball store names I saw on US 281: “Aristacats,” “City Drug,” “Mr. Cut Rate,” “Stop-n-fetchum,” and “Feedlot Restaurant.” Best one? “Scooter’s Adult Bookstore.”
  2. If you are in a small town, isn’t it presumptuous to call yourself a National Bank?
  3. Taking the scenic route was a good idea, lots of beautiful country to see.
  4. “Mountaintop Land Bargains” – not sure if company name or actually selling land on mountain tops.
  5. If the speed limit sign outside of a town has a red border around it, it means they ain’t fooling around!
  6. Best thing ever: “Pie happy hour”
  7. I was so happy to finally see a “Speed Limit 75MPH” sign.
  8. I think my heart skipped a beat when I first realized my cell phone signal was gone and it wasn’t coming back for 3 days.
  9. Passed by a store called “The Store.” And I thought the HEB marketing department was lazy.
  10. I’ve seen town names on water towers, but a silo?  I guess you have to work with what you have.
  11. Stuck behind a slow pickup after about two hours, surprised it took that long.
  12. A restaurant named “Hamburger Hill?” REALLY?
  13. I saw a bunch of classic cars pass by at a stop light in a small town.  It must have been Homecoming Night.
  14. Cutting horses?  Its a cry for help, methinks.
  15. Dear Dairy Queen, please make all of your restaurants like the nice one south of Mineral Wells. Thanks.
  16. “Keep Mineral Wells crazy?” Maybe they should have a furcon. NOTE: The next few are after I entered OK.
  17. “Bridge ices before road?” Thanks for the science lesson, roadsign.
  18. A lot of casinos here, hmm.
  19. Dafuq are ‘jake brakes’ and ‘engine brake?’
  20. When I first saw a 25MPH speed limit in a little town, I expected to see a horse-drawn buggy somewhere. I never did so I concluded that they were just being jerks.
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Worst. Spammer. EVAR.

Spam.  If you’ve been on the Internets for more than say, a few minutes or have ever had an e-mail account, you should hate it in all its forms.  One particularly odious form of spam is blog spam, where people will post comments on blogs that serve no purpose other than to try to direct you to some skeevy website of questionable repute.

While Askimet is pretty darn good at catching spam comments, one occasionally slips through the net and has to be sent to Binary Hell the old-fashioned way.  I thought this one was HILARIOUS.  Click the picture to see the derp in all its glory.

I think you’re supposed to only post ONE of these…

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What the ****

Most of my stories are written for a general audience, and so I try to avoid the use of swear words in my short stories.  I also believe that cursing is for the uncreative and unoriginal.  Think about it: haven’t we all cussed at one time or another because we “couldn’t think of anything better?”  The problem is that there are instances where cursing just works really well and is even expected at times.

Case in point: I am currently writing a story that involves pirates…IN SPAAAACE!   Just like any other self-respecting pirates, these scurvy dogs (really, they’re pirate DOGS) spit, belch, don’t bathe, threaten harmless people (or cats as the case may be) and should probably swear like sailors.  Thus, I have a few options:

1)  Say ‘f*** it’ and use real swear words in my story, which I don’t really want to do.

2)  Borrow not-quite-swear-words from other works of fiction, like ‘frak’ from BattleStar Galactica, but I don’t want to do this either because its well, unoriginal, and I know I’m setting myself to get stuck in some “THERE’S NO FURRIES IN BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” debate down the road.

3)  Use common words.  This method was used often by one of my favorite writers, Isaac Asimov.  When a swear was needed, his characters would say things like “Space!” or “Stars and galaxies!”

4)  Just make stuff up.  This is obviously the hardest one, because I’m essentially inventing new words, and I’d like for them to make sense and not look like a random jumble of letters.

I am going with #3 with a varying degree of success, and who knows, I may invent some new pseudo-cuss words, especially at work, but for now I’ll just have to punt and pepper my story with <SWEAR WORD> placeholders until I think of something better.

Crap.

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Five Things I Learned From My DSL Debacle

So after the smoke cleared, I got my DSL turned on and AT&T got another customer…well for now, anyway.  It only took a trip to AT&T’s website, 2 customer service reps, one angry tweet, 3 techs, two social media team people, three executive escalation people, about a dozen voice mails, about twice that many phone calls, and seven days.

For my trouble, I’m getting my first month of service free, which I think is fair enough.  I’m just happy that the switch got flipped, and hopefully things will be hunky dory from here on out.  I also learned a few things:

  1. Just use the phone already! I should have just called back the next morning, despite the terrible experience I’d had with the first CSR.  Its just quicker, especially considering..
  2. “The Power of Social Media” is worthless if the people answering the tweets don’t have the power to DO anything. Awhile back, a friend of mine had a problem with Netflix that he tweeted about.  Someone from the company got in touch with him fairly quickly and got the issue resolved.  Thus, when I got a response from AT&T’s social media people, I got excited that someone was going to get something DONE about my problem.  Sadly, the only thing the social media mavens that answered my angry AT&T tweets did was tell me to wait for a phone call that would come at some indeterminate time.  Of course, once I got past the social media d00dz, I found out:
  3. Just because they’re “executive escalation” doesn’t mean they want to talk to you. I don’t think I’ve ever played as much phone tag as I did with the executive escalation gal. Part of it was because of my job, which entails answering phones, and part of it was because of the phone system at AT&T, which did not put me through to the person directly.  Whenever I had time to speak, I had to leave a message and hope that she called me back before I got busy again.  This is hardly efficient, especially considering that…
  4. Competence is not “expected behavior” This was not the first time I had ordered DSL service from AT&T.  I had expected the positive experience I’d had before to be repeated.  Sadly, this was not the case; the smart people I’d spoken to years ago have probably either been laid off or hopefully, moved on to bigger or better things.  As for me:
  5. I may just be too patient.  I probably should have thrown in the towel after the social media dweebs told me to wait 48 “business hours” for a phone call but I was desperate to get back on the intertubes and I wanted to see this whole thing through.

So I now have sweet, sweet, internet and life is good.

Aww, crap…

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