Monthly Archives: April 2008

On donating blood and blowjobs…

In high school, I was involved with the National Honors Society/Red Cross blood drive on our campus. I enjoyed the concept of service to those in need, and I donated every time a drive was on campus. After high school, I got a tattoo, and there was a requisite year of restriction on my donor status. This I understood, entirely. Then I went to college and started getting high every five hours on the dot, so my donation schedule got delayed… by ten years. I like to think that the Red Cross understood too.

Also in high school, I got a blowjob from a guy. Keep this in mind, it’ll be important later.

The questions asked on the Red Cross donor screening during high school were fairly short and to the point. Are you sexually active? Have you tested positive for any sexually transmitted diseases? Have you gotten a marrow transplant, have you ever had Chagas or a brain duramatter replacement in europe for more than five years or in african prison for more than seventy two consecutive piercings? No? Let’s do this, roll up that shirt sleeve.

They tested each donation, and we all went on our merry way.

So I roll on down to donate some blood here last week, and I start answering the questions.

Marrow transplant? No sir.
Bovine Derived Growth Hormone Treatment in Chad? Not me.
Sex with a prostitute or prison rape in the past 12 months? Nope.
Tested positive for AIDS or been in France for more than three months in the past five years? No, though I’m not sure the two of those are in the same risk league.
Had sexual contact (Defined as oral/genital, genital/anal, or genital/genital [z: what?]) with a man since 1977? … … …

Since nineteen seventy fucking seven? Meaning, ever. Have I ever experimented with gay sex, ever. Even if it was once, ten years ago? Even if I’ve tested negative for every single sexually transmitted disease on the planet. Even if I’ve not had sex of any kind for eight years. Even if it was a blowjob on a waterbed and it got really awkward after. Even if the possibility that I’m carrying a blood-borne illness that is related to my sexual persuasion is about the same likelihood that I’m carrying an alien spore in my brain which makes me like cats? Yes. Even then.

Yes. I did that. Done. Flip over sign.

So the screener comes back. And she stares at the computer like I just hauled off and took a shit on the keyboard. “I, uh….” she stammers. “Uhhhhh”

“Let me get a manager over here”

She skitters off to find a stringy managerial woman. They both stare at the screen and point.

“With a man” the managerial woman restates with emphasis. “A man”

I nod my head yes.

“A man. And you are also a man.” She repeats, pointedly not looking at me.

And I nod.

The screener giggles nervously “I’ve, uh. I’ve never, uh… nobody has ever answered that one yes before. Uh…”

The managerial woman offers me one more ‘out’ – “And there’s been no gender reassignment, right?”

I shake my head.

The managerial woman sighs and simply walks away. The screener stares at me again like I’ve now taken the keyboard turd and am attempting to stuff it into my nose. “Uh… there’s uh… I have to print out an uh… thing.”

She wanders away again, returning with a printout.

She says “And, uh… there are, uh.. no more questions.” Starting again, “Well, I have good news and bad news.” then thinking some more – “Well, there’s really no good news.”

And she explains that since I had the unmitigated gall, the audacity to give and receive oral sex during the Clinton administration, I was permanently banned from giving blood. My status as a “permanent deferral” would be shared with various agencies of the medical establishment. (This sharing of information gave me particular joy.) To put this in perspective. If I had had sex with a HOOKER only THIRTEEN FUCKING MONTHS AGO, I would have been fine. If I have Genital Warts, that’s no problemo! Also if you have papilloma virus (the one that’s directly linked to pussy cancer) that’s fine too, donate away. But since Greg’s spit on my dick turned my blood to black motherfucking poison, I am going to literally melt the entire donation truck with my AIDS-ulance.

The screener then hands me a rejection letter which she asks me three times if I “want her to fill in the reason box”. I said no, because I totally understood what she was saying, but the knowing nod and “I didn’t think so” explained to me that she didn’t really understand the point. She then assured me that “things were changing” and I should “check back later” or better yet, become a volunteer! She slid the letter to me and retreated.

I walked back to my desk, flabbergasted. Are they honestly not testing blood donations for AIDS even now? Do they suspect some kind of as-yet-unknown gay plague that will come back to kill everyone retroactively?

I guess I could donate blood in Thailand.

A victory garden… but with plasma cutters and shit.

This is an unbelievably cool idea. $100 a month is a little steep for me, at least as I would use it. And $1200 a year? No discount for that big purchase up front? Weird. But $30 for a full day… that could really work out nicely.

It reminds me of the concept of community canning centers and gardens, but taken up a notch. I’d love to be able to go down, spend $30 and whittle up a couple of projects I’ve been wanting to get to on a bridgeport. Or $50 and take a class about how to lay up carbon fiber (carbon fiber codpiece here I come). Plus the social angle gives me a boner. Finding out who wants to spend Wednesday night putting the finishing touches on their hand built asphalt gravity-luge instead of watching drek on TV is very appealing.

DNS Retardation

I use my laptop connected to my cell phone for the internet, that much I’ve talked about before. But one thing that keeps coming to bite me in the ass is my DNS setup.

First off, when I’m at home, I have a gateway computer, which I use as the primary DNS, mostly for name resolution of our various utility computers. So when I dial in, I go into my resolv.conf and delete that line. Which sucks. I hate having to do it, but the DNS servers that AT&T provides when I dial in are fucking terrible.

So I was using OpenDNS’s free dns servers, which are great, except if you have a slow internet connection, which seems to cause it to report every other mother fucking page as being down, and conveniently offers NO LINK TO GO BACK AND TRY IT AGAIN. Which is just great for all you masochists out there.

Eventually, I tired of this and switched back to the old standby, 207.69.188.185, which is burned into my head from my time at Mindspring’s help desk. Unfortunately, they seem to have installed the SAME BULLSHIT dns detection crap as everyone else.

Does anybody offer a no-frills fucking DNS service anymore, or do they all have bullshit filtering and crap in them?

Apoplectic with rage…

Over this…

OK. Let’s be honest here. I’m not Mr. Recycling. Before I moved up to Oregon where recycling is compulsory (and easy), I didn’t ever split up my garbage (except when aluminum scrap prices were high enough and we were broke enough to justify it). And I still consciously wince every time I realize I’m spending time rinsing dog food cans or milk jugs, which I could easily just huck in the trash and never think about again (or – at least – never think about until I’m on a donkey, headed across the wasteland, eating a can of sweetened condensed milk, in a post-gas-crisis world). But I did buy a car largely based on it’s gas mileage (again, not as altruistic as you might think, I was buying with my wallet in mind), I do bike commute to work (because I’m too cheap to pay a gym membership), and I do use public transit when possible (like when it’s possible that I’ll pass out behind the wheel of a car). I even support sustainable power (by checking that box on my bill, not sure what good that does), and hate that I can’t opt out of the phone book (because I never use the fucking worthless thing) and the Oregonian samplers (if I see the car that throws that fucking rag into my yard it’s gonna get quite the keying).

But the point of recycling, and using recycled materials is to save the planet, right? And the average person (me) doesn’t give two shits about some huge landfill country (Botswana? Like I’m ever gonna vacation there) and the kids that live atop my ex-furniture. So the only way to really get anyone to do anything is to offer a monetary benefit. Recycled bags are cheaper than new, so grocery stores use them. Recycled paper is cheaper than bleached, so companies and schools buy it. Recycling is about rewarding people who don’t know enough to do good by themselves, and hopefully make it a habit (see : Can and Bottle surcharge, Oregon).

Before I ramble more, the mother fucking point is not to make your recycled goods more expensive than equivalent or better goods made from new raw materials.

Now, I already clicked on the AntiApathy link there on Worn Again’s website, and I get that the idea is to appeal to people who (unlike me) actively seek out opportunities to do good. And if these folks come into power, I realize I’ll be on the “I grudgingly recycled” Group-W bench with the loggers and the father rapers. But in the meantime, I think you can do a lot more good attracting would-be recyclers with honey (or more specifically, through money) than with SEVENTY FIVE DOLLAR FLIP FLOPS.

Project: Paying off the car

So, my car is great. I like it, it still is the bees knees.

But I hate the payment. It’s more than it should be, because I didn’t shop around the financing and I didn’t have great credit when I bought it. It’s at a very high interest rate (~12%) and it requires me to carry full coverage insurance. Between the car payment of $366.21 and the insurance bill of $120 (this covers the car in full as well as the scooter, but also includes a discount because I have my homeowners insurance through them), and regular maintenance – that’s $500 a month. If I drove for my job, or had a long, arduous commute, I would be happy to pay it, I think the peace of mind of a new car is well worth $500 a month.

But, I don’t. I’m four miles from work. I come in in the morning and leave in the afternoon. I ride my bike sometimes, I scooter sometimes, so the car is essentially unused for a huge portion of the week. But, I like being able to go to the grocery store and pick up a huge package of toilet paper and not have to balance it on my bike rack, or see a deal at Fry’s Electronics and shoot off down to Wilsonville. So I like having the car, I just don’t like the cost of financing.

So I need to figure out the best way to pay the car off. If I can pay the car off, that frees up $366.21 a month (nearly enough to max out an IRA), and I can probably reduce my insurance payment $20-40 a month, and still have adequate coverage (I no longer think that strict liability insurance is enough).

So, there’s a really strong motivation to get the car paid off early. I don’t think that it’s a “bad debt”, per se, but it is certainly leaning that way after my little cost/benefit analysis. The question is whether or not it’s worth it to refinance the loan, which will have fees, or just do some self-guided accelerated payment stuff (which takes time every month, because additional payment is simply applied to interest, not principal, and I’ll have to call to fix that).

Hrm.

I have 42 payments left, during which time I’ll pay $2850 in financing.

If I refinanced and got a good rate (currently I’m seeing used rates around 8%) and kept it at 42 payments (which wouldn’t really be possible, but I’m just spitballing) I’d lower my payments to $340 a month, and reduce the amount of total interest paid to $1860. However, it’s likely that a loan origination fee would significantly impact this “savings”. Plus $26 a month is good when you save it on a cell phone bill (yay) but not when it requires a shit-ton of hassle.

Refinance with same timeline and lower payments: Not really worth it.

If I refinanced and got a good rate at 36 months (essentially paying off the car 6 months early), my payment would go up to $390, and the total interest paid would be $1590. The extra money in the payment would add up to $896 over the 36 months, and the $366/month I won’t have to pay for six months at the end adds up to $2196. Leaving $1300 to go into savings.

Refinance with a 36 month loan and increase payments marginally : OK, but only if loan origination fees and whatnot don’t eat up my marginal savings.

If I refinanced and got a good rate at 24 months (paying off the car 18 months early), my payment would increase to $570 a month. Which isn’t doable. So fuck that.

Refinance with a 24 month loan and increase payments dramatically : Fuck that.

If I don’t refinance, and bump my payments to $450 (applying the entire overage to principal), I’ll shave off 10 payments (nearly a year, or $3660, but balanced against the $2688 in extra payments I made in the 32 months prior, just under a grand to the good), and the total interest paid will be $2195 ($650 saved in financing).

Regular Extra Principal Payments : Probably the most worth-it strategy so far, but still not great.

Lesson learned here? Get the right loan the first time. Refinancing is messy and doesn’t usually save you that much money. Accelerating payment on a shitty loan doesn’t really save that much money either.

The Man eating rabbit – By robert

Once upon a time, I worked at a school district doing computer support. I was doing a big deployment of PII machines with Justice and PetePete when we came upon the following story. Printed in bright red, on a sheet of paper ringed with poinsettia clip-art. Hanging on a wall of stories in a lab, under the word “Imagination”. Unable to resist, we all made copies, and Fargo found mine in the garage.

Because I am incapable of drawing up the concentration to write anything of merit, this will have to do.

The Man eating rabbit
By robert

A man eating rabbit was on the loose in a submarine. It was under there for a long time. Finally, the submarine came up. A man eating rabbit was on the loose in a submarine. It The rabbit jumped out, and ate everyone except me. I had a gun, so I shot it, but it didn’t get hurt. Then it jumped on me. It started eating my finger. I shot it again, this time in the forehead. Its brains went all over the place. It died, and everyone came alive, then I shot everyone !!!!!!!!!

THE END

Clamshell envy…

This is a pretty accurate indictment of Windows Mobile devices. I say pretty accurate because Extremetech is not the finest tech journal out there, and also because I don’t really think that the iPhone is all that hot. Sure, it’s got a GREAT user interface, really game changing design. But the fact of the matter is it’s a last gen device, even at launch. EDGE data? Really? I had that on my HTC Wizard. It’s slow as balls.

So I found myself stuck with the choice of another Windows Mobile phone with 3G data, a Palm Centro (same problem as the iPhone, neat as a pin, but only EDGE), switching providers for something like a Sidekick (not gonna happen), or no smartphone options at all. Then I went over to my mom’s house and she was playing with her Samsung clamshell phone and we got to talking about battery life, she told me she usually has to charge it twice a week, maybe three times. This from a woman who talks on the phone probably 4 hours a day. To put this in perspective, with the Wizard, I had to charge it every day, even though I probably do less than four hours of talking a week. Granted, I used the bluetooth DUN for data on my laptop, but even disregarding that, if I let the phone go without a charge all weekend, Monday morning it was dead, whether I got a call or not.

In short, my whizbang all you can eat do it all 200mhz pocket computer from the future was suddenly being outshined in primary functionality by a free clamshell phone.

So I went to the AT&T store and looked around at the 3G smartphones, and the Centro, and the iPhone, and eventually I settled… on a regular slider phone with 3G data. It’s fucking amazing. The battery life is easily twice what the Wizard was for data tethering. The standby on the battery is ten times as long. And the 3G data? You know how they call things mobile broadband? This is what they mean. Edge is mobile.. internet. Ish. HSDPA is mobile broadband. 30-60Kbps downloads, snappy responsiveness. I no longer have to reconnect five or six times a day. It’s bliss. Samsung A737, if it weren’t for your funky nonstandard charger port, I’d say you were the perfect phone. As it is, you’re better than the alternatives.