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Atomic Fungus
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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in atomic_fungus' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
9:11 am
#5288: Efficiency
Always bet on capitalism.
North America's hydraulic frackers are cutting costs so fast that most can now produce at prices far below levels needed to fund the Saudi welfare state and its military machine, or to cover Opec budget deficits.
You see, I knew that the harsh market conditions would do this--force American oil producers to find ways to cut costs in order to make a profit on fracking oil to be sold at something less than $100 a barrel. The market price for crude has been jiggling around $40-odd per barrel for months, and it basically just drove cost reduction.

The Saudis--playing by the rules of the previous game--figured they'd simply out-produce the American producers, drive down the price of oil, and run 'em all out of business. That's what they should have done in the 1980s and failed to do; it cost them market share that took a long time to rebuild. This time they did it, but the game has changed. All they've managed is to hurt themselves, again, but in an entirely different manner.

Now the US is exporting natural gas. We're producing so much of it, the world price of natural gas has plummeted.

There is still hope.

* * *

Because we're cool and edgy, we'll protest campus carry with sex toys. Predictably, the organization is called "Cocks not Glocks" and it's founded by a girl.

I have no idea what if these morons are thinking. "Look! We'll show everyone how shocking it is for people to carry concealed weapons by strapping dildos to our backpacks! How do you like that, Hitler?" I suppose the connotation is supposed to be that anyone who carries a firearm is a dick. The fact that "concealed" means "out of sight" and not "bright pink and strapped to my backpack!" somehow seems to have eluded these shit-for-brains undergrads.

To say nothing of the fact that their argument is approximately thus: Oh yeah? Well, SEX! Ha ha ha! See? SEX! SEX that you don't like, you bigoted homophobe! SEX! This will show you what guns on campus feel like to us! SEX! SEX! SEX! You want to ban dildos, but you can't, because SEX! You probably have a dildo anyway, you SEX! hypocrite! SEX!

I can remember a time when academia took education seriously, and this kind of antic would have been frowned upon. The context would approximate: "Little girl, adults are trying to study, here. Go away."

...I'm a writer, yet I cannot find words that can express the scalding contempt I feel for idiocy on this scale. This is a failing I must correct.

* * *

Well, part of it is that I got a handful of hours of sleep. Mrs. Fungus and I met for dinner (Ihop, cheap) and then got home after midnight--I didn't get out of work until 10:30 and she was similarly held over--and then when she went to bed I tucked her in and then sat at the computer for another couple of hours, mainly playing Hexiom Connect and listening to music on headphones.

But when I woke up at 8 AM, I figured I might as well get her the $20 I'd promised to get for her so she'd have some cash on hand, so I set out to hit an ATM; once home I had a bagel and sat down here. I'm pretty tired, having had about four hours of sleep, but once she's left the house for the big Demi Lovato event I can hit the hay for a few more hours.

...before I go outside to do chores, like Jeep maintenance and mowing the lawn.
1:33 am
#5287: How Demi Lovato ruined my weekend
So, three days ago neither I nor Mrs. Fungus had ever heard of Demi Lovato.

Saturday evening she takes a call at work from some kind of PR dude offering her organization tickets to Demi Lovato's concert at "a little place called the Allstate Arena" and it was so ludicrous the eyerolls were probably detectible from Pluto. But she dutifully e-mailed someone at the company with the information.

Today she learned that she is among those who must attend the concert. Which is tomorrow, on our Saturday. Imagine our excitement.

Apparently Demi Lovato was on Barney and Friends and apparently was addicted to this and that drug, only now she's better and of course it's perfect PR for her to have some recovering addicts backstage before the show for a meet-and-greet.

Mrs. Fungus: "I don't want to go!"

Her boss: "You have to!"

Me: "WTF. They'd better pay you. I would insist on getting paid for that horseshit."

But of course the humor is not lost on me. "You know," I said, "there was that weekend she and Barney got an 8-ball...."

The idea of Barney with a coke mustache amuses me.

* * *


* * *

In the "people are idiots, and I hate them" column we have two spectacularly stupid calls from today.

First off, the idiots who haven't paid a bill on time since October and who are complaining that they can't afford their bill a month after running up $105 in overages on top of their already-high bill. Look: if you have a 20 GB data plan, and you use 27 GB, guess how much sympathy I'll have for you when you admit getting the SMS notifications for each GB of overage?

Telling me that a $300 bill is half your rent for the month does not move me. Look: your nominal bill is $180 before overages. If you don't want to get a $300 bill every month, maybe you should get your data usage under control. For you to use all that data and then call up after the fact and say "I can't afford this!" and ask us to fix it? Get a life, clown. You knew how much data you were using--you admit getting the text messages!--but you couldn't be fucked to call about it at the time. We could have helped you then; now it's too late. You owe that money; I can send you to financial services to make a payment arrangement but I am not going to issue you a credit. Especially not for $105. You want to talk about going to AT&T? Go ahead. I can guarantee you that AT&T isn't going to be any more lenient about data overages than we are, and they also expect to be paid on time.

What I wanted to do, when he asked to speak to a supervisor, was to simply transfer him to collections anyway. But I dutifully got up and went and found a supervisor...who told me, after I'd summarized the situation, that I could escalate him to financial services. So I merrily returned to my desk, happy that I could do what I'd wanted to in the first place. And I turfed his ass to finacial services without even picking the line back up. Just bang you're outta here!

I know what my monthly budget is for cell phone service (approximately $12) so I do my best to remain under that budget by not using cellular data like it's free. Ditto for Mrs. Fungus, who has a 4G cell phone and a 500 MB data plan.

The other idiot was the woman who insisted she signed a contract which stated her bill wasn't going to change.

What happened was, her son broke his phone, so they went to an indirect store. The sales rep sold them an iPhone SE on contract; that's $0.99 plus a $40 upgrade fee for a $400 phone. The sales rep also got a credit issued against the upgrade fee and assured this woman her bill wouldn't change.

Well, that was horseshit. The bill went up $20, and of course doing an upgrade halfway through the bill cycle did some other things as well. And then corporate stepped in and said, "No, there's no reason to issue a credit against that upgrade fee," and so mirabile visu her bill for this month was $240.

When I explained why her bill was $240 she started saying, "No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No." I hate it when people do that; they remind me of toddlers throwing tantrums. This woman insisted she signed a contract, so of course I pulled up the contract and explained it all to her. I went through the bill three or four times, explaining each charge to her, and at the end of all this she insisted that she was promised that her bill wouldn't change.

You know what? You're presumably an adult. You should be able to read. If you don't know that you should never sign something you didn't read--and if you don't know that if you sign it anyway, you're beholden to it--you shouldn't be allowed to vote. By signing the contract you agreed to the terms and conditions--and one of those terms and conditions was that the line you just upgraded would go from $20 to $40 per month.

I don't have any sympathy for people like this. You signed the damned contract. If you want to blame someone for the result, try looking in the mirror. No one forced you to sign the contract. You could have taken as much time as you like to read it.

One of these days I'm going to be dealing with one of these calls and I'm going to snap, and say something very much like that.

I've noticed that whenever it works in their favor, I signed a contract! Whenever it works against them, $Major_Telecom is just trying to screw people!


* * *

Speaking of idiots....

Mrs. Fungus and I met for dinner after work, and as we were leaving I noticed a Jeep Wrangler of fairly recent vintage parked a space over from her car. It hadn't been there when I went in, and a crowd of youngish twenty-somethings had come in shortly after we were seated. I figured the car probably belonged to them. Especially because on the car's rear end, a bumper sticker declared, "FUCK TRUMP 2016!"

I looked at the thing, then went and got into my battered 2000 Cherokee, shaking my head.

Look: in all liklihood, the Wrangler that belonged to one of those kids was purchased by mommy and daddy, who didn't want precious snowflake to have to drive some rust bucket; so of course they got the kid a $35,000 truck. It's as much a status symbol for the parents as it is for the kid: we didn't buy our kid an econobox! We're BETTER than that!

I just don't have the words to explain how tiresome I find all this.

* * *

I think I'd rather fuck Trump than Hillary. Holy shit. At least Trump is human. Jury's still out on what Hillary is.

* * *

Anyway, I have a lot to do this "weekend", so while my wife is watching Demi Lovato do whatever it is she does (probably sing, badly) I'm going to be doing other chores. Argh etc.
Sunday, July 31st, 2016
11:02 am
#5286: The undine is back. That's all I can figure.
Okay: over the past couple of years, every time I have had to deal with a house malfunction, every time save one it's been something to do with water.

Washing machine. (Twice.) Dishwasher. Hot water heater. Leaky sink. Various plumbing problems. The only non-water problem was when the oven went haywire.

When I was much younger, Mom told me that we must have an undine living with us, because of all the water problems we had. There was always endless trouble with the basement flooding, every time there was significant rain; with some of the improvements made to the place over the years that problem has been mitigated to a significant extent, though we do still have issues once in a while.


The most recent issue is the bathtub. It clogged up solid last night, so bad that I was working on it until past 2 AM trying to get it unplugged. I think I used about a quarter can of Drano, too. I finally gave up and determined just to call off today so I could go to the hardware store and get a snake--I thought I had one, but I can't seem to find it--and went to bed, finally, after 2:30 AM, having mapped out a game plan for dealing with the clog. Exhausted (I'd been up since 7 AM Saturday morning), busted, and disgusted, I retired in defeat after diluting the Drano Death Water to normal ph, bailing the tub out into the toilet, cleaning off all the grease and grime that got plunged up from the drain, and making sure my wife could shower before work. I got as much water out of the tub as I could, but there was still water standing just below the lip of the drain.

Woke up at 7 long enough to call off and hit the can; I saw that there was still water in the drain, as I'd expected. I went back to sleep and got up again after my wife had finished her shower.

"Did you fix the tub?"

"No," I said, wondering why she was asking when there was standing water in the tub from her shower, of course, because when I left the thing there was still water standing in the drain. Right? She'd taken a shower and I hadn't gotten the drain unplugged, so she'd had to be standing ankle-deep in water at the end of her shower. "Why?"

"It drained."

"What?" I went into the bathroom and looked at the tub, and it was empty, no water in the drain or anything.

What the fuck.

I mean, what the fuck.

Mrs. Fungus: "Maybe there's a gnome in the pipe."

"There must be!" I grabbed a flashlight and went downstairs to look in the crawlspace--not for gnomes, but for evidence that the tub had drained into the crawlspace rather than the sewer. But it was dry, but for the usual crawlspace dampness, which was a considerable relief to me as I didn't fancy spending a day mucking about down there. I had expected to when I called off this morning--if the snake didn't work I was going to try going at it from the trap--but I didn't fancy tackling a major repair.

Before she left for work, as usual, Mrs. Fungus kissed me; then she said, "Try to do something productive today. Send out some resumes!"

I agreed to. Beats plumbing.
Saturday, July 30th, 2016
8:49 pm
#5285: I really can't believe it's this cool outside again
It's nice and cool. A week ago, murderously hot; today, cool enough to open the windows. Nice.

* * *

I didn't realize that Zathras died! Here's the thing about Babylon 5: it first aired twenty years ago and it's not terribly surprising that people from the show have died. I'd wager that if you looked at the total cast of the original Star Trek--everyone who ever acted in the show--you'd see a similar list.

But everyone knows that Zathras is supposed to be over 100....

* * *

Get your very own Bill Clinton statue! It's easy and fun! (NSFW warning. Hint: it is not actually a likeness of Bill Clinton.) (I think.)

* * *

Yesterday at work was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. Needed a sup to take a payment; sup instead lectured me on how to get the customer to use the app. Needed another sup to take an escalation; sup instead lectured me on how to avoid an escalation.

In the latter case I was gone from my desk so long the customer hung up and two other calls rang through. I was gone from my desk because my team doesn't have a supervisor and there is no floor support and I had to go to the other side of the call center for help. Help which, it turns out, was not coming.

If anyone even tries to take me to task for this I'm going to tear them a new one. Shit.

By the time I got home last night I was fit to be tied. Holy shit was I hot. I was so angry I was still angry when I got to work this morning.

Today, fortunately, was a lot easier than yesterday was. Somehow.

* * *

SpaceX test-fired one of their recovered first stages the other day. They ran it up to full boost to see how it would do, and let it run for the time it would take to boost to orbit. It worked fine. Eventually they'll test-fly a recovered booster to see what happens, and that will also be epic.

* * *

I was thinking, on my way home, about the time I was driving somewhere, and this idiot decided I wasn't going fast enough for him. It had just rained, and I was driving an Escort while he was driving a Mustang GT; and he went screaming around me because I was TOO! SLOW!!!

...and when I got to my off-ramp, there was Mr. Mustang GT with the front of his car poking out of the weeds in the ditch. He'd gone into the corner too hot, oversteered, and slid right off the ramp because it was still wet. I drove right past him, standing by his car and looking bewildered. I successfully quashed the impulse to wave at him.

* * *

Well, it's a nice Saturday evening. Pity I have to go to work tomorrow morning. *sigh*
Friday, July 29th, 2016
12:45 am
#5284: Well, that was nicer than usual.
See, the one benefit to not getting any training at all for an entire month is that when you get to the end of that month, suddenly the training guys realize they have to get it done, and I get a day like today...where I had four hours of training. And AHOD couldn't take it away from us this time because contractual obligation.

The funny part was that I was receiving training (finally) on stuff I've been doing since the middle of the month. "Oh, look!" I had more than one occasion to say today. "Here's the training on XYZ! I know that already!"

It was nice, though, to finally get some training time in. I milked it for everything it was worth, too, because I did not want to go to work today; I wanted to stay home and hide in bed. That extended training session was a Godsend.

* * *

Why are millennials not buying homes? Because homes cost too damned much, forcing them to rent.

* * *

Loved this. Especially this part:
We now have this perfect confluence of absolute fed-upness with all this on the part of a great swath of the country, standing behind a guy who doesn't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut who gets upset by the shit he flings at the libtards. Rather than doing the whole "let’s not be beastly to the commies" vaudeville act the Republicrats have been sickening us with for so many years, we finally have a guy who will actually say, "hey, don't like what I just said? Fuck you, here's more of it. Hope you fucking choke on it."
"So many years" meaning literal decades, ever since 1992 or so.

* * *

NASA can't do it any longer. They just can't build spacecraft. Orion is in its second decade of development and hasn't flown yet.

Meanwhile, Dragon:

...and as I said at the time, that's a privately-owned reusable spacecraft.

* * *

I think that description is apt. "White dwarf with a death ray." And when the beams of radiation from the white dwarf strike the M5-class star it's orbiting, the star gets four times brighter in thirty seconds. Yeesh!

* * *

For the first time in an extremely long one, I am dismayed at the death of an actor. Jerry Doyle played Mr. Garibaldi on Babylon 5. My reaction: "Oh, man, no!"

That sucks.

* * *

Well, time for a little fun before bed.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
12:08 pm
#5283: I'm so glad the Olympics aren't here
They're in Rio, and they suck.

Now: if the Olympics had come to Chicago, the only story here would be the crime; the rest of it--polluted water, crappy living conditions, Zika mosquitos--wouldn't be happening. Of course, Illinois is broke, and the money to build the facilities would have been taken from something important, so I'm glad the Olympics are not here.

This guy has the right idea. Just designate someplace they are held, and leave 'em there.

* * *

IRS is going to investigate the Clinton Foundation. ...and you know what the conclusion of that story will be, so I don't really understand why the IRS is wasting time and money on it.

* * *

When Christianity gets tired of islam, there will be backlash. Christianity has a lot of forebearance and is highly forgiving. But if someone ever asks you "What would Jesus do?" "...remind them that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibility." (Linked for the quote.)

If you think Christians will not rise up and fight back, you are sorely mistaken. It's happened before. It's not going against our religion to do so, either. "Turn the other cheek" is not meant to be a suicide pact. (And Jesus didn't tell us what to do if the other cheek got slapped, but I suspect it's not "All right, now turn the other cheek again!")

Related: Not fit for asylum but we won't send him back to where he came from. Good job, Germany. *rolleyes*

* * *

Big surprise for those of us who have said for years that the press in this country has a decided leftward slant. The mainstream press is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat party, and has been for decades. That's why this is the approximate reaction of the left to any news outlet which is, ideologically, to the right of Josef Stalin:

Fox News isn't right-wing; it's just less left-wing than its competitors, more-or-less middle-of-the-road. I don't watch it any more, not since I figured that out--which has been almost eight years now--and when some lefty accuses me of getting all my news from there I just laugh at them.

And if you go to the other link in that post, holy crap do you see some delusional thinking from a NYT editor. "We're tough on everyone!" they claim. The article concludes:
Imagine a country where the greatest, most powerful newsroom in the free world was viewed not as a voice that speaks to all but as one that has taken sides.

Or has that already happened?
Dude, that happened fifty years ago. Longer. The NYT has never been "a voice that speaks to all" and it has always taken sides. Readers see a leftist bias in the NYT because it has a leftist bias.

That bias, and the editorial refusal to recognize it, is why newspapers are dying. Even NYT.

* * *

Gasoline has been edging downward again.

Looking at the news, I see that US refineries have switched to making winter blend gas because there's already enough summer blend at current usage to satisfy demand through the end of summer, and idle machinery costs money. We have, here, a classic glut, and all the trading tricks in the world cannot create demand.

The problem we're facing here is an interesting one. Our domestic production requires that oil cost a certain amount per barrel in order to remain profitable and thus keep producers in the market. But at that price point everyone wants to be in the market, because there are oil deposits all over the world which are cheaper to exploit than ours. (The ones, that is, that we're allowed to exploit by our government. We have billions of barrels of oil we could extract by poking a hole in the ground and getting out of the way, but our government has decided that the animals that live over it are more important.)

It's impossible to have an overabundance of a commodity and sustain it at an artificially high price, at least for very long. So gasoline edges downward towards $2 a gallon again (here in the Fungal Vale) and that's still technically much higher than the price ought to be, given the fundamentals.

Well, it is what it is, isn't it?

* * *

Absolutely no credibility whatsoever.
Bill Clinton went on stage last night to do the impossible -- to humanize the inhuman. Instead of talking about policy and economics, about which he has some credibility, he instead chose to speak of love, commitment, and marriage, about which he has none.
Bill "You better put some ice on that" Clinton, talking about commitment and marriage? Colonel Sanders, chicken, etc.

* * *

Yesterday I figured on getting the oil changed and the tires rotated in our vehicles. Didn't get that done; I got the supplies and then had a bad attack of hypoglycemia, bad enough that I had to drop everything and make dinner first. By the time dinner was done, it was too dark and too late to make noise in the driveway. Argh etc.

None of it's critical, though it should be done sooner rather than later. Got to do spark plugs on Mrs. Fungus' car as well. You can pay $15 each for plugs for that thing; I opted for generic platinum plugs for $3.19 each because I know how much of a performance gain she'd get from the $15 plugs: not enough to be worth it.

Today's weather promises to be good grass cutting weather, though, which does have to be done. The big storms we had on Sunday broke the heat wave, so it's merely hot outside. We're back to "regular summer", which is a big improvement. Last night while we waited for our burgers to grill and our corn on the cob to boil, Mrs. Fungus and I sat on the back patio and enjoyed a little bit of the evening.

That'll do.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
6:23 pm
#5282: It is actually a felony!
News program Mrs. Fungus was watching said "It is actually a felony to steal cooking oil, but that is not stopping a burgeoning black market."

Do tell.

So what you're saying is, even if you make something illegal, people will still do it?

But we need to outlaw firearms? And that will stop violence?

* * *

French priest killed by white Republicans.

Dastardly baptists! How dare they!

We know this was not a muslim terror attack because it happened in Japan where they have very strict controls on islam. This was just a sick asshole, as opposed to a sick asshole muslim.

* * *

Speaking of sick assholes-- The DNC is already full of gaffes and stupidity, as we knew it would be. So the DNC replaces its chair a bare week before the convention. The replacement forgets to gavel in the convention. Bernie Boos. Replacing delegates because there are too many men. And:
The Bernies have set up tent cities throughout Philadelphia as hubs of protest. At one tent city in North Philadelphia, a plot has been hatched to feed all of the Bernie-supporting delegates who visit the camp lots of baked beans before they go into the arena, so that they can unleash a methane wrath on everyone else. This plan is called "The Fart-In."
All of this will be played as "lively debate" and the media will pretend this is all emblematic of a healthy political party.

* * *

Iron boils at 5,184 degrees but 2,960° is well past its point of fusion, if I'm not mistaken. (Yep, 2,800° is where it melts.) So yeah, I'd expect there to be nothing left of Cave Creek. Heh.

* * *

Apparently white privilege doesn't extend to playing basketball? Or something?

* * *

So, Sunday night, Mrs. Fungus and I were trying to find a movie to watch. She wanted something scary, so she was flipping through that genre, and kept seeing Leprechaun 2, over and over again.

"How many times did they make Leprechaun 2?" She asked me incredulously.

"Approximately forty," I replied, deadpan.

"AHHHHH HA HA HA HA HA HAAAA THAT'S FUNNY!" And she proceeded to laugh about it all through the movie we ended up watching, Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1978, which was all right.

* * *

So, last Wednesday, we had ham for dinner.

We got the ham sometime last year, on sale, and threw it into the chest freezer. I finally remembered to get it out last Saturday or Sunday, and put it in the fridge to thaw. Wednesday I put it into the oven, discovered I had no aluminum foil to cover it with, and let it bake for three hours. The outside blackened a bit but it came out delicious, and we proceeded to eat leftovers for three days.

Sunday night, then, I made ham and cheese sandwiches, and pared all the economically recoverable meat from the hock; then I put the hock into water with a 15-bean soup mix (minus the flavor packet), a chopped onion, some garlic, and some pepper, and let it simmer all night long. Turned it off before work; when I got home from work Monday night I pulled out the bones and the fat, shredded the meat, heated it back up, and had some soup; but rather than shut it off, I let it simmer for a few more hours. Cooled it overnight, and when I got up to hit the can this morning I put the now-tepid soup into the fridge. And after getting up for good today I skimmed off the now-solidified grease, and heated up another bowl of the stuff.

Delicious, of course. But to my surprise it needed salt. Ham and bean soup needed salt. What is this world coming to?

I find it amazing that I can make soup--delicious, hearty soup--from scratch. Especially without doing anything more complicated than throwing stuff into a pot and turning the stove on. Of course it's not like making soup is rocket science or anything, but you do need to know your way around a kitchen to do it.


* * *

I love people who call me and tell me they don't want to pay so much each month, but they also don't want to give up anything. What they're asking for is for me to give them free shit.

When I give you your options, they're not going to change just because you say to me, "Well, I guess I'll have to consider going to another carrier...."

Her options were as follows:
1) Keep going as-is and maybe incur a data overage.
2) Move to a higher data tier and pay $10 more per month.
3) Examine strategies for limiting her data use and moving to a lower data tier to save money.
Of course she didn't like any of these options, hence "I'm going to look at other carriers." She was on-track to remain under her data limit for the month--her usage was pretty consistent--and her primary complaint was that she gets text notifications that she's nearing her data limit every month. "My bill keeps going up and up!" Her bill does not keep going up and up; it's been consistent and her data plan hadn't changed since April or May.

I don't know. Somehow I have developed an instinct for detecting when someone wants to get free stuff. Or maybe it's just obvious when you deal with it all day every day.

* * *

Well, got some chores, as usual. Better get after 'em.
Sunday, July 24th, 2016
9:04 pm
#5281: STRAIGHT TO ELEVEN!!!!!111one-one: Part II!
Another one today. This time, lady was in an out-of-control panic over her cell phone bill being higher than usual. The main difference was an international calling feature which had been inadvertently left on. This bill wasn't as high as last month's, or May's, bills were, but it! was! a! CRISIS!

People like that just make me tired. Look: we can fix it. You don't need to panic. No one's going to die of this. (Unless you give yourself a heart attack.)

Like yesterday's. Holy smokes, guy, relax. Stop taking so much speed and slow down already.

Anyway, I get out of work late (which didn't bother me because I got to work late) and step outside into a friggin' steam bath. It wasn't that hot and muggy when I went to lunch! And it's raining! My glasses fog up immediately and I head out to the Jeep...in rain that was so warm I've taken showers that were cooler. Usually I react to the cold rain hitting my skin, but this rain wasn't even cool. If you jumped into a swimming pool that was at that temperature, it'd feel too warm. Tepid, even.

Drove home with epic lightning all around me. Beat the weather home, but if the radar is any guide it's not going to reach the bunker anyway. Once again, the weather broke and went around on both sides. Heh.

* * *

I, too, think Hillary has a strategy for hiding her focal seizures because they happen a lot. There's no shame in having focal seizures--there are drugs to help prevent them--but if it were general knowledge some people would hesitate to vote for her.

* * *

Return to the gold standard. Your big fancy socialism will have to go, though, because you can't print gold.

* * *

Even more interesting: on my way home, there was one quarter-mile stretch where the Jeep's windows fogged up on the outside. I'm used to that happening in summertime when I have the AC on, but only in spots--like the bottom center of the windshield, near the defroster vent. Today it was fogging up all over, so bad I had to keep the wipers on in order to be able to see, and the side windows were, too!

That was some damned supersaturated air, let me tell you.

* * *

I fell asleep fast last night. I was laying in bed, trying to organize my thoughts--as usual, fiddling with a story before going to sleep--and instead I just went klonk before I'd even gotten this experiment's setting established. I was tired.

I'd hoped that this stupidity of having to get up at 7 AM to be work at 9 AM only on Saturday and Sunday would come to an end with the reshuffle. That's what my old sup told us at the last time we had a gathering (which was an informal pizza lunch in a conference room). But no; it continues.

$5 says there's no team meeting tomorrow. That'll make it four weeks since I went to one, even though we're supposed to have them weekly. At least weekly. Well, with no supervisor, what do you expect?

Still no sign of the new sup, either. Reportedly she's "out" for some unspecified reason, so we occasionally have a temp sup "until [Sup] comes back".

Here's an idea: why don't we promote one of the team leads to sup and stick this absentee sup in some other role until she comes back? That seems like a better idea than leaving a half dozen people without a supervisor. Certainly it's not fair to us, to be left hanging without any support most of the time, forcing us to go to other teams to ask their supervisor to help us with problems or payments or the like. Also because we don't get coachings or other regular feedback like we're supposed to.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
8:49 pm
#5280: STRAIGHT TO ELEVEN!!!!!111one-one
Some people really need Xanax. And psychotherapy. Sheesh.

* * *

So: like yesterday, today it is murderously hot outside. Like "noon in the tropics" hot.

This morning I got up to get ready for work, and as I was heading towards the basement for some clean clothes left in the dryer I saw that the windows by the front door--the only single-pane windows this house has--were fogged up on the outside. Because the windows were slightly cooler than the air against them, which was full of moisture. I've lived here for 43 out of my 49 years and do not recall seeing that before.

Anyway, so it was murderously hot--I get in the Jeep and head to work, and with the AC on it was a reasonable temperature in the truck. Get to the gas station, go to gas up--glasses fog up. From being in AC for ten minutes. I didn't even have it on that high, nor was the air really blowing at my face.

Get gassed up, hit the road, get to work, glasses fog up again...and when I stepped into the building it was like walking into a meat locker. Blissful.

...I can sit at my desk at work, in this heat, without needing a fan. The fan makes me more comfortable, but I am reasonably comfortable without it...and sometimes I am too chilly and must turn it off.

That rules. It's the one excellent thing about this job: the thermostat is set for endotherms.

On the way home I--knowing that the house won't be that cool--prefer to drive with the windows open. Besides, it's firkin' summer and I'd like to enjoy the warm weather at least a little bit, since I am out of the house 55 hours a week for work and have little time for fun when I'm not working. Mrs. Fungus and I were talking about that last night: we both work overtime, we're both out of the house 11+ hours at a time, and on our days off that's when we get to do everything else that needs tending to. We can't do it before or after work; there's no time. And we don't have the luxury of taking long lunches whenever we have errands to run. So she'll be doing laundry and vacuuming while I'm cutting the grass and doing vehicle maintenance, and then we'll go off and run half a dozen other errands--and we don't have any time to relax and rest. I mean, we don't have any time for it. Even on our days off.

But I digress. Point is, to get some limited enjoyment of summer, I drive home with the windows open, and then when I get home, walk into the house...and it is blissfully cool.

In fact, I'm sitting here with no fans on, enjoying the quiet and cool. There's a storm brewing outside--it followed me home--and the sky is mighty dark to the northwest.

* * *

Well, there's absolutely no indication of what could have induced a man with dual German and Iranian citizenship to go nuts and shoot a bunch of people. His motive was completely unclear. No idea what could possibly have led this "tanned German" of Iranian descent to commit such violence.

* * *

Despite the good air conditioning, the graphic at the beginning of this post neatly sums up what I'd like to do tomorrow. We started mandatory overtime on April 16, to be ended sometime in May or June...and here we are at July 23 and it's still going strong and "It'll end when the next training class gets out of t-bay!" Which they've said every month since April. And then a class graduates from training bay and half of them quit, right out of the box.

Thursday there were never more than 50 people logged on to the system, and call volume was light; I was worried that there'd been some kind of massive quit-off or something. Normal staffing for a weekday is north of 70, and for most of the day it was below 40. Did half the reps call off or something?

Anyway, yesterday and today we were much closer to normal, so that's okay. At least the traffic-shaping algorithm worked on Thursday so we weren't inundated with calls.

Still no sign of training. Tomorrow begins the last week of July and I counted about four units of training which I haven't done yet, and won't do without being told to. But I've wised up: the last time there was a huge wad of training for me to do--which, ironically, was the last time I was on a team with no supervisor but for bungee bosses--it was four hours' worth, and I marked it all "done" before doing it...and then we went AHOD a half-hour later and I had to stop my training. Employer got paid by $Major_Telecom for the training time, but I never got the training.

So now I don't mark a unit completed until I've completed it.

But tomorrow is Sunday, and after that is Monday; and on Tuesday maybe I can get some work done on the vehicles. Both the Jeep and the Toyota need oil changes. Argh etc.
Friday, July 22nd, 2016
12:57 am
#5279: Today was quirky.
First off, let me say I managed to get to work on time despite everything, so it doesn't really matter all that much. But the traffic was terrible, and it only got worse when it began to rain (approx "monsoon") and by the time I got to work I wasn't sure whether I was coming or going.

Get to my desk and the headset was gone. Argh.

Well, it was a pretty decent day all told, though, and I had one guy who was minimally dickish. Not sure where this is going, but I guess I can't complain too much.

* * *

Scientists still can't find the luminiferous aether dark matter.

* * *

Sexism! But it's okay because it's sexism against men! And it's the DNC!

* * *

The problem with your faith in global warming is that reality does not agree with your religion. So when you set out to prove that global warming is happening by taking a cruise through the Arctic Sea, you may have some trouble with impassable sea ice even in boreal summer. Even if your belief states that there is no ice up there, because Global Warming.

Also, idiots.

* * *

I cannot wait to see the "positioning" for this one. Short form: $Major_Telecom is about to cut off unlimited data babies who use more than 100 GB per month.

Now, here's the thing: I don't blame them. As is pointed out in the article, a single line using 100 GB per month is about $450 worth of data, and the 100 GB plan that costs that $450 is meant to be shared among two or more lines. (The unlimited data plan is $50 a month, raised to that level just this year. People on those plans complain about this. That's why they are "unlimited data babies".)

So what's going to happen is, the unlimited data babies who actually use that much data are going to ignore the messages and the warnings, and call in when their data stops working, and pitch a fit over actually having to pay market prices for cellular data. And of course they'll complain about their "contracts" and all the other horseshit, somehow thinking they're smarter than the team of lawyers and accountants $Major_Telecom has at its disposal.

"Positioning" is the call center slave term for how you tell people they can't have what they want. "I do understand and sympathize with your position, Mr. Data Baby, but we can certainly look over your account and find a data plan which will best suit your needs." And so on.

* * *

"I need 150 GB per month! I'm going to go to AT&T if you don't give me what I want!"

"AT&T won't give you 150 GB of data per month for $50, either, shithead." No, you don't say that part.

And incidentally, notice that I had to learn this myself rather than hearing anything from work. Spiffy.

* * *

The economy is failing because there has been no bust cycle since 1921.
A good, old-fashioned, pre-1929 depression (like the short-lived, eleven-month depression in 1920-1921, before the days of "modern" central banking and "enlightened" Keynesian intervention "cures") is the only tonic that can clear out the malinvestment built up since the beginning of the fiat money era. That era began in August of 1971. That is when Richard Nixon, informed that U.S. gold reserves were precipitously declining as a result of President Johnson’s March 1968 action to reduce the gold reserve ratio from 25 percent to zero, "temporarily" suspended the convertibility of the U.S. Dollar into gold. That "temporary" measure has been in effect for forty-five years.
There should have been a depression in the 1970s; the Great Depression would have been shorter if the Keynesians had not gotten involved. Instead, here we are.

Instead we have a depression where none of the banks are allowed to fail, which simply throws good money after bad. And worse.

* * *

Knowledge and reason change like the season.

* * *

So it rained like crazy starting around 9:30 where I was; it rained all the way home, and it rains even now. It was hot today, and tomorrow it is supposed to be hotter.

First time in my career, I'm working somewhere that I'm comfortable. Everyone around me is freezing his ass off, but I'm comfortable.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
3:01 pm
#5278: Crimes against humanity
"Culprit of the greatest crime since the Holocaust confesses." Apparently Trump's wife gave a speech at the Republican convention which strongly resembled one given by Michelle Obama four or eight years ago, and everyone's up in arms over it because somehow this proves that Trump Is Not Fit To Be President.

I might buy that notion--might--when Trump starts talking about having campaigned in "all 57 states" and talks about army "corpse-men" and so on. But considering what a potential First Lady's job description is, laying out the same platitudes as a prior example somehow strikes me as less important than the question of how is her husband going to govern?

The people objecting to this speech are the same ones who believe they already know the answer to the latter question, and seek to do whatever they can to prevent it. Hence the tempest in a teapot.

* * *

When government causes an ecological disaster, it's an "incident". "This was an accident but we're investigating what happened." The EPA doesn't spool up when government spills two and a half million gallons of toxic waste; only when private industry does.

Let a private company try that line when they accidentally spill a barrel of bleach or something, and see how that works.

* * *

"My dad makes $8 million a year. I'm a professional activist." It's Tumblr so none of the links in the text are active. It'd be nice if the image linked to the source.

* * *

Definitely NOT Black Lives Matter, whatever else it is it's definitely NOT that! Bunch of black people in London congregate in Hyde Park. Violence ensues. Top cop says, "All I can be really clear about is that this is not a Black Lives Matter protest."

You may think it's not, cracker, but guess what?

* * *

2016 is setting new records for global warmenating, because if the raw measurements don't say so they'll be "normalized" until they do.

* * *

So a tab I closed had this in it:

Interestingly enough, it demonstrated that the frequency response of my computer speakers may not be everything it was advertised to be. Admittedly I have two fans running within a ten foot radius of my chair, so that's a factor, but letting the video play I found that the frequency response of my speakers rolls on around 31 Hz and rolls off somewhere north of 10.5 kHz. At least, given the ambient noise in the computer room right now.

When I use the old Skullcandy Ink'd earbuds, I can hear from 20 Hz through that same 10.5 kHz. North of that I start hearing only harmonics, basically artifacts of the audio compression. Since it is compressed digital audio (probably MP3) and not a pure analog sine wave, that might explain the lack of higher frequency response. Or it might just be that my ears are almost half a century old and the higher frequencies have started to go.

* * *

The gameplay "enhancements" for the upcoming Legion's Return expansion pack for WoW went live yesterday.

The character information has been greatly dumbed down again, leaving us with a bare handful of stats. Lots of the stat customization has been removed, finishing the tred started in Cataclysm, and which continued through Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. Now, when you make a character, there is one build, one skill rotation for that class and specialization; using anything else will leave you unable to keep up.

They can't really continue along this trajectory for much longer. I suppose they could reduce the skill rotation to one attack which changes and improves with experience; maybe they could take class specialization out of the game so that if you want to be a warrior, you must tank; if you want to be a priest, you must heal; and so on.

They should stop mucking about with the gameplay, though, and concentrate on content. The last two expacs have been pretty bad, content-wise; the dungeons from Pandaria and Draenor in particular are a whole bunch of no fun. The fights are tedious and there's no reason to do them, except "yay gear" (that you can get elsewhere); and of course you must still pass a test to get into heroics, which is also horseshit, because you can't get past a certain point in the game without it.

"Pass a test"--you have to go to the "proving grounds" and do this quest. The test is scaled to your character's ability level, so being at a higher level doesn't make it easier. It's timed, and it's purposely designed to use up your resources faster than they regenerate--with very little rest time between waves--so that when you get to the end and there's one enemy left you can't do anything to him, you fail, and must start over at the very beginning.

This is not how it works in dungeons, even heroic ones. If you run out of energy or mana or whatever, you have teammates who can help while you quaff a potion or wait for a cooldown. The combats aren't timed; they take as long as they take, but it's not critical that you conserve your resources perfectly and exactly the way the designers say to in order to beat this or that boss.

The most frustrating thing about a game like WoW is that it's designed to be played as the player wants to; if you want to make a gnome but quest in Elwynn Forest you can do that. If you want to play in zones which are beneath your level, there is nothing preventing it; no game mechanic or system overlord forces you to play in level-appropriate areas. If you want a challenge you can always head for orange or even red zones, and of course there's always PvP to consider.

But the "proving grounds" thing is an example of the game designers forcing you to play the game a certain way to succeed. You must do X and Y and Z, in that order, or else you will fail and have to start all over again. And I hate that kind of crap; it's why I never really got into arcade games. I don't like having to memorize patterns to succeed at a game. To have something like this present a bottleneck is infuriating; it's made worse by the fact that Blizzard has classically not done that with their other RPGs.

I miss WoW the way it was when Wrath of the Lich King was the latest expac; I miss it because there were a lot more options in how you played your character.

Oh well.

* * *

It's pretty hot outside today. I still haven't cut the grass, either. I faded out yesterday after 6 PM and didn't fade in again until it was almost dark. *sigh*

Well, plus side, the grass is still there.
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
3:26 pm
#5277: Contemplations
Having survived a coup attempt, Turkish leader Erdogan is now purging the shit out of his government. Turkey is a unique case for an islamic nation; the military is much more secular than the civilian government is and acts as a counterbalance to it. I'm nothing like an expert so I'm not going to try to analyze why the coup was attempted(though Erdogan has all the hallmarks of a totalitarian); it's Erdogan's response that I'm looking at here.

It's typical for an "authoritarian" leader to purge his enemies, especially when his power is challenged by a coup. Erdogan has had thousands arrested, and has effectively demolished the entirety of the Turkish higher education establishment, but this is merely the latest round of that; he's been running the totalitarian gamut (show trials, censorship, and so on) since he rose to power.

My worry is what's going to happen next. The next step along this trajectory is for mass executions to take place. It's where these things end up, sooner or later.

* * *

Every so often I start thinking about Can't Buy Me Love.

Yet Another 80's Teen Romance Comedy, it's probably the best example of them for several reasons. A bunch of actors who never went on to do much of anything else (with the exception of Patrick Dempsey and Seth Green), the "unpopular guy gets the popular girl" plot, an examination of stereotypes--there's a lot that's typical of the story. But every once in a while I start thinking about it again, because it's probably my second favorite movie in the genre. (The Sure Thing is first. I cannot stand Rob Reiner's movies, yet one of his is my favorite. Go figure. I never claimed to be consistent.)

The other day I was thinking about foreshadowing in particular. When we first meet our main character, Ronald Miller, he's a bespectacled nerd who mows lawns for spending money, and he's saving up his cash to buy a telescope--a really good telescope, about $1,000 in 1987 dollars--because he's an amateur astronomer. Nerd, in other words. In fact, our first view of him shows him sitting on a riding mower, wearing horn-rimmed glasses (in 1987) and a pith helmet. And the stage is rapidly set: he is cutting the grass at the Mancini house, home to Cindy Mancini, most popular girl in school, who comes home with her friends and utterly ignores him as he interrupts his struggles with a clogged discharge chute to tip his pith helmet and greet the girls.

The setup is that Cindy illicitly borrows a suede outfit from her mother and wears it to a party, where it gets ruined, and while Ronald is out shopping for his telescope he sees Cindy in distress and offers to help her by buying a replacement outfit for her...if she'll go out with him for a few months. "And that," finishes his proposal, "will make me popular."

The movie is probably free on any number of "on-demand" services, so I won't summarize further except to say that Ronald's plan works, after a fashion. The plot's not what I wanted to examine here. What I wanted to examine was foreshadowing. We see some uncharacteristic things in the movie which don't really register unless you think about them.

One of these things is Ronald's bicycle: it's a BMX bike, where the rest of his nerdy friends ride 10-speeds. And it occurred to me how true-to-life that was; when I was in high school, the popular guys (if they rode bikes at all, or prior to getting cars anyway) rode BMX-style bikes. People on the nerd side of the spectrum had 10-speeds.

Another is Ronald's physique. Where his friends are typical ectomorphs with no musculature, in the scene where he's washing Cindy's car Ronald is shown to have some muscle definition. Not as much as the jocks, but he's no sunken-chested wimp, either.

The movie does three things wrong. One, the climactic scene should not have ended with a round of applause; that was trite and corny even in 1987. Two, it takes repeated viewings to really understand what is happening during Ronald's "popular" phrase--things like the issue with his report card, his first day at school, and so on. The third--well, part of the theme of the movie is how popularity works, so I suppose I can excuse it, but a lot of the characters had very little independence of thought, to an overly simplistic extent. We do see it happen on occasion, but it's not obvious. The worst aspect of this can probably be chalked up to dramatic license, but Ronald's fall from the pinnacle is too total--it's everyone, where in reality he would have some people left on his side.

Overall, though, it's a very nicely done story, and I've always liked it. It's not art for the ages or anything, but it amuses me to think about it when I have nothing else to do but drive the Jeep to work.

Amanda Peterson (who played Cindy Mancini) had a spectacular voice. It's a shame she wasn't more successful.

* * *

The other day it occurred to me: Einstein developed his theory of relativity while working as a patent clerk. What does that say? To me, it says that even a hundred years ago government bureaucrats hardly did any of the friggin' work they're paid to do.


* * *

Western civilization has achieved more than any other civilization in history. Was it the Chinese who first sent men to the Moon? Did the Bantu invent the integrated circuit? Were the Hindu behind the development of the internal combustion engine? Did the Inca lay the first undersea cable? Was the theory of electromagnetism brought to Europe from an exotic locale by Marco Polo or Magellan? What nationality was Bessemer, who figured out how to make industrial quantities of steel? Who split the atom? Who invented calculus? Where did the germ theory of disease come from? Antibiotics? Vaccines?

Someone who lives in Lala Land. Yep, go ahead and keep believing that, shithead.

It's symptomatic of what is happening around the world that a politician can feel comfortable saying something like that in America, where all white people must fear the cries of tha's raciss! (Although the headline mischaracterizes what he says, of course.)

* * *

I laughed at this. Esp. "I wish it would suck MORE!"

* * *

We had a heck of a blow come through on Sunday. The weather radio (which has still not had its alarm table adjusted) blew off some four or five times as the weather service alternated between severe thunderstorm watches and warnings. I don't think it should alarm when a warning is downgraded to a watch, but maybe there are federal regulations or something for weather radios. Who the hell knows?

Though it took a while from the initial warning to the arrival of the weather, it was a pretty good soaking we got. We needed it--the grass was dry--but of course it means I must cut the grass today or tomorrow. We got a good rain on Saturday, too; that one I saw coming as I was walking into work, an immense circular wall cloud high in the sky with obvious updraft. It pounded rain for perhaps half an hour, then quit for the rest of the day.

I sat in the driveway for a while and watched the lightning, but whenever I do that I always get to thinking about the news story I read not too many years ago where a guy was mowing grass in sunny weather when he got struck by a bolt from a thunderstorm twenty-five miles away. A big thunderstorm has an immense electrical system that extends far from its nominal borders. So I decided to sit in the garage and watch (not that that would help if a long-distance "bolt from the blue" was going to hit me) but as I was moving there Mrs. Fungus got home and we went inside.

Anyway, once the storm hit, it rained continuously for hours. Lots of lightning, not a lot of wind, but plenty of rain. And as I said, we needed it...even though now I must cut the grass.

...but not right now. Maybe after six is when I'll start that, when the sun's heading down and the heat is less oppressive.

12:07 am
#5276: Well, that was unusual.
So today I, sitting in my new pod, had a day where no one bothered me and I was able just to sit and do my work at my own pace, uninterrupted, no dickheads nano-managing my login process, nothing. Just me, my phone, my computer, and nine hours of work. The calls were fairly decent, too. No idiots. Got out almost on the dot, too.

About time I had a decent day at that shithole.

I looked over the ten commitments again, too, and discovered that nine of them are false. The only one that's consistently upheld is the one about teams having designated areas where they sit. Agents understanding their pay? Equipment and resources being maintained in good working order? Monthly performance reviews? Weekly coachings? Agents getting help when they need it? Team meetings at least every week? Agents' schedules aligned with their supervisors? Escalating as far as necessary to ensure these commitments are met? Not so much. (I'm still missing one. The "training" one from yesterday was not, in fact, one of the commitments.)

It's kind of funny to look at that list and think about it. "Pulling all floor support" is violating the "help agents" one. I've never had a performance review. For the most part, the only coachings I've had have been critical ones, such as when I failed a survey. I haven't been to a team meeting in three weeks. I haven't met my new supervisor yet, who apparently works about two days a week. When I moved to this pod I had to fix my headset, and I've had to reboot my computer about three times a day since April due to problems with the system. I don't know how much is deducted from my paycheck for my health insurance and I've no idea how to find out. And since management is largely the source of all this, there's no escalating.

* * *

FBI rules out homophobia as a cause for the islamic terror attack in Orlando. No news yet on what could possibly have been the motivation for such a terrible act.

* * *

Global warming is causing rising sea levels and a huge increase in Antarctic ice. So: sea level is rising because ice is melting all over the world, but in the Antarctic more ice is forming, and it's all happening because of global warming.

* * *

Illinois is a shithole. It's broke and it's a shithole.

* * *

I can't believe it's finally my Friday night. I'm tired.
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
8:57 pm
#5275: The beatings will continue until I get SICK OF THAT CRAPSTACK--
Today I had a gander at the "10 Commitments" which is plastered on every vertical surface at work. I counted eight of them which are going unfulfilled constantly.

Team meetings every week? No.

Reps getting coachings every week? No.

Reps getting up-to-date training? No.

Escalating as far as needed if the other commitments aren't being met? Ah, hell no.

I can't remember them all; it doesn't matter. What matters is that all anyone there cares about is getting calls handled. It turns the environment into a sweatshop; it ends up chaining reps to the phones. Human beings need some variety, some chance to relax a bit. Team meetings and other activities which do not involve answering phone calls from customers are vital to maintaining your people in top form. That's why call centers--good ones--do all that stuff.

Today a customer called me, upset that she no longer had visual voice mail on her phone. That was how I learned that VVM has been sunsetted for some models. There was no training; there was no announcement.

$Major_Telecom pays my employer specifically to train reps. It's part of the contract. My employer frequently finds ways to take the training money but shortchange the training time. "Oh, we're All Hands On Deck! (AHOD) We've got to eliminate all shrink! No team meetings! No coachings! No training! Everyone has to be on the phones!" Yesterday we had another day where the dickhead operations manager decided that too many people called off and all floor support had to be pulled.

...and we proceeded to work a queue which was 10 deep for an hour or so. They didn't pull floor support on Thursday or Friday when the queue had seventy people in it, though. Nope! Too many people called off on a Saturday, so the people who showed up for work must be punished.

Now I am assigned to a team which has an absentee supervisor. Again. The second time in six months. I got to work this morning on time and proceeded to spend fifteen minutes trying to get my new workstation into shape, only to be taken to task by some asshat who then proceeded to stand over me and nano-manage my login process.

Part of getting my workstation in shape was fixing the goddamned headset, which was broken. Luckily I have a tube of super glue in my desk in case my eyeglasses come apart (no, I haven't gotten new glasses yet!) so I was able to glue it back together, but does anyone make an allowance for that? Why would they? Hey, that guy's not on the phone! GET him!

...and once I was logged in I proceeded to wait several minutes for my first call. Of course.

Went to Glassdoor.com and found this:
Started working here and from the beginning there were constant threats and stories on how they "let half of the last class go" the training sucked, and my class had no idea how to work the system when we went on the floor, the hours are inconsistent until you get out on the floor, and then it's almost impossible to switch shifts even if you have a valid reason. Supervisors play favorites big time. To make matters worse, first we had roaches, and then bed bugs from people bringing blankets in which I ended up bringing home! It got to the point that I would cry every day before work because I was so stressed out. It may be great for some people or other locations, but this is by far the worst call center I've ever worked in,

bugs and unsanitary people, false promises of pay and schedules, favoritism, terrible training

Advice to Management
open your eyes and find out why you have such a high turnover rate.
...and I thought that was about the center I work at; no, it's for one in Indiana. So apparently it's endemic to the company.

The training I did, it was thorough. You had to pay attention and learn, of course. The rest, however, is 100% dead on. This place treats people like replacable cogs, and when I find a new job they will lose a great deal of intelligence and expertise. It won't mean beans to their success or failure, of course, but I'm the guy that everyone on my team comes to if they can't figure out how to do something and the supervisor is busy.

Promotions might be in the offing. Might, if they can actually trick at least fifty people out of the next several training classes into staying there long enough to need team leads and supervisors. It's not the way to bet, though; the turnover is bad because the place is a sweatshop with wages below the industry average. Out of the thirty people who I started training with in August of last year, one is still employed with the company. (Besides me, I mean.)

I don't like what that says about my intelligence. Well, as Mom always said, "No brain, no pain!" But eventually things get bad enough to get through even my thick skull, and I've just about had my fill of that place.

* * *

Obamacare continues to function as designed. Illinois' co-op went bust, because it's impossible to provide cheap health insurance to everyone by adding 13,000 pages to the insurance laws while restricting competition further than it's ever been before.

It would have been cheaper and more effective just to have the federal government buy health insurance for people who didn't already have it at market rates as they existed when Obamacare was passed.

* * *

Black lives don't matter to blacks or Democrats.
Chicago is 32% white, but they commit only 3.5% of the murders. Over 96% of the murders are committed by non-whites. Essentially, it is young black men murdering other black men. White people are not in the equation and are not part of the problem. It’s a black problem framed as a gun problem by Obama and his lying apparatchiks.
* * *

WW2 ace got a medal for shooting down an American plane. I think that's a pretty cool story, and it just goes to show how weird things can get during a war.

Incidentally, in the image of the starboard gun, those instructions are prety nifty--and it mentions "gun heat" needing to be turned on shortly after engines have been started if the pilot expects it to be necessary. Considering that piston aircraft have carb heat (to keep the carb from icing) it's not at all surprising that fighters would have heaters for their guns, but it is interesting.

* * *

So I'm here writing a blog post. Critter is laying on my desk next to me. All of a sudden the weather radio begins its savage bleating, scaring the hell out of the cat.

Severe thunderstorm warning. Whee!

* * *

There was something I wanted to look up on-line when I had time. Naturally I now cannot remember what it was. *sigh*
12:08 am
#5274: That's $14 per kilowatt-hour, but who's counting?
South Australia pays $14,000 per megawatt-hour for renewable electricity. Absent government subsidies that is prohibitively expensive, far beyond a reasonable premium. Using other methods to generate electricity, it costs perhaps $100 per megawatt-hour, about ten cents per kilowatt-hour--which is a typical price for electricity.

"Once again renewables are demonstrating their total inability to cope without backup from real power generation systems," the article says dryly.

Bear in mind, right now it's winter in Australia. So electricity is extra-expensive right when people need it to run furnaces and things. The $14 that they're paying for a kilowatt-hour down there would buy enough electricity here to light 140 100-watt light bulbs for an hour.

* * *

From time to time, when going over to Og's cave for this or that, I saw yard signs: "PENCE MUST GO!" I kept meaning to ask Og who the hell Pence was, exactly, and why he had to go, but never thought of it; anyway I inferred that Pence was a Republican and probably the governor of Indiana, the guy who'd signed that religious freedom bill into law that affirms the freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment. And he had to go because progressive idiocy.

Now I believe I'd like to grab one of those yard signs and add "...to the White House!" Just to tweak their noses.

Further? All the blurbs in that post from commie-lib publications convince me that Pence is the best possible choice for Trump's running mate. And somehow I have a feeling I won't be the only one who feels that way....

* * *

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Three women decided to go tubing on the Muskegon river. They did not consult a map, nor did they do anything to prepare for emergencies. Then, even better, they listened to someone who told them that the river goes in a circle and would naturally deliver them back to their car.

Their votes count the same as yours. Enjoy.

* * *

This is also stupid. "Bonfire log", a mere pittance at $10. Apparently hipsters love them.

* * *

Blacks kill a hell of a lot more blacks than whites do. Blacks have also enslaved other blacks for a hell of a lot longer than whites ever did, and furthermore slavery continues in Africa to this day.

Facts are irrelevant to that crowd, though.

* * *

"Direct quote from a BLM protest in New York: 'What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want 'em? NOW!!' And then one of them got busy and went out and gave them some. Not a whole lot more needs to be said, really."

* * *

Let me say it again: gravity is an acceleration that arises from the shape of spacetime. It is not a force. Stop trying to unify it with the THREE fundamental forces. The reason gravity doesn't care about differences in quantum spin is the same reason gravity doesn't care about differences in mass.

* * *

Hillary is a terrible, terrible candidate. I think Vox Day's strategy for Hillary is the best one possible: just lay low and hope the demographics work in your favor and let the press (which is unabashedly and obviously in your camp) sing your praises. Whatever you do do not open your mouth in public because believe me, you're gonna "remove all doubt" faster than Bill can drop his pants.

Without doing any serious campaigning Trump has closed the gap with Hillary. What does that say? Furthermore, since the Democrats quashed Bernie's run and forced him to endorse Hillary, now it's a clear race between a major D.C. insider (Hillary) and an obvious outsider (Trump)...and the candidacies of Trump and Sanders, respectively, demonstrate that people in this country are sick and tired of insider candidates. It's just that the Democrat party previously emplaced methods to ensure that the anointed candidate was not elbowed aside by a dark horse.

Next few months should be entertaining.

* * *

"Don't you ever just want to yell into vegetables, honey?"

So there I was, trying to make dinner. I had just cut the top off a green pepper, and was cleaning it out, when Mrs. Fungus grabbed my hand, put her mouth to the open top of the pepper, and yelled, "HEEEELLOOOOO!" into it.

Me: "What the hell are you doing?"

Her: "I'm waiting for Mr. Tablecloth to come out!"

Me: "Damn it! He's not in there! He's in RED peppers!"

Yes, I rinsed out the pepper before I diced it and put it in the spaghetti sauce.
Friday, July 15th, 2016
12:18 am
#5273: It's very important that we avoid backlash against muslims.
It's most important that we not jump to conclusions about the motivation of the Tunisian driver of the truck-of-death.

Maybe he just watched Death Race 2000 too many times or something.

He's probably a white Republican Christian.

How did he get a truckload of guns and grenades in France, which severely curtails private ownership of weaponry? SHUT UP, HITLER!

* * *

THIS. Want to move to Canada if Trump wins? Why not Mexico, you racist?

* * *

Replace your C-64's 6510a with an Atmel microcontroller. That's pretty firkin' cool.

* * *

Driving home from work tonight--with my severely truncated hair, I could have the windows open without having to constantly pull the hair out of my eyes. Had the cell phone running Pandora, and listened to 70's and 80's rock all the way home.

It was very, very nice. Some small compensation for a day's worth of stupidity.

To be honest I didn't have that bad of a day today. The best part was the drive home, though. I found out that my new supervisor averages two days a week in the office--wouldn't you love to have that schedule? What the fuck.
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
9:53 pm
#5272: That being the case, why are we paying $2.40 a gallon for gasoline?
There's a worldwide glut of refined gasoline.

Here's what happened: around February (as you may recall) the price of oil hit its nadir and gasoline was cheap, cheap, cheap. I paid something like $1.28 a gallon for it in Indiana; it was a bit higher in the Fungal Vale but not that much higher.

Then rigs started going out of production and Chinese demand rose, allegedly, which hauled the price up by more than a dollar, to flirt with $3 a gallon before settling slowly to its present level.

...[W]hat many thought was stable Chinese domestic demand, ended up being just the filling of every possible container, not to mention the now almost full SPR, in lieu of actual domestic commodity demand. As such, China's sagging demand as the economy slows once more has left the country’s oil and metal refiners with huge surpluses they are increasingly looking to sell abroad.
And so now only do we still have a glut of crude oil; we have a glut of refined products.

"There is much more on this topic," the article's penultimate paragraph concludes, "but at its core it is a very simple story of too much supply and not enough demand."

4:04 pm
#5271: Well, that's all done, just in time for work tomorrow. *whimper*
Got three recalls done on Mrs. Fungus' car, and got my ears lowered, finally. I've been wanting to do the latter for weeks.

"Three": besides the power window master switch (which could catch fire) and some steering column wiring (which could catch fire) apparently there was a reflash for the ECM for some reason or another that the service writer really couldn't explain to me. (So I Googed it; it's something about "smart stop technology" which apparently cuts engine power if both throttle and brake are applied at the same time. No burnouts with this car!) They offered to replace the battery and positive battery cable, rotate the tires, change the plugs, and cabin air filter for a pittance ($780-ish) and I declined.

IDK what's up with the battery cable; I'll check that a little later. They said "there's some corrosion on it" but $5 says it's just normal cruft.

The service writer told me "three hours" but it was closer to 1.5, and I stopped at SuperCuts for my semiannual haircut. Mrs. Fungus prefers my hair long, but I do not; still, I generally defer to her preferences. But if I'm going to be job-hunting I want to be neatly trimmed.

None of the waiting mattered; I'm still trying to finish The Chessmen of Mars. After that I have a handful of other Barsoom novels, through number 10, Llana of Gathol; I think I'm issing volume 7, but I'm not certain.

Regardless, I'll get there when I get there.

* * *

Behold the glorious workers' paradise, Venezuela!

* * *

Synthetic marajuana is bad for you. It really is.

* * *

I was looking at the manga I drew in the past and found a few panels which were genuinely good, and made me wish that I knew how to draw. Argh etc.
Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
10:36 pm
#5270: Losing their grip on the reins?
Hillary Clinton is a symptom of a larger problem.
There's another way to look at it. That is, the ruling class has lost control of the reigns and they can no longer police themselves. Hillary Clinton has no business being president. It's absurd even without the massive corruption and criminality. Hillary's crowning achievement was marrying Bill Clinton 50 years ago. Even a deeply corrupt and incompetent ruling class should be able to filter out the likes of Hillary Clinton. The fact that they cannot bring themselves to flush her from the system when they have an iron clad criminal case against her is ominous.

There's another angle here. The whole "Arkanside" thing is a fun gag, but it does appear that the ruling class is playing much tougher with one another. Judge Roberts was either blackmailed or threatened into reversing his opinion on ObamaCare. That’s incandescently obvious. FBI Director Comey's erratic performance yesterday suggests there's more here than just a man suddenly changing his mind about law enforcement. He has prosecuted many others for these exact same crimes.
If the ruling class has indeed lost their grip on the reins, it means bad things for the little people.

In Game of Thrones, by and large, it is not the nobility who suffers when the nobility wars against itself. Occasionally this or that noble is killed, but by and large the vast armies of smallfolk are the ones who do all the bleeding and dying.

This AoSHQ headline says it all:
Let a Thousand Treasons Bloom: Our Nation's Attorney General Refuses to Say If The Law Means What It Says When It Says That Giving Secret Information to a Non-Cleared Person is Illegal
...because it only applies to people who are not Democrat Presidential nominees. If Hillary Clinton were a Republican, she would have been arrested and jailed when this story first broke--last year--and the primaries would have excluded her entirely.

People who have committed lesser crimes than Hillary--violations of the same law--have been sent to prison for a long time. Because they're not powerful Democrats.

* * *

What, indeed, if whites start hitting back? It will not take much more to spark genuine race wars in the United States. If blacks begin killing whites solely because they're white--if this idiocy becomes widespread--do not expect whites to take it laying down. Do expect a return of Jim Crow and Judge Lynch.

It would be bad. It would be very bad. The attitude would be, "Well, we tried treating you as equals, and this is what you do? Go to the back of the bus. In fact, get off the bus entirely and walk. We're done with you." Segregation would return with a vengeance.

Remember Francis Porretto's story? This one? That's what would happen.

It's not just America. What more proof do you need of a hate crime than someone yelling, "I HATE WHITE PEOPLE!" and punching a white person? If a white person yelled "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE!" and punched a black person, that'd be a hate crime, and they'd talk about it on the nightly news for two months. This double standard has existed for a very long time, and it has not gone unnoticed...and it rankles.

Meanwhile, elsewhere--where it is not so racially charged as it is in the US--the segregation bandwagon is picking up steam.

* * *

Cheating enabled and encouraged by faculty in order to make the school look better than it is. Why not? The faculty makes out fairly well in the deal. Sure, the kids get screwed when they try to do other things and find out they're not all that well-educated after all, but that's someone else's problem, right?

One of the things that bothers me considerably about my job is that it forces me to work that way: focus on resolving the issue well enough that the caller rings off and gives me a good survey, and don't care about the long-term complications. Can I get this guy to decide to keep his extraneous phone line until the end of this conversation so I don't get the disconnect on my metrics? Will giving this woman a $20 credit, even though she's not entitled to it, keep her from down-checking me? Can that other person be transferred to another department so I don't have to spend an hour trying to figure out how to get e-mails on his phone, thus jacking my number of calls handled for the day?

It's bad for me. It's stressful. I want to work in an environment where I'm allowed to fix the problem without having to resort to tricks or chicanery, without having to fob an issue off on someone else. The requirements of the job are just contradictory enough, though, that I must, because to do otherwise is to risk censure and firing. That's what I hate most about it; if I had the power to fix things without doing that kind of shit it wouldn't be nearly as bad.

That's why I want to go work a job where I sit at a workbench and do whatever-it-is they pay me to do, without having to talk to too many people. Something technically demanding where I am empowered to do what is needed to fix the problem in front of me. Where I come home from work tired because I achieved--because I fixed things and made them work!--not because I'm beaten down by stress and the strain of trying to tap-dance as fast as I possibly can to avoid bad surveys and metrics.

That's what I want. I don't mind hard work but it has to be useful, it has to matter to me...and saving someone $10 a month on their cell phone bill just doesn't mean anything to me. (And it doesn't happen very often. Especially now that they have the $New_Major_Telecom_Plan.)

Well, I've got a feeling that things will be changing soon, that another job is on the horizon. I just need to keep punching until it gets here.
2:34 pm
#5269: Oh...well, then.
Decided to leave that last post to stand on its own and do the linkaround here.

...but it got that way because my errands are done. I was able to accomplish everything that needed doing right here at my desk, with the telephone. I did not, as I had feared, have to drive to Joliet (an hour each way, about) to make a partial payment of the property taxes; and once that task was done I was able to get everything else attended to quickly. Tomorrow I get to spend a few hours at a Toyota dealership while the recalls get done on Mrs. Fungus' car, something we've been putting off for so long that one recall notice has her old name and address on it, from before she was Mrs. Fungus.

But that's okay! I have been reading the anthology of Barsoom novels I got lo these many months ago, and have made it to The Chessmen of Mars; having just started that story I will sit in the noisy and uncomfortable waiting room at the dealership and read. It'll be fine.

* * *

This woman needs not to be in public office, that's for sure. A California councilwoman is saying that the cops in Dallas who got shot by black racists deserved what they got.

* * *

This was part of the game plan all along. Obamacare wasn't meant to bring affordable health insurance to the masses; it was meant to be an unholy mess, a dumpster fire of epic proportions, specifically so that Democrats could say that we needed to fully socialize the medical system.

Obama also needs to be de-elected soonest.

* * *

After pulling US troops out of Iraq, suddenly:
The United States will send 560 more troops to Iraq to help establish a newly retaken air base as a staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul from Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday on an unannounced visit to the country.
560 more troops. How many are there now? Why are they there? What will the new troops do? What "bridging" technology do we have that is so arcane that a reasonably intelligent man can not be trained to use it in an afternoon?

* * *

Okay, the Dallas shooter was dangerous to police. Does that mean they were justified in sending a proto-Dalek in to exterminate him? Somehow I doubt it. They probably, with patience, could have captured the man alive, without blowing him up. But police don't do that any longer; if anyone resists arrest, they simply kill him. It's easier, and it's not like anyone goes to jail for it.

Chicago Boyz compares America in 2016 to Weimar Germany. Violence is a tool of the left. In fact, it's their favorite tool. Violence gets them what they want, very quickly, without all that pesky voting and stuff. It's even better if the violence is caused by people not connected with them except idiologically, so that way they can deplore it publicly while rubbing their hands with glee and not letting a good crisis go to waste.

These two links may be related.

* * *

I have found that if I make spinach dip using a Knorr vegetable dip packet, sour cream, chopped spinach, and mayo, I like it quite a bit. If I buy the spinach dip pre-made, I do not like it at all.

The nice thing about this stuff is that it's actually fairly low-carb but for the crackers or chips used to convey it from bowl to mouth. Sour cream, mayo, spinach--all this stuff is good for you, better than a bowl of popcorn or pasta.

...all those years of "common sense" that I'm having to unlearn. I still cringe reflexively when contemplating fettucini alfredo, until I realize that sauce is the best thing for you! The noodles are the bad part!

* * *

It's stinkinously hot outside today. We woke up at 10 AM and I stuck my nose outside around 11, and promptly pulled it back inside. I have other things that want doing, but I don't have to do them right now; I'm going to relax a bit and do something fun.
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