Friday, December 12, 2014

Recent Photo

This is what I looked like as of about an hour ago, when I got very frustrated by Virgin Mobile's repeated failure to carry my image to someone else's phone. At least it isn't a Verizon phone though. There are two things you should know about me.
1. I will become Amish before ever using Verizon for my cell phone service again.
2. I will abandon even Amish levels of technology and become a hunter-gatherer before ever talking to one of Xfinity's customer retention specialists again. Stop trying to take me for a sucker. Stop making me have to threaten to cancel my service in order to keep from being charged $80 a month for Internet access. Because I don't make threats. I make promises, and I keep them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things to take away from the Gamergate controversy.

I'm not going to take sides in this idiotic debate. Seriously, two months of shouting over a video game review? Anyway, this is all stuff that both sides should have learned by now.
1. There will be jerks and sociopaths on all sides of any controversy. Just because Nixon created the EPA doesn't mean that environmental regulations are a bad idea. Just because Josef Stalin was part of the Allies doesn't mean you should support the Axis.
2. Being a jerk doesn't help your cause either. People have an understandable bias against good ideas when they hear them from bad people.
3. Being offended doesn't mean that you are right.
4. A review of a work of art cannot be completely objective. Whether it is a novel, a movie, gourmet food, or a video game, different people can have different opinions of it. A review reflects the opinion of the reviewer. Opinions aren't right or wrong, but they can be unpopular. Roger Ebert gave 3.5 stars out of a possible 4 to 'Phantom Menace'. Any reviewer can give any rating to anything.
5. Sending death threats to activists only serves to convince them that their cause is vital and just.
6. Decrying offensive content of video games only serves to boost sales.
7. Nothing ever gets resolved on Twitter.
8. If we're arguing, don't send me a video. I hate watching preachy videos on the Internet. You can blame Upworthy for that. Consider yourself lucky that I'm reading what you've typed. If your reason and logic won't convince me, then talking heads and dramatic music won't work either.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why Red Cross Pheresis Donors Should Be Allowed to Play Civilization On Red Cross Computers

A pheresis donation is where a blood donor donates blood platelets and plasma. A needle is inserted into the donor's arm and blood is extracted by a pheresis machine. This machine separates red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. The red blood cells are returned to the donor, and the plasma and platelets are stored in plastic bags. The plasma has various important medical uses. The platelets are used for medical patients who have trouble forming blood clots.

Pheresis donors are NOT paid, because the FDA prohibits blood products from paid donors to be used in patients. We do this because it saves lives. The ideal pheresis donor has an AB+ or AB- blood type, because these blood types lack the antibodies that could trigger rejection in donors with different blood types.

This process takes several hours, during which the donor just sits in a reclining chair with a needle in his or her arm. .Sometimes the process can be quicker if the donor has a needle in both arms. The donor has the option of watching daytime television oc PG or G rated movies. If the donor has an arm that doesn't have a needle in it, then that they can use their free arm to use a computer to the extent possible with one hand. But since this is a shared public computer, that severely limits what I'm able to do with it. The only games on this thing are Pinball, Solitaire, and Minesweeper.

Yes, it's a first world problem. I'm healthy enough to share my blood with cancer patients and save their lives. And I'm bored out of my mind during the process.

So I propose that additional games be installed if donors are willing to pay for the Red Cross to have its own copy. The games must be rated "E for Everyone" and be able to be played with a trackball mouse. One such game that can be played for hours on end is Civilization. It is a wholesome, educational game in which the player builds a civilization from scratch, founding cities and building libraries, universities, and a military to protect those cities.  If you played it, you know how addicting it is. Other games will make your thumbs sore and your brain numb. People who play Civilization can and do play it for hours. A single game of Civilization can take 24 hours or more to complete. So pheresis donors would have to play their games over the course of several visits.

Civilization is a game that reminds players of the greater good. The donors who enjoy this game will be motivated to make donation appointments on a regular basis. Ultimately, this would benefit the cancer patients and hemophilia patients that the Red Cross is trying to help.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Riding my bike to work

I was riding my single speed bike to work. I came across a steep incline, so I pedaled harder. The chain snapped. In hindsight, I should have carried a repair kit with me. I used the Fred Flintstone method to get me the rest of the way, and I still made it to work on time.

I showed the broken chain to my coworkers. "Anybody know of a bike shop downhill from here?" Nobody laughed. One guy asked if I had anyone I can call.

Sure, I got people I can call, but I decided I should take a crack at fixing the chain. It turns out that a pin popped out of a bushing, and two outer links were bent out of shape. I was able to fix these with pliers I bought at the gas station. I was able to make it home as long as I took it easy and didn't put too much stress on the chain. I still need to buy a new one, though.

Now there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. I've helped others when they needed help, and other people have helped me many times. But try to avoid needing that help in the first place.

Self-reliance. Pass it on.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A novella I wrote about a suicidal person is suddenly relevant again.

I didn't plan on writing anything about Robin Williams. Celebrity deaths are talked about so much that I really don't think I have anything unique to contribute to that particular conversation. Then I remembered "Wasted Life" a story I wrote about a suicidal woman who intends to kill herself near a hospital in order give her organs away. It's a dark comedy, and it's definitely not appropriate for sensitive people. But I had a couple friends who attempted suicide in the past read it. And they loved it. So if this story brought joy to people who really, really needed it, then I probably should be doing more to promote this book.

 

 "Wasted Life" is the story of Angela Fulton, a depressed woman who makes an Internet video announcing her intent to kill herself in ten days and give her organs away. During those 10 days, she has to stay one step ahead of the authorities or else get locked away under suicide watch. People reach out to her, either because they care about her or because they have a loved one who can use her organs.

This book is available for 99 cents for Nook, Kindle, and other platforms. For all copies sold until the end of September 2014, my share of the proceeds will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Smart phone apps that should exist

1) Car Chat: You remember CB radios? Let's replace those with smartphones as well. Download the app, pick out your handle and put it on a bumper sticker. Tag your account with the make, model, and color of your car. Now you'll be able to say "DackBird29, your tire is flat." or "Blue Dodge Caravan, your tail light is out" and the other driver will actually be able to hear you. And if someone starts ranting like an 12 year old on Xbox Live, then that driver can be banned from using the service. It can even have a Reddit-style karma system for when you provide roadside assistance to fellow drivers. Altruism is great and all, but it's just so much better when you get recognition for it. 2) The Bike Clip App: I got a bike clip for my phone, and it has a nasty habit of pushing the volume control and the camera button on the side of the phone. So I have a lot of accidental pictures of the front tire of my bike that I have to delete. So it would be fabulous if I had an app that turned off the side buttons when I have my phone in my bike clip.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A couple thoughts about texting.

First of all, remember that anything you text can be screenshotted and used against you in the court of social media. So don't be a dick, and don't show your dick. Secondly, don't get bent out of shape if someone is slow to respond to a text. Maybe their phone's battery died. Maybe they are busy or distracted. Maybe they are trying to compose a witty, intelligent response to what you just said. Maybe they fell asleep if it's late at night. If getting a response is that critical, just call the person and get the conversation over with. If not, go text somebody else or play Angry Birds. Better yet, play Ingress and get out of the house.