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Forgot to mention.

When walking around the noxious chemical section in a hardware store,
people think you're weird if you're opening each one, sniffing it,
and putting it down again.

I was just checking that "kerosene" really is "paraffin", but whatever...


Some complimentary things:
1) Yay for American telcos
2) Yay for American ATMs
3) Yay for American customer service

In order:

This morning, I rang up Verizon with some questions about my bill. The
lady on the phone answered all the questions with any problems at all.

And it seems I'm not the only computer geek in the world who avoids high
tech stuff at home as much as possible; the woman understood exactly what
I meant when I said that "I don't want caller ID because I've deliberately
bought a phone with as few features as possible, which means it doesn't
have a display on it". "You sound like a computer person" she said. "Yes",
say I. "Lots of computer people are like that", came the response.

I just went to get money out of the hole in the wall while holding
[surprisingly enough] a coffee. There's a little shelf jutting out from
the wall, that's about cup-sized. Every other ATM I've ever used had
sloping edges everywhere to deliberately stop you from standing stuff
on it.

Finally, I guess it's kind of a bad sign, but it's pretty neat when you're
listening to someone in the coffee shop giving the new guy instructions
and is telling him how you like your coffee, ensuring that he'll
remember it.


Hmmm. A couple pieces of news:

The whole McDonalds coffee thing. [Thanks, M Vance]

It seems that the facts of the situation include McDonalds serving coffee
dangerously hot and the woman getting a little more than a "scalding".

I'm trying to refrain from judging this situation, but I'm still pretty
convinced that spilling coffee on yourself isn't cause for a lawsuit. I
make my coffee at home dangerously hot. Although I can understand
some danger in serving coffee too hot, I think that McDonalds knowing
about this an deliberately doing nothing could be considered them doing
something that is something that punters want. If more than half your
customer base want something, what're you gonna do?

All of which is vaguely moot since I like neither McDonalds coffee
nor food, and haven't actually set foot in a McDonalds in years.

TechTV [thescreensavers, to be exact] have just e-mailed me about
"I am very interested in talking with Greg Alexander about Text-mode
Quake, or you about Text-Mode Unreal Tournament, and a potential
appearance on our show...."

Which is nice.


OK. So the guy has actually shaved a fair bit off the price [about 100
bucks] and replaced more of the hardware than he was planning to. So
that's good.

That doesn't mean I like the Jetta.


Yes, I'm in a bad mood.

It's lost on me; you're busily raping customers for work you're doing
on their VERY old car [350 USD for just the labour!]. Two things:

1) Imagine this car is, very likely, going to be coming in for many more
services in the coming future. Is it not a good idea to levy at least a
little of the grand-or-so it's gonna cost them in total, on the grounds
that in the long run you stand to make a SHITLOAD of cash?

I mean, think about it. How is it good business driving away [pardon
the pun] customers that are, in effect, cash cows?

2) Adding insult to injury, said customer hires a car from you.
Their car is OLD. On it's way out. They'll likely be buying a new car
sooner or later.

So why do you, as a dealership, give them one of your really shit cars?

Not that I have anything against the VW Jetta specifically, but it's a
NASTY car. It doesn't vroom [I'm 22. I'm likely to be wanting a vroomy
car sooner or later]. It drives, quite frankly, worse than my classic
Beetle. Now, to be honest, my Beetle is actually a /fun/ car to drive,
but I see no sense in advertising with that thing. [Apologies if
you're a Jetta driver, but you could have done /so/ much better]

Surely good business at this point would be to give them a cheap deal
on the repairs, get them on your good side. In the long run, they'll
keep going to you lots, often, with their crappy beat-up current car.
When the time comes, the likelyhood is that they'll buy the car from a
dealer they trust. When they're hiring a car from you while you're doing
the repairs, it's a MAJOR advertising opportunity. Don't blow it with
a Jetta.

Perhaps it's just me, but all Pacific Volkswagen have to do is save me
a couple hundred bucks now, and, in doing so, pretty much garauntee many
many thousands of dollars of business in the future?

And for reference, if you see someone driving around in a car that says
"Pacific Volkswagen Courtesy Car" on the rear window, it should be noted
that it's not a courtesy car. I'm even getting done for the hiring of
that puppy. Admittedly, I'm paying less that I would at Budget, but not
a lot.

Gnargh. One of these days I'll write a whole stack of complimentary
stuff in this .plan. I promise I didn't actually come to this country
with the sole intent of hating it here. It's just that I moved to what
has now been described as "the scrotum of the states".

And in other news, the lass at the coffee shop has a nice bum.


Amusing conversational nuances for the modern man:
"It's Wednesday today - hump day!"

You see, apparently that's a perfectly wholesome statement to use to
your customers at {too early} in the morning while all they want is a
cup of coffee. She's a random lass that works in my local coffee
shop. It's just still a bit disarming when she's looking unusually
relaxed and says that to you first thing in the morning.

Apparently, it's that wednesday is the "hump" in the week, so if you
can get over it, the rest of the week gets better or something. Which
I realised after the initial mental images had been & gone...


It's not a good sign when your two new hard drives arrive in a box
branded as "Australian Gold Tanning Products".


And in retrospect, I suddenly find my earlier comments about people not
knowing how to drive are justified; in England, there are 4 major things:
1) Emergency stop
2) 3-point turn
3) Reverse round a corner
4) Parallel park

In England, you have to do #1 and two of the others [chosen by the
examiner]. Here, I had to do none of the above. Which, now I think about
it, goes partway toward explaining the fact I've seen people rearend
other people multiple times on the road since I got here.

The hardest thing I had to do here is reverse in a reasonably straight
line. Which I did badly [looking in the mirror not turning around],
and I still passed.

In other news, I've upgraded to slackware-current, have installed ALSA,
lots of other new-age things that I've been meaning to do for ages,
and I'm impressed. It's nice.

Note: You know your audio library is "too big" When the CVS, bzip2ed,
is nearly 9M. Even after I stripped out the win,mac,Be,and test stuff,
it still came in at a 2.5M download. I've no idea at which point an audio
API becomes "too big", but I'm pretty certain 9M is the wrong side of it.


Ways to get the attention of a driving test examiner really really
  really quickly, #34:

When he walks up to you and asks who was sitting next to you while you
drove there on your driving permit, tell him you drove here on your own.

I made 9, count them, 9 mistakes on your driving test. Two were for
speeding [both backwards and forwards], and the other 7 are all in some
way related to the fact my neck hurts like hell to turn it. So I'm not
feeling too bad about it...

Just to clarify, that means "yes, I now have a full driving license
for CA"


I hate that.
I walked in on Friday evening, turned on the computer. Fair enough.

The 40G games drive had bitten the dust. Fine, except 15G of
non-trivially-replaceable data also went with it [downloads, builds,
documents, etc]

Pffft. So I walk over to the freezer to put a couple ice trays into
it. Holding them, a book falls off the top of the freezer when I open
it. Spreading water all over the floor, and messing up a book.

Within one minute of walking into the appartment, I realise it's just
not gonna go well...

Other news?
I have some furniture in my appartment, finally. A love seat, a semi-comfy
chair, a table, a lamp and some other stuff. All generously donated by
one of my aunt's friends who's moving to a smaller place.

I hired a cargo van from Budget to get the furniture back. The single
most un-vroomy thing I've ever driven. Thoughts:
1) Why is it necessary to initial pieces of paper saying "this makes
wider turns that you're used to in your sedan"? If someone needs to
be told that, then they shouldn't be allowed on the road in anything,
let alone a behemouth van.
2) Why is it covered in dents when I get it? I mean, one or two dents
is fine. But these puppies are /covered/ in dents...

People in this country are shit drivers. I mean, /really/ shit.
Before I left England, I only ever saw one accident. Interestingly,
it was the one where I was involved.

I've seen more accidents first hand since I've moved here than I'd seen
during my entire life in England.

I know that people say "there are more roads here with more people on
them", but, as a percentage, there are several thousand percent /more/
cars on the road here that're all dented up than there are in England.

I suppose I oughta say something good so, "Carpool lanes are a good
idea". Seriously. And that's about all that I've found here that's good.

Even the police here are dangerous drivers. They're far too agressive,
to the point where I query whether or not they're a major source of
accidents. Like, from what I've seen, they're more agressive than almost
everyone else on the road.


Having read over all of that, I appear to be a prime candidate for a
terrorist for "attacking the American way". Well, here's the deal: I
have nothing to hide. I don't encrypt my e-mail, anything like that. I
really do pity the poor bugger that has to read through all of my e-mail
[if, for some reason, I'm flagged and they're reading it all].

"How's things over there?"
"Nothing changes"
"Chunky misses you kids"
"Us kids miss Chunky"
And so on, and so forth.

And some poor bugger has to read it all. Hahahahaha.

And while we're at it, I hope some policeman comes knocking at my
door. It won't happen, from what I gather, but I'd love to spend half
a day watching someone get paid to sift through my dirty laundry. That
would just amuse the hell out of me.


Apparently, I'm currently in the right place to be at the forefront of
technological developments, various. LA is "the place to be"

But man, there's some stuff here that's just... backwards. Socially,

Has it occurred to you people that it's a bad thing that your policemen
carry guns? Surely in any civilised society, this crap isn't needed?

"We're all allowed to carry guns to protect ourselves". Bollocks. Get
the hell rid of them. You do not have a fundamental human right to carry
guns. Really. I promise. In England I had to jump through many many
hoops to get a license for a shotgun. Anything that holds more than 3
rounds? Not a chance. And have I /ever/ heard of anyone "protecting"
their home with one? Of course not. You catch a burglar, they tend to
run off. In this country, you catch a burglar, they shoot you. /now/
tell me guns are a good idea for everyone.

There's something very badly wrong when you go into a fast food
restaurant, and there's inch-thick perspex between you & the servers.
I mean, /badly/ wrong.

It is my considered opinion that there should be some manner of
sanity-checking in this country. Any lawsuit that could conceivably
be "frivolous" should be voted on by 150 random people in any
street. Anywhere. If you think it's fair that 12 people can vote on
something, why not 150?

Surely, in any even semi-sensible society, you'd take the guy, who thought
it would be safe to put his winnebago on cruise control and walk into
the back, out the back and laugh at him. Point at him, even. People like
that are the subject of ridicule in England. There's a certain level
of stupidity that's simply beyond rational explanation and so should
therefore be laughed at. And yet, you people waste valuable time on
it. You take 12 productive people, and waste a few days of their time.

And that woman who bought a coffee and spilled it on herself, then
sued McDonalds for serving coffee too hot because it scalded. Well, hot
diggety-damn; now anybody dumb enough to drink McDonalds coffee gets it
cold. That's nice.

Two thoughts on this:
1) She thought she'd make a quick buck
2) She really is that dumb
I think it's a happy medium, but things like that need to be thrown out
of court and the sue-er should pay for wasting everybody's time.

Of course, there's more, but I'm bored of writing now.

In conclusion, this is a completely backward country, and I want the
fuck out of it. Until you stupid fuckers grow up, I'd rather be in quaint
old England where people tend not to shoot each other, say hello, and
I can walk from one place to the next.

[note: old plan entries are all avilable at]

When this .plan was written: 2002-11-01 14:40:40
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