Category Archives: Rant

DC Derecho Aftermath: Quit bitching about your power

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How had most of us gone through our lives and never heard the term “derecho” before? Friday’s storm was insane. I had never seen a storm of that intensity and I will admit that I was pretty freaked out while it was going on.

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Over a million people had their power knocked out. Damage was so widespread that there are a lot of people still without power four days later. With the temperature hovering around the 100 degree mark during the duration, it really does suck for some people out there.

While it blows to not have power, I am getting pissed at these assholes all over any and all newscasts that are demanding their power be restored yesterday. It is as if every channel is going out of their way to find the frumpiest housewives in the area to loudly complain about their respective power company. It is as if they think all it takes is someone from the power company to flip a switch and everything will just turn back on.

It doesn’t work that way. These crews are busting their collectives asses to get power restored.

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It takes these crews a long time, in sweltering and dangerous conditions, to get these repairs done. For example, right down the road from my place there is a stretch of road that was really hit hard. It looks like King Kong burst through the trees and demolished a whole stretch of power lines. (It is this stretch of road where a young guy was killed when one of those trees landed on his car on Friday night.) There have been at least 3 repair crews working on this one area, nonstop, since Saturday morning. They were still there when I drove by there about an hour ago.

3 crews working on 1 block for over 3 days. Consider that more than half of the Metro area had their power knocked out. Now try to figure out the manpower it will take to completely restore power to the region. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the numbers. I am pretty sure there isn’t this fleet of cherry picker trucks and an army of technicians to man them that are just lying about waiting for a storm like this one.

I keep hearing people complaining about how unprepared the power companies were for this disaster. It isn’t like this was a hurricane where we have 3 to 5 days to prepare for the brunt of the storm. This was a hurricane force storm that developed mere hours before it raged through our neighborhoods. There was nothing they could have done to brace for this.

But as I sit here watching the news it is still nothing but people complaining about the power companies doing nothing. Even though, in Northern Virginia alone, more than 400,000 of the initial 470,000 people without power are back on the grid.

People should be treating these guys fixing their power like the residents of Colorado Springs are treating their fire fighters. Bring them drinks and snacks if they are in your neighborhood, shake their hands and say thank you.

But please, if a news crew from a local TV station is in your face, quit bitching about your “ineffective” power company.

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Why Microsoft is now at the very top of my hate list

Sit back and let me tell you a story of frustration and woe. It is a story of a gamer, his Xbox, (but truth be told, I use my Xbox more for Netflix than anything else these days) and the nightmare that is Microsoft’s support.

It all began back on the morning of March 19, 2011. It was just a typical Saturday morning…or so I thought. It started the same as most other Saturdays as was sitting there drinking my cup of coffee and checking my emails. I had no idea that this was the day that would start my 4 month-long bout of endless frustration with Microsoft.

As I started going through my emails I saw an email from Microsoft that read:

Dear XXXX,

This mail is a confirmation that you have purchased the following items from Microsoft:

Purchase Date

Friday, March 18, 2011

Subtotal of Items: $94.99

Subtotal of credit or fee from subscription conversion: $0.00

Total before Tax: $94.99

Tax: $0.00

—–

Total for this order: $94.99

When I first looked at the email I really thought very little about it. I had a message earlier in the week pop up on my Xbox saying that my account was about to be up for renewal and I clicked the box that said “Yes, I want to autorenew the account”. I know that I thought $95 was a bit much for renewing but I remembered that I had seen information earlier in the year that the amount for an Xbox gold account was going to be increased this year. I thought a $40 increase was a bit much but I can’t say that I was overly surprised.

But then I saw the very next email that said:

Dear XXXXX,

 This mail is confirmation that you successfully purchased Xbox Live 6000 Microsoft Points bundle on Friday, March 18, 2011. Please retain a copy of this for your records.

This raised my eyebrows a little. But I still didn’t really balk at this. I honestly couldn’t remember what I was charged when I last renewed my account. Did I get charged for points as well as the account the last time around? Both of these emails were sent at the exact same time in the morning so I was just assuming that these two charges were related. I had stuff to do that morning so I didn’t think much about it and just made a mental note to come back and look into this later.

The very next morning I woke up and started my same morning routine when I found 2 more emails from Microsoft in my inbox:

Dear XXXXXX,

This mail is confirmation that you successfully purchased Xbox Live 4000 Microsoft Points bundle on Sunday, March 20, 2011. Please retain a copy of this for your records.

The second email was one letting me know that all of the points that were purchased over the last two days were all transferred off of my account onto another one. I am not the brightest guy in the world but even I could figure out that someone had gotten into my account and was running up charges. I had to nip this in the bud quickly.

So I made the first of many calls to Xbox support.

I explained what had transpired over the last couple days and the guy I talked to was very helpful. I was informed that whoever got into my account changed my account to a family account (that was why the account was $40 more than it should be) and then ran up a big bill buying points and transferring them off to another account. He explained to me the process that they would have to go through to get this resolved. The first step would be disabling my account so that nothing else could happen while they investigated. I was told that the account would be disabled until there was a resolution and that this could take up to 10 days. But I was assured that this would most likely be resolved before then. And once the investigation took place I could reactivate my account (after changing passwords, credit cards, etc.).

Sure enough I received an email 9 days later that said that my issue was “received and researched by our fraud investigations team” and that the investigation was now “complete”. The email was a lengthy one explaining all that I needed to do to take control of my account back . There was also this section of the email:

If fraudulent purchases were made from your Xbox LIVE account while the account was not under your control, with an associated credit or debit card, or from your Microsoft Points balance. Such purchase amounts will be refunded. Refunds will be processed within the next 10 business days, but may take up to 30 days more to appear on your billing statement, depending on your financial institution.

So I waited a few days and checked my balance on my card. The initial charge, the $95 charge, had been refunded the same days as the email saying my investigation was complete.

At this point I was happy with how this whole thing was being handled. But this is the last time I had the warm and fuzzies for Microsoft and their support team.

I checked every week for the 30 day period to see if the rest of my money had been refunded. And nothing ever appeared. I was a bit concerned but (as I have worked in Billing and Tech support) I knew that sometimes things just took longer than expected. But just in case I called up Support again.

The guy I talked to wasn’t sure why I hadn’t gotten my refund for those charges back yet but assured me that I was “scheduled for a call back” from their Escalations Team in 2 days time. So I left that call thinking that I would get a call back and that everything would be cool in just a couple of days.

So 5 days passed and I didn’t get a call back. Frustration was starting to set in.

So I called back again. I was pretty much told the same thing, “You are scheduled for a call back in 2 days but there is nothing more we can do for you.” I asked to speak to a supervisor on this call and I was put on hold for about 20 minutes (with the occasional “I am still waiting but we haven’t forgotten about you” pop-ins) before I was finally transferred. The Supervisor was no more help than the first level support. All he could say was that the account was being investigated. I explained that I already received the email saying the investigation was complete but this didn’t seem to register with the guy on the other end of the call. He said that he was taking a “personal interest” in my situation and that he would be monitoring my account. I was assured that someone from the mythical Escalations Team would be calling me back within 72 hours. I tried telling him that I was told that last time I called but he said there was nothing more that he could do and that he could no longer stay on the phone because there were “other customers to help”. I wasn’t very pleased and asked for his name and employee number so that I could complain about the service which I was told he could not give. Even though he started the conversation by giving me his name he could not even give me his first name again now that I wanted to complain. So I hung up pretty pissed…and this was still early May.

When a week passed by and I heard nothing I called back again. This time I just explained to the poor woman from first level support that I didn’t want to talk to her because I knew that she couldn’t help me and I just requested to be escalated to a supervisor right off the bat. This time I explained that it was about to be 3 months since these fraudulent charges appeared and I was getting a bit impatient with this process. She apologized but once again was no help. She gave me the same runaround about how I was scheduled for a callback and that there was nothing she could do for me. This time the Supervisor said that she would apply some Microsoft points to my account for my frustration. I explained that I never use those points and it would be worthless to me but she said that was the only thing she could really do for me. But once again, I was told that she was going to take a “personal interest” in my account and that she was going to be monitoring my account and it nothing happened within 72 hours she would be calling me back. I told her that this “callback” story was starting to get old and that I didn’t believe I was ever going to be either hearing from someone at Microsoft or ever seeing my money returned to me. She assured me, once again, that within 72 hours I would hear from someone.

So a week later I still haven’t heard from anyone. Now I am just to pissed to even deal with them on the phone. So I decided to just wait and see and give them another week. Surely I would see or hear something in just one more week.

Nope.

So now it is early June and I am into the 3rd month since the charges were made on my account. I stared at my phone for a few minutes before making yet another call as I tried to make sure I calmed myself and didn’t start the call with obscenities. As I sat through all the automated crap at the beginning of the call I could just feel my anger level rising.

This time I just laid into that poor first level support guy. I kept apologizing to him as I was practically yelling because I knew it wasn’t his fault but he was the one I was venting on. Once again I received as much help as if I had just picked up my phone and pretended to make a call into it. This time, when he transferred me to another in an endless stream of supervisors, I got to talk to a woman named Christine. She seemed actually to have a bit of empathy and actually sounded a bit frustrated that this issue had not been resolved. But yet again she explained that I was scheduled for a callback in a few days and that there wasn’t really much she could do. She did try to dig around a bit more than the supervisors I had previously talked to but really didn’t give me any new information. For some reason my account was still being investigated and there was no clear reason for this issue not being resolved. Once again she assured me that she would make sure this was addressed and that she was now taking a blahblah personal interest blah. I just sighed and told her that there was no way I was going to believe that.

Wouldn’t you know it, she did call. She left a lengthy voicemail message to just basically reiterate everything we talked about earlier. There was no new information. There was nothing helpful in the 4 minute voicemail message. The only reason I think the call was even made was to attempt to pacify me so that I could no longer say no one had ever called me back. Unfortunately, her voicemail ended with “someone from escalations will be calling you on the 29th of June”.

Total B#llsh1t.

It is now July 14th. In four days it will be 4 months since those charges were made to my card.

Once again, I called Microsoft’s support line this morning. Once again I have received the same runaround. Once again, guess who is scheduled to call me back tomorrow?

I am just beyond frustrated at this point.

4 months?

Seriously?

How, after all this time, can you not transfer me to anyone that can actually help me?

I am never going to see that money.

I started with the original Xbox and I am now on my third Xbox360 (freakin’ Red Ring of Death). I was a loyal Xbox guy. I was one of those fanboys that would actually argue about how I thought the 360 was the better console with those PS3 guys out there. But now, I don’t play as many games on it and I am pretty much paying an extra $60 a year to watch Netflix.

I won’t be renewing at the end of my Gold Subscription this year.

So thanks for nothing (literally) Microsoft and you have lost a once paying and loyal customer.

Anyone else have something like this happen to them?

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Today’s argument: The Violent Rhetoric from the Right

The big subject of conversation all over the place today was (not surprisingly) the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon AZ.  It really is sad.

Part of the conversation, not just around me but all over the country, has been just what was the reason for this nutjob gunning down all those people outside a Safeway.  And right or wrong, the conversation always came back to the same subject…the violence that is constantly being spewed by the Far Right.  There  has been no evidence of any kind linking this crazy bastard to the Far Right, I will admit that.  But I don’t think anyone can deny just how bad it has become.

We have Glenn Beck joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi.

We have that scarecrow Ann Coulter saying that a baseball bat is “the most effective way” to talk to liberal.

We have that pill popping, fat ass Rush Limbaugh saying, “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus—living fossils—so we will never forget what these people stood for”

And don’t even get me started on Bill O’Reilly.

Oh and the woman of the hour…the incredibly dumb but very media savvy  Sarah Palin with that famous image from her website around the elections last year:

There are even websites out there like The Patriot Shop that up until about 30 minutes ago was selling this sticker:

And the website proclaims that it’s gifts are “Great Gifts for American Patriots.”  Guess I hate America.  Interesting that this was taken down today.  Guilty?

All of these characters and their violent rhetoric are doing nothing more than driving a wedge right down the center of our country.  I just don’t understand those people that have those right leaning political views and find it hard to believe that most of our country jumps to the far fetched conclusion that this fruitcake was a mental patient that watched a ton of FOXnews.

This unhinged piece of work might not have been a devout follower of those hate-mongers at FOXnews but can you blame us for thinking he was?  And it still hasn’t been said whether or not we are right in our assumptions.  But if this batty bastard wasn’t the one that decided to take the words of one of those “entertainers” on FOXnews and act on them…there will be another one.  As long as these demented douchebags have easy access to basic cable and a gun shop we should just be counting the hours until the next round of gunshots rings out at a Meet-n-Greet.

I have heard from numerous sources today that this is not a failure of our gun control laws but a failure of the mental health system in our country.  And I could not disagree more.  This screwball shithead would have done a hell of a lot less damage with a stick, knife or rock.  It was the easily concealed gun that was the reason he could cause do much carnage.

I am also of the mind that the media should treat these would be assassins like they treat the dipshits that run on the field during a sporting event.  Completely ignore the jagoff in the media.  Don’t show his picture.  Don’t mention his name.  Don’t interview his neighbors.  Just don’t do anything.  Do all the investigating you want but by reporting on this guy for the last 3 days and digging into any and every aspect of his life we all just gave him exactly what he wanted.  So don’t do it.

Anyway, I am sick today.  So not sure how much of this actually made any sense..most of it was probably just rambling.

Thank you cold medicine.

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Three for Thursday

Here are three stories that have been in the news around the area this week.  The first two make me so proud to live in the DC metro area and the third story….Zzzzzzzz….hmm?  Oh, I nodded off there for a bit.

TSA Homosexual Agenda

You know, there are some stories that are so freakin’ ridiculous that your brain kind of locks up when you hear it. On Tuesday there was a news story about a Loudoun County Board of Supervisors representative that said that the TSA pat-downs were part of the “Homosexual Agenda”. Eugene Delgaudio believes that what the TSA is doing isn’t for our safety but instead is for those gays to get off while touching our junk.

“It’s the federal employee’s version of the Gay Bill of Special Rights… That means the next TSA official that gives you an ‘enhanced pat down’ could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission,” Delgaudio wrote.

This is an elected official. Yay.

Oh you wonderful, crazy bastard. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though because we all know that all of those homosexuals can’t control their urges and just have to sexually molest every person of the same sex that they encounter. Straight people aren’t pedophiles or sexual predators at all.

You know how I know this to be true? It is because I can pass this test. I can look at a picture like this and not lose my shit and just have to get all grabby:

Meanwhile, every single homosexual man on the planet will go into a lust filled trance and get a semi-chub from this pic:

This test is completely scientific and proves without a shadow of a doubt that gay people cannot control themselves. Well, it is if your science is based on insane-bigot-fuckwad logic.

I hope this shining beacon of tolerance gets re-elected next year. Well, that or he finally comes out of the closet like we all know he eventually will.

http://dcist.com/2010/11/loudoun_county_official_tsa_pat_dow.php

DC Water

One of those things you always hear about going to some third world nation is, “Don’t drink the water.” Who knew that our nation’s capital falls into that same category? Apparently DC Water was partially replacing pipes to try to help to “cut down” on lead in the water and only made the situation worse. What I find particularly disturbing is that there was a report from 2004 from the CDC that said the drinking water was “not a significant danger” to children and now they are saying that this report was using incomplete data. So for 6 years people in the District have sucked down lead if they were drinking their tap water.  6.  Freakin’.  Years.

I am thinking that this is part of the Anti-Homosexual Agenda. If Superman can’t see through lead with his Xray vision then those scanners the TSA are using can’t possibly see through a body completely laced with lead. So you see, if you have drunk the DC water you can safely go through the scanners at the airport and not have to fear being patted down by all the perverted gays that are just lying in wait to touch your junk.

The sad thing is that while this is completely stupid it isn’t quite as bat-shit crazy as Delgaudio.

http://dcist.com/2010/12/cdc_dc_pipes_still_may_be_contamina.php

Qatar World Cup in 2022

Oh darn. We lost our bid to host the World Cup in 2022. That just ruins all the plans I was making for 12 years from now. I guess I will just have to learn to cope.

I just started twitching a bit even trying to pretend to care.

I can’t even get though the phrase “Qatar to host World Cup in 2022” without yawning twice. And WTF…Qatar? Is that even a real country? Sounds like a village halfway between Rohan and Gondor. I checked the map of Middle Earth to be sure but I couldn’t find it.  But, in the spirit of full disclosure, I couldn’t find it on a real map either.  So I am not still not convinced that this is even a real country.

I really hope the rest of the world will figure out there are some sports with real excitement in the next 11 years so I won’t have to hear everyone talking about how the US will be turned into a country that likes and watches soccer because of the World Cup. What? There are two World Cups before 2022? Really?

Shit.

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If you plan to “Opt Out” at an Airport tomorrow…

Tomorrow, being the day before Thanksgiving, is historically the busiest travel day of the year.  And this year it appears that traveling on a plane is going to be probably about the worst possible way to travel.  With the new TSA screening procedures that are in place there are a growing number of people in our country that are up in arms about being scanned and/or patted down.  Because these people are upset about this new process they plan on having a National Opt Out Day.

What does this mean for all of you planning to travel tomorrow?  It means that, if there are enough people that actually plan to go through with this, you will either need to get to the airport hours before your flight or plan on having some sort of backup travel plan for when you miss your flight.  You see, the plan is for as many people as possible to refuse being scanned and bog down the TSA officers by making them have to pat down as many people as possible.  Their agenda is to overwhelm and make the entire security process come to a virtual stand still on the busiest travel day of the year.  So for all of the rest of us that have no political agenda and are just trying to get home to visit friends and family for the holidays it sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?

You know what I really wish?  I wish that every person that “Opts Out” of the scan is moved to a separate area of the airport.  This area, let’s call it the “Holding Pen” will be one that is only manned by one TSA official.  Don’t take the security away from the rest of the passengers that want nothing more than to get home.  And let’s make sure this one official is the one that is always late to work, been written up a few times for subordination, closely resembles the scariest person you can imagine and hasn’t showered or brushed their teeth in weeks.  This way those people that are expecting the TSA officers to be the pervy/scary bastards they are being made out to be all over the news get their heart’s desire.  This way, on Friday, when they finally reach their destination and missed Thanksgiving they can gloat about how right they were.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will quietly go about our business and get to where we were going with as minimal a delay as possible.  While I am on the couch slowly slipping in and out of my food coma between seeing the Lions and Cowboys lose their games I am hoping some of those assholes that Opted-Out are still trying to reach their destination.  Maybe someone will save you a piece of pumpkin pie…I know I wouldn’t.

Oh…I almost forgot…Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Caps are the best team in the NHL. Skins suck. Wizards Suck. Nats Suck. Can you guess which of these teams is the hardest to find on TV?

Last night I was fuming at right around 6:59pm.  When I sat down to watch the Capitals and turned on our local Comcast Sportnet channel only to find that the Wizards were being broadcast instead of the Caps.  My first thought was that the game must be on Versus tonight so I tuned into Versus only to find that the game being shown there was the Bruins vs Rangers game.

WTF?  Where was the Caps game being shown?  I started trying to navigate through the FIOS guide and gave up after a few minutes of trying to find the game anywhere on that clusterfuck (I really do hate the way that “guide” works).  I tried to use my TV Guide app on my phone…no luck there.  I then grabbed the Post to take a look there…OK, I found that the game was on something called Comcast SportsnetPlus.  WTF is that?  It isn’t listed anywhere on any guide.  It is like some made-up channel that doesn’t exist.  Was this some kind of joke?

After another 5 minutes of just scanning through channel after channel I finally find the game.  FINALLY.  So I kick back with my drink in hand and settle in to watch the game when I realize that the game, while being broadcast on an HD channel, is not in HD.  Again, WTF?  Trying to watch any hockey game on Comcast that isn’t in TV is like trying to watch the game through a haze.  It is like they spread Vaseline on the lens of every camera to make the game some kind of visual challenge.

Once again, being a Caps fan in this town just means you want to punch someone from Comcast right in the dick.  Last night was just one more night of showing the fans where they rank in the eyes of our local Sportsnet channel.  The only team in town with any skill is relegated to the Where’s Waldo channel while the Wall-less suckhole Wizards get top billing…again.  So those people that enjoy watching Thugball were lucky enough to see the Wiz get blown out by 31 points in beautiful High Definition.  That is right, 31 points.  I guess the Wiz wanted to prove they could almost be as embarrassing as the Redskins.

Meanwhile, over on the Non-HD, Blurry-as-Fuck “Plus” Channel the Capitals win yet another game in front of yet another sold out home arena to improve to 10-1 on home ice.  Oh and the Caps also just added a couple more points last night to improve on their league leading point total.  The hottest ticket in town is a ticket to a Caps game and yet the team still gets no respect when it comes to broadcast air time.

So the best team in the NHL and the only winning franchise in town has to take the backseat to the bottom feeding Wizards…again.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when this happens anymore but I really did think that the winning ways of the Caps would change the dynamic here in town.  I guess the DC metro is just happier watching a couple of teams of overpaid losers.

Oh well at least the Winter Classic is only a little more than a month away. (BTW, the video on that link is awesome)

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What is worse than a murder in your neighborhood? Pat Collins coming to report on it.

Lucky me, I had Pat Collins, King of the Douchiest of the Douchebag Reporters, in my neighborhood today:

Sorry about that shitty video quality but the report came on right as I was turning on the TV and i just stood there and recorded it with my phone.

You can read about the craziness here if you would like the actual story.

Last night when we were heading home from the Redskins game we didn’t even really give much thought to all the cop cars sitting at the end of the block.  I know that I even said, as we drove passed the area, that the cops were probably just there breaking up a Redskins party that was going a little later (and louder) than was initially planned for a Sunday night.  It was not until this afternoon that I found out what actually happened:  One guy killed another guy and both of these dudes live within a block of me.  And the whole thing was over a fucking speedbump.  You read that right….a SPEEDBUMP.

But to make matters worse, NBC4 sent Pat Collins out here to my neighborhood to add his own little theatrics to the melodrama.  If you don’t know about my hate for this guy, you can read about it here because I don’t really want to get into all of that again.  I just don’t understand why this guy is still on the local news of a major market.

I feel bad for those involved in the tragic events that happened just down the block but my hatred for this asshat apparently runs so deep that it overshadows everything else that happened here overnight.

I hate you Pat Collins.

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