General Nonsense – a mixed bag of crap

martini and paletteThe palette is dirty, the martini is not!

California is giving us some nasty weather here in the East Valley. The temperatures dropped to the fifties, and the skies have been gray for three days in a row, and expected to stay this way through the weekend.

Rain is sporadic, creating flood-like conditions throughout the valley. It seems that there is nasty weather across the states.  At least we don’t have to deal with tornadoes or blizzards.

Arizona Drivers:
People in Arizona simply do not know how to drive in the rain. Actually, AZ drivers, at least in this area, are pretty bad overall. We have the Arizona right on red. where the person with the red light doesn’t believe they are required to stop, or even yield to oncoming traffic. We have very creative uses of the directional – when it is used at all. We have the left hand U-Turn on a red light, illegal and dangerous, and again with a total lack of respect for oncoming traffic. And AZ drivers LOVE to drive in your blind spot. They will come up on you very quickly on the highway, and then glue themselves to your blind spot. You can never change lanes without actually turning your head and looking behind you. And they love to cross a three-lane highway totally oblivious to traffic.

And now for something completely different!

SansaDisk Odyssey:
A couple years ago I bought myself an MP3 player. Liz spent hundreds on an Apple iPod, which lasted less than four months – an overpriced piece of shit.  That is one reason I will never buy another Apple product – if I am going to buy a chintzy electronic device manufactured by sub-par labor in China by a company that could care less that it’s practices destroy American jobs, then I am going to buy the least expensive.  That way when it breaks, it is not as big a loss.

I settled on a Sandisk SansaClip, 8-gig player. I paid less than $50 for it. The thing is smaller than a match box – for those of you old enough to know what that is. It took me weeks to fill up the 8 gigabyte memory with my music, as I ripped CD after CD. I use it in the studio or while doing work in the yard – I have it hooked up to an inexpensive pair of computer speakers.

It has some quirks, if you ever decide to buy one. First, in order to comply with European Union laws for European sales, the player comes with it’s maximum volume set very low. If you are wearing earpieces, that is not a problem, unless you like to abuse your ear drums.  But if you hook it up to speakers or through your stereo, the volume is simply too low to hear beyond five feet.

However, Sansa in its wisdom did provide for a not very-well documented over-ride of their volume limiter.

The player began acting funky a while ago – the sound would switch from right-only to left-only, to none-at-all-only and by fiddling with the cord, I could get it to play. I assumed the mini stereo plug was just not making good contact – but contact cleaner did not fix the problem, and eventually it went out for good.

Well, even though I pretty much got my money’s worth out of the device, I was not ready to give up on it yet. I took my pocket knife, and pried the case apart – the case is now all buggered up, as they are not really designed to be worked on.  I am sure the manufacturer has a special instrument to open the case without damaging it.

Upon inspection of the innards, I discovered that the mini stereo plug had broken form the very tiny solder connections. Luckily I have a soldering iron with a very fine tip, designed especially for such applications. When I worked at Canon, USA that baby got a lot of use at times.  Three quick dabs with the heated tip and fine silver solder, we are back in business.

Well, when I first bought the thing, eight gigabytes was more than ample. After a year of sometimes having it play eight-hours a day as I am in the studio or on the patio, and I finally tired of my playlist.  Now one option would be to dump all of the tunes and load on new music. Luckily there is a Micro-SD card slot.  The manufacturer claims the device will accept up to a 16-gig card – but online forum chatter agrees that the device works just fine with a SanDisk brand 32-gig card. They say it is iffy with a 64-gig.

The Sandisk 32-gig Micros SD card runs around $30. I am in no position to spend even that pittance on anything that is not a necessity, like beer! However, I am a member of several online survey sites – two of them give me about $30 cash every two or three months – beer money! And one, Darwin’s Data, is very generous in it’s payouts.  They pay $25 in Amazon credit for every survey.

Darwin’s Data:
Darwin’s Data is very difficult to gain acceptance as a panel member. There is a twenty minute personal survey to apply – and that is offered ONLY if you are invited by the site. They pay $10 for applying. Not shabby at all.

After you apply – it can be months before you get a survey. And this is a different sort of survey – it is a legal survey. Each survey takes about an hour. You need to start and finish in one setting. It is a video survey – the video has a person explain a current legal case that is in litigation. It begins with an overview – and you are asked questions. Then it give you details based on the plaintiff’s point of view – then you are asked more questions, including which side you now favor. Then it gives you the defendant’s point of view, and you are then asked which side you favor, why, what made you change your mind if anything.

The nice thing is that you get $25 in Amazon credit the next day after completing the survey. So far I have participated in two.  They are extremely interesting, at least to me. But then, I really enjoyed serving on jury duty in a civil case. Call me weird. Well,with all of this Amazon credit, I put it to good use and purchased a Micro-SD card, and all this week I have been ripping my music library to the computer. We even borrow CDs from the library to add to the collection! Right now I have 5,000 tunes loaded, and still have 18-gigs of space left for more. It will be a while before I tire of the new expanded play list!

There are two minor inconveniences when you use and external card with the Sansa Clip. The clip itself will sync to your music library on your PC – makes it easy to update when you add new tunes. Not the case with the card. You have to drag the new songs on manually after you add them to the library – which is a pain if you have not been keeping track of the new stuff.

The other quirk is that after you add the songs to the card, when you insert the card into the Sansa Clip – it “updates playlist” which takes forever and a day. It took twenty minutes the last time I added music, and I expect that the delay will only increase as I add new music. So once the card is set, you really do not want to remove it until you are ready to make a large change to the playlist!

With Thanksgiving coming up quickly, I will be doing a lot of housecleaning this week. Last week I spent a few days in the studio cleaning and making it presentable and less claustrophobic. Until we get a bona-fide storage shed, one corner of the studio is allocated to extraneous junk. But, at least now, it is an organized, net pile of extraneous junk. For the most part.

I cleaned the back yard, which involved mostly hiding junk so that we don’t look like Sanford and Son. Liz re-arranged and added to the art hanging in the house. We still don’t have the space to hang everything we own, but we have the bulk of it on the walls.

People that shop on Thanksgiving Day are ASSHOLES
Liz’s daughter Steph is coming to visit this week, and her nephew and niece from Michigan will be staying with Mike and Tami – so it should be an interesting Thanksgiving. Liz was scheduled to work from 2 til 7 on Thanksgiving Day – because we work for a major retail chain that believes that the little bit of extra money they make is worth fucking up the lives and plans of their employees.  I can guarantee that the CEO’s and CFO’s and asshole accountants are spending time with their families. Anybody that goes shopping on Thanksgiving is a worthless, self-centered piece of shit. They are so concerned with mass consumerism and purchasing shit they do not need that they could not care less that the employees are missing time with their family and earning barely over minimum wage – not earning a livable wage. One of Liz’s co-workers asked Liz if she wanted to trade shifts, since she had no plans for that day.

At least I don’t have to go in until 2AM Friday morning, as I am in reset.  I doubt we will be building fixtures; simply moving as much merchandise to the floor for the assholes that have no life and think fighting the mobs on Black Friday is entertaining. At least Friday is not a real holiday, so I can’t fault those people for shopping for bargains – but anyone that goes out on Thanksgiving Day is a loser and a pathetic waste. Black Friday shoppers are merely insane! But, to each his or her own… hey, I will be getting time and a half, and I will not have to deal with loony customers. And, I will not be missing any time with family…

We will be spending the day at Mike and Tami’s, since they have a ton more space than we for entertaining. Liz will be making her fabulous french toast for breakfast, and lasagna for the dinner.  Mike will cook the turkey. His turkey is always moist – some sort of Armenian secret or something!

Well, that is about all that is new here.


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