Friday, December 2, 2016

On Rats....

Rats.
The bane of my modern life. They are smarter than mice, more determined and persistent. 
I have been at war with two of them which invaded my mother's house about a year ago. They are too big to get caught in the mouse traps I set, outsmarted the glue traps I put down, and even eaten the bait off a few of the traps just to spite me.
I can hear them scuffling in the walls at night.
Then they got bold enough to dart through the kitchen at night... this was how I met the first rat.
Let's call him, Vince.
(apologies if your name is Vince...your parents should have called you Norbert instead...unless you like rats then it's all good).
Anyway Vince is a large
Norwegian Rat- or brown rat, or wolf rat, as some of the locals refer to him as. The picture isn't of Vince but just for reference.
My mother was the first to see Vince when he dashed across the kitchen one night, and she screamed and decided to hide in the bathroom while I looked for him. I admit that I thought my mother has seen a mouse and panicked. The second time, I didn't chuckle as hard as I did the first.
I tried a variety of mousetraps, poisons, bait stations, and nada- Vince ignored them all. Of course, he had a steady food supply from all the loose bird seed on the back porch...mom feeds the birds, squirrels, raccoons and two skunks and as it turns out the rat.
Of course, out of all these rodents...yes squirrels are very cute barky rodents and birds are rodents with wings.... my opinion as they are messy and contribute to the rat population.
I did find what I thought was a mouse dead -crammed in a cabinet on afternoon near the mop soap. Now I suspect that the "mouse" was a baby rat who ate the rat poison and choose to die in that spot, so considerate of him.
Anyway, I pursued Vince and his ilk with every bait that I could come up by word of mouth, co-op store advice and even google. None of it worked. Honey- nope, cheese- nope, bread? Meat? chocolate- hell no, bird seed? Nope, nope, nope and furthermore nope.
Finally, I conceded defeat and turned to the professionals. I looked for the pest company with the best rating and ended up with Cooke's Pest Control.
They were friendly and helpful and completely misleading of what they would actually do while totally ripping me off with contracts that delivered nothing new that I hadn't already tried.
Here's the rundown.
Me: I have a rat problem.
Them: Sure, we can come treat your house and get rid of the rats.
Me: Rats?
Them: Sure, if you have one rat, then you have at least 25 rats.
Me: Great.
Them: No worries, we guarantee we will get them all. 
Me: when can you come?
Them: How's Thursday?
Me: What will they do?
Them: Treat the house for the rats, then come back every two months for a year to make sure we get them all.
Me: That sounds great.
Them: We will see you Thursday.
later (not Thursday)
Them: Hi, we were in the neighborhood and would like to stop by and do an advance inspection for the technician who is coming tomorrow.
Mom: Okay, no one told us about that.
Me: Okay, what did they say?
Mom: That they will be here in an hour.
Me: Define close by?
Mom shrugs.
later.
Them: Hi, this is Lou and I am Max, we're from Cooke's Pest Control. (the names are changed because I cannot remember they're actual ones)
Me: Let me show you where I saw the rats.
Them: we need to inspect the entire house, inside and out- if you don't mind.
Me, they came to inspect the house with micro flashlights.
Them: Well we found where your rats are holding out.
Me: Really?
Them: Yes, it's in this storage room under the house, there are definitely signs that is where their nest is. Plus there is definitely dead bodies in there.
Me: Really?
Them: I have 12 years of experience, I know the smell of a dead rat.
Me: Well actually- I mean are you sure it's not insecticide- see I sprayed down there a few years ago Them: No, we know the difference between insecticide and dead bodies and that's definitely dead body smell. We'll show you.
NOTE: they found no sign of the rats inside the house despite me showing the guy where I had seen the rats
We go to the storage room. They show me some insulation that is suspiciously hanging down from the rafters. They point at it.
Me: That's it?
Them: Yup, there's a dead rat up there.
Me: Uh-huh. I smell insecticide.
Them: No, it's a dead rat. I'd definitely stake my rep on it.

Me: Okay.
Them: Well, there is something more that you should know.
Me: Oh? What is that? 
Them: You have termites.
Me: Of course, I do.
Them: This is serious.
Me: Please tell me how much more that will cost.
Them (rubbing their paws together): We will cut you a discount.

Rat removal: $631. $133 for initial treatment, and then $83 for each return visit.
Termite removal: $2355 AND they offer financing.
What a bargain!
notes: they continued to be vague about how the technician would "treat" the house for the rats, but were extremely specific about how they would rid the house of termites.
note: they showed me proof of the termites....all the damage was over 10 years old and I had used a base insecticide to kill the termites...also none of the damage was to the actual house.

I call Cooke's after they left.
Me: I need to know how this treatment is being charged.
Them: repeats what they told me earlier.
Me: When do I pay that?
Them: The tech will bring the contract out.
Me: Wait, did you say contract?
Them: Yes, you sign a contract which will be billed by the month or visit.
Me: What about that money back guarantee?
Them: Well, that's determined on an individual case by case basis.
Me: Riiiiiiigggght.
Them: Is that sarcasm?
Me: Let me speak to your supervisor.
Them: Why?
Me: Because Hell hath no fury like me getting conned (this wasn't what I actually said).
Them: Please hold.

I will now summarize the conversation with the supervisor.
1. contracts are non-negotiatable 
2. They hade no knowledge of the two yutzes that showed up an hour ago with the whole termite bit. They actually acted surprised when I told them that the whole termite thing blew their con for me.
3. The technician that was coming the next day for the "treatment" would boil down to him spraying the perimeter of the house with a garden variety insecticide and putting down about 4-6 bait stations -with locks that only Cooke's would have keys for (not me- so I could never know if they actually caught anything like the truth).
4. and that was it.

I checked BBB and consumer complaints and found Cooke's to have the worst rating by the BBB and consumers. But the best rating by referral sites.
Anyway, Vince had a good laugh. 
I gave up, then went back to google.
I found out a ton of basically useless info that both confirmed that Cooke's used google as well for their info and that we were basically screwed.
I then turned to our local co-op and were shown their selection of rat removal products.
Wait for it.
Bait and old fashioned rat- traps- think spring loaded mouse trap but much, much bigger. Big enough to catch chiwawas.
I went to the local hardware store bought some rat poison and threw that in the places I had seen the rats.
Apparently Vince and Shirley (sorry to all the Shirleys out there if your name is Shirley or don't like rats being arbitrarily named Shirley) had gone on vacation as I stopped hearing them.
Then I heard them again, I mean I actually heard her but thought it was Vince. 
One day, while shopping for toilet paper I decided to grab some glue boards and try them.
A couple of nights later, I heard some scratching scuffling somewhere in the kitchen, it sounds like someone shuffling through our stash of used food city bags. I checked then found nothing there. The next day I heard it again, but this time it was coming from the utility closet in our former classroom (from my mother's old school), it's now like a second living room, but we still call it the classroom. Anyway, I popped open the door, and this dark gray tail disappears into the corner of the closet where my mother had stored the old rags and some storage bags. I immediately shut the door, trapping the rat in there. I then set the glue boards and cracked the door.
One trapped rat.
Now what? I thought. I will stomp him!
I am wearing house shoes (slippers) Okay, scratch that plan.
I will put him in something and drown him!
Right, because drowning rats is a common form of execution.
I then tried to pick the rat up with a picker upper
That would have worked, except that the blasted rat flipped the glue board and it stuck to the hardwood floor and the cabinet next to him. I tried and failed to extract the glue board and rat with the picker upper.
I tried the next longest and biggest tool I could find.
Bolt cutters.
This totally failed.
I finally grabbed a pair of channel locks and pried the board with rat loose and transferred the squealer to the picker upper.
Then I knew I wasn't killing the blasted thing.
So I dropped him in a sealed albeit not air tight trash can.
The next morning I checked on the little bastard and he had freed himself from the board and was scrambling around at the bottom of the trash can seeking escape. 
Now what?
I loaded up the trash and took him and the trash to the dump. 
Haven't seen him....err, I mean her since.
You see, once I got home I realized that the rat wasn't Vince who is brown but Shirley who is dark gray...no I don't know the actual sex of the rat, but I had my suspicions.
I admit it, I relaxed, Rat Gone.
Nope. Vince decided to pop out one afternoon and run over my foot.
So more glue boards went down and two days later, I caught Vince. 
He collected a glue board outside of a hole he had been using between the bottom of my dishwasher and the kitchen cabinets.
He was mighty upset. 
And then as I searched for the picker-upper he flipped the glue board and stuck it to the linoleum floor.
ARGGH!
I tried many things to extract him from the floor. Finally, I scraped him off the floor with a broom and dustpan (mostly the dust pan)
Vince joined Shirley in the dumpster at the dump.
and then a day later I smelled another rat.
A very Dead rat as it turned out.
I finally located the smell pungent under the dishwasher.
so I had to go get a drill extract the stabilizing screws and pull it out.
Major rat nest of paper towel scraps, dish towel bits. toliet paper, suet wrappers and lots of other unidentifiable stuff....also noe very dead and smelly rat.
I should have taken a picture.
I bagged it all, checked around the house and found a similar nest under the couch in the classroom- not as bad but still it was there.
I placed it in the trash and took it all to the dump the next day.
The smell stuck around despite bleaching the floor.
SO, the next time the guy at the Co-Op says rat poison doesn't leave an odor, tell him, that it does and it smells worse the BS he just told you.
To top it off, I decided to use the rest of the rat posion.
I looked under the kitchen sink where I kept it and this is what I found.

In case you missed it, the bag is empty, some rat (the smelly one) chewed his way in and ate the whole bag!
This after weeks of putting down rat poison everywhere, the blasted rat went to the source which might mean it took a hell of a lot of poison to kill it.
and then silence, a whole new day...actaully weeks.
I get a handy man to seal the rat holes and hope for the best
and then... I find a loaf of bread that's mysteriously off with a suspicious hole in the back.
Tonight, I caught another one and it's waiting it's doom in the same trash can and the trip to the dump.



Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Our Father, (and by that please feel free to insert a name or reference that makes you feel thankful and secure if you are atheist, this means it can be anyone except Uncle Jack)

Where was I?
Oh, right, sorry.

We are thankful on this day, this thanksgiving day, for many things.
(I would like to stop and observe that Thanksgiving Day is probably a mythical event that was invented more than it was actually observed and that no one invites the Native Americans... First Peoples? Some tribal Americans who were kind enough or foolish enough to help out some very poorly prepared or equipped settlers/exiles/volunteers/pilgrims? with some food after they nearly starved to death or were about to starve to death....
Actually, I might have forgotten how the story went and am relying heavily on the official Charlie Brown Canon at this point....

Sorry, I beg your pardon?
Oh right, the prayer
(clears throat)

I am thankful for having family and friends, which for me is the same things as most of my friends are like family to me... except for Uncle Jack. Those of us who can come together and celebrate life and love with food that has been lovingly and thankfully not burnt, with wine and water (for the kids). We can pause in our lives, taking a moment to recognize that we all need each other, try to remember those of us who cannot be with us, raise a glass to their absence of memory, loving them with this gesture, thanking our mothers and fathers for the sacrifices they made so that we can gather together at this blessed table.
I am thankful to have known peace in my life, without war, without regret, to sit back and recognize that my life has been blessed with all the love of those who have gathered here together today, those who wanted to come but could not, those who have cats and thereby had a built in excuse to not come (because we all know they burnt the casserole again and are just mortified beyond belief). I love you all and thank you for being here.
I am thankful for knowing such good and great people who shaped their lives to that my life could be shaped as well. For their constant sacrifices and tireless efforts to make my life better - even if they did not know that their example would inspire me to be a better person. I am grateful for great art and art done greatly. I am filled with such thanks that someone else carried the torch for me so that I can see my path before me, that they would leave the same torch for me to carry for others... of course, it would have nice if they had told me where they put the matches.
I would like to thank Grammarly for making appear to be a competent writer (not commercially endorse).
I am thankful for good music, great musicians, and long play albums. Times spent sitting the record machine dreaming of my chevy and my old blue- sorry that's a song, but you get the point (just tell Uncle Elton, okay?).
I am thankful for this life I have. It's not perfect or as wonderful as I would like but it isn't as bad as it once was. I don't have to live alone with the sounds of my neighbors having fights and makeup sex coming through the all too thin walls, eating microwave dinners, watching romantic movies while binge eating ice cream and loneliness.
I am thankful to family and not having to relive the election, American Idol and Twitter wars for an hour or two where there is a collective truce between the warring factions and everyone grins or shakes their heads at my attempts to alleviate the situation by alluding to old movies and famous quotes while my cousins sharpen their knives under the table.
I am thankful for my aunts who still believe enough in me to forbid violence at the dinner table and thrown icecubes and forks no longer poise any immediate threat to the casual joking or me reminding them of that time when they almost choked on a chicken bone or when Uncle Jack's wife told everyone that he loved their car more than her and that if he was hoping for nookie tonight, he better take it up with the Mustang becuase she was going to her sisters and we all studiously ignored them while cringing at each jab she made with her fork into Grandma's antique table.

Sorry, Uncle Jack, but someone had to say that.
I would like to take this moment to observe the sacrifices of the few million turkeys who have given their lives so that we can gather together in love of good food and family.......
and that was when I found myself outside with the freshly roasted turkey while everyone else enjoyed the pumpkin pie and ice cream.
Some things never change.
Love to all.
Amen.

and that's Thanksgiving according to Mike.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And!.....wait for it...... life goes on.

America is in shock and disbelief.
They Won.
We Won.
but.....
but....
Given the general distrust of the media and government and the small truth that many people believe to be true but don't talk about, is that life goes on. America as a whole doesn't care.
Some people will huff and puff and then go find a wolf to blame for it, but America doesn't care.
There will be victory speeches and back patting and bed wetting but,
America doesn't care.
I suspect many people (especially those who don't and didn't vote) will go Meh, that was the election. What is really important is will it rain soon?
Will the (insert football team) go to the Super Bowl?
Will gas prices go up?
Social Media will declare that America hates women or Blacks or Gays or Liberals or Bill Maher,
but America doesn't care.
What is really important will be the next episode of The Walking Dead.
Who will die next on Game of Thrones?
Will the next (insert actor's name) suck, should I risk the money.
Is snap chat working today?
Did I remember to turn off the stove before I went to work?
Will I win the lottery?
Can I win the lottery?
Should I ask Jill to marry me? Will she say yes?
What if she says no? She won't say no, will she?
Life goes on.
Our pets will still want to be petted and fed and played with (unless they are cats...they are so finicky). The birds will sing and the sun will set and dawn will come again.
I made myself sick with stress and worry last night to the point I could sleep and I saw a lot of my bathroom as my body reacted. Irony.
The irony you might ask?
I knew who was going to win.
I hoped and might have even wanted to pray that I was wrong.
But God, the God I believe in doesn't work like that.
God had nothing to do with it or everything to do with it, who am I to ask for such things?
I am just some guy trying to make his way in the universe.
I will pray for important things like other people, not my own needs.
So there you have it.
This is the most political blog you will get here.
If that disappoints you I am sorry because I will no feed that kind of madness.
I will pray for you, and the next president and the former one, the winners and the losers.
We are all on this planet together. I may not like you and I may not be like you but it doesn't change the nature of hope.
I choose hope.
Hope for better days.
Hope that one of you will win the lottery.
Hope that Jill will want to marry Jack.
Hope that you will come back here to see what I write about in the future...it won't be about politics though (yep that was some circular logic).
and that is Wednesday according to Mike.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Piracy is NOT killing Modern Movies, so getoveritalready

Fair warning. I will be rambling. a whole bunch.
Some Person (somewhat identified later on) stated in a youtube video that Piracy was killing the modern movie industry (i.e. making movies produced bland/bad).

Alright, I am one of the 200k Napster users that were first blacklisted by Metallica when the whole piracy thing began. It's a claim to fame, I championed Pirate Bay not as a means of stealing content but more as a voice of challenging the price gouging that the music and film industry (RIAA and MPAA) were going about doing. I was there to see the extortion and remember how many of these anti-piracy groups were more interested in scare tactics and fine gathering then making sure the artists were getting their due. It became a little guy versus the big industry issues as the lies and misrepresentations abounded.
That being said, a lot was wrong, and Piracy was, ironically, less about stealing content as it is now. I know it sounds crazy but it was a proven fact that many of us leechers and seeders ended up paying for the DVDs and CDs and MPEGs when the industry finally changed their tune. But it did set a new wave of piracy in motion. I stopped my own piracy of music when music streaming finally became a thing. For me, possessing the music was less important than having access to the music on demand. I jumped on board with Pandora as soon as it hit the scene. Also,  my 500GB music hard drive died and along with it the thousands of songs I had acquired from piracy, legit purchases, and CD-rips. In the end, most of my music collection was legitimate as much of what I pirated was crap in the quality rating. Flac formats pushed me to find the original CDS to make the files up to snuff.
I have switched streamers several times. I own more legitimate music now than I ever did before. The same is almost true with movies - mostly because movie streaming has yet to catch up. They are making progress but it is very slow. Platform control is still a roadblock. If entertainment companies would realize that slaving their content to a broadcast platform is going to kill them, in the long run, they would at least follow HBO Go and the others.
I can remember talking to Dish Network and trying to convince them that true A La Carte programming was their only hope of true survival as a platform. They denied it then and still seem to not get it even now.
Entertainment (all forms) needs to be available on demand, regardless of platform or device. If you did this, most piracy users would drop the hassle of pirating material along with the need for VPNs and all the jailbreaking/hacking that goes with it. It won't eliminate it completely but it would go a long way.
Saying that "Hollywood" won't change their model may be realistic but it should point to that the Hollywood model is not the only game in town and there are ways to go about this differently. The same is true of saying that everyone is in this for the money so no one is going to take a chance on changing it.
It is true only until someone does.
It's happened before.
Last Week, I watched a video from a Youtuber I had liked. Their content was nice and I had gained much info from their videos. The video in question then went on, at length, to blame piracy as the primary reason why Hollywood plays it safe resulting movies that are bland, cliched, action models that lack creativity, edginess or dare to break out of the mold.
It's just wrong. Hollywood knows that even the worst movies make money. It's been true since the beginning. In fact, there is an entire industry of bad filmmakers in the world (i.e. people who excel at making bad movies). It is partly true that some filmmakers and the studios are not trying to be edgy or break from the mold may be true but to hold up piracy as the sole cause or even the main cause is just wrong. It could be attributed as a cause but I just don't buy it as the main cause, there are so many other factors. The main one Hollywood has always seemed to stick with is "hold to the tried and true" until someone braver does it differently and it works and then copy them.

What I have to say to the Youtube Channel that published this garbage is WOW.
I would have thought people knew about how Hollywood works.
I would have assumed anyone who reviews or even makes movies would have some film school background and have read books like

  • The Player by Michael Tolkin
  • The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays by William Goldman
  • Monster: Living Off the Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne
  • Fiasco by James Robert Parish, I haven't read it, but I am told it's very good.
Maybe I expect too much, I am a former film student (my University in their infinite wisdom closed the film school while I was still in it). Even so, I would expect anyone who would come out to say such a statement to be aware or, at very least, done some research. 
To say that Hollywood has suffered a loss of originality or edginess from the Piracy Phenomena is just wrong.
I ended my subscription to that youtube channel, it just colors everything that they have to say from there on. It's willful ignorance and smacks of the variety of rich musicians who complain regularly about being robbed of their content by pirates as if the recording industry doesn't exist or take advantage of them with binding contracts and other means of keeping them from being rich. 
I remember a musician I went to high school with who did make it fairly well, she is well known in many circles and is a really good musician. I like her work. What broke it for me was a rant over music piracy in which she basically called anyone who had ever leeched (technical term for sampling/downloading music) scum and not worth anything because they were robbing her of her just due. I took offense, at the time. When I pointed out my argument, I believe I got blocked and banned from whatever medium the comment was on.
No one wants to talk about how little the Recording Industry pays out to musicians for play time compared to how much they charge for it.
No one wants to stop and consider that if you make a recording from the radio- you have just pirated that music, or a live recording at a concert, or copied a cassette/CD from a friend, etc. But, if you download the music from anywhere but the approved sites, you are a villain of the first order.
But I digress.

I know it sounds harsh but theYouTuber(s) in question didn't say anything like the well established fact that Hollywood isn't known for creativy in film. It does happen but rarely. 
Making a movie involves a lot of factors.
Making a good movie involves similar factors and often more than just making one.
The problem with Hollywood and the film industry is very basic.
Hollywood and much of the film industry are out to make money. That's rule one. It's absolute and will ultimately dictate how a movie is made or even if it is made. 
There are books on this.
Lots of books....and ironically movies.
You can argue that Piracy is ruining movies if you want, it's your prerogative but Rule One supersedes your argument. It's true of the recording industry as well. If you don't believe me, consider B-sides or filler music that is on so many, many albums. I will use Jane Child as an example (one-hit wonders are common) She had one song. She had one album that I know of.
What I mean is that she had one song I liked, the pop charts liked it too, but that was it. I bought her album and hated it. The rest of her music was completely different and definitely for a non-pop crowd. I don't know if she had success, I hope she did, the world moved on although I see several others covered her one "top 40" song. What stands out for me was that I felt like the album was filled with filler music in order to sell that one song. (this is my opinion and I apologize to Ms. Childe and her rabid core of fans- assuming they are out there somewhere). I use her as an example of this phenomena. There are far more popular musicians and groups who have filler music on their albums. As a general rule of thumb (again for me) most of the albums from bands I like (not love) are filled with filler music. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and Red Hot Chili Pepper's Blood Sugar Sex Magik are commonly held up for the amount of Filler Music that's on them.
Moreover, much of the industry that still produces albums use filler music to pad out an album that commonly contains 1-4 hit songs or at very best 4-6 songs I want to listen to. I found this to be true with Country Music (which is often written by someone other than the singers or bands).
I have very few musicians and bands where I pretty much love everything they ever recorded...right now I can't name one. Queen has albums where, in my opinion, every track is awesome.
So why go on with the music industry?
Because Hollywood makes movies with tons of filler content. It's when you are watching a movie and think- Hey! this movie really ended 10 minutes ago! Then the movie goes on for another 15-20 minutes while you sit there scratching your head. Well, that's part of the reason anyway (Tom Jones, I am not looking at you).
There really is so many reasons that modern movies lack that creative drive, the edginess that makes them stand out. I could go into a long bit about Janet Evanovich books here and why I love them even though they are formulaic as hell and repetitive but I will read every one of them. FYI, the movie adaptation sucked but it still made money. 


 One of the things that strike me as detrimental is how Hollywood presents trailers. Many trailers not only reveal too much about the movie they also are often from cut content and show how much a movie can be altered from the early trailers to the late release trailers. So many of them feature what ends up being the best parts of a movie and all too often the only good parts of the movie (an exaggeration but not an entirely untrue one).
Trailers now come is various forms:

  1. Teasers (which I prefer), release trailers which often show too much and extended trailers which might as well be movies on their own (2-6 minutes long). It's crazy. It annoys me so much that after the teasers come out I ignore/avoid trailers as much as possible on movies I intend to go to.
  2. "quick" trailers (I guess regular trailers), which are okay, but often show too much or show stuff that ends up being cut from the final movie, MIB I am not looking at you per say. These trailers are technically early release trailers, so early that sometimes the movies they are made for- get canned and don't come out. They are grabbed from the first available footage and pieced together by the promotion teams and seldom have much in the way of directorial control or influence, Fantastic Four (latest one, for instance).
  3. Extended Trailers (which I hate) which grab as much film as possible to hopefully draw people into seeing the movie but sometimes provide the whole plot thus ruining any surprises that the movie might have in store for us. It's personal but I like the idea of seeing the movie on the promise/premise that the film will be good. Rogue One, is an example of having too many trailers and thus getting a "final" extended trailer is basically unnecessary as pretty much everyone who likes Star Wars is going to see it anyway. Personally, I take a quick glance, these days at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, check on my youtube reviewers and then make a decision to see the movie or not. I am seldom disappointed that way... I almost always do this save when a neice or great neice talks me into seeing a movie that I haven't checked out and usually it's a DUD.

Well, that's all I have.
I might even disagree with me if I have to reread this blog again.
I will still insist that Piracy has little to do with why Hollywood movies suck- er I mean aren't awesome...I like bad movies, myself- some of them. (Masters of the Universe).
And that is something like a long rant according to Mike.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Internet Security....no- NOT LIFELOCK.

Internet security help:
(for those of you who desperately need it)
howsecureismypassword.net (don't panic, they can't track you, just put in your password...then panic when it takes 3.2 seconds to reveal how pathetic it is)
haveibeenpwned.com will tell you how many times your data (email/username) had been breached with when and where, also how many email lists you are currently on.
watch for bogus "fake" wifi access sites, purge your network lists on your phone/device, always watch out for commercial wifi sites that don't have access portals (i.e. take you to a welcome page before dropping you on the net)
if you need to use an email address to register for a site or service that you don't plan or want to be part of permanently, use 10minutemail.com it will give to an email address that lasts for...10 minutes or 20 if you need longer before self-destructing. (just found this one and I am laughing in true machiavellian fashion) 
on another note:
you can opt out of credit card offers by going here
optoutprescreen.com (warning it will ask for sensitive info)
dmachoice.org can reduce junk mail or eliminate it in some cases- also stop registering for free catalogs unless you love that junk. (again personal info is required)
there is still the option to return to sender most junk mail especially if it is asking for an address correction or return postage guaranteed, - this will mean it will cost whoever sent it to you money. small victories.

finally, the current advice is cycle your passwords. you don't have to change them frequently - just periodically ( I cycle mine about 6-12 months or when a website demands it) be password loyal -pick a pattern and stick to it, if you try to be random all the time, your passwords will be weaker. 
use a password manager. I use roboform- it has it's problems (such as browser updates) but overall, all I have to keep up with 99% of the time is the master password. I have the everywhere set up and flash drive option. It's invaluable.
On passwords, do not use just numbers or birthdates or favorite  singers etc.
I do passwords 1 of 3 ways. Dead Languages. like Classical Greek or Latin. An alphanumeric password can work well if your spelling follows a language that is no longer in regular use (I used to write in Klingon or Elvish but then suddenly everyone was writing in elvish and klingon.)
2. Use a phrase 3-6 words strung together that makes sense to you or your cat. ironically this can work with straight-out spelling. such as "thebrowncatchaseswhitemice" the password site say that a password hacking program would give up after a decade and go out for sushi instead (5 quintillion years to be exact).
3. password generators like the one roboform uses. 
like this one R9Zgs0!zv*hNhm4Je (93 trillion years) almost as impressive.. However, these are only worth using IF you have a password manager. It would take me at least 5 billion years to memorize that one.

this conclude mike's fast internet security advice


credit to CR.org for some of the info.


and that is internet security according to Mike.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I had plans, such magnificent plans he said.

I had such magnificent plans, he said, minutes or seconds before the rain stopped and he was dead.
How can one scene in a movie that I would first see in awful resolution and framing on a VHS tape on a 22" TV in a college dorm room have such a profound effect on me?
It did. It changed how I wanted to see movies, it changed how I wanted to see life. I was nineteen when I discovered Ridley Scott's masterpiece in all its chopped up and edited glory complete with Harrison Ford's (Deckers) added Noir narration. By this point, the movie had been floating around for quite some time. It is, at once, the most haunting and beautiful movies I have ever seen. it holds the number 4 spot in my top 100 favorite movies. Nothing has displaced it since I made the list.
The reason that it has remained there in that spot is because of this one scene. It was perfect, in every cut of this movie. There have been 7 versions to be seen.
If you haven't seen Bladerunner then you might want to stop reading here and

A) watch one of the versions of it. I actually got to see the 1991 Director's cut in widescreen in full glorious resolution in Theatres. Sadly, unless you have major connections, you will only be able to see it in a limited frame. I would recommend the Final Cut as it is the truest to its Director's vision as any of the others.
Ironically the worst cut of the movie (which has some merit to me) is the hardest to find. I mean other than the Laserdisc version. I haven't seen all the DVD versions...a person must have goals, I suppose.

B) find a thorough synopsis of the movie or at very least watch some if not all of it via youtube.

C) Warning, the movie is violent and a bit gory (I mean it was by yesterday's standards)

D) Skip it, either read on or go look at Cat pics on your favorite social media.

Also SPOILERS FOLLOW

That being said, let's return to my point.
The "Tears in the Rain" sequence has had a profound impact on me, as a writer, screenplay writer, filmmaker, Dungeon Master and video gamer.
The scene is set following the climatic desperate strangely realistic battle between Decker and the vastly superior Roy Batty. I say strangely realistic because Decker is very human in his abilities to battle a combat replicant (think Android/clone/synth/robot if you must). There are no Hollywoodesque combat maneuvers by the combatants only a desperate struggle of man vs. machine as the two struggle for supremacy or rather for survival. Both men having their own motivations to win the fight end up on the rooftop of the gloomy mostly abandoned building in which the battle has occurred.
Decker finds himself trapped and cornered by Batty, knowing that he is going to die there, he decides to chance escape by jumping to a nearby building to buy himself enough time to come up with an alternative to dying. He almost makes it, too. When he does not, he finds himself dangling over an abyss hanging on with wounded hands. There is a moment, when I am still sure that he falls.
Batty comes to Decker's rescue. What follows is this scene.
One, or rather I find myself feeling that, in the end, the executioner decides that all life, even the life of Decker, the Bladerunner, is worth saving. This is an irony since Batty is about to lose his own.
Roy speaks the words that would remain frozen in my memory for years until I would find I had my own voice and would begin to dream of writing this scene over and over again every time I sit down to write.
It's not just Roy Batty's words that draw this emotion, this metaphor out of me, but the whole scene, the rain falls without ceasing. The soft blues and grays reinforce that this is truly a tragic conclusion to Batty's life. Scott is without mercy for either of his heroes in this scene.
Yes, I said either of his heroes. I suspect, that this idea drove the Hollywood suits mad, since Roy is clearly the villain and Decker is not. I found that the two represent and mirror each other throughout the movie until they cross and in a sense become one on this rooftop.
The juxtaposition of the two men, human and replicant, law and order, emotion and logic spins around me each time I watch Bladerunner. I should watch it more. I use to watch it, at least once a year. I haven't done that much in the last 5 or more years. This scene and indeed, the entire movie rests in my sub conscience every time I sit down to write.
Also, yes, I know that Decker is a replicant or probably is.
Why do I say this (I have read the arguments for and against this on numerous blog, videos, websites)?
Simple, I feel that Ridley Scott wants us to question what is real and rather than feed us and answer that we all crave, he leaves us to make our own conclusions.
For years, I found myself going back to the original Hollywood Detective Noir cut because it does just that. It gives a definite answer to the overriding question.
Do they survive?
At present, I like the idea of there being no answer. We are left, not knowing who is the human and who is the replicant. We are left with the definitive idea that no one knows that life has meaning and no meaning that all these emotions can be summed up on a rainswept rooftop while holding a dove symbolically as the last moments of our lives slip away like tears in the rain.

Before anyone loses their minds over the blog title or the opening lines. They are my own. It's how I summarize what my heroes are thinking at the moment of perfect clarity.

and that...
Actually, I have to stop and give a shout out to NerdWriter for inspiring me to start to use this blog to do just a little more than talk about life according to me.
you can find him making thought provoking videos here the Nerdwriter

and that- is life changing movies according to Mike.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Modern Dating According to Mike

When it comes to modern dating, I am about as good at it as I was back when I actually tried doing it.
It's amazing on how little has changed even with the rise of the internet and my own self-confidence.
I mean I want to socialize/date but I still can't even get out the starting gate.
I am considering updating my Ok Cupid profile (yes I am getting to that point again)
I think it has happened to me because I am writing a novel about 5 relationships (fictional) that happen in the late 90's.
What follows is really just some points and reflections on my research so far.
1. make sure you are not related, even distantly- it's weird.
Kenneth Wilson @writtenbyken
#WorstFirstDate @jimmyfallon @FallonTonight
Sitting on the floor. Kissing. Talking about life and family. Turns out. We are cousins.
2:51 PM - 6 Jan 2016 source: Follow Kenneth. He's funny.
It's a weird, weird world and you never know who you are going to run into. Even with a galaxy sized story, you can always get this...
So, it might not be your sister...twin sister at that, but "kissing cousins" is not just a cliche these days especially with all the divorces and remarriages. you might not be blood kin but I suspect if I fall for a woman and we kiss and then she says you remind me of my cousin Sam Coker, I might freak out just a little. Also, I suspect Sam is a good kisser- but I am not going to verify that personally.


2. Knowing when to call it quits:
Jennifer Mumme @MummeWummie
Date was so bad I gave the waiter 20 bucks to spill my drink on me to get me out of there.#worstfirstdate
10:54 PM - 25 Apr 2016 source:MummeWummie
Because Reasons:

  • make sure you scope out possible exit points in the restaurant like back doors.
  • verify bathroom in not in direct line of sight from where he is sitting.
  • have a friend standing by for a convenient "butt dial of SOS"
  • Have a friend call you mid-date in case you need an exit clause.
  • If she checks her makeup or takes a selfie, calculate escape trajectory vs. velocity.
  • Complain about the food and insist on taking your steak beck to the kitchen yourself, apologize to the chef and blow him a kiss on your way out the door.
3. Practice your compliments with your sister or a female friend or adversely your brother and male friend
M for Magnetic! @MariangelicaA

@jimmyfallon While at dinner, date looks at me and says "If you just lose 10 lbs, you would be a ten." I asked for dessert. #worstfirstdate
11:47 PM - 4 May 2016 source: MariangelicaA
10 bad compliments:

  1. Those jeans don't make your butt look big.
  2. You remind me of your sister
  3. I love boobs, yours as well.
  4.  usually, I don't like girls who are as short as you, but with you, I'll make an exception.
  5.  You are so bubbly/perky/spunky
  6. I can just be me when I am around you
  7. your (insert body part) makes me (adjective) that I (action verb)
  8. I like your (facial feature) it really makes you more sexy/beautiful/etc.
  9. I like it when you remember to be a gentleman.
  10. you are so much fun when you are (state of being- drunk/tipsy/high/etc).
Final note here: Google search only returned all the things you should or shouldn't say to women (it's epidemic apparently) when I found one site that reported good compliments for men they were all like this.
"I trust you"
"I'm listening"
"You're buff"
"I'm on your side"
Apparently, men are not vain, fickle, or in desperate need to know they can pick the right clothes, be the right weight or have nice body features. 

4. Vary your Dating Grounds.
Jessie @JessieB365
My date took me to a nice restaurant. Our server leaned into me and said, "You're the third one this week" #WorstFirstDate source: JessieB365
Dante's Dating Service
source image flip

moar:
  • when the waiter knows what you are ordering by the time you and your latest date sit down.
  • when you see the bus boys (or girls) setting up a betting pool to see how long your date lasts.
  • when you get a thumbs up from the bartender or a thumbs down from the host.
  • when your table is taken and you get upset about it.
  • when you find out your last date liked the restaurant more than she liked you.
  • when your smartphone notifies you audibly that there's a frequent diner coupon
  • when she tells you that your last date looked bored and advises you not to order the seared tuna again.
5. Make sure you understand what going DUTCH means:
K. @kittykaresless
He had a $35 steak and several drinks. I had a $8 salad and water. He demanded I split the check 50/50. #WorstFirstDate
5:52 PM - 27 Jul 2016 source: kittykaresless
what it doesn't mean:
  • Going native (or integrating yourself into dutch society/culture)
  • dating dutch men or women
  • asking for one bill, then doing your own math.
  • smoking weed
  • something about dutch ovens that I really don't want to know (WTH google!)
6. Tinder. Google dating or bad dates or anything variation and the number one or two hit is something about tinder dating backfiring.
top 5 search results on tinder (google and youtube):
  1. getting my tinder date high
  2. tinder date experiment
  3. dozens of Tinder nightmare stories (a lot of women)
  4. catfishing stories like crazy
  5. guys looking for quick hookups
  6. people pranking those guys
The truth is:
Kidding.
The truth is, I was never good at asking a woman (or girl) out on a date- this turns out that I was really good at falling for the wrong kind of woman (given my needs at the time). My line of dating rejections is long. 
For one thing, I was forever getting involved with women who either had decided they would NEVER sleep with me (usually before I had any say) or that I was best friend material.
I feel like I missed learning the pickup lines (I know it sounds cliched and corny but just getting someone to talk to you is hard enough but damn near impossible if you have no confidence and you are trying to do this in bars and at public dances.
Online dating was worse. 
Advice like being honest is a waste of time since I never fit in with my age group - I laugh about it now but people who are like me are older or younger. My peer group and I have nothing in common except high school and I hated high school.
The truth is, dating scares the hell out of me, it's too much pressure and after years of getting laughed at, mocked and made fun of- I quit. I literally stopped asking women out (men too). 
Now I haven't kissed a human being in nearly 20 years. Not even sure I would know how. 
If you have to ask about sex then my answer is Porn and masturbation will keep a person sane.
I still dream/desire love but the odds never seem to be in my favor. 
worthless advice:
  • meet someone at work (this never works) most employers get antsy at "workplace dating" or romance...it happens but where I have worked for 14 years is NOT a good place to get into a relationship. Also, if you have time for workplace romance there is something wrong with your ambitions.
  • meet someone where you work out. This is easy in movies and youtube. I work out at a church, a gym where no one frequents (like the Rush or whatever it's called now) and a pool/therapy place where the bulk of the people are in horrible physical shape and/or a LOT older than me. 
  • meet someone online: Dating sites suck and take money- even the ones that are supposed to be free (but aren't). My history here has been an expensive failure (of epic proportions). I sympathize with women on these sites since they are often besieged with offers, messages, matches, trolls and worse. I really can't see how they manage to make it work (some do, so I am told). I never had much luck with dating sites. 
  • personal ads. I ran a couple and radio silence.
  • prayer. I want to believe prayer works then I hear Garth Brooks' song Unanswered Prayers and I do a lot of cussing, then some more praying to thank God for sparing whatever disaster that must have been, in the end, I gave up praying.
I suspect I am just too weird/different a person to ever find someone who would find ALL of me that appealing. 
I still want love, but I am unwilling to compromise or give up being what I am in order to be more appealing to a potential mate/date (if you have to ask, you just haven't been there).
So still single and not gay (why this is still a thing, God only knows).
This is dating according to Mike.

Feel free to disagree.