Sunday, August 31, 2008

New books.

All apologies to my stalwart readers: I have been busy at my job with the first week of college classes, with my own academic pursuits, with reading, with writing. Not so much 'rithmatic.

I have read voraciously over the summer. After finishing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers) a couple weeks ago, I was worried that I wouldn't find anything else that could keep my attention or pique my interest.

By chance, I've come across a number of books that I have started (many just a few pages) and that look like they will be enjoyable. I'm already mostly through Gabriel Zaid's So Many Books, which is required reading for my "Intro to Editing and Publishing" class this semester.

It is a pleasantly short read, and it mostly comes off as a self-help book for writers and readers. It alternates between supporting your dreams of becoming published (most books need only a few thousand readers to make money) and squashing your hopes of making it big with a book (millions of books are printed -- much more than are read -- and yours will turn into a chunk of paper garbage in a growing heap). Along the way are delightful anecdotes and interesting statistics. The author is Mexican and it was translated, but it comes across splendidly in translation. Very fresh. I think it should be required reading for anyone who plans to write a book, or anyone who reads books.

The next couple are by David J. Levitin and deal with music in the brain and cognitive neuroscience: This Is Your Brain On Music, and The World In Six Songs. Interesting material that I may review later if I get around to reading them.

There are others, of course. So many others...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Like manna from heaven, we are now able to scan documents into the copier and send them as a PDF via email to anyone. ANYONE.

This completes my scan evolution here at work:

1) Flatbed scanner, one document at a time. (Average job time: ~20 minutes)
2) Document feeder. (Average job time: ~10 minutes)
3) Copier + document feeder + instant email. (Average job time: ~10 seconds)

Most of the time was sucked up by an imaging program that took FOREVER to recognize the scanned information.

I have yet to find a simple, sleek, elegant imaging program (viewing, resizing, cropping). All the programs are large and slow to load and suck. I know there are some online ones, but for now I'm taking the extra steps to learn teh GIMP for this. If anyone knows of any simple image programs (yeah, INFRANview, yeah), let me know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


It just got better. I just found my new job.

* * * * *

Subject: Enquiry***


Our company BHP Billiton Plc Requires international agents. If you think you can handle this position please write back for more information on our enquiry.

Best Regards,
Karen Wood,
Company Secretary.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Paging Dr. Spam.

I just got what appears to be the cutest spam mail ever. It's from some dude, you got your Kenya, you got your bad English, your promises of 30%. There's a plane crash.

It's like they're not even trying anymore.

Oh yeah, you got your convincing CNN report:

I didn't even read any of it, but I knew it was the cutest. All they needed was my name and fax number. And address.

2003? Shouldn't you at least update the year?

* * * * *

Subject: Dear Sir/Madam Urgent Assistance Needed

Dear Friend,

This Message Might Meet You In Utmost Surprise.

However, It's Just My Urgent Need For Foreign Partner That Made Me To
Contact You For This Transaction.

I Am A Banker By Profession From Burkina Faso In West Africa And
Currently Holding The Post Of Foreign Remittance Director In Our Bank.

I Have The Opportunity Of Transferring The Left Over Fund ($3.5Million)
Of My Bank Client Who Died Along With His Entire Family In
Kenya Plane Crash 2003.

You Can Confirm The Geniuses Of The Deceased Death

The deceased account holder with our bank was Mr, George Brumley, A retired Atlanta Physician, with account number 1036-086, ROUTING No: 91002211 with our bank,

It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to make this business proposal to you and for our bank to release the money to you.

You have to follow the instruction which I will be giving to you as the next of kin to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and I don't want this money to go into our bank treasury as unclaimed fund.

I want to assure you that there is no risk in this transaction as you may think, the reason why I contacted you in this transaction is because our late customer Mr. George Brumley, is a foreigner and an indigene (Burkina bey) can not stand as next of kin to our deceased customer unless a foreigner.

In appreciation of your assistance, I am offering you 30% of the total sum. 10% for contingencies (cost of transfer/other charges) likely to be incurred during the course of transaction, while the remaining 60% is for me.

I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch risk free and that you should not entertain any fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer.

Upon receipt of your reply. I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application which you will complete and forward to our bank asking for this money to be paid to you as the next of kin to Mr George Brumley.

I want you to assure me of your capability of handling this transfer with trust by giving me the following information's about yourself:

1. NAME IN FULL:................................
2. ADDRESS:.......................................
3. NATIONALITY:...................................
4. AGE:.............................................
5. Sex..............................................
6. OCCUPATION:......................................
7. MARITAL STATUS:..................................
8. PHONE............................................
9. FAX:.............................................

I look forward to your quick reply by email:

Have A Great Day.

Yours Faithfully,

Amuda Sharaf.


Nine days off work means:

-Not having to shower on a daily basis.
-Not having to answer stupid work emails on a daily basis.
-Not having to answer stupid work phone calls on a daily basis.
-Watching the Olympics on a daily basis, religiously, though you've never watched them before.
-Not having the money to travel on a daily basis.
-Reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and wondering why A) You didn't think of that and B) More bad stuff doesn't happen to you so you can write about it and profit from it, sitting back, hands behind your head, feet up on your antique coffee table, sipping exotic espresso and hearing the numbers in your bank account increase.
-Getting back to work and realizing work is a sham.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"I fly like paper, get high like planes"

(Uh oh. Someone's done it. Some slack-jawed yokel from the Great White North had the moxie to compare Pineapple Express, the new Seth Rogen stoner comedy, to cult classic The Big Lebowski:

As such, "Pineapple Express" is to action movies what "The Big Lebowski" was to film noir: a brilliant pastiche of the genre in which every classic set-up goes spectacularly off-track because the protagonists are always high!

Whatever will Justin say about this? His favorite comedy compared to a rambling movie that takes 111 minutes to do what it could have done in half the time? Stoner jokes stacked on homo jokes alongside racial jokes, violence and grossout humor. Pineapple's plot is an antithesis to the foggy haze of a plot included in Lebowski, the latter of which serves only to confuse watchers, leaving them in awkward suspense while nailing them with off-the-cuff humor. Pineapple's plot is so grossly simplified, it soon turns into a parody of different genre flicks [action, buddy cop] that falls flat in the face of its contemporaries [notably Hot Fuzz].

He probably thinks that Lebowski is forever re-watchable [part of a cult classic's charm], whereas the only reason to watch Pineapple more than once is to figure out what was said when the audience was laughing loudly after a "fuck" joke. The film remains engrossed in its own brand of humor, rarely letting the opportunity for a quick joke about reefer to pass by without one of its characters, alternatively snickering or paranoid, stumbling haphazardly into the joke void, reaching for yet another nugget of stoner wisdom.

Plus, where are all the babes? Justin probably doesn't need to be told that this whole thing is a homo mockfest, but the only woman in the flick was a cop. In full uniform. Sheesh!

I wonder if he'll mention how the trailer was cooler than the movie because of its use of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," which he expected to be included in the movie at some key moment.

I think he's still waiting.

Whoa! Gotta go! Here he comes...)

Man, I can't believe Pineapple Express was such a disappointment! I mean, the acting was okay, and a lot of the jokes were funny, but after the first third, you might as well just leave the theater and go get some snacks or something. Or pizza... mmm.

Come on! They didn't even use "Paper Planes"!

2/5 stars.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Letter of complaint to Comcast.

Mr. Germano,

I will send this complaint to my local office as well. I had a bundle package of cable and internet installed at my home yesterday, Saturday August 2, 2008. The installers acted very unprofessionally, taking personal phone calls while they were installing my equipment, tracking dirt into my home. They never introduced themselves, they never showed me how to use the internet or cable services, even though I told them I've never used digital cable before, and after they left I had to take additional steps to set up the internet connection. I had to figure out this setup process on my own and it was not obvious. About an hour after they left, one of the installers returned to disturb me at home by asking about an expensive piece of testing equipment he had left behind. He said it was worth about $1400, and I was able to locate it under the desk they had been working on for my internet connection.

But all of the above pales in comparison to what arose tonight (Sunday evening the day after installation). The cable and internet have been working properly, but out of nowhere tonight, the cable box started sending a message that all of the channels that had been available were now "not authorized". Apparently, the installers never reported the box number that they installed to the main office here, so it was never registered and is not on my account. They did something strange when they were here, too -- they installed one cable box and left it running for about 10 minutes. Then they decided to use a different cable box, even though the current one was working fine. I don't know what that was about at all.

I just got done with a 40-minute call to customer service and the person I talked to was very nice and helpful. (Actually, the first person I talked to tried to transfer me to someone else, and I ended up back in the holding queue...) The person on the phone sent word to the local office and set up a service call for tomorrow evening, which I thought was very prompt and professional. It was the at the very opposite spectrum of behavior from the people who installed my Comcast services, who were very unprofessional.

I thought I would send word about this, since Comcast has a virtual monopoly on the market here in Tallahassee, Florida, and it is the cheapest outlet for obtaining both internet and cable service in one monthly bill. However, I am not hesitant to seek out other local providers (no matter the cost) if I do not receive proper customer service with Comcast. I am modestly requesting a reimbursement of my installation fee for these services for the egregious grievances listed above, which have caused me a significant amount of inconvenience. I am available via telephone and email ( if further discussion or an even more detailed account of this matter is required.

Thank you for your time.


Justin de la Cruz