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29 September, 2008

Car problems - Part 2

Well, I still have a sticky gas pedal, which, as my boss would say, is a "sticky wicket". Once the car warms up a bit it's really not noticeable but still a pain in the rear. I went back to get it looked at again and they said I need a new throttle cable. They were able to tell without even taking a second look! Even better than that, they couldn't even give me a ballpark guesstimate on the price of such an item.

"Sometimes a distributor charges $5 for a bolt. Sometimes it's $25".

After searching through Google for at least 30 minutes I was no closer to discovering an answer either (although I do have a great lead on buying an Audi throttle body if anyone is interested.) I contacted a car dealership to see if they could fill be in (after Autozone told me they don't do that kind of thing) but they couldn't help either as their "parts" department isn't open until Monday. I've been told it's simple job to do once you have the part, which will make things worse when they charge another $60.

26 September, 2008

Friday Observations

Stepping outside the comfort zone -

I'm in a street lined with mobile homes. Speed bumps dotted along the broken road.
Rush Limburg is on the radio. Taking calls from people supporting his view. Rush gets more excited and determined with every call.
A dog wanders aimlessly, investigating every new scent. He circles the car and moves onto the next yard.
No flags can be seen from the roadside.
The houses are named comforting, relaxing names like "Woodwillow" and "Meadowville". Some of those signs are broken.
A car drives past. 3/4 years old. A deep dent in the corner of the bumper.
Many cars are in the driveway.
A satellite dish hangs precariously from a wooden porch.
I see a child playing with a ball off in the distance.
A collection of wind chimes stand motionless next to 3 pots of cactus.
Two bicycles lay in the grass and a forgotten basketball hoop lays dormant.
A police tape marks off a space where a house should be with "caution".

Car trouble - Sticky Gas Pedal

I will never ever say that I'm a "man's man". I'm only mildly interested in sports, I'm not great at fixing things or building things, I don't like mowing the lawn or painting and I don't know much about cars. When it comes to cars I know where the oil goes and where the cd goes. That's all I need. Turns out this wealth of information has no use when I'm out on the road with a gas pedal that is stuck and my speed is creeping up to 50 with my foot on the brake.
I may not be a"man's man" but I can be a bit of geek and so I did my research and discovered that the car's "throttle body" is most likely filled up with crap. Off I went to Appalachian Tire to get it fixed. Waiting in line another gentleman was on his phone:

"Yer, I'm at some place getting my tires fixed or something....uh huh..yer I don't know where I am."


Anyway, so I explained what *I* thought the problem was (in an authoritative "I know about mechanics and use terms like throttle body every day" tone) and after looking at the car they agreed with me. I was more surprised that anyone but tried to not let it show. He said "If this happens again you will need a new throttle cable". I thought it was a strange thing to say but what do I know about cars? The car was finished with in about 45 minutes and I was driving home shortly after that with a much smoother gas pedal.
Then 4 hours later, the pedal is sticking again. Is it a coincidence that he predicted it would stick again and therefore assumed I would bring it back for the new throttle cable? Or did it need a new cable all along? I guess the answer depends on my scepticism about mechanics. It's due an oil change anyway so perhaps when I take it to another mechanic this weekend all will be revealed. I just wish I could have taken "shop" in school.

24 September, 2008

Growing up

I was discussing the issue of growing up yesterday. What does it mean in today's world? Should we be measured by what our parents were doing at our age or has the world began spinning so fast that it is no longer fair to compare? I have lots of questions about it as I struggle to admit that I need to somewhat grow up (notice I've already downplayed my responsibility with a "somewhat" clause ;-) ). I mean when my parents were in their mid-twenties they already had one child and a house. Is that as likely today? Should I be playing video games still and getting online to email, answer quizzes, read the news and blog? My parents certainly didn't do that and I doubt their parents would approve either. Instead of looking to our parents for guidance, then, should I look to my peers? Well, some are married and some aren't. A few have children. Some play video games. Some like comic books. Others are constantly on their cell phones while some play beer pong and visit taco bell regularly. "Growing up" should, therefore, be more about the responsibilities ones takes on or has to accept. Like paying bills, taking care of your home, being moderate in your behavior, making car payments, keeping your checkbook balanced and being respectful towards your partner. That means that it can still include playing video games, sleeping till 1pm at the weekends, watching Postman Pat on HBO Family and reading comic books ;-) Woohoo!

As the old Irish proverb goes:

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.

19 September, 2008

Friday thoughts

Have you seen those E-harmony adverts? It's the one were it shows a girl then a boy talking about when they joined and "found love" and then shows the happy couple together. I'm not certain whether or not it's a REAL couple but it's often pretty cheesy but I think there is one thing that gives it away. The people in the adverts look like models looking into one of those crazy, distorted mirrors at the fair.

Everywhere I go, recently, there are signs up about the importance of hand-washing and how it will prevent SARS. I thought the SARS scare had died out a long time ago. I guess that shows how much I was paying attention. The soaps usually available scream at us "Kills 99.9% of all bacteria". It's like the age old diet coke complaint "If they can make it only 1 calorie why can't they make it 0 calories" or in this case "why can't it kill 100% of bacteria". That .1 percent may be the cause of SARS! I don't mind that it doesn't kill 100% so much as that what do all the other soaps that I've used throughout my entire life do? What percentage have they been killing? Like 20%? 5%? .1%? Was I better off just rubbing my hands "clean" on my pants?

16 September, 2008

WV Blog chat - with RedZeppelin - Part 1

In an attempt to get to know other bloggers better and try my interview skills I decided to have a one-on-one with RedZeppelin from Destination Unknown. Strangely, we end up discussing a Margaret Thatcher, Pam Anderson, what a good blogger should be and another WV blogger. Here is what happened:

Allclick: Greetings
RedZeppelin: hey
Allclick: Thank
you for indulging in my new way to create blog posts without putting in any real effort.
RedZeppelin: haha
Always glad to help without putting forth an effort myself.
Allclick: yes, I noticed on your blog that you have resorted to coping text from fiction now.
RedZeppelin: hehe
I figure as long as I keep at least a 2:1 ratio of my words to theirs I'm ok.
Allclick: I always thought it was odd that plagiarism is a sin, but imitation is the most sincere
form of flattery.
So what got you into the whole "blogging" thing?
RedZeppelin: Boredom?
Actually I was looking for a creative outlet in my otherwise humdrum life.
Blogging seemed like a nice way to express -- whatever needed expressing.
How about you?
Allclick: I guess I wanted to share things that were interesting to me, or that I found funny, and gain other perspectives about it. I hopefully wanted to make others laugh or gain some inspiration or think about something just a little harder
RedZeppelin: Ah, an optimist!
I gave up on making people think or reconsider their positions years ago.
Allclick: I think I still have the same aim but now just use it
as my own venting post.I write it on my blog so I don't have to dwell on the issue in my head any longer.
haha yes I'm an eternal optimist struggling to be a realist.
RedZeppelin: Most people cling to their beliefs like a shipwreck victim clings to a life preserver.
Allclick: that's very true!
RedZeppelin: There is far too little doubt today.
Allclick: I think with the posts that you have on your blog, though, you ARE making people think. Whether they want to or not. And whether you want them to or not! ha
Can you explain the "too little doubt" any further?
RedZeppelin: Well, people find news/op-ed sources -- a cable news channel, radio talk show, opinion blogs, news websites, etc. -- that always agree with them, assuring that they're only
going to hear or see opinions they share. That makes them feel good because the last thing they want to do is be exposed to a well-argued contrary opinion, because then they might have to consider for a moment that their position might be wrong. So hearing nothing but agreeing opinions all their lives they begin to feel certain that theirs is the only correct position, leaving no room for debate. When there is no doubt there is no room to learn. In order to learn anything you have to have some doubt in your own knowledge, or lack thereof. That makes you willing to accept new information that might change your opinion.
Allclick: I see what you mean. It IS comfortable to read articles that "prove" that one's opinion is the right one to have. I think that the comments section on News articles online has become so popular because it's satisfying when someone else can describe your argument but in a much better way.
RedZeppelin: True. But the problem is we NEED to be exposed to contrary beliefs. Even if it doesn't change our mind it makes us better thinkers by forcing us to reinforce our existing opinions. But the problem is we're moving the opposite way. Despite the full spectrum of opinions available at the click of a mouse, people are choosing only the information that agrees with them.
Allclick: Do you think that opinions can change in any circumstance?
RedZeppelin: Certainly! Smart and/or open-minded people will often change their opinions because they're always taking in new information. Unfortunately when a politician does it it's called waffling, a derogatory term.
Allclick: I think bloggers are almost of a different breed. I mean that they are likely to be more open to different opinions and seek out alternatives to what they have established.
Not that there aren't exceptions to that rule of course
RedZeppelin: In some cases, yeah, but some simply add to the echo chamber of concurring opinions.
Allclick: So how does one go about finding contrary opinions?
RedZeppelin: It's hard not to find them.
Read op-ed columns in newspapers you don't usually read. If someone makes a comment on your blog disagreeing with you and they have a blog, check it out. Opinions are the easiest things to come by on the net (aside from naked pictures of Pam Anderson). The problem isn't finding them, it's continuing to read them. Some of the best blog posts I read were by our pal
Jedi Jawa when he was in full pro-Hillary Clinton mode. I despise Hillary, but it interested me to read comments from someone passionately for her. I'm sure you've changed your mind on big issues before.
Allclick: and these pictures of Ms. Anderson can be located... where?
RedZeppelin: My hard drive? Oh, wait.
Allclick: That's what I really enjoy about blogging. The comments and finding other bloggers who may agree but in a slightly different way, or completely disagree. Or at least find someone who is passionate enough about the same topic to share any words.
RedZeppelin: Yeah. By the way, I don't want to come off holier than thou. I can be as guilty as the next when it comes to staying in my comfort zone and reading concurring opinions. It's very uncomfortable reading opinions that are contrary to yours.
Allclick: I don't remember reading those posts (on Jedi-Jawa's blog) but I can understand the interest. It is always interesting to read articles about something the author is obviously passionate about even if it's cloud formations or
hot dogs. Especially if it is an opposing view to your own.
Too late, Mr Holier than thou
I'm just trying to think about any big issues that I have changed my mind about. I can't think of a good example now but I'd say my views on immigration have changed a whole lot in the last 2
years. I tend to form an opinion on most matters but feel safe in discussing the idea and keep myself open to other view points.
RedZeppelin: And you still hate the Dutch, right?
Allclick: passionately. even the phrase "going dutch" or "dutch courage" gives me shivers.
So what do you look for in a good blog?
RedZeppelin: Naked pictures of Pam Anderson.
Allclick: Is that because you despise Pam Anderson and need to research opposing viewpoints?
RedZeppelin: Exactly.
Aside from that, a sense of humor. A blogger who doesn't take themselves too seriously. Someone who interacts with comments.
And naturally someone who blogs about things I'm interested in.


15 September, 2008

Time for a laugh?

Did you manage to catch the premiere of SNL this weekend? I caught the last sketch. If only I could remember what day it is on. Turns out it was its best season premiere since 2001 and the most watched SNL since 2002. A few writers have speculated the reason such as Tina Fey returning to the show to play Sarah Palin and that the host was Michael Phelps. These seem like pretty poor reasons for tuning in. Here's why:

a) I had no idea Tina Fey would be on the show, and was not surprised to find out she did appear as Sarah Palin (have you ever wondered why you never see the two of them at the same time?). So extrapolating from my information about me I can deduce that other people might also be unaware/unsurprised that she was on the show.

b) Michael Phelps, while very talented in the pool, has no acting or comedic experience (that I know of or that was evident in the last sketch I saw). Watching him talk about his experiences and training in an interview would be entertaining but watching him try and act could potentially be painful. Therefore, could he really be that much of a draw? Maybe in Baltimore.

I tend to think the real reason for the large audience is partly the fact that it's election season for el presidento and mostly because people need a good laugh. America has been hit by a couple of major hurricanes recently, there is serious trouble on Wall Street, the housing market is in serious decline, gas prices are "soaring" and television has sucked over the last 4 months. It's no surprise that folks are tuning in to watch a show that says "Hey, we understand what's going on at home, at work, at school. It sucks and here is why it's funny". Plus, who can resist McGruber.

12 September, 2008

News Roundup

1. Walgreens opens a new Hurricane store.
Perhaps in light of Ike landing down in Texas they could have rephrased the headline of this. Anyway, I had seen many adverts was Walgreens and wondered what the heck it was. I suppose I'll be able to find out now because of the new Hurricane and Huntington Walgreens. It's nice to see business growth in Putnam county but is there really a need for another pharmacy or another car dealership? Mayor Edwards seems to be pleased with the new Arby's and Taco bell that are being built alongside the new KFC but when are real restaurants going to be built in that area? If the only place to eat outside of the home is Taco Bell, KFC or Arby's I wouldn't be surprised to see the obesity levels increase. Why don't they put in an Outback, Longhorn, Chili's, O'Charleys? Somewhere where you can sit down and eat with your family or hang at the bar and watch "Footbaawwwl". Thanks Major Edwards but keep trying.

2. WV Bans School Bus Drivers Cell Phones
I'm not a parent but if I were I'd be pretty happy about this. The only thing I wouldn't be happy about is that it had taken so long to happen. So previously drivers in charge of 30(ish) kids safety would be operating a large vehicle while chatting to their buddies, with only one hand on the wheel? It would be hard enough concentrating without using the phone.

3. City Council awards paving contract (Herald Dispatch)
Yay. At last some of those road in Huntington are getting paved. 4 miles doesn't seem like a lot but I have a better idea. Instead of all the 26 separate projects (290 feet on one street, 1140 feet on another etc) just take that 4 miles of paving and fill in every single pothole. It should work out about even.

10 September, 2008

Something about Socialism

What is the deal with "Socialism"? It sure sounds like a nice word doesn't it? It even has the word "social" in it and everything with an -ism makes it sound way more fancy yet still there is an almost allergic reaction that takes place whenever the word is mentioned. I'm still not entirely sure why except the fact that people seem to associate it with Communism and Big Brother (not the TV show) type governments controlling everything. So, I asked my pal Mr. W. I Kipedia and found a heck of a long article that I wasn't much interested in. I instead narrowed my focus to socialized medicine *groan*.
Until I came to the states I had never even heard the UK's National Health System (NHS) refereed to as "Socialist" and it still makes me chuckle when I do hear it because it's said through gritted teeth. But the more I read about "Socialized medicine" the more I had to agree with Mr. Kipedia that it *SHOCK* already exists in the U S of A *SHOCK*. I know of more than one veteran who happily receives all their medicine and health needs from the local VA. A government run health care facility that is paid for by...taxes. Medicare and Medicaid can also be included in that they are a publicly funded system. Or so I am told.
As I delve deeper in the jungle of American culture like a confused, drunken explorer with a blindfold I wonder more and more about these kinda things. I don't really see where the problem is with adopting a complete health care system for all. In the current system Veterans, low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities are currently taken care of, potentially, by socialized medicine but apparently the rest of society does not deserve health care from the government. I suppose the wealthy few among us can afford to pay for private health care, as is sometimes the norm in other countries, so it is up to the individuals who are in the middle ground to fend for themselves.
The only problem with adopting this system is the taxes have gotta go up. Yes, yes I know. Taxes suck. But it's better than paying endless medical bills, paying for ambulances (this still surprises me) and emergency care as well as your health care insurance. I can almost hear the simultaneous clicking of a thousand mouses* closing the browser at this point and I doubt I'll sell anyone on the idea. But it's worth a bit of a deeper thought. Well this liberal aka limey thinks so anyway.

*probably more like 3 based on my current site meter count.

09 September, 2008

And back to the point

Well I'm going to wade out of politics and elections as that really isn't my strong point...and instead lets talk about sci-fi. Something that I do have a passion for. But first...

I watching tv the other night when the missus had put the FX channel on. A staple in their movie selection seems to either be X-men or I-robot and luckily this evening it was the latter. As we enjoyed the end of the movie I leaned over to Ms. Allclick and said "You know, this is nothing like the book". She wasn't interested in knowing that and I don't blame her, there was really no response. So, I began thinking about the nature of blogs and where the content comes from, as I frequently do. An obstacle for me sometimes is that I'll have a topic that I want to blog on, then I'll speak to someone about that issue, get it out of my system and forget about. In this instance, I didn't speak to Ms. Allclick about it so I get to share it on my blog. In other words, a discussion I didn't want to inflict on people I know gets to be read by people I don't. I wonder if that is true of other bloggers. They cannot find an audience at home for their thoughts and opinions so it gets voiced digitally.

On the other hand, I sometimes rant and rave about an issue to the other half and then end up venting some more on here but with a better perspective/stolen argument/bitter rage.

Seems I didn't get to mention much about sci-fi. If I don't get a chance to tell anyone in person about Issac Asimov, I'll be back.

04 September, 2008

The Dis-United States of November

I caught a part of the RNC last night. Mostly Sarah Palin's speech as I was attempting to read "Duma Key". As I listened to the whoops and cheers I couldn't help but think how divided the country will be come November. I mean, even after the election. Those on the "losing side" are going to feel alienated. Left out by their own country. Like their rights have been tossed aside. This feeling can only be increased by the spin doctoring and bad mouthing that each party do against each other. It's not "let the best man win". It's "make the worst guy stand out". I really hope I'm wrong but for some people there is going to be bitter resentment.

Why even have this division into parties? Why not every year whoever wants to become president forms their own party. I wonder who I can send this suggestion to.

03 September, 2008

This week...

I have been mostly playing: Resident Evil 2. Great stuff.