How to Get Rid of a Telemarketer... Nicely

I found a nice article on Lifehacker today that explains how telemarketing works and provides the best way to get rid of them.  I really dislike getting phone calls trying to sell me something I do not need or want.  They waste my time and deprive me of much needed down time after a long day at work.  I agree with virtually everything in the article except the part about not showing them any human kindness.  These people are getting yelled at, hung up on and otherwise ignored all day long.  

This situation reminds me of a quote I heard saying that basically I might be the only Bible somebody gets to read.  If I'm ignoring or hanging up on one of these people, I'm not exactly being true to my own values.  What I recommend is politely ending the call.  You treat the telemarketer with the utmost respect, even asking them something like how is their day going and then firmly state your need to hang up and make sure they understand you do not need them to call back later.  The risk is that they put notes in your file that might lead to more calls but if you have the energy to spare, spending a few extra seconds being hospitable before you terminate the call might make all the difference to somebody suffering in one of those telemarketing "boiler rooms" where they make hundreds of calls a day.

More Snow

Well we've gotten within 3 inches of the most snow in (recorded) history for Detroit.  I'm sick of it. I'm sick of looking at it. I'm slick of falling on ice when I try to walk the dogs. I'm tired of not being able to open my car door in my driveway next to the 2 foot snow drift that was once my lawn.  

My neice doesn't even call and ask me to take her to the snow hill any more.  Even she's sick of it.  

A couple of guys at the office are saying they think we should go for it!  We should get one or two more little snowfalls so we can at least get credit for all we've endured this winter.  I say that after all this it really doesn't matter.  Two days before thanksgiving I picked up a bag of bulbs to plant for spring.  I knew that it was cold but I expected a thaw in early December that would allow me to plant them anyway.  Then January.  Then February.  It's time for the freakin' thaw already!

Jeff's Cable Cutting Guide - Part 3

We've been living without Comcast for several months now. All is fine except there are times when signals fade in and out. My wife likes Murdock which only comes on CBET at times in the day when the signal is intermittent.  The last time we set a schedule to record it using Elegato EyeTV, we got 12 minutes of an hour program.  I've been happy with my Mohu Sky antenna... but... it needs to be above the tree line.

I've been planning to move it since Thanksgiving but this bitter cold snowy winter and consistently getting home after dark has prevented me from getting up on the extension ladder to move it to the roof line... Until yesterday.  I arrived home about an hour before it would get dark and immediatly swung into action. I moved my the car out of the way so I could get the ladder down and move it to the back of the house to install the bracket for the antenna near the gutter on the upper south east corner of the house.  I pulled out the step-ladder and took the antenna bracket down so I could move it up.  After 45 minutes, I had the antenna loose in my hand, with its 30 feet of RG6 cable and I was ready to make the climb.  It takes a lot of positioning to stop an aluminum extension ladder from moving around on snow while it's snowing but I got it done.  I had a couple of more ladder-positioning exercises to get tie wraps in place to secure the cable to the house properly and I went inside to witness the results.  We pick up every channel strong and clear now. No more degradation at certain times of the day.  

Snow

Well it's about time.  That's all I can say.  No more wimpy little 3 inch fizzles followed by 50 degree thaws.  When I say I want winter I mean WINTER. Oh I wish I'd kept my big mouth shut.  So yesterday we had to drop Liz off at MSU.  As we left in the morning, there were about 5 inches on the ground.  I know it was 5 inches because I pushed 5 inches with the snowblower before leaving for church.  We went to hear our son as music minister at Divine Shepherd Lutheran in Ann Arbor.  The music was great and so was the sermon.  While Catholics were celebrating Epiphany, the Lutherans seem content to wait until Monday.  I put the wise men out on our front porch nativity scene a day early.  

As we left church, the snow was intensifying.  We ate at Big Boy watching huge fluffy flakes and soon left going north on 23 toward MSU.  I don't remember seeing this much snow in at least a decade.  We drove through the epicenter between Howell and Brighton where the snow would  total 16 inches.  When we got to MSU and dropped her off, we considered bringing her bike home, except I'd have to dig out a huge snow drift to put it in the shed when we got it home and she didn't want to deal with the 11 inches that were already on top of her bike by then.  

Jeff's Spicy Chili

This chili recipe is combined from chili I have made for years and recent ingredients I discovered through online research and through friends' suggestions. It is a chili that can range from mild to inferno, depending on how heavy-handed you are with the Habanero Sauce and whether you use Ghost Peppers. This chili is very colorful because it features 2 colors of Bell Peppers and this year I switched from green Bell Peppers which are not as sweet as the other colors and I used Jalapenos instead.  They don't add excessive heat but do wonders for the flavor.  You can use a whole can of Chipotle Peppers as long as you are making a large enough batch of chili.  I don't recommend a whole can unless you are winding up with at least 2 to 3 gallons of chili.

It is best not to cook and cook this chili until all the veggies turn to mush.  It is better to keep some texture to them by only cooking long enough for flavors to combine, then let the chili rest overnight in the fridge.  

Ingredients:

2 pounds Ground Sirloin

2 Bell Beppers (yellow, orange or red) - diced

6 Jalepeno Peppers - thin sliced

2 medium Onions - diced

3 or 4 cloves of Garlic - thin sliced

2 cans Tomato Sauce

1 can Tomatos with Green Chilis

1 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce

1 can Red Kidney Beans 

Black Pepper - to taste

Garlic Powder - to taste

Chili Powder - 3 tablespoons - to taste

Dave's Gourmet Hurtin' Habenero pepper sauce - 1 tablespoon - to taste

Jeff's Egg Nog

Ingredients:

1 Dozen eggs (pasteurized eggs are best, Davidson's "Safest Choise Eggs" available from Papa Joes).

1 Quart Half and Half

1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Cup Sugar

Nutmeg - (4 tablespoons or to taste)

Vanilla Extract - (1 tablespoon or to taste)

1 cup Rum or Bourbon (optional when using pasteurized eggs)

 

First Day:

1) Separate Egg Whites from Yolks.  Store Egg Whites in refrigerator for later use. 

2) Add sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg to egg yolks, mixing thoroughly. Add Rum (optional) and mix thoroughly. Store in refrigerator for later use.

Second (or later) Day:

IMPORTANT: If not using pastuerized eggs, you must use 80 proof or higher alchohol and leave Rum/Yolk mixture in fridge for at least 24 hours.

1) Whip Egg Whites with a hand or electric mixer using an aerating mixer whisk. Add some sugar to egg whites to taste.  Whip until they "peak" when pulling out the whisk. Place whipped egg whites in large mixing bowl and set aside.

2) Whip Heavy Whipping Cream it is the consistency of cool whip, adding sugar to taste. Then add to egg whites in large mixing bowl.

3) Add egg yolk mixture to large mixing bowl and mix on slow setting with whisk or normal beaters.

4) Add Quart of Half and Half and mix on slow setting with whisk or normal beaters.

5) Add Nutmeg to taste and mix on slow setting with whisk or normal beaters.

 

Yield: About 1.5 gallons of egg nog with (optional about 2.5% alchohol by volume).

 

Jeff's Guide to Cable Cutting - Episode 2

There have been several developments since my first installment in this series.  

Comcast Pricing...

Comcast jacked up our internet rate so I had to drop to a slightly lower data tier to get below $65 a month.  Apparently they no longer offer promotions unless you buy some kind of cable from them.  Well I've already taken their former cable wire to use for my central antenna so I'm not going to undo all of that work. I called AT&T about Uverse and pricing is worse than Comcast.  3 MBPS costs $29, 6 MBPS costs $39 and 12 MBPS costs $49.  On Comcast, I'm getting 24 MBPS for $65 so for now we stick with Comcast, especially in light of the poor reliability of Uverse when you're more than 2500 feet from the fiber cabinet.  And yes, our house is more than 2500 feet from At&t's closest fiber cabinet.

Mohu Sky Antenna...

Last Wednesday, every channel went pixelated during the wind storm so I ordered a better antenna online. Yesterday I got my Mohu Sky HDTV antenna deliverd from Amazon.  We can now get CBET channel 9 from Windsor.  I've moved the outdoor antenna to the southeast corner of the house in the hope of putting it closer to the weaker signals and this, along with the Mohu sky has worked. I had plans to put it above the roof line but as an intermediate step, I put it on exposed wood between the first and second floors.  Seems good enough for now. Time will tell.

DVR...

Jeff's Guide to Cable Cutting

We were at a family gathering this weekend and I mentioned that we had cut our cable.  My cousin Larry asked for some details about how we get TV and I mentioned "Netflix", "Hulu" and Internet TV.  I later realized I had told him almost nothing at all about the details involved in cutting cable.  First of all you need high speed internet.  Secondly you need some kind of smart tv or internet tv set top box or computer at each TV.  Lastly you need some kind of antenna for decent reception as losing signal with DTV means long periods of silence and gigantic pixels and you miss something.

Step 0: Sick of Comcast

Thunderbolt and Lightning, the beginning of the end for Apple? Perhaps the beginning of the end of Apple being the 800 pound gorilla.

Once upon a time, I was a happy Palm user.  It seemed like the little company could simply do no wrong.  They decided at one point to change connection systems for all of their PDAs and that happened around the same time as a downward slide from which they never recovered. In hindsight, that slide was more due to better products from competitors like Blackberry and later Apple.  Still, giving a user an "excuse" to try something else is never a good business practice and the added expense of Thunderbolt and Lightning to some users are all the excuse they need to look elsewhere.
 

A Brother Printer Hassle

I routinely recommend Brother printers to my friends.  I have been delighted with the way they work. In the past few months, I decided to rename our wireless SSID.  This meant that any of our Brother printers would need to be set up again.  No big deal.  Or so I thought.  It turns out that even if you connect a very long ethernet cable to that wifi printer at the opposite end of the house, the Brother 2170 ignores it.  It wants to keep speaking to a wifi SSID that has gone bye bye.  At this point, Brother engineers should have decided that if wifi is down, the printer should just connect to wired. But no.  I had to reset the printer.  This meant holding "Go" while turning on power.  Wait for all 4 LEDs to come on then release "Go".  Now hit "Go" 7 more times.  Is this world war 2?  Am I setting up an Enigma machine for God's sake?  Then I have to waste 3 sheets of paper printing out printer status that could have easily fit on one page.  I printed printer status about 20 times tonight.  Brother owes me almost a half ream of paper.  Then I have to scan the network to figure out what IP address the printer got for itself.  Ok no problem. I log in. I enter my wifi settings.  But wait.  There are so many wifi settings to enter. I haven't seen this much wifi minutia since Windows XP.  Do I really need to provide 4 WEP keys AND a passphrase when I'm running WPA?  The printer can't figure out whether it's AES or TKIP?  I have to go dig up that little tidbit?  All my iThings merily figure this sort of stuff out on their own.  As did my recently purchased Honeywell thermostat.

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