Monday, June 30, 2008

As Promised: Don't Buy Maytag

Based on the responses that I got from my previous post , inspired by the inimitable Pedro Vera , I've decided to now detail my experience with my good friends at Maytag.

We bought our house in 2004. It was built in 1977. When we bought it, we knew that most of the appliances in it were old, if not original, so we went in with our eyes open. Little did we know. In the nearly 4 years that we've been living here, we've been forced to replace the water heater, the heat pump/furnace, the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, the garbage disposal, two faucets and a shower head. The refrigerator is making funny noises now.

We turned the extra room downstairs into our guest room. It's right next to the laundry room. It wasn't evident when we bought the house, but we found that if we closed the door to that room for a few days, it developed a musty, mildewy smell. A few weeks later, we determined that there was a very small leak from the washing machine right up against the wall to the guest room. Aha! The source of the locker-room aroma. Given that the washer and dryer were made of wood and and the instruction manuals were in hieroglyphics, we decided that it probably wasn't worth it to try and have them repaired, so the shopping begins.

We compared prices, models, features, different stores, etc., being the savvy shoppers that we are. We eventually settled on a midgrade Maytag washer and dryer set from Lowes. It was installed the next day, and we laundered our little hearts out.

On the second or third day after our purchase, we noticed a rather large puddle of water in laundry room. Checked all the connections, everything's tight. No water leaking. We decided to experiment and so started the washing machine on its "large" setting with no clothes in it.

It filled up. No problem.

It started agitating. No problem.

It finished its first cycle and started draining. Animals began coming to our house by twos. I was checking Genesis to try to get the specs on that whole ark thingy. Turns out that I didn't have a tape that measured in cubits.

Not a big problem. It's less than a week old. We'll just call Maytag since it's still under warranty by anybody's definition. We call, and they tell us they can come out next Wednesday. No sooner? No, sorry, we're very busy (so much for that lonely repair guy).

So I take Wednesday off, because the repairman will be here sometime between 2 AM and 11 PM. I gave them an hour past the latest time they were supposed to be here before I called. I was told that "whoever scheduled this appointment didn't know what they were doing" and that I had been rescheduled to next Tuesday. I pointed out that no one had bothered to call and tell me this, and they apologized for the glitch.

Oh well, what are you gonna do? It's still a free repair under warranty and we still have plenty of clean clothes, although there's mini-Everest forming in the bedroom.

So I take Tuesday off (sometime between 2 AM and 11 PM). I gave them 15 minutes after the latest time they were supposed to be here before I called. I was told that "the repairman didn't have a part that he needed" and that I'd been rescheduled for next Tuesday.

I lost it. I went completely ballistic. I yelled. I told them that it simply wouldn't do. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told that the person I was talking to had all the authority that any supervisor had. So now they're rescheduling for two weeks in a row without bothering to call and they won't even give me the satisfaction of putting a superior on the line.

They said that perhaps I should call someone local who did Maytag warranty work. They gave me a list of 5 numbers in the area that I could call. I started calling. I looked in the Yellow Pages under every single listing in Northern Virginia that had "Maytag" under appliance repair. I came to the realization that there is not one single representative in all of Northern Virginia or Washington, DC that will do Maytag warranty work.

So what do I do now? They've sort of got us by the short hairs, as it were. Can't use the washer, rapidly running out of clean clothes, can't get Maytag to respond, nobody else will touch a Maytag under warranty. I guess we just call them back, explain what we've been through, and tell them that the next person they hear from will be my attorney, as I've been off work for two days because of their ineptitude.

My wife, God bless her, got in the car and went back to Lowes without me, because I was a quivering mass of angry badgers at this point. I might have bitten someone (a la Green Canary). About halfway through her tale of woe to the Lowes appliances manager, he interrupted her and said, "How 'bout if we just bring you another one?"

Really? Is this something akin to that "customer service" thing I've heard so much about?

The next day, Lowes delivered us a shiny, new washer. The installer guys told me that they wished they had a nickel back for every Maytag appliance they've had to replace. Thankfully, it's been working ever since. I still have Maytag appliances, but they're the last ones I'll ever own.

The funny thing is, I know that this blog entry will net me some Maytag advertisements, much as my previous entry got me many, many Verizon ads. Don't be fooled.

So shop at Lowes. We've never had a problem with them or their service. Just don't buy anything from Maytag.

UPDATE: I meant to post this in the original. We never called Maytag to cancel the third appointment, and we never heard from them again. For all I know, we're still being rescheduled for the repair.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Inspired by Pedro Vera (Don't Purchase Anything from Verizon)

I've already commented on Pedro Vera's Web Log, but since I've been tempted to relate my Verizon experience here for some time, I decided to let Mr. Vera's blog entry push me into writing my story.

Don't buy anything from Verizon. Don't buy FIOS, don't buy DSL, don't buy local phone service, don't buy long distance, don't buy cellular, and if Verizon starts selling cute, fluffy bunnies, don't buy a cute, fluffy bunny from Verizon.

I was a Verizon customer for many, many years. I had local phone service from them while living in two different places in North Carolina for some 16 years. When I moved from NC to Northern Virginia, I called Verizon to tell them about the move.

Verizon: What features would you like at your new number?
Gilahi: Same as I have now, just local service and voice-mail.
Verizon: We can't do that.
Gilahi: ?
Verizon: We only sell packages of services now. The package that contains voice mail also contains call waiting and call forwarding for only $15.95 a month.
Gilahi: But that's not what got last time I moved, and it's not what I want now. I never use call forwarding because it's just never that important to get hold of me, and call waiting is the most aggravating thing that any phone company has come up with since phone solicitors. All I really want is voice-mail, besides which that only costs me $5.00 a month.
Verizon: I'm sorry, the system is set up in such a way that I simply can't order strictly voice-mail for you. I have to order a package. What you can do is order the package and when you get to your new residence, call back and cancel call waiting and call forwarding.
Gilahi: You have got to be kidding me.

She wasn't kidding. This should have been my first clue that Verizon was an organization of weasels. Still, I was engaged and giddy with the prospects of moving in with my lovely bride and moving to a new state and so forth, and I'd been a Verizon customer for years, and they did give me a way to get what I wanted, even though it involved me taking care of it instead of them.

When I plugged my phone into the wall jack at my rental place in Virginia, did I call my fiance? My daughter? My mother? Hell no. I called Verizon and cancelled call waiting and call forwarding. You know the reason they set it up this way is because some significant percentage of people never make that call and the weasels at Verizon grow fat and lethargic making people pay for features they never use.

So I was a relatively content Verizon customer for the years I rented. I even got DSL from Verizon and was pretty happy with that for a few years.

Then we bought a house, approximately 10 miles down the road from where we were renting. At the new house, the phone sounded scratchy and DSL didn't work at all. Called Verizon. They came and determined that the problem was inside the house and, since I didn't have a service contract with them, it would cost me $75.00 for them to come in and diagnose the issue. Over the years I'm sure I would have paid a lot more than that in service contract fees, so I figured I could just count this as a moving expense. Of course, they couldn't do it that day, they had to come back another time.

They did. A different technician came and examined every phone line running through the house. He couldn't find a problem at all. He determined that the issue must be outside the house, and he wasn't equipped to handle that.

And so it went. The outside guys said it was inside. The inside guys said it was outside.

I actually finally talked to a technician who told me what was going on: Our house is approximately 2500 feet from the nearest switching station. The reasonable limit for a signal is about 1800 feet (or so he said). He told me that 92% of my signal was being used just to try to boost the signal to my house, leaving me 8% for actual Internet access. He said that I had the worst possible situation: Technically I had DSL support, but practically I would never be able to use it.

I called in Cox for broadband and digital phone service. No problems, and when I got my first phone call, I realized that I had turned the volume all the way up on all of my phones just to hear people and now they were deafening me. No problems with the connections either inside or outside the house.

So Verizon misrepresented my ability to use their service, but that's not the end of it.

After having been a customer of theirs for some 20 years and moving with them across two states, when I moved 10 miles away they managed to misspell my name in the phone book. Not only are my friends and family not able to find me listed in the phone book, but apparently some joker whose name is spelled the Verizon way is a real deadbeat. I've gotten numerous phone calls and letters from collection agencies looking for the wrong guy.

Dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages to Verizon later, I still pick up the new white pages every time they come out, and I still find my name spelled incorrectly. I even had one "customer service representative" tell me that since I was no longer a Verizon customer, they would just remove my name from the phone book.


Do I even need to say it? The next edition came out and I was still in it, still misspelled.

Please don't by anything at all ever from Verizon. If you do, don't say I didn't warn you.

Coming soon: Don't buy Maytag.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

OK, One More Time: I Have GOT to Get a Hobby

I received one of those e-mail lists of "Fun Facts" today. Among them was this:

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It's like a human jumping the length of a football field.

I had to reply. I just had to. I would have been more likely to never breathe again than not reply. My work would have suffered. My home life would have fallen apart. You'd have seen me mumbling to myself beside a shopping cart downtown without the benefit of having a cell phone at my ear. There was simply no way to avoid it. Here's my response, verbatim:

I don't know why I do this, but....

That thing about a flea jumping 350 times its body length being equivalent to a human jumping the length of a football field just doesn't compute.

Assuming the average person is 5 1/2 feet tall, that's 1 5/6 or 1.8333 yards tall.

350 * 1.8333 yards is 641.666 yards.

A football field is 100 yards long.

So the assertion just doesn't match up. Jumping 350 times your body length would be the equivalent of jumping nearly 6 1/2 football fields.

So now I just don't believe any of it.

I'm not sure, but I suspect that this is why nobody wants to play with me. I'll leave it up to your imagination how the sender responded to this.

If the sender should read this, I apologize. Please don't stop sending me lists of fun facts. I promise never to over-analyze again. Really. Although if my head explodes, it'll be your fault.

Thank God people have stopped sending around "Stephen Wright" quotes that are full of lines by Oscar Wilde and Groucho Marx. I was really busy there for a while.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Maybe I Should Find A Hobby

Things I wonder about:

Why do advertisers tell me that their product is "not sold in stores"? Is this a good thing? I always think, "What? Couldn't you find one single store anywhere that was willing to put your piece of crap on the shelf?"

And why do they tell me that if I call in the next 10 minutes they'll cut me a deal? Am I supposed to believe that somebody somewhere is aware of every airing of this commercial everywhere in the country and is sitting with a stopwatch to ensure that I've called in time? "You're in the DC area? Sorry, you missed the deadline by 18 seconds."

Why is there a "u" in "four", "fourth" and "fourteen", but not in "forty"?

Why do we clean up, but we scrub down (unless you're a surgeon, in which case you scrub up)?

Why is the alphabet in that order?

What's a hubcap diamond star halo? (Gratuitous song reference here.)

How on earth did "Family Circus" get into all those newspapers?

If Wile E. Coyote was so smart and he could afford all the stuff from Acme, why didn't he just buy something to eat?

Why does every seaside place have a "beach" except New Jersey?

What if they're wrong and everything east of California breaks off and falls into the ocean?

Why does Geddy Lee sound that way?

I lose sleep at night. Dunno why.

So Many of the Icons of My Youth Are Leaving Us

Some people say the glass is half empty.
Others say the glass if half full.
I say the glass is too big.

--George Carlin

I, for one, will miss you, George.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Official Blog of Unrelated Things Day

I was clipping coupons this morning. Yeah, Mr. Excitement, that's me. I came across a coupon for a particular brand of cookie that styles itself as being pretty upscale. As if a cookie can have cache. This is like calling your product "Donald Trump Short Ribs" or "The Ritz Carlton E-Z Storage Facility".

Anyway, there was just the one coupon on a sheet that was mostly an ad for this cookie, and the maker is apparently very proud of the fact that it's "The Official Cookie of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week."

What? There's the Mercedes logo and shot of runway models. Am I expected to believe that these 60-pound, stick-legged, limp-haired women have ever eaten one of these cookies? I'm pretty sure they have to velcro the clothes onto them because if you wrap a piece of cloth around a popsicle stick, it has a tendency to fall off. And aside from the aforementioned attempt at cache, what does Mercedes-Benz have to do with cookies? Or fashion, for that matter? Why does Mercedes-Benz have a fashion week, and what do cookies have to do with it? Is there an official pizza? Is there an official ice cream to go with those cookies? Is there an official emetic for the models if they should happen to accidentally ingest a cookie? Am I supposed to think to myself, "I think I'll hop in the ol' Benz, drive down to see fashion week, and have myself a cookie?" Why is this good advertising?

It makes me wonder what other disjointed "official" sponsorships are out there.

"The Official Bourbon of Amish Hell Week"

"The Official Pencil of The Microsoft Hot Air Balloon Rally"

"The Official Whaleburger of Greenpeace in America"

"The Official Hot Sauce of The Iditarod"

"The Official Dog Food of The Academy Awards"

"The Official Horseradish of The Democratic National Committee"

"The Official Teddy Bear of Amalgamated Lumberjacks #304"

Advertising sometimes makes my head hurt.

Maybe I should just relax and have a cookie.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Daytime at BBC America

Nothing ever happens.
Nothing happens at all.
The needle returns to the start of the song
and we all sing along like before.

--del Amitri

Daytime programming is dismal. There are talk shows, game shows, a plethora of "judge" shows, soap operas, and infomercials.

Daytime programming on "BBC America" is the pits. It's the place where the pits go to spit out the pits. I don't know if the BBC pioneered the reality show, but they certainly sunk it to the depths of the English Channel. The thing is, most of them are disgusting. I don't mean that they're badly produced (though they are), badly acted (though they are) or badly conceived (though they are), I mean that they show you really disgusting things. They simply love to have shots of scantily-clad, morbidly obese people, refrigerators and/or stoves that are caked with slime, animal feces in peoples' living rooms, and Gordon Ramsay.

But the real problem with them is that every single episode of a given series is exactly like every other episode in the series. You could set your watch by the order in which things occur. Once you've seen one episode of any of them, you've pretty much seen the entire series.

I don't know when some of these shows were originally created or how popular they were in Britain when they first came out, but here are a few examples of the kinds of things you will see if you're ever robbed, tied to a chair, and the thief leaves BBC America playing on your television:

You Are What You Eat

The anorexic Gillian Hall visits a family that lives on pizza, pastry, beer, soda, sugar cubes, and the neighbor's pets, all fried in lard. Their exercise regimen consists of putting their hands over their mouths when they burp. She will describe their symptoms in lurid detail, including flatulence, body odor, halitosis, lack of sex drive, heartburn, a diminished sense of fashion, sleep apnea, and those flappy things on the upper arms. She will be direct. She will be insulting. I swear to God that in every single episode she will have them poop into a container so that she can examine it. She will describe how incredibly awful their poop smells. Presumably hers smells like lilacs. She will send them to the doctor and the doctor will confirm that they are, indeed, fat. She will lay out a table full of doughnuts, gallons of beer, pounds of fat, and will tell them that this is the equivalent of what they eat in a week. They will be stunned. They may or may not cry (crying is always a big draw in reality shows). She will teach them how to shop for and cook fruits, vegetables, tofu, feldspar, algae, and sea creatures. She will teach them to exercise, usually just walking or bouncing on a trampoline. They will hate it. They will talk about how disgusting it is. They will buck up and do it anyway. Flash to eight weeks later. This will astonish you, but they will have lost weight. They will show you before/after shots. They will show you how big their old pants used to be. There will be an interview at the end in which they will confess that they don't fart as much as they used to, and they actually had sex once. See what I mean about disgusting imagery? They will never, ever, go back to the way they used to be.

Cash In The Attic

A family needs to raise money for renovation/college/starting a business/a new toupee/a loanshark/whatever. They're hoping that there are unknown treasures in their 3-room farmhouse. These three guys come in and start opening cabinets and closets. They find various things that I wouldn't pick up at Wal-Mart and estimate what they're worth. Once they've found everything that the owners are willing to sell, their estimated value will be a few pounds short of what the family needs. The family will take them to a very conveniently unsearched barn/attic/shed/outhouse and (surprise!) there's some treasure there that will put them right over the top of what they want, provided that everything sells for the top-end estimate. They will go to auction. One of four things will happen for each item: 1) It won't sell. Nobody will bid. The family will be disappointed, but the announcer will pin their hopes on the next item. 2) The item will sell, but not for nearly as much as they anticipated. See announcer's response for 1. 3) There will be bids on the item, but the owner has stupidly placed a minimum on the item so they get nothing. See announcer's response for 1. 4) The item will sell for something around the low end of the estimated price, and they will declare it a success. "We estimated that this antique ivory nose hair trimmer would sell for somewhere between 2 pounds and 5,000 pounds. It sold for 2 pounds 50, so we hit the nail right on the head." At the end of the episode, there will be commiseration. "You needed 10,000 pounds to start your cat-shaving business and we only raised 12 pounds, but that should be enough to get you off the ground, right?" The people smile and agree that while it wasn't what they hoped for, this is a good start.

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

It is very difficult to watch this *bleep*ing piece of *bleep* after the first couple of *bleep*ing episodes. I don't know about the *bleep*ing nighttime version, but they apparently only made about 6 *bleep*ing episodes of this *bleep*ing show. Every *bleep*ing third word out of Ramsay's *bleep*ing mouth has to be *bleep*ing bleeped out. Sometimes you only get one or two *bleep*ing words out of an entire *bleep*ing sentence. There will be a *bleep*ing restaurant somewhere that used make a lot of *bleep*ing money, but now it's in the *bleep*. Ramsay will come in, insult everyone there, and be *bleep*ing "gobsmacked" when they take *bleep*ing umbrage. What a bunch of *bleep*s. His *bleep*ing recipe for success is always to simplify their *bleep*ing menu and serve nothing but simple, good, honest, *bleep*ing English food. The *bleep*ing people in this *bleep*ing town don't want *bleep*ing *bleep*, they're simple *bleep*ing folk who just want a good *bleep*ing local piece of *bleep*ing fish. The *bleep*ing owner and/or *bleep*ing chef will resist and insist that their formula works. Ramsay will inform them that they're *bleep*ing full of *bleep* because they're losing the equivalent of the *bleep*ing national treasury every *bleep*ing week. He'll come up with some clever *bleep*ing contest to prove they're *bleep*ing wrong. Free *bleep*ing samples of *bleep*ing good food. His *bleep*ing version of toad in the *bleep*ing hole versus theirs. In the end, they will take his *bleep*ing advice and become *bleep*ing billionaires. Like anybody could do this serving *bleep*ing English food. I'll be *bleep*ed.

How Clean Is Your House?

I don't know where they find these people. I've lived in a messy place. I've created messy places. The people in this show live like zoo animals a year after the keeper has passed away. You can't walk through their places for all the clutter. The animals have peed on all the carpets and it's never been cleaned. The refrigerator is full of green fuzzy things. There are no sheets on the mattresses in the bedrooms. The toilets are blackened. There are flies, maggots, dust, mice, and maybe lobsters, who can tell? Enter Kim Woodburn (the sassy one, left) and Aggie McKenzie (the smart one, right). They will tour the place and, since this can't be conveyed on TV, describe how it all smells. Next, confront the owner. How did this happen? How can you live like this? Owner is repentant. Owner may cry (see above). Owner has called them in because girlfriend won't visit/setting bad example for kids/daughter won't bring grandchild to house in this condition. Scene shift: Kim & Aggie change into their "whites", usually accompanied by some clever camera work (they walk behind a tree in their street clothes and emerge from the other side in their whites, followed by a stream of assistants magically appearing from behind the tree with them). They put yellow tape around the house that says "Cleaning in progress". Kim spends the next half hour showing the owner how you can mix lemon juice, salt, and beef gravy and use it to scrub the scum off of your leather-bound books, while Aggie goes into the kitchen and bathroom and takes swabs off the counters, stove, refrigerator, toilet, sink, and budgie. Commercial. The results are back from the lab. Gosh, there are bacteria. Ladle on the guilt. You don't want to make your grandchild sick, do you? No wonder your poodle has asthma. You're a real pig, aren't you? I've seen crackhouses cleaner than this. They clean, they paint, they replace carpet, they throw away multiple dumpsters full of crud. Commercial. Now show the owner through their "new" place. Before and after shots. Owner is astonished, amazed, surprised, pleased. Owner may, once again, cry. Kim & Aggie get hugs. Now for the suspenseful part: Two weeks later, Kim & Aggie stop back by "unannounced", although how the cameraman gets inside the house to film the owner opening the door is beyond me. Guess what? After 30 years of being the poster child for slovenly living, these people have magically turned around and their house is still spotless. I mean "Better Homes & Gardens" spotless. One cleaning and it's an epiphany and their lives are completely changed. We don't need to rehabilitate criminals, tear down dictators, or bust drug cartels, we just need to clean up a little. I'm sure Osama bin Laden would see the error of his ways if somebody just swept out his cave once in a while.

There. You never, ever have to watch BBC America during the day. If you've read this far, you've seen it all already. I've done the dirty work for you. Try not to make the thanks in your comments too effusive.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It SHOULD Be Funny

Just not feeling particularly humorous these days. Not inspired to write. I apologize to my legions of completely imaginary fans for not posting anything for days.

Even this didn't cheer me up:

On "Family Feud" (Gimme a break, you've all seen it), the question is "Name an animal that starts with the letter 'R'". Quick slap on the buzzer, get the number one answer, choose to play, host goes to the second member of the family: "Orang-utan... No wait! That starts with 'A'!!!"


I was reminded of a very old episode of "The Newlywed Game" (That's enough! If you hadn't seen it, too, you wouldn't be making fun of me.). 25-point bonus question, asked of the big-haired, giggly wives: "Name the capitol of your husband's home state." Big-haired, giggly Suzy: "New York City". I've begun to develop a divot in my forehead from slapping it. Bring out the Rhodes Scholars who constitute the set of husbands on the show. "What is the capitol of your home state?" Big-haired, giggly Suzy's Rhodes Scholar husband: "New York City".

And it case it didn't register with you, they won. The rules don't say you have to be right, you just have to match.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How Going Wireless Caused Me Pain

READER NOTE: In an effort to keep this blog as PG-rated as possible and to avoid having to check the dreaded "Adult Content" box in my settings, I have developed a sophisticated and complex system to warn you when I'm about to make a reference that could be construed as, shall we say, delicate. Any content that is in doubt will be preceded by the following flag: "Um".

Cause and effect can be a slippery slope. Years ago, I worked for a brokerage firm. This was in the days when we still had news tickers on the floor.

A story came across the ticker one day that a school of small fish had been killed off the New England coast by something akin to a red tide. Sad, but, why is this worthy of time on an Associated Press ticker? One of the financial analysts at the company knew from his years of research and experience that these fish were harvested, dried, and ground up to be used as a protein supplement for pet food. Since the fish had died, he knew that an alternate protein source would have to be found. He called all of his customers and told them to put as much money into soybean futures as they could possibly afford. Soybeans skyrocketed, his clients made a bucket of money, he made a bucket of commissions, and I was left wondering whether that whole computer science degree was all it was cracked up to be. It would never in a million years have occurred to me that the death of a school of nondescript, tiny fish off the coast of Massachusetts would impact the price of soybeans, but that's why he retired early and I'm hoping I don't have to eat cat food with soybeans in it after I retire.

So a few months ago, I started feeling some discomfort in my, um, "nether regions". Nothing debilitating, mind you, just a bit of an ache as if I had taken a, um, tennis ball in the crotch the previous day. Maybe a feeling as if there was some swelling. Some days were worse than others, and there never seemed to be any negative impact on, um, performance or the usual, um, functions of that part of the anatomy. Still, I've reached the age where discomfort of this sort can be a cause of some concern.

Here's what you never, ever want to do: When you have some symptom, go onto the web and Google it. Just don't. Here are some real-life examples of some symptoms I Googled and the resulting possible causes of those symptoms:

  • thumb, itch, symptom - atopic dermatitis, chronic kidney disease, contact dermatitis, diabetes, neurodermatitis

  • throat, sore, symptom - viral infection, throat infection, bacterial infection, strep throat, mononucleosis, respiratory infection, herpes simplex, pharyngitis, laryngitis, croup, tonsillitis, pertonsillar abscess, sinusitis, glossitis, gingivitis, trench mouth, foot and mouth disease, gonorrhea, diptheria, Ludwig's angina

  • thumb, sore, symptom - bacterial meningitis, chickenpox, erythema nodosum, keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans (!), measles, melanoma

So there you have it. If your thumb is sore, you could have melanoma. If it itches, you could have chronic kidney disease. Don't even look up coughing, sneezing, headache, or discomfort in your, um, parts. Just don't.

So I was at the doctor's office for a completely different reason, and I'm in the examination room waiting for the doctor to arrive, and I'm thinking that I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable today, and I'm wondering if I should even mention this to the doctor, and I'm wondering if I really even want to know what the problem is, when it all clicked in my head.

A few months earlier, we had installed a wireless router in our house for the first time. I work from home from time to time, and instead of sitting upstairs in our office chained to a modem, I was enjoying my wireless freedom by working in our family room. I would also often just leave the laptop there over the weekend and poke at it from time to time, so for a few days every week I was down there. There's one coffee table in our family room in front of our cushy couch. It's low. The result was that I was spending hours and hours every week in a position like this:

Note the bent back. Note the uncomfortable reach. Note that this guy is obviously dead and yet is still trying to work. Imagine this on a soft, cushy couch, and note that there would be a pressure point right on the, um, area in question.

Once the dawn came, I immediately moved my work-at-home days back to our office with its ergonomically correct (or at least much better) chair. I'm happy to say that after a few weeks, I'm symptom-free.

Cause and effect. It would never in a million years have occurred to me that installing a router in my office could cause me to wonder if I had developed some sort of, um, male-oriented cancer.

If you're in pain, don't panic. It might be your router.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In Memoriam

A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun.

--Bo Diddley

Thanks, Bo, for all you gave us. Full story here.

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