Friday, July 31, 2009

Drunk Driving

Read this article for background: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073004030.html

I think drunk driving should be punished thusly:
  • 1st offense, no fatality: permanent revoking of the offender's driving privileges
  • 2nd offense, no fatality: mandatory installation of breathlyzer for offender's cars (and all cars to which the offender has access)
  • 3rd offense, no fatality: 10 year prison sentence
  • fatality (regardless of # of offense): charged with murder 1
To me anyone who drinks and drives is essentially saying: "everybody's live isn't worth the inconvenience of me taking a cab". The person is saying: "hmm, who can I find to kill tonight". I really don't care if you took 1 or 2 drinks. Why should everybody have to pay a hefty price for your inability to watch what you drink?

Take the care of this f**king bastard. He rang up tab of $107 (17 bottles of Corona, 2 Lemon Drops and 1 Cuervo Gold) and proceeded to get on the highway. He causes an accident, leaves the scene, calls 911 to report his injury and then checks into an hotel room. Doesn't turn himself in until the next day. So tell me, what right does a bastard like that have to life? Why should he live when he knowingly consumed a huge amount of alcohol before driving? BTW, this guy has previous convictions for drunk driving, reckless driving, selling marijuana and speeding.

To add insult to injury, he's only charged and convicted for manslaughter and could be out in 4 years with the slate wiped clean. This means in 4 years, this bastard will be free to kill more children just so he can drink. I hope he gets what's coming to him in prison.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How I ended up scrubbing poop off the floor at 3am


If you are eating or have a sensitive stomach, you might want to skip this post entirely.


You've been warned.


It's 3am on Tuesday morning and my wife wakes me up to help feed the babies. Our overnight plan is that she gets the babies and food ready and wakes me up to help feed them. Each parent takes a baby. I feed, burp and go back to sleep for another couple of hours until the next feeding. At least that's the plan until she goes back to work.

So there I was trying to change Dara and like a well-trained new dad, I inserted the new diaper under the old, lifted up her legs, wiped her butt and what do I see? A little bit of poop dribbles out. Now this has happened before where she waited until I started changing her. So I say "Come on, Dara, how come you always poop when I change you?" I proceeded to grab another wipe ('cos by now the first one is ...use your imagination). The next thing thing that happened is a loud sound followed by projectile pooping. It was truely awful. I had poop all over my hands, all over the changing pad, the rocking chair, the pillow on the rocking chair, the window blind and the closet door. Oddly enough, my first reaction was to burst out laughing.

And that is how I ended up scrubbing poop off the floor of the nursery at 3am on a work day. What's not to love about parenthood?




Friday, July 24, 2009

Race and Inexperience

First, let's take inexperience. I have written before about President Obama's inexperience. He showed it again when he was asked about the Harvard professor case. Why call the police dept's actions "stupid" when you yourself admitted to not having all the facts in the case. Add that to being a friend of the professor, Obama should have just punted that question. Now he's gotten himself into an avoidable PR mess when he wants people focused on his health care plans. A seasoned politician of the likes of Clinton (male and female) wouldn't have made such an elementary mistake. You don't answer questions like that in such definite terms.

Second, race. Accusing someone of racism simply doesn't end well. Especially if that person is in a position of authority, then it really really doesn't end well. I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility for a police officer, responding to a burglary, to ask and expect your cooperation. Sure sure you are pissed 'cos it's your house but the most expedient thing to do would have been to cooperate with the officer (even in the face of unreasonable requests) at the scene. And then file an harrassment case with the department. Just because you are the owner of the house doesn't mean there couldn't have been burglars in your house without your knowledge.

In any case, from my thankfully limited dealings with the police and other people in uniforms, I think it's more likely a case of abuse of power than racism.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I've learnt in 4+ weeks of fatherhood

So we survived the first 2 weeks. Here's what I learnt in 4 weeks of fatherhood:
  • Everybody has an advice on how to care for babies. Literally everybody! And everyone thinks their advice is the best. After all, they've raised x number of babies. Last week, we had 2 guests, one after the other. The first said we ought to cover the babies heads even in the house. So we did. As soon as he left, the next guest promptly said remove the hats! So what's a new dad to do? Initially, I would try to argue the small stuff (like babies don't really need hats in the house; that our pediatrician has said 72-75 degrees is fine for the babies and our thermostat reads 80). But then I realized, what's the use? Best case, the advice giver will simply not agree, after all she/he has raised x amount of babies. Worst case, the advice giver will think one is being an ITK after all this is our first babies. So if you come visit and say "put ski boots on those babies or they'll catch cold". I'll do it but you can bet those boots are coming off once you leave
  • This is all babies' fault. Why? Because babies are so resilient they survive sometimes in spite, not because of, what we do.
  • Burping is such a simple concept. You feed the baby, pat him or her gently on the back and all the air come gurgling out. In theory. In practice, it sometimes takes longer to burp than to feed. I suppose I could be doing it wrong but you can't not burp them.
  • The makers of Enfamil are sleek. They just shipped me 12 cans of 32 oz ready to feed baby formula. Each can retails for $6-10. So why would Enfamil send me $120 in baby formula? Because they know babies go through those things very quickly. And if your baby already seems to like Enfamil, why would you switch to Similac (a cheaper formula)?
  • Why can't the diaper people be just as sleek?
  • Our twins are so different they could easily just be siblings. He is such an easy going fellow. Just feed him, burp him, change him and put him on his throne (a contraption we rigged from a boppy pillow). Her? She's the queen bee. Her favorite position is in someone's arms. Luckily our boy doesn't get rattled by her crying. Like everything else, he just shrugs it off and keeps sleeping or looking at you with his Dick Cheney smirk.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How HCGH justifies their $240 cable bill

So I wrote about how HCGH charges $240 per month for basic cable and local phone services last week. Today, I returned their call and here's their justification for putting the burden of cancellation on the (sick) patient:
  • the charges for the phone and cable is spelled out in the consent form that new patients fill out upon admission to the hospital. This is the same consent form that grants the hospital the right to treat you. So if you don't consent to cable+phone charges and treatment, the doctors can't treat you. How nice!
I asked why not make it two forms: one for cable tv and one for treatment. God knows patients have to sign enough forms during the admission process. Their answer:

"Our patients have requested that the admission process be streamlined". Oh yeah, streamlined my foot. Wouldn't it make more sense to not turn on the service until a patient requests it? Instead, they waste their employees' time reversing silly charges. Or perhaps, not enough patients call in to complain and thus HCGH makes a nice little sum of money each month.

Either way, when planning to use HCGH (an otherwise excellent hospital) be sure to
  • call the hospital and have them turn off the basic cable non-flat-screen tv
  • call 1-800-775-8352 to ensure you are not billed upon discharge

Sunday, July 12, 2009

(Google) Chrome OS

Did you know Google now has an operating system? You didn't? Well I didn't either. But, like the classic definition of vaporware, Google announced their OS last week to widespread acclaim from the google fanboys. People are talking about Google OS having stuff Windows doesn't have. Nevermind that not a single code of Google OS has been publicly released (alpha, beta or RC).

So when Microsoft releases vaporware, it's bad. But when Google does it, it's the dawn of a new day. I seem to remember the same acclaim when Google Chrome came out. Several months later, it's stuck way behind IE and Firefox (except of course amongst the fan boys).

Also, if Microsoft got into hot water for bundling IE with Windows, how will Google circumvent the same legal trapdoor? I suppose it's more likely the presiding judge would be a google lover (or perhaps Google will impress upon him the need to rule their way or have his search data be public knowledge....I kid). Currently Google has it's foot in just about every thing:
  • search (www.google.com),
  • desktop search (google desktop)
  • maps (google maps),
  • calendar (google calendar)
  • instant messaging (google talk)
  • phone (google voice),
  • online payment systems (google checkout),
  • social network (orkut),
  • website traffic analysis (google analytics)
  • video (youtube),
  • online photos (picasaweb.google.com),
  • desktop photo management (picasa),
  • online office apps (google docs),
  • news (google news),
  • comparison shopping (google product search),
  • blogs (blogger),
  • encyclopedia (knol)
  • rss reader (google reader)
  • personal health records (google health)
  • 3D modeling (google sketchup)
  • groups (google groups)
  • personal websites (google sites)
  • lanaguage translation (google translate)
  • toolbar (google toolbar)
So tell me, how many of these Google products do you use and who should you be more afraid of: google or microsoft? At least Microsoft isn't overtly data mining your private email!

By the way, Google acquired some of these products the same way Microsoft acquired their best sellers: identify a small company with a good product; buy the company; rebrand and re-release the product and make it free.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why I'll never rent from Blockbuster

Blockbuster sucks! I know that's not news but one would think a company facing strong competition (and losing btw) from Hulu, Netflix and even from public libraries would try to not suck as much. But they don't even try.

So it's the saturday morning after we came home with the twins and I get a call from one of those automated systems. What was the reason for the call? Apparently, blockbuster thinks I owe them $38. What's the bill for? The automated system doesn't know and can't say. But it does provide an easy way for me to pay the bill with a credit card over the phone. What? At the very least I would expect the system to know what the bill was for.

Anyway, I waited till the local BB store opened. Called them and got the manager on the phone. She claimed they couldn't find some movies that I had returned (one of which was 7 Pounds by Will Smith. A total crapfest if I must say). Thus they have charged the movies to my account. Well I know I returned the movie. So we went back and forth and she finally acquiesced and promised to clear my account.

A week later, the same freaking robot calls me for the $38. I called the same BB store and the person that picked up gave me the same spiel (goes to search on the shelf, doesn't find it, comes back to ask me for money). I am like dude, I am not paying money for movies I do not have. I asked about the manager that promised to clear my account and he said they did inventory and maybe that's why the charges went back. That doesn't make sense but whatever!

Now why am I so sure I returned the movies? Because
  • I made sure I returned every rental before the babies came
  • this has happened before. In that case, BB claimed I rented the same movie twice in the same hour. How ridiculous is that? Why would anyone rent a movie twice?
In that case and in this case, these guys working there are morons (at best) and thieves (at worst). So I am closing my account for good and will rely on basic cable, hulu and free movies from PG County library (oh yeah that's the secret. Save money by renting for free from the library).

I don't why these things seem to always happen to me. But I can't keep paying good money for services I don't consume.

BTW, Howard County General Hospital finally got back to me. I've gotta call the lady back (but she's promised to reverse the charges).

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Of toilet seats and parking

Why do men get a bad rap for leaving the toilet seat up? It's all over pop culture that men are inconsiderate pigs that don't put the toilet seat down after peeing. Well...women are just as guilty. Sure men don't put the seat down after peeing but women also don't put the toilet lid down. Just as you hate seating on a cold toilet, men hate peeing in a toilet when the seat is down ('cos then you'll have to clean up the inevitable spill). Personally, I think the toilet lid should be put down every time! Not only does that solve the argument, it's more esthetically pleasing. And might be healthier.

Enough about toilets. How do you park? Are you one of those people that insist on backing into a parking spot (even when there are no rules requiring it)? I don't get why people do this. Unless you are robbing a bank, and thus anticipating an hasty getaway, there's no reason to back into a parking spot. You have better control going in front-first into a tight space and when it's time to leave, you have more room to back out. And if you are lucky, the car in front of you will have moved and you won't have to use your reverse gear at all! So next time, you find yourself trying to back into a tight parking spot ask yourself why?

Hotmail Team says "thank you" for being with us for 10+ years

I got this from Hotmail today. 10 years, wow. That's a long relationship.


Monday, July 06, 2009

How do you pay $240 per month for cable and phone?

How do you pay $240 per month for cable and phone? Simple, you spend 5 days at Howard County General Hospital. As you may know, my wife delivered our twins at HCGH. Overall, the people there (nurses, techs, doctors) were extremely nice and helpful. In fact, I would give them a 9 out of 10. However, the hospital itself is the provider of what has to be the most expensive basic cable + phone service ever! Why? Today I got a bill for television and phone services that was provided to us while my wife was admitted at HCGH. The bill was for $40 for a 5 day stay (which works out to be $8 per day or $240 per month). For basic cable and local only phone service!

Sure that's way way expensive but that's not the worst. The hospital doesn't provide a clear way for patients to opt out of this service. It is automatically turned on once you're admitted and nobody in the hospital (at least not all the people I asked) knows how to turn it off. In fact, one nurse we asked said tv was free!

Anyway, I got the bill, calculated the daily rate and promptly got pissed. I called the 3rd party billing company HCGH uses and after a 5-minute conversation, they removed the charges. Now, if you've ever tried to get an American company to forgive a bill, you know it usually takes more than 5 minutes. When it takes less than that, you know the company is aware of its own shaddy practices (like when Vista print sneaks monthly charges unto your business card order). I asked the customer service rep how patients are supposed to know they need to cancel this automatic service and she said I should take their (the 3rd party's) information and call themnext time I am admitted at HCGH. How preposterous!

I called the hospital and spoke to the nurse supervisor in charge, thinking she'll have a resonable answer for me. She didn't. In fact, she joined me in complaining because her husband was also charged after being admitted at HCGH.

To me, this looks like a racket being perpetuated by the hospital. They automatically turn on the services; bill you via a 3rd party and hope you pay just for convenience (after all, how many people want to deal with spurious charges during their convalescence?) And if 1 or 2 patients call and complain, they've pre-authorize their 3rd party billing dept to automatically waive the charges. After all, that'll be cheaper than not billing your patients $8 per day for substandard cable and local phone service!

First day back at work

First day back at work and my mouse travelled just over 1 mile today. What? Read this