Happy Hanukkah!

I’m going out to dinner for Italian food. It’s made with a lot of olive oil, so I’m not a bad Jew.

After all these years, I Have Been Absorbed

After spending my entire life NOT owning one and being rather smug about it for the past several years, I finally had to give in and get a smart phone.

I kept an old-school flip phone in my car strictly for emergencies (and used it a few times, actually), but that was it. If you wanted to reach me, you called my house or used email.

And that will still be the case – I’m only getting the thing since a phone app is the only way, evidently, to manage a Tesla house battery, something that will be added to Rancho Del Wagstaff in the near future.

Tesla doesn’t let you log into a website and see the control panel of the thing, it’s only on a phone. I’ll have to monitor it’s recharging and certainly need the ability to tweak its usage if it’s powering my house during a power outage, especially the ones those BASTARDS induce on purpose during wind events so that they can try to avoid lawsuits for starting fires with equipment they’ve neglected for years (while raking in tons of profits) in forested areas this STUPID FUCKING STATE refuses to brush-clear and tree trim properly because they might make some stupid flea-bitten rabid farting forest dwelling mouse upset.

That’s what I’m really up against here. I thought about heading up this post with a “One of us, one of us” theme with a picture of the banquet from “Freaks,” but since I’m doing all of this because I’m at the mercy of the stupid pod people who run this stupid state and its institutions, I went with being in Veronica Cartwright’s place at the end of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Although in California, I think it’s been Invasion of the Common Sense Snatchers.

So now I’ll have a smart phone. The thing has a camera better than my li’l $10-at-a-yardsale digital camera. Maybe I’ll start up an instagram author page to go with this blog. Who knows, we’ll see. The one sure thing is that i’ll keep bitching about everything. The only area I can think of where I’ll use the phone outside of battery monitoring will be to quickly look up the value of books or other crap I spot at yardsales and thrift stores. No more rolling the dice as to whether something will be flipable on ebay, I guess.

In any case, I’ll feel like I’ve caught up to living in 2008.

My preferred set up

Small Rodent CSI Needed

The big mouse/baby rat who perished last night in my previous post presents a mystery. Turns out he was NOT poisoned, or killed in the library by Colonel Mustard with the revolver.

This morning I dug him a small grave among the rosemary in my backyard, and (I love saying this) upon examining the body, it turns out he had a small but most likely deep puncture wound on the left side of his little throat under the chin. He most likely bled out from it, or it possibly also punctured his windpipe. It must have taken him hours to die. Ugh.

I did NOT do an autopsy.

I looked all around the area of the house where he first turned up, an area walled and gated off – no sign of any stray nail or the like where the poor little guy may have impaled himself. No blood on any of the screens blocking attic vents. There are probably some sharp edges inside my dryer vent, but that has a little door on it and I saw no signs of trouble there.

What kind of animal attack would produce one fatal wound and leave him to die without eating him?

Do rats fight and kill each other for dominance? And if so, why no scratches or a double wound from a pair of fangs?

Could some fight with a bird have done it? One good peck in that spot could be a killer, though the mouse would have to be on his back for it.

Did he owe a crow money?

It’s a real mystery. Theories welcome.

The “Experts” Are Wrong, Part Infinity: Cleaning Solar Panels Improves Performance

I’ll pass this along as a public service, since EVERY website I visited asking this question got it wrong. Nearly every website I visited on whether or not it’s worthwhile to have solar panels professionally cleaned said it wasn’t necessary.

WRONG.

The solar panels on my roof would get dirty over time – dust, pollen and the like. Usually I’d just wait for a rainstorm to clean ’em off and return them to their shiny dark blue reflective look, instead of a dusty car finish look. Sometimes I’d hose them off early in the morning after morning dew had loosened the dust and they weren’t heated up yet. After I’d clean them, I’d notice an uptick in performance when reading the numbers on the inverter.

Recently, I noticed my system had dipped in performance, and the panels were pretty dirty – and hosing them myself didn’t really make much difference. Never mind that my hose added hard water marks.

So I hired a local dude to climb up on my roof and clean them with ionized water and a soft mop. Not very expensive, and it only took him an hour or so. He also tightened the clamps and zip ties on the panels, as well as the added bonus of replacing a cracked roof tile for me I had NO idea about, all gratis!

That’d be enough for me to recommend the guy to locals, but the big news is that cleaning the panels did the trick – they’re back to producing the amount of energy they’re supposed to.

The weather has been identical, and the cleaning made a 15+% difference in the efficiency of the system.

So THE WEBSITES TELLING YOU OTHERWISE ARE CRAP. Your mileage may vary, but cleaning the panels will definitely restore the normal efficiency of your system if you see it significantly dipping due to the dirt.

For real numbers – the total kwh/day varies with time of year, but peak production @noontime- 1pm or so is a good metric. My system, on a clear day, will peak anywhere from 3 to 3.2 kwh. It had dipped to 2.6 – 2.7 with the dirt. Now it’s back to 3 to 3.2 with the cleaning.

Not bad!

Battery backup is also on the way. I do not enjoy sweating whether or not those scumbuckets at the electric utility will turn off my power during wind events to cover their ass for fire starting lawsuits.

I’ll practically be off the grid! Here’s a recent picture, too!

My New Favorite Mafia Boss

I’ll read anything that’s all about Rhode Island mafia. Hell, I’ll write one of my novels about Rhode Island mafia.

I just finished getting through My Life In The Mafia, a 1973 confession by Vincent Teresa, who’d been a major player in the Patriarca organization before turning government witness. Spotting it in some thrift store one day reminded me how my parents had a copy of it for years and I’d neglected to pack it up with whatever I wanted to save from the widdle house I grew up in when I moved out west and everything got packed up, sold or trashed.

Teresa, through writer Thomas Renner, recounts his life in the mob and the various scams and crimes he’d committed over the years. Mostly stolen goods, bookmaking, loansharking and some stock and bond scams. A lot of the crimes he committed are truly dated – the various forms of check cashing and bank fraud would be nearly impossible now.

But in a story about his time in prison before turning informant, he relates a tale involving Carmine “Lillo” Galante. Lillo, a Bonnano family capo, basically ran the mafia section of the Lewisberg federal prison they dropped Teresa in for his securities fraud activities. And much like we saw in Goodfellas, mob guys have different prison lives than the rest of the population, to a degree. Lillo’s prison job was to run the greenhouse, where he grew his own vegetables and set up a nice grill for cooking the steaks and such regularly smuggled in for him.

And don’t put too many onions in the sauce, etc.

Teresa tells a story where Lillo kept 3 cats as pets inside the greenhouse and in his general realm. Evidently some strays had gotten into the prison yards somehow, and Lillo decided to adopt them.

From page 302:

“Lillo had three cats, and they ate better than most of the prisoners. Every morning they had pure cream for their breakfast with an egg beaten in it. The cats were sort of a symbol of freedom to Lillo. He used to say ‘At least they can get outside – they go outside the wall.’

The hacks almost never came to the hothouse, and when they did, it was just to be sociable. None dared tread on Lillo. I remember one problem came up with a hack because of Lillo’s cats. It was a Friday, and we were having fish in the prison dining room. Lillo sidled up to me and said “You’re not eating your fish, are you Fats?”

I shook my head. “I wouldn’t eat that crap.”

“Well, I want to take it for the cats,” he said. He walked up the row to the hacks and announced “I’m taking Vinnie’s fish.” Then he put it in a plastic bag with his own fish. The hack didn’t seem to mind, so Lillo sort of added insult to injury. “Those cats are pretty hungry. I’ll take two pieces.”

The hack was standing behind the row where the prisoners went through the food lines to eat at the tables. “Hey!” he shouted at Lillo. “You can’t take two, only one to a man.”

Lillo turned around. He gave him a look that froze him in his tracks. “Hey, I said I’m taking two or three pieces for my cat.” His voice was low and soft, but he had ice at the end of his tongue.

The hack stared back at him. “I said you can’t take them,” he snapped.

Lillo’s eyes narrowed, and that sneer of his looked worse than ever. His voice was soft, but it was menacing, It made my blood run cold the way the words came out. “You got kids at home?” he asked.

The hack looked startled. “What?”

“I said, you got any kids at home?” Lillo said again. “You want to see them?” He sort of paused for effect, letting the words sink in. The hack seemed to nod. “Good… then shut your mouth.” Then Lillo took five pieces of fish slowly, one by one while the hack looked, and he put them in the plastic bag. What he said he meant. He wouldn’t have hurt the kids, but the hack would have an accident one day in prison. He wouldn’t have lived to see his kids, just because of a couple of lousy cats. But that was Lillo. No one defied him.

Continue reading “My New Favorite Mafia Boss”

Tech Support For Scrabble On Facebook = Being Told To Stick A Fork In An Electric Outlet To Make The Lights Come On

I realize that the people on the other end of the tech support line follow script books designed for morons having easily fixable problems. “Try restarting your modem! Did you try clearing cookies and cache?” and so on…

So whenever anyone like me who actually KNOWS how computers friggin work calls in to report a clear problem on THEIR end, I get to sit through some pinhead giving me ridiculous and useless suggestions.

I like playing Scrabble on Facebook. It’s probably the only thing left on Facebook that I actually do, since Facebook, like the vast majority of social media, is a garbage fire. For the past couple of weeks, Scrabble has not worked on Facebook if I used Firefox as my browser. It worked fine while using Chrome. I prefer using Firefox as my browser since I am convinced that since Chrome is from Google, the damn thing is probably spying on every damn thing I do online and manages to spy on me outside the computer and in my sleep and also manages to READ MY THOUGHTS VIA THE GOOGLE BLACK HELICOPTERS FOLLOWING ME and…

Whatever. I just prefer Firefox. So since Firefox hasn’t updated since this issue arose, and since Scrabble on Facebook has a long history of bugs like this, I figured it was on their end.

I tried leaving a message on the EA forums, but there is no way to do that without creating an EA account. There’s also no way of sending an email or web based message reporting the bug without an EA account. But I could leave a message for them to call me.

So, I’m sitting around this afternoon with the holiday weekend starting, I figure “Why not?”

Oy.

Schmuck calls me after maybe twenty minutes, I tell him the problem just to report it. Schmuck starts to ask me if I’ve cleared cache and cookies, I basically tell him this is happening on any computer I try using Firefox, it’s happening with the other people I’m playing Scrabble games with on their computers… it’s not MY issue.

He puts me on hold for ten minutes of simply LOVELY muzak, then returns to tell me I should delete Firefox and reinstall it.

Yeah, sure. I think I’ll just trash all my passwords and bookmarks and everything because YOU MORONS TWEAKED YOUR AD-LOADING CODE or whatever the hell you did that makes the game reload its starting screen in an endless loop on Firefox while loading just fine on Chrome. But yeah, sure, I should trash all the actual real stuff on Firefox I do regularly, like email, banking, blogging, writing, multiple billable accounts, you name it – all to take a 1,000-1 chance on it loading a free Scrabble game on Facebook when WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME TO DO WON’T FIX THE PROBLEM ANYWAY.

Stupid brainless robot tech support pencil neck schmucks.

I’M TELLING YOU YOUR CODE SUCKS AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED, JUST THANK ME AND GO DO IT. Jeez.

After some arguing back and forth and him asking me if all my software is up to date (as if that were the problem, as if I wouldn’t have already thought of that if it were…. ARRRGGGGHHH I HATE THESE PEOPLE) he finally settled on “reporting the problem to our tech team” which sounded to me about as promising as leaving a newborn in a wood chipper.

Yeah, I know. I can play the stupid game using Chrome. I play continuous multiple Scrabble games with my mom on this thing. She can’t get anyone to play against her among her yenta friends because she’d destroy them all in every game. When she manages to beat me every so often, it’s a thrill for her. I’d set up my mom’s computer with Firefox and made everything she does on it one-click easy. So now my mom will need me to schlep over there and set up her computer for Chrome and not Firefox. There’s no way I’m walking her through those steps over the phone, it’d be worse for her than it was for me talking to the crap-for-brains robot moron in whatever Bangalore boiler room EA is underpaying him in. And it’s an excuse to go out to lunch, I suppose.

And now the Google black helicopters will start following my mom around. It’s the price you pay for a working Scrabble game.

Schmucks.

Now I need a drink.

My Natural Musky Manliness

So I’m at the grocery store just now, at the checkout counter. The kid loads everything into the bag, I’m getting my receipt and am ready to go.

Then the kid says “Hey, I like your cologne.”

I’m not wearing cologne. I don’t think I’ve ever worn cologne in my life, actually. Wasn’t sure I heard him right.

“Huh?” I say.

“I like your cologne,” the kid repeats.

“I’m not wearing cologne,” I say.

“Oh?” He says, surprised.

“I guess I just smell good,” I say.

I thought of this:

Although, maybe it wasn’t my hair. Maybe it was the groceries I bought. In which case, it’s time for Cris Shapan:

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