Thursday, August 24, 2006

Internet Crime, Internet Slime

In the final chapter to the Mary-Dell-laptop saga, I have officially become the victim of Internet fraud. But rather than launch into my sob story and how incredibly stupid I feel for having to call NYPD twice in the last two months, let me just offer these words of caution...

-ALWAYS use Paypal or a secure server, even though it turns out they aren't going to do jack crap, even if you're a college kid who is out one thousand clams.

-NEVER ship overseas. Sorry if this seems racist, but it's because...

-The USPS international insurance only covers packages while they are in the U.S., so in my case, my package was covered for a couple of hours before it hit JFK. Lame.

-Triple check user IDs on ebay. They might be up to other debauchery that day and it pays to wait and see how other sellers rate them.

-NEVER give out personal information! I'm so glad these creeps don't know my current address, zodiac sign or full name.

-Keep a "paper" trail of all e-mails, postal receipts, etc.

In the last few months, I've become less trusting (gullible) and have learned that although most people are very sweet, there's no shortage of evil out there. Ebay and the computer crimes department are working hard, but the whole thing could have been averted if I, and the other users who got screwed, took extra caution. It makes me sick to think about the whole thing. Why are there people out there who steal? Why did they do it when they knew what kind of person they were stealing from? Sellers, beware.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Snakes on a Stephen

It's Monday, which means that it's time to longlingly reminesce about the weekend and tackle two not-so-underground-anymore topics...

-On Thursday, some comrades and I attending a tapng of The Colbert Report. Unless you've been under a rock for the last year, Stephen Colbert and John Stewart are kicking mainstream media arse and doing a better job of educating the coveted "young voter" demographic on current issues than bigger news oulets (cough, Fox News, cough). Neil Young was the guest and the two rocked out some blatantly unoriginal anti-war songs. Stephen even did a salute and eyebrow raise right at me during a commercial break! My heart melted. Although I'm still sad that the people who are supposed to keep check on the government and society now need Comedy Central to keep them in line. I suppose that's democracy - the constant reapplication of Madisonian factions and the checks and balance system.

-On Friday night, after MONTHS of waiting, I saw Snakes on a Plane. I know it's cliche to blog about, well, the most blogged about movie ever, but it was a pretty enjoyable experience. I don't know if I'd watch it on video or years from now, but it's a great flick to catch in theaters with a big posse of amigos. Our theater in Chelsea was packed with loud, hissing, excited and vocal fans. It was almost like a screening of Rocky Horror or something. I guess I was disappointed that the filmmakers knew that they were making a joke movie. I tend to think things are funnier when they're genuine, like the Backstreet Boys, Crossroads or my boy David Hasselhoff (REALTIONSHIP ALERT: He's single now...and not even a restraining order can hold him back!) When people take themselves seriously and execute things with conviction, it just separates them from reality more and makes for more absurdity. "Snakes" was fully conscious of the fact that loads of hipster nerds would flock to see it. Cult movies aren't born, they're made.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And God said let there be BIKE!

On my way to work walking down John Street Tuesday morning, my dreary eyes caught sight of a bike sitting lonely and scared by a dumpster, just waiting for a behemoth garbage truck to take him off to the bicycle slaughterhouse. I've seen "The Brave Little Toaster"...I know how these things work! (Thanks to my parents for not fostering the lie of "appliance heaven.")

I quickly grasped the bike into my loving arms. Oh, how I've yearned to be a wheeled biped lately! Twas a gift from the urban trash gods! In Eugene last week, I reconnected with my cyclical self and realized how much Al Gore hates gassy transport (at $3 dollah plus a gallon, so do I) - New York subway in summer is just slang for post-apocalyptic oven. If you ask me, the downtown A train doesn't smell of smells of Orwell. But I digress.

So for 70 dollars (a new tire, seat and lock), or the price of a metrocard, I've pulled a Charlie Brown Christmas story (CLICK THAT LINK!) and morphed the homely little metal skeleton into the mountain bike that could (dodge tourists on Broadway, help me carry groceries, get yelled at by old people, help me enjoy New York at the cusp of fall, get my legs in mad good shape.) The guy at the bike shop said that the bike would sell for about 350 clams...sweet.

Stories like Mussolini's (the name of my bike because of its red color, it really is the "axis of blood and steel" like my man Benito), are the reason that I came to New York. Only in this city could you walk to work on a Tuesday morning, have your life changed by a dumpster and be so charmed to death that you think for a moment that it's August. Sigh.

In other news, I guess I unloaded my Dell just in time. Who called it??? My name isn't the only thing about me that's Biblical, I'm a prophet foos!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sand in my shoes on fifth avenue: Boy George, Castro and some dude named Eugene?

I'm back in New York, and miles away from the river I grew up biking along, the Willamette Valley swimming/hiking Eden known as Mount Pisgah and the yummy cookies me and my nephew baked. It's nice to be back, but the sand in my shoes made miss the tranquility of the Pacific more than anything. Sigh.

A few other things:

I know a lot about robotic knees. And now thanks to USA Today, you can, too.

My national security threat level went jumped from canary to scarlet when I decided to travel with shampoo. I'm clearly up to something other than a fresh scalp.

Things are looking a little dirty for my buddy, Boy George. One cannot suppress neon! (Orange is totally the new hot pink!)

CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE MOMENT: I think that Fidel Castro is a hologram. There's just no other explanation! Here's a bunch of other theories...any better reasoning out there?

My personal theories about his endless life and ability to seize power (his brother may technically have the reins, but us younger siblings out there know who REALLY gets to lick the cake batter-soaked spoon)
- Castro is living in a trailer park somewhere with Elvis.
- Castro was killed by the FBI in the 60s for sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, thus creating an iron-curtain love triangle with JFK.
- Castro never existed at all, rather he is all in our heads. (Have any of us really ever met the man?)
- Castro is a giant muppet, Jim Henson's last great creation. Admit it, with all that fur, he really does kind of look like one. He derives his power from flailing his arms around, wrists attached to long sticks.

That's my Monday and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eugenica: the Frog Blog

I'm visiting my hometown, Eugene, Oregon, this week, and am completely overwhelmed by all that is Oregon: friends, family, the trees, the cooler temperatures, the granola, oh, sweet Jesus, the granola! But for the sake of shortness, I'll offer up my man Frog as an example of what Eugene is really all about.

I've seen from around the U of O campus and around Eugene my entire life. He stands there, clad in rainbow suspenders, a goofy T-shirt and a bizarro cap, with a stack of crinkly joke books and a rubber chicken yelling "Would you like to buy the world's greatest joke book?" For 20 years, I, and most people I know, have just walked by him, quietly admiring his tenacity.

But today, while biking around town, I saw Frog. I chatted with him and shelled out $3 for a joke book. No day but today. Maybe it was my horoscope or something, but after years I decided that I just HAD to buy one of Frog's joke books. He explained my options, let me squeeze his rubber chicken and cow, and well, it was a life-changing experience.

Later I tell a friend that I finally caved and bought some Frog humor. He tells me that there are rumors that Frog is secretly rich and doesn't even write the jokes himself. True or not, I begin to wonder; what does it take to be a local legend? I come from the town of Pinkman (man in pink leotard on unicycle), Zeus (who passed away, but in his time wore a pink tutu and ate Barbie heads) and the singing walkman dude (he later got arrested for roaming into a random lady's hot tub...singing in the buff). I kind of envy these local marvels and am glad that wherever I go, whatever I do, someone in Eugene is mystifying and mesmorizing other generations of Oregonians. Tis the stuff that memoirs, and the ever-quirky Pacific Northwest are made of.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the joke book is AMAZING!!!

Regarding computers and such

Although I recently converted to a macbook, I felt like I owed my pal at Dell, John, a shout out. He responded to my previous angry post with the utmost care and concern:

"Why was I reading your blog? Our team was put together to find out what our customers' concerns were in the blogosphere, and to respond to those concerns directly, one customer at a time.

As for the David Hasselhoff video, I had actually been sent the same video by a close friend of mine several months ago. Although I found it funny, it also saddened me in a way."

OK, so John, since I know you're out there, although things didn't work out with me and Dell, I give you mad props for surfing the blogs of lowly geeks like me and being up on your Hasslhoff! Seriously! If Dell had more hip employees like John, I think the world would be a better place. I'd like to apologize for my smarmy urban cynicism, but have to say that my new nano, printer and the bubbly icons of my mac are pretty awesome.

Ah, the power of the techonological revolution!