Aug 99

regular maintenance

Site Note: Speaking of regular maintenance, the site has just undergone some of its own. Along with significant code changes over the last week, today I dropped more RAM in the server, which now has triple the memory it did yesterday. What does that mean for MH? More speed, for one, since every operation doesn’t have to be paged to disk anymore…

knowing that my car, the plucky little saturn, was due for an oil change.. overdue.. past overdue.. i decided to take lunch one day last week and head to the jiffy lube for some routine maintenance, and taco bell for a quick lunch on the way back to the office.

taco bell’s bean burrito, by the way, should be classified as a drug delivery method by the FDA, and not simply a food item. whatever the bean-based goo is in there, it should be a controlled substance, prescribed by doctors as a laxative. those things are too potent to be available over-the-counter.

as i pulled into the jiffy-lube (the oil change establishment, not the taco bell) there were two cars ahead of me in line, both being worked on in the same bay. great, i thought, busy day, lunchtime, and they only have one bay running. so a technician i will refer to as gomer, who looked like nothing less than the long lost pyle brother, inquired as to the nature of my visit.

“i need an oil change”

“that it”

“yup. you only have one bay working?”

“nope. both running now.”

and so, he informed me, their crack squad of oil-soaked technicians would have me out of there in twenty minutes. leave it running. wait in the office.

and, as more lunch-breakers arrived, dropped off their cars, wandered into the office, i was smug in the knowledge that i was first in line. reading through the paltry excuse for a local paper, the even less informative and objective USA Today, and about half a dozen sports and gearhead magazines, i wondered when i would be notified my car was ready to go.

another technician came into the office, mumbling something about number seven. you number seven? seven? eventually he looked me in the eye, and asked me if i was mumble seven, at which point it dawned on me, he was asking for the driver of the saturn. me. good. i’m ready to go? not quite.

first, it was a requisite that befre they do any maintenance on my car, that i approve and see the condition of the pieces and parts mentioned. there were various pieces of metal and plastic. there was a printout. there were numbers. it was all very technical, though soaked with oil and antifreeze and thus illegible. mushmouth proceeded to tell me what exactly he recommended i pay him to do to my car.

i couldn’t understand a word of it, so i stopped him and, quite bluntly asked him to speak slowly, in english, and to enunciate so that i could understand him. honestly it sounded like he was talking around a wad of tobacco or a half-chewed sandwich. he slowed down enough for me to catch the words “flush” “radiator” “transmission” and a couple of prices, all ending in nine. i sensed he had asked me a question, but not sure exactly what.

“so you haven’t done anything to my car yet?”

“nope shir.”

“what have i been sitting in the office for twenty minutes waiting on?”


is it too much to ask for that people working in the services industry that need to communicate on a regular basis with customers, need to impart information, be able to do so in a manner that is understandable by the average english speaker? mushmouth’s long winded speech about the ills of my transmission was, though incomprehesible, seemed to be accurate. i don’t doubt the man’s technical savvy, nor his intelligence, only that, if he were in need of information from me, or in need of aid, that he could not have readily gotten it from me for the simple reason that i couldn’t understand two words of what he was saying.

“just do the oil change and air filter, like i asked for, and i’ll get the other stuff done somewhere else.” and i meant it. my brother’s a motorhead. i’m having him look at my car, and the oil-soaked list of recommended services, to determine just how much i should have done. i may be able to take apart and reassemble my computer blindfolded hanging upside down by my toes, but i’ll be damned if i know anything about my car’s transmission fluid or how to flush the radiator.

so, back to the office, to stand – my seat having been taken by the umpteenth lunchbreaker in line that day – for another twenty minutes, before another technician called me up to the desk to take my money and push me out the door. meanwhile, mushmouth and gomer have managed to start my car and jerkily navigate to the front parking lot, stalling it on their first attempt. they must not get a lot of manual transmissions.

for the duration of the five minute credit card transaction (since when did it cost $45 to get an oil change? maybe last time i had a coupon..) my car was left running, the door open, in the front parking lot on a busy street, teeming with foot traffic. if there are any car thieves reading this, hang out on the corner of western boulevard where the jiffy lube is. it’ll take you all of three seconds to get a car there. nice ones, too. why someone would bring the $40,000 lexus that was parked a few spots behind me in line to the jiffy-lube is beyond me.

i did finally manage to get to the taco bell, though, and for $4.44 i received two bean burritos and two hotsauce-delivery subsystems (soft tacos) and a medium drink at the drive-thru. all in less time than it took me to give, for the second time, all my name and address information to the jiffy boob behind the cash register. now that’s what i call service.

Aug 99

$0.47 worth of karma

as i was leaving the irish pub i regularly attend for its weekly trivia night, i was accosted by what i can only assume was a homeless man.

the pub is in a relatively ‘good’ part of town, and is surrounded on two sides by establishments that one would normally dress up to attend, and also be sure he had enough in his checking account to cover it beforehand. the pub itself is the most authentic americanized irish pub i’ve ever been in – considering they went so far as to dismantle several real pubs in ireland and transport their pieces here for my dining and drinking pleasure (according to their menu, anyway). supposedly the irish pub is a rising trend in my area. what this means for actual, authentic pubs on the emerald isle, i have no idea, but i’ll venture that the number of drunken frat boys who frequent such establishments on this side of the atlantic will keep any number of such transplants in business for the forseeable future.

i, for one, won’t. i don’t drink anymore (something i’m trying out temporarily, knowing how much i enjoy a glass of red wine. i’ll let you know how it goes) and when i go there, i order coke, which, if you bother a bartender, and not your waiter for it, they’ll typically give you free – refills, too. that and about a $3 appetizer, which is usually shared with my table, tide me over for the whole of trivia night. i know, i’m a cheap bastard.

so, as i was leaving, walking down the well-lit street where the patrons of the aforementioned expensive establishments park, on my way to the not-so-well-lit street where I was parked, i noticed someone walking behind me. as i got into my vehicle, he came out into the light and revealed himself to be a 5’3” black man in his mid twenties with short dreadlocks, an effeminate manner, and a very soft speaking voice.

his hands were shaking uncontrollably as he tapped on my car window – a definite invasion of my personal space, but i let it slide. i am also trying to be more kind and generous to my fellow man these days. again, i’ll let you know how it turns out. i rolled down the window and turned off the radio to hear what he was saying.

homeless, vagrants, beggars, or whatever you prefer, they all have a gimmick. i have yet to meet an honest man who asked me to my face that he needed my money to buy himself another bottle of beer. i met a man once who asked me repeatedly to give him $1.79 so he could get his pregnant wife (waiting around the corner where i couldn’t see her) a quarter pounder with cheese at the nearby mcdonalds. “honest, mister, if you give me two dollars, i’ll bring you back the change.” or “a quarter to make a phone call.” i was even hit up by a little boy, no more than 12, at a loal arcade (i was playing the new gauntlet game). “give me a quarter and i’ll pay you back.”

apparently my needy one was in such a state because, despite moving here from a town 200 miles away last week, and having worked at daryl’s (a local restaurant) he was out of doors and had had his wallet was stolen which contained all his money and identification, and could i help him out so he could get something to eat.

i could have asked why he didn’t go to his place of so-called employment, only a few blocks away, to hit up the wait staff for a bite. and why he couldn’t have asked to work that night to get some extra tips. or why he had picked me, the cheap bastard, instead of some of the more well-to-do patrons across the street?

regardless of this, i sighed inwardly and decided to help out my fellow man enough to get him to go away. it’s a fact of life, or at least mine, that beggars, once they close for the kill, won’t go away until satisfied that they have inconvenienced me to the point where i will give them the change in my pocket or threatened with bodliy harm. so i rolled down the window a little further and handed him the change that was sitting in the arm rest – not a lot. a few pennies, nickels and dimes – no quarters, those all being used on parking meters this last week. less than a handful, probably less than 50 cents.

i asked if he smoked (which i don’t), and if he could use a lighter someone who did had left in my car. i gave him that, too.

then he reached into the window and asked to shake my hand.

while i was not physically threatened by the diminutive man, i shunned his gesture of gratitude, pulling my hand away from his until he withdrew. i’m not sure why, and i’m not very proud of it. paranoia, i suppose, led me to think he migh try to grab my hand and force me to open the door or some other such futile act – considering i could have pulled his arm from its socket if i had the inclination. why hadn’t he tried that when i had my fist out the window with the change? or maybe i thought he was dirty, would pass on to me some horrible homeless disease.

regardless, i gave him my change and helped him out somehow, at least he got something for his trouble. he’s a little farther along toward another bottle of beer, pack of cigarettes, or maybe a meal. i, on the other hand, traded what little karma i received from the exchange for a troubling knowledge of just how paranoid and distant i am from my fellow man. quite an education for a small handful of change.

Aug 99

more porn in schools

there has been a lot of debate lately about the rising number of guns in schools. strangely, the facts of the matter are that there are fewer incidents of violence and fewer guns in schools now than there were just a few years ago – not counting, of course, the number of weapons used by security and police on campus. the lower number of guns may be attributed to the heightened security at problematic schools, which, in turn, can be attributed to the heightened publicity of the few incidents of violence in these schools, which is also increasing the public perception of violence and guns in schools. violent circle, but helpful in some ways. a little press coverage can really change a school board’s minds about public safety and the budget.

but how do we get rid of guns in schools entirely – and i don’t mean by removing those troublesome police and security officers.

first, examine who brings guns to school. boys.

when school-aged girls go gunning for one another, it is after they have exhausted their options of hair-pulling, boyfriend-stealing, backstabbing (in the gossiping, she’s-a-tramp manner, not with actual knives) and general nastiness that are typical of pubescent female conflicts. no, it’s not the girls we have to worry about, unless you take away their backstreet boys and britney spears albums.

it’s the boys. raging with testosterone, their inexperienced brain cells unable to process the information and impulses, not to mention the newfound desires, running through them like so many pennies in a fuse box. it’s hard to concentrate on school when, for the first time in their lives, they are thinking of sex on an average of six times a minute. as an adult, i’m used to it, bombarded with everything from ally mcbeal to victoria’s secret (not to mention the hordes of jailbait britney spears clones), but i remember when puberty was ramping up. these were new things, and hey, is that a dirty magazine in the bottom of dad’s closet? dripping of angst and clearasil, idle hands do the devil’s work.

which brings me to the theoretical part of my rant. bear with me, it won’t hurt. much.

okay, so where do young boys of this generation turn for entertainment, enlightenment, naked girls? duh. the internet. yes, that bastion of free thought and pay-per-view porn is the dirty magazine and cigarettes snuck behind the garage of today’s youth. it’s also where boys go to get their bomb-making plans and learn how to acquire guns – that is, of course, unless that‘s what’s lying in the bottom of daddy’s closet. smacks of another rant.

and so, i propose that, to get the guns out of the hands of today’s youth, we encourage them to put something else in them. while tardiness may increase, as more of america’s young men are caught late in the bathroom with the stall doors closed, it will certainly cut down on violence. who has time to plan and carry out a maniacal plot to kill and maim when their only thoughts are of getting back into the big box of porn? and what of teen pregnancy? also on the decline (depending on where you look) it certainly will be on the decline if more boys spent themselves into the kleenex, rather than their classmates. and there’s nothing like freely available amateur gynecology to encourage the masturbatory reflex in young men.

so, where are some of these pubescent timebombs to get online and get whacking? in the school library, of course. certainly those with computers and internet access at home are doing their, er, homework, but what of the lower-income households? how are they to reap the benefits of today’s marshal-mcluhan-meets-marilyn-manson global village? school-funded, free access in the library. and if the library has gone to the effort of installing some kind of blocking software, how are they to get to the swimsuit models and white trash hoisting their heels for the pleasure of all? banned, barred, prevented, blocked, and generally discouraged in school, good, old fashioned internet porn may be the answer.

yes, the cry goes out, more porn in schools!

Aug 99


okay… the nastiness is (mostly) behind us now. through some dns wrangling, people who insist on typing in ‘www’ before everything can see the sites, and should be able to get to ftp; linkexchange is up and running – though i sometimes feel like i’ve sold my soul for the occasional clickthrough (the first of which i have yet to see). that it’s owned by microsoft doesn’t help me sleep any easier.

anyhoo, on with the show, eh? real rants are coming, intermingled with the occasional tirade, real soon now.

and so is a site redesign, of this site and niftee-tron, and all the option8 family.. also (say it with me) ‘Real Soon Now’

Aug 99

back in the saddle

outages are fun, aren’t they? well, this one was expected, however, it was not expected to last 2 months. server shuffling was expected to only take a few weeks, max.. bygones. anyhow, the server’s up, running, serving, doing, and being. better than i could say last month, when i didn’t know whether it would even be in town for me to plug it in.

and, so, finally, after much wrangling with internic and my isp, and some late-night dns troubles, mentalhygiene is back on the air, so to speak. all the option8 sites are up and running, just in time for the latest macaddict cdrom to come out – with the entire niftee-tron collection on it.

while i’m still working out some glitches and working up a site redesign, i also have a number of rants in the wings for those precious few people who ever actually read them. and, hell, if they’re for my enjoyment only, then fine. i’ve also got some additional guest ranters coming in – joy of joys.

there may be a change of format coming up soon, with the addition of ad banners

much to do, and as bokonon would say, busy busy busy.