BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in July, 2021.

No longer trying

Saturday, July 31st, 2021 Alive 18,358 days

A screenshot of a failed discussion with an Apple Card chatbot

When the Apple Card launched, it had the most amazing customer service.

Two years later, itʼs a smoldering pile of garbage.

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Friday, July 30th, 2021 Alive 18,357 days

An error message from Capital One

If I canʼt trust Capital One to run a web site, how can I trust it with my money?

Capital One failing at web development
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Traveling solo

Friday, July 30th, 2021 Alive 18,357 days

Queequeg loaded onto a transport trailer

Darcieʼs car has to ride in the back of the bus.

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Dangerous wet dogs

Friday, July 30th, 2021 Alive 18,357 days

The monsoon has been generous this year.

I never thought I would miss the smell of creosote, but I will. When the rain falls on tumbleweeds, it makes a weird wet dog smell. The outflow boundary from the thunderstorm carries the smell far and wide, and is a much more reliable indicator of rain coming than radar is.

Protip: If you're ever in a slot canyon or a dry gulch, and suddenly you smell a wet dog, run. I've lost count of the number of stories I've seen in the newspapers this year about hikers and homeless people killed in flash floods. Dozens, at least. Always under blue, unsuspecting skies. The news helicopters sometimes follow a flash flood coming off one of the mountains as it weaves through the gullies and washes. Once, KTNV showed a car speeding down the road trying to outrun the water. It didn't.

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Donʼt believe the hype

Monday, July 26th, 2021 Alive 18,353 days

Since every single story on NBC Nightly News is labeled “Breaking News,” I wonder what the producers will use when thereʼs actual breaking news to report.

“Breaking News! We Really Mean It This Time!” Or maybe “ZOMG!!!WTF!!BBQ!!!11!1!” might work.

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Package deal

Saturday, July 24th, 2021 Alive 18,351 days

A list of fees at a UPS Store in Las Vegas, including $75.00 for the notary to perform a marriage ceremony

If you can get married at the UPS Store, you might be in Nevada.

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Ice cream headache

Friday, July 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,350 days

Iʼm old enough to remember when ice cream came in paper boxes. Thatʼs how all ice cream was sold in supermarkets for the first twenty years of my life. Paper boxes. And in a few places, big plastic buckets. Then in the 80ʼs, the Ben and Jerryʼs round pints showed up.

I was in the supermarket Friday, and noticed that you simply canʼt buy ice cream in paper boxes anymore. I suspect the current fashion of rounded containers is about reducing the volume of ice cream delivered per package in order to goose profits, but I donʼt have the energy to be outraged by anything anymore.

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Errors all the way down

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 Alive 18,347 days

An error message about Microsoft Error Reporting

Microsoft Office is so poorly programmed that even Microsoftʼs error reporting daemon crashes.

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Wicker does that to her

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 Alive 18,347 days

Annie sleeps in a sunbeam in our library.
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Bess friends

Sunday, July 18th, 2021 Alive 18,345 days

Annie creeping around on a bookshelf

She canʼt read, but Annie sure digs those Nancy Drew books.

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Spicy and our of this world

Sunday, July 18th, 2021 Alive 18,345 days

Biscochito coffee from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque

Todayʼs coffee is Biscochito, from that place in Albuquerque again.

A biscochito is the official state cookie of New Mexico, and you can really smell and taste the cookie flavor, though itʼs not overwhelming. A biscochito is similar to a butter cookie, but the recipe has evolved over the last 400 years to be every-so-slightly spicy, with the flavors of anise, cinnamon, and space launches. But thatʼs OK, because I like my coffee the way I like my women: spicy and our of this world.

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This never happens at The Dime

Saturday, July 17th, 2021 Alive 18,344 days

An error message from Citibank

Citibank is broken today. But thatʼs OK. Itʼs not like 50 million people rely on Citibank for anything important.

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Cheaper than Google Cloud, more relianle than Microsoft Azure

Thursday, July 15th, 2021 Alive 18,342 days

Every ten years it seems like the tech world bring in a new batch of people who never bothered to study how things worked in previous decades, and thus end up not only reinventing the wheel, but hyping it up like itʼs the first time anyone ever thought of whatever it is theyʼre all excited about.

Timesharing → Thin clients → Web apps

Hypercard → Web sites

Brittanica → Encarta → Wikipedia

Q-Link → IRC → Second Life → Virtual reality

Rabbitjackʼs Casino → BetMGM

An ad for MicroNET in the February, 1980 issue of Byte magazine

Also not new: Cloud computing. Check out the highlights from this 1979 advertisement for MicroNET:

  • MicroNET allows the personal computer user access to… large computers, software and disc storage
  • You can use our powerful processors
  • Operating time [is] billed in minutes to your VISA or MasterCharge card
  • You can even sell software via MicroNET.

MicroNET was a way for CompuServe to allow people to use spare capacity on its big iron computers. People could upload their personal projects, conduct business, and even develop software using the might of dozens of machines thousands of times more powerful than what they could afford in their own homes. Maintenance, backups, power supply, networking, and other infrastructure details were abstracted away from the end user so the user could concentrate on the task at hand.

Sound familiar, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and a thousand other virtual machine companies?

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Monday, July 12th, 2021 Alive 18,339 days

Sunday… interrupted
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Sheʼs got legs

Monday, July 12th, 2021 Alive 18,339 days

The front page of the Navajo Times

If your beauty pageant has replaced the swimsuit competition with an animal slaughtering competition, you may live on the Big Rez.

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Everyone go to the window and stare

Monday, July 12th, 2021 Alive 18,339 days

A graphic from the National Weather Service celebrating one-tenth of an inch of rain

Pretty much the definition of “celebrate the little things.”

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Syrupy and Canadian

Sunday, July 11th, 2021 Alive 18,338 days

Maple Artificially Flavored Coffee from Tim Hortons

Todayʼs coffee is Tim Hortons Maple (artificially flavored) Coffee. Why Timʼs, and why K-cups? For the same reason I buy most of my coffee — it was on sale.

A lot of coffee claims to be flavored with everything from chocolate to cinnamon to lavender. And itʼs almost always a hint of a suggestion of a note of a whisper of a nod in the general direction of a particular savor. This coffee doesnʼt play that game. It hits you square in the face with a hockey stick dunked in maple goodness. I have a jug of pure maple syrup in my refrigerator that feels inferior to this product. If you like maple flavor (And on a 116° day like today, who doesnʼt?), this is right grind for your gears. Itʼs like twisting a K-cup into a maple tree and letting the sweet, caffeinated nectar drip into your favorite Canadian Tire tumbler. While wearing flannel. And listening to Rush.

Does it taste like real Tim Hortons coffee from a real Tim Hortons shop? I donʼt know. Itʼs been so long since Iʼve slurped black and dunked Timbits in the Great White North that Iʼve forgotten what itʼs supposed to be like. But Iʼm going to declare it “close enough” because I like my coffee the way I like my women: Syrupy and Canadian.

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Customer service is king

Sunday, July 11th, 2021 Alive 18,338 days

I have a road trip coming up this week, so Iʼm calling the hotelsʼ front desks to confirm my reservations.

  • Holiday Inn: Answered immediately
  • Best Western: Answered immediately
  • Marriott: Transferred me three times, and left me on hold for 11 minutes so far

I think itʼs time to make a new reservation elsewhere.

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Smoking idea

Saturday, July 10th, 2021 Alive 18,337 days

The lease for my new apartment is very long, but I read the entire document anyway.

It turns out that I am not allowed to let my cat smoke a hookah in the freight elevator.

First thing on my to-do list once Iʼm settled: Buy a cat-sized hookah.

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Wholesome and surprisingly good

Sunday, July 4th, 2021 Alive 18,331 days

Goose Bumps coffee from Vesta Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Goose Bumps from Vesta Coffee in Las Vegas.

The coffee is pretty good, considering it comes from a city that prides itself on being artificial, superficial, and doing things “good enough.” Itʼs very smooth, which might be attributed to the relentlessly mineralized water that Vegas siphons from Lake Mead, before returning it to the lake after being processed by four million kidneys. The stated notes are “chocolate, graham cracker, sweet.” I certainly get the chocolate, and a bit of the sweet. But Iʼm not sensitive enough to detect graham or any other type of cracker in my coffee. Still, this desert coffee isnʼt a dessert coffee. Itʼs a nice weekend morning coffee, or a good reward in the afternoon after accomplishing some minor, yet dreaded, task. Iʼd buy it again because I like my coffee the way I like my women: wholesome and surprisingly good.

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Stop moving

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,330 days

It's funny how finding an apartment has changed so much from the days when I'd roll into a city with all of my possessions in the back of my pick-up truck and drive around looking for For Rent signs.

Now it's all online with pictures, and virtual reality tours, and instant approval options. Not that the instant approvals help us.

Most people get approved for an apartment in 15 minutes. It typically takes us a week, because the background check services have to look us up in each of the dozen states in which we've lived. Unnecessary stress and delay.

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Spotted

Friday, July 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,329 days

An incognito Volkswagen

Living in the desert in the summer, you see a lot of strange things. One of the oddities is cars with wild paint jobs.

Car manufacturers need to test their cars in extreme real-world conditions, so itʼs not unusual to see test cars driving around the desert. They stand out because they are usually covered with strange grid patterns, spots, or other visual camouflage intended to hide the details of the carʼs shape and abilities.

But like all cars, they have to stop for gas eventually, and their drivers have to go to the bathroom, so they turn up regularly at gas stations on the fringes. Perhaps not often enough for automotive spies to move to the desert, but certainly regularly enough that I see them a couple of times a month.

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