Archive for April, 2011

Looking for my bear…

Friday, April 29th, 2011

This morning the oddest sensation washed over me, a longing I hadn’t felt in years.  My stepson has a blankie, it’s his security blanket, his friend, he follows him just about wherever he goes.  I don’t quite ‘get’ the blankie thing since I did have one – but I don’t remember being as attached to it.  Something else had my affection – it was a Winnie The Pooh bear.  Now it wasn’t one of those new ones which is made to look JUST LIKE the one from the Disney cartoons, nor is it one of the very old style that looks like a more traditional teddy bear.  This guy was purchased in the early 1980s, was covered in a mustard-yellow type felt, had a red shirt, and a metal spine (probably just a stiff wire so its head would stay up straight).

Anyhow, this bear followed me for YEARS.  I slept with it every night, and by the time I hit my double digit its neck had been narrowed greatly by my hugging it tight every day and night. Then one day – for some reason or another, it vanished.  Still today, at 31 years, I miss my bear and wonder where it went.  In the age of Ebay I started looking this morning to see if I could possibly find another, hoping that someone, somewhere has one stashed away and possibly is putting it up for sale somewhere.  It’d be an antique collectible at this point but I can tell you right now if I got one I’d hug the crap out of it.

I’ve got about 400 pages of listings to go through, maybe I’ll find it – maybe not – but who knows.  That bear is a part of my childhood that if I can get it back – I don’t think I’d sleep with it like I did as a kid but having it around would afford me a sense of comfort and ease which I can’t say I’ve felt for a very, very long time.

The good and bad of the Obama birth certificate release…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The good – it takes an important and distracting issue off the table of those who are working to dethrone the anointed one in 2012.
The bad – it takes an important and distracting issue off the table of those who are working to dethrone the anointed one in 2012.

 

The way I see it folks, is that this was a valid question. Obama has apparently spent millions to keep it from coming out, while his mainstream media cohorts have worked tirelessly to make anyone who actually asks the question appear to be some ignorant racist hick called a ‘birther.’ We’ve heard about this since before his election, and as his popularity has been dropping – it has been used as a rallying cry by those (including Donald Chump) who want to keep the thorn in his side from healing.

 

Delaying it to this point has been smart in that in many instances it has kept more damning criticisms on the sideline until now, but essentially his opponents have been handed carte blanche to go after him on things that could actually make him a 1 term president.  With the media white-wash he got in 2008, you can bet that with high unemployment, a stagnant economy, skyrocketing deficits, the ever increasing costs of food and fuel, as well as his waffling on matters of national defense and the ‘war on terrorism’…  He will get the tough questions, and if the opponents have good, solid, and logical solutions for the problems he inherited as well as those which his administration has caused – he’s going to have one hell of a fight on his hands come election day.

A few more JC flavors in the kit…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Got another shipment from Johnson Creek yesterday, Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla, and Spiced Apple Cider.

 

I was very fond of the mint-chocolate when I received it in my trial pack, broke my heart when I spilled most of it.  If you’ve ever had a Camel Dark Mint – this flavor is a dead on match to it, a very well balanced combination of mint and chocolate flavors.  French Vanilla (or Vivid Vanilla if you’re a Blu vaper) – is also one of my favorites, just the right amount of sweet vanilla flavor.  Lastly – I’m not a big fan of fruity flavors when it comes to vaping.  I am a fan of the Black Cherry flavor, but others like Strawberry and Peach were way too overpowering.  I’m still on the fence with this one though.  Definitely tastes just like spiced apple cider, but my brain tastes it and thinks ‘wait, I want to DRINK some now.’  All have the typical throat hit you get from JC smoke juice, the quality is second to none.  The shipment came with 3 15ml bottles, 3 medicine droppers (which I always immediately screw into the bottle, discarding the existing caps) and 3 small ‘travel’ dropper bottles if you don’t want to carry around the original bottles.

 

Going to run out to the hardware store today to see if I can pick up some more of this blue foam I’m using for wicking material, seems to work better than the standard wool.

 

Speaking of my kit… here’s a pic of what I carry around on a daily basis to satisfy my need for VAPOR!!! 🙂

 

 

What I’ve got is an old Husky socket set bag, which currently has 7 different types of smoke juice, extra atomizers, extra cartomizers, extra battery, charger, and wicking material.  Normally if I’m out and about I will carry the charger, extra battery, and 2 prepped catridge/atomizer combos with some extra smoke juice in one or two of the small white travel bottles.  Generally I spend about $20 per month on smoke juice/materials.  Compared to the $200+ I used to spend on traditional tobacco cigarettes, I’m making out like a bandit and still getting what I need. 🙂

Ikenvape RY4

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Just took delivery on a 20ml bottle of VG based RY4 from Ikenvape.  This is my first pure VG based liquid – not sure if its because it was sitting outside in the mailbox all weekend but it was a little syrupy.  It still soaked into the wicking material just fine though.  As far as flavor, I’d say its very similar to the Johnson Creek “Classic Tobacco” flavor, but not quite as sweet / nutty.  After a while the JC CT flavor got a little overbearing (main reason I’m going to buy the 15ml bottles instead of the 30ml bottles from them now on – some variety).  The fluid produces a great amount of vapor – good throat hit, and IMHO is more satisfying than the JC CT.

Apparently RY4 was a very popular flavor produced by “Dekang” – but for some reason they stopped producing it.  Many companies attempted to reproduce the flavor with mixed results – but various online reviews say the Ikenvape RY4 is the best of the bunch.  At $8.99 for a 20ml bottle, plus shipping – I’d say it was a pretty good deal.  I’ll definitely be ordering more.

Other recent flavors that I’ve tried…

*—- Vapelite.com – MLB (Chinese blend) – great vapor, but the taste is almost tangy.  I’d say it tastes a lot like smoking urine.

****- Vapelite.com – Coffee (Chinese blend) – great vapor, good flavor, subtle hints of coffee.  Not as strong as JC Espresso, but at $3.50 for a 10ml bottle, I’ll deal.

**— Vapelite.com – Cappucino (Chinese blend) – great vapor, sweeter than Coffee, less coffee flavor than the standard “Coffee” which I prefer.

*—- Vapelite.com – Dekang Hovana – initial hit tastes like a sweet cigar, nutty/toasted marshmallow even… not much more to it, not my preference.  After the initial flavor it kind of ‘fell flat.’  Didn’t like it.

****- Vapelite.com – Dekang Kool – Not menthol but peppermint.  Tastes exactly like a Decade cigarette.  Very strong flavor, almost overbearing but it tastes good, helped me through a cold as well. 🙂

Verizon does right by me…

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

For the past 2 years I’ve lived in a cellular dead zone, so I needed to pick up a Verizon Network Extender to get service.  Essentially it’s a small cell tower that routes all my calls over my Internet connection.  It has worked well until the past few weeks where I started to get static and then I lost the GPS link, and finally it could no longer connect.  I put in a call to Verizon, explained the issues, they had me run a few checks and without hesitation – are shipping me out their brand new 3G Network Extender.  I know a lot of people who complain about Verizon – and even I have had issues in the past related to crappy phones, but overall – there’s a reason I’ve stuck with them for over 10 years now – and the service I consistently get from them is it.

NVIDIA 360M & The BSOD from HELL.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

My laptop (ASUS G51x) is my baby, I use it mainly for work and gaming (emphasis on the latter) – since I use the STEAM service to purchase most of my games, occasionally they’ll bark at me if a driver is too old.  Such was the case with Batman – Arkham Asylum GOTY edition.  No big deal, right?  I fire up the browser, visit Nvidia.com, and grab the latest driver for my 360M.  Problem was, any time I would use a driver newer than what came with my laptop (1.6x) – I would get random BSOD’s while watching Netflix, Hulu, or playing a game.  I spent weeks online looking up the cause, be it DirectX, or the driver itself.  As it turns out – it wasn’t the video driver at all, but the audio driver that ships with the new Nvidia driver.  I left the audio driver at the earlier release, updated everything else, and so far no problems.  I know this post isn’t very descriptive but with all of the posts online in regard to this very common problem, nobody seemed to be using trial and error to find the exact culprit.

So, if you’re running Nvidia hardware, and after a driver update you’re getting BSOD’s – restore the earlier audio driver. 🙂

Dell Tech Support Chat

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I cannot express how FRUSTRATING some online chat support is.  Normally I will give it a shot as my first round of getting help on an issue, some companies have a very good setup – like Checkpoint – where you contact them, and if the problem is too complex for a chat session, they’ll open a ticket for you.  Others, in this case Dell – simply vanish into the ether and end the session after waiting 20+ minutes for a response.

10:01:26 AM        System      System
You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
10:01:27 AM        System      System
Connected with AES Amanda Schreiber
10:01:31 AM        Agent      AES Amanda Schreiber
Hello, thank you for contacting Dell’s Enterprise Chat Support. My name is AES Amanda Schreiber. Once the chat session is completed, a transcript will be sent to sstanaitis@dpsource.com.

Please give me 2 to 3 minutes to access your system details and contact information.
10:01:39 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
ok
10:02:36 AM        Agent      AES Amanda Schreiber
Thank you for your patience while we verified your information. Before we get started, can you please provide the following information:

1. What is the specific Operating System and version (Windows 2003, RedHat 4 , etc), and is it the 32 bit or 64 bit version?
2. What is the problem?
3. What specific steps have you taken to try and resolve it?
4. For troubleshooting purposes, are you in front of the server or remote into it?
5. What is the role of this server, is part of a SAN or Cluster?

Please answer those questions as detailed as possible, in order to help us resolve your issue in the most efficient manner possible.
10:02:50 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
operating system is fedora core 11 32-bit (not an OS issue btw)
10:03:23 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
problem is that when accessing the RAC console via the web portal, the keyboard stops working. rac/bios are at the current release version
10:03:32 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
accessing it from a windows 7 64-bit system running the latest version of java
10:03:48 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
happens regardless of browser version (firefox 4, ie9)
10:04:28 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
keyboard works fine if its booted into the OS, but after a certain number of keystrokes, no more entry is accepted, the screen is still live (for instance if i’m in the BIOS, i can see the clock still counting) but there is no response to the keyboard anymore
10:05:22 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
as far as troubleshooting, i’ve tried a few different java settings, as well as compatibility mode in the browser
10:06:22 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
server is a standalone box that i only access remotely
10:11:47 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
hello? 🙂
10:17:32 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
are you still there?
10:23:12 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
can you please confirm that you got this?
10:30:05 AM        Customer      SJ Stanaitis
you haven’t responded in over 20 minutes, please respond.
10:35:09 AM        System      System
AES Amanda Schreiber has left this session!
10:35:09 AM        System      System
The session has ended!

 

I fired off an email to my account rep, and left a comment on the Dell site.  Right now I’m connected to another rep “AES Justin Ballard” who is actively responding and trying to help.  Definitely relieves some of my frustration, but still…

Scratched video game fix?!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

If you’ve got kids, and video games, you’ve got scratched discs.  Round 1, the discs lost.  They didn’t put the games back, they got too scratched, and no more video games.  After several months of intense training using backup copies of their favorite movies, I picked them up a couple new (used) games.  I also picked up a bottle of GameStop’s “Disk Skip Fixer.”  The stuff is basically a simple polish, designed to buff out small scratches that could affect game play.  The problem is that the older games had more severe scratches – nothing that actually reached down to the metallic media layer, but they were enough make the disc unplayable.

 

Then I had a thought, not an original one I’m sure, but I broke out my Oral B cross-action electric toothbrush, some Crest Pro Health, and proceeded to polish the entire disc – which removed a vast majority of the scratches, if not lessening them.  Then I took the GameStop polish, and polished the disc by hand, reducing the haze to a mildly scuffed mirror finish.  From the sounds of Lego Batman tearing through the streets of Gotham in the next room over, I’d say it was a success.  Now I just need to find the other games which are scattered throughout the house and see if I can make those playable again too! 🙂

EGO 900mAh

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Decided to upgrade from my 280mAh to a 900mAh EGO style vaporizer today.  Visited my normal e-cigg haunt, PAC Computers in West Milford, NJ.  For the grand total of $40 I got two 900mAh batteries, wall charger, USB charging cable, 2 mega atomizers and 5 pre-filled 24mg tobacco cartridges.  The manufacturer for the vaporizer is Brother, and it is compatible with standard 510 atomizers and cartomizers, and I’m estimating since I get about 4 hours out of a charge on the 280 510’s from Brother, I may get at least a day out of the 900’s.  Completely assembled, the vaporizer is about the size of a Philly cigar, and has an attractive brushed-stainless steel finish.

The default juice that comes with isn’t as offensive as what came with my previous 510 purchase.  I still can’t identify the source of the ‘tangy’ flavor but a lot of the Chinese based smoke juices have it.  I’m currently vaping through one of the cartridges that came with so I can try 2 new smoke juices I also picked up, Hovana and Kool, both in a 24mg nicotine content.  It’s higher than my usual 18mg, but I can’t beat the cost – $3.50 a bottle vs $10 for the equivalent sized bottle from Johnson Creek.

I’ve grown a little tired of the Classic Tobacco I picked up recently from JC, I figure when I order more I may instead order 2-3 smaller sized bottles of different flavors, perhaps Chocolate Mint, French Vanilla, and Tennessee Cured.  Either way I’ve got a good selection to burn through that should hold me for at least another month or two.  Factoring in what I’ve spent over the past 2 months on my addiction/hobby/obsession, I’ve saved about $300+ over traditional smokes, my breath doesn’t stink, I don’t stink, and I’m also not running out of breath like I did when smoking normally.

A Homeless Man’s Funeral

Friday, April 1st, 2011

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothing like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Apparently I’m still lost….it’s a man thing.