Campaign spam season (Screw you, Christine)

The 2020 presidential campaign is in full swing, and how do I know? Because once again I’m getting spam texts for “Christine”.

I mentioned in a couple of posts in 2016 that this was happening: It started with phone calls, but then graduated to text messages, at which point I figured out what was happening. Some dumb bimbo in New Hampshire either registered to vote or signed up for political activism using the wrong number: my cell number. Which is in the 315 area code for central New York, which as you may be aware is several hundred miles separated from New Hampshire.

Apparently I never mentioned it at the time, but last summer the campaign robotexts started up again. I got two of them for Christine, and both times I tried to respond I couldn’t get anyone to answer me or confirm I’d be taken off a list. One of them was from an activist organization that only identified itself by its initials, and I couldn’t find a phone number for them so I had to use forms on their website to contact them—and even then I never got an answer.

Well, last night one of the presidential campaigns robotexted me, this time with a poll where “Christine” could respond with a number indicating who she supported. I replied, hoping to reach an actual person, that this number was not and never had been Christine’s and please take me off the list.

To their credit, the campaign just sent me a follow-up text message a few minutes ago (18 hours after the fact, but it’s something) telling me they’d opt me out of text messaging. Good. Now if only they could contact whomever gave them the database they’re using, and get Christine removed from it, that’d be great.

My sneaking suspicion now is that Christine is on the NH voter rolls with my number, and I’m screwed as far as trying to find out where she’s registered and how to get my number taken off the lists. So I’m hating pretty hard on this girl right about now, to the point where I struggle not to use much stronger derogatory terms to express it.

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When other developers are all stupid

“All” might be a strong word here before, but… wow.

I’ve railed against this problem before, and I’m railing again. I leave cookies disabled on all websites except by whitelist only. This obviously gets annoying for those newsletter popups you get everywhere, or those STUPID alerts so many websites do because of the stupid, stupid, stupid GDPR. (What a badly worded, poorly executed piece of trash; thanks for nothing, EU. Par for the course for the idiots running amuck in Brussels. No I don’t discuss politics on this blog, but it’s fair to say the morons laying down Internet law in Europe can’t be trusted to so much as flip burgers. Article 11 and Article 13 are both such disasters, I can’t think of a better word to describe their incompetence than criminal. But I digress.)

Anyway, having cookies disabled causes me problems on Firefox. I do, in part, blame Firefox for handling this badly; they really should have these situations fail silently instead of throwing JavaScript errors. But be that as it may, any time a website tries to do operations with something like localStorage, it fails. Many framework or modernizer scripts try to access this, and when they run into Firefox’s security error, the script dies instead of continuing. Again, partly Mozilla’s fault here, but I also put a great deal of blame on the many, many web developers who don’t test for this scenario and apparently aren’t even aware of it.

I mean heck, would I think of it if I didn’t already know about it? Maybe not. But what really pisses me off is that so, so many sites have this problem because of a script that’s shared among many of them. And the developers of those scripts should definitely be aware of this issue. Wrap that access to localStorage or IndexedDB in a try/catch, and everything is hunky dory. Do they do that? NO.


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They stole my drink

Today, I am pissed.

The other day I went to Walmart to pick up a few things and thought I’d get more of the orange Crush water enhancer I like. It’s my current favorite and I’ve been drinking it for quite a while. It takes two squirts for me so it’s not 24 servings as it claims, more like 12, but I still like it. Walmart was, however, out.

Today I went to Wegmans, and this is where I got pissed off twice. First, Wegmans rearranged the store, AGAIN, for no reason. I hate it when they do that. They moved the bulk foods and shrunk them. They moved the drink mixes too, but I finally found those. Here, they had slots only for strawberry and grape Crush water flavors, and both of those were marked “Discontinued Item”.

Discontinued by the manufacturer, or is Wegmans simply dropping them? Either way, someone needs a slap.

Tried Walmart again: All flavors of the Crush water enhancer were out of stock. They had the seemingly new powder singles, which I actually considered—until I discovered those include aspartame, which hates me almost as much as I hate it, and by extension the terrible people who put it in things I want to eat or drink. (And also almost all gum, for some reason. Why can’t gum brands choose one sweetener and be done with it?)

Target was a complete bust.

I’m starting to wonder if the Crush liquid water enhancers have indeed been discontinued. You wouldn’t know it to see it online, except from availability on Amazon which is poor and also overpriced. The manufacturer’s site tells me nothing about this, which makes them less than useless.

I hate little more than when a product I enjoy goes off the market. I still carry grudges over several of them in particular. When I become a supervillain, there will be consequences.

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A season-transitional gap

I really didn’t mean to go nearly two months without a post, but life happened. Tooth drama has settled down a bit, and I’m hoping soon I can get a follow-up appointment to get my implant started.

My wife finally has her car, but she never got a remote starter installed when it was still winter, and that’s a whole fiasco. The dealership where she bought it gave her the runaround waiting to bring it back in, and it was going on 30 days since purchase, so she asked the dealership’s GM to give her something in writing to say they’d still honor the warranty. He agreed, but totally dropped the ball on communication—which was already going pretty badly, as my wife was bouncing between the salesman and the head of their service department. As a result she got a “loaner” she couldn’t use, the dealership tried looking at the car but decided they couldn’t figure it out and it was a Honda problem after all, they subbed it out to Honda, and ultimately it turned out to be a known issue for that model year with a loose door in the heater (indeed the blower motor was never broken). And when she got the car back, the map and interior lights didn’t work, so she was beyond pissed. Ultimately the Honda dealership that fixed the other problem took care of this directly, and the first dealership found new and exciting ways to piss her off even worse. Suffice it to say she’s never going back to the first dealership and will gladly warn anyone else away from here out.

(How bad did you screw up, Billy? Yuuuuuge.)

And then of course all kinds of other life stuff came up, and a lot of my personal projects fell by the wayside. In fact I’m still struggling with the book I’m working on. We had family issues, I got sick a few weeks ago, I had to deal with work problems, and then there was Easter and whatnot.

All of which is to say there isn’t a single compelling reason I haven’t posted, just that I’ve been busy and blog-worthy stuff hasn’t been coming by much. I’m hoping that will change in the near future and I can spin back up on things I let sit way too long. To be honest I do think winter blahs took a lot out of me.

In spite of that, spring madness hasn’t set upon me too badly, surprisingly. I haven’t felt jittery or anxious waiting for the end of winter, but I have longed for the weather to warm up again. We had some brief spots of nice temperatures, but it’s downright chilly this week and there’s no end in sight. I’m hoping at least I’ll be able to get a zoo day in this year, unlike last year which was a bust for a lot of reasons including my (at the time) messed-up foot. At least if everything pans out this year, we’ll have leaves on the trees by the time a zoo day comes. Trees are budding all around my neighborhood now, and there’s a good amount of sunshine today. But with the temperature in the 50s, that’s just nature mocking me.

Besides all the other life stuff, I’ve been looking into the possibility of intermittent fasting to help lose weight. It fits fairly closely with how my days lay out already, so in theory I can do that. In practice, it’s been highly recommended that I cut way back on carbs and exercise to help that work, but I don’t see either of those things happening except in moderation. To my credit, I passed up some gorgeous donuts on Sunday.

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Haiku: A tragedy at Walmart

Two boxes Thin Mints!
Credit cards won’t work today.
No Thin Mints for me.

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The aftershock

It’s been a week and a half now since my dentist appointment, and there’s good and bad. The good news is I did not have a root canal. The bad news is, that’s because when the dentist started clearing away cavity material, there wasn’t enough of the tooth salvageable after all. He could have gone forward with the plan as-is to place a new cap, but it wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years and I’d end up right back in the chair.

So plan A went to plan B: extract the tooth and try to do an implant that same day, if possible, which would mean waiting 3 months for a cap. He had to cut the tooth in half to pull it, being a molar, and after pulling it was clear that there was in fact a pocket of infection on the end of one root, just like the X-ray showed. Ouch. Then the dentist drilled some holes in the bone to see if a post big enough for a molar implant would fit, but found that despite the (new) X-ray looking promising, it wasn’t quite as much bone as he had hoped.

Plan C: Place a bone graft, wait 3 months for that to heal, then place the implant, then wait 3 months, then place a cap. I hate plan C, because that means I have to wait all the longer for a cap and it’s very likely to interfere with the Great New York State Fair. But plan C it is.

I also discovered that after an extraction, you’re supposed to stay away from carbonated beverages and avoid drinking from straws. Problem: I am a frequent consumer of carbonated beverages, that being my only intake of precious, precious caffeine, and also I often drink those through straws.

Nevertheless I was dutiful and avoided carbonation. My next visit was supposed to be yesterday to take out a (very very irritating) stitch in the gums, but Tuesday I went in because I was tasting infection. The dentist re-irrigated but said actually everything looks like it’s healing well, and he went ahead and removed the stitch. Unfortunately, I’m still supposed to stay off carbonation till the gums heal over. Augh!

Meanwhile for an update on the whole car fiasco, I mentioned my wife got a new (to her) car. Well, the blower motor (it seems) is making terrible noise on high speed, which is a problem with these extreme low temperatures. She took it to the dealership to have that dealt with under warranty. They kept it three days, because they didn’t order a new blower until the last minute and then it got delayed by weather, then after that they had some kind of problem with needing “components” that supposedly wouldn’t be resolved till today, but somehow Wednesday they said they had managed to change out the motor anyway but it still made noise. They gave the car back, so my wife picked it up last night, but they’re thinking they have to get it back in and then take it apart to look for other issues, possibly even outsourcing to a Honda dealership. Meanwhile my wife and I are both left thinking that the blower motor never got replaced at all, and this is just a smokescreen for delays on their end.

All of this also pushes back any chance my wife has of installing a remote starter, which she wants, and by the time she gets it winter will probably be over—at least ostensibly. Realistically, we probably have another couple months of winter, because this is Syracuse.

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The horrible very bad no-good week

I meant to catch up on blogging a bit and life got at me, then life really got at me. At the moment I am on the cusp of my first root canal. My adventure began around my birthday, when I started having pain in my capped tooth, the first molar on the lower left. (In dental parlance, #19.)

When I was 18, I saw a dentist who insisted this had a bad cavity although if anything I thought the molar on the other side looked iffy. He drilled, put in a filling, and all was relatively well for years until a corner of the tooth turned gray and eventually cracked off; not long after, the filling popped out. This was about 10 years after the filling went in, and it required a cap. Some years later the cap came partially loose once, but I popped it back down and it troubled me no more, except for the occasional episode of pain every year and a half or so that would last for a few days or a week, then subside. (The cap coming loose was probably what set the ball rolling for troubles to come, but it’s possible it was troubled to begin with.) It became rather sensitive so I avoided putting too much pressure on it, just to be safe.

One of those episodes happened again this November, and it started right before my birthday. Right after my birthday, the pain intensified horrendously and I had major toothaches every night for about two weeks. At one point the cap shifted again, which concerned me because I knew its time was coming to an end. After that settled down, on Christmas day I was chewing something and the cap came partially out; I popped it back in again, but I knew I would have to see a dentist early in the new year. Right after that I began to notice a foul taste in my mouth, presumably from infection and likely from the exact infection that had been bothering me since November. But the pain was basically gone and I just had to be careful with the tooth for a while until I got around to making a dentist appointment.

So it was last Thursday, after the Superbowl when I was finishing up some leftover chicken Parmesan meatballs, that my cap just came clear off. Game over. No more putting off the dentist. Only as it turned out, the dentist I wanted to see was closed Friday; and so was my second choice. I had to wait and call on Monday morning to see when they could get me in, which fortunately turned out to be that same morning; but what an awful weekend that was, wondering what they might find. Turns out there’s no anxiety dream like a teeth anxiety dream, and I did not sleep well. But once I got to the dentist, they discovered my tooth is more intact than I thought, and they think it can be saved and re-capped and that’s actually cheaper than most alternative options; in fact it’s only more expensive than pulling the tooth and leaving a gaping hole.

So that’s why I have a root canal coming up. But it gets worse!

My wife and I knew her car was on the way out. It’s had a very strange slow oil leak going on for years, and to diagnose it the mechanics would have to take apart the engine bit by bit; in other words, not cost effective to fix. The leak however was getting steadily worse and we expected by this summer she’d need a new car.

Wednesday night we were driving to my parents’ house and nearly made it there before, after turning a corner and hitting a small bump, something started scraping beneath the vehicle. It was a strap for the gas tank, which my dad wired up a bit so we could get it to their house and wait for a tow. The next day, and keep in mind this is still less than 168 hours (a full week) after my cap came out, we found out that the frame of the car is basically rusted beyond hope. The chassis is actually structurally sound, but there are no other supports that the gas tank strap could be re-mounted to.

So it was a pretty sucky week. And yet, I still feel incredibly blessed in so many ways, as much as I want to focus on the negative I can’t fail to acknowledge how much worse it could have been. Indeed one of the ways it could have been worse was that we didn’t think my wife would be able to secure a “new” car before my next appointment, requiring me to drive her to work early, but that’s already taken care of now.

I still don’t feel great about facing a root canal, though. And even less great that I probably won’t have a new cap until sometime in March.

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