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Why we ride

The wind is warm and thick with the scent of summer and grass. I feel guilty just for a fleeting moment while listening in on the private conversation between the front tire and the pavement below. The soft, subtle grinding of rubber on asphalt reminds me of mountain trips past.Tail of the Dragon

I have no need for your creature comforts. There is no place, here, for your anti-lock brakes, cruise control, heated steering wheel, power seats, power… anything. I look down at the speedometer and feel free from the constraints of a shift indicator light, a fuel gauge, a tachometer… A seat belt. Today is not the day for touch-screen navigation or air-conditioned seats.  Today is for riding. The angry growl of the exhaust, and the whipping of the wind is the only song offered me, and I accept it with a devilish grin.

I watch in eager anticipation as the breach between my headlight and rider in front grows, urging my right hand to twist ever further and unleash the beast lurking deep within the parallel twin beneath me. As I roll thumb-ward down, I feel her hands open and squeeze against my chest, pulling us together and making us one. The corner is approaching and my grin grows uncontrollably, slowly exposing my teeth to the air. I’m thankful for this helmet covering my expression, otherwise everyone within eyesight would surely giggle.

The bike leans itself over, further and further, as if demanded by some telepathic connection.  Leaning and leaning, seeking the apex. My throttle hand remains steady, eyes fixed on the exit, and then a moment of weightlessness when the left peg touches the ground and that beautiful grind of steel on street rings out softly.

On the throttle, now! She stands back up and the front end begins to lighten as we continue to close the gap left by our leader, his tail light getting ever larger. Closing and closing before the bright reminder that another corner approaches.

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Comcast Fail, level 999

Another run in with our cable company, another two and a half hours on the phone, and another complete failure in every conceivable way.

So three weeks ago I get a call on my cell phone with promises of “the X1 operating system, free HBO, free Starz, and upgraded internet speed” all for the low, low price of $130/month. Not only that, we’ll get to keep both of our DVR’s and no other changes in our service agreement.  I thought it sounded too good to be true.  Turns out, as usual, I was right. Honestly, this one is on me.  I knew better and every time, every damned time, I make a change to my cable service, I get screwed. But, I blindly believed what I was being told and signed up.

Two weeks goes by and no equipment, no email, no phone call.  I even logged into my credit report to ensure I didn’t get taken by some scam artist who promised me he was Comcast only to talk me out of my personal information.  Thinking back on this, maybe an encounter with someone trying to steal my identity would be less painful.

The website never seems to have agent chat available anymore, so I did what I always regret and called Comcast customer service.

After being half-helped and hung up on, twice, and holding for a total of at least 45 minutes, I got someone who had an IQ higher than that of a cucumber (only just) and we started the dance of agony that is Comcast’s verification process. I beat her to the punch: “my name is ——, my address is —–, and the last 4 digits of my social are —–. Can we please move forward?!”

I explained that I agreed to a new 2-year contract in exchange for the HBO, Starz, DVR boxes, wireless internet, blah, blah… Nothing had arrived, no one had contacted me, blah, blah, etc.

The agent pulls up my account information and explains that although the order was “put in but never shipped”.  Thank you, captain obvious. He went on to explain that we were not, in fact, receiving two DVR’s, we were getting one X1 DVR that would record up to 5 shows at the same time, and a “companion box” that would be able to play those shows in any other room (wherever the companion box was). I was disappointed and asked to be contacted by a manager and to put the whole order on hold until I could get answers.

Fast forward three days, and the fucking package with my new equipment shows up at my door step. So much for the “hold”.  Add to this that the DVR service stopped working in every room of our house, so holding off on installing the new equipment was basically pointless.

So the hell with it, I’ll eat the 2 year agreement and stay with the X1 companion box thing… I can’t imagine we’ll record more than 5 shows simultaneously.

Let’s plug in this stuff and get to it.  Internet modem fires right up, living room box is SLOW to start up and load working channels, but eventually it gets working.

Last step was to instal the bedroom “companion box” that had caused all the kerfuffle. “Please enter your account number and phone number”, I click continue and… “This box needs to be added to your account. Please call 888 blah blah blah” FUCK MY LIFE.

3 customer service agents, one hang up, 54 minutes on hold. I was asked to “verify my account information” 4 times.  FOUR FUCKING TIMES for a series of people to send multiple “reset signals sent to box”, and “can you please read me the error code again?”. And let’s not forget: “Sir, Starz isn’t included in your package, I’m not sure why the agent told you that it was”. “Of course not” I replied. “Of course not…”

After all of that, I’m awarded with nothing. Box is still broken, and a technician has to call me tomorrow between 5 and 9 PM.  $100 says I get no call.  I wonder how many times I’ll have to validate my information, unplug and re plug-in my box and receive “reset signals” before I get transferred to yet another asshat who can’t help me after I decide I’ve waited long enough and call the god damned 800 number. Be sure to tune in the next time I get my Xfinity internet service restored so I can blog about how pissed off I am about the 40 year contract they forced me into.

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Ship it!

Drink like a localAnother day, another hobby… As most avid readers know, I’m a bit of a craft beer nut.  Whenever we travel, we try to fit in as many local breweries as we can, and I’ve been known to frequently visit Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Dunedin, Punta Gorda and other “local” (read: less than 3 hour drive) locals to hit Florida breweries.

But you can’t travel everywhere, and you can’t try every beer. If only I could ship Florida beer in exchange for local treasures in other cities and states!!

In my internet travels, I’ve discovered Untappd, BeerAdvocate and BeerFests, and now my new addiction, TheBeerExchange.

So far, I’ve traded a total of 5 times.  Thanks to BEX, I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with Chris and Tim in south California, Mike in New Jersey, E. in Michigan, and Ross in Louisiana.  For local favorites like Funky Buddha, Cigar City, JDubs, and Big Top I’ve received over a dozen different local favorites from 4 different cities for just the cost of shipping a box!

In the spirit of furthering the cause, I decided to share some of my beer exchanging tips. (Additionally, there is a fantastic document on how to pack and ship beer here.)

Wrap it up1. You are not shipping beer. Shipping alcohol requires an over-21 signature on the sending and receiving end. And it’s generally a lot more expensive. On the outside of the box, or if they ask, write/say “glass candles” or “liquid yeast samples” (not technically a lie).

2. Good advice for many activities, Wrap it up! Be sure to wrap each can/bottle individually and then all together. Remember, if one bottle breaks and leaks, most shipping companies will throw out the whole box. So one ziplock type bag per can/bottle is a good idea.

3. Using rubber bands instead of taping the bubble wrap is handy for the receiver, because he/she can use the bubble wrap again!

Include extras and a note4. Give your box a good shake. Nothing should clink, shift, or move around.  If it does, use packing paper or more bubble wrap.

5. Beer traders are awesome people. Include a few extras! I always include a few additional Florida beers in the box, and a nice note for that “personal touch”.

So, get out there and score some local beer, and then sign up on TheBeerExchange (it’s FREE).

Be sure to look me up when you get there, as expected I’m “KeyboardDevil”. Also, be sure to drop my new friends Chris, Tim, Mike, E. ,and Ross a line.  They’re great traders and will take good care of you.

Forget about waiting on the big distributors, let’s make local beer accessible to everyone right now!

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It is done

After much ado, and a great deal of research, driving cars, mulling, complaining, judging, and asking around… The deed is done.


Meet my 2014 Jeep Rubicon (and our beagle “Morgan”).

She’s loaded with just about every option available, and will be towing my bike to the mountains any day now.

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You’ll get the service you deserve, and you’ll like it

googleFailWhen the last big retail hack took place, ironically I think it was Target, I signed up for a Google Wallet card so I could put a layer of protection between my checking account and would-be thieves. So far the card has been pretty handy.  You can add funds directly from your bank account with no fee, and even transfer money to friends via email.  Pretty snazzy!

Earlier tonight I tried paying for my beers at the local World of Beer here in South Florida only to be declined.  Not that this was a new development, my Google card gets declined all the time.  So, I pick up my phone, open the Wallet app, and move over some funds.

But when I pulled up my transaction history, there was a $140.02 charge (the exact amount in my account, down to the penny), posted today, from a Target in Kissimmee, FL (home of Disney World, and surrounding shitty neighborhoods), which is 150 miles from here.

So, someone managed to get their hands on my Google account information.  Looks like my paranoia paid off!  Anyway, time to call the Google Wallet support line at 855-4-Wallet (how professional!) and report my issue.

EmailAnd, here’s where the Google monster falls down.  Had my bank identified a faulty transaction (which they have a few times in the past) there would be an immediate lock-down on my account, an investigation, and a full refund, all before I hung up the phone.  But, that’s not what happened.

“Sir, I’m sending you an email with a link to our dispute form, which I encourage you to fill out right away.”

All of that Google power, all of the fanfare and hubbub about their multimillion dollar buildings and I get a form to fill out… A form to fill out, and wait…

And what about my account?  You know, the one connected to my checking account.  Was it closed and locked?  Nope.  Disabled, or suspended?  Nope.  Customer service lady (who was very nice) told me she couldn’t do it.  I had to do that from the app, on my own.  Thanks Google!

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Live-Action Network?

Adult SwimAdult Swim [ad-uhlt swim] (noun)

Origin:  American

Definition:  3 great cartoon shows followed by 6 hours of live-action shit jokes and random screaming we’ve told you is funny separated by commercials about nothing written by 6 year-old mental patients.

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Men aren’t all that bad

Like many others in the non-NYC area, I skipped over an article on CNN talking about cat-calling and street harassment aimed at women in the city.  Like much of the rest of the US, my “left vs right” internal argument falls somewhere in the middle but I still managed to imagine the thinnest of liberalized arguments making a few uneducated, third-world-transplant construction workers generalized as everyday Americans.  “Oh, stop fucking crying” I thought.

Then I watched this video, and I was mind-blown.

cat1After you get past the stupid shit people are saying, and even the mind-boggling rate at which it is being said, there still remains a creepy and obvious threatening overtone.  This is most apparent when watching her eyes as a barely-controlled panic sets in, darting from side to side and back to the camera in the man’s backpack for some kind of reassurance that she is safe from pending attack.

Although it is clear from the video that this approach is likely not resulting in “hook-up’s”, this has become an issue and reportedly is getting worse.  This can only lead me to believe that it is either working (these me are actually getting dates with this behavior), or the power-shift is so addictive, men are willing to take the chance of being pepper-sprayed to continue it.  Either way, the story is compelling (albeit, disgusting) from a psychological point of view.

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Comcast, anyone?

comcastsssAnother hour and a half out of my life, wasted on the ever-sucking ass-hats of Comcast.  Due to the seemingly reasonable rational of being completely exhausted of paying over $240 a month for cable that I barely use, I contacted Comcast-Xfinity via web chat.  I should mention that this is my preferred method of contacting them as I frequently feel the need to stomp away angrily and scream obscenities back at the agent who is trying to “help” me.  My original purpose was to remove all of my premium channels and stick with the basic cable line-up.  What I didn’t realize was that the “basic cable” line-up is far from what you’d expect.

Anyway, the channel line-up options are in what basically amounts to three flavors:

  1. Basically nothing outside of local news and “Fresh Prince” reruns
  2. The standard list of the the channels you want, plus a whole shitload of stuff you’ve never heard of and will never watch
  3. The second list plus all of the premium pay channels like HBO and Showtime.

fprinceAs you’d expect, the price difference between the first and second options is massive while between the second and third is actually pretty reasonable (once you get past the ass-raping of the pricing).

Now, if you add the home phone service, which even my grandmother doesn’t use, you’ll “save” even more.  The chat agent mentioned to me, more than once, that I had the option of just ‘not plugging in a phone’ even though I was receiving (and paying for) the service.

Anyway, at the end of my “experience” with the chat agent, I was asked (as I usually am) to take a “quick survey”.  If you’ve read my other Comcast blogs, you know I can’t resist.  Here is the actual text of the “comments” at the end of the survey:

Firstly, I’m convinced that no one reads these, but whatever maybe I’ll feel better after I type it out. The cable channel combinations are obviously set up to suck every last penny out of your customers with no concern for offering packages that people actually WANT.  What the hell is the tennis channel?  SERIOUSLY?  I had 200 channels I never watched before the chat, and now I have some 140 channels I’ll never watch just to save a few dollars while keeping the ability to watch the few shows I actually DO want.  And, that was no small feat, only accomplished by spending the last 1 and a half hours on a chat with your basically useless agent.  This is the last time I’ll be changing my service.  Once I’m used to using services like Hulu and Netflix, I’m leaving for good.  I hope, truly and faithfully, that Comcast goes out of business completely.  You know what?  I DO feel better now. :)

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More stuff we already know

In a ground-breaking report today, a massive 20-year fraud was uncovered at The University of North Carolina where literally thousands of athlete students were discovered to have been furnished with fake classes and grades to ensure their sports eligibility.

Or, in other words:



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Infinity’s ass hole

Nice job, asshatIn what I can only guess is an attempt to continue the stereotype that Americans are either too stupid, too removed from reality or both, Infinity has created this TV commercial featuring what, by all accounts, can only be described as “that guy who is the cause of every traffic accident, ever”.

The commercial shouldn’t include the disclaimer “professional on a closed course“,  maybe more like “fucking idiot trying to kill everyone else on the road“.

Touting this car’s ability stop you from running soccer-mom-vans full of sticky-fingered children into a roadside creek is insulting and irresponsible.  Congratulations Infinity, the only one-up to including anti-dumb ass technology in your cars is this commercial showing it off with captain-crash-a-lot.


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