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Ravioli yumminess!

Apr. 18th, 2009 | 09:56 pm
location: home
mood: fullfull

You will need:
mushroom ravioli
Persian cucumber, diced and lightly salted (to bring some of the water out)
Spinach, chopped

Prepare a package of portobello mushroom ravioli from Trader Joe's (or something equivalent) according to the package instructions.

Heat a pan and put half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of olive oil in it. Cut up some prosciutto and add it to the pan. Stir it for a couple seconds so it doesn't stick and burn. Once the prosciutto starts getting done, add the cucumber and stir. When the cucumber turns a bit brown, add the spinach on top. After a second, stir it.

Once the ravioli is done, put it on a plate. When the spinach is done, add it to the plate also (but not on top of the ravioli). Turn the heat on the pan to low and add enough dry sherry to deglaze the pan. Stir to get all the bits off the bottom of the pan, then add enough of the hummus to cover the ravioli. Add a bit of olive oil as well if desired. Stir everything together.

Once this is all combined, turn off the heat and pour over the ravioli.

Bon appetit!

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Moronism - the new religion

Apr. 2nd, 2009 | 11:09 pm
mood: annoyedannoyed

I just caught a glimpse of the 700 Club (yeah, I didn't change the channel fast enough cuz I was on the phone) and one of their reporters was talking about more possible firings in the auto companies at the insistence of the feds. Then Pat Robertson comes on and starts going on and on about how it's socialism and how horrible that is and so on and so forth.

Hey! Yutz! That's NOT socialism! Before you go off about something, get your damn facts straight!

This is just one example of a growing trend toward stupidity taking the reins of policy-making and leading public opinion by the nose. Given recent events, I'd have to say federal and state legislatures are taking the lead in spreading this new religion.

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Sununu say what?!

Feb. 12th, 2009 | 11:24 pm
location: home
mood: cynicalcynical

I'm watching The Daily Show and John Sununu is the guest tonight. He said something that was so funny it was sad: that Congress has to be more thoughtful about the regulation it passes into law. What?! He's asking 500+ dueling egos to overlook the politics, interest groups and campaign contributions and actually make intelligent policy on subjects that they know absolutely nothing about!

So we can all see that we're pretty much screwed right?

Which brings me to a most excellent quote from the same episode made by John Stewart: "I'm Jewish - I don't think anything works right!"

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Chinese education

Feb. 11th, 2009 | 10:41 pm
location: home
mood: enlightened

Of all things, I found a cartoon for little kids to help teach me Chinese! The show is Ni hao Kai Lan! on Nick Jr.

Just watching one episode, I've already learned one word (fast, 快 kuai4) and an idiomatic expression ("Go!" or "You can do it!", 加油 jia1 you2) Check out http://asianfanatics.net/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t354472.html for further explanation.

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UPDATE: Customer service state of the art

Feb. 11th, 2009 | 10:31 pm
location: home

The latest:

Adobe: This is pretty much resolved. I finally got a hold of the contact I was given, and she was quite understanding, especially after she ran into problems on the Adobe support site because Adobe Updater is not in the product list. So a knowledgeable technician called me and got it all figured out. The solution was to enable the root account and do a fix permissions (twice). Success!

Sears: I finally got referred to what I was led to believe was their insurance agent. It turns out it was the insurance agent for the contractor who did the installation. Immediately she made things more complicated with technicalities. My insurance company has taken over matters. They've been great so far!

Dental insurance: Still the same idiotic crap. The dental office has given me 30 days (about 20 now) to pay them. I informed them that if they'd like to be paid in a timely manner, they could help out. After all, it's not just the dental work people pay for when they go to the dentist - it's the stuff before and after as well. Their response was a pledge to follow up with the insurance company next week. We'll see how that goes... As far as the insurance company, I actually got transferred to the executive assistant for the CEO of Wellpoint. She of course pushed my message off onto someone else. I'll find out who that is tomorrow.

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Customer service's state of the art

Jan. 19th, 2009 | 07:28 pm
location: home
mood: ticked

Have any of you noticed how terrible customer "service" has gotten lately? I find I am fighting a multifront battle against my dental insurance company (Anthem Blue Cross), Adobe and Sears. Not only are their products often crappy, but their technical support is crappier, and their customer service is the crappiest of all. Here's what's going on:

Dental insurance: the first time I ever went to the dentist in my new job, I had to have some work done. Right off the bat, insurance refused to cover any of it. After almost four months, some of it has been partially covered. Both I and the dental office have had to deal with insurance staff lies, incompetence and disorganization. It's absolutely pathetic. I've spent over three hours dealing with this, and it's still not anywhere near being concluded.

Adobe: I purchased Creative Suite 3 Master Collection some time ago, for more money than my entire iMac cost (and that was with a student discount of more than 50%). There were problems updating the software, so I wiped the computer clean and started over. That worked for a while. To get some better features, I wiped my computer again and installed Mac OS X Leopard. The first thing I installed was Adobe CS3 Master Collection. The updater worked for a while, and now all the sudden it doesn't. Not only that, but the Adobe PDFWriter won't work either. The queue stays paused, and when I start it, it pauses again. After two and a half hours on the line with support, I'm told they can try to fix it for $39. Why would I send good money to chase after bad, and pay even more for a product that costs more than my entire computing system? I made phone calls to the CEO’s office, and so far nobody has bothered to return my calls. It’s really not wise for someone to not return the boss’ phone calls; as a shareholder, I own part of that company. Hello!!!!

Sears: the independent contractor who installed the washer I bought from Sears dropped the O-ring for the cold water line and didn't bother picking it up to use it so there was a slow leak. Long story short, after threatening to sue everyone I’ve had to talk to at customer “service” I finally got a hold of someone in person at the store where I bought everything. They got the run around too! So now I've got the contact information for someone at their insurance company. None too soon either, because I just got a bill from the plumber – almost four hundred dollars! We'll see how it goes with the insurance company: they have to reimburse me for the plumber, the wall repair, replacing the linoleum, my cell phone bill, water bill and electric bill.

Everywhere I turn, I see complaints of terrible customer service and support. It seems like prices are going higher (or staying high) for things and service levels are sinking to all-time lows – even lower than the stock market. I think part of the problem is offshoring so much to call centers that take a cookie-cutter approach. Real life, after all, cannot be reduced to a set of scripts to be followed no matter what. Of course, that’s only part of it – even when call centers were stateside, they still were not the best. Corporate officers must realize that post-purchase support is part of the product – it’s not incidental to the product.

I own stock in each of the companies mentioned above (in the case of the dental insurance, I own stock in its parent company). I personally challenge the CEO, COO, other corporate officers, Chairman of the Board and the board members of each of these companies to improve their customer satisfaction and consumer ratings by at least 15% by the end of the year. If they don’t, I don’t think they deserve any of their salary or bonuses, and in the case of the board members, any dividends they get should go to customer refunds.

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Election 2008

Nov. 5th, 2008 | 12:29 am
mood: awakeawake

So Barak Obama is (right now) our unofficial President-Elect (yeah, that's right, the results aren't official yet! Wanna fight about it?*). Congratulations! Yes, it is historically significant that someone with an African-American ancestry is going to be our next president. But that's not the only thing worth discussing! What about what's he's actually going to do in office? He's made a hell of a lot of promises which he must realize he has absolutely no chance of keeping. There was also plenty of talk by pundits saying this now paves the way for a women or other minority group members to become president.

I see a problem with this - everyone is going to be so intent on seeing how he "represents" that they're all going to forget why he's there - to manage the executive branch of an entire country, with influence the world over. His job is not to represent African Americans or other minorities - it's to enforce the laws of the United States of America, and to represent all of us to the rest of the world.

I don't care who wins the presidency - if they're black, white, green or if they have tentacles. All I care about is whether or not they can actually do the job, and do it well. Honestly, I don't think Obama or McCain were up to the task. With every debate and speaking engagement in which I saw them, they showed a flawed understanding of economics, Constitutional law, and the powers and limits of the Presidency. These are core competencies for being president, and we just gave one of them the keys to the city (so to speak)!

There's nothing to be done about it now, so all I can say is hopefully this will cause a nice rally in the markets come Wednesday morning so I can make some money. :-)

Just for fun, it would be interesting to have all future candidates for federal elected office take a basic social studies test to see how they do. ;-}

* Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what character has a similar line.

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Spanish proficiency rating

Oct. 19th, 2008 | 12:56 am
mood: amusedamused

Your result for The Spanish Test...

The Native Speaker

You scored 88% educado. If you aren't hispanic, then you've done a great job learning. You know specialized vocabulary, and you can pass for un hispanohablante. !Felicitaciones!

Take The Spanish Test at HelloQuizzy


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Basic misunderstanding

Oct. 18th, 2008 | 11:55 am
mood: disappointeddisappointed

Read http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iE2JCSH5p9r2GBkQWS9TWAMzmuvQD93T0HGO0 and you can get an idea of McCain's (lack of) understanding of the way basic economics works. McCain says Obama supports a "socialist" set of tax cuts and credits that simply would shuffle wealth rather than create it.

McCain obviously doesn't have much understanding of his own party's agenda: Republicans champion tax cuts. What does he think those are? Having said that, our entire economic system has a definite socialist leaning. It's called a mixed economy. He should read about it on Wikipedia at the very least so he won't sound so ig'nant. :-|

As for the shuffling of wealth, well, it's just like chemistry and physics - you can't really create something from nothing unless you want some bad mojo. As an example, I make money at work, go to the store and buy something, then that money goes through the store to one of its employees who invests it in some stock. Somebody else sells their stock and the employee buys it. Then it goes up and they sell it (and at the same time, somebody else loses money on an option call). The employee then buys something. And so it goes on and on. Perhaps see an article here and here.

Now, if that employee were not satisfied with what they got paid and tried to "create" wealth by printing up some currency or using someone else's credit card, they'd be breaking many laws and that would be bad mojo. And yet, wouldn't that be a zero-sum proposition because their gain is somebody else's loss? Hmmm?

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Oct. 12th, 2008 | 12:55 pm
mood: numbnumb

Two things. This is the 200th entry in my LiveJournal (yay!). Sadly, my grandmother (on dad's side) passed away Saturday. She was in the hospital for a few days and went downhill quickly. She would've been 90 in November. As far as I know, there is now nobody left on my dad's side who can remember the Great Depression - they've all died.

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