I’m “special”

I did it. I drank myself into a Starbucks Gold Card. The worst part about it isn’t all the Starbucks coffee that’s gotten tastier since I had it last: now I know how truly awful the coffee at work is. The Gold Card gets me a free drink every 12 purchases, but even more important, it lets me make 30 more purchases before it expires next January if I want to “stay gold”. Well, I won’t say it’s the worst hobby I’ve had.

Yesterday I made a bit of a mistake, though. I said, “I want a tall, er, Grande Americano.” They heard that as, “I want a Quad Grande Americano.” I thought that might get me overly awake at work, but that wasn’t the case. And it was tasty.

I’ve been trying to take it easy this week after an awful cramp at the gym last Saturday. I was doing burpee pull-ups and when I tried to do a second one, I felt like someone was stabbing me in my side. I’m pretty sure it was my rotator cuff, where it anchors to my back. I couldn’t stand up straight and was lying on the ground or hunched over for quite some time. I had to get help to reach a foam roller, but even then I couldn’t find any knots. The pain subsided a little and I went home to start looking for open massage appointments and many could be scheduled on-the-line. The best part was I found a great massage therapist just down the street. I was completely pain-free by Tuesday but I decided since, as my sister says, I’m a “f*cking spaz,” I should just lay low for the rest of the week.

Oh, and coincidentally, Monday was also my buddy Il’s birthday and so my week of rest started out with some extreme gluttony at the Ringside. It was glorious.

Stupid new projects.

I think the customer loyalty programs are playing me for a fool.

I pay a bunch of money to American Express, mostly so I can get into airport lounges. I never travel by myself, so it was nice that they let me bring two people, my mom and my sister. I’ve only used things at Delta lounges and now Delta has limited it “effective immediately” to just me.

Starbucks sent me an email yesterday about a free drink at 12:03AM. I went it about 12:50PM, just after lunch, and checked the Starbucks app on my iPhone and it said my reward had expired. I wondered what timezone I was supposed to be in. I finally figured out several things.

  1. Starbucks gives me rewards and doesn’t warn me even though they have my email address and my cell phone number as well as an app that could send notifications if it was programmed properly.
  2. When Starbucks says something is expiring on 1/9, they mean that as soon as it turns 1/9 then it’s expiring. You can’t use it on 1/9 like everybody else on the planet would think.
  3. Starbucks can send you email for free stuff at the same time they have random things you don’t know that you even had expiring, confusing everything.
  4. Starbucks isn’t a nice touchy-feely company that would say, eh, it’s just a coffee, have one on us since we’re so confusing in our rules. (I emailed for clarification.) On the other hand Peet’s is.
Of course I’m still suckered into those loyalty programs and probably won’t be quitting in a huff, especially since they already have me already.
I ordered the ultrasonic dish I was mentioning before. It was about $170. I figured it is cheaper than my new obsession, which is to get a good microphone, a professional mixer, and see what my voice sounds like. I just realized I could just use the recorder I bought, but I’ve already told a guy that I want to buy his Shure SM55.
And I thought it was stupid to go to Radio Shack to buy this thing for $15 that plugged into a small computer (Japanino Arduino variant) I already had. It was a lot more fun than I thought.


The only secret to getting the Japanino working: go to http://www.silabs.com and get the driver for the CP2104 USB-to-UART controller.

My odd obsessions.

You’d think this was going to be more exciting than it is, but I’m thinking of two odd things that I’m kind of obsessed with right now. One is trying to find the source of the power line noise that makes my ham radio useless. I bought a $150 direction-finding antenna/radio for finding radio interference and even build my own homemade antenna, but I keep needing more and more gadgets to try to pinpoint where the noise is coming from. It’s a lot easier when you can tell the power company the number of the pole and the reasons you’ve narrowed it down to that pole. Next on my list is an ultrasonic detector. Ultrasonic detectors are used to listen for gas leaks or bats, but they’re also good at pinpointing the sound of arcing on power lines. I’ve bought parts and pieces to build my own ultrasonic detector but I still don’t have all the parts yet. I think I may just buy one pre-made and experiment with the bits later.

I also get tricked into customer loyalty programs. If I drink 100 different beers at the Mellow Mushroom, I get a special glass with my name on it and I’m up to 49 or so. I’ve had most of the “good” beers on the list and I may have to start on things like Coors Lite. I’m exaggerating, of course, but it may get to that point if I get closer to 100. I’m also trying to buy 30 coffees at Starbucks this month to get to “gold” status there. The coffee has gotten better lately and is not the awful burnt stuff I remember so it isn’t as painful as you’d think. Starbucks also is supposed to give their employees benefits, which I should wholeheartedly support. But I’m not sure what “gold” status will really get me. It’s another one of those things I’m just going to have to experience for myself. I am the sucker with an American Express Platinum Card, after all, and that started with Green in college, Gold sometime afterwards, and Platinum after I decided it might be good for international travel.

Yes, I am just putting it out there that I’m a sucker.

Happy New Year!

How does an old guy spend New Year’s Eve? In bed by 11PM. Since this is a blog full of an old guy complaining about his ailments, I can tell you about the cold that seems to leave me tired during the day but unable to sleep at night. At least I got my ‘flu shot this year and I’m not suffering from H1N1 like many people are. Instead it’s random fits of coughing. It’s not as bad as people who really got sick. Most of the time it was more like the hiccups.

But here it is, 2014 and I should have something to show for it, right? Some introspection about the past year and some resolutions for for the new year? Instead I’m just coughing, 10 pounds over where I think I started the year, and spending most of my time just shuffling to and from work. And I’m about to hit the big Five-O. One of my classmates said we should use that as an excuse to go to Hawaii, and why not? I haven’t been there since I was Five.

So, my resolutions. Ask someone out. I know how that’ll end up. Start playing the fiddle again (which I quit when my mom was hospitalized). Lose some weight (which I gained back when I realized the only one who saw all the gains and the actual abdominal definition was my doctor). And, realistically, call my insurance back and figure out what the password to my account is without getting horribly irate at the telephone robot maze that they have. I mean, seriously, when I had the option to talk to “mental health resources” I almost selected that to ask why I was so goddamn incensed that I had to go through all the voice prompts just to find out that the real human operators were gone for the night just twenty minutes before I decided to call?

I should come up with some more interesting and realistic choices. Blogging more often so both of you can read my ramblings. You know who you are. Blogging about technical stuff so when someone else googles for questions they can come up with the answers that took me hours to find (if google even finds my stuff, they just seem like it’s all paid ads just like Facebook). Or maybe I should start gardening or something, just to get the hell out of my room.

Well, I suppose that’s it. I never did find out what the fox says and it’s another year. Happy (arbitrary demarcation of a) New Year and it’s time to start anew.