Get Your Free Goodie Box here

Press 1 for Pig Latin by Robert S. Swiatek - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

Press 1 for Pig Latin
ROBERT S. SWIATEK

00001.jpgSwiatek Press Copyright 2008, Robert S. Swiatek. All Rights Reserved
First Edition

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

Published by Swiatek Press, Inc. 71 Georgian Lane #3 Buffalo, NY 14221

ISBN: 0-9817843-2-1
Printed in the United States

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED to the people whose lives have been made weary because of the wonders of technology also by Robert S. Swiatek

The Read My Lips Cookbook: A Culinary Journey of Memorable Meals
Don’t Bet On It
– a novel
Tick Tock, Don’t Stop: A Manual for Workaholics
for seeing eye dogs only
This Page Intentionally Left Blank – Just Like the Paychecks of the Workers
I Don’t Want to be a Pirate – Writer, maybe
wake up – it’s time for your sleeping pill
Take Back the Earth – The Dumb, Greedy Incompetents Have Trashed It

Table of contents

Introduction i
1. A week of technological troubles 1
2. He’s a regifter 11
3. Does your television have a spin cycle? 21
4. Take me for a ride in your truck, Mac 47
5. Press 8 to surrender 61
6. Time for an upgrade 69
7. I’m stuck in the web and I can’t get out 87
8. Meet serious singles 103
9. Better living through chemistry 109
10. BCCI means Bilk the Citizens 115
of Cash and Interest
11. You just need an appendix transplant 135
12. Get a free gift 145
13. Just do a restart 161
14. We’ll create a job for you 175
15. Work smart to make things better 181
References and recommendations 197
Introduction

I really am not fond of terrorists. Soon after September 11, 2001, when our president mentioned that the citizens were either with the gub’ment or against, I assumed he meant that either we were fans of those nasty people mentioned in the first sentence or not. My feeling is really personal, as those suicide bombers have made my life more difficult by creating more work for me.

Before that tragic event, I could mail a book or two from my condo with no questions asked. The time involved might be about ten or fifteen minutes. Now when I send two or more books, I need to go to the post office because of the Patriot Act since the package weighs thirteen ounces or more. Apparently a bomb can’t be made that weighs less than that. This means a half-hour of my time or more is needed now. It gets more ludicrous. My mailman mentioned to me that were the package to result in fireworks on the plane, the post office couldn’t trace the cause if it wasn’t first brought to one of their buildings. If you figure out that logic, let me know.

It gets even more bizarre. On a trial basis – one year, that is – I am renting a mail station from Pitney Bowes. By doing that, I can now send packages weighing a pound or more from my residence, without being held back because of the possibility of explosives in the package. I don’t have to drive to the post office. Apparently those who fly planes without being able or caring to land them are not allowed to use these gadgets of metered mailing.

i

On the weekend before the middle of the month in April of 2008, I modified the home page of my web site and loaded it to the Internet. I viewed it and everything seemed in order, including the counter for hits. The next Monday when I checked the site, I noticed that the counter was on strike – that is, it vanished for some reason. I went and loaded what I thought was another reliable one, made the needed modifications and it appeared that all was right with the new web counter, which displayed, “5801.” The next day when I checked the site, the counter hadn’t changed. Is it even worth the effort to have these accounting gizmos? I did check a few days after that and the counter had increased, so perhaps the counter needed a boost that took a day or so.

Like just about everyone reading this, I have a PC – if you read my other books, you know what I think those two letters represent. I have a spreadsheet of addresses that I use in conjunction with a Word file to produce address labels. I “simply” go to the address file and place a “!” in column G of the spreadsheet for the names and addresses I want on the labels and then close the file. Then I open the Word file – one I have already created for the spreadsheet – and click on Tools on the top row and from there, press Mail Merge. I then get another small screen on which I press Merge. After that, I get another screen and I then press Merge. Finally, I see the labels and if they are what I want, I can print them. As you may have guessed, I did a mail merge. You also see why the word, simply was in quotes above.

When I want to sign off my PC, I have to press Start. Then I press Turn Off Computer. I then
ii

get another screen and have to press Turn Off. Now you know why so many people are turned off by computers, instead of the other way around. If you still love technology, especially relating to PCs and the Internet, let me mention a few of the features with which you should be familiar: passwords, just do a restart, system is not responding, system processing, file not found and give up? That last one I haven’t seen yet, but it should be featured soon. It’s probably coming with the next version of the software.

Today, automobiles are so much safer than they were in decades past. There are more airbags and stronger material in the body to preserve the occupants. At the same time, because of these advances, an accident may result in death or a more complicated injury since rescuers can’t extricate victims of a car crash in the way it was done before.

I bought a new Subaru in 2005, having had good experiences with that product on two other occasions. About a few weeks later, I heard a car horn sounding and discovered it was accompanied by blinking of the parking lights as well, and that this greeting came from my car. This happened too many times, so I took the car to the dealer, who replaced the alarm system. Things improved, but there were still a few recurrences of these unwanted symphonies – I prefer the music from my CD player, which on occasion has behaved badly. The difficulty was finally gone in 2007, when I bought a Prius.

Someone said that many times you trade one problem for another and unfortunately I found that out with the Toyota vehicle. When I put the car into reverse, I hear a truly annoying sound of warning

iii

and see a camera-dependent screen on my dash with a view of what’s behind me. This is so I don’t back into another vehicle or some building. One day while I was backing up, the screen indicated I had plenty of room ahead of the car behind, so I kept going and ran into the vehicle. I left the scene quickly so as not to have my insurance premiums increase. Obviously, I’m kidding, but I would have made contact with that automobile and I’d have to pay for my bad judgment had I relied on that camera.

Printed on my passenger-side mirror are those wretched words, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” – a possible book title for one of my books – and it seems that they apply to that other view that you shouldn’t bother with. Unfortunately you can’t turn either the sound or picture off, something you can do with your TV.

I own a Sony television with a remote that has too many buttons. One of them is for muting. It can really come in handy on occasion, but I don’t use it that often. Most of the time I press other buttons, such as the volume control or channel selector. On more occasions than I prefer, I depress a button that is far away from the mute thing and the sound goes off. You might ask why I don’t return the remote for another, but it’s past the warranty – in years, not months. That usually happens with guarantees, with the rule being that once it expires, the product will break down or fail. There should never have been such a problem with the remote anyway. It’s too bad we can’t use this remote on politicians, lawyers, realtors or businessmen.

If your video recorder – if you still have one – is a relatively recent model, you know that the technology inside is sophisticated enough so that when our clocks need to be changed in April and October, you need do nothing. With older machines, you had to make two adjustments, but then you were relieved of doing that. However, in 2008 things got messed up with two simple changes having to do with when the clocks change. That year, I had to adjust the VCR four times so there’d be agreement with the time displayed on my VCR and the actual time.

If you own a DVD player, you know that it may not play all DVDs. The remote for my DVD player wasn’t the easiest to figure out relative to subtitles. Usually you get the captions by doing it through the DVD, but you may need to get them through the player or even a combination of the two. When you think about it, the idea of subtitles is not that big a deal. They’re either on or off and then you need to make a choice about the language, which probably will be English. It shouldn’t be a hassle or require a linguistics degree in order to see a movie that has people speaking in French with their words underneath in English. I’ll talk more about a feature of our language in another chapter.

I have devoted an entire chapter to what has been referred to as a vast wasteland: the world of TV. If you feel that that device is so phenomenal, I can only offer these words: reality TV, news entertainment, Jerry Springer, Survivor, “we provide the news, you decide,” balance, Judge Judy and all her associates, The Shopping Network, infomercials, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, overanalyzed sporting events with all the accompanying hype and those atrocious commercials, even on cable.

v

Corporations have chosen to install automated phone systems (APS) instead of having someone answer the phone. I don’t think they want to be contacted. On one occasion, I called a number and heard the message, “The person who you are trying to reach is not available,” followed by the dial tone. Wouldn’t it cost the company less to simply have the phone ring since the caller would get the same information? What I just described wasn’t common in the past, but seems to be usual today. On too many occasions, you will be put through one menu followed by another and most likely all the choices will not apply in your case. Still, you could eventually get to what seems like the last menu and hear the message, “Thanks for contacting us,” followed by the realization that you’ll have to try again.

You may be blessed and actually speak to a humanoid, but you could also be put on hold and hear, “Your call is important to us.” You won’t hear these words, “But not that important,” but you’ll probably hear some music by Kenny G. APS seem to have succeeded because rarely is the desired contact made and so many people complain about what really is a complicated semi-answering system. In many cases it appears as though all you will get is neither information nor any chance to speak to anyone. If things couldn’t get any worse, we now are blessed with technology that tries to converse with you and then go to a menu based on your response. Perhaps that acronym mentioned stands for Agitated People Screaming.

The phone of today has really advanced – I believe that’s the wrong word entirely – since talking to others is worse than ever despite all the technology, including email. I’ll get into that hemorrhoid later. My editor inquired what the purpose of text messaging was, and I couldn’t answer. You could ask someone in the know, but I believe my response is more accurate. You may have seen the Seinfeld episode where Jerry, in his monologue, discusses calling someone to talk to the machine. In effect people want to leave a message and not converse with the owner of the hardware, not unlike text messaging. As I said before, communication has not progressed accordingly.

These are merely a few examples of how technology has failed and throughout this book I will describe many more. Not long ago a friend and I were discussing what were the four worse inventions of all time. We came up with the television, personal computer, phone and automobile, in no significant order. Obviously, each of these has done more harm than good to the earth but they have had positive effects on society. You might say that somewhere along the way to great potential, screw-ups occurred, big time. There is one innovation that we overlooked: gunpowder and all its derivatives. It does have a good use, since it can put food on the table – even if a bit gamey – but this is the ultimate worst creation of all time and little good resulted from its introduction. I won’t spend more time here since I have discussed it in great detail in Take Back the Earth.

Press 1 for Pig Latin will cover each of these four additions to our society and a few others. This treatise will also indicate why the industrial revolution turned out to be a revolting development for too many people. You won’t have to travel far to hear your family and friends complaining about

vii

their PC. Email and automated phone systems should be accompanied by PCs to the trash heap and all our lives would improve greatly. This book will discuss the technology’s failures but will also indicate what can be done to remedy the situation since technology in general has made our lives better. We can’t ignore recent advances as well as the fact that there are so many great possibilities. It may be broken, but we need to fix it. With each passing day, the situation only gets worse – for everyone. I hear stories about problems daily from too many people. Fasten your seat belt. Things will get worse before they get better.

viii
1. A week of technological troubles

In just a short period of time one can see numerous failures of technology. During a period of about seven days, I was bombarded with more than I could bear, but needless to say, I got over it. Before describing these events, let me remind you that we wouldn’t have all the advances we have today without people getting involved. This means that not only do people come up with an idea, but also human beings contribute to mess up what should be to our advantage.

I belong to St. Joseph’s University Parish in Buffalo. At the church from June to October or so, I am blessed with a bag of vegetables from Porter Farms, which is about forty miles from where I live. Whatever they harvest, they give us for less than three hundred dollars for the entire season. That’s a bargain considering that the food is grown organically and above all, it’s local so the goods don’t have to be shipped across the country, saving the planet.

Nonetheless, someone has to drive and procure the produce – but people take turns. One Friday, my friend Jerry phoned me and asked if I wouldn’t mind picking up the vegetables. She was having a difficult time contacting the person who signed up to do that, since the latter’s phone was disconnected. She mentioned that she would try to contact her again, and if I had to go, she would call sometime the next morning between nine and eleven.

It was about 10:40 the next day and I thought I was off the hook, but then the phone rang. I agreed to hop in my car and head out to Elba, the site of the farm. When I got there, all the vegetables for pickup were gone. I did get some extra lettuce and squash, and as I was exiting the farm via the rutted driveway, another car approached. It turned out to be some of the help and they asked if I was Bob and then apologized since the woman had made the trip after all. They gave me a handful of cucumbers freshly picked and I could have had some onions and beets besides, but I told the women that they wouldn’t have to bother since what they gave me was fine.

The problem turned out to be a huge communication failure, but what more could have been done? Had the woman picked up the stuff earlier than she did, I wouldn’t have had to make the journey, since Jerry was in communication with the farm. An email may have helped unless the woman didn’t read them or had no Internet access. There’s no excuse for the phone being out of service, but maybe that was the fault of the phone company. The only saving grace is the fact that my Prius – just purchased in April 2007 – gets about fifty miles to the gallon so I used less than two gallons of gas and I did get some extra produce.

Karrin Allyson performed at the Albright- Knox Art Gallery in 2007 and I emailed a few samples of her music to my sister Pat to entice her to attend the concert. I also sent it to myself to make sure the files could be opened and she could hear the songs. I had no difficulty doing that but my sister had problems because of copywronging. I thought of a few solutions around the problem and emailed my sister with these options but she was too busy to try to retrieve the songs again. Eventually I made her a CD with a few songs by Karrin as well as some other selections, mostly by female artists. She didn’t make the event, which featured a wonderful singer, who also played piano, accompanied by three very talented musicians on drums, bass and guitar. Pat liked the singing of Karrin Allyson as well as the rest of the music on the CD I gave her.

Unfortunately, too often we get emails with attachments that can’t be opened for a variety of reasons. What happened in this case is inexcusable since there is technology to send data and music, but it doesn’t always work. All the time I spent working around the problem meant I omitted doing something else, even if it was insignificant. The process of getting results in this manner can be referred to as a “workaround.” This could mean that something works ninety percent of the time. In my judgment, that means it doesn’t work. So instead of fixing a problem, you patch it. You know what happens when patches fall off – you need to apply more. In the future, you may wind up working around the clock because you took this approach today. Getting back to the emailing of Karrin’s music, it would have saved me a great deal of time and effort had I just made the CD in the first place.

I mentioned my hybrid and I even added a page about it on my web site. You can add your comments by emailing me after clicking on “The Prius Report.” I will be updating the page from time to time. The same day of the aforementioned concert, I had a Prius experience. To really get into what happened, you will need some insight into one complicated aspect of the car: opening the doors.

There is no key to the vehicle. Well, there is a tiny spare key, in case all else fails. Instead, the owner has a rectangular device that enables the driver to enter the car after getting close to it. This applies to the driver’s door but the hatchback also simultaneously unlocks. That’s quite convenient – as you can guess – but to open the three passenger doors, you have to click on unlock twice on the gizmo. That was my first impression because that’s what I did on many occasions. However, on the day of the concert, all the doors were unlocked for me and my friends just by all of us getting near the Prius.

Hence, I really didn’t need to click to get the other doors open, not even once. But then, why couldn’t I open the passenger door on so many occasions just by approaching it? I was puzzled but then I realized that I was dealing with technology and I shouldn’t lose any sleep over the dilemma. In reality, there was a glitch. Fortunately, I can report it to Toyota and in the next model year, it can be remedied. Actually, why not remove the unlock button from the device completely, but leave the lock button. After all, the improved car will result in all doors being unlocked by having someone with that box in his pocket. Of course, to lock all the doors, one click of the lock button is called for. You can read more about these technological advances and my feelings toward my vehicle on my web site.

Returning to the telephone problem at the beginning of this chapter, I had two more encounters with similar difficulties. I decided to cook dinner for a few friends so I sent a few email invitations – I think Emily Post would approve – but decided to follow them up with phone calls. This was in case people didn’t get the emails – that does happen. Making one call resulted in my hearing the message, “Please dial an area code before the number,” or something to that effect. The only problem was that this was a local call. I couldn’t have yelled out the window to the invitees, but they didn’t live that far away and I knew it wasn’t a long distance call. I dialed the number again, figuring maybe my fingers messed up. Sometimes when I wash them, I can’t do a thing with them. The result was the same, even after a third try so I knew it wasn’t me. For some reason, I did finally get through later and left a message. Obviously, it was a technological glitch of some sort.

The second phone scenario probably shouldn’t be blamed on those service providers but on the health-could-care-less industry. One day before a scheduled routine visit, the doctor’s office contacted me and asked for a referral. However, my provider doesn’t require one – they are doing something right. I had been to this office before without referrals so I mentioned this but the caller insisted that I had to have one. After a short period, I got an apology and the person said that I was right. In August 2007, I had more health care encounters and I may write a book on some of those problems, since we all could use a few laughs. In early 2008, I received a referral in the mail – I thought they weren’t necessary. Shouldn’t it be sent to the physician and not me?

I have mentioned in passing the thought that all emails don’t get delivered and further confirmation of this came in a friend’s email. He mentioned trying to email me but getting a message saying that couldn’t be done for some reason. At the time, I had no disruption in my email setup. He was worried about me so he sent another email, which I received. When I responded, he didn’t get my email. I was going to resend my original email except I couldn’t find it in my sent folder. Obviously, at least two emails – most likely a great deal more – never got sent or maybe weren’t received and you may not even be notified of the failure. I think we straightened our problem out, but you never know.

With Internet problems, sometimes I wonder why I even consider paying bills electronically. I do it anyway because it saves paperwork and subsequently the planet. In the middle of August 2007, I converted all my mother’s bills – cable, heating, electric and phone – to online payments. Before that, I did my own to some extent and one day I decided to do the same thing with my electric bill. I logged onto the National Grid web site and as is to be expected, I had to set up an account. I did that and was ready to make a payment, but when I clicked on “pay bill,” I got the message, “Invalid option.” Instead of wasting time – which you will soon see that I did anyway – I called the 800 number of the company and was told that it would take twenty-four hours for the account to be set up. This was in spite of the fact that I saw the words, “account set up.”

I logged on the same site the next day, not without difficulty – for some reason I think I actually had two logon IDs – and once more tried to pay the bill. The result was different from the day before, but still a problem so I called the help desk. They mentioned that it would take a month to set up the account. I hung up the phone and did what I should have done originally. I wrote the check and sent the payment. Actually, what I had done was all right since I was able to pay the next bill on line, and all bills after that are deducted automatically each month.

After talking about the telephone and email, I need to mention another difficulty, with the U. S. mail. This screw-up is a combination of mishaps. I wrote two letters to literary agencies in an attempt to get an agent. Where I live, the tenants can leave their outgoing mail for pickup in the same area where deliveries arrive of mail too large to fit in the mailboxes. I deposited the envelopes but around lunchtime, they were still there to be mailed. Since my day’s mail was there, I could only conclude that someone didn’t quite do his job. I brought them back inside, figuring I would put them out the next day. You might figure that with another twenty-four hours, the problem would be solved and my letters would be on their way to their destination. Instead, things got worse.

I headed out the door at seven in the morning and put out the letters. When I returned an hour or so later, they were gone. Unfortunately the mail doesn’t arrive until at least eleven o’clock. So then, where did they go? Maybe one of my neighbors was heading to the post office and took them. That wasn’t likely. Perhaps one of the tenants thought it was their mail and took it inside. The only reason I say that is because I had witnessed just that scenario in the past. In that case, the correspondence was returned so that the recipient received it after all. There was another possibility – I will never know what really happened – namely, someone took the envelopes inside and thought they were junk mail and tossed them into the garbage. Somehow, I couldn’t rule out that possibility.

This mess would have been avoided had I taken the letters to the mailbox less that a half-mile from my house on my way to the trail, where I walk, or had the mailman simply picked it up the day before. Neither of those happened, so a week later I sent another copy of each letter. That very day, I got a letter of rejection from one of the agencies. About a week later I heard from the agency again with the very same form letter.

I didn’t mention that on that second disastrous day, I left the house again around 11:30 and the letters weren’t there although a card from one of my neighbors was there to be mailed. This led me to believe at first that the envelopes were trashed, but obviously that wasn’t the case since I got that rejection letter. I have a theory to what may have transpired. Someone picked up the envelopes and may even have opened one, realizing it was outgoing mail. He or she didn’t return it after taping it right away but did so after I left just before noon.

I conclude the chapter with a realization that I haven’t chronicled any technological television troubles. Perhaps I merely forgot, or there weren’t any in my home because I keep the monster off much of the time. However, I will mention a few things that I’ve run into that you probably have experienced as well.

From the listing in the TV topics, I saw that the movie eXistenZ was to be shown and decided to do the VCR thing. I usually add a few minutes before the beginning and after the end of the scheduled time for the program, but I should have been more liberal. When I sat down to watch the flick, it was almost at the end when I saw the dreaded blue screen, meaning the movie was a bit longer than the usual two hours, including commercials. Fortunately, I picked up the video from the library so I did see the conclusion.

The same scene plays out when a program that you want to record follows a sporting event, especially during football season. You need to allow for a messed up schedule on Sunday night after the game, which offsets the movie in some way. The best way to get around the problem is to use the same start time but add an hour at the end. Of course, if the Bears-Vikings encounter goes into overtime, the program may be pre-empted entirely. Isn’t technology wonderful?
2. He’s a re-gifter

If you are not a fan of Seinfeld, you will have no clue to the significance of this title. On one of the programs, Elaine got a label maker from a friend who apparently got it as a gift from someone else, and hence the accusation and title above. This chapter won’t be concerned with passing gifts on that you don’t care for, but about labels. Let me elaborate. The business world, which dispenses technology, uses language to baffle the rest of us. At the same time, they wind up confusing the help as well. You can really complicate matters by adding a computer. That department – now known as information technology (IT), and who knows what it will be called tomorrow – has its own lingo. With all these corporate efforts, it’s a wonder anything ever gets accomplished today.

What the world needs now – besides love – is simplicity. Speak in English and by all means, get rid of all those labels. People rely on them and everywhere you look, they are tossed about and it seems they can’t be avoided. There really is no place for them. I wrote a novel a few ye