I Want To Tell you A Story

On Thursday I went to NYC to a Story Slam put on by The Moth.

I went because I wanted to, and because I normally wouldn’t have. I’m not really an adventurous guy. And I’m definitely not  a guy who goes to new places and does new things alone. So in the past I’d see something like this and think, gee that would be cool, and then never go. But just lately I’ve been trying to do some things that are outside my comfort zone. This was one.

And The Moth is fucking awesome! They do a podcast, story slams like this, and a large showcase style shows where people tell stories. They are just stories from life, mostly told by just everyday folks. I’ve been listening to the podcasts and the stories they post on the website voraciously for weeks. I even sent a submission of a story. So the story slam is run much like a poetry slam (I think, having never been to a poetry slam). Each night there is a theme that your story has to touch on in some way. “Skin” was that night’s topic. You put your name in the hat to tell your story, 10 names are picked, and the stories are judged by a randomly picked group of people from the audience. I was actually going to put my name in the hat but I was nearly the last person let in and I really didn’t know how things worked and I was a big chicken-shit, so that didn’t happen. But considering that throughout the day I had to convince myself to go about a dozen times I’m still happy with the outcome.

The stories were great. Even the ones I didn’t like were great because they were just people telling their story in front of hundreds of strangers. They told about things and people in their lives that meant something to them. Some of them were really polished, some of them half drunk and scared shitless, and most of them contained a few laughs. But I really loved it. So I’ll be going back. Next time I’ll get one of the presale tickets so I don’t have to stand for two and a half hours (that’s how you know when a fat man loves something, he’s willing to stand for it). And this time I’m going to put my name in.

One Customer Retained

Last week Mia had a small fender bender. No injuries, but the rear passenger side lights are wrecked ans there’s some damage to the fender and quarter panel. Not really a terribly big deal. Never the less, I was in a cold sweat anticipating what was to come.

Insurance companies and their evil minions.

And so, I undertook the treacherous journey. I called the insurance company to start a claim. My hands shook with trepidation and my voice nearly cracked with sheer horror when I reached a human being to talk to. Then something–miraculous–happened.

I found myself dealing with real people who tried to do their best to help me and were all competent and through and efficient! YES! OH GOD YES! YES YES YES YESYESYESYESYES YEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSssssssss..

Wha-? Oh, um blog post, right. Sorry.

Yeah, so I was completely shocked that not just my adjuster, but the rep in the call center that I initially called were both really excellent. They took my info, had the info I needed on hand, anticipated most of my questions and had useful answers, and got answers for those questions they didn’t already know. It was really ready to be stuck in insurance hell for at least 2 weeks. but by the end the day I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen. And as it happened, I was kept updated by my adjuster.

Less than a week later I had checks in hand for the entire amount of damage. And that included getting a check cut from my insurance co. even though Mia was 100% not at fault (as shown in the police report). There is some statute in NJ that limits liability of municipal vehicles, which is what hit Mia. So their ins. only had to pay the amount of the deductible and my ins. payed the rest.

The point is that they did so without dragging me through 80 miles of shit to get it. And I thanks them for that.

I have the name of my adjuster and I’ve sent an email in asking for an adress I can send a letter of commendation. I’d really like to see that she gets recognition for a job well done.

In case anyone is interested, the company is First Trenton Indemnity, also called Travelers of New Jersey.

Damned Hybrids

I hate when a hybrid owner drives like an asshole. I mean, I hate it even more than when it’s just your average asshole. Not because they are worse than other assholes, but because they aren’t.

I take great pleasure in the righteous indignation and rage that I feel when someone does something stupid on the road. I take even greater pleasure in expressing it loudly and colorfully with hand signals as appropriate. So today when some ass cut me off and then proceeded to slow to a crawl, I filled my lungs in anticipation of cursing a blue streak. Then I noticed the distinct shape and knew I was dealing with a Prius hybrid.

The problem is that by driving a hybrid, that person has demonstrated a minimum of human decency. In fact, they at that moment, on the open road, that person is a demonstrably better person than I am, aside from the observed asshole behavior. They are actively doing something to try and minimize damage to the environment, and I’m not. So when they then go and do something so obviously full of ass as cut me off then slow down, I’m thrown into a quandary. By demonstrating that minimum human decency it makes me think twice about condemning them to a fiery hell where they will suffer the eternal torment of having their face rubbed off with medium grade sandpaper and be taunted by small demons disguised as children speaking in a language so maddeningly close to their native tongue that they think they should know what is being said but don’t.

But really, is it so difficult to follow the basic rules of safety and courtesy on the road?  How hard is it maintain a steady speed +/- 1 MPH? Or to avoid asinine lane change that do nothing but give a one momentary advantage of one car length?

(Let me turn aside here and say that, No, I do not ask that driver maintain a +/- 1 MPH steady speed. I know that that sort of margin is not really possible. I even recognize that we are all fallible beings and that sometimes you just space out and go really slow for a bit. I don’t expect perfection, not by a long shot. I do expect you to at least try to drive in a manner that is minimally acceptable. It does not require superhuman concentration to occupy only one lane at a time. It does not require the patience of a saint to refrain from making 13 lane changes between lights. Hell, I’m not that bright and I manage to not pull out in front of cars going 60 MPH when I know that I don’t have enough room to accelerate. So yeah I get it, people make mistakes. I’m not taking about that. I’m talking about jackassery.)

I decided to curse that Prius owner anyway. I feel a good fellow like that, acting in enlightened self interest, trying to do the responsible thing and protect the environment would probably want to be cursed out after the things he did on the road. I know I would.

The Stickfigure I’d Like To Be

… but am not.

http://xkcd.com/137/

Arthur C. Clarke

Better writers than me will do him more justice than I can. I’ll just say that he was a giant. A god damned giant.

Howard Rheingold: Professional Cool Person

I’ve been using the net since ’92. That’s longer than most people, but far from extraordinary. But in all that time I’ve never much cared about the culture of the net, except in as much as I was a part of it. I never read any of the studies about it or books on the subject.

It’s a shame I didn’t, because I might have learned about Howard Rheingold earlier. I knew of him, I even read the SmartMobs blog for a while. But I never read anything about the man. And I’ve never read any of this books. I’ve taken steps to remedy that. But a quick look on amazon doesn’t show any biographies of him. If anyone knows of one, let me know in the comments.

As for what makes him cool, well, he seems like a Charles Stross or Cory Doctorow character. He sees further and faster than the rest of us. He wrote about virtual communities in ’93 when most people had only heard of the net, not used it. And his life appears to be scattered with stuff that I could only dream about, like working at Xerox PARC and editing the Whole Earth Review.

His latest effort is a vlog updating A Slice of Life in My Virtual Community, the article he wrote in ’88 and first updated in ’92. He’s decided it’s time to update once again, and this time use all the available media, hence the vlog. It’s a series of short videos titled A Re(slice) of Life Online.

Now I’m off to read the original article.

Sarcasm Overload

We live in a very sarcastic world. I mostly like it that way, to be honest.

But there does come a time when it can mess me up. Like when I really, honestly do want to know where you got that quote from. Or no, I haven’t ever heard of that particular factoid and I actually would find it fascinating, so please tell me already! You can still ask questions like that, but you have to add an unwieldy preamble: “I went looking for that quote you mentioned and couldn’t find it on my own which is why I’m asking you about it so I hope you don’t think I’m being a smartass when I ask where you got it from and I want you to know that I don’t think you made it up or anything I just want to read it and the source material because I think, no really, I do think, it might be interesting, okay?”

Of course, you don’t actually have to add that preamble, but I do find myself wanting to, just to insure there’s no confusion about my intentions.  Which is a waste of my time.

I’ve decided to assume non-sarcasm on the part of others and will assume they grant me the same leeway. This isn’t exactly a genius level realization here, I know. But I think it will reduce my self-inflicted angst level a little bit.

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