Relief

President Obama announced yesterday that “For the first time in modern history, Americans need not worry any longer about  foreign debt.”  Further clarifying that he had “entered into a deal which would eliminate America’s foreign debt” and “strengthen our relationships in the international community.”

When President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) on March 23, 2010, many critics worried that such extensive revision of current healthcare law would be costly.  Pundits argued that  despite claims that PPACA would pay for itself, it would in fact increase the government’s reliance on international debt, and hinder the flagging economic recovery.

According to Obama’s remarks in a White House news conference held yesterday, however, there is nothing to worry about.

The President was initially reluctant to release details regarding the nature of the deal, and avoided giving specifics on how it would provide  relief to the millions suffering in the American debt crisis.

When pressed for clarification on the issue, he further elaborated, “I have received a confidential electronic communication from a certain member of the former royal family of Nigeria.  He has assured me in the strictest of confidences that he has more than enough funds to help with our current economic recovery.   The only problem,” the President continued, “is that the money is held in the central bank of Nigeria.”

Obama further elaborated that by “simply providing access to U.S. Treasury accounts, American will be able to not only assist and uplift a influential international figure, but receive a portion of the funds as we provide a safe harbor for the money away out of Nigeria.”

When questioned about the dangers of giving account information to foreign nationals, Obama responded with claims that he has been assured by the Prince that the transaction is “100% safe” but that he could not go into more detail because the project was “utterly confidential” and “top secret.”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, White House insiders who have viewed the email claim that it “appears legit” and that the President was happy to have received the communication.  One insider noted that “this could be a boon to the President in the coming election.”


Victory is Mine!

Do you really hate getting unsolicited advertisements over text?  I do.  So after a local company texted me twice in three days, I decided to do something about it.  Here is the email that I sent to the customer care email address for each of the three companies.  Background information: the Pass of All Passes, is a season pass that allows you go to to the local water park (Seven Peaks) and mini-golf/arcade center (Trafalga).  I had never heard of Fizook before May 21.

Seven Peaks, Trafalga and Fizook Deals,

When I signed up for the “pass of all passes” I was required to give my personal information.  I was not told, or made aware in any way shape or form, that I would be receiving text messages to my personal cell phone.  I do not have unlimited texting and I am charged $0.20 for each text you send to my phone.  http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/messaging-internet/messaging/faq.jsp

The first text was sent at 11:11 AM on Saturday, May 21 and had the message:

Trafalga Pass of All Pass Holders- Special VIP Offer, $10 Bucks Gets You An Appetizer, Combo Meal & A $10 Playcard.  Learn More/Buy It Now @ www.fizookdeals.com

The second message was send at 4:29 Monday, May 23 and contained the following:

Trafalga Customers Last Chance For- Special VIP Offer $10 Bucks Gets You An Appetizer, Combo Meal & A $10 Playcard. Learn More/Buy It Now @ www.fizookdeals.com

I will be as clear as possible.  I do not want your texts.  Do not send me your unsolicited and unwanted text messages.  Remove all of my contact information from your systems.  I do not wish to receive text messages from either of your companies ever again.  If the world is burning down and you are the only people in the world with access to text messaging, do not text me.  If your very life depends on being able to text me, do not text me.  I do not care one bit about your deals, sales, or promotions.  In fact, this whole ordeal has ensured that I will never purchase anything from either of your two companies.

I consider this a gross abuse of my personal information.  What makes it worse is that this was done without my consent.  While writing this I ran across an interesting case.  Are you aware that Payless Shoes recently had a class action lawsuit filed against it for a similar practice? http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/10/30/Spam.pdf  The different between text advertising and other forms of advertisement is that I am directly forced to pay for your advertisement.

Here is a simple list of what I want.  I have tried to make this as absolutely simple as possible:

1) I want my name (Romgi the Enigma) and phone number (XXX-XXX-XXXX) removed from any and all advertising databases at Seven Peaks, Trafalga, and Fizook Deals

2) I do not want to ever receive a text message from either Seven Peaks, Trafalga or Fizook Deals in the future

3) I do not want to ever get a text message from any of the subsidiaries or affiliates of Seven Peaks, Trafalga, or Fizook Deals

If your reply to this email does not address and promise those three things, I will send an itemized bill for each of the text message I have received.  If I have not received a response to this email within 10 business days (Monday, June 6, 2011), I will consider this a refusal to respond and I will send an itemized bill for each of the text messages I have received.  If you refuse the pay the bill within 30 days, I will begin the process of filing a lawsuit to recover damages under 47 U.S.C. 227 titled “Restrictions on Use of Telephone Equipment” http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/47/5/II/I/227 .  Please note that this federal law prohibits unsolicited advertisements being sent to a person’s telephone.  Yes, I am talking about a total of $0.40 of damages, but I am tired of companies such as you costing me money.  I have had enough.

Best regards,

The Romgi

I sent that email today around 5:34 and I received a reply at 7:44.  I was a bit surprised to get such a quick response.  I was sure they would dilly-dally for days before getting back to me.

Romgi,

You have been removed from the Trafalga/Seven Peaks/Fizook Deals Databases.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

If for any reason you receive a text/email from fizook deals ever again in the future please contact me directly as this should not happen.

[Redacted]
Senior VP of Sales & Marketing

Apparently, the email went from “customer care” up the ranks to the VP quite quickly!  I will forever cherish this small victory.


In re Tom Morvolo Riddle

Mr. Neville Longbottom,

It has come to our attention that you are responsible for the willful and wanton destruction of the personal property of Tom Morvolo Riddle, alias Voldemort.  I am writing to you as the personal representative of the late Mr. Riddle’s estate.  This letter is to inform you that we demand fair and just compensation for the willful killing of Mr. Riddle’s service animal, Nagini the snake.

Testimony from witnesses indicates that late in the evening of May 2, 1998 you did draw the sword commonly atributed to Sir Godric Gryffindor.  Using this sword, you did, with knowledge of your actions and intent to destroy, cut the snake Nagini in two.  Nagini was killed instantly.

It is our assertion, that Mr. Riddle suffered from a disability, and that Nagini was  service animal specifically trained to ameliorate that disability.

Mr. Riddle suffered from a disability.  A disability is defined at law as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” of an individual.  Examples of applicable physical or mental impairments include, but are not limited to, “any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting . . . [the] respiratory” system.  Further more, the law states that any “emotional or mental illness” may constitute a disability.

It has been well documented that in the last several years of his life, Mr. Riddle lived with a severe deformity of the nose.  Witness reports indicate that it was “snakelike.” This would clearly classify as a physical deformity as defined by the law above.  Furthermore, Mr. Riddle was operating under the delusion that he could achieve immortality, which may be an indication  of an “emotional or mental illness” which affected one or more of his major life activities.

Nagini was a service animal.   A service animal means any “animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.”  An example of an applicable work or task includes but is not limited to “fetching dropped items.”   On several occasions, witnesses have testified that they have seen Nagini go to retrieve items for Mr. Riddle.  Such items include a possibly relevant prophesy located in the Ministry of Magic.  It is obvious that substantial training went into getting this sort of behavior.  We maintain that the snake was so trained because Mr. Riddle was unable to leave his residence due to his disability or disabilities.

A police report has been filed in conjunction with this letter.  We would be willing to discuss withdrawal of the complaint in exchange for a fair and reasonable settlement.  We look forward to hearing your settlement offer, and hope to put this act of violence in the past.

Sincerely,

Romgi T. Enigma, Solicitor

Black Malfoy Lestrange & Associates
65 Knockturn Alley
London
United Kingdom

Now remember that this post is just for fun.  Magical folk probably don’t abide by muggle laws either way.  Just to be clear, I am not an attorney, lawyer, barrister or solicitor.


Happy Day You CAKE!

Evan has heard the song “Happy Birthday” quite a few times this past week.  He not only got it as often as he wanted on his birthday (which was VERY often), but he also went to a birthday party.  You throw in that my father’s birthday party was not that long ago, and this is the result:

 


5 Worst Things I've Ever Heard at the Dentist's Office

I haven’t had a regular dentist since 2003.  That was when I left to serve as a missionary in South Korea.  Mostly, this was due to the fact that I was in school, and it is really hard to find a decent dentist out here in Provo.  It seems like there are about a million dentists in Provo all banking on the fact that some student will wander in and be willing to pay for whatever the dentist says needs to be done.  I am pretty sure I’ve gone through 4 dentists since 2003, each one doing a pretty horrible job.  I’ve decided to gather the worst things I’ve heard or experienced in the dentist’s office.

5. “Sometimes our estimates are off.”

I had gone to a dentist right after I returned home from my mission, and he did a lot of work on my teeth.  Two years without going to a dentist can kind of do that to you.  I told him to do any cavity, no matter how small it was, because I was about to go off of my parent’s insurance and wanted any problems to be nipped in the bud. I remember paying about $120 for  $700 worth of work.  About 1 year later, I get a call from a collection agency.  The dentist office had turned me over to a collection agency for $23.  It turns out the dentist had over-estimated what the insurance company would pay, and was coming after me for the $23.  Remember, this is $23 of a $700 bill that they DID get paid on.  What really made me angry was how nonchalant the office was about the whole thing.  They never tried to call me themselves.  They never sent me a letter saying I had a bill due.  I ended up paying, but not before going to their office and giving them a piece of my mind and letting them know I would never go to their office again.

4. “When we got busy just forget.”

This happened in 2003 right before I left on my mission.  I needed my wisdom teeth pulled, and some other minor dental work done.  As I was recovering, I noticed that my bite was WAY off.  I couldn’t even close my mouth all of the way.  Because the bite was way off I couldn’t really eat and I was getting a splitting headache.  I quickly made another appointment and it turned out that the dentist had over-filled my teeth that had cavities and forgotten to correct the bite.  I never went back to that office.

3. “See how much a juvenile patient can bleed?  Get me some more cotton.”

This one happened when I was about 12 or 13.  I’m not sure what the dentist poked me with because I was so numb, but I remember that he was training a new dental assistant.  She kept grabbing more and more of those little cotton rolls and stuffing them into my mouth.  To this day, I am forced to wonder if he did it on purpose just to show me how much a “juvenile patient can bleed.”

2. “Good thing he’s already numbed up.”

This was from the same office that didn’t said they were too busy to correct my bite.  I would just like to point out that just because you are numb and can’t feel the pain of the the dental tools hitting your gum does not mean that you can’t taste the blood.  Gross.  Really gross.

1. “Well, I hope that was the right tooth.”

This one was the most recent (I’m looking at you Cougar Dental).  I had gone in not knowing whether it was going to be a root canal or just a deep filling, and after the dentist started drilling he said this.  Fortunately, it WAS the right tooth.


6 Awesome Business Ideas

I don’t want you guys to think I’m all doom and gloom (well, not all the time).  When I’m not thinking about how the world is going to end, I sometimes think of awesome business ideas.  Most of them are restaurants.  I don’t know why that is.

6. Hunter-Gatherer

Get back here!

The Idea:

This restaurant would have a focus on high-quality local ingredients.  The restaurant would serve foods that are not only grown locally, but hopefully foods which grow naturally.  I would be willing to pay top dollar for local hunters to send a portion of their kill my way.  Imagine sitting down for a nice meal of elk, venison, or buffalo.  I would also hope to find a local expert on edible foods.  Wouldn’t you like to sip some nice warm rose and juniper tea?  Perhaps a bit of wild raspberry crumble on bread with some local honey?  It wouldn’t be for everybody, but I think this one has promise.

The Problem:

There is a reason that the vast majority of people buy stuff from grocery stores instead of foraging in the wilderness.  With such an emphasis on wild, local produce, it may be hard to keep up a steady supply to keep a restaurant going.

5. Fancy Malt Shop

The Idea:

We all know the basic premise of a 1950s malt shop:  You go there with “the gang” to get burgers and ice cream.  Hijinks ensue as a laugh track plays in the background.  This place takes the same basic idea and turns it up a notch (and takes away the laugh track).  You would be able to order kobe beef burgers for dinner and homemade hazelnut ice cream.  Where the focus of Hunter-Gatherer is on getting quality local ingredients, the focus here is on taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary through expert presentation and quality ingredients from around the world.

The Problem:

The biggest problem would be keeping the menu fresh and modern while adhering to the traditional idea of a malt shop.

4. Custom Burgers

The Idea:

With a million other burger joints out there, how does this one stand out?  Well, at Custom Burgers you get to build your burger from the ground up.  Don’t you ever get annoyed by the fact that burger places will charge you 50 cents to add cheese or bacon, but then they won’t credit you back that amount if you ask for the same thing removed?  Custom Burgers fixes that problem by letting people pick the bun, meat and toppings that go on their burger.  There would have to be a large variety of meats, cheeses and toppings to really make it worth it.  You want an ostrich burger on rye with kimchi?  Go for it!

The Problem:

Inventory!  With so many options, chances are that you will need a substantial inventory to make sure you have everything in stock at all times.

3. Surf and Turf

The Idea:

The general concept of the surf and turf is that you get the best of the surf and the best of turf.  I’m often surprised that this is rarely taken beyond the idea of lobster and steak served together.  Surf and Turf would have an international and regional focus.  In addition to the traditional steak and lobster, I would encourage a middle-America surf and turf with buffalo steak and trout.  How about a Japanese surf and turf with lobster tempura and teriyaki-marinated steak?  What about a Hawaiian surf and turf with braised pork and pan seared ahi tuna?

The Problem:

Finding a chef that is well versed in all of the world’s cuisines may be a bit of a challenge.

2. Ye Olde Grocer

The Idea:

I think that we have grown accustomed to wandering down the isles of the local mega-mart sorting through 500 types of cereal; sometimes less is more.  I would love to have a store that has the basics that are provided locally when possible.  Go to the store and pick up a jar of Mrs. Maple’s prized peaches.  Go and talk to the grocer. Get locally-produced treats and confections.  The focus here is community; I would like going to the store to be more of an experience.

The Problem:

People are accustomed to getting grapes at any time of the year and might not take too kindly to a grocery store that has a seasonal selection of groceries.

1. Hillery’s Chinchilleries

The Idea:

What is a “chinchillery”? A word I made up for a place where you raise chinchillas.   I’m not really sure why chinchillas exist.  Is it a rabbit?  A mouse? A hamster?  Wikipedia tells me that they are used for fur and kept as pets.  Common sense tells me they look like pikachu.  I want to mix their DNA with electric eels and sell them to overzealous Pokemon addicts.  If Jurassic Park scientists can mix dinosaur DNA with frog DNA, then chinchillas and electric eels should be a piece of cake.

The Problem:

None.  This is the best idea ever.

PS – I don’t often read web comics. But when I do, I read Basic Instructions.


5 Ridiculous Things I Secretly Plan For

I like to live the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”  When your mind is wandering what do you think about?  Sugarplums? Taxes?  The rule against perpetuities? Not me.  I assess the situation I am in and prepare for ridiculous scenarios.  If we’re ever in the same room, and I have that glazed look on my eyes, I’m probably planning for a:

5. Nuclear Attack

Don't worry, I've got this one.

I’m not sure why I think of this one so frequently.  Maybe I’ve watched too many of those 1960s era PSA’s.  Maybe I’ve just watched too many movies (I’m looking at you Dr. Strangelove).  Whatever the reason, it can’t hurt to be prepared, right?

Preparation:

Not really much you can do.  Always be aware of your surroundings.  You could always keep a pocket knife on you in case you are thrust into a survival situation.  Yeah, a pocket knife.

When it happens:

Look for what appears to be the sturdiest wall in the room I am in.  Don’t go near any windows because when they blow out, you could get severely damaged by the glass. Also don’t go near anything that could fall on you.  I estimate that 80% of my day is spent in close proximity to bookshelves that could, conceivably crush me, so yes, this is a valid concern.  At school, I would rather be in a classroom that in the library; the library has lots of windows and glass to injure you.  Also, books.  Lots of books.  The classrooms were built during the 70s, when people were thinking about “what if we get hit by a nuke.”  I am pretty sure they are safe.

Long term:

Obviously, there are concerns about the long-term health effects of radiation exposure.  I would pick a direction and start walking (or if possible driving).  The goal is to get as far away from the fallout as possible.  You don’t want to go to where the next bomb is going to go off, so some place remote and unpopulated is ideal.

4. High Speed Chase

In this car.

Let me add a small caveat.  When I think of this, I always assume that nobody will get hurt, and the roads are clear (and I won’t have an insurance rate spike).  I’m never sure what sort of situation would lead to a high speed chase, but I figured it is better to be ready than unprepared.

Preparation:

Simplest way to avoid a car chase?  Don’t make anybody angry.  That includes the police and the mafia.  If you live a lifestyle where this is not an option, then I suggest getting a small car with an excellent suspension and handling.  You’re going to be taking lots of turns at high speeds, remember?  You need something practical to get you around.  Also, watch lots of Top Gear (If you have any dignity you’ll just watch the British version).

When it happens:

The goal is to get to the freeway and not let your foot off the gas.  Granted, this type of driving tends to burn through the gas quickly, so have someplace in mind that you are going to.  On the run from the mafia?  go to the police station.  Deadly assassins? best to try and lose them before you go home.  Always keep in mind who is following you, always.

Long term:

You’re going to have to get a new car.  If they’ve been chasing you, they obviously know what kind of car you drive.  Change cars and lay low for a while.

3. Zombie Apocalypse

Barely registers as a threat

Much has been said about what to do in case of a zombie apocalypse, so I know this isn’t the most original entry.  But it never hurts to have a little something extra planned out.

Preparation:

I guess this all depends on the type of zombie we are talking about.  I don’t really believe in magic, so let’s assume this is a highly-contagious virus that changes people into zombie-like creatures.  Now that we have that established, I think the best preparation you can have is to stay in shape.  Zombies aren’t exactly known for their speed or agility, so the best defense is to be fast and nimble.  Keep a healthy supply of food and tools on hand.  Food keeps you strong, and tools can often double as weapons in a pinch.

When it happens:

Stay calm.  Don’t try to meet up with family or friends unless you are absolutely sure they have not been infected.  Yes, family is important, but do you really want NOBODY from your family to survive?  Also, despite what may seem to be a great idea, don’t go to the gun store.  Of all the places to try and get supplies, the gun store is probably the worst idea.  Don’t you think the owner is prepared (and willing) to defend his store?  Don’t go to the grocery store, there will be a lot of people there trying to get supplies.  Where there are lots of people, there are lots of germs.  The goal here isn’t to kill as many zombies as possible, it is survival.

Long term:

Head north; go slowly.  Zombies are not prized for their intelligence, and the further north you go, the colder it will get.  Get far enough north and the zombies will turn into meatsicles.  Of course, you will need winter clothes for you to survive, but zombies just wander around waiting for brains to come their way.  They will freeze as they wander around the frozen wasteland that is Canada.

2. Deserted Island Survival

Just hope the Dharma initiative didn't find this one.

Many islands that can reasonably be inhabited, are inhabited.  If you end up on an island with nobody else on it, be prepared for a rough ride.

Preparation:

Considering that the most likely reason you will end up on a deserted island is from surviving an ocean landing from an airplane, there isn’t much you can do to prepare in terms of equipment.  Know at least the basics of how to swim and dive underwater.  Know several decent knots and how to make a wooden spear.  Know how to make some simple traps couldn’t hurt either.

When it happens:

Let’s assume that you have survived the crash, and that you are now on the island.  You are probably exhausted from your swim, and want to curl up and take a nap.  Remember, without food or water to replenish you, this may be the most energy you have for a while.  After you catch your breath, it would probably be a good idea to circle your island to see if there are any fresh water sources that run to the sea.  Keep a lookout for food sources that are easily accessible and easy to store.

Long term:

Build a shelter and get a small fire going.  Try to keep the fire going and do what you can to not go crazy.  Recite poetry.  Write down something every day, even if it is just in the sand.  Keep plenty of food and water and hope for the best.  At least you won’t catch the zombie virus!

1. Velociraptors

The ultimate terror

Ever since I saw Jurassic Park as a kid (I believe I saw it about 14 times in theater), I have been preparing for this.

Preparation:

According to the movie, the one thing velociraptors cannot due is hack computers.  In real life, a general awareness of your surroundings coupled with physical fitness should be enough to keep you safe . . . for a little while.

When it happens:

For this scenario, my goal is generally to get up where the raptors cannot reach you.  These guys can jump pretty high, so you need to get up high and stay there for a while.  I usually see if there is some high ledge that you can get onto.  Or the roof of a house.  Really, they’re going to eat you no matter what, so there isn’t much you can do.

Long term:

You will be dead.  There is no long term.