Monthly Archives: July 2006

changing brakes

Sunday afternoon I decided I would finally replace the front brake pads on my car. This was the first weekend day in the last two months..since I bought the brake pads..that I actually had any free time (or that it wasnt raining). I had one of the front brakes all apart, and I go to put the new brake pads on the car and realize that the new pads were not even remotely close to the right size. So I head to Autozone (where I was working on my car) swearing about how the idiots that work there cant even match a part number from the computer screen with the part number on the box.

I get to AutoZone and explain to the guy behind the counter that they must have sold me the wrong brake pads and I wanted to exchange them for the correct ones. He looks it up in the computer and points out that they are the correct ones. I know that these brake pads did not even remotely come close to fitting, so I told the guy that the computer had to be wrong because they simply cannot fit. He asks me when my car was made. Not the “year of the car” but the “year it was made”. I look at him confused, and he explains to me that depending on when the car was actually made, even though it was a 2005 grand am, it might have some 2004 parts on it. None of this made any sense to me, but I figured I would humor him. He goes and gets the brake pads for a 2004 grand am, and sure enough, they looked like what was on my car.

None of this makes any sense. a 2005 car is a 2005 car. There is no yours is “part” 2005.

[tags]automotive,cars,pontiac,grand am,autozone[/tags]

Friday Night

Friday night, Aimee, Harold, Ryan and I went to faneuil hall to a bar. We left around 1am, and were driving down congress st to pick up 93 and I had just pulled up to the light on congress st and purchase st and I look at the intersection, and see a car completely on its side with a little bit of smoke coming out of it then I see the other car, which basically no longer had a front end it looked like it had just happened, because there was no police or ambulances. So we pull over to see if anyone needs any help. Some other guy had just pulled over as well, and he was on the phone talking to 911. Harold goes over to the car and sees that there is 3 girls still in the car on its side that couldn't get out, We see that their sunroof was open a tiny bit, so I help Harold rip the sunroof off the car which came off surprisingly easy and then the 3 girls crawled out of the car.The 2 in the front were wearing their seatbelts and looked OK, and the girl in the back wasn't wearing a seatbelt and she had a bloody nose and seemed fairly out of it but they all got out with a little help and then sat down in all the glass despite the fact that the accident happened about 2 buildings down from the fire station, it took a good 5 minutes for any ambulances to come and the first one to get there wasn't from that fire station the guy and the girl in the other car seemed pretty much OK, he had to get out through his window. After things calmed down a bit, I was talking to the guy that called 911 and he said he saw the accident happen and that the girls car had flipped over 3 times before it landed on its side.

A bit of an unusual way to end the night

[tags]car accident, fanueil hall, boston[/tags]

landlord from hell

I decided over the weekend I can't take my landlord any more. So when my lease is up in december, we are high tailing it out of there. For those that don't know, I live in medford in a fairly nice 2 family. It is owned by an old italian couple that live on the 1st floor. I am on the 2nd floor.

The big problem is that the italian couple doesn't "get it". When you decide you want to rent out property, there are some sacrifices you have to make, especially when you live in the same building as the property you are renting out. It may not always be dead quiet. You are going to know other people live in the same building. That is just how it works.

Since moving in last december, this is the list of complaints my landlord has brought to my attention:

  1. Doing laundry too much – The apartment came with a washer and dryer…located in the cellar. The dryer has a bad pulley in it and squeaked like crazy. Understandibly annoying to have to listen to, but you cant really hear it from upstairs, and it being noisy is a differant problem than doing laundry too much. My father helped me place all the pulleys and belts in the dryer and it has been as good as new. Also, even if we are doing laundry too much, I pay for the electricty and gas, so it is none of their concern.
  2. The dryer creates lint – both before and after every load of laundry going through the dryer, both aimee and I check the lint trap and empty it out. Not onto the floor, into a trash barrel.  I come home one day and old man rings the door bell and asks me to go into the cellar so he can give me a good talkin' to.  There is lint all over the ground, and I had been noticing it magically appear on the ground every once in a while. Not like a couple little pieces, but like a massive piece, like if you were to take the lint trap right after washing a bunch of brand new towels, and just peel it off onto the ground. I know I didn't do it, and I know aimee didn't do it, which leaves either old man or his wife. He starts yelling about how he cant open the window to let some air in because it will blow "all the lint" under the furnace. I tell him he put the lint there and then an argument ensued. He then complained that I dont empty the waste basket I put down there often enough. It just has lint and like a detergent bottle in it. It had just become close to full that week and the detergent bottle was thrown in. Oddly enough after I called him out on checking our laundry, the lint miraculously never appeared on the ground again. By the way, my way of fixing the problem after he yelled at me was to go and replace the waste basket with a much bigger one, and then vacuum that whole part of the cellar.
  3. blowing a circuit – Normally when you move into a place, you have easy…or at least some form of access to the breaker panel so that in the event you blow a circuit, you can go and reset it. Not in this place. It is an old house with old wiring and barely any outlets. Maybe 1, occasionally 2 per room. And more than 1 one is on a circuit. In winter, since some of the old windows, and actually most of the new cheap replacement windows were drafty, I got that plastic stuff that you can put over the windows with tape, and then you use a hair dryer to shrink wrap it onto the windows to get a tight fit. Apparantly using the dryer for the 15 minutes that I was using it was enough to blow the circuit (with the TV and 2 computers, a DVR, a receiver…etc). That was when I discovered it was all on the same circuit, and that I didn't have a fuse box anywhere. So I call old guy, he meets me downstairs, where he complains about the "last tenant never had that problem" and how he "doesn't know what we are doing up there". Keep in mind he has a real thick italian accent. It is real hard to understand what he is even saying. I had said to him I was putting up that window plastic with the hair dryer, told him the whole story, and his response was that whole thing about the last tenant never having that problem. then he ranted about that for a couple minutes then turned the circuit back on. The fuse box is on his part of the cellar, which is like a finished area all closed off, kind of like a parlor or something with a couch, TV, little kitchen, and a fire place. He is down there all day watching TV to avoid his wife.
  4.  The rent check – they have an insane italian last name, and we spelled it wrong a couple times. He explained how the bank wont take the check if it is spelled wrong (sure…the bank refuses to take checks if there is annnnything wrong at all..) He then gave us a business card of his so that it "wont happen again". We are so afraid of doing anything wrong, I dont think there has been one month that the rent check wasn't under their door by 8am the day it was due..if not a couple days before. I can only imagine what would happen if we were any later.
  5. The trash barrel smells – This may come as a suprise, but trash barrels hold trash. Despite your best efforts, every once in a while something not fun will leak out of the trash bag into the barrel. When it is hot out, trash barrels smells. This is the way it works. My one trash barrel is alongside the side of the house, where he told me to put it. Then he complains to me that it smells and that it is right under their bedroom window. He told me to put it there, but then I had to go and wash the barrel to make him happy. Apparantly that is not ok, but spreading cow manure all over his yard is fine. I come how from work on a hot day, and it reaks of cow shit. The front yard is full of flowers and plants, the side of the house is all plants, and the back yard has a big garden. All covered in shit. But god forbid my trash barrel smells like trash
  6. Ice cream on the stairs – Aimee threw out an ice cream container that still had some ice cream in it. It melted, and then leaked out of the trash bag when I brought it outside. I didn't see that it had melted, but then, since it was in the winter and cold, froze onto the stairs and walk way. There was a drop every couple of feet. he made me go wash it off in the middle of the night.
  7. drum set – Since there is not a prayer in hell of me being able to play my real drum set, I have an electronic drum set that I have setup in the extra bedroom. All you can hear is a light tapping sound when I use it. Trying to be careful, when I set it up, I got the think rubber floor tiles like you would find in a gym, and then put a thick carpet on top of that, and then set the drum set up on top. i figured maybe it would help deaden whatever sound you could hear. I had been afraid to really use it since the guy is a psycho, and as a rule, for the most part after 7pm is quiet time. Aimee and I decided on 7 just to be good since the psycho old people are…old people. We don' do laundry after 7 either. So this saturday at like 1pm I figured I would play the electronic drum set for a while. Maybe 5 minutes into it at the most, the door bell rings. Old guy starts yelling at me. He tells me "you have to think about what you are doing" and "if you want to do what you want, then go buy your own house". After he says that over and over again a bunch of times, he then says that his wife noticed in the trash a couple weeks ago a box for a grill, and wanted to know if we had one. I explained to him that it is a george forman grill, and that it is electric, and made to be used indoors. He then gets unhappy and wants to see it. I show it to him. It is about the same size as one of those circular charcoal grills, except it is a george foreman grill, and can be taken off the stand if you want to use it indoors so you can put it on the counter. Despite that fact, he goes on that you cant use it indoors because of the smoke. It creates the same amount of smoke as if I used the damn stove. Actually, the stove is probably worse because it is a gas stove and at the very least creates carbon monoxide. Then he repeats the "you have to think" line. Then he starts walking down stairs. I was hoping he wouldnt notice the fish tank, because he would probably get all upset about that as well. So instead I drop kicked him in the back of the knees and he fell down the stairs. Then I laughed.

Oddly enough, about a month ago, he had no problem ringing my door bell to ask me to help him with his remote control. It was a universal remote and the batteries died so it forgot the code to use for his TV. So apparantly inconveinancing me is fine.

In any event, when december comes around, we are moving out. I am hoping there is some way I could pull off getting a condo, because renting sucks. It is too bad that with a condo you still have all those pesky neighbors.

proof of identity

If I remember correctly, to get a drivers license in Massachusetts, you need to bring money, your social security card, and your birth certificate. To get a passport, which is what I am in the process of slowly applying for, you need your license and the "long form" of your birth certificate.

So I go to the Saugus town hall this morning to get mine, and they dont ask for any ID. Just my name and my birth date. According to what Bill at work told me, your birth certificate is public record, so anyone can ask for it. I am not sure I believe that, but what I am confused about is what the actual point of all these IDs are.

The social security card is useless. It is a business card sized piece of card stock printed on a regular printer, and then the social security number is typed on it. That is beyond easy to forge these days if you wanted to. People blindly tell their social security number to anyone/anything that asks.

the birth certificate is a joke. If you dig through someones trash, overhear a phone conversation, are behind them in line at the bank..anything these days, you can overhear what their birth date is.

The drivers license can easily be obtained from the RMV just by printing up a social security card and going to the town hall to get the birth certificate.

And now the passport, which is like the premier form of ID these days is then close to just as easy to get. You have the drivers license now, you have the birth certificate, the birth certificate has your parents birth place, on it. How much harder could it be to social engineer both of your parents social security numbers?

I am sure I am oversimplifying things a bunch, but what a waste of time. I don't really even need a passport, but I am fairly confident that if I dont waste the $90 or so on it now, when september comes around I will be sitting in a dirty prison cell in conzumel mexico wishing I had one.

[tags]passport, drivers license, identity theft, forgery, social engineering[/tags]

TV volume

Why is it that more often than not, when I am watching some movie on TV, the volume is all over the place. The dialogue is always way too low, so then I raise the volume to hear it, and when a commercial comes, the commercials blast through the speakers. Any music in the movies are always way too high as low. Does anyone attempt to equalize the volume?

I remember back in high school, when I was doing stuff for the schools public TV channel, the way I was taught to do production work was to start the recording tape with 30 seconds of black, then 30 seconds of color bars with 30 seconds of an audio tone. The point of the color bars and audio tone was to allow whoever/whatever was playing the tape to calibrate the color and audio. You raise the volume on whatever is playing it until it is at the appropriate level. Then, you dont have all these problems. Am I completely missing some reason for why all these TV stations cant do it? or are they all just insanely lazy? and what about the music in the movies? why are they a ton louder than the dialog in the same movie? does anyone listen to their work before releasing it?

vote Mike for president.

[tags]TV, audio, movies,dumbasses[/tags]