Great Roadside Assistance By AAA: Why Isn’t Everybody A Member?

Late last night, I was on my way home after choir practice, picking my way along in a driving rainstorm. On impulse I stopped at the Burger King on the way for a bite, and pulled into a spot (conveniently under a streetlight) to eat. I had the radio going, the lights were probably still on, and I had forgotten that the battery had been giving signs of trouble lately.

Sure enough, when I went to start up, the starter motor just made that clacky EH-EH-EH noise. Great – how cliche: woman alone with a dead battery in a terrible rainstorm. I felt like a commercial.

After talking with David, I called AAA and was told it would be about a 45 minute wait. Someone would be coming out from an outfit called “A+ Auto Repair” out of Barrington.

So I read the Internets on my phone with all the lights off and waited. After about half an hour of somewhat anxious weather-checking and watching for a beeg tow truck all lit up, I became aware of an asthmatic automotive wheeze coming from slightly behind and to my right. Turned around, and there was this tiny little white mini-van, and a little raggedy man got out of it wearing a reflective safety vest. He ran over and called out “Horrible weather, isn’t it?” and got me to open the door so he could access the hood release. I couldn’t even roll down the windows, my battery was so low.

He was scruffy looking, and the overalls worn under his safety vest were worn and the sleeves were torn and little more than rags on his arms. But he nodded sharply as he hustled around the side of the car; he knew what needed to be done.

Then he set about with a portable charger pack – it had cables attached to wind-up handles on the sides, so it was pretty quick to set up. He moved cables around, trying different ground points, and on the second attempt (I saw sparks flying through the gap under the hood) the engine started up, good to go. He packed up and waved as he ran back to his little car, which was still hiccuping away behind me. I thought about the shoemaker’s children going barefoot and the tailor’s children going around in rags and smiled ruefully.

“Wait! Don’t you want to see the AAA card?” I had been holding it in my hand the whole time.

He had a slight accent; Polish, maybe? “Nah, I seen the card. You need a new battery. Good night, lady!” And with that, he jumped into his wheezy little mini-mini-van and puttered away.

Texted back and forth to David – he was willing to come out, but AAA had the expertise so we let them deal with it. I had to drive around for about another 20 minutes to get some kind of charge on the battery. I ended up driving along Bode (a road near us that winds around pleasantly) to Barrington Road and then went to Starbuck’s drive thru for a steamed milk (I still wasn’t running heat or the radio). On the way back, I had a scary moment on Golf when I drove through a very, very deep puddle and was completely blinded by sheeting water on the windshield. “Enough is enough, I’m charged up,” I thought, and went home, finally getting in about 9:50pm.

Late night for me, but I’m grateful that AAA was able once again to help out – they kind of saved our driving vacation back in August in Idaho, they’ve come out to help me a couple of times over the years with various things. It’s always a smooth process and they always call to ask for feedback afterwards – they want to know if the affiliate service provider arrived within the time range and whether I was satisfied.

Of course I was satisfied, a cheerful little man came out and got my car going, in a driving rainstorm late at night. Who wouldn’t be? I wish I had gotten his name, but he sure deserves kudos.

Why isn’t every driver a AAA member? They provide so many great services.

From changing flat tires roadside to jumping batteries in your driveway, AAA Roadside Assistance can help get you on your way. AAA is the nation’s most comprehensive service provider. A simple phone call or online request is all it takes to bring help to your disabled vehicle. As a member, you’re covered in any car — whether you are the driver or passenger.

via AAA – Request a Tow, Battery Jump & More – Roadside Assistance

Great Roadside Assistance By AAA: Why Isn’t Everybody A Member?

Late last night, I was on my way home after choir practice, picking my way along in a driving rainstorm. On impulse I stopped at the Burger King on the way for a bite, and pulled into a spot (conveniently under a streetlight) to eat. I had the radio going, the lights were probably still on, and I had forgotten that the battery had been giving signs of trouble lately.

Sure enough, when I went to start up, the starter motor just made that clacky EH-EH-EH noise. Great – how cliche: woman alone with a dead battery in a terrible rainstorm. I felt like a commercial.

After talking with David, I called AAA and was told it would be about a 45 minute wait. Someone would be coming out from an outfit called “A+ Auto Repair” out of Barrington.

So I read the Internets on my phone with all the lights off and waited. After about half an hour of somewhat anxious weather-checking and watching for a beeg tow truck all lit up, I became aware of an asthmatic automotive wheeze coming from slightly behind and to my right. Turned around, and there was this tiny little white mini-van, and a little raggedy man got out of it wearing a reflective safety vest. He ran over and called out “Horrible weather, isn’t it?” and got me to open the door so he could access the hood release. I couldn’t even roll down the windows, my battery was so low.

He was scruffy looking, and the overalls worn under his safety vest were worn and the sleeves were torn and little more than rags on his arms. But he nodded sharply as he hustled around the side of the car; he knew what needed to be done.

Then he set about with a portable charger pack – it had cables attached to wind-up handles on the sides, so it was pretty quick to set up. He moved cables around, trying different ground points, and on the second attempt (I saw sparks flying through the gap under the hood) the engine started up, good to go. He packed up and waved as he ran back to his little car, which was still hiccuping away behind me. I thought about the shoemaker’s children going barefoot and the tailor’s children going around in rags and smiled ruefully.

“Wait! Don’t you want to see the AAA card?” I had been holding it in my hand the whole time.

He had a slight accent; Polish, maybe? “Nah, I seen the card. You need a new battery. Good night, lady!” And with that, he jumped into his wheezy little mini-mini-van and puttered away.

Texted back and forth to David – he was willing to come out, but AAA had the expertise so we let them deal with it. I had to drive around for about another 20 minutes to get some kind of charge on the battery. I ended up driving along Bode (a road near us that winds around pleasantly) to Barrington Road and then went to Starbuck’s drive thru for a steamed milk (I still wasn’t running heat or the radio). On the way back, I had a scary moment on Golf when I drove through a very, very deep puddle and was completely blinded by sheeting water on the windshield. “Enough is enough, I’m charged up,” I thought, and went home, finally getting in about 9:50pm.

Late night for me, but I’m grateful that AAA was able once again to help out – they kind of saved our driving vacation back in August in Idaho, they’ve come out to help me a couple of times over the years with various things. It’s always a smooth process and they always call to ask for feedback afterwards – they want to know if the affiliate service provider arrived within the time range and whether I was satisfied.

Of course I was satisfied, a cheerful little man came out and got my car going, in a driving rainstorm late at night. Who wouldn’t be? I wish I had gotten his name, but he sure deserves kudos.

Why isn’t every driver a AAA member? They provide so many great services.

From changing flat tires roadside to jumping batteries in your driveway, AAA Roadside Assistance can help get you on your way. AAA is the nation’s most comprehensive service provider. A simple phone call or online request is all it takes to bring help to your disabled vehicle. As a member, you’re covered in any car — whether you are the driver or passenger.

via AAA – Request a Tow, Battery Jump & More – Roadside Assistance

Can Haz Beep? Illinois I-PASS Transponders May Bring Back the BEEP! BEEP!

We both have transponders, and the original one used to make a cheerful BEEP! as we passed through the old-style I-PASS tollbooths. A few years ago, while Blago was still governor, Illinois started installing high speed scan lanes, and phased out the old transponders as they were no longer being made.

I admit, we used to say BEEP back to the transponder. We also meow at each other like a certain pair of actors in an obscure science fiction show, but that’s another post.

When the time comes to replace either transponder (one in each of our two cars) we’ll see if we can haz the BEEP! BEEP! again.

Do you ever feel that you and your I-PASS transponder just aren’t talking anymore? Are you tired of those tense, icy silences on drives?The Illinois tollway could have the solution to get you and your device on speaking terms again. Plans are under way to reintroduce transponders that beep when drivers successfully pay tolls and also communicate the status of I-PASS accounts, administrators said at a Thursday meeting.

via I-PASS transponders may be breaking their silence – DailyHerald.com

Colorado RNC Delegates: 8 To Abstain But Stick Around For The Breakfast Special

New category: quick news updates on my lunch breaks.

This caught my eye earlier, and I think you should know I’m very disappointed. Disapointed! That there might not be a nice, juicy floor fight.

Although former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the GOP nomination for president sewn up, a number of Colorado delegates to the RNC in Tampa plan to abstain rather than cast a vote for him in the official roll call Tuesday. Six delegates who back Rep. Ron Paul of Texas — along with two who had pledged support to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania before he dropped out of the race and released his delegates — formally announced their intentions at a delegation breakfast Monday to withhold their votes from Romney.

In another development at the breakfast, a Colorado delegate asked fellow Republicans to get behind a brewing protest over proposed changes to party rules. The dispute could gum up Tuesday morning’s convention proceedings, although party officials suggested it would likely be resolved before blossoming into a floor fight.

via Storms, Disputes Threaten To Rain On RNC | KUNC

One thing I’ve always wondered – why is it that conservatives always get so worked up by “red meat” statements that appeal to the lizard hindbrain? Oh, wait, I just answered my own question. Never mind.

Romney Social Media Staffer Bill Murphy Linked In To Fraudulent Profitable Tea Party Non-Profit

This is juicy, if a little opaque to the non-Tweety, non-Bloggy, non-Facebooky clueless unlikely voter. The telling point is that he deleted his Linked In profile rather than answer tricky questions about whether his work for the organization would be part of his professional resume.

Hat tip: OsborneInk

Team Romney’s Social Media Director, Bill Murphy, is the former Director of the National Bloggers Club, a group under IRS investigation for soliciting donations while falsely claiming to be a non-profit organization. Although NBC filed incorporation papers in January, the organization is still absent from both the IRS and GuideStar charity databases.

The group’s President, Ali Akbar, is a long-time associate of Murphy’s. In fact this isn’t even their first for-profit non-profit. I first wrote about Akbar in 2009, when he was working at American Liberty Alliance – an organization that fraudulently solicited funds while purporting to be non-profitable. Murphy was ALA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. Though Akbar would eventually rise to the dizzying heights of Chairman of the ALA Board, at the time he was a mere technology consultant. Incidentally, prior to that he once found himself arrested for grand theft and … wait for it … fraud.

Two weeks ago Ron Brynaert broke the news on his blog (Hackers n Fake Newz) that prior to working for the campaign, Murphy had not only worked at both NBC and ALA, but in fact had left both positions off of his resume, or at least his LinkedIn profile. You can see the before-and-after screenshots on Brynaert’s blog. Following Brynaert’s lead, bloggers like The Liberal Grouch and Breitbart Unmasked launched a bit of a campaign against Akbar. The idea seemed to be to try and get to the Romney campaign through Murphy by tying him to Akbar like a snitch to a cinder block.

However, as it turns out @LiberalGrouch, @BreitbartUnmask and @ronbryn can skip that step. Rather than just being vaguely associated with NBC, Murphy used to run it

via Romney Staffer Bill Murphy Worked For Fraudulent Non-Non-Profits

The View From My Office

20120824-085119.jpg

It’s a nice day today. David’s off today so he left to do a long bike ride with our friend Steve.

It’s pretty steady today — calls coming in, stuff to do. Working from home is pretty awesome, and a lot less stressful. My morning commute involves cat activity and blackberry jam now… this morning I got up late, wandered into my office in my “Bear Loves Moose” nightshirt, and booted up. Ready to take a call…

Hah, no. I’m in the habit of dressing, brushing teeth, brushing hair, and putting on my orthotic sneakers, because I’ve found that running around barefoot all day makes my feet and knees hurt.

Maybe I’ll play around with the home fitness amenities box David got for his Tour de Cure ride, it’s got all kinds of stuff in it.

Break almost over, more later.

Well, We Seem To Be Connected Somehow #WaitingForComcast

The technical installation has finally concluded, and I now have data and phone in my office (but nothing to connect with, that’s later). The guys who delivered and assembled my desk got here at a little before 10am and they went a little over their time estimate as to how long it would take to assemble desk and chair, but they were done by a little after noon.

Riley the cat inspects the new office, which is not strictly "his."

After the desk guys left, Riley did a tour of inspection. He’ll be quite baffled by the pet gate that I’ll put at the top of the stairway, but at least I’ll have easy access to the hall bath and he won’t be able to come in while I’m talking on the phone and do the “meow meow meow” thing.

MDF File Stacker and charging station

I couldn’t figure out what this was from the catalog pictures, but I wanted the file stacker part of it. It turns out that it’s got a vertical slot for a binder (and I have one that I refer to pretty frequently) and horizontal shelves for folders or papers. The light-colored thing with the portholes on top mystified me until I realized it had access holes in the back for power cords; it’s a multi-device charging station. The desk also has 4 USB ports built in, which will probably need to be connected only to power outlets, NOT to the computer (data security). They could run gadgets, like fans, cup warmers, and a bread printing toaster, but aren’t all that necessary for what I need to do.

The Comcast cable guy came to do battle with the house next; it was a struggle. He arrived not long after the desk guys left, at about 1pm, and left a couple of hours later, after a mighty duel with the interior geometry of the house. I had been advised to expect him between 1pm and 4pm, so there’s that. I’d been told there’d be an exterior-only inspection sometime in the morning, but I never saw anybody. Probably did a drive-by to figure out where the cable hub thing was.

Misaligned cable box, with newly installed cable running across lawn

He connected a complete whole line from the cable hub thing in the neighbor’s back yard, across a bit of his lawn and this corner bed containing gnomes (GNOMES) before crossing our lawn to the back of the house.

The neighbors aren’t too keen on the cable wire running across their lawn, they’ve got a big kid’s birthday event this weekend and one of their grandkids was actually injured once by tripping over a loose cable like this, so they are understandably concerned. We worked it out; they’ll probably bury or cover the line themselves temporarily, and I offered the use of a rather nifty turfcutter gadget we have, and some spare mulch for the, er, gnome area.

UPDATE: There won’t be any turfcutting until the Village of Hoffman Estates signs off. My neighbor had a visit from 2 apologetic techs, and was assured someone should be out tomorrow (Friday 22JUN12) to take care of the cable burying. I’d be fine with just making sure his little bit of the cable is buried; ours really should be done as quickly as they can as we’ve got the corner lot and kids cut across our lawn (grr, separate issue).

Cable and Telephony on our side of the fence with drain cover

Just pointing out the cover for the drainage we had put in last year; ever since then, no big Lake Gibbs in the low part of the yard after a storm (and we had a gullywasher the other day).

I just can’t seem to kill off those damn daylilies. Oh, well.

Here you can see the “work” cable snaking (and curling into big loops) along the line of the existing “home” cable.

2 different cable lines entering house

He ran it up the side of the house and along the roof line under the bathroom window – fairly neatly. He at least tried to tuck it under the vertical edging, but the line is clearly along the roof diagonal. Then it goes around the chimney and into the attic, then straight down inside the wall (it’s partly an exterior wall so there’s insulation to deal with).

Kind of left a mess, but nothing a little vacuuming won’t fix. There’s insulation here and there in the guest bedroom, too, as the attic hatch is in there. The cover is jammed on there tightly, but it’s a little warped with the strain. We’ll probably have to fix that later so that it completely covers the rough edge of the cut. He was in a little bit of a hurry when he left.

The hard part, after all the clambering around on ladders and drilling, was getting the line down to the office from above. Since it’s an exterior wall, he had to use fiberglass or plastic rods to push through the pink insulation, rather than drop a weighted fish. I could tell he was pretty glum about it. When he called me up to advise me of this challenge, which required a pretty big hole, he was trying to hook the rod with something that looked suspiciously like a coathanger. OUR coathanger. Pretty comical; even cable guys resort to coathangers in a sticky situation.

There was a lot of back and forth, up and down. He had me knock on the wall when he first drilled down from above, then came down and could not hook the rod. So he went back up to the attic and I tried to get the rod as he wiggled and pushed it around from above. So frustrating! The second time, I could get my fingers on it, but not grab it. I kept yelling “Pull it up! Pull!” so I could nick the end and bend it into the access, but he couldn’t hear me. He eventually got it with his customized coathanger tool (after I bent the other end into a 90-degree angle, since the hook was too… hooky). He also borrowed a tape measure for a while, to check the offset from the corner wall, and a stepladder.

I offered him our fish spool and a jingle bell, too. We had good luck with that when we were getting the speaker wire to cross the family room. He declined, and so did not get to experience the whimsical joy of hearing a jingle bell clunking around inside the wall (admittedly, this would not have been practical with all the insulation in there today).

At last, success! He gave me this look over his shoulder, like “You thought I couldn’t do it” and pulled it into the room. It was a triumphant moment for him.

Once the line was in, it had to be tested, which was a problem, because no signal, oopie. Back to the cable hub thing, which is apparently infested with wasps, and at that point the second guy showed up. The installer left the house to make a call, and very quickly, there was a second truck in the drive. Must have been nearby doing another installation (probably not one of ours), as he helped with testing the line connection at the house end and calling out numbers when he started getting a signal. Whew. Then the modem(s) were hooked up – there’s a data one, and a voice one that has a battery that will apparently act like a UPS. If we lose power, though, I won’t be too worried about not being able to use that phone. The “test” phone I brought in normally lives in the basement in case of power failures – it’s directly plugged into the phone line, so no auxiliary power needed.

There were a few more tests of both the data and the voice part of the connection, during which I learned that cable guys have to listen to the same annoying hold music we do when they call in to do a line test (although they probably don’t have to wait on hold as long as we do).

I don’t know when I get the rest of my gear and “come home” permanently, but probably not before the end of the month. There’s a new computer base to be set up, including all my files and even my programmable keys, and there’s a special phone/headset gadget. This all has to be hooked up correctly, and we’ll be getting training on that.

And the result is, I have a desk, a data and voice connection, a chair (which still needs to be adjusted), and some debris to tidy up. Note paper coat hanger cover, which came out of our closet. All that in a little over two hours; given the challenges the house offered, I’m surprised he got it done today at all (although a second tech came over to lend a hand).

My husband David had been worried about his servers losing connection – a lot of people depend on his archives to get information about techniques for programming in his world. But we never lost connectivity (and believe me, this was weird to the cable guy, that we already had our own business-grade connection).

Cable plate entering via the wall

At least this part is done; two of my teammates are already home, and two more besides me had installations recently but are still coming in to the office until we get our gear and our “go-home” dates. So I’ll wait and see what happens next.

I’m planning on getting some kind of tea tray in there – have electric kettle and selection of teas – so that other than lunch time I’m in good shape for beverages during my work day. I’m looking forward to this, and also to decorating the wall behind my desk with pictures I took on some of our trips. Maybe I’ll blog a gallery selection later.

Why Carl Kasell Is Awesome: @PeterSagal Please Pass Along The Thanks Of A Grateful Family

Leonard Nimoy Helps Carl Kasell Give The Vulcan Salute

Yet another reason why Carl Kasell is awesome...

If you’re not aware of how awesome Carl Kasell is as the official “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” scorekeeper, you’re completely missing the point of this post and there’s very little hope for you. However, there’s still time to catch up if you get to work immediately listening to old episodes in the archives. Or check out their excellent blog, which seems to be mostly about food.

My brother-in-law Mitch pulled off an incredible coup recently; some time ago he wrote to our local public radio station (the mighty, mighty, WBEZ) and simply asked if he could get a “Carl Kasell on your home answering machine” recording as a surprise for his (our) parents’ upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, which is June 10th.

We’ve all listened to the message, and as my husband David likes to say, it’s TREMENDOUS.

It makes us both laugh and cry at the same time, which is quite a feat as we’re not that dramatic a family. It even references the name of the restaurant where the party was originally planned to be; in the meantime a much smaller and quieter gathering will happen, probably at “the folks” house. Sadly, we will be short one beloved person that day.

This change of plans does not prevent us from getting a lot of mileage out of the recording, which we can now play via our smartphones at any time –we do not need to wait for a phone call. No operators need stand by. Modern technology is a miraculous thing.

Thus, we can laugh (or what have you) at any time we wish. This is a TREMENDOUS blessing.

Carl Kasell is, quite simply, teh awesome. Sir: you rock. You helped us laugh. Thank you.

Dusting It Off, Coff Coff

Yes, yes, Ginny Who? here.

It’s been a busy and eventful few months since our vacation in Hawaii… whoa, really. There’s a lot going on in the family (can’t blog about that) and there’s a lot going on at Holy Moly (hey, Faddah Manny is our vicar now!).

My husband David had a little contretemps with a local streetlamp the other day while riding his bike, and now sports a nifty scrape on one of his legs. He pointed the lamppost out tonight on our way back from dinner with his brother Dan and said “That’s the lamppost. I’m plotting my insidious revenge.” It’s something to do with pink paint and humiliations galore.

My new computer is running pretty, okay really quite REALLY REALLY well after I stepped back from the latest nVidia driver – I was getting something called the “Pink Screen of Death” when I’d finish watching a YouTube video or log off of Second Life and had run across references to a driver conflict on a support page. So that’s all good and fine, and I hope to be doing more regular blogging and stuff inworld and outworld again.

I tried to get the old Express App working with the Woo Tumblog plugin – this is just so I can easily blog links and photos and quotes from my iPhone, all of which are possible but not easy with the “official” WordPress app for iPhone. However, the instructions for getting it working don’t relate at all to the structure of the NomNom theme I now use (and lurve, lurve, lurve).

The church website at Holy Moly looks great, needs some updating with some content stuff Faddah Manny sent me – we’ve got videos now! I’ll be doing some better graphics on the main page; what I have now was a stopgap from back when I was under… some design constraints from above (not from Above, just… above).

Family stuff… well, things proceed with all deliberate speed (both happy things and sad things). That’s about all I can say about that. David’s diabetes ride training is going pretty well except for the evil lamppost incident, and I’m coughing my head off with a stupid spring cold that’s settled into an annoying barking hackfest. Am now on prescription meds that have worked in the past to head off the dreaded “bronchitis that does not quit even for summer, nyah nyah.”

It started a week ago Sunday, suddenly; I thought it was allergies because I’d been dusting and fooling around emptying the Roomba, because I just started coughing, sneezing, and had runny nose and eyes. Nope, it was a cold. I even stayed home for 3 days last week.

Speaking of staying home, next week I’ve got the week off, and toward the weekend, I’ll be… heh heh, blogging from a magical kingdom. And later in the summer, if things go well, I’ll start working from home (using the smallest bedroom as a home office).

Whee! Well, I’m hoping that it’ll mean that some of my “allergy triggers” from the poor air circ at work will be a thing of the past. The room has a real, openable window, and a ceiling fan. So, YAY! At least during reasonable weather, fresh air won’t be a problem. And during winter and summer, there won’t be the stuffy “bad air” triggers that have been getting worse and worse for me at work the last few years.

If the technology can be installed properly (the internal structure of the house might make the install tricky), it’s going to be really great. One of my co-workers is already working from home and loves it (another co-worker actually relocated to Phoenix and kept her same position and team, she REALLY loves it).

That’s about all there is to that. This is the public knowledge part, anyway, and I don’t know much more about it than the bare bones. Looking forward to it and hoping that there won’t be any hitches or glitches.

David’s A Bike Ridin’ MACHINE – Sponsor Him in the Tour De Cure

David’s out on a training ride for the American Diabetes Association “Tour de Cure” today. He’s committed to riding 35 miles on June 10th at the ride event in Naperville, and some of us will be volunteering that day, too. After that, we’ll be celebrating his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (David expects to be pretty wiped out). As David has diabetes (very well controlled by diet and exercise) he’s entitled to wear a red jersey on ride day. He’ll also be riding in honor of other family members who have diabetes.

Actually, David’s riding with some other team members who are riding ‘ONLY’ 35 miles today because they’re training for one of the longer rides, so he said he’d try to go the distance with them. If he succeeds, I expect he’ll be thinking about changing to one of the longer rides… we’ll see!

If you’d like to support David for his ride, please visit his donation page: http://urlq.us/adaride