Friday, August 25, 2006

My Very Enormous Mother Just Sat Upon Nick...

When I was a kid, I remember going to my mom with questions about my schoolwork. I didn't often get a helpful answer. Instead, I would hear about how much things had changed since she was in school.

"When I was your age, we only had 48 states. And we didn't have that stupid periodical chart to memorize because the only elements were earth, air, fire, and water. And in biology, we had to learn about the bodily humors and how they balanced. And we didn't have calculus because we only had 4 numbers back then, and that's including zero. And there were only five presidents to... hey, come back here!"

Frankly, I had no sympathy for the woman. I figured, Hey! The times change, and you gotta change with 'em, or die. Of course, my mom was incapable of thinking that way because they didn't have evolution when she was a kid. God made Adam and Eve and Jesus created dinosaur bones to fuck with the scientists. But I digress...

My point is, I used to just roll my eyes when mom launched into one of her old-people speeches. But now, I have experienced the pain of what she was going through. Now, I find myself longing for the good old days, when what I learned in school was still valid. Back before the bastard astronomers downsized Pluto.

Nine planets. That's what I was taught. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. And you know how you remembered them all? By remembering the sentence "My Very Enormous Mother Just Sat Upon Nick's Porcupine."

(In a sort of unrelated story, I struggled in my algrebra class to remember the hierarchy of operations, which is a fancy way of saying which order you did your math in. First was powers, then roots, then muliplication, then division, then addition, then finally subtraction. My friend Neal came up with the mnemonic device "Please Rape My Dear Aunt Sally." I tried like hell to come up with something more appropriate, but here it is 21 years later and all I can remember is "Please Rape My Dear Aunt Sally." Sometimes, the brain really sucks.)

So anyway, those astronomers recently took time out of their busy schedule of broadcasting messages to the aliens and building telescopes that don't work to downgrade Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet."

(Actually, I sort of like the idea of a "dwarf planet." I picture an entire race of tiny, orange men like the Oompa Loompas, dressed in parkas and eskimo hoods as they dance around and sing. They have to dress warmly. Pluto is very cold because it's well over a hundred miles from the sun.)

Planet Ex: Pluto has been downgraded from "planet" to "dwarf planet."

So now, there are eight planets, three dwarf planets, and tens of thousands of other space crap, like asteroids and comets cluttering up our solar system. So this means all the encyclopedias and textbooks are going to have to be updated, and they're going to have to rewrite the lyrics to that Schoolhouse Rock song Interplanet Janet. Plus, all those poor astrologers are going to have to update their charts and cross off Pluto! (Actually, this might explain why horoscopes have never been terribly accurate up to this point... this could be the discovery those poor bastards were waiting for!)

And we're going to need a new mnemomic device. I suggest "Mysterious Volcano Eruptions May Jeopardize Satan Until Noon." Or "Maury's Vasectomy Enraged My Jester's Sister's Uncle's Niece."

But I'm sure all I'll remember 20 years from now is "My Very Enormous Mother Just Sat Upon Nick."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

&$^@#!?*% Verizon!!!! (Redux)

Actually, I guess I'm *partially* to blame for this one. And so is Bank of America. But I've always got more than enough bile for Verizon.

I get my Verizon bill online. And somehow, last month's fell through the cracks. Don't know why. Just totally zoned on it. Didn't think to check e-bills until I sat down last week to pay my regular Luddite snail mail bills, and I saw I had an outstanding balance.

"Holy fresh spanked baby Jesus!" I thought. "Thank the merciful God in heaven that I caught this in time!" I elected to pay the full amount and submitted the bill.

And there it sat. If I'd paid attention, I would have seen that it had defaulted to 8/2 as a payment date. But I didn't notice.

And so, at midnight last night, Verizon cut off my phone service. I had no idea until my good buddy IX e-mailed me (and posted about it, thus exposing my shame to the threes or fours of people who still read this damn blog).

I was *so* full of righteous indignation. "Those bastards!" thought I. "This time I've got them! I distinctly remember paying them last week! All I have to do is go online and get my confirmation number!" When I'm angry, my thoughts turn quite expository.

So I went online, and there's my Verizon bill. Waiting to be processed. Just sitting there, mocking my childlike faith in God, with a pay-by date of 8/2 on it.

I picked up my phone, and there was a dialtone. I've never had my phone service interrupted before, so I wasn't sure how it worked. The first thing I did was try to call Stephanie, because her soothing, dulcet tones are just the thing to quell the white-hot anger that roars within me.

I was treated to a recorded message telling me that my phone service had been temporarily interrupted, but I could reach Verizon by dialing 0. I went through the whole recorded speech-activated rigmarole...

Souless Verizon Automaton:
Would you like to pay your bill, report a problem, or exit?

Pay my bill.

Souless Verizon Automaton:
I'm sorry. I didn't understand you. Please say "Pay bill", "Report problem", or "Exit".

Pay bill!

Souless Verizon Automaton:
I'm sorry. I didn't understand you. Please say "Pay bill", "Report problem", or "Exit".


Souless Verizon Automaton:
You have elected to pay your bill. Is this correct?


Souless Verizon Automaton:
I'm sorry. I didn't understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No".


Souless Verizon Automaton:
Foolish meatsack. When the robot revolution comes, you will die screaming.


Souless Verizon Automaton:
Please hold while I transfer you to PhonePay.

So anyway, agonizingly long and pointless story short, I paid the bill, canceled the e-bill, and now my phone works. Or at least I can dial out. I'm not sure if anybody can call me or not, and given my past track record with Verizon, there's a pretty good chance they assigned my phone number to some Hispanic lady over the past few hours.

But at least I'm back on the grid.