I Hope You Like The TSA. I Mean Really, Really Like Them

The TSA, the United States Transportation Security Administration, has announced that it’s going to do a very government-like thing. They’re even going to give it a nice fancy name so as to avoid calling it what it is, that being something you and I would more than likely get arrested for if we tried it.

While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now those options have been eliminated and replaced with a single universal approach. This time, you will notice.
The new physical touching—for those selected to have a pat-down—will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.
Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday. The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said.

I’ll almost certainly never get the chance to do it myself, but man oh man can I ever not wait until “I wasn’t assaulting anyone, I was simply providing a more comprehensive and involved physical screening” becomes somebody’s legal defense.

And here’s where things get worse, as if that should even be possible.

Why did I say that this is a very government-like thing? That would be because the reason the TSA feels the need to ramp the groping level up from let’s go back to my place after dinner to you might want to get yourself tested is because it’s original molestation program wasn’t working well enough. NO, really.

The change is partly a result of the agency’s study of a 2015 report that criticized aspects of TSA screening procedures. That audit, by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, drew headlines because airport officers had failed to detect handguns and other weapons. An additional change prompted by the report was the TSA’s decision to end its “managed inclusion” program, by which some everyday travelers were allowed to use PreCheck lanes to speed things up at peak times.

“Dammit, we’re not finding enough weaponry in nutsacks and hoo-has! We must redouble our efforts, tighten our gloves and go deeper into those nutsacks and hoo-has! Those guns are in there somewhere!”

“But what if we’re going about things the wrong way…”

“Shut up and get your elbow into that man’s ass! And don’t forget to take off your watch.”

That has to be how this decision was made. It’s pretty clear after all these years that almost nothing this agency does is based on common sense or actually trying to make things safer.

A Real Uber Driver Will Never Try To Negotiate A Price Or Ask You for Cash

Normally when one of us writes about a scam, we’re doing it because we want to either laugh at an incompetent one or at the people who fall for an obvious one. But right now I’m going to be completely serious because I know that even as popular as it is, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea how Uber works.

I don’t know how widespread this is, but there’s no way in hell that this fella in Guelph is the first or the last person to try it. It’s far too obvious a con to have not at least been attempted somewhere before now.

Guelph Police say it all started around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when two women leaving a restaurant accepted a ride “from a man who was posing as an Uber driver.”
When the women arrived at their destination on Victoria Road, the driver allegedly demanded more money than he had originally agreed on.

At that point, police say, the upset driver grabbed a water bottle and threw it through a window.

He was captured and charged shortly thereafter, so he won’t be out giving repeat performances right away at worst or ever again at best.

But the reason I’m writing this is because as easy a scam as this is to pull off, it’s equally simple to spot before you get sucked in.

Basically, the moment your driver starts talking to you about a price, you’re being lied to. If he asks you for cash or a credit card, you’re being lied to. Neither of these things happen in a legitimate Uber transaction. Everything is handled through the Uber app. It’s both how you call for a ride and how you pay for it. You give your credit card number to the app, which then times your trip while you’re on the road like a taxi metre and then bills you when you’re done. You and your driver have no reason to discuss money unless your conversation turns to the stock market.

That’s not to say that everyone who claims to drive for Uber and offers you a ride out of the blue is a liar. I’d bet most of them are, but it’s possible. And if that happens, you’ll know he’s for real when he tells you to open the app and book a ride to wherever you are even though he’s sitting right next to you. He’ll do that because that’s how legitimate Uber drivers get paid the proper amount for their work. If he doesn’t, offer to do it and watch his reaction. If he’s hesitant and tries to talk you out of it, it’s because he’s full of shit and not a ride you want to accept.

Hopefully this clears things up before any of you run into a situation like this.

They Could Have Saved Themselves A Whole Lot Of Words By Just Writing Fore!

So this is one of the weirder recall notices I think I’ve ever seen. I have nothing more to add. Seriously, once you read the first sentence, nothing else in the world will matter. You’ll just be sitting here like I am, laughing and wondering what the fuck was going on at this factory.

McCain Foods USA, Inc. announced today it is voluntarily recalling retail, frozen hash brown products that may be contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials, that despite our stringent supply standards may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product. Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth.
The impacted products include the following: Roundy’s Brand, 2 lb. Bag of Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 001115055019) and Harris Teeter Brand, 2 lb. Bag of Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns (UPC 007203649020).
The Roundy’s products were distributed at Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Harris Teeter products were distributed in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland. Distribution occurred after the date of January 19, 2017. No other products under the respective brands are impacted by this recall.
The products being recalled were manufactured on January 19, 2017. The production code date is B170119 and can be found on the back of the packaging. Any product with a different production code date is not impacted by this recall.
Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
There have been no reported injuries associated with the consumption of this product.
Food safety remains a top priority for McCain Foods USA, Inc. and we have full confidence that all appropriate steps are being taken to protect our consumers. McCain is working cooperatively with the Food & Drug Administration and the respective supermarkets to ensure the affected products are removed from the marketplace.
Consumers with concerns or questions about the recall should contact McCain Foods USA, Inc. at 630- 857-4533 (Monday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST).

It’s Tans And Trix Talk Time!

I am so overdue on doggy talk, and we just marched through that time of the year where there is a cluster of dog anniversaries for both Trix and Tans, so it’s a good time to talk about both beasts.

Well, I guess I can officially stop worrying about Tans pulling a LaniJo. She has been with me 4 years, and still seems to be going strong. Sometimes she looks a little sleepier than usual, but for the most part, she seems ready to go. I’m happy it’s spring, because I can take her to the park again.

Tans continues to be pretty healthy for the most part, but she did develop a UTI back in January. It was the weirdest thing. At first, she kept asking to pee and pee and pee, and sometimes when we were out there, she would act like she had to do the other, but it ended up being pee. She would actually whine like she does when she gets diarrhea, but it was pee. She must have been in a lot of pain.

When I took her to the vet, they said she definitely had a UTI and got her on antibiotics. But they scared the heck out of me because they said they wanted to check for bladder stones. Um, ouch. Thankfully, when they did, they didn’t find any, and so far, she’s been fine. Phew.

The weird part was they automatically wanted to put her on a prescription diet for treating bladder stones, or preventing them, or something. I wasn’t too sure about it, the calories were so much lower that I would have had to feed her a ton of it, it didn’t seem to have any meat in it if the label was read to me correctly, and the school wasn’t too sure about it either. So I switched her from salmon to duck because the guy at the pet store said that he might have heard something about a correlation between fish-based foods and bladder stones, and I’ve added a supplement with cranberry and vitamin C in it that’s supposed to keep things nice and clean, and so far, we haven’t had any more problems. But maybe I wouldn’t have had any more problems anyway. Who knows? Poor Tansy, I hope she didn’t suffer too long before making it clear there was a problem.

On the updates front, I have started bringing a toy when she has to ride in the hatch, to help her with her fear of it, and I think it might be working. I can hope so. I also noticed that if I call her actual name when I want her to come, and I don’t use a nickname, that seems to work, although it’s not perfect. I also asked about the issue of her wanting treats all the time, and I’m trying to use their suggestion. They said that although it feels counterintuitive, cut back on the praise, because she has associated praise with the hope of a treat, and only give her praise at spots where you were stopping anyway. It’s not perfect, but I’m trying.

God Tans will turn into a complete nutbar when she sees Brad, especially if we’re at the relative’s house with the other dog that we sometimes let play with Tans. The whining, the lunging, the complete disregard for anything orderly is a sight to behold. At least, usually, after she’s played with the other dog, she looks more respectable. She goes nuts over our buddy Anton, but not in the same way. I’d love to know what makes her decide a given person gets her seal of approval. It’s not always that they have a dog of their own.

She definitely has some quirks. If Steve is playing with her, and covers his head with the blanket, she goes absolutely insane. I’m not sure if she feels she has to rescue him or what, but she starts burrowing her head under the blanket, snorting, trying to throw it off or bite at it, and then running around the room.

And every now and then, she decides to test the whole idea of staying in her bed until I get up. It really sucks if poor Steve has decided to sleep on the couch, and she decides to run through the house at 3 or so in the morning. Sometimes I know why she does this, like the times there was a truck beeping outside the window that sort of sounded like the same rhythm as my alarm clock, but sometimes I have no idea what gets in her head. Anyway, when she starts up with this, she winds up spending a few bedtimes on tiedown to hopefully drive the point home that that’s supposed to be where she stays while I’m sleeping.

Sometimes, she definitely knows where things are more than I do, and she doesn’t mind telling me so. When I go out of the office, there is a pizza place a few doors down. Every now and then, I think we’ve already gone past it, and so I turn her around. She responds by digging in her heels. When I turn her back around, she will sprint even faster to the pizza place. Ok, ok, you win.

I never thought I would see a dog do this, so I feel like I have to mention it. In either February or March, we were going through periods of warm weather, followed by nasty ice and snow. One day, after we’d had some warm weather, I thought we wouldn’t need the boots. Tans was picking her way down the sidewalk so slowly that I actually turned her around and put her boots on. She never limped, she just moved super slowly. After I got her boots on, she moved normally. I think she actually asked for her boots! Wow!

For all her excitement and exuberance, she is super patient with my 2-year-old nephew. That kid loves Tansy, but he hasn’t figured out she has feelings. He will try to sit on her, scream into her fur, drive a little toy over her back, all of which we discourage. But the latest thing amazed me. He thought he could lift her. Of course he couldn’t, but that didn’t mean he didn’t try. There he was, both hands under her butt, trying and trying and trying. She just lay there and let him. My grandma saw her patience with him at Christmas and couldn’t believe it.

Now for the Trixie news. As of two weeks ago today, she is 12. Just try to digest that for a while. Trix…is…12. I brought her home 10 years ago April 15. She’s 12. Wow. We’re getting into that territory where we have no idea what may be on the horizon. She seems mostly fine right now, but you just never know.

You know how I said she couldn’t care less about toys? Now, she’s getting picky about treats! I used to think as long as she could demolish it, it was fair game. But now, that’s not even a safe bet. I didn’t even know what to get her for her birthday this year!

She has more old lady lumps, but they all seem to be the benign type. It’s weird seeing her now. Also, her cataracts are pretty noticeable to people. But it sounds like she still copes pretty well. The scariest old dog thing she has is she’s starting to drag her back end a wee bit. She can still move super fast, but after she’s been still for a while, she needs help up the stairs, and apparently her back toenails look more worn down, which makes us think she’s shuffling her back feet more. But so far, that’s not getting in her way.

You can definitely tell she hasn’t been working for a while. At Christmas, when we had everybody over, including the baby nephew, I thought it would be a good idea to contain both dogs when it was time to eat. I got Tans in the crate, and then took Trix back to Tans’s comfy bed and the tiedown. As soon as I picked up the tiedown to attach to her collar, she got super resistant. She would not lie down, she would only sit. I think she spent the whole time she was contained sitting and staring back at us. To her credit, she didn’t try to follow Shmans’s exampleand rip that tiedown out too. But she was not settling on that tiedown. I could just stuff that idea. Ah, how things change. The tiedown used to be her happy place when the thunderworks were afoot.

I think that’s all for now. But this is a message to both dogs. Please, please, don’t age anymore. Things are good right here.

Help Kate And Andrea Get A Tandem Mountain Bike

So I joined a book club. I need to write a whole post about that, but the reason I mention it is someone else in the book club wants to do a triathlon. Go her. I take my hat off to anyone who can do all of that. But, she’s been at this for a while, and has teamed up with someone else who wants to do the same. Being blind, she needs to use a tandem bike for the biking part, and for this, she needs a tandem mountain bike. As you can see from her Gofundme campaign goal, those suckers aren’t cheap. I commend her for taking it on, and am definitely rooting for her and Andrea. I get tired even thinking about doing a triathlon.

It looks like they have a good chunk of funds already. If you’d like to give to their cause, you know what to do.

What The ER Looks Like From The Doctor’s Point Of View

I saw this article about what it’s like in the ER late at night, and it made me think. I know these things. I know the doctors aren’t just bumming around all day making you wait for fun, but boy is it ever frustrating. I still remember how frustrated I was when I had to go to the ER…and how maddening it was to get one test, then wait, then another, than wait, then get moved to another spot, then wait. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be on the other side. At least I can say I have never been to the ER for falling off a balcony, or some of the other stupid things people were there for in the article. I know I’ll think about what shoes I wear to the ER from now on.

Strategic Voting Is Still Not Worth Your Time

Though I personally think it’s stupid, nonsensical and based on little more than hope and magical fairy dust, I do understand the urge some people have to participate in strategic voting campaigns. Our election system is a bit screwy, sometimes allowing candidates to claim seats with some rather low percentages. So yes, the temptation to try to use that to your advantage makes sense. But the problem, and this happens in pretty much every election ever, is that it simply doesn’t work. Why? Because polls, much like vote strategically efforts, are kind of garbage. A poll can say whatever it wants leading into an election, but none of it matters. The only poll that counts is the one where you have to go down to a school or a church or whatever and actually vote, and since there are often many undecided voters and because sometimes people change their minds when they get there among other factors, things tend to turn out differently than expected. So when you use iffy science to plan your methodical takedown of the villain you don’t want elected, it’s kind of like throwing blindfolded at a dart board. Maybe you’ll hit what you’re aiming at or maybe you’ll put a nice hole in the wall, who really knows? Not the strategic voting planners, it turns out.

The polls from the 2013 B.C. election are perhaps the most pertinent here. For a solid month, the Liberals trailed the NDP in every poll. On Election Day, Angus Reid—an established polling company—had the NDP at 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners, with the governing Liberals in second place with 36 per cent.  ThreeHundredEight.com projected 49 seats for the NDP, compared to just 35 for the Liberals. If ever anyone was a lock for the B.C. premiership, surely it was NDP leader Adrian Dix. “IF THIS MAN KICKED A DOG, HE’D STILL WIN THE ELECTION!” blared the front page of The Province. But the only poll that mattered told a different story: voters delivered 44.4 per cent of the popular vote and 50 of the province’s 85 seats to the Liberals; the NDP’s 39.5 per cent vote share and 34 seats were a poor consolation prize. (No word on how many dogs Adrian Dix kicked during the final hours of his campaign.)
Not exactly confidence-inspiring. I asked Vote Strategic BC (@votestrategicbc), which encourages anti-Liberal voters to engage in poll-based decision-making, “Could you tell me what makes these polls more reliable than the ones that predicted an NDP government at this time four years ago?” Their response was frank, if nothing else: “Nope. Just something to think about. Some of my data is past election results. Current % projections from @2closetocall.” I then posed the same question to Bryan Breguet at @2closetocall; he replied, “I wish I had a good answer but I don’t… at the end of the day, we can only hope.” He mentioned that the 2017 polls used different methodologies; whether those methodologies address the 2013 polls’ shortcomings (including failing to account for the 11 per cent of voters who made their decision on voting day) is a different matter.

I’ll say it again. Don’t waste your time on this stuff, you guys. It’s time better spent learning the candidates and the issues and making the choice that’s right for you. You’re probably not changing the world either way, but your odds are slightly better.

Fake Name, Real Fool

Today’s handy criminal tip: If you’re going to give a police officer a false name, maybe make sure you’re not still wearing the employee ID that has your real one on it.

Police say 24-year-old Keyonna M. Waters was reportedly parked in a fire lane at the Liberty Plaza Shopping Center when an officer on patrol made contact with her. When asked for her information, police say Waters gave a fake name. The officer, however, noticed that Waters was wearing a name tag from her job with the name “Keyonna Waters” on it. Running that name through the computer system confirmed her identify, police said.

The mystery of why she would be so eager to make up a name was also an easy one to solve, as the charges she was hit with included driving with a suspended or revoked license.

It Better Be A Good Prize If I’m Showing You That

This Oreo commercial is everywhere on TV lately, but no matter how many times I see it and how used to it I should be by now, the stupid thing catches me off guard every single time. Why? Well, just listen to the song.

I don’t care what the contest is called or what the title of the video is or what any of you might try to tell me, there’s no way in hell that fellow is singing anything other than “show your dong for a chance to win.” You can laugh and call it a misheard lyric all you want, but to me it’s a damn fact. My brain will accept no evidence to the contrary.