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Seriously Beware of Collectibles with Causes / Works of Life

30 Jan

warningSomebody claiming to be Cameron Arballo from Works of Life called both my wife’s and sister’s places of employment and left threatening messages saying that he knows where she/we/I live, amongst other creepy things.

I’ve never said anything about Mr Arballo. I’d only heard of him in comments other people left in response to the 2+ year old blog post about my less than smooth experience with Works of Life / Collectibles with Causes. There you’ll find other peoples’ tales and accusations, not mine. My story summarizes sketchy communication problems and delays I dealt with. Nothing more.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you don’t have a great experience with one of Cameron’s many charities, don’t say anything about it or he (or somebody claiming to be him) will threaten your family.

If you’ve had bad dealings with him or his charity, this guy is looking for evidence and would appreciate your help.

Ken Marrero
Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports, and Gaming
Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 8th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Office 615-253-4575 Fax 615-253-5173


7 May

dump-drumpfHere’s the thing. The Drumpf movement is just making fun of somebody’s name that changed when they immigrated to the United States. I have many friends with “weird” names, or whose Americanized/Anglicized names aren’t the names their ancestors had a few generations ago. Should we make fun of their names? Are they worth less because of their idiotic names?

It was suggested to me that the Drumpf movement had something to do with illustrating how crappy Trump’s stance on immigration is. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that subtext until yesterday while trying to defend “the movement”. …And the connection certainly never came up in the original John Oliver segment.

When John Oliver dug up Drumpf, he was looking for laughs, and a way to debase Donald Trump. There are so many better ways to poke at that asshole. It’s akin to birthers “making fun” of Barack Obama because of his name. Is that the best they’ve got?!

I will not defend Donald Trump’s words or stances, but we Trump detractors can do better than Drumpf.

It’s in the last three minutes of this segment. The previous 20 minutes are great.

2015 in review

31 Dec

2015 was dismal for blogging. The report’s well done though! If you’re a fan of data visualization, you’ll like it! Enjoy, and happy new year.  -DD

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.


Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Selling my comic books :(

18 Jul

forlorn-supesFile under boring, self-serving blog posts.

After more decades than I care to admit, I’m finally moving to another state and I don’t plan to haul my comic books with me.

1,679 comic books spanning more than 60 years.

This little link comics-for-sale-all takes you to a spreadsheet listing them all. Sort it as you will. Don’t judge me. Please share with comic collectors you know. I’m currently only looking for offers on the entire collection.

I’m willing to take a huge loss selling the collection in one fell swoop, but if I don’t get a good offer, I’ll sell the 100 or so most valuable comics individually on eBay and then donate the rest.

If you want me to expand this post to discuss materialism, letting go, and a history of lists–let me know 😉

Top 5 SEO Plugins for WordPress

17 Nov

What plugins do you add to WordPress installs for better SEO? Use the comments to let me know what’s missing from the list.

  • Platinum SEO Pack – It does auto 301 redirects, canonical URLs and plenty more.
  • Google xml sitemaps – Creates your sitemap.xml and updates it automatically. (Does not work with WP 3.0 multisite feature.)
  • nofollow post – Allows you to link to sites from your WordPress blog with rel=nofollow
  • All in One Webmaster – All of your Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo SiteExplorer and Bing Webmaster Central needs addressed in one plugin.
  • WP Supercache – Because speed matters, and WordPress can be a little heavy on the server resources, you need this plugin to make static post pages use fewer (if any) db calls.
  • Zemanta – Suggests tags, images, links and more to add spruce (and SEO juice) to your blog posts.

WordPress SEO Plugins

What do you think? Are there better plugins for WordPress SEO? Got any advice to help me count better? (I think there might be more than five SEO plugins in that list!)

Ideal Home Humidity

30 Apr

What is the ideal home humidity? If you like most in the US live in the temperate zones, summer humidity is fast approaching. Humidity is not just uncomfortable in your house, it can ruin even the most solidly built homes. Too much humidity in your home and mold runs rampant. So what is the ideal home humidity? In the summer, keep home humidity under 50% / fifty percent to keep comfort high and fungus at bay. Put a humidifier in your basement and you’ll be happy.

Ideal home humidity accomplishes several things

  • better air quality because of low spore count
  • save money from not running A/C as much
  • prevent mildew growth, prolonging the life of your home
  • stop sweating so damn much
  • etc.

Even if you have whole house air conditioning, you might need a dehumidifier in the basement. What about humidity in other parts of the house? The bathroom is the worst offender. If you don’t already have exhaust fans in your bathroom, install them now. Fans are cheap, and in these rocky economic times, a posting on craigslist will find you somebody to install it on the cheap. Let your fan run for 30 minutes after a shower to eliminate excess humidity. No more mold or mildew.

Get a sqweegee and wipe the shower walls down after you’re done cleaning your nasty self. It’s amazing how much water sticks on the walls of your shower. Get it to the drain to help control home humidity.

Mexican Drug Wars vs US Economy and Families

30 Mar

So after posting a few times about the Mexican drug war, I got to thinking about its possible cascading effects. I only wrote about this topic in response to questions I’d received from travelers. But how do the actions of the Mexican drug cartels influence jobs, families and the economy on this side of the border?

As if we didn’t already dump considerable wherewithal into the war on drugs during this unprecedented economic downturn, we’re now faced with the prospect of spending even more tax dollars on enforcement. But where does this money come from? “Tax dollars” is a little misleading, not because it’s a lie, but because of the consequences of hasty reallocation of stressed government resources.

When you take money from the budget to pay for more border patrols, million dollar X-ray equipment and helicopters, drug rehabilitation gets the poo end of the poo-stick. The families most in need of therapy and rehab find their drug recovery options shriveled or gone entirely. And it’s not just a story of a smackhead not getting her methadone. No, it cascades from there.

The labor force has now lost a worker to drugs. Health employees lose their jobs. Instead of receiving reformative care junkies resort to crime. Etc. Etc. I’m just riffing here, so I know I’m missing nuance. But the point is that the Mexican drug wars and our response to them are directly related to US jobs, families and economy.

What can you do? Until we adopt a sensible national drug policy, you can donate your time, money or words of support to drug addiction treatment centers. Our reactions to drugs should be based on the people hurt by them and our failed policies rather than the few parties who benefit from the sale of drugs.

Cabo Drug Cartels?

30 Mar

Got another question about Cabo San Lucas / San Jose del Cabo and the Mexican drug cartel violence the US media loves to trumpet lately. Is there a connection? Should I be worried if I’m travelling to Cabo? Will I be abducted by the Mexican Mafia and cut up into little pieces? No. No. No.

Here’s the latest Cabo querey

I am starting to get discouraged about my trip to Cabo since everyone is
telling me that I will likely be abducted by the Mexican Mafia and cut
into pieces.  I read most of your Cabo website, but not sure how long ago
that was posted.  How safe are things currently and what should I expect
in the first week of May?  I will continue to browse through your
website.  It has encouraged me to try and venture out to get a tasty

Anxious Traveler

Dear Anxious Traveler,

Everything you hear about Mexican drug cartels, drug violence, kidnappings, murders and the like almost always includes the following geo-modifying phrases: Nogales, Juarez, Tijuana, border town, etc. Cabo is about 1,000 curvy miles from the US border. It’s everything but a border town and a seriously solid two day drive to the US.

Drug cartels have no reason to focus effort on Cabo. Los Cabos should remain a peaceful tourist mecca even if the FUD about Mexico becoming a “failed state” is true. There’s too much clean money to be made in Cabo. The only thing to know about an early May Cabo trip is that you might catch the tail end of some spring breakers. If you’re on your spring break, that can be fun. If not, drunk teenagers might annoy you. Enjoy your trip!

– Dan Dreifort

Southland Tales and the Compact Fluorescent Lie

25 Mar

When I first watched Southland Tales on a seven inch screen late one night in bed… in Mexico, I knew I had to watch it again. On a 32″ screen I was able to appreciate more details of this oft maligned, sprawling film. Upon a third viewing, I still love it. It’s flawed… hundreds of negative reviews hit that, but at the expense of missing its poignancy and beauty. It’s a film in the truest sense of the word. If you think you “got it” from one viewing, you’re wrong. If you similarly dismissed it, your loss.

Do you watch “The Wire”? Avon Barksdale… he plays a supporting role in Southland Tales. Nutty. That’s just one of the interesting talent choices made by the casting department. The cast is ripe with seasoned comedic actors in non-comedic roles. They all do a great job. But this isn’t a movie review. I just  wanted to tell you to see it if you’re into disutopian science fiction and aren’t afraid of a complex story.

CF Bulbs

The real reason for this post is to expose the farce of compact fluorescent light bulbs. This one’s a little too long term for the Mythbusters so I’ll have to fill in. I’ve been using CF bulbs for years. Every light in my house that can be CF is a CF. They’re supposed to last several years, but they never do. I’ve bought half a dozen different brands, from GE to brands you’ve never heard of. They all fail. It doesn’t matter if they’re open to the air or enclosed in a fixture. Inside or outdoors. CF bulbs die after about a year or so of infrequent use.

Usually, their death is a stinky, caustic affair. The electronic balast dies a toxic premature death. The forensic evidence (apart from the odor) is melted plastic where the CF tube meets the bulb base.

So I pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for a bulb that usually supplies inferior light and lasts just as long as an incandescent bulb. What’s worse, CF bulbs use far more poluting chemicals. All this to save about 80% on my electric bill. Well, I did the math. It doesn’t save me anything. My wallet is lighter and the environment isn’t any safer. In fact, my big ugly environmental footprint is even bigger with CF bulbs.

Unless the batch of CF bulbs I bought today actually lasts more than two ‘years, I’m done with them. Fool me for ten years, shame on you. Fool me for a dozen…

To be fair, my home voltage is  about 125 volts. As high as that is, it’s not abnormal. If that’s why CF bulbs fail, (and I’ll look into it,) then at least I know. I just wish they’d say as much on the packaging next to the warning label saying, “warning: use of this product might cause a loss of darkness.” Don’t laugh. We’re only one lawsuit away from that waste of ink.

FCC Do Not Call List Idiocy

21 Mar

WARNING!! Something or other about your auto insurance.

BEWARE!! An issue with your credit  card…

The only reassuring bits of those two spammy phone calls is the part when the fembot on the other end of the phone divulges that this is their final attempt to contact you/me/unfortunate recipient of annoying robot phone call.

How to Make a Do Not Call List Complaint

After several similar calls over a few weeks, I stayed on the line until I got a human. Who kindly explained to me that they’re a big organization and that removing me from their call list wouldn’t be easy. (Why was I on this list in the first place?!) So I googled for do no call list complaint or something like that and got to a FCC page similar to but not as userfriendly as this hand FCC do not call violation report form. (Here’s the more convoluted fcc do not call complaint form I initially found.)

So far so good. Filled it out. A few days later, having completely forgotten about robot calls I received an envelope from the FCC. I was  a little scared. That’s right. Dan Dreifort owns parts of a couple of ISPs and creates a lot of crappy web content, so I flattered myself into thinking the FCC caught me in some unintentional gaffe. It didn’t get better when I opened it and saw that the missive was sent from the FCC complaints division. *gulp*

Government Waste

Naturally, it was just six pages of information about my do not call complaint. Good, but not great. Why would they send me three pages front and back via USPS when I submitted my complaint online and provided them my email address? (At least they printed on both sides of the paper…) So I’m going to complain to the FCC again. But this time, I’m saying something like, “Hey, you could save a lot of taxpayer money if you’d send email confirmations instead of killing trees and buying postage.”

Who the hell expects a written response when filling out a form online? Let’s hope Obama’s administration will realize the potential savings of bringing the FCC into the internet age. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a userfriendly form for me to use. Maybe I’ll write them a letter.

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Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

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