And they say outer space is a hostile environment…

Some days it feels just like this.

  • The plug and the USB are always the wrong way.
  • The thing you are looking for will always be somewhere else.
  • Small, critical things you drop will roll to the most inaccessible place possible, or be lost forever.
  • The drill bit you need will be the only one missing.
  • Your foot will always find that one Lego™
  • Your toast will always land face down, especially when coated with honey.
  • Drawer handles will jump out and grab you.
  • The child will always start throwing up at 2:00 AM
  • Beams will crack you on the head no matter how low you think you’re stooping.
  • The cat will vomit in your shoe.
  • Furniture legs will inexplicably move when your little toe comes near.
  • You will trip on your shadow (Really! there was nothing else there!)
  • Dental work will be done poorly, and you will have to go back.

And whether or not you believe in biorhythms, sometimes all of the above seem to happen in a single day.

When it feels like the universe is verifiably out to mess my existence up, I strive to recall the original quote from Jenkin Lloyd Jones:

Life’s Expectations

“There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks, to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and ravishing wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear, the divorce courts are jammed.

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise….

“Life is like an old-time rail journey — delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Or I eat macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is good too.

Ṯ͔̪̟̫͇͕̘͕̥͓̞̮̩̝͕̹͈̗́͠h̡͏̜̞̦͔̣̤̲͖͉̗͖͈̘̝͙͕̗͟͡è̦̫͙̪̗̹͙̦̺̺͕͖͞͞ ҉͞͞҉͔̲͔̜̝͚͍̯̙̞͓͔̻͚̤̯̦O̶̦͙̫͔͚̰̳͕͚͙̹͡ĺ̶̰̼̮̗̬̱̻̩̲̺̞͙̣͚̯́́͜d҉̸̨͇̬̮͉̦̫̥̥̪̝̖̠̗̺̮͓͈ ̸͡҉̯̯̼̬͖̲͙̲͚̙͞Ẁ̥͍̜̞͍̙̗͉͉͙̭͔̤͇͈̻̰̖͞ò̴̡͓͈̩̱̪̖̗̀l̵̳͉̼̮̟͞f̷̷̶̡̦͙̫̪̫͓̯̰̮͕̬̟̹͖̤̭̦͚̕ ̶̧̠̰̹̺̜̩͕̳̲̙̲̤̥͞h̢͎̟͖͔̗͎̙͓̹͓̦̱̝̩̯͓̀͟ͅá̡̦͓̮̗̙̜̲̜͢͡͠s̬͔̹̩̦̼͇̭̳͕̖̞̤͈͎͎͞͞ͅͅ ̸̫̩͉̝̰̫̭͇̠̮̘̭̘̪͘̕͢͡s̶̰̼͇͠p̢̡͚͔̣͓͔͔̭̺̝͔̻͕̞͓̱̫̝͘͜ͅͅǫ̸̡̺̪͎̻̣͜k̮̬̳͈͖͘̕͠e҉̦̮̯̲̗̱͍̫̠̘̰̲̪̲͘ͅn̸̸͇̦̖̳̱̗͎͍̤͇̮͙͉̩̬͕͢.̶͖̹̗͍͕̘̰̹͎͚͎̖̮̥́ͅ

Maine’s Implied Warranty Law

Implied-Warranty-1-e1519143773204

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. For legal advice, consult your legal professional.

In light of merchants and sellers practicing deceptive douchebaggery (an Apple dealer, for instance, quoting $1,200.00 to repair a MacBook Pro that was one year out of warranty), it’s a good idea for consumers to check their state statutes.

The state of Maine has a very rigorous implied warranty law.

“It stipulates that regardless of manufacturer warranty, any item purchased new in this state must function normally for the normal expected lifespan of the item under normal usage, and the onus is on the manufacturer or reseller to prove abuse. For computers that is typically 3-5 years. It’s taken seriously enough here that there is a form on the attorney general’s website you can fill out to trigger an automatic complaint. This complaint is actually followed up on, and the consequence for outright refusal is loss of the right to operate in the state.” (With thanks to redditor /u/ijustwanttobejess).

If you download the actual statute, it’s very enlightening. The official summary:

A. Maine’s implied warranty law applies to all new or used consumer goods that are sold by merchants, except for used cars.
B. Used car dealers are allowed to disclaim implied warranty rights and typically do so on the car’s Used Car Information window sticker.
C. The Maine implied warranty law offers the following protection: if you have been sold a seriously defective product or component, even if the product has exceeded its express warranty period, then both the seller and the manufacturer can be required to repair it for you free of charge. In order to prove a breach of implied warranty you must be able to prove within the first four years from date of sale, that:
(1) The item has a serious manufacturer’s defect;
(2) You have not abused the item; and
(3) The product (or defective component of the product) is still within its useful life
(useful life will normally extend at the most four years from the time of sale).
D. It is an unfair trade practice for a merchant (except a used car dealer) to attempt to disclaim verbally or in writing your implied warranty rights and to thereby limit your rights to an express warranty.
E. Implied warranty rights and express warranty rights are often automatically transferred to second buyers.
F. If an item is defective, you should take it back to the dealer and let the dealer arrange the repairs. You should not have to be responsible for returning it to the manufacturer.

What’s more, the question of “useful life” is treated in detail (there’s more in the full document, this is just an extract)

Appliance              Low       High      Average
Dishwasher             5         14        10
Dryer, electric        12        16        14
Freezer, standard      10        22        16
Furnace, warm-air, oil 7.5       40        20
Microwave oven         5         14        11
Range, electric        10        30        17
Refrigerator           10        20        17
Washer                 12        14        13
Water heater, electric 10        18        14

 

To cite a personal example, if I toddle down to the local home-improvement store and buy a fridge, by law there’s no real reason for me to buy that extended warranty that they offer – the store, not the manufacturer, is responsible for making sure that fridge works right for at least the low end of its expected life, which is 10 years.

As they say, the devil is in the details, and lodging a complaint with the Attorney General for failure to honor implied warranty is, to me, the “thermonuclear option” – it’s there to protect consumers from gross negligence or insouciance. As a result, for the last two referigerators we bought I did get that extended warranty, because most repairmen I have spoken with have been united on the fact that ice-makers are mostly crap, and are prone to break down regularly. Both times that warranty paid for itself multiple times over in saved repair costs. It’s faster than going the legal route, saves endless hassle, and is worth the small extra expense. But that’s the only appliance I’ve ever used one for.

I chuckled to read that used-car dealers are exempt from voiding implied warranty, but there’s a certain amount of sense in that. Even the honest ones (there may be one or two) have no way of knowing what might let go next week on that sweet deal they just sold you.

bad-used-cars-lot-1-1024x579

But the takeaway here is that depending on your state, you may not be without recourse when a dealer thinks they have you by the short hairs. Check your state statutes, because forewarned is forearmed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

I know I’m not crazy

Remember Nik-L-Nips? (You could also buy a box of 8 called 10¢ Nips, but the name will always stick in my memory.)

Wax-758x398

Mentioned these here earlier, and since then found a great blog post about many other kinds of wax candy at Do You Remember, including the “glow stick” kind and the “six-shooter,” which was full of enough syrup for a day’s buzz.

But I remember one that appeared in 1961, the same year as “Atlantis, the Lost Continent.”

Atlantis2

That movie featured a crystal death ray, that did unpleasant things to everything and everyone on whom its deadly beam was focused.

Atlantis 3

Like turning them into instructional medical skeletons.

But that small detail aside, across the street from my home on Prince Street in New York City, in 1961, was one of those wonderful old-style variety stores that had comics and candy and hardware and just about anything else a kid might revel in.

Including these syrup-filled wax candies that looked just like that crystal engine of destruction. I swear it. I bought a lot of them. No trace of their existence seems to remain on the Internet, but I know they existed. I’m not crazy.

If anyone else remembers these, do leave a comment so I can rest easy knowing it wasn’t all an opium dream.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Patriotism is not Nationalism.

I categorically reject the concept that I do not love my country because I support “Change it or lose it” instead of “Love it or leave it.”

1200px-EcologyTheta.svgThe Ecology Flag

Our inhuman horror of a president, a spoiled, rich, unethical businessman and game show host, has proven again and again that he believes women are property that he can abuse as he pleases; that blacks and Mexicans are sub-human and should be removed from the country; that Muslims are undesirables who have no place in America; and that the poor and the sick should die and reduce the surplus population rather than drain the profits of his rich cronies.

It is *because* I love my country, and its Constitution, and by extension the flag and anthem which symbolize these things, that I support protests against the ongoing racism and injustice that are endemic in our society.

I respect my country far more than you do, Mr. Racist-in-Chief, by demanding change and supporting the oppressed and sidelined of our nation.

Wrapping yourself in the flag and screaming “Respect it or get out!” is the kind of attitude that allowed World War II to happen. I will not allow history to repeat itself in that matter, not in this country or under this Constitution.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Literacy Test: “I can make out the headline”

“Story of the Negro who went to register. The white man taking his application gave him the standard literacy tests: “What is the 32nd paragraph of the United States Constitution?” he asked. The applicant answered perfectly. “Name the eleventh president of the United States and his entire cabinet.” The applicant answered correctly. Finally, unable to trip him up, the white man asked, “Can you read and write?” The applicant wrote his name and was the handed a newspaper in Chinese to test his reading. He studied it carefully for a time. “Well, can you read it?” “I can read the headline, but I can’t make out the body text.” Incredulous, the white man said, “You can read that headline?” “Oh yes, I’ve got the meaning all right.” “What’s it say?” “It says this is one Negro in Mississippi who’s not going to get to vote this year.” ”

-John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me

Voter suppression was long an approved tactic in the South to keep people of color from voting; “Southern states abandoned the literacy test only when forced to do so by federal legislation in the 1960s.” (Wikipedia)

395px-The_color_line_still_exists—in_this_case_cph.3b29638.jpg

Now we have the state of Georgia trying to implement an “exact match” rule that requires that citizens’ names on their government-issued IDs must precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls.

The state maintains that this is an attempt to reduce voter fraud, but individual voter fraud is largely a myth, and the odds of its occurrence is vanishingly small. I for one cannot count the number of times my name has been misspelled on official documents, especially because it’s not your vanilla white anglo-saxon protestant name like Smith or Jones.  Research by Ted Enamorado with colleagues Ben Fifield and Kosuke Imai have shown that this “exact match” rule could potentially disenfranchise around 900,000 voters in the state of Georgia, and that’s troubling in the extreme.

The right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution. Governments interested in free and fair elections should be doing all they can  to make it easy for people to register and vote, up to and including making election day a national holiday, and implementing universal, automatic voting registration through the DMV and/or other entities.

Gerrymandering remains a terrible, terrible problem. The Electoral College and the existence of superdelegates cloud what should be a straightforward one-person one-vote election process. While the US has traditionally ranked high on a comparative scale of free and fair elections worldwide, cracks are beginning to appear in the structure, particularly with evidence of wholesale foreign influence via electronic disinformation campaigns, as well as direct foreign influence-peddling at the highest levels of our government.

Vote_Like_The_World_Depends_on_it_TW.jpg

… because it does.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

The face of depression

This is what depression can look like.

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  1. Kurt Cobain
  2. Chester Bennington
  3. Whitney Houston
  4. Mac Miller
  5. Robin Williams
  6. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
  7. Chris Farley
  8. Marilyn Monroe
  9. Amy Winehouse
  10. Chris Cornell
  11. Ernest Hemingway
  12. Lucy Gordon
  13. Simone Battle
  14. Layne Staley
  15. Gia Allemand
  16. Anthony Bourdain

Some of these people ended their lives deliberately, others by drug overdose that may or may not have been intentional. But their pictures belie what was going on inside – they were hurting.

While many of the comments in the reddit thread where I found this were insensitive and cruel, a few were on point:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
-Robin Williams

“I wanted to write down exactly what I felt but somehow the paper stayed empty and I could not have described it any better.”
-Unknown

And an essay on depression that spoke more eloquently to me than much else on the subject (slightly bowdlerized):

Depression
Author Unknown

“When you have depression it’s like it snows every day.

Some days it’s only a couple of inches. It’s a pain in the ass, but you still make it to work, the grocery store. Sure, maybe you skip the gym or your friend’s birthday party, but it IS still snowing and who knows how bad it might get tonight. Probably better to just head home. Your friend notices, but probably just thinks you are flaky now, or kind of an asshole.

Some days it snows a foot. You spend an hour shoveling out your driveway and are late to work. Your back and hands hurt from shoveling. You leave early because it’s really coming down out there. Your boss notices.

Some days it snows four feet. You shovel all morning but your street never gets plowed. You are not making it to work, or anywhere else for that matter. You are so sore and tired you just get back in the bed. By the time you wake up, all your shoveling has filled back in with snow. Looks like your phone rang; people are wondering where you are. You don’t feel like calling them back, too tired from all the shoveling. Plus they don’t get this much snow at their house so they don’t understand why you’re still stuck at home. They just think you’re lazy or weak, although they rarely come out and say it.

Some weeks it’s a full-blown blizzard. When you open your door, it’s to a wall of snow. The power flickers, then goes out. It’s too cold to sit in the living room anymore, so you get back into bed with all your clothes on. The stove and microwave won’t work so you eat a cold Pop Tart and call that dinner. You haven’t taken a shower in three days, but how could you at this point? You’re too cold to do anything except sleep.

Sometimes people get snowed in for the winter. The cold seeps in. No communication in or out. The food runs out. What can you even do, tunnel out of a forty foot snow bank with your hands? How far away is help? Can you even get there in a blizzard? If you do, can they even help you at this point? Maybe it’s death to stay here, but it’s death to go out there too.

The thing is, when it snows all the time, you get worn all the way down. You get tired of being cold. You get tired of hurting all the time from shoveling, but if you don’t shovel on the light days, it builds up to something unmanageable on the heavy days. You resent the hell out of the snow, but it doesn’t care, it’s just a blind chemistry, an act of nature. It carries on regardless, unconcerned and unaware if it buries you or the whole world.

Also, the snow builds up in other areas, places you can’t shovel, sometimes places you can’t even see. Maybe it’s on the roof. Maybe it’s on the mountain behind the house. Sometimes, there’s an avalanche that blows the house right off its foundation and takes you with it. A veritable Act of God, nothing can be done. The neighbors say it’s a shame and they can’t understand it; he was doing so well with his shoveling.

I don’t know how it went down for Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade. It seems like they got hit by the avalanche, but it could’ve been the long, slow winter. Maybe they were keeping up with their shoveling. Maybe they weren’t. Sometimes, shoveling isn’t enough anyway. It’s hard to tell from the outside, but it’s important to understand what it’s like from the inside.

I firmly believe that understanding and compassion have to be the base of effective action. It’s important to understand what depression is, how it feels, what it’s like to live with it, so you can help people both on an individual basis and a policy basis. I’m not putting heavy [stuff] out here to make your Friday morning suck. I know it feels gross to read it, and realistically it can be unpleasant to be around it, that’s why people pull away.

I don’t have a message for people with depression like “keep shoveling”. It’s asinine. Of course you’re going to keep shoveling the best you can, until you physically can’t, because who wants to freeze to death inside their own house? We know what the stakes are. My message is to everyone else. Grab a [] shovel and help your neighbor. Slap a mini snow plow on the front of your truck and plow your neighborhood. Petition the city council to buy more salt trucks, so to speak.

Depression is blind chemistry and physics, like snow. And like the weather, it is a mindless process, powerful and unpredictable with great potential for harm. But like climate change, that doesn’t mean we are helpless. If we want to stop losing so many people to this disease, it will require action at every level.”

There is no one description of depression. There is no packaged solution for depression. While I’ve never dealt with clinical depression personally, I’ve lived with people who do, and my takeaways are fairly basic:

  1. Depression is real.
  2. Platitudes don’t help anything, and usually make things worse: “Snap out of it!” “What’s your problem?” “You need a boy/girlfriend.” A list of 100 things not to say.
  3. The best thing you can say is something like “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you”… and then do it.

battle

Kindness is never wasted, never amiss, never the wrong thing. A kind word or a smile to a stranger might just save a life that day.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Marketing by Deception Threedux

I’ve written about the auto dealer “You’ve Won a Prize” scam before. Today I happened to be driving past Rockland Ford in Thomaston, Maine with one of their flyers in my hand, and since a $5.00 WalMart gift card is better than a sharp stick in the eye if I’m in the area anyway, I dropped in.

ford

(Click image for a larger view)

The flyer states pretty plainly that I’ve won a “car, hotel and gas card.” But as usual, the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away:

The number  that you matched does not give you a choice, but an opportunity to win a prize.

If you’re not sure, this means “the number you scratched off means nothing at all.” The only number that means anything is the one after “official registered #”, which in my case is 129,280. Odds of winning the WalMart gift card are 499,994:499,999, meaning that’s what you’ll get. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the $500.00 one. It isn’t.

The salesman I spoke to insisted that the advert wasn’t deceptive at all, and I should just read the fine print. Well, I’ve lived long enough to know that bait-and-switch is a scummy tactic, and is usually covered up with the most barely-legal douchebaggery the attorneys can dig up.

Yes, as long as the “final deal” is spelled out somewhere, they can claim that customers had access to all aspects of the promotion and it’s legal. But I ask you: how many people walk away from the encounter disappointed and with a sour taste in their mouth about the dealership? How likely are they to want to buy a car from a dealer that uses such tactics to get people in the door? People who run these enterprises ought to give that a thought.

But they won’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.