People are incomprehensible. I just got off the phone with someone who called up because they couldn't get connected to the internet. They had a specific error message (error 678) that comes from doing thing correctly to connect. I had them restart the computer and wanted them to try connecting again. We then had to spend 15 minutes helping her find the connect to icon, as well as internet explorer. I just want to scream "how the #&)@ did you get nearly connected the first time!". It's like the people that have a specific problem with their email, and you ask them to go into their email, and they have no clue. The forgetfullness demon strikes again! (It's like "who put this box here?" *silence "nobody then.. good to go").


(11:37:20) Squegie: so you're really lying.. you're not laughing out loud... are you !?!
(11:37:26) Martie : not usually
(11:37:37) Martie : i could put qlol
(11:38:01) Squegie: qlol... i like it


This was quite a weekend. Thursday started off like any other day.. get up, go to work, leave work. The change came when I got close to home and I decided on a whim to try and call up an old friend of mine (by old, I don't necessarily mean that she is older than me) and actually got ahold of her. We talked and caught up on news till I stopped in the local BPs for some Chester Fried Chicken... the bomb* (*not affiliated with BPs or Chester Fried), where we talked some more before I could even order my chicken, and I got invited out to a biscuit and pepsi party, which got me mightily excited, as you can imagine. So of course, I go. Now, I should point out that my friend's name is Alice, her sister (who is also a friend) is Sarah, and Sarah is dating a guy that shares my first name, so Alice occasionally uses that coincidence to play mischevious pranks upon Sarah.
In any event, I arrive at the B&P party and we begin the movie watching event. By and by, in walks... Sarah's boyfriend, and we are introduced (this being the first time we have met). We eye each other up for a minute, and simultaneously he says "Hoagie!" as I exclaim "Griffith!" and we slap each other on the back. Alice and Sarah are wide-eyed with disbelief and disillusion. At this point, I should explain that I occasionally go by the nickname "Hoagie", and this "Griffith" character is actually my twin brother, born in different cities, and... to different parents. I haven't seen him in 4 years... until now.

As you can imagine, there was much rejoicing... much quoting of Monty Python and Emporor's New Groove ("Now what are the odds of that happening?" "And there was much rejoicing... Yay! waves flag"), and much B&P consumption till we eventually decided around 3am to head our seperate ways.

We didn't do much on Friday due to the imminent return of "the parents", but on Saturday we went to watch The Passion, which is quite a good movie. This was my first viewing of The Passion, (the first for all of us), so that was worthwhile. Again, the group (we're forming a sort of scooby gang) remained together till about 2am before going our respective ways. Sunday was my day of rest, and now this morning I awoke at 6am, much to my dismay. Otherwise, a blissful weekend with relaxation being the key.


Scan the cafeteria for some good seating.
Found a spot by the cheerleaders eating.
The quarterback asked me if I'd like a beating.
I said that's one thing... I won't be needing.
And since I am so smart and cunning... I took off down the next hall running.
Relient K rocks

So I took a look at my phone bill today. The total came to $179.12, which is slightly more than I'm used to paying (~$54). Intrigued I check out page 6 where I find two charges from ESBI which stands for Enhanced Services Billing Inc. They were billing on behalf of WebXites and had two charges of 49.95 each, for a total of $99.90. On top of this was a federal tax of $3.00 along with a state tax of %5.99 which (for those of you that are too lazy to use a calculator) comes to $108.89. "Aha" you say "that explains everything." Not quite. I've never heard of esbi or webxites, and I have no clue why I am being charged a "webxites gold mo fee". They provided the number 1-800-300-3724 for me to call, but surprisingly, they are closed. Also, on page 7 I have a charge from OAN billing on behalf of Nationwide Connect, Inc (which is also closed today) for $6.25 in "Direct dial charge".

Sprint (my favorite local telco {think about that for a moment}) was open, and I did get these charges placed in dispute, meaning I don't have to pay them for 60 days, which further means that I have that many days to get the charging companies to credit my bill.

Also, I have (or am supposed to have) a plan with sprint long distance for $0.06/minute but was actually getting charged $0.27/minute. This was actually easily resolved by calling sprint long distance up and making them see the errors of their ways. They had record of my original plan request (because I had record of it) and were able to issue credit for the price difference and switch my lines over the new plan. By this time, I had spent well over an hour with the various factions of Sprint. However, I had also been doing research on the internet and found that Nationwide Connect, Inc was basically a company that charges people for collect calls as soon as they answer the phone, and for the length of time you are on the phone (with silence playing on their end). This allows your answering machine to take the call for you. Brilliant. So, it's back on the phone to Sprint to ask about anyway of blocking these 3rd party billing people. Well, there isn't, at least not in my area. It seems it takes a state law in order to prevent from being charged for these "services". I think that a telephone
customer should have the option to prevent the local telco from billing them on behalf of 3rd party vendors. Basically, this affects local telephone service, and having over $100 in charges on your local telephone bill for things that have nothing to do with telephone service has the potential of being very damaging. Telco's allow for blocking of 900# service, why not this third party billing? The only third party that should be allowed to bill me via my local telco should be my official long distance provider, which in this case is currently sprint long distance. Previously, it was MCI (which actually billed me seperately from my local telco). However, the difference is that your local telco KNOWS who your long distance provider is because they route your calls through them. Everyone else is most likely a slightly unscrupulous company, and I would rather not do business with them. If I want web hosting or site design, I would like my hosting provider/site designer bill me with a regular invoice, and I will pay it with a check or credit card. Just don't mess with my telephone.


For anyone watching the news (as it relates to Iraq) recently, you may start to notice something. In previous months (ie, between August and now), you may have hear reports like "soldiers picked off by drive by shooters" or "car bomb kill 4 coalition forces." Well, my guys (I'm talking Marines here), went back into country this last month. The headlines now read "Marines are engaged in heavy fighting across the region" or "Marines get into firefight with rebels, destroy wall in the process." If you recall, when we were there the first time, we beat the enemy into submission on our way to Baghdad, in a massive display of "shock and awe". Then, we patrolled the streets as we waited for the other coalition forces to setup. When that was done, we showed them around and handed it over. Since then, things have fallen to pieces. Now, we're going back in and we're going to kick some serious ass. You're going to see a lot more of Marine instigated battles over the next few weeks, and a lot less opposition. We may not stop a 5,000 year old blood feud, but we can put down an uprising. The bad side of this is that we're seeing the Marine Corps being dragged into the role of being an occupational force, which isn't supposed to be our job. We are a first-strike force for "when it absolutely, positively, has to be destroyed overnight."

In other news, closer to home, I've shut down my business in preparation for my upcoming deployment in about two months time. I'm done with spending every waking minute working on one thing or another. I'm going to relax between now and then, and I will have a good time. I've met a few new people recently, there's Shelly who doesn't actually live too far from me and is pretty darn cool to talk to. A lot of people I meet are dull and uninteresting. Let's see. Also interesting is starburst, the surfer girl from Florida. Andie is pretty cool, currently working 3 jobs. And there was Katie (aka "Kitten"), but she got dissapointed when she said that I "don't look like my picture" as she compared one picture of me to another picture of me. Apparently, in one picture, I appear to be a buff Asian guy. She was dissapointed that I wasn't and I haven't really heard from her yet. Talking with other people, I discover I do have "an Asian thing" going on. So, I think that I should start telling people that I am, indeed, Asian, a refugee from the militaristic country of Myanmar and I could even go as far as making up a story about my journey to the us, how I joined the Marines so i could repay this country for the freedom it gave me. I could finish it up by creating an entire site devoted to my asian life, complete with those pics that portray me in an asian lite.

Oh, and I am now the owner of an '88 VW Fox. Next week I will be getting the lasik done, so I will get rid of the glasses. All in the name of self-improvement. Sometime between now and deployment in June, I need to acquire a laptop at a very cheap price (800+mhz, dvd-rom, and at least a 10GB hard drive) that I will setup as a dual-boot between linux and winxp pro. I will then load it up with all sorts of developemt and server software, and in between high-pitched firefights, I will attempt to create some programs in Iraq.

Well, that pretty much covers this update, I'm sure more will come (they always do).