Phone menus mainly waste your time

My heart sinks when I call a company and get the beginnings of a phone menu that requires a series of voice responses or punching in numbers on the keyboard. The reason is that when I call, it is usually because the problem I have cannot be answered by an automated system and requires a human, so I do whatever it takes to short-circuit the system to get one. There is even a website that tells you how to do it for many companies.
[Read more…]

“No milkshake for you!” What happens at the Bohemian Grove

When people refer to the ‘old boys network’, they usually think of gatherings in boardrooms, country clubs, and the like. But there is a weird variation of it that is less well known and that is the Bohemian Club that takes place for two weeks annually at a place called the Bohemian Grove. A sociological study of the club suggests that at these gatherings very little plotting and scheming takes place. In fact, such things are actively discouraged. What is encouraged is drinking and playfulness bordering on the downright gross and ridiculous. What that does is build social cohesion among the movers and shakers in society, because when men (and it is open only to men) let their hair down and act silly in a group, it apparently creates bonds among them.
[Read more…]

Please help this astronaut return from space

Pretty much everyone has received the offer to take part in what has become known as the ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam, that is also known as the Nigerian 419 scam. This takes the form of a letter asking the recipient to agree to be a partner in getting a huge amount of money out of that country that, for whatever reason, cannot be done any other way. All that you have to do is give them your bank account number and they will wire the money to you, you keep a hefty portion of the money, and send the rest to another account. Of course, all they want is access to your bank account so that they can drain it.
[Read more…]

Amazing art perspective

I am terrible at art and have always been so, partly due to serious lack of talent and partly due to having had no training at all. The art classes we had in elementary school back in Sri Lanka were viewed largely as fun time where we drew whatever we liked and got almost no feedback on how to make it better. This ignorance of art has not prevented me from having an immense respect for the abilities of artists and their fertile imaginations.
[Read more…]

How to remove unwanted intrusions from scenic photos

So there you are in front of the Taj Mahal or some other tourist site and you want to take a photograph of it. Unfortunately other people also like these sites and wander across the frame of the photo as you are setting up. Some will notice you and be considerate enough to wait for you to finish or walk behind you but most will be oblivious that they are ruining your shot.
[Read more…]