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How To Cancel Timeshare Promotional Vacation

Walt-Disney-World-Magic-KingdomI’m not typically this much of a sucker, but a telemarketer recently convinced me to book a three night stay in Orlando. It was a timeshare promotion. You know the drill. If you agree to sit through a presentation during your vacation, they’ll give you a big discount on your hotel and Disney tickets.

It didn’t take long to regret my purchase. I don’t even want to go to Disney World. Surely, they’ll just refund my money… Right?

Nope! I checked the terms & conditions (which may be the first time I’ve ever done that). “No Refunds” it said. In fact, if I actually did cancel, they’d charge me the full price of the entire package!

Whaaa! I found myself frantically Googling a way out. But Google failed me. There were plenty of results, but everyone said it was impossible.

But I would not be bested. I picked up the phone:

Hilton: “Hello, Hilton Grand Vacations…”
Me: “Hi, I just booked a promotional stay at one of your hotels, and I had a question.”
Hilton: “Ok, I’d be happy to answer that for you.”
Me: “When I was asked my income earlier, I told the salesman my current household income. But, my wife is quitting her job to stay home with our son, and I just wanted to make sure we were still eligible.”
Hilton: “Is this Steve?”
Me: “[surprised] yes…”
Hilton: “Steve, would you mind holding please.”
Me: “ok”
[15 minutes later]
Hilton: “Sir?”
Me: “Yes, I’m here.”
Hilton: “Sorry for the wait. I have cancelled your reservation, and refunded the payment to your American Express. Unfortunately, you no longer qualify for this promotion.”
Me: “Oh no. Really?”
Hilton: “Yes, I’m sorry.”
Me: “Oh… Ok. Thanks for your time.”

Yes! Didn’t even have to lie… though if you googled your way to this article, your actual circumstances may not be quite as well suited for this tactic… no lying guys! :)

CategoryDIY / How To
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Babies Have 6 Kidneys?

A friend’s doctor told her that babies have 6 kidneys. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, and as a product of the Information Age, I wasn’t about to take the doctor’s word for it. So I consulted the one place I know to be trustworthy. The Internet.

Just as I thought, babies don’t have six kidneys. But the doctor was actually right. Hmm … ponder that paradox for a moment…

Ok, ready to move on?

This was a classic game of telephone. What the doctor actually said was probably to the effect of, “Fetuses develop three sets of kidneys.” That doesn’t mean they have six all at the same time – which is how my friend (or maybe just I) interpreted it. The kidneys develop in three stages. You can see an animation of it here.

The fact is, even if I’d understood what the doctor was saying, I still wouldn’t have believed it. It’s pretty weird … and if you don’t think so, you didn’t watch the video … and if you still don’t think so, you’re probably just smarter than me.

CategoryScience Tagged , ,
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Tums As Candy

I don’t get heartburn often, but when I do, I eat way more Tums than I need. I can’t help myself. They’re delicious.

“Why wait for the heartburn?” I found myself wondering. What if I just ate Tums like candy?

It turns out there is good reason not to. They aren’t inherently dangerous, but they do they’re job well. They neutralize stomach acids, which in turn, makes it harder for us to digest food properly. It also makes us more susceptible to food-born pathogens that would typically be killed in our stomachs.

So if you find yourself craving fruit flavored chalkboard dust as much as I do, you might want to make sure you’ve mustered up a good belly full of bile before throwing back the antacids.

CategoryFood Tagged , ,
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Uncapitalize Text

While designing a website, I was challenged with figuring out how to uncapitalize several paragraphs of text that our client had mysteriously decided to type in all caps. The trick was to bring it into Microsoft Word, highlight the text and hit Shift+F3 twice. Perfect. Thanks Google… and Microsoft, I guess.

CategoryDIY / How To Tagged , ,
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Did Businessmen Drink At Work In The 60′s?

Mad Men drink all day.
In client focused settings,
this was typical.

Stuff I Haiku-gle:
A series where heart-warming poetry describes the results of a search. Tagged , ,
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Polite Way to Ask Someone to Stop Emailing You

Over the summer, my friend Patty suggested an emergent club that might interest me.  She put me in touch with the group’s president, who was enthusiastic with a capital E. He told me he’d be happy to add me to their mailing list. I responded that I was looking forward to meeting him in person at Tuesday’s meeting, and that Patty had given me all the details I needed to get there. I guess, technically, on the subject of the mailing list. . . I never actually said no.

Here we are, early April, and I’m still receiving 3-4 emails a week regarding the study sessions, meeting minutes and upcoming potluck dinners of a group that I attended exactly once. Such is my luck that not one of these emails has featured an unsubscribe button. I don’t want to burn any bridges here, so I Googled, “What is a polite way to ask someone to stop emailing you?”

The top hits fell into two categories: 1. Just hit the unsubscribe button, you silly girl. And 2. Sometimes in life, you have to suck it up and tell a friend not to send you so many forwards. But if you’re really struggling, here’s a service that will pass on the message anonymously. This doesn’t really solve my dilemma. But maybe some of you have an aunt or co-worker who could use a friendly reminder.

CategoryLiving Tagged , ,
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Jaleel White Controversy

I once sent a letter to Jaleel White.  That’s right…out of all the celebrities I could have chosen to look up to as a third grader, I chose a gimmicky character actor with an alter-ego that wasn’t much better.  How did a track down his address, you ask?  Why through a book of celebrity addresses I purchased at the scholastic book fair, of course! I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I received a post card about a year later, albeit mass-produced, although by that time as a 4th grader I had set my sights higher on actors of a finer caliber—you know, like Ug.

However, Jaleel/Steve/SteFAHN will always hold a special place in the part of my heart I reserve for D-list celebrities, so when I heard about his recent controversy on Dancing With the Stars, I was concerned.  My first thought was that he must have gotten a little too frisky with his assigned pro partner, when in fact he got a bit violent. Like Myra and Laura Winslow cat fight violent. “Sources” say that White snapped under the DWTS pressure during Friday’s rehearsal and took it out on his pro. “Sources” also say that White will not be speaking to the public on this matter and has chosen instead to release a brief statement.

CategoryPeople Tagged , , , ,
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Easter Egg Design Ideas

If it’s Easter and you’re not decorating eggs, you are probably one of these things:

  1. Lazy.
  2. A Scrooge.
  3. Vegan (see #2).
  4. Physically handicapped. I’m sorry.

It’s a fun friends and family event and makes for some healthy competition. I always like to get a leg up on my opponents by having a couple fresh design ideas in my back pocket. This year, I found these neat printing press inspired eggs that are fairly simple to make. Have fun rubbing your victory in all of your loved one’s faces.

I also came across this tutorial (embedded below) on how to make felt eggs. They would make great bonus eggs in an Easter egg hunt. Just stuff a few Hamiltons in there before sealing it up, and the finder will have the added joy of trying to liberate their cash with a sharp blade. Perfect for young kids.

If you try either one of these ideas, let me know how it turns out because there is a chance I won’t be using either of them this year (see #1).

CategoryDIY / How To Tagged , ,
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Man Flies With Bird Wings

A few weeks ago there was a story on the Today show about a man who created a machine that let him fly by flapping giant motorized wings. Amazed, I watched him do what I had frequently daydreamed of as a child (read: adult), and wondered how long it would be until I could give it a go.

Today, I was reminded of the story, and as I looked it up to show my wife, I came across a sad update. It was all a hoax. I guess until someone invents real bird wings I could spend my time trying to make friends with someone who owns one of these things.

CategoryHow it Works Tagged , ,
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Is Moldy Cheese Ok To Eat?

Ew, my cheese has mold.
Stay calm and scrape that shit off.
You should be alright.

Stuff I Haiku-gle:
A series where heart-warming poetry describes the results of a search. Tagged , ,
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Why Does Gold Give You Bruises?

This is probably not something that I should be advertising on the general interweb, but I have some serious gold.

Not like, Scrooge McDuck goes swimming gold. But I have a 1910 gold sovereign from England, strung on a gold chain. My grandfather gave it to my grandmother and now I wear it. Not because I’m fancy, but because I’m sentimental. Also because it makes me feel a little like a pirate.

Anyway, yesterday I took the necklace off and there, on my chest, was a dark greenish-black blotch which would not wash away. I would have written this off as a mysterious bruise, were it not the same shape and size of my doubloon. Because I know the gold is real [trust me, my grandmother mails me a facsimile of the insurance appraisal bi-annually] I had to ask Google: “Why does gold give you bruises?” If you believe old wives’ tales, or ehow.com, I am highly anemic. I guess it’s time to pump up the iron.

CategoryScience Tagged , , ,
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Best April Fools Jokes

April Fools joke virgin volcanicI refuse to use the internet on April Fools day. Everyone wants to pull a prank to garner a little buzz, and frankly it’s annoying. It’s not that I don’t find it funny, because I do, it’s just that I hate having to second guess everything I read all day. So my tradition is to avoid the internet until that night, and search for some “best-of” april fools jokes lists. This year, there were three that made me laugh.

The first one was a press release about a new venture by Richard Branson called Virgin Volcanic. It’s a volcano ship that will run tours to the center of the Earth, which is kind of funny in its own right. But what cracked me up is that only Richard Branson would be crazy enough to attempt something like that, and if it were scientifically possible, I would fully expect him to try it.

The second is actually several April Fools jokes in one. In my opinion, ThinkGeek would take the cake for best April Fools joke every year, if it weren’t for one thing… the joke part. What I mean by that, is that they always launch a line of products that are hilarious, but fake. I would actually buy this and this, and out of sheer curiosity, this. Why don’t they actually make these things and sell them to me?

The third and best April Fools joke of the year is from Google. I wasn’t a huge fan of their Nascar prank, but the 8-bit maps one is amazing. You’ve probably already tried it out, but if you haven’t, experience the 8-bit Google Maps here. Don’t forget to zoom in to street view.

If there are other good April Fools jokes that I missed, let me know in the comments.

CategoryCulture Tagged , ,
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How Do Anti-Radiation Pills Work

KI pill for anti-radiationIf you are not overtly opposed to all things Sci-Fi – as my wife is – I highly recommend the show Battlestar Gallactica. I’m on season two, and some of the characters have survived a nuclear holocaust for months by popping anti-radiation drugs. I wondered if I too could survive a nuclear fallout with the right meds.

Anti-radiation pills do exist, and are effective at reducing radiation poisoning, but long term exposure would not be survivable, and the pills only work to prevent the poisoning. They have no effect if you have already been exposed.

The pills are made of Potassium Iodine (KI) which fill your thyroid gland with good iodine before it’s able to absorb radioactive iodine. This protects your thyroid from radiation, which is very important, but it doesn’t protect your lungs, skin, and other internal organs.

So God forbid you find yourself walking around in a nuclear wasteland with a box of KI pills, remember that Sci-Fi has the Fi for a reason. Take your pills, but make your way underground (Brendan Fraser style) ASAP.

References:
Can a pill save you from radiation poisoning?
Acute Radiation Poisoning 

CategoryHow it Works Tagged , ,
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Seniors Meet-Up NYC

Some of my students are working on a project that involves interviewing members of their community. One group, in particular, is focused on individuals of a certain age. Often, the best way to nail down a particular demographic is to visit them at their local watering hole. So when one student told me that he was having trouble finding elderly people to chat with, I suggested a) the diner across the street from my apartment b) the coffee shop across the street from my apartment and c) the funeral home across the street from my apartment. Then I did a quick Google search for “Seniors Meet-Up NYC.” As it turns out, if you’re in your golden years, Meetup offers dozens of ways to connect for appetizers, jam sessions and retirement planning. I don’t know about my students, but quite frankly, I’m thinking about crashing PESID’s next event. [Spring fling in the Rockaways? Sounds like a dime store novel just waiting to be written.]

CategoryLiving Tagged , ,
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No Parking Signs Explained

I don’t know how I’ve never figured this out, but “No Parking” signs are a mystery to me. Of course it means there is a no parking zone, but the question is where. In front of the sign? Behind it? 20 feet on either side?

Parking on the street always makes me paranoid for this reason. I’ve heard people say it means no parking between the sign and the next corner, but what if there is a sign 100 yards back and I didn’t notice it? There’s rarely a Yes Parking sign to let me know it’s safe again.

Maybe the signs or laws in your town are more clear, but after failing to find a definitive answer on Google, I resorted to sifting through the Georgia Code [O.C.G.A. § 40-6-203]. It specifies how far you can park from a crosswalk, fire hydrant, stop sign, railroad crossing, driveway, and fire station. But when it gets to No Parking signs it just says not to park “at any place where official signs prohibit.” Thanks for the clarity.

The bad news is, I’m still not sure which side of the sign, and how far from the sign I can park. The good news is, since GA law doesn’t spell it out, I may be able to get out of a parking ticket. If you know how No Parking signs are supposed to work, please tell me in the comments.

On a similar note, I always thought it was illegal to park directly in front of a fire hydrant. Wrong. You can’t park within 15 feet of one. I had no idea.

CategoryHow it Works Tagged , , ,