Posted by steve

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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.

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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.

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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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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).

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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.

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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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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.

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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 

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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.

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What Does The Gallbladder Do?

representation of gallstones

A less offensive representation of gallstones

One of my coworkers is in the process of doing a gallbladder cleanse, and for some reason that is public knowledge in our office. She says it’s something all her friends are doing, and that everyone has gallstones they need to relinquish. Gross right? Just wait for the pictures. Take some deep breathes and then take a peek at this page.

The gallbladder’s job is to squirt bile into the intestines and dissolve all the fatty crap you eat, but over time the bile gets crystallized in there and turns into a rock garden, which starts clogging things up. So the goal of the cleanse is to get that gravel out. What you do with it afterwards is up to you. I might recommend pouring them in a fish tank, or a vase with flowers.

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How To Make World Record Paper Airplane

Recently, a new world record was set for the longest paper airplane throw (video here). Obviously, I wanted to know how to make the plane for myself. The designer’s name is John Collins, and he has been working on this plane for four years. The plane design is called SUZANNE, and if you pay $2.99 over at thepaperairplaneguy.com you can watch a tutorial on how to make it. I did just that, but found that it requires A4 paper. Another quick search informed me that A4 is the standard paper size for every country in the world except the U.S. and Canada. So if you’re reading this from anywhere else, lucky you! Fold up your queer-shaped documents and let’em rip (pun unintended). And for those of you in America (and its hat), one of the many other planes John has invented is called The Stinger. It uses standard 8.5×11 and flies farther than any plane I’ve ever thrown. John’s video tutorial is great, but it requires a membership, and this is a down economy, so enjoy the free version.

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What If I Buy Every Lotto Combination

Mega Millions combinations.jpgI keep seeing a billboard on my way to work that advertises the Mega Millions jackpot, so I started daydreaming of ways to better my chances of winning. Buying every ticket was one of those ideas.

The simple answer is that if you bought every combination, you’d win. And I thought this was a great idea until I found out just how astronomical the number of combinations is. There are 175,711,536 of them. This means it would cost $175,711,536.00 to buy every ticket… and because of taxes (usually 36%), the cash payout would have to be 275M 255.1M (see update below) to turn a profit.

On top of that, there is the impossibility of buying all those tickets. Even if you had 500 friends and family helping you, they’d each need to fill out 351 thousand cards, and they’d only have three days to do it.

Needless to say, if you find yourself with hundreds of millions of dollars, you probably shouldn’t get your investment ideas from me. But if you’re foolish enough to try this, I’ll gladly be one of your 500 friends.

UPDATE:
A friend reminded me that I hadn’t included the non-jackpot winnings into the prize calculations. In addition to the jackpot, you would also receive these prizes totaling an additional $30,483,670 before taxes:
45 $250,000 prizes
255 $10,000 prizes
14,225 $150 prizes
208,250 $10 prizes
573,750 $7 prizes
1,249,500 $3 prizes
2,349,085 $2 prizes

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112 vs 911

dial 911

Last week I got an email forward about dialing 112, a new emergency number that is supposedly better than 911. The reasons why were vague so I did a quick search and found that 112 is the emergency number for the European Union. “Ahh.” I think to myself, “Whoever wrote this was confused.” I pick up my iPhone, and flippantly punch 1-1-2-CALL. A second later I’m desperately smashing the power button as I see EMERGENCY CALL flash across my screen… And suddenly I’m haunted by stories from my childhood, of kids dialing 911 and having the cops show up at their doorsteps.

Needless to say, the cops have better things to do than hunt down mistaken emergency calls, so I’m writing this a free man. But I obviously hadn’t been thorough enough in my research, so I hit up Wikipedia. It’s true that 112 is the EU’s version of 911, but it just so happens that all GSM cell phones – of which mine is one – redirect 112 directly to 911. So although you can use it in an emergency, it’s not worth remembering unless you live in, or are planning a trip to Europe.

CategoryWhat it Means Tagged ,