Month: January 2006

Junkmail is a real pain in the neck

I would never have believed someone if they had told me how much junk mail gets sent to you after you purchase a house. I think (although I’m not positive) that Huntington must have sold my details on as all of a sudden I started to get letters, a lot of them looking as though they came from Huntington or were at the least endorsed by them, begging me to take out life insurance or mortgage protection to pay off my mortgage if I died or became too ill to work. I actually did reply to a couple of the letters out of curiosity but I’ve not had a reply. The cheekiest one came today which was made to look like a final demand!
To counteract all the rubbish that we are getting we have also had quite a few “welcome to the neighbourhood” brochures that I know was triggered when we informed the post office that we were moving (take note Royal Mail – this is a free service in the US!) – as we then started to get loads of offers. Fortunately we got an offer for a “free day of care” at a local chiropractor (Inner Health Chiropractor click this link to get your own coupon too and tell them Absoblogginlutely! sent you.) which came in really handy last Monday after straining my neck the previous Friday. I had rolled out of bed and then got stuck as the pain that shot through my head and back made it practically impossible to move. Fortunately I discovered that as long as I didn’t move and kept my head in one position it wasn’t too bad, so I spent most of the day at home working in front of the laptop screen catching up on some SBS training I need to do.
Anyway, on Monday we got this voucher and as my neck was still painful I made an appointment to see them. I was pretty nervous as I had no idea what would happen and half expected a “helga” to come out and practically rip my neck off.
I was pleasantly suprised to see the chiropractor looked normal and was very pleasant and kept asking if I had any questions. After a brief check to see how restricted my neck movement was (very) I laid face down on the table/chair and then he cracked my ribs by pushing down on the shoulderblades – a quick burst of pain but not too bad. Ditto when the neck was twisted to get back into re-alignment. I have no idea how they know just how far they can twist a neck without breaking it – I guess their first few attempts at University must be pretty nervewracking.
The next step of the treatment was the best though – they put some cold plates on my back which were attached to some electrodes to give a tingling sensation on the back, and then I laid down on some hotplates positioned in the small of my back and then the whole table gave a really nice rolling massage for about 10 minutes. It was then back for some more realigning and then I went back to work.
By the end of the day I had a storming headache (which I had been warned about) but the next day practically all of the stiffness in the neck had gone.
They did recommend that I come back 3 times a week for two weeks – but there is no way my bank balance can justify that – so I was really pleased that the neck was better the following day 🙂
That was about a week ago and I really should go back for another visit (if only to have another trial on the massage table) but the neck is pretty good now – slightly stiff if I strain it but ok.
Update Updated to add coupon details and link to Chiropractor

How to file a US tax return

Seeing as though I’d not received ANY communication from the IRS I thought I’d best start to prepare now before the end of March rush. Target were doing TaxCut Deluxe (State and something else) for $19.99 but naturally its not possible to actually buy it in the store as they have sold out. So first I headed off to the library where a mass of forms such as 1040. 1040A and 1040EZ (the latter sounds promising) were on display with about 30 extra schedules that I could have. I’m almost positive they invented an extra few characters of the alphabet so they could have schedule a,b,c,ñ etc.
Anyway, I take them home and decide to ring the IRS to see what they say. After ringing the helpline on 1800 829 1040 I enter the worlds most comprehensive (aka confusing) voice menu system. I’m currently programming a 2 layer deep voicemenu system for a customer and I thought this was confusing – however the IRS system must be about 8 or 9 layers deep. Naturally you enter a wrong choice and head off down a branch that you no longer need, but there is no option to get out of the branch and head back up or back to a receptionist. As I was stuck in a menu branch I just kept pressing buttons until I got through to a live person who had difficulty speaking english and promptly put me through to someone else who would help.
The second person actually understood what I was asking and said they were going to put me through to the tech centre. That was about 5 minutes before I started to post this blog item. In the meantime I’ve listened to several pieces of classical music and every 60 seconds or so I get asked to press 1 to continue in English or 2 to continue in Spanish – why they keep asking me to do this I have no idea. I’m just glad that I have a phone with a headset socket, free US calls so I can sit down and blog whilst waiting for them. Unfortunately as I sat down in the chair the phone beeped as I accidentally pushed a button – I really hope it wasn’t the 2 key and I end up speaking to someone in Spanish!
Ooh – they’ve answered.
So they now start asking me questions about whether I want to file seperately, joint etc. – thats one of the reasons I was ringing in the first place!

Windows Live Mail

My hotmail account has now been upgraded to Live Mail. Considering my invite said it could be two weeks and it only took a couple of hours, I am impressed with the signup speed.
I’m not sure what I think of it so far but it doesn’t leap out to me as a “woohoooo!”. It does have a fairly decent looking calendar with the ability to share the calendar to my contacts, passport holders or anyone who knows the url (which is pretty easy to figure out). The publication of the calendar is in realtime, with an error message returned if the publication is revoked so no loss of privacy there.
There is quite a bit of functionality missing that can be seen at the Beta feedback page but you get a LOT of functionality missing if you use firefox – the calendar and the contacts tab is missing.

Data recovery

Kristen had an upsetting moment when she plugged in the XD card from the camera and saw the following
It looked like all the photos that she had taken today were corrupt and unreadable (and translated into chinese!). Fortunately I remembered reading about PC Inspector File recovery which I had tried out but not in a real life scenario. One download later and a search of the hard drive returned lots of image files stored on the disk (as expected). Recovering them was just a matter of selecting whereabouts I wanted to put the files (on a different disk). There were two options available. The first was using FAT1 and the second was to use FAT2. When I used FAT1 most of the files came back ok, but there were several files that came back slightly corrupted – this one is one of the worst
Spliced House.
Some of the other photos have been uploaded to my Birdtable zoto gallery as Kristen took some excellent pictures of the birds on the birdtable today.

coke blogs

Blogging has hit the mainstream when an ad at the cinema advertises where you can have a blog (and do other stuff) on the coke site. I was quite amazed that this was shown on an ad, but then again the film we went to see was a sci-fi one, Aeon Flux, so I guess Sci Fi people enjoy blogging?
The film was pretty good with some nice special effects although there were a couple of moments where it dragged on and I almost fell asleep! It is similar to the matrix but not as cliched and thankfully they didn’t do that bullet stop motion thing.

trackback spam

hmmmm – I’ve just been hit with 234 trackback spams to the blog (and all the associated emails that details). I thought mtblacklist was meant to stop this sort of thing! Anyway, I went to load the pings up and when I went to delete them it came back with an error that said it was not able to load the ping for deletion. But when I went to redo it there were no spammy pings – weird.