The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Tag: Commentary and Critique

I Hate You!!!

These have to be the worst words and the worst phrase that one can use against another.

I have been called names before, several times, and not always in jest. But none of them hurt like when a person tells you that they hate you. Likewise, I can think of no worse thing to say to someone than that you hate them.

As we can see in our world today, hate can be a filthy, dangerous and anti-productive feeling. Really, even in times of war, hate accomplishes absolutely nothing. There is no good that can come from you telling someone this, or them saying it to you.

Many years ago, when I was very young, I recall a teacher telling me something that stay with me to this day. I had yelled at another student and told him that I hated him, but she took me aside and explained how hurtful those words could be. Granted, this was in fourth grade, and most children just do not comprehend the power of words at that age, but her comments stayed with me, regardless.

It would not be until several years later, when I used those very words for the sole purpose of hurting someone that I learned their true power. I had told my mother, at the ripe old age of 14, that I hated her. Then later that evening, I saw the effect that this had on her.

After that time, I never said that to her or anyone else again. You will not hear me say that I hate someone anymore. Yes, I still do use the word “hate”, but these days it is in relation to more innocuous things. I hate the arthritis that is making my knee hurt, I hate my allergies, I hate these oppressive taxes, etc… These are all things that I know will not be emotionally affected by my hatred of them.

To these things, you can express your hatred all you want, with no repercussions. There are no feelings to hurt, no egos to bruise. The most that will happen and this is if you REALLY hate that inanimate object you are cursing, is that you will tire and run out of breath.

Too often people hate one another for something like their religion, or skin color, or sexual orientation, or many other things that I could list. But who does that hatred help? What does telling them that you hate them accomplish except maybe causing them pain?

All this being said does not mean that there are not people out there that deserve to be hated. There are many, many truly “hate-worthy” people on this planet. But then the question comes up, is it really worth your time and effort to express the energy to hate them? Are they really worth that much of your attention? More importantly, do they CARE if you hate them?

More often than not, the answer to these questions will be no, and by doing so you are actually giving them more attention than they deserve or need.

There is already too much hate in the world. Try to do like I was taught. The next time you see a person and feel compelled to say you hate them, even if it is only to yourself and under your breath, replace “Hate” with “dislike”.

How I was banned from Google AdSense…

This is a story without a happy ending, having to do with a large company with no customer service, and it started in March of 2009.

It is about a company that seems to have grown so large and become so successful, that it can no longer afford to put people in place to help others.  What I plan on sharing with you is not so much that I was banned from Google’s Adsense program, but the processes through which I tried to resolve the problem and the results of that.  I will discuss a little about the process of being banned and what, I am pretty sure, was the cause of my being banned.

Monetizing my site.

After my site, this site that you are visiting right now, had been up for s few years, I decided that I would like to see if I could make a little money from it.  Not being sure how to go about it, I was told about using a service like AdSense, that would allow people to click on content relevant links on my blog, and send them to other sites.  I, in turn, could recieve a small stipend from AdSense for people doing this if they were good clicks.

I am sure I do not need to explain the process to you folks reading this.  Pay-per-click has been around long enough at this point and there are enough of them out there, that this should all be common knowledge to even the greenest of surfers at this point, So I will not bore you with THOSE details.

Shortly after the site went live, I received an email that, for anyone who runs a site and has AdSense, makes the blood freeze in your veins.  The notice from Google that my account had been suspended because of invalid clicks.  Through some investigation, I finally determined that was happened was that my wife had, without knowledge of the consequences, followed several links on my pages to advertisers.  Because of the fact that these clicks came from the same IP as my home, even though it was a different computer, they determined that I was attempting to defraud them, and closed my account.

This is where the issues I have with Google start.

Customer Service (or the lack there of.)

When I first received the email for Google explaining that there was a problem, I panicked. I did not want to have a mark against me with something like this, so I sent in a request for more information.  This is when I discovered that Google has a policy about not sharing the the details of HOW they know that you may have been the cause of the invalid clicks on your site that cause the Ban.  They appear to have a proprietary system that they cannot tell you how they know, for then, I am assuming, you might learn how to defeat it.

I had, during this time, start my own investigation online to see if other people had suffered this fate and what they had done to overcome it.  I was not disapointed, and I discovered that I was part of what appeared to be a very large family of people that had been banned by Google for thing that they considered to be violations.

I will not say that everyone that I met on the Google AdSense forums was innocent.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  There were a great number on there that, when you visited their sites, were in clear violation of the TOS for the AdSense program.  Some of these were sites that I cannot understand how or why they were accepted in the first place.

Then there were many that were banned for very minor issues, the most common of which is not having a privacy statement.  Some of these sites were also guilty of have two or more Monetizing services set up to work on their sites.  Then there were yet others that I, no matter how hard I tried, could find nothing obviously incriminating about them.  This left me to assume that they might have been in the same boat as I was myself.

During this time, I had submitted my first Appeal to the Adsense team and waited to see what the response would be.  I wrote a detailed explanation of what I think was the cause of the erroneous clicks and informed them that this would not happen again.  After I sent this I decided to spend what I thought was going to be a few days looking at the other people and seeing if I could offer advice on the forums.

Within a matter of hour, or so, I received a reply from them stating that they replied stating that they reviewed my request and my site and decided that my site, the one you are reading right now, represented to much of a risk to the Adsense advertisers and they would not allow me back into the system.

Thus started my crusade.

I continued to putter around on the forums and answer questions here and there.  I also made it a point to try and corner a Google employee, on the rare ocassions that one posted something there, but always met with defeat.  They would either not answer any of my questions, or they would refer me to the TOS.

This served as nothing more than fuel for my ire.  I was not content to just sit and not do something about it.  Yes, a mistake was made on my part, but it was just that, a mistake.  We all make them and they are meant to be forgiven at least once.  I can understand it if you make the same ones over and over again, then there is a time to cut a person loose.

So I continued to try and reach someone, anyone, that could help me out.  I found numbers to call within Google and those got me nowhere.  It seemed that when I reached a person, they knew nothing or did not know where to direct me.  I sent letters to any address I could find, even being so nice as to include self addressed, stamped envelopes with them.  All explaining my situation and then asking them to reconsider their banning me.  I never received a reply.

Conclusion.

Google has still not contacted me, and I am still banned from their Adsense program, but I am still working on them.  I am not going to just let this go.  This draconian attitude that they have of only giving a person a single chance just does not make sense to me.  One and your done, I think is what someone on the forums told me.

Google needs to really rethink this program if that is the attitude they wish to keep.  Or, if they plan on playing that way, at least do us all the honor of not even pretending and eliminate the whole “Appeals” process.  It is all just smoke and mirrors anyway and only seems to serve the process of making people THINK they have a chance to get back into the system.

I have since moved on to a company called InfoLinks for my site advertising.  Granted, I am not getting rich and I do not expect to break the bank anytime soon, but that was never what it was about.  All I ever hoped to do was make enough to pay for some of my operating costs for this site.  Anything more would have been icing on the cake.

Making the move to Vonage…

So… after almost twenty years with AT&T, feeding the giant, so to say, the wife and I have decided to move our phone line to Vonage.

I am sure that this evokes images of the silly commercials and the famed “Woo Hoo” song by the “5,6,7,8’s” who sang the song in the first installment of the Kill Bill movies.

All that aside, I have actually been with vonage for a few years… about four or five now, they provide my 877 number for this site and the second line that comes into my house.  More often than not, I use that line as my main line because the clarity is so much greater than that of the land line.  It is also the line I use for the TTY device I use to speak to my mother, who is deaf.

In all, vonage does offer a lot of features for what you pay.  The few times I have had to call them for something, I have never had to deal with anyone rude or with an accent so thick I almost feel like I need a passport just to ask for technical support… much like I have to go with any time I call AT&T for line or DSL support, when I am at work.

I have had a couple people tell me the not do this, but I have to think that they have been around long enough to be considered stable… and if my office “SamuraiMarine Hotline” is any sign of thing to come, then I am sure I will be plenty happy.

Besides…  it is also going to save me about $25 dollars a month making the move!

What is Conservative? What is Liberal? What does it matter?

The other day a co-worker found out that I listen to Sean Hannity during the day while I am at work.  His first response was;  “You’re listening to Hannity all the time now, so now you’re not even going to pretend you’re an Independent anymore?”

First off, this is not the first time someone has said something like this, people assume that when you listen to a certain type of music or a certain type of talk radio, that you are automatically a certain class or political persuasion of people.  Yet through that train of thought, at least for those that ask and are serious about the question, they do not realize exactly how ignorant they sound.  No offense to the asker listed above, since he is a reader.

The best part of understanding anything, is to be able to, objectively, listen to both sides of an argument and make a determination based on what both sides have to say and compare it to your own research.  I do this with everything I hear on the stations that I listen to.  For the record, the stations that I listen to are as follows: Sirius – Patriot 144, Sirius – POTUS 110 and Sirius – Left 146.

To be honest, the hardest one to listen to is Left 146.  These people are fawning and cooing all over the Obama administration like he is the best thing since sliced white bread (you may take that however you want.)  This station is like one long continuous squishy ObamaGasm, I usually feel like I need to get tested for an STD after listening for too long… ironically this is something that CBO will cover in his new Universal Healthcare.

As if things are not bad enough on their own, we feel the need to divide ourselves further by creating these petty “Gangs” of political rivals whose only goal in life is to squabble over how to run the government instead of actually RUNNING the Government, like a poorly made remake of “West Side Story” with the rival gangs dancing up and down the streets getting nothing more done than producing their own CO2 atmosphere.

Look at the government the way it is now, and look at the achievements that have been made by it over the last several years, say about the last twenty years.  In fact, in my opinion, the last good president we had was Reagan… not to mention that he was my Boss for a short period of time.  There are many out there that will debate this fact, but look at the history and what he accomplished in the disastrous wake of the Carter administration.

I am not opening this post up for debate or argument on the effectiveness on presidents of the past, however I am going to bring into question the effectiveness of the current political parties that are in power.

If the next four year pass the way I expect them to, I feel that we are going to truly see what little value there is in a single party “running the show”, so to say.  If CBO and his team accomplish nothing ver the next four years, then who will they have to blame?  The Dems control the house and the senate, there will be no one to blame but themselves.

That being said, you might ask; “‘Samurai… are you saying that the Republicans would do better?”  And to that I would answer a resounding NO!!!  The Dems and the Reps have made a special point of demonstrating their uselessness over the last fifteen years or so.  If there has ever been a better time for a Third party to come in, like the proverbial knight in shinning armour on his (or her) white steed, then it is now.

There are unfortunately few “Third” parties that would even have a chance to do anything, and among these would be the two more powerful… the Libertarian and Independent parties.  Both of whom I respect a great deal, and the reason for which I abandon the sinking ship of the Republican party and boarded the smaller, but better staffed, Independent Party.

I would ask that anyone reading this, take the time to look at the reason they belong to the party that they chose and learn about it and why you are part of it.  Have they done everything that you think they should of or are you simply staying on with them because you think it is the right thing to do.  If you can look at the recent history of their ACCOMPLISHMENTS, not what they SAID they would do, but what they DID… and say that you are proud of them and what they stand for, then by all means… stay with them.  But if you cannot accept that they have made their decisions based on your desires, or if they do not stand for what you believe in, then for G-d’s sake, leave them behind!!!

You may think you are only one person, but every movement starts with one person.  Maybe if the Dems and the Reps see people leaving them in record numbers, then they will realize that they are making mistakes.  I feel that the only reason that they get away with half the stuff they get away with is because of the complacency of us, the people that put them in power in the first place.

Thank you for your time.

Who are we becoming?

Recently there was an event in Hartford, Conn. that has me worried.

This is the news piece, please follow the link for the story.

A man is hit by a car while they are, by the sounds of it, playing a game of cat and mouse. Chasing each other through busy streets.

The fact that he was hit at all was bad enough, but what makes it worse is that while the man lay in the street, people just watched. No one lifted a finger to help, short of calling 911 to get emergency crews out. It was very likely that another car could have come along and hit this fellow. The video and the stills clearly show that people did see this man, and while taking the time to gawk, took no measures to stop traffic or make sure that nothing further happened to him.

Right here I would like to step out of the calm way I usually talk and just ask, what the HELL kind of society are we becoming? Is it more important for us to take pleasure in someone else’s agony than to lend a hand, or at the very least stop further injury or suffering? Even if someone had gone so far as to pull their car out into traffic to protect this guy, or as simple as kneeling next to him, holding his hand and telling him that help was on the way.

Now… of all those people on the side of the street, I wonder how many pulled out there camera phones and took pictures of this man laying there. How many of those same people stood there wondering if someone else was going to do something, or said to themselves that someone else would take care of this.

THAT is the problem. We have become a society that is waiting for others to do something, and not taking action ourselves. You will probably argue with me on this, but when you look at the stills and the video, how many people are standing there watching, and not doing a damned thing to help the man? How many people do you see go out and see if there is anything they can do?

Everything is an episode of Survivor or Real World to people these days. People are too busy watching and enjoying the pain and suffering of others to get involved in something as meaningless as, oh, I don’t know… SAVING A LIFE! They see it happen, think, “Man, I am glad that was not me!” then go home and sit in their chair and watch the news of the event, then see the person there. They might go so far as to say to someone, “Yeah, I saw that happen.”

There was a time when more people used to give a damn. When you saw something happen, and sprang into gear and tried to help. I know of one person, personally, that did this. He lived in central Utah, and was there when a child was hit backed over by a van. He did all he could, but was not able to save the child. THAT is the type of people that we should all be. Willing to help when the time calls for it. He may not have been able to save that child, but I have to think that there are two things that happened… First, he took a chance to save a life, and he did his best. Second, maybe somewhere in the little consciousness that ebbed from the child, she knew that there was someone there trying.

That man, Arce Torres, laid in that street and waited. He may or may not have known that there were people around him, treating him like the latest side show, or an errant cat that was hit by a passing car. He may or may not have felt that no one there cared enough to try and help him. But if there had been even ONE person that had been a stand up guy, like the one I spoke about with the child and the van, then Arce would have known someone was there who cared about him and wanted to see him safe.

It angers me that so many people out there no longer care about strangers the way we once did. That we have to fear getting involved in something just because we do not want to become inconvenienced by what might happen if you help a person in need.

If any of the people that stood there and watched this happen, and did nothing to help, happen upon my site, and read this. I do hope that I am wrong, and there is a hell… because there is a special place in it for you, I am sure. You should all just hope that if something like that happens to you, that the people who show up are kinder than you were.

That is all… At least all I have the stomach for at this time.

Online career sites

Several years ago I decided to keep a resume presence online with two companies. One with Monster.com and the other with a site dedicated to tech jobs called DICE.com. Both are great site and have a long history of reliability. I had no problem putting my information on there. I also liked the sites because not just anyone can get your resume. The group requesting it has to be accepted by the site as an employer that is looking to hire. Even then, they do not see the whole thing until you release it to them.

Like I said, I have always felt good about keeping my resumes on those sites, but there is a dark side.  That is that there are people that look for your resume, and do not pay attention to what your resume is about.  What kind of career you are looking for or what skills you have.

Some of them can be partially excused.  I work for a rather large insurance company in their IT section, and I work most with the phones and the remote users.  Some times people find my resume by simply searching for Insurance, and then do not pay attention to WHAT I do with and insurance company.  They just see the reference in my resume and send me a typical head-hunting email to ask me if I am interested in joining their team.  Sadly, most of the time these are ‘bots that send out this first email, so replying does not do much.

When I do call them or email them to let them know what they did, they seem to get mad at me.  Here I am trying to help them, and they act like it was my fault to begin with.  I had one person tell me that I should remove all references to insurance from my profile, so that they would not get confused.

There have been others too… People asking if I want to be a store manager, a library clerk for an oil  company, things like that.

It just amazes me that these people really do not seem to pay attention to the contents of the resume, or even my profiles on the sites that state what I was looking for in the way of work at the time I created the accounts.  You would think that if they were serious about looking for a person to fill an opening, then they would do a little looking at the profile before asking a person to apply.

Car shopping for the recently insane

I have recently purchased a car… Not a new car, mind you, but new to me. I can tell you one thing, though. This has been more nerve wracking that anything I have gone through in some time. My word of advice to everyone is this: If you are suicidal, have a tendency towards violent emotional outbursts, have been known to start speaking in tongues when in the presents of used car sales people or have uncontrollable fits and spasms when someone says, “Let me go talk to my manager.” If any of these describe your state of mind, then please do yourself and the legal system a favor and go pick yourself out a good ten-speed. As for the rest of you, please read on.

As any of you who might know me will understand, my last vehicle sucked. I drove a 1997 GMC Jimmy that had been nothing short of a money pit since I bought it. Luckily I also bought a warranty package, so much of the money that it has sucked, in the beginning, was from the dealer. This was my vehicle for eight years… and yes, I was surprised with I realized that I had had it that long as well.

Going into this process, I laid out three vehicles I was interested in, and kept it to that. In order of importance, here is that list: 1. Honda Ridgeline, 2. Chrysler Pacifica, and 3. Hyundai Sante Fe. Now I can already hear some of you out there groaning about the Hyundai, but let me tell you something. I was actually surprised to learn that they have come a long way and turned out to be a pretty good car maker these days. I was not, in the least, hesitant to look at a Sante Fe or a Tucson by them.

My final decision was based on the current market and the fact that I was made a very good deal on the car. It was the 2006 Chrysler Pacifica, touring edition. I wanted the Honda Ridgeline, but with the current credit crunch, Honda (and a few other dealers) are extremely tight on their policies and restrictions for whom they finance. I can accept this, as I will be the first to say that I have not been a saint with respect to my credit. I have had issues and events that have broken down my rating.

I can say, though, that my experience was not completely unpleasant. The only down side to the shopping experience was giving my cell phone and home address to Barber Honda. Even after I advised them that I was going with another dealer and not interested in them, I continued to get calls and letters from them. The place that really helped us with locating a car and the purchase process was a company called Autoland. Since my wife works with a credit union here locally, she got us in touch with a gentleman by the name of Lenny Garifo, who went out of his way to get us into what we wanted, and at the price point we were looking for. If you are a member of a credit union that uses Autoland, and get to the point where you are looking for a vehicle, then I suggest you look into them.

In the end, I think I ended up with a pretty good car that is very comfortable. Best of all… it is nice to enjoy driving again.

What people go through for a cigarette.

I have never really understood smoking.

I mean, I understand it from a physiological point of view in how it affects the body and the addiction it creates, that part is pretty easy to figure out. What I am talking about is the extremes that people will go through just so that they CAN smoke.

Before I go any further, this is not an article that condemns smoking. It is your body, do with it what you like. I think that you should be able to smoke, if you like, without having to worry about other people harassing you or otherwise giving you remorse. The only thing I will insert to that is to be respectful of those around you when you do smoke, that you are not violating THEIR airspace with your smoke.

That being said… let us proceed.

As I write this, I think about the time my mother came down to visit from Alaska. My mother started smoking when she was about 14, I think, but she was young when she first picked up her first smoke. Over the course of her life, there were only two times she stopped smoking. The first time was when she was pregnant with me, then the second was when she was pregnant with my brother. Both times, as she explains it, she suddenly could not stand the taste or smell of cigarettes, and even went so far as to scrub the house from stem to stern to get the smell out.

She was never what I would call a chain smoker, like my father could be occasionally. No… She would smoke her smoke, and then there would be a couple hours or so before she would light up again.

When She came down from Alaska, though, we let her know that she could not smoke in the house. We did not smoke, and we did not like the smell of smoke. So she agreed and would take her cigarettes outside and smoke. She would do this in the rain, in the freezing cold, in the fog… you name it.

It always struck me as funny that people would brave the elements to go out and have a smoke.

As time went on, this caused me to really pay attention to other people smoking. Once I noticed a cluster of people, maybe five or six, huddled under an awning smoking while it was pouring rain. there did not look to be enough room for them all, but they were managing it. I would be surprised if someone did not end up with a burn in their shirt or sweater, though.

Here are people, braving the weather and the chance of a cold, or worse, to smoke a cigarette. Like I said earlier, I do not know, first hand, the feeling of needing a cigarette, so I have to wonder if the need overrides common sense. Do people working in places like the south pole (McMurdo and the like) do when they get the urge, or do they just learn to not smoke while they are down there.

I sometime wonder if smoking is a sort of social sport, of sorts. Many times people go smoking together and talk while they are at it. At the place I work, I usually see the smokers all migrate to the smoking area at the same time, and you can tell when they are out there, because there is this odd gray cloud over the back of the building. What makes this even more amusing is that when non-smokers walk past, they all seem to get quiet. Like there is a plot afoot or something.

Like I said, I have nothing against smokers… it is their life and body to do with as they please.

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