Semi-pro tips for musical people

1) Do regular room recordings of rehearsals so you can hear what you sound like, and what you need to fix.

2) These recordings are for you to hear what you are doing badly, so you can fix that. They are not the same as the recordings you do for other people to hear what you are doing well.

3) Recording quality does not matter, as long as you can hear what you are doing and what needs to be fixed. Record it using anything you have.

4) In order for these to have any value, you are probably going to have to hate yourself a bit when you hear them. FEEL THE BURN SO OTHERS DON’T HAVE TO.

5) Send your rehearsal recordings to your bandmates as an MP3, medium quality. Yeah yeah– you are all using the the same chip jewelry and yeah yeah they should all be able to play the same files and LOL MP3 jeez that’s so old-school, grampy! Send it as MP3.

6) Oh, you don’t know anything about that stuff and that mp4 file works fine on your chip jewelry and gosh you’re so busy being creative and windswept and interesting that you can’t learn all that tech stuff? Don’t bother then. You’re doing terrific.

7) I honestly hope these recordings sound great and you are happy and you have nothing you think needs fixin’. But neither of us are you a month from now, and I will bet you a nickel that you a month from now will not be happy with these recordings. Do not post your rehearsal recordings anywhere, ever.

8) If 50% of your bandmates actually listen to these recordings, you are doing way better than average. If one of them actually fixes something that needs fixing, you are KILLING IT. This bit sounds particularly cynical and cranky, but these results are WAY better than what you’d get if you didn’t do this at all.

4) White vinegar on pizza. Seriously. Try it.

You need to get out more

Here’s a fun party behavior:
  • Pronounce or explain something in a way that is totally wrong in a barely-plausible way.
    (EG: Hagrid’s half-Sasquatch lineage IS CANON; If we’re going to go back to calling things by their original names, everything named “Washington” should be called “Hertburn;” Your aunt’s friend lost 45 lbs. in a month by eating more barium; Tom Verlaine has eaten half a regular-sized tube of Sensodyne toothpaste every day since 1974, but they changed the formula, and THAT’s why the last good thing he did was “Glitter in Their Eyes” on “Gung-Ho.”)

  • Someone will correct you
  • Then someone else will correct that person (you may need to repeat what the first person said loud enough to get attention).
  • After that, everyone should quickly go all comments-on-the-1nterhenets. Lots of name-calling and fun.  Everyone gets their phone out, because that’s where they keep the truth.
  • Use the distraction as cover while you eat all the shrimp/steal the good beer/plastic-wrap the toilet seat.
  • Get the heck out of there. Why were you even there?

    Inspired by the most recent brilliance of XKCD.

I’m not that much of a celebrity – 1

If I was Ray Liotta, every time one of my friends did something that I didn’t like, or made a humorous wisecrack at my expense, I would good-naturedly punch my right fist into my left palm and say “Why I LI-oughta!..” like in an old gangster movie.

I’m just saying that if I was Ray Liotta, Ray Liotta would probably not have as many friends.

The clicking is deafening!

I’ve been updating my Link Din stuff.

Every interaction with someone causes Link Din to automatically prompt you to send a thank you message.

Thing is, I’m the kind of person who does that anyway. Doing stuff on Link Din feels like when your mom told you to do something polite that you were already doing, and you thought “Geez Mom! How rude do you think I am?”

If they actually want this stuff to mean anything, they should make the default messages really rude. That way, you’d have to actually go in and change them to something you really mean. You’d have to actually BE polite, instead of having a chunk of code pretend you are.

And if you just clicked and sent the default, someone would get a message that says “I don’t need your endorsement, you ugly turnip-interfering squat!” and immediately know that the person sent it automatically.

This would also make it easier to be polite, because there are a limited number of ways to say “Thanks for endorsing my ability to sex walruses*” or whatever it is you do. If the computer types that for you, and you don’t even read it, just click “OK” then really the message you are sending is “Can not be arsed.”

Even typing out the most rudimentary “THX 4 the Ndorsnt” shows more engagement than clicking on one of the three words in Link Din messenger.

If you don’t think about it, there’s no difference between being rude and being polite.


*not as rude a sentence as it looks.

It’s freezing in here.

Playing the guitar is relatively hard to learn.
No buddy, that is probably not his own hair.

Thanks to Equifax’s data incontinence and the flaming clown-car of death site they slapped together purely for optics, it’s a good idea for anyone subject to American credit reporting agencies to “freeze” your credit reports.  You can read more details on the whys and hows here.

We froze our credit reports from all three big reporting agencies yesterday. Here’s what I learned in the process. This has a pretty high snark content, because WHY AREN’T YOU MAD??, but I’ve tried to control myself, and the info will save you some time and annoyance.


General tips:

  • You can go to the site Equifax set up to see if your data is at risk, but if you’ve read anything about that site, you’ll know that it’s an untrustable waste of time.
  • I recommend using the phone to freeze your accounts. The Web sites for all three of these agencies are annoying at best, as is typical for sites designed by people who never use them.
  • Read the notes for each agency before embarking on the phone call.
  • I highly recommend using a land-line, so you don’t have to deal with as many screw-ups. You will still probably deal with screw-ups.
  • ALL of these phone systems try to use voice commands. ALL of them appear to listen for voice commands all the time, so it is REALLY easy to screw them up if you talk when you aren’t supposed to. This is difficult to avoid, as you will probably find yourself blurting out short words with hard consonants in them. Try not to.
  • As with everything, using a speakerphone makes it all much worse.
  • Use the keypad for anything with numbers. When (WHEN) these things screw up what they think you said, they will say they can’t access your report and you will have to start all over.
  • Speaking of which, when (when) these thing say they can’t access your report, just hang up and try again. We did a total of five calls to freeze three reports, and I think we did pretty well, considering how crap these systems are.



Equifax – 1-800-349-9960



For this one, we actually went to the Equifax site and got our credit report from them BEFORE we froze the report. And yep, we printed it on many sheets of paper that we are going to eventually shred and recycle. If you go through the whole deal with setting up an online account with Equifax, you will need to supply:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • SSN
  • Some info about some credit you have open right now, like the price range of your mortgage payment

***You will have four minutes to supply all the info the site asks you for, or you will have to start again.***

Once you get to your report, there is a printer button on the top right.


“Monthly subscription fee” is not the same as “credit freeze!”

Equifax’s site pushes you towards their TrustedID service, which is a $22/month service that provides extra control over who can see what in your report. VERY VERY few people need this, but Equifax REALLY wants you to buy it–that’s how they make some of the money they don’t spend on keeping your information safe.

Nope, not giving them a link to it here.



To freeze your credit report with Equifax over the phone, you will need:

  • Name
  • State
  • Date of Birth
  • Numerical portion of your address (just know your address)
  • SSN
  • A credit card to pay the fee they are allowed to charge for this ($3 in NE).

Yep! They get PAID per freeze and unfreeze in most states. That’s nice work, if you can get it.

Once you get through all this, they will give you a PIN number, which you will need to use to unfreeze your account. WRITE THIS DOWN! You will also get a confirmation number, which you should also write down.

NOTE: Both of these are 10-digit numbers. You have the ability to have them repeat the numbers, and I recommend you do that. I say “write this down” because you probably can’t type it into your phone while listening.  Also, you shouldn’t.

They say they will also mail you confirmation. I suggest you watch out for that, because golly, if you wanted to intercept a bunch of communications between a credit-reporting agency and its customers, this would be a good time to do it. I am probably not the only person to think of that.

And yep, that PIN number is just the time that your PIN was issued, in the format DDMMYYHHMM.

Update: People noticed how dumb the PIN thing was, and Equifax are now using a different PIN scheme.

They are SO “taking this seriously.”


Experian – 1-888-397-3742



If you have lots of time to kill and want to see how little testing goes into corporate web sites, you can bang around in circles on for a while and THEN decide to just do this by phone.

If you DO decide to try to create an Experian online account, you will need to create a unique username and a strong password for the site, which they will then undermine by asking you to answer a “security” question like the street you grew up on. I hope the irony of these questions in the context of a leak of 143 million user profiles is not lost on you.

When we tried to just set up a credit freeze on the site, we got a lot of broken links and stuff that circled back to trying to sell us CreditLock, which is Experian’s flavor of TrustedID–a service you pay for monthly that lets you do a bunch of stuff with your credit report that very very few people actually need to do.  After a few minutes, we said something like “Gosh, this isn’t very good. I hope the people at this company have a very rough time indeed!” and just used the phone.



You’ll need the same info as you did for Equifax, more or less. You will also need to listen through an utterly pointless list of all the states, arranged into groups of how much you can legally be charged for a credit freeze in each state. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it’s just Experian’s way of saying “This list is meaningless, unless you are willing to move to another state to save $3 -$10, but your time means literally nothing to us.”

Then you get to pay for the credit freeze with a credit card.

They will send you a confirmation thing in the mail. Again, I would keep an eye out for it.


Transunion – 1-888-909-8872

We just did this one by phone. You will need the same info as above.

You will also need to create a 6-digit PIN. And of course, you will need to pay.

This voice carousel is PARTICULARLY sensitive to any noise you make. Also, the fake-smiley voice that they have used for this sounds INCREDIBLY patronizing. Admittedly, we might have been a bit tetchy after 45 minutes of jumping through needless hoops put up by a scam industry run by horrible incompetent screw-ups. Obviously, I am totally over that now though…

They will send you a confirmation package in the mail. Look out for that.

Hope that helps.

Fix door handle 1998-2002 Toyota Corolla

The driver’s side door handle on our sexy, sexy base model 2001 Corolla broke. More accurately, the plastic surround that the handle sits in and pushes against when you open the door broke. The surround and handle are all one part, and replacing that part is very very easy on these cars.

Superfluous image
Your handle will break at one of the three points indicated in this diagram, but it is irrelevant, as the entire assembly is one piece. This image is therefore superfluous.

All the things you need to do this repair are already on the Weebs, so I’m just going to tell you what I did, and include a couple of tips that might make life easier.


A door handle, notebooks, a compressor--together they fight crime!
Serving Suggestion

1) MOST IMPORTANT THING: If you ask your mechanic (or Car Nerd Friend) about this job, and that mechanic is not familiar with this particular car, you might get the impression that this job is scary and expensive. It is not.


In a lot of cases,  replacing door handles requires removing the entire door panel, special tools, infinite care and patience, and the detached third finger of a blood relative. The average person would NOT want to do it.

For some reason however, Toyota made this job easy on 1998-2002 Corollas. If you can operate a screwdriver and open a plastic drink bottle, you can do this repair.

2) The parts are cheap. I bought replacements by Dorman. Driver’s side handle in grey is part number 79502, and passenger side is 79503. The front and back handles are the same on each side. I bought one for each side, because the shipping was almost as much as one handle, and spent less than $20. Make sure you match your color!

4) Howto videos are actually useful here. Do a search on your popular video site for the title of this post and you will see a few howto videos for this repair. They are all pretty much the same. I like the one with the kid in it the best. It will take about as long to watch two as it will take to do this repair IF you watch two howto videos.

An exciting picture of a car door partially open.
You can sit sideways and use both hands, and the door won’t move while you work.

5) Location location location. This repair is easiest to do with the door open, so you have some room to fiddle. I did it in the garage, parked so that the door was half-open (a pessimist might say “half-closed”) and against the wall (with a piece of foam between) and that worked well.

6) Use two screwdrivers when you are removing the clip inside the door handle. Hook the door activator (thick wire thing you clip the handle to) around one of the screwdrivers, so that it doesn’t drop into the door when you take off the old handle. It’s not too hard to fish the activator out if you drop it, but easier not to drop it in the first place.