Justin's Life... April 19th - 29th, 1998

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April 19, 1998 - Sunday


Actually, before I left for class Wednesday morning, I'd gotten a call the night before from James. It was a message on my answering machine, saying he couldn't get ahold of Canace and wanting to know what I thought he should do. I called him back, getting his answering machine, and said something about how there was no nice way to say it, but that I'd talked to the professor and that I was finishing the paper myself because everybody just wasn't pulling his/her weight. So, I had told James... but I didn't know if he'd gotten the message or understood it.

So, the next day when I saw him waiting for the elevator just before lab, I asked him if he got the message. He said that he did and acted like he was all sorry that it didn't work out. I, of course, had had the run around already, so I didn't pay much attention to his apology: I was still pissed that I was having to do it all myself. So when he asked if he could have a copy of the research paper we were replicating, I told him, "I'll tell you where it is in Doheny." (meaning that he'd have to go look it up himself).

By the end of the lab, though, I'd figured it would be easier to get back the paper that I'd loaned James if I gave them a copy of the one they wanted, and so, I said something to the effect of you give me the one I gave you back and I'll give you a copy of the one we were replicating (though not in such "transaction" like terms.)

The next day, I gave them a copy of the paper and they gave me a copy of the one I'd given them. I thought it was especially nice that they gave me a copy of the one I'd given themÖ a copy which didn't pick up the highlighting which I'd done.

So, anyway, that was that, and now I'm completely on my own in this paper. It won't be great, but it should at least get a C... which hopefully, with the A and the B on the midterms, should equate to a B or better with the final. With grades, though, you never can tell what youíll end up with.

In other news, I've been talking to Chris via e-mail and a couple of phone calls. The other night he called me after he'd been partying with his fraternity. He was, of course, drunk, so it wasn't too much fun talking to him on the phone. I mean, I've a playful, harassing personality. Harassing a drunk is like harassing a four year old. There's no challenge and he doesn't even get it when you get him.

Other than that, though, it's been sorta fun flirting via e-mail... no where near as much fun as flirting in real life, but I guess it'll have to do for now. He and I have very casually talked about a return visit, perhaps during Memorial Day Weekend, but our talks have been far from the reserving-the-ticket stage.

In yet other news, at the suggestion of Blonde Eric, I'm going to create a weekly e-mail newsletter. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write it in, but I'll give it a shot and hopefully can come up with something creative for you guys to find in your in box every Friday morning.


I wrote that last entry from the computer lab on campus. I was there because my editing partner, Sarah, didn't show for our original meeting Friday morning. (I arrived on campus Friday at around 10:20AM, checked out the film editing equipment, then finally called her number at 10:50AM to hear her roommate say "She's asleep.") And so, today we met at 10AM to start editing our picture and video. But, of course, as my school life has been going lately, we found out Post Production didn't open until noon. So... I went to the lab to pass time and get some much needed catching up on e-mail and this journal.

When we did start editing our film at noon, Sarah was beyond anal about a lot of the stuff and I bit my tongue about a lot of stuff. By the time we finished (or rather, stopped for the day) five and a half hours later, I was about ready to bite her head off. I mean, I'm usually a pretty nice guy, but the editing was taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r and her obsessing over the smallest stuff only added exponentially to the time required.

I mean, this is probably too technical here, but she wanted to separate each of our five shots, so we did, looking for the clap mark. After cutting the picture reel into five parts, she wanted to go through the sound, looking for the clap mark again. The film is edge coded with identical numbering on the picture and sound after it is sunk to find the exact same place on each reel. Once we knew the first scene started at say BB0053, we didn't need to look for the X where we'd heard the clapboard, we simply had to find BB0053 on the sound reel. I explained this to Sarah, but she didn't believe me until I showed her that the X's on each reel were equal distances away from the same edge code number. And that was just a small slowdown.

So, anyway, I have to get up tomorrow morning and goto the "bullpen" to finish editing the film with her. I should be doing other things, like start writing a 15 page paper which is due Thursday, which have higher priority... but she's my partner.

Relatedly, I didn't even tell you guys that in one of my classes Thursday, a red head asked me if I'd be his partner and I flat out said no. That's how much I'm school partnered out.


April 28, 1998 - Tuesday


Missed me? Larry has too and he's been here all along.

Basically, life has been crazy, and I mean, CrAZy busy.

Tuesday, a week ago today, my COMM 321 classmates and I had to tell the rest of the class what we were doing for our "can-an-online-area-be-a-community" term paper. As we went around the room, it became more and more obvious that we each were doing an area in which we had interest. I mean, the sorority girl talked about how she was writing about alt.greeks (or something like that), the macho New York guy was doing a chat room about Howard Stern, and Eyelashes, as she's known here, talked about how she was doing a chat room dedicated to businessmen. (Though I guess her "interest" in businessmen was more in the men as she likes 'em rich. )

Anyway, we're going around the room and I'm realizing that I'll basically be coming out to the entire class as I say, "My paper's about the newsgroup soc.support.youth.gay-lesbian-bi." I mean, I'd told Eyelashes that I was gay without flinching: She knew, but I was going to tell 14 other probably straight people that I was gay AT ONCE! I'd had no real interactions to guage their opinions on the subject. In fact, I was pretty certain a couple of the guys, especially the Howard Stern one, wouldn't be too into it.

So we get to me and I say it. My heart is racing. My voice is cracking and I'm so flustered I can hardly speak, let alone form sentences to explain my paper and how I intend to analyze the group for the presence of community traits. But I make it through and we move onto the next girl... a black girl, who, of course, starts her talk with "I'm doing my paper about an African American newsgroup." Any doubt that I was doing a gay newsgroup "just because" was instantly eliminated.

Between the time the class was over and the time the next one met, I basically worked on the paper non-stop... and it was like pulling teeth. Trying to get 15+ pages about how the newsgroup showed signs of being a real community was nearly impossible. I went to bed at 1AM Wednesday night and got back up at 4:30AM. By the time I left for class, I'd managed to pull off 14 pages and use 9 sources. The minimum was 15 and 10... and one of my nine was simply used as a footnote to define a term... but the paper didn't suck. It wasn't great, by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't kill over dead due to stress like I seriously thought I was going to several times while writing it. That's what's important.

And, amazingly, when I got to class Thursday morning, no one was any different. The guy who usually sits beside me sat beside me. A guy who tends to sit on the other side of the room sat beside me on my other side. For a class with 5 guys, 10 girls, and about 20 computers, having guys sit on both sides me wasn't because they couldn't sit anywhere else, know what I mean? Everybody was, well, normal. Still amazing... even after all these years.


Brain fried, I came home and tried not to stress about the "group project" paper which was originally due the next day. I mean, I knew I wasn't going to have it done by the next day and that that was ok, but I also knew that I needed to have it done as soon as possible. Nevertheless, Larry wanted to go to La Jolla and I needed a mental break.

So I went and ended up staying awake until around 2AM writing the first "Friday's Thoughts..." newsletter and sending it out to about 115 people. Early Saturday morning I headed back to LA on a train to start the "group project" paper.

And then yesterday, having worked on it Saturday and Sunday and getting up at 6AM Monday, I finished it around 4PM. (It wasn't as painful as the community paper: It was just tedious to put together... 22 pages). I drove to school, dropped off the paper, drove back home, rented The Exorcist to watch about twenty minutes of it for film class, then headed back to campus for the last class of the semester. When it was done at ten o'clock, I was far from elated. I've still got two finals, a film to finish editing, and a Director project to create based on the movie Scream before the end of next week.


April 29, 1998 - Wednesday


You may remember that my Velo 1 (handheld computer) crashed during Spring Break. That one darkened LCD line in the middle of the screen finally went away... only to be replaced by one at the top of the screen and a rolling of the background when the backlight was on. Today, however, was the first day I had time to call technical support to deal with it.

Knowing that a call to technical support is always pleasant, I dialed the number listed for the extended warranty I'd purchased through PC Connection for an additional $74.95. At the time, Larry said I was crazy to buy it, but I told him that the Velo was small and therefore likely to get damaged someway or the other.

Anyway, I called technical support, talked to a lady to give her my information and problem, then was transferred to another lady who said she'd transfer me to a technician. By the time I actually got to him, I had a thirteen digit tracking number. (Like there were really a trillion technical problems going on at once.)

So, anyway, I tell him the problem and he told me to hold on for a second. He then comes back about a minute later and tells me that they don't cover the screens. More than a little flabbergasted that I'd paid $75 for an extended warranty that "didn't cover the screens," I explained as much to the guy and he basically gave me some song and dance about how that was standard in the industry because they were so fragile... and that I should call the manufacturer.

So I called Philips, spoke directly with the technician who answered the phone after a few touch-tone presses, and he walked me through a process which should fix the problem. I mean, I won't know until tomorrow if it worked as it takes 24 hours to complete, but the guy was friendly and helpful and never for a second led me to believe that the problem wouldn't be fixed. He even gave me a case number and told me to call back tomorrow if the fix wasn't successful. That's how a company should do business.

After getting off the phone with him, still pretty much outraged that I'd paid $75 for a warranty that didn't work, I fired off a letter to PC Connection.

                                9903 Santa Monica Blvd #170
                                Beverly Hills CA 90212
                                April 29, 1998

PC Connection
528 Route 13 South
Milford NH 03055-3442

Dear Sir or Madam:

Today I had incidence to call the support number provided with the extended warranty I purchased through your company. After being transferred several times, I talked with a technician who told me that they didnít cover any problems with the screens of Velo 1ís. Having paid an additional $74.95 for the extended coverage, I was more than a little upset. Perhaps you could tell me what problems are covered as it would seem any problem would appear through the screen.

Nevertheless, Iím requesting that you refund/cancel my "extended warranty." It is outright fraudulent and Iím surprised a company of your caliber would be intimately connected with such a company. I have always been very pleased when ordering from you. Your delivery of product is second to none. That makes this current situation all the more shocking and reprehensible:


                                Justin Clouse

I still can't get over the fact that a company exists which will be more than happy to take your $75 for an "extended warranty" but which balks at fulfilling their part of the deal. It's just not within my realm of morality.

On a slightly related note, some of you wrote to say that I came down too hard on United when my flight was delayed and I missed part of my class. I was blowing smoke for the most part. I'm not going to not fly United again, but I wanted them to know that on time flights are extremely important. No, I wouldn't want to fly on a plane that wasn't working correctly, but what's to stop airlines from having additional planes should the primary ones fail: nothing but profit. If the original plane is having problems, use the backup plane while the original plane is being fixed. There will no doubt be a plane flying the opposite route with problems as well. When that's the case, fly the backup plane back. It's not that implausible.

When I came to California, I thought Larry'd show me that having connections is the key to success. "It's not what you know, it's who you know" and all that... but the one thing I really learned from Larry is that you need to make your voice heard. You have to speak up when something is wrong. Otherwise, it'll be wrong for you and will continue to be wrong for others who follow. Larry cuts multi-million dollar deals. He knows how to get what he wants without being unfair and without being screwed over. I doubt I'll get a refund for that "extended warranty" but without saying anything, I know I won't. Someone is going to read this, order something from PC Connection, and decline the extended warranty when the telephone operator offers it because they read about my experience. I'm not single handedly changing corporate policy, but I am making a difference... to me and to others... and well, if I come across a little strong in a letter or two, it's because you often have to "scream" to be heard.

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© 1998 Justin Clouse


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