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Race Is Never A Simple Black-And-White Issue

, , , , | Friendly | June 26, 2021

I am picking up my friend to take her to my house for dinner. I am cooking for several of my friends. The friend in my car has a black mother and a white father.

Friend: “Who else is going to be there?”

Me: “[Vietnamese Friend] and her friend and [Chinese Friend] and her boyfriend.”

Friend: *Laughs* “Oh, wow, so you’re going to be the only white person there?”

Me: “No.”

Friend: “Who else?”

Me: “You.”

Friend: “What? I’m not white.”

Me: “Yes, you are. You are half-white. You are just as much white as you are black.”

My friend speaks as if she is just having an epiphany.

Friend: “Oh, wow, I never thought of that.”

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Retail: The Final Frontier

, , , , , , , | Working | April 28, 2021

It’s late 2009 and a famous movie rental chain is on its way out, so the local branches are selling off their inventory before they close down for good. I missed seeing the first “Star Trek” reboot movie in theaters, so I decide to see if I can snag a discounted copy of the DVD to watch at home.

For those who don’t follow “Star Trek” closely, the first six movies made in the 1970s to 1990s all had numbers II to VI in their titles, besides the first movie, and they were based on the crew of the original series. The next four movies featured the crew from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and they dropped the movie numbers from the official titles — probably to avoid newer fans of “Star Trek” thinking they needed to watch six older movies to catch up before seeing “Star Trek Generations” in theaters.

Since the first of the reboot movies was just called, “Star Trek,” fans sometimes refer to it as “Star Trek XI” to identify what we are talking about.

The store is pretty cluttered as they have been working to get rid of as much stuff as possible.

Me: “Excuse me, do you have any copies of Star Trek XI left?”

Employee #1: *Confused* “There were only six Star Trek movies ever made.”

Me: “No, there’ve been eleven. There’s a mural dedicated to the latest one right behind you!”

The employee slowly turns around to look at the entire wall of the store with the new NCC-1701 painted on it before slowly turning back to stare at me, confused.

Employee #2: “He’s talking about the new one that came out last summer.”

Employee #1: “Oh.”

The first employee went into a closet and retrieved the DVD I requested, which I then purchased.

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This Is An Ex-Computer!

, , , , , | Friendly | February 3, 2021

My friend asks me to visit her one weekend to help with some household tasks, including diagnosing and repairing a tower computer that will not boot. When I arrive, I try turning on her computer and it indeed appears grim. It cannot successfully pass POST and nothing is displayed on the screen, an amber light flashes on the front, and it gives a loud diagnostic beep code. My friend is not very technically educated but she has taken the initiative to read the troubleshooting manual and says that the beep code and flashing indicate that the issue is with the power supply or motherboard. I agree and remove the casing and immediately spot the problem; many of the capacitors on the motherboard are obviously swollen and domed up on the top.

Me: “Bad news: your computer is damaged beyond repair. See all these capacitors? They are all puffed up. Either oxygen somehow leaked inside of them or, more likely, the computer was subjected to a power surge. I recommend getting a surge protector and keeping your computer plugged into it instead of plugging it directly into the wall.”

Friend: “Can you fix it?”

The computer is a lower-range computer for basic needs and it still uses IDE cables during the time when SETA has become the new standard and IDE is on its way out.

Me: “I could order a new motherboard and put it in, but it would cost more than the computer is worth. You’re better off getting a new one.”

Friend: “Aww, but I like this computer; it’s really good. Isn’t there anything you could do? I think it might be the power supply; the manual says that a bad power supply could be the problem.”

Me: “It could, but it isn’t. See these capacitors around the processor and RAM? They are blown.”

I take her hand and rub her fingers over the domed capacitors.

Me: “Feel that? Compare that to these ones that are still good.”

I move her hand over some good capacitors.

Me: “It is definitely the motherboard.”

Friend: “Can you try replacing the power supply and see if it still works?”

I try to convince her that whether or not something happens to also be wrong with the power supply is irrelevant because the computer will not function without those capacitors on the motherboard, but she insists on seeing if her computer will work with a new power supply. I relent and drive out to pick up a power supply. I return and plug it in without installing it because I know it will be pointless. As predicted, the computer behaves no differently, so I box the power supply up to return later.

Friend: “Can you fix the motherboard?”

Me: “Theoretically, it would be possible to solder replacement capacitors into the board, but it would be a lot of difficult work, and I’d be highly likely to accidentally damage other components and create shorts because those solder points are really tiny.”

Friend: “How much do those capacitors cost?”

Me: “[Friend], I’m not going to do that. This is a disposable computer; it is meant to be kept for a few years to do basic things and then thrown out when a major component inevitably fails. You got your money’s worth out of this machine and it is time to get a new one.”

Friend: “But I really like this one!”

Me: “I know, but it really was not a great computer and there’s nothing that can be done to repair it. I have a PATA enclosure I can use to recover data from your hard drive; is there anything in it you want to save?”

She confirms and I promise to bring my enclosure with me when I stop over tomorrow to help with other things. I go to the living room to rest while her mother prepares us dinner, and I see my friend holding the manual for her computer and softly reading out loud from the troubleshooting section.

Me: “[Friend]! Stop troubleshooting! Your computer is dead! It’s over! You lost!”

Friend: *Laughing* “Shut up.”

I did recover her data the next day, and she had accepted that there was nothing practical that could be done to restore her computer, but even after she had a new one, it took her months before she finally recycled its corpse. She now keeps her computer insulated with a surge protector.

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So Much For The Warm Fuzzies

, , , , , | Friendly | November 12, 2020

My cat is seventeen years old and is nearing the end of her life. She’s very skinny and I have to force a steroid pill down her mouth so she can eat without getting sick.

My friend is visiting today. When she sits down on my couch, my cat immediately gets up from the other side of the couch and walks over to curl up on her lap. My friend is delighted by this and exclaims to me as she pets my cat.

Friend: “Look! She likes me! She came right over and sat on my lap.”

Me: “She’s cold.”

Friend: “What?”

Me: “Because she’s old, she’s lost a lot of her muscle and body fat, so she likes having a warm body around to help regulate her body temperature.”

My friend looks disappointed as she continues petting the cat.

Friend: “Thanks a lot.”

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The Nut Jokes Are Too Easy

, , , , , , | Learning | October 28, 2020

I’m going to my college to use one of the engineering labs during the weekend. There is some sort of event happening on campus and a small group of people is there walking around.

My campus has a very large amount of trees. As a result of those trees, we have a large population of grey squirrels. After many generations of the students and faculty feeding them snacks and not chasing them around, the squirrels are very tame and you can feed them out of your hands.

Two mothers and their son, who appears to be eight or nine, are looking at a squirrel a few feet away from them that’s standing on her hind legs. I walk up to them because they are by the entrance to the building.

Boy: “Wow, it’s just standing there. It’s not running away.”

Me: “She is very tame; she thinks you might give her food.”

Boy: “Oh, it’s a girl? How can you tell?”

Me: “Well, how do you tell apart boy and girl humans?”

Boy: “Uh… in animals, aren’t the boys more beautiful?”

Me: “That’s birds.”

Boy: “Oh.”

He stands there looking at the squirrel, trying to figure out how I have deduced its sex.

I turn to the mothers and they are quieting their giggles, having caught on to what the boy has not.

Me: “Can I say it?”

The mothers nod.

Me: *To the boy* “You can see her vagina.”

Boy: *Suddenly realizing* “Ohhhhh!”

The mothers just laughed.

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