There are some people who are quite certain that hell does not exist. I'm not in a position to prove its existence one way or another, or to gripe at them for having faith in not having faith. I am, however, prepared to argue that little bits of hellishness creep their way into workaday existence, and I'm in the mood to grumble about some of them right about now.

For instance, there are these people:

Many people know very little about how telemarketers work and as a result they continue to receive unwanted calls. At GCS we recognize and respect the fact that not everyone wants to receive calls from us and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to stop receiving them so we'd like to take the time to tell you all the ways to do so.

First, don't be afraid to just answer the phone. Sometimes people see that we've called several days in a row and so they don't answer the phone because they think it will result in more calls. Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect. When we can't reach you we try again at another time hoping you'll be free.

Like hell. If I don't want to talk to you, I shouldn't have to talk to you to tell you so. I could block them with my call screener, but the bastards have a dozen or more different numbers, and they keep deploying different ones all the time. I consider this highly scummy, and until such time as they put up a proper Web form to get out from under their robocallers I should not have to send them email I will continue to think so.

Addendum, 8 March: I did actually send them email, and to my delight, they actually responded. For now, consider that particular grumble withdrawn.

Next: My Web host, like all such, has occasional issues. One of them hardly ever comes into play, but when it does, it's a genuine pain:

Dreamhost's default MySQL client does not use UTF-8 encoding, so you will need to modify the wp-include/wp-db.php to include this line:

$this->query("SET NAMES UTF8");

It would be nice if they actually said where to include that line, and I hate messing with WordPress php files anyway. This presents no problem, though, so long as I'm sticking to fairly standard HTML entities. And then last night I did a piece on the Thunder-Timberwolves game, and it seemed important to mention Minnesota backup center Darko Miličić, and as is my wont, I wanted to get all the diacritical marks correct. I downloaded something like 100 MB of PDFs from the Unicode people and didn't find one particular code I needed. Eventually, I had to back my way through a series of otherwise useful charts at Penn State, where the one page I needed wasn't linked from anywhere else and I had to guess at the location. Sheesh.

Besides, every time there's a core update to WordPress, it seems like wp-db.php gets rewritten anyway.

Finally, I still resent the idea that I should be drawn into small talk, be it for the sake of greasing the social wheels, or just to satisfy someone's curiosity. I need to work on controlling the narrative a bit better. (If you're thinking that this paragraph might be aimed at you, there's probably a damned good reason for it.)

The Vent

  22 February 2010
Updated 8 March 2010

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 Copyright © 2010 by Charles G. Hill