Category Archives: The More You Know…

Bring back button fly jeans

Somehow, button fly jeans are nearly impossible to find these days.  Dear fashion designers, please bring them back–they are the superior option for these reasons:

  • While zipper fly jeans zip up faster than button fly does, button fly jeans come open much faster than zip fly.  Unless you are doing dumb things in life, you need speed getting your jeans off more than you need it getting them on.
  • Button fly jeans preclude the very real possibility of a There’s Something About Mary situation.
  • Button fly jeans have 3 double layers of denim protecting your package.  Zip fly only has 2 double layers.
  • The extra layer of denim gives your package a little extra bulk if you need it.
  • Button fly jeans do not provide an electrically continuous pathway to your frank and beans.
  • Zip fly jeans are put on with top button first, then the zipper—that leads to potentially forgetting step 2 and leaving your fly open.  Button fly jeans are closed bottom to top, so there’s very little likelihood that you’ll need to XYZ PDQ.
  • Button fly jeans rarely open on their own.  The zipper on zip fly jeans often will zip down on their own.
  • Zip fly jeans are much easier to break than button fly.  And if you break a zipper on zip fly jeans, you are in for an expensive repair and your jeans will not close until they are repaired—particularly inconvenient if you are in the middle of an important event.  If you break a buttonhole on button fly jeans, you can still button the rest of the jeans, and the fix can be done quickly and inexpensively with a sewing kit.

Really, the only benefit to zip fly jeans is the ability to light a match on the zipper….which you can do on your teeth, so no benefit here unless you are toothless.

So please bring back the damn button fly jeans already.

 

How to obtain an NOC to transport ashes to India

UPDATE: for all the fuckin work I went through to get this certificate, we were never asked for it at any point during our travels to India (entry city was Kochi). I still recommend bringing a death certificate and cremation certificate…but you can probably skip the hassle of getting an NOC.

First of all…I’m sorry for your loss.  I’m also sorry that this may be the only note of sympathy that you may receive in the convoluted process of obtaining this document.

Welcome to the Consulate General of India’s San Francisco location, also known as the 12th circle of hell.  Dealing with them will make you yearn for your next trip to the DMV.

Ok…so there is conflicting and incomplete information on how to obtain an NOC (shit, their website doesn’t even tell you that “NOC” stands for “no objection certificate” whatever that means).  I’m gonna try to fill in the blanks for you:

  • Things to bring:
    • A completed Application for Miscellaneous Services.  Note that this should be filled out from the perspective of the deceased.  You do not need to attach a passport photo.  And the document doesn’t need to be signed, even if you want to pull a Weekend At Bernie’s with your deceased loved one (sorry, too soon?)
    • The deceased’s passport and a copy of it.  Note that they will invalidate the passport in some way (I think they’ll punch a hole in it)
    • A copy of your passport
    • The original death certificate and a copy
    • The original cremation certificate and a copy – the funeral home should provide this
    • A $42 money order or cashier’s check.  You don’t need to have 2 separate checks for the $40 death document fee and the $2 Indian Community Welfare Fee.
  • Other items you might want to bring because you are entering bureaucratic hell
    • The original burial transit permit and a copy – the funeral home should provide this
    • Your original passport
  • Other notes:
    • While the Consulate’s office is closed in San Francisco due to Covid, they do have a window where they will service your requests (at least NOC requests).  Despite what the website says, you do not have to handle this via mail.  While the office is open during normal business hours, you must submit the application by noon (and you might want to arrive earlier).  They’ll have the NOC ready for you to pickup between 430pm and 5pm the same day.  They will hassle you if you opt to come on a different day.
    • Do not forget to get a receipt when you submit the documents.
    • Despite the wide variety of languages spoken in India, they’ll treat you like an idiot if you don’t speak Hindi.
    • They don’t allow you to bring anything to the office—no cell phone, no backpacks, no purses, no strollers, no food/drink.  Just bring your paperwork.  Consider going naked just in case.
    • This information is for…
      • the San Francisco Consulate General—the other consulates in the US seem to have different policies.  For example, other offices have already reopened “post” Covid.
      • a US citizen non-resident Indian (NRI)—the policies might be different for citizens of other countries.
      • getting an NOC for ashes—the process might be different for other mortal remains.
    • This is all as of September 2022 and this info is subject to change, quite possibly at the whim of whoever you deal with there.
    • It is unclear if the NOC is needed to depart the US with ashes, to transit through a country with ashes, or to arrive in India with ashes.  Honestly, I’m not even sure if one even needs to have an NOC to bring ashes to India—will update later this year.
    • Don’t count on receiving a response from the contact form on the CGI SF website or from the Miscellaneous Department at misc.sf@mea.gov.in.  You might have to reach out to Consul General Prasad (cg.sf@mea.gov.in) to get someone to respond.

One last thing: they will reject your application and send you home for any reason they see fit.  I happened to have an email from them telling me that I only needed to bring a copy the deceased’s passport (not the original), so my application was approved.  The poor guy in front of me did not have such an email, so he was sent home.  Consider all the ways they might reject your application and be ready.  Consider all the possible outcomes and be ready.  You are going to war with the most ruthless of bureaucrats–bring your pedantic A-game.  Godspeed.

Attempting to Get to the Root of Spam Calls

I recently upgraded my T-Mobile plan, during which I learned about their Scam Shield app.  Scam Shield gives you an overview of your incoming calls, along with the ability to perform a reverse number lookup, which will tell you the company that handled the origination of the call.  Almost all of my spam calls were via VOIP and I’ve been attempting the likely futile effort of going after the spammers by reporting abuse to their VOIP carriers.  So far, I’ve been able to stop these repeated calls from a specific pair of phone numbers that were handled by Twilio.  So…if you wish to join me in this Sisyphean quest, get Scam Shield and then report these numbers to the spammers VOIP carriers.  Here’s a link to the various abuse reporting pages:

  • Bandwidth
  • IP Horizon – no link because these asshats don’t have a means to report abuse.
  • Onvoy
  • Twilio

Fees for Publication of Legal Notices in San Francisco

I need to renew the Fictitious Business Name (FBN, aka DBA) for my business, which requires publication of a notice in a “legally adjudicated newspaper”. Per SF law, the notice must be published weekly for 4 weeks.  SFGov has a list of such newspapers, but neither the list nor most of the papers themselves publish their fees.  So…I’ll spare you all the trouble of calling each one to see who is the cheapest.  Note that some of these publications will handle the actual registration and paperwork for you for an additional fee.

Side note: in San Francisco, you don’t need to publish the legal notice for FBN renewals if no information (address, name, etc) has changed.

Fixing recurring Windows Installer whenever Explorer is run

Event viewer

My PC (Win 10 x64) was having an issue where Windows Installer would run every time Windows Explorer was run (including showing the desktop on startup).  This somehow locked up the PC almost completely, except running task manager so that I could kill Explorer.  None of the suggested fixes (msiexec /Unregister, msiexec/regserver; DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth; sfc /scannow) seemed to help.  So…I checked out the Event Viewer and saw the warning shown above, Googled “msvcr110.dll does not exist” and saw that I needed to repair the Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012 Update 4. And that took care of it–right before I was about to wipe the drive and reinstall clean.  I hadn’t seen this fix anywhere else, so I thought I’d post it for some other poor soul who manages to make their way here.

Replacing the Touch Screen Digitizer on a 2nd Gen Lexus IS250/IS350

Photo Credit: Scott Lam

The touch screen stopped responding on my wife’s Lexus IS250 last weekend, apparently a common issue with the 2nd generation IS250.  Looks like a $2500 repair if you go to the dealer…or a $25 part I picked up on Amazon (ugh, F you Jeff Bezos).  Took 2 hours for someone who is relatively comfy working on cars–if you have replaced a car stereo on a modern-ish card, you can do this.

Things to know:

  • I followed Scott Lam’s guide on how to do the replacement (thanks, kind internet stranger!), which is mostly correct, except the following:
    • Instead of Scott’s post on removing the head unit, I’d recommend following this video (or at least the first half of it)–this method makes accessing the lower 2 head unit mount screws easier.  Note that in the video, they put a blanket over the center console–I strongly recommend doing that.
    • Scott’s guide doesn’t mention that there are 4 screws (2 on each side, see image above) on the head unit which secure the fascia.  Also, you don’t have to remove the lower fascia around the stereo–just the upper one around the navigation system.
  • I’d hit the perimeter of the screen with a heat gun for 15-30 seconds before cutting through the laminating tape with an X-acto knife.  I got lucky, but I could see how you might cut the screen with the knife if you aren’t careful, so maybe only insert the blade 1/4″ to be safe.
  • Goo-Gone and a plastic scraper is the easiest/safest way to remove the original double-sided tape.
  • The replacement digitizer I bought from Amazon came with cut-to-size double-sided tape (and some extra) which made reinstallation a snap.
  • Take pix of the cables going into the head unit before you start unhooking things.  I didn’t see where the TPMS cable plugs in (it goes into the blue box on top of the head unit)…and my wife’s car doesn’t have the Mark Levinson DVD player, so there’s a blue jack on the head unit that doesn’t have anything plugged into it.
  • Apparently there was a recall on the dashboard, which turns into a melty putty by around now.  If you didn’t get the recall done, then be extra careful pulling out and reinstalling the nav unit lest you accidentally take a chunk of the dash out.  And if you do, here’s Scott Lam’s guide to fixing that with Sugru.

The major upside is that while researching this repair, I found out how to add Carplay to her 13 year old car–will post on that when I finish the upgrade.

UPDATE: when reassembling the frame on the screen, be sure to tuck the copper ground straps (see yellow arrows below) back INTO the frame.  I left one sticking out on accident, which then was intermittently shorting to another component, causing the display to go blank unexpectedly over the last several months.  Was a PITA to diagnose, but I finally found out where I screwed up.

Image from Hey Jeff’s Youtube video on how to do the replacement.

A bass guitar WILL fit in the overhead bin of a United CRJ-200 aircraft

Googled this for a couple of hours and had to find out for myself. My 4 string Ibanez GSR200 in a Fender gig bag fit into the overhead bin no problem (aside from making me the asshole who took up the entire overhead bin) on a United Airlines CRJ-200 (SFO to ABQ). Hopefully Google will pick this up so some other poor soul doesn’t have anxiety about whether they can carry on their bass so that they can perform at their wedding reception.

Realtime, Granular Air Quality Data from PurpleAir.com

So it’s wildfire season again (a little early this year), and with Covid, we need to be more mindful of the air quality–both because poor air quality makes us more susceptible to infection, and also because it’s hard to do outdoor socially-distant activities when the air is too crappy to breathe.  In San Francisco, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) maintains 4 air quality sensors, but only one with 2.5 micron particulate (PM2.5) measurement capabilities–on Arkansas St at 16th St in the Dogpatch.  It’s hard to extrapolate what the rest of the city’s air quality looks like based on a single sensor.

Enter PurpleAir–they have a network of thousands of their individually-owned sensors world-wide, and around 100 sensors across San Francisco.  Whereas the BAAQMD says that the AQI in SF is 64 right now, PurpleAir’s network shows that pretty much only the Mission, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and Mission Bay have AQI levels higher than 64–the rest of the city is clear.  The PurpleAir data is realtime also, whereas the BAAQMD data gets updated hourly.  And the PurpleAir map’s interface seems easier to use.

Very cool stuff–I’m considering purchasing the outdoor version of their models to help us know when we can keep the windows open at the office to improve ventilation and reduce Covid risk.