Fight Fire With Fire


This is how I have been responding to spam lately.

The original:

From: Onain onainreddy@aol.com
Date: 2/5/21 7:27 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Subject: Why Not Host your Web Site With Us!

Hi world,

“You can get a premium look on your website with a minimum effort.”

If you are looking for the new website design, then please share your requirements or a reference website if possible so that we could discuss your requirements further.

Looking forward to hearing your valuable response.

Thanks!

Onain

My Reply:

From: “world.and.lunar.domination” world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Date: 2/5/21 4:09 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Onain onainreddy@aol.com
Subject: RE: Why Not Host your Web Site With Us!

Hello Onain!

Do you like coffee or tea? You definitely need an A-Maze Mug! It really goes well with any warm beverage like hot chocolate or apple cider.

https://ci3apparel.bigcartel.com/product/a-maze-mug

Please, buy one or two today!

Cheers,

– @AiXeLsyD13

PS – My phone tried to autocorrect you to Onion and Orion. Onain the Orion Onion would make a great children’s book. Perhaps being an author would be more profitable that writing spam emails?

Would you like to buy an A-Maze Mug?

So, you’re buying someone (or yourself) a first guitar?


I’m in a lot of guitar-related Facebook groups. I’m probably in a lot more guitar -related (and general music-related) Facebook groups that ought to be allowed. I see a lot of talk about guitars, and a lot of opinions about guitars. People are very strong and vocal about their opinions. (Did you see the guitar bingo cards?)

One post I see quite often is someone who is buying a guitar for their kid, or even one for themselves. It usually contains no details or insight and boils down to “I am buying my kid a guitar, what should I get?” or “I want to try playing guitar, what is the best one to buy?”

The responses come in swiftly and are predictably all over the place. Guitarists who frequent guitar-related Facebook groups are a wild bunch. It’s hard to get a good feel when advice is all over the place.

I am certainly no guitar expert. Hell, I’m not even that great of a player. Ha ha. I have, however, played a very large variety of guitars over the years. I happen to own a wide variety of guitars and am a bottom-feeder of sorts… All of which I feel plays well into qualifying me to dole out advice on the matter of a starter guitar.

First Guitar & Gift Guitar Purchase Guide

First, you need to ask yourself some questions. We need more to go one than “Which guitar should I buy?”

  • What’s your budget?
  • What kind of music do you listen to?
  • What guitarists (or musicians, bands, artists) do you enjoy?
  • What would you like to sound like?

If this is a GIFT guitar, this becomes tricky if you want it to remain a surprise. You’ve got to do some homework. If a kid is dreaming he wants and Explorer or a Jaguar and you get him a Stratocaster or an SG, there may be some disappointment or it sitting in the corner for a bit.

What do you see yourself or what does the recipient see themselves playing? What kind of noise is yearning to be made? Get an idea of a shape in mind, maybe even a color… or whatever is there sparking that interest.

Learn the difference between single-coils, humbuckers, and P-90’s. See what the people you want to sound like play.

Don’t rush it.

Look at Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, ShopGoodwill.com, ebay, Music Go Round, Reverb, Craigslist, etc. See what floats your boat or calls out. Something will catch your attention. Something will call you. Something will pull you. It might not be the exact guitar you want, but it gives you a place to start looking, at styles or brands.

Check local Facebook sale groups too. I help moderate one for my area and it is a FANTASTIC place to get great deals on gear, ask, & answer questions, etc. It’s also all invite-only so it’s relatively drama free.

I’m largely ignoring acoustics, but that may be what you want. They are so versatile and a great place to start learning.

Go to a music store and pour over the stuff. (I know things are different right now with a global Covid-19 pandemic, but I hope they will eventually return to a much more normal state of existence. Please follow the guidelines in a store or if meeting someone to purchase via an online ad.) Play it all. See what feels good.

Soon you’ll have a Pinterest board for beautiful, weird, ugly, and random guitars you find on the internet.

All the references I can think of for name-dropping for guitar players are ancient. But if you want to play like Slash and you get a John Mayer guitar, it’s not going to be as exciting, right?

Get your budget set. I personally stick to cheap guitars and I love them. You can get some really nice guitars for $300. One group I frequent calls anything $500 & under cheap. I can dig that. You can also get some great guitars for $100 if you’re looking in all the right places.

Used gear is a great place to start. Stuff depreciates rapidly. Stores pay pennies on the dollar for value so they’re able to make a profit, so the best bang-for-your-buck may be some sort of local online sale. Although, Music Go Round seems to have reasonable used prices in person.

Avoid any listings online that say “great for beginners” or “great for a first guitar” or “great for kids.” Loosely translated this means “this guitar is a steaming pile of poop.” Usually it has terrible action, won’t hold a tune or even intonate properly, or has some other hidden issues.

If anyone lists something online for free and says “Make an offer” they are the worst kind of person, so just keep scrolling.

Don’t pay over $50 for a used First Act unless it was one that came with a Volkswagen. They were $50 new at Walmart. Some brands with great budget axes can include Squier, Lotus, Hondo, Dean, Hamer, Schecter, Ibanez, New York Pro, Galveston, G&L, Peavy, Epiphone, Kramer, and so many more outside of the ones everyone seems to know like Fender and Gibson. Don’t pay too much attention to the headstock logo though.

I would also probably be wary of new “starter packs” that come with a tiny amp. Do your research & read reviews on that kind of stuff.

Stick to your budget & play everything that you can that resembles what you’re looking at online. You might like a heavy guitar or a light guitar. You might like a wide neck or a skinny neck. You might like a thin neck or a heavy one.

If you want a cheap new guitar and are not concerned with the logo on the headstock, I cannot recommend Agile or SX and Xaviere enough. I hear nothing but good things and they’re just great axes. I have heard mixed reviews on Hard Luck Kings.

Whatever you buy, I suggest, and a I cannot stress this enough, get a pro setup. Find local music shop… preferably from work of mouth or asking locals online. Find someone that recommends a tech or luthier that does great work. This person will ask you questions. Give honest answers. I suggest getting a lighter gauge pack of strings at first. Tell them you want 9’s. I would say $75 for a pro setup and a few bucks for a new pack of strings will make even the rattiest of guitars into beautiful machines. Figure it into your budget if you need to.

If you’re close to Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs, I may even recommend the guy that has polished some of my proverbial turds and made them into rock n’ roll machines.

Amps? Well, amps are whole different animal. There are headphone amps, practice amps, and combo amps. It’s all in the budget/preference mix. Maybe that will need to be another blog post?

You (or the gift recipient) will fall in love with the guitar if you get the right one. Soon you’ll have GAS.

Don’t hesitate to ask me any specific advice here in the comments or with the contact form.

Feel free to add to my advice, or contradict it in the comments!

I’m not Arby’s.


At least, I don’t think I am.

My reply?

Hello F____,

I’m not Arby’s.  You must have found my blog posts about jalapeño poppers and Bronco Berry Sauce.

I don’t have the meats,
-AiXeLsyD13

Simple.

Arby's :: Bronco Berry Sauce®
Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®

It’s interesting to me that people find my stupid blog contact from when looking doe something else entirely. How inept at the internet must one be to contact me instead of a large corporation?

She had to have read, or more likely ignored, one of these posts:

  1. Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®
  2. OCCUPY ARBY’S
  3. You may call me… “Bronco Jalapeño”
  4. Conflicting Information from Arby’s… (Help Bronco Jalapeño write a song!)
  5. Bronco Jalapeño Rides Again!

Also, anyone remember these?

That doesn’t even get into the Subway stuff.

Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Restaurants need to die.


…Or just be honest.

It’s been a while since I have ranted about food allergies. I know the world is in chaos, especially in the United Sates right now. But, this is exactly the sort of time when stuff like this is overlooked. We’ve already had allergy-warning-label rollbacks since the start of the pandemic, and the COVID-19 vaccine raises true food allergy concerns to me anyway.

Say no to ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant shenanigans. It’s a nightmare for non-disclosure or potential food allergens & cross contamination.

Ghost kitchens scare the shit out of me, as it comes to food allergies and cross-contamination issues.

Say a wing place pops up online and their menu features only chicken wings, fries, and cheese sticks… seems safe for me. But, as a person with severe food allergies… the place could have a full kitchen and share cooking surfaces and/or fryers with shellfish, to which I am highly allergic.

I like to see a restaurant’s full menu. I determine where I may go after looking at menus online. If they’re not showing the full picture, that is a lie to the consumer. It’s even better if they can provide a chart for allergen ingredients or better yet cross-contamination.

I don’t see an added value from deception.

Pasqually’s is just Chuck E. Cheese. Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza apparently has a wing place with items that aren’t available in the restaurant? Neighborhood Wings is Applebee’s? American Grilled Cheese Co. is King’s Family Restaurant? (King’s is a potential food-allergy nightmare because of their CONSTANTLY changing menu… and don’t get me started on Applebee’s.)

If any of these places carry something that could be a trigger and it’s not disclosed on BOTH menus, they’re setting themselves up to cause some anaphylaxis.

In general, transparency is the way to go. Just look at your government as a bad example of this.

Evil Deceitful Pasqually

Get an A-Maze Mug! c[_]


Hey, we talked about it before… No one, not two, but three times.

It’s finally here! Get an A-Maze Mug from Ci3! How cool is that? Each mug comes with a dry-erase marker so you can solve the maze, both in a nifty box covered in mazes!

A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13
A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13

More cool maze-related merch coming soon. What else would you like to see? Socks? Masks? T-shirts? Books? Puzzles? Mirrors? Tiles?

I haven’t ever done anything to make my mazes available for any kind of sale, so this is exciting to me. What do you think?

I am eternally grateful to Mike Copen for the nudge and the opportunity. It’s so cool for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, & creative types to support each other.

Of course, I think they’d make great gifts for friends, family, teachers, co-workers, or even anyone that may be hard to buy for. Who doesn’t like a nice warm beverage? Solving the maze with the dry erase marker is a good opportunity to kind of zone out in a zen-like state, to help you regain focus to start the day or even decompress at the end of a long day! I know that’s the drive behind drawing them.

These would be great for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, ramen, or one of my soup recipes.

Please, share the link if you’re so inclined. I’d like to see how far these can go. Thanks in advance if you plan on making a purchase!

Diarrhea & the CDC


With the world plunged into chaos due to COVID-19, it is important to remember other ways to keep safe.

Diarrhea and swimming don't mix!

🏊‍♀️💩🏊‍♂️

Thankfully, the CDC has your back! They also have secured the services of a graphic designer that is nothing short of a hero.

Diarrhea will never not be funny. Well, maybe if you lived at the time of the Oregon Trail it may have not been funny.

Diarrhea makes me laugh. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell jokes make me laugh. Remember the Pizza Hut maze and tweet? Government makes me laugh. Twitter makes me revile in disgust, but also laugh.

I wonder if the government or Yum! Brands will reply?

I once got a proclamation about food allergies from then-Governor Ed Rendell containing the word diarrhea and I was ecstatic.

This was equally exciting.

DON'T SWIM WITH DIARRHEA
🧻🦄🚽

Maze Mugs? A-Maze Mugs? a-MAZE-ing Socks?


Did you see the first post and the last post about the maze mugs?  Mike has been doing some fun stuff, and I have (very slowly) been working on mazes for the box.  Also, Mike posted some fun stuff:

Check out this packaging!

View this post on Instagram

Test mockup for the maze mugs.

A post shared by Ci3 (@___ci3___) on

 

More than one maze per mug so you don’t get bored!

 

Click through on the socks to see the second photo!

View this post on Instagram

A-maze Mug dress socks? Mug-sock giftbox?

A post shared by Ci3 (@___ci3___) on

 

So, what do you think? Want to see mazes on anything else? Want them solvable? Like that packaging or love it? Check out Mike’s other stuff on Instagram!  He has been making some killer skateboard decks and a topical T-shirt.

I won’t get into the COVID-19 / Novel Coronavirus outbreak here, but if you’re bored in quarantine… remember you can do all of my mazes.  It’d be cool if you finished one, posted on the social media platform of your choice & tagged me.

I need to put a maze on a guitar. I need to update photos of my collection. I want to catalog them here since the sites I have found to do it don’t really suit my needs. Add that to the endless list of unnecessary projects to be completed “someday.”

Patience is a virtue. Totino’s pushes the boundaries of scientific research thanks to me.


arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate

“arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate”

Oh man.  Does anyone remember my W(aL)D email shenanigans from a decade ago?

One such adventure was writing to Totino’s to ask if they had recommendations for microwaving more than 6 at a time.  They wrote back.  I asked them if I needed to arrange the rolls like wagon wheel spokes or like wagons on the Oregon Trail circling for protection.  I even got some 35¢ coupons that I considered as a research grant.

Have you noticed pizza roll cooking instructions lately?

I won! Information for the people! Research to benefit the masses!

Really though.  This brings up a new series of questions.

When did just arranging in “a single layer become” acceptable?  Who does Totino’s think they are discarding the time-honored tradition of microwaving things in a circle?  Did we learn nothing from our ancestors at Stonehenge?  Did they consult the Softstix team over at SuperPretzel, or just roll forward (pun still intended) with wild abandon?  How do you summon the flavor spirits without the ceremonial circle?

Has the Fibonacci spiral ever been tested as a cooking pattern?  Can Ci3 make me a plate specifically for microwaving pizza rolls and little cheese-filled pretzels with the Fibonacci spiral on it?

Totino's Pizza Roll Microwave Instructions

Can you get the quarter to the cart & avoid the aisle of shame? (My Aldi maze.) 🛒


I know most online Aldi groups call it the Aisle of Shame. Can you get through the maze without going there?

There are some crazy Aldi fans in Facebook groups out there. There are some people who like mazes out there. Is there much of an overlap?

  1. Print this.
  2. Solve it.
  3. Snap a photo.
  4. Post it on social media.
  5. Tag me. (@AiXeLsyD13)

It’s really that simple. You can even skip the printing and solve it on your phone or tablet usong a note app or photo editor if so inclined.

Teal Pumpkins Are Not a Political Issue.


Never read the comments.

I wish I could follow that advice. Wading through the temperamental pool that is social media, one occasionally finds a bright spot in a news story. I thought I found that with an article posted by a local news channel notifying those that aren’t already in the know about the significance of teal pumpkins.  It subtly linked to this cool little video:

Simple enough, right?

It’s a brief article explaining the significance and the history of the Teal Pumpkin Project.  If you go through to the FARE website, you an even get free activities and advice for non-food treats.  We have participated since 2014, and I have written about it before.

View this post on Instagram

#HappyHalloween! #TealPumpkinProject #StaySafe!

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

Then, I read the comments.

Some people are garbage.  I mean, I know that is harsh, and I know what we are supposed to be kind to everyone, but that can be a struggle when people out themselves as disgusting human beings.  Did these people not ever watch Mister Rogers?

I think this is why they are teaching kids these days to “Be The I in Kind” or to Be the kind kid.  They’re not going to pick it up at home if these are the mentoring adults.

REALLY.

 

I had a few replies that still stand.

To some nut job making this political:

Just so I can understand, how do any of the following (totally optional) things ruin your holiday, and just exactly how are they associated with liberals?

1. Putting out a symbol to indicate that your house is safe for food allergies.

2. Providing nut and/or gluten free treats, and maybe even non-food treats in addition to whatever you normally provide.

3. Displaying compassion and empathy to others already afflicted with a life-altering medical condition.

4. Teaching others by example how to be kind to others.

I never did get a direct reply there.

To the uniformed, absolutely resisting this new information:

No one is forcing you to buy a teal pumpkin or to pass out allergen safe treats. The article is just to inform you of the meaning so you don’t buy one as a decoration just because it matches your cold frozen emotionless heart.

Just some more advice:

We have been doing this for years. Having food allergies myself, dining out, social gatherings, and many events can be a harrowing experience.

We have 3 separate bowls… traditional things like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, nut-free stuff like Smarties, and a bowl of totally non-food treats like pencils, stickers, little toys, etc.

We help spread awareness, the toys go as well as the candy, and hopefully we teach a bit of kindness and empathy.

I don’t even have the energy to get into the “it’s been a tradition for hundreds of years” comment.  I think candy and trick or treating weren’t a thing until about the 1920’s in the United States… so that’s ONE hundred years ago at best.  The push for chocolate was after WWII’s rationing… So, kick it back to 70 or so years.  Earlier Celtic/Samhain traditions probably didn’t involve candy, but what do I know?

So please, this year, show a little compassion, empathy, and kindness.  Pass the word along to your friends, family, and neighbors.  You don’t have to preach about it, but you can lead by example.  Also, learn to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction for yourself, your friends, and your community.  You may help save someone’s life!  That is, if it doesn’t inconvenience you in any way or support the grand liberal agenda.