Friday, September 30, 2005

Thought Of The Day - 093005

I really loved Anne Rice's book The Vampire Lestat and read it before The Vampire Chronicles (rare for me because I'm very anal about reading or watching things in order.) Yet, I've developed a big fear of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's new musical Lestat. For some reason, I've got this idea that they will spend 13 minutes in the middle of the show on a number called "I Want To Suck You Dry." I'll have to wait for the reviews.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Say My Name

You've had it happen to you before. You are checking out at the grocery store counter and the clerk looks at your store savings card or credit card and says, "Thank you for shopping with us Mr. Hennessy." Well, probably not the same last name but businesses have taken more notice of customer service. As competitive as things get in the world, you can only do so many things to bring a customer back. One of those is to offer them the cheapest price on the planet which will leave you to make barely enough to pay your employees. The second way is to give the aura of personalized service where everyone feels like Norm walking into the Cheers bar.

This doesn't always work though. My unnamable position at the big green building requires us to go overboard. We are required to say their name twice in conversation with them by penalty of supervised training courses. This can also make you feel a little more uncomfortable when someone keeps saying your name yet you don't know theirs and have never met them before. Sure, we are also supposed to sell them on every product in the building and show certain obvious features. What makes the situation silly and a customer service nightmare is when you are given the wrong name to address the person. Either it is a misspelling from an earlier transaction, someone else made their arrangements under a different name at the big green building or they aren't supposed to be there. But, if you spent a week somewhere and were called the wrong name at least 6 to 8 times a day, you would feel the incompetence level of the business is extremely high after correcting each person. Furthermore, you'd be pretty frustrated and want as little contact as possible.

Our parents work so hard to give us good names (then again, some don't) to enter our lives with. Many times we'll be asked our names as a form of introduction. Yet, a line should be drawn when they become thrown about haphazardly, misspoken or trivialized by people who are there to serve your needs.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Sometimes, I ask myself if I'm getting all the information that I possibly can. Is what I get slanted, biased or unfounded? That's one reason why I tend to read and watch a little from every side so I can make up my own mind. But, sometimes some things don't get reported. How do you how your senator or representative voted on particular issues or if they even bothered to vote?

That's why I signed up back some time ago at Government Guide. Every so often you are sent an e-mail telling you how the people representing you in your state are voting. There is something reassuring knowing that I get an untainted view of who voted for what (a simple Yes or No vote.) The only thing that is missing is a list of the riders on some of those bills being passed or declined. Also handy is the product and car recalls list in the Citizen Toolbox.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Just A Bill

I grew up on cartoons and yes, many may note that I haven't given up on them entirely (the Smurfs killed everything good about Saturday mornings in the U.S.) One staple of the weekend flurry of morning entertainment was School House Rock (great DVD collection, btw.) This was the perfect vehicle to teach children as you entertain them with catchy songs.

As you know, my mind wanders and sometimes finds some odd items in the nooks and crannys of my brain. Today, for some reason, I couldn't get one thought out of my mind... 'What kind of bill was he?' In the song "I'm Just A Bill", we find out that Bill is waiting in line with lots of other bills to get passed in either the House or Senate with hopes to be a law. For some reason, I just want to know what kind of bill he was.

The episode was first aired in 1975. Could it have been the amendment to federal voting rights laws adding protection from voting discrimination for language minority citizens? Could it have been the Age Discrimination Act? Maybe the Education For All Handicapped Children Act, the Metric Conversion Act, the Firearms Control Regulations Act, the Pension Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Buying Services Act, the Energy Policy And Conservation Act, the Tax Reduction Act, the Financial Institutions Act or even the International Development And Food Assistance Act could all have been possibilities. There are many more that I can list... but I'm starting to think that it was a very long year in line for some of those bills.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Legalize It

When it comes to political leanings, I've defined myself as a free-thinking laissez faire capitalist. What does that all mean? It pretty much puts me inbetween parties and closest to being a Libertarian (although, I find myself less happy with their methodology.) I believe that trade is important. I value each individual state over the federal government. (We are a united 50 states but it doesn't mean we can't have different values and beliefs.) I think that government interference with trade creates a bigger federal government. With all that, I also believe in legalizing marijuana.

It might sound like this is the time for me to tell you that I grow plants, smoke up at concerts or sell the stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. I admit that I have tried pot twice. The first time gave me a case of the giggles and a case of the munchies (which ended with me finishing 3 large Little Caesar's pizzas and curling up hoping my body would process it before I exploded.) The last time did absolutely nothing. Will I try it again, I doubt it. But I do wonder why pizza chains haven't been trying to push for legalization... I mean, they'd do huge business.

My reasons for wanting legalization are many. The 18th Amendment was a failure and America supposedly learned a valuable simple lesson from 1919 to 1933, a supply will be created if a demand is there. Simple economics really. By creating a black market for the goods, more money was diverted for other illegal uses while the government spent money on cracking down on these operations. I see the War on Drugs in the same light. This war started with the Harrison Act which only had to deal with registering people to sell, produce, import and distribute opium and cocoa leaves and their derivatives. These items were sneakily made illegal when they then decided not to register anyone. The Marijuana Tax Act would follow in the same footsteps in 1937 (only 4 years after Prohibition ended.) Anyhow, essentially one prohibition ended and another began and continues to this day. States have been trying to address these federal acts. Since 1995, 20% of the states have passed Medical Marijuana initiatives (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.) Between 1978 and 1997, 70% of the states have passed legislation recognizing the medicinal value of marijuana.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't want all drugs legalized. I just believe that it's hypocritical of us to keep punishing people for recreational use of something that they enjoy and has less serious effects on the body than the very legal alcohol. I personally would rather see tax revenue made from this item than spent on sustaining the status quo. (I'm not even going to go into money saved from enforcement.) But, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In Cars

I was born in Sacramento as was my sister. My badge at work used to say Sacramento for hometown but, after being told "I live right off of (insert street) and (insert intersecting street)" and nodding knowingly many times, I switched it to Las Vegas. My father grew up in the area and we still have a lot of family there. I actually enjoy every trip there that we've been able to manage as a family.

My grandmother Lillian who lives there is absolutely the sweetest and most sincere person that I've ever met. I've yet to hear a foul word out of her mouth and even her exclamations of joy or shock are peppered with the words "oh, dear" and "isn't that nice." She's a small and dainty woman of Swedish heritage. She lives with my uncle Bill in the home that she and my grandfather had raised their children. She's also very active and even plays bridge with her friends.

A few days ago, a car carrying these 4 octogenarians was hit by another car after returning from a bridge game. Two of them remain in critical condition. Grandma only suffered a broken rib and quite a few bruises but you can tell talking to her just how much pain she is in. This has shaken me some as all I can think about is how I currently dislike cars and how important a role she plays in my belief that there are kind and gentle people out there. Get better, Nana.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Don't Adjust The Horizontal

Is it me or do horizontal lines make everything look that much bigger? That oriental lamp there looks enormous! Thank you to Yahoo! for having that ad in my face for the last month.

Part of the reason for that effect is that horizontal lines draw your eyes from left to right tricking you into seeing more girth than there is. Supposedly, this happens with clothing also but I can't find a photo example.

On the opposite end, vertical stripes are supposed to be slimming because it draws your eyes up and down so they don't focus on the sides. One unproven theory says that lack of focus, eye problems and slow reaction go hand-in-hand with vertical stripes but the only evidence leaning that way shows up in sporting events (like last nights penalty against Randy Moss or the 1998 Steeler's coin-toss against the Lions.)

So, I've decided to take this moment to ask people to refrain from wearing vertical stripes from now on as it is better to look fat than stupid. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Four Decades Of Slurpee

Who would have thought that fall of this year would mark the 40th anniversary of when 7-11 first purchase 3 of John E. Mitchell's frozen drink machines. (The original idea came from an Omar Knedlik who started serving ice-cold bottled drinks when his soft drink dispenser broke down.) By 1967, there was a Slurpee machine in ever 7-11 and the two became synonymous. In 1972, collectors cups for the drink were introduced. There have been over 200 different flavors of the Slurpee, more than 13 million of the drinks are consumed every year (over 6 billion sold since 1965) in the last 40 years.

Sure, contenders would come and go. I used to live near a Stop-N-Go during the late 70's which would have what was called a Chilly Willy (had more liquid than a Slurpee.) There was even the Icee and the Slushee. But the competition has never really met the challenge.

What I find most interesting is that there is a difference between the U.S. and the Canadian Slurpee. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (with a population of under 700,000) consumes the most Slurpees worldwide. The Canadian mixture has less air bubbles which makes it more dense.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dirty Laundry

Growing up, life was pretty simple. Sure, after so long, I learned how to do my own laundry. Washing the bed sheets, matching the socks and turning the t-shirts inside out to keep the print from fading. I even actually have good childhood memories of weekends hanging out at the laundromat in the apartment complex we lived in with my mother. Weird little notes adorned the billboard there about things being sold, babysitters wanted, etc. But, washing things was simple then and have been until now.

I've been in my house a little over 2 years now and can tell you where the two nearest dry cleaners are. I also can't tell you where the nearest laundromat is. Why would I want to find one if I have a washer and dryer at home? Good question. I have a king-size bed. The sheets fit in the washer alright but the comforter doesn't. It also cost me over $20 to dry clean one the last time and that's as much as most DVDs so it ain't happening like that again. I did a search on Yahoo and actually found a laundromat nearby but they don't answer the phone and honestly... they could have been out of business a long time knowing how some sites are updated. I might have to start looking through the yellow pages and hope. Right now, it's looking like a bathtub full of Woolite and a laundry line or... dry cleaning. Maybe I ought to put plastic over my bed spread for the time being. Things really were simpler when I was younger.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Shouldn't Have Left Work Early

Today was one of those days that you'd like to take back. You've been there before, I know. I found myself during a slow period at work and figured that I could leave 2 hours early, talk to my bank about a home equity line of credit, run some errands, clean off my DVD shelf and maybe get a nap in before Rock Star: INXS starts. This didn't work out as planned.

The bank tells me that they've been trying to get ahold of me for 2 days since I submitted my application. I don't see a blinking light on my answering machine and they said they left a message... oh well. I told them that I'd like to think about things because they might have to charge me $150 for an appraisal on the property and I'd rather have the money in my pocket right now. I then start heading home. I exit off the freeway because of traffic.

It was a slow light in the fast lane heading west and people were jockeying for position before the light turned green... that's when I hit the white Escalade in front of me. Sure, I was only going 4-5 mph but this didn't help my day. We pull into a nearby 7/11 and I finally decide to get something to eat (skipped lunch to run errands) -- deciding on the dreaded chili cheese spicy hotdog. The damage to his car was very minimal and both of us were unharmed. (See rather dark photo) my left headlight (to your right) and bumper paid dearly. So, that $150 that I was so worried about... I am going to pay $350 more in deductible to fix the Rodeo (and if you know much of the early blog history of the Rodeo and accidents... be afraid.)

I called the insurance, have my ticket here for the accident and the car is able to be driven but has sharp turn issues. So, now all I have to ask myself is, "Why the hell didn't I stay at work?!" Such is life, I guess.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What Are Words For?

I read a lot of online content. It's hard to get me to finish a book (let alone start one) to which many of my friends can attest. Even though I write a newsletter each week, I also read several. Kim Komando writes a great one but the one I've had the longest is A Word A Day, which is great for freaks like me that like big words but don't use them enough. Sure, they might sit in my email box for a week or so sometimes but I'll eventually get to them and fill a few odd moments I find that I have nothing planned. So here is an easy question for you. What word do you overuse most?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday Bloody Kickoff

Today is the first Sunday of the new football season. Since I normally have Monday and Tuesday as my days off, I try to take today off using vacation pay to join several co-workers at a bar called Nikki Lee's to watch the first games. I mean games because the watering hole plays all of the games available on satellite on a combination of plasmas, LCDs and big screen TVs all mounted near the ceiling tilted down towards the attendees. Usually, we grab breakfast there and read the paper before the games start but I was running a bit later than normal (I live farthest away.)

What I've learned so far:

  • I shouldn't have broken my betting rules as Oakland cost me my only bet of the season. Not a big loss as statistically they were pretty well matched other than the nearly 150 yards in penalties they gave up.

  • We have a contest at work called Last Man Standing. The idea of it is that you pick 1 team to win this week. Next week you pick another team to win without picking a team you have used before. My pick (Denver) cost me and I'm out in the first week. I'm not too worried as many took the Vikings, Saints and others are awaiting scores from the second set of games.

  • Tampa Bay found a red zone threat in Alex Smith (no not the San Francisco quarterback). The 6-4 258 rookie tight end out of Stanford caught 4 passes for 23 yards and 2 touchdowns. He'll be interesting to watch this season.

  • Pittsburgh 3rd string running back Willie Parker is going to give the team reason to create some cap room as Duce Staley who is hurt for his second year and veteran Jerome Bettis are a bit more expensive and aren't healthy. 161-yards on 22 carries (7.3 yards per carry) and 1 catch for 43 yards... we'll have to see next week as maybe Tennessee can't stop the run. (Parker avoided 6 tackles on one play.)

  • The Jets were lucky to score a touchdown. The team fumbled the ball 8 times and threw an interception. As bad as this looks, something smells fishy (no they weren't playing the Dolphins.) QB Chad Pennington fumbled the ball only 5 times last year but 6 times in a game is going for a record. I put a lot of this on center Kevin Mawae as he fumbled the ball once and he had problems getting the ball to Pennington. When Jay Fiedler relieved Pennington... another bad snap sent Fiedler scrambling to get the ball.

  • Tim Rattay throws 2 touchdowns in the first half against the Rams. Shocking, I know, but that was only on a total of 8 attempted passes (6 were caught.) 21-9 in the first half. Who would have guessed (oh, and many people have the Rams in our Last Man Standing.) The 49ers rushing in the first half is pretty underwhelming as Kevan Barlow has 4 yards on 6 attempts. That's not good but they are winning at this time.

Have I said that I really like football?

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Offer

I was checking my email this morning and I was shocked to find one from a colleague that will remain nameless. Essentially, I've been offered a new project that would fall under the area of 80's Music Central. I've always had 3 dreams in my life and two of those (recording a single and writing a book) were at different times close to fulfillment. The third dream has a possibility of happening... well, online. I can't describe the scenario as yet because the offer was just given. The biggest snags would be marketing, budgeting and time.

I've never been a person to scream "Look at me, I'm great" but instead try to do good things and hope they get notice and let buzz carry it. A business would be different as selling ads and bringing in new listeners is the lifeblood. I'm also someone who has never written his balance, debits and credits in the back of his checkbook. I figure that if I have to worry about where the money is coming from, I can't afford it. That would be different taking on this venture. Lastly, if I complain about anything it is usually about time. I put pressure on myself to make a lot of deadlines that I will actually avoid showering on Mondays until I'm done with the newsletter (I figure it's added pressure to finish.)

Getting past all that, it is an amazing offer and one that I'll have to really think about. It includes a chance to play music that I really enjoy from a decade that pertains to my own passion, to showcase music that many people haven't heard before (among requested hits) and a chance to expand upon what I've been doing for about 8 years or so. So much to think about.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Brainiac: Science Abuse (For Brainiax)

For those of you that like seeing things blow up, have a fondness for science (remember Mr. Wizard), like to see irreverent experiments and practical jokes or consider extreme cooking... I have a show for you. Recently added to G4TV's lineup, Brainiac is the British television show that challenges a lot of myths that you won't see on Mythbusters. Do athletes perform worse or better after having sex? What is more slippery in the home: baby oil, cooking oil or cod liver oil? If we can't walk on water, could we walk on a pool full of custard? Could eating poppy seed bagels give a false positive report for opiate usage on a drug test? What type of food gives the worst smelling gas? Do pheremones really make you more attractive to the opposite sex? What happens when you put a lightbulb in a microwave? Do corn flakes that are high in iron have enough metal in them to react to a magnet?

Heck, I could keep listing these for awhile but you ought to just watch it. Especially for this one: In 1997, it was asserted in an article in the New England Journal by a German scientist that staring at a woman's breasts for 30 minutes was equivalent to a 30 minute work out... why not test it?

Sure, most of these tests have no placebo or wouldn't be taken seriously unless tested more than once but it is edutainment. Now, if only they had a Brainiac Jr., it might excite kids into caring about science earlier in life and pursuing it as a course of study. Then again Mr. Vavoom could be the new millennium's Mr. Beakman.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

It was about time for me to post about Hurricane Katrina but to tell you the truth... I'm still upset about every single aspect of this ordeal in the Gulf Coast. I actually have friends that I work with that have family down there... or did as half of them have heard from their loved ones.

I have thought about the thousands of people that stayed in their homes to ride the storm out and for a while thought "they had their chance." I've also thought about the unused buses and page 13 paragraph 5 of their disaster aid plans that include using those buses to evacuate those that can't help themselves.

But, what worries me most about all of this is amidst the toxic water around them (that has been causing 1st degree burns during short exposure), shortage of food, lack of elimination facilities and deceased bodies is that there are many people who still do not want to leave. Many stayed there because they believed it was a false alarm and that Katrina would miss the area as many others have. I also do understand that many of these people are receiving government assistance and that what little they have, they cherish. The depression of seeing all you love being destroyed is also overwhelming. Yet, I think there is a point where self-preservation kicks in. When they don't leave to take care of themselves, those giving aid are at a loss because you can't legally take them from their property without due process. You have to feel sorry for these people but at the same time become pissed off that they are stressing the system as the rescuers would be vilified for being inhumane if they don't keep providing them food and water. I just wonder at what point you just use knock-out gas and get them to a shelter?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Morpheus Pondering

Took a nap earlier, am just now about to pass out and figured I better post. I notice some people never understand what I mean when I tell them that I'm going to pass out because they are thinking: 1) I have low blood sugar 2) a cerebral hemorrhage is eminent or 3) I literally will fall on the floor. I guess instead of saying that I'm going to sleep, hitting the sack, off to saw logs, catching some Z's, off to count sheep or off to La La land I've always liked the image of losing all physical mobility and tuning out for several hours. Now, if I did have a problem like narcolepsy then I'd be a little more cautious with my phrasing.

After my accident about 2 1/2 years ago (involving the trunk of a Navigator and the top of my head), I have been stuck with consistent headaches. One of the only ways that I've found to minimize them is to sleep on my back without a pillow. It does make the bed look funky. I even partially put my arms across my chest which makes me think "coffin" and I don't know why that seems reassuring to me. I tried the little neck pillows back some time ago and found out that they are useless. I'm actually very protective of my sleep. If I don't get enough, I can be really grouchy because I know I won't be fully functional or aware of my surroundings. Anyhow, I'm gonna pass out. Sleep well.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Spot Goes For A Ride

"Whew! Good thing I replaced those brakes last week eh, Spot? Spot?"

-- Another of the abundant reasons why I don't own a pet.