Friday, July 31, 2009

Hamster on a Wheel

I wish I could post more than I do, but it's next to impossible lately. The company that I work for part time has engulfed me and I find that I am often up at sunrise, and working til sunset and beyond.

I was hired as a consultant and general Jack-of-All-Trades for this business, but it may have been too late. The business was already floundering and it may be that nothing can bring it back. I am too busy putting out fires to help push us ahead. I'm exerting energy but getting nowhere.

All this, and that company may still go under. This economy is destroying so many of us, and the businesses we work for and there is no end in sight. Frankly, I think things will get worse and (unlike government predictions) they may never get better. We may be seeing an entire restructuring of the way that we live.

How's that for your Happy Friday post?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Obama Takes Time for a Beer

Barack Obama has decided that he needs to take important time away from the health care debate, the economy, and world events and turmoil. What's so important?

A beer with a disgruntled, racist black Harvard professor and the cop that was forced to arrest him.

Now the press is breathlessly speculating on what beer Obama will choose. ABC News pronounces that Obama's choice of beer could make or break a particular brand.

Puhleeze. Who cares?

One thing's for sure: He won't be choosing Colt 45.

Why is Obama taking such a personal interest in this fracas? Because he foolishly opened his mouth (before he knew all the facts) to chide the police for arresting the idiot. Now he's saving face.

And they say racism isn't dead. I agree: Obama is living proof of that.

If the officer had any guts, he'd turn down the invite... whether Obama's serving Colt 45 or champagne.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Latest Harry Potter Movie Has No Magic

I am the only one in my family that likes the Harry Potter series.

My son doesn't like the series, which has always puzzled me. I chalk it up to his father, who is a Christian extremist who used to tell him that Harry Potter was "of the Devil" (so to speak) and wouldn't allow him to read the books when he was younger, no matter how much I fought it or tried to explain the concept of "fantasy".

So, when "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" came to the theatre, my best friend Pov was kind enough to text me a reminder and ask if I wanted to go. Sonosaur remained silent on the issue.

Deciding that opening night would be insane, we opted to go the next night, dragging our children with us. Needless to say, Sonosaur was less than thrilled but at least I didn't have to literally drag him through the theatre.

When the exhaustingly long movie ended, I felt forced to apologize to everyone for it. Here I'm the fan, and I was bored silly.

I think the primary problem behind it is that Harry Potter himself has lost his wonder of it all. He is no longer enchanted by what the latest potion can do. He is not amazed any more by the fabulous toys and gadgets. And since we see everything through the eyes of Harry Potter, we find ourselves a little jaded as well.

Additionally, the actor who plays Harry Potter has not turned into a talented actor in his older years. Daniel Radcliffe's acting is wooden, and even his laughter rings false. Perhaps there is no amount of coaching in the world that will solve that, but I would think the studios should be hell-bent to try.

When he was not in the Harry Potter series, Daniel was busy acting the fool by appearing in "Equus", a horrid, esoteric stage play in which he got to prance about naked. Perhaps this hasn't helped his acting ability. It's a great shame, as he's surrounded by talent.

I am sorry to say that this may be the last Harry Potter movie I ever choose to see in the theatres. Like other movies that are suspect, I will wait till the next ones come out on DVD.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gold Isn't the Answer: Barter Is

It's bad everywhere, I realize that. But it keeps getting worse. Here in Florida, state unemployment is the highest since 1983, and the Unemployment Benefits office is besieged by calls. Their volume is so high, it's making the news.

Everywhere you go, every discussion turns to the economy.

My best friend, Pov, just lost his job.

I still have my two jobs, but the new one may not last long because the owner, Claire, is out of cash and can't even make the current payroll.

The two luxury yacht salesmen I know have lost their jobs. This is truly a bad sign, because (in general) wealthy people keep spending no matter what.

In the thrift stores, signs are posted begging for donations. No one is donating right now because everyone is hanging on to what they've got, putting off replacing whatever it might be.

I recently went to Synovus Bank to cash a check. While I was there, the teller leaned over and confided to me that they had all just had a pay cut but it was better than losing their jobs altogether. I didn't know this woman - she's a total stranger who apparently is on the edge.

I was in the store the other day and a pleasant-looking older woman accosted me, begging me to pass on her personal information if I knew of any jobs out there. "I'll do anything," she emphasized. "Scrub toilets, whatever it takes. I'm desperate." She was a former cosmetics counter manager for a major department store.

This is what networking has come to. We no longer want to find a better job: Any job will do.

You hear shills on the radio encouraging you to invest in gold. Sure! I'll just take that extra several thousand dollars I've got stuffed in my mattress and I'll buy a couple of coins.

Obviously buying gold isn't the answer, but it's unaffordability is only one reason. Here's another:

Gold is not a common currency, so you'll have to eventually convert it into cash anyway. And if cash is worthless at that point, you can't even do that. All you will be able to do is trade it.

At that point, good luck finding someone who is willing to trade for a solid gold coin. You might find the occasional person who will, but they will be very subjective in evaluating what that gold coin is worth to them personally. They will know that it's not an easily tradeable commodity and that will actually devalue your "investment".

If we're returning to the economy of the early 80s, we need to look to the solutions they had in the early 80s. Barter became the solution to many problems, and it probably will again.

What was bartered? Services and items. Couches that at one time would have ended up in thrift stores were bartered for computer services. Haircuts were bartered for home-cooked meals or babysitting services.

There were two types of bartering groups:

1. The kind that directly exchanged services and goods.
2. The kind that converted all services and goods into "Barter Bucks" that could be spent at will among other members of the group.

My ex-husband and I belonged to both types of groups. The second was a much superior idea, but it only works when a large number of people have banded together. This would work, for instance, with Craig's List participants, but Craig's List would have to see a need for this and create it.

It's time to get out some of the old ideas and dust them off once more. It's time to get creative.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Inhumanity: Corporate "Homemade" Food

I am so very sick of hearing people say "Oh the humanity!" whenever there is something horrible that has occurred. I hear it echoed on the radio, in ads, and on television. It makes my skin crawl because, of course, the true phrase is "Oh the inhumanity!"

Of course it could be argued that the human race is intrinsically evil and it's much more accurate to bemoan it by saying "Oh the humanity". More accurate, perhaps, but it's certainly not what the original phrase intended. It was predicated on the mistaken belief that people are inhumane when they do something evil.

Which leads me to another grammatical pet peeve of mine:

How is it that corporations and restaurants can boast "homemade" anything? Do they farm it out like a cottage industry to little old ladies on social security? Is each batch specially whipped up in a warm, clean kitchen in someone's home? I picture little old ladies everywhere, bringing vats of soup to the backdoors of restaurants throughout the nation.

In my kitchen, as I write, there is a large box of "homemade" pecan brittle by Russell Stover. My, but those little old ladies are busy. You'd think a corporation as big as Russell Stover could find a more efficient and cost-effective way to produce the stuff.

Oh the inhumanity!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Successful Blackberry Transfer from Sprint to Metro PCS

I finally got my Crackberry back. I am relatively happy now, though there are minor glitches which are probably due to my converting it from a Sprint Blackberry Curve to a Metro PCS one. The biggest problem I have is that I can't seem to download the applications needed connect it to my Gmail account and I have to access the web to get to my email.

By my calculations, it has to hold up for 9 months for me to break even. I'm not worried about that: This thing seems to be highly durable. I already dropped it from shoulder height to a tiled floor and it didn't even get a nick. Of course I am a notorious klutz...

The shady operation that performed the transfer tried to ding me for another $25 on top of their original $75 charge because it was somehow more difficult to do than they originally anticipated. After I threw a total fit in their lobby in front of three other potential customers, they let it go for $75.

Overall, I spent $275 in lieu of the $400 that Metro PCS would have charged. Some might sneer at a savings of $125, but it's still a savings and I'm happy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Michael Jackson: Dead Freak

I wasn't going to talk about Michael Jackson any more. Really. But some idiot keeps attempting to post something that goes like this:

"Leave Michael ALONE! He is DEAD! Let that man rest in PEACE!"

It reminds me of the "Leave Britney Spears ALONE" whiner on YouTube.

Since when are we supposed to rewrite history? If we are banned from telling the truth about people after they're dead, let's throw out the history textbooks. If we're going to apply that rule to everyone, then:

1. Hitler was a talented architectural artist, with a great taste in classical art, and was a military genius.

2. Marilyn Monroe was a virginal, innocent beauty.

3. American slavery never existed. After all, all those slavers are dead now. In fact, should we call them slavers? Perhaps "People Merchants" is a more politically correct term.

Spare me from fools.

As I wrote before, it is not possible to exploit Michael Jackson. The man begged for publicity. He even demanded that MTV begin calling him The King of Pop. What, you thought that title came from nowhere? I want to be called The Grand Poobah, but MTV isn't returning my calls right now.

Yes, Jackson's daughter proclaimed him to be the best father in the world. But what could she compare him to? It's not as if she had a normal childhood, and kids are notoriously gullible. For all she knows, it's normal to live in seclusion, wear mardi gras masks in public, and have a black father who pretends he's a white woman. And perhaps Jackson didn't molest her: He was notoriously fond of boys.

Interestingly, McCauley Culkin didn't attend the memorial service and has issued no statements about Jackson's death, despite his former public (and probably paid-for) statements denying that Jackson had ever molested him. And people who were molested as children often have very conflicting emotions about the molestors, for varying reasons. If he was molested by Jackson, I'm sure that Culkin wants to put this behind him.

So what if Jackson was beaten by his father? Many people were abused as children but made the choice to live wholesome lives as adults. A sordid past is a reason, but it is never an excuse for future behavior.

If Michael Jackson were still alive, he'd be enjoying this publicity. Perhaps somewhere, somehow, he is tearfully whispering into a microphone in his faux falsetto that he is ever so grateful for his fans, but why can't everyone just leave him alone? It's not like he's ever done anything to deserve all this! Oh, and by the way, that's "King of Pop". Yes, Pop. Capital P.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Crackberry

Want to hear something really smart that I just did?

Yeah, me too. Too bad I can't come up with anything.

I am a Metro PCS customer. Overall, it's a great, cheap service and I enjoy using it. They don't drop calls nearly as much as they used to, and if you call customer service and pretend that you want to buy something, you can actually speak to a live person and not an overly cheerful pre-recorded message which answers precisely none of your questions.

So, Metro PCS is about as helpful as your average cellphone provider.

However, they recently added Blackberrys to their line of phones. The way Metro PCS works, you have to buy the phone outright because their service is so cheap, this is the only way they make significant profit. And the new Metro PCS Blackberrys were exhorbitantly expensive about a month ago: $550. I see the price has now dropped to $400.

So, I figured I'd beat the system. I'd go on Craig's List, find one of these that is being sold cheaply, and have it "flashed" to Metro PCS. So, I bought a Blackberry Curve from a local college student for $200, and took it to the nearest Metro PCS store.

But Metro PCS was already ahead of me, here. They had figured that their customers might pull something like this, and it would greatly ding their profit margin. So, they outright refuse to "flash" such a phone over to their service.

Well, they don't exactly outright refuse. Instead, they tell you that they can do it, but you won't have any of the original features from the Blackberry and they can't provide them. In other words, your Blackberry suddenly becomes a generation zero cell phone and you might as well be walking around with a phone that looks like this:

So since the official Metro PCS store won't do it properly, one of the clerks slipped me a card for a guy who will do it. Apparently this is a very shady transaction, as they can lose their license to do business with Metro PCS if they go ahead and do it the right way, instead of the wrong way that Metro PCS wants.

Since then, I've been to a couple of these shady cell phone operators. The first two shook their heads after a while and pronounced it next-to-impossible to do. Each successive company looks a little shadier.

The most recent one had a group of gang members sitting around in the lobby, joking about Michael Jackson.

"Fudge packer," one pronounced, which brought a fit of giggles out in each of them.

"Fudge packer," another one agreed, shaking his head. More giggles ensued.

By the end of it, I'd head the word "Fudge packer" at least 20 times, and these simple souls were nearly on the floor due to the hilarity of it all.

I said nothing, as I had no idea if any of them was "packing" a weapon.

So, this particular shady operation has had my crackberry for three days now. I am still waiting to see if they're able to get it switched over to Metro PCS. If that doesn't work, I'm quite terrified as to where I'll be referred to next.

Of course this could all have been averted if Metro PCS was willing to make the whole transition a little easier. So, if I'm killed by the Fudge Packer Gang, I blame Metro PCS.

I'll try to text out my last words.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Police Sketches

The Gaffney SC serial killer was just shot and killed, supposedly putting an end to a killing spree that has been going on in a small town of only 13,000. The man identified as the serial killer is Patrick Burris.

However, the police sketch which had been released the day before looks absolutely nothing like Burris. Burris has a piggy nose, a round, flabby, oval face, and deep-set eyes. The sketch shows a man that looks more like Billy Bob Thornton (the actor).

The police claim that the gun recovered from Patrick Burris is the same gun which killed all of the victims. I am now old enough to know that police aren't always right, or honest, and I question the great discrepancy between the photo and the sketch of the killer.

Of course that isn't to say that Patrick Burris isn't the serial killer: He very well may be. But if he is, what does this say about the police sketch artist?

Why do we even bother with sketch artists? As Fox News reported, "Several studies have shown sketches are unreliable when it comes to identifying suspects, but many departments nationwide still use them." And we know that a sketch is only as good as the witness(es) who contributed to it.

Perhaps it's time for the South Carolina police to rethink their sketch artist. Maybe his or her salary would be better used toward something that will actually make a difference.

Friday, July 03, 2009

My Neurotic Dog

I've written about my neurotic dog, BoBo, before. He's really the Dustin Hoffman of the dog world.

Like most purebred poodles, he's exceedingly smart. Here is a classic pose for him. You can see that he's sure that with a little work he can crack the code to human speech and revolutionize the dog world forever.

Lately he's been out of control. In the last couple of weeks, he's peed on my gorgeous sofa, my bed (I had to throw out my mattress topper and buy a new one), and last night he peed on Sonosaur's bed pillow.

The moment I saw the latest pee attack (or should I say smelled?), I flipped out. "That's IT," I screeched. "I am taking his balls off tomorrow!"

I immediately researched different neutering clinics in the area, determined to be at their door first thing in the morning. However, my dad talked me out of it. "He might have a urinary tract infection, or diabetes," my dad suggested. "Take him to your vet's first."

So I did.

And BoBo's just fine. Well, physically he's fine. But the vet thinks he's experiencing separation anxiety since I'm gone more during the day than I used to be. So, the vet's put him on an anti-anxiety medication which may help in two weeks or more.

In the meantime, I'm going to be doing a lot of steam cleaning.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thoughts for the Week

1. I am still getting amazing response to my articles on employment scammers. The one that really gets a rise out of people is the one about the Vanara Scam, which is apparently still going strong.

2. There is great surprise among some people that Michael Jackson isn't the biological father of his children. You're kidding, right? You actually think that MJ would have produced glowingly white kids? These people need to go back to remedial high school biology.

3. Mark Sanford is a goober. He got a free pass from his wife and most of the press the first time around, but now he calls another press conference to natter on about how he's slogging along trying to rebuild his marriage with his wife (good ol' whatsername) but his mistress is his true soulmate.


How high school is this? Obviously the man is a few fruit loops short of a bowl and needs to step down from his post. Yesterday.

4. Cap and Trade. here is a great site with some wonderful links to cap and trade arguments.

What am I missing? Why are ultra right wingers frothing at the mouth over this?