Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

Useless Pursuit

29
Dec
08

NFL Drama Day

To say that the last Sunday of the 2008 NFL season provided drama is a massive understatement. Where to begin? Let’s start with an NFL first: the Detroit Lions managed to provide their fans with a completely winless season. That’s one coach fired. The mighty Dallas Cowboys, once dubbed “America’s Team”, couldn’t get out of their own way or even figure out how to play a few downs with both hands around their own throats. They were humiliated by the Philadelphia Eagles, which is fitting since the peristaltic spasm known as T.O. used to play for Philly. Dallas will watch the playoffs from the sidelines.

But wait… there’s more. There’s another Texas angle. Chicago might have made it to the playoffs, but for the Houston Texans. The Bears loss to the 8-8 Houston team knocked the Windy City into the recliner along with Dallas. New England lost their shining star in Tom Brady, played with a relative unknown at QB, managed to rack up an 11-5 record… and still missed the playoffs. All of that is fine fodder for the water cooler.

The best story, however has to be the Jets Dolphins game. We all know how Brett Favre cried and quivered in his retirement dance. He held the Green Bay Packers hostage to emotion for just one more season and they finally just cut him loose. The New York Jets threw their hat in the ring and asked the old one to take the helm of the faltering franchise. In so doing, the Jets ditched their developing QB, Chad Pennington, to Miami. Miami was 1-15 last season and Chad wasn’t all that solid, so this seemed like a good move. The Jets started winning a few games and pundits were preparing their “oh no… here come the Jets!” headlines. But you have to play the game. And the game was played yesterday. The Dolphins toppled the Jets. Favre was humiliated, his coach was fired, and Pennington vindicated as the Dolphins secured the AFC East title.

28
Dec
08

Office Depot Still Sucks

I do not know why I continue to hope against hope that the Office Depot near me will get its act together. There’s an Office Max across the freeway, just a short distance away, but I don’t like fighting the traffic to get an extra half mile down the road. So I keep banging my head against a concrete wall. I vowed to never shop there again when they would not accept my American Express card without first seeing my ID. “It’s for your security, sir.” “It’s a violation of your merchant agreement.” And I left a sizable purchase on the counter and left in a huff, even after the manager on duty informed me that it was “corporate policy”. I carry my American Express card so that I do not have to be bothered with silly inconveniences such as corporate policy.

Fast forward to this past Friday. My venerable laser printer, an HP 1100A, is on its last legs. I have adored this printer. I’ve had it for years and it has served me very well. It reliably makes razor sharp prints at a decent speed and cost. It has a kind of built in copier that lets me make a single copy in rather short order. But it has no built in networking, it uses a mini-Centronics plug that is a pain in the posterior, and has some parts that are wearing out that will cost more to fix than I care to spend. So I have been hunting for a new printer for the home network. It had to be, of course, network ready, a laser printer (I cannot stand ink jet), color capable, equipped with built in duplexing, reasonably fast, possessed of a small foot print and reliable. Oh, and it had to be under $500. As for everything but the price, the HP CP2025dn fit the bill perfectly. Now, though prices are starting to crash. I found the brand new printer at Amazon for $438.50. That’s a whole lot cheaper than the original retail of $861.87. That was a shipped price, which I thought was pretty good. Thinking that I might be willing to sacrifice a few bucks for being able to get it now, I went over to the Office Depot site to see what they wanted for the beast. The website had the printer listed at $529.99 minus an instant rebate of $50. That brought it to $479.99. I had a $15 off coupon and my sales tax exemption certificate (I would be using this for business, etc.), so I was down to about $465 and was going to see if they would price match a whopping $26.49 (I would be helping out with the $15 coupon).  I got there and the printer was marked at $499.99; no sale, no rebate, no nothing. I asked for the manager and asked if she would be willing to price match the Amazon price, which I had printed out. I got laughed at and told that “we do not match Internet pricing”. I pointed out that their price match policy specifically mentions Internet competitors (I had printed this out, too) and was given a curt “that’s not what it means”.

So then I asked her why the printer was not priced the same as the Office Depot website price and was given some BS about how some file must not have downloaded properly and that there was nothing that could be done. Fine. “Would you price match your own price?” “No. I don’t know how to do that.” I went home and did what I should have done in the first place: I ordered it from Amazon. Point, click, spend.

26
Dec
08

Green or Gross?

Figuring out ways to cut the costs of getting from point A to point B is a cause celebre’. We are inundated with folks showing off their pricey new hybrids (never mind that recouping the cost of those vehicles will take nearly two decades of average driving) and Willy Nelson touts his bio-diesel enterprise in the middle of Texas. Hell, even my neighbor converted his dualie to bio-diesel. He fills up from the grease traps at fast food joints. His truck always smells like french fries, though…

But one has to consider this to be the ultimate in completing the circle… Craig Alan Bittner created “lipodiesel” from his patients’ fat and used it to power his Ford SUV and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator, Forbes.com reported this week. Yep, a used-to-practice Beverly Hills fat doc saved all the goo from his patients and burned it in his SUV’s. I knew if I was patient, I would find the grossest and weirdest story of 2008.

24
Dec
08

Would You?

Given the recent circus revolving around my father and his colon removal, my brother and I have had an opportunity to chat about our “prospects” for healthy living in the future. We’ve inherited a cornucopia of medical issues and developed a bunch on our own. My brother used to have blood pressure and cholesterol issues and is still battling triglycerides. I have high BP, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, neuropathy, degenerative disc disorder, cluster headaches and the normal stuff associated with the aging male and pissing. Both of our parents have high BP, my father has been successfully treated for colon cancer, colitis, etc., my father has had a stroke and a quintuple bypass and a couple of angioplasties, and has diabetes. My mom has had her neck roto-rootered and has Parkinson’s and cataracts. Our maternal grandfather died of colon cancer and our maternal grandmother died of Parkinson’s and had cataracts, too. Paternal grandfather probably had several heart attacks and died of a massive one. Paternal grandmother died very early. So we figure our prospects are pretty bleak. About the time of that discussion, I read an article about Google’s Sergey Brin using a DNA test to discover that he had an increased liklihood of contracting Parkinson’s disease.

Technology has come a long way. I’ve stopped fighting with my doctors and take all of my meds like a good boy. Both of us pretty much have our issues under control. But Parkinson’s is one of those issues that absolutely gets worse. And we know so little about it. Now, there is a genetic test that is going to give us a heads up on the fact that we are or are not likely to suffer from a debilitating degenerative nerve disorder. One whose treatments has some nasty side effects, too. We’ve both passed on having the test done.

22
Dec
08

Katy Cheerleading Story Grinds On

It’s like the story that just will not go away. Everyone is sick of hearing about it, talking about it, and speculating about it. Two of the five cheerleaders who were indicted have struck a deal. If the teens complete 60 hours of community service, write a letter of apology, and testify in any trials related to the case, they could have their cases dismissed next year. The other five are in court today.

The news comments on this thing are getting pretty pathetic. Some folks are calling for blood while others are decrying the entitlement of the rich. Others want these kids to be turned into examples while others just want this to go away quietly. Le’s inject some facts here. While it has not been determined whether an actual crime(s) has been committed, I think everyone agrees that poor judgement was in abundance. The varsity kids acted stupidly and so did the complicit parents (all the parents of the junior varsity cheerleaders knew that their kids were going to be rousted in the wee hours). These are the first kids ever being charged under the Harris County hazing statutes… how the hell can this be a rich versus poor thing (especially since Morton Ranch is smack dab in the middle of middle class)? And why did the oh_so_concerned mother of the junior cheerleader that started the whole to do call the TV news first… instead of 911?

It really doesn’t matter. This is how the justice system works out. Plea deals are struck every day so that stronger cases can be made against others. If you’ll remember, OJ is doing some serious time while his compatriots got probation. Those who did this have essentially ruined their lives. Think that the two who struck deals are “getting off”? Try trading places with them.

22
Dec
08

Regaining Cruising Speed

I find it ironic that I am looking forward to the holidays as a chance to slow down. Not the usual last-minute shopping frenzy, but actually plopping down and resting. The last month has, well, kinda sucked. As a result, I’m wiped out. The night before last… I went to bed at around 9:30 and slept until 8:00 yesterday morning. I took a 3 or 4 hour nap after lunch and went to bed, again, at around 9:00… got up around 7:00 this morning. I still do not feel caught up.

My dad is still hospitalized. I guess he is having some difficulty getting used to his new digestive configuration. He needs to get better soon.