Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is Your News...This is Your News on Drugs.

Oh man, I am just flabbergasted by the news lately. I don't pretend to be a news junkie but I am interested in the world around me. I read the crappy free paper every day, I watch The Today Show in the morning (they have a news desk, so I guess that counts), and I check at least once a day at work. At the very least, I'm tuned-in to the world. Here are the latest nuggets of knowledge that have stopped me in my tracks. I'll start small and work my way up to the items that really get me worked up:

NObama: Steelers' Harrison Says He'll Skip White House Visit

James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is refusing to join his teammates on a visit to the White House, at President Obama's invitation. His quote is so amazing that I can't even try to paraphrase it, you'd be missing out:
"This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won."
Yes! Of course, you very large, very strong, very obviously suffering-from-mental-acuity-issues-based-on-your-chosen-career-path man! That is PRECISELY why you were invited, and no - you are not psychic - it IS true that Arizona would have been invited if they won. I just....I can't.....auuuuugh!

Patti Blagojevich to Join Show Husband Couldn't

I saw this on The Today Show while getting dressed this morning; it's the reason I was a little late getting out the door. You know what they say about car wrecks - you don't want to watch, but how can you look away? From
A federal judge barred Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges, from being on the NBC show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" because it would send him out of the country. But his wife, Patti, accepted an offer from the network to appear instead and went to Los Angeles earlier this week to film a promotional shoot, said Glenn Selig, the Blagojevichs' publicist.
My favorite part about this whole thing is that Patti Blagojevich (whose hair is not nearly as luxurious as her husband's, that must kill her a little inside) told Merideth Viera that she was doing this to "pay the mortgage." Good ol'Rod commended her for "going back to work" and making a decision for her children, not for herself.

How on God's green Earth is this work? And if sending yourself to a jungle thousands of miles from your children is for their good, then I think you might have more problems then just putting food on the table. On another topic, when did Patti Blagojevich become a celebrity? If her picture has ever been in People Magazine or Us Weekly, it was probably in a background shot of some political bigwig dinner that she was invited to as Blago's "+1." OMG, I wonder if she was wearing YSL bcz when she was interviewed by the paparazzi at Pinkbery last week, she....oh. Oh, wait. That sentence has never happened/will never happen/wouldn't be spoken about if it did happen. Way to find the cream of the crop, NBC. You should be ashamed....assuming you aren't already.

Credit Card Industry Aims to Profit From Sterling Payers

First, a quote from Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev:

"We stood up for consumers and stood up to abusive credit card companies. We said that big can no longer take advantage of hardworking Americans. We demanded that when Americans use a credit card — as almost everyone does almost every day — they no longer have to fear that they’ll be abused.”
I think I would feel a little more enthusiastic about this fight if it wasn't going to royally screw people like me that prefer to pay off their credit card balance in full. I hate owing people money and, I guess unlike most Americans, try to live within my means. From the second NYTimes article linked:
People who routinely pay off their credit card balances have been enjoying the equivalent of a free ride," says David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, "because many have not had to pay an annual fee even as they collect points for air travel and other perks.

“Despite all the terrible things that have been said, you’re making out like a bandit,” he said. “That’s a third of credit card customers, 50 million people who have gotten a great deal."

Made out like a bandit? I don't take kindly to being compared to a law-breaker for paying my bills in a timely fashion. In the words of Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.”

You heard right: a fee for people who pay on time. Where is the motiviation to be debt free? This country is so bass-ackwards.

I know this is getting long, but once you start analyzing the news, it's hard to stop. I guess that's why there are so many political junkies around. Just 2 more, I'll be brief!

Guantanomo Bay/Nancy Pelosi is a Liar
  1. I cannot believe that the Senate, in one of it's first bi-partisan votes of the Obama administration, told the President to take his detainees and stuff'em. What are we supposed to do, go crawling to Europe and ask them to take the illegal-held POWs from the war we pulled them all into in the first place? And why WOULDN'T you want them in America, considering the other options. Do you want to send potentially untrustworthy people back to the countries that instilled these untrustworthy ideas in them? Or would you rather they be surrounded by a maximum security prison wall, in the middle of a cornfield in Kansas? I mean, even if they escape the prison, they're surrounded by people that love the 2nd Amendment and dislike foreigners.
  2. Did she know? Didn't she know? Isn't it ridiculous that one of the biggest news stories this month is whether or not Nancy Pelosi knew about waterboarding? If you think back, you'll remember that this conversation started because liberals were entertaining the idea of taking legal action against members of the Bush Administration that made our worst nightmares come true. The Republicans have filibustered the entire country. Nancy Pelosi's knowledge/ignorance is not a real issue in this discussion. If we were going to indict everyone that knew about torture, we'd be missing half of the political leaders in this country. The question is: who made it happen and who encouraged it?
And lastly...

Obama vs. Cheney

Today, President Obama gave a speech called "American Safety." Former Vice President Dick Cheney
also gave a speech today, called "Keeping America Safe." I really have only one question on this: does anyone remember Cheney giving a speech or interviews during his eight years in office? He's become a huge "get" for guest spots on all the political talk shows, and keeps showing up with scathing sound bites critiquing Obama and the current administration. Just a few months ago, no one even mentioned the name "Dick Cheney" unless it was preceeded with, "Do you think" and followed by "is still alive?" The only thing I recall him doing publicly during the Bush years is blurring the VP compound on Google Earth. Thanks for showing up, Dick.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From the [Toy Closets] of Babes

Little kids are amazing. They are honestly naive and naively honest. Gosh, do you remember being that young and just saying whatever popped into your mind? (Some people don't grow out of that.) When I was three, I walked by my pre-school teacher as she was eating lunch and talking with a colleague. As she rambled on around a huge bite of her sandwich, I looked her straight in the eye and said, "It isn't nice to talk with your mouth full." BAM! Take that, social structure!

In April, my coworker brought one of his sons to the office during Spring Break. My coworker has three great sons, and Devin is the youngest and most talkative. "Talkative" is kind of an understatement, actually. I was once told that "he was talking so much I thought I was going to throw up." That sounded a little harsh to me, but when I met him last month I got the gist.

Devin's dad had told him that I'm a big fan of panda bears, so Devin was explaining a Nintendo DS game he owns that lets you raise a baby panda (or a dog, or a cat - you know, the basic domesticated animals). This sounded pretty good to me, so I mentioned that I might want a DS so I could play, too. Please read the following paragraph without taking a breath, it is the response I got to this innocent idea:

"Yeah? You're not that old but maybe you'll have kids soon. If you have a son someday, you can buy him a Nintendo DS and get him this game. And if he goes to school at the same place where I go to school, ___ ___ Elementary, he'll be gone from 8-3 everyday and when he's at school you can use his Nintendo DS then!"

Hahahaha, really? I feel like that would be very delayed gratification. Not only would I have to fall in love, get married, conceive a child, and move to a new town, I'd also have to wait another 7 years after all that for the kid to obtain the dexterity required for a handheld gaming device. But it was said so matter-of-factly that I couldn't help but agree. I mean, to an 8 year old boy, there's no logical reason for a woman (which is weird for me to call myself, I still feel like a kid but it's all relative...) to buy herself a gaming system. I have cooties and such, and people with cooties don't own cool things like Nintendo DS-es.

In a nutshell, this kid is extremely endearing. Definitely pulled the ol' heartstrings.

A few weeks later, it was an especially crappy Monday morning - I'd been at work until 3:30am that morning, and was back in at 9:30am. I was seriously trudging through the day when I walked by my coworker's office and he says, "Hold on, this is for you." He hands me a blue gift bag and inside is a WebKinz Panda Bear and a folded up note. Devin had two of the same WebKinz toy, so he asked his dad to please give me his extra one. My heart just about melted. Then, I opened my note and saw this:

That is possibly the sweetest AND scariest thing anyone has ever drawn for me. It's taped up on my desk for all to see. And of course, I had to reciprocate in kind, so I got through the day by sneaking in art-recess whenever I could:

You should be jealous of my wide array of Sharpie markers.

I can't even explain how much this improved my day. It was so selfless and unnecessary and most of all, nice. Of course, Devin didn't remember my name - he told his dad to give it to "the girl at your office that likes pandas" - but that's besides the point. It's just one of those things that kids do without analyzing to death - they just act.

Meanwhile, this is actually the third WebKinz panda I own. I dunno, people just give me these things as gifts. Now how much of an ass do I feel like for having spares and not donating them to other panda-lovers?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Note to Self:

Key word searches work for everyone, especially when you have Google Key Word Alerts....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Warranty Services Review Fraud

Oh, key words. Here here! for the internet and the way it allows everyone's opinion to potentially matter. American. Warranty. Services. Review. Fraud. Scam. Warning.

Here's the (final?) update on my idiotic turn last week. The day after I was pressured into putting a $294 down payment on an 18month contract with $92 monthly payments, I called the company back to cancel. The naive-sounding receptionist told me that my "agent" would have to call me back with some information to cancel the account. Super duper. Surprisingly, he called a few hours later and asked why I was cancelling. "Because I hate my car," I said (which is largely true). He laughs - dunno what's so funny in all this - and says he needs a reason to write down.
"Like, is it too expensive?"
"Sure, you can write down that it was too
expensive if you'd like."

Even though Anthony called me back knowing I wanted to cancel my account, he hadn't taken the effort to find the mysterious address I needed in order to cancel. Was I driving to an undisclosed location? It remained to be seen. So now he was going to have to call me back with the right information. This time, I didn't get a call.

While I waited, I called Capital One to contest the charge that had shown up on my transaction history online. They were great. Basically, since I had already contacted the company to try to cancel my account, they were able to put an immediate freeze on the transaction and created my account for the down payment. They were sending me a form to fill out and, as long as I sent it back in three weeks, they'd be able to process the complaint. Thank you, Capital One!

The next day, I called my dear, fraudulent friends at American Warranty Services to say, "WTF, mate?" The same, lost-in-the-wilderness receptionist took my call. I reported that I hadn't received the address I needed and she immediately provided it. Almost as if she had it on hand! Imagine! (Note: the address is the company's address. Seriously, Anthony, you had to call me back with that information? Don't you know where you supposedly drive to work each day?) I told her I was trying to cancel and asked to speak to a manager. Now I'm on the phone with the company GM who immediately goes into the hard sell. In the immortal words of George W. "Dubya" Bush: "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool, you can't fool me again." Feeling angry and fueled by the sweet gasoline of justice, I said, "Stop. I don't want you to try and change my mind. I just. Want. To cancel. My account." Now he needed to write down a reason. I told him he could write whatever he wanted to say, I didn't care.
"Well, did you feel like you were being sca--"
"Yes. Yes I felt like I was being scammed."

The GM informs me that only the agent I worked with can cancel my account. Like I give two craps who cancels my account. And now I have to wait for Anthony to call me. When he does, he offers up the address like I should be proud of him for finding it. Great, Agent Anthony - what do I do with the address? Oh. I have to wait for the policy to come in the mail and then send it back with a letter explaining why I want to cancel and my current mileage. My current mileage? Why? ::stumble stumble grasp at straws:: Whatever, I'll give them the info because there is no WAY they are going to keep my account going b/c I didn't give them all the information they asked for.

If I was ever on the fence about whether or not American Warranty Services was a scam, a fraudulent company, a pox on the American public, this "cancellation policy" really sealed the deal. In this glorious age of computers and technology, you don't have my policy in some sort of database with a cancel option? I have to wait 9 days for the policy to come my way and then send it back? Sounds to me like you're trying to drag out the process so you have time for at least one monthly payment.

So, I've filled out my complaint with Capital One, and I've written an extremely scathing and accusatory email to American Warranty Services demanding the immediate cancellation of my policy. Hopefully, that'll be the last of this chapter in the saga of my gullibility.