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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Upscamming

You know what bugs me? The concept of up-selling.

Note to everyone who wants to do business with me. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, try and upsell me on anything.

A few months ago, I got a new cellphone. My cellphone needs are incredibly basic. I don't next texting. Don't need the internet or any games. I did want a camera phone, though, and so I picked one out that had the features I wanted for the price I was willing to pay.

But when I talked to the phone company, they asked me, "Would you like to upgrade to such and such phone?"

Stupidly, I said, "Sure," not realizing that I wasn't "upgrading" anything. I was actually getting a completely different phone. And one that costs three times as much as the one I had actually wanted.

ARGH!

Then with my electrical work...I signed up for a service agreement which allows me free maintenance visits with the electrical company. The bad news is that the electrical company also has a plumbing and an HVAC division. As the electrician was leaving, he said "Let me go ahead and call the plumbers and schedule a visit for the free flush and fill for your hot water heater."

No, man. Forget about the "free flush and fill." And let's call it what it is...it's not a service call. It's a sales call.

Tell ya what, guys. If I need a plumber, I'll call a plumber. One thing I don't need is a plumber coming to do a "free flush and fill" and finding out that I need to fix this leak or replace that pipe.

Upselling isn't about helping the customer. It's about ripping them off. It's a way of getting people to pay more money for things they don't want.

More on The Shining

I've been watching Stephen King's The Shining tonight (today?), the ABC miniseries that was actually filmed at the Stanley Hotel, which I visited last week.

It's more faithful to the book than Kubrick's version, and obviously the authenticity quotient is helped by having a script by Stephen King himself.

A few random comments:

The location of Room 217 in the movie is NOT where it is in reality. In my Youtube video, it's clearly at the end of a short hall. In the movie, Room 217 is located in the middle of a long hall.

Contrary to the location in the movie, the Stanley Hotel isn't located in a remote hard-to-get-to valley. It's perched above the town of Estes Park and quite easy to get to. Clever camera angles and special effects obscure this fact.

Sam Raimi, who has since gone on to great success as the director of the Spider-man franchise, has a cameo as a gas station attendant.

Quote of the Day

Do you think the ultimate irony might be that all the work that Dick Cheney has done will make Hillary Clinton the most powerful president in the history of the United States?
- Jon Stewart

Ha!

This is why sticking with principle over partisanship is a good idea. I know a lot of people really love that Bush has the power to suspend habeas corpus, tap your phone, and "disappear" you to Gitmo. I bet, though, they'd be less than enthused if those powers were given to a Democrat.

I guess this could be an argument for "Always vote Republican," but it seems to me to be an argument for limiting executive power PERIOD.

Oh, How I Miss Thee, Jacki!

WTF??? Shortly after my correspondence with Jacki Schechner, CNN let her go!

How could they?

I had wondered why Jacki sightings on CNN suddenly became more scarce...and even thought about e-mailing her again (glad I didn't as she probably never would have got it anyway)...but now I know.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must drown my sorrows with copious amounts of hard liquor.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On Bended Knee

Nicole, will you marry me?

(Not only is she beautiful, but she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! Do you know how sexy that is to me?)

With Each Puff, A Child is Saved

I'm kind of upset that Bush vetoed the S-CHIP bill, but it's for a completely selfish reason. If I were completely honest, I'd have to say that I don't give one whit about healthcare. I don't.

You want me to roll my eyes and squirm? Start talking healthcare. I just don't care.

To me, it's real simple. It's not about taxpayer supported health insurance versus private or employer-provided insurance. To me, that's a false framing. You want to improve the healthcare system? Make it more efficient.

No one will talk about that one though. It's all about who pays: you, your boss, or the government. Bring the costs down with market efficiencies, and the "who pays" question suddenly becomes a lot less important.

(Oh, and in case you're wondering, government-subsidized healthcare does NOT encourage efficiency.)

At any rate, the reason why I'm bummed about the S-CHIP veto is that the expansion was going to be funded by raising the taxes on cigarettes.

As a smoker, that would make me a hero. If cigarettes kill me, it will be so that your children may live.

And if someone objects to me lighting up, I can say, "Hey, I'm just doing my part for the kids."

Perhaps even all these smoking bans will be overturned. Remember, by implementing these bans, your state legislature isn't keeping your hair and clothes from smelling like ashtrays. They are killing poor children without health insurance.

Watch, next we'll see Phillip Morris commercials with Sally Struthers saying, "For sixty-one cents a pack, a child can get the kidney transplant they need."

So let them smoke. It's for the kids.

PS. Just for the record, I'm joking. I really could care less about S-CHIP. I just think it's funny that we smokers are social pariahs, pushed outside and constantly lectured, and yet we're a significant source of tax revenue. How about a little respect, huh?

It's not possible intellectually to follow these people. - Rush Limbaugh

"You've got it all wrong," Rush says, as he tries to squirm his way out of an over-blown controversy. "I wasn't calling all soldiers who question our Iraq policy 'phony.' I was talking about this one guy, Jessie MacBeth. You've probably never heard of him, but don't mistake MacBeth's obscurity for irrelevancy. Believe it or not, MacBeth isn't an aberration. I can think of at least 2 or 3 others who are guilty of the same thing. Have you ever heard of John Kerry? What about Jack Murtha? And don't even get me started on Scott Beauchamp. Right now, I'm looking at the secret sworn statement Beauchamp signed that proves that not only is he a liar, but that he's a completely fictional creation of Franklin Foer and the New Republic! Make no mistake about it, folks. These phony soldiers and the lefties who enable them make up the biggest challenge facing us in Iraq."

I exaggerate, of course, but not much. I mean, I know Rush was lasering in on a very specific incident and didn't intend for it to be generalized to ALL anti-war soldiers, but those damn lefties...they just like to take stuff out of context.

Besides, Rush has a point. With all the other soldiers in the world, how come the media only talks to Jessie Macbeth? It's like our media's understanding of the situation is filtered through this one dude...

Oh wait...never mind. That's complete and utter bullshit.

Updated:
I composed this in little pieces while at work, distracted by other tasks and basically doing more thinking than writing. As is often the case in similar circumstances, what I wrote is only a very small portion of what went through my head.

I had intended to tie Rush into a general lack of intellectual heft in the Republican politosphere, which has been on display with blinking lights during these Bush years, but merely succeeding in mocking Rush.

And I threw in an expletive to boot!

Well, what Rush said, as with most of what he says, was bullshit. His explanation is weak and his point insignificant. Trust me on this, alright? Jessie MacBeth is about as relevant to what's going on in Iraq as I am.

The thing that I don't get, however, is the support Rush is getting. I browsed through all kinds of apologia for Rush early this morning, and saw seemingly reasonable people rush to his defense on their own, no politburo necessary. Now I know why they call them dittoheads.

I'm pretty sure it's a response to the Democrats posturing over Rush's remarks, but that's a response to the Moveoon thing, and that was a response to this which was a response to that and it just goes back and forth. So what's next? Cuz you know something will be coming.

And since Beauchamp was brought up, I got to thinking about that. I have sympathy for the guy. He's a writer, and so am I, and though most people think of a "writer" as a kind of occupation, it's also a lifestyle, a lifestyle I share. So when his critics slam him for his literary ambitions, they are implying that having a literary motive, whether it's publishing or just living through something interesting enough to write about, is questionable in and of itself. That's not a view I share.

Even conceding that Beauchamp's stories are largely fiction or at best a James Frey exaggerated memoir, but about Iraq instead of drugs, that still does not justify the scorn heaped against him by right-wing bitch-slappers. Were they mad because their expectations weren't met? Because they felt deceived? Or because they lash out at anything that hints at the dark underbelly of their ideas? I think it's a little bit of all three, and maybe even more.

In other words, it wasn't really about Beauchamp. It was about themselves. (And when I write about Beauchamp, it's really about me.)

All this intellectual energy spent skinning, cleaning, and dressing Scott Beauchamp, but the room goes quiet when something of real consequence, like Blackwater, is brought up. You can hear the crickets.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Red State Losers

I was going to comment on the seditious nature of this post, but lo and behold, I am not authorized to post comments.

Michelle Malkin does the same thing. In order to comment, you have to register, thereby making yourself subject to banishment if you say something contrary to wingnut orthodoxy.

Hey, it's their blog. They can do that if they want to. That doesn't mean it's honorable, though. You can cheat on your wife, too, but that's not a good idea either.

Still, this "us versus them" theme that floats around the right-wing blogosphere bugs the shit out of me.

Look, Ben, if you're going to divide the world into "Good Republicans" and "Everybody Else," you've got a very lonely road ahead of you. It's a big world, and the "Good Republicans" can barely lay claim to half of our own country.

Why not take a larger view? Look at the macro, not the micro.

I know some very good people who hold "Red State" style beliefs. I know some good people who don't.

All of them bleed when they are cut; they shit, sleep, shiver and sweat. So, Ben, when you write:
We keep it together now, or we're going down hard.
You're right about that. Only when you say "we" you mean a few right-wing blowhards, warmongers, and Jesus freaks.

When I say "we," I mean all of mankind. So do "us" all a favor, Ben, and shut the fuck up. Thanks.

Got My Mojo Working

I must have had my mojo working today or something.

Since I was having some electrical work done on the house today, I spent the morning running around. Finding myself in a Starbucks, I was greeted by a beautiful young woman whose smile could convince the Devil of the error of his ways. She was so perky and bright that it was infectious. After placing my order, I asked for all the used coffee grounds they had.

It's something I do whenever I go to a Starbucks. I take all their coffee grounds. It makes me feel better for spending $5.00 on a cup of coffee.

She was very helpful and even helped me carry them out to my truck, even asking about the garden. Then she tossed off the casual remark, "We do this everyday." (Hint-hint.)

So you're telling me to come back tomorrow...

Deal!

Then later, I was at Bass Pro Shops looking at the flannel shirts. I do not own one and since they were having a sale at ten bucks a piece, I thought about getting one. I picked up a red and yellow one and one of the older ladies standing near said, "That's a great color. I bet it would look good on you."

And you know what? She was right.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Stanley Hotel

This weekend I went to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Here's the vlog of the experience.