Friday, October 30, 2009

Talk About Slow

Yesterday I received a bill from the L.A. Department of Water and Power. It was for the electricity and water on my parent's house.. or rather, the house that used to be my parents because they don't live there any more and the house was sold back in June.

The same thing happened two months ago, at which time I called and was told to ignore the bill because they did show that I had requested termination of service and the new owners had requested initiation of service. Fine.

Then this new bill comes, which shows the amount from the previous bill as past due PLUS the new charges.

I called the LADWP again and sat there listening to a bunch of inane automated voice choices, none of which helped. Finally I just pressed "0" which I should have done right away instead of being led through their phone maze designed to frustrate people and make them hang up. After pressing "0" I was informed that they were REALLY busy and that I could go to their web site and handle most things that way, or else call back later. I was not about to call back and go through this same laborious process so I just stayed on the line, wondering how long it would take.

It took about a minute or two to speak with a real person (at least I think she was real). So much for being REALLY busy.

The first thing I did was ask her why are you double billing people??

The woman explained that they weren't double billing anyone, and that they do show I canceled the service back in June and the new owners issued a turn on order at the same time.

"So why do you keep billing me?"

"We're behind in our service transfers," was the answer.

"THAT far behind??"

"Yes, we are."

"That's ridiculous. That's pitiful." I laughed. "How far behind are you?"

"About two billing cycles. Each cycle is two months so you see that it should be fixed next time."

"That's really bad. You're that far behind???" I don't think she was very happy talking to me. I told her thanks and I would just throw away the bill and she wished me a very half-hearted nice day.

I don't understand that. What could possibly be so difficult about switching an account at a specific address from one name to another? Especially since some part of their computer does show that the request had been made.

You read in the paper about how there are so many people at the LADWP earning huge salaries.. for what???

I couldn't even find an appropriate YouTube for this.. sorry!

(some advice for Halloween: don't dress up as a financial institution executive.. that could be dangerous)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New One

We decided finally it is time for a new refrigerator. The one we have now has served admirably for 17 years and still works fine except more and more often we are finding a puddle of water on the floor in front of the unit. So we figured we ought to replace it before its incontinence led to more severe problems.

I didn't realize how hard it is to find the right fridge! Just like houses, I guess. We looked at well over 100 houses before finding the baby bear "just right" one we live in now. We looked at a bunch of refrigerators, too.. and tried to look at online reviews, etc. to choose a good one.

Looks-wise, I like the french-door units with the bottom freezer. Julie didn't like the freezer sections, and I'd have to say I didn't care for them, either. In the end we decided to stay with the conventional - another top-freezer model, this one made by Maytag. White, square, no fancy frills.. just a box that keeps food cold. Home Depot is delivering it later this week. Southern California Edison is coming later this week to pick up the old one for recycling.

I know it's just an inanimate object but I feel sorry for the old fridge. It worked so well for such a long time and in fact it is still working well except for the leaks. I think after it found out we were looking for another fridge it even tried to stop making so many puddles but alas, last night it just couldn't hold it any longer and there was water on the floor again.

I kind of wish the old fridge would start acting (and heating) up just so I could say goodbye and good riddance, but it seems to be performing to the very end. Ah, it will be sad to see it go.





Sunday, October 25, 2009

Phantom of the ICF

Several weeks ago the residents at Keiro were treated to a Taiko performance during dinner. One of the numbers featured a dancer wearing a lion mask.

After the show, my dad said he wanted that lion mask so he could wear it while playing his harmonica. He even went up and asked the guy if he could have it!

Well as you might expect he didn't get the mask but the guy said it was available at stores in J-Town for around $12-$15.

My dad decided he would make his own mask.

During our family get-together lunch today, he excused himself from the table. We all thought he went to use the bathroom. But no.. like Clark Kent, he disappeared and then emerged as a totally different character:




Friday, October 23, 2009

No Windows

I pre-ordered Windows 7 and was supposed to receive it today (Thursday), the official release day. That's what the shipping info in Amazon said, too. Here is a screen print of the tracking info:


Notice anything weird about it? It says it departed Sacramento at 2:27 am on October 22, and arrived a minute later in Baldwin Park. Oh, maybe they were sending the files over the internet to be burned to disc in Baldwin Park?

Later on I checked and the package actually arrived in Baldwin Park at 1:49 pm on Thursday afternoon, so there was no way it was going to be delivered that day. Grr..

But before I could send off a complaint e-mail (which would arrive a minute later in Bombay somewhere, even though my package didn't move from Sacramento to Baldwin Park that quickly), this message arrived in my inbox:


So I'm happy! I don't have time to install it anyway but I'll take the ten bucks. That was mighty good of them to be proactive like that.

For today's YouTube I was searching for this old commercial from the '60s, one for shampoo, I think. But I couldn't find it. Do any of you old timers remember it? The lyrics went something like this:

Yesterday they took away my window
But I still see things fly away
Don't.. let them tell you what you can do
Do your own thing, do your own thing, today

Now what that has to do with shampoo I really don't know but I liked the song.

Then there was another one that went like this:

Christopher discovering America
Discovering the whole world, too
And while he's discovering America
America's discovering you..

I don't even remember what that was trying to sell. But I remember the song!

Oh, well. if you don't remember those, you probably remember this one:




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Wars

In case you haven't heard, Wal Mart has thrown down the gauntlet to be the number one reseller on the internet. One of the things they've done that has caused a real stir in the book world is to drop their price on the top 10 pre-order hardcovers to $8.98 per book, including shipping.

Now that's a crazy deal. The retail price matters not; all of the top 10 are all $8.98. Originally they were being offered at $10, which Amazon promptly matched, so Wal Mart dropped the price to $9. When Amazon matched that, they went down a penny. When Target matched that, they went down another penny.

Wal Mart's CEO expressed his goal of making Wal Mart the biggest online retailer, with the lowest prices. Wal Mart has also adopted the same business model as Amazon, featuring merchandise from 3rd party vendors on their site along with their own.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am a defender of Wal Mart from all those folks who think that they are evil. So what do I think of this new push to be the internet online store leader?

Sorry, but Wal Mart is 2nd rate compared to Amazon. There is no comparison.

I looked at Wal Mart's site tonight and indeed, they are offering some pretty good prices and in many cases (this is from looking at the blu rays), lower than Amazon's price. For example, the Wizard of Oz special edition blu ray is $46.86 at Wal Mart compared to $49.99 at Amazon. Factor in sales tax, however, and in the land of waste o'plenty (California in case you didn't know = Waste Mart), that jacks up the price to $51.43 (in L.A. County). On top of that you have to pay for shipping, whereas Amazon has free shipping on many items over $25. Wal Mart offers free site-to-store shipping but who wants to go to a Wal Mart and hassle with them to pick up your order? I'd rather stay at home and let the UPS guy hassle with traffic to deliver it to me.

While Wal Mart has improved the look of its site and also the ease of navigation, it is still miles behind Amazon in terms of breadth and design. Amazon has tons more merchandise, the benefit of not charging sales tax, numerous customer reviews (sorry, but many of the customer reviews on Wal Mart sound like Grandpappy McCoy wrote them after just learning how to type on a computer) and overall a higher level of sophistication.

Of course, the competition is good for us consumers, at least in the short run. I don't see how a price war winds up being good for anyone because eventually you price yourself out of business. These two giants have the megaresources to duke it out for a long time, though, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

My bet is on Amazon. The image of Wal Mart being a dinosaur when it comes to technology just won't disappear from my head.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rat Race

Like every morning when I drive to work, I was on the freeway around 6:30. There were so many cars, all headed somewhere, all before the sun had even begun to show itself.

It isn't to the point of stop and go like normal rush hour traffic, but it seems to me that soon it will be. Where are so many people going so early in the morning?

Me, I like getting in early to beat the traffic, and leaving early for the same reason although the traffic going home is generally worse than coming in (but not nearly as bad as if I were to leave an hour later, I'm sure).

This is just crazy. There is something perverted about that many cars on the road at that time of the morning; and I am in one of them. As I drove to work, amazed at the sheer number of my fellow commuters, even in the carpool lane, I thought there has got to be a better way to earn a living.

I am so glad I get to work from home a couple of days a week but then there are still those three days of going through the routine..





Monday, October 19, 2009

Hopping the Fence

We have a new sales rep at work and on Friday I had a chance to talk with him a little bit about our respective backgrounds.

He told me he had gone to Birmingham High and played on their football team. I said I had gone to Dorsey.

"Oh we played them in a playoff game one year. We almost beat them but they won, something like 17-13." During the time he was in high school, I guess both schools were supposedly football powerhouses.

"Back when I was at Dorsey, we had a lousy football team," I told him. "But we always made sure we won after the game."

He laughed. "Yeah, it was a night game and there was so much security. The game was at Birmingham so I was wondering why so much security?"

"They probably brought everyone with them," I said. "So you grew up in the Valley?"

"Oh no, I got bused out there. I lived right off of Crenshaw. Real close to Audubon."

"You did? You went to Audubon?"

"Naw, I got bused to junior high in the Valley, too. I thought I was going to Audubon and my mom told me nope, you're getting bused."

"Oh. I went to Foshay myself," I offered.

He stared at me. "You went to Foshay?"

I nodded.

"Oh, man. I was scared of that place!"

I told him our boss said that when he was in junior high that was the threat used to scare them - if you acted up, you'd get sent to Foshay.

"There'd be some days when I didn't go to school and my mom would drive me to her office and we'd go past Foshay. Right down Exposition. And every time we'd go past I'd always see all these kids hoppin' the fence! They're like running around the yard or hoppin' the fence!" Then he laughed and made fighting motions and motions like climbing over a fence. "Those kids were crazy! That place used to scare me every time we went past."

I said it didn't seem so bad to me when I went there. Meanwhile he kept making those motions, back and forth across my office and laughing. "Man that place was crazy!"

"I had nothing to compare it to. I didn't know any better," I said. "I thought that was normal."

That really made him laugh. "Normal. Oh man, normal." He shook his head then did more of his crazy motions and said he had to get back to work. As he was leaving he stopped and turned around and laughed again. "Fo-shay."

I laughed too.






Saturday, October 17, 2009

Business/Government Lesson

I've posted this video before, maybe even a couple of times. Today it is here to demonstrate something. But before I get up on the soapbox, here's the video for you to watch:



Now, if you noticed, the traffic seemed to be flowing pretty smoothly despite the seeming chaotic nature of everything. Backups were minimal.

Notice also that there was no form of formalized traffic control - that is, no traffic signals, stop signs, cop directing traffic, etc.

Everything functioned well on its own.

Now imagine putting a traffic signal or other means of control at that intersection. Do you really think it would make things move any more smoothly? Me, I don't think so. It would have the opposite effect. Not only that, but there would be a cost involved of implementing that control, something that would have to be borne through taxation.

Now there are always going to be those people who view the video and the first thing that comes to their mind will be, "Oh my goodness! They need to put in a traffic light before someone gets killed!!" And they will immediately call for the government to get involved.

That means someone has to form a committee. Then they have to establish a department to handle this matter, and hire a bunch of bureaucrats to manage it and then hire a staff to process paperwork. And do several traffic studies, impact studies, etc. and then go out to bid for who is going to install the control devices.

And after the signals are installed and traffic begins backing up and severe jams begin to form, this will affect all the other intersections down the line of the streets feeding into the original one, which will then themselves require government intervention, repeating the same process and so on and so forth.

And that's the lessonfor today!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ant Dance

I haven't posted in a couple of days because (1) things have been so busy and (2) I've been feeling a bit under the weather. Well, the status hasn't really changed much but I thought I would do something brief here.

Yesterday I discovered a trail of little black ants going across the bathroom floor. I hate those ants!!!

Rather than squish them out of existence, I checked to see where they were coming from and where they were going to. It looked like they were emerging from some hole between the carpet and the baseboard in the bedroom and then marching somewhere into the tile around the shower. What they were looking for or whether this was just some ant short cut I don't know, but I sprayed both entrance/exit points.

Then I got out the vacuum and swooped up all the ones on the floor.

Have you ever wondered what happens to ants if you vacuum them up? I always wondered if that killed them. Someone told me it did because of the pressure but that didn't make sense to me.

Since we now have a Dyson with the clear plastic trash container instead of the traditional opaque bag, I was able to look and see for myself what happens to these little punks once they're swallowed up.

Lo and behold, they were inside the cannister moving around! Well not all of them; some were smashed and dead but there were enough walking around to demonstrate that they do indeed survive when vacuumed.

I turned on the vacuum and watched them do a recreation of Dorothy leaving Kansas for Munchkinland. Then I turned off the vacuum and watched them settle down. And start moving around again.

After doing this several times, I figured I should stop because I wouldn't want to break the vacuum on account of a bunch of stupid ants. I emptied out the trash cannister into a bag, then tied up the bag so the ants couldn't get out.

And that was my scientific experiment for the day. My hoped-for hypothesis, that ants die when vacuumed, was disproved via observation. Grr...

Sorry, no YouTube.. don't have time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Place They Love to Hate

Finally we got some rain today! When I went running this afternoon, it started raining. I didn't laugh, though. Maybe because the rain wasn't frozen.

Okay, you probably didn't get my obtuse reference to Steely Dan.

Sandy sent me a link to an article today because she knows how riled up I get when people start slamming Wal Mart. To read the article, click here.

Why do so many people make a career out of slamming Wal Mart? They go on and on about how the employees are mistreated, about how they use their size to bully their competition as well as beat down their suppliers to get lower prices, and about how they enhance the economy of China more than the U.S.A.

You know, no one forces anyone to work at Wal Mart, to shop at Wal Mart or to sell merchandise to Wal Mart. Last I checked, everyone was free to follow their own volition when it came to Wal Mart. True, their employees, at least the ones on the lower tiers, may not be too handsomely paid or have lots of benefits, but no one forces them to work there. The main complaints seem to be coming from people who don't work there rather than the ones who do.

If you work somewhere and don't like the pay or benefits, then do something about it. If you can't get something better, is that Wal Mart's fault? You should have thought about that when you were goofing off in school and limited your own future by doing so.

As to how Wal Mart uses its size to gain an advantage.. well, I think it is absolutely unfair that we allow USC to have large linemen on their team. It makes it really tough for small guys to compete with them. I think Pete Carroll should use smaller people on the line so that the other team will have a better chance.

Sorry, that's just the way it is.

I forwarded the link to one of my colleagues at work who gets just as riled up as I do when someone mentions Wal Mart. Except she hates them. I've told her the same thing I wrote above but she still insists on being wrong, haha.. Here's what she wrote back to me:

Argh! Why did you have to show this to me! >:o Now I'm all bugged again about Walmart. Thing is people don't realize how much of a strong influence that Walmart has globally. Yes, we don't have to shop there and yes, suppliers/retailers don't have to work with them but in the market, Walmart is mainstream and so everyone is trying to get their edge on and they know they have to do it with Walmart because Walmart absolutely will not drop their purchasing price regardless of how bad the economy so when suppliers materials cost go up, they still can't increase their costs with Walmart because Walmart will just buy elsewhere so they are stuck. And like with Rubbermaid, they were one of the biggest suppliers here in the U.S. which helped the U.S. economy but because Walmart started to offshore this forced Rubbermaid and other similar companies to either go bankcrupt or outsource as well!

All this is good for the Chinese government and Walmart corporate big wigs, no one else.

And my reply to her would still be the same. No one forces anyone to have a relationship with Wal Mart. This is what I wrote back:

Also, let me ask you something.. how can you justify driving around your gas guzzling SUV and complain about Wal Mart? ;-)

This was her reply:

I have 3 kids! And on the weekends its full capacity! >:o Believe me, I'd rather drive something smaller and I hate driving my SUV because not just with gas, its parking that is a pain but that's not my point. I'm not trying to change the world because that is IMPOSSIBLE! I just have a different opinion about Walmart with you! =-O

Well now, what did we do before we had SUV's? At least she's not one of those people out there driving a Hummer and buying carbon offsets (the use of the word "offset" refers to what that does to their liberal guilt).

I guess the real question to ask here is, is this what you do at work all day?? How do we manage to get any work done??






Monday, October 12, 2009

Trivial Stuff

This weekend was a busy one.. I have not much to write but I'll write it anyway.

First off, although it will probably sound like I have some sort of vendetta against Cheerios, there's something else I wanted to say about their commercials.

This is a different one than the one that makes me want to throw a television through the wall. I saw it last night while watching the news and it's the one for Honey Nut Cheerios.

I actually don't remember what happened in that commercial but what I do remember is when the actor was talking about how healthy it was for you, these tiny little words in white displayed on the screen. Too tiny for me to really read, especially because they were in white, which made it harder to see!!!

That made me wonder, just what are they trying to pull on us consumers? Those tiny little words in white are no different than the guy at the end of consumer home loan radio commercials who talk a mile a minute about the financing charges.

I really don't trust that cereal any more. At least Sugar Bear never tried to make us think Sugar Crisp was a health food. Nor Tony the Tiger. Or that leprechaun.

Next up, we had lunch at Quiznos today and tried their "Toasty Bullets" sandwich. The price is a reasonable two for $5.00. Or at least it seems reasonable but I have to say, these are some pretty small sandwiches. Here's a picture:


That bag of chips is an individual serving size (1 3/8 ounce), not a family size bag so that should give you some idea of how big this sandwich is. At least it tasted pretty good, what there was of it.

I spent a good part of the weekend working on a web site. I also brought home some work work to do but ended up only doing a little bit of that. It was more fun working on the site. It's for a neighborhood Japanese restaurant. If you want to take a look, click here, but just keep in mind it's still in process and is not "public" yet.

Lastly, for some reason my Firefox browser was refusing to show any YouTube clips today. Whenever I clicked on any, I received an error message telling me that either I didn't have javascript enabled, or I was missing the latest version of Adobe Flash. I checked and javascript was enabled, and I downloaded and installed the latest version of Flash several times. Still no YouTubes, just that same message. I even reinstalled Firefox. Nothing. Restarted the computer, and same thing.

Then I decided to Google the error message to see if anyone else had that same trouble. I went to YouTube, clicked on a video to bring up the message, and of course, wouldn't you know it, the video appeared as if nothing had happened.

So in honor of all that trouble I had with YouTube this afternoon, you ain't gonna see anything from their site today.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Road

Expanding on a comment left by a certain anonymous commenter the other day, I thought I would share something. This is what he wrote:

Tough call on being the man. I did that once and regretted it for years and still wonder how my life's path and that of my first love has been altered.

To put this in context, we're talking about what may have happened had we said or done something differently earlier in our lives - what direction would they have branched out from there?

Do you have those turning points in your life that you wonder about? Sometimes they don't have to seem all that significant, yet something burns in your mind that perhaps things could have been way different had you taken course A instead of course B.

Back in high school I asked Cindy A if she wanted to go out Saturday night. She said okay but when it came time to decide where, she said she had a better idea. Why didn't I come over and we'd make cookies that evening at her house?

What?? Cookies??? I didn't want to sit around doing girl stuff! "Uh, well, how about if we go to a movie instead?"

"How about if you come over instead? It'll be fun! Come on and try it."

This went back and forth until finally I gave a noncommital, "Okay, I might come by," sounding more yes than no even though in my head I was a firm 'no.'

"I thought you were going out with Cindy tonight?" David asked me when I called and asked what he was up to that night. I explained to him about the cookies.

"You're not going?" he asked.

"I don't want to bake cookies!" I proclaimed. "Let's go somewhere."

"Are you sure? Isn't she expecting you?"

"Well, I didn't say I was going to go there. I said I might. I didn't say for sure."

So I ended up not going. I just couldn't fathom spending a Saturday night baking cookies.

The next day, Cindy sounded rather upset. "What happened to you? I thought you were coming over? I was waiting!" Now this was from someone who never seemed to get mad about anything. Until now.

"Oh, uh, well, I.. umm, never said I was going to for sure. I uh, said I might." Hmm.. I hadn't thought about having to deal with the situation after the fact. I suppose our shared Japanese ancestry helped us to just gloss over it all and so she didn't say what was really on her mind, like I was an idiot and a jerk.

After all these years, I still remember that; what was probably incidental has made me wonder first why I was so stupid not to go over there and secondly, what if I hadn't been so stupid.

This is how I look at it.. there's one track and then it diverged into two tracks. I took one of them and wound up like I told you above; I could have taken the other one. But down the line, the two tracks merged back into one and still headed for the same destination. For a while the scenery would have been different but in the end I'd wind up in the same place.

It's the weekend.. here's a double-header:






Friday, October 9, 2009

More Commercials

The other day my anonymous buddy posted a comment to my blog post about how much I hate that Cheerios commercial. He said he hated this one even more:




Then he went on to say he did that once and wonders how his life's path would have been different had he chosen the other fork.. well, I don't want to get into his personal life so I'll leave it at that since we all have those turning points in our lives. I have certainly had my share! Too bad we don't have alternate universes that enable us to explore our what-if's.

Sorry, but I completely disagree regarding the commercial. I thought the above Fiber One spot was pretty funny. The characters were likable, even the fire-breathing big mama. It was played strictly for laughs and that's fine with me. I wouldn't object to watching it. But that Cheerios commercial.. that one really hits a nerve with me. I don't know what they were trying to accomplish. Was it supposed to be funny? If so, they failed miserably. If it was supposed to make you remember the name Cheerios because you hated it so much, then they were wildly successful.

You know what it is.. those two in the commercial are just totally unlovable. Do you know anyone who really acts like that??? They are trying to be oh so hip with their clever banter but it heads totally down the drain. It isn't clever, it isn't funny, it isn't even worth writing about so I had better stop before I end up heaving a TV through the wall, haha..




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rats

Yesterday I blogged about how much I can't stand that Cheerios commercial with those two totally unsympathetic, irritating, annoying, unlikable characters.

It made me wonder, what was that ad agency trying to accomplish, and what was General Mills thinking when they ran that commercial? Did they honestly think that it was funny or charming? Or did they know that it was totally irritating and they wanted to cause a reaction among the viewers?

All it did was make me swear off eating Cheerios for the rest of my life. Well, maybe I am in the minority but then who knows.. only a couple of people voted in the poll I left asking for your thoughts about it and one of those votes belonged to me, haha..

There's another commercial that left me wondering what were the people thinking when they decided to put it on the air. Me, I find it hilarious but I do wonder just how effective it was in actually bringing in the customers. Here's three different versions:






For the record, I like Quiznos. Between them and Subway, I'd pick Quiznos every time. Apparently I am the minority opinion, though, because the two that were near our house have closed down. Meanwhile there are several Subways nearby. We even ate at one last weekend for lunch and it wasn't bad; it just isn't as good as Quiznos. Their commercials aren't as good, either!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Box Says Shaddap

Tonight a Cheerios commercial came on the tube. I am very skeptical about the health claims they make and apparently so is the United States government because they called them on the carpet about some unsubstantiated claim they made not too long ago. I don't remember exactly what it was, but personally I find it hard to believe that this cereal is as healthy as it claims to be.

Watching that Cheerios commercial (this one featured the product in various colors; I don't remember which particular kind it was) reminded me that they make my absolute LEAST favorite commercial, perhaps of ALL TIME!

Here it is:




Argh, I can't stand the commercial and I can't stand that woman and can't stand that wimpy man (I use the expression loosely) in there!! I find nothing whatsoever that is worthwhile about the whole thing. I'm sure they intended it to be funny or maybe merely amusing but that woman is simply irritating. And that husband.. hey, stand up and be a man! What a doormat!!

I suggest that wimpasaurus take a lesson from this guy:




Now I know some of you are going to tactfully suggest that perhaps I should seek anger management classes. Haha, for some reason that Cheerios commercial carries just that exact combination of everything that gets on my nerves terribly - the way they look, the way they act, the things they say.. bingo! NO man or woman should EVER act like either of these two major annoyances!

So what do you think?




Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bonehead

If you aren't aware, the 70th anniversary edition of the Wizard of Oz was released on both regular DVD and blu ray last Tuesday.

The blu ray edition being sold at Amazon is the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" that includes 4 discs plus a kitchen sink full of memorabilia such as a watch, book, posters and a bunch of other things. I'm surprised they didn't include the ruby slippers, too.

When it was first released on a preorder basis, it was priced at $58.99. Quite a whopping price. I preordered it since I didn't have to pay yet and that tied it up while I made a decision; I could always cancel before the release date.

After mulling it over, during which time the price dropped to a still-steep $51.99, I decided not to buy it and canceled my preorder. My reasoning was, this is an old movie. How much better could the quality be for such an old movie on blu ray versus a regular DVD? Plus, do I really want all those extras? I mainly want to watch the movie, which is one of my favorites. The annual showing on CBS, each March I believe, was a can't-miss event. Those flying monkeys used to scare the heck out of me!

I opted for the regular DVD instead, at a more reasonable $16.99. It arrived on Tuesday. It is sitting here on my desk as I type, unopened.

Meanwhile, I have read some reviews of the blu ray and what a fantastic job they did on the picture and sound. Then I also read that there are several "collector's editions" out there depending on what store you go to - each has a slightly different configuration. Wal-Mart has a basic one-disc blu ray version without all the extras for $19.96. Well heck, I'll just buy that one, I figured. That's all I need.

Then I thought if I do that, I'll have spent about $39, for the regular Amazon version I bought plus the WalMart basic version plus sales tax. For another $13 I could have gotten the big deluxe ultimate collector's version (even though I said I didn't need it).

Today during my regular Costco visit I checked to see what they had. On the shelf sat the ultimate collector's edition for $56.99. Forget that. Later we went to Target, where I heard they had a smaller version of it for $34.99. Those were all gone and all they had was the ultimate collector's version for $64.99. Even worse! (But if you are looking for seasons of SNL, they have the first four on sale for $19.99 each - that's a great deal). Then we went to Wal Mart. They had NOTHING. All sold out.

Now I am thinking I should have just stuck with my original Amazon preorder! After all, it IS the Wizard of Oz, an incomparable classic, and supposedly with a remarkable restoration. Oh, well.. I keep looking at the Amazon product page. Anyone want to buy the regular DVD version? Haha..

Now an even more bonehead thing I did was to decide to sell the shares of AONE I bought last week.

If you don't know what that is, it is the stock symbol for A123 Systems, Inc., a company that makes batteries for electric-powered cars. They just had their initial public offering of stock week before last and I was thinking this is an industry that is really going to take off in the near future as everyone becomes more green-conscious.

So I bought some shares at a price of $18.91. As usually happens, right after I did that the stock started sinking in price. Normally that doesn't concern me too much but the debate I have been having with myself lately is whether to even buy individual stocks at all, or instead buy index fund stocks that were less risky.

As soon as AONE went back up to a price that let me break even after paying commissions, I sold it. Maybe it will go up, maybe it will go down, but the main thing is to not buy individual company stocks, was how I reasoned this. At least I got my money back.

And, as usually happens, as soon as I sold it, the stock took off. It went as high as $26.74 on Friday before closing at $25.77. In other words, it went nearly $8.00 higher than what I had bought it for. That's more than a 40% gain in less than a week. My head was a giant lollipop as I sat there wondering why did I sell it.

Well who knows.. maybe it is a shooting star that's going to wind up crashing down to earth soon and I'll be glad I sold it when I did. Or maybe not.

But between Wizard of Oz and AONE, I am feeling like a bonehead.

Hey listen to the YouTube today.. takes me back to 1972 and hearing Carry On play this at Japanese Deer Park.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Season 5

This morning I did my usual routine of going to Amazon.com to see the daily Gold Box deal and also to see what they came up with for my "quick picks," products supposedly chosen just for me, offered at an additional discount.

My quick picks selection is hit and miss; some days there's interesting stuff in it and some days I have no idea what made them think I would be even remotely interested in the selection (like putting a Barbara Streisand CD in the mix.. give me a break! I'm still waiting for her to make good on her promise to move out of this country if George W. got elected).

Well today was an absolute hit. There, top and center, staring right at me, was Season 5 of Taxi! That 5th and final season will complete the collection, and I'm elated. It won't be released until December 22 but I wasted no time clicking the "add to cart" button to squirrel away this treasure. Hey, that made my day!


Something else of note: my buddy who prefers to go by "anonymous" posted a link in yesterday's comment section and told me to check it out.

A while ago I had written about Yoko Ohigashi's (nee Yokotake, and first name Jane back when I knew her in high school) appearance on American Gladiator and what amazing shape she was in. Well now there's a short video that provides an additional look at what she's been up to and I have to say I was very happy to see someone from the old 'hood on camera! The original of the below video can be found on the Subway/MSN "Fit to Boom" fitness site right here.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Jack

Don't you think the voice of Jack Box (CEO of Jack in the Box) sounds like Steve Martin? I always wondered whose voice that was and have always suspected it belonged to the comedian.

I did a little snooping on the 'net today and according to Yahoo answers, the voice belongs to Dick Sittig, founder and head of the ad agency that runs the JITB campaign, one that has produced some of my favorite commercials.

Being that any fool can provide Yahoo answers to a Yahoo question, and there was only one response from one fool, I did some more research and came across this interview with Mr. Fettig.

In that interview, he says that a lot of people think he is Jack's voice but he can't confirm that. Yeah, I already know that because it's Steve Martin, that's why!

On another note, a friend mentioned to me the other day that she was watching Desperate Housewives and saw the name "Monkupower" in the credits. Huh??? How dare they use anything having to do with "monku??" Sure enough I checked and that domain name has already been taken. You know I've been secretly planning to build a Monku empire ("Monkupire"), headed by my internet alias, Monkuboy. Maybe even have Steve Martin for a spokesman and an ad campaign run by Dick Sittig..

And on a final note, I wish you a happy Friday! TGIF! Oh man, it has been a long week.. things are heating up at work so I apologize for the boring blog entries this week. You didn't notice any difference, you say? Hmph..