Monday, July 31, 2006

football is in the air

Jaguars training camp opened this weekend, and none too soon. Once again the air is so full of optimism you can almost taste it...and even more this year since the Jagaurs went to the playoffs last year and expect to go a bit deeper in them this year. So much much drama...

Jimmy Smith is gone, so who picks up the wide receiver slack? Most folks (me included) are pinning their hopes on Matt Jones, but there are other posibilities. Do we finally have an answer at corner to play opposite Mathis? People are already saying "yes" a day into camp. Who fills the linebacker hole now that Akin Ayodele jumped to the Cowboys? The rookies are getting some typical ooooh's and ahhhhh's for the first weekend. The media is jumping on every little move and making mountains out of molehills, and I love it. It's nice to have it all back, but it all has to be taken with a huge grain of salt. Everybody's hungry for information and the media is trying way too hard to supply the demand. The result is, a player gets the hiccups and there's speculation on whether or not he'll play this season. It can get pretty funny.

I have missed this soooo much!

Oh, and one very provincial note...I'm sick and tired of listening to whiney Steeler fans (and fans of other teams, but the Steeler fans are the worst, and yes, I realize I'm're not all whiney) complain that they get no in depth training camp news about their beloved team here in Jacksonville. No, you don't. That's how it works when you're in Jacksonville. If I were in Pittsburgh, do you think I'd get any in depth training camp reports from J'ville? Hell no! I know earlier this month when I was in Pennsylvania, I heard not word one about the Jaguars, but I heard about the Eagles and Steelers. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing if you were in Dallas or Atlanta, you wouldn't be getting what you want either. Find your hometown radio stations on the net (or satellite radio) and listen to them. They're the ones covering your hometown team. Quit whining about the local Jacksonville stations not giving you the play by play on every ball Big Ben throws in camp. This ain't Pittsburgh, and while you may not be, a lot of us more than OK with that.

While I potentially have the attention of some Steeler fan, do you know where I can get one of those Roethlisberger bobble head dolls? You know...the one on the hood of a car? Somebody thank their lucky stars and give that boy a helmet, before he really hurts himself.

Friday, July 28, 2006

two words

Pamela Anderson, when asked about how she's coping with pre-nuptual nerves leading up to her marriage to Kid Rock was quoted as saying, "I have two words for you. Champagne."

Ya know, I have nothing against large breasts on women. In fact, I think they can be quite attractive. It is helpful, however, when a woman's IQ is larger than her bra size. It should also be noted that she who has trouble counting to two is also the PETA spokes-model telling us all that wearing fur is a very bad thing. Yes, liberal causes are big on getting spokes-people from the crowd in 90210 (the Zip Code, not the show, but there too). They don't have to be bright. They just have to be famous..some for their very large...ummmmm...IQs. Right.

I have two words for you Pammy. What an ultra-maroon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Al Qaida - just trying to make the world a better place

Mr. #2 (and trying harder) in Al Qaida is calling for Holy War against Israel.

Holy War

Ya know, I've gotten so used to hearing that term, that the absurd literal meaning has been lost on me...but it just hit me dead in the face. The words 'holy' and 'war' were never meant to be used together in a sentence. Never.

The guy says he wants Islam to reign from Spain to Iraq. Not just Islam, mind you, the extreme version he believes in. Yeah, let's do that. Let's bring that taliban-like intimidation and "iron fist" rule to more of the world. Let's have more people living in fear of extreme muslim clerics who believe there is no way to live on this earth but their way, and disagreement means death. Lets spread that fear and desparation to more of the world's population. Let's just stamp out freedom and happiness the world over.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

the car salesman credit score law

I have (since that last entry) polled others who have dealt with car salesmen and credit scores.

Apparently if it is against the law, it is only in certain situations. Some have told me that car salesmen routinely tell people credit scores when they're using the score as a reason why you can't have such and such a percentage rate on youre financing. the line goes something like this...

"Well, if you could qualify for this wonderful rate we could get you such and such a payment, but since your credit score is this and that pretty much sucks, we can only get you this ugly rate which equates to such and such payment."

So from this I can infer that the law states..."When you need the credit score to screw a customer, you are well within your rights to reveal said score. However, when the score is of no use to you or could be used to your disadvantage, any attempt to disclose said score to a customer is punishable by death."

p.s. From all the attention I'm giving this you'd think I'm really peeved about it. Truth is, it's not that big a deal. I had nothing else in the way of burning issues today and work's a nightmare, so it was more filler than anything. Sorry to subject you to it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

car salesmen

I know they aren't all lying bastards. My brother-in-law is one and he's not a lying bastard. So why is it some of them have to be? Is it just to live up to the stereotype? Even the little shit that doesn't matter to anyone seems an opportunity to lie.

When we were getting our credit application together a week ago when we started this whole car buying process, I figured the guy had to get my credit score. I have some idea what it is, because I know we have pretty good credit, but I don't know the number. It's not something I need to know, but I was curious, so after we got approved and all that, I asked.

"So, what exactly is our credit score?"

"I can't tell you that, by law."

Is that the car dealer equivalent of "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you?"

C'mon dude, you can't really expect me to believe you can't tell me my credit score. That's a load of crap. I didn't pursue it because it's not something I absolutely have to know, but I didn't believe him. What I did believe was it was just one piece of information that, in my case, might somehow be favorable in the whole price negotiating process, and he wasn't about to hand me any advantage. Not ten minutes later, I heard another salesman yell a number across the showroom that seemed, from the number in question and the context in which he used it, suspiciously like a credit score, but I don't know for sure.

Last night, we finally got my vehicle. (Final stop on the color wheel, by the way...white.) So the wife asks, out of curiosity, "So, how far did you have to go to get this one?"

Same guy, "Oh, I'm not allowed to tell you that."

So we're sitting in the showroom with the sticker from the car in hand....the one with all the standard and optional equipment, the estimated MPG and price, bored stiff waiting for some finance guy to get our paperwork together. I've succumbed to reading everything on that sticker because there's not much else to do, and it's right there, in the bottom corner. The car came from some Toyota dealer in Athens, Georgia. You lying sack of shit. Can't tell us, my ass. What was the point of that?

Monday, July 24, 2006

You, Me and Steely Dan

Steely Dan has to be one of my favorite 70's bands, even after most of the members left and they were more two guys than a band. Can't Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy and Pretzel Logic are three of my favorite old albums.

So I'm kind-of shaking my head at this. Apparently Don and Walt are peeved because someone allegedly stole a character they created for a song and made a movie out of him. The movie is You, Me and Dupree, and supposedly they created the Dupree character, and feel like they've been dissed.

Maybe they have and maybe they haven't, but that letter in the link is not the way to handle it. Somewhere out there is a high road, and this ain't it. I haven't seen the movie, but I have seen the previews. In six months they'll be selling it in the discount DVD rack at Walmart. This is nothing to get bent outa shape for. You want to make yourselves look like spoiled has-beens? You got it. I always thought of these guys as being above that sort of thing. So much for my delusions.

that's racin'...or maybe not

I think if you've read here for any amount of time, you've gathered that I'm not a NASCAR fan. I don't begrudge those who are. If that's your thing, fine. I also understand the folks on Fox Sports Radio pretty much have to promote it, whether they really give a damn or not, because Fox televises NASCAR (and it's pretty hilarious listening to James Washington, ex-Cowboy cornerback, trying to convince me he's a big NASCAR fan.)

So I'm driving around running errands this weekend in the wife's car, because I'm still waiting on mine, listening to FSR and these guys are giving me a little bit of sports between telling me and the rest of America how great NASCAR is, but then they start in on the Tour de France and how ridiculous it is, and how nobody cares.

"It's a bike race. 'Nuff said."

I'm sitting there thinking, yeah, it's a bike race. Truth be told, I care about as much as I cared about the World Cup. Maybe less. It's one of those European things we don't really get. Still, these guys...after pushing NASCAR in my face, start ripping a bike race and I'm least they're doing more than turning left in a high speed billboard. At least this requires some amount of physical activity, and a hell of a lot more than playing footsie with a gas, brake and clutch pedal and turning a wheel...ever so slightly. These guys spend hours trying (unsuccessfully) to convince me these NASCAR drivers are athletes. Some may be. Some probably work out between races. It has next to nothing to do with their job, however. Secretaries do in their off time too. Both occupations require about the same amount of coordination and athletic ability, though I suppose you look better for the sponsor if you look less like the blimp and more like the buff athlete when promoting Goodyear in commercials. Let's face it, there's more athleticism going on in the pit crew than behind the wheel. Then they slam bike racers who actually are athletes...whose race actually does involve stamina, and endurance, and muscles aching like they've never ached before, and pushing through that, and a level of human achievement that, compared to winning a NASCAR race makes NASCAR look like a walk in the park. What's up with that?

Like I said, neither is exactly my cup of tea. Everyone's different and thank God we don't all like the same things, or I'd never get a tee time. When you're pumping up one kind of racing though, I don't see where you have any business running down the other. It's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.....or checkered?...or in this case, yellow?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Highlander update

Supposedly, the light blue color has now turned white, and it should appear in something other than virtual form by.....well, maybe tomorrow, maybe Sunday and maybe Monday...but it should be no later than Monday.


One side note - the fact that I'm driving the stripped version of the new car has a side effect. I'm pretty much radio-less, since this version has an antenna, but it's not installed. My version will have the antenna in the windshield. Anyway, it makes AM radio useless and FM half decent, but has again sent me to the CD player, which works just fine. I will recommend Fall Out Boy's latest. You gotta like a band with song titles like "I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me."

still reeling from vacation

It's amazing, when people fill in for you while you're gone and you thought you told them exactly what needed to be done...and don't realize how many assumptions you left in they can do exactly what you told them needed to be done and have it come out so far from what you expected. I'm still piecing things back together, and it's not pretty. I guess I need to learn to be more specific.

"First thing in the morning" has come and gone and no word on the new method of transport. I'm guessing that means they didn't get it, or they would be all over telling me when to come and get it. I called, but the people who know aren't available right now....or since "right now", so I'm expecting a call....sometime.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

supposedly a 50/50 shot

...that by morning I'll know if I can have a light blue Highlander with everything I want on it, but even if I can, I still don't know when...yet.

I guess as a way of atoning for my frustration, they're throwing in a little more than I wanted for about the same price. The only thing is, the little bit more it has is completely useless...a navigation system. C'mon, I'm a guy for crying out loud. I don't need freakin' directions!

We'll see if I ever actually set eyes on it.

the sound of silence

This car thing is getting real frustrating.

I'm still driving the stripped version of an '06 Toyota Highlander, and waiting on a more loaded version, but hearing absolutely nothing from those supposedly working day and night to get me what I want. It doesn't help that every morning I have to get past a security guard to get to work. Usually, my vehicle has a bar code on it that gets me through, but since this isn't really my vehicle, it doesn't. That means actually having to stop and explain my situation to a rent-a-cop and ask to be allowed to come to work. There's a nice version of "Thank you sir, can I have another" for ya. Next morning, different cop, same routine.

I guess I wouldn't be so frustrated if I knew something...anything. If it's going to take another week, two weeks, month to get what I want...fine. Just tell me. Give me back the truckster so I'm not running up miles on what will be someone else's new car and hold my down payment hostage if you like so I'll come back. Just let me know what to expect and I'll be fine. But no...I'm in a vacuum. If I call, I just get, "We're working on it."

The thing is, at the end, they're going to tell me Toyota is going to send me this questionnaire, and if there's any reason why I can't say the whole experience was wonderful, they want to know up front. At this point, I think I'll have to stop from laughing in their faces.

This being in limbo sucks.

ps. Now that I go back and read that though, it strikes me....if this is what I have to whine about...that I'm not getting the new car I want fast enough, or on my terms or whatever, life ain't so bad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

golf competitions

Lots of people do this sort of thing and the logic escapes me.

The World Golf Village is hosting an amateur putting contest. The sixteen finalists win a new Cleveland putter.

So I'm go to this thing and you rock. You become one with your putter in some zen-like way and make the final group of sixteen, and what do they give you for this accomplishment? What is probably the one thing you don't need in the way of golf equipment? A new putter. If you're doing that well with the putter you currently use, what the hell do you want with a new one? Let's just take one part of your game that you're doing awesome with and totally fuck it up by introducing a new piece of equipment...or I suppose you could sell it.

the trip north

The trip north was great. First of all, by some stroke of luck or karma or whatever, the weather was fantastic. It was cool at night and not too hot or humid during the day and...gave my dad all kinds of ammunition for the "Why don't you move home?" argument. I reminded him that it wasn't like that in February. Nor was it always like that in July. In fact, listening to Mr. Weatherman on the news, it was apparent that even he was astonished at the nice weather streak and assured everyone that it wouldn't last. If his predictions held true, the heat and humidity returned as we were passing the Capitol Beltway on our way south.

The first day up there I got my coaster fix for the summer. We went to Hershey and had a great time. My brother and I rode most of the coasters and yes, waited to sit in the front row. Everyone else stuck to the milder rides and we joined them on some of those. Around 7:00 everyone mutually decided it was enough and we went home. Later in the week I played golf (badly of course) with my dad and my other brother and his wife (she who gave me the speech assignment). Again, didn't even break a sweat.

With the weekend came most of the other out-of-town folks for the 50th wedding anniversary celebration. It went off without a hitch, but mostly because the wife helped pull together a lot of last minute stuff nobody thought of. The speech thing went well. I didn't quite say it the way I wrote it, but nobody knew but me. Mom cried. The wife cried. My 7th grade teacher cried. The waitress pulled me aside and told me it was awesome. Mom asked me for the written version afterward, and I gave it to her.

The following Monday we went to Gettysburg and got some civil war education. This place is less than a half hour from the parents' house, and I had never been...until then. I was amazed. If you're ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend the two hour driving tour. They say it's two hours, but we spent four and didn't finish all of it....but we did climb Big Roundtop.

I got to see an old friend who is now my parents' dentist...and yeah, the whole thing was just a nice break.

Then came the 13 hour stretch back home and the complaints about the truckster and its un-comfy ride, but wasn't all that bad. We then spent the next week at home. We went to the water park on Jekyll Island one day, went to the movies one day, did some car shopping, but generally just enjoyed doing nothing...and it was...nice.

Now comes payback....and yeah, it is a bitch.

first day back from vacation

2523 e-mails in the inbox. I hate this day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the circle jerk

Well, while on vacation, we bought a new stereo...a very cool receiver with lots of presets, and a cd player, and surround sound (like 6 or 8 speakers), and the best part is you can take it just about anywhere. It has a steering wheel and seats 7. The bad part is it isn't quite ours yet.

It seems after two 13 hour trips in a week in the family truckster, the wife decided she'd had enough. Yes, when fully loaded and doing just a tad over the speed limit, just to keep up with traffic and not to make an obstacle of myself of course, you feel a lot of the road. Somewhere near the end of the trip home, she prety much exploded.

"I hate riding in this truck. I've always hated riding in this truck. How many miles do we have on this thing? Over 150 thousand? Isn't it about time we traded it in?"

After that it was just a barrage. Every time we got in the truckster I got reminded of how bad the ride is and how we needed something else and "it's time."

So after a few days of that, I realized it was time to trade the truckster. Either that, or I was going to listen to how she hates riding in it every time we loaded up to go somewhere. Sure, we could take her car, but she always wants me to drive, which means adjusting the seat, and mirrors and I'll stop whining now. It's bad enough when I talk about her whining, but when I start and we're doing it in stereo...well, nobody wants to read that.

So I started researching, and found what I wanted. The youngster did the same and we came close to the same vehicle. Mine carried more stuff and people, didn't have a DVD player, did have a roof and wasn't the babe magnet his version was, but other than that, we were thinking along the same lines. Both had four wheels, anyway.

Then came the trip to the dealer. He had exactly what we wanted, but it was dark blue. I like dark blue cars. I don't like dark blue cars in Florida, and this is where the jerking around began. First there was the obligatory offer on the dark blue car. Then the refusal. Then the next offer on the dark blue car. Then the next, more adamant refusal. Then came the search for what we wanted. Next came about three different people, "going out of their way" (ie. doing their job) to get us what we wanted. It would be here the next day. In the meantime, take this stripped version of what you're getting to drive until it comes (since they already hauled the truckster off.)

The next day came, and with it a phone call. We won't have it until tomorrow. Tomorrow was today.

So this afternoon I called, hoping to get all this taken care off before I start working again tomorrow.

Come on in. It's ready.

So we did, and it's not. They thought it was, but someone missed the part where I said it had to have all the stuff the blue car had. It was white, but it was missing a lot of things I wanted..things that blue car had. So I told them no, and they looked incredulous, and then I told them the same thing I did two days ago, and they acted all apologetic, and started frantically looking for what I wanted in the computer.

They're still looking, I suppose. They sent me home with their stripped (but new) version of what I want. I'm tempted to road trip to Orlando...for the hell of it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

parents without adult supervision

My high school has an alumni paper that goes out to everyone and their mother...or at least everyone who graduated from there and their mothers. It includes a section where they have little blurbs about people who did got married, or promoted, or had kids, or whatever. I was going to send something in that said I started this blog, but noody seemed to think that much of an achievement, so I blew that off.

Anyway, a while back dad asked for a picture of my little plaque for the emmy thing, so I sent it. He proceeded to e-mail it to God and everybody, which shoud be of no surprise. I'm sure many of you were on the mailing list, or got it when God forwarded it. One of the recipients was the nun who runs the alumni paper at my alma mater. (Yes, we had nuns, and they still do at the school, which explains a certain kinky fantasy, but let's not go there.) Therefore I made the latest version of the alumni paper. Of course, nobody made an attempt to contact me and get some kind of accurate version of what happened. They had the picture of a plaque and went for it.

The resulting write up went something like, "John of the Lumberyard, class of '75, all by his lonesome, was awarded the emmy for geek-hood by the National Academy of Television Arts." There was more, but that's the gist. It wasn't just inaccurate. It was embarassingly inaccurate. I quit reading when it said something about the peace deal I was brokering in Gaza.

That was the backdrop as I went to my parents' 50th anniversary. Of course, most of my relatives went to the same school, and read all about it. I got all kinds of congratulations and pats on the back and questions about what it was I got this emmy for, and all the while I found myself saying, "It wasn't just me. It was a bunch of us." and getting back, "Oh, he's so modest...blah, blah, blah" Relatives I haven't seen in decades (whose names I was trying to pull from memory as I noticed none of them looked like they did 15 years ago) that annoyingly pinched my cheeks when I was 3 were wanting to know all about it.

So this is what happens when parents are left unchecked and unsupervised. Rest assured I'll be more careful in the future.