It’s Not Christmas Yet!

Geezus! Here it is, November 11th.

And that’s the point. It’s November 11th. The body of Halloween isn’t even cold yet, and Thanksgiving has not yet happened, and it looks like a Christmas cheer factory threw up all over Starbucks.

Ho bloody ho bloody ho.

As Domestic Fuel Prices Skyrocket, U.S. Oil Companies are Exporting Our Oil

I’m no economist, and I’m certainly not a petroleum reserves expert. But even I can tell that there is something wrong wrong wrong when our country is experiencing the kinds of price spikes we’ve seen for petroleum products, and experts are predicting a harsh, expensive heating winter, and yet our domestic oil producers are exporting more oil than is being kept here. One might almost suspect that they are contributing to the inflation at the pump and the furnace.

That’s certainly what the aptly-named consumer watchdog agency, ConsumerWatchdog.org, thinks. That website is run by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), and FTCR President Jamie Court, and petroleum industry consultant Tim Hamilton, recently wrote a letter to President Bush in which they pointed out that, among other things, “In the first seven months of this year, the oil companies exported over 96 million barrels (4 billion gallons) of fuel oil. The amount is 48 times the volume of the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve. When combined with the propane and natural gas that was also exported, the total export of heating products equates to 58 times the volume held in the entire publicly owned reserve in the United States.”

The bottom line? “With winter approaching, oil company exporting has again set the stage for a price spike,” say Court and Hamilton.

Remember that when the predicted doubled and tripled home heating bills start rolling in this winter.

You can read the full text of their letter to President Bush here.

A Rant about Operation Amber Alert

This is a rant which has been a long time in coming.

That’s because I see it nearly every day. You see, I subscribe to the Operation Amber mailing list, and so I see each and every one of the Amber Alerts which go out.

That’s pretty amazing to think about, isn’t it? That there are Amber Alerts every single day.

And that’s the issue. And that’s what this rant is about.

Perhaps even the average citizen could notice it, but being a former father’s rights attorney, I particularly recognize it.

The vast majority..I mean the VAST majority of “abductions” being announced by Amber Alerts aren’t even “abductions” at all. Not in the sense that most people think. Heck, not in the sense that most people assume when they see those Amber Alerts.

No.

The vast vast majority of Amber Alerts are about…

[Continued here]

Next Up: Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery

USA Today is reporting that the FDA has just approved the sale of defibrillators for home use, without a prescription.

According to the story, the FDA “found that the model it approved, Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator, has been designed and labeled in such a way that anyone can follow the directions.”

It goes on to say that “Mickey Eisenberg, a Seattle researcher who has studied cardiac arrest survival, likens the HeartStart to airbags, carbon monoxide detectors or home security systems. “Widespread dissemination, especially in homes of high-risk patients, offers the means to improve these grim mortality statistics.” ”

And hey, what a neat party trick – way better than that little buzzer you palm before you shake someone’s hand!

You can read more about it here.

My $42.00 hour at a T-Mobile Hotspot Starbucks

As any sentient being in the United States is aware by now, Starbucks has partnered with T-Mobile to offer wireless “hotspots” in most of the Starbucks throughout the United States.

They offer 3 different plans, all of for which you can sign up on the (hot)spot: $29.95 per month for unlimited access, or one of two “pay as you go” plans – either the $9.95 for a 24 hour “day pass”, or the “.10 cents per minute with a 60 minute minimum” pass.

Be *very* careful! Don’t be lulled into thinking that if you use the .10 cents per minute pass judiciously, such as by loggin in, grabbing email, and logging out, you can keep your usage low, incurring only the minimum $6.00 fee if you are quick and careful.

The 60 minute minimum is *per* log in. If you log in, grab email, and log out, you will have incurred a $6.00 charge. When you check your email again a half hour later, you will incur an additional $6.00 charge, and so on.

Now, perhaps this should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t – at the time that I signed up, the wording was ambiguous (“per session” was, I believe, what it said). Now (1/2/04) it says “per session per login”, whatever *that* is supposed to mean. Only once you have actually signed up and are logged in can you find language, should you bother to read the rate plans again, which clearly says “$6.00 minimum per *login*”.

I pointed this out to a nice CS rep when I discovered my *$42.00* bill for roughly an hour at a Starbucks, who offered to let me talk to a manager – thinking, I think, that perhaps he would reverse some of those charges which were so clearly racked up due to a misunderstanding..who would log in 7 times in an hour for $42.00 when they could have stayed logged in for that same hour for $6.00? I didn’t even *ask* the manager to reduce my bill – I just pointed out that the language on the sign up page had the potential to confuse, and he instantly started telling me that I had agreed to their terms and conditions, and he was not going to reduce the charges.

THAT just lost them my patronage. Had I asked, and he refused, I’d be annoyed but take it on the chin, but to jump in and tell me up front that they weren’t about to reduce the charges, but that he would pass on the information about the confusing language simply added insult to injury.

Buh bye, T-Mobile Hotspot.

The Toilet that Needed a Colonoscopy

Being homeowners, from time to time we suffer the slings and arrows of home ownership, namely something breaks and needs to be fixed..NOW!

Such was the case with our main sewer line, which, as confirmed by two independent authorities, really needed to be replaced if we wanted the brown, foul-smelling slurry to stop backing up into our shower and bathtub, and onto our floors.

The work completed, and water turned back on, we joyfully put our new plumbing to the test. And the master toilet promptly backed up, venting its spleen and bile, as it were, all over the bathroom floor.

As one might imagine, especially after having spent all that money on a new sewer line, we were less than amused.

We called the plumbing service back in. This time only the toilet was involved – that much we could tell, as everything else was working perfectly, and nothing else had backed up.

We were duly advised that we needed to replace the toilet. “Ok”, we thought, “we’ve trusted these people this far (and they were recommended by a contractor whom we trust a great deal), what’s a toilet between friends?”

The installer came and installed the new toilet.

It promptly backed up the next day, all over the floor, following my husband’s first test run, as it were.

We called the plumbing service back out.

This time we were advised that the problem was not the brand new toilet, but… my husband.

“Your husband, his poo is too big.”

Say what?

“What do you recommend we do?”

“I dunno, maybe you take him to hospital.”

“Really, we should go to the hospital because you think his poo is too large? Is there anything else we might try?”

“You maybe keep two sticks by the toilet, and he smash and crash the poo before flush.”

Really, I couldn’t make this up.

Instead we replaced the toilet with a better brand, with a larger colon. Yes, the tunnel at the back of your toilet through which the waste descends is called the ‘colon’.

And, oh yes, we switched plumbers.

FBI Issues Alert Against Almanac Carriers

Check out this news story which I still can’t believe isn’t an Onion headline – and I’ve looked at both the NY Times site (where the story appears), and The Onion site (where it doesn’t), and I still don’t believe it.

Here’s the lead-in:

“FBI Issues Alert Against Almanac Carriers”

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: December 29, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs…”

Full story available here: http://tinyurl.com/29mfw

Sound off time! What do you folks think of this?

Anne

There’s the Beef!

Dateline Yakima Washington, December 23, 2003: The health department has just announced the first U.S. case of “mad cow disease”, the clinical name for which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Well, we kind of figured that it had to happen sometime. Makes me all the more glad that I’m a vegetarian, and the rest of our family doesn’t eat beef.

But the part which is stunning (and sickening), even to jaded me, is this – and I quote from the AP story of 12/23/03:

“Veneman said the Holstein, which could not move on its own, was found at a farm in Mabton, Wash., about 40 miles southeast of Yakima, and tested preliminarily positive for the brain-wasting illness on Dec. 9. Parts of the cow that would be infected ? the brain, the spinal cord and the lower part of the small intestine ? were removed before the animal went to a meat processing plant.”

[Full story at http://tinyurl.com/22jjm]

Excuse me???

The cow is *unable to move on it’s own*, is found immobile, and is
*sent for slaughter and sale*??? And then a few weeks later someone says “Hey! That cow was sick!”???

Well…DUH!!!

Beef! It’s what’s for brainholes.

No *wonder* people go postal at the post office!!!

I, like 100s of 1000s of people, have been known to use the services of a Personal Mail Box (PMB) provider, such as MailBoxes Etc..

Recently, the service I used lost their lease, and closed their doors. They very generously lined up another service to take on all of their old customers, at much the same price, and provided us all with the USPS mail forwarding forms.

I dutifully filled out and filed the forms. Days passed, and then nearly 2 weeks, and still my mail was not being forwarded, and was in fact still being sent to the *old* address.

So I called up our USPS station, spoke with the supervisor, who said that he had my forwarding forms in hand, and it would start “right away”.

Another week passed – now the old address no longer exists, and, mysteriously, no forwarded mail is showing up at my new address.

So I call back, get the supervisor, and this time I am told… ready for this? “We don’t forward mail from personal mail box services.”.

Excuse me?? Say..what???

That’s right. “We don’t forward mail from personal mail box services. It’s against our policies.”

After coming down from the ceiling (going to have to spackle and paint those nail gouges now), I called the national USPS customer service line, and complained, whined, bleated, and b*tched, all quite loudly. After being put on hold several times while the admittedly sympathetic CS rep checked things out, she came back to tell me, very apologetically “We don’t forward mail from personal mail box services. It’s against our policies.”

Did *you* know that if you use a PMB, and you then change addresses, the post office *will not forward your mail*?????

Now you do.

I see a serious legal issue here, because PMB providers are competition for the USPS in terms of renting mail boxes.

In the meantime, I, and all of those others in my same situation, are essentially threaded. All of my mail to the old
address is simply being returned to sender!!

HOW can it be that this is not common knowledge?

I have also called our local MailBoxes Etc. (now “The UPS
store”), and they not only confirmed this, but also acknowledged that they don’t tell customers about it if they don’t ask!!!
But they do have a service where they will forward your mail for you – of course, for a fee.

Quite a sweet little deal going on both sides: MailBoxes Etc. – you can check out any time you like but you can never really leave. And the USPS: use our competitor, and we simply won’t deliver your mail at all for you.

“We’re the postal service – we do it to you.”

What is WRONG with people???

Geezus!!! What is WRONG with people???

Now, we all know that breastfeeding confers all sorts of health benefits and immunities, right? But it does *not* keep you safe from your mother being a MORON and breastfeeding you WHILE DRIVING THE CAR!!!!!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3293447.stm

Honest to gawd!!!

It’s people like this bimbo, and I use the term advisedly, who give women/breastfeeders/Christians/drivers/husbands/humans/you-name-it a bad name.

It takes a village idiot.

Anne