Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cell Phone Companies are Jerks

So it turns out in addition to locking you into two-year contracts with spotty service, and giving you the crappiest free phones, the cell phone companies are also screwing you on text messages. It turns out it costs them near to nothing to increase the number of text messages transmitted, it's one of those things that once the infrastructure is installed everything is just escalating profit. I've had all of the Big 3 cell phone services first with Verizon (which when I first had it was called AirTouch) then on to Sprint and finally now AT&T. And they are all just as evil as the other. Verizon had the worst customer service both in store and on the phone, plus despite their claims of excellent coverage had huge drop zones in Eagle Rock and charged for roaming. So I switched to Sprint, since it had the nationwide plan and because it allowed you to call for the number of minutes left in the month. I liked Sprint except for the fact that its drop zone was in Whittier. And finally, now with AT&T I've had less complaints about the service, and more about the crappy slider phone I have which has been replaced three times. Add to that, the fact that AT&T will not upgrade me to an iPhone even though they only make about $20/month off me now and that would increase to almost $100/month with the iPhone. The funny thing was that when the iPhone 3G was about to come out and everyone was scared it was going to be a flop, their website said I could upgrade as of October 2008.

Either way cell phone companies have joined the ranks of cable/satellite television as one of the last great legal rackets around. I just wish there was more the average consumer could do about it to really stick it to them. As of now my only option is going off the grid, something I plan on doing at some point, but for now I'll just suffer through.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unions and the Unemployable

The Senate did not pass a bailout plan for the Big 3 automakers. Senate Republicans who forced its failure are blaming the U.A.W. for its unwillingness to concede on wage agreements. The U.A.W. head stated that he didn't believe the Senate Republicans were serious in their offer to the union for a seat at the table. Apparently, the argument came down to 365 days. The Reps wanted the wages at the Big 3 to decrease to the level of other foreign plants located in the U.S. by 2009, the U.A.W. wanted to hold out until 2010 when their contract will be up for re-negotiation. I know that it's always difficult to come to a compromise, but when the Titanic is sinking, is it really the time to argue about whether we should put on life vests? I'm just saying, it doesn't sound like either side really wanted the bailout to succeed.

And apparently even little Richie Rich and Spending Sally are being hit hard by the economic downturn as their allowances get smaller. They're trying to join the workforce to keep up their take-out sushi and Louis Vuitton habits. Being someone who has worked since age 15, I don't feel very sympathetic for these whiny wimps. I feel that everyone should at least work at some point during high school and at the very least college. Believe it or not there are people who get to grad school and have never held down a regular job, and trust me folks it isn't pretty. My mom always said that she would buy whatever car I wanted if I just worked one summer picking strawberries. I took one look, and thought how hot it must be and back breaking the work, and said nahh...I'll take the Corolla. But at least I didn't complain when I was at work in the nice air-conditioned city library.

It's starting to get to that time of year when the number of parties exceed the number of hours in a day I have to sleep, eat, and blog. I apologize in advance if my postings aren't as frequent.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mobsters need to school Politicians

The latest in a series of arrests is Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, who was taken into custody and charged with corruption along with his chief of staff. The political genius apparently didn't lean from the previous Illinois Governor who was charged with racketeering. This is just one in a string of recent convictions topped by former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. All of these guys need some ethic training, or at the very least should invest in netflixing (is that a word?) the Sopranos. Tony Soprano would never make the mistake of using a phone to make illegal deals, especially when the heat is on. That's the best part of this story, Blagojevich knew he had been under investigation for quite sometime and he still had the nerve (stupidity?) to try and make himself a sweet deal in exchange for Obama's Senate seat. Hmm...maybe the Sopranos should've relocated from New Jersey to Illinois, I'm sure the Governor would have been willing to appoint anyone for the right price, even a suspected mobster!

At the same time, another sketchy politician finds himself out of a job. William Jefferson, the U.S. Representative from Louisiana, lost to Joe Cao, a Republican newcomer and Vietnamese immigrant. Representative-elect Cao will be the first Vietnamese member in Congress after taking down Jefferson, who was recently found to have $90,000 in unaccounted cash in his freezer. I like Cao's resume, as he was a Jesuit seminarian (the smartest of the Catholics) and only recently switched to the GOP after being registered as a independent. I think he's just what the doctor ordered for scandal ridden, hurricane beaten New Orleans. Here's to hoping!

Friday, December 5, 2008

December 5th- a day to celebrate!

Happy Repeal Day! 75 years ago today the 21st amendment was ratified by the necessary 36 states (actually 38 said yes) to end nationwide prohibition. Although, some states kept up their dry status (like Kansas where you couldn't buy a drink at a bar until 1986) it was no longer a federal offense. I am very proud to live in a State/County with a very liberal alcohol sale policy. Although sales end at 2:00 am, I can purchase my booze of choice at the local CVS, Target (beer/wine only), and most importantly COSTCO! Not all Americans share this lucky status, for example when I lived in Virginia I had to purchase all hard alcohol at a Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control store, it was a very weird experience. Plus, in D.C. liquor stores that sell hard alcohol close on Sunday (hello ever heard of separation of church and state?).
In celebration, I will be toasting to the Constitution and the end of bootlegging, although I admit it must have been cool to go to a real speakeasy.

Also in the news is the original Juice, O.J. Simpson who was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison. He was actually found guilty on October 13th, 13 years to the date that he was found not-guilty in the murder trial of his wife and her friend. I guess the saying what goes around comes around really is true. He should have known better not to do anything crazy, now that his trusty lawyer Johnnie Cochran (may he RIP) is not around to defend him.

And this Saturday marks two awesome sporting events and rivalries. At noon you have the UCLA Bruins vs. the USC Trojans in what some are predicting will be a bloodbath. Although I believe in "Fight On!" I was also there in 2006, when the Trojans lost hard mainly because they let the Bruins win. I suggest avoiding Old Town Pasadena unless you enjoy risky behavior such as stabbings, shootings and bar fights. Then at 6pm the fight is on between DeLaHoya and Pacquiao or as some are bidding it Mexico vs. the Philippines. Again a word to the wise, avoid crowded bars in Whittier/Cerritos as there are bound to be some brawls. Boxing matches hold a distinct place in the memory of my childhood, as being the most fun events (other than the SuperBowl), but now with the disappearance of black boxes, my next question is who's paying the $64 to watch it?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'll have a Caucasian

Many of you may know that this request is not in reference to a person of European descent, but is a nickname for the Dude's favorite drink a White Russian. As to who is the Dude, well he's only one of the coolest semi-fictitious individuals of all times and the lead character in one of my all-time favorite movies the Big Lebowski.

He drinks White Russians throughout the whole movie and just today more than 10 years after the movie was released the drink has made a comeback according to an article in the NYTimes. It also mentions these Big Lebowski meetups that seem similar to Star Trek conventions, except with less nerds and more bowlers.

There are too many gems of wisdom to be gleaned from this movie but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Chinaman is not the proper nomenclature, its Asian-American.
2. You do not answer a phone on shabbos, do not work, get in a car and for sure do not roll on Shomar shobbas!
3. Being a nihilist, that must be exhausting.
4. You're out of your element, the world does not start and stop with you.
5. I can get you a toe by three o'clock with nail polish, amateurs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New Format

I was thinking that maybe I should try and start a new format for blogging rather than the long, narrative format in paragraphs. So here we go, and please feel free to chime in with your comments/opinions.

For those of you who are avid listeners of Kevin & Bean on KROQ, what are your thoughts about the new format, with it ending an hour earlier and having a separate hour at 5pm? I personally hate it, because I enjoy getting to work and having K&B on until 10am, plus I'm not in the car at 5pm, so I often miss their afternoon session. I think this is a cheap ploy for KROQ to increase the number of afternoon listeners. I suggest they just get a better on-air personality than Jed the Fish and problem will be solved.

I recently took 1 1/2 hours out of my life to watch Redemption the 24 special. Was it me or was it horribly written? I could literally guess what was going to be said next. I had also hoped that Jack's do-gooder friend in Sengala would join him on a mission of sorts so we could have 2 Jack Bauers, but unfortunately they decided to kill him off. Finally, the special lacked any CTU info which is the best part of the entire show. I hope Fox gets its act together prior to January, especially after making me wait a whole another year (due to Kiefer's DUI and the writer's strike).

Tonight my all-time favorite Christmas movie will be on, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Although both the Abominable Snowman and the land of toy misfits scared me, I think I seriously gained much of my love for dentists from this movie.

The only movie I loved more was Alice in Wonderland live action film from 1985 that included such famous stars as Carol Channing, Linda Ronstadt, and Sammy Davis Jr. Not anyone a 4 year old should recognize, but that's how only children are. Check it out below:

Sorry for subjecting you to my two favorite movies that are both kind of scary, but at least I didn't love Willow like my bearded friend!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Touchy Subject

It's rare that I read an article and feel even more perplexed than before I read it. This typically happens when the answer as to what is right or wrong does not immediately pop out, such as in this article published in the NY Times magazine called "Her Body, My Baby". After reading this woman's trials and tribulations in becoming a mother through a surrogate, I couldn't decide how I felt about the situation. Maybe it is not necessary for me to feel any one way, since it doesn't have to do with me, but I encourage others to read it and see how they feel. I especially recommend perusing the over 400 comments, that can be very harsh if you want a dose of what other opinionated folks think out there. At the very least, check out the pictures attached to the article, in which the surrogate mother is pictured very pregnant a week before giving birth on a porch with no shoes and her dog, contrasted with the author holding her child with a nurse maid standing behind her, arms behind her back. I thought it was particularly interesting that it was the surrogate's 2nd pregnancy for another couple and that her own daughter had donated eggs to pay for college, so the level of normalcy and acceptance was unusual. I published a previous post about the decision of motherhood that faces the majority of women, and my apprehension regarding the subject. I guess it's just one of those things that you never know how you'll feel until it is actually happening. That's all for now, folks, I promise to find a more juicy news piece for tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

They're here!

The holidays and U.S. recession have both officially arrived. Both of these should come as no surprise seeing as Christmas decorations have been up at Macy’s since Halloween and the Dow looks like some scary roller coaster design from Six Flags. Believe it or not, I’m starting to feel like I’m ready for both of these events, but for different reasons.

The holidays are only as stressful as you allow them to be. I know that visiting the family can be trying at times, but remember this is the time when you get the 411 on all the juicy family gossip and are fed for free at the same. I’ve already managed to turn this past long weekend into money saved on groceries and time saved on cooking by making sure to eat at least 3 meals with the family. The majority of stress usually comes from having to decide what to buy everyone. Problem is inherently solved after a few clicks on Amazon, Overstock or Target. Just enter that person’s favorite movie, music, book, food, etc. and there will be matches galore. Plus, most of these sites are offering free shipping which will save you the headache of the mall. Next, instead of spending a lot of time and money decorating I suggest just picking one thing you want to put up whether it be the tree or the wreath or the lights or a poinsettia, all you really need is one of those to look festive. Finally, don’t forget to splurge on yourself and take the time you need to be in a good mood come the big day, because who wants to end 2008 tired and bitter? Remember after Christmas you have less than one week to start thinking about next year’s resolutions.

As for the recession, my generation has little to worry about, especially if you are currently employed. The recession will have little long term effect on our 401Ks and IRA accounts, plus it puts us in a unique position to be making decent returns when the upturn begins. Invest in solid companies now, and avoid loans/credit cards like the plague (with the exception of educational loans). The time to buy some real estate is almost upon us, so SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!

2008 is a year plagued by bad news from the economy to the world, with 2009 on the horizon it feels like we’ll need to trade in our fear for a good dose of hope and trust in a silver lining. Until then, I will enjoy my 24 hour Christmas carol radio station as I sit in my office watching the sun set on another 77 degree California winter day.