Thursday, May 26, 2005

Overheard in the bathroom

Stall 1: "This toilet paper is a little rough."
Stall 2: "It's no worse than what I buy at Home Depot."

What? Who buys toilet paper at Home Depot? I didn't even know they sold toilet paper. I think he must be purchasing sandpaper in bulk. It would have to be that to be on par with the toilet paper here.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Could someone explain to me the appeal of Oprah Winfrey? She had a conference in Dallas this weekend, and I swear I've seen less excitement in Boston for World Series winners. World Series seats were probably cheaper too. The newspaper was reporting, as a good deal, tickets scalping for $750+. Ummm......what has this woman actually accomplished? She spouts meaningless platitudes on national television and people lap it up. THERE IS NO SUBSTANCE THERE! "The best is yet to come!" Stupid, worthless, self-esteem mumbo jumbo. Blech. I can't believe that a recommendation from her can make a product or book a mega-seller. I shudder at the fact that presidential candidates must kowtow to her in order to receive the "soccer mom" vote.

I could sort of understand comparing it to being fanatic about a sports team, but the difference is that one can cheer wildly for a great player while understanding that he may or may not make idiotic decisions off the field (although often even those come back to affect on-field play. See Terrel Owens), but with Oprah, her life is the story. What gives her the ability to offer advice on anything? She believes marriage is an archaic institution?! That just seems like something that would clash with the beliefs of most of her audience.

Follow-up article, thanks to Jason: The church of O

Summer's here :(

Just two Friday's ago we had a company picnic outside and the weather was great! We went out by a lake and had a great time. Today, we had an outside event for church, and it was incredibly hot. We've had several days in a row in the high 90's. What happened to the pleasant weather???? Summer's going to be terrible...

Friday, May 20, 2005

To the Gym!

I have been hitting the gym hardcore of late, thanks to having found a good workout partner at church. Unfortunately due to the nature of his job, we have to meet in the mornings in order to achieve any consistency. Thus, I actually have been regularly getting to the gym at 7 AM. Shocking, I know. We even met at 6:45 AM one time this week. The difficult thing is that I'm trying to lose fat at the same time, so I'm having a hard time knowing if the fact that my weight loss has been a little slower than I anticipated is due to me simultaneously putting on muscle or if I'm just making slow progress.

Here are some shirts I'm considering getting:

Friends don't let friends lift light

If the bar ain't bending...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

How much is a finger worth?

For those of you who participated in my earlier poll on finger removal, apparently the poll asked about far too much money! Worker gave his finger to settle $50 debt. Although we will note that A) this was just an inch and a half slice of finger, which I estimate is roughly a third of a finger, given that I don't have a ruler on hand to test that out. That would mean a whole finger would be worth $150. Let's say $200, tops, in case my estimation is off. B) That was the price for a finger piece that already happened to be detached, sort of a "used" finger piece if you will, so clearly that depreciates its value vs. a finger that is still whole and functioning. Not sure how to price that, but maybe I should rerun the poll at $10,000 instead of $10 million. Then we'd see if you finger-whores were still so eager to sell!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Movie theaters must die

Most of our close friends know that we are so cheap that, as movie prices rose to $9.25 each in Sacramento, our desire to go to the theater waned severely. In particular, since we had such a nice big screen TV, it really felt like a waste to even bother going to be herded in with the rest of the cattle (even though the Roseville theaters are very nice). Nevertheless, sometimes you want to just go out and see a movie at night or you don't want to wait for something to come out on DVD, so you still go to the theater. The last movie we watched in the theater in Roseville was Hitched. It was funny, but the most unbelievable part was when a girl walked in about two-thirds of the way through the movie and sat down in the empty seat next to mine. Having already missed most of the movie, she apparently felt she didn't need to pay close attention to the rest of it either, as she quickly pulled out her cell phone to make a call to a friend! Nor does she even whisper. The whole scenario was so unbelievable to me that I was stunned into bewildered silence. Fortunately, the lady behind us was not similarly hampered.
Irate lady: ARE YOU ON THE PHONE???
Cell phone girl: Yes
IL: We're WATCHING A MOVIE. Get off the phone!
At this point, CPG does take quick action. She switched to talking in Russian! Apparently this must prevent anyone who doesn't speak it from being able to hear her. IL went to get an usher, at which point CPG finally does hang up and is off the phone before IL returns with the usher, who threatens eviction if anything further happens.

All that was mere background for what happened last night at the Mckinney theater. Excited that tickets to this theater are only $4.50 (due to the fact that it is not stadium seating), we decided to check out the new Will Ferrell movie, Kicking and Screaming. We get there early and have our pick of seats, so we get decent ones toward the front in an aisle that only has a couple of other occupants. A little while later, half of Mckinney high school shows up for the movie as well. Nonetheless, the theater still has easily a quarter of its seats empty. Nearing preview time, a lone guy makes his way over 8 people to plop down in the middle of our row right next to me. Why would you sit right next to the biggest guy in the theater when there are plenty of empty seats available? Including the next one down from the one you did sit in? Whatever, I'm not too bothered at this point. Next, the previews start. Anytime text appears on the screen, the kid reads it out loud. When music is played, he hums along or sings if possible. When the actors say something funny, he either repeats it or responds to the characters as if they are a real person. "That's a funny one!", "Oh no he didn't!", etc. I am starting to slowly smolder. I'm praying this is some sort of practical joke and that he will cut this off when the previews start. God answers that prayer NO - the idiocy continues after the movie starts. About fifteen minutes in, I have decided that either I am on the TV show Boiling Point (where they do something irritating to a person, and if he can last up to a pre-determined amount of time without blowing his cool, they give him $1oo) or else this kid is mentally deficient. Seriously. At this point my rage is starting to reach inferno proportions. I'm picturing this headline, "Irate 270 pound weightlifter jailed for beating developmentally disabled high school student senseless", as a means to keep myself in check, when the kid turns to me and attempts to make introductions.
Idiot high school kid: "Hey, how's your day going? What's your name?"
Me, hissing in a voice full of rage: "Dude! We're watching a movie!"
Apparently Einstein clues into the fact that I am annoyed, so he tones it down a bit . Mind you, he is still annoying, but at least it is at a tolerable level. Nonetheless, I am still going to have to rewatch the movie once it comes out on DVD, as my enjoyment of it was majorly dampened. I looked at the guy afterwards, and I don't think there was anything wrong with him, other than being a complete jerk.

So, going to the movies is pretty much a waste of time and money at this point. Give me a big screen TV and surround sound any day!

Texas Signage

Billboard on highway 75:

time to fix the A/C

Bumper sticker on a van in Mckinney:

Guns kill people
the same way spoons
made Rosie O'Donnell fat

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Working hard

My office is 40 degrees below zero. Seriously. I'm going to catch pneumonia going outside in the summer. I have to actually wear a jacket in there! Oh well, better too cool than too hot.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sweet Relief

Well, we finally have a second car - a gold (aka "Desert Sand Mica") 2005 Camry. After 3 hours at the dealership, we came out with a pretty fair price, I think. We spent quite a while arguing over the last $150 dollars, so I knew we were close to their break-even point. In fact the end resolution was that we would pay the extra $150 and they would "rebate" $100 in a check later in the mail and give us two free oil changes, so that we came out with roughly $150 worth of stuff, but they got the sticker price above invoice. I just verified on Kelley Blue Book that the final $150 is what put it barely above their invoice cost, so effectively we got it below that.

They did manage to get us to upgrade to a leather interior, which I had not originally been planning on paying for, but it is very hard to find the side-impact airbags that my wife was so keen on without also having other option packages. So, the dealership had one with only the side airbags and leather, and I test drove that one and decided I really did like the leather more, so we went for that. The cool thing about this year of Camry is that a lot of things that used to be options are now considered standard - ABS, DRL, steering wheel controls for the audio (I love this feature), etc. So far, I like it a lot. Of all the sedans we test drove, it is by far the one I fit most comfortably into. It is so spacious! There's plenty of legroom in the backseat, and the trunk is huge as well. I could easily fit two or three dead bodies in there! I told that joke to someone yesterday, so I thought I would reuse it here. Anyway, I like it a lot so far. Decent power and yet still good gas mileage!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Toyota owners

While we are huge fans of Toyota cars, their owner's manuals definitely leave something lacking. In particular, the index is horrific for trying to find the info you want. Thus, some internet searching has brought me to Tundra Solutions. Its user forums have discussed just about everything related to any type of Toyota (not just Tundras). It's well worth the free registration. A few things are reserved for paying customers, but I've been able to resolve several questions there. First, when the oil is changed on newer Toyotas, the dealer/service place should reset the oil change warning light, which comes on after 4500 miles without a change. The dealer in CA didn't do this before we left, and I could not figure out how to get rid of the light, before I found the forum. I've also used it in our aforementioned battles with the tire inflation low warning light and some other miscellaneous things. Very useful site.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

11 pound burgers are for sissies!

Pa. Eatery Offers New 15-Pound Burger - Yahoo! News: "'It's a little too much for me to handle,' said Steve Hepburn, of Clearfield. 'It's like trying to eat half a cow.'"

Housing bubble blog

Well, I don't think I need to spend much more time dwelling on the housing bubble on this blog, as I've found a blog completely devoted to just that topic. They even have some articles from the Sac Bee. Check out the comments on some of these topics too. Some really interesting commentary where people share their bubble stories of ridiculous monetary thinking they've encountered. Often in California, surprise, surprise. And also some explanations of real estate valuations, etc. I especially agreed with the commenter on this post, that gave ways we could tell a valuation was out of whack. I've long thought that that the disparity between rents and housing valuations in California (particularly acute in Sacramento) just didn't make sense.

Texas still hates us

For the last week or two, the tire inflation low warning light has been on in our Highlander. I finally figured out how to reset it, but it has kept coming back on. I eventually deduced that this was due to our front tires being overfilled with air by the moving guy after he brought it out here on the truck. Apparently they mostly deflate the front tires while the car is inside the semi, which probably keeps it more stable. Then they refill them once the car is brought out of the truck. However, I think he filled up to the max fill rather than the normal fill level, which left the fronts at 45 psi out of whack with the back tires at about 32 or 33 psi.

That's all background for what happened next. We were originally planning to go down to Houston for Bdub's "housewarming" party on Saturday, but ended up not being able to go. As we are driving around on Saturday getting some errands done, I hear a loud thunk noise under the car in the back. I assume that we kicked up a stone or something into the bottom of the car until a few moments later when I hear the whump-whump-whump of a flat tire. At this point I'm thinking that this is somehow related to the tire inflation problem we had been having, that I hadn't really fixed it like I thought I did, and it was probably actually a good thing we hadn't been able to go to Houston after all (see how I'm still trying to think positively?). However, once we pull over into a parking lot in front of a strip mall, we can quickly ascertain that the problem was caused by driving through metal shrapnel. One back tire is completely deflated and the other one, while still currently driveable, has a giant piece of metal sticking out of the sidewall. Somehow the tire resealed around the metal piece. I quickly change out the deflated tire for the spare with the speed of a NASCAR pit crew.

Surreal moment: We are totally out by ourselves in the middle of a completely empty parking lot. I think at this point that I have removed the flat tire and am in the process of getting the spare on. A car approaches slowly. Inside I can see a family of four. They lower the window. I am expecting a generous offer to help in our obviously bad situation. Instead they ask "Do you know where Chucky Cheese is?" Why yes lady, I often change tires out in the middle of a huge empty lot as a surreptitious method to allow me to give directions to random people. Needless to say, I look a little nonplussed by the question, as it is so different than anything I expected. Nonetheless, I try to help by quickly scanning the horizon for Chucky Cheese. I don't see one. "Nope, I don't know where Chucky Cheese is." At this point they become aware of the awkwardness of the situation and ask if they can be of assistance. I cheerfully decline and they are on their way to paradise/Chucky Cheese.

After I get the deflated tire swapped out, it's time to find the nearest tire place, as we can't be sure how far we can drive on the other tire with the metal sticking out of it. The Indian guy at the gas station gives us completely unintelligible directions to "Goudier's" as I understand it, which I've never heard of, but we haven't lived here that long either, so that doesn't bother me. I do make sure that all we need to do is continue down the street we're on for about a mile. We are driving for a while when we spot a Goodyear and decide to stop there, since that is something we've heard of and who knows how far this Goudier place actually is. Only later do I realize he probably was actually directing us to Goodyear. HA HA. Unfortunately I wasn't really in a humorous mood at the time. After another hour+ amusing ourselves by perusing the magazine section at Walgreen's (the closest store we could walk to), we return to find that neither the deflated tire nor the sidewall-punctured tire can be repaired, so we have to buy two new ones. Don't mess with Texas, indeed.