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Tuesday, January 25, 2005I love Honda!
So to start the year out right the transmission in my 98 Honda went out on December 31st. It only has a 100,000 or so miles on it and is typically kept up very well by me. I took it into the Honda Dealership for an estimate, as I do everytime I have problems with it, and they called me and told me it would be $4300. Soon after, I awoke on the floor with quite a nasty bruise and asked the guy again, to make sure I heard him right. Well, I called around and found that I could get it done for about half that anywhere that wasn't a dealership. So I was about to take it in to an Aamco (double A, [honk honk]MCO) to get it done there when I was told that sometimes Honda will assist you or pay for it if you can prove that you've done all the required service on it and are a good customer. So I called into the main Honda line and they gave me a case number and told me someone would be contacting me shortly. Well, in the meantime I was talking with co-workers and one mentioned, "Don't take it to Aamco" as she had, had problems with them in the past. I also rented a car during that time and while chatting with the Enterprise rep (who's office was right across the street from AAMCO) was told that they had heard of numerous people who had had problems with that particular branch of AAMCO. So, short story long, I'm glad I didn't take it there.
Well, I called Honda after about a week and found out that my Case Worker was out on disablity and new one had been assigned to help me out. I left him a message and awaited his call. After a few days I called again. The next morning Brian called me (he had been out the previous day with tooth problems) and left a message requesting some info from me. I called him right back and left another message. Finally, after a total of 3 and 1/2 weeks I was able to actually speak with Brian and explained to him my history of Honda ownership as well as my proclivity for getting them serviced at a Dealership. Well, short story even longer I got a call back today saying that Honda would pay for the entire transmission replacement. Floor, nasty bruise, but this time a cartwheel as well.
Moral of the story... hell I don't know, buy Honda! Or maybe that persistance and pestering customer service reps really does pay off. Yeah, that'll work. Just felt the need to share. Everyone have a great week.
"I'm sorry was that a 4, a 3, and two zero's?"
_Me after being shocked by repair estimate
Friday, January 21, 2005A fond look back at the days of yore!
Remember back when the two things to avoid in polite conversation were Religion and Politics? I find it somewhat amusing* (*well, amusing in a "wanna pull my hair out and beat on my scalp with my shoe" type of way) that they are now almost the same thing. When was the last time you had a good political discussion with someone about economics, free trade, or the socio-economic patterns of the indigineous peoples of Mauritas (ok I just threw some words together on that last one) without the topic of religion coming up. I remember the days when one could be proud to be a Republican without being branded one of the Religious Right. When no matter your beliefs about morality, it was your beliefs about Kyoto Treaty that mattered. A couple of things spurred my current soap box topic that I would like to bring to your attention.
First, do you know who Michael Powell is? If you're like most of America (including me up until 5 minutes ago)you know him as Chairman of the FCC, the man that made derogatory statements about the Desperate Housewives-Monday night football deabacle. The man who has put the fear of God into Fox television. You've probably heard a lot about him in the news everytime there's a slight bit of skin on the tele, animated or otherwise. But to my surprise I found out that the FCC does more than keep nipples out of my view. I read an article in the WSJ found HERE about the things he's done to encourage growth in the Telecom industry. Maybe this was only interesting to me as that is the industry in which I work. But I was just amazed to find an smart educated article about something other boobies and the FCC. Its a shame that people don't care about the things being done to improve the economy, build jobs and grow the country, they only care about a little ass on TV. For good or for bad, Michael Powell has actually worked at creating opportunities for businesses to grow. Why don't we ever hear about this in main stream media? Because honestly, who really reads the WSJ, there's no pictures.
Now, I'm not blaming the media here, they have ratings to worry about so if they have a boring article on FCC regulations in the Telecom industry and FoxNews has an article on, oh I don't know, say a Republican kitten who saved a Democrat family of 8 money on their car insurance, then somebody's gonna lose advertising money. Maybe its our fault for wanting more people to get out and vote. So we've had to dumb down politics to religous issues to get people to understand what's going on. The vast majority of Americans think that GDP stands for the Republican Party, and that the trade gap is the distance from Taiwan to California. I'm not saying that the majority of American's are unable to understand the basics of politics, they are, I'm saying they don't give a flying rats ass.
I just don't understand why politics has been simplified into Republican = Religious Freak, and Democrat = Atheist Hell burners. I think that's the greatest thing the Republican party has acheived, is that it has latched itself onto one of the largest contingents of American's as their only hope of Salvation. There are some I'm sure who have "W's" picture up on the wall right next to Jesus'. I'm not knocking religious people, they are fully justified in their beliefs, and there are many smart, intelligent followers, I just don't understand how Bush and Christianity have become so thouroughly tied to together. And I don't understand how followers of a religion that teaches "love your neighbor" as one of its main tennants can justify a war with another nation. Because believe or not, this has become a Christian Nation. The lines between Church and State are streched thin. The last few strands keeping them apart are held in place by only a few old Supreme Court Judges who will probably retire during Bush's term.
I don't offer any solutions yet, I'm still searching. I only offer commentary on a few things I've noticed. Feel free to comment (comment, not attack). My thoughts have become jumbled,unclear, and non-sequitar, I need some time to reflect before I can move on to my second point...
...until then go watch this movie!
"For Wendy I'll be an Activist too, cause that's what Brian Boytano'd do!"
-Stan Marsh, South Park the Movie
Wednesday, January 12, 2005Meatloaf and Dr.Pepper
Remember somtime back in the 80's Meatloaf came out with a very cryptic song about how he would do anything for love, but he wouldn't do that. It has long been a mystery as to exactly what he wouldn't do. The music video provided no help in that area either. I don't recall it too clearly but I what I recall is him staggering around a gothic castle, possibly looking like Beast half the time (someone will have to refresh my memory on that). So the mystery still remained, what exactly wouldn't he do. All kinds of bizarre and kinky things flew through my mind, "What wouldn't he do?!?" I screamed from the rooftops. Then, in the late 90's a horrible horrible movie (which I swear I didn't see) came out called Spice W0rld. Well, Meatloaf played the role of their bus driver, and at one point they asked him to either clean the bus, or clean the "can" on the bus and he stated his oft quoted famous line of which this article is about. I thought to myself, finally the mystery is revealed, he won't clean busses for Spice Girls! But somehow that left me feeling hollow and empty inside. The answer didn't seem quite right to me. For years I've been adrift, no longer able to coherantly function in this world as the question rattled around in my head.
At last, Salvation has arrived in the form of television commercial. If you haven't seen it, it starts with a man bravely buying feminine hygiene products for his woman (while drinking a Dr. Pepper) then he is in the laundrymat with her and is courageously folding her frilly underwear (while drinking, perhaps the same, Dr. Pepper) Then he is doing Yoga with her (Dr. Pepper still present). All the while Meatloaf's classic is playing in the background. And then, just as the song is about to climax from it's slow part to its fast paced part, (i know you can see this coming) she reaches for his Dr. Pepper. Well, he's had it, he won't do that for love, and he takes off into the streets running from her (of course it seems that a simple "no" would've worked). Finally this song makes sense to me, it finally clicks in my head. Growing up, Dr. Pepper was the only soda my mom would drink, so any that were in the fridge were strictly off limits to us kids. I know all too well the sacricity of Dr. Pepper. So of course, Meatloaf will give her anything she wants, except his Dr. Pepper.
As a side note, launch.com has a 12 minute live version video of that song (not the MTV video unfortunately) that you can find here: http://launch.yahoo.com/ar-257232---Meat-Loaf
It will make you question once again why Meatloaf was ever famous at all.
"Oh, I would do anything for love, But I won't do that.."
Tuesday, January 11, 2005I'm getting tired of all my excuses...
I mean, I'm really getting fed up. When someone asks me what I really want to do, I always say that I want to be a writer. What no one ever asks me is, "Well, why aren't you?" I don't have to be published to be a writer, not one other person every has to read my works at all. I never said I wanted to be a successful writer, only a writer.
I always find good reasons why I can't, "because I already have a job" "I don't have anything good to write" "I'm not ready yet" but if I keep waiting I'll never start. There have been numerous times when I'll set goals for myself, then never follow through with. I even had a girlfriend once who like to write but was not a good self starter like me, and I tried to set us a deadline to have a short story done to trade with each other, so we'd both have an accountability partner to keep us writing, she out and out refused (I think she was scared mine would be better). But this is all neither her nor there and once again I am easily distracted!
I recently read an article on CNN.com about this author Ron McLarty who has been writing for atleast 40 years and has never had anything published until now. (Its a good article you can find it here
http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/books/01/11/books.ron.mclarty.ap/index.html ) [if someone can teach me how to do that "neat"er I would appreciate it] There is no reason I can't be that almost failed author!
There are 24 hours in a day, I sleep for 8 of them, work for 8 of them, that leave me atleast a good 5-6 hours where I could be writing a day, not to mention all the time I waste on weekends. I don't have to start out writing quality work right away, but I can atleast put some words on paper. Blogging helps, but its not really fiction now is it?
So that's it, from now on I am a writer. No more "I am a specialized care".... wah! No! I will write! Look out Vonnegut, King and Asimov (wait, he might be dead) I'm coming for you. This writer is ready to type.
"The longest journey begins with a single step!" I don't know who said that, but they were full of shit. The first step is always the easiest. Where you have to watch out is step number 562, right when you're starting to get tired, and home sounds so much more comfortable, or something else is sounding easier, and the destination is just not as important as it once seemed. I've taken many first steps and have stopped much before number 562. So I say the longest journey begins when night falls, your hungry and cold, and the wolves are out!
Monday, January 10, 2005Running to Stand Still
Over the holidays I made the long trek back to Texas to visit family for the holidays. Well, actually I flew, so it wasn't so bad. I had a great time, I got to see my new nephew for the first time and I got to see my niece who is always too "big for her britches." She has a pink room, a pony, a closet full of shoes, and penchant for cheap plastic jewelry. Some poor boy who is happily playing with his toys right now is in for some trouble some day!
I also got to hang out with my mom for a few days, which is always fun. We argue and fight sometimes, but that's just how we say "I love you!" Well, one day my mom and I are driving out to this very eclectic restaurant in Conroe, TX... wait, let me first set the scene properly...
I grew up in the Piney woods of east Texas in a little town called Conroe. I remember back when we barely had a Wal-Mart and Black-eyed Pea was the "fancy" restaurant in town. Well, over the years Wal-Mart matured into Super Wal-Mart, his brother Sam's showed up, brought his unruly friends Target, Best Buy, Lowe's, and they got drunk and kicked K-mart's ass out of town. There is a lake they are proud to call "Houston's playground," (well, that was always there, but the name is new) and imagine if you will a stretch of highway covered in car dealerships as far as the eye can see, and fancy restaurants, we've got a few now. Which is where this story really begins!
My mom and I decided to go to lunch at this restaurant called Westland Oil. It originally started out as an Oil company, run by an eccentric Chinese immigrant. By eccentric I mean his mother was a dame of Chiang Kai-shek, he came to Texas already wealthy, started an oil company, and proceeded to built a lavish office building in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by pagodas that were actually disguised ammo dumps. He surrounded the "office" with artillery and made employees eat every lunch in the company cafeteria. Only employees were allowed on the property, and I'm sure that was only after a security check that would make the FBI proud. Said crazy man has since left this building in saner hands and said cafeteria has now been turned into a fantastic restaurant with bar located conveniently near. I would tell you how the food was, but they are closed on Mondays so we had to settle with walking around the highly secure lobby area and viewing the pagodas from a far. My entire life I lived about 10 minutes away from a crazy man with guns, Texas' own little Howard Hughes. And for some reason I felt the need to get out in the world...
Of course the interesting part of the story was on the drive out to this place my mother, your average everyday mom, turns to me and says, "Oh, there's where we dropped that hooker off that time." She then turns to the sound of my jaw hitting the floor and asks, "Did I not tell you about the time I picked up that hooker?" After I woke back up she told me the whole story. All completely innocent once you hear it. My mom and one of her friends were out at a club and as they were leaving they noticed a man and a woman in a fight in the parking lot. The man gets upset, jumps in his car (actually it was probably a truck) and takes off. My mom and her friend are both having flashbacks of angry ex'es and decide to give this poor girl a ride home. On the ride it is discovered that the lady works at the school and they ask her what grade she teaches. She states "I'm no teacher I work in the cafeteria, and I'm a prostitute on the side!" Well, my mom is freaking out now, she's afraid they're gonna get pulled over and she's gonna get arrested for giving a poor whore a ride. Turn's out the lady lives with her son, who just got out of jail. Well, she is hastily dropped off at her "manufactured home" (I think it was only a single wide) and my mom and her friend high tailed it out of there.
Now my mom is very innocent in her ways. She can be very smart and witty, but I'm often amazed at how little she's knows about the wide world. This is the same woman who wanted to grab the seat next to the crazy stinking bum on the F-train when she came out to visit. Not that I have anything against crazy stinking bum's but this one was punching the air and cursing, and personally, I prefer a little distance. So maybe most people would've recognized up front that this was a lady of the oldest profession, they were giving a ride to, but my Mom just thought she was doing a good deed for another woman.
So I've gone out in the world to find interesting and exciting stories, only to find that some of the best are still back home! Oh Conroe, how you have grown! [solitary tear slides down cheek]
"And so she woke up, woke up from where she was, lying still, Said I gotta do something about where we're going." U2 Running to Stand Still, for some reason this story made me think of this song.