A running rant about bad television, crappy products, horrible service, mindless politics, corporate and government ineptitude, moronic media, marketing overload, public idiocy, stupid entertainment, etc. Here's what's annoying me today:


Contractors Suck

Our house is a money pit, and a magnet for bad contractors. We've owned it for about eight years. Put about as much money into it as we originally paid for it, and still aren't finished. We've hired at least two of the worst contractors in the Boston area, had to threaten to sue one in order to get enough money back to fix all the shit he fucked up. And now that we finally have gotten the fat fuck to give us some money back, we now have to find someone that we can trust to do the next phase of the job. Of course now we don't trust ANYONE.

The next phase involves reshingling the entire house. Over the last couple weeks, I've gotten quotes and time estimates from several contractors. One estimates that the job will take two weeks. Another estimates that the job will take three months. Now what am I supposed to do with that fucking information. Two weeks sounds like they will ship in a whole crew of illegal aliens, who will madly rip the house apart & throw up the shingles, about as good as the fuckhead who did them the first time. Three months seems to work out to about $100 per shingle.

This is the case with everything. After getting screwed so bad the last time, I research everything to death. Every builder who comes out, I ask more or less the same questions. Every one answers them differently. Every one tells me that the guy who told me something different doesn't know what he's talking about.

What's a poor homeowner to do, but learn how to do everything himself, so he doesn't have to live at the mercy of these assholes.

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What we've got here is failure to communicate

Cell phones suck. I friggin hate talking on them. For some reason lately, everyone has been calling me on the cellphone. And there just always seems to be a disconnect in the communications. There is like a time lag or something, that is just enough to screw up the timing of the conversation. I start to talk. But they had already started to talk. Then we both stop, because we think we are interrupting the other. Or worse, we both talk louder to try to take control of the conversation. Then there is a dead spot, and you miss a vital piece of information. It's just a friggin mess. Call me on the god damn land line next time.

4/19 UPDATE: Here's a technological explaination of what I'm talking about, and why people shout on cellphones.

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Stupid Warning Labels

I'm being a cranky Easter Bunny right now. I'm sitting here with a couple dozen Play-Doh easter eggs, and they are annoying in so many ways.

First, each one is tightly shrink-wrapped, so I have to sit here with a steak knife unwrapping each one. Why everything has to be sealed that thoroughly is beyond me. And nothing bugs me more than plastic wrapped in plastic.

Second, there is this little white sticker warning label on each one (of course it had to be printed in three languages, but don't get me started on that!) Didn't pay much attention at first, but then I read what it said: Notice to Parents: Contains Wheat.

Now the people who scolded me when I griped about peanut free schools will probably point out that there are kids with wheat allergies. But it's fucking Play-Doh! If little Junior decides to eat it, I'm sure there are a lot worse things in it than fucking wheat!

And by the way, we are using Play-Doh Easter eggs in the first place because my diabetic nephew will be here, and we are being correctly sensitive by not putting candy in them.

Now when I was a kid, the Easter Bunny only hid real eggs, but that's another issue.

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Yikes, my kid's a Yankee

It was bad enough when I accidentally bought my 5 year old son (that is NOT him in the picture) a Derek Jeter glove. Now I find out that his first T-Ball team is The Yankees. How can anybody in Greater Boston do that to a kid that is in training to be a lifelong Red Sox fan. If peanuts are banned in schools, shouldn't the name Yankees be banned from youth sports in Greater Boston as well? For psychological reasons.

I mean, I just had to explain to the kid why I had to take down his Johnny Damon poster. It's not like he was crushed or anything, but he has been to Fenway, he understands that we root for the Red Sox, and that we root against the Yankees.

He knows that electrical sockets, smoking, and The Yankees are all bad, so he is old enough to question why his team is called the Yankees, when the Yankees are bad. And he's not completely buying my explanation that only the New York Yankees are bad.

Apparently the coach is a Yankees fan, and actually requested that his team be the Yankees. The final game of the season is going to be The Yankees against The Red Sox, and I'm going to have to be out there yelling Go Yankees!. Now, I don't want to be one of those bad sports parents already, but this is just wrong.

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Stop coloring your email

I hate colored email. I'm not talking about HTML email from businesses (that is covered under spam). I'm talking about the kind from your Aunt Betty, who knows nothing about computers, and certainly nothing about graphic design, but still can figure out how to change the text of an email to green, and the background to some awful flower image. She can also choose the tackiest true type font (say Mistral) and put the whole letter in that for good measure.

Just stop it.

Emails should just be typed in one basic font. No crazy colors or fonts, or fucking italics. I know of no graphic designers who design the type in their emails. Get yourself a blog for your cat, and then you can use all the tacky fonts, ugly clip art, and silly background images you want and the other cat lovers will think they are great.

OK, now I've offended all cat people.

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My wife is wipe happy. Not being near as cynical as me, she pretty much falls for any new kind of product marketing scam that comes about. You must have noticed the proliferation of wipes. They are the outgrowth of the moist towelettes that you used to get after eating ribs or something. Now they are everywhere. Any product that you used to be able to buy in a spray bottle and then use with a cloth or paper towel, can now be purchased as a "wipe" Essentially they are presoaked paper towels.

The above photograph clearly demonstrates wipe madness. This is from a web site called PetSafe that sells pet products. They have 10 different types of pet-specific wipes including ear wipes, eye wipes, toothpaste wipes, muddy paws wipes, rabbit & small animal wipes, top and tail wipes etc. If you own an animal, I guess you must get them all, because it just wouldn't be right to wipe Fido's tail with the same product you are wiping his ears with. And you certainly wouldn't want to wipe his teeth with the same thing you wipe his eyes with. Yuk.

In my house it all started with baby wipes (Note that like Colgate, there are many different flavors). We went through thousands, and yes, they were pretty convenient. But now we have Windex wipes, Murphy's wipes. Pledge wipes, Lysol wipes, Clorox wipes, Stainless steel cleaning wipes, 409 wipes, Armor-All wipes, and probably 20 other kinds of wipes.

I'm not even sure why they suck. They are really very convenient, I guess. It's much easier to grab a Windex wipe than to grab the Windex and a roll of paper towels. The main reason they suck has to do with my natural suspicion that these companies are making a killing on them. A package of Windex wipes costs as much as a bottle of Windex, and although I haven't done any scientific research to prove this, I would bet a bundle that there is a hell of a lot less than a bottle of Windex used to make a package of Windex wipes. So where does all the money saved go? Right into the companies pockets, no doubt.

The other reason they suck, is that while the first couple out of the package work fine, by the time you get past halfway, they are always too dried out to work. So now you end up throwing out half of the already overpriced package. And I'd love to know exactly what the difference in ingredients is between doggie ear wipes, and doggie tail wipes. They are probably all just dipped in water, anyways.

Then we have something that is even more ridiculous, called Swiffer wipes. Essentially it is a package of throw-away dust clothes. Of course my wife snapped these up too, because its just so much easier to grab a nice soft static free cloth out of a box, than to go get a rag out of the basement when you need to dust. And then you can just throw it away when you are done.

More wipe madness today. I have to vent to you my dear readers, because the wife gets mad at me when I point of the ridiculousness of this shit to her.

So I'm cleaning off the patio furniture in time for Easter. Using the old-fashioned method: a sponge and a pail of soapy water. It's working perfectly fine. Until my wife comes home from the store. "Oh, hold on. Look what I got." Fuck no! A $5.00 can of Outdoor Patio Furniture Wipes. Another $5.00 for 1 ounce of some soapy liquid soaked into paper towels. Don't you know I just this week wrote a 500 word essay of why wipes suck! No thanks. I'll stick with the sponge.

Then tonight: "Can you help clean the appliances?" And out come the Stainless Steel Wipes. Of course they are too dried out to work, even though the package is still half full. But she just happened to have bought a new one when she bought the Patio Furniture Wipes. Another 5 bucks. So into the trash go the dried up, half full can, and out come the brand new package. Might as well use them liberally, because by the time we need them again, they will all be dried up anyways.

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Age of Misinformation

I have fits every time I try to research anything online. Do enough research and you'll find 10 different answers to whatever the question you have is. You'll end up more confused than when you started. We've been doing a lot of renovation work on our house recently. Nothing is more maddening. You can't get a definitive answer on anything. Who are all these bogus "experts" anyways.

Here are two simple remodeling questions I'm trying to get a definitive answer to online:

Can I use a solid stain over paint?

Answer 1a: Cabot tech support says I can use a solid stain over paint with no problem (no need to strip first) and they say the stain should last longer than the paint.

Answer 1b: If you cannot get all the paint off, sand off as much as practical and then apply two thin coats of A SOLID color latex stain. it can peel, but will resist pealing more than paint will.

Answer 2a: You can always stain or paint over a stain, but you can never stain over paint.

Answer 2b: You cannot stain over paint.

If we want to reside our house with cedar shingles, is it better to use red cedar or white cedar?

Answer 1: Red cedar is a much better product because it contains all vertical grains. The Easter white cedar has mixed grains and is more prone to cupping.

Answer 2: White Cedar is the best material to make shingles.

I really shouldn't pick on the internet, because the same thing can be said of live contractors. I've probably talked with at least ten different contractors, and I don't think I've gotten the same answer out of any of them. Someday I'll do a whole post on remodeling and contractors. Heck, with what we've been through the past two years, I could do a whole blog on contractors sucking. I just can't get started on it, because it makes me very ill.

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How 'bout a war on drug ads

How can a country that locks people up behind bars for smoking a weed, allow drug companies to peddle every conceivable type of pill for every real or imagined condition to everyone from preschoolers to alcoholics. These ads are everywhere. A dozen or so in just about every magazine you pick up. During every TV show. It's the equivalent of peddling drugs on the streetcorner.

Instead of relying on doctors to advise their patients on what might be an appropriate medication, the drug companies now go right to the consumers. So the same people that are deciding that they are taking their family to McDonald's for the third night this week, and buying Coke by the gallon because the ad on TV told them to, are now deciding that their kid has ADD, and they need to get him some Concerta.

Sure they have to get a doctor's prescription, but I doubt that's very tough once they have decided themselves what it is they need. Kids are driving me nuts. They must have ADD. Let's call the doc and get a prescription. Popping a pill into your kids these days is just like giving them a Flintstones vitamin.

And what is with these names for drugs. They are all these made-up feel-good, focus group-tested bullshit names: Lipitor, Concerta, Levitra, Paxil, Zoloft...

These ads are crap, and should be banned. Doctors, not marketers, should be educating their patients. For you Republicans big on the free market, consider that a good deal of this stuff is no doubt marketed to people on government assistance who watch Dr. Phil, so it is ultimately being paid for by you.

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Roll Over Ed Murrow

So Katie Couric is going to become anchor of the CBS Evening News. One more step toward the cellar for television news. Obviously CBS learned nothing from the Connie Chung debacle of a dozen years ago. Success as a ditzy early morning infotainment show host, doesn't translate to success as anchor of a network newscast. Not that the network newscast is what it used to be, but whatever form the "newscast" ultimately takes, Katie certainly is not the answer.

What is the audience for a 6:30 PM newscast anyways? If anybody is watching TV at that hour, it would seem to me to be more likely someone of Bob Schieffer's generation, than someone wanting to watch Katie Couric. I'm somewhat of a news junkie, and I can't remember the last time I've seen more than five minutes of a network newscast. I'm lucky if I can get settled by 8:00 in time to watch Olbermann.

If I watch any, it is generally NBC. Brian Williams is about as bland as Wonder Bread, yet still somehow fits in the anchor chair, and carries on the tradition of the network news about as good as is possible these days. The little I've seen of CBS since What's the Frequecy Kenneth left, it seemed that at least Schieffer was watchable, and carried some of the authority of what was once the most respected news business in the world. Why CBS didn't replace Rather with Schieffer a decade ago, I don't get. Rather was just friggin weird. And all I know about Elizabeth Vargas at ABC, is that her face bugs me too much to watch. She always looks pained.

Katie would be fine to go up against Diane Sawyer or Bawbwa Wawa on the prime time crime and celebrity watch shows like 48 hours and 20/20. Those shows have already given up the right to be called news shows. That's the league she's in. She may even be slightly more tolerable than either of Diane or Bawbwa. But CBS News? Any of these proposed reinventions of the news will surely fail, and further tarnish what little is left of the network's reputation as a news business.

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