My Consumer New Years Resolutions

I shop and eat out a lot. After years of complaining about consumer issues, I have decided to take a stand against them in January of 2006. Here they are:

  1. I will not be sending out any physical greeting cards, thanks to another postage increase taking place in January. Besides, I hate the post office.
  2. I will not go to Jiffy Lube, no matter how overdue I am.
  3. I will never, ever buy music CDs at Wal-Mart where they water down offensive song lyrics, regardless of what CD I am buying.
  4. I will stop the habit of buying bread every time I go in the grocery store, which I rarely end up eating anyway.
  5. I will not eat at Sbarro in the mall and pay their utterly outlandish prices. After paying $9.52 for two pieces of pizza and a drink the last time, I will never eat there again!
  6. I will not buy any more gel toothpaste, which makes me thirsty and mucks up my toothbrush with gunk you can’t rinse out.
  7. I will not buy any gum in a big multi-pack. I am tired of getting down to the last pack and when biting into a stick of gum, it shatters in your mouth, it is so dry and old.
  8. I will not be tempted by Booberry and Frankenberry cereals next Halloween when I go to the grocery store. I am tired of having rainbow colored crap the morning after.
  9. If I have to pay $5.50 for a sad excuse for a sub at Subway, I’m going to go ahead and spend $7 on a real one at Jersey Mikes. Those pathetic little triangles they try to pass of as cheese at Subway are ridiculous. What you get for your money is ridiculous, too.
  10. I will no longer be eating at Wendy’s, which I have decided once and for all, is gross. Half of the time, the food is not only bad, but terrible.

Do Not Read?

I suppose you could call me a modest fan of the written word. After all, I am writing this. In fact, I enjoy writing. Believe it or not, I like reading too.

Let me clarify that last sentence. I like reading emails, the newspaper and magazine articles. You know, things that are short and have an ending that I can see with my own eyes on the same piece of paper. What I do not particularly enjoy is reading books. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I have probably read no more than a dozen or so novels in my entire lifetime. I have read one or two really good books out of those dozen.

I think reading books is a waste of time. For some reason, the appearance or perception of someone reading a book is more positive than someone who watching TV. I don’t know why. There are probably just as many stupid books as there are stupid movies. Someone reading a romance novel is wasting more of their time than someone watching a movie like Braveheart, in my opinion.

Reading takes too long, too. With a movie, I can get a rich experience in less than two hours. That is what I am talking about. It takes me weeks to read a book. I read very slowly and after two pages, my mind starts drifting to what is going on around me. If that isn’t the case, then I find myself eventually slipping into following the words and turning pages, only to be really be thinking about what I am going to do the next day. While holding the book, my life is ticking away and I am following words on a page at a snail’s pace. Boring!

I am not trying to promote movies, I just demoting books. It is a matter of time spent. Personally, I like to be doing five things at once. I can play a computer game, hear a new CD, and watch a TV show all at the same time. When I curl up with a book, I feel lonely and isolated. I have too much to do and too many ideas of my own to sit still day after day, reading a book that drags on for what seems like forever. Condense it all into a short story, and I might be interested.

Just think about how much of your life you spend reading books and try to remember what happens in any of them. I bet you can’t. So why bother. I’ll wait for the movie.

Black Boxes? Get Real!

There are few moments in life that are as important as the day when a teenager gets their ticket to freedom—their driver’s license. That is the milestone that every kid looks to when they are young. We all remember when that day came. We had a fresh grip on the wheel and the cool breeze in our hair. Cruising the town. It was a ticket to loud music and driving anywhere you please.

It’s too bad that the appalling “safety first” mentality of today’s adults has already stripped away every ounce of joy that comes with being a kid. Now they have taken aim at the right to drive. I think driving is a right and not a privilege, despite what most people will tell you. Unless there is sufficient public mass transit where you live, you have no choice put to own a car. And you have a right to be mobile.

Today, laws restricting youth driving are ever-growing in number with each passing year, varying by state. Laws that restrict the time of day that inexperienced drivers are allowed to be on the road, a limit on the mere number of passengers they can have in their car with them, school requirements on maintaining your license and a threat to raise driving ages all undermine this magical transition into early adulthood.

Let me be clear that even though some teenagers may act childish, a sixteen-year-old person is not a child. I think that every teenager who is sixteen years of age should be able to drive a car without any restrictions imposed on their freedom. Though, I don’t think anyone should be given a brand new car at their sweet sixteen party, as too often seems to be the case with some of these brats.

The topic which made me want to toss my opinion into the ring is that of the modern “black boxes” that parents can now purchase for their son’s or daughter’s car. A line has been crossed, and the obsession over safety has finally gone way too far. I think these units are asinine to say the least.

This machine is connected to the car and is supposed to serve two purposes. 1) Some omit a squeal or rattle when the car is being driven too fast. 2) It records all of the driving data so that nosey, untrusting parents can then dissect all of the details of their child’s driving habits using their home computer. Some boxes are even fitted with GPS tracking devices that tell them when and where the car was driven at all times!

I think this is complete madness. If you don’t trust your son our daughter with a car, then give them one. This is Big Brother at its worst. What is next? Recording all of the conversation in the car at all times too? Where does it end? Are insurance companies going to someday require drivers to outfit their cars with these intrusive machines? I believe that everyone has a right to privacy, including teenagers. Sometimes, it is downright necessary to go 90 miles an hour if you have to pass someone on the interstate. So what. Everybody has done it and most continue to.

I hope there isn’t a big market for these silly gadgets. My fear is that there is. I wish this would all stop before it even gets started. It’s bad enough that traffic today is so congested and gas prices are soaring. Now there are cameras at stoplights that take your picture as you pass through the stoplight that you didn’t beat to red. Take a giant helping of that and a side order of 24-hour in-car monitoring. It is a depressing day to be young and not so free.

Letter to the Editor: School Budget Solution

Below is a letter I mailed to the editor of my local newspaper today:

I opened the paper today and was blasted with sticker shock at staggering amount of money that the Wake County school system claims it wants in the next ten years in order to overcome overcrowding and budget problems. 5 billion dollars? Has someone lost their mind? It is absurd that property taxes and fees will skyrocket to pay for this.

Thankfully, I have already come up with a two-part solution to the school system’s budget and overcrowding. It is important to note that my solution does not add any additional taxes to households that do not have children, such as my own. I do not believe I should have to pay for any of these extra costs and fees, since I do not have kids and have zero intentions of having any in the future. It simply is not my problem. Overcrowding and overpopulation are here to stay, forever. What about ten years from now? The school system is going to be back begging the public for money through ballot initiatives and bonds, after their five billion is gone and spent.

My statewide solution: Effective in 2006, every parent in the state of NC with a child 17 years or younger should have to pay an additional tax every year to the state in the amount of $700 PER CHILD. Where are they going to get this $700? They are going to get it from the $700 federal tax credit that Washington hands down in tax deductions every year. That money should be taken away and put to the local school coffers. This may serve as a small reminder that the more kids you churn out, the more the tax man is going to be coming to collect. Again, adults who do not have children, or whose children are over 18 do not have to pay this tax.

If that isn’t enough money to keep operations growing, then allow me to present the second part of my budget solution. Immediately put a halt to all out of town sports games for public schools statewide. Also slash, or eliminate, the budget for sports uniforms, trips, dinners, awards, ceremonies, practices, etc. Get those meat heads out selling cookies and washing cars like the poor kids in the band and drama department have to. How much does transporting sports teams around the state cost every year, dare I even ask?! Kids should not be taught in trailers when the athletics department is running away with this much funding.

If that still isn’t enough, the system will get a few dollars out of me when I buy a lottery ticket next year.

Weathering the Weather

Have you ever noticed how obsessed the general public is with the weather and the forecast? They are. It is the hottest topic in life and the de facto fallback in any slow conversation. It is all people at my work talk about, and that’s every day. “The weather man said it might rain on Friday,” one says, on a Tuesday morning. What difference does it make! It will not affect our existence in any way! The only time I personally look up the weather forecast is if there is imminent snow or an approaching hurricane, neither of which hardly ever happen. Other than those two events, I could not care less.

I am very aware that there are lot of people who work outdoors, and the weather affects them greatly. But for the general mass population, it does not matter at all. It certainly shouldn’t matter to the people I work with, since we work inside. Yet my co-workers talk about the weather forecast and the temperature constantly. I want to ask: Who really cares? The only time I’ll find myself outdoors is when I am walking the few feet between my car and the building. Other than those brief moments, I have little to no contact with nature.

Almost daily, when I come back from lunch at work, someone will ask, “How’s the weather outside?”. Here’s an idea, look out the window and take a guess. Let’s see, it is December, so it must be cold. And no matter how cold or hot it is, who cares! I am not living in the jungle or something where it will matter. My car has a few useful inventions on it: wipers, a/c, and a heater. So don’t tell me it is too cold or too wet to bother going out for lunch, or leaving the house.

Shouldn’t everybody get over this cultural obsession with the weather? It is getting so old. Everybody has seen rain their entire lives. Yet they all continue to talk about it every day like it is something new. Equally as annoying is when we hear a loud and sudden crash of thunder when I’m at work. I hear gasps and oohs and ahhs all over the room. Get over it. It happens. Nobody is going to be harmed. Folks, none of this is new. It has always been, and will always be around forever.

Letter to the Editor: Clayton Starbucks

A letter I wrote to the editor of my local newspaper:

Dear N&O: The article in Wednesday’s paper called “Starbucks Buzz Baffles Clayton” was a complete waste of space.

Peggy Lim, the author, needs to go find work elsewhere, or at least go find someone to interview who lives on the planet Earth.

“People here have never heard of Starbucks,” says an ignorant geezer, on this third trip to Bojangles. Where do you find these people? This old man does not represent the majority of the population. The article itself even said that the Great Wall of China has it’s own Starbucks! Yet people in Clayton are clueless? The fact that the persons sought for interview about this were 3-time-a-day visitors to the Bojangles is absolutely pathetic. This kind of reporting lends itself to the widely held belief that reporters deliberately find the trashiest rednecks to interview after disasters, such as a tornado. It is almost as though Peggy Lim took the job of writing this article as a joke. Some of us are tired of drinking so-called coffee from Dunkin Donuts and Bojangles, which is probably just dirty water with a brown crayon stirred in it.

Tell 63-year-old Harold Parrish, the interviewee, to pull his head out of his enlarged-prostate-ridden ass.

Tired Cows at Chick-fil-A

It is my understanding that Chick-fil-A fast food restaurants are not nationwide in the US. I have always had one where I’ve lived and if you don’t know what I am talking about, then never mind.

I’m writing to be the first one to say that they need to move on from the cow ad campaign that they have been running for the past several years. Sure, it was cute when it first came out. When I first drove down the road and saw a billboard with a cow standing on it painting the words “Eat Moor Chickin”, I was amused. But they have run it into the ground with their yearly calendars that come out at the holiday season. There is a cow for every month. Of late, they have gone over the top with some of these. Chick-fil-A needs to do something else and quit trying to sell people calendars of cows year after year that they don’t stock enough of anyway. Personally, I’m ready for a change.

I remember when Taco Bell stopped running their Chihuahua campaign. I was disappointed at the time and didn’t understand why the moved on to the “Think Outside the Bun” slogan. But looking back, they did the right thing. I can see that now. They ended it before the amusement was worn to the down the nub. Likewise for Geico, who pretty much quit featuring the little gecko and went with the totally off the wall thing they do now.

My Hate List

Hopefully, you have already read my Hate List. My new blog is meant to supplement my hate list, by allowing me vent in long passages about thoughts on my mind. While I have always loved my hate list, I have always been limited by the fact that it is for items that I actually hate on it, and not just random gibberish. I have always resisted adding entries to the hate list that I didn’t really hate. Many times, friends have told me, “Here is something for your hate list…” No matter how funny it may be, if I don’t actually hate it, I don’t want it on there. Put it on your own hate list.

First Opinion Post

This being my first opinion post, let me introduce it. I am very opinionated most times. When I read the paper or news articles, I often feel an urgent need to write the its author and give them a piece of my mind, be it good or bad. Sometimes this is constructive writing, but often times, I do it to complain about something. I enjoy complaining, what can I say.

So I have now started a blog for this purpose; to write about stuff that is on my mind. I have a few ideas in my mind from the get-go. I’ll start out mild and save bigger issues for another day. I am going to try to steer clear of too many political attacks on here. I’ll try to keep that under control. I want this to be fun and lighthearted.

Hello World!

Welcome to my new blog! I just installed WordPress, which is a cool open-source blogging program that uses PHP server technology. So far I am impressed, but I am pretty new at this. This is my first test post. Ta-da! I plan to be the only user and poster to this blog. At this time, I have no plans to allow any users to register themselves and make their own posts and comments to my posts.