Friday, May 30, 2008

7-Foot Optimus Prime

Anyone have an old clunker car sitting around that no longer runs? Need something to do with it because your HOA things that cars up on blocks in the front yard is not advisable? I ran across the article below where someone contrusted a 7 ft tall Optimus Prime from old car parts. I think he has too much time on his hands.

Update on Time

It appears as if everyone who commented agrees that to push something back would be to make it later in the day, and to move it up would make it earlier. Which means....Phil was right. But I prefer sleeping on the bed over the couch, so we will leave it at that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

P.S. Pass the Prozac

I thought that this movie would be about a woman dealing with the death of her husband & rediscovering herself. The previews made me think that it was full of laughs & good times. Hilary Swank has done it again (remember Million Dollar Baby?). I should have bought stock in Kleenex before watching this one. There was hardly any funny scenes & they were immediately followed by depressing scenes. At the end, which at some points felt like it was NEVER going to end, I just felt frozen in the sadness of it all. Rating = 3. Only because the idea of the movie w/ the letters is creative & not something I've seen before. Luckily we got this from Redbox & only paid $1.06 but I still feel like I had my evening stolen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unprepared and safe flying

Unprepared and safe flying

I've been flying a lot lately for work and have a couple observations.

First of all, they are now charging you to check more than one bag.  I don't have a problem with this except that a) they are not prepared to implement it and b) the way its being implemented doesn't make sense. 
If you are going to charge me, fine, charge me.  But to be honest, it was a very cumbersome process and the ticket counter attendant tried to talk me out of it.  She had to go to the back to get forms (not sure why they aren't stored at the counter) and then they don't have credit card machines.  At two airports now this is the case.  That was the first time I've seen someone whip out that slide imprint device in years.  Its seriously a manual process and not a automatic swipe machine.  Every store and restaraunt in America has these now and they can't get 4-5 for each airport?  Its not like a deployment that large hasn't been done before. 
What's more is that you can avoid the charge by carrying the bag on and gate checking it.  Only difference is that you have to carry the bag through the airport instead of them.  I mean, don't they know its all going in the same plane?  Its the same weight, just changes how it gets to the plane and they are taking some there anyway, right?  Plus, now I gotta carry all my crap through security and lug it around the airport for an hour?  Crazy.

My second point is that people keep telling me to "have a safe flight."  I got news for them, I don't have much control over it.  I'm just sitting there.  Really.  I understand 'drive safe', etc. I'm an active part of that process.  But there just isn't much I can do on the plane to safen my flight at all.  Or, is that my free ticket to drug the screaming kid next to me?  After all, he could be distracting the pilot or pushing the otherwise normal people on board dangerously closing to the insanity tipping point.  None of us want that.  Is that my excuse to need more than 3.5 ounces of shampoo?  What if there is a hair emergency on the plane?  That wouldn't be safe for anyone.  I guess that means I can't punch out annoying business guy or talking too loud asian guy if I'm "flying safe.".  Maybe I'm supposed to remind the pilot?  Its just people trying to be polite, I know, but they could say something that makes a little more sense.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Trouble with Time

The Trouble with Time

Maybe all you faithful readers out there can help Jeni and I out by settling an argument we've been having over the last couple moments.  It has to do with the concept of time.  For the sake of an example, let's say you have a 1:00 pm appointment.  You would like to change this appointment.  If you "move it up" 30 minutes, what time is the appointment?  What if you "push it back" 30 minutes?  We both use "push it back" and "move it up" in opposite ways.  I won't tell you which one thinks which way, just that I'm confident my way is the right way.  Please leave a comment about which way you see it and help us settle this once and for all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Book Review and Historic First

This weekend, I did something I've never done before.  And a feat I might not repeat for years or possibly even decades from now.  Any guesses as to what it is?  Scaled a mountain?  Ate a vegetable?  Made an impulse decision?  No, I'm still not that crazy.  I started and completed reading a book.  That's right, normally I make it through a book every 6-8 months.  About 1 a year.  I just don't make time for it.  I don't have a strong desire to make time for it.  Not only did I read an entire book in a weekend, I bought the thing on Friday morning and was done by late Sunday night.  (To my advantage, I was awake over 20 hours on Friday and got up early Saturday, more on that later).  I've heard of people doing this before, even heard of people who may complete several books over a vacation, I just never thought it could happen to me.

Which brings me to:  the review.
The book was Rigged: The true life story of an Ivy league kid who changed the world of oil from Wall Street to Dubai, by Ben Mezrich.  Obviously, since even a typical "I'll watch the movie" guy like myself couldn't put it down, it must be pretty good.  At times, the business part of the oil exchange and how oil is traded as a future at the NYMEX got thick, but not overly complicated.  Some of the depictions of Dubai were also a little hard to imagine as if it were anything half as much as described would be nothing short of spectacular.  And the language was pretty bad, particularly the first couple chapters.
But overall, I liked the book and would recommend it.  Ben does a good job at building suspense right as the chapter closes and keeps the story moving as the project progresses, not giving too much detail or too little.  I've read some reviews where people thought the story itself was uninteresting.  So, if the story of a young Harvard Business School grad changing the way oil futures are traded by trying to open an exchange in Dubai doesn't catch your attention, the book may not be for you.  I like that kind of thing though.  And it was good enough to keep even me reading right through the afterword.
If nothing else, google Dubai and check out it out.  Sounds out of this world. 

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Derby Day!

What an event.  Hours and hours of build up for the big event.  Its one of those things though where you either like it or you don't.  And I love it.  Costas' intro always gives me chills.  One of these years I'm going to be there.  Soon I hope.

This year, my moneys on the favorite Big Brown. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grad School

I've officially been accepting to Clemson's Executive MBA program and will be starting back to school May 19th. Two nights a week at 3.5 hours a night. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to be disconnected for 7 hours a week. By the end, I just hope I'm not having convulsions. My two classes this summer should be pretty easy to get things started. "Statistical Analysis for Business Operations" and "Organizational Behavior and HR Management"

Saturn of Greenville

We are no longer customers of Saturn of Greenville. Unfortunately, I don't think they care either.
Let me explain.
Those of you who know me know that I can't stand being ripped off. It makes my blood boil. Wanna know what I can't stand even more? When the person admits to ripping me off. That really gets me going. So, Jeni's Saturn had a problem and I had it towed in. I've said I was never going back there before, but decided to this time anyway because the issue was similar to my last 3 repairs and I was hoping they might warranty the work since they've been trying to fix this issue unsuccessfully for the last 2 years. Not so much. Not only did they not give me any discount on the work or the part, when I challenged the fact that they were way overcharging for the part, the service manager said, yes they were. He said that they just keep raising the prices and that I could have gotten one for half the price with a lifetime warranty. Instead, they were charging me double and it only had a 12 month warranty. Like it matters, they will just lie about what's wrong next time too so they don't have to give me the warranty. Wouldn't be the first or the second time that I've caught them in that lie. Anyway, so I made the comment that I should go somewhere else next time and the service manager said 'Yes'. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that I didn't have a choice to have it repaired there as it was already there and wouldn't start, until Jeni was looking over the bill. The bill indicated that the car would start fine when they looked at it. That really made me mad then because had I been told that in the morning, I'd have never had it repaired there.

But wait, there's more. Lots more. I should add here, that during the initial diagnosis call, he also mentioned that it was low on oil and that the timing chain was rattling. I told him not to worry about the timing chain for now because I have several thousand more miles before the recommended change of it and knew he was just trying to drum up business. They always try this. I've driven the car quite a bit over the last week and knew the timing belt wasn't rattling audibly. However, on the drive back from Saturn of Greenville, it was. That's right, they made it rattle. I wasn't sure the car was going to make it the 5 miles back to work it sounded so bad. So I called them, they said that they forgot to put oil in it and that's why the timing chain sounded so bad. What!?! Those systems aren't even connected!! They tell me stuff like this because they treat all their customers like complete idiots.
So I took it back down there so they could put 2 quarts of oil in it.
So, while the hood was up and someone was putting oil in it, I asked the service guy there if they reimbursed customers for repair costs to fix their mistakes. Only seems fair to me, I have to take it to a mechanic to fix what they broke, they should help pay for that cost. I took it in for a bad starter, and now my timing chain is rattling and I'm leaking oil. So, anyway, at that point, he started beginning his sentences with "Sir". But not just the word Sir, he also said it in that tone. Guys know what I'm talking about. That condescending tone that implies you are being irrational and have no clue what's going on. The tone that had this been a movie and not real life would have gotten him punched in the face. Because honestly, it almost got him punched in the face in real life. He accused me of "always" blaming them for my car's problems and accusing them of making mistakes. It's not every time, it's twice, and its because both times the car left in worst condition than it arrived. Never the goal. NEVER. Argument ensued. I told him I'd never be back and he said "Good". So we are done. No more Saturn of Greenville for us. That was the straw that broke the camel's back that should have been broken two visits ago. You can't say I didn't give them a chance.

After driving it some more, the timing chain is not rattling as much, but its still WAY louder than it was before I took it in and I'm having to take it to a mechanic tonight. Never good when you get your car back from the shop and have to take it in to a different mechanic because something else is obviously wrong with it. Thanks for nothing Saturn. And if you live around here, AVOID Saturn of Greenville like the plague. I hope this post finds its way to Google and saves someone some hardship along the way.

For more Anti-Saturn reading: (at least I'm not alone)

Saturn Service Complaints

Saturn of Greenville - her take

Although I was lucky enough to have Phil deal w/ all of the issues & UTTER & COMPLETE LACK of customer service there are a few things I want to expand on
(back story: my car died in Bi-lo's parking lot on Sunday & AAA had to tow it to Saturn. Our friend Casey took me to Bi-lo to get Phil's car keys & then to work where Phil's car was so that I could drive back to Saturn to pick him up - Thanks Casey!) Monday morning Saturn calls & tells us that the starter is bad & just for example sake let's say they said it was going to be 200 (they didn't it was more). So phil gave them the green flag to fix it. When they called they also said that the timing belt was bad ($700 to replace) and that the oil filter need a solution (bought at your local auto store for about $10) that would cost $150. Phil said no to both of those. When he went to Saturn to get the car w/ it's newly installed over-priced starter they informed him that it was actually going to more than they quoted on the phone (they can apparently legally do this as long as it's not 10% more than the original quote). A discussion w/ the manager that happened to be standing there lead to him admitting that they overcharge for their parts. On drive back to work it seemed that the timing belt was now making noise & it hadn't last time we drove it on Sunday. P got back to work & called Saturn only to be told that they may not have filled up the oil like they told him they were going to & that the reason it was making that noise was because of the belt not working, or it was because the car was low on oil, or the belt, or the oil (you get the idea). they offered to fill up the oil if he brought the car back. While they were filling the oil, the mechanic was sure to tell P that you just can't run a car this low on oil, it's not good for the car - umm yeah that's why we told you to fill up the oil- Since you can't, apparently, run your car w/ a bad belt either we will be taking it in this weekend (NOT TO SATURN) to get looked at. Donations can be made to either Phil or myself towards the purchase of a new belt - or maybe a new car since the Saturn isn't worth much more than 2K at this point. oh & one more thing. I was looking over the invoice after all of this had happened & they noted on there that the Saturn started fine for them Monday a.m. had we known that we would have driven it elsewhere.
UPDATED : phil & i cross-posted on this at the same time so there will be repeats in my post vs. his