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Feb. 1st, 2013

Real classy, Ms. Pastor

Real classy.

Some pastor refused to tip her Applebees waitress, left a nasty note, and the waitress put it on Reddit. She was then fired.

Apparently, to complicate things even more, this pastor was the one who revealed her identity and complained about it- the waitress never put any identifying information in her post. It was along the lines of “hey look at this bitch who won't even pay the mandatory gratuity for her bill of nine people.” But it was the pastor who revealed herself.

Thankfully, most people are going “WTF” at the pastor's actions, as well as that of Applebees, but in the comments there are always the few fundie Christians who are complaining about anti-Christian bias. Personally? I don't care if you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, or if you worship the flying monkeys in your head, if you stiff your server you're a twat. Hiding behind your tithe to your church is no excuse whatsoever, you're just a cheap-ass bitch. The pastor is now complaining that the incident has brought dishonor and embarassment to herself and her ministry. To that, I say: GOOD. She deserves it, and she was the one who humiliated the server in the first place. I don't really care if her ministry has been discredited. She did it to herself.

As one commentor on the article says, It's really simple. If you don't want to ruin your reputation, DON'T ACT LIKE A MONUMENTAL #$%$. That includes adding injury to insult like you've just done. The waitress didn't ruin your reputation. YOU DID.

As someone else on the article said, Seeing that photo shows that Mrs Bell had only one goal by writing that.... insulting the waitress. She could have just as easily not tipped without the scribbling. Karma is a b tch. Now she is upset because she was exposed. Hilarious.

As it stands I will not be giving Applebees any more of my business since they sided with this customer.

Jan. 21st, 2013

Take The Money And Run

I know you guys are probably getting very sick of hearing about this sort of thing, but once again, the person who let me know about the video game creation scam has come forward with yet another instance of someone abusing the goodwill of the Internet to get money and bugger off with it. I'm basically at the point where I don't even want to donate to legitimate charities anymore because of all this fraud going down.

Now, I've personally never heard of firework-comic, the individual involved in this situation before, at least, not until Neil Gaiman posted her request of her begging for money. The evidence of this is here. So, Neil Gaiman's a good guy, and he probably thought that he was helping out a struggling college student. That's what I thought when I saw this, and because I'm a nice person I thought I would go check out this person's work. If I liked it enough I thought I might donate a few dollars. I've done similar things in the past for people whose work I enjoyed, when the needed the money (Kimberly Geswein, the font maker, makes beautiful fonts and requests that if you use her fonts for anything that's not personal that you donate a bit of money. I've used her fonts for school projects, so I've donated then).

What I found was a half-assed webcomic that has been in production since 2006 with approximately fifty pages to its name. Penny Arcade, another webcomic which has been in production since 1999, has exponentially more content than that, and the creators are actually competent at what they do. Not only did this woman have very little output to show for her years of work, but she also ran a blog called This Is Wealthy Privilege, which was basically nothing but complaining about how rich people can afford things she can't. She'd post these stories saying how she couldn't afford to pay her rent, how her parents kept mooching off of her, how the electricity kept getting shut off, and how at times, she didn't even have clean water to drink.

That was what first tripped alarm bells. She had also posted that she lived in the United States. Uh. I live in the United States. Barring something like a natural disaster, the water that comes out of the taps here is safe to drink. It might taste kind of weird depending on where you are (some places put different chemicals and vitamins in the water), but again, unless you're in a situation like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina you can drink the water from the tap without getting sick. While it is possible that if you do not pay the utility bill the company would shut off your water, that doesn't mean you don't have access to it at all. It's a bad situation- don't get me wrong. But you can go to the park and use one of the public drinking fountains- that water is clean.

But let's say that this individual couldn't pay her water bill and lived in an area affected by natural disaters, or used a well that pumped groundwater that became contaminated. If that was it, I'd understand that. But apparently she took donated money and used it to buy a Nintendo DS. You can't eat a Nintendo DS. You don't need a Nintendo DS to survive. But she bought one, despite supposedly being very, very poor. My informant sent me a link to this, which chronicles the whole saga.

Unfortunately, it's people like this who give charity a bad name.
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Jan. 12th, 2013

IMPORTANT: Fraud Alert

Yesterday, I heard about something that disturbed me a great deal, and because of the sensitive nature of this... issue, I cannot actually name-drop the “organization” responsible- they are running a targeted harassment campaign against anyone who dares to speak against them and are threatening legal action if you so much as annoy them. Considering I don't want to spend a bunch of time fighting off hordes of angry nutjobs and don't have enough money for a lawyer, I am going to keep this as informative as possible whilst still being vauge enough to maintain plausible deniability. If you think that you may have been targeted by this “organization,” please seek help. If you have been suckered in, get out while you still can, and possibly contact a lawyer. I cannot stress the seriousness of this enough- you have been scammed out of your money, you are being taken advantage of, and you may be involved in some illegal business dealings that could lead to you being prosecuted under various US laws, and possibly various UK laws. You could be damaging your reputation and your future career prospects.

There is an... uh, “company,” and I use the term in the loosest sense possible, that has been going around blogging websites like tumblr, Livejournal, and Blogspot attempting to recruit IT professionals to help them create a video game. They are funding this thing entirely through donated money, scamming many well-meaning people who want to help create this game. Never mind that they are shooting for a 3D RPG, on the level of Skyrim or something similar, and that their donation goal is laughably low for a game of that level. None of the people in charge of this project know anything about what they are doing, and I think on some level, they realize that- that's why they are contacting people who actually do have know-how and asking them for help.

They do this by appealing to their target's sense of fairness and social justice- this game is supposedly going to include groups traditionally left out of game design. A lot of people hear about this, go “oh, that's cool! I hope it goes through, and I hope it works! Maybe I'll donate!” There's nothing wrong with that, but that's also where things get hairy.

The group is apparently run by a virulently racist asshole who has done similar things in the past, claiming to be involved with work directed towards helping some marginalized group or another. They capitalize on the goodwill of people who want to help out their fellow human beings, collect large sums of money, then buggers off with said money. It is a scam, and a right nasty one at that. They take advantage of people's altruism only to screw them over, making things even more complicated for the group they screwed over in the future. No one wants to donate to a cause that has burned them before, so why would they want to do it again?

Not only is this group running a scam, but they fully intend to capitalize on the donated time of the professionals and students they are asking for help- they are, after all, allegedly making a video game. The individual that approached me with this information indicated that this organization intends to make its “volunteers” sign a contract for their work. By signing this contract, you are essentially indenturing yourself to these people for “as long as it takes to make the game.” While my informant was not sure whether or not this contract would be legally binding or not, it is best to err on the side of caution. If the contract does turn out to be a valid, legally binding contract, you may have just screwed yourself over- you agreed to work for free, and to not find other work, for any different company, until the game is completed. If there is no game, well... it doesn't take a genius to figure out the problems that could cause.

Once again, while I do not know the exact veracity of these claims, what I saw was enough to give me serious pause. If you think you may have signed something like this, please seek help from a contract lawyer or contact the Department of Labor (or whatever you have in your country- like I said, I do not know whether or not this would violate laws outside of the United States but I wouldn't be surprised if it would).

This link is to the Employment Development Department of California. While it is only valid for California residents, it is a good starting place for figuring out what to do next. Your state probably has something similar.

This link is to Crimestoppers in the UK, where you can report a fraud if you are in the United Kingdom. Again, I am not sure if this would have applied to anyone outside of the United States, but it does not hurt to check on it.

All in all, I just want everyone to stay safe.

Dec. 15th, 2012

Enjoy your lawsuit!

Apparently some feminist group in Baltimore thought it would be a good idea to make a parody website of Victoria's Secret's Pink lingerie line to promote their message. That by itself isn't a problem. We have free speech for a reason, and parody and satire are protected speech.

What you can't do is go out of your way to make it look legit, fail to put anything anywhere that says it's a parody and not affiliated with the company in any way, and then try to sell shit from it. That is what most people refer to as fraud, not activism. But I suppose I'm not surprised that there are activists out there that aren't worried about breaking federal laws in the process, as long as they get their message out there.

In a way I can respect that. In the past social change has been enacted because people broke the laws they thought were unjust.

But if you seriously think making feminist knickers and marketing them under Victoria's Secret brand without the company's consent (something that these people are supposedly all about) is in any way comparable to the civil rights movement or something, then you're an idiot. If they'd actually admitted that it was a parody from the get-go? Fine, they're protected. But because they DIDN'T do that? And that now they're trying to sneak the knockoff knickers into actual shops? That's over the line, that is fraud, and that is unacceptable. Even if I technically agree with your cause, you can't just go around scamming people.

Also? At least try to make your knockoffs look convincing. Add some more frills.

Source here. I've actually never heard of this source before, so it might not be legit.

Nov. 12th, 2012

Boycott Black Friday?

Apparently there's some sort of petition going around telling people to boycott the Black Friday sales at various stores. They give a number of reasons for this- do we really need a bunch of crap anyway? Why should we go be part of a stampede just to go get cheap stuff? And what about the workers? It's not fair to them, especially if they need to be there on Thanksgiving!

No. Stop. As someone who currently works a minimum-wage job (although now that I've been there for over a year, I get $0.75 above the federal minimum wage), as well as a better paying job, you clearly do not understand Black Friday.

Yes, it sucks if you have to work on Black Friday, even moreso if you have to work on Thanksgiving. But if you boycott Black Friday, you are harming the workers at those places. You may not realize this if you have never worked a low-wage job, but we're not salaried employees. If you don't work, you don't get paid. That's why, at my job, if you are being disciplined for your behavior your hours get cut. At a lot of places, the employees need Black Friday so that they can afford things like their rent and food, as well as other things that are not essential to survival. Some places will give their employees hazard pay on Black Friday as well, because of the fact that when you have people lining up outside the store a week beforehand, it can get kind of crazy in there. Also, if you have to work on Thanksgiving itself getting things set up? Your boss is legally obligated to pay you time and a half, because it's a federal holiday (found that out when I ended up getting time and a half on Fourth of July).

Also, Black Friday is an opportunity for these minimum-wage workers to be able to afford things that they might not be able to afford at other times in the year because it is on sale. Last year, I had asked for Black Friday off because I had relatives in town, and I was able to go hit up the mall and computer store to buy some nice things. Last year, I was able to buy a pair of $110 pants for $30. I was able to buy some electronic equipment I needed for a lot less. Computers, which I think everyone will agree are a necessity for modern life, will go on sale for as low as $99.

If you really want to make a difference and help support the economy? Do Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday. It is an event sponsored by American Express, the credit card company, to encourage people to support small businesses in their area. It also, arguably, makes a bigger impact on the economy than Black Friday anyway, because small businesses are the largest creators of jobs in this country. Yeah, Wal-Mart and Microsoft employ a lot of people, but Bob's Country Store creates jobs in areas where these larger corporations aren't a presence.

Here's a link if you want to learn more about it.

Sorry for the long rant, guys, it's just that the whole “Black Friday is evil!” thing is incredibly short-sighted and usually said by people who have never had to work a low-paying job a day in their lives. Yes, working retail on busy days sucks. It sucks a lot. But if it's how you get paid, you don't complain, at least not to your boss! If you really want to make a difference, do Small Business Saturday and support local shops. You can get some really cool stuff and help support the job creators in your area.

If you do not live in America, I encourage you to see if there's anything similar in your country- at the very least you might get some cool stuff out of it.

Aug. 18th, 2012

Regarding Chik-Fil-A

Someone I know IRL asked me about my thoughts on the whole Chik-Fil-A debacle. Big mistake. I have a lot of thoughts on that incident, and none of them are all that coherent. Some of them are contradictory, and some of them just plain don't make any sense. But since that person planted the idea in my head, you're gonna get treated to them. Buckle up, go get some snacks, and settle in for the long haul because this is going to be a LONG post.

In America, we have freedom of speech. I don't agree with what Dan Cathy said. In fact, I find it pretty much reprehensible. But he also does have the right to say it, and I would be a hypocrite of the highest order if I said he shouldn't be able to speak his opinions. Free speech is what allows the Internet, and by extension, blogs like the Lawn, to survive and thrive. Nothing Cathy said could really be construed as slander or an incitement to violence, so his speech is protected under the Constitution. That said, however, the rest of the population also has the right to free speech, and under our free-market economic system, has the right to choose whether or not to give their money to a company whose values they disagree with. I've heard it phrased as “voting with your wallet” or “the free market in action,” but it really just boils down to- if you don't like something, don't buy it. If you don't want to get your chicken from Chik-Fil-A, then you go to Popeye's instead. That way, Chik-Fil-A doesn't get any of your money, but you still get your chicken. People also can say that they disagree with Cathy's remarks, exercising their own freedom of speech (like I'm doing right now). If that was all there was to this story, I'd simply leave the post off here. Regular readers know about my political views, we don't have to rehash them every time something political comes up. But, unfortunately, nothing in life is ever that simple, is it?

The problem with the above paragraph is that it does not take into account the various other factors involved here. Dan Cathy “supports tradition marriage.” OK, fine, whatever. He's an idiot, but no more so than hundreds of other politicians that get on the news to rant every single day. But unlike most politicians, he also runs a business. Speaking as someone who works in a private-sector business in the service industry, Cathy's remarks are financial idiocy. You do not want to alienate potential customers. That's basic business sense! A politician just has to keep enough voters happy to vote them back into office, but a business generally has more things to worry about than a politician. Chik-Fil-A has to compete with a glut of other fast-food business. If they annoy enough of their customers, then those customers will just start going to McDonald's, Burger King, Panda Express, Popeye's, Long John Silver's, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Bojangles, KFC, Arby's, Subway, Pollo Loco (I don't know if this is a national chain or one limited to my area, but whatever), and any number of other inexpensive, fast restaurants. Piss off enough of your customers and pretty soon you'll find yourself without a business. If the customers don't want to give you their money, they'll spend it elsewhere. That money that Customer A spent at McDonald's is money they didn't spend at Chik-Fil-A. As a business, Chik-Fil-A should want to bring in the most money possible. And to do that, they need to not alienate their customers.

On the subject of bringing in money, Dan Cathy also donates money to the Family Research Council. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks domestic terrorist and extremist groups (like the Ku Klux Klan), the Family Research Council is a hate group. I don't want to give money to a company that donates to the KKK or Al-Qaida. Why would I want to give money to a company that donates to an organization that is classified as a potential hate group/domestic terrorist organization? I hate the idea of money I earned going to a group like that, even if it is indirectly.

But, like I said before, nothing is clear-cut. The money people spend at Chik-Fil-A is also extremely likely to go to the salaries of the people who work there. There's a Chik-Fil-A on my university's campus, and there's been a petition going around the email accounts to get them kicked off of campus.

I have not signed it.

While I am disgusted by Cathy's actions and funding of hate groups, Chik-Fil-A also employs a lot of people, including on my university's campus. If the Chik-Fil-A on campus closes down, that's almost 50 people who are now unemployed. The average person who works at Chik-Fil-A no more represents the company's values than I represent my boss's personal beliefs. To most of them, it's probably just a job, one they can't really afford to lose. I am utterly disgusted by the way that Dan Cathy has behaved and will never give him any of my money willingly again, I do not wish ill upon the employees of Chik-Fil-A. Most of them are just trying to make a living, just like everyone else. They happened to get a job with this company, and if it's helping keep them afloat, they probably don't care too much about the CEO's personal beliefs. I know that if I was having to choose between being able to feed my hypothetical kids and having to agree with everything my employer said, I'd probably choose to feed my kids.

Also, Chik-Fil-A is one of the cheapest, fastest dining options on the university campus. However, even I'm not cheap/lazy enough to indirectly fund a hate group. I will not buy anything from them again, but I will also not campaign to get them shut down. That might seem like it's contradictory, but I see it this way: Dan Cathy is one person. Chik-Fil-A as a whole employs many people, some of whom probably need the job to pay their rent, feed their kids, buy their medications, etc- and it's also extremely likely that those people don't know about their employer's beliefs or do not agree with them, but still work there anyway because the job market right now is so iffy. I do not think that people who haven't done anything wrong ought to lose their jobs because their boss isn't exactly a good person.

I noticed something similar happening in 2010, when the BP oil spill happened. A friend of my father's worked at a BP office as an accountant, and people who knew where he worked started sending him and his family death threats. This guy had absolutely nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon. He had never been anywhere near an oil rig. He was a goddamn accountant. Yet people were blaming him, just a cog in the corporate machine, for what his employer had done. That is what I fear might happen with this whole chicken sandwich mess. And I'm going to say one more thing: if you harass or threaten employees of a company because of what the management of that company has done, you automatically lose any moral high ground you might have ever had at one point. Let the Chik-Fil-A clerk do his job. He has no control over what the management does and he's just trying to get his (probably minimum-wage) paycheck. Be the bigger person. Don't go to Chik-Fil-A if you can't reconcile your thoughts with their policies, but leave the employees alone.

Jun. 12th, 2012

What (Not) To Wear

Lately, I've been working almost non-stop, but still just enough under the full-time line that I still qualify as part-time. Which is to be expected- the boss doesn't like to have full-time workers because then she has to start offering benefits. I don't really mind- I'm twenty and still on my dad's insurance, and I don't think I'll be working my current job for the rest of my life. But I am in a bit of a bind now, because I've been working so much. Later this week I have to take a trip to California for a bunch of family stuff (which should be interesting... I'll probably blog about it when I get back), but I'm realizing I don't really have any formal clothes or even really clothes to wear to a party.

I have my job-hunting clothes, and the stuff I wore when I was an FBLA officer in high school (that still fits- mostly). Other than that? I have my work clothes, and T-shirts. I do have a couple nice things from the Korean clothing store in the next city over, but I don't know if they'd be considered formal enough to wear to these events. And forget about shoes- I have about ten million pairs of flip-flops, a pair of winter boots, a pair of shoes from Aerosoles that I sometimes wear to work (although those are more winter shoes), and the trainers I wear to work most of the time. Again, nothing all that nice. But I don't know how in the hell I'm supposed to be able to get things like that when I'm working all the time, and furthermore, I don't want to spend the money.

Well, even if I look like I escaped the basement, I can at least do my makeup well.

Jun. 7th, 2012

Mixed Reviews

I am not quite sure what to make of this. I ordered some T-shirts from WeLoveFine, and trying to get the wretched things shipped was nightmare and a half- I must have exchanged about ten emails with the customer service rep for the company trying to figure out what happened with my shirts, and at first, they pretty much blew me off. “Oh, well, our products ship within seven days, it says so on our FAQ.” Well, madam, it has been nine days since I ordered and the merchandise has not shipped yet. Worst of all, they take the payment at the time of the order, so I'd already paid over $50 and had exactly zilch to show for it

Finally, a few days ago, I sent another email explaining that it has almost been a month since I placed the order and my stuff still hadn't shipped. This time, I actually got results- the rep was very polite to me about it, apologized, said there had been an error with the order, but it was being fixed. I would also receive some free stuff and my shipping would be upgraded at no cost to me. OK, well, thank you, but I don't know what use upgraded shipping is if my stuff won't ship in the first place! That was last week.

According to the website of the company, there had been no change on the status of my order. It was still “in printing.” That was the case yesterday, and I was fed up. If it didn't ship within the next 48 hours I was going to take some more direct action- file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, talk to a few of the law students I know to see if there was any way I could get my money back. But apparently about half an hour after I left for work, my mom texted me to tell me that a box had arrived for me via UPS. Considering there was only two packages I was expecting, one being these shirts and the other being my medication, and the medication comes via FedEx usually, I thought it might be the shirts.

They were. So I guess I was all pissed off over nothing- they just hadn't updated my tracking information through the site. And I received some free things as well, which was nice.

Overall, though? Compared to other online retailers like Amazon or JetPens, I'm really not too impressed with the quality of service and shipping speed offered by WeLoveFine. But that's kind of to be expected, I have Amazon Prime so my stuff usually arrives within 48 hours and JetPens always uses the premium shipping, even for its free shipping, so it arrives quickly. But other T-shirt companies like Jinx or ThinkGeek ship a lot faster. I'm aware that WeLoveFine custom-prints everything they sell, unlike the other sites, but still, how long does it take to put some damn screen printing on a shirt?

All in all, while I'm not ruling out any more purchases from WeLoveFine, I will probably think twice before ordering from them again. At the very least, I will not do so unless I'm certain I will not have to travel at all for at least two months before I make the purchase.

Feb. 20th, 2012

Sticker Shock

Earlier last week I learned that I would need a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5: Master Collection for my major. There was just no way around it- it was impossible to complete my homework with the pirated version I had, and it wasn’t going to be possible for me to drive all the way out to the university’s satellite campus to use the specialty lab every time I needed to do my homework until I graduated, so I decided to bite the bullet and go buy it. I knew it was going to be expensive (I remember from my time working tech support at the high school that my supervisor bitched about having to buy another school license to put the software on the new computers for the business lab because it was going to be so expensive). But I was not prepared for the OMGWTFBBQ! THAT’S FUCKING EXPENSIVE! reaction I got upon accessing the website. THIRTY-FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. $3500. That was… pretty much my entire salary last year. That is like 75% of the cost of one semester of university. Holy mother of god, how was I supposed to pay for that? I might as well just keep using the downloaded stuff that only sort of works, since at least I won’t be out an entire year’s worth of pay!

And then I learned that I was eligible for the student/educator discount. So I checked that out. $900. Which is still a hardship, but at least it’s more like two month’s worth of pay rather than an entire year’s. Of course, at this point in time I don’t have $900 just lying around, so I went to speak to my parents about getting a loan from them so I could buy it. Instead, they worked out a deal. If I paid $300 of it, they would pay the rest as a birthday present.

I am so grateful to my parents right now, for helping me with this. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it without their help, and $300 is definitely more doable than $900 (or $3500!). But I do have one thing to say to the Adobe corporation: seriously, guys? Even Microsoft doesn’t charge that much for their products! What you lot are charging right now is practically usury, and since so many students and teachers use your product, dude- we’re not exactly rolling in the dough. My dad isn’t Bill Gates. I’M not Bill Gates. I can’t dig around my couch cushions and find a thousand dollars in change. While the price may be understandable for corporations, think about the poor students and freelance workers, who don’t have a big corporation paying for their stuff!

This has been an edition of Kaboom Rants About Expensive Stuff.

Jan. 17th, 2012

List of companies/organizations that support SOPA

The List Of Shame

You won't be able to access this list in a few hours, because Wikipedia is shutting itself down to protest SOPA and PIPA (the Senate's version of SOPA), but it's an interesting look into who supports censorship. Some of this is really disappointing to me- no more Clinique or MAC cosmetics for me, I'll just have to spend the extra money and go with Urban Decay or Shiseido. But that's not too big of a deal, I don't need to wear cosmetics as something integral to my daily life. However, some things are going to be harder to cut out. Like textbooks- this next semester most of the textbooks I need are going to be published by a subsidiary of Cengage, which is a major supporter of SOPA. Come on people, who the hell pirates textbooks anyway? Why do you support censorship- I thought the book publishing industry was supposed to be against censorship, since, you know, it kind of affects their bottom line? But whatever. Textbooks, alright, I can bum them off someone I know who already took the class or get them on eBay or something. I don't have to give money to the textbook companies.

But the thing that makes me so enraged about this whole thing is the fact that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Pfizer. I can't just not take my medication. While I won't die if I don't take it, I will turn into a complete head-case, paranoid and depressed and hyperactive. That's not a good outcome for anyone, especially not for me, because I might end up in the loony bin again. So I'm stuck having to make a choice regarding my health or my principles. And as much as I hate to say it, because it makes me come across as an opportunistic leech, I think I have to choose my health in this case, unless I can convince my doctor to get me on the generic brands of my medication (which, HA HA HA, yeah right, you pretty much need an act of Congress to get that old fart to do anything to your prescriptions, even if what he's put you on is making you violently ill). I'm not happy about it, and if I thought I could get away with it, I WOULD lose the medication. Unfortunately, though, I do need to be able to work and attend class without thinking everyone is going to attack me. Fortunately I have a three-month  supply of the medication I need to take, so I won't have to give any more money to the companies for another three months. HOPEFULLY in that three-month time frame, these companies and organizations can be talked into taking themselves off this list of supporters, because if not, I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Goddamn it, world, stop making me choose between my health and my morals! I don't like it, and you wouldn't like it if I abandoned both!

Jul. 22nd, 2011

Goodbye Borders

Today, the Borders store near my house shuts down. The gigantic liquidation sale is going on right now, and I just got back. I'm... upset, to say the least.

I always liked Borders, and it's where I did all my book buying (well, that or Amazon). I really dislike Barnes and Noble and refuse to patronize that store, so that's out. Now, I guess I'm down to Amazon, which is a bit depressing, really. I have a lot of good memories at that Borders. I went to the midnight releases for Harry Potter 6 and 7 (which considering my paranoia, was no small feat) and actually had a good time. Sometimes if I was bored I would just go over there and read some manga. That Borders was the first store I was able to get up the courage to buy an actual, physical, yaoi book. Once, when I was in ninth grade, I went to that store with a few of my friends, and one of my friends got the bright idea to go grab one of the Penthouse stories books from the erotica section. We hid in the computer section and took turns reading it aloud and giggling like the naughty schoolgirls we were. In retrospect, it was pretty ridiculous, but it was still a good memory.

But now that's all gone. No more Borders. And I have no idea what they're planning on putting in that storefront, if anything. Somehow, though, if it just sits empty, that's going to be a lot more depressing than having the shop replaced with something less interesting. Although I really do hope it's not another grocery store. There's already so many of those around here that it would be a shame to see something that was once a destination switch into something as boring as a grocery store.

Jul. 12th, 2011

The government is mooching my money!

So Obama said today that with the budget talks going about as well as my dad trying to talk politics with my maternal grandparents (remind me to tell you all that story someday, about how my dad got in an argument with them, and decided to go stay in a hotel for the rest of the visit, taking me with him), that the elderly might not be getting their Social Security checks come August 3rd.

Well, considering that I get my first paycheck next week, and that the government has taken the required amount of Social Security out of it already, I'm upset. Actually, upset is a bit of an understatement. I'm fucking pissed. I'm not happy about them mooching my money anyway, but I can understand why they need to. I don't want my grandparents to be unable to get their checks, and while it's likely that only one quadrillionth of every cent they take out of my paycheck will actually go to my grandparents, it's easy to realize that the people who need these checks are other people's grans and granddads. So as irritating as it is to lose some of my money (money that will supposedly be paid back to me when I'm an old lady), at least it's necessary. I don't begrudge the elderly the money they get from the government so that they don't have to live in poverty.

But it makes me wonder- what the hell are they going to do with that money if they don't give it to the people who need it through Social Security? Come on people, if you're going to take my money, at least make sure it gets to where it needs to go! It also makes me wonder- if they're not going to send the money they take from paychecks of people all over the country to those on Social Security, what the hell are they going to do with it? Because if I find out they spent my money on chairs for the Pentagon or something I'm going to get angry.

So yeah, government? Shut the fuck up and make a deal on how to reduce the deficit. Because not only are you screwing over the elderly, you're making the rest of us poor.

Apr. 3rd, 2011

Car shopping

So yesterday my dad came to visit me, and we started looking for the new car that will eventually be the second KaboomMobile once I graduate (this summer I get my dad's old Ford Taurus, which as far as cars go isn't half bad- it's just really huge and more like driving a boat than a car). We spent most of the day driving around to various car dealerships and taking a look at what we want. This makes it difficult, because this car will eventually be my car in a few years, so we have to get one that is both acceptable to me and him, but we seem to be more or less on the same page.

The car I'll be inheriting is, well, to put it lightly, a land yacht. No, it's not an RV, but the damn thing is so huge it might as well be. The car is long, and really wide. It's like trying to park a boat, and because of its length, there's a very fine line between pulling in way too far, or not pulling in far enough so that the back of the car sticks out the spot. You literally have like two inches of margin of error, and it's really quite annoying. It also makes very wide turns, because the car is so wide. It's not a bad car, it runs very well, and it's not ugly, it's just... really, really big and kind of unweildy. But it's a very reliable vehicle- most of the time (about three weeks after I got my official driving license I tried to take it to the grocery store, and the battery died on me. I ended up lurking around the grocery store parking lot for three and a half hours while I waited for my mother to bring her van over from my brother's soccer practice in the next city over). But other than that incident, it works quite nicely. And since it was very rarely driven anywhere further than a local office building, it doesn't have a lot of miles on it, which means that it will be fit to give to my brother once he reaches driving age.

Anyway, my dad has always hated how hard this vehicle is to park. I don't think he realized exactly how problematic this would be, back when he got it in 2002, but it eventually came clear that the car is approximately the exact same width as the average parking space. Which isn't too much of a problem, when you have the option of parking farther away from the store/restaurant/theater/school/whatever, but it is a bigger problem when there's only one space, and it's between some guy with a Hummer and a moron who can't figure out how to park their Prius, and the spot is literally the exact same width of the car, and Prius Dude parked right on the line. So, this time, the car has to be reasonably sized. Not huge, not SmartCar sized. Also, storage space is kind of important, because I may be potentially using this car to move with, so we've decided on a hatchback.

Now, even though it's not a hatchback, my favorite model of car is the Nissan Cube. I fucking love the Cube. I want the damn Cube. But my dad thinks it's the fugliest vehicle he's ever seen in his life, and he's convinced my aunt would laugh at him if he got one. So even though it has tons of room, yet isn't enormous, the Cube is out of the question, unfortunately. If I want a Cube I'm going to have to buy it myself, and since a medical emergency in the fall basically cleaned out my savings, it's going to be a while before I can afford even a crappy used car from the late 1990s, let alone a new car.

My dad really likes the 2012 Ford Focus, although we didn't get the chance to see one of those today (the car dealerships hadn't gotten them in yet). As it stands right now, it's likely that one will be the final choice, but there's still quite a bit of time, and research to be done before a final decision is made.

We also looked at the Toyota Matrix, which was alright, although I didn't really like the positioning of the gearshift- it was in a really awkward place, but since it would be an automatic and not a manual (I have no idea how to drive a stick-shift, so that's kind of important) it wouldn't be such a big deal. We also looked at a Chevy Cruze, but my dad is pretty dead-set against getting a Chevy (he had a horrible experience with a rental Chevy Lumina catching fire back in the early 2000s, and one of the people who I respect the most once told me to never by a Chevy unless you want to have the transmission fixed every six months), and I just didn't really like the aesthetics of the vehicle. I'm sure it's a lovely car, just not one I'd personally choose. It also had a strike against it for not being a hatchback.

The Hyundai Elantra Touring is a nice car, I liked it a lot. If I had to go out right now and choose any car other than the Cube, I'd get this one. I like the options it comes with, I like the space it has, and it's just an attractive vehicle. My dad wasn't as impressed with it, but I think that's because he's really excited about the Focus.

As it is, it's going to be a while before any final decision is made. We're probably going to buy the car back at home, not down here, and before we buy it, we're both going to have to test-drive it, then think about it some more, then do some more research, then to go some other car dealerships to see if we can get a better deal there... it's probably going to be mid-June before we get it.

Another thing that really stuck out to me was the stereotype of the car salespeople being really pushy. Seriously, as soon as we walked in the door to the Ford dealership, there was a guy in a fox costume with a big sign that said “Car Fox” on it who gave us balloons. It was like going to a fair or something, only at this fair they're trying to get you to buy the bouncy castle. It's kind of funny- they give you candies and snacks and do everything they can to make you comfortable, just so that you'll be more willing to buy a car from them.

One of the people who I respect the most once told me that buying a car is a battle of scammers- they try to scam you, you try to scam them, and it turns into a recursive scam cycle. The best you can hope for is to not get scammed too badly.

And all I can say is- I can't wait. I'm so tired of having to share the car with my dad when I'm home, because he kind of has to go to work, and to get to work he needs to drive. And my mom is never home, and even then I really dislike driving her van because I can't park the damn thing.

Yesterday was an experience, one that I hope I won't have to repeat for a while, though. It's really exhausting.
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Dec. 17th, 2010

Attack of the Kiosk People

Have any of you ever gone to the mall, intending to do some nice shopping, and then get attacked by vulture-like kiosk people? Yeah. It happened to me again today, and it's happened in the past. Now I have some nail buffer thing and this Dead Sea mud lotion from Israel, and I'm out $30.

Usually when kiosk people attack me, I use the Lithuanian I retained from my childhood to pretend that I do not speak English. Unfortunately, this guy jumped me right as I got off the phone with my friend. Obviously, since he doesn't speak anything other than English, I was speaking English, and the guy heard me, which meant I couldn't fake not understanding him. My brain also froze up, so I couldn't use my other excuse- I have a child back at home and if I buy this crap I can't afford to buy him food for the next week, and I didn't think of that. So the guy keeps talking to me, asking me about my life, and before I know what's going on, he's stuffed the package of nail buffer and lotion into a bag and ringing up my purchase. I was still shell-shocked. Next thing I know I'm walking away with some very expensive mud. I could have gone outside and dug up a bottle of mud for free.

It's actually not very common for me to go out in places where there are aggressive salespeople- I'm very reticent in nature, so dealing with people does not come naturally to me. It's not the first time this has happened to me, either- I've ended up with really shimmery eyeshadow from a kiosk (that wasn't so bad, it was only $11, and I routinely pay more than that for eye makeup), facial peel (that was more problematic- it was $65 and burned my skin off, and they wouldn't take it back), and a cell-phone cover that actually worked pretty well. It kept my Pwned Phone safe for five years (that phone had gone through the washing machine, dropped from two stories up, dropped in a pool, and all kinds of other disasters and survived just fine). Anyway, it's just something else annoying to add to my litany of grievances. Look, Kiosk People, I know you all have to make a living, but seriously, I don't need all this random crap. Especially not mud. Because I can get that anywhere.