Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Simpsons are Simp-tastic!

(18) Did anyone see "The Simpsons" tonight? What a great show!

Bart gets an inoculation and loses his hearing, and tries to moon a donkey at a donkey basketball game. However, he doesn't hear the national anthem and the flag drops between him and the donkey, and he is photographed mooning the flag. He's accused of being un-American, and Congress determines that December 25 is "Hate Springfield Day." Mayor Quimby renames the city Liberty-ville. When Lisa stands up in church and says that freedom of speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, a SWAT team swings through the stained glass windows and arrests the family for violating "The Government know Better Act."

Welcome to Donald Rumsfeld's America!

The Simpsons wind up in prison and escape after a talent show. They go to France, where they "hate America, too!" They realize that they miss America, and immigrate home. The show ends on the song "Coming to America" by Neil Diamond, as their ship sails past the Statue of Liberty.

Who says satire is dead?

Friday, July 16, 2004

You can call me Al

(16) I am starting to feel like Al Bundy from "Married With Children." Everyday after work, Al would enter the living room and say, "A fat lady came into the shoe store today . . ."

On Wednesday, a guy calls the office to make a reservation for his wife and mother-in-law. I give him three choices, and he picks the cheapest one. Today, the wife comes in and looks at the pictures of the house and asks if she can move. One of the gals tells her that she is responsible for the reservation, so no, she can't move. She calls back shortly after arriving at the house saying it's dirty. The gal asks, "How is it dirty?" The lady says the tub is dirty. The gal argues for a second, then asks me. I tell her to let the lady come back and choose something else.

The lady comes in and I give her her choice (her husband had asked for something with two beds, and the most expensive choice I gave him had been booked). She asks for more options. So I give her four one bedroom guesthouse and one four bedroom cottage that was three times the price of the one she didn't like. She takes the only option, and I explain that it will cost $20 more per night. The Lady sighs loudly and says okay.

The lady's mom starts bitching. The house that her son-in-law booked provided coupons for a continental breakfast. I told that, yes, it did. I explained that to the lady's husband. So the lady pays the difference. The mom asks if we do math the same way she does. I ask her what she means and she says, "How can $260 become $290?" I explain taxes to her. The lady gets my name and the gals name and asks who she can talk to to complain. (She had muttered something about everyone being sarcastic.

So, let's see, she's mad at me because her husband picked something she doesn't like?

I hate customers.

[Note: The next day, I spoke to the homeowner whom I had called when the guest said they hated the house. She said that when she arrived to ask them what was wrong, the mom had picked up the two coupons left for breakfast, and tried to stealthily put them back where she found them. No wonder Mom was so interested in the taxes! She got busted trying to steal from a homeowner.]

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Open Office

I have been watching G4TechTV and subscribing to a few computer newsletters, and have collected a few free programs that I use and recommend. So every week or so, I will introduce you to some software that you cannot live without.

First, you need to get Open Office. Open Office is a free office suite of software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. It is a completely free alternative to Microsoft Office. It can open MS Office documents and you can save your work as MS Office documents.

I had some really big Office files, and Open Office has a bit of a problem opening them, but I love this program! If they would only come out with a Web design module, this would be a perfect suite.

It's a big download, but well worth it!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Blame Game

(11) I found an article on the Pravda web site that perfectly describes life in these United States. I did not write it, but am reprinting it here for your enjoyment. I have reformatted it to make it easier to read:

"If a woman puts a cup of hot coffee on the car seat between her legs when she is driving and talking on mobile phone at the same time, and the coffee gets spilt and burns her thighs, she blames the restaurant for this.

"If your son commits suicide, you blame rock-''-roll or his favorite musician.

"If you smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years and finally die of lung cancer, your family accuses the tobacco company.

"If your daughter gets pregnant from the captain of the school football team, you blame school for bad sexual education.

"If your neighbor crashed the car onto the tree when he was drunk and was driving home - the barman is guilty.

"If your relative got AIDS when he injected drugs to himself with the dirty syringe - the government is guilty as it did not provide him with the sterile syringe.

"If your grandchildren are bullies - television is guilty.

"If some psycho killed your friend - the weapons producer is guilty.

"If some other psycho breaks in the airplane cabin and tries to kill the pilot when the plane is high in the sky, and the passengers kill him instead, the mother of the killed guy accuses the air company.

"I have lived long enough to understand what the world is about. If I die when sitting at this computer, I want you to accuse Bill Gates."

Friday, July 09, 2004

I was surfing Fark this afternoon when I ran across this news story. McDonalds is being sued by a California woman for not replacing the oil they fry in with a healthier alternative, as they said they would do. The story dispassionately details the events leading up to the suit, including that McDonalds had announced earlier this year that the transition would be longer than they anticipated.

But it's the last paragraph that got me. I am reprinting here:

"Heart-clogging trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil — a process called hydrogenation."

Nowhere in the story did the Associated Press write in the article that trans fat clogged the heart. This sentence is unsubstantiated by the rest of the article! Gee, I wonder where the writer stands on the issue?

A better sentence would have begun, "Trans fat, which has been linked to heart disease, . . ." That way the article wouldn't sound so biased.

But, on the upside, at least they avoided the cliche "artery clogging" which seems to belong to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which with the phrase "equivalent to [some amount] of Big Macs" a common measure of how bad food is for you.

You want to eliminate trans fats? Stop using margarine and artificial oils! Use butter and olive oil, where possible.

That's just my two cents.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

My Uncle Bill, My Hero

(3)Our family moved to Fredericksburg when I was about four and my brother, Rodney, was about three. We moved into this house on Plum Street, just a couple of blocks from Main Street. Up until then, we had been living in Brady, close to all of our family in Coleman and Brownwood. (Actually, before that we lived in Santa Anna, even closer, but I was too young to remember anything about those days.)

One day, Rodney and I decided we would write a letter to our Uncle Bill. He had married my mom's second younger sister, Johnnie Belle (It wasn't until I was in my teens that I began to call her Johnnie, which she preferred over the more, shall we say, Southern-sounding name.) Rodney and I must have been afraid that Uncle Bill wouldn't find us after we moved, because we wrote to tell him that we missed him and hoped he would come to see us.

Now, a four year old has absolutely no clue how to send a letter, so we left our house, and walked up to Main Street, and into a gas station. We handed to letter to the guy behind a desk and asked him to mail it to our Uncle William. By the time we got home, Mom and Dad were, naturally, livid. We got the worst spanking of our lives that day.

Uncle Bill was our hero, and we wanted to make sure, I guess, that he wouldn't forget us.

Yesterday, we attended Johnnie's funeral. She died of cancer at 55 years of age. From the day she discovered that she had cancer to the end, William was by her side. And when she died at home last week, he was there. He worked from home so he wouldn't have to leave her side.

After the service, they led the family out first. And when the friends left the church auditorium, William greeted every one of them, thanked them for coming, all without batting an eye. After the graveside service, we went back to William and Johnnie's house (it still seems odd to call it William's house). He spoke with everyone and played with his granddaughters. I don't know that I would have had his composure. I would probably have been curled into a little ball somewhere crying my eyes out.

Tonight, I realized that, after thirty-odd years, my Uncle Bill is still my hero.

My Aunt Johnnie was such a wonderful person. She would often email me and tell me to update this web site more often. In May, when I saw her for the last time, before she knew about the cancer that would kill her, she teased me about my kilt, and wondered why I didn't wear it. When my Dad's brother came to visit (after we heard the sad news) I wore it, and I forgot to have someone take a picture of me wearing the kilt. I wanted Mom to take it up to show her. (I have added a picture below, under the entry for June 17.) That's the only regret I have concerning Johnnie. I told her I loved her when we left the lake to come home, so I have that covered.

Well, actually, I have one other regret.

After the reunion at the lake, Johnnie had all the families get together for family photos. As everyone was leaving, Johnnie remembered that no one had taken a picture of her family. But the granddaughters were asleep, so we didn't get a picture of them all together. A week or so later, Johnnie sent everyone a picture of her family. I am posting it here.

From Left to right, and top to bottom: back row: Amy, Clay; middle row: Jana, Brianna, Lily, Tammy, Abby Grace, Johnnie; Front row: Uncle Bill and Ray.

From Left to right, and top to bottom: back row: Amy, Clay; middle row: Jana, Brianna, Lily, Tammy, Abby Grace, Johnnie; Front row: Uncle Bill and Ray.

I will update the site more regularly, as Johnnie requested. And if you can, please send a donation to The American Cancer Society in the name of Johnnie Thomas. My Uncle Bill and I would appreciate it.