Saturday, February 23, 2008

Modern Day Drive-In Movie Theater

As I crested the hill in my car, I noticed a missing billboard that been there for 30 years. It wasn't the appearance of those beautiful trees that stood concealed all these years. No, it was the big, bright and flashy digital signage that now hid those wonders of nature. So eye-catching was this marvel of technology, that cars had pulled over to watch the images change. It's sort of like a modern day drive-in with a twist. Instead of the advertisements taking out the first 30 minutes of the movie, they now become the movie. It's an advertiser's dream. And the next time I go by this sign, I'm going to bring popcorn.

Fashion: In One Year And Out The Other

Bluefly advertises itself as "the ultimate hook-up for fashion obsessed." There are even Bluefly coupons to help feed that obsession. I may be fixated with a lot of things but fashion isn't one of them. When someone says that burnt orange is the new black for the season, I almost want to whack them with a color chart. For me, it would be a big help if they would put expiration dates on clothes so I would know when they go out of style.

I guess that's the difference between fashion and style; fashions fade away while style lasts forever. As Gore Vidal once said, "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." So far, I have one of the three and it's not the first two ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

"The Airport Was So Small That..."

My friend just returned from a nightmarish business trip. If they had travel insurance for such trips, our friend would be a very rich man right now. Not only did he have to endure flight cancellations and delays just to go to a place that was 12° below zero but the airline had lost his luggage when he arrived at his destination, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He didn't realize how small the airport was until he tried to find someone to help him recover his luggage. He managed to find a member of the grounds crew coming in one of the four airport terminals. This gentleman directed my friend to the registration desk at the other end of the airport, which fortunately wasn't a very long walk. When my friend arrived there, he found no one around. After a few minutes wait, that same ground crew member came in, took off his orange safety vest, his gloves, and his ear protectors. He then put on a United Airlines jacket, stood behind the counter and said, "How can I help you, Sir?" I've heard of small airports before. But not one where one person is the counter person, the baggage handler, and the grounds crew. I wouldn't be surprised if that same person also ran the gift shop and the control tower.

My friend finally got a hold of his luggage in time to grab a few hours sleep before the meeting. In fact, the meeting was the only good thing that happened to him the entire trip. He finally returned to his car in the airport parking garage in the wee hours of the morning, he found a $50 ticket waiting for him. The only other good thing that happened to him was that he arrived home safe. For that we are all grateful.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yugo Or I'll Go

The cops are at every curve of the road lately. Maybe because it's an election year or maybe it's to increase the city and state's coffers. I don't know. I do know that several of my friends have been pulled over because their sporty car simply hints at going over the speed limit. So what we need is an anti-harassment device to put on their cars. My thought is a car cover that makes your speedy vehicle look like a '85 Yugo. You remember the Yugo, don't you? Built in Yugoslavia when Yugoslavia was member of the Soviet Union's "smile or else" family, the Yugo had the look of something made at gunpoint by workers overjoyed by the benefits of communism. It even had a rear window defroster, made especially to warm your hands as you pushed it along the road. Police in America were extremely happy that there weren't many Yugos in the country. Otherwise, they would have had to spend their time assisting stranded motorists -- Yugo or you didn't. So I can't think of a better disguise than this car cover. What better way to amuse an officer as he clocks you doing 60 in a Yugo. That moment will certainly bring a chuckle or two. What do you think?

Mortgage Crisis

Most of the news stories on the mortgage lending crisis did a great job at vilifying the lending industry. How dare these businesses trust their customers to keep to the contracts. What were these mortgage lenders thinking? Yes, there were a couple of dishonest businesses but that falls under theft, not money lending. One uses deception, the other uses hope and promise. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.

There were many sad stories on people who had their home foreclosed. These people talk about how they bought a house worth several hundreds of thousand of dollars for just pennies a month. What a great deal! At this point, they must have zoned out and missed the lender explaining how their payments would jump in a few years to the point where they would need to win the lottery or sell off a couple of their 2.5 children. Or maybe, these unfortunate home buyers thought the balloon payment part of the contract meant they were to add balloons to the mortgage payment after five years. You would have thought that at least one person would have asked what they had to fill those balloons with.

If history is the sum total of things to be avoided, someone must have forgotten the same mortgage crisis of the 80s. In the end, we survived that spot of history too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yes, I Know What Today Is ...

My thoughts on Valentine's day.
Oh, and this one as well...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Trends in Automotive Insurance

My auto insurance company questions everything. I think I have a $100 debatable policy. Regardless, the auto insurance business will have another excuse to raise your rates as high-tech comes to the industry.

Ideally, the insurance business would like to charge you by the exact mileage that you drive. To this end, several experimental programs have been started in the European Union, North America and Japan. On some of their customers' vehicles, automobile insurance businesses have installed devices that read speed and mileage from the car's OnBoard diagnostic port. Other customers have GPS systems that relay their driving habits back to the insurance company. (One East European country is relying on a low tech method of Nagging-Mother-In-Law-in-the-Backseat.)

Of course, some people are questioning the privacy aspects of these pilot programs. I don't know why. If you've ever applied for auto insurance, they end up knowing more about you than the NSA. So what if a business records your travel history? As long as they don't share it with the taxman, what's the worry? We know that will never happen {wink}{wink}.

What's not clear is whether this will lower rates for safe drivers or raise premiums for everyone because of the fancy new gadgets. At least, we won't need a bigger car with Big Brother driving with us. Let's see what the next five years bring.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Never Trust A Dog

My friend has one of those large dogs that has that annoying trait of coming over to greet you and then shoving their nose into your crotch for a sniff. Of course, little dogs are worse because you have to kneel down for them to do the same thing.

In any case, this extremely friendly dog has had puppies. My friend wants me to prove my friendship by taking one of the recently birthed bundles of joy. No thanks. I remember those days when the pitter-patter of little feet in my home were those of puppies. Everything to these furry eatin'-poopin' machines was a chew toy —— slippers, speaker cords, table legs, my feet. One day, I caught one of them chewing up my favorite books! At first, I was so stunned I didn't know what to say. Then I just took the words right out of his mouth.

So, no thanks. If I want to ruin everything that I have, I will remarried my ex. Besides, how can you trust an animal that's surprised by its own farts? I'm referring to dogs, of course. My ex ... well, that's another matter.

Monday, February 04, 2008

American Politics

If you don't know why American is the Land of Promises, just watch these election campaigns. It's during this time that people learn what their politicians stand for. It's also when politicians learn what their people will fall for.

Right now, there is a big push for each politician to round up as many delegates as they can. It's not that the delegates are sheep. Although at convention centers, you will find construction on marketing pens in progress and that top named auctioneers have been hired to send these delegates to the highest bidders. All-in-all, a lot of fleecing is about to commence. Stay tuned...