Yep, we’ve done a great job. Things are definitely much better now in Iraq. Thank you, Mr. Bush. You can go back to Crawford now and take Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle with you. Please?
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been attempting to upgrade some things on the site, but my test server and Internet connection aren’t cooperating. Busy yourselves with a bit of humor at the president’s expense.
Our internet access came back as mysteriously as it left. We’re still scheduled for a visit from a tech tomorrow. I’m going to wait and see if it lasts before I decide to cancel it.
Time Warner’s not the only large service provider screwing up lately. We switched to SBC from MCI at the end of March for our local and long distance service. I noticed a charge from MCI last month that seemed a bit late, so I called and asked about it. I was assured by the rep that this was a partial bill and would be the last one. Of course, it wasn’t and I got billed the same amount again this week. It turns out that they’re still billing me for long distance, even though I switched. When I called and pointed this out this morning, I was told that SBC needed to notify them and then the service would be disconnected. I moved on to SBC who said that they did, in fact, notify MCI, otherwise they couldn’t have started long distance for me and that it was “illegal” for me to be charged by two long distance carriers at the same time. Their advice was to go back to MCI and tell them that it had been done and to send them a copy of the confirmation letter that I received if necessary. Already pissed off about getting the runaround, I called MCI back ready to tear them a new one. Before I could get started, the rep that answered my second call politely cancelled the long distance and credited back the two months that they owed me.
You have to love big companies. I call two different reps in the space of an hour and get wildly different service and responses. Of course, I’ll probably get billed again next month, but the joke’s on them. The credit card that they’ve got on file has changed for security reasons and they won’t be able to bill a damn thing anyway. It’s unclear to me how or if this will affect crediting the charge prior to the card change. On top of it all, I’ve wasted an hour at work dealing with this and then telling you about it.
Even better, I’m now considering VoIP from AT&T which would mean another carrier switch and the possibility of no phone service at all at the house if I randomly lose internet access again. Isn’t technology cool?
Our Internet access is on the fritz as of sometime yesterday. It’s unclear if it’s the cable modem itself or a problem somewhere in the line between it and Time Warner. The end result is that it’s not maintaining a signal (the sync and ready lights won’t stay lit). In calling for support, I had to re-dial through a busy signal for 5 minutes only to be on hold for another 15 to finally be told that they couldn’t send anyone out until Friday. On top of that, they can’t give a time frame for when the tech will visit on Fridays for some reason. They’re supposed to call the wife’s cell phone 30 minutes before they’re going to come. We’ve had to get the cable line outside the house reconnected in the past due to something cutting into the line. Do squirrels eat coaxial cable?
I posted my complaints about the state of online music vendors late last year. Cory Doctorow, sci-fi author and EFF spokesperson, recently gave a really good talk about some of the issues surrounding this at Microsoft. He explains the background and issues very clearly, I think. I decided to post this as the discussion list for EFF-Austin got its most lively traffic in months over the DRM measures that may or may not be included on the new Beastie Boys CD. No official word on their site, but this post in their forum and a response to the BoingBoing post seem to say that it doesn’t affect the US or UK release and that The Boys didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Either way, I don’t think I’m all that interested in the new album. I was disappointed with Hello Nasty and only liked slightly more of Ill Communication. The Boy is a fan of the new single, but when given the opportunity to buy the new CD for $9.99 at Best Buy, I passed.
Finally, their site has a note indicating that it’s under construction, but it’s pretty crappy. The information is all over the place and somewhat incoherent. If I were them, I’d have a link about the copy protection on the homepage.
Austin seems to be a favorite test market for companies, mostly food and beverage operations. For a while there, it seemed like I was offered free samples from a different energy drink company every week and there’s always those cigarette people trolling the bars for new lung cancer victims.
Now, it looks like Wendy’s has decided to test locations without dining rooms and we’ve got one. It’s on the northbound frontage road of I-35 between 6th and 7th. I noticed it a few weeks ago while taking The Boy to school. I guess it’s a reasonable idea to intersperse locations with dining rooms with those that don’t, but I don’t think it’d be wise to switch over entirely. You can have a smaller staff and it probably saves on air conditioning costs by virtue of the smaller space. Since people don’t generally stay and spend more money at a fast food restaurant anyway, it doesn’t make much sense to offer an atmosphere that would encourage them to hang around, a strategy that works well at coffee places.
McDonald’s seems to have the opposite strategy. They’re adding things like wireless access (provided by local company Wayport), a move which seems odd to me since no one really wants to hang out a McDonald’s except kids under 12. It might work well at the locations with playgrounds, but otherwise it’s a waste of time and effort.
Thundercloud Subs has had that drive-thru location on S. Lamar for quite some time. I wonder how its revenues compare with other locations.
Ever since missing Tony Bourdain’s book signings at Bookpeople , I’ve been somewhat obsessive about checking their event calendar. I’ve made it to a few book signings lately and The Wife and I tag-teamed David Sedaris’s appearance this evening.
She went early to get a line number as it was projected that the turnout would be very big. It was. By the time I got there, several hundred people were already in the store and they had closed off the second floor so that the only option was to hear him over the speaker system. The family was next door at Whole Foods, so I went over there to get something for dinner. We ran into all kinds of people that we know. The Wife ran into Baldo and his parents before I arrived. We then ran into Jason & Angela and an old co-worker of Michele’s who also attends some of the same yoga classes as The Wife. The reading started at 7 and I didn’t get my book signed until 10:30. I read the first 5 or 6 stories. I laughed out loud once. He plugged the same book, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, that he plugged at the signing that Scott attended earlier this week. Sedaris apparently has a colossal dislike for cell phones and cameras, so I was unable to take my traditional book signing cell phone camera shot for the moblog. He makes up for his hatred of cell phones with a love for smokers, however, as he let anyone with a pack of cigarettes cut in front of the rest of the line. He’s hoping that the favorable treatment of smokers will spread. Fat chance.
We’ve long speculated that our 20-month-old, aka The La, is an alien observer from another planet. She’s been known to make other babies cry by staring at them unflinchingly for inhuman amounts of time with no show of emotion on her face. She also seems to pick up behaviors (both desirable and undesirable, the latter mostly from The Boy) like a sponge, much more so than her older brother.
The Wife reports that yesterday The La woke up early and cranky from her nap. After attempting various methods to appease her, The Wife plunked her down in front of The Tube for some Blue’s Clues action (one hopes of the Steve instead of the Joe variety). The La watches for a few minutes and then notices the as-yet-unopened-and-unread local paper. She picks up the paper and gingerly removes it from it’s plastic bag. She then walks over to the trash can, paper in one hand and bag in the other, and deposits the bag in the trash. She returns to the couch with the paper, situates herself, and then proceeds to "read" the paper, something that she’s seen her mother do most mornings of her life. Scary.
The deed is done. Yesterday, we signed the loan papers and took delivery of a Dark Red 2002 Honda Odyssey EX-L sans DVD player or navigation system. Going by Edmunds it looks like we got a pretty good deal. The price fell substantially below their dealer retail and even a little below their private party price. I suspect that their prices are overinflated based on other research.
The Wife was up early Saturday and saw an ad in the paper. She called and left and message and I followed up with the kids and checked out the car. I discovered that 5-year-olds aren’t the best people to take with you when shopping for a car. The Boy kept exclaiming things like "We should buy this car, dad!". I could see the seller doing a Mr. Burns, "Eeeexcellent!".
It turns out that the seller lives out in the boonies (somewhere near La Grange), is a retired car salesman, and has a connection through his son at a local dealership to get "creampuff" trade-ins of cars that evidently don’t sell all that well out there. Since he re-sells several cars a year, he’s categorized as a dealer and we unfortunately had to pay TTL whereas we probably would’ve avoided the taxes if he were a private party.
I had the van inspected yesterday by AutoPI who I recommend. I also found out that Austin Telco Credit Union has some of the best local auto loan rates. The bummer is that I went there after the inspection and it turns out that they have coupons for $20 off AutoPI inspections. I think it was well worth what I paid, but $99 sounds much better than $119.
I fully expect the soccer mom/dad minivan comments to start rolling in, so go ahead. I can take it.
We went to see Hidden Fortress last night at the Paramount as part of their annual Summer Film Series. It was good. I hadn’t ever seen it before and always enjoy seeing old films for the first time at this series. I’ve seen War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Magnificent Seven, Shane, High Noon, The Apartment, Witness for the Prosecution, Rear Window, and Vertigo in the past.
We got some friends to babysit the kids while we saw the movie and ended up getting them around 10pm. Of course, neither of them went to bed at their usual time of 8pm, so they were a little out of it when we arrived. They went to bed without too much incident, but LaLa has subsequently woken up three times tonight and been screaming and inconsolable. We can’t figure out what it is. She’s had allergies/a cold for the past several days, but no fever or anything. We’re contemplating an early morning doctor visit.
On top of that, it’s been raining like crazy the last week or so. We NEVER get this much rain in May and June. It’s great for the foliage, but it seems to be overwhelming my roof. For the second time in the past year, we’ve got a leak. Since I noticed it at 3am this morning dealing with LaLa, I haven’t had a chance to inspect it from the attic and it’ll be too slick on the roof to climb up there and investigate. Part of me hopes that a tree limb punched another hole in the roof (the cause of yet another roof leak several years ago). There’s also the rationalization that it’s just leaking due to the sheer volume of rain that we’ve had lately and that it won’t happen again anytime soon. On the other hand, our roofing guy noted that we were due for a new roof when he was here for the last repair. I don’t even want to think about that right now as The Wife’s car is on it’s last legs and we’re in a serious hunt for a replacement in the next few weeks.
Finally, I’ve got a lot to get done at work this month and three blocks of one or two hours of sleep is going to make that difficult.