Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Years resolutions

Okay so its been a while since I updated my blog and I have been meaning to but really have had nothing to blog about.

Well, for those of you who keep up with me, many know that I had a buddy move in earlier this year, he rented a room in the house and kept his dog in the back yard. Well, I got along with "Tom" just fine, but his dog, who is a 1 year old 100 lb bloodhound, was a different story. Totally unsocialized and crazy. I didn't want that dog coming inside, so a pen was built in the back yard, which the dog promptly dug up and destroyed the grass. I turned the other cheek, since Tom was indeed paying rent. I told Tom that the dog could come in during inclement weather (really cold, rainstorm etc) as long as he was given a bath first. Tom has quite a social schedule and was never really home in the evenings. So the dog stayed in his pen for probably 23 hours a day. On the nights Tom came home late, he would toss dog food out the back door and go to bed.

Now, where am I going with this? Well, last weekend, Tom moved out on Sunday, mysteriously. No Goodbye, no GFY, no see you later. Just gone. I got home and went and looked out the back porch, and the 'dog pen'/mud hole was missing all the cattle panel fencing. The T-Posts were still there (thanks Jackass), and the wood was still there. Missing was the dog house, and rubber mat and his BBQ Pit. This is strange, I went to his bedroom. Everything that was his was missing. Then into the bathroom. Totally cleaned out. I called three times, no answer from him.

Immediately, I started thinking "What did I do?" but I caught myself. I made phone calls to friends from church, and in my support network. They all had the same answer. "Its not you. Its about Tom. You did nothing, This is all about him." So after calming down about the situation, I went to bed, and the next day, arrived at the office to find a "Dear John" letter in my email. Basically stating that he wanted to move out because It wasnt fair to me because I didnt want the dog inside, and wasnt fair to the dog because he was in the mud. Well, Good luck with that buddy. So I know, this was Toms way of avoiding any kind of confrontation or situation that would have arisen. Personally I couldn't see the situation getting out of control, but who knows.

So, I talked to a good friend that night, who usually calls me out on my thinking patterns/errors. I was really upset and agitated at him because I told him that I planned on "letting go" of the situation. He pointed out to me (much to my chagrin), that I way too often let people take advantage of me. And I was thinking to myself, "What the hell is this guy talking about? I dont let people take advantage of me!" Well, less than 24 hours later, this statement would fufill itself.

To be continued.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So its time for another call center post.

So one of my vehicles is financed with GMAC. The company that thwarted bankruptcy through the 2009 year of the GM and Chrysler massive fails.

I have planned on replacing this car, so I called to try to get some info on how long it takes to get the title after I paid the note off. Well, I hear a series of clicks, and immediately know, I'm getting routed to an overseas call center. Great.....

Hilarity ensues, and in the end, I write this letter to GMAC. Not that anyone there will ever read it.....

GMAC Automotive Financing
P. O. Box 380901
Bloomington, MN 55438

ATTN: Michael A. Carpenter

RE: Your overseas Call center

Dear Mr. Carpenter,

I seriously doubt you actually read this letter, probably a ‘problem solver’ will contact me on your behalf. However, I want to express to you the displeasure I have with dealing with your foreign call center. I have twice contacted GMACFS to get payoff and title information for the vehicle that I have financed with GMACFS. Both times, I have been transferred to the India call center. And both times, I was unable to understand the employee who was assisting me on the phone. The first man on the phone did not understand at all what I was trying to accomplish, and kept trying to talk over me. The second person put me on eternal hold and I got tired of waiting and just hung up.

Does GMAC have any US call centers that can help? I am selling my car and buying a new one. I will not seek GMAC for credit if the proceeds of my loan are used to fund an overseas call center. How does GMAC expect to serve their clients if the people that they hire cannot understand the customers needs and if the customers cannot understand the people on the other end of the line?

All I want to know is, how quickly, after paying my vehicle off, can I receive the title from GMACFS? I have a person who is interested in purchasing my vehicle. They are buying the car for more than payoff, so they are issuing me a major bank check. I plan on depositing the check, then once it clears, paying GMACFS the payoff amount. I would like to know the fastest way to make this happen so that the buyer can get the title in hand and register it in their name.

Every answer from the call center was to go to the DMV and transfer the title. How do I do that if GMACFS still has the title? Do you guys offer an expedited payoff/title option?

I sincerely hope that my words reach someone other than beancounters that would rather anger customers by sending them to a phone bank on the other side of the world, nobody on either end of the phone can understand what is happening.

Would GMAC consider serving their US customers with US employees, who can effectively communicate with, and understand our needs without frustrating everyone to no end?

I am sorry to say, that this is my first and last loan experience with GMACFS.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall is in the air

Well Fall is starting to peek its way in. For the first time in many years, I feel like I haven't 'dipped' into my annual funk that I usually get into when we get the first cold snap.

This time of year marks an odd point in my life, once a year. The same time that I was laid off from the first job out of school, and my spiritual journey and finding out who I really was. Don't get me wrong, we never went to church as kids, not because we didn't believe in God, my parents just never went. When I got to A&M, I started attending church with friends, and I felt so much more complete, a good 'balance' if you will.

It wasn't until late 2001 when I really started feeling something else, something that I hadn't experienced, maybe ever. And in the most turbulent chapters of my life, serenity.

Last week, our pastor had an excellent talk about 'waking up' and God being there, finding him there with arms wide open, and for me, it was a very moving talk.

You can listen to it here.... Check out the 10/10/2009 talk.

So today, as I write this post, I look back at my life today, all my friends, all my family, my church family, and life in general, I have to smile. Sometimes its so easily to be discouraged. In my 30s, thirty lbs overweight, single, working a job that tests me every day, and walking this journey, but I'm not alone. He is there. Thats one thing I know I don't do enough, I don't trust in God, and know that he has great plans for me. I perpetually try to drive the bus, and I know I just need to sit back and let God drive.

Sorry for the 'heavy' post, just had to get that out there. To end in the words of singer Gary Allan, "Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Netflix...whats going on?

This may be a well known occurrence in the world, but this is the first time I saw this.

Last night I put a netflix envelope next to my front door so I would remember to take it to work today to drop in the mailbox.

Thats when I noticed, the return address is to Austin....All of my movies have come from the Houston center, since thats close to where I live.

Check it out:

So I have heard of Netflix throttling the DVD rentals, and they also got in trouble for it a while back.

Is this another sneaky way of getting around that?

We'll see.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Life on Autopilot

Ever feel like you're on autopilot? I realized for the past few weeks, that everything has been really going well.

I'm trying to maintain a "conscious contact" with God throughout the day, giving stuff to him that I can't handle. Its working well for me. I'm much happier at work (even happier when I leave), and everything is copasetic. This week, I just feel like everything is the same over and over. Go to work, go home, go to mens group, go to church, work on cars, etc. I look back at this month, and I've done LOTS of stuff. Had Dim Sum with friends, worked in the yard, harvested watermelons from my garden, went and visited friends I haven't seen in forever, helped at church, saw my grandpa. The list goes on. Maybe next week will be better eh?

I have lots of friends that I talk to now and then, but a lot of them are married and have families now, and can't hang out anymore. I do have a few handful of married friends who are allowed to get away for a while and go hang out and do stuff with, but its sad to see the loss of those friends that are under obligations of a family now. Maybe I'll understand one day.

On the romantic side of things, theres not much to report. I had a few dates with a girl my friends set me up with, but she's got a LOT of baggage, more than I care to deal with. Don't get me wrong, I've had my share in the past, and I have had LOTS of grace extended to me, but I had to realize that it was her, not me, that had issues. So, I moved on, once again. I can remember last year at this time, was Hurricane Ike. I was in a relationship that my friends warned me was not a good idea, yet I pursued it anyway. 3 days with the same person and no power can really show ones true colors.

Anyway, I have made amends, licked my wounds, seen my therapist, and I feel like I'm ready....but for what? Ready for another relationship? Ready for life?

Maybe the right answer is, whatever God has in store for me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More Child care funnies

In honor of my Friends J and L who have a new bundle of Joy, I give to you the baby care pics I never posted....These are tips for J, who is a first time dad...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

GM, out of bankruptcy and smelling like....a Cadillac?

So GM has pulled itself out of Bankruptcy.

Whoopdeedoo. You guys know I tend to like American brand cars. Fords mostly. The stuff that GM has put out has been lackluster at best. I was in a rental Impala for ten days while my car was in the shop and it was the worst car evar.

Now GM has decided that its going to come out with some fragrances....

The star reports that GM is coming out with a line of smell good stuff.

I don't know about you, but usually the smell of a Cadillac conjures up the smell of old people, moth balls, stewed prunes, and the like. Apparently GM thinks they can do better than that. Now if they had a fragrance like "CTS-V" that would be better, but Cadillac brings to mind grandpas 93 Fleetwood.

I guess I can't fault them, I mean, the Mustang has its own line of fragrances.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Movie Review: Knowing, and random mumblings..

Just FYI, if you're going to see the movie, there are spoilers in this post, so you may not want to read.

So I usually dont like the "End of the world" type doomsday movies, but my friend and his wife were visiting from out of town, and she had rented "Knowing" with Nicholas Cage. I had seen the previews, and decided that I wasn't going to watch it, in the theater or when it came out on DVD.

Well, we watched it Saturday night, and it really left me feeling discombobulated and out of sorts when it was over. Basically in the movie, a girl in 1950 is summoned by voices to write down a bunch of numbers, instead of drawing a picture to put in the time capsule, she has page of numbers written all over it. Later she disappears from the dedication of the time capsule, and they find her in the basement of the school in a closet scratching numbers into the door, continuing from what she drew on the paper earlier.

Fast forward to present day, Nicholas Cage's son attends the same school, where the anniversary of the time capsule is due, and they open it, giving all the kids pictures of the drawings that were drawn in 1950. Cage's son gets the girls drawing with the random numbers on it, then he starts to hear all these whispering voices, and sees a man in the shadows. The movie goes on and Cage finds the drawing, and starts looking at it while drinking, and discovers the numbers are dates of major catastrophes, and also show the number of people that die. Cage is drinking, mourning the loss of his wife, who died in one of the tragedies of the paper. Theres also another set of numbers that they can't figure out what they're for, Cages colleagues at MIT scoff at his theory. Later they discover that the other numbers are Latitude and Longitude (he refers to them as GPS coordinates) of where the next death occurs.

I'm skipping a bit, but later, Cage discovers the last tragedy shows a date and "EE" which later means "Everyone else" or the world. Cage finds out that the Sun is going to Flare and scorch the Earth, and everyone dies. Cage and the Girls daughter try to escape to caves, but Cage later discovers the Coordinates of where they need to go are etched to the door of the closet of the school. While all this is happening, Cage's kid and the granddaughter of the girl from the time capsule get kidnapped by the man from the shadows, and Cage finds them, the men turn out to be aliens, who are "taking only the ones who are called" away from earth, to save them and let them start again new. Cage and his son walk towards the UFO, and the alien tells the boy that only he can go, not Dad. The next scene is Cage saying goodbye to his son and boarding theUFO, with hundreds of others of UFOs leaving earth, Cage falls to the floor in grief, and wakes up later, then Cage goes to his parents house, which he is estranged from, and it shows him hugging his family as the world is hit with a huge flare from the sun and the earth burns down. Later it shows Cage's son and the granddaughter of the girl that wrote the numbers in an Adam and Eve type setting, fields of grain and an Apple tree, and the world is pure again.

So anyway, there are several annoyances I have with this film. One, I can't see why any parent, in their right mind would give their kid to an alien who is promising some kind of safe place to be, because the world is ending, its just inplausible to me. I guess the main thing is the movie had a larger impact on me than I realized, leaving me feeling like everything that we do here while we're on earth is futile, and that the world will end etc. I've fought battles in my life, long and short, and I guess I let the movie get the better of my emotions.

I checked in with a few people today, and one of them, a close friend left me with this gem:

"God is in control. He's got your back, he loves you, and wants the best for you. He walks with you every minute. Dump the fear and embrace faith."

This left me feeling a lot better, because more often than not, I feel like I let fear control me, and as far as I feel that I have come in my spiritual journey, sometimes I get frustrated that I still can get into those 'pockets' of fear.

Another good friend reminded me "Its just a movie". Which is true. I guess I need to be more cognizant and draw the line there a little better.

At the end of the day, this movie did have one thing for me, and that's to be appreciative of my support network of friends and the ability to let go of the fear sometimes and let someone else upstairs drive the bus now and then.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2011 Mustang Gets new powerplants

2011 V6 Mustang is rumored to get the 3.7 Duratec V6.

The base model mustang has always soldiered on with a meager, yet reliable powertrain.

Finally, it gets something decent.

Everyones been asking for either the 3.5 or 3.7L since they've had them in the Edge and Flex etc, but that engine was designed for FWD application. Well, Ford's been seeing the light and making some changes to go in rear wheel drive fashion, only because the F150 is supposed to get the Ecoboost V6 as well. Not sure if its going to be an optional motor or the base one. (cant see it being the base motor).

Going unchallenged in the pony car war for 6 yeras does that I guess. Then the bowtie drops 300 HP V6 Camaro I guess will light a match under your rear.

The MKS and CX9 both use the 3.7L and put out 273 hp with regular Fuel Injection. Will we get some direct injection action? That should put it up there with the Camaro.

Ecoboost V6 Mustang Anyone?

I want to hear more about the new 5.0L V8 coming out as well. 400/400.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fallout of GM and Chrysler Bankruptcy

From Autoblog:

Completing the Obama Administration's plan to replace its fleet of government vehicles with newer, more efficient vehicles, the U.S. General Services Administration is reporting a purchase of roughly $210 million worth of new vehicles from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

Of the three American automakers, Ford was the clear winner of government funds with a total of 7,924 Blue Ovals bought and paid for at a total of $129 million (about $16,280 per car). GM was well represented too with the Fed's $105 million outlay bringing in a total of 6,348 cars (about $16,540 per car). Chrysler held up the rear with a total of 2,933 vehicles purchased for $53 million (about $18,070 per car).

Though the breakdown of actual models purchased has yet to be released, the GSA says each of the new vehicles will replace a fully operational older vehicle that was ready to be retired. To qualify for the program, the new vehicle needed to achieve better fuel efficiency than the car it replaces. In other words, we can only assume that the old fleet of Crown Vics are being turned over with new Fusions or maybe even Focuses.

Soon, the GSA plans to complete its spending ways by investing another $15 million on a new fleet of advanced technology buses and electric vehicles. See the official press release after the break.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In other news.....

GM divebombing and Ford climbs.

I am curious as to why it shows 184,000 cars last year and this year only 150,000 units. Were gas prices that much last year to boost car sales over truck? I guess we owe four dollar gas and a new 2008 Focus sales to the higher numbers. Not sure if the Edge crossover counts as a truck.

Maybe the 2010 Fusion, Mustang and Taurus will all be grand slams and Ford will continue to do well!

Wall Street Journal
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is preparing an effort to gain market share while its two main rivals are bogged down in bankruptcy and restructuring.

Ford, the only one of Detroit's Big Three that didn't need a bailout from the federal government, plans to increase production of cars and trucks in the third quarter by about 10% from the level of a year ago, a company official said. It will be Ford's first significant production increase in almost two years.

In contrast, General Motors Corp., which is expected to file for Chapter 11 protection Monday, and Chrysler LLC, which is nearing the end of its bankruptcy reorganization, are planning to shut down their plants for nearly all of the third quarter. The difference in production plans will give Ford a chance to push sales through the prime summer selling months while GM and Chrysler focus on their internal issues.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to separate us from our other domestic competitors," said a person familiar with the matter at Ford. "No one is going to gift-wrap it for us. You have to deliver the product people want to buy. That said, you have to take this historic opportunity to grab market share."

Ford has seen a gain in retail market share in six of the past seven months and expects to see another boost when May auto sales are reported Tuesday. As of April 30, Ford's U.S. market share was 13%, according to the company.

In the third quarter, Ford plans to produce 150,000 cars and 310,000 trucks for a total of 460,000 vehicles, according to company officials. A year ago it built 184,000 cars and 234,000 trucks for a total of 418,000. The bulk of the increase stems from high production of the company's highly profitable F-150 pickup trucks.

The move represents a gamble, however. Gas prices have been creeping higher in recent weeks, topping $3 a gallon in some parts of the country. Further gas-price increases could damp F-150 sales, and a worsening of the overall economy could slow sales of both cars and trucks. If either happens, Ford could end up with elevated inventory levels later in the year.

The truck market "is still going to be a challenge," said Michael Maroone, president and chief operating officer of AutoNation Inc., the largest chain of car dealerships in the U.S. and the largest Ford dealer by volume and locations.

Ford executives played down the notion the company is trying to take advantage of the troubles of GM and Chrysler. "I feel for my competitors. It's got to be very, very difficult," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said Sunday. "This is not a case of 'Gee, let's stick it to them.' We have been watching our inventory levels and we've seen our market share grow. This is really just us working our plan."

Like most other auto makers, Ford is still losing money -- it lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter -- but it has been faring better than GM and Chrysler, in part because it borrowed $23.5 billion in 2006, before credit markets started to freeze up, and was quicker to sell some of its fringe brands. As a result, Ford had a larger cash cushion. Recently it also raised $1.6 billion in a common-stock offering.

Ramping up production can be seen as evidence of Ford's cautious but growing confidence in the state of the U.S. auto market, which saw one of the most severe downturns in its history last year and may now be poised for a rebound.

"We're starting to see the light nearing at the end of the tunnel," Mr. Fields said.

Ford's production increase also raises the prospect that the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker could surpass GM in North American production this year, something that hasn't happened in decades, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM Files for Bankruptcy

This is what happens. Its a surprise to me that this didn't happen much earlier.

General Motors filed for bankruptcy today, forcing the 100-year-old automaker once seen as a symbol of American economic might into a new and uncertain era of government ownership.

The filing is the third-largest in U.S. history and the largest-ever U.S. manufacturing bankruptcy. The company listed $82.29 billion in assets and $172.81 billion in debts.

The decision to push GM into a fast-track bankruptcy, and provide $30 billion of additional taxpayer funds to restructure the automaker is a huge gamble for the Obama presidency.

But in a sign of progress in the government's high-stakes effort, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of substantially all of U.S. automaker Chrysler's assets to a group led by Italy's Fiat S.p.A. in an opinion filed late on Sunday.

Chrysler's bankruptcy, also financed by the U.S. Treasury, has been widely seen as a test run for the much bigger and more complex reorganization of GM.

President Barack Obama is due to speak on the auto industry shortly before noon Eastern time today. A news conference by GM CEO Fritz Henderson will follow.

The GM plan as detailed by U.S. officials is for a quick process that would allow a much smaller GM to emerge from court protection within 60 to 90 days.

'The hard part'

"Now the hard part begins, which is making GM and Chrysler competitive. If they don't do that, then we'll be doing this all over again in a few years," said Christopher Richter, auto analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Tokyo.

"The immediate implication is that the companies are going to get smaller and so market share is up for grabs, which means that rivals like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai are going to gain share."

Since the start of the year, GM has been kept alive with U.S. government funding as a White House-appointed task force vetted plans for a sweeping reorganization that will be undertaken with $50 billion in government financing.

By preparing to take a 60 percent stake in a reorganized GM, the Obama administration is gambling that the automaker can compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. after GM's debt is cut by half and its labor costs are slashed under a new contract with the UAW.

The governments of Canada and the province of Ontario agreed to provide another $9.5 billion to GM in a late addition to the plans for the bankruptcy that have been taking shape for weeks, U.S. officials said.

GM plans to close 11 U.S. facilities and idle another three plants. It has not provided an updated target for job cuts but had been looking to cut 21,000 factory jobs from the 54,000 UAW workers it now employs in the United States.

The UAW would have a 17.5 percent stake in the "new GM." The Canadian government would own 12 percent stake and GM bondholders would get 10 percent.

Sunday brunch at Hugo's. Not so much.

Hugos restaurant was one of my favorite restaurants to eat at in Houston until this past Sunday. Their food is excellent, including their Sunday brunch.

We have been eating at Hugos for 7 years regularly. Over time, the service has gone from good, to O.K. to medicore to pathetic.

We visit Hugos about 6-8 times a year. Usually always for Mothers Day brunch and dinner other times. The food and service is usually always decent. However, the last 2 years, they have tried to seat us at the table NEXT TO the buffet line, which is loud and interruptive to enjoy brunch. This is even with reservations.

I made reservations with Hugos on Tuesday for Sunday brunch to celebrate a 70th Birthday. We arrived at for our10:30 reservation, and the lobby had a bunch of people there, but nobody was being seated. After waiting in line to talk to the Maitre'd, I had my turn, gave him my name and he said "We'll seat you next."

The next thing, the hostess comes back and seats 2 other parties. I bit my tongue. Finally, we get seated by someone, who was either a bus boy or new, and spoke very little english. He takes us right back to the table that backs up next to the brunch line. We've been put here before, and its always a hassle to get another table. When the guy showed us the table, I immediately cringed. I asked for another table. The host looked at me like he was trying to figure out what I was saying, and said that there was no other tables available (tons of tables around were empty).

I asked to speak to the manager. The host told me that there was nothing we could do. So I walked to the front to talk to the main guy at the maitre'd station. I told him calmly that we, for some reason, always get seated there, and the host that seated us said that there's nothing that can be done. I told him that I didn't like how we continue to be placed there over and over again.

The Maitre'd looked at me like, sarcastically apologized, and then with a angry look on his face asked me to "calm down" and there was "no reason" to "act like that". To which I was surprised, since I had maintained my temper without getting angry. I wasn't happy with the way we were being treated, so we left.

Service like this is not going to fly, no matter how good the food is.

To the owners of Hugos, you need to get your staff under control and start treating customers like they're customers again.

We ended our jaunt at Kenny and Ziggy's where the service and food was excellent.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Send a Birthday Smile to a Veteran

So this was emailed to me, and after checking snopes and google, it seems to be true.

ON EDIT. His Birthday has passed, but we can still send a "Hello" or Friendship card!

Please go out and spend a few dollars on a card and a stamp, or make a card and help this fine gentleman who has served our country.

There is a wounded soldier at the Fisher House in Fort Sam Houston, Texas by the name of Sgt. Thornhill. Sgt. Thornhill lost both legs and I think both arms as well as being burned on 56% of his body while serving this country in Iraq. He has been at the Fisher House for 2 years and his parents have reached out for support. They are not asking for money or anything like that, but they are asking for as many service members, veterans, and others as possible to please send him a birthday card. His birthday is this coming week and it would be nice if a lot of us send him a birthday card to show him how much we love him for what he has sacrificed for his country. His parents are worried about his emotional status and he hardly ever has visitors.
Let's help this soldier and send him a lot of cards. Show your love.

Mailing address:
Sgt. D Thornhill
Fort Sam Houston Fisher House
3623 George C. Beach Rd
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ford Five Hundred Cabin filter

So my biggest complaint about the new to me ride is, the lack of a cabin filter. I work in the dust bowl. There is a daily smattering of ultra fine dust on my car every day when I leave the office.

How much of this dust is SUCKED into the car and into my lungs? Surely, Ford has decided to put a cabin filter in their newest sedan in their model line up. Nope.

Not only is air quality of concern, but its unhealthy for the AC system. Dust on the blower motor and evaporator core wreak havoc on the system.

However, they did have a cutout for where one SHOULD be.

So I checked around. The 2008 Taurus which has a cabin filter, uses a popular number, that many cars, including Acuras use. So I went out, picked up a cabin filter, and armed with my dremel and a fine toothed hacksaw, I went to work.

This mod is applicable to the 05-07 Ford Five Hundred, Ford Freestyle, and Mercury Montego. I am not responsible for you destroying your evap case due to poor decision making on your part.

You'll need to to get all your junk out of the glove box.

Next, you want to pull up on the button as shown here.

Now you have access to the evap case.

Notice Ford had made provisions for Cabin filter access cutout in the blower box.

You'll want to cut between the 2 ridges. All the way around. Dont worry about being perfect. Keep it between the ridges, youll be fine. Dont throw the piece you cut out away.

Now heres the cutout removed. Notice that Ford had every intention of having a filter here. Square opening, flat floor ridges, etc. Also notice the amount of dust in there. Blech. Windex and paper towel time.

So heres our new cabin filter installed.

Now heres the piece we cut out, back in place, and some Aluminum tape, holding it all in. Not the prettiest, but functional.

Now I can enjoy clean filtered air! Most manufacturers recommend annual replacement, so I'll check in a year from now and we'll take a look at that filter!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NW Houston Engrish

So I met my good friend C for lunch today. We used to work together and enjoy the same type of food, particularly Asian stuff.

So I called her today and she wanted to go to this new Vietnamese place. "All they serve is noodles" she tells me.

Boy she wasnt kidding. Nothing but soup and noodles. No rice, no egg rolls. Soup. Thats all.

I had to laugh when we got there. More Engrish.

Not "Noodles", just one. "Pho Danh, house of noodle"

The soup was indeed good. Place was nice and clean inside. Lets hope they make enough money to be able to afford that "S".

Monday, May 11, 2009

I made it to Failblog!

A lot of you guys know I follow Failblog.

I caught one the other day when I was getting some books for my niece, and its on the voting page now!!

I'm on the voting page! Please vote for me!

more fail, owned and pwned pics and videos

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chevrolet kills the Impala SS...Again

To me, its been dead since the last V8 Rear wheel drive B Body rolled off the line in 1996, with GM scrambling and putting the Grand Prix GTP Drivetrain inside the W Body FWD Impala. The 3.8L V6 with a blower on it put out 240 hp stock. We all know that the LT1 that was in the B Body Impala was underrated at 260.

Later, with the last iteration of the Impala, we got the 5.3L V8, again, turned the wrong way. And now, nothing. Just an Impala LS for the rental fleet, LT and LTZ for the rest of us.

General Motors has killed off the Impala SS, again. For the 2010 model year, the Impala line will be available in base LS, mid-range LT and range-topping LTZ trim. The loss of the SS edition will also mark the end of the end of the line for GM's 5.3L V8 engine in the midsize front-wheel drive Chevy sedan. That means the biggest available engine will be the 3.9L LGD pushrod 60-degree V6.

Maybe too many warranty claims on that 4T65E Transmission with the V8.

Here's to the only Chevrolet product I really ever liked.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Test Drive a Ford, raise money for Breast Cancer Research

From April 21, 2009 to June 1, 2009, Ford is helping raise money for the Komen for the Cure.

Heres how it works:


In times like these, giving back to the community is more important than ever. So when you test-drive a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle between April 21, 2009 and June 1, 2009, Ford will donate $20 on your behalf to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® - up to a total of $1 million. Come in today and be a part of Ford’s ongoing commitment to the fight against breast cancer.

  1. Log in here:
  2. Fill out a certificate, and print it out.
  3. Take it to a Ford Dealer.
  4. Test Drive a car of your choice.
  5. Ford Donates 20 dollars to Komen for the cure.
Lets all pitch in and help!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flat tire fun

So I get a call yesterday from a guy in the office. "Hey I think you got a flat tire."

I go out there, and sure enough, its leaking air, going flat but not completely yet.
First time I've had a flat in 10 years.

Scrambling around, I ask a few people if they have an air compressor. I usually carry one, but because I autocrossed this weekend, I took it out.

One friend and coworker of mine had a compressor. At 5:30 I go out and start to air it up. The tire doesnt seem to be responding. My friend came out and looked under the car. There was a screw, and it had punctured completely through the sidewall, and out the other side!! Had I aired it up earlier in the day. I might have gotten away with getting only one puncture. Oh well. My fault.

So I had to put the donut on. Those of you that know me, know that I cannot STAND temporary spares. I already have a spare full size rim for the car, I just havent gotten around to putting a tire on that rim yet.

I get home and decide to plug both holes (DO NOT do this). They seemed to hold air, but when I got up this morning, the tire was flat again.

Time to go get some new tires!

From Tire

From Tire

Monday, May 4, 2009

Autocross Fun!

Last year, I started participating in the Mercedes Benz Club Houston Sections Autocross.

This was a FUN event!

I won second place in the D Class this year (Non Mercedes vehicles). Was beaten by a caterham 7, which of course, slices like a razor through an Autocross course.

Video here! This is my fastest run of the day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garage Door Opener Issues

Well, as most things go with time, they tend to fail. One case is my Craftsman garage door opener.

Its been getting noisy over time but I didn't realize how much until it completely failed Monday morning. If I didn't look in the rearview mirror and saw darkness. Got out and I hear the motor running, but the door had only moved about 3".

Well, looks like I have problems, but I'm on the way to work, so lets open and close manually and have a look later.

Well, this is what I found when I got home.

The gear that is driven by the worm gear has eaten itself alive. Upon further research, this gear needs to be lubricated regularly, which it obviously has not been. I've lived here almost 4 years and I've only greased the rollers and lubed the chain.

So off to Sears service center I go. Well, guess what, Sears cannot help unless you have the model and serial number. This happened to me about 12 years ago at this same place. Why should it be different now? I get online on ebay, theres a seller there that has the gears. I call his #. He asks "Do you have the optical eye at the bottom of the door?" yes, I do. Then tells me "its the same gear from 1984 to today". Why can't sears figure that out?

I ordered the kit, it arrived in 3 days. My next post will illustrate replacement and chain adjustment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Call Center (chat) Fun.

Okay so last November, I replaced my well worn Sidekick III with a TMobile G1.

How is it? Its ok, but its one of these deals, where its a computer first, and a phone second.

I have had friends complain about calling me sometimes and having error messages like "Number is not in service", and then they'll call right back, and I'll be fine again. I also get dropped calls, and times when I wont even get a call, yet friends will call and it rolls straight to voice mail.

So I got online today and chatted with a Tmobile rep. Heres a copy of the chat. Note how she really doesn't directly address my issues, rather just updates my "system". I think when my contract is up, I'm going to seek another provider. I've been with Tmobile for 5 years, and customer service is declining rapidly.

You have been connected to Demetria E.

Demetria E: Hi Redassaggie00 , welcome to T-Mobile live help. I’m Demetria and I will be happy to help you. Please give me a moment to review your question.

Demetria E: For your reference, my ID number is xxxxxx.

Redassaggie00 : ok thanks

Demetria E: For security purposes, can you please provide me with the last four digits of the account holder's Social Security number for verification? Once your account is verified we will be more than happy to research this issue further.

Redassaggie00 : XXXX

Demetria E: Thank you.

Demetria E: How long have you been having the problems.

Redassaggie00 : about 4 or 5 months

Demetria E: Redassaggie00, do you receive an error message?

Redassaggie00 : every now and then, my friends will call my cell

Redassaggie00 : and it will say that my number is out of service

Redassaggie00 : and these are people that have me stored in their phone books

Demetria E: Can you place a test call to the device at this time?

Redassaggie00 : you want me to call my cell phone?

Demetria E: Yes, that is correct Redassaggie00.

Redassaggie00 : ok

Redassaggie00 : calling now from my office

Redassaggie00 : its ringing

Demetria E: Thank you.

Redassaggie00 : this doesn’t happen all the time

Redassaggie00 : but several times a week

Demetria E: I am going to update the service, Redassaggie00.

Redassaggie00 : what service is that?

Demetria E: ON my end, power the device off and back on again.

Redassaggie00 : ok

Redassaggie00 : what service are you updating?

Demetria E: The network, Redassaggie00 have you powered the device off and back on again?

Redassaggie00 : I see

Redassaggie00 : yes I have

Demetria E: Thank you, please make another test call to your mobile number.

Redassaggie00 : its ringing

Demetria E: The service, is working, Redassaggie00?

Redassaggie00 : yes

Demetria E: So at this time the service you can receive calls?

Redassaggie00 : I was able to receive calls before

Redassaggie00 : just every now and then, at least weekly, I would get callers complaining about the number being out of service

Demetria E: Okay, at this time Redassaggie00, the service is working, I have updated the network and you should not be experiencing the problem anymore.

Redassaggie00 : so every time the network is updated, do I need to go onto chat and ask for my number to be updated?

Demetria E: No, it will be fine, but if you want to make sure you have a strong network connection, I would like to make a suggestion, that you power the device off at least every 72 hours, for at least 10 seconds then power the device back on again.

Redassaggie00 : I see

Redassaggie00 : last time I contacted tech support

Redassaggie00 : they informed me that G3 coverage near my home was low

Redassaggie00 : and the I wouldn’t receive calls, but people would leave voice mails and I’d get those, then

Redassaggie00 : the phone automatically switches between 3G and edge

Redassaggie00 : and kills the battery. Is there a solution?

Demetria E: Yes, I see do you have any additional questions, or concerns.

Redassaggie00 : yes

Redassaggie00 : I’m concerned that Tmobile has not resolved the 3G coverage issue in my area

Demetria E: We are currently working on the issue Redassaggie00.

Demetria E: Is there anything else we can assist you with today?

Redassaggie00 : apparently not.

Redassaggie00 : Thanks.

So there you have it. We'll see what the next few days bring.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

GM and Ford Jump on the Payment Bandwagon

Most of you probably saw the Hyundai Commitment commercials around Superbowl time, lose your job, Hyundai makes your payment for a few months while you look for a job, and if you can't? you can return your car* (minus depreciation etc.).

Well, Ford and GM have now jumped on the bandwagon.

I have mixed feelings about this.

Ford and GM have both jumped on the Hyundai coat tails.

"Lose your job? We'll make your note for you!"

Ford said Tuesday it will cover payments of up to $700 each month for up to a year on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle if consumers lose their jobs. The program runs until June 1.

GM's payment protection program is much like Hyundai's Assurance Program in that the automaker will cover your payments in the event that you lose your job. GM's program covers you for 24 months and will make up to nine payments valued at up to $500/month. According to GM, if you qualify for state unemployment benefits, you'll qualify for the payment protection to kick in.

Part of me thinks this is great and will help out lots of people, but the other part of me feels that those people that were that financially irresponsible to buy a car they couldn't afford, or didn't have a emergency fund to cover 6 or 8 months of living expenses (which includes your car note and mortgage) should let this be a good reminder of living beyond one's means.

Sure, when I replaced my 290,000 mile car 2 weeks ago, I really wanted something nice, a pre-owned Infiniti M, A V8 Genesis, Town Car, etc.

What did I settle on? A Good deal on a used reliable 4 door sedan. A Ford Five Hundred (which has been renamed Taurus in 2008). Why? The uncertain economy, I didn't want to drop 35 Grand (or even 20 grand these days) on a NEW car, and really folks, what do you need a car for? Basic transportation. In this case, to and from work. I got it with around 50,000 miles, and paid less than 1/3 of the sticker new. I'm familiar with the powertrain, familiar with the chassis, and it has good reliability ratings according to Consumer Reports, and Excellent Crash test ratings. Leather, Sunroof, 6 CD Changer, power everything and all wheel drive to boot. Has new tires and new pads and rotors all the way around. Maybe when things improve, I'll get something 'nicer', but for now, this is a pretty darn nice daily driver.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Forgot to Remind all you readers! (DST Time again!)

Once again, we have DST!
This is a good time to remember other things that need to be taken care of, specifically on your car, and at your home!

I like to remind folks that really aren't into car care, that at least twice a year, (a good reminder is around the time change) you should:
  • Change the oil (more than 2x per year but if you can't remember do it now)
  • Rotate your tires, correct air pressure
  • Inspect/Replace your air filter
  • Wash the car really well (including the wheel wells and rails/drains).
  • Remove the garbage inside the car
  • Inspect all your exterior lights

  • Fertilize the lawn (Fall Fertilizer, and Spring Time too)
  • Change the Ice maker Filter
  • Change the A/C Furnace Filter
  • Open the windows and let some fresh air in!
  • Drain that hot water heater
  • Check/Replace any light bulbs that burned out

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hurricane Ike Fence Repair...Continued

So after Ike, the fence behind and to one side of my back yard was knocked down.

The guys on the side of me said "Don't worry, we're gonna let insurance handle it." As did the people behind.

No problem. Now its the middle of March, six months later. Still not a peep. The guy next door finally fixed the fence that faces the street, before that, you could drive by and look straight into my back yard. Several times, I have approached him and offered to split the cost and help him repair the fence between us. He gets all gung ho about it, and we set a time and date, and when the times up to do it, he's nowhere in sight.

The folks behind me have propped the fence up pretty well, but it still is an eyesore. I'll have to work on them next.

So a few weeks ago, I set out and picked up some 4x4 posts and 2x4 posts, to lay the framework out. I thought about being a jerk and fixing the damage only to where the 'pretty side' was facing me, but I'm not repairing the entire fence, just the fallen part. I went ahead and flip flopped each section.

With my Craftsman circular saw, level, sharpie, demo bars, shovels and Quikrete, I was able to start the project in a timely manner. This is really the first time I've done any kind of construction project of any significance, and it sure is satisfying. Still not done yet, but its better every day. Don't have to look at their neighbors trashed out back yard.

I've been cutting the old fence/debris into smaller pieces for the garbage men to take away, hopefully the back yard will start looking decent soon enough.

Heres the frame work, new 4x4 and 2x4 rails. I was hoping the builder didn't use concrete for the posts but they did

First section up and running, second section started.

Second section completed. Third starting (gotta go buy more pickets)

I'd like to end this entry with a Robert Frost Poem....

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Monday, March 16, 2009

DirecTV is in the house

Well, after waiting for the satellite guy to come in, I'm officially no longer a Comcast customer. I went to the local Comcast office on Thursday, where I, with 2 dozen other people waited in line at lunch hour while TWO people worked the counter, processing folks through. Over half the people there were canceling service.

DirectTV is now in, but it's still taking a little getting used to with the new Channel line up. I also found out, according to the DirecTV installer, that a bunch of cabling was hooked up incorrectly in the attic. Go figure.

Anyway, back to the world of having 3000 channels and nothing to watch.

Actually, 2 weeks with no cable TV was an interesting thing. I really didn't miss it too terribly, with Netflix and all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Update to Goodbye Comcast

Well, an update to my post in February about "Goodbye Comcast"

After getting a comment from "Comcast Cares", Mark Casem, whose job is to scour the net for Comcast comments, I sent a letter and got a call from his 'team members' reassuring me that they would be contacting their 'team members' in Houston.

Guess what Mark Casem?? The Cable was turned off March the 2nd, as requested, and NOBODY has contacted me regarding ANY promotions that comcast has/had whatsoever.

Comcast does not care, and comcast fails miserably in my eyes. Did I expect anything more or less from Comcast? I shouldn't have.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Many of you know I follow Failblog. A website full of funny 'fail' pictures.

This was posted the other day. Totally hilarious!

Monday, February 16, 2009


So, my friend, we'll call him "Dieter" called me on Saturday, and was pretty excited about something, and he had to tell someone. So as he was rattling on while I was laughing my arse off about what he was telling me.

Lets back up a little bit....

Without going into too much detail, Dieters wife left him suddenly with no explanation. Later it was discovered Dieters wife ran off with a guy she met online. Funny huh? Anyway, Dieter was out of work for a while, because the Sprocket industry was in low demand, and things were tough. But he found a job at a Sprocket place and was getting it back together. I must add, that the whole time Dieter was out of work, the wife never did anything to help, (i.e. get a job, temp work, Prostitute herself etc) thereby forcing Dieter to support his family on Credit cards and drive his finances into the ground. Well apparently, the whole time this was happening, Dieter's ex was talking to a guy in gondwanaland, lets call him Joe the tool, who is also in the Sprocket business, and was a good looking fella, relatively fit, and financially sound.

So Dieter found himself on his own, working to put his life back together, to which he has been pretty successful doing so, I must add.

So now you know the background there, Dieters call Saturday was to tell me, that he got a call the other day from a friend, who told him that not only has Joe been out of work since late summer last year, Joe has also gained all the weight back that he lost in order to woo Dieter's ex away and off to gondwandaland. So now she has a fat loser with no job.

This is ownage at its finest folks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Goodbye Comcast

Some of you that follow my blog remember a while back my issues with Comcast.

Comcast did make it right, after a call to their billing center by crediting my account. However, when I got my bill this month, the rate had gone from a reasonable 56 dollars a month to 81 dollars!!!

I usually do whatever provider is giving for promotions for a year, and when it ends, I leave. Last year, when I called to leave Comcast and go somewhere else, after my promotion ended, the rep on the phone asked what it would take to get me to stay. We talked it out and I eventually agreed to a lower bill, 1 more year of free DVR (That I dont use), and a secondary HD box in my bedroom.

Imagine my surprise, has it been a year already? That my promotion is over. Easy enough. I'll call comcast.

A call to their call center leads me to "bubba" who is telling me "Ya see son, its like you go to Sams club, and you buy a case of soda water, you get a better deal than if'n you go to Randalls or Krogers and buy 2 six packs." Then goes on to explain that my "Problem" is that I'm not buying enough goods and services from Comcast, and if I did, they may be able to do something about my bill. I asked why they couldn't extend it to keep me as a customer, and he said,

"Let me tell you, I used to live in Galveston County, and i had to pay 125 a month for a phone line! Just a metro line to get in and get a 281 phone number!" I'm sitting here at this point thinking, "why is this guy giving me his life story??".

I politely mention that I would be signing up for another cable tv provider and I'd be calling back to cancel. He said "ok" and hung up. Go figure. They sure aren't working very hard to keep me as a customer.

So Mar 1, 2009, at Casa de Redassaggie, DirectTV is coming in and Comcast is going out. Honestly, I even considered doing what my friend, Network Geek did, and get rid of Cable all together, but I like having Food Network.

I have a 1 year promo with DirecTV, and after that year, I'll probably switch again. Yeah its annoying to learn all the channels again, but hey, if its going to save me 30 bucks a month vs staying with comcast, I'll do it.

I called comcast back to cancel, and talked to their 'retention' department, where they told me that my bill was 81 for march, but would be going to 95 in April, because my other promotions expired. If I wanted, I could lock it in for a year at 78. I said no. Then she said 'you can switch your service from Plus to starter'. I said no, I dont want to change the service, I just want to keep the rate, why can't you do that? She said that my rate is the lowest she's ever seen.

So, Thanks a Lot comcast. I'm sorry to see our relationship go, but your folks did nothing to keep me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breaking news, the 2010 Taurus SHO is a reality!

Autoblog has confirmed, The Taurus SHO is a reality!!!!

365 hp, 6 Speed Automatic, AWD, and American! YEEHAW!

Dropping summer 2010!

Read the press release here

Think driving a truck is 'safer' than a car?

Lots of folks always have the misconception that a pickup truck is safer than a car, given the frame and the higher ride height, etc, often times gives you a good feeling of security.

Well, the IIHS latest test results show otherwise. Sadly, the latest rated pickups don't do too hot.

The IIHS tested the new Silverado, Ram Pickup and Nissan Titan.

You can read the results of the test here

Interestingly enough, the new F-150, Tundra and Ridgeline were all top safety picks by the IIHS.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Call Centers

So last week, I get a text message saying "Good News, T-Mobile has added a new tower near your home for better call quailty! T-Mobile, stick together!"

This is great, because every day, on my drive home, I always drop the call when I drive through one particular intersection. Two days before I got that text, I noticed that the calls weren't being dropped. This was a nice surprise.

So Friday afternoon, I'm sitting at home and the phone dings, I look down to see that I have a voice mail. Funny, I don't remember the phone ringing. I look again, no bars, and the "X" above the bars and "No Service" on the screen. HUH? I rebooted the phone and had signal, 5 seconds later, the X again. Weird.

I called Tmobile Tech Support, where I was on hold for less than one minute, and immediately had an ENGLISH SPEAKING representative on the line, that spoke with no accents (well maybe a little southern drawl). He was concise, clear, and understood my issues, and his directions to try to help solve the problems were easy to follow. This was GREAT. Anyway, its temporarily band-aided, his guess is there's something not plugged in or configured right at the new tower. Regardless, I have signal (2G Network). I thanked him and told him that I appreciated T-mobile keeping some of their call centers in the USA with good english speaking folks working there. He laughed and thanked me.

So T-Mobile, Thank You for having good, understandable, competent and friendly folks staffing your call centers in the USA.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it 1986 All over again?

For those of you that were around in 1985, Ford launched the Taurus, the car that saved Ford.

Are you humming the cheesy song? Thank goodness the car was good enough to overcome the terrible commercial.

What happened? 2007, the last Taurus rolled off the line. Long since becoming a favorite of company cars and rental fleets. Ford let a good product die on the vine. Seems to be something they're good at doing. I don't think Taurus was competitive in the retail Market for at least 4 or 5 years before it died.

Ford does this with a lot of their vehicles, Ranger, Econoline, Crown Victoria, fleet favorites that probably would remain competitive with a little refreshening. These are all vehicles that are reliable, durable and well built, and unfortunately, outdated.

Fast forward, Ford rebadges the 2005 Five Hundred to the 2008 Ford Taurus, which a bunch of little changes (for the better) and a Decent 3.5L 24 Valve Duratec, good for 263 hp. While its not 'all new', I appreciate Ford bringing back the name. But its not good enough to go head to head with Camry and Accord, missing may nicities and key features and the general panache and buyers expect...yet.

Lets face it, there are too many damn nice cars that are available in the 20-25K range, both new and used. What makes the 08-09 Taurus Stand out? Not much...

On Sunday, Jan 11, 2009, the 2010 Ford Taurus was released. This is an all new design that will bring Ford back. This car is equipped with the Proven 3.5L Duratec, 6 Speed Automatic, (SEL and Limited will get paddle shifters).

Three trim lines, SE, SEL and Limited, base price of $25,995 for the SE, but that gives you a Standard V6 with a 6 speed automatic. Accord and Camry make you pay extra for the V6.

I think its better looking than what Japan has to offer, and the fit and finish look rich and switchgear look of quality. While I'm generally not a fan of Front Wheel Driven vehicles, this car does appeal. Job #2 (late 2010 Production) will bring a 340 hp Twin Turbo "EcoBoost V6 to the mix. I also hear rumors of the SHO returning....

I'm pretty excited that Ford has decided to get back into the car game. Don't get me wrong, I love how they're really doing well with trucks, but a few years ago, they made the mistake of putting all their eggs in the Truck/SUV Game, letting their cars become favorites of rental fleets. This is good for Ford. Check back when I review the 2010 Fusion Next!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Comcast: Its our mistake, but you Pay.

So back after Thanksgiving, I get home, and turn the tube on while I make supper.

Nothing, just a blank screen. There's a channel guide, but no picture. So I use Comcast chat and they tell me someone will be out there on Friday afternoon. Friday rolls around, Comcast shows up, come to find out, when they installed my cable, they didnt 'tag' my line as a paid customer, 2 years ago. So earlier that week, Comcasts auditors were in the area checking the lines, and seeing my line wasn't tagged, they disconnected it. No problem. The tech reconnects it and leaves, not checking anything inside.

So, 30 minutes after he goes, I sit down to have a bite to eat in front of the TV. Guess what? The Channels work fine except for the HD channels. Everyone on HD has tourettes and stuttering. I check the bedroom TV, all channels fine. Guest room TV, all channels have snow and ghosting. Great. So Christmas comes and goes, and I get back on Comcast Chat to talk to a person, telling them that this was not like this before they ever messed with the cable. She told me there is a problem, so they'd come out Saturday.

The tech comes out Saturday, checks the drop and the signal, and says that a Booster needs to be put in, and usually "we need to do it because so many new houses are being put in around here". No problem. Guy puts it in, checks a few channels and says I'm ready to go. He leaves, and its 95% better, but still does it a little, but I can live with it.

Low and behold, the next cable bill comes, and its got a charge of $24.95 on it for a service call!!! I was never told anything about charges that I would have to pay for something that was working FINE until they turned it off because they didn't tag it correctly. Un-BELIEVABLE. The chat line rep said nothing, the Tech said nothing. The bill says $24.95.

Maybe its time to switch to U-Verse.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Citrus Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Spicy Rice

My mom, the Gardening Queen, has given me a few lemons, and with some of the Oranges on my tree, I made a marinade tonight and grilled some shrimp, and made some spicy taco meat rice.

I just took the shrimp, de-vined and marinated in lemon juice, orange juice, and fajita seasoning, covered with saran wrap and refrigerated for about an hour. Afterwards, I skewered the shrimp and grilled them, using a brush and some olive oil to keep the shrimp nice and oiled.

Next, I just took a pound of ground turkey, and taco seasoning, browned it and seasoned per instructions, and I made spanish rice (using the chinese rice cooker) with Tomato Sauce, Cumin, a can of Rotel Stewed Tomatoes, and chicken stock, then I mixed it all together.

The end result?