Category Archives: Rant

Complaints, complaints, complaints!

X-Men 3

What have the producers and writers of the X-Men movies got against Cyclops? Seriously, that character has gotten the shaft in all three films.

X-Men United is no exception and Cyclops really took it in the shorts this time.

Apart from that, it was OK. Too much Wolverine, again.

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Delivery Travesty

Delivery Travesty

I’m really not too happy about this.

I ordered my Macbook last week and paid for 2-3 day expedited shipping (rather than 5-7, which usually equates to 7-8 days), and, remembering that it is TOMORROW in China, so it was really shipped on the 24th, this is ridiculous!

It’s here in Phoenix, since last night, and they don’t plan to deliver until Wednesday?! Yes, today is a holiday, but that’s no excuse for it taking 7 days!!!


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It’s Not Pizza, It’s DiGiorno’s

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On general principle I don’t review frozen pizza, they’re all bad, but that doesn’t stop me from eating them occasionally. The worst pizza is still better than the best cauliflower dish and they’re so darned convenient.

One thing that does fascinate me about frozen pizza, and indeed about any frozen food, is the money and research that goes into the technology to improve the product. Pizza, in particular, has always been problematic. Frozen bread is tricky to begin with, but add a layer of topping and the problem is multiplied.

I tried DiGiorno’s rising crust pizza when it first came out, and really wasn’t impressed. (I never had another.) But curiosity got the best of me the other day when I saw DiGiorno’s new microwave rising crust. (Cooking a frozen pizza in an oven is hard enough, a microwave adds yet another obstacle.)

Late last night, I tried the first of four that I bought on sale.

As you can see from the pictures, they’ve developed an upper ring that sits over the crust, presumably this helps crisp the crust, although my initial thought was that it might prevent it from drying out.

Normally my microwave cooks things faster rather than longer than the recommended cook time, however, I programmed it to cook the longest length of recommended time.

The result: The center of the pizza was still refrigerator cold, the outer crust was somewhat blackened and had the taste and consistency of dried-out Play-Doh.

It’s going to be tough getting through all four pizzas.

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New Sofa, At Last


At last, our Ikea sofa set arrived today, and after hours of assembly (I’ll never remove those covers for cleaning) it was finally done.

While Irene is happy with the sofa (and I’m not displeased) the path to happiness wasn’t smooth.

Here’s the story of the Ikea fiasco associated with this sofa.

I was hoping to purchase and have the sofa delivered before Christmas as Irene’s present. For some months she’s been trying to get me to purchase a sofa set, and I’ve been putting it off with the idea of surprising her for Christmas.

There’s no way I could surprise her if I had to arrange for one of our friends to help me purchase and move the sofa, so I decided to bite the bullet and pay Ikea’s delivery charges.

I went to their website on about November 30th and was pleased to learn that if you buy from “Ikea Online” within the next three days you received a 10% discount. (On $1,400 worth of sofa, that’s nothing to sneeze at.) A coupon code was provided to get the 10%.

I went through the entire online order process with reasonable ease until I reached the end. At each step of the process, I expected an opportunity to use to coupon code, but it never materialized.

When I received the e-mail confirmation, no discount had been applied, and so for $140 I was willing to get on the phone and call.

After 45 minutes on hold (Is there a better argument for ordering online?) I got through to a very helpful operator who informed me that the 10% discount only applied to Ikea Online when you call on the phone. Their online ordering system can’t handle discounts.

They were at a critical juncture at this point and could have failed miserably when I said, “I’m on the phone to you now.”

And, sure enough, they gave me the discount; however, they had to cancel my old order and place the order again.

One minor snag, my order hadn’t shown up in the computer yet, (another shortcoming of their computer system) so they told me not to worry, just ignore any e-mail I might get about the first order. That wasn’t too comforting and visions of 2 sofa sets on Christmas morning were dancing through my head.

When the order was complete, I was given an estimated delivery date of December 21. I figured if they showed up on the 21st, it would be a bit early, but Irene would be able to show off for the party she was holding on the 24th.

Unfortunately, Irene finally decided that we just had to purchase the sofa before her party and I had to spill the beans. The secret wouldn’t have lasted because the bill showed up on the credit card statement long before the 21st.

The 21st came and went and the sofa set didn’t arrive. Irene, impatient, called Ikea only to find out that our order had been cancelled.

Why? Because we hadn’t paid.

When Irene pointed out that our credit card had been charged, they said, “Oh, yeah, that happens sometimes with our order system. I’ll put the order back in for you.”

Why do they bother to even have a computer system? It’s certainly not to reduce the amount of work their staff has to do, or that we had to do for that matter.

There was no way we’d get it before Christmas, but they did credit us back the delivery charges and “expedited” the order so we’d get it in about 1 week.

Needless to say, that was 2 weeks ago, but it did finally arrive today. The order was right, we ultimately paid less than we’d have paid at the Ikea store and delivery was free.

Despite all that, the best part is that both sections are big enough that I can stretch out. Ahhhhhhh.


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Fun With **** and Jane

I had to go to DMV the other day to transfer title on a new car and get my drivers’ license photo updated. As you can imagine, I had a while to enjoy the ambiance of the west side DMV.

One of the things they added sometime prior to 1998 (the last time I was at DMV) is a news-ticker in the lobby. Not only does it show headline news, but it also boasts about being part of some interstate DMV news network, connecting (I believe) 8 states. Why such a dedicated DMV newswire is needed as opposed to just a plain, ordinary newswire is not immediately clear.

Perhaps it is because the DMV network censors their news?!

Yes indeed, it’s true, and thank goodness, too. They protected me and my innocent children from seeing the name “Dick” used, in context, as a person’s name.

According to the DMV newswire, the top three movies last weekend were:

  • King Kong
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”
  • Fun With **** and Jane

Just to make sure I hadn’t missed some clever piece of marketing, I double-checked the Fun With Dick and Jane website to verify that there’s no punctuation or substitution for the name Dick. There isn’t.

I wonder in the Bureau of Vital Records ****s out the name Dick on children’s birth certificates these days?

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Considerate People

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I haven’t been feeling well the last few days, but we managed to get out for a while today and take Michelle to the park. It was such a nice day that it felt good to get out of the house and breathe some (almost) fresh air.

When we arrived at one of the playground areas it was empty except for two older people (one of whom is pictured here) going through the sandpit with metal detectors.

When I was a kid, my dad had a metal detector and, on one occasion, at a park near our old home in Tucson I found nearly $14 in coins. That was at least 25 years ago, and I suspect I was the first person to ever search that park because it certainly never happened again.

In any case, these people were going over the whole area diligently.

Of course, I’m not mentioning this to congratulate them on their perseverance. I’m mentioning it because as they detected things, they had nifty sand filtering shovels that made it easy for them to dig up the items and clean the sand off.

They didn’t find anything of value, just trash and such, which they promptly tossed back into the sandpit. The inconsiderate SOBs!

I went around after they left and picked up all the stuff they’d uncovered and put it in the trash. It would have been so easy for them, but it probably never occurred to them to do something for somebody else.

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Chick-Fil-A Lays an Egg

One of my favorite places to eat chicken is Chick-Fil-A. Generally, my only real complaint with them is that they’re run by fanatics and so they’re closed on Sundays. I think Sunday is a prime chicken-eating day, but it’s their revenue to loose, I suppose.

However, today, they’ve probably lost a customer.

Ever year, for the past several years, my wife and I have purchased the annual Chick-Fil-A calendar. At $5 it has contained coupons that we use far in excess of the cost.

Tonight was our first trip to Chick-Fil-A since our return from Taiwan. The new 2006 calendars are out and we purchased one knowing that we always get our value out of it. When we got it back to our seats, we realized it’s crap this year.

8 out of the 12 months the only thing you get is a drink. 7 of those are with purchase of something else.

The other 4 months are mostly side items, half of those again are with purchase of something else.

Compare that to last year:

  • Free Sandwich
  • Free Bowl of Soup
  • Free Chicken Nuggets
  • Free Bottle of water with purchase of sandwich (that’s a naff one)
  • Free Kids meal with purchase of combo
  • Free drink with purchase of chicken wrap (naff)
  • Free sandwich with purchase of fruit and drink
  • Free salad with purchase of drink
  • Free biscuit or free chicken salad sandwich
  • Free chicken strips with purchase of fries
  • Free ice cream or brownie
  • Free large coke

Not all of those are winners, but 6 of them are free without purchase of anything else, most of the other 6 are free items with purchase of lesser value item.

In the past it’s been a great deal, but this one is just nearly worthless. So, minutes after buying it we took it back up front, but the minion up front wouldn’t allow us to return it, and he essentially barred us from talking to a manager about the situation.

Now if I’d gotten a crap sandwich from them, I’d damned well expect them to refund my money. I don’t see this as any different.

Actually, it is different, because the minion working up front thought he knew best how to deal with customers, now the manager and corporate management are getting a direct letter from me and have lost a long-time customer.

Smooth move, Joey at Metrocenter, perhaps a job at an egg testing place would be better suited for you.

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Cadina Pizza Hut Pepperoni Pizza Flavor Chips


Whenever I see something that supposedly has “pizza flavor” I know it is a mistake, and yet, hope springs eternal.

This little potato chip snack achieved new levels of horrid taste. It was absolutely repellant, and the flavor just kept getting worse after you’d finished eating.

It was if some toxic substance was lining your mouth and decomposing into new and more awful tastes with each passing minute.

I could only eat 2 of these chips. Michelle wouldn’t take a second bite.

Negative 5 on a scale of zero to five.

The Great Chinese Medicine Scam

During the night, I had an epiphany. It came with the sound of something not unlike a piece of hard plastic, like a bead, being ricocheted off the wall and then bouncing across a wooden floor.

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that noise tonight either.

It was the noise of the cough drop that was in my mouth being shot out during a coughing fit as if it had come out of an air gun.

The air had been so bad all day that this was the worst night of coughing yet, and apart from it being damned annoying and tiresome, it keeps waking the baby.

I fumbled around in the medicine pouch in the dark and came across a package of Halls cough drops we’d brought from the States. I popped it in my mouth and within 5 minutes my coughing was over. Greatly relieved and trying to blot out the sound of James screaming, I began to ponder the imponderable.

Why do people believe in crackpot things? What is the inherent gullibility in human beings to believe complete and utter crap without a single shred of tangible proof?

First off, most of the rubbish people believe has been handed to them by their
parents, who in turn were brainwashed by theirs, and so on. (And beware the truly fanatical crackpots who come upon their crack-pottery without the benefit of parental brainwashing!)

In the case of Chinese Medicine, it’s a whole lot of parents and, I’m now convinced, an enormous conspiracy brewed up by its practitioners.

Consider the following evidence.

If you have a cold or flu, Dayquil and Nyquil work! Although they don’t cure a cold or flu, they lessen the symptoms to make it more manageable (and no, I’m not a shill for the ‘Quils.)

You can’t find it in Taiwan. What you can find is “Panadol Cold and Flu”. It has similar ingredients to Dayquil, and it makes similar claims, but it doesn’t work! (Or if it does work at all, it doesn’t work a tenth as well – from my own experience.)

Or these cough drops – they’re made by Robitussin (more on that later) but they just don’t do anything, yet the Halls – which I can’t find here – work almost instantly.

And then there’s Robitussin DM cough syrup. There’s a big name US medicine that you can find in Taiwan. One of the few.

As far as I can tell, Robitussin has never worked anywhere. Whenever I take the stuff, I cough worse for the next 30 minutes. I’ve experienced this for years, and it’s only the wildest of optimism (or the doctor’s orders) that gets me to take it again. Time and time again, it doesn’t work.

So, what’s the conclusion? Chinese traditional medicine practitioners (I daren’t use the word “doctors”) has somehow managed to only allow western medicine into Taiwan that doesn’t work!

After you’ve tried this so-called western medicine a few times without success, having a mechanically-applied hickey or some burning roots waved around under your feet doesn’t sound so insane.

Pizza Vending Machine

This website jut proves my point: No one has a flipping clue what good pizza tastes like! I can guarantee it isn’t coming out of a vending machine! This will be nothing more than a refrigerated frozen-type pizza warmed either by microwave (the worst) or toaster over (almost as bad.)

Just goes to show: Food sells due to marketing, not quality or taste!

The innovative machine holds, cooks and serves 9″ whole pizza pies in just 2 minutes. There are 3 different pizzas available in each machine at one time. Maybe it’s this type of “forward” thinking that has led to america’s ever expanding waistline…

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