Thursday, April 30, 2009

new job starting soon, good Monster deals???, seesawing economy

Ahoy out there! It's been I guess about a week since my last blog so off with the lid, and away we go.

Jenny will be starting her new job next Monday, which means that she has about 3.5 more days of freedom before she jumps back into the workforce. She's enjoying a relaxing week off, and of course nervous about starting the new job, but Penny, our dog, is ready for her to start... Much like people, Penny has no problem letting you know when you're disturbing her rest. She'll let out a *sigh*, followed by putting her head down, or if particularly perturbed, walking out of the room while looking back accusingly whenever she gets annoyed. This happens enough even when we're both at work most of the week, but with Jenny being home and interfering with her naptime, I hear that Penny is running out of patience. What a rough life this dog must live!

Many of you non-geeks have probably never heard of Monster Cable, but it's a company that sells cables for audio and video components. Their cables are, by all reasonable accounts, SEVERELY overpriced. I mean, $275 for a cable to connect your Blu-Ray player to your HDTV? Gee, doesn't it do the exact same thing as this $25 cable? (answer: yes, yes it does.) Anyway, they have issued a press release, stating that they will be lowering prices on their cables to make them more accessible to people in the economic recession. Wow...I wonder what the $275 cable that functions the same as a $25 cable used to cost??? Please note that I am in no way arguing that Monster Cables are of inferior quality- they are quite good quality. But if I'm paying an extra $250 for a cable, I'd like a free Blu-Ray player with it at least.

I've noticed that people I know who have lost jobs are starting to get interviews and even job offers, which is great. On the other hand, the news still seems to paint the picture as pretty sour. What do you think- is the economy improving? Or are we in for a long and wild ride still?


Friday, April 24, 2009

Joke- difference between regular Americans and congress

This joke was forwarded to me in an email, and I thought it was pretty funny, so I decided to share:

One Monday, a florist went to a barber for a haircut.

After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later on Tuesday, a cop came in for a haircut, and when he tried to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Later on Wednesday, a college professor came in for a haircut, and when he tried to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The professor was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen different

books, such as 'How To Improve Your Business' and 'Becoming More Successful.'

Then on Thursday, a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay the bill the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The Congressman was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the members of our Congress.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

hip hip hooray

Sorry everyone for the radio silence. My wife wanted me to wait on announcing that she got a new permanent position until after she had a chance to tell people (which is only fair, considering that it is her job). So, umm, yeah, my wife got a new permanent position! I don't want to talk specifics, as I've read too many stories about "I talked about my job online, and they fired me for it", but I will say that it's a somewhat HR job at a company that does HR, so that's good. The bad is that it's a substantial pay cut from her previous position, and there's a definite possibility of having to work some to many weekends in the near future. However, it's a company that we've heard good things about, and it's big enough that there should be plenty of advancement opportunities down the road. And, it's a permanent position. So, yeah, we're pretty stoked.

I want to say first and foremost, thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to everyone who offered us assistance, whether it was job leads, networking, taking us out for food and entertainment, or ordering a huge box of tasty goodness delivered from Omaha Steaks. Thank you to everyone who has just simply read this blog. It has provided me with an excellent outlet to release frustrations, aggressions and my thoughts.

I'm trying to decide if I should continue the blog or not. I'm considering continuing it, but updating on a less frequent basis, maybe once per week or so. And maybe branching out a bit in terms of subject matter, who knows? Anyway, here's hoping Jenny's new job goes well and grants her new opportunities, and here's hoping for the economy in general to improve, and soon!!! Just keeping up on my Facebook page, I am aware that quite a few of my friends have been laid off and are still searching, so please keep them in your thoughts as well!


Friday, April 17, 2009

FIX IT, and VP Joe Biden visits St. Louis

I've been so long-winded lately, I'll try to keep this one short, and go easy on the anger.

I saw a funny video posted on a friend's blog, and it's perfect for my blog, so I'm going to go the 'immitation is the sincerest form of flattery' route and post it myself. it's a clip from Saturday Night Live, and I found it to be very funny.

I also wanted to mention, for those of you who didn't catch it, that Vice President Joe Biden was in St. Louis today, specifically on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He came by to speak as part of the Middle Class Task Force, and he spoke about affordable higher eduction. While I was merely a stone's throw away at the time, attendance tickets were very limited, so I did not get the chance to be personally enlightened.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Heather's response to my earlier blog

First off, if you haven't gotten a chance to read last night's blog post, be sure to read that, below. This one isn't the "new blog" promised last night.

I wanted to mention that on the blog post entitled "Still Waiting, Celtic Woman, Easter and Christianity", I received an excellent response regarding Christianity from Heather. I have since responded to her comment with further thoughts as well. So, if you are interested in the religious aspect of that post, please be sure to check out the comments section for more discussion, and please feel free to add to the discussion yourself, regardless of your personal spiritual point of view!

I also wanted to mention that, to be honest, at times I wish I could have an unwavering faith in everything Christianity teaches- I think it would certainly make things easier on me to be a "mainstream Christian".


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

job search update, credit card rate increases, Tea party

OK, now that I've probably upset my very Christian parents with my religious admissions in the last blog, on to something else...

While Jenny still has not heard back from option 1 (the one she should have heard back from over a week ago now), she did do a face-to-face with another option today, and they told her that they would like her to come back for a second face-to-face next week. So, good job today, Jenny! Not exactly a high-powered (or -paying) position, but it's a great chance to get her foot in the door at a good company for once *cough*. She is also partway through week 2 of her temporary data entry job, and they want her back for at least another week. Not great pay, and she hates data entry, but it's still better than unemployment. They really like her work, so maybe that will pan out into something else interesting, who knows?

I heard on the news this morning that a lot of big banks are drastically increasing the interest rates on their credit cards, as much as a 100% increase. And these are the same banks that received bailout money from taxpayers. So, yeah, the companies are taking our money to remain afloat, since they're "too big to fail", and then they're taking our money to remain afloat a second time by doubling up interest rates on credit cards. Gee, I wonder who could be affected by huge interest rate jumps on credit cards? Maybe the poor and the working class, who can't afford big purchases outright? The people who are losing their homes because they can no longer afford their mortgages? Here's hoping our government puts their foot down on these companies for this, yet another 'screw-our-customers-while-we-get-rich' business idea.

Next off, how many of you have heard of the TEA Party going on today? The TEA Party, short for Taxed Enough Already, and set to mimic the Boston Tea Party, is a protest not of taxes, but of what the government does with our tax money. Protesters voiced concerns over rampant government spending as our tax dollars are used to bail out companies and to try and stimulate the economy. I really don't know what to think about this. I mean, on the one hand, it's absolutely sickening to think about how much money is being spent in efforts to fix the economy- money that puts us further into debt, making us look even more to the rest of the world like a bad credit risk. On the other hand, if that's what it takes to get us out of this mess, then so be it. Deficit spending certainly seemed to help with the Great did World War II. But let's get back to a balanced budget as soon as we can once the economy picks up. So, what do you think??

One fun note- for those of you who haven't seen the video, there is a clip from Britain's Got Talent making the rounds. It's a woman who everyone, judges included, expects to make a huge fool of herself on the talent show, but, well, that doesn't exactly happen.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Still waiting, Celtic Woman, Easter and Christianity

After the past couple of political rant blogs, I figured I'd go back to a more intimate perspective for this one. Oh, and good news- I noticed that you can open up comments for anonymous posters too, so now you can comment even if you don't have a google account. So, well, that is at least one less excuse not to comment... Anyway, We're still waiting to hear back from the one possibility that I spoke of last week- the interview process is evidently not finalized yet, so, well, here's hoping. There is also another possibility for a face-to-face that has opened up, so I'll try to keep you apprised on that possibility as well. In the meantime, we're doing good with saving money, but we did splurge on a cheap dinner Saturday night. I promised my wife that as payment for doing the data entry temp job, since that is more money that unemployment would bring in, we'd go out to dinner at the end of each week that she worked.

So on to the Celtic Woman concert (which, I might add, was paid for back in December, so it was not a recent splurge). First off, here they are...

For my male readers- Wow, right? But I digress- on to the concert. I had built up such high expectations that I was really concerned that I would come out of the concert a bit let down. Fortunately, that was not the case. The only letdown for me was that we were further away from the stage than I had hoped. I mean, we bought the most expensive tickets, and we were on the ground level, very close to center, but we were rather far back on the ground level. Hmm....
At any rate, the show was fantastic, and to my surprise, about 2/3 of the songs were from the A New Journey DVD. This was a good thing, because that meant that we already knew a lot of the songs. They even performed my favorite, At the Ceili. Of their new songs, my favorite was Isle of Hope, which is also the name of the tour. Overall, a great experience, and a nice escape from the pressures of everyday life.

Since yesterday was Easter, I figured I'd throw mention that as well. Jenny and I went to church with some of my family. We're the oft-lamented Christmas-and-Easter Christians, so that's not something we do very often. Our personal spiritualities just don't center around church-going, and we both very much question the message of many modern Christian churches that you have the choice of either accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior or spending an eternity burning in the eternal torment of Hell. That just doesn't jive with "God is Love". I mean, if "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" to save us, then why would this loving God condemn millions of people to eternal damnation for, quite simply, missing the boat? I mean, if I happened to grew up Muslim, and never got around to question my beliefs, that could be me burning in Hell for eternity, right? Yeah, that just doesn't make much sense to me. Not to say that I don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Ressurection and all that; I mean, a loving God certainly would send his Son to die for the world, to create an easy path to salvation. But if Heaven is a very exclusive club, consisting only of members whose core belief is that they are the chosen ones and the vast majority of the world just didn't make the cut, that just doesn't sound much like Heaven to me. We do want our kids to attend a Christian church of some sort, but probably one that is less exclusive than the Baptist (me) and Catholic (Jenny) churches that we grew up in.

Anyway, on to other parts of the day. Jenny and I visited my Grandma right after church. She has spinal stenosis, which I gather is not much fun (as an understatement). It's essentially constant severe pain in the back. Which makes my constant not-so-severe pain in the back probably seem like a walk in the park. My Grandma will be having surgery tomorrow to hopefully significantly lessen the pain, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

After that, we went to another Grandma's house (my step-dad's father's second wife, to be specific), for lunch and depressing conversation. Well, the depressing conversation wasn't a given by any means, but that's certainly what the visit entailed. Between my Grandma's back, my Aunt's slew of health problems, cousins' health problems, and altogether general malaise of the world, conversation wasn't particularly bright or peppy. Less I sound like a grouch, I did enjoy the visit. I just wished that there were more positive things to talk about.

Well, this has already turned into quite a long post, so I'll bid you adieu. Just remember, you can now COMMENT anonymously!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to your new job, Mr. President!

I submitted this picture to an online contest for "When wishes come true, with disastrous results". I decided to go for the disastrous results of Barack Obama's wish to become president.
Please note, I don't mean that his presidency has been disastrous, just the situation in which he now finds himself.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Well, another day, and still no call back from the one company where we thought Jenny had a really good chance at getting a job. The interviews went great, we were told a decision would take two weeks, and 2.5 weeks later, we're still waiting. And losing hope. Rapidly. Not hearing back within two weeks- not a good sign. And did I mention that there are NO other prospects whatsoever right now? Sure, she's still applying for jobs like our well-being depends on it (oh, wait, it does), but no calls are coming in. Jenny is so frustrated right now. And I think she is starting to lose faith in herself. After all, she went from being a successful manager at a company that she was with for over five years, to companies showing no interest in her whatsoever now even for jobs that she is over-qualified for. And yeah, she is required by Missouri Unemployment to apply for at least 3 jobs per day, so that comes to at least 21 jobs per week, and no calls coming in at all?

For my part, I am starting to get really angry. I am very angry at the ridiculous "too big to fail" companies whose executives, due to greed and greed alone, made bad investment after bad investment. The executives knew things would eventually crash and burn, but every last one of those clowns became millionaires many times over in the process of destroying our economy with bad investments. Those crooks are sitting pretty in their million dollar mansions, laughing as the peons scramble just to survive.

I am very angry at our government officials, who are so corrupt that it's merely a joke (A corrupt politician walks into a bar...Oh, wait, you've heard this one before?) These clowns don't have their constituents' best interests in mind, just their own. These government officials go to bed with these big corporations, taking huge payouts, but we're the ones getting screwed. And if you want something to really blow you away, take a look-see at where US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson worked before President Bush nominated him to the agency that regulates too-big-to-fail companies. But Hank Paulson didn't single-handedly blow up the economy any more than George W. Bush did- it took the concentrated greed of a lot of business executives and a lot of government officials to screw us up this badly.

So what do we do? Well, we can start by holding these greedy clowns (wow, I sound so cartoonish when I edit the words that I'm really thinking for appropriateness) accountable for their actions. We are in the mess that we are in now because big business and our own government are very corrupt. The Republican party and the Democratic party are full of corrupt politicians, and we deserve better. We can no longer afford to blindly elect our officials- we need to know who and what we are voting for, and we need to VOTE. Forget party lines, vote for the Independent candidate to can't afford a national TV campaign because he's not taking kickbacks from corporations, if that's what it takes. And these humungous corporations are full of corrupt executives, and we deserve better. You can vote them out too- support your smaller, local companies.

Well, that's all for now. Sorry for the ranting, but seeing my wife so miserable just makes me so angry at the people who put her there. And yes, I am purposely leaving her previous employer out of this, even though that requires quite possibly the biggest self-editing of all...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...the one-eyed man is king

This post might come across as incendiary and ill-conceived , so if you need to take a moment to gather your pitchforks and light your torches, please do so now. I'll start off by coddling popular opinion, in an effort to deceive you into getting to the "what is he thinking?" stuff...

I will freely admit that George W. Bush, as President of the United States, had an excellent opportunity to make our country a better place- and failed. The country did not get better during his tenure in office, it got worse. Any arguments yet? Didn't think so. We are now in the worst economic decline since the 1930's, and the Bush administration failed to prevent this from happening. Of course, the Bush administration is only one part of the puzzle, and I think it is grossly unfair to place all of the blame for our current mess on one person. After all, our political system is divided into three branches for a reason. And nobody prevented this decline of our country- not the President, not Congress, not businesses, not the American people.

So, what happened? I heard an interesting idea presented a few days ago, while attending a "Final Four" party. This in no way covers everything that is wrong with our system, but hey, it's a start. The idea was brought forth that elected government officials should wear suits similar to those of race car drivers, loaded up with sponsor logos, so that the American people can know exactly which companies have bought them. When you think about it, it makes sense- you need a lot of money to run for office, and that money comes from campaign contributions. Those campaign contributions are NOT FREE. Sure, our elected officials are thankful for the votes that officially put them in office, but they also know where the money came from. They have promises to fulfill, and not just to their constituents, but to those who funded their way into office. One of my favorite quotes comes from Douglas Adams, in his book the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job". That goes for any elected official who needs serious campaign contributions to get into office.

Still with me? Good. Now get those pitchforks ready... I received a free subscription to Rolling Stone recently, and I have gotten maybe 8 or 9 issues. It really blew me away just how politically biased Rolling Stone is. You see, they get it- they understand that the Republican party is inundated with greedy liars who care more about themselves than the good of the country, and they often burn George W. Bush in literary effigy for his role as king of the party for 8 years. But then in the same breath, they espouse the virtues of the Democratic party and everyone in it, hoisting President Obama on high as THE ANSWER to all of our problems, because not only is he the King of the Party that is Right and Just, but he is quite possibly the Greatest Man Who Has Ever Lived.

(catch your breath if you must).

I just don't get it. I mean, how can you see right through the lies of the Republican party, but then buy the lies of the Democratic party hook, line and sinker? I hope I'm wrong here. I REALLY hope I'm wrong, and that President Obama rocks our political system to the very core. I really hope that President Obama and the Democratic party bring forth the change we need, and bring our country and our world to a much better place. But you won't catch me holding my breath...

So...should I be on the lookout for flying tomatoes?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Temp jobs, Aldi's, Celtic Woman, and Check Engine Lights

I was a bit worried after Wednesday's post, where I found myself scrambling around a bit to come up with topics for the blog. Was I running out of ideas? Could i really only come up with a couple of weeks of posts on something as big as the recession? Well, I've got a few ready topics this time around, so hopefully Wednesday was just an 'off' day.

Jenny got a temp job through one of the temp agencies that she has applied at. She will be doing data entry work for a company for the next "1-2 weeks, maybe more". She is not exactly excited about doing data entry 8 hours a day, but I think she realizes that this is a great opportunity for her to prove to the temp agency and the company she will be working at for the next couple of weeks that she is a hard worker with a lot of great skills and ideas. Who knows, maybe this could lead to her next permanent job? If nothing else, the pay will be better than unemployment, and the unemployment well will dry up that much later, so I think this is definitely a positive.

I forgot to mention in Wednesday's post that, based on getting multiple suggestions to the effect, we shopped at Aldi's last Sunday. Jenny was a bit miffed the whole time we were there, being accustomed to shopping at 'ritzy' Schnucks. But the simple truth is that, as she mentioned afterward, every single item that we bought at Aldi's, milk included, came in at under $2.00. The store was also clean, much less crowded than Schnuck's, and we were able to get about 80% of our groceries from them. Overall, a positive experience, so I'm sure we'll be going back.

I am happy to report that my Check Engine light has turned off. I had tried to disconnect the battery, as suggested by quite a few people, but either I'm completely incompetent under the hood of a car (the most likely scenario), or my battery terminal screws are a size somewhere in between both 7/16" and 1/2" and 11mm and 12mm. I swear to you, 7/16" and 11mm were both too small, and 1/2" and 12mm were both too big!

In closing, I wanted to mention a concert that Jenny and I will be attending next weekend- Celtic Woman, at the Fox Theatre. I was searching for Celtic music on one day, happened across this DVD, which had the surprising combination of more than 300 reviews and a 5-star rating. Usually, when you get that many ratings on, even the good stuff tends toward 4 or 4.5. So, i took a chance, got the DVD for Christmas, and immediately fell in love. A few days after Christmas, I bought two orchestra pit seats to their show on April 11. I am REALLY excited about seeing Celtic woman live, having been so blown away by the DVD. If you're interested in checking them out, but you're not ready to commit to buying a DVD, they have plenty of videos available on Youtube.

Well, that's it for now. We have a busy weekend ahead of us, with a "Final Four" party on Saturday at our friends' house, and a dinner on Sunday. See ya! Oh, and I'd love to see some more comments here. Blogspot doesn't track views, so I have no idea how many (or few) readers I have.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bleeding Blue, Get the door, its...oops, the Global crisis, Stimulus bonus

Here on the homefront, well, we're just waiting and hoping right now. After the two initial positive instances, we haven't gotten any calls from other interested parties. This despite a lot of applications being sent in, so that's a bit of a letdown. But, the harsh reality is that there is a lot of competition out there for jobs right now.

On a fun note, I went to the St. Louis Blues game on Saturday night. A buddy of mine got some free tickets from his employer, so it didn't cost us anything. In fact, not only were the tickets free, but they were very good ones too- just about at center ice, down on the first level, and in the "Club" section, where the chairs are leather(ette?) and the ticket price includes all you can eat and drink, beer included. And the game was really good too, going into overtime before the Blues won. So, yeah, that was pretty sweet!

Yesterday, Domino's Pizza got caught in a mistake. What was it? A customer happened upon a coupon code that was never greenlit for use- one free 1-topping medium pizza, for carryout only. That's right, one FREE medium pizza. About mid-morning yesterday, corporate pulled the plug on the coupon, but they ended up giving away 11,000 free pizzas by that time. Yours truly even got one, and boy does free taste good! Remember those deals websites I mentioned last week? I found this deal on spoofee.

Here in the US, I think we often tend not to think about what goes on in the rest of the world. But there are a lot of countries out there that are very upset with us right now, not due to the War on Terror, or the Iraq war, or Afghanistan, Guantanimo, should I go on? Nope, they're mad at us because of the global impacts of our economic crisis. Of course, not everyone blames just the US, and the US in all fairness should not, in my opinion, be held solely to blame for the worldwide problems. In any event, there's quite a bit of information out there about the G20 Summit protests going on if you're interested in the topic. Oh, and I even grabbed some pictures for ya, courtesy

On another topic, here's a good article talking about the stimulus money that will soon be making its way into our paychecks. It has some good information about certain risk factors, so I think it's a good read.

That's all I've got for now. Sorry for the delay in updating; my long weekend threw me off a bit.