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Remember When the Economy Started to Tank? Part 2

07/29/2010 1 comment

Earlier I discussed the cable companies and some impact they have had on the economy. In this section I want to bring to light another factor…. postpay cellular service providers.

I used to sell cell phone services working for an electronics chain…who knows exactly how many contracts I signed people up for in the 5 years I was with them, but it was easily over a thousand or so. I feel bad now for that, especially if any of them ran into financial problems later down the road while still under contract.

I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I HATE my cellular company…I would rather have an intestinal virus than sign another agreement with them. I won’t name them, but Rule The Air seems to be their attitude lately. I was with Sprint for 8 years and I loved them. The only reason I had to give them up was because I had moved from the city to the country and they didn’t have coverage out there yet. Now, I’m back in the city, and wish I still had Sprint.

I have been trying to downgrade my plan because I text much more than I talk on the cell phone. Here are the pricing options available to me by my service provider for a single line.

Anytime
Minutes
Voice & Text Minutes Only
450 $59.99 $39.99
900 $79.99 $59.99
Unlimited $89.99 $69.99

Back in the Day, which in the cellular world can mean as far back as 6 weeks ago, they used to have this 200 minute plan for less than $25. This was the plan that we would put Senior Citizens on because they just wanted something for traveling and emergencies. They don’t have that anymore. It turns out, that I am on the lowest voice plan available. This is useless to me. I am being forced to pay too much for services I don’t fully use. They have a system in place if I use too many minutes – overage charges, but I pay the same amount if I use 50 minutes or 400 minutes if I don’t use all of them.

Total Local, State and Federal Effective Telecommunications Taxes Compared with General Business Taxes by State, 2004
State Effective General Business Taxes Effective Telecommunications Taxes
VA 4.50% 33.77%
MD 5.00% 31.31%
TX 8.25% 29.29%
NE 6.50% 29.22%
MO 6.92% 27.79%
WV 6.00% 27.46%
KS 6.75% 26.33%
IL 8.00% 24.95%
MI 6.00% 24.15%
OK 8.45% 23.97%
Tax rates provided by Tax Foundation Blog site at http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/435.html

Extra fees on top of the taxes…I also discovered that the extra fees put in the bill on top of Fed and State taxes are not required. My Agreement says that I:

“agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. Our charges include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren’t taxes, they aren’t required by law“.

I’m sorry, but in the old days when this nation was building itself, this was called a Cost of Doing Business that you had to absorb. The way around that is to incorporate these expenses into your price that consumers pay, but don’t necessarily tell them about it. The reason cellular companies don’t do this is because its the monthly plan prices that that are advertised and that have to stay competitive. They wouldn’t look competitive if these fees were added into your service, so in a sense, you are entering an agreement without a full disclosure of fees charged that the Service Provider will tack on. There is no way of knowing these fees until you are already involved into an agreement. After all, your first bill is normally pro-rated, so you won’t see a full bill until after 30 days. By then, you’re locked in…or are you?

Here are my charges for the $39.99 Minutes plan from above. Keep in   mind I also receive a 19% discount off my plan because of my employer:

Monthly Access Charges
These are your fixed monthly charges that are based on your Plan and Optional Services. If you change your plans or services during the month, an adjusted charge that includes partial month charges or credits, may appear on your bill.
$45.38
Nationwide Talk 450 07/23 – 08/22
39.99
19% Access Discount 07/23 – 08/22
-7.60
500 MSG Allowance + UNL IN MSG 07/23 – 08/22
10.00
Visual Voice Mail 07/23 – 08/22
2.99

Usage Charges
These are your variable charges that depend on whether you have used any services that are billed on a per-use basis, or have exceeded any monthly allowance included in your Plan or Optional Services.
$1.99

Voice Usage

The “Voice” section of your bill Includes charges for voice calls, including calls that exceed your Plan’s minute allowances, 411 Search, Long Distance and other calls.
Allowance Used Billable Charge
Calling Plan minutes 450 15
Mobile to Mobile minutes unlimited 93
Total Voice Charges $.00
Data Usage

The “Data” section of your bill includes charges for:

  1. Messages (text, picture and video) sent and received
  2. Downloads (charges related to downloading applications, e.g. games or ringtones)
  3. MB usage (megabytes used for other data services, e.g. web browsing, alerts, emails)
Allowance Used Billable Charge
Unlimited M2M TXT messages unlimited 277
Unlimited M2M PIX-FLIX messages unlimited 2
TXT/PIX-FLIX messages 500 226
Downloads downloads 1 1
Megabyte Usage megabytes 1 1 1.99
Total Data Charges $1.99

X Company Surcharges and Fees, Other Charges and Credits
X Company Surcharges – Includes charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us by the government. Other Charges and Credits – includes charges for products and services, and credits owing.
$4.96
Fed Universal Service Charge
.87
Regulatory Charge
.16
Administrative Charge
.83
Omaha City Occupation Surchg
3.10
Taxes, Surcharges, and other Governmental Fees
Includes sales, excise and other taxes and governmental surcharges and fees that we are required by law to bill customers.
$6.14
Enhance Wireless 911 Surcharge
.50
NE Dual-Party Relay Surcharge
.05
NE Universal Service
2.06
NE State Sales Tax
2.77
Omaha City Sales Tax
.76
Total Charges for (402-XXX-XXXX) $58.47

As you can see by my usage, I am overpaying for voice usage, and have to pay extra for text and M2M unlimited, where my main activity occurs. They do not have any other plan profile to fit what I do. I think that this is unfair, but I’m under contract. when I originally signed up, a plan like this would work, but my usage has decreased considerably from where it was even 2 years ago.

I am going to be contacting my provider soon as I have been trying to calculate the NE state sales tax and Omaha City sales taxes being charged and it appears that they may be overcharging. I will let you know how that goes after I do so. I have a feeling it will be a long phone call when I ask them to tell me what part of my balance is subject to the sales taxes and what rate are they charging.

I have also sent an email to one of our state senators who has been working on a study of cellular taxes and hope to hear back from her soon.

Yesterday, I decided to review the Service Agreement (Contract) I have with them. I realized I never really did read it through when I first signed up. I discovered some interesting things in that agreement.

“If you’re a Prepaid customer, you may replenish your balance at any time before the expiration date by providing us with another payment. Your balance may not exceed $1,000 and you may be prevented from replenishing if your balance reaches $1,000. We will suspend service when your account reaches the expiration date and any unused balance will be forfeited.”

this doesn’t apply to me, I just found it interesting. If you prepay your services and you reach a $1000 credit balance because of what you paid them, they will stop taking your prepayments, shut down your service, and keep the balance?

“If you’re a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no early termination fee.”

This relates to changes made, that my company says will provide a written notice for, but in the almost 4 years, I haven’t seen a written notice. I opt for paperless billing, so I pay my bill over the phone or through email invoice links, so I don’t even see anything that may be written on the website. If I’m late making a payment, I get a text message that tells me to contact them to avoid service interruption, but have never received an email notice or a text message telling me that my Service Agreement has changed. Current online version indicates it was updated May 10, 2010.  I wonder how many updates have been made to this online version since I originally started using their services in 2007? They should be required to send the free text message to users that use online/paperless billing to alert of new changes to Service Agreements. They do it to collect money for late payers, why not for changes to the contract? If they haven’t notified me in writing, does that make me ineligible to cancel anything?

My early termination fee is $175 since I have a standard fancy phone. If i had one of those fancy phones that makes toast and programs nuclear devices in other countries, my ETF would be $350. Something I didn’t know, was that for every month of my agreement that I successfully complete, they deduct $5 off of the ETF…this means I could pay my current bill and give them $85 instead of $175 and be done with them…I never knew this before.

I contacted my cellular company via instant chat online a few weeks ago and verified the end date of my agreement, Feb 2, 2011. I asked if there was anyway they could note the account so that service would shut off without incurring an additional few days or weeks of prorated charges. She said no, that I would have to call and cancel when I was ready. As long as I did that before Feb 2nd, it would be ok. I set an event reminder in my cell phone’s calendar tool to give me an alert alarm reminding me that that was approaching. I’m not going to miss out on this.

In Part 3 I will wrap up the bringing of the two industries together and the impact they have on the family budget during this recession, what changes could be made for better customer experiences and to bring them into a light of being better corporate citizens. I also am going to go back and do this same bill analysis with my cable bill in Part 1 by the end of this week, so keep checking back on it as well to see what happens.

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What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas…(if you can get there)

12/19/2008 Leave a comment

I was asked by my friend Julie to drive her and her husband Jeff to the airport this morning to make a 5 am flight with NorthWest Airlines. This was a huge event for them as it was a combination Christmas present for him and a birthday present for her. There were several weeks put into planning this trip.

If I remember correctly, the itinerary involved flying out of Omaha to Minneapolis via Northwest Airlines. Then from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. From LasVegas, they had a rental car waiting for them to drive to San Diego, CA to meet up with her dad for the first holiday spent together since she was 8 yrs old.  After some time in San Diego, they would drive back to Vegas for a few days. She managed to land 5th row tickets to see The Mindfreak Chris Angel on her birthday. They would then fly back on Christmas Eve.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

Let me back up a little for the evening.

We spent Wednesday night at Mic’s Karaoke Bar singing and celebrating a makeshift birthday party for Julie. There was food, drinks, some dancing, and singing. I also forgot to mention that our first decent winter storm warning was in effect and the sleet had already begun to fall and accumulate into a respectable amount of frozen slush on the streets.  In fact, we probably shouldn’t have even went out to the bar, but nonetheless we did. It was that type of weather that told all of the new first time SUV drivers that they were invincible and needed to drive across town 3 or 4 times before going to bed for the night.

Logic also says that if you have to take someone to the airport to make a 5 am flight, that you shouldn’t be out drinking late either. But nonetheless…I did. I made it back home around 1 am without any major problems. Roads were ice and snow covered. This is when I absolutely treasure my little Land Rover. Never been stuck in the snow, went off road accidentally. It handles the snow much better than 90% of the vehicles out there.

I get a call from Julie around 1:15am. She asks me to check flight information on the Internet to make sure their flight was still leaving on time. I did….and it was. We then realized that I would have to be leaving my apartment in about an hour to go get them.

I stop and get gas, and arrive at their house a couple miles away. Load up the luggage and off we go. Now at this point, driving conditions are less than favorable. I am driving confidently though knowing how my car does in the snow. Julie is sitting in the passenger seat and is hiding her face talking about how she wants to go to sleep because she is not in control of the vehicle in the weather. I remind her of the 36K miles I put on my Humvee during Desert Storm and have driven in almost every weather and terrain condition presented to a human and 99.8% of the time did not have a problem ( I did get my Humvee stuck bottomed out on top of a dirt berm in Kuwait, but that was the Captain’s fault for telling me to go that route).

We arrive safely at the airport around 3:30am. I drop them at the curb and I go back around to park in the garage. I go into the 75 cent Quick Park area. I figured I wouldn’t be there for longer than 90 minutes or so. Julie had given me a $5 to cover the garage parking. I haed inside and meet them at NorthWest’s ticket counter where there is a small line formed. We chat about things in general. They get to the counter and I head back towards to other side of the room to wait. Julie comes walking back with a smirk on her face.

“The flight has been cancelled because they don’t have a flight crew for it. They booked us with American Airlines so now we have to go stand in their line.”

We look over at American’s counter, where there was no line…nor any employees. They weren’t there to conduct business for the day yet. Julie explains that they now have to fly from Omaha at 11 am to Dallas and then to LA which will then connect them to Vegas (where they would then turn around and drive back to California as part of their original plan). They would arrive in Vegas around 5pm instead of 7am like originally planned. This plan will cost them one entire day of their short trip.

The American rep finally shows up around 4:15. She already is apologizing to everyone for the delay, and then advises that she will be the only agent for awhile because the other agent is stuck in snow on her way to work. Luckily Julie was one of the first in line for American. She comes storming back to me, even more frustrated.

“Northwest overbooked the American flight, so they’re sending me back to the Northwest line.” Which by now the line had tripled in length.

Jeff  moved their bags into line while Julie got  on her cell phone to call Northwest’s phone lines to try to get a resolution. I pulled my cell phone out and did that too. I was standing with Jeff in line. Two others in line had caught wind of this and they also called on their cell phones. We had 5 people in line all trying to get a rep on the phone, which we were advised that the average hold time wait would be 8 minutes. Bullshit. We all found some humor that we were all synced perfectly with the hold music and messages and started turning on the speakerphones to compare. We watched as 5 am came and went.

Now the annoying part started. Northwest started calling for travelers that were scheduled to be on the 7 am flight to Minneapolis. Their flight was okay. They would be leaving on time to their actual destination. I”m sorry, but I believe in first come first served. They should have put the travelers that just lost their flight plans and put them on the next flight and juggled the travelers after that to better work with less booked American flights. Julie got back up to the counter and came back again with tears on her cheeks.

“Let’s get out of here, we’re not flying today.” I asked her what happened. “We’re supposed to be doing this again the same time tomorrow morning. It seems that they don’t even have an airplane. It never showed up.”

“Well, that would explain why they don’t have a flight crew…”

I go out and get my car to pick them up at the curb. I have to go through the parking fee gate to get out and come back around. I hand the $5 bill and the ticket to the attendant. He looks back at me and tells me it’s gonna cost $6.50. I almost looked at him and said “are you kidding?” Instead I just grab a ten and hand it to him. I drive back around and load Jeff and Julie up in the car. We hit McDonald’s on the way back home (which we were charged a 99 cent tax for eating inside the place).

I understand how airlines have to take into consideration the safety factor of landing aircraft and making them take off in inclement weather, but this situation could have been handled in better ways several times over. Part of this way due to weather, the rest was due to lack of customer service on NorthWests part. I will remember this event and probably want to drive if I ever need to go to Vegas.

I just hope they both get through their trip safely.

Categories: Rants Tags: , , , ,

Lucky…A Recollection

11/25/2008 Leave a comment
Amoco Station 132nd Maple

Amoco Station 132nd Maple

2008 was really pretty uneventful as far as weather was concerned for Omaha. The one decent storm we had was rather intense. One which I was unfortunate to get stuck in my car with my kids during the beginning of it.

I recall taking Michael, 4 and Karigan, 2 out to Shopko to meet with their mom in the parking lot. I left a voicemail on her phone telling her to meet me there at 4:30. While waiting, a friend of mine had called my phone to chat. While we were talking I could hear faint sounds of sirens off in the distance, but I began to ignore them since a nearby community had a volunteer fire department, and it was normal to hear sirens near there when an emergency arose. The key in this area was to listen for all city sirens, which at this time, were silent. I watched as a batch of ominous clouds came over the tree line

I normally am good at weather spotting. I have been fascinated with weather since I was a child, and over the years have found that I can forecast pretty accurately what the day’s weather is going to bring, as well as the next day or so. I suck at physics though. I actually tried to take meteorology in high school, and found it wasn’t possible for me to understand the science behind weather.

I have never seen a tornado which is pretty amazing considering I have lived in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas for most of life (let’s just say several years…more than 10…lol). The cloud formation I saw coming over the treelines I will admit made me nervous. Something about this one was clearly different.

100_1954

Returning back to the phone conversation, I told my friend,

“Go wake up your kids from their naps and take them to the basement.”

“Why? The weather looks fine. It’s not even raining.”

“It doesn’t rain when a tornado hits. These clouds have me nervous. I’ve never seen a system like this before. Go get them and get to the basement.”

“But it’s not even windy…”

“That’s another classic sign before a tornado hits, dead calm outside…please get your kids to the basement.”

“Fine, I will at least turn on the weather on TV if that makes you feel better.”

“I will feel better knowing you get them downstairs. I need to get off the phone, I have to get my kids to their mom’s before this hits. Call me later and let me know you are ok.”

We hung up the phone. The cloud formation I was watching would have been just about to cross over her neighborhood area 4 or 5 miles away. I decided to take a chance and get my kids on their way home. I figured I had about 10 minutes or less to get there before this thing hit.

I get down to 90th and Maple as the sky starts turning a dark green.  I find myself stuck as the first car in the left turn lane at a major intersection with red lights. By now the wind started to pick up a little, and my 4 year old, Michael begins to realize something is going to happen outside. He is almost in tune to the weather as much as I am, which considering his age, actually says quite a bit. He asks me about it being dark out.

“Daddy, where’s the sun? It got dark out.” His sister who was 2 at the time supports him with a “mmhmm”.

“We’re gonna get some rain Michael, and it’s probably going to get really loud inside the car from the rain. You’ll be ok.” This seemed to work for a moment.

I’m watching the hooked front end of the system as it crosses over near the intersection a block or so away. It’s dipping, rotating, swirling disappearing, reappearing. I look at the traffic light. Still red. I look at the cross traffic, still coming. I wanted to run the light and go, but not at the risk of getting hit by cross traffic. Then it came. The beginning of everything which resulted in the most chaotic 15 minutes of my life outside of Desert Storm.

I had my drivers side window down all the way as it was warm out. As I looked to the right of the intersection to begin the light running idea again, I saw a solid sheet of dust 3 or 4 feet off and parallel to  the ground as it came down the hill surrounding the intersection. It came with such velocity, that it swirled around the drivers side of my car and actually came straight into my car leaving a small cloud of debris floating and settling on my interior. The street sign next to the car started violently rocking and my car rocked with it. I have a little Land Rover Freelander, which is about the size in between a Jeep Liberty and a Suburu Outback. As the wind and dust is beating my car, I return my gaze back to the hook to see what it was doing. It was hooking even more than before. I kept thinking that I would have the only car in the intersection that was going to be picked up and flipped over by the wind. Welcome to your first possible tornado. Then my luck changed for the better. The arrow turned green.

I wasted no time and was driving probably 15 miles over the speed limit getting down Maple street. I had 2 miles to go to get the kids to their house. Rain began pounding down the back side of the car, indicating, that I was milliseconds ahead of it. I’m racing down the road, and that’s when I realized in addition to the approaching rain, I also now had to deal with flying debris. Not pebbles, or a garbage can. Tree branches…big ones being thrown across the road ahead of me. I don’t recall much at this point except hearing my daughter let out an uncomfortable little moan.

As the pea sized hail started hitting my car, I pulled into their mom’s driveway. Her boyfriend was waiting outside for me, and immediate went into action getting to my son’s door. I left the engine running and got out to get my daughter. She’s crying now, as the hail is pounding the car and the street creating a ruckus that just makes her hit a breaking point. She screams.

This hail was left over 2 hours after the storm passed.

This hail was left over 2 hours after the storm passed.

This is when it happend. I didn’t initially feel it. Instead my vision was blinded by a piercing white prismatic light, followed by a razor sharp thud on my head. The hail was getting larger, and it was almost as if I was being sent the first piece for approval of the increased bonus size. (“Would you like Tylenol with your baseball today sir?”) I stood there for a moment to make sure I wasn’t going to black out or anything. I then finished unbuckling my daughter. I wrapped her up tight inside my chest to protect her and started running to the house. The grass, the driveway, the cars, everything was solid layer of hail. It looked like January. I realzied at this point, that I my shoes I had on sucked for running on ice. I actually took 4 strides to recover myself from almost losing balance and falling on top of my daughter. Luckily, I regained footing and got her inside. I was handed the essentials at this point. Dry towels and a beer.

We watched as the neighborhood continued to get beat up for another 10 minutes. When it subsided and the sirens stopped we walked outside to assess damage. The street was flooded up to about 3 feet at its deepest point. Branches were down. Leaves and twigs covered all of the vehicles. Neighbors were coming out slowly to do the same. The clouds were gone, the sun was out, and it was beginning to warm up again.

It was another 2 hours before I heard from my friend on the phone, but she did call and tell me that they were ok. She said as soon as she hung up the phone, the loudest strongest gust of wind she ever experienced came through her neighborhood. She got the kids down to the basement seconds before the storm hit her area at its worst. I made some additional phone calls to check on other friends, most of which didn’t answer their phones. I got text messages back from them checking in. All was good in my world.

I skipped going into work that night for an OT shift, and decided to go help out wherever I could.

As you can see some of the pics tell a little bit of the story. Some of these images actually were aired on KETV Channel 7’s newscast and also placed on their website.

Pre-Approved

10/03/2008 Leave a comment

Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers

We’ve all received them in the mail and most of us just throw them away. I don’t. At least not right away. Some of my most entertaining reading for the day comes from the Disclosure Information chart that they are required to include with your fantastic preapproved status.

I received one in the mail yesterday, that I literally had to sit down and reread it two or three times to make sure I understood what I was reading. This one was for a MasterCard from Platinum First Premier Bank. What this turns into is, a way for the bank to make a couple hundred dollars off thousands of people that send this in….in exchange for nothing really. The worst part is, the bank continues to draw interest on the fees that they charged to your new account, as they know you won’t pay it off the first month. Unreal.

Follow me on this. The following info is assuming you get approved for their lowest credit line card available which is $250.

  1. Let’s start with the $29 Account Set Up Fee. This is a onetime fee. What I don’t get about this YOU have to pay THEM $29 to agree to be bound to their agreement that they sent to you unsolicited in the mail system. I have always believed that some things are just a cost of doing business. This is one of them.
  2. Next we have another one time fee, which is the $95 Program fee. Whatever that means.
  3. Then we have the $48 Annual fee, . Now, I don’t necessarily disagree with an annual fee as long as the card is offering you a low interest rate, which this one is at 9.9%. It’s number 4 that I am concerned about.
  4. An $84 Monthly Servicing Fee which the fine print says is billed at $7 per month. Again, in mind a cost of doing business. Shouldn’t be charged to the user.

This totals out to your first month’s bill (assuming you don’t buy anything else) to be $179. You are left with an available balance of $71 if you are only approved for $250. But wait….some additional insane fees.

  • If you are eligible and approved for a credit increase, you will be charged another $25. Each time. The earliest you can be eligible is 6 months. I think they figure you should have your other fees paid off within that time, so they hit you with this one to keep you sucked dry.
  • $11 for auto-draft payment to them (electronic monthly bill pay).
  • If you use the internet or their phone system to make a payment is $7 charge.
  • One time fee of $3.95 just for accessing your account on the Internet.

All of these fees are assessed as Finance Charges.

This is just insane. I could open my own bank with these types of terms. Seriously, where is the bank actually putting out any money? $71 of credit line is no big deal, especially after you pay that program fee.If 500 people respond to this program, the bank makes $89,500 without interest, and they don’t give you anything in return. This must be how the bank pays for a new manager’s salary.

“Tom, we need to add one more to the roster. Make them in charge of procuring foreclosed homes of the lower middle class. Now how can we pay for their salary? I know…a new credit card marketed to those that we have already foreclosed on, with enough program fees to cover their paycheck…”

No wonder our systems are falling apart in this country. How many other things like this go unchecked in the financial sectors, that federal regulators have managed to conveniently overlook?

People, start reading these disclosures before you sign up for crap like this. If you are upset about the Bail Out plan and how the government is going to rescue banks with CEOs living like royalty, then stop responding to this junk mail like this.

Obama….McCain

09/05/2008 2 comments

I was at a karaoke night at a bar last night where I was recruited by a guy named John, I believe to help with a song. I was unfortunately sitting the closest to John when he started the song “Rolling Down the River”. At least that’s what i think the song is called. That’s all I remember about the song when it was over with. John had warned me in the opening of the music that he may ask me to help him if he “ran out of gas”. I haven’t heard my voice through a microphone at a bar in over 6 years. I also have no idea who John  is

Sure enough 3/4 of the way through the song, you could hear John sputtering, knocking, wheezing as he approached the hill to the gas station. The man was totalling gracing us with his artistic rendition of Elvis in the later years. If you closed your eyes for a moment and listened to him…you would swear…that he was never going to stop, but removing the visual from the live voice that was only 5 feet away from as he gyrated and disco’d his way to Planet John Stardom seemed to be a little more tolerable. John seemed to have fun, and that’s all that really matters. I can’t criticize too much, as I didn’t get up and sing at all.

I have sang karaoke. When I am in regular practice of it, I have been told that I can do a pretty good job with some of the country artists like Chris Cagle, Gary Allen, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney.

Since Omaha has switched to a smoke free city (no smoking in any establishment – at all) I went outside to light one up. While out there, I had walked into the middle of a discussion between an intoxicated girl and her husband (I believe) regarding the current Presidential campaign. She was absolutely against Obama winning, but yet she didn’t seem to care much for McCain either. The discussion geared towards what would happen first…first black President, or first female President. I think we could solve this debate really fast if we could get a qualified black female President.

Seriously folks. Who cares?

Who cares if the next President is black, white, green, purple male, female, gay, bi, straight, religious, agnostic, atheist, blind, deaf, handicapped or not?

Who cares what state they are from, what church they attended, how many people they slept with in high school, whether they did drugs, whether they have a college degree or not?

The position of President of the United States should be won by the person that is most qualified to do the job. Regardless of what may come with that package.

I think of how many good candidates there probably are out there that decided not to try to run because maybe their past is a little questionable. So be it. Honestly, over the last 40 years, what President has not had something controversial come up while in office? These are the same people that while running for office maybe had slightly tinged career history, maybe immaculate reputations, but did it matter? Not really in the end. Maybe we should consider letting someone into office that has a questionable past more than what has been in there so far. Someone that has had a chance to get all of the crap out of their system..

My Sergeant Major in my unit Fort Riley, KS once told me “There isn’t a great Sergent Major in the Army that i know of that hasn’t had a few Article 15’s in their career.” I loved that he said that because it made sense. (If you aren’t familiar with this, and Article 15 is a form military code enforecement that can lead to dock in pay, extra duty, loss of rank, etc depending on the severity of what the reprimand was for.)

I heard this girl at the bar make a comment regarding how she isn’t registered to vote, never has voted, but freely admits she has opinions about the government. This I disagree with. If you do not vote, you have no right to complain about the government. The only exception to this would be students under 18 years old because they can’t vote.

This goes inline with my belief that if you have a complaint about something, that is fine. Until you can find a sensible way to solve that problem that you have the complaint with, then keep it to yourself. I have been doing this at work for a few years, and it works wonders when it comes to getting stuff accomplished. That is another reason I have this blog…it’s a place to bounce some of those ideas around. You should try it…

My New Streetlight…for my balcony

08/29/2008 3 comments
Street Lamp

Street Lamp

 So I’m walking around Target this morning with my kids…just to buy milk. I ended up finding more than milk. I love shopping Target Clearance Events. These people know how to clear product lines out. While wandering around back in the Outdoor Patio section, I stumble upon these outdoor patio lamps that are designed to resemble the older street lamps of the earlier 1900’s. These lights are normally onwards of $80 and up. I glanced down at the clearance sticker….$34.17…yes, for the one I am holding. The single lamp version didn’t have a sticker on it, but guessing by other similar models, it was probably around $20-$22. I want you to realize the value on this…I am 6’3. I am only holding the lamp off the ground by an inch or so. Now, this pciture was taken when I came back to the store 10 hours later, hoping it would still be there. As soon as I saw it, I picked it up and didn’t put it down. Even when my friend Kim was wanting to look at hairsprays, health beauty items, Husker shirts….still carried it. I felt somewhat like a cross between Paul Revere and the Statue of Liberty. Other shoppers around the store were watching me as I would pick up the lamp, walk ten feet down the aisle, set it down to look at something, then pick it back up and walk a few feet more and repeat. One of the guys that works there walked up to me and commented on how the lamp near the toiletries area (Kim was looking at travel size products) added a nice outdoorsy look to the pharmacy area. He then talked to me for a few minutes. I don’t know if he was trying to pick me up or what the deal was, but the chat seemed completely out of place. People at check outs were equally entertaining with their comments about me lighting up their life, illuminating personality, shedding some light on the subject….wow. Seemed like it would never end.

So now the lamp is sitting on my balcony, adding an elegant touch to an otherwise incomplete outdoor patio atmosphere that happens to be on a third floor balcony. Once I can figure out how to get a fountain out there, I can have a bistro…

Categories: Rants Tags: , , , ,

Possible Theory Regarding Molly Rodriguez

08/28/2008 5 comments

Recalling that Molly invited Robbie over for dinner December 4th, stated that they had steak and shrimp that night. Molly claims it was for a celebration of finishing her autobiography. I have strong gut feeling that the autobiography wasn’t finished until long after December 5th.

She told one reporter that she noticed the gun missing from the closet after he left from dinner and drugs on Dec 4th. She then later told another reporter that it was the next morning. Molly is cited as saying that she did not tust Robbie, and even feared her own safety at times when he was around. Yet, Molly takes her daughters shopping for a bit, leaving Robbie at the house by himself. When she returns, he is gone…and so is the gun.

Molly comes across as someone that has always needed an easy way to have a lifestyle that is always one notch above her financial reality. I believe she may have been running out of options for her sugar daddies.

My theory is this:

Molly realized that Robbie was beyond help and control in his life. He was using drugs, drinking, selling drugs and who knows what else. Molly was never really part of his life until recently, and I believe that when she realized just how far out of reach Robbie was, she began to have some doubts as to re-establishing a relationship with him. Given his unpredictable nature and history of drug usage, she needed to find a way out.

Knowing the last few months, Robbie was suicidal, I think she may have opened up some doors to allow him to go through with it. Molly was around the military for several years, and those that are in the military or are married into military at some point find out about the routine of deployment and war. It is customary the night before going into a war zone or battle to serve troops steak and sometimes shrimp as a last meal, in the event that the soldier does not return from battle.

I believe Molly invited Robbie over for dinner that night, feeding him steak and shrimp. After dinner, she offers to get high with him, and in some course of the evening, starts a conversation about her ex being in Thailand and not returning for awhile. Maybe a mention of how the guns were left in the closet with ammo making her uncomfortable. She does this to start planting the ideas into Robbie’s head as to a method to end his problems. She doesn’t clearly come right out and say it to him. Robbie is intelligent enough as a survivor of the streets and system, to recognize opportunity. Molly knew he would do this on his own.

She then takes her daughters shopping for a couple hours, knowing that Robbie is at her house, fed, stoned, suicidal, and able to get to an assault rifle with ammo. I believe she came home expecting to find Robbie had killed himself while she was shopping. This would put her fears and guilt to rest, as well as solve Robbie’s problems of having such a rough life already at such a young age, and society wouldn’t have to keep paying to become the repeat victim to his antics. (I write this solely as a possible point of view of molly, not my own personal views).

I also think that there may have been an exchange of words between Robbie and Molly just before she left for shopping. Something said that made Robbie realize that he was homeless and destitute. Yet, she was going shopping, he was not going to be going. I don’t know if he was invited, or not, but i don’t see that it was an option for him. I think this slap in the face of his situation in life, followed by Molly taking her daughter shopping for new things, leaving Robbie behind stoned and with nothing, could have been the trigger behind changing his mind of killing himself, to killing holiday shoppers in an upscale shopping environment. I also believe this is why she made a point to check for the gun after she returned home from her shopping trip. She was checking to see if the seed planted around dinner was going to start to grow.

Clearly Molly wasn’t expecting this change of events. I think she was hoping he would only  be taking his own life. When she realized that she had not received any news of his suicide, she decided to go to the sherriffs office the next morning to cover her ass and seperate herself as an accessory to the crime. Now she appears as the concerned mom to law enforcement. She also had placed calls to Robbie’s friends, telling them to tackle him if they saw him. My question is, how and why did she have their phone numbers? Was she dealing drugs to them?

Now with Robbie’s death and taking the lives of so many others that next day, this put the family into the public eye. Molly has been willing to sacrifice any sense of pride and deceny of herself by writing an auto biography. If she could stay in the lime light long enough until she finished it, she could land a deal and make more money then she ever imagined. I believe this, because there is no mention about the book until Rolling Stone’s interview in August 2008. I didn’t find any reference to a celebration writing a book the night before the murders in any other journalist account.

Again, these are all my own speculations and analysis. As a venue to deliver opinions, this blog is solely my own opinion and is unfounded as fact at this time.