26 Feb

Your Village Idiot (Episode II)


Let me introduce you to my employer's parking ramp. Pretty neat, huh? Let's play a game. You remember the back page of the Highlights magazine.. yeah... that's right... find all the silly things wrong with the picture. So let me set up the situation:

The time: Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 6:15am

The place: Covered parking ramp

The happenings: 19" of snow fell the night before

Here's your Highlights picture -- a car that was parked next to me. Spot all the things wrong! Spoiler alert... the answers are below, so don't scroll down if you don't want to see the answers (but I think you won't need the answers on this one)

Too much to clean off, I guess

Now keep in mind that it's 6:15 IN THE MORNING!!!

No, one of the silly things is NOT the burned-out lightbulb in the background of the picture.

It's not that you're late for work...

It's not like it's dark outside or anything... (sarcasm, if you couldn't catch it)

Being able to see outside your car is overrated...

CLEAN OFF YOUR CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only can't you see outside your passenger windows, but what you can't see is that the back window is just as bad as the passenger window!!!

Really? Is it too much to clean off your car? Endanger yourself AND possibly others while driving. And to think that it's against the law to drive around with the dice hanging from the rear-view mirror -- somehow the police don't stop this kind of behavior. I thought stuff like this was saved for the inner city.

Snow on the window, snow on the headlights, snow covering the license plates... it's too much work to clean off the car after the biggest snowfall of the year in that city. And you can see the fresh tire tracks (as they were pulling in).

For this, you get the highly-coveted Schoms' Village Idiot Seal-of-Approval!

Congrats. You're in good company with the green Chevy truck driver.

Categories: Gripe , Village Idiot Read More

24 Feb

Even when your best, just isn't good enough


This one clearly is categorized as Amusement Gripe.

So little Ethan hasn't been feeling well lately. So when I got home last night, I immediately asked him if he wanted me to read to him. He said, "Sure! Can we read this book?" It was a Star Wars 3rd Level Reading book.

Now, upon reading it, I quickly realized that it was about Yoda.

Hey, I've tried doing Yoda impersonations before... maybe I can do the voice of Yoda. That'll put a smile on his face and maybe help him feel better!

So as I started to do the Yoda part, Ethan stops me and says:

"Dad, you're not supposed to do Grover, you're supposed to do Yoda!"

<sigh>

Even with nothing but the best of intentions, I still get a "fail" from the audience. Now I feel like Rodney Dangerfield "Man, I don't get no respect!"

I guess I'll stick with my Mitch Hedberg impersonations...

Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

19 Feb

We introduce... your Village Idiot (Episode I)


The people driving pickup trucks are generally good drivers. But of course, there's always the one moron that ruins it. You know, like when you were at recess, about ready to start the game of football. You've just about got the teams selected when out of the blue comes Derek Stuckinbooks. You know he can't cover worth a damn, catch worth a damn... heck, he can't even play! But you know if you don't include him, the recess supervisor is gonna ream you a la Coach Buzzcut

Coach Buzzcut  

So I was coming home from the library and the following happened -- picture it. 4-lane road (2 each direction) with 10-15 cars waiting at a traffic light. I'm in the right lane a few cars behind a green Chevy pickup truck. The light turns green and the truck accelerates normally. Then, after 1/8 of a mile or so, the truck suddenly puts on his blinker, apparently wanting to get into the left lane. And as he puts on the blinker....

... HE STOPS! In the right lane of a 50mph road. We're all stuck, because the cars in the left lane are already doing 40-50mph and this moron decides 'Duhhh, I gotta get over now because that's the road I want to take! Silly ol' me... I got a truck, I can do this'

Here's the picture of the scenario (actual overhead picture of the site)

I guess no other place to go but nowhere!

The Village Idiot wanted to make a left turn (blue arrow above)

For the love... IT'S OK TO MISS YOUR TURN!!!! YOU HAVE OPTIONS WITHOUT INTERRUPTING TRAFFIC AND YET STILL GET TO YOUR DESTINATION WITHOUT CAUSING AN ACCIDENT:

  1. Make a U-turn at the very next intersection (if you can get over to the left lane)
  2. If attempting option #1 and it fails, either go straight and make a U-turn further ahead or make a right turn at the major intersection (just off the top of the photo) and turn around

Why it is that people turn off their brains when driving. I'm sure you've seen the multitude of people that panic on the freeway when they're about to miss their exit... they do the same thing and practically (and some cases literally) stop on the freeway.

GO TO THE NEXT EXIT!!!!!! IT'S OK TO DO SO! JUST DON'T CAUSE AN ACCIDENT

And you wonder why there's road rage. Think, people, come on! This kind of crap is part of the reason why fender-benders happen.

(in case you were wondering, I'm the fourth purple car behind the Village Idiot) :)

Categories: Gripe , Village Idiot Read More

16 Feb

"Insureds nicknamed Schoms switching to Progressive have saved $500 on auto insurance"


We recently switched back to Progressive for our auto insurance (and now, home insurance as well) after being with MetLife for the past 3 years. We had been with Progressive for 10 straight years in the past. But enough with the history, that's not what this blog entry is about.

Over the past many months, I have been entertained at all the ads out there from various companies claiming that customers have saved money by switching to them:

--------------------------------------------------

E-surance: "Customers that have switched have saved $523 on auto insurance"

Progressive: "Save over $500 on car insurance"

Allstate: "Safe Drivers Save 45% or More"

And the ever popular GEICO: "Save 15% or more on car insurance"

--------------------------------------------------

Seems like every company has their own statistic trying to convince you that you should switch insurers. You might be thinking, 'How on earth can each company claim to be cheaper than the other?'

THEY AREN'T!!! IN THE RADIO/TV ADS, LISTEN TO THE DISCLAIMER -- ON MAIL, READ THE ASTERISKED COMMENT!

"Customers who switched saved $xxx..."

AOL Keyword: SWITCHED

Generally, who in their right mind would switch insurers knowing they would pay more than they previously were? Imagine if someone offered you two $5 bills in exchange for a $20 bill. Would you do it?

... and ARRRRRGHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! OF COURSE the statistic is going to be hundreds. Who on earth would raise bloody hell and be all up in arms thinking that they pay $10 too much. Nobody switches to save $10... I know I wouldn't.

Now, granted, I'll give the public a little benefit of the doubt on the intention of the statistic. The intent is to get the consumer a personalized quote. How do you do that? Abusing the informative nature of advertising by slipping in a little catch-word. For instance, it's not as attractive -- as sexy -- to say

"Well, on average, our rates are not as good as Allstate, but try anyway, you never know!"

Americans don't have time to potentially save money, we need results. We need a Slap Chop because we just don't have enough time to chop with a knife. I now have enough time to play with my kids because I use a device that effectively brushes my teeth while in my sleep. We know how much time was lost brushing!

We need the sticker shock. We need big-time scoring, damn it. We need to get those iPod/Facebook-obsessed teenagers with the earphones in 24-7 listening to crappy music to pay attention. We need the 36-triple D's:

"You could save hundreds. Thousands that switched did!"

The magic catch-word "switched" -- what other word makes nearly all potential future legal issues disappear (claiming false advertising), allows such a meaningless statistic to be used publicly (limited correlation to my likelihood of seeing such savings), and yet often gets ignored in the ad by consumers because it's surrounded by nothing but good news ("customers", "save", "$$$$$$$$$$$$") The consumer leaves the commercial with the perception that Allstate (or whatever company is advertising) will automatically save them money.

So in a recent mailing, I received a seemingly-personalized letter from Travelers Insurance:

Travelers: Dan, in reviewing your driving history, we feel you may be paying too much. Drivers in your class have saved an average of $453 on your auto insurance. Call or visit our website with the quick quote ID# to see how much you'll save.

So I decided to give them a try. Heck, they seem to know I have a good driving history, which I do. They seemed to do at least a small amount of diligence. And, I like saving money too, so why not... let's do it. Same coverage amounts as my current policy. A couple more questions asked than any quote I've done before. The result? $30 short of DOUBLE... yes, DOUBLE what we are paying now.

So does this get reported within the statistic they give in the ads? Nope.

And to top it off, I can tell why McDonalds had to plaster all those "Caution: Contents may be hot" labels all over their coffee cups. Because we're getting absurdly dumber by the minute. You mean the coffee is hot? You're kidding! Because I know if the coffee was cold, I would have complained! But I didn't know it was going to be hot! (sigh) By that idiotic woman winning that case, the verdict is in -- the trend says we clearly can't think for ourselves. Need proof?

In the GEICO case, they weren't cheaper than Progressive (yet again) by a few hundred dollars. Upon hearing the final quote from the agent, I told him what I was currently paying (again, for all you with horrible short-term memory/selective readers, it was a few hundred dollars). He then said, "So... what date should we start this policy?"

"YOU'RE MORE EXPENSIVE! WHY would I want to switch?"

There are some reasons why insurance companies can be more expensive/cheaper. Some include:

  1. Underwriting - #/types of questions asked. For instance, some ask distance driven/day, others don't.
  2. Incident Forgiveness - Some go back x-years and others have incident severity tiers.
  3. Pre-pay advantages - Progressive has a discount if you pay in full
  4. Multi-insurance discount - If you have auto & home coverage, your auto rates are generally less than with only auto
  5. Area experience - Every insurance company breaks down their rates by location. One company's definition of a rate zone may be drastically different than others. Additionally, the experience for that zone could differ substantially.
  6. Loyalty discounts for staying with the insurer year over year.

So what's the gripe? The gripe is all the insurance companies wanting to grab your attention by revealing statistics that initially, without thinking, can be interpreted as nothing but good. It's just as offensive as mortgage lenders quoting an absurdly-low interest rate to get your interest, but upon inspecting the APR, finding out that there are a lot of hidden costs. Where will the honest company be, which gives the average savings amount for all quotes, not just select ones. To me, that holds more weight and will help tell me which companies to consider. Don't give me a misleading statisitc involving only certain quotes. I'll bet the savings amounts include people like Joe Blow, who has had 5 accidents in the last number of years and saved $1800 by switching (where the disparity is probably due to his old insurer jacking up the rates to get rid of him)

And to you Travelers, quit your personalized crap about good driving history, coupled with a statistic on how much "my types" have saved by switching. You've wasted my time... 15 minutes or so... and then kicking me in the nuts by giving me a quote of double what I currently pay. To me, you've actually done more damage with this approach. I'll know never to go back to you for a simple quote. But you win...you got me to open your letter. I'm the sucker. I'm the idiot...I fell for it. The consolation is that I'm more informed about which companies to consider when quote-seeking in the future.

Categories: Gripe Read More

09 Feb

Eee-mail Funn


So who hasn't received spam e-mail before?

It's a fact now that as commercial spam filters are becoming the norm, idiot spammers are having to come up with creative ways to get their message seen. These spam filters are as hard to penetrate as those 3M Filtrete furnace air filters that do more damage to your furnace than good. So how do these spammers get their message through?

**************************

Subject: Gett your MmmeDds heere! Viaagrrra, sUper lowWww price$

chandler0017,, click here: $Low Cost$

[link omitted for safety]

**************************

I mean, when it comes to medication, nothing says 'I trust you' more than a business that sends out messages with:

  1. Repetitive letters (to avoid spam)
  2. Combination of unneeded capital letters and excessive and unnecessary comma usage
  3. No business name listed in the body of the e-mail
  4. Use of chandler0017 as my name... I mean, nothing says "personalized" more than calling someone by the e-mail prefix
  5. A link that uses a tinyurl address. Good, reputable companies always try to hide their own name. I mean, what business wants publicity?!
  6. I'll give them some credit, the usage of $ in "price$" is creative.

I mean, anyone clicking on these truly must also fall for those same e-mail messages where Bank of America wants to validate your account information, and to do so, you must install a program which is conveniently zipped up in an attachment. We know businesses do this ALL the time. And I know that businesses also send these messages to people that don't even have a Bank of America account.

Another creative spam idea is to piggyback off of the success of a popular social networking site.

I was flabbergasted to find out that over the course of 3 days, I had received 5 e-mail messages from Sarah, Jill, Cherry (how cute), Debra and Tanya. All of them had the "From" listed as Facebook, with the subject line "_(name)_ has sent you a message".

Oh wow. It must be legit, because it says it's from Facebook... and the subject line is in the same style as that which Facebook sends, so I think I'll open it up!

And, funny, all wrote nearly the same thing (two of them were the same). I'll summarize:

"hey you, i saw your fb pic and i think it's hot. we have lots in common. perhaps we could hook up sometime. check out my pics at [link omitted for safety]"

I know Miss Manners always tells you to greet a stranger with a "hey you!" That always works. Plus, I can now sleep at night knowing that someone wants to hook up with me because I look hot. AND, since we have so much in common (since she only "saw my pic"), that MUST mean she's hot too.

Sadly though, I don't know how I can find her, 'cause she didn't give a last name. I can't add her as a friend on Facebook, because there are a ton of Sarah names out there.

The link she gave sends me to a weird pornish site at: www.bustybombshells.com. And then I find out she wants $9.99/mo just to enter. Man, we just met (and in a way, we haven't) and already she wants my money!

And finally, what gives it the uber-personalized feel is knowing that I can see 8 other e-mail addresses in the "To:" section. But I thought she was talking to me? Why did she copy in the others?

(sob)

Ugh. Come on people, get a little more creative with the e-mail. Spammers and virus-senders are now the lowest of the low.

Categories: Amusement , Gripe Read More

 
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