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January 27, 2004

Keep Back 500 Feet

While I was driving down I-435 recently, I came up behind a semi truck that was hauling a load of construction rubble in an open topped trailer. I am sure that you have seen these types of trucks. They are normally loaded with extremely large loads of broken up concrete and other junk left over from the demolition of a road. The part that I always find humorous is that they almost always have a piece of well worn fabric stretched over the top of the trailer. I am not sure what the purpose of this is, but I can assure you that it isn't going to stop anything coming out of that trailer.

Anyway, as I come up behind this tuck, I notice the sign on the back of it... Warning! Not Responsible For Accidents. Keep Back 500 Feet. Mind you that this sign is written in letters that require you to be less than 50 feet away to actually read them. That isn't important though. The sign is there and the trucking company bears no responsibility if they hit a pothole and a 50 pound chunk of concrete falls out of their truck and through the windshield of my truck.

I find this to be very interesting and very freeing at the same time. I find it to be very interesting because the trucking company has absolved itself of all responsibility though that one simple statement. I find it freeing because, if they can do it, so can anyone... Right?

So, as of today, I am going to start putting up signs all over the place. These signs will protect me from taking any responsibility for my actions. It will be great... Here are some of the signs that I am going to start with:

Warning: Stressed Out! Not Responsible for Verbal Assaults. Do Not Add Additional Pointless Tasks.
Warning: Low Stupidity Tolerance! Not Responsible for Letting You Know You Are Dumb. Do Not Provoke with Stupid Questions.
Warning: Spicy Food Consumed! Not Responsible for Vile Odor. Maintain Minimum 15 Foot Distance.

OK. So maybe I am taking this a little too far, but you get the point. The major issue that I have with this is that this sign could probably keep a trucking company out of trouble in the event that something did happen. Because they have warned you about it, then the law is probably on their side and it would make it very difficult to fight them if something were to happen.

"The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." - Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)

January 08, 2004

In Other News... TAWCHiK Sucks.

I know that I run the risk of offending people that I know that work at TAWCHiK, but I have to say, their service sucks.

What is TAWCHiK? TAWCHiK is The Anonymous Wireless Carrier Headquartered in Kansas. I am not going to say their name here for reasons I'll go in to later, but this Google search should help clue you in.

First of all... why do they suck? I am not sure I have the space to outline it all, but here are some of my recent issues:

Service - I drop calls on a daily basis. TAWCHiK tells me that my phone software is not up do date, but they can't load any newer software version on my phone because it is up to date... After talking to them further, they basically told me that all providers have this issue, so suck it up. Hey... Thanks for that. I get to pay $100 a month for pretty much nothing. I think it is a good business plan... I am going to open up a restaurant with a great menu and then just serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When people complain, I'll just tell them that the silverware doesn't support anything different.

Coverage - TAWCHiK supposedly has a nationwide network. That is debatable to say the least. My phone spends more time looking for service than anything else. To top it off, TAWCHiK's world headquarters is less than a mile from my office and less than two miles from my house, but I can't get decent service at either place.

Claire - For those of you who know who she is... 'nuff said.

Customer Service - I had an issue on my bill that came in the mail yesterday. I had only used 600 minutes of my 2000 minute plan and they started dinging me for overages. To the tune of close to $60. I figured that it would be a quick fix when I called them. Five different people and an hour later, they finally managed to credit my account for $40. The didn't know why the overage happened, but the did tell me that if it happened again they would be more than happy to fix the issue. Well, thanks for that.

Now, as to why I won't post the name of the company out here... About three months ago, a local radio personality said something on her morning talk show about how she had some issues with TAWCHiK. Within minutes, the phone lines to the radio station were jammed with people who were sharing horror stories about crappy service and less than helpful customer care specialists. This went on for quite a while. The next day, TAWCHiK sent out a company wide email outlining how they were pulling all advertising from the radio station, that the person running the show was going to be censured and that the radio station was going to give them 30 minutes to outline how wonderful their product really is. What crap. It's not like the disk jockey was inviting people to call in... she just mentioned that she had had a problem and everyone else decided to vent at the same time. Anyway, the point is, when you use a public forum to let people know how bad TAWCHiK's service really is, they will get their dander up and make problems for the person that criticizing.

"Make service your first priority, not success and success will follow." -Author Unknown

January 07, 2004

Stealing Jobs!?!

President Bush outlined a proposal that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal workers and eventually permanent residents of the United States.

The only catch is that the people that are already here, and any that are coming in, must already have a job.

Overall, I really don't have an issue with this. First of all it could make thousands, if not millions, of people that are here working in the United States legal. Beyond that, though, it makes them regular working citizens. That gives them workman's comp and guaranteed wages. That is a boon for them. Even better, though, that would make their wages taxable. That would be an even bigger boon for the federal, state and local governments who are already shouldering the health care and education burden for these people.

So far, I have seen two interviews with people who are against this. This first was Pat Buchanan . This is the same Pat Buchanan that wanted to build a fence around the United States to keep all illegal immigrants out. Well, that's a real shocker that he doesn't like the idea.

The second interview that I saw was some leader of a union. I don't have a lot of respect for unions to start with and this guy didn't do anything to help that. All he kept saying was that these immigrants were coming up from Mexico to steal hard working American's jobs. I would really like to see his statistics on that.

I don't have any statistics to prove him wrong, but I do have some anecdotal evidence that casts everything that this guy said into doubt. Take a look around any major metropolitan area. Right or wrong, where do you see the majority of immigrant workers that could be affected by this law? Around here, they are mowing lawns, doing construction, replacing roofs, picking vegetables or cleaning houses and offices. I can't see a huge glut of non-immigrant workers lining up for any of these jobs. To me, this proves the argument that immigrant workers are stealing jobs is crap. Most non-immigrant workers don't want these types of jobs. They are not coming in and taking office, technical or even skilled factory jobs. For the most part, they are taking jobs that require them to stand up and do manual labor.

Even if there is a downside, which I haven't seen yet, the upside of being able to track these workers and collect taxes from them makes this plan a good one. And, if someone can prove to me that there are actually jobs being lost by American people, then I may change my mind.

"People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up." - Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)

January 05, 2004

The Third Bullet...

I look at the CNN web page several times throughout the day. This morning when I checked it, the lead headline was that the United States was going to start fingerprinting foreign visitors. Interesting story. One which will inspire a rant in the very near future.

For those of you that aren't familiar with CNN's website, they also have a section that displays some other top headlines. These are stories that are truly newsworthy that need to be placed above all the rest. Here are those headlines:

• Mars rover locks in on Earth
• CIA: Bin Laden tape likely authentic, recent
• Reports: Britney Spears weds - but will annul it
• SI.com: Pete Rose admits to betting on baseball
• Skier, missing for 4 days, found alive
• Hundreds report seeing fireballs fall from sky in Spain
• Next-generation search engines - better than Google?
• SI.com: LSU wins share of national title

OK. Some of those stories are important. Hell, some of them could actually impact my life. But, that third bullet point... That one really gets me. Who really cares? I am sure that there are some teeny boppers out there that might care, but other than that, what does it mean to me? Not much. It just means that the trashy tramp is out whoring for more publicity and some poor kid from her hometown is going to get bullied by reporters for the next couple of weeks.

I think the other part about this that bugs me is that a little further down the page, out of sight unless you scroll down, they are running headlines on a mother that has shook her baby to death and that there is another outbreak of SARS in China.

Yeah, Britney is more important that those, though...

Come on CNN. Keep your eye on the ball. You are a news organization. Leave the fluff crap to the entertainment channel.

"Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space." - Rebecca West (1892 - 1983)

January 04, 2004

Looking Ahead

You know, we are just getting out of 2003 and already, I wish 2004 was over. At least the first 11 months of it...

Why? Because I hate the whole presidential campaign bull shit that is going to really get started very soon. Already, we are being subjected to some political ads on TV. By the time July rolls around, I would bet that about 50% of all commercials on TV will be political related. Then, around September, close to 90% will be political. The commercials are going to be low brow and, by November, will really not have anything to do with the actual facts of the campaign. Instead, they will focus on small sound bites, taken out of context and blown up to be more than they really are

I am an informed voter. I don't just vote for one person over the other just because of their political party. My vote will not be swayed by some annoying television commercial. It scares the crap out of me that there are people out there that are swayed by that stuff. I would hope that these people would go out and find out where the candidates really stand on the issues. Read a newspaper. Check out the Internet. Something... Don't just rely on the commercials.

"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal