Monday, November 22, 2010

This just in...

Breaking news from CNN:
Ingmar Guandique convicted of first-degree murder in 2001 death of D.C. intern Chandra Levy.
Gary Condit should sue the media for ruining his life. Police say he was never even a suspect.

CFLs for a Song

At Menard's this weekend, I was shocked to see their prices on compact fluorescent light bulbs. First I saw a 3-pack of 60-watt equivalent bulbs "on sale" for $7.77, but that was nothing. Another display had 2-packs of 60-watt equivalents for 49 cents. And an end-cap offered 3-packs of 60-watt equivalents for 74 cents. I bought two of the 3-packs because those were 10,000-hour bulbs whereas the 2-packs were 8,000-hour bulbs.

At prices like these, there is no reason not to install CFLs almost everywhere. Anyone who has been scared off by claims that CFLs burn out faster if you turn lights on and off frequently (which has not been my experience) or that CFLs don't last as long as advertised when installed in confined spaces (a problem I have had with a couple of fixtures) -- get to Menard's now! For a quarter a bulb, you can't lose.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Biking Illinois Twilight

It's been a discouraging month as the author of Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides.

I spend a lot of time (and money) in bookstores, and I usually scan the "Local Interest" section for that familiar goldenrod spine with BIKING ILLINOIS in black letters. The last six stores I've visited have not had a single copy on offer.

A few days ago, I received my twice-yearly royalty check. It was a mere $61 for the first half of 2010.

There was a time when Biking Illinois was almost everywhere, and my royalties were measured in hundreds of dollars instead of tens. I never came close to getting rich or even covering my enormous travel expenses, but at least I was getting something. At least my book was out there.

Considering that my book is now four years old, the economy still sucks, and a couple of competing titles came out this year, I guess it isn't surprising. But I can't help feeling depressed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buy a Dead Brand

On December 8, Racebrook is auctioning 150 old brand names. If you miss shopping at Phar-Mor or Child World, here's your big chance to own your favorite store, or at least the name. Do you miss Texaco's Sky Chief gasoline? Want to bring back Meister Brau beer or Barrelhead Root Beer? I can imagine a Beatles fan bidding for the BOAC airline brand: "Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC/Didn't get to bed last night."

Some brands aren't likely to sell for much. Who would buy the Continental Illinois brand when it's associated with one of the largest bank failures in U.S. history? That would be like naming your fishing boat Lusitania.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Problems

I have two kinds of problems in my life. First there are those that I actually want to solve. The other kind I just want to bitch about. The more obvious the solution, the more likely the problem is among the latter category. Please restrain yourself from interrupting me with your helpful suggestions. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sade? Really?

I guess my finger isn't on the pulse of pop culture. I was shocked several weeks ago to see tickets go on sale for Sade -- not only because the tickets are for next August, which is unusually far in advance, but because the venue is the United Center. Surely Sade can't fill a place like the United Center, I thought (had I not seen her on TV earlier this year, my reaction might have been I thought she was dead). I can recall only two of her songs, both a quarter of a century old: "Smooth Operator" and "Sweetest Taboo." How could she be so popular after all these years?

Then today I saw that tickets are going on sale Monday for a second Sade show next August at the United Center. And I learned that Sade is apparently "the most successful solo female artist Britain has ever produced." Who knew?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stores Rip Off Consumers to Make Money on Coupons

Lost in the story of the Great Target Coupon Scandal is this bullshit policy:
The glitch appears to stem from a common practice among retailers. Stores won't allow a coupon to reduce the price of an item to less than zero. Free is the best they will do, which is also Target's stated policy.
At first blush, this may sound reasonable. It seems wrong for a store to essentially pay you to purchase a product.

BUT... what happens when the store sends the coupon to the issuer/processor? They get reimbursed the face value of the coupon regardless of whether the consumer got the entire face value as a discount. So this is just a way for stores to make money by scamming their own customers. Granted, this sort of thing doesn't happen often (unless there is a software bug as in Target's case), but it's still a bum deal for consumers.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election 2010

I live in a nation full of idiots. Go suck on a teabag.

Never Enough

Sitting in a traffic jam on the Kennedy Expressway recently, I thought, Sometimes the only thing that stops me from killing a bunch of people is that I could never kill enough.

Think about it. Even if you could snuff out 1,000 people and get away with it (both legally and psychologically), it still wouldn't make a damn bit of difference in so many ways. Fewer cars on the road? Fewer people in line at the grocery store? Fewer people crowding your favorite dining spot on a Friday night? Hardly.

It gave me a new appreciation for guys like Joseph Stalin. Imagine how easy it was to get a good table in Moscow's finest restaurants after the Great Purge.

The "Lewd Lyrics" Blog

An anonymous friend started a blog to share his obscene rewrites of popular song lyrics with the world. I promised I would promote his blog if he posted at least twice a week for two months. He celebrated his two-month anniversary as a blogger on Saturday, so I'm keeping my word.

Visit "Lewd Lyrics" at to see what kind of sick stuff he's come up with. You'll never listen to classic rock the same way again.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bastard of the Day

This could be for every day, but today and tomorrow especially: the Republican Party. These bastards have done everything they could for the past two years to keep President Obama and the Democratic Party from accomplishing their goals in Congress. And now they are running a sadly successful campaign of claiming that "we gave the Democrats two years and they haven't accomplished anything."

Aside from the inherent bastardry of this tactic, the charge isn't even true. Read Tim Dickinson's article in Rolling Stone titled "The Case for Obama" and discover that he actually has accomplished quite a bit.

To all you liberals and progressives out there: get off your butts November 2 and vote! We cannot allow another weakened presidency like President Clinton had once Gingrich and friends took control. And most importantly, we cannot tolerate those Republican bastards undoing all the positive changes that Obama has made so far. Those fucking teabaggers will be out in force tomorrow. Don't let those bastards destroy this generation's best shot at progressive change.