Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

My daughter’s 12-inch bicycle had a flat recently. I do not know what she did actually, because it looks like she wore a hole in the tire itself that is 3 centimeters long and a centimeter across!  The front tire is in decent condition, but might as well change it too.  I looked into the cost of repairing the bike: $12 per tire, $6 per bike tube, plus taxes and shipping because the local shops did not carry white wheels which match her pink bike. I also looked at the cost of a new bike too: $49.99 for a Disney Frozen bicycle with training wheels. She likes her bike though, so I thought I would try to fix it.

Thinking I could fix it was the first mistake.  When putting in the new tube and tire on her front wheel, it seems I punctured the brand new inner tube somehow.  The wheel deflates in under a minute! I suppose along with the parts I probably needed to order some sort of special bicycle tire repair kit along with it.  So now I am out $40 on bike parts, an hour of my precious time off from work, and I am now heading to the store today or tomorrow and am just going to buy a new damn bike.

Wasteful? Yes. However I am out an hour of my life and $40 of my hard earned money at this point.  To get another bike tube, buy the right plastic tools, pull off the tire I just put on today, redo the job, and then still do the back tire….well, that is going to cost me more than just buying a new damn bicycle. That hour of my time is a big deal to as I have a long list of stuff to repair in the house. I would have been better off just picking up the $49.99 bicycle on the way home from work.

What a time and place I live in where its just easier to dispose and buy new rather than fixing something. It makes me feel really guilty, yet I just do not have the time to waste. Of course I wasted more time by writing this rant…but I boiling over right now and need to rant.

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On the export of television programs

Why can’t Americans just watch a good British television program?  I learned that there is a Top Gear America, based on the world-famous Top Gear program produced by the BBC.  Interestingly enough, the American version is being produced by the BBC and they are trying to push it onto network television.  Why not just take the Top Gear produced in the UK and shown on BBC America?  The hosts are hilarious, the show is entertaining, what is the problem?  Is English with an English accent so hard to understand?  I suppose when someone says “naught”, “Jaguar” or “zed”, is it just to difficult to understand?  No powers of deduction?  Non-native speakers of English in Malaysia watch the UK version with no issues, why is a Californiacation version of the show necessary?  Is it that in the show the cars are left-side drive?  They even use miles, miles-per-hour and imperial units!

Oh well, I suppose it create jobs.

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On Music

I really ought to be writing about the Eurotrip, but I hesitate still.  Perhaps I know it will take time, but I doubt that is it.  I just have not had time to internalize the trip yet, honestly.  I’m an internalizer, I need some down time to internalize everything, but when we returned I jumped back into full swing immediately and work–always work–has been occupying my mind these days.  I miss Berlin though.

So…music–sparked by this article in the Atlantic.  For the longest time when someone asked me about music, I replied that I did not like music.  I suppose that is partially true.  I prefer to listen to the news or language learning materials when killing time in the car.  I don’t care for anything broadcast on the radio, and even when I hear something I like on a rare occasion, it is spoiled by pretentious wankers such as the host of NPR’s piano jazz program.  Furthermore, I still listen to all of the CDs I bought in the early 90s, and I find that I like them better now than I did at the time.  Perhaps it is age, but I can appreciate the lyrics more–I guess that is life experience?

My issue with music is that it takes so much time to find music that one likes.  Every few years I’ll accidentally discover an album I like and I’ll listen to it until I get sick of it for years.  Granted, online stores like iTunes help because they try to suggest albums that others bought, but finding music I like is still like searching a haystack for a needle.  I must admit that I loved visiting the CD shops in Tokyo and finding some album that I had no idea about.  In a city you have time to kill while waiting to meet someone, or before going to a business meeting or a work party.  It is funny how human cities are compared to parking-lot wastelands like Charleston.  Once has time for simple things in a city, but in the suburbs you just go from point A to point B and do the job.  No wandering into book stores or music stores, just wait in the car and get on with the job.  Just get on with the job, yeah?  Times like this I really miss Tokyo, Taipei and now Berlin.

For some I suppose that the hunt for good music is part of the fun, but I never have and still do not have the time to pursue “music”.  I have a friend in Tokyo who is constantly finding new music and every time I meet him he has new music.  For him music is his hobby, but my hobby, if I can really say that I have any after my son was born, is language study and reading. I just don’t have time for “music”, and I guess that makes me a square.

I do like music, it is just that I am picky, and you probably won’t like what I like anyways.  I’m very lucky that I have a job where I can listen to music while I work.  Oddly, the only time I feel like listening to music is when I am working.  So I’ll listen to what I like in the privacy of my headphones and we’ll all be happy with that.  I might be enjoying Bach’s harpsichord or some 80s kick like the Cure or whatever, but I’m getting the job done and that is good enough for us all.  I’m getting the job done, but my mind keeps wandering back to the city…

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On the Gulf Spill Reimbursements

Pardon me for a moment, let me just pull this soap box over here….OK, I’m ready.

So today–or was it yesterday–marks the 100th day of the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  I still cannot began to even imagine how much oil is really in the waters, my mind is too simple to fathom the volume that must have escaped the drilling well. I’ve shaken my head about how long it has taken BP to do anything, but today I actually heard something that made me pause and want to kick a can.

I heard a report on the radio about compensation of gulf coast residents for their losses due to the oil spill.  One person who filed a claim was a small business owner of a shop that does the linens for restaurants.  With the Gulf restaurants not seeing business as usual, his services are in less use, and as a result, he passes it on to companies that he buys linens or cleaning supplies from.  Another was an owner of a nail salon that found that since the spill, clientele numbers have dropped and it is hurting her bottom line.  I believe there was also a real estate agent claiming the spill reduced the number of buyers in the market and was damaging the business.  At the end of the report my jaw dropped to the ground.  Do these people really believe that they deserve to be compensated?  Do they think they are innocent by-standers and simply victims?

At first it may seem reasonable, after all a greedy corporation may have cut corners to improve the bottom line and make more money.  A common career strategy for a corporate accountant is to find ways to cut costs, transferring the savings into profit side of the balance sheet which can then be paid back to investors via dividends or what not.  It is a good way for an accountant to reach C-level and then attract the attention of the board.  Never mind if it is wrong or not, let us ask another question.  What drives this behavior?  Certainly salary, bonuses, prestige, and maybe even lust for power are on the mind of the company employee looking to move up.  But who offers this proposition to the C-levels?  The Board, which represents investors in the company, right?  And who are the investors?  More often than not they are large financial firms that, while representing the rich, they also offer products to normal American business and citizens looking for ways to invest money for employee or personal 401k plans, IRAs, annuities, or some other scheme to create a retirement.  As much as Americans hate big government and big finance, most Americans have a vested interest in the health of the financial system.

Never mind all of that though, let us probe an even more fundamental issue, that of which who it is that consumes the output from gulf oil.  Each and every American is partly responsible for this oil spill.  Who do we think BP is selling this oil to?  Every American who owns an automobile or any form of motorized equipment is partly responsible, including lawnmowers, jet-skis and any vehicle that consumes petrol.  Americans chose to live in the suburbs/exurbs and drive to the office on the other side of town.  Americans chose lower taxes rather than paying more for services to improve urban areas and public transportation.  Americans have chosen this way of life, but when the source of their way of life gets in the way, they expect to be compensated for it?  Insanity!

Every weekend if you look around coastal South Carolina you see the effects of oil everywhere.  From the large 4WD trucks and SUVs hauling campers and hunting ATVs, the recreation boats flying up and down the Wando river, 5.0L* Hemi pickups used for everyday transportation (trucks are fashionable in South Carolina, in case you didn’t know), the weekend Harley Davidson hog cruisers…everywhere you look processed petroleum is being consumed for leisure activities.

America as a whole has constantly rejected the idea of dense urban living and public transportation.  Rather than sharing a public spare and even reading a magazine or book on the way to work, Americans prefer the private space of the cabin of their personal motor vehicle.  That is a choice, and while it is a valid choice, Americans must be prepared to deal with the consequences of their lifestyle choice.  Rather than scapegoating BP for everything like Obama and the Senate so love to do, a little introspection might go a long way.  But that would be asking too much.  After all, someone needs to fund the lifestyle of gulf residents–the same people who enjoyed the low price of BP petrol for so many years.

* – As I know nothing about engines, I’m not sure if its 5.0 or 5.8 L or some other technical number

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