August 31, 2006

WaMu

After talking to several friends with accounts at Washington Mutual and getting all hot and bothered by their current 5.0% APY on no-minimum-balance savings accounts (for online signups at WaMu.com only), I finally bit the bullet and opened accounts with a small amount of money. The promised advantages over Wells Fargo are simple: * Free checks for life. Which is fine with me, as I never write checks, and it galled me to be forced by Wells to buy them anyway at $40 a box for their "corporate woodcut" design. * 5.0% APY on savings, with no minimum balance. * 3˘ back on every debit card purchase, up to $250 annually. * Free online bill pay. Wells charges $7/month for the same service, so I've never even tried it. But perhaps the nicest part is that—so far—it's been far more speedy than any Wells Fargo visit ever has. I was in and out of WaMu with my opening deposits in less than 5 minutes. I'm normally in line at Wells for at least 5 minutes during off hours, and far longer at the time of day I was just there. Heck, it took me an hour of waiting when I wanted to open a checking account, and the banker (a) wasn't seeing anyone and (b) was a total bitch. I swear it's like pulling teeth to get Wells to take your money. I had been intending to open a small business account with WaMu in the near future simply because Wells Fargo seems to think "small business" equates to "raperaperape," but now I'm giving WaMu their shot for personal banking first. Here's hoping for smooth sailing.
Posted by Colin at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2006

Quick and Dirty Review: Dove Sheer Moisture

I get random samples in the mail all the time. So, I figure, why not review them?

Away we go!

Dove Sheer Moisture Shampoo
Dove claims this product is for "normal to dry hair with slight symptoms of dryness" and "for best results, use Dove® Sheer Moisture Shampoo with Sheer Moisture Conditioner."

Product is the unholy child of semen and sweetened condensed milk. Combines the visual appearance of semen with the disturbing viscosity of sweetened condensed milk. Spreads effectively through hair, lathers nicely.

Smells faintly of urinal cakes.

Left my hair feeling drier than when I started. Apparently that's why it's best used with the conditioner.


Dove Sheer Moisture Conditioner
Your typical "white turd" conditioner consistency.

Smells like J and R's Tub and Tile cleaner which, as you know if you've used it, is not a good smell.

Difficult to spread. No real lather action to speak of, so conditioning your entire head is an art and science. Leave conditioner in hair for 1-3 minutes before rinsing, per directions. Hair is left feeling soft and lush when all is said and done.


The Bottom Line: The disturbing consistencies of these products do them no favors, but when used in a pair they do seem to fulfill their promises of softer hair and reduced frizz and flyaways. I would not recommend using the shampoo alone, based solely on the fact that my hair felt worse after using the shampoo.

Posted by Colin at 1:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing

About a year ago, Gillette introduced their line of men's skin care products. And why not—it was an easy way to tap into the burgeoning metrosexual market and the theretofore untapped "I'm too insecure in my masculinity to buy products not specifically labeled for men" market.

Among the qualities Gillette trumpeted to set their products apart was that they used natural antiseptics and cleansers. This, they said, made a more gentle product that was better for you and your (manly!) skin.

I didn't really care either way, as I tried their stuff and it worked. Then last month a company sent me a sample of their men's products, so I actually delved into the ingredients on my Gillette products to see how the two compared.

Lo and behold, Gillette's playing things loose with the truth. The miracle ingredients in their products aren't botanicals like tea tree oil—in fact, it's not even miracle ingredients. It's a miracle ingredient: Triclosan.

Triclosan is a broad-spectrum, manmade antimicrobial agent. And on Gillette's face wash and even (rather inexplicably) the shaving gel, it's well toward the top of the ingredients list, which in the U.S. means there's more of it. Those gentle, natural ingredients? All of them are below triclosan. There's not even a point to having them in there when you've laced the entire thing with triclosan... or at least no point beyond marketing.

Posted by Colin at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

Deep breath. Cue interminable laughter.

The Sun Sentinel is running a story about Wal-Mart "reaching out" to the GLBTQ community.

Never an organization to disappoint, the American Family Association has the best quote in the whole article:

"Up until a year and a half ago, the AFA applauded Wal-Mart for their pro-family policies, but now it seems Wal-Mart has decided to push aside that legacy left by [founder] Sam Walton and joined those who look at the bottom line and stock prices," Sharp told the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

Wow. Just wow. Where has Mr. Sharp been living? He's described the Wal-Mart of the past 15 years.

Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart to provide a wider selection of American-made, quality, reasonably-priced goods to smaller rural communities where such a thing didn't exist. You'd be hard-pressed to find something actually made in the US on a Wal-Mart shelf today, and many suppliers have their horror stories about how Wal-Mart tried to run them into the ground (Vlasic Pickles, Rubbermaid, and latest victim Levi Strauss, for example). Which is to say nothing of the local businesses Wallyworld massacres.

Or closing stores that turn toward organizing a union. Or leaving gigantic empty stores littering the country because company policy is to keep their buildings and not sell to anyone who might compete with them in any conceivable way.

And what the hell does "pro-family" mean in the context of Wal-Mart? The company that won't let pregnant women sit down? That doesn't pay a living wage? That cuts hours so it doesn't have to pay out benefits to its employees and their families?

Being the AFA, "pro-family" only means "anti-gay," of course. Nevermind that Wal-mart hasn't been "pro-family" in any sane use of the term in years. They're supporting those damn gays now, you know, and that's just completely in opposition to families continuing to exist in this Christian nation!

(Please note that I am well aware this is not a Christian nation and "under God" is not original to the Pledge of Allegiance.)


Better yet, what exactly has Wal-Mart done to align itself with The Gay Agenda™? Have they supported same-sex marriage, or even offered their employees domestic partner benefits?

Nope. All they did was pay the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce $25,000 to become a member.


If there's one quote in the article that's just plain sad, it comes from the rep for the Chamber:

"If we were to turn our back on Wal-Mart, we would be doing a disservice to those businesses that will benefit by becoming a part of Wal-Mart's diverse supply chain," he said.

Those businesses hoping to benefit may wish to consult with the giants brought to their knees by Wal-Mart's supply chain demands. You need look no farther than Levi Strauss; a company priding itself on quality goods made entirely in the USA signed a pact with the retail devil. And what did they get for it? The closure of every last one of their US factories in favor of offshoring (their financials ceased to work with Wal-Mart's purchase prices), and the ironically-named low-quality "Levi Strauss Signature" marque for sale exclusively at Wal-Mart stores.

But hey, at least a gay-owned company can go bankrupt fabulously.

Posted by Colin at 11:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2006

Portra 160NC

Kodak's Portra 160NC was recommended to me as a good color film that scans beautifully.

While I haven't had a chance to scan it yet, I'm not a big fan of its color reproduction.

The "NC" is Kodak's nomenclature for "Natural Color"—the idea being that it doesn't come out unnaturally lush and saturated like, say, Fuji Velvia. It's also a lower-contrast film (which is apparently supposed to help with both scanning and one of its largest uses, portraiture).

I can live with the lower contrast. Easier to scan that way, and plenty easy to bump up in Photoshop. The color, though, is killing me: They might as well have made the NC signify "No Color," as my roll turned out pretty much limp. It seems to be particularly insensitive to yellow. Anything that was yellow in the real world is basically white on my prints. Same goes for greens (and certainly in part due to the lack of yellow); anything that was lush and verdant is now a really bizarre, unnatural-looking pale bright green.

At $6.21 a roll, I can't say it's a film I'd plan on trying again for anything but strict studio portraiture. Foliage being what it is, I wouldn't even consider it if someone wanted outdoors shots. The 160VC—for vibrant color—is a maybe on the list of films to try for more broad use.

Posted by Colin at 7:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

Centralia

The story of Centralia, Pennsylvania is quite interesting. It's also, at the same time, a testament to human stupidity: Just how do you decide that burning trash in an abandoned coal mine sounds like a good idea?

At any rate, lots of great pictures are out there for the browsing. Start at the Offroaders.com page and work your way through the tons they have to offer. Google can offer up several more.

Posted by Colin at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Play-Doh

Absolutely love the smell of Play-Doh? Hasbro's got you covered.

As part of their Play-Doh 50th Birthday celebration, they commissioned fragrance company Demeter to create Play-Doh Cologne.

While the smell of fresh Play-Doh does hold a special place in my heart, I'm not entirely sure people should smell like it.

Posted by Colin at 9:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

Stupidity.

Well, I had a packing list all ready for September until the TSA goons came out with their latest moronic "security" measures. It was even all going to fit in one carry-on bag, saving me the trouble of checking and picking up baggage. Sigh. The best laid plans...

Struck from my list is Purell, as "Liquid sanitizers" have been banned. I guess I'll try not to touch anything, and avoid going to the lavatory.

You can now have 4 ounces of non-prescription medical liquids, which is a step up from the stupider stupid policy, but still outright stupid. So far I'm under that threshold, as my contact lens rewtting drops are 1/3 oz (realizing that now, those suckers are incredibly expensive) and the nasal spray I plan on buying and taking is only 1.5 oz.

Amusingly, "whipped cream" is specifically listed in the TSA's list of verboten baggage. Do that many people really board a plane with a tub of Cool Whip or a can of Reddi-Whip that they needed to spell that out directly? Whipped cream is highly perishable... it's not something you're going to take home with you.

Posted by Colin at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2006

Procrastination

I really need to get into the habit of taking my vehicle in for service when I get the first hint that something's not right. As it stands, I just put it off until I instead have a group of problems, and thus get to pay for all of them in one big lump.

I knew my steering damper was probably bad. I almost had Sears do it when they were doing my on-sale-with-free-installation shocks. (Me? A cheap ass? My mama didn't raise no fool!)

I knew the transmission mount was shot; I've been having clunking tranny for ages. Wow, that one's different taken out of context.

I knew the swaybar bushings and the endlinks needed doing; I planned on doing them myself, but just kept putting it off because I was waiting for 3 ton jacks to be on sale again.

Instead of solving each of those problems individually and ergo seemingly inexpensively, I get to have them all done by a shop today at a total of roughly $900 in hopes of being able to drive straight down the road again.

And then there are all the wear items just lurking in the wings waiting to become actual problems.

Posted by Colin at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2006

When it rains...

My Jeep's all over the road lately. Hit the highway and it's a darn good thing I'm not motion sick, as it lazily meanders left and right through my lane as I fight it. Going down surface streets, it's just happy to drive off to the right if left to its own devices. A set of tires, a set of shocks, and a new suspension later, the problem's still there... so off it goes to the shop tomorrow to get checked out and hopefully fixed. (My money's on the rear differential.)

I figured, hey, since my brother's off joining the Army, I'll just appropriate his pimpy Grand Wagoneer (which I promised him I'd drive on a weekly basis anyway) and go about my day in 1988 swanky retro style.

No.

His battery is quite dead. Somewhere between 8 and 10 volts, judging by the gauge. Well into the red. And enough to turn over but not actually start.

So now I'll probably have to rent some pissy little sub-compact for $40 a day.

Speaking of money, I tried to open up an account with Washington Mutual today and slowly wean myself off of Evil National Bank. Unfortunately for me, their web site would much rather explode than actually let me do that, as all four of my attempts at opening an account have failed. The third actually seemed to be going swimmingly until it denied my application because it couldn't verify my information (which was provided exactly as required and double-checked). But hey, the three employees I talked to in the process were exceptionally nice and helpful.

Also, everything I need to do tomorrow (with a car I may or may not have) is in the portion of Tempe best described as living hell: construction galore!

One of my friends had his car totaled and found out his mother had cancer. Some friends have been fired just as they're getting ready to have a wedding. The neighbors' puppy has developed a terminal illness. My mom's car still has no rear end now two months after a towing company plowed into her.

It's been a swell couple of days. Here's hoping the rest of the week looks up.

And, I suppose, as they say... How would you ever appreciate the good without the bad?

Posted by Colin at 3:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

Ah-ha-ha-ha!

I keep hearing people utter these words: "At least cars are cheaper now with models like the Yaris, Versa, and Fit!"

It's rather funny, because all three of those are ugly as sin, though.

Beyond that, it's all a charade of cheapness: all the manufacturers have in fact done is stripped off what's become standard equipment in the rest of their line to get to those price points.

The Yaris is even stranger among its peers: You have to choose from one of two mandatory "Option Packages" priced at $820 and $2735 (the lower of which is included in the base price). There's no middle ground between the packages; it's whole hog or hand-cranked windows for you! Toyota's tack here looks really trashy when both Honda (of the Fit) and Nissan (of the Versa) still manage to include features as standard that Toyota forces you to buy.

Nissan, for example, does a rather amazing thing by including a full airbag package: driver, passenger, side curtain roof, and side curtain seat. And that's on a vehicle with an MSRP of $12,450, a direct competitor to Toyota's $12,405 Yaris sedan that comes with nothin'.

But wait, it gets better! Buying a Yaris sedan, you get a choice of but one options package—the really crappy one—unless you buy one with an automatic transmission. Apparently nobody who enjoys or doesn't mind driving a stick has ever wanted power windows, power locks, a full airbag package, remote keyless entry, or Anti-Lock Brakes.

Automakers continually amaze me.

Posted by Colin at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2006

Mmm, mail order.

I love JC Penney. I know some people hate them, it's the poor man's department store, blah blah blah... But darnit, they're essentially the only place that sells Levi's jeans in tall sizes, and they do a darn good job of it.

Two pair, en route to me now, and one more waiting to come back in stock. Had I gone shopping at any clothing store, I would have found no pair—32Wx38L is not a size many companies manufacture, much less one stores actually carry. And this includes Big and Tall stores, which for some inexplicable reason think "big" is a prerequisite to "tall." I've never found a pair of pants or shorts in a Big and Tall in a waist size smaller than 38.

At least some stores have decided to admit their lies on the face of things: Casual Male redubbed itself Casual Male XL, which is much more accurate for a store where most bottoms start at a 40" waist and inseam lengths are lucky to reach 36.

King Size... If you want to pay too much money for too little clothing, King Size is the way to go. The quality of their fabrics brings a whole new definition to "ripped off." And that's not even getting into how frumpy and ugly almost all of their clothing is. All their big-sized pants have a 38 inseam, all their tall-sized pants have a 40 inseam (and don't start until a 36 waist). Don't need that much length? Too damn bad for you! We have one size, and you'll like it! They don't publish the inseams for their shorts at all, either, so how they'll fit you is a mystery!

The crapitude of King Size is especially fascinating when you consider they're owned by Redcats, the same company which brought us fave tall- and "plus-size" (which is a stupid term for "not anorexic") women's retailer Lane Bryant.

Moral of the story: Don't let your kids grow up to be tall.

Posted by Colin at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smart policy!

Straight out of Pelican's Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee:

Any liability, either expressed or implied is limited to replacement of the product. This guarantee is void only if the Pelican™ product has been abused beyond normal and sensible wear and tear. The guarantee does not cover shark bite, bear attack and children under five.

You hear that, Marie? Keep your kids away from my stuff. They're more dangerous than sharks and bears! ;)

Posted by Colin at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2006

Canon Lens Dimensions

If you're planning out the arrangement of camera gear in a bag or Pelican case, it's rather important to realize that Canon lies.

Trying to deal with flying and having my camera gear survive, I started collecting a list of lens, body, and accessory dimensions and trying to figure out how to cram them all into the smallest (and ergo cheapest) Pelican case possible. I figured it would be faster to get the official specifications from Canon rather than actually measuring all my stuff in three dimensions.

I was right and simultaneously wrong: Canon's lens dimensions are for "naked" lenses—they don't include the front or rear caps. So if you plan everything out using simply their published dimensions, you're screwed.

The trick: Add an inch to the published length. The 50mm f/1.8 II, for example, is listed at 2.7" diameter and 1.6" long. Measure it with both caps on, and it's actually a little shy of 2.5" long. Tack on an inch, et voila, plenty of room and a little fudge factor.

Posted by Colin at 7:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

No donuts for you!

Krispy Kreme came to the Valley.

All of my local Dunkin Donuts and Winchell's locations went tits-up. When that happened.

Now tday, all of the Krispy Kremes are closed and no grocers have Krispy Kreme donuts.

What happened? Apparently the franchisee for our region went tits-up. Sweet! So now not only do we have no disgustingly sugary donuts, but Krispy Kreme gets its PR image dragged through the mud by a deadbeat franchisee who sold its employees up the brown river. Nice.

Directly-owned chains for the win, baby... I know my In-n-Out isn't going anywhere.

And I miss my Dunkin' Donuts. They were way better. And had better coffee, in my opinion.

Posted by Colin at 7:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Will to Survive

If there's one thing above all other that really bothers me about my grandparents, it's their outright refusal to write or even discuss writing a will.

My mom's mom has everything squared away; she's got a will, she's updated it repeatedly as her assets have changed, and she's been sending money to the kids and grandkids every year since (a) she doesn't need anywhere near as much as she has and (b) anything she gives us all as a gift now doesn't have to be fought over or taxed as part of her estate, or some legal wrangling by the state over the validity of her will. Her burial plot is already purchased (right next to my grandfather) and the headstone engraved. Despite that, she has no intention of kicking the bucket, and is living it up to a degree nobody would expect of an 87-year-old woman. Were it not a fact of senior life that breaking your bones is a Very Bad Thing, the woman would probably have tried skydiving and bungee jumping by now. She seriously wants to try everything she can in the time she has, and doesn't act at all like she's in her late 80s.

There's nothing like seeing her rush around, either; you wouldn't think an 87-year-old woman with two total hip replacements and a shortened leg could still darn near run, but give grandma her cane and a mission, and she books it like nobody's business.


And then there are my dad's parents. My grandfather is convinced it's an enormous inconvenience every time they call. "It's just your father" (or grandfather, for me) is the usual answering machine message. "Call us back if you feel like it."


My grandmother, who used to be one hardcore lady, has lost all her self-confidence as she's aged. You would never know from being with her today that she helped bust gangsters. You'd never know she was working in the police station when Al Capone was arrested. Or that she rode motorcycles. Or that, during the war, she was working as a riveter and may have even considered being a WASP. She was even awarded for the quality of her riveting work.

She's not that woman today. You'd never know she was. Her decreased mobility and her hearing loss are best dealt with in her opinion by staying home as much as possible and pretending her hearing's fine. She only just finally swallowed her pride and got a hearing aid last year, despite having not been able to hear hardly at all for... the better part of a decade.


But perhaps the most alarming part of my grandparents' aging is that they absolutely, positively refuse to draw up a will. They won't hear of it; it's just not going to happen.

In some states, this wouldn't be an issue. My father, being an only child, would inherit all their possessions, our family would fly out and deal with their funerals and all their possessions, the state would get their taxes, and all would be well.

Illinois apparently doesn't work that way. Absent a will, everything belongs to the state and any debtors. The state may then apparently hold an estate auction, at which point family members can fight to buy back their family heirlooms. (Now, were it me, I'd make sure that I kept a working key to my parents' house so that I could take the first flight upon my parents' death, rent a U-haul or three, and liberate everything before the state stole it. But I'm subversive that way, and the better and less legally gray solution is a will.)


To the best any of us can tell, my grandparents refuse to draft a will as some sort of voodoo. My grandfather is the only child left, my grandmother is one of a very few, and both of them have had most of their friends pass on. The working theory seems to be that as soon as they write a will, they're just asking to join all their deceased family and friends and call it a life.

Which leaves my entire family with the unsettling knowledge that, if my grandparents die in a car crash tomorrow, that's all she wrote: no mementos, no photographs, and none of the property in their house that's actually my father's. All we'd have to remember my father's side of the family with is what we've got tucked safely away in our heads. And the huge chunk of family history contained in all their photographs and the family Bible would be lost unless we could afford to play the state's game of extortion.

All the little things that make me remember the best of times with my grandparents—like my grandfather's disgustingly kitschy "coconut monkey hula girl" lamp, complete with grass skirt—would disappear into the ether.

Sigh.

Posted by Colin at 1:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

Misunderstanding

PayPerPost advertisers seem to be in need of a dictionary.

Back when it was new, many vendors were, in fact, requesting reviews of their products. After all, you can't fix what you don't know is broken, and there's no such thing as bad press.

If you go looking through PPP's listings today, you'll find most of the "review" opportunities having something in common: but a single, lonely + in the tone column. In PayPerPost talk, that means the company will only pay you for a positive review.

And if they'll only pay for a positive review... then, well, you're not reviewing anything. You're advertising and you're lying (by posting it under the guise of a favorable review). It's an abuse of bloggers and is, in fact, one of the issues many people raised when PayPerPost was announced.

Posted by Colin at 5:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ah, Terror.

1. We are simultaneously at Terror Alert Levels yellow, orange, and red. Simple and easy to understand indeed!

2. The NPS gave the no-go to reopening the Statue of Liberty in full, claiming fire danger and terrorism. The best we can do is—rather appropriately—grovel at her feet from the top of the pedestal. The statue was closed briefly in 1916 after German terrorism, and everything but the damaged arm reopened to the public (and keep in mind, this was during a real war). It remained open through additional attacks (one in the '60s, for example) targeted specifically at the Statue. But not in the 21st century, Baby!

3. The UK claims terrorists planned to bring down planes using some sort of liquid or gel. Homeland Security's solution? Ban all liquids and gels... in the cabin. Even those purchased after the security checkpoint. Moreover, explosions in the cargo holds aren't particularly preferable to explosions in the passenger cabin, and passengers were welcome to have their verboten products in checked baggage.

4. The UK, in an astounding display of stupidity that makes many of the US' own recent decisions look brilliant by comparison, bans carry-on luggage and electronics from its outgoing international flights. Passengers may take a few items in an airport-provided clear plastic bag. The banned carry-on baggage full of dangerous consumer electronics that may be bombs is then... you guessed it... carried as checked baggage.

5. But wait, they go one better! Obsessed with the potential for terrorism in the airport, UK officials elect to force passengers to wait outside the airport doors for their flights. Gigantic, concentrated mobs of people thus generate outside of locations Britain considers to be a potential terrorist target. Gigantic, concentrated mobs of potential soft targets. I see they thought that one through well: Dispersed populations throughout the airport facilities, or the potential for huge casualties in an orgy of vulnerability? We'll take the latter, thanks!

6. George W. makes another stunning speech filled with grasping at straws for ideas and awkward pauses as he attempts to form coherent sentences. He references Muslim fascists as the attackers. Fascism: "A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism." Interesting accusation from an administration attempting to Federalize nearly everything, that has been involved with sundry new morality regulations, and is associated with actions in the Middle East and Europe that some would describe as "belligerent nationalism."

Posted by Colin at 4:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Classic.

Former Chandler city councilwoman Donna Wallace apparently doesn't know when to throw in the towel: following her career suicide as a result of her city council antics, she's now running for the Arizona State Legislature on the Republican ticket.

She promises in her campaign calls "to represent you."

Gee Donna, maybe we'd actually believe it if you had ever managed to do that while you had your council seat.

Posted by Colin at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 5, 2006

Flight Potpourri

Since I'm gearing up to fly again for the first time since 2001 (yes, it's been that long), I've been boning up on the current state of all the stupid post-9/11 regulations and the changes airlines have made in the 5 years. A few interesting tidbits: * Southwest Airlines now has their own blog, [Nuts About Southwest][1]. It's an interesting way to get an inside view on the airline and to know ahead of time about changes they're making. Hooray for blogging, and double-hooray for Southwest using bloggers from all areas and bases of their company: Pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, support staff from around the country... They're all there. * At least on Southwest flights, you are now permitted to operate GPS receivers in-flight. Being a total nerd, I find this fascinating and would love to be able to follow the flight's progress as we cruise along. Would I take one? Probably not, because then everyone else would know I was a total nerd. * You can BYOB, sealed or unsealed, onto a flight... But the FAA demands that you can only drink airline-provided booze. It seems a little bizarre to let you bring opened booze on the plane but not let you drink it. C'est la vie; if flying again gets me riled up enough that I'm compelled to drink, I'll have packed cash for an itty bitty Bailey's. Or, to follow my grandfather's guide to life, brandy. ("You know why I'm still here? Because I have a glass of brandy every morning, that's why!") * The Louisville, KY airport (the one nearest Fort Knox) is a regional airport and is, in fact, [quite small][2] even as regionals go. I used to think MDW (Chicago Midway) was small. Apparently I was mistaken and will be in for culture shock upon arrival. Not to mention I'm headed for "The South" and a state with two time zones. * Former America West and US Airways pilots are still on their old companies' contracts at the moment, resulting in the hellish chaos that has become the post-acquisition US Airways, as two groups of pilots fight over who gets to fly what and you end up with some routes involving USAir to AmWest transfers. Getting to Louisville is easy. Even if you take the longest flight, your total travel time is only 4h20m. And if you're a morning person (which I can be), you can catch the nonstop which is a paltry 3 hours and 20 minutes. The nonstop is actually a hair faster than flying into ORD. A ton faster when you consider how long it actually takes to deplane, get out of the terminal, retrieve your luggage, and escape the airport when flying into ORD, but I digress. Returning from Louisville, on the other hand, is downright brutal. If you don't catch the one non-stop which leaves at 07:20, you're stuck with flights ranging from 5h50m to 7h30m, with the average travel time ending up at 6h30m. And it only gets worse once you move away from SWA. America West/US Airways tops out at an astounding **10h46m**—yes, you read that correctly—trip, with their shortest being a horrible 6h30m and the average hovering around an unthinkable 9h15m. It's almost enough to make you just fly into one of the stopover cities, stay overnight, and take a flight out in the morning to break up the horrendous blocks of time it takes to make a flight that would be 3h50m non-stop. Intriguingly enough, this approach would earn you frequent flier credits in a much faster and more comfortable manner than asking for Deep Vein Thrombosis with an 11 hour domestic flight. [1]: http://www.blogsouthwest.com/ [2]: http://www.flylouisville.com/info/terminalmap.asp
Posted by Colin at 7:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 3, 2006

Travel sucks.

My brother will be graduating from Basic Combat Training in a couple months, and I'd love to be there for him.

Unfortunately, apparently almost nobody wants to fly from Phoenix to Louisville, Kentucky: Southwest is the only carrier using full-size jets to make that flight. Everybody else has a plane change somewhere en route into a tiny regional jet (in America West's case, a jet seating an oh-so-many 37 passengers). SWA is also the sole carrier to offer non-stops to and from Louisville, and even they only offer a single non-stop per day.

Southwest is also a barjillion (nice word, eh?) times more expensive than any of the other carriers, but in my mind it's worth it to stay on a 737 for my entire flight. SWA's $319/direction, where everyone else ranges from $264 to $416 for a round trip. SWA's cheapest fare is $170/way, making them certainly not the cheapest carrier—but staying on a single 737 the entire flight is the benefit of that extra cash. And can someone tell American Airlines that's it's 2006? While they're among the cheapest fares, they're also still flying almost entirely MD80s and MD83s. No thank you, ancient plane and bizarre seating configurations.

I wonder if AmEx still offers discounted fares for being a cardholder... [Edit: Like all the other travel sites, they only book for everyone but Southwest. They do offer some good discounts, but not enough to get me on a crappy regional jet. Still, a regional jet's an improvement over the turboprops you would have been stuck with in the '80s and '90s.]

Posted by Colin at 6:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 2, 2006

WHCC

I had been meaning to try White House Custom Colour for months. It took Dyanna's recommendation to finally push me over the edge to actually open an account and submit test prints.

Opened my account on Monday, my order shipped yesterday, and my prints were just delivered about 5 minutes ago. They look great, and WHCC apparently switched to Kodak Endura for all their printing (it used to be Fuji's pro paper, Crystal Archive, the same as Costco and most of your smaller labs). Endura's fine by me—Crystal Archive, in my opinion, feels awful to hold.

Another very nice touch is that WHCC includes samples of all their paper and options with your order, so you can see the effects of metallic paper or the machine textures. Or see how well the textures really do prevent customers from scanning your proofs. Which leads me to a separate post. :)

Posted by Colin at 2:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It boggles the mind

It's apparently become quite popular with homebuilders to install carpet in both the bathrooms and the kitchen.

If there are two rooms in which I'd never want carpet, it would have to be the bathrooms and the kitchen.

Particularly stupid are the homes being built with white carpet in the kitchen. Maybe I'm just a total klutz, but I end up with something on the floor at every meal. Not necessarily a spill mind you, perhaps some breadcrumbs, but I certainly wouldn't want to contend with pile carpet in that situation.

In what alternate universe are these people living?

Posted by Colin at 2:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack