Saturday, February 28, 2009

YIFY Goes Sideways

Hi friends. Sorry that it's been like a week since I've posted. I bet some of you thought this blog was going to take another six month sabbatical, didn't you? I'll never do that to you again, I promise.

So your friends at YIFY are now in Napa Valley. We're about a day and a half and ten wineries into our wine country experience, so Kate is asleep for the night. I don't really know what to write about tonight, so I guess I'll just write about wineries and some other things that are going on here. First for the other things:

Virgin America - The best airline in the history of the world. Ever. Yes, this includes Pan Am back in the day when Leo from Catch Me if You Can was flying for free. I'm telling you, there is no better travel experience than Virgin America. The flight attendants actually have fun. Not just acting like they're having fun (Southwest). I think it has something to do with everyone on the plane being incredibly happy. Probably because they're on a Virgin America flight - equipped with fancy technology console, seat that reclines all the way back, and sort of techno dance music. I encourage all friends of YIFY to go to one of the five or so cities that have Virgin America flights, and book a flight to one of their other destinations - just to enjoy the flight. 

Okay. Enough for the Virgin America sales pitch. Now, my insights about Wine Country and Wine People.

1. Everyone who has ever been to Napa Valley has recommendations. For those of you who haven't been there, you may not know that there are like 200 wineries in about a 20-mile area. You basically can't go down the highway without running into a winery every quarter mile (or less). So it can be a little overwhelming to a first timer. This isn't my first time here, but I wasn't really in a note-taking mood the last time I came here. And by that I mean that I went golfing before wine tasting and was overserved before setting foot in a winery. I'm classy like that. Anyway, whenever I'd tell someone that I was coming out here, they'd get super excited (if they have been here) and then say something like, "You HAVE to go to [winery 1], [winery 2], and maybe [winery 3] if you have time. I have to admit that I did ask a bunch of friends for recommendations, basically to see if there was any overlap.

2. These Recommendations are Sometimes Good. So Kate and I went to about 6 or 7 wineries today and a few others last night. Most of these were ones that one of our friends had recommended. Now's the part of the post where I thank my friends for their help:
Ami - nice work on Rubicon (although I probably should've remembered going there previously). 
Annette - good call on St. Supery.
 Natalie - good call on Sterling.

If you gave me recommendations and don't see your name listed above, you should really think about what you did. Just kidding. I'm sure whatever you recommended was great and I loved it. Yeah, we'll go with that.

3. These recommendations rarely have anything to do with wine. Since there are a couple hundred wineries in the area, and most people are only here for a couple of days, I don't think anyone has actually been to every winery here. Even the guy who was pouring my wine said he had been here for twenty years but still hasn't been to every winery. So for most people, they are recommending some subset of what they have been to. Probably about the top 40-60% of the wineries that they went to when they visited. So if someone went to five wineries when they were here, they'll probably list their favorite two or three wineries as 'must see.' Well that's great, but their sample size isn't quite large enough for them to be considered an expert. Oh well.

4. It doesn't tell how much wine I drink, I still don't know anything about it. So the guy pouring the wine always says really obscure things to me and I don't know what he's talking about. Something like "this chardonnay spent 16 months in oak barrels, and then four months in stainless barrels." How the hell am I supposed to respond to that? "Oh, I can tell" or, "man that sucks for the wine, I bet it didn't like being in the barrel for all that time."

 Oh, and then they come up with a bunch of flavors that I'm supposed to be able to taste. Like 'think dark chocolate and raspberry when it's on the front of your tongue, and then prime rib when it's on the back of your tongue.' What the hell does that mean? It tastes like wine to me. Not chocolate or steak. Although I like those too. Anyway, all I really know about wine is whether or not I like it (based on taste). I don't know why I like something, or whether or not I'll like it before I try it, but I can tell after a drink. Years of wine drinking, and that's all I've got.

5. Wine makes Kate sleepy. Come to think of it, it sort of makes me sleepy too. So we're done here. Have a good night, and thanks for those recommendations. You know who you are.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mr. [insert last name] Goes To Washington

Yeah, that title would've been better if I was allowed to use my last name on the blog. Dammit, Kate. Anyway...I'm thinking about Washington quite a bit tonight. Couple of reasons for that. I'm leaving for Seattle tomorrow morning, and I was watching the state of the union earlier tonight. Yes, I realize that those are two different Washingtons, but whatever. Tonight I'm thinking about what I wouldn't do if I was in congress, specifically at those State of the Union things. How depressing is that? Instead of coming up with a list of stuff that I would do if I was a Senator/Congressman (health care, education, whatever), I'm instead thinking about what I wouldn't do so that I wouldn't look like an ass on national television. Here we go

1. I wouldn't get the president's autograph after his speech. Nobody over the age of 17 should ever ask another adult for an autograph. Don't care who it is. Ever. I've thought this for quite some time. I think the first time I thought this was at a Reds Spring Training game in Plant City, Florida. I was probably 12 and some old guy cut in front of me to get Eric Davis' autograph. I've thought of this guy and the way that he cut in front of me every time that I see an adult asking another adult for an autograph. For like the last 16 years. And then tonight I saw a bunch of Congressman/Senators asking the President for his autograph. If I am so honored to represent you, I promise to not be an old guy asking another man for his autograph.

Editor's Note: I don't really care what your politics are here. This is a safe place for everyone. I'm not really sure if the autograph seekers were Democrats, Republicans, or otherwise. They were a bunch of old white men, but that doesn't really narrow it down.

2. I wouldn't be the first to stand a clap. I don't see any real benefit in being the first one at these things to stand up and clap for what the President says. There's not much of an upside here, but plenty of downside. If you stand and clap at the wrong time (i.e. you're the only one) you pretty much look like an idiot. I'd follow the same rule that I use for standing at concerts or sporting events. I don't stand unless the person or people in front of me stands up.

3. I wouldn't wear a Sweater Dress. This one is sort of a no-brainer, since I don't even have a sweater dress. I just wanted to highlight the fact that Nancy Pelosi was wearing a sweater dress tonight. Well, maybe she wasn't, but it sure looked like it. I promise I wouldn't do this. This is sort of like the autograph thing. I don't really think a sweater dress is age appropriate. I'm going to run this one by my friend who has a fashion blog, but I'm pretty sure about this one. I probably wouldn't wear a sweater either. I think I'd probably just wear a suit.

4. I wouldn't give the opposition response speech after the State of the Union. This is another no-win situation. If the president gives a good speech, then the opposition speech always seems like a real debbie downer. If the president gives a bad speech, then everyone has already changed the channel to a network that isn't covering the speech, so nobody is going to hear you anyway. Also, the fact that the opposition response speech is immediately after the actual state of the union, the knee-jerk response of the viewing public is 'hey, this guy probably didn't even pay attention...he was thinking about/writing his speech." So there's no way this could end well, so I wouldn't do it. 

Editor's Tangent - For those of you who watch 30 Rock and watched the Republican response tonight, the best observation that I heard is that Bobby Jindal sounded like Kenneth the Page during his response speech. Anytime you compare someone to Kenneth the Page, it's an awesome comparison.

5. I wouldn't fall asleep during the speech. They always cut away to the Senator/Congressman that dozes off during these things. Dude, the speech is like an hour long. How the hell do you fall asleep. I'm laying on a couch during this thing and I can stay awake. You're actually there. You know the camera is going to zoom in on you if you sleep. Honestly. Speaking of sleep, boarding starts in about 6 hours, so I should probably go to bed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Envelope Please

Hi Everyone,

Thought I'd do an Oscars blog post, because:
1. I couldn't think of anything else to write about
2. Having a running blog is the only way I'm gonna make it to the end of this thing
3. I've always been fascinated with those running blog post things during events, and didn't really know how people do it, so I'm gonna give it a shot.

Opening Number. I'm a big fan of this one. At first, I was a little bummed about Hugh Jackman hosting. Mostly because I was pissed that he won 'Sexiest Man Alive.' I take that award very seriously, and I don't find him all that attractive. Anyway, that opening number was pretty damn funny. And he's a really good dancer. Now I feel better about the Sexist Man Alive title. In three minutes I just became a Hugh Jackman fan.

Best Actress. Penelope Cruz? Of the five nominees, she was the only one that I didn't want to win. Mostly because it was also the only movie (of those nominated) that I haven't seen. She's fine, I guess. I really thought that any of the other nominees should've won, because:

Viola Davis - Best performance of the year. Pretty good reason why she should've won.
Amy Adams - Cute as a button. I know it's a grandpa expression, but I can't think of any other way to describe her.
Marisa Tomei - I just say The Wrestler today, and she was pretty good. Plus, she had to put up with Mickey Rourke's crazy ass during awards season and during filming.
Taraji P. Henson - I didn't think she was all that great, but I do a pretty awesome impression of her character in Benjamin Button. If she won an Oscar, it wouldn't be such a damn obscure impression.

Screenplay (Original and Adapted). Sorry, I missed these two. I was typing the previous paragraph during that one. It took me awhile to figure out how to spell 'Taraji'. I don't think spell check would catch that one. Squiggly line for sure. Maybe I should only type during commercials or something. I did enjoy the Tina Fey and Steve Martin combo. He should just act in stuff that she writes. That would mean no more Pink Panther movies.

Animated Feature. I haven't seen any of these movies, but people have told me that Wall-E was good. Since I'm living alone these days, I don't think I can really go to animated movies. I think it's okay to go to the movies alone (and I have). But it's a little creepy when a guy in his 20s shows up to an animated movie alone, so there you have it. One also appreciates Jack Black's comedic timing a whole lot more when contrasted with Jennifer Anniston's awkwardness. Kate will probably give me shit for that one (she's a big fan of Jennifer). Oh well.

Animated Short. Can you actually see these in a movie theatre. I've been to some pretty damn artsy movie theatres, but I've never seen any of these animated foreign short movies on the marquee. Can they charge full price for a 30 minute cartoon with subtitles? Wait, the winning movie has a French title, but the guy accepting the award is clearly Japanese. I'm confused. Did he just quote Styx in his acceptance speech? Yep. that was definitely Mr. Roboto. Awesome. 

(commercial break). Instead of watching another Hyundai commercial and trying to figure out that whole 'if you get fired we'll give you your money back' thing, I'll comment a little bit about the red carpet special (yes, I watched that too). Robin Roberts is asking the first time nominees if they ever expected to be there. It's a decent question, I guess. But she was on SportsCenter like five years ago, so it seems like they could ask her that question too.

Art Direction. I'm a little tired of Sarah Jessica Parker wearing the ballerina dress thing. Someone please tell her that you aren't supposed to steal stuff from your mom's closet when you're in your 40s. I'm done with her until SATC 2 comes out. So Benjamin Button won this one. I don't really understand what art direction is, so I can't say if it was worthy or not. I enjoyed the movie, so we'll say it's well-deserved. 

Costume Design. The Duchess won this one. Not only have I not seen this movie, but I didn't know that it existed before tonight. Please hold while I save this one in my Netflix queue. Okay. I'm back now. This dude giving the speech is pretty full of himself. I guess I would be too if I just won an Oscar. I wonder if there's more pressure on the costume design guys to dress well at these things. I'd say yes. 

Make-up. Yeah, Benjamin Button probably deserved this one. They did make Brad Pitt look like a little old man. I have a feeling that he'll be a more attractive old man than his character in this movie, but whatever.

Random People on Stage. The daughter from Mamma Mia sort of looks like a young Tori Spelling. I guess you can decide if that's a compliment or not. And the guy presenter is the guy from Twilight. I've already provided my feelings on that in a previous post. They just played a really strange montage. It was like love scenes in movies of 2008. It included really good movie clips (Revolutionary Road, Milk, etc) and then scenes from High School Musical 3 and SATC. I felt like I was listening to a really good mix CD that then has that one crappy song on it. Probably because it has some significance to the person who burned it. Like the dude who edited the montage is Zac Efron's dad or something.

Cinematography. Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix thing would've worked better if it wasn't Natalie Portman presenting with him. Most of the people who would've gotten that joke are probably busy staring at her. They should've gotten Letterman to present with him. Here's another one where I don't really know what the award is for. Slumdog Millionaire won. I guess it was really cinematographic. Whatever that means. How obscure does an award have to be to end up on the Scientific and Technical awards a couple weeks before? How about we cut Cinematography from the big show and keep the extra five minutes just in case Mickey Rourke wins for best actor. Or just let Hugh Jackman do another musical number. That was pretty damn funny.

(commercial break). This is going to be the longest blog post ever. Sorry about that. This is a really long show. On the bright side, it'll make my typical long blog posts look short by comparison.

Best Live Action Short. I haven't seen any of these, so I'll just write about the presenters instead. Seth Rogen looks really skinny. Good for him, but I'm sort of bummed. I always use him as a test for myself. I know that when people say things like "you kind of look like the guy from Knocked Up" then it's time for me to lose weight. Now that his weight is going down, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do when people say things like that to me. Oh well.   

Tribute to Musicals. Wait a minute? Beyonce is singing Etta James again. Etta's really gonna be pissed now. I'm expecting big things on TMZ tomorrow. And what value did the High School Musical people really add to this? And the young Tori Spelling-looking girl from Mamma Mia? I know they were in musicals, but not necessary. Bleh. 

Best Supporting Actor. Anything that gets me more time with Christopher Walken and Kevin Klein at the same time is a good thing. It almost makes up for having Cuba Gooding Jr. on stage. Heath Ledger won this one. That's all I'm gonna say about that. This blog frequently crosses the line and goes away from good taste, but not on this one. 

Documentary. Haven't seen any of these. Bill Mahr just sort of made a Heath Ledger joke. Too soon, man. If someone ever made a documentary about my life, I don't think I'd want it to be nominated for an Oscar. Because if it lost to a film about someone else's life, I'd probably take it personally. I'd think that the loss meant my life wasn't as impressive as the life of the guy who won. Oh, Man on Wire won. I saw that guy on CBS Sunday Morning today, which is sort of like watching the movie.

Outstanding Visual Effects. How do I have grey/gray hair, yet Will Smith looks like he could still be the Fresh Prince? Dude is like 40-something. I doubt Carlton still looks that good. I think Benjamin Button won.

Sound Editing. In order to know which movie had the best editing, would've you have to know what the raw footage sounded like? What if the sound was just really really good to begin with. Maybe there was no editing necessary. Oh well. Dark Knight won. I remember that movie being really loud. I guess that's good sound editing. 

Film Editing. See comments above. What if they cut out the best parts? Can they only vote on this one after looking at the DVD bonus footage?

Jerry Lewis Tribute. I don't get Jerry Lewis. I don't think it has anything to do with him being famous before I was born. I don't think I would've gotten him even if he was acting today. I think it's how I'll feel in 40 years when Radiohead wins a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys. I guess it is a humanitarian award, and he deserves that. Wait a minute, how is he just getting the humanitarian award this year? That telethon has been around for like 50 years. Could've they have given him this in the 70s or something?

(commercial break). Only 45 minutes left. We can do this!

Best Original Score - Dumb Category. All sounds the same to me. Have you noticed that these are getting shorter as we go on?

Best Original Song. Boycotting this category because Bruce Springsteen's song from The Wrestler wasn't nominated. And because I need to let Gilbert out.

Tribute to people who have died. Queen Latifah is singing. I was hoping she'd sing U.N.I.T.Y. but I guess that wouldn't make sense here. I always wondered how famous of an actor you have to be to make the list of dead people. I'm guessing there's a meeting, and they have to weigh the artistic merits of all of the people who have died. That would be a really depressing meeting. 

Best Director. I think the actors, actresses, and all of the people who work on the movie should determine this one. Like some sort of employee satisfaction survey. Slumdog guy won this one. Not a big surprise there. I'm okay with it. I like listening to him talk. Good accent. Also, I never really understood why they wait until the last ten minutes of the show to give all four of the major awards. I understand keeping a couple of them until the end so you can keep people watching, but there's about a two hour lull in the middle of this show. I think if the show was on the East coast, they'd probably speed it up a bit. 

Best Actress. I kind of like this whole 'bring out the old winners of the award' thing that is going on tonight. Kate Winslet won this one. I hope she doesn't freak out like she did on the Golden Globes. Stay tuned. I haven't seen The Reader yet. I didn't think she was all that great in Revolutionary Road, but maybe that's why I'm not a voter for the academy. Oh, and yeah, she's freaking out again. 

Best Actor. So the former winners are talking now. Do you think that former winners get an invite to the Oscars for life? I'm sure that the Best Actor/Actress winners get invited back, but how about the cinematographers and short animated filmmakers? Damn. Mickey Rourke didn't win. I'm sure Sean Penn was great and all, but I would've really liked to hear another Mickey Rourke speech. Oh well. Maybe he'll make another movie in another decade or so. 

Best Picture. They haven't announced this one yet, but I'm pretty sure Slumdog is going to win, so we'll just act like it's already over.

Alright, that's all. Yes, this is the last time that I'll be doing a running blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Wagon and Other Stuff that I Forget

Hello there. Sorry for the late night posting. Not that any of you were sitting around anxiously hitting the refresh button waiting, but I still feel like I should apologize. I was trying to make it through the entire first season of Mad Men and then realized that I should probably turn it off if I wanted to get in a blog post tonight. So tonight's post is about things that I forget too often. Basically spellings or phrases that I should remember, but have to look them up all of the time.

There are a couple of little ones that usually require a quick googling. I always forget if it's grey or gray. And then I get really annoyed when Wikipedia and other sources tell me that it can be both. That really doesn't help me remember. I'd like us to just land on one of them. I know that one of them is the American English spelling, and the other is the British spelling and all that good stuff. Whatever, just pick one or stop using it in elementary school spelling bees. This isn't like the pop vs. soda's a damn color. We should be a little more definitive on this. And whichever one you pick to type in an email, there's probably a 50/50 shot that the person reading the email is going to thing that you're wrong. I have similar issues with affect/effect. I think someone should come up with some kind of web application where I can type a sentence into a little box, and the computer tells me whether I should use affect or effect. I mean, I can find a translator online that translates something in Icelandic into German, but nobody has created the fancy affect/effect machine yet. Someone please get on that.

My biggest issue is with commonly used expressions. I get pretty annoyed when people butcher a commonly used expression, especially if it's one that I use frequently. I always have the urge to correct them, but instead just start a dialog in my head of what would be the most appropriate way to correct them, and by the time I come up with something, I've missed the last five minutes of conversation. Oh well. The one that I always seem to have trouble with is 'on the wagon/off the wagon' to refer to someone who is drinking or not drinking. I always get confused on this one. It actually came up the other day when I was in a meeting. I was telling one of my friends that I was reintroducing alcohol into my life, and I couldn't remember what that meant in terms of my wagon status. 

Oh, and before I go on, I should probably clarify that alcohol is only being gradually reintroduced,  this was the scheduled reintroduction, and  the reintroduction does not mean that the healthy lifestyle is coming to an end. Kate and I are going to Napa Valley next weekend (her Valentine's Day gift), so a slow reintroduction of alcohol before our trip to wine country is just prep work. Think of it like the guys who start small fires around the perimeter of the forest fire. I never understood how that works either, but we'll just go with that.

Anyway, back to this wagon thing. My friends in the meeting couldn't remember whether drinking meant one was on the wagon or off the wagon. We spent a solid five minutes discussing this before one of us decided to look it up on their iPhone. We even had alternate theories regarding the origin of the phrase. Both were entirely made up, but equally compelling. So now we're 10 minutes into an hour long meeting, but Wikipedia finally answered the question for us. This is why my coworkers (and even my coworker friends) are okay with me just dialing into meetings and being on mute instead of joining in person and coming up with really important topics like this.

So there you have it. If you've got any sayings or words that you forget and have to look up, please share with the group. And for those who also struggle with this:

On The Wagon = Not Drinking
Off The Wagon = Drinking (aka More Fun)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lost in Translation

I was watching TV the other day. I know, huge surprise there. Anyway, someone was interviewing a foreign celebrity. The celebrity was talking about how they learned English by watching American television. This got me thinking about the kind of assumptions that one would make if their only exposure to American culture came from popular television shows. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Central Park is the Most Dangerous Place in the World. This one comes from Law and Order. I think about 50% of Law and Order episodes begin with some jogger or biker finding a body in Central Park. I don't know if there's any truth to this or not, but last time I went running in Central Park, I was definitely looking for bodies and/or Mariska Hargitay. Didn't see either of them, but doesn't mean they weren't there.

Editor's Note - I've been working on a Law and Order hierarchy to help me when their are multiple episodes of the various spin-offs on television at the same time. Here's what I've got so far:
1. Criminal Intent (with the big guy)
2. Old school original Law and Order (with Sam Watterston as D.A.)
3. Criminal Intent (without the big guy)
4. New School original Law and Order (with Antonio Anderson)
5. Special Victims Unit

Okay, back to things that one would learn from watching only American television...

America is a Magical Place with Talking Animals and Talking Babies. This one pretty much just comes from commercials. One in four commercials includes a talking animal, talking baby, or a woman talking to a dog (giving the impression that dogs can comprehend the English language). I tried boycotting products from companies that use talking babies or animals in their commercials, but it's practically impossible. Also, I can't say that I hate all of them, because those eTrade commercials with the baby making stock trades are pretty damn funny.

Miami is full of Dead Hookers. Thanks to David Caruso and the supporting cast of CSI: Miami, the fifth most populous city in the United States is best known for dead hookers. When I watch CSI:Miami, there's never a question of whether or not there will be a dead hooker, it's just a matter of whether there will be one dead hooker or multiple dead hookers.

We'll buy anything, as long as the bearded man yells at us. This Billy Mays guy is on my television as much as the talking babies and talking dogs. What the hell qualifies him to sell stuff to me. This goes against pretty much ever marketing principal that I know. The dude wasn't really a celebrity before he started yelling, he isn't much to look at, and his delivery isn't really polished. Yet we trust him enough that if he yells something about Mighty Putty, we say 'yeah, I DO have a hole in my garden hose, and this is the way to fix it.' If we see lots of English as a second language people coming here in plaid shirts and beards who shout instead of talking, I think we'll have Billy to thank.

We have cameras everywhere. I know that Reality television isn't an American invention, but I think we've done the best at over-saturating the airwaves with this nonsense. There are cameras in the kitchen, cameras on some remote island, cameras in the bathroom (thanks Real World) and cameras in houses with people doing nothing in particular (Big Brother). Throw in a couple of bad hidden camera shows, and I think we've got about 85% of the surface of the United States covered with cameras. 

I guess there are worse ways to learn a language. My Spanish classes used a fake Spanish soap opera (Destinos) as a teaching tool. So that has left me thinking that Spanish-speaking countries are full of people who are having their brother's baby and have faked their own death. Not sure which is worse.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What's In Your Wallet?

Hi everyone. It's Sunday night here, and I feel like I haven't been all that productive today. I want to do something productive tonight, but I'm a little too lazy/tired to do laundry or clean the house. So I decided that I'd just organize my wallet instead. I just started this task, and have decided that you can pretty much figure out what's going on in my life just by looking at my wallet. When you combine what I have in there, as well as looking at the hierarchy of cards in the wallet pockets, you can see how things are going. So the credit and debit cards always get the #1 position in their respective side pockets. Slots 2-10 (or so) are determined based on last use. So after I use a card, it leaves it's previous spot and moves to the #2 slot, directly behind the credit/debit card. The previous #2 card moves to slot #3 and so on. So proximity to the debit/credit card lets us know what I've been up to. Here's what this means:

Qdoba Q Card - If the frequent burrito-eating card is near the front of my wallet, it probably means that I haven't been paying attention to what I've been eating (i.e. eating way too many burritos). The Q Card ended up in the front of the wallet frequently when I worked in the office. We had a Qdoba across the street, so I was a frequent visitor. Fortunately, the Q Card is currently in the back with the expired car insurance cards, so that's a good sign. Oh, and don't worry, there are some non-expired car insurance cards in there too.

Health Insurance Card - You'd think that having the health insurance card near the front of the wallet would mean that I've been to the doctor recently. It doesn't. I don't go to the doctor as much as I should. I don't really have a general practitioner here in Charlotte. Actually, I never did in Indianapolis either, and I lived there for four years. Having the health insurance card near the front just means that it's the beginning of the year, and I probably just got my new cards in the mail. I didn't explain that part, but new cards usually get to go into the #2 slot.

College ID (circa 1998) - I'm not sure why this one is still in my wallet. I used to keep it in there for when places have college discounts. Now that I'm 28 and have rapidly graying hair, I doubt I could pass for a college student. Oh, now I remember why I keep it in's for when people are comparing really bad drivers license pictures. My license picture is okay, but my college I.D. photo is pretty terrible, so I usually share that one. I have really short hair and a half dozen chins. It looks like my boot camp photo from some fat guy army. So that's why that one is in there. If it's near the front, then it probably means someone was recently talking about bad drivers license pictures and I shared that one.

Blockbuster Card - This one hasn't made it into slots 2-8 in the past couple of years. Do those places still exist? It's amazing how you don't notice places if you have absolutely no use for them. 

Sam's Club Membership Card - If this one is near the front, it means one of three things:

1. I'm being frugal and impractical. Buying 128 ounces of something when 24 would probably be overkill, but saving money in the process.
2. Someone has recently tricked me into going to Wal-Mart, and I didn't want to go, so I went to Sam's Club next door and watched the big TVs instead. Probably some kind of made for High Def show on a continuous loop, like Planet Earth, or something like that.
3. The apocalypse is coming, and I'm stocking up on bottled water and duct tape.

Starbucks Gift Card(s) - I usually have about three of these in my wallet at any given time. I go to Starbucks every week or so, but never think to use any of my gift cards. I always use them once (like the day someone gives it to me), but then it goes to the back of the wallet, and I forget how much money was on it to begin with. I should just go to Starbucks and figure out how much money is on each of these damn things, but I doubt I'll get around to it.

There are some other boring cards in there. Nothing worth mentioning. Here are other things in my wallet:

10-12 blank taxi receipts - I collect these from cab companies when I travel. I always try to pay for taxis with a credit card. If the cabbie gets all pissy and won't take a credit card, I usually say something smartass and then pay with cash. Because of my smartassedness, cabbies in this situation refuse to give me a receipt. That's why I keep all of these blank receipts as backup. I have a strange relationship with cab drivers. This is probably worthy of its own post. 

$26 - I don't like paying cash for anything (please see taxi rant above), but sometimes I have to. Everyone should accept credit cards. 

15 Receipts - This means that I've been traveling for work, and haven't gotten around to submitting my expense reports yet. I usually average about 5 receipts/day on work trips, so I'd say I've got three days worth of receipts here. I should probably submit an expense report tonight as well. That's something productive I can do without leaving my couch.

That's all for tonight. Let me know if you've got fun things in your wallet/purse. Now for that expense report...

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Defense of Saint Valentine

I was going to wait until tomorrow to write about Valentine's Day, but decided to it today instead because: a) Most of y'all probably won't read this until tomorrow anyway b) I have plans and might not get a chance to blog tomorrow and c) I couldn't think of anything else to write about tonight. So here we go.

Valentine's Day seems to be getting a bad rap. I've heard things like "Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday, designed to sell jewelry, flowers, chocolate, and greeting cards." This is absolutely true. It is nothing if not capitalist invention. But who cares? There's lots of stuff that was invented just to sell more stuff, that doesn't make it a bad thing. I've also heard that "Valentine's Day just sets guys up for failure." I disagree with this one. If you want, you can pretty much sleepwalk through this holiday and still be a good boyfriend/husband. Flowers, dinner, card, done. How hard was that? I think it can be a litmus test, too. If you go the traditional route and your significant other doesn't think that's good enough, I think that's a good thing to know. I personally recommend being a little more creative, but if you want to go the safe route, you can't go wrong with that.

I'm not really sure why I like Valentine's Day. It could have something to do with my last name. If you know me, then you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know me, then that line was probably lost on you. Per Kate's request, my last name has been removed from YIFY. I think it had something to do with watching too many Dateline or 20/20 shows about cyber-stalking. 
 So yeah, because of my last name there's a bit of pressure on members of my family on this holiday. My parents actually tried to order a pizza on V-day one year and the pizza place thought it was a prank call and hung up on them.

Valentine's Day is going to be a little different this year. Since Kate is still wintering in Indiana, I'll be dateless. Instead, I'll be hanging out with my parents and then going to a dinner party at my friend Kath's house. Good to have plans, but bummed that Kate won't be around. At least going to a party means that I have a good enough reason to buy valentines tonight at the grocery store. That's always fun.

Editor's note: I'm trying to think of a situation where I could look like more of a perv than I did tonight. So I go to the grocery store to buy some stuff and valentines. I'm in my typical work from home attire (hoodie, workout pants, unshaven - I think this look is referred to as Homeless Chic). And I'm checking out on a Friday night with my applesauce, Diet Mountain Dew, and a pack of Hannah Montana valentines. I've tried to think of a scenario where I could look like a bigger dirtball, but I can't think of one. 

Editor's note #2: If you're wondering why I chose the Hannah Montana valentines, I can't give you a really good reason. Seemed like a better option than Hello Kitty or High School Musical 3.

So my Valentine's Day gift will be delivered to Kate via email this year. You might think that this is a fairly impersonal delivery method, but I think the gift will make up for it. And delivering it via email fits with my job. I'd tell you what I got her, but there's a chance that Kate will read this tonight and that would ruin the surprise. Kate hates waiting for gifts, so I'm going to stretch this out as long as I can. Happy Valentine's Day everyone, and if you get anything really good (or bad), post them as comments.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Life Goals

Hi Friends. Sorry for the delay. This has been a bad week for posting. I'll try to do better next week. I'm back in Charlotte now so that should help. 

On my flight last night/this morning, the guy next to me was watching The Bucket List on his laptop. There are a couple things about this that were upsetting to me. First, nobody should watch a movie on a redeye. Not cool. Second, if you are going to watch a movie, pick one that I want to watch over your shoulder. While watching Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson skydiving and falling in and out of sleep, I started coming up with my own list. I'm not going to call it a bucket list because a) that's sort of a morbid thought and b) nothing on my list involves Morgan Freeman. So instead this is just an incomplete list of not very impressive stuff that I want to do. 

Watch every best picture winning movie.  I've got a pretty good start on this one. I'm already back to Out of Africa (1986). I've gotta go all the way back to 1929, so there's still plenty of work to do on this one. Also, since they'll probably continue to give an academy award for Best Picture every year, I have to go in both directions. I think I'm up to it.

Make it through life without ever eating a beet. I'm pretty sure I've made it 28 years without eating a beet, so I think the hardest part of this one is over. I had a bit of an advantage because my parents don't like beets, so I never really confronted them during the time in life where other people can tell you what to eat. The only time when this might be an issue is if I'm at someone else's house and beets are somehow incorporated into the main course. I think if I'm confronted with this dilemma, I'll either explain this life goal or say that I'm allergic to beets. I don't think it would be a complete lie. Not that eating them makes me physically ill, but just thinking about them sitting there sweating in the salad bar bowl makes me throw up a little in my mouth, so I think that's some kind of mental allergy, right?

Have Willard Scott announce our 50th Wedding Anniversary on The Today Show. This one is going to be difficult. First, Willard usually only announces 75th anniversaries (or 100th birthdays). Second, Willard is already 74 years old. This means he would be 119 on our 50th wedding anniversary. Now I know that we're making some great advances in modern medicine, but something tells me that Willard isn't going to make it another 45 years. I love Willard. His 3 minutes on The Today Show is probably the second best segment on the show. It involves Smuckers Jam, pictures of really old people, and inappropriate comments. It's hard to beat that. I'd even set him up by giving him a personal description that's perfect for a Willard inappropriate joke. Oh, and if you're wondering what the best segment is on The Today Show, it's from 10:00 - 10:02 when Hoda and Kathie Lee have to apologize for something that Kathie Lee said the day before that offended some group of people. It happens every day and I love it. 

Give someone a nickname that becomes their actual name when they move into a nursing home. I should probably explain this one. First, I like giving people nicknames. Sometimes they stick. And by stick, I mean that someone other than me starts to use the nickname. I think I can do better. I want one of my nicknames to become the name that someone puts on the door of their nursing home room. Pretty much everyone over the age of 80 goes by some sort of nickname. I think there are several reasons why. For guys, I think it's because most of them were in the military and they all had nicknames. For women, all names given before 1940 are pretty ridiculous. Also, I think people just get tired of their names, and just like everything else, they just figure 'screw it, I'm old, I can call myself whatever I want.' So hopefully one of my nicknames makes it to the nursing home.

So there's my list so far. Sure there are plenty of other things that I want to do at some point, but one of the most common criticisms of this blog is that the posts are too long, so we'll cut it off there. If you'd like to share some of yours, you can do so as comments. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Lovely Assistant

Hi Everyone. Whoa, I didn't realize that I haven't posted since Thursday. That's bad news. Sorry about that. I'll try to make up for it with something extra special tonight. 

For those of you who watch The Office, you probably saw that Michael took Pam with him on a business road trip as his assistant this week. I'm sort of doing the same thing right now. I'm at a conference in Scottsdale, and since Kate is always looking for a good excuse to leave the frozen hellscape that is Central Indiana, she has joined me for a few days in the Southwest.

Now Kate and I have done plenty of traveling together. But this is different. I think this is the first time that she's traveled with me when the purpose is something work-related instead of just vacation. And it does make a difference. Here are the biggest differences:

Room Organization: I'm sort of anal when it comes to my hotel room. The first think that I do when I get to a hotel room is put everything where it is supposed to go. Laptop on desk and turned on. Running clothes in dresser. Work clothes hanging in closet. I'm still following my normal routine here, but Kate is not. My work travels usually don't involve a hair straightener fighting with makeup and a hair dryer for counter space in the bathroom. It does this week. 

Shoes: Okay, I'm going to go on a bit of a rant right now. When I travel, I bring two pairs of shoes. Actually, I pack one pair of shoes, and wear another pair. One for work, one for running. That's it. Kate's here for three days. She has seven pairs of shoes. Please no comments about how girls have more shoes. Just stop it. There can be no justification for this. There are two pairs of identical black flip flops. I was almost okay with this until Kate asked if we could go to DSW. I'm not joking. She wanted to go shoe shopping. When she asked, I think there were three pairs of shoes on my heavenly bed. Those six shoes almost went out the window. 

Entertainment: So this is a good one. Entertainment on work trips for me usually involves a happy hour (or four) and watching sports on TV in my hotel room. With Kate around, we do things like going to Barnes and Noble (actually did that one twice today) and watching a bagpiper perform on the patio of our hotel. Not the kind of things that I'd do if I was flying solo.

Editor's Tangent - Kate and I read a pretty hilarious book together today at B&N: I Love Ranch Dressing - And other things that White Midwesterners Like. I recommend it. 

The Voice In My Head: Instead of just having my own voice in my head, I also have Kate's voice, which says funny things. Like when Queen Latifah got on the stage at the Grammys and Kate said "her skin looks really soft right now." Or when M.I.A. was on stage and she said "Oh my God, I think she's in labor." The lady is like 8 months pregnant and performing on the Grammys, but it was still funny to me.

So that's why I haven't been posting for the last couple of days. I've been traveling with my lovely assistant. Pretty much just sunsets, comments about Queen Latifah's skin, and 14 shoes on the floor. More tomorrow, I promise. Meaning more blogging, not more shoes. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dream Jobs

So there has been a lot of talk about green jobs lately. I watched a few debates that told me that green jobs are good. I don't really know what that means. I also watched a marathon about dirty jobs. Most of the jobs involved feces. I'm just saying.  I don't really understand green jobs, and I don't think I'm qualified for any of the dirty jobs, so I'll just come up with a list of dream jobs. Some of these have been mentioned in previous posts. Sorry for the redundancy, but it's Thursday and the good TV cuts into my blog thinking time. 

Competitive Eater/Reality Show Weight Loss Contestant: This one combines my two greatest strengths. I don't know if I have what it takes to be a competitive eater. I've never really pushed myself to limits like eating six pounds of corned beef or 50+ hot dogs. I just know that I don't ever really get full, and I assume that is a prerequisite for the gig. And the competitive weight loss thing - yeah, that's right up my alley. Did I really just use that expression? What the hell is that? But it would be like six months of gaining weight with competitive eating, then being a recurring character on The Biggest Loser. Most people would probably consider that a failure, I'd consider it to be a steady income.

Corporate Conference Room Namer - As I type that, I realize that it sounds like a 'real men of genius' commercial. Fun fact...did y'all know that the guy who sings the real men of genius commericals is the former lead singer of Survivor. That's right, the guy who sings the songs about the 'Big Cooler Cooler Roller Guy' also sang 'Eye of the Tiger.' Thanks for that, VH1. But anyway, every business has some kind of naming convention for their conference rooms. Half of them are good. Half of them are terrible. This is based on a few years worth of experience visiting clients in their offices, so N > 30 here. Anyway, most of them have some sort of theme, like 'famous sports complexes' or 'opposites' or 'travel destinations.' My job here would be to evaluate the current theme, identify if a better one exists, and if so, come up with new conference names and an implementation strategy. I would do this job for free.

PETA Letter Writer - I stole this one from my friend Natalie. She told me about a letter that PETA sent to the president of Palm Beach Atlantic University. Their college mascot is some kind of fish. PETA asked them to change their mascot to the 'sea kittens' because it would make people more sympathetic to fish and less likely to kill/eat them. Who comes up with this stuff? As I've said before, I'm not a crunchy vegan hippie, but I do care about the environment, etc. But this is incredible. Sea Kittens? I think PETA can do better than this. I think there are a lot of people out there (myself included) who think that cats are pretty lame. So Sea Kittens doesn't make me more sympathetic. Maybe little dolphins, or Sea Monkeys would've worked better. Wait, I think Sea Monkeys might already be taken. So my friend Natalie gave me this one, and said that her husband wanted to apply for this job. I don't want to get into a resume battle with him, but still think it would be a pretty cool job.

Reality Show Persona Creator and Matchmaker - Sort of a long title, but I think I could fit it onto a business card. My role models here are Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray from The Real World. They came up with some great personas/stereotypes like "vindictive gay guy" and "southern guy who doesn't realize he's an evil bigot". I think I could come up with more of those, and then put decide which ones to pair up on a reality show and it would be great. Of course, it would just be a lot of yelling and fighting, but that's pretty much what any good reality show is anyway. 

Movie Trailer Maker Guy - So I think everyone has a problem with movie trailers that give away all of the good jokes in the movie. And I'm sure that studios don't like it so much when the trailer makes the movie look really lame and then nobody goes to see it. I think this would be a pretty fantastic job because I could watch the movies before they come out, and then basically determine who would go see the movie when its in the theatre. 

So that's all the time I have for tonight. If you have any dream jobs that you'd like to list, go for it. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's the Economy, (and I'm) Stupid

I'll start out by saying that I'm not completely stupid when it comes to economics. I was an econ major in college. That was mostly because you can't major in something like Business at a liberal arts university. I didn't realize that until I was on campus, but lesson learned. So I had four years of undergrad studying this stuff. I learned how to draw some really awesome supply and demand curves. I could tell you all about monopolistic competition or hyperinflation. Or if you want five pages on the market structure of the dishwasher industry, I could probably hook you up. Then I had an MBA program where I learned things about Boeing and Whole Foods and Google. It was basically just a bunch of case studies, but there were some good reads in there. Despite all of this good stuff, I still have no clue how I'm supposed to respond to the current economic situation. 

I think what my six years of higher education taught me is that I now know, without a doubt, that the people on TV talking about the economy don't know what they're talking about. My television addiction has been well documented, so we won't dwell on that here. We'll just say that I watch pretty much everything. I do take breaks from Oprah and The Biggest Loser to watch some CNBC and CNN. While these networks are riveting, the best examples of financial expert double-speak happen on shows like The Today Show or the NBC Evening News. Thanks to "the biggest financial collapse since the great depression" (TBFCSTGD for short. You can substitute 'cluster' for collapse if you want) we get to see people like Jim Cramer and Suzi Orman and Jean Chatzky on primetime network news. My favorite part is when people call in with questions like "should I continue to put money into my 401K even though it seems to be disappearing" or "I got laid off and I can't pay my bills. Should I stop paying my house payment or my credit card payment." I should point out that I don't take pleasure in these people's misfortune. It sucks, and I feel bad about that. But I do enjoy watching the financial experts giving advice that completely contradicts what they were saying six months ago. I guess their econ classes didn't cover what to do if TBFCSTGD happens either. We must've read the same books.

While this is pretty entertaining, it makes financial decisions fairly difficult. I mean, the lady on The Today Show told me that I should be saving up all of my money, then the guy on the news told me that the economy is blowing up because everyone is saving their money and we need to spend more. This confuses me. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure I can't do both. It's like having Paula Dean follow Richard Simmons in the guest lineup. Oh, that happened too. 

It took me a semester of Investments Class (Econ 350) to realize that I'm not smart enough to beat the stock market and that I should just have some smart person who understands this manage that kind of stuff for me. Now it has taken TBFCSTGD to realize that those people might not exist. And if they do exist, they aren't the celebrity financial experts on television. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I'm not really sure what to think of Pepsi right now. Not their products. I could really care less about that. I drink Diet Mountain Dew (a Pepsi product). Or garbage water as Kate calls it. She stopped drinking pop a few months ago, and isn't a big fan of my DMD addiction. Anyway, I'm not conflicted about Pepsi's products, it's with their advertising. On another note,  I don't think I've ever had an actual 'Pepsi'. If I drink regular cola, it's the lesser half of a mixed drink. Usually a Makers and Coke. I heart regular coke. Alright, back on track. Here's what's going on with Pepsi advertising:

Pepsi, I was with you though the dancing bears. It wasn't really my taste, but I was okay with it. Whatever. I also stuck with DMD even after the barrage of extreme sports commericals. I'm not going snowboarding tomorrow and I doubt I'll ever ride a BMX bike, but I'll still drink my DMD. But in the last month, you've really lost me. 

First there was the Obama knockoff commercial. These started right around the inauguration. Pepsi was using the 'yes we can' song and their logo sort of morphed into Obama's logo. I don't think I can write much more without commenting on how amazing it is that our president actually has a logo now, and that multinational conglomerates would actually try to knock off the president's logo. I'm not Doris Kearns Goodwin, but I'm pretty sure that never happened with Millard Fillmore or Rutherford B. Hayes. How damn smart are the people who worked on Obama's campaign? I don't really care about your politics, but you have to admit that was pretty impressive.  I'm almost okay with this Pepsi discretion. Obama's logo did sort of look like the old Pepsi logo. So Obama sort of borrowed it from Pepsi, and then they adapted their logo to look like his. Sort of annoying, but understandable. The song thing still pissed me off, but I'll get over it.

Pepsi's latest offense happened around the same time, but I only realized it during the Super Bowl. Pepsi ran a spot on Sunday about MacGruber. It's a knock-off of MacGyver. Not super funny, but better than most Super Bowl ads.  I had seen the bit before as an SNL. Same characters, same running jokes, etc. So at first, I thought that SNL must have sold the rights to Pepsi or something. Then, when I was sitting in my cold ass house today, I thought that maybe the actual SNL spots that happened over the past couple of months might have actually been Pepsi commercials. And then tonight the interweb confirmed that this is the case. Doh. So Saturday Night Live has fake commercials that are actually skits, and they have fake skits that are actually commercials. I think I'm cross eyed, just trying to explain this. 

I'm not really sure how to to feel about this. The bits that I liked on SNL were actually commercials. Then the same bits were run as Pepsi commercials during the Super Bowl. As someone who does something somewhat related to marketing and advertising, I have to appreciate it. As someone who really likes comedy and the glory days of SNL, I'm a little sad. 

Sorry that this is a confusing blog post, but it's a damn confusing situation all the way around. So if you can follow what I'm talking about here, please tell me if I should respect Pepsi for doing this, or be mad at both SNL and Pepsi. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Furnace Shopping

Hello Friends. Greetings from my 54 degree house. I'd use the little degree symbol, but I can't figure out how to insert special characters in this little blog editor. So as the title and the first few lines suggest, I'm in the market for a brand new furnace. Awesome. Here's my story.

Kate and I wake up on Sunday morning, and it's only 63 degrees in our house. This is odd, since the little computer in the hallway says it should be 70. The house isn't making the noise that it should be making. Not good. Not good at all. Not good, because I don't like being cold. Not good at all, because the big loud machine in the attic happened to stop working on one of the rare weekends when Kate is actually in town. She likes our house, but still has some residual panic attacks about stuff not working in our sort of old house. I'm having flashback to when we put an offer on the place and she immediately thought that everything would start to blow up. Now this is happening. Balls.

If you're a loyal reader, you probably know that I really don't know a whole lot of stuff about things like how cars work or how furnaces work or things like that. I just know that the loud thing in the attic should be making noise and then create heat. Neither of those things are happening. So I call the company that has the annoying jingle. I call them because A. They have an annoying jingle B. They don't charge extra for Sunday house calls C. they have instant chat support on their website. This means I can actually get a technician to come to my house on Super Bowl Sunday without ever talking to a human. So the guy from the company with the annoying jingle comes to my house on Sunday afternoon. He puts on his little booties and goes up to my attic. Then he tells me that I need a new furnace. Here's our conversation:

Guy from company with annoying jingle: You need a new furnace
Me: Shit, that sucks.
Guy: Yeah, your heat exchanger has a hole in it. Do you know what a heat exchanger is?
Me: Nope, but it sounds important
Guy: Yeah, we don't fix motors if the heat exchanger has a hole in it
Me: Okay
Guy: If we do, there are only a couple of things that can happen
Me: Oh yeah?
Guy: Yeah, either it'll start a fire and your house will burn down, or carbon monoxide will leak into your house and kill you
Me: I don't like either of those options
Me: So how much is a new furnace going to cost me?
Guy: I'm just the technician. We'll have to get a sales rep out here. Buying a new furnace is like buying a new car.

So there are about five things in this conversation that could've caused me to go off on a tangent right now. Like why the hell does any item have one part that is more valuable than the entire unit, or which of those two options (house fire or carbon monoxide death) did service guy think was worse/better. But we'll focus on the last point here. Buying a furnace is like buying a new car? Really? So on Sunday night I was thinking that maybe he meant I could just go on CarMax or and learn all I needed to learn. Or that I could find some good used units in the newspaper or on eBay. I found out today that he was really referring to the actual sales representatives, and not the actual furnace itself. Because furnaces are nothing like cars. People look at lots of different options for cars, and buy cars for different reasons. Furnaces only have one purpose (producing warmth) and only have two things that they shouldn't do (1. stop making me warm 2. kill me). So I guess it is just the sales guys that he was talking about. I had three sales guys come to my house today.

Guy #1 - Sales Rep from company with annoying jingle - He showed up this morning. Confirmed that my furnace was hosed. Asked me a couple of questions (probably to confirm that I don't know a damn thing about furnaces) and then went out to his PT Cruiser to get some paperwork. Then we sat down at the kitchen table to talk about prices. His prices ranged from  a 10 day European vacation to a 14 day European vacation. Before he opened his colorful price book he asked me what line of work I was in. I think this was just to confirm that I don't know shit about furnaces, but I thought we had already established this. I answered honestly. So I told him I'd talk to Kate about it and would get back to him. He said he could have someone out to get me a new furnace this afternoon. I bet that line works way better in a colder climate. I live in Charlotte. Having a house temperature in the mid 50s is certainly annoying, but I can wait a day or so. I again told him that I'd call him later. He got a little pissy and asked me who else I had coming in to give an estimate. I gave him the name of another company, and then said that my neighbor (the unemployed investment banker) was also going to come down and give me a quote. Of course this wasn't true, but he was lying all morning, so I thought it was just the thing to do.

Guy #2 from Company #2. His company doesn't have an annoying jingle, but their website is pretty annoying. Lots of animation and some audio that I didn't want or need. This guy was bad news from the start. First, he didn't put on any booties. He just went upstairs with his boots on. What the shit is that? I can't even going upstairs with my shoes on without getting yelled at. Yes, this is a ridiculous rule. Especially since Gilbert can go upstairs whenever he wants, while he just digs around in the yard and at the bark park all day. Yet I can't wear my shoes upstairs? Yeah, I know, but I'm not going to win this one, so we'll move on. So this dude pretty much follows the same procedure. Goes to the attic, asks me questions to confirm that I know nothing about the HVAC biz (including, but not limited to not knowing for sure what HVAC even stands for). And then we go to the kitchen table for the colorful price book. Kate was home for this one. She was already a little pissed about the upstairs shoes thing, so I knew this guy had no shot. Then he asks us what we've budgeted for this. Like people actually plan on their furnace crapping out or have some sort of budget set aside for this. Like we weighed the pros and cons and somehow landed on new big heat creating box instead of trip to Greece. I think that was his second strike. His third strike was leading with similar prices to the first company (same as guy with annoying jingle) and then following that up with:

Guy: So this isn't public knowledge yet
Me: Okay
Guy: But I'm going into business for myself. I bought my first truck for the business this weekend
Me: Okay
Guy: So if you go with my company (not the one he's representing) I can do it for [insert price]
Me: Alright. We'll talk about it, and get back to you.

And the price for his yet to be formed company was about 1/2 of what he was quoting with his actual company. How could that possibly work? Complete shadeball. It's not any kind of ethics that led me to rule him out. It's that this was just a really dumb approach. I mean, there's no way that I'm going to go with his existing company if the other 50% is just overhead and mark-up, and I'm not going to go with some dude who is just starting a new company and has zero customers. If he would've just come in and gone with 'yeah, I used to be with company X, now I'm with company Y, and we charge Z - 50%, then I might have considered it. Gotta go all in, shadeball.

So bachelor #2 was out. At this point I realized that I should probably check and see if I had any kind of home warranty or anything like that. Yes, most people would've probably done this step before any of the other men came over, but let's just give me credit for checking this before dropping 4k on a new furnace. So it turns out that I do have a home warranty. And it'll pay for a new furnace. I just have to have their technician guy come out and confirm that I need a new furnace before they'll cover it. Score. Glad I got that home warranty that I didn't know that my realtor signed me up for.

 So this guy #3 comes over. Puts on his booties before going up stairs (good call, since Kate was home) and confirms that my furnace is dead. He then says that the warranty will cover the cost of a new furnace and the service, but that I'll have to pay for some inspections, and for removal of the old furnace. Now if he was the first visitor of the day, I probably would've made some smartass comment about wanting to keep the old furnace and that I'd build a robot out of it, but it was later in the day, and neither of us were really in the mood for this. So I just thanked him and he left. The warranty people called me tonight and said that they'd do it for about $700 total. Which is like a 1 day European vacation. So that sounds better. So now I have to:
1. Deal with a cold house for a couple more days
2. Realize that the $3,300 that I saved is not extra discretionary income, and that I didn't somehow 'earn' a 9 day European vacation in this deal
3. Decide whether I should turn in Shadeball guy #2 or just stop answering his calls

That's all for now. Sorry for the long post. I've had a couple days off, so I couldn't help myself. And the typing is keeping my fingers warm.