Used Cars


So, I just completed that daunting task, that least liked yet most desired of consumer transactions, the buying of a car.

I think people generally like the experience of acquiring a new car, but everybody is wary of what goes into that point before you get to drive away. It should be simpler. It really should. You shouldn’t have that sense of dread or just how much can I keep from getting screwed mentality. It should be easier to get to that point where you can relax a bit instead of being on guard, on edge against the haggling on an epic scale mentality.

Purchasing should be less gimmicky and less prone to nonsense.

Now, I got a nice car and a good deal, and a warranty to boot, but the stuff you have to go through to get there is pretty ridiculous.

I left my key so my 2005 Corolla could be appraised and was taken on a nonsensical tour of all the service bays and other rooms that accomplished nothing. We came back and I asked for my key for my car. “Well, Mike, let’s look at the deal…”  By this point I had told them what I could afford for the car I was interested in, and asked for my key again. The manager comes down to talk to me (Without my friggen key) and wants to talk more. I’m fine with talking but enough of the foolishness and faux ransom. I told him one more time what I could afford. If he could do that, we got a deal. Because the theatrics took so long, it went dark and there was no longer anybody for him to talk to, and as result, he tells me he will contact me in the morning and on the FOURTH request surrenders my key.

I head home and begin the next day at my office, morning goes by, nothing.  2pm and the guy who was going to call me “in the morning” didn’t specify as to which one he was referring to is off, but he told the guy who is on duty.

Yeah, sure.

The original sales rep calls up with an offer. It bares no passing resemblance to what was discussed the night before. I, by this time, have no problem being every bit the snide jerk back to them and in my best angry dad voice, remind them of where my line in the sand stood, the previous night’s best offer. The salesman, who had no idea about the car, say he’ll try “to work that miracle for me.”

“if I can complete that Hail Mary, can I call you?”

Yeah, sure, especially since we agreed to that LAST NIGHT!!

Now, he didn’t know the car, and that’s fine, you got a lot of em, it’s a lot to keep track of, but a little honesty. If you don’t know something, say so, don’t keep talking and let your voice trail off with every sentence. I’m not a rocket scientist, but my bullshit detector is running pretty high. I mean I’m a parent, I can tell when a tale is being woven, nearly told the guy to ask his mother.

Done, and done, but wait, there’s more.

We have to go talk about “accessories.” Again, don’t switch off the bullshit detector. Deal is done, but they want to know if I want an overpriced aftermarket remote starter, floormats, serial number etchings, etc.

No.

Then I get to fill out the customer survey. I couldn’t do it without laughing. If you looked around the dealership, I expected to hear the Yakity Sax music from Benny Hill playing.

A good car and ultimately a good deal, but good thing the nonsense was affordable as there was lots of it.

It’s no wonder we all like cars, but nobody likes buying em.

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Our Top Story Tonight


“If only news networks would pursue wastes of taxpayers’ money and political BS like they cover First Lady hair and inaugural lip-synching…”

That is an apt sentiment. Why anybody cares if Beyonce sang live or to her own recording escapes me. Pretty much every grand performance like that is recorded to guard against weather and technical elements.  Enjoy the moment and move on. Yo-Yo Mama “cello-synced” at the last inaugural and nobody said boo. The wonder on Monday was that James Taylor’s guitar cooperated for him. The weather can play havoc. So, in a word, so what. Move along, Network morning shows, there are actual news to cover.

Only interest I have in the football player with the imaginary girlfriend issues is if the Bills take him. They should, they need linebackers.

The discussions, internet memes, and blatherings of self appointed constitutional scholars continues in the various facets of the gun debate.  I was forwarded the following and thought it beared reprinting. It was written by a guy named Josh Fielder and I wish I wrote it. If you are on facebook, follow him. This is good thinking:

“So, here’s my two cents (which will end up being closer to $1.50 I’m sure) and I’m sure I will regret posting this later, due to the “friends” I will lose while exercising my First Amendment, but here goes. Instead of posting a meme with a picture and a falsely attributed quote or a made up statistic, I’ve spent my time researching the gun violence/gun control debate. And I’d like to talk about some of the pervasive themes I’ve seen lately. First off, Hitler did not say “In order to conquer a country, you must first disarm its citizens.” In fact, Hitler made it his position to enable guns to be obtained more easily. http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/disarm.asp  Secondly, the presidents, and I mean ALL of them, and their families, receive death threats on a daily basis. President Obama did not enact the regulations that REQUIRE Secret Service protection for him and his family. If you believe your children are as much of a target as the president’s children, then you have a self inflated idea of your position in this world. http://www.secretservice.gov/protection.shtml .Thirdly, there is NO law or bill being considered that would allow anyone to come marching into your home to take your legally obtained and legally owned firearms. There are possible laws that are being explored that would require more responsibility on the part of the gun owner or person purchasing a gun (i.e. pass a background check even if buying a gun from a gun show dealer). If you buy a car from a dealer it must be registered (a record of the transfer is documented). If you buy a car from a private citizen, it must be registered. If you buy a gun from a dealer, there is a record of that sale and it is registered. So how is it illogical to require the same for private sales of firearms? Fourth, there are not more people being killed with baseball bats than guns. If you disagree with that because you saw a picture stating otherwise on the internet, then I would like to offer you the chance to buy some oceanfront property in Arizona and I’ll throw in the Brooklyn Bridge for free. There is no magical solution for solving the problem of gun violence.

THAT is what we need to solve. http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/baseballbats.asp
We don’t ban cars that are used in DUI related deaths, but we do enact regulations regarding blood alcohol limits, prosecute people who enable a drunk driver to operate a vehicle after serving them, promote a DUI campaign raising awareness and educating drivers on the dangers of driving while intoxicated. All of which has reduced DUI related fatalities by over 40% in a decade. http://www.centurycouncil.org/drunk-driving/drunk-driving-statistics
The media is not hiding other gun related stories because they want to sensationalize the problem, they are simply unable to cover every gun death story because there would be an average of 80 of them each day. So they concentrate (unfortunately) on the massacres which I think we can all agree, happen all too often.
I find the fact that more children are killed in the US by guns than in the entire Middle East region, very disturbing.
I find it disturbing that the NRA blames the rise in violent shootings on video games and then comes out with its own shooting video game (categorized for children as young as 4 years of age) less than a month after Newtown.
I find it disturbing that other countries spend in excess of twice as much as the US on violent video games and have a small fraction of the amount of gun related deaths/injuries.
I find it disturbing that instead of looking for a solution to a problem like Newtown, there are people wasting their time and energy by trying to turn it into a conspiracy theory.
I find it disturbing that guns are the third largest killer of children ages 5-14 in the US.
I find it disturbing that a child in America is 12 times more likely to be killed with a gun than the rest of the “developed” world.
I find it disturbing that there are more guns privately owned in America than the next SEVENTEEN countries combined.
I find it disturbing that all of these statistics are not discussed but fake statistics about a baseball bat death rate are plastered everywhere.
I find it disturbing that some people believe that the ONLY answer to this problem is more guns.
Banning all firearms is NOT the answer, which is exactly why it’s not being proposed. This country has enacted laws that didn’t work before, so they’ve been revised, repealed, reformed, etc. It’s ludicrous to think that as a society, we evolve, but the laws governing us cannot? The NRA states that the assault weapons ban didn’t work the first time. Well, you know what they say, “If at first you don’t succeed, f*%k it.”. If armed guards are the only answer to ending school shootings, then explain the VT shooting. Virginia Tech had an entire police department complete with a SWAT unit. Explain Columbine, which had an armed officer on staff. When discussing an end to gun violence in schools, there should be NOTHING left off of the table.
Ronald Reagan, a huge gun proponent and signor of the Brady Bill, wrote to Congress in 1994 asking them to propose legislation limiting or stopping altogether the manufacture of guns classified as assault weapon. And anyone saying “assault weapon” is a made up term should remember that every word in every language is, in fact, made up. And yes, criminals don’t typically obey laws, but we still have them. Can you use that logic to say there should be none at all? No. Let me be clear, I am NOT anti gun. I have nothing against guns or responsible gun owners. I served proudly in the military, I worked in armed security, I’ve hunted, and enjoy target shooting since I was a kid. And I’m sure most gun enthusiasts are the same way. However, this issue should be discussed logically and rationally, and all I see are comments and pictures that are anything but rational and for the most part, are just viral, inflammatory, unresearched, vitriol. The president enacted 23 executive actions today, of which only 2 have anything to do with limiting the availability of a category of gun or a magazine capacity. The remaining 21 deal with aspects regarding background checks, school safety and mental health system requirements and deficiencies. Will it be a perfect solution? No. Will it help? We’ll see. Is it better than doing nothing? Definitely. If we keep using the statement, “It’s too soon to talk about it.” after each tragedy, pretty soon, we’ll never talk about it.
OK, so maybe it ended up closer to $2.00 instead of 2 cents. So sue me.”

On the money

February managed to tick me off


The shortest of the months was very harsh. Usually I bask in such things as February marking the Beatles arrival or my own for that matter, but I’m glad to turn the page, even if March Lions all over us.

Perhaps, it was the unrelenting cold.(are we all tired of single digits?)

Perhaps, the lack of sun

Perhaps it was the need to repair one tire on my car.(flat tire, single digits)

Perhaps having to buy two more. (goodbye tax refund)

Perhaps it was having to repair the fourth less than a week later.

Perhaps it was the mild concussion suffered two days before one of my offices bigger benefits (having slipped on the ice in front of my former house).

Perhaps it was the ticket (for making a left turn? with the light? I received taking my daughters to pick up their glasses.

Perhaps it was the rent increase that arrived in yesterday’s mail

but I’m ready for a new month.

There are always positives, but as a whole, February was a kidney stone of a time frame. Never had a time period work my last nerve

There, now, a license plate for my Bike??

Straw Pollin’


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You can understand how the political process makes people yawn, become disinterested, or just go flat out postal in frustration. Not a day has gone by over the past few weeks, that I don’t come home to find anywhere from 3-7 glossy 9″ x 12″ mailers from all the candidates up for election in my area. The common thread is that everyone is, and I mean every document, craps on the opposition. If you are going to send me so much glossy paper, tell me why I should vote for you, not why I shouldn’t vote for the guy you are running against. Stop with the lesser of two evils, of making me hold my nose while I fill out the ballot.If you get the gig, what are you going to do.

Regardless if it is a local, state, or federal election, the vitriol is directed at what a crappy person his or her opponent is. And pundits have the nerve to wonder why people don’t vote. I make it to the polling place because you are supposed to, but you can understand how people can become disengaged because the bulk of the candidates are.

It comes as no surprise to this independent that we are not sending choir boys to Washington, Albany or even County and City Hall. I long suspected there is something in the water at the State Capitol where Caribbean junkets are written off as “economic development” and 20 years in other public offices makes you an “outsider” in Albany.

I don’t care that two candidates for the same office hate each other and everything they stand for, don’t particularly care if they speak of each other with affection either. Stop polluting my mailbox with laminated crap!

The masses are cynical, if ill-informed for a reason. There was an almost throwaway bit of dialogue on The West Wing that I think is pretty on the nose: “Politicians are always running for something. When one campaign finishes, the next one begins.” Okay, it sounded better when Stockard Channing said it, but you get the idea.

Just once, I’d like to open the inbox and be greeted with something telling me what you are going to do if I vote for you. Not in blank platitudes, no pronoun-laden propositions, just tell me your plan. You want my vote? Fine, what is in it for me? Can my kids schools be safe from funding foolishness? Are you going to do something to improve the jobs situation? Can you help make the government work for the people? (And don’t say run it like a business). Can you quit spending on stuff for you when cutting programs that improve the quality of life here? Can you just quit spending what you ain’t got?

But I’m not counting on those questions getting answered anytime soon.

I’ll queue up on Election Day, but I’m tired of picking between “Who gives a rat’s ass?” and the “lesser of the established evils.”

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I want it to be a case of why I should back somebody other than he or she isn’t the other guy.

Yet, that seems to be the reason to go this year. Decisions are made by those who show up.

Hopefully, that means everybody.

Random Notes


Letting it roll….

–a member of my employer came up to me at our entrance on a very busy Good Friday and screamed that I was full of certain substances and how being a member should exempt her of having to stand with such crowds. I made mental note that the language choice was interesting since her child probably wasn’t hanging out with sailors yet and that she didn’t notice that the 1500 people that she wanted to cut in front of were also members.

–nothing is a great physical equalizer like standing on concrete for 4 1/2 hours to make you realize that you are no longer bulletproof. I got back to my desk and my back was feeling every bit of its 46 years. Send a celtic kid into the sunshine for the first time and he’ll come back a sun tanned version of Miracle Max. “Oy” was the watch word for the rest of the day, and wrecked me for the night.

–Playoffs start in a week and while the Sabres are leading their division, it doesn’t seem likely that they will run into Tampa or Florida. Get yer crap together fellows.

–My inner sports geek is excited for the opening of baseball season. Controversies aside, something about opening Night at Fenway with the Yankees to start the season feels like must see tv tomorrow night.

–Let me see. The state is about the financially pawn the school systems, firing teachers, closing programs and sacrifice still isn’t getting felt in Albany. The CSEA says they are already sharing the burden with positions going unfilled. Yeah, sure. The State says “hiring freeze,” which for you and me means one thing, for Albany apparently keeps the number in the five digits. The state apparently needed my $10 refund to make sure one of Steve Pidgeon’s folks had lunch money. Are you sure you want the gig there, Andrew?

–I’ve been to Dairy Queen twice this week (Don’t judge me), I was taking the kids! Shaddup.

–Not feeling especially compelled about the Ipad, mostly because I don’t have the spare $500 laying around to invest in one. I think if I did, I would literally be someplace else. I’ve been doing a lot of money chasing lately which has me a little afaid for my creative abilities. Besides, I’m still settling in with my Iphone. Most features, I like, there are a few clunkers, but I have no qualms over the $49 price tag thus far.

–No Easter carols?

–Is my fate going to be determined when I slice the fanny off my butter lamb for a more enjoyable english muffin?

–Not being much of a practicing anything currently, I’ll opt for this over the Ten Commandments (Edward G. Robinson “Where’s your messiah, now, see”)

The American Dream


Borrowing a little from Buffalo Geek, a lunch time discussion was very timely into just how broken our system is and how truly screwed we are. Maybe I was dreaming, but it seemed like Congress would argue and debate an issue with an eye toward crafting something. Now, there is just mutually assured petulance. Brother George knew of what he spoke

Nobody uses the beaches.


Sigh!

http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/962199.html

6.5 million in savings. (could probably find that amount elsewhere, instead jobs won’t be had, people won’t vacay, facilities will get more dilapidated). Wonder what that will wind up costing in revenue. I notice nobody talks about Albany making cuts, working more efficiently, spending more responsibly, none of that. In the honor roll of states, New York is a C student.

True Health Care Reform


I think I know what all the health care debaters are missing. I think the President, Congress, and all the semi-interested parties are focusing in the wrong areas.

I had my only experience to date with an MRI machine in August of 2008. Aside from some claustrophobia that made my 44 year old self wanting my mom (or anybody else’s for that matter) to be there to make it all better, I learned two salient details. MRI machines make sounds like my folks ’67 Ford used to and there is no way in hell that my 30 minutes of sheer bliss cost $1800.00.

I know the guy running the machine wasn’t pocketing those bucks either. I’m facing yet another chapter in insurance inefficiency once more. My previous employer had dental insurance on my kids until October of 2007 when I left for my current climbs. The kids were picked up by their Mom’s insurer who refused to pay anything in 2007, 2008 and the first part of 2009 because they were under the impression that my ceased policy was doing the work. This didn’t seem to bother them when my policy was active. That in and of itself was a mystery.

To rectify the situation, I had to go to the previous insurer, Met-Life, and have them draft a letter saying that they were not insuring me as of October 2007. Sent that off to GHI and (screw it, I’m naming names) thought all’s good. Dentist office was still twisted. So, I called back GHI and retraced my steps and made an agent process each appointment for each child.

You’d think all’s good. Until yesterday, when we get the notice that two appointments still slipped through the cracks. This really shouldn’t be this hard. Yet, as I write this, I’m about to slip into the void once more and get immersed in a divide of medical customer service that as precious little to do with health.

I’ve never thought it was the health care practitioners, it’s the fact that the first thing you encounter in a clipboard in any doctor’s office. I was able to call the emergency room doctor who initially treated my Bell’s Palsy and successfully get a referral for follow up. It is the craploads of data out there and it is being criminally mismanaged. My kids dental odyssey has taken months to get righted. That is where money is disappearing.

I’d like the President and Congress to come together on that one. Clean that up and you can say you had yourself a bit of a day.

Breaking News


needs to be redefined. The obvious isn’t necessarily news. With all the snow lately, my car keeps saying “Low traction” because apparently the No Shit light is burnt out. Information that really isn’t

For example, Mark McGwire admits to steriod use when he broke the home run record? Really? whodathunkit? To watch him as an Oakland A, he could swing for sure, but like Bonds before him, he made the transition from gangly to Popeye before our eyes. That was more than eating right and lifting a little

Sarah Palin signs with Fox News. Seriously, I’m gobsmacked, didn’t see that one coming.

In a related note, the Pope apparently is still Catholic and Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

“Nothing new to report in the Bills and Bill Cowher…” then why report it?? Airtime is at such a premium that most of the reports on the local news sights segue off to their websites and nondevelopments warrant hyping? If you got nothing to say about the matter, move on. This is a philosophy that will help keep food on your plate at the dinner table as well. tell what we need to know, like the details behind the circus of the Erie County Legislature or even if the funeral procession for Gumby’s deceased founder will all move on their right leg only.

In other news, bears, if left to their own devices, will shit in the woods.

Train was definitely in vain


While I reshuffle my mental decks from everything from mayoral aides asking not to know details, to what retread will take the Bills HC job, to sponsors bailing, to donors bailing, things generally not working right, to a sponsor signing, to whatever, how about a little night music.

I’m going to the movies