Saturday, February 26, 2005

Well, I finally have managed to get enough information together about Texas Breweries to compile into a book. If you have the least bit of interest, I'd appreciate it if you buy a few copies.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Subsidizing Warner Brothers in Their Fight Against Piracy

Warner Home Video is going to be taking the fight against piracy in China to the streets. Basic DVDs without special features will be made available shortly after being released on move screens. These special DVDS will cost about $3.00. A little later, they will offer DVDs with the added features will sell for $4.

I just checked the Warner Brothers website. We get DVDs a few months after the movie is released and we get to pay $30!

I don't know about you, but if Warner Brothers can afford to sell DVDs for $3 in China, they could afford to sell them for $3 here. Is there any doubt that we, as consumers, are being screwed by the movie companies and the recording industry?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

One of the benefits of having so much written and published online is being able to cobble together a quick piece for a friend.

A friend of mine has a great nephew serving in the Middle East. He hasn't been home for 2 years. She put together a package for him and asked me to write a letter. Using parts of my website and parts of this blog, I was able to come up with a seven page letter in 45 minutes.

Now if only I could find some paying work . . .

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I used to work for R J Reynolds Tobacco Company as a salesman. At no time did I ever see, or hear, that the character of Joe Camel was designed to attract underage smokers. He was designed to creat a younger, hipper image for the brand that was created in the 30s. My sales went up, and I was, and still am, angry that people automatically assume a cartoon character, by definition, must be aimed at children. There are plenty of cartoons used to advertise prescription drugs, junk food, and other, more wholesome, products. No one suggests that Zoloft's animated ad campaign is aimed at kids. No one is suggesting that the animated bears shilling Charmin toilet tissue is targeting kids.

Now the assault has moved to breakfast cereals. Undeniably, these ads target kids. So did the old Ronald McDonald ads. If your local channels still show cartoons on Sunday morning, mine don't, you probably see ads for all sorts of candy, toys, and food using cartoon characters. Ad men aren't stupid. They know that when Mom or Dad is in the grocery store, and the kids start screaming, the parents cave. After all, disciplining kids is child abuse.

Candy manufacturers made a lot of money putting candy racks at the checkout lanes in your local mega mart. Parents who were no longer allowed to discipline their kids demanded candy free check out lanes. And we got them. Now we have checkout lanes with tabloids announcing the latest celebrity marital infidelity or same sex romance, magazines with lurid cover lines telling how how to improve your love life, and tiny little books promising to teach you how to win the lottery or improve your life with astrology lining the lanes.

Since parents can no longer deny their children's every whim, it falls to the government to do it. No longer do we have to park our kids in front of the TV to watch everything that comes on while we do. . . well, whatever it is we do when we don't want to deal with the little monsters, we have the V-Chip, confident in the knowledge that our TV will prevent them from watching something we don't want them to watch, like a show about evolution. We have software programs like Net Nanny to make sure they can't go to inappropriate sites while they surf, while we do. . .well, whatever it is we do when we don't want to deal with the little monsters.

Never--not once--do we say, like the Soup Nazi, "No TV for you!" Or, whatever it is we're wanting them to avoid. Nope, we get the government to do it.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to put the brakes on this consumer driven lifestyle we're leading. But that's a whole 'nother issue.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I've been saying this since I worked at Super S Foods here in Fredericksburg. Every single frickin' day someone would come to my checkstand with an item and tell me that there was a sign that had a cheaper price. This was back in the days before scanners. So I'd lead 'em to the shelf and have them point out the sign. Every time, every frickin' time, they pointed out the sign, and I would show them that the arrows on the sign covering the item pointed up not down!

Each major holiday, the store would close early. We would put signs on the doors, at eye level, weeks in advance. One Thanksgiving, after we'd closed and I had gone to my car, someone pulled up, ran to the door and tried to come in. Since the door was locked, the lights were out, he looked over, under and on either side of the sign trying to get in!

A few years later, I was working at a Diamond Shamrock convenience store. Whenever we were going to be closed, I would tape the sign upside down on the front doors. Every frickin' customer who came through the door would say, "Hey! Did you know your sign was upside down?"

"Which sign?" I would ask.

"The one that says you're closed on Christmas Day," they would snicker.

"Good!" I would reply. "You read the sign."

When I was living in Austin, I dated a gal who worked at a convenience store, even today she is known as "The Bitch in Austin, Do I Sound Bitter?". I would visit her each morning before going to work and every frickin' morning some yahoo would come in and buy $5 of gas and try to pay with a $100 bill. She'd tell 'em they don't accept big bills. The guy (most of the time) would ask how he was supposed to know that. She would lead them outside, point to the front door where there was a sign that read, "No bills large than $20 will be accepted."

As a result of this, I formulated the "Customers are Stupid" theory.

Hey! I count myself in this theory.

Once I went shopping at my local HEB. I filled my cart, found a short line, and emptied the cart onto the conveyer belt. The clerk said, "Sir?" and pointed to the sign above his register that said "Express Lane." Whoops.

I thought of this as my personal theory until I read Scott Adams' book The Dilbert Principle which described the same theory. He called these folks in-"duh"-viduals. I love that description.

This point was brought home to me yesterday after the Iwo Jima Reenactment out at Doss.

I had volunteered to help at the reenactment so I could get in free. I wound up parking cars. The customers would drive from Fredericksburg on a two lane US highway, turn onto a two lane state Farm to Market road, then turn onto a one lane county road, and then turn onto a dirt road to the reenactment site. At one point, the line of cars was six miles long! I spent four hours getting all those cars into two parking areas.

In the main lot, we had the cars back up bumper to bumper on the anti-erosion berms in the field. There was a lane between each row about 50 feet wide. In the second lot, we had the cars park front bumper to back bumper with about the same distance between.

After the reenactment, everyone raced to their cars.

We had brought those cars in single file, mind you. Once the show was over, each lane between parked cars filled up with three lanes of cars trying to get into the line leaving the place.

Naturally, this created a serious logjam, and it took a while to clear the lots. I tried to help, allowing one car to enter from a row onto the road leading out. A Texas Parks and Wildlife officer, however, had other plans. He was going to empty the parking lot a row at a time, starting with the last row to be filled.

I spent an hour standing at the side of the road, explaing to people that I was just a volunteer, not the guy directing traffic. I had a woman in her late 30s complain that she'd had an easier time getting out of rock concerts. A woman in her 60s rolled down her window and tell me we should have radios to make traffic direction easier. One old fuck in a van kept trying to nose into the line, yelling, "I've been waiting 45 minutes!" I yelled back, pointing at a van up the raod, "he's been waiting an hour!"

Finally, I gave up. I went back to my car, opened the cooler with the beer and summer sausage in it, and let the traffic work itself out.

On a more humorous note, one of the volunteers saw me sitting there eating the sausage, laughed, and asked, "You got beer?"

When I handed him a can of beer, he shook his head and said, "Damn! I was just joking."

My cousin, who had volunteered with me, replied, "This ain't our first rodeo!"

The drizzling rain that had broken for the reenactment resumed and we sat there and drank beer and talked. At about 6 pm, the lots had cleared, and we hightailed it out of there.

But, I'm still left wondering why people who had spent two hours waiting to get into the event expected to get out in less time. Even the old fuck, who someone had let into the line, had to wait another hour to get out of the lot.