Decision Made

I belong to an audiobook club, where I get one download a month, and I couldn’t find anything to use my latest credit on…until I read the following review for Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (and So Can You!).

“Now, I have to admit that I was a fan of his TV show, but it soon became apparent after listening to this book that it is not much more than a 3 hour homophobic diatribe. He starts out by saying that “baby carrots are trying to turn me gay” which, I also admit, caused me to chuckle a bit. But this guy is a racist, homophobic Republican who thinks the world should return to the good old days of the 50s. It’s not 1955 anymore…deal with it.”

Clearly, this reviewer is *not* a fan of his TV show, because that would imply they understand satire. That review alone cinched it. Book selected, and it has been a good selection. Maybe I should base more of my decisions on people’s poor reviews, rather than the positive ones. Because people are idiots.

 

How Local, Exactly?

People at work leave menus from nearby restaurants in our kitchen, and the one on top caught my eye, as it’s a new bistro that I’ve been wanting to check out. The tagline under the bistro’s name says “We use local, organic, free-range ingredients.” Sweet!

But when I got to the entrees section, their four entrees are: shrimp, rainbow trout, scallops, and mussels. There are shrimp farms here, but otherwise there must be an alternate definition of “local” that I’m not aware of.

Same Bat Show, Same Bat Channel

I end up watching a lot of ESPN. Not because I love it, but because it’s got programming even when all other channels are showing infomercials when I’m up with baby at 3 a.m. While it seems that other channels ask the question, “Ok, but how is your show any different from all of the programming we offer?” to those that develop and pitch shows, it seems like ESPN asks, “Ok, but how is your show exactly like all of the other programming we offer?” With the exception of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption, all ESPN shows are the same roundtable with mostly white guys talking about the strengths of one team pitted against the weaknesses of their opponents.

The Math’s the Same

Today is payday, but this week, my paycheck was slashed in half. Money’s been lean since my maternity leave, which, other than the 3 weeks paid at 60% by short-term disability, was unpaid. And then when I came back to work, I was only part-time for 2 weeks, so I was only making half of my salary. My previous paycheck was my first full paycheck, but as the first full paycheck in months, it only began to make a dent in our financial deficit. What with daycare, we’ve been on a tight budget. So we’ve really been looking forward to getting more of a foothold with a steady full paycheck from me.

Unfortunately, my employer’s incompetent HR didn’t cooperate with that plan. You see, we elected a flexible spending account for daycare – a pre-tax deduction. And when we filled out the form, which says “Enter your ANNUAL CALENDAR-YEAR contribution, not a per-pay-period amount,” we did just that. We multiplied the weekly daycare fees times 52 weeks a year, which came out to way more than the maximum you could withhold, so we elected the maximum – just under $5000. There are 26 paychecks in a year, so that works out to about $192 withheld from every paycheck. Except my HR department seems to have a different understanding. They take whatever you fill in as your annual amount, and divide it by the number of pay periods left in the year at the time you enroll. So, in my case, $5000 divided by 9, or more than $550 to be withheld from every paycheck.

Uh, WHAT?! I had even been contacted by HR when I submitted my form, and they had explained that they calculate whatever amount you elect and divide by the number of remaining paychecks, regardless of your intention for that $5000 to be spread out over the calendar year, as their own language implies. So they “fixed” it, and my last paycheck had only $192 withheld. But today’s paycheck? There’s $550 withheld. And though I lost my shit brought this to their attention, they were unable to correct it, and so they’re adjusting the amount withheld from the remaining 8 paychecks of 2011 to balance out the extra they took out of this single paycheck. Fine, except that doesn’t help me pay my bills for the next 2 weeks. Like daycare, for instance, which is now going to constitute half of my pay for the next 2 weeks. And since I’m the only full-time employee in my household, the next 2 weeks are going to be ramen filled.

Then I thought, oh! I can at least recoup alot of what’s missing from my paycheck by submitting my daycare receipts for reimbursement, something I haven’t done yet. A good plan, but when I logged on to my daycare FSA, it only shows the initial $192 contribution, not the extra $550 they also withheld this time.

I would say that I would work even less today than I normally would on a Friday to express my outrage that half of my net pay is gone because of someone else’s incomptence. But then again, 50% times zero is still zero.

Imagining a World Without Netflix

Just got a whole lot easier thanks to their dumb-ass decisions lately. To further visualize how dumb this Qwikster split is, see The Oatmeal’s take.

And to think that just a few short weeks ago, I’d worked out how we were gonna dump DirectTV and just live off of Netflix.

Oh, and MLB.com/TV.

And NBA League Pass.

And Versus/NBC Sports for Tour de France.

Oh, for F8ckssake. It’s 2011! Why can’t we get this all sorted out already?! I can’t track countless separate logins & accounts & instant queues just for entertainment’s sake.

9-11-11

The biggest thing about September 11 was that it didn’t make sense. I woke to My Better Half yelling to get up & come look on tv because a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Like everyone, I was so confused about how a plane would just accidentally strike a giant building.

Of course it wasn’t an accident, and in the days afterward, I took many walks with my dogs to clear my head. While I still haven’t succeeded in making sense of such a senseless act, I still remember the absence of planes in the skies – how quiet it was.

silent-trees-sky

Album Art App for Kids Books

After last night’s trip to the children’s section at the library, I have been thinking about what could make it easier to search among a sea of 1/16″ thick spines for a good children’s book at the library, so you’re not crouched over, duck walking forward, yanking out tiny spine after tiny spine looking for something remotely interesting. Someone needs to make an app that lets you type in a call number (or start at A and work your way forward) that displays your library’s collection in album art format so you can flip through the covers on your iPhone Droid and get a visual idea of what’s in front of you (and maybe even descriptions and reviews, too!) so you can avoid picking out such sh*t as Goodnight Moon and instead discover kids’ books worth reading and illustrations worthy of your discerning eye.

Someone get on that, would you?

Goodnight Moon Sucks

I went to the library after work tonight to get some children’s books to read to baby. She loves being read to, and my personal arsenal of stories is thin. One of the things you quickly realize when you have your first baby is how few nursery rhymes and silly tales you remember from your youth, so you basically end up either narrating whatever is happening or just tell the baby your own stories but in a silly baby tone. However, I’m starting to think that stories about hookers and blow probably aren’t appropriate for her anyway. (Not until she’s 6 or 7, anyway).

So I headed off to the library to get books to read to her. This has a couple advantages. Right now she’s too young to be able to hold on to or chew on a book, so library books are fine until then, at which point, we’ll let those germ-covered previously slimed-upon tomes stay put and head to the bookstore. Second, it gives me a chance to get reacquainted, or largely, acquainted with kids’ books and disocover what’s worth buying.

Having never been to the kids’ level at the library, I didn’t realize what I was in for. The kids’ books, which are all less than 1/4″ thick are all shelved by author with their spines out, because displaying all the covers would take up way too much room. So you either have to know an author or be prepared to spend a whole lotta time pulling out book after book. And since much of the appeal of these books is in the illustrations, and I’m a visual person, I wanted to see the books I’d be checking out. The only children’s book I could recall off the top of my head in the 16 minutes before the library closed was Goodnight Moon. So I got that and grabbed a couple of the books they had displayed on top of the shelves, figuring those were as good a place as any to start.

Good thing I grabbed books other than that piece of shit classic, because, man, Goodnight Moon sucks. Plot wise, it’s just trippy and disjointed. “In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon.” Um, oh kay. It lists the cak in the room, with my fave being: “…and a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush.” A bow full of MUSH? EWWWW! Get that crap to the dishwasher stat! Then it offers a goodnight to each item. “Goodnight air”? LAME! “Goodnight clock”? Who has a clock? Isn’t that what cellphones are for? And telephone? Mommy, what’s a telephone? And the illustrations? Sucktastic. The “kittens” look like dustbunny squirrels. Just all-around old-fashioned. Not at all modern.

I’m glad I picked up this, this, and this. They, on the other hand were all excellent, and the illustrations were adorable and colorful. Ok, fine, so one of them isn’t a children’s book, but I think she still enjoyed Gossie.