Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buttercup is Leaving Humperdink in Little Less'n Half-n-Hour

I don't celebrate divorce, but I'll make an exception in this case.

Everyone's favorite princess, Buttercup (AKA Robin Wright), will finally rid herself of her miserable, vomitous mass of a husband, Sean Penn, citing irreconcilable differences. 

Tell me, besides communist Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who doesn't have irreconcilable differences with that warthog faced buffoon?

***To Mr. Penn's attorneys***

The two seemingly derogatory remarks about your client are references to the film The Princess Bride in which your client's soon-to-be-ex-wife played a starring and endearing role and are not intended to personally defame Mr. Penn. Your client is a fine actor. It's what he says and does when he's not pretending to be someone else that I don't particularly care for.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama's First 100 Days

I was thinking of putting something together to mark the amazingly unbelievable, never-before-achieved 100 days Obama has spent in office, in conjunction with the celebrations taking place throughout the American kingdom. However, in researching some facts, I found that it had already been done; very well done, in fact.

Check out's slide show review of this historic event. It's informative and entertaining. Additionally, here is an equally valuable diary of key dates and decisions from the life and rule of everyone's favorite Obama.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Good Deed

As a big 'thank you' to everyone charged with protecting America throughout these many years since 9/11, the Great Accommodator and People's Champion President Obama has put the world on notice - the United States of America will use every available means to prosecute you for anything you may have done during the reign of the prior administration. All in a completely nonpartisan manner, of course.

I'm not arguing. You're the one that's arguing.

Many believe that this position from the President weakens America and inhibits the effectiveness of interrogation strategies

In fact, one of Obama's own people, the top U.S. intelligence official, has acknowledged the importance and effectiveness of the now banned interrogation techniques. Of course, that's not the message being communicated to the public

If interrogating terrorists becomes outlawed, then only outlaws will help protect America by interrogating terrorists. That, or they'll choose another career path - one in which their boss won't feed them to the wolves.


Speaking of terrorism - Did you hear about the White House's Air Force One photo op amid the skyscrapers of New York City? Aww, that'd make for some sweet pictures, right? I mean, Air Force One [technically it is only called 'Air Force One' if the president is aboard, which he wasn't] escorted through Manhattan by two fighter jets? Awesome! Should we each expect an autographed print of that photo, considering we all financed it?

Oh yeah - it also scared the bejeezus out of New Yorkers who thought the city was being attacked again. It's okay though - some guy name Louis accepted full responsibility. He who must not must not be laughed at is, of course, entirely blameless in the matter. The buck stops somewhere before it reaches him.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Memoirs from Customer Service: The Fish Wrap

For a few years now we've technically been a Sunday-Only subscriber to the Oregonian. I say "technically" because for most of that time we have also received the daily paper - but we didn't pay for it.

Newspaper publishers generate most of their revenue from advertising. Advertising rates are based on circulation. The larger the circulation, the more advertising revenue a publisher can command in the marketplace. 

A long time ago we called to order the Sunday paper. That's the one stuffed full of ads - the most important issue of the week for the publisher's bottom line, by far. After a week or two someone from the Oregonian would call our home and offer a "free" eight-week trial of the daily paper, because we were "valued customers". At the end of the eight weeks, the Oregonian would continue delivering the daily papers and attempt to charge us for them, at which point I would call them and cancel all but the Sunday-Only delivery.

A couple of weeks later they would call again with a similar offer. Each time I would tell them that I didn't want the daily paper, that I didn't read it, but if they insisted I would accept their free offer to help them increase their circulation. My most recent offer was for one full year of the daily edition, free with my Sunday-Only subscription.

Then came the price increase.

We received a letter stating that the price of our Sunday-Only package would increase by 50%. I called up Customer Service.


Oregonian: Thank you for calling The Oregonian. Is the number you're calling from the same number on your account?

Ducheznee: Yes.

O: And how can I help you today Ducheznee?

D: I received a notice that the price of my Sunday-Only delivery is increasing.

O: Yes, sir. We've been absorbing increased operating expenses for quite some time and we simply cannot do that any longer.

[That's a blatant lie. Everyone knows that newspapers all over the country are suffering.]

D: Oh, that's okay. I'd just like to cancel my subscription.

O: Because of the price increase?

D: Well, yes and no. I only subscribe to the Sunday paper to get the Fred Meyer ad. The rest of the paper goes straight into the recycle bin. I was willing to pay the old price for the convenience of having that ad delivered to my home each week, but I'm not willing to pay your new price. It is no longer worth it to me.

O: Well what about the daily edition?

D: I've never subscribed to your daily edition. You guys have been giving me a free daily paper for nearly seven years. I do not want it and I don't read it. I just recycle it. If I need any news I can find it on the Internet a full day sooner than you can put it in my tube.

O: I'll go ahead and cancel your subscription effective immediately. I just want to clarify that you will no longer receive the daily OR the Sunday paper delivered to your home.

D: Thank you. You don't by chance have a Fred Meyer ad-only package, do you?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yes, But Where Are the Cavemen?

...or the monkeys

...or the fish with legs

...or normal fish

...or for that matter, anything that would remotely support the theory that an organism can evolve into some other type of living thing?

I understand, in theory, that evolution takes time - so much time in fact that nobody would ever be able to prove or disprove it - but shouldn't there be some evidence present after 1.5 million years? Survival of the fittest, yes. But fish crawling out of the ocean one day and building the Pyramids the next? With the exception of Mer-man, I don't buy it. Why have all of the other fish stopped trying to become human? Did the rest of them give up once one of their kind had accomplished the goal? Is that why I don't like to eat fish? Why can't I swim faster?

Scientists have discovered a colony of Antarctic microbes living undisturbed for the past 1.5 million years. That's pretty cool, I think. They plan to use this discovery not for anything to help us earthlings, but to boldly seek out new life and new civilizations on icy extra-terrestrial bodies where no man has gone before, but where we may have to go if we trash Earth too much.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holy Cross Has My Back

"Notre Dame announced last month that Obama would deliver the university's May 17 commencement address and receive an honorary degree. The decision by the nation's best-known Catholic university sparked widespread anger among many Catholics who said Notre Dame should not honor someone whose policies on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research clash with core church teaching on human life."
The Congregation of the Holy Cross is the order of Catholic priests that founded the University of Notre Dame. They continue to assist in running the university, but not to the extent that a board of directors does. 

The Holy Cross has sent a letter to the president of the university and its board of fellows. 

"Failure to [reconsider the speaking invitation to President Obama] will damage the integrity of the institution."

If that refrain sounds familiar, it may be because you read my earlier post, The Fighting Irish, in which I encouraged Notre Dame to stand up for itself and its values.

President Obama will also speak at Arizona State's commencement ceremony. Interestingly, however, ASU will not bestow an honorary degree.
"It is our practice to recognize an individual for his body of work.... That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obama and Kumar Go To White House

Behold, the newest member of the Obama administration. You know him best as "Kumar" of that crazy duo, Harold and Kumar: Kal Penn

I have nothing personal against Mr. Penn - he was terrific in "24", which I think is the only work of his that I've seen.

Some of Mr. Penn's achievements from his illustrious career:
  • MTV Movie Award nominee in two categories - Best Musical Performance, Best On-Screen Team
  • Screen Actors Guild Award nominee
  • Teen Choice Award nominee

What for? Why does the White House need an Office of Public Liaison? Doesn't the entire "art" community already worship Obama? This sounds like a big, nasty corporation that is trying to do damage control (think big tobacco) through public outreach.

Glad it wasn't Sean Penn. Kal at least is likable.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Mile In Bush's Shoes

One of the translations of Confucius' oft-repeated 'Confucius say' - "I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand" - is: "You can't understand until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes." (Did that sentence make sense?)

President Obama now finds himself in the awkward position of asking Congress for billions in new military spending to fund the ongoing war effort. 

You'll recall that during his campaign Obama was quite vocal about his opposition to fighting terrorists in Iraq and vowed to withdraw troops almost immediately upon taking office.

Now, many from his own base are turning on Obama, calling him such things as "Bush 2.0", "more of the same", and other such criticisms.

I would assume, however, that the reason is much more simple: Obama must now deal with reality as opposed to the hypothetical. Real-life consequences of his decisions and actions are something Obama is facing for the first time in a capacity even remotely as critical as POTUS.

And while Obama is still shooting from his hip on most topics, I for one am encouraged that he appears to be taking this particular issue seriously.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Look to 2012 - T-minus 1,302 Days

Is there ANYONE on either side of the aisle that doesn't now think America would be much better off had Mitt Romney been elected

There is good reason why people like Mitt are successful and wealthy - they're smart. Romney is rational, uses common sense and has good judgement. He specializes in helping downtrodden organizations become prosperous. 

It looks like he'll certainly have his work cut out for him.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nutty PETA Back in the News

Teetering dangerously beyond the edge of ridiculousness, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, famous for its "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" ad campaign) now wants 80's band "Pet Shop Boys" to change their name to a much more humane "Rescue Shelter Boys".


And this on the heals of the backlash over Vice President Biden's selection of a pedigreed dog as opposed to an animal from the pound. 

Death threats? Seriously?

Where is the retaliatory outcry from PETH (People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans)? 

More importantly, why does it seem like the selection of a presidential (and vice-presidential) pet generally on the top of the agenda for each new administration? And why should we, the people, give a rat's (nope) a hoot (ahhh)? Oops. Sorry PETA. I mean, why should we care in the least?

What's next? Really, there are much more dire issues that PETA should be addressing. 
  • The Easter holiday is little more than rabbit imagery exploitation day
  • There are reports of forced reindeer labor occurring somewhere in the Arctic Circle
  • Each year on Halloween there are millions of simultaneous violations of PETA regulation 242.16, "no human shall be permitted to impersonate an animal"
  • Reg. 242.16 also applies to those football movies where the defensive lineman barks at the opposing quarterback to intimidate him
This list barely even scratches the surface. What about the thousands of colleges, primary and secondary educational institutions that employ an animal-related moniker for their athletic teams? The "Pet Shop Boys" have as much to do with the mistreatment of animals as nearly any other musical act. Why not bully Madonna or Charlotte Church or Slayer or Paul Anka also? Why don't they have to change their names? Or better yet, why doesn't PETA launch their own musical act called the "Rescue Shelter Boys" and we'll just see how that works out?

If PETA wants to be taken seriously, it should act accordingly.

*Note to self: Purchase domain

Friday, April 10, 2009

That Phone Call - Extra Cash Insurance

I kept getting phone calls from a 888-665-9900. I'd always answer and there was never a response. Then the caller would hang up. A recent call came on a Saturday morning. Again, no answer. Since it was a toll-free number, I immediately called them back.

I listened to a voicemail message that apologized for my inconvenience, but that they were closed for the weekend. I needed to call back on Monday. I found it odd that they could call me when they are not working, but I couldn't call them. Someone must have left the computer auto-dialer on over the weekend.

They called again on a weekday afternoon. I answered and was surprised when a human actually responded. The sound on the other end of the phone was akin to what you might expect on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It was EXTREMELY loud which made if very difficult to hear the young lady who was calling.

She asked for someone by name - someone with a name different from my own. From past experience, I knew that if I simply said there was nobody by that name here, that they would presume I had misled them and continue calling with the hopes of reaching their man.

Ducheznee: "What can I do for you?"

Caller: "This is Lisa hfkjf from dfkljas kldjhfs INSURANCE adjfdskl lkjdflka;sdj."

Ducheznee: "I'm having trouble understanding you. There is a lot of background noise."

Lisa: "Okay, I'll call back later."

Ducheznee: "NOoooooooo! [I couldn't let them go now that I'd finally reached a live person.] Did you say something about 'insurance'?"

Lisa: "No, I didn't."

Ducheznee: "I'm sorry. Could you tell me what you're calling about one more time?"

Lisa: "Extra cash jfahskdkjjhdf djfskl dfklsj policy."

Ducheznee: "Extra cash policy?"

Lisa: "Yes"

Ducheznee: "What is an extra cash policy?"

Lisa: "Insurance."

Ducheznee: "I thought I heard you say 'insurance'. So it's an extra cash insurance policy?"

Lisa: "Yes."

Ducheznee: "What does that mean?"

Lisa: yada yada yada

This sounds like an Aflac commercial.

Lisa: yada yada "and if you'll just hold on for a moment I'll transfer you to a new account representative who can get you all set up."

Ducheznee: "Actually, I don't think I'm interested. But thank you for telling me about it."

Lisa: "It is impossible to understand over the telephone. It will just take 30 seconds and we can get your address to send you more information."

Ducheznee: "Well, this sounds exactly like Aflac, so I don't really need your products."

Lisa: [pause] "And, you have Aflac?" (I don't, but I can't tell her that or she'll never hang up.)

Ducheznee: [Diversion - Restating some parts of what I could make out from earlier] "Your policies would provide me with $200/day in cash for each day I'm unable to work, right?

Lisa: "$200 per month."

Ducheznee: "Oh, well then I guess that is not the same as Aflac. They pay a daily benefit for covered claims."

Lisa: [Raises the white flag; there are much easier fish to fry] "jfkjshdklj kljhklsjdf kljkl fjkljkj fklj fsjdf klsjdlfksjdfslfdjl skdjflkjlkfsdkjflj"

[I can't hear a single word, but I think she is wrapping up the call] 

Ducheznee: "Alright. Thank you."

[She hangs up.]

Now my phone number has been marked as a dead end in their system and I haven't heard from them since. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If It Looks Like a Duck...

...And quacks like a duck...

Does that look like bow to anyone? The White House is running interference, claiming because Obama is such a giant of a man, he had to bend down to shake the Saudi king's hand.

Why is anyone surprised at this? 

"...Al Qaeda is still a threat. We cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK." 

Well said, Mr. President. Subjects bow. Clearly, very little is "OK".

I wish more people would just own up to their mistakes. I'm sure that even if he really wanted to bow to the Saudi king, even the slightest glimmer of good judgment would have precluded the bow. "Hmmm, that might look bad if I bow. Probably shouldn't." If Obama would just come out and say that he goofed - that he got caught up in the moment or that he was daydreaming - I could accept that. He's a rookie. That was a rookie mistake. But that doesn't mean we can't poke fun, does it?

Note: Not even Obama's action figure is capable of performing a bow, so he couldn't possibly have really done it. I apologize for the rudimentary Photoshop job.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

See How They Run - Part Two

You may wish to first read Part One prior to proceeding.


The mouse and I would meet one more time, but with a much different outcome.

The scene was nearly identical. I was heading out to the freezer when I caught the mouse making an attempt at some free peanut butter. He ran to the same corner by the man door. I grabbed the same broom, but did not bother with the garden hoe. I flushed him out. He made his break for the cubby with the gas cans. I anticipated this move and outflanked him. He hesitated for a moment as he considered retreating back to the corner from whence he'd just come.

That brief pause was all I needed to strike. Those broom bristles must have felt like a bulldozer crashing down on him. Either that or a fantastically wonderful massage of a thousand little hands, pressing ever harder until it was too late.

Being a field mouse, I collected this daring mercenary and flung him into my neighbor's field.

I'd done it! Albeit, a bit unconventionally.

I tidied up a bit. I sucked up a bunch of mouse tracks with my shop vac and wiped down some shelves and other surfaces that had been defaced. Just for kicks, I put some fresh peanut butter on my plate. If "24" has taught me nothing else, it's that a dead hostage holds no political value or bargaining leverage, so I also fished Mortimer out of the bucket and launched him into the same neighbor's field. (It's okay. They throw their garbage onto my property, so it all works out.)

And that, my friends, is the story of how I single-handedly rid...

The trap was tripped again. My peanut butter went missing. These mice like their peanut butter like that squirrel likes his Honey Bunches of Oats. I wished that all of the mice would just fall into the bucket just as the first had done. That was so much easier. 

I went inside to share the bad news and double-check that Brookie wasn't the one who had eaten the peanut butter. Sara was making some chocolaty-peanut butter treat and as luck would have it, had just emptied a jar of peanut butter.

I tossed the whole jar, sans lid, into the bottom of the bucket. The bait on the plate was not working out for me. At least this would tempt the mouse into the bucket. I hoped that he wouldn't be able to stand on the jar and jump out of the bucket. Still, I had to take that risk.

That mouse must have been watching me the whole time, waiting for me to leave so that he could get at his peanut butter. Because no more than ten minutes later I popped my head back into the garage and saw that the trap had again been tripped. I peaked over the edge of the bucket and, low and behold, there was my mouse chowing down inside the Skippy jar. 

It didn't seem to bother him when I slipped the lid onto the jar and tightened it down. 

Nor did he mind when I tossed his jar into the recycle bin, or that I rolled him down to the street on trash day.

End of problem? Unknown. I'm afraid if I set my trap again that it will reveal the presence of yet another mouse. However, I have not seen any new mouse tracks yet. I wish I knew where their hideout was.

I do not delight in hunting mice. The one life lesson I remember from my paternal grandfather was never allow another living thing to suffer an unnecessarily long or painful death. I.e. don't torture. I thought about that every moment I was dealing with those mice. Mortimer probably had it the worst, dying of thirst, allegedly. The second mouse met his fate quickly. And the third died a happy death by asphyxiation in his peanut butter haven. He probably didn't even notice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hero! UK Postmaster

I love this recent story out of the UK. It's about a postmaster that immigrated from Sri Lanka who refused service to non-English-speaking resident customers unless they were accompanied by a interpreter. 
‘I decided to make this stand because I think too many Britons are afraid to talk out,’ he explains. ‘If they insist on everyone speaking English they are afraid of being branded a racist.’
‘The fabric of the nation begins to unravel if we don’t all speak the same language. When I left Sri Lanka I left behind that country’s culture, customs and language. I have done my utmost ever since to be part of this country’s culture. Far too many people come here and expect Britain to change to suit them.
‘All I’m doing is telling people if they want to live in Britain, be British. Don’t boo our soldiers when they come home from Iraq. Don’t live your life without embracing our culture. Don’t stay here without making any effort to learn the language. And if you don’t want to be British, go home.’

Stated another way,

Moe: "You know what really aggrevazes me is them imigants. They want all the benefits of livin' in Springfield, but they ain't even bothered to learn themselves the language."

Said one Homer J. Simpson, "Those are exactly my sentimonies."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Follow Up: The Doctor

Got an "Explanation of Benefits" from my insurance company today regarding . Looks like my dispute with Sara's girlie doctor has not yet been resolved. 

At least they're acknowledging that I don't have any further obligation. That's a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Memoirs from Customer Service - Safeway

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to complain about the quality and freshness of your Lucerne brand milk. Every week for the past several months, the milk that my wife and I purchase from your [XYZ] location has gone sour prior to the "sell by" date stamped on the container. We thought perhaps there may have been something wrong with our refrigerator, such as the door not sealing when closed, or the temperature not being set low enough. We checked those things and also purchased milk from a few of your competitors in an attempt to isolate the problem. Your competitors' milk all remained fresh beyond the "sell by" date.

I've been contemplating this letter for a while, but was finally forced to write it tonight. My wife and I returned from our local Safeway not more than 30 minutes ago. We opened the brand new carton of milk with an expiration date more than a week away and found it to be spoiled already.

I read the assurance of quality label on your packaging and I know that I could go back to the store and exchange it for another carton. However, that is neither convenient or worth my time and fuel. Nor does it address the real problem.

I am not threatening to never shop at your stores again, but I am certainly not buying Safeway milk for the foreseeable future. I will buy from another source. I may try your milk again after several months to see if the issue has been resolved.

I do not know if this experience is isolated to just the milk I buy, or if all of the milk from this particular store or dairy is of the same quality. I must assume that the issue does not plague your entire company, or surely you would have addressed the problem already.

Thank You,


Dear Ducheznee,

Thank you for your recent customer feedback concerning Lucerne milk. We are sorry that the quality of the product has not met with your expectations. Your feedback is important to us and we can assure you that we treat all customer input very seriously. 

Safeway strives to maintain the highest levels of quality for all of our products. If at any time you feel one of our products has not lived up to our guarantee, you may return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this experience may have caused. As a token of our sincerity, we have included with this letter several coupons for free Lucerne milk redeemable at any of our stores.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to us.



Sure enough, there were $10 worth of free milk coupons inside. Needless to say we did not redeem them. Free spoiled milk is still spoiled milk.