Archive | January, 2009

Consumer Rant: OfficeMax versus Office Depot

(This will be an occasional series, usually posted on weekends when site traffic is down anyway. The series is intended to torture corporations who know that many potential customers who google the business name will run across feedback like this.)

On Friday at about 11 a.m. I stopped by the OfficeMax at Capitol Plaza in Austin. I needed some new phone equipment for my office. When I found the equipment I needed, I located the box with the matching model numbers, but found that the picture on the box didn’t match the actual display model.

I looked around the store, and saw no employees who could assist me. In fact I saw no one at all – the store was completely deserted. I waited for a couple of minutes, thinking that someone would soon appear from somewhere. After giving up on that, I walked to the front of the store, and asked one of the cashiers if there was somebody who could help me. She talked into her walkie-talkie, and said some one would be with me in a moment, in the phone area of the store.

So I walked back to that area of the store, and waited. And waited. And waited. After another five minutes passed, I gave up, and on my way out, I told the cashier, not quietly, that nobody ever came to assist me, so instead I would be going to Office Depot. She just stared. I appreciated that she had paused her social chatting with another employee long enough for the stare.

After lunch I went to Office Depot, near Highland Mall. An employee greeted me at the door and asked if she could help me find something. I asked her to point me to the phone equipment, which she did. After a moment of looking at my options, another employee asked if he could answer any questions, then stayed with me until I made my choice.

Score one for Office Depot. The folks at OfficeMax couldn’t have cared less. Here’s the OfficeMax award:

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Molly Ivins

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of Molly Ivins’ passing.

I miss Molly, but I don’t miss her more on that particular day, because it wasn’t among her best days. Those better days were when she was raising hell.

I particularly miss Molly on days when I wake up on what used to be her property in Big Bend, walk outside with my first cup of coffee, and watch the morning light dance across the mountains as the day begins. She loved that spot. It’s during those moments that I think of her, and think of how many well-deserved feet have not been held to well-heated fires since she’s left us.

But when she left, she left us something – the feeling that we could all, each, make a difference. A big difference. Maybe the difference. In fact, the sort of difference she might have envisioned us making is…the kind of difference we just made. And at that, she probably would have merely called it “a hell of a good start.”

And in that light, Molly Ivins continues to change the world.

Also see the Texas Observer blog for more on the second anniversary of Molly’s passing.

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White-in Candidate, Part II

This Wednesday, a post on Houston Mayor Bill White prompted a request to play “Lets Inappropriately Photoshop Bill White,” and urged readers to send in their submissions.

And let me tell you, if Letters From Texas readers know anything, we know impropriety! Here are my favorites. Click on any image to enlarge it.

From Mean Rachel:

From Anonymous:

From Concerned Citizen:

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Dear Texas Department of Transportation:

I realize that you’re really busy, what with all that taking folks’ property whether they like it or not, giving it to foreign corporations so they can build roads on it, then charge the folks who gave you the land in the first place, so they can drive on ‘em. It must be exhausting, especially now that you’re pretending all that recent unpleasantness is behind us.

But no, I’m writing you today to commend you on your construction zone warning signs. Sure, they’re helpful in trivial matters such as keeping people safe. But you really stepped it up a notch when you started allowing regular folks to hack into the signs and change the message.

Just a suggestion from the peanut gallery: how’s about, instead of charging folks to drive on roads they already paid for once before with their tax money, you instead charge folks a fee for the thrill of hacking into your electronic signs. I think it could be a real revenue-generator!

Here’s my humble suggestion, in case you decide to follow up:

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White-in Candidate

Houston Mayor (and friend) Bill White has stirred up a bit of controversy with a recent ad in a Houston newspaper. The origin of the ad’s design, which has been discussed here, here, and here, is in dispute. Whatever its origin, it has certainly generated some interesting dialog.

As interesting as this is, in the big scheme of things, this is small potatoes. For example, I’m not sure Mayor White’s participation was ever more crucial than at the Yalta Conference, when Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin joined Mayor White to discuss plans for a post-World War II Europe. Yet, not a peep from bloggers or reporters.

Similarly, I don’t recall any big ordeal when Mayor White attended The Last Supper – it’s natural that during this difficult time, Saint Paul may have been looking for some encouraging words. Plus, the Mayor was undoubtedly hungry, and, well, it was supper.

And if anybody else wants to play “Lets Inappropriately Photoshop Bill White Into a Famous Photo,” please feel free to do so – just email me the result in the next couple of days, and I’ll post the best ones. But please – no porn. Really. I can’t even imagine.

(Thanks to Vince for knowing how to drive Photoshop!)

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The State of Perry’s Union

Those two crazy-in-love kids!

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What a Damn Fool Asses on Parade Big Ninny of the Week So Far

A state Senator in South Carolina has filed a bill outlawing profanity. Under Senator Robert Ford’s legislation, cussing could land you in jail for up to 5 years.

If this bill were implemented in Texas, there’s no way we could get a quorum in either house of the legislature! Hmmm…come to think of it, let’s pass the bill, damn it!

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The weekly poll was to complete the following sentence:

“With the departure of George W. Bush from the White House, I haven’t been this happy since….”

Coming in first place with 63% was “…since…never mind. I’ve never been this happy.” That, my friends, was a no-brainer. It was a total set-up. You people are so obedient.

Tied for second place with 13% apiece were “…since I found out Greg Brady was nailing Marcia Brady in real life” and “…since Dick Cheney shot that guy.”

In last place with 10% was “…since my divorce.”

This week’s poll is on top of the right hand sidebar. Vote on it there, and comment on it here.

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Rush to judgment

I was startled last night to see, while watching the news, that Rush Limbaugh said yesterday that he hopes President Obama fails.

Here’s part of what he said:

“I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, ‘Well, I hope he succeeds. We’ve got to give him a chance.’ Why? They didn’t give Bush a chance in 2000….I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.”

Of all the outrageous things Limbaugh has said over the years, that is among the most outrageous.

He wants the President to fail in his efforts to fix the economy, leaving families jobless and businesses failing?

He wants the President to fail in his efforts to bring an honorable end to the war in Iraq, resulting in more deaths, American and otherwise, in the process?

He wants our children to continue to lack health care coverage, our neighborhood schools to continue to languish under the crushing weight of neglect, and our nation’s aging infrastructure to continue to crumble?

Mr. Limbaugh: hoping that a new President fails, especially while taking office in deeply troubled times, is nothing short of un-patriotic and un-American. You should be deeply ashamed of yourself. Those who listen to you should be ashamed of themselves for being duped into propelling you to ratings levels which allow you to continue voicing your unpatriotic drivel to a nation already battered by the rubble of the last eight years.

Mr. Limbaugh, you were quick to criticize the Dixie Chicks when they were publicly critical of President Bush, and that was after Bush had a long record of failure. Now, when the whole world needs President Obama to succeed, you wish him to fail?

Hold the President accountable, of course. Challenge him on his policies, sure. But to fundamentally wish him failure in the priorities which he promised all last year he would do, and which a strong majority of voters agreed, is your acknowledgement that you only agree with participatory democracy when it suits you, and you only favor a strong America when it fits your narrow world view, and when people you like are working to achieve it.

Mr. Limbaugh, you shame us all, and none of us should have anything further to do with you.

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This just in…

They’re reporting that a woman whose company sells sex toys through home parties will star in her own reality TV show.

Apparently, there’s quite a buzz going about this. It’s about time TV folks dreamed up something we could get wrapped up in. I wonder if it will be ordinary people, or if they’ll insert celebrities into it? This sounds like the new network thrust in reality TV. Personally, I think it’s a stroke of genius. I bet they’ll be glad I gave them a free plug!

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Solemnly Swearing

Those watching the Presidential inauguration (which includes everybody in the known universe, except perhaps a few East Texans who failed to pay their cable bill) may have noticed a dicey moment between President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts, when Roberts administered the oath of office.

Interestingly, Obama is the first President in history who, while in the U.S. Senate, voted against the confirmation of the Chief Justice who eventually administered his oath. Roberts was also opposed by Vice President Biden.

The inaugural awkwardness passed quickly, so as a public service, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, C-Span Division, presents the full transcript of the exchange:

Roberts: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?

Obama: I am.

Roberts: I, Barack Hussein Obama…

Obama (interrupting): I, Barack…

Roberts: …do solemnly swear…

Obama: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…

Roberts: that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully…

Obama: …that I will execute…

Roberts: …faithfully the office of President of the United States…

Obama: Wait a damn minute, isn’t it supposed to be “faithfully execute?”

Roberts: With all due respect, Mr. President, I’m the judge here. Just repeat what I say.

Obama: Why would I do that? I didn’t even vote for your confirmation. If I had my way, you’d be teaching first year law in some hell-hole backwater unaccredited law school in the Bahamas. And another thing – couldn’t you have invested in that ‘Hair Club for Men’ stuff before gracing my stage with your big fat bald spot?

Roberts: Look you skinny little twit, lets just get through this, shall we? And by the way, you might be the President after today, but my court has the last say on everything, and we’ll be weighing in on your cute little so-called “pro-choice” crap, buster!

Obama: Says you, mo-fo, but just try it and I’ll expand the size of the court, which a Democratic Congress and I can do whether you like it or not, since the Constitution doesn’t say how big the court has to be. And by the time I get through with you, you won’t be able to find that other jackass Scalia in the crowd!

Roberts: Look, now you made Michelle drop the Lincoln bible!

Obama: How the hell would you know it’s a bible, you apparently can’t even read an oath, one sentence at a time!

Roberts: You little snit, how’s about I rule that it’s constitutional for me to kick your ass?

Obama: You couldn’t even kick John Paul Stevens’ ass, and that’s if he spotted you the first 5 swings. And he’s older than dirt!

We’re off to a great start, don’t you think?

Update: The New York Post has the story under the best headline.

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The new weekly poll is up.

Vote on the top of the right hand sidebar.

Comment on it here.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question was “when the House committee assignments come out, to what committee do you think Joe Straus will appoint Tom Craddick?

Coming in first place with 42% was The House Committee on STFU. Fair enough.

In second place with 36% was The House Committee on Removing Undiscovered Budget Riders Benefiting Midland-Odessa. This makes sense, given that 36% of the state budget was probably being shipped off to fund projects in Midland-Odessa.

In distant third with 12% was The House Committee on Coloring, Cutting, and Pasting. I’m guessing that voters were confident Craddick would be able to cut just fine, but the pasting might be a challenge.

Bringing up the rear with 9% was The House Committee on Bartending in the Members Lounge. Clearly, few voters had confidence that Mr. Craddick could resist spiking some of the drinks with hemlock.

I guess we’ll all find out together in a week or two how kind Mr. Straus is to Mr. Craddick.

Stay tuned for the next poll, which will appear in the right hand sidebar.

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Happy birthday Edward Blumingfield, wherever you are!

Every January 15th, wherever I am I raise my glass in a toast Edward Blumingfield, for his birthday. Why? Who the hell is Edward Blumingfield? I’m glad you asked.

In second grade at Kolter Elementary School in Houston, I tossed caution to the winds and decided to throw my hat into the ring and pursue a life of public service. That’s right: I ran for class weatherman.

I lost. By one vote. To Edward Blumingfield.

You see, Edward went negative. He claimed that he would make a much better class weatherman because, as he put it, he was older than me.

Edward was born on January 15, in the evening. I was born 4 hours later, in the early morning hours of January 16th. Same hospital, same floor.

Edward taught me, way back in 2nd grade, an important lesson about negative campaigning. I am eternally grateful. So every year on his birthday, I toast his memory.

And by the way, the forecast in Austin today is for partly cloudy skies. High near 50, low of 26. And I bet wherever Edward Blumingfield is, he didn’t freakin’ know that, the little asshole.

…but I’m not bitter.

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Desperate Cries for Help Your Faithful Correspondent in the News

Last week, the lovely and talented Emily Ramshaw with the Dallas Morning News penned a piece on Texas House Speaker-apparent Straus in which I’m quoted. Somehow, I avoid looking stupid.

Next, the lovely and talented Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman writes an analysis piece in the daily fishwrapper for the opening day of the legislative session, in which I’m also quoted. Miraculously, I once again avoid looking stupid.

And finally, tomorrow morning, I’ll be live on News8Austin, at the ungodly airtimes of 6:30 and 7 a.m., on live TV being interviewed by the lovely and talented Catie Beck, while I desperately try to avoid looking stupid. That gig might be over and done with by the time you read this post. But hey, I’ve been busy today.

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