Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Am A Marketing Person's Nightmare

I was thinking about branding the other day.  In marketing, there is huge reliance on branding and making customers loyal to a brand, so they will only buy your brand.

There are very few brands to which I am loyal.  I think, in truth, it is because I am just not a very picky person.  I'm just not.  One thing is as good as the other, for the most part, as far as I'm concerned.

So let's get it out of the way.  Which brands am I picky about, and by picky, I mean, I will go to another store to buy this brand if the store I am at currently is out or does not stock this brand:

1.  Tampax tampons.  I hate Playtex.  I don't know why, I just do.  I won't buy them.  Tampax all the way.  And I don't like the Walgreen's imitation of the Tampax, which uses the same colors and I accidentally bought once on accident because the box looked so similar.  I actually sent an e-mail to Tampax alerting them to this possible trade dress infringement (at least I thought it was, since I accidentally bought the wrong product), and got a form e-mail back thanking me for buying their product.  Thanks, but that wasn't what my e-mail was about.  My e-mail was about not buying your product because I got confused and bought the Walgreen's product.  Whatever.  They've been warned.

2.  Crest toothpaste.  I've tried other brands, but I like Crest the best.  I have no idea why, honestly. I always buy Crest.

3.  Hefty trashbags.  They are the best.  I've tried the generics and other brands.  My local CVS only stocks their brand of trashbags now, so I have to go to the Dominick's to buy Hefty.  That's fine.

4.  Reynold's aluminum foil.  If you are used to Reynold's and you buy the generic, oh, you are in for a shock.  It is not the same, and it is, in fact, terrible.  Again, my local CVS only stocks their aluminum foil, which blows.  I tried it once, and never again.  I go to Dominick's for the Reynolds.

5.  Tide laundry detergent.  I've used it forever, and I just like it.  They have my loyalty.

6.  Miller Lite (vs. Bud Lite).  I just like Miller Lite better.  I would take a Bud Lite if there is no Miller Lite, if I am at a bar or something, but if I have a choice, it is always Miller.  I would never buy Bud Lite to take home.  I would go to another store to buy Miller, although, this has never been an issue.  If they have Bud, they have Miller.

7.  Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi, but Pepsi over Coke.  I know this sounds odd, and I can't explain it.  But frankly, either or is just fine with me most of the time, unless I'm actually buying the 12 pack.  Because of trademark issues, restaurants and such have to say what they have.  Like, if you order a Diet Coke and they only have Pepsi products, they say "Is Diet Pepsi okay?"  And probably 99% of the time, the person says, yes, fine.  But they do it because of trademark law!  (Likelihood of confusion stuff.)  At any rate, I will always buy Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi, but I will also buy Pepsi over Coke.  It's odd, I admit.  And again, has never been an issue.

8.  Q-Tips.  The generics do not compare.

9.  My cigarettes.  Will go to multiple places to get my brand, if necessary.

I think that's it.  Like, I'll buy Puffs or Kleenex, depending on what is on sale.  While I prefer Quilted Northern, I'll buy Angel Soft or Scotts or whatever if that is all they have in the size I want to buy.  While I prefer Philly cream cheese, I'll buy whatever if they are out of the Philly garden vegetable.  I'll buy generic cereal.  I have no loyalty to milk brands.  Nor to cheese.  I regularly try all kinds of beauty products and shampoos, so no loyalty there.  Toothbrushes?  Oral-B, Crest, whatever.  Pantyhose can go all over the board.  Contact solution?  Whatever is on sale.  And on, and on and on.  Nothing else to me is not replaceable by whatever is on the shelf or cheaper.  Or if you are dealing with a person like me who just wants to try all kinds of things. 

I'm really kind of amazed by people who are so loyal to their brand.  Or are people so loyal?  Hmmm....

Life Before the Internet

As I'm now 36 years old, I didn't grow up with the Internet.  We had an Apple IIe that we played around with, that had a black screen with green characters and a floppy disk drive, but that was about it.  When I was in undergrad, no one I knew had a laptop.  If we needed to use a computer, we went to one of the computer labs on campus.  E-mails were sent from those computers, but not in frequent use at all.  We used the phone back then or made plans when we saw people in person.  (No one had cell phones back then either.)  Since I was an engineering major, I didn't have to write many papers.  When I did, I went to the computer lab to type them in.  I learned how to use Microsoft Word on my own this way.

And the Internet?  A non-entity.  I remember for one of my computer programming classes (it was either the Fortran or the C class), our professor made each of us create a personal web page.  We used Mosaic to view the completed page, and everyone's were pretty much static text with a few pictures.  This was around 1993 or 1994, I think.  I don't recall ever surfing the Internet while I was in undergrad.

I got my first laptop in 1996, when I started working in management consulting.  We were all given laptops.  This is how I learned to use the Internet, but I still didn't use it very much initially.  It probably wasn't until around 1998 or 1999 that I really got into it.  Looking back, I don't know how I lived without the Internet, but somehow I did.  I think now about all the things I use the Internet to find out or do, and I can't remember how I did it before.  So, I'm going to try:

1.  To get the news, I had to either watch the news or read a newspaper or magazine.  Unless on television, there were no real time updates.  I had no idea what was going on in the world when I was in college, because I never did any of these things.

2.  To make plans with friends or keep in touch with friends, I used a landline phone or made plans with them when I saw them in person.  There was no texting or e-mails if someone was running late, since no one had cell phones.  We just waited for them to arrive.

3.  To find out how to get to a restaurant or anywhere else, or to find out their hours, I looked up the phone number in a phone book and called to ask for directions or hours.  Sometimes I also asked for directions at the gas station.

4.  To find out what was going on at campus or in my city, I read the local paper or the school paper, or relied upon signs on campus or word of mouth.

5.  To find out what was playing at the movies and at what time, I checked the newspaper.

6.  To find out about any topic that struck my fancy, I either went to the library and checked out a book, or went to the bookstore and bought a book.  Sometimes I actually looked up the topic in my mom's set of Encyclopedias.

7.  To listen to music, I bought a tape or CD, or just listened to the radio.  Sometimes when I wanted to hear a particular song, I called in to the radio to request it, and waited for hours for it to be played.  I'd then record the song off the radio onto a tape in my jambox so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  If I didn't know the name or artist of a song, I had to call the radio station, sing it, and ask them to identify it.  When buying a CD or tape, I prayed that I would like more than just the one song for which I was buying the CD or tape. 

8.  To find out what celebrities were doing or wearing, I bought Bop, Tiger Beat, US, or People magazines.

9.  To find out what the latest fashions were, I bought Seventeen, YM, Teen, Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, or Mademoiselle magazines.  The "back to school" issues were the best.

10.  To find out what was on television each evening, I checked the TV Guide or a newspaper.

11.  To find the best price on a product, I went to each store where the product was carried to find out the price.  Then, I went back to whichever store had the best price and bought the product.

12.  To find out about new or good restaurants, I relied on the Food section of the Sunday paper or word of mouth.

13.  To find out about how certain stocks were doing, I relied upon the newspaper.

14.  To watch a movie at home, I went to Blockbuster or relied on HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, or Cinemax.  I also bought VCR tapes.

15.  To get anywhere, I wrote out directions on a piece of paper.  Sometimes I still do this, but usually I just print out Mapquest directions or use my Garmin Nuvi.

16.  To find out sports scores and stats, I either watched television or read the newspaper.

17.  To figure out a solution to any problem or how to do things I didn't know how to do, I had to ask people I knew or ask my mom.     

18.  To figure out how to spell a word, I checked a dictionary.

19.  To buy things, I actually went to the store. 

20.  To find out how other people felt about things, I relied on the Opinion section of the newspaper or what my friends or coworkers thought. 

21.  To find out about sales at stores, I relied on the newspaper ads.

22.  If I wanted to play Scrabble or Monopoly, I had to find another person to play with me.

23.  If I had a party, I had to send invitations by mail or call people on the phone.  Landline.

24.  To pay my bills, I wrote checks each month.

25.  To get a quote on anything or make an appointment, I had to call on the phone.  Landline.

I feel like I'm missing something huge, but that's about all I can think of at the moment.  But jeez, is it any wonder that the newspapers and magazines are having a tough time these days?  Look at how much people (i.e., me) relied upon them back before the Internet.  Now they are arguably becoming obsolete.             

What’s in it for Nicky Diaz Santillan?

I blogged yesterday about the whole Meg Whitman/illegal maid/Gloria Allred drama.  I have to admit that I can’t stop thinking about it, because none of what Gloria Allred and Nicky Diaz are doing makes any logical sense to me, given the potential legal repercussions for Diaz.  It seems to me that she has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Gloria Allred called a press conference yesterday, and through her statements made clear that the following three things are true: (1) Nicky Diaz is in the country illegally; (2) Nicky Diaz used false social security number; and (3) Nicky Diaz lied on her I-9 application, a felony. Today Allred had another press conference, where she discussed a letter allegedly sent from the Social Security Administration to Meg Whitman and her husband in 2003, which sought verification of Diaz’s social security number. Interestingly enough, the document says that in and of itself, you can’t take adverse action or fire the employee because you received it. Huh. Based on this, Allred claims Whitman knew that Diaz was illegal in 2003.

All of this comes out in what is admittedly a case for back wages and mileage, a case which has not yet even been filed with the courts. Is that fishy or what? Most people do the press conference after the case is filed.  Why hasn’t this purportedly strong lawsuit been filed? Is it because a Judge in a lawsuit could issue a gag order, which could prevent all of these press conferences?  Why is Gloria Allred holding press conferences rather than filing the Complaint? Does a case like this really require multiple press conferences? Of course not. In fact, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Gloria Allred last night and she stated:
HH: All right. Let me ask you then.
GA: This is not about whether she should have terminated the housekeeper or not terminated the housekeeper.

HH: Well, what should she have done?

GA: This is about her treatment of the housekeeper.
Oh, really? Then why all the press conferences focusing on the illegal immigrant issue? More hilariously, if you read the transcript linked above, Gloria Allred refuses to even state what the law is and what you should do if you discover one of your employees is an illegal immigrant. Does she even know? Yet she is vilifying Meg Whitman?

What is really trying to be accomplished here, and why would Nicky Diaz “out” herself like this and subject herself to deportation and/or criminal prosecution? Why?

Assume for a moment that Meg Whitman did find out that Nicky Diaz was in the country illegally back in 2003, which is what both Diaz and Allred claim. While the argument appears to be that Nicky was taken advantage of by Whitman because she knew Diaz was illegal (and thus made her work more hours than she was paid for), they can’t have it both ways. (Also, good luck convincing a jury that $23 an hour is “cheap help.”) For example, they can’t call Whitman a hypocrite for not following legal procedures back in 2003 (assuming she knew) while at the same time calling her “cold and heartless” and treating Diaz like “garbage” when she fired Diaz in 2009 when Diaz admitted she was illegal. Would Whitman have been as “cold and heartless” if she had fired Diaz back in 2003? Is Diaz angry she got six extra years of employment?

Things are getting all mucked up in what Whitman should have done and what she knew regarding the immigration issue, when the actual issues appear to be these: (1) What was the employment agreement between Diaz and Whitman? (2) How many hours per week was Diaz contracted to work and at what rate? (3) How many hours did Diaz work each week and for how many was she compensated? How did she track her time, and did she show them time cards (or other documentation) that she was working more hours than contracted each week? (4) Was there an agreement that she would be reimbursed for mileage? (5) If so, did she ever ask for this reimbursement? Was it denied? What was the reason?

Now Allred is calling Diaz the “Rosa Parks of the Latino community.” Are you kidding me? This is an employment law issue, not an immigration issue. Even Allred admitted today in the press conference that the monetary damages they were seeking weren’t very much. So how badly did Diaz really get screwed? Were there a few weeks over the nine years that she worked 17 hours instead of 15 and didn’t get paid for it? Diaz is definitely courageous to allow her attorney to admit that she’s illegal and has committed one or more felonies, but that does not make her Rosa Parks. Also, by the by, illegal immigrants aren’t the only people who get screwed over by their employers.

The point of it all appears to solely be that Meg Whitman is a hypocrite: arguing for punishing employers of illegal immigrants, while employing one herself. Interesting, too, that all of this is happening now, one month prior to elections, years after these supposedly “nightmare” events occurred, and fifteen months after Diaz was fired.

I just cannot wrap my brain around what Nicky Diaz has to gain by coming forward in this manner. I'm convinced she has to be getting something out of this because most people don't voluntarily come forward and admit to committing felonies.  She has two or three children. What happens to them if she gets deported? Through the employment application papers, we also now know that she has eight brothers and sisters who are also in this country. Are they all legal? Why would she bring attention to them? Why even take the risk? If indeed she does have a valid claim for back wages and mileage, that sort of case does not require a national press conference or any sort of discussion relating to her immigration status. Whether or not she got taken advantage of is frankly, moot, depending on what their employment contract specified (which she agreed to), and what she is able to prove regarding her hours worked versus her hours paid and her mileage. This is not rocket science. She also had the option to quit. (I know, I know, I don’t understand her situation and it’s not so easy to find a job, etc. But still, that was an option if she felt she was being treated unfairly. It makes zero sense to me when people make allegations like “I was only paid to work 15 hours a week but I actually worked 40 or 50.” I mean, who does that?)

The entire thing stinks like Vula’s house on Hoarders.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taxpayers Paying Life Insurance for Senators

Technically it's not called "life insurance," but it sure sounds like it.

This article discusses what the late Senator Byrd's wife and children get, since he passed away last June while in office:
The Senate handbook says that upon the death of a senator who had been serving in office, “in the next appropriations bill, an item will be inserted for a gratuity to be paid to the widow(er) or other next- of-kin, in the amount of one-year’s compensation.”

As a result, the bill calls for “equal shares” of the late senator’s $193,400 salary to be split between Byrd’s seven children and grandchildren.
A gratuity of $193,400?  Am I alone in thinking this is really strange?  He died, so his family is entitled to a year's salary?  Isn't that the reason why people get life insurance?  I can't imagine many private companies do this or anything similar outside the realm of insurance, do they?  I suppose at one time when a person gave up something in order to represent the country might have caused a "service" type of gratuity to sound reasonable, but given these salaries and basically lifetime tenures, it just does not make sense to me.
I'm trying to track down a copy of the Senate Handbook so I can read this rule for myself, but have only been able to find one for the 110th Congress.  So much for transparency.

Gloria Allred is Back at It: Meg Whitman's Maid

This whole Meg Whitman maid debacle is really confounding.

In short, her maid, Nicky, who was employed by her for nine years and fired in June 2009 has come forward seeking back pay and mileage that she asserts she was never given. Okay, fair enough. Yet her attorney, Gloria Allred, called a press conference to essentially discuss that Meg Whitman knew Nicky was here illegally, employed her regardless, and did nothing about it, like, say, report her to the government. The complaint hasn’t been filed, so I’m only going by what was stated in the press conference, but Allred did not say she was seeking any sort of wrongful termination claim. In short, this is a contract dispute along the lines of “you said you’d pay me for x, and you didn’t, so pay me.”

The press conference was bizarre. Allred started by reading a prepared statement, then Nicky gave a tearful account of how in 2009 she approached Whitman for assistance to become legal, and Whitman informed her that she couldn’t help, and essentially ended up firing her.

Here is the hypocrisy about the entire thing:

On one hand, Nicky is asserting that she was “exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused.” On the other hand, she was being paid $23.00 an hour. Minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour. Frankly, it sounds like she was being paid pretty well. In documents released by Whitman, her “desired salary” was $25.00 an hour. She ended up getting fairly close to what she desired. Further, Nicky continued to work for Whitman for nine years and only left because she was fired. Was it all really that bad? If so, why did she stay so long? Why did she wait over a year to file a lawsuit? Allred brushed this off during questioning by the press, as basically it’s not easy for everyone to get a new job. Like, for example, when you are in the country illegally?

Nicky also asserts that Whitman knew about her illegal status and did nothing about it. Whitman has already fired back, releasing documents to TMZ that show that Nicky lied about being able to legally accept employment on her employment papers, submitted a social security card with her name on it, put that social security number on her W-2 and INS employment eligibility verification forms, and declared herself a “lawful permanent resident alien.” Technically, if Whitman knew about Nicky’s illegal status and did nothing, she allowed her nine extra years in this country. Is Nicky asserting that Whitman should have had her deported? This argument is just bizarre, and has zero to do with any back pay or mileage issues.

Part of Nicky’s own allegations rely on the underlying fact that Nicky falsely used someone else’s social security number and used a forged social security card. This is supported by the documents Whitman released. Is Nicky going to be prosecuted for that?

Nicky is also angry because supposedly in 2009 she approached Whitman and asked for her help to become legal. (There were lots of tears during this portion of her statement.) Oh, Meg Whitman is so mean. Why does Whitman owe her anything? She doesn’t. And why did Nicky take so long to try to become legal?

Allred’s view is that Nicky is “brave” and is speaking on behalf of all of the illegals out there who get taken advantage of on a regular basis. Oh, please. This entire sideshow is absurd. If Whitman has her deported, she is a bad guy because she is depriving her of the American dream. But if she employs her, she is also a bad guy. It’s a complete no win situation. And if it truly is merely a contract issue, there is no reason to murky up the waters with any of these illegal immigrant details unless it’s purely for political reasons.  It's a sideshow.  Strangely enough, Allred asserted during the press conference that Whitman must have no legal argument since she attacked Allred.  However, the same could be said for Allred's own position.  If your legal case is so strong, why the sideshow on the immigration issue?

So, my question is: When is ICE going to step in and take Nicky into custody, and when is she going to be charged with falsifying a social security number?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Thoughts on 9/27

1.  My best friend since I was ten years old, C, lives 300 miles away, so I don't get to see her very often.  Her husband, who I have known for about fifteen years since they met back in undergrad, is coming to Chicago on Saturday for this event on Saturday night.  C is staying home with their son (and is very happy about it, since she has no interest in this event, nor do I, but she is happy to pawn him off on me.)  The plan was for him to stay at my place, obviously.  He wants me to go with him, which is fine, because he's a great deal of fun, even though this is not the type of thing I would ever choose to go to, and I'm still a little unsure about going to it.  And I'm kind of obligated to go.  It is what it is.  We discovered (after I researched all this, because while I love him, he's not much of a planner) that this event is actually in the 'burbs.  And not the close 'burbs, but the far 'burbs, as in about 45 miles away from where I live.  So, we all decided that he and I would just get a hotel room out there, so we can drink and have fun and not have a long drive home.  It's kind of hilarious to get a text message from your best girlfriend saying "I booked the hotel room for you and [my husband.]"  Most women might get a little weird about something like that, but not C!  Not like she has any reason to worry or anything, but I just found it kind of hilarious.  She is the best.  And she does not want him to have to go alone, so I am taking one for the team and going with him.  I will likely discuss this event after it happens, because I know there is going to be a boatload of things to talk about.  It is that kind of event.   

2.  Would the wide receivers on my Fantasy Football team please start putting up some points?  Jesus.  I got a big fat goose egg out of all three this week, due to the crazy scoring in my league.  Sims-Walker, Ochocinco, and Colston:  I'm talking to you.  Need touchdowns.  And I lost this week because of that.  I'm 2-1 now, but still.  And unfortunately, I don't mind losing so much this week, because my opponent had Jay Cutler, and I'm so happy the Bears won!  So, it's fine.  I guess.  It was super close.  I should've played the Cowboys D and I would've won.  Oh well.  They've sucked it up so bad the past couple of weeks, so how was I to know they would actually pull out of their funk this week?   

3.  Hooray to see Matt Paxton back on Hoarders this week!  He is my favorite.  Vula tonight was awful.  I felt so bad for her sons.  My mom watches this show also, and I told her that if I ever see her pooping in a bag and throwing it in the corner that I am having her committed.  (She has no pets, so I don't have to worry about pet feces, thankfully.)  I have printed out and saved her e-mail response to that e-mail saying "Yes, commit me if I do that!"  Not that I think I will need it, but I have it for my records, just in case.

5.  I had to re-tire my car today.  As in, four new tires.  I got a flat on Friday, and researched Yelp (the best) as to where to take the tire to get it fixed, and found a good place.  In fact, a great place.  It was kind of funny, because the guy working there said "(sigh) You have three 2001 tires on your car and one 2006 tire and your spare is a 2001.  (sigh)  It's about that time."  Yeah, I couldn't really argue with that.  I knew I needed new tires.  He gave me four new ones in 45 minutes for $450.  Not bad.  I plan on getting a new car and "selling" (for $1) this one to my sister in the next four or five months, so I might as well take care of all the maintenance on it before I hand it off to her.  I will also take it to the dealer in the next six to eight weeks for the whole deal tuneup and such.  I like to do that before winter anyway, especially since this car is nine years old.  Then when shit starts to go wrong, she can't blame me.  I did my best.  And despite the tires, I really have taken good care of this car.  It's just when they say "Six years or 55,000 miles," you take that to heart.  My car only has 46,000 miles, so I thought I was okay.  But really?  It was time for new tires.  He was right.   

6.  I got a ticket for not having a front license plate.  When I moved here and registered my car, nine years ago, they only gave me one plate, which I put on the back.  I had previously lived in Michigan (a one plate state) and California (a two plate state, where they gave me two plates when I registered my car).  How was I to know I needed two when they only gave me one?  Did I have to ask for that?  Yes, I've seen cars with two plates -- in fact, all of them -- but why wouldn't they have given me two when I first registered my car here and got plates?  That's what they did in California.  It makes no sense.  And to get a new plate, I have to ask for a "replacement" and pay for a "replacement."  It is no "replacement" because they never gave me one in the first place.  I may go into court and fight this ticket.  I haven't decided yet.  It's $50.  But wouldn't it seem if you needed two plates by law that they would give you two when you first registered your car?

7.  Dexter is also back, so yay about that!  I love Michael C. Hall, but I hate Dexter's sister Deb, who is played by his real life wife.  Her swearing is out of control.  I mean, I have a potty mouth and so do a lot of people I know, but her character is out of control.  The f word without abandon.  It sounds so ridiculous.  Also, she looks disturbingly thin on the show.  Everytime I see her I just want to give her a cheeseburger.

8.  I went to Urban Burger Bar for the first time last night, and it is delicious!  Also lots of good, unique beers on tap.  Highly recommend.  New place, and it was pretty crowded, so it looks like they are doing well.  Got to support these new joints!

9.  Hated every design on this week's Project Runway except for Mondo's off the rack look and Andy's off the rack dress.  Just awful.  On what planet was any of that high fashion?  Awful.  Awful.  Mondo has to win this, since he is the only one who can come up with anything remotely cute or original.  (I did not dig the bodice on his high fashion look, and thought the rest of the dress looked prison striped like, but I can see why he won.  The back was cool.)  Although, there was no competition at all in the high fashion.  None.  Are you kidding me?  None of these people could come up with something cool or progressive?  Andy's boot pants were kind of cool, but it was clear that his design was not going to be in a L'Oreal makeup ad.  Gretchen's looked like a robe to me, and I hated it.  Everyone else's were just awful.  I am so happy Ivy was gone, because hers was by far the worst.  The colors, the "waves," yuck.  It was a total bridesmaid dress.

10.  The sewer/drain flies were getting into my place through -- wait for it, because you will not believe this -- a hole in the upper molding of my front door.  I swear to God.  I drove myself nutty cleaning out all my drains and trying to figure out the source.  There were only maybe seven or eight a day, but that was enough.  I was ready to just put the place up for sale.  Then, last week, I noticed that when I opened up my front door in the morning (I have a front door and a glass door that leads straight outside) that there were seven or eight of them clustered upon the inner molding between the glass and front doors.  So, putting my detective skills to work, I identified a hole.  A tiny hole.  I spackled over that shit, and haven't seen one in my place since.  Just call me Sherlock Holmes.  I can't even describe how happy I am to have found the source of this misery.  However, how they were getting to the hole in my molding is another story entirely.  I think we need some tuckpointing.  But honestly, as long as they can't find their way into my place -- I am thrilled.  Gone.                                                             

Happy Anniversary, Brett Favre

On September 27, 1992, Brett Favre started his now 288 consecutive game starting streak, then for the Green Bay Packers, through the New York Jets, to the current Minnesota Vikings.  Will anyone else ever even come close to that?

It's completely amazing that he's still playing, and, even though he's not doing so hot so far this season, playing as well as he does.  Hopefully he can get it together this season, because despite all his flip flopping when it comes to retirement, he's one of my all time favorite quarterbacks.

In honor:

I still have a hard time seeing him in purple.  I much preferred the green and yellow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Stop Transferring Your Wealth to the Wealthy: A Guide

I just love articles like this, titled "The 400 Richest Americans Get Richer This Year, As Most Americans Net Worth Tanked." The richest 400 Americans, per Forbes, keep getting richer, and people are angry!  How dare those rich people keep getting richer?

So, all right. Here is a partial list of things that everyday people can do to stop this outrage, and to prevent the transfer of their wealth to the wealthy.  This is my public service message:

1. Do not buy any products from Microsoft. After all, Bill Gates tops the list. Steve Ballmer is number 16 and Paul Allen is number 17.

2. Do not buy any products or services from Geico, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, See’s Candies, Benjamin Moore, Business Wire, or Helzberg Diamonds. All these companies are 100% owned by Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffet is number two on the list.

3. Do not buy any products from Oracle. Larry Ellison is number three on the list.

4. Do not buy any products from Walmart. Various members of the Walton family are numbers 4, 7, 8, 9, and 136 on the list.

5. Do not buy Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Stainmaster carpet, or anything made of Lycra. The Koch brothers are numbers five and six on the list.

6. Do not get your news from Bloomberg News or any of the magazines it provides information to. Michael Bloomberg is number 10 on the list.

7. Do not use Google. Its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Bren are numbers 11 and 12 on the list. This also means you can’t use You Tube, since it is a subsidiary of Google. Other Google folks are at number 48.

8. Do not stay at the Venetian or the Sands in Las Vegas. Their founder, Sheldon Adelson, is Number 13 on the list.

9. Do not buy a Dell computer. Michael Dell is number 15 on the list.

10. Do not use Its founder, Jeff Bezos ,is number 18 on the list.

11. Do not use Cox Communications, Auto Trader, or listen to any of the radio stations owned by Cox. Anne Cox Chambers is number 19 on the list, and other folks from Cox are at 38

12. Do not go to Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA or to the Irvine Spectrum Center. These are owned by the Irvine Company, whose chairman Donald Bren is number 20 on the list.

13. Do not use Fidelity Investments. Its founder, Abigail Johnson, comes in at number 21. Other folks from Fidelity show up at number 33.

14. Do not buy anything from Nike. Its founder, Phil Knight, comes in at number 22.

15. Do not buy anything from Mars, Incorporated, including 3 Musketeers, Altoids, Bounty paper towels, Dove soap, M&Ms, Mars bars, Milky Way, Pedigree pet foods, Skittles, Snickers, Starburst, Twix, Wrigley brand gum, like Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Extra, and Orbit, and Lifesavers. Forrest Mars, Jr., John Mars, and Jacqueline Mars, grandchildren of the founder, are numbers 23, 24, and 25 on the list. See also William Wrigley, who is number 170.

16. Do not use Facebook. Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg is number 35. See also number 290 and 356, and 365.

17. Do not use Enterprise Rent a Car. Its founder, Jack Taylor, is number 37.

18. Do not get your news or buy or use anything from News Corp. Its chairman, CEO, and founder, Rupert Murdock, is number 38. This means, no books published by HarperCollins, no 20th Century Fox or Fox Searchlight movies, no television shows on any Fox channel, or news on any Fox channel, no television shows on the FX channel or the National Geographic channel, no sports on the Big Ten Network, and no use of Hulu or MySpace.

19. Do not buy Vogue, Vanity Fair, or The New Yorker. The CEO of Advance Publications, which owns Conde Nast Publications, publisher of all of these titles, is Samuel Newhouse, who comes in at 38. Other Newhouses are at 49.

20. Do not buy any Apple products or download any songs from iTunes. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, is number 42 on the list.

21. Do not use eBay. Its founder, Pierre Omidyar, is number 47 on the list.

22. Do not shop at H.E. Butt Grocery stores. Charles Butt, grandson of the founder and current CEO is number 48 on the list.

23. Do not shop at Menard’s. Its founder, John Menard, is number 51 on the list.

24. Do not shop at Meijer. Its chairman, Frederik G.H. Meijer, son of the founder, is number 57 on the list.

25. Do not buy any Ralph Lauren clothing, perfume, or home products. He is number 60. This also includes Club Monaco and Polo branded items.

26. Do not buy any Estee Lauder products. Her son, Leonard Lauder is number 66, and her other son Ronald Lauder is number 124.

27. No Patron tequilia. It’s co-founder, John Paul Jones DeJoria is number 66.

28. Don’t take a cruise on Carnival or any of its lines. Micky Arison, son of the founder, is at 69.

29. Do not buy a computer with an Intel chip. Its co-founder, Gordon Moore is number 88.

30. Do not watch or listen to anything with Dolby sound. Dolby Laboratories’ founder, Ray Dolby, is 85 on the list.

31. Do not buy or watch anything Star Wars or Indiana Jones related, or anything related in any way to George Lucas, or any movies put out by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Industrial Light and Magic. He is number 97 on the list.

32. Do not watch any Steven Spielberg movies. He is number 110 on the list.

33. Do not go to Discount Tire Company. Its founder, Bruce Halle is number 110 on the list.

34. Do not watch the Atlanta Braves games in person, or on television or buy any of their gear. Also, don’t watch the Starz, Encore, or QVC on cable. Don’t use Expedia, Sirius, or OpenTV. These are owned by Liberty Media, whose chairman is John Malone, and number 110 on the list.

35. Do not shop at Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Bodyworks, or Henri Bendel. The CEO of Limited Brands, Leslie Wexner, is 119 on the list.

36. Do not watch MTV, Comedy Central, Logo, BET, Nickelodeon channels, or VH1 networks. Also, do not see any movies from Paramount Pictures, Viacom, MTV, or Nickelodeon. Sumner Redstone’s company has a controlling stake in all of these, and he’s number 124. Also, do not watch CBS, CW, or Showtime, or purchase any Simon & Schuster books, because he’s also chairman of CBS.

37. Do not buy any Dole products. Its chairman of the board, David Murdock, is number 130.

38. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the following teams: Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Avalanche, or St. Louis Rams. Their owner, Stan Kroenke is number 130.

39. Stop watching the Oprah Winfrey Show and buying O magazine. Oprah is also number 130.

40. Don’t shop at Hobby Lobby. Its founder, David Green, is number 130.

41. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their owner, Malcolm Glazer is number 136.

42. Do not shop at Best Buy. Its founder, Richard Schulze is number 144.

43. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Dallas Mavericks. Its owner, Mark Cuban is number 144. Also, don’t go to any Landmark Cinemas because he also owns those, and don’t watch HDNet, because he is chairman over there.

44. Don’t buy Campbell’s soup. An heir is at 144 on the list. Also, this includes Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Swanson, Pace, and V8. See also number 332 and 365.

45. Don’t stay at any Hilton Hotels. William Hilton is number 144.

46. Don’t buy beanie babies. Ty Warner is number 153.

47. Stop watching The Apprentice. Also, don’t go to any Trump casinos or hotels. Donald Trump is number 153.

48. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Its owner, Glen Taylor, is number 164.

49. Do not buy Cosmopolitan, O, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics, Redbook, Seventeen, or Town & Country. Also, don’t read the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, or The Advocate. And don’t watch A&E or ESPN. William Randolph Hearst III, director of the Hearst Corporation, is number 170. For good measure, many other Hearst folks are on the list at 221 and 224.

50. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Boston Bruins. Delaware North Company’s Chairman and CEO, son of the founder, Jeremy Jacobs, is number 170, and owns this team. Additionally, the Delaware North Company runs the concessions at Boston Garden, Yosemite National Park, Kennedy Space Center, Grand Canyon National Park, Niagra Falls State Park, the stadiums where the following teams play: St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Buffalo Bills, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bears, and the following airports: Los Angeles International, Nashville International, Buffalo Niagra, and Detroit Metro. So don’t eat if you go to any of those places.

51. Don’t buy a Kohler faucet or anything else from Kohler. Herbert Kohler, President and Chairman, is number 182.

52. Don’t stay at Treasure Island in Las Vegas or go to Witchita Greyhound Park. The owner of both of these, Phil Ruffin, comes in at number 182.

53. Don’t buy Drano, Fantastik, Glade, Oust, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles, Shout, Windex, Saran Wrap, Ziploc, OFF!, or Raid. Herbert Fisk Johnson III, heir and current CEO to SC Johnson & Sons is 182 on the list. Other heirs are also at the 182 spot.

54. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Dallas Cowboys. Its owner, Jerry Jones, is number 182.

55. Don’t stay at the Wynn if you go to Las Vegas. Steve Wynn is number 205. See also 385.

56. Don’t buy Kendall-Jackson wine. Its founder, Jess Jackson, is number 217.

57. Do not ship your packages via Federal Express. Its founder, chairman, and CEO, Frederick W. Smith comes in at 218. Additionally, don’t go to Kinko’s, because FedEx owns them, too.

58. Don’t eat at Subway. Its founders Fred De Luca and Peter Buck round in at 221.

59. Don’t buy New Balance shoes. Its chairman, and the guy who brought them to prominence, Jim Davis, is number 222.

60. Don’t use Public Storage. Its founder and chairman, Bradley Hughes, rolls in at 238. See also 385.

61. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Detroit Tigers or Detroit Red Wings. Their owner, Mike Illitch is number 238. He also owns Little Caesar’s Pizza and the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit, so don’t go there either.

62. Do not buy any Marvel comic books, or anything else associated with Marvel Entertainment, like toys and films. Its CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, is number 250.

63. Don’t eat at Chick-fil-a. Its founder, S. Truett Cathy is number 252.

64. Don’t stay at the Marriott. The founder’s son is now running the place, and comes in at 266. See also number 269.

65. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the New England Patriots. Their owner, Robert Kraft, is number 269. Oh, and he also owns the Gillette Stadium, where they play, so don’t go there for anything else either.

66. Don’t buy Slim-Fast. Its founder, S. Daniel Abraham, comes in at number 269.

67. Stay away from Home Depot. Its co-founder, Bernard Marcus, is also number 269. See also number 332.

68. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Houston Texans. Their owner, Bob McNair, is number 290.

69. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Baltimore Ravens. Their majority owner, Steve Bisciotti, is number 308.

70. Don’t shop at Urban Outfitters. Its President and cofounder, Richard Hayne, rings in at 308.

71. Stop shopping at the Gap. Its founder’s son, John Fisher, is number 330.

72. Don’t use Yahoo. Its founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, are number 356.

73. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Washington Redskins. Their owner, Dan Snyder, is number 365. He’s also the owner of So You Think You Can Dance, the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve. So don’t watch any of those either.

74. Don’t buy Albert Nipon, Anne Klein, Bandolino, Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini, Evan-Picone, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jones New York, Joan and David, Judith Jack, Kasper, Le Suit, Mootsies Tootsies, Nine West, Norton McNaughton, Sam & Libby, or Rachel Roy. Jones Apparel Group’s founder and chairman, Sidney Kimmel, is number 365.

75. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the New Orleans Saints. Their owner, Tom Benson, is number 382.

76. Don’t buy Hallmark cards. Its current chairman, Donald Hall, is number 385.

77. Do not watch any games on television, attend any games live, or buy any gear for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their owner, Jeffrey Lurie, is number 385.

78. Don’t buy any Ford vehicles. William Ford is the great grandson of founder Henry Ford and current executive chairman, and is also number 385.

If you do not want to redistribute your wealth to “the rich,” then follow the above 78 examples. And these are only examples. There are many other folks on the Forbes list who I did not research in depth to find out how you might best keep your wealth away from them. Heck, there are probably lots of rich people who didn't even make the Forbes list that you can stop giving your money to.  These are simply guidelines. With a little nose to the grindstone work of your own, maybe you can come up with more ideas.

I’m sure none of the people on the above list have any sort of payroll or employ anyone else, so when you start your boycott, I’m sure no one will be laid off for lack of demand, so don't worry about issues like those. Also, clearly they didn’t think of or produce any products or services that anyone would want to use, so this should be easy. You don’t need any of this stuff, do you? Also, once you find your new replacement product for all of the above, keep in mind that your new seller will likely also become wealthy at some point, since you and others like their product and are buying their product, so you will eventually have to leave them behind also, once they become the hated wealthy class. After all, it’s only fair, isn’t it? No one deserves to be rich or wealthy, even if they come up with a great idea that everyone wants to buy. Also, none of the people listed above give anything to charity. Nothing at all. If you believe that, I’ve got some great beachfront property to sell you in Omaha.

It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

Political Correctness Is Starting to Annoy Me

Well, pending President Obama's signature, the words "mental retardation" will no longer be used in federal laws.  Instead, the words "intellectual disability" will be used.

There is nothing wrong with the term "mental retardation."  "Mental" generally means "of the mind."  "Retardation" generally means "slowness" or "limitation."  How is this term insulting?  I just don't get it.  I know people use the term "retard" in slang terms, but I personally don't feel we should be renaming everything that turns into slang.  (How about the word "gay"?  When I was a kid we used to say "that's so gay!"  That's not politically correct anymore either.)  And for that matter, how long until "intellectual disability" is deemed too insulting and is replaced with the new flavor of the month term?

I wonder if they are going to rewrite all of the federal laws to replace the term.  That would be a fun project for all of the interns up on Capitol Hill.

Also, glad to see Congress is working on all the important stuff, like the tax cuts that are going to expire at the end of the year or putting together a budget for 2011 (which was due last spring). 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lady Gaga: Equality, Prime Rib, and Has Never Read the Constitution

Well, DADT did not get repealed.  This disappoints me.  I think the entire concept of it is silly, and if gays are welcome to serve openly in the military in places like Canada and all of Western Europe, it's pretty clear we are behind the times here in the United States. 

You know what also disappoints me?  Misinformation and confusion.  Lady Gaga held a "rally" in Maine in support of repealing DADT.  I agree with her.  It should be repealed.  However, her speech was filled with assumptions about the Constitution and federal law as it stands, all of which made it abundantly clear that she's never read the U.S. Constitution or done any research on how it has been interpreted.  (A lot of people do this -- "Isn't that in the Constution?"  "No, it isn't, actually.")  Moreover, rather than focus on DADT -- of which there are numerous really good arguments and studies as to why it should be repealed -- she chose to focus on her own interpretation of what she thinks the Constitution means, and turn her speech into a clustered up mess.  That's great and all -- but it is not the law.   

First, a brief lesson.  This is quick and dirty, since entire books have been written on this stuff.

The U.S. Constitution is "the law of the land."  It is interpreted by the federal courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court being the ultimate end all interpreter.

The 14th Amendment applies to the states, and has the famous "equal protection clause."

The 5th Amendment applies to the federal government, and although it does not have the words "equal protection," has generally been interpreted to apply equal protection under its "due process" provision.

The Constitution does not say who is entitled to this "equal protection," so that has been interpreted at length by the courts.  Some of those interpretations have been codified into federal statutes, the most famous being the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Under the court interpretation and statutes, the main protected classes under federal law are race, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, and disability.  Sexual orientation has not been established to be a protected class under the equal protection clause under federal law or the Supreme Court other than with respect to hate crimes.

Moving on.  Here is a link to Lady Gaga's full speech.  She stated this:
Doesn't it seem to be that "don't ask, don't tell" is backwards? Doesn't it seem to be that, based on the Constitution of the United States, that we're penalizing the wrong soldier? 
Although it may sound crazy, the Constitution has not been interpreted under federal law by the Supreme Court to cover anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation.  The closest federal law applying to sexual orientation is for hate crimes, not general anti-discrimination.  A step in the right direction, yes.  Wholly encompassing?  No.  Many states have laws that prevent discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, and some federal district courts have come to the conclusion that equal protection should apply based on sexual orientation, but the Supreme Court has not reached that conclusion, nor has any federal law stated as such.  It's a huge hodge podge at the moment.  So here, I'm not sure on what basis she is asserting that we should "penalize" a soldier for being homophobic, unless they happen to commit a hate crime. 
I am here today because I would like to propose a new law; a law that sends home the soldier that has the problem. Our new law is called "if you don't like it, go home."
And now she's amending the Constitution.  Or maybe she's arguing that the 14th Amendment equal protection clause should apply to homosexuals.  Or maybe she's arguing that there should be a federal anti-discrimination law for homosexuals.  Or maybe she's arguing that people aren't entitled to have their own opinion.  Who knows?
Or, moreover, if you serve this country, is it acceptable to be a cafeteria American soldier? Can you choose some things from the Constitution to put on your plate, but not others?
Here, she is referring to equality.  Where is she getting this "choose some things from the Constitution" stuff from?  It's not in there for sexual orientation as currently interpreted by the Supreme Court, or as enacted in federal law.  Maybe it should be there.  Maybe morally people shouldn't be homophobic.  But right now, it isn't there under federal law, so no one is choosing "some things" and leaving others.       
Should the military be allowed to treat Constitutional rights like a cafeteria?
Again, equality, and again, not a Constitutional right as it pertains to sexual orientation as currently interpreted by the Supreme Court, or as enacted in federal law.
I wasn't aware of this ambiguity in our Constitution. I thought the Constitution was ultimate. I thought equality was non-negotiable.
Has she read the Constitution?  If she had, she would know that it is obviously ambiguous, given how many millions of pages courts have spent attempting to interpret what it means and how it should be applied.  Has she read any case law on the equal protection clause or protected classes?  I'm not saying it's right -- at all -- but as of now, it is what it is, and the Supreme Court has not interpreted it that way.   
And, let's say, if the government can pick and choose who they're fighting for, as exemplified in laws like "don't ask, don't tell," shouldn't we as Americans be made aware of this imbalance?
I don't know that DADT states that the military is not fighting for gays.  I'm not really sure what she is talking about here, and it sounds a little like Chicken Little.  However, the Constitution and all of the case law interpreting it are publicly available documents, open for any American to read to their heart's content.  And the federal government most definitely "picks and chooses" which classes of people it thinks should be "protected," as would be apparent if she read any case law concerning equal protection.
Equality is the prime rib of America. Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation. And I don't get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat that my country has to offer.
Now she ties it all to her "meat dress" from the VMAs.  Is she trying to say that prime rib is the greatest cut of meat available?  I'm not sure I agree with that either, and it seems like a dumb metaphor.  What about kobe?  She's confusing two different things -- DADT and equal rights for homosexuals under the Constitution.  Although there are certainly overlapping issues, the vote was to repeal DADT, and that was what she was allegedly there to discuss.  The whole equal protection under the laws issue is another beast entirely.  Seems like she could've spent some time talking about all the other nations who freely allow homosexuals in their militaries, or about all the studies done showing that allowing homosexuals to be open while in the military doesn't have any affect.  Isn't that really the issue here?  Wouldn't that be more convincing than an argument attempting to enact entirely new law?   

I guess good for her for speaking out and all, but...maybe she should've done a little research first.  Or, maybe I'm expecting too much out of a pop star who organized a political rally.  In Maine. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Fear I've Passed the Point...

When I was 26 years old and working in management consulting, my boss at the time was 32 years old and drove a Porsche.  She was super fashionable and basically my idol for the entire year I worked with her.  I wanted to be her when I was 32.  Well, I still don't have a Porsche, but that's okay since I live in the city now.  She was dating a guy at the time kind of seriously, but confessed to me that she felt like she was stuck in her ways, had waited too long to marry, and that she was so independent that she didn't know if she could deal with marriage and everything that marriage required.  I don't know what happened to her, because I left the firm shortly after that project and moved to Chicago for law school.  I should really look her up. 

But what she said stuck with me, and I feel that way now.  In fact, I've felt that way for awhile.  I'm used to my life now -- my life with my friends, family, work, and co-workers.  I question whether I have room for another person in my life, particularly one that requires the amount of time that a boyfriend/husband requires.  Right now, I can do exactly what I want to do.  I have no requirements of oh, we have to meet my friends for this and by the way you get to hang out with their wives, or we have to do Christmas with my family or I have this work event and you have to come with me...etc. 

Of course, everyone thinks I am missing out on that "bond," that "relationship."  Sometimes I agree.  There were certain things I loved about having a boyfriend.  It's nice to have someone to immediately call when something great happens and someone to generally lounge around with and be lazy.  It's nice to have someone to force to go with you to family events and work events and any other events you want to go to.  But I have those things in my friends and family.  I can call my sisters or my mom at any time.  Even my married friends are right there when I need them.  Hell, my married friends want to go out with me more than anyone.  Does that say something?  I don't know.  There were also bad things about having a boyfriend.  It goes both ways.

At any rate, since I'm home on "date night," I've been giving it all some thought.  My male coworkers think I need to get involved with more Chicago Bar Association and other lawyerly type associations around here to meet someone.  But hell, I don't want to date a lawyer!  I want to date someone in some other line of business.  To be honest, my requirements in a mate are at odds.  I want someone who makes decent money (so I know they aren't after me for mine), but yet most businessmen or other financially successful men I meet are completely insufferable.  (Dude, I don't want to talk about the stock market, let's talk about Jersey Shore!)  As are most lawyers.  (Maybe I am also?)  And I like tattoos on a guy.  I really am attracted toward more "guy's guys," if that makes any sense.  Not guys who go to a salon to get their hair cut or get their nails manicured.  I mean, God.  I want a guy who can fix my toilet or patch my drywall, right?  Unfortunately, many times the money requirement isn't there.  This isn't a gold digging thing, either, because I do fine on my own.  And while guys can claim all they want that they want a woman who makes big money, when it comes down to it, they don't.  They are intimidated by it.  Been there, done that.

At any rate, I don't know why I find it so incredibly hard to meet someone I like, other than that I'm now maybe being incredibly picky because it will be a sacrifice for me to date/marry anyone, because I will have to give up my life that I'm used to.  That's really terrible, isn't it?  But God, almost everyone I know who is married seems kind of miserable.  My mom tells me I need to put as much effort into dating as I do into my career.  Maybe she's right.  In fact, she is right.  I put no effort into dating.  If I meet a guy who asks me out, and I like him, I'll go out with him, but I really put no effort into meeting men.  When I'm out with my friends, I hang with my friends.  I don't scope the bar for men.  I just think that's rude.  What I really want is a guy to just go out with, travel with, have sex with, etc., but with no real huge commitment.  Unless I want it.  Ha ha.

I'll just say this -- after quite a few long(ish) term relationships -- one four years, one two years, one nine months, and one six months -- I've found that I've generally been happier just to be on my own.
But then again, Gloria Steinem got married at 66, so maybe there is still hope for me...if I want it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saks Invites You to Come Rob Me

I got the strangest flyer from Saks Fifth Avenue on my door last week.

It's set up like a "Do Not Disturb" sign at hotels.  As in, it's rectangular with a hole in it to place around your doorknob to hang on your door.

And this is what it says:


This was on my front door when I got home from work.  So, this is the message:

Hey Potential Thieves!

Guess what?  I'm out.  No one is home.  I'm shopping at Saks, which, next to Neiman Marcus, is probably the most expensive department store in the city.  This means I have money.  So, since I'm out for the entire day -- or maybe longer -- come on in and steal some stuff that I previously bought at Saks or other expensive stores.


I mean, seriously.  What a dumb flyer. 

Project Runway is So Disappointing this Season

I love Project Runway.  I want Michael Kors and Tim Gunn to constantly walk around with me and comment on what is going on around them.  They are both just fantastic.  If I played one of those "what celebrities do you want to invite to a dinner party" games, Tim Gunn and Michael Kors would both be right up on the list.

I've watched every season except for last season (I DVR'd it, but was really busy when it was on and never got around to watching it).  And usually by this point in time -- more than halfway through -- at least a few designers pop out as being very talented, at least to me.  Even designers whose stuff I would never wear, I can at least acknowledge that they have a vision and have something to say.  (I'm talking to you, Santino.)

But this season?  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  To the blahity blah.  The only designer who has anything is Mondo.  I've liked a number of his designs so far.  At least the guy has a point of view.  I desperately want his skirt from this week's Jackie O challenge.  Gretchen won the first two challenges with average designs, Michael C. won two challeges with average designs, Mondo won this week, Casanova won one week, and I think Andy won one week.  Like, I don't even remember who because all of the designs have been so blah.  None of the designs -- except Mondo's this week -- even stood out.  The gap between the worst and the best isn't that big.  Also, to quote Heidi, everything seems so "mall" this year.  Nothing I haven't seen before.  Nothing is fashion forward or "edgy" or for the most part, anything I would even want to wear.

It's just so odd, because usually you see some really cool stuff on Project Runway.  And the people are just abhorrent.  Ivy -- who has never won a challenge -- seems to think she is the best thing since sliced bread, when she uses a boring color pallette and hasn't done anything remotely interesting.  Gretchen seems to think she is either Tim Gunn or one of the judges.  Andy wants to do the Asian aesthetic thing rather than follow the challenges.  April is way too goth/hooker for me.  Christopher is just blah.  Michael C. is hated by the rest, and I can't quite figure out why.  Mondo is acceptable because he is so quirky and he apologized to Michael C.  Valerie talks in questions and likes zippers and piping way too much. 

Altogether, an odd season.  And I spoilered myself and looked at their lines at Fashion Week online, and let me just say -- yuck.  I didn't like any of their collections.  (So many of them lacked pants.  Thank you, Lady Gaga, for making no pants acceptable.  That is so screwed up.)

I'm ready for a new group of designers.         

Thank You Chicago Police Department!

I drove into work yesterday since I hadn't driven my car recently.  When I got home, there was a utility truck in the alley blocking my garage.  They were doing some work on the power lines or something to that effect.  No big deal; I just decided to park in the street out front, and figured I would just move my car today.

Even though I've had my Chicago city sticker for over two months, I had not put it on my windshield since 99% of the time my car is in my garage and safe from the highly vigilant Chicago Police Department when it comes to tickets for lack of city sticker.  And not only did I need the city sticker, but I need the parking zone number that is on it for my street, since I live in zoned parking.  So, the sticker had to be applied if I wanted to park on the street for the evening.  The last sticker I bought (purchased in 2004) was still on my windshield, so I had to peel it off, which left a great deal of sticky crap in the optimal spot for this sticker.  I didn't feel much like scrubbing my windshield when I got home from work, so I just peeled off the new sticker and put it above the sticky crap.  Problem is, the stickiness of the new sticker was not as sticky as it should be.

And then I remembered.  About a month ago, one of my coworkers was complaining about this very thing.  When the city stickers were printed, they weren't printed with enough stick.  So, he had to go and get another one.  Apparently they were giving them out for free if you had already bought one, but only for about a month.  I made a mental note to myself at that point to check mine out, and then promptly forgot about it until yesterday when I got around to applying the sticker.  But the stickiness seemed like enough and I pressed it on really hard, and figured it could last for one night.

I went out to check on it this afternoon, after a big rain, and of course, the sticker had come unstuck and was laying on my dashboard.  Luckily there was no ticket.  But someone -- and I assume it was the CPD -- had crammed one of those things you can use to apply a city sticker to your windshield without actually sticking it on the windshield (I don't know what they are called) into my driver's side window.  None of the other cars had them, so my only conclusion is that a cop came by, saw that my sticker was unstuck, thankfully decided to not give me a ticket even though it was not "properly placed on the lower right hand corner of my windshield" and to boot, gave me something to stick it on with.

Unfortunately, it was drenched from the rain, so I couldn't even get it off the paper.  But still, it was a nice thing to do, particularly since the way my sticker fell was not showing my parking zone.  Although, I assume he ran my plate and saw that my address was right in front of where I was parked. 

At any rate, I am so glad I didn't get a ticket over this, because of course I would have to go and fight it, and that is time I don't want to spend right now.  I'm hoping this sticky thing dries out and I can still use it; otherwise, looks like I'll be making a trip to CVS to buy a new one.    

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Thoughts on 9/16

1.  The Gucci beltbag was a big hit with my mom.  She loved it!  She also encouraged me to buy one...I will, soon.  I can't even express how happy I am that she liked it.  It's kind of a weirdo gift, but I thought she might like it.  And she did.  Yay! 

2.  I'm going to start Ahmad Bradshaw over Joseph Addai in my Fantasy league this week. Fuck it.  I won last week, so let's just get a little crazy and bring on the 2-0 record.  Surely the Giants are going to bring out their running game after Arian Foster's performance against the Colts last week.

3.  I'm still having nightmares this week over Robin's house on Hoarders.  And Matt Paxton (who I totally love) on the A&E message boards says her house was "easy" compared to some we will see later in the season!  I'm not sure I can cope with this, honestly.  And I'm not sure I like the new "two episodes in a row" format.  It's just too much to handle all at once.

4.  When I was out smoking today at work, I saw a woman (a large, very large woman) out there, and she had a hole (noticeably large) in the shoulder seam of her shirt.  I couldn't decide if I should tell her or not.  If she already knew, that would be embarrassing for her.  But if she didn't know, then that would be maybe okay.  I couldn't decide, so I said nothing.  I never know how to handle these types of things.

5.  The doormen at my building at work can be quantified as follows:  (1)  the "smile and show me your dimples" guy; (2) the "share your lunch with me" guy; (3) the "no matter how many times I see you you still need to show me your building badge" guy; (4) the "hello, how are you" and "let me scream your name across the massive lobby" when I see you guy; and (5) the "I'm going to tell [the founding partner of your firm] you are out smoking" guy.  I hate them all.  And for the record, no one at my firm cares if I go out for a smoke.

6.   Oh yeah, and doorman number (4) above?  Bought me a huge painting when I moved into my new place.  Huge.  As in about 24" x 36".  Out of the blue, and without any instigation.  He bought me a painting.  This was possibly one of the most bizarre things of my entire life.  He told me it was a housewarming gift.  (I guess I told him in passing that I bought a place.)  Seriously, what the fuck?  Who does this?  I mean, my closest friends just bought me wine.  It was a nice painting, I like it, and it is hanging in my dining room as we speak, but, seriously, weird.  All the guys at the office now tease me about this.  I don't even know how to act around him now.  It's just so strange.

7.  My brother called me today (he was here Monday/Tuesday) specifically to tell me that he was "proud of me" and "so impressed with where I work and what I've done."  (He visited my office for the first time when he was here.)  I almost broke out into tears when he told me this.  You see, my brother -- my twin -- and I were hugely competitive growing up, and he could've done everything I did and more.  He is, in fact, much smarter than I am.  But, he chose a different road.  He didn't go to college.  And he is hugely excelling at what he does, despite that he didn't go to college.  I mean, he is awesome at what he does.  I can't even begin to explain how talented he is, and actually, how much he is meant to be doing what he is doing.  We just chose different roads.  He has four kids, I have none.  He is in manufacturing, I am in an office. touched me greatly that he specifically called me to say that, because we've never been close (although I go on vacation with him and his family every year and do all kinds of things for his kids), and I always felt like he kind of resented me or something, because I took a different path and was always "the good kid."  So, this call from him was awesome.  I'm not sure why, but for some reason I always felt guilty around him for being the kid that got the straight As and followed the standard path, while he was out there fucking around and being an idiot, when he had every opportunity to go the same path that I did.  He's got it together now, big time, and I am also so proud of him.  Many people have the knowlege and skill that I do -- but not many at all in this day in age in manufacturing in the U.S. have his skills.  He is a diamond.  I told him that after he complimented me.  I'm so proud of my brother.  He can fix, build, or calibrate any machine on earth.  This guy can do calculus without ever even taking a class in it.  He is amazing.

8.     Speaking of which, despite an alcoholic father and a divorce, all of us kids turned out just fine.  Me and my younger sister have law degrees, my brother is at the top of his field, despite no degree, which he didn't need, since he is so freaking smart naturally, and our youngest sister is a super hard worker, and has finally realized that she doesn't want to be a waitress forever, so she is in nursing school.  Let me say, with an alcoholic parent, and my dad was bad, hallucinations and fucked up shit and all, you deal with some screwed up stuff.  But, we all made it through, and made it through pretty well.  We are all high achievers, and I attribute that both to my mom and dad.  My dad was a high achiever until alcohol got the better of him, but even while on the booze, he never expected less than the best from us.  I don't know.  No one has a perfect childhoold, right?  You just have to push on and do it.  The past is the past.

9.  I have this dream of starting a Twitter account called "Shit My Secretary Says," you know, like that guy who did the one about his dad who now has the TV show about it.  Unfortunately, I'm too nice.  You see, my secretary doesn't know how ridiculously dumb she is or how stupid the stuff she says is.  If it were my mom or my sibling, I would totally do it.  My fear is that if I did it with respect to my secretary that it would blow up and ultimately expose her, and I would never want to do it, because she is unintentionally dumb.  She tries hard, but there is just very little up in the brain cavity. And she is a super sweet person, so I would never want to embarrass her like that.  But wow, do I have the stories on this.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Federal Reporters as Props on Television

Most television shows don’t accurately portray lawyers or the job of being a lawyer, and I’ve gotten used to it. You never see lawyers doing any of the truly day to day work, and I suppose that’s fine. After all, who wants to watch a television show about a guy writing a brief or sitting in a deposition?

One of the thing that totally irritates me, though, and I see it all the time, is the use of legal books as props in completely inane locations. Particularly, the federal reporters, which look like this:

(There are federal reporters for appellate courts, federal supplement reporters for district courts, and Supreme Court reporters, for Supreme Court cases. They all look pretty much identical for purposes of this blog post, although Supreme Court reporters are usually much thicker, so for ease here I’m just going to refer to them all as “federal reporters.”  They are all beige, red, black, and gold like in the picture above.)

Today’s example is How I Met Your Mother. I was catching up on some reruns last night on Lifetime, since I think the show is pretty funny, but somehow I always forget to watch it.

During the early seasons, Marshall was in law school. On the console table behind the couch in the apartment he and Ted shared, there are three or four federal reporters. A regular person might see this and think nothing of it. However, being a lawyer, I find it to be complete laziness on the part of whoever set up the props for that room.

Here is what I am talking about:

Not a great picture, but it was all I could find on the Internet.  See them lined up there behind Ted? The thickness and number varied across the few episodes I watched.

Here’s why it is absolutely inane and ridiculous that a law student would have these books in his apartment:

1. These are not books that can be checked out of any legal library; they are reference books.

2. These books are used to publish all of the federal court case opinions that are decided across the country (depending on district court, appellate court, or Supreme Court), and the cases inside of them are arranged by date, not subject matter. So, in the federal reporter supplement you might have a Delaware case on personal jurisdiction, followed by a Northern District of California case on a motion to compel documents, followed by an Eastern District of Texas case on summary judgment of a patent invalidity claim, followed by a Southern District of New York case dealing with some constitutional law issue, etc. In short, this is not a book that anyone reads straight through. It is used to look up and read specific cases, and goes right back on the shelf.

3. There are thousands of volumes of federal reporters. You would never have any reason to keep one or two sitting around once you finished looking up the case you wanted to read.

4. The odds that you would regularly need one or two volumes are basically slim to none.

5. Marshall would probably just look up the cases online using Westlaw or Lexis.

Okay, okay, I guess it’s possible Marshall bought a few of these used on eBay for decoration, but really?  Who does this?  And I know the books look pretty, but regularly on television shows you see set decorations with three or five of these sitting nicely on a shelf in someone’s office. If you watch a lot of lawyer shows, you will see this a lot. In the real world, this makes no sense at all. If I have any of these in my office, they are scattered, open, all over my desk – not lined up pretty on a shelf between bookends. They are in use, so to speak.

You also sometimes see nearly an entire set of these lining the walls of someone’s office on television, or even more oddly, the walls of their office at home. In real life, these books are very expensive and there are thousands of volumes of them, so most law firms have one set. (This works, because the odds that two people are going to need the exact same volume at the exact same time are again, slim to none.) Depending on the size of the firm, there might be two or three sets. In no way would they ever be kept in someone’s office. If they were, people would be wandering in and out all day grabbing volumes. Who would ever want that? And while maybe a few people in the country have a full set of these suckers at home, I can’t imagine most normal people would even consider it.

Oh well, I guess we all have these little quibbles about how our profession is portrayed on television.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Direct TV's Player Tracker Sucks

The idea of Player Tracker is fantastic.  When you have NFL Sunday Ticket on Direct TV, you can input up to 18 players, and when those players do something (i.e. reception, rushing, touchdown), an alert will flash at the bottom of your television screen.  This is great for keeping track of who is doing what on your Fantasy Football team, because obviously you can't watch all the games at once.  (Well, actually, now you kind of can with Direct TV, since their Game Mix feature allows you to watch eight games at once.  Unfortunately, even on my 46" television, it's kind of hard to watch for long periods of time.)

So, what's the problem with this fabulous feature?  You have to be watching a game on one of the Direct TV HD channels in order for the alerts to work.  These are the 700 numbered channels (like 700-730 or something like that).  If you are watching a game on Fox or CBS, the alerts don't work.

You see -- and even Direct TV admits this on their web site -- if a national station, like CBS or Fox is airing a game, then Direct TV cannot show that game on one of the 700 channels.  It will not be there, even though from the guide it appears to be there.  So, if I'm watching a game on Fox or CBS (since I can't watch it on one of the Direct TV channels), no player alerts.  This is irritating, because usually I do like to watch the Bears game, which is always on Fox or CBS, since I live in Chicago.  I also usually get the Packers, Vikings, or Colts around here when the Bears aren't playing -- all teams I also like to watch. 

So, much of the time, I'm paying for NFL Sunday ticket even though I'm watching the game on Fox or CBS, and getting none of the perks about it, like say, the Player Alerts.  While I had a great time yesterday hopping around between the 8 game view and into the Denver, Steelers, and Bengals games, ultimately I really wanted to watch the Bears and the Colts, which were aired on Fox and CBS, respectively.  I questioned whether NFL Sunday ticket is worth the cost, and even despite all of this, it really is.  It's nice to know that I can watch whatever game I want to watch, depending on what is going on in my Fantasy league.  And I guess it's not such a hardship to just check my phone for my Fantasy player stats.

I just wonder why the alerts don't work when I'm tuned into Fox or CBS.  Given the technology today, you'd think they could manage to make it work. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

What to Get the Woman Who Has Everything?

I'm sitting here tonight (at home and snuggly in my pajamas, thank God, because Friday nights, been there, done that), trying to decide what to get my mom for her birthday. 

My mom has everything.  She has no filter at all when it comes to shopping.  If she likes it, she buys it.  So, there is never any list of "things mom wants" or anything like that.  She loves jewelry, but she has a ton already.  She loves shoes, coats, clothes, makeup, everything fashionable.  My mom is quite the hottie for a soon to be 61 year old woman.  She.  Just.  Has.  Everything.  Which, of course, makes her impossible to buy for.  Well, not impossible.  I know what she likes.  She likes all the same stuff I do, since we have absolutely identical taste in everything.  (Weird, right?)  So, I can buy her a wristlet or a bracelet or whatever I would like to have, and I know she would love it.  But, she has all this stuff.  In triplicate.  So, I like to try to think of unique items to buy her.

She used to be an astronomy teacher, so I once had a star named after her in the Star Registry.  She thought that was pretty neat.  I know the Star Registry is kind of scammy, but the framed certificate was really nice.

Another gift that I totally surprised her with requires a brief story.  She and I took a trip to Boston together, and we wandered into this Indian shop that was filled with beautiful rugs and statues and all kinds of neat stuff, and there was a small elephant statue type thing in there made out of a bunch of minerals and such (she knew all the minerals, I've long since forgotten, since that is not my thing), and she loved it.  It was very pretty, I will admit.  However, it was around $250, so she opted to  not buy it, since she already has so many statue type things sitting around her house, and since we had already both just spent a crapload of money in New York.  About three months later, I was in Boston for a deposition, and I happened to walk right by that stupid store, so I went in there, and they still had it, so I bought it for her for Christmas and totally surprised her.  She was thrilled to get her little elephant, which I've been told I get when she dies.  (My mom always says this stuff to me now..."When I die, you get this."  While on one hand I don't like her to talk that way, on the other hand, I like to know this so I can inform my siblings.  I have also informed her that I get her beautiful marble coffee tables.  She informed me that she wants me to have them.  Morbid, right?)

I also purchased her first, second, third, and only wristlets, from Coach.  She loved them, but I played out the Coach wristlet thing.  I need a new game.  I also got her a Coach bracelet one year just because it was so her.  I saw it and just had to buy it for her.  It was her, you know?

I should really learn, because when I see something I like for my mom, I buy it for her, and ship it to her immediately.  I have to learn patience, because I could just hoard up these items and save them for things like her birthday and Christmas and all that, and then I wouldn't be sitting here a mere six days before her birthday trying to think up something monumental.  Well, it doesn't have to be monumental, but it has to be something.  I bought her no birthday gift last year (with many apologies) since I had just spent a boatload of money on the home I am now sitting in and went through this "I can't spend any money now" phase.  I'm over that, thankfully.  It was all a totally ridiculous kind of false panic attack. 

The other problem is that my mom chooses to not be technologically savvy.  She could be -- she is certainly smart enough.  Yet, she chooses not to.  So, while I would love to send her a Wii + Wii Fit (since she retired she is into walking and working out), there is no way in hell she would ever hook it up to her miniscule television set (that's another issue, but I'm not about to buy her a bigass TV yet).  Nor could I send her an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, a Kindle, or anything else cool like that.  So, it's fashion, makeup, or jewelry.  Or some other random thing.  I can't even buy her shoes anymore, because although we wore the same size for my entire life, apparently now her feet have "spread" so she wears either an 8 1/2 or a 9 (which is great for me, since I get all her 8s), but it depends on the shoe.  So.

This is my dilemma. 

I'd like to buy her a Gucci beltbag (a.k.a., the Gucci fannypack) so she could use it while walking, but I don't particularly want to spend $400 right now.  I mean, I just wrote a $50,000 check, so I'm not exactly floating in the dough.  And I can't buy her anything labeled a fannypack, because my sisters will make endless fun of me.  They would not make fun if it was Gucci.  (Ha, ridiculous, right?) LeSportsac has some kind of cute ones.  Would that be weird?  I do think she would use it, though, so I might just go there.  So ha, 1982!  I'm right back with you!

Ugh, fuck it.  She's getting the Gucci fanny pack.  I mean, the woman who is my whole reason for being on this planet does not deserve LeSportsac.  She deserves the Gucci.  And I can totally afford it, even though I am in the same "oh my God I can't spend any money now" flim flam I was in last year at this time due to the $50,000 check.  For God's sakes, I can afford it. 

I'm so dumb sometimes. 

The Big Line Versus The Idiot

There is a Walgreens near my office that I pop into once or twice a week for cigarettes or pantyhose, and every time I am there, the following happens:

There are about four or five registers, with maybe three of them open. The registers are stretched out in one long counter across the front of the store.

People start to get in line. One big line is created, and the next person in line goes to the next open register. This is the more efficient way of doing things, rather than creating separate lines behind each register, because inevitably there is always one really slow cashier.

This Walgreens is always really crowded; hence, there is always a big line up of people waiting for the next open register—a big line of people holding onto shopping baskets filled with items, or holding various items from the Walgreen shelves. Waiting in line with a purpose, not just standing around.

Everyone is contently standing in line, and all is at peace in the world…until.

Some idiot – either not seeing or completely ignoring the big line of people waiting to check out – starts a new line behind someone checking out at one of the registers.

Equilibrium is thrown off. Everyone in the big line looks at each other in horror. Someone clears their throat loudly. People start whispering to people they don’t even know. “What is that person doing?” “Who does he think he is?” “Doesn’t he see us standing here?” “Should we say something?”

The idiot stands in their newly created cutters line. The person in front of them finishes checking out, and the idiot steps up to the register. Sometimes a person from the big line will rush in and cut them off at the pass, slamming their shopping basket on the counter. Everyone in the big line silently cheers. Or sometimes a person from the big line will walk over to the idiot, tap him on the shoulder, and say “Line’s back there, buddy.” And the idiot looks sheepish and goes to the back of the line.

At any rate, everyone in the big line is extremely pissed off.

This also happens regularly at the Au Bon Pain I frequent, which has a similar register set up.

I hate these idiot line cutters. I understand being distracted and maybe accidentally cutting in front of someone. I’ve done it before – usually when there is one person standing ten feet away from the nearest register and I didn’t realize they were in line. But even given distraction or not paying attention, the two or three minute wait generally allows for some looking around, and these idiots will look right at the big line and then look away.

What goes through their mind in that moment? “God, lucky I got in this short line?” “Wonder why all those people are standing over there?”

At any rate, one of my biggest pet peeves.

Edited because there is no apostrophe in Walgreens.  Doesn't it seem like there should be?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mike & Molly: Hollywood's Version of Fat People

So, there’s an article on the Huffington Post about this new sitcom called Mike & Molly. The headline of this article is “Mike & Molly: The Sitcom About People Who Happen to Be Fat.”

The article asks the question: “And yet, with two overweight principals heading up a series produced in thin-obsessed Hollywood, can they avoid the discussion of weight?”

Um…apparently not, since you’re writing an article about it.

Did Roseanne get this much attention? What about King of Queens? Fat people in television shows is no new thing. But this is described as a show “about people who happen to be fat.” The way this is phrased you almost can hear the producer whispering it, like “it’s about people who happen to be pedophiles.”

So, I wondered – is the fatness of the characters a non-issue? I put my investigative journalism skills to the test and wandered over to the CBS web site to find the show synopsis. Let’s break it down:
MIKE & MOLLY is a comedy about a working class Chicago couple who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
Of course they do. They couldn’t have met somewhere normal, like a bar, restaurant, grocery store, the zoo, a museum, etc. They had to meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting because they're fat. Get it?  This is already too ridiculous for words. How many fat people do you know who go to Overeaters Anonymous meetings anyway?
Officer Mike Biggs is a good-hearted cop who sincerely wants to lose weight.
Of course he does. Because don’t all fat people want to lose weight?  Oh, but he's sincere about it.

Mike's partner, Officer Carl McMillan, is a thin, fast-talking wise-guy who, despite his teasing, encourages Mike on his road to slimness and romance.
The sidekick. Barf. I can already hear the fat jokes in my head from this “teasing” fellow.

While speaking at an O.A. meeting, Mike meets Molly Flynn, an instantly likeable fourth-grade teacher with a good sense of humor about her curves.
Can you believe it? A fat person can be “instantly likeable”? And she’s comfortable with her body. This is obviously something noteworthy in Hollywoodland, although in real life you meet people like this all the time.

For Molly, focusing on smart choices isn't easy while living with her sexy older sister, Victoria, and their mother, Joyce, both of whom flaunt their effortless figures while indulging their healthy appetites right in front of her.
For a show about people who “just happen to be fat,” I’m hearing a lot about food issues in this synopsis. Also, how many people do you know who are fat whose entire family are all thin and can eat all they want without gaining a pound? Not many. This kind of things tends to run through genetics. She couldn’t just have a supportive family either, right? They have to flaunt their figures in front of her. Ugh.

Mike also faces temptation at the diner he and Carl frequent, where they've become friends with a Senegalese waiter, Samuel, to whom dieting is a foreign concept.
Jesus, more food issues? All this temptation. Here’s an idea – if you want to lose weight, don’t frequent a diner!

Mike and Molly found each other in the most unexpected of places. Now, they're about to find out where their quest for companionship will take them.
Yes, shocking that you might meet another fat person at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.  I suspect their quest will take them to a lot of fat jokes from the sidekick, the waiter, and the family.

Hollywood is such a weird place.  I mean, why not just cast two fat people in a normal sitcom and not mention the weight issue at all?  Why does it have to be an issue?  Why does dieting and "smart food choices" have to be at the forefront of it?  Oh, right, because in Hollywood no one eats, so fat people are looked upon as mutant beings.  Can't you just hear the producer saying "I know, let's do a show about fat people.  Do you know any?  No?  Well I'm sure they all want to be thin like us, so let's just go from there."