Archive for September, 2009

22nd September
written by Jeff

Kanye TwitterI Twitter a lot. This makes me either hilariously observant in less than 140 characters or an internet addict who won’t shut the hell up. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both. Truth is, Twitter is really no different from any other conversation you have in real life. It’s just broken up into convenient sound bites you can carry with you on your iPhone which, frankly, makes it more interesting than regular conversation.

Think about it. Some study said a few months ago that a huge percentage of Tweets are nonsense. Well, have you heard the average conversation out there lately? Try to make small talk with the lady behind you in the grocery store if you don’t believe me. I heard two people once discussing how hurricanes might be God’s way of killing people who drive our insurance rates up by living on the beach…and they were serious.

There was an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry said that something like 95 percent of the world was “UN-DATEABLE!” I think this is how it is with conversation. Most of it is just a waste of time – a way to get through the discomfort of telling someone you may or may not have impregnated their poodle with a turkey baster just to see if you could by yammering about something inane to distract them before saying, “Remember when I had that turkey baster and your poodle in the same room that one time and you wanted to know what I was doing?”

Think of all the “um’s” and “uh’s” and other such brilliant utterances we filter through our pie holes on a daily basis. Now, compare how much of that you see on Twitter. You might see some, but it’s completely for effect. For example, if someone posts, “Am I the only one on Twitter who likes to sacrifice babies to Satan?!? C’mon people!” You might respond with, “Um…er…wow” or, if you’re THAT way, “Uh, I kinda do…DM me!”

On Twitter, we get to the point, if by point you mean a continual barrage of jokes about Ryan Seacrest, deep discussion of who would make the hottest Baron Von Trapp in a modern day remake of Sound of Music and endless pictures of food, funny license plates, drunk people and that sort of awesomeness. And if the point of life isn’t me and Joey Guerra from the Chronicle making snarky comments during awards shows, I seriously don’t know what is (nerd shout out…HOLLA!). Look at a normal conversation I had recently:

Me: So, what’s up?
Friend: Nothing. You?
Me: Not much. Just hanging out.
Friend: Cool.
Me: What have you been up to?
Friend: Nothing really. Work, the usual. What about you?
Me: Um, you know, sacrificing babies to Satan. Same ol’.
Friend: Yeah, I hear ya.

See how boring?

Now, check this back and forth on Twitter:

Twitter Friend: Nvr rlzd Georgia O’Keefe statue lked like a vag.
Me: Yeah, it totally does, but everybody knows that. And you don’t have to do text speak on Twitter.
Twitter Friend: It kinda freaks me out.
Me: I can’t stop staring at it, but I do love a nice vagina.
Twitter Friend: That is awful! What kind of a weirdo are you? God, I wish you were never born.
Me: Mom, that’s TOTALLY not a cool thing to say even on Twitter!

See how much more interesting life is in 140 characters? So, suck it, Twitter haters. You don’t know what you are missing! If you need me, I’ll be talking about vaginas and ninjas on Twitter because I am awesome like that.

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4th September
written by Jeff

Posh KrogerI’ve been seeing a lot of you ask on Twitter, “Where the hell is Zombie Kroger and why is it called that?” By “a lot,” I mean like three people I sorta know but have never met.

So, I figured I should put together this little rundown of the four Krogers that have been given monikers and why they are so named.

Disco Kroger
Montrose at Hawthorne (near Westheimer)

The original. I don’t know when people started calling it Disco Kroger. I first started going there when I worked across the street. I also had my truck towed from there when I stupidly parked in its parking lot during a show at Tower Theater (you know it now as Hollywood Video – sigh). But, if you’ve ever been in there later at night, particularly on the weekends, you understand just how it got its name.

Ghetto Kroger
Shepherd at 11th

As far as I know, I’m the one that handed this Signature store with the name dating back to this post about how crappy that store can be. I first started going to Ghetto Kroger when it was decidedly less ghetto many MANY years ago. It was also significantly smaller. I’m told this will be the largest Kroger store in the US when re-modeling is complete. To understand its ghetto nature, all you have to do is go in there, see the construction and note ZERO signs saying “Please excuse our mess” or anything like that. I guess in a few months, we’ll have more ghetto to love.

Zombie Kroger
Shepherd at 20th

As outlined here, Zombie Kroger is so named because it is marked both by really sweet, exceedingly slow elderly people and a dearth of checkers most of the time. Plus, it seems to be in some sort of vortex that swallows normal time and has soda that looks like Windex.

Posh Kroger
West Gray at Dunlavy

Only recently this River Oaks store (pictured) got its name for both its clientele and the fact that you feel as if you are walking on diamond-encrusted floors and breathing caviar-infused air as you mill about in this hoity toity market. I see a blog post in my future.

So far, those are the Krogers with nicknames. I’m sure others could be determined if necessary. Hell, add your own if you like!

Photo via Wikipedia

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3rd September
written by Jeff

I don’t go to a ton of concerts that require me using Ticketmaster or Live Nation to acquire tickets. But, on occasion, like going to see Wilco in Dallas on October 8, I have to venture into the great, evil abyss.

Today, I purchased my tickets for Wilco at $30 each (a very reasonable amount) and paid $84. Did I get a discount on three tickets? Uh, no. I paid $24 in fees you can see below:

Ticketmaster Charges

Tax I get. Order processing fee – printing and mailing the tickets – I also get. I could see paying an additional $5 or even $10 for this service even though it actually costs MORE for me to print my tickets myself and LESS to have them shipped to me in 7 business days (WTF?). But, $8.60 PER TICKET for “convenience charges???” What the hell is convenient about that?

I know Live Nation is doing fee-free Wednesdays. Great. But, these are probably going to sell out fairly quickly, so I don’t have much choice.

It sucks for the band too because they don’t get a nickel of this and they probably even have to give Ticketmaster a cut of ticket sales. What a scam.

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3rd September
written by Jeff

Pee on FacebookLately, I’ve read (yeah, I read!) a number of stories about how people hate Twitter or hate Facebook and how, clearly, this means they suck and people are abandoning them in droves. There was a story (you can look up the link if you want, but I’m lazy) written by a teenager about how no one his age uses Twitter.

If this were posted on someone’s blog, I would casually dismiss it as the rantings of some person who poo poo’s such things – and by poo poo’s I mean actually defecates on his computer.

But, these are respected media outlets we’re talking about. The latest is from the New York Times Magazine and it is hilarious not because of what it says but because of how it contradicts itself and still pontificates as if the very statistics it quoted mean nothing.

The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing — some of them ostentatiously.

I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK? Oh, sure, millions upon millions of people visit the site every day and millions more join every month. Yeah, I GUESS you could say that all those millions who post stuff on there constantly exemplify Facebook’s success, but I KNOW PEOPLE!!!

Seriously, NYT, are you kidding? I’m not in love with any form of social media (though Twitter and I lust for one another routinely and, oh, is she good…ahem), but the “I know people that hate it, so it must suck and be failing” is the dumbest argument on the planet. It’s the difference between statistical evidence and anecdotal and even a nimrod (that’s right, NIMROD!) can generally figure out the difference.

I have discussed sports online for many years because I’m a nerd for it and I often run across people who know very little about a given sport, so they talk about things they don’t understand but do it as if they do. “The problem is that they don’t run the pick and roll enough. I watched the game and I only saw it run once!!!” Look, Naismith, if you actually KNEW the game of basketball, you’d realize they probably ran a dozen or more different versions of the pick and roll in the FIRST HALF.

It’s that “my neighborhood is going to hell, so the whole world must be too.” This sense of over-exaggeration that seems to have proliferated with the birth of the internet that is so damn irritating. Everyone thinks they know more than everyone else just because they can point a mouse to a website and read a couple paragraphs of information.

I’ve got to imagine doctors must be PISSED about diagnosis sites. How many people you think fill up waiting rooms thinking they are dying when they really just have paranoid delusions? My bet is a lot.

We’re living in the era of the amateur and, as a result, people are skeptical of experts. They see conspiracy in complication and overload themselves with information that they probably can’t understand because they don’t have the experience or knowledge to fully grasp the concepts, but they think that because they can read some idiots lunatic scribblings on the internet, they have cornered the market on knowledge and common sense.

Leif Harmsen, once a Facebook user, now crusades against it. Having dismissed his mother’s snap judgment of the site (“Facebook is the devil”), Harmsen now passionately agrees. He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea, and sells T-shirts with the words “Shut Your Facebook.”

Yeah, clearly LEIF is a source of reliable information when it comes to Facebook.

Nice job, NYT. Thanks for perpetuating the stupidity you once tried so valiantly to avoid. But, I guess if it’s on the web, it MUST be true, right?

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1st September
written by Jeff

Big BlueLeave it to me to sell my house, three blocks from Ghetto Kroger, and move into a place three blocks from Zombie Kroger.

Why do I call it Zombie Kroger, you ask (I know you asked, so don’t pull that “I didn’t ask” bullshit. We both know that you did!)? I call it that because the clientele appears to mostly be older than the average corpse and moves even slower.

I don’t like to shop there, but I stop by since it is close on occasion. Here are the five reasons I should NOT routinely stop by Zombie Kroger – and why you should avoid it altogether.

What the hell kind of food is that and why is it there?

See that bottle of weird blue liquid? When I reached in to grab a couple bottles of Deja Blue water, apparently, I got one bottle of that blue shit too. First, what the hell is that? Is it like the blood of an Oompa Loompa? Did someone bottle unicorn pee?

Second, why in the name of sweet blue unicorn pee do you put that on the same shelf in the refrigerated case with water that has a blue bottle? If I wanted the nectar of some made up fruit from Narnia, I’d call Aslan and tell him to ship me a crate.

And, while I’m at it, why would you put all the cat food EXCEPT THE IAMS at one end of the aisle with the two sections of cat food separated by hundreds of bags of dog food? What genius thought that good food for cats should sit on two shelves 15 feet from the Kibbles and Shit?

Check it out…or not.

During the day, you would be lucky to find more than two lanes open at any given time. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, but when you have a store full of octogenarians who often buy food together and pay by check, you end up with issues. I was in line last week behind two women who had one cart of stuff divided into five separate batches of food that all had to be checked out separately and paid for with different payment types. Fortunately for them, every batch was fewer than 15 items so, naturally, they were in the express lane.

While I’m on the topic of express lanes and strange customers, when I was there tonight, a manager opened an extra express lane, but blocked it off with a sign and shut off the numbered lamp as the store got less busy so he could go back to whatever it is managers do. No one seemed to care. Several people – one woman pushing 90 wearing a full girl scout uniform (scout’s fucking honor!) – just walked around the sign and got in line.

Finally, since there are at least a few normals that shop here, how about a self checkout stand. I realize this could be an unmitigated disaster since many of the folks in the store probably don’t even know how to use a remote control for a television, but maybe try an experiment for those of us who do.

How about you widen the aisles or something?

I feel for the older folks who come in there on a regular basis and the many disabled as well. The aisles are so narrow, they barely fit one person at a time let alone a person, his zip scooter, an oxygen tank and the oversized nurse helping him shop.

It also doesn’t help that the store is often populated with some really odd characters who seem to stand and stare for what seems like hours at toothpaste or milk or tampons. One guy tonight was in an aisle when I walked into the store and still in the same spot when I left. I assume he was comparing the price of canned peaches to determine if Dole had enough nutritional value to justify losing the ten cents off coupon he had for Libby’s, but what the hell do I know?

Departments are more like compartments.

Speaking of small, what made them think that a customer service desk the size of a toll booth was big enough for the dozens who want to cash their social security checks twice a month? And I really hope you don’t want a birthday cake (you don’t!) from the bakery since the counter space is smaller than the jewelry display case my ex-wife and I used to haul to shows all over Texas (yeah, I sold jewelry…you wanna make something of it?).

I’m just saying that if your meat department offers only two cuts of beef and one of them is “ground,” that isn’t exactly what I’d call a wide selection. Just something to consider.

Which way do I park?

Finally, what kind of crazy bastard designed this parking lot? Angled parking is fine. It’s not the smartest way to go for traffic, but with all the giant ass cars people drive around, it’s probably a necessity.

However, don’t have the parking angled BOTH WAYS IN THE SAME LANE!!! I don’t have to do a million dollar traffic flow study to tell you that a lane that is really only big enough for one-and-a-half cars and has angled parking going in both directions is going to be a freaking disaster.

Now, add that parking to a lot where a LOT of very old and disabled people park. It’s like putting all compact car spaces at Whole Foods for all the Hummers – oh, right, they do that too.

Ingress and egress needs to be ultra easy when you have a bunch of people with cataracts driving giant Oldsmobuicks. It’s science.

I’m not a grocery store expert even though my four years of work at Kroger in high school does qualify me for upper management at Food City, but I can tell you that Zombie Kroger is terrifying, even more so than Ghetto Kroger and that is saying something.

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