Congrats, Matt Haughey!

2009/07/15 at 12:42

Metafilter turned 10 years old yesterday. Congrats to Matt Haughey and the other people who are or have been involved in it.
I’ve been a member of MeFi since 2001 and have at least scanned one of the sites almost daily since then. I’m user #3664, so that makes me one of the older of Matt’s 94552 friends.
Just today, I happened on a thread from 2006 about the Garfield comic strip that contains this comment which, to me, epitomizes MeFi:

I know [it] is popular to mock Garfield, but you are all looking at the strip in entirely the wrong context. The strip is not supposed to be edgy or controversial. It’s not for you. Garfield is a good comic for the same reason that Peanuts is. They are safe harbor.
There are millions of kids out there whose parent or parents are drunk, strung out, violent, unpredictable, and abusive. It is almost the norm, not the exception.
Picture yourself as a a 9 yr old kid in some horrible dysfunctional household.
Your mom or dad just burst in drunk and screaming. They throw things, break things, they are crazy with rage. They are comgin for you, their eyes wide, their face twisted. Maybe they spend the next hour beating your brother or sister, or each other. Or you.
Eventually they fall asleep exhausted from their effort, and the apartment grows quiet. Your siblings breathing stutters as their sobs susbide. You don’t talk to each other. You wish it would stay this way, but you know it won’t.
This is just the space between nightmares, between the things that define your life.
Your face and hair are still damp from tears and sweat. You can’t turn on the tv or radio, because it might up wake them up. A book is too much of a commitment, and you don’t know how long this will last. You look for something to keep you from thinking, because thinking begets fear, and fear begets crying. The world leaves you alone for now.
There is a newspaper.
Now read the strip again.

Buy this, get that free!

2009/07/14 at 21:41

Katie came home from the grocery store the other day with a package of candy bars, which is unusual. When I asked her about it, she said that she got chocolate bars free with the purchase of Lean Cuisines. I didn’t really believe her, so I found the ad online. Sure enough: “Buy four Lean Cuisine entrees, get . . . Nestle candy free.”

Just because you can…

2009/07/07 at 11:43

…does not mean that you should. Case in point: Fancy Fast Food.

“Squeeze him and he farts!”

2009/07/06 at 09:16

Walter the Farting Dog plush toy. (Good book, strange product tie-in).
(And you thought I was talking about myself!)

Good service and bad

2009/04/20 at 14:13

A few weeks ago, we bought a new Maytag washing machine from our local Home Depot. It was delivered and installed a few days later, on a Tuesday. We did a few loads of wash without incident. On Thursday evening, it stopped in the middle of a wash cycle and we smelled a burning rubber odor. It had died.
The next day, I stopped by the Home Depot and talked to the guys in the appliance department. They said that they had to talk to Maytag in order to see how to proceed. They called me back later in the afternoon to inform me that Maytag would send a repairman out the following Tuesday to assess the situation.
My wife and I found that really unacceptable for two reasons: 1.) we’d be without a working washing machine for at least a few more days, and 2.) Home Depot was passing the buck to Maytag for a product we bought from them.
I talked with the Home Depot guy again and he said that they would like to help us out by just swapping out our dead washer with another from their stock. The manager would could make this happen would be in on Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday afternoon, the manager called and made arrangements to do the swap. I was not home, but my wife said that the guys who brought over the new washer were clearly not trained appliance installers; they had multiple difficulties in getting the one washer out and the new one installed. In the process, they managed to put one large gouge and several cuts in the linoleum floor in the laundry room and to scratch our hardwood floors.
We were happy that Home Depot had tried to circumvent Maytag’s bureaucracy and to provide good customer service, but we were not too pleased with the floor damage.
The Home Depot store filed a claim with their insurance company for the damage. The adjustor came out a couple of days later, and we received a check a few days after that. The amount that they awarded us will pay for the damage and then some.

More billengual teachers needed

2009/03/29 at 12:27

This is a photo of my television during this morning’s local KXAN news broadcast (click for bigger version):
More Billengual Teachers Needed

Powerless parents

2009/02/17 at 09:38

According to this NYT article, the group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood recently discovered what every parent of a public-school child has known for years: a lot of the stuff that Scholastic is selling in the flyers that they send home with kids is not books. Based on this shocking finding, CCFC has started a ‘Put the Book Back in Book Club‘ campaign.
What gets me is this (from the NYT article):

Susan Linn, director of the campaign, said she had received complaints from parents who were concerned that their children were being sold toys, games, makeup and other items under the guise of a literary book club that is promoted in classrooms.

For parents like this, I have one piece of advice: if you don’t want your kids buying junk, don’t let them. Do you really need to complain to an anti-consumer watchdog group about it?
When Samuel brings the Scholastic flyers home, he inevitably asks to buy a toy, not a book. No duh, he’s a kid. I know this might come as a shock to some, but I actually tell him what he can buy: sometimes I let him get a toy; sometimes I tell him he can choose a book, but most of the time, I just tell him ‘no.’
Side note: I always just assumed that schools send these flyers home because the school benefits financially in some way from the sales it generates. If that’s true, it’s no obvious on the Scholastic web site (not surprising). Is my assumption correct? If so, can any teachers or school administrators explain the arrangement?

Search engine fail

2009/02/10 at 10:48

I’ve been a Flickr user for several years. Some time back, Flickr started offering detailed stats on your photo stream. My most viewed photo–which has almost double the views as my second-most viewed photo–is Neck tumor dog.
I thought that was curious, so I drilled down into the stats. is, by far, the top referrer for this photo. No surprise there. What did surprise me is the search terms that led people to my photo. Below is a screen shot of the search terms. Click on the image for a larger version.
I think it’s safe to conclude that not a single person who viewed my photo via Google image search found what he or she was looking for.

From the ‘no duh’ department

2009/01/29 at 17:04

News headline: Job searches fastest-growing Internet category

What I’ve learned on my sick day

2009/01/22 at 14:20

I’m home today nursing a bad cold. Here’s what I’ve learned: our dogs’ dinner time is about 5:00 p.m. Tippie starts pacing nervously at around 2:00 p.m.
I knew already that Tippie gets nervous before dinner time, but on other days when I’m home, there’s enough going on that I didn’t notice that it starts this early. Today, it’s pretty much just me on the couch with the dogs.
Considering Tippie’s advanced age and decrepitude, I guess I should be glad to see that she still has enough life in her to pace all afternoon.