Thursday, January 15, 2009


There's a mouse in the living room. I was just sitting there, reading my paper, minding my own business when he scampered past my side table. My reaction to this was to jump out of my chair and state in a loud voice to Miss Lilly: "Mouse!". She decided she was finished napping and sauntered out of the room.

I did, however get Jay's attention. He came in the room and we cornered mouse behind the organ. With us on both ends of the thing Jay looked at me, sizing up my level of fear and said "Can you kill it?" and handed me a folded up newspaper. I shot him a look and came over and got a ream of paper from the computer desk. Took up my position and Jay yanked the organ away from the wall. Sending candles, glass ornaments and Great Grandpa Weinhart crashing to the floor.

One more yank on the organ and mouse ran out between my feet. I threw the ream of paper and was in the kitchen in two steps. Mouse is in a cluttered corner by the book cases where he can just stay for all I care.

It's just a mouse right ?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Dicker' is not a dirty word

Mmmmm - Phad Thai drowning in peanuts sauce for lunch today. Lo cal? No. Yummy? Yes.

Sorry had to share.

So, if you've been reading along here you may have read that I've been looking for new living room furniture for oh, forever it seems. My main problem is that the furniture they make today doesn't really fit very well in a 1918 house. The furniture has to fit the room but also the people. I have to be able to stretch out on the couch.

Anyway, there are plenty of good deals out there. It seems everyone is in a panic to move merchandise. Let me tell you there are plenty of very hungry sales people in those show rooms too.

My problem is I don't know how to bargain with sales people. I never have. I don't normally do the big purchases. Jay's always the one who gets to go meet with the car salesmen when it's time to buy a car. What I need to know is, do people negotiate for furniture purchases? It's clear the sales people are on commission, so do they have leeway to deal? I don't know if it was just my family or the area I grew up in. We don't seem to haggle much here, or at least I haven't seen it.

I'm a simple guy. I understand companies are in business to make money. I just expect people to take the cost of providing the item, mark it up with a reasonable percentage and that's that. But I'm pretty sure I'm being naive. It just feels like to ask a person to drop their price is assuming they're trying to overcharge you to begin with and it seems insulting. (I know, I know...I shouldn't care)

I know that some companies do price that way. We do. But then again we're a co-operative. We do work for anyone just like any other company, but if you join the co-op your a member and it says right on your contract what our mark up rates are. Your also entitled to see the invoice from our supplier. I realise that most business run differently.

So how do you know when you can dicker or not. Is it just a matter of having the nerve to ask? No harm, no foul? Is it that easy? Or to really do it successfully do you have to have some kind of justification on why you think you should pay less? I just don't get it. I know many companies are hurting and that's the reason for the deep discounts. I just don't want to be a chump and leave money sitting on the table when it can stay in my pocket. How do you do this?

Anyone wanna go shopping with me?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Support Your Local Newspaper

I've been a newspaper reader since I was a kid. I've been lucky to live in a city with two local daily papers. I grew up in a liberal household and 'our' paper was always The Seattle Times. The other paper in town, which once was considered the conservative paper is The Seattle-Post Intellegencer.

This worked great for me when I was a young adult. The Times was the "afternoon" paper while the PI published in the morning. I would read the PI on the bus on my way to work in the morning and the Times would be waiting for me when I got home in the evening.

It was the best of both worlds. While I new each paper had it's political bent, I knew what it was and could base my opinions on the stories with that in mind. Strangely over the years the line between the two papers blurred. The Times became more conservative while the PI became more liberal. I don't know why this happened as the owners of the papers never changed. The times was started and is still owned by the Blethen family. Col. Alden Blethen bought The Times in 1896 and managed it to be a rival to the PI. It's still run by his heirs. The PI first published in 1863 as the Seattle Gazette is the oldest paper in town. It had a variety of owners in the past and was purchased by W.R. Hearst in 1921. It's been a Hearst paper ever since.

It may sound a bit much to read two daily papers but with those two paper available it was a great way to get a story from two differing perspectives. There was also a good percentage of stories that would be carried by one paper but not the other, for whatever reason.

For me, newspapers were where you went if you really wanted to understand a story. To get more then the details of what happened, but also the causes that might have made it happen. You could always get a more in depth story than what you saw in two minutes on the nightly TV news. Newspaper also once had a tradition of doing investigative journalism (remember that phrase?) where they would be the ones to break the story and bring it to the public.

Well, it seems that those day are almost gone. It started over a decade ago. At least that's when I started noticing it. The stories in the paper became more info-tainment. The same non-news stories as you saw on TV or heard on the radio. The people who decide what you hear on the TV news also became the same people who decided what you would read in the paper. Investigating reporting became a thing of the past. We gave them good cover for this lapse. The publishers could just point to their falling subscription numbers and tell us there wasn't enough money to keep all those reporters around. It's happened in our local paper all the way up to the Old Grey Lady herself, The New York Times. Hell, the Wall Street Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch. They slashed and burned their newsrooms and squawked the whole time about how they couldn't make money and compete with the web.

Well, I think they have it coming. The only way they could make themselves into something relevant was to give us something we couldn't get else where. The missed a big opportunity. They used to educate us, to make us think. They would lay out the facts and also give some background story and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. What they print now is just the same nonsense as you can get from any other media outlet. How about a news story that tells us how the goverment came up with $700 billion for a banking bailout, but when we ask for education and health care there's just no money? That would be a story I would read.

The art of distraction. "Don't look over here at this dirty little war...which is sponsored by our parent company GE (for example) but look over here!!! Britney's a train wreck and Lohan's dating chicks!

Last week Hearst announced that the Seattle Post Intelligencer was being put up for sale. Putting it up for sale is almost a euphemism, really it's just a nice way to say: "We give up". If Hearst can't make money on it it's doubtful anyone else could.

The papers themselves keep getting smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner. My nightly Seattle Times is now down to three sections. The business section is now one page. The reporting in the 'A' section is all wire service. It takes me 10 minutes to read. Part of my daily ritual, reading the paper after work to unwind is going by the wayside.

I wish I were more eloquent. I wish I could say this better. But I think with out this type of reporting and coverage we as a nation just become a mass of blind sheep just accepting what drivel the 'powers that be' decide we can know. Most people don't have the time or resources to dig for the news. To do the research and look beyond what the main stream media bleets at us as news.

I love the newspaper. I like to be able to walk around with my newspaper. I want to be able to take it anywhere I go. Stuff it into my satchel for later or to show someone a story I read, take it to the bathroom with me, make a silly hat. I like the tactile feel of it. If the newspaper goes the way of white wall tires and transitor radios, what are you going to wash your windows with? What will you put on the kitchen table when the kids want to paint? What will you wrap your fish in! - I was a bit teed off when the local recycling pick-up company decided we could no longer toss our loose paper in a plastic bag to be picked up. I had to resort to buying paper leaf bags for our paper recycling. Ironic huh, buying paper to recycle paper? I'm going to be really pissed off if I have to start buying blank newsprint.

Holly Cats! Your still here? Well aren't you the brave little reader!

I did have one other thing. It's time to annouce the three lucky bloggers who were selected for my next part of the "Pay it Forward" game. Over the weekend I tried to get Bear to pick the lucky recipeints. Unfortnatly, unlike Real Live Lesbian's wonderful dog Trace seen HERE picking my name, amongst others, Bear just doesnt have that talent. I tried to take videos but all I got was his butt leaving the room. I ended up picking them myself. So, in the next few days I'm going to be putting together packages of things to brighten the day for:

Ace at Helpdesk Ace

Leann at From My World to Yours

And last but by no means least...

Tina at Big Cute Beach Girl

I'll need to get your snail mail addresses so I can send the packages. I'm going to have a blast deciding what to send you!

Carry on.