Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Post mortem

Valentine's Day happened two days ago.  In light of the big day, I'm going to offer the men in the audience some advice on how to make an impact on their wife or girlfriend.  So here goes nothing...

1.)  Give up the porn:  Dudes, stay away from that crap and everything that is like unto it.  If your wife or girlfriend is into that stuff, get her away from it too.  Women don't like their men participating in that.  It makes them insecure and it messes with your brain.  I know too many people who have been trapped in that lie and they have destroyed themselves and their relationships and marriages.  So if you're into it, get un-into it.  NOW!  If you need help, please see:

2.)  Do something thoughtful/show your wife that you love her.  What's thoughtful?  How do you show your wife you love her?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Heart attack her.  What does that mean?  Well, don't scare the poor woman!  Get a bunch of red construction paper.  Cut out a bunch of hearts.  Lots of hearts.  Write something on them.  Then disperse them in various places.  For example, I taped one red heart to the inside cup of my wife's bra.  I put "Not bigger, just better."  Put them on her cell phone, on her key ring, inside her check book, in her car, on her pillow, in her favorite book that she likes to read, on her shoes that she wears, on the smoke detector, inside her diary/journal, and so forth.  Why do women like this?  Because it shows that you put some thought into what you are doing.  It isn't necessarily what you do, but the amount of thought that you put into doing it.
  • Do some household chores.  Make the bed.  Wash some clothes.  Fold the clothes.  Clean up the dishes.  Make dinner and then clean up afterward.  Change a messy diaper.  Do something that you normally don't do that your wife/girlfriend typically does.  Women like it when you help them out around the home.
  • Flowers.  They don't have to be expensive, just get her some flowers.  If your woman isn't into flowers, then see above.
  • Give her a card or write her a note.  Tell her how much she means to you.  Tell her you would marry her all over again if you had to do it all over again.  Tell her she is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread.
  • Be a gentleman.  I should not have to say this, but treat your wife/girlfriend with respect.  Open the door for her.  Help her with her coat.  Pull her seat out for her at dinner.  This is stuff you should be doing all the time and not just on Valentine's day.
  • Plan something together.  Because my wife is so busy, I really can't surprise her very well.  About the only surprise I have in my arsenal is to do something which appears spontaneous, but has been  planned in advance.  Things I would like to do to surprise my wife would be to take her away for a weekend on what appears to be short/no notice, but in reality has been planned for some time.  It can't work because I have to tell my wife not to commit to things for a particular time period.  I just can't intercept everything that she does because I'm not always in the loop.  So because of our schedules, I end up telling her what I'm planning to do and involve her in the planning process.  It isn't as spontaneous as it otherwise would be, but it works.
  • Ask and listen.  Ask your wife what she likes and then listen to what she is saying.  If she likes to camp and you don't, then surprise her and go camping.  Be a part of her hobbies.
3.)  Give your significant other a back rub.  If you have a girlfriend, rub her feet and ONLY her feet.  Stop there.  If you're married, start with her feet and end at her neck.

4.)  Listen.  Most women love to talk.  They will talk for hours.  You may be tempted to tune out.  Don't.  Absolutely don't tune your woman out.  Listen to hear.  Interact with her.  Find out what makes her tick and use that wealth of information so that you can surprise and please her.  Go shopping with her.  That way you get to know her tastes.  So when it comes time to making a purchase (hopefully) you've figured her out well enough to make a fairly educated purchase.  You may not always hit a home run, but you'll do better than if you don't listen and you aren't a part of her life.

I could probably go on, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.  I'm going to offer some advice to the women in the audience.

1.)  Whatever he does, be appreciative of it.  If you want to make a guy mad, don't say "Thank you".  Ingratitude (or if I thought I was there solely for the entertainment of my date and nothing else) would sink the relationship faster than the iceberg that sank the Titanic.  So be gracious.  Remember in these tough economic times your honey may want to do more for you, but can't.  So please, please don't be critical.  Additionally, a guy's ego can be invested in what he's given you.  If you dis on his gift, you've just dissed on his ego.  The chances of you getting something good in the future is about a snowball's chance of survival in a very warm place.

2.)  Tell your guy want you like/want.  Guys can't read minds.  The only person that I know of that could do that walked the earth 2,000 years ago.  The rest of us poor schmucks have never had the ability to do that, nor will we ever be able to read your mind.  Many of us are poor communicators.  So we appreciate it when the woman we love and adore is open and honest with us and will talk to us and tell us what you want.  Guys will work like crazy to please a woman, so be careful with what you ask for.  Be sensitive to the man's financial means and the amount of time available.  Example:  My wife wants a bigger house.  She let me know about it.  I told her "No" because of finances.  She continued to push and I continued to hold my ground.  She has accepted the answer and has moved on, although she does read the online ads for houses.  She just doesn't bring it up any more and has accepted our situation.  I would love to buy her a bigger house, but I know what I can and cannot financially afford so I hold my ground.

3.)  Ask your honey what he likes and dislikes.  You can't read guy's minds any better than they can read yours.  You just think you can read his mind.  Ask him what he likes and doesn't like.  WARNING!!  Some guys don't have a filter and will give you what they like and don't like, which may be devastating to you.  If you cannot handle the truth, then don't ask.  But if you ask, be prepared for the answer, regardless of what it is.  And don't be mad at the guy for speaking his mind.  You did ask for his likes and dislikes, did you not?  So be prepared for the tsunami of revelation that may come from it.  If you can handle this, you will receive a wealth of information that will help you understand your man.

One other thing to remember is that some guys simply won't tell you stuff.  Why?  Because they are afraid.  They are afraid of your response to the truth.  If you or someone else have asked for his opinion in the past and he's been hammered for giving his opinion, chances are you won't get much of a response from him.  If he has told you personal stuff and you've used it against him in an argument, he won't be respond with much info.  He might test the waters and float a few things and see how you respond.  If you blow a gasket, he will shutdown, put up armor defenses and hunker down reading himself for the shelling he is about to receive.  But if he thinks you are handling the truth well, then he may open up even more.  So listen.  Ask questions.  Understand.  Because if your man opens up to you, you will see his soul.  If you crap on his soul, he will no longer open up unless he feels he can trust you again.  If you repeatedly burn him, he may never open up to you ever again, regardless of any assurances you may give him to the contrary.  Dudes just don't like getting hurt.  They would rather wander in the desert for a week without food and water and risk death than get their emotions stomped on.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all...

    Gloom, despair, and agony on me. 
    Deep dark depression obsessive misery. 
    If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.
    Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
    (Song from the TV show Hee Haw)

    Do you ever have days or weeks where you feel like that?  I do, but I think that is called life...

    During Christmas break while I was cleaning a clogged drain downstairs, I noticed that the $9.99 "plumber friendly" (that's code for cheap piece of crap) sink was leaking.  The sink is actually in two pieces bonded together by what looks like silicon caulk kind of stuff.  So instead of making it one piece, it was two pieces.  It started leaking where it was bonded together.  Great.  So I clean the drain and put it all back together.

    So the wife and I are off to the local Home Depot.  We get a sink and a new faucet because I really do dislike the "plumber friendly" faucet that is in the downstairs bathroom.  I rip it out, and reinstall.  I have a small problem.  The faucet has one water line longer than the other and when I went to get a hose, I couldn't find anything that was short enough to accommodate it.  I ended up getting one of those plastic hoses that you cut to the length you want (yet another "plumber friendly" solution) with a compression fitting and putting it all put back together again.

    Everything was good until a couple of weeks ago.  One morning I hear this noise in my house.  It sounded like my furnace was on, but it was running for a lot longer than just the furnace.  It was before 6:00 AM and I really was not interested in getting out of my warm bed to find out what was going on.  Then my oldest daughter comes running in our bedroom to inform us that the basement is flooding.  "Oh $&!#."  We went flying down there to indeed find water in the basement.  Well, come to find out my compression fitting on my hose came loose and yes, I did have a (partially) flooded basement.  That story is just longer than I care to tell at the moment.  We filed an insurance claim and we're still in the process of getting our basement completely restored.

    Fast forward to today.  I'm upstairs working on my income taxes for 2010 and my wife comes upstairs to inform me that our washing machine just puked on us.  It is out of warranty for like a year.  (We bought this really nice Kenmore HE3t washing machine about six years ago and I paid some extra money to get a four year extended warranty.  That extended warranty expired a year ago.  About once a year we needed to have something in the multiple hundred dollar range fixed on it, so we knew that it was going to cost us a pretty penny to fix it.  And we just weren't interested in spending that much money on repairing it.)  When you're married and you have half a dozen kids living at home (my wife calculated that she does approximately 20 loads of laundry a week), you really can't go very long without a washing machine, especially when only one of your kids has two pairs of pants to wear to school.  Before shopping I troll the internet looking for trying to get the best washing machine for the money.  I was discouraged because there is a lot of garbage out there.

    So after dinner we head out the door.  Because of my web trolling I knew that Best Buy was having a killer sale on washing machines.  We talked about going to Best Buy, but instead we decided to head to the Home Depot to see what they had.  Home Depot was closer than Best Buy.  And I wasn't sure we were going to find anything there anyway.  So we stopped.  We shopped.  And we talked.  We discovered that LG has some pretty good stuff and they had a higher end model that would probably take care of us.  It was on sale (10% off sale for energy star appliances).  So the sales associate goes to Best Buy's site and finds the same washer there but for over $100+ off, even with the 10% discount.  So they price match.  Well, when Home Depot price matches, they match the competitor's price, plus they knock off another 10%.  Cha-ching!  The appliance associate writing the sale tries to override the additional discount, but the system won't let him.  (I'm laughing as I type this because this is so funny.....)  So, we're all good and we realize that because of Best Buy and Home Depot, we're getting a pretty good deal on this washing machine.  We get all the paperwork done.  We go up front and they ring us up.  We get up there and when the cashier rings us up, they give us another 10% off the already discounted-price-matched price.  CHA-CHING!!!  And because we're buying two extended warranties (one for the washer and the drier that we're picking up), they knock 20% off the price of the extended warranties.  My wife and I look at each other and we're afraid to say anything.  Please realize that we are spending a wad of cash AND they are getting the full price for the drier that they sold us AND they sold us two extended warranties.  (Purchasing the extended warranty on my Kenmore HE3t was probably the best extended warranty money I ever spent.)  So they may be loosing their shirts on the washer, but they're making up for it on the drier and the extended warranties.  (If we don't have a service call for either appliance in four or five years, then they just made pure profit on that extended warranty sale.)  I figure they are probably breaking even or making a few bucks off of us.  And that tax return I thought I was going to get, well, it will be used to pay for my newly purchased washer and drier.

    All I can say is that someone on high was looking out for us.  And to a certain degree I had the karma thing going for me.  Many months ago I bought several toilets from Home Depot.  Because of how my house was built, I wasn't able to use two of the three toilets that I purchased.  And in all the exchanges and so forth, Home Depot ended up giving me more money back than I should have received.  I found the error and contacted them and I sent them a check to make up for the error they made in my favor.  So it is as if today I was being "rewarded" for being honest with them in the past.  And even though I had a bad thing happen to me (my washing machine broke on me) and I had to spend a lot of money to replace it, I didn't spend as much money as I would have had things not worked out as well as they did.  So, in the end, I've been blessed.  And I have my tax refund there to help me pay for this expenditure.  Like I said, someone is watching out for us and blessing us.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    2010 New Year's Resolution (results)

    I was looking through my postings and I had a new years resolution for 2010 to drop 50 pounds in a year.  Well, that didn't happen in 2010.  Maybe in 2011.  But at the rate I'm going, it won't happen this year either.  I do have to try.  Once I'm over this cold, I'll try again.

    Vonage class action lawsuit

    Well, it looks like Vonage's disconnect runaround has finally caught up with it.  I got an email from some attorneys titled "Vonage Class Action Settlement Notice".  The actual site is:

    So if you are a former Vonage customer, go to that site and check it out.  You probably got an email from them about it.  The only way these companies will learn not to hose customers is to get stuff like this thrown at them.  Of course they claim no wrong doing because they bury all their caveats in the long user agreement that they have.  Just like credit card offers that promised a fixed interest rate for the life of the credit card or balance transfer, but yet the fine print states that they can jack your interest rate up at any time for any reason.  And guess what happened to the credit card companies.  Yep, you guessed it.  They got legislated.  When people get hosed and they feel "cheated" and there are enough of them, they will fight back. 

    The $64,000 question is will Vonage learn from their mistakes?  If they are smart they will.  Only time will tell.  Until that time, I wouldn't touch these guys with a 10 foot pole.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Text messaging

    My daughter loves to bend (and ignore) the rules of the house.  Last week she went on a school sponsored road trip and took my cell phone because the kids cell phone battery was close to dying.  While she was away, she texted a young man.  My wife and I don't want her to text because she really is too young to be texting.

    Yesterday I was driving home and I got a text message.  The message came in at 10:55PM and had the following message:

    "(Daughter's name)!  Are you still awake?"

    I was a bit annoyed that this young boy was texting my daughter at such a late hour.  I could ignore it, but that would mean that he would end up doing it again.  I wanted him to know that this wasn't my daughter's cell phone, so I sent the following text back five minutes later:

    "This is (daughter's name) dad and I am still awake."

    I sent it back and no response, which is what I was hoping for.

    My daughter went to school today and her friend told her about the incident.  I don't think that will happen again.  Yeah, I know.  I'm a mean Dad.  She can get her own cell phone and text to her heart's content when she leaves and goes to college.