Dec. 29, 2005

The seventh in a series (see the archives for previous installments):

Stop it.

Stop airing commercials that feature elderly people talking about not wanting to burden their families with their “final expenses.” The ads are really creepy, and I don’t feel like contemplating my own mortality while I’m watching TV.

Stop using the term blogosphere. The word blog is stupid enough, but talking about the blogosphere makes you sound like a hopeless nerd who watches too much Star Trek. (While we’re at it, let’s dispense with the job title Webmaster, too — it sounds nerdy and arrogant.)

Stop breathing heavily during lengthy conference calls — it’s incredibly distracting. Find the mute button on your telephone or headset, and use it!

Stop sending me free holiday cards on behalf of a worthwhile charity for three reasons: (1) I’d feel guilty if I used them without sending a donation; (2) my friends would think I’m cheap if I had mailed them free cards; and most importantly, (3) the cards arrived in my mailbox four days after Christmas.

You heard me. Just stop.

[ No. 222 ]

Dec. 22, 2005

I’m only going to say this once, and it’s a genuine shame that I have to complain about political correctness during this otherwise festive time of year.

They’re called Christmas trees, not holiday trees. Got it?

[ No. 221 ]

Dec. 19, 2005

OK, Comcast, here’s the deal. I had scheduled an appointment this past Wednesday afternoon for you to install a new high-speed Internet line in my soon-to-be-furnished home office. It’s bad enough that (1) you missed the two-hour window, (2) I had to call you to find out why no one had contacted me even after those two hours had elapsed, and (3) the technician who finally called me back had a limited grasp of the English language.

But on top of that, this process required me to call your toll-free number several times, and on each call, the automated phone menu prompted me to enter my home telephone number twice. After I was finally connected with a human being, the customer service representative began by asking me, “Can I have your home phone number, please?”

(During the most recent call, I replied in an irritated tone, “Didn’t I enter my phone number twice already?” The customer service rep mumbled that the first two entries had only routed my call to the appropriate call center.)

I’m already paying you well over $1,300 per year for digital cable TV and broadband Internet service. Using some of that precious revenue, please figure out a way to retain those 10 telephone digits so I don’t have to provide the same information three times.

[ No. 220 ]

Dec. 15, 2005

Earlier today, as I was driving home from work through a messy combination of light snow and sleet, I noticed the following slogan on the back of a plumber’s truck in front of me:


Beneath the poker-themed tag line was a logo comprised of a toilet and five playing cards. That’s a pretty clever (or at least memorable) marketing scheme for a local plumbing business, if you ask me.

And thanks to my wealth of worthless knowledge, the plumber’s truck also reminded me of an old episode of The Simpsons, which featured a local business called Stern Lecture Plumbing and its slogan, I TOLD YOU NOT TO FLUSH THAT.

[ No. 219 ]

Dec. 13, 2005

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ll hold off on the usual rant material and pass along a few raves for a change:

[ No. 218 ]

Dec. 8, 2005

Recently, while telling someone that people seem to take themselves far too seriously these days, I was reminded of this story:

Several years ago, I met an attractive blonde at a party. Since most of the people at the party were recent college graduates, I broke the ice by asking her where she had gone to school.

“I went to Colgate,” she replied.

I quickly thought of a witty response and smiled. “So, how did you guys fare in your homecoming game against Crest?”

(Harmless quip, right? C’mon, you have to admit that’s a good one-liner.)

To my surprise, she frowned at me, muttering that I wasn’t very funny and that she was really tired of jokes like that.

You can probably guess that I didn’t get her number that night. But if she had smiled back at me and said something like, “Actually, we beat Crest but lost to Aquafresh the following week,” I would have married that girl.

[ No. 217 ]

Dec. 3, 2005

My latest pet peeve on television: Jim Cramer, market commentator and host of his own show on CNBC, the appropriately named Mad Money.

If you haven’t seen the program yet, don’t waste your time. The guy spends most of his show within a few feet of the camera, pacing back and forth like a caged animal, waving his arms around, and yelling at the top of his lungs about the various stocks he thinks you should buy. The jerky camera movements on the show are as unsettling as those from The Blair Witch Project, and it appears as though Cramer will burst a blood vessel in his head at any moment.

After suffering horrendous losses in the stock market just a few short years ago, haven’t we learned to ignore loudmouths like this guy? Sure, Cramer has plenty of impressive credentials on Wall Street. But he also knows that very, very few amateur investors can successfully time the market on a consistent basis. Plus, if you buy and sell stocks frequently, you’re going to pay a lot of money in commission fees, and that eats away at your profit — assuming you made any money in the first place.

I’m certainly no investment guru, either, but I know this much: responsible investors don’t treat the stock market like a casino. Stop listening to bug-eyed knuckleheads like Jim Cramer and invest for the long term.

[ No. 216 ]