Friday, December 14, 2007

Surprised by Christmas!?

Christmas has been December 25th for a few years now, so I really don't see why people are surprised by it every year. Normally it's simply comedy for me because I get to watch as people scramble around at the last minute in a desperate attempt to find gifts at the last minute. This year is different because my wife is one of those people who get surprised by a date that never moves. My present making has been finished for a few weeks and the buying portion was done well before that.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Afternoon Meetings

What kind of boss calls Friday morning to schedule a one-on-one meeting with you at 3pm on a Friday? He didn't even bother to tell me what he wants to meet about. So now, I get to spend all day wondering if I'm going to get fired this afternoon. All of my energy for the day was eliminated in the span of less than a minute. Except for items which must be done today, I won't be getting any actual work done.

I have no idea what I'll do if my fears are true. My wife lost her job a few weeks ago and she has yet to get another one. Our savings is down to basically nothing because of her job loss, so we basically have nothing to fall back on. With the local economy the way it is, I highly doubt that I'll be able to match the wage I'm receiving now. A realistic estimate would be about 3/4 of what I make now.

Congratulations boss man! You've succeeded in ensuring that I won't do anything today except brooding, browsing want ads, and updating my resume.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Guilty Pleasure - The Lottery

The lottery is numbers, chance, big money, and gambling all rolled into one. It's also my guilty pleasure. I'm not bad at math, I know full well that the 175,711,536 to 1 odds of me winning the jackpot are just about the worst odds in the world. But I look at the money spent as an entertainment tax.

It's the fee that allows me to stand in the shower in the morning and daydream about a future where I don't have to get up and go to work in the morning. A future where my daughter's college education is already fully paid. The key is to realize that this reality can come about; but it probably won't happen via the lottery.

Playing with the numbers is an added benefit. Mapping out the numbers and seeing which ones hit on what dates is a strange kind of fun for me.

You DON'T Deserve It

Most of us are guilty of justifying a purchase with, "I deserve it." Unless you budgeted it for it at the beginning of the month, you don't.

Even though you may have had a tough week or just accomplished a large project, you owe it to yourself to delay gratification. The momentary satisfaction of buying something isn't worth going outside of your budget and the havoc it can create.

Dave Ramsey had a story about a single mother giving in at the end of a tough day and buying McDonald's for her kids even though it wasn't in her budget. Those happy meals ended up costing her over a hundred dollars due to the NSF fees from both her bank and the check payees. In the future I'll try to remember this story when I try to justify a purchase by telling myself that I deserve it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why CannibalCrowley?

I'm sure it's a question that people will have and the answer is that it's simply because that's what I use for everything. Of course, the exception to that is Xbox Live where I use Cannibal GWJ due to Microsoft's craptacular handling of migrating old accounts from the original Xbox to the 360.

The name came about back when I was in the Marine Corps. My roommate gave me the first portion due to my love of cannibal and zombie movies. So I used the name for a while online; but with such a common word I kept bumping into others with the same name. Due to my hatred of simply adding a number to the end of a name, I decided that I needed to add another word in there.

I really like alliterations so that part was set. I was sitting around the barracks and brainstorming with my roommate and I just happened to have a book by Aleister Crowley sitting out at the time. So that's how the name was born.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Writing something every day has got to be the hardest part of blogging. I know it sure kicks my butt. Darn my laziness.

I have a lot of respect for people who can not only write every day; but perform a corresponding activity as well. For instance, Brian at Horror Movie A Day watches a different horror movie ever day and then writes about it. That's close to 2 hours out of every day.

Games for Lunch spends an hour of each day with a different videogame and talks about his experience along with giving a yes or no answer to whether or not he'd play it more.

Keep up the good work guys.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Revocation of Acceptance - Part 4

It's been a couple weeks since I revoked acceptance on the Impala and as of last night the dealer still hadn't arranged a time or place where he could take the vehicle in exchange for refunding me my downpayment plus the repairs that I ended up paying for even after he said that he would do so. When my wife finally got home from taking care of her Grandmother (she just had knee surgery), we drove to Auto King of Grand Rapids and I dropped the car off at his lot along with a note to contact me to get the keys. It also mentioned that I was expecting to receive my money within 10 days.

Early this morning I also faxed the note to the dealership as well as sent it to Chris Buben in an email. I then wrote a letter explaining this step and faxed it to the finance company. I informed them to contact me via email with any questions.

Revocation of Acceptance - Part 1
Revocation of Acceptance - Part 2
Revocation of Acceptance - Part 3

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Revocation of Acceptance - Part 3

After calling, mailing, and faxing, I finally got a response from Chris Buben of Auto King of Grand Rapids. His response came in the form of an email from He basically said, "nuh-uh, you can't do that." He must have completely ignored the letter itself as well as the supporting documentation.

Let's go over some of the funnier parts of the email (his portion in green):
We need to get the car to our mechanics and go from there.
Would this be the same mechanics whose shop at your dealership didn't even have a common car fuse?

You can't simply decide you don't want the car any more because it has a couple mechanical issues.
Actually, if you had bothered to read the letters and fax I sent then you would be aware that the consumer is allowed to do just that if the defects substantially impair the value and also fulfill one of the following conditions:
  • Defects were supposed to be fixed and have not been.
  • The buyer's initial acceptance was caused by difficulty of discovery.
  • The buyer's initial acceptance was influenced by the seller's assurances.
  • The product sold is not fit for ordinary purposes (e.g. a car should start and run).
  • The seller used "unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices"(as set forth in the Michigan Consumer Protection Act).
I can meet all five instead of just one, so this will be a slam dunk if it goes to court.

I wonder if he thinks I'm not serious. The longer this goes on, the more it seems like he's just hoping I'll give up. Well I've got news for him, I'm not a big fan of being screwed over and I'll gladly spend a day in court to get things right. He's just making things harder on himself because he'll end up having to pay the fees and costs is this goes to trial. On top of that he'd probably drag his feet on paying the judgment and I'd end up having to go through a seizure of property.

Part 1
Part 2

Monday, July 23, 2007

Revocation of Acceptance - Part 2

The mug pictured sure isn't me, it's Chris Buben from Auto King of Grand Rapids. He's the seller that I briefly mention in part one of this little story. I was hoping that there wasn't going to be a part two, I naively believed that Mr. Buben would act like the upstanding businessman that he claims to be; but I should have known better.

I've always shied away from used car dealers and bought from private owners due to the less than stellar reputation that used car dealers have as a whole. However, since the wife was against going to a private party, we compromised and went to a smaller local dealer because we (it turns out wrongly) believed that they would be more honest than your average corporate-type dealer.

I called Auto King with my revocation of acceptance on Tuesday morning, as of Wednesday morning I still hadn't heard from them so I sent a letter as well. On Friday I called the finance company (UAC) and informed Steve of the situation. He stopped short of calling me; but just barely. He actually had the gall to lie to me and try to say that I had no recourse against them because all they were doing is financing the purchase. Of course that would require me to ignore the bold print statement at the bottom of the contract which states (as required by federal & state law):

After calling him out on it he fell back to the "well, neither of us are lawyers" defense and I ended up just faxing the letter and all supporting documentation to his office at 616-949-9690.

As of this morning I still haven't heard back from Chris Buben with a time and place where we can exchange the vehicle for the downpayment plus the repair costs he was supposed to cover. So after a bit of digging I found their fax number ( 616-261-3361 ) and faxed a copy of the letter that I mailed to him last week. I also re-faxed it to UAC since I still haven't heard from them either.

Part 1
Part 3

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Proposed 20,000% Tax Increase

Yes that figure is correct. Congress wants to increase the current cigar tax up to 20,000%. You might be asking yourself, what kind of horrible product would deserve such an outrageous tax increase? The answer is the oft maligned demon weed in it's best form, the cigar.

Via the St Petersburg Times:

As part of an increase in tobacco taxes designed to pay for children's health insurance, the nickel-per-cigar tax that has ruled the industry could rise to as much as $10 per cigar.

"I'm not sure in the history of man, since our forefathers founded the country in 1776, that there's ever been a tax increase of 20,000 percent," said Newman, who runs the Tampa business founded by grandfather Julius Caesar Newman. "They had the Boston Tea Party for less than this."

My coolerdor's cigar stock would last me for years if this atrocity were to actually become law; but beyond that I guess I'd do what many do now with Cubans and order overseas by a company that ships said packages discretely.

Revocation of Acceptance

This morning I called Auto King of Grand Rapids and informed them that I was revoking acceptance of the vehicle. The car in question is a 2005 Impala that is probably flood/water damaged. I let them know that they could call me to arrange pickup of the car as well as refunding my down payment.

Problems so far:

  • The radio was locked (while it was on the lot) he agreed to fix it; but I ended up having to take it to a Chevy dealer. It turned out that the radio wasn’t originally from that car (even though the dealer claimed that it was).
  • The wipers didn’t work. I called him about this the next day and he said to bring it in. I poked around a bit myself and discovered that the fuse had been pulled. After putting the fuse back in and turning the car on, the wipers went vertical and stayed that way. They wipe now; but their rest position is vertical.
Before I took it to him, I pulled the fuse and pushed the wipers down (just as they apparently did). He acted dumb when I got there; but his first suggestion was the fuse. He then suggested that I get a fuse from the dealer the next day (that was when I had the appointment for the radio at the Chevy dealer). I asked him if he had a fuse and he said no. They have a garage on-site. It seems kind of strange that there weren’t any fuses in their garage and that he knew this without having to check.
  • The rear defroster doesn’t work.
  • I was attaching my daughter’s car seat when I noticed that if one looked where the upper and lower parts of the back seat join, you can see a lot of rust behind them. It takes something pretty severe to rust the interior of a car that badly.
  • A lot of the instrument lights either don’t work or work intermittently.
  • The listing says that the car has power seats; but only the driver’s seat is powered.
  • Sometimes the car won’t start. It’s happened to me a few times now, it will turn over; but for some reason the car won’t start.
  • It stalls too. It happened to my wife the other day with a witness in the car. It hasn’t happened to me yet; but at least now I won’t be too surprised.

I’m waiting until noon or until Auto King calls me back before I inform the finance company. From what I’ve read, they’re bound by the same regulations as the dealer since the dealer arranged the financing.

Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I've Entered The HD World - VU42LF

I did it, I’ve finally ventured into the HD world. Vizio’s new VU42LF combined with Costco’s $200 off coupon was too much for me to bear. I’ve been planning this purchase for quite a while now and yesterday morning I finally went out and got it. Unfortunately I had an entire day of work ahead of me with my thoughts turning back to the tv every five minutes.

Oh quick note, be sure to always carefully measure the transporting vehicle for both final storage as well as getting the box into the car. I ended up with about six inches between my chest and the steering wheel, not exactly a comfortable position.

Some discomfort driving was worth it though. Last night I was like the proverbial kid on Christmas. I got everything hooked up, calibrated the display using the handy dandy THX Optimizer from my copy of Clone Wars, and basked in 1080P goodness.

I popped Gears of War into the 360 and it was amazing. DVDs were upscaled nicely too. The wife was happy about her tv channels coming in crystal clear. Of course CBS is only available in fuzzy analog (darn indoor antenna). Strangely enough, Fox has a digital channel here that runs music videos all day and there are several channels of something called ION which I’ve never even heard of before.

Friday, June 22, 2007

15 Things I'd Say to My High School Self

Lazy Man's dream inspired him to post Fifteen Things I’d Like To Say to High School Lazy Man. He had so many great points that I decided to run through the exercise myself.

15. Don’t max out that credit card when you’re 18. A $5,000 credit limit gets charged up a lot quicker than it gets paid off on a PFC’s salary.

14. Don’t stop by that girl’s house to pick her up for the DEP meeting. She won’t be there and the detour will expose you to a drunk driver who will hit you head-on.

13. Go out with your friends more often or else you’ll regret it later in life.

12. A better way to spend the money from your high school jobs would be to buy domain names. Buy as many as possible because they'll eventually make you a nice profit.

11. I know Amy O. appears to be out of your league; but she has a huge crush on you. Ask her out ASAP because otherwise all she’ll do is drop hints that go way over your head.

10. Try out for the football team, don’t say that you’re too small and end up waiting until the Marine Corps to discover that you’re actually pretty good at the game.

9. Ensure that Meka knows that driving while tired can have dire consequences and make her promise you that she won’t ever do it.

8. You can do a lot more in foreign countries than drinking and partying.

7. While you’re living in Hawaii, buy a motorcycle instead of that crappy car. It’s going to break down anyway and it will be a few years before you learn to ride if you don’t do it while you’re in Hawaii.

6. Don’t worry about what people in high school think about you because you won’t see more than a few of them afterwards. Besides, you’re better liked than you think. Most of them don’t even care that you’re poor.

5. Double-check your enlistment contract and point out to your recruiter that he “forgot” to put the Marine Corps College Fund in there. If you sign it before it’s in there you can kiss that benefit goodbye.

4. Demand that your mother introduces you to your biological father. All the leads will be dead ends if you wait too long.

3. You’ll fall in love with Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, don’t wait until your twenties to find good instructors.

2. While you're home on leave from boot camp buy a lotto ticket for The Big Game that covers November 26, 1999, with the numbers 17, 21, 22, 33, 38 and 34 as the special number.

1. You will have a beautiful daughter and a loving wife. Follow the previous bit of advice so that you can enjoy your time with them instead of always working.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Xbox Live Account - Original to 360 Migration

I recently bought a 360 and even though I originally planned to delay my play until I got our new TV on Monday, I just couldn’t wait that long. Unfortunately, Microsoft believes that neither I nor anyone else should be able to use the online name that I’ve been using for seven years.

You see, I made the mistake (in Microsoft’s eyes) of never paying for my old Xbox Live account with a credit card. So now, according to the various employees at 1-800-4MY-XBOX, my old gamertag is in limbo. It can’t be recovered, nor will it ever be deleted. It will simply be a place holder on their servers, never to be released into the wild.

The biggest question in my mind is what purpose does this serve? I can’t see how it makes anything easier on their part and according to the supervisor I talked to, it infuriates a number of customers.

Do they realize how much some gamers identify with their handles? Being told that the name I use for my online identification had me seriously considering the return of over $600 worth of merchandise, including a 360 Elite that had me calling every electronics store within a 100 mile radius. I didn’t return it and I’m not threatening to; but they forced me to think about it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Censorship Hits Manhunt 2

“Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” - Henry Steele Commager

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
- Mark Twain

It’s always amazed me that some people think that they should have the right to tell others adults what they can and cannot view. First it was books, then movies, and now videogames. Due to their ratings board refusing to issue a rating, Manhunt 2 will be banned from being sold in the UK. Ireland has followed suit as well.

So why exactly did they feel the need to ban the game? According to BBFC director David Cooke, “Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing.” Both the Saw and Hostel franchises would fit this description quite well. So why were they given a rating equivalent to R? If the content is truly the issue, then shouldn’t the standards apply equally across different mediums?

The U.S. ratings board for videogames is almost as bad. The ESRB has given the game an initial rating of Adults Only (AO), which is equivalent to an NC-17 rating. It seems like we have another case of issuing a more restrictive rating due to the medium.

On the positive side, one might be able to make some cash buy eBaying copies of Manhunt 2 to people who live where freedom of speech is heavily restricted.