07 November 2012

A few quick thoughts...

The first thing I noticed today when I got home from work and settled in to watch my daily regimen of Family Feud was the sweet peace of knowing there weren't any more political ads flooding every commercial break. Honestly, the political attack ads were one of the main reasons that I didn't vote yesterday. All of the candidates drove me away with their constant blubbering on tv, but fortunately I don't have to listen to their crap for another few years.

Now the only thing I have to deal with are the scores of people complaining about the election. I understand that people don't like the fact that their candidate didn't win, but is it really necessary to endlessly complain about it? It's not like complaining is going to change the result, so I just don't see the reason for doing it.

But people like to complain just for the sake of it I suppose, and if they weren't complaining about the election results they would surely find something else to complain about. I've never understood why people have to complain about everything, but some people just don't know how to be happy.

Well I think that's going to wrap this entry up. I don't really have much to say, but again I had to write something to continue my 30 day challenge. I'm sure I'll have more to talk about tomorrow, but we'll just have to wait and see when tomorrow comes.

06 November 2012

(Don't) Rock the Vote

Seeing all the hoopla surrounding this year's election made me do something I never thought I would do since the day I turned 18: I didn't vote this year.

There, I said it. I did not vote for Mitt Romney. I did not vote for Barack Obama. I did not vote for anyone, and I'm kind of glad I didn't waste my time. I know this probably upsets a lot of people, but I realized today that it just wasn't worth my time to worry with voting.

I realized this as I arrived at the local elementary school where my precinct votes. It was cold, rainy, and the line was wrapped around the building. I made a decision right then and there that I was going to get back in my car and drive back to work because I wasn't going to wait in line for up to an hour in the cold and risk getting sick just to punch a name on a ballot when my singular vote doesn't count for anything since I live in a guaranteed Republican Electoral Vote state.

So yeah, I didn't vote. But, I won't complain about who won or lost either, because I realized that when I walked back to my car this morning I forfeited that right. I also won't chastise anyone else for voting for either candidate, as I feel that everyone has the right to vote (or in my case, don't vote) for whomever they please.

That's really all I have to say on the matter, because frankly neither candidate is worth wasting any more of my breath on. I just hope that whomever wins does right by America and looks out for the people over his political party, but the realist in me knows that's not going to happen.

But hey, a guy can dream can't he?

05 November 2012

Spaghetti Princess

Since my son doesn't have school tomorrow he was invited to a sleep over at his friend's house, and because my wife and I never pass up an opportunity to get one of our kids out of the house* we had no problem with him going. Normally when he goes to spend the night with a friend we let our daughter pick what we have for dinner so she doesn't feel unimportant, and it's a virtual lock that she will request spaghetti.

I swear she's Italian because she would eat spaghetti three times a day if we let her, but when she's the queen of the castle we don't argue with her choice of spaghetti for dinner even though it's a guarantee that we're going to eat it every single time.

One of the reasons I don't mind making spaghetti for her is because I have a quick and painless recipe for spaghetti sauce that I make and freeze for these special occasions, and for at least one night dinner is painless to make. Since I don't really have anything else to talk about today, and because I have to write something for this 30 day challenge, I decided I would share my spaghetti sauce recipe with you.

This is one of my daughter's favorite things to eat, and if you decide to try it I hope you have a good experience with it as well.

Quick Spaghetti Sauce


1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp tomato paste*

*- The tomato paste can vary from 1 tspb to a full 6 oz can, depending on how thick you want the sauce. I use 3 tbsp because it is the preferred thickness for my personal taste, but your taste may vary.


Sauté the bell pepper and onion on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, and seasoning.

Lower heat to medium-low and stir in tomato paste 1 tbsp at a time until desired thickness is achieved (see note above). Cook sauce for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite pasta.

And that's all there is to it. It really is the easiest way to make spaghetti other than buying a jar of store-bought sauce, and trust me - once you try this you'll never want to do that again. Just be sure to double or triple the recipe so you can put some up for later. It keeps in the freezer for months and is a great way to save time during the busy week when you need a quick go-to meal or if you just feel like taking the easy way out to put dinner on the table.

* If you're a parent, you know exactly what I mean.

04 November 2012

Costco over football? Yes, please...

Because I'm no longer emotionally invested in the state of the 2012 Carolina Panthers, I decided to skip my normal Sunday ritual of watching the game to spend time with my family and make a trip to Costco.

Yes, I just admitted that I went to Costco instead of watching football. I know that violates every guy code in the book, but I honestly don't care because 1) I am no longer interested in whether or not the Panthers win/lose every week, and 2) I actually like going to Costco.

One of the reasons I like going ot Costco is because you can find stuff there that you can't find anywhere else. I mean, where else are you going to find a 5 gallon bucket* of olive oil? That's right, nowhere. That's part of the reason I enjoy going to Costco; if nothing else it's an adventure to see what sorts of things you can find that don't exist anywhere else.

Another major reason I like going to Costco is because it's a membership only place. Now, I'm not saying that I'm some sort of elitist who thinks he shouldn't have to shop in the same place as the masses, but I will admit that I enjoy shopping in a place that doesn't have the typical riff-raff that you find at major box stores** across America.

So yeah, Costco is one of my favorite places to shop. The funny part is that today I didn't even buy anything. I just wanted to tag along with my parents and in-laws who were both going there to buy things. Plus, I really didn't want to watch football, so going to Costco gave me a way to pass time so I didn't have to suffer through yet another horrible Panthers experience. (In typical fashion, the one week I don't watch the game they decide to have their best game of the season and win. Figures.)

I can't say that I abstained from football completely this weekend though, because as I'm typing this I'm watching the Giants/Steelers game. Well, it's on the tv as background noise, because I'm also in the process of baking potatoes so I can make gnocchi for dinner tonight.

Speaking of gnocchi, I think I just heard the oven timer go off. Oh well, time to finish cooking so I can feed the family. They would probably like that.

* Okay, it wasn't that big of a container. However, it was at least 2 gallons.

** I won't name any names, but one such store's initials are Wal-Mart.

03 November 2012

Whew! Now I'm exhausted...

Today's post is going to be short, and honestly the only reason I'm even writing it is because I made a promise to write something every day this month and I don't want to break that promise on the 3rd day of the month. I've been known to slack off and quit things before, but even I'm not that bad.

The reason this post is going to be short is because I'm utterly exhausted. I've been moving furniture all day, and I barely have enough energy to sit here and type this post out after spending the last 9 hours moving couches and bedroom furniture.

It all started last night when I drove 3 hours to my parents' house to help my dad load a U-Haul truck so they could bring the furniture down to our house (we claimed a bedroom suit and living room suit that used to belong to my brother but was newer than what we had) . This morning we got up and loaded the truck, and then made the trek back to my house to unload the truck, load the old furniture from my house to donate to Goodwill, then unload the truck again at Goodwill and return the U-Haul.

After a grand total of 9 hours of driving, lifting, loading, and moving; I think I'm finally done, and now I'm worn out.

The good thing is that I don't have to move any more furniture for a long time because now the furniture in my house is new and will last at least 5 years, so thankfully I won't have to do this long hard day again in the near future.

That is, of course, as long as my wife doesn't decide she wants anything else changed in the house. Hey, a man can dream can't he?

02 November 2012

Dish Network is the devil

Yeah, the title of this post says it all. DISH Network is the devil (or, as Kathy Bates would say to Adam Sandler in The Waterboy, The Debil). Why are they the devil? Well, I'm glad you asked (and you know you did).

Last weekend my wife's debit card was compromised, so she had to get a new one issued from our bank. While she was waiting on her new card to arrive, she realized that we pay our DISH Network bill via auto-pay (we did this so we could get free HD service), and if she didn't call them to let them know that her card number changed we would have an issue with our payment not going through this month.

One would think that calling them ahead of time to let them know of this situation would be a good idea. One would be wrong to think this, because DISH Network doesn't work that way. They don't do things the common sense way. They have to make things as difficult as they can for their customers, because apparently they enjoy putting people through absolute hell just to get a simple task completed.

When my wife called customer service, she was told that in order to change the credit card on file she would have to pay the current charges on our account (our bill is automatically drafted out on the 18th of every month). When she asked why she would have to do something so foolish just to change information in our customer profile, she was told "that's just the way we do things". She asked to speak to a manager, and was transferred to someone who apparently was less qualified than the entry level phone operator she originally spoke to when she called.

The manager told her that if we wanted to change our credit card information on our account that we would have to pay the current balance. My wife told the manager that we weren't going to pay our full balance because it was foolish to pay it two weeks before it's due just to change the credit card number so future bills are actually paid (you would think they would want this to happen since you know - they wouldn't be able to collect their money otherwise).

My wife exchanged a few unpleasantries with the manager, who eventually told her that if we wanted to we could cancel our auto-pay option and re-enable it at a later date to avoid paying the balance to change our card number. The manager said that as long as we re-enabled the auto-pay option within 17 days we wouldn't be charged for the free HD that we have, and if we waited until the 18th (17 days from now) we could change the credit card number, pay the bill, and re-enable the auto-pay option for future billing cycles.

My wife asked the manager if we could just re-enable the auto-pay option tomorrow since it was within 17 days. The manager said no. My wife, perplexed, asked why this wasn't possible. The manager said that we would still have to pay the balance in full if we wanted to change the credit card number, but we could only do the disable auto-pay then re-enable it if we waited the 17 days and called back on the 18th to pay the bill and sign back up for auto-pay.

My wife and I were confused. We didn't understand why the manager told her that we could disable auto-pay, change the credit card number, and then re-enable auto-pay as long as we did it within 17 days, but then turned around and said we couldn't disable auto-pay today, change the card number, and then re-enable auto-pay tomorrow so the bill would be paid on the 18th.

When she pointed this out to the manger, she said "that's just the way we do things". My wife asked "So why did you just tell me two minutes ago that we could do that, and then tell me we couldn't do it?!" Apparently the manager said something that made my wife out to be a liar, because I heard her voice raise as she said "Well, you just told me that we could do that!"

After a few more minutes of back and forth with the manager, my wife agreed to disable the auto-pay feature and threatened them with cancelling our service if they screwed our account up and charged us for our HD programming after the manager told us they wouldn't, and she told the manager that we would call back on the 18th to re-enable the auto-pay feature and pay the balance on our account.

So basically, we wasted a half-hour of our day that we can never get back and got nothing out of it from DISH Network. Thanks, DISH!

Now, my question is this: Why in the hell is it necessary to go through all this rigamarole just to change the credit card number on our account? Is it really that hard to type in a new number in the credit card slot on our account? Do they treat all their customers this way, or are we the lucky ones?

As expected, we got an email from DISH Network about an hour later acknowledging that we disabled the auto-pay feature on our account, and...wait for it...if we didn't re-enable our autopay within 17 days we would be charged for any promotions that we received from signing up for auto-pay (i.e. - we would have to pay for our HD programming).

So, we wasted our time jumping through hoops on the phone with a customer service rep who told us that we wouldn't have to pay for our HD programming, and then received an email from DISH saying that if we didn't re-enable the auto-pay feature we would have to pay for our HD programming. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Needless to say, my wife isn't very happy about the way we were treated by DISH Network, and we've both decided that if they try to charge us for our HD programming from this month that we are simply going to take our business elsewhere because we feel that our continued loyalty for almost six years should be enough for them to treat us with a small modicum of respect, and if they can't do that then they don't deserve our money every month when there are other companies out there who will give us what we want (tv access) for comparable prices with much better customer service.

The moral of the story is this: if you're thinking about switching to satellite tv, don't switch to DISH Network because they're the devil, and the devil is bad.

At least that's what momma always says...

01 November 2012

Deja, Deja, Deja, Deja, Deja Vu

Have you seen the iPhone commercial with the stupid hipsters standing in line for hours just so they can buy a new phone, and then the one hipster who looks like he hasn't bathed or shaved in three weeks stands there counting his chubby little fingers while asking the question "Have you ever had deja, deja, deja, deja, deja vu*?

Yeah, I know you've seen it because they play it Every. Freaking. Commercial. Break.

My wife hates that commercial.

I hate it too, but that's beside the point. The point is: I feel like that chubby little hipster is talking about me. No, I don't have an iPhone (Android FTW), but it seems that I always tell myself "I'm going to start blogging again" and then I write a few posts and then put it on the shelf.  Rinse and repeat. Over and over. Every single time I start, I stop again because I get scared that people are actually going to read this and they won't like me because what I write about is stupid and I don't want people to think I'm stupid.

Slow down. Deep breath...

Anyway, I'm going to give this a shot again. I might make it three posts, and this might be the jump start that I needed to get back into the habit of blogging all the time. This could be  beginning of something fantastic, but it's probably going to end up like it always does - me doing this for a few weeks and then falling off the wagon again. After all, this cycle has played out many times before.

This time I think it's different though. This time I'm doing this because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I know, you're probably sitting there thinking "he says that every single time", and you'd be right. I do say that every single time. But this time I mean it. (I know, I say that every time too, but this time I'm for real.)

This time around I have inspiration to write. A fellow blogger I greatly admire is doing a 30 days of writing challenge**, and it's inspired me to get off my lazy butt and write more. I feel a desperate need to communicate my thoughts with whomever may be reading this even though I don't know who I'm talking to unless I'm talking to myself, because I know who I am.

Or do I? Do I really know who I am? Maybe I do, and maybe I don't. Do you know who you are? Do any of us know? These are questions that I don't know the answer to, but maybe I can find the answers by writing in this space. Or maybe I won't, but at least I will be able to look back and say I tried.

In the end, that's all that really matters.

* The one that really gets on my nerves is the hipster who says "the headphone jack is going to be on the bottom", and then does the whole "my head is exploding" thing. I want to punch him in the face every time I see the commercial, but at the same time I don't because I'm afraid if I touch him I'll turn into a hipster.

** I am going to try and write a blog post every day for 30 days. If I can't keep this blog up after writing for 30 consecutive days, then it's a lost cause and I'll shut it down. I hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does - at least I'll know that I gave it my best shot.