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If you want to make your move, car rental, or your life in general as hard as possible I would recommend Budget Car/Truck Rental. If you want a smooth experience, decent customer service and fair rates you should NEVER USE Budget.
Let me tell you why! Last Monday I was looking for rental vehicles to facilitate a move for my family, we only needed a small truck as we were moving only .9 miles by vehicle, and half a mile as the crow flies. The company I work for has a negotiated discount with Budget, so I decided to use their service as it was comparable to others.
I booked my 10 foot truck, gave them my info, printed my confirmation/reservation and forgot about it until Wednesday when I got a call telling me they would not have a ten foot truck available at the location I had selected. This poises our first question, “Why does their reservation system show some vehicles as being available and others as not being when there is zero accuracy in that data?”
The agent that called me was apologetic and offered to upgrade us to the next larger vehicle with the caveat we would have to pick it up from a different location. I mentioned that it would require 20 miles of additional driving and since that class of vehicle is a flat rate plus mileage it would impact my cost and he adjusted it to include those extra miles for free, and gave me an extra 5 miles free to cover the gas difference. At this point, other than a bit of bother the customer service appeared excellent and I gave them glowing reviews.
I called on Friday afternoon to re-verify my rental as their site had recommended doing so, and I was informed that Jarred their inventory manager in the area would have the vehicle where I needed it, and at the time I needed it.
Jarred is a liar.
I then called the Budget location at 10am on Sunday as my appointment was at 1030 to pick up the truck, and I was in the middle of a move. The young man working that location told me that it was available and would be there. I drove to the location and listened to the two people in line in front of me be told that none of their vehicles were available and there was nothing Budget could do because their terms and conditions never actually promise to do ANYTHING. Question number two, “Why have a reservation system when you have no intent of honoring it, unless you get lucky and manage to honor it?” I will admit to smirking a little as the people in front of me grew angry because I had had MY truck verified four different times, first by the website, then the northeast rep for Budget, by their inventory manager locally (via the store rep), and by the store rep that morning.
I get to the front of the line, present my reservation number and thought, “I should let my wife go now, and I will follow!” I am most certainly glad I did not, as the SAME EXACT BUDGET EMPLOYEE behind the counter who had verified it for me 30 minutes prior was now telling me that no truck was available.
Okay, so why make reservations with Budget, and even more, why ever use Budget?
I called their customer service number and spoke with a rep; he put me on hold and called the same guy in front of me who had already lied to me. The rep came back on the line and told me that my only option was to pick up a vehicle NINETY FOUR MILES AWAY, not round trip 94 miles, but a 188 mile round trip on a day I was moving. He told me that the local inventory manager had previously said that a vehicle would be ready, which indicates the local inventory manager really needs a new career, perhaps sweeping floors.
Third question: “Does Budget strive to hire idiots, or are their policies really that inept?”
I pointed out that taking three hours to get the vehicle to even start moving was silly, and that I would have to pay for 94 miles of travel in a 15 foot truck, and 188 miles of travel in my own car, and in return he said, “I will give you a 25% discount!”
I was appalled; did he really think 10 bucks was going to cover over 45 bucks in fuel costs and three hours of time from my wife and I?
I stayed calm, but at this point he started to tell me that since their terms and conditions do not actually promise ANYTHING, he could not do anything else. I asked if he could, with a week notice, ensure I would have a vehicle the following weekend, and he repeated the corporate line that their terms and conditions do not actually promise ANYTHING.
Still calm, I informed him I would never use Budget as a service again, and I would inform other consumers of the issue so that they are not left in the same position. All of their employees told me the same thing, this happens more often than it does not, and their customer rep actually tried to tell me that they have millions of cars but only 80k of trucks so it was difficult. “Why do they make reservations they KNOW they cannot support in advance?”
I got on my phone, did a U-Haul reservation, drove to a convenient location and picked it up. I am out 90 minutes (times two with my wife), an additional 30 bucks in costs, and my move started two hours late. I was moving until 11pm as a result and literally ran out of help and energy thanks to the long day. So, now I face getting another vehicle to finish the last few items, and that puts me another 50-75 bucks out of pocket. Renting a vehicle from Budget ensures that you will pay over 100 extra dollars, never get a vehicle from them and waste your time hassling with them.
Please, please, please NEVER USE BUDGET RENTAL FOR ANY OF YOUR NEEDS. Keep in mind my questions about Budget.
“Why does their reservation system show some vehicles as being available and others as not being when there is zero accuracy in that data?”
“Why have reservation systems when you have no intent of honoring it, unless you get lucky?”
“Does Budget strive to hire idiots, or are their policies really that inept?”
“Why do they make reservations they KNOW they cannot support in advance?”

As per Newsoxy, the average size of a house has more than doubled to 2,349 square feet from 983 back in the 1950s. This trend is more more remarkable when you consider that with some small year-to-year variations, houses have grown almost unceasingly since 1978.

The average size of a new single-family house shrank significantly from 2008 to 2009, the census figures show. Nationally the average decrease was 51 square feet, to 2,422 square feet, the data show. In the Northeastern United States, the change was more dramatic: House size diminished by more than 200 square feet, to 2,529 square feet.
This shrink will hopefully continue as buyers realize the virtues of smaller homes. Especially when even the Washington Post runs stories on, “The top 10 reasons building a smaller house is better even if their number one reason is a bit tongue-in-cheek, “You won't be the obvious person to host every important family occasion and accommodate all the friends and relatives who come to town.” Many sites, groups and organizations have moved towards methods of building small homes, the average American can visit a nearby Ikea to find layouts that range from 300-600 square feet for a quick idea of an efficient home.
When you look at the economy and face the reality of the fact that our nation is in a decline without any real hope for an improvement as fossil fuels run out, raw materials become more and more expensive to find (within the terraspace that is, since we are too shortsighted to pull a nearby asteroid and the idiot Democrats poisoned NASA in the 70's and the idiot Republicans killed it in the 80's) and a lack of expanding markets to build and economy around. We have shipped our ability to make tools to China, so we can not even be a manufacturing nation. This leaves us an economy that has no middle class, and the divide between rich and poor is growing more ugly each year. According to a report earlier this year done by New York University, the top 20% of wealthy individuals in America own about 85% of all the wealth in the country – while the bottom 40% own close to zero and in addition to owning virtually no assets to speak off, many have a “negative” net wealth reality source. This makes it clear that we cannot expect a future with regular employment regardless of our skill sets, and our best hope for employment is to be as mobile as the last gasp vestiges of the economy hop around the nation. Right now we have an anchor in the city of Flint, Michigan in the form of a house that has lost 80% of its value in the last five years. We cannot assume another mortgage, and have no desire to add more bad debt to the bad housing debt we already possess. (For anyone reading and judging us from false assumptions, we bought the reasonable sized home, for a reasonable price, far below the appraised value). The high rate of home ownership in this country even hurts our chances of having the economy improve since so many people are stuck with similar anchor homes so that they are unable to begin a migration to areas with more jobs. That anchor in Flint is going to make retirement an impossibility, and we are not going to receive Social Security benefits thanks to the rapacious “Greatest Generation” and their obnoxiously wasteful “Baby Boom” kids.

Where does this leave us? It leave us planning on a home that can move with us, rather than another anchor or a series of rent checks leading to one or both of us being homeless in our old age. My wife and I both agree that portable homes are the best answer for the future. With that in mind we have begun a mission to pick a type, a model, and to narrow concepts. There are some great resources that can help with smart small home building such as The Containerist and our first choice seems to be deciding between building on a trailer/semi flatbed or merely redoing a cargo container. I will keep you updated in this space as we make our decisions. Right now the only things I am sure of is that we do not want a traditional “mobile home” as the construction quality on them is entirely too poor, they are very inefficient and their engineering seems stuck in the 1970's.

Timeline: Now until Spring 2013 to do all pre-planning and initial purchases

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Droid users, let me recommend the app FBReader as a book reader for your Droid. I have tried 13* of them since Saturday, and some lack decent support, some lack basic functionality, some lack even the ability to change pages without a sub menu. FBReader handles too few regular formats, and at first I overlooked it as a result. I did find a solution, noted in the next paragraph.
The application Calibre will let you convert almost any ebook to a epub (The free and open e-book standard), or several other formats. I recommend it if you have an inferior phone also, heh, since Epub is rather commonly available, and it is usable over many platforms (as is FBReader). Regardless of what you use, I recommend checking this out!
I started this process by downloading and installing the top 5* free ebooks readers from the Droid market. If they crashed, I read their forums, followed their recommended fixes, verified files, used their test files etc. So, when I say it crashes it is based on what it does when you and your hardware have done everything right already.
FBReader – I give this app about a 95% approval rating. The only feature others have that it lacks is autoscrolling, and since my old BB never supported it, I guess that I do not miss it. The apps that do offer the autoscroll option never make it fast enough to be useful to me. It allows a full choice of fonts/size/colors/margins. You can select multiple hard keys for page turning, you can pick the folder it sees the library in (and it read subdirectories, which 3 of the 5 seemed incapable of doing). It is cross platform, distributed under GNU GPL and supports the following system choices so you do not have to deal with changing readers between portable and home.
* For Linux desktop computer.
* For Windows XP/Vista/7 computer.
* For SmartQ 5/7 MID.
* For Maemo (Nokia 770/N800/N810) Internet Tablet.
* For Sharp Zaurus with Qtopia-based ROM (e.g., original Sharp, Cacko) installed.
* For Sharp Zaurus with pdaXrom installed.
* For Sharp Zaurus with OpenZaurus installed.
* For Siemens Simpad with OpenSimpad 0.9.0.
* For Archos PMA430.
* For PepperPad.
* For Motorola A1200 smartphone.
* FBReaderJ for Google Android.
* FBReader for Motorola E680i/A780 (ported by Ketut P. Kumajaya).
* FBReader for MacOS X (by Stanislav Gobunov).
* Fbreader for IRex iLiad (ported by Adam B.).
* FBReader FreeBSD ports (thanks to Andrew Pantyukhin)
Aldiko – Limited Formats it can read, VERY VERY SLOW, crashed one time in three, requires you use a unchangeable folder for storage of files (which several others also fail with). It scrolls pages nicely and give you button options for page changing in addition to using on screen gestures. If it had more stability or worked more consistently I would have better to say of it, but too slow and too buggy.
Word Player (sometimes called Art of War since it comes with it) Crash, Crash, Crash, Ooo it is working, check out the feat…oh it crashed again. Ohh it is working now, let's wait half an hour for a page to load in its native format, oh no it crashed.
eReaderPro – Okay, this app is decent overall (and has autoscroll with adjustable speed) but has two major flaws. First, it seems to only be able to see books in the root of your memory, if you have one ebook I can see that being okay, I on the other hand am loading 33k books/manuals onto my phone. Second, it only allows screen gestures to change pages. This is simply unacceptable to me, and might be to you, but if you are trying to read something with gloves on having the option to map page up/down to the volume keys is required.
The fifth, well, I have zero good to say about it.
As a side note, the Sci-Fi Publisher Baen gives away thousands of free books in multiple formats, and you can download entire CD's of marterial they have released from The Fifth Imperium
* Started with 13, I do want to mention that all the others I tried dramatically failed, support DRM only, required you buy books only from them, etc. None were worth abandoning a library of open books, nor would I ever.

I have been feeling crappy lately, so last night I crashed early and woke up feeling semi human before it was too late to spend a few minutes at least watching TV with Stacy. Started up my PC ( long story as to why I have to watch TV on my PC at the moment) and defragged the C drive while I got some coffee, I updated my Video Drivers and noticed I had no sound. Speakers were on, looked for speaker on task bar, none there, went to Control Panel and it says, “No Audio Device” and it is greyed out.
Side notes that may be relevant… Asus A8N-SLI, WinXP Sp3.
The “Sound playback” and “Voice playback” in the Audio and Voice tab respectively are greyed out as well. Hardware tab shows the Realtek AC97 card, and the sound drivers is installed and working properly.
Device Manager shows sound, video and game controllers, there are:
“Audio codecs
Legacy Video Capture Devices
Media Control Devices
Realtek AC97 Audio
Video Codecs”
etc
and none of them have '!' or “?” beside them.
Uninstalled driver, reinstalled, same result.
Verified Device was turned on in Bios
Verified Windows Audio service was running
I think that you mentioned that in the sound & audio devices its all gray , so try this it will help you:

Go to Start menu and chose Run, write this command:
services.msc, press enter
In new window on the right panel find Windows Audio and double click on it, when you see the new window under Windows Audio Properties in page General down to the Startup type make shore it is Automatic and in the part Services status click on Start than Apply, OK and the problem is solved.
Downloaded Driver from Asus site, same result
Downloaded Driver from Realtek site, same result

Tried

1. From Device Manager (be sure to select View/Show hidden devices), find the 'ISAPNP Read Data Port' device from the System Devices list.
2. Right click the ISAPNP device, and select “Update Driver”
3. Select “Install from a list or specific location”
4. Select “Don't search. I will choose the driver to install.”
5. The step I left out on prior trials: UNSELECT “Show Compatible Hardware”
6. Be sure that “(Standard System Devices)” is selected under Manufacturer.
7. Under Model, scroll down until you see “Plug and Play Software Device Enumerator”. Select this item, and select “Next>”.
8. You will receive some frightening error message that you should probably disregard.
9. Complete the installation of the driver. You will see your device list magically change before your eyes. The other PNP devices will mysteriously become enabled and active. If not, restart.

Tried

1. In Device Manager, System Devices check that Plug and Play Software Device Enumerator is installed and running. If not , then you need to reinstall it:
1a. Copy machine.inf from %windir%\inf to your desktop (didn't have Plug and Play Software Device Enumerator, and still don't)
2. Remove line ExcludeFromSelect=*
3. Use Add new hardware wizard using the Have Disk option
4. Select the machine.inf you saved on the desktop
5. Install Plug and Play Software Device
6. restart the computer
7. if sound does not come on try to uninstall\reinstall the audio drivers one last time and reboot

Tried
Updating to a newer BIOS (only a beta was avail from Asus, but tried it, it caused other problems so had to downgrade to original and boy was that fun)
During this process I had to boot to Ubuntu USB, and sound worked THERE without a problem. FRAKING MICROSOFT!
Tried

This problem is caused by a missing file in XP and has nothing to do with the hardware or the Realtek audio driver. Each time you boot XP it will detect new hardware and request you to instal the Microsoft UUA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio. To fix the problem you have to request the hotfix for KB888111.
Click the following link then click where it says View and request hotfix downloads at the top left of the article next to the tools icon.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888111/
Don't bother reading the KB888111 article as that is not particularly helpful. It says that the hotfix is for XP SP1 and SP2 but it works fine with SP3.
When you have requested the hotfix you will be sent an email with a download link to download the hotfix. The hotfix is a self extracting cabinet so double click the file to unzip the contents. You need to enter a password and the password is in the email sent from Microsoft along with the hotfix attachment.
When you have extracted the contents of the hotfix you will see a number of folders. The folders are named according to different languages so if you want english you choose the folder named US.
Open the folder and inside is another folder named x86fre and inside that folder are four self extracting cabinets. Two of these are named kb888111sp1 and kb888111sp2. Choose the SP1 cabinet if your XP is SP1 and choose the SP2 cabinet if your XP is either SP2 or SP3.
Important – don't double click the cabinet but unzip it instead as you are not installing the hotfix. You are simply extracting the files from the cabinet.
When you have extracted the contents of kb888111sp1 or kb888111sp2 you will see a folder named commonfiles and inside this folder are the files you need to instal the missing Microsoft UUA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio.
Reboot XP and when it detects new hardware it requests the system file HDAUDBUS and you should simply point to the commonfiles folder which contains the missing file. XP will instal the file and that is the problem fixed.
Follow these steps and it is quite easy to do.

Tried
Updating all the chipset drivers from Nvidia (Nforce)
Tried
Downloaded all possible updates/patches from Microsoft Update, no joy!
Read that you can change registry settings to make it think it is SP2, Microsoft KB888111. Did so, no joy.
Have I mentioned I never got to call Stacy because it is still not working, it is three am and I want to slap around the 5000 people I read on forums from my Google searches who ignore everything people say and tell them to see if their speakers are turned on. Microsoft does not admit to this being an issue, they have no resolution and it appears it is a wide spread and rather common issue.
I may have to reinstall my entire OS and all the software entirely because they cannot manage to detect a device that their OS shows as present and working! I am however using this post as a collation of all the suggested fixes for the “no audio device” problem since some people do report their issues resolved by one or more of the procedures above.

Okay, this is a continuation of the the posts here and here. In which I detail levels of suckiness as they have been predominant in my life lately. Yes, I have already admitted to this being very emo of me, but karma has been smacking me around.
22nd February, 2008 530am In a driving snowstorm we travel to the MRI clinic in Holly Michigan, and it looks as if the city and county are completely failing the morning rush crowd yet again. The roads at every level from side street to Interstate have not been plowed, salted or touched except by other traffic. I get to experience the MRI tunnel for an estimated 18 minutes! To keep myself sane while being loaded like a torpedo I use the simple expedient of running over the entire In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida song in my head. Let me stress that both the person working the front desk there and the MRI tech were both some of the best people I have met in the medical profession.
22nd February, 2008 0900 My wife manages the superhuman task of dropping the kids off at their north eastern suburban school, and getting me back to the south suburb containing the Hospital and Doctors office, all in under an hour. While we are waiting, Stacy points out an article on the wall about a woman who had already been diagnosed as having just a flu by 10 plus other doctors. But Dr. Lisa Guyot caught that she had a brain tumor with the end result being that she saved her life. I am comforted, but still in dread.
I now get to meet, the now famous in my mind, Dr. Guyot. She pops my MRI results (Link to a near full size You can see a moderate size at the bottom of this article) up on the wall, and shows where my spinal cord is a normal looking white line, then where it stops completely, resumes weakly, then stops completely again the next vertebra down, and then shows us a top down view showing how two of my discs are completely out of place. She then introduces Stacy and I to our new vocabulary words for the day “Laminectomy and Discectomy” and the code phrases “L3-4 and L4-5”. Let me sum this up for you, she recommends surgery. I still cannot beat the dread that surgery will result in bad things for me, so I ask about options and if I could possibly heal normally over time. She gives me the truth, which in summation is, perhaps over much time and pain. Time measured in years. Since then a solid net education has shown me the question was dumb, and a few medical professionals seeing my MRI’s have actually gone pale or flushed. So, I ask for a minute, Stacy and I talk, and I decide to hell with it, this doctor has the solid level of confidence that I demonstrate when fixing a computer hardware/software/network issue, so I suck it up and let her know we are ready to go. She really knows her stuff!
22nd February, 2008 – 10AM After being warned I may have to be catheterized to provide a urine sample before my surgery, I use the warm water method to provide said sample, No one who has ever experienced catheterization will willingly undergo it twice given an option :-)
22nd February, 2008 – 1130AM – I am taken back to be prepped for my surgery, where a nurse named Jennifer (matching the name of my ex-wife, setting my sense of dread up a notch) sticks various things in my flesh, and lets me know a nice person will be around soon to make me go beddy-bye. I start going over my life in my head because I figure this is my last chance to reconsider anything I have ever done. I find a good deal of peace, a good deal of sorrow and am actually shocked to find that I am free of a lot of the drama I have faced in life. My only concern is that I will never be able to spend another night living with Stacy, that my mother will be really bummed, and that I will never be able to make amends for any mistakes, and I have made a few ( … “And bad mistakes, I've made a few, I've had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I've come through”… oh great! Lyrics from a dead guy in my head) I get to see Stacy a last time, and try to do the stiff upper lip thing (While in the back of my head the tune to “Modern Major General” plays, so I realize the drugs are REALLY kicking in) but fail miserably.
22nd February 2008 – Sometime roughly between 1130AM and 3pm – I remember waking as I was wheeled into another room, and I try to be jocular in my drugged state because I expect to die in that room and figure it will be enough of a bad day for the people working there. I hear the words “combative” and that is it. Since then I have talked to a nursing professional who told me that people with strong personalities tend to freak a little as they go under and come out of anesthesia so the odds are that I was being combative, but I was trying to be a good guy.
22nd February, 2008 – Roughly 3pm I wake up and realize I am in a different room than the one I lost consciousness in, this is heartening, and I first try to move my legs and cannot, this really sucks! I call out, and a voice answers, and my first question is, “Am I okay?” When the voice answers in the affirmative I ask her name, then apologize for probably having asked that question before since I am hit with a sudden rush of déjà vu so I figure it is my fifth time asking the same question. Turns out her name is Gail and she is my recovery nurse. Around this time I start to finish my self-inventory and realize a few things. First, I can move my legs, but still do not have sensation in any place I had lost previously, but my feet are strapped into those little devices that inflate and deflate which once gave my mother weird hallucinations of roller skating while recovering from surgery. I have an oxygen line in my nose, the IV with the HUGE gauge that had been in my left hand was now in my right hand, and I was hooked up to a lot of wires and such. Lastly, but certainly most noticeable was that my back felt, well, PAIN, and oddly enough my chest was killing me. Also my head was more than a little woozy.
I asked Gail if the pain would be going away and I was told that some things had to occur before she could give me much more for it. The monitor kept being unhappy with my heart rate and oxygen level, so I was trying to casually breath in through the nose, out through the mouth thing since I have had practice over the years finding my happy place. Gail (The Angel Nurse of Recovery) told me something along the lines of what I was thinking, which was to think of a place that was happy. I told her I couldn’t do it without Stacy there, so I picked a spot in Northern Germany. Out in the woods behind The Bistro near Loruper Weg in Sogel Germany about late August, with the sun coming through the trees. I remember playing war games out there and during the breaks it was a great place to lay back and enjoy what were some very old woods. Imagined Stacy sitting there with me, and both of us just digging on the riff of a wonderful moment. Gail kept checking on me, and helping me out, she was the best single nurse I have encountered in my entire 38 years, she made me keep my head up during a rotten time and set the highest level of professionalism and patient care that I have ever imagined existing. (Gail Boone, 3rd Floor Recovery, Genesys Hospital!!!) She set a standard that most nurses SHOULD aspire to achieve.
Finally, I got to see Stacy again in the real world, and it was delightful! I blew the stiff upper lip thing again (…I am the very model of a modern Major-General….) but made it by, and I could tell she was hurting for me without a word being said. Gail the Wonder Nurse lets Stacy stay as long as she can, but then they have to clear her out and I start waiting for a room. Waiting….waiting…..(….” Here behind my wall, Waiting for the worms to come. ( worms to come. ) In perfect isolation, Here behind my wall, Waiting for the worms to come.” Drugs still working!!! But now they are onto Pink Floyd!)
I get the news that a room is ready for me, and they dispatch my mother who has been watching one of my stepdaughters while Stacy hopped out to take care of life (She had spent the entire day caring for others and needed food and shower) to the room. Waiting… They change the room I am getting! Waiting… Gail the Wonder Nurse manages to find my mother through the art of cell phonage and persistence and lets her slip into recovery along with Brienna to see my weakened state. I am actually glad my step daughter was there, because honestly, if it had been just my “Mommy” I might have broken out crying.
22 February 2008 – Now they finally move me to a room, which seems like a wonderful idea until I realize it means giving up the bed I have occupied for hours and actually having to MOVE, well, shift, movement is out of the question. The great news is that Stacy is on her way back, and Sara (without an H…heh! The things you remember while on morphine), my new nurse is both efficient, cool, and pretty to boot.
To be continued…


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This is a continuation of the article found here and yeah, I admit to whining a bit, but this IS a blog and if we are not emo occasionally we may have our blogging rights removed.

February 8th, 2008 – I manage to drag myself face first (Thanks low crawling techniques of the US Army!) from our living room futon into our bedroom, and after a few hours to recover and with Stacy doing her best to help, I get into bed. Later that evening (CHEER!) I manage to urinate into an empty milk jug like a bloody animal.

Mid February – I am trying to find a job during all this so it is making it even more fun! Trying to update my resume on a laptop while laying flat on your back and actually feeling the pins and needles sensation in your legs growing worse is not what anyone sane would define as something fun to do. I am so far gone on crappy drugs, and as an aside I think that perhaps the FDA should reexamine what those two drugs do to people, because I was seeing things, and even imagining my wife plotting against me. I also took the max prescriptions once or twice and went to talk to my Union people, which led to me learning that I had better just plan on finding a new job. It was clear that my position was not a top priority to them, I have a bad habit of speaking the truth and it makes politicians, union or otherwise, uncomfortable.

February 10th, 2008 – I managed to make it to the bathroom today, sensation loss increasing along with pain, but I am actually gaining some functionality.
February 11th 2008 – I can stand now, but I am basically faking it using arm strength and abdominal strength and a lot of crutch as my back seems to be completely useless. Once any downward or side to side pressure is applied to my lower back, my loss of sensation increases and my pain becomes so bad that a month later I still have bite marks inside my own mouth from trying to not let my wife know how badly I was hurting. I grow tired of the taste of blood. I have a follow-up at the doctor’s office today, I reiterate the loss of sensation, and the pain level etc and he has me x-rayed, which does not indicate anything abnormal. He schedules me for physical therapy this week and I am not looking forward to attending.

February 12th 2008- Physical Therapy – WOOOO, have to love knowing that I will find out just how bad this is going to hurt. John, my PT guy gives me a group of tests and realizes just how little strength and range of motion my right ankle possesses. He also notes that other than very slow, very planned movement I cannot do anything without suffering immensely as a variant from my regular suffering. I like him though; he seems to be genuinely concerned for my well being. I would highly recommend him, so if you are looking for a PT guy in the Flint area, just ask and I will send you his details.

February 13th 2008 – I cripple, limp, crutch, pull and semi crawl myself into a mandatory visit to the unemployment office, and found some surprisingly nice people there (I also found a flight of 5 steps that made me have to stop, cry and gather myself). That evening I have another bout of Physical Therapy, which accomplishes little but increasing my pain. I have to say again that the people there are very nice, from reception to the PT specialists.

February 14th 2008 – Valentine’s Day… Which does not mean much to us, because our first date was on a 15th of February. I had planned so many cool things for our 5 year date anniversary before my job was destroyed by magical budget deficits and I became nothing much more than a cripple. However, I had another PT appointment and I went and suffered through it, joking that people working in that career field must have to suppress their empathy, but it was pointed out that they can get a lot of satisfaction from seeing people improve. I am semi mobile using crutches but only by ignoring the grinding pain, the shooting pain, the burning pain, the, well, that 1-10 pain scale failed me because I was running a Spinal Tap level 11 pain.

February 15th, 2008 – I actually start a mean argument with Stacy because I am hurting physically and bumming out and feeling generally as if life is one rotten experience. This is not the first time I have wanted to be mean to her lately, I have actually laid in bed thinking she was plotting against me and hating me for being hurt.

February 17th, 2008 – I stop taking the Vicodin and Flexeril, there can be no denial at this point that I am delusional while on them and there is no sense in making my loved ones suffer with the loss of mental stability in exchange for their complete lack of relief.

February 18th 2008 – I had two temp crowns added to my mouth. Thanks Dr. Trina Floyd! aka Best Dentist in the Known Universe! See… I told you I had been biting down to control the pain. She was remarkably patient with the fact that I had to shift often, and interrupt her work because of my back.

February 19th 2008 – Another day of physical therapy, and while I am able to move better, the simple exercises completely wipe me out, and I have to be almost carried out of the place. Nothing seems to have improved since the first weekend after I started to hurt other than my ability to deal with the pain. Still no real strength in my right ankle, near total loss of sensation in my right leg which is now from above the knee down, pins and needles in my left foot and constant pain. In some ways, the pain seems less now, almost as if the receptors must be burned out from over use.

February 21st 2008 – Follow-up with my doctor, who is now back from being out of town and overwhelmed with patients, and my 11:45am appointment slips for hours. All the while Stacy sits patiently with me in the waiting room and watches me suffer we both read four complete National Geographic magazines. I know a lot more about Malaria in Africa, Oil Company Abuses in Africa, and just how sad Disney in Florida is, go ahead and quiz me :-) I finally get to see the doctor just before 2pm. The long wait was made worse by the fact that we are both more than a little concerned for Stacy already as she has some exploratory surgery scheduled for the 27th and is not feeling well herself. I repeat for the third time what my symptoms are to my doctor, stress the lack of value gained from the meds he has given me, and restate my concerns about loss of feeling and strength along with my pain. He seems to be really motivated to get me to see a specialist and have the situation examined at this point (To which I have to say, WOOOO) I can hear him calling around trying to get me into someone quickly which I really respect and he lets me know they will be scheduling me an MRI and getting me into a specialist as soon as possible. I just wish he had felt this way about it, and taken me seriously about my pain weeks ago rather than just letting me suffer.

Still February 21st, 2008 – I get a call from the Doc’s office confirming a 6am MRI for the next morning, and an appointment with a Dr. Lisa Guyot for 9am the same morning. Dr. Guyot personally calls me (Which is bloody well impressive, because I categorize her somewhere between genius and gift of karma) and asks me not to eat or drink after midnight in case she needs to operate the next day. At this point I completely break down, and start to have the worst feeling of dread. When the medical profession moves that quickly it is never GOOD, and when a prominent Board Certified* Neurosurgeon (Goooooogle!) calls you at home after 7pm it tends to upset your view of the universe. After hours of basically breaking down emotionally, Stacy and I finally go to sleep. My last conscious thought is just how convinced I am that if I have surgery it will result in death or paralysis.
* For all you Grey’s Anatomy fans, (and I admit sheepishly to being one) I think that anyone who would choose the character of Meredith Grey over that of Addison would be an idiot. An Addison who cheated is still 50 times the woman Meredith has ever shown herself to be, and the actress is 50 times sexier too :-)

To be continued…

The mayor of the city of Flint is a very successful business person, but it is clear that human relations are not his primary forte. This article is the closest the local paper has come to criticizing the current administration since the dealerships in his wife's name started to advertise there again. I want to make it clear that I am pro-union but sadly bothered by how often union means ineffective. And I realize this article is slanted very pro-union, but in Flint, Michigan, writers who are not taking that route, rarely retain any employment. On another note I know the story refers to the woman involved assaulting her husband and her boyfriend, but I am not sure that she assaulted two people, but rather this is an example of shoddy research and poor editorial oversight at the Flint Urinal.

Some interesting excepts
“FLINT – Flint police union officials said Thursday that Mayor Don Williamson wrongly suspended a patrol officer and a sergeant without pay for 29 days for “being rude” to a woman they were investigating.
“There was no cause for action against them,” Speer said about the suspended officers. “The mayor doesn't even know the story, the chief of police isn't even here, and a sergeant with an exceptional record is suspended without being allowed to give his side of the story.”
The woman's boyfriend, who lives on Susan Street, told police on June 12, she pulled into the driveway at a high rate of speed, attempted to run him over and rammed his parked vehicle
Union officials learned of the suspensions on Wednesday, the same day that two other police sergeants, James Hamilton and Draike Sparks, filed a lawsuit against Williamson and the city in U.S. District Court in Flint.
The unions have maintained the mayor's bureau is a political detail for Williamson. Scores of Flint police officers of all ranks filed complaints last year with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a result of the creation of the bureau.”
Here is an interesting note about the aforementioned mayors bureau, who was also recently seen passing out thinly veiled campaign propaganda at the local Farmers 's Market.
Have to love my hometown! I applaud you Flint Urinal! For rising above such articles as this one, where you identified a primary Williamson supporter and personal friend as “Wilson, a former Genesee County sheriff and longtime political insider” who just so happens to be the last Sheriff FORCED TO RESIGN from our county (and the first and only, and hopefully the last)
BTW we are celebrating our first murder free month of the year! ( so far )
Not shockingly, the city administration reversed itself today in yet another example of near criminally negligent management technique! There has been a constant revolving door of firings without cause, then having to pay back pay and benefits because of a rogue adminstration that ACTUALLY believes that the rule of man superceeds the rule of law, and continually places itself above the law. Which is exactly what I expect from a convicted felon like the mayor. I am not shocked that the Mayor took the side of a possible criminal over that of the police. Perhaps if he would stop stomping on their morale they would actually CUT the amount of crime in this city. I am just relieved this was settled before the mayor was directly responsible for losing the city yet more money. I wish he would collect his pay check and shut his mouth, the city would have millions more for essential uses if he did. With his salary at 4 cents a year we are overpaying him by about 4 million annually. Counting lawsuits he is most like gong to cost the city an entires years budget by the end of his first term in childish mistakes alone.

You know, I am highly disturbed by the shortsightedness of my fellow citizens and have railed against short term gains for long term losses before. I spoke about Walmart and their rapacious greed, I ranted about Verizon and the rest of the ISP's wanting to break net neutrality so they can take every last cent possible from consumers, and companies like StarForce that have basically decided you do not need to have control of your own computer. This preface is entirely because I have found something to recommend, but do not want anyone daring to think I am a corporate shill because I'd like to recommend Flint River Ranch Pet Food.
Well, the recent fiasco with pet food in the US had me thinking already (Thanks again Walmart for being a market leader in poisoning pets!) and I wondered why we are importing so much pet food. It really seems sad that it is cost efficient to import what is in essence a bulk product. I was especially concerned because it was not just Walmart causing this problem but it appears to be industry wide. Thanks to a coworker, I found this site (http://petfoodtracker.blogspot.com) that discusses the entire issue. The information there is rather interesting. Then in one of those “AHAH!” moments, I realized that she was behind the sale of high-quality pet food sold by a local business. The little startup is called Flint River Ranch and I would highly encourage people with pets to check it out. For one, my local area needs business to grow, because if we ever get rid of the convicted felon we have as mayor then some tax base will help the next guy work on removing our title as the third most dangerous city in the US. Those Compton pansies are whining about us stealing their props, I am waiting for the album “Straight Outta Flint to Someplace Safe like Compton” to hit the shelves.
Here's a little propaganda from the Flint, Michigan based Flint River Ranch;
-100% Satisfaction Guarantee!
-Shipped Fresh to Your Home via UPS. Free Shipping!
-Exceptional Customer Service- the old-fashioned way.
-All-Natural, Human-Grade Ingredients
-Twice Oven-Baked for Maximum Nutrient Absorption
-Nutritionally Complete and Balanced, Exceeding AAFCO Nutrient Profiles
-Recommended by Top Veterinarians, Trainers, and Breeders
-Free-Range Chicken and Lamb
-Concentrated for Efficient Digestion: Costs Less to Feed, Less Stool Cleanup
-No Unhealthy Fillers or By-products
-No Chemical Preservatives or Color Additives
-No Laboratory Testing on Animals
This stuff is is better for your pets than most of the food we get from fast food places for ourselves! I have to give these people credit for seeing a problem and stepping up to capitalize on it, while providing a needed product. We, as a country, need to start looking at utilizing our purchasing power in a way that is good for our future, and act as smart consumers. Plus, our cats like it, maybe yours will too!

I wake up this morning happy with the world, my wife is gorgeous, I do not have to work today and I have a great weekend planned. The only thing that has even peeved me this morning is the reality disconnect invovled with gasoline pricing (Thanks USAToday for all the news heh). When Oil was $40 a barrel, I was buying gas for $0.96 a gallon, filling up my 15.4 gallon tank for under $15.00. Zoom forward ten years to 1996. Now the same 15.4 gallon tank at $3.10 a gallon takes 45 bucks but oil is at $70 a barrel. Now the math here is simple to me, a 75% increase in their raw material costs equates to a 222% increase in end product. HEY! WTF?
Okay, lets say that the Bush Administration had imposed new environmental regulations that increased costs (LOL) then I would understand some of it. But other than some mandated fuel mixture changes that the industry knew about more than a decade in advance there has not been any. Well what about reinvestment, are the oil companies spending billions on R&D working to develop new energy sources? Again, No! Are the Oil companies spending money to upgrade their infrastructure to provide more efficient processing, less loss of material, better envionmental compliance, increased capacity or reliable fuel supply? No, they have not opened a new refinery in a decade and every hurricane crushes their ability to maintain the supply of fuel.
So if they are spending nothing that they do not have to, and their prices are up 222% hrmm I bet that is having an amazing effect on their profit margin (note to self DUH!)
ExxonMobil makes $10.4B in second quarter; oil prices pump up Shell, too
NEW YORK (Reuters) — ExxonMobil (XOM), the world's largest public oil company, said Thursday that quarterly profit surged 35%, pushed up by another quarter of sharply higher oil prices. Net income in the second quarter was $10.36 billion, or $1.72 a share, compared to $7.64 billion, or $1.20 a share, in the year earlier quarter. It was the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company. (emphasis mine)
Now I need to state, I am a firm beleiver that most of the time, a laissez faire policy is the best economic practice, but this is clearly the oil companies practicing predatory and rapacious pricing. When this happens the government needs to step in, just as they did back during the early days of oil companies. We need an anti-trust action because quite frankly the Standard Oil breakup was predominantly about refinery breakup, and there are so few refining facilities today that they are effectively producing the same result.
Take a look at the stock value of Exxon and Conoco the last decade;

You can see the raw data at MoneyCentral.msn.com (xom) and MoneyCentral.msn.com (cop). I see some companies in clear trouble here, they must need higher profits to keep up their incredible expenditures! LOL
Really, sigh, there is not much you can do about it. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans really seem that interested. They would rather argue about the meaning of marriage, or simply scream names at each other. I went from Moderate Republican until 96, to leaning left Republican in 2000, then to Libertarian in 2004. I would recommend more of you think about the party that you have selected and consider if they REALLY are what you want. Of the two main choices one cannot beat a man universally reviled as a moron, and the other selected a moron. Is that really what we should choose between? Hell the Republicans have swung so far right, only Michael Moore and logic stops me from considering being a Democrat. Think Different, Act Different, Vote Different.
For a minor aid in finding lower prices you can check out Gas Buddy but to be honest, your gain may not be worth the hassle in terms of numbers, remember at $3 a gallon, 3 cents is only a 1% difference.

Why Atari Sucks! aka DDO is DDOn't
Okay, so I let an old guildmate from Everquest talk me into playing Dungeons And Dragons Online (DDO) developed by Turbine, Inc. I may in fact do a belated game review some other time, but in brief, it is not silly cartoons like the World of Lamecraft, nor is it 5000 people running around bragging about their Mitril Chain Panties they were able to craft after acquiring the skill from 900 hours of repetitive clicking like Everquest2. But they released DDO with about 20% of the content it should have had, and now they are moving to make it more like World of Warcraft at the fastest rate they can, this is sad because even though WoW has a high percentage of the market, the half it does not have are the players who want something more than Pokeman(tm) Adult.
So I bought it, I even bought the Limited Edition. Then the screwups started on the behalf of Turbine and Atari. The Limited Edition means very little, a nicer box set, and some +5% movement boots. You will get a +5% movement in the first few days of playing and my main characters have 20% movement items. I went home, popped in my new DVD and it started to install, half way through, it died, file read error. So I tried again, then I tried to do a read of the entire DVD to copy it to good media just in case I got lucky, and still it could not read. No scratches, no flaws, just mismanufactured.
Back to Turbine's Tech Forums and they have this noted as a problem and offer a 1.8 gig download to install the game, ( but not the game I paid for, merely a LOWER resolution moderately gimped version) You can read about it from THEIR FAQ. So I downloaded and installed, then I began my much delayed and over paid for game. Log in, make a char and discover that I did not get the Limited Edition items. Back to Turbine's Tech Forums and I see that I have my work cut out for me, because I have to jump through hoops to get what I had already paid for.
Because this is what I have to provide to get what I already paid for;

* Your name
* A contact telephone number
* Your Limited Edition Account key
* The Box Part Number – The six character alpha-numeric code located on the back bottom right of your DDO box
* The CD Case part number – The seven character alpha-numeric code located on the inside bottom right of the CD jewel case
* The name of the retailer you purchased your Limited Edition from
* In order to verify your purchase of a Limited Edition, we must also ask that you scan your receipt and include it in your email it to us as an attachment. If you cannot scan your receipt, note that in your email and Customer Service will instruct you on alternatives.

So, basically I have to go far above what I would do for a USD$50 rebate. But all in all, they actually FIXED IT and in 48 hours from me putting material together that was like prepping for an IRS audit. So I am not entirely unhappy about the process, but the need for it goes to show that Turbine/Atari has problems actually releasing a game.
But due to some hardware problems I have had to reinstalled my OS lately a few times (MB died :-(), and at this point I am just copying the entire directory and moving it around each time, because installing the app from the 1.8GIG download ( THAT HAS NOT ONCE BEEN UPDATED) then requires an hour of downloads to get current. This sucks, so I want what anyone would want, a DVD that I paid for that WORKS.
Back to Turbine's Tech Forums;
When I get there I see;
If you are having problems installing the game due to a defective CD/DVD, we suggest you do the following:
1. Download the Dungeons & Dragons Online ™: Stormreach™ game software from http://download.turbine.com/ddo/ddo_client_install.exe.
Note: This download is large and you may want to use a download manager.
2. Install the game. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
3. Find instructions to replace your defective CD/DVD by visiting www.atari.com.
For all other support questions, please select the appropriate option above.
Okay, cool, so I head to Atari's site, and fill in the required form;

From: kylere@xxxxx.com [mailto:kylere@xxxxx.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2006 7:32 AM
To: US-SE-Tech1
Subject: Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach – XP : USA :
REQUIRED CUSTOMER INFORMATION (bunch of stuff best left out)
OPTIONAL CUSTOMER INFORMATION (same)
ISSUE DESCRIPTION
My DDO DVD does not work properly, I have to download the 2gig file to install it, and since the DVD was damaged out of box, I need a replacement. My Address is XXXXX I expect a replacement for this poorly manufacturered DVD immediately. I am aware this is a common issue, and I will not accept any answer other than it is in the mail. If the person answering this is not able to do so, you need to move it to your second tier support or supervisor.

Then I wait….and since I did not grow up on Mars, I do not grok patience well. 5 days later I get this email;

US-SE-Tech16 to me
Hello Michael,
I'm sorry, but if the game was damaged out of the box, we will not be able to offer a replacement.
US-SE-Tech16 (Jim)
Atari Customer Support
Tech16@atari.com
http://www.atarisupport.com

To which I reply;

Michael Reed to US-SE-Tech16
No, it was damaged prior to being taken out of box. It has never worked, and required me to download a 1.8gig file to play the game I have purchased. I need a copy of the original media that functions.

And amazingly, I get a response the same day, just as ignorant as before!

US-SE-Tech16 to me
What file did you download?
US-SE-Tech16 (Jim)
Atari Customer Support

Ohh I bet he is all happy, thinking he can track down some Pirate who downloaded it from their CORPORATE SITE! FOLLOWING THEIR INSTRUCTIONS. I hate incompetence, and this guy is obviously not working on all 8 cylinders! So I reply,and 5 days have now gone by without a response.

Michael Reed to US-SE-Tech16
Perhaps you should forward this to someone who is aware of the product at hand. It is clear that you need to escalate the issue. Do you have a supervisor I could email?

Still no reply, but I am not shocked, Atari is the company that entirely OWNED the gaming world, and through sheer stupidity gave it all away.

I want to restate that Comcast is a joke. They have zero customer service, and they are overselling, and underserving their customers. I hate Comcast, and I wish that Michael Moore and his fat pathetic ass had not screwed my hometown (not his, he is a rich fat whiteboy from Suburbia) to the point that we can no longer actually have a decent infrastructure. Michael Moore, I hope you choke on the next hotdog you cram down your lying throat, and the waves of force sent out by the wallowing of your rotund mass takes out the entire Comcast management, and most especially all those running things in Michigan.
I am not surprised that Comcast does not make an effort in Flint, but to add insult to injury they charge rates that are TWICE the national average, for uptime rates in the low 60's and ping timeouts to major sites. I do not care about net neutrality, I HOPE it fails because then Google will start its own ISP, and I can be done with the morons at Comcast.
Let me show you exactly what I get in my barely better than half the time uprate;
dslreports.com speed test result on 2006-05-19 18:04:47 EST:
679 / 369
Your download speed : 679 kbps or 84.9 KB/sec.
That is 86.2% worse than an average user on comcast.net
Your upload speed : 369 kbps or 46.2 KB/sec.
That is 7% worse than an average user on comcast.net

Guess what, due to the nature of both my and Sya's jobs we pay for a BETTER than normal connection that is supposed to be 8000kbps up and 768kbps down.
I realize that my hate is pointless, but living in a third world city that has not had a decent mayor since perhaps the 30's is wearing on me. Not bad enough that the average citizen in Flint is too dumb to rub sticks together, but then they vote exactly as the UAW tells them to, and we get yet more Union level leadership, and you can tell how well that is working for the UAW, aka the US AIN'T WORKING . These elected officials demand hand outs from the cable companies and place no responsibility on them. The damn shame is that thanks to the lies told by Michael Moore we will not get outside investment, we will not get a better education system, we will not have a serious hope to be anything other than a joke.
I realize this rant is all over the place, and Sya will probably want to delete it, but some things have to be said.
Why can I not find a doctor in Southeastern Michigan who can schedule an appointment in less than 2 weeks to see any patient? They all want you to go to urgent care place that stink like urine and make you wait for 4 hours before some quack who you will never see again gets to ask you personal questions? Good doctors do not practice in fly by night clinics, so I have to assume anyone that refers you to one cannot be a good doctor.
Why are all Auto Mechanics thieving punks? Trying to find an honest Mechanic is like trying to get online via Comcast, rare and very expensive.
Why is a felon allowed to hold public office? I do not care if they served their time, prisoners do not become good people, they become worse people.

Wal-Mart is the favorite store of the middle-class trash-crowd because they are easily mislead by its bait-and-switch business practices. For example, Wal-Mart has been known to set very low prices on a cheap import item predominately located at each section of the store then jack up the rest of the prices in the department to compensate. Being ignorant, the trash that shop there do not care about the long term impact of the employee's low wages, rotten health care and the amazing imbalance of foreign goods versus American. The great unwashed masses of the ignorant never seem to notice that all their local shops eventually close down, then Wal-Mart prices do not have to stay so low.
Let me give you some facts; (Taken from The High Cost of Low Price The Wal-Mart Movie

-WAL-MART Drives Down Retail Wages $3 BILLION Every Year
-WAL-MART costs $86 MILLION a Year to California Taxpayers
-ALABAMA: 3,864 Children of WAL-MART Employees are Enrolled in Medicaid
-ARIZONA: 2,700 WAL-MART Workers on Medicaid
-ARKANSAS: 3971 WAL-MART Workers on Public Assistance
-CONNECTICUT: 824 WAL-MART Workers Have Children in a State Heath Care Program
-FLORIDA: 12,300 WAL-MART Workers and their Dependents on Medicaid
-GEORGIA: 10,261 Children of WAL-MART Employees are Enrolled in PeachCare for Kids
-MASSACHUSETTS: 4,172 WAL-MART Workers and Dependents on State Health Care
-TENNESSEE: 9,617 WAL-MART Workers on TennCare
-TEXAS: 4,363 Children of WAL-MART Employees on CHIP
-WISCONSIN: 1,252 WAL-MART Employees and Dependents on BadgerCare
-WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to Support its Employees – WAL-MART and Full Time Status: In the film, a former Wal-Mart co-manager claims that store managers are told to “Keep the number of associates from being full time, as many as you can, keep many of them part time, as much as you can.” A paragraph in a recently released internal memo from Wal-Mart corroborates the co-manager's statement.
-$7,000 ANTI-UNION CAMERA PACKAGE per store
-$30,000 UNDERCOVER SPY VAN per store
-$100,000 24 hour ANTI-UNION HOTLINE
-$7,000,000 Rapid response team with CORPORATE JET
-$50 MILLION to settle an off-the-clock class action suit in Colorado
-Wal-Mart Managers delete time from workers' timecards
-Federal Poverty Level Family of Four – $17,650
-Average Wal-Mart Hourly Sales Employee Wages – $13,861
-Wal-Mart is facing a class-action lawsuit for discrimination against $1.6 million former and current female employees. Edith Arana was told by a manager, “There's no place for people like you in management…” – WAL-MART and Racial Discrimination. Wal-Mart disputes this but the fact is the EEOC noted that only one of the 20 drivers Wal-Mart hired in 2002 was black. The EEOC also noted that Wal-Mart hired some white drivers with more serious driving violations and less experience than black applicants.”
-WAL-MART SUBSIDY NATIONWIDE: $1.008 BILLION
-Currently in the U.S. there are 26,699,678 SQUARE FEET of empty WAL-MARTS
-1999: All new WAL-MART construction halted in state of PENNSYLVANIA due to Environmental Violations
-2001: EPA orders WAL-MART to pay $1.0 MILLION fine for Clean Water Violations in: TEXAS, OKLAHOMA AND MASSACHUSETTS
-2004: WAL-MART fined $3.1 MILLION by EPA, the largest ever for a retailer, for Clean Water Act violations in TEXAS, COLORADO, CALIFORNIA, DELAWARE, MICHIGAN, SOUTH DAKOTA, NEW JERSEY, TENNESSEE and UTAH
-2005: Connecticut EPA orders WAL-MART to pay $1.15 MILLION for Clean Water Act violations in 22 stores
-WAL-MART Imported $18 BILLION from CHINA in 2004
-The WALTON FAMILY Has Given LESS THAN 1% of Their Wealth to Charity
-Bill Gates of Microsoft has given 58%
-Wal-Mart currently faces lawsuits in thirty-one different States for wage and hour abuses potentially involving hundreds of thousand workers.
* Wal-Mart Wage and Hour “Off the Clock” Class Actions:
1. Adcox v. WM, US Dist. Ct. (“USDC”), Southern Dist. of TX, 11/9/04;
2. Armijo v. WM, 1st Judicial Dist. Ct., Rio Arriba County, NM, 9/18/00;
3. Bailey v. WM, Marion County Superior Ct. IN, 8/17/00;
4. Barnett v. WM, Superior Ct. of WA, King County, 9/10/01;
5. Basco v. WM, USDC, Eastern Dist. of LA, 9/5/00;
6. Braun v. WM, 1st Judicial Dist. Ct. Dakota County MN, 9/12/01;
7. Braun v. WM, Ct. of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, PA, 3/20/02;
8. Brown v. WM, 14th Judicial Circuit Ct., Rock Island, IL, 6/20/01;
9. Carr v. WM, Superior Ct. of Fulton County, GA, 8/14/01;
10. Culver v. WM, USDC, Dist. of CO, 12/10/1996;
11. Carter v. WM, Ct. of Common Pleas, Colleton County, SC, 7/31/02;
12. Gamble v. WM, Supreme Ct. of the State of NY, County of Albany, 12/7/01;
13. Gross v. WM, Circuit Ct., Laurel County, KY, 9/29/04;
14. Hale v. WM, Circuit Ct., Jackson County, MO, 8/15/01;
15. Hall v. WM, 8th Judicial Dist. Ct., Clark County, NV, 9/9/99;
16. Harrison v. WM, Superior Ct. of Forsyth County, NC, 11/29/00;
17. Holcomb v. WM, State Ct. of Chatham County, GA, 3/28/00;
18. Hummel v. WM, Common Pleas Ct. of Philadelphia County, PA, 8/30/04;
19. Iliadis v. WM, Superior Ct. of NJ, Middlesex County, 5/30/02;
20. Kuhlmann (In Re: Wal-Mart Employee Litigation) v. WM, Circuit Ct., Milwaukee County, WI, 8/30/01;
21. Lerma v. WM, Dist. Ct., Cleveland County, OK, 8/31/01;
22. Lopez v. WM, 23rd Judicial Dist. Ct. of Brazoria County, TX, 6/23/00;
23. Mendoza v. WM, Superior Ct. of CA, Ventura County, 3/2/04;
24. Michell v. WM, USDC, Eastern Dist. of TX, Marshall Div., 9/13/02;
25. Montgomery v. WM, USDC, Southern Dist. of MS, 12/30/02;
26. Mussman v. WM, IA Dist. Ct., Clinton County, 6/5/01;
27. Nagy v. WM, Circuit Ct. of Boyd County, KY, 8/29/01;
28. Newland v. WM, Superior Ct. of CA, Alameda County, CA, 01/14/05;
29. Osuna v. WM, Superior Ct. of AZ, Pima County, 11/30/01;
30. Pickett v. WM, Circuit Court, Shelby County, TN, 10/22/03;
31. Pittman v. WM, Circuit Ct. for Prince George's County, MD, 7/31/02;
32. Robinson v. WM, Circuit Ct., Holmes County, MS, 12/30/02;
33. Sago v. WM, Circuit Ct., Holmes County, MS, 12/31/02;
34. Romero v. WM, Superior Ct. of CA, Monterey County, 03/25/04;
35. Salvas v. WM, Superior Ct., Middlesex County, MA, 8/21/01;
36. Sarda v. WM, Circuit Ct., Washington County, FL, 9/21/01;
37. Savaglio v. WM, Superior Ct. of CA, Alameda County, 2/6/01;
38. Scott v. WM, Circuit Ct. of Saginaw County, MI, 9/26/01;
39. Smith v. WM, Circuit Ct., Holmes County, MS, 12/31/02;
40. Thiebes v. WM, USDC, Dist. of OR, 6/30/98;
41. Willey v. WM, Dist. Ct. of Wyandotte County, KS, 9/21/01;
42. Williams v. WM, Superior Ct. of CA, Alameda County, 3/23/04;
43. Wilson v. WM, Common Pleas Ct. of Butler County, OH, 10/27/03;
44. Winters v. WM, Circuit Ct., Holmes County, MS, 5/28/02.
* Source: Wal-Mart Stores 10K Filing, March 31, 2005, Pg. 16, Item 3.

If this does no convince you by itself, PBS has also done a documentary on Wal-Mart so don't take my word on it. You can SEE the documentary on the PBS Website, which is less biased but no less disturbing to the economically aware, especially in light of the fact that the CEO of Wal-mart is now asking for MORE (forbes.com) government help right after revealing a “Value Plan” that has no value, and will certainly not help the majority of their employees. Communities all over the country are being ruined by their rape, pillage, and plunder style of corporate creed.
I took a trip to Three Rivers, Michigan this weekend. Both my wife and I were happy to see they are a small town that is alive with multiple small local businesses. As we drove into the downtown area, we both commented that the town must be lacking a Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, before we left Three Rivers we found out they have one coming. We were told the local businesses were making drastic plans in the effort to stay alive. What a shame it is that they have no chance at all. Within 3 years their downtown area will be a ghost town. Please do not shop Wal-Mart and if you do, I wash my hands of you, and like Pilate, would not object to your crucifixion.
Important Sites for Self-Education;
Wal-Mart Watch
Wal-Mart Movie
PBS Frontline

This place is a bloody freaking joke, miscast, poorly directed, poorly selected plays, dirty conditions, run down appearance, etc. Basically they are frustrated wannabe thespians who were denied real parts in high school. Now they are desperately seeking their second chance at any pathetic local fame they can achieve as they ruin the nights of theatergoers who would like to have a chance to see a production.
I like to give local places a chance because I feel supporting the arts is important, but these people do not deserve your support. After ruining our night last night they magnify the insult even MORE by updating their website with information pertaining to the play I had wanted to see that they are NOT ACTUALLY PERFORMING. You can see the story from yesterday here in case you missed it.

I am not surprised since the quality of their website appears to be that approached by a 16-year-old, clad only in underwear, sitting in their mommies basement running MS word and saving as HTML. Add in that one of the DIRECTORS (Greg) of the Greater Flint Area Art Council took a credit card order for a production that is ADVERTISED in the paper, and on the website WHICH IS NOT BEING PERFORMED!
I wash my hands of the demonstrated incompetence of the following;
Greg at the Greater Flint Area Arts Council
The Greater Flint Area Arts Council
Buckham Alley Theatre
I hope in a way that these bloody BASTARDS screw up and charge my credit card, because I will make their lives a living hell.