Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Replacements

The past two weeks have been interesting. Since I last posted I have been to the beach and back. I have also been dealing with replacements.

For me, replacements are new items that have no new benefits or features. They are just substitutes for objects that no longer work. They add nothing. They only fix the status quo and make you pay for being able to do the same things as you could before. Here is a list of my recent replacements.
  • Clothes Iron - The old one could only take so many falls from atop its ironing board perch. It started to leak water constantly, even in the upright position. We got a new one.
  • Water Heater - I came back from the beach and turned the temperature on the old water heater from “vacation” back up to “warm.” It started hissing at me and proceeded to dump 15 gallons of water all over the floor. We got a new one.
  • Fuel Pump in the Corsica - There has been some controversy about this one. There is a chance that the car ran out of gas and ruined the old fuel pump. There is also a chance that the pump went on its own (the car has almost 82k miles on it). I'm going with the natural causes, even if it is just to make me feel better. Regardless of the blame, we got a new one.
You see? I have no more benefits than I did before. My ironing, showering, and driving are the same. The money is gone, but I really have nothing to show for it.

As if that wasn't enough replacing for two weeks' time, the story gets better. When we came upstairs from mopping up after the old water heater, we started sifting through our vacation backlog of mail. One of the letters was from DSW. It shared with us the following information:

"As you may have read or seen in local or national media reports, DSW was the victim of a significant theft of customer data.

...we have now verified that your credit card was among the customer information that was stolen."

Don't tell me - I need to get a replacement credit card. Sure, why not. I just wish that all of the replacements were as sorry for their respective inconveniences as DSW claims to be.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sweating With The Oldies

Some of the drama! Very little of the pageantry! The 10th semiannual Summer Senior Olympic Games are being held in Pittsburgh through June 18th.

Apparently there aren't enough old people roaming around town in the late springtime, so we've decided to invite about 10,400 more. And not just regular elderlies. Izzy Mandelbaum types. They'll be sauntering through all of the usual Summer Olympic events (in fact, if you've never seen an 85 year-old woman throw a shot put you should click here).

But the fun doesn't stop with track & field and swimming. There are also scheduled events in racquetball, horseshoes, and, of course, shuffleboard. Followed by personal accounts of The Great Depression, a visit to the lottery ticket booth, and shopping at Kohl's with the senior discount.

These games claim to be more about promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle than the competition itself. But I was watching the news the other day and some lady on the defending champion softball team was talking trash about winning the title again. As she yelled into the reporter's microphone, she pointed at the camera like some professional wrestler. I'm not sure that she was concentrating on the fitness aspect.

I don't mean to make too much fun of the athletes. They are the best in the U.S. at their sports, and they are in better shape than I am. In the 100+ age group, Sam Pate won a bowling gold medal when he finished his third game with a strike and 6 straight spares. A Senior Olympic gold in bowling is one of my goals when I am 103 years old, too. Right after "being alive" and "still able to eat solid foods."

I actually consider myself an honorary old person. Let's look at the facts - I am semi-retired, relatively curmudgeonly, and I drive a powder blue Chevy Corsica. I'm just not quite old enough, yet. But I'm working on it. Day by day. I am already in training to take part in the 2027 Senior Games (in my first year of eligibility).

But for now I might as well cash in on the estimated $30 million that is expected to be brought into the Pittsburgh area because of the Olympiad. I'm heading downtown tomorrow with a trunk full of hearing aid batteries and few pair of black socks that will hopefully be sold for a profit by 3:00 or 3:30 pm. Just in time for dinner.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

A Wasted Hour

I got some digital pictures printed at Ritz yesterday. The process takes one hour. It is relatively pointless to try to go home and come back, since that would take a majority of the 60 minutes. So I wandered around the South Hills Village Mall. It went something like this...

Minutes 0 - 6: I walk down to the Cingular store. Our one year cell phone contract with AT&T is up, and since they merged with Cingular I wanted to see if we would be better off switching to a new plan. You know, with the "Rollover" minutes that you hear so much about. In short the answer is no.

Minute 7: I am stopped by a guy at the T-Mobile kiosk who is trying to talk to me about my cell phone plan. His "deal" is more expensive and has less included minutes than I am getting now. I tell him that I just signed a contract and I have a whole year to go. He quickly gets disinterested in talking to me, which was the point.

Minutes 8-15: GameStop is my next, well, stop. I figure that I can waste a bunch of time playing the video games they have set up in the front of the store. Unfortunately, both demo consoles are broken. A kid pushes past me and starts banging on the controller of one of the demo units, and I quickly understand why neither is working properly.

Minutes 16-17: I get back to walking since PlayStation 2 games in their boxes aren't all that exciting. As I pass Abercrombie & Fitch, I decide that I could take steps to become more stylish.
Step 1 - Throw away my iron and ironing board.
Step 2 - Start a savings account to purchase jeans.
Step 3 - Figure out why the music is so loud in there.

Minutes 18-20: Food Court time. There is always a guy standing outside the Asian fast food place with samples. I try some saucy chicken on a toothpick. I turn my baseball cap around and come back from the other direction. He offers another taste. Yummy.

Minutes 21-32: A stop in the Yankee Candle store is usually fun for me. I like to smell candles. But today I am the only customer in the store, and the guy working there is a little too into his job. He explains the limited edition scents and the layout of the store, and then he keeps talking. About candles. He finally leaves me alone, but I overdo it on the smells. Raspberry Cream puts me over the top and I start to get nauseated.

Minutes 33-38: I recover from the candle store on a mall bench.

Minutes 39-46: Gap. Straight to the men's clearance section in the back left corner of the store. Nothing is interesting today unless you have a 28" waist. I do not.

Minutes 47-54: I decide to just walk around until I find a store that I want to visit. I do 3 laps without stopping anywhere.

Minutes 55-59: Since all of my ideas are used up, I walk back down near Ritz and have a seat. This happens to be right by the children's play area, and I witness a little girl attempting to climb up the slide. She catches her foot on the top and rides down on her face. Her subsequent screaming annoys the businessman sitting opposite me, and he starts talking louder on his hands-free cell phone contraption. This makes it easier to eavesdrop on his conversation about the big client meeting (and what an idiot some guy named Steve made out of himself).

Minute 60: It is finally time to get my pictures. They are just coming out of the back when I get to the counter.

What a waste of an hour. The only things I have to show for it are some decent printed photos and a couple of toothpicks. And a Yankee Candle catalog. Don't laugh - it has a scratch & sniff page.