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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hmmm. The Ball Was Where?

This is a short video from my son Callahan's basketball game in 2010.  His friend Jaxon takes the ball in for the shot and it gets stuck.  Now, I have seen many a ball get stuck in the net but never on the . . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nextar-Give Us $75 And We Will Destroy Your GPS For You

As you probably guessed, this is the next installment of a bad customer service experience.  About 4 years ago, I purchased a Nextar GPS and LOVED it.  I proclaimed it the greatest invention of all time, slightly ahead of the wheel. . .

and the Chia Lionel Richie.

We named her Trudy (you have to name your GPS).  And, oh the voice.  That sweet, sweet melodic voice with that accent unfamiliar to any language spoken in the world (kinda like Arnold Schwarzenegger).  I would hold her stylus as we would prance through meadows of rustling daisies.

I mean sure we had our bickerings like when she would constantly nag me to "Make a U-Turn if possible" but for the most part, we got along great.  As the years rolled on, she became a little less sure of herself and her routes.  Sometimes, there were newer roads that she didn't even know about so I decided to give her the GPS equivalent of a "boob job" and get her the updated map.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this because the update cost $75 on a $100 GPS but I already knew how to use this one and it was very user-friendly.  It made it onto my Christmas list and I got it as a combined present from my parents and siblings.  Excitedly, I installed it but really had no trips planned to give it a test.  Finally, in May, we flew out of Indianapolis for California.  She did not do so well.  If I could get her to speak at all, it was a miracle.  That was not like her.  When I got to California and was driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, Trudy inexplicably started taking me off and right back on EVERY exit of a huge traffic jammed artery along the way.  About the 3rd time of this, I realized what she was doing and shut her down.  I was on my own now in a major city with no directions.  Lastly, I realized that she was not picking up my new location.  In other words, when I arrived at my destination, she still showed me as being where I left from. When I returned home, I called the Nextar customer service and after a 45 minute wait was immediately met with "Why did you wait so long to report this (4  1/2 months)?"  I explained that I got it for Christmas but had no trips planned until now, so I had no real reason to use it.  At first, it went well and they told me to send it back and they would fix it for free.  I promptly sent it back to them and a month later, it came back.  I excitedly opened the package and tried it out.  It was not fixed at all and in fact, still showed me as being in California when I turned it on.  I mean, sure, I wish I was still in California, but I wasn't.  It was unfortunate because it was now softball season where I could really be using it.  I also had tried to just put my old map back in but the geniuses made it so that once you put in a new map, there is no going back to the old map.  The old map still gives you directions but no voice commands if you put it back in.  So, I got back on the horn to Nextar and after a 45 minute wait, I convinced them to just send me a replacement.  Another month goes by and a package arrives.  I tear it open in anticipation and there it is, my old GPS staring back up at me.  45 minutes later, I am talking to the person I had talked to before that promised me a new GPS and the conversation went almost exactly like this.

Corey-"You told me that you were sending me a new GPS because you guys turned my old one into a paper weight."

Customer Service-"We didn't turn your old one into a paper weight."

Corey-"Well, not for free.  You charged me $75 to turn it into a paper weight."

Customer Service-"It's not a paper weight."

Corey-"Your map update completely destroyed it, thus turning it into a paper weight."

Customer Service-"We didn't purposely turn your GPS into a paper weight."

Corey-"Regardless, that is what it is now, a paper weight.  You also told me that you were sending me a new one and today, I just received my old paperweight back in the mail."

Customer Service-"Yeah, we had a meeting and decided to do away with the replacements."

This is where if this were a cartoon, your hand would be cramping from typing all of the "!@#$%^&!@##$%^!@#$%^".  The following is what I screamed at the top of my lungs but in reality, you would have to insert a cuss word in between each word in the sentence.


Customer Service-"Sir, why are you yelling?"


Customer Service-"We are not liars."

Corey-"Did you tell me that you were giving me a new GPS?"

Customer Service-"Yes."

Corey-"Now are you telling me that you are not giving me a GPS?"

Customer Service-"Yes."

Corey-"You do know what lying is, right?"

Customer Service-"Yes.  Hold on a minute."

There was a brief break in the yelling and then she came back.

Customer Service-"Okay, we will send you an unopened one but it probably will be an older model than the one you had."

Fantastic.  So, basically my $75 update got me a lesser model GPS with an older map.  Money well spent.  I could not believe that it took all of that to get what I was promised in the first place.  I really couldn't believe all of the discussion about whether my GPS was in fact now a paper weight.

The new one came a month later when softball season was over.  It is very user-unfriendly but at least it works.  The only benefit it has over the old one is that it has games on it.  It still is a giant U-Turn nag. I really don't like this different model at all.  Maybe I'll just buy an update and turn it into a paper weight.

Monday, August 29, 2011

If A Tree Fell In My Office, Would Anyone Notice?

This is not a joke.  Around 6 months ago, I hung a sheet of paper on my cubicle wall.  It was an experiment done in the name of science and stupidity.  Anyways, here it is.

As you can see, it is not particularly hidden and people walk by it constantly all day long.  I was just curious to see how long it would take someone to notice it and comment.  Wanna see a closeup?

I know it's a stupid, old bit but hey, I can only stick so many pencils up my nose for entertainment here.  To date, only 1 person has noticed it and that is the cleaning girl.  She does not have a cubicle so the gag is kinda lost on her.  Unfortunately, Annie (my sister) is now disqualified because she will read it in my blog.  Family probably should be disqualified anyways (don't want to taint the results).  Maybe I should pony up a secret prize package to make it more interesting.  I will root around in my desk for some treasures.  TO THE WINNER GOES. . . Drum roll please.

 A slightly used container of Carmex from the mid 1990's, a partially dried up bottle of white out (actually now it's more like gray out), and an expired, very dirty Antiseptic Towelette.  You need the Antiseptic Towelette to wipe off your hands from touching the Antiseptic Towelette wrapper.  Good Gawd, I really need to clean out my desk.  Okay, no cheating now, and let the games begin.  I will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Insult Letters #2

In an earlier post (Feel the Love), I mentioned that my sister Annie and I work at the same place.  One day, the secretary told Annie that she felt sorry for me because I never had anything in my mailbox.  In some families, this would be a Hallmark moment for a "Thinking of You" or "Cheer up" card.  In our family, it has led to years of back and forth insult letters that still goes on today.  The following is another exchange of our "hate" mail.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Google Maps, The Movie

Guess what I am addicted to in my spare time.  I love to just get on Google Maps and do street views all over the place.  I love to just explore the towns by clicking down all of the streets.  Particularly fascinating to me is doing this in Mexico.  By doing this, I have pretty much concluded that no matter where you street view in Mexico, every town looks the same.  I am amazed at some of the areas these people drove down in Mexico to get these shots, yet Clinton, IL only has one street view down Grant.  I know if I ever move to Mexico, I am going to be a spray paint salesman.  I would live in a big mansion.  Tourists would come down and say, "Who lives in that huge estate?  Drug kingpin?"  "No, ees spray paint salesman."

Cabo, Mexico on the West side.

Cancun, Mexico on the East side on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Cuidad Juarez, Mexico  on the North side right across the border from Texas.  Yes, this is where all of the murders take place.

And lastly, Mazatlan, Mexico on the Southern side.  

See what I mean about looking the same.  It's all bars on windows and graffiti.  Never the less, I loved visiting there.  You know what I always thought would be wild.  What if someone was just randomly street viewing trying to find the way to the Piggly Wiggly by their house and happened to stumble upon a cheating spouse.  It would be like, "Okay, let's see.  Out my front door, turn right on Water Street.  Work my way down to Elm.  Wait a minute."  

"What's that in that restaurant window?  Ulp. . . . Margaret?"

Or what if you were a detective assigned to solve a homicide and you decided to just street view the crime scene to see what kind of neighborhood it was.  As you work your way down the street, "Hmmm, head up White street, past the Palms apartments.  Whoah.  Hold up.  What's that?"

"Well, looky there.  Tim did it.  I knew it was that bastard.  APB on Tim."  This should be a movie of the week.  I guess that would be a pretty short movie though.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Corey in Cali #2 (Universal Studios)

This is my video of the Universal Studio Tour in Hollywood.  It is just treated as a ride in the amusement park.  The studio and the park are connected and there are giant escalators taking you from the top to the bottom of the park.  Sorry the quality isn't the greatest.  I took the video from a camera.  I love how of all the frames in the video, my video editor chose the shot of my knee as the still frame.  I'm sure I could change it but I found this funny.

The breakdown of the video is:
00:00-00:43     Movie autos such as the Magnum P.I. Ferrari, Lovely footage of my knee, The Fast and The Furious cars, a car wreck show, and Jurassic Park vehicle.    
00:44-01:05     Flood.
01:06                Lyon Estates entrance from Back to the Future.
01:07-01:45     Old street, Port Royal from The Pirates of the Carribean.
01:46-02:51     Earthquake where the street collapses into the subway.
02:52-03:01     Jaws.
03:02-05:42     Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives or the street from The Burbs, whichever is your poison.
05:43-06:10     Whoville.
06:11-07:02     The Bate's Motel from Psycho.
07:03-07:20     Norman Bate's house from Psycho.
07:21-08:08     Airplane crash from Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds.
08:09-09:00     Cabin from The Great Outdoors.

Now for some stills from around the park and tour.

The capsule from Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks.  You could just walk right up to it.

Johnny Carson's desk.  Imagine the people that sat in front of this.  Oh, if that desk could only talk.

One of Biff's goons hover boards from "Back to the Future".  It had pie tins on the bottom of it to hold it off the ground.

Universal Studios from the upper part of the amusement park.

Stock city street.

What those fake facade buildings look like on the back.  Pretty cool, huh?

The "Deathmobile" from an all-time classic "Animal House".  Can't you just see Belushi popping up out of that in his pirate costume.

A car from the Marx Brothers and of course Tom Selleck's Ferrari from "Magnum, P.I.".

The infamous Delorean from "Back to the Future".  I can't believe these just sit outdoors and not under cover.

A vehicle from "Jurassic Park".

A timed flood in the Mexican village at Universal.  I guess this has been in several movies.

Just a random, ethnic looking building.  They said on the tour that they can change the supposed "country" of these buildings just by changing the signs on the buildings.

Old west part of the studio.  This is where a lot of John Wayne westerns were filmed.  They said that every old west street on the lot had a saloon, bank, hotel, and sheriff's office.  This was because in the silent movie days, they might have 8 different movies shooting at the same time on the different streets.

Several of the doors were just open with no one around.  I thought this was odd.  You could see in from the tram and I was dying to hop off and go explore.

Courtyard area from "The Scorpion King" and Genovia from "The Princess Diairies".

More Genovia from "The Princess Diairies".

The Earthquake ride where the street collapses into the subway.  This is where the gas tanker from the street above slides down the collapsed road towards our tram and bursts into flames.

From the same ride, this is where the subway comes in and hits the collapsed road.  This forces it to buckle and careen right at our tram.

See Jaws popping up right by our tram?

The house from Burt Reynold's and Dolly Parton's "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas".  They said that this house was rare because it was built like an actual house so they could film inside and outside of it.  Usually, inside shooting is done on a soundstage.

This was one of the coolest things on the tour even though I had never seen the show (I forced myself to watch parts of a few episodes when I got home).  Yes, it is Wisteria Lane from "Desperate Housewives".  These houses and street have been used multitudes of times over the years.  My favorites are "The Burbs" and "The Munsters".

The former Munster's house on Wisteria and The Klopek's house from "The Burbs".

Tom Hank's house from "The Burbs" and "Leave it to Beaver" house.

Walter's house from "The Burb's".

The outdoor set for Whoville from Jim Carrey's "Then Grinch".  The strange thing about Whoville is that it is literally about 3 feet from . . .

The Bate's Motel from "Psycho".  See Whoville behind it?

Norman Bates put a body in the trunk and then came out to attack the tram.  Too bad he couldn't have snuck around back and taken care of that mean mayor from Whoville.

We drove right through the airplane crash from Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds".  They bought a real plane, cut it up, and brought it in in pieces. 

The wreckage was strewn clear to the back of the Psycho house.  See it in the background?  Norman could have had all of the bodies he wanted.

The house from one of my favorite movies "The Great Outdoors".  Can't you just see Dan Akroyd and John Candy standing right there trying to figure out how to get rid of the bat.  If you watch the movie where they are looking out over the forest and lake.  That was not real but projected on a GIANT screen behind the cabin which they used for backgrounds in other movies as well. RIP John Candy.

Lastly, another iconic car from one of the greatest movies ever, "The Blues Brothers".  The sun glasses and half a pack of smokes were on the dash.  RIP John Belushi.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Corey in Cali #1

Andi used to get sent all over by State Farm and while she had to work, I often tagged along for a free hotel room.  This led to a lot of me "doing my own thang".  Which as a 2nd shift worker, doesn't bother me to do things by myself.  You get used to it.  Last year, they sent her to California and since I had never been, I jumped on that one.  We were staying in San Diego in a very nice hotel on the bay, but my sightseeing heart belonged to Los Angeles.  So, I rented a car, pardon me-a sweet car, for the 2 hour drive to L.A. that I did twice.  Today, I will just cover the San Diego part of the trip and the Los Angeles sights that I saw not at Universal Studios.

This is me in the Mustang Convertible.  I originally was too cheap to pay for that the whole time.  The plan was to take the cheap rental back half way through the trip and then just have the good car for the last half.  When I saw how far the car rental place was from the hotel, I talked myself into the convertible the whole time (I wasn't too hard to convince).  

The Manchester Grand Hyatt on the Bay in San Diego.  There was a Navy base across from it and I was able to plop myself in front of the window with beer and watch war ships go in and out all day.  It was a beautiful hotel that overlooked a decommissioned aircraft carrier that was turned into a museum.

Now for the wild part.  This is the exact aircraft carrier that Andi's dad served on for 4 years in the late 1950's and early 1960's.  Everything we saw and touched, we wondered if he had saw and touched the same things so long ago.

The museum actually just let you wander around through all of the little tunnels all by yourself.  That was really a cool way to see all of the little nooks and crannies.  Did I just say "nooks and crannies?".  This was one of the several mess halls.

These were the tiniest bunks EVER!  I can guarantee that I would barely have fit on this and ALL of your belongings had to fit below the mattress.

They were filming an episode of "What Not To Wear" on the deck while we were there.  I don't know.  She looked okay in that.  Me?  I'm not so sure.

We thought this sign was funny.

I went to the Beach by San Diego while Andi was working.  The concierge directed me to Coronado Beach at the Coronado Hotel on Coronado Island.  The water was freezing in May so I just got in for little spells.  The hotel was a really old-time looking, fancy hotel with lots of history.  I didn't find out until I got back that this is where Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like It Hot" was filmed.  Other than losing the convertible underground for an hour (I couldn't find the underground garage-yes, I am a dork), it was a great day.  At the end of the trip, Andi was finally done working so we headed to L.A. for one night.  It was tough leaving the Hyatt for the Motel 6.  Don't ask about that one.  The check-in desk was behind bullet proof glass.  We survived.

This is the Capitol Records building.  They say that everyone has recorded there from the Beatles to Everclear.  It was just a hop, skip, and a jump from our 1 night in L.A. hotel. 

How would you like to own this house?  It really looked like the sign was almost sitting on top of it in person.  That song where they say "There's a party on the rooftop.  Top of the world tonight, tonight.  And we're dancin' on the edge of the Hollywood sign" always makes me think of this house.

This look familiar to anyone?  It's from "The Naked Gun" when Frank Dreben tells Ed that everything reminds him of Jane.  HA HA.  It actually is the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Clemente, CA.

Of course, we had to go to Grauman's Chinese Theatre and see the footprints and handprints.

You would think he could have left a little room for his costar in his square (see "The Informant" post).

They should have put a cuckoo on there instead of a record.

I wasn't always this cool.  It's taken me years to reach this level of coolness.

And now for the highlight of this and anyone's trip.  It is me at the REAL Brady Bunch house.  No, there was no real filming done there.  It is just the house that they show between shots.  In fact if you look at the picture and then watch the show, the layout on the inside doesn't match the design of the outside.  On the show, the front door opens to be facing the stairs to go upstairs but as you see here, the door opens to face the back of the house (which in real life was the Los Angeles river or the giant concrete storm sewer).  Also, the window on the front on the upstairs was just a fake that they tacked on for the shot for the show (they thought it looked like it needed one there).  If you ever go, the address is revealed on my last photo of the "Now and Then" shot.

We drove for what seemed like forever to get to this and actually find it.  Andi was less than thrilled and impressed to see the "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" house (maybe it's our 5 year age difference).  Now this house is where a large portion of the film was actually filmed.  It was amazing that they could pull this off as this was in a very tight residential area.  Right in front of that white car is where Mark and Damone peeked over the fence to go back and swim.  I would have killed to go back and see the pool where Phoebe Cates took her . . . uh, never mind.  The window right there is where Jennifer Jason Leigh crawled out to go meet Ron Johnson the stereo salesman.  The following picture is a montage of "Then and Now" Brady and Fast Times houses with the addresses.