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Things I find irritating: Retail

I’m putting off doing important stuff so here’s a procrastination blog.

These are things that retail and other vendors do that I find irritating:

1.) Charge me more money for clothing because I am tall.  This makes no sense at all. I’m 5’9″ tall, which is 5 inches over the limit for the average American female.  It’s not like I could help being tall.  I just grew like Topsy well into my 20’s.  (2 inches between 23 and 27, go figure).  So, it’s really irritating to go to a site like Eddie Bauer and see that every item for a tall person is $10-20 more expensive.  At the risk of pissing off a lot of people who read this blog, I find it really unfair that a size 14 doesn’t have to pay one cent more than a size 6.  Most people can lose weight with diet and exercise.  But I can’t lose inches in height without surgery.  You’d *think* that if they are going to add more fabric in the middle of the garment without extra cost that they could add a few inches in length without extra cost but for some mysterious, inexplicable reason, this isn’t so. Petites?  Noooo problem.  They have their own section, also not more expensive.  But even if you can’t find exactly what you want if you’re minute, there is more than enough fabric to cut off or take in.

So, to recap, you can be average, plump or tiny but women are not allowed to be tall without penalty.  And 5’9″ isn’t extraordinarily tall.  It’s not like I’m playing professional basketball or beach volleyball.  I’m not 6 ft tall.  My height is model size, not amazon size, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s just not that unusual anymore.  There are a lot of us around these days.  The average height might be 5’4.5″ but it’s not like there isn’t a huge gaussian distribution in America where there might not be in a place like Japan.

I’ve talked to various clothing company representatives about why the cost differentiation penalizes the tall and not the wide or itsy-bitsy and I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer that doesn’t sound like a flimsy excuse covering for a money making opportunity.  So, basically, tall women are screwed.

It’s bad enough that there isn’t the same size gradations in women’s clothing as there are in men’s clothing.  You don’t get a variation in sleeve length or in-seams or anything like that in any women’s clothing stores.  And I do understand that men who are really tall have to go to special stores and pay a premium.  But there aren’t any tall stores for women and what is offered in tall sizes is limited and usually dowdy.  Compared to what the average height woman can choose from, the tall woman’s choices are usually more limited items without the style or seasonal colors.  Forget soft, flowy or romantic.  And at many stores, you have to pay more for them.  It’s just outrageous.

2.) Stores that make bigotry a feature.  Anthropologie and its sister retailers (urban outfitters, Free People) went off my buy list earlier this year when I found out that the owner was a fervent Rick Santorum supporter.  That was a shame because Brook looks great in everything in the local Anthropologie store that is a size 2.  She has an Anthropologie quilt on her bed.  I was going to save my green stamps to buy her a nice dress for her Germany trip but couldn’t get past the Santorum thing so Anthropologie was out.

The same thing goes for Chik-Fil-A.  There’s a store in the next town up the road and not too long ago, I was tempted to stop in and buy something because I heard the food is pretty good for fast food.  But since they’ve made such a big effing deal about being “Christians” who wear their anti-gay bigotry on their sleeves with pride and promote their “morality” to their employees, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot in a Chik-Fil-A.

What I find particularly revolting about Dan Cathy’s commitment to families is that he fails to see the children of gay couples as being family members themselves.  Those kids are frequently on the losing end of legal battles over inheritance, pensions, social security, etc, when one of their parents die.  It’s disgusting and hypocritical for Cathy and his ilk to value one set of children over another because of the sexuality of their parents.  Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.

I’m sure this is a selling point to their fundamentalist customers.  Bully for them.  Too bad that the homophobic church lady demographic is shrinking.  On the other hand, Chik-Fil-A will find out exactly how the free market works!

Excellent.

 

Vacuums that don’t suck: Cannister or Upright?

I hate to vacuum.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do love clean floors.  What I hate is the vacuum itself.  In the past several years, I have gone through several and they all have the same problems.  The stupid belt things break or come off the spindle almost every time I use it or it clogs.  In the case of the clogs, I’m at a loss.  I’ve taken the current vacuum apart (It’s a Hoover Windtunnel Rewind) as far as is possible and cleaned it from multiple entry points.  But there is a section of the hose that I can’t declog without completely ripping the vacuum into its pieces parts.  Since every other part of the hose system is clean as a whistle, this is where the clog must be.

The belt thing is just aggravating.  At this point, I might as well get one of those mechanical vacuums because nothing else seems to last more than a couple of minutes on my floors without a malfunction.  When I was a kid, the vacuum my mom had never acted like this.  It always worked, much to my dismay.  And it’s not like I don’t know to raise or lower the device to account for carpet nap or bare floors.  Before this vacuum, I had a second Oreck.  The first Oreck was fantastic.  I used that sucker until the motor burned out.  But the second Oreck was a lemon.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I thought it was just me.  But the belts broke sometimes twice in a session.  And that sucker had about 6 screws of different sizes that needed to be disassembled to change the belts.  It got old really fast.

In the past 10 years, I’ve had more success with a little shop vac than my actual vacuum cleaners.  I give up.

Can anyone recommend a reliable vacuum cleaner for a reasonable price?  The Dyson’s look intriguing but they’re out of my price range.  I’ve never used a canister vacuum.  They just look bulky and hard to use, especially up and down the stairs but I might be wrong about this.  Add you suggestions to the comment thread.

Note: I don’t misuse my vacuum and regularly clean the beater bar thingy, removing anything that might get wrapped around it.  The issue seems to be poorly made vacuums.  Since one of the offending vacuums was an Oreck that was made here in the US, foreign made crap isn’t the explanation for why vacuums are poor quality.

Speak for yourself, Bill

Who is the “we” we’re talking about?

Bill Keller wrote a pretty fricking clueless column about the “Entitled Generation”.  Apparently, if you were born at the tail end of the baby boom, you’re a spoiled rotten brat who has had everything handed to you on a silver platter.

You know, I hate to be the one to incite generational warfare but there are actually *two* types of babyboomers.  It’s a shame that the demographers have made no effort to separate the two so I’m going to do it for them.

The first cohort born after 1946 was the Love generation.  That was the one that protested and questioned authority and benefitted from low tuition and lots of jobs.  It burned its youthful anger out around 1971.  Then came MY generation.  I don’t know what you would call us. We were born after 1956 or so.  For us, reality was very different.  By the time we were adolescents, there was an oil crisis, the country had stagflation, money to colleges was drying up, tuition was spiking and there were no jobs when we came out of school.  Oh, and all the tax breaks that the previous generations had used had been cut by the time we made our first paychecks.

We also PREPAID our social security incomes, Bill.  That’s something the early boomers didn’t have to do for a good decade or so while they were chasing plastics and Mrs. Robinson.

YOU guys had The Graduate, we had Blade Runner.

You had The Beatles, we had Billy Idol.

No matter how you slice it, we are not the same.

We’ve always paid more for everything.  We bought the early babyboomer’s starter homes at a premium while they took their profits and bought the first McMansions.  We paid our student loans over 10 years at inflated interest rates.  We got dumped into HMOs or saw our deductions rise at the time when the early boomers’ kids were already out of braces.  And now, we are watching the early boomers retire while the rest of us are getting laid off in middle age.

We have never had it as good as the early boomers.  But we are too old to make up for all the money we will need if the entitlements are slashed.  We are going to die poor, Bill.

But hey, if YOU have more money than you know what to do with and can retire without social security, I have no problem if you give up your entitlement so the rest of us can eat a decent diet when we’re 65.  Oh, did I mention that for those of us who had professional careers, we survived on 2 weeks vacation for the first 10 years and a miserly 3-4 weeks after that?  Do you have any idea how much vacation time Europeans get?  We have spent most of our lives chained to a computer in a cubicle.  We have saved our personal days to chaperone our kids’ field trips.  We have abbreviated every trip and god help us if a hurricane doesn’t force us to give up the house we rented for a week at Nag’s Head.

For us late babyboomers, we have already adjusted to a more modest life.  Or those of us who didn’t are suffering under massive amounts of debt that the early boomers escaped because they just happened to be born in the right year.

I realize that yours is the narrow view of the privileged boomer who thinks that we’re all the same.  You need to get out more, Bill.  Come to New Jersey where there are thousands of us laid off with no hope of getting anything like our old salaries back and tell us to our faces that we need to take a cut in our future PREPAID social security payments.  Tell us that we should make even more sacrifices while you retire on your defined benefit pensions and we scrape by on measly reduced pensions, stingy cash balance plans and mismanaged and pilfered 401Ks.

You have no idea who the hell you’re talking to.  We are not YOU.

Maybe you would have better luck talking to your banker buddies who are absconding with our trillions of dollars of taxpayer largess to give the money back or take a much higher hit on income taxes.

Or you could make a case with your big megaphone to the insurance industry and the hospitals to stop seeing every patient as a profit to be milked for everything its worth.  We pay more money than any country in the world for medical care and it’s because no one has the guts to tell the health care industry that they are not allowed to make unlimited amounts of cash off of us.

Or maybe you can tell the military contractors to stop gorging off of us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are plenty of people you could say “that’s enough” or “don’t take too much, it’s greedy and you’re drawing attention to yourselves” or “you should be ashamed of yourselves for being massive assholes and cruel”.  But no, you decide to pick on those of us who will end up with nothing if we take your advice and give up the money we have PREPAID for our retirements.

I have an idea, why don’t the early boomers go first?  Set an example, Bill.  You and your friends can give up all of the money you don’t need starting with people born in 1946.  Then, by the time you get to those of us who were born after 1956, there will be enough to go around.

Here’s your problem, Bill.  Every generation who started work after 1983 is going to be irate that you have to nerve to bring this up.  If you are asking us to give up what we PREPAID because we were told it was absolutely necessary to save a social insurance policy we all believed in because the politicians we trusted gave the rich and powerful, such as yourself, unbelievably generous tax breaks, then you are endorsing fraud, Bill.  It’s as wrong to do it to us as it is to stiff all the depositors at JP Morgan Chase and MF Global for disastrous bets their CEOs allowed.

Why isn’t your little moral lecture turned on the people who stole from our generation?  We could all be living peacefully and prosperously if not for them.

Stop telling US what to do.  We’re the victims, not the predators.

Catholic Bishop Responds to The Nuns’ Story

Terry Gross followed up her interview with Sister Pat Farrell of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious with the view of the church as presented by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio.  Bishop Blair lead the commission that investigated the nuns and wrote a report criticizing the sisters for not sticking to church teachings.  The Bishops are planning to take over the LCWR and impose conformity on it.  You can listen to Bishop Blair’s interview with Gross here.

I’m at a loss for words.  Wait, that’s not quite right.  What I mean to say is that the bishops seem to be undergoing a process of self-immolation on a public stage because if what I’m hearing is the “logic” of the church, it is incomprehensible.  I find the bishop’s response to Sister Pat’s interpretation of obedience to be particularly confounding.  Sister Pat says she interprets her vow of obedience as obedience to God and her conscience.  You would think that God’s word would be the ultimate authority.  Not so, says the bishop.  The sister isn’t allowed to get around the obedience to the church even if it is in contradiction to what the sister interprets as God’s will.  The church is a hierarchy and the sister is not in it.  She doesn’t have the right to discuss or question anything.  She only has the duty to do what she’s told, even if she thinks it’s wrong.

And you know, that’s probably ok.  I mean, if you’re going to be a believer of a certain religion and that religion says you must follow us unquestioningly and not rely on your own understanding, then you’d better do what they say or find another church.  The Catholic church is particular flavor of Christianity.  You need to accept that it’s always going to be lime and never fruit punch.

The bishop has more to say on the church sexual abuse scandal.  To me, he is saying that the church doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality and pedophilia (which don’t have to go together but these priests are not mature in their sexuality. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature of their teachings and training).  Bishop Blair attributes the sexual abuse cases to an evil that has gotten into the church.  And in some weird way he justifies the crackdown on the sisters as a response to that evil.  The priests and bishops need to refocus on church doctrine to keep themselves in line and so the first thing they do is make sure the sisters are conforming.

There’s more on human sexuality in marriage and contraception but with every issue, I feel like I’m hearing 2000 years of rationalizations layered into some bizarre accretion.  Somewhere back in the 4th century, the Roman empire co-opted early Christianity and Catholic dogma took a hard right turn forcing everything around it to twist itself into knots trying to keep up.  It’s like one of those old models of the solar system where the earth is the center and everything around it takes more and more complicated paths to explain observations of astronomical patterns, like retrograde orbits.  But hey, this is the Catholic church we’re talking about.  It only took them 400 years to forgive Galileo for being right.

This is what Sister Pat is up against.  And I have to say that if she stays in the church and complies with this assessment, she will need to lose her own conscience.  It will be substituted by some other entity’s conscience.  The loss is not just to herself though.  All of the people who depend on the assistance of her organization will be harmed by her compliance.  She’s going to have to make a choice.  She won’t be the first person to have to defy the church.  Martin Luther did it and that turned out alright, sort of.  But what Martin Luther did to church dogma, Sister Pat would be doing for women in general.

At some point, Catholic women are going to have to ask themselves what’s in it for them that can’t be provided by some other faith.  Is it true that God only speaks to one man in Rome and this holy representative made it to the top through piety and not politics?  And if there is a political element to his election to pope, doesn’t that undercut his authority in some respects?  He’s not the most holy or wise.  He’s just the most popular of the cardinals.  And if that’s true, then how do we know that they’re operating in the best interests of God?  And if they’re using their own judgement and not hearing from God directly, how is their conscience more reliable than Sister Pat’s?

I only ask but *she’s* not allowed to.  The Catholic hierarchy is telling her that this is what she signed up for, no matter how self-serving it is for the guys in charge.  If she wants to do things her own way, well, she’s not being a good Catholic.  It’s sort of like being a woman in the Democratic party.

It’s up to her.  Get in line and be silent and subservient forever or listen to God and her conscience, leave and  start her own order.  This might be the most courageous thing a Catholic woman has ever done.  It would be so significant that it would shake the hierarchy to the core.  Who knows, the Church might need to start asking some questions of itself.  Don’t wimp out, Sister Pat.

Re Mitt: No one cares

You left blogospherians who got your marching orders from the DNC to Gore Mitt are wasting your time.  You could be blogging more productively about what Obama has or has not planned for his second term, presuming he gets one.

The more the Democrats get their knickers in a twist over Mitt’s latest ridiculous spewing of nonsense, the angrier I get.  The whole country is falling apart, people are not making money, they’re losing their jobs-still, the economy is growing at a paltry 1.7% and all the Democrats can think of is Mitt’s stupid Olympic comments?  Really?  This is the best the Democrats can do?  Relentless attacks on your opponent only work for the first term.  They are not substitutes for planning or policy.  Does the DNC think we aren’t paying attention?

This is not a game of who can out ridicule.  It’s not a game period. I don’t think that crap is going to work this year.  When I go to the polls my vote is going to the person who pisses me off the least.  Right now, the Democrats and Obama are making my blood boil.

Repeat after me: All the voters want to hear about is how Obama is going to get us back to work and when he is going to arrest the bankers.

I will vote for the candidate who has a plan to move my 401K to a defined benefit pension plan and promises to not touch Social Security.

Short of that, the Mitt Shit is BORING.  Nothing is going to make me vote for him anyway but the longer this nonsense goes on, the more attractive Jill Stein is looking to me and I never thought I’d say that.

Keep it up and I’m going Green.

Olympics Complaint Line

Ok, all you Americans, today is the day we start our quadrennial airing of grievances over the pathetic coverage we get of the Olympic games.  It doesn’t matter if it’s ABC or NBC, what we are subjected to is a 2 week commentator gabfest with up-close-and-personal special interest stories about some AMERICAN athlete overcoming adversity to get to the games.  That athlete might not even make it to the top ten in his sport but we must follow him or her.

If there is an event covered, it will be chopped into bite sized pieces, we’ll cut away during some other country’s athlete’s turn and the events we might actually want to see will be overridden by the network’s decision to feature Apollo Ohno winning his zillionth gold medal.  I like the kayaking events and the jumping equestrian events and even the weightlifting stuff.  I can’t remember the last time the commies in charge of NBC or ABC let us see those things.

And we can’t see the games anywhere else.  If we want to catch another country’s coverage, we have to go there.  I envy the Americans who are close enough to the Canadian border to be able to catch the CBC coverage.  The internet is hermetically sealed for our protection.  No other coverage can get through without NBC’s approval.  It makes me feel like I’m living in the old Soviet Union under Breshnev.

Complaining to the network doesn’t help.  Back in 2004, I was able to get an Olympics premium package from my satellite provider.  At least I had a choice of several channels.  In 2008, no package.  It was NBC’s coverage on one channel or nothing.  I’m going to guess it was a marketing plan put together to return shareholder value.  Those sucker Americans, where else are they going to go?  It’s NBC or nothing.  Let’s just phone it in.

This year, I don’t have satellite.  I have a cable modem for my wifi.  That means I’m probably going to have to install silverlight on my mac and watch whatever it is NBC provides in even more truncated form.  Is it any wonder why I haven’t been a regular Olympics watcher since 2004?

{{sigh}}

Your turn.

BTW, this site tells you how to watch the Olympics coverage from the BBC on your iPad or other devices.  I doubt it will work in the US but maybe the other freer people of the world can see it.  Let those of us behind the NBC iron curtain know if anything good happens.

Late Nite: Ikea

I have conquered the mighty Stuva bench drawer combination.  It’s perfect for my kitchen and makes for beautiful banquette seating in the corner.

Stuva bench with Bestad drawer

I can finish my margarita now.  Ahhhhhh…

Speaking of Ikea, this has to be one of the funniest commercials I’ve ever seen.

You will never catch this on American TV because in the minds of the prime time censors, we are still sleeping in separate beds.  American Ikea commercials never feature S-E-X.

I like to visit Ikea every other month or so.  The nearest location is about an hour from my house and it involves the NJ Turnpike so I have to be motivated.  But I’ve heard that Ikea can trigger massive arguments in some couples.  I don’t understand that.  Is it the meandering?  The overwhelming marketing overload?  Ikea is the only big box store that doesn’t send me running to the nearest bathroom so maybe I’m their target audience.  Anyway, I can’t figure out what is causing the problem.  If anyone has any insight, let me know.

If I had to pick my favorite purchase from Ikea, it would have to be my Hovas sofa.  It’s as comfortable and well constructed as the Pottery Barn sofa that it replaced but cost half as much.  Not only that but the slip covers are $49 a set.  Also, very nice quality fabric.  At $49/set, I can afford to get a couple more sets in white and just dip them in Rit dye when it gets too hard to make them perfectly spotless.  So, one sofa, many colors, endlessly changeable.  Turquoise, I think I’d like turquoise today…

Not everything I have is Ikea.  Some of it is second hand, some refurbished, some Ethan Allen or Pier One or that funny unfinished furniture place in Lawrenceville.  But when I need something that will serve a particular function, some basic piece of furniture, I know I can usually find it at Ikea.  I just need to think outside the box.  And maybe that’s the attraction for me.  I like the challenge of repurposing.

Do you have any Ikea stories? Share them in the comments.