Rant: NFL + Houston = Screwed Fans

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It sucks to be a football fan in Houston! Not only are we cursed with the Houston Texans, but the NFL is trying to force us to watch them on television!

Football fans across America eagerly anticipated what was being billed as the best football game in years as the New England Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts, both of whom were undefeated. This game wass Sunday afternoon at 3pm Central and was being aired on CBS across the country, exception in Houston.

It seems that as part of the NFL’s television contracts, local affiliates are required to air the games of their hometown team, regardless of whether anyone really wants to watch them. As a result, the Houston CBS affiliate KHOU aired the Texans/Raiders game instead of the Colts and Pats. Houston residents missed the best game of the year, unless they were lucky enough to be on DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers (Sunday Ticket is only available on DirecTV and the NFL refuses to allow other cable or satetile provides to carry the programming, but that’s another rant for another day).

For those unaware, Houston is largely a city of transplants from other places. In the more than six years I’ve lived here, the number of native Houstonians I’ve met probably doesn’t exceed a dozen. Very few people here have any real attachment to this city or its football team. These folks are just not going to watch football if the NFL tries to force a game between two of the worst teams in pro football upon us.

Thanks NFL for screwing the fans of Houston! Not that you really care anyway!


November 6, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2007 Pumpkin Carving Contest – Vote for Your Favorite!

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As part of a recent family tradition, every year we carve pumpkins for Halloween. Each year the entries range from the traditional to the creative to the downright strange.


As a new twist, we are posting pictures of the pumpkins here and allowing the world to vote for their favorite. Take a look, pick your favorite, and vote for your favorite by posting in the comments below. Voting will close at midnight October 31. Each of us will give you a description of our pumpkin and why you should vote for us in 100 words or less. I won’t tell you which is mine to avoid any bias.

Update 10/23/07: We have a few late entrants from the family back in Louisiana. No descriptions or names were provided, so the pumpkins will have to speak for themselves.

Here goes:

Entry #1: H. R. Puffinstuff


Yeah, that’s right I’ve got a muffin top. I’m just husky and about to have a growthspurt. If you squint your eyes, I resemble a certain person from Ghost Busters. Please vote for me and I need the prize money for FIG.

Entry #2: B. D. Eyes


You might recognize me from a scene in “The Sorcerer’s Stone” or perhaps my cameo in “Hocus Pocus”. I have a classically carved face with wonderfully shaped eyebrows. How can you help but fall in love with my charming smile and cunningly sharp teeth! Hollywood was good, but getting your vote will be better! Vote for me!

Entry #3: Cyclops



Entry #4: Scary Mamma Jamma


My pumpkin is pretty awesome without a description and is obviously the best one, so vote for me.

Entry #5: Double Trouble


The inspiration for this carving was our twins who are due any day now. The main face represents the mother and the two smaller faces are our little boy and little girl. I wanted the faces of the kids to look a bit more mischievious, but it is kind of difficult to get that detail on such a small cut. Vote for me!

Entry #6: Jack


Star of his own Halloween classic movie, Nightmare Before Christmas.

Entry #7: LSU Eyes


We have another evil genius in the family, trying to pander to the audience. GEAUX TIGERS!

Entry #8: Puss-in-Boots


Who can resist those pleading eyes? Who wants to?

Editor’s note: Cool, yes. But I smell a stencil!

Entry #9: Stitch


An original design, a good example of cosmetic surgery gone bad.

Vote for your favorite now!

October 20, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | , , , | 38 Comments

Off-topic: LSU loses to Kentucky

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This was a very sad weekend for me. As I have mentioned before, I am originally from Louisiana and also a graduate of LSU. I’ve been a Tiger fan for years, and in the good years and the bad there has always been one certainty – LSU will always beat Kentucky in football. Even during the darkness of the Mike Archer and Curly Hallman years, Kentucky was almost always an automatic win for us. So who would have thought that an LSU team ranked number 1 in the country would lose to a Kentucky Wildcat team, regardless of what their ranking happens to be this year? This is the same team we beat last year 49-0, after all!

Well, those of you who follow college football know what happened Saturday. LSU lost to Kentucky in 3OT, dropping the Tigers out of the number 1 spot. While I am sad about the loss, I have to admit that Kentucky played one heck of a ballgame and totally deserved to win. There may be some debate as to talent levels between the two teams, but Kentucky definitely wanted it more and played harder, and the final score reflects that. I had my doubts about our ability to go through the entire SEC schedule undefeated, but I was shocked it was Kentucky that ended up being the bump in the road.

The way this season is going, we might not be out of it, but this certainly doesn’t help the cause. But I do look at the top teams in the polls being Ohio State, South Florida and Boston College and can’t help but think it is completely absurd. With the possible exception of South Florida playing Auburn, none of these teams have played anyone worthwhile. How are any of them worthy of a top five ranking, even if they are undefeated? Put any of these teams against a one or two loss team from the SEC and I’ll guarantee you the SEC team would win 9 of 10.

There was a great column on Yahoo sports this morning about this, which you can read here. Perhaps the columnist is right that all we need is a national championship game with South Florida or Boston College to have fans across the country screaming for a playoff in college football. I’m sorry, but it takes more than just putting together a cupcake schedule for me to consider you worthy of playing for the national championship. I can guarantee you this would be the lowest rated championship game ever televised, and ratings equals money, which is what controls the whole scheme anyway.

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | , , , , | 2 Comments

DHL Crack Smokers?

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Here’s an odd one for you. I had to overnight some documents via DHL yesterday. Apparently the concept of the shortest distance between two point being a straight line is totally lost on them.

My shipment was going from Houston TX to Baton Rouge LA. Via ground, it is about a 4.5 hour journey. By air, it is about an hour. Instead of going the direct route, the package went from Houston to Wilmington OH and then to Baton Rouge. According to Yahoo Maps it is about a 2000 mile journey for a distance of 300 miles.


Of course this is the same outfit that took several weeks to return several Dell laptops my brother-in-law refused shipment on, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by this one.

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | 6 Comments

Off-Topic: A Ballpark Proposal Gone Terribly Wrong

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I headed out to the ballgame last night with my brother-in-law and his wife, along with the other brother-in-law. The game itself was awful with the Astros losing to the Nationals 7-0. It was one of those nights where nothing could go right for the home crowd.

The bad luck even extended to the stands. Minute Maid Park, like many other ballparks, does a “Kiss Cam” at some point during the game during the inning breaks. The Kiss Cam pans the crowd and focuses in on couples, who are then supposed to kiss with 30,000 plus fans cheering them on.

At last night’s game, the final couple shown on screen kissed and then the guy got down on one knee and proposed, with the “will you marry me” message on the scoreboard and wedding march music blaring. To everyone’s surprise, the woman had an absolutely horrified look on her face and got mad at the guy, dumping a bag of popcorn on his head and then storming off. The whole crowd of 30,000 people sat in stunned awkward silence at what they had just witnessed. The poor guy just sat there for the next half-inning before walking out to a loud cheer from the crowd.

Probably the oddest thing I have ever seen at a ballgame. The evening went so bad for the home team not even the cheesy marriage proposal went right!

August 21, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Off Topic | 1 Comment

Rant: Don’t stand on a corner – GET A JOB!

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OK, I just had to vent on this. I went out this afternoon to run some errands and as I was driving around there was someone begging for money at every friggin’ intersection with a traffic light! I am not kidding, every single one! Some of them were quite persistent too, not leaving you alone until you made it absolutely clear by looking away, cranking up the radio, or mouthing the words “hell no” that you weren’t going to give them any money. It’s not even like I was driving a fancy car (2001 Honda Civic) or driving around downtown where a lot of these people congregate.

As many soup kitchens and charitable organizations as there are in Houston (like Goodwill, where I was bringing a donation to when I encountered the most annoying of these pests), there is no reason for these people to be harassing motorists at busy intersections. Go to one of these fine organizations for help, or better yet GET A JOB! Why the heck should I help you if you aren’t willing to do anything to help yourself?

August 3, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | Leave a comment

Off-topic: The Harry Potter Release Freak Show

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OK, this is a little off-topic, but still pretty funny. Last Friday night I went with my wife, brother-in-law, and a friend to Barnes and Noble for the release of the last Harry Potter book. I’ve gone with the wife before to these releases and although I’m not a Potter fan, I always thought the parties they have are kind of cool. However, this last one was a freak show on par with the opening night for a Star Trek movie, complete with people in costumes everywhere. I will give them some credit since most of them dressed up as characters other than Harry Potter. There were so many people there that were carrying around sticks thinking they were wands, and it seemed like quite a few of them believed that their sticks held some type of magical properties.

However, the highlight of the evening was after they began selling the books. My brother-in-law and I went and hung out by the front door waiting for my wife and her friend to get their books so we could go home. While we are waiting, this slightly chunky teenage girl comes through the front door and blows a whistle to get everyone’s attention. Of course everyone gets real quiet, thinking it is one of the workers making an announcement, at which time she proceeds to yell out at the top of her lungs “(Unnamed character) dies!” She then runs out the front door, with a mob of about 30 freaks running out chasing after her. The leader of the mob looked just like Harry Potter and was holding a magical “wand”, and it was hilarious to see them all chasing after her. We didn’t see where the mob ended up, but since only a couple of the people of the mob ever came back in the store, we’re guessing that Harry and his mob caught up with her. My guess is that it was the Harry Potter look-alike that got to her first, held up his wand, and yelled “Harry Potter’s gonna go Azkahban on your muggle a$$!”.

July 23, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Off Topic | Leave a comment

The Web’s New Hot Search Term: Hammy the Squirrel?

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The web is always a fascinating place, and what people are searching for is equally as fascinating. Apparently among the ranks of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears is a celebrity of equally great stature. Yes, I’m talking about our old friend Hammy the Squirrel from Over the Hedge. For whatever reason over the last week Hammy has become very popular, so popular in fact that this blog hit a new daily high of 90 hits based largely on searches for Hammy or Over the Hedge (26 total search hits), or some variation thereof. All of this from a simple mention of the character in my posting about gift cards.

July 17, 2007 Posted by | About, Off Topic | Leave a comment

Off-topic: Cool travel site

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

OK, not really personal finance related, but I thought this site was pretty cool. There’s some other crap there too, but the cool feature is that you can create a customized map showing what states and countries you have visited. Mine is below. The site is http://www.travbuddy.com .

My map here!

June 28, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic, Travel | Leave a comment

Rant: City of Houston sells property at 77% discount!

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I posted previously about a sweetheart deal where the City of Houston was leasing 6 acres of prime real estate valued at $26 million to a non-profit for a whopping $1 per year. Mayor Bill White and city officials began reviewing some of these leases and had decided that this particular lease was no longer valid and was beginning to pursue options for selling the property at market value or renegotiating the lease to call for rental at market rates. Finally, an elected official in this city had grown a pair and was willing to do right by the taxpayers, or so I thought.

It was announced late last week that the non-profit and the city had reached an agreement for the non-profit to purchase the land (remember valued at $26 million) for $6 million under favorable financing terms. For those of you playing along at home, that is a 77% discount to true market value of the property. Just when we thought that Mayor White could develop a pair of his very own, it seems that they have withered away in the blink of an eye. This idiocy has cost the taxpayers in Houston $20 million, plus the additional jobs and tax revenue that would have been generated from the construction of the sure-to-be high priced residential development that would have gone in at the site, along with the perpetual stream of property tax revenue that would have been generated.

Hey Mayor White – while you are feeling so generous, how about a 77% discount for all of us who pay property taxes to the City of Houston? Sure it wouldn’t be a financially prudent thing to do, but this surely shows that isn’t a concern. C’mon! What do ya say?

April 23, 2007 Posted by | Off Topic | Leave a comment