Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wish I'd Said That...

"The Olympic Games were fun, but there were some high-profile mistakes, come on. Admit it. Like the terrible decision to let Toyota design the luge." -Bill Maher

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Whoo-hoo! Job opening in lovely Orlando! I'm whale-qualified.

File under "Surprised, Not":

A killer whale killed a trainer Wednesday afternoon at SeaWorld's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Florida, a public information officer for the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Are they called Cuddly Whales? Nope. Face it, they're just dolphins with really bad attitudes and even sharper teeth. A lot like me.

Sorry, but I'm totally seeing the Orca's point of view here. Honestly, how many times would you jump through a hoop for a dead fish? Two-thirds of the planet is your playground and suddenly you're trapped in a bathtub for twenty years. Wouldn't do much for my willingness to play nice.

Also, what was with Naked Guy? Taunting the tigers not fun enough in the middle of the night?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Am I the Only One?

Cringing every time a Toyota is spotted in the rear view mirror? What if they can't stop at this intersection?

Wood You Believe Him?

So could Alice Cooper be helping Tiger Woods start a garage band? As he writes in his book "Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict", taking up the game was a wonderful way to combat the urge to party on the road.

"I traded one bad habit for another habit, only this habit (golf) was a lot healthier," says Cooper, who went through rehab in the late '70s and early '80s but has been clean and sober since 1983 and has counseled other celebrities about kicking their addictions. "Golf ended up being a good trade-off," he says. "The thing about this book, is that when I look at the whole juxtaposition of who Alice Cooper is, the golf addiction and the music addiction, still, it's pretty interesting how they can co-exist."

Maybe Tiger and his band could practice on Elin's private island so as not to annoy the neighbors? One thing is for sure: he had better make a very good showing the first game of his return to professional golf, whenever that might be. Otherwise, millions of men will use it as an excuse to take a mistress (or three, or... ) since it seems to improve the golf game.

All across America kids will be getting their dads little coffee mugs that say 'World's Best Golfer'. Lucky Elin. The kids are still small enough to need some help shopping for Daddy's big day and she can wrap the one that says 'World's Worst Husband'.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trade Up!

To a vehicle with more steering ability and stopping power than your average Toyota!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lower Education

Face it, right now you're thinking about how many of your co-workers this could apply to:

Ms Bishop, who has four children, obtained a PhD from Harvard University in 1993. She began teaching at the University of Alabama in 2003. She was told last year that she would not get a tenured, or permanent, position and that this was her last term. Colleagues described her as a brilliant researcher but a poor teacher and communicator.

She held her regular anatomy and neuroscience class on Friday before going to a faculty meeting at a university building in Huntsville, Alabama, where she allegedly pulled out a 9mm handgun and began firing. Witnesses said that she then left the room and dumped the gun in a lavatory before being arrested.

When she was led away, she told local television: “It didn’t happen. There’s no way. They’re still alive.”

But wait! It gets better.

The shooting has prompted police to reopen the case of her younger brother’s death in 1986. The police chief in the Boston suburb of Braintree said at the weekend that Ms Bishop, then 19, was freed after his predecessor apparently halted the investigation. “I don’t want to use the word ‘cover-up’. I don’t know what the thought process was at the time,” Paul Frazier said.

Ms Bishop shot her brother Seth, 18, a violinist and prize-winning science student, with a shotgun during an argument, he said. She was arrested at gunpoint after allegedly pointing the gun at a car to try to force the driver to stop.

A former auto-body worker claims Amy Bishop put a gun to his chest and demanded a getaway car just minutes after she shot her brother to death 24 years ago in a controversial case that is now being reviewed.

The police chief at the time, John Polio, apparently ordered officers to free Ms Bishop and declare the shooting accidental. “I spoke with the retired deputy chief who was . . . responsible for booking Ms Bishop. He said he had started the process when he received a call from then police chief John Polio, or possibly from a captain on Chief Polio’s behalf,” Mr Frazier said. “He was instructed to stop the booking process. The release of Ms Bishop did not sit well with the police officers.

According to the police chief, Ms Bishop’s mother, Judith, was a public official who sat on a police personnel committee. Apart from a short entry in the Braintree police log the case file on the death, including a seven-page report, has disappeared.

Hmmm. Bumped off an inconveniently smarter sibling? Just a baby bird pushing the weaker ones out of the nest to get all the worms. Natural selection. Nothing more to see here. Move along.

Oooh. What about this?

Grieving relatives of three professors gunned down at a university faculty meeting questioned why their accused colleague was hired despite a dispute with a former boss who received a pipe bomb and the shooting death of her brother.

And this sure doesn't describe anybody you work with...

...had described Bishop as “not being able to deal with reality” and “not as good as she thought she was."

So much for the good old days when you hoped your kid got into college for a draft deferment, since a war zone was a dangerous place where they could get shot.

Economy: 1 Waistline: 0

Played hooky from the Health Club tonight.

Just last week they asked me to fill out an appraisal sheet on the instructors. As usual, I spent no time critiquing the classes and about two paragraphs begging them to buy a bottle of bleach and clean the place. Anyhoo...

I'm suffering from a really bad case of the Febru-drearies and decided my serotonin levels would be better boosted by shoe-shopping than exercise. Common mid-winter malady. Didn't do ANY shopping in January, as I had bought so much at the end of December at after-Christmas sales, there really wasn't any new merchandise to be had.

Might have made it through the short misery that is February except for that insidious retailing trick known as the Birthday Coupon. Buisnesses are not stupid. They know a free movie equals a popcorn sale, a free dinner equals a beverage and a $10 off coupon could lead someplace fantastic.

Went to Kohl's last week because I had a 30% off coupon. For 15%, I don't leave the house. 20%, I might stop in if I 'need' something. 30% off is a Holy Day of Obligatory Spending.

So I bought waaaaay too much stuff and earned $20 off in Kohl's Bucks or something. It was some deal to get you back in the store the very next week with the promise of $20 off. Turns out I wanted to return a blazer. I was in no rush until I read the coupons carefully. Hmmm. Seems the 30% was good to Feb. 17. The $20 off started Feb 15. That means.... Gasp! February 16 was a magical equinox of savings !!! They NEVER overlap offers!!! What happened? How did the stars align? Will the Year of the Tiger be especially good to this lowly Snake?

Wasting no time, I found a pair of Candie's stilettos I had been coveting in the celebrity magazines. On sale for $39.99, minus $20, minus 30% = SCORE!!!

I feel so much better now. Shouldn't have had the pasta for dinner, but the shoes were worth it!!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Oh, sure it was stolen...

Troubled actor Charlie Sheen had left his Mercedes-Benz in his open garage with the keys in it when it was stolen and later found crashed in a ravine off Mulholland Drive, police said Friday.

The 2009 Mercedes four-door sedan was found badly damaged about 350 feet down from Mulholland Drive about two miles from Sheen's home in a gated community in Sherman Oaks.

After an extensive search on foot and by helicopter, rescue crews did not find a driver or passengers in the vicinity of the stolen car.

Los Angeles fire and police officials learned the car had been in an accident just after 4 a.m. when the Mercedes' electronic security system automatically notified them. After locating the vehicle, they discovered it was Sheen's and went to notify him.

Meanwhile, Sheen had also received an alert from his car's security system and reported a burglary to the police, who responded to the report about 5 a.m.

Los Angeles police said the car was probably abandoned by the burglars, who had stolen items from other garages in the neighborhood. Nothing else from Sheen's home was reported stolen, said Officer Bruce Borihanh of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Another luxury car stolen from a nearby neighborhood was discovered off the side of the road about 200 yards from where Sheen's car had been found, police spokesman Richard French said.

The 2009 silver Bentley coupe was reported to police about 1:45 p.m. by a press photographer.

French, who called the Bentley's appearance "highly coincidental," said it was unclear if the car was stolen by the same thieves.

Sources said police ruled out any domestic dispute in the Sheen incident after interviewing the actor and his wife, who was out of state.

Death Poem to a Prius

TOKYO—Toyota's president emerged from seclusion Friday to apologize and address criticism that the automaker mishandled a crisis over sticking gas pedals. Yet he stopped short of ordering a recall for the company's iconic Prius hybrid for braking problems. Stopping short of anything but Seppuku is unacceptable.

Akio Toyoda, appointed to the top job at Toyota Motor Corp. last June, promised to beef up quality control, saying, "We are facing a crisis." REALLLLLY?

Toyoda, grandson of the company's founder, said he personally would head a special committee to review checks within the company, go over consumer complaints and listen to outside experts to come up with a fix. Now I feel better.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concern that we have given to so many customers," said Toyoda, speaking at his first news conference since the Jan. 21 global recall of 4.5 million vehicles. See my first comment.

Toyota's failure to stem its widening safety crisis has stunned consumers and experts who'd come to expect only streamlined efficiency from a company at the pinnacle of the global auto industry. Heh, heh, heh. Sell in America. Become American.

"Toyota needs to be more assertive in terms of providing consumers comfort that the immediate problem is being addressed ... and that it can deal with these crises," said Sherman Abe, a business professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. Like handing out anchors as a stopping aid?

It took prodding from the U.S. government for Toyota to recall the vehicles, about half of them in North America, for gas pedals that can stick and cause sudden acceleration. Wow, must have been really bad for the U.S. to recognize there was a problem.

Asked if he should have acted more quickly, Toyoda replied in hesitant English: "I will do my best." Play the language card! Great move.

Also on Friday, Safety Research and Strategies Inc. of Rehoboth, Mass., issued a report saying that Toyota and the government must look closely at vehicle electronics for a cause of sudden acceleration. Static electricity causes acceleration?

According to the report, there is evidence that Toyota and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have not identified all causes of the problem, which they have blamed on sticky accelerators and floor mats that can bend on top of gas pedals and press them down. What about obese American feet?

NHTSA earlier this week began studying whether automobile engines could be disrupted by electromagnetic interference caused by power lines or other sources. See?

Safety Research and Strategies, which has received funding for research on Toyotas from five law firms, said the report released Friday was not paid for by attorneys with interest in the Toyota problems. Of course not.

"Absent a mechanical cause, the automaker and the regulators must look more closely at the vehicle control systems, including the electronic throttle control design and the the associated sensors," the report says.

Toyota has said it investigated for electronic problems and failed to find a single case pointing that direction. The company says its systems have failsafe mechanisms. See also: Titanic

Toyoda was the second successive Toyota president to offer an apology for defects in the company's cars. The first, Katsuaki Watanabe, shocked a news conference in 2006, bowing low to the group before promising to improve quality. Which worked fabulously.

Toyoda bowed as he greeted reporters, but not in apology. See my first thought.

He told the hastily called news conference that the company had not decided what to do about problems in the braking system of the Prius gas-electric hybrid. The high-mileage, low-pollution car is a leader in its field and a symbol of Toyota technology. --Gone wrong.

Toyoda and Shinichi Sasaki, who oversees quality control, offered no new explanations for the braking problem. The old ones were working so well.

Prius drivers in Japan and the U.S. have complained of a short delay before the brakes kick in -- a flaw Toyota says can be fixed with a software programming change. The lag occurs as the car is switching between brakes for the gas engine and the electric motor -- a process that is key to the hybrid's increased mileage. Minor nuisance. Unless that's your kid on the bike.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said Friday the company continues to weigh options on how to handle repair of the problem, and it is communicating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Due to anticipated traffic congestion around dealerships?

Among the options are a service campaign in which Toyota would notify owners to bring their cars in for repairs, or a full-fledged safety recall. Michels said he could not say when Toyota would make a decision. Takes as long as a Toyota to stop.

The automaker said it fixed the programming glitch in Prius models that went on sale since last month, but has done nothing on 270,000 Prius cars sold last year in Japan and the U.S. Sure they did.

The lack of action has raised questions about whether there is a bigger problem. From people like me, of course.

Sasaki denied any cover up. HAAAAAAAA!

"We have nothing to hide. We have just been investigating," he said. If by investigating, you mean hiding our accounts off-shore.

Sasaki said complaints were climbing by the day. The company was checking into them, one by one, and test-driving customer's cars that had developed problems, he said. And convincing the customers they are crazy, like any good dealership garage.

But he appeared to view the problem as minor, occurring only at slow speeds. Define 'slow'.

"We don't see it as critical because if you push on it a bit, then the car will stop," he said of the brake pedal. If you say so.

Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, said Toyota may be trying to avoid the large costs involved with a recall. The automaker has already said repairs for the gas pedal recall and lost sales will cost it $2 billion. Wakizashi would be cheaper.

"Toyota is saying ... there is no real problem yet also announced they fixed the problem as of January," he said. "Odd, given that there is no problem to fix." It's that language thing again.

There is also high level government concern in Japan about Toyota's quality fiasco. From who, the president of Hello Kitty?

Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, who oversees auto regulation, has urged Toyota to consider a recall for the brake problem. But it needs to be a very cute recall.

In the past, the world's No. 1 automaker has moved quickly to address problems and the handling of its most recent problems has experts puzzled. Like I said, Americanization...

"There's a sharp contrast with previous times in terms of handling these kinds of situations," said Koji Endo, managing director of Advanced Research Japan. "I really don't know why -- if it was the change in management or if the PR office was responsible or what." Out drinking Saki and congratulating themselves on not being Chrysler?

Some experts speculated a degree of arrogance or corporate insularity may have clouded the company's judgment this time around. All those Enron employees had to go somewhere...

"Toyota is the top of the totem pole," said Kenneth Grossberg, a marketing professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. "They don't have to learn from anyone else." See also: GM

Grossberg noted that Japanese companies "have a problem with rapid decision making." Duh.

"Until they get everyone to sign on, it takes forever," said Grossberg, who has spent 16 years in Japan, including several years as a Citibank executive. Uh oh.

Toyoda said the company was cooperating with the U.S. investigation into the Prius problems and moving as quickly as it could to repair the gas pedals on a wide-range of models. Right after lunch.

The NHTSA's safety database includes several hundred complaints from 2010 Prius drivers. Most of the reports, which date back to May 2009, detail problems with brakes that are slow to respond or sudden lurches of acceleration when the vehicle goes over potholes or other rough spots in the road.

"This is asking for accidents to happen and something must be done to fix this problem," wrote one driver, who described four cases of loss of braking power and acceleration on bumps. All the complaints in the database are anonymous. And equally ignored.

Sasaki told the news conference he was grateful that LaHood had pressed Toyota to go ahead quickly with the gas pedal recalls in the U.S.

"It would have become even harder to win back the trust of customers, and the damage to the Toyota brand would have been greater," Sasaki said solemnly. "It was hard but in hindsight I am grateful to Mr. LaHood."