Iniard Watch

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Integration!

With the passing of Christmas this year, my family is starting a new tradition. The day after Christmas around my house will now be referred to as Integration Day. On this day, we will rest, relax, have family time, reflect on our appreciation of gifts received, and integrate them into our household and lives. With the hustle and bustle of the entire Halthanksmas season, you tend to accumulate lots of stuff that never really finds a home, just gets shuffled around from one spot to the next. With the influx of new Christmas gifts, you also have a pile of stuff under your tree, in your car, in your kitchen, everywhere.

This is one of the few days this year where nobody left the house. The kids got to know their new baby dolls and toys, I found refuge for all my new shoes, and my lovely wife reworked the kid’s closets to free up some hangers for the new clothes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Citibank Simplicity Card - Simply Misleading

I normally don’t float prime time blogs, but I am sitting through the encore presentation of “A Very Brady Christmas” on ABC Family which my family seems to be into for some reason. I was able to sneak the laptop onto my corner of the couch.

Anyway, I received my offer in the mail today for the new Citibank simplicity card. This is the credit offer you probably saw advertised heavily stating that you don’t have to pay late fees if you are late on a payment. They go on to say that all you have to do is make a purchase every month. It is part of their “keep it simple” card program. I am glad I got the offer today, because it gave me a chance to read the fine print. Here is the Simple truth on the Simplicity Card Program:

Credit card companies SUCK, and so does this offer. It is true, that they do not charge late fees if you make a purchase. However, they do expect payments to be made on time and reserve the right to raise your interest rate to the default rate if you are late on a payment for this or any other card or credit account you have. This would take my 7.99% interest rate up to 30.64%!!! It would stay at this rate until the balance was paid in full. So if I transferred a $3000 balance to this card, and made a late payment, I would not be charged the $35 late fee, but my interest rate would add an additional $56 a month in interest until the balance it paid in full. I would then transfer the balance to another card, but some people would be in a position that they can not do this, and would basically be strapped even more than they were to begin with, and for a very long time.

So after reading the fine print, I am very disappointed with Citibank. They are going all out to lure people prone to making late payments to sign up for this new simplicity card, and the fine print is setting them to take advantage of everyone that does fall for it. I was able to overlook the fact that Citigroup is partially owned by some rich Saudi dude, but now I must look down on Citibank, for what they are.. blood sucking bottom feeders. I think I will just pay the occasional late fee and pass on this one.

Designed for Christmas.... Nostalgic Hot Dog Cooker $70

If you are looking for a unique gift for someone special on your list, and have budgeted $70, then with one swipe of the card you can scratch them off list, thanks to the nostalgic hot dog grill. On my list, you have to be pretty high ranking to get a $70 gift budget, but I could see some people looking for a gift for their parents or inlaws (who seem to already have everything they need) stumble upon the hot dog cooker and think “well, they do like hot dogs!”.

There are only two occasions when I eat hot dogs, but I always follow the same rule.. never eat more than one. If I am at a ball game, I will look forward to indulging in ONE hot dog. And when I say one hot dog, I mean the regular size, not the super jumbo half pound wieners that many ballparks serve up. The other occasion I eat hot dogs is if I am at a summer picnic and that is the only thing being served. Eating more than one, regardless of how good it may seem at the time, always comes back to haunt… usually through belching, heartburn, and gas - the kind of gas that would peel the paint off a park bench or crack your leather car seats!

For me to try to understand how some people can get so excited about a hot dog cooker is beyond the scope of this blog entry, but I think every household with a kitchen already has several ways to cook a hot dog. How can you justify spending $70 to cook them a slightly different way? Even if it was free, how could you justify taking up an entire kitchen cabinet for a hot dog cooking machine.

I find the listed product features amusing….”Features fun, carnival-style design, removable drip tray, adjustable heat settings, and on/off switch”…. Fun Carnival style design is usually NOT what I look for in good quality kitchen appliances. Also, out of 4 features mentioned, one of them is an ON/OFF switch!! Is this item that devoid of selling points that half of the features are the carnival design and on/off switch?

If you want to waste lots of money on someone’s hot dog admiration, I would suggest you have delivered to them the $50 gourmet hot dog 10 pack. Although it would be about equal in wasting money, at least you do not curse them with having to store the carnival stand in their kitchen cabinets. It would also save the trouble of gift wrapping!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Designed for Christmas… .Black and Decker Auto Tape Measure $25

Let’s see… I need a gift for a guy, and my budget is about $25. Well, look here…. It’s perfect for any do-it-yourselfer or handy man… NOT!!! I have a few “Designed for Christmas” blogs in the queue, and I am starting to think that Black n Decker may be the industry leader in creating products that look to be good gift ideas, but are otherwise useless pieces of crap. I had the opportunity to take one of these babies for a spin and I am not impressed.

First of all, it is very big and heavy. They advertise that the main benefit is that you only need one had to hold it, but if you are holding it for any length of time, you might want to have your spare arm on standby. For as big as it is, you would think that it would be a 50 footer, but actually it is only a 25 footer.

Second of all, the actual tape is very flimsy. I tried to measure across the edge of a 6’ display table and it was curving all over the place. Usually if it is a 2 handed measuring job, you are measuring something of distance, which with this, you would still need to use 2 hands: one to support the bulky mothership, and another to support the flimsy tape.

The speed of thing was not too fast either. A simple 2 handed measuring job that takes 10 seconds would likely end up taking more than twice that with the one-hand job. (Did I just say Hand Job?)

So the bottom line is that although the shear gadgetry of it may provide a few moments of entertainment if you were bored sitting on an 8 hour greyhound bus ride from Cincinnati Ohio to Lafayette Indiana, I would not reach for it if I was trying to gather up my tools for a household project. It would not even be used enough to keep the batteries from being harvested out of it the next time your kid’s dancing Elmo starts to slow down.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Guitar Peddlers Love Spam….

… I think they cook it up for every meal. After being blog-spammed several times by people peddling as seen on tv products or specifically the esteban guitar package, I though I would see exactly what it was all about. What I have found is that the Esteban American Legacy Guitar package (which is made in China), is a cheap piece of crap that gets lots of bad reviews. It sells through late night informercials, on the net, and now on Home Shopping Network.

It seems that through their marketing of this product, they convince beginners and those not familiar with guitars to buy the all inclusive package that will provide them with everything they need to get up and running. Those who are satisfied customers probably do not know any better or never use it enough get an impression about it. According to the people who know guitars, however, your money would best be sent on other entry level guitars that are of a higher quality.

To support my lack of support for blog spammers, I am giving a plug to an interesting blog site that is devoted to exposing the truth about the esteban empire. What is really interesting about this site, is how much the internet guitar peddlers blog spam the crap out of it. The most recent message has 72 comments, and all but about 2 of them blog spam. It’s like they all got together and had a mutual spamasm. In fact, the esteban-as-seen-on-tv people have blog spammed an anti-esteban post on the website!! Unbelievable!

The Pope asketh, and Low he shall receiveth…

The Pope has peeked through his window to warn that the real Christmas spirit is being polluted by the over commercialization of the holiday, which I tend to agree. He also encourages that every Christian household display a nativity scene in their home as a “simple yet effective way of showing their faith and conveying it to their children.” I am wondering if the inflatable Jesus, or now the rubber ducky Jesus falls into the Pope’s “simple yet effective” category. Does it cheapen the concept to display the concrete goose version of the nativity? Is it acceptable to the church to represent Jesus with rubber bath tub toys? I think I will ask the Pope directly, and let you know what I find out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Designed for Christmas… El Paso Fajita Grill $30

While Christmas shopping at Linens and Things yesterday, I couldn’t help but to notice the El Paso Fajita Grill prominently displayed on a center display in the main aisle. The tackiness of it caught my eye immediately, and I was reminded of the last time I saw one of these: several christmas’s ago as my wife and I were lucky recipients!! I then started to sing in my head the song “Earth to Grandma” by the Asspony’s. (I hope my G-Ma-In-Law doesn’t frequent iniardwatch!).

Anyway, the fajita grill is an odd shaped electric skillet pre-decorated with Chili peppers, and has a tortilla warmer built right in. The skillet part is kind of small relative to the HUGE amount of space this things takes up. Most people already have a skillet they cook with, and many even have an electric skillet already, which is why I put this freakish appliance in the Designed for Christmas category. Nobody in their right mind would buy this for themselves, but when shopping for someone else, with a $30 gift budget, it seems like the perfect gift for someone who may have mentioned that they like fajitas. My advice would be to get them a nice electric skillet or a decent one for the stove. $30 can get much better quality in a traditional skillet or even electric skillet than this pepper shaped work of art.

So, my fajita grill is still in the original box, I thought I would be able to get rid of it during the company white elephant gift exchange, but we stopped doing this type of exchange, so I am now wondering….what is the time required before re-gifting items? Does anyone on my list like fajitas? He he he…. HO HO HO!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Laziness Sells... Swiffer Carpet Flick

There is a big hungry industry out there trying to sell people the vision of effortless cleaning. They have these commercials where cutsie little stepford housewives are maintaining an already clean house, and are using some stupid gadget to clean up a mess that someone may have just made. It looks soooo easy. Life would be great if everything were so effortless. Unfortunately, it is not. If you want to spend money to achieve effortless cleaning, hire someone to clean for you. Don’t waste your money on something like the swiffer carpet flicker. It is intended for use “in between regular sweepings”, and works just like the carpet vacuum that came with my 3 year old daughters “pretend” cleaning toy set from Walmart. The toy actually has a rotating brush that flicks stuff into the sweeper and can pick up most things the swiffer claims to be capable of. The swiffer is a bit different because it uses a removable mouse glue trap type of thing to catch the stuff. My daughters toy just keep the stuff around the brush and up in to the housing of the toy and after it starts to grow a beard, it doesn’t really pick up anymore. Maybe that is why the swiffer costs $14, and the toy costs about $4, despite probably being made in the same Chinese factory. Anyway, when you are done swiffing, you simply throw away the glue trap (which costs about 40 cents each), and then you can relax knowing that your carpet is sort of cleaner than it was, and you no longer have to sit there wondering how you are going to clean up those colorful little beads and cheerios.

Many say I am a super husband (others say I’m hen-pecked), but I do my share of the cleaning around the house except for dusting, and bathrooms (because I am not genetically capable of doing that correctly). However, I know that the hardest part about cleaning is getting to the point where you are ready to run the sweeper. You have to pick up the shoes, toys, books, laundry, coats, mail, crayons, etc, wipe of the tables (onto the floor of course), and then maybe you are ready to sweep if your kids haven’t already made new mess somewhere else. If I am going to go through all that, why would I want to top it off with a half ass floor sweeping? In between vacuums? If it needs swept, sweep it!!

Also, if you have a bagless sweeper with a collection pot that needs emptied, you already know that most of what gets swept up is stuff that you don’t even see laying on the carpet. It does not take much to vacuuming to come with enough dust, lint, and hair to stuff a regular size bear at the build-a-bear shop at the mall. Only a small portion of what gets vacuumed would make into the swiffer glue trap machine. Right after it mentions on the box that it is meant for “in-between sweepings”, it says it is good for dirt, grass clippings, mulch, kitty litter, small stones. Here is Mr Rythym’s good advice….. if you look around your house and see dirt, mulch, grass clippings and kitty litter on the floor, you are due for a cleaning, not an in-between cleaning, and especially not a half-ass-in-between cleaning.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Inflatable Jesus (Christ!)

Holy inflatable Jesus, Batman!! It seems the inflatable cronies can now celebrate the true meaning of Christmas thanks to the inflatable Holy Family decoration. The only drawback is that you won’t find this at Walmart, the usual wondermall of tacky inflatable goods. I keep searching their website, but I think it has too much of a "God" undertone for them to carry it. They wouldn’t want to insult people by selling merchandise that referenced the concept of religion intermixed with Christmas. I have yet to see one of these pop around my area, but I am sure it will eventually. If nothing else, it towers over 9’ high, which means some with a competitive spirit may consider getting it just to "one-up" their neighbor with the modest 8’ snow globe.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The True Meaning of Christmas....

I am not known to be an overly religious person, but it was refreshing last night to watch a kid’s cartoon (The Charlie Brown Christmas Special), that was made before the ACLU and liberals made it offensive for everyday America to openly celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. In case you missed it, here is the text from the scene where Linus explains to Charlie Brown during the school play what the true meaning of Christmas is….

Lights please….
"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."
"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Designed for Christmas... Febreze Scentstories

Every Christmas shopping season you see some cheesy gifts that are basically designed and marketed to be gifts for some one else. You usually see these items hit the stores big time just before the shopping season. These items are not usually items you would consider buying for yourself, but when they are at the store, seem a little “different or neat”, and are priced at your budget gift amount for someone, they sure do seem like a good idea for someone else. They seem to be priced at $25, $35, $45, etc, which I think many people use as a budget amount for gifts. A couple of years ago, it was the foreman grill, then it was the gizmo cordless cheese grater, last year I think it was the singing santa’s, and this year I have picked up on the Febreze Scentstories disc player scent machine.

This thing looks like a cross between a cd player and a diaper wipe warmer, and has a fan that blows air over a special multi scent disc that rotates in the unit to change the smell every so often. You can also fast forward to the next smell if you get tired of smelling the same thing before 30 minutes is up. The smell is not any different than the glade plug-ins, or a scented candle. This thing, however, is huge, makes noise, and needs to be plugged into the wall. Not to mention the replacement discs costs $15 bucks each for about 50 hours of smell. That works out to be 30 cents an hour to use the thing after the initial investment of $50! Here is Mr. Rythym's good advice… if something in your house stinks, find it and get rid of it. If you want your kitchen to smell like fresh baked cookies, bake some cookies!! It will be cheaper than using this thing, and you can eat the cookies. If you want your house to smell like spiced cider, get some cider and let it simmer on the stove all day!! It will be cheaper, and you get to drink the cider too. I kind of have to wonder why this product even made it to the shelves, and then I remember… It’s Christmas time… and it would be oh so nice to scratch one more person off your list.. and hey, look, its just the right price... Happy Halthanksmas!