The Evil Ticketmaster

When I was in college, the student paper would always refer to Ticketmaster as The Evil Ticketmaster. They were evil then and are still evil. Ticketmaster, as far as I know, invented the term “convenience charge” which they use to apply to anything. In 1994 one of the most popular bands in the country, Pearl Jam, was preparing to go on tour. They decided to sell tickets for only $18 and said fees could be no more than 10%, keeping the ticket price less than $20. The Evil Tickemaster was hungry and would not allow anyone to tell it how to do business. Besides, how could they do business without charging at least $3.75 per $18 ticket? So they retaliated against Pearl Jam by telling all the concert places in the country that they were not to book anything with Pearl Jam. The venues, with exclusive Ticketmaster contracts, locked Pearl Jam out. Further, Ticketmaster had exclusive deals with promoters, so no one would promote the tour. The tour was cancelled.

Anyway . . .

Susan called me about a free Christmas concert by the Fox Theater’s organist and wanted me to get 5 tickets online. One thing great about the Fox is that you can go to their box office at least and avoid Ticketmaster fees. However, to get tickets online you had to go through Ticketmaster. They pointed out that there was a convenience charge of 75 cents per ticket. Also, if you wanted to print the tickets at home, there was a $2.50 charge for that. By the way, the only way to get the tickets is to print them at home. So I go to check out. Seems like the total should be $6.25. But The Evil Ticketmaster wasn’t done. Now that there was a total, they tacked on an order processing fee of $3.15.

Merry Christmas from Satan at The Evil Ticketmaster

Squirrels

Katie is always very interested in squirrels when we go for walks. But they always run behind trees. Then when Katie runs up to the tree, she looks behind it, like the squirrel might still be there. As if by magic, the squirrel has vanished. But, just like Kahn in Star Trek II, Katie doesn’t think in three dimensions and does not realize the squirrel has scampered up the back side of the tree. (Austin, however, is more like Kirk and fully realizes the squirrels are going up where he keeps an eye on them and will bark at them sometimes).

Today on our walk some signs on yellow 8.5×11 paper had been posted along one street saying “DO NOT PARK STREET TO BE PAVED.” About halfway up the street, Katie saw a squirrel which ran behind a tree just like always. And Katie pulled me along to the tree so she could look behind it for the squirrel. Only today, there was the squirrel! And she almost got it in her mouth before it jumped off of the tree trunk and across the street. On the back of the tree a yellow piece of paper had foiled the squirrel’s plan and it wouldn’t try to get past the sign (which blocked most of the back side of the fairly skinny tree). Also, the microprocessor that is a squirrel’s brain somehow prevented it from giving away the trade secret by going to the front of the tree to get around the sign. So it was just stuck until Katie came along.

Good day for streets and Katie. Bad day for squirrels.

4 GB SDHC Card

When I got my Palm TX last year, one of the features I liked was that it would hold up to a 4 gigabyte (GB) SD card. At the time SD cards of that size were about $60 and Fry’s had 2 GB cards for $12. So I wound up buying three 2 GB cards. I put TV shows on one and music on another and would alternate them, listening to music on the way to work while reading the paper and watching TV shows on the way home. I can put 8 30-minute shows on one card and 430 songs on the other (which takes me a couple of months to go through). But if I had one big card I wouldn’t have to swap them out. I never really had much use for the third card. My idea was to put a long playlist on one card and a collection of CD’s on the other card. But since I listen to CD’s in the car, I just listen to the playlist on the Palm. I could put all of this on the nano, I guess, which has 8 GB, but the screen on the nano is much smaller and I would have to change the format of the video files from .avi to .mp4.

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Water Heater

After deciding against an on-demand hot water system, I went out this weekend and bought a General Electric 12-year 40 gallon natural gas water heater. Consumer Reports and others recommend getting longer life water heaters because not only should they last longer, but you are getting other extras like added insulation, a better burner, and faster heat-up times. There is not nearly the selection available for water heaters as there is for refrigerators. The differences in energy consumption are pretty minor. Disappointingly, even though Home Depot calls this a “high-efficiency” water heater, the Energy Guide on the side indicates it will use 254 therms out of a range going from 234 to 258. So “high efficiency” means 4 therms less the least efficient heater in the entire class. This is still more efficient than my old one which was rated for 319 therms per year. Sears has a 12-year model that only uses 238 therms, but GE heaters use a magnesium anode which is supposed to be better than the aluminum ones used by some Sears heaters (I couldn’t tell from the Sears website what the 12-year tank’s anode is made of). Not that Sears makes theirs (they are made by A.O. Smith). GE doesn’t even make theirs (they are made by Rheem). Not many choices and very difficult to shop online. From most efficient to least efficient there is only a 10% difference.

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Rainfall Gauge

For my birthday, Susan gave me an electronic, wireless rainfall gauge. Not that it will get much use, but it should be pretty neat and beats the bucket on my front porch that I had been using to measure rainfall previously. I’ve always wanted one, ever since I wrote a paper in my college Hydrology course called “Rainfall Gauges: Our Funnel-Shaped Friends.” This one is by Oregon Scientific so it should be compatible with my network of indoor/outdoor thermometers. In fact, it came with another remote thermometer, so now I have a backup (you can only have three).

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Medieval Times

Some friends of Susan’s invited her to go to Medieval Times restaurant. She asked me if I would like her to take me there as a birthday dinner. I had never been and I don’t even think I’ve known people who have gone, but I was game. As I told Susan, it should be like the Renaissance Festival without the porta potties.

We did a little research the night before to see what we were getting into. It’s kind of like dinner theater where the show is people dressed as knights fighting and riding around on horses.

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Money Machine Is Rusty

I started pointing my Amazon links back to my account since November commissions won’t be paid until 2008. I have no idea what sales were like during the blackout period that started July 1. However, I do know that Apple introduced a whole new line of iPods in that time. So during the first 8 days of sales, only one order seems to have been placed. It was for multiple items and generated a couple of dollars in commissions, but this is nowhere close to what was happening in July when I was making sales almost every day. I’m not sure what the deal is, but at least part of it has to be that the new iPods have batteries that last a lot longer. My new nano rarely needs to be plugged in. Even the iPod Classics have much longer battery life than the previous generation.

It’s still free money, so I can’t complain. It’s just not as much.