Thursday, November 20, 2008

I HATE! Selfishness - Part Deux

Again with this?
Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money
By Josh Levs CNN
(CNN) -- Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, left, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."
He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

The executives -- Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Richard Wagoner of GM -- were seeking support for a $25 billion loan package. Later Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reversed plans to hold a test vote on the measure.

An aide told CNN that Reid decided to cancel the test vote when it became clear the measure would fall well short of the 60 votes needed. Reid did, however, make a procedural move that could allow a vote on a compromise, which several senators from auto-producing states were feverishly trying to craft.

At Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, pressed the private-jet issue, asking the three CEOs to "raise their hand if they flew here commercial."
"Let the record show, no hands went up," Sherman said. "Second, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up."
The executives did not specifically respond to those remarks. In their testimony, they said they are streamlining business operations in general.

When contacted by CNN, the three auto companies defended the CEOs' travel as standard procedure.

Like many other major corporations, all three have policies requiring their CEOs to travel in private jets for safety reasons.

"Making a big to-do about this when issues vital to the jobs of millions of Americans are being discussed in Washington is diverting attention away from a critical debate that will determine the future health of the auto industry and the American economy," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said in a statement.

Chrysler spokeswoman Lori McTavish said in a statement, "while always being mindful of company costs, all business travel requires the highest standard of safety for all employees."

Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker pointed to the company's travel policy and did not provide a statement elaborating.
But those statements did little to mollify the critics.

"If it is simply the company's money at stake, then only the shareholders can be upset or feel as it might be excessive," said Thomas Schatz, president of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

But in this case, he said, "it's outrageous."

"They're coming to Washington to beg the taxpayers to help them. It's unseemly to be running around on a $20,000 flight versus a $500 round trip," Schatz added.

The companies did not disclose how much the flights cost.

Analysts contacted by CNN noted that the prices vary with the size of the plane and the crew, and whether the aircraft is leased or owned by the company.

Analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group said that $20,000 is a legitimate ballpark figure for a round trip corporate jet flight between Detroit, Michigan, and Washington.

When asked whether they plan to change their travel policies as part of the restructuring needed to shore up their finances, none of the companies answered directly. But they said they have cut back on travel in general as revenues have fallen.
What on earth causes people to be so GD idiotic? Let's break this down - the CEOs of the three biggest automobile manufacturing companies come to Washington DC to ask (well, beg is more like it) for a $25 billion bailout. Without this money they say, their companies, as well as the city of Detroit as a whole, will inevitably collapse. This $25 billion they're asking for is money that has been collected by taxes. Money collected from taxes is money taken from taxpayers. And how do these CEOs see is fit to travel to Washington DC to ask for this taxpayer money? THEY EACH FLY TO THE CAPITOL ON THEIR OWN PRIVATE JET. Yes, I'm serious.

How idiotic do you have to be? It's pretty darn obvious that flying a private jet to Washington to lobby Congress to give the companies that you oversee necessary funding is RETARDED. These three CEOs are claiming that they are trying to 'streamline' their businesses to cut back on unnecessary spending and attempt to save their ailing companies. And then, they fly to Washington on private jets. Each of them on an individual jet. In no way can this be considered streamlining. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that when these CEOs say 'streamline' they really mean 'cut jobs while keeping themselves situated in the manner they are presently accustomed'.

The Chrysler spokesman commented on this egregious display of selfishness by saying that 'all business travel requires the highest standard of safety for all employees'. Does that mean that all Chrysler employees fly by private jet? I don't think so. Are we to assume that flying commercial is a imminent danger to the life of the Chrysler CEO? According to the company's spokesman, it seems so. And if that's the case, then flying commercial would be just as dangerous for any and all of the other Chrysler employees - so, by that reasoning, every Chrysler employee from factory workers all the way up to the CEOs should be flying on private jets.

I will say that I genuinely do appreciate Rep. Brad Sherman for taking this issue up the CEOs themselves during their Senate hearing. And when asked whether they would abandon their private jets and fly commercial back to Detroit, none of the CEOs even seemed to acknowledge this idea as a good or wise one. This is why our country's economy is slowly, but surely, going down the shitter - pure, unbridled selfishness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I HATE! Improper Yoga Etiquette

I have all but given up exercise, which is undeniably sad and pathetic, but the truth is that I absolutely hate the gym - the essence of things like the Stair-master (climbing and climbing, but not getting anywhere), the elliptical machine (I cannot, for the life of me, get my legs to move on one of those things without instantaneously feeling them turn into jelly), and free weights (only for men with no necks) is lost on me. Don’t get me wrong: I am not one of those girls who can ‘eat whatever I want without exercising and never gain a pound’. It’s quite the opposite actually; what I eat goes right to my belly - the effect at it’s worst is similar to a nice fluffy doughnut wrapped snugly around my stomach - so I really do need to work at it if I want to be able to see my feet from above.

So it’s come to this: the only exercise I will willingly participate in is yoga and (ideally) / or soccer. I have already discussed both of these activities on this blog (specifically referring to instances during each where I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being kicked in the face), I know, but today I am going to address some other disturbing trends I’ve noticed during classes of the former.

I actually have lots of beef with the yoga studio where I take classes, but then again, it’s also free (well, actually, the proper term is ‘donation-based’, something the instructors remind us ever-so-robotically at the end of each and every class), so I can’t really do too much complaining. I tend not to want to bite the hand that feeds me, so I’ll generally just (try to) stick to bitching about the other attendees.

5. Dudes in yoga: Just. Gross. I’m really sorry. I don’t mean to be gender-biased here, but there is just something about seeing guys do yoga that really rubs me the wrong way. This applies to all guys - straight guys, gay guys, fat guys, skinny guys, beefed-up guys, pale guys, tan guys, short guys, tall guys. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s just kind of gross. It might be the general visual of hairy toes and hairy backs and sweat all rolled up into one. Male yoga instructors fall into this category as well. (And yes, I’m totally straight.)

4. Showing off: If you’re really flexible, that’s awesome. If you’re fantastic at yoga, congrats. If you can stand on your head without wobbling for a full minute, you deserve a medal, honestly, but there is a place and time for showing off your skills. And, at the risk of sounding bitter, a (glorified) beginner’s yoga class is not the time to showcase your mastery. The classes that I attend ALWAYS have some ass hat trying to show the whole crowd how flexible she is or how all of his ribs stick out when he does a bridge. I am at yoga class to get my own blubbery ass into shape - as are more of the people who attend - and it doesn’t make anyone feel calm or relaxed when we have some chick in spandex booty shorts and a sports bra holding a one-footed bind for 5 minutes without breaking a sweat. The thing is, you can always determine which people are simply practiced and which people are making it a point to show people how practiced they are. It’s all in the mat placement. I, for one, not being super-confident in my yoga abilities, always race to the very back row, but those who live to make everyone else feel bad about themselves position him or herself in the very front row, right next to the instructor. It’s more than obvious.

3. Unequal instruction: Now this has only happened to me once, but when I noticed it, I was so horrified, that I have never forgotten it. The scene was just any other yoga class - nothing out of the ordinary. This particular studio trains a lot of instructors - I almost always have someone different for each class and repeats in instructors have been rare in my experience. This particular instructor, let’s call her Bambi for anonymity’s sake, was a petite woman, probably about my age (23 or 24). She was pretty scantily clad, which, as you’ve probably gathered from #4 above, I didn’t appreciate, especially because the instructors don’t actually do any of the poses, completely negating the need for Bambi’s extremely ‘unrestrictive’ attire. But that is all beside the point. Getting back on track - often instructors will come around to the students and adjust them so that their bodies are in the poses correctly - basically just correcting whoever hasn’t got it down right. Bambi came around, in the same manner as all of her colleagues, but, low and behold, she only seemed interested in attending to (and touching) the gentlemen in the class. Thinking that maybe I was imagining this, I watched her throughout the entire class and, in fact, she NEVER even went near one of the females in the class. Ummmm, obvious much? And not only was it obvious, but it was shameless too. Did this girl, not unfortunate-looking by any means, really need to use her yoga class to pick up guys (most of whom were probably gay anyway)?

2. Inappropriate attire: I have already touched on this, I know, but it really does irk me when people choose to wear clothing that is clearly not appropriate for yoga. Let’s get this straight: in yoga, you’re flexing, you’re squatting, you’re spread-eagle... I don’t think I need to spell it out, but listen, there is simply no need to wear flimsy running shorts which give the person behind you a complete view of your inner-workings. Get my drift? And considering that everyone is facing in the same direction, there is no way to avoid getting the money shot if the person in front of your chooses not to dress properly. It’s pretty bad from both perspectives; embarrassing if you suddenly realize you’ve been flashing the entire three rows behind the entire class and nauseating if you have someone’s bikini line staring back at you for the full hour.

1. Excessive moaning: This is, by far, my biggest yoga pet peeve because there is 100% no need for it. If you’ve ever been to yoga you know what I’m talking about. Yoga is all about the breathing (well, that’s what the instructors always say anyway, but I’ve just never been able to get it down), and taking big inhales and exhales as you do the sequence of poses. I got it. I get it. But the kind of moaning I’ve heard during some of my classes is completely unnecessary. There is one girl, let’s refer to her as Big L, who I’ve been in class with, purely by chance, on numerous occasions. She moans so loudly and so frequently that I just want to tap her on the shoulder and tell her that she sounds fucking ridiculous and needs to shut the fuck up. There is no need. The incessant moaning only makes other people feel uncomfortable. I know the yoga can feel great on the body, but this isn’t orgasm class. We’re not practicing our most convincing sex noises. This is yoga. The moaning needs to find it’s way back to Big L’s bedroom. Best case scenario, I am launched into a fit of uncontrollable laughing (which is also probably not so conducive to yoga). Worst case scenario, I finally hit my quota, get up, and punch a bitch.

I HATE! Being Kicked in the Face

Have you ever been kicked in the face? Unless you're a blackbelt in karate, experienced equestrian, and/or avid babysitter, probably not. But I have - several times in the last few weeks, in fact - and trust me, it's not enjoyable.

Kick in the Face #1

Location: St Marks & 3rd - Yoga to the People

I go through these phases where I am really into doing yoga as much as possible. It was during one of these phases that I went to a yoga class at a little downtown studio called Yoga to the People. If you've ever been to YTTP, you know that it is a 'donation-based studio' (as the various instructors ALWAYS remind you in a seemingly uniform and memorized monologue at the end of class, right before those eardrum-crushing Tibetan Singing Bowls) and therefore, the instructors try to pack as many people per square inch as they possibly can into each class. More people = more donations, obvi. Simple math. Anyway, because people are packed into these classes like cattle, room to actually practice the yoga poses correctly becomes a bit of hot commodity. In other words, there is no room to move. Basically, it was only a matter of time before someone's foot ended up in my face.

On this particular evening, the yoga studio was packed to the gills and sweaty as a sweatsuit-clad fat man in the Sahara. I was uncomfortable and irritated before the class even started. It didn't take long before Warrior One became problematic; with only a few inches of space between my face and the foot of the girl in front of me, I was constantly having to readjust in order to avoid a swift kick to the schnoz. But despite all my careful movement, it happened anyway and just as I predicted it would. As the girl in front of me lifted her leg before going into Warrior One, she hit me - full on. I could see it happening as if I was having an out-of-body-experience. In slow motion, the girl's foot grazed my chin, then dragged itself vertically across my face. It was shocking, disgusting, and more importantly, infuriating. Who wants another person's probably sweaty, callous-and-bunion-ridden, fungal foot rubbing up against what you use to eat with? It's totally and utterly disgusting. And what's more, the asshole didn't even apologize! After the class was over, she turned around briefly and gave me a momentary sympathetic glance and that was it. Horrific! Horrific! I had the fleeting thought to grab her foot and rip it off. But then I thought better of it; leaving a girl with a bloodied stump for a foot probably wouldn't bode well for me in the long run.

But I think it's safe to say I was scarred for life; I don't think I've been back to yoga since.

Kick in the face #2, #3, #4...

Location: 68th and 2nd - Julia Richman Education Complex

I almost tried to beat up a 6-foot, 7-inch boy last weekend. I was playing in the last game of a rather unsuccessful recreational soccer league season. Including myself, 5 people showed up for the game. Keep in mind, 5 people is how many you need to play. We had no subs. Most of the other people on the team (save for a few exceptions, mostly cocky asshole guys) seemingly decided that since our record was sub-par and because we had no chance of making it into the league playoffs, that they wouldn't show up for the last game. I was staring at the fact that out-of-shape me would have to play the entire game. In other words, I was already irritable and pissed.

We started to play and the score quickly became 6 - 0. Big surprise given that we had no subs and that the other team was playing with a full arsenal of seemingly-professional caliber players. One of these being a kid who probably topped out at 6-foot, 7-inches. Dude was a giant and thus, I will affectionately name him The Giant. Don't get me wrong here, I grew up playing rough-and-tumble co-ed soccer, so I know how to hold my own when playing with overly-competitive, overly-cocky, and overly-aggressive boys. This kid, surprise surprise, was no different. During the course of the game, The Giant continually tried to wow us all with his fancy footwork, but the problem was that he was just simply too long and lanky and kept constantly tripping over his own ginormous feet. It was pretty comical actually and I definitely laughed out-loud on more than one occasion. But this story is not all giggles and laughter, another side-effect of the The Giant being so, well, giant and long and lanky was that when he kicked, his foot would pretty much come to normal-person face-level. This didn't present itself as a problem until The Giant started playing offense and I started playing defense. In other words there were several moments of foot-to-face contact - and it was not pleasant. Having a foot constantly coming at your face is scary, especially when it's large enough to knock your head completely off your neck! By the end of the game, I wanted to throttle The Giant, but my exasperation was a wasted emotion; even if I'd wanted to start a fight, I wouldn't have been able to reach his face to punch him. Sigh.

Nevertheless, getting kicked in the face isn't pleasant; it could be the foot of some ditsy girl in yoga or the monstrous appendage of the giant that came down the beanstalk for Jack, it doesn't matter. Feet are f-ing disgusting and can be very damaging, especially if they meet with a face. Just ask Jackie Chan.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I HATE! Adults Wearing Cartoon Character Clothing

Look - when you reach a certain age, there are certain things that are just no-longer acceptable. As much as we try to fend off the years with endless amounts of plastic surgery, anti-aging creams, and spa treatments, it's impossible to stop the aging process. After you hit 25, you need to lose the belly shirts, jeans that prominently display your thong to the world when you bend over, those bras with the clear straps (SO TACKY), etc. It's inevitable; at some point, you have to accept the fact that trying to hold on to the last remnants of your youth is futile. Thus said, I am going to propose that another item be added to that list of things not acceptable for adults: clothing featuring cartoon characters.

Ideally wearing this type of clothing should stop after the 2nd grade, but we're not all that clued-in. And it's surprising how many members of the over-25 set I've spotted in Minnie and Mickey tee-shirts, SpongeBob sweatshirts, and Looney Tunes bomber jackets. It's really mind-boggling. Not only do you look ridiculous when sporting 'toon attire after the age of 7, but any article of clothing I've seen that with a cartoon character on it reeks of trashiness. And I hate to say it, but I'm just trying to be honest here; there seems to be a direct correlation between how 'white trash' an individual is and the frequency in which said individual wears cartoon character clothing. I'm just saying.

But regardless of the stereotype I introduced above, my main problem here is that some people simply cannot accept the fact that they're grown and that certain articles of clothing are no loner appropriate. I don't think any one can argue with the fact that a 32-year-old woman with a beer belly should, under no circumstance, wear a mid-drift exposing top or have her navel pierced. Read: not appropriate. Nor should a 45-year-old guy wear his pants so low that you could have a picnic on his plaid boxer-clad ass. It's basic common sense. Some things you just have to let go of with age. Cartoon character clothing included. There is nothing cute about a mother-of-four traipsing around town in a Winnie the Pooh sweatsuit.
Note: It has also come to my attention (see photo above) that cartoon character clothing may, in some circles, be considered badass. My answer to this is simply: no. Not possible - there is NOTHING intimidating about someone with a huge picture of Mickey Mouse silk-screened across his or her chest. Unless Mickey magically comes to life, grabs a gun, jumps off the t-shirt, and jacks me up, I'm not exactly running down the block.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I HATE! Smelling Like the Restaurant You Were Just In

Does it do any good to complain about something you can't change? No, probably not. But obviously, that is not the point of this blog. Do I think that I can influence people out of their ignorance, oblivion, self-absorption, or stupidity? No, course not. Do I think that through this blog I am able to magically make the changes I wish to see in the world. Clearly, I do not believe that I can. My point here is this: some of these postings are simply created as a venting mechanism and I know there is nothing I can do to change the unfortunate ways of the world.

That being said, I would, today, like to address a very important issue. A few weeks ago, I went to have Mexican food with my friend Robby. I had a burrito, a glass of red sangria, and more tortilla chips than is healthy to consume in one sitting. The restaurant was nothing special - not high-end nor low-rent. It was festively decorated and more importantly, the food was very yummy. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the dining experience... that was until I got outside.

Robby and I decided that a bottle of wine might be a nice way to finish our evening and as we ventured into the wine shop across the street, I began to notice the aroma of Mexican food was following me. At first, I just thought we could still smell the fumes from the restaurant from across the street, but as we entered the shop, it became strikingly apparent that I was what smelled like Mexican food. In fact, I smelled like I had just been stuffed with re-fried beans, cheese, gauc, steak, rice, and sour cream and then thrown into the deep fryer. Ick! Ugh! Gross!

I can absolutely not stand smelling like the food I have just consumed and frankly, I take it as a bad sign when you carry the smell of the restaurant you've just eaten in to every other place you go afterwards. Furthermore, this phenomenon causes me to avoid such establishments all together. If you can't keep the smell of cooking food in the kitchen, there is something seriously wrong. Don't get the wrong idea here, I love it when food comes out of the kitchen piping hot and smelling amazing, but that scent should not seep into your clothes and hair and follow you home like a stray puppy. To me, that is a tragic sign of bad food preparation - trans fats, lard, deep-frying, unidentifiable meat products - these words come to mind.

I really feel like this has to be some sort of health code violation - isn't there a regulatory policy regarding poisoning your patrons with the crippling scent of the food served? If not, there certainly should be. It could be very hazardous to your health - suppose you leave a restaurant smelling intensely of the grilled lamb chops you just enjoyed and on the way home the scent attracts a pack of wild dogs who then proceed to attack and maul you because they think you're packing lamb chops? This is a very plausible scenario.

But the thing is, you know the moment when you walk into a restaurant whether you're going to be taking a souvenir home with you after your meal - and I don't mean a doggie bag. For example, this past weekend, I was with my mother in the classiest city in the world, AC. And for lunch, after deciding that we both were craving hamburgers, we ventured into Johnny Rockets. I know, I know - Johnny Rockets isn't a 4-star establishment, but the food is yummy - especially when you're jonesing for a greasy loaded-up cheeseburger and fries. it's the kind of place that really hits the spot. Anyway, the moment I walked into the place, I knew I (and my brand-new wool coat) was going to carry the scent of the griddle with me for the rest of the day. The place reeked of grease. The air was saturated with the scent. You know when people use the phrase 'cut the tension with a knife'? Well, I think I could have cut the greasy air with a knife. It was horribly disgusting. I could feel the greasy and pungent odor permeating my pores, my hair, and my clothing. I almost couldn't finish my barbecue sauce-slathered, onion ring and bacon-topped cheeseburger... almost. No need to fret - I did manage to get it down.

And the moment I did, I got out of there as fast as I could... leaving a trail of the scent of cheeseburger down the boardwalk behind me.