Friday, February 29, 2008

Money Well Spent

Please forgive me for the shameless product endorsement you are about to read.

I know it's not exactly the most sound financial move in the world, but I am one of those people who claims zero deductions on my federal withholding so that I can be guaranteed a nice, fat tax return every year. I like to think of it as my government-sponsored savings account.

And every year, as soon as I receive my W-2, I file my taxes.

In my younger years, the extra money always came in handy for catching up or getting a little ahead on my bills. But in the last few years, I've used the money toward some sort of luxury. In 2006, it was a tropical vacation to beautiful Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Last year, it was a clothes shopping spree and a new digital camera. This year, it was a Dyson DC15 Absolute Animal.

Now, I know that a lot of people would question the wisdom of spending $500.00 on a vacuum. I was one such person. I researched them thoroughly - talking to people to owned them, reading online reviews from customers, using my mom's while I was home for Christmas, and even subscribing to the ever-trustworthy Consumer Reports. And except for a few detractors, the feedback was positive, so I decided to go ahead and buy the Dyson and therefore do my part to help boost the sagging US economy.

My initial reaction? My new vacuum sucks. I mean it REALLY sucks.

Smelly the Wonder Dog, although short-haired, sheds like a monkey with the mange. Add to that her extremely dry skin, and Ship's fair-haired kitty, and you've got a house full of pet hair and dander. My first test for my new Dyson was the 10 x 12 area rug in our living room. (*Before I go on, I feel the need to explain that, while I won't be winning any Good Housekeeping awards any time soon, I DO vacuum on a fairly regular basis - in fact the house had been vacuumed in it's entirety just 5 days earlier.)

Two and a half. That's how many times I filled my Dyson from just that one rug. I was dumbfounded. I was awe struck. I was - disgusted. How was that possible? My rug was, quite literally, a different color. And I didn't sneeze once, unlike when I used my old Hoover Wind Tunnel. There is an attachment for just about every conceivable purpose, and there is none of that awkward fumbling with the poles that you have to put together. It's bagless, but unlike most of the bagless vacs I've used in the past, when you empty it, the dust and dirt don't fly back up in your face and get all over your hands.

My complaints? It doesn't have a light. I didn't think it would be a big deal, but you don't realize how handy a headlight is until you don't have one. Also, how hard is it to put a retractable cord on an upright vacuum? My final complaint - it whistles. It's like this high-pitched noise that kind of gets under my skin, but not enough to turn it off. These gripes, however, are far outweighed by the sheer joy I get everytime I turn that little beauty on.

If I had it to do all over again, I would GLADLY plunk down the $500.00 without a moment's hesitatiion. If you need a new vacuum, definitely give the Dyson a nice, long look. It's reputation is not just a lot of hype - it really is that damned good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What About Bob?

With the writer's strike now officially over, couch potatoes across America are finally able to let out a collective sigh of relief. Things are starting to get back in gear on some of our favorite shows, while others will have to wait until next fall or (GASP!) January.

But there is one question that I've been asking since November - What about Bob?

You know Bob - he's the guy behind the scenes. He's a production assistant, or a key grip, or gaffer, or works for craft services. he is the guy who lives with a few buddies from film school so that he can afford his ridiculously high LA rent. He's the guy who was already working a second job handing out fliers for Mr. Cluck's in an itchy, smelly chicken costume. What happened to him?

The actors were out in full force supporting the writers. We saw the faces of all of our favorite stars (and some we loathe) on the picket lines. But these are people who have amassed huge fortunes over the years - making 7-figure salaries for movies and up to 6-figure salaries for each episode of a long-running TV series. I don't mean to detract from their support - it's great that they showed solidarity - but trust me on this: it's a lot easier to be "noble" when you've got a couple million bucks in your bank account.

Don't get me wrong - I understand the importance of the unions and striking; they are a powerful tool to help keep the big, bad corporations and media conglomerates from taking advantage of the little guys. But during all of this, who was watching out for Bob?

And now that everything is getting rolling again, does Bob even have a job anymore? Are our favorite shows going to be staffed by the same good folks who've been working behind the scenes all along?

I don't suppose there is much that we as viewers can do to make sure that Bob still has a job. (After all, picketing is so over-done right now.) But the next time you catch yourself complaining about how "Lost" is only 8 episodes, or how you don't know how you can wait another 10 months for your Jack Bauer fix, take a few seconds to think about Bob. I can guarantee that the strike has been a hell of a lot harder on him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's Already the Middle of February? WTF?!

I had lofty aspirations of blogging my brains out this year. It wasn't necessarily a New Years resolution, but I felt like I could really benefit from having a creative outlet. Well, it's now officially into the second half of February, and this is my first blog post of the year. Pretty sad.

This is a breakdown of what's going on with and around me of late:
  • Work still sucks (don't bother asking me if I'm looking for a new job, because I'm not)
  • My baby cousin got locked up for buying crack cocaine (and is starting an in-patient detox program tomorrow)
  • Ship and C-Reg are now "just friends" (yeah, right)
  • I made a new friend, Jay-Emz, who represents everything good about human beings (but who unfortunately lives in the incestuous hell-hole known as Reston)
  • I rearranged by bedroom furniture and now I feel like I live in a new place
  • I've decided that I want to learn to speak another language (I'm thinking French)
  • My friend Kimmah is no longer single (we're both very happy about this)
  • I have curbed my shopping and have been dumbfounded at how much money I have managed to save (in related news, Lane Bryant stock prices have plummeted)
  • My parents remodeled their kitchen (finally)
  • I'm heading off for an early camping trip in Mid-March and fully intend to freeze my arse off (Smelly will be staying home in the warmth)
  • I miss my JoZaff because we never get to see each other anymore and that makes me very, very sad

Unfortunately, that's about it. No new adventures in dating, no exciting forays into international intrigue, and (thankfully) no utterly heartbreaking losses.

Until next time . . .