November 28, 2008

I Hope the Sale Was Worth It!

To the people who broke down the doors in a Long Island Wal-Mart and trampled that poor man to death. I hope the crappy discount was worth it. It seems, to you, that a human life is worth less than a 20%-50% discount on some useless item.

Article here:

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

Published: November 28, 2008

A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York died after he was trampled by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a Hobbesian frenzy.

At 4:55 a.m., just five minutes before the doors were set to open, a crowd of 2,000 anxious shoppers started pushing, shoving and piling against the locked sliding glass doors of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., Nassau County police said. The shoppers broke the doors off their hinges and surged in, toppling a 34-year-old temporary employee, Jdimypai Damour of Jamaica, Queens, who had been waiting with other workers in the store’s entryway.

People did not stop to help the employee as he lay on the ground, and they pushed against other Wal-Mart workers who were trying to aid Mr. Damour. The crowd kept running into the store even after the police arrived, jostling and pushing officers who were trying to perform CPR, the police said.

“They were like a stampede,” said Nassau Det. Lt. Michael Fleming. “Hundreds of people walked past him, over him or around him.”

Mr. Damour was taken from the Wal-Mart to nearby Franklin Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., the police said. His exact cause of death has not been determined. The police said that three other shoppers were injured and a 28-year-old woman who was eight months pregnant was taken to the hospital for observation.

One shopper, Kimberly Cribbs, said she was standing near the back of the crowd at around 5 a.m. on Friday when people started rushing into the store. She said several people were knocked to the ground, and parents had to grab their children by the hand to keep them from being caught in the crush.

“They were falling all over each other,” she said. “It was terrible.”

Crowds began building outside the Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. Thursday and grew throughout the night, as eager shoppers queued up in a line that filled the sidewalk and stretched toward the boundary fence of the Green Acres Mall.

At 3:30 a.m., store employees called the Nassau police to report that the crowd was growing quickly, the police said. Officers came by to try to organize the line, but were called away to a Circuit City, a Best Buy and a B.J.’s Wholesale Club nearby, to deal with crowds there.

A half-dozen Wal-Mart employees lined up in the entryway trying to hold back the crowd by pushing against the locked sliding doors, but they were overwhelmed by the force of the crowd, Lieutenant Fleming said.

As the doors snapped open and people streamed in, several people fell on top of one another. The 34-year-old employee who died was at the bottom of the pile, the police said.

On Friday, Wal-Mart released a statement saying that the man who was killed had been working for Wal-Mart through a temp agency. The company called the death “a tragic situation,” and said it was working with police.

“The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.

Lieutenant Fleming said that the store “could have done more” to prevent the melee.

“I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it’s not,” he said. “This certainly was foreseeable.”

Posted by Valkyre at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pumpkin Pies are cooked, cooling on their wire racks. The turkey is in the oven. In a little while, I am going to sit down and watch, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Posted by Valkyre at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2008

Third Party Billing Scam - Blvd Network (Update)

Back on October 31st, I posted an entry about Blvd Network. A third party billing scam company. They're all over Google with complaints of people being scammed by them. I got an e-mail from them stating that they were going to start billing me for a service I supposedly ordered. I ignored it, because I thought that AT&T had removed third party billing from our phone bill. Guess what? AT&T didn't keep up their end of the bargain and there was a charge from the scam company. I called their 1-800 number to have it removed. I was livid!!! I wanted to keep my cool, but when I heard their chipper recording come on, I lost it. When I finally got a real person, I let loose. I have to admit, she remained calm. However, I would hope that one would get a spine, if they work for a company that makes a living ripping people off. I'm sure that you are going to get loads of angry calls from people who are being fraudulently charged and scammed from this company. She tried to snippingly tell me that I ordered this shit. However, I supposedly put down my maiden name. The maiden name she read back to me was WRONG! Then she asked how long I had had that phone number. "Why do you need this? Just take the charge off of my phone bill!" Then she wanted my home address! "Just take the charge off of my phone bill!!!!" They don't need this shit! I posted a thread about this over on Justin's site and Doctor Olds found some information about them, that I will post here:

Top 2 Google results on their phone number 866-518-0933 are here (3rd though 6th are to their web sites and ):

ESBI, INC. And Its Affiliated Companies Scamming Telephone Customers with Fraudulent Voice Mail Subscriptions Palm Harbor, Florida And San Antonio, Texas

ESBI/ billing On Behalf Of Blvd Network Llc Made false charges on my Verizon phone bill San Antonio Texas
*UPDATE *UPDATE ..Esbi out of San Antonio Tx 782290206

Google hid this as a similar result:

Blvd Network ESBI charged Embarq for Voicemail from BLVD Network that was never ordered. Palm Harbor Florida

Then the very last result (only 1 page of results by phone #):

blvd network llc - Billed for service never ordered

It looks like they are not new to this with a different number of 888-295-3724 shows a few reports. Listed different website at

ESBI - BLVD Network LLC Electronic Fax Mo Fee Phone Bill Ripoff Nationwide
*Consumer Suggestion ..Try / ESBI ENHANCED WEB SITE

ESBI ESBI is charging me 13.63 3rd party threw Embarq. I am the only one who makes decisions on this phone/bill and I never authorized this charge. Apopka Internet

Roctel And ESBI ripoff phone service that I never requested just appears on my Verizon phone bill! Rochester New York

ESBI - Total Protectionplus Falsely charged on Verizon bill second time this year for voicemail service with ID theft protection. NEVER ORDERED IT!!! Baytown Internet

Enhanced Billing Services, Inc. Complaints - Billed for services not requested or received

Cramming -- August 16, 2005

And another number of 800-460-0078 shows a bunch more.

Orbit TelecomOrbit Telecom Enhanced Services Billing ripoff Added a charge to my VERIZON phone bill due to a survey Plantation Florida


Report: Enhanced Services Billing - Platinum Benefit Group - PBG Benefits - USA VoiceMail, Q Interactive

I wish that the State Attorney General of Florida would looks into these scamsters. And, I wish that AT&T would do something. But, they too don't seem to give a shit.

Posted by Valkyre at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2008

The Puppies Have Gone Global

Seems these little guys have become an internet sensation. I'm not the only one who finds them addictive. And soothing.:

Article here

Puppy Cam wranglers: 'No, you can't have one'

A little more about those fuzzy faces 4 million viewers have come to adore

By Helen A.S. Popkin
updated 5:50 a.m. PT, Fri., Nov. 21, 2008

In a few short weeks it will be over, and then how will we go on? Think about out. Four million Shibu Inu Puppy Cam fans worldwide gained inner peace simply by tuning into to watch the real-time streaming video exploits of six adorable pups on their way to doghood.

Alas, we can’t help but see what’s coming — even though we’re all loath to admit it. Autumn, Ayumi, Amaya (the girls) and Aki, Akoni and Ando (the boys) turned only six weeks old on Nov. 18, yet grow less puppy-like every day.

Sure they still nap like babies and have yet to develop any sense of personal space (Oh, is that your head? I will step/sit/chew on it).

But their once Ewok-shaped heads are growing more elegant and defined. Soon they’ll be off to their “Forever Homes,” already adopted by loving families before most of the planet knew these pups existed. Thanks to the surprise hit of the Fall Internet season, is outfitting each puppy’s new family with its own Doggie Cams so we can continue to watch their exploits as the mature.

Even as the end of Puppy Cam nears, how much do we really know about the puppies? The couple who are the puppies’ people parents never foresaw this kind of popularity — and even now amid the media hubbub, they wish to remain anonymous. Still, Technotica was lucky enough to score an e-mail interview with the “Puppy Wranglers,” so we can all learn a little bit more about those fuzzy faces we’ve grown to love.

Technotica: Why Puppy Cam?

Puppy Wrangler: The Shiba Inu Puppy Cam was simply a way in which my wife and I could check in on our pups to make sure they were safe while we were away from the house. A coworker spied the Webcam on one of my monitors and asked if they could get the link. After that, it appears it took off like that old Breck commercial from the 1970's, "You told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so and and ..."

T: Have you done “life casting” before?

PW: Outside of watching “The Truman Show,” no, we have not.

T: Were you surprised at the response?

PW: Surprised is the understatement of the year. We had no idea it would become such a worldwide phenomenon.

T: What’s the weirdest or most surprising thing that’s happened since the Puppy Cam went “viral?”

PW: Besides being viewed by people in over 40 countries around the globe? Well, we are definitely humbled by the many stories we receive from people about how the puppies have helped them through tough times.

T: What should people enchanted with the puppies know about Shiba Inus before considering adopting one?

PW: Shibas are generally (a) very independent and intelligent dog breed. Most Shibas must always be on a leash or in an enclosed area because of their tendency to have a strong prey drive. However, early socialization with various types of other animals, people, places and things while they are still young will help them later on in life.

T: Would a Shibu Inu be a good dog for the Obama daughters in the White House?

Want to learn more about Shiba Inus?

"Shibas are generally a very independent and intelligent dog breed. Most Shibas must always be on a leash or in an enclosed area because of their tendency to have a strong prey drive. However early socialization with various types of other animals, people, places and things while they are still young will help them later on in life."

To learn more about the breed or the many Shibas waiting to be adopted from the various rescue organizations around the country, visit the National Shiba Club of America Web site:

The Puppy Wrangers also recommend reading Shiba Inus (Complete Pet Owner's Manual) by Laura Payton.
PW: Honestly, it is probably not my first recommendation as I have been told that the Obama daughters require a hypoallergenic dog. Additionally, most of Shiba Inus must be kept on leash or in a secured/fenced location due to their high prey drive. We do wish the Obamas the best in choosing the right dog for their family.

T: What do people ask most about the puppies (my bet is their sleep schedule)?

PW: The most common question is, "Can I have one?"

To that we ask that interested people really do their research on the breed, any dog breed for that manner, before making both a monetary and life-long investment. As in any relationship you want to make sure that the breed fits YOUR temperament and lifestyle.

Once you have one picked, do not immediately run off and go to the local pet store to purchase a puppy/dog. Spend a little time researching reputable breeders as they strive in each breeding to achieve the highest quality possible, relative to the breed standard for conformation, temperament and health by breeding only physically sound dogs of stable temperament that are free of known inheritable defects.

A pet store puppy, on the other hand, usually comes from puppy mills whose main goal is for making a profit regardless of genetic issues. And let us not forget that there are many wonderful Shibas that are waiting to be adopted from the various rescue organizations around the country.

T: People in the chat area next to the Puppy Cam often express concern about how much the puppies sleep – but that’s just normal for puppies, right?

PW: The puppies sleep cycle is regulated by their little bodies and they are constantly growing. Much like a human baby the first stages of their life are generally about sleeping, eating and exploring their environment ... in that order. And don't you worry, we turn the Webcam and lights off each night to let the puppies get their beauty sleep.

T: Anything else puppy cam fans should know – about the puppies, the breed, etc.?

If people are interested in the breed I would recommend going to the National Shiba Club of America Web site or reading "Shiba Inus (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)" by Laura Payton.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2008

Warning! Addictive!

Live streaming video by Ustream

Someone has set up a webcam aimed at a litter of Shiba Inu puppies. It is so cute sitting here watching them.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2008

A Bittersweet Picture

My heart goes out to all those who lost their homes, and possessions, in these devastating fires. But, I think this brings it home, as to what is important in life.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2008

Fall in Southern California

Fall in Southern California brings us the devastating fires. This year is no exception. This year is one of the worse as far as ash falling. My sister's house is getting hit really bad. Last night, as we drove up the street, the stuff falling looked like snow. These are pictures of the ash that has fallen on my cars. And a picture of the brown haze that is blocking the sun and making it feel like it's later than it is.

Article here

More people urged to leave homes despite calming winds

By Justin Pritchard, The Associated Press
Article Launched: 11/15/2008 11:09:36 PM PST

Fires burned in Los Angeles County, to the east in Riverside and Orange counties, and to the northwest in Santa Barbara County. More than 800 houses, mobile homes and apartments were destroyed by fires that have burned areas totaling more than 34 square miles since breaking out Thursday.

"This has been a very tough few days for the people of Southern California," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after touring damage.

The smell of smoke pervaded metropolitan Los Angeles. Downtown skyscrapers were silhouettes in an opaque sky and concerns about air quality forced organizers to cancel a marathon in suburban Pasadena where 8,000 runners had planned to participate.

Fierce Santa Ana winds that fanned the fires on Saturday weakened Sunday morning, allowing firefighters to set backfires to prevent flames from advancing to hillside neighborhoods. Air tankers swooped low over suburbs, red fire retardant billowing from their bellies as they painted defensive
Nearly 500 mobile homes are destroyed by the wildfire at Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar. (Tina Burch/Staff Photographer)
lines between brushlands and homes. Big helicopters shuttled back and forth on water drops.

The most threatening blaze had scorched 10,475 acres in Orange and Riverside counties after erupting Saturday and shooting through subdivisions entwined with wilderness parklands. By midday Sunday, multimillion-dollar homes were being threatened in Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County as the fire pushed north. Firefighters had zero containment.

Fire officials ordered 1,400 more residents to evacuate Sunday morning. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said 26,500 people remained under evacuation orders for that fire alone.

Retired aerospace engineer Joe Gomez, who has lived in his palm tree-lined Diamond Bar neighborhood for 45 years, stayed put despite being under a mandatory evacuation.

"I'm trying to use some logic here," said Gomez, 72, trying to gauge the direction of the wind and flames. "I don't think it's going to come down this way."

Gomez packed a bag with important documents in case he decided to leave. His wife, a stroke victim, left with their daughters earlier in the day.

"My daughters were really thinking I was nuts. They said, 'These are mandatory evacuations." I said, 'You guys just relax.'"

In the early morning hours, winds pushed flames dangerously close to a church and adjacent mobile home park in the Olinda Village area north of Yorba Linda but firefighters were able to beat it back. Only one mobile home was lost.

Billy Bagsby, an inmate firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the flames suddenly shifted direction around 2 a.m.

"It was like the church was protecting itself," Bagsby said.

On Saturday, the fire burned 119 homes in the communities of Corona, Yorba Linda and the Anaheim Hills area of Anaheim. In addition, 50 units of an apartment complex burned, Orange County fire spokeswoman Angela Garbiso said.

Capt. Guy Melker of the Los Angeles County Fire Department stood on a balcony of a multimillion-dollar home in Diamond Bar, looking down into a canyon with flames on the far side. The street was under mandatory evacuation. Most driveways were empty, although some still had some luxury SUVs parked, with backseats packed with belongings.

"It's an interesting chess game right now," Melker said. "Sometimes mother nature puts us in check and our job is to put her in check mate."

As Melker spoke, a small spotter plane slipped low across a ridge, followed by a big air tanker that dropped its load along a ridge.

"Air Jordan 23," he yelled, referring to the plane's tale number.

Six firefighters from various agencies were injured in the blaze, including four Corona firefighters hurt when flames swept over their engine, Garbiso said. Two of the Corona crew members required hospital treatment but were released.

In the Orange County city of Brea, fire destroyed the main building of a high school.

About 50 miles to the northwest, a 9,500-acre fire in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley was 30 percent contained after devastating a luxury mobile home park early Saturday. The fire was largely burning in a rugged wilderness canyon.

Authorities initially reported that 500 mobile homes were burned but on Sunday said 484 of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park's 608 units were lost. The Sylmar fire also destroyed nine single-family homes and 11 commercial buildings.

The park was home to many elderly residents and though no fatalities were reported and no one was reported missing, investigators were searching the site using trained dogs. The search was about 30 percent complete by midday Sunday.

"To this point no human remains have been found," said Deputy Police Chief Michael Moore.

Fire officials estimated that at the peak of the Sylmar fire, 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate. However, many evacuation orders were lifted Saturday night, Fire Department spokesman Ron Haralson said. Five looting arrests were reported.

The gated park featured a pool, hot tubs, tennis court, clubhouse and landscaped grounds. One of those who lost almost everything was Linda Pogacnik, who said that after decades of driving a school bus full of noisy kids, she finally bought her dream house at "the Beverly Hills of mobile home parks."

"It had this beautiful oval bathtub, and just a few nights ago I lit candles and put on soft music and got in," she said, sighing with the memory. "The moon was full, and it made it look like the eucalyptus tree outside had little white lights."

She left with only her dogs, some clothes and a few essentials. Left behind were photography books and scrap-booking materials that she said were "going to be all I did for the rest of my life."

About 90 miles northwest of Sylmar, a 1,940-acre fire that began in the upscale Santa Barbara County community of Montecito on Thursday night was 75 contained by Sunday morning. County spokesman William Boyer said 130 homes burned in the city of Santa Barbara and 80 burned in adjacent Montecito. Some of those destroyed were multimillion-dollar homes with ocean views.

At least half of the 5,400 evacuees had been allowed to return home by Saturday night.

At least 25 people were injured in that fire.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2008

One Way to Handle Telemarketers

We have caller ID and even screen through the answering machine. That way we don't have to deal with telemarketers. Even being on the "Do Not Call" list hasn't stopped the calls. (It did cut them down, quite significantly). This is a rather amusing way one person handled an unsolicited call:

Posted by Valkyre at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2008

Those Sneaks!

I remember when they did this with ice cream. Try finding a half gallon of ice cream. And, it's BS to say that they are not raising prices. What do you call it when they are charging the 18 ounce price for 16.3 ounces?

Steven Senne/Associated Press
A tape measure shows the depth of the indentation of a 16.3 ounce jar of Skippy peanut butter next to an 18 ounce jar of the same product.

Article here

On store shelves, stealthy shrinking of containers keeps prices from rising

Quantities of peanut butter, soap and other products are reduced to keep up with rising costs. Shoppers may not know they're getting less for their money.

By Jerry Hirsch
November 9, 2008

It is hard to spot what happened this year in the peanut butter aisles of local supermarkets.

But a careful look at the jars of Skippy on the shelves may reveal a surprise. The prices are about the same, but the jars are getting smaller.

They don't look different in size or shape. But recently, the jars developed a dimple in the bottom that slices the contents to 16.3 ounces from 18 ounces -- about 10% less peanut butter.

The only way to know you are buying less is to look at the weight on the label and recognize it's lighter than before Unilever, owner of the Skippy brand, switched out containers.

Across the supermarket, manufacturers are trimming packages, nipping a half-ounce off that bar of soap, narrowing the width of toilet paper and shrinking the size of ice cream containers.

Often the changes are so subtle that they create "the illusion that you are buying the same amount," explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass.

To shoppers it may seem like getting less, but companies say cutting quantity is a common way to avoid raising prices.

It's an age-old dilemma for manufacturers juggling prices, container sizes and profits -- at the same time coping with rising prices for ingredients and greater competition on supermarket shelves.

At international food giant Unilever, "we have chosen to reduce package sizes as one of our responses" to rising commodity and business expenses, said spokesman Dean Mastrojohn. He said the new smaller sizes are clearly marked on labels.

Shoppers understand the manufacturers' dilemma but also say they feel deceived at times.

Kathy Yukl of La Crescenta says she's tired of going to the store and finding dimples in the bottoms of jars -- she buys Skippy only when she has a coupon. She is annoyed that containers that once held half a gallon of ice cream, or 64 ounces, now have only 48 ounces. And she's frustrated that cereal boxes are shrinking.

"What these companies don't realize is that their chronically deceptive marketing ploys tell us loud and clear that we absolutely cannot trust them for anything," Yukl said.

Other shoppers agree. "I think the whole thing is deceitful, and yes, it does irritate me, and I do feel they are tricking the consumer," said Bill Stone of Long Beach. "This practice, however, has been going on for many years and apparently the manufacturers feel it is to their advantage to try to slip these changes by the customer rather than announcing it."

Asked whether the new packaging is deceptive, Mastrojohn said only that the lower weight is clearly listed on the package.

Unilever also changed the shape of its Breyers ice cream containers, reducing the contents to 1.5 quarts from 1.75 quarts. Competitor Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream did the same, shortening its carton.

Reducing the size of the Dreyer's and Edy's Grand Ice Cream cartons was not an easy decision, spokeswoman Kim Goeller-Johnson said.

"We understand that consumers don't like to pay the same price for a smaller container," she said.

But the division of food giant Nestle had seen large increases in the cost of milk, cocoa, sweeteners and energy during a period when the average price of ice cream had "not really changed much," she said.

"We looked at raising prices to cover these costs, but at some point it just doesn't make sense to raise prices too high. . . . The ongoing feedback from our customers is that they aren't ready to pay $7 or more for a carton of ice cream," Goeller-Johnson said.

In June, Kellogg Co. reduced the weight of many popular cereals -- including Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks -- an average of 2.4 ounces per box to offset rising grain and energy expenses.

The reduction wouldn't be obvious to shoppers walking down the cereal row. From the front, the size of the box remains the same; only the depth was reduced, Kellogg told The Times.

Dial shaved its soap bars to 4 ounces from 4.5 ounces but kept the size and look of its packaging the same, spokeswoman Natalie Violi said.

Dial didn't want to increase the price of its soap but needed to do something to maintain its profits because of the skyrocketing cost of tallow. Made from beef and chicken fat, tallow is one of the primary raw materials of bar soap. Its price has doubled over the last 18 months, in part because of increased demand for it as a component of biodiesel fuel, Violi said.

Consumers are confronting similar packaging changes in the toilet paper aisle.

In its promotional materials, the Quilted Northern brand likes to talk about its history of innovation. In the 1920s, it was among the first bath-tissue brands to be sterilized. Quilted Northern went "splinter-free" a decade later and upgraded to two layers in the 1960s.

This year's innovation was to shave half an inch off the width of its Ultra Plush product. Quilted Northern owner Georgia-Pacific said the savings allowed it to make the tissue three-ply instead of two, but it means consumers are getting fewer square inches of paper.

Shoppers on the candy aisle will find that the formerly 8-ounce Hershey's chocolate bar is now 6.8 ounces, a 15% reduction.

Luby, the pricing consultant, said the move allowed Hershey's to keep the price from rising above 99 cents. The company worries that crossing the $1 threshold could hurt sales, he said.

Many of these changes were made when food commodity and oil prices were surging to record highs. It's not clear what the companies will do now that the cost pressures have eased. Oil has fallen from more than $145 a barrel in July to about $61 now. Wheat futures are down from $12.82 a bushel in March to $5.21 now.

They're not likely to go back to the larger sizes because of the expense involved in changing packaging. And they are not interested in setting off a price war with competitors, Luby said.

"If the focus is on profit, food companies would be better off accepting flat volume or even a slight loss in market share in their more stable, mature products in order to make money," Luby said.

The big question is whether consumers who notice they are getting less for their money will stop buying the product. Any backlash is likely to be small, Luby said.

"Many people notice the change but they don't protest and stop buying their favorite brand of cereal," he said. "These brands are strong enough to overcome any backlash."

Stone, the shopper from Long Beach, agreed.

"If it is an old favorite, maybe from a highly reliable source, you will probably continue to buy it, especially if the price has not changed," he said. "In the case of bathroom tissue, one has to have a decent-quality product or else your hand goes right through it, and no one really wants that."

Hirsch is a Times staff writer.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:22 PM | Comments (1)

November 04, 2008

History Was Made Tonight

Posted by Valkyre at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

How I Feel

Posted by Valkyre at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)