Monday, June 28, 2010

Sports Authority - Yes, We Suck

Since we were going on vacation by ourselves this year, we needed a few things that my in-laws normally provide at the beach. One of the items was a collapsible canopy.

My wife spent a good amount of time researching the deals on the Internet and the fliers in the newspaper before ordering a collapsible canopy for our trip to the beach this summer. She found the best deal on Sports Authority's website.

The canopy is the 10 x 10 E-Z Up Dome II Instant Shelter with Roller Bag to haul it. She ordered it on a Sunday the 13th. The website stated - "Guaranteed to be there on June 19th or it's free." Perfect, because we were leaving on the 19th.

She went to the website to track it that week and it showed that it was not going to be delivered until the Monday the 21st, past the guaranteed date. Suck 1. She immediately called customer service to complain. The representative said she didn't purchase it until the 15th, which is untrue, she purchased it on the 13th. She was able to prove this with the credit card information. Suck 2.

(Update) After speaking to a customer service MANAGER, she confirmed that we did indeed call on the 13th.

The customer service representative apologized and said that we would have to call back on Saturday to initiate a claim to get our money back. Suck 3. He then informed us that we would not be eligible to get our shipping charges refunded. Suck 4.

(Update) After speaking to a customer service MANAGER, she initiated the claim for us and we did not need to call ourselves. Additionally, our shipping charges were refunded.

However, we need to leave for the beach on Saturday, which will require us to call from the car on the Eastern Shore where there is spotty cellphone coverage with printed information about our purchase. Suck 5. (see previous update)

Now we have to drive around this week to different places and buy one in person (while toting the kids) and most likely pay a higher price. Suck 6.

(Update) We went to Dick's Sporting Goods in Columbia and purchased our own canopy for about $79 and it was actually really nice and of high quality.

Additionally, when looking up the information, I found 2 different locations on the website for the identical product with 2 different prices. One is for $112.49 (item #2780798). I'd link it, but the link will be stale soon. The other item is $97.49 (Item #2417313). I read the details and there is no difference. Suck 7.

(Update) Sports Authority discovered that they had the same item posted twice on the website with 2 different prices. The incorrect prices was being removed from the site.

So, it appears that the Sports Authority has a master plan for going out of business. This master plan consists of misinformed customer service, offers that are not honored (or extremely difficult to file a claim against), and inconstant website information.

Do you think they will get any more of my business? Probably not. Should they get your business? If you're smart you'll avoid the Sports Authority at all costs. However, let it be heard that if you complain and get up to the customer service manager, you may be able to get your issue resolved.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ehrlich for Governor? Not Much on Route 50

I wish I had pictures to show to prove this, but I did all of the driving home and I wouldn't ask my wife to take the pictures. A) she's a Democrat (I know - can you believe it?!!!) B) She already thinks I'm a dork, so I don't really need that pointed discussion on the 3 hour ride home from the beach.

Anyway, to and fro Ocean City, I noticed a plethora of signs begging people to vote for O'Malley \ Brown. The puke green signs litter the roadside like roadkill for nearly all 150 miles that we travel to the beach. So much so, in fact, that I wonder if O'Malley's band of stooges were placing these signs on state-owned property. And if so - is this legal? Many of the signs seemed to be posted in odd places.

And everyone knows that O'Malley is a big proponent of dirty tricks. You've heard his misleading advertisements on the radio, right? You konw - the ones that take things out of context and try to association Ehrlich with the oil spill in the Gulf?

Anyway, Ehrlich, on the other hand, did not have as many signs goin' down the ocean. When I did see signs, they were clustered with Andy Harris for Congress signs and Eric Wargotz for U.S. Senate signs, not sitting there alone like Kumar Barve on a roadside sobriety test.

We all know that the Eastern Shore is fairly conservative. Not quite as conservative as Carroll County and the other western counties, but the Eastern Shore would appear to be a pack of right-wing lunatics when compared to the irresponsible spending liberal extremists of Montgomery County.

However, I have to give O'Malley credit. He's not really campaigning on the Eastern Shore. He knows he's going to get his donkey kicked there. However, he is campaigning to the thousands of people from Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County who will probably determine the winner of this year's gubernatorial election.

Attention, Governor Ehrlich - if you want to win, you need to get more signs on the road going down Route 50.

Owings Mills - New Roads - Pictures

Now that I'm back from vacation (more on that later), I want to complete some unfinished work.

I had hoped to have pictures of the new Dolfield Road ready soon after I posted my original piece a while ago, along with some pictures of the new Owings Mills Boulevard extension.

Well, here they are. This is a view of the new Dolfield Road bridge. It's very pretty. Fortunately, progress was made despite the protests of the NIMBY's. Click on the picture for a much more detailed view. I took this as a 5MB resolution.

Here are some pictures of the construction occuring at Lyon's Mill and Owings Mills Boulevard. Nothing too exciting, but we'll have the "after" pictures in due time.

Okay, I thought I had another one, but I can't find it. Maybe later. But you can see that most of the trees were cleared. There are now (or were prior to going on vacation) about 6 tree clearing pieces of equipment on the site. I'll find out tomorrow what it looks like now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jim Smith - Soon To Be Former Politician?

I always find it interesting when a prominent politician calls it quits. There's always more to the story, but we never hear about it.

You'll remember during the Maryland Gubernatorial election, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan called it quits during the Democratic primary because he was depressed. Depressed? He didn't seem to depressed clobbering O'Malley and Ehrlich as an outsider. I really enjoyed his commercials. Rumor is that Duncan was draining the Democratic war chest and O'Malley needed the money for the general election, so the O'Malley mafia took care of the situation.

Now it's like déjà vu all over again. This time it's Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith who previously announced that he was running for State Senate in District 7, a district being abandoned by Republican Andy Harris who is rerunning for the 1st Congressional District against incumbent Frank Kratovil. Now Jim Smith says that he will not run for State Senate.

Why is he not running for the open state senate seat? Does he have an undisclosed illness? I hope not. We wouldn't wish that on anyone. Does he think he's too old? He's only 68 years old. Does he think he's too short? There are unconfirmed reports that the Executive is 4 ft 11 inches tall, making him the perfect size to kiss Martin O'Malley's derrière.

Did Smith stumble into an alley and meet the MoM thugs? You know the kind - 'we're going to make you an offer you can't refuse.' I think that was Doug Duncan's case. Can't prove it, but it makes the most sense. Perhaps MoM told Smith that he shouldn't run and if MoM wins, there's a spot in his cabinet for him next semester.

Does Smith think that he cannot defeat the Republican challengers? He would go up against either former House Minority Leader Al Redmer or Delegate J.B. Jennings, who was endorsed by Governor Ehrlich. And being that it is District 7, a mostly conservative district, he (Smith) would probably lose.

It would be interesting to find out the truth. But politics being what it is we will never know the truth.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ocean City Air Show 2010

After hearing about the Ocean City air show from my in-law's last year, my wife and I decided to go this year. We made reservation for both Friday and Saturday, figuring we'd go down on Friday night after work and stay until Sunday afternoon.

Russian Yak-9

My sister-in-law later informed us that my niece's high school graduation was also Friday night, so we canceled our Friday reservation so that we could see her.

Sunday morning we woke up at 4am and packed my Honda. And let me tell you Jane Fonda doesn't have a motor in the back of her Honda. We got on the road a little after 5am. We do this because without a doubt if we leave after 6am we get stuck in traffic. We crossed the Bay Bridge a little after 6am. We pulled into Easton at 6:30 ready for breakfast. I was wondering if anything would even be open yet. Traffic was building and the sun was up, so otherwise it looked like the middle of the day.

Air Force Thunderbirds

We got some Burger King to go (took way longer than it should). Did you know that nearly everyone that works at the Burger King in Easton is Hispanic? I didn't realize that the Eastern Shore had a significant Hispanic population. I thought they all lived in Anne Arundel County and in White Marsh.

I just missed the F-18 that flew over at this point.

Back in the car we hull out of Easton while slamming our over-priced greasy food. Outside of Salisbury everyone fell asleep. Even me! I got behind someone on Route 50 who was taking the speed limit literally. And another person directly next to them in the slow lane was going the same speed. This kept up from the Shorebirds stadium all the way to Berlin. It was absolutely ridiculous. You would think that if a big old SUV was 2 feet from your bumper flashing his lights and swerving from side-to-side that you would understand that you're going way too slow. But not this moron.

A C-5 Galaxy fly-over from Dover Air Force Base.

We pulled into Ocean City a little after 8am. We parked right on Coastal Highway near 7th street. We walked for a bit on the boardwalk and finally decided that we would take our stuff to the beach and set up for the day. I heard it was senior week, so I wanted to get a good spot before all of those gray-haired retirees got on the beach. Much to my surprise, I was surrounded by hundreds of 18 year old girls in bikinis, not a bunch of seniors!

I loved this woman. She looked like she was ready to give birth on the beach. Her belly was peeking out of her tankini. Tell me this isn't cute.

One of about a dozen aerobatic fly-arounds.

Another plane passed right by us and I again missed the shot.

Several planes flew by. They had nice tail fins. But these girls got in the way. Speaking of tail fins....

Check out the Coast Guard ship patrolling the waters.

Here's another good shot of the Coast Guard ship. It was patrolling to keep recreational boaters away from the zone.

As you can see there were several boats on the horizon. Many boaters went out into the ocean to watch the show. I bet it was a great view from out in the ocean, but I have to admit it was also a great view from the beach.

Again, the seniors turned out not to be 65 and older. Too bad.

Some Navy Seal parachuters landed just beyond these umbrellas. I missed getting their picture.

Though the view from the beach was good, I'll have to admit that these 'seniors' had a potty-mouth. F-this. F-that. I wanna **** you tonight, baby. Good, Lord. Time to get the children off of the boardwalk.

We stayed until 7:30 on Sunday evening, but didn't leave before we got some Candy Kitchen, Dolly's popcorn, and some new Reef's from K-Coast. We got home a little after 10:30 ,but would have made better time if we hadn't gotten stuck at the Bay Bridge for an accident that had already been cleared, but the impact to the traffic was already done.

Overall it was a good time and I can't wait to go again next year!

Carrolltown Mall Update

It's been a couple of months since my last update, so I know that you're anxious to know about all of the renovations and new tenants at the Carrolltown Mall owned by Dixon Harvey's company Black Oak Associates.


Unfortunately, the renovations have not started. And there are no new tenants. And Black Oak Associates seems to have forgotten that they own the property. They have chosen to let the opportunity of owning prime shopping destinations in the upper middle class neighborhoods around Eldersburg disperse in the wind.

In fact, Black Oak Associates seems to be going out of their way to make the mall as horrible as they possibly can. Perhaps they are hoping that their next tax assessment will prove that the mall is useless. To those of us who have lived in Eldersburg for at least 10 years, we know that the mall has been useless for a long time.

What spurred this series of pictures is that I was in a hurry one day and needed something quick so I regrettably stopped into the ghetto K-Mart. I quickly got what I needed and raced to the cash registers. And wouldn't you know it? Only 1 lane open. The lady in front of me had many items. The cashier rang them up. The customer handed her a coupon and the cashier says, "Sorry. We don't accept coupons at this K-Mart." What????? She informs the customer that there isn't enough sales volume to accept coupons. So do you think not accepting coupons will help generate more volume? It's a downward spiral and we can do nothing. Here's an idea - close the K-Mart!!!

Take a look at the landscaping updates. There are some new dead trees. Some older dead trees were cut down and the stumps left in the ground. Because why should they go through the whole process of properly removing the tree when they can do it half-ass for one quarter of the money?

There was a fitness place in the back of the mall where Manco used to be. They had a nice canopied sign. It's gone now. Some low-budget operation has taken it's place and a skeleton of the canopy remains.

You know a mall is going downhill when they start advertising churches and other religious centers that operate in former shops. You know a mall is a dead mall when those churches and religious have front-facing store-front.

So when do you think Dixon Harvey and his Black Oak Associates will do something about this nearly abandoned ghetto mall? Unfortuntely, it looks like it won't be for a while. Instead, it will sadly continue to crumble and be a false image of what a nice community Eldersburg is. Shame on you Black Oak Associates.

If you're getting tired of the nonsense, please call and complain to them:

Black Oak Associates
10055 Red Run Blvd. Suite 130
Owings Mills, MD 21117

Phone - (410) 356-5820
Fax - (410) 356-5822

Eldersburg Wal-Mart Make-Over

I was driving to my son's baseball game this weekend and I noticed that the Wal-Mart got a paint job. I went from the eye-sore battleship gray, blue, and red to the more subtle tan and beige.

I went in there 2 weeks ago to buy some unicorn blood disguised as a printer cartridge and noticed that they were doing a make-over on the inside. It actually looked fairly nice. Not as nice as a Target, mind you, but nice for a Wal-Mart.

Maybe Dixon Harvey will take notice and start to do something about the super eye-sore called Carrolltowne Mall that his Black Oak Associates owns. But I doubt it. I'm convinced that he hates Eldersburg and hopes that the town turns into a ghetto so that it matches his mall.

All-Star Game 2010

Very little makes a parent more proud than seeing their children succeed. Eludius Jr. played his second year of baseball this year and was selected by his peers as one of three representatives from his team to go to the All-Star game.

Nature gave us a hot one. It was a global warming scorcher on the field. Fortunately, there was a bit of an ice-age wind blowing now and then to cool us off. However, we were in the sun most of the time, which to Irish-German-Scottish-English-Americans means plenty of sunscreen.

Despite striking out in his first at-bat, he managed to get 2 singles in his next two at-bats and scored both times. On his second hit he actually got to steal 2nd and 3rd base.

Down 4 runs in the last inning, his team scored 5 runs to go ahead, but the other team managed to score 2 more runs in the bottom of the last inning to win. Despite slumping heads and heavy hearts, parents cheered for the boys and we were all very proud of them. We can't wait until next year!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Solo Closing - Most MD Elected Officials Silent

The Solo Company announced that it will be closing the large manufacturing plant in Owings Mills. The factory was previously called the Sweetheart Cup Company and filled the air with the sweet smell of melted plastics. When Solo purchased the company, the writing was on the wall that the Owings Mills plant would close. And the lack of outrage from the area's elected officials fills the air with the aroma of arrogance.

Knowing this, you would assume that locally elected officials would be doing something to help, right? I checked out State Senator Bobby Zirkin. I Googled him, checked his website. Nothing. Senator's Zirkin's silence indicates to me that this liberal Democrat doesn't really care about business in his district. And if you don't care about the businesses in your district, you must not care about your constituents.

Owings Mills has 3 House Delegates in the General Assembly.

Jon Cardin - you may remember him. He's the nephew of far-left liberal U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. But Jon Cardin is more famous for inappropriately using Baltimore City Police to fake his arrest in a marriage proposal on a friend's boat.

I was able to find the minutes to a meeting where residents have asked Delegate Cardin to do something about the noise emanating from the plant. Perhaps by doing nothing and allowing the plant to close, Cardin will be victorious is reducing the noise. Other than that - no news. I guess he doesn't care that 500 people are losing their jobs.

Dan K. Morhaim- Dr. Dan Morhaim, that is. Nothing on his website, nor any Google news. His website is very shallow of useful information. I did find a page on his website that provided the telephone number for 911. But I find little evidence of any economic initiatives. This California-born and bred liberal gives the impression that he also does not care about jobs in his district.

Dana M. Stein - I'm starting to sound like a broken record. Stein's website has very little (any?) on economic development, but plenty on the environment. What good is a district with pretty trees and ponds when there are no jobs? The only good thing that I could find about Delegate Stein is that he actually went to public schools (Milford Mill) and that he worked with Delegate Krebs on a financial literacy program for high schools. Most liberals hate anything to do with business and finance, other that to create new ways to tax and regulate them.

Congressman John Sarbanes - you know the guy who slid into Congress because of his last name, right? Can't find anything on his website about jobs in his district. However, he is against searching for new sources of oil. I guess in his mind it's okay to be largely dependent on expensive oil from hostile nations, as long as our beaches are sandy and clean. And like all of the other elected officials in this area, Sarbanes hasn't spoken a word about Solo Cup closing the plant in Owings Mills. Hello people! The men that you elected don't care about you!!!!

Baltimore County Council - I can't quite tell if the area is covered by Councilman Kenneth Oliver or Kevin Kamenetz. No worries. Neither cares about the 500 people that are losing their jobs - or at least they haven't commented about it.

What a sad state of affairs it is for the hard working middle class people in the Owings Mills area. They have elected people to represent them in government who are more worried about campaign fund raising and getting their name out for higher office than they are about the issues that are important to the area. Where's the revolt? Where's the anger? Is everyone really that content with government's inaction? These elected men push for bigger government, but they are not doing anything for you. Wake up!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

O'Malley - Award for Moving Forward

This is a bit dated, but thanks to my brother-in-law for the head's-up.

Martin O'Malley recently received an award from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an award he accepted in Chicago. The award is dubbed the Bio Governor of the Year Award. Initially the article on states that O'Malley was nominated for this award for his support for the biotechnology industry in Maryland. However, later in the article, Mary Bubala, a purported HUGE O'Malley supporter, says that O'Malley received the award for: "moving Maryland's bio-science industry forward."

It's amazing that we can award a fiscally irresponsible governor for mastering rhetoric.

I'm glad that Maryland is promoting biotechnology in our state. But I'm not sure why the government is supporting and funding this. This is a private industry that should be supported by venture capitalists, not government bureaucrats. But that's Maryland for you - the state government that wants to provide everything for it's citizens, regardless of the costs or consequences.

Where is the common sense in Maryland? It's certainly not in Annapolis.
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