Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tis The Season To Be Busy

I'm happy to say we had a great holiday promo at work. We were all a bit concerned, but we had a better year than last year!

We've been remodeling the house (on the landlady's dime!), and I've had precious little time between that and the 50-60 hour workweeks.

So until I can decompress, and come up with something earth-shattering to share, here's something to ponder for all you cat parents:

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Role Reversal

I'm beginning to thing that I am slowly reversing roles with my parents.

My mom has a friend. I believe that this person does value my mom's friendship, but a lot of their relationship is one sided. "Let's go shopping. Can you pick me up?". "I want to go somewhere. Can you drive?". Never "Let's meet at the parking lot because it's halfway." or "I'll drive this time and you drive next."

I don't know what the deal is, and I really don't need to. I just know that with the cost of gas, it just doesn't seem right. When I go places with friends, we trade off driving, or chip-in for gas, etc. I remember my mom telling me ages ago that it was the polite thing to do. She grumbled at a few people I was friends with at one time or another (no one who would be reading this) who would call and want me to go somewhere but that involved my mom picking them up and taking them there. "A good friend will meet you halfway in terms of driving, paying, etc." Seems she forgot that.

I could understand if this person didn't drive or have a 2nd car, but that's not the case. I know this person is short of money on occasion, but mom always said that if you don't have the money to contribute, don't expect others to pick up your slack.

Next week, she will be accompanying this person to New Orleans. She wants mom's company. She wants mom's help in setting up for an event. But mom's not invited to the actual event. She can come to the after party, but that's it. She's forked over money and time for this, with little to no return. She was expected to stay in a certain hotel and buy an outfit that met with what they were trying to achieve, but can't come to the event.

So I put on my "mom" hat and said "Jeez. Doesn't seem exactly fair, and if I was expected to fork out a lot of money, and have met with their criteria but aren't good enough to attend, then I wouldn't go. Plain and simple."

She replied that she didn't care (but something told me that deep down she did) and she's always wanted to travel there and was looking forward to sight seeing, but I don't see that happening. I see her tied down with helping set up something she can't go to. And that sucks.

But she's 60 now. I've imparted all the wisdom that I was told over the years. I guess we have to let them go at some point and make mistakes........ :D

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Deep Thoughts On Things......Life.......Whatnot

(Life is not whatnot, and it's none of your business - an homage to my favorite movie)

I've been bad at following through on things I wanted to do. Oh sure, I mean well. I haven't been to the gym since the end of May because of vacation, then massive hours at work. That's slowed down now, but I've gotten out of the habit of going, and that sucks. I haven't gained any weight, but I haven't lost either.

I've been meaning to keep up better with this, but, well, see above.

I've been meaning to do a lot of things.

I was browsing the last few posts I made. I'm still enjoying my Beatles cartoons. I still love Warranty Direct (one of my electric windows broke while on vacation, and they took care of it!). The feud between my friend Javier and the "other faction" involved has chilled out. I enjoyed my vacation. All should be right with the world. Things should be golden - I should be happy (yes, another homage). Ah, but it's not to be.

I had written a letter to my husband's uncle. I'm sure I've mentioned him here before. Without major explanation, he's been incarcerated in a State Correctional Institute out in western PA since 1977, I believe. In short, Ron did some things that were wrong, but he was trapped in a trial with major political implications, and he was made an example of. Life with no possibility of parole for him. Hell, even The Manson Family gets regular parole hearings. The lifers here in the Commonwealth have a saying: Life Is For-Ever. Among the people trapped in this cruel punishment are people who were as young as 17 when they accompanied an ill-advised friend to something bad, and got caught in the crosswind. Ron often said himself that yes, he did some things that were bad, and he wouldn't say he was innocent or railroaded or framed. He deserved punishment. But as someone who didn't commit the crime he was punished for (but being present while the crime was committed will hold you equally culpable under our laws), how much is enough? Ten years? Twenty? Thirty was where Ron was at. Far worse criminals don't serve that long, and are often out for good behavior.

I wasn't feeling well last Wednesday. I had picked up a 24 hour bug going around, but I had an uneasiness going down all day. Something somewhere wasn't right. I got home, and was darting to the restroom when I noticed a "1" on the answering machine. I paused, and hit the button (because of aforementioned uneasiness). It sounded like someone wanted to say something, but hung up. It didn't sound like a salesperson or anything like that. I proceeded down the hallway, and figured I'd dig deeper in a little while. I hit the caller ID menu. Just one call - from Aunt Terri. The uneasiness creeped back, but I thought maybe it was good news, and I called.

I tried to be cheery and hopeful. I heard an exhausted sounding "Hello" at the other end. I said "Hey Terri. I saw you called but didn't leave a message. What's up?". I heard nothing but silence, and then a sigh, followed by "Um, Ron died last night". I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I listened numb as she explained how he and his cellmate always joked around, and his cellmate had gotten up in the night, and saw Ron was "laying funny". He thought it might be a joke, but felt uneasy about it and shook him. He was unresponsive. A number of attempts were made to revive him with no luck. They took him to a hospital and he was pronounced dead of a heart attack. He was 61.

I tried my best to console Terri. She sounded exhausted. I asked the all-time bonehead question: "Are you OK?". She said "Um, no, not really". I told her that was incredibly stupid of me, and she said it was OK, and she needed a chuckle. We talked a bit, and she said she had to go, and she'd call with arrangements. Two minutes later, the phone rang, and it was Nelson calling to tell me he'd be late. Shades of me telling him his mother died creeped back to me. I must have subconsciously done as I did when his mom died because he kept asking me what was wrong, and I kept telling him we'd talk later. As before, he finally got it out of me. He said he almost ran the truck off the road. We'd just seen him in June. He was his usual happy self. No indications whatsoever that it would be the last time we'd see him.

The next day, I sat at my desk in the morning, and looked over to see his letter that I had written. It was in an envelope, only needing a stamp, but I had never gotten around to mailing it. That bothered me. Why couldn't I just have taken two minutes and sent the dang thing? He loved mail, and he would never get my letter because I didn't do what I should have.

As I finalized things Monday afternoon before leaving for his viewing down in the Lehigh Valley, I grabbed the letter and put it in my car. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. We started the long drive down, and talked about who might or might not show up, and who we might have to "deal with" while we were there. My husband's family is like the box of chocolates from Forrest Gump - you'll never know what you'll get. To say it's dysfunctional is an understatement. Most of them were horribly abused, or shuffled through the system. Many grew up to be drug addicts or alcoholics (my husband included - 11 years sober now, he doesn't even like non-alcoholic beer anymore). Most have deep-seeded animosity toward some of the others. Others still will choose up sides. A family get-together is guaranteed to get ugly at some point - that's why we often only see them at weddings and funerals. After Ron's passing, it left only one of the siblings left - an Aunt that estranged herself from many of the others long ago. I'd only been around her once - at a funeral - and Nelson's mom saw to it that we didn't go anywhere near her, as they did not get along. We wondered if she'd show up. She didn't show up at Nelson's mom's funeral, but that's because she told her at another sister's funeral that she'd better not come (so she didn't). You get the picture, and what we were thinking.

So we got there (relatively early), and it was largely Ron's kids and grandkids there - what we expected. Nelson's step-dad was there, and we chatted with him. Not too long after, Nelson's cousin (daughter of aforementioned aunt) showed up. She and I never really got along because she was too rough with her daughter and discipline and I threatened to kick her ass once. I see nothing wrong with a swat on the rear end, but you do not pick your kids up by the armpits and shake them! And since none of the people there said anything (because they were not only treated that way but most had treated their kids that way), I made sure she knew it wasn't cool. There are other reasons I have issue with her, but I don't believe in airing all the family's dirty laundry in public, but let's just say it involves one of her kids, and that's a bad spot for me.

I was shocked when she came up and hugged me. She talked to me like we never had issues. She then told me she had split with her husband (who was part of the problem) and I was pleased that it sounds like she's grown up a bit. I didn't see her hit any of her kids - just raise her voice, and it wasn't bad. Nelson asked if her mother was coming, and sure enough, she walked around the corner. We both jumped, because her resemblance to Nelson's mom was uncanny, and it creeped us out for a minute.

Then the unexpected happened. Nelson said he felt the need to talk to her, and he did, and they had a rather pleasant conversation. No bickering, no blame - just healing, and that's good. She gave us her address and phone number, and told us we were welcome to visit. She even said she'd help us identify people in Nelson's mom's photos. And I say a step in the right direction is good no matter what.

A little later, two of Nelson's late Aunt's three kids came with their kids, who were tiny the last time I saw them. I always liked the girls, and felt bad for them when their mom died so young. Their dads aren't in their lives, so they were essentially orphans in their early 20's. Problem is that Nelson's mom promised her sister she'd look after them, but took it too literally, and they finally asked her to leave them alone, and so anything we heard about his cousins was negative.

The next morning, I noticed that Ron's letter was still in the back of my car. I told Terri, and she told me that she wanted me to give the letter to him, because it was his, and he could read it later. He had a beautiful service, and when time came to close the casket, I put the letter under his hand. Like Terri said, he'll have something to read later. There were some pictures in there too that I'm sure he'll enjoy. Nelson served as a Pall Bearer, and he had a lovely Military burial.

At the after-service get-together, all of "us kids" (Nelson's cousins, and his brother) were chatting about the older generation, and how it's effectively kept us from knowing the family. We exchanged phone numbers, and addresses, and e-mail addresses, and agreed to keep in touch. And I mean it this time. Life is just too short.

And if you have a letter laying around, ready to be mailed - please mail it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We Love You Beatles, Oh Yes We Do.......

I thank my parents for my taste in music. My mom gave me The Monkees, The Beatles, The British Invasion, and Motown. My dad gave me The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors, and The Moody Blues.

When I was younger, and we didn't get cable, and VCR's were around but not in many homes (we hadn't gotten one yet, plus in those early days, rental stores didn't have the selection like they have now), the chance to catch a movie on TV (especially when cable wasn't available in your area) was a gem. It's too bad kids nowadays don't know the joy of The Wizard Of Oz coming on once a year.

Anyway, once during one of the PBS Beg-A-Thon's, they showed one of mom's favorite movies. I saw the look on her face when flipping through the TV Guide. She yells back to me "Hey - come watch a good movie with me!". I was less than 10 years old, and that usually meant it would be something I didn't like. But I was bored, and trotted out to the living room.

The movie was "Help!".

Mom delighted as she explained every reference I didn't understand. She talked about how much she loved The Beatles when she was in high school. She swooned over Ringo like she was still 16. In her old bedroom at her mom and dad's house, you could still see the mark on the wall where her Beatles poster had hung. Her one brother - ever the troublemaker - had come into her room and blacked out the eyes of The Fab Four with purple paint (leftover from painting her room). Mom's family was poor, so instead of getting another one, she was left to deal with her purple-eyed idols. That one evening turned me into the Beatles fan I am today.

When they had their first real resurgence in the mid 80's (by the time I had gotten to high school), I remember the airings of The Beatles Cartoons on MTV. I had taped some when I could catch them. They were cute - not the best cartoons or animation, and the voices were done by others, but the sing-alongs were fun, and they have immense kitsch value.

Flash forward to today. I own tons of Beatles cd's and stuff, but the cartoons eluded me. I found out they had lapsed into public domain, and scouted around for treasure. I turned up a killer set that were done on professional equipment off broadcast masters. They were expensive, but they were SO worth it.

Nothing cures the blues from a 60 hour, 7 day workweek where you are doing work you did once before because your company is in the midst of a system conversion like a rousing sing along and pure Beatles cheesy goodness!


(sorry for the poor sound - both the ones posted have bad sound - and incidentally, this is my favorite Beatles song)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And The Beat Goes On

Rather than construct a long post reply, I've opted to make a new post in response to Nick, who is on the opposing side of the issue I mentioned yesterday. No yelling, no snark - just some intelligent commentary.

First thing's first. I know I'm older than Ben, and I'm 99.9999% sure I'm older than you - perhaps by a good bit. Yes, I have issue with Ben that goes beyone the Wikipedia incident. For I have, you see, what I call my Snark-O-Meter. It goes off when I am faced with things like smarminess, cockiness, smugness, and general condicending commentary. Ben's journal is rife with it.

I'm willing to play devil's advocate, and say that perhaps he doesn't realize that he comes across that way, but he does. And do a google search - plenty of people out there agree. Think that Javier is bad? Ever see the commentary that goes on over at Portal Of Evil's forums? Some of that stuff steps waaaay over the line, and makes even hardened BS slingers shudder in disgust.

So just because I need to say my piece, let me just cite some examples of what sets that meter off. This is good stuff - thousands of people have paid millions of dollars for this stuff:

1) The Protesting: I believe in protesting. It's at the core of our foundation as a country, and it's his right to do so. However, I do not listen to anyone who protests anonymously, or dresses up in silly costumes. I protested in my day, against all the things I believed in at the time: no nukes, animal testing and cruelty, Free Nelson Mandela, a woman's right to choose, make Martin Luther King Jr's birthday a national holiday, etc. I never dressed up in a silly costume. I never put on a mask, or hid my face. I never felt the need to learn tactics to fight or evade police - I was prepared to be arrested if need be, but I never fought with anyone or vandalized anything to get my point across, and I'm not saying Ben did, but those he hangs out with have, and in the real world, being there makes you a party to it. Speaking of which, be careful who you align yourself with in that regard. I was once a part of PETA and Greenpeace. When I would say that, people would just roll their eyes and no listen to anything I had to say because both groups take things too far in getting their point across. I have not given up my activism, but I align myself with more reputable groups. People will listen if you are aligned with people who present a rational and reasonable argument. For a good example of a fantastic blog written by a friend who works for improving her part of the country, I encourage you to read She's intelligent, and passionate, and heaven help anyone who gets in her way when she's rolling. Lastly, educate people about what you are fighting against. I don't think Ben has educated me at all as to why he feels the way he does on any of his protests. Instead, I get the impression that he thinks that any protest is a good protest, and that he often "tags along" without knowing all the facts.

So to recap:

I went to the protest wearing my silly mask be cause so and so did = Snark Alert
I went to protest against third world debt because it holds developing countries in involuntary servitude = I may or may not agree, but I will not Snark

2) Lappy, Compy, Big Mavica, et al: I just can't take anyone seriously who has pet names for inanimate objects, and I don't know anyone over the age of 17 that does. If he wants to write about it, fine, but don't be shocked if people over the age of 12 think it's silly, and say so.

So to recap:

I got out Big Mavica and uploaded the pictures to Lappy = Major Snark Alert

3) Unnecessary Commentary: let's start with the Hummer thing. For the record, I dislike Hummers too. Unless you're in the military, there's no reason that any private person needs to own one. However, I would NEVER say that because I didn't like it I was going to "run it off the road". Was that necessary? No. When speaking about a security guard in a news item he saw, Ben said "When questioned, he can't even cite what he's enforcing. Idiot. I hope his family is ashamed of him." Again, was that really necessary? No. The one where he makes the assumption about his sister's roommate's boyfriend when he'd only made one statement to him? Not necessary either. I find that before I hit the post button, I do better to re-read, and ask myself if some comments are really necessary to get my point across. If they're not, then they're gone.

So to recap:

Any of the above comments = the Snark is being written
I really hate Hummers - they're unnecessary for the average person = I agree
Get a load of the security guard - he's not well versed on regulations = He sure isn't
I met my sister's roomate's boyfriend - first impression wasn't much, and I hope the next meeting proves me wrong = That's happened to me too

4) Lack Of Respect: I blame some of this on the generation gap. To start, it ABSOLUTELY is disrespectful to mock the Iwo Jima landing. Good men gave up their lives so Ben and his friends can have the freedom run around and play like that. But just because they can, doesn't mean they should. I'd also bet that anyone who thought that was funny doesn't have any veterans in their family or close to them. The thing I found most insulting about that photo was that they were holding up their protest-du-jour flag in place of the American flag. Right there, they have cheapened the memory of the brave men that were honored in what they were mocking, and that's wrong. The same goes with showing the "road to hell is paved by Republicans" thing. You have an absolute right to your opinion in politics, as I have mine. I rarely discuss politics because it always gets ugly, no matter who is involved. I never said I thought Bush was a great man or doing a great job, but I don't need Ben essentially telling me I'm a moron for my beliefs, because they don't match his. That's incredibly disrespectful, and will cause my eyes to glaze over and stop comprehending anything afterward, thereby negating your position.

So to recap:

Republicans paved the road to hell = Get Bent 2: The Wrath Of Snark
I dislike Republicans because I disagree with...... = That's ok; I disagree with Democrats because........

And lastly,

5) The Double Standard: Ben deletes the Fail video because he doesn't like it or doesn't agree, but then it's brought up that the fail video was lame because it only says Fail and nothing else. If I were to post a video (although I never would becaue pimping yourself on Youtube is something I don't believe in), and someone posted the Fail video, I wouldn't delete it. I would challenge the person to tell me why. If they did, I'd suck it up because I put myself out there for everyone to see, and criticize. If they couldn't, then I'd fire back with a Fail video of my own. No double standard there. However getting rid of it, then taunting the person because they didn't say anything other than Fail is pretty much chucking rocks at glass houses.

No recap necessary here.

And as for the Wikipedia issue:

It's a non-issue at this point, and something I don't want to dredge up again, and before you say that we're being unreasonable by refusing to discuss it while you're trying to rectify it, let me explain as much as I am willing to.

As I said, I was part of a project. It involved a number of people. That project has been permanently killed. It's dead, gone, and not coming back. The website we had is gone, and the domain has lapsed, and is available for anyone that wants it. The forum we had where we dicussed our findings went with the domain. Any e-mails, etc, were done through accounts on that domain, and so they too are gone. The group has disbanded, and anything having to do with it would go back to the "owner" of the project, and I am no longer on speaking terms with him. Furthermore, I have no desire or need to be. By working on the project, I gave him permission to use my research, so should he want to pursue the project further it in the future, that is up to him.

So I will issue a personal thank you for the desire to rectify the situation (even years after the fact), because you at least were willing to try when others rebuffed us....repeatedly. The Wikipedia deal started the fire, but it's not what is keeping it burning. See the above noted items for the reason it keeps going all over the internet (not just at Javier's place).

And lastly, despite being Snark-Master-Extrordinare and a Habitual Line Stepper (:D), Javier is a great person. He's one of the best friends I have, and I'm better for knowing him. He's always eager to lend a hand or a shoulder, and has given me more pep talks and "get-a-grip" speeches than people I've known for 3 times as long. My husband says he's glad that I have him around and appreciates his friendship. But he, like me, is fiercely protective of his friends and family, and will fight when needed.

So that's my position, and like Forest Gump, that's all I have to say about that. I don't wish to debate this set of issues any further, and will not. Getting into a pissing match isn't what I want to do.

That being said, you're always more than welcome here, and intelligent commentary is always welcome on topics I bring up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Problem With The World Today

Everyone thinks they are the most special person in the world. Sorry to break it to you, but you aren't. That's just the way it is. I don't think that way. I don't know many people my age who do.

So where is this coming from? A friend of mine is being attacked, and since I've fought for him, and the attackers are among the above mentioned group, I have a feeling they may come looking for me through my comments.

So since they don't like Javier's way of explaining things, maybe they'll listen to mine, and maybe it will finally sink in.

A number of years back, I was part of a project that had a website attached, where we would post our research for those interested in the topic. After awhile, we noticed that whole verbatim bits of our research were ending up on Wikipedia, without credit being given to any of us who did the research. We promptly contacted Wikipedia (and a number of subsequent times as well). Each time, we had someone spout out Wikipedia-speak at us, and essentially nothing was done. And our work continued to be copied (without credit) each time we updated. Some of our pictures were stolen too. We finally resorted to watermarking images and stating clearly that we did not support Creative Commons. It didn't work.

We finally traced back where this was coming from, and as usual, we were rebuffed. Only after a strongly worded letter from the person heading our project were we finally granted any type of credit, and it was just a link to our site, and a "see also". We were never credited for our work, as in "Info Courtesy Of".

We discovered that the person responsible for all or part of our issue had his own heavily advertised website. He started it when he was younger. I imagine it was cute then. Problem is, he's grown up now, but his website is still filled with the mundane details of his day to day existence.

Normally, we'd take a few pot-shots and let it go at that, but we discovered that this person liked to take lots of pot-shots of his own. He liked to pick at people he encountered during his day to day travels just because they didn't behave like he felt they should. He liked to fiercely pick at anyone who didn't follow his political views. He breaks laws and says it's ok, but then criticizes others for breaking laws. And my friend felt he was rife for send-up, so he started picking at his journal entries, and eventually moved it to a blog.

Before anyone says anything, Javier is protected by Falwell vs. Hustler Magazine. It states, in short, that public figures are subject to "ridicule" and such speech is protected by the first amendment. Do I think that sometimes Javier is harsher or more graphic than he needs to be? Yes. But does he often hit the nail on the head? Absolutely.

When I do post here, I fully understand that someone could take it and make fun of it. It happens, and I wouldn't scream about it. I can dish it, and I can take it. Problem is, the other person in question can't. He sends his friends to attack Javier, but you can't underestimate Javier. He's a fighter, and if you corner him, he'll come out swinging.

So if I ever post pictures of my refrigerator, or discuss oozing body sores, please smack me out of it. That's stuff that no one needs to know about - at least in my opinion. In other people's world, it's fair game.

So is it childish? Sure. But was stealing from us worse? I think so. I don't appreciate having my intellectual property stolen. If you steal my stereo, I can replace it, but stealing my intellectualy property and hard-worked research was just wrong. Not giving me credit was worse.

I'm not getting into what was stolen. The project is kaput. The website we had is gone. It seems no one is interested in what we were working on anymore, so it will die, but until this person stops flinging insults at someone just because of the car they drive, you can bet that someone will be flinging it back at him.

Just my two cents. And because I put it here, feel free to critique. It's your right to do so because it was my right to say it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I HEART Warranty Direct!!!

I'm not much one for advertsing people's stuff on here, but I gotta sing some praises here.

I've been sucked in many times by extended warranties for various stuff. I have wasted so much money for extra protection on telephones, dvd players, stereos, etc. I'm a sucker for the sales pitch. While I rarely ever need one (in fact, I've never cashed one in to date) and they generally run out of time, never used, the one time I didn't buy one on a dvd/vcr combo, I needed it. Then I bought a replacement (sans warranty), and it died again (different brand). I finally bought a refurb from (their service contracts are dirt cheap - and I bought one) and I have had no problems with it. But the time I didn't buy one, I could have used it, so I'll continue to be a sucker for them unless they're incredibly outrageous.

There are times that they are warrented - like a computer. Ok - I fibbed. Every tower computer I have ever owned has gone back at least once under the service contract, and the laptop has gone back once, but that's it. Anyway, I bought an auto warranty for the first time with my Neon. I generally don't like long-term auto financing (too much stuff goes wrong during the duration of the loan), but I had to finance it for 4 years, so I opted for 3 years, 36,000 miles. The Neon's were notorious for engine troubles. I only ever had one problem that might have been covered, but they wouldn't cover it. And the Neon is still going strong, despite being largely devoid of paint.

So re-wind to last March, when I bought the KIA. KIA offers fantastic warranties, but not if you buy used. I got 12 months or 10,000 miles. That ran out in November, when I hit the cap on miles. We had declined the warranty that the dealer offered us. It would have added too much to my payment. I was firm in that I didn't want to finance for more than 3 years, and I wanted a payment of less than $200/month. When we divided out the cost per month, they were asking a lot for the warranty they were offering. It just wasn't worth it.

During the time that we had a warranty, the car was in the shop for a loose heat shield (it made a rattling noise - we didn't know why), a malfunctioning panic alarm that fired at will, and some transmission noise (which turned out to be nothing). While these were minor problems and I didn't consider any of it adding up to a lemon, I slightly regretted not getting the extended warranty. That, and unlike the Neon, the KIA isn't something that Nelson, or any of his mechanic friends, can easily work on.

In December, anticipating some nice overtime and a generous bonus, I began to shop for extended warranties. Most looked shady at best. That's when I found Warranty Direct. They came highly recommended by many auto makers who do not offer extended warranies through their company (Lexus and Porche, to name a few), and I could find only two complaints online after exhaustive searches (and the complaints I did find were unreasonable). My salesman - John Crumbliss - was fantastic, and answered every tiny annoying question I had. They require a car inspection (something I actually thought was a great idea), but they will deduct the car inspection fee off the cost of the policy. The policy covers almost everything (sans paint, tires, mufflers, stereos, window glass/windshields, brake pads and similar things like that), goes for 37 months or 37,000 miles which will more than cover my financing, and takes the car to almost 100,000 miles. Considering the travelling we do, it seemed like a good idea. It offers rental cars, and great travel interruption service. And your card will get you discounts on things the warranty doesn't cover. Total cost of the contract: around $1700. I put a nice chunk down, and pay the balance in monthly increments through December.

I have the KIA in the shop for it's 60,000 mile maintenance. It's actually at almost 65,000 miles, but the shop neglected to tell me it was due (and noted my service records that they neglected to do so). Thank heaven for the stimulus check, as half of it went for this expensive service. It's not expensive in the context of what they do to the car, but I don't randomly have $600 laying around.

Long story short (I know, TOO LATE), I got a call telling me that they noticed my water pump was "going bad". It's beginning to leak slowly. Parts wise it wasn't bad, but involved tearing a big chunk of the engine compartment down (so does the 60,000 mile maintenance, albeit a different part, hence the cost), so I knew labor would kill me. I got nervous for a mintue (figuring I could kiss the rest of my stimulus goodbye, which had been earmarked for vacation), then I realized that I had a warranty, and looked up online whether it was covered via Warranty Direct's website, and then gave him my contract number, and their phone number. He balked at dealing with a 3rd party company, but I assured him that they pay via credit card at time of service, so he relented.

On a whim, I explored their site about 10 minutes later (something I hadn't really done), and I noticed my claim listed - approved and everything. They're paying almost $500 after my $100 deductible ($0 deductible plans are availble, but they cost more). I'm SO glad that I had this done now. I'd have been in a world of hurt if the car crapped out while on vacation. Granted, I do have great trip insurance with my policy, but it still would have been a real issue.

So yay for Warranty Direct! It's already paid for 1 years worth of it's contract in one fell swoop. They get the Funky-Rat Seal Of Approval! **

**void where prohibited by law