The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Smoke and Grill

Since I have developed a desire to smoke and grill more this season, I started searching on the internet for advice and tips on smoking pork ribs (my first endeavor). I found a lot of informative sites, and it hit me this morning I should feature these sites on my recipes page. Therefore, I have updated my recipe referral page. I still have more smoke and grill sites to list on it. but I'll have to add them to the page later. I've been asked why I bother having the page when people could get them from various search engines. Well, they could. The thing about my recipe referral page is that all the sites featured on it have been personally visited by me. I have searched the contents of each website for validity and content. I also have them separated into catagories for easier searching. I'm not trying to replace search engines or be an authority on recipe websites. All I'm doing is providing a link to sites that I honestly believe are worth looking at; just trying to help is all. BTW, my pork ribs were totally delicious! I like using the oak wood chips from Tabasco.com.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Divorce

I have a good friend who is going through a divorce, and it is getting nasty. I am so worried about her and her daughter. He still claims he loves her, but then he's been saying and doing things that he knows upsets her. I know what Dr. Laura would say about that (that he's a liar and a snake and she'd be better off without him), and I'm inclined to agree with her at this point. I guess it's harder when it's someone you love, but I think I would have taken a much stronger stance against him when he started acting up last November. However, this is not my fight. As much as I feel protective of her and want to make him stop hurting her, I have to stay out of it. She is getting fed up and is starting to fight back, though. They need to get to a neutral area by themselves and work out the divorce agreement together without interference from friends nor family. In any case, I am just more convinced that I will never get married. I've seen too many wives put up with a lot of bull from their husbands. This is not to diminish what wives are capable against their husbands, but most women do end up with the short end of the stick. And besides, I refuse to "submit" to anyone, especially a husband.

Friday, May 16, 2003

BellSouth: Deceiving Their Customers?

I have a complaint about BellSouth. Whenever you have services added to your bill, it should be mandatory that the additional fees and charges outside of their package costs be quoted with the package costs. Representitives (telemarketers) for BellSouth have contacted my parents and recently an aunt, advertising "specials" for service packages like Complete Choice or their new unlimited long distance service. With BellSouth being a legitimate company, the service packages sound reasonable. What these "representatives" fail to mention is that there are access and service fees added afterward. My parents and aunt were quoted package prices like $34.00 or $49.95. My parents got sticker shock when they received their phone bill and called BellSouth to have the new service package removed from their bill. They were so angry by what happened that they demanded that no one representing BellSouth was to ever call them again about new special features. As for my aunt, I explained to her about how much her bill would really be after all the other fees, and she told me she was calling BellSouth to cancel her order.

This has happened to me as well when I have called a customer service representative of BellSouth to have services added to phone and was informed about special service group packages available to save me money. That's all well and good, but the representative alluded that my final cost would be the cost of the package. These representatives have access to my account, so I should be truthfully quoted a final cost what my bill will be after the upgrade. How bad can the difference be? For example, I have the Complete Choice plan, advertised at $34.00 a month. Sounds reasonable. So why is my monthly bill around $57.00 a month without long distance calls? Well, factor in Federal Universal Service charges ($.67), FCC Local Number Portability Line Charges ($.35), FCC Charge for Network Access for Additional Line ($7.00), unlisted phone fee ($3.50), Emergency 911 Charge ($1.50), Telecommunications Relay Service Fund ($.15), and Equipment Maintenance Fee ($4.75). Even though two of the fees are optional (unlisted phone number and equipment maintenance fees), you get the idea.

As far as I'm concerned, that is a deceptive business practice, and it would be in BellSouth's best interest to rethink their tactics. At one time, they were the only local phone service available in our area, but new companies are expanding their service areas and could give BellSouth (and the other Baby Bell companies) a run for their money.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Hollywood Celebrities: When Does Expressing an Opinion Cross the Line?

There has been a lot of backlash aimed at celebrities who have expressed opinions against the war or against President Bush. Many who have received the backlash are crying foul; they claim they have the right to express their opinions, and they claim that our country is being hypocritical because of the backlash. I say "Baloney!"

I will agree that celebrities (like all other American citizens) have a right to free speech, to express an opinion. However, being a celebrity and/or being in the public eye gives power to anything spoken or written by that person. They all know this. That is why they lend their celebrity power to help their causes. They use their celebrity power to present themselves as authority figures for their opinions expressed. In my opinion, that is where they cross the line of free speech protection.

Celebrities should also understand that because of their power and the attacks of September 11, 2001, it is not wise to speak out negatively about our country, our leader, nor our troops. It especially looks bad when they travel to another country and then bash our country. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who travels to another country to speak out negatively about our country should not return. Sean Penn had no business traveling to Iraq to speak out against the United States; I consider his actions traitorous. Madonna (as much as I like her music) can stay in the United Kingdom if she's got nothing better to do than to travel to France and openly blast our country (sour grapes for an album tanking on the charts, perhaps?). In fact, I visited MTV.com to listen to her album American Life and was going to buy it, but her remarks in France killed any desire I had to get it. As for Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, they need to get out of the kitchen if they can't take the heat for their public remarks.

And, there are times when pictures speak a thousand words. I'm referring to this editorial cartoon by Michael Ramirez of the Los Angeles Times.


So basically, what I'm trying to say is that these celebrities need to get over themselves and stick to what they know ... entertaining. If they want to express an opinion, that is their right, but they are not authority figures and they need to stop acting like they are.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Joys of Slim Fast

I have discovered the Slim Fast meal bar! I had no idea just how satisfying it was! It's great to take to work or keep in my purse so I can eat on the go and not let myself get hungry. Granola bars get crumbled up in my purse, and candy bars are too sweet for me these days.

Why Slim Fast? The story starts about two years ago: My mother had intestinal surgery January 2001. One week after she came home, she was still unable to eat. She became weaker as a result. That night, she got up to go to the bathroom and was so weak that she fell. It took both my dad and me to pick her up and help her into bed (not an easy thing to do when her ribs are fragile). Dad had a long talk with her. She had to start consuming calories and nutrients or she was not going to get better. I suggested she drink Ensure. She refused, stating that she abhored the taste. I remembered the cannister of powdered Slim Fast we had in the closet from a long time ago when Mom was curious about it. I asked her if she'd be willing to drink that since it was at least better than nothing (it was a meal-replacement drink, so why not?). She agreed. One week after that night, she was one-thousand percent better. Mom was much stronger and more alert. She felt so much better, and you could tell she was in a better mood because of it. If Slim Fast can do that for my mother, can you imagine what it could do for you?

I've started using Slim Fast products more when I decided to do something about how I eat at work. Convenience foods like pre-packaged sandwiches or microwave entrees are packed with calories and sodium. Don't believe me? Read the label. A pre-packaged microwave hamburger is over 400 calories. A fried chicken "TV dinner" is at least 470 calories with the sodium content of 50% daily value (for a 2000 calorie a day diet). A microwave chicken cordon bleu is 370 calories (no one eats just a chicken cordon bleu without side items). Those foods are not very satisfying to most people. In the town I work in, there are not that many restaurants open that are not of the "fast food" kind, and just about everything on the menu is fattening. The Slim Fast shakes and meal bars give me what I need to keep going without making me feel "deprived," and I can be a hearty eater. I don't know if I've lost weight, but I do know that my breathing has improved and my slacks are getting a little baggier.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

A Return to Normalcy (finally!)

Okay, computer is back from the shop, I'm getting over a cold, and we finally got through a computer system conversion at work. Slowly, things are getting back to normal.

What caused my computer to go haywire was the CD burner: it died. I killed it. Apparently,its malfunction caused it to prevent my system from starting up normally. Honestly, I thought my hard drive crashed. It scared me (as I'm sure you could tell by my April 20 entry). It was gone for two weeks and I paid $156.00 to have it replaced, but it's working great now. That's good, especially since I have three projects that I had to put on the back burner because I didn't have my computer.

Then I got sick. This cold was pretty bad; I thought I had the flu, but I never had a fever. I started feeling bad Thursday night at a friend's house, then I was feeling worse at work the next day. Monday, I forced myself to go to work, but I came home early. I stayed home until Wednesday. I still have some head and chest congestion, but I am feeling so much better than I did last week.

As for our computer system at work, the transition was smooth and simple. I don't think I was ever so happy to get rid of a computer system like I did Oracle/Syscon. As we get more familiar with it, we like it even more.