Friday, December 29, 2006

Housework cuts breast cancer risk

New evidence shows that housework reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Yeah, this is going to go over real well.

"Honey, you missed a spot over there. Hey, I'm only thinking of your well-being!"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You just know it isn’t your day when…

…you get drunk and unknowingly slap the undercover air marshal sitting next to you on the plane!

Celebrity deaths in 2006

I had forgotten some of the famous (and not-so-famous) people who passed away in 2006. Here's a list compiled by Fox News through the passing of James Brown. Ironically, Gerald Ford is not on the list (at the time I post this).

PayPal introduces a "virtual" debit card

When I logged into my PayPal account the other day, I was introduced to a new service they are offering. It’s called the PayPal Virtual Debit Card. The service is in Beta and seems to be the answer to concerns people have about buying items online.

Once you sign up for the service, you are asked to download a small program that resides on your computer. When you are on a merchant’s website and are preparing to check out, a small window pops up alerting you that you can use your virtual card. You then have to log in to PayPal and your account number is automatically entered into the merchant’s check-out screen. (This is according to the demo. I have not yet downloaded the program!) The account number for the virtual debit card changes all of the time and cannot be reused. This is one of the safety features that should appeal to buyers. Even if someone stole your account number, it cannot be used again.

The virtual card is a MasterCard-branded card.

Now that I am an eBay seller, I have a balance in my PayPal account that I can use elsewhere — even with merchants who do not accept PayPal. I’m curious what other card issuers will do.

First update: After posting this, I read other articles and discovered that this is not a new concept. American Express used to offer this to their customers, but apparently discontinued it. Others have stated that PayPal offered a virtual debit card before and has either enhanced it or chose to simply reintroduce it.

Second update: I downloaded and installed the virtual card last evening. I haven’t used it yet. What should I buy!?

I want my Gdrive!

The first rumors of Google’s Gdrive began early this year. In March, Google confirmed that Gdrive did, in fact, exist. Now, as we enter 2007, where is it?

Gdrive is suppose to be the answer to online storage. It will give us the ability to save important documents, photos and other digital files. Imagine copying your photos onto Gdrive and then accessing them from your laptop. Imagine backing up important Word documents.

Analysts and tech writers are guessing that Gdrive will become available to the masses sometime in 2007. The amount of available storage and the pricing levels (assuming there will be a cost for higher amounts of storage) have not been announced. Gmail currently comes with just over 2 gigabytes of free storage.

I want it!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

eBay "Map It"

eBay has added a new feature (or at least it's new to me!).

Called "Map It," you can search for items near where you live (or anywhere, for that matter). The default setting is 25 miles from your residence.

You can occasionally negotiate with a seller to let you pick an item up instead of paying to have it shipped. I recently did that with a camera I sold. The buyer drove about 40 miles to pick it up. Saved him about $20.

Microsoft sending out new Ferraris!

It appears that Microsoft is following Sprint's footsteps and sending free laptops to select tech bloggers with the new Vista operating system pre-loaded. According to several bloggers, Microsoft's PR firm sent out notices that they would be receiving an Acer Ferrari 1000 laptop with Vista Ultimate (the high-end version of the software).

Apparently there are no strings attached to favorably review Vista and the blogger is not required to return the laptop.

[Note: Earlier this year I was part of a Sprint program and was given free use of a cell phone for six months.]

Hey, if anyone from Microsoft's PR firm is reading this, I can be "bought" too!

President Ford passes away

I woke up this morning to the news that former President Ford passed away overnight. While not surprising due to his recent ill health, it's still sad to know that we've lost another former president.

It reminded me of when I saw him in person.

President Ford was one of three presidents I've seen in person. I saw President Nixon speak on the University of Nebraska campus when I was a student in 1971. And from a great distance I saw President Clinton jogging along the Potomac River (accompanied by security and an ambulance!) when I was on a D.C. river cruise in the early '90s.

Also in the early '90s, I was in the Palm Springs area for a business conference when I worked for Home Savings. I was flying back to Chicago and was at the airport seeing off one of my work colleagues before my plane was scheduled to leave. Because of the constant warm weather in Palm Springs, you climb the stairs and board the plane from the outside. My colleague boarded the plane and I was watching all of the other plans land and take off. Meanwhile, the plane just sat there past its scheduled departure. Finally, two limousines with American flags drove right up to the plane. Several large men got out of the first limo and then an older man got out. It was Gerald Ford. He was on his way to a speaking engagement and was flying commercial, albeit first class!

Imagine being on an airplane with a former president!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Selling addiction

OK I admit it. I've become addicted to eBay.

More specifically, selling on eBay.

I've had an eBay account for several years but was only a buyer. I don't really buy too many things -- mainly books and DVDs. I recently decided to sell my almost-new cellphone. I still had the original box and packing materials so I gathered it all together in a nice pretty package and decided to take the eBay plunge.

I spent a few hours researching prices and went ahead and set up my selling site. Within a few hours of posting the item, someone used the "Buy It Now" feature and snapped it up. Within minutes, my PayPal account showed I was paid...and I was hooked!

I've sold about a dozen items so far. Besides the cellphone, I've sold books and even a few year's worth of my old Civil War Times Illustrated magazines from the '60s and '70s. I've figured out how to pay for shipping and print shipping labels from home. I even went to OfficeMax a couple of weeks ago and bought a mechanical shipping scale.

It's a fun way to make money off of things you no longer need.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

First snow

Saturday morning

We had our first snowfall of the season early Friday morning and had blizzard-like conditions until early afternoon. I took this backyard photo very early Saturday morning with the sun just starting to appear.

It's always nice and peaceful early Saturday!

Friday, November 3, 2006

Halloween in the 'burbs


A photo of our home last Sunday night. Can't believe how much our Halloween display has grown over the years. Lisa gets all the credit for setting it up!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Internet Explorer 7

Has anyone downloaded and installed Internet Explorer 7 yet? I downloaded mine last evening when I became aware that it was officially available. I spent the rest of the time configuring it and putting it through its paces.

So far I like it. I like the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds directly (similar to Firefox) and the new ClearType technology. Page text is much easier to read for my 50+ year-old eyes!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Coach who had autistic kid beaned imprisoned

As a parent of a child with Asperger's Syndrome, I'm very happy to see the judicial system punish these idiots.

I would love to throw a fastball at this guy's ear using the official Little League mound-to-home plate distance of 46 feet!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cory Lidle

On my way home from work this afternoon, I heard the sad news that Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was killed in the Manhattan plane crash. Since I've been home, all I've heard is how sad the situation is and how terrible it is for the family. This is all true, but I can't help but think that the outpouring from the media would be lessened if Lidle play for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or any other team not located in New York. Apparently Major League Baseball was considering canceling this evening's playoff games.

Interesting how a player's "worth" and fame is related to where he plays.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Netflix quality control

I'm wondering if anyone else is having the same problem with Netflix.

Last night I was all set to watch a movie that I received over the weekend from Netflix. After waiting for my player to unsuccessfully read the disc, I ejected it and found a large crack in DVD.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.

I have returned three DVDs this year that were totally unplayable. This does not count the DVDs that skipped or froze, but were still somewhat viewable.

Netflix is always quick to send out a replacement DVD. That's not the issue. The issue is whether Netflix checks DVDs when they are returned or before they send them out again.

My sister has also experienced problems with her Netflix DVDs. Maybe they should start checking the DVDs before they go out. It must cost them a fortune just to ship out replacement movies.

I realize Netflix handles millions of DVD every year. I don't care. It's the DVDs I can't watch that annoy me.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Windows Live Writer

I just downloaded the Beta version of Windows Live Writer. The software is designed to be used with Windows Live Spaces, but it works with blogs and I'm trying it with this Blogger blog. So far I like it very much.

There are several reviews of it available all over the web. Here's one and here's another.

Try Windows Live Writer for yourself.

President Bush assassinated in new TV movie

President George W. Bush is assassinated in a new TV movie that will be aired in Great Britain in October and at the Toronto Film Festival in September. British broadcaster Channel 4 portrays the Bush assassination during an anti-war rally in Chicago in October 2007. Apparently the investigation focuses on a Syrian-born man as the assassin.

No word from the White House on this bit of (I hope) fiction.

I can't imagine the public outcry if Jesse Jackson or Hillary Clinton were selected for elimination instead of President Bush.

The full story is here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sprint customer service experience

I have to give a shout-out for the wonderful customer service experience I recently received from Sprint. I recently returned the telephone I'm using as part of my participation in the Sprint Ambassador Program. I sent the phone back on Saturday, July 1 and expected it to take over a week due to the July 4th holiday. The brand-new phone was sent to me via FedEx on Monday, July 10th.

When I attempted to first use it, I discovered it had not been activated. My first phone was already activated when I received it so I thought this was curious. I called the customer service number that is dedicated to supporting Ambassador Program participants. After some researching, we discovered that my phone number was accidentally cancelled! What was amazing to me is that the customer service rep, Pam, took down my telephone number and called me back to re-activate my phone.

In this age of questionable customer service (i.e., Dell), I was gratified to see a company actually have their reps be an ally of a customer, rather than an antagonist. This is especially gratifying as I am testing this service free and am not a Sprint customer!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

I returned my phone!

On Saturday I returned my Samsung A920 phone that I am testing as part of the Sprint Ambassador program. I've lately been having problems with it. When I make or receive a phone call, I cannot hear the other person very well. It almost sounds like they're whispering.

I wrote Sprint and they gave me a telephone number to call. I got through to the representative and made arrangements to return the phone and they are to ship me a replacement phone shortly. I mailed the phone back on Saturday so I'm assuming they received the phone on Wednesday (because of the July 4th holiday). Hopefully I'll receive it before the end of the week.

I like the phone a lot. I like downloading music, checking sports scores, reading news and so forth, but if it cannot fulfill it's main function, then it's useless.

I bought a Samsung Bluetooth headset on eBay so I'm anxious to try it out on the replacement phone.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Baseball and steroids

We've seen this all before. A baseball player stands accused -- and this time admits -- to involvement with steroids and human growth hormone. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley was arrested by the FBI and is apparently naming names in major league baseball's latest black eye.

It will be interesting to see over the next few days and weeks and player's names get leaked out to the press and what reaction, if any, Bud Selig and the player's union have to this latest controversy. It's apparent to this observer that organized baseball would prefer to sweep this whole steroid issue under the rug. I really do hope Congress introduces legislation to force baseball to clean up its act!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Freddie" dies

This really hits home for me.

Freddie Garrity, lead singer for the '60s pop group Freddie and the Dreamers , has died at the age of 69.

As a kid growing up in the '60s, I listened to this group a lot on the old WLS and WCFL in Chicago. My very first "45" was "Tell Her No" by The Zombies and my second "45" was "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie and the Dreamers. My first LP was "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks.

It's tough knowing these artists are passing on.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Baseball thoughts

It's mid-May already and I haven't chimed in yet on the state of baseball in Chicago. I'm sure most of the free world knows the Chicago White Sox won the World Series last year for the first time since 1917. The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, have not won the World Series since 1908 (at the time it was their second in a row!) and therein lies the problem. The Boston Red Sox [1914] and the White Sox [1917} are two-thirds of the trilogy of futility. The Cubs seem to be holding on to their part of the futility by continuing to play poor baseball.

The White Sox, as of this writing, have the best record in baseball at 25-12 and are one game ahead of the surprising Detroit Tigers. The Cubs are 15-22 and are 8 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (they are 5 1/2 games ahead of last-place Pittsburgh).

This weekend, the Sox and Cubs play each other in their annual city series. The first three games are at U.S. Cellular Field with the final three games played in late June-early July at Wrigley Field. Most of the Cub fans I know are not even acknowledging the upcoming series. Usually it's a chaotic weekend at the Cornelius household with most of my family favoring the North Side team, but hardly a peep so far!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yes, I know I've been away

Actually, I've been nowhere in particular. It's just for the past several weeks I've run out of thing to say. There's been nothing particularly newsworthy or comment-worthy, and I've been busy with work and with life. I remember I went through a period like this about a year ago so I'm blaming it on the time of year.

To catch up with my role in the Sprint Ambassador Program, I've been enjoying using the multimedia capabilities of the phone. I haven't been using it for callingmuch, but rather downloading music, watching sports scores, catching weather forecasts and the news. The one problem I've noticed -- and I don't know if it's the network or the phone -- is that sometimes the volume goes down in the earpiece when I'm talking to someone. I alternate between hearing them fine and then suddenly it's like they've covered their mouth and I can barely hear them. This is happened on several occasions at different locations. I probably should contact the special e-mail address I was given to report the problem.

It's the Friday evening before Mother's Day and it's in the low 40s in the Chicago area! Unbelievable.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Sprint Ambassador Program update

It's been a long time since I've checked in and I wanted to provide a quick update on the Sprint cell phone service that I am testing. As background, I was sent a Samsung A920 cell phone with free membership in the Sprint Power Vision Network. I currently have a "regular" Motorola cell phone from Verizon Wireless so having access to a multimedia phone is a lot of fun. The phone is very intuitive...I've rarely needed to use the handbook that came with the phone. ( I guess it's "guy thing.")

What has been fun for me is the ability to download somgs in WMA format from Sprint's music service to play on my phone. An added (and cool) benefit is that in addition to the songs being stored on the phone, I can also download them to my computer. The songs normally cost $2.50 (I get them free right now), but you get the song on your phone and your computer.

The only negaitve experience I've had is using the camera. The photo quality -- at just over 1 megapixel (compared to my 6 megapixel digital camera) -- are inferior; but that was expected. Storing the pictures on my computer is not intuitive. I finally figured it out, but it took some time. Again, I have a regular (non-camera) phone so the learning curve for me was steep.

More later..........

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I received my phone!

Just a quick note that I received my Samsung A920 cell phone from Sprint on Thursday. I had a chance on Friday and Saturday to play around with it. I'll report more in another day or two.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Sprint Ambassador invitation

This afternoon I received an e-mail from Sprint inviting me to participate in a 6-month test of their Sprint Power Vision Network. The reason I was chosen, according to the message, is because of my blog! Now how cool is that? Here's most of the text of the e-mail:

The Sprint Ambassador Team recently visited and wants to invite you to participate in our Ambassador Program.

The Sprint Ambassador Program is all about exploring our latest products and services and allows you to give direct feedback to Sprint. We recently launched the Sprint Power Vision (SM) Network and want to provide you with the full experience, at no charge. Sprint Power Vision Network enables customers to download data at faster speeds and experience new data products.

So what's the deal? As a qualified participant, we will send you one Sprint Power Vision phone and provide you with six months of all-access service (at no charge). You'll have access to the Sprint Music Store(SM) live TV broadcasts, gaming and more. Yes, you will also have unlimited free calling and data service. It's a pretty good deal and all we ask for in return is your candid feedback (you decide how much and how often).

Register at:

A quick search reveals that many other bloggers have received this same offer.

Sprint states they want -- but will not require -- my feedback on the service. Although it is not mentioned in the invitation, I'm sure Sprint is hoping those who participate will speak kindly about their service experience in their weblogs. This is actually pretty smart of Sprint -- empowering bloggers with a free offer in hopes of generating a positive blogospheric buzz.

I went on the site to check the terms and conditions. My invitation does not guarantee participation in the program. I will be put into "queue for consideration." If accepted, the free trial period is good for six months and does not go past September 30, 2006. After six months, I keep the phone without any charge. If I wish to continue the service, I have to pay a $36 activation fee and then enter into one of their 1- or 2-year service contracts.

I'm tempted to do this. I currently have a Verizon family plan, but it's hard to pass up a free offer, especially for a geeky-sounding service such as this. The free phone is a Samsung A920 phone.

Assuming I'm accepted, I'll report back on my experience.

Update: I received an e-mail Thursday afternoon saying that I have been accepted and will receive my Samsung A920 phone in 2-4 weeks. Yay!

Windows Live Expo released

The public beta of Windows Live Expo has been released. This is Microsoft's answer to eBay and Craigslist. You can post items to sell or to buy and share the listings with everyone, your "buddies" or with people at work or in an organization. You can do the latter by restricting viewers from within selected domain names.

I'm testing it right now by listing some Robert Ludlum books that I want to sell. I restricted my listing to fellow employees.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Great Middle Earth Meltdown

Every Tuesday morning I look forward to a review of the previous night's episode of "24." The Right Wing Nut House pulls no punches in criticizing some of the characters such as President Jellyfish [President Logan] and the Fat Hobbitt [Lynn McDill]. One of the more interesting stats is the weekly body count!


Monday, February 27, 2006

Funny Bode Miller line

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Telander on Bode Miller saying that his Olympic experience had been " awesome two weeks":
If he had an awesome Olympics, then France had an awesome World War II.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

World War I draft registration cards

Thanks to a tip from a distant relative in the Czech Republic, I became aware of a free offer from where you can obtain copies of World War I draft registration cards. The free offer runs through the end of February and is available at:

I found the above draft registration card of my grandfather, Edward Kostal. The card dates from 1917. Interestingly, there were three Edward Kostals available for the draft that year -- two from Nebraska. I wonder if they ever met.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm trying as best as I can

As much as I want to, I just cannot get into the Winter Olympics this year. Maybe it's the 7-hour time difference between Turin and Chicago. Maybe it's just lack of interest. Maybe also it's because the U.S. team isn't doing as well as they hoped. Seems like I know the outcome of the event before they are televised in the United Stattes. With Internet access and sports radio, it's a battle to be kept in the dark as far as the outcomes are concerned.

Is anyone else having trouble getting into the mood this year?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Cheney situation

I have intentionally not commented on the fallout over Vice President Cheney's wounding of a fellow hunter while shooting quail last Saturday. I know the late-night comics are having a field day over well they should. The best line I’ve heard so far is that the shooting “…is the worst shot from anyone from the White House since Clinton hit Monica’s dress.” -- comic Alex Kaseberg.

I'm troubled that the person he shot now has more serious medical issues having suffered a minor heart attack. I'm more troubled by the delay in reporting the news to the public. The shooting took place on Saturday and was not reported until sometime Sunday afternoon. Obviously the damage control team was called in to craft the message sent to the media. Now I hear that the local small-town newspaper was the first to get the story.

Hunting accidents, unfortunately, are not rare occurrences. These things happen. Public officials should be quick to admit when things go bad. As a Republican, it's really getting harder and harder to defend these guys.

Friday, February 10, 2006

'Chief' out of office until April

ABC's Commander in Chief is one of the few new TV shows that I watch. With The West Wing scheduled to end its run this spring, CIC will be one of the few political shows worth watching.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Yahoo! Photos updated

I'm a big fan of Flickr -- the photo-sharing site that's one of the most popular community sites on the web. I joined a year ago and recently upgraded my membership. Yes, I actually paid money! In 2004, Yahoo! bought Flickr and both companies have benefited from the partnership. Flickr got needed investment and an expanded network; Yahoo! got access to the new "Web 2.0" technology.

Now comes word that Yahoo's photo site -- Yahoo! Photos -- is undergoing a Flickr-like transition and will be upgraded sometime this spring. As this article mentions, Flickr gets the press and about 2 million monthly visitors while Yahoo! Photos quietly gets 30 million monthly visitors! Yahoo! Photos and Flickr will continue to share access to Target stores for photo printing, something I've used in the past and heartily recommend.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

GoDaddy's steamy car wash commercial

Although GoDaddy ran two ads during tonight's Super Bowl, this commercial was turned down by ABC and the NFL. Can't imagine why!
GoDaddy's Steamy Car Wash - Denied

Courtesy of IFILM

Super Bowl commercial - FedEx: Caveman

I fortunately missed the Super Bowl pre-game so I missed a few of the commercials. Of the commercials I did see during the game, I think this FedEx commercial was my favorite.
FedEx: Caveman
Sending packages today is so much easier than it was during the Paleozoic era.

Courtesy of IFILM

French AIDS public service announcement

Apparently, they do PSAs a little differently in France. This one's a music video about safe sex.

Courtesy of IFILM

Easy like Sunday morning

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The week of non-stop hype is nearly over. I enjoy both pro and college football (go Huskers!), but I'm ready for the season to end.

I'm picking Pittsburgh to win today's game. Just a hunch.

I'm writing this early in the morning and the house is still quiet. It's just me and the dogs who are up right now. They've already eaten and I just made a fresh pot of coffee and am sitting at the computer perusing news stories, checking Flickr images and adding to this blog.

This is my favorite part of the weekend -- just me and my friends enjoying some quiet bonding time.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"The Ball"

I’m a Chicago baseball fan, but more specifically a White Sox fan. It was a very enjoyable season last year with the Sox winning the 2005 World Series. One of the Series highlights was the grand slam home run hit by Paul Konerko in Game 2. The game was played at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and the ball was caught by a customer of the bank I work for. He immediately placed the ball in one of our safe deposit boxes.

Only 18 grand slams have been hit in World Series history.

On Wednesday, January 26th, our bank arranged for a memorabilia authenticator to come and inspect the ball. I was privileged to be able to attend and take photographs. It was fun to actually handle the ball…at least for a couple of seconds!

Monday, January 23, 2006


I just had to post this photo of my little Papillon, Mozart. I was playing around with my new digital camera and he seemed so willing to pose.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Too cold to smoke

On Saturday evenings during the summer, I like to sit out on the patio and smoke a cigar and drink a glass of wine (or three). Our house backs up to a forest preserve and it's fun to watch the birds, especially the golden finches and the cardinals, fly between the trees. Occasionally, I'll see a hawk in the taller trees.

Anyway, Friday evening we received 12 inches of snow. My summer refuge doesn't look too inviting right now! This photo was taken around 7:00 AM Saturday.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Toilet seats revisited

A few weeks ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about toilet seats. My point was that women often complain about the man in their life always leaving the seat up. I was wondering how fair that was and countered that, all things being equal, men should have the same right to complain about women leaving the seat down!

I was at our local Home Depot yesterday and they now sell a toilet that automatically lowers the seat after use. How lazy are we getting that we now have something like this to keep the peace in our households?

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Every Time Two Fools Collide

I was listening to some real bad '70s country music on iTunes tonight and Every Time Two Fools Collide by Kenny Rogers and Dottie West played. It reminded me that I saw them in the late '70s/early '80s at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln. My girlfriend-at-the-time and I saw them at the Devaney Center and then saw Crystal Gayle a few days later. I guess I was going through a country ballad phase at the time -- or maybe hormones were raging, I don't recall.

This memory sent me hunting through my old photo albums and I found this photograph I took of Kenny and Dottie at the concert. We had pretty decent seats, but I never got a good clear shot of them using my trusty old Canon A-1 and my telephone lens.

Sadly, Dottie West was killed in an auto accident in 1991.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Rebate madness

I have a love-hate relationship with rebates. On one hand, I like the savings you realize when buying something with a rebate. On the other hand, I don't like the uncertainty, the delay and the hassle of claiming a rebate. I'm not alone. Here's some information about rebate scams.

I'm having a hassle right now with Panasonic in getting my rebate. Last June, I bought a cordless telephone for my mother from Best Buy. The phone was $105 with two $20-rebates making the net cost $65. I filled out the forms, made copies of all the paperwork and sent the rebates in. I do like the way that Best Buy lets you track their rebates. Every transaction has a PIN number and each rebate offer has its own unique offer number. That's fine if the rebate is a Best Buy rebate; when it's a manufacturer's rebate, there can be problems.

Late in August, I received one of the rebate checks, but not the other. I went on the Best Buy website and entered all the information. There was no record of my rebate. I e-mailed their support center and found out the rebate was a Panasonic rebate, not a Best Buy rebate. They gave me an 800 number to call which I did. [Side note: I always find it interesting that even when I call for the first time, the automated system always tells me the menu has changed and please listen for the options!] I was able to speak to a friendly, live voice. After giving her only my name and street address, she was able to tell me that they did receive the documentation and when the check was sent. Unfortunately, the check was sent a couple of weeks earlier and I still had not received it. She told me the check would expire on December 8 and to call back if I had not received the check by that date.

So far, so good. I verified the paperwork was processed and there was a record of the check being sent.

December 9th arrives and still no check. I called back hoping to speak to the same friendly voice. Instead, someone else answers and abruptly tells me that the Panasonic Rebate Center does not, surprisingly, handle Panasonic rebates! If I want to pursue this further, I needed to call Panasonic Customer Support! She gives me the phone number and I get a sinking feeling in my stomach that I will need to fight for my $20.

I called the number and got one of those awful voice response units. I have to tell the computer who I want to speak to! I first say "rebate" and the system tells me they don't understand my request. I then say "telephone" and then it asks me if I want to speak to technical support in telephones. At this point I figure it's worth it to get away from the voice response unit so I say "yes" and I'm connected to technical support. The call is answered by a techie and I begin to tell my story once again. The person tells me I should call the rebate center(!) and I relay what the rebate center told me. He tells me he will try to get some help for me and gives me a case (reference) number and someone will call me back.

A few hours later, I do get a telephone call on my home voice mail. The person tells me all they need is the unit's serial number and then they can process the rebate claim. Yay!

I call them back using my reference number and give them the serial number of my mom's phone. I'm told they will put this through and someone will call me back to verify the information.

Then nothing.

A couple of days after Christmas, I called back and once again repeated the story for the person who answers. I'm now told that they are busy this time of year processing other "cases" and because of the backlog and the holiday season, it may be a few more days before I hear anything.

I'm at the point right now where I am going to pester them until I get some satisfaction. Twenty dollars is still twenty dollars and I feel I held up my end of the deal by paying full retail price and then dutifully completing the paperwork and sending everything in. I know they are counting on consumers to just give up so they can pocket the extra money.

I was not aware that Panasonic was in such dire financial straits that they needed the extra money!

Like I said at the beginning, I have a love-hate relationship with rebates. I recently bought a Linksys wireless router and a wireless notebook card and received the rebates within the acceptable time period. Two weeks ago I bought another Linksys wireless PCI card and expect the rebate in late January or early February. Last weekend I bought an external hard drive and got a $20 instant rebate (the best kind!).

Does anyone else have rebate horror stories?

Monday, January 2, 2006

First post of 2006

Happy New Year to everyone!

It's Monday morning and I'm about to participate in the annual viewership orgy known as the New Year's Day bowl games. This year, actually, these bowl games are played the day after New Year's Day since pro football games are still reserved for Sunday, except for those games played on Saturday! Confusing?

In keeping with my own tradition, I have not made any resolutions since I never seem to keep -- or even remember -- them. I only resolve to be a better person than I was the year before.