The Semantics of "Value"

What is the definition of “value”?

A bank (which shall remain nameless) is offering “valuable rewards” if you enroll your check card in their program. They’ll even kick in a bonus 650 points for signing up.

Here’s how it works: You use your card for nearly everything (including paying bills) and you get 1 reward point per each $4 spent (but you have to use it as credit, not debit, for it to count). Rack up those points, and turn them into valuable rewards! All this amazing stuff only costs you $12 annually!

Here’s the catch: Remember that 650 bonus points you get? That amounts to the value of a $5 gift card. That’s right, only $5. I know it’s bonus points, so you didn’t spend to get them, but just to illustrate how it works, you would have had to spend $2,600 in goods and services to earn those points. Therefore, you spend $2,600 to get a $5 reward (and you pay $12 annually for this privilege). According to the leaflet that was mailed to me, the “rewards” just keep getting better! For instance, once you have amassed 5,000 points, you can get a $50 gift card from Outback Steakhouse (but you had to spend $20,000 to get those points).

Now maybe my math is off (wouldn’t be the first time, as I hate math) but having to spend $4 to get one point is fairly straightforward math. How in this world can they claim this deal has anything to do with “value”? Granted, they assume this is spending you’d already be doing, so you may as well get something for it, right? Hmmm…. Then there’s that little matter of paying $12 a year. Why would I pay $12 a year for the privilege of spending $20,000 to get $50? If they dreamed this up in Vegas, it would definitely be the house plan, not a gambler’s idea! Take that $50 and minus the $12 – that’s $38. If I ever spend $20,000 in order to be given $38, I will expect one of my close friends to smack me in the head.

What’s the bottom line? Odds are, these “rewards” are being put up by the companies involved. I doubt if the bank is buying gift cards from Outback Steakhouse. Most likely they have their own deal going. I think the bottom line is that if enough people pay $12 a year, the bank could make a lot of money, essentially for nothing. I’m not all that versed in bank dealings, but maybe it helps them to have their card used so much, too, over other bank cards.

I suppose in the end, I’m arguing semantics. However, it is clear that this bank and I differ vastly in our definition of the word “value”.

Evolution (but not Darwin's).

The evolution of man (and woman) is lagging sadly in this modern age.

What began as a lively and fun discussion with my highly evolved boyfriend ended up inspiring the following rant when he mentioned a slang term known as a “man card” and I had to weigh in on society’s idiotic expectations for both genders. If you are an evolved person, you should end up smiling, nodding, or even muttering, “Darn straight!” However, if this rant ends up offending you, do yourself a favor and try to sort out why. Who knows? You may just end up evolving a little more.

Here goes….

I was issued a “woman card” as early as the seventh grade. It arrived in the form of being told by society that if I didn’t wear a specific brand of designer jeans, I’d be doomed to be marginalized forever in my school.

I’ve long since learned to ignore the card, but tucked it away as a keepsake of my unevolved past. What made me abandon society’s dictates? I grew up, experienced the futility of trying to be “good enough” for the in-crowd, and embraced my inner weirdo (nerd, geek … pick a label that makes you happy).

I also read the requirements on the back of the “woman card” and decided that most of them are either insane or just plain silly. I now disregard those “requirements” in favor of logical behavior.

However, the requirements on the back of the “man card” are often equally insane or silly. It’s a matter of how evolved one is, and these cards were voted in by a rather unevolved societal majority.

For an evolved female, an unevolved male is better shut down on sight before he can waste her precious time. Same goes for the reverse-gender situation. When the evolved of either gender attempts to date the unevolved, the result is similar to showing a double feature in which the movies are “Quest For Fire” and “Hamlet”: at some point, half of the audience is going to walk out.

Evolved persons (or those aspiring to be) have it extra tough in some areas. Society tries to tell a man that he must be a drunken, skirt-chasing jerk who treats women like edible trash in order to be “a man” (check the fine print on the back of the man card, it’s all there). Society tries to tell a woman that she must be a neurotic, clingy, hollow idiot who lives her life like she’s a bought accessory to a man, a baby factory, and catwalk-model-turned-hooker in order to be “a woman”.

For those of us who are evolved (regardless of gender), I thank God for our hard work, insight, and fortitude to become evolved. Now we can munch popcorn while pointing and laughing at the ridiculous fools who abide by society’s “rules” for gender-identity behaviors. Let them call us all the names they want – the barbs can’t fly far. In the end, we know who is having the better life.

Now we just have to kept finding each other and pairing up (and travel in packs) until we slowly become the dominant social norm: logical, respectful, brave, and possessing a vast array of social talents to stun and amaze those aflicted with an emotional deficit.

Our brains can string more words together than, “Hey, baby”, and our muscles can lift more important things than beer. We can stand on our own two feet (that’s the hind legs, folks) and when we chose a mate, we represent two whole and healthy people becoming one, instead of a pair of wounded or half-evolved neurotics attempting to. That’s a fine accomplishment – no matter what the cavemen and cavewomen think of it.

Merry-Go-Round Radio

What radio station I listen to is largely determined by what will come in with the least amount of static for the building I’m in. The next factor is a tolerance issue: of the few stations to pick from, are any of them ones I actually like, or is it a matter of the “lesser evil”? Worked into that is whether or not I’m sick to death of the music they play – over and over, in constant and unending rotation.

Merry-Go-Round radio refers to the format of having X number of very particular songs on an eternal loop and the songs almost never vary. Ever. Imagine listening to the same CD everyday for the rest of your life – that’s today’s standard radio format.

Therefore, to have variety, one must switch stations often. I would do this, but generally only a few will come in at a given time, and most of those are Tejano and Country. I can listen to Country for a bit, but it has a limited shelf life due to all the heartache songs getting on my nerves.

The rock station I wanted (the one with no dreaded “morning show”) won’t come in at all. The oldies station that just added an idiotic morning show won’t come in now, all of a sudden. For one brief, shining week I had the 80s station coming in clearly, but then cruel fate took it away again. Now, I’m stuck with “Sunny” (light pop hits) a station that is afraid to play anything harder than Aerosmith, but they only play the ballads. So far, the best part about Sunny is that I’m not subjected to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

So, instead of reinventing radio, such as introducing satellite stations you have to pay through the nose to get, why don’t “they” change up the songs on the loops on a monthly basis (if not weekly)? Or, invent a device that makes an average radio in a concrete bunker actually receive all of the stations? (Then I could surf musical genres for variety, at least).

In conclusion, a ray of hope: “they” are rumored to be inventing a way to get web radio shows available on regular radio devices, and on your car radio. That would be fabulous, as the internet is where all the good stuff ends up, anyway. Naturally, the FCC is going nuts over this. Here’s what I really want: a metal station that ranges from glam to thrash, where you can hear Slayer uncensored, and where they aren’t afraid to play stuff from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album. Ah, bliss….

Songs that Annoy Me: "She's Always A Woman" by Billy Joel.

Presented before the court, the lyrics:

She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child
But she’s always a woman to me

She can lead you to live
She can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth
But she’ll never believe you
And she’ll take what you give her as long as it’s free
She steals like a thief
But she’s always a woman to me

Oh, she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh, and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

She will promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she’s always a woman to me

She is frequently kind
And she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She’s nobody’s fool
But she can’t be convicted
She’s earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me

Okay…it’s a good thing Billy wrote in there “She can’t be convicted”, because I personally feel she should be. As a woman myself, I hope this wasn’t the best example of womanhood Mr. Joel ever knew. Whoever he was writing about, he seems to be waxing nostalgic where he ought to be running in terror. Doesn’t this “woman” sound like a sociopathic spoiled brat? And why, in the face of all the lyrical damning evidence is she “always a woman” to him?

Weird, Mr. Joel, just weird. On the plus side, I like the melody line and the music – it’s the sort of tune that makes you want start swaying to it; at least until the potential psycho hose beast lyrics remind you that you’d do better to look around you and make sure this “woman” isn’t creeping up behind you with an axe.

Hurricane Reprise… This Time it's "Ike".

Here we are again, crouching in fear of a hurricane, each family having to decide to risk death at home or on the road. Last time I took my chances on the road, this time I’m thinking of sticking it out. The last time a catagory 3 hit Galveston directly (I think it was Alicia?) The street I live on was reported to be high and dry. This report comes from the fellow who mows the pasture, and he was living here then, as he does now. This was a rather long time ago, I think I was still in high school, perhaps? Forgive the lapses in memory, but I’m about to turn forty, and the synapses may be slipping a tad.

Tomorrow I shall gas up my vehicle “just in case” (so I’m told it is called) and then glue myself to the Weather Channel and hope to avoid using said gas until next week. Hopefully, I will be putting lawn chairs in the garage, closing up the barn, hunkering down, and getting a lot done on the computer. (If that is what happens, I’ll try to poke in here and let you all know it).

As usual, one of the reporters on the Weather Channel ticked me off. She said, and I quote, “Texas is going to be hit on both sides by different weather systems, isn’t that…interesting!” Note the pause. I think she realized she was about to say “cool” and then realized it might be a PR mistake. At the last instant, she throws in the word “interesting”, which, in my opinion, is not any more appropriate, given my location on the planet. After turning the air blue around me in her honor for a few minutes, her co-worker highly amused me. She didn’t approve of course, and quashed his attempt at humor swiftly, but I loved it. The guy’s name was Mike (one assumes it still is his name) and he was stationed in Corpus Christi. At one point during his spiel, he merrily showed us his box of “Mike & Ike” candy he’d found. Miss Inappropriate Words changed the topic on him, but I would like to thank him for that bit of quirky humor.

More news to come later as the (hopefully non) drama ensues.

Hurricane Gustav Cometh…

After trying all week to ignore endless emails of warnings or updates on Tropical Storm Gustav (for reasons why, read the post “Why the Media and the Government Tick Me Off During Hurricane Season”), I got a call today from my aunt in Michigan telling me that it was no longer a tropical storm – it was a catagory 4 hurricane. Lovely.

Now the question is: do we stay or do we go? After the Hurrican Rita evacuation, I want nothing to do with “going”. Just seeing people from New Orleans on the news, stuck in traffic with dwindling gas options, makes me want to twitch. The proverbial scheisse is supposed to hit the fan (the exact spot yet to be determined) on Monday night/Tuesday morning. If it’s really going to hit near us, we can go where we went for Rita, to our friend Susan’s house, animals and all. Safety first, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can’t help feeling outraged (at the weather? Yeah, it’s not sensible, but there it is) but mostly at the media. They can’t wait to have hundred die so their ratings will go up, and they seem willing to scare people into risking their lives for nothing over and over again. It makes me a bit reluctant to make a decision to leave my home, to trust their judgment on the danger factor (when they are the only input you hear, and you know they can’t wait for a real disaster), etc. *Sigh* I’ll comment/update later on this as it develops. At least this time, I’ve had some practice with roadway disasters.

Update: We stayed put, as Gustav never came this way. I hope Florida fares okay too, and Louisiana as well. These storms could go away and stay there, I don’t think anyone would mind.

Why the Media and the Government Tick Me Off During Hurricane Season… Part 3


My father left Susan and Mark’s house on Sunday morning to check on our town and homes. After he left, we lost another of our cats. Que, another oldster, hadn’t been able to survive the punishment of the traffic gridlock. His health failed over the next days before he died. But we only lost two, and others lost much more, including human family members, so we counted our blessings.



My mother and I stayed with them until Monday night, but left the barn cats there, as well as the horses. We brought the dog and the house cats home first. The neighborhood had some trees knocked down, but we only had to spend one night without power in San Leon.



After clearing some of the tree damage in order to be able to drive the trailer back to the barn, (a week later) my mother and I returned for the barn cats on the following Monday night. They all came running to me when they heard my voice at the rabbit cages. They weren’t thrilled about the kennel cages again, but most went in without a fuss, including the tomcats. One or two of the rescue Siamese cats were a pain, and had to be noosed again to be caught. Without the heat or the traffic, they all endured the two to three hour trip much more easily. My sister Karen drove up from her Florida trip at the moment when we were unloading barn cats, so we all unloaded and got them all out and free again. Karen and I returned to Susan’s to bring the horses home on that Wednesday night.


I’m so grateful our neighborhood was undamaged, and the other animals and all the people were fine and safe, but I’ve never wanted to be in a traffic jam again. The last time I got into one, I started to get anxious. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anyone? I know I don’t have driving phobia for real, but traffic jams still make me uncomfortable, and my old love of long road trips has evaporated.



With my horrid saga in mind, now you know why I get angry when the media starts trying to scare us into running from hurricanes (most of which are still tropical storms nowhere near us when they start their crap up). When Tropical Storm Edouard was “bearing down upon us” (that’s how the news media put it) everyone just grumbled and went about their business. My family, friends, and I actually went out to lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant that day for a “It’s not a dang Hurricane” party.



Rita was supposed to be a catagory 5, or so the media hyped it. It got downgraded to a catagory 3 by the time it hit. The city officials were supposed to have fuel trucks along the evacuation route – I never saw even one. Their contraflow plan was a miserable failure. On Saturday, September 24th, the news started reporting that the city officials had a scheduled plan for when people could return home, by regions. No one paid attention to them. They had failed us – why should we obey them now?



These days, the city officials have a new plan, which would have saved a lot of lives if it had been in place for Rita. The plan is that those who live within three miles of the water is to evacuate first. Evacuation by regions according to danger, and no one in Houston proper or above should leave at all unless a catagory 5 is imminent on our doorstep. It remains to be seen if this will work, or if people who have been terrified by the media will listen to that reasonable plan at all.



For me and mine, it would have to be seriously impending danger to get us to leave just to end up in traffic gridlock again, and I know many others feel the same. The problem is, will people take a real threat seriously, after the media has cried “wolf” so often? I hope we never have to find out.