The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

January 25, 2011

I Can’t Complain, But Sometimes I Still Do

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , , — Brian Lutz @ 2:31 am

Unlike Joe Walsh, who sang the song Life’s Been Good from which the title of this post comes from (which still gets played roughly once every 73 minutes or so on KZOK,) I’m not exactly living the life of an overly monied rockstar or anything like that, but I find that the sentiment of the quoted song lyric still applies.  I really have very little to complain about in my life right now, and yet, every once in a while, I find it necessary to let a petty grievance or two fly.  I don’t expect that complaining about any of this stuff will actually accomplish anything (it rarely does,) but at least it provides an excuse to snark in a public forum (and at the same time probably make people wish I’d just shut up already.)  So, without further ado, some collected rantings from the past week or so.

To: Ampco System Parking, Bellevue WA
Re:  Parking Violation Number 61801084

 A few days ago, upon returning to my car parked in the garage of my apartment building after a day’s absence, I found that a violation notice had been affixed to the windshield, indicating that it had exceeded the customary three-hour limitation on parking in that location.  I will freely admit that my car was, in fact, parked in that particular location for more than three hours at the time.  If I recall correctly, it had not moved from that particular spot in over two days at the time the citation was issued.  In fact, my car had spent the better part of, oh, about the last six months or so in that particular spot, having been assigned to park there (well, not that particular spot, but that particular level of the parking garage) by apartment management when I moved into the building, and having been provided a permit to park in that location (a fact that seems to have been neglected in the issuance of the citation in question.) 

As a resident of this building, it would seem that I would have a vested interest in keeping the parking garage as free of assorted riff-raff, miscreants and malcontents as possible, and given the urban nature of this location I can see the need for judicious parking enforcement toward this end.  Although I do have to admit to a lengthy history of driving disreputable vehicles, I would like to believe that my current car is not one of these.  In fact, it has been nearly six years since I was last suspected of living in my vehicle, and with any luck, I should be able to keep that particular streak going throughout the foreseeable future.  The relative merits of my current choice of transportation aside, the fact remains that after six months of parking in the same relative location it seems just a bit arbitrary to decide to issue a parking fine. 

Nonetheless, the violation notice makes it abundantly clear that a massive wall of bureaucracy stands in front of any appeals process (if such a thing even exists,)  Given the language of the notice, I’m led to suspect that the words “Pay up sucker” were most likely redacted by some lawyer at some stage in the design process, but the sentement seems to remain.  Apartment management has, for their part, taken steps to prevent this from happening again by providing a specific assigned spot down in the lower levels of the garage behind the security gate for me to park in, but is unable to do anything about the violation.  Therefore, since banging my head repeatedly against the wall is a habit that I am currently trying to break, the forty dollar fine specified on the violation has been remitted as specified.  Not without complaint, as evidenced by the prior contents of this missive, but remitted nonetheless.

Don’t spend it all in one place.

To:  Redbox
Re:  Transaction number 958172193

As anyone who knows me can attest to, I have a notoriously short attention span, which makes it difficult for me to sit down and watch movies, no matter how interesting they may or may not be.  This fact has largely precluded me from making use of the various DVD rental kiosks you have placed throughout the area.  Even so, I have recently noted that video games have been added to a number of the local Redbox kiosks.  In theory, this seems like a great idea, a way to extend your services to an entirely new generation of couch potatoes with limited disposable income.  Unfortunately, the implementation of this particular service seems to be lacking.  On the few occasions that I have checked the local kiosks for games to rent, I have found that the available selections tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Games I already have in my collection;
  2. Games I don’t really want to play;
  3. Miscellaneous Wii shovelware (see item #2).

So when I found a recently released game in a Redbox kiosk recently that I actually had some vague interest in playing, it came as a bit of a shock.  So, after navigating through the rental process (and spending far more time than I should have on correcting errors generated by the wonky touchscreen keyboard,) I was able to leave with a copy of LittleBigPlanet 2 for PS3.  Putting aside the relative merits of that particular game for a minute (I’m sure that some people out there would have fun with that one, I just don’t think I’m one of them) I would like to say that the return process for the disc was painless, but quite frankly, it wasn’t.  To make a long story short, finding a Redbox kiosk to return the disc to required going to three different locations and an unnecessary 20 minutes of wading through rush-hour traffic.  The first kiosk was out-of-order, the second was full and unable to accept returns, and when I finally found a third kiosk some distance away that I could return the disc to, there was a family there that seemed to be in the process of planning their next three months worth of movie viewing, requiring roughly an eternity or two of additional waiting before I could finally return the disc. 

While I am aware that offering game rentals from Redbox kiosks is currently a pilot program, it seems that bugs in the implementation of this process still remain.  I’m sure there are carefully concocted research studies that justify filling up half the selections on the games menu with shovelware, but the whole thing might work out just a little bit better if you tried putting in stuff that people actually want to play.


To:  Old Country Buffet, Factoria Mall
Re: This Evening’s Meal

This evening, in spite of my better judgment, I paid a visit to your restaurant for dinner.  I tend to visit infrequently, and in fact, I tend to characterize my visits to Old Country Buffet as being intended primarily to remind myself of why I don’t eat there more often (the same can be said for visits to Denny’s, IHOP, Papa John’s, Burger King, and a number of other similar establishments, although Denny’s gets an occasional exception for being one of the only non fast food places on the Eastside open past 10pm, and for being a moderately decent place to go hang out when one’s brain is scrambled.)  Upon arrival, I had noticed that not only had prices been increased recently, but that patrons were now being charged separately (and, it may be said, exorbitantly) for the same drinks that had been included on my previous visits to this location.  Lacking the common sense to seek alternative dining arrangements (and perhaps justifying this as a training exercise for taking on the Horizon Court Buffet on my upcoming cruise,) I proceeded to pay the inflated costs and proceed with the meal.

While I can appreciate the need to do things like stop losing money (if I recall correctly, the last time I visited an Old Country Buffet was right around the time when the parent company was filing for chapter 11, presumably as a result of losses incurred from serving drink-guzzling miscreants,) there are certain expectations that come with spending thirteen bucks on one’s dinner, and upon arrival in an Old Country Buffet I fully expect to be disappointed in all of them.  Even so, I must note that on this particular visit, the salad bar was particularly disorganized.  When one is looking to create a salad, there is a certain flow that one expects to find, mostly dictated by the order in which ingredients are applied to said salad.  For example, one generally expects to place croutons on top of a near-finished salad, which makes their placement right next to the lettuce on the exact opposite end of the salad bar from the other “finishing” toppings particularly puzzling.  I also don’t know why exactly it was necessary to place the hard-boiled eggs in this unorthodox location, or why it was necessary to place them in two other spots within the salad bar area.  And don’t even get me started on the lack of bacon bits, real or otherwise (yes, I’m aware that calling those shockingly artificial red things “bacon bits” serves mostly to perform disservice to actual bacon, but still…)  Oh, and the labelling of the various dressing flavors could use some work too.  And what’s with the lettuce at the front end of the bar that came pre-doused in some sort of unlabeled dressinglike substance?  If I intend to eat in an adventurous fashion, I generally like to at least know what it is that I’m eating.

Anyway, I suppose I don’t have much of an actual point to this, but on my next visit in a year or so when I once again forget why it is that I don’t eat there more often, I would appreciate it if the salad bar was a little better organized.

See you Eventually,


  1. Thanks for the warning about changes at Old Country Buffett. Not going there again because they were never that great to begin with. Luckily, ever since the Totem Lake one closed I’ve had no excuses to go there. Golden Corral however is excellent, drinks included. I eat there whenever I’m in Marysville, which is not often. How I wish they would build another location!!!

    Comment by Colin — January 25, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    • Yeah, there’s definitely much better buffets out there (I happen to like Chuck-a-Rama, but they’re only in Utah and a couple of locations in Idaho.) Haven’t tried Golden Corral though; usually if I’m up that way I’ll stop in at Chang’s Mongolian Grill in Everett though. Good stuff there, and reasonably priced too.

      Comment by Brian Lutz — January 25, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

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