Good speech. But Obama still won’t win.

Update: Just hours after I posted this entry McCain picked the first woman ever for a Republican Presidential ticket, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  Not certain if this is a plus or minus.  She has no foreign policy experience.

It was an inspiring, articulate and historic Democratic Presidential nomination speech. Possibly the best ever. And it was very Obama. And it convinced a lot of Democrats he will win. There was actually more real content to this Obama speech than any I’ve previously heard. Many Democrats are proud and feel there’s no way he can lose now because America will not tolerate “another four years of Bush-McCain”.

I almost feel sorry for those Democrats. Despite their unmatched, historical support for America’s first black candidate he most likely will not defeat McCain. And McCain did one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a while. He ran an ad congratulating Obama on his historic achievement during the televised nomination acceptance. This move will solidify McCain’s support from the moderates and Independents who were on the fence about a vote for the Republican ticket. It was an impressive feat, but the issues still stand and the Republican party did not forfeit because of one good speech.

Even without knowing McCain’s Vice Presidential selection as of this writing I can already tell that as the results of this election are tallied on Nov. 4th, 2008 one of two things will happen: Either the race will be as close as those in 2000 and 2004 with John McCain squeaking in and electoral victory or Obama will win by a landslide. There will be no landslide for McCain but I do not doubt the voting power of Republicans who watch silently and have a solid historical record of turning out to vote. Unlike the new, young “small-d” Democrats.

I’m done with ebay.

I sold a product on ebay today.  They held all the funds for 21 days or “until the buyer leaves positive feedback” knowing very well a lot of buyers don’t leave feedback.  They consider this buyer protection.  I consider it misuse of my money as they are doing this under the guise of buyer protection in order to hold other peoples money to generate interest.  So I refunded the money to the buyer immediately and told him the product would not be shipped – it will be on Craigslist.

Through these actions against small, private sellers ebay has become nothing but a storefront for high volume resellers which comprise over 60% of their listing fees.  They require private sellers to use Paypal, again under the false pretense of “buyer protection”.  The reality is they don’t make any money through Paypal when a buyer sends a certified check or money order so they force sellers to use their revenue generating engine.

This is just like the banks telling their service reps to inform customers they process debit and check transactions largest to smallest for their own good. “So your car payment won’t bounce” they say.  Bullshit, pure and simple.  So it has nothing to do with the fact that this model generated an additional 17 billion in fees for the industry when adopted in 2006?  Right.

Until government starts acting to fight financial industry manipulation of consumer funds for their own benefit more and more consumers will suffer and languish while they wait for access to their own money.  No financial institution should be able to “hold” cash funds (note I did not say pending check deposits) or decide how and when to process payments and transactions when these actions result in a revenue stream or profit for the institution.  That’s using my money for your net gain and I resent it and will not allow it.  So, I’m done with ebay.

Hedingham Golf Club actually got worse.

Who would have thought it was possible?  I thought Daryl threw away our rain check for 9 holes at Hedingham.  Not only did he keep it but yesterday he wanted to use it.  I agreed thinking it couldn’t be any worse than it was last time.  Man was I wrong.  The little guy at the counter was accomodating when we arrived, letting us go straight to the back 9.  But the very next thing that happened was the start of the worse 9 holes of golf I’ve ever experienced. 

There were two carts to choose from.  One was swarming with flies, so our choice was obvious.  The cart lasted about six holes.  Daryl pushed it up any hills the last three.  But before we even got started we had a portly guy with a crew cut, who looked to be in his 20’s, come along and ask to see our receipts to play.  Hmmm.  We just walked out of your club house with a cart key jackass… Anyway.  This guy felt it necessary to assert his authority on a couple of guys in their mid to late 30’s who are obviously into stealing free golf games at the course with the worst conditions in the area.  Never mind the little thugs all over the place.

So let’s talk about the little thugs on the bikes all over the neighborhood cart path.  They were swarming and didn’t care if we were coming through in a golf cart on the cart path, oh no.  We would go around the dumb little thugs and accomodate them for the money we paid.  At least at Wil-Mar, or any other clubs we play we won’t find groups of kids gathering on the cart paths or near the greens to smoke behind their parents backs.

So we left the cart at the 18th green because it just wouldn’t make it up the last hill to the club house.  We went inside to let them know.  Guess who we got to talk to?  Mr. Insecure, respect seeking, loser with an attitude.  Yep the same asshole who demanded to see our receipts to play his cheap *!itty course.  We expected an apology or something but no.  All this aggrevated guy would say is “our phone number was on the scorecard”.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  This displays the attention this “Golf Club” pays to protocol on a golf course.  I don’t even take my cell phone and I don’t want to hear anyone elses ringing on the course.

Look guy, you made your life choices and now you’re a manager or assitant greenskeeper or something at the worst golf course near Raleigh I’ve ever played.  Deal with it and get your attitude right.  The only thing that could have made this course any worse is unhospitable staff.   Now Hedingham has nothing going for it: a bad course in a low end track home neighborhood full of staff who seem to have a chip on their shoulder because they’re reduced to working there.  It makes for a lot of mental challenge for your game that if overcome, just might make you a better golfer.

Barack Obama: A “Made Man”

I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for in November.  At one time I fully supported Obama.  I’m not so sure I do anymore.  I watched the CNN special Barack Obama Revealed last night and came away with even less certainty about Barack than felt before.  The most glaring message I got out of the whole show was how Barack is essentially a “made man” by his friends in the Illinois state senate, specifically his endorsement by Senate President Emil Jones.  It seems to me that Barack needed to learn how to grease his elbows and these guys taught him how to do it.  One good speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2003  and BANG – a Presidential nominee is born.  One who had 129 “Present” votes during his time in the Illinois Senate.  And no track record to speak of during one term in the US Senate.

I get the impression that a whole lot of “Obamamania” is based upon the fact that many, many people are turned off by the Republican party thanks to good ‘ol Dubya and Cheney.  They’re ready to take anybody that represents a change from the status quo.  But I haven’t been convinced that McCain is a carbon copy of Bush.  In the past and today McCain appears to be a Republican I can settle for.  He’s a moderate.  Now if he goes out and gets himself a hyper-religeous, bible beating, Neocon for a running mate to satisfy the “base” of the Republican party then I’ll have to settle for the lesser of two evils and go with Obama.  I will not sway in my position that nothing mixes worse than religeon and politics, not even oil and water.

There is one aspect of McCain winning the Presidency that I’ve not heard a lot of talk about.  That is the fact that if he wins and the Democrats pick up two or three more seats in Congress we can expect at least four more years of deadlocked legislation.  Nothing will be passed because bills will be shot own and vetoed at a record pace.  I’m relatively conviced this is not what we need right now.  I would like to see a working Congress as opposed to one that is permanently on vacation. 

Hedingham golf course sucks. Period.

So I paid $40 to play 18 holes at Hedingham golf course in Raleigh yesterday.  It was the absolute worst course I have ever played on.  Other courses in the area that are in the same price range make this course look like the field in the back of my house.  It was litterally hard to tell the fairways from someones back yard.  They were full of crabgrass and the greens were full of holes and flattened weeds that looked like they had been smashed flat with a mower.  And big burn marks that looked like a cart had peeled out from the greens and left huge skid marks.  This is not a lie: there was a Dandylion growing on a green.

It was so bad we only played 9 holes and told them we wanted our money back.  They refused and gave us a rain check that we promptly threw away.  Everyone knows a course has to be bad to keep our crew from playing.  On the 8th hole we came across one of the greenskeeping staff sitting next to the tee box in a small greens truck.  He procedeeded to hand roll himself a cigarrette (it appeared to be a real, tobacco cigarette) and then talk on his cell phone at full volume as we tee’d off.  At most reputable courses this would get him fired based on a complaint, but not Headingham.  At one point my ball even landed in a man made hole in the middle of a fairway.  The kind of hole a kid digs in his back yard.  Why would anyone play this course when Wil-Mar is right down the road for the same price?

Avoid this “golf course” and save your money.  It hardly even qualifies as a course because it’s mostly a bunch of undefined fairways in the back yards of townhouses.  I feel bad for those who bought actual houses surrounding the “Hedingham Golf and Athletic Club”.   That’s nothing to be proud of right now.  It’s the worst course conditions in the area and should only cost a fraction of what other courses cost to play.  But it doesn’t.

How I play exclusive golf courses for free.

I can now officially say I have played the top three golf courses in the Raleigh, NC area: Northridge, Prestonwood and now the Carolina Country Club.  The beautiful thing is I only had to pay at one of them.  How is this possible you ask?  It’s who you know.  And since I don’t know any rich doctors, lawyers or local politicians I rely on the greens keeping staff.  My people are the ones the rich have labeled the “working class”.  I had the chance to hit a 28,000 sq. foot house with a golf ball but I didn’t.  Hows’ that for “conservative”?

Daryl now has a job at the CCC.  I am not talking about the Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg SC.  I’m talking about the one hidden inside the beltline off Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh.  The Carolina Country Club is still not racially integrated and to my understanding blacks are still prohibited from playing there.  Very sad.  This factor alone is keeping me from rating it the best place I have ever played.  It is definitely one of the nicest courses I have ever played, right in line with Prestonwood and Winton Country Club in the mountains of Virginia.

One of the coolest things about the CCC is that I may be getting to play there as much as twice a month for free if Daryl has his way.  This will be AWESOME if it becomes reality.  I dunno, Daryl likes to play golf and the only thing better than playing at a course like this is playing on it for free.  Look at me – I can’t afford a new car but I’m playing golf at clubs with $50,000 membership initiation fees and $125 guest fees.  Amy, I now have an obligation to play more golf and get better so I can live up to the honor.  Even if it is at my home stompin’ grounds, the good ‘ol Wendell Country Club or Wil-Mar golf.

Bank Fees: Another Fee Tactic

I’ve just been made aware of a new tactic being used by banks to generate fees.  I thought Bank of America was the absolute worst for engineering mechanisms to maximize overdraft fees.  It seems that WaMu (Washington Mutual) now holds this honor above BOA with a process that is simply evil at it’s core.  They will display a deposit in the accounts “Available Balance” but will then charge overdraft fees on any transactions that occur before the deposit actually moves to a posted status.  They have set this period between “pending” and “posted” at 24 hours.

So here’s how it works: You get a direct payroll deposit at midnight.  WaMu will show this deposit in your “Available Balance” on-line and through any other available inquiry method.  So you have the money to spend correct?  Wrong.  If you spend any money that exceeds the funds available prior to this deposit you will be charged an overdraft fee for each negative transaction.  WaMu explains this through their process of posting all debits before deposits.  But wait.  WaMu displayed the funds as available?  Doesn’t matter.  The funds aren’t actually available to be used until the deposit moves into “posted” status 24 hours after they’ve displayed the funds as available.

Let’s face it.   We’re getting way past the point where the bank is mostly a liability for consumers in todays economy.  These fee tactics and irresponsible lending practices have undermined faith in the banking system for a large segment of Americans.  In fact the number stands at about 36% according to the banking industry itself so we can consider that the most conservative estimate.  It’s actually probably more like 50% and growing.  The banks explain all of this through the repeated proclamation that they are a business intending to make money like any other.  So run, don’t walk to your local credit union and make it known to the banks that if their business is taking our money for nothing then we don’t want their product.