Friday, February 12, 2010

three quarter time

The memory chip in the camera I borrowed had a few stray pictures on it that I needed to clear off before going to a dinner dance at church tonight. This one is from a road trip to Northern Virginia at the beginning of January.

My family and I had stopped at a Quarles convenience store in Front Royal, Virginia. I spotted an offer that seemed too good to pass up. Anything with Oreo in its name will catch my eye and the Oreo Brownie was no exception. The counter display had a pad of 75¢ coupons on it. I asked the clerk how much the brownie cost. It was $1 before the coupon, meaning I could get one for 25¢. I have long thought that most snack cakes are overpriced. It's rare to see a coupon worth more than half the price of an item.

I told my son that I would pay the quarter and he could have the free part. We put the treat in a bag in the car and forgot about it for the time being. A few days later when we were back home, my son found the brownie and cut it into two pieces. I knew without looking that my piece would be exactly 25% of the total mass because that's how he is.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

become a fan

The rebuilt Weigel's on Fox Lonas Road has been open about a month. It's been at least that long since I went in and took pictures on my way home from the roast of Fr. Ragan Schriver. I know from past experience that they offer deep discounts on milk and gasoline during their official grand opening celebrations. As a result, I was excited to hear that this past Wednesday was finally the day.

I had been meaning to stop off at any Weigel's for a few days prior. My wife had filled out an application for their new Rewards Card and I was supposed to drop it off as soon as I found our old paper card, which I had given to my daughter while she was in town and hadn't put back in my wallet right away. The clerk at Weigel's told my wife that the milk purchases represented by the punched-out holes on the paper version would be credited to the fancy new electronic card. Once I buy 16 gallons of milk, the 17th is free.

On my way home from work on Wednesday, I took a slight detour to the new store. I saw a large inflatable Blue Rhino and a vehicle from a competing radio station. I thought that maybe I could get in and get out quickly and quietly. Not so much.

I parked in front of the store and took my Rewards Card application inside. I wanted to turn in the form, buy some skim milk and top off my gas tank. In order to put both purchases on the same credit card transaction, I had to go back outside and pump the gas before buying the milk. My conversation with the sales clerk drew the attention of Kurt Weigel, who kindly remembered me from my remote broadcast at a different store in his chain.

I chatted with Kurt about the two types of ice at the new store and how my wife prefers crushed ice in her Diet Pepsi with a little Diet Coke mixed in. I asked if he would be offering any sort of coffee refill program like his main competitor does. He said it would probably be included on the new Rewards Card in the future. I also dropped a hint that he should put some coupons on Facebook like they do.

Because I was off from work yesterday, the hunt was on for free coffee. With apologies to my new pal Kurt, I did go to Pilot and use the coupons I got from their Facebook page. Three times.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

candy planned

The candy spotted by my friend Keith made no sense for late December. He emailed me on the Second Day of Christmas to report that the Kroger on S. Northshore Drive was selling Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. When I saw him at church the next morning, I asked if he thought they were left over from last Easter. No, a clerk told Keith that the eggs had just arrived.

My family and I stopped at a Sheetz convenience store on New Year's Day. In addition to the Reese's eggs, they had a whole assortment of Easter candy including Almond Joy Eggs, Easter Dots, Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury Caramel Eggs.

The item that caught my eye and pried 99¢ plus tax from my wallet will be obvious to most readers of this blog. In fact, I had recently mentioned that I was anxious to try a chocolate-covered Marshmallow Peep. In my excitement, I hastily purchase a Peep covered with milk chocolate, momentarily forgetting that I had intended to hold out for the dark chocolate variety.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

ice pick

The Weigel's across the street from Knoxville Catholic High School has reopened. I stopped in and took a look around on Sunday after the roast of Fr. Ragan Schriver.

Like many places this time of year, they are on the pumpkin spice and egg nog bandwagons. As much as I like their egg nog, I need to finish my frozen stash before buying any more.

I also noticed that Weigel's is challenging Pilot in the battle of ice choice. A new trend at convenience stores is to offer both cubed and crushed ice now that many people are used to having the same option at home.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

out to pasteur

The man who offered me a Kona coffee and poured a Coke Icee for my co-worker Hannah introduced himself as Kurt. I found out later that his last name is Weigel, as in the Weigel's convenience store where I was doing a remote broadcast. It was the grand opening of their new South Knoxville location. They celebrated with gas for $2.059 a gallon, milk for $1.99 a gallon, two-liter bottles of Coke products for 99¢ each and several other specials.

In the time before I learned Kurt's last name, I chatted with him about my fondness for convenience stores. I mentioned that my wife and I use the Weigel's punch card to get an occasional free gallon of milk. He told me that they will soon be switching from paper to a plastic swipe card. My wife and I will no longer need to ask the clerk to combine the punches on our two cards. We will each get a reward card on the same account.

I also told Kurt that convenience stores rate their own category on my blog. In the past I've written about 7-Eleven, QuikTrip and Wawa. When he praised the latter two stores, I told him how fantastic it was that I saw egg nog for sale at Wawa in late April a couple of years ago. I didn't get a chance to mention the Weigel's egg nog still in my freezer.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

nothing but flowers

A week ago I bought milk at the Weigel's on Fox Lonas Road near All Saints Church. Today, the building was a pile of rubble.

The store that is no more gained notoriety in the Johnia Berry murder case. After Johnia and her roommate were both stabbed, the roommate ran to the nearby Weigel's for help. Sadly, it was too late to save Johnia.

I suspected something was up when I noticed the Michael Brady Inc. sign out front a few weeks ago. I hope the architecture firm will build a new Weigel's store with an innovative design. Maybe it will be as nice as the Weigel's on Campbell Station Road. That's one good looking Weigel's.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

oh thank heaven

Happy 7-Eleven Day! My friend Bean and I used to make regular trips across the street to the 7-Eleven on Lee Highway when we both worked at WAVA. Bean was such a fan that he... uh... obtained a 7-Eleven doormat for his home.

My family and I pulled into a 7-Eleven to gas up this afternoon on the last leg of our road trip. While I filled the tank, my wife and son went inside and noticed that they were giving away free 7.11 ounce Slurpees. They tried pouring a few flavors that weren't yet frozen before having success with a blue one that was labeled "Strawberry Pineapple Lime." Go figure.

I've been told that certain blue clothes enhance my eye color. Do you think a blue tongue makes my eyes pop too?

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

guaranteed gasoline fail

"Have you seen the Censored Count?" asked my kids. Over their Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations I truly enjoyed talking with them about their current favorite websites. We watched the great "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" and scrolled through okay sites like I Can Has Cheezburger and better sites such as Totally Looks Like. After getting Rickrolled by the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we got a chuckle from the Barackroll.

We were passing laptops back and forth in a flurry of Internet activity as each of us brought up various viral videos and other content to share. The site that kept coming back into our conversations was the very funny Fail Blog. For example, as the family was decorating Christmas cookies, Frank Jr. cracked us up by making the Gingerbread Man Fail that you might have noticed in my December 25th post. While we were in St. Louis, I spotted a real-life example that could have been on Fail Blog. I snapped these pictures at a QuikTrip and added the text myself.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

thankyou, thankyouverymuch

Does your Friday morning routine include a stop at a convenience store? Maybe you can pick up an extra copy of the News Sentinel for me. I want to send copies to my mother, my grandmother and some other relatives. Remember that local Pilot stores give away the paper for free on Fridays during high school football season. Although I'm sure they would enjoy reading a preview of the Catholic at Fulton game, I actually want Mom and Grandma to see Clay Owen's photo of yours truly that will be included with the results of the News Sentinel's annual readers poll.

If you voted for me in the East Tennessee's Best survey, I sincerely thank you. Your votes in the Best Local Blogger category were enough to give me the edge over hundreds of talented local bloggers including the next two top vote getters, Richard Allen and Dave Foulk.

A year ago, I was very surprised to make the top three. You may recall that I placed second, behind Barbie Cummings. "Local Blogger" was a new category last year and I thought that some of the other bloggers might rally their readers to vote in the new poll. I'm all the more complimented that I won without having to ask. The blurb that accompanies the results is really, really nice:
There isn’t much Frank Murphy hasn’t done. You’ve probably heard him on radio station Star 102.1 as one-third of the popular Marc & Kim and Frank Show. He and his wife have done radio commercials for LA Weight Loss. He’s a member of Einstein Simplified, a comedy improv group that performs weekly in Knoxville. He was a judge on “Warehouse Warriors” on the DIY Network. He also likes to nap. A lot.

When he’s not doing all that, Frank writes on his blog. He’s been doing so since August of 2005. He writes about life, love, the Tennessee Valley Fair, swimming, Knoxville-turned-Nashville band Jag Star, body farms, fireworks displays, going to the movies, his love of the world’s largest things, shopping for tuna and fat-free salad dressing at Food City, and the latest on his quest to visit all 50 states. You know, all your favorite stuff.

It’s rare if a day goes by when Frank doesn’t update his blog. It’s also rare if a day goes by when East Tennessee isn’t reading it.
It's appropriate to acknowledge Jack Lail for sending a lot of hits my way earlier this year by linking to my post about Coed Naked Bar Hopping. That entry also got several clicks from the gang at The Sunsphere is Not a Wigshop (who reviewed this week's Einstein Simplified show, by the way). The follow-up post was linked to by Michael Silence.

Speaking of Michael's excellent blog, I got a laugh when the newspaper's photo department emailed me to arrange a meeting, they wrote:
Hey Frank,
KNS readers have voted you ET's Best blogger. Michael Silence was robbed. Can we get a photo of you in action sometime soon?
I think I just might celebrate my victory with a Graceland cupcake. The peanut butter icing and banana cake treat is the featured flavor this week at The Cupcakery.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

waste of money

One of the arcade games at the Tennessee Valley Fair gave me an "oh yeah" moment on Friday. During our recent road trip I saw what I thought of as an "Arkansas Slot Machine." I knew I had seen it someplace before but couldn't place it until I saw a bunch of them at the Fair. We had stopped to get gas in the Natural State. A female sales clerk in the convenience store was urging a male customer to keep trying to win a Razorback keytag for her. The device ate quarters just as fast as a slot machine in Vegas. If the quarters landed just right, they would push prizes and other quarters off the ledge into a drawer. The winnings encouraged the guy to keep playing. He won the keytag and some two-dollar bills, which the sales clerk bought from him.

I think that same store was making an effort to reach out to its Spanish speaking customers but with a Southern twang. A sign directed them to the banyo instead of el baño. Or maybe it was telling us all to go find a bathroom in Banyo, Australia.

At a convenience store in Corbin, Kentucky, I took a picture of some huge cans of energy drinks. Somebody told me that each of those large cans had more caffeine than any one person should consume but that the manufacturers get around it by printing on the label that each can contains two or three servings. As I snapped the photo, a local man pointed to one of the drinks and said "that'll crank your tractor!"

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

fluid ounces

The new Weigel's on Middlebrook Pike was open on Sunday but it wasn't "grand open" yet. My wife and I went there after church intending to buy a gallon of our preferred brand of milk. As I put the jug on the counter, I saw a notice that it would go on sale the next day when the grand opening celebration began. Why pay $3.99 when it would cost $2.99 in 24 hours? I put the milk back in the case. My son could pick up a discounted gallon on his way home from swim team practice on Monday. If we time it right, we should be able to get three gallons before the sale price expires this coming Sunday.

The grand opening flyer also promised discounted gasoline on Wednesday. My wife and I both topped off our tanks today for only $3.69 a gallon. While I was there I picked up another jug of milk too, even though we won't need it until tomorrow. A news photographer from WATE 6 approached several drivers as we filled up. He asked if I would answer a question on camera. To the surprise of absolutely no one, I agreed. My sound bite turned up on the 5:00 p.m. news. As he described the grand opening promotion, Gene Patterson said "Lots of people there taking advantage including a local radio personality from Star 102.1." Thanks Gene!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

where to stick it

Campaign buttons used to be free. When I was a kid, I would occasionally stop by the local Republican and Democratic headquarters to pick up a few pins for my collection. My interest waned as I grew older and came to realize that I would never have a complete set. The buttons I did collect are in a big jar at my mother's house. If I had stuck with it, I might be like Ken Gustafson of Yakima or Graylen Becker of Rochester whose collections got them in their local newspapers. Or like Jordan Wright, who wrote a book about his political memorabilia.

I saw two things at Weigel's that surprised me this morning. One, that campaign buttons and bumper stickers were available for $1.99 each. That's at least $2 more than they're worth. And two, that some candidates who had dropped out were still represented. If I were so inclined, I could have bought a Giuliani or Edwards button or a Huckabee sticker. To prove that these pictures aren't from January, I posed hostage-style with today's News Sentinel.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

too many nogs, not enough time

They were offering samples of egg nog in tiny Dixie cups at Sam's Club today. It was not thick enough or sweet enough for my taste. Instead I stopped off at Weigel's on the way home and bought two small containers of their egg nog, which went directly into my freezer.

This past August, I finally drank the Weigel's egg nog I had frozen in 2005. At four ounces per serving, it took me four days to finish the pint. It still tasted great, which is why I decided to freeze two pints this year. Like two years ago, I wanted to find bottles with an expiration date of 12-25. They only had 12-20, 12-22 and 12-29. I almost didn't buy any. Fortunately I got over my little obsessive moment and bought the 12-29 since it would be freshest.

I know that I will have to watch my calories for the rest of my life. It's tough this time of year because of the abundance of treats to tempt my sweet tooth. I would love to have a scoop of egg nog ice cream at Baskin-Robbins but I'm not sure if I'll get around to it. My starchy dance card has been filled lately with things like the slice of pie I had at the company Christmas party tonight, the piece of cake I had after Tuesday's improv show or the Christmas cookies our family will bake in the week ahead.

Another treat I'm curious to try but probably won't is boiled custard. I'm not exactly sure what it would taste like, although I did find a recipe on a blog that described it as egg nog without the nog. Does that mean it tastes like just egg? I saw some boiled custard at Kroger the other day, alongside some pumpkin egg nog. That's something else I would like to try but I won't buy a half gallon container. I might be tempted to drink the whole thing.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

progress report

A new McDonald's sign was delivered to the Pilot Food Mart last Monday. I went past the location again today and couldn't help but notice the newly naked pole in the sky. This could be good news. It's possible that the entire pole was stripped just to make it easier for the McDonald's sign on top to be switched. However I am now more hopeful that they also plan to replace the gas price sign with one that cannot be seen from space. A clerk inside the Pilot told me that the sign change was due to state regulations. I guess somebody else finally noticed that the sign was too big for a scenic route. I hate to say I told you so, but that's exactly what I said ten months ago.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

step in the right direction

A truck from T and T Signs was parked at a Pilot Food Mart on Middlebrook Pike on Monday. A new McDonald's sign had been placed against the base of the oversized signpost that I griped about wrote about in January. One of the workers from T and T told me that new sign was narrower and shorter than the golden arches atop the massive pole. The reason for the switch? The old McDonald's sign was too big to be along a scenic route. It wasn't the McDonald's sign or the Pilot sign that bothered me, it's the electronic gas price sign that seems too big and too bright.

My wife has been going to Pilot a lot more often to get her diet soda lately. They have been giving away free Grandma's Cookies with the purchase of any fountain drink or coffee. She gets the beverage, our son gets the cookies. One day while enjoying his chocolate chips, he commented that many East Tennesseans pronounce the word Pilot as if the vowels were reversed. Although it looks like it would sound the same the beginning of "politician," they stretch out the first syllable of "Polit" a bit more. Besides, according to my Cas Walker poster, the word is "polytician" around these parts.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

tricks and treat

It was still dark when we drove to church this morning. The odd feeling continued when the bells at All Saints Church didn't chime at the start of the 8:15 Mass. They did ring at 9:15 however. The computer that controls them must have thought that Daylight Saving Time ended last night. In previous years, the last weekend in October is when we experienced "The 25th Hour." This year the time change doesn't come until after Halloween, which should mean more daylight for the trick-or-treaters. While they were changing things, why couldn't they have moved the switch to an early Saturday morning?

Was I hallucinating or did I really see a few minutes of "Mannheim Steamroller's Halloween on Ice" yesterday on NBC? It looked like Nancy Kerrigan skating with Frankenstein's monster and several others. Like a good ghost story, this one turned out to be true.

Before I turned off the TV, I saw the answer to a Mannheim Steamroller trivia question. Did you know that Chip Davis co-created the character of C.W. McCall, best known for the song "Convoy"?

Halloween must be the first of the holidays that Weigel's is celebrating with the annual arrival of their Holiday Egg Nog. This year, the sweet treat showed up in the dairy case of my neighborhood Weigel's on Friday, October 26. It wouldn't bother me one bit if they carried it year round, like at the Wawa store I visited near Richmond.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

the nature of my game

The new Oreo Cakesters looked like something I would enjoy. I spotted them about three weeks ago at a Waldbaum's in Southampton, New York. The temptation was strong but I chose to leave them on the shelf, figuring that I could get some when the product reaches Knoxville. Besides, I wasn't about to be deterred from finding the true object of my supermarket quest.

While in New York, I wanted to buy a box of Drake's Cakes. I chose a box of Reduced Fat Devil Dogs and put it in the freezer when I got home. I haven't eaten one yet. I limit my sweet treats so I don't gain back the weight I lost. I did see a suggestion on the Internet to try eating the Devil Dogs frozen for a cool summer treat.

It was very hot again today. Instead of having a frozen Devil Dog, I decided it was about time to thaw out the egg nog that has been in my freezer since December, 2005. The Christmas staple tastes great in August. It immediately put me in mind of colder weather. More dairy stores should sell it year round.

There was something else I noticed at Waldbaum's. They had Mallow Pizza and Mallow Hot Dogs. I thought this might be my only opportunity to capture these unusual items for my photo food safari. It wasn't. A couple of days after I got home, I saw Mallow Burgers and Mallow Fries at a Kenjo Market in Maryville.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

hi, is Baba there?

Today was a nice Spring day in Richmond. We needed to put ice in our cooler to chill some water and diet soda for the long drive back to Knoxville. The road out of town had several convenience stores that we don't see in Tennessee. 7-Eleven and Sheetz were enticing but we had to try a Wawa, which I had only seen ages ago in Pennsylvania.

I liked that they offered several diet-friendly choices of salads and fresh fruit but it was something fattening that made me glad I had a camera with me. The sign on the glass door said "Wawa Egg Nog available in half gallons, quarts & pints for the holidays." Could it be left over from Christmas? Or were they promoting egg nog for Mother's Day and Memorial Day? The expiration date on both the quarts and the half gallons was May 18th. To prove that I really did find egg nog for sale on April 29th, I posed with a copy of today's Richmond Times-Dispatch. I might have bought some if it weren't for the long car ride ahead of me and if I didn't still still have some egg nog in the freezer at home.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

keeping up with the Haslams

Part of Middlebrook Pike is a "scenic route." I'm not sure exactly what that means but I once heard it had something to do with restricting billboards along the side of the road. Yesterday I used the camera phone to take some pictures along Middlebrook to illustrate a point. There's an older Weigel's store near Vanosdale Road and a newer one at Gallaher View Road. They both have reasonably sized signs to identify their brand and show their gas prices.

A new Pilot Food Mart just opened on Middlebrook Pike at Joe Hinton Road. It has a sign that seems much larger than necessary with brightly lit gas prices that can be seen from quite a distance at night. There's a Pilot along the Interstate with a similar sign.

Middlebrook Pike is changing. At least two small strip malls are in the works. One will be near my favorite BBQ shack and another will be near the new Pilot. Today I spotted some guys with a backhoe starting to remove the sign at the Weigel's near Vanosdale. They told me it will be replaced with one like the sign at the Weigel's down the street. As long as it's nothing like the monstrosity of a sign at the new Pilot.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

don't cry

Retailers can earn a customer's loyalty through excellent products or excellent service or both. Today I had an experience that would fall under the category of "both." We buy our groceries at three or four different stores but we buy our skim milk only at Weigel's. The milk tastes better and costs less there. Plus they offer a punch card that we redeem for a free gallon after every sixteen gallons purchased. Today one of those brand new gallons fell on the kitchen floor and burst open at the seam. Milk spilled everywhere. We had to use beach towels to sop it up.

When I went back to Weigel's to buy a replacement gallon (and a small container of egg nog), I asked the clerk if they had received any complaints about defective milk containers. He didn't know of any but immediately pushed some buttons to void the transaction in the cash register. My replacement milk would be free of charge. The whole experience felt like it came right out of "In Search of Excellence." The clerk working the Sunday evening shift was entrusted to make a customer service decision on the spot. Potential employees are told that Weigel's operating standards are very high. They proved it to me tonight.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

why did Bambi's mother cross the road?

While driving in Virginia last weekend, we noticed a lot of dead deer along the side of I-66. We didn't see any in Tennessee. I wonder if the deer have more room to roam in Tennessee and are therefore less likely to cross the freeway. Or could it be that deer struck in Tennessee are quickly picked up and turned into venison? Yet it was in Virginia, not Tennessee where I spotted Guttin' Gloves for sale at a convenience store just off the Interstate near Front Royal.

Speaking of road kill, Catholic High steamrolled over Gibbs in the first round of the playoffs tonight.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

egg nogs and ringtones

They made me an offer I couldn't refuse. We went to the cell phone store to get a replacement phone for my daughter and somehow ended up getting a new one for me too. They had a buy one get one free deal with rebates that made both phones virtually free (except for the sales tax).

When I took a job in Knoxville, the radio station provided cell phones for me and several other staff members. After the station went belly-up in 2003, I no longer had a phone and have gotten along fine without one since. Before leaving Burbank, I had given my old phone to my wife and my wife gave her old phone to our daughter. A new phone for me would cost only another $10 a month on our family share plan.

I feebly tried to resist the sales pitch but they waived the activation fee since it was the last day of the year and they wanted to meet some sales goal. Then they said would take 50% off whatever accessories I needed. What really closed the deal though was the phone itself. It's got a 1.3 megapixel camera and an mp3 player built in. I caved.

The camera will prove useful for my blog. The first thing I photographed was a sign I saw posted on the door at Weigel's on January 1st.
It's a good thing that I already have some egg nog in the freezer.

As nice as the camera is, I was probably more excited about the mp3 player. I am almost positive the guy at the Verizon store said I could take mp3s from my computer and use them as ringtones. I excitedly took the little mini SD memory card out of the phone, connected it to my laptop and transferred some mp3s that I thought would sound good. I used "Hail to the Redskins," "Ma 'Tit Fille" by Buckwheat Zydeco, the "think music" from "Match Game" 70-something and a few others. I had no trouble listening to my mp3s on the phone but I couldn't figure out how to set them as ringtones. Well, it turns out that it can't be done. I took my son to browse at Best Buy today and noticed that they sold the same model of phone. I asked a salesman about the mp3s and he confirmed that they can't be set as ringtones. How lame! He did say that there was some third party software I could buy for $80 that could convert mp3s to ringtones. I'll pass.

As I type this, I realize I'm getting worked up over ringtones for nothing because:
a) I don't really want anyone to call me and use up my minutes;
b) I plan to leave the phone turned off when I'm at home and
c) I think I'll leave the phone on vibrate when I'm out in public.
Besides, how would I explain why the "Main Street Electrical Parade" theme is blasting from my belt clip?

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Monday, September 26, 2005

invasion of the corn dog army

National Corn Dog Month is almost over and I only found out about it yesterday! Weigel's (a local convenience store) is promoting it heavily as this photo shows:

For some reason, the corn dogs are wearing World War 1 helmets and carrying American flags. They seem to be holding the flags with their little corn tails (I think those are tails). The campaign must be working. The store was sold out when I was there.

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