Top Posts Of The Week And Open Thread

Passenger Of Size Allegedly Has Picture Taken By Flight Attendant
Judge Tells Debt Collection Firm To Pay Stranger $115 For Dragging Him To Court
Let This Flowchart Tell You Which Chain Restaurant To Visit Next
Why A Live Twitter Feed On Your Billboard Might Not Work Out
Target Calls Cops On Breastfeeding Shoppers

Happy Friday! Welcome to Open Thread, where Consumerist commenters talk about whatever’s on their minds. And post pet pictures.


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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Yay! Open thread! What’s everyone doing this weekend? Hope you’ve got plans..if not, you can probably use the chain restaurant flow chart to figure out where you want to eat.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      Mostly hanging out with friends on Saturday, and then a production meeting on Sunday. Also decorating the tree at my parent’s house somewhere in there. It’s going to be a busy season. >_

    • Keep talking...I'm listening says:

      Hopefully raking the leaves for the last time this year. Then off to my favorite bar to watch some football, enjoy some adult beverages and surf the internet on the old lappy.

      • DangerMouth says:

        argh, my next door neighbor is mowing the lawn AGAIN. It’s December, it’s Connecticut, STEP AWAY FROM THE LAWNMOWER before I go lawnmower on your ass!

        That’s all.

    • lucky929 says:

      Daddy’s birthday means Japanese food!

      Then baking cookies with my friends tomorrow/ Well, they bake, I sit around and drink. Hooray!

    • subtlefrog says:

      Well, i’ll be working on the dissertation, of course…but also seeing Nick Brendon in David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries! Very excited about this.

      I’m also considering taking a day off and going hiking on Sunday if it’s going to be nice out. I’ve been cooped up far too long.

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      Tonight, I am going with some new friends to watch “The Room” in Nashville – midnight showing.
      In case you havent heard of it, The Room is like a cult classic. Jury is still out whether it is a “so bad it’s good” or is it that way by design. But it is hilarious. And the audience participates a LOT.
      One of us even bought plastic spoons at costco so we could throw them at the screen. It literally RAINS spoons. Promises to be a riot.

      Plan to do some shopping tomorrow. Last time I bought clothes was when I had put on some extra pounds. Now I have shed those, and some trousers look really weird. They’d look especially stupid during dates. So I need to buy some new ones.

      There might be a salsa workshop on Sunday.

      And full seasons of Numb3rs and Dexter are on netflix streaming. My Roku box will be busy this weekend.

    • theblackdog says:

      Seeing Rob Zombie this weekend :-D

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Sleeping. Sleeping Sleeping.

    • rickhamilton620 says:

      Studying, Hurray!

  2. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    If I want to get an external hard drive, to back up my husband’s ginormo photos, what’s a good kind to get that’s easy to use? I have one for backup but it uses this backup-only software that annoys the crap out of me because it only works a particular way and it won’t let you load it back on to a different computer (at least in no way I could discover) which was useless when my computer died. I’d like to just be able to drag and drop things onto it and off of it, if you know what I mean.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I have a LaCie that I really like. I bought it at the Apple Store and was probably overcharged, but I needed it on short notice.

    • Raekwon says:

      I’ve used LaCie and Western Digital ones with no problem. I also had a crappy off brand one that worked great because it was just a Seagate drive in a generic enclosure.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Staples had a nice Seagate 1TB drive on sale for $69 on BF. I bought it and like it so far. As for backup programs, surf over to Lifehacker and see what the best app they recommend is. If you use a nice external/internal drive just for backup, and a pretty slim program, you won’t even notice backups. I just encrypted my backup drive, and re-backed up my HDDs over the past two days. It was one day to two way encrypt and another to re-back up almost a TB of movies and music.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I have a pretty old Western Digital that’s gone through a few moves and is still working perfectly.

      If you want, go to the Personal Tech Q&A on Washington Post that’s going on right now, and ask your question to the technology columnist. He’s given some pretty reliable answers in the past, I think. I’ve never asked a question, though.

    • treimel says:

      I have to join the LeCie chorus–my WD didn’t last well.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      I had an external USB hard drive years ago that I used to back up some things but like any hard drive it eventually died. That kind of bugged me as a long term solution so now I use an external DVD writer and keep multiple DVD copies of my photos. I use the re-writable DVDs for easy updates. I’ve also taken it with me over to relatives to back up their photos too.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I have 2 commercial and one homemade externals… different drives for different purposes. If you need portability, look for one that’s USB-powered so you don’t have to lug another power brick (that’s the one I keep in my computer bag and use for my Mini9 hackintosh and other portable uses.) Then there’s a big WD mybook for backup of my work machines, and the home-built (big hard drive in an external USB enclosure) for my personal backups. The homebuilt has crappy thermal properties, I don’t leave it running when I’m not actively using it. My partner is using my old 160GB Iomega to backup his tablet at the end of each class module or clinical rotation (because that’s generally when I hassle him about backups…)

    • gamerchick02 says:

      Sorry to parrot the WD supporters, but I have a 160 gig WD Passport (blue) that seems to be holding out just fine. It just sits on my desk. I just Back In Time (Ubuntu) for backups and a manual copy n paste for immediate backups.

      Mission-critical stuff (think multiple backups) I use google docs and dropbox for.

      Good luck

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      i had a WD MyBook for 2 years, then the circuit board in the enclosure gave out. dropped the WD drive in a new enclosure from newegg, no problems. also have a terabyte seagate freeagent i bought from “The New Circuit City” that seems to work fine, came with some nice synchronization software. iirc, though, it doesn’t play nice with vista, though.

  3. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    How are people doing with their holiday shopping and what’s the most unique gift you’ve gotten someone (or are getting them) this year?

    I feel some holiday cheer setting in since we had our first snow last night. :D

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Snow! We’re expecting a slight dusting tomorrow, I think. I want to do really unique gifts all the time, but it seems that there’s a disconnect between unique and usable. Most of the gifts I’m giving are books and clothes because people really wanted books and clothes, and they’re things they will use. I actually did take your suggestion though, and I am making cookbooks for everyone in the family! I’m not sure what publishing software I’ll be using, or whether I want to do it by hand.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      Well, a friend of mine has an old concert t-shirt that he refuses to get rid of, despite it no longer fitting him (he ain’t 16 anymore). So, it hangs in the back of the closet – not forgotten, but not exactly noticed. So, I’ve gotten his wife to smuggle it to me, and I’m framing it for him. Since it’s not in the best of shape, I’m actually framing it in a shadow-box with some foam behind, so just the design part of the shirt shows.
      And yeah, we got the white stuff last night too – I was doing the traditional Dance of Joy.
      What about you? What’s the most unique gift you’re getting someone?

    • katia802 says:

      So far, I’ve gotten my husband a plastic owl. Does that cound as unusual?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Does a king-sized bed qualify as a strange gift? We’re trying to be all about practical gifts while we’re doing the one-income+med-school-expenses thing, so we decided that was what we really wanted. So, we’re each getting the other half of a bigger bed. ;)

    • Keep talking...I'm listening says:

      My parents will be joining the rest of us with modern technology this Christmas. I bought them an LCD HDTV. Their old 27″ console finally died after 24 years of service.

      • calquist says:

        I’d like to do this for my parents too, but their 90’s entertainment center only fits up to 27″

    • lucky929 says:

      Star Trek bottle opener shaped like the enterprise for HeteroLifePartner’s 21st birthday right around Christmas.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      mostly done with mine. had to make a trip to viriginia so i got some heirloom vegetable seeds and some tulip bulbs on fall clearance at the monticello gift shop [when they say heirloom, they mean descendants of the original plants, still grown and harvested on the monticello farm today]

      small decorative things for my mom that she likes, travel stuff for my dad that he has trouble finding.
      took some unemployed friends food shopping for their holiday presents and then just one other friend has decided he wants me to find him some “interesting socks” – that’s the last thing i have to find. and i have no idea what he thinks would be interesting in the realm of socks

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      We got the baby a baby mp3 player (a SweetPea3, i think it’s called) since he loves listening to music and can now push buttons with some reliability. Going to load it up with Sousa marches and Electronica, which are his two favorite things, I assume because of the very strong rhythmic properties they share.

      I got my husband Legos. Because I am awesome like that. :)

    • theblackdog says:

      I found an older set of MarbleWorks on Ebay and am giving that to my brother for Christmas.

      For those who don’t know what they were (or called them by another name)

      The set is still sold today online, but I got way more pieces for less money going on Ebay.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Online. I got my Aunt and Uncle the star trek perfume/cologne, sort of as a gag gift but it ended up being $60 for the set O_o I hope they like it.

    • Alter_ego says:

      I got my step dad a remote controlled floating drink and snake boat thingy, so he can sit in the pool, and doesn’t have to swim to the edge to drink his scotch

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I’ve done most of my shopping on Etsy, and not only because I like the gifts — I have a show coming up soon and am on strict no-going-out policy to keep busy (alas. . .the internet!).

      So far I’ve bought perfume for friends from and , jewelry from and caramels from — some of which were for me, I admit! Those pumpkin pie caramels are the *best*.

  4. CompyPaq says:

    Did anyone else notice that the comments were displaying newest to oldest for a few days?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Yes. I have inquired about giving us an option, because I enjoy living in the past.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      They still display that way within replies. It’s quite disconcerting.

    • ovalseven says:

      Yes, and I came into the open tread just to bark about it. It’s a PITA to read the comments from the bottom to top, and difficult to tell who’s replying to what.

  5. Smashville says:

    I would just like to take this time to say that it’s good to be back among the Consumeristas.

    I was not a fan of my exile.

  6. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    Woo hoo, open thread (and early, too)!
    Anybody have anything fun this weekend? I’m going to try my hand at making homemade sugar scrub (hopefully for holiday gift-giving). Wish me luck.

  7. OmniZero says:

    Any hockey fans on this site? If so, post your team!

    Let’s go Buffalo.

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    Hat’s off to all the hard work behind the scenes that the Consumerist Crew did for the site upgrade!
    Hope everyone has a great weekend!

    • DangerMouth says:


      After the dust settled, I find the automatic login working flawlessly.

      I occasionally get threads with no ‘expand all’ option, but fewer as the days go by. (a permanent ‘expand all’ option would be awesome, hint, hint)

      Going all the way to the begining of the comments is less than awesome :~(

  9. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Have y’all noticed how pitiful the CVS “use your own bag” program is? I wrote about it here. It ain’t easy being green…

  10. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    No pet pictures yet? Really?

  11. katia802 says:

    As I mentioned in the beer thread, next week is our Yule feast. I’ll be spending the weekend tearing the entire house apart and putting it back together again. Lol, some people do spring cleaning, I do Yule cleaning. If I ever get rich, (or even financially secure) first thing I’m going to do is hire someone to clean for me!

  12. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:


    Everyone is freaking out here in Houston. So much so that as soon as I walked in the door at work, my boss says, “Hey, I tried to call you and I left you a message saying not to come in today. Can you call someone to come and pick you up?” (I don’t drive)

    So now I’m home. I’m a bit annoyed but there was nothing I could do about it.. and I guess I’ll be glad to be home if it really does get as bad as they say it will. It’s snowing and people are FREAKING OUT about driving in it.

    It’s not snowing good in my area yet.. but in another area they’re saying they have snow flakes the size of quarters. Look up some local weather for us and you will see the insanity. is usually pretty accurate.

    Anyway.. I’m home and I guess I’ll make bread today (I returned the machine I had before and now I ordered a different one on Amazon. Thanks to the Prime trial I have it already. So we shall see what happens!)

    I have no plans at all for this weekend. Mr. Aroo is going to be at the Christmas recital at the music school I used to work at, and he teaches at. I’m not going because of the way they treated me with “no longer needing my services”.. The boss never actually called to tell me that I was essentially fired.. but oh well.. that is a whole nother story.

    GitEmSteveDave told me a good trick to play on a cat involving a cellphone, so I might be posting a video on youtube later.. Heheheh.. I will let you know when and where!

    Have fun in the snow fellow Houstonians! (How stupid is THAT word?! I cringe whenever I hear it!)

    • GearheadGeek says:

      It is generally best in Texas to avoid the roads when freezing precipitation occurs. Our fellow Texans are frighteningly unskilled at driving in favorable conditions and it goes RAPIDLY downhill when things get icy. I learned this years ago, and I get reminded of it nearly every winter. *I* can get the car to go where I need it to, but the other idiots out playing bumper-cars make it worth staying home.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        I do understand that, but it’s not supposed to freeze until 3pm, and I get off at 1:30.. So it seemed a little extreme. But oh well. I get some extra free time today.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      I just missed it. Flew down two weeks ago and drove the coast from South Padre to Galveston staying a few days here and there. I lived in League City for two years about a decade ago while I worked for a NASA contractor. I’m amazed at how much things have changed in that area.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I LOVED that about living in the South. There’d be some VERY COLD RAIN and they’d close everything and cancel school. When the mercury dropped below 40*, they’d start giving tips on how to survive in the extreme cold and how to bundle up your child for the bus stop so they don’t get frostbite. I adored it.

    • Alter_ego says:

      The snow in Houston is pissing me off, because I’m from Boston, and it was 70 here yesterday. I moved to New England specifically for the cold weather, and this is what I get?

    • Trai_Dep says:

      You’re Houstonian, so you get a pass, but for every Texan outside your ZIP, I have a mental picture of everyone armed to the teeth, blasting the HELL out of the falling snowflakes to make it go away.
      …Yeah, I guess Friday goofiness has begun to creep into my soul.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Houston has a LOT of ZIP codes, and in most of them you’re as likely to find gun-totin’ crazies as you are in the little town where I grew up “behind the Pine Curtain” in the NE Texas Piney Woods. Austin isn’t so gun-crazy, but there are people in my partner’s med school class with concealed-carry permits who carry most of the time. Craziness.

    • Syncop8d1 says:

      I’m down in Alvin and had snow as well. They even let school out just before noon. None of the snow “stuck” here, however. It was still fun. The last 2 times it snowed down here, I was in Arizona visiting my parents. It was nice to actually witness snow in the Houston area first-hand.

  13. diasdiem says:

    On the other side of that box are the words “Time Machine” and “Transmogrifier.”

  14. lucky929 says:

    I am twenty-two and I want a box big enough to play in. I’m jealous of that cat.

  15. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    finally got my insulin pump IR reader to work on the new laptops we got at work, still can’t make it work at home because there are no drivers for infrared dongles in vista [unless anyone here knows of any?]

    this weekend will be ripping up the finally mostly dead grass in my yard
    replacing a sink trap
    [that was unexpected!]

    and probably more playing the ikea planner tools to decide how i am going to spend my homebuyers tax credit in the spring to buy some actual furniture that’s new and not just ‘new to me’ for my empty rooms

  16. MostlyHarmless says:

    The crossed out “tank” on the box replaced with “plane” reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes. I’ll have to dig out my archives again. And this is probably a good time to buy the next book in the collection using that 15% off B&N coupon.

  17. JulesNoctambule says:

    That looks so much like my cat I did an actual double-take!

    I have a show on the 19th, have misplaced my X-Acto knife (vital for map pendants) and am rapidly reaching the point of non-creativity even though I only have a quarter of the inventory I need. Damn it.

  18. Paladin_11 says:

    So, yesterday I ride home from work, park my motorcycle in the garage and start pulling off my riding gear. Stepping into the entry way I can’t quite figure out why there’s broken glass everywhere. But it becomes apparent when I step into the bedroom next to entry way to see the smashed window and the contents of an armoire strewn about the room. My first residential burglary. (as a victim that is…) Joy!

    I’m not so upset by losing things (so far I’m up to about $3000 on the tally) as I am about what the thieves might use some of those things for. A number of weapons were taken, some inside of locked cases, some from cases that had been broken open. Given the recent police killings in this area I’m just absolutely sick about that.

    Yes, today is one of those days where I despise all humans. If I were given the power I would reduce the human infestation on this planet by 15/16ths. Then dump the rest of them in Greenland and leave them to fend for themselves.

    • DangerMouth says:

      that’s horrible, I hope the weekend is a little better for you :(

      • Paladin_11 says:

        Boards cover the broken windows and it’s the coldest weekend of the year so far. But on the whole I’m sure it will be a fine weekend.

        I’m going to miss my banjo though. That’s the one thing that can’t be easily replaced. I made a lot of fine memories with it…

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      I seriously feel for you. I had my first burglary almost exactly two years ago and also lost about $3000.

  19. Rena says:

    Oi, this comment system is getting to be a bother.

    I see the comment box as I’m scrolling through the comments, before the page has fully loaded, but when I scroll back up to post, it’s been replaced by a “sign in to comment” link.

    For some reason, the link is using Javascript to redirect me to another page, instead of simply being a normal link. This is a major web design no-no: it gets right in the way if you want to open the link in another tab, or copy its location, or you have Javascript turned off, or you’re using a screen reader that doesn’t do Javascript. Worse, somehow it manages to prevent the redirect going into Firefox’s history, which means I can’t hit Back to go back to the page I was at.

    When I try to log in I find my password’s mysteriously been changed. Consumerist is one of the few sites I sometimes comment on from school computers, which means I use a password I can easily remember. When the comment system was redone I kept that same password and used it successfully a few more times, but today it stopped working and I had to have it changed.

    Then, when I finally thought I’d resolved the issue, I reload the tab I wanted to comment in, and again, there’s the comment box… but when the page finishes loading, it switches to “sign in to comment.” Gah! (That’d be even more annoying if I’d already started writing…) Fortunately this time all I have to do is click the link, and this time the fancy script just re-opens the textbox. Why did it close up in the first place, then?

    I’ve never been fond of the whole “register to post” thing – email verification and a good CAPTCHA generally do well enough to keep spam out – but I don’t usually have this much trouble even after having registered.

    • stranger than fiction says:

      Yeah, I’ve had to reset my password repeatedly too. It’s getting to be a pain. The reset emails aren’t exactly instantaneous, and then the link is only good for so long — so basically I have to sit here and wait for the darn thing to show up so it doesn’t expire by the time I get back to my email.

      Do you store your password in your browser anywhere? One of the times I had to reset, that was the problem — my browser had stored both the random reset password and my chosen password, but in such a way that it defaulted to the random password without an option to choose the other one. (Don’t feel bad if that doesn’t make sense, it took me a while to decipher and I was looking right at it!)

      ARGH… tried to preview in mid-comment and it wouldn’t let me make any more changes — text in the box DISAPPEARED whenever I tried to click in it! Then canceling railroaded me back to the top of page 1. GRRR. So apologies if there are any errors or weirdness in this post, but I’m not trying to preview again!

  20. dragonfire81 says:

    I debated starting a political discussion on consumerist, but then I thought a good debate is a good debate.

    So with that said I’m wondering if any of you are familiar with Glenn Beck’s 9/12 project and if so, how you feel about it? I went to a meeting of the local 9/12 group last week and it was interesting to say the least. I’m still not sure how I feel about it nor do I know for certain if I will attend again.