I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com

A long, long time ago, I was at my local Walmart after work and noticed a t-shirt in the men’s department that looked a lot like a Nazi Death’s Head, a Totenkopf. I took a picture of it with my Motorola Razr flip-phone.

When I got home, I compared the photo I took at Walmart to an image of a Nazi death’s head I found online:

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
The photo I took at my local Walmart.
I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
Nazi death’s head I found online.

You’ll notice they’re almost identical.

I decided to blog about it. I just started this blog and I needed things to write about. After I posted it, I linked it on Digg. Like I said, this was a long, long time ago. The post took off like wildfire infected with weapons-grade syphilis. Evidently, people had a craving for stories involving Walmart and Nazi imagery.

My blog post made the national news

A reporter from The Associated Press contacted me and interviewed me over the phone. I was then interviewed on TV by my local station, then NBC 25, now called Local DMV as in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They also run stories from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They lost their NBC affiliation some time ago. Now they show the news and lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I didn’t want to go on TV. The reporter who arranged the whole thing said if I didn’t agree to come in, she would show up at my front door with a camera crew. I didn’t want the reporter and the camera crew to show up at my door, so I relented. I went to their studio and was interviewed.

The interview appeared not only on NBC 25, but a lot of other places, including CNN. Other news organizations ran articles about it. I remember getting a call from someone at ABC News asking my permission to republish my photo.

I bring this all up because I noticed a lot of visitors coming here to read my old blog post about Walmart selling the t-shirts. It turned out Rollingstone.com published an article on Walmart.com selling “Impeach 45” t-shirts and they mentioned other teachable moments in Walmart’s long history. They included my story about the Nazi Death’s Head t-shirt including a link.

From Rollingstone:

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent CornerIf I had to describe who I am to someone, I would never say I was a Maryland Air Force veteran-turned-blogger. I live in Maryland. I’m an Air Force veteran. I have a blog. The article seems to suggest that I got out of the Air Force so I could move to Maryland and become a blogger. I got out of the Air Force in 1994 and moved to Maryland for a job. My “online journal” didn’t begin until 2006. These two events were in no way connected.

Walmart never removed the t-shirts from their stores

The funniest thing about this whole incident was Walmart promised to remove the t-shirts from their stores. They never did. They kept on selling them like nothing happened. A good many news organizations reported Walmart removed the t-shirts because that’s what they said in their press release. If any of the reporters ever bothered to go to their local Walmart, they would have seen with their own eyes that the t-shirts were still for sale.

My biggest regret is that I never kept a t-shirt as a memento. I bought one, but then Sheri gave it to her brother from Christmas as a gag.

I am not a buff

A reporter from the Miami-Herald wrote an article about it and she described me as a “World War Two buff.” I emailed her and told her I was not a World War Two buff. She argued that I was, otherwise I wouldn’t have known the image’s history. If I was a buff, I think I’d know it.

I have only a passing history in World War Two. I’ve read a few books and I used to play Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader when I was in the Air Force.

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader, a tactical level board game focusing on infantry combat in Europe during World War Two.

Although I played Squad Leader, I also played a lot of Battletech and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was important to me that I not be labeled a World War Two buff because I thought it was insulting to real World War Two buffs, people fully dedicated to the buff lifestyle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this point across to the reporter.

The Internet is funny

I think it’s funny how something I blogged about nearly 12 years ago can still be a thing. It’s also quite hilarious the worst photo I’ve ever taken turned out to be the most widely disseminated and viewed photo I’ve ever taken. I used to be quite into photography and I’ve taken some decent photos over the years. This grainy pic taken with my flip-phone is the most famous.

Walmart helping scalpers gouge customers on the Nintendo 3DS XL

The New Nintendo 3DS XL, a handheld gaming console first released nearly two years ago is still sold out nationwide. The units usually sell for $199.99. Because of the demand and non-availability, third-party “retailers” are selling these units on eBay, Amazon, and even Walmart, at a huge markup.

So if you need to buy a Nintendo 3DS XL, all you have to do is go to Walmart.com and pay $145 above MSRP, and it can be yours.

Walmart is helping scalpers gouge their customers - Bent Corner

The website shows that’s not being sold by Walmart, but by BOS Inc. Who exactly is BOS Inc.? The Walmart site is pretty vague about that. It shows they’re located in the state of Michigan. At least they’re charging Michigan sales tax. It wouldn’t surprise me if BOS Inc. was owned by Walmart.

So not only did Walmart, the largest most powerful retailer in the world, not get enough New Nintendo 3DS XL units to satisfy demand, they’re serving as a conduit for scalpers.

Back in the day, scalpers would prowl the aisles at Walmart on the lookout for high-demand toys and collectibles. They would buy them and then immediately post them on eBay a huge markup. Now, Walmart has made it even easier for scalpers. Instead of making them go to eBay, they’re allowing them to gouge customers right on the Walmart website.

Walmart is helping scalpers gouge their customers - Bent CornerAs soon as Christmas is over, I’m sure all sorts of Nintendo 3DS units will be found everywhere. That’s usually the way it works. With that said, who would pay $345 for a New Nintendo 3DS XL now when they can be found next month for $199? Parents who feel that because of Christmas, they have no choice but to pay too much. Non-custodial divorced parents are especially susceptible to this scam.

Non-custodial divorced parents are already in a vulnerable spot when it comes to their children. The time they get to see their children is usually very limited. In a desperate attempt to remain relevant to their son or daughter, they will often spend way too much money on Christmas, particularly when the other parent is doing the same thing.

It’s sad, and it’s one of the reasons I hate Christmas.  

Bryton Mellott did nothing wrong

Bryton Mellott, 22, of Urbana, Illinois, burned an American flag and posted a photo of the act to his Facebook page. People reacting to the photo sent him death threats and reportedly even made threats against him employer, Walmart.

Police reviewed the photo Mr. Mellott posted on Facebook. They then went to Walmart to investigate the threats and to speak to Mr. Mellott. Because he declined to remove the Facebook post to “deescalate” the situation, the police arrested him.

They used a 2013 Illinois flag desecration law as grounds for the arrest.

Bryson Mellott's mug shot.
Bryson Mellott’s mug shot

Mellott was then released from custody after State’s Attorney Julia Rietz declined to file charges. She questioned the validity of the 2013 Illinois desecration law, pointing out that burning a flag is protected free speech.

Of course it is.

Some people want to treat the flag like an Islamist treats the Quran. If you value the flag than you should value the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment. If you don’t support Mr. Mellott’s right to free speech, even if you find how he expressed himself repulsive than you’ve helped make the flag meaningless.

Personally, I’m not a fan of flag burning. That’s why I choose not to do it. I have an American Flag displayed 24 hours a day in from of my home. I value the American flag because of what it represents.

The police really screwed up. They arrested Mr. Mellott because he would not do what they asked him to do, to remove the image from Facebook. They were wrong to ask him to remove the post and they were wrong to arrest him. They not only arrested him, they even published his personal information online, including his home address. What’s worse than getting online death threats? Having your local police then publish your home address.

My guess is that this will result in a civil rights lawsuit, a lawsuit Mr. Mellott will surely win. Good for him.

If the police were in the mood to arrest anyone, they should have arrested the people making threats against Mr. Mellott and his employer. Those people are the criminals, not Mr. Mellott. That might take some real police work. I guess it’s just easier to arrest some dumb unpatriotic kid working at Walmart.

The Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker

coffeeA couple of weeks ago I bought a Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker. I thought it would be a good idea to augment my Keurig single-serve coffee maker with a good old-fashioned drip maker. Why make coffee one cup at a time if I’m going to be home for a while? It seemed to me to be a good idea to have a coffeemaker that can make a whole pot.

What a stupid idea.

I set my sights on finding a coffeemaker with a simple on and off switch. I didn’t want any type of programing ability. I also wanted one that featured a cone filter, not a round basket filter. I think the cone filters make a stronger cup of coffee. The water passes through more coffee before it drips down to the pot. I also wanted a black coffee maker.

With these points in mind, I went to the coffee maker section at my local Walmart. I bought the Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker, model CM500BD. What a giant mistake.

This is the worst coffee maker I’ve ever owned.

It’s flimsy. It has a removable water reservoir on the back that is just a bit too removable. It also has two opening flaps for pouring water into the reservoir, one on the left and one on the right. Why this is a feature I don’t know. Has anyone ever poured water into a coffee reservoir and thought to themselves, I wish I could pour water in on the opposite side? I don’t think so.

It uses #4 cone filters, but for some inexplicable reason, it also uses the round basket type of filters too. To make this possible, two plastic tabs come down in the basket for the round filter to set on. The problem is, these tabs fall into round basket filter mode every time you remove a filter. This is an unnecessary pain in the ass.

Another unnecessary pain in the ass is the on/off switch.  It doesn’t have an on/off switch. Not really. The Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker is always on and to remind you of this fact, it features a bright blue LED light built into the switch. The light is so bright that it lights up the kitchen at night with an obnoxious blue glow that you cannot turn off. We started placing a dish towel over the switch at night.

What does the on/off switch do if it doesn’t turn it off? When you are making a pot of coffee, you must select how much coffee you want to make. If you want to make two cups, you press the switch once and a small orange light begins flashing. If you want to make four cups, you press the switch twice and a small green light begins flashing. If you want to go hog-wild and make eight cups, you press the switch three times and a red light begins flashing.

I never made anything less than an eight cup pot.

With most coffee makes, the on/off switch not only begins the brew cycle, it also controls the warming pad. With this piece of junk, the on/off switch doesn’t control the warming pad. No, the warming pad turns on and off on its own. I never could figure out when it would turn off. I knew if I didn’t drink my first two cups of coffee in the morning in quick succession, the third cup was going to be lukewarm.

The last straw with the Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker was its inability to make a second pot of coffee. For some reason, when trying to make a second pot of coffee, it would put about only an inch of coffee in the pot. It would then spend the next 20 minutes making percolation noises that sounded a lot like two pigeons engaged in raucous love-making.

I threw this awful coffee maker away yesterday and went to Sam’s Club and bought a 100-count box of Caribou Coffee Blend K-Cups for $43.

Take my advice and stay away from any coffee maker made by Black & Decker.

Amazon to start charging Maryland sales tax

If you live in the state of Maryland and purchase something from Amazon, an extra six percent will be added to your purchase price and funneled to Maryland in the form of a sales tax. This change goes into effect beginning today.

Until now, Amazon did not collect Maryland sales tax because they did not have a physical presence in the state. That’s about to change. Amazon is in the process of converting an old General Motors plant in Baltimore into one of its massive distribution centers. The new facility is not scheduled to open until next spring, but they will start collecting Maryland sales tax from Maryland residents beginning today.

I wonder how much taxes Amazon is paying to state and local governments for its new facility in Baltimore. Usually, when a business like Amazon comes into a location, it’s showered with tax incentives intended to attract them into establishing a presence. The idea is that they will hire lots of people who will then in turn pay taxes and spend their paychecks, thus stimulating the economy.

When I moved here to Maryland in 1994, twenty years ago, it was to work in a new gigantic Wal-Mart photo finishing lab that was being constructed in nearby Williamsport. The state and county essentially gave the land to Wal-Mart to build the facility. They also provided tax incentives for the next twenty years. After a few years, Wal-Mart sold all their large photo labs to Fujicolor. The lab closed in 2008, resulting in 125 people losing their job.

Personally I hate that I will now have to pay Maryland six percent of everything I buy from Amazon. I feel like they’ve done nothing to deserve it. I also feel like I pay Maryland enough without having to also pay a tax for the stuff I buy from Amazon. Oh well, what can I do about it, join the TEA Party?

Gre Hernandez

I don’t think so. I’d rather just pay the stupid six percent tax.

Fujicolor to close Maryland facility

Fujicolor Processing has announced that they will be closing their Williamsport, Maryland plant on March 12. The Williamsport facility processes film for Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and other retail stores that operate in the Northeast. The facility currently has around 125 employees who will now be out a job.

I used to work at the Williamsport facility. In fact, it’s the reason I am living here in Maryland. I was hired as a repair technician shortly after leaving the Air Force. I didn’t know anything about photofinishing equipment. They were looking for ex-military people with an electronics background. When operators had a problem with their photofinishing equipment, they would call for a service tech. One of us would show up with our tools and try to get the problem fixed as soon as possible.

It could get very hectic at times. It was very much a high-production environment. It wasn’t the greatest job I ever had, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. The photofinishing equipment broke down constantly. Most of the problems were mechanical in nature. Very rarely did a piece of photofinishing equipment have something wrong with it that had to do with it’s electronics.

It wasn’t all bad. That’s were I met my wife Sheri. She operated a machine called a splicer that constantly broke down. I found myself looking forward to when her splicer acting up. She would sit and talk to me while I worked on it. Once I got it working again, I would hang around just to make sure it was working. That of course was just an excuse to talk to her.

You would not believe how perverted people can be. Seeing many of the pictures developed from the film people turned into their local Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club for 2-day processing gave me a clear understanding of just how nasty some people can be. Take it from me, if a guy is going to take photos of himself with a long stemmed rose inserted in this rectum, chances are he’s not going to go for the one-hour film processing. He’s going to drop his order in the box and come back in two days.

I guess I’m not surprised the facility is being shut down. Who uses film cameras?