Pet Products for the Rich and Insane

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Hair Balls loves animals. Loooves 'em. We also love crazy animal people. But we are not above mocking them, when appropriate. And there is perhaps no greater mocking-rich demographic than folks who spend outrageous amounts of moolah on pet products. Clearly, there are more than a few pets out there who have it pretty dang good.

Mexican Hacienda Luxury Dog Mansion

If you didn't spend at least four figures on your dog's outdoor abode, you are cruel and inhumane. The Classy Dog's line of luxury mansions are custom-built, and may include framed art, running water, and air-conditioning. Highlight: "Each mini-mansion comes standard with an elegant entrance way and spacious interior with wallpaper options for dogs or cats." The costs can rack up, though -- the hacienda in the photo cost $17,000. But we're guessing it has pretty awesome wallpaper.

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Feel Like Cracking Down on A-Holes Who Torture Show Horses?

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New bill would end self-regulation in show horse industry.
The Texas chapter of the Humane Society of the United States is joining in the push to pass federal legislation that would help enforce the ban against "soring" -- hurting show horses to exaggerate a high-stepping gait.

The barbaric practice, which we'll describe in a moment, was barred by legislation in 1970 -- but in 1976, the law was amended to allow for industry self-regulation. Which, as we all know, is the most effective kind of regulation. The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act would allow USDA-assigned inspectors to conduct spot inspections and ban certain pain-inducing devices from being used on horses that have already been sored.

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Warning to Owners of Recalled GM Vehicles in Houston

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Courtesy Senate Democrats Media Center
GM CEO Mary Barra gets ready to testify about saving a buck a car while victims' loved ones look on.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra has had a rough few days. She's been subject to intense grilling from House and Senate inquiries regarding GM's actions, or lack thereof, leading to the recall of 2.53 million vehicles with ignition switch problems. As USA Today reported, "thirteen deaths and 32 crashes have been linked to the defect."

The car maker did not replace these faulty switches because "it would have added about a dollar to the cost of each car, according to an internal GM document provided to U.S. congressional investigators," Reuters reports. And who could blame them? When you crank out millions of cars, that extra buck adds up.

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Maybe You Thought Tour de Houston Was Free Because of Twitter, Facebook Gaffe

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Photo by John Trefethen
Only riders for corporate sponsors could use a Tour de Houston registration code.
On Monday, February 17, I started to see several posts on Facebook and Twitter sharing a coupon code for registration for the Tour de Houston. "Register for free," the posts said. "Code expires at midnight."

Between 600 and 700 people used that free code to register for the ride. The only problem? The code was leaked.

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Wanna Buy Pork-Coated Bullets in Case You're Attacked by a Terrorist?

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The perfect gift for the knuckle-dragging dipshit in your life.
Texas is renowned as a gun-lover's paradise, and firearm enthusiasts in Houston are fortunate to have a vast array of gun shops to choose from -- but unfortunately, if you want pork-laced ammunition to fend off a crazed jihadist, you'll have to order it from the clear-minded, level-headed folks at the Idaho-based

An alert Hair Balls reader sent us the link, and at first we thought it was a joke. But no, the company sells "pork infused ballistic coating" that's "endorsed by Uncle Ham." The thinking (if it can be called that) is that shooting a terrorist with this ammo "will prevent their attaining entrance into heaven."

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One Worker Dead and Another Injured Is Worth a $63,000 Citation, OSHA says

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OSHA isn't amused.

How much is a death on the job worth to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration? It's valued at precisely $63,000, judging by the citation issued by OSHA to the Municipal District Services LLC in Cypress, Texas.

In December 2013, company workers were trying to repair a water main. The company excavated a trench through a concrete road that was 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet deep. A pair of workers entered the unprotected trench to clean up and cut a broken pipe, according to a release issued by OSHA. After five to 10 minutes inside the trench, the south wall of the excavation caved in.

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UPDATED: Blue Cross Blue Shield's Obamacare Fail Continues

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Screengrab via Facebook
Customer frustrations with Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield aired on its Facebook page.

UPDATED: Louis Adams, the media director for the Dallas branch of Blue Cross Blue Shield, got back to us with a statement via email on Monday morning:

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas understands our members' frustration as they call our customer service line, which has experienced high volume and long wait times. We are working hard to support our new and existing members by adding call center representatives and extending our call center hours to 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Friday and 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday. Our website is prepared to handle very high amounts of traffic for new enrollments and customer service requests. Members can visit the BCBSTX website ( to find answers to frequently asked questions. We know that our members' time is valuable and we are working very hard to deliver the level of customer service they have come to expect from us."

To translate, they are extending the call center hours -- though we can't help but wonder why it took so long -- and if you have a question basic enough to be answered by the frequently asked questions part of the site, you can go there and avoid the whole call center debacle entirely. Otherwise, if you're still wanting for real communication with someone from Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield, it seems that patience is a virtue you had best develop quick.

ORIGINAL POST: If you have Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield, the odds are good you have sat on the phone enjoying their hold music recently.

Cat Jeanes, of Austin, has definitely gotten an earful of that happy snappy guitar that plays on the automated system, and she isn't alone, judging by the other complaints surfacing on social media.

Jeanes is having her first baby any day now. She's 37 weeks along, she and her husband know it's going to be a boy. They have a name all picked out - Indiana Jeanes. "He's going to have his own theme music," she said.

And since she and her husband are self-employed - he's in real estate and she quit her public relations gig when they started a family - they buy their own health insurance. They were already with Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield, but the plan they were on didn't provide any maternity care, so when the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) got started they went online and changed their plan.

Like Fred Rhodes, a Houston lawyer who first brought the issues with Blue Cross Blue Shield to our attention on Wednesday, Jeanes and her husband paid the premium, got their new insurance cards and started doing all the things you do when you're about to have a baby - namely going to the doctor and picking up prescriptions.

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Obamacare Is Moving Along, But One Guy Says He's Paying for Insurance He's Not Getting

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Blue Cross Blue Shield

Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield has lovely hold music. Just ask Fred Rhodes. He and his wife have taken turns listening to it since they found out that, despite having enrolled and paid for their new health insurance in December, they still aren't in the system.

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, Rhodes -- a Houston lawyer who runs an independent practice and thus has to buy health insurance -- went on and signed up for a plan on December 21. He paid the premium on December 27 and got new insurance cards for himself and his wife right around the first of the year, he said.

Then his wife tried to get a flu shot from the Randall's pharmacy last week and was told by the pharmacist she wasn't showing up in the Blue Cross Blue Shield system. Rhodes tried to fill a prescription on Monday at a different pharmacy and was told the same thing. "I thought I knew how to do this, but obviously I was wrong," he said.

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Before Saying "I Do," Listen to Your Gut Feelings, New Research Shows

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Photo by CrucifiedChrist
Don't be Distracted Just Because It's Pretty

The Holiday season has come and gone, but many people made a big decision over the past couple weeks: they got engaged. The couple, presumably, is happy. The respective families, again, presumably, are happy to have a new addition to their family. The DeBeers cartel is happy and laughing all the way to the bank.

But we know that if historical trends hold, 4 or 5 out of 10 of these engaged couples will eventually get divorced. Is there any way to tell if you or the happy couple you know is destined for failure? According to some new research, yes, and the short answer is to trust your gut.

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Rockets Power Dominatrixes? Dance Squad's Calendar Promo Photo Suggests a Skintight, Air-Brushed 2014

Obviously, click for larger image.
NBA dance teams have always been more provocative than their counterpart cheerleaders in the NFL. This is partly because they are, after all, dancers, and their moves on the floor tend to go beyond just shaking their pom poms...ahem.

Still, there have been times when even I was tempted to cover the eyes of small children sitting near me when the RPD (Rockets Power Dancers) pulled out the Catholic school girl uniforms or the Daisy Dukes. I didn't close my eyes, obviously, because I'm a reporter and I have to inform the public on such things you see.

This week, the Rockets released a promo photo for the Power Dancers 2014 seen to the right and it's, well, interesting.

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