Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Travel

Well, end of month and end of quarter so I had to go home to Dallas this weekend and do my quarterly filings and all my normal bills.

So here are some travel rants…

First off Southwest Airlines…
(sorry Tammy) I used to fly American and I used to book my travel. Orbitz has this really cool program where you key in your cell number and they will send you updates about your flight. About 2 hours before departure time they call you and tell you the flight status and the gate number. Then if anything changes they keep calling you to keep you posted. It’s an awesome program! I have been sitting at a gate before waiting for my flight to show up and I get a phone call telling me the gate change 5 minutes before the gate agent came on the intercom and announced it. Super cool!

When American quit flying my route I switched to Southwest. They do not allow booking through Orbitz. You can only use the Southwest site. So I no longer get notifications of issues.

I was little late getting out of work Friday so I was stressing to get to the airport on time and only after I stress my way through security do I find out my flight is going to be an hour late. All that stress just wasted! I could have put that stress to good use on something else and now it's just gone!

Later on the board changed and showed the flight two hours late. Then later the board changed and showed it 2 ½ hours late. During this time the bored looking gate agent did not make a single announcement. I only found out the new status when the plane did not show up and I walked over to the boards again. Grrrrrr.

Once we were seated on the plane the pilot announced that they had gotten behind earlier in the day due to the storms in the Midwest Friday and they had been trying to catch up for hours. Fair enough, I was watching that system on radar Friday and that flight crew did the right thing not trying to land in that mess. Good job. Also another high five to the flight crew for letting us know why we were all so late.

It sure would have been nice if the gate agent had done that about 2 hours ago.

Here is my question though. Since they had gotten behind schedule earlier in the day why didn’t the boards reflect the arrival time more accurately? Why keep putting us through the exercise of "it will be here shortly" only to delay it again? Very frustrating. If you are hungry and someone tells you dinner is in 3 hours then you deal with it. But if they tell you dinner is going to be ready in an hour then an hour later you go, "KIDDING! It's still an hour away!" Then again in an hour you go KIDDING! Only to do it again people start getting ticked off! Just tell me its going to be two or three hours out in the first place and quit teasing me!

For those of you with no knowledge of airline operations, rest assured Dispatch knows exactly where every plane is at all times. The company knew that plane was 2.5 hours behind; they simply chose not to notify us customers.

Hulk want smash! :)

Now a small rant for airport management…
What is the deal with airport TV’s? OK, airport management, here is a real brain flash for you… if you are going to invest the money in hanging TV’s from the ceiling and then buying cable or satellite for them then you know, what the hell, turn the volume up so we can actually HEAR the TV. I mean what a concept, moving pictures AND sound! Whoa, way too high tech I guess?

And hey, when did they pass that law that every single TV in the airport MUST be tuned to CNN?

Oh, while I am on that topic how about a quick rant about CNN?

For two hours Friday while I waited for my plane all CNN talked about was the big Hillary and Obama unity festival. They talked about how they were dressed, how his tie matched her pant suit, how they were seated in relation to each other and what it all meant. I do not mean commented in passing, I mean IN DEPTH analyses of what it meant that his tie matched her pant suit!

This is *news*? This was just "Entertainment Tonight" only with politicians instead of celebrities. (a fine line there I know)

Then the Larry King show started so I thought cool, maybe something interesting will come on now. Nope, just more of the same; Still it did get interesting though, Larry King brought in two body language experts who deconstructed Obama and Hillary’s body language during their respective speeches. It was like John Madden football with the clicker, they would freeze frame and analyze hand gestures, facial expressions and body postures and compare them to the words spoken. After maybe 20 minutes of this both experts concluded that they were both being deceptive. They probably did not really like each other at all in spite of the verbal love fest.

What? WHAT? Politicians telling bold faced lies? On TV? In front of their supporters?

I. Am. Shocked!

Thank you Larry King for bringing this ground breaking never before known news to the airwaves! I never even suspected career politicians could be dishonest before. I am still just a little shell shocked at this glowing insight but I think I will be a better person for it in the long run so thank you Larry King!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Want a New Drug!?

The headline says, "Scientists find childbirth wonder drug that can 'cure' shyness"

I was like huh? Other than the childbirth part I think that drug is alcohol and it was discovered thousands of years ago - so I was quite confused.

Still, it is a interesting article so you might give it a read.

A hormone released during both orgasm and childbirth. Yeah, I can see how that could work! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008


Why do hotels put your key card in a little sleeve?

You check in, you grab your luggage, walk down the hall to your room then you have to juggle your luggage, remember which pocket you put the key card in then with one hand try to get the key card out of the sleeve. Grrrrrr.

I mean I guess the sleeve is handy for writing your room number on but really? How many people forget their room number from the front desk to the room? How many people have to fumble one handed with the stupid sleeve? I bet the fumblers outweigh the forgetters by 10 to one.

I think they should stop favoring the forgetters and give us fumblers the break! :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Motivational" Posters

Someone sent me a whole bunch of these Motivational Poster parodies. According to my warped sense of humor here is the cream of the crop...
(Click any picture to embiggen)

(The misspelling of "butt" defeated the joke for me for a bit)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ok, Blatant Show Off Post! :)

I thought I would go ahead and just call me on it before Beth did! :)

I bought a boat.

I had been internally debating this for nearly two months but last week I went ahead and pulled the trigger. So after two months of changing my mind almost daily Crazymomma actually talked me into it, she said "Life is short, eat desert first!"

That did it.

The good news is that while I was trying to make up my mind the seller dropped the price by 30%. Woot!

For those of you who know the lingo it's a Regal Valanti 225S. A 22 foot cuddy with a MerCruiser 350 inboard-outboard engine (270 HP).

Here is a picture of it while it was still "for sale" with my SUV parked in front of it just to give you a sense of scale...

Between the front seats is a door with two steps down into the Cabin. I KEEP hitting my head on that piece of wood across the top of the door though! :( There is a double bed up in the bow. In this shot you can see a tow-able inner tube people can ride sitting on the bed.

Once you are in the cabin to the right is a bathroom with it's own sink. The sink is just out of view to the left in this shot...

Then to the right is the "kitchen sink" and cabinets although there is no cook top in this one. (it was a factory option the original buyer obviously passed on)

Standing on the back seats looking out over the bow you can see the nice tanning pad on the cabin roof between the top cabin windows...

This shot is the boat going flat out at 45 mph and looking back over the wake. A two and a half ton boat moving at 45 cuts quite a wake huh? Oh yeah! That gets the old testosterone flowing! :)

Sure you are all are invited! The placard in it from the coast guard says max capacity is 10 people. That is more readers than I have so everyone is invited! :)

...and hey, if it rains we will just put the convertible top up! I don't know much about boats but I thought having a convertible was super cool. Erika says almost all boats do that- still, I think it's pretty damned cool! WooHoo!!

This is the view off the end of Erika's dock.

So, how does that rank as a show off post? :) ;)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Sarcasma for YOU!

Sometimes it’s fun to be an over analytical geek. It can be really fun if you enjoy annoying the pretentious. Yes, that is one of my favorite sins, I know it is wrong but I still enjoy it anyway.

The last time I worked for someone else I had to go to a day of orientation. One of the items of orientation was security. Now I have worked department of defense many times and have held a few security clearances over the years so I grok security.

This place was one of those “10-10” dial around long distance providers you may remember from the ancient days when telephones had copper wires. Does anyone remember "Al Bundy" doing those commercials? That was us.

So, this is not exactly your bastion of security needed kind of place. You know the kind of place I mean? It’s the kind of place that Wal-Mart greeters dream of getting a security guard job at, so they can sit down and sleep instead of having to stand there in the lobby greeting people. That kind of place.

So in struts this cocky little rooster of a man who must have been 23 tops. He introduces himself as “Chief” Someguy (can not remember his name) Already my geeky nerves are all a quiver. This guy just radiates “Totally Self Absorbed Loser” from every poor of his being. He really thinks he is the shit! So already we are natural enemies.

So he starts droning on about the importance of security and how you should never let good manners get in the way of good security. For example never hold the door open for anyone, yes it’s good manners but they need to use their badge to open the door. I am with him so far, I am thinking that thieves sometime sneak in and steal from purses at unattended desks or snag laptops and such so this is a good thing.

However rooster boy said the most profoundly stupid thing I have heard in a long time, he continued, “The person you let in could be a disgruntled employee about to go on a shooting spree. You would not want that on your conscious would you? So it is far better to be rude and not let someone in than to be responsible for the deaths of your co-workers!”


You have got to be kidding right? The “Chief” has clearly been watching too many Steven Segal movies! I am already rolling my eyes but then “Chief” Someguy makes a mistake I bet he never made again, he asked us if there were any questions. Yeah I had just couple so I raised my hand.
“Yes, you have a question?”
“Yeah, uh, if this guy is armed and determined to take out a bunch of people do I want to be the guy who slams a door in his face? Don't you think he would shoot me?"
“Well, yes but then security (the Wal-Mart greeters) would hear the shots and come running.
“Yeah but I am already dead!”
“Uh, well, yes, but you might well have saved others!“
"Won't he just shoot our unarmed guards when they run in?"
"Welll, uhhhh..."
"So is our security philosophy to just run this guy out of ammo before he can get to the managers he was originally after?"
“Besides,” I continue” the guy has a gun and no will to live, so why wouldn’t he just shoot me and take my badge and use it to enter anyway?"
"Well yeah but security will hear and..."
"Will get shot too- Yeah, I think we covered that."
Awkward silence
Then I blurted out another thought, "You know, we have glass doors here (like grocery stores) I mean the guy would just shoot the door and walk in anyway. I mean unless he is management material I really don’t think a guy with a gun is going to be slowed down much by a glass door, right?"

Clearly exasperated with having his fantasies of being Bruce Willis crawling through the ducts to flank the bad guys coming face to face with the basic logic of the real world "The Chief" just barks, "Just don't let anyone in OK?"
"Sure, no problem, I don’t like thieves."

I'll bet that genius is a CEO by now or perhaps high up in the Department of Homeland "Security".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cashiers, Clerks and Customers (part II)

First a side note- Sorry this is so late (early?) You regulars may remember that I had a particularly troublesome client last February? Well, in spite of my better judgement I allowed my self to be sweet talked into going back. I guess it is a lot like relationships you have ended. After some time the sharp memories fade and the promises of "never again" seem believable so you decide to give it another chance. Then you wonder what the hell ever made you think it could change!?

I went out there today and just finished a 16 hour day that I KNOW I wont get paid for (they always have excuses). They do not know it yet but I will never again darken their door. NEVER!

So now to finish up my shopping day stories...

I left Wal-Mart and made it to water Aerobics just in the nick of time. After my workout I had one more errand to run. I needed some spare house keys made so I zipped up to our local Ace Hardware.

They had the little key-making center at the service desk. I handed the clerk the 4 keys I wanted duplicated. I was leaning up against the desk while he made my keys. My eye caught on this “ink blotter” type of ad they had on the desktop.

The ad said, “Starting in 1999 many cars started coming with transponder (security chip) keys. Until now these keys could only be made at the dealership and they cost from $80 to $150 there! Now Ace can make your transponder keys for $20 to $50. Why pay more at your dealership?”

Now that is a GREAT ad! My 2005 Escape has one of those keys and when I bought it the salesman gave me two keys and warned me not to loose them as they cost $125 to replace! I have been meaning to get a spare to stash in the car but the dealership is just out of the way and somehow I never manage to get there and isn’t this just providence that I am already here and they can make me that spare.

So I said to the clerk that was already making my house keys! “Ooooo, I want to get a truck key made while I am here!”
“What year is it?”
“Oh, that’s a transponder key, we can’t make those.“
“Huh?” Taping the ad with my finger I ask, “What about this sign right here on YOUR desk saying you can make them?”
He leans over and looks at the same ad I am looking at and says, “Oh wow, I did not know that." Let me call the manager”

It’s Deja Vue all over again. :)

So the manager comes over and explains that I will have to come back during the day as the only guy who knows how to make transponder keys works on day shift. However, he continues, let’s look it up and make sure we have a blank here for your vehicle. …

So after a few minutes of digging around he finally announces that they don’t have a blank for my vehicle they will have to order it. I need to pay in advance and it’s $85.
“Huh?” Taping the ad with my finger yet again I ask, “What about this sign right here on YOUR desk saying they are $20 to $50?”
“Uh, well yours costs more.”
Oh, well *that* explains it! I mean as long as you can justify it and everything! So I did not buy a new key after all.

Which turned out to be a smart thing because when I got home not a single one of the 4 house keys they made worked. Not a one of them.

And people wonder why men hate to shop!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cashiers, Clerks and Customers (part I)

I had a very bad streak today with store people. Luckily I was in a good mood and not all stressed out so I was able to avoid my most favorite of coping skills, wonderful sarcasm! That allowed me to save up my sarcasm and dump it all right here!

So my first trip today was to Wal-Mart. Usually I am not a fan of Wal-Mart (Sorry Anne!) but there are a few things I will make a special trip to the hundred acre store for.

I was in a hurry today, I got off at five and had water aerobics at six so this was an in and out job. Fortunately since testosterone dominates my system I am capable of walking straight into a store, getting the things I want and leaving immediately. :)

I do realize this is not a skill all people posses. :)

However, the long check out lines were foiling my plans for efficient shopping. I get up to the cashier and stereotype of stereotypes she is a pretty, very young blond named Brittany. I am watching my stuff go by on the little screen and I can see her scan one item but I see that item hit the screen 4 times real fast! It was a $20 item. It was also the last item so she instantly hit ENTER or what ever they do to tell the computer they are done and total it up.

I am paying with a credit card and I had already swiped it and now the little screen is flashing for me to sign it and hit OK. Bear in mind I have like five items total.

Now the adventure begins.
"That last item scanned 4 times."
"No you had 4 of those items", instantly leading me to believe another aspect of the Brittany stereotype might be correct in this case too. :(
"I was watching, you just ran that item over the scanner once but it hit the screen 4 times"
Shit! When it went to the signature screen it cleared the items purchased for the signature screen and this Wal-Mart apparently does not have another display anywhere so now I can not point to it. So, Brittany goes through the seemingly agonizing process to make a receipt print before I have signed the credit card screen.

So now we have the receipt in hand and you can clearly see four of the same thing in a row. I point and go, "See, right there, it hit four times."
"No, you have four of them", we have now come full circle Obi-Wan.
So at this point I really have the urge to get snarky but I manfully resist and just gently say, "Really, point them out for me..." waving to my cart…
You can actually hear two or three neurons firing while she looks over my cart, I never realized until today that neurons make an odd sound as they fire. They sound just like the silent drive on the Red October- Joosssh... Joosssh.... Joosssh! It's very creepy! Then in a sudden shower of firing neurons brilliant Brittany states, "Oh, you do just have one; I wonder why it scanned four times?"

Yes! Oh YES! Brittany finally grasps it! My sarcasm gland is just pumping mass quantities of sarcasm hormone into my blood stream and all my little sarcasm nerve endings are just aquiver yet I just mildly say, "Good, I am glad we agree now, so take the extra three off."

Now it really gets fun! Brittany says, "Oh, I can't take those off, I already hit ENTER, you will just have to go to customer service and get a refund."
These words really just did not make any sense to me so sounding really bright and living up to my nerdy redneck stereotype I said, "Huh?"
"Yes, just go ahead and sign the credit card thingy so we can finish then you can go over to customer service and get a refund."
"Then I said something that clearly they do not cover in Wal-Mart corporate drone training because I could see I just clearly blew her mind with this unimaginable answer. I said, "Ummm, no."

Judging by the wide eyed slack jawed look young Brittany was giving me clearly she was stunned and had no idea what to say next so I elaborated for her benefit,
"I have not paid you yet so I don't need a 'refund'. Additionally, I have no intention to pay you for things I did not buy so I still won’t need a refund.”

Now Brittany starts to impersonate a carp, her mouth is opening and closing slowly in what I can only guess was a futile attempt at pumping oxygen rich water over her life giving gills?

Clearly somewhere Brittany-fish was taught the value of repeating herself. Repetition is the key, the way to get things done is to be repetitive because what did Brittany-fish say next? "Sir, just go ahead and sign that then you can get your money back from customer service." I almost did my fish impersonation at that point.

Then the plot thickened; the young pretty woman in line behind me is starting to get antsy, she is tapping her credit card on the counter, shifting her weight back and forth and making that incredible noise that only women know how to make that can just send men into orbit, you know, that smack your lips and sigh real loud sound? Yeah you know the one doncha? Here is the funny part though, she is not fed up with Brittany-fish she is mad at ME. She barks out to me, "Oh just sign it already so we can all get out of here!”

Now someone should call the pope because it was clearly a bona fide miracle that I kept my cool and held my sarcasmey juices in check after her blatant lip smacking! I just said calmly but in a clear, loud voice so the people behind her could hear me too, "Sure, no problem- I will sign right now if you just pay me the extra $60 bucks she rang up and I’ll give YOU the receipt to go stand in another line to get it back. How does that sound?" then I held my hand out for the money.

After a few seconds of eye locked silence I said "That's what I thought, you might find another line because I have a bad feeling about this one." and turned my back on little Miss Smackey Lips.

Meanwhile Brittany-fish called upon all of her Jedi training and decided to get her manager.

So we got to play the same game with the manager again, "Ok sir, she has already rang it up so you will just have to get your refund at the customer service desk."
"To quote Cool Hand Luke, what we here a failure to communicate; Ma’am, I have not paid you yet so there is no refund needed. Furthermore I have no intention to pay for what I did not buy so I can stand in yet another line to get 'back' the money I have not given you yet. Are you following me?"

I swear to GAWD at this point her eyes started to glow red and she said in this creepy voice "Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!"

Actually she was quite apologetic and just explained that as much as she wants to she just can’t modify the order after a certain point in the process- so I HAVE to pay for it.

That concept still hurts my head. I MUST pay for something I don't have. That is the only way the system works. I MUST! Owwwwwwww!

I am looking at the signature screen and under the signature line it says OK and CANCEL. So I ask what happens if I hit cancel?

Brittany-fish and the Borg group leader look at each other and 1-of-9 says with some honesty. “Uh, I don’t know?”
“Well, since this is going no where lets give that a shot.”
Too late! I tapped the cancel button and to make an already too-long story short after just a little maneuvering there were able to just ring me up again and all was well this time.

Oh so much debate for what turned out to be a very simple thing! So class, how do we defeat the evil computer empire? Why just hit the Cancel button. Duh!

Still the best part of this story is how clearly Brittany-fish has never had anyone tell her “no” before. I am willing to bet that later on she was in the break room going, Oh. Mahhh. Gawwd- I had like this customer who would just like totally NOT do what I told him to do! I mean someone should totally explain to this nerdy redneck dude just who is in charge around here! Customers follow orders damn it! When I tell him to pay me then stand in another line he should like totally do it- Right?”

After aerobics I went on another blog worthy shopping trip but since this post is already too long I will save that story for a part II tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My business.

In the early 2000's I was almost put out of business by cheap foreign labor doing technical work. They were undercutting my rate by 50-70% and it was very tough to compete. Many of my friends were put out of business.

Fortunately most employers/customers figured out in pretty short order that you do indeed get what you pay for. I was able to weather the storm and stay in business but sadly many were not. So I put all of this forward just to say up front, why yes, I am bitter! I am so glad you asked. :)

Anyway I ask you to ponder the thoughts that follow as you gaze upon the following miracles of efficient and thoughtful design:

So, the same culture that builds infrastructure like this is who most of you entrust your hi-tech computer support too.

Remember that as you are installing that printer driver for the 5th time and are asking "Say again" for the 27th time.

(A tip o' the hat to Major Tom for the photo's)