What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Edible arrangements. Here’s a tip. If you’re going to send a “gift” that requires refrigeration to a friend, family member, or whatever, make sure that person is going to be home when it’s delivered. Otherwise the nice delivery person will annoy the dogs of your friend or family member’s neighbor and then that neighbor will end up having to rearrange 75% of the things in his own fridge to accommodate your thoughtful gift. As a general rule, your gifts should not constitute an added burden on an utterly disinterested third party.

2. The couple with the matching roller coolers. Every morning I arrive at the office at more or less the same time as a couple who seem to wear semi-matched outfits and roll identical rolling coolers across the parking lot to the building. I don’t know exactly what it is about this couple that annoys me quite so much, but it’s an automatic and visceral kind of thing. Their whole set up just feels wrong and unnatural.

3. Satellite Radio. My SiriusXM “demo” expired last week. Being a long term fan of being able to listen to the same three or four stations no matter where I drive, I logged in to my account and renewed my subscription. Only problem is for the last seven days the damned radio has showing nothing but the preview channel. By this morning, I’d completed half a dozen calls to “listener care” and at least twice that number of “refreshed signals.” I’d already made up my mind that they’d had their last call. Once the weekend rolled around and I had a few minutes to play the game, I was going to cancel the service and be done with it. Lo and behold, pulling out of the parking this afternoon the satellite receiver sprung to life as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. I’ve been a fan of the satellite radio for years, but I no longer have the patience for “services” that make me jump through hoops as part of the program. There are too many companies competing for entertainment dollars to keep shoveling cash at something that’s not dependable. Our friends beaming music down from space would probably be well served to remember that.

Neighborhood watch (or A healthy dose of paranoia)…

© 2015 Steel City Corp.

© 2015 Steel City Corp.

Picture it: Ceciltucky. Early Morning. The sun just kissing the tops of the stately oaks and maples lining our exurban streets…

Near the exit of our happy little subdivision, I passed a car coming inbound. That’s not so unusual in and of itself. Based on my observation of the neighborhood over the last six weeks, though, it’s the kind of beater that definitely didn’t look at home here. Still, there are plenty of those in the county. I’d be crazy to think one or two didn’t lurk on our streets. Despite that, it just didn’t feel right.

These are all snap judgements I’m making in the time it takes our two vehicles to close a 100 yard gap at 20 miles an hour. In passing, I may or may not have shot the opposing driver the stink eye, but for sure I made a mental note of the car’s tag number and then watched as it grew smaller in the distance.

For a moment at the intersection I pondered pulling a u-turn just to satisfy my own curiosity… and to be positioned to call the police when the driver sooner or later did something felonious.

At the last second, just before my tires brushed around the median, I saw the plastic wrapped newspaper sail out the car’s passenger window… and promptly felt like a horse’s ass for being a judgmental prick. And for mentally convicting the guy up before the crack of dawn delivering papers.

There’s a lesson there, somewhere. “See something, say something” is a good tag line – but given my experience it seems it could also be helpful to know what it is you’re looking at before firing off half cocked.

Live… from my kitchen…

iPhone release day is typically one of the highest traffic days of the year here at jeffreytharp.com. Then again on a fair number of those days I was standing in line using the blog as a time killer at 4AM more than anything else. Lots of pictures. Lots of updates. It was just something to do to pass the time that didn’t require “making new friends” with the people on my left and right.

FullSizeRenderWith Apple again offering home delivery on release day, I opted t stay home and follow the whole event from the comfort of my kitchen table. So…. if you’re checking in to see what kind of foolishness is happening over in the line at Christiana Mall, you’ll need to find a different huckleberry this year.

I’ll spare you the constant updates this year since what I’m doing to pass whatever time now between me and delivery are such exciting events as paying bills, washing dishes, and running the vacuum cleaner.

In the spirit of my heroic live blog of past years, I give you the following:

7:21AM – My iPhone 6 traveled overnight from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and arrived in Newark, DE last night at 2:41AM. It loaded onto a UPS panel truck at 5:47 AM and send out into the world for delivery. All that’s left now is the waiting.

8:40AM – A moment of hope for an early delivery. Sadly, the squeal of breaks and rumble of a diesel engine at the end of the driveway turned out to be a school bus.

10:10AM – First pot of coffee finished.

12:01PM – Soup.

1:24PM – I’m going to cut the grass… in hopes that UPS will try to sneak up on me while I’m distracted.

1:48PM – UPS delivers to guy two doors down… and then drives off in the opposite direction.

2:02PM – Delivered.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Strike 3. With the USPS fighting for it’s life, one of the simple issues they could work on is get things from Point A to Point B when they say they will. The last three items I ordered online that were shipped through USPS all encountered inexplicable delays. Maybe I’m just finicky, but when I pay for second day arrival, I generally expect to get my items two days after I ordered them. It doesn’t feel like that’s an unreasonable expectation. I know it’s a trifle, but logging in to a website a day or two after the “guaranteed arrival date” and still wondering where the hell my package is is just infuriating and just one of the many reasons I don’t use USPS when I have an option. On time and to standard; that’s the way to build a happy customer based. What USPS is doing is pretty much just telling me that they’ve given up.

2. Mission: Impossible. When the assigned mission is to give a 3 minute presentation about what you’re working on, that’s what you should do. Actually, you should wrap it up in two minutes, thirty seconds to allow a moment for questions, but that’s not the point. What you shouldn’t do is ramble all over the damned world while everyone’s eyes glaze over in benign indifference. Remember, it’s called a “brief” for a reason.

3. Dropped calls. Cell phones drop calls. Since they’re magically connecting to far away towers without the benefit of wires, I’ve learned to accept that limitation. When using a land line to connect to another land line, there’s just no justification for dropping the call not once, not twice, not thrice, but four effing times in the span of 35 minutes. After attempt four failed to take hold for more than three minutes, I officially lost interest in whatever was being said. If it appeared to anyone that I had thrown my hands in the air like I just don’t care, well, there’s a good reason it looked like that.

Dear Lord, please don’t let them screw this up…

Today is the first iPhone launch that doesn’t find me standing in line somewhere. The first iteration was the local AT&T store, but after that I discovered the grownup candyland that is the Apple Store. As much as I don’t particularly like hanging around large groups of people, launch day crowds are something a little different. We’re all geekily obsessed in more or less the same way. Plus there’s always a smattering of hot nerdy chicks in line and really, who doesn’t like that?

This time around, in the absence of confirmed in-store reservations, the better course of action seemed to be ordering direct and waiting for my shiny new precious in the comfort of my own home. Judging by a look around at the weather, that’s probably for the best. There’s still a part of me that feels a little bad about missing the lineup. Not needing to get up at 2AM and having fresh hot coffee, my fuzzy slippers, and an actual chair to sit in temper that feeling just a little bit.

If the internet is to be believed, my phone is now out for delivery. I’m still more than a little concerned that UPS will jack something up at the last minute, but in an effort to maintain some semblance of reasonableness I’m working under the assumption that I’ll have a tasty new treat in my hot little hands by around noon. Then I’ll need to find something else to look forward to (i.e. obsess over)…. Sooooooo when did they say iPad 3 was coming out?

Stupid poetic justice…

So, next time I am bitching about not having anything to blog, someone please remind me to shut the hell up, please. This afternoon, I was expecting to take delivery of 42-inches of plasma goodness. The delivery guys were on target (yes, the Best Buy truck knows how to get to my house even though there are no maps with my neighborhood in them yet). The minute they started pulling it out of the box, I knew something wasn’t right… of course they were behind it, looking at the connections and hadn’t noticed what I was looking at yet… A simply “uhhhh… guys…” was enough to get their attention and draw it to a screen that wasn’t just cracked. It was shattered. Like a baseball through a window kind of shattered…

No problem they say, we’ll call the warehouse and swing by and pick up a new one and be back in an hour or so. They were even nice enough to call ahead and make sure a new set was waiting for them. An hour and a half later, they call back… There’s a problem. The set is out of stock. Now I know a little something about supply operations and being out of an advertised special the day before Thanksgiving is not a good thing to be, but I digress. To make what could become a long and painful rant slightly shorter, I ended up at the store with the “TV manager” trying to reach an agreement. After some extensive haggling and instance on recompense for my inconvenience, we agree that they will just give me the next higher model at no additional cost. Problem solved.

Yeah… not so much. Turns out this model was out of stock too. By this point I asked the guy to just go back to the warehouse and bring me a list of what they actually do have in stock and we’ll work from that. More haggling ensues, with corresponding increases in blood pressure and vocal volume. Finally, after two hours of dickering, finding out what they don’t have on hand, and my generally being obstinate until I got what I wanted, they agreed to a considerable upgrade. Mainly, I think, to get me out of the television section. Of course by now it’s after 7PM and they won’t be able to deliver it after the Thanksgiving weekend. Sigh. Let’s just say the Jeep has more cargo space than you think it does.

So, yes, my TV is here and working beautifully. Of course the stand I ordered with it still has to be delivered. In the grand scheme of life, it’s a minor detail, but you know how I hate it when things don’t go like clockwork.

Not-so-Best Buy…

It feels good to get back to the basic reason I started keeping this blog… Bitching and complaining about the stupid people and things that cross my path in the course of everyday life. Every so often it’s good to come back to your roots. 😉

Before heading back to Maryland for Christmas, I made a point of doing the vast majority of my major purchases ahead of time. I ordered blinds, new living room furniture, and a refrigerator, washer and dryer. Now, being a good steward of my own money, I did my due diligence by checking prices both locally and online. The best price on the washer, dryer, and refrigerator was actually from Best Buy. Good prices and points on my rewards card… Sweet.

I knew I would be in the house by this weekend and scheduled my delivery for today. I should have been prepared for a problem when I called the store yesterday to confirm the delivery time… I called the delivery department. There was no answer. I called the store’s main phone number. There was no answer. I waited an hour, repeated the process, and got the same result… and infuriating ring… ring… ring. By this point it was early evening and I needed to go out to get something for dinner, so I thought I would stop by the store to get an answer and critique their customer service. After waiting for 15 minutes for the customer service desk to actually find the manager, I explained the situation and the information I required. In response to my comment about not being able to reach anyone by phone, she mentioned that “oh, during the holidays, we don’t even bother answering the phone.” I’m fairly sure one of their forklifts could have driven into my mouth at that point. Did the store manager actually just say that they don’t answer their customer service line? Yes. Yes she did. Even if this were true, I think I would have come up with a better excuse.

And so, we come to this morning, with delivery scheduled between 8:00 and 11:00. The time is now 11:38 and I just got a call from the delivery driver. Apparently my street doesn’t exist and because he spent so much time driving around looking for it, he’ll have to move on to the next delivery and try to get me in later in the day. What the fuck?

Honest to God, I can’t believe anyone actually does business this way. If I don’t have a refrigerator, washer, and dryer sitting in this house by about 4:00, I’m cancelling the order and going to Home Depot.