1. Breaking my word. I swore a strong oath many years ago when paywalls erupted across internet news sites. It would be a cold day in Hell before I started paying for something that was available for free. I could get along just fine with Drudge and Google News and the devil could have the rest. Of course it helped that the Washington Post, political rag though it may be, remained free to those punching in from a government IP address. After years of getting by, though, I’m going to admit here before God, the internet, and everyone that I’ve gone back on my word and conceded that based on my evolving news consumption habits a subscription was inevitable and probably past due. So, now that I’m an oathbreaker anyway, at least I’m free to enjoy the full Sunday edition of The Times of London without running into their ridiculous 2 article a week limit. In retrospect £5.00 a month doesn’t feel completely usurious even if does still feel just a little bit wrong. And so my transition to a curmudgeonly old Englishman continues apace.
2. Logistics. It turns out one of the big logistics companies (I’m looking at you here UPS) is currently having a challenging time differentiating between 03 and 13 and delivering what seems to be half of what my neighbor is ordering for Christmas to my front door. I’m friendly enough with my neighbors that I make sure theirs ends up in the right place, but it feels like something the average person really shouldn’t need to do if they’re paying for shipping to their home versus paying to have something shipped vaguely into their neighborhood. The internet is full of apologists urging everyone to remember that this is a very busy time of year for shippers and that “hey, mistakes happen.” I’m sure they do, but the same one should rarely happen more than once. Of course I’m a simple old subject matter expert in distribution logistics, supply, and transportation so what the hell could I possibly know on the subject anyway.
3. Things are worse now. The talking heads of the media and the man on the street both seem equally willing to jump into a discussion that “<insert any topic here> is worse now that its ever been before.” It may be true of an individual issue or two, but overall I just find that the sentiment shows an overall lack of academic rigor and a woeful knowledge of basic history. The Civil War, the Spanish Flu of 1918, pretty much the entire decade of the 1970s, an global total war from 1939-1945, and Members of Congress physically fighting each other on the House floor are all things that happened in the not particularly distant past. Today, what “things are worse now,” mostly seems to focus on the fact that someone may have said something mean to somebody else. In the great sweep of human history asserting now that we’re living now in the worst of all possible times makes you sound like an idiot.
1. Romaine. After discovering that romaine lettuce was temporarily poisonous to people, anything containing that devil’s weed was unceremoniously yanked from the shelves of grocery stores across the country. That’s fine. E. coli isn’t exactly something most people want spread around. But please, in your haste to throw out all things green, spare a thought for the poor tortoise keepers among you. Even if romaine wasn’t a staple food for my tort, it was an element of the spring mix he got on a fairly regular basis. With romaine being potentially toxic for human consumption, of course spring mix it disappeared from the shelves too… which has left George with a mix of kale, mustard greens, and collards that he is clearly not in favor of based on his attitude for the last several days. The supply is also a lot more limited with people also opting for the “whatever is green” option to meet their salad needs. We’ve reached the point where I’m 100% willing to risk a few measly human deaths to have a happy and well-fed tortoise again.
2. People. It’s kind of adorable that anyone who knows me thinks I can be guilted into changing my position by showing me pictures of or telling me stories about people. I think my position on people as a group is pretty well known. There are, of course, exceptions and people who I dearly love and highly respect. For the most part, though, I literally can’t even with people. By contrast, though, if you harm one little hair on the head of an animal that’s not culturally accepted as livestock, though, and I’d be happy to melt your face off with a blowtorch.
3. The United States Postal Service. We’re now well into day five of watching my latest prescription refill travel the approximately 40 miles between DC and Baltimore. After two days of lingering around our nation’s capital, the precision tracking app provided by the USPS tells me that it’s once again on the move… of course it neglects to mention where it’s headed or when it may arrive other than blithely saying it will be on my doorstep my 8PM tonight. That seems unlikely since the rest of my mail arrived hours ago and, well, since this is the 2nd soon-to-be-missed delivery estimate. Yes, I can call in a “bridge” request and CVS will front me a few days of meds from a local store – with the requisite $80 co-pay of course – but that’s not the point, really. I don’t think expecting a delivery service that would arrive to me in a more timely manner than if I drove way the hell down to Tampa and picked the order up myself from the warehouse is really anything out of order.
Hey, I know from experience that sometimes logistics can be hard. Getting an item from Point A to Point B in the right quantity at the right time can take a bit of work. When the chips are down and time is a factor, I’m glad I can count on the prowess of the United States Postal Service to let me down hard.
But seriously, an item I ordered landed in Philadelphia last Saturday. In the four days since it has been transferred to Hyattsville, onward to Baltimore, from Baltimore to Washington (where it rattled around the Regional Destination Facility for 6 hours getting scanned repeatedly), back to Baltimore, and reverse coursed back to Washington where it has been sitting since 7:34 this morning. But I suppose I should be confident in the big bold promise of “Delivery by 29 November.”
I mean it’s not like the USPS has been charged with delivering mail and packages for well over 200 years now. Getting a little padded envelope from Philadelphia thirty miles down the road to Elkton is clearly one of the more logistically complex efforts every devised and executed by the mind of man.
Thank the gods that the package in question absolutely does not contain medications that in any way are responsible for keeping me alive.
Sigh. Apparently, in mail, as in war, even the very simple things are so very hard to do.
1. Cash only. It’s 2018. I can order products directly from Europe from the comfort of my living room using my cell phone. We live in an age of technological wonder…. which begs the question, why in blue hell can’t I use a debit card to buy six dollars worth of lottery tickets? It’s apparently the only activity in the developed world that steadfastly insists on being cash only.
2. Weekday deliveries. I order a lot of things online. That means in most cases that thing is going to have to be delivered to the house. Most of the time it’s easy enough. They big truck arrives, leaves the package on the front porch, and I retrieve it when I return home. Occasional, something needs a signature before it can be released. There are usually easy ways around that too – except in special cases that require live ink from someone older than 21. Look, if you try to deliver the same package at approximately the same time on three consecutive weekday afternoons, the chance of typical working adult being there is somewhere between slim and none. The fact that SOP is to attempt delivery three consecutive times when a normal human being is probably at work reeks of ridiculous. There should be a better option available… and no, “we can hold it at our warehouse 40 minutes away so you can pick it up” is also a pretty dumb option. I’d be willing to pay a premium for some kind of guaranteed weekend delivery option.
3. “Uber is killing the taxi business.” I’ve never actually used Uber. It doesn’t feel like the kind of service that you could use reliably or cost effectively in the parts of the country where I tend to find myself. I’ve been in plenty of taxis over the years though. Saying that Uber is killing the taxi business and that government should step in to protect cab companies is a lot like saying government should make us all buy buggy whips and riding tack because we’re hurting the horse and buggy business by continuing to buy cars and trucks. It’s not fashionable to say it, but creative destruction is a real thing and tends to be of benefit in the long run.
I don’t like change. That’s probably the lest surprising thing I’ve ever typed into this blog. In fairness, it’s not so much that I don’t like change as that when change happens it tends to either be a pain in the ass or do away with something I like. Often it does both simultaneously. I’ve spent a lot of time crafting a world that I both enjoy and that curtails the number of pains in the ass. Change, therefore, is something to be avoided and fought against when necessary.
Having said that, though, my 2006 vintage bonded “leather” sofa and chair set had reached the point where it was shedding more than the dogs and cat combined. They didn’t owe me anything, having been moved three times and not being particularly expensive in the first place. It was the first “adult” furniture I bought after I closed on the Memphis house and I probably kept it around a year or two past it’s use by date out of sentiment if nothing else. Still, in this one case, it was time for a change.
One thing that nobody mentions about furniture is it’s not like replacing appliances or getting a new mattress. The guys who bring the new don’t generally haul away the old – one of those things that’s changed over time for the worse, in my opinion. The nice folks at Got Junk, though, we’re happy (for a price, of course) to come manhandle the furniture out of the house, load it on their truck, and drive it away to I care not where.
And now we’re waiting for the replacements to arrive. Waiting in a room empty aside from a recliner, couple of tables, and a dog bed. When I say Saturday can’t get here quick enough this week, I really, really mean it.
1. UPS. I’d hate to think how much business I’ve pushed through UPS over the years. But gigging me for $5 to change the date a package arrives feels a little bit cheap on their part. Sure, it’s only $5 but I’m not sure what the difference is between delivering it “for free” on Friday or delivering it on Monday when I’ll actually be home to receive it – which is only an issue because *you* require an ink signature. I guess they do offer a free option of letting me pick up the package at a location an hour round trip drive away was supposed to be a helpful concession so maybe you’re letting me off easy. I don’t mind paying for a service, but I resent the hell out of getting nickel and dimed.
2. Disappointment. I know a lot of people, but there are only a handful that I would count among my closest of friends – the ones I’d go to the mat for with no questions asked or burn down whole cities for if they asked. You think you know most of what there is to know about them. But then there’s the day you realize you know nothing. It’s equal parts unnerving and sad and disappointing because though they may well go on being your friend, you’ll never see them with the same undiluted affection. Given enough time everything changes, though I wonder why it so rarely seems to change for the better.
3. Windows 10. Sometime in the dead of night Windows 10 was smuggled on to my work computer and promptly went about wrecking everything from my wifi connection to my email archives to my screen configuration and any number of small tweaks that I’ve made over time to make the archaic POS computer a little more usable day-to-day. Some things I’ve been able to fix on my own through the day. Other things can’t be resolved by anyone locally and must be corrected by the great network help desk in the sky… which means I might see resolution sometime around March 2019. Just once I’d like to get one of these official “upgrades” that didn’t end up giving me less capability and require me to spend inordinate amounts of time fixing things that it broke.
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.