What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Sleep. The first night it was missing almost completely. The second night it ended 90 minutes before what passes for my “normal” wake up time. At some point during this little break of mine, I’d like to think I’m entitled to at least one night of sleep that leaves me feeling more or less rested. I don’t really expect to get it, but it would be a nice perk.

2. Service. Aside from standard carryout options, I don’t go out to eat often. There’s a combination of reasons for that. Mostly, if I’m going to eat something at a restaurant it has to either be something I don’t/can’t cook myself or has to be better than a similar dish that I’d cook at home. Also, restaurants, but their very nature, tend to be very people-y kind of places. When the off chance arrives that I do stop off for a bite – and when I am one of only three paying customers in the entire establishment – it feels like I shouldn’t have to ask twice for another drink and three times for silverware. Maybe I’m being too critical here, but I feel like getting the hell off your phone and doing your actual job could have made a real difference here.

3. Cosby. A major celebrity got away with innumerable criminal assaults over a period of many years and it appears that he’s finally about to be called to account. It’s almost as if we’re supposed to be surprised by this. In a culture that worships celebrity over almost all other things, I think the real story should be that even more of them aren’t leading lives not far removed from Crime TV. The cult of celebrity enables this kind of douchebaggery to continue more or less unabated. Rich and famous they may be, but they’re just people – and we all know how how much esteem that entitles them too in my book.

Why I didn’t upgrade…

The chance to pre-order the iPhone X for delivery on release has come and gone. It’s a fact only remarkable because it was the first time I willingly took a pass on trying to snag the latest miracle from Cupertino on day one. There are a couple of reasons for that – and at least one of them has to do with the phone itself, although Apple is largely to blame for the other reasons as well.

1. $1149 is a tough, tough price point to swallow for someone who remembers $200 cell phones and offers of “free phone with contract.” Sure those were old school dumb phones or “feature” phones of the past, but it’s still a memory fresh enough to trigger thoughts of “what the actual fuck” when it comes time to fork over a grand.

2. My Late 2014 Mac Mini is slowing down under the weight of everything I’m asking it to do as a primary computer and mini-server for the house. It’s going to need replacement sooner or later and that likely means stepping up to the iMac and swallowing another $2400 bill from Apple.

3. My first generation iPad Air, now 4 years old doesn’t quite have a battery problem… yet. It’s still burning through a full charge fast enough that it’s days are numbered. There’s $950 more allocated for tech refresh either this year or next.

4. Pre-ordering is tied to my home address in Maryland… and the state will happily charge me $68.94 for the privilege of ordering a new iPhone and having it shipped to my door. If I’m patient enough to wait until the phone is widely available, I can walk into the Apple Store in Delaware and take delivery and only pay the standard Apple Tax instead of getting hit by Maryland too.

5. AT&T and I have been together for a long time – closing in on 20 years now. The problem with that relationship is that when I’m sitting in my living room I hover somewhere between zero and one bar of service. During the great ice storm of 2017, with my internet connection down I ended up with no cell connection at all… while neighbors running on the Verizon network were still able to call out. Having minimal voice and data coverage at home during an emergency situation is kind of a priority, so it’s likely time for a switch. As an Apple Upgrade Program member there isn’t a clear way for me to change carriers during a pre-order purchase.

So there it is, five distinct and fairly reasonably assessed reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to upgrade right away this time. It’s the right decisions, but I still don’t feel any better about it.

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.

Gutter (or Why $15 an hour is a bad idea)…

“Hi, my name is Jeff. I’d like to scheduled someone to come out and clean my gutters.” That’s how it started. Simple enough. Like thousands of other calls for service across the country every day of the year. The rest of the conversation, though, went something like this…

Gutters-R-Us: Sure, we’d be happy to come out and give you a free estimate.

Jeff: Uh, no, that’s ok, I really just want to schedule the service.

Gutters-R-Us: We need to do a free estimate.

Jeff: So I can’t just tell you the linear feet, number of downspouts, and pitch of the roof?

Gutters-R-Us: We need to do a free estimate. It’s free.

Jeff: Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh. OK. When can you do that?

Gutters-R-Us: Next Wednesday.

Jeff: *Sighs deeply* What time next Wednesday?

Gutters-R-Us: Is one o’clock ok?

Jeff: Yes. That’s fine.

Gutters-R-Us: *90 second pause*

Jeff: *Clears throat*

Gutters-R-Us: Sir, are you still there? Is one o’clock ok?

Jeff. Yep. One is still ok with me.

Gutters-R-Us: Oh. I thought you were checking your calendar.

Jeff *Bangs head repeatedly on desk*

Gutters-R-Us: OK…We’ll see you on Wednesday. I’ll send an email to confirm.

Jeff: Thanks. *weeps softly for the future of the republic*

So I know “how much is it going to cost” is the first question most people ask. The fact is, I really don’t care. I know the ballpark they’re going to be in. Their service came recommended by two independent sources. I just want someone to show up and clean the damned gutters so I don’t have to schlep around for an entire afternoon doing it myself.

This should have been a simple thing. It’s not moving an armored division across a continent. It’s not flying around the world in a solar powered plane. It’s coming to my house with some ladders, a hose, and a couple of brushes and getting the gunk out of the gutter. I really would just like someone to show up and do that and then send me the bill. Easy peasy.

Instead, now I’m going to have to take at least part of two days off… one of which will be dedicated to someone coming to my house to tell me things I already know (that I would have been happy to tell them over the phone or document with photographic evidence in order to save them the trip and save me the time).

If anyone wants to know why I oppose a $15 an hour minimum wage, I’ll enter this as Exhibit A.

Mexican standoff…

I might not be quite fanatical about lawn care, but it’s a pretty close run thing. In fact, “not fanatical” might just be a matter of degree, but compared to one of my two neighbors, I’m downright lax with my mowing and trimming routine. Normally that’s not much of a problem because the other neighbor lives somewhere on the other end of the mowing spectrum. Over there, they live by the once-a-month-is-good-enough standard. Sure, it’s bothersome, but I’m slowly learning to live with the things I can’t control. That’s not really the point, though.

The point, unfortunately, is that mine is now the neighborhood yard most in need of a good going over. While I’d very much like to take care of that problem, my John Deere is currently rated as out of service and unable to perform its primary mission. Loosely translated, after replacing the fuel filter, spark plug, and checking the fuel lines, I can’t keep the damned thing running for more than 45 seconds and even then it’s working at about 10% power. That means the yard is coming up on two weeks un-mowed and it’s starting to make me twitchy. The fact that it’s rained off and on every other hour for the last three days isn’t helping matters at all.

The fine people from the local Deere dealer are coming out on Friday to give it a diagnosis and attempt a repair on site. If that doesn’t go as planned, they’ll haul it away and bring it back up to operating standard at the shop. Of course if that happens, there’s no way of knowing when I’ll get my green machine back in service. That puts me in an awkward position of either a) accepting that the grass is going to be a foot tall or worse before I can do anything about it or b) ask the neighbor who actually takes meticulous care of his yard if I can borrow his tractor for an afternoon.

They’re both equally unappealing options. The former because it is an open admission of defeat and the latter because I’m completely uncomfortable borrowing a piece of equipment from the guy whose garage and workshop are cleaner than the kitchens in most commercial restaurants. It seems I’m in a Mexican standoff with myself. If things aren’t up and running on Friday, there’s not much chance of it ending well.

The happy customer…

As much as I know they’re just another example of Big Data distilling me down to bits and bits based on my shopping, I generally like the service they provide. Having been a Prime member longer than I can remember, I’ve gotten use to my deliveries showing up amazon-prime-logono more than two days after I click the “buy it now” button.

My latest order was an exception. It’s guaranteed delivery date was yesterday, but the package was a no show. It wasn’t anything particularly important, but a guarantee is a guarantee in my simple mind. Mostly, I logged in to Amazon’s customer support chat feature this morning to let them know that I’m watching them while they’re busy watching me. I wanted to at least let them know that I was paying attention.

Without being asked anything more than the order number, the CSR immediately apologized for the inconvenience on behalf of the company and credited my account with a free month of Prime. No questions asked, they addressed the issue by providing compensation that I felt was more than fair. They didn’t make me chase my tail to feel satisfied with the experience.

By giving me something that effectively is no cost to them, Amazon left this customer happy. Other retailers, both online and brick and mortar, would be well served to take a lesson. Even if they are Big Data bent on controlling the universe, I’m once again a happy Amazon customer. Job well done.

Comcast, once again, sucks…

If there’s are recurring threads to this blog, one of them must certainly be my ever increasing disdain, annoyance, and hatred of Comcast. Last year, I argued, cajoled, and bullied my bill for internet and television down to a svelte $97.04. That bought me 80 channels, “performance” internet, and HBO – the one splurge that’s non-negotiable (at least until HBO figures out a way to let people subscribe to them as a service instead of as a cable add-on). When I opened my bill this morning and found the price jumped to $124.09, well, let’s just say that they’ve given me one more reason to be less than impressed with their service.

Sure, business costs increase. Got it. Understood. Yet somehow, I don’t think the cost of delivering television and internet here to scenic Rental Casa de Jeff increased 25% year-over-year. Cutting the cable seems like a more and more realistic option for me every time they dish out such asshattery. Of course I’d still be saddled with a business relationship with Comcast because they have a monopoly on high speed out here in the wilderness. They suck, but sadly are the least bad of a host of truly god awful alternatives.

We can land a goddamned man on the goddamned moon, but can’t seem to come up with a way to watch Game of Thrones and surf the interwebs for less than a C-note a month. Maybe when the Chinese take over they’ll figure this mess out for us.