Sunday, August 29, 2004

week one (went by too fast)

We set off last Sunday about three hours past the time we planned to leave. Which was ok -- we had a guaranteed reservation at the Holiday Inn in Richfield, Ohio, so it didn't matter what time we got there. We'd had unexpected company the evening before so we were a bit behind in packing.

Twitch, of course, was all set:

twitch all packed up
ok, i'm ready, let's go already


We headed up to Danbury to catch I-84 -- there was no way we were going through Westchester County or New Jersey. The trip was fine and uneventful except for a a construction tie-up about ten miles east of Youngstown, Ohio, which set us back by more than an hour. We were listening to Eragon, a book about dragons and magic. We had junk and soda and it was a peaceful trip.

Ben, Ginger, and Twitch sharing the back seat


We arrived at the Holiday Inn in Richfield about 9:30, hungry and tired. Of course, the restaurant in the hotel closed at ten, so we had to seek out a restaurant. Settled on Wendy's at some truck stop, where the food was awful and the service even worse. Though this hotel advertised high-speed Internet access, what they don't tell you is that you get this only in the business center and not in your room. They didn't lie, exactly, but we were less than thrilled about this. This was not one of the better Holiday Inns and it's unlikely that we'll stay there again.

After breakfast (a mediocre meal at the hotel, though the coffee was good), we headed for Oscoda. Except for an accident that tied things up on Rt. 23 just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was smooth sailing all the way up. We made it pretty fast: just 6.5 hours from Richfield to Oscoda.

It was so great to see Mom and Dad, finally!

We headed to town to pick up a couple of things we needed, and Ben asked if we could stop at Three Mile Beach on the way back:

Ben at Three Mile Beach, August 23, 2004


sparklers


noisy but pretty fireworksOne night, Ben brought out his fireworks. Ginger turned into a basket case while he set them off, but they were pretty to watch. Setting off fireworks makes me really nervous, but Papa Jim and Mamie were supervising. Ginger got so upset she jumped into the car when I went to get something and we couldn't get her out of it without dragging her -- I guess she feels safe there.

Stanley and Twitch pretty much staked a permanent spot on the porch. Twitch is in kitty heaven -- on the porch, he's ALMOST outside. Lots of hummingbirds to watch, and toads and other little creatures safe from his clutches.

Stanley and Twitch on the porch


The air here is so clean it amazes me. When it's not clouded up, the night sky is so spectacular it makes you never want to turn on an outside light again. Maybe we'll get lucky and get to see the Northern Lights this trip.

We've spent a great deal of time at the beach. The sand part of the beach has shrunk a lot; Dad says it's been declared a wetlands so there's nothing to be done about it. Pity, as it wasn't a wetland a couple of years ago and it probably won't be a wetland in a couple of years. But it's still beautiful and relatively few people use it. There's a sand bar not far off shore, which makes it a very safe stretch for the kiddies. The water is nice -- not cold enough to give you a heart attack, but nice and brisk. And clean.

I think Stanley's been dreaming about doing this again:

don't make me think. or even move.


Ben and Ginger love the beach. Ginger runs to the door if we even say the word "beach."

Ginger and Ben out there


dog and boy running


I'm not sure, but I think Ben was pretending to be, um, flotsam.

Ben pretending he's flotsam


Ginger kept her eye on Ben all the time, except when she was chasing her new football. She loved jumping around with him.

Ginger watching Ben


Ben had to fly back to Massachusetts today, alas. It's so quiet without him here, and Ginger is moping because her boy is gone. We miss him too. Now we just have to remember to bring his smoke bombs home with us -- the ones he got at the Dam Store without realizing that he couldn't even put them in his checked luggage!

Off to Bingo -- maybe I'll win tonight.
posted by lee on 08/29/04 at 01:01 PM

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

getting ready

We're headed for Michigan tomorrow. Taking care of odds and ends today, packing, waiting for Ben, who will be going with us again this year. A lot of details to take care of before we go -- we don't know if we're going to be able to set up a broadband connection where we're going, so had to take care downloads and uploads and assorted things just in case ...

Naturally, since we needed to do a lot of online and computer work, there were violent thunderstorms this afternoon. So I spent a good part of the afternoon with a quivering mass of jelly in the shape of a golden retriever wrapped around my legs. Made it hard to pack.

Our first stop in the Holiday Inn in Richfield, Ohio. I realized that the directions and reservation number were only in my email, so when I could turn on the computer again, I printed everything out. Twitch, of course, had to supervise the printer -- he is the weirdest cat:

cat_supervising.jpg


It's getting ominous-looking again, so I'm glad I managed to get the Expression Engine upgrade installed (with good tech support -- there's always something) so I don't have to worry about it later -- one more to-do list item checked off. I'll get to the backup disks I need to burn later on this evening.

I am so excited about getting away -- I can't wait to see my parents. We really need the break. What's ironic, though, is that our gloriously abundant clematis is on the verge of blooming, so we'll miss it! (It's late this year.) It'll be something pretty for our house sitter to look at. Maybe she'll take some pictures for me. And she can harvest the tomatoes, which are also very late. I probably won't even get one of them this year.

And of course, since we wanted to take a vacation, even though it's been scheduled for months, everybody suddenly wants stuff done now. So it'll be a working vacation. Fortunately, only one project is urgent. Good thing we like what we do.
posted by lee on 08/21/04 at 02:14 PM

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

reagan limns the case against bush

Esquire, somewhere in there amid the soft porn, the inane drivel, the smelly ads, and the (seemingly) thousand pages of pretty pouting men in silly clothing (Cosmo for gay men?), manages to find a little space for interesting articles every once in a while. Ghosts of Esquire's faded excellence. The current issue features The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan. There are a couple of other decent articles this month, but this one stands out.

Whatever you might think of Reagan (the son), you have to give him credit: he's a good writer. Every time I've read his stuff, or watched an interview with him, he's been articulate, logical, and well-informed. He makes his case. I admit he's preaching to the choir here, but the article is worth reading and, even more, worth thinking about.

[Here's a hint for those of you who can't read Esquire's piss-poor attempt at web design: click the Print icon, and it will pop up a page where you can do a View > Text Size > Largest in your browser. That makes it legible.]
"Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.

"None of this, needless to say, guarantees Bush a one-term presidency. The far-right wing of the countrynearly one third of us by some estimatesחcontinues to regard all who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid (liberals, rationalists, Europeans, et cetera) as agents of Satan. Bush could show up on video canoodling with Paris Hilton and still bank their vote. Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a "hater," and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber. But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone. It's one thing to get trashed by Michael Moore. But when Nobel laureates, a vast majority of the scientific community, and a host of current and former diplomats, intelligence operatives, and military officials line up against you, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize the opposition as fringe wackos.

"Does anyone really favor an administration that so shamelessly lies? One that so tenaciously clings to secrecy, not to protect the American people, but to protect itself? That so willfully misrepresents its true aims and so knowingly misleads the people from whom it derives its power? I simply cannot think so. And to come to the same conclusion does not make you guilty of swallowing some liberal critique of the Bush presidency, because that's not what this is. This is the critique of a person who thinks that lying at the top levels of his government is abhorrent. Call it the honest guy's critique of George W. Bush."
posted by lee on 08/19/04 at 08:21 AM

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

think you’re safer in an suv? think again ...

NYT0816autovSUV.chart.jpegAccording to an article in the New York Times, SUVs are becoming even more unsafe than cars, rather than closing that safety gap. In Safety Gap Grows Wider Between S.U.V.'s and Cars, the decrease in SUV safety is mainly attributed to SUVs' tendency to roll over.
"The traffic safety agency reported last week that there were 16.42 deaths of S.U.V. occupants in accidents last year for every 100,000 registered S.U.V.'s. The figure for passenger cars was 14.85 deaths for each 100,000 registered; pickups were slightly higher than cars at 15.17 deaths per 100,000, while vans were lowest at 11.2 occupant deaths for every 100,000 registered."

And
"Rollover risk, though, is only one part of the safety picture. In crashes between vehicles, heavier vehicles tend to perform better than lighter ones, which is one reason that the smallest cars tend to have the highest occupant-fatality rates. The ways that people who own different types of vehicles tend to drive them is also a factor, especially in the case of sports cars.

"But weight is not a simple proxy for safety. In a federal crash study this year, large passenger cars and station wagons, averaging about 3,600 pounds unloaded, were found to have a death rate of 3.3 for each billion miles traveled; they were second only to minivans, which had a rate of 2.76.

"Ranked third safest after the large-car category were the largest, tanklike sport utility vehicles, which weigh in at an average of 5,100 pounds unloaded; their death rate was 3.79 for every billion miles. Midsize cars, averaging just over 3,000 pounds unloaded, had a 5.26 fatality rate; midsize S.U.V.'s, by far the most popular type, with an average weight over 4,000 pounds, had a death rate of 6.73 in the study."

So it's those mid-range SUVs, the ones taking over the roads and driven mainly by people who don't know how to drive them, that are the deadliest vehicles on the road today. Interesting in light of how many people rationalize buying them by claiming their kids are safer in them.

One of the stupidest things I've read lately was Eartha Kitt's response to her recent accident, covered first and best in WestportNow.com. Her Range Rover flipped over when a Mercedes struck her right rear bumper in a low-speed accident in a Westport intersection. She said the SUV saved her life due to its sturdy construction. Apparently, she didn't bother to think about the fact that maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't have landed upside down in the middle of road if she'd been driving anything but an SUV.

At the very least, insurance rates for SUVs should double. And I don't see why it can't be mandatory that people who drive SUVs be required to take a driving course designed specifically for handling vehicles with high centers of gravity -- they are NOT cars and they do require extra training to operate them safely. If a driver can't pass the course, no SUV driving permit. Bet it would save a few thousand lives per year.

So, mommies and daddies who claim they want to keep their kiddies safe, go get a minivan. Those are the safest vehicles. Otherwise, just quit with the BS and admit that you drive an SUV because you're a trend sheep.

MORE: Find out how your vehcle rates by checking out the NHTSA test results. Go here for information in general about vehicle safety ratings.
posted by lee on 08/17/04 at 09:15 AM

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Movable Type 3.01D: does six apart = the microsoft of the blog world?

A client needs a cgi-based blog-type setup since Earthlink is about ten years behind the times when it comes to supporting PHP. So, despite my reservations about the pricing structure imposed by Six Apart, if it solves the problem, it would be worth the money for the non-commercial license. But I needed to make sure the software works before I shell out the bucks. So, I downloaded the free version to give it whirl.

What a buggy piece of crap it is. Movable Type 3.01D is supposedly the bug-fix edition. I followed the instructions, carefully, twice. It's still a piece of crap software. Lazy, lazy, lazy documentation and the support forum is bullshit. The stylesheet for the application isn't even good -- it's pretty bad when I have to force a scroll in order to click the save button.

Here is an example error:
syntax error at extlib/DateTimePP.pm line 24, near "++ for " BEGIN not safe after errors--compilation aborted at extlib/DateTimePP.pm line 43. BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at extlib/DateTime.pm line 44.
When I hit the "back" button, it just loops the error. If I try to close it, it closes the browser. When I try to figure out what this error means, I get nowhere -- there is nothing in the troubleshooting documentation and nothing I could find in the forum.

Not only that, there's this kind of crap littered all over the place:
Ambiguous use of sort => resolved to "sort" => at lib/MT/Template/Context.pm line 1759. Ambiguous use of sort => resolved to "sort" => at lib/MT/Template/Context.pm line 1768
What the frell ... ?

There's no way I can ask my client to take a look at this in order to get an ok for buying the $100 version, which is what they'd need for their non-profit group.

It goes to show, Six Apart really doesn't give a damn about the standalone version of MT. Why would they allow such a junky application out the door? I don't have time to wait for them to get their crap together, so I'll just dust off my copy of 2.661 or whatever it was and use that until I can find some grownup software that actually works.

If, according to their own published specs, the webserver software meets the requirements, and if I follow the directions carefully, the software should work, right? Unless it's crap software. I have neither the time nor the knowledge to debug their code mistakes.

Sayonara Six Apart -- you just lost another customer.
posted by lee on 08/14/04 at 06:52 PM

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

southwest of canada

I grew in the downriver burbs of Detroit, and went to college in northwest Detroit, living at that place on the corner of Wyoming and McNichols (Six Mile) and spending a lot of time in and around the Wayne State U area (known then as the Cass Corridor -- is it still?) and a lot of time downtown and in Bricktown (as it was called in the early 80s). Quite a bit of time BEFORE the RenCen was built (I watched it rising from my office window in, I think, the First National Bldg. where I worked as a lowly clerk for the Sand Products Company). Strohs was a thriving brewery still, and I watched the Tigers at Tiger Stadium. I watched Nixon resign on the telly at the Checker Bar and splurged once a week on the amazing sandwiches of Ham Heaven. My father grew up on Vaughan Street and my grandmother lived there until she died in the late eighties. So I'd say I'd spent a considerable amount of my life there until I was 22 or there abouts.

After I graduated from college, I followed my then love to Boston, then went to grad school in New York City, lived in Arizona for a few years, then here to Connecticut. I somehow never really made it back to Detroit for anything more than a six-month stint working for the UAW magazine on West Jefferson and once-in-a-while drive throughs or a play at the Fisher.

All this is a long-winded way to say I miss Detroit still -- there's just something about the place that still draws me. If circumstances ever arose that meant a move to Motown for us, I'd be fine with that. I think.

Anyway, I love poking through websites devoted to Detroit. Tonight I came across www.idiotblog.net, somehow via Stupid Evil Bastard (six degrees of link separation or something like that).

The owner of idiotblog is the most amazing photographer. He/she (no bio info, alas, at least not that I could find), let's call the person Idiot since that is what he/she uses, has an eye for ruins and humor and the details that often get lost in mess. On this page, look in particular at the shots of the old Grand River church and then, below that, at the closeups of this amazing mural. If this kind of stuff interests you, be prepared to spend quite a while looking through the archives. I just wish Idiot would post more information about the sites themselves -- some of the ruins, for example, are hauntingly familiar and I wonder if it's because I saw them in their pre-decay days.

When you're ready to move on from idiotblog, take a look at Detroit Yes. I've been visiting this site for years and it's amazing how much stuff is there. I think it used to be called "The Ruins of Detroit," but maybe that's another site. I always get lost here and find things again purely by chance, but the photography is superb. Most of it is sad -- I remember when pollution and grime and the noise of the factories meant job security, health benefits, pensions, either college or a well-paying job after high school for the kids, and maybe a summer cabin Up North. No more.

OUR FORD FOCUS - THE SAGA CONTINUES
Tomorrow we have to go spend $350 $500 on new tires to replace the OEM crap tires that have less than 40,000 miles on them and no tread left. We took it in to Monro for a tune-up and check-up and whatever-up the car needed in preparation for our trek to Michigan (the 22nd -- I need a change of scenery so badly I can just spit. Plus I want to see my folks big time.) The verdict was the front brake pads and rotors needed replacing immediately lest we end up parking in the Sound. The rotors looked like records -- you know, those grooved vinyl discs from the last century. Which Stanley says is a very bad thing. I find it hard to believe the pads had to be replaced yet again (it's only the third or fourth time) but even more so that we had to spend this much money on a repair before it even hits 40K miles. The fuel filter was also replaced so we'll see if the currently pathetic mileage goes back up to what it should be. The mileage started crapping downward after Ford replaced the defective fuel pump during one of the eleventy-seven recalls we've had on this car.

Don't even think about buying a Ford Focus, new or used. Consumer Reports blew it big time on this model.
posted by lee on 08/12/04 at 10:11 PM

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Ohio v. Ducic: injustice files

I watched In the Jury Room over the last couple of evenings. After viewing it, it makes me realize more strongly than ever that Stanley is dead-on when he says "half of all people fall on the left side of the bell curve."

Synopsis:
The State of Ohio says that when Mark Ducic's girlfriend threatened to go to the police about his drug dealing, he gave the woman a lethal drug cocktail, which made her death look like an accidental overdose. Concerned that a friend was going to reveal his secret to the police, Ducic allegedly concocted a similar drug mixture to keep his friend quiet. Defense attorneys John Luskin and Mark Spadaro contend that their client is innocent of the crimes. If the jury finds Ducic guilty of double murder, they will then be asked to decide whether he should be sentenced to death by lethal injection.


The verdict was guilty on both counts of murder, but the jury could not agree on a sentence, leaving it up to the judge. If a jury doesn't find for death, in Ohio, the judge cannot impose the death sentence. So she sentened him to two consecutive life terms.

The most appalling part of watching this was seeing the knee-jerk responses of some of the jurors. The hair salon lady, Cheryl, I guess her name was, had the guy dead by lethal injection before she even heard all of the evidence, such as it was (it was damned poor evidence -- the word of a rich druggie boy against a poor druggie boy, with rich druggie boy taping their druggie conversations like they meant something).

One juror, Carmella, a restaurant owner, tried like hell to hold out. She didn't think Ducic killed his girlfriend. Her assessment of the case was that Ducic is a blowhard, talking drugged-out big talk, which means nothing. And the medical examiner initially ruled that both deaths were garden-variety overdoses, until the DA got a bug up his ass and, for whatever reason, decided to transform this case into a double homicide by playing the ME some bits of the recordings the rich druggie boy made.

Carmella caved, eventually. The judge wouldn't let her leave the case, and the other jurors were relentless. Kind of reminded me of Lord of the Flies. Carmella regrets signing the guilty verdict. In her shoes, I can't say that I wouldn't have caved, but I was disappointed that she did and hope that I wouldn't.

Then there was the student who thinks she knows everything. What an obnoxious, stupid twit. And the lady going "Lawdy me" while playing sheep. And the "nice lady" who wanted everybody to like her. The jury forman, Chuck Whitehill, was an arrogant jerk who thought he was smarter than everyone else in the jury room -- and that attitude came through loud and clear. Maybe he was smarter than the rest, but I didn't see any evidence of it.

The jurors, except for the jury foreman, did not seem to be playing for the camera. You could tell the foreman was because of his labored, patronizing sentence constructions. The judge, however, was another story altogether. She interrupted Ducic, threw the book at him, hectored and lectured him, and went way beyond the bounds of court decorum. Are judgeships in Ohio elective offices? Because it sure seemed as if she was running for re-election. She didn't sound smart enough to be a judge -- she just sounded nasty.

The jury in this case was disgusting. This was no "Twelve Angry Men," where a lone voice holds out for justice. This was an abomination, more so because these people had the ability to take away a person's life. Carmella was the only saving grace, and she wasn't enough.

I'll watch the next couple of cases, and hope to see something that doesn't further justify my disgust with the so-called justice system in this country. I know that I wouldn't want these twelve people deciding my fate. And if Ducic can be convicted for murder based on nothing more than drugged-out big talk, there are a lot more people who will be going to jail for nothing. I guess prosecutor Dan Kasaris doesn't have enough real crime to deal with -- aren't there any real murderers in Ohio? I guess they would be too tough for him to handle.
posted by lee on 08/12/04 at 11:50 AM

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

how to lose a customer forever

A friend was exploring the world of web hosting. He says he knows nothing about it, and it's true. One of his colleagues recommended a company, and that he gave them a call. So he did, and had a long chat with a rep, who assured Stu that he would talk to the software engineers about offering a software service to do something that can't be done via a website. But, no matter, right? If you're a lowly sales rep, get the account and forget about the promises you know are BS.

Stu isn't an idiot, so asked the guy if, before he commits his credit card to AplusNet for eternity, he could get some more answers by having someone who knows a bit more about web hosting give them a call and get some answers. Namely, me. The Rep agreed, and set up an inactive account without requiring a credit card. So far, so good.

An aside: This place doesn't offer anything Stu can't get elsewhere, whether it's any one of a thousand webhosting companies or through us (www.infopulsellc.com). Hosting isn't our main business, but we do offer it and it's a pretty good deal. But I would call AplusNet on the off-chance that there was something more to their service that would easily solve a problem for Stu ... you know, standard customer service stuff. Besides which, he's been a good friend for 20 years and I just want to make sure he's getting the best value for his money, whether we host his site or some other company does.

Then, I get a message from Stu. He's royally pissed off at AplusNet:

First up, a standard "Welcome to Acme Hosting" message.
From: "AplusNet Web Hosting" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: "Stu Jones" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Sent: Monday, August 09, 2004 1:59 PM
Subject: Welcome to Aplus.Net Web Hosting

Dear Stu Jones,
Welcome to Aplus.Net Web Hosting!

Please save this email as it contains important information regarding your account.

Here is your administrative information:

Registration Number: XXX459967549
Username: xxxtnt
Hostname: xxxtnt.web.aplus.net

Your personal Aplus.Net Web Control Panel provides you with powerful multi-plan administration utilities to maintain and update your account. It is located at https://cp.aplus.net.

To find more resources on how to start using your hosting account, please refer to our detailed guide available at http://www.apluskb.com/data/ Shared_Hosting/ Getting_Started%2002.htm

Our online Knowledge Base is available to you at
http://www.apluskb.com.
It contains the answers to questions asked by customers like you. The knowledge base is updated by our engineers on a daily basis.

You can also contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with questions related to your account. Phone support is available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 888-301-2516. If you have billing-related questions, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

To add more services to your account, please call our Sales Department at 877-APLUS-NET (877-275-8763).

Thank you for choosing Aplus.Net!

Younes Aatif
Customer Care Manager

Reasonable, right? However:
From: "Stu Johnston" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: "AplusNet Web Hosting" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Sent: Monday, August 09, 2004 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: Welcome to Aplus.Net Web Hosting

The name is:

Stu Johnston

Please either correct your records, or cease communication immediately and permanently.

Thank you.

Simple enough, right? Correct his name and move on -- would take maybe five minutes, demostrate how quickly you can correct a screw-up. Read on ...

From: "Support" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: "Stu Johnston" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Sent: Monday, August 09, 2004 5:28 PM
Subject: Re: Welcome to Aplus.Net Web Hosting

I'm sorry but I cannot make any changes or divulge any information unless you can verify that you are the account holder by providing the account password or last 4 digits of the credit card on file. You can view or update any of your account information (billing statement,email address, credit card number, billing address, etc...) at http://cp.aplus.net Log in using your registration number and account password and then click on the "my account" tab at the top of the page.

Thank you,
John Salome
Aplus.Net Tech Support
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
888-301-2516

To assist us in tracking your problem, please include all previous correspondence in your emails.

Hmmm, they can't fix one field on an account that hasn't even been activated yet? Password? Is there a password even? Doesn't seem like a lot to ask in order to make someone willing to send you $35 a month for years happy, does it? You know, that little thing called customer service.

Stu's response:
From: "Stu Johnston" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: "Support" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Cc: ; "Lee Fleming" .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Sent: Monday, August 09, 2004 11:47 PM
Subject: Re: Welcome to Aplus.Net Web Hosting

Well, ''support''....

This is very unfortunate.

I spoke just this day with one of your people, Dan Beauchamp (apols for any misspelling). He will confirm this statement; indeed, he provided his direct phone, specifically, 858 320 6639, in aid of my acquiring further information about your company's services. Very helpful chap, very enjoyable conversation.

The account, inactive at present, has the id 'xxxtnt'; a password was not assigned Because I require more information than Mr. Beauchamp was able to provide immediately, we agreed that the account would be activated in some 30-60-90 day timeframe, hence, no credit card # was preferred.

Please understand this, right now -- I don't deal with bureaucrats or morons, save under threat of penalty at law. If you, sir or madam, are too bloody stupid to A) check with your fellow employee and ascertain the accuracy of this message AND the previous one, B) acquire sufficient information as to be able to understand what transpired in our discussion, particularly regarding my acquiring further information, and C) have the simple common courtesy to spell my name correctly after a direct request to do so (never mind the level of incompetence demonstrated by NOT having the name spelled correctly AFTER I expressly spelled it for Mr. Beauchamp), then you're too dumb to breathe unaided, and you may go merrily to hell.

Your next communication with me WILL contain an apology for your being a general ass and dumbshit, else there will be no further communication between us under any circumstance, and, in such case. you are hereby assured on the very best of authority that not only will I not become a client of your company, but I shall spread this communication thread far and wide. This is not a threat; this is a guarantee.

In any event, I daresay your services can be had elsewhere, but it's a VERY strange company indeed that would toss out a (presumable) long-term client by simply and arrogantly refusing to spell his name correctly. I trust you've at least the wit to understand this small point.

If your response to my previous request is your firm's concept of ''support'', I rather suspect you'd be better off manufacturing brassieres for 6-year-old girls.

Johnston out.

Now, I won't even get into how vacant a sales rep has to be to screw up the last name so badly -- this wasn't transposing two letters. But the response to the request for a change was so totally stupid it stuns me. Gone, at least one customer. Gone, probably a lot of potential customers -- Stu does not make idle promises. It would've taken up maybe $20 of employee time to secure at least $420 for a year's worth of hosting -- not to mention all the add-ons for an ecommerce site. So much for the C|Net seal of approval -- now I know how much that is worth to a customer.

Was Stu's response over the top? Maybe. (At least it was witty!) But just think about all those other nervous newbie netrepreneurs out there who just go away after going through the trouble of contacting your business, all because you screwed something up during the initial contact. Or made it impossible to correct a mistake you made. You'll never know about them, or how well your business could be doing with just a little more training in customer support. But maybe APlus.net is just so big they don't care.
posted by lee on 08/10/04 at 11:28 AM

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Monday, August 09, 2004

i don’t know about that ...

Saw this today: Salon.com Life | Poll finds Americans don't mind jury duty
by Gina Holland

Aug. 8, 2004 | People want to serve on juries and would prefer to have jury trials if ever in court, according to a poll that surprised some leaders of the nation's largest lawyers' organization.

Three-quarters of the people surveyed for the American Bar Association disagreed with the notion that jury service is a hardship to be dodged.


I just wonder about the demos of the people tapped for this poll. I think maybe the 60% number might be okay if polling, say, retired folks or the unemployed. Maybe even people stuck in brain-deadening jobs.

I just received my notice for jury duty. For the first time ever, amazingly enough, considering I've been eligible for about 30 years.

While I'm mildly curious about the process, I do NOT want to go.

And I was very GLAD we didn't have a jury in a case we had that went to trial last February (though I wish we would've had a judge with at least an IQ of 100 -- but noooo, we had some early Alzheimer political appointee stashed on the bench to secure him a pension plan. I kid you not. We won the case, but just barely.) Jury trials take more time and money and unless it's for a criminal case, I highly recommend avoiding them if you're paying the legal bills. I doubt the poll question distinguished between civil and criminal trials.

I don't want to go because every day I have to spend in Stamford Superior Court will cost me money. I'm not paid by anyone if I don't work -- one of the not-so-great aspects of being a freelancer. They won't compensate me for expenses because I'm considered self-employed. If I'm unfortunate enough to be called for a trial, if it goes into day six, then I'll get paid a whopping $55 per day. The only reason I'm even going to show up is I really do consider it my duty as a citizen to participate in this process.

But I hope I don't have to. All it will mean for me is very little sleep for the duration since I can't afford not to work. I don't want to have to head out the door at 7:00 am to drive the stupid ten miles to Stamford in order to be there by 8:30 am. Why can't jury selection begin at noon, after traffic has become sane?

I don't want to have to deal with making sure I can hear everything since the courts really don't accomodate people with handicaps: during our trial, the judge's way of compensating for my deafness was having me sit in the jury box near the front -- and even that was barely adequate (not to mention a real pain when I couldn't consult with my attorney.) I'm still angry about that. In retrospect, I should have demanded full accomodation, but I just so wanted to get it over with that I let it go.

If so many people allegedly want to serve on juries, then make it a voluntary process. Solicit volunteers, pay them better, treat jurors like the linchpins of our criminal justice system that they are supposed to be.

I REALLY hope they don't select me for any trial.
posted by lee on 08/09/04 at 09:18 AM

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

now these are movies

These days, after I slap down my nine bucks for a ticket, all I ask of a movie is that I feel like I've been to the movies. I don't expect high art or deep meanings or even anything profound. I do hope for a couple of hours of escape without being jarred out of my absorption by thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, this is just totally stupid."

We went to see I, Robot not too long ago. What a waste product. What a waste of Will Smith, having him reprise his Independence Day role. Then we went to see Kill Bill 2. I didn't like Kill Bill 1 much, but once I've seen the first half, unless it totally smells, I'll go see the second or sequel or prequel or whatever the hell they're calling it these days. KB 1 & 2 weren't worth the three bucks we paid to see it at the Community Theater.

mcpicture.jpegSo, last week, we decided to go see The Manchurian Candidate. I didn't have high expectations for it. But I was amazed -- I loved it! Not perfect, to be sure, but I felt like I'd actually been out to the movies for a change. Meryl Streep was evil! The acting was pretty good, and the story was definitely believable. Nice bit of PhotoShopping there at the end, hey? Did I believe the technology in the movie? Nope. Didn't matter. I believed the premise. Who owns that idiot in the White House, hmm? The only thing that bothered me is that, as least when I was a teacher there, New York City public schools were closed on Election Day. Maybe they're not anymore. But overall the movie was exciting.

Tonight, we went to see another of "those mf'ers messed with my mind" movies, The Bourne Supremacy. It was a great summer movie. Fairly intelligent, for a change, great car chase. I was sorry they killed off Franka Potente's character since I picture.jpgloved her in Bourne Identity and was sorry she wasn't in more of Supremacy. Again, here, it was by no means perfect. I find it kinda hard to believe the CIA would buy that fingerprint on the bomb thing. Oh, wait a minute, we're talking the CIA -- maybe they would ...

And I wish our airport screening was as good as the one in Italy -- imagine flashing an alert in CIA headquarters when someone on some watch list was transmitted to all the airline gates all over the world. Sure. Actually, now that I think about it, there were a lot of weak plot points in the movie. Wouldn't the masterminds of the CIA figure something was up when Bourne used his real passport to go through customs in Naples? So unsubtle even I got it instantly. But it was rollicking good fun. I like Matt Damon, even when he looks a little Frankensteinish because he never smiles. Even when he's on the beach in India with Marie (Franka), not one grin even.

I figured out the Bad Guy early on. And I figured out exactly how it would go down. Not because I read the book -- I did, a LONG time ago. But because it was blatant. But it was still put together well enough to make me not regret the $18 I plunked down for our tickets.

PS: I really liked the typography and the design of the closing credits.
posted by lee on 08/07/04 at 10:34 PM

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