When Right Is Wrong


It’s normal for me to find things while I’m out running or cycling. Within the past year I’ve found two phones and I happily returned them to their owners, an easy task considering that neither phone was locked and there was a contact labeled Home in both of them.

Easy. The owners even gave me a little something for my trouble when it was no trouble at all.

But last Tuesday, I came across a few things, one of which was rather important.

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Here you see an opened gift bag for Chinese New Year and a wallet. The gift bag was near the sidewalk of my usual rest stop for my BSR (Big Sunday Run of at least 8 miles) and the wallet was about 50 feet away and lying on top of a short cinderblock wall.

When I saw the gift bag I thought, “Hey, pretty cool” and put it in my pocket. What you see here is what was in it: four half-dollars. I figured there’s no way to prove who it belonged to or where it came from so there was no harm in taking it home. It was as I was starting to run again when I saw the wallet.

I looked at it and noticed that the owner’s driver’s license was on top of it along with their medical insurance card, almost as if someone had gone through it. In a standard case I would have just looked up the address and delivered it to them personally but the address on the license was nowhere near me – it was about 100 miles away.

And here’s where the adventure begins. Thinking I was doing the right thing, I put both IDs in the wallet and took it home. That was my mistake.

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Devil Inside


As much as Dave v2.0 tries to stay on the bright and sunny side of things these days, there are still moments when I have to stand back and make sure what I’m hearing or seeing is, in fact, what’s really going on.

Today was one of those days.

Ann has been working at the same place for over 11 years. It’s only a part-time gig since during a majority of those 11 years I was bringing home the proverbial bacon (but not frying it up in the pan). There was really no need for her to work any more hours than those. And during my current stint of unemployment that’s still the case as we have little to no bills to pay, outside of standard living expenses and utilities.

Over the past, I dunno, year or so, Ann’s boss – we’ll call her Debbie – has been somewhat secretive about her plans to buy a new practice. What it meant to everyone at her current office was never made clear as she never told them any concrete plans – but they all seemed to know. This is what happens when your employees also act as secretaries.

Their collective powers of deduction determined that Debbie did indeed buy a new practice and when she was confronted by Ann and a coworker about it, she still denied it.

Then today happens, today being the day that Debbie told the employees that she will be closing their current office by March so that the new purchase would thrive. So this statement confirms that the other office is now under her rule, no?

Nope. Debbie has yet to confirm that she owns it but is already taking cost-cutting measures by way of slashing insurance benefits and telling them hours will be minimal in January.

Debbie is good at what she does. She was also a good boss to work for as was evident by the time people spent under her employ. But this recent acquisition seemed to turn her into an unprofessional, mean, spiteful, devil of a woman who suddenly began to worship The Almighty Dollar rather than do good for her workers.

Then she pulls this little stunt today, leaving everybody high and dry without any reasonable explanation as to what’s going to happen.

She couldn’t have done this at a worse time than now and couldn’t have been more of an egoist about it.

And for that, I we have lost what little respect I we had left for her. I We hope her ego is indeed satisfied, as are the demons fueling her need for more, more, more.

Happy Holidays, Debbie. Sleep well. I We know you will.

Is Amazon Serious About Prime Air?


prime-air_high-resolution01I had to check my calendar when the story first broke yesterday.

Yes, it was the 1st of the month but alas, the month of December not April. Yet I still thought this was a joke.

In case you missed it, Amazon announced that it had tested a new form of package delivery they call PrimeAir which promises to have your package – maximum weight of 5 pounds – at your door within 30 minutes of ordering. Kind of like the Dominos Pizza of online merchandise delivery.

The difference is this: while Dominos relies on a driver’s high-mileage 1999 Toyota Echo to get your bland pizza to your door, Amazon plans to enlist the help of drones (see photo) to carry package. Here’s the video of how it would supposedly work.

And here’s where the problems begin. I’ll go over a list of five things that I immediately thought of when I heard of this gimmick.

Problem 1: Liabilities
Have you ever tried to fly one of these things? My neighbor’s son had an AR Drone and all I remember seeing that thing do was crash into things – and hard. Granted, the ones Amazon shows being used in the video are nothing like the aforementioned models but still, I would imagine controlling one of these things would require patience and a good amount of training in order to have them fly safely.

And take a look at the photo above. Do you see what I see? Something along the lines of exposed rotor blades? Remember that scene from Raiders of the Lost Art when Indy is fighting the guy near the plane? Perhaps things may not get that graphic but all I’ll say is kids and animals can be very curious.

Problem 2: Crazy People
Let’s face it, not everyone is as sane as you or me. So let’s say Amazon ultimately decides that this is a grand idea and rolls it out to a few test markets. Who’s to say that said crazy people wouldn’t take it upon themselves to try and bring the drone down by whatever means possible? Idiots still shine lasers at incoming passenger planes so why wouldn’t they roll the dice and try their luck with a mystery 5-pound package? It could be anything from an iPhone to Q-tips. Then again, the seriously crazy people wouldn’t care about the package as much as they would reeking havoc on a remote controlled flying gizmo. It would be like the head of a trophy buck to them.

Problem 3: Hacking
Like mostly everything these days, a drone is a computer. On top of that, it’s got wireless receivers and transmitters on-board. It’s possible that these things could be hacked and the package delivered to someone other than the intended recipient. While I’m sure GPS will play a huge part in tracking the devices, I’m also quite positive a hacker could make the drone forget where it was last.

Problem 4: Bombs Away
While there is a weight limit to the packages that the drones can deliver, things can still go wrong. Suppose the battery suddenly goes dead or is starting to die and the drone begins to lose its power, the same power that probably controls the arms that hold the package firmly in place. If those arms suddenly begin to grow weak then there goes the little orange box. Watch out below. And hey, who’s to say that the aforementioned hackers wouldn’t do this very thing just for fun? Or what if the drones encounter bad weather that blows them off-course? So, so much that could go wrong.

Problem 5: Is This Even Feasible?
I’m not sure how many distribution centers Amazon has or how many markets they plan to roll this out in but it just doesn’t seem to make economic sense to invest in these delivery drones. We’re talking about delivering packages weighing under 5 pounds here. If someone ordered something they needed in 30 minutes, you can bet it probably wasn’t anything of significant value – or could it be? Either way, it doesn’t make economic sense to me, and that’s not even factoring potential item returns into the equation.

So Amazon, you got us. Your little delivery “innovation” seems like nothing more than a pipe dream or, which is most likely the case with Christmas shopping in full swing, free publicity by generating a buzz that included your name. It could just be nothing more than a commercial for the online merchandising giant.

We’ll see what eventually goes down in a few years but as for me, I just don’t see it happening. And if it does, I’m buying a hardhat.

UPDATE 12/3/13: That didn’t take long. Now UPS is in on the action? When will FedEx and the others join?

When A Bargain Isn’t A Bargain


People love their bargains and we’re no exception.

We’ve used sites like Amazon Local and Groupon to snag some fantastic deals in the past and all of them were handled the way we expected them to be. And the deals are usually comprised of the same formula: get $[retail amount] of merchandise/services/food for $[discounted amount]. Easy.

Past deals I’ve bought have included $40 worth of Restaurant.com credits for $10, $30 towards the purchase of Dodgers tickets for $7, and $5 for a $10 Amazon Gift Card. No doubt they were fantastic deals. You pay a discounted price and get more in return. It’s not a difficult concept.

Then there was today.

Ann had purchased the following deal on some new discount site I’d never heard of called Double Take Deals. Look closely and tell me if it follows the same formula as the rest.

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She figured hey, it’s nearing Christmas and this would be as good a time as any to refresh our decorations and at a bargain price. I mean, this seemed like a great offer so that’s why she bought it:

With this DoubleTake Deal, get festive with $50 of Christmas decorations including wreaths, greens, ornaments, figurines and more for only $25.

So if I read this right, we would get $50 worth of merchandise and only pay $25 for it. Am I right? It’s not that convoluted, is it?

After looking this Barcana place up online (and laughing at what seemed to be a Geocities-hosted website), we headed down there and looked around for a bit. It was our first time there and admittedly, they do have a great selection of decorations, so much so that we had trouble deciding what to buy. In the end, we decided that the tree would have a candy theme this year so we stocked up on candy-related decorations and placed them in the basket.

Once finished, we waited in line to pay and were pretty excited with all the stuff we had found. Ann started off by handing the cashier her Double Take Deals voucher which she would apply once she was done ringing everything up. Our total was $64.30 which, once our $50 was applied, would mean we owed only $14.30. Hey, we made out alright.

“So your new total is $39.30,” the cashier said.

Ann looked puzzled. She glanced over at me and I started to think, “That’s way too much.” Ann then asked her if the discount had been applied.

She went on to explain that the discount had been applied – all $25 of it, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why would I spend $25 on a voucher that I’m going to use myself to only get $25 credit in the store? Isn’t the point of getting such deals is to, well, get more for less? Otherwise, it’s like we just bought $25 in Disney Dollars. This is not how it works.

As we continued to try and explain things to the cashier, she defended her position. Another one even intervened, condescending attitude and all, and spoke to us like we had just fallen off of the turnip truck. This is not how it works.

Here’s a copy of our receipt:

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As you can see, the “check” amount is the applied Double Take Deals amount or the amount we paid for the deal. But as the deal stated on the website:

With this DoubleTake Deal, get festive with $50 of Christmas decorations including wreaths, greens, ornaments, figurines and more for only $25.

After not arguing with the Cashier with an Attitude (there’s no sense fighting with someone like that), I spoke with a man who appeared that he might know what he was doing. He said it was their first time doing this sort of offer and that Double Take Deals had the wording all wrong. I didn’t understand this since it seems as clear as day to me: get $50 for $25. Even the screenshot about reads “Savings 50%.”

So what did they not word properly? The only thing that I could think of is that we’d get $25 off with a minimum $50 purchase which this offer does not state either on the website or voucher nor is that a savings of 50%. This is not how it works.

We feel conned and totally ripped-off by what transpired. Our only recourse is to contact Double Take Deals on Monday and see what they have to say about the matter. I’ve already tweeted my dissatisfaction to them but being their Twitter account was last update in August 2012, I doubt I’ll get a reply.

tweets

If nothing gets done, then we’re out a hypothetical $25 and will never use them again. But even if they do resolve it and we get the extra $25 to spend at Barcana, it will be our last trip there. I have no time for cashiers talking to me as if I don’t understand what’s going on and talking to us like we were idiots. In this day and age of social media you’d think that people would be a little more courteous, otherwise those they were rude to might blog, tweet, Facebook, leave reviews on Fouraquare, etc.

Someone apparently hasn’t learned this lesson and what a huge disappointment this has been. Stay tuned for an update should anything change.

UPDATE 12/2/13: After a few days of emails between Ann and Double Take Deals, Ann was contacted by someone at Barcana who indeed told us that the deal was not done right. She has promised to make things right by issuing a $25 gift certificate.

Job Fairs


I don’t recall where I was coming from or why I was there but one day I came across a huge banner in a nearby city that was advertising their annual Job Fair (or Job Faire if you’re one of those Medieval types).

I haphazardly made a mental note of the date – I don’t jot and drive – and added it to my Google Calendar as soon as I got home so I could have a constant reminder on my PC and phone as to when it was.

Well, today was the day so I put on my Sunday best and headed out to the location.

That’s when I realized how much I dislike these things.

First of all, parking is always an issue even when the economy is thriving. People are always looking for jobs no matter the reason or season but with the way things are these days, there are even more people looking for work (myself included). I ended up parking about a block away, fitting into a space that only a Toyota Yaris would fit into.

I then made the trek to the event where I was greeted by a line of people that stretched out the door. Fortunately, it was moving at a rapid pace so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Once inside, all participants had to sign in at a desk and listen to someone give details on a few forms they were handing out: a survey and postcard, the latter to be filled out and sent if you got a job that day.

And here’s the first issue I have with these events: nobody is actually hiring, per se. Sure, you can distribute your resume and fill out applications nine ways from Sunday but as far as leaving the Job Fair with a wonderful new retail position that will set the world on fire, yeah, that’s not happening. If anything, most of the employers are just a human element that searching online doesn’t provide and in the end, most of them will just hand you a flier with a URL that lists all of their available positions.

In other words, Job Fairs are just a congested way of conducting an online job search. You really are better off staying at home and using your Internet job website of choice. By going to a Job Fair, you’re just using up gas, getting dressed up, and dealing with a ridiculous parking situation and getting very little in return.

And there’s a lot less noise at home as well, unless you listen to Avenged Sevenfold while you job hunt which I may or may not do from time to time. Actually, it would serve me better to do that as opposed to dealing with the constant stream of talking from attendees and potential employers. To give you an idea, here’s what the view was like when I was in line waiting to speak to representatives from Mitsubishi.

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The pitch was such that it really was aggravating my tinnitus. I can handle noise if it’s at the right level but this was a little too much.

As far as the jobs go you have a cornucopia to choose from, most of which are sales, retail, and marketing. And the retail jobs at this time of year are no doubt seasonal so there’s no real hope in applying with any of them. There were also lots of companies I’d never heard of before who were also hiring for sales and marketing (which is obviously why I’d never heard of them). In the end, I spoke with about five companies and applied with only one that billed itself as “the Asian Starbucks” and is doing lots of expanding over the next few years. They were the only one who spoke with me at length and were beyond cordial, as well as the only one who didn’t look at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears when I told them I wanted to leave Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Proofreading. In fact, they were sort of in awe at how someone could spend 40 hours a week doing such a tedious job. I was admired for a moment but who knows what will come of it.

Speaking of proofreaders, nobody likes them. It’s a fact. With the exception of the aforementioned company, every single company rep I spoke with (including Mitsubishi) sort of cringed when I told them I wanted to transition out of said career and into something else. It was akin to saying, “Hi! I have the Black Plague and would love to give it to you as well. Can we shake hands?”

Nobody apparently heard the “I want to transition out of this career” portion of my elevator pitch because they all said that they didn’t have anything in that field.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Oh well.

I spent about an hour meandering the hall in which the event was held and refrained from taking any candy placed on the tables. It was after speaking with Mitsubishi when I decided that a) this totally wasn’t worth the effort and b) maybe I shouldn’t mention that I’m a proofreader to anyone ever again. I’ll think twice before attending another Job Fair and keep on searching online as well as locally.

But the upside of going to a Job Fair?

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You take home lots of craps.

But it’s still not worth it.