Friday, June 30, 2006

Adventures in Customer Service - Vol. 4

You may all recall back in March my attempts at getting the Chicago Sun-Times to stop billing me after I had canceled my newspaper subscription. If you don't remember, here's the short (actually, it's pretty long) version:

I canceled my newspaper subscription in January of this year. However, they continued to deliver it to my house every morning. I didn't think anything of it; I just figured I'd be getting a free newspaper for a while until the delivery person discovered his/her error.

Not the case.

In February, I received a bill for $14. There was no way I was paying that, so I called Mary at their service line to complain. She agreed with me, said she'd take care of it and told me not to send in any payment.

But she didn't take care of it. After that call, I still continued to get a newspaper delivered. And of course, in March, I received another bill, this time for $28. I called the service line again and this time, I got Armando. I went through my whole story again for him, he said he had no records of me canceling in January, and no records of me speaking with Mary the previous month. Of course not. Then he asked if I had Mary's last name. I didn't. Then I asked for his last name and I promise you, this was his response. "Oh, we don't give last names."

Process that in your brain.

Anyway, he said he'd cancel my subscription (yeah right), but I'd still be responsible for the $28 because I had been getting the paper delivered that whole time. I told him he must be crazy or on crack if he thought he'd be getting $28 from me. He said he was neither crazy nor on crack. I told him I didn't believe him.

Fast forward 1 month. I received a collection notice from Biehl and Biehl (it sounds like a law firm, but it's actually just a group of chimps with a word processor and some letterhead). I went through my spiel for some guy named Nick White. He said "you're complaining over $28 and you've been getting the paper this whole time?" I contemplated giving him a lesson in economics, but instead, I said a few curse words and asked for his boss. He transferred me to David (again, no last name).

Finally, a man willing to help. David said "you're right, I wouldn't pay that either", then told me I'd never hear from Biehl and Biehl again. I asked if he had any suggestions on how to get this straighted out with the Sun-Times since I was still, to that day, getting a newspaper delivered. He said all I could do was to try calling them again.

This was in mid-April. As of this morning, I am still getting a newspaper delivered daily. By my estimation, I have received about $70 in free newspapers.

Unless of course I have a gi-normous bill in my future. I'll keep you posted.

The Palehose Six

If you haven't checked out the adventures of the crew of The Palehose Six, be sure to click here. If you've never been to that blog before, its a very interesting take on the World Champion Chicago White Sox as told thru the ingenius pen of cartoonist Carl Skanberg. Every White Sox fan should have it bookmarked (or if you're too lazy for that or if you don't know how to bookmark, I've added it to the menu on the right side of this page).

His strip appears regularly in the Daily Southtown newspaper. Today's strip is especially hilarious as the crew visits their intra-city rivals to the north.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A ton of backside....I mean upside

A quote from Knicks GM/Coach Isiah Thomas before the NBA Draft last night: “I stand here before you in all honesty and still say I would rather have Eddy Curry than any player in this draft and every GM would take Eddy Curry in this draft. So would I. Had we had the second pick, I would've traded the second pick in the draft for Eddy Curry.”

This got me thinking. What if Eddy Curry WAS in this draft, and the Knicks had the 2nd pick and he was available? I think the commentary would have went something like this:

"Eddy has some upside. He’s a little old (23) for a rookie, but he's big, he can clog the middle, and he can post up. Defensively, he's slow-footed and has trouble rotating; NBA coaches will exploit that. He also looks lost on the court sometimes, people question his overall basketball IQ, and he has trouble maintaining proper fitness. Oh, and he has that scary heart problem and could potentially die on the court at any moment.”

Eddy Curry - DePaul
Needs to improve - heart

You're right Isiah. That's the safe pick.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Adventures in Customer Service - Vol. 3

A few of us decided to go out to lunch today. Applebees is always a safe choice. Cheap, good food, decent service. We had no reason to expect what we were in for, or rather what I was in for.

Our waitress brought us our drinks, two diets and a regular Coke (and someone else's Mountain Dew). Doug got his Coke without incident but as she unloaded the beverages from her tray, disaster struck. First, she put my diet on the table but as she was handing Angie her pop, it slipped out of her hand and spilled in my lap. When she tried to catch it, the mystery Dew rolled off her tray knocking into my diet sending both of them into my lap as well. I was now drenched with three full glasses of pop (and an ice cube in my shoe).

We soaked up as much of it as we could with about a hundred napkins and remarkably, my pants (Old Navy khakis) sustained minimal stains. The liquid rolled off them pretty well but I was still pretty wet. All in all, not exactly the way I wanted to spend my lunch hour, but it really could have been worse.

The waitress was horrified at her mistake. I really felt bad for her. It could have happened to anyone. You could tell she was embarrassed when she told us, "if you guys just wanted to leave I'd totally understand." I was a bit uncomfortable, really sticky, but it wasn't so bad that we had to leave. Something tells me she probably wanted us to leave out of shame but we decided to stick it out. I ordered the Oriental Chicken Roll Up (as usual).

The family on the next table over witnessed the entire thing and about 20 minutes after it happened, the 5 or 6-year old leaned over to me and said, "Don't spill any more drinks!" Thanks, kid! That made me feel much better.

The manager came over and apologized for the spill and told us that "something" would be taken off our bill. When we all got our checks, they were all full price. I grabbed the manager as he walked by and told him that wouldn't do. He brought them back with $3 off all of our meals. Wow. I felt better. Doug and Angie were just happy to have anything off since they both managed to escape the soda-typhoon without a drop on them anyway. So as they left, I stopped the manager again and told him I didn't expect to be charged anything since I was now going to have to run home and shower and change. He had no choice but to agree and he took everything off the bill.

And who says there is no such thing as a free lunch?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Are you a fan of Brocktoon?

Bob Uecker was in the news recently to get a restraining order against a woman who has been stalking him. She was quite the anti-looker. You ever notice that celebrity stalkers are never good looking? I think I know why. Good-looking stalkers don't get reported.

Think about it. If you're a celebrity and you have a hot woman stalking you outside your house, you're not going to turn her away. You're going to invite her in. Because if there's one thing better than a hot woman, it's a hot woman who's crazy.

I guess the fun isn't worth the drama when you're dealing with an uggo.

Wanna join my club? We got candy.

Last night and today, we've been bombarded with information about an alleged terror plot on Miami and Chicago. But the more I read about this, the more I'm reminded of Wag the Dog. Let me say this: if this plot WAS real, I would like to meet these bumbling conspirators, because they were about as inconspicuous as a rash on my face.

Their hideout was a warehouse in a rough area of Miami. They came out at night to exercise. They stood guard outside the doors of their warehouse. They tried to "recruit" (yes, this was the word used by their neighbor who was interviewed) different neighbors to join their organization. And they sometimes covered their faces.

If this was a Zucker brothers movie, they'd have "terrorist" written on the front of their shirts.

The FBI source said the alleged conspirators were trying to collect information about the Sears Tower, and that they had no apparent ties to al-Qaida. However, the source didn't know what type of explosives they planned on using. WHAT?!?!?! How do you know who they are or aren't associated with and what they plan to do, but not how they planned on doing it? It all seems made up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More [bleep] from our favorite [bleep]

Freedom of speech does not equate to being allowed to say anything you want at any time without repercussions. Ozzie Guillen never learned that. He can say that Jay Mariotti is a fag (and he's probably right), and freedom of speech will protect him from being arrested for it. However, MLB has a responsibility to protect itself from being embarrassed, and this particular comment was embarrassing to Ozzie, embarrassing to the White Sox, and embarrassing to MLB.

So yes, Ozzie should be fined and suspended for a game or two.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Can I be a lug?

What does one need to do to reach "lug" status? Can one only be a BIG lug? Is there such thing as a medium or even junior sized lug? Much like all Rodney Dangerfield ever wanted was one of these, I just want to be someone's lug.

Or do I? What is a lug? I've heard it used as a verb too. To lug something. "Billy helped me lug all my turkey legs to the Renaissance Fair." Maybe I just need a medical dictionary. "If a patient gets difficult, you lug 'em!"

Ok I just looked it up. A lug is a "clumsy fool; a blockhead." So basically we're just letting anything be a term of endearment now? "I just got back from visiting my old piano teacher, that tramp!" Oh yeah, that works! Maybe Frank Sinatra was on to something.

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God wanted me to win, not those other guys

If you selected Dwyane Wade in the pool for "player most likely to thank God" after the NBA Finals, you win. I lost for selecting Gary Payton, but I feel I was robbed by ABC because he was barely interviewed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Birdfeeder or Bong?

It's time for everyone's favorite game... Birdfeeder or Bong, the game where you have to decide if the picture shown is for feeding birds or for recreational drug use.

Image number 1

If you guessed "birdfeeder" you are correct!

Image number 2

You're correct. This is a bong.

Image number 3

If you guess birdfeeder, I'm sorry, you're wrong. That's a bong... and those birds are stoned out of their minds!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Phil Mickelson's got nothing on me

What is it about Greg and Brian’s family and golf? Jill's family was kind enough to invite me to their annual Father’s Day golf outing on Saturday. But the only “outing” for me was that they learned what kind of golfer I am. I won’t bore you with my score, but at one point on the 11th hole, after chipping from the rough and failing to get out, taking a drop, then shooting it right back into the rough, Tom said to me, “you know, if this was boxing, the ref would have stopped the fight by now”. I feel this was the perfect quote to sum up my day.

But I can’t say that I’m disappointed. This is what comes from being born into my family. We love to golf; we just suck at it. We are to golf what Elaine Benes is to dancing.

All I can say is thank goodness for Miller Lite.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So far, a very productive Friday

One hen.

One hen. Two ducks.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt. Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic, old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth.

One hen. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oysters. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt. Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic, old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth. Ten lyrical, spherical diabolical denizens of the deep who hall stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.

In case you were wondering.

Talk to the hand

Sometimes when I’m on the phone at work, I’ll notice myself talking with my hands. But I’ll notice it mid-sentence, so rather than concentrating on finishing my point, my brain will start to focus on the fact that I’m moving my hands. By the time I’m finished talking, I will have had no idea what I just said.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

T to the K

The Keeper of My Heart

You held all my pencils, colored and number two.
My ruler even had holes made just for you.
The sound of your velcro echos in my memory...
A day more innocent... more free...
Free like the loose leaf you saved from slushy boots on the floor of the bus.
My three-ringed friend, nothing will ever come between us.

More ESPN fodder

For whatever reason, it has become popular for the "talking heads" of ESPN to shout at each other in order to drive their point home. I blame Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon for starting this trend. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, they're the only 2 people I can stand that do this. But what I can't understand is why the higher-ups at ESPN insist on feeding us programming that makes it less enjoyable for fans to watch and follow sports. Isn't this bad biz? If I owned a restaurant, would it make sense for me to hire a food critic to come in and yell at my customers about how bad my food is? I don't think so.

With shows like Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn, and any show that has Stephen A. Smith on it, we're forced to listen to a bunch of blow-hard sports columnists yelling at each other. And I love how with each one of these columnists, they have the ego to think that their opinion is always the right one. Personally, I can be swayed with a good argument, but these guys insist on sticking to their guns. Just once, I'd like to hear Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn say something like "you know what Woody [Paige], you're right. I change my mind."

Of course that could never happen. Woody has never been right about anything. And yes, I know this for a fact and I will not budge.

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The Worldwide Leader?

One of my “must-reads” every day are the live chats. But there are only a couple of columnists who are good at it (Rob Neyer, Bill Simmons). The rest come across as if they are sitting in on an uncomfortable job interview. I implore you to read one of Joe Morgan’s chats. Most of the time, he doesn’t even answer the question. Consider the following exchange between Joe and Kalani from Hawaii:

Kalani (Mililani, HI): I've heard rumors from Dontrelle to Greg Maddux and Alfonso Soriano. What do you feel the Dodgers need to do before the trade deadline to be taken as a serious contender?

Joe Morgan: Right now they are getting buy (sic) with many young players contributing. They should be in good shape as they have some good veteran players and veteran leadership

In other words, they are getting by (whatever that means) because their players are contributing. Great job Joe, I’m sure Kalani feels better now. In related news, the Tigers are winning because they continue to score more runs than their opponent. Did he even answer the question? Kalani wanted to know what trades the Dodgers would have to make to be a contender. He mentions nobody, but instead implies that they’re already a contender (I think) because of something arbitrary that cannot be proven (veteran leadership). Can ANYONE get a job with ESPN these days?

Monday, June 12, 2006

78 degrees

That's what the thermostat is set to in my office right now. 78 degrees. I know because it's right outside my cubicle. Someone will come over in a few minutes to put it back down to around 66. Then we'll hear the AC kick in and then someone else will come by and "beep beep beep", it will be back to 78. This goes on all day. At the moment, I'm sweating more than a Greek guy at a sheep auction.

I don't even know who it is that changes it. I have my suspicions but I really don't even care. All I know is that it changes temperatures in here so frequently, I feel menopausal. Come to think of it, maybe I am. That would explain the mood swings and the osteoporosis.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

You know..............

........that it’s time to hit the gym when:
- The lady at the Dunkin Donuts sees you and says “the usual?”
- You need an oscillating fan for your desk at work.
- You’re too tired to actually go to the gym.
- You’re out of breath, but you weren’t running, carrying something heavy, or have asthma.
- You have to poke a new hole at the very tip of your belt.
- You had to move your driver’s seat back, but you didn’t get any taller.
- Your Hawaiian Honeymoon is approaching, and you know you’ll have to take your shirt off.
- That Wendy’s double-cheeseburger just wasn’t enough, so you went for the triple.
- You read that last one, but didn’t puke in your mouth a little bit.
- You got sunburned on the top of your stomach.

........that you’re getting old when:
- You’re watching the weather channel, but it’s not by accident.
- Your muscles are sore, but you didn’t do anything.
- You complain to people about how bad the traffic is on your way to work.
- You don’t go out on weeknights anymore (bonus here if it’s because your favorite show is on that night).
- You prefer talk radio, and turn the station whenever they take a break to play a song.
- You look forward to the weekend, but it’s because you need to get caught up on your yard work.
- You get mad when the neighborhood kids are still outside past 10.
- You get mad when someone calls you past 10.
- You get mad if you’re not in bed and it’s past 10.
- Your car has 4 doors “because it’s more practical”.
- Adam Sandler has a new movie out, but you’re not interested.
- You prefer matinee’s because it’s less noisy.
- You use a pool to relax.

I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello

Sometimes when I get home from work, my next door neighbor (the Mrs.) will be outside in the yard playing with her kids, so I’ll walk on over to say hello. It’s always a pleasant conversation (How have your days been since the kids got out of school?, We should get together to barbeque, etc), but for some reason, we always exchange awkward goodbyes. For instance, for some reason, we’ll say goodbye to each other at the same time, then we’ll have to say it again, and again we’ll say it at the same time. I always manage to walk away feeling stupid. Sometimes she mixes it up. Like the other day, we managed to pull off a flawless “goodbye”, but as I turned to walk away, she said something else. Then I had to turn back around and continue the conversation, but I was thrown off, so the whole thing seemed kind of forced and contrived. I managed to throw in a couple unfunny and awkward jokes along with a few forced smiles, and then we both botched the 2nd goodbye. It was brutal.

Why does this happen? And why does it only happen to me with this lady? I’d be interested to know if she does this to others.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Some blogs literally write themselves

When will people learn what the word "literally" means? In fact, nobody really speaks figuratively anymore (and when I say "nobody", of course I'm speaking figuratively).

You see, all too often you'll hear someone say something like, "I literally wasted my entire day at the Secretary of State's office.... Literally!" Now I'm not calling you a liar, but unless you actually arrived at the SOS office at the break of dawn and didn't leave until Jay Leno was already telling his third joke about Taylor Hicks' hair (Kevin: "Oh that's cold, man!"), then no, you did not LITERALLY spend the entire day at the Secretary of State.

What you did is use a flourish of the English language that some refer to as exaggeration. Then, to excentuate your obvious exaggeration, you told us that it wasn't an exaggeration, but a fact. So, okay, maybe you are a liar. It's ok, it happens to the best of us. But next time you do it, I'm going to have to put a rope around my neck... Literally. I'm literally going to hang myself because you don't know how to speak the language.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Global Hand-Warming

Let me reply if I may to one part of Brian's previous post. He mentioned global warming. According to a report every other day, the world is nearing the so-called "tipping point" of global warming. I guess this means that if we don't mind our Ps and Qs (not to mention our CFC's) its gonna start getting toasty.

I'm not a scientist so I'm not going to get into the facts surrounding it. But let me just say that it seems to me that we've been hearing the same points for about 30 years now. The ice caps are still there and Chicago isn't ocean front property yet.

Maybe the reason all these "environmental experts" like Al Gore feel like its getting warmer is from the friction caused by all their collective hand-wringing?

I'm reminded of the old George Carlin bit where he says that when we talk about saving the Earth, really all we're saying is that we're trying to save ourselves.

"The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?"
Am I advocating that we all go out tonight and burn tires and styrofoam and flush the plastic things that hold 6-packs together down the toilet? No, of course not. But have the facts of global warming ever been open to debate? There are REAL scientists around today who are unwilling to discuss it in the open forum because they'll be immediate ostracized by scientific community because of the faction of advocates that have hijacked the debate.

I do think that as a whole, American society is about as environmental as we're ever going to get. We carpool, we recycle, and when we see freaks on the street, we never stare, but we're also careful not to look away because we want the freaks to feel comfortable.

Anyway, I just don't think that the threat of "global warming" is scary enough to most people. Most Americans live in cold weather climates. Tell Steve Van Der Hoeffen from Fargo that he won't have to shovel 4 feet of snow in a couple years and I doubt ol' Steve will rush out to buy a Prius.

Random questions, thoughts, and observations

If McDonald’s fries are cooked the same way every time, why can I differentiate between good one’s and bad one’s?

Speaking of McDonald’s, why is their fountain Coke better than everyone else’s? And why is KFC’s the worst?

I can’t think of one show on Television that I can relate to on a personal level.

Why did they stop making that big red plastic “bomb” bat?

Is it really all that impossible to find 30 people in the whole world who can consistently kick a football 50 yards and straight?

I keep hearing about Global Warming as a worldwide problem, but I haven’t heard anyone mention a solution for it yet. And no, you’re not taking away my car, so come up with something else.

Why do people say that a clock is slow when it’s actually just behind?

Wouldn’t it have been easier to put a man on the moon than it would have been to come up with a conspiracy that we put a man on the moon?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Maybe next time do a little research

When they were having dinner with the embarassed executive from Geico, did the caveman that ordered the roast duck with the mango salsa actually get to eat even though his caveman friend suddenly didn't have much of an appetite? That must have been awkward for him.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An offense punishable by death

So my cubicle neighbor came in to work today humming the most addictive song. Once it's in your head it will never leave. In fact, now everyone in our department is singing it. Over and over again. The same song. It's not even a good song but the moment I mention what song it is, it will be stuck in your head too. It's not even a song you have to hear sung. Simply the mention of the title would immediately get you humming it out loud. I debate even saying which song it is for fear that you will become so enraged at me for cursing your day that you might never visit this blog again. No I can't do it. It would just be too cruel.

UPDATE: click the image to hear the song

When you know your life has jumped the shark

I despise both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Neither of them brings anything to the table that would either benefit my life or entertain me. So why then do I feel a little sad whenever I read or hear that they're not on speaking terms? What part of my life do I need to re-evaluate? There has to be something, because nobody should care about these two morons. And yet, whenever I hear one of them bad-mouthing the other, for a brief second, I feel kind of sad. Meanwhile, they're driving around in their Bentley's without a care in the world.

I think I need to go outside more.