United We Stand

So I’ve gotten more than a few questions about my opinion on the whole United debacle. I relented and commented on a few FB friend’s posts regarding it. I say relented because I pretty much avoid FB for anything other than fun chat and dog videos. It has become too toxic and successful discourse is rarely possible anymore. 

Anyway, how do you think I feel? I’m appalled. The idea that a passenger who paid full fare for a ticket can be physically yanked off a plane for overbooking is reprehensible. I don’t care if it was United Express (contracted by United). I don’t care that it was a security official not an actual United employee who did the beating/dragging. I don’t care that it’s in the fine print a paying customer can be booted off a flight for virtually any reason. Greed should not be more important that humans.1  I don’t care about all the reasons why he could have complied. This person paid full-fare to board a plane and fly home. It is not his fault the flight was overbooked out of the misplaced idea that profit is more important than good service. None of that matters. We should all be appalled at the very idea this can be allowed.  And lastly, I don’t care another flight might have been delayed or *gasp* other people might have been inconvenienced. You know what?  Sometimes we get inconvenienced. The world does not revolved around our personal bubble of existence. There were plenty of better ways to handle this. 

Don’t get it bent, I’m not dragging out the lynch mob torch for United just yet. Frankly, I think people are missing the forest for the trees here. This could just as easily have happened on any airline. United just ended up being the unlucky beneficiary. I know many United employees (from the both the old Continental and United) who are very dedicated to their jobs and I’m sure many of them are struggling to fend off drama from both sides right now. And being a long time Southwest customer, I can tell you first hand they routinely kick people off flights. All major airlines have the same or similar policy. The big picture here is how many people feel it was perfectly justified. It was NOT ok. And the fallout witch hunt to demean and degrade the victim aftewards was just as disgusting. When your moral code justifies physically dragging a paying customer of a plane to avoid inconveniencing someone else, perhaps you should re-examine your sense of morality. That is the real tragedy IMO. 

Our society is crumbling around us bit by bit. Greed, anti-intellectualism, and personal indifference are destroying our sense of right and wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it as long as I have breath to say it. The one good thing out of this debacle is the outrage was so bad I’m pretty sure no airline will ever try this again. Maybe we’ll see some good reforms put in place to ensure something we used to take for granted would never happen will actually never happen again. Either way, I’m sure everyone will have forgotten all about it next week when the next faux scandal comes along.  




  1. Notice I said ‘should not be’ vs ‘isn’t. This clearly demonstrates it’s past tense now. []

Cable

Well, my love affair with Wave (formerly Astound) cable is over. We had a great run. I got five good years before it blew out in a spectacular failure. Even sadder, I had no choice but to go back to Comcast (for now). *sigh*

It started this past October with small artifacts in a few channels and ballooned into daily outages of both cable/internet. We’re up to taking bets on the time of day and duration of the daily outages now. We had the great fortune of having it go out during Superbowl half time, only to come back up in very limited quality afterwards. After repeated calls to tech support and the tech supervisor, over 20+ visits inside/outside our unit, I’m throwing in the towel.

And the kicker? I don’t want to leave! I wanted to stay with Wave. They were cheaper and provided more content for the price. I’ve gotten more than a handful of referral discounts as well. I’ve been the poster child of a loyal customer. Now, I’m forced to switch back to Comcast. I’m angry and incredibly disappointed to say the least. Comcast of course tried to tie me into a contract right off the bat. I wasn’t having any of that. Their rates are only slightly cheaper for the first year then balloon back up to the ridiculous price I’ve come to expect.1

My choices are basically a ‘used to be’ a great company w/no expectation of repair and a bad company that will milk every dollar out of me. I’m now seriously pursuing cutting the cord completely. I’ll still need internet but I’m exploring how to get rid of cable. Hulu Plus finally offers a subscription without commercials so I’ll try that until Time Warner kills it off.2 I’m also getting a digital antenna to go back to over the air broadcasts. I’m eye-sight from the broadcast tower so don’t expect too much of a problem getting reception. I’m not sure how my Tivo handles OTA broadcasts but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

By the time TW kills Hulu, I’ll have weaned myself off enough to be ok. I’ll buy a la cart for HBO, Google+, & Amazon for the rest of the shows Iike to watch. I’m so over it I’m completely willing to do without in the long haul if I have to.




  1. A full $50 higher than my Wave rate []
  2. They are trying to buy a majority stake in Hulu and have made it clear they plan on gutting it. []

Free

Are you sitting down? Are you sure?!

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For the first time in over 15 years, yours truly is 100% debt free! Yes, you read it right, debt free!

I can’t even tell you have good it feels to be out from under my debt load. I came close once about 10 years ago but this time I made it all the way. I had to sell the land my dad left me to do it,1 but I finally did it. Back when I got close last time, I said I wouldn’t get into debt again. Well, easier said than done. I got way behind for a variety of very valid reasons. I say valid to clarify I wasn’t going on shopping sprees.

I mentioned a while back I got a consolidation loan from my credit union. That helped on the interest a lot, but I still wanted out of it. My brother reached out to me at just the right time to inquire if I’d be willing to sell my share of the land to his son. Fast forward, a few months and the paperwork is complete, money transferred, and my bills are all paid off.

But wait! There’s more! I also recently caught up on 6 years of back income taxes. And, I’m getting money back! I know, I know, your saying "Moby, how the hell did you get behind 6 years of IRS taxes?" Well, it is a long story and we can save that nut and crack it open on a rainy day. I also procrastinated the last couple years more than anything. I was afraid I’d get hammered and so kept putting it off. I didn’t want Shawn to be tied to anything like that in the future so I finally bit the bullet and booked an appointment to get the bad news. I went to a local H&R Block office prepared for the worst. I just knew I was gonna walk out owing thousands of dollars. It didn’t help that a series of errors had already delayed the appointment several times.2 I was beginning to worry even more as if the universe was sending me a signal.

Let me just tell you Jim from H&R Block really saved my bacon! He wasn’t judgy or rude. He was actually an absolute dream to deal with and put me at ease almost immediately. He said it happens a lot and I shouldn’t beat myself up over it. He then spent the next 3 1/2 hours helping me find deductions I didn’t realize I could deduct. They really do try to get you a refund. lol We had a lot of time to chit chat and I discovered he’d been doing taxes for H&R Block for just over 30 years. (Actually, all 3 of the tax preparers were all easily in their 60’s). He went thru each return methodically and never once made me feel like I was wasting his time.

Even after forking over a hefty payment, I’m getting a nice fat check back! (Six years, state and federal, 12 returns) I walked out emotionally exhausted. lol Needless to say, I’ll be booking with Jim for my 2015 taxes. The down side is I’ll get hit hard for cash I got from the land sale. Luckily, I work in a job where I can just crank out some overtime practically whenever I want. (We are always short staffed)

Annyyyyyway, I can’t express the absolute joy in being debt free. Now maybe I cant start putting money toward my future. (And hopefully a home)




  1. I sold it to my nephew []
  2. Including the original guy I booked with died! []

Moved

You didn’t even notice it but I switched my domain manager and web host recently. Actually, I switched last month. After my rant about my old host, I got several emails asking why I was still with them. I started asking myself the same question. They weren’t bad, we just weren’t a good fit. 

I guess after my 1 and 1 disaster, I had extremely low expectations. hehehe  After some searching, I settled on InMotion. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am with the switch. As happy as I was to be away from 1 and 1, I’m that much happier to have a host I feel is a really good fit. First, they deal a lot with WordPress, so can answer many related questions w/o delay. They also offered a discount on my first year of service so ended up cheaper than my previous host. After the first year, they’ll be pretty much the same price. They also offer 24/7 tech support by phone, web chat, an email. They transferred all my existing data, blog included, for free. I was a bit shocked when I read that part. They even transferred existing emails.1  I’ve never had a host do that! I had a tiny snafu with an internal domain configuration and they fixed it on the spot when I called.

Speaking of domains, I decided to have Google+ manage my actual domains. I transferred all but one from Tucows and the process was pretty easy. The Google+ domain management tool is pretty easy. They even offer email forwarding for domain only accounts. Email for a domain usually requires a host to physically store it. Google+ apparently allows you to create forwarders for no extra charge.

So, I’m all settled with the new host and so far extremely happy. 




  1. I always use IMAP instead of POP3 so had plenty of emails on the server. []

PSA: Retailers

​Here is a PSA to retailers. I get it that you want to maintain contact w/your new and existing clients who shop your websites. It is awesome that you wish to maintain a connection to your shoppers.

What is not awesome is when you bombard your perspective new clients with daily and weekly emails trying to sell your wares. Even worse, when I unsubscribe from your emails, you continue to send them with a message, “oh it might take days or weeks to unsubscribe.” You ain’t fooling no one.

And when you tell me, “we do not sell or give away your email”, you are a liar! I know because I routinely use fake email accounts with your business name @ my domain. Since I have a catch-all account for emails randomly sent to anything @ mydomain I can see how many times you sell my data.

/rant

Delish

image

I sometimes stop by Delish for lunch when I neglect to bring food or am too lazy to prepare some. The other day I opted to have my sandwich there. Being somewhat a creature of habit these days, I got the same thing I always get, the grilled pesto chicken pannini. I ran off and left my wallet sitting in my chair.1 and someone was kind of enough to turn it in.

I freak out about an hour later, call, they have it, I run back by. One of the employees had gone out of his way to find me and try to get it back to me. Sadly, I don’t keep any phone number references in my wallet. (Maybe I should?) Anyway, I was touched that in this day and age, there is still some honesty in the world. I had about $60 in cash in the wallet, and it was still there. Not a dollar was missing.2 

So, not only is the food good and the staff friendly, they’re honest! They’ve definitely earned a loyal customer and I am calling the owner so he knows of the good deed!

If you’re local, it’s on Van Ness right next to the somewhat new Phil’s coffee shop. Stop by sometime. Tell’em Moby sent ya!




  1. Don’t ask me how I accomplished that []
  2. Yes, I gave them a fat tip for being so honest. []

Ad

I have a dirty confession to make. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there but seeing so much of it these days, I just felt the need to fess up.

I’m not an ad-clicker. There I said it. I never click on in-app advertisements. I find them a waste of time, rarely if ever, related to my tastes. We hear constantly how ad placement is driven by user meta data and seems to be the ‘golden chalice’ of all the big players out there. I’ve never once clicked on an online ad to buy a product. 

Don’t get me wrong, I see the point but until it gets to a level where the ads are truly relevant to me then I’ll most likely never be an ad-clicker. Using my search results is rarely helpful. Google+ often gets the closest out of them all. I wouldn’t click on a Facebook ad if you paid me. The problem, for me anyway, is the few items I actually search out on the Web are lost in random queries I do all the time. While this might help target ads to me a tiny bit better, it’s like pouring a barrel of food on my plate and then me finding one item out of all of it that I will eat.

IMO companies are too greedy in trying to put ads in front of my eyes. The email lists, the hard sells, the device cookies, are all an attempt to get ads in front of your face. It is pointless to me because it’s just a brute force attack. The moment you click on an ad or go to a referral link, then the real bombardment begins. If you aren’t using a disposable email, you’re in for a real treat. hehehe

Some developers make their living off the ads they push into apps to keep them free. I get it. And for some apps, it’s the only way to go. But for more popular or heavily integrated apps, not having a paid, ad-free version is a deterrent, at least for me.

I don’t mind having sites or companies track my habits, likes, dislikes, etc. Tracking my habits w/o trying to tie it specifically to me as a person is the way to go if you want me to click. IMO this is why Google+ will continue to dominate the ad market. They are pushing heavy into this and less on specifically targeting you vs your online presence. If companies really want to find the ‘sweet spot’, they need to continue tweaking their ability to be very specific without constantly trying to bombard me with any and every ad possible. Then, and only then, will I ever consider clicking on ads.

Service

20130615_172954_Hancock StAnd before you hoes go getting all excited, it ain’t nothing dirty. lol I thought I’d take a moment to send a shout out to Reebok.

See I decided to treat myself a while back and order some custom color shoes. The picture you see is the end result, of which I am extremely happy with.

As is bound to happen, there was a hiccup along the way. Apparently, when you ship via FedEx, you can’t ship to a PO Box. Well, nothing on the website said as much, no errors were generated, etc so I proceeded as planned. I got a tracking number for my package and all was good.

Four weeks goes by and no package. Delivery was projected at ‘3-5 weeks’. I pull up my tracking number and was surprised my package had been delivered! Even more bizarre, it was delivered to an address in Massachusetts. I’m thinking they just gave me the wrong tracking number. I call up and it was my tracking number. Since they don’t ship to PO Boxes, it got sent to their main US distribution center, which in turn popped it into the regular mail.

You can imagine my frustration at this point. One, my packaged had to be remailed after I paid for FedEx shipping. Two, why didn’t they just have their site setup to prevent such snafus or at the very least warn you. The rep was very nice and apologized and explained my order had been reshipped and should be arriving soon. At this point, I’m disappointed and not really impressed with their company.

I hang up and about 5 minutes later the rep actually calls me back. This by itself was a huge surprise. When does a company ever call the customer anymore? The girl explained that since it was their fault with the shipping options and I was about to go over my 5 week window that she was going to refund my shipping charge. I was very gracious and thanked her profusely for the consideration and call back.

Having never had any direct interaction with Reebok as a company, this left me with a very positive view of them as a whole. I don’t know if this is they’re standing policy or if the rep just went above and beyond to make a customer happy. Either way, as a first time customer, I came away with a good impression and a willingness to become a repeat customer. You just don’t see this anymore. Reebok is a global brand and to see this type of attention to customer satisfaction was refreshing and totally unexpected. I guess years of shitty service from companies has conditioned med to expect the worst. It is nice to discover not all big companies totally bail on customer satisfaction. So here’s a shout out to Reebok for getting it right!

Dirty

And it’s nothing like what you’re thinking. Get out of my gutter already! hehehe

No, I’m referring to my dust-bowl of an apartment. It is no secret I hate doing household chores. Don’t get me wrong, the day to day stuff is no problem. Between the roomie and I, the bulk gets done. It’s the dusting, wiping, and randomly needed cleaning that I fail at so miserably. Some of the less-used surfaces routinely develop a nice coat of dust. Ugh!

I’m caught up enough financially I can start looking for maid service again. For some reason, I can’t reach my old crew and I sure wish I could find them. They were perfect.

Cleaning services aren’t that pricey compared to previous years. And while it will be a slight drain on my wallet, the well-being I get from knowing the apt is getting cleaned and dusted regularly will off-set that in a major way! Any locals reading this, if you know a good crew, I’m taking recommendations. Preferably a mom/pop style vs big company.

Ban v.20

So looks like the nudity ban held up in court. I would have been surprised if it hadn’t. It was carefully worded. It is a shame we ended up with this law on the books but now maybe we can all move past it.1  I never supported the ban on it’s surface but I also never supported the so called nudists. Legislating personal behavior is a tricky and dangerous slope. However, I can tolerate it because it strives to strike what I believe to be a fair balance. 

It is truly unfortunate a selfish few had to ruin it for all. And yes, I say selfish because that is exactly what it was. Regardless of my theories on nudity, it is selfish anytime you decide your wants are more important than everyone else’s. The cognitive dissonance regarding the whole ordeal has sparked a post of it’s very own. (forthcoming)  But I do truly hope we can all move past it now. For something so silly, it sparked a lot of debate within the community. I wish we put half the energies invested in all this towards dealing with the homeless, skyrocketing rents, MUNI, etc. The Castro, as a gay neighborhood, is dying a slow death. It’s being strangled by greed, selfishness, and gentrification. The latter being totally unavoidable but as a whole I think the “Castro” as a gay hood will be gone in 10 years. Local businesses cannot afford rents and the neighborhood seems dead set on preventing anyone who might be a chain from opening. So spaces sit empty collecting yet more homeless encampments.

Anyway, if you really think about it, the ban pretty much maintains the status quo before all this started. You can still expose your buttocks pretty much anywhere. You can still go nude at beaches, fairs, events, parks (to a degree), etc. You just can’t park your butt in the hub of the neighborhood naked anymore. This is where we were before these guys decided to push the boundaries. I do not believe, as some have stated, that SF is becoming conservative or fascist. That is all lip service for “I didn’t get my way so I’m gonna call you names.”  SF is still a wonderfully progressive city in so many ways.

On a side rant, unfortunately, SF is facing an identity crisis. It has moved beyond a “small town” to a thriving city and the attitudes and approach to managing it are still stuck in the days of old. If SF is going to truly thrive and remain diverse, it needs to move away from viewing itself a small city and start managing itself as the city that it is.




  1. I’m sure some won’t and will lament even louder about how fascist SF has become. Seriously, just think about that for a moment. []