Thursday, April 30, 2009

Modern Conundrums

Looks like I will not be able to resolve a conflict between not wanting to join in with the modern"throw-away" society and not wanting to waste money. I have a really great pocket size Leatherman-type tool that someone gave me; one of the things that folds away is a tiny flashlight. The guy who gave it to me bought a dozen or so real cheap, and it's clear now what the reason might be: after practically no use at all the flashlight no longer works! To make a long story short, went to Radio Shack [which btw always seems to have any battery you can dream up] and discovered that to replace the 4 tiny batteries inside, it would cost me $20. I can buy a new tool for $10 at a hardware store.

Modern times indeed. I can't make myself into a fool that would buy batteries that cost more than a new tool, nor can I make myself buy a new tool when I have a perfectly good old one that just needs batteries.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whatever Happened to Epidemics

The buzzword now seems to be Pandemic, not just amongst the media but also at WHO. Seems to me there should be an Epidemic stage before there is a Pandemic stage, so this has me wondering if WHO is into fear-mongering too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ponzi Schemes Popping Up All Over

Current conditions are sure smoking out Ponzi schemes. The Dreier case is pretty interesting, but pretty involved. Amazingly brazen. A link to an article is below.

From the article:

There is an unfortunate optical illusion - a variant on the Doppler effect - that besets all frauds. It's unfortunate, because it has the effect of exacerbating the pecuniary losses that fraud victims endure, by unfairly leaving them, like many rape victims, irrationally ashamed of themselves.

The Doppler principle we posit holds that as a victim approaches a swindler, he sees nothing but green lights. But as soon as he realizes that his money is gone, he spins around and beholds, as if by magic, bright red flags as far as the eye can see

Marc Dreier

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Ultimate Leading Indicator Still Lagging

Whenever I hear someone lamenting poor service directly related to ill-suited or poorly trained employees, I think: "nope, so far this recession hasn't impressed me." Maybe this is just a local effect, but what I expect to see if things get really bad is people who don't deserve to have jobs being replaced by more qualified people. Not much sign of that yet in our area let me tell you.

Bear in mind, because of my line of work, I react to customer service very mercurially, going from Mr. Tolerant [sympathizing with someone having to deal with the public] to Mr. Irate [outraged from close knowledge about how you are supposed to act].

Another personal incident today to report; our local Bradlee Shopping Center has managed to post a 6th store that I avoid as much as I possibly can. This is a shame because the shopping center is very close to our house [altho a 7th reason I avoid it is the awful experience of trying to park there].

Lemme see:

*The Post Office did not have a certain type of permit I needed; long story but bottom line is you have to wonder what other thing it is they don't have. First class stamps?
Category: avoid to keep from wasting time.

*The Hallmark store, huge for such a place, is full of junk and doesn't have good cards.
Category: avoid to keep from wasting time.

*The Giant grocery consistently does not have certain staples, capable of running out of eggs and things like that. Once I was going to have to wait to check out so that an employee could hold up the line and go and argue with her boss about whether her company debit card should have zero funds or not. I walked out.
Category: avoid to keep from wasting time.

*The ABC liquor store overcharged me, and when
, belatedly realizing the error, I went back with my receipt, wouldn't fix it.
Category: avoid to keep from being overcharged.

*The Gourmet Wine, etc, shop stepped all over our interest in a little program they had to special order oysters, reacting to questions about it like W.C. Fields with a child: "go away, boy, you bother me." At some point he shoved his business card at us. I'm not sure what he was thinking but he couldn't have been
totally unaware that we would take this as further avoidance. He was the owner.
Category: Some people run their own business because no one would ever hire them. No one should shop with them either, certainly I don't.

*The new incident: I stopped at the pet store today to pick up an item Sue wanted for our cat. What I picked out possibly wasn't the right thing, so I asked the clerk if I could return it if my wife didn't like it. This sixteen-looking person said "OK" but I noticed she acted odd about it, a neck wag or something, so I asked what the store's return policy was. She said they didn't have one. I replied "you just said 'OK' " but got another inappropriate gesture. It occurred to me she didn't know what a return policy was, since it is not possible that the store doesn't have one. I'm picturing that if she isn't there when I returned, someone is going to give me a hard time trying to return a purchase. Still trying to be nice, I suggested the manager would be the one to know. She claimed to be a manager and at that point actually said "what can I help you with?" as if she had no memory of the last 2 minutes. It was time to leave.
Category: do not expect sanity at this store unless the recession continues and other people are hired. Surely this person would not have a job if management, which could not possibly include her in any meaningful way, had any choices whatsoever about who they might hire.

Well, in as much as I'm trying to save the planet, I'm afraid I'm burning up plenty of fossil fuels avoiding our local little shopping center. I'm sorry but some sacrifices are beyond what I can do, life is too short to shop at Bradlee Shopping Center.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eisenhower saw it coming

Usually my nephew Aaron is all over this kind of thing, must have caught him napping this time?