USPS quadruple fail

USPS screwed up part of my son’s birthday. My mother sent him an overnight package, but USPS failed four times:

  1. Took 3 days to deliver the overnight package.
  2. Demanded a signature even though my mother marked the “WAIVER OF SIGNATURE” box and signed appropriately.
  3. Claimed to have left a notice (that I needed to pick up the package personally), but in fact declined to do so.
  4. Never re-notified me that the package was waiting. I finally found out because my mother asked me about it. I was able to call the local post office 2 hours before they would have returned it as undeliverable.

Go to http://usps.gov and check on package EH45 2451 528U S if you want to see this incompetence for yourself.

I say privatize and de-unionize the USPS and let it sink under its own massive debt. And deregulate first class mail delivery. Of course, Democrats will oppose this because government largesse and union intransigence are their job security.

In case you think I’m being vindictive, de-unionization would be the biggest gift we could give the USPS as it would create a competitive advantage over heavily unionized UPS and FedEx.

Party gift bags: who invented that crap?

Every time my son particpates in a birthday party for a daycare classmate, he gets a party bag. Invariably it contains a #2 pencil, erasers, a piece of candy or two, and cheap, plastic junk.

Summary of inevitable outcome:

  • Plastic junk goes in the trash.
  • Bag goes in the trash.
  • We don’t have a pencil sharpener, so pencil goes in the trash.
  • The kid doesn’t use pencils. So we don’t use erasers. So they wander around his room for a couple of days before hitting the trash.
  • Most the time, the candy is nasty and gets trashed.

What purpose do gift bags serve?

So much for “it just works”

I was issued an Apple MacBook Pro at work today. We are about to deploy some Apple servers, and apparently server administration works better if done from a Mac OS X client.

Construction, aesthetics, fit and finish, and design seem more refined than typical PC laptops.

However, after I installed an AirPort update, I ran Safari and then installed iTunes. Safari crashed HARD. I couldn’t even force quit it. Because of that, I couldn’t even restart the computer. It just refused to close out the OS.

So I had to power the thing off by holding down the power button for 5 seconds.

Powering back on, I get this nasty error:

Yeah, that’s right, kernel panic! As in, “you’re gonna reinstall from scratch.”

One hour later I’m back up–after reinstalling from scratch! With some help, I learned how to hold down Option to force the equivalent of pressing F8 in Windows. I erased the old image and installed a whole new OS.

For all of Windows’s faults, Vista has never left me this stranded!

Greenwashing the Green Spot

A nearby gas station called the Green Spot recently opened. The prior owners (when it was a Mobil) had gas prices well above market, so I appreciate that the new owners charge the same for gas as everyone else.

But I had to suspend my gag reflex after reading greenwashing in my local community magazine (pages 24 and 25 of this 19MB PDF–yikes!). According to a quote they got from co-owner Alvaro Garza, “our mission is to reduce our carbon footprint by offering an alternative lifestyle…”

Specific examples of where carbon footprints aren’t being lowered:

  • They sell biodiesel gas, which has several flaws. Even if you could argue that these flaws could someday be resolved, the fact remains that current consumption of biofuels almost certainly causes more harm than good. For example:
    • Several studies show that production and use of biofuels produces more carbon emissions than just burning plain gas. (link)
    • It takes more energy to produce biofuels than they save, which in turn increases carbon emissions, oil importation, and our trade deficit. (link)
    • Biofuel production increases prices of food, starving the poor. (link)
  • They sell organic goods, production of which require more energy (carbon!) and land than conventional foods. (link)
  • The article’s feature picture depicts a Jeep Liberty SUV. In addition to being an iconic member of a gas guzzling class of vehicles, it has the worst or 2nd worst fuel economy in recent Consumer Reports small SUV comparisons. (The diesel raised it from worst to 2nd worst; several gas-engined SUVs with higher overall ratings got better mileage.)

    (This image stolen from Advocate Publishing.)

And it sounds like a lot of what they sell are carb-loaded snacky foods. Ladies and gentlemen, refined carbs are refined carbs. The refined carbs from organic sugar cane and fresh fruit juices make you just as fat and unhealthy (and ultimately requiring more carbon-intensive health care services) as the corn syrup in Coke.

You may think I hate the Green Spot. I don’t. It’s convenient, gas prices are finally fair at that location, and they have neat stuff inside. I want them to succeed.

However, I was brought up in a home where the breadwinner toiled for and was employed by a nonprofit. I work with a couple of nonprofits. I value nonprofits. They deserve our charity; supporting them achieves a higher moral purpose.

I resent when for-profits steal altruism for their own personal gain, and that’s what’s going on with greenwashing the Green Spot. Support the Green Spot where they provide a value to you, but don’t do it because you think you’re fulfilling some higher purpose. You’re not.

American Airlines’s $30 baggage tax: deceptive and dishonest

American Airlines Sucks!American Airlines’s new $30 baggage tax is deceptive and dishonest:

  1. DECEPTION: It’s not $15 as advertised. It’s $15 each way. That’s a whopping $30 tax for the vast majority of passengers.
  2. DISHONEST: It’s not upfront. All costs incurred by the vast majority of passengers should be upfront and non-hidden. Otherwise, it’s much more difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of competitors. Orbitz and Travelocity won’t be able to tell you that American Airlines will cost $30 more than listed. (This is a big reason why service industry loves tips: lets them create an illusion of lower prices.)

In a lengthy missive, AA’s PR chief Tim Wagner claims this is necessary to recoup costs. Sorry, Tim, nothing justifies dishonesty and deception.

My wife and I may both fly this summer. Even though we will be reimbursed, we are doing whatever we can to avoid American Airlines.