Anachostic

Another attempt

Category Archives: Rant

Lightroom Data

When I was migrating all my files from my old hard drives to my new ones, I had a slight issue where my documents and pictures didn’t copy, because of a permissions difference.  When I resolved it, I had to copy the files again.  This also meant I had to wait for them to copy and stare at the progress as it made its way through.

While copying the pictures, I was stunned as it processed the Lightroom folder.  I had tried out Adobe Lightroom a while ago and ended up not using it because it was just too much.  And now I see it was more than “too much” in the application side, it was outrageous in the data side as well.  I don’t remember how many files I had imported into the Lightroom catalog when I was evaluating it and I didn’t really know what was happening in the backend while it was processing.  But what happened was a new folder was created to hold the catalog and preview files.

Those preview files – holy fuck.  When the copy was complete, I had to see for myself what had actually been done.  I checked the properties of the Lightroom folder and was floored by the result.

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28k files and 23k folders!  What the fuck!

It’s not really the size that bothered me.  The thing I didn’t understand was why there are so many files and folders.  And every one is named unintelligibly.  It’s not like you can understand what you are looking at when you dive into those folders.  So why not use some sort of database file instead?  At least then you could get some query functionality out of it.

So it was with great pleasure that I deleted that entire folder.  That’s 50k file entries I don’t have to ever worry about anymore.

UberBastards

I just got a piece of spam mail, to my Uber email address.  I don’t recall saying I was ok with that.

The email is sketchy as fuck.  A company name of “Opinion Research”?  None of the proper CAN-SPAM hallmarks like indicating what email address this was sent to, or why it was sent.  Only because I use unique addresses for every account, do I know this came from my Uber signup.

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The survey is run by Qualtrics, which doesn’t mean much, since they’re just a survey platform, like SurveyMonkey.  This company has their own subdomain, opinionresearch.co1.qualtrics.com, so they’re at least somewhat legit (as legit as it looks so far).

As you see in the email screenshot, I did click to unsubscribe, which I thought would bring me to a page asking if I was sure.  It didn’t, it just took me off that list.  and it gave me another link to unsubscribe from all lists.  ALL lists?  How many have I been put on?

It’s really not a big deal.  If I see that my Uber address suddenly gets spammed, I’ll shut it off and create a new one.  But really, the point is, Uber has sold me out.  Those mother fuckers.

Then, I clicked on the privacy policy.  In bold type, in very simple to understand language:

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No fucking thank you.  Recall what the original email said, “…will not be used to sell you anything.”  However, they will tailor the ads you see to the information you have given to them, then will ask you why they were or were not effective, so they can try harder next time.  What is this world coming to?

As a recent implementer of Pi-Hole (maybe a future post on that), this wouldn’t have worked at all for me anyway because my entire network is actively ad-blocked.  Suck my dick, Opinion Research!

Another Glorious Microsoft Sunset

I remember when Microsoft discontinued Live Spaces, which held my blog.  Obviously, I’ve been happily living in WP Land since them.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued MS Money.  I switched to Quicken and eventually switched back and lived with the limited functionality provided in the sunset edition.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued Zune.  I enjoyed my devices until the point that a Windows 10 update disabled the syncing capability in the Zune software, then they were thrown away.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued the MS Band.  I used it for another year after that and for whatever reason, I just started feeling jaded while wearing it.  It sat on the shelf for months and eventually got thrown out.

It was only a couple of months ago Microsoft decided to discontinue the software that drives the Band.  The hardware is useless without the software, so even if I did still have and want to slap the Band back on, I would have no way to use it.  Along with that discontinuation, they are shutting down HealthVault.  That is a major capitulation.

HealthVault was where the band stored all its data.  It created nice graphs and charts and had the capability to hold all your medical history and data.  It was the data repository for a lot of actual medical devices like scales and glucose meters and heart monitors.  And it’s all going away.  I took a look at my old data before it all disappears.  It looks like my two MS Bands recorded data between 7/17/2015 and 1/28/2018.  All my walks, all my sleeps, some random exercise sessions, and my daily step counts.

And this is something I want to say over and over and over.  FUCK THE CLOUD.  FUCK IT TO HELL.

The fact that you can’t own anything anymore is absolute bullshit.  Let’s look at my history.  Live Spaces was free and it was taken away.  I was able to preserve my data my moving it to WordPress, which is also free and could disappear at any time.  True, but, I can install WordPress on my own web server (and I do have an instance running on my web server!) and it will never go away again.  MS Money was not free and was discontinued.  I was able to keep using it afterwards.  This is how things should be.  MS Band was not free and was taken away.  Microsoft offered refunds to recent Band purchasers, but the point is, the maker should not determine when you will stop using something you paid for.  And all this cloud-powered bullshit, there needs to be an offline version available.  Is there anything that can function anymore without being online??

And this whole, giant, disgusting concept of “it’s free as long as we want to make it available” has got to stop.  It’s only a matter of time before people get burnt enough that they will refuse to use your products at all because it’s a given it will disappear at a random future date.  Make a product, sell the fucking thing, and let people use it.

What Has Brown Done To You?

I mentioned in another post that I was expecting a package and got a solicitor instead.  So, now on to the story of that package.  I was at my computer at around 8:00 and an email came in saying, sorry we missed you.  Your package requires a signature and you weren’t home.  Bull. Shit.  I’ve been here all night.  I went to the front door and there was no post-it saying they had been there.  There was no doorbell ring (and I know it works because, solicitor dude).

I’m buying a box of wire from Amazon.  No shipping notification from either Amazon or UPS said the delivery would require a signature.  Why would a box of speaker wire require an adult signature, anyway?  I think someone ran late and decided to go home for the night.  I’m sure their tracking software doesn’t have an option for “Don’t feel like it”, so the driver flagged it as needing signed and no one home.  All done for the day!

Some part of me is annoyed by this, but another part of me isn’t.  It’s not like I needed that wire tonight.  But what if it was something I needed right away?  And this driver, he’s lying.  I’m not sure what sort of repercussions he could face if I should call him out on it.  He’s human, he’s a lazy American, just like the rest of us, he wants to go home after probably a 12-hr day.  And I can’t fault a person for not working hard at their job.  I’m a lot of things, but not a hypocrite.

Here’s how that one progressed.

I went to UPS’s site and changed the delivery to go to my nearby UPS Store.  I chose this for a couple of reasons.  If they were correct about the delivery needing a signature, I didn’t want to miss out again.  If they were lying about needing a signature, I wanted a person to confront about it.  I submitted the change and stewed about the situation for the night.

I had plenty of time to stew.  The missed delivery happened on Tuesday.  I got no notifications and the tracking showed no movement for the rest of the week.  The next Monday, I stopped by the UPS service center and asked if they could find my package.  The manager there took my phone number and said he’d call me with an update.  I told him, “I don’t care if it comes to the house, the UPS Store, or here.  I’ll get it.”  Oh, and I did ask about the signature required.  He said that the package probably came back and was scanned incorrectly.  So I guess, there is no commitment to deliver everything on the truck for the day.  Huh.

I did get a call later from the UPS manager who said the package could not be found and I would need to call the corporate office and “open an investigation”.  So I call their number and tell them I need to “open an investigation”.  The operator said I’d be transferred to the right department.  I ended up getting a voice menu of options that were way above my head, full of international shipper industry terms.  I heard “lost” in one of the options and chose that.  The person that answered, after hearing the full story, and probably expecting to be talking to a fellow UPS employee, said that Amazon has to initiate the claim, not me.  Ugh, fine.

So by this time, I could have re-ordered the speaker wire 3 times over and gotten it delivered.  An “investigation” doesn’t sound like it’s going to get me my package anytime soon, so I place a new order on Amazon for the same thing.  Then I research my options for filing a claim for the old order.  The option I was steered toward was contacting the shipper to file a claim.  Great.  No one wants to take responsibility here.  Eventually I found Amazon’s general chat help link and got a resolution.  They refunded my money.  But I wasn’t all that happy, because UPS should be paying for this, not Amazon.  I apologized that they were being hurt for this, and actually, it’s not them being hurt, it’s the small business seller on Amazon being hurt, because Amazon just won’t give them the money they refunded back to me.  It’s a shitty resolution.

I’d already received the replacement and finished my project when, two weeks later, I get an email.  My package is ready to pick up at the UPS Store.  I jump back on Amazon’s help chat and ask if I should just refuse the delivery and have it sent back to them.  The CSR says, the refund has already been issued, take the package as a gift from Amazon.

On one level, I get it.  The amount of money already spent on the package to ship it, then again to return it would be a waste of time and money, resulting in a net loss.  But that’s Amazon’s loss.  Or is it?  The seller still won’t see any money for the product lost.  UPS is getting off the hook and if I returned it, would be making more money of their fuckup. 

But really, we’re talking about a $10 purchase here.  This is nothing to a large business.  But multiply that by however many fuckups UPS can make, and it could be terrible for some smaller businesses along the way.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  I got an email from Amazon saying, “give us our shit back or you’re going to be charged for it.”

He Just Snapped

Just so we’re clear where I’m coming from, I’m old.  In Internet years, I’m a fossil.  But I am an active user of technology, so I do have at least a small idea of what’s going on in the world.  Because of my age, a lot of things fall into the “I don’t understand this” bucket.  Not because I don’t understand how to use it, it’s more an issue of why would you use it.

I’ve only recently gotten into the modern phone game (meaning Android), having been a Windows Phone user for its limited lifespan.  And I recall one must-have app that caused a lot of WP users to move on to Android or iPhone – Snapchat.  So when I did upgrade to a can-do mobile OS, I was sure to install and utilize Snapchat.  Snapchat falls so hard into the “I don’t understand this” bucket, it punches a hole through the bottom.

First, the app offends me from a technical perspective.  I do understand that all modern applications have eschewed any form of friendly UI design and that design quality is called “clean” or “immersive”.  That design style involves removing all identifying command buttons, so you have mystery navigation where you have to randomly tap and swipe to figure out what the apps capabilities are. This app is no different.  Resource-wise, Snapchat is a killer.  I will give this a pass because the real-time video filters are impressive.  But, man, it hurts my phone.

Next, the app offends me as a photographer.  Here is the full text of their website home page:

Snap Inc. is a camera company.

We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.

We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

I am painfully aware that the word “photography” is not used anywhere in that manifesto.  And if you wanted to take issue with my issue about Snapchat offending me as a photographer, you could use that against me.  But for the main populace, a camera is the gateway to photography.  And photography is about recording a moment in time.  And what does Snapchat do?  It makes photos that disappear.  That’s the opposite of photography.

An advertisement for Snapchat says: “It’s a camera for talking because a Snap says more than a text.” This is probably true in the sense that a picture is worth a thousand words.  But if that picture disappears, your words have been lost.  You have said nothing of value.  The ad also says, “So, yeah, Snapchat is a camera—where how you feel matters more than how you look.”  This is clearly a dig at Instagram.  I have read elsewhere that Snapchat is intended to be used spontaneously instead of having heavily “produced” photos like those in Instagram.  But that goes back to recording a moment.  You plan and produce an Instagram shot to capture a mood (or feeling) to be shared. So yeah, Snapchat is a camera, where how you look or feel doesn’t matter.

Next, the app offends me as a communicator.  If you haven’t noticed, I blog.  I also email and text.  When I write something, I am creating something.  It’s meant to persist.  And what happens in Snapchat?  It doesn’t.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a picture or a chat, it’s all disposable.  It’s “living in the moment” as Snap wants you to.  It’s a YO-fucking-LO, get out of jail free card, where your past can’t be brought up to hold you accountable for your actions.  At the same time, it’s an admission that you don’t matter.  The things you create are not worth permanence.  The past is useless and there is no reason to preserve it.  How depressing.  And maybe that’s how things are for the youth of today.

But how about those filters?  I said, they are impressive.  It’s a very clever use of technology, but it’s also pointless.  The issues I take with Snapchat dovetail nicely with the filters.  “…How you feel matters more than how you look.”  Oh really?  I’m going to call bullshit on an app that distorts every face into an anime-grade caricature, smoothing out skin blemishes, enlarging eyes, contouring cheeks – it’s all about how you look.

But it doesn’t really matter anyway, because it’s all transitory.  The silly augmentation filters, while good for a laugh today, are going to be the MySpace embarrassment of the future, if any images manage to survive.  Wait and see.

The Flippers

You know what really grinds my gears?  Family Guy.  And other things, too.  One of the things that really gets my goat (Whatever the hell that means… actually the all-knowing Internet says that goat used to be a slang term for anger.  So, there you go.)  Yeah, so anyway… You know what really makes me angry?  Flippers.  Middlemen. Value-adders.  Brokers.  Leeches.

The most obvious case of this is in real estate.  HGTV should be ashamed at what they have wrought upon the world.  The glorification of gentrification.  And while the rest of the country is freaking the hell out about wage gap and the unaffordability of housing, these shows are the most popular AGAIN.  I mean it’s not like one “Flip or Flop” is enough, now there has to be regionalized versions so we can see how fucked up things are getting in multiple places.

I shouldn’t have to explain the problem but I will, because otherwise the post will be too short.  In brief, someone buys a house that is distressed (a polite term for shitty) and fixes it up so it can be purchased by people who could not do the repair work themselves or who could not afford to buy the house outright at all.

As a brief aside, let me explain a case where I tried buying a foreclosure.  I was in a bind in my personal life and wanted to get a separate residence.  I found a foreclosure for cheap and scoped it out.  The problem was, the house had no kitchen and no water heater.  It was gutted.  Because it was gutted, I was unable to secure a loan to buy the property.  Despite all my financial plans for affording the place easily, I just couldn’t get it because I didn’t have $50k in cash sitting around.  So I lost the property and everything worked out fine for me in the end, but it irks me that I missed out on that place to an investor.

So anyway, these investors/flippers/whatever.  It should be a noble thing they are doing – cleaning up a property and making it habitable for normal people.  But it isn’t.  Because, gotta get paid.  And there’s no money in selling to normal people.  You need to sell to richer people who can give you a bigger profit.  The problem is, richer people are fewer people.  And as more of these houses get improved on, the fewer the number of buyers are.

But I’m sure you know all of that.  I wanted to point out that this flipping situation is not exclusive to real estate.  On a forum I frequent for music collectors, there is a regular bitchfest about “Record Store Day”, which was supposed to be an event to drive customers to small-town record stores.  The incentive for this is that a collection of albums are released that are extremely limited edition or have been out of print for a long time.  For music lovers, that’s pretty cool.  But, the flippers smell a buck, here.

Inevitably, the flippers mob the store and buy up all the limited editions, then within the same day, resell them on EBay for huge profits.  So, regular people just avoid the crush and Record Store Day is just another disappointment.  Did the record store make any money?  Ironically, not as much as the flippers do.  One has price controls, for the other, the sky’s the limit.

Did you know this also happens with beer?  A co-worker of mine flips craft beers and makes decent money at it.  The investment for him is time – standing in line at small breweries, waiting to buy a single bottle of beer.  Sometimes he will bring the girlfriend along so he can get two.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He’s reported that sometimes a flipper will “hire” a bunch of homeless people to wait in line to buy a bottle of beer each.  It’s absolutely disgusting.

And at the root of all of these cases is the great American dream of “something for nothing”.  Inject yourself into the middle of a process and take a little off the top.  You add no value, you only add cost.  Some may argue that the value they add is the knowledge of the source and the skill at marketing it to a broader market.  That’s bullshit.  It’s one thing to market a product to a larger audience.  It’s quite another to scoop up everything of a limited quantity and sell it because you can’t get it anywhere else.  It’s a self-made monopoly.

And here’s something that I’m currently fighting with myself about.  I have two very valuable CDs that I was fortunate enough to find for very cheap.  I am sure there is a collector out there that would prize them for their rarity much more than I do.  I don’t need to make a 100x profit on my purchase if it would make someone happy.  But how would I be sure that the buyer wasn’t a flipper?

And that is the problem with everything.  Let’s go back to real estate.  Let’s say you were altruistic and rehabbed a house and sold it for a fair dollar.  Who’s to say the buyer isn’t a flipper who would add a single upgrade and sell it for a profit?  All you’ve done is made someone else’s job easier.

Ooo, You’re So Slow and Tasty

Provocative title aside, this is just a post bitching about upscaling at eating places.  You know, where the normal menu, which has existed forever, just isn’t good enough anymore, so the place has to try new, fancy shit and to hell with what we had before.  I’ve said before that I’m a fan of the standards, the basics.  When I go to a place to eat, I usually know what I’m getting, so all this new and better stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.  Yeah, I suck.  Deal with it.

I have read numerous times in articles about how McDonalds keeps trying to attract new customers by making new things.  There’s plenty wrong with this.  First off, as all American investor-driven companies, McDonalds is not allowed to just be.  They must forever be growing.  There is no satisfaction in being good.  You have to be better, quarter after quarter.  So, to that end, McD’s tries to grow their customer base by selling different things.  The problem is, these different things are more complex.  They take time.  They fuck up all the efficiencies that made the McD’s of olden times great.  You want a plain old quarter pounder?  Well, it’s going to be a bit because the party in front of you ordered Flapacheetos and McDonkles and we have to specially prepare each of those.

The exact same thing has happened the last couple of times I’ve been to Dunkin Donuts.  The party in front of me doesn’t want donuts or coffee.  They want, “An everything bagel, toasted, with butter, and bacon and cheese.  And then another one just like that, but a plain bagel.  And what do you want?  Ok, a croissant, no wait, another bagel.  What kind?  They’re all right there.  What’s that one?  Never mind, just make it plain.  And what do you want on it?  Bacon?  No.  No bacon.  Cheese?  Sausage?  You like sausage.  Yes, you do like it.  Just sausage and cheese.  And I’m going to have a coffee, with half and half and two sugars.  And what do you want to drink?  I don’t know if they have that…”  And 15 fucking minutes later, because they can’t take my order until they finish the order before me (FUUUUUUCCCK!), I order my two donuts.

Dunkin Donuts used to be a donut shop.  There used to be a time, and it wasn’t really all that long ago, you could get in and get out.  Now it’s a goddamn café.  It doesn’t need to be one.  In fact, McDonalds also has what they call McCafe.  That’s the trap.  McDonalds also used to be fast food.  There’s nothing fast about it anymore.  The same articles that talk about McDonalds adding new menu items to attract new business also say the restaurant owners hate it because it slows down their service times, which just backs everything up and irritates the customers, like me.

I say fairly often that I have pity for people growing up today because they have no idea that fast food used to be good and tasty and now it’s just processed bullshit.  And now the service has gone to shit right along with the food quality.  You know, Chipotle had something pretty good going for a while, until that whole poisoning thing happened.  That’s another company that is probably going to get desperate and start introducing new items.  You’ll know it when a new menu item has to be built off the conveyer line.  And that will be the next nail in the coffin because it will reduce the efficiency of their service.  Let’s see if they survive long enough to kick themselves in the teeth.

Black Knight Of The Highway

I had an incident a couple of years ago where I was involved in a collision on the highway.  I was going full highway speed and got rear-ended by someone going much faster.  This morning, I had another collision, with slightly different circumstances.

I’m doing my usual morning commute to work and just about ready to turn off at my exit.  Something catches my eye and I look in the rear view mirror and a semi truck is right on my ass.  The truck had moved into my lane to pass another semi that was to my left.  I look in the mirror and say, “You motherfucker.  Why don’t you get a little closer.”  So he did.

Now, I’m saying, “Whatever, fucker.  You can wait until I get off in a few seconds.”  But he didn’t seem to care.  He got even closer.  Even more pissed off, I put on my turn signal to let him know I’d be out of the way soon.  What I did not consider is that I am a tiny, tiny car.  He is a massive semi truck.  Not that it’s any absolution, but he probably never even saw me.  His huge hood probably blocked me from his view entirely.  And so, it’s probably no surprise what happened next.

I got bumped.  My car swerved to the right, into the exit lane and he pulled up alongside me.  I’m still not sure if he even noticed me at this point.  I sped up alongside him and blared my tiny, tiny horn at him, but I doubt he even heard it.  The median guardrail was coming up quickly, so I had to abort and stay in the exit lane, leaving him to go on his (probably) oblivious way.

At the stop light at the end of the exit lane, I immediately jumped out and checked the damage to my car.  It’s just some very minor scuffing on the bumper that can probably be polished out.  I went the rest of the way to work and it was at that time, I realized I left my phone at the house.  This will be a great day.

But you know what?  I have a dash cam.  Granted, it doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, but I still have evidence I was hit.  Just as an aside, a rear dash cam would be outrageous.  Everything scary and crazy always happens behind me.  So, in the parking lot at work, I saved the segment of the incident and later, I reviewed the video.  The quality is pretty good.  I am able to make out the trucking company name and their DOT license.  Hopefully that’s enough of a lead to make this guy’s life miserable.

In the time I’ve had to think about this, my thoughts on the event have changed.  My initial thought was that I got bumped because I was going too slow for this truck driver and he was impatient to pass this other truck.  As I’ve thought more about it, it’s probably just that I was invisible to him.  Again, that doesn’t make him any less at fault here.  But, it does make me extremely lucky that when the truck moved into my lane, I was in the position I was.  If I was in his blind spot when he changed lanes and he was that close to my rear when he came in, it’s not unfathomable that I could have been a foot or two farther back and he would have clipped my rear bumper, sending me into a spin.  Things could have been far worse.

But, in spite of the fortune granted on me, FUCK ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!  YOU SONS OF BITCHES ARE FUCKING MENACES ON THE ROAD AND YOU ALL NEED TO DIE!!  LEARN TO FUCKING DRIVE, LEARN TO HAVE SOME PATIENCE, LEARN THAT IT’S NOT JUST YOU ON THE ROAD!  IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING ROAD, WE ALL HAVE TO USE IT.  WE ALL HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE THIS EVENT SAFE AND EFFICIENT.  SAFE AND EFFICIENT! GOD DAMN IT, YOU BASTARDS!  I FUCKING HATE ALL OF YOU!!!!

Let me be clear.  I don’t hate you as people, I hate you as drivers and the people you become when you start driving.  Seriously, you do not think of what the consequences could be.  Every time you change a lane, that is an opportunity to sideswipe someone.  Each time you are checking the lane you want to get into, you are not checking the lane you are in and the cars in front of you.  Every time you speed up into a passing lane (especially to the right), you have the chance of finding traffic stopped in front of you in that new lane.  If you’re a large truck, you need to look beside you and not just behind you when changing lanes.

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And you, Mr. Red Truck, working for Trimac Transportation Inc., you’re going to hear from me very shortly.

The Business Life

Recently, I was given the opportunity to go on a business trip for my employer.  The event required a technical person for the upcoming work and this was supposed to be training and exposure.  I had done business trips in the past, but this gave me a whole different perspective on “the life”.

Another aspect of this meeting was that the host of the event wanted to show off their brand new building.  I didn’t really give it much thought.  An office building is like any other, right?  Nope.  And that all played into the discomfort I felt.  So let’s start at the beginning.

When I was told about the trip, I was also told that the company travel coordinator would handle everything.  So, right off the bat, I’m a little out of my comfort zone.  You know, if I was tasked to go somewhere, I would be looking for the cheapest flight anywhere.  Well, that’s not how business travel works.  I end up on a top-tier airline in what I assume is a decent seat.  As you know, you don’t get decent seats for cheap.  They cost extra.  I don’t know, my airfare was around $500.  That’s more than I would be willing to spend.  And also, there’s six of us going.  Yeah, six.

So we all get to the destination and we Uber to the hotel.  I’m not really a fan of Uber, but that’s for another post, and it’s not my decision to make anyway.  And the hotel is a Staybridge Suites hotel.  Everyone gets a suite!  Now, I don’t expect us to bunk together, but I don’t need lodgings this fancy.  No way.  It’s our first night and we all go out to dinner.  Company expense, of course.  Steakhouse?  Sure.  Longhorn?  Outback?  Fuck, no.  It’s not our money, let’s go to Perry’s.  You can’t eat there for less than $60/plate.  And of course, everyone drinks.  It was easily a $600 bill, I’m certain of it.

Day one at our host’s new office building.  This is not an office building, it is a goddamn resort.  It has a cafeteria, an exercise room, a balcony garden, another café with barista on the upper floor, a game room, and technology that would make most humans gawk in amazement.  Maybe it’s the new modern standard for a national company, but like Perry’s, it’s way out of my league.

The conference goes all day.  We get catered lunch and we get a tour of the building.  They’re quite proud of it.  At the conclusion of the tour, there is a social gathering with beer and wine and snacks too fancy and weird for me to even eat.  I’m watching all these people chatting and mingling, and the cute girls in the short skirts sitting on the bar counter with their wine, and I’m wondering, this is business?  In what world is this business?  This one, apparently.

Our group got dinner reservations for Del Friscos, another $60/plate steakhouse.  I man up and say, fuck all y’all, I’m staying in my room (no, my fucking SUITE) and ordering pizza.  It was a great pizza and only put the company out $25.  I was ordered to save the receipt for reimbursement.  It would have been fine, guys.  You know, you pay me pretty well already.

My point of this rant, which I’ve done before, is that there is this executive life that is not available to normal folk.  I’m kind of in it, right on the cusp, but I don’t agree with it.  I don’t like it.  It’s living in a fantasy, where you get to feel like you’re super rich, but you’re not.  And you only get to act and feel that way because of your employer.  The employer that is putting out gobs of money disproportionately for a select few, when it could be spent on others in the company who are nowhere near that sort of lifestyle.  And who would appreciate it more?

More Food Updates

In another weekend trip to Touristville, the GF and I ended up at our favorite steakhouse (but at a different location).  The last time I had to write about this, the dining experience was up and down.  This time, it was pretty much a plunge into despair.  I won’t bore anyone with tedious details,  I’ll just sort of hit the high points (which are the low points).

When we got there, 6 pm on a Saturday, we were informed that the wait was 90 minutes.  They actually said, “an hour and a half”, which actually makes it sound a lot worse.  At our last touristville experience, we were told there was a 45 minute wait and we were seated pretty quickly.  So, I agreed to wait.  Well, they kept their word and then some.  We didn’t get to the table until almost 8.

When you’re seated at a community table, it’s always a crap shoot as to who you’re going to be with.  In tonight’s group, we had a Hispanic family that included a vegetarian.  But it wasn’t a cool vegetarian, it was a “I’M VEGETARIAN!” vegetarian.  There was also a man so old he couldn’t do anything for himself.  I actually suspected he could, but his female partner ordered (and I use ordered in multiple meanings here) everything.  He tries to speak up for himself and his other half shouts over him.  So you know, a boisterous party.

The other side of the table had what seemed to be a mother and her two daughters and a dude.  At first it was a little hard to tell if the dude was the brother or the boyfriend of the older girl.  And “older” is really pushing it here; she looked like she was about 12 and the dude looked about 15.  But it was made clear that they were a couple in relatively short order.  At one point the girl wanted her mom to take a picture of them and as they snuggled up, the dude kind of raised the girls shirt or maybe tucked his hand under it.  In any regard, it was all a little weird and uncomfortable.

The chefs at this location were fucking spazzes.  I guess you have to be a little over the top to get the attention of tourists who’ve been at theme parks all day, but holy shit.  So much yelling and banging and fire.  And in spite of that, the chefs seemed to not be engaged with the table and would get distracted to chat with other employees walking around.  As far as quality, my extra side dish was overlooked and the food was very light on the soy sauce.  When I asked for extra soy sauce on my steak, the chef tried to talk me out of it.  And in the end, it was just a couple of drips, nothing to really taste.

And the last anecdote comes from the GF on her disastrous bathroom visit.  As it was told to me, there were three stalls.  One had a pile of shit-covered toilet paper on the floor.  The second held an employee, who had her apron off and laid out on the bathroom floor.  The third had an overflowing sanitary receptacle.  There are no good options here.

The whole 3+ hour ordeal made me miss my personal home steakhouse and turned me off from touristville locations.

The next day, I seized the opportunity to verify that Pollo Tropical had changed their operations chain-wide.  And I have confirmed it.  The location we went to had the same cheap white Styrofoam plates, plasticware, and single-size cups.  There were no onions or limes on the chicken and there was no table service or cleanup.

We also had a slight order problem that highlighted a flaw in their new operational procedure.  When you order a meal, you now wait for your order number to be called.  In our case, we picked up the order and when we got to the table, found a side was missing.  So the GF went to the cashier, who ignored her because she wasn’t in line.  After getting the cashier’s attention and explaining the situation, the cashier yelled to the order picker, who ignored her.  GF came back to the table furious.

I went up and stood where the orders were picked up.  The order picker kept her back to me.  And I kind of understood that.  There’s always a crowd of people waiting for food.  You could say her communication was unidirectional.  She called the order numbers and that’s it.  There was no consideration of a communication coming inbound to her.  And when she turned around and called a number, I caught her eye, but she still turned back around, requiring me to verbally interrupt her.  And then we got the problem resolved.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about Pollo, there’s been a significant decline in the customer service department.  The GF vowed that Pollo would become a drive-thru-only option, and I would agree.  There is nothing compelling about the dine-in experience.

So, that’s the report on dining this weekend.  If there’s news, it’s probably not good news.