Where’s My Awesome Stuff???

I’m angry because I feel I’ve been cheated.  Shortchanged. Bait and Switched.  Overpromised and “Underdelivered to.”

Hoverboards, flying cars (or at least aqua cars), wristwatch TV/phone, holographic 3-D chess and much, much, more were “promised” to me as a child and now it’s 2012 they’re not here (iPhones and Droids don’t count btw – too big and Siri has a big voice recognition problem).

So to all of you involved in making me long for these things I say, “Shame on you and all the people that failed to make them happen!”

The Big Tease From Bergdorf Goodman

OK, I’ll survive.  I’ll be fine and I can live without those things for now; they’re just gadgets really.  But what about my “Monkey Butler?”  Weren’t we all really led to believe we’d each have a smartly dressed, exquisitely-trained monkey servant by now?  I certainly was and I’m ready to take delivery now.  Is he ready?  Well, the Bergdorf-Goodman department store (as well as a shop on Lexington Ave.), teased me a few years back by featuring Monkey Butlers in their 5th Avenue windows and I thought maybe the time had finally come… but alas, it hadn’t.

Michael Jackson had Bubbles, Homer Simpson had Mojo the Helper Monkey, Stacee Jaxx has one named “Hey Man” in the new Rock of Ages movie.  Even that schlub Ross had Marcel in TV’s “Friends,” so where’s mine?  Indiana Jones had an evil one, but he was still cool (right up until his “bad date”).

Famous “Monkey Butler-Man” duos in history.

Look, I know me having a Monkey Butler will eventually lead to the demise of the human race (see Monkey Shines, Outbreak, and of course Apes, Planet of), but that’s a while off and I really want one!  Making my co-workers/employees act like one just isn’t cutting it anymore (but I do appreciate the effort David).

“Planet of the Apes: The Musical” – Now playing at the Springfield Theater

I don’t want to be angry with the monkeys but I’m afraid I may start to blame them for not stepping up.  My favorite 70’s show “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” shows us they can easily do the job and Downton Abby (if not the original Hobson from Arthur) shows that there should be no shame in having the job of butler, so it’s not that.  I’m just worried that if I don’t get my own real Monkey Butler soon it’ll be me, not Troy McClure from “Planet of the Apes: The Musical,” scream-singing the sad refrain, “I hate every ape I see, from chimpan A to chimpan…Z!

The Elusive Monkey Butler Store?


The horror of helpdesks and the calamity of call centers.

The other day I needed to rent a car in France, and as I needed it for greater than 31 days, none of the websites would let me do it online. I had to call the service center.

So based on the information on the aggregator websites (Priceline, kayak, Travelocity etc.) I found the best deals available and proceeded to call the first company who seemed to offer the right package.

I don’t want name the company, as I suspect this story is equally applicable to all of them. I called the free phone number for Budg$t (see I clearly hid the company name). And here’s how the call went:

Rep: Good afternoon sir, how can I help you (imagine this with a very pleasant Indian accent)?

Me: Hello, I’d like to rent a car in France please.

Rep: Certainly sir, can you please tell me what State that is in.

Me: Err no France is a country in Europe.

Rep: Yes sir, but what state is that in.

After several iterations of this, I asked to speak to one of his colleagues that maybe had a better grasp of world geography. I was put through to their resident geographical guru, and the conversation continued.

Me: hello again, I’d like to rent a car in France please.

Rep2: certainly sir, what state is that in?

Me: okay listen France is a country, its part of the European union, and while I believe France has states in it, it’s not actually in a state. France is a country in it’s own right, had an empire once, and still has a foreign legion.

Rep2: okay sir, I understand, what city in France to you wants to rent a car from.

Me: great, the city is called Nice.

Rep2: very good sir, Nice, okay, and what is the zip code of Nice.

Me: seriously, you know that Nice is a city in France. How about this, I want to rent the car from Nice Airport, does that work for you.

Rep2: oh jolly good sir, I have it now. When do you want to rent the car from and for how long?

Me: I want to from when I arrive for 35 days.

Rep2: oh I’m sorry sir we cannot rent cars for more than 31 days, you will have to return it to the rental office and re-rent it for the remainder.

Me: you cannot be serious, how about I just call you and extend it.

Rep2: oh no sir you have to bring it back to us.

Me: well that will not work, forget it goodbye.

Now I was very proud of myself during this call, I didn’t rip the reps head of and crap all over him verbally (as I felt like doing), but instead went to the next company on the list and called again.

Me: hi there, I’d like to rent a car in France please.

Newrep: okay sir, can you please tell me what state France is in….

This is the issue with service centers, helpdesks and their entire ilk, they are only as good as the scripts the reps are given. And no script can be all-inclusive. The people you speak to on the phone when you speak to call centers are generally very nice, but have absolutely no idea how to solve any issue that hasn’t been already thought through.

And lets face it, in this day and age you will try absolutely anything to avoid having to call a call center and be told “your business is very important to us” and “our options have changed so please listen carefully”.

You would have gone to their website, asked your friends on facebook and even visited product help groups and reviews online. So the chances of you calling for something that they can help you with have been greatly diminished.

So why are they still so crap?

BTW, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, I really lovely film, and it talks to this rant.



If anyone say’s “There is only one true religion” walk away.

Having grown up from two halves of a single cell into a complex ecosystem I feel entirely proficient to answer any question about anything. Of course I have no idea how correct my answers will be.

It amazes me (and angers me) that anyone believes that they have an ultimate answer to anything, and yet every day I’m bombarded with a mix of competing absolutes from politicians and religious nuts, and people who have been influenced by politicians and religious nuts.

Life can be hard, and for the multiple millennia that pre-date us is was clearly harder than it is today. Making people act in unison was (and is) a fundamental of civilization. Today we persuade people to act for the good of society (by working hard and not killing, stealing or having sex with their siblings) by threats of punishment (prison, fines etc) for bad behavior, and houses, clothes, food, entertainment, good health etc. for good behavior. It works pretty well if people are educated in the ways of society.

In the past it was much easier to coalesce people by creating a framework of things that would happen to you if you didn’t follow the rules, and nice things that you could look forward to if you did. Living in the past was tough, and a good deal of it was not that much fun, so creating a dream of better times after you died just made so much sense.

There never was any evidence for this dream future, but if you questioned it, limbs could easily be removed (as could innards), so questioning was curtailed pretty easily.

But here’s the thing; just because people under duress were made to believe ridiculous things for hundreds of years, does not means that you need to believe them when the threat of being burnt alive while tied to a stake is removed.

Evolution is a proven explanation for how complex viable environments are created from a large number of simplistic components. It makes sense and can be seen clearly by experiment. In fact using the principles of the evolutionary process allows a very clear understanding of how things work at a chemical, physical and biological level. The word “theory” is placed in sentences because the scientific process understands the nature of truth, and that it is not absolute.

Religious nuts and politicians know how to manipulate language to avoid having their powerbase undermined by inconvenient facts. Clearly it’s much better to have people give you things and do what you say, than to have them not give you things and not do what you say.

So rather than spend time helping humanity continue to improve scientifically, religious nuts and politicians will always prefer to limit change to those areas that personally benefit them.

No one person or group has a truth that is more viable than any other person or group. And as soon as any person or group tries to force their way on anyone else they are instantly wrong.

Having said this, there are some wonderful life lessons to be learned from all the major and minor religions. I love the sikh ideas of helping others, and the Judea-christian-islamic ideas of learning and ethics, along with the Buddhist concepts of mind and the really cool alien overlord ideas of scientology. But I’m not a fan of any of the restrictive ideals of all of these cults, or of the destructive and absolute nature of some of their most fervent followers and leaders.

There is clearly documented and examinable archaeological evidence that all of the major concepts in all of the major religions were part of peoples teaching well before the current religions were in place. This shows to me that the concepts were used as part of ancient peoples education systems to teach a code of ethics and behavior to allow for groups to work together for the ongoing benefit of society.

It is well documented (at least on the history channel) that the bible (basis of so many religions today) was crafted over many hundreds of years by scholars and it truly is an incredible piece of human work.

Just because something was created a long time ago and still exists does not give it extraordinary powers over people. Studying the stories that have been used for millennia to teach ethics, philosophy, morality and how to deal with complex situations is a good thing. Treating any single view as the only possible view, and allowing for no discussion is plain nuts.

I have some very dear friends who are deeply religious and incredibly intelligent. I respect their beliefs and have had the honor of celebrating many times with them, and honoring the memories of loved ones that that are no longer with them. And I have been proud to have them share in my life events in the same way. They have never tried to convince me of the perfection of their religion and I’ve never tried to convince them of mine. Quite honestly it’s never even been a conversation.

There are nut cases on street corners that I have passed, and the odd person with a shaved head and a pony tail, or well dressed youngsters with name badges that have tried to convince me of their unique truth, and I treat them all with the respect they deserve (not a lot).

Anyone crazy enough to believe that any old book is entirely true, is crazy enough to kill innocent people. There have been many examples of this through history. What I don’t understand is how anyone who purports to believe there is a god(s), can accept that their particular version of god(s) is better than every other version, and that their god(s) expects everyone who isn’t buying into their particular set of edicts is inferior and must therefore die or be damned.

At this point it all just fails. And the only possible answer is that it’s all total bullshit.

Sitting around and bullshitting with your mates has always been a good thing to do, and sometimes out of the bullshit you can have a good or even great idea (and it passes the time), just remember it’s bullshit and stop yourself if you feel you’re taking it too seriously.



I’m still angry about the salt and pepper war – impossible to win

Throughout all time there has always been a clear definition between right and wrong, good and bad, cleaver and stupid, Mets and Yankees, Spurs and Arsenal. And for all time it has been right that saltshakers always have less holes than pepper shakers.

Some may not agree with my hypothesis, but these people are entirely wrong!

My wife and I have had this highly intellectual argument going on for some time (it feels like for all time), and I have had the chance to prove my case both physically and via documentation on numerous occasions, only for her to find a weakness in my proof. Personally I’ve found these so-called “weaknesses” to be irrational and flawed.

Let me give you a few examples:

I contest that salt pots should always have less holes than pepper pots, and I have in my possession a set of pots that prove this. One pot has written on it “a dash of salt” and this pot has one hole. While the pepper pot, which has eight holes, has the worlds “a sprinkle of pepper”. Clear evidence of the truth of my argument!

My wife of course points out that these pots are made in England, and hence are wrong, because the English have no idea of how to use salt and pepper (as proven by the average English cuisine) and clearly should not be used as a guide for good condementing. She does make a good argument.

As further evidence, I turned to the worlds only salt and pepper museum, which happens to be in America. It can be found at http://thesaltandpeppershakermuseum.com/Home.aspx

This establishment of all things sodium chloride and flowering vine of the family Piperaceae, have prominently displayed on their website the number one question that they get asked about salt and pepper pots. “Which Shaker has the most (or least) amount of holes, Salt or Pepper?” and these oracles give a very clear answer:

“The shaker with the least amount of holes is for Salt…and the shaker with more holes is for Pepper. An easy way to remember is that salt is bad for you so you need less!’

That seems to be like a positive, expert opinion in my favor. Yet my wife then points out that this museum is actually in Tennessee, and no one in their right mind either lives in Tennessee or believes anything that anyone who lives in Tennessee says.

Again she does make a good argument.

The search for the truth continues.