Baseball's Hypocrisy

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Yesterday Baseball announced the candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among those on the ballot for the first time is Darryl Strawberry. Not on the ballot once again is Baseball's all-time hit king Pete Rose.

I am not here to argue whether or not Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. I find it a little ridiculous that the all time leader in hits isn't in the Hall but Baseball's cardinal rule is that you do not bet on Baseball. He did and he has to live with the consequences. I'm fine with that.

But let me get this straight. It is OK to take drugs, cocaine no less, and get suspended from the game 3 times for it but it is not OK to bet on the game? Darry Strawberry admits to having a drug problem. It is pretty obvious that he was probably high in a lot of games. Yet Baseball will look the other way when it comes to drugs. The argument why gambling is so bad is that it hurts the fabric of the game. Sure I buy that but guys juiced up on steroids don't hurt the fabric or integrity of the game? If baseball cared so much about the "fabric of the game" wouldn't it have a better drug policy than the current lame ass policy?

Think about it. Your kid comes back from college and he is going to tell you one of two things.

1. Dad, I have a cocaine problem. I get high 3 times a day.
2. Dad, I have a gambling problem. I lost $1000 at the track last week.

If its #1 I'm worrying and probably out of my mind. If its #2 I'm worried but I can work with it. What is baseball trying to say?

My point is that if you are going to say gambling keeps you out of the hall then taking drugs, being a racist, and beating your wife should keep you out too.

Dell's Super Customer Service

Monday, November 29, 2004
Since I blog about when I don't get good customer service I will blog about when I do get good customer service.

About a week ago I noticed that my Dell Axim X30 was broken. The screen was just white and nothing I did would restore it. I know I didn't break it myself because I almost never use the device and it was just sitting on my desk for the longest time. I dreaded calling customer service because these things are a pain in the butt.

I waited and waited through all the computer menus (truly a Dilbert moment) until I was finally connected to a live operator and explained the problem. Yes the screen is broken, No I didn't do it, yes I tried rebooting it.

But surprisingly he didn't ask too many questions and said that Dell would send me a replacement and that I just had to send my broken one back in the same box. What? You mean you aren't going to make me send mine back, take a look at it, tell me what I just told you was wrong with it and then wait another month to send me a replacement? I was just floored. What was even more shocking that the replacement came THE NEXT DAY. I mean I called the place at like 3:00 p.m. that afternoon and the replacement comes by 11:00 the next morning. I put the broken one in the box and sent it on its way. No hassle whatsoever. That's how customer service should be done.

All I can say is Snaps to Dell (sorry watched Legally Blonde 2 this weekend. I don't recommend it)

Happy Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

You know what my favorite thing about Thanksgiving is? People are so nice when you have nothing to do. Last year Jenny invited me to her families get together and I had a great time. This year lots of people have asked me if I would like to go with them to Thanksgiving.

This year I decided to decline all the offers and just stay at home, watch some movies, and hang out with the cat but all the invites were very appreciated.

Everyone have a nice long weekend and see you all when we get back. I may or may not blog during the break but otherwise see you on Monday.

Working Long Hours

Monday, November 22, 2004
EA, the video game maker, is facing a lawsuit from workers complaining about the long working hours.

I couldn't believe it when I read it. These are people who are in an industry most programmers are dying to get into. I'm betting a lot of programmers would be willing to work 100 hour weeks for minimum pay to get into this very competitive industry. Further, its not like EA underpays their employees. I'm betting many of these people earn six figures or at least have the potential to earn six figures in a few years.

My favorite part of the article is "The comments depict an industry that expects employees to put in many work weeks of 60 hours or more, with little attention to helping employees balance work and family needs." I HATE THIS EXCUSE. I know people with families need to spend more time with their families but does that mean us single guys need to pick up the slack or should be expected to work longer hours? I don't expect any more or any less from my employees if they are single or have families. Everyone has personal stuff they would rather be doing than work but it is your choice to have a family or not. I choose not to have a family and focus on my career. Am I to be punished for that or should you be given more favorable treatment?

I don't really have a problem with people complaining to their employer if they believe the work conditions are too harsh. It is important that employees are happy and that their concerns are addressed. But filing a lawsuit? That's a little much. If you complain to your employer and he says, "you know what we expect people to work 80 hours and that is that" than you need to find another job. Most of the employees who work for me work between 40 and 50 hours. The work isn't as glamorus or as fun as making video games but its a lifestyle choice that my employees have made.

Taxing the Rich: Part 2

Friday, November 19, 2004
This is a follow up to my original post that asked the question whether it really is a good idea to tax the rich more heavily. There are many people who have the idea that the rich will just grin and bear it and won’t alter their behavior if we as a society decide to tax them more. They, after all, have the ability to pay and will just continue to work hard no matter how much the rest of society decides to tax them. I had several interesting conversations this past weekend that would say otherwise.

While visiting some friends this weekend I had conversations with several people looking for jobs after they graduate from Harvard Business School. Most HBS grads can be fairly certain of receiving job offers in the six-figure range and of course this salary has the potential to grow very rapidly in the succeeding years. These graduates, and others from various MBA programs, are the drivers of the economy. Many will start business that will create billions of dollars and provide jobs for thousands of workers. At the very least, their salaries will provide much needed spending and tax revenues wherever they decide to live.

On more than one occasion a student told me they were looking at job opportunities on the West Coast. Mainly California and Seattle. Many of those students said that they were leaning toward Seattle for the simple reason that taxes were lower and that their prospective job offers from the companies in California did not reflect the added cost of living. After you factor in California’s Income Tax, High Sales Tax, and High Property tax you have to earn a lot more than you would in a state like Washington that has no Income Tax.

So those who argue that raising taxes will have no noticeable impact on the rich need to think hard about what they believe is right. My stance on this issue isn't because I'm greedy for myself. If these students and others like them decide to move to a different state they take their income, and all their tax dollars with them. In the end, you are just hurting the poor you are desperately trying to help.

Outrunning a Squirrel

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Quick note to Jenny. The top speed of a squirrel is 12.0 mph. I'm sure I can run faster than that.

The Trip Part 2

I actually have a lot of other thigns to blog about but I'll give a quick update about my trip and then save the other post for some other time.

So the rest of the trip went fine. Strange enough on my trip from Philly to L.A. I got the "S" again on my ticket and had to go through the extensive screening process again. I wonder what algorithm the airlines use to mark people for a security screening. There is no way it is random because the chances of me getting it on 3 consecutive flights has to be pretty small.

I really enjoyed seeing Jenny again. I got to meet a lot of her friends and I liked them all. I'm glad I can leave my humanitarian efforts on Jenny in good hands :) It is always strange to go back on to campus. The students look younger and younger and the buildings keep changing. Isn't the world supposed to stop when I'm not around?

I don't really have that much to say about the rest of the trip. It was kind of low key and nothing terribly exciting except I started kicking Jenny's butt, as soon as her beginner's luck wore off, at Hand and Foot and I saw The Incredibles which I think may be the best animated flick ever produced.

The Trip Part 1

Monday, November 15, 2004
I've travelled a lot in my life. My experience at LAX this past Saturday might have been the worse. No one thing was bad but taken all together the experience was awful.

So I get to the airport but I have a stupid paper ticket. Why Orbitz insisted I have a paper ticket is beyond me. I have no baggage to check, I never do, but still had to wait in some awful line to get my boarding pass. Arrrgh. Of course, once again I get flagged for a security check. Normally I don't care and in an old blog I talked about this airport insecurity but like a good passenger I made no complaints. Of course there was an odd number of people flagged for inspection and not nearly enough people to do the inspection so the extra-security line was much longer than all the others.

I get inspected and of course nothing but now, becasue I had a paper ticket and the security check, I'm running a little late. I'm always the type to arrive in plenty of time but now I know its going to be close. I get to the gate and they have already boarded the plane, this by the way blows my seating priority, I was 1 and would have boarded first.

Anyway, by the time I get on the plane there are no overhead compartments so I have to check my bag. I'm a good sport about it and just check the bag. Oh well. 20 minutes into the flight I get my beverage, a cup of water. Like a clumbsy oaf I spill it all over myself and thus had to sit on the plane for 5 hours with a damp shirt.

Again, none of these are a big deal and truth be told at no time was I really upset. Just an unfortunate set of circumstances which makes me remember how much I HATE travelling on airlines.

And of course I get off the plane and there is snow on the ground. Friggin snow! It was 70 when I left L.A. Why do people live over here again?

Really Busy

Friday, November 12, 2004
So things have been hectic around here which is why I did not post yesterday and I'm not really posting today. I have a couple of saved drafts that I could post but don't feel like even finishing those up right now.

Going to head back east this weekend. Its cold there and I was realizing that I really don't have all that much warm stuff anymore. I don't want to bring my heavy jacket but it looks like I might have to and I don't really like the sweaters I have so I might have to go do some shopping before i leave tomorrow.

If I don't blog for a while know that it is not because I'm lazy but because I don't have access to a computer. My next blog will probably have to be from Jenny's computer if she is nice enough to let me use it :)

Problems with Netflix AND Blockbuster

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
For all those reading this trying to figure out if you should join Netflix or Blockbuster I'm here to tell you JOIN NETFLIX. I am so mad at Blockbuster. I'm not 100% satisfied with Netflix either, and I hope the DVD price wars will foster some good competition, but at least they didn't piss me off.

So in the end of my comparison between Netflix and Blockbuster I decided to go to Netflix. It wasn't that tough of a choice given the better service and wider selection.

But Blockbuster went and did it. I returned all my movies back to Blockbuster about 3 days after I cancelled my membership. I got emails confirming that they got back 2 of the 3 movies and figured that they didn't send the third as it would close out my account. I was wrong. I get an email from them about 2 weeks later stating they are going to charge me for Underworld, the third movie. They were going to charge $21 to my credit card for a movie I know I returned. Why would I keep this movie? It wasn't even all that great.

I called Customer Service and waited, I'm not exaggerating, 25 minutes for someone to pick up the phone. As soon as they answered I explained to them that I returned the movie and that I can't be held responsible for the USPS losing it. They refunded the money without too much of a problem but I was still fuming over the fact that they charged me in the first place and that I had to wait so long to get it resolved.

Netflix has not been without its problems. They did send me a DVD that was broken at the end of the disk. I had to return it and get a replacement which is kind of silly because I wasted a return to catch the last, and obviously most important, 20 minutes of the movie. Also, the turnaround time has gotten a little slower. Before I would return the DVD and get a replacement in 3 days. 1 day there, process, 1 day back, on the next day DVD arrives at my door. Now it is more like 1 day there, process, 2 days back, on the next day DVD arrives.

None of this is probably their fault as the DVD may have gotten damaged during shipping and they don't control the USPS. However it is there business model and one which I think will definitely rub customers the wrong way going forward.

Firefox 1.0 Released

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Since according to Jenny I must be selling it, I am telling you all that Firefox 1.0 was released today. Get it while its hot. If you are still using Internet Exploiter I suggest you switch. Here is why.

Need more reasons? Try here, here, and here.

Happy Browsing!

Best Buy and the Devils

Monday, November 08, 2004
I have started reading the Wall Street Journal on a daily basis. The CFO of my company, who has recently left, used to get it delivered to him every day. Since he is gone the receptionist has been nice enough to give me the paper instead. Its funny, when I was young I thought I would never read the WSJ. I thought only old stuffy men read that paper. I guess I have become old and stuffy.

I found an interesting article today on the front page about Best Buy. It seems as if Best Buy wants to get rid of the "devil" customers. These are the customers who only come to the store to buy loss leaders like discounted DVDs or those who return merchandise to the store only to buy it back when it gets sold as an open item.

I have my doubts about this strategy but it looks like it is working at some of the pilot stores. There is no doubt that as a business it is better to focus on your higher profit customers than those who cost you to lose money but my doubts come from the ability to correctly identify and thus cater to the right customers.

I'm the perfect example. I am a high-income male who is a tech geek. I'm probably Best Buy's perfect target demographic except for one thing, I love a good deal and don't just waste my money. I often go to Best Buy just because it has great deals on things like DVDs. Since I'm used to shopping there I will often go to buy other items too. Now if Best Buy does away with some of its great deals I will be less likely to shop there for other things. I find myself going to Best Buy sometimes just to see if they have any good deals and end up buying something else.

Will the strategy work, I don't know. But it will be interesting to find out if Best Buy continues with the strategy and to see where it is in 5-10 years.

(Not the)Funniest Movie Ever

Friday, November 05, 2004
This weekend I rented Bruce Almighty. I'm not normally a Jim Carey fan but I watched it because Jenny's dad claimed that it was the funniest movie ever and actually got in a fight with her when she didn't agree. (Keep that in mind Jenny Smith Trivia buffs)

I have to say, I agree with Jenny. It was funny but come on, the funniest movie ever? There were moments when I laughed out loud, I thought the post-it prayers were pretty funny, but at other times I thought it was all kind of ridiculous.

My Vison: Four Months Later

Thursday, November 04, 2004
OK, this should probably be the final istallment about how my Lasik Procedure went barring any sudden blindless that might strike me.

Yesterday I went back to Dr. Assil's office for my check up after I had my touch-up. I have to say that I'm happy with my sight. Sometimes my eyes feel a little dry but that is to be expected. Every once in a while my sight gets a little wonky but it usually corrects itself in a few minutes. Overall my sight is very good. Probably better than when I had contacts. The doctor measured it at 20/15 and I could see that line pretty clearly.

My life has definitely changed now. My eyes aren't irritated nearly as much and I never have to worry about falling asleep with my contacts or remembering to bring a case wherever I go just in case I end up spending the night. Overall, well worth the money. I highly suggest it to anyone thinking about it.

Dr. Assil did a fine job. I think he is starting to become very very popular though which can be somewhat annoying. I hear his ads on the radio all the time and I get a hit or two a day on this little blog for people looking for info. Yesterday, I had to wait about 45 minutes just to see the doctor and for them to tell me I can see well. Yeah, big surprise. I know that Doctors are busy and it is hard to get an appointment but maybe I'm just old school in thinking that if you get an appointment you should be seen at that time plus or minus 10 minutes or so.

Update: For full story you should also see these post

All Lasik Post

Election 2004: The Aftermath

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
This will be my last political post for a long time as I'm sure most of us probably have had as much politics as anybody can handle.

Well Bush won. I was pretty upset about the whole thing last night but I've moved on. It is what it is and getting upset about the whole thing isn't going to undo it. In many respects it is better for me as I will probably have lower taxes and I leave a pretty normal life so I'm not too afraid of them knocking down my door because the suspect I'm a terrorist, at least I'm not scared yet.

So what happened? I'm not bitter and I'm not going to say that a majority of Americans are idiots. Bush won by a significant margin not to mention the Republicans strengthened their hold on both houses of Congress. Here is what I think happened to the Democrats.

Wrong Man

The Democrats might want to think about how they choose their candidate. Kerry was an absolutely awful choice to run for the Presidency. The man is notoriously liberal and most of America is in the center. Further, the man just isn't all that likeable. He definitely isn't Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Yes, I voted for Kerry but for me it was the lesser of two evils. But most people are not as socially liberal as I am so I can see how many Americans would be turned off by the whole thing.

Wrong Message

America isn't buying what the Democrats are selling. I do not think it is a fluke that the Republicans won the Presidency and both houses. America is concerned with the Economy, Terrorism, and the morality of America. Things they clearly think that the Republicans are better equipped to handle.

Democrats are much more popular with the poor and youth of America, people who notoriously do not come out to vote. Further, in times of economic hardship it is a hard sell to say that people should pay more taxes and expand government to boost the economy. People care about their own situation and want their lives to be better. The American people have spoken, and they have said that they feel safer with George Bush in the White House than John Kerry. Perhaps people, and I'm not making a judgment here, really are fed up with the amount of taxes that we all pay and are willing to give up some of their civil liberties in order to get some relief. I don't know.

Wrong Time

The timing is just off. Iraq and terrorism are still big issues and people clearly feel Bush is better equipped to handle the problem. Further, the economy is bad but shows some signs of recovery. This may make people scared to jump ship at this point and go in a new direction.

So there you have it. I'm an optimist and hope that things get better over the next 4 years. Like I said, for me personally they probably will. I just hope the rest of the country is there with me in 4 years.

Why I am Not a Republican

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Yesterday I wrote about why I am not a Democrat. Today I will write about why I am not a Republican.

It's a shame because if the Republicans were to just stick with the principles of what the Republican party was founded I might be a Republican. Republicans believe in small government and they believe laissez-faire capitalism. But somewhere along the way the Party of Lincoln lost its way.

There is one main reason I'm not voting Republican this year, George W. Bush. The man is a complete moron, but really this is a problem much deeper than one man. Somehow the Republican party has been corrupted by the Religious Right. How this marriage made in hell was formed I do not know.

Somehow the Party became about imposing moral and religious beliefs onto the rest of the nation. It became the party of Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gays, and Anti-Free speech. It is now Pro-Christian, Pro-Gun, and Pro-Dumb-Ass-Leaders.

So long as the Religious Right have a voice in the party I will not vote for a Republican candidate. Not only do I not share these beliefs but even if I did I would not impose them on other people. My government should be about opening up choices for me, not limiting them because of some religious belief I do not share.

There are of course other problems I have with Republicans. Top on the list is the Patriot Act. How idiotic is it to remove our freedoms so we can protect our freedom? Let's infiltrate peaceful Muslim Groups just to make sure they aren't planning a terror attack. Let's collect personal information about every American just to make sure they aren't committing crimes, after all if you have nothing to hide what does it matter? This is wrong. You can not treat people this way. Let me repeat. YOU CAN NOT TREAT PEOPLE THIS WAY. I actually heard people say after 9/11 they felt scared when they saw a Muslim person on the plane. How stupid are these people? Why don't we just lock up all the Muslims and why we are at it all the Black and Asian people? That way we can be sure that all the White people can feel safe.

Even a lot of the economic policy is crazy. While by no means Anti-Big-Business, I definitely do not believe government should be deciding winners and losers either by handing certain corporations and farms subsidies. Certainly Republican ties to things Enron and Halliburton are a little bit concerning to say the least.

I hate to say it but I'll vote Republican when they put someone on the ticket that won't impose his or her religious beliefs on to the rest of society. Its sad. I will take my social concerns over my economic concerns even if I think in many ways they are linked. While I know many people think the Republican party is anti-poor I actually believe in the long run free markets benefit the poor. But that is a different topic for another day.