Thursday, January 31, 2008

One or two.

Which do you find more visually pleasing?



From the brilliant people at British airways.

If there is anything you know about me - you know I can be easily placated by shiny things. Just the other day I told Mr S. that I could be in a full on pissey mood, and if I see something shiny I go from "Mongo kill people" to "arrrhh ... shiny".

This is why I say the people at British Airways are brilliant. No where on earth puts you in a " Mongo kill people" mood like an airport. Right? So, the airport installs these digital sculptures to keep people like me placed. Don't you think that is brilliant? I could sit and watch it for hours. Yeah.. I'm easily amused. So are you.. because you read this blog.

I feel robbed!

Courtesy tvnz.co.nz.

UK women get bra price equality
Jan 29, 2008 8:24 PM

Forty years after feminists threatened to burn their bras, British women have won another battle in the fight for equality.

Asda, Britain's second-biggest food retailer and owned by US giant Wal-Mart, says it will no longer charge women more for bigger bras in its George fashion range.

"We're putting an end once and for all to one of the last prejudices - that of the bigger-busted woman," said brand director Fiona Lambert in a statement.

"From now on, all bras at George will be exactly the same price from A cup through to F cup."


Oh the humanity! Now that I've gone and changed my breast size - they lower the prices on bras? How is that fair or logical? I have to subsidize the cost of bras for larger breasted women? F-them! Where were all those women when my oppressive knockers were costing me extra?

And, of course we all agree large breasts are one of the last prejudices. There aren't any others left on earth. It's sub-human how women with big boobs are treated. Honestly. Wouldn't you agree?

Who says shit like that anyway? I was a big breasted woman, and - I've never been discriminated at because of it. As a matter of a fact - I had to fight my whole life to not get preferred treatment because of them. I don't begrudge women and their new largesse - but if you could afford to pay for those puppies. I'm sure you can afford a few more bucks a month to pay for the larger bras. Or did didn't it occur to you that bigger boobs cause bras to break down faster.

I swear, if I hear any bitching from these chicks about under-wires - I'm gonna loose it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't piss off the beaver voting block!

In a small Martinez town in California - a political storm has been brewing. What has gotten the residents so upset? Pot holes in roads? The public school system in shambles? More aid for the homeless? Well, sort of. Homeless beavers!

For months our news has covered this story endlessly. The city wanted to relocate the beavers. So, when or if, the rains eventually came they could prevent flooding in the downtown area.

But the beavers were so cute. Like little water bunnies. And really - who doesn't like water bunnies? You? Well, you suck then!

The rains did come... and the town did become close to flooding. Out came the conspiracy theories like little Dennis Kucinich rainbows. The heavy stream flow didn't break the beaver dams - the city did. Because they hate cute little black water beavers. See - the Mercury news even says so. Even though you have to register to read the f-ing news. Assholes!

Mercury News.com

"Some city residents on Saturday reportedly thought city workers were tearing out the dam, but Scola said they only removed a few large branches. They piled most of the branches and twigs dislodged by the raging waters on the bank so the beavers can rebuild the dam without taking down more trees.

There's no conspiracy to take opportunities to dismantle the dam needlessly," said Councilman Mark Ross, chairman of the city's Beavers in Alhambra Creek Subcommittee. "The beavers will rebuild, it looks like they started on one side."


The furor has become so heated. Save our bunnies, save our bunnies. I mean beavers. Look at this little gem from the news:



The beavers even have their own f-ing blog. Martinesbeavers.com.

Is it really rational to loose your political career just because of some cute fuzzy animals? Are things really so cushy in this world - this is more important than homelessness or taxes, or terrorism?

So I say, get behind the beaver platform. Or else I'll send my little friends to break - I mean knaw your legs. Really. I mean it.. I'm scared to sleep.

Bunnies support unions. I mean beavers. Or beaver unions. Whatever.

Everything is going to be okay.

I think.

Yesterday was pretty much a meltdown. It was the first day I'd felt I'd lost control of my project. My kitchen guy is now at the house helping me with some stuff while we are waiting for the kitchen to arrive. He is a really good guy. A bit of a control freak - but he does amazing work.

From here on out.... lets just call him the alpha contractor.

Oh yeah. I've come to realise you can tell who the alpha contractor is - by who has the most ginormous truck. Honestly. I know what the hierarchy of the contractor in my house by the size of his truck. You notice lawn guys normally drive around in somewhat small trucks. They are lower on the contractor hierarchy.

So anyway.. back to the alpha contractor. Lets just say - he and I have a struggle of wills occasionally. Well.. pretty often. Since he is the alpha contractor, and really the professional - he tends to want to do things his way. But unlike a lot of people who turn houses - we've been working on houses for a long time. We definitely don't do things as quickly as someone does that job 24/7 - but we aren't dumb asses either.

So it took me about an hour yesterday to convince him that our pocket doors wouldn't suck. He hates them because they always tend to jam up over time. Which is true. Plus, the doors are not hollow core, and therefore heavy and more prone to jam up over time. After Mr S. hunted down some super heavy duty hardware to make sure that doesn't happen - he was fine. But it was a struggle.

I know I should be happy he doesn't just say okay to everything I want.. and I am. I just want some happy mediums some day. I know.. greeeeedy!

Which brings me to my other revelation. When I started this whole thing I was absolutely convinced I wasn't going to be anything like Jeff Lewis from Flipping Out. I felt I was neurotic. Just not that neurotic. But - I totally get it now. Contractors drive you to insanity. You really have to walk around with a tape measure and a level making sure they are doing everything correctly. It isn't like I haven't often been driven crazy by contractors, but with such a short project time frame - they can really grind you down to the nubbins.

In other news - I made it through the DMV. It was mostly fine. The interesting thing is, that Mr S's licence expires in July. So, we thought we would both renew at the same time.

Apparently if you renew early - you have to take the test. Which would have been fine if he had known that before hand. He would have just done a once through refresher read while we were waiting. But - if he renews 60 days before his licence expires, he can sail right through without the test. I don't really understand the logic of that. Its like they penalize you for being proactive. Whatever.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Todays wig out moment.

There are so many things that are going to push me over the edge today - but my fucking creepy neighbors are going to piss.... my.... shit.... off.

So - I walk out of my office into the living room, which has a full wall of glass sliders. This looks out onto the backyard. There, I see my neighbor to the back - up on a ladder at the fence line. Staring into my living room. I was so socked by it I was stopped in my tracks. I was looking at him - he was looking at me. And we just froze dead locked on each other for a few seconds.

Surely he was working on his yard and cutting trees or something. Right? Okay, even though there weren't any tree's directly around him. Lets give him the benefit of the doubt. Except when he saw I wasn't moving from my position - he got down from the ladder and moved it. That doesn't look guilty. Right?

What the fuck was that? If I hadn't have been so shocked I would have asked the fucker what he was doing. And it wasn't even like he is a young guy.

Oh - and if this isn't enough. I've been having a conversation with my husband for months about our neighbor to the front. I'd been chalking his behaviour up to being nosey. But honestly now, I just find it creepy.

To get from my living room to the kitchen - I have to pass the front door which has a very small pocket window. I can see his front door from this window. A lot of times I'll walk into the kitchen and then on the way back to the living room - out of the corner of my eye I will see him standing at the sidewalk and the walkway that leads up to his door. Just looking at our house.

For months I have been complaining to Mr S. that they were super nosey. That every time I was in the front yard - the neighbor would find some reason to be out in his front yard. Mr S. thought I was crazy. Until every project Mr S. and I did in the front yard - the neighbor would find some reason to come out in his front yard.

Now you might still not be convinced the behaviour isn't co-incidence - but I still have those security cams on the house. Every once in a while I'm not sure if I'm just being overly sensitive, and I'll run the camera back. But like clock work. If Mr S or I are doing something in the front yard - up pops the neighbors garage door and out he comes.

That neighbor is just annoying... but the one to the back - I feel like going over to his house and telling him if I catch him doing that again I will call the police. WTF?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More about kids.

This morning while out at breakfast - we sat in a restaurant filled with small children. They weren't bothering me at all. Which caused me to totally wonder why these kids weren't bugging me, and that kid yesterday was.

I told my husband that maybe I was becoming a little racist - because it normally it was children of middle Eastern decent that seemed to bother me the most.

Which would be sort of odd actually. I think I hate most people equally - not one group over another. If you are causing me to not move freely about my business. Well - I pretty much hate you. Holding up a line. Yep.. hate.

Those are the only two speeds I have. I don't really have to time break it down into cultural boundaries. And why bother?

So anyway, back at the restaurant. I sat around looking at these children. Some who were even pretty fussy. I trying to figure out what the difference was. When it hit me.

Middle Eastern cultures seem to hold their children less than other cultures. These children, even though they were crying - the parents would pick them up and put them on their laps. They were still crying and fussy. But not loud wailing permeating every bit of space - hear them across the room type of fussy.

And yes.. I do go out to breakfast a lot. Especially if I have to work or shop. It's best for everyone. If you were wondering.

Now I must go watch my Amazon unbox download of The Bridge to try and forget about my shopping experience.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

All survived - so far.

First shopping trip down. One to go.

I've decided that I don't hate shopping as much as I just hate people. But, as warehouse sales go - it wasn't that bad. There were no screaming children. Except at breakfast.

Beautifully behaved children to the back of us. A horrible monster all the way on the other side of the room. And parents who had no concept of teaching their poiled little spawn about inside voices. A whiny little monster at that.

I've also decided that I don't so much hate children and dogs as much as I hate children and dogs with voices. In the long - long ago... children were to be seen and not heard.

Anyway....back to the warehouse sale. We picked up a stove and a dishwasher. I think did amazingly well with the crowds. Despite being up a lot of the night.

Normally, when I'm not able to sleep - the night is too quiet. But I can't do anything that makes my brain engage. I can't look at lights. I can't watch TV or the Internet. But, last night the wind was howling. And, I found it actually comforting. It was like weather white noise.

One more shopping trip tomorrow. Next week will be really busy. And I have to go the DMV to renew my licence. You all know how that is going to go. Not well.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Trick? Or treat?

No snow yet. Now is your time to double down and make those bets. The smart money would bet against snow. It isn't really reasonable to think it will snow at 400 feet above sea level. But Santa Cruz got pounded with snow yesterday. It looked like a scene from Tahoe. I can see snow on the hills for christ sakes, and it is oh-so-bone chilling cold.

I know your readers from back East are rolling your eyes... but whatever. It's cold.

This morning we awoke to our water heater being out. Did I mention how much I hate being cold? I've barely recovered from the heater being out for a few days. I'm beginning to think my house hates me - and wants to slowly kill my soul.

Anyway... Mr S. lights the pilot - And goes upstairs to take a shower. I immediately hear the water turn off. He comes down to report there isn't any warm water. He goes out to check the pilot and sees it's gone out again.

Since this has happened about 10 times in the last two weeks - I start to think we need to replace the water heater. I grumble about how things that make you warm can never go out when its warm. Mr S. proceeds to take a cold shower. Which is always a perfect way to start out the day. Isn't it?

After he goes to work I take a stab at trying to see if I can get the water heater working. I just have a hard time with intermittent problems. I pretty much feel that simple technology either works or it doesn't. And until it doesn't... it isn't actually actually broken.

Despite never having lit a pilot light before I get it running. Yes.. I do think I'm a god at that moment. And - I think it will make Mr. S's day that he doesn't have to deal with it.

Sadly - the patting myself on the back only lasted about 25 minutes.

I couldn't believe it would run for that long and really be broken. So I sat out in the garage for like a half an hour watching the pilot light. Hey - you can be pretty motivated to do such things when you haven't gotten a shower yet. I was really not looking forward to taking a cold shower. Turns out it is my old nemesis - the wind. Man I hate the wind.

So - if the gusts ever die down. Maybe I can have some hot water. Until then.. I'm pretty screwed. I'm guessing the water heater isn't vented correctly. And that will need to be fixed. Hopefully not the Friday before a weekend. Which is when everything seems to want to break. Plus, I just hate shelling out unplanned money.

In other news... I'm sort of dreading the weekend. I have a lot of shopping to do. You all know how much I love shopping - right? I'll be going to a big appliance warehouse sale. Where I'm sure I'll want to burn holes in the sides of peoples heads with lasers. Our kitchen guy has returned to help us out with a bunch of stuff. So I need to shop so he can be productive.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This is why I'm constantly bitchy.

Honestly!

So - you remember I'm having to deal with the neighbors about the fences that blew down here a couple of weeks ago right? Yes, no, anyone?

Turns out I have to deal with three of them. Neighbors that is. One is motivated to do something. The cheap neighbor with the dog who apparently stiffs contractors. Allegedly.

At last report - I told him my guy was out of town, and that he should get some quotes on his own. He is turning the damaged fences into his insurance company. Despite the fence being broken since the moment we moved into this house two years ago. I was turning a blind eye to the insurance fraud - because honestly I just want my fence fixed. Okay.. so you are up to speed on the back story. Right?

So - he comes over today to ask if I'd gotten any quotes for the repair. Which I had. But, since it was from one of my guys - it was less than what the normal charge for replacing it would be. The neighbors half of the fence would be about 800 bucks. Normally it would be about a grand. Cheap neighbor, hasn't gotten any quotes apparently, and wants my guys to give him a "fair market quote". Translation... he wants my contractor to make a higher quote on paper. So he can turn it into his insurance company. Then pay the original quote cost. About 800 bucks.

Let's just put him wanting me to help him with insurance fraud aside for a moment. He has a deductable of 500 bucks. So, for 300- 500 bucks, he is going to have his rates go up. And risk them booting him. Insurance companies take a dim view of people turning in a lot of small claims. A lot of times they will just cancel you.

But at least he gets to make a net profit of about 200 bucks. Just Ridiculous. I'm not sure why he thinks I want to help him make any money from the insurance company, when I'm paying full price for the repairs anyway.

Hell - eminently freezing over.

Have you been missing me yet?

I'm just going to give a general update to keep you up with what's going on.

First - I'm pretty much exhausted. I'm about 90% done with painting at the crap shack. Yeah.. it did take a long time. Never underestimate the power of how much a smoker can fuck a place up.

I didn't think it was a big deal. But, I've now learned that you must go with the most expensive stain blocker primer to handle that shit. So, the whole painting thing took me a lot longer than I thought. I'm still confident I saved money. Or, at least being pissed at the contractor for cheaping out and not using block out the sun style primer. I'm waiting for other elements in the house anyway. So the time setback wasn't a big deal.

Second - there are many things I hate about the weather. But cold is one of them. Well, I hate wind too. It pretty much pisses me off. Yeah - I don't even feel bad admitting the wind makes me grumpy. I know a couple of people who absolute hate the wind as much as I do. So - I feel completely normal.

Anyway.. cold is still pretty much at the top. Put wind and cold together. I might decide not to leave the house that day. The past few days however, in some places of the Bay Area - there has been snow. Really!

I've been sure it was going to snow here for two days. Which made me super excited. Now its been cold for so long - I'm just hating life. I think today might be the day though. Place bets now! Right now it is 1:00, and 43 degrees.

Lastly - Today I went over to a new crap shack. Really, I was just keeping an eye on my competition. This house was one street over and listed as a fixer. It actually is the same model as our current crap shack.

It was suppose to be vacant, but when we got there a gal was working on the place. She was desperately trying to get all the old people wall paper off the walls. So someone would want to buy the place. She was having various degrees of success. Taking wall paper off - is a suck ass job.

There was a single mattress in the living room. So I guess she had been sleeping there too. My agent/friend and the woman were talking as I checked out the place. Apparently, she was the daughter of the owner who had died like a year ago. We genuinely gave her our sympathies.

But - this of course gave my agent an open to start poking me. Because she knows I feel a little guilt about buying these sorts of houses. Once we get to the back bedroom she turns to me and asks "so - are you just going to start capitalising solely on dead people houses"? As if I even knew that was why it was a fixer upper. I just saw the for sale sign. But, that doesn't stop her from ribbing me. She even made a slogan. One foot out the door? Call Ms. Snarkolepsy.

At any rate. I'm learning that if a house on the market is in complete disrepair - chances are someone has recently died.

It's too bad I'm not further along with the other crap shack - because I really felt bad for the woman. She obviously didn't have money to fix the place. Or she would have hired someone. Most buyers won't buy a house like that. So she is stuck trying to make some nominal improvements to get someone interested.

Anyway.. I should be posting pictures soon of our crap shack progress. It's been rainy and dark, so as soon as the sun breaks I'll get to taking some pictures. I'm really happy with the way things are shaping up. The other day, as Mr S. was cleaning the pain sprayer out - I got a chance just to hang out for a minute and appreciate how cute the place was going to look. And imagine how happy some new family would be living there.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Crazy town. Population -1.

I figure you guys are tired of hearing about this. Tough. If you are reading this now, you are in it for the duration. And, you will be happy - so I don't have to be.

I think its safe to say that from here on out I will be loosing my mind.

Oh! You were bored in the beginning weren't you. Everything is great. My guys are great. It was a big giant love fest.

Now I am the mother of 10. All with their own ideas on how things should be done. Them with giant personalities with a tons of baggage and drama.

I want to be like I am on this blog. An asshole. But the truth is, these are nice guys. They are hard workers. I like them. Sometimes its just way too much all at the same time.

The sad thing is - after this project is done. I will gain a little amnesia - and do this all over again. It happens after every project.

I say never again.. and what do I do? Start all over again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Christian, a Hungarian, and an atheist walk into a house.

I'm not happy today. And not in my usual jovial sarcastic way. I did wind up getting sick from Vegas. It sucks, but it wasn't unexpected I guess. My back also got tweaked in Vegas to pre surgery levels. So last night I spent sleepless and spasm-ey.

And - my contractors are driving me nuts.

This is the thing. I decided early on to delegate jobs at the crap shack to those who were best qualified. So, instead of having one guy do all the work - we'd have a kitchen guy do the kitchen, roof guy do the roof. You get the idea.

When I was in computers I learned very quickly the differences between generalists, and specialists. Generalists know a little about a lot of stuff. Specialists know a lot about one thing. I'd say I'm more of a generalist. And this is how I treat my contractors.

Hiring a generalist to do all your stuff gets you into trouble. Plus - I don't really like having to depend on one person. That also gets you into trouble. So now I'm at the point of pulling in new contractors. Or ones I haven't worked with as much - and its stretching my communication abilities pretty hard in ways I hadn't anticipated.

For instance my kitchen guy - who we've worked with before has become a more dedicated born again Christian. This presents all sorts of tiptoeing around for me. Reveal my beliefs, and things quickly start to suck for me.

I've got a new tile guy who is Hungarian, apparently. He doesn't speak much English. I don't really have any Hungarian skills. And the guy who normally does my fence work is out of town, and has referred me to his dad who speaks quite a bit less English than my guy. Which sucks all around, because I haven't worked with him - and the weather is conspiring to make my life miserable. The fences at my place are propped up on both sides, and I am forced to deal with these neighbors. Plus a new worker.

I have like 10 minutes before I get my back worked on. Maybe I'll have a somewhat better attitude after that.. but for now. Not happy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

When contractors take over your life.

One thing I didn't account for in the crap shack is all the social interaction. Yes, I expected to meet with a lot more people than I normally do. Managing contractors is a lot of work. Obviously.

What I didn't expect was all my contractors to turn into girlfriends. Yeah.. that's right. Girlfriends. That is actually what I call them now. Mostly because they talk as much or more than girls.

It is sort of worse than having girlfriends, because at least my actual girlfriends talk me into the ground and give me a break for a little while.

Since these guys have worked with us on several jobs now, we've gotten pretty friendly. Which means you talk about wives, kids, grand kids, family problems, etc, etc, etc. A 15 minute work issue can turn into an hour social gathering. And no - they don't get paid more for hanging out. They get paid the same whether it takes them one day or 9 years. Some of them call "just to chat".

Most of the time it isn't a problem. But when I'm overloaded - I just want them to be guys, and grunt as a form of expression. When did men become so chatty anyway?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stuck in your head.

I'm always a little surprised at myself, when I initially am not that fond of something, and it winds up being something I completely love. So much so - that I will go out of my way to find it.

Which is how Mr S. and I found ourselves at another tile store. It's called Porcelanosa. It really is one of the most beautiful showrooms I've seen. Its very modern, and doesn't have any country kitchy stuff that doesn't interest us.

Some stuff is a little over the top. Like this sink. It's glass.





I'm not sure who in their right minds would have a glass bottomed sink. But it does look kind of neat. A marriage ruiner - but still very neat looking.

Anyway... it all started out with these tiles.



When we saw them recently - they really stood out because they were 12 inches by 35 inches. It's a pretty unusual size. I couldn't imagine how they could be used. And they had this weird moray pattern. They just seemed odd to me. I didn't really like them.

But, I was intrigued because of their unusual size, and wound up looking for a store on the web to see if they showed any design pictures of them. Turns out - the company who makes them had a store here locally.

This is how they are displayed at the tile store. I completely fell in love with them.



The rest of these are just other design displays.



OH! Except for this one. Remember those bubble tiles I've talked about a few times? Here. It turns out they don't look as odd as I thought. They had a display of them.



They still aren't my style - but I found them interesting.





Saturday, January 12, 2008

You had me at blinky lights. End.

Alright... this is the end of the car shots. I'm done with it. You are done with it. Let's just get them over and move on.

Lamborghini doors were also a big thing this year. Normally, I wouldn't even make mention of it - except Mr S. wants to put Lamborghini doors on everything! I hate the idea.

For a while, he was really stuck on buying those kind of doors for the Solstice and I had to talk him down time after time. I think it would look tardly. Go figure - huh?



I just like this shot. Because sometimes I think I'm a car photographer, and I'm not. But when does that stop me?



The obligatory lime green Ferrari. You can't go to a car show without seeing one.



I don't even care about this car. But it had these lights I was super fascinated with. They sort of made me feel like I needed to pollinate something.





Oh yeah! You probably got to the end of this series and wondered why the fuck I would use such a stupid title? Anyone? You just have to take my word for it. Neon and blinky lights everywhere on these cars. I was so close to having a seizure.

Part 1 and 2 here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

You had me at blinky lights. Part2.

Part 1 here.

This year the cars seemed to be less about having a million monitors. Like last year. More about having a super fantastic - over the top paint job. Monitors did still show up in unusual places like this one in the area where the motor goes.

Yes.. that is Snoop Dog.

























You had me at blinky lights.

I'm going to start out with the car stuff. I realise I'm probably the only one who thinks the cars at CES are awesome. Even Mr S. isn't that interested in them. And he is a car guy.

I am not even sure why I find them so interesting. Honestly, it's pretty unlike me. If I saw one of these cars on the street - I'd probably want to beat the owner with a club. Or burn holes in their heads with the lasers I shoot from my eyes. But when I get to CES, I turn into complete tard. I just can't explain it. Mr S. says it's the same reason guys like boobs. Men can't explain it. They just like them - and I get about as goofy as men do around boobs. Even the reaction from the others guys at the show make it clear they think I've lost my mind. But, see those same guys over with the booth babes... they turn into dorks. Same thing~!

Let me give you an example. Try to look at the faces on the guys crowding around this van which was easily the loudest on the show floor. Vibrate the walls, feel the bass on your chest loud.



Now look at the face on this guy at a babe booth.



Honestly... as you are browsing my pictures - look at the faces of the guys in the photos. Then refer to my booth babe shot.

-
I just realised I'm going to have to charge some batteries before I can unload more pictures. So let me start you out with this:

Shouldn't there be some law that if you are wearing a pink turban and tie, you shouldn't be allowed to checkout this fine Bentley? Honestly. They should make a whole law. Right?





Hello Kindle.

Mr S.'s kindle arrived this morning. It was ordered on Dec 1st. For all those tracking that sort of thing to find out when theirs might arrive.

First impressions?

It is less hideous in person than it looks in pictures. It is also much smaller than I expected. Most of the pictures I've seen makes it look bigger.

This is what it looks like next to the Amazon shipper invoice. Which is about a 3rd of a sheet of regular paper.







Now I must drink more coffee and unload about a billion photos from CES. Yeah - I know everyone has already covered CES. But you are going to like my coverage better. I wasn't forced to be there. So I'm not all jaundiced and resentful.

See you soon!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Leaving Las Vegas.

As if!

Seriously - I'm sitting at the airport on delay. But when I get back.... I have some crazy photos for you!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Embarrassing customer support at iRobot.

It is really rare for me to yell at a customer support representative. I actually can't remember the last time I did. Even though I've had some truly horrible customer service experiences.

Plus, I used to work that field. So while I can be upset at the company, I understand it isn't usually the fault of the person trying to solve my customer service needs. I go out of my way to not not yell at the reps, and let them know I'm upset at the company. Not them.

Today, however - I lost it on iRobot.

It started this way:

I've been waiting 5 weeks for a cleaning head assembly and wheel module for our new Roomba 560.

This model was just released, and ours arrived at the beginning of September. After two months of use - the machine became really loud and stopped picking stuff up. Even accumulated dust. So we logged a trouble ticket on 11/24/2007 01:52 PM. At the time there was known known ship date for the replacement parts. After Christmas, I started to become cranky. So we ping'ed them. Again - no known date for replacement parts.

Today I decided to call them. My machine has been unusable for 5 weeks!

I started to become irritated pretty quickly. Their automated menu system makes it almost impossible to get to an operator. If you try to "Operator Out" - it actively prevents you - by saying that it will transfer you to an operator after you've made a selection from the menu system. Most people who "Operator Out" do so because the menu system doesn't accommodate their need - or they are pissed enough they just want to get to an operator.

At any rate, after navigating 5 menu levels I was put into the hold queue. Listening to this for 20 minutes. Honestly.. listen to the whole thing and imagine what 20 minutes of this is like.



When I got the rep, I immediately asked for a manager. Who promptly said she would need to know what the issue was - so she could see if a manager was available.

In my head I thought "she'd better make a manager available". But I did manage to give her a rundown of my problem. I'd been waiting 5 weeks for a part, and had been on hold more than 20 minutes to find out where my part was.

She proceeded to try and transfer me to a manager, but clearly didn't know how. She tried a couple of times. At one point saying "oh crap". It took her 4 more minutes to try to transfer me. And! She wasn't even sure she had successfully done it - because as I was unloading on the manager - the original support rep was leaving me voicemail saying she thought we got disconnected and letting me know how to get in contact with the them.

By the time I got transferred it had been over 30 minutes. And... I... was... hot.

I told him I'd started out just trying to do a status check on a part. But now I wanted to know what the hell is going on over at the company. I told them the menu system made it almost impossible to talk to anyone. The amount of time I'd been on hold. And have they even listened to their hold music?

He said they'd been understaffed because of the holidays, and they were trying to get items out due to that. So I asked "when do you plan to get stuff out for your current customers"?

He said they had been doing an inventory, and it was completed on January 3rd. Again, I asked "so when can I expect my part"? He didn't want to give me an answer, but said for my trouble he would send out a brush set which normall would cost something like 17 dollars.

I was so mad at this point.

I told him I would rather he keep the brushes and have the company save that money and get peoples items out. I just wanted to know when he expected I could receive my part. He finally relented and said 12-14 days. Which will make it almost 2 months with a roomba that doesn't work.

And the thing that makes me oh so livid - is we were some of iRobots first customers. We have spent a lot of money with the company. The first 2 roomba's lasted 3 years. The third lasted a year. Our scooba needed to be replaced within the first 3 months. Story Here.

So - product quality has definitly been going downhill.

Now, this is how they treat their customers? It isn't like they are a new company anymore.

Tell me iRobot - why should I ever spend another dime at your company? After all these years, I don't even think I would refer their product to anyone I know.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The day of dread has begun.

One of the neighbors came over this morning to talk about our common fence.

I was a little bit surprised actually. He is the cheap one. He's also the one who has a bad rep in the contractor rumor mill.

Contractors all seem to know each other. And they all have their own little clicks. Which - I don't even want to get involved in. I don't care that much. I have too much crap going on. I don't even know if the rumors are true. But he did something to make them spread non-payment rumors about him.

Normally the idea of replacing the fence which was broken when we moved in (two years) ago - would make me super happy. But the whole thing sort of fills my head with static.

He wants to get quotes. I mean, I think he wants me to get quotes. He will probably want the lowest one. Which, I'm fine with. But the only guy I trust who does good work at a reasonable rate, wants to be paid in cash.

Since my neighbor is turning in an insurance claim for the fence due to the recent storm, I don't really know how that is going to work. And yes, it isn't lost on me that the he is probably committing some kind of insurance fraud. I told you - I don't care. I'm tired. He's probably been waiting for a giant fence wrecking storm to get someone else to pay for replacing it.

At any rate - I'm nervous to pay my guy to fix the fence, and hope the neighbor pays me. I'm also nervous that if I pay our half, the neighbor may never pay my guy for his half.

And, I need my contractor. He's a good guy, and a hard worker. I'm not doing anything to alienate that relationship.

Then finally - I'm a little neighbor overloaded. You know I have two sets right? So having my neighbor privacy taken away for a few days by having the fence down doesn't appeal to me right now.

I should note - except for the whole dog thing, the neighbor has been really good to us. He even gave us some quail he'd shot for Christmas. (No - I don't live in the country.) But it was a nice neighborly gesture. I guess. Right?

And - Oh yeah! I don't want his fucking dog camping out in our yard.

Update: I swear - I spoke too soon. The dogs always know when I'm running on no sleep. Cheap neighbors dog has been howling for ages. I'd share it with you if I knew how to embed audio files in my blog. But, I'll just slowly go crazy instead.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

When the rain cleared.

First this:



Then this:



Shot with a zoom lens.

An old crush revisited.

Since it was still raining today - we decided to visit the tile store. I must confess, I have a real fetish for tile. I have no idea why.

What I love even most are the tiles I think no one in their right minds would actually use. Below are a few examples for your pleasure.



Oh yes! That color burning your eyes is salmon.





These. I actually like. Although, finding a design that didn't look overdone would be complicated.

Yeah.. if you thought I was in my right mind, you've been reading the wrong blog. Duh.



I never understand the endless choices of tiles that look like wood grain. But they are somewhat fascinating.



And tile that make your project look like an old leather desk. Somebody must use them. Right?

Here is one from a recent tile store visit.



Other entries on my tile fetish here, here, here, and here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

These three crisis' are me.

Today was a pretty intense day. It really needed the song "O Fortuna" running in the background. You know... the one from Excalibur.



Not only were we trying to keep our garage from flooding - the crap shack also started to flood. So, between rotating 7 giant keg sized buckets in the garage to catch leaks, we had to try and figure out a way to divert water away from the foundation of the crap shack.







I'd like to say I'm upset about it. But honestly, I'd rather know now - than when another 100 year storm hits in a couple of years. 100 year storms hit every few years in California apparently.

I obviously don't want to get sued. But also we want the new owner's of the crap shack to be happy with the house. It would suck to move in a find out your place floods, and the previous owners probably knew about it. (Like the garage at my house for example.) It's not un-fixable, just surprising considering how much water was around the foundation. I guess it should have clicked with me why the neighbors yards are all higher than ours.

Anyway...the hurricane force winds were taking down trees everywhere.



Rain was coming down in buckets and making everything flood.







The wind was strong enough it actually put out the water heater pilot light in the garage. And - I still need to deal with my 2 neighbors about the fences.

But hey - the original worry of the morning, the crap shack gates - held up beautifully.
 
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