Sunday, December 30, 2012

This blog has moved to

Hi, folks. All of my personal writing now lives at The archives of this blog are all there. And it's prettier.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Californian brother meets Ohio winter

Last night Curt flew in from San Diego, where has lived for nearly 20 years. Then it started snowing. Then he did this:

Good to have you visiting, Curt.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A date with my best girl

I took Anna out to dinner tonight. It was a combination birthday dinner and reward for memorizing her multiplication tables up through twelve. A few weeks ago I asked her where she wanted to go. I had assumed she'd want Chinese or Mexican or something. Nope.

"I want to go someplace fancy," she said.

"Fancy? Like what grownups would consider fancy?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "Maybe a steak place. I want steak."

So I decided to take her to Ocean Club. She may be turning nine, but she's a very mature nine.

Our evening started with drinks. I had a Cabernet, she had a Shirley Temple:

Next came a "birthday candle," which was dry ice in a martini shaker:

Cherry first:

I let Anna choose the appetizer. Sadly, she was unwilling to try oysters. But the Aged Wisconsin Cheddar Fondue was a hit. She ate the salami and crostini, I ate the broccoli and carrots:

Anna likes steak, but she's only ever had it cooked by her grandfather or me, and we just give it to her without much fuss. I prepped her about how one orders steak beforehand, including the part about how what most of us consider medium rare at home is closer to medium at a steak house.  When the waiter asked for her order, she said "petite filet, a bit above medium rare but still pink, please." The waiter smiled at me. The gray-haired couple just behind Anna later flashed me a thumbs up. Damn straight I'm raising her right.

She did not pussyfoot around. Oh, and the fries: Parmesan truffle.

Dessert is served:

Oh yeah:

And thus ends our night on the town.

The best part of a wonderful evening: it was so damn natural. Anna wasn't self-conscious. She wasn't constantly asking me questions about everything. It wasn't like some gimmicky and contrived event. We just enjoyed ourselves. We talked about all kinds of things during dinner. She told me about some stories she's been writing. We talked about our plans for the weekend. While on one level you could tell that she was enjoying doing a grownup thing, for the most part it was as though we go out like this all the time, and it was no big deal.

By the time the night was over I heard myself thinking "I'm going to have nice dinners like this with Anna for the rest of my life."  My little girl felt so grown up to me. It felt fantastic.

And if we can ever get Carlo to drop his "nothing fancier than Chipotle" rule, he can start joining us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Great Moments in Customer Service

Back in November I bought two iPhones. One for me, one for Allison. Since we were both eligible for upgrades (and Allison was switching to my plan) they cost the introductory price of $199. Not bad for a little rectangle with more computing power than anything that existed until, like, a couple of years ago.

I got mine, activated it and was and have been happy ever since.  Then Allison's showed up, shipped to me. I was going to San Antonio the following week and was going to bring it to her but she was so eager to get it and I was so eager for her to have it I figured I'd ship it to her so she could get it earlier. Without ever taking it out of the box I slapped her address on it and sent it to her via Priority Mail.

Big mistake. Because it never got there. Just disappeared into the ether. Probably stolen by a postal worker. But the biggest mistake was all mine: I didn't track it or insure it or anything. Just stupid, but I didn't even really think about it. I've never had anything lost in the mail so I figured this thing would be fine too. And it wasn't. One of the dumber things I've ever done.

I followed up with the postal service. As of now that's still unresolved. They really have no clue and, because I didn't buy insurance, they have no incentive to find a clue.  Then I followed up with the insurance company that covers the phone, Asurion. Their position: even though I have insurance for all the phones on my account, no device is covered until it's activated and since Allison's phone has never been turned on they don't have to cover it.  Seems stupid -- I have proof I bought it -- but that was their policy and they were sticking to it.

So I called Verizon. Mostly to tell them about the phone being lost, but also to see if I couldn't buy another iPhone from them at the $199 price.  Their position: sorry, you only get one at that price and since it wasn't their fault it's lost -- it got to me just fine and then I shipped it off and lost it -- the best they can do is to sell me another one at full retail. Which is nearly $700. Christ on a crutch I wanted no part of that.  The next best thing they'd do is to try to persuade Asurion to cover it anyway. They'd contact them and call me back, but they literally told me not to count on anything good happening.

As of this morning it was two weeks since Verizon said they'd do that and I hadn't heard anything, so I called them.  While I was on hold, I started tweeting random things. Not out of anger, really, just out of boredom. Stuff like this:
And this:
That last part was because I was thinking about how I could game the system by, say, having my mom get an iPhone at the promotional price, decide she didn't like it, keep the phone, go back to her flip phone and then have Allison "buy" the phone from her and activate it on her number. Which could've worked, probably, even if I hadn't thought it all out yet.

But then something interesting happened:

And then, after some back and forth:

Which was rather surprising.  But not as surprising as the fact that, after I responded, my phone rang and the woman on the other end said "Hi, I'm calling from the CEO's office of Asurion, and we want to help you solve your problem."

Long story short: Asurion agreed to make an exception in my case and cover the lost/stolen phone even though, per policy rules, they didn't have to. Two minutes on the phone and they had another iPhone ready to ship to Allison. She'll get it tomorrow.  I'm gobsmacked.

Of course, I'm also pretty sure that neither Verizon nor Asurion get involved in this via Twitter if I don't have over 14,000 Twitter followers. Not that I'd start raising hell or anything, but I guess they don't know that.  Either way, I'm sitting here this evening feeling pretty satisfied, even if it's because, as far as social media goes, I'm part of the 1%.