Wait ‘Til Next Year!

After a nail-biting 27 – 14 loss to the Houston Texans, my beloved Oakland Raiders have been eliminated from the playoffs. It was the Raiders’ first playoff appearance since Jesus was in middle school, and if they’d managed to score more points than the Texans, they would have won! The Raiders’ principal weaknesses were offense and defense. Also, special teams.

Rebuilding!
Rebuilding!

It is typically at this point in the season that I shift my allegiance to the Seahawks (who face the Lions as I write this) until they lose in a subsequent round. At that point, all that’s left is rooting for whoever ends up facing the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

In the meantime, I invite you to join me in getting a head start hating the Patriots, who cheat and who voted for T****. I hate the Patriots year-round, but my hate intensifies in January/February, and there’s plenty of hate to go around, so pull up a chair and enjoy some!

More later.

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Complaints and Irritations, Part Infinity + 1

On this day in history: three fails.

Times 3
Times 3

Fail No. 1: The “Rent” Thing
My apartment building has a new owner, and I signed up for automatic rent payments through the new “resident portal.” I’ve paid my rent this way for about six years. Yesterday, despite the fact that I live. in. the. building., I received a paper bill via U.S. Mail from some entity in Utah (even though the rental office is in. the. building.) for my rent. I’m happy to pay my rent once, but I have numerous objections to paying my rent twice. So, I called the toll-free number (even though the rental office is in. the. building.), and spoke to somebody who sounded like she was 12 (okay, maybe 13) and somewhat confused by the process of talking into — and then hearing a voice come out of — the telephone. I needed her to access my account in the payment system and initiate the draw. She told me she would have to make a note of the situation and have somebody who actually works there (or something) “investigate” and get back to me. This phone call took place early in the bid’ness day, but I never heard back. Do I have even one second to deal with this tomorrow? Nope.
01/05/17 UPDATE: Upon my third attempt, I was able to speak to the person in the rental office. She was just back from a “management training session” run by the new owners, and it showed. I stated my issue, and after about three paragraphs’ worth of admin speak, I was able to decipher that the new automatic debit system kicks in with February’s rent. At that point, I pulled out my phone and made a one-time rental payment via the building app. Lordy.

Fail No. 2: The “Canceled Coat Order” Thing
After the “Fake Canada Goose” fiasco, I ordered a parka in the Eastern Mountain Sports store here in town, but then canceled the order by phone when I found another parka at Outdoor Sports Center (oh, man, what a great store!) that I preferred, and that was on after-Christmas sale for not much more than the lesser-quality Eastern Mountain Sports parka. I have a “parka problem,” but I’m dealing with it. The first step is acknowledgement.

Anywho, the local EMS store said I had to call national customer service to cancel the order, which I did. But since I haven’t received the credit on my AMEX, I called national customer service again this morning to investigate. They referred me back to the local store to pursue the matter. So, I called the local store (again) and this time got a very nice clerk who didn’t sound high at all. She investigated and called me back with the news that the system has been “slow” in refunding credit card charges, and that she expects to hear back from the relevant “order cancellation review” parties “in the next couple of days.” It has already been more than a week.
01/06/17 UPDATE: I called EMS corporate customer service again today and finally got somebody who acted like she has a job. She checked on my transaction and reported that the refund has been processed and should appear in a couple of days — only 12 days or so after I canceled my original order.

Fail No. 3: More of the “Fake Canada Goose” Thing
Finally this morning, I called my VISA Card issuer to follow up on my Counterfeit Canada Goose disputed charge fraud investigation, for which I have submitted both the .pdf of the screen capture of my “order” and documentation from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (they’re in Canada) that “LucyInTheSky” from Shanghai is a recognized fraudulent website. The guy on the phone noted that nobody had canceled my VISA and re-issued another one to prevent further fraudulent charges, so we did that. The old card is now dead, and there is a 10 business-day wait for the new one in the mail. Also, the guy on the phone is initiating the refund process for the fraudulent charge. So much for handling this through the internet, where I filed the initial report and submitted the documentation two weeks ago.
01/06/17 UPDATE: My VISA card holder has reversed the fraudulent “fake Canada Goose” charge and restored the funds to my account. On my way out tomorrow, I will put the trash bag with the noxious chemical smell coat down the chute. Then I will go to Burlington Coat Factory (which offers a new-purchase discount to customers who donate coats) to see if I can buy some children’s coats to put directly into donation. Because it’s cold out.

Some skunks
Some skunks

Conclusion
I have no idea how it might help, but I’m getting a dog and moving deep into the woods. Until this world becomes a safe space for the easily irritated, we may have no choice but to relocate to a clean and quiet place where we can complain about noisy birds, the skunks under the back porch, and those goddam squirrels.

More Music. Less TV.

These are trying and distracting times, and they’re likely to get worse before they get better. One thing that’s helped me “deal” has been reducing my TV time. I dropped CATV last year, and the recovery of mindshare has been notable. There’s been a lot less “white noise,” and a significant increase in clearer thinking.

Early 1960s Rek-O-Kut turntable. Identical to my father's.
Early 1960s Rek-O-Kut turntable. Identical to my father’s.

I always have found comfort and solace in music — singing it, playing it and listening to it. My formative music was jazz. My parents owned a small club when I was a toddler, and I guess it’s now safe to let Child Services know that I was often put to bed behind the bar in that smoke-filled space. A bit later, when I was about six, my mother took me to hear Andres Segovia in concert, and I fell in love with the classical guitar — which I studied (unsuccessfully) for about 14 years.

I suck at the guitar, but there was a time when I was a better-than-average singer. I sang with the Yale Russian Chorus, the Cathedral Choral Society and other large and small groups during college, law school and afterwards. In addition, I inherited an addiction to hi-fi from my father, who built his first audiophile rig (turntable and electronics from kits; speakers homemade with University drivers) when I was about four. I’ve always had a “record player”, and still have the first LP my father gave me as a child — Several Shades of Jade by the vibraphonist Cal Tjader.

Anyway, I’ve been powering down over the holidays with music, and thought I’d share (in no particular order) some of the albums that stuck with me this year. I don’t know that any of these was recorded in 2016, but I listened to them in 2016, which is what counts.

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