Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Damned brain.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Last night, the middle-of-the-night feeding came late. I finished nursing babies and helping Sheila get them back to bed around 2:30 pm, then crawled onto the futon in the living room to sleep until 6 pm.

But instead, I woke up half an hour later having a vivid, frustrating nightmare. I dreamed that our night nurse had called all of her nanny friends and they had showed up at our house in the middle of the night, and brought all of their unruly charges with them. I kept trying to explain that our girls and I were trying to sleep and I needed them all to leave, but they wouldn’t go. Somewhere in there, I realized that I was dreaming and tried to wake up, but I was so tired that it took what felt like a long time to get out of it and shake it off.

The sleep book says that sleep of 30 minutes or less is almost meaningless.

Damned brain.

Rick Perry and the American Family Association

Monday, July 11th, 2011

If you have access to HBO, you may have heard satirist Bill Maher lambaste would-be Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry during his weekly New Rules segment. Perry has recently been advocating prayer as an effective tactic to address public policy challenges:

Yes, our state executive has rented the 70,000 seat Reliant stadium to co-host a day of prayer and fasting on August 6, 2011. To co-host, he chose the Mississippi-based so-called American Family Association, which advocates against gay rights. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Perry’s day of prayer is drawing protests from religious and cultural groups alike.

I was mortified when I read about this in the paper, as I often am when I read about our governor. But beyond wondering whether St. Stephen’s would participate in the counter event, I did nothing. I lack the energy to take on any new causes, and I quickly blew it off. But now in the last week, in a weird confluence of events, I’ve somehow ended up on the American Family Association’s action alert email list:

  • The first email said, “Tell Congress to say “No!” to increasing the debt ceiling,” and rants about how we should just cut spending.
  • The second email accused Department of Veterans Affairs officials at the Houston National Cemetery of committing “outrageous actions of religious hostility and censorship” by monitoring funerals to ensure that religious individuals do not inflict their religious messages on other families who are burying their loved ones.

Based on Bill’s explanation in his essay on why the debt ceiling matters, I’m not excited by the first alert. Given that I’m a not-super-religious individual and wouldn’t want anyone inflicting their religion on me in a time of grief, I’m not very sympathetic to the second alert, either. And I won’t support any organization that’s opposed to equal rights for all individuals, including gays. Frankly, I’m bewildered how I ended up on their email list. But though I’m vaguely curious what they’ll rant about next, it’s time to unsubscribe.

Update: I wondered whether St. Stephen’s would react to Governor Perry’s exclusionary prayer event, and I’ve just learned that we are! An interfaith coalition from several institutions is pulling together “The Challenge” as an inclusive counter event on August 6, and its organizers are meeting weekly at St. Stephen’s. Gosh, I respect my church!

Bill on why the debt ceiling matters…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Reposted from Facebook

I suspect most of the people to whom I am linked on Facebook will understand, at least broadly, the idea that the Federal Government not raising the debt ceiling is a bad idea. However, beyond the idea of “we need to keep the government open” or “we need to pay people’s social security,” many may not really understand why. Let me attempt to help out in a reasonably non-technical way.

A trip down history lane

The US Constitution, for all of its longevity and power, has a few very specific provisions in it, and one of those is the idea that spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The founding fathers did this because they wanted to ensure that the officials most responsible for authorizing the expenditure of the nation’s treasure were the ones who were most accountable to the people whose efforts and labors paid for it. Thus, if the House of Representatives started spending money in ways that were disliked by their constituents, they would hear it most quickly and most readily at the ballot box.This idea, of being directly accountable to the people, is a good one in theory. In theory, the House would be good stewards of the purse strings, constantly working to spend responsibly and raising sufficient taxes to pay for it all. Unfortunately, the ink was not even dry on the parchment before the nation’s first great debt crisis was upon us. As most of us remember from way back in the days of yore (aka High School Civics class), our current government is actually our nation’s second. The first government, the one that carried us through the War of Independence, did not really work all that well. There was a lot of squabbling over how the war should be conducted, how monies should be spent, and which businesses in which states should get which procurement contracts. In short, it looked a lot like the modern Congress, just with wigs.

Like our modern congress, the Continental Congress ran up a big foreign debt that was used for such trivial expenses as paying troops, buying guns and ensuring that farmers received compensation for putting food in the bellies of the people fighting the Redcoats — nothing serious like ethanol subsidies, bridges to nowhere and federal buildings named after themselves. While the Continental Army was successful (with a generous dollop of help from the French), the war was expensive and the United States were deep in debt to foreign countries. Unlike today, the United States economy was not “too big to fail”, so while many people were of a mind to tell the current bond holders to “stuff it”, the Constitution specifically acknowledged the prior debt (Article Six). What was a newly minted legislature to do?Up until the Civil War and the introduction of the income tax, the Federal Government operated in an environment where it was basically always short on cash. Given its limited ability to tax and the ascendancy of “States Rights”, few people really wanted to lend a lot of money to the government, so the Federal Government was a much smaller portion of our total economy than it is today. It still did some important things, but the specter of debt and borrowing was always front-and-center in the political landscape (not like today where the “Ways and Means” committee — aka Taxes — is separate and distinct from the “Appropriations” committee — aka spending). This state of affairs lasted basically up until the butcher’s bill came due for the major issue not dealt with by the Constitution: slavery. With the Civil War, the Federal Government needed money. It needed a lot of it, and it needed it fast. Welcome to the income tax. Oh, and before you get all nostalgic for the other side, they did something much more harmful to their economy since they didn’t like taxes: they printed money. A lot of it. So much, in fact, that a Confederate Dollar in November of 1864 in Houston was worth 1/50th of what it was in September of 1861. In fact, inflation had gotten so far out of hand that the Confederacy had to basically wipe away one third of its money by the middle of 1864 and issue new bills. Setting aside the moral environment in the south, think about how disruptive it would have been to your family and livelihood if the value of your money had suddenly been reduced by a third. But let’s not dwell on a possible future.

The Marshall Plan

From the Civil War to the end of World War 2, the United States experienced both a significant growth in the total size of its economy and also in the sophistication of its economy. We were blessed with a few unique attributes (large land mass, abundant natural resources, rapidly growing population) right as the industrial revolution got into full-swing. By the time of World War I, the US was the world’s largest economy. By the end of World War 2, the US was the only remaining undamaged economy among the then-developed nations. Into this vacuum stepped the Marshall Plan. With the Marshall Plan, the US re-built western Europe with the idea that getting their economies back on-track would keep them out of the hands of the Communists. This in turn created a huge demand for American products while also cementing the Dollar as the global currency of foreign trade and finance.

This last bit cannot be understated. Global finance is anchored to the US Dollar. The foundation of modern finance is the “risk free rate”, the market rate that provides the “cost” of money being transferred from people who have excess capital (aka money) to those who need additional capital (you know, money). Just like an airline, there are additional surcharges and fees that get layered on top of this for things like needing the capital over a longer time frame (so-called “duration”), or with a less-than-perfect borrower (“risk premium”), or to lend when the supply of money is increasing (“inflation premium”). In fact, modern finance is largely the systematic effort to identify, quantify and exploit sources of risk over and above the risk free rate.For its primary goal, most scholars agree that the Marshall Plan was a huge success. The US had economic dominance over the global economy for about 20 years from 1945 to about 1965. However, as the Vietnam War escalated, the US economy was somewhat diverted to the “guns” side of the “guns vs. butter” tradeoff, while the economies of Japan and Western Europe started to really get back on track.

Blowing sunshine in America

With Vietnam, the Great Society and a couple of oil shocks, a persistent but minor fiscal deficit began its metamorphosis into a significant structural problem. By the time the last of the celebratory champagne was drunk from Ronald Reagan’s trouncing of Walter Mondale, the deficit — the amount of money by which tax revenues lag expenditures — was running over $300 billion per year. And this was from a Republican President who, in 1980, railed against a Democratic one for running $60 billion a year in deficits.While the Laffer Curve has some very important insights into economic behavior, it ultimately represents a testable hypothesis, not an ironclad law. What’s more, it’s alleged test of lowering taxes rates in order to raise total tax revenue (something like a price elasticity for taxes) was conducted during a period of extreme Keynesian stimulus (e.g., the massive military buildup during Reagan). A couple of trillion dollars later, Reagan was effectively able to bankrupt the Soviet Union and its support network for its satellite countries, but before we could say, “peace dividend”, we were in the first of three successive wars in the Middle East.Of course, those of a Progressive leaning will want to offer up that during the Clinton presidency, the Federal Government ran a surplus. I suspect, in fact, that current politicians are looking at the Clinton-Gingrich showdown over the federal budget as a blueprint for the current debt ceiling fiasco. Unfortunately, actual data does not support the proposition of surpluses. Yes, Clinton did a LOT better than his immediate predecessors, but if you look at total borrowing, the national debt still increased each year under Clinton. Why the discrepancy?Much like when Regan’s economic team added the armed forces to the ranks of the employed, Clinton’s economic team included social security taxes as current taxes without recognizing any sort of long-term liability to offset the revenues. This would be the same as an insurance company taking in policy premiums for life insurance, but not booking any sort of expense against those revenues for the policies on which they expected to pay out. It may be great press, but it’s bad accounting.

Hitting the gas

With the bursting of the dotcom bubble, and related financial shenanigans, coincidental with the felling of the World Trade Center towers, and the subsequent wars in the Middle East, the US economy was effectively rescued from what should have been a massive recession and war-time footing by the Bush administration’s request to “go shopping”. With nominal deficits running $500 billion per year, a Republican administration again effectively pulled a page out of the Keynesian playbook, using large deficits to fund increases in government spending.

While Conservatives are quick to talk about the jobs created during Bush’s early years that coincided with decreases in marginal tax rates, they oddly seem to ignore that they did this without coming anywhere close to balancing the budget. It’s as if they think that saying “tax cuts creates jobs” enough times will make it true. Yes, there are ways to make tax cuts improve job growth, but blanket tax cuts aren’t it. You also need to cut spending by a like amount to make the Laffer Curve argument stick. That hasn’t been done — ever.

Instead, we have done the economic equivalent of “hitting the gas”. When the economy stopped responding to the existing stimulus (deficit), we just borrowed and spent even more. While this is good for near-term economic growth, it does so at the expense of long-term prospects (in economic terms, you are pulling demand forward). What’s even more interesting is that with the increased debt load, you add more risk into the economy since a greater proportion of income goes into debt service (i.e., interest payments). Where this truly goes astray is that with the greater risk, comes a greater requirement to ensure the economy continues growing. To continue growing the economy requires greater stimulus, and greater stimulus requires greater borrowing. In effect, what we have created, we, the voters, is a treadmill which is ever-increasing. Stopping will be painful, but the current “Great Recession” shows us just a taste of what life could be like once the treadmill breaks. We must responsibly slow things down…

Full faith and credit

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. The lack of basic economic literacy evidenced in the mass media appalls me. In the broader population, it is worse. I’ve spent a large number of paragraphs talking about the history of our debt, with only some tangential asides about why increasing the debt limit matters. Fundamentally, the issue with the United States government not being able to roll-over its debt and to increase its borrowings to meet its Congressionally-authorized (mandated) spending levels is two-fold:

First, is the damage it would do to global finance. As mentioned before, all of global finance rests on the idea of a risk-free rate of return. For good or ill, what bankers the world over have used for decades as a proxy for the risk-free rate are US Treasury Bills and Bonds. For these to come into question means a) finding an alternate risk-free asset, and b) re-pricing EVERY security based upon the new risk-free rate. This would be hugely tumultuous with credit markets seizing up while people tried to figure out which currency, asset or commodity might represent the best proxy for a riskless asset (Gold? The Euro? Oil? All seem to have upsides and downsides…).

Second, not raising the debt ceiling is the economic equivalent of “going cold turkey”. It is one way to break an addiction, but depending upon the drug and the depth of the addiction, the consequences of this can be worse, physiologically, than the addiction itself. Given the decades upon decades of deficit stimulus under which the US economy has been addicted, to remove such stimulus suddenly would not just invite recession, it would guarantee a significant depression. Imagine, people who had business built serving the federal government seeing their accounts receivable extended and order books slashed, people who rely on social security seeing their benefits cut, people whose businesses rely on either of those two markets see a softening of their business, etc. The primary effects would be bad enough, but macroeconomics is filled with the concept of a “multiplier” – the effects on secondary and tertiary markets away from the primary one. In other words, the ripple effects, as they are often called, would be more like tsunamis.

Not good.

Any one of these two primary effects would be disastrous enough. If one combines them, and multiplies them, then the result would be catastrophic. It would take us decades, as a global economy, to sort out the pieces. There would be winners, but there would be a lot of losers. Yes, we need to overhaul our spending priorities and taxation policy (less of the one, more of the other — pain for everyone), but we don’t need to do it in a way that threatens our economy so quickly after facing the brink of disaster. Please urge your congressman to do the right thing or do what the Founding Fathers intended and find another Congressman who will.

Fleas suck. And how to kill them without poison.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

It’s July, it’s hot, and it’s rained a lot recently, which means the fleas are in bloom. We first noticed Tibbs scratching 4-6 weeks ago, and it’s always a surprise when our indoor cat manifests fleas. We were slow to go to battle against the fleas, given what we were up to at the time. But when the little ankle-biters start going after me, it’s war.

There was a time when we’d have glibly used flea powder, flea collars, bug spray, or foggers to eradicate the pests promptly. But now that we know most pesticides are endocrine disruptors, especially organophosphates, we avoid exposing ourselves to them. We’re instead striving to give the fleas a natural death, and it’s proving to take some work:

1. Get fleas off of the cat. In earlier years, we’d just dose Tibbs with Revolution or Capstar. But that seems hard on his system, and topical pesticides skeeve me out. So we’re combing Tibbs with a special flea comb every day, and multiple times most days. It’s essential to kill every flea and egg the comb catches. One can simply dip the comb in soapy water to drown each flea, but I prefer to crush them. And the near-permanent bruise on my index fingernail is recovering now that I’ve discovered rolling them to death with a hard plastic vitamin bottle. The crunching sound is surprisingly satisfying.

Bill combing Tibbs

Several sources also advocate bathing the cat weekly. I’m pleased to learn that no scary “flea dips” are required; again, gentle soapy water is sufficient to dissolve the waxy coating around their spiracles and suffocate the fleas. But bathing Tibbs is beyond my pay grade. When Bill thought I intended to try, he wrote:

Be sure to film your bathing of the cat. I’ll be sad that I’m not there (to claim the remains).

Heh. No baths for Tibbs.

2. Get fleas out of the house. Pretty much anywhere we’ve walked after being outdoors, and any surface where the kitty has been, could be fair game for nearly-invisible flea eggs, larvae, or pupae. We’re therefore supposed to vacuum everything, daily. (Note that one must dispose of the flea-filled vacuum bag immediately.) But it took me 3 hours Sunday to vacuum most every nook and cranny in the house, so it will be a few days before that happens again. I’m again grateful that our bedroom is a Cat Free Zone.

vacuuming

I’m also testing an internet remedy. Fleas are ostensibly attracted to white/light colors. They say you can fill a plate with soapy water and fleas will be drawn to it and drown. I filled a plate with Ivory soap and water and placed it next to the one crack we’ve identified where fleas are breaching the house from outside. Within an hour, one flea had met his end and the next day there were two dozen dead fleas. But given that at least that many jumped past the dish (to meet death-by-crushing on the bathroom floor), I suspect the dish is merely catching unlucky/stupid fleas, without actually attracting them. We may need a bigger dish.

drowned fleas

3. Get fleas out of the yard. The main way fleas reach our indoor cat is by hitching a ride on our socks/ankles/pants as we pass through the yard into the house. So to reclaim Flea Free Status indoors, we have to achieve Flea Free Status outdoors. But our yard is home to myriad birds and squirrels, and stormwater from our yard flows directly to the bayou, so I’d prefer not to use chemicals out there either.

If we had more time to prepare, we could plant mint and lavendar in the yard to repel fleas. A scorching drought would kill a bunch of the little buggers, too. Citronella repels fleas, and apparently cats as well. In the short term, I chose a spray called Orange Guard that uses essential citrus oils to repel fleas. Having sprayed half a bottle on the porch, walk, and grass nearby, we can now get to/from the car without collecting fleas. (One clear-cut victory! Woo-hoo!)

Orange Guard is safe for indoor use around pets and children, and it claims to kill ants/roaches/fleas on contact, so I also brought it inside to combat the breach in the bathroom. This turned out to be a bad idea. First, instead of killing the fleas, it only spurred them to jump away across the floor (where I had to crush them). Second, citrus oil leaves a vaguely oily residue on the floor. Third, it prompted Tibbs to abandon his bathroom/litter box for 2-3 days in favor of other areas in the house he found more suitable. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. Getting him to do his business where it belongs again required cleaning the bathroom thoroughly.

All of this has been a real pain in the @ss. Killing fleas naturally turns out to require real effort. But even after all that, I’m still sure I don’t want toxins in our house or on our pet. I’ll just be glad when flea season is over.

Where did our blog go?!?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

One day last week, Bill went looking for our blog and found this:

not our blog

While that *is* our web domain, that obviously is *not* our blog.

WTF?

One possibility is our blog got hacked. Another possibility is our webhost migrated our content to a different server and missed. We don’t know. Fortunately, our webhost was able to recover all of our domain content from automatic backup files, and we’re back.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Roof options and proper use of paint thinner…

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I regret to say our roof leaks. While the winds of Ike surely didn’t help, the real problem is cheap, 16+ year old shingles installed by the prior owner. We need a new roof.

We could get a new composition shingle roof. But that’s too easy.

Instead, I fantasize about getting a shiny new energy-efficient steel or galv-alum roof instead. And since that would probably require some adjustments to the roof members, I fantasize about bumping out the roof to build out out our attic at the same time. Which is complicated.

Fortunately, Bill and I have finally identified a local architect we like who does bungalow remodels and expansions. We’re talking to him about possibilities, and he should come back next week with a proposal or two. Then we’ll have to decide whether it makes financial sense to pursue any of the options.

In the meantime, we need to keep the water outside our roof. So we picked up some Henry 208R wet patch roof cement at Home Depot. It’s easy-to-use asphalt goop that goes on right over/under the existing shingles.

Chris came over to be my ladder buddy (thanks!) and the whole job took perhaps 90 minutes from setup to cleanup.

Bob preps Henry goo

Bob patching the roof

Everything went well… right up to the cleanup. The paint thinner took the asphalt goop off the tools so easily, I decided to use paint thinner to try to get the half dozen smudges off my jeans, too. Then, I promptly forgot everything I know about paint thinner recycling and the importance of keeping petroleum distillates out of groundwater. I doused my paint-thinner soaked jeans with liquid detergent and threw them in wash.

Which failed to clean my jeans and thoroughly contaminated the washer. When two more cycles with hot water and lots more detergent failed to return the washer to readiness, I started researching options:

  • One website recommended a cycle with vinegar (minimal effect)
  • Another website recommended using crystalline lye (too scary)
  • A clueless Maytag call center guy guessed that bleach might help “the odor,” then tried to sell me “Affresh” washing machine cleaner (no thank you)
  • A Sherwin Williams clerk recommended just leaving the washer open to “air out” (how long can we go without doing laundry?)

Finally, I called Houston’s Environmental Service Center which is responsible for recycling and safe disposal of household hazardous waste. Dwight assured me that detergent will break down paint thinner. He recommended slathering all the interior surfaces of the washer with liquid detergent and letting it sit for a while before rinsing.

I had to do it twice, with special attention the second time to the rubber gaskets and seals, but it worked. Six days later, our washer is back in business. I will never make the mistake of putting paint thinner in the washer again!

And if it rains again soon, we’ll find out whether my roof patch job will tide us over long enough to play with the architect.

Bike Around the Bay: Bolivar Needs a New Fairy

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Godmother, that is. At the beginning of Bike Around the Bay, one of the announcers mentioned that we would be riding through some places that were still struggling to recover from Ike. That would be Bolivar, especially the part northeast of Rollover Pass (a cut through the peninsula linking the bay to the gulf).

This area was hit most directly by the force of Hurricane Ike. There are lots of places where you can tell there was something there, and there are lots of places where things are being rebuilt, and lots of  places that seem to be caught in some sort of purgatory in between — neither being demolished nor fixed. Very little of the peninsula is anywhere close to “normal”. I think Crystal Beach (?) comes closest, though place names were a little shaky given the signage that was still being installed in a few places and my inability to take notes. However, a year gone by, and clearly that is an area that is still trying to figure out what it is going to do next.

The local billboard advertising industry seems to be entirely driven by people wanting to help other people out with various storm-related claims: insurance, government, building issues, etc. There were two open gas stations that I can recall, though three or four were in various states of disrepair/destruction. I don’t recall seeing a real grocery store, though there was a brand new school.

This last was what causes me to highlight this aspect of the ride. Given that insurance rates are going through the proverbial roof and lenders are going to be very unwilling to lend into areas with a “challenged” valuation environment for the foreseeable future, I am not sure that the best course of action for Bolivar isn’t to spend some of the funds earmarked for recovery on turning significant portions of the peninsula into State or National Park/Seashore. Getting people out of harm’s way in a vaguely permanent fashion seems to me to be the best course of action for the area. The problem is that some politicians are intent to let people rebuild as if nothing had happened. While no doubt well-intentioned, I’m not sure that this is the type of fairy godmother the area needs.

Time will ultimately tell whether the economy and larger market forces cause the area’s depopulation to become more permanent, but I sure hope that when I ride through the area next year it is either much improved (more populous) or the signs of rebuilding have given way to something that indicates that it is being given back to nature. Somehow, though, I doubt that either will really be happening.

Via Con Dios

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

So, I went to the Starbucks on Hawthorne on Monday to get my usual frilly non-manly cup of caffeine, and the employees were conducting a taste test of regular Starbucks coffee (Pike Place) versus the new Via “ready brew” (aka instant) coffee. It wasn’t even close. Neither is that appealing to me, but the Via coffee had an acid overtone to it that tasted plain bad. It may be microground and the greatest thing in instant coffee since the invention of adulterants to hide the instant coffee taste (Yes, I’m talking to you, General Foods International Coffees!), but we’re talking about a pretty low bar here. At $1 per packet, it better have more uppers than a 1970s MLB baseball team on a twelve game road trip.

Starbucks Via instant coffee

The worst part: I burned my tongue during the taste test! I don’t really like hot coffee to begin with for just these possibilities, but to do it with just two sips is irritating, especially since I had just gotten over my last bout of coffee burn. The people who order coffee “extra hot” are beyond my comprehension. As near as I can tell, they are like the albino character from The Da Vinci Code — part of some weird cult or sect that thinks they will find enlightenment by torturing themselves.

Raising money for charity? It’s FAAN-tastic!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

As many people know, I have done a number of charity bicycle rides this year, most notably the “MS150” from Houston La Grange to Austin just outside Bastrop. Taking part in these events is a bit curious. On the one hand, I do respect the people whose heart and souls go into the organizations and causes which we are nominally supporting. On the other hand, I just don’t care that much about things like low-cost spay and neutering services in Galveston County.

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely think that Paws and Puddles (the mascots of said organization and the eponymous ride) shouldn’t have free reign to create more little Paws and Puddles, but of all the things wrong in the world, this wouldn’t rise up to my level of consciousness if it weren’t for the fact that the organization put on a damn fine bike ride (cold, wet towels in 100 degree heat? Simply awesome!). So it goes. The more specialized the cause and the less I care about it, the better the event needs to be to draw my interest and my money. Apparently, some of my colleagues at Deloitte did not get that memo, since they sent me this one:

Are you interested in getting more involved in the community? What about networking with your colleagues? Getting some exercise? Then join the Deloitte team in participating in the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure event on September 12, 2009, at Sam Houston Park in Houston, TX.

The more people walking and fundraising, the more we can help those who have food allergy. The event will raise funds to find a cure for food allergy and to educate others about its impact. Walk events are a fun, family-oriented way to raise support for FAAN, funds for research and education efforts, and awareness of food allergies. FAAN needs your support. Help make a difference in the lives of the estimated 12 million Americans who have food allergies. Join Team Deloitte!

If any of you food allergy suferers a) have ever heard of this organization, and b) would ever consider it swaying your decision to engage a professional services firm of any sort (let’s say beyond catering, that is), then I’d love to hear it in the comments.

So many things I could say, but just really shouldn’t.

Not the droid I’m looking for!

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Today is Sarah’s 93rd birthday. Our family will gather for a little party tomorrow and I have created a wonderful gift: a Shutterfly photobook of our 2006 trip to France. It’s my first Shutterfly project and I have worked on it for nearly 7 months. I have high expectations and I am very, very eager to see how it turned out.

The book was scheduled to arrive today. All afternoon, my ears have been tuned for the sounds of a diesel engine and squeaking brakes to tell me the UPS guy was here. When he arrived, I was racing to the front door before he knocked, and gushed how glad I was to see him. I brought in the box, washed my hands, sat down to reverently appreciate my creation, and gingerly opened the package.

But instead of our France book, I received this:

wrong birthday book

While it is a birthday book, it’s not our birthday book. Un. Be. Lievable.

Needless to say, this has tempered my enthusiasm for Shutterfly. I called their customer service department (in India) and Yasha apologized profusely. She assured me that the folks in Phoenix would expedite printing another copy of my photobook and they would ship it “next day” at no charge. It should arrive no later than next Thursday. While I am satisfied that they are taking appropriate action, I’m still disappointed that Sarah’s book won’t be here for the party. Sigh.