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United Parcel Service: Going Halfway Is OK By Us

10 Mar

March 10, 2014

mail innovations logo

The United Parcel Service (UPS) has a brilliant new delivery plan that is guaranteed to save them a fortune. It is ridiculously simple. They take your package and do not deliver it. Genius! They call it Mail Innovations and despite the name, it is not innovative. What other service does that? Why, the United States Post Office, that’s who!

And that’s the problem.

I ordered a book from Barnes and Noble on February 20th. As a member, I get free 1-3 day shipping. Great! So far, so good. This was a Thursday and on Friday the 21st I was informed by email that UPS had picked up my package and the estimated delivery was Monday, February 24th. When it did not arrive on Tuesday I followed the link they sent me and tracked it. Or to be more accurate, I tried to track it. The trail led to a dead end.

On Friday the 21st, the UPS not only picked up but delivered my book… to a US Post Office sorting facility in Staten Island, and not, as you would expect, my home in Brooklyn.  It turns out that UPS has a shipping service called Mail Innovations in which they pick up your package, zoom it across country, and deliver it not to you, but to your local post office, and they make the final delivery.

Sound stupid, right? I live in a large apartment building and UPS trucks stop here at a set time every day, sometimes twice a day. We are actually part of the UPS’ regular route.

And also, you may have realized that my local post office is not in Staten Island, another borough on the other side of Gravesend Bay, across the Verrazano Bridge, and most definitely not 8 blocks away.

Mail Innovations is an unholy alliance. UPS has generally been reliable, and the post office has been as dependable as your average election year promise. I always have trouble getting deliveries from them and usually go to the post office to complain. No good can come of Mail Innovations.

So when the book did not arrive on Tuesday I knew I had to go to the post office. I tracked the package on the post office site and they had the package arriving in Staten Island and, for the next three days, nothing. No movement. And on Wednesday, still no movement. This was four days of limbo, and so far I had been waiting five days for my guaranteed 1-3 day shipping. (I did not count Sunday.)

Average US Post Office facility.

Average US Post Office facility.

I went to the post office with a printout of the tracking, such as it was, and what did I learn? Nothing. They looked all over the post office and it was not there. They then sent me to the automated machine to track it and it spit out the same information- nothing for three days. This was, I must tell you, the same information they found when they looked it up themselves.  They then told me to call an 800 number and I could more information.

No I could not. The 800 number was automated and even less help then the post office tools. I then wrote a complaint on the website, sent an email to my local post office to complain, and lo and behold, the next day all kinds of shipping info became available. None of it good. After it finally left Staten Island, it arrived in Brooklyn, bounced around three different zip codes and two sorting facilities, and twice was in a nearby (but not my zip code) post office before bouncing away to the edges of the borough.

And then, on Saturday, March 1st, over a week after it left UPS and was handed over to the post office, my guaranteed 1-3 day delivery package was delivered to me.

Mail Innovations, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. And as usual, the US Post Office is the weakest link.

Thanks a lot UPS.

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A Very Special Episode of March Madness!

4 Mar

March 4, 2014

keyes1.jpg

I am informed by sports fans that this time of year is something called “March Madness” which I assume is some form of group-bloc mental illness. Anyway, because I’m nothing if not a hack, I’m going to do a series of “bracket” themed columns. But because I am a strange, sad man I will do it based on “very special episodes” of our favorite sitcoms. You know what “very special episodes” are – when sitcoms take a break from canned laughter and silly situations (Look! Beaver is stuck on top of a billboard!) to try to teach us all about the dangers of drugs or child molestation…..and maybe win an Emmy in the process. Bless their shameless, transparent manipulative little hearts!

Anyway, in order to spare you reading (and me writing) endless columns of the full field of 64, I have whittled the field down to 16.  These elite teams have been selected by Computron 6000 based on strict criteria, including which ones fouled out my wife the most. In order to determine the winners, each round will be simulated 364 times in order to ensure a fair and accurate result. Or will be selected of an elite committee including myself, Mr. B and that monkey who picks Super Bowl winners by flinging poo at helmets.

Below are the randomly chosen brackets:

                       Bracket 1Gordon Jump Molests Arnold and Dudley vs. Theo Huxtable Battles Teh Dyslexia vs. Mr. Belvedere Tackles AIDS….Badly vs. Beaver Cleaver Enables an Alcoholic

Bracket 2

Edith Bunker: Victim of Home Invasion vs. Bobby Feigns Illness to Meet Joe Willie vs. The Taking of Lil Sam Drummond vs. Punky Brewster Fridge Asphyxiation Scare

Bracket 3

Monroe Ficus……Raped?!?!?! vs. Maude…..Needs an Abortion?!?!! vs. Tom Hanks Gets Drunk… on Vanilla???!? vs. This Girl Was Actually Attacked??!?!

Bracket 4

Urkel Tackles Gun Control vs. Arnold in Trouble….Again  (*SIGH*) vs. Carlton Takes “Speed” vs. Wesley Encounters Bad Touch

Breaking down the field:  We have an incredibly strong field this year, which is arguably the strongest field in the history of this tournament, which is in its first year.

The “Edna’s Edibles” bracket looks to be the strongest of all this year – all four of them can reasonably lay claim to the title.

For sheer odds, Diff’rent Strokes has to be considered the favorite to take it all this year, with three entrants among the top 16.  Mr. Belvedere, with two strong entries, also has great odds.

This field doesn’t lack for star power either, as Family Ties and The Brady Bunch both sport A-list guests.

Tournament favorite:  Diff’rent Strokes.  Arnold and Dudley getting molested is an American classic.

Tournament Long Shot: Leave it to Beaver.   It’s going to have to overcome a significant generation gap in order to prevail.

Next:  “Whatchoo Talkin’ “Bout Bracket” results

bainplaque

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Allan Keyes: Gamer Without Game

10 Feb

February 10, 2014

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So I wanted to do some blogging about some gaming that seemed to have become a thing: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/31/eve_online_erects_mashedup_memorial_to_biggest_space_fight_in_history/

A single missed micropayment sparked off an epic interstellar battle on EVE Online that was so costly the developers have decided to erect a permanent monument to the conflict.

CCP Games, the Icelandic firm behind the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that has over 500,000 subscribers, said the battle in the B-R5RB sector of the Immensea game-space region had dwarfed anything seen in the game’s 11-year history. Ships valued at $330,000 have been destroyed in a 21-hour battle in which 7,548 gamers destroyed assets that had taken years to accumulate.

I say I WANTED to do a blog, because this is so effing tiring just reading it. 7,500 gamers participated in a 21-hour battle????  And here I thought that the time me and my two best (only) friends had that 3 hour ColecoVision blowout while my parents went shopping for my orthopedic shoes was EPIC.  What the hell do I know I suppose??? Not that I know about these online games – I’m strictly a console fanboy, living on the Gears of War/Call of Duty highway.

game1

I have to give some of these guys credit – in this game, it seems that it takes months/years to build up your coalition, control your territory, build all those ships. And then to basically have it ALL flushed away if you’re on the losing side….have to say it, these guys had some set of brass balls. I mean, what do you think the losers did? Hang themselves? Quit the game? I mean, I barely had the patience to level up on the Intellivision version of Burger Time, and when I died, I threw a huge glass of Hi-C at the TV.

game 2

Or maybe it was the collective “ah, fuck this – I’m getting bored” of thousands? I mean, who hasn’t spent lots of time building something up and then just tearing it down to shit because you finally, irrevocably lost interest in it?

But what I really want to know – 21 hours? DUDE.  Who lasted the entire battle and what did you do when it was time to go to the bathroom????

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