Tag Archives: Barnes and Noble

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 get 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.

Spotlight: IDENTITIES by T.E. Stazyk

22 May

May 22, 2013


Some time ago, I came to grips with the realization that I am a writer, not an author. There is nothing wrong with being a writer, and during the time I’ve been doing Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride I’ve made the acquaintance of many fine and successful writers, many of whom I admire greatly. But authors? I’ve met far fewer, and generally less successful. The jump from writer to author (and in fact the jump before that, from writer to Writer- writers know what I mean) is somewhere in the neighborhood of Evel Knievel-level difficulty.

Enter T.E. Stazyk. Author.

You may recognize his name from the comments he is gracious enough to occasionally post here from time to time. But you may not know (you would if you read his blog) that he lives in New Zealand, where he owns a farm, and before that lived in Japan, and originally hails from The United States.

But why listen to me?

I have always been interested in books and literature and writing and in fact, I started off as an English major in college as I wanted to teach English literature. But it wasn’t long before I realized that getting a job after college wouldn’t be too easy and that something a little more practical would be a good idea. 

My father was an accountant and computer science was becoming big, so I switched courses and became and accounting and computer science major. On graduating I started working with an accounting firm but the idea of writing was always in the back of my mind. 

After almost 30 years in the auditing profession, I decided it was time to do something else and to do something about my writing ambitions so I took early retirement.  We were living in Japan at that time and as my wife is from New Zealand we decided to move to NZ.

In 2001 we moved to Auckland and I enrolled at the University of Auckland. I did a Masters degree in English Literature and then continued my studies with additional courses in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Polish and Russian literature.

I had a short story published in 2002 and over the years have written several stories and two other (as yet unpublished) novels. 


I think that is a story right there, but what he wrote was a work of fiction, albeit one that seems all too real.


It makes for a great B-grade science fiction movie.  A giant, nameless, faceless organism comes to Earth and begins to multiply.  Nothing can stop its inexorable growth and prevent it from achieving its goal of world domination.  Not only that, its job is made a lot easier because of some sort of mind control mechanism that makes people want to feed its growth and help it take over.

In the hands of a writer like me, the plot would be exactly that, a B-grade sci-fi tale that would appeal to me and a couple of others. But in the hands of an author like T. E. Stazyk it is something more.

Actually, it’s not science fiction.  It is a simplified description of the mechanism of global capitalism since the 1980s.

Growth became the measure of success.  It became the end rather than the means.  It didn’t matter if a company sold a lousy product; or an unsafe one, or destroyed valuable resources or exploited local populations in making its products.  As long as it did more of whatever it was doing it was considered good.

Whether from the expectation that they have to behave a certain way in order to succeed, or whether they have to behave as if they have succeeded, the world became populated by people who have created an identity that they want to present to the outside world.

But a lot of other people got in trouble.  Usually the innocent bystanders who had pensions and 401(k)s and things like that which got wiped out when the stock market realized what was going on.

Interested? Sound good? I hope so, but don’t let me sway you, let Kirkus Reviews do it for me.


By T.E. Stazyk (Author)

A management consultant jousts with the loonier aspects of American capitalism in Stazyk’s canny debut satire of the corporate world.

After Dave Locke is booted from the presidency of a technology corporation following a merger, he’s relieved to land a partnership at tony Quantum Consulting. Unfortunately, this avowed bastion of best business practices turns out to be filled with nincompoops. The partners are obsessed with status and extreme-sports exploits; the management committee signs off on Dave’s plans if he sprinkles them with the buzz phrase “world-class”; and clients are given the hard sell on outsourcing and layoffs, no matter what the long-term costs. (Alas, their clients are only too happy to pillage their own firms; one CEO wants to relocate his conglomerate to Panama for tax purposes.) As a deep recession takes hold, Dave picks his way through a minefield of office politics and callous management theories. Meanwhile, his sons—Alex, a would-be actor who doesn’t want to be defined by his career, and Jim, a workaholic investment banker—debate the spiritual pitfalls of capitalism. Stazyk’s cutting, funny tale furnishes plenty of Dilbertesque office gags and colorful characters, including an Indian swami who turns his spiritual aura into a publicly traded corporation. The novel’s greatest creation may be Jim’s girlfriend, Jennifer, a frenzied Wall Streeter whose fussbudget consumerism reflects her hollow soul. Stazyk has written a novel that treats business as an important and absorbing subject; the author knows the terrain well and his naturalistic prose and dialogue has a nuanced subtlety that rings true. When Dave deploys his infighting skills against boardroom boobs and tyrants, his conviction that business can be both profitable and ethical starts to seem like a believable bottom line.

An entertaining, covertly insightful satire.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468146851

Page count: 366pp

Read the first chapter here

Purchase paperback from Amazon

Kindle Version

Apple iStore Version


Barnes & Noble Paperback

Barnes & Noble Nook

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