Thursday, July 29, 2004

It takes an engineer to do something this vile.

Julie's boss, George, gave us a couple of chaise longues for the back yard. They're wrought iron and heavy as hell, but they have wheels on one end...most of the time. One of the wheels has lost the metal screw-on doobah that holds the wheel on, so that wheel falls off when you move the chair around.

So I took off one of the existing doobahs and took it to Home Depot where I learned that it was a "7/16-inch end cap."

I said, "Great! I'll take one!"

"We don't have any," the Home Depot guy said. Try...." and he named a couple of Mom-and-Pop hardware stores (well, probably just Pop, now, since Mom opened up the cookie stand in the mall). I tried 'em both. No go. Same story everyplace I went:

"7/16 is a real odd size. We have 1/2-inch, and we have 3/8-inch, but 7/16? That's rare."

You see why I hate engineers? They're sadists! They know--engineers are wise, they know this stuff--that eventually one of these end caps is going to fall off and the lawn mower's going to hurl it through some kind of space/time continuum and you're going to have to buy another one.

So what does this particular engineer do? He designs the chair with a 7/16" end cap, which does not exist in the natural world of hardware stores. He can't beef up the specs to require an end cap that's one measly sixteenth of an inch bigger, and go up to 8/16" or, as it's commonly known, 1/2". And he can't shave off a sixteenth, making it 3/8". Oh no, not this pocket-protector-wearing sociopathic jerk.

"I will not change my design!" he screams. "My design is perfect! It must be 7/16! I already compromised! I wanted 15/32 end caps, but you turned me down! I will not bastardize my creation further! I won't, I won't, I won't!"

The project manager, who isn't getting paid enough to care about this crap, relents. And I wind up with a chair whose wheel falls off because nobody in his right mind stocks a 7/16" end cap.

I ask you: What is wrong with these people?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Democratic National Convention is in full swing! And where is this shindig being held? Why, in Boston, at the FleetCenter, of course!

Wait a minute...did I just say the "FleetCenter?" I know that cities across this great land of ours are building new ballparks and stadiums and convention facilities and naming them after their most generous corporate sponsor, but was Boston so hard up for cash that it had to name its "Premier Sports and Entertainment Arena" after a laxative and/or enema?

I thought that L.A.'s "Staples Center" was bad.

I'm all ready to go with a bunch of Fleet-related jokes about the Democrats, but I thought I'd better do some fact checking first. What if laxatives didn't have anything to do with the FleetCenter at all? What if it was named after, I don't know, a bank or something? I'd look like some kind of idiot!

So I went to the FleetCenter website. That's where I cribbed that "Premier Sports and Entertainment Arena" line from. I clicked on "history" and pulled up an article about...well, not the FleetCenter, but the arena that preceded it. In the last paragraph, they finally mention the FleetCenter:

"On September 29, 1995, the old Garden closed its doors to the public for the last time with a nostalgic evening of entertainment. The following night, a spectacular gala was held at the sparkling new FleetCenter, to usher in a new era for sports and entertainment in New England."

Not a word about whether the new arena was named after a laxative or not.

Next I checked into the official FAQ about the FleetCenter. There I found questions such as "How can I get a message put on the FleetCenter's Jumbotron?" and "Which goal do the Bruins shoot twice on?" but no one appears to be asking the question, "Is this arena named after a popular butt-wash?"

Am I the only one who's wondering about this? Am I the only one who gets a juvenile smirk on his face from the juxtaposition of "FleetCenter" and "Jumbotron?"

I don't have any moral objection if the arena is named after the fine family of Fleet products. I recently had occasion to use their Phospho-Soda Oral Saline product and I can attest to its effectiveness. It's really, really effective. I mean, drink this stuff and then "Stand Back, Mama!" if you know what I mean. I just think, jeez, is that the image you want to associate with your town's "Premier Sports and Entertainment Arena" or your big Boston-area concert or your party's nominating convention? Doesn't that make it a little too easy for journalists who want to poke fun at whatever you're doing there? It's kind of like titling your latest movie "A Steaming Pile of Crap"--you're asking for it!

At this point, I'm through researching the issue. Believe it or not, I have better things to do with my time.

Okay, I don't really, but I'm going to try to find something.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I am officially a hate-monger.
I've run several banner ad campaigns through Microsoft's Small Business Center. Everything was fine. Three days ago, however, my relationship with MSBC ground to a spark-throwing halt.
I tried to run this banner, which says "Dump Bush." (I actually think it's a pretty funny banner, so you might want to click the link.) Overnight, my entire campaign disappeared. I didn't get the "banner rejected" message I've gotten before, when a banner was too big to meet the criteria. I didn't get anything from MSBC. All I got was...a void where my campaign info had been.
So I wrote to MSBC via their online feedback form and received the following response:
"We checked your campaign and confirmed that it was not accepted due to the content of your web site. As stated in our Terms of Use: ‘You may not use the Microsoft Small Business Network or the products or services provided through or in connection with the network to publish, post, distribute, disseminate, advertise or link to any software, content, other material or Web site that constitutes "hate speech", whether directed at an individual or a group, and whether based upon the race, sex, creed, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or language of such individual or group.’"
Now, I didn't urge anyone to "kill Bush" or even "punch Bush in his weasely little smirking face." I said, "Dump Bush." In other words, don't vote for the guy. This is "hate speech?" I think not. I think it's political speech, the kind that's, you know, protected by the U. S. Constitution.
MSBC referred me to their billing department, who informed me in no uncertain terms that a refund was not in my future. Even though the campaign never ran. Why? Because I'd tried to engage in "hate speech." Who decided that my free, protected political speech was hate speech? MSBC. In other words, they can arbitrarily decide that my campaign is inappropriate and use that arbitrary decision to justify keeping my money and giving me no service.

The arrogance! Who but Microsoft would assume they could get away with this? Well, maybe Enron and Tyco and Arthur Anderson and Global Crossing and...okay, just about any really big corporation that contributes heavily to Congressional and Presidential political campaigns. But it's still arrogance!
Of course I'm taking the matter up with my credit card company. And the California State Attorney General. And the ACLU. And I'm writing an article for the L. A. Weekly about it. Which Microsoft will probably consider "hate speech" too.

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