happy festivus

The Short Game - film review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          The Short Game is a reality-documentary-competition film.  Five stars!  How's that possible and why do I think it?  Read on.

          It begins in the familiar way these things do:  catchy montage; authoritative deep male voice over; introduction of the child golfers, who will be filmed over a period of months as they prepare for, and then compete in, the world junior golf championship.

          The producers and director borrowed the template used in the golf show Big Break as well as Toddlers and Tiaras and many, many, other reality TV shows by spending a few minutes with each of the main competitors (three girls and five boys) on their home turf (two from Florida, one each from: Texas, California, France, South Africa, China, and the Philippines) introducing themselves and their families.  At this point we, the viewers, begin to make decisions about who we are going to like, dislike, and root for—based solely on snippets of conversation and/or actions captured by the film crew and, of course, by our preconceived biases.

          Very early in the film it becomes obvious that the cinematographer(s) and the music producer play a very important role in making this an extremely enjoyable film.  The transitions and the music montages are carefully done with attention to detail.  The editing is masterful.  

          I can't recall the last time I watched a film and recognized that the contributions of the "people behind the scenes" were not only important to the overall watching experience, but were THE REASON for liking the film.  You know when your heartstrings are being strummed; we all do.  In this film the documentary film makers, without a script, manipulate our emotions with music, editing, camera and microphone angles and omnipresence.  I laughed.  I cried.  I cheered.  I constantly muttered, "so mature for eight years old".  I became aware of my preconceived biases (which is something the director wanted me to do) and I came away wishing it were possible to peek into the lives of these child-people in a few years to see how hormones alter them (kind of an Up series with golf as the common denominator).       

          To really like this film, it will help if you already know something about and maybe even enjoy the game of golf...but it is not a requirement (any more than you had to know something about child beauty pageants to like Little Miss Sunshine.)  This film is available on download and DVD; I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Modern Design Incorporated - when in need of irony and jewelry


          And now for something completely different.

          To be honest, I previously reviewed a few products and websites (some still can be found on the links page) but this one is none-the-less completely different.

          Before I go into the heavy rough weeds of the story (and to show that I don't always 'bury the lead') please let me impress upon you, dear reader, that Modern Design is a real jewelry company.  Interested in purchasing jewelry from the internet?  They offer an amazingly fantastic selection, successfully ship items in several nested packages designed to camouflage their contents, and are very interested in your on-line business.

          Over a month ago I received their initial query letter which explained they were a Los Angeles-based company specializing in wedding and engagement rings striving to obtain a larger internet presence.  They offered a tungsten ring in exchange for my review.

          I was highly skeptical.  So I did a small amount of research into their company and eventually found and thoroughly examined their website.  After confirming they were legitimate, I agreed.  They replied:  pick any ring, select a size, and give us an address to mail it...which I did.  A week later an extremely well packaged ring arrived.

          I discovered two issues with their website; one would be easy to fix, the other slightly harder:
  • It is difficult to page-back to a specific ring from a previous page because the order in which their extensive product line is displayed can change.  In other words, the ring you saw four minutes earlier on the top of page 4 under the category "men's titanium" is now in the middle of page 6 when you clicked on the "custom fit" link.  One remedy for this might be if they included "click to compare" buttons (found on many electronics sites).
  • Most rings are not identified on the website by a product number but instead by lengthy titles filled with descriptors.  This would be simple to fix if they just add a number somewhere.
          When I selected a ring it was (and still is) identified as Ring Tungsten.  (The hotlink wasn't something I included in my e-mail...an oversight...but I don't think it's possible for me—acting as "the reviewer" in this transaction—to be at fault.)  The ring I received was actually Brushed Tungsten Carbide ring with Polished Grooved Center.  I requested beveled edges and received squared-off ones; preferred polished with brushed; got brushed with polished.  Obviously, if you were to use their shopping cart system this mistake would be less likely to occur.

          This was only the big-final problem I experienced, the first issue was in their initial query letter and promotional flyer:


          While you mumble about the incongruous black splashed border, irritating multi-font usage, and attempt to pull your focus away from that terribly cropped snapshot of a collection of smog-stained sandstone-colored concrete buildings under a green sky, I may need to remind you at this point that I did, really really, receive a quality ring.  And while this miserably designed flyer contains several superfluous elements it does not contain a physical address, web address, or any links to their website.  Important, because their initial query letter also contained no links to a website and ended thusly:
... Please let me know as soon as possible since we're contacting some other bloggers as well and we only have a limited number to give away this month.

Regards,
Marie L
ModernDesign.com
          Moderndesign.com is a web company with a slick and unique take on how to market yourself if your name includes the words modern and design.

          I suspect neither this last paragraph nor my title for this post are strong or loud enough in the hint department.  Here's me being overt:  HEY MODERNDESIGNINC.COM, HIRE MODERNDESIGN.COM TO RE-TOOL EVERY INCH OF YOUR WEB FACADE.  YOUR CURRENT ONE SCREAMS "SCAM".

          I eventually located the jewelry company who wants to obtain a larger presence on the web and who mistakenly employed a child-family-member who understands as much about design as she does about domain names.  (Marie:  that pesky little "inc" is so very very necessary.)

          Because both their promotional advertisement and their query letter included the sentence:  We can't wait to hear about your experience with Modern Design!  I offer this tangent:

          Several years ago I'd, on-occasion or occasionally depending on my mood, amble over to the blog review site Ask And Ye Shall Receive so that I could read a new giggle or two from internet foolz and their playmatez.  I haven't done so in years (before they stopped in 2011) but I recall they were very upfront with who they were.  When your domain name is iwillfuckingtearyouapart, one doesn't need to delve very deep to understand what it is you shall receive when you ask.

          I think it may also be important to know the writing of David Thorne is of personal value to me.  I love the name of his web page: Go Away and admire every aspect of his trademarked logo (which I include just to the right completely without his knowledge or permission).  It is an amazingly perfect example of modern design; embodying the exact right balance of space, tension, color, and multiple-font usage, while informing, communicating, and intriguing with equal amounts of mirth and sincerity.  You will not forget a logo of this quality.    

          If you have read this far...let me conclude by saying wow....thanks for sticking with this review and for the ring.  I suspect, however, if you'd read a few of my posts you may not have been so quick with your offer.

          Still not sated?  Try this one where a disc golf company requested a review of their website, or this funny one where an online casino asked for advertising with a horrendous query letter.  I have written dozens of film reviews.  And here are a ton of book and blog reviews. 

Porno sacrale (sacred) - Luxovisioni


Rental Car "inside scoop" - scratch and dent evaluator

        
          As a part-time "temporary" driver for Enterprise, Alamo, and National (ERAC, yes they're all one company) I've learned a few tidbits of information which could benefit those of you who rent from these agencies:

          •  Of the three sister agencies, National considers itself the top.  Accordingly, National cars are relegated to one of the other agencies as soon as they reach an arbitrary (and ever-fluctuating) "high mileage" point.

          •  National rarely, if ever, will offer mid-size, compact, or economy cars.  Unless you're looking for a specific model of luxury car or SUV (National's bread and butter) go with Alamo or Enterprise.  This guy explains how to get a deal (I don't advocate his suggestions, but it is interesting that in his mind—that of a car salesman—it's not lying, it's just being savvy).

          •  Never, never, never rent a car from any agency without performing a thorough examination of the vehicle (both inside and out).  Document every scratch, burn, dent, or ding no matter the size.

          •  Every ERAC employee knows they'll most-likely be terminated if they damage a car.  Minimum wage employees, like myself, move all vehicles from car-return areas, to the service areas, to temporary storage, from temporary storage, and back to the "ready" lines.  And we are referred to as "temp drivers" because eventually we are either hired on full-time (for being careful, conscientious, and competent) or terminated.  Most full-time ERAC employee's know better than to move a car; some managers prohibit their manager trainees and/or service associates from re-positioning cars (even from one spot to the next) because of the accident=termination policy.  If you rent a car without checking it, you risk being blamed for employee damage.        

          •  The below scratch and damage evaluator card is what employee's of ERAC use to determine if you are charged for discovered damage.  The actual card is printed on clear plastic.  I added the inches above the card so you can insure yours is to-scale.

Pogo - Lead Breakfast

          Just a reminder: Pogo is still creating fantastic music.   Head over to his channel to catch up on the latest (or—if unfamiliar—to experience something enjoyably-new).   If this "mature content" video is not your cuppa...he has a wonderful collection of Disney (I highly recommend Wishery).


Re-collecting Memories • the third dozen

1984       25         Camp Howze, Korea - SGT - decision time: reenlist? - last 3 years "for family" have been thankless - learned no skills applicable to a civilian job - rare personnel fluke permits reenlisting to retrain into the MP corps.  Finally...a career decision for myself!  Optimistic.  Eager.                 
                            Camp Howze, Korea - SP4 -  barracks is an open-bay Korean-war era quonset hut - after curfew, PFC Redbird wakes me up with his stereo - for many weeks I turn it off after he passes out (so I can sleep) - one night he turns it back on - we fight - I smash the boombox - he smashes me - I learn the folly of punching a drunk.  Bruised and beat.  Forced to replace a stereo.  Seriously reprimanded.  Three times a loser.
1985       26         Fort McClellan, Alabama - SGT - MP school - provided a hotel in Anniston, Alabama (with other sergeants) to reduce the chances of us fraternizing with the junior trainees - third week of training: a stunning private in a tight t-shirt flirts with me - we secretly meet every subsequent weekend until graduation.  Bold.  Attractive.  Exhilarated.  Desired.  
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - I purchase a Hondamatic motorcycle - with all my post-divorce possessions strapped to it, I drive 500 miles - the skin on my arms above my normal tan receives a serious second degree sunburn.  Scarred.  Stupid.  Permanently freckled.
1986       27         Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - driver during a 45 minute top-speed pursuit - sheriff deputies from neighboring counties assist - recover the stolen car - no one injured (thieves escape on foot into the forest).  Unequaled adrenaline rush.  Excited.  Euphoric.
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - break up a "bar fight" - left thigh punctured in the scuffle, about an inch deep, by a small pocket knife - in order to avoid being reprimanded (failing to thoroughly search a suspect) I tell no one about the stabbing - doctor my own leg - patch my uniform.  Sheepish.  Careless.  Lucky but dumb. 
1987       28         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - assigned investigator duties (from uniformed desk sergeant duty) - civilian clothes - unmarked vehicles - additional training - more responsibilities - less regimentation.  Proud.  Professional.  Important. 
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - step off a public bus in downtown Seoul - as my right foot touches the curb, I experience a migraine (or mini-stroke) - the pain lasts less than a second - knees buckle - the most excruciating burst of blazing electric white I can conceive of.  Dizzy.  Relieved.  Certain I'd have ended my own life to stop it, if it had endured for any length of time.  Frightened.      
1988       29         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - free tickets to the summer Olympics in Seoul - trackside when Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) wins one of her gold medals.  Not present when Greg Louganis struck the diving board with his head.  Enthusiastic.  Patriotic.  Happy.
                             Yongsan, Korea - SGT - my application to become a CID agent is returned disapproved - 'derogatory background check' is the stated reason.  Crushed.  Incredulous.  Defeated (I have already turned down promotion twice to qualify for this position).
1989       30         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - granted Top Secret (TS) security clearance - FOIA request my background documents: no derog info - confused by the dichotomy, I re-apply and request an official review - approved for CID special agent school - "suspicion of adultery" was rationale for initial disapproval (based solely on the coincidence of my '85 return from Korea and subsequent divorce and my marriage to a Korean a year later).  Elated.  Persistence paid-off.  Vindicated.
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - a week away from departure, my extremely distressed and confused, mentally handicapped, indoor-only cat escaped from the pet carrier (as we are heading to the veterinarian) - all efforts to catch him fail - left him on the streets of Seoul.  Culpable.  Downhearted.  Glum. 
1990       31         Columbus, Georgia - SGT - pick up a wadded bill from the floor of the Fort Benning movie theater - after the film, I discover it's a fifty.  Sad for the person who lost it.  Rationalize keeping it by telling myself: 'only an idiot wads up a fifty dollar bill and jams it in their pocket'.  Fortuitous.
                            Columbus, Georgia - SGT - my unit deploys to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield - unaccredited agents (like me) must remain behind - my new task is to efficiently terminate every "less serious" case - I close more than 80 in four weeks - admonished by the operations officer for continuing to investigate a soldier-on-civilian rape allegation - I question him - he replies, "she's just a Korean...they're all whores...close it...immediately".  Blindsided.  Aghast.  Offended.  Hamstrung by my probationary status.  Disillusioned.  
1991       32         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - double eagle (three under par) on the final par 5 of the Bradley golf course - from the white tee: average drive, middle of the fairway - perfect 3 wood second shot - slight uphill, over 250 yards, hit the flagstick - rolls in the hole for a 2.  Astonished.  Flabbergasted.  Quite pleased with my once-in-a-lifetime shot.     
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - attempt to repair my acrimonious eight-year estrangement with my (bigoted) immediate family - vacation in Indiana - introduce my wife of five years - no one (including me) can let bygones become water under the bridge.  Tense.  Vexed.  Ill at ease.
1992       33         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - most tumultuous year - 3 relationships (divorce, affair, marriage) - 3 assignments (personal crimes, duty team, economic crimes) - 3 schools (fraud investigations, protective services, hostage negotiations) - everything happening at once - living life in the heavily occupied vehicle lane (speeding past my peers).  Glad it all happened.  Amazed to experience/accomplish so much so fast.       
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - personal compass needle spinning - too much too fast - living life according to the whim of hormones and the schedule of supervisors.  Weary.  Crazy.  Glad to put it all behind.
1993       34         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - graduate from warrant officer candidate school - assigned to General Shalikashvilli's protection detail - diplomatic passport - upgraded security clearance (TS-SCI).  Enjoy the unexpected perks of constant travel.  Superior.  Elite. 
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - complete staff turnover - new SACEUR - all new supervisors (who've never heard the phrase: if it's not broken don't fix it).  Discouraged.  Worried.
1994       35         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Athens and the Aegean islands, Moscow, Oslo, Florence, Venice, Garmish, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Dresden, Lake Geneva.  Busy.  Worldly.  Amazed.  Awestruck.
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Lisbon, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Livorno, Izmir, Norfolk, Harrisburg, Dijon, Ukraine.  Tired of babysitting a couple of pretentious adults.  More wary of back stabbing co-workers and fumbling foreign police than terrorists.  Concerned.  Cautious.  Disdainful.  
1995       36         Mons, Belgium - CW2 - off leash, Cody—my new dog—will heel, sit, stay, come, lie down and fetch - still working on jumping, climbing, eating only with permission and barking only on command - we run together for miles every week - always looking for new challenges to teach my new playmate.  Ecstatic when training is successful.  Happy when he's pleased.
                            Mons, Belgium - CW2 - slip on a throw rug in my living room, land on my elbow and break my left arm - surgery - metal plate - terrible hospital (almost die from a previously unknown allergy to morphine-based pain med.) - worse surgeon (sharp heads of the 8 countersunk screws aren't sunk into the plate, points of six of the screws protrude through the bone) - office flunky during rehab.  Embarrassed.  Miserable.  Bad health still about every 15-years (see 1979 and 1964).  Most stressful series of experiences. 

Oregon Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages From Other States (Effective Immediately)

(full article here)

          I find it strange that my home state of Oregon, a state which seems at first (and second) glance to be quite socially and economically open-minded, is still constrained by yesteryear's bias; a prejudice which quite a few other states have already scraped off their shoes.  But then I drive out of the Portland metropolitan area into the rest of the state.

          There are verylittle-to-no social, political, intellectual, religious, or economic differences between the average resident who lives smack dab in the middle of Bumfuk, Oregon and his mouth breating cousin who lives in any meth-crazed portion of Arizona or Arkansas.  Much of the time there seems to be just barely a majority of progressive-minded voters in Portland's Multnomah and Washington Counties to out-vote the remaining intolerant millions—who can't stand anyone who doesn't think, act, or look exactly the way they do.

          Eventually we will make it legal.  Maybe next year.

          Because they are dieing.  Of old age.  And (many of) their grandchildren are less close-minded, less blindly religious, and less bothered by funny looking weird folks.       

Gravity - review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          Gravity.  See it.  Every decade or three a film is released which is as good as this.  One which really needs to be seen on the big screen (in this case, I believe, the extra money to view it in 3D is money you'll not regret spending).
          Remember how you were stunned and amazed by Kubrick's 2001 in the late 60's, or whenever you finally saw it for the first time?  That's how Gravity will make you feel (only with all the unexpected thrills of 2010's Buried and without all the science fiction...just a full serving of science fact).

Re-collecting memories • the second dozen

1972       13         Peru, Indiana - Ninth grade - I buy a go kart - zip around cars in the neighborhood - two inches off the ground - 25mph (40kph).  Exhilaration.  I feel like I must have "got one over" on my parents because this feels like a loophole in their 'no motorized two-wheelers rule' and is crazy-dangerous times ten squared.  
                            Peru, Indiana - Ninth grade - winter jamboree with the Boy Scouts - home after ten hours - no feeling in my feet - sitting on the kitchen counter with my grey toes in slowly running ice cold water - crying as the water is gradually warmed.  Miserable.  Unbearable pain.  This is what torture must feel like.
1973       14         Peru, Indiana - Tenth grade - the local newsstand is more than willing to take my dollar - step dad's advice: "best not let mom find them" - no longer am I pent up in the house now that I have an ever-growing gallery of nudes to peruse - boy do I play with myself a lot (until the novelty of buying my own wore off).  I feel—secretly—more mature.  Crossed an invisible milepost on my way to becoming a man.
                            Peru, Indiana - Tenth grade - unconscious for about five seconds - I turn towards a slap shot - field hockey puck coming at my face - nothing - a ring of teammates peer down at me - broken nose bones just get a piece of tape "to remind you and others not to bump it."  Foolish.  Clumsy.  Note to self:  duck faster dumbass.
1974       15         Peru, Indiana - Eleventh grade - youth group returning from a summer weekend trip to an amusement park on the church bus - night - teasing and being teased by the cute junior high school girl in the seat behind me - she gets a pillow and holds it over her - encourages exploration.  Unexpected second base!  Thrilled by the invitation to touch.  Fear of getting caught by a chaperone.  Apprehension that she might later tell someone because she's so young.
                            Peru, Indiana - Eleventh grade - for months on end, dozens of nervous phone calls result in a handful of "dates" - all failures - sweaty hand-holding, uncomfortable silences, pecks goodnight.  Rejected.  Unwanted.  Not good enough.
1975       16         Peru, Indiana - Twelfth grade - awarded the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain - I am an Eagle Scout.  Elated.  Successful.  Accomplished.  
                            Peru, Indiana - Twelfth grade - parents think we are at the Friday night movie - my girlfriend and I decide to "go parking" - I get the family car stuck in the mud - walk to the nearest house to use a phone - parents have to borrow a car to come push us out.  Caught.  Ashamed.  Anger (after she tells friends).
1976       17         West Lafayette, Indiana - Freshman - carbide lamp - college buddies with experience and maps - several all day spelunking expeditions in little-known southern Indiana and northern Kentucky caves.  Amazed by the sights.  Physically challenged.  Slightly scared (spiders near the entrances).      
                            West Lafayette, Indiana - Freshman - clearblue easy says it is time to pay for an abortion - $179 - girlfriend is afraid of her family so I agree to keep it secret.  Foolish.  Not proud.  Not ashamed.  Unnecessarily burdened.
1977       18         West Lafayette, Indiana - Sophomore - Yes concert - Donovan is the warm-up act - everyone, including my college buddies, are getting high - must have a contact high because afterwards I'm famished.  Convoluted thoughts.  Strong emotions.  Blown away.   
                            West Lafayette, Indiana - Sophomore - Papa died unexpectedly - he was 62 - the weather is appropriately wet and dreary - I feel his absence even though we didn't talk regularly - his immediate and extended family's comments after the funeral are vile.  Sorrow.  Quiet.
1978       19         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - move from a state where the drinking age is 21 to a state where the drinking age is 18 - drop out of college - get a job and an apartment next to a bar.  Giddy.  Happy.  Intoxicated.
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - consecutive terrible roommates - one left the front door open for days during a snowstorm and refused to pay the utility bill - the other kept open jars of urine in his bedroom and (somehow) killed my hamster.  Victimized.  Vandalized.
1979       20         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Junior - the machine shop lays me off in June (planned on going back to school in August) - I fake all the job search documents for three months - unemployment compensation funds a cheater vacation.  Lucky.  Pleased with my good fortune. 
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Junior - broke my foot playing racquetball (walking cast) - benign testicular cyst removed (surgery) - impacted wisdom teeth extracted (surgery) - poor health is on a fifteen-year cycle (see 1964).  Gloomy.  Blah.   
1980       21         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Senior - experimenting in advanced acrylics - I tack a plastic sheet over the classroom window - painted layers depict the essence of what is happening outside at the moment (from different points and times of day) - professor: "can I steal your idea?" - the next semester: dozens of plastic paintings cover the interior of most of the windows in the fine arts building - all his new students creating paintings like my experiment.  Excessive pride (to the gloat level).  
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Senior - a handful of guy "friends" only call when they need to get somewhere (I have a car) - the few girls I want to date just want to "be friends".  Used.  Bummed out.  Tired of rejection.
1981       22         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Super Senior - week of camping with my fiancee - "discovered" a semi-private lake while exploring upstate.  Blissful.  Peaceful.  Content.    
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Super Senior - wedding preparations, ceremony, reception and honeymoon night all according to plan (hers) - went along with it to make her happy - foolish inner dialogue: "it's just a ceremony," "it's just a day".  Miserable.  Uncomfortable.  Unheard.  Almost immediately:  regret.
1982       23         Clarksville, Tennessee - PFC - graduate from the 101st Infantry Division's Air Assault School (after completing Infantry Basic Training) - rappel from helicopters and down walls - twelve-mile full-gear forced march (with a time limit).  Very strong.  Learning to adapt. 
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - college dropout - "birth control failure" and she refuses an abortion - leave college (one semester shy of a degree) - join the Army.  No longer in control.  Petulant.  Grudgingly conforming to the expectations of others.
1983       24         Clarksville, Tennessee - SP4 - 30-day training deployment in Puerto Rico - passenger in a blackhawk helicopter during a serious malfunction - gifted with a twelve-hour pass and a free round-trip flight to Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands - a day on an incredible beach.  Ultimate relief (cheated death!)  Maximum relaxation.  Blissful.
                            Clarksville, Tennessee - SP4 - never enough (time, money or distraction) - wife never happy - motherhood not what she imagined - fall out of love - she moves home - collateral damage: become estranged from parents and sisters - all next year I'll be stationed in South Korea.  Anxious.  Disillusioned.  Tired.  Responsible.
                                                                                                                                          the third dozen

Wasn't Pam already on the small screen?

          Yes.  She was also an extra on Portlandia (Season 3, Episode 11).  She is on-screen, tending the campfire, between minutes 9:57 and 10:59 (when Fred and Carrie convince the Mayor to return to Portland).  It is available at this time on DVD or download-viewable on Netflix.


My paramour is on the big screen

click image for trailer
          The film C.O.G. is in theaters now (somewhere in the world, tho not here).  It was filmed in the area.  Pam performed as an extra in it AND she is in this trailer for one full second, in the center of this shot.

          My fiancee is a bona fide movie star. 

True Scary Camp Story (with 2013's cat pics)

          Imagine the voice of Patton Oswalt is reading this.  (Can't remember his voice?  This sample is best.)  I'm not saying my voice sounds like his—or that it doesn't, that's immaterial.  But his tone, pacing, and inflections make this a much better story.


          I like to camp.  What I mean when I say this...is that I enjoy the desolation of what most would consider primitive camping, with a few comforts and amenities.  Because—let's be honest—there are a couple-a-things I prefer to never do without.

          For example, I love love love a place in the woods miles and miles away from any other people.  No man-made noises.  No vehicles.  Just quiet filled with wonderous silence. 

          But I need a toilet.  A sit-down, flushable toilet.  I'll ass-grip my shit for days before I squat over a log.  And, before I'll crawl out of my dry tent to stand in the rain and take a piss at four in the fuckin mornin, I'll tie a knot in my dick (I'm speakin figuratively, 'course it's too small for a knot).  So a portable flush toilet is a requirement; a necessity, not a luxury.  I wouldn't camp without one.

          So . . . I'm camping my way.  And lovin' it.  And mostly.  Mostly.  You know why?

          It's the lack of options—the freedom from all the usual "things to do"—which brings about, in me, an incredible peaceful rest-titude.  A normal day-off...for most people...after you wake up, immediately your brain becomes aware of the immense variety of things available for itself to occupy itself.

          Hummm, what'll I do?  Go on the internet - check messages - play a video (is there a new game I wanted to play?) - watch a movie - maybe go to the movies (is there a new film I wanted to see?) - get something to eat (do I have anything I'm hungry for in the house? do I need to grocery shop?) - go shopping (do I wanna drive?  I could just shop on Amazon.  Is there a new book I wanted?) - maybe just go for a drive (where do I want to go?  To the bookstore?  Who else could go with?  Is there a friend I wanna visit?  We could go out to eat.) - How is the weather?  Is it good enough to spend the day outside?  Let's check . . . humm . . . the internet says it is going to be partly sunny and warm.

          All that—inside two minutes.  Still in bed.  Head on the pillow, thumbing the phone.        

          I can cook whatever I have in the cooler on my Coleman grill.  And if it's raining (which I'll know as soon as I wake up) I can either sit under the rainfly or stay in my tent where I have three choices:  read, draw, or think.  Yup.  That's it.  Oh, masturbate.  So, four.  But once you've cranked into a couple sheets of Bounty or Brawny (I prefer Viva) it's back to those three.  If the weather's good, I have the added option of exploring the woods and/or hiking.  With my cat.  Or, do one of the other three, only in the sun.

          So a couple weeks ago, I set up camp at my favorite spot in Clatsop, which is a medium-sized (350² mi/550² km) Oregon state forest used, almost exclusively, by loggers and hunters.  

          As the crow flies, about three miles from the nearest house (five, if sticking to roads and forest trails) my campsite was in a small clearing on the crest of a slight hill at the end of a two-rut track.  I have a sign to dissuade hunters from using the cul-de-sac to park or turn around in.  It works.

          The second night I was woken, after midnight, by three bangs on the western face of my tent.  Bash-sh, BAsh-Sh, BASH-Ish, followed by: nothin'.  No receding footfalls.  The cats (both Cecil and Pam's Aggie were with me) raised their heads from the blankets at my feet and intently listened for a few minutes, but soon lowered their heads and returned to slumber.  I imagined a deer mustiv' tripped on one of my guylines, stumbled into the side of the tent, and caught a second leg on another guyline as it was trying to leap away.  The crackling-shift 'Ish'-noise of the tarp-like tent's bottom making it sound louder than it really was.  In the morning I discovered the tent had been disturbed enough to move the floor and spill their water bowl.

          I picture a young elk strolling through the campsite with a couple others from its herd...
          "Shite man!  Feck!  Gad-Dam, bout broke me bleedin bollacks!"
          "We told ya to watch out for the big funny-smellin bush, Geoff."
          "I did!  But you didn't tell me about the invisible vines!"
          "Heh heh.  You sure that you just didn't eat too many squishy apples?"      
          "You wankers!"

          A few nights later, I was startled awake by a loud, long, scream.  This was an unusual scream.  Unusual not only because it began very close to the tent, but because it continued for several full minutes as the rodent's or the bird's shrill, imminent-death-holler was carried deeper into the forest, down the steep southern slope, and gradually faded to silence.

          JEEL!JEEL!JEEL!JEEL! with no breath between the jeel's.  No footfalls in the grass or burst of wings in the air as it was carried away.  I imagined an owl must have caught lunch and carried it away.  Maybe it's like a built-in dinner bell for the little one's (*licks lips*. . . mom's comin' with ... what's it sound like?  Squirrel?  Vole?)

          Of all the many quacks, squawks, yips, tweets, calls, cries, and cricks in the night, the only one more readily identifiable than the hoots and screeches of the owls are the trumpets from the occasional bull elk.

        The cats were as startled as I and they stayed alert for over half of an hour.  Both eventually got off the bed, ate something from their bowls, drank some water, and one of them used the litter box before they both settled back to sleep with me.

          For over a week it rained on-and-off every night.  We were all woken when rain struck the taught fabric over our heads in a deafeningly cacophonous hard-to-sleep-inside-a-drum kind of way.  And, likewise, we were all woken when four hours of white-noise drizzle immediately turned into silence.
 
          During the days we did what we do.

          Read.

          Pondered.

          Explored.

          Which is also what we did at night.

          The red light on their collars.

          For exploring the woods.

          After the sun has set.

          But not far away.

          Because there are animals in the forest who are not comfortable with our funny smells (which is why all my garbage is bagged ten feet off the ground at night) and who steer clear because they are bothered by our bright spotlights and scared by our loud strange noises.  (foreshadow much?)

          One of the last nights, just after six in the morning, the rain woke us by stopping.  The sky was beginning to lighten.  Morning birds began to chirp.  The cats decided to get up.  I rolled over and waited for them to finish; if I went back to sleep they'd just wake me when they jumped back on the bed.

          Aggie began to eat.  A minute later, Cecil walked behind her towards the litter box.

          The crash punched into us.

          This crash, into the south side of the tent, was so loud . . . so clearly directed, and so specifically timed that I knew within a microsecond of its beginning . . . it was not an accident.

          I began my shout at the volume one would use to call attention to yourself at a loud concert and increased my decibels to throat-harming level as I snapped my head toward it.  I was still screaming at the absolute top of my lungs when I took in the final microseconds of the crash.

          Aggie's back was to the crash and she was turning her head towards it.

          Cecil was two feet away from the crash and he was turning his head towards me.

          The south side of the tent was bowed in about two feet.

          I finished yelling.  The cats freaked the fuck right out and ran as far away from the crash and from me as they could possibly get (behind the cooler).  I got my shotgun.  I clapped my hands and shouted a little more.  I listened.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

          An hour later, the cats had calmed enough to come back on the bed.   Not to sleep; but they trusted I was no longer going to make that scary noise again.  I'd calmed enough by then to put down the shotgun.

          During the light of day I discovered by climbing through the brush, broken branches, and weeds on the south side of the tent that grouse or quail were using that brush as cover.  I learned this when one broke . . . WHUP - Whup - whup . . . and scared the piss outta me.

          I downloaded this video from my infrared camera, positioned North of my campsite on the road.  An edge of the back of my sign is just visible over the road in the distance.


          Yes.  That's right.  A mountain lion.  A young one, sure.  Probably no more than 65 pounds (30kg).  I imagine him stalking another one of those birds he caught from behind my tent a week ago, sitting there waiting for the rain to stop.  And he hears a small click click noise (Aggie eating) could that be a bird on the other side of that dense brush?  And then the swish-crunch of movement through weeds (Cecil walking) and he LEAPS.  Only to plow headfirst into the side of one tough tent.  A tent he probably banged into already!..when he was trying to get to the only thing I failed to conceal the smell of: dry cat food.

          I still love camping.  I learned from this trip.  And I will learn from the next one. 

Today is Someday: Book 7 - The World of Winnie-the-Pooh


          This book shares something in common with two others, which I'd also previously put off until today (all found on many must-not-die-before-reading lists).  I postponed reading A Clockwork Orange and The Princess Bride because I'd already watched the films. The Disney features from the 1960s with Winnie the Pooh (sans-hyphens) and his friends were my excuse for not reading the stories by A.A. Milne. 

          No, they are not filled with insights and tender life lessons with children in mind all-the-while tempered with humor and story-quality guaranteeing that adults reading these stories aloud will also enjoy them, they are all just plain boring.

          If I had a precocious four year old who was capable of reading slightly above her age-level, I'd give her this book and—after she threw it so hard it dented the plaster of her bedroom wall—I'd ask her to explain why she despised it so much.

          And her words would most likely include:  unhappyfully filled-to-muchly with simple, dullish, sadness and...but...mostly, there never seems to be a beginning middle or end to the stories.  She would then ask why I thought she would enjoy it and I'd have to apologize to her for assuming that any child born during the Obama administration would have even the slightest thing in common with someone who was born when Calvin Coolidge was president.

          She would then ask how ninety years could sour these stories and I would have to explain that (like my first Today is Someday book, Watership Down) the stores were originally just told by the author—who in this case was a British man born in 1882—to his son.  They were made up 'on the fly' as it were, with no polish and not a smattering of talent.  Just a verbal slap-dash before we hie the young'un off ta bed...turned into similar words on a page.  [I'm not saying Milne didn't know how to write, what I am saying is he didn't know how to tell a story.] 

          Disney made us care for the characters.  Disney painted our emotions.  Disney polished and made a beginning, middle, and end.  Mostly, I hate Disney.  Except when I don't.    

Yahoo Logo Font Genarator

Thirteen Ampersand Nine


A Scarecrow in the Backseat

          This is my last week as a seven-days-a-week carrier for the Oregonian.  Three days ago, I had a unique opportunity to pick the brain of the 43 year old guy who I was training to replace me, as I drove the 20-mile route.

"Hello.  I'm Veach.  I understand you're taking over this route?" (As I shake the guys hand).
"Hi. Yup.  That's what they told me.  How long have you been doing this?"
"Well... (pause; I tell myself to say 'I didn't catch your name' but instead I say) two years.  Total.  Almost five months on this route."
"Can I ask you wh...  You're quittin right?"
"Yea."
"Can I ask why?"
"It's personal.  I..."
"...That's OK..."
"...don't like to talk about it because..."
"...none o' my business..."
"...it's kinda embarrassing."  (Which is what I tell everyone.  There's no reason to explain my need to maintain sanity by camping, hiking and lazing on the beach.)
"So let me ask ya.  I'm just doing this because I need the money.  How much can I expect to make?  If you don't mind my asking, how much did ya make last month?"
"Nobody does this job for any other reason.  There's nobody delivering papers because it is a great work environment, or because the pay is great, or because of the fantastic benefits.  We all are doing it for the money.  Last month I made about $1,550."
"Yea?  Great.  That's perfect for how many hours of work?"
"It varies.  Maybe 30 a week.  More at the beginning until you learn how to speed up."  
          (Fast forward.  Skipping the short cuts and how-to details of memorizing and paperwork.)
"So I recommend we load all these in your car; I'll ride in the back, navigate for you, and stuff the papers into bags, while you drive and deliver."
"Umm, would it be OK if we use your car?  I, umm, don't have much gas.  I'm pretty sure I can borrow some money for gas now that I've got a job and all."
"I guess that'll be OK, but it isn't the best way to learn a route...from the back seat that is."
          (I should not have acquiesced.  Skipping more boring stuff.)
"Veach, can I tell you something and you not tell anyone?"
"If you're a serial killer, I may feel compelled to inform someone."
"Ha!  No.  It's just.  See.  The real reason I didn't want to use my car is, umm, I don't have any insurance on it and all.  I plan on getting some as soon as I get my first check.  And I know they don't hire anybody without insurance so I fibbed and said I had it.  Do you ever get pulled over by the cops?"
"Yes.  I've been pulled over six times while delivering.  Which is about average for someone driving with his high-beams constantly on, not wearing a seat-belt, thru stop signs, on the wrong side of the road, after the bars close.  But I never get a ticket.  They're just looking for drunk drivers.  If you got pulled over with no insurance, you could get a ticket.  Why take a job that requires driving every night if you don't have car insurance?
"I used to work construction.  A few months ago I had a triple bypass.  When I got out of the hospital my apartment was all padlocked and so I live in my brother's basement now his girlfriend is constantly up my ass and bitchin about me so I figured I could do this with their car an all.  It's got plates on it and I got a license.  It's just the insurance lapsed."
"A triple bypass?  Someone your age?  That's—I've got to say—a surprise.  How long ago was this?"
"It's been nine weeks now."
"Nine.  Weeks.  Are you sure you can do this job?  It.  I walk three-four miles a day.  On Tuesdays it is more like ten or twelve with the Food Day."
"Oh yea, they've got me running on a treadmill three times a week.  The exercise is not a problem."
"But.  You're young."
"Well it's because of all the drugs I did in the past and the cigarette smoking and it's also genetic.  My brother is five years younger than me and he just got three stints put in!"
"Hunh."
          (At this point he must be able to tell from my silence that I was recalling his cigarette before he got in my car.
                    I was also thinking about death panels—which he wouldn't have sussed.)"
"And I know.  I need to stop smoking..."
"I think open heart surgery might have had an impact on you, yea."
"blah-de-blah yabba-go-dabba..."
          (The only part of the next five minutes of rationalizations and explanations I need to include is the part
                    where he spoke of himself in third person)
"...and Tom is pretty good when it comes to math.  Remind me again, how much will I make?"
"Depending on tips and how many extra papers you deliver you could average fourteen to fifteen hundred a week."
"How about when they change to...what's it going to be in October...three, four days a week?"
"It will be less, obviously.  Two days off a week is—at a minimum—two thousand five hundred papers less a month, at ten cents a paper, how much less would that be? (Yea, I almost said 'how much will that be Tom.')
"And then you have to deduct for gas.  How many hours a night?
"Fast nights, three.  Busy nights, up to four or so."
"Sundays?"
"Sundays pay almost double, seventeen cents a paper, and you get more time to deliver, if the paper is huge it can take all of six hours.
"So, I know I keep asking about money...sorry...but that's about ten dollars an hour?"
"I don't think about it as an hourly job.  It's a paid-to-complete-a-task job."
"Hunh?"
"I get an extra hundred dollars a week, four-hundred a month, to deliver Food Days on Monday nights and Tuesday mornings.  Yes it's a lot of walking, but that means less money on gas.  I listen to my music and toss papers.  It's simple.  No stress.  Like getting paid to exercise.  They are not paying me on the hours it takes to deliver them, they are paying me to put twelve hundred Food Days on twelve hundred porches."
"And you have to put them on every porch?"
"Nah.  You don't give them to anyone who gets a paper at night, and th...
"...How come?"
"Because they get it inserted in their Tuesday paper.  And there are a large amount of people who specifically ask not to get a Food Day.  There are entire blocks where neighborhood associations ask none be delivered, and there are a bunch of apartment complexes who don't want them too."
"How do you know who gets them and who doesn't?"
"You'll get a list.  It shows who gets them."
"Like this list?  The one you updated before we left?"
"Nah, that is one I typed up myself.  It has everything on it and it has all the driveway counts and.."
"Driveway counts.  What's that?"
"See the numbers to the left?  Before the house numbers?"
"Ahh can't read em.  I'm gonna need to bring my glasses tomorrow.  Anyway you could give me this list when you leave?"
"You see how I've made pencil changes and then erased and then made more?"
"Umm."
"Well, see how dogeared they are?  And how some of the pages have already pulled out of the binder?"
"Yup."
"That's only six weeks of wear.  I could download the entire thing I guess.  You got a jump drive?"
"I don't have a computer."
"Yea, well, I don't know if the pages would do you much good with no way to update them."
"Sorry for continually asking the same question over and over, but what do you think I can make a month after the October changes?"

          Tom asked two more times about money.  He never asked about driveway numbers or the codes I use for the different types of customers.  At the end of the night he asked me if I would be able to 'bum him a few bucks for gas'.  I politely declined.

          The next night he was given one hundred papers to deliver solo.  The office received 30 complaints of missed papers the next day.  He was unreachable.  They fired him when he arrived the next night.  An additional 8 customers complained the following day, and when I was delivering that night a lady told me she also didn't get a paper but didn't complain because she thought the Oregonian had already switched to three-days-a-week.   Three days later there were still customers reporting he didn't deliver their paper.

          To understand the title of this post read:  So You Want to Deliver Newspapers.  Even though he got a new heart, Tom was a scarecrow (of the tweaker variety) not a tin man.  He weighed about 120 pounds, bad teeth, bad skin, bad eyesight (I understand meth wreaks havoc on the organs).

          On a related note, under a socialized medicine system, all the Tom's would never become candidates for triple bypasses.  They've been failing to commit slow-suicide; I say, let them succeed.  Death panels?  Sure!  I'm all for them. 

1 & 3 4 - masanobu hiraoka


New Adventures of Wading in the Amazon



     I order a set of expensive, thick, sheets.

     A set of cheap, thin, sheets is delivered.
   
    
Return reason: Different from website description
Buyer comments: Very unhappy with product. Already have high thread count sheets and (unlike this set) they are dense, luxurious, and soft. This set is flimsy and coarse. Not as advertised.



** I receive a form letter with options.  Return the item, preferably unwashed, to an address in Virginia for a full refund or get a 30% refund if I choose to keep the product (and a request to inform him which option I choose).

** I return and pay return postage.  I don't send a follow-up email.

** After tracking number shows package received for 10 days: 


Amazon Customer Complaint:

          I communicated with the seller about my displeasure with the sheets and returned the sheets in the condition directed  (unwashed).  Package tracking shows the seller has been in possession of the returned package for over a week.  No refund.  No communication. 

          My displeasure with this company is rapidly increasing.  In the past, I have had to return a few items, that I purchased through Amazon, from other sellers.  The sign of a good internet company is how they handle returns and dissatisfied customers.  The very best sellers don't try to scam customers by foisting poor quality items on them in the first place (but that ship has sailed).  The next lower level of seller provides a free shipping label to print out at home and then immediately processes the refund upon receipt of said returned item (it seems that ship has left the port as well).

Very disgruntled,

Veach Glines

Dear Veach,

I am sorry for the inconvenience. I was not aware the package was send back.  In the email i requested you to please make sure to email me once the package was send back so that i could give 100% refund on those.  i never received an email once send back.  I have issued 100% refund on those today including shipping paid at the time of purchase.  If you prefer i will also refund you the return shipping you paid.  Please let me know the return shipping you paid and i will gladly do that.

Please advise,
Syed

Sayed,

I am confused as to why you would not be aware the package was received by your business.  I included in the package my name, address, and the order number.   I paid $16.14 shipping UPS.

Veach



Dear Veach,

Sorry for confusion. The package goes to the supplier where he gets returns from various drop shippers so that is why i request all my buyers to send me an email once package is send back so that i can promptly do the refund the same day the return was send.  I have also issued refund of $16.14.  Please let me know if you want me to do anything else.  I apologize for all the inconvenience caused to you.

Regards
Syed




Dear Veach Glines,

You left me a 2 star negative feedback today as you were disappointed in the quality and return of the set and the way the return was handled. I am a small seller online and work hard to receive 4 and up rating from my customers. I am sorry to have received a low rating.

I would like to request you to work with me on this.  Please allow me to explain here so you know what happens.

- REGARDING SHIPPING WEIGHT:   Please note that the shipping weight of 35 lb listed is a type error that has to be corrected. It is impossible to have a 35lb sheet set exist anywhere.  I am going to contact amazon to correct his mistake.  The maximum weight a sheet set can have in 8-10lbs.  If you want, you can even walk into any retail store and check the weight of their highest luxury set that may cost $300 and up. The weight will be less than 10 lb.  Please understand that even a heavy weight 8 piece comforter bed in a bag will not 35 lb. 

- REGARDING RETURN NOT HANDLED PROPERLY : Please understand that I work with vendors for processing order.  So, when an order has to be returned, the vendor gets the the return directly. They usually do not notify us because they expect the customer to work with us for return authorization. That is why if you see in the first email to you, I had requested you to kindly provide me with a tracking number once you return or at the minimum inform me when you return, but you never responded.  This was only because I wanted to follow through your return and do a prompt refund. However, because I never knew that you returned, I was not able to do a prompt refund. But if you notice, I issued you a full 100% refund including the shipping fee as soon as you informed that you had returned and  waiting for refund.  I did not even ask you for the tracking number because I wanted to take the responsibility to trace the package with the vendor for my refund. Since the vendors process orders and handle returns for several sellers like us, they expect us to know when an item is returned by an individual buyer.

-REGARDING QUALITY OF SET:  I am sorry if the set was not satisfactory.  I am just a middle man here and work with vendors. This arrangement is mostly to get competitive prices so that I can pass the savings to my customers.  Please understand that I do not have any intentions to send inferior quality set because at the end as a seller, I am the one who will get burnt with returns and bad feedback. I do not gain anything, it is a complete loss for me & my feedback.  However, since I have this arrangement to work with vendors, I do not always have control on what get shipped. There may be an odd set that is not up to the expectations and when this happens, I do everything to work with my customers.

Since the quality was not satisfactory, 

(1) I would like to ship you a replacement set through another vendor.  This time, I will ensure that I also do a personal quality check so you will not be disappointed. I will also ship from a vendor that has very high quality set that costs a lot even in the wholesale market. I will ensure that the replacement is 2 ply thick set and will guarantee you that you will like the thickness and quality of the set.

(2) AND,  I will not charge you again for this set.  Hope this can compensate for the loss of time due to the first set.

Please let me know if this is acceptable.

I do have one humble request for you.  At the end once you feel you are 100% satisfied and if you feel that I have attempted to work with you to your satisfaction,  I will kindly request you to please consider to remove the 2 star negative feedback solely on the basis of my customer service and efforts to fix the problem.  Please understand that seller feedback is not just for the product but for the most part for the overall service of the seller and I hope that I can do everything possible at my end to fix the problem we have on hand.  Since I cannot undo what already happened,  I hope that you can please give me a chance here to work with you to your satisfaction.  Since selling online is bread and butter for me and my family,  I will work hard to ensure I provide you with 100% satisfaction.

I look forward to hear from you.

Syed

Syed,

          I do not believe you are unaware of the inferior quality of some of your "vendor's" products.  Obviously, not all of your products are poor quality, because many of your good reviews describe heavy, quality, sheets, but I strongly suspect that sending thin, sheer, low quality sheets is an intentional action in order to profit from people who don't know what a thick quality sheet set should look/feel like (or who don't want to hassle with returns).  The only downside is convincing the dissatisfied customers (like me) who are familiar with thick 2ply high-thread count sheets to not post accurate reviews on Amazon.

          You say you intend to work with Amazon on changing the "typo" of 35 pounds.  But you aren't specific as to what the actual weight of a quality king size sheet set is?  You write that it is 8-10 pounds. 

          Partly, my decision to purchase from you was because the weight was very heavy and some of your reviews said they were heavy.  I would think you would know exactly what every size actually weighs because shipping charges vary based on weight.

          If you are a legitimate businessman and aren't intentionally selling low quality sheets for high prices, then you will not have any problem changing all of the "typos" on all of your pages.  There are other pages on your storefront where the weights for King 1500TC sets are:  10, 12, 16, 17, and 28 pounds (I did not look at them all).  You say they all should be 8-10 pounds?  Are you saying all of these are typos? 

          I don't want other people to have to go through what I have gone through, and having accurate weight information would be a good first step.  Obviously, it is enticing to be offered a free set of sheets for removing my accurate review, but I am more concerned with other customers at this time. 

          Write to me when all these "typos" are corrected and then I will decide about removing my poor rating.

Veach  

Dear Mr Glines,
 
Thank you for the note.   Please allow me to explain further regarding how the edits happen to the listing page.
 
The listing page that you see on Amazon, is not owned or maintained by one individual seller, including myself.   That is the reason why you see more than one seller offering items for sale from one single listing.  That is the reason why individual seller do not have full control of the content of the listing page because the detail page is shared by more than one seller for selling the item.  In our listing for example, there are two sellers and previously at some point there may have been several sellers.   As a seller, I can only change item description at my end of the listing edit page and wait for it to get selected to get changed on the main listing page.  So it is not likely that all of the content that you see on the listing page including the weight was updated by one individual seller.  It is collection of contributions from different sellers at some point in time and that is why on other similar listings you may see different contents based on what one individual seller may have submitted and was selected. 
 
Please see attached my listing edit page where I have entered the weight of this specific item.  Just to be conservative,  I entered a lower of the two weights as weight depends also on the type of packaging used by individual vendor.  However, the weight  is not yet updated on Amazon.   I will give it few days and check again and if it does not change,  I will contact them to see if they can make the change manually for this item.
 
Please understand that feedback is completely your decision and I am not in any way forcing you to change the feedback.  I am only requesting you to consider to revise the feedback only at the end if you feel that as a seller I attempted to work with you to resolve the problem and only if you are satisfied. Since feedback is not just for the product but also for the seller experience I was requesting your help and was hoping I can make it up to you though my customer service.   I only wanted to send you the replacement set to ensure you receive a set that will be 100% satisfactory for you.  It has nothing to do with feedback.  I will respect whatever you decide.
 
Syed

Syed,         

          To recap:
  • I order 1500TC heavy sheets and pay you over $100.00 for them.
  • Your wholesaler sends me low quality thin sheets without your knowledge.
  • I return them to an address you provided but you don't know because I, nor your vendor, told you.
  • I complain to Amazon.
  • You refund all my money as well as all my shipping.
  • I post a 2-star review explaining that you advertise heavy sheets and ship light ones.
  • You claim the misleading weights are typos and offer a free set of personally inspected heavy sheets so I'll see you have provided the very best customer service.
  • I request you alter the weights listed on your pages which lead people to believe you are offering very heavy sheets.
  • You claim to request the typos be fixed, but state that because they are not solely edited by you, the final outcome is beyond your control.
          Nothing is ever your fault.  You are just a middle man.  You work with vendors, and suppliers, and wholesalers, and Amazon.

          Because of this "not my fault" constant, I decided to take a close look at your pages.  I understand Amazon's constraints and enticements on you.  "Enticement" is the word; clearly, you don't force dissatisfied customers to alter their reviews.

          Here are some of your recent 4 or 5 star reviews.  Notice anything?
  • Seller was very reasonable for returns.  Jamie S.
          This is an inordinate amount of customers with problems.

          The following are also your reviews.  However, these customers—with similar complaints as mine—chose to keep their sheets (either because they didn't know better or because they just don't return things) and post 4 or 5 star reviews:
  • These are the best sheets I have had in long time! Will be ordering more. I assume the wrinkles will disperse after the 2nd or 3rd washing! I am happy! Thank you!  Leslie [Leslie is clearly an idiot because heavy 2-ply quality sheets do not stay wrinkled.]
          And here are a few who chose not to be "enticed":
  • they knowingly sent the wrong item and were difficult to get refund from.   Lauren A. Hampton
  • I have returned the item and still have not received a credit back. I would like Amazon Customer Service to step in and help here. Please advise.  Sabrina  [Obviously, she also didn't send an email]
  • The product was not as advertised. I would not advise buying this product. I do not know if the seller's other products are worth buying.  Edward M.
  • The sheets were not what was described but the seller was more than willing to refund me 20% discount.  I settled for 60% refund.  They'll negotiate with you so they don't get negative feedback.  I wouldn't shop here again.  ImKim
  • Product was not the quality nor the thread count the seller advertised.   They refunded the money promptly but it was a waste of time and I had to pay for shipping the return.   Avoid this seller, they are dishonest about their product and they know it.  NewYorkRoger
  • Poor Quality not what seller described.  Creasyb    
          Sayed, you are obviously playing in the margins of the business rules set down by Amazon.  It appears, however, that you are gaming the system in order to profit from customers who either don't know what they should receive or realize you sent an inferior product but don't want to hassle with a return.

          I have decided to not accept your free set of sheets.  I will find a trustworthy business somewhere else.  It would feel like graft, and I suspect they would not be thick quality sheets and then I would be in the position of doing what?  Feeling guilty for returning the free set?

          I am going to refer all of this to Amazon's fraud department.  I believe there are hundreds (if not thousands) of Amazon's customers who have been scammed by receiving low-quality, thin, one-ply, sheets from you (or one or more of the wholesalers you use) who paid for high-quality, thick, two-ply, sheets and didn't complain.  I hope Amazon has the ability to go back and review those orders.

Veach Glines

Hello,
Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Asking you to change the seller rating or feedback you submitted is a violation of our Community Rules posted here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=1161272 
Violations of our Participation Agreement, of which these Community Rules are a part, can result in suspension of the seller's Amazon.com account.
I've filed a report to our Seller team on your behalf. Rest assured that each report they receive is investigated and appropriate action will be taken. If you'd like to send more details to this team, please use the form below and choose the "Report a violation of our rules" option:
            (report hotlink)  ... [filed report
I appreciate the time you took to write to us about this. Strong customer feedback like yours helps us improve our store and offer better service to our customers. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Best regards,
Shruthi N

Greetings from Amazon.com.
Thank you for submitting your report.  All reports are reviewed by our investigations team.  For privacy reasons, the results of our investigations cannot be disclosed, but please know that we will take any appropriate disciplinary actions. ... Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.
Best Regards,
Seller Performance Team
Amazon.com

Hello,
I'm truly sorry about the experience you had with the seller.
On priority, I've forwarded the details you sent us to our investigations team.   Each report they receive is investigated and the appropriate action is taken on the seller.  Further, I'd like to thank you for letting us know about the situation as I was able to escalate the problem and demand the seller for reasonable answers regarding this issue.
We always value this kind of feedback, as it helps us continue to improve our store and provide better service to our customers.   I am sorry that this experience has been a disappointment.   Rest assured, we’ll continue working hard to ensure that you receive accurate service, and to minimize the chances of anything like this occurring again.
Again, our sincerest apologies.  We hope you'll give us another chance to prove the quality of our service and look forward to your next visit.
Best regards,
Ranjith.Devireddy