31 March 2008

Speaking Up

This morning I took YAMF (yet another morning flight) and as usual went around to Hertz to pickup my rental. Now often I can just breeze right through. Spot my name on the board, head to car, and I'm off! But from time to time, things get hinky so I have to step to the Gold counter and get it sorted.

Before I jump into the situation from this morning, let me set the context. I'm a full-time traveler. I don't own a car; instead I drove rental cars for about 320 days this past year (I was out of the country the rest of the year). Last year and the year before were about the same, so when it comes to renting cars I think I qualify as an authority.

This morning, the service I personally received at the rental counter was pretty good, which is not always the case in Seattle. The guy that helped me was courteous and helpful and handled my business efficiently. But the next guy over was discourteous and rude.

He comes out from the back room listening to an IPod and wearing a scowl. Unlike the other three employees, I couldn't find a name tag. When he finally decided to remove the headset, he didn't greet the customer just sort of grunted and motioned. The poor chap didn't have a Gold reservation, but instead of just quietly fixing it and sending him along, he has to embarrass the kid by announcing his shortcoming to entire room. And when the kid corrected the employee, the employee argued with him making it worse! When he finally finished printing things out he just handed him the papers without any send-off at all.

The next fellow also got the silent treatment mixed with sighing and generally disposition that says I wish I was somewhere else and you people weren't bothering me.

Lastly, this lady came up to make some changes to her rental. He told her she had to call-in or go online to "fix her profile". As if it was broken. He didn't offer the number or the URL. Just go do it somewhere else and don't bother me. She then asked again if he would make the changes for this rental, and he told her to go back out to the car and bring him the contract. She said "excuse me?" and he said, "just go grab your contract from the car". I was shocked.

At this point, my car was ready, so I asked to speak with the manager. He showed up and I made a point of asking if we could speak privately. We went outside and I told him what I had witnessed. Just after we started, the employee came outside and eavesdropped on the conversation, right where I could see him! He did this after I specifically asked for a private conversation. The manager wasn't particularly helpful, but did appear to listen. When he asked me to confirm who it was, I just pointed and said he was the guy listening in, right there.

Most people (myself included) are really at a disadvantage when picking up the rental car. We've just flown in from some random place and we need to get on the road. Getting jerked around by the rental company is hard, but then you don't feel like you can take the time to say something. You are in a hurry, and why bother to try and make it known that this guy needs more training before unleashing him on customers? Just give me my car and let me go, right? Sometimes it's just too much and you have to let it out, else how will they get better? So this morning, I was the voice of three obviously dissatisfied people because I don't want my next experience to suck too.

Hertz, you need to shake things up a bit in Seattle. I've been a great customer, and your other locations are usually pretty decent. But this is the fourth really distasteful experience I've had in Seattle this year. Please clean it up!

26 March 2008

Snow for Trivia night

Playing trivia with the boys at Fado. Decided I have a crush on the waitress. Red hair, yummy.

While we were drinking, it started snowing. How cool is that?

24 March 2008

Gate Number 10

For the weekend, I re-lived some small parts of a previous life. There is a lot that recalled fondly and relished in revisiting.

Surprisingly, Gate 10 was one of them. It would be a pleasure to partake of this great gate again should the opportunity arise.

Who'd have guessed?

22 March 2008

20 March 2008

Maybe It's Me

This one is for Josh. Maybe he's not the only one leading a semi-charmed kind of life.

Days like this help me see why everyone wants to live in the O.C. and the rich try and keep everyone out.

Just gorgeous.

17 March 2008

No I Didn't Pay Her

But she's hot enough that they were wondering...

(editors note: she wrote this text, not I)

Truck Signs

As I was trucking around the beautiful city of Scottsdale today I ended up behind a truck with lots of signage.

It wasn't helpful, professional signage, this was personal all the way. Now normally I think bumper stickers and the like are only sported by ignorant and naive people who are so closed-minded and self-absorbed that they think the general public will actually care about their opinions and stances on assorted crap.

For some reason this particular truck didn't make me jump to judgement quite so fast. Which made me wonder about me more. (Now who's self-absorbed.)

Why is it that when I agree with the sentiments displayed that I'm less heated about the ignoramus displaying them? Am I really so shallow as to be swayed simply by alignment of sympathy? I would like to see myself more consistent than that. Alas.

If you have signage I agree with, even partially, I will be much less apt to despise you and declare you dumb. If you really only want to espouse moronic overly impractical platitudes through the venue of your vehicle, I will openly mock you in my head. If that happens to be on the way to a job interview with me, you probably won't get it because I'll have already decided you aren't smart enough just using your bumper sticker as empirical evidence of your poor decision-making and communication skills. The same goes if you show up for the interview on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.

Yes I am that shallowly analytical. Best to own up quickly eh?

15 March 2008


Last night watching George Lopez perform he did a great bit about Crocs. It was super funny and Josh mentioned it as we were leaving that he thought it was one of the funniest bits in the whole show.

Today walking to the gate at SeaTac airport I pass the Crocs store and about pissed myself laughing so hard.

I just had to pass this photo on.

14 March 2008

One Night @ The Hyatt

The Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle is really a great hotel. I don't usually spend a ton of time looking out the hotel windows, but today's rainy view of The Sound and the Space Needle was really entrancing for some reason.

08 March 2008

Caleb Sporting My Hat

He cuts such a handsome figure!

Brunch is always the best with my beautiful boy. Emma and I both enjoyed a Panera morning. Caleb was grumpy but warmed up with a cinnamon roll.

06 March 2008


Enjoying some quality time with a bro at Zeitgeist. Love the Black Cherry.

Checking out Harvey Danger later. Brother of a friend is the lead singer. I love how small the world is these days.

03 March 2008

Though I Wonder Sometimes

Every now and again, I find myself in need of a clear reminder. My desperate need as a human to make a connection with other humans. I avoid it sometimes, lash out at it other times, find distractions from it regularly. Intellectually, I know it is better if I make the connections, rather than waiting for the connections to make me.

But I don't have to like it…

I am a man on a mission
I have tunnel vision
Just 'cause I'm not talking
Don't mean that I'm not listening
You can say I suffer from a lifelong condition
You know I love you baby
But try to understand I am a man

I am a man of passion
Maybe it's magic, maybe it's a chemical reaction
All I know is you walk in the room
There's a fire deep inside me
And it's burning just for you
You know I want you baby
Try to understand
I am a man

I'm right, I'm wrong
I'm weak, I'm strong
And I'm all points in between
I don't say much
But when we touch
You know just what I mean

I'm a man of conviction
I do believe in God
But I wrestle with the devils of addiction
Sometimes I lie awake at night
Pray that you'll turn over
Wrap your arms around me tight
Put my head on your shoulder
You know I need you baby
Try to understand
I am a man

-- I Am A Man by Lonestar from the album Coming Home

And yes, sometimes the easiest way to express myself, especially when it's 4am is to use other people lyrics. So piss off Cory.

01 March 2008

Placing Your Bets

What seems like ages ago in the late 90's I started building up my digital music collection and because of my close ties with Microsoft naturally I chose Windows Media Audio as the format I would support. Who knew?

Who knew that Microsoft would do such a piss-poor job of supporting digital technology? Who knew they'd see massive churn in their hardware expertise and completely screw-up their entrée into the music player market? Who knew they'd talk so freakin' long to make even token progress in car audio, phone audio, and personal devices? More's the sucker I.

Now I find myself with a library of more than 100,000 songs and the vast majority from online retailers who supported WMA. But I can't put the audio where I want it any more. I doesn't play well with my Nano, it won't play well in the car, it's a pain to work with on my phones. In short, I'm through suffering to support a format that has been so hideously mishandled.

So know I've been struggling with the easy way to convert ten thousand albums into MP3 format without losing the substantial investment I've made in ratings, album covers, categorization, and data clean-up. I'm notoriously picky about data, and my music collection is one of those places it shows the most. But seriously, convert 100K songs automatically with back-up and verification?

First off, I went a-hunting. I tried tool after tool, widget after widget, and spent some decent coin trying out even the more high-end utilities and packages. Generally speaking, they all are fine for the little guys, but when you are talking THOUSANDS of albums, they stop being useful.

So naturally, my engineering spirit erupted in full bloom and I've had to create several utilities to manage and control this process. Hundreds of hours later, I'm still not finished with the conversion process even though it is largely automatic with only a minimal set of smooth (to my mind) human verification steps.

The moral I learned from this adventure is to place your technology bets wisely. Had I given up after the first ASF debacle I would only have 40 or 50 gigabytes of music to manage instead of 600 GB of digital audio that needs to be handled with care.