Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lack of Professionalism

I Hate the Lack of Professionalism in the service industry. I get it, we are all human and we all have our good days and our bad days. But, we are in the middle of the biggest economic downturn in 70 years right? One would think that those in the service industries would be hurting for work and would want to please the customer as much as possible. So here are two quick stories that happened to me very recently as we are preparing to move from LA to OC.

First, I get a referral to a guy who (theoretically) does good drywall work. I call him on Friday and it sounds like I caught him at a busy time. I tell him about the job and he agrees to come over on Tuesday to take a look at the job. When I ask to give him my address and phone number he says he is busy and asks me to text him the information, that way he will have it on his cell phone. All of this sounds good and I am actually pleased that he is putting his technology to good use. I text him my info and he replies "See you Tuesday. I'm looking forward to working for you." So far, so good.

Tuesday arrives, I don't go on an outing with my wife and child just to wait for the "drywaller". The appointed time comes and goes with no show and no call. So, I text the man. "Just a reminder. See you at 2?" This is the reply I get, "Who's this?" I explain who it is and remind him of the conversation and text exchange we had 4 days earlier. I get no response for 15 min. I then text "Sorry if there was any confusion, looks like today won't work? You can call my house if you want to set up another time" and I gave him my home #. 15 min later (40 min after the agreed upon time) I get a blank text from the man. I wait another 15 min and then call another company to do the work. I text the guy back and say, "Sorry this didn't work out, I have made other arrangements." I never hear from the guy again.

Three things kill me about this. 1) Again, aren't contractors hurting for work? Or am I being misled about how bad it is out there? Wouldn't this guy want to capitalize on every opportunity that comes his way. 2) This was a referral and he knew that. Shouldn't he be very concerned about burning the guy who referred him? I never called the guy who referred him back to complain, but maybe I should have. 3) Any sane person who misses an appointment (whether they knew about it or not) knows that it is one of the worst feelings in the world. At least it is for me. This guy had access to his cellphone enough to text me "Who is this?" One would think that he would be flipping out over having missed an appointment and would be running to the nearest phone to call and reschedule. But that would be how a sane person would respond.

My second (much quicker) example is from a potential Realtor in the area. We got a referral from a resident in the complex we live in. This woman did a good job selling another unit in our complex, so why not ours? I got her business card and called the number on the card expecting to hear something professional on the other end of the phone. What I got was, "Hello" (said in a slightly annoyed tone). Now, we have our number blocked for some reason and I understand a certain amount of skepticism, but this is still a Realtor I am calling right? I say, "I am sorry, I am looking for (her name here)". "Yeah, that's me." I say, "Did I catch you at a bad time?" Her response, "No." All of this is said with a real tone of "Who are you and what do you want?!" I tell her that I will let her go and might call back at a better time. I move on to a more professional Realtor.

What gets me about both of these service professionals is that they are clearly using their private phones to conduct their business. That is fine, save a buck where ever you can. But then shouldn't you handle every unknown caller as a potential client? What if that was a buyer for my house calling the potential Realtor? Or what if I needed that drywall done on a deadline for an open house? In the end, I guess you get what you pay for and I will be going with known companies from now on and paying the 20% premium for the privilege of having an office with a professional staff and communication that does not have to happen over text message.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I LOVE/HATE Television. This is my first post that is truly a love/hate. In general, I am a big fan of TV. I spend way too many hours a day in front of its HD goodness. And there are several shows that I look forward to week after week. Between Modern Family, Parenthood, True Blood, Entourage, Hung, Lie To Me, House, and The Daily Show (to name a few) we keep DVR pretty busy.

This last season, we said a bitter sweat goodbye to two of our favorites. Of course Lost may have given us the biggest series finally of our generation and I feel they ended it about as well as any show like that could. The other major show that saw its end was 24. Jackie and I had watched every episode of both of these programs and enjoyed a satisfying ending to each (keep your eye open for a 24 movie in the near future).

So where is the Hate? Ever hear of a show called Flash Forward? Yeah, me too! It was my favorite new addition to the fall line up. It hooked me from the pilot and it gave me something to chew on each and every new episode. And then ... it was cancelled. What?! Do they realize that there are 3 CSIs, 2 NCISs, and 3 Law and Orders (they lost one this year but, don't worry, Law and Order: Los Angeles is on the way this fall). I get why it got the axe, viewership went down from 12.5 million at the premier to about 5 million by the finale. However, it carried that 5 million viewers for about half of the season. Mad Men, by the way, gets less than 2 million viewers an episode (more on that later). OK, I get it, Law and Order gets around 10 million an episode.

Here is what gets me wanting to throw the remote through the TV: When a show is based on mystery and unanswered questions, LET THEM END THE SHOW!!! There needs to be a law that if a network cancels a show, they must be allowed to tape at least one more episode to wrap up the storyline. When shows know that they are going off the air, you at least get something to keep fans happy. Just look at the series finales of Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Alias, and The X-Files to name a few.

But for every Lost, there are 4 Flash Forwards (Invasion, Jericho, Heroes, Journeyman, Life, Kings, John Doe ...) So, I have a few suggestions to everyone. To the networks, give the shows a heads up. I get it if you have to cancel a show but let them know with enough time to tape a "wrap it up" episode. By burning the 5 million viewers still loyal to Flash Forward you are making us look elsewhere for our episodic entertainment. To the shows themselves, know when to say when. Lost wasn't canceled, it chose to end. The creators knew it couldn't go on forever and were able to give it the conclusion it deserved. More shows should take a hint from this type of forethought. I'm looking at you Dark Angel and The 4400. And to the viewers, it's time to check out what cable has to offer. As I said earlier, Mad Men survives on less than 2 million viewers an episode and will almost certainly be allowed to end on its own terms. My new obsession, Rubicon, is not for everyone but I feel comfortable devoting my time to it as I am sure AMC will let it run its course. Between Breaking Bad, Rescue Me, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, and everything on HBO and Showtime, there is tons of great programing out there on cable that probably won't get canceled before its time.

I leave you with this; Will "The Event" get cancelled before I find out what "the event" actually is? It is a good sign that they are pouring tons of advertising dollars into it but I do feel like I am asking for a mid-season rage fest when it goes on winter hiatus never to return. Only time and a devoted fan base of more than 8 million will tell.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


These two are only loosely related to the subject of his blog, but they make me laugh. The one above is from which might be the best web site on the internet.

I HATE Advertising. I can't even watch regular TV any more. TIVO has ruined me for good. I just spent an hour watching un-TIVO'd TV at my parents' house and I reached for the remote to fast forward like 10 times. That's more than once per commercial break. I hate ads because they are programmed to be played at a louder volume than normal TV. I hate them because they are (with a few exceptions) unoriginal and mindless. But mainly, I hate them because of how they misuse and abuse statistics to influence the masses.

I blame the government as much as anyone else. There needs to be better truth in advertising laws. For example, how is it that I can save hundreds of dollars with every car insurance company? That can't possibly work unless I am on some sort of MC Escher inspired never ending staircase of savings. I've got it! I will just keep changing companies and because I can save with each one, eventually they will be paying me right? I realize that they are using hand picked stats with very specific amounts of coverage to prove their point, but does anyone get to know what that given set of data is? The worst part is that because I can't trust all of these claims, I don't trust any of them. Each ad might as well be someone saying, "Hey, we also sell car insurance."

Other ads claim "#1 in customer service" or "America's favorite hot dog". Rarely do they go into how they came to this bold statement. Occasionally, they mention some sort of national poll which I am immediately skeptical about. What was the sample size, who were the subjects, what was the method of randomization, and how many times did you do the poll before you landed on the result you were looking for? OK, that may be the Statistics nerd in me talking and I get that few others care about these things, but these companies should have to put this stuff on their websites so that nerds like me can look it up and tell everyone else if the claims are legitimate. Well, no such rule exists. Companies can say that they are the best at something with basically no proof. I think that there is a rule that if a company says something like "clinically proven", there must be some study that proves what they are saying. But the company is not required to make that study public so what good is that to me?

Lastly, here are a pair of phrases that get me every time. First, be on the lookout for the words "up to". As in, "you could lose up to 10 lbs." So, I could lose nothing or even gain weight? Awesome! With that in mind, I am starting my new "do nothing" diet. Just pay me $20 and you could lose up to 5 lbs in the first week alone. I'm sure that in a random sample of, say, 1000 people, at least one person would lose 5 lbs right? The other phrase is "no one does _____ more/better". As in, "No one provides a better picture than Sony." The thing is, they are not actually saying that they do it better than anyone else, just that they do it at least equal to everyone else. By way of ridiculous analogy, and this is true, no one alive today has been to Mars more times than ME! And if anyone tells you otherwise, they are a big, fat liar!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

La Jolla

This whole building (above) is the La Jolla Cove Suites

I LOVE La Jolla. If you are looking for a little vacation spot that makes it feel like the rest of the world has faded away, look no further. Specifically, I am talking about "The Cove" area of La Jolla. And specifically, I am talking about The La Jolla Cove Suites. Recently, we took a group vacation to this very spot and had an amazing time.

When I was a kid, my parents and I would vacation with some family friends and their two daughters. Often these family group trips would be to the La Jolla Cove and we would stay at the La Jolla Cove Suites. So now, all of us kids have kids of our own and we decided to take a big group trip with everyone. So, there were 4 grand parents, 5 parents, and 4 kids between us. The beach was the big draw, but the main street (just around the corner) has some great restaurants and a nice casual nightlife atmosphere. We spent 5 fun-filled days and 4 relaxing nights there.

On multiple occasions, members of the vacation party mentioned that it felt like Hawaii. I love to swim and snorkel and the Cove is a great place for both. My dad and I rented some snorkeling equipment on an exceptionally clear day and I saw some amazing things in that little cove. The Garibaldi is a bright orange fish that is actually California's state fish. And they were everywhere. Usually they are very territorial and stay in their own littler area, so you can understand my shock when I turned around to see 15 of them in about a 6 foot radius. Topping that, was my close encounter with a local sea lion. It actually circled me three times from about 8 feet away. That was exciting and a little scary as I didn't know if I had ventured into its territory or gotten near one of its kids or something.

Possibly most importantly, the vacation gave me a chance reconnect with my childhood friends and their kids. This also marked the first family vacation for me, Jackie, and Kyra. All in all, we had a great time relaxing, catching up and watching our kids making new memories right in front of our eyes. Well, it may be too early for Kyra to develop memories but she will enjoy the pictures when she gets older.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Movie Talkers

WARNING: The following blog entry contains MINOR spoilers for the movie Knight and Day. I mainly reference moments shown in the previews and DO NOT comment on specific plot points.

I HATE people who talk during movies. Jackie and I recently made it out to see the new action, romantic-comedy Knight and Day and 5 min into the movie, the fire alarm goes off and we all have to vacate the theater. It actually only took about 30 min for them to clear and re-set the theater and turn what could have been a disaster into just an inconvenience. Now, it is saying something that I almost wish we had not been let back into the theater. This is not a comment on the movie. I think Knight and Day may well be a very good movie, but I couldn't tell because the couple directly behind me WOULD NOT SHUT UP!!!

It all started during our second run through the previews. Having already seen these exact trailers, the couple (who seemed to be on their third-ish date) decided to break the tension by joking about and narrating all 6 of these mini-movies. I let this go because it seemed ridiculous to demand silence for previews we had already seen and I fully expected them to tone in down once the movie began. I was wrong. In fact, I am not sure that I have ever been more wrong.

The woman was by far the more vocal of the two. During the 5 min of the movie we had already seen, I heard several "Oh, yeah"s and "Right"s as she felt the need to express to her date that she did, in fact, remember these moments from a whole 45 min ago. Through the rest of the movie, I must have heard "Oh, wow!" from this woman around 15 times (Jackie will say that I am underestimating this). It wasn't just what she said, it was when she said it. Now, Knight and Day is a spy type movie, and Mrs. Obvious would blurt out "Oh, wow!" when ... wait for it ... a spy type person would show up somewhere. This includes almost every time the Tom Cruse character, a very accomplished government operative, showed up somewhere (un)expectedly.

These comments paled in comparison to the number of inane and obvious comments that she made about the story progression in the movie. For instance, in the preview, you see Tom Cruse shoot a guy in the leg and then explain to him that he is going to be OK, it was a "through and through". During the movie, when Tom shoots the guy in the leg and then they show the wound, the woman behind me questions, "He shot him in the leg?" and then when Tom explains that he didn't hit any bone or major artery, Queen Of All That Is Obvious announces, "Oh, but he's gonna be alright." Or how about this gem? In the trailers, there is a scene where Tom takes out a plane full of people intent on harming him. So, sitting in the theater having watched Tom at his action hero best, we see Cameron Diaz exiting the lavatory having missed everything. As Cameron walks down the aisle, the genius behind me says, "Oh, they're all out and she doesn't know." WE SAW THEM ALL GET TAKEN OUT! And, of course she doesn't know, she was in the bathroom and ... THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT FUNNY!!!!!!!

Imagine that for 2 full hours and you have some idea of the hell I was in. Jackie and I did turn around a shush them early on in the movie. That worked ... for about 2 min. Then they were right back to stating the obvious and ruining my movie. We also looked into moving. We have done so before in other movies (I swear we attract these wackos). But, this was opening weekend of a big blockbuster, the only open seats were in the first two rows. Instead, we sat there and took it, not wanting to ruin the movie for anyone else around us. But, with every comment, I was pulled out of the movie and even when she wasn't commenting, I was sitting there wondering what obvious remark she might make next.

So, please don't talk at the movies. Don't let anyone you are with talk at the movies. Gare at and shush other people who talk at the movies. And, if you absolutely must talk during a movie, I have one word for you ... Netflix!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I HATE Misquotes. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if someone messes up a word or two here or there. But when the meaning of the quote is lost or even reversed, I get a little bothered. My two biggest pet peeves come from Shakespeare. Oddly, the two quotes that I am talking about are often stated word for word correctly, but the intention tends to get all jumbled up.

First is, "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" The only time I ever hear this quote (often in TV commercials) it is used as if to say, "Where is my Romeo?" This is overly simplistic and actually a little insulting to the true meaning of the quote. Instead of just asking where her man is, Juliet is actually asking why the man she loves has to be named Romeo (a name that belongs to her family's sworn enemy). This line, in fact, is followed closely by another famous line, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Famously, this speech is, however, given from a balcony which just adds to the myth that she is looking for Romeo from the high vantage point.

The second Shakespeare quote that gets correctly quoted, but misused is from Richard III. "Now is the winter of our discontent ..." Generally, this gets used in a situation in which people are feeling discontented. This is fairly understandable as it is stated by the villain of the play who is often discontented. However, the remainder of this quote is, "... made glorious summer by this son of York." Richard is actually publicly praising his brother for bringing the kingdom out of a state of discontent. So, "Winter" in this case means "end of".

Just for fun, here is one last pure misquote but, this time, from 1971. Dirty Harry never said, "Do you feel lucky punk?" Instead, he said, "... you've gotta ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?" This isn't a huge deal, but I just think that the actual quote is way cooler and it is interesting that so many people misuse this one in particular. In general, I have way less issues with this misquote because it is at least it is being used with the correct meaning. But, you better be feeling lucky if you misquote the meaning of a Shakespeare line in my presence.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Blockbusters

I LOVE Summer Blockbusters. I can't help it, I am a sucker for a big budget action flick. Every summer at about this time I get all jacked up about the months of big name movies that are about to hit the theaters. It is like every week is a new chance for an adrenaline filled joyride. During the summer, I will see almost anything that looks flashy and fun.

Some of my friends joke that I have no taste in movies. I disagree. I know when a movie is bad, it's just that sometimes, I like bad movies. To be clear, I have hated movies before, even action ones. Spiderman 3, for example, was inexcusably terrible. However, Daredevil, for example, was technically awful. But, I had a good time watching that bad movie. While Spiderman 3 was tired, overproduced, overcomplicated, and insulting to the audience with its plot and character development. Daredevil was simple, inventive (blind guy kicks ass by hear/seeing), and unencumbered by any hint of self-righteousness. It knew what it was; a cheesy, popcorn, comic book, action movie.

Now, my favorites are true masterpieces like The Dark Knight, Iron Man 1 (and to a lesser extent, 2), and The Matrix. And, while I am hoping for something great to emerge this summer, I will settle for a few fun date nights with my wife at the theater. Jackie, by the way, is a real trouper and goes with me to most of these potential suckfests. She even enjoys herself on occasion.

So, what am I looking forward to this season? Iron Man 2 set the bar fairly high, but there is definitely room for improvement. I have high hopes for the A-Team, The Last Airbender, Predators (Robert Rodriguez producing), and Inception. My guilty pleasures may be Prince of Persia, The Karate Kid (learning Kung Fu), Salt, and Jonah Hex.

My biggest problem is that I get too excited about movies too early. So, thank you JJ Abrams for the sneak peek at "Super 8", a movie that hasn't even started principal photography. But, the movie that I might be most excited about, won't come out for over 6 months. While technically not a "summer" blockbuster, I cannot wait for Tron Legacy. I remember watching Tron at a young age (it came out when I was 6 years old) and I hope that this sequel captures the same magic. Here is a look at both the trailer and the teaser. So, until December 17th, I will have to make due with my unflappable optimism for this year's Summer Blockbusters.

Leave a comment with the movie you are most looking forward to this season.