Just Your Average Sunday Afternoon

Ever since I’ve gotten back from the Wedding/Honeymoon and had to deal with the mold issue, I’ve been on a mini-mission to find everything I’ve moved into the house and do a quick inventory and then a) pack it so it is findable again, or b) put in the recycling.

Today, I opened up a bin that I’ve probably been moving around since I graduated college. And, some of the stuff in it is from before I graduated high school.

Case in point?

NHL Hockey 95? Why Not

Yep, NHL Hockey ’95 for the PC. Which runs very nicely in Boxer, though I do not remember the keyboard commands at all. Back in the day, I used a Gravis Gamepad to play it. I think I’ll have to pair one of my Xbox controllers and see if I can be as good as I was in high school.

Next up? Virtual Pool. Or possibly NBA Live ’97.

And I found these gems.

VTnet98

Here’s some of the software Virginia Tech used to give you to help you get online. Because, you know, in 1998, it actually wasn’t easy for people to get online.

Spank the Pixel Monkey

A favorite of my friends, the Pixel Monkey. Because finding images for your website in 1996 was actually a pain. And there’s an entire array of construction gifs.

Hey, I'm working here

I’m keeping this one. Just in case.

Want a TV?

As I continue to go through the process of cleaning up our basement after the dreaded humidity incident, I’ve finally decided to part with my long-time TV. I’ve had it for about 14 years now, and it was my first ever HDTV. It’s made it through 3 separate moves, it’s played a lot of video games, and it’s never had an issue.

I just don’t have a need for it any more.

If you’ve got a use for a 46" rear projection HDTV, with two component inputs, a DVI input, and 4 other inputs, I’ve got the TV for you. It comes with a built in stand (which you can use, or not), and I’ll throw in an HDMI to component converter so that you can use one of your HDMI devices.

It’s a great TV for your video game room, particularly if you’ve got some older systems that you want to keep hooked up (again, 7 inputs!).

And it’s yours, free. If you come pick it up.

Don’t mind my photoshopping of the screen. I just photoshopped out some of the random basement stuff that was reflecting off of it.

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The screen.

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The base.

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Look at all those inputs.

I’ll probably put it on Craigslist later this week, so let me know if you’re interested.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

After all the travel drama, I finally settled in at home to clean up and re-organize post-wedding. With lots of gifts from our gracious friends and family, boxes and packages strewn everywhere from pre-wedding planning and decorations, and the general accumulation of mail and whatnot after a couple of weeks away, our house was in need of some cleaning and organization.

This was perfect timing, as it would allow me to actually start to organize our basement. We moved in to our new house in November, and a lot of things went straight into the basement and have been there ever since, waiting to be unpacked, recycles, or tossed.

As I walked into the basement, I was hit with a horrible smell and felt like I’d walked into a sauna.

Shit.

Our basement was more humid than you could possibly believe. As I walked around to find the worst of it, I started seeing some of our cardboard moving boxes had mold on the outside. Then I found an old bookcase that looked more like a mold colony than a bookcase at this point.

Action was necessary.

In the short-term, I trashed the moldy bookcase and anything else I could find that was compromised. I bleached and Lysol’d any surface that looked suspect. I ripped open boxes and started transferring everything we were going to keep (and no, I’m not getting rid of my cassettes or VHS tapes … not yet, at least) to plastic bins for better storage.

And I ordered a dehumidifier.

Two days later, the dehumidifier arrived.

It was 75% humidity in my basement. It took about 24 hours to get it down under 60%, and another day to get it down into the 40s.

Meanwhile, I was emptying the dehumidifier’s tank every 6–8 hours, which wasn’t sustainable. With no sink or drain[1] in the basement, I resorted to running a hose into a large bucket, so at least I could let it run for 24 hours before I had to empty the bucket.

It took me a few days, but I finally found myself a manageable solution. I would run the dehumidifier into a bucket that has a spigot (sorry beer bucket). Every day or so, I’d empty the spigot into a watering can. Our plants get some water, and the bucket gets emptied. And, the basement stays dry with no mold.[2]

With the humidity under control, I’ve gone full steam into putting everything into sustainable bins, so they’ll survive the heat and humidity of a Boston summer, and then the cold, wet winter. And accelerating my plan to empty my basement of stuff we probably (definitely) don’t need anymore.

Anybody want a 46" rear projection HDTV?


  1. I think I could probably find a way to run the dehumidifier into the washing machine drain, but I’m not a plumber and haven’t figured out exactly how to do that. In the meantime, my plants are looking mighty healthy.  ↩
  2. There’s a $40 pump on Amazon that I can use to pump the water out into the yard. I may look into that, though it’d require me drilling a hole in my window (or leaving a window open) to fit the hose out. Or, it’ll require me finding where to drain that water in my basement.  ↩

American Airlines Follow-up (or American Airlines Still Sucks)

If you didn’t see the post-script to my post about how awful American Airlines is, and how poorly they treated my wife and I (and thousands of other people), here’s the kicker—we made it onto our final flight and arrived home, and were even treated nicely (and sympathetically) for the first time by a really nice attendant.

And then our luggage wasn’t on our flight. Or the following two flights. It made the last flight out of Miami, meaning, once again, American made us wait an extra 24 hours to get our bags.

They delayed, cancelled, caused a missed connection, or lost our luggage on every leg of our travel. Both ways. Every leg.

I wrote them a long, detailed note while waiting in the line from hell. I actually sort of held it together and didn’t devolve into an array of f-bombs and calling people douchebag. I think that showed restraint.

They responded offering my wife and I each $200 in travel vouchers.

I politely told them to stick it and asked them that they give us a meaningful refund. We’ll see where this goes.

Why I’ll Never Fly American Airlines Again

I’m sitting here, at Gate D5 in Miami, waiting for a gate agent to arrive so I can try to ensure that my wife and I will have tickets home to Boston on our flight in about 2 hours. That doesn’t sound that bad (thought we’ll see what happens when they try to tell us we don’t have seats …), and I’m an easy flyer. Shit happens, flights get delayed, whatever. I’m usually incredibly nice and understanding to the airlines and attendants—they often have crappy jobs and have to deal with rationally (and irrationally) upset people.

But I have zero sympathy for American Airlines and their staff. I will go out of my way to never fly them again. I will pay my own dollars, or take an extra leg, to avoid flying this airline that clearly could give two shits about their customers.

It Begins

Last week, we headed to Logan to get ready for our flight to St. Croix. Got there nice and early, checked in, even though American’s ticket kiosk didn’t print out one of my tickets (the first sign of their incompetence) and even though they had a huge line for baggage drop-off, with 1.5 people working.

We get to our gate, get on the flight, and then …. we sit. We sit for almost an hour because the flight crew had to “file a new flight plan due to weather”. That sounds like a pretty horseshit excuse to me—couldn’t have done that earlier?—but, again, whatever. We take off 40 minutes late but expect to make up some time in the air.

The Cracks Begin to Show

We arrive in Miami just a little later than expected, so no big deal. We’ll hustle to our gate and we should be fine. Except we don’t have a gate. We are stuck on the tarmac. For an hour.

We’ve now, basically, missed our connection to St. Croix.

We get off the flight, the gate agent basically says “The flight’s closed, but you can run and take the skyway, and maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Thanks.

We do, and we make it. In fact, there were about 6 of us in the same boat, and we all made it.

And then we sat for another 40 minutes at the gate. So, you know, we didn’t have to run. They could have just delayed the flight and we would have all felt pretty good. Making it even better? They said they were getting some last minute baggage loaded up and we’d take the extra few minutes because “it could be your bag.”

It probably was.

The First Real Fuck You

But it wasn’t. Our luggage, even though we were at the gate for almost an hour after our flight landed, didn’t make the flight. Rather than leave it to American’s crack staff to deliver it to our hotel, we got a taxi to the airport to pick it up ourselves the next afternoon.

The Beginning of the End

On our way home, we get to the airport to find our flight back to Miami has been delayed almost 2 hours. They’ve already rebooked us on a connection … the next morning.

I say to Katie “let’s just get checked in, and I’ll call and see if there isn’t an earlier flight”. I guess this is my mistake, but really, you’ll see, it’s just another fuck you from American.

They check our bags to Miami, because of our expected layover.

I call American, they find us seats on the 9pm flight. We should be landing at 7:50pm. Should be no problem. Except our luggage. We’d have to go to baggage claim, pick it up, come back, clear security, and make our flight.

No big deal right. We’re still sitting in the airport. Let’s just have some go retag our bag to Boston, and we’ll be golden.

“Not possible.”
“Can’t do it.”
“Once it’s back there, no one can go near it, really.”

Seriously? Seriously? Seriously.

This to me is where American failed us over and over. Either they don’t empower their agents to do anything to help their customers, or they have a bunch of agents who could give two shits. The airport in St. Croix is tiny. It would have taken 15 minutes, tops, to find our bag and put a new tag on it.

We get on the flight and hope for the best.

Things are looking a little rosy when the pilot says we expect to land at 7:30. Fantastic. Good news!

We land at 7:44. We wait on the plane for a gate until 8:50.

Fuck you, American. Fuck you.

We run to our gate, the flight has just left. Ironically, our originally 7:50 connection had been delayed until 9:25pm. We would have had a better shot of making that flight.

No flight, our baggage is in theory at baggage claim, and we’re stuck in Miami. We’ll head to rebooking, get a new flight and a hotel voucher, and just deal with it.

The End of the End

The rebooking line is hundreds of people long. Some folks say they’ve been there for 2 hours and are still an hour away from the front. I call to get our flight changed to the earliest flight on Saturday (today), and wait in line for a hotel voucher.

And wait.

And wait.

Eventually, we overhear that there are no more hotel vouchers. There’s no more hotels.

We’d been in line for 3 hours. Not once did someone come by and express sympathy, or apologize. At 3 hours, we overheard another conversation and learned that we were screwed again. I went to talk to an agent to see if he could help me with our bags and at least book them through to Boston. He didn’t express any sympathy, or even feign caring. He snippily said “I’m busy, you’ll have to wait a few minutes.”

I admit to losing my cool and saying “I’ve been waiting 3 fucking hours. Can you please just help me now?”

That didn’t go over well. But, honestly, I could wait him out. In theory, our bags will be on our flight.

Katie and I walked around the airport, eventually got a few minutes of restless sleep, and now we’re waiting to see if we get on the flight we’re supposed to get on. At 7:52, for a 9:35 flight, we still don’t have a gate agent to give us our seats.

At this point, the odds of both us and our luggage making it to Boston are low. The odds of American doing anything and not royally fucking it up are low.

The End End

In all of this, not a single airport employee has expressed any empathy. Not one has apologized. Actually, I take it back. They apologized by saying how hard a day they had, too. With a multi-hundred person line, they didn’t walk around letting us know what was going on, or even offer water or snacks. They just let us stand there, until all the hotels were booked, and 99% of our food options were gone, and then said “sorry, you’re on your own.”

I don’t usually bitch about service. Bad service happens. People have bad days.

This isn’t “bad days.” This is a broken company who either don’t care, or assume that we have so few options, that we can’t do anything about it.

I’ve written to them on Twitter (and in the end, I’ll admit, I basically spent the night trolling them, responding to anyone else’s complaints to highlight them—including NBA player Ed Davis, who was likewise fucked by American), I’ve filed a formal complaint via the website, I’ve liked other angry missives on Facebook, and I’m writing this.

I fully expect none of it to matter. I fully expect American just doesn’t give a shit.

That works both ways, American.

Coda

We made our flight home.

Our luggage didn’t. They lost our luggage both directions. Even though we’d been assured by a snippy gate agent (during our marathon wait in line) that it would be on the flight.

It arrived on the last flight from Miami to Boston on Saturday. We received it Sunday right around noon.

To their, “credit”, American offered us a grand $200 in vouchers to use on their airline. That we will, most certainly not use.

Wasteful Packaging

Apropos of nothing …

Since we just got married, we’ve had a pretty continuous stream of gifts showing up at our house (we have very generous friends). One of the interesting things has been seeing how different companies ship their wares.

Last week, we got two packages. After removing all the packing materials, this is what was inside:

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Seriously.

Inside was about 6 cubic feet of bubble wrap and paper wrapping, followed by a single item.

Now, I’m guessing that they were set to ship as soon as each item was ready, but man, that’s a lot of wasted material and probably a lot of wasted space in the warehouse, shipping vehicles, etc.

Amazon, in my experience, tends to be a lot better about their packaging. Not great, but a lot less wasted space and wasted packing material. Bed Bath & Beyond has also tended to ship things reasonably tightly. On the contrary, I’ve had to fill up probably two or three full garbage bins with bubble wrap just from Crate and Barrel. That seems awfully wasteful. There’s a happy medium between packing something safely and filling up a box (a box that has a single grill spatula) with yards of bubble wrap and packing paper.