Amazon hates the earth?

I wrote this almost a month ago and never finished it:

Note to Amazon: did you REALLY need that much packaging for a kitchen utensil?

And then this week we received:
bigbox
We actually received an empty computer tower in its own box, which was then packed in this giant box with all that paper, but this approximates the size of the contents. Why can’t Amazon slap a label on the box the product already came in?! There’s no need for a second box big enough to mail my collie. (She wouldn’t pose, btw.)

Then I tried to recycle the giant box. It’s too big to put in our curbside container (95 gallons!) without a lot of boxcutting, so I flattened it and stopped by the public dropoff:
recyclingbins
Alas, no room at the inn. At first I was mad at my fellow citizens for leaving all the extra boxes outside the full bins (and note the extra bags in the background at the green glass/plastic/metal recycling bins), causing them to become trash, but then I realized that some people are actually trying to recycle and this stupid city just can’t get its act together to allow us to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I have made multiple trips to this dropoff site because it was full. That’s why I now PAY for curbside recycling.

Back to Amazon. I’ve mentioned this problem before. Not that I expect anyone to read all of these, but if you’re interested, others have my same complaint and similar pictures:

http://www.adamreeve.com/2007/09/14/amazon-packaging-is-nuts/

http://gruntdoc.com/2008/03/great-moments-in-amazon-packaging.html

http://www.goodexperience.com/tib/archives/2007/04/amazon_packagin.html

http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/cd/discussion.html?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx20DX5GEB7TUX8&cdThread=Tx3BW1ZDW8NRT69

http://www.mattazuma.com/2008/11/amazon-packaging-excesses.html

http://blogs.forbes.com/digitaldownload/2008/09/amazon-packagin.html

http://pinstripebindi.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/amazon-packaging-fail/

http://getsatisfaction.com/amazon/topics/why_does_amazon_use_so_much_packaging

http://www.sustainableisgood.com/blog/2008/08/amazon2.html

But wait! Is there hope?
http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/11/20/amazon-debuts-frustration-free-packaging/

I guess our computer case and strainer are not among the 19 whole products that don’t get double-boxed.

Vegetarian haggis

Well, I had to try it just because it was there. I’ve never had real haggis so I don’t know how it compares, but it was very seasoned and very comfort food-y. You can try your own (or the real version) at MacNiven’s on Mass Ave in Indy. Sorry for the dim camera phone picture. Unlike a European establishment, they WILL kick you out when you finish eating and other people want a table.

Vegetarian Haggis, Neeps & Tatties
Kidney beans, lentils, mushrooms, onions, neeps, peanuts, almonds, walnuts & oats make up this version, served with mashed potatoes & sweet neeps.

They don’t seem to have a real web page with menu (and prices are dated based on what I paid) but if you want to go to their myspace page with annoying autoplay music, be my guest.

This week I also tried the new Siam Square in Fountain Square. They have lots of veggie options! We had spring rolls, veggie tempura, eggplant chicken (but w/tofu), red curry, and coconut chicken soup (again subbing tofu). The appetizers were just good but the soup and main dishes were worth coming back. The ambiance was weird since we were in the overflow upstairs seating, but overall it’s a hip casual vibe and it was crowded on a Saturday evening. The downer for me was when the server guy threw a glass beer bottle in the trash. It’s not like those are hard to recycle.


One wonders if these guys really have no Ns when they obviously have three Vs.

Coming soon: I saw the BEST giant sign typo tonight! I have to go back for a picture later. I know you’re on the edge of your office chairs.

Also: It’s COLD!
Hey, how cold is it?
It’s so cold we had dinner with a bunch of Canadians tonight and THEY thought it was way too cold!
Meanwhile I didn’t know they said pasta as (living-in-the-)pas-tuh.

I can see the outdoors!

I have been a trailer denizen for the last three years. Yes, even Fortune 500 companies make their employees work in trailers sometimes. The lease is up and they decided to drive away all the doublewides, so I’ve been relocated to a recently remodeled office area that has WINDOWS. Not like the window in my trailer cubicle which looked into the window of the cubicle in the doublewide right next to mine, but one where I can see SNOW today. Most of the window in my cube is blocked by the cube wall itself (great space planning, folks), but overall it’s a lovely place to while away my career and watch my 401k erode. Unfortunately this office and lab is scheduled to move to another building next year and I’ll probably move with them, and I probably won’t have such a tantalizing window then. But for two months I shall savor my awesome office!

Of course now my office’s regular bathroom is that one everyone in the building uses to take a crap.

The fabric walls here are a lovely stain-hiding gray pattern, much better than the brownish yellow trailer walls even Dwight Schrute wouldn’t have bought a shirt in. The real walls here are a calming sage green and there is a cold air return shshshshshshshshing away nearby to white-noise my neighbors. My drawers lock with eight copies of my keys. The desk actually fits me–who wants my massaging seesaw footrest thingy?

In the process of moving people out of five doublewides, a lot of office-y mess is left behind. My heart broke to see all the binders and inboxes in the trash bins after we left, so I found a cart and salvaged a couple loads of perfectly useful office supplies and put them in the–you guessed it–supply area! I also took home eight copy boxes of decorations and a six foot Christmas tree which was going to be trashed. I will Freecycle them and let the office decorations live on, spared from the landfill for now.

One glitch since moving: I can’t find my pens.

Lambert, the sheepish lion

My brother and I used to watch this Disney cartoon when we were kids. We’d rewind the wolf falling noise over and over (and the noise the old lady made in Lewis’ apartment building in Ghostbusters). I was singing “Casper, the stinky doggie” to the Lambert tune a few minutes ago and thought I’d see if I could find the cartoon!

How to void your warranty

I bought a netbook for David as a birthday/Christmas gift. It arrived a few days ago, and already last night he had it all taken apart to swap the hard drive for something newer and cooler. It wasn’t really working last night after he did this, and this morning I noticed the new drive on the desk and the computer put back together. Let’s hope he was at least able to restore it to a functioning state. He was mad that they put one of the screws under a “void if removed” warranty sticker. Well, duh.

The pups were leaning against each other a few nights ago. They kind of looked like an octopus.

BTW, both cars are now fixed! I’m out $500 but no longer stranded.

Nicole spotted this gem on our way back from the gym yesterday!

Aw, blow it out your snotbox

We had a family poker party (though I played Perquackey instead) this weekend for Great Grandpa’s 100th birthday. Of course he’s been gone five years but we met in his memory. My poor aunt ordered a Happy 100th Birthday, Grandpa cake and everyone at the grocery store kept asking her how he was doing! She said it was really awkward but it was pretty funny to us. The post title is something he used to say when another driver honked at him.

I neglected to take any pictures until right before I left. Maddux is staying with Lucy while the kitchen at his house is being remodeled.

Last week we got together with KNH’s family for a comparison of two turkey substitutes. Here we have a Celebration Roast (lower left side of plate), a Quorn Turk’y Roast (center), and our yummy side dishes. The Celebration Roast is more of a hearty grain-based meal that isn’t supposed to approximate meat taste specifically but still have good texture and flavor, while the Quorn version was very meatlike but dry. We decided gravy would have been a good addition but it was a school night and we just didn’t have much time to cook. We did manage to drink a lot of wine, however.

And we had PIE! The whipped topping being the most important part.

The domain, or, why I hate Earthlink today

I began using a primary email address through a domain called skyenet many years ago, which I think sprang out of Michiana FreeNet (which is no more, and also wasn’t exactly free). After a few years skyenet’s domain was sold to another domain, myVine, which had crappy service, but I maintained it because many people knew that original email address. It was a hassle to get things to work since I had a different domain than most of the rest of their customers, but I became a relative expert at setting up email clients as a result. (Just try not using a Microsoft product and finding help on a tech support page.) Eventually I stopped using myVine’s dialup service and graduated to a real connection through another party, but I was able to maintain the skyenet email address for all these years for five bucks a month through myVine.

Well, around the beginning of October, I got what I thought was junk mail from Earthlink that said “Welcome to Earthlink!” on the glossy envelope. For some reason I opened it, but I thought it was yet another sales pitch with free setup CD to use their ISP (I don’t appreciate junk mail, nor free CDs, because if I wanted your service I’d sign up ONLINE.) No, it was a letter saying my new email account had been set up with them and congratulations! Apparently they bought myVine as well, so now I’m buried under yet another layer of domain sales and complication.

What drives me bonkers is that neither myVine nor Earthlink bothered to send me an email (or I guess myVine could have sent postal mail; at least I knew I was their customer) to announce this transfer of accounts. Then the myVine website disappeared, and my web email portal was also gone, so I couldn’t get email that way. My email client at home was still successfully downloading messages for awhile after that but eventually couldn’t connect to the server. Had I not opened that junk-looking mail, I’d have no idea that my domain was sold and that they didn’t just go out of business and take my money–I had a year of service paid in advance. At least I was able to get my email working again after some tech chat time, but I did lose all the mail that had been on that myVine/skyenet server (despite being assured by Earthlink it would all be there).

I believe Google is going to save the world, and I do have a gmail account now which is handling my other main email address, which is associated with my website, blog, etc. Meanwhile I had accounts for rabbit rescue forwarding to skyenet and accounts for the blog forwarding to gmail. But due to something stupid about the way our sbcglobal DSL works, I have to use just the blog server outgoing mail server, so any mail sent from home (even from skyenet when it worked) looked like it was coming from the other email account, so people hit reply and I couldn’t find their responses. And spam controls on each domain added to the hidden email messes. So, I figured I just needed to make everything go to gmail somehow and I’d be fine forever. Right? I was fine with ending my relationship with this skyenet email address since it would never get better. Just rip off the BandAid.

The problem has been extricating myself from the probably hundreds of online accounts I’ve created over the ten-plus years with the skyenet mailing address. I don’t remember them all. XM? Credit cards? School loans? Banking? Insurance? Gobs of message boards, from bunnies to bikes to diesel Volkswagens? Tons of online retailers? Surveys, blog comments, legal advice, online newspapers, photo accounts, magazine subscriptions, class reunions and alumni sites, tax prep sites, government accounts? I’ll never remember nor find them all. In the meantime I have moved and so anyone who really needed to contact me would no longer have a phone number that worked either. More recent accounts have been updated, but I’m sure there’s some old contact info in various places I’ve forgotten that might actually be important.

This sounds like a good business opportunity: pay someone to update your contact info EVERYWHERE.

I have been updating to my new, more reliable email one by one as I notice the old references, and I had planned to maintain the skyenet address long enough to catch stragglers (I was thinking a year!). But suddenly this week, after two months of it working fine in an Earthlink webmail portal: no incoming skyenet email! What a shocker.

So today I’ve been off work and I chatted with two tech support people online, who could not help me but gave me a bad phone number to call. Then I found the letter Earthlink sent when they took on my poor domain and called the phone number on that. The recording said it was help for former myVine customers! Sounded promising, but after transferring through three more tech support people on the phone, I was put on hold while they contacted a supervisor and a few minutes later the phone disconnected. (Note: using a landline; it disconnected from THEIR end.) I called back and they had no way to get me back to the last person, so I started again, put on hold again so they could consult supervisor, lovely hold music (Brandenburg concerto–I played that in middle school!) for a long time and then the hold music ended. Fifteen minutes later while I was still “connected” but had no life or sound on the line, I hung up. Note that Earthlink does indeed own the skyenet.net domain until mid-2010, but everyone I talked to said there was no record of that domain on my account nor on their lists of acquired domains. One person said I was supposed to just use Earthlink addresses now. HELLO, the point of this was to maintain the original domain to receive email, which this letter from Earthlink clearly states I will be able to do. If they were going to abandon an acquired domain, some notice would have given me an opportunity to do my switching faster.

I do still receive email at the Earthlink-named domain version of my not-requested new email provider (in the same webmail sessions where the old skyenet emails still appear). What do I get? Invoices! Earthlink is great at debiting my old myVine credit every month for the privilege of not getting my email.

I really think no one can figure out what’s going on because they’re just phone answerers, not anyone actually running servers and dealing with domain names. It’s just incredibly frustrating to have no where to turn and no one who can identify, let alone fix, the problem. At this point the diminishing returns are prompting me to just attempt a refund and forget the whole thing.

Total wasted time today: about three hours. Thanks to all the times on hold and a cordless phone, I did have time to take a crap, play with the dogs, buy stuff on eBay, get a package from FedEx, print a card, eat pie, read message boards, and think about what I really should be doing today.

Good thing Earthlink sent me a survey about my experience.

CEL

I own two cars. One is very fuel efficient and I use it all the time. It’s about 3.5 years old. The dash looks like this.

My other car is a ten-year-old SUV. I bought it used when I adopted Casper so I’d have room to haul her around (and the bunnies). Later when I had a long commute I got a second vehicle with good mileage and the Jeep is just used to haul stuff (like hay!). The dash looks like this.

Yes, that’s right, as of this week BOTH of my cars have check engine lights blazing. The newer car has a glow plug (or several) out but due to some ridiculousness on the part of the manufacturer, the repair would be upwards of $400-700 at the dealer. I found someone who can fix it for much cheaper this weekend, but the manufacturer issue is so new that most independent places are unable to help. At least it can be driven in the meantime–until it doesn’t start one of these days.

The Jeep is in limp mode and just doesn’t shift well. It can’t be driven except to take it to the mechanic. The output speed sensor is supposedly the culprit, which isn’t supposed to be a difficult repair, but our local guy isn’t sure he can fix it so I may have to find a transmission guy, and the nearest recommended one is a half hour away. I should know more tomorrow. Oh, and the Jeep doesn’t want to start very well either but if you disconnect (i.e., replace) the battery while this particular transmission code is active you cause all sorts of extra problems.

Meanwhile David’s truck suddenly went lame and our three-cars-for-two-people plan wasn’t working so well. I didn’t really want to ride my bike to work since the temperatures have been in the 20s. So far so good on having a car working, and David’s truck was fixed today. I hope I don’t go broke fixing the rest of the stable.

On the plus side I have a couple of days off and I took a great nap today. That makes everything better, even if I’m stranded at home!