Sunday, May 22, 2016

That was a nice drink

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fucking with telemarketers

I'm on the Do Not Call list and somehow they keep coming. My favorite part is when the supervisor she transfers me to says, "You're wasting my time!"

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Amazon's famed help dept finally fails

I really like Amazon. I've been a member since 2003. (Oy, that's a long time and a lot of purchases.)

I am an Amazon Prime member. I have an Amazon Fire HD. I pay for Kindle Unlimited. I have an Amazon Echo.

I like the Amazon infrastructure.

Oh wait. What's that? Amazon Echo?

It may be the one that finally turns me off a system I really enjoyed.

I got my Echo back in December. Magical. Much more responsive to voice control than my Moto X Pure phone which uses the Google Now system.

Ok, the Echo's search and intuitive responses weren't quite as good as Google's - how could it be - but the way you could speak to it and have it respond was much better.

I got a kick out of showing guests how I could just casually say, "Alexa, what's the weather for tomorrow" without having to speak like a robot or shout, and it would respond immediately.

But mostly I used my Echo for music playbacks.

And it was never a problem until now.

It has developed a strange bug and, although it seems easily corrected, there seems to be no way to fix it, and - this is the frustrating part - apparently no way to make the people at Amazon understand what the issue is.

After seven emails to the help desk at the Echo app over the last week trying to explain the issue, I tried one more time. I got passed around to three reps this time. I especially enjoy the snark from the rep at 10:48 PT saying he didn't want to waste my "precious time."

Below is my last online chat with them. And, again, this is my eighth time trying to get help with this issue.

(Jeff Bezos, maybe take a break from the space shuttle stuff and take care of your main business?)

Conversation opened. 1 read message.

Your Chat Transcript from Amazon


1:54 AM (29 minutes ago)

to me
Amazon Your

Message From Customer Service


Here's a copy of the chat transcript you requested:
Initial Question: I have had recurring problems with the Echo and it never seems to get solved
10:19 PM PDT Ashok(Amazon): Hello, my name is Ashok. I'm here to help you today.
10:19 PM PDT Me: Hi
10:19 PM PDT Ashok: Hi James
10:20 PM PDT Ashok: I'm sorry to hear that you have a problem with the Echo
10:21 PM PDT Me: Will you be the correct dept to take care of it because it really seems to be a tech issue that no one there seems to be able to fix?
10:22 PM PDT Me: Hello?
10:22 PM PDT Ashok: I can understand your concern.
10:23 PM PDT Ashok: No worries, please hold on a minute while I check on that for you.
10:23 PM PDT Me: ok
10:27 PM PDT Me: Hi how long do your responses take? Are you still connected?
10:27 PM PDT Ashok: A member of our Amazon Echo Specialist team will need to help you with this; however, they don't have chat support and unfortunately, phone service support is also out of hours. .
10:27 PM PDT Me: Well thats why I asked if you were able to help
10:28 PM PDT Ashok: Please hold on a minute while I forward this information to our Amazon Specialist team on your behalf.
10:28 PM PDT Me: I've sent a lot of responses thru the Echo app about this issue over the last week and no one has got back to me it's very frustrating
10:30 PM PDT Me: Just so it's on the record - I have asked Echo to play the artist Mel Torme it keeps coming back and saying "here is a sample of "Melt with Me" - this just started happening. It always played Torme with no problem before either thru prime or through my Amazon library
10:30 PM PDT Ashok: Yes, I'd like to help you, please wait, let me connect your chat to our Appstore team. 
10:31 PM PDT Swetha(Amazon): Hi James!
10:31 PM PDT Me: Hi there
10:31 PM PDT Swetha: I'm Swetha from Amazon Digital Support!
Yes, I'm with you!
Hope you are doing good.
10:32 PM PDT Me: Thanks. And Hi Swetha are you able to see what the issue is?
10:32 PM PDT Swetha: Yes James! Please allow me a moment while I check your previous correspondence.
10:32 PM PDT Me: Ok although i seem to get put on hold a lot with these chats but ok
10:32 PM PDT Swetha: I'm sorry about that!
10:33 PM PDT Swetha: From the issue what you have described, I understand that you are having a problem while accessing Amazon Echo app.
10:34 PM PDT Swetha: My sincere apologies.
10:35 PM PDT Swetha: Are you referring to the Order #116-4325902-7753841 placed on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 9:01 PM (PST) ?
10:36 PM PDT Me: NO! did you get any background on what the issue was? It is about Echo not responding correctly
10:37 PM PDT Swetha: Sorry about that. I understand the problem. Let me connect you to the Mp3 specialists.
10:38 PM PDT Me: not MP3 it is ECHO do you know what that is?
Amazon Echo?
Have you heard of it?
10:38 PM PDT Amit(Amazon): Hello my name is Amit. I am a part of Amazon Mp3 support team. I'll certainly try to help regarding your concern.
10:39 PM PDT Me: Why?
It is not an MP3 problem it is Echo is anyone there on the ball?
10:40 PM PDT Amit(Amazon): I'm sorry we were disconnected. I can pick up where we left off.
10:41 PM PDT Amit: James, Echo is also a part of Amazon music.
10:41 PM PDT Me: hey thats good will you actually realize what the problem is or this a joke for Amazon?
10:42 PM PDT Amit: May I know the problems you are getting with your Echo Device?
10:42 PM PDT Me: Ok I have explained it about 8 times I guess i have to try again?
10:45 PM PDT Me: I am asking Echo to play the artist Mel Torme. This was never a problem until last week it now says "Here is a sample of Melt With me" a song I have never heard of and have no interest in. I have Torme in my library and he is on Prime music I am enunciating normally
It keeps playing a sample of this song instead of Mel Torme
10:45 PM PDT Amit: James, I don't want to misguide you but Echo troubleshooting team is available on call only. You can reach Echo Customer Support by phone directly and toll-free at 1-877-375-9365 or by e-mail at They're available from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m Pacific time, seven days a week. If you need to troubleshoot your Echo device, we recommend that you contact Echo Customer Support by phone. When you contact them, please make sure you have the device and any accessories that came with your device with you.
10:46 PM PDT Amit: You can also contact them directly from the Alexa app on your compatible phone, tablet, or desktop browser. From the app, open the left navigation panel, and then select "Help." You'll see options for emailing or calling us. If you choose to call Alexa Customer Support through the app, this allows them to have your account information ready when they call you. To learn how to download the Alexa app, go to:
10:46 PM PDT Me: Ok. Thats what I asked when the original rep came on and they kept saying sure its MP3
And you said that too I clearly said its a problem with Echo
10:47 PM PDT Me: what is going on there?
10:47 PM PDT Amit: James, its a part of mp3 but really we do not have necessary tools to troubleshoot the echo issues.
10:48 PM PDT Me: It's NOT mp3 is an Echo problem
10:48 PM PDT Amit: So I request you to please contact the Echo Team directly on call.
I do not want to waste your precious time.
10:49 PM PDT Me: Ok I responded to an email asking if I needed any help and you and your colleagues came on you are clearly useless on this. Amazon really has to get its act together
10:49 PM PDT Amit: I've passed your feedback to the Amazon technical team for consideration as we make future improvements. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers.
Thank you.
This email was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reality? We don't need no stinkin' reality

As we have seen in issues ranging from climate change to evolution, Republicans do not let reality interfere with their chosen political message.

Even with that Texas Grand Jury refusing to indict Planned Parenthood and instead indicting the perpetrators of the video "sting," even after countless Republican-led Congressional and state investigations of PP finding no wrong-doing by the organization, the GOP candidates running for president continue to lie - there is no other word for it - about PP "harvesting" and "selling body parts."

They will not admit their horror stories are wrong. They will not admit PP is legally providing fetal tissue for much needed research and charging small fees to cover their expenses.

Reality does not matter to these people.

At the next GOP debate, Carly Fiorina should be asked why she continues to lie through her teeth about the "gruesome" Planned Parenthood videos she supposedly saw. Videos that DO. NOT. EXIST.

Sadly, I doubt she will be asked.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The differences in the guest list

If you ever want to see an example of the stark difference between the two political parties, sometimes you can find it in little things: just look at some of the guests invited to President Obama's State of the Union address last night.

The Democrats invited a Syrian refugee who has been taken in by the U.S. as he fled the carnage in his homeland. The Republicans invited Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who tried to stigmatize gay couples and treat them as second class citizens when they sought a marriage license in her county.

One represents kindness and mercy. One hate and bigotry.

And not just hate and bigotry, but proudly willing to announce it to a national tv audience.

Friday, January 08, 2016

What the ACTUAL fuck that Kars 4 Kids commercial selling?

And please stop it from coming onto my TV.

The song and those brats make me lunge for the remote almost as fast as I do with the PSA for those poor dogs and that mournful Sarah McLachlan song behind it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Um, what? A Lifetime movie with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig?

A mere month and a half after I confessed my guilty pleasure habit of watching cheesy Lifetime Movies, comes news that two of the biggest names in comedy, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, are starring in what looks to be a prototypical and delicious Lifetime movie, A Deadly Adoption.

I assume they have the same love for the genre as do I and probably hundreds - if not thousands - of others.

Does Barbara Niven have a part in it?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The art of the Lifetime movie

God help me, I love a good cheesy Lifetime movie.

Although after you watch a couple, you wonder why women don't stay cowering in their homes at all time avoiding men, because in the Lifetime universe woman are constantly being stalked and kidnapped and attacked and held prisoner.

By their con artist new boyfriends.

By their ex-boyfriends.

By their new husbands with a secret past.

By their seemingly loving husband's mistress.

By their bosses.

And - this is a particular Lifetime favorite - by their creepy neighbor. The kind who inexplicably can easily gain access to their home and plant video cameras to spy on them before kidnapping them.

I can barely change the battery in my smoke detector without falling off the chair, but these guys just calmly waltz into the suburban split level next door, set up a few hidden cameras, and bide their time. Then they kidnap the woman and hold her prisoner in their specially-constructed basement jail.

The acting is not exactly Emmy material, the plots are hilariously unlikely (although many are supposedly based on true stories), and they all seem to be taped (never filmed) in the same sterile Canadian suburb substituting for a sterile U.S. suburb.

I just saw a classic in the creepy neighbor/kidnapping genre, "Kept Woman." The Lifetime description tells you all you need to know: "Jessica and her fiancĂ© Evan just moved from the city into their dream home on a quiet suburban street. Soon after, Jessica catches her seemingly friendly new neighbor, Simon, in a strange lie and can't let her suspicions rest. The danger escalates when Simon lures her inside his home and imprisons Jessica in his secret bunker, meticulously decorated in the idealized style of the 1950's. Here she meets Robin, a woman who's been held captive by Simon for several years and brainwashed into living as his faithful companion - a fate that is now set for Jessica unless she can somehow find a way to escape from Simon’s time-warped prison. Inspired by true events."

This had it all. Stalking, kidnapping, a basement bunker - right next door to the house where her fiance still lived!!!! - as well as a brainwashed fellow captive. It's really worth checking out if you like these things.

It has the added bonus of featuring an enormously obese fellow who is some sort of computer whiz and who helps Evan eventually track down and rescue Jessica. He's like a tubby Chloe O'Brian. 

 These movies rarely have anyone famous in them. The unfortunate Jessica was played by Courtney Ford, who I've seen in a few things but couldn't have told you her name until I IMDb'd it. She is, however, married to Brandon "Superman" Routh, so there is that.

Also, someone named Barbara Niven is in approximately 83 percent of Lifetime movies.


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Wasilla Hillbillies

The Anchorage police finally released their report on that drunken party brawl that the Palin family was involved in a few weeks ago, and let's just say we dodged a major bullet when this family of snowbillies didn't get to come anywhere near the White House. Or 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, as Sarah would say.

In the report, one of Sarah and Todd's delightful and very classy daughters, Willow, is quoted as saying people at the party were chanting "Fuck the Palins!" She misunderstood. Fuck the Palins is the motto of the Wasilla High School football team. The crowd was just showing school spirit.


Anchorage PD report on Palin drunken brawl

Oh, and thanks again, John McCain, for wanting this woman to be an old man's heartbeat away from the presidency.

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