Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Christmas Day Hit Job

Once upon a time, I used to pronounce UPS as "Oops!". They would knock on your door, then leave one of those delivery notices almost immediately so you wouldn't have a chance to meet them before they drove off. Or if you were (un)lucky enough, they would toss your package onto your balcony, contents be damned. Oops.

To be fair, UPS has really cleaned up its act over the past few years. You can now sign up for UPS My Choice for free and digitally give them a shipping release to leave your packages at your front door so you no longer have to visit their regional center at 8pm to pick them up. Through that service, they also send you email alerts to let you know a package is on its way. From my experience with UPS My Choice, they have never lied about when a package was going to be delivered. And this holiday season I used them a lot. They even delivered my new work computer in two business days just before Christmas -- as promised.

The same can be said about FedEx. They were a frequent visitor to my lair during the past month, and only once did I have a package delivered late. Even then, it was only one day late and it was attributed to the weather delays both companies experienced about two to three weeks ago. So you can imagine how upset I was when I read this poor excuse for journalism hit piece on both companies on

Both companies are The Grinch? They are to blame for customers not having a Christmas? Bullshit.

Common sense tells (most of) us that buying last minute gifts via the Internet is a tricky proposition. In order to receive those gifts on time, a lot has to go right. The retailer has to pack and ship the order in a timely manner. The carrier has to pick the merchandise up and deliver during said deadline. The weather also has to cooperate, which rarely happens. The buyer also has to input the correct address and payment information into their computer. Any deviation in that chain of events will cause deliveries to be late.

Maybe Tony Dokoupil and MSNBC should put the blame where it really belongs: consumers and the companies that enabled them to buy at the last minute and overstress these carriers beyond their capacities to service customers?

To read comments written by people who put so much value into the consumerism part of Christmas makes me sad. Christmas should be a time to reflect on what you're thankful for, not what you don't have. If you have a warm home, food on the table and reliable transportation, be thankful you have the basic necessities. There's a lot of people out there who rely on food banks, Section 8 housing, WIC and/or public transportation to get by, and that number is not diminishing. Nor do they care if their precious new tablet/laptop is under the tree on Christmas morning.

This was a great Christmas for me, and I'm grateful since there have been others in recent years that didn't go as well. The holiday season when I had to spend my last $120 to euthanize a beloved pet still haunts me. Then there was the one when I wasn't sure where I was going to live after January 1st, and I had to ask my father for a loan to pay rent -- a loan that I wasn't 100% sure I could pay back as promised. There was one Christmas where I was wrongfully terminated from a job three days prior, and then another one where I didn't get to spend Christmas with anyone. And I'll always remember the holiday season when my mother was in the final stages of terminal cancer and was taken by ambulance to a hospice center on New Year's Eve.

These are some of the reasons why I have no sympathy for those individuals who ordered their gifts online at the last minute and then bitch that the CEO of UPS is getting paid $9 million a year to run the company and had the audacity to let his employees have Christmas off. When you put consumerism and your selfish interests over the true meaning of Christmas, you cease being a Christian in my eyes.

Who cares if a package gets delivered a day or two after Christmas? Whatever happened to "It's the thought that counts"? Or forgiveness?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Imagine That: There Is Greed In Major Cities

Perhaps most interesting is the map on greed, which compares average incomes with the number of people living below the poverty line.

If you are in a red area, then you are in an area that submits to this "sin". If you are in blue, well, greed doesn't appear to be in the water.

For the rest of the maps of the 7 deadly sins, here is where you can see them:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela & Americanized Apartheid

We all knew this day was coming, and Heaven (if you believe in one) welcomed another angel today when Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 95 years old. Tonight I'm going to do something different. Instead of telling you how great he was like everyone else, I'll give you a few thoughts about him that no one else is saying. 

There are people out there who say he was a Marxist. They will also tell you he was a terrorist. While all of this is technically true, I don't hold it against him one bit. 

Mandela protested against white supremacist policies for what seems like his entire adult life. At first he fought apartheid non-violently, and when those protests didn't work (read about the Sharpeville Massacre) he fought back in a way that I can appreciate. MK, an abbreviation for a name that translates to "Spear of the Nation", was formed to be the armed wing of the African National Congress, and they lauched guerilla attacks on government installations one year later. From that point forward, the fight against apartheid was on.

I completely understand if what Mandela did makes him a Communist and a terrorist in some people's eyes. But he fought an injustice that was in some ways nearly as horrible as what the Nazis did to Jews, gays, and anyone else they saw as less than them. Apartheid wasn't just about racism. It was some seriously fucked up shit you should take a few minutes to read about to understand why Nelson Mandela and his fight against it is such a big deal.

I live by the rule, "By any means necessary". Even if you don't agree with my methods, at least appreciate the end result. That is why I do not blame Mandela one bit for what he did or how he did it. Get the job done. That is all that matters.

If someone stripped me of my citizenship, attempted to move me from my homeland, and force me to carry ID to venture into white-owned land, I'd be fighting mad. Whoops! I forgot that has already happend to me and my family members.

Consider the following:

  • I have to carry my birth certificate with me if I ever visit Arizona.
  • Some of my ancestors live on the Mexican side of the border due to Mexican Repatriation that occurred in Texas just before World War II. Legally, they could be American citizens and have every right to be here just like noted anchor babies Michelle Malkin and Mitt Romney.

So when I see people on the right calling Nelson Mandela a Communist and a terrorist tonight, I have every right to call them the American version of the Nationalists because deep down they are no different than the white minority that made living in South Africa a living hell for people of color for half a century.

That is why we have to continue that fight here in America. It is the right thing to do.

Where's My Violin So I Can Play You Your Song?

Let me get this bi. You're Generation Y, or as they say, a Millenial. You're saying it's a bad time to enter the work force. Yet if you're a decade younger than me, you make about $15,000 more than I do on average. You're still whining, Adam Weinstein?

I know what it's like to have student debt. I still have some left. Thankfully it will be gone sometime next year.

I know what it's like to be underemployed. I could probably be better off elsewhere, but when you reach a certain age employers don't want to hire you. But to be fair, my current employer does give me certain non-monetary benefits I will not get elsewhere so I'm quite pleased with my current arrangement.

I've never owned a house. I know what it's like to be a lifelong renter. But it's by choice. I wasn't stupid enough a decade ago to take out two mortgages on a $600,000 ranch style home that's only 400 square feet bigger than my apartment. And probably needs extensive renovations due to it's age.

I have news for you, Adam Weinstein. I used to be in line on that graph for Generation X up until George W. Bush took office. I now have to get by with much less. A lot of us out here do. And yet we find a way to live our lives.

You're not a home owner? Go live in a more affordable place. That's not me telling you that. That's the real estate market speaking. Not everyone can live in Manhattan. Or by the coast in Southern California. Find a place that's within your budget and then take out that thirty-year mortgage to pay for it.

Can't go on vacation anywhere? Stay home. Take road trips and discover places nearby you've never been to before. Learn to do more with less.

Can't afford an iAnything? Find something else that does the job -- and possibly does the job better. Apple sells ideas more than they sell great products. That's why companies like Samsung, Sony, LG and others not only exist but still have substantial market share.

Can't pay your debts? A lot of people can't. Read the fine print in those cardmemeber agreements and use that to your advantage. Having bad credit or getting sued by a debt collector isn't the end of the world. It's just another battle to fight, and possibly win.

Can't save for retirement? Not everyone is going to follow the green path depicted in the Fidelity Investments commercials. Not everyone is going to eat cat food in their golden years, either. Most likely, you'll be somewhere in the middle.

Does life suck? Yes it does. Maybe in the future things will change but this is the world we exist in now. There are a lot of crappy things going on in it. New jobs pay less. The cost of living keeps rising. There are fewer job openings than there are qualified people to fill them. There are a lot less people covered by health insurance, have enough money to buy food and clothing, or can afford reliable transportation. Even those who can afford a place to live now rely on food banks because the cost of produce is a lot higher than processed food.

But I don't make the rules. I find a way to survive despite them. You have to take that low-paying job? So what? I had to take a low-paying job with long hours myself when I graduated from college. Then I found a better one once I not only earned experience but proved myself. And I repeated the same cycle when necessary, sometimes leaving a company to join another. Moving up sometimes means moving on. And even if the industry you're in crumbles, you start over elsewhere.

My advice? Be a survivor, not an Adam Weinstein. Whining doesn't solve problems. Learn the difference between a need and a want. Make the most of what you have. If you have to spend money, learn how to shop. It doesn't matter how much money you make. It's smart to do these things regardless of your income level. If life gives you an obstacle, find a way to overcome it.

And if you're still whining about things and you make more than I do? Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.