Monday, June 29, 2009

Vonage Sucks

Approximately four years ago, I enlisted the services of Vonage for my home phone. Since cell phone charges to my family in Canada are ridiculous, having a relatively low-cost solution for a home phone made perfect fiscal sense. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. Until we moved into our house.

Between Danny, the kids and I, we have four desktop computers, a Netbook, my iPhone, Danny's iPod Touch, and a Playstation 3 -- all hooked up to our home network. And at the time, our Internet access was via AT&T DSL. Eventually we started noticing a pattern: Anytime someone was on the Internet, downloading any kind of data, the voice quality went straight to the toilet.

I tried moving the Vonage device 4 feet away from the cordless phones, and configuring my router to tag the voice packets as high-priority. I even replaced the flaky router with better hardware. Still, there was no improvement. So we took the plunge and switched to Comcast Cable's phone, Internet and TV package.

I called Vonage to cancel the service, and ended up speaking to a very... brash lady on the phone. This woman kept repeatedly harassing me about the reasons for my disconnection, which I answered curtly with "I am not interested in fixing the technical issues, please cancel my service." She was a true bonehead, and obviously wasn't listening to a word of what I was saying.

Still this woman persisted, and she absolutely would not let me get off the phone until I agreed to a free month. I told her again and again that we had already migrated off the Vonage solution, that we were using Comcast, and that we had no intention of using Vonage anymore. Still, she persisted, so I agreed just to get her to process my cancellation.

Until two weeks ago, when I received notice of last month's charges.

What The Hell !?!

As it turns out, the bitchy woman on the phone had kept my account open, instead of cancelling it like I had repeatedly asked her to -- and lo and behold, they had started charging me again when their so-called "free month" had expired.

You have GOT to be kidding me.

I called Customer Service again, only to get another bitchy lady who kept asking question after question about the technical issues. Finally, I lost my patience, and yelled at her very strongly to just cancel my goddamned service ! What part of "CANCEL MY SERVICE" don't these idiots understand ? And to top it all off, she "could not" process a refund for the amount that they had charged me, and "could not" transfer me to the billing department to take care of that.

I hung up on her.

Luckily the next person I got in billing was able to process the credit just fine.

And the kicker ?

The idiots had the fucking nerve to call me last week, telling me about these "wonderful new promotions" that they had in effect.

I told that guy to never, ever call me again, and hung up on him, too.

Word to the wise: DO NOT USE VONAGE. They are liars, theives and harassing abusers who don't give a damn about their customers. They only care about making a buck.

They got the last buck out of me. And now I'm telling everyone I know to stay away from them at all cost.

Use Comcast instead. We've had it now for several weeks, and it works just beautifully.

To hell with Vonage. Comcast rocks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Free the Children

I have not, and will not, shed any tears for the untimely passing of Michael Jackson.

In my mind, a child molester has died, and as a result, he cannot ruin any more kids' lives with his perversions. Nor can he screw up his own kids' lives further by forcing them not to show their faces in public.

No matter how good his music was, he still was a molester.

And he did the world a favor by leaving it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lessons Learned from Jon & Kate

It was all over the news this morning that Jon & Kate, the parents of twins and sextuplets, and subject of the reality series "Jon & Kate Plus 8", are divorcing. Not really a big surprise there, although I feel terrible for the kids. Just an observation from this saga, and from my own life and the lives of those around me:

Criticizing, nagging, berating and undermining your spouse is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to erode away any love that that person may feel for you.

I've seen this phenomenon with people around me throughout my life, and the common theme was how one treated the other. Sometimes the aggressor was the man, sometimes it was the woman, but the outcome was the same.

How can you feel loving towards someone who yells at you all the time ? How can you feel affection towards someone that puts you down, berates you, undermines you in front of your kids, and treats you like a second-class citizen ? In all cases that I have seen, the person who is the recipient of this treatment withdraws, to avoid more criticism and anger. And the end result is the same: The love, affection and intimacy dies a slow and painful death.

And while I do not condone cheating in any way, shape or form, I do not blame Jon for withdrawing from the person who was supposed to love him, but treated him like someone would kick a dog. I wish these two had wised up and gone to marital counseling before it came to this, but now, I think it's too late.

I feel really, really sad for those children. They are the innocent victims in all of this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Highway Robbery

For the past several months, the glove box on my car has been giving us some trouble.

It has only been opening when it felt like it, which made it quite difficult to access the iPod cable located inside. Through much fiddling some time ago, Daniel was able to figure out a nifty way to open it, by pressing his left thumb against the left side of the handle, and pulling on the right side of the handle with his fingers. Still, I wanted to take it in to determine if there was an inexpensive way to fix the annoyance once and for all.

I went to the BMW dealership, as I figured they would have stock of any parts that would be needed. Normally, I take my car to a local performance shop for all its work, but I wanted a quick and easy fix to this issue. The dealer seemed like the logical choice.

Boy, was I wrong.

In the hour and a half that I spent at the dealership, they did a full inspection of my car, and even washed and vacuumed it. That, in itself, was greatly appreciated, along with the strong coffee and availability of wireless Internet. What I did not expect was their estimation of the cost to fix my glove box.


That's right. $430 to fix a glove box, over $200 of which was parts.

They also quoted me several thousand dollars for some other repairs that I know needed to be done. I declined, because I can have those done much cheaper at my regular shop.

I thanked them profusely for their time, and left, shaking my head in disbelief. I simply could not believe that replacing something so simple as a glove box would cost that much. That money is better suited to my bank account than with the dealership, thank you.

Later on that night, my trunk wouldn't open. And neither would the glove box.

What the hell ?

Through much fiddling, I managed to figure out that the dealership had locked my glove box after inspecting it. The box has a cool feature (that I never use) whereby you can use your key to lock it. And when I went to inspect why it wasn't opening, I found out that it had been locked by the dealer.

Why did they lock it ? Did they expect that I would be dumb enough to think it wasn't opening at all, and then come back in for the $430 repairs ?

I unlocked the glove box, which also allowed me to open my trunk. And in fiddling with the handle on the glove box, I noticed that there was a screw loose on the left side of it.

Using my manual screwdriver from my trusty work toolkit, I tightened the screw.

And the glove box opened perfectly. Without even using the special trick.

Son of a bitch.

That dealership can suck it. Conniving thieves, all of them.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Some Honeymoon Pictures

Us at the Luau:

On an active volcano:

ATV riding by the sea cliffs:

Zip lining:

On this zipline, I am 250 feet high, and on a line 600 feet long. YIKES !! I am smiling in the picture, but am scared out of my mind. :)

And the final picture, brought to you from a nice glass-bottom coral and dolphin-watching boat cruise that we took. The entertainment of the afternoon was a Hawaiian lady who performed various traditional and non-traditional Hawaiian songs and dances. As part of her routine, she taught the audience members a simple dance to do. Knowing that this might be a trap, Danny and I chose not to participate. We were correct in our prediction.

After the instructional session, she went through the audience, picking out the most enthusiastic of particpants. She then brought them to the stage, gave them various accoutrements, and had them perform the dance for everyone's amusement.

Fun times. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some Wedding Pictures

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Ever since I was a kid, it was always customary after playing a game or sport, to shake the hands of the other team. It was a sign of respect, not only for one's opponents, but for the spirit of the game itself. Even when our team was thoroughly whipped, we always sucked up our pride, and shook hands with the other team. It was just what we did, and what we still do, playing as adults.

LeBron James didn't see fit to offer the same respect to the team who unseated his team to advance to the NBA Finals. And to that, I say, LeBron has lowered himself to the level of a spoiled rotten child who cannot handle the disappointment of defeat.

I'm sure he is used to winning. Drafted directly from high school, he was a prodigy in his own right; a ridiculously-talented player who made even seasoned professionals stand and stare in awe. He was being compared to Michael Jordan before he was legally allowed to drink alcohol. He is accustomed to winning, accustomed to being the best, accustomed to getting whatever he wants all the time.

Yet, when the Orlando Magic decisively beat his Cleveland Cavaliers to advance to the finals yesterday, he stormed off in a huff, refusing to shake hands, and refusing to talk to the media. Just up and left, while his teammates showed respect for the other team, and shared their thoughts with the journalists.


In fact, I'd go so far as to say that his display of outright contempt is an embarrassment to the NBA, and a disgrace to the Cavaliers.

The thousands of children who look up to LeBron deserve a model of sportsmanship, respect and fair play, win or lose. These are the values that all children are taught, from a very young age, in Little League, schools, and sports leagues everywhere. His refusal to show respect to the team who beat him sets a terrible example for his young fans, and casts a dark shadow on the game itself.

Being a good athlete alone does not make one a good person. And it does not make one worthy or deserving of the admiration and the devout following of America's children.

He needs to grow the hell up, and realize that he's not going to win every game, every season, every championship. And when he gets beat, he needs to suck up his pride, and show respect to the team who beat him. That's what a true sportsman does. That's what a true hero does.

LeBron has a long way to go to become that.
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