Hey Windows Phone Series 7 users, when you get your phones at Christmas, copy and paste this: “EPIC FAIL!” Oh, wait, you won’t be able to!

Seriously? Windows Phone Series 7 will not have cut, copy and paste? You idiots!

OK, it was bad enough that every time I saw the user interface on Microsoft’s new operating system for phones it literally made me want to throw up. (I don’t know why. It had something to do with how the virtual screen was larger than the monitor.) Now, the latest news from Redmond is that Windows Phone Series 7 phones will not have the absolutely BASIC function of copy and paste! Do the engineers at Microsoft just totally block all Apple news from passing through their firewalls? Where were they three years ago when everyone, techies and noobs, were screaming about the lack of copy and paste in the iPhone? Eh, stupid.

Four horrible pairs of shoes from Payless Shoesource

Horrible shoes from Payless ShoesourceI admit that I’m not much of a shoe aficionado. I normally buy whatever dress shoe style that Target is carrying these days, and years ago, before we had a Target in our neighborhood, I would just grab whatever Wal-Mart had in stock. Just before Christmas, my wife and I decided to buy a couple new dress shoes for me and a couple of dressy casual shoes for her. We checked out Target first, but decided to visit Payless Shoesource since they were right next door and there were HUGE BOGO signs out front. I was surprised when I found two pairs of shoes that were very similar to the ones that I had picked out at Target, but they looked nicer, and they were cheaper! I decided to get a black pair of traditional oxford style dress shoes and a black pair of square toed oxford dress shoes. My wife decided to get a pair of sequined black loafers and a pair of black ballet flats. For the first few weeks, they were great. The shoes were comfortable and solid.

Picture of the worn out sole on the bottom of the right shoe from Payless.However, shortly after Christmas, (only 5 weeks after buying them) I noticed that the square toed shoes had a bubble on the right toe. The material had started separating. I felt dumb because when I examined them closely I realized that they were not leather. They were made of artificial materials. I looked at the Oxfords and the same was true, more pleather. Admittedly, this was my own fault for buying fake leather, but I was still ticked off. They even smelled like real leather.

Next, I noticed that the Oxfords were feeling strange as I walked. They felt as if I was falling to the left and the ball of my feet felt like they were in a depression, kind of like when you step on a crack on the sidewalk. I examined the bottom of my shoes and found that the soles had worn out and were deeply cracked. I looked at the back of the left shoe and the sole was separated from the upper.

Again, I am not a shoe aficionado, but the cheap shoes that I picked up from the discount department stores usually lasted at least a year before I would start to have problems like this. These shoes basically falling apart in under 60 days is just completely unacceptable. In all fairness to Payless they do have a decent return policy, and if I could find my blasted receipt, I would be taking them back to the store. However, I am like most people, and I have no idea where it would be, if I even still have it.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, my wife’s shoes also fell apart.

So, will I be shopping at Payless again? Probably not. If I do, I will make sure to get the receipt and I will laminate it and frame it.

Sprint Web Chat just rocked my socks!

So, I normally don’t talk about customer service unless it stinks, but I just got off a web chat with Sprint and they rocked. Long story short, we accidentally had two phone plans on our account instead of one, and we didn’t realize it until this month. So, I got on the chat with a Bruce K. who got me straightened out in less than 45 minutes. I was ready to lay the smack down and fight to get a credit of the overcharge, but all I had to do was explain the situation. He was completely professional about it, and took care of it lickety-split. If you happen to be reading this Bruce K, Thanks again! – Ray Hollister

You really should RSVP, whether you like it or not.

I belong to more social networks (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, Ning, etc.) than I could possibly name off the top of my head. I have so many social network profiles that I have to keep a database on my computer and phone that stores all of my usernames and passwords. Because of this, I receive dozens of invitations a week to all kinds of events: everything from wine tastings, political candidate fundraisers, and formal banquets to church small groups, birthday parties, and rock concerts in abandoned warehouses. However, I am somewhat of a homebody, so I usually just ignore them or delete them from my inbox. It feels so negative to click the “No, I will NOT be attending” box. It feels like I am saying to that person that they are not worth my time to attend “your little function”. It is much more comfortable to ignore it and be noncommittal.

I never really paid any attention to them until my wife was planning an event a while back. She sent out invitations in the old-fashioned postal mail, and found that no one was RSVPing whether they were coming or not. My response to her was, “Well, if they aren’t RSVPing, isn’t it safe to assume that they are not coming?” Duly ignoring my sage advice, she decided that she would try calling them. Of course, in our world where everyone has a cell phone in their pocket or purse and can be contacted in seconds, she talked to more voice mail boxes than she talked to humans. Then, she decided to email everyone. Her language in the email was a little firmer than in the invitation. She told them to please let her know if you are coming, or if you do not plan on coming so that we can plan accordingly. Within 12 hours, everyone (except one person, and you know who you are!) that had been sent an initiation had responded back with a yea or nay.

My wife’s dilemma made me think. I have had several events that I have planned where few people responded to an RSVP, but then many came. So, I decided to do a little research into how RSVPs are supposed to be handled. It turns out, you are supposed to respond regardless of whether you plan on attending or not. In circles where etiquette is still acknowledged, it is actually much ruder to not respond at all than it is to say that you will attend and then not show up! It is assumed that if you said you would come and then do not show up then you must have had a last minute change. If you do not respond at all, it leaves a big question mark on the event host’s plans because they don’t know if you are coming or not.

It seems to me like a lot of people in my generation do not realize what RSVP means. I think that we collectively thought that RSVP meant “Let me know if you are definitely coming.” Therefore, since we are all noncommittal and lazy, we avoid the question. RSVP actually stands for a French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît” which loosely means, “Please respond.” We really should respond and let the host know if we plan on coming, or if we do not want to, or cannot attend.

So, now what do we do? Do we allow our generation to change the connotation of the term, or do we try to bring about cultural change and get everyone to comply with the true definition? I believe we may have to do both. What I’ve decided to do is be firmer with my invitations. I’m not sure how I’m going to implement that plan, but I might tell people that if they don’t RSVP they cannot come, (I’ll hire my step Dad to work as a bouncer) but also let them know that if they RSVP that they are coming and then end up not making it, I will forgive them.

What do you think? How do you handle RSVPs?

Shame on the the "Shoes Under" It's the classic bait and switch.

I’ve been looking forward to getting the Shoes Under since I saw them on TV. If you haven’t seen the commercials, Shoes Under is a space saving shoe organizer. On the commercial you see a nice canvas covered boxes with a zipper see through cover. In the commercial, the box has stiff inner walls that separate the unit into 12 compartments. This looked perfect for us, especially since we will be moving soon.

We picked up one at Target today, and we were more than disappointed in the product. The Shoes Under is a cheap canvas square bag. On the box, the product looks as firm as luggage, in real life it looks somebody stitched up a few reusable grocery bags from Publix.

The Real Shoes Under

My size 11 dress shoes barely fit into it, one at a time. At that rate I could only get 6 shoes into it. Also, when you do put your shoes into the Shoes Under, the inner walls are so cheap and flimsy, that they collapse over the top of your shoes, making the “zipper see through cover” really pointless.

In my opinion this is the classic bait and switch. On the box and on their website it looks like a firm and strong quality product. In real life, it looks like a grocery bag.

Here’s some pictures from their website:

Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website. Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website.
Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website. Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website.

Riverside Park wasn't looking very "green" the weekend before Earth day.

The Sign at the front of Riverside Park

Ironically, the pond was very green from algae, but it goes without being said that I’m not referring to the color but the concept of being green.

Last Saturday, my wife hosted my 3 year old daughter’s birthday party at Riverside Park at the corner of Park and Post Street. The party was a blast, but everyone noticed the poor condition of the duck pond.

As I mentioned before, the algae was so thick that the pond looked like pea soup. There was trash all over the pond; the ducks and turtles were swimming around with trash and litter on them. There was even police barricade tape in the pond. The park itself didn’t look too bad, but the pond looked like a disaster area.

Trash and Police TapeThis is a city park, so I am assuming that it is the city’s responsibility to clean it and maintain it. It would not be abnormal for someone to automatically blame the city for it looking terrible, but with the cutbacks that they have had to make due to the economy, I find it hard for me to point fingers. Here’s what I want to know: is this because the city is falling down on the job, or are they doing the best they can with the resources that they have? If the second is true, can volunteers help with the maintenance and help pick up the slack? If volunteers can help with the  maintenance, is there already a group organized? If not, what needs to be done to organize one? I know I am asking more questions than offering solutions, but at least I’m asking the questions.

Close up of Riverside Park pond, trash and turtle.

Finally, the saddest thing that I saw while we were there was in the corner of the pond farthest from the island, there was a turtle that had apparently gotten his hind legs trapped in a plastic bag. He must have struggled because the bag was stretched and torn, but it must not have been enough because when I found him he was already dead.