Restoration Hardware is less trustworthy than Walmart


rh

When a presumed reputable company like Restoration Hardware has a sale, and they say the sale will end on a specific date, most believe this to be true.  RH had a “sale” going on that “ended” on February 10, 2014.  One of the sale items was a somewhat expensive linen sheet set in various bedding sizes, and colors.  A friend of mine had received them recently and had them on her own bed, and on the bed in her guest room.  I experienced these sheets on a recent visit to her house and was amazed. They truly are a unique and awesome item if you love your bed and don’t mind spending a few bucks on it.

Because of the cost, I was hesitant, but I really wanted these sheets.  I received an email from Restoration Hardware on February 10, REMINDING me that the sale was ending on that day.

I bit the bullet and placed my order.  I didn’t want to miss out on the sale price, or possibly experience a lack of color choices.  I order the sheets.

The next day, I happened to check the RH web site and guess what?  The sale had been extended for “one more day”. They specifically stated that the sale was extended to February 11.

I sent an email to Restoration Hardware Customer Service asking what the deal was and why were they actively participating in such low-class tactics.  I expect more from them.  I didn’t use those words; I was much more diplomatic, but I was clear about how I felt.  I never received a reply.

Now it’s February 12 and guess what.  Not only is the sale STILL going on, but the wording about the sale being “extended” has been removed.  After my email, the “end date” of the sale suddenly vanished.

For those of you who hold Restoration Hardware in high regard (as I used to), let me tell you that they are no different than any other retailer.  Amazingly, even Walmart ends a sale when they say it’s going to end.  I have purchased items from Walmart for our business, at times, because they had the best price.  But their sales do end.

So if Restoration Hardware has lower standards than WalMart……….

UPDATE:  I received an email reply from Tricia Lavy in Customer Care at Restoration Hardware a short time after I wrote this posting, who said (and I quote exactly) ” Please be assured that the extension of this promotion was a last minute decision, and the promotion was extended an additional day to provide our customers with one last opportunity to take advantage of the sale. It was never our intention to make you feel misled by our recent decision to extend the promotion. ”

This was written to me TWO days after the “sale” had ended, and ONE day after the “extended” date, yet the sale continued.  Now it is February 13th.  Day three since the sale ended and TWO DAYS after the “extension”.  Guess what?  The “limited time sale” CONTINUES.  Restoration Hardware continues to mislead consumers.

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A brother’s pride and joy


the-brothers-and-the-sea-smallCredit: Artist – Jenny Armitage

One day, a man’s TV broke.  It was a nice high def TV that he had for only 6 years.  The original TV was about $1,800.  It wasn’t a top-of-the-line TV but it was very good quality.  He called the local shop where he bought it, and also called the manufacturer, both of whom said it couldn’t be fixed.  The man was upset, really upset.  This was just one more thing that had gone wrong; one more thing in a line of things that overwhelmed him.  At the time he bought this nice TV, he had the money to do so.  He no longer had resources that afforded him the luxury of buying luxury items when he wanted them.  He borrowed some money from a very good friend to buy a new TV.  Not exactly what he would have bought under different circumstances just something relatively affordable that he could afford to pay back to his friend over time.  It may seem strange to feel you need, or are entitled, to own a television.  For this man, after living a comfortable life for many years, now faced with staring at a broken TV that he couldn’t afford to replace, was a constant reminder of his failures.

At the same time, in another place, a much younger man had a brother who was recently married.  This young man didn’t have much money to buy his brother and new sister-in-law a wedding present.  He was a bit distraught and for several months was trying to figure out a way to give the newlyweds (but especially his brother) something nice; something that they could use; something they didn’t have and couldn’t afford to buy, something he could afford.  That’s a tall order to fill.  But this younger man was patient.

The older man who had the broken TV, and the younger man worked at the same company.  The older man, having back trouble, asked the younger man to help him carry his new TV up the many stairs to his apartment.  The younger man, always eager to help anyone in need, was quick to say yes, that he would be happy to help.  When the younger man brought the TV up the 39 stairs to the older man’s apartment, the younger man asked what was wrong with the broken TV.  The older man showed the younger man how the TV picture was all messed up, and told the younger man the story of the TV being irreparable.  The “experts” said that the problem was the “T-Com” board (whatever that means), and the manufacturer didn’t even sell those boards anymore, hence why it couldn’t be fixed.  The younger man mentioned that he liked to tinker with electronics and asked that if it was OK with the older man, he’d like to take the broken TV, if for no other reason than to take it apart and see how it worked.  The older man was wondering how he was going to get rid of the old TV so he was pleased that the younger man wanted to take it.

About a month later, the younger man arrived at work one day and asked to speak to the older man.  The younger man wanted to tell him about the old TV.  Surprise cast a shadow on the older man’s face.  What was he talking about?  The younger man said that he had struggled with the old TV for a while.  But, after a few attempts on Ebay he was able to find the right T-Com board for the TV.   The younger man was a very curious and tenacious person.  He liked to learn about electronics.  The first T-Com board he bid on and got on Ebay, was the wrong one.  It took him a long time to find another possible fit.  So he bid on, and won the bid for, another T-Com board.  When the younger man had first installed the second T-Com board into the TV, the picture was blinking and flashing and wavy – not viewable at all.  But after powering it off and back on a few times, the old TV came back to life and was working perfectly.  It seemed similar to adding new hardware to a PC.  You need to give the PC time to recognize the new hardware and make the proper adjustments.  The younger man then told the older man that he had a brother who was recently married.  The younger man had fretted, and worried, and was very frustrated that he didn’t have a “proper” gift for his brother.  The younger man loved and respected his older brother very much; it would be source of pride and accomplishment if he could figure out how to give his older brother a wedding present.  After fixing the old high def TV, he sneaked into his brother’s house one Sunday when he knew his brother and sister-in-law would be out.  He setup the new/old TV in his brother’s home.  His brother did not have a TV and couldn’t afford to buy one.  The younger man wrapped the remote control to the TV in a box and gave it to his brother when the brother returned home.  The younger man was so proud, and happy.  When the brother opened the box he said “what’s this” and the younger man said “go inside and look”.   The brother did and to the brother’s surprise, in his house was, to him, a brand new big flat screen TV.  The brother stared in awe, not even knowing how to thank the younger man, let alone figure out how the younger man had pulled this off.

The younger man had, against all odds, repaired the old TV given to him by the older man.  The younger man was so happy that he finally had a present for his brother.  And the younger man’s brother was happy that he received a gift that he wouldn’t have been able to afford on his own.  The brother had no idea how the younger man accomplished this.  The two brothers loved each other very much.  It was important for the younger man to have something of value to give to his somewhat older, married brother as a wedding present.

As for the older man,  at the time, buying a new TV seemed insurmountable and he was angry at the TV and the manufacturer; he was mad at himself and the world.  The older man had limited resources, but he did have a job and a way to pay back the price of the new TV he bought (thanks to a very generous friend).

But the older man was happy, too.  When the older man found out what had happened to his old TV – that is was miraculously fixed, and that it ended up in the possession of someone who could not afford such a nice TV, and given to him by a young man who wanted nothing more than to get his brother something for a wedding present, the older man’s anger over his TV situation seemed so small.  He let the anger go.  And he thanked the younger man for letting him know what had happened to his old TV.

The older man realized that sometimes, things do happen for a reason.  While the older man no longer had the resources to buy luxury items, he certainly had more options than the younger man, or the younger man’s brother.  So in perspective, the older man felt blessed.  He realized his petty wanting of material goods was all just so stupid.

The older man was me.

Epilogue:

It can be argued that nobody “needs” a television.  And I’ve heard many in the media (OK, right-wing TV and talk radio)  talk about poor people on government assistance who somehow have a flat screen TV.  Well, the bottom line, to me, is that first, you can’t buy anything other than a flat screen TV anymore.  And by flat screen I mean high-definition TV – that’s all there is.  All new TVs are high-definition flat screen, whether it’s cheap or expensive.  Have you seen a “picture tube” television in a store lately.  I doubt it.  Secondly, television is what most people use as their connection to the outside world.  Something as simple as the news, or the weather – you get that from your TV.  Even if you don’t have cable TV, you can still use a high-definition TV (known in the pedestrian world as a “flat screen”) with rabbit ears just like in the old days.  Television also provides basic entertainment regardless of whether you are rich or poor.  You can even have a TV without actual broadcast or cable stations – just a TV with a VCR or DVD player, and use that as your entertainment.

So television is an important part of people’s lives and of the American culture.  Not having one because you can’t afford one makes you feel like a failure as a human being.  Society has taught us that we are.

But, having said all of that, it’s not what this story is about.  This story is about counting your blessings.  It’s about realizing what you have, even when you might not realize you have it.  And it’s about the fact that no matter how badly you might feel or how much self-hatred you may feel over something big, or something small, there is always somebody out there with a story that is more significant than yours.  But mostly, it’s about the love between two brothers.  Brothers who don’t count their blessings in dollars, but rather in sense.  I don’t believe in something called god.  But I do believe that these two brothers have very good parents who taught them well.  I have been reminded, through this experience, about what’s important.  I hope you do, too.  I am happy that through a series of rather strange events, my old TV made its way to a happy couple, just married and starting their life together.  I picture them sitting in front of the big high-def TV at night, snuggled up, watching a movie together, enjoying each others’ company, and always thinking how cool it is that someone in their family gave them this beautiful TV.

On one final note:  I thought for a moment that I should have bought the TV back from the young man so he could buy his brother something new.  Then I realized that all the tinkering and trying, the sense of accomplishment and the laser focus on a single purpose, the joy of giving a gift that came from the heart – all of that would not have happened if I bought the TV back.  I would have robbed the younger man of his pride and of is joy.  It all worked out just as it should have.

Frank and Oak is Frankly a Joke


Update (8/23/13) – see recent post: https://noagenda.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/frank-oak-is-taking-itself-seriously-finally-offers-discount-code/

Original Post:

Frank & Oak is one of a growing number of web sites that offer “convenience shopping” also called “crate services” on the web.  These services deliver products to your door monthly.  Some call it a crate, some call it a gift box, or just a box, but the theory here is that you sign up for their “service”.  They do you the favor of hand picking items just for you.  Each month you receive package.  Sometimes it’s a surprise and sometimes you are allowed to specifically pick what you want.  Products available via one of these “crate”services range from clothing, to home goods, to cosmetics and personal care items, and even food.  They sound like a good idea until you get down into the nitty-gritty.

Make no mistake, you aren’t saving any money (although some of these web site would argue with that).  The bottom line is, as it always is – BUYER BEWARE.

Frank & Oak is an online clothing store.  You don’t have to, but if you sign up for their “Hunt Club” you will be a member of the “crate” brigade.  On the first of the month you get an email informing you that they have released the hounds.  Supposedly, you can pick between one and three items of clothing and/or accessories that they are offering for that month.  You can’t pick from what will be their entire monthly collection; they hand pick certain items to offer the Create People.   Dress shirts,  Tees, Ties, Accessories, etc.  They claim it’s all hand picked, high-quality, and made locally. For them, locally is Montreal, Canada.  Frank & Oak claims to help “twentysomethings” dress better and they claim there is NO COMMITMENT.

Here’s how it really works.  First, you are notified on the First of the month that the Club is open for members.  You log in and TRY to select a few items you might like.  The first problem is that they aren’t prepared for that many users logging in and the site crashed the first time I tried it.  When I finally got in (the NEXT DAY), everything that “looked” decent enough to try was already SOLD OUT.  So for those exclusive members who got a chance at early pickings, there was nothing available – it was all sold out.  Except for a few scraps that nobody wanted.

I finally found ONE T-Shirt that I thought I would try just to see how this works.  After I placed that order for my crate, I got an email saying that since I picked something, they wouldn’t charge my credit card (already given to them when I joined) a $45 fee.  What?!. Yes, apparently if I decided I didn’t want to try anything and didn’t tell them that I wanted to officially “Skip this month”, they would have charged my credit card $45 and credited it to my Hunt Club account.  OK so I get it.  If I don’t want the crap you’re selling, or if one or two of the quality items are sold out, I have to tell you officially that I don’t want it or I’ll get a “store credit” for something I never bought.  Got it.

Now, the shirt I ordered was sent to me with no shipping charges and I had 5 days to decided if I wanted to keep it.  I didn’t.  My god, is 50% polyester/cotton considered high quality?  You can buy that at Walmart.  This was the most cheaply made T Shirt I had ever seen in my life.  The web site doesn’t give exact specifications on most of it’s clothing in terms of the exact materials the clothing is made of.  It will say “cotton blend” or something like that.

So I immediately sent the shirt back and I was not charged for it the shirt or for return shipping.

The following month came, and the same thing happened.  I got the email saying “release the hounds” and almost everything offered for the “membership has its privileges” crowd was sold out in seconds and the site crashed.  That left scraps for the rest of us.

Let me interject here.  The way these sites attempt to make more money and increase their customer base is if you can get X amount of “friends” to join the site, you build up credits.  It took seven friends to join before I got a $15 dollar credit on my account.  I made that happen and I’ll explain more later. But since I had that $15 credit on my account, I selected a passable T-shirt from the site as part of my monthly “crate” in the second month.

Except, they changed the web site and even though you click on the email link to choose your monthly crate times, you suddenly had to then select an item or items, and decide whether it was going into your CRATE or your CART.  See what they did there??  They confused the customer base.  They changed how the system works.  And if you didn’t specifically request that the item you selected go into your CRATE, then it went into your CART and they charge your credit card for the full price of the item.  No free shipping, no 5 days to try it on and decide, you bought it baby. And all because they relied on your memory of how things used to work.

When I went to go return the crappy T-Shirt (and I mean this thing I wouldn’t let my dog sleep on) I went online to get return authorization like I did the previous month.  There was no such thing because I had bought it already.  After numerous attempts at trying to contact “Frank & Oak” by phone (which was next to impossible) I finally talked to someone who explained that they had changed the way “things work” and that the customer had the responsibility to read the fine print of the web site.  Long story short, I about had a cow.  I yelled and screamed and returned the item and removed myself from their “club” and told them to shove it.

The joke, however, is on them.  Do you know how easy it is to make up 7 fake email addresses with fake names on Yahoo, Gmail, etc.  All I had to do was keep track the accounts I made up and sign in and become a member under those name.  You don’t even have to join the Hunt Club. They just want these “people” to join the site so that Frank & Oak can bombard them with marketing emails.

But is the joke really on them, or me.  I’ve broken ties with Frank & Oak because honestly, their products are crap and their customer service is worse. If their clothing is what qualifies as “quality, low-cost fashion” we are in BIG trouble.  I now have a $15 credit on my Frank & Oak account that I will never use because there is not one thing this “men’s fashion” web site sells that is worth buying.  It is all junk, every last bit of it.  This brand new T-Shirt I bought (and returned) was pilled when it arrived, freshly packed in its original packaging.  God, if it pilled on the way over, what’s is going to do when I touch it, or wash it.

Do yourself a favor, Don’t buy the come-on of places like Frank & Oak.  Maybe some of these “crate” sites are worth it, but not this one.  It all sounded like a fantastic idea.  In fact, when I first found out about crate services, I really thought that this was what Internet shopping was morphing into – and I liked it.  It was personalized shopping and a birthday gift (so to speak) every month.  It was fun.  But after seeing what it was all about, it was a huge let down.  If only Frank & Oak truly offered high quality merchandise that was readily available to its members, it could have been a beautiful thing.  It wasn’t.  It was a joke.

I can guarantee you Frank & Oak will fail.  I know this because let’s face it, this kind of shopping service is tailored made for the gay crowd (yes I am a member).  We may put up with snotty customer service one in a while, but there’s no way in HELL we’ll put up with cheap clothes.

Greed and Stupidity cause the music industry to lose money


I was on a web site recently. It was a discussion forum.  One forum visitor, replying to a another who was having a particularly difficult struggling with an emotional issue, posted a link to a music video.  I was curious so I clicked the link.  I was brought to YouTube and a video for a song called “Jealousy” by Will Young.  I had no idea who Will Young was, nor had I ever heard that song.  I loved it. (See bottom of this posting for the video link.)

After a little research I found out the Will Young was the original “Idol” from the very first year in the U.K.  The original version of the show is called “Pop Idol” and when it later came to America, “American Idol”.  But Will Young was the very first ever in that franchise to win. And he’s had a VERY successful carreer.  I couldn’t believe that even with all that I had never heard of him.  I’m not a kid anymore but I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  So finding the song, and the artist was a pleasant surprise.

I immediately fired up iTunes (as much as I hate iTunes, sometimes that’s just where you have to go) and did a search.  A pop up box said he couldn’t be found.  I was surprised and a little bummed out.  But the pop up box also said that what I was looking for was available on the UK iTunes site.  Cool!.  So I followed the link to there and found the song. When I tried to purchase it, I was asked for my iTunes account and after typing that in, I was told I couldn’t buy the song because I was in the US and I “wasn’t allowed” to purchase the song.  What?!  I suddenly remembered this happening to me a year or so ago when I tried to download some other song.  At that time I went through the process of setting up and account on the UK iTunes website, made up a UK address and all went well until I put in my credit card number.  I was told the credit card number belonged to a USA bank and therefore could not be used.  Fucked again.  At that time, I gave up, pissed off at how stupid this all was.

But not this time; I wasn’t giving up.  I went to Amazon.com and did a search and had the same problem with not being able to purchase it because I was in the US.  I was not yet deterred complete.  While FREE music download sites like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa are long gone.there are still ways to get free music.

Let me say, first and foremost, that I believe in paying for music.  If I could have handed Will Young the $20 for his CD personally, I would have done it gladly.  I would have paid him, his record company, a record store, or anybody else to legally purchase this music.  HOWEVER, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY ITSELF HAD MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO PURCHASE THE MUSIC I WANTED.

By using a torrent download site I was able to get the entire Will Young CD called “Echoes”.  I probably shouldn’t admit that I did it because it’s probably illegal.  But I will gladly pay the $20 to whomever should get it, if they can tell me how I can purchase the music without having to fly to the UK to do it.

So, music industry folks, I don’t know if you are dumb, greedy, or both.  It seems that one begets the other.  But you need to get you act together.  I believe that most people are like me.  I would gladly pay for ANY AND ALL MUSIC THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE, JUST GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT. Get your lawyers and your licensing and your greed in check and then people won’t be forced to steal music from the Internet.

Let me tell you something:  music is a very personal thing.  When a song hits you, it hits you hard and you will do anything to get it just so you can listen to it anytime you want, over and over again.  Some music is just like that – you simply must have it.  It’s innate.  I’ll say it one more time.  I WOULD GLADLY PAY FOR THE MUSIC I WANT IF YOU GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT.  And I believe most people out there feel the same way. 

By the way, if you are interested in the song I was trying to find, here it is.  The dance edit called “Alias Edit” is fantastic, as is the rest of the CD.  If you are in the US, good luck.  Maybe I should send it out to anyone who want it.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 and why RIM is still #1


If you believe all of the media hype, RIM (Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry) is about ready to shut its doors, its products are useless, and they have lost all of their market share. Nothing could be further from the truth.   BlackBerry somehow became the Microsoft of the smart phone world.  Everyone started to hate BlackBerry because they were at the top of the heap.  I’m not saying RIM hasn’t made mistakes, but like all global companies who grew very fast, sometimes the growing pains aren’t so easy to take.  But BlackBerry is getting itself back on track and is poised to retake the industry in the number one spot.

First, some house-cleaning.  Worldwide there are still more BlackBerry subscribers than any other smart phone.  Sure, maybe in the US, BlackBerry fell out of favor for a while, but worldwide, a BlackBerry is still number one.  And the BlackBerry does things that no other smart phone can do.  Three of the five top downloaded smart phone applications across all platforms are BlackBerry Apps.  They are BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter for BlackBerry, and FaceBook for BlackBerry.  I believe the number one downloaded app was “Angry Birds” – go figure.  Overall, worldwide the top cell phones are not BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.  The top sellers are non-smart-phones, meaning regular old mobile phones, by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.  Consider that most people in the world can’t afford to purchase, let alone keep up with the monthly service charges on, a smart phone.

Now to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.  This is AT&T/T-Mobile’s version.  Each carrier  (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and other global companies like Vodafone-UK, Rogers-Canada) have or will have their own model with its own unique features.  Even the AT&T and T-Mobile 9900 versions are not the same.

As the mobile communications coordinator for my company, I have had the opportunity to work on many BlackBerry models including the 8800, 8820, 8310, 8320, 9000, 9700, 9800, 9810, and now the 9900.  I have also been exposed to iPhones of all types, and Android phones.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the finest piece of smart phone hardware I have ever laid my hands on.  I LOVE it.  The full keyboard in a phenomenal achievement and never have I been able to glide and fly over that keyboard to type out an email or text like I can on the Bold 9900.  The phone is solid, the battery life is good, the screen images are crisp and clear; there isn’t anything I don’t like about the Bold 9900.

Here is why I like BlackBerry in general:

  1.  You don’t need to connect the phone to your computer to download and/or install applications. With the iPhone, you do, and that need to do so, is a pain in the ass.
  2. RIM/BlackBerry provides a full desktop software interface that can manage a whole host of things. This includes wirelessly syncing your media to your device whenever you are in range of your computer. The software can also help me rebuild a broken BlackBerry that won’t boot up.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with the tools RIM provides.  And the more technical you are, the more you can do on your own and not have to call someone and wait on hold.  Try to manage your Android with their desktop software – oops, there isn’t such a thing.
  3. Attachments – BlackBerrys handle them with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel, Word, PowerPoint or PDF, you can save it and view it later.  You can also edit it.  Try to do that with an iPhone.  If you don’t forever save the email that contained the attachment, you’ll never see it again.
  4. BlackBerry Messenger – think of it as the way Instant Messaging or Text Messaging should be.  Between BlackBerry users, there is no limit on the number of characters you can type into a BBM message, and you don’t need a special text messaging plan to use it.  It’s free if you are a BlackBerry subscriber.
  5. The BlackBerry Network – You probably heard something in the news back in October 2011 about how BlackBerry services crashed in Europe and eventually affected North America for a time.  It was bad.  But the truth is, there is an entire network of BlackBerry servers and services around the globe, all inter-connected, allowing for BlackBerry users to do the things they do, like BBM to people all over the world at no additional cost.  Everyone with a smart phone needs a data plan, but you don’t need a separate Text Messaging plan if you are messaging other people with BlackBerry’s.  When RIM experienced the big outage, they responded to it by offering several application from its App World for free to its customers.  And they weren’t silly apps like themes or games (although they offered some of those for free as well) but rather some of them were Super Apps, like Vlingo.
  6. BESX – The original product is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES.  BES is used by companies to link and manage all of their BlackBerry devices, push out custom applications to its users, and connect the users to data on servers within that company’s network.  BESX is a somewhat scaled down version FOR FREE.  Smaller companies or companies that don’t need EVERY SINGLE bell and whistle that BES offers, will do just fine with BESX.  Our company moved from BES to BESX and had absolutely no problem with functionality, in fact, just the opposite, we actually gained some functionality that was not yet included in the standard BES product.
  7. Self-Service – While I don’t expect every smart phone user to have access to an IT guy like me, for the people at my company, I am that guy.  And I can fix any problem myself, load any operating system on any device, control which apps are installed, and through IT Policies on the BES or BESX servers, I can control what my users can and can not do with their BlackBerry.  For example, let’s say I didn’t want them to be able to download apps from App World and be able to charge them to our company cell phone bill (this is an option available within BlackBerry App World – try THAT with an iPhone or Android).  I can prevent them from doing that.  OR, I can allow them to do it if the company want to do it as a perk.  Overall, I rarely have to call AT&T for any repair, functionality, or maintenance issues.  I can do it all myself.  The only time I really have to involve our mobile carrier is if a phone gets dropped and broken, and we have to file an insurance claim, or if a phone is so far beyond repair that I can’t fix it.  I haven’t had this last one happen yet.
  8. NFC – stands for Near Field Communications.  The best way to understand it is to think of a Mobil Speed Pass where you wave a key fob near the pump, and your purchase is automatically charged to the account you set up (credit card, debit card, Mobil gas card, etc).  This is just one function.  You will also be able to tap (or bump) your BlackBerry against another to share media like music, photos, and music.

When people try to put BlackBerry in a box, and say that the company is “dead in the water” they seem to forget that RIM is truly a global company.  There are places in Asia where 70% of the population use BlackBerry for personal use – not for business.  BlackBerry is the most respected smart phone world-wide.  I was recently in Boston for the weekend staying at a very large, upscale hotel.  I was surprised that most of the young people I saw walking around with smart phones had BlackBerry’s, not iPhones, not Androids, like the media would have you think.  iPhones and Androids may have great sales right now, but customer loyalty for those platforms isn’t there.  Many people are returning to BlackBerry once they got their taste of being “trendy” and keeping up with the Jones’s and it didn’t work out quite how they had hoped.  And luckily, RIM is ready for them.  In 2012 RIM will be releasing even more new models and the new QNX Operating System (which was supposed to be called BBX but RIM got sued over the use of that name – it will probably be called simply BlackBerry X or something like that).   The new OS will bring the BlackBerry smart phone (and tablet) closer to a fully functioning computer in your hand.

So folks, don’t count out BlackBerry just yet.  Many predicted that when Microsoft Vista came out, it was the end of Microsoft.  There was a mass exodus to Mac….until Windows 7 showed up.  RIM is in the midst of readjusting, refocusing, scaling down, and paring out the dead wood in the company.  They got fat and happy, and then realized it was time to get to the gym.  Now they are well on their way to being sexy, and desirable, all over again.

BlackberryandBeyond.com web site gay bashes staff


Many “BlackBerry-centric” web sites exist on the Internet.  These aren’t sites owned by Research in Motion (RIM – makers of BlackBerry), but rather third parties who run Forums which double as “news” sites.   There is a lot of competition among these sites and when one of them get’s a scoop, the others immediately jump into action, trying NOT to be the very last site to post the scoop.  The goal of these sites is to make money, obviously. The income can be generated from advertising dollars if they get enough traffic or, if they are lucky, from an online store where they might sell BlackBerry Applications, BlackBerry Accessories, etc.

The list of these sites goes on and on:  They include, but are not limited to, BlackberryForums.com, Driphter.com, BlackberryOS.com, EverythingBerry.com, PinStack.com, Berryreview.com, BBGeeks.com, and the grand daddy of them all – Crackberry.com.  And trust me, this is a short list.

BlackBerryandBeyond.com is a new web site created recently and owned by Tom Evans, John Hodges, a guy named “Jeff” who goes by the call sign “Shimmyshine”, and one other individual who goes by the name “wraithwatcher”.  To demonstrate how these sites rise up, seemingly overnight  – the “owners” of BlackberryandBeyond.com used to be contributors to BlackberryOS.com.  There were personality clashes and accusations of poor management, so the 4 horsemen decided to go off on their own.   The site’s official opening isn’t until late February/early March, but they are well under way now.

A few months back, BlackberryOS.com was looking for contributors.  I showed interest in writing for a Blackberry web site because I had spent so much time on My.BlackBerry.Com (a user forum site run by RIM), and had worked with users to solve technical problems as a fellow BlackBerry user.  My experience comes from running a BlackBerry Enterprise as part of my job.  I noticed that many visitors who submitted questions to My.BlackBerry.Com were asking the same questions over and over and over again.  So I wanted a change of pace.  I’m a decent writer had developed some standard wording in plain language to answer common BlackBerry questions.   When I approached Tom Evans, he was familiar with my work at My.BlackBerry.Com.   In two months I posted almost two thousand responses to forum visitors who requested help with a Blackberry Issue or Problem.  Mr. Evans told me he knew of my work and wanted me to write for BlackberryOS.com.  The problem at the time was that they wanted me to commit to posting one article every day on their site.  I did not feel I could meet their expectations and did not want to promise something I could not live up to.  So in the end, I did not take the “position”.

I use the term “position” loosely.  These sites don’t actually pay people like me to write.  You have to be an owner, and insider, or work you way up.   I wasn’t getting paid to write, although I would have been called a “staff” writer of some sort.

I heard through the grapevine that several people from BlackberryOS.com had left to start their own site – BlackberryandBeyond.com.  I approached Mr. Evans again and asked if there was a place for me in his organization either in Moderating or Writing.  I actually wanted to do both.  I like working with the end-users, but also enjoyed writing; focusing on “How-To” type articles.   Mr. Evans and I had one discussion about where I might fit in.  I was clear that I wanted to play both roles; a moderator and a writer.  Mr. Evans was eager to get me on board.  I had the chops, and the talent, and he knew I would be a good “get”.  He suggested I start as a writer.  I thought that was acceptable.  I had no experience or knowledge in contributing to a web site before.  I immediately began contributing articles to BlackBerryandBeyond.com.  I didn’t sign anything or agree to anything specific number of articles – I just wrote when I could.

When I became a “member” of the group, I was added to their BlackBerry Messenger group.  For those that don’t use BBM or the group function, it’s like Instant Messaging but in group format.  There were about 12 individuals in the B and B group.  Anyone who posted a message into the BBM group had it read by all other members of the group.  It’s an effective way to communicate with everyone at once, especially when big news is breaking, like a new Operating System release, or our web site is down – stuff like that.  Again, the primary players of BlackberryandBeyond.com spend a great deal of time monitoring all of the other BlackBerry forum sites to see what they are posting, so they also spend time trying to get the “staff” to write similar articles so we don’t look like we’re not on top of things.  To me, it’s a strange way to run a “business” – no direct news sources of your own – always playing catch up with what others are posting. 

On Friday, February 4, 2011, RIM announced a new BlackBerry trade-up program.  It was announced by RIM and every single BlackBerry Forum site wrote the same basic article.  I was asked to get something up a quickly as possible.  We didn’t want to be the last ones with the same news as everybody else.  God forbid. 

On Sunday morning, February 6, 2011, I was at home.  I could hear my BlackBerry “pinging” away.  I have a tone set to make a sound when people are posting to the BlackBerry Messenger Group for BlackBerry and Beyond.   What I saw was a bit disturbing to me.  I had become accustomed to this group of “guys” making crude sexual comments and grammar school “jokes” about sex, and women.  It was so unprofessional to me, but I tried to let it just roll of my back.  But on the Sunday morning in question I had enough when I saw them making “gay” jokes.  I didn’t want to be “that guy” who causes problem when they don’t exist.  But I couldn’t stand by any longer and keep my mouth shut.  Here is the conversation I watched go by.  The initials indicate the person “speaking”:

FM – “Steelers. +1”

R – “Packers here….by 14”

JSS – “I can’t vote for gaybay. Lol”

R – Lmao

FM –  Steelers. 24-21 I think. I can’t root for the packers. Ever. I’m a bears fan. Hey shimmy, you a lions fan by any chance?

JSS –  Nah, I’m a tampa bay shittyeers fan..

JSS –  They both suck sadly.

FM –  Lol. Bucs had a chance this year…

FM –  Hodges is probably still sleeping. But since he is gay he’ll probably root for the packers

I saw where this was going, or had already gone.  After watching them talk about wives and girlfriends and “cialis” earlier, I was not about to let this conversation go where it could easily go.  In 2011, the “innocent” gay slur or misogynistic comment just isn’t cool, it isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t appropriate for a “business” conversation.  After all, BlackberryandBeyond.com is a business.  They may act like it’s a junior high locker room, but it’s a business.

So I spoke up – and this is what I said:

“I really didn’t think I would have to say this in 2011, but I don’t appreciate the gay slurs. If you want to act like 12-year-olds in private messages, that your prerogative.. But in a group chat?  You should be ashamed of yourselves. I am gay. If that’s a problem for anyone, then you let me know right now, and we’ll take it from there.  This is not an LOL or LMAO or any of the other terms this group overuses. This is for real.”

The reason I said the part about LOL and LMAO is because in the 14 days or so that I was a member of this group, I watched as comment after comment after comment is posted the BBM group about all kinds of things, and everyone ends or begins their comment with LOL, ROFL, LMAO, as if EVERYTHING is so damned funny that their all rolling on the floor in stitches.  It’s childish and nothing more than verbal filler because these people have nothing important to say to each other.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then.

After my comment I got a few responses.  The first was this:

R –  ….no one meant any offense at all. Everyone in this group except a few, yourself included, have been friends for quite some time. As such we tend to lose sight to the new people in the group.  I’m sure it won’t happen again.

That was the right answer.  Just acknowledge that things got out of hand, that  no offense were meant, and let’s move on.  I had absolutely no problem with that at all. 

But then, THIS, from one of the “owners” – verbatim:

H –  I was driving when this msg came in (name redacted) I’m glad u commented  to play off what you said.  Yes (name redacted)  you are correct this is 2011 and as fucked up as the world is its unfortunate that there are still people in this world that feed of society.. However on the other side of the  coin I myself am not a homosexual but I am half black half puertorican and I have been called every racial name under the sun.. At times it  was meant towards me and at times it was in a joking manner.. You have to know when to be able to decipher the two.. Its obvious these guys weren’t talking negativatly towards you or anyone in the gay community.. As rick said we are all friends my friends call me a nigger all the time but its funny and in a joking manner just sayin”

This above is a comment from John Hodges – Owner of BlackberryandBeyond.com.  Instead of acting like an “owner” and responding with “hey no offense – and guys, he’s got a point, let’s keep our conversations a bit more elevated”, John Hodges basically said – “I’m called a nigger and it doesn’t bother me – so don’t be so sensitive”.

Is that any way for the Owner of a company to respond??  Not to mention that Tom Evans, another Owners, who is NEVER not listening to what’s going on in the group conversation, was in complete radio silence.  Nor did any of the other “Owners” weigh in on the subject. 

We had one female member of our group when I joined.  She resigned unexpectedly and nobody would tell me why except that it was personal.  I can only glean that if she reacted to the misogynistic “talk” the way I reacted to the gay slurs, she had way more reason to be pissed off than I had.  What they said about gays, in comparison to what they’ve said about women, is tame.  And I admit, I don’t think anyone was intentionally trying to gay bash, I just decided to speak up before anyone took it any further.

For the Owner of an organization to defend the actions of the group by saying he’s OK with being called a “nigger” once in a while, is repulsive.  And for the other owners to not say a word about what happened is indefensible.

I deleted all of the articles I wrote for BlackberryandBeyond.com.  They are my intellectual property and I didn’t sign any agreement with them.

I am now looking for somewhere else where I can write – with and for adults.

Time to rid yourself of Christmas guilt – 2010 Edition


The current economic climate has brought about the perfect time to reassess what Christmas is about.  I recently read this posting that I wrote almost 2 years ago.  I decided that now is a good time to republish it.  The following has been edited and updated for this year but the message is the same.  I even fixed some misspellings, and rewrote some poorly constructed sentences.  I hope this post gives you something to think about.

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Christmas means different things to different people.  At its core, Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ.   It is a Christian holiday.  I  believe that unless you are devout in your celebration of this birth then you have no business celebrating Christmas.  Otherwise it’s no different than celebrating Hanukkah.  You may as well.  You’re guaranteed eight gifts that way.

I have not forgotten the magic that Christmas can bring, but from where does that magic come.  We are often more prone to charitable gifts during Christmas.  So to some less fortunate child, or family, a Christmas miracle could be one toy, or one meal.

Many of us get emotional during the holidays, mostly due to the memories of our childhood.  Some never had a Christmas. Some never had a happy Christmas.  I”m not sure which is worse; never having one, or never having one that lives up to the hype.

A few years ago, I had my own economic downturn.  Giving gifts that year wasn’t within the realm of possibility.  Yes, I could have given home-made gifts.  But, I would have felt inadequate and guilt that comes from NOT giving.

So I decided to take a different approach.  No Christmas presents?  I approached the people with whom I normally exchange gifts and told each one  the truth (do people tell the truth anymore? – I’m used to it, but I find that many struggle with it).  I told them I can’t afford to buy presents and I would appreciate it they didn’t buy me a present either.  I can’t pretend I have the money to do it, and if I spend money on gifts, I won’t have money for Rent, or Food, or to put gas in my car.  And I don’t want to feel the guilt of getting a gift when I don’t have one to give.  I don’t believe that my “plan” was received very well, but I had no choice but to move forward with it.

The most important gift in the world, in my opinion, is your time.  I wanted to spend time with the people I love.  Laughing, relaxing, telling stories, playing cards; all of those things that we rarely have time for.  Since most of my friends and family aren’t consistent church-goers, we weren’t celebrating the birth of the Messiah. No, in previous years we weren’t celebrating anything, and giving each other mounds of presents because of it.

In as little as one day after opening gifts, maybe less in some cases, most kids can’t remember who gave them what.  They were already bored with the toys, and the adults usually think “thank god that’s over”.   How sad is that.  Such a build-up and in a flash, it’s over.  Some are happy it’s over.  Some are disappointed that they didn’t “get what they wanted”.

In recent years many of the people I know were ready to take down the tree and decorations by the evening of Christmas Day.  And as we reflected on Christmas, we realized introspectively that we spent too much, probably went into credit card debt, and even if you got great stuff, something was missing.

After the time when I stopped giving out Christmas presents I didn’t feel that way anymore.  Christmas had taken on a different meaning.  As I said before, the gift of time, and laughter, I think, are such valuable commodities.  What an incredible relief it would be, don’t you think, if you never had to worry about the traditional gift giving aspect of Christmas?  I know people who say that they truly like the chaos of shopping for Christmas gifts.  I think they are lying to themselves.  I think they are trying to recreate a fantasy that is unattainable.   The magic of the perfect childlike Christmas is unattainable.

To me, it’s not that gifts shouldn’t be exchanged anymore, just not gifts that come with a receipt.  I have always believed that birthdays are special.  That is one person’s special day and that should be the day they get all the attention and a gift or two.  And I also believe in buying people things that you happen upon and give for no specific reason.  I bought a family member a certain gift,  just because I knew they liked it, not because it was their birthday or Christmas or any other holiday.  Those, to me, are real gifts.  The unexpected act of kindness.  But giving wrapped gifts is NOT necessary at Christmas.

So I am asking you to participate in a new kind of gift giving for the holidays.   Stay out of the stores and off the online shopping sites.  Make a promise to yourself, and to those you love, to spend time with them during the Holidays.  Why do we keep perpetuating the myth that a “present” equals “love”.  And if you decide to spend more time with the ones you love playing cards, relaxing, enjoying food,  and most of all laughing, then maybe you will begin to see what is really important.  You will be able to see it because your mind will not be consumed with guilt over whether or not you spent enough money on so-and-so, and “oh I hope he likes it, I don’t think he’ll like it” or “maybe I should get her something else, or something more”.  Rid yourself of that Christmas guilt and put your energy into memorable, intangible, important things.

We need to stop buying into Corporate America’s idea of Christmas;  the kind of Christmas that makes Corporate America rich.  They wait all year for Christmas because it makes up something like 60 or 70 percent of their profits for the year.  And you wouldn’t believe how they try to get into your head, and your heart, so that they can get into your wallet.  Stop the insanity.

If you believe in God, then you should know that God doesn’t keep track of the presents you give;  God only cares about gifts you give that can’t be wrapped.  If you don’t believe in God (nobody says you have to – I don’t) then all of this should make perfect sense to you already.

I welcome your comments.

Why this country is turning to shit


I wrote a restaurant review about a little place in my neighborhood.  I wrote that first piece about a year and a half ago; June 2009.  Since that first review, and the two subsequent reviews (I’m not a journalist but even I know you have to experience something more than once to write a credible review) the comments have come flying in.  Most of them trying to belittle me for not liking this restaurant.

People seem to have a problem distinguishing what an “opinion” is.  Moreover, they seem to have a problem with individuals expressing their opinion.  Just about every comment had direct, or indirect, language that insinuated I don’t have a right to my own opinion.   Yet no one saw the ludicrous nature of these comments.  A comment from a dissenting point of view is fine, but when you comment on the quality of the “chicken fingers” at a self-titled  authentic” Italian restaurant, I think we’ve veered off track, just a bit.

I simply gave my opinion about a restaurant that I think is sub-standard. If other people think differently, and accept the food from this place as “good” then that is THEIR opinion.  If people wish to tout the wonders of Stugazzi’s, they should start their own blog rather than taking shots at me for my opinion.  We have something called the U.S. Constitution that guarantees my right to free speech.  You should read it sometime.

The reaction to these posts is reflective of the bigger picture.   After my 3 posts about the restaurant,  I wrote an article on Tyler Clementi, the 18 year old college freshman who committed suicide because two very mean classmates “outed” him in a live online video.  Nobody commented on that article.  But when I had the audacity to question the authenticity of Chicken Fingers being authentic Italian cuisine, the public was OUTRAGED.

I don’t know if the public is distracted or stupid.  Do they simply WANT to be distracted so as not to deal with the realities of the world?  Or are they so dumb, and so self-centered, that the most important thing to them is sticking up for their local pizza joint.  In my opinion, you have a personal and moral responsibility to right social wrongs before wasting time commenting on the wait staff at the local “choke and puke”.

So why is this country turning to shit?  Because no matter what, it’s all about ME, ME, ME.  This country is filled with selfish, self-centered, dumb people who care only for what’s in it for them, and how they can vent their rage.

I know what it is like to feel beaten down.  I lost my job and was out of work for 18 months.  I was alone, meaning I don’t have a partner in life to help me through the tough times.  My car was repossessed and I was within days of being evicted from my apartment.  I was refused food stamps because I had not proven that my car was repossessed.  When I finally proved it, there was a hearing.  In that hearing it was decided that I took too long and I must have been hiding something.  So I was denied assistance.  Do you now how difficult it is to prove that you DON’T own something.

But I’m still here.  I”m still writing.  I’m still helping the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them packages of things they need that the government won’t provide.  I don’t earn much money anymore, because there are so few jobs where I live.  I would relocate in a minute if I could come up with the money to do it.  I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.  I’m falling behind, and falling through the cracks, but I’m still here.

My point is (and if I wrote this piece properly I would’t have to tell you what my point is) that even through hardships, the way to stay sane is to give of yourself to something or someone else.   America is supposed to be a charitable nation.  I just don’t see it.  That’s not to say there aren’t good Americans doing good things with their time and money.  But charity is not pervasive in our culture.

And I can prove it.  Again, I’ve written hundreds of posts on this blog but I will focus on two:

Restaurant Review for Stugazzi’s in Springvale, Maine – 27 Comments and over 1300 viewers

Tyler Clementi – A personal memorial –  Zero comments and 5 viewers.

That’s America.  We’ll stick up for our fried chicken fingers before we’ll stick up for gay people who are so isolated they feel the only way out is to kill themselves.

And that, my friends, is why the Tea Party candidates will probably win in many elections across the country on November 2.  The Tea Party knows how to distract Americans.  All the Tea Party has to do is shake the shiney keys in front of the babies.  The shiney keys are fear, hate, and lies.  The shiney keys are “nobody in Washington cares about you” and “they’re gong to raise your taxes” and “big government” and “spending”.  And the babies are you.

Americans will eat this shit up because they are too dumb to think for themselves.  And nobody wants to make tough decisions.  They’d rather defend their chicken nuggets than their neighbors.  And that’s why this country is turning to shit.

Tyler Clementi – a personal memorial


I’ve had Tyler on my mind for the past week.  I can’t seem to shake it.  I call him “Tyler” not because I know him.  I should refer to him as Mr. Clementi out of respect.  But I think if I knew Tyler, we would have been friends.

I’m older now,  amost 30 years older than Tyler, but I have not been able to shake the flashbacks of what it was like to be 18 years old, gay, and terrified.  By the time I was 18, I had known I was gay for several years, for as much as I understood what that meant.  But I knew for damned sure since I was at least 15.  And I lived in terror of people finding out.

Anyone looking back on MY life would consider me lucky.  Sure I was called faggot by every cruel and not-so-cruel person I came into contact with.  I was also overweight, scared out of my mind on a daily basis, and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.  By 18, I had gone on a crash diet.  I was 6 feet tall, had a 31 inch waist and weighed about 170 pounds.  It was the night I graduated high school that I had my first sexual encounter with a guy I had a crush on for a while.  I didn’t know then, and don’t know now, why it happened, why this guy liked me, or why he was interested in a sexual relationship with me.  But it happened.  And I was in heaven.  Somebody out there cared about me.  Somebody that I cared about, maybe even loved, held me in his arms and awakened things in me that had been pent up for so long.  Somebody wrapped his arms around me and let me fall asleep against his chest.  I woke that same way.  I did not know that happiness like that existed.  I had never experienced happiness before that time that I can remember.  But finally I knew what they meant by “happy”.

So I can not imagine (and I am welling up as I type this) what would have happened, or how it would have affected my life, if two hateful losers broadcasted my secret to the whole world.  I haven’t seen, nor do I want to, the video in question.   But even if it was as simple as a beautiful first kiss, a kiss that lingered for a long time, for the first time, then the possibility that the world was laughing at me for what I was finally feeling would have crushed me.

I don’t know the history of Tyler Clementi.  I don’t know if the experience at his college was the first or second or tenth.  It doesn’t matter.  Nobody deserves what Dharun Ravi and  Molly Wei did.  Betrayed by his own roommate just a few weeks into the school year.  How do you face that without the right support system.

In a perfect world, what would be broadcast instead to the world is the trial and conviction of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.  What punishment is fair for invading another human being’s most intimate expressions and behaviors without his consent.   This was not an innocent prank.  Ravi and Wei knew exactly what they were doing.  Their intention was to totally and completely humiliate Tyler Clementi to a point beyond repair.  What other reason could there possibly be for what they did.   The perpetrators and their defenders may come up with all kinds of reasons or explanations.  But no matter what, there is NO excuse.  Again, this was not a prank.  It was an intentional, malicious, hateful attack.

Maybe too much time has passed and my wounds have healed.  But I think  I was lucky to find the support of some very good friends who accepted me completely for who I was.  And eventually, my family came around to the point where I would bring my boyfriend (the few times when I had one) to a social event.  Today, it’s just not an issue.  Partly because the world has changed a lot since I came out (or so I thought), and partly because I am so accepting of my own sexuality.  I don’t have an issue with it so why should you.  I don’t hate myself so why should you.  I don’t force my sexuality down anyone’s throat, but I won’t deny it nor will I miss an opportunity to correct someone who doesn’t know I’m gay.   If someone refers to my wife or girlfriend, I simply say “I’m gay”.  I don’t believe that sexuality should be flaunted by anyone, gay or straight.  I don’t want to watch a straight couple grope each other on a park bench.

I wish so much that Tyler was my friend.  I know, I just know, that if we were friends, I could have helped him get through this.  I would bring him to places to be around people who just don’t give a shit if you are gay.  And I’m not talking about bringing him to gay bars.  I’m talking about normal heterosexuals or homosexuals (although most people I know are straight) who treat you like a person, not a “type” of person.

This is probably from watching too many movies or TV, but I keep picturing me, there, on the bridge (and I’m going to cry again) holding out my hand to Tyler.  And just simply, and quietly, I take his hand and ease him down to the ground.  Then I give him a hug and tell him it’s going to be OK.  “We’ll face it together”.

So many young men have killed themselves just his month – all because of the idea that their families and the world won’t accept them for being gay.  I am amazed that in 2010, the attitudes of some are so far behind the rest of the world.  How can it be that we live in a world that has gay marriages, civil unions, domestic partners, gay adoptive parents, openly gay politicians and clergy;  ideas that were unthinkable just 20 years ago.  Yet that same world has so much hate for the exact same ideas.  I can only conclude that it is our fault.  It is the fault of those that are more progressive thinkers.  We haven’t spoken out enough, we’ve tolerated this hate too much, and there are not enough of us watching the bridges for the ones that need a hand to get down.  The time has come.  Keep your eyes, and ears, and especially your mind and heart, open.  Only we can change it by de-stigmatizing it and making sure that all people, not just gay people, are accepted and loved.

As for Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei; the same god that they might quote to condemn homosexuality (they must, why else would they have done what they did) is the same god who said “an eye for an eye”.  So do we make them stand on the edge of that same bridge and force them to do the same?   I doubt Tyler would have wanted that.  I might be mad enough to do it, but he wouldn’t be.  You can tell, just from the few pictures you might see of him.

So in the end, do we really need to be reminded, one more time, to love and respect each other while you have the chance.  Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.  What might be “harmless hate” to some, will be the end of the road for others.  Do you really want that on your conscience.

To my friend Tyler:  Hi Tyler, you don’t know me.  My name is Ron.  And I want to let you know that I’m thinking about you.  You are in my thoughts and you probably always will be.  Just know that while you may not have known it, there are so many people who love and respect you.  And they don’t care if you’re gay.   Maybe somebody, even just one person, will learn from what happened to you and decide to make different choices.  I will keep a candle burning for you.  I’ts my way of leaving the light on.

Is that American Idol show still using up precious airwaves?


Is that show still on?  Does anybody watch it? 

I have not watched American Idol once all season.  Well, that’s not 100% true.  I accidentally channel surfed onto it a few times and couldn’t hit the MUTE button fast enough.  So I was forced to listen to a few milliseconds of “singing”.  And if you were standing here, as much as I HATE “aire quotes” – I would definitely raise my fingers and do air quotes when I said the word “singing”. 

NOBODY ON THIS YEAR’S AMERICAN IDOL ANY TALENT!.

Idol is supposed to be a talent show.  Barring that, and most of time the show is barring that, it is a popularity contest.  Well, without any real talent and without one single contestant on the show to give a shit about, why watch?

Last season, when Kris Allen won the crown, and Adam Lambert queened in second (is queened a verb?), I knew early on, when they picked the final 12 (or 13 as it turned out that season) that there was a lot of talent in the room, I knew Kris Allen would win, and I knew he would win because he can sing, and because he was as cute as a button!  Are buttons actually cute?  I need to stop speaking in bad idioms.

Lambert wasn’t going to win; he’s too gay.  I’m gay and he’s too gay for me.  I don’t want to watch him grab his own crotch or anyone else’s. And I don’t want to watch someone else grab his.  And why does every song Lambert sings sound the same.  This is how I describe every Lambert song:

“wait for it…..wait for it…..wait for it……THERE he’s screaming now, the song is almost done”.

So apparently American Idol is still on television – who knew.  I’m going to suggest that instead of watching this year’s finale, because who cares, really, that you watch “Modern Family” on HULU.COM.  It’s probably the best comedy on TV right now.  Funny as hell, not dirty or crude, just real, character driven, funny-line-deliverying comedy.

I recently sent a link to a friend that led her  to the Modern Family section on HULU.  She’s a bit “born again” shall we say, and anything even remotely off-color offends her (although I can’t argue with the fact that Miley Cyrus offends her).   She watched it last night and LOVED it.  We rehashed it this morning when she got to work.  Modern Family is truly one of those shows that you can’t help but talk about the next day, at work, or with your friends.  It’s that good.

Modern Family has everything that American Idol doesn’t have.  Talent, timing, personality, good material,  humor without bad taste, and a “Randy Jackson Free Zone”.  OK I made that last part up.

I mean it – Idol is passé.  It’s so last decade.