Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wizard Land, Dear Readers...

After having about 10 days of relaxation at the beginning of November, I headed down to Orlando to meet up with my mom for a week. She was there for a conference that is held every three years in Orlando (of all places), and as is customary, she was staying a week longer to have a vacation of sorts.

While I was there, we took some time to go to Universal, because I hadn't been there in a very long time. In fact, the only proof I have that I may have once been there (when I was 7) is a photo of me on a bike with E.T. in the basket. My mom made me take one when we there this time too. It's fairly embarrassing. But anyway, the point of this was that I didn't remember anything about having been there before.

We spent two days checking out both Universal parks and it was mostly enjoyable. I got to see Doc Brown hanging out by the DeLorean, a cute sculpture of the Lorax hanging out with all his trees, and all of E.T.'s friends.

But the highlight was probably the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I'm not super obsessed with HP. I hated the books when they first came out and just couldn't really get into the whole thing. I started reading all the books last year, though. I'm not finished with the last two. But I found myself really enjoying them, and even though I'm not obsessed, I do have my geeky moments. While I was not crazy enough to stand in line for two hours to visit the wand shop and get my own wand, I did enjoy the little park. I even left with two souvenirs - a sweet girly hoodie and some candy from Honeydukes.

I wish I had more to share about it. The two rides I went on were pretty cool, and the castle was really awesome to walk through. I'd say it's worth checking out. I think it would've been cooler if they'd saved the money, spent more time, and made it into its own bigger theme park. It would've been awesome to see a full-sized Hogwarts (the castle at least).

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the trip:

Chillin' with the conductor in front of the Hogwarts Express.


Ohai, Hogwarts!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm mildly irritated, but not by Black Friday, but we'll talk about that too.

A few days ago, I got a friendly reminder e-mail from Borders (the book store) telling me that my rewards earnings would expire the next day. So I figured I would redeem them and buy a movie or two. We don't have Borders stores in the area, so I had to order online. I pondered my choices and finally selected two items. They were in my cart and all I had to do was check out. After many error messages, improper page loads, and three and a half hours of waiting and wishing would explode in hell, my order FINALLY went through. This was very frustrating, but in the end, the mission was accomplished, so I thought I'd just forget about it. And then I got another e-mail from Borders yesterday.

It reads:

We are reaching out today to our most valued customers to inform you that we received a huge response to our recent reminder for Borders Rewards members to redeem their $10 in Bonus Bucks. Such a huge response in fact, that the customer experience was impacted. If you were not able to redeem your $10 in Borders Bonus Bucks online, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please look for additional exclusive rewards and incentives throughout the Holiday Season.
Thank you for your patience,
Mike Edwards
CEO, Borders, Inc."

Now personally, after much frustration and time-wasting, I made it through. But this is the dumbest customer relations letter I have EVER seen. Mike Edwards, this is what your letter should have read:

"Dear Borders Customers who give us tons of money each year,
Our site is completely inadequate and non-functional. Fuck you, though.
Mike Edwards
CEO, Borders, Inc."

It wouldn't have been such a slap in the face if you didn't send an e-mail to everyone telling them, "omg go use your rewards coupons RIGHT NOW or else you will lose them forever!" But the fact that you were unable to anticipate the sheer inadequacy of your own site (which is actually pretty miserable to use on a normal day) before you sent this mass e-mail and then, instead of correcting the situation after you realized you messed up, just telling your customers, "It's too bad that we fucked up" just kind of blows my mind.

And now every time a new Borders coupon shows up in my inbox, which is typically at least once a day, I feel so much irritation due to the past offensive e-mail. There's not much I can do about it aside from ceasing to give them my business. But it is what it is.


Today was Black Friday. I haven't gone out to actually compete for wares in a few years and I didn't want to today because I've basically been feeling like shit lately. But then a few days ago, I saw a list of fun, limited issue records that were coming out. Among them was a Grinderman 12" which I absolutely had to have. And I didn't get. There were only 500 sent out. My local store got two and neither of them were attainable. However, my BFF across the country scored me a copy, so it's all good. I picked up something for him at my local store, and two things for me. One was a fairly not-in-good-condition copy of The Cure's live show at I-Beam (San Francisco, 1981) - the sleeve has some pretty hefty damage and the record appears to have one or two surface scratches, but we'll see how it goes. I'm not a super serious collector, so I don't care *too* much, but if it's really a total wreck, I will probably take it back and have words, because it did not come to me cheap.

My second purchase was made on a second trip to said record store. I researched a little and decided I wanted it. "It" is a vinyl issue of Clem Snide's "Your Favorite Music". It's a good album and apparently was not released on vinyl before. The one I got is marbled light blue vinyl with a light green label - very pretty. Overall, I was happy with my purchases considering I didn't really plan to purchase anything on Black Friday.

So, I hope everybody had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and I hope no one got trampled trying to buy a new toaster today. Please try to be sane for the rest of the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

October Travels

I am not sure what really happened that caused me to be a month behind in sharing some exciting/fun/interesting to me things, but somehow, this is the position I am in. Some of the time I've been spending trying to sort out my home life and get my act together, and some has been spent trying to catch sleep between all the things going on. Anyway, here I am, and although a lot of what I have to say now is about stuff that happened like a month ago, I'm going to try to cover everything over the next few days.

Let's start with the end of October.

October 28, I headed to Nashville to see Rifftrax Live: House on Haunted Hill and meet some Twitter people - one in particular, a friend, Doug (@watchout4snakes), but we also briefly met Tracey (@euphoriafish) there too. I'm new to the meeting Twitter people thing and I'm mostly antisocial, but my AYCJ travels sort of made me a little better at it, so why not. As far as the movie goes, House on Haunted Hill is one of my favorites, and I really enjoyed the entire experience. I would say more about it, but my best recommendation would be to buy the DVD when it's released. Anyway, it was my first time in Tennessee, making it my 6th new state in under 2 months. The drive there was terribly long (about 9 hours), but I saw some amazing scenery along the way. I, sadly, missed the opportunity to stop at the American Museum of Science and Energy (yes, I'm nerdy) on my way back to Charleston, so I'm sure I'll return to Tennessee again in the future for a visit.

When I got back from Nashville, I had one day of rest. Then my friend, Angela, and her boyfriend, Greg, arrived from New Jersey. The next day (Halloween), we headed to Atlanta to see Jónsi (of Sigur Rós fame) at the Tabernacle. It was a long drive there and we were all pretty exhausted from too many accumulated car hours over the previous days. However, we managed to talk ourselves into getting all done up in costumes and going to the show. It was well worth it. It was an amazing show, but also kind of a weird experience for me. Sigur Rós and Jónsi are artists whose music I'm used to listening to by myself and in my own home. I don't recall ever listening to either in the car or ever intentionally with other people. For whatever reason, this music has some weird emotional effects on me. So, it was just strange being in a room full of other people experiencing the performance. But it was a really great one and I'm glad I had the chance to see it. (I have a video from the show, but I haven't uploaded it yet, so I'll have to share that later.) As far as costumes went, lots of people were dressed up - my favorite was a group of people dressed up as characters from Fantastic Mr. Fox - very clever and cute and well done (sadly, no photos of this).

Since these two trips, I've had some more travel and some fun experiences. Those stories, however, will have to wait for another day.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving today.

Monday, November 01, 2010

AYCJ Summary

I guess I never actually posted a link to it over here, but my short little story about my JetBlue AYCJ travels posted over on Michael Musto's blog a little over a week ago. Click here to read.