Tuesday, December 14, 2010

UPS ruined my Christmas!

This is some epic courier FAIL right here folks. I know it's popular to overstate failage these days, but if anything ever deserved the term EPIC FAIL, it's this tale right here.

Settle in folks! This will take a little while. As you read, bear one thing in mind: this all happened or came to light the same day -- today.

For Christmas I ordered my wife a fondue pot from Amazon. (It's okay, she knows what it is now. Read on.) It was supposed to have arrived by the 7th, but they shipped it USPS so I couldn't track it. It never came and never came. Finally today I went back to Amazon to file a request for help, when I noticed that I had been mistaken and it actually shipped via UPS. So I tracked it!

Delivery location: "Rear door".

We do not have a rear door.


We have a sliding glass door that opens onto a small patio with a 4.5-foot high, 8-inch thick concrete privacy wall. Surrounded by some bushes. And about 3' of landscaped ground cover.


The UPS delivery dude:

  1. Walked through the landscaping.
  2. Stepped over or through the bushes.
  3. Climbed over the wall.
  4. HID THE BOX BEHIND A CHAIR.
  5. ...out from underneath the roof overhang.

So it's been outside in the Bay Area rainy season getting rained on for a week. I brought it inside, and had to open it to see how fuckered it is (which is why Aimee knows what it is.) Jury's still out, but the actual product might have survived. Let's just say that the box is over. GOOD JOB, UPS!


You probably think that's it, don't you?  Oh no. Oh ho no. Ha ha ha ha, no. I'm just getting started. Read on, my friends.


For Christmas, I also ordered my dad $MULTIPART_GIFT from $LOCAL_VENDOR. Now, $LOCAL_VENDOR is a small chain and has several warehouses. So my $MULTIPART_GIFT order was split into 3 separate UPS shipments.

Package #1 arrived on time, on the 7th. Huzzah!

Package #2 was supposed to arrive on the 8th. Since my mom told me it still hadn't arrived, I tracked it. It reached Latham, NY (the nearest distribution center) on the 9th. The tracking history says:

  • A CORRECT STREET NUMBER IS NEEDED FOR DELIVERY. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION
  • and then the next day: THE RECEIVER'S ADDRESS IS INCOMPLETE. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THE ENTIRE ADDRESS AND COMPLETE THE DELIVERY. / THE ADDRESS HAS BEEN CORRECTED. THE DELIVERY HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED

Please note that this is the exact same address -- verbatim -- as the package that had been delivered 2 days earlier. What then? Well, it was delivered, today, the 14th, as follows:
Delivered On: 12/14/2010 11:05 A.M.
Signed By:SEAN
Location:OFFICE
Delivered To: MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, US
Shipped/Billed On:12/07/2010
Now I sure hope that means that they delivered it to my apartment complex office, but at this point all bets are off. There was a note on our door so hopefully that is what happened, but so much for 2-day UPS shipping. If I had wanted it myself I would have driven to the store to pick it up. GOOD JOB, UPS!!


But what's that you say? There were three packages? Why, yes, as a matter of fact there were.

BEHOLD the fate of Package #3:

  • From Gloversville, NY (the other nearby UPS distribution center):
    THE CUSTOMER WAS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE 1ST ATTEMPT. A 2ND ATTEMPT WILL BE MADE
    (Note: false. My mother was home all day.)
  • And then the next day:
    OUT FOR DELIVERY
    ...and then (you guessed it!): A CORRECT COMPANY OR RECEIVER NAME IS NEEDED FOR DELIVERY. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION / THE ADDRESS HAS BEEN CORRECTED. THE DELIVERY HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED
    ...and then finally: DELIVERED
DELIVERED?? Huzzah, that's gre-- hold up.
Delivered On: 12/14/2010 3:03 P.M.
Signed By: $NOT_MY_PARENTS
Location:RESIDENTIAL
Delivered To: GALWAY, NY, US
Shipped/Billed On:12/09/2010
I have no idea who $NOT_MY_PARENTS is. Galway is -- according to Google Maps -- 10.2 miles from my parents' house.  GOOD JOB, UPS!!

So UPS -- that's the United Parcel Service -- left my wife's Christmas gift in the rain after delivering it to a wildly inappropriate location without protection from the elements. And then UPS -- that's the ups of www.ups.com -- shuffled one of my dad's $MULTIPART_GIFT across the continent twice and delivered it to me instead of him. And then finally, UPS -- that is, the well-known and now apparently corner-cutting courier who seems to have lowered the hiring bar on both coasts -- delivered the third part of my dad's $MULTIPART_GIFT to $NOT_MY_PARENTS in a town 10 miles away.

GOOD JOB, UPS!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Google Books

Google Books launched today. I'm a Googler so I've been using it for a while, and so far I like it quite a bit. But okay, whatever, you expect that from me. So here, at least, is an explanation of why I like it.




Rewind a few weeks. I'd been using Google Books for several months by now. My mentality had been: well it's neat, but you know... it's just a Kindle clone, right? And the book scanning project is interesting and cool, but whatever -- just a novelty really, or maybe of interest to academics and librarians. That all seemed sort of outside my world, so I wasn't paying much attention.


But then I searched for The Call of the Wild, figuring I'd reread a favorite book from my childhood. That search turned up something else: In the Maine Woods, a sort of half-travelogue half-advertisement published by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad periodically. This version was from 1906.


My family is from Maine. And not just like Bar Harbor here, I'm talking about Maine as in, Millinocket, Milo, Island Falls. Aroostook potato people.  My grandfather spent more or less his entire career at the B&A; he worked his way up to yardmaster and trainmaster in Millinocket. Millinocket was barely incorporated in 1906. The book talks about nearby landmarks but doesn't mention Millinocket because it didn't yet amount to much.

This book is hilarious, awesome, and fascinating. Not to mention all the incredible photos, like 2 guys with no less than 14 trout, wearing the dour portrait faces of the day. I can't adequately describe what it is like to read through this book about my family's stomping grounds apparently 104 years after it was published. I can't even really decide how I'm feeling about it.

This book was apparently scanned from Harvard's library as part of the book scanning project. Amazon has a print version of it, but it's a later edition, and costs $23. And anyway I had to look it up -- I would never have just found it, let alone read it for free. Finding this book at random like this was so unexpected but strangely meaningful, if only to me.

So, I get it now. This is what the Books scanning project is all about.