Category Archives: Shopping

An Open Letter to Pretty Much Everyone I Ever Bought from or Donated to Online

Dear Online Retailers:

I am so tired of you punishing me for having bought from you by automatically sending me marketing emails, often only days after the sale — even when I don’t check “YES! Send me lots of email I don’t want.”

For the record,

  • I don’t want a follow-up email asking me to give you a high rating on Amazon or some other platform;
  • I don’t want a follow-up email asking how much I love the product, doubly so if the choices regarding filling in the survey are “Yes” or “Later”;
  • I don’t want to know about your new items on sale;
  • I don’t even want a reminder, after a decent interval, to buy more of your consumables, although this at least is more forgivable.

Your Former Customer,

Michael Froomkin

P.S. And please don’t get me started on all the punishment I’m getting for having made some political donations.  Candidates from all over the US are sending me appeals for funds that look like they came out of one of the same pair of cookie-cutters. All opt-out, never opt-in.

It’s so bad that I am ready to give to the first candidate who sends me an email, even an unsolicited one, promising never to email again unless I reply. Although, come to think of it, if I do that, I guess I’ll get more email anyway…

Posted in 2022 Election, Personal, Shopping | Leave a comment

Five Random Mysteries

  1. A constitutional question. Why do people who think Donald Trump won the 2020 election think he’s eligible to run again in 2024, when the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution says, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.”? (Gary Trudeau wonders this too.)
  2. An ID theft ‘prevention’ question. What is the point of (for pay post-website-breach) so-called ID-theft-prevention services sending me notices that my email has been found on some (unspecified) hacker site and I should change my (unspecified) password? I have few emails and many passwords, all unique except the worthless ones. How am I supposed to figure out what to do? Why not send me the password if it’s compromised anyway so I could search my password manager and password spreadsheet and change it?
  3. A basketball question. Why does the NBA penalize teams for taking good shots that miss when it doesn’t penalize bad shots? The NBA uses a shot clock to force teams to move quickly to score. Ordinarily a team has 24 seconds from getting possession to attempt a shot on pain of losing the ball. If they miss but hit the rim and rebound, the clock is reset to 14 seconds. That makes sense if the offense took the shot with fewer than 14 seconds remaining on the shot clock, and matches how the clock is reset if the other teams fouls or kicks the ball when there are fewer than 14 seconds left on the shot clock. But unlike fouls and kicks, where taking the ball out on the side never costs a team shot-clock seconds but only adds to them if the shot clock is running down, when a team shoots with more than 14 seconds on the clock, misses but hits the rim, then the short clock is shortened to 14 seconds. This just penalizes a team for quick offense. The absurdity of it is even clearer when you consider what happens to a team that attempts a shot when there are more than 14 seconds on the shot clock, but the shot is so bad that it doesn’t hit the rim — that wild shot has no effect on the shot clock at all! The incentives are all wrong: the NBA should reward good shots more than very bad ones rather than the other way around.
  4. A religion in the public sphere question. How come more evangelicals don’t entertain the idea that COVID was a plague sent to punish us for electing Trump?. Goodness knows they’ve claimed all sorts of earlier natural disasters were chastisement for progressive policies.
  5. A shopping question. You have to figure Gatorade is suspicious given the origin story with U. Florida…but this bad? Maybe it’s a good thing G2 is missing from stores? And is lemon-lime G2 cancelled? It does seem to have gone missing from the G2 website.
Posted in Basketball, ID Cards and Identification, Law: Constitutional Law, Shopping, Trump | Leave a comment

Perils of Online Grocery Shopping

For health reasons, I’ve been doing almost all the grocery shopping online.

It isn’t more convenient, because the shopping process involves a fair amount of following along as the shopper ignores one’s fallback instructions and either does or doesn’t text for instructions. (I think of it as “the world’s worst video game”.) Unlike in-person, I don’t get much control over timing, as the shopping will happen some random time up to 3 hours before the delivery time. And the delivery window is also only notional; I suspect that the ratio of would-be shoppers to customers has gone down and as a result my often sizable orders with good tips get grabbed early. Indeed, they are often delivered well before the window I set, which can also make for conflict with online meetings and the like.

And it is expensive: I figure between the app’s markup over the store prices, and the tip, I’m paying at least 25% more than if I went myself.

And it’s frustrating when some types of things that I think I could find in person are not offered on the app. [Yes, there’s a ‘special requests’ mechanism, but it is a bit of a pain.] And it’s also frustrating when stuff theoretically on the app turn out to be not available, although I imagine that this likely would be equally frustrating in person too, given supply chain issues.

Today, however, I experienced a new online grocery shopping problem–or at least one new to me.

Amidst an order with several items, I asked for this:
chicken

I got most of what I asked for, but in addition to the chicken I asked for (or meant to ask for?), I also got (and got duly charged for), this:

chickenchickenchickenchicken

Yes, I got FIVE chickens. Five. I didn’t save a copy of the original order (I sure will from now on) so I can’t prove I didn’t do something to cause the app to record an order for a record number of chickens, although I can’t see how I could have done that.

So now I have five chickens. Guess I know what we’re eating this week. And next.

Plus I have a new appetite for chicken jokes. (Bonus: Painful chicken jokes from Iraq 2004.)

Posted in Shopping | 1 Comment

The Phone Rings…

Actual real I swear transcript of phone call a minute ago:

[Phone Rings Twice]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me (since this is 2nd such call in five minutes): This is tiresome.

[Loud beep on line]

Strange, possibly synthesized, voice: Goodbye.

[Call terminates]

sigh Maybe not even new?

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Beware the ‘Ghost Kitchen’

First it was fake small-batch bourbon, then fake craft beer, and now we have to look out for the Ghost Kitchens:

Enter the ghost kitchen—also called a virtual kitchen, virtual restaurant, cloud kitchen, or dark kitchen—a nascent internet-native business model that is spreading around the world.

When a virtual restaurant shows up in a delivery app, it may be indistinguishable from a brick-and-mortar pizza shop or mom-and-pop noodle joint, but it’s fundamentally different. The virtual restaurant is optimized for generating orders online and handing them to delivery drivers, and the name that’s advertised may not exist outside of the internet. Additionally, the menu and branding might have been created by a tech firm.

[…]

Sometimes a restaurant may advertise multiple menus under different names online but cook all the food out of one kitchen. That’s what was happening in April, when the story of one Philadelphia woman’s experience went viral. She had ordered from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings on Grubhub, thinking she was supporting a local independent restaurant but then realized it was owned by and operated out of her local Chuck E. Cheese.

Modern life under capitalism requires eternal vigilance….

Posted in Food and Drink, Shopping | Leave a comment

Pixel One Battery Replacement is Possible!

One of the more annoying things about the Pixel 1, aside from the Google Assistant that I had to disable on privacy grounds, is that it’s a sealed case — so no way to replace the battery. This started to become an issue a few weeks ago. It wasn’t just that battery life had gotten noticeably worse, you expect that after a couple of years, it was that the battery would go from c.20% to dead without any warning.

It turns out, however, that there’s an entire chain of Google-certified phone repair joints with the silly name of ubreakifix that will replace the battery in a Pixel in a couple of hours for about $80. That’s a lot cheaper than buying a new phone. I was afraid the thing would have horrible scars from being pried open, but no. “We have tools” the tech told me smugly, and it indeed there’s no sign the case has been opened, but battery life is 50% greater than it was last week.

So now I’m likely good until Google orpahans the phone, which could come as soon as in October, at which point supposedly they’ll stop doing patches for it. The idea of course is to make me buy a new phone. Sadly, it will probably work. I hope the Pixel 4 is better than the Pixel 3 or I may to switch to Samsung.

Posted in Shopping, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 4 Comments