The Notre Dame de Paris burned – April 15, 2019

Posted By on April 15, 2019

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One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Paris, France was gutted as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris France burned. The entire roof and main spire collapsed (below) along with what looks like significant 1024px-North_rose_window_of_Notre-Dame_de_Paris,_Aug_2010damage to the rose windows.

The heart wrenching images and video flooded social media streams and newsfeeds at people watched the huge structure engulfed in flames. 1280px-Notredame_ParisIt is so sad to see an historic landmark, an architectural piece of art, that stood for centuries destroyed. Very few Americans can relate to structures over 850 years old and built in medieval times – from 1163 to 1260.  The Catholic cathedral was modified throughout history and was damaged during the French Revolution, but underwent a 25 year restoration in 1845. Again in 1963 it required a renovation again, but this time partially to clean the centuries of soot and grime … and then again in for 9 more years of cleaning from 1991-2000. What a loss to see such a famous cathedral go up in flames – we can only hope it was accidental?

 

Music Monday: The Rascals and “A Beautiful Morning”

Posted By on April 15, 2019

TheRascalsGreatestHitsSince I drifted to the 1960s for Music Monday last week, why not stay in that decade for one more week? A_Beautiful_Morning_-_RascalsSpring is now definitely here in Ohio and we have had several “beautiful mornings” … even though today is a shockingly cold (37 degrees)taxday.” 

With that introduction, how about “A Beautiful Morning”  written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati and recorded by The Rascals in 1968. The single topped out as #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a Million Seller on June 28. The “beautiful” sentiment was needed in 1968; it was a very turbulent time in America. As far as the songs album release, it first appeared on Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits.
 

  The Rascals – A Beautiful Morning | 1968

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The (Young) Rascals: Felix Cavaliere Eddie Brigati Gene Cornish Dino Danelli

American exceptionalism and competition on local display

Posted By on April 14, 2019

8553506-elranchogrande_2010-29-04_2It is hard to believe our local El Rancho Nuevo Mexican Restaurant has been around for 9 years now (photo from opening in 2010) … but as the competition has increase, entrepreneurs have had to step up their game. This restaurant is one of the greatest small business example of why capitalism works: with increased local competition, their product had to improve. In the 9 years we have eaten there, MouthWashDispenser190407_mI’ve watched the quality of service improve (it was always good), food quality to be appropriate and the innovation, improvements and cleanliness stay ahead of the competition … of which there is plenty. All the local Mexican restaurants have had to compete for customers, making those that survive FAR better for customers (private ownership and competition works; capitalism vs socialism). 

El Rancho Nuevo, at least at this particular Cincinnati-Dayton Road location in Liberty Township, Ohio continues to innovate with small thing like bathroom improvements. It is so nice that I expected someone to hand me a towel. The cleanliness and pleasant smell was wonderful; the sinks have new waterfall faucets and there is even a mouthwash dispenser for those of us who enjoy salsa, but don’t want co-workers and customers to suffer when we return to the office.

It is this kind of next generation “legal immigrant owned” business in America that will succeed; it is a shining example of private ownership, free markets and small business competition that prove capitalism will work for next generation just as it has the previous – it is an example of rewarding smart-hard work and what sets the US apart … and one of the reasons America is exceptional. I’m so impressed to have such a noticeable example in our own backyard. 

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Gender roles and a repair estimate for our Honda Pilot

Posted By on April 13, 2019

Even in today’s gender-neutral world, there are duties, either said or unsaid, that married couples still assign to each other. One of them in our house assigned to me is taking care of our automotive issues … especially the ones nobody really wants to do.

One of this past weeks’ tasks was to take our 2006 Honda Pilot to the claims adjuster at a body shop (it was backed into while parked). Although “waiting” is something few people enjoy, there was a comfortable waiting room to read the morning newspaper … and of course tweet about it (now that’s disturbing; what have I become?)


Original Tweet (more…)

Small things have turned me away from Ebay and Paypal

Posted By on April 12, 2019

ebaylogoThe “customer experience” (a marketing buzz-term nowadays) can make or break companies. Some do it right, others fall on their face early in their start-up cycle … and others like Ebay ($EBAY) and Paypal ($PYPL) have employees, customer service departments and management issues dragging their company down … yes, this is going to be a “gripe” kind of post (a how-to business point too).

I’ve called a lot of customer service representatives in my lifetime. I’ve owned a small business since 1986 and have a wife who deals with people every day as a retail pharmacist … and I can easily tell well-managed customer service departments from those that are managed poorly and have employees who should not be dealing with customers. This week I stumbled on one who not only tarnished the company’s brand – Ebay, but also the payment platform their promotion was partnering with – Paypal. The managers should never have let this happen (she expected me to accept that there was nothing she could do and hung up when I asked to speak to a supervisor). When a retail-oriented company doesn’t manage the basics and loses touch with users because they have grown too large, it is easy to become complacent and forget customers are why they exist.

Here was my issue:

Ebay marketing “emailed me a coupon” to entice a purchase their platform along with using payment using Paypal by a certain date. I made a purchase, plugged in the coupon, but it failed to work … EbayCoupon190410triggering a call to customer service for assistance. Simple and common enough, right?

Yes and no … since phishing scams likely regularly use email to generate clicks, the customer service rep indicated that was probably what happened. I told her “no, this is your email” (I checked the sender metadata) and indicated it is also linked to Ebay’s servers and wanted to give her the URL. She did not want the link and suggested I not click it further. Of course, this is something savvy Internet users deal with every day.

I expected she would give me a replacement number or force it through with the minimal $5 couple credit … but nope. Just “don’t use the coupon” was her answer. So I did what experienced customers do, “may I speak with your supervisor or manager?” No answer … just a “click” dead air or dead hold … so I held on just in case the dead sound was from being on hold (it wasn’t).

My point to those in the customer service business – especially Ebay:

A lot of marketing and money is spent to attract customers and retain users like me who have 100% positive feedback – I have been one since 2001! To let your guard down and allow a $5 coupon annoy a long time user (both seller and buyer) does not speak well for a company wanting to attract more business AND investors (or the partner that this promotion). Perhaps I’m an isolated incident … but suspect it has more to do with the management and the culture that does not treat a customer as if they want to keep them.

Archiving a house for sale and testing OneDrive photo embed

Posted By on April 11, 2019

If you are looking for a grand home with too many features to mention and a lot of room both inside and out, look no further; 8000 Green Lake Drive in Liberty Township, Ohio is featured in the Pulse Journal this week and listed by Keller Williams Advisor’s Realty. (archiving photos in OneDrive – see below)
 

An of branded Smart Home plug fail … so what’ inside?

Posted By on April 11, 2019

SmartthingPlugInsideA Smartthings- like plug that I used with the Amazon Echo virtual assistant failed this past week, so I took it to the workbench in order to diagnose. I suspected that I was not really going to be able to fix it, but was curious as to what what inside anyway (sort of hoping, but not expecting that there would be a replaceable fuse).

Note in the photo (left) below there is a 12A chip/fuse soldered to the circuit board, but it is not replaceable … but has failed. I’m not exactly sure what may have burned out the 12A internal circuit, but the other smart plugs are working just fine.

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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