Siege has moved

May 6, 2008

It’s time to stake out some real estate in the big world (virtually speaking).  Siege Curmudgeon has moved to his very own site:
All my previous posts have been imported, and I’ll be doing my updates there in the future.  Hope to see you at the new address!


On Patience

May 5, 2008

Patience is a virtue.

I could do with a little less enforced virtue right about now.

It all began with an Amazon order.  You may (or may not) recall that I’ve posted about Amazon a few times in the past.  Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty happy with their selection and service.

This is starting to shift a little bit.

I ordered some products a little over a week ago.  And as a nerd, I’ll come clean; I ordered a memory card for the PSP, a game for the same, and a book.  You see, I have some travel coming up and I wanted to have some things to help pass the time on the plane and in airports.

TruckThis order — placed over a week ago — still has not shipped, which effectively means it has no hope in hell of getting to me in time for my trip.  This is annoying.  I wrote Amazon about it, and the response was a courteous version of “You chose the super saver shipping.  This basically means we can dick around with your order for the next week and you just have to smile and say ‘thank ya kindly.'”

Which got me thinking: the only way to get this so-called “super saver shipping” is to place an order of $25 or more.  If you do this (with certain products) it means you qualify for free shipping.  But that doesn’t mean that they give you free shipping; it means you can now choose secret shipping option #3, which gives Amazon the right to take obscene amounts of time to ship, let alone deliver, your product.

So why not just offer this up front, without the minimum volume limitation?  I mean, if you’re basically just pooling shipments and achieving efficiencies in your logistics, why use this to punish the customers who purchase higher average orders?  If I’m spending a lot of money on your site, and you’re going to promise “free shipping” for doing so, shouldn’t this actually mean that I get my product shipped free of charge, rather than that you’re now going to use the slowest, cheapest, most crap-assed way imaginable to get it to me?

Just a question.

The Vision Board

May 1, 2008

My wife has a lot of good ideas.

She’s been coaxing me for a long time to join her in creating Vision Boards for ourselves.  The idea is that you take a piece of bristol board or heavy cardboard or something, and then slap images all over it that symbolize the things you want in life. 

She first heard about it on Oprah, which was one of the reasons I resisted for so long — historically, I’ve not been a big fan of Oprah.  Partly because a lot of the people on the show, and the theories they present, seem to have only the most tenuous of connections to reality (Dr. Phil, anyone?).  But mostly because I don’t like seeing the big “O” stamped all over books that have been selected for her book club.  I have to confess, though, that as my wife keeps watching the show and I keep seeing bits of it, my opinion is changing.  I still wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I can grudgingly appreciate that Oprah does a lot of good and gives a great deal back to the planet.

The Vision Board, though, is a pretty good idea.  Granted, if you read about it at the link above, you’ll be left with a very new-age-ish taste in your mouth.  To me, the value of the board is that it makes you stop and think about what’s important to you, and then gives you a visual, persistent reminder of it daily.  It gets you in a mindset where you’re thinking “Is what I’m doing helping me achieve my goal?”

The nice thing about a Vision Board is that it’s not about material acquisitions or escalation of status, necessarily.  You may want to have some material things on there — a house, perhaps, or a car — but it’s also for capturing goals like a happy marriage or good health.  Basically, anything that’s important that you want in your life.  Which means that you don’t always have to be moving to be working towards your goals; you can take a rest and know that you’re contributing to your goal of being happy with your life, or taking time for yourself.

And now, before I risk turning into a complete Vision Board evangelist, I’ll sign off and go stare at my board for a bit and muse on the important things in life.  Like a Home Server.

I kid, I kid.

Airplane etiquette

April 28, 2008

I was on a plane back from Halifax the other night, and an event occurred which got me thinking about proper airplane etiquette.

The horrible fog approachesTo put it delicately, somebody in my vicinity tooted.  Lethally.  I’m sorry, I know the subject matter is a little crude, but it’s precisely what happened.

I had been sitting there, quietly reading Wired, gently breathing in and out, and on one of my inhales I got the distinct sense that something wasn’t quite right.  That sense rapidly developed to alarm as wave after noxious wave washed over me.  I was gasping for breath, clawing at the windows, wondering what in the great green earth this person had consumed to produce such a horrid stench.

The stewardess was at this moment moving down the aisle with the drink cart, and the funny thing is, even though it wasn’t my doing, I was desperately hoping that the fumes would dissipate before she arrived.  I did not want to be implicated as a culprit.  Implied guilt overrides actual innocence.

I know I wasn’t the only one who sensed the miasma in the air.  Nobody with anything approaching a sense of smell could have missed it.  If there had been a bloodhound in the midst of that fog, I suspect they would have turned inside out and croaked on the spot.  And yet nobody said a word, nobody even looked around, everyone just stayed studiously concentrated on whatever they were working on.  I didn’t even pull my sweater up over my nose, though I so desperately wanted to, for fear of drawing attention to myself.  Everyone would have assumed it was me, and the only person who would know otherwise would be the one who actually committed the heinous act.

So I got to wondering: is that the proper thing to do in such a situation?  Just pretend nothing happened and ride it out?  I guess at that point there’s not much that can be done to reverse it, but part of me wonders if maybe it was intentional, and there’s somebody out there flying the friendly skies and blasting really nasty gas and getting a great big chuckle out of it.

I’m too reserved to say anything in that kind of situation, though perhaps I should have.  I’d bet that experience knocked a full 2 years off my life.

Image by hoyasmeg.

Why does the gym have to open so early on Sundays?

April 28, 2008

We went to the gym again this weekend.  I think that makes twice that we’ve been in April, so for anyone out there who was looking for a role model or motivational buddy — I’m not it.

AerobicsBut I have to ask why the exercise classes are all in the morning.  On a weekend.  Honestly, wouldn’t turnout be better if you had it at, say, 4 PM on a Sunday?  It gives people a chance to snooze a little, laze about the house, and then maybe bolster up the courage to head to a gym where they can gather in a small darkened room and leap about swinging big weighted sticks at each other.

I am, not surprisingly, in great pain today, and I blame at least half of that on the fact that these classes are at a simply unholy hour on a weekend morning.  I blame the other half on the fact that they had one light on in the whole room during this particular class, so I was straining to see my hand in front of my face, let alone the ass of the person in front of me that I was trying to avoid parking my foot in during one of the particularly active leg exercises.

I have to believe that, in a few hundred years, achaeologists or anthorpologists or anybody who actually gives a rat’s ass about what we happened to do in our spare time in this day and age will look at this particular ritual in much the same way we currently regard the worship of cats.  Fascinating, but hard to fathom in one’s daily life.

Image by kk+

Gratitude – 04/28/2008

April 28, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Birthdays.  It was my birthday this weekend, and though I’m at the stage in life now where I don’t relish adding another year to my history, birthdays are a chance to indulge yourself and be mildly famous for a day.

2. Blogs.  Not just because I enjoy the chance to write, but because my has set me up with my own domain and theme for my blog.  This means I can finally add Google Analytics, which I’ve been eyeing enviously pretty much since I started posting.

3. The PSP.  To reaffirm my status as a huge nerd, I have picked up a PSP.  Given the amount of travel I’m doing, and how very boring planes and airports can be, I’m looking forward to having some movies and games to take along with me to pass the time. 

Gratitude – 04/23/2008

April 23, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Persepolis.  My wife bought me this as a surprise — and also because she had just racked up a fairly significant bill on Amazon, and figured she should get me something in the mix.  I’ve just started it, but it’s a great read and a very different experience than what you’d expect from a graphic novel.

2. Early summer mornings.  This one is a little bit complicated: you see, I really hate early summer mornings when the alarm first goes off.  But once I’m up and about, and have had time to get showered, have breakfast, drive my wife to the subway, make coffee, and send some emails, and then look out the window as the sun slowly shortens its shadows and begins its climb, I begin to appreciate the benefits of an early morning.  It makes me feel, just a little bit, like I’m at a cottage.

Of course, by the time I wrap up my last conference call this evening, I will probably be a little less excited about early mornings, but that’s a conversation for another time.

3. Twitter.  I’ve just started messing about with this, and must confess that I don’t fully understand the attraction yet, but I want to give it some time and figure out if it starts shifting the way I communicate.  In many ways, it does seem the logical progression or expansion of electronic communications.  First we had email.  Then we added instant messaging and shifted the weight of our communication to that.  Then we added text messages.  Now comes Twitter.  We’ll see how this plays out in my personal sphere of existence.