"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

About to comment here for the very first time?
Check Where'd my Comment go?!!! to avoid losing it.
-

Monday, January 25, 2010

New additions to "Websites I Like..."

-
I've decided to add Ann Coulter and Roger L. Simon to the list.

Why Ann? Why the Hell NOT?! I mean, LOOK AT HER!!! :-)

As for Roger; well, he's long overdue for inclusion.

I first noticed him, just before last summer, when a link pointed me to TALKING THROUGH MY HAT: How Ahmadinejad Made Me a Believer

I have never been much of a believer.
. . .
Until I went to Geneva, Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. I was there to cover Durban II, aka the Durban Review Conference – an attempt by the United Nations to ratify the results of its 2001 human rights conclave in Durban, South Africa.
. . .
But I didn’t realize the man who turned out to be the conference’s key speaker – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran – would be staying in my hotel. I learned that surprising fact from some Swiss security people only minutes before I saw the Iranian president face to face.
. . .
I heard screaming sirens followed by shrieking motor cycles when Ahmadinejad himself entered, accompanied by a phalanx of Iranian secret service, all of whom were larger than he. He was indeed a small man, almost diminutive, and marched straight across the lobby in what seemed at the time like a goose step a few feet away from me, staring directly at me while waving and smiling in my direction.
. . .
I was in the presence of pure Evil.
. . .
This was the guy that my president wanted to talk with?
. . .
I know I am being irrational here, so I will stop. Being in the presence of Ahmadinejad’s evil, fleeting and haltingly put me in the presence of something else
.
. . .

There's a Hell of a lot in those extended ellipses. Click on that link above to fill them in, and see what made ME a believer in Roger Simon.
-

Friday, January 22, 2010

On blogging, obsession, and being too full of one's self...

-
My previous post, congratulating Massachusetts for electing Scott Brown, noted Chris Matthews reaction to that as, "we need to keep an eye on this guy; I don't trust him."

I rebutted with what I felt was a really good zinger, about how I had a Hell of a lot more trust in a former Lieutenant-Colonel, who had served his country, than I had in a (fill in the blank) who endorses someone for Commander-In-Chief because of a "tingle up his leg".

The problem is, when I searched (and searched, and searched) using Google, Yahoo, Ask, Bing, whatever, I could NOT find any confirmation of him actually saying that.

I was sure I had heard him, but I have to admit that, when channel hopping among the news shows, the pundits all seem to melt together into the same faceless mass.

I cannot be sure who really did say it, but the search suggests that maybe I had the misfortune of stumbling across Glenn Beck, in full Jeremiah mode, with a really disgusting observation, "I don't trust this guy. You're going to end up with a dead intern."

WTF?!!!

Not being able to back up what I said, I pulled it.

I'd love to restore it; I really loved that zinger.

But, that is precisely the problem with getting obsessed with putting these things out.

By wanting, so desperately, to keep that comment alive and out there, I'm acting as if I'll never get another chance to do one as good. That demonstrates a lack of confidence in myself that's plagued me all my life.

Besides, the notion of not getting another chance, in such a target-rich environment as the current political landscape, is ridiculous beyond words.

Definitely time to drop this and move on.
-

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Congratulations to Massachusetts, and Thank You!

-
The title still stands.
I've deleted the body of this post, for reasons explained above.
-

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comment moderation has been enabled. :(

-
(Above the fold update - 09 Mar 2010 - I'm going to take a chance and disable moderation for awhile. We'll just have to see how that works out. Maybe I'll have to turn it back on, for the reasons noted below, maybe not.)

I truly welcome comments, and would like more of them, but if you choose to leave one, you will now find this little note on the comment form:

Comment moderation has been enabled.
All comments must be approved by the blog author.


So, I'll get an email and it will appear when I Ok it (which I'll almost certainly do as soon as I see it).

WHY?

Blogger.com's comments form allows anonymous comments, and a couple of those have been in the form of:

Some kind of silly and inconsequential message.................

in which each separate dot was actually a link to an Asian video porn site.

As I only have a dial-up connection, it's just not practical for me to access those videos and check them out for you, to see if they might be something you would like.

Sorry about that, but I gotta maintain some standards. This is just the price of my readership expanding from the single digits to the low double digits. :-)
-

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Ode to PayPal...

-
NOT an accurate title; I've no intention of attempting any poetry here. I just thought it had a nicer ring to it than "In Praise of PayPal" :-)

My previous post detailed the travails of an eBay purchase gone wrong.

It brought this email response from a good friend...
====================================================
Hi Paul,

I read your blog about eBay transaction. That's horrible!!!
I hope you continue fighting this one.
He's probably doing the same thing to many other people.
If I lost $300 it would hurt me financially too.


====================================================

To which I replied...
====================================================
Oh, I intend to keep fighting, all right.

You may have noticed, in the post, that I redacted anything that could identify him, or where he is, but I DO have that information. (At least, the name and address of the contracting company he owns.)

Options I have include...
1) Opening a case with eBay.
2) Doing the same with PayPal.
3) Possibly Small Claims Court.

(Still have some research to do on THAT one;

I understand that a claim has to be filed in the defendant's county of residence. That makes sense, so the court cannot be used to harass someone by compelling him to appear in person, halfway across the country from where he's at, or forfeit the claim.

At the moment, I only have his business address. If that's not sufficient, I could probably find his actual residence for a small fee (which I could maybe add to the amount that I would seek from him).

What I have to find out is the mechanics of filing such a claim when I live in Houston, and he is in California.

For that matter, I've yet to determine if a Small Claims petition can even be filed across state lines, and if it would be required for me to appear there (in which case I would then have to figure out something else).

So, THAT particular option is up in the air, for now, until I learn more.)

What I'd like most is for the item to arrive and be Ok.
Or, to get an email from PayPal stating that a full refund has been put into my account.

In either of those cases, as I promised him, that would be the end of it.

Otherwise, it would really eat at me to just let it go. That just ain't gonna happen.

I have to confess that I can be a truly vindictive S.O.B. if I feel that I've been wronged.

And, I DO feel that I've been wronged.


====================================================
After thinking about it a bit, I realized that I had been more than patient with this guy, had utterly failed to get his attention, and decided it was time to haul out a 2x4.

Thinking that PayPal could wield a bigger one than I could, and more effectively, I gave them a call, actually got to talk to a real live human being, and learned that, as to opening a case with eBay or PayPal, it's either one or the other.

He convinced me that opening it with PayPal would be more likely to get results. It would then become a matter between them and the seller.

They would contact him, and give him 10 days to either satisfactorily explain things, or to provide a refund. If a refund was called for, and the seller was unable to comply, he told me that PayPal would provide it.

Their web site has this to say about eBay purchases:

Buyers choose PayPal more than any other payment method on eBay.*
Here's why:
You're covered on eligible transactions
PayPal covers your eBay purchases for the full
purchase price and original shipping costs.


This is a feature that I probably read about PayPal when I first signed up, but forgot because, up to now, I've never had to take advantage of it.

A check of the eBay page describing my item shows these very promising words:

Coverage:
Pay with PayPal and your full purchase price is covered.


If you ever buy anything on eBay, using PayPal, that's a good thing to look for.

Here's their automated email response, received 11 Jan 2010...
====================================================
Hello Paul Gordon,

Thanks for contacting us. We're looking into your case and will decide the
outcome. Here are the case details:
-----------------------------------
Transaction details
-----------------------------------
Seller's Name: **** *******
Seller's Email: **@****.***
Seller's Transaction ID: *****************

Transaction Date: Dec 6, 2009
Transaction Amount: -$290.79 USD
Your Transaction ID: *****************
Case Number: PP-***-***-***
Buyer's Transaction ID: *****************
-----------------------------------
What to do next
-----------------------------------
To keep things moving toward resolution, your participation is essential.
As we look into the case, we may ask you for more information and you'll
have a limited time to reply. Please respond quickly so you don’t risk
losing a possible refund.

We'll try to decide this case within 30 days, but if the case is
complicated, it may take a little longer.

Of course, we can't guarantee you'll get your money back from the seller,
but we'll give it our best effort. For more information about how PayPal
investigates complaints, please review the User Agreement.

Sincerely,
PayPal


====================================================

FOUR days later (15 Jan 2010). they sent this email...
====================================================
Hello Paul Gordon,

We have concluded our investigation into your claim.

Seller's Name: **** *******
Seller's Email: **@****.***
Seller's Transaction ID: *****************

Transaction Date: Dec 6, 2009
Transaction Amount: -$290.79 USD
Your Transaction ID: *****************
Case Number: PP-***-***-***
Buyer's Transaction ID: *****************

You have received a refund via PayPal in the amount of $290.79 USD.

Sincerely,
Protection Services Department


====================================================

I then logged onto PayPal to transfer the amount
back into my checking account. Got this response...
====================================================
Hello Paul Gordon,

You asked us on Jan 15, 2010 to transfer $290.79 USD from your PayPal account to your bank account. We are processing your request.

The transfer normally takes 3-4 business days.
The money should be in your bank account by Jan 19, 2010.

We will email you if any problems occur with your request.

Thanks,
PayPal


====================================================

Checking on my account today (17 Jan 2001) disclosed...
====================================================
Transaction Details

Withdraw Funds to a Bank Account
(Unique Transaction ID #*****************)

Total Amount: -$290.79 USD
Fee amount:         $0.00 USD
Net amount:   -$290.79 USD

Date: Jan 15, 2010
Time: 21:03:39 CST
Status: Completed

Subject: Bank Account
Transfer to: ****** (Confirmed) x-****


====================================================
In much less time than they estimated, it's all done. I've got my money back, and as I promised that seller, THIS IS THE END OF IT.

I note several things from all this.

1) Like many careful business, they allow themselves a safety factor by giving conservative estimates on how quickly they can resolve things. Usually it happens much quicker than they say.

2) Although the rapidity with which funds exit my checking account raises hope that lightspeed may NOT be an ultimate barrier, movement in the other direction takes days. They say that banking rules are responsible for this but, tragically, I've gotten a bit cynical in my old age. I can't help thinking that interest on funds they are holding may have a bit to do with it.

3) When buying anything from eBay, or the many other places that accept PayPal, that is definitely the way to go. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

End of commercial for PayPal.

-

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Anatomy of an eBay Transaction...

-
Six years ago, when I was in better financial shape, I bought a Panasonic DVD recorder, which I used a lot and liked very much. But, lately it has been making poor recordings, with errors that make them play unreliably (if at all). I have stuff on its' hard drive, and other stuff on DVD Ram disks that are probably playable only on a similar machine.

One of the options I tried was to search eBay for an identical machine in good shape. I found one, and bought it (via PayPal) after the second email below (that replied to the first)

I have bought many things on eBay, without problems. They have a system where buyer and seller can provide feedback on the transaction (positive-neutral-negative), and a short comment. Normally, it works very well, but is no proof against someone changing after a long record of good feedback.

THIS is the result of such a change:
(His name altered to avoid preempting some of my options)
------------------------------------------
From: paulgordon1827
To: ebaymembername
Sent Date: Dec-05-09 17:12:58 PST
Subject: You've received a question about your eBay item, Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear ebaymembername,

What is the condition of this item?
Has it seen extensive use?

The reason I ask is that I currently have one that I bought new six years ago, and have made hundreds of dvd-r recordings with it.

Lately, the recordings often have errors.

It may be just wearing out and I'm looking at replacement as an alternative to having it shipped somewhere for an overhaul (if that's even practical anymore).

An identical model (such as yours) would allow me to transfer stuff from its' hard drive to yours, via the dvd-ram disks I also have.

So, I guess I'm wondering how much potential life remains in yours.

Thanks.

- paulgordon1827


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: ebaymembername [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 00:35
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear paulgordon1827,

I actually never hooked this unit up, so it's unused.

- ebaymembername


------------------------------------------
From: payment@paypal.com [mailto:payment@paypal.com] On Behalf Of service@paypal.com
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 11:08
To: Paul Gordon
Subject: Receipt for your PayPal payment to ebaymembername

Hello Paul Gordon,

You sent a payment of $290.79 USD to ebaymembername (**@*****.***)
Thanks for using PayPal.
------------------------------------------
From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 17:57
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Your eBay DVD Player purchase: get year(s) of care-free coverage

SquareTrade is offering a limited-time 20% off your warranty. For just $31.19, you are protected from losing your $275 item if mechanical or electrical failures happen during normal use.
------------------------------------------
From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 22:22
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Your coverage options on your eBay item: Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

SquareTrade is offering a limited-time 20% off your warranty. For just $31.19, you are protected from losing your $275 item.

------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 23:06
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

I was going to ask if this item had been shipped yet, and, if so, can it be tracked.

BUT...

Today (Mon, 12/14/2009) I just received my SECOND email request for purchasing a warranty on it (the first was on Dec 6).

Is this a pre-requisite for having it shipped to me?

Does it mean it hasn't even been shipped yet, and is awaiting purchase of this warranty?

- paulgordon1827


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2009 23:05
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Do you have any idea where it is?
Can it be tracked?
Thanks.

- paulgordon1827


------------------------------------------
From: hisrealname [mailto:hisrealemail]
Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 13:17
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Re: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

I will investigate this morning and get back to you

hisrealname-via Blackberry


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 18:11
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Last reminder to cover your eBay Purchase: Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Final Reminder of Warranty Purchase Option
This is your final reminder of the option to get 20% off a warranty on your recent eBay purchase.

------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 22:49
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Where we are...

Dec 06 - I buy, online, the DVD Recorder described in the subject, and pay in full (via PayPal) $275.00 + $15.79 (S&H) for a total of $290.79, and am told that this item will be sent, by UPS Ground, with an estimated delivery date of Dec 10 to 17.

Dec 14 - I send you a message asking if it has been sent yet, and if it can be tracked (my UPS experience is that delivery typically occurs within in the mid-range of their estimates).

Dec 19 - I send message asking if you?ve any idea of where it is, and if it can be tracked.

Dec 20 - Got your email stating you will investigate and get back to me.

Dec 23 - So far, no item, not one word. I am trying to live on early-retirement social security, and the meager earnings of a part-time job. $290.79 is NOT pocket change to me, but I have paid it (and PayPal confirms that you have received it).

Considering what I've just laid out above, if YOU were in MY place, what would you be considering right now?

- paulgordon1827


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: ebaymembername [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 14:58
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear paulgordon1827,

I regret the delay. A highly unusual set of circumstances has beset this purchase fulfillment that I won't bore you with as excuses. It's entirely my fault.

I havd two options for you-
I will issue a full refund plus $25.00 for your trouble.
I will ship the item tomorrow-it was not shipped as I thought it had been-but at half the price we agreed, plus shipping-as liquidated damages for not keeping up my end of the bargain. Please advise.

- ebaymembername


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 17:41
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear ebaymembername,

Sir: I offer a third option to you.

If the item was only DELAYED in shipping, and has NOT been damaged; that is if it is still in the condition you originally reported to me before I bought it, then go ahead and ship it, in a manner that can be tracked, and we'll adhere to the ORIGINAL deal. No price adjustment necessary.

If the delay was caused by some event that may have damaged it, then I'll go for your first option.

If the only screw-up was failure to get it shipped, I can forgive that. (Please keep this to yourself, but I too am capable of screwing up on occasion. :-)

Merry Christmas, and please keep me informed.
Thanks.

- paulgordon1827


------------------------------------------
From: hisrealname [mailto:hisrealemail]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 17:52
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Re: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Thank you-you have a deal. It will ship tomorrow. I'll upgrade the shipping speed at my expense. Happy Holidays.

hisrealname-via Blackberry


------------------------------------------
From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 18:06
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Message received and understood.
Over, and out.
Have a good one. :-)


------------------------------------------
From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010 20:35
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Sir: That was TEN days ago.

Questions...
1) HAS it been shipped?
2) WHEN was it shipped?
3) HOW was it shipped?
4) Have you a tracking number?


------------------------------------------
From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 09:30
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Today (Wednesday, 01/06/2010) marks one solid MONTH since I paid in full for an item I have not received.

12 days since you acknowledged failure to ship and promised it WOULD be shipped by a faster method.

I would really appreciate at least some information today.

Thank you.

-

------------------------------------------
From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Saturday, January 09, 2010 16:55
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

My patience has been exhausted.

After you acknowledged (On Dec 25, 2009) failure to ship my merchandise, I forgave you and offered you another chance; which you accepted and in which you promised to ship the item THE NEXT DAY, and BY A FASTER METHOD.

To date (Saturday, Jan 09, 2010) NOTHING. No merchandise, not one word, nada.

Repeated queries as to IF, WHEN and HOW it was shipped, and if it can be tracked, have been ignored.

Your reluctance (or inability) to answer those simple questions raises all sorts of alarms, as does the recent appearance of a negative feedback from another who also has yet to see his merchandise and still another who, while giving positive feedback, thanked you "for your honesty" making me wonder what happened there.

What the Hell has happened to you? Your behavior is completely inconsistent with your feedback record prior to this transaction. (For the money involved, you can bet I checked THAT before buying this item.)

The sum involved is not pocket change to one in my circumstances. You have hurt me, Sir, severely, and if you harbor some illusion that by simply ignoring me, I will get tired, give up, and just let it go, then Sir, you have mistaken my nature absolutely.

If I can get some solid information about when and how it was shipped, and I receive it soon and deem it satisfactory, THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT.

Or, if it has NOT been shipped, please refund (via PayPal) the full amount of $290.79 (note, at the moment, I'm not requesting a single cent more than what I am rightfully due), and when it is in my account, THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT.

Otherwise, I have not even BEGUN to consider my options. Letting go just ain't one of them.

-

------------------------------------------
And, that's where it stands, at the moment. I DO have several options, especially since I know where he can be reached, so we'll just have to see what commences.

UPDATE - The next post ( An Ode to PayPal... ) is a follow-up to this and has the resolution.
-

Friday, January 08, 2010

THIS should be the attitude of voters this November ...

-
H/T to A Cromwellian Speech In NY at Wolf Howling comparing NY Governor David Patterson's recent State of the State speech to Oliver Cromwell's.

On April 20, 1653, Oliver Cromwell dismissed Parliament, saying...

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth

“Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd; your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings, and which by God's help and the strength He has given me, I now come to do.

“I command ye, therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, go!”


ADDENDA
A very good and extremely intelligent friend commented on this in an email...
--------------------------------
Paul,

The Cromwell quote is from the time when he dissolved parliament and set up a dictatorship as Lord High Protector.

You know they dug him up and threw his bones in the Thames, he was that popular
.
--------------------------------

Even so, I'd find it extremely difficult to better encapsulate my feelings toward the current bunch running our country, and also towards the MSM, which seems to be equally deserving of it.

That old boy certainly had a way with words. :-)
-

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