Another day, another hobby… As most avid readers know, I’m a bit of a craft beer nut. Whenever we travel, we try to fit in as many local breweries as we can, and I’ve been known to frequently visit Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Dunedin, Punta Gorda and other “local” (read: less than 3 hour drive) locals to hit Florida breweries.
But you can’t travel everywhere, and you can’t try every beer. If only I could ship Florida beer in exchange for local treasures in other cities and states!!
So far, I’ve traded a total of 5 times. Thanks to BEX, I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with Chris and Tim in south California, Mike in New Jersey, E. in Michigan, and Ross in Louisiana. For local favorites like Funky Buddha, Cigar City, JDubs, and Big Top I’ve received over a dozen different local favorites from 4 different cities for just the cost of shipping a box!
In the spirit of furthering the cause, I decided to share some of my beer exchanging tips. (Additionally, there is a fantastic document on how to pack and ship beer here.)
1. You are not shipping beer. Shipping alcohol requires an over-21 signature on the sending and receiving end. And it’s generally a lot more expensive. On the outside of the box, or if they ask, write/say “glass candles” or “liquid yeast samples” (not technically a lie).
2. Good advice for many activities, Wrap it up! Be sure to wrap each can/bottle individually and then all together. Remember, if one bottle breaks and leaks, most shipping companies will throw out the whole box. So one ziplock type bag per can/bottle is a good idea.
3. Using rubber bands instead of taping the bubble wrap is handy for the receiver, because he/she can use the bubble wrap again!
5. Beer traders are awesome people. Include a few extras! I always include a few additional Florida beers in the box, and a nice note for that “personal touch”.
So, get out there and score some local beer, and then sign up on TheBeerExchange (it’s FREE).
Be sure to look me up when you get there, as expected I’m “KeyboardDevil”. Also, be sure to drop my new friends Chris, Tim, Mike, E. ,and Ross a line. They’re great traders and will take good care of you.
Forget about waiting on the big distributors, let’s make local beer accessible to everyone right now!
When the last big retail hack took place, ironically I think it was Target, I signed up for a Google Wallet card so I could put a layer of protection between my checking account and would-be thieves. So far the card has been pretty handy. You can add funds directly from your bank account with no fee, and even transfer money to friends via email. Pretty snazzy!
Earlier tonight I tried paying for my beers at the local World of Beer here in South Florida only to be declined. Not that this was a new development, my Google card gets declined all the time. So, I pick up my phone, open the Wallet app, and move over some funds.
But when I pulled up my transaction history, there was a $140.02 charge (the exact amount in my account, down to the penny), posted today, from a Target in Kissimmee, FL (home of Disney World, and surrounding shitty neighborhoods), which is 150 miles from here.
So, someone managed to get their hands on my Google account information. Looks like my paranoia paid off! Anyway, time to call the Google Wallet support line at 855-4-Wallet (how professional!) and report my issue.
And, here’s where the Google monster falls down. Had my bank identified a faulty transaction (which they have a few times in the past) there would be an immediate lock-down on my account, an investigation, and a full refund, all before I hung up the phone. But, that’s not what happened.
“Sir, I’m sending you an email with a link to our dispute form, which I encourage you to fill out right away.”
And what about my account? You know, the one connected to my checking account. Was it closed and locked? Nope. Disabled, or suspended? Nope. Customer service lady (who was very nice) told me she couldn’t do it. I had to do that from the app, on my own. Thanks Google!
Definition: 3 great cartoon shows followed by 6 hours of live-action shit jokes and random screaming we’ve told you is funny separated by commercials about nothing written by 6 year-old mental patients.
Like many others in the non-NYC area, I skipped over an article on CNN talking about cat-calling and street harassment aimed at women in the city. Like much of the rest of the US, my “left vs right” internal argument falls somewhere in the middle but I still managed to imagine the thinnest of liberalized arguments making a few uneducated, third-world-transplant construction workers generalized as everyday Americans. “Oh, stop fucking crying” I thought.
Then I watched this video, and I was mind-blown.
After you get past the stupid shit people are saying, and even the mind-boggling rate at which it is being said, there still remains a creepy and obvious threatening overtone. This is most apparent when watching her eyes as a barely-controlled panic sets in, darting from side to side and back to the camera in the man’s backpack for some kind of reassurance that she is safe from pending attack.
Although it is clear from the video that this approach is likely not resulting in “hook-up’s”, this has become an issue and reportedly is getting worse. This can only lead me to believe that it is either working (these me are actually getting dates with this behavior), or the power-shift is so addictive, men are willing to take the chance of being pepper-sprayed to continue it. Either way, the story is compelling (albeit, disgusting) from a psychological point of view.
Another hour and a half out of my life, wasted on the ever-sucking ass-hats of Comcast. Due to the seemingly reasonable rational of being completely exhausted of paying over $240 a month for cable that I barely use, I contacted Comcast-Xfinity via web chat. I should mention that this is my preferred method of contacting them as I frequently feel the need to stomp away angrily and scream obscenities back at the agent who is trying to “help” me. My original purpose was to remove all of my premium channels and stick with the basic cable line-up. What I didn’t realize was that the “basic cable” line-up is far from what you’d expect.
Anyway, the channel line-up options are in what basically amounts to three flavors:
As you’d expect, the price difference between the first and second options is massive while between the second and third is actually pretty reasonable (once you get past the ass-raping of the pricing).
Now, if you add the home phone service, which even my grandmother doesn’t use, you’ll “save” even more. The chat agent mentioned to me, more than once, that I had the option of just ‘not plugging in a phone’ even though I was receiving (and paying for) the service.
Anyway, at the end of my “experience” with the chat agent, I was asked (as I usually am) to take a “quick survey”. If you’ve read my other Comcast blogs, you know I can’t resist. Here is the actual text of the “comments” at the end of the survey:
Firstly, I’m convinced that no one reads these, but whatever maybe I’ll feel better after I type it out. The cable channel combinations are obviously set up to suck every last penny out of your customers with no concern for offering packages that people actually WANT. What the hell is the tennis channel? SERIOUSLY? I had 200 channels I never watched before the chat, and now I have some 140 channels I’ll never watch just to save a few dollars while keeping the ability to watch the few shows I actually DO want. And, that was no small feat, only accomplished by spending the last 1 and a half hours on a chat with your basically useless agent. This is the last time I’ll be changing my service. Once I’m used to using services like Hulu and Netflix, I’m leaving for good. I hope, truly and faithfully, that Comcast goes out of business completely. You know what? I DO feel better now.
In what I can only guess is an attempt to continue the stereotype that Americans are either too stupid, too removed from reality or both, Infinity has created this TV commercial featuring what, by all accounts, can only be described as “that guy who is the cause of every traffic accident, ever”.
The commercial shouldn’t include the disclaimer “professional on a closed course“, maybe more like “fucking idiot trying to kill everyone else on the road“.
Touting this car’s ability stop you from running soccer-mom-vans full of sticky-fingered children into a roadside creek is insulting and irresponsible. Congratulations Infinity, the only one-up to including anti-dumb ass technology in your cars is this commercial showing it off with captain-crash-a-lot.
In 2000 I bought an MR2 Spyder. I’ve written about it so frequently because it is probably the most reliable car I’ve owned. Especially when you consider that I drove it to work, 100 miles every day, and auto crossed on the weekends for over 130,000 miles. The only thing that ever broke on that car was the plastic thing that holds the hood prop when it is closed. I literally raced that little economy engine every weekend, at red line. I changed the oil and tires at almost the same rate, modified the holy hell out of the suspension, and that little bastard kept ticking with it’s little 138 hp smile.
Frequent readers know that I’ve owned two Nissan Z’s. Neither of them ever even saw a race track, auto cross, Dragon trip, or drag strip. Not even once. My first, the 350 Z was an 05 that ate through a clutch master cylinder ($350), front and rear rotors (before the 50k mark) ($400), a power window motor ($400), a rear-hatch strut ($80), and other various items. I was stuck on the side of the road with a broken 350Z a total of two times. After about 5 years of not learning my lesson, I picked up an 09 370Z which is my current (soon to be last) Nissan.
I purchased the second Z in 2011 with less than 20k on the clock, and by the end of 2012 I had already replaced the clutch master cylinder, the clutch, a bunch of transmission seals, and all of the transmission oil because of its decision to explode and hemorrhage fluid all over everything. This occurred somewhere in the 30-40k range, and manifested during my drive into work cruising down I-4 in regular traffic. Again, stranding me road-side waiting on a tow truck. In 2013 came the brake/rotor replacement that we’ve all come to expect from Z’s at about the 40,000 mark (all four rotors!). And later this year I was again blessed with another road-side, phone-a-friend, couldn’t-happen-at-a-worse-time incident when the security system fouled up while I was visiting my parents 150 miles away from home which cost me another $1600 plus a rental car, and two days of my time. Fast forward to this weekend (it’s like a gift, every year!) and ye hath received the holy trinity of Nissan Z-bullshit. As we were headed to dinner, the engine’s revs dropped dramatically and the engine moaned bloody murder as the fan belt drive on the AC compressor started its painful and audible slow death. My first reaction was to shut off the AC, which managed to get us to and from dinner and me to work the next day. But, as the serpentine belt’s screeching became more frequent, I knew it was time for another visit to the trusty dealership. I barely made it into the service garage with the 3.7 liter engine fighting with all its breath to overcome the inevitable full seizure of the accessory belt. After which, I was immediately thanked with a $1700 bill.
So far, this “reasonably priced sports car” has left me stranded, road-side, 3 times and cost me almost $6000 in repairs to systems that should not wear out on a car with less than 85k on the clock.
Anyway, if you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be test driving Subarus and trying to forget ever owning a Nissan.
I’ve had a Craftsman 3/8″ torque wrench for about a year and a half, maybe two years. It’s one of my favorite tools in the garage. In fact, take a look at the photo on the left and you’ll see me using it on my bike with a great big smile. Every semi-serious shade-tree mechanic needs a good torque wrench, and generally they last forever. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll rarely find a good one for less than $100.
I buy Craftsman tools because Sears stands behind its products (well, usually). Craftsman hand tools have a lifetime warranty, and I’ve personally returned more than a few. Suspension work frequently results in broken sockets and ratchets and Sears has always been great about returning them. But not all tools are created equally, and some of them, like torque wrenches, are only covered for a limited time.
Last week, I lent the wrench to a friend who managed (somehow) to break it. The grip became loose and the wrench’s torque set was stuck somewhere around 15 ft lbs. Now, I know that Sears only guarantees wrenches like this one for a year, but I figured what the hell and brought it down to my local store. I’ve read mixed reviews lately about returns, but my experience was nothing short of awesome. While standing in line, a sales associate and a guy in plain clothes approached me and asked if they could help.
When I explained the situation, the sales associate told me that the wrench was no longer covered. It was clear he recognized the older model and knew its age. I thanked them and said, “well, see if you can find a trash can to throw this into, then?” and handed over the wrench. That’s when the plain clothes guy stepped in and said “let’s see if we can figure out when you bought this wrench” and smiled at me. We walked to the nearest computer and he looked up the part number, and then asked me if I was a Craftsman Club member, which I am.
He never asked for my name, phone number, address or any other identifying information. He said to me, “so you bought this no more than a year ago”, without even waiting for my reply he looked at the sales associate and said, “swap him out, and make sure this one gets labeled as a return”. On my way out of the store, I stopped and shook the hand of the plain clothes man (it was clear now that he was a manager or supervisor of some kind). He smiled at me and said, “thanks for coming in, it was my pleasure”.
The price tag on the wrench was $69.99, and for a one-time investment, Craftsman has created a customer for life. I’ve spent thousands on tools, boxes, and benches over the years, and when Sears had the opportunity to do customer service right, they nailed it. Someone from Sears seriously needs to call someone at Kay’s.