Thursday, December 28, 2006

"[Saddam] does not speak against 'hatred' because he believes these words, but because [we] do."

That is the most eloquent thing I’ve heard in a long time, especially in light of the context of today’s world. From commenter Pogo at Althouse.

I think you could make all sorts of substitutions for names and subjects and be just as accurate and eloquent:

Ahmadinejad does not speak against terrorism because he believes these words, but because we do.

Politicians do not speak against (or for) [insert any subject here] because they believe these words, but because we do. HA! This one kills me.

Go ahead, play along – even though nobody will actually read this and leave a comment, the world is still invited.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Orbitz Sucks!

Orbitz Sucks!

I purchase five plane tickets from Orbitz on June 6 and realized three days later that I needed a sixth ticket. When I tried to find a matching itinerary using Orbitz, I couldn’t. I decided to buy the sixth ticket on a different day and let my wife use that ticket and then change my wife’s ticket to the sixth person’s name. I had just purchased the sixth ticket and realized that I put the wrong name on the ticket. I couldn’t find a way to fix the name on-line, so I called Orbitz to see if they could help me. A recording let me know that I couldn't change the names on the tickets at all. At this point, I was really in need of some help, so I called the Orbitz customer service center.

I explained my problem to the "customer service representative" and she told me that I couldn’t change the name. I asked her if I could cancel the tickets and immediately re-book them under the correct name. She looked up my account and again asked me what kind of change I wanted to make to the ticket. I told her that I was trying to get the names straightened out and she told me again that I couldn’t change the name on a ticket. It was at this point that I realized she wasn’t very friendly and wasn’t going to help me. I asked her to cancel the ticket I had just booked, figuring I would find another way to straighten this out.

She put me on hold for several minutes while she called the carrier (Air Canada) to check restrictions. She then told me that the ticket was non-refundable, but that I could get a credit for most of the price of the ticket. I told her that I wanted to cancel the ticket and use the credit now, so I could book the correct ticket. Then, she got rude and told me to listen to her. She then said the exact same thing, I could get a credit for most of the ticket and there were fees for the carrier and Orbitz for cancelling the ticket. Again, I said that I wanted to cancel the ticket and use the credit. Then, she told me again that I couldn’t change the name on a ticket. I told her I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to cancel the ticket and use the credit. Then, she finally told me that I wasn’t allowed to do that either. The credit had to be used at the same airline for the same passenger. I repeated what she said, because it didn’t make sense – I could cancel the ticket, with penalties, but get a credit, but I had to use that credit at the same airline for the exact same passenger and nothing was transferable to anyone else, even me, the person that paid for it. At that point, I told her I didn't want to do anything and that I would call the carrier myself because she wasn’t being very helpful. She then got very rude and started to talk over me, so I hung up the phone.

I went back on the Orbitz site to book the correct ticket, thinking that I would try to use the credit for my wife on a future trip. I had difficulty logging on because that woman was still accessing my account. When I finally did logon, I found that I was able to cancel the ticket, without penalty, because I had just made the purchase. The representative never mentioned this to me. Instead, she tried to charge me fees, not allow me to get any money back for the ticket and give me a credit with restrictions that didn’t make sense.

My next step was to call Air Canada directly to see about getting another flight, since Orbitz had me annoyed at that point. I got a very friendly customer service representative that took care of me and added a sixth ticket with the exact itinerary as the first five I booked. He was based in Florida, was pleasant, helpful and took care of all my needs quickly.

I was stunned by the difference in attitude, the level of service and the overall friendliness of the customer service representatives. I was able to directly compare two customer service representatives within minutes of each other – one outsourced, one not. The difference was stark.

I decided to complain to Orbitz. The Orbitz web form didn’t allow enough space to enter my full story, so I just left a message there asking how to file a complaint. I got an e-mail from someone named Olive at OrbitzTLC saying to send the complaint to her. I typed up a long e-mail, explaining in-depth the issues and demanding that disciplinary action be taken against the representative. No one ever responded to the e-mail.

Orbitz had always been my first stop for airline tickets because they always had the cheapest prices. But, in one debacle, I nearly lost all of the savings from all previous purchases. I'll now be using the AMEX travel service. They kiss my butt up one side and down the other. It isn’t that I want that, though it is nice. What I want is access to relatively cheap tickets through a company that will help me solve any problems I have. I’ll pay a little more to make sure they get it right, rather than risk getting screwed. I am confident that AMEX will do that, as they have never failed me before.

Orbitz has lost some good money by ignoring me. Since then, I've traveled to Canada again, Florida twice, Missouri, California and Mexico three times. They missed out on fees for 8 flights. In 2007, I expect to book about 15 flights just for myself, plus others for my wife, mother and children. I also told all of my colleagues and they quit using Orbitz. I convinced one of my clients to write a policy that forbids the use of Orbitz.

Orbitz is losing a ton of money, all because of poor customer service (see here, here and lots of stories here). I hope that anyone reading this will avoid Orbitz as well. Purchasing plane tickets isn’t that common of a thing for most people. It can be a little scary, logging on to all of the various sites to compare prices. Trust me - pay the extra 20 bucks at Expedia or Travelocity. If something goes wrong, they’ll fix it and you won’t be screwed out of the entire cost of the reservation.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Donald's Pimp Hand is Strong


What more can I say? I've never really liked Rosie. The first I remember seeing her is as the host of some comedy club show. I thought she was quite annoying.

I will say that she plays good characters in movies. I'm not sure how much acting she is doing, since most of them are really just Rosie. But, credit where credit is due. Other than that, I'm not too interested in what she does.

Trumps big prediction about the falling ratings for "The View" is interesting. He's usually spot on about those things, so it will be interesting to see the outcome.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The new front

CAIR is calling for Muslims traveling for the hajj to report incidents of discrimination. They've even set up a hot-line to call. They win this battle no matter what, but I'm going to choose the method of defeat.

If the hot-line is used and many complaints are received, they will say something like "see, I told you we were being discriminated against." If LGF gets involved and the commenters and readers flood the line with crap, they'll say something like, "the discrimination is pervasive and bigots are harassing us.”

I like the bigot angle, so I for one will be calling the line as often as I possibly can to both run up the 800 bill in an effort to shut down the phone line or to tie up the line to limit the number of baseless complaints. If they are going to call me a bigot, so be it. I'd prefer that to the airlines lowering security in an effort to appease them. It is better to be a bigot than to be dead.

My personal feelings are that no Muslim can complain about being profiled or harassed if they are not speaking out loudly and clearly against militant Islam. They can speak by changing mosques away from radical preachers, supporting the victims of 9/11 and other attacks by making organized and high-profile donations to charity and by writing letters to the editors of local papers or starting blogs.

It is far past the time that the "good" Muslims take a stand against the "bad" Muslims.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Rangel Bunny

The Wall Street Journal is up to part five of "Responding to Rangel." It is like the energizer bunny - it just keeps going and going. I'm sure they could run the column on a daily basis and still not run out of things to print.

I'm thinking that the continuing presence of Rangel proves that the military is at least smarter than those people in his district - since they keep electing him.

Here is my reply.

Dear Charlie,

I say dear Charlie because you don't deserve the respect of a formal greeting.

I joined the military before I even graduated from high school. I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to be in the military, I wanted to get out of my small town, I wanted to see the world, I wanted to fight for my country. I spent six years in the military and met my wife.

While I was in the military, everyone told me to get an education – meaning the officers that I worked with – the officers that needed advanced degrees to get commissioned. I earned most of my two bachelor’s degrees while I was active duty – a large part of that due to credit received from in-service courses and training.

I’ve worked hard and moved my way up in my field and now I’m a high priced computer consultant. My wife retired from active duty as an officer and is now at the top of the GS pay scale. I put one daughter through college and am working on the second. I wouldn’t call myself rich, but I’m certainly extremely comfortable.

I have the money and investments set aside to pay cash for all of her needs while she is in college. But, that daughter surprised me and joined the Army ROTC program. It appears that she’ll get a full scholarship for the rest of her education. She doesn’t need it, she wants it. She wants to serve her country. When she finishes with the military, she wants to be in Federal law enforcement so she can help fight the war on terror. She has a twin sister that is still deciding what she wants to do with her life. She’s making the same statements I made at her age – get out, see the world, serve her country.

Gee, Charlie, that’s two generations that joined the military for the purpose of serving their country – even if it involves fighting in a war. I’d say that you are the one that is not too bright. You’re the politician and we all know that politicians aren’t very bright. If they were, they would earn a living in a real job, rather than raping us taxpayers, taking bribes and having everything taken care of for them.

Yes, Charlie, you are the idiot in this mix – not my wife, daughters and me.

Mommy, Kofi was mean to me.

Well, Kofi Annan retired, gave a speech and wrote an editorial. The whole thing would be funny if it weren't for the fact that the world suffered so much due to his weak leadership, corruption and indifference to everything except his perception of US hegemony. In his last days, he was more content to bash the US and President Bush so he could endear himself in Europe.

His tenure will be judged by history to be the most incompetent and corrupt leadership the UN has ever seen - and that isn't an easy task to accomplish.

Now, the UN can either recover with a strong leader or die with another Kofi. I predict that the next leader will be in the mold of Kofi and that the US will withdraw funding. Other countries will follow suit and the world will fall into chaos - all because Kofi was a sucker and started the fall of the greatest debate society the world has ever seen.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gee, I never would have guessed.

Here is the other side of the story. And, this reporter gets it.

Basically, the Muslim woman decided to pray in front of a bunch of lockers and blocked the other persons stuff. When the woman asked her to move, she ignored her and continued with her prayers.

I'd say this was a complete set-up.

Why was this woman exercising during prayer time anyway? Why did she pray in front of the lockers when there were other patrons there? Did she pick this person's locker, knowing she would be blocking access to it - in other words, did she pick a fight?

This is all very fishy. But, the bright spot is that some in the media are calling BS.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

End of the World

Iran's Supreme Leader seems to be dying.

Ayatollah ali Khamenei has kept Ahmadinejad in line since his "election." Politically, the Ayatollah is more moderate than Ahmadinejad and the two have struggled over the president's public remarks.

If the Ayatollah dies, Ahmadinejad will have no throttle to slow him down. He'll begin to keep his promises - the ones he made in all the letters he wrote. Most people don't realize the significance of those letters. They were warnings to us that basically said convert to Islam or die. He'll attack us and/or provoke us into a war within the next three years. That war won't be country against country, it will culminate in the clash of civilizations that we've feared - Islam against Infidel.

I think I’ll be an Infidel – even though I like the other sides uniforms better.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holy Cow - a comment!

Sorry, Noah, I'm not used to getting comments.

If you want to switch from Financial IT to something along the lines of national service, you'll have a pretty tough go of it. Your best bet is to try to join a company that has government contracts and hope that it satisfies your itch. But, if you want to get a decent security clearance, I'll let you in on a little secret - cleaning companies.

There are a ton of cleaning companies that work for the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, etc. Each person doing the cleaning has to have some level of clearance - some have very high clearances. Those companies are usually willing to hire an IT guy at a low salary in exchange for getting you the clearance. Once you have the clearance, jobs are plentiful. The higher the clearance, the better the job. Beware, though, sometimes clearances can take a very, very long time to finalize. You could be a janitor for six months to a year or more, depending on the clearance level.

There are two other avenues I can think of - Foreign Service and straight GS work. Take the foreign service test, since they are always looking for good IT guys. You can also apply for a straight government position and keep applying until you land one. Those are often hard to get, since there is a bit of a good old boy network happening, but eventually you can land one.

Good Luck!

Another Battle

This is another battle. I'm betting that this was somehow staged and that we'll find out this woman is associated with CAIR or some other group.

I'm sure that Muslims that are praying in public get harassed by bigots. Just as I'm sure that it happens to Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some bigot did harass this woman.

But, I'm confident that the whining and complaining are staged purely for publicity.

I'd also like to know the other side of the story.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bolton Resigns from UN.

I'm not sure I care about this. Bolton hasn't been nearly as divisive as his critics suggested. He also hasn't been nearly as effective at pushing reform at the UN as his defenders have suggested. It seems to me that he's had a rather average stint as Ambassador to the UN.

He did manage to accomplish a few things, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino. Perino said that among Bolton's accomplishments, he assembled coalitions addressing North Korea's nuclear activity, Iran's uranium enrichment and reprocessing work and the violence in Darfur. She said he also made reform at the United Nations a top issue.

I guess all of that could be considered as accomplishments, but it seems like all he did was talk and engage. He didn't really shake the place up, although he had plenty of time to do so.

My personal view is that the UN is a relatively worthless debate society that doesn't have the guts or the political will to do anything useful. With a genocide in Darfur and an inability to agree on combating terrorism, they aren't of much use.

Because I view the UN as a relatively worthless organization, I can't really get excited one way or the other about John Bolton resigning. Good luck Ambassador, I hope you don't take to sniping as other former cabinet officials have.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Buy Australian

Please, buy Australian. The Aussies deserve all the support, in every form, that we can give them.

Why do they deserve it? Because in the entire history of the two nations, any time that the United States has gone to war, the Australians have been at our side - EVERY time.

We've had political differences with Australia over the years. They don't like our nuclear powered ships to port there, they protest some of our policies and the relations with this or that president have been up or down. Often, they seriously disagree with the war or engagement we are entering. But, no matter what, the people of Australia have been at our sides when we needed it. They ALWAYS have our backs.

If you can't invest there or travel there or spend money there in other ways, just buy a bottle of Australian wine to give as a gift over Christmas or New Years. The bonus is that Australian wine is actually excellent wine. I host a series of work and social parties over the holidays each year and that is all that I serve.

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