Month: September 2014

Where were you?

Thirteen years and one hell of a shitty presidency have gone by. The presidency I reference is that of George W. Bush.

Anyhow that political dig aside – where were you when the events of 9/11/2001 went down?

Me, I was the Information Technology Director at the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General. Our first inkling that something was up was when we noticed out net connection was experiencing heavy delays. So I went upstairs to the Director of Administrations office and she was there along with a bunch of people all watching the small tv in her office. I got there just in time to see the second aircraft slam into the other tower.

Needless to say not much got done that day. We were all clustered around offices with televisions because the net service was as I mentioned, belly up.

But here’s the interesting part. Within a day or two we had a listing of every single Arab or Persian national in Rhode Island. Plus  after the attacks we were getting emails of weaponry that could be used on another aircraft hijacking.

Then a few months later we’re all headed down to DC for the SEARCH conference. When we get to the airport we had our official ID’s When the woman at the desk saw those her first question was “Are you armed?”. She got a big old no to that one.

Reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

So I’d learned of this book some time ago. But I filed it way in my head and finally bought the Kindle version yesterday. I’m about three quarters of the way through the book at this point. 

First let’s state the title again “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. 

One of the things that emerged – that when they finally got around to really studying the HeLa cells they realized that Henrietta Lacks was infected by several different strains of HPV-18. And the use of her cells ultimately led directly to the HPV Vaccine. 

Now I’ve let my ideas about the HPV Vaccine out there in older posts. I feel every pre-pubescent child should receive the vaccination. A whole host of gonad diseases could be prevented. But a new thing struck me. I know there is a push back out there against the vaccine out there. A lot of it based in the view of women as inferior to men. But reading this book a new element enters into it, I bet there’s a tiny strain of racism in the push against universal HPV vaccination.

Henrietta Lacks was in fact an African American woman, and in the book it’s made apparent. 

Thing is I’m not bothered by it. We’re all human, regardless of our skin color. 

But the book is a fascinating read. Essentially Henrietta Lacks cervical cancer that ultimate killed her, it was all caused by infection with multiple HPV 18 strains. In essence her cells have been responsible for a great many things. Prime of which in my opinion is the HPV Vaccine. But it was also used to study radiation effects on human cells, polio, and used to customize cancer treatments. 

But if you take it further – the immortality of these cells also helped scientists discover the purpose of telomeres on our DNA. And every time a cell undergoes mitosis or cell division, the telomeres  on the DNA shorten. Once they get to a certain level the cells undergo apoptosis. But when cancer strikes through mutation of the DNA by viruses, or radiation or the like, a substance they call Telomerase will rebuild the telomeres of cells. Essentially causing them to become immortal. 

So in essence we may have found the fountain of youth to some degree thanks to the cells of Henrietta Lacks. 

Go get the book. It’s a fascinating read into the person and the science of tissue culturing. And ObDisclaimer – I do I.T. work for a business that is essentially a tissue culturing and DNA sequencing firm. 

UPS: Know what REALLY pissed me off today?

The fact the UPS thinks they are the custodian of MY PROPERTY! That’s right the box and its contents were MY PROPERTY to do with what I please. That the bitch had the temerity to chase after me. Fuck her and UPS. They were simply the intermediary that I did not choose. 

Their excuses are laughable – signature required. They’ve done this to me before even though the SHIPPER didn’t request it. Fuck them. 

It’s my property – deliver it or you get the ration of shit from me. It’s that simple. But again and again UPS can’t seem to figure out that I want my packages to be delivered with no fuss, no muss nothing. If I have to go out of my way to claim my property then you’re gonna be told to go and fuck yourself. It’s that simple. 

I’m pretty ruthless with carriers and vendors. Part of it is that I know my shit and when they try to make it sound like I’m an idiot, it doesn’t go over well. Upon further reflection I should have signed the thing with “Go Fuck Yourself UPS!”. 

And I’ve been checking the track on the package, it’s still showing as held for pickup. Ha ha ha ha ha! 

UPS – no thanks!

So I went and waited over 40 minutes to get my package. About 20 was waiting in line another 20 for the woman to find the package. 

So as I pick it up the woman says “I need to see your ID”. I answered “No you do not.” Then it was “I need you to sign for the package” to which I replied “No I won’t. “

The woman had the temerity to follow me out in the parking lot at which point I told her to go fuck herself. I had my package, I don’t care if I fuck up your logistics system. 

So I got my sneakers. I contacted Reebok – they only ship UPS or Fedex. I guess I won’t be doing business with them again. 

UPS: So as of 10AM this morning

I’m going down to their depot in Warwick, RI at 150 Plan Way. They say my package is there. We’ll just see about that. This time I printed off the tracking page so I can slap it on the counter and say “Find my fucking package!”

They really are living up to the name Shit Wrapped in Chiffon. What can Brown do for you indeed? And they love the logistics of not delivering packages. 

I’ll update this later on. But what I find most boggling – that the item showed as out for delivery at 8:08AM but didn’t get the address error until 5:03PM. That’s awfully convenient. Nine plus hours in which they could have just delivered the fucking package. 

This is why despite the warts I love the United States Postal Service. They don’t play games. They get the job done. And honestly if the package is large they’ll simply leave me a tag on the door and I’ll go down and pick it up. The post office is about a mile from here. The UPS depot is 7.5 miles away. You see my point now don’t you. 

 

 

 

Yet another UPS Sucks Post

UPS still sucksSo I ordered a pair of sneakers. Track said they’d be here today. But guess what, no package. I check the UPS status and see this:

Yeah I’m not happy. I’m on hold right now but I plan to rip them a fucking new one. Why do vendors use this Shit Wrapped in Chiffon shipper? Attention Reebok — I hate UPS with a burning passion.

And more to the point, look at the attached image. Notice it left Warwick at 8:08AM but the address exception didn’t take place until nearly 6PM in the evening.

I ripped into them on the phone. Didn’t swear all that much, did yell a few times though. So now I have to go out of my way to pick up the package tomorrow. I’ve already let the folks at Reebok know I’m not a happy camper. I’ll likely get the shipping charge reversed.

But the fact I have to go through this nearly every time UPS tries to deliver something says a hell of a lot. They claim to love logistics. The only logistics they love is how they can fuck with their customers. Because they certainly can’t locate an address next door to a business that they regularly deliver to and pick up from and it’s the same driver who delivers to me. So they’re blowing smoke up my ass and I don’t appreciate it.

And funny of funnies – when I was on the phone with the rep I said that UPS is famous for tag and run but that this is a new twist on the theme. I got an acknowledgement on that one. So they know the drivers pull this shit.

Now to be fair the drivers they do stuff those trucks pretty full. And I can understand how they might blow a 2 day delivery because a next day job took priority. But be honest with your customers.

I mean in the past I’ve had UPS representatives say that residential deliveries happened after 5PM, then 7PM. But then the next day they’d try to deliver the package at 1:30 in the afternoon. Shit like that.

And it’s funny, I’ve been head hunted for positions in their I.T. department. I’ve turned them down every time. I don’t want to be a piece of a what was once a local delivery business in Chicago that has now grown to such a size that it’s like an unwieldy beast. Like a Hyrda with eight heads, none of which know what any of the others is doing.

The differences between similar cities

So if you aren’t aware I’ve been working in Cambridge, MA. Cambridge and Providence have a lot of similarities. And quite a few differences. 

We’re similar in the fact we’re both college cities. Cambridge has both Harvard and M.I.T., Providence has Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College and Rhode Island School of Design aka RISD. 

Both cities have major bodies of water that cut through them. The population of Providence is larger than that of Cambridge. 

Cambridge has a rapid rail system called the Red Line that runs through it – Providence is still stuck with stinking diesel buses that pretty much serves Providence and Pawtucket and everything else is on their own. 

Now at first I thought it was the tax rates, those in Cambridge are approximately what they are in Providence. But no, while taxes may be a component they’re not the major factor. 

The major factor is this – in Providence we do everything half ass. From road paving – the street I live on connects Atwells Avenue to Broadway and then further to Westminster St. The section from Atwells to Broadway was completely stripped down to the gravel base, repaved and then re-striped. But the half that runs between Broadway and Westminster has been stripped, and primary paving done. But there are still manhole covers that stick up some way because the second layer of paving hasn’t been done yet, and it’s been this way for weeks. 

Typical half ass measure. 

Then there’s the fact that I had to bitch to my city councilor about snow on city owned overpasses of I-95. Or that the current snow removal ordinance lacked any enforcement teeth. I worked with my city councilor and the law was changed – now if you refuse to clear your sidewalks the city will fine you, refuse to pay the fine and a lien will be placed against your property. And if it’s really annoying, the city will clear the sidewalks and bill the property owner. Refusal to pay also results in a lien against the property. Those are teeth my friends but I shouldn’t have had to agitate for it. 

It even extends to stores and restaurants. There’s a place near me – I won’t mention it by name but they’re also opening a pizza place on Westminster Street, that their food is awful. Yet people beat a path to their door. It’s like because our city and state government has accepted just good enough, so too the business community. 

In essence the key difference between Providence and Cambridge is the half measure. 

In all communities in Massachusetts at the beginning of the month all the streets are cleaned. In Providence it’s a rare occurrence. In Providence we muck out the storm drains just before all the leaves fall off the trees. I’ve made a racket about that one because I’d much prefer to have clean storm drains in the winter, spring, summer and fall. Wait until the leaves are off the trees, then muck out the drains. But in Cambridge, not only do they muck out the drains, they also scrape the stickers off utility poles, re-mulch around trees and the list goes on. Their DPW actually works. 

Part of the problem in Providence is that back in the 1980’s they moved everything to contractor basis. It’s time to bring it back home. 

So there’s my rant for the holiday weekend.