United Is Going to the Dogs

Monday, March 19th, 2018

No longer content with only “re-accommodating” human passengers, United has recently taken to mistreating their canine passengers as well. It began last Monday, when they accidentally killed a puppy named Kokito. Against the airline’s own policy, a flight attendant forced his owner to store him in the overhead compartment, and he did not survive the flight.

Next, the airline shipped the wrong dog to Japan. That doesn’t seem like something which should even be possible, and yet, here we are. When the Swindle family went to pick up their German Shepard Irgo, they were instead presented with a strange Great Dane. That’s a hell of a thing.

The Swindles were in the midst of moving from Oregon to Kansas this week. They had sent Irgo on a cargo flight to Kansas City, but when they went to retrieve him, he was nowhere to be found. In his place, they discovered a Great Dane that was supposed to be en route to Japan.

While the Swindles had reason to be concerned, this picture indicates things were not too dire:

What a good boy! [Photo credit: Kara Swindle]

Irgo flew back from Japan on a private jet, and he looks like he had a great time. I hope he picked up some nice souvenirs for the family. Perhaps some of the many unique flavors of Kit-Kats available in Japan. He can’t eat them himself, of course, but they’d make a lovely gift. Still, exclusive chocolates or no, I’d certainly rather avoid flying 11,000 miles over two days just to get from Denver to Kansas.

On Thursday, United discovered were risking further ire from the dog-loving public, after they loaded a dog onto the wrong flight. To avoid any more bad publicity, the airline opted to fall back on their old habit of pissing off their human passengers.

The flight, originally set to go from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis, was diverted to Ohio to reunite the dog with his family, the Washington Post reported.

Yes, 33 passengers en route to St. Louis, were instead diverted to Akron so a dog could be delivered where he belonged. And lest you think this was a quick detour, apparently the flight spent an hour and a half on the ground in Ohio. Passengers eventually arrived in St. Louis approximately two hours late. I love dogs, but I’d have been more than a little displeased.

It really seems like it should be possible to run an airline without killing dogs or mistreating passengers, but United’s example tells a different story. Only time will tell just what their next foul up will be.

Rock Musicians Using Complex Spreadsheets 

Friday, March 16th, 2018

In the past decade or so, indie rock band OK Go has made a tremendous collection of videos to accompany their songs. Yesterday, they unveiled a new project, the OK Go Sandbox.

Here’s part of the band’s announcement, providing some background:

Over the last few years, we’ve received an increasing number of messages from teachers who show our music videos in their classes…We’re super proud, but we’re also just kind of shocked.

These teachers are heroes. Rock videos aren’t the first place anyone would look for educational material, so when one of ours shows up in a class, we can be sure the teacher has gone actively exploring unexpected territory for wonder and inspiration to bring back for their students. That’s noble. They’ve dedicated their lives to the betterment of others. We, on the other hand, spend our time playing guitar and shooting confetti at people and trying to weasel our way onto zero gravity planes.

So we’re trying to step up our game here. We want to help…So far, we’ve made a handful of videos that focus on concepts underlying three of our videos, and there are lesson plans and other teacher resources posted with them. You can check out everything at OK Go Sandbox.

Teachers, we’re very excited to see how you use these materials, and anxious to learn from you what’s working, what’s not, and what you’d like from us in the future. We want this project to be ongoing, so please don’t hesitate to send us your comments and suggestions.

I know I’ve got at least a few teachers reading, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to poke around the site. OK Go fans, and nerds in general, are also likely to enjoy the behind-the-scenes looks which show how some of these videos were made.

Previously in OK Go videos: Gravity’s Just a Habit

Get Your Goddamned Shit Together, Sears

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Recently, I had to purchase a new washer and dryer. Sadly, Sears proved to be the best option for this. Thankfully, the units were on sale, and Sears heavily advertised their free delivery when ordering online. For example, this was on the initial product page:

After adding the product, the free nature of my delivery was again emphasized on the cart page.

Still another note came as I was checking out.

Shortly after, I saw this:

Upon seeing this, I very nearly bailed on my entire order, on principle. It’s absolutely absurd to tout “free delivery” over and over, then require the recipient to allow you a 14-hour window in which to deliver. Sears, this is complete and utter bullshit, and it is no surprise that you’re shuttering dozens of stores as you continue your rapid slide toward irrelevance. Know that I opted against the five year warranty you offered, because I’m not at all convinced you’ll even exist in five years.

Still, I’d come so far, and I didn’t want to start over with another store. With a sour taste in my mouth, I completed the order. Little did I know that this “free delivery” bait and switch would not be the most disgusting part of the process.

Instead, that came shortly after I finished the purchase. Once my charge was approved, Sears texted me. This is what they sent:

A text message reading Thanks numberal 4 letter u letter r order

I was speechless. Why in the name of Nokia’s collapsed marketshare is Sears using textspeak like a lazy early-aughts teenager? And let me head off anyone who might mention the character limits in text messages by saying that one, they could have shaved 16 characters right off the top by removing the prefix, and two, sending multiple texts would be far superior to this travesty.

“Thanks 4 ur order”? I should have cancelled the whole damned thing as soon as I saw that. I dearly wanted to, but even more, I didn’t want to go through more hassle in a futile attempt to teach these dunces a lesson.

Instead, I’ll just publicly shame them here. Be better than this, Sears. A text like this gives me no confidence in you whatsoever, nor in the products you’ve just sold me. Shame, Sears. Shame.

Nice Work If You Can Get It 

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Something is rotten in the state of Alabama.

Maybe They Can Gamify Tantrums Next 

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Netflix, this is gross.

Here’s to Hitmen 

Monday, March 12th, 2018

The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

Quite a Coincidence 

Friday, March 9th, 2018

During last week’s storms in the northeast, two photographers independently headed to New Castle, New Hampshire to capture some pictures. Shortly after, things got weird.

Are these really two different photographs?

Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Divorce Sale, Russell! 

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I guess if you think it’s a good idea to get married on your own birthday, you might also think it’s a good idea to have a divorce sale.

The sale is titled “The Art of Divorce” and the cover of the auction catalog featured a tuxedo-clad [Russell] Crowe raising a cocktail at the reader, as if he’s personally inviting you into what amounts to a very fancy garage sale.

Don’t miss that picture of the “Cheers!” Russell’s giving.

Front-Facing Simpsons Characters Will Haunt Your Dreams 

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Front-facing Simpsons characters are one of the most disturbing things the internet has shown me recently.

A horrifying image of Mr. Burns looking directly at you
Moldy lemons, that’s horrifying!

A Brief Time on Earth Offering Up Joy 

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Balloon artist Deborah Fellman has terminal cancer.

[Deb’s] telling two of our fellow balloon artists about a wacky new design she saw.

“He made these reindeer blasters,” she says. “Oh, we were dying!”

We freeze. And then Deb says, “Well, me literally.”

To honor Debs, a devoted group of friends and colleagues gathered from around the country to help create a mammoth, 20,000 balloon display in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. It’s a beautiful story.