The Case for Detroit

First off, I’d like to congratulate the Boston Celtics. They certainly fought a hard battle, and they did well in the playoffs. Boston’s a good team, and they had a good run. However, the leaders of the Eastern Conference should ignore the outcome of the conference championship (as is their God-given right as free men and AMERICANS), and send the Detroit Pistons to the NBA Finals.

Sure, Boston had a 66-16 regular season record compared to Detroit’s 59-23. But you can’t look at the whole season – you have to give the most weight to the recent contests. They both ended the season on a four game win streak, so isn’t it really a wash? And what about the playoffs? Boston lost 8 games in the playoffs, while Detroit only lost 7. Ouch.

Also, Boston’s regular season advantage existed primarily in road games, where they were 31-10 to Detroit’s 25-16. The two teams were nearly identical at home. And who has home court advantage for the NBA playoffs? Why the Eastern Conference champs, of course! So Boston has only performed better than the Pistons in the types games that are going to matter least in the championships. They should be called the Boston Paper Tigers.

Boston has very little high level playoff experience. The Pistons made the conference finals in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and won the conference championship twice during that period. Boston has only made it as far as the conference finals once in the last 20 years. Look, maybe in four more years Boston can amass the Pistonesque experience that you’d need to get involved in such a stressful situation as the NBA Finals but right now it just seems too likely that they’ll crack under the pressure.

For those who say that it would be unfair to overturn the results of the playoffs, I counter that it would be unfair not to take into account the preferences of the people of Michigan. Who cares what the rules say? Rules that ignore the will of Michigonians are like apartheid, Jim Crow laws, female voter disenfranchisement, and the civil war in Zimbabwe. Michigan represents the heart of America… working class white folks who build American cars. What does Boston have? Over-educated, clam chowder-eating, latte-sipping yuppies.

At the end of the day, shouldn’t the Eastern Conference send the team that has the best chance of beating the Lakers? That team, my friends, is the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons know how to match up against Kobe and in fact ended the Kobe-Shaq dynasty when they beat the Lakers in the 2004 NBA finals. 

Rasheed Wallace is ready to lay the smack down on Kobe… just give him that chance.

When you really step back from the hype and look at the facts, it’s clear that only one outcome would be both fair and give the Eastern Conference the best chance of taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy.  I implore you, the leaders of the NBA Eastern Conference… nay, I beseech you… send the Pistons of Detroit to represent you in the NBA Championships of 2008.

Thank you for your time.

Pizza Hut: Now Theoretically Serving Pasta

Friday night, we had a couple of friends over for dinner. Michelle and I weren’t going to be able to have time to cook, so we decided to try the pasta from Pizza Hut, since we’d been seeing the commercials on Top Chef and we’re very vulnerable to commercials.

3:30pm: I place an order online for the chicken pasta, to be delivered at 6:30pm.

6:45pm: no pasta. I call my local Pizza Hut (this is the one) and talk to a guy who identifies himself as Aaron. He tells me that the pasta is ready to be delivered but he just needs to get his delivery guy back to the store, so real soon now.

7:15pm: no pasta. I call Pizza Hut again and talk to Aaron again.

“Hi, I still haven’t seen my pasta.”

“It’s going out for delivery now. You should see it any minute.”

“Yeah… so I was supposed to get this at 6:30. I’m not real happy about the delay here.”

“I’ll zero out the charge on this.”

“OK, thanks.”

I’m pretty sure the pasta’s never showing up.

7:30pm: no pasta. I run across the street to Vons and get one of those cooked chickens instead. We eat.

8:30pm: no pasta. I call Pizza Hut again. We’ve already eaten, but now I’m kind of pissed off.

“Hi, I ordered pasta for 6:30 delivery and I still haven’t seen it.”

“Let me look up your order… oh, ok, it hasn’t been made yet.”

“That’s surprising. I was told earlier that it was ready to be delivered. How could it be ready to be delivered if it wasn’t cooked?”

“Sir I’m just telling you what I see in the system. Your ticket is right here–number 128. One chicken pasta.”

“Is it common for people to be told their food’s about to be delivered when it isn’t even made yet?”

“I don’t know who you talked to, maybe it was someone new who doesn’t understand the way the system works… it’s been a really busy Friday for us what with the rain and all and we’re way behind but we’ll get this out to you as soon as we can.”

At this point I should bring up that the dialog in this post is all from memory and condensed a little so you won’t have to read me saying the same thing five times, but as a rule I try my very hardest not to be a dick on the phone to the pizza place. I used to work at a pizza place, you see, and I saw what happened a couple of times to a really mean customer’s order, and it wasn’t pretty. We’ve all heard stories. So I was really trying hard to communicate my rising dissatisfaction in a mystified, ‘I’m so confused, how does this jive with what the previous guy told me’ way rather than a ‘what the hell is wrong with you people’ way.

“It’s been two hours and I’ve been told twice that my food was about to be delivered and now that I find out that this was impossible… I’m unhappy about this.”

“I understand. We’re still really busy but we’ll get this to you as soon as possible, and what I’d recommend is that you call back in an hour or so when things calm down a little and ask to speak to the manager and tell him your situation and we can see what we can do to make it right with you. Just ask for Aaron.”

“Wait, Aaron is my buddy! I’ve talked to him twice! He’s the guy that said my pasta was all ready to go. Now I’m really confused. Is Aaron a new employee?”

“Sir, I can’t explain that but he’s the guy you will need to talk to.”

“OK, thanks.”

10:15pm: no pasta. Damn it, Pizza Hut, come hell or high water you and I are going to see this transaction through.

“Pizza Hut, this is Brandon.”

“Hi Brandon, can I speak with a manager?”

“I’m a manager, sir. This is Brandon.”

“I was told to ask for Aaron.”

“Aaron left at 6:00.”

“He did? I talked to him since then! I had an order of pasta for 6:30pm and I’ve called several times and I still don’t have it.”

“Let me look it up… OK, I show your order as being cancelled.”

“Cancelled? I didn’t cancel any order!”

“I see two orders. Ticket 30 and ticket 128. Both were cancelled.”

“Brandon, does Pizza Hut cancel customer orders without the customer doing the cancelling often? Because I’ve got to tell you as a customer I’m starting to feel very jerked around here.”

“I understand, sir, this is very strange.”

“Who cancelled the orders?”

“Aaron did.”

“I thought Aaron left at 6:00.”

“Maybe Aaron was in his office or something. Aaron has an office.”

“Brandon, as a customer I’m very unused to this type of treatment. I can’t possibly understand how what you are telling me happened here went down.”

“Sir, I’m all about customer service. I’ve got a driver here and we’ll get that pasta right out to you. How many do you want?”

I think I could have told him I wanted five or something, but I just wanted the pasta that I ordered at this point.

“One’s fine, and thanks. What I’m really interested in is figuring out why Aaron told me what he told me.”

“I’m writing your number down and I will get this figured out.”

“OK, and you’ll call me with that?”

“Yes sir.”

10:30pm: pasta showed up. No charge.

Now I never expected to hear from Brandon. Unless Aaron and whoever I talked to at 8:30 were hanging out watching him talk on the phone and giggling, he did fine and it would be truly above and beyond for him to actually investigate this matter and call me back (though it’d also be what he said he was going to do, and he’s all about customer service.) I also get how things can get balled up sometimes–heck, I screwed up a customer’s order more than once at Little Caesar’s. But what I said was “I’m sorry about that, my fault, I’ll fix this”, not a bunch of fabricated nonsense.

Heck, I don’t even mind mediocre customer service from a Pizza Hut because I know the turnover in the foodservice industry–85% high school kids, mean service time of 22 days or so, many of them from a fairly nice neighborhood, who aren’t exactly highly motivated to keep their jobs as opposed to getting fired and finding another minimum wage gig. But Aaron is apparently the manager. What on earth is the manager doing giving me the runaround like this?

I’m not the world’s most ardent Pizza Hut fan, but I do like some of their menu items (quepapas… mmm). I ordered from the branch by my old house every so often, and I always got satisfactory service. But the Scripps Ranch Pizza Hut has managers that make things up. Get your pizza somewhere else.

Mortgage Crunch, Gas Crunch

The Fed is looking for more action on the mortgage “crisis”. Bob Bernanke has some specific ideas about what to do [via Drudge]

The current housing crises has clobbered some borrowers home prices dropped. That left them with mortgages that are bigger than the value of their home. When that’s the primary problem, Bernanke said the best solution may be reducing the amount that the borrower owes on the loan or some other permanent modification to the loan.

Meanwhile, this article about owners of gas-guzzlers looking to sell their cars at huge losses just to be rid of them also hit the Drudge Report.

Some desperate car dealers and consumers, are willing to lose thousands of dollars just to get rid of their SUVs. Last July, 20-year-old Sannan Nizami, of Lowell, bought a 2007 Toyota 4Runner SUV for $32,000 when it cost about $65 to fill the tank. Six months later, as a gallon of gas soared to $3.50 and more, and tank refills climbed over $80, Nizami put the vehicle up for sale. He posted it online for $27,000 but received no responses for months.

Frustrated and unable to afford prices at the pump, Nizami last month turned over the Toyota to a dealer who only sells vehicles from private owners. Nizami is still paying the $450 loan but now is bumming rides to work with a cousin and worrying about making enough from the sale to cover the car loan.

“I didn’t think gas would shoot up this much. I’m willing to take a hit just to take the pressure off,” Nizami said. “I’ll probably get a really cheap Camry or Corolla. Something that gets more than 18 miles to the gallon.”

In the current ridiculous political-economic climate I half expect to read a statement from Bob Bernanke about how people with cars that get under 20 MPG should be specifically targeted with some sort of financial relief effort such as reducing the amount they owe on their auto loan.

If you bought too much house and are underwater, its nothing personal but I really hope the government doesn’t do anything to provide you relief. You bet wrong, you’re screwed, time to buy Ramen in bulk and cut back those personal expenses or look for a better job. Take your Bear-Stearnsing with pride, keep making those payments and do your part to keep property values as high as they can go. Either that, or don’t, work something out with your lender, sell at a loss, and move to a one-bedroom apartment. Not my problem, and I promise not to make my house’s falling market value yours.

Politics that matter

So Clinton and McCain want to suspend the $0.18 federal gas tax, while Obama correctly points out that’s a dumb-ass idea for a country that’s trying to reduce its dependence on oil and has some of the lowest gas prices in the world.  But, really, who cares?  I want to know where the candidates stand on issues that really impact me. Take, for example, the anti-Taco Truck ordinance that goes into effect next week in L.A. County.

I fancy myself a bit of a taco connoisseur, and some of the best tacos in Los Angeles come from these trucks. Seeing these trucks around reminds you that you’re in Los Angeles and not, say, Flint, Michigan. Obama’s right, dammit.  This gas tax thing is just a shell game to distract us from the real issue: tacos.


Dexter at 9pm. PTC has hernia.

Somehow I got on the Parents Television Council Action Alert email list and I’ve been getting outraged emails for a couple of weeks now. Today I heard from them that CBS broke its promise to air “Dexter” at a responsible time and it’ll be aired as early as 8pm on Sunday in some markets!

I want to do my part about issues like these so I used the helpful PTC automation to send an email to the San Diego CBS affiliate.

Subject: Please Reschedule Dexter this Sunday

I understand you are airing your first episode of “Dexter” at 9pm this Sunday. I do hope you’ll reconsider that start time and move it earlier if possible. I like to get to bed early on Sundays to get the week started off right, my DVR is on the fritz, and I’d like to watch this show. Michael C. Hall is an amazing actor and I’m perfectly able to keep any kids of mine who I don’t think should be watching “Dexter” otherwise occupied.

I thought being on this action alert list would be annoying but it’s actually turning out to be a useful reminder service for things like premieres and video game releases. If it’s got the PTC foaming, chances are it’s a product I’m interested in. Thanks for everything you do, PTC!