Arrivederchi

Rome, Florence, Lugano here I come…. that is if I can get Howard out of the suitcase.

Howard in the suitcase

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Mediabistro Book Club Cocktail Party New York, NY

Sounds Like Crazy has been selected for the Mediabistro Book Club cocktail part taking place in New York City on May 17 at the Underbar.

Locals, visitors to New York, everyone is invited.

Mediabistro Bookclub* details
*You have to scroll down the page for the book club details.

To RSVP for the event, click here.

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All You Need is Love

Today I am linking to Chick Lit Central: The Blog where I am the Monday guest blogger. To read the blog post, click here.

You can also enter to win a copy of Sounds Like Crazy. If you have one, enter to win for your local library!

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United Airlines Strikes Again

United Airlines, as some of you may recall from previous posts is my least favorite airline. I didn’t like flying them before the dog fiasco because I’ve had nothing but trouble on their flights, and worse I have more legroom in the backseat of a Mini Cooper than I do on their airplanes. Economy Plus offers about the same room as a Standard AA or Virgin America flight. But I had a certificate—apology for their mishandling of three of my favorite dogs—and I figured I hadn’t read anything bad about them for a few months.

The good news is United Airlines is equal opportunity when it comes to shoddy services for humans, because my experience was on par with the dogs’ experience last summer. The next positive report is the legroom remains such that you can give your neighbor a head massage when s/he reclines. Hopefully, the person dropping right into your lap showers and/or washes his or her hair and they practice pay-it-forward.

What happened this time? The jaded part of me says it was the Super Bowl—our flight Sunday, February 5, from Orlando was scheduled to depart midway through the first quarter. Now if I, or any of the passengers traveling for that matter, gave a s*(^& about the Super Bowl, we would have booked a flight at another time. However, the captain and crew must not have had a choice, because they were clearly obsessed with the game. After Green Bay had surprisingly taken the lead with one touchdown, in came the maintenance guy. A few minutes after the second touch down, we got the “this plane is not flying” speech and something about another plane due to arrive in a couple of hours.

We all deplaned in an orderly fashion as requested (What did they expect, people to freak out and start throwing suitcases—some should have when you hear the problems this caused), and then waited at the gate to be called up and told our fate.

San Francisco passengers? Sorry, you miss your connection, we’ll put you in a hotel in LA. Reno? San Diego? Other destinations in the fifty states? That’s a hotel for you too. Sound nice? Not really, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Sydney passengers (and there were a few)? The sophisticated travelers ready to hurl suitcases were rebooked on other airlines. Hopefully, they made it without too much delay. The non-sophisticated passengers were routed through LAX and rebooked with such delays that some lost days of travel while others missed their cruise. The latter were people who’d saved for their big retirement trip.  The look on their bewildered faces was heartbreaking. Other complainers (I was one), you get a middle seat on a half full plane. The question, “What happens we get to LA” was answered with, “Agents will meet you at the gate and give you hotel vouchers.”

Not surprisingly, we departed when the Super Bowl ended. We arrived at LAX only to find one agent, as opposed to many. Turns out the gate agent putting cranks in middle seats didn’t do whatever she was supposed to, because we had stand in a long line while the lone agent at LAX booked each passenger on their new flight, got their hotel and meal vouchers, and answered their questions. After this 45+ minute process, I got to wait outside for the hotel shuttle—another 20/30 minutes. I got to my hotel at 1.30AM—enough time for a shower and an hour sleep before getting back downstairs for the shuttle back to LAX.

In sum, I could have flown to India in the time it took United to get me home to San Francisco from Orlando, Florida. At least the hotel, the Westin LAX, had little packets for passengers without their luggage and subsequently, toothbrushes, because United could not be bothered to pull the bags out of the luggage waiting area and return them to stranded passengers whose planes were not leaving for several, sometimes 12 or more, hours. God forbid United should take the trouble to at least provide essential toiletries to the passengers they inconvenienced with a broken plane.

Let’s get to that airplane…the problem? I heard from the Orlando gate agent that someone flushed the toilet and broke the plane. At LAX, the lone gate agent left to manage 30+ displaced, tired, cranky passengers after midnight, said it was a leaky toilet. I still believe it was Super Bowl related. That said, I have heard from more than a dozen people that their United plane had toilet problems.

Note to United Airlines: When you send a certificate asking them to continue doing business with you and pledging to do better, doing worse is the way to go about it. And another thing, you might want to seriously review your toilet situation, because this excuse is getting tired.

Note to self: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. This time, shame on me. Never means never. And I did say the last time that I’d never fly on United again. From this day forward, I don’t care if I have to fly around the globe twice to get to my destination. I will do just that before setting foot on another United Airlines flight. I am done with a capital D with United Airlines. Anyone else out there that continues to fly with them, be prepared for delays and no toilets. At least the cramped seats make holding it easier.

Posted in Economy, Friends and Family, Shana, Stuff | 2 Comments

Book and a Chat Radio

Check out this recording of a radio interview I did yesterday with the wonderful Barry Eva of Book and a Chat radio. To listen, click
here.

Enjoy.

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In the News…

Just a quick blog to point readers to my news section where you will find a lot of interviews and other interesting items. The best, in my opinion, is that my quote was picked for the year-end video of one of my favorite charities, Defenders of Wildlife.

To view the video, click here.

Happy Holidays.

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Happy Holidays to all Sprint Customers from Samsung, or “It’s Not Our Fault, They Didn’t Tell Us…”

Samsung in its infinite wisdom pushed through an automatic update to all its phones today.  If users declined the update, it just kept popping up until you took it. Well, here is what this “update” did:

  1. Change the User Interface completely, forcing users to hunt around and figure out how where familiar menu items disappeared to.
  2. Broke the sync with Gmail.
  3. Required a security update for Exchange mail. This update wiped out all emails, contacts, etc.
  4. And saving the best for last: WIPED OUT ALL CONTACTS.

Sprint Technical Support is getting inundated today. All they can say is, “I apologize and we didn’t know Samsung was going to do this.”

My response, “Shame on you, Sprint.”

Note to Sprint: Samsung is one of your partners. You recommend and sell their phones to your customers. The fact that they can push through a disaster like this, a week before the holidays no less, reflects more poorly on you than it does on them.

The worst part is, there is no accountability. As a customer, my choice is to pay a steep fee to get out of my Sprint contract or pay a steep fee to get phone that actually works (this phone had countless problems before this mess of an update). Everyone tells me, “Get an iPhone.” I’d love to because Apple actually cares about its customers and the products and service are consistently at the highest level. The problem is AT&T. The coverage sucks. It doesn’t work in the two places I spent the most of my time—my home and my office. Back to Sprint though…

Besides all the Samsung users who will lose their contacts and/or spend half their day fixing the mess Samsung created, I feel very sorry for Sprint Technical support. These poor folks are going to spend the next few days getting yelled at, because while Samsung may not have “told” Sprint they were going to put out an update that causes more problems than it solves, Sprint is still the first contact when people are looking for help.

Supposedly the Sprint back office is working furiously with Samsung to get this corrected. Too bad they didn’t work to build two-way communication with Samsung. And too bad Samsung didn’t work furiously to test this update before pushing it out to all users.

What a mess.

All I can say is this: If you can avoid Sprint and Samsung, I’d HIGHLY recommend it. Don’t get me wrong, the technical support team at Sprint is great, but I shouldn’t know this. Rather, I should know how great my phone is. I should have a provider that makes sure this kind of update never happens. I have neither.

Happy Holidays to all Sprint Customers from Samsung.

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Pack up the babies, grab the old ladies….

“Hitchin’ on a twilight train
” taking only a song to sing when he wants and you better believe we say please for his happy tunes. That’s right, Neil Diamond, Class of 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

About time, right?

Now Neil is a different generation of music from what I grew up with; or he should be. But countless nights spent peeking through the bottom railing of the banister watching my parents, relatives, and their friends dance and sing to Hot August night drilled those songs into my head. I admit I found their behavior strange and the music too. As an adult, after countless nights, with friends, in various living rooms moving to music and singing the words to favorite songs at the top of my lungs, I get it.

Back to Neil, though.

When I got to college, my ability to sing every word to every Neil Diamond song one of those mortifying memories buried deep in the cobwebbed regions of my brain, I found myself in a convertible with five other girls, driving down 101 on our way back to Isla Vista and the home of UC Santa Barbara, which we all attended. Cracklin Rosie came on the radio. Cherlyn, the driver, turned the dial a bit to the right. Not too loud. We all rolled our eyes in disgust; someone made the comment, “Yuck, Neil Diamond.” Then lips started surreptitiously moving, six pairs of eyes slid side to side, thirty seconds passed then the radio went all the way to the right and next thing we’re moving, shaking, and singing in that car as it flew down the highway. When we got home, someone pulled out a tape hidden in her bottom drawer, behind all the t-shirts she never wore. We put it on and spent the next hour on our back deck singing and dancing to Neil, embarrassed no more and joined by several neighbors. Later that evening we traded stories about parents and their love for Neil.

Maybe this is why I love Red Red Wine so much…The drink and the song.

Several years later my sister, Colleen, called and said, “Marc (her husband) got tickets to take us to see Neil Diamond. Do you want to go?” Are you kidding? Hell yeah I wanted to go. And go we did. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to a lot. We stood in the rafters (nobody sat), the babies, old ladies, and everyone in between shakin our booties and singing along.

When your parents party all weekend and the only records in their collection to dance to are Neil Diamond, well, he becomes a piece of childhood and hence an unforgettable mainstay in your life. So to celebrate Neil and all the happy memories he’s brought me and those I know and don’t know, this morning I started my day listening to the entire Hot August night album. Best way to put a smile on your face. So come on people “Take my hand in yours, Walk with me this day, In my heart, I know 
I will never stray…”

Halle, halle, halle, halle, halle, halle, halle
It’s Love, Love
 Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show
Pack up the babies
Grab the old ladies
Everyone goes
Everyone knows
Brother Love’s show
Amen

Here’s to you Neil Diamond.

Howard’s Commentary:
If the Can Opener makes me dance to Solitary Man one more time I’m going to puke on her pillow.

Howard out!

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The Can Opener’s Gone to the Dogs

You read it. And if you click the link below, you can read about it, it= a dog named Sam.
Sam

Click here to read Walking Wisdom. Search on Sam for the Can Opener’s tail…(yes, I meant that ail instead of ale).

In case your wondering how I allowed this, well, I think the New Yorker said it best. Picture a cat sitting on a table,
high above  a dog sporting the usual dimwitted canine face. The cat instructs said animal:

“I was a dog in a previous life, and then I came back as a God.”

The dog wags it’s tail in response. First the airlines and now this. As long as these dogs know their place.

Cat= a God people.

Howard out!

Posted in Cats, Friends and Family, Shana, Stuff | 1 Comment

Sounds Like Crazy gets another rave

The Can Opener is still getting reviews. Click the link below to read the latest….

Hey Lady Whatcha Reading

I am taking a break from my napping to post because she is busy balancing the demands of her day job and the demands of her creative endeavors. I want to see another book completed by year’s end, don’t you?

Howard Out!

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