AAA finally responds, works hard to make things right

Jan 13

Don’t ever doubt the power of social media.

If you read my blog last week – Thursday – you saw the power of social media and online working. As noted in that story, I had a tremendously bad experience with AAA. Basically, I feel like I got hosed and ignored, when waiting for a company to come change my flat tire.

As noted, too, we were all capable of changing the tire, but it was cold and, reality is, If something is paid for, I expect service when it’s needed.

The one thing that had fired me up quite a bit was that the third person – yes, I spoke with three people that day – told me he would file an electronic complaint and that somebody would be in touch with me in 48 hours.

It never happened. So when I wrote the initial post, it was more than 100 hours later. I wrote it and went to bed, with it set to publish at 6 a.m. Eastern.

Oh, yeah, I also made sure to tweet AAA at the time it published.

It didn’t take long for a response from AAA. At 7:31 a.m., I received this response via Twitter:

Who knew all I had to do was to write a bad review of something, tweet it and this would happen? So, I DMd my membership number and went along with my day.

At 11:37 a.m., I received a phone call from Nils, a manager with AAA – somebody who had been with the company for 37 years. He was in the New York office, though, and had received the message from the national office.

Remember this? Changing of the tire as we found out nobody was coming to help...

Remember this? Changing of the tire as we found out nobody was coming to help…

Something was finally going to happen.

Anyway, he said he was trying to figure out what happened in hopes of making sure it never happened again. I expressed my displeasure in the service and received apologies – to which he also acknowledged don’t count as much when somebody went through what I did. I also noted that we were more than capable of changing the tire, but it was about principles. He fully understood my concerns and told me he wanted to pay for my membership for the following year, to make up for it.

He also actually thanked me for writing the post I did because, if not, he might have never known about this.

Here’s the kicker from the initial call (and one follow up as I had to call him back with the number of one my friends, being that’s whose phone we used for the initial call):

  • The first person I talked to wasn’t listed as ever talking to me (that was on a different number, so may come up with the other number).
  • He was looking to see why the service station wouldn’t go.
  • He also was trying to figure out why nobody called me.
  • The last person I talked to didn’t file the digital complaint, as he said he would do.

I asked Nils, too, to call me back to let me know what happened. I don’t care about people’s names or anything and I hope – truthfully – if these are competent people, they don’t lose their jobs.  I know how tough it can be in that situation. That being said, one needs to realize what they are dealing with when you are handling calls like this. It isn’t a joke. Real people are out there, broken down and need help. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be calling.

If you can’t handle the job, you shouldn’t be doing it. And if one isn’t trained well enough, they shouldn’t be live on the system.

Anyhoo…

He got back to me and explained what he could piece together. The only question mark was that first call — when I got put back in the queue. He couldn’t seem to find it, so that — for some reason — is out there.

What I fully appreciate here — and why I’ll give AAA the benefit of the doubt that this was a rare thing (to be fair, until this time, I had gotten extremely good service from AAA), is how honest Nils was with me and how he quickly made sure to note this was AAA’s fault and they were taking steps to make sure it didn’t happen again. Would it help me now? No. Is it nice to know they are reacting? Yes.

Apparently, what happened, is as follows:

The person who told me he was sending somebody never actually sent somebody. In other words, when I called back an hour later to wonder where the service station was — and was told by that person that the station said they didn’t have anybody available — It’s because they never got the initial call. Therefore, with the calls they already had, they couldn’t come. So not their fault one bit.

We were sitting on the side of an Interstate and nobody was called, let alone coming. That’s downright scary. Hopefully it’s found out why this person didn’t make the call.

Finally, the final person I spoke to never sent through the complaint, or I was assured I would have received a phone call.

There was definitely a communication breakdown here. Whether the service station wasn’t called because of some technical thing, purposely or something else, it should never happen. I go back to this — think if it’s somebody who can’t change their own tire and need that help. It’s messing with real life. So if I was a bit upset or brash, it was because of the first person who put me back into the queue and because somebody didn’t understand what I meant when I said a mile past an onramp.

AAA-Logo

No matter if you get mad or not, remember I’m the paying customer. I’m already frustrated. It’s not personal. It’s not right (and I honestly don’t think I got upset until I had to explain where I was more than once when I was pretty direct with where I was in the first place), but I’ve been in customer service and realize, sometimes, you need to be able to deal with all situations and reactions.

As noted before, hopefully this was a rare thing.

And, AAA did everything is could to make it right with me. I appreciate the one-year membership. I appreciate the manager calling me back more than once to tell me what happened. I appreciate AAA admitting wrongdoing here. And I appreciate the fact that we were able to do something without anything bad happening.

Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen again because you never know what kind of things can happen to somebody when services aren’t delivered as promised.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Disappointed in the service AAA gave me in cold conditions

Jan 09

Sometimes I wonder why people get into customer service. I also wonder, sometimes, why one pays for a service that doesn’t deliver.

Let me tell you a tale of AAA, the American Automobile Association. The company that offers benefits when you join — such as roadside assistance. The company that comes and fixes flats or tows you, if needed.

The backbone of a company like that are those who handle the phone calls. I’ve been a member of AAA for several years (my card says 2011, but I was a member before and had a break somewhere in there) and really haven’t had any issues. In fact, a couple of years ago, when in Watertown, I had a flat. They told me it could take upward of 1:30 for somebody to come. By the time I cleaned my trunk a bit and got the spare out, the guy was there.

The service was so good, I tipped the guy happily.

That brings us to this past Saturday. Three of us were heading to the Binghamton area for a wrestling show. We picked up our third member in one spot off Interstate 88. As we hit the Interstate, something seemed off. Turns out, I ran over something and got a flat.

Working on the tire ... what we should have done in the first place.

Working on the tire … what we should have done in the first place.

So there we were, on the side of I-88 with temperatures in the mid 20s. One of the guys with us can fix tires without issue (his father used to own a tire shop), but that wasn’t the point. It was cold — and the service I have is paid for. So, I wanted to use it.

That was my first mistake.

I quickly call AAA and get their roadside assistance people. The first person I talked to was female (shame on me for not remembering names) and I explained what was going on. The basics — side of an interstate, need help etc.

Over and over, I was asked where I was.

“Bainbridge.”

“What city is that near?”

“Bainbridge.”

“But what city?”

“I’m in Bainbridge. It’s the town I am in.”

“Can you spell that?”

“B-A-I-N-B-R-I-D-G-E.”

“I can’t find it. Can you please hold?”

I didn’t even have time to answer, I don’t think. I was then on hold for a good 3-5 minutes.

Seriously.

Next thing I know, a male picks up — “AAA, can I help you?”

Turns out I must have been put back in the queue.

But, before I tell you how this conversation went, allow me to go to the AAA website and quote what it says about roadside assistance:

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, emergency road service is designed to assist you when the vehicle you are either driving or riding in becomes disabled. Whether it’s a flat tire, a dead battery, an empty gas tank, or practically any other reason – as a driver or a passenger, in your own car or someone else’s – as a member, you are always covered. Even in a rental!

And this is what it shows for the flat-tire service:

A wheel with a flat tire will be replaced with the member’s inflated spare tire, at no charge. Special lug wrenches or keys needed to remove the wheel cover or wheel must be supplied by the member. If the spare is not available or in need of repair, the service station will tow the vehicle. Dual-wheel vehicles are not eligible for tire service.

OK, with that out of the way, allow me to continue. So the second person I talk to at least tries to get more info. I explain it more times than I think is needed, but if it gets somebody here, then so be it.

One bright side? A cool view.

One bright side? A cool view.

I had to explain what an onramp to an interstate was.

Even then, I got: “I’m sorry, sir, I am not familiar with your area.”

I gave him the exit number. I told him where we were. He finally seemed to get it and found a place. It was in a town about, oh, 10 miles away or so. I was told it would take up to an hours. So it was 3:26, they should be there no later than 4:26.

After I questioned that and asked about it, he repeated — in a stern voice — “Sir, it’s now 3:27. They will be there no later than 4:26.”

I didn’t want to explode. I accepted it. We waited.

And waited.

And waiter.

Mind you, there was somebody in the car more than capable of quickly changing this tire. But this was more about principles. A situation where you want to get what you pay for.

Something tells me, if you are reading this, you know where this is going.

Yep, 4:26 came and went. At about 4:30, I called back and got somebody else. This person seemed genuinely apologetic and concerned and said he was going to find out what was up. He put me on hold and came back a minute or so later.

Seems he called the service in question who then noted they didn’t have anybody who could go change a flat. My response?

“So, basically, nobody was coming and nobody was going to tell me?”

“Basically, yeah.”

Solid work, AAA. The company can’t blame the service company, either. There is no reason AAA shouldn’t monitor every situation. We pay for a service. Deliver.

The person then told me he could try and find somebody else. At that point, said friend was starting to jack up the car. I said fine (the guy was going to call me back), but noted if we had this changed and all, I was not going to be a happy customer.

He called back about 10 minutes later, noting he had somebody who said they could be there in about 45 minutes. At this point, the lugnuts were being tightened.

I noted that. And also noted I was extremely displeased with the service — well, lack of — that I received. I told him I’d like to know who to contact and he said he could put in the complaint for me and asked if I would like a call back, to which I said “Absolutely.”

He told me I’d hear back within 48 hours.

That was Saturday, at about 4:45 p.m. So, 48 hours would be Monday at 4:45 p.m., right?

It’s now (as I am writing this) about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday. So, like 96 hours later. I haven’t received a call or any sort of communication.

Solid, right? Customer service is right up there.

I’m seriously re-considering any membership with this company. This has nothing to do with me or this situation. But what if it had been my mother? Or one of my aunts? Or my sister-in-law when she had been pregnant? Put yourself in my shoes here. What it if it had been your mother? Your grandfather? Somebody else?

Changing the tire.

Changing the tire. (Note: not somebody sent from AAA. He should get paid for the service AAA was supposed to give.)

Seriously.

This goes way beyond three guys going to an event and just wanting to stay warm and use a service that was paid for. This comes down to looking at the big picture and wondering what happens if this is somebody who couldn’t do what we ended up doing. It was cold. I was on the side of an Interstate. What if somebody’s phone was dying and they got enough of a call to set up the initial service call? And nobody comes?

There’s a lot that can go wrong here.

I firmly believe I deserve more than a small apology here. I need an explanation. I need to know why this happened and how AAA will make sure it doesn’t happen. People pay for this service. Some people may have panicked in this situation. Some may have continued to wait.

This isn’t a joke. It’s serious. And something drastically bad could have happened, if the situation had been changed.

Being it’s been so long, I’m not holding my breath AAA is going to call me back. If it gets past this weekend, I may end up calling. And if that’s the fact, I’m going to be extremely annoyed and peeved.

I’m beyond disappointed. And that’s a shame. Until here, I’ve been pretty satisfied with AAA. Now? Not so much — in more ways than just a failed service call. This was a fail on a much larger stage.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Society needs to take a deep breath, and fix itself

Apr 04

Allow me to start by saying I’m not a parent.

So, I don’t know exactly what goes through one’s mind when dealing with something like this. But what I am writing about today is just downright ridiculous.

Look, I’m in favor of a government organization that watches over children — to a point. It’s needed because there are some families who fully and utterly neglect kids. However, “protecting children” has gone from being smart to being downright ridiculous. Since when is a kid walking a few blocks neglect?

It seems Child Protective Services can do pretty much anything they want. And if somebody wants to be a jerk, they can call the cops or CPS, say they think a child is being abused, neglected or whatever and things can hit the fan quite quickly.

What I’ve read about a situation in Ohio is downright ridiculous.

It seems a 6-year-old wanted a little independence. So her parents allowed her to walk a few blocks to the post office. Seems harmless, right? When I was 6, I’m pretty sure I was able to roam freely, to a point. Could I run anywhere? No. Did my parents or brothers know where I was? Absolutely. Could I go a couple of blocks to another kid’s house? Sure.

See, it’s lessons like this that allow a kid to grow.

I do realize that the threat of something happening is greater than it used to be. Well, at least reported on. Things happened back when, too. But with media, social things and everything else, it’s reported way more. When I was younger, a convicted child rapist and murderer was sent to my town by the department of probation. He didn’t have the chance to do anything because people knew who he was and he spent most of his time shuttered up in the basement of a local church. He was run out of town a bit later. During that time, our town was quieter, that’s for sure. But when it ended, kids started to be seen again.

In this day and age, we also have lists you can see to know where these creeps are. Well, at least the ones convicted. Depending on the town or area or whatever, though, I would hope parents have a good grip of where their kids will be going.

So back to the current situation.

Would I let my kid walk 3-4 city blocks in New York to go play in Central Park? Probably not. But in a small town where most people know who you are and such? I’d feel a lot better.

The realization is this — kids have to grow, explore and learn. It’s part of life.

Anyway, it turns out this poor child has been taken into custody more than once because she was walking alone. According to the parent who wrote into the Free Range Kids website, the girl knows her address, phone number and all vital things. She does small errands within a few blocks (store, post office etc.) and she’s been detained or stopped by “concerned citizens.”

Am I missing something? Is there a law that says a 6-year-old child can’t walk somewhere? Especially in an area where she is known?

I can’t rehash everything here. I’d encourage you to read the whole story/timeline on Free Range Kids.

I dug around and somebody in the comments noted their situation, which had been previously reported on Free Range Kids. The “charges” are just as silly, but the one that caught my eye — she was a bad parent because she let her kids (aged 8 and 10) walk together to a bus stop 300 feet away.

Seriously.

That’s not even the FULL LENGTH of a football field!

A 10-year-old kid can’t walk with an 8-year-old sibling to a bus stop 300 feet away without setting off a red flag?

We have issues in this country. Our politicians spend more money on so many frivolous things that it makes people’s heads spin. These same people get paid oodles of money to do what? We have these organizations that flex their muscles like they own the world. It’s time to back off. While these may be isolated incidents, they happen. And they shouldn’t. Not once. Let kids grow. A parent needs to be able to do what they need to do to raise their kids.

I once said I’d love to live forever. But I have to admit, with the way society is going, I don’t know if I want to see what it’s like in 75 or 80 years. It’s going to be downright ridiculous.

The biggest thing? People need to get their noses out of other people’s business. If you see something truly bad (such as a parent beating a kid or something crazy), it’s one thing. But a kid walking to the store or the post office in a quiet area where people are bound to know one another?

It’s called growing up.

I have no issues with parents who want to make sure their kids are supervised on these trips. And I have no issues with parents who trust their kids or surroundings enough to let them walk freely, as long as they know where they are going. It should be up to the parent. Respect the parent to know and believe what is best for their kid.

Reality is this — who are CPS to tell somebody what’s best for somebody else’s kids? They aren’t. Back off.

I roamed with my friends as kids all the time. We explored the woods. Played in creeks. Played sports and rode our bikes. In the winter, we went sledding at the local college. We did some crazy things and parents weren’t always around. We were allowed to scrape our knees, get dirty and whatever else. Our parents trusted we knew right from wrong, wouldn’t talk to the wrong people and would run, yell and scream if anything was to happen to us or if we got into a sticky situation.

We’re all fine.

Kids need a chance to grow and learn just as much as anybody else. It’s up to the parent to decide the criteria for that, not the cops, CPS or any other government agency.

Period.

Fundraiser: I am, again, trying to raise money for the Relay For Life. If you donate to me — a minimum of $5– you will be entered to win a super-sweet quilted lap quilt or pillow. Click here for all the information!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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The Baseball Hall needs to shake up its election process

Jan 10

Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.

That’s the motto of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The Hall is a not-for-profit entity that is independent of Major League Baseball.

Well, so it goes.

For many years, I covered the Hall of Fame. I know many of the employees and the countless hours they put into everything that makes the Hall one of the most wonderful places in the world, especially if you are a fan of baseball history.

As a paying member of the Hall, I get free entry all year, so I can come and go as I please. It’s nice to go escape and look at the history of the game. I spend hours there, even when I plan on just checking a few things out. I’ve also spent time in the research library, looking up players for the HooHaa 9.

One thing with the Hall, though, is it seemingly has no say in who is enshrined there.

Though the Hall decides the veteran committees, the main election is done by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. On Wednesday, those writers decided nobody would be elected to the Hall this year.

I could spout number after number about the players I think should be elected. Or about how certain players were dominant for a generation. But let’s call it as it is — the steroid era is what did this election in.

What I have issue with is the fact that voters seem to treat the Hall like it’s the Hall of Perfection. It’s not. There are a lot of scumbags in the Hall. There are a lot of people with low moral character. And I guarantee there are cheaters in the Hall.

The ball Barry Bonds hit to become the all-time home run king is showcased in the Hall of Fame, though if the writers will likely continue to make sure he’ll never be enshrined.

Again, the ones who decide who goes into the Hall are writers. That’s needs to be changed. I don’t think players should be in total control. I’m all for writers having a say, but the process needs to be changed.

Let’s do a history lesson. In 1994, baseball went into a labor war, which ended up canceling the World Series. In the meantime, it was the beginning of the end for the Montreal Expos, who arguably had the best team in baseball that season.

Once it returned the next season, baseball slowly worked back into the hearts of people. But what really did it? The Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa home run race in 1998.

Remember “Chicks dig the long ball?”

Steroids were rampant in the game that time. I find it hard to believe people didn’t know about it. But nobody cared. Money was flowing. The game was back and people were slamming home runs, which the crowds loves.

Then it all started to fold.

Steroids became the worst thing. Reports came out. People admitted guilt. Moral objections flew all over the place. Then came the “cleaning” of the game.

I’m all for cleaning up the game. I don’t like performance-enhancing drugs. I’m not a supporter of drug use. I want to see the game pure, just like anybody else. That being said, it was an era of the game, so people like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds should be in the Hall.

It’s part of baseball history.

This game has gone through time. It hasn’t always been great. There’s been racism, drug use, cheating and anything else you can come up with. Ask some of those old timers about greenies. How about the amount of players who did — and still do — cheat on their wives? There’s been many other illegal drug uses. Talk about morality.

There might already be someone in the Hall who used steroids. I have no clue who, but Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins confirmed there has been “talk” among some Hall of Famers that there’s suspicion of one person as being a user.

Everyone in the steroid era is under suspicion though, and apparently that’s enough to keep people out.

Jeff Bagwell is close, but not in. Mike Piazza was fully looked over this year. Craig Biggio — and his 3,000 hits — were left out this year. Though some people might question Bagwell and Piazza, they haven’t truly been connected to any steroids scandal.

Heck, people like Clemens and Bonds never failed a drug test. Though there’s not likely many people on this planet that don’t suspect steroid use for the two, the facts are the facts — no drug tests have been failed.

My favorite is the first-ballot setup, where it’s some special honor to be in right away. That’s silly, too. You’re a Hall of Famer or you’re not — it’s as simple as that. In the 15 years it took for Jim Rice to get into the Hall, his statistics never changed. Never. He didn’t get any more homers or hits.

This is the power trip for the writers.

Let’s remember, too, that I spent much of my career as a sports writer. I covered the Hall. Though the minor leagues, I covered pro baseball.

But I never understood why covering baseball meant somebody should be able to decide who is in or out of the Hall of Fame.

I still can’t figure out why Jack Morris isn’t in the Hall. Or why Dale Murphy didn’t get more of a look. Heck, Fred McGriff, who I don’t ever think I heard in the steroid discussion, hit 493 home runs and garnered a whopping 20.7 percent of the vote this year.

Now, to be fair, I’m not against players of this era having it being noted on their plaque. But it would have to be everybody. As far as I’m concerned, everybody is possibly guilty.

For heaven’s sake, Andy Pettitte admitted using PEDs at one point during his career.

It’s time for a change to the system. The Hall needs to stick to its mantra and start preserving history. Players like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Pete Rose should be in the Hall. Should it be noted on their plaque what happened? Absolutely. But they are Hall of Famers.

So are Clemens and Bonds. And others who are in the steroid era. Eventually Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted use, will be up for election. I don’t like A-Rod and his moral character goes beyond steroids. But is he a Hall of Famer? Yes.

Unfortunately, things aren’t going to change. The Hall won’t sever ties or start a war like this to take control of it. You risk a lot by doing that, without a doubt. And I understand their spot. Still, something should be done. Because to let a bunch of writers who are preaching morality decide who is in or isn’t in the Hall is not working anymore, plain and simple.

I don’t mind a morality clause for gaining induction, but it needs to consider many things. This is a full era of the game we are talking about. Players are going to go into the Hall who may have used but never been suspected.

Plus, it would appear that the writers are also punishing those who aren’t directly connected to the steroid scandal, anyway. Otherwise Morris and Lee Smith would already be in. And players like Curt Schilling would have been much closer this year, if not in.

But hey, you have to protect that first-ballot status.

I still love the Hall of Fame. I love the history. I love the game. And I realize steroids are an extremely important part to the history — now and in the future. You can’t tell the story of baseball without them.

Leaving these players out might make some living Hall of Famers happy and allow the voting contingent to feel like they are doing the right thing, but in the end, they are trying to ignore history.

It’s time for the Hall to step in and start work on a new way so it can be honestly looked at in more than just a morality clause.

Until then, this will continue for at least the next 15 years, if not longer.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Good riddance: Geocaching challenges finally sent packing

Dec 05

Finally.

Groundspeak, the owners of geocaching.com, have finally come to some sort of senses and gotten rid of Challenges, a feature they launched last year. Though nobody ever came out and said this (that I saw), it was undoubtedly a way to try and appease the mass of people who have been clamoring for the return of virtual geocaches.

I gave this concept thumbs down last year when it was created. I never saw enough improvements to change that opinion. Apparently Groundspeak’s opinion of the Challenges wasn’t great either.

See ya, Challenges! Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!

Everything seemed so rushed. There were countless numbers of flaws with what they launched and it was way too easy to get around the system and users could score more “finds” by doing all the work from their computer. I saw several challenges where people from around the world found an image needed and posted it, despite the reality that they didn’t actually complete the challenge.

And, “owner’s” hands were tied.

See, with geocaches, an owner owns the geocache. That means if you armchair a find, I can delete it. With challenges, you didn’t have that option. In fact, once you created it, it was done. You couldn’t do anything from that point forward. You didn’t even get notifications that somebody completed the challenge you created!

No editing.

No deleting.

No verifying.

Nothing.

What’s the point then?

The idea of geocaching is to get out and find something. It’s a way to get outside and see something. Not just sit on the computer and search for images so you can “claim” a find.

Heck, after initially having them “count” toward your finds for geocaches, Groundspeak at least was smart enough to switch that up.

This is what Groundspeak had to say in a post to its forums Tuesday afternoon:

In our effort to inspire outdoor play through Geocaching, we are often faced with decisions about what to focus on next, and what to focus on less. It is through these decisions that we explore opportunities to grow the global game of geocaching.

Occasionally, during this process, we are faced with the reality that certain ideas don’t catch on as we had hoped. In these situations we owe it to ourselves and to you to make tough decisions about the future of every project and the resources to be applied to each. Sometimes, as a result, cool features must become casualties.

In this spirit, we have decided to retire Geocaching Challenges.

This means that, effective today, we have disabled the ability to create new Challenges. We have also removed the Challenges application from all mobile application stores. In approximately 7 days, we will be removing all traces of the Challenges functionality and related content from Geocaching.com.

On an office wall here at HQ is a sign that reads, “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.” By accepting that we will sometimes get it wrong, we can allow ourselves to learn from and imagine new opportunities in the world of Geocaching. Our hope is we can take the lessons from Challenges and create better tools to guide you on your next adventure.

Kudos to Groundspeak for realizing that this was a failed idea.

Geocaching had grown to an amazing size and with Groundspeak being the main players in this game, the company needs to try different things. I don’t blame them for attempting this.

And I personally hope Groundspeak doesn’t decide to bring virtuals back. The ones that are out there now are just fine. They are able to be done and that’s great. But as this game continues to grow, if there’s not a serious set of rules with virtuals, they’ll be overused and become a bunch of trash. I don’t want a virtual cache to take me to a parking lot, which you know would happen.

If Groundspeak wanted to work with some National Parks or something and unveil some virtuals in conjunction with places like that, I’d be all for it. But not for opening them back up to anyone. It would get out of hand.

For today, Challenges are on the way out and I applaud Groundspeak for making this decision. It makes the game better by not having Challenges and it, hopefully, will help the game swing back to what it was originally intended to do — get outside and find something.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Not everybody views Thanksgiving the same way

Nov 22

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Thanksgiving.

No idea why. Maybe it’s because as a kid I didn’t really like turkey, outside if eating the crispy skin. Or the smell of the house as a kid — I just didn’t like it. Cranberry sauce in a can was cool though.

Be careful about that cranberry sauce, though. It may have something to say.

As I’ve grown, I still don’t go ga-ga over the holiday.

I bet this guy doesn’t like Thanksgiving! (photo courtesy sideshowmom on MorgueFile).

Sure, in my 20s, it was fantastic. The bar scene the night before Thanksgiving was always incredibly awesome. Bar scenes don’t do it for me anymore though. Too crowded. Plus, you didn’t always feel so good during Thanksgiving.

I slipped out last night for a quick pint (in a plastic cup, even) at a local establishment. This one wasn’t too crowded (it was reported that the other main spot was jam-packed), so I had a quick cordial and chatted for about 30 minutes. The crowd, not shockingly, was decidedly younger. I remember those days.

After finishing the plastic cup (was this a frat party?), I called it a night. I went home and worked on a couple of blog pieces.

One thing I get a kick out of are these things all over Facebook and other social media sites proclaiming we should boycott certain places which remain open on Thanksgiving day. It’s a day to be with family, they say! These people deserve days off, too!

Not everyone celebrates this holiday.

And, not everybody cares. Some people want to work. When I was at the paper, I’d volunteer to work it. I still got the day off sometimes, but Thanksgiving was one I always offered to work.

The world still has to go around. Things still happen. Heck, there are people who skip Thanksgiving to go elsewhere to get ready to do the whole Black Friday thing.

I say good for them!

Let’s remember, too, there are those in places like restaurants, which do something more than serve food. Some people — young and old — might not have family around them or still with us to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. So they go out to one of these establishments to have a good meal. Their servers or whoever else might be the only interaction they have all day. Hospitals, fire stations, police — these places all staff people, too. Heaven forbid something happens, these people are there.

There’s, of course, the men and women overseas fighting for our country. They should be home with their family, but can’t be.

And don’t forget those people working the limited hours at grocery stores, who are available when you realize you forgot the can of cranberry sauce. Or the gas stations, who have people working so you have the gas to head on home after a feast with friends or family. Or all the workers at football stadiums, so people can go watch games in person or on television.

Before we make blanket statements, look at the big picture. Not everybody can have the day off. I love social media.

In the past year and half, I’ve become quite cynical. Regular readers of the blog know why. That doesn’t give me a ton to be “thankful” for. Alas, there are millions and millions of people who have it worse than me. I have a roof over my head and the ability to keep trying to make my life better. Many people don’t.

For that, I can be thankful.

For those of you who celebrate this holiday and/or have the day off from work because of it, enjoy the day. For those who aren’t in the U.S., or don’t have the day off, or don’t get worked up over the holiday, I hope you have a great day, anyway!

I leave you with this — visit the Oatmeal and check out his comic about Thanksgiving as a kid vs. an adult. If you have any sense of humor, you’ll be laughing throughout.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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