(I am working as a host in an upscale restaurant on a busy Friday night. As we have a large number of reservations – including one reservation for 12 people – we are currently not accepting any walk-in customers. Four men approach me.)
Me: “Good evening! Welcome to [Restaurant]. How can I help you?”
Guy #1: “Yeah, Hi. Erm, there’s 15 of us meeting here, so…”
Me: *cringing* “Do you happen to have a reservation?”
Guy #2: “Maybe under [Name]? Probably not, though.”
Me: *checking the system* “Unfortunately, I have no reservation for that name and as we are pretty busy tonight I can’t accept any more walk-in customers until at least [two hours later]. I am so sorry!”
Guy #1: “Oh… erm, well, we weren’t the ones organizing this so when the rest arrive we will ask if they made a reservation.”
Me: “Okay, no problem, but I don’t see a reservation for that amount of people in the system… The largest I have is for 12 people.”
Guy #2: “Okay, cool. Let us get back to you on it!”
(The rest of the group arrives around five minutes later and a lady approaches me. She stands behind me as she talks to me, facing the computer which is not completely unusual to do.)
Lady: “Hi. I have a reservation for 12 people but I have 15 here now. We want to be seated now.”
Me: *panicking because the restaurant is nearly at full capacity* “Oh… sure, what was the name on the reservation?”
Lady: “It’s on the screen behind you! [Name]!”
Me: “Perfect! Just give me a minute to set your table up.”
(I sit them down and just about manage to grab another table for the extra people that had arrived. The group has been nothing but rude and dismissive of me the entire time. Ten minutes later another lady approaches the host stand.)
Me: “Good evening and welcome to [Restaurant]!”
Lady #2: “Good evening! I have a reservation for 12 people under the name [Name]. We are ten minutes late and only 10 have made it! Sorry about the inconvenience.”
Me: *gesturing* “Oh! I believe I already sat your group just over there.”
Lady #2: “Um… I don’t think so. I don’t know anyone at that table.”
Me: *paling* “Oh… If you could just give me one moment, I will arrange a table for you.”
Lady #2: *shows me emailed confirmation of reservation and laughing* “Did that table steal our reservation?”
Me: “It appears that a mistake was made. However, it’s no problem as I can seat you also!”
(It turned out the first group did in fact steal the reservation as the server overheard them bragging about their ingenuity. Thankfully, the second group found the whole situation funny and I was able to seat them anyway, even with a busy restaurant!)
The post Have No Reservations About Stealing Reservations appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
The novel's going well and wow, UST by the bucket! *grin* It's going to be fun next chapter because that's where I'll see if it turns into a threesome or something else.
Didn't get my steps. Don't much care. I should. I've only got 2 months left to the trip to Japan and I really do need to get my endurance up. Still don't. I enjoyed relaxing a bit tonight.
Tomorrow's goals are write, exercises, pick my beans as they're about done in the garden, and pick up supplies for the last fence panel of the year. Not sure I'll get the beans but I'll try.
Off to bath and bed for me--goodnight everyone!
(I work at a clothing store where the sales associates are encouraged to dress fashionably. A very well-dressed, seemingly calm-looking, elderly woman is browsing in my section, which is mainly bikinis and the type of stuff you’d wear to Coachella. After around forty minutes of this, she stalks up to me and bellows:)
Customer: “Where’s your skirt?!”
Customer: *points to the skirt I’m wearing* “Where is it?!”
Me: “Oh, sorry, this skirt isn’t from here. I bought it from a Canadian company – [Company]. You can probably order it online.”
Customer: *looking angry* “That was the whole reason I was here!” *proceeds to immediately walk out in a huff*
The post Decides To Skirt Around The Issue appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
Many users rely on cloud-based machine learning and data collection for everything from tagging photos of friends online to remembering shopping preferences. Although this can be useful and convenient, it can also be a user privacy disaster. With new machine learning features in its latest phone and desktop operating system releases, Apple is exploring ways to provide these kinds of services and collect related user data with more regard for privacy. Two of these features—on-device facial recognition and differential privacy—deserve a closer look from a privacy perspective. While we applaud these steps, it's hard to know how effective they are without more information from Apple about their implementation and methods.
Facial recognition and machine learning
Let’s start with the new object and facial recognition feature for the Photos app. The machine learning processing necessary for an app like Photos to recognize faces in pictures is usually run in the cloud, exposing identifiable user data to security threats. Instead, Apple has bucked this industry trend and opted to develop a system that runs in the background on your phone, tablet, or laptop only, without you having to upload your photos to the cloud. Keeping user data on the device like this—rather than sending it off to Apple's servers or other third parties—is often better for user privacy and security.
The choice to run machine learning models like facial recognition on a device rather than in the cloud involves some trade-offs. When deployed this way, Apple loses speed, power, and instant access to mountains of user data for its facial recognition machine learning model. On the other hand, users gain something much more important: privacy and control over their information. Running these services on the device rather than in the cloud gives users a higher degree of privacy, especially in terms of law enforcement access to their data.
While cloud is often the default for large-scale data processing, Apple has shown that it doesn't have to be. With these trade-offs in mind, Apple has rightly recognized that privacy is too great a price to pay when working with data as sensitive and identifiable as users' private photos. Running a machine learning model on the device is not a privacy guarantee—but at the very least, it’s a valuable effort to offer technically sophisticated facial recognition functionality to users without requiring all of them to hand over their photos.
The second noteworthy feature of Apple’s latest release is a model called differential privacy. In general, differential privacy is a process for making large datasets both as accurate and as anonymous as possible. It’s important to note that Apple is not the first large-scale data operation to take on differential privacy: Microsoft researchers pioneered the field, Google employs anonymized data collection algorithms, and the Census Bureau released a differentially private dataset. Collectively, these initiatives show the way forward for other parts of the tech industry: when user data needs to be collected, there are often cleverer, safer, more privacy-respecting ways to do it.
In this case, Apple is trying to ensure that queries on its database of user data don’t leak too much information about any individuals. The best way to do that is to not have a database full of private information—which is where differential privacy comes in. Differential privacy helps companies like Apple learn as much as possible about their users in general without revealing identifiable information about any individual user in particular. Differentially private datasets and analysis can, for example, answer questions about what kinds of people like certain products, what topic is most popular in a news cycle, or how an application tends to break.
Apple has released few details about its specific approach to differential privacy. It has publicly mentioned statistics and computer science methods like hashing (transforming data into a unique string of random characters), subsampling (using only a portion of all the data), and noise injection (systematically adding random data to obscure individuals’ information). But until Apple provides more information about its process (which it may do in a white paper, as it in the past), we are left guessing as to exactly how and at what point in data collection and analysis such methods are applied.
Just as on-device machine learning has trade-offs, so too does differential privacy. Differential privacy relies on the concept of a privacy budget: essentially, the idea you can only make so much use of your data without compromising its privacy-preserving properties. This is a tricky balancing act between accuracy and anonymity. The parameters and inputs of a given privacy budget can describe how information is being collected, how it is being processed, and what the privacy guarantees are.
With the new release, Apple is employing differential privacy methods when collecting usage data on typing, emoji, and searching in an attempt to provide better predictive suggestions. To date, differential privacy has had much more academic attention than practical application, so it's interesting and important to see major technology companies applying it—even if that application has both good and bad potential consequences.
On the good side, Apple has apparently put some work into collecting user data with regard for privacy. What's more, even the use of differential privacy methods on user data is opt-in, a step we're very glad to see Apple take.
However, Apple is collecting more data than it ever has before. Differential privacy is still a new, fairly experimental pursuit, and Apple is putting it to the test against millions of users' private data. And without any transparency into the methods employed, the public and the research community have no way to verify the implementation—which, just like any other initial release, is very likely to have flaws. Although differential privacy is meant to mathematically safeguard against such flaws in theory, the details of such a large roll-out can blow away those guarantees. Apple's developer materials indicate that it's well aware of these requirements—but with Apple both building and utilizing its datasets without any oversight, we have to rely on it to self-police.
In the cases of both facial recognition and differential privacy, Apple deserves credit for implementing technology with user privacy in mind. But to truly advance the cause of privacy-enhancing technologies, Apple should release more details about its methods to allow other technologists, researchers, and companies to learn from it and move toward even more effective on-device machine learning and differential privacy.
( My feelings about one of the candidates )
Anyway. It was nice to see Hillary kindly assist Donald Trump off several rhetorical cliffs. I enjoyed the moment when the audience started laughing when Trump said that he had a winning temperament. Ahaha. Yeah.
Anyway, to find solace and context, I turn to the two -- really, three, political podcasts I've been following this year. The oldest feed is the 538 politics podcast, which I followed in hopes of understanding the polls. Spoiler -- I still don't understand the polls. But I like their dynamic! I hope there's actually fic for them come Yuletide and that they never, never get to read it.
I like Glenn Thrush's Off Message podcasts because he seems to get really big names on it, but it's only once a week.
My latest political podcast addition is the Keepin' It 1600, with Jon Favreau (not the MCU actor/director, but the handsome Obama speechwriter) and other dudes talk about politics from an unabashedly Democratic perspective. I really enjoy listening to them, although I have a problem with... You know the sexist complaint sexists make when there are more than two women on a podcast? I, uh, kind of have that problem with these dudes. They all have very pleasant voices, but I can't quite pick them out of the lineup.
Except for Jon Lovett.
First episode I listened to, he dramatically declared his love for that Kenosha political operative, Reince Pribus, and I knew This Guy Gets It. He also worked for Hillary in '08, so there's a little bit of friendly friction there between him and the others. Plus, he screams a lot and honestly, it is the season for screamng. I am a fan. Well done, Jon Lovett. Well screamt.
(I am a cashier at a restaurant. We are a small business and the owners are still working on the perfect way to run the business. A couple walk in and order at the counter as usual. After finding a table, the woman returns to the counter.)
Customer: “Excuse me; do you have any larger chairs? My husband is too large to fit in these.”
(I know we don’t have any, but I go in the back to ask the owner for advice anyway. I return to the counter with no real solution.)
Me: *”No, ma’am. We don’t have any larger chairs; I’m sorry for your husband’s discomfort.”
Customer: “Okay, thanks anyway.”
(She goes back to her table, visibly upset. The husband returns to fill his drink, and I notice he is wearing an adult bib. They eat all their food with seemingly no complaints. They talk for a few minutes, and then the wife returns to the counter.)
Customer: “Excuse me, I’m having an allergic reaction. Is the manager around?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am. Let me go grab the owner for you.”
Owner: “What’s wrong, ma’am ?”
Customer: “My throat is itchy. I’m allergic to something in your food. Could you name the ingredients for me?”
Owner: *names every ingredient in the food she and her husband has eaten*
Customer: “I’m not allergic to any of that.”
Owner: “I’m sorry, ma’am, then you didn’t have an allergic reaction here.”
Customer: *becoming more angry by the second* “I said my throat is itchy and I’m having an allergic reaction! Don’t you care at all about your customers?”
Owner: “Would you like me to call an ambulance?”
Customer: “No! I’m fine! We were just leaving!”
(She pulled her husband out the door. He seemed indifferent to her “allergic reaction.” He even waved to us on the way out.)
The post Allergic To Common Sense, Part 10 appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
⌈ Secret Post #3555 ⌋
Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.
( More! )
Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 27 secrets from Secret Submission Post #508.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
(It’s my first week on the job, and really excited about it (stupid me) because at the time I really liked retail. I’m in training. I’m shadowing my manager at the register. A woman comes in with a pair of shoes that she wants to return. I’ve known this since the day I started: there is a very strict return policy that says that the shoes must be UNWORN and returned within SEVEN DAYS of purchasing. It’s on every single receipt printed from the register, and there’s a rather large sign in front of the register, right where the woman is standing.)
Customer: “Excuse me, I need to return these.”
Coworker: “Do you have your receipt?”
Customer: “Yes, here. These shoes simply don’t fit me and are uncomfortable so I need to return them.”
Coworker: “Well, ma’am, it says here that you paid for these a month ago.”
Customer: *quickly getting belligerent* “So?”
Coworker: “Ma’am, we cannot take these back. Our return policy says that we cannot. However, we can do an exchange if you’d like—”
Customer: “Your return policy? No one ever said anything about a return policy!”
(I slowly reach in front of the computer and tap the sign about the return policy. I clear my throat politely. The woman stares at it as though the words are going to jump out and murder her.)
Coworker: *politely* “We would have told you when you bought the shoes, as that’s part of our company policy. It was also on the bottom of your receipt, ma’am, right here. It’s the part that takes up most of the receipt.”
(The customer grabs the shoes, glares at us, and takes off, scoffing at us the entire way.)
Coworker: *sighing* “Sadly that’s not the dumbest thing I’ve seen all week.”
(I was at that job nearly two years after that.)
The post Returner Burner, Part 4 appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
2. We finished Queen In-hyun's Man last night. It was adorable! I mean, it didn't stir my soul the way Healer did, but definitely a 4/5, would recommend. Very clever use of time-travel, adorable leading lady and impressively smart and chill leading man. Next week we're dipping into the random collection of Kdramas I've Acquired to see what we can find to replace it.
3. I had an excellent day yesterday. There was less of the bone-chilling Arctic wind than there has been of late, so I cycled to meet vaudevilles for lunch, then went and sat on the waterfront to go through my Korean vocab flashcards and have a brief conversation with a ladybird that landed on my hand. (♥) I went for a swim at the pool and cycled home, intending to drive up to J's for Kdrama watchings, but it was a nice enough day that the car didn't seem justified, so I took the bike there too.
We're watching Sports Night along with our regularly scheduled Kdrama, and a lot of it is putting my teeth on edge this time around, but I'm still all, "Awww! Dan and Casey! Smooshcakes!"
4. Over the weekend I finished the first draft of the fic I was writing! \o/ \o/ \o/ It's an AU of the White Collar s1 finale, and it's the longest thing I've written in ages. Now I just need to hammer it into some kind of shape. wc_rewatch | wc_rewatch is back, so I don't have much time or I'll get behind on that. (Who am I kidding? I'm already behind on that. I only have three days left to watch 2.01 and make a fanwork for it, and those days are already full of other things. (Note: Fanworks aren't a compulsory part of wc_rewatch, by any means; I just don't want to break my streak.))
5. My brainwave idea: fanworks creators should be able to pin a work at the top of their AO3 works list.
(My primary motivator for thinking this is that I'm still deeply invested in my Waltzverse, but thanks to my flurry of wc_rewatch missing scenes and episode tags, all the Waltzverse fics are now buried on the second page, and the first story is probably even further back.)
What do you think? Shall I put in a support request? (Better yet -- does someone else want to?)
Here's hoping everyone is doing well, it's been great to see a few posts from people about their own progress - Well done (and my apologies for not staying on top of checking my pages and having time to comment individually and on time!)
So does anyone need a prompt for the day? Hmmmmm, now let me think .... How about checking out your purse/wallet/bag and removing out of date receipts, notes etc and re-organising it to make you life easier.
Me: “All right, Mr. [Customer]. Your flight date change has been confirmed and issued a new ticket for. All I need to do is to send you an email so let me verify the email address on file.” *reads back his Gmail address*
Customer: “No, no, no! That one is in Maui. I’m in Honolulu right now; I’ll give you another one.”
The post Email Fail, Part 8 appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
2) Classic Recs is coming to buffyversetop5! Lots of possibilities for posts so hopefully I'll see some of you there.
3) Thanks to cathexys I came across several videos I hadn't seen yet. ( Read more... )
I'm a sucker for fandom meta videos so I particularly enjoyed Anything for Love. I like the way it encapsulates fandom friendships in the way that new fandom loves get bounced around, and also how barriers about what you like and what you do get broken. It also shows why fandom is always creating new practices and colonizing new places.
I have a linkback poem, "E Meglio Star Solo" (14 verses, Fiorenza the Wisewoman).
If you're interested, mark the date on your calendar, and please hold actual prompts until the "Poetry Fishbowl Open" post next week. (If you're not available that day, or you live in a time zone that makes it hard to reach me, you can leave advance prompts. I am now.) Meanwhile, if you want to help with promotion, please feel free to link back here or repost this on your blog.
( New to the fishbowl? Read all about it! )
Do you get creeped out when an ad eerily related to your recent Internet activity seems to follow you around the web? Do you ever wonder why you sometimes see a green lock with “https” in your address bar, and other times just plain “http”? EFF’s team of technologists and computer scientists can help. We engineer solutions to these problems of sneaky tracking, inconsistent encryption, and more. Our projects are released under free and open source licenses like the GNU General Public License or Creative Commons licenses, and we make them freely available to as many users as possible. Where users face threats to their free expression, privacy, and security online, EFF’s technology projects are there to defend them.
Below we go over five of EFF’s many technology tools and projects. In different ways, they all function to increase your security on the Internet—with the implicit assertion that personal privacy is at the foundation of that security.
Third-party tracking—that is, when advertisers and websites track your browsing activity across the web without your knowledge, control, or consent—is an alarmingly widespread practice in online advertising. Privacy Badger puts you back in control by spotting and then blocking third-party domains that seem to be tracking your browsing habits. Although Privacy Badger blocks many ads in practice, it is more a privacy tool than a strict ad blocker. Privacy Badger encourages advertisers to treat users respectfully and anonymously rather than the industry status quo of online tracking. It does this by unblocking content from domains which respect our Do Not Track policy, which states that the participating site will not retain any information about users who have expressed that they do not want to be tracked.
Even if you use Privacy Badger and other privacy-protecting add-ons, you can still possibly be tracked through a technique called “browser fingerprinting”. Panopticlick investigates how unique each browser is—and shows users just how easy it is for third parties to uniquely identify their browsers. A combination of a user tool and a larger research project, Panopticlick analyzes information about the configuration and version information of your operating system, browser, plug-ins, and add-ons, and compares it to a growing anonymous database of other browser fingerprints. This generates a “uniqueness score,” giving you an idea of how easily identifiable you and your browser may be on the Internet.
A collaboration between EFF and the Tor Project, HTTPS Everywhere is an extension for Firefox (both desktop and Android), Chrome, and Opera that makes your browser use HTTPS to encrypt its communication with websites to the greatest extent possible. Some websites offer inconsistent support for HTTPS, use unencrypted HTTP as a default, or link from secure HTTPS pages to unencrypted HTTP pages. HTTPS Everywhere fixes these problems by rewriting requests to these sites to HTTPS, automatically activating encryption and HTTPS protection that might otherwise slip through the cracks.
Where HTTPS Everywhere gives users of all skill sets access to a web encrypted by default, Certbot offers all domain owners and website administrators a convenient way to move to HTTPS. Certbot is a client for the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority (CA) which is operated by the Internet Security Research Group. CAs play a crucial identification and verification role in the web encryption ecosystem—and Let’s Encrypt is one of the world’s largest, having issued certificates to over 5 million unique domains. Certbot deploys Let’s Encrypt certificates with easy-to-follow, interactive instructions based on your webserver and operating system.
Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD) is EFF's guide to defending yourself and your friends from digital surveillance. In addition to tutorials for installing and using security-friendly software, SSD walks you through concepts like threat modeling, the importance of strong passwords, and protecting metadata. We put this all together with “playlists” for specific groups’ security needs and considerations, including LGBTQ youth, different professions (like academic researchers journalists, activists or protesters, and human rights defenders) and varied skill levels (from those new to security to online security veterans).
How to get involved
Choosing to use EFF’s technology tools is enough to make you part of the movement. Privacy Badger, for example, is an easy way to promote responsible advertising (that is, advertising that does not track users without their consent) as a viable model for free web content.
For those with design, programming, and/or security skills, volunteering to dig into the code is an even more direct way to contribute to these projects. From improving design and usability to reporting and fixing bugs to finding and patching security issues, EFF is always looking for more people to participate in our thriving open source community.
Even with invaluable volunteer help, keeping EFF’s tech projects running smoothly for the millions of users who rely on them requires serious development and maintenance from our team of technologists. We are committed to continuing to do this work—and to expanding it—in the future. Make a donation to support our technology projects work here.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has failed the American public. Let's count the ways.
- It has presided over the conclusion of a massively unpopular trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that both Presidential candidates have rejected. Among many other effects, the agreement would extend copyright terms by two decades in six of the member countries, would lock in criminal penalties for copyright infringement, and put journalists and whistleblowers at risk for disclosing corporate secrets.
- The USTR is notorious for having one of the Administration's worst revolving doors, meaning that staff frequently cycle between the agency and powerful industries. This has resulted in the effective capture of the agency by those industries, which explains why U.S. trade policy is so biased in favour of Hollywood and the pharmaceutical companies.
- It publishes an annual Special 301 Report that harasses other countries into making unnecessary changes to their copyright and patent laws in favor of those same powerful industry lobbies, with harmful effects on ordinary users around the world, including users from developing countries.
- The USTR has consistently resisted all attempts at making it more transparent in its engagement with the public. It included no reforms to the transparency of trade negotiations in its latest commitments as a member of the Open Government Partnership. Last year it appointed an insider, namely its own General Counsel, as its Chief Transparency Officer, who he has brought in precisely zero reforms since then.
We could go on… but suffice it to say that the USTR has shown no inclination to improve its own transparency, and that external measures are needed to force change. EFF therefore cautiously welcomes last week's introduction of H.R. 6141, the Promoting Transparency in Trade Act, by Representative Debbie Dingell, with co-sponsorship by Representatives Rick Nolan, Mark Pocan, Tim Ryan, and Jan Schakowsky.
This legislation would do two out of three important things that nine groups, including EFF and others asked for in a May 2016 set of Recommendations [PDF] for the USTR's 2016 Open Government Plan:
- It would also require the publication of the negotiating position of the U.S. at the conclusion of such negotiating round, which may differ from the draft consolidated text. This is equivalent to the existing practice of the European Commission for its trade negotiations, as adopted in 2014.
- It would require the USTR to appoint an independent transparency officer, rather than an insider. This would reduce the appearance of a conflict of interest between an officer who is on the one hand required to protect the agency's own interests, and on the other hand to hold it to account and elevate the transparency of its practices.
The one important thing that the current legislation omits to do is to require the publication of consolidated draft texts of trade agreements after each round of negotiations. This reform, alone, would be a significant advance which would bring trade negotiations into line with other intergovernmental treaty negotiations such as those that take place at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is unfortunate that, although it was part of an earlier draft, this didn't make it into the current draft bill. We are hopeful that the bill can be amended to include this in its final form.
None of these three proposals, even including the omitted one, is particularly radical. They are far less radical, for example, than a separate proposal by Congressman Morgan Griffith that would actually divest the USTR of its authority and move it to a committee of Congress. EFF considers the Promoting Transparency in Trade Act to be an important and achievable step forward in making long-needed reforms to the USTR. Provided that it can be amended to include the publication of consolidated texts, EFF supports the bill.
(This happens to my coworker. I work in a shop that sells instruments. A customer actually comes into our shop and says the following:)
Customer: “I have a $50 gift card to Amazon and I’d like to use that to buy an instrument on Amazon. Can you tell me what brand of instrument I should buy?”
The post The Day The Music Died appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
(I am scanning a lady’s groceries at the checkout. She has several containers of a brand of guacamole that is packaged without a re-sealable top.)
Lady: “I love this guacamole you carry! Too bad it spoils so fast.”
Me: “Well, they are freshly made, so it’s important to keep them chilled.”
Lady: “I mean, they go bad in a matter of hours! I should really be able to return them!”
Lady: “I have to buy a lot so I always have some! I mean really, why do they come in such large packages if it spoils so quickly?”
Me: “Well, it will go brown on the top if the lid is off for a matter of time, but that’s just an oxidization reaction, like in apples, so it’s still fresh.”
Lady: “I should get a refund every time this guacamole spoils!”
Me: “Guacamole does not go bad that quickly. It’s still perfectly edible even if there’s slight discoloration.”
Lady: *taking receipt and her several tubs of guacamole* No! It spoils! I’ll get my money back one of these days!”
Coworker: *once she has left the building* “The only thing spoiled here is her.”
The post Her Excuse Is Not So Fresh appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
Start All Over (in a Little Bitty World) (18520 words) by Dira Sudis
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America (Movies)
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Steve Rogers
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Steve Rogers
Additional Tags: Age Play, sexual age play, Daddy Kink, Consensual Kink, Homegrown Kink Practices, In-Scene Kink Negotiation, Bathing/Washing, Virginity Roleplay, please and thank you, Spanking, Corporal Punishment, Face Slapping, 1930s Parenting, Dom/sub, Anal Fingering, Anal Sex, Bruises, Cuddling & Snuggling
Steve had been all of nineteen years old, frustrated with the obvious pretense of dominating Bucky when he barely came up to Bucky’s shoulder, even though they both desperately wanted it to work. He’d snapped, “This is stupid, Buck! I couldn’t really boss you around when you were six years old!”
Bucky, without hesitation, had said, “I’ll be five, then. Come on, here, I’m five.”
He’d folded to his knees and looked up at Steve for the first time with Jamesy’s eyes, spoke for the first time with Jamesy’s voice, and said, “Mister? I need somebody to look after me.”
Steve hadn’t always done the best job of it, but God, he’d tried, and he’d loved trying. He wasn’t ever going to quit trying.
The shul I grew up with was, for the area, an old shul. It was founded in the early 1900s, when Eastern European Jews who'd come to New York in the First Wave were starting to move out of the city proper. There was the town it was founded in, which over the next fifty years became a small but significant manufacturing center, and there was farmland all around in every direction. It was an Orthodox synagogue, more or less, but Orthodoxy meant something a lot different back then before the War. It was the only synagogue, is more to the point, and people davened there regardless of how observant they were. In the 1920s, as the Jewish community grew, they moved to a bigger building: a fussy, idiosyncratic building that could be radically reconfigured as the community needed for different functions.
The community grew, and Judaism in America changed- in the 1950s, the shul hired a new Rabbi who was from the first class of the new Beis Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ- the earliest post-war establishment of organized Charedi Judaism in America. Ironically, though BMG would ultimately become one of the major forces moving Orthodoxy rightward, the Rabbi who went to my shul went with dispensations from BMG to make allowances for the lack of observance in the community- over time, my shul's identity became blurred, a synagogue with a brilliant, well-trained Orthodox Rabbi and a mostly non-Orthodox congregation that nonetheless refused to affiliate officially with either the Conservative or Orthodox movements. In the '70s, as the farmland turned into suburbs, larger officially affiliated Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform shuls opened in the adjacent townships, drawing members from my shul.
But my shul still had history, it still had a strong sense of community, it had character, and it still had a brilliant Rabbi, who served the community for almost fifty years. He performed my bris and my bar mitzvah, and then when I was a teenager he retired. The shul then ran through two Rabbis in the next five years, losing members by the score the whole way. When I was away at college the shul folded. It formally merged with a Conservative synagogue a few towns away, but it sold its building to a Hispanic church and it distributed its remaining assets not only to the shul it officially merged with, but to the five or six other shuls, of all three denominations, its members fled to.
And since then, its members daven all over the place, or they've lost shul affiliation altogether, and mostly I see them on the occasion of a shiva minyan when an old member dies, but the people who ran the morning minyan were able to get the Jewish county Federation (an umbrella organization that runs charitable community services and distributes money to other Jewish community organizations) to let them use their building for a daily prayer service during the week. So this small group of people- we struggle to get a prayer quorum on time most days, unless someone has a yahrzeit and puts out a special call- reunites as a minyan in exile to keep this community alive.
When I daven there, I'm usually the youngest person there by thirty years, and most attendees are even forty or fifty years older than me. It's a wonderful group of people of diverse religious beliefs and life experiences- college professors and a judge, and electricians and construction workers, most of them retired or working reduced hours. We've all known each other for decades - even me, I've been davening in this minyan with these people since I was thirteen, I was the only kid who stayed on and kept davening there after bar mitzvah, and we're comfortable yelling at each other and bickering with each other and teasing each other.
And I don't know how long it will last. The shiva minyans for old members grow more frequent, and the minyan is in a tenuous condition where if it loses three or four regulars that might be enough to end it. it won't be the end of the world if it does end, either. This is not a "Minyan Man" scenario where losing the minyan means people won't be able to constitute a minyan if they need it. Everyone in the minyan has an alternative minyan that is probably closer and more convenient and integrated into their full-time synagogue that they could go to instead. We choose to daven together instead, to temporarily reconstitute a vanished community. It'll be sad when it falls apart.
Read Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath #8: Nightmare of the Iguana. Wendell's mother just took a leap from "your friend's annoying health food and science ed mother" into "your friend's seriously dysfunctional health food and science ed mother who is doing him real harm with her food issues."
Also Dragonbreath #9: The Case of the Toxic Mutants, in which I enjoyed Danny's grandfather and his neighbour more than most of the other characters.
Started Max Gladstone's Last First Snow. Hi Elayne!
Still reading Les Mis sporadically, having fallen off the every day thing again.
Splurged on Kate Bornstein's My New Gender Workbook (I already own the original edition, but this one's ten years newer and vastly updated) which was heavily discounted at the Book Depository, because with Various Stuff that's been going on, I really needed a trans auncy to come tell me my gender identity is valid. (Kate signs hirself as Aunty Kate on Twitter, but I typed auncy above because the fact that ze's genderqueer is relevant here to why I needed hir book right now.)
(Side note: auncy or aunky? "uncle" doesn't have a K in it, but I know some people use "ankle" rather than "auncle" for a non-binary parent's sibling or affectionate title of respect for someone a generation older than one. And I feel like aunky is more fun to spell and easier to figure out how to pronounce. But it's easier to guess what auncy means, so...?) (Another side note: I am so grateful to hir for being Aunt Kate to whoever wants hir to. And the same to George Takei re Uncle George.)
Anyway, that arrived, and I'm flipping through it gratefully.
Reading T. Kingfisher's serial, Summer in Orcus, as it arrives.
Read Courtney Milan's Year of the Crocodile, a short story (10K words) set after Trade Me, in which Tina's parents tag-team Blake's dad. I will just leave that out of context, shall I? So, I read this, then I read the two short stories Milan linked to in the back of the ebook, then I read the spoiler page on her website, then I went !!!!! and now I cannot wait for the rest of it.
I've been really excited about Hold Me (the sequel to Trade Me, about Tina's best friend Maria, who is trans and Latina) since I finished Trade Me, and have been low-key pissed off that apparently AFR bit the author's brain so hard she couldn't finish that one before haring off to write his story. After reading Year of the Crocodile and then those short stories and then the spoilers? I understand now. And I CANNOT WAIT for AFR's story, omg. (I guessed one key element of it when I read Trade Me, which was confirmed in Year of the Crocodile. But there's more.)
Comics and Manga
Read Lumberjanes vol 1. It's not what I expected (a lot more supernatural weirdness) but I like it. Poor Jen.
You know that game where you make a fake album cover? Using a random Wikipedia page for the band name, the last 3-5 words of a random quote from Wikiquote for the album name, and the fifth image from the 'Last 7 Days' page on Flickr as the cover art? (I used a random image from Wikimedia Commons instead of Flickr) And put the band name and album title on the image and post the result? I did that. (Description text is in the alt tag.) I may have overdone it a little with the effects, but the random image I got was a crappy diagram, and I kind of haven't gotten around to installing any fonts that GIMP has access to (the font shown is standard Sans with an Oilify filter run over it.) It's been a while since I did any photoshopping. So that was fun.
Does anyone know how to stop growing broccoli? Like, when the season's over and I'm pretty sure it's too warm for it to produce anything other than flowers. Do I dig it up, or?
Dug up the carrots. All of them. I planted them as seedlings, three months ago. The largest turned out to be the size of my thumb, and most of them were more like toe length, and pencil girth. I chopped them up and cooked them in a chilli situation, with red kidney beans, tomatoes, rice, and spinach. The spinach was also from my garden, and was rather bitten (I suspect snails -- I saw two of the fuckers fucking on the side of my parsley pot a week ago) but otherwise fine.
The kale and spinach are still going. My lunch today involved a kale and chickpea and bacon situation. :D My summer garden plans involve tomatoes and basil.
The AYL TC80 4-In-1 CREE LED Flashlight is a very solid-feeling flashlight with a very bright and clear blue white light from both the front (size/focus adjustable) and the lantern midsection and a fast-flashing red light. It runs on 4 AAA batteries.
The base is strongly magnetised so that you can use it handfree if there's an appropriate surface. It's also great for picking up dropped nuts/screws/etc.
( more and photos )
Does my pedantic self want to actually edit my great-great grandfather's Wikipedia entry? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_S
I mean, I have no desire to actually add more crap about his career and flesh out the stub, but STURGES WAS HIS MIDDLE NAME. NOT PART OF HIS LAST NAME. STOP REFERRING TO HIM AS STURGES JACKSON, OKAY?
OMG, it makes me so twitchy. Like, dude, his son, who has a full Wikipedia entry because WWI, is clearly just Jackson (also Thomas--there was a line of at least seven of them in a row). His use of his full name, including the Sturges, was probably done to disambiguate him from his father (also as well too Thomas, full entry, not a stub) and grandfather (no Wikipedia entry, I think, and yes, a Thomas, like his father before him--I mentioned the seven in a row?).
"Sturges Jackson was blah blah blah." NO
"Jackson was blah blah blah." YES
The first presidential debate.
You're not alive or well (or don't have cable or internet) if you don't at least know it was on tonight, and you haven't done your duty to democracy nor caught an historic moment if you missed it. I'm not going to go the fair and balanced route in discussing it because the media has done enough of that for us, elevating Trump to seem like someone he never was, namely, a serious candidate. Like I'm going to write about one serious candidate running against Archie Bunker after he gets an unexpected inheritance, so I'm going to say serious things, and expect people to take it seriously.
Haaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa NO.
That's the only reason this debate was historic and why you really don't know what you were missing if you missed it. Feel the FOMO, because it's real. The proof of what we have on offer in November is neatly wrapped up in this one hour and some-odd minutes of verbal sparring (the some-odd mostly because Donald would not shut his mouth): on our right we have a strong, intelligent, poised, gracious woman who seems well-capable of leading; on our left, an asinine loose canon who speaks in more code than they could safely cram into that Da Vinci-something flick without moviewatcher's heads exploding.
While Trump didn't make some of his usual mistakes - like pointing out his sole African American supporter - he did hit all the typical buzzers for a Donald Trump appearance, debate personas be damned - including how he verbally ran over Hillary throughout, an immediately noticeable fact from the get-go. I have both praise for and wonder at her restraint, because I wouldn't have lasted two minutes being constantly interrupted. By at most the second or third time I would've brought the debate to an absolute standstill by a) asking Donald to stop interrupting, and when that likely failed, b) asking the moderator to warn him not to interrupt again.
I mean, seriously? We all learned when we were five
unless we were spoiled brat bullies given no discipline, most likely because everyone was afraid of our rich, powerful daddy: you don't interrupt. You let people speak their turn. She's given two minutes, you're given two minutes. The rules are simple, clear, and as victimized as Donald has felt throughout the process of somehow stealing, killing or Russian-hacking his way to a win - none of which would raise an eyebrow over at Chateau MM, unfortunately - the rules apply to both of them, not just the person who doesn't happen to have a dick.
I don't know if she consciously thought of pointing out his interruptions but chose to grin and bear the many dozens, or if she simply didn't have the nerve to bring it up (perhaps she feared a "damsel-in-distress" look would not go over well with the mostly male, Hillary-hating faction) but the fact that the interruptions remained unaddressed by anyone, including the moderator, whose job it is to moderate, left me feeling sort of queasy. Did the moderator choose not to stop Donald's verbal barrage because he's a man and men interrupt, so to him Donald was displaying normal, typical male behavior? Did he choose not to comment because he was scared, or felt that he had to give Donald an extra-wide berth to rant on and on with to erase any notion that he was being "treated unfairly by the media"?
The lack of oversight against Donald's mouth took what would have been pure spectacle - Donald Duck vs. Hillary in a debate that people will want, but likely be unable to take seriously - and made it hard to endure. The verbal onslaught - the bullying, harassing, haranguing, "I win" nature of his interruptions was actually exhausting. I failed to hear the last five to 20 words of many of Hillary's sentences because Donald would jump in too soon. His cutoffs seemed not only timed to keep her from finishing but also to show her - and to show the world watching him interrupt her - blatant disrespect, a disregard for the thoughts she was forming as she spoke. It was a disgrace.
For all that I disagreed with how she handled his verbal warfare, Hillary was gracious and articulate; not wonky, boring nor dispassionate, as so many people seemed to expect. She seemed sincere in her desire to help everyday people get ahead, and said enough things I agreed with that the chorus of "Amen"s emanating from, of all people, me, was a surprise. Before I get into recounting Donald's Greatest Hateful Hits, I'll point out the one thing Hillary said that set me back, and the two areas where our known racist actually shined (he's either sincere or the greatest actor on earth, in which case we're in trouble, a topic which I'll address briefly at the end).
Firstly, that bit early on where Hillary said she wants to be our next president was unnecessary, at best. I don't need advertisements mixed in with my normal debate banter.
And I felt she lost me on the race question. She was quick to point out that things are not so bad for blacks (a view I strongly disagree with) and that they have their faith-based communities and churches. Which made me wince. A lot. It was the most racist thing anyone said, and this was one topic I thought Donald would fall on like a sword, while Hillary would shine. Instead of addressing how much minorities are hurting in very, very real ways (most of those stemming from clear, obvious lack of support from the whites who run everything) she dragged out tired old tropes and stereotypes in saying that well, they can lean on their churches and their faith during hard times (implied: so they'll be fine, OK? You can't kill them, they always go on somehow, so let's move on). That bit me. Hard.
You don't understand a life - not a brief time, not "cycling in and out of poverty" - but a life of deprivation until you've lived it. I haven't - not really - but I spent 28 years in a mostly black neighborhood where many people did. I watched, day by day, year by year, as things never changed, except to get worse (crack, gangs, guns). And the church, as heavily as they did or didn't lean on one? Wasn't doing a damn thing for them, especially not to lift them up so they'd never have to live that way again. When she said that, a half-lifetime of memories came flooding back and I winced, because she dismissed their pain, and used a tired old trope about blacks and churches to do it.
Donald, on the other hand - and this was one of only two moments in the debate where I give him credit - though he lacked any plan to help minorities, spoke rather feelingly about them. I connected with what he was saying. He does have an ability to tell it like it is that Hillary doesn't entirely lack - she simply failed to use it in this one crucial moment, which I felt was to her detriment. People are not going to judge who will do the most for them by finding and reading their position paper. Maybe she has a great, wonderful position paper, but as we know, half the things politicians say to get elected will never come to pass, anyhow. I'm still waiting for Obama to end the NSA and give us all free internet. It rankles, these broken promises.
People will judge who will do the most for them by how that person makes them feel. And in that moment, Donald sounded like the only one pushing the right buttons.
Hillary made no major slip-ups by most common standards. There were moments where she seemed - especially as she listened to Donald say certain things or after she responded to them by saying things that are obviously very central to what she believes - a bit smug or self-satisfied. I understand she has avid fans and supporters just like him, but I think she should act a bit more circumspect and not play into her crowd with so many facial expressions. I found it off-putting - I've seen other women make faces like that, and whether the reason they were gloating was good or bad, I found I wouldn't want to be friends with them. I'm a woman, and I can say as a woman that I think we all want to be friends with you, Hillary, so knock it off.
The only other thing Donald did right - and I have to point out that he did it in the act of again doing something wrong by interrupting Hillary for the umpteenth time - was to say that our infrastructure is crumbling. This was another great Obama promise that went nowhere, the great fixing of our infrastructure that tax dollars were supposed to pay for by putting Americans to work rebuilding everything after the Great Recession put so many of us out of jobs and homes. Still waiting, are we not? Hillary did nothing to address his completely off-topic mention of this mess, but granted, there was no reason to take it up at that moment. But it's a wedge he can use against her if she doesn't address the topic eventually.
With any serious points - which I said I wouldn't get into but did, anyhow - dealt with, the debate was mostly a compendium of Donald's Greatest Hateful Hits. A 400 pound hacker lying in bed taking down the DNC (hateful, ablesit, antifat)? Check. Blaming every hateful thing he's ever said about women on his archenemy Rosie O'Donell, who twisted his arm until he cried to make him? Check. Hillary not looking fine-assed enough to be our prezzy (he looks a hot mess himself, but whatevs - also, ableist, misogynist, and an outright lie)? Check. "Law and order" repeated so many times - even over the moderator's admonitions - you'd think he was trying to start a Make America White Again rally (which he almost did)? Check. "Inner cities" said on repeat as a dog whistle to the Ford F150/gun-toting/beer-swigging crowd? Check, check, and check!
Did we do "the cyber"? Check. It's like a strange dance where you sit still behind a computer screen and pretend you're doing ballet while in reality, you're actually joining ISIS. I wish Hillary had the wit to pounce on it for the bad idiom it is. Word salads? OMG, total wordslaw around the "supporting the Iraq war" question - which is not a question, but a matter of settled fact, except according to him, where facts are the best word salads that have ever done the cyber. Not wanting to release his tax returns unless 33,000 emails undelete themselves and cyber over to the next debate? Check. Bragging about his business acumen because the fact that he dodges tax bills proves he has it? Check. And there's so much more, but until I replay the whole thing on YouTube, this is the best my memory might serve me.
I don't think either of them won or lost - not in the traditional sense, because we didn't have a traditional pairing. We had one traditional candidate, and then we had Donald. The intelligence and experience mismatches between them are so glaring that Hillary might as well have debated herself.
Both have avid supporters, and both are mostly appealing to people who's minds are made up, who won't change their minds unless Hillary makes a major gaffe that people across the aisle can agree is Just No or else if Donald makes an obvious misstep, like finally thanking his vast army of racist supporters for being so racistly supportive (something I'm surprised he didn't do tonight). He will be, after all, riding into office - if he does get elected - on their backs, and don't kid yourselves - if he does win, they'll likely demand their agenda be put forth, and he knows it.
Either way, it looks like he won by his camp's standards and Hillary won by hers. And I think this election will be a mess.
Further reading: 19 WTF Moments From the First Presidential Debate, because we all have so many WTFs.
Here in Cambridge, there's two ways to vote early:
• You can vote by mail, where you request to be mailed a ballot and fill it out and mail it back, or
• You can vote in person. Any Cambridge voter can go to any of the early polling places while they're open, starting October 24th. There's five locations for early voting: here's a list with the hours they're open.
I'm very pleased by all this: with my work schedule, Tuesdays are the least convenient possible day for me for an election to be held. Being able to vote on literally any other day of the week is a big win for me.
If your town is not Cambridge, it may work differently there. Here's Somerville. Here's Newton. Boston apparently doens't have it's act together yet, but will soon. According to the League of Women Voters of Arlington, "Early voting in Arlington will take place in the Arlington Town Hall Auditorium from Monday, Oct. 24 through Friday, Nov 4. Hours: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: 8am to 4pm. Thursday: 8am to 7pm. Friday: 8am to 12 noon." I found nothing on Medford or Waltham. This suggests Watertown will have early voting at the Town Clerk's Office, 8:30am to 5pm.
Somewhere else? Google "early voting" and your town's name + ", MA"
I love movies and books that send me to Wikipedia, or checking out a forensic anthropologist's website because of a particular detail mentioned in passing in what's meant to be entertainment. I don't want to know everything about a fictional universe, and if the new information is real and reliable, that's just the icing on the cake for me.
( Read more... )
by Rosemary Benton
Catseye is the short, but very well written, science fiction novel from the pen of the legendary Andre Norton. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't experienced much of Norton's writing myself, although her fans sing her praise joyfully and have repeatedly recommended her titles to me. Reading the back cover of Catseye while in my town's book store, I had to berate myself for not looking into her before. If half of what her book promised was true, then here was an author that I could fully invest in. I was not disappointed.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
Because of that I only got about 600 words written but I have a good idea of where I'm going for the next, oh, 2000 or so words so it's all good. Writing into the Dark? Oh yeah, we're doing it. *grin*
A little short on the steps today but we fixed another section of the fence so I don't care that much. I did good on the eating so it balances out.
Goals for tomorrow include work, writing, getting the cover and POD for this week's novel done and exercises. Plus maybe putting up the art I got at Steamposium. Once I figure out where I want it to go.
Off to bath and bed for me--goodnight everyone!
(I am working at a big box hardware store. At the time our pets policy is very lax but we stress that mainly dogs to help vision-impaired shoppers are the only animals allowed in. However, this did not stop a lot of people, especially the older customer in my line with a dog in his cart.)
Me: “Sir, just to let you know, we can only have service animals in here.”
Customer: “You know what? FINE! I hate this place! You tell your manager I’m never shopping here again and he can shove the policy up his ***!”
(The customer pays but he uses a gift card which now only has about a $5 balance remaining on it.)
Me: *about to hand the card back* “Wait, did you want me to throw this away?”
Customer: “Of course not! Why?”
Me: “You said you hated it here. You said you were never gonna shop here again…”
Customer: “Well, uh… umm.”
Me: “So, for five dollars, you’ll be back.”
The post What Price Loyalty? appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.
( Read more... )
(A customer walks up to my register.)
Me: “Hi, how are you today?”
Customer: “Not good. I got a call people are breaking into my house!”
(I quickly scan her items.)
Me: “Do you have a frequent shopper number with us?”
Customer: “Yeah, but I’m in too much of a hurry to use it. People are breaking into my house!”
(She was buying vodka and cigarettes…)
The post Will Need A Drink And A Smoke When They Get Home appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.