Amazing Thailand! Picking up a package

So in March I ordered some FYF socks for $80.  Hoping for some volleyball magic, who knows.  They look cool.

They finally arrived at my condo in Bangkok.  The process for receiving them was so amazingly inefficient.  Amazing Thailand!

  1. I got a slip in my mailbox at my condo saying there is a package at the Pra Kanong post office for me
  2. Take the BTS to Pra Kanong and find the post office
  3. come and take a number and sit and wait
  4. A guy at desk takes my number and tells me to follow him
  5. We go to another office outside and he leaves me there
  6. A man in that office looks up my information in a binder. Nope not that one, gets out another one, ah there it is.
  7. He tells me to go back into the main area and take another number and wait.
  8. I do so and am called to the same window as before.
  9. The man there enters my information into a computer.
  10. I pay him 1000 baht tariff on my 2500 baht package.  Yes that’s 40%
  11. He gives me a slip of paper and tells me to take it back outside to the outside area office
  12. I give the slip of paper to the guys in the second room.
  13. They make me sign something and give me my package

Next time you chafe at the US Postal service, remember Thailand is out there…  🙂

Follow up: in the end, amazon.com failed to deliver the goods

I have talked to so many people at Amazon.com about my issue with my kindle.  I documented the incredibly bad experience I had in a previous post.   Here is a partial list of the people that have promised to look at it and follow up:

Harish on July 10
Prashant on July 10
Emie S. (supposedly a manager or higher level) on July 8
Thakur. Rawat on July 8
Ravinder S. on July 8
Prakash on July 3
Kaviya T. on July 3
Richa S on July 3
and numerous others that I have not documented here on phone and chat.
Each one has apologized repeatedly for my inconvenience and made empty promises to follow up.
End result?  It’s two weeks after the latest empty promise and guess what?  Zero response.
Amazingly awful support you have there, amazon!  The one good thing I can say about all this is that if I were training a company on what to avoid and mistakes that can be made, I’d find this to be a useful case study.
So what I’ve done personally is stopped using Amazon for books.  I used Calibre to convert my Kindle copyright protection to an open source format and am now using iBooks to read them.  iBooks works better than the Kindle app anyhow.

A Weird Breakthrough: Focus Meditation vs. Insight Meditation

So, I’ve been meditating on and off for a few years now.  Had a 90 day streak going in 2014, experimented with binaural beats to enhance my brain waves, studied some Buddhism, have noticed some benefits from meditation, but never was really wowed with it.  I just tried to keep with it because so many people swear by it and more importantly there is really good science that shows that it has a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits.

Most of my meditations have been in the category of “insight meditation.”  Instead of focusing on a single object as in focus meditation, with insight meditation, you simply sit with a broad awareness and notice things.  This technique has really built an understanding of my mind for me, and that has been beneficial in seeing how my mind works and so helps me indirectly.  But I really never got wowed myself by it.  Until this week.

Even though I’ve read from sources that you really should build your insight meditation on top of an already good focus practice, I kind of skipped that step.  Now I can see I made a mistake.  But this week I made a shift to focus meditation in a way I never have before.  I committed to it.  This came from noticing for the thousand millionth time how unfocused my life and mind are in general.  I had never really succeeded at focus meditation.  My mind always wandered, I couldn’t keep with it.

But this past Monday, I went to a local Sangha in Bangkok and the monk as he was preparing us for a half hour meditation mentioned something I had never heard before and it struck me with force.  He said, when you sit and watch the breath, don’t sit with the idea of the breath, but rather notice and experience the physical sensation of the breath.  That seemed interesting, so I decided to try it out.

As I sat that night, I had a fantastically focused experience for a half hour.  I stayed watching my physical experience, and that almost completely divorced my mind from thought.  I was able to simply sit and watch my breath with my entire mind most of the time, fascinated by the nuances of each moment of every breath.  The translation from thinking about focusing on my breath as a mental exercise to actually focusing on my breath as a complete experience, crucially including the feeling of the air moving through my body in each moment, brought me incredibly present.

This was a huge breakthrough.  Not only am I able to “succeed” at staying focused throughout the meditation, but I am now actually seeing the much vaunted benefits of meditation appear in my life firsthand.  My mind is incredibly more focused and clear after meditating in this way.  It feels rested and sharp.  And by developing this insane focus for 20 minutes each day in the morning, the rest of the day I stay on task much easier.  The ability to leave my thoughts and go into my body even makes sex better, I noticed today.  Way better.

This evening as usual, at around 7:30pm, my brain was tired and I felt like tuning out and going into the downward “going to bed” mentality that usually eclipses my evenings.  So I tried an experiment.  I sat down with my little Buddha candle in front of me and did another 20 minute session.  When I came out of it and sat down in front of my computer to finish watching Bill Maher, I realized I would rather study Thai.  I did so for a half hour, and then I stopped and poured a glass of bourbon.

Then I remembered I was going to blog about meditation.  So I just banged this post out too.  This is remarkable for me, these two small bits of productivity, because they both involved concentration at some level and focus, something that normally at this time of night, just aren’t there for me.  And the motivation, forget about it normally.  But after round 2 of meditation, bang, there it is.  Hmm.

Remarkable!  I recommend you add this trick to your meditations if you are not already experiencing success in focus meditation or find your mind wandering excessively.  Just watch the breath as a full experience, and stop thinking about watching the breath.  Get fascinated by it.  I’m excited!  I feel like meditating more and more… quite interesting.

Amazon Kindle app on OS X is a hopeless mess, as is user support

I recently started having a mysterious problem with my Kindle app on Mac OS X.  It will not log me in.

The first thing that happens is this.  I have nothing in my library.  This is because my Kindle.app is disconnected from Amazon.   

Very reasonable to expect that I next need to log in: 

I type in my username and password and get another prompt to log in, but this time with a CAPTCHA added.  Why am I being asked to log in again?  If a captcha is necessary, why not ask me in the first dialog?  I’m already annoyed.  Stupid but hey, not unbearable yet.  

After passing the captcha test, the weirdness begins.  Kindle decides I need to be sent a 6 digit code by email and then enter it.  Seems reasonable, well, except that it’s totally annoying.  However, what happens is I am transferred to my browser, Chrome, to enter the code.  Kindle.app goes into the background and Chrome comes up in front with the following “Verifying it’s you” demand.  

I’m sent an email with the code: 

OK, so I go back and enter it into Chrome and I get this dialog saying my session has timed out.  I know what’s happening.  Technically speaking, Kindle.app holds the session ID and Chrome does not.  So amazon assumes my session has timed out.  Again, why is Chrome involved at all?  

OK so anyhow I enter my sign in information and I’m admitted to amazon.com where I can go shopping… except of course that’s not what I want to do.  

I want to use my Kindle.app!  So I bring it to the front.  It is waiting patiently for sign in: 

If I do sign in however, the loop repeats.  I’m asked for a captcha, then sent to Chrome for a 6 digit code, then timed out, then logged in, then asked for a login on Kindle….  

Click here to watch a video of the whole thing.  

So I call amazon support.  I have spoken to them numerous times and they just don’t understand their own software.  On June 30, I chatted with them for 40 excruciating minutes.  For some reason amazon teaches their technicians to constantly apologize and that is sooo annoying.  

Initial Question: I cannot register my kindle reader on my mac
06:58 PM PDT Ryley Rose(Amazon): Hello Wealthychef, my name is Ryley Rose. Thank you for being a Prime member! We really appreciate it.

I’m sorry to hear you aren’t able to register your Kindle Application for Mac. I’d be happy to check and do my best to help you.
06:59 PM PDT wealthychef: OK.
07:00 PM PDT Ryley Rose: May I ask, have you already tried to use the Amazon verification code sent to your email?
07:00 PM PDT wealthychef: yes
yes
07:01 PM PDT wealthychef: What happens is I get a dialog asking to sign in with username and password.
After completing that, I get another dialog asking for username, password, and a captcha. That’s already annoying. Why not just use the captcha right away?
Anyhow, after completing that, it opens my browser and asks for a 6 digit code sent to my email. I enter that and my browser takes me to my amazon.com account but the kindle app does not allow me to synchronize and continues to think I’m not registered.

07:01 PM PDT Ryley Rose: I’m sorry to hear that the Amazon verification code didn’t worked.
07:01 PM PDT wealthychef: The problem seems to be that that 6 digit code is being asked for in my browser, not the kindle app
I’m sorry you’re sorry
07:02 PM PDT Ryley Rose: I see. I appreciate the information, Wealthychef. Thank you.
Have you already tried to uninstall and reinstall the Kindle for Mac application, still same issue persist?
07:02 PM PDT wealthychef: yes
07:03 PM PDT Ryley Rose: I’m sorry for that.
Checking on it now.
07:06 PM PDT wealthychef: ok
07:06 PM PDT Ryley Rose: Thank you for waiting on me.
Upon checking here, I need to transfer you to the higher level which is our Kindle Tech Specialist trained to give an appropriate action. No worries, you don’t have to repeat your concern. Please stay on the line while I transfer you.​
07:07 PM PDT Richa(Amazon): Hello, my name is Richa. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence.
07:07 PM PDT wealthychef: roger that
07:12 PM PDT Richa: Thank you for waiting.
07:13 PM PDT Richa: Lets go ahead and first disable two step verification.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201962430
07:13 PM PDT wealthychef: good idea!
07:13 PM PDT Richa: Please click on this link to disable the verification.
07:14 PM PDT wealthychef: I don’t see a way to disable it. It took me to Advanced Security Settings but there is no “disable”
07:15 PM PDT wealthychef: Just a button that says “Get Started”
07:15 PM PDT Richa: Alright.
07:16 PM PDT Richa: Please go ahead and first uninstall the kindle app from your mac.
07:16 PM PDT wealthychef: I’ve already done that… but I guess I can do again
Hmm, actually I just installed again, not uninstalled.
Let’s see what happens. I will just delete the app. Is that what you mean?
07:17 PM PDT wealthychef: Or is there a special uninstaller?
07:17 PM PDT Richa: To download Kindle for Mac, go to:https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-pageHave you trashed the app ?
07:17 PM PDT wealthychef: Yes
07:18 PM PDT Richa: Please use above link to install app.
07:19 PM PDT wealthychef: ok it’s installed
07:20 PM PDT wealthychef: should I try to use it?
07:20 PM PDT Richa: Yes.
07:21 PM PDT wealthychef: Same thing. It says “For your security, we need to verify your identity. We’ve sent a code to the email wealthychef@gmail.com. Please enter it below.”
Then when I enter it it says “There was a problem
Your session has timed out. For security reasons, please sign in again.”

Presumably because it’s asking on Chrome and the app is not involved.
07:22 PM PDT Richa: You received code at 7:20. Did you used it?
07:22 PM PDT wealthychef: Yes I used the code
07:23 PM PDT Richa: Have you enable firewall to restrict downloads ?
07:23 PM PDT wealthychef: No
07:24 PM PDT wealthychef: There is no firewall that I know of.
07:24 PM PDT Richa: Alright.
Is Mac running OS X 10.9.5 or higher?
07:24 PM PDT wealthychef: Yes
10.12.6
07:25 PM PDT wealthychef: It worked a few days ago in America, although it is constantly asking me for my password, which is incredibly annoying. It gets unregistered all the time
I’ve used it in Thailand and Korea successfully.
07:26 PM PDT wealthychef: I have tried going through a VPN just in case Amazon hates Japan
As I have said multiple times, the kindle app does not ask me for the code. It opens
Chrome for that.
I think that’s the problem.
07:27 PM PDT wealthychef: I enter my 6 digit code into Chrome, not the Kindle app. So the kindle app does not get the code.
Don’t know how to say it any clearer
07:27 PM PDT Richa: Please check if web debugging proxies are enable for safari.
07:27 PM PDT wealthychef: I’m not using Safari
07:27 PM PDT Richa: Alright.
Please check for chrome them.
*the
*then
07:28 PM PDT wealthychef: I don’t know what that is.
07:29 PM PDT wealthychef: What is a web debugging proxy? There is no Chrome setting for that that I can see.
Why is Chrome involved at all?
07:30 PM PDT Richa: May I know if date and time is correct according to the location?
07:30 PM PDT wealthychef: As far as I know it is.
07:32 PM PDT Richa: The following instructions will show you how to disable the proxy settings for Wi-Fi on your Mac computer.
Click the Apple icon then select the System Preferences… option.
Select Network.
From the left pane, select the network service you wish to disable the proxy settings on, then click the Advanced… button.

07:33 PM PDT wealthychef: There are no proxies enabled for my wifi connection
07:34 PM PDT Richa: Please check for chrome as well.
1. Open Chrome and click the wrench icon in the screen’s upper left corner.2. Click “Settings” to open your Settings page.

3. Click “Show advanced settings” and click “Change proxy

07:34 PM PDT wealthychef: My iPhone is using the same wifi router and the iphone kindle reader works fine
07:34 PM PDT Richa: settings” to open the Windows Internet Properties dialog box.4. Click “Settings” to open your connection’s settings.

5. Click the check box labeled “Use a proxy server for this connection” to clear it.

6. Click “OK” in both open dialog boxes to close them.

07:35 PM PDT wealthychef: I do not use Windows.
There is no proxy enabled.
I found the proxy setting in Chrome and it just uses what the system uses, which is nothing.
07:37 PM PDT wealthychef: I tried using Safari as my default browser and get the same problem.
Why is kindle asking for this code? It never did this before.
07:38 PM PDT Richa: As we have tried troubleshooting to resolve it, in this case, I will go ahead and forward it to our technical team to check for the problem, you will receive email for resolution from our team with in 24 hours
Here is a ticket ID: 0117323517
07:38 PM PDT wealthychef: OK

Crickets.  OK, so July 3, I check back.  More apologies for my inconvenience and the trouble I’m having.  Apparently they are waiting for me to provide more information, only I never was asked for any information.  

 

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve received any information from us. I can certainly help you with this.

I’ll surely forward your message to the appropriate team. We have a dedicated team working relentlessly to implement the feedback we receive.

I’ve immediately checked the ticket and see that our technical team requested some information to resolve your issue so please contact us via phone or chat so that we can gather the required information and help you to resolve this issue immediately.

Please be informed that troubleshooting steps can only be handled via phone or chat since we’re unable to gather information via email.

I’m really sorry if this additional step might cause you any inconvenience. I hope you’ll understand that this will help us in assisting you more precisely.

While contacting us via phone or chat, we can check and help you to provide the updated ticket information and assist you with real-time assistance.

For your convenience, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply drop your number in the link given below, and we will call you right back.

To contact us via phone:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall

Contacting us through the website allows you to verify security before a call is placed and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you.

You can also contact us via our Live Chat facility by clicking the Contact Us tab in the right-hand column of our Kindle Support page.

To contact us via chat:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat

Once you visited that Contact Us page, click on the “Chat” option.

For Phone: When you visit our website and select Contact Us, click on the “Phone” tab, enter your number, and we’ll call you right back. Contacting us through the website allows you to verify security before a call is placed and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. We hope you can contact us soon so we can help solve this problem quickly.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Out of politeness, I do not vote about my experience.  Each time I send them an email, they send me two back, one to say thanks for emailing, and another to tell me it would be better if I call them.  So I chat with them and finally make them understand that i have not received any correspondence asking for additional information.  That chat takes 30 minutes of my time.

Initial Question: I was told to contact you to chat regarding my problems with my kindle reader software on my mac. Hopefully you have my history
03:22 AM PDT Aswathy(Amazon): Hello, my name is Aswathy. I’m here to help you today.
No worries, please let me check this for you.
03:23 AM PDT Aswathy: Thanks for waiting.
Just to confirm, are you referring to “wealthychef’s Kindle”?
03:24 AM PDT wealthychef: I’m referring to the kindle app on my Mac. I don’t know what nickname it is but it probably has the work “Mac” in it
03:24 AM PDT Aswathy: I’m sorry for the misunderstanding caused.
03:25 AM PDT Aswathy: I see no Kindle for Mac app is registered in your account.
03:26 AM PDT Aswathy: I see you’ve already deregistered Kindle for Mac from your account.
Are you now chatting from your Mac?
03:26 AM PDT wealthychef: I was trying to get it to work. Nothing helps
Yes I’m on my mac now.
03:26 AM PDT Aswathy: Okay.
03:27 AM PDT Aswathy: No worries, I’ll surely help you in this.
03:27 AM PDT wealthychef: I was told your technical team needed more information from me in order to help.
I’ve already gone around with one person on a lengthy chat. Let’s not do that again.
03:27 AM PDT Aswathy: Do you have the Kindle app on your Mac?
03:27 AM PDT wealthychef: I was told by email “‘ve immediately checked the ticket and see that our technical team requested some information to resolve your issue so please contact us via phone or chat so that we can gather the required information and help you to resolve this issue immediately.”

03:28 AM PDT wealthychef: Yes I have the kindle app on my mac.
03:28 AM PDT Aswathy: Please uninstall the Kindle app and let me know.
03:28 AM PDT wealthychef: I have already done all that. Do you have the history for my case? I don’t want to start over.
03:29 AM PDT wealthychef: I’ve been waiting for a followup and it has not come.
Do you understand? I’ve already spoken at length to someone about this.
03:29 AM PDT Aswathy: Yes, I do understand.
03:30 AM PDT wealthychef: Do you know who requested some information to resolve my issue?
03:30 AM PDT Aswathy: I see a ticket has been created to resolve your issue.
03:30 AM PDT wealthychef: What information do they need?
03:30 AM PDT Aswathy: Please allow me a moment.
03:31 AM PDT Aswathy: Thanks for waiting.
Let me connect you to a member of our Kindle specialist team. It will only take a moment.

03:32 AM PDT Jahnavi(Amazon): Hello, my name is Jahnavi. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence.
03:33 AM PDT wealthychef: ok
03:36 AM PDT Jahnavi: Thanks for staying connected
I checked and found that your concern was escalated to the technical team of engineers and they had requested you for
manual logs
May I know if you had sent them please?
03:36 AM PDT wealthychef: I have not received any communications
03:37 AM PDT wealthychef: What form was this request? By email?
03:37 AM PDT Jahnavi: I’m sorry to hear that. The team was waiting for the logs so that they could help with a fix , I can help you with the steps
03:38 AM PDT wealthychef: How was this request made? By email?
03:38 AM PDT Jahnavi: It was made on the escalation request that the previous agent created
03:38 AM PDT wealthychef: I don’t understand what that means.
03:38 AM PDT Jahnavi: However, I see that you were not informed about it
03:39 AM PDT wealthychef: I just received an email requesting logs
03:39 AM PDT Jahnavi: I understand that you have not received any information regarding the logs
I’ve sent the logs to you as directed by the technical team of engineers
Please follow the steps to pull the logs
03:40 AM PDT wealthychef: I will send the logs and noted the advice to use cloud reader; i hadn’t htought of that
03:40 AM PDT Jahnavi: and then please attach the log files on your Kindle for PC
03:40 AM PDT wealthychef: I will do so.
03:40 AM PDT Jahnavi: Sure
03:40 AM PDT wealthychef: OK anything more?
03:41 AM PDT Jahnavi: You can meanwhile access the cloud reader to access the books
https://read.amazon.com

03:41 AM PDT wealthychef: I will try that.
03:41 AM PDT Jahnavi: I would just need the logs from you, Once I get it, I will update the ticket
03:42 AM PDT Jahnavi: I would need to upload them to the concerned team so that they can analyze and find out the root cause of the issue and help with a fix
Sure please do
03:43 AM PDT wealthychef: I just sent you the logs
03:43 AM PDT Jahnavi: Thankyou
03:43 AM PDT wealthychef: Please confirm that you have them
03:43 AM PDT Jahnavi: Sure I’m checking
03:44 AM PDT Jahnavi: may I know if you had sent it from your registered email address?
I have not yet received the logs , I’ll give it a minute
03:44 AM PDT wealthychef: Yes. From wealthychef@gmail.com
03:45 AM PDT wealthychef: They are small
03:45 AM PDT Jahnavi: I’ve just received the files, thankyou
03:45 AM PDT wealthychef: OK good
03:46 AM PDT Jahnavi: I’ll right away upload them to the ticket and assign myself to this and once I get an update from the concerned team , I’ll write back to you via email
03:46 AM PDT wealthychef: So when will I be receiving further communication from you?
It would be nice if this could be resolved in a timely fashion
03:47 AM PDT Jahnavi: I’ve requested them to resolve it asap as I already explained the cause of delay, please be assured, this issue would be resolved on very high priority
03:47 AM PDT wealthychef: So tomorrow? This week?
03:47 AM PDT Jahnavi: Give me 24 hours, I’ll keep you in loop
03:48 AM PDT wealthychef: OK. Thank you
03:48 AM PDT Jahnavi: It should be resolved within 1-2 business days or perhaps much earlier but I’ll keep you in loop once I get any sort of update from them
You are most welcome. It was my pleasure to assist you. Would there be anything else I can do for you today?
03:49 AM PDT wealthychef: That would be nice. Yes, I have a question about the cloud reader. How do I adjust the font size?
03:49 AM PDT Jahnavi: please give me a moment while I help you with this
03:49 AM PDT wealthychef: Never mind I found it
03:50 AM PDT Jahnavi: I’m glad to hear that, I was just opening it to walk you through the steps
03:50 AM PDT wealthychef: OK, I think we’re good for now. Thank you
03:51 AM PDT Jahnavi: Thank you so much for choosing Amazon!
Have a great day ahead! 🙂

03:51 AM PDT wealthychef: You too, thank you. It’s night here, so I’m going to have dinner and enjoy Kyoto
Good night
03:51 AM PDT Jahnavi: Good night 🙂

 It results in the following email, which apologizes for my trouble.  I feel so warm inside knowing they are concerned about my trouble.    

Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I’m sorry for the trouble you’ve experienced while registering the Kindle for MAC app. We’ll have to research the registration issue further before finding the solution. In order to troubleshoot your issue, please send us the log files on your Kindle for Mac application. You can send us the log files by doing the following

1. Close the Kindle for Mac application.
2. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, click Go and then Computer.
3. Open the Macintosh hard drive.
4. Select Users and open the current user’s name (the icon is a house).
5. Follow the folder path: Library > Application Support > Kindle > Cache > Logs

If the Library folder does not appear in step 5, follow these steps:

blah blah

OK, now I know how to send the logs.  I do so.  

Message From Customer Service
Hello,

Thanks for providing us the log files of your device.

As per your instructions we have forwarded these files to my fellow representative so that he can do the required troubleshooting with the help of these log flies and will write back to you when this issue is resolved. In this case I request you to wait for 1 – 2 days as within this period this issue will be resolved.

I understand that waiting for additional days can be frustrating but I hope you will give my fellow representative the time to fix this issue. Your patience is really appreciated in this case.

If you have any other query then feel free to write back to us by clicking on the link below:

Five days later, on July 8, I receive the following idiotic reply:  

Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I wanted to let you know that I’ve received a response from our technical team, and they have requested you to please  check if you are able to load other amazon websites like amazon.com , read.amazon.com or kindle.amazon.com on same device. Check for the network proxy settings on device.

Obviously they don’t understand my problem.  So I send them a MOVIE to show them what’s up.  

You can see I’m getting a bit testy after a week of the runaround.  Trying to be patient and polite, as there is no point in being a jerk.  I call and speak to a specialist, who starts asking me the basics of my problem.  I talk to a manager.  The call goes on at least 40 minutes, with a good chunk of it being me just flabbergasted that they don’t understand my question yet.  Finally she understands what I’m talking about.  I get this followup from her: 

Message From Customer Service
Hello Rich,

I need to look into the problem with kindle app for mac, i also file a ticket, and it’ll take a bit more time than usual.

I just wanted to let you know I’ll write back in 1-2 business days with more information.

On July 10, two days later, I get this message: 

Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I’m Jahnavi from Kindle Specialist team

I’m personally following up with your issue which has been escalated to our technical team of engineers.

They’re working on taking care of it. However, In order to investigate with our concerned team regarding this issue, I humbly request you to please extend your patience for this issue to be resolved. usually when we escalate the issue, the issue is worked on and fixed within 1-2 working days or perhaps much before. If possible, please do send us the screenshots of the error message to us.

Remember that I have already sent them a movie showing the problem in detail.  Sigh.  I send it again.  I ask did you get it?  

Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I’ve previewed your previous correspondence and found there is a follow up created for the issue. I’m sorry for the inconvenience which you’ve experienced.

We have received your attachment and I’ll update it in your followup case so that they will resolve the issue at the earliest.

So that’s where I’m at right now.  Any bets on whether they ever fix this?  As a programmer myself, if I had the source code I think I could fix this pretty quickly.  The holdup here is amazon’s ridiculous support system.  It’s just horrible…

Note:  This morning, I sent them an email with a link to this post.  

I got this reply:

Hello,

Thank you for writing to us. It would be easier to help you over the phone or via chat.

You can reach Kindle Customer Support via phone or chat by clicking one of the links below:

To contact us via phone:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall

To contact us via chat:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat

Um, hell no I ain’t falling for that again!  LOL

 

Yes Yes Yes! An experiment in positive psychology

A few days ago, I decided to try an experiment.  I’ve been sort of dragging around the streets of Bangkok, trapped inside my stories about how my life is going, and my vague uncertain plans for how to proceed.  I’m always analyzing, what’s the right way forward?

Now it’s good to plan, but it’s important to act, and planning takes mental energy.  Mental energy spent on analyzing reduces energy available to get stuff done.  It slows down every action by prefacing it with a “should I do this?” moment.  It empowers the Inner Critic, and makes the Actor play second fiddle.  The Actor is too dangerous to be trusted.  The Critic must be watching everything to make sure no Mistakes are made.

This dismal dance is not a healthy way forward.  So what’s the answer?  Haha, nice try Mr. Analysis.  The answer is to act.  I started with a simple exercise, which if I recall correctly I first learned from Tony Robbins, or maybe it was a book on happiness I read a few years ago.  It goes as follows:

Act extremely happy for 10 seconds!

This will make you feel happy and give you energy.  The way I do this is by raising my arms over my head, and saying “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes” (that’s seven of them in case you are counting) in an enthusiastic voice, while smiling and laughing.

Now this is not a pretense or a lie to myself or an attempt to forget my problems.  It is not delusion.  It is simply a technique, like stretching your hamstrings. Research has shown that smiling releases endorphins even when the smile is induced by simply holding a pencil in your mouth and forcing the corners of your lips up.  I’m using physiology to my advantage.

By doing this each day, I have found an incredible surge in happiness and productivity and a decrease in the need to plan everything out.

Admittedly, I have many systems in place to support me in my happiness, and I have no idea if this would be as effective for others as it has been for me.  And of course, astute readers will notice it’s only been in place for a few days.  But for me, there is no denying it is working.  I have put it into place in my personal reminders and am curious to see how long it takes to get stale.

Give it a shot and share below how you feel after doing it even one time.  🙂

Great example of politically correct feminism

I just ran across an article called “If it Ain’t Woke, Don’t Fuck It” by Megan Ford.  It seems to be a great example of what’s wrong with left-wing thought in some corners of America.  The article focuses on style and advocates for PC speech standards. The author claims that a good way to push women’s rights forward is to withhold sex from men in order to manipulate them into saying what she wants. Wow, that’s so insightful.  What a powerful statement and tool for change!

Meanwhile powerful “successful role model” women in corporate suits like Hillary Clinton continue to advocate for bombing brown babies and increased surveillance to protect us from terrorism, and for trickle-down style tax breaks for the wealthy in order to “create jobs.” But I’m a sexist if I criticize her, because I don’t have a vagina so I am not allowed to comment on people who do.

And meanwhile, the real misogyny is happening in countries where women have to wear burkhas by law and aren’t allowed to go to libraries without their husband or another “guardian” present. But it’s racist to call that out, right, even though Islam is not a race? Especially because I’m white, and my privilege makes me completely unable to understand the unique plights of wealthy minority kids attending exclusive universities.

It’s true that I’m a white male.  If your argument against mine includes my race and gender as an argument, then consider that you might just be a racist sexist bigot yourself.

 

My Father Died

A few days ago I got the unsurprising news that my Dad has died.  He has been struggling with many health problems, which when you are past 80 years old is always a precarious situation.  Finally, he succumbed to some sort of internal bleeding and the end has come for him.  I hope it was mercifully quick.  He was in pain.

When I heard the news, I realized, I’m not sad about the loss.  Partly because it was quite expected, but also, because my father and I were never really that close and there was really mot much left to lose between us.  In fact, I had to debate whether to go to his funeral or not.  You might think wow, Rich, you’re kind of a dick, aren’t you?  Or maybe, wow, what kind of monster was your father that you would not go to his funeral?  I hope the reason for my indecision is not the former, and I know it’s not the latter.

He was definitely not a bad guy, in fact, he had lots of good qualities.  But being a good father to me was not one of them.  My parents were divorced when I was seven.  Before then, my childhood seemed pretty normal.  I was a shy kid, I liked soccer, my Dad seemed to take an interest in me and support me.

My childhood soccer days.

My experience of him, after my parents got divorced and he remarried, was that he just disappeared and never made much effort to be involved.  That effort lessened over the years to the point where he was just basically gone from my life.  He seemed more interested in my life once I joined the same Church as him, but it was always pretty shallow and I felt like I was putting way more into it than he was.

Me, my Dad and his wife Renee when I joined the Mormon church back in the day.

I think every relationship between parent and child is unique, and the distance between father and child was not the same for my other siblings.  It seems to me that my oldest brother and sister both understood the divorce, saw it coming, and went mostly unscathed by it, maintaining an already established connection to their father.  But the three younger kids had worse experiences, because he basically just completely ignored his “old family” and started focusing on his “new family.”  In particularly my next older brother Bob and I really got the short end of the stick, but I believe that Don suffered too a lot at times.  Looking back, I see that he was very stingy with his time, his money and all forms of his attention toward us.

My Dad and his mother.

I could see he was deeply involved in his “new family” with his new wife, and honestly yes, it hurt to see him ignore his own kids that needed him and turn all his attention on this other set of kids.  I attribute this not to any maliciousness on his part toward us, his reasons were complicated I think.  Nor do I harbor the slightest ill will towards his new family;  they are awesome people who live great lives.  I really admire them.  But for my dad, the bottom line, I think he was weak, afraid and powerless most of his life where it mattered most to me.  His character was deeply flawed.

My character is flawed too, we all are imperfect.  But as a man, I cannot respect someone that says they love someone or something but takes zero actions based on that love.  That’s either laziness or weakness or fear.  I forgive him his weaknesses, but since he never seemed to see that it mattered or act like it did, I could never really respect him as a father.

He had a stroke, and I tried to be there for him, to encourage and support him, and to support others who were helping him.  I was by no means making a heroic effort there, but I showed up to some extent and did what I felt I could.  In that time, I saw how strong he could be, and how everyone around him loved him.  Again, the shadow side for me was, if this was because he was such a great guy, why not pick up the phone and call his “other kids” once in a while?

Dad after his stroke. He because hemiplegic. This must have been so hard for him but he was incredibly brave.

Over the years, I heard many stories about how he continued to neglect and damage his relationship my brothers, my sister, and my nephews and nieces, and saw how he continued to neglect them in his thoughts and actions right to the end of life, all the while making excuses like “I’m just not a good communicator.”  By the time of his death, it had become difficult for me to visit him because of a sense of emotional dissonance, and started getting a sense that I was wasting my time.  I felt deep compassion for him as a suffering human being, in pain and unable to move half of his body.  But I just didn’t feel like I owed him any of my time or resources and it was too painful to continue just so he could keep up some illusion of something special between us.

So now he has died and his funeral is this Friday.  I have decided to go and participate.  Am I going because I feel like I should go, because I would be judged for not going, or to make my siblings happy?   These seem like bad reasons, because even though I do want my family to be happy and don’t want to cause negativity at this important event, I don’t think they would want me to go if I’m only going for them or for appearance’s sake, and those things aren’t going to make the funeral meaningful for me either.

I try not to act out of anger or fear, and want all my actions in the world to be positive if possible, so I would not want to avoid it as some sort of angry statement against him or his memory as a person or even as a father.  Those just do not seem like good reasons to NOT go.

In the end I decided to go because regardless of how I feel about our relationship, he was an important person to me, and I want to mark his passing with dignity, support my family and honor the good I could see in him, then close the book for myself and move on.  I saw how strong he could be when he wanted to be and admire that from afar. He was funny and smart and kind and stoic. He passed on some good genes and I’m grateful for the things he gave me, such as the ability to think linearly and logically and a quirky sense of humor.  It’s worth the 26 hour flight from Thailand to me, the money, the awkwardness, the religious sermonizing, and whatever other inconveniences might come.  I will get a lot from this and my presence there is going to be meaningful, supportive and full of love.  That’s my commitment and that’s the way it’s going to be.

I feel like this funeral is not for him, the dead, but for us, the living, to remember and to let go, to mark his passing each in our own way. He’s gone, hopefully to a better place, Heaven, the Borg, whatever. I will cry at his funeral, not because I miss him, because you can’t miss someone you never spent much time with, but because I lost him a long time ago, and for me this is a final letting go of everything that means, the anger, the disappointment, the hope, the jealousy.

This is not a complete statement of everything I think on this matter, but it’s what’s swirling through my head at the moment.   I might revise it in the future, I might come to feel differently if new information comes to light, but right now, this is how it is.  And I think I’m doing all right.

Still without a father. But at least now I can let go.

Apple Photos app takes incredibly long time to recognize faces

Since I came to Thailand 6 weeks ago, iPhoto on my Macbook pro has been scanning for faces.  On my Mac Pro desktop, this process took about 2 days as I recall.  My iPhone 7 Plus, which I bought a week ago is almost finished.  This time it’s incredibly slow.  I am so sick of seeing this screen:

Picture of Photos app with 18,000 photos remaining to scan.
Wow, only 6,782 photos to go! At the current rate of 100 photos per day, it will take another 60 days at least.

 

screen shot shows iPhone is basically done in less than a week.
iPhone 7 Plus kicks my MacBook Pro’s ass.

I’ve started tracking my progress:

2016-12-22  21:59:  9521 photos left to scan when I quit
2016-12-24  19:04: 16232 photos scanned, 8771 photos left when I quit
2016-12-24  22:14: 16,350 photos scanned, 8653 photos left when I quit
2016-12-26  00:49: 16,352 photos scanned, 8663 photos left when I quit
2016-12-26  19:46: 16,372 photos scanned, 8642 photos left when I quit
2016-12-27  18:29: 16,475 photos scanned, 8574 photos left when I quit
2016-12-28  23:43: 16,707 photos scanned, 8356 photos left when I quit
2016-12-28  23:43: 16,910 photos scanned, 8156 photos left when I quit
2016-12-29  23:51: 17,736 photos scanned, 7332 photos left when I quit
2016-12-30  ??:??: 17,933 photos scanned, 7141 photos left when I quit
2016-12-31  17:34: 18,025 photos scanned, 7064 photos left when I quit
2017-01-01  15:02: 18,307 photos scanned, 6782 photos left when I quit
So there was a burst of speed where it was doing 3,000 photos per day (still not fast, but eventually will finish at that rate), then it slowed to a crawl.

I’ve tried rebooting.  I’ve tried leaving Photos running, and I’ve tried quitting.  Nothing seems to make much difference.  Anybody have this problem and solve it?

Update:  I posted this on apple.stackexchange.com

Sam Harris gets it wrong again about Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Sam Harris is one of my favorite public personas.  He has written several books that have changed the way I think about myself, about God, about morality and about spirituality.  This includes The Moral Landscape, Letter to a Christian Nation, and Waking Up.  His podcast is usually entertaining and informative.  But on the subject of politics, I’m finding Sam Harris to be just as obtuse and dogmatic with regards to the Trump and Sanders populist phenomenon as Ben Affleck was when he attacked Harris on the Bill Maher show a while back.

In his recent podcast, he does it again, and my blood has begun to boil.  I just wanted to post my outrage and reasons for it.  Sam continued to argue in the months running up to the election that anyone who supported Bernie Sanders did not see what a bad person Donald Trump was, and even though Hillary was a soulless and crafty liar, a vote for Bernie is after all a vote for Trump, so any person supporting Bernie over Hillary was basically voting for Trump.

He has interviewed a few people about this, but one thing I notice is that he never seems to want to give a public voice to people who actually plan to vote for Trump or Sanders.  He only feels comfortable talking with other overly intellectual and tepid voices on the subject.  Maybe he’s afraid that too much truth on the subject is going to make America devolve into gang rapes and shootings.  The thing that arrogant people like Sam Harris don’t get is that what is missing from the equation, what is depressing votes and causing increased anger with the system as a whole in America, is that it continues to only serve the interests of wealthy corporate interests over and over.  In support of this, America goes to war over and over in a way that is clearly aligned with increasing the profits of corporations and which only tangentially seems aligned with human rights and decency.

Both Trump and Sanders amassed large crowds of enthusiastic people by talking to them about this message.  Hillary is a corporate shill, a Goldwater warmonger, who threw women’s rights and gay rights under the bus publicly when it really counted.  She is unlikeable and has no connection to anything that I value at all that I can detect.  But as a progressive, I’m supposed to support her because Trump is what?  A warmonger?  So is she.  Anti-women?  So is she.  A corporate liar?  Ditto for her.

I had the audacity to support a candidate that I believed in, first Bernie, then when he lost, Jill Stein.  This is something Sam Harris considers a childish and selfish reaction to a lack of choice.  How dare I actually vote for who I want in America?  Don’t I know that I’m supposed to vote for whom I’m told to by the media and the insiders in Washington?  Anything else is a wasted vote!  The mature approach, he would say, is to swallow my desire for a good candidate and vote for Hillary, because otherwise we get Trump, and Trump is Hitler.  The name for that argument is “demagoguery.”  Ironically, it’s exactly how Hitler was elected.  That’s right, Hitler was elected by demonizing his opponents.  Exactly the way Hillary tried to get elected.  Is Hillary Hitler?  No, but they have similar names, so I’ll let you decide on that.

Anyhow, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sell out my conscience to a bunch of bullshit propaganda, selfishness, and demagoguery.  Hillary said nothing I believed and supported.   Obama is starting a new conflict in Somalia even as we speak, bombing another poor black country as part of a plan laid out more than 10 years ago under President Bush, which he has executed in perfect lockstep  apparently.  Hillary would have continued and escalated those wars.  Obama continues to imprison people for drug offenses that he himself committed in the past.

I’m just so angry at all the self-righteous supposed liberals that have looked the other way for our warmongering Nobel Peace Price winning President, who looked the other way for Hillary and attacked Bernie Sanders, and now will not admit their mistake when Trump is President because of the failed strategy of grabbing votes from the right instead of playing to populism on the left.  Sam Harris is such a man.  Where was his concern for all this before Trump?  Just completely absent.

Go back to your neuroscience and spiritual inquiry, Sam, I’ve learned a lot from them.  But get off your high horse when it comes to politics.  If you want to find out what Trump supporters think why not get one on your program?  And if you want to be honest about Sanders, maybe ask one of his supporters?  Maybe you’ll learn that you really don’t care much about the common man, don’t really understand working people in America or across the world.  It’s OK, understanding this is a move forward to acting on it.

As Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”   Let’s hope the media pundits start understanding this and stop pretending to be doing real journalism while ignoring the obvious history unfolding in front of all of us.

 

 

The mind of a smoker

For a long time now, I’ve had the mind of a non-smoker.  Smoking is stupid, dirty, a waste of money, and a danger to your health.  And I think that’s part of the point of why people do it.  It’s like a big middle finger to the world of concern, a way to express how little you are worried about what life has to bring you.

But the irony is that smoking makes you less healthy, and therefore less well equipped to deal with whatever really shows up in your life.

My history with smoking began when I was 10 years old.  I smoked for 10 years, finally quitting when I was 20.  It’s a habit that was very hard to break, and one that subsequently I never missed.  I always was proud at my willpower in finding a way out of that trap.

Well, a year or so ago, some friends and I were out drinking and one of them decided to smoke a cigarette.  On a whim, I joined in.  I don’t know why.  I was drunk and it seemed like a fun departure from my normal routine.  We were celebrating freedom and new beginnings, and it just seemed to fit into the mood of lascivious debauchery.  It was such a fun add-on that I began occasionally smoking after that.  In fact, I can say looking back on 2016, that this has been the biggest mistake I’ve made.  Slowly, bit by bit, month by month, I became more of a smoker.

I did not consider myself a smoker, just someone that occasionally smoked.  I never got above 5 cigarettes in a day.  Most days I did not smoke at all.  But by the time I moved here to Bangkok, three weeks ago, I had really basically in truth become an occasional smoker.  I have recently noticed that most weeks, most days I smoke at least one cigarette, and the past week I think I have smoked between one and five cigarettes every day.  I have started heading downstairs for a smoke, specifically for that purpose.

This morning, as I was on a biweekly call to my friends, in which we support each other in what’s important in our lives, I finally decided to call bullshit on this.  I have quit.  Part of me does not want to.  But the part of me that I want running my life, the part that gives me health, strength, and happiness, knows that cigarettes are just not part of a smart and strong plan for living life.  I love sports, I love physical activity, and I need all the strength I can muster for the international adventure I’ve chosen for my life.

So this morning this note is on my wall.

img_4427

When I say I’m going to do something and make a clear statement like this, I do it.  I threw my cigarettes in the trash and told my friends I’m quitting.  I’m posting this for the world to see.  I dug my cigarettes back out and urinated on them!  LOL  It’s over.  Good riddance.