It’s a “thing.” A disease. Amazon has caught it. Your company is fine, no problems, so why not create a problem? Nothing livens up a customer relationship more than unsolvable problems. That’s what I always say!

They decided a while ago that they needed to cut delivery costs so they decided to get into the delivery business. Just when we finally got U.P.S. to find our house and know what to do when they get here. Exactly when Amazon decided to start using deliverers who haven’t a clue about — anything.

The new people clearly don’t know the area. They also don’t know the roads, so they send delivery trucks to our house. At night.

We live on a dark and winding road that runs through the woods. Houses are randomly placed on either side. A few houses are close to the road, but most are up or down a long, dark driveway. Even with lights on, our private drives are not easy to navigate. They are close to impossible to manage on ice and snow. At night, if you know the terrain well, you can handle it … but you need to know the place or you’ll wind up in the woods or a ditch. If you try to leave your truck on the road, the likelihood is it will get hit by another vehicle. There are no pull offs. You can’t safely park on that road.

The road doesn’t say “no parking” because it doesn’t need to say it. It’s obvious to any driver that unless you can pull into a driveway, this is a bad place to park. During the day, if your vehicle is big enough, you can leave it there for a few minutes, but it’s dangerous at best, lethal at worst. This road is one of the worst roads in the state — as in one the highest rates of death while driving. It’s the curves and turns.

The road twists and isn’t properly banked. There are no streetlights. Intersections and driveways aren’t marked. The road tends to iciness. The snow cleaning crews dare not use salt because the water level is high; everyone has a well. Salt in your well is the end of your well. It could be the end of the local aquifer, so we don’t use salt. The result are icy patches of two types: the regular white kind of ice and the ugly, invisible black ice that will twirl your car in circles before you hit a tree.

One year, Garry hit the ice, did a double roll, then climbed a telephone pole in my Acura. He got one ugly concussion, but because he was driving my Acura and wearing a seat-belt, he was okay. The Acura was not okay, not ever. It was the last really nice car we owned and it reminded me that ones car is not just cool wheels. Sometimes, it’s life or death.

Leaving digression behind …

I bought a new comforter and cover for our bed. Not expensive, but warm and wide enough so we can stop having desperate middle of the night battles for temporary possession of our covers. According to Amazon, it was due for delivery today. Before 8 pm. It gets dark by 4:30. After dark, it’s really very dark.

The oaks are tall and surround the road. Even when there’s a full moon, you won’t see much.

When we first moved here, one of the first things I said was “Wow, it’s dark here!” They’ve added a few reflectors here and there, but mostly, it’s still really dark and since most of us live a couple of hundred feet back from the road, not a good place to try to deliver packages. Not only is that a ridiculous idea, it’s also a dangerous one. I want my stuff, but I don’t want anyone dying to get it here.

As is typical of AMZL, Amazon’s “own” delivery service, they came by after six, sent the message that the package was delivered, and left. I was sure they had NOT delivered the package because the dogs didn’t go outside. If there had been a real delivery, they would have been outside telling the other neighborhood dogs all about it.

Garry said he’d go check and I said I didn’t think he would find anything, but he went and didn’t find anything. Amazon’s “Logistics” Service has done this at least five other times. They say they delivered the package but haven’t, but we search the property, in the dark, with flashlights, only to discover they were “just kidding.” Just messing with our heads. Maybe they’ll deliver it tomorrow. Maybe Monday. Maybe never. Hard to tell.

I called and said “Do not send those “logistics” people with our packages. They can’t find our house. Please use UPS.”

Because UPS knows the area, would never attempt to deliver anything here at night and have finally gotten it together to put the packages next to — or even INSIDE — the garage, which is really a shop, but I’m sure they don’t care. But they eventually explained that they couldn’t promise who would deliver the packages and we were just going to have to take “pot luck.”

Pot luck? Seriously? I pay for pot luck?

One of the things one of the many letters i got from their customer service this evening said they understood that delivery affects “the entire Amazon experience.” Not true.

Delivery is the entire Amazon experience.

If they can’t deliver on time, there is no experience. It’s not like we shop at Amazon because we like strolling the aisles.

We shop there because they deliver. We live in an area where other kinds of shopping are hard to find. We’ve got Walmart. There’s a Target up in Millbury. You can buy clothing at Kohl’s. Otherwise, there are online shops and of course, Amazon.

But if Amazon can’t promise delivery within the 48-hours they have promised to Prime customers, then there is no Amazon either.

Amazon has never grasped this isn’t a suburban neighborhood. We lack those tidy, well-lit streets with convenient parallel parking, sidewalks and neat little driveways lined along the street. All the stuff you expect in a “neighborhood,” we don’t have. We are an area, not a neighborhood. I’m not sure they have a basic concept of “country.”

In the end, either I’m getting a refund (which isn’t exactly what I want), or they will deliver the products. Eventually. I’m frankly not sure which. I called them five times, was disconnected four times. They tried to call me back twice, but their calls wouldn’t go through. I talked to a lot of people and got different answers from each.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the package or the money. Moderately sure.




And then, just to follow up with something so your brain is fully reset this final Sunday in November:
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – WHITE RABBIT & SOMEBODY TO LOVE – from American Bandstand, 1967 (!)

So there’s some serious percussion — “In A Gadda Da Vida” was THE percussion solo in its day.  Followed by Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane doing “White Rabbit” … on American Bandstand, no less. With Dick Clark. A minor conflict of cultures in bloom.

Happy Sunday!


My Top 10 Cold Weather Songs, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

With some of the nation having already been visited by cold and snow, it seems like a good time to bring on the winter tunes. Songs by any band with “Cold” in their name is not what we mean here.  Nor shall we include song about loves who are as “Cold As Ice” or running “Against The Wind.”  Our tunes are really songs about winter, cold, and snow.  Some are a bit more symbolic than others, but they will do nicely for my purposes.

Let’s be clear, they are not holiday songs, although some of them only get played in the holiday season.  Since the Christmas holiday season seems to start around Halloween and go until New Year’s Day, I guess there is already ample opportunity to hear some of them.  You will discover that there is no holiday greeting included in the cold and snowy lyrics.  In fact, we will give you some instrumentals just because you can already place them in your winter memory.

Let me start you off with an honorable mention from the movie White Christmas.  No I am not sneaking in a Christmas song.  This is strictly two minutes of wishing for snow by four big name performers:

There are a number of other songs about snow that may not be classics, but are good nonetheless.  Track down “Snow” by Harry Nilsson, for example.  Type in “Snow” in a You Tube search and you will certainly see “Snow (Hey Oh)” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.  On second thought, you better type in “snow songs” so you can avoid all those home-made videos of people stuck in a snow drift.

Here’s our bottom 5 with everything from a Classical sound to traditional, rock to rolling “down the streets of town” by a snow man.  There are winter birds of all kinds if you just let it snow:
10. Wizards of Winter – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
9. Winter – Rolling Stones
8. Frosty the Snowman – by just about everyone with a Christmas Album or two
7. Snowbird – Anne Murray
6. Let It Snow – Frank Sinatra, but there are probably a thousand versions of this by now

The next one earns a place here as much for the back story as anything.  This symbolic “A Winter’s Tale” was written by Freddie Mercury from his hospital room overlooking Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  The visions he describes are what he could see from his room.  He laid down the keyboard tracks and vocals in a Swiss studio two weeks before his death.  Queen later finished the song with their parts.  It was released as the second song on a posthumous album four years later.
5. A Winter’s Tale – Queen

Winter imagery can be found in a lot of songs by Paul Simon, especially from the Simon and Garfunkel years. A Hazy Shade of Winter was certainly one of their biggest hits and earns a spot on my songs of Arctic Weather. You will find an intriguing version by the Bangles from years later, but let’s stick with the original.
4. Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon and Garfunkel

One of the most popular songs of the Christmas season is Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson. Although often played only as an instrumental, the lyrics say nothing of the holidays. There is, however, “a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray.” They are rather seasonal as they “pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie,” but the song really is about a sleigh ride through the snow. Find a version with someone singing, if you must. Nothing says “Sleigh Ride” like the Boston Pops Orchestra:
3. Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson – John Williams & The Boston Pops

If you are not sleigh riding through the snow, perhaps you are walking in a winter wonderland. There are many versions of this seasonal classic, but I have gone for one you may be hearing a lot on your favorite Christmas station.  It’s a more modern take on the classic:
2. Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics

When I think of cold and snow outside, this is my song. There is nothing that inspires me to go out in a storm. While I enjoyed seeing Joseph Gordon-Leavitt do this with Lady Gaga, of all people, and nothing compares to Ricardo Montalban crooning at Esther Williams or Red Skelton at Betty Garrett in the movies, the best version is Dean Martin and anyone. He recorded the song with a number of people, here with Martina McBride
1. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin

This Frank Loesser penned tune won the Academy Award for the 1949 romantic comedy musical Neptune’s Daughter.

Click on any title to get the song, or hear them all on my playlist here.


Saguaro along the mountains

I have been going through my folders. My photography folders. There are an awful lot of them and within each folder are even more folders. While searching for missing photographs, I have discovered there are thousands of photographs — good ones — which were never processed. Why not? Because I moved on to the next batch of photos and never went back. Two weeks later, I didn’t remember these photographs existed.

Phoenix Mountains and a saguaro

The good news is that I have some amazing pictures simply waiting for me to get to them. The bad news is that even after I find a great batch of waiting photographs, when I go back to work on them, I probably will have forgotten them.

Shadow of the mountain

The exception to this are vacation photographs because these are always in separate folders by events — so I know where they are. Which is why the first new batches you’ll see will be from Arizona 2016.

Three mountain peaks

I can find them. They are listed in the “A”s. And there are a lot of pictures those folders.

Wide mountains with saguaro