Most current post rescued from the old blog (before they blow it up because I'm moving it to GOOGLE from GoDaddy) after returning to 'Murica about 1 year ago (in September) after first heading that way in June of 2003:

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed about The States after being away for a while: Everything’s “Online”

The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far since being back after quite a while is “how you get stuff.” It’s all “online.” Grooming appointments for the dog, online. Food: online. Paying rent and communicating with my apartment building’s management: online. Pizza, booze, almost everything else: online. Online online online. Blehh.

Is it only a only a matter of time before we can "Fill 'er up" online?  Actually, you can kinda do that, can't you, sorta?  Aren't we already able to get gas for our cars online and I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet?

Everything can be, and often is, found and ordered online compared to “the old-fashioned way” of getting it by driving to a store and actually shopping (looking around, touching, etc.) and maybe even actually talking to an employee/salesperson before buying it. 

You can order crap-food from McDonald's and have it delivered to your house!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m aware that many Americans had been ordering stuff online while I was stationed in Italy; Amazon Prime and all that, but I didn’t.  I was apparently one of the ignorant few who held fast to buying stuff by actually going to the store. If it wasn’t there, I didn’t get it. Kind of like “you don’t know what you don’t know,” except in this case it was “you can’t buy what’s not there.”

Since I’ve been back here for just short of two weeks, we’ve ordered pizza online and had it delivered.  Ordered (way too expensive) burgers and then picked them up from a place downstairs and right next to our apartment building! I couldn’t help but think “Why not just walk down there, order it and maybe talk to someone while you wait for it?” Don’t ask me, I didn’t make these changes, someone else did. And, rather than speaking to someone on the phone about my cable channel “package,” I customized it online before committing to paying for it.  I *did* “chat” (typed) back and forth with a cable-rep and asked them at one point “wouldn’t this be easier if I called you on the phone?”  At that point I was told “No sir, this is how we do this” or something similar that made no real sense to me.
Much like when you actually *do* speak to a ‘Tad,’ or ‘Jim’ or ‘Lisa’ or ‘Sue,’ when dealing with a Customer Service department - but you detect a distinct accent that tells you that Customer Service Call Center is probably not located anywhere in the United States, I was pretty sure they didn’t want to talk to me because of a similiar geographic issue.

No matter how hard they try to convince you that they're in Texas or anywhere else in the U.S., sometimes ya just *know* they're not. I copy/pasted the whole conversation and captured a few sentences which definitely indicated the same thing: that the ‘chat’ was with someone on a different continent. No big deal, after about TWO HOURS of typing tho, I was actually able to get what I thought was a better “cable package” for cheaper.

SO ANYWAY, this afternoon I was looking for a table, a ‘bistro table’ they call them, to put on our balcony. After breaking down and succumbing to this new process (does ‘succumbing’ in any way related to “succubus?” It would be appropriate!) and looking around at various kinds of “available” (well, ‘available’ meaning something different now, remember) little tables at all the big store online sites for places like Sears, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Home Depot, etc., I went to the place with the closest thing to what I wanted (Lowe’s) and, after the quasi-expected disappointment (it wasn’t what I thought it would be) I found I was fortunately in an area which had a bunch of other stores around it: not a “mall” in the traditional sense, more like a “commercial store area” that seemed to be built up and developed with that specific purpose in mind.

Table bought in person vice online.

So I drove around and I found this “home stuff” store that’s kinda hard to describe. It had all sorts of “home stuff” in it (duh), one of which was lots of “stools” and “benches” and stuff, mostly for indoor use. And I found this one here nicely modeled by Duke, which *immediately* reminded me of my late Uncle David whose hobby was woodworking. He was known for his walking sticks and canes he used to show and sell at art shows as well as on a website I made for him on one of my earlier websites called “Artsticks.”

Uncle David's "Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake XVI"
Uncle David used to carve his sticks and canes from solid logs, the most impressive being his “snake sticks” which people were always surprised to learn weren’t 2 pieces of would (stick inserted through spiraled snake).

So when I saw this wooden table which was an imperfect slice of a log made into a functional piece of art by filling in the gaps with lucite (I guess) and mounting it on legs, it reminded me of Uncle David and the nights I’d spent camping with my Dad and him, my cousins and my grandfather (Uncle David’s brother) when Uncle David would just be carving sticks at the campfire ‘just to carve them’ -- way before he “got serious” with the snakesticks and other cool stuff you can still see on his website.

It was a no brainer. I got it. And I love it.

My point: it was “the actual shopping,” the “being there” that brought me to the table. I wouldn’t have found it otherwise because it’s not online.

The salesperson who saw me “looking around” even helped me look at a few other little tables *and* they gave me a discount (amounted to -$8, hey, better than a stick in the eye, right (pun intended)) because he agreed with me after the conversation we had (one you can’t have with a website, although you might be able to leave them feedback via an e-mail!) about the store’s cool, odd and assorted and eclectic collection of stuff that, even though they’re a chain store, was different in each of their stores and no store had all the same stuff. As a matter of fact, I think I got the two chairs on my balcony from another one of these same stores and this particular store had no idea what I was talking about when I asked someone for a little table to go with the two chairs I’d gotten at ‘one of their other stores.’

We agreed that it’s no fun anymore and you “can’t shop right” online and all that jazz I’ve already written about “shopping and interacting in person being better than ordering online” and that it’s not as “fun” to choose stuff from a picture and then either having it delivered or picking it up at a store ... a store that *used* to actually *have* your item there for you to pick up, but now only has a picture of it on their website. And after you click on it and put it in “your cart” (which I think will soon be as funny as the picture of a 3.5” floppy used as the button to ‘save’ things, but many people don’t remember 3.5” floppy disks anymore just as I’m guessing they’ll collectively soon forget what a “shopping cart” is) you click some other button and then either have it delivered to your house -- where you’ve been sitting on your ass doing nothing but gaining weight from lack of exercise ... so you order magic weight loss pills or some other gimmick to help you lose the weight you gained from running your life online instead of on your feetses.

And they don’t have “enough stuff” in the stores anymore, either, I don’t think. That’s part of the fun: looking at stuff while you’re there with the intent of getting something else! I even went to a place called they called a “Super Store.” But there they only had “the latest and greatest” models. If you wanted something else (an earlier model of something, for example), as I said: you need to order it from their website and they’ll have it delivered to the store or your door the next day from some mysterious warehouse on the outskirts of town. Can’t blame ‘em ... nice business model, but it’s NO FUN.

PREDICTION: These mysterious warehouses on the outskirts of town from which our ‘overnight deliveries’ come from will soon be also accessible to the public as showrooms and we’ll be able to purchase stuff there since we’ll be saving the company the costs involved in magically delivering it after we clickity click on their websites, maybe?

... and won't that be like going back to how it used to be done?  They can save money by having us go to them for our stuff instead of the expenses involved in all this 'home delivery' thing?  I dunno.  What do *I* know?

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