Another year, another UPS saga.

If this is not your first time reading my rants, you will remember my saga from 2018 when UPS lost a shipment of wine of mine: https://sargonas.com/ups-seems-to-have-lost-my-wine-and-doesnt-want-to-tell-me/

Well flash forward to this year, and the hits just keep on coming!

First off, I’ve spent the last month chasing around a missing work package. We shipped several thousands of dollars of gear from one office to another and they keep saying it was damaged, no wait lost, no.. damaged, wait no now it’s lost… or maybe damaged? No definitely lost. Still working to get a claim on that one complete after 11 phone calls and 4 hours on the phone, but it’s not my money so I’m TRYING to remain calm, despite being jerked around so much and never getting a single call back or email that was promised and having to chase them down regularly.

That aside, now they are jerking me around on my iPhone as well.

On Friday they marked it as undeliverable to my apt even though they never paged me via the call box and my unit’s ring door bell never rang.

I didn’t want to deal with more drama again so I immediately paid money to them on Friday night to have the package re-routed to a local UPS store to make this easier. Annoyingly, the entire weekend it said “re-delivery accepted, please check back later for a new delivery window”. I had hoped it would be a Saturday sort of thing, but, oh well.

On Monday AM I was notified it would arrive by EOD that day at said UPS store.

The UPS store ONLY gets deliveries around 9-10am according to it’s manager, and pickups are at EOD around 6. So at noon it was not yet delivered but I checked anyway, and the manager was quite adamant to me there was no way a delivery was coming later in the day, as he knows his drivers and their routes intimately. He said if it had not yet arrived then it would likely be Tuesday. Frustrated, I called UPS support to complain and they insisted it might still come that day, but that if not they assured me it would definitely arrive on tuesday in the AM. I was promised a call back within the hour either way once the local operations center had the case.

Unsurprisingly, I did not get a call (I am 16 for 16 on NOT getting callbacks “within the hour” from UPS after being promised one over the last 2 years.)

At 6:15pm with 15 minutes left to go before the store closed, the package updated to a new state of “undeliverable. Delivery to be reattempted next business day. Delivery by 10:30 am Tuesday”.

I again called support in frustration and was told “the driver apparently flagged it as undeliverable tonight, and they will try again tomorrow. They understand my frustration and have sent a notice the local dispatch and I will get a call back within the hour.”

Sure I will…. (I didn’t.. of course)

This morning I watched it closely so I would know when to walk over to get it, and at 10:25am it updated to

“Address Information Required
The shipping address provided is either incorrect or incomplete. “

Bear in mind I played no part in specifying the UPS store’s address… it was pre-filled by the UPS website when I selected “deliver to a store” as an option to re-route it and picked this location from the drop down. How on earth could the address in their system for one of the busier UPS locations in the area be WRONG?

I looked it up… it’s not.

It told me to “click here to correct my address” so I did, and I got an error message that “Changes are not eligible for this shipment. Please contact support.”

So I just got off the phone with support and am now told that I don’t need to update the address, as it’s seemingly correct.. and that they don’t know why it’s in this state but that.. “someone from local dispatch will call me within the hour to explore options to get it to me as soon as possible”

Sure they will. Sure they will…

UPS is the worst… and I just want my damned iPhone

EDIT: Well, I have my iPhone! At the 1 hour mark with no call I resigned myself to calling UPS every single hour once the window closed, untill I got clarity. So I called back and while the nice lady was helping track down a human in real time who can help locally rather than make me wait, we both got a notification at the same time that it had just been delivered. I thanked her and hopped off the phone and ran over to the UPS store to get it and sure enough it was there. Best part? The store manager says a regular driver did not drop it off… but that someone in a UPS polo and jeans with an employee lanyard pulled up in a car and brought it in just moments ago.

2019 Travel Recap!

 

Hot off the heels of an exciting dive into a whole new level of travel activity in 2018, 2019 started off even busier!

While 2018 was a busy one at nearly 60 flights covering 80,000 miles, and 3 trips to Japan… 2019 saw me top that all time record with close to 70 flights, and 97,000 actual-miles (though I earned a whopping 140k qualification miles with Delta towards my Medallion status, and even more than that in redeemable miles!)

Here’s some of the notable numbers for folks who like stats:

  • 70 flights (around 60 Work related)
  • 97k Miles
  • 10 days and 11 hours in a plane… or 251 hours total!
  • 20 different airports/cities
  • 5 countries (America, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and The U.K.)
  • 25 different aircraft types… (which, when you reduce variants down to base-models and ignore some obscure regional planes, it covers just about every plane in domestic commercial aviation!)

There was a bit of a summer gap, so ultimately the travel was not that much higher than 2018 as I originally imagined, but it was still quite a lot, and there were some REAL gauntlets in there at times. (I’m looking at you, mid October to December 6th, where I only spent 8 days at home!)

Most importantly though, this crazy year pushed me above the ever important 125,000 mile threshold with Delta which means I got the most important email of all on December 31st when I flew back to LA from Japan:

Not gonna lie… feels good. 😉

That said, it WAS exhausting. I got a lot of people commenting on my travel posts about how envious they were of my travel and ability to do so… but the reality is, it’s not all fun. I love my job, I love the opportunities and experience all that travel opens up, but at the end of the day I am an introvert, and sometimes just want to sit in my own home in sweat pants playing video games and reading and 3D printing and pretending the outside world doesn’t exist.. and the longer I go without doing that the more stressed I feel, no matter how exciting the experience are. Still… it’s an exciting time to be me.

2018 Travel Recap

Wow. 2018 was quite the year for travel. I knew going into this new job that it was going to be *very* travel heavy, that was part of the plan. That said, this year I think I flew about as much as the previous 4 or 5… and I actually ended up lighter on the travel than was initially planned for a variety of reasons. (Having Victoria living in Japan and visiting her regularly definitely impacted it as well!)


So where do we stand? Well, here’s some of the notables:

  • 60 Flights (44 Work related)
  • 84k Miles
  • 220 hours in a plane.
  • 16 Airports
  • 4 Countries
  • 14 Different Aircraft types

Quite the year.. and this was with only working for Genvid as of May 1st. Next year is definitely going to be even more crazy, and is already shaping up to be double this years at a minimum!

…. Thank god for the Delta Sky Club and Diamond Medallion… it’s what changes this from being miserable to quite unobtrusively pleasant.

UPS seems to have lost my wine and doesn’t want to tell me

So last week (Sept 11th) a quarterly care package of wine was due to be delivered from Russian River Vineyards. It’s liquor, which means UPS will not leave it under any circumstances unless an adult signs for it in person. It has to be an adult at my address, no neighbors, no pre-sign online, none of that. Normally I had these shipped to my office mail room, but I changed jobs and have been working from home. I now have an office it can be sent to again as of last week, but it was too late to update in time for this package.

It was due to arrive last Wednesday the 13th, which would have been a problem for me but before I could log on and change the delivery date to a better time where I could actually be home, I got another notice it had been conveniently rescheduled to Friday the 15th due to unforeseen circumstances. I work from home on Fridays, so that’s perfect. Except, midway through Friday I was notified again that it was not going to make it on Friday after all, again due to unforseen circumstances, and come in later, either Monday or Tuesday.

That wouldn’t work for me, so begrudgingly I paid their silly $8 fee to re-schedule my package for the following Friday the 21st… today (as of this writing). It was the only time I could know for sure I would be home to sign for it. I also paid a few dollars extra to narrow down the delivery window to a 4 hour window instead of anytime that day. I got an email an hour later confirming my request was accepted and to expect it around 4 pm today, give or take 2 hours.

Fast forward to today (Friday the 21st)… it’s 7 pm, and no package. I just realized this, so I hopped online to look at the tracking info.. guess what? That info hasn’t updated at all since last Friday the 15th. Not a bit. Doesn’t even show it failing to deliver, being delayed, or out for delivery again, just that I requested a change and to come back later for more info. In a different view however, and also on my calendar view, it does show it due today on the 21st though, as does my email confirmation from the change.

So I called the 1-800 number for UPS. Agent #1 says they can’t see any info more than I do on tracking, and that this is indeed weird and that I should sit tight while they transfer me to someone with better info access. I get transferred, and Agent #2 is equally stumped. They have no idea what’s happened to the package since last week even though they are digging deeper in the system, and eventually offer to transfer me to an entirely different department that has way more info.

Person #3 first is equally confused, but then after a bit says “well, if you just sit tight, I can promise you it will be delivered today. If it hasn’t shown up in about an hour and a half, then you can call us back and I’ll see what I can do.” I ask if I can just have it re-routed to my office because clearly it is not arriving today, and if it gets routed there someone can sign for it. He, however, insists he cannot make this change himself, and that I can only make the change by logging in and paying the fee to do it myself.. yeah right, that’s not happening.

“Look”, I say.. “it’s 7:30 PM on a Friday. I have plans.. never in my life did I expect I would have to be here this late to sign for a package. I need to leave the house around 8 pm tonight, and I don’t want to be late. There’s no reason I should have to stay around for a package that was due a week ago. This is ridiculous and unfair to me. It’s 7:35 pm… I don’t see a realistic scenario where everything suddenly gets better in 20 minutes, when right now at this moment you can’t actually tell me you know what’s going on or can guarantee me it’s on it’s way here, you just said you don’t know where it is.”

He then proceeds to swear he knows for a fact it’s on the truck, out for delivery, and will be here by 8 pm (wow that hour and a half sure changed quick) and that if it’s not, to feel free to call back at 8 at that time… but he can promise me I won’t have to, and it will be definitely be here if I just wait… Now.. as I post this at 7:58 PM… why is it I don’t believe him?

UPDATE 1: So 8:05 pm arrives and I called in, and this time I get transferred once more to a different department with “more info” right off the bat once they look up my package. The nice woman right away says “I can tell from your package history and what I can additionally see that this is 100% not on a truck for delivery today. I have no idea where it is, and do not know what it’s status is, but I can promise you that if it was out for delivery I would know that much. You’ll need to call back once another 24 hours have passed, at which point we can open an investigation.” Great… I’m so glad I stayed to work from home two different Fridays, and paid change fees to acomodate their mistake for them to lose this thing…

UPDATE 2: UPS saw my tweet about this article and reached out to me early Saturday AM. They asked for my tracking number and contact info and said someone would contact me within the hour… 3 hours later I asked them again about an update and heart nothing. The following day on Sunday I asked once more, and was given an apology and told they are closed on Sundays and will be in touch with me Monday. Fair enough.. on the Sunday part.. but I’m miffed about the blow off on Saturday.

Monday the 24th rolls around and I wake up to an email saying my package is out for delivery today. Great and all that they seemingly have found it, except this doesn’t help anything. I am not home today, the package is still flagged as adult signature required, and I was never given the option to address this issue with anyone in person as promised and do what I intended: arrange for either another Friday delivery on the 28th or a re-direct to my office. I replied to the twitter DM thread with these frustrations, and they apologized once more for the lack of the promised followup(s). They said someone would be in touch with me by 11:15 am… it is now 11:30 am and I have heard nothing.

For those keeping score, that is 2 failed deliveries, 4 promised phone calls that never happened,  and 2 blatant lies by customer service agents on the phone trying to get me off the call. At this point the USPS is starting to look like less of a shit show than UPS and that’s saying something. You know, as a Louisville native, we used to take great pride in the UPS brand and all it has done for that city… 🙁

UPDATE 3: Got a nice guy on the phone calling me back at noon on Monday. He said sorry for the mix-up and the package will be held and NOT delivered today, and will be sent back out Friday as planned.

UPDATE 4: Oh this just gets better. Well, here it is Friday at 3:45PM and I get a text saying they tried to deliver my package and failed, and that it will be re-delivered Monday. Now…I live in a secured building. You have to punch in a pin pad that rings my phone to get in.. and then if you need a signature from me you need to knock on my unit door that I am sitting 20 feet from with a clear view and earshot of. Neither of those things happened. Additionally, there was no slip left behind saying sorry we missed you.

I called UPS, they said a local office manager will call me back within the hour. An hour and a half later a nice lady calls me, I relay my story to her.. she said its unlikely the driver will be willing to do a re-delivery on a Friday night but that she will call and ask just in case, and that one way or another, she will call me back in 10 minutes and go over my options with me.

UPDATE 5: An hour and a half later she has not called my back, and when I try to call the number on my caller ID it says the number does not accept inbound calls. On a whim, I refresh my tracking info, and what do you know? It shows that a second delivery attempt was just made 20 minutes ago, and that I was not home and a note was left.

I look outside… no note. My phone? Never rang. My door-box? Never rang. Oh.. did I mention that all day I have left my unit door cracked open about a foot, wide open to the common area hallway, so that if anyone walked past my unit at ALL I know would know because I can see it from my desk?

I call customer service, and re-explain my saga to a supervisor, she types away and says “well, according to the notes here, the manager spoke to the driver and he informed her he would not be able to make a second delivery attempt” Really!?!! Then why on earth does the tracking say one was made and now show two deliveries?

She tells me shes updating the notes and requesting that a “senior manager contact me within the hour.” I politely by exasperatedly reminded her I’ve been told “I would be contacted within the hour” 5 times before, and I am 5 for 5 on it never actually happening. She promises one will, however, and that the package is now confirmed for a delivery tomorrow on Saturday, but that she cannot give me any kind of guarantee on the time frame.. so I guess I’m spending my Saturday at home now.

UPDATE 6: Naturally it goes without saying no Sr Manager ever called me last night. I woke up to a 9am today to a phone call however from the same nice lady in the local office as before, saying that that my package is out for delivery today. (Yay). I asked if they could give me a more narrow window than “by end of day at 5pm” but she said she could not, however she would be happy to make a call asking if she was able to get a better window, and call me back within the hour. Naturally of course, 4 hours later, I haven’t heard from her… but I am not surprised at this point. Additionally, I tried to ask about the clearly fake failed delivery attempts in the tracking system, the package being lost, all the stuff that led up to this, but she dodged around all of it and wouldn’t get into it with me and I didn’t want to push, she was the only nice person I’ve dealt with so far and just wanted my package. So here I am.. waiting.

I did get curious though and look up my tracking around noon to see if it was indeed out for delivery, and it was! I also noticed something else.. here’s a side by side comparison to the tracking info from last night and again today.. see if you can notice the difference.

Aha! It would seem they have deleted the first delivery attempt last night from my tracking history. Now the second one, I know 100% without a doubt never happened. The first I *know* they didn’t as well, but the second one is even easier, if you read above, to prove never happened than the fist. Yet.. *poof*… gone is the first one. Shady as heck if you ask me.

At this point, I don’t even care about the package anymore… I’ve lost well over the $200 of it’s value in time, patience, work, and stress. At this point, it’s about the fact they are treating me with such utter disrespect, dismissiveness, and lack of empathy that I am just absolutely at the end of my rope with how they have treated me… and the worst part is.. .they know and just don’t care one bit because they know there is nothing I can do about it. I’m just a line item on a spreadsheet to someone with a revenue value… heck I didn’t even choose to use them and don’t have a say in them being used in future deliveries to me, so what do I matter?

UPDATE 7: So I’m in the bathroom. I think I might have just heard a single, loud, solo knock at the door across the house. I get my pants decent as fast as I humanly can and run like hell to the front door… it wasn’t long I swear.

And there is a sorry we missed you slip on it. It must have taken me less than 20 seconds to get there… honest to god. I run down 3 flights of stairs as fast as I humanly can, and I see the truck driving off down the block…

I give up.

UPDATE 8: I just got off the phone with UPS. I refused to end the call until I had the package re-routed somewhere else, and for ONCE they didn’t say no… on top of that he even went to a few different supervisors to try and get the fees waived so I wouldn’t have to pay them… and now it’s due to be delivered at my office on October 2nd (friendly reminder the original date was Sept 11th!) . I won’t be there as I’ll be out of town starting that morning, but that’s fine, the front desk can at least sign for it for me and hold it till I come back on the 4th.

*sigh*

I really hope this saga is over. Never in my life will I willingly give UPS another penny by choice. I just became a FedEx fan for life.

UPDATE 9: Hang on to your hats boys and girls… it’s not over yet!

That’s right.. here we are Monday the 1st at 3pm (a day in which no deliveries were anticipated!) and I just got a failed to delivery notification at my HOME address… including a nice reminder this is the last attempt they will make and the package will now be sent back to the shipper.

So as I’m updating this I call and I just got a hold of a supervisor, and they are telling me there is no record of the address change from last night, or the managers over ride of the charges. In fact, there are extensive notes from most of my calls, but no record at all of my call last night. I am at a loss for words. I’m being told the system will not allow the package to be shipped elsewhere, or be picked up in person, because it is locked out in the system by the shipper. My only option now is to just let it go back to Russian River Vineyards. *sigh*

I am going to go out of my way at all costs to not voluntarily give UPS another penny as long as I live.

UPDATE 10: Final update. The package is on its way back to the vineyard and that is that. That said, I shared this page on twitter.. and I even tagged UPS in it. Not only that, but  I have a 20 tweet long DM convo back and fourth with their support team over the last week. They responded via DM once more after linking this comedy of horrors. Their response to me?

Sir, I truly apologize for the inconvenience, but unfortunately, we are unable to reroute your shipment to a different address due to contents inside the package. I suggest contact the shipper for alternative options.

That’s it. It’s not even about the package… it hasn’t been about the pages in weeks. It’s about their total lack of effort to deliver any kind of reasonable customer service. Zero follow through on countless “someone will call you within the hour” promises, or falsified delivery notices, or the multiple outright lies to me by people on the phone. Nope they don’t address of even acknowledge any of that one bit. Of course not.. why would they? That requires empathy.

FINAL UPDATE: It’s here! The wonderfully nice lady at Russian River Vineyards contacted UPS for me and had them redirect the box en-route to her back to my office, and it finally arrived. And… I think I now know why everything went south.

This is NOT the box the wine was sent in. This is not the official packaging Russian River uses. It also has a label that was CLEARLY removed from another box and added to this one. The interior bottles were packaged in a weird, aftermarket styrofoam contraption that left them boxed up cork down, fully exposed to the box sides with no protection against the bottom of the box (WTF?!) after being individually sealed in plastic bags. The original paperwork is heavily liquid damaged, and the box was haphazardly constructed by shelling two ends of two smaller boxes together with this waterlogged ad-hoc MacGyver contraption inside.

It’s pretty evident that during the very first “unforeseen circumstances” or the subsequent “week of missing in action” something went horribly wrong with my box and UPS tried to hide it.

J’s EDC

So, due to the new job (Oh… uh… I should make a post about that shouldn’t I?) I am very much more-so a Digital Nomad now. As a result, I have refined my Everyday Carry items down to a science… and I figured I would share it as I know several of my friends are nerds about this kind of stuff.

I’ve roughly broken it down into 3 sections… my daily laptop bag and it’s contents. The “Travel Mode” items that get swapped out/added when flying (which is almost weekly these days) and finally there are the “pocket items”… things that are on me personally, most of the time. (Truth be told they could be with the first group, but to be totally honest I forgot to include them until after I took the pics and packed everything back up…)

First up, we have the “pocket items”:

Nothing too fancy here, just my day to day pocket items.. though the keys are often attached to an inside pocket of the bag via a carabiner.

  1. Decadent Minimalist Wallet
    A piece of machined aluminum, it fits 8 cards that slide out easily as needed and snap back into place securely with an extremely satisfying “click”. In the event I ever end up with some RFID cards in my set, I can always pop in special signal blocking cards on either side as well.
  2. Key ring with a Keyport MOCA 10-1 tool
    The MOCA tool has been ridiculously handy in the 2 months I’ve had it. The scoring blade has opened countless packaging tape on boxes, and it’s easily opened it’s fair share of bottle caps as well. 😉 (oh yeah, and it’s TSA compliant!)
  3. My Mazda3 Key-fob
    Oh yeah, and the key-fob has a cute lego brick with my name on it, courtesy of the Girlfriend.
  4. Apple Watch Series 2
    It tells the time… and a few extra things… like hatching Pokemon eggs! 😉

Next up, we have “The Bag”:

  1. 5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery Mike Messenger bag
    HOLY CRAP does this thing pack a LOT in a small space. I simply cannot suggest this bag enough to anyone! It comes in several sizes, but mine is the smallest of them. It barely snugly fits the MBP, but that’s okay because it’s so small and compact it’s perfect for me for all uses, even when I don’t want to carry a computer at all.
  2. Macbook Pro 15″
    Usual run-of-the-mill 15″ MacBook Pro. It’s my work laptop, and squeezes in a bit of gaming when needed as well!
  3. iPad Pro 9″
    Slim and exceptionally powerful for it’s form factor… acts as a great computer when I don’t want to dig out the laptop.
  4. Kindle Oasis
    Slick little guy, small (fits perfectly in an outer pocket the same shape as it), water resistant, big screen, and carries everything I ever want to read on a seemingly-forever charge.
  5. Apple USB-c charger and cable
  6. Anker 26,800 mAh battery
    This thing has STUPID capacity, it can fully recharge everything in this bag and then some, and snuggles down in the outer side pocket perfectly out of sight.
  7. Hedgehog Zootility Tool
    This little guys is awesome, it’s a beard comb, phone kickstand, wrench, screwdriver, ruler, and several other things in one.. all the size of a business card.
  8. iPhone USB cable
  9. Sandisk USB 3.1/c hybrid 128gb thumb drive
    128gb of storage with, a slider switch that extends a 3.1 USB plug on one side, and a USB-c on the other!
  10. iPad stylus, Nexus Minimal Fountain Pen, fine tipped marker, and roller-ball pen
    The stylus is self explanatory. The fountain pen is my sexy, single-piece, machined aluminum go-to writing tool but I don’t trust strangers with the nib, hence the roller-ball. The extra fine marker comes in quite handy from time to time, sometimes interchanged with a fine sharpie.
  11. Samsung Galaxy S9 (Work Phone)
  12. iPhone 8 Plus (Personal phone)
  13. Apple AirPods
  14. Business card holder
    Kind of self explanatory, eh?
  15. Satechi USB-c Hub
    HDMI, 3 Usb 3.1 ports, ethernet, memory card readers, though power USB-c,  all in a portable hub, I love this thing!
  16. Leatherman Wave Multiool
    LOVE. THIS. TOOL! It lives in a MOLLE pouch on the outer side of the bag, though I take it out when flying. Seriously, if you don’t own a multitool, you want this one. I won’t list all it’s features here, just click the link to see for yourself and then buy one.
  17. Sony RX100 Mk 5
    I churned hard out of photography and I greatly regret it, but my hope is that by carrying this BEAST of a point and shoot, I will be encouraged to shoot more and get back into it. Thanks to it’s small portability, powerful sensor and optics, and wifi communications to my phone… so far it’s working! He lives in a little MOLLE pouch on the opposite side of the bag from the Multitool.
  18. GlocalMe Pocket WiFi
    This guy is great. He has his own cloud services with comparable daily rates to other big named WiFi devices for when I’m traveling, but it *also* also has a Dual-SIM card slot. This way I can keep a Verizon sim in him to share in my phones domestic data plan, as well as popping in a foreign SIM when I am going to be out of the country for more than a day or two (cheaper than using the service usually). As a professional road warrior, he’s a must-have.

 

All packed up, it makes for a snug but awesome fit in the bag:

Lastly we have the “Modular” stuff:

These are things that are added or swapped out for stuff in the bag when I am on the road traveling away from home:

  1. PDP Nintendo Switch Case
    This is probably the slimmest, most nondescript Switch case I could find, love it. I’m looking however for something slightly smaller and thinner that has MOLLE straps that I can affix to the outer flap of the bag when traveling.
  2. Limited edition Zelda 3DS
    I rarely use this anymore, the Switch has almost entirely replaced it, but I do like my Pokemon and have many more street pass regions to unlock! Considering replacing it with one of the new 2DS XLS, specifically the Japan-only matte black with green trim one.
  3. Nintendo Switch
    Nuff said. Oh and go buy Golf Story and Octopath Traveler.
  4. 2017 12″ Macbook Retina
    This thing is a shockingly powerful laptop for its size. It’s as thin as the iPad and nearly half the size & bulk of the Macbook Pro. When I don’t need the MBP for work reasons (ie. a Big Scren for demos)… he’s my go-to instead. My daily driver due to it’s lightweight portability with a decent punch, he’s served me well.
  5. Sony Noise Canceling headphones.
    Moderately priced with active noise canceling, a airline 2-prong adapter, and the ability to collapse down into a small package, this is great for alllllll those flights I take!And there you have it! This is what gets me through the days. Nothing too fancy, but I had a little fun documenting it all on a quiet evening.

One of the hardest decisions of my life…

Major life changing news: I’ve decided to take the insane, risky leap to leave the comfort and stability of Riot, and tackle an incredibly exciting opportunity that has presented itself to me. Sorta long post ahead… if you care about the nuances of my life, my professional career, and self growth then read on. If you just want the TL;DR version, well there it was!

I’m now a little over 4 years into my time at Riot, and it has been the most impacting of any experiences of my life in evolving who I am. (Credit where credit is due however, I’m pretty sure Victoria has had a hand in things as well!) This experience has led to amazing opportunities, self growth, friendships, and so much more. Many might think I would be a fool to walk away from that, the extended “family” I have, and the amazing perks that come with working with such amazing and talented people. Honestly, I can’t blame them. This was a terrifying decision that I spent many days agonizing over and talking to quite a few confidants about before making the decision that yes, this is the right path.

I’ve been presented with the amazing opportunity to craft my own role in Partner Relations and BizDev at a senior position at a startup that is doing something that I think has valuable merit, and more importantly… something that will challenge me far more than I am now, with a perfect (for me) balance of risk to reward.

In June I’ll be 38 years old, and Victoria is living halfway around the world for the next 2+ years. If I’m going to take any major chances in life and do anything risky with my career, these next 2-3 years are the best real shot I think I have before I need to really think hard about my long-term commitments in life and listen to the adult voice in the back of my head that I’ve been mostly ignoring until now.

And so that brings me here. Friday, April 27th 2018 will be my last day at Riot. I’ve got a lot of work to do to help prepare my team to be successful without me, though I have the full confidence that they will be able to do so… I’ve spent the last 4 years helping them be ready for that. Still, I felt that 4 weeks through the end of the month was the right way to go here for the smoothest transition, I certainly owe them that.

Riot has treated me well these last 4+ years, and the only reason this opportunity has even been presented to me is because of the investment they made in me as a person. There have been honest efforts made to convince me to stay, but I haven’t been this invigorated, excited, and challenged as I am about this new opportunity since, well… since I first started at Riot, and I want that feeling again. I have faith in this new adventure, but if things don’t work out, well… if they have a need for my particular skill set again, Riot has a bit of a known habit of collecting back alumni.

I am a strange mix of excitement, terror, and anxiety. Never before have I walked away from the comfort and safety of a job willingly like this, to take a chance on something else… but I know deep down it’s the right choice.

Stay tuned, and in future days I’ll share more about where I’m going and what I’m doing! (Oh! And I’m not leaving the Santa Monica area, so I won’t be moving or anything!)

Holy crap… I’m building a makerspace!

Okay… to step back a bit, it’s not QUITE that complex. I’m building a private, small (size and scale) maker space. It’s going to be a bit of an ongoing experiment to lay the groundwork for *actually* building a large scale, public space in a better location down the road and hopefully making it open to public membership.

I just secured a current location in Santa Monica in a great area that’s close to the expo line and down town SM. It’s only about 350 sq feet, but its bigger than you’d think and more importantly, the lease is exceptionally well priced for our needs, includes power and internet in the cost, and has its own entrance/exit with 24/7 access that I can apply some smart automation to.

We’re going to start off small… I and a few Rioters are going to be moving some 3D Printers, tools, accessories and other related stuff there. Though, no major power tools, no CNCs, nothing that would disrupt the 9-5 lives of our fellow tenants in their tech offices out of both politeness and necessity. My hope is that my fellow Rioters and friends can make good use of a shared creative space for 3D Printing, Cosplay making, prop fabrication, circuitry noodling and other stuff in a relatively small but shareable space via evening creative sessions and fun group weekend collaborations. I’m not going to ask for a specific fixed dollar amount from folks in order to partake in the space to fully offset the cost, but hopefully people will contribute enough in their own way that I’m not fully out of pocket entirely, and it can be self sustaining.

It’s a month to month lease so we can experiment as long as its working for us, and either sunset things if they don’t or use it as a springboard to securing a bigger, more appropriate long term space and turning it into a public venture. Additionally the monthly cost is reasonable enough that I am comfortable shouldering it myself as part of the experiment, worst case.


I have no idea what I’m doing and this is probably a stupid idea I’ll regret down the road, but I’m incredibly excited and highly motivated right now!

On a related note, if anyone is interested in investing into an *actual* Makerspace on the Westside of LA with me, that changes things greatly and offsets the challenge of bootstrapping an idea from scratch. Let’s talk.. You know how to find me.!

Accepting Trump is President does not mean you have to ignore that he is a terrible person.

Here’s the thing… yes I have a lot of negativity about Trump being president, but I do accept that Trump is the president. I do… but just because I accept he is the president, it does not mean he represents me. He may represent America on the international stage, and our government at the highest level, but he does not represent my moral values or the ethics my family instilled upon me growing up. He does not represent my ideological values that I have gained from a lifetime of growth and development.

I condemn his open bigotry. I condemn his hateful comments about Muslims. I condemn his hateful comments about Hispanics. I condemn his hateful comments about Women. I condemn him for mocking a disabled man. I condemn him for pandering to white supremacists purely for the sake of votes, for welcoming them directly into his administration, and even having one write his inauguration speech. I condemn him for running a campaign based on openly and unabashedly lying to Americans. I condemn him because he instructs his staff to brazenly lie to people over and over again until the entire point is lost and people move on. I condemn him for basing his campaign around dividing the American people against one another to his own advantage. I condemn his inability to admit personal fault in even the slightest way as a form of personal growth. At the core, I condemn him as a human being who does not represent even a sliver of a percent of the best of what an American can, and should, be.

Accepting that he is my President doesn’t mean I have to root for his success. If he somehow made America a better place, I would be thrilled… however Trump’s concept of “better” is directly the opposite of mine and anyone I hold dear to me. I don’t want him to succeed in banning Muslims or Hispanics from the country. I don’t want him to succeed in building a titanic wall along the border. I don’t want him to succeed in unwinding key parts of healthcare reform that protects people against bullshit “pre-existing conditions” clauses or 5000% drug price increases based purely for profit. I don’t want him to succeed in filling his administration with opportunists who are looking for personal gain over the best interests of Americans. I want him to fail at these things, because I think America will be a far, far worse for the wear if he succeeds at all of this.

The 4 month saga to the perfect gift

So, back in the late spring/early summer a new regular popped up in the League of Legends subreddit. His name was /u/Xplo85 aka ThatJewelryDesigner (more properly known as Christopher) and he was doing a kick ass job designing jewelry based on champions from League of Legends (and now other games too).

I thought about it a bit, and realized this was my chance to finally one-up my girlfriend, Victoria (@Aoitsukihime), on all the PAX presents she has gotten for me each year and put myself in the black on the balance for a long time to come. 😉
So, I reached out to Christopher and we started a dialogue about what I had in mind. In short, I wanted something Sona inspired, with blue sapphires (blue being her favorite color and appropriate for the design).

Sona, for those who don't play LoL

He got to work on some initial ideas, and came back with some amazing renders. I opted to go the route of white-gold, given that she is most prone to wearing that over yellow gold, even though the yellow is more in line with Sona’s color scheme. (This, by the way, explains why for months now people on Reddit have been begging him for a Sona inspired design, but he keeps deferring the requests for “reasons”… he didn’t want to spoil the surprise!)

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I gave him some feedback and he noodled over the design a bit more, and after a while he came back with an excellent rendering of the ring that I was totally sold on: The crown is covered in filigree that represents Sona’s etwahl (her instrument that doubles as her weapon). The outer edges of the band is covered in similar designs that match her instrument as well as her clothing. The interior of the band itself is covered in a chain of her iconic hair pieces that hold her pigtails, and while the outer band in the original design had a row of Tears (Fully stacked Tears of the Goddess!) they were omitted from the final for practical reasons. Lastly, the gems… the original design called for yellow-gold with blue sapphires, to evoke her gold and blue color palette of both her and her etwahl, but as I said I opted to change the gold to white-gold for practicality, as my girlfriend does not really wear yellow-gold.  (As some have pointed out, Blue, Purple, and Green gems to represent her key abilities would also have been neat.. but as I was going for an every day piece to wear I wanted to keep it simple to her favorite color and gem.)

At the time, he was working at a jewelry store back in GA not far from where I used to live in Atalanta, so I quickly commissioned them through him to make it a reality!

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They made an initial run of the materials, and came back with a casting that was not ideal, but a great first attempt to help them find some of the flaws in the design. This allowed him to refine things a bit and retool it for maximum awesomeness. After some changes, they were subject to yet another processing run. About this time, Chris moved on to freelance on his own to take his new found passion of gaming-inspired designs to the next level, but he was absolutely amazing in making sure this was not lost in the transition and worked tirelessly to keep tabs on the project with the store long after he left.. a true dedication to the craft.  From there, I continued working with the owner of the store, Angie, directly.

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After the subsequent run, some of the issues still remained and it became clear the design had some inherent flaws. Namely, there was just too much filigree and wire-work and not enough substance to hold the structure soundly or the gems in place. This was not really Chris’s fault and I can’t blame him. He was a burgeoning designer and as a 3D printing Maker myself, you learn quickly that a lot of the limitations when designs become reality are not inherently obvious and you only learn how to anticipate them from trial and error over time based on pure experience. Angie, the owner, was great about resolving this and enlisted the service of a master craftsman the shop has used for decades to retool the design into something a little more amenable to the laws of physics. Sadly it meant losing some of the pure filigree and converting it to a decorative surface on a solid materials, but none of the sexy lines or slimness of the design was lost! They sent over some gorgeous re-designs, (seen below), and I was happy to approve them for what was hopefully going to be the final casting.

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The result? Well… it made her cry so that’s a good start! I think it’s gorgeous and so does she. (The video doesn’t show it cause she hid from the camera squealing, but she began flapping her arms like a happy little penguin, and orbiting around me while simultaneously twirling in place like a cute little moon, giggling nonstop. It was adorable.)

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The only problem?

I really painted myself into a corner with how high I set the bar for a future engagement ring…