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Category: random

Blogging Thoughts

One of the challenges I have with blogging is that I always feel like I need to write a lot or make the post as meaningful as possible. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do it more often.

However, with all of the thoughts half thunk and ideas never jotted down, the blog just gains empty space instead of becoming any kind of interaction.

That said, I’m going to try working on some more quick posts (like this one). After all, I’m no professional writer, so why treat this like work?

Avoid ground(ctrl) Events

About a month ago, I went to see the Summerland 2013 tour (Everclear/Live/Filter/Sponge), which I had a blast at.  I’d been wanting to see Everclear for 18 years, and just had never had it work out, so I decided to treat myself and get the VIP experience.  While I am working on a post about that experience, this post is about the company that tried to ruin that experience…

As part of the VIP package, that was coordinated by ground(ctrl), was a backstage meet-and-greet and acoustic session with Everclear.  I simply couldn’t miss on the chance to meet one of my favorite musicians and songwriters, Art Alexakis.  The day before the show, I finally got the details about the VIP event.  This should have been a red flag, since I would have expected it much earlier so that I would be able to plan accordingly, but I shrugged it off.  The e-mail said to meet up with their representative at 6:30pm to be taken backstage to meet the band.

My wife and I showed up at 6:25pm at the designated gate with our ID’s in hand (as requested).  While I would have loved to be there earlier, it was a Wednesday, and we both had to work, so we hustled to make sure we were on-time.  We’re asking around, and there’s no representative to be found.  After a few minutes, a security member at Stage AE figures out where the rest of the group is (aparrently because we were “late”…and it was just after 6:30pm at this point) and takes us back to meet Art and the rest of Everclear, who tell us it’s a shame we missed the acoustic performances.  While I was disappointed, I did get just enough time to meet the entire band, get their autographs and some pictures, and rocked out to an awesome show (like I said, details to come).

However, I was still annoyed that I was given inaccurate information about the event, so I contacted ground(ctrl) the next day to figure out what happened.  I spelled things out for Graham, who took my call.  He seemed sympathetic, and said he’d forward my complaint to their VIP events group to see what they could do, and hopefully they’d contact me early the next week.

Well, they didn’t.  Instead, they took until today (7/17/2013…4 weeks after the concert) to finally get back to me:

Hello nilsen.greg,

This message is a follow-up to your phone call to ground(ctrl) support. Per our conversation, you were unable to check into your VIP event due to the event taking place before the scheduled time.

Our VIP department has investigated this issue, and they on site VIP staff has assured us that the check in for this event took place as stated in the VIP email: In front of the Stage AE box office at 6:30pm. After reviewing our conversation, it seems that you may have been provided with inaccurate information by the box office attendant at the venue. Due to the number of VIP events that may be taking place at each concert, the box office attendants may not be provided with all VIP event details. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a refund or compensation for this missed event.

We sincerely apologize that we are unable to assist you further with this request and are sorry for any inconvenience this incident has caused. Please see out Ticekting/VIP policy for more details:

ground(ctrl) Support

So, when I read this response, I was livid.  Clearly I was being blown off because they couldn’t send me the right time for the event, and that was my fault.  In addition, shortly after their response, they sent me event details for the Summerland stop in Danbury, CT on 7/19 (exactly one month after the show I attended), which helps to show how disorganized they are.  I have since responded to their support staff, fairly politely considering how frustrated I was at their response, and copied half of the managers at Stage AE:

Ground(ctrl) “Support”,
Clearly you have received faulty information or your associates are merely covering their own butts.  I assume that the timeliness of your response (it’s been a full month since I initially called your support line), that you’ve decided to blow off the issue I politely brought up to you despite not receiving the experience I had paid for, mostly in hopes of preventing others from having the same problems in the future.
We were at the front gate of the venue (Stage AE in Pittsburgh) prior to 6:30pm on 6/19, and the venue staff managed to find where the group had been taken within 5 minutes of our arrival.  At that time, the acoustic session and most of the meet and greet had been completed.  I’m very skeptical that all this had been completed in 5 minutes, as you appear to be claiming.  In fact, the staff at StageAE went out of their way to be helpful and get us where we needed to be to at least have met the band briefly.
In conversations with other attendees, we were told that they had been taken back around 6:10pm, and the venue staff told us that this was a regular problem with similar VIP packages.
Then, today, your company further demonstrated its incompetence by sending me a reminder for another event on the same tour (a VIP meet-and-greet with Everclear on 7/19 at Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT, which I did not only NOT purchase tickets for, but am a roughly 10 hour drive from).  I’m not sure who was supposed to receive that e-mail, but I hope you get it to them so they don’t miss out too.
You can go ahead and place the blame on the venue (because it’s just easier to pass the buck, right?), but with this lazy response and subsequent errors, I will be sure to avoid doing business with your company in the future, and warn friends and family about your “services”.
I will also be CCing Stage AE staff with this response.
Good day to you.
– Greg Nilsen
So, the short version of this is to avoid ground(ctrl) events if at all possible (and if you have to, show up at least an hour before they tell you to avoid missing the good stuff).  It appears to be a fairly haphazard operation that is happy to take your money and run.  And for any musicians who may read this, please avoid giving any more business to this company, because they clearly can’t handle it and will only disappoint your fans.  Unfortunately, this will always be a tarnish on what was, otherwise, an incredible experience.

The Friday Shuffle

So, it’s Friday, and that means casual dress and a more relaxed office atmosphere, including the music.  Several years ago, a number of bloggers would put their music on shuffle and record the first 10 that come up (no skipping).  It’s all just for fun (and maybe a little embarassment), and if you’d like to add your own, feel free to comment with yours, or link to it below.  For this morning, here is mine:

  1. Busta Rhymes – What’s It Gonna Be
  2. Everclear – Otis Redding
  3. Veggie Tales – The Dance of the Cucumber
  4. Don Moen – Sing For Joy
  5. Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight
  6. The Clarks – Penny On The Floor
  7. Delirious – When All Around Has Fallen
  8. Billy Talent – Worker Bees
  9. Joel Engle – My Jesus I Love Thee
  10. The Offspring – Can’t Repeat

That’s it for this week.  Feel free to add your own!

Random Stuff

Technology Stuff

  • named Pittsburgh one of the top tech cities in the country, largely in thanks to CMU, a new Google branch and a glut of electronics stores. Clearly, they didn’t take job availability and salary into account though.
  • The MPAA have been caught uploading fake torrents of movies in order to collect IP addresses and send copyright infringement letters to ISPs. However, if you don’t download the proper torrent, are you really infringing on copyright? Or do you charged with “Intent To Infringe Upon A Copyrighted Work”?
  • The FCC has ruled that Comcast can’t use internal security in their set-top boxes that tie them directly into Comcast’s services. I’m not sure what that’s going to mean to me as a cable customer, but they’re appealing, so nothing is likely to change for another year anyway.
  • The Pirate Bay, a Swedish company that has caught a lot of international headlines regarding illegal file-sharing, is looking into purchasing Sealand, a “micronation” (a.k.a. a former British naval platform) off the coast but outside of the jurisdiction of the UK, for somewhere in the realm of 500 British pounds. Word is that they’d also erect a giant hand on the platform in order to continue giving the world the middle finger.
  • Apple continues to be about the only backer of DRM left. Then again, the appear to be about the only ones able to sell music online successfully (and legally).
  • Cisco is suing Apple over the recently announced iPhone’s name, which is trademarked by Cisco. Not sure what Cisco’s plan for the name was, but maybe they just saw the eventual iEverything concept Apple was going for as they’ve also trademarked iMicrowave, iBlender and iToilet.
  • A spy satellite launched last year by the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is now unable to be contacted by it’s operators. In light of the failure and financial setbacks, the NRO will be resorting to using Google Earth to monitor the world for the time being.

Life Stuff

Fun Stuff

  • The Amazing Lego Church! You’ve got to take a look at this incredible project!

Helicopter Parents Make Bad Pilots

One of the most atrocious and laughable phenomena of the last few decades, the 'Helicopter Parent' has reached new heights as their kids have aged. They're now highly involved in their children's job search process.

For those not familiar with 'Helicopter Parents', you probably are and just don't realize it. These are parents who hover over their kids lives, getting far to involved in aspects which they don't need to be a part of. Some examples are parents who call up college professors and complain about bad grades their children got.

Well, now their attending job fairs and answering questions about the student's backgrounds for them. Some parents have even gone as far as to call an employer asking why their kid didn't get a job after an interview, or if the child did get hired, asking about job performance reviews.

If you're one of these kids, welcome to the 7th Level of Loserdom. If you can't prove yourself without mommy and daddy's help, then you're of no use as an employee.

It's bad enough that these parents act like this, but it's even worse that these children let them do it this long. I'm sure it seems easier to have someone else do everything for you, but then there's no sense of accomplishment or satisfaction.

Oh, and if you're one of these kids, please don't ever bother interviewing with me for a position. I know that if I get a call from your parents for any reason, they'll be hung up on faster than a helicopter blade can spin.

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course

I can’t find the image online, but in today’s Post-Gazette there was an article about the outpouring of sympathy for Barbaro after his life-threatening injury, and the image they were showing was a man signing a large get-well card. Let’s hope that lifts his spirits when he reads that!

What’s that Morbo?


The Beauty of Spring




I must say that it's great to have spring back here in Pennsylvania. The last few months have been very long because we've had those too-warm-to-be-winter-but-too-cold-to-be-spring temperatures since January with a few glimpses of warmth spattered in. Now we've hit the 60s and 70s and look to stay there for the most part. And I must say that if feels like such a blessing. Every day I'm getting out of work and wanting to do something outdoors after work. My gym pass has been on the shelf because I just don't want to be indoors any more than I have to. Tonight, I'm planning to go shoot some hoops with Marci just down from our apartment, just because we can!

Now, if I could just convince my boss to set me up with a nice wireless setup so I could work outside…