Yelp is dead to me

Yelp is a web site that lets users rate and review local services and businesses. It was a great site when it first launched, especially in the Bay Area. People were passionately entering reviews and made it a great resource.

But then things started going bad. Yelp became the landing place for people desperately trying to be hip and clever. They write stupid, nasty reviews to get laughs and props from friends with no concern for the business involved.

Take this jewel by a pathetic poser in San Diego who tries to impress us with her hipster cred of wearing vintage clothes, smoking hookahs and going to La Jolla salons. She also likes to pepper her reviews by calling anyone she doesn’t like a hag

My “server” was this repulsive arabic hag that was so bitter from the second she came to are table saying “are you ready what do you want” the first 60seconds we were seated. We asked her to come back in a little bit….A little bit does not mean 2 minutes…. Anyways we ordered are drinks and hookah. 2 cokes, and MINT. She returns with sprite we say we asked for coke she stands there arguing for 2 minutes saying we said sprite…. OK WHATVER so then thy bring us are hookah. Is it mint? NOPE it’s grape. I tell her this is grape she said “This is what you order” at that point i found her funny. After 5 minutes of arguing that we said grape not mint she finally just walks away with the grape and someone else returns with a mint 15minutes later…
We payed the bill and attempted to walk out. She sees us leaving and says “Did you pay?” I said “It’s on the table.”
We begin walking to the car and i hear her comming after us saying “EXCUSE ME” we turn around. She says “You are short of pay you only paid for the total where is my extra tip?!”
At that point i snapped. I went off on her telling her she has nerve 1.asking for a tip and 2.thinking she deserves anything.
She made it into a huge scene! I swear! She had the nerve to tell us we were there for over 3 hours smoking hookah and asking for constant refills.
Funny part is we only got to smoke that hookah about 12 minutes because they would not give us coals and we did not get one refill on are drinks. HAHAHA

Why is Yelp to blame

It’s not Yelp’s fault that hags like PoshP need a forum to make people think they are cool. But it is their fault for encouraging this behavior and making it difficult to add reality to these comments. Another user could rate the above comment as useful, funny, or cool.

Where’s the reality check? Users should be able to give crap like this negative ratings. Is this rating: shitty, pathetic, or lacking in reality.

You can follow the reviewer and send a compliment, but you can’t leave a comment on the review. Yahoo! Local, on the other hand allows other users to leave comments and give negative ratings. Here’s an example of a rating I wrote about the Millenium restaurant in San Francisco. It didn’t live up to my expectations and I said so:

This was a big disappointment. I was told to expect the French Laundry of vegetarian cuisine. It cost as much as the French Laundry, but the food was simply mediocre. If you are looking for Vegetarian/Vegan food in San Francisco, go up the street to the Indian/Pakistani dives. The food is much better.

Another user pointed out the relevancy of expectations:

That’s a poignant observation – people I know either like it or hate it and I really think it’s a matter of price and expectations

Which led me to agree and give a followup comment:

Expectations are a large part of it. I received gift certificates and returned a year later. As I wasn’t expecting as much, I enjoyed the meal more.

Death to Yelp

So Yelp is dead to me now. I’ve gotten tired of wading through useless reviews by people more interested in expressing their inner asshole than helping others decide if a place is worth visiting. I’ve removed Yelp from web sites and applications I’ve built and replaced it with Yahoo! Local or other more specific resources. It still has potential as the site moves to new areas, but they need to introduce some reality checks before it becomes a total loss.

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Another day, another flight to Paris

I’m writing this while flying from San Francisco to Paris on Air France. I’ve flown this route several times in the past year, but never with such “flavor”. This trip is only half way over, yet the memorable events just keep piling up.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this flight has been bad. There are no singing nuns, deadly snakes, or poisonous entrees. No, this flight has been filled with those little experiences that make me say to the little gremlin on the wing: “Did that just happen?”

Setting the stage

The flight started off fairly normal. I’ve got a great seat, 32G – a bulkhead aisle seat. The seat next to me is empty and a lady with her toddler sits on the other side of the vacancy. On the other side of the aisle are a couple of elderly women. One of them is frail, the other is quite sprite. Directly behind me is a French couple taking self portraits while strapped into the seats.

The rest of the plane seems to be comprised of inbred American teenagers on at school trip to Paris. No, seriously, they all have this common pie shaped, dough colored look. There is a really ugly set of patriarchs somewhere in California.

Oh, my seat is also a mere 4 feet from the restrooms/self-service area. I’ve got a steady stream of traffic to the right of me.

Hello Mr. open fly

I was treated to several visits from Mr. open fly. We’re not talking simply unzipped. I think this guy thought he was in an adult bookstore and was letting people sample the wares. He paraded up and down the aisles with the fly well open.

It reminded me of a little kid I went to  elementary school with. One day he wore overalls to school with no drawers. He delighted in letting the other kids check the contents of his pockets, hint hint, nudge nudge.

Naturally, I didn’t tell Mr. open fly that the corral was open and the horse was ready to escape. Why spoil such pregnant expectations?

The community television screen

I don’t know how we survived without individual television screens on airplanes. God bless jet blue for introducing the masses to such luxuries. Now we can fly blissfully around the world without having to share the joys of Everyone Loves Raymond with a planeful of idiots that actually think its funny.

No, we now have the ability to watch our own selection of movies, tv shows, and other special visual treats. It’s even possible to spend 9 hours watching movies without seeing Owen Wilson’s stupid nose, a “cutting” sitcom with laugh tracks galore, or the standard educational documentary featuring animals tearing each other to pieces.

No, that’s what the community screens are for. Scattered around the plane are little televisions displaying safety messages, animated stewardesses serving scalding hot coffee, maps of the world with the progress of our plane, and a disturbing collection of entertainment. I hadn’t really noticed these television’s content until this flight.

If it bleeds, it leads

I haven’t been watching the screens consistently. I’ve been trying to watch movies on my little personal slice of video heaven. Once in a while, my eye will be distracted by something twittering on the community screen, which sits about 4 feet away, next to the toddler’s suspended bassinet.

piglets photo on flickr
Piglets photo by ynskjen on Flickr

The first scene that grabbed my attention was a group of playful piglets trying to jump out of their pen. The pens looked like an farm from an old vampire film: dark shadows, low angle, carefully placed detritus, and a sanitary suspense. Ah look at the cute piggies.

Bam, cut to a butcher’s knife chopping through some anonymous chunk of animal corpse. One second cute piglet, next second a farmers market and dinner for some family.

This documentary then cuts to a pleasant Asian women talking to to the camera. There’s no sound, so she could be discussing the future of world peace in Africa, the art of Owen Wilson films, or the joy of slaughtering piglets. Frankly, I am assuming it is the latter. We continue to watch more scenes from Chinese markets as mysterious chunks of creatures are pulled out of woks, women plucking birds, and dogs running around scavenging for snacks and litter mates, sometimes both at the same time.

Keep in mind this is displayed on banks of televisions scattered around the plane. It’s also on some kind of demented loop. I’ve caught this documentary several times.

The broadcast hits keep on rolling

There was one particular stretch of joyous images that occurred during our meal time. Which reminds me of a particular Thanksgiving memory at the Drake house. We were gathered around the table waiting to dive into the feast.

Naturally the television was  on and for some reason it was tuned to a surgery channel instead of the normal Three’s Company marathon. Just as the food was starting to be dished out, a doctor cut open a tumorous organ and a gallon of black bile poured onto the surgical table. Yum, pass the gravy.

So, while I’m diving into my vegetarian in fight meal, the community televisions start displaying a series of bloody images. Tibetans were getting slaughtered, cartoon detectives were shooting bad guys, piglets turned into meat chunks, and the toddler next to me is making his toy ambulance crash into his toy cement mixer. “Would you like some bread with your meal?” You betcha!

The long trip to powder the nose

The frail older lady next to me needed to powder her nose a couple hours ago. This procedure involved several people as we jockeyed positions to make sure she had a clear shot to the bulkhead. Her companion assisted her. Just as she finally gets out of her seat and is heading towards the powder room, passengers from the forward section jump into the toilets and she’s forced to wait for an opening. One of the stewardesses assisted her to the premium lounges. She made it back in good shape and is now sleeping soundly.

And then Little Betty died

Little Betty is the name of my new laptop; a tiny toy of a thing made by Asus. Unfortunately, the battery died mid flight and I wasn’t able to finish documenting this flight. There were several inbred teenagers that liked to hangout at the free sodas in front of my seat. I could describe them for hours. Alas, my post-flight haze is kicking in and they’ll have to escape the brutal knife of my razor sharp wit.

Achile in America!

Hello, my name is ted and I’m a sockaholic.

“…Hi Ted!” The crowd returns.
Yes, it’s true. I have a fetish for socks. It began just around high school years when my friend Peter and I decided we would no longer wear white socks. Nope, those were for normal people. Bring on the challenge of the ugly, the striped, the gender-confused, and the flat-out ridiculous. For years we rummaged through thrift-stores for the rare set of interesting socks.

ted and an ugly pair or red/black socks

Peter specialized in ugly colors and I specialized in ugly patterns. I’ve got sparkly argyle, rainbow striped, socks with toes, socks with santa, mermaids, ghosts, dogs, cats, ostriches, flags, metro maps, the list goes on far too long. My lucky softball socks stretch beyond my knees and have baby blue stripes. I call them my Mia Hamm Lucky Softball Socks and you should see the other team quiver as I pull them up to their full extension. They know a world of hurt is coming their way.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of ugly socks for men. Your lucky to find an ugly pair of argyle or maybe something with a slight striped edge to them. I have huge feet, so I’ve learned through trial and error that I can’t wear too many womens socks. Although I do have a pair of girl scout socks that barely go past my ankles.

Fortunately, my friend Jean-Pierre introduced me to the world of Achile about 7 years ago. This french company creates socks in the same mode as beanie babies. Every three months or so, they release a new gamut of designs. Not only do they satisfy my craving for quirky, they’re downright comfy to boot. Every time I go to Paris, I start with a trip to the Samaritaine or BHV to grab a few pairs. Some people return with wine and cheese. I return with socks and socks.

ted's latest achile sock purchases

Achile in America

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I found a store, Citizen Clothing, in the Castro selling Achile. They had a nice selection and the prices were reasonable, $20. If I hadn’t just returned with new stock I would have gotten a cool pair of puppy socks.

Now, if you can’t get to Paris for your socks, fly on over to San Francisco and check out Citizen Clothing. If that is a bit much, try the new Achile online store. They actually have great prices online and a super selection.