Friday, November 21, 2008

The Second Opinion Today

My good friend Cameron and a few of his buddies in the medical field started a political blog, The Second Opinion Today. As usual, anything I post that smacks of politics will be a link to smarter and more capable people than I in the political arena.

So... what he said.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Misha's Cupcakes

I know. What the heck am I doing blogging about cupcakes?

Well, this weekend was my niece's bridal shower. Family and friends alike all did their part to make this event memorable. My wife and I bought the cake for the event. We bought it at Misha's Cupcakes on US-1 in Coral Gables. The actual cake is pictured above. I didn't attend the bridal shower, but I was told the cake and cupcakes were delicious.
But the yummy cake, unfortunately, is not the focus of my post. I would like to bring your attention to the plastic tier on which it sits.
On the night of the shower, my wife handed me the stand and said, 'Hold on to this. We have to return it to Misha's Cupcakes'. 'Sure', I said. As I was holding it, I rested the base of it ever so lightly against my leg, and the bottom plastic plate cracked and fell off.
The stand is made up of 5 individual plastic parts. The bottom detachable plate, which separates from the other 5 parts, broke off.
Today, we returned the stand to Misha's Cupcakes. Misha's Cupcakes charged us $100.00 for the bottom plastic plate. They were cutting us a break, you see. Originally, they intended to keep my niece's check for deposit, which totaled $150.00.
I was not impressed with their attempt at generosity.
And yes, you heard right. I now own a cheap plastic disk which I purchased for $100.00.
Actually, I don't own it. Misha's Cupcakes keeps the stand, and will now pick out a cheap plastic disk from their storage, add it to the other 4 plastic pieces and... voila! And again, voila!... I am out $100.00.
The word has already gone out through other channels. This is unjust, unfair,and flat out wrong. Actions like this are the reason businesses fail so often in Miami. The customer is expendable, and usually wrong.
A friend of mine already sent an email to Misha's Cupcakes, expressing his displeasure with the whole situation. Misha's Cupcakes responded in typical Miami fashion... tell me if you've heard this before:
"When your order was made we made it clear that there was a $150 deposit for failure to return the tier, or if it was damaged. When the order was picked up, the customer signed the tier rental form stating this, which is an acceptance and agreement to these terms. So, when the tier was broken, the completion of these terms is to forfeit the deposit. There were no surprises, no ugliness, just following through with exactly what was stated would happen if the tier was not returned, or if it was damaged. I am very sorry you feel the need to spread negativity for something that was your own fault. I think more fairly you should take responsibiliity for your own actions. I would never want to lose a reasonable customer, but unfortunately you are not reasonable."
AHHHH! Sorry.
So, I am unreasonable because I think $150.00, and yes even $100.00, is a bit much to pay for a 13" plastic disk. I am also supposed to say, "Well golly, I did sign a rental agreement, so I guess it's fair to pay $100.00 for a plastic disk I can pick up for under $5.00 wholesale (I'm assuming)."

I would be willing to pay for the amount Misha's Cupcakes paid for the plastic disk. That would be fair. $150.00 is a great incentive to make customers bring back the tier, and totally justifiable. But to charge someone $100.00 for a broken piece of plastic is wrong in principle. But we like to wipe our rear ends with principle in Miami, don't we? It's like it's our job.

Miami seems to be a place full of "gotcha!" moments. Go buy a car, "gotcha!" on the price. Go buy a property, "Gotcha!" with misinformation.

Misha's Cupcakes, you got me. Congratulations. I'm sure there was a sense of empowerment there for a moment, along with a warped sense of benevolence that came along with your decision to cut me a break at $100.00. I feel extremely sad for you, especially since I found out this afternoon that you have done this before.

So if you live in Miami, PLEASE TELL ME THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE IN THIS TOWN WITH PRINCIPLES. I'm dying to find out if the idea of good and fair business practices still exist in Miami, because crap like this really makes me wonder who my neighbors are.
Finally, I love that I am now "spreading negativity". I guess I'm supposed to take being ripped off and say "Thaaanks!" on the way out. Amazing.
So I for one will not be going back to Misha's Cupcakes again. And if you go, be careful when you sign that agreement that says you will return and not break a flimsy plastic tier! Treat that baby like gold, or it will be the most expensive piece of plastic you ever bought! Take pictures, and for God's sake, carry the used plastic and already slightly marred and cracked tier as you would a Faberge Egg!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Honesty brings out a lot of demons. No wonder we walk through life faking it. Otherwise, most of us would be a wreck.

It's easier to play a role. You can be a champion today, if you put on the right mask. "Today, I'm going to take on the world, and nothing is going to stop me." and "It's a new day!" and "God loves me when I'm cheerful and doing his work.".


When that doesn't work, there are other roles to play. "I am a victim. The world is against me. Oh well, I (dramatic pause)... guess that's just the way it is...".

Right now, in my full-disclosure role, I'm really struggling. Someone knows most of my shit, and it's not fun. Not fun at all.

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and I welcome the struggle.

Getting honest with yourself isn't about therapy. If it was all about me, then it's just more self-centered garbage. Getting honest is about getting yourself in a position of vulnerability, so you can help others realize they're dealing with a lot of the same stuff you're dealing with, that you know it, and you're calling them out on it.

So, I'm struggling today. Um, nothing else to say but that. A reminder for me the next time I visit my blog again... you know... when I'm not struggling because I'm faking it again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Beware of Christianity

I've made a deal with a dear friend of mine, and have entered into full disclosure with him. This means that we both decided it was time for us to cut through the BS and be honest with someone else about everything; our fears, sins past and present and likely future, and everything in between.

I'm not sure what this is called in psycho-babble, but in our Christian faith it is called confession. Now it's one thing to do this with a God you think may be there, but you can't see his face; or if you're a Catholic, behind a veiled wall to a priest who can't see who you are. Both of these are a good start. But it's another thing altogether when you have to look someone in the eye and tell them everything.

I thought it would be liberating, because that's the impression you get. We've all heard the term 'get it off your chest'.

It seems, however, that God does not let us off that easy.

Confession means to be honest about who you are. Not just about a lie you said last Saturday that your wife caught you in, but every lie not caught as well. Confession and full disclosure is good, not because it is 'liberating', though it can be. Confession and full disclosure with another brother or sister, in confidence and face to face, is good because it is part of repentance.

My blog is about cigars, rum and grace. But grace without honesty just doesn't happen. We can talk about, write some really heady stuff about it. But without honesty, you can't really start grasping the essence of grace.

Christianity is dangerous, but not because of it's zealous throngs carrying the label on their t-shirts and signs. Christianity is dangerous because it is the only world-view that forces us to honestly address the fact that, as Rich Mullins put it, 'we are not as strong as we think we are'.