When driving in the car, the goal is to minimize the impact of any stops. Usually this means charting the quickest route to obtain one or more of the following:
On this particular trip, we needed all three. There was a gas station just off the road at the next exit, so we decided to grab that while we could. The plan was Sara and Ollie would use the bathroom while I pumped gas and then we’d find a place for Sara to get us coffee, where Evie and I would use the bathroom.
The best laid plans of mice and men.
5 out of 6 pumps at the gas station were full, and the 6th was broken. I circled around for a little while before parking off to the side waiting for one of the pumps to open up. Waited, and waited, and waited. Nobody seemed to be moving, or pumping gas for that matter. Just as I was starting to get annoyed, Sara and Oliver came back from the bathroom.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“The line is six deep for the woman’s bathroom,” replied Sara.
We sat and waited for a bit, but still no pumps were opening, and all the while the clock was ticking.
“Everybody’s waiting for someone in the bathroom,” said Sara.
“Why don’t they pull away from the pumps? Can’t they wait off to the side?”
“I don’t know.”
One of the cars was parked about 3 feet in front of the pump; not close enough to actually pump gas, but too close for me to get my car up there. He was just sitting there, his car running.
“Go ask that guy to pull forward a little bit,” I said.
Sara walked over to the car, Ollie in tow.
“Excuse me sir, can you pull forward a little bit?” asked Sara.
“Of course I can ma’am,” he said politely. He was like 100 years old.
Just at that minute another man comes running out of the gas station. “What are you doing, Dad? Don’t let them take your pump!” He shot Sara a dirty look. “I was just inside paying for gas on that pump!”
“Oh, sorry!” said Sara. “I didn’t know you were using it.”
From where I was sitting in the car I could see the man muttering to himself about what an idiot Sara was and giving her dirty looks. Now look, they weren’t even parked at the pump. How was Sara supposed to know what was going on? Did Sara, holding the hand of a 3 year old, really look like she was trying to steal the pump from this old guy? And if the old guy driving is not competent enough to say, “Actually, my son’s inside paying for this pump right now,” then is he really competent enough to be driving?
And STILL nobody had left a pump.
“My wife’s just inside going to the bathroom,” said the man at the next pump.
“There’s about 6 people waiting in line for the bathroom,” replied Sara.
“Eh,” shrugged the man, continuing to just stand there gazing off at the station.
Sara walked helplessly back and forth until FINALLY someone got the message and pulled over to the side so we could get to the pump. Then Sara pumped the gas so I could take Ollie in to the no-wait men’s room.
What’s the deal? Why not pull off to the side when you’re done pumping gas?
Of course I’ve sat at the pump while I ran inside. Honestly, most of the time I don’t. On the other hand, there are usually 15 open pumps. If I were occupying a pump when a gas station was that full, I would have so much anxiety about it that I just couldn’t stand it. I physically would not be able to force myself to be still. I would be checking my watch, twitching in my seat, checking the door for Sara, checking my watch again, pretending to get more gas, whatever I could do to pretend there was some reason I couldn’t move my car. These people? Cool as cucumbers, absolutely guilt and anxiety free. Who did I think I was, that I couldn’t wait for them? How dare I expect them to move a muscle, just because I wanted gas? They paid for that gas, they own that pump for as long as they want to use it.
Isn’t there anybody left in the world who cares even the slightest amount about anybody else besides themselves?
Aren’t computers the worst?
As we have become more and more reliant on them, and as they have sort of wormed their way into all sorts of important business functions, they have become infallible gods, whose word is law.
Maybe it’s because I write computer programs every day, so I know how prone they are to error (at least the ones I write! ). But then again, doesn’t everybody have experience with crappy computer programs (I mean, come on, the vast majority of us use Windows, right?)
The other day I got a letter from a collection agency. This is not something I see every day, and it caused me quite a bit of panic. It turns out the charge was only $10, but I was still imagining legal action and destroyed credit.
The thing I couldn’t figure out was, how did I not pay this bill? It was from the doctor’s office, and we’ve obviously paid many bills before and after. How could they not get ahold of us in their “repeated attempts”, when every other bill is fine. My wife WORKS there, and they couldn’t get ahold of us?
Something seemed fishy. For all I know, this company is scamming me for $10! That made more sense to me than there was one bill that they couldn’t get ahold of me for, while we are meanwhile paying all these other bills.
So the first thing I did was call the hospital. I spoke to 2 different billing divisions, and they both agreed I had no balance. Ah ha! Gotcha! So I called the collection agency back. (several times in fact, since their “computer system was down” and they would “call me back later” which they never did) Finally, they verified that it was one of the two billing departments I had spoken to previously.
Me: “But I already spoke to them, and they said I didn’t owe anything.”
Lady: “Well, if that’s the case, then they can email us and we will close the account.”
::sigh:: Very well.
I called the number she gave me and spoke to the same department I spoke to before.
Billing person: “Yes, you do have an outstanding balance, but it’s not with us, it’s with the other billing department.”
Me: “I just got off the phone with the collection agency, and they said it was you. They gave me this number.”
Billing person: “Well I just got off the phone with them and they said it’s the other department.”
Oookay, so I called the original billing office back:
Billing person: “Yes, you do have an outstanding $40 balance”
Me: “…but the collection agency is saying I only owe $10.”
Billing person: “Well, they should be telling you you owe $40.”
Okay, so now my head is starting to spin. First I didn’t owe anything, now suddenly I do. First I owed $10, now I owe $40. And why doesn’t anybody know who I’m supposed to owe money to??
But, of course, nobody knows nothing. It’s just in the computer that way, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Eventually we figured out that my guarantor (billing) address was incorrect (because I asked them to check, not because they suggested it). At some point the patient address had been changed, but the guarantor address had not been updated in the computer. Since Sara is the guarantor for herself and the kids and her guarantor address is correct, all of the other bills had been sent to the right location.
Now here’s the thing. If we can’t question the almighty computer because it is all-knowing and all-wise, then how come it wasn’t smart enough to get ahold of me. Supposedly, they’re trying and trying, doing anything they can to get ahold of me. And yet they never tried the other address they have for me? They never used the phone number? They never looked at the address for my spouse or children? Hit me up for the money when I called to pay a different bill? They never WALKED DOWN THE HALL to where my wife was working? Nope, collection agency.
VERY WELL. We have the root problem identified and fixed, so let me just pay up and be done with it.
Well, the hospital told me to pay the collection agency, but the collection agency couldn’t find any record of the other $30 the hospital said I owed. So then I had to pay $10 to the collection agency and $30 to the hospital.
I wanted confirmations of all of these payments, especially from the hospital, so I didn’t somehow end up double paying when the collection agency finally turned up the bill for the other $30 that they couldn’t find. But when I get the confirmation email from the hospital, MY BILLING ADDRESS IS WRONG.
Back on the phone with them and the lady says, “Ha ha, I can see the address is in there, but she didn’t actually switch it over yet. Maybe she was going to do that later, but I can just do it now.”
I find absolutely nothing funny about this.
If it takes 2 seconds to do, and she could do it while I was on the phone, why didn’t the first lady just do it, instead of saving it for later? And why in the world would I have any faith that it is going to work the second time?
And by the way, the original (wrong) billing address had a typo in the street name to begin with, so even the wrong address was wrong.
So none of this is my fault, of course (nor is it apparently the fault of anybody I spoke to on the phone), but I have to be the one to do all the work to resolve it. Everybody just shrugs and says, “Sorry sir, computer mistake. Nothing we can do about it.” All’s well that ends well, I suppose, and they assured me that this won’t affect my credit. But isn’t it up to the person who wants my money to shoulder some of this burden? Or the collection agency? Or somebody besides me? ANYBODY besides me??
Hello everybody. Today we’re breaking history here at the blog: I don’t believe we’ve ever had a guest blogger! So today’s post is brought to you by my lovely wife. Don’t be fooled, she has an ax to grind…
Dear Chicago Public Library,
You stink. Not literally (maybe sometimes, or at some locations, or some patrons) but your employees certainly have trouble doing simple tasks. Well, one particular task—checking in books left in the book deposit. You would think I would have learned from the first, second, third, or fourth times you messed up. Apparently, I am a bit dense. I have no idea if this is a system-wide problem, but I suspect as much, since it has happened multiple times to me and others at my two local branches (Blackstone and Coleman FWIW). I have paid all the previous fines until now. I think they were all $.20 or $.10 (prior to the fine increase), except one that was $2.40.
I can understand a book may slip out of the collecting bucket and you find it the next day so it is one day late (although, you would think any books this happens to would be checked in with no fine, since it was your fault it was missed and you don’t know how long it was lying in a dark corner of the deposit box…There was also the time when the person on the register managed to check out a book to me instead of checking it in but I digress…).
The $2.40 was the last straw. I promised myself that I would always return books at the register. This wasn’t a problem when you opened at 9am every day or when I was home every day on maternity leave. It was less of a problem when I had a car.
So after a year or so of waiting every time at the register for my checked-in receipt, I even foolishly began to trust that when books were returned inside (just left in a stack beside the register because you don’t see fit to provide an internal book deposit), they would actually be checked in, so I stopped wasting paper and my time and just left them there.
Although my memory for this is understandably less detailed, I have had the occasional late book or DVD and certainly respect the system enough to pay my fine. And if my daughter rips a book to pieces during her “relaxing time,” I have no problem paying for a replacement either.
However, this last mistake has driven me over the edge.
One day, I get an email that I have a book overdue. I had recently returned >20 books (to the dropbox, since the library doesn’t open before noon anymore on Mondays). I checked my account and found that I had one book listed as returned overdue by 3 weeks with a $4.80 fine (Hat Heads) and two books (Babar and Charlotte in Paris) listed as 3 weeks overdue and not checked in. (Sidenote–Why would you set up a system where it emails someone about the books three weeks after they are due instead of the first day they overdue? Why bother with the email at that point?) I did some research online and deduced that Hat Heads was checked out to another patron the day it was marked as checked in for me. Obviously the book had been reshelved and not entered into the system until someone tried to check it out (which somehow doesn’t trigger an automatic erasure of the fine). So, I called you, and spoke to the librarian…who absolutely refused to believe me!
I can understand some initial skepticism. People lie. No one likes to pay money. Library users are probably especially against spending money—they’re either poor or frugal, that’s why they’re at the library in the first place. However, two times I have checked out books only to find the system shows that the book was never checked in from the previous patron, so, I am obviously not the only person this has happened to. If you are a public librarian, you are in the business of customer service, whether you like it or not.
Okay, so she didn’t believe me about Hat Heads. I still had two other books on the list to tackle. When I looked at my account again, the status of Charlotte in Paris had suddenly changed to being checked in late with a fine of $4.80 and CHECKED BACK OUT TO ME!
In the meantime, however, the librarian went to check for Babar on the shelf. Of course, she swore to me that it wouldn’t be there since it was from another branch and EVEN IF it had been brought back, it would have been shipped to the other branch and put back on the shelf there. Well, yes if it had been checked in, I am sure that would be the case. Since it was never checked back in, she of course found it on the shelf.
Now, she was very apologetic about it, but only for that specific book. She refused to believe that if one book was missed, it was also likely that the two others were missed as well. Forget that this has happened multiple times to me before, and also at least twice to books that I have checked out.
Finally, she said that the library powers-that-be required documentation for her to do anything about it. She asked if I had the paper slip from when they were checked out showing the due date as that could be used for documentation. I don’t keep those things. I don’t need any more clutter in my house! And why would a slip showing when it was due support that I had actually returned it? I explained that I always renew things online since I don’t make it to the library as often as I would like. When she asked if I had taken a SCREENSHOT showing the due dates, I actually managed to laugh through my tears of frustration.
I’m sorry but I do not take screenshots of the library web page every time I renew a book and save it to a file on the computer. I don’t think someone with that much OCD has time to read books anyway. And even if I did, I can’t figure out what it would do to support my claim that I returned the books.
Around this point, she noticed that Charlotte in Paris had magically been checked in and checked back out while I was on the phone with her. She broke down and agreed to fix everything. I’m not sure why she had a change of heart. Maybe after 35 minutes of listening to an increasingly frustrated person while she is pumping at work with people banging on her closed door because there are two add-on patients for her to see, she realized that no person would put herself through that if she were lying.
Anyway, the fines were removed. Babar was marked as returned on time. However, the magical self-checking-in-checking-back-out book couldn’t be checked back in since it was from another library and must be on the truck to that library right now (because, you know, nothing could go wrong with the system). The other library would have to check it in when it was received. I was told to call back in a week if it was still not checked in.
Today, after waiting 15 days without it being checked in, I finally called. After being forced to call back once and then refusing to call back the second time, I was finally transferred to the same librarian who helped me before.
At least I didn’t have to explain too much of the story before she remembered me. She reluctantly went to look for Charlotte in Paris on the shelf, and lo-and-behold it had MAGICALLY APPEARED! All three books, all showing up where I said they’d be, completely unrelated to each other, each one a surprise.
The librarian was very apologetic. I appreciate this, but you can’t really apologize enough for me to feel better about the whole debacle. It certainly caused a difficult day at work and gave me a lot of angst over the past couple weeks.
Other than making sure I return books and get a receipt, I am not sure what I can do about the problem. If it ever happens again that I check out a book that hasn’t been checked in, I will be sure to talk to the librarian about it immediately because I would sure love to save someone the trouble I have gone through. I still don’t know why this doesn’t trigger an automatic removal of the fine.
Chicago Public Library, please figure out how to improve your system. I know that you are a huge library, but between myself and my husband, we have never had a book not checked-in correctly at Kent District Library, Allen County Public Library, Tippecanoe County Public Library, Greensboro Public Library, Montgomery County – Norristown Library, or Radnor Memorial Library.
Your continuing patron (yes, I have been back during this ordeal),
The American culture of disposable materialism seems worse every single day. It’s probably been getting worse every day more or less since the country was founded. So it’s not surprising that the older generation (of which, for the sake of this post, I apparently am a member of) would always see this going on and be disgusted by it. So I think it is safe to say that I am not the first parent to see this going on and object to it. Especially since people, as a rule, probably object to materialism in themselves very rarely. So it’s more when you see it happening to your kids that you notice it. After all, I want nice, shiny, new stuff as much as the next guy.
So all that being said, ho-ly crap! (and I mean crap in the “tons-of-stuff-we-don’t-really-need” sense of the word) If Evie continues to accumulate stuff at the same rate that she has thus far in her life, she will need a separate house to contain it all. And lets not kid ourselves, she’s not going to continue at this rate, she’s going to double it. Triple it. After all, she’s not even old enough to really want anything yet.
Evie just started preschool. I remember when I started kindergarten. There were two things that were particularly awesome to play with at my kindergarten: a parachute, and a set of giant cardboard blocks that looked like bricks. These toys were so great that you could get a fist fight or two, just by mentioning them. I wanted to play with those bricks so bad, I was willing to bleed.
Evie has both of these for her own personal use, a parachute and a set of blocks like that. Evie has her own slide.
That was part of what made school cool to me at that age. They had the toys that no individual person could possibly own. Now there is no such toy. In fact, kids today are probably like, “Why does school have all these lame, really old toys? They don’t even talk.”
In all of the time we’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie books, I am always struck with how little personal possessions they had, and how happy they were. I understand this is a fictional account, but I can’t help but feel that it was a better time. Laura Ingalls had more love and appreciation and happiness out of a little rag doll than most kids do out of an entire mountain of toys.
How can I inspire that kind of appreciation in my kids? How can I fight an entire culture?
Sara and I try to do what we can. And of course by that I mean that we bought her said slide, parachute and set of blocks. Because the problem is, we want her to be happy, and buying her things is such an easy way to accomplish that. In the short term. And don’t think I’m letting myself off easy for my role in all of this either.
The real question is, what the heck are we going to buy Oliver? Before he was even born, he was set to inherit all the toys, clothes, books, etc. that he could ever need. Not to mention all of his own random stuff he’s going to accumulate through life. We can’t not buy him presents for Christmas or something. But I honestly don’t want to. He doesn’t need any more stuff. Neither of them do.
I hate not having a choice about this.
In a continuing saga here on the blog, I received yet another notice from AT&T attempting to verify that I ordered Cinemax (which, of course, I didn’t). I am just about at the end of my rope with them. I mean, with all of the trouble I’ve had, they supposedly put copious notes on my file saying they should block any movies, channels, etc. that are ordered. I’ve supposedly locked it out on the box so it can’t be ordered there and, lest we forget, it is literally impossible for the box to malfunction. Now, all of the people I have talked to since the original person have been extremely helpful and nice. But I still have to wait on hold for 15 minutes to even talk to someone. And the last two times I’ve called the person wasn’t sure if you had to lock out the pay-per-view and channels on just the main remote or on both remotes. Well, if any of you AT&T people out there are reading this, you have to do it on both remotes. And furthermore, it is actually more important that you do it on the secondary remote if that is the one using an RF transmitter!
It appears that what was happening was this: one of my neighbors has the same satellite receiver and their remote was controlling my box. See, there is only one box in the house. The upstairs remote works through IR like a regular remote, i.e. you have to point it at the box. But the one downstairs has to travel through walls and floors, so it works using radio waves. So, if someone else is using an RF remote and they are close enough to you and they have theirs set on the same frequency as yours, they will control your box right along with their box (and vice versa). I am fairly certain this was what was happening because 1) it makes a lot of sense and could explain why all of these mysterious charges were showing up, some of which happened while we were out of town, and 2) when I started messing with the remote to fix this problem, someone (else) started furiously changing the channel.
Now if you go back to my original post, you will astutely notice that was my first suggestion to the supervisor as a possibility, and it was quickly dismissed. It must be a pretty common problem if even I had heard about it! So when the current technician suggested it, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. I said, “I suggested that as a possibility, but I was told that was impossible.” He shrugged. ”It is common enough that they tell us about it in the training course,” he said.
GRRRRR I am so mad at them. It makes sense to me that this could have been the root of my problems, so hopefully this is no longer an issue. But HOW DARE the supervisor insist that this couldn’t possibly have happened when it looks like it is EXACTLY what happened. I have half a mind to call them back and see if they can look in my file and find the name of the original supervisor I spoke to, and then file a complaint against that person. ”Sure, if you don’t mind wasting your time.” said Sara. And that is why I’m really so mad, because I’m so powerless against them. My complaint wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans, especially since that supervisor was clearly doing what she was trained to do. And it is not really worth canceling their otherwise superior product over this one (albeit long running) issue.
So I’m sunk. But AT&T better never meet me in a dark alley…
Why is the customer service of a company inversely proportional to the size of the company?
I had a call with AT&T that made me so furious today that my hands were literally shaking with anger.
We got our bill and we had a $40 pay-per-view charge for WWE Summer Smackdown or something like that (our dish network is through AT&T). Now obviously we didn’t order this so I wanted it taken off the bill, but I just *knew* it was going to be a hassle. So I called today and waited on the phone for literally 30 minutes before talking to anybody. When I finally did get through to someone of course I had to be transferred. Then, of course, my call was dropped. (Ironic for a phone company?) Now all of this is just what I expected so far, which is a shame in and of itself. But I honestly thought if I slogged through all this nonsense, they would just reverse the charges and that would be that. It didn’t get bad until I called back.
Luckily I had gotten the direct number of the division I needed to talk to so I was able to call back later. When I finally got through to someone and explained what happened, she got really rude. She told me that pay-per-view was non-refundable and there was nothing she could do. I was irked, but I immediately asked for a supervisor. I have been literally told in the past by other supervisors at other large companies that you will only reach a supervisor if you ask and they are the only ones who can do anything.
The supervisor was 10 times ruder than the regular person. I told her I wanted the charge removed and she said it couldn’t be done. She said that it showed the pay-per-view was ordered from our remote so the only possibility was that someone in my house ordered it, so therefore they wouldn’t waive the charges. I told her that perhaps there was a hardware malfunction. She said that was impossible. Impossible! She said that these units had been tested “thousands of times” and the only possibility was that we ordered it. I told her maybe the neighbor has the same remote code. I said maybe I dropped the remote and it fell in such a way that the proper buttons had been pressed. She just kept saying, nope, impossible. I or someone in my house had ordered it. I asked her if she was calling me a liar to my face? She said no she wasn’t, but it is impossible (Impossible!) for the hardware to malfunction and someone in my house ordered it, which is totally different than calling me a liar.
Now, I don’t know what happened. Maybe Evie did it by accident. Maybe Sara snuck out under the cover of darkness to watch some WWE Smackdown after I was in bed. Maybe someone broke into our house and ordered it. I don’t know. But neither does she and the fact that she kept insisting that it was *impossible* that anything happened other than that I ordered it.
So finally she agreed to reverse the charges. In order to “punish” me she informed me I would lose my ability to receive pay-per-view programming. This was quite excellent since it was my next order of business! However, it quickly went downhill from there. Here is a rough estimate of our conversation:
“I will reverse this charge ONE TIME but after that if you have any more we will not reverse the charges! So if you have any at home you have already ordered you will be charged and we won’t reverse it.”
“No. Cancel any charges now, cancel pay-per-view and cancel any charges in the future. I don’t want any pay-per-view.”
“I will reverse this charge ONE TIME but after that if you have any more we will not reverse the charges! So if you have any at home you have already ordered you will be charged and we won’t reverse it.”
“I don’t agree to that. I don’t know if my equipment is malfunctioning or what, but if there are any more pay-per-view things I don’t want them!”
“I can’t tell if you have any more, but I’m just letting you know that if there are any more charges, we won’t reverse them.”
“I don’t agree to that! Cancel everything!”
“I can’t cancel any you’ve already ordered. We won’t reverse any charges in the future!”
“I don’t agree! If I get charged I’m calling back!”
“But we won’t reverse the charges!”
“I don’t agree! I know this is being taped! I want it on record that I don’t agree to that!”
“This is the only time we will reverse the charges!”
“I don’t AGREE! Make a note on my file that I don’t want any more!”
“Too bad, we won’t reverse it!”
“I DON’T AGREE TO THAT!! I DO NOT AGREE TO THAT!!”
And honestly, no joke, that wasn’t even the end of it. Yes, I admit, I was hysterical. I realize that makes me sound like a psychopath, so I’m counting on the readers of this blog to know that I am a reasonable, even-keeled person. She did eventually reverse the charges, but she made it clear she was only doing it because I was such a pain. Fine, I as a pain. That’s part of the worst thing about it, that I had to be a pain to get my charges reversed. It is the only way to accomplish anything with companies like that. I pay them how much per month and they make me scream at them to remove a $40 one time charge. That is ridiculous! To be treated like that…despicable. Reading the text really doesn’t do it justice.
And that is really the worst part. I could cancel my service, but I’ve had just as bad service with everybody else; Comcast, Verizon, ComEd…all of them. This is just the way these companies work. And there’s just nothing I can do about it. I could cancel and go with another just as bad company. I could call and complain to someone but they wouldn’t care. I’ve read enough exposes to know that they are told to act like that, to be aggressive to get people to pay the charges. Everything in their system is designed to force me to give up. And if I canceled my service, what do they care? One less customer, boo hoo. And what else can I do? Write my congress man? Write a blog post?
Okay, I guess I’ll do that, but it sure doesn’t make me feel any better.
I just have to weigh in on the whole VTech massacre because there are a few things that are really bothering me.
First off, there are a lot of angry people asking why the school wasn’t shut down after the first shooting. I call baloney sauce on that because if what I’m hearing is correct, the first part was simply a murder. Jilted lover kills his ex-girlfriend and the counselor. There are murders like this every day all over the country and the fact is we don’t shut anything down when they happen. We do police work over the course of weeks and eventually find the killer. There was no way to know what was going to happen next and I do not fault anyone for not expecting the second part after the first part.
In fact, the two incidents were so different, I’m not 100% sure that they are even connected or done by the same person.
My second compliant is in regards to the video captured on the cell phone of the cops outside the building. You can hear shots being fired inside the building and then eventually the cops go in. Now I watch that video and I say to myself, “Wow, these guys are heroes. They hardly pause before rushing into a building containing an unknown number of people firing unknown weapons, into which may or may not be an ambush booby trapped with explosives, etc.” This goes against all training not to mention common sense. Keep in mind these are not trained soldiers, they are police in a small Virginia town. I would be surprised if most of them have ever encountered someone pointing a gun at them. Now apparently, other people see that same video and start yelling that the cops didn’t rush the building faster. Talk about armchair quarterbacking! I’m sure those reporters would have run right in there and confronted the gunman (or men) with no information about what was going on, right?
I even heard one reporter say that if he was in one of the classrooms and he knew he was going to die, he would have rushed the gunman. Pretty easy to say that from the comfort of a press room!
I know that after a tragedy we all want someone to put the blame on. It is never sufficient to put the blame on the person who is actually responsible because that person usually ends up dead. So in this case it looks like the blame will be placed on the University for not locking down sooner and the police for not rushing in faster. It would be a shame if someone lost their job over this. When you are making split decisions in the face of a crisis, the last thing you need to be worried about is how people are going to comb through this mess later and find something to criticize you about.
The fact is, someone can’t be responsible to protect everyone everywhere every second of the day and sometimes bad things happen.
That is all.
I’m always looking for this link to the map of who in this country says “pop” and who says “soda.” Nice to be back where people say pop like you’re supposed to!
Okay, so the topic of today’s rant is….the Neilson ratings. I bet you didn’t expect me to say that! Okay, so this has really been bothering me lately. I understand how the system evolved in the first place. Originally they sent out like paper surveys to people asking what they watched. Obviously this was a huge pain (and expensive) so they could only do it a few times per year. Consequently, the networks were inclined to roll out special programming when they knew this special “grading” was going on. In the modern age, this concept has evolved to the point of having two “mini-seasons” (ala LOST) where you actually have a “fall finale” before taking a break until the next sweeps period.
But explain to me how this outdated system is still relevant? Now with technology like digital cable boxes and TiVo, as well as the ease of Internet and phone surveys, ratings are tracked every day of the week. Also, with the lazification (that’s right, I just coined the phrase lazification) of America, off-peak times (such as summer or Christmas) don’t have as few viewers relatively as they once had. This is increasingly true now that I can TiVo things and save them for when I don’t want to be doing something else. So basically, there is no reason to only show special programming during sweeps.
Now I’m no network programming specialist, so there must be something more to it that I’m not understanding. Surely there is some aspiring young network exec that realizes if they play a show straight through and all the other networks go on vacation for 2 months, they will basically be the only game in town garnering them huge ratings. I would assume this would also translate into larger viewer ship for sweeps since you will have hooked viewers when there was nothing else on and now they will continue to watch even when there are other choices. At the very least, you think they would choose to show new programming rather than repeats (some people actually do this, particularly on cable) choosing to debut new shows between sweeps periods so there will be less competition for the viewing audience. But why doesn’t everybody do this? It seems to me that the most effective way to program a time slot would be six months of new episodes of one show followed by six months of new episodes of another show.
I understand that originally there may have been a dearth of ideas for shows or quality stars and writers to have that many new shows, forcing networks to limit the number of shows. Now with the number of people trying to get on T.V., I doubt this is much of a problem. In fact, it might be helpful to give more shows a chance instead of infinitely reproducing the same show endlessly. (Side note: Part of this would be maybe not canceling shows immediately and maybe giving them some time to develop into good shows…it’s a chicken or the egg type of problem but is this rapid cycling of T.V. shows caused by Americans’ attention-deficit-i-want-an-oompa-loompa-now-daddy attitude or is it helping to cause Americans’ attention-deficit-i-want-an-oompa-loompa-now-daddy attitude? And if shows knew they had a long term commitment by a network with less pressure for immediate results, what might storylines be like?) Especially with the improved technology these days for quick turn-around time and the amount of money you are talking about for a big time show, it would be pretty easy to film well in advance of the episodes you are showing allowing the staff plenty of time for vacation and recuperation. In that case why not have year long seasons? Don’t soap operas already do this?
Anyway, all of this ranting is for naught since it is clear that we are on the cusp of a total revolution of the system. Its pretty obvious at this point that we are quickly moving to a time when technology makes it easy for any independent to have movie quality equipment and editing studios which create entries for some On Demand data base where calculating viewer ship is automatic based on number of downloads. And I, for one, welcome our new Comcast overlords!
I forgot to say that I gave up pop for lent. It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve given anything up for lent. I’m extremely not religious, so obviously this is a throw-back to my youth. It is appealing to me to give something up for lent, for two reasons:
1) Because it’s a good test of willpower which is good for anybody
2) Through no fault of my own, I was lucky enough to be born in the best nation in the world. Through no work on my part I was brought up with a roof over my head and food on the table. Where most of the people in the U.S. are deciding whether to have Micky D’s or Wendy’s on a Friday night, the vast majority of the people in the rest of the world are deciding if they should eat a frog or dirt. So it’s appealing to me to pay my respects to the less fortunate and do without a little something. Believe me, it is the very VERY least I can do.
That being said, it is KILLING ME to not have pop.
That is all.
First off, I listen to sports radio so that I DON’T have to listen to politics.
So it appears that the Republicans and Democrats have begun working hard to somehow use the human misery that resulted from the hurricane to their best advantage. Is there anything on earth more despicable than that? In this case it was Democrats somehow using the tragedy to attack George W. for Iraq. Later it will be Republicans using their response to the hurricane to make themselves look better.
Whatever your political views, using another person’s suffering to further your own interests is a low down and despicable act that proves you have no integrity or soul.
Packed up all my books and movies and the dvd player and vcr, put the other shelf and the two back’s on the shelves (36 nails!), cleaned Nala’s litter, watered the plants, got ahold of Nathan, Jay and Josh, emailed the pianist, ordered Lion King tickets, paid 2 bills, and activated my credit card. Oh, and I watched Superstar USA. It was FANTASTIC. Everything I hoped it would be. Ticketmaster is the worst. This is what I put in the survey they asked me to fill out:
Ticketmaster is the biggest bunch of pirates in the history of pirates (which goes back quite a ways). I try to avoid buying from them whenever possible, because their service charges are the biggest rip off there ever was. Unfortunately, they hold the ticket industry in an iron fisted monopoly. Charging $1.75 for the privilege to be able to PRINT OFF AN EMAIL rather than pay $20 to have my tickets shipped is highway robbery and should be illegal. I wish someone would prosecute.
I probably owe a couple of updates about going to NC last weekend, but I still have some more stuff to do tonight!
My throat hurts lots tonight.
But, I did go to class and get my taxes ready to mail tomorrow and narrow it down to 6 apartments to go look at. I’m going to print off the directions tomorrow at work in case I have time on Saturday to look.
I was upset at work today when everybody was railing on me for not eating meat on Friday. I tried to explain to them that it has nothing to do with going to hell, but they didn’t want to listen, just to make fun. Ignorant.
Through no fault of my own, I was lucky enough to be born in the best nation in the world. Through no work on my part I was brought up with a roof over my head and food on the table. Though we were poor by U.S. standards, we lived like kings compared to most 3rd world countries. Where most of the people in the U.S. are deciding whether to have Micky D’s or Wendy’s on a Friday night, most of the people in the rest of the world are deciding if they should eat a frog or dirt. Is it so wrong to show them respect, and to show some thanks to God that I lucked out like I did to be born here? So I fast and I don’t eat meat, despite the fact that I’m not what you would call a “Good Catholic.” In fact, I’m a downright bad Catholic, but at least I think for myself. Anyway, if I was a better person, I would take the money I didn’t spend on food and save it in a rice bowl and donate it to the poor at the end of Lent, like we did back home. Could I do it some other day besides Friday? Of course I could, however, Friday is a really hard day to not eat meat because it is the 1 day of the week I am most likely to go out to eat. If I decided just to do it a different day because Friday was tough, that would kind of defeat the purpose of self sacrifice. The first thing people say (in their condescending way of course) is, “If not eating meat is so great then why don’t you do it all the time?” The answer? If I was a better person, I would. I would eat rice every day and take all of my money and give it to the poor. It’s a shame that I’m not a better person, however, why would you mock my effort, pitiful though it is?
I’ve had this damn song in my head ever since last Thursday.
Okay, so let’s go chronologically. Went yesterday and helped sand and paint Dawna and Jeff’s living room. It went really fast and I had a pretty good time. I wish I had a house to work on. :/ I can’t wait.
After that we had our big “drink night” but I didn’t feel very good before the drinking even started, so I didn’t drink that much. Nobody got really smashed except their neighbor’s daughter Kelly, which was kind of strange because nobody even knew her. I was going to sleep over there (because I was planning on drinking lots) but I ended up going home around 1:30 since I stopped drinking around 11:30. We had such big plans for drinking, but I’m thinking maybe my best drinking days are behind me!
Saturday was a milestone though, because it was the ceremonial first day of my sandles! The left one has fallen a little bit into disrepair, but the super glue on the right one has held up really well, so I think I need to get some for the left one.
This morning I was in no hurry to get up and get ready so I was just lazing around until like noon. Then I finally was just getting ready to get to work on my paper and Dawna calls and asks me if I want to go play in the park and celebrate the nice weather. I was just about to say “no” when she said the magic word…”frisbee”. Frisbee is like homework kryptonyte! So I got to wear the sandles again AND play frisbee for the first time of the season.
Talked to my best friend today who got picked up for his second D.U.I. on Friday. This time he was in Huntington County which is aparently very tough on drunk driving because the head judge’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver. To make a long story short, it sounds like he’s going to get 45 days in jail, lose his lisense and maybe some community service, maybe even Anibuse. He knows that he deserves some punishment but he’s trying to get his jail time commuted in exchange for something else (maybe house arrest) so that he doesn’t lose his job, which he loves. The bad news is, it’s only 32 days until the bachelor party that he’s supposed to be throwing for me. What a party it will be if the best man’s in jail. He’s said a few times that he knows he has a problem and he needs help, but we’ll see if it actually changes anything. He had to go to alcohol class last time and that obviously didn’t help anything. I’m almost hoping that he does have to do a decent stretch in jail, maybe it will wake him up.
I tried to talk about this whole thing with Sara and she didn’t want to talk about it because she doesn’t really like Schafer. I was pretty upset about that because this is a pretty huge deal in my life and I tried to turn to her and talk about it (since she’s going to be my wife and all) and she didn’t want to hear about it. I just think that’s really rude because here I am trying to come to the one person I should always be able to come to and she can’t even just listen to me because her “distaste” for the subject was too much. I know that she’s not a big fan of the things Chris does, but neither am I. She’s only known him for 3 years so she only knows the bad side of him, but I’ve known him for about 20 of my 24 years. As far as I’m concerned he’s like a brother to me. (I’ve known him *almost* as long as my real brother) If your brother makes some bad decisions, you don’t just give up on him. You stick by him and hope he turns things around. I called her back and told her these things. I was just feeling so frustrated with the whole Chris thing and then she didn’t want to hear about it…if I was at home I would have cried, but since I was in the car outside my friend’s house I managed to choke it back. I haven’t talked to her since, but she thinks I’m avoiding her because she IMed me and I wasn’t here so obviously I didn’t answer back. I’m not avoiding her, I just didn’t get home until late. I’ll have to straighten that out tomorrow.
After that we went back to my apartment, but Dawna and Jeff still had a bunch of food and pop left from yesterday and I said that it’s too bad we weren’t there because I didn’t have anything for them…so then they convinced me to bring my laptop over to their place and work on my paper there. Sounded like a bad idea, but I actually managed to get it done.
Left there at like 8:20 to make it over to John and Melissa’s before Sopranos started. I ended up staying there and talking for another hour and 20 minutes after Sopranos got done. I’m very sad that they are leaving on Wed. to move into their new house in Jersey. I miss them already.
All in all, very busy weekend and I didn’t get to play the guitar as much as I’d like. I’m really wanting to get back into it some more…I’ve only played a handfull of times since Christmas.
Time for bed.
Almost every day something happens that makes me hate Americans. Today it’s this show i’m watching on MTV right now about people who get plastic surgery to look like famous people and how they think that its going to change their life somehow. This one girl is a britney spears impersonator, like professionally, and she’s all like “yeah, once i get my breasts then i know that its going to change my life.” How in the hell is that going to change your life?? The sad thing is that these people really believe this.
I’m so sick of reading about SEI CMM. Normally all the work I’ve done over the weekend would be spread out over 5 weeks, but my slave driver group member wants it all done in the 2nd week. I’m done for now, at least until this weekend. Working on it for ANOTHER 4 hours tonight made me not have time to work out on the LAST NIGHT to work out before the final weigh in tomorrow!
Wish me luck! (Nevermind, it’s in the bag)
I feel completely unprepared for my final tomorrow. I’ll probably be able to sneak some study time in at work tomorrow. Tomorrow is also the day I have to make a decision about the job downstairs, and I haven’t made a decision yet.
Going to be a fun day.
Sara really pissed me off tonight by saying that all private schools should be gotten rid of because, “Why pay for something when you have something perfectly good for free.” Well first off, she’s very lucky that she lived in a school district where the public school was good, but I can’t believe that she can’t conceive of one that isn’t so good. In her specific case, the private schools weren’t as good as the public ones. In plenty of other situations (including the one I was in) the private schools are much better than the public schools. Besides, even if they are not, why shouldn’t the choice at least be there? If I want to blow my money on a substandard education for my child, that is my right and no one should be able to take that away from me.
Aside from that though, there are MILLIONS of reasons why you might choose to go to a private school rather than a public one that have nothing to do with quality. My parents wanted me to go to a Catholic school because they wanted me to be taught with their values in mind. They were willing to double pay for that, through taxes to a school I didn’t attend on top of a hefty fee charged by the Catholic school. I have nothing against public education, but my parents wanted something specific for me and paid for it. Should it be illegal for them to have that option?? All schools have strengths and weaknesses. Why shouldn’t I be able to choose one that coincides with my strengths and preferences, especially knowing I’m going to have to pay out the nose for it? Also, I’ve heard of cases where people are excessively bullied or made to feel uncomfortable or out of place. They can stick it out where they are and be miserable, but it’s worth money to me to take that added stress off of my kid.
Just today I heard a story about a friend of a friend in NYC who lived in a really poor neighborhood and went to a really crummy school. He was a brilliant kid but this specific public school system just wasn’t keeping up with him, for whatever reason. His parents couldn’t afford to send him to private school, but he was able to get a voucher and go. Now he has a huge high paying job and he attributes it directly to the private school he went to.
I have no bias against public school. I personally have no reasons to choose private school over public school, other than the quality of the school. In my experience, the quality varies very greatly from area to area, even within a county, therefore, this is not a decision I can make until I settle down somewhere and compare the schools. I do know this though; I REFUSE to have my kids go to a substandard school just because it is public. If it is within my power I’m going to do the best I can for my kids.
I’m happy for Sara that she had such a great public school to go to. I’ve been there and it really is fantastic. Everything is new and nice and very suburban, with good teachers and good families. I’m just sad that she can’t imagine any situation except the one she personally experienced.
That’s all folks, I should really get to bed.
Some friends asked me over for Mexican Night tonight. I kind of didn’t want to go because I was like 20 pages away from finishing Angels and Demons and I didn’t study at all for my final next week. More than that though, I hadn’t taken a shower and I had a *very* comfortable spot on the couch! As usual though, I went and had a good time. They seasoned chicken and steak and had it all cut up with bunches of toppings and salsa and chips and margaritas and stuff (although the last was verboten because of the weight loss competition). Then we played outburst which is a good game in concept but just too old…I’m sorry I can’t name 10 black singers of the 50s, 10 famous jockies or 10 Jack Lemon movies that are NOT Grumpy and Grumpier Old Men. I was lucky to get 1!
I really wish Sara could have gone with. It is like *the* definition of a perfect night to her. Mexican food, Margaritas and playing Games! Won’t be too long now before she lives here…then I won’t have to make posts like this.
Talked to my friend Katie tonight…it’s getting to the point that I can hardly stand to talk to her anymore. She went off and got this job as a Catholic Youth Minister and ever since then I can’t really take it. It’s like I can see her being brainwashed right before my very eyes. 9 years of Catholic school and I’ve seen it happen too many times. I don’t understand why people confuse being Catholic with not being able to make your own rational decisions about things. I’ve got no problems with the beliefs themselves, I just think you should arrive at them by deciding for yourself that they are truths. People who just take someone’s word for it when its something so important and all consuming as religion…I don’t know, I could just never do that. It’s just really weird that all of a sudden she’s all holy.
Well, that’s all folks. I can’t stay up until 4 tonight!!
Well, I didn’t accomplish much tonight but at the same time I did. I spent a good 5 or 6 hours playing around with LJ, learning the ins and outs. I tried many many different layouts and color schemes until I settled on one I liked. I was very frustrated that I couldn’t change the color of the *very* top little part of the page…you’ll notice the grey isn’t exactly the same shade as the rest of the page. (Side note, why do I spell grey with an e? Where did I learn that?) I found that I like the control the old S1 pages gave you, rather than the new S2 style. In actuality it’s a little too complicated…I’d like something in the middle somewhere. I did learn tons about style sheets in HTML tonight. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any HTML and I wasn’t ever great to begin with. Luckily it’s easy enough to pick up. After I finished setting mine all up, I went and helped with hers. She wasn’t looking for anything too complicated.
The one thing I didn’t do tonight was work out. I’m in the middle of this weight loss competition at work so I feel semi-guilty about it. On the other hand, I’ve lost 19 lbs. in 3 1/2 weeks so I don’t feel too bad about it. I’m already down 5 for the week. So far losing the weight has been ridiculously easy…it makes me wonder what the hell people are talking about when they say they can’t quite lose that last one or two pounds. I think they’re probably just lazy.
My absolute biggest pet peeve in the world is people who refuse to take responsibility for things. The U.S. is not a great place to live if that sort of thing bothers you. As far as weight loss goes, I wish people would just wake up and realize losing weight is about the easiest thing in the world. You don’t even need to do anything, you just need to *not* do something. There’s no magical cure or diet that’s going to come along, just stop shoveling food into your fat face. People love to use that excuse of “willpower”…i.e. “I can’t help eating all the chocolate cake, I have no willpower!” Well you know what? Willpower is bullshit, it’s a word that we made up so we’d have an excuse to allow ourselves to eat chocolate cake. Everybody wants to believe that they are afflicted with something outside of their control so that they can continue to bitch about their situation in life without doing anything about it. Why bother? If I sit around on my fat ass long enough, someone will come up with some social program or magic drug that will fix everything for me.
This week was loooong. I don’t really even know why it got to me so much. I think it’s just because I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. Next week is probably going to be even worse though, because I have a 20 minute presentation to give for my Operating Systems class on Tuesday and a final on Thursday. On top of that I’m going to be trying to work some extra hours during the week so I can leave early on Friday to drive down to NC to visit my fiancée. I just get so worn out when I visit her; it certainly isn’t a vacation. I’m trying to save vacation for the wedding so I end up working really long hours the week before and after to offset some of the time I’m taking off. Working long hours like that really wears you down fast. Then you have a 7 hour drive in each direction which wears you out. Then in the middle when I’m down there she wants to be pampered!! I wish someone would pamper me sometime.
Well I should probably go to bed. All that sleep I’m not getting and all. I’ll probably read for awhile too. My back hurts something fierce after working on a computer for 8 hours and then being on a computer at home for another 7. If I get a repetitive stress injury, it’s not going to be carpal tunnel, that’s for sure. Sometimes it feels like my back is breaking in half. Oh well, no one to blame but myself.