Archive for category Rant

A Little Bit…

Grouchy… And I’m not quite sure why… MC and I had a pretty lengthy conversation about a story that was submitted to the class (submitted a few weeks ago, and reviewed last night)… and that happened to be a boiling overpoint for me…

MC and I are very similar in how we think in terms of work… The managers should be able to get in and run with the staff/crew; If something needs to be done, do it – don’t scurry under a rock. Learn how to tell time – running late every once and a while is fine (things happen), but almost everyday and there is a problem. When you are at work, work comes first – check the personal stuff at the door until the work is done (this means web surfing, cell phones, etc.)…

A lot of that mindset (being a non-trad Grad Student) carries over to how I approach the class… which goes back to the story. It was a short story (barely scaring three pages), and was virtually all dialogue – with no tags. Several other people commented on the lack of tags, which means it is safe to say, he was sloppy with the story. Punctuation was spotty, at best (note: sentences in prose should end with some form of punctuation, not white-space…). In short, I felt that the work was waaaaay below the expectations of a graduate level class. And here’s the kicker – it was turned in late. Not only that, but it was the second story that this person submitted late. And the last round of stories were due last night, and… yeap… this person’s story was nowhere to be seen, and is supposed to be submitted next week (late again).

But I’ve been getting edgy when driving, which isn’t good for the long-term… confused by people that don’t understand the principle of right-on-red when there is no traffic coming, or the perception that one must come to a 5-mph crawl when trying to navigate a turn. And the one that really gets me is trying to figure out when the meaning of traffic lights changed… While I have been operating under the understanding of “Green = Go”, things have apparantly been changed to “Green = Slow Down/Prepare to Stop”.

Maybe it’s due to the recent full moon. Maybe it’s due to mental/writing constipation. Maybe it’s getting frustrated with myself over my self-inflicted, growing list of things to do, and wanting to be as productive as possible, coupled with the overwhelming sense of, “Oh, crap” when I do start to do things that the morale goes to jelly, and I seek something that I can be passively involved with, instead of active.

Maybe I needto get started looking at the projects due next week…

[Edit to add: Maybe it’s sleep, or a general lack thereof, lately… too many days of 5-6 hours of sleep aren’t good for me, long term… and the last couple days have pushed those limits… *sigh*]

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On Customer Service…

[I am envisioning a Carlin-esque monologue onthe subject, and am likely to revise this post later, possibly to do just that… – jle 8-8-08]

It’s amazing how focused on customer service everyone is getting today. Obviously good customer service is important from a business perspective – if the customers are happy, they are more likely to come back anf exchange their money for the company’s goods and services. However, when did customer service turn into babysitting? When did the self-accountability of the patron become a non-factor?

I work sort-of with the medical sector, and this fact is very relevant here. If a patient fails to monitor their own medications, and runs out, they create their own emergency. It frequently happens that a patient will have been out of medications for several days before contacting us for a refill. A few hours later, they are calling back to find out if their prescription is ready, or why the medication has not been called in to a pharmacy. The medical staff needs time to take care of things – they do have more than one patient to take care of, and just because [generic you] couldn’t keep an eye on your own stuff, [generic we] are now expected to drop everything to fix [generic your] mistakes?

I also find it tiresome (both humorous and frustrating) when ther will be “last minute” calls that come in, where a patient is “getting ready to leave town, tomorrow morning” and needs their medication tonight. Oh, and they call at 4:45 pm on Friday, with the clinic closing at 5pm.

I have worked in restaurants, and I know how things work there as well, and it’s funny how our expectations shift based on the type of restaurant we visit. Fast food, we expect basic, sometimes crappy service – and we generally get it (even when you hope for the best). The more prestigious the establishment, the higher the expectations – from drinks never being left empty, to high quality food, to smiles on the server’s faces. It’s hard, and I generally try to relax in restaurants (but the manager in me quickly jumps into action, and I have a low tolerance for someone trying to blow smoke my way – don’t tell me “things are slow because [we] are short staffed”, doesn’t cut it, especially if [you] are strolling around, leisurly, instead of showing some hustle), and otherwise give the benefit of the doubt.

But it’s crazy how much has come to be expected, without thinking of the “other people” (those performing the service. Individuals are more concerned about themselves – their problems, or their own failure to plan correctly – and they expect someone else to jump to their rescue.

Now, I can understand some issued with the elderly, or the “challenged”, andthere will be genuine moments where emergencies may come up… but otherwise, people need to grow up and actually learn to be responsible for a change. If you want to think about yourself, learn to think for yourself.

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A Tangent About Gas…

I think it’s crazy how many people will grumble about gas prices (which, amazingly enough, is not really a water cooler conversation). We, as a nation, are drivers… it’s part of the American psyche. That I understand, and it is a very simple concept, but gas has gottin freakin’ expensive at $4 per gallon (point of reference: when I started driving in 1994, gas prices ranged from about $1 to $1.25). I’ve slowly been curbing some of my driving habits, thanks to owning an SUV (which now serves more as a utility vehicle, instead of as primary transportation).

What kills me, though, are the folks that will sit, idling, in a car while in a parking lot. I fully understand wanting to get out of the office, and the car is a great place to get away from it all… I’ve read, and even taken naps in my car during lunch, but why sit there and let the engine idle for that long. Hell, I don’t even sit and idle when I’m going to be waiting and unspecified amount of time for someone (I’ll sit for, maybe five minutes, then I kill the car if I don’t see any activity coming my way).

Honestly, I don’t even see the point in keeping the car running while talking on a cell phone, after pulling in at the house. If you are home, why stay in the car to begin with? It goes back to the same point…

The point I’m making, is that people can bitch about gas prices, or people can sit in their cars and let them idle… but the people cannot do both…

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Robberies…

I don’t like robberies very much. The physical stuff, fine, it’s “stuff”, emotional scarring aside from knowing someone else has been fondling the property. However, it is when someone is trying to “rob” another (through guilt) of their right to have an opinion that I get really frustrated.

I have a friend who had somewhat recently posted something on her blog, voicing her frustrations over something that had happened at church. It wasn’t a really huge thing (looking at it superficially), but in a way, it was something big. When people go to church, they expect to have the plates passed, and they expect to hear the Word of the Lord. Besides the readings (Old, New and Gospel readings), there is also a Homily (Protestants call it a sermon) that generally relates to or expounds on things mentioned in the readings. The particular instance that she had mentioned, instead of a full Homily, she was disappointed with getting a very brief Homily, and a very long statement about the church’s capital campaign.

We get it. It’s something that “the company” (a contracted 3rd party that helps to raise manage the funds, I’m guessing) “requires” that the announcements be made. I do agree, though, that right after, during, or in place of part ofthe Homily is bad timing.

But the point is that she had stated her opinion on her blog. At no time did she specifically mention names, places, or any other information (like Dragnet, names had been changed to protect the innocent). In due process, a few other members of the church discovered the blog, and the posts, and “got stupid”. Quite literally, actually. They took offense at someone stating their opinion, about disliking something that happened, and tried taking her to task over it. These individuals also escalated it, bringing things to the attention of one of the Priests.

She mentioned that “she was robbed”… and now she has been. She voiced her opinion on a site that is hers (not sponsored or endorsed by the church), and now she has been “strongly encouraged” to censor what she posts. She has been robbed of her opportunity to voice her opinion.

As a side note, part of the “Conversion Story” posts that I had submitted to her (specifically, those where I expressed my disappointment in a few items from this year, also, equally non-specific for names and places) were also victims. For those that want things to run a certain way,that’s fine. But if your skin is so thin that you can’t take someone’s opinion with a grain of salt, then you need to go find as deserted island to isolate yourself on.

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Blogging Issues

Where I talk about inconsistencies, timing, and a little bit of hypocrisy…

When I grow up, I want to be a writer. Really and truly, a full fledged, profitable writer. It’s something that I started kicking around (actively) back in middle school… but I think I had some interest before then. I have, however, been a bad student of the trade. I have not actively pursued writing (stories, poems, etc.), despite getting a degree concentration in Creative Writing.

Which is where this tangent comes in. I am frustrated. Partially with myself, and partly with “the system”. Maybe it’s because I am spoiled by some of my “daily routines.” But the point is this: A writer writes. Damn near every day, even if it’s something brief. And if they don’t (or can’t), they make a comment about it.

So, I am frustrated. First off, with myself – sort of. When I resurrected this blog in late 2006 (more like “actually started using it”, but I digress) I tried to make sure I at least posted something on it, during the work week at least. I knew I wouldn’t get a lot of things put up on the weekend, so I wrote it off. And that is still the case. But the discipline to at least put that something down…. that it’s almost there…. I think about it all of the time but get sidetracked when it comes time to act… that’s where I am frustrated.

The other points of frustration, which has more to do with the fact that I know some of the people that I am now going to describe. I have some friends that are writerly types. A couple that have actually written a lot (but no mainstream publishing credits), and a couple more that want to write, but don’t arrange the time to. We all work, we all have a ton of other things that we would rather be doing, or that seem more fulfilling, or that just plain have to be done. But to be a writer is to write… something…

So the frustration point here is: blogs that are stagnant. Back in the days of personal webpages (I’m thinking 10 years ago, or so), having to write the information and then code the same information, I can understand random updates. Today, with “mobile blogging” features, and so many different places that people have sites hosted, there really is no excuse.

I used to be someone wholiked the idea of writing, but I never really focused on it. Over the last couple of years, though, it has slowly started working at me… a slow torment, or tease – like an excited lover constantly calling at me from the bed. I’m constantly seeing things – not real things, but opportunities for stories to be written. And I am reading outside my “type”. Growing up, I was pretty much just a SF/Fantasy reader, but now I am a lot more broad (in case my “reading list” isn’t obvious of that).

While I am guilty of the “sporadic updates”, I do try to write. As I complete this, which actually started as a thought about three weeks ago, I know there is a bit of hypocrisy to my words. I used to be a “muse” writer – having brief flashes, when “inspired by the muse”. After years of hearing/reading it from others, I have reached my own conclusion: That style is bullshit. Writing is work. The muse is a high-class whore, walking the streets, waiting for someone willing to pay the price for her services. The “inspirations” are just that – a kiss, a glance, a wisp of perfume that makes a man excited. But she’s only interested someone that is willing to be tantric, to keep the relationship slow and passionate, eventually leading to multiple payoffs before needing a rest.

Find time to write. Don’t wait for inspiration – it will never come. The more you write, the better the payoff, and the easier it is to lure the muse your way.

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An Example…

… of stupid people pissing me off. I personally try to avoid discussing politics or religion – they are very hot topics with many people, and I detest soap-box pontifications that tend to devolve into personal attacks. But, I recently received this in an email message…

I am intentionally only displaying this as a “small” image. If you have an ounce of free thought that you like to exercise, just trust me that it is bad. The main statement is about a pending “picket” of USMC Camp Lejeune in response to the Lauterbach case.
You know, it’s funny (and sad)…
1) Last time I checked the information on the case, the issue WAS between a man and a woman – where are they making the connection to homosexuality, using the Lauterbach case as their base point?
2) I appreciate their right to “free speech & demonstration”, but I think they are missing part of the point – they are trying to “picket” one of the main organizations (the USMC), and Locations (Lejeune) that is responsible for allowing them the freedom to picket.
3) They are also doing the one thing I despise the most – aligning on a fundamentalist point-of-view, and taking scripture out of context and using it for their own agenda (like plantation owners that would often quote “Servant obey your masters”, and conveniently leaving out the part that say “Master, take care of your servant”.)
According to a Letter to the Editor in the Jacksonville paper, this group is the same one that pickets the funerals of fallen soldiers. “At the most horrible moment of your life, the loss of a child who fought in a war to defend our rights, [they] show up to yell and scream horrible things to those attending the funeral. They hold up signs that tell you your family member deserves to burn in hell.” The person who wrote the letter goes on to say that, “They [the WBC] have twisted the Bible into a war against the US military and have decreed that God hates the Marines.”

I looked up some information (thanks to Google & Wikipedia), and was really disturbed as I read more about the WBC. First off, they are not “Baptist”, in the fact that they are an independant church (and, often called a cult). The label fits.

I can see a church having an anti-homosexual agenda – while I don’t agree with targeting people based on sexual orientation – it is not a new idea. They [the WBC] don’t like it, fine, I got that. The disturbing points start coming from some of the other picketing that they do. At funerals – for fallen soldiers (from the Iraq war), for those that died during the West Virginia mine collapse, at the Westwood Mall reopening (after the shootings in Dec 2007), as well as proposed pickets of the funerals for the victims of the Amish school shootings (2006) and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. They are also staunchly “anti-everything except us” (including Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants alike), going so far as to state that virtually everyone except their group will be found in hell.
They apparantly believe that as long a woman remains “pure”, she will not have a period – “as menstration is a curse from God upon lustful women” [They apparantly have never taken biology classes. And as I read that, I could not help but think of Stephen King’s Carrie.] Their view of the US Military is almost as intelligent: that “soldiers did not join the military out of a sense of patriotism, but because they are “lazy, incompetent idiots” unable to find work elsewhere” [coming from a military family, and initially pursuing the military myself, I have two words for them. Bull. Shit.]
The other disturbing item that I read, is that the “congregation” (of about 100 people), is essentially one family (maybe, about 10-15 people are not actually related), and that any marriages must be “from within the church”.
Personally, I despise their type of fundamentalism. Yes, they have a right to their opinion, and the right to voice that opinion, but their comes a point when they should learn to respect the fact that most people (like myself) really don’t give a damn about their opinion – other than the momentary flash of anger and frustration that some people can be so narrow minded and hypocritical.
And, I’m sorry, but can any church with “fag” in the website address really be taken seriously, and not instantly seen as a collection of people that needs a lot of therapy?
But, maybe that’s just me being… I don’t know… an open-minded, thinking person.
Maybe they need some “special kool-aid”… or asbestos suits?
Your thoughts?

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Stupid People…

There really is no other way that I can think to say this: Stupid people piss me off. Let me clarify – people that should know better (read: adults) that just have no business breeding, because they lack certain skills – like courtesy.

I had a call, where I was having difficulty hearing the caller (background noise on their end – it’s amazing how many people don’t think to turn a radio or TV volume down when they are on the phone…). They asked for “Family Practice”.

“Family Medicine, ma’am?” I replied, wanting to make sure I heard them correctly.

“Family Practice,” she replied, and I just felt that arrogant air of, “No… I didn’t say ‘Family Medicine’, I said ‘Family Practice’.” Most callers have simply taken it in stride, and said some form of, “Yes,” but without any form of attitude. The background noise was still blaring through the headset.

“That’s what I said, ma’am. Family Medicine.” Yes, I was being a little bit of a smart-ass, I will grant that, but it was feeding off of what I was getting. And I had a feeling that I was dealing with a stupid person, but I tried to still make things sound as pleasant as I could. “Hold on one moment while I connect you.”

We have a feature where we can connect the call through, but still listen on the line. Thihs is used mostly when there is a call-box or option box set up for a particular location. You know, the friendly sort that always prompt, “For this, press #1, now. For that, press #2, now. For the other, please press #3, stay on the line.”

I patched her through, allowing her the chance to hear the options. While the computer is sqwaking away, she (like so many others) is just having a conversation – and she’s giving me crap. “‘That’s what I said, Family Medicine’. Why don’t you just connect me,” she said, apparantly talking to a friend, the background noise still quite present. “Lord, Jesus, now I din’t hear what she [the voice prompts] said.”

Now, what I really wanted to do, was pop onto the line, and tell her, as politely as I could manage, “Look, bitch, if you would turn down the sound system so I could hear you clearly in the first place, or if you paid enough attention in the second place, you wouldn’t have to show your ignorance on a recorded phone line.”

And it’s a Monday… but the stupid people (as plentiful as they may be – at least, in the distilled population that I get through my call hub) will not win the week… they’ll just piss me off enough throughout the day that I’ll get a good enough laugh at their expense.

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Stupid Season, Revisited

Libraries are wonderful places… magnificent buildings with a thousand adventures all waiting to to be explored, simply by pulling a destination from the shelves.

However, how they are managed, can sometimes be problematic. I have mentioned some frustrations with my local library before… and find the recent developments quite funny, in hindsight.

I had submitted a request for the Audio (CD) version of the latest book in the series – same series involved in the previous fiasco. There was already a waiting list for this new title – as I had already expected – when I put in my hold request. I browsed the shelves for other items, picking up a Neil Gaiman title (one of the Sandman graphic novel sequels – Endless Nights, I think).

After a few weeks, I return to book, and inquire about the status of the waiting list for the Audio title – just to find out where I am on the list. And they cannot find my card. Amazing. Unbelievable, is all I could think. This is the second hold request, for different books within the same series, and they have lost this one as well. We filled out another request, and I was told I would be put at the front of the request list (apparantly, I would have been the next in line, based on when my first request had been submitted).

Another few weeks go by, and I get a postcard from the library – “the title I had requested is being held for me until [date], after which it will be returned to circulation.” I’m thinking, “Cool, it’s in and I can finish the series.” That is, I’m thinking that until I look more closely at the title that is being held for me.

It’s the missing card… from the original fiasco… almost one year later! I couldn’t help but laugh.

A few days later, I get the 2nd request card for the new title (trust me… notes will be important here). I go to the library on a Friday night, after work (it closes at 6pm). I returned the other CDs that I had checked out, and proceeded to the desk to get my reserved titles (telling them they can keep the old one, and to check out the new one). We take care of the audio items, and I am told that there is still a book showing as checked out.

Bull.
Shit.
Bullshit.

The book (the Neil Gaiman title, by the way) was returned on the same day that the CDs (now being returned) were checked out. The person at the desk sent a runner to the shelves to see if the book was, indeed, on the shelf. After about five minutes, the runner returned with not one, but two copies of the text (one in a hardcover format, and the other a softcover… and I specify that I had the hardcover version). The book was, indeed, on the shelf, and was promptly “checked-in” to their system, and late fees waived, thank-you-very-much.

About a week and a half has now passed since the whole CD-Book occurance happened. I received a card in the mail last week. The 1st (presumed lost) hold request card for the new title is delivered to me. As I gingerly removed the card – the only thing in my mailbox that day – and reviewed the back, drinking in the words, “the title I had requested is being held for me until [date], after which it will be returned to circulation.”

Un.
Freaking.
Believable.

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This is the hardest part about being a guy in today’s society – trying to really understand women. There is someone that I’ve been hanging out with (a lot) over the last couple of months, and I value her, most importantly as a friend and wonderful person, but damn if somewhere in all of that time, I’ve gotten about *this* close to falling for her.

The problem? I’m not 100% sure where she stands.

I know that, at the very least, there is a good friendship there (otherwise, we still wouldn’t be hanging out). I also know my situation is really weird, and I can appreciate it if she’s keeping a guarded position.

I’ve tried to be subtle about dropping hints that I like her, and I have received no fiery rebukes, but neither have I received any extreme signs of joy (I’m thinking I would really hate to play her in poker!)

Mentally, I’m torn between thinking about her (a lot – like, shortly after I wake up she’s usually the first thought, and quite regularly thoughout the day I’m wondering how her day is going and what she’s up to) and trying to not stress over it. We recently watched Hitch (while she was cleaning up some stuff in her apartment), and I soooo feel like the back part of the movie, where at times I’m miserable but loving every minute of it, and other times in heaven.

Any suggestions…? I’m about at the breaking point, where I want to take her someplace quiet, someplace neutral, tie on my blindfold after rolling a fesh cigarette, and stepping defianlty in front of the firing squad. If I get shot, then so be it, and if there’s a reprieve then even better – but at least there would be some direction to travel – towards closure and friendship, or towards something else.

All I need now, though, is some tobacco, and some rolling paper…

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Irony in Advertising

Okay… not so much in “advertising”, literally, but here’s my point:

Bumper stickers are a subtle form of advertising – while many are fun, and can be quite humerous (“Don’t mess with a dragon, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup”), others can be an insight to the owner/driver of the vehicle.

There are also the ubiquitous “candidate” stickers, or the ones that may actually be promoting certain causes and political stands. (Personally, I can handle the “attitudinal” stands – “It’s a child, not a choice”, etc. but I see no value in actually attaching a political candidate’s bumper sticker to a car… there are still people riding around, years later, with “Kerry/Edwards” stickers on their cars…)

But this is more about the second ones – the “insight to the drivers”. Personally, I have two distinct stickers on my car, sunfaded after about eight years of weather exposure. One (originally) had the word “Whining” with the circular “No” sign over it (think about the Ghostbusters logo, then swap “Whining” for the ghost). The other one, before it started peeling, read “It’s called thinking, you should try it sometimes.” My interpretation (or, why I chose them): “No Whining” – deal with the situation at hand – no amount of P&M-ing is going to change it (at least, not to the positive), and nobody else wants to hear it. As for “Thinking” – I have lived in the service industry for years and have developed a short tolerance for people that have the knowledge on how to do/handle things at work – and don’t.

And the lady-friend of mine (whose dog I watched over the weekend) has a bumper sticker that reads “Coexist”, with the leters being made up of various religious symbols. I mention that as reflection of my disposition as well – as far as theology & religion goes. Mind, this is MY opinion, and MY words, not hers (so :P) – and would really take too long to really lay out, but the core of the message is: “Can’t we all just get along?” But I digress…

Anyway, I’ve tangeted a little (yeah, and?) and here’s the whole thing that started this idea. I was driving back to the office from lunch, and was pulling into a turn lane – and we had the green light (green turn arrow, and all), and the car in front of me was doing the same thing. She (at least, I think it was a she) had about three or four car lengths between her, and the last car that was turning (like, it was already rounding the curve), and she slowed, while still under the green turn arrow.

I shook my head in disbelief, thinking, “You had it, if you had kept going.” While sitting there, I noticed the sticker on the back of the car. It read, “Hang up and drive.” When I looked back at the driver’s seat, the driver had cocked her head a little to the right – and the tell-tale line of a cell phone antenna sticking through her hair. A moment later, she swapped it over to her left.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Hang up and drive… right. It’s called thinking – and following your own advice – maybe she should try it sometime.

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