Thursday, March 31, 2005

People are Rude

Granted I don't look like a nice guy. I do everything I can to avoid that "guy next door" look. I shave my head and have a goatee that is around 4 inches long and I'm working on the whole fu-manchu thing. My normal look is a sneer that shows off the teeth I had knocked out playing hockey. So I'm guessing that people view me as threatening. It also doesn't help that I drive a truck and listen to some extremely hard music (I guess one could call it offensive music as well, though it is NOT rap music or ghetto or hip-hop whatever they call it these days.) So with that being said here's the story:

I go to the post office the other day. The parking lot is a "one-way" design to allow for mail drop off traffic. I drive a truck so I don't bother with the crowded part of the parking lot, I go to pull into the "overflow" lot where there's more room and I can back into a space without the fear of a Mini-Cooper being crushed under my rear wheels. I get cut off by a 4 door sedan that pulls in front of me. Oh well. My horn doesn't work so I can't honk it. It's a beautiful day so I am just enjoying life. It's not like I'm vying for a parking spot anyways.

I get out of the truck and proceed to the first set of double doors. There's an older lady (maybe mid-60's) coming up behind me so I open the door for her and let her go first. (yeah I was brought up to do that)

No "thank you." No acknowledgement at all. Hmmm.

I open up the second set of doors for her as well. No "Thank you." Again no acknowledgement. I say "You're very welcome, ma'am" as she walks into the post office. She doesn't even blink. Now I'm thinking "What a bitch." But I don't say anything. I just go about my business.

Isn't it proper etiquette for me to open the door? Isn't it proper when someone does something for you to at least acknowledge them?

When someone allows me in front of them in traffic I give them a "wave" of thanks. Always. I let people in front of me in traffic and the "wave" percentage is about 50%. Ridiculous I think. I realize that in this DC/Metro area everyone thinks that they are more important than they really are. But people, if you died tomorrow the world would keep turning. People would still be angry and have bad attitudes in traffic. We are all in this together.

Keep that in mind when someone holds the door for you.

The Letter

Below is a copy of my letter to AT&T/Cingular. I will let you know how things have turned out.

to kmvr: I resisted the urge to have a cell phone for a number of years, but in my current occupation communication and my availability at all times are invaluable. Without further adieu here is the straight text copy:

AT&T Wireless
68055 Anaheim Hills
Anaheim, CA 92817

March 30, 2005
To Whom it May Concern;

I have been a loyal customer with AT&T Wireless for over 3 years. I am satisfied with my rate plan, my phone, and the excellent customer service I have received during this time period. Unfortunately my current Nokia phone needs to be replaced.. After researching suitable replacements that would meet my needs I found that the Motorola V551 would be the best fit. The reviews were outstanding and the features superlative. Unfortunately AT&T/Cingular wishes to charge me $169.99 for this phone. If I were to buy it at a shopping mall kiosk or online I could get the phone for less than $50, and in some cases entirely free. It is unacceptable that a loyal customer should pay more for a phone through a service provider.

Secondly, in shopping for rate plans I have found that to keep my 1,100 anytime minutes per month my monthly cost will increase by $10 or an additional 20%. This too, is unacceptable. A 20% rate increase is quite substantial. I am contemplating leaving the Cingular/AT&T network entirely because of a rate plan and it’s inherent increase due solely to a corporate restructuring.

The Customer Service Representatives that I spoke to were helpless and unable to explain why my usage minutes remain the same yet my rate increases. They were unable to or not allowed to find a creative solution to my issues. In addition the supervisor that I spoke to didn’t seem to care at all about my situation. This was never the case with AT&T Wireless representatives. I never completed a service/issue call without a feeling of resolution when I was with AT&T Wireless.

I find it appalling that the big market companies reward the new customer with heavy discounts, free phones, accessories and other items.. Yet those same companies will not reward a loyal customer base. They would rather lose subscribers knowing that yearly others will shop for new service with whichever company offers the best free phone, accessories and rate plan to them. When companies base their policies upon customers who have loyalty, those companies risk losing their long term subscriber base.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have questions please feel free to contact me by any means necessary.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

GSM= Guaranteed to Suck your Money

Cell Phones.
Cell Phones and rate plans.
My how they try to steal.
My how they rob you blind.
How did we live without them?
I think I may find out again.
(written while on hold with cingular/AT&T trying to negotiate a rate plan and new cell phone purchase)

I have been with AT&T for over 3 years. My phone is ancient by most, if not all standards. It has been called a dinosaur, so I figured that now is a good time to update. Not only do I have to change. But do they even seem to care? NO!

So as far as I'm concerned this whole cell phone business is a misery. (No not a mystery...a MISERY) I'm miserable, I feel like I'm being railroaded into getting a plan that costs more but gives me the same or less. The phone I have is old but it's reliable and they need for me to switch to a newer phone that may not give me the same reliability. ACK! All I want to do is scream out but no one cares. They make their money based upon sales. Rollover minutes mean nothing to me, except for the fact that I may, once in a while, have a few extra minutes for a month. Whoop-di-fucking-doo.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Reality TV

I just thought I should add this piece to my blog. If ever there was a reality TV show that needed to be made, though most of them don't, it would be one I would call "The Parts Department." It would take place in several parts departments in dealerships, bodyshops and aftermarket parts stores. You see there are things that occur in parts departments that do not, nor could they occur in other venues. We have one guy who told the boss on Tuesday that he'd be in late on Wednesday. He works the 8-5 shift. He showed up Wednesday at 4:30, worked for 1/2 hour and then left. I couldn't make this up, this is true. There's another guy that refuses to put his cellphone down. He talks on it constantly to his ex-girlfriend (who is married and back with her husband) while he's talking on it, he fields business phone calls and helps customers. No one has said anything to him about it. (I would but he's not in my department.) I know a guy that has worked in parts for almost 40 years. He's a district manager and because none of his employees care about their jobs he works almost 70 hours a week and no, no overtime pay for him. It's no wonder he yells alot.

A guy walked into my office the other day and said "Edward, have you seen mypenis ?"

I replied "No."

"It's breathtaking" he reported and then walked out of the office.

Another guy is the typical chick magnet and he has stated that he would make love to a clone of himself because "I'm f-ing gorgeous."

We have another guy that works the front counter who comes to work a bit early and goes to sleep in one of the delivery trucks. Today he put a sign on the windshield "I am sleeping in the truck, the motor is running, please call my cell phone at 8:25 to wake me up." He works the 8:30 to 5:30 shift.

The two guys that I get along with the best are both older, one is retiring at the end of this month and the other leaves at the end of April. Both are motivated, intelligent, quick-witted and deserving of retirement. It amazes me that we are letting the one go at the end of this month. He's been doing parts for more years than our manager has been alive. The one that's leaving in April is my co-worker in the bodyshop parts office. His sense of organization is second to none, he takes no crap from anyone and he has taught me alot about the role of a manager. I'll miss both of them tremendously.

So let me know if you want more updates upon the ridiculous happenings of a parts department, I have alot more stories and, as I said before, there is no way that I could have imagined these on my own.

What does it mean?

Today was an interesting day at work. We've not been super busy so today was the day that the owner came down and talked to the bodyshop manager about cleaning things up. Interestingly enough there was plenty of help and things got straightened up, thrown out and put up. The lot looks pretty darned good. We must have tossed away several thousand dollars worth of used doors, bumpers and assorted body panels. It was good.

My co-worker told me that he had discovered an injured pigeon underneath one of our parts trucks. I went to look and sure enough there it was. I'm not sure what happened to the bird but there were feathers on it's chest sticking out and it wasn't flying away. I assume it had either been shot or attacked by a predatory animal. The pigeon also had a yellow band on it's leg. Which tells me that it was either an animal that had been captured previously or possibly a homing pigeon. One of the adjusters had brought her son in today (first time for everything) and he captured the bird in a cardboard box and called animal control. They came a short while later and the bird was rescued from the wilderness of an urban bodyshop.

And they all lived happily ever after. (I have always wanted to end a blog with that phrase.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The world of Traffic Court

What a morning. I spent all morning in traffic court. I was guilty of the crime of driving with an expired state inspection sticker. I chose to go to court to take care of this matter because there's always a chance that the fine will either get lowered or possibly the case will be dismissed.

I arrived about 25 minutes early for my arraignment. I thought this would be appropriate because of the various metal detectors/security screening checkpoints that I would encounter. I must have a jacket that was sewn with metallic thread. I beeped and squawked as if I were made of solid lead. So I had to be a human cross for about 2 or 3 minutes while I was screened to find out what exactly was causing the ruckus. I took off the jacket then resumed my "iron cross" position. Apparently the metal rivets that hold my shoe laces to my boots were causing a large amount of magnetic interference. Hmmmm.

After my interrogation I look at the docket displays on the wall, find my name and seek the appropriate courtroom. I find an open seat on a bench and await the proceedings. I find it unbelievable that people show up to court in such rag-tag clothing. I would think that we, the defendants, would rather impress upon the judge that we know how serious our situation is and that we dress in the correct (business smart) fashion. But no, there are athletic jerseys, untied sneakers, ripped flannel shirts, t-shirts and the like. The judge enters, we all stand, the docket begins. We get the "no cell phones allowed" lecture. We also get the "No talking, eating or reading" lecture. The judge begins with all the motions: motions to dismiss, motions to continue and other legal things like this. Ten or fifteen minutes later the actual proceedings begin.

I sit there and watch as the judge calls out a name "Jose Jimenez Ortega Oliveira Rodriquez" three people stand up. None of them is the man the judge is asking for. (By the way that was not a name that was called, that was an example.) I sit through "do we have an Arabic translator here?" "Does he speak Farsi?" and "Hablas Anglais?" for about another hour and a half. Finally my name is called. I proceed to the lectern and answer the judges questions with a "Yes Sir, Your Honor." The judge turns to me and says "Well as long as the trooper has no problem with it, your case is dismissed. Thank you for coming in sir." "Thank you Your Honor."

Time well spent, I'd say.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The road to where?

I don't often go to the theater or cinema. I'm not a "catch it on opening night" kind of guy. So tonight I am watching "The Road to Perdition" with Tom Hanks. Wow. Incredible movie. I see it as a movie about making choices. With each choice comes a chance. With each chance comes a change. It's also a movie about loyalty, family and trust. Where do we stand on such issues? Where does anyone stand? These things are not concrete. They are concepts. Human concepts. Yet they determine the extent of our relationships with others. Determinant factors one might call them. To whom are we loyal? In whom do we trust? Is family the final answer? Does run thicker than water?

So many questions, so little time. I find that the more I contemplate this life, the more questions I devise, the fewer answers that I come by and the more confused I remain. I've never really had faith in my fellow human beings. I've never felt the need. Humans are capricious, self serving and for the most part pretentious. The funny thing is that on one level I crave social interaction and on another level I despise it. I am often reminded of something I read in "The Brothers Karamazov." The priest said something to the effect of "The more I love Man the more I Mankind, the more I love Mankind the more I man."

But the truth is I need people in my life. I need to depend upon them. I need for them to depend upon me. Interdependence is what we've built our societies upon. It is the cornerstone of humanity.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Well (now that's a deep subject)

I'm not really sure where I'm going and I'm not too sure exactly where I've been. I can tell you that I've done alot of things in my life. I can say that I've been to countries in Asia, I've been to Austrailia. I've gone through the "shellback" ritual when I crossed the equator onboard a naval vessel. I've hung from a rope underneath a helicopter 500 feet above the ground. I've seen the sunrise and the sunset on the open ocean. I've seen a nighttime sky that was so clear you could see satellites in orbit. I've looked at Saturn with high powered binoculars and seen it's rings. I have seen the scourge of war and the defeated. I've witnessed the burning of oil fields and seen the first signs of nature's regrowth. I've seen sea spouts, flying fish, whale sharks, and sea snakes. I've witnessed a burial at sea and had the experience of friends dying.

Most people see that I support the war in Iraq and they feel that I am a hatemonger, a hawk and that I kowtow to the whimsy of the Bush administration. They read my blog and they feel that I am unjust in my attitude towards Kerry. The truth is, with my experience in the military I feel each death a little bit more than non-military people do. I've seen with my own eyes what war is, what it does and what it looks, feels and smells like. So when I hear that another soldier has fallen my heart feels pain. But having been in the position of the fighting man, I also know that I volunteered for that task. I sweated in training, and trained for a long time to become the warrior that I was. When I went to war that training was invaluable to me in the accomplishment of my various missions. I had pride in what I was doing. I believed, not necessarily in war for war's sake, but in the greater picture. I believe that these young men feel a sense of pride, a sense of devotion and a sense of greater good to their purpose.

So to those of you that call me a "hawk" I guess that's what I am. I believe that war will always be with us. I believe that the more one sweats in training the less they will bleed in combat. I believe that the American fighting man is the epitome of what he should be. For the most real look into why the American fighting man is so good, watch the movie "We Were Soldiers." So support the troops, even if your ideology differs from the ideology of he who sent them. They believe in their mission, so should we.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

First Night Out in a long time

As I told you in my previous post, I will be getting out more and more. Today I went with one of my friends to his "spades" playing group. Pretty interesting group. Of course I didn't get to spend any one-on-one time. Who'd want that in a big group setting huh? The games were good. I haven't played spades for a while, well since sometime in 2000, actually. Well back to the story anyways. My spades partner, Adam, was less than thrilled with many of my plays. I've never played with him before, I didn't know what to expect with him. I tried to keep my game very simple.I don't like to over-bid. I prefer to underbid and take a few sandbags. Well the overriding strategy at this gamehouse is the "underbid and sandbag 'em to " strategy. In all the time I've ever played I've never encountered this strategy. So shall we say my game was less than stellar. I think we got sandbagged back at least 3 times. I have NEVER seen so many 7s and 8s walk in all my card playing years.

The group was really cool. I liked everyone. I got bit by a ferret (and there are quite a few of them there.) Now my cat is ignoring me. I left early, I just felt like I gave it all I had this first time. Besides I am always afraid that the longer I hang out with new people, the closer the time comes to when I say something inappropriate or completely and utterly out of line. So I tend to leave early and come back often. The other thing is that I'm not a fast talker. Some people are fast talkers, I'm not one of them. And the fact that I don't process and talk fast sometimes leads people to believe that I'm being aloof and precocious. I'm not, I'm just processing and deciding the correct course of my conversation. When I don't process, I end up ing off people. Oh well. I thought it was a good night out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Goal Setting

My therapy group and therapist believe that I should socialize more. I guess I'm ok with that. I've never been the most social of humans. In fact, there are times when I truly can say that I people; people in general and people in specific. Of course this is not a good thing. Unlucky at love is one thing, but unlucky with social skills is entirely different. I've seen examples of how I could turn up if I continue in my anti-social ways. So therefore I am setting goals as to how much I should socialize. Since for me life is a series of either "just getting by" or compulsivity, I think my goal should be two days/nights a week to go out and have "fun" or hang out or do whatever people do. Sure I sound cynical here, I am a cynic at heart and a smartass by nature. So Sunday will be my first outing. I believe it is some sort of a card game. It should be fun and it should be interesting. I will say this: From what I know about myself, my attitude towards whatever it is that I wish to accomplish reflects upon how well I accomplish that task. I know that may seem ludicrous for me to say, yet it is the truest truth that I know. So stay tuned for my whacky observations and wild times to come. (oh yeah and one more thing: stay tuned for my rant on global warming.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

People are strange

People are strange. I'm included. We perform self destructive behaviors and engage in hysterics for no apparent reason. That's all for now.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Yet again we find ourselves here

We find ourselves here at the crux of life. What do we do with our "extra time?" Extra time is an invention of the post modern world. We don't have "extra" time. We don't have time in general. Time isn't really something that exists, it is more of something that we invent. Time is yet another concept which we have invented to measure, categorize and subdivide all things. Time is a quality judgement. And yet we can have "extra" time.

Isn't time spent really considered life? Can we waste time or is that just an euphemism for wasting our lives? Perhaps it is more than that, perhaps less.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Did you ever notice?

Did you ever notice that misery seems to bring more misery, yet happiness isn't as prolific? Did you ever notice that it is easier to be brought down than it is to get back up to a happier plane?

Keep you thoughts positive because your thoughts will become words. Keep your words positive because your words will become behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior will become habit. Keep your habits positive because your habits will become your destiny.-Gandhi

Saturday, March 05, 2005

We're Defeated Again

The most poignant line in a long while was uttered at the conclusion of the movie "Seven Samurai" [Kurosawa] by the leader of the Samurai. At the end of the battle, the village is saved and four of the seven samurai have been killed. The leader says "Again we're defeated." The woes and the truth of battle are espoused in that simple idea. "It is the farmers who are victorious" the Samurai finished. As always it is the soldiers and the military that lose even in victory. They lose their innocence, they lose their civility and they lose their comrades. The victors are always those who either cannot defend themselves or those who direct the warriors in combat.

Certainly the celebration of the victory should be shared, but a hollow celebration is not a true celebration, is it? The victory of having buried men that you've trained with, watching friends and leaders die, the victory of another man and with it his family's patriarch. Yes, victory, can be quite decieving. In battle men die, that is fact. In battle men kill, that also is fact. But with those facts come this: Warriors are to be feared before and after the battle, but during the fight they are to be revered and worshipped. They are weapons that are wielded by some that have no business wielding them. They are always the losers, that is the way of war.

Kurosawa shows us this. Kurosawa also makes an argument for the ronin, and for the samurai culture in general. "This battle will bring us no money and no renown." And yet several samurai accept the challenge. Each have differing reasons. Each have different outcomes. Seven againts 40. Seven. For the sake of protecting the villagers, for the sake of rendering assistance where it is needed.

Ask yourself this: If you were asked to help defend those who could not defend themselves, would you be one of those seven? Would you?

Friday, March 04, 2005

cool quizzes

Your Brain is 40.00% Female, 60.00% Male

You have a total boy brain

Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts

And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...

You never like to get feelings too involved

What Gender Is Your Brain?

You Are a German Shepherd Puppy

Intelligent, quick witted, and a bit aggressive.
You've got the jaw power to take a bite out of anyone you choose.