Archive for December, 2008

That other typo

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I have been typing too fast lately. Making a lot of silly misspellings and spacing errors when I type. Worse, a lot of them are slipping by my internal editors.

There’s no easy to identify reason behind it. It’s not a matter of an unfamiliar keyboard, or (haha) a lack of knowledge of the English language on my part (ha, just did it there again… “aprt”). I think it’s just my brain getting ahead of my fingers. But, as a content editor – it’s a frustrating bad habit to be falling into lately.

I’ve fooled around at www.typeracer.com and I’m typing at an average speed of 71 wpm. I pleased by and proud of the fact that I type the same way at the site as I always do. In other words, it’s a valid measure of my speed (as opposed to the “ddff ddff” I’d type at 90 wpm on my old IBM PC XT when I was first learning.) If anything, I get slowed down because typeracer.com doesn’t simply penalize you for a mistake… you have to back up and type it correctly. My number one type of mistake in the typeracer races? Spacing errors… such as “My number onem istake in…”

I can’t call it “keyboarding” even though I haven’t seen an actual typewriter in a long time. I learned to type on a manual typewriter. The force required to move those keys served me well. Much like when you learn to play the piano, typing on a manual typewriter requires that you strike the keys with a hammering action. (“remember, the piano is a percussion instrument” – I hear over and over, the same is true for a keyboard.)

Anyway, I can’t call it “keyboarding.” Isn’t that playing music? Or maybe that’s an outdated ’80’s definition.

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)

That other late night talk show host

Friday, December 12th, 2008

I really enjoy watching Craig Ferguson.

It’s kind of sad that Comcast Cable has the following blurb when you hit “info” while watching the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

The Scottish actor who played the boss on ‘The Drew Carey Show’ steps into late night.

I genuine laugh out loud when watching his show – it reminds me of the Letterman shows of many years ago – Ferguson deserves a better descriptive blurb than that.

Earlier today, I had a good conversation with a friend in England. You would not believe how cool Jay thought that was… “Wow, you know someone in England? How about Egypt, do you know someone in Egypt? [no] India? [yes] Really, I can’t believe you were on the phone with England today.” When I mentioned that my friend has a five-year-old son that Jay might be able to talk to one day, I thought he’d faint.

Among the things Elton (my friend) and I talked about were TV shows that get you hooked and then disappear: The Nine was one I mentioned and there was another whose name I could not recall… it was Traveler. Traveler was a show that they knew they were going to cancel, and in the final episode they got to an ending point… and then they gave you 3 extra minutes that blew it wide open again… WHY?  We’ll never know.

I’m actually more tired than I thought, so I’ll write more tomorrow. G’nite all.

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)

That other experiment still on the table

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I haven’t forgotten my Alpha Bits experiment. The problem is that I keep eating the cereal.

I buy the boxes, two at a time: one to eat, and one for the experiment… but before I get to conduct the experiment, I end up opening the second box.  It’s tough because the boxes are huge.  I mean significantly large. So to buy the largest size of Alpha Bits would be just outright silly.  I’d rather buy one that would fit on the shelf in my pantry. However, since I am not one of the hobbits that the FDA seems to base their serving size information upon, I basically go through a box in four or five bowlfuls.

But I have not forgotten, and I WILL be conducting my experiment.  Be sure to check back for the results.

I find myself wondering, are there equivalent cereals to Alpha-Bits in other countries? I mean, many countries could simply use Alpha-Bits… the many warped pieces could easily serve as an ~ or ‘.  But what about China?  Is there a Chinese equivalent of Alpha Bits? Or Russia?  I’ll have to find out.

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)

That other instance of an imagination run wild

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

[Note: The names in this post are fictional, made up by The Random Name Generator to replace the names of the real people involved, for reasons which should soon become obvious.]

So, last week I received a package from Amazon.com. It had my last name misspelled, which immediately ruled out that it was a package ordered by my wife or I on my Amazon account. It could have been a lazy friend, but my thought was “it’s my Secret Santa!” Yes, I have one – the from where isn’t important, but I do, and I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of his/her gift for me as I had just purchased the gift for my own Sant-ee (?) the night before.Anyway, I was convinced, that was the source of the package for Scott Cooperman, and so I tucked it into the corner of my office until I could put it under the tree.

Two days went by, and I began to wonder if I really had to wait until Christmas to open it. Some of the other Secret Santa participants had opened their gifts and thanked their anonymous Santas…. so maybe it would be a social faux pas to wait until Christmas (this was the rationalization that ultimately won me over)… I ripped the package open and found… books.

Okay, books are good… but, something wasn’t right… the specific guidelines of the Secret Santa thing were that it was a DVD exchange. We each sent Santa a wish-list of DVD’s, and what’s more there were two books. Hmmm.

I studied the Amazon.com invoice and saw that there was a message inside for [Harry Sandstrom] of Bancroft, Michigan: “Happy Birthday Sweetie!!! Love you, Gumba” and “Happy 16th, Love you, Gumba”.

I know no Gumba, it’s not my birthday, I’m not 16, I don’t live in Michigan, and I ain’t [Harry Sandstrom]. So… something had clearly gone awry with the Amazon order. There was a billing name and address from Harlingen, Texas – which I assume was the true identity of “Gumba.” (By the way, the “Gumba” part is real… I think it’s a loving term for a grandmother, but who knows.)

What to do? Of course, being selfish, the first thing I did was contact the Secret Santa set-up crew. All right, it’s not entirely out of selfishness.

  1. There was no phone number for Amazon or the buyer of the books on the invoice.
  2. My assumption at this point was that the buyer/”Bill to” person was my Secret Santa, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise by saying “I know it’s you.” However, they needed to know there was a mix-up because it was at least two orders that were mixed up (the one intended for me that produced the mailing label and the one intended for [Harry Sandstrom]. I assume that only the person who paid would be able to get information from Amazon.
  3. … well, yeah, I wanted to be sure I got my gift.

After some message board posting and emailing back and forth with the Santa coordinator, we’ll call her [Constance Cordell], word came back – doesn’t look like the “Bill to” person is my Santa… must be a switching of orders rather than one person’s multiple orders being sent to the wrong destinations.

Now, I’m a pretty clever person. I was able to find a number for both Amazon and the “Bill to” person (we’ll call her [Lucille Shanklin]). I opted NOT to call Amazon, because I would expect they’d simply want me to return the package to them. I have no idea if they’d refund [Lucille]’s money or even attempt to find the source of the problem. Better, I thought, to contact [Lucille Shanklin] and let her contact Amazon so she can get a full refund – and I’ll just send the package along to [Harry Sandstrom], maybe even with some extra gifts inside. Who knows?

I’ve been attempting to call [Lucille] for four days now. The phone rings and rings, but no one ever answers. No answering machine, no live person on the line… it just rings. 4 PM Sunday, 10 AM Sunday, 7 PM Saturday, 3 PM Saturday, 9 AM Saturday, 8 PM Friday, 2:30 PM Friday, 8 AM Friday, 7:30 PM Thursday, 2 PM Thursday, 12 Noon Thursday… no answer.

Here’s where my imagination has been running wild. I’ve pictured all types of scenarios:

  • [Lucille Shanklin] (who I know to be over 60) doesn’t answer the phone from people she doesn’t know. She’s screening my calls and is actually becoming alarmed that the same unfamiliar number keeps calling. I would not be surprised at all to receive a call from her son asking who I am and why I keep calling.
  • [Lucille Shanklin] is a fake person. The billing information that was provided to Amazon is stolen or ficticious. (Unlikely, I know.)
  • [Lucille] is badly injured or in some other way incapacitated, and no one has realized it yet.
  • [Lucille] has already died, and for obvious reasons no one has told me yet.
  • [Lucille] is already on her way to Michigan. She has already been very disappointed that the gift she ordered for [Harry] did nor arrive and she has already taken the matter up with Amazon.

and then there’s the other part of it all…

I’ve assumed that the order that produced the mailing label on the package was from my Secret Santa. Maybe it’s from someone else… a long lost friend, a relative from my wife’s side of the family who just doesnt’ “get” our last name, an order I forgot I placed, who knows.

I’m sure Occam’s Razor appplies here (“the simplest explanation is usually the correct one”) but it’s funny to realize how much my imagination runs away from me when I let it happen.

For those who worry, [Harry] will get his gifts. I’ll be mailing them anonymously later this week, with an extra gift from Santa thrown in.

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)

That other helpful Verizon Wireless customer service representative

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

I had this whole, VERY LONG, “open letter to Verizon Wireless” started. It outlined five weeks of frustration and being talked down to and given bad information and …. well, I was pissed. It’s been under my skin for a while now, and I’ve been all ready to rip into them.

But why?

I wrote earlier tonight about how stressed I am. I need to admit that I do a lot of that to myself. Yes, I was insulted by the way I was treated, and irritated by the amount of effort I had to put into doing other people’s jobs for them (“yes, actually you can do that.” “No, that doesn’t apply here.” etc.,). And, I have to admit… there’s this part of me that feels like if I just let it go, doing so somehow devalues me even more. Someone should be standing up for me, right? And in the absence of anyone else doing it – I have to.

But, why?

The tension trickles down to affect almost everything I do… and with so much going these days, I don’t need to add to the stress. Not over my cell phone.

And you know what gets lost in it all? The problem was eventually fixed. Yes, I had to deal with a bunch of idiots, invest far more time and energey than I should have to, and hold my ground on several points, but so what? Really, I mean, what exactly did I have to “endure?” Besides, for all I “did” it was ultimately a Verizon Wireless employee who brought closure to the matter.

Joe Wynne, the umpteenth (ninth, actually) Verizon representative I talked with, took the time to listen to the whole sequence of events that had played out over the prior five weeks. When I was done explaining, he asked follow up questions to enhance his understanding of the situation, and without hesitation began trying to help me. Even though he encountered the same potential obstacles that suggested “I don’t think you can do that,” he patiently listened to why I believed we could press on, and he willingly tried the things I wanted to try. When my ideas worked, he was most gratious (“wow, you taught me something I didn’t know about our computer system”). At no point did he suggest I was being unreasonable in what I was asking; in fact, he made it clear that he understood my reasons for looking to make the changes I was.

I realize now that the only part of my “Verizon Wireless” story worth retelling is the part about how Joe Wynne provided me with excellent customer service. To focus on any other part of what happened would demonstrate just how badly my priorities are out of whack.

So I will be writing a letter to Verizon Wireless; however, it will be a summary of the helpfulness of Mr. Wynne sent to Joe’s supervisors to bring to their attention the positive way he represented their company.

Thank you, Joe, I really appreciated your attention to my concerns.

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)

That other mental state

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Stressed.

Very stressed.

Been a rough couple of days.

I thought I could escape the stress by making cookies (I love cookies), but my cookie press broke when making a batch before Thanksgiving. Finally got a new one today. Was happy for a few minutes at the unexpectedness of finding one. Got home, started making the cookies… the new press isn’t working.

I know, it’s only cookies…. but it just mirrors the state of affairs in general.

Ugh. Feh. Meh. Double ugh. GAHHHHHHHH! *sigh*

It’s sad really… I have this rant against Verizon Wireless half-written and dozens of other thoughts in my head, all with the same tone. I’m embarrassed by the hostility of it all. It’s Christmas, and I love Christmas. And, I of all people should be trying to show forgiveness and turn the other cheek. Feh.

It would’ve been really nice if I could’ve just made the stupid cookies. I’d be feeling a lot better right now. (ha, well, I can imagine that I would.)

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)