Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another wonderful day in the rat maze

Drama at work, as usual.

Had to give a statement about a former employee who is suing because she didn't like getting fired for stealing--just wonderful!

Had a call from the resident whiner who thinks my being a union rep means I have to talk to her all the time and provide legal advice. Today it was about her feral cat collection being picked up by Animal Control by mistake. I really have to bite my tongue when she calls because I just want to tell her to pay me the same rate she would pay a lawyer or shut up.

Then there is the entire department that is being fired for stupid stuff that should have garnered no more discipline than letters of reprimand. All are long-time benefit employees and in an area slated for downsizing, so I really think this is a way to do it without having to do a RIF.

The only nice thing about the day was that I decided to have a dinner out and tried a place I hadn't been in a long time (had a coupon). I was pleasantly surprised and, since I get coupons for that place every week, will be going there more often.

As for the rest... If today was a program on the DVR, I would press "DELETE" immediately.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It has been a long, long time

The last year and a half have not been easy on me and I took to another venue to vent.

Work--sucks and there WILL be changes.

Home--can't post everything here, but let's just say I don't have to go to Hell when I die since I've already done my time.

Family--:( :( :( :( There have been serious problems that are still unresolved.

Love--what's that?

Friends--well, I have some.

Right now, I am fuming over something I read elsewhere that really made me upset. I found out that D's father and his then-wife were in town with his mother and he never bothered to make any attempt to let D and her grandmother meet at all. Talk about absolute thoughtlessness and meanness! What would it have hurt since the grandmother was ill and it would have allowed some closure before she died. As I understand, she wasn't told until she was already sick and wouldn't have had a lot of time to spend with D. I don't know if she ever had contact with D's half-sister, but that would have been just as mean to D.

Yep, I am in a wicked-mean mood tonight. As it is, I already know what work is going to offer in the way of dreck tomorrow, I am not going to be a pollyanna for the next few days.

Oh, and the guy who named the iconic fashion doll Barbara Millicent Roberts 5 months before I was born (see, she's older than me and needs plastic surgery to keep looking good) died earlier this month. So did Amy Winehouse, who joined the "27 Club". :( You don't know just how much that scares me personally.

My dad turned 75 about 4 minutes ago (he lives in the central time zone). I would call him, but I think his girlfriend would be put out if I did.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The joys of cell phone ownership ("Can you hear me now?")

Or not...

After reading this article, I have to share my own "happiness" with the same provider and those like it.

For the last six weeks, I have been in battle with Verizon over a phone they sent me by mistake. It was the wrong one, but they didn't want to take it back in person. I had to send it back via FedEx and "slow boat to Ft. Worth". So I did so. But, in the meanwhile...

The personnel at the store I was originally told to take the thing to is more proof that the people running the cell phone companies' HR departments never actually see the people they hire. They were young, sloppy and were too busy gossiping with each other to actually get up. OK. I went to the young man at the podium and explained to him what I was told to do with the phone by their customer service people. This silly man laughed at me and told me I was wrong, that no one would ever tell me to do any such thing. Then he wanted to argue with me about the equipment being theirs to begin with--this despite my having the entire kit, complete with receipt, in hand. ON top of that, he tried to sell me another phone even though I was trying to get the mix-up on one I already ordered corrected. Then his pals came over and suggested I was scamming them. I was getting so angry by that point, I dialed the company directly and started complaining about them right there on the sales floor.

It took almost two hours for them to figure out how I was supposed to get my correct phone and get the other one back. The final agreement was that we would cross-post the phones--I send the wrong one back at the same time they ship the correct one. Here is where it falls apart. I shipped the wrong one back and received the right one. BUT they claimed never to have received the other one and started tacking the full price of the phone onto my bills.

After that, came the calls threatening to cut off my service even with the tracking number that proves the phone was signed for by their people. It seems like every day, I end up talking to those fools and giving them that number over and over. Meanwhile, they refuse to adjust the bill to remove the cost of that old phone. They want me to pay for it now and wait for a credit. Nuh-uh! I know how that works and I would prefer not to have that mess hanging on my account in any form.

I was also jumped on over and over for choosing a smartphone and not wanting the data plan. I wanted a smartphone because I wanted Office Mobile and a touch screen to draw quick diagrams on. I want the equivalent of a laptop that I could put in my pocket, basically. Sometimes a full laptop is just much to carry into the desert. But why should I have to justify my phone choice to them? I am the customer here and why I choose an item is really none of their business. The sad thing is that the phone was my first upgrade in years and was a freebie.

In all of this hassle, I learned some nasty things about my provider and all the others who are not "pay as you go".

First, any new phone that is considered a smart phone is now saddled with a data plan, whether you want it or not. Your provider will tell you the phone won't work without the plan, but that is a lie. The last three phones I had never had data plans and they worked just fine using free WiFi connections (the built-in WiFi is why I bought them). But now, the scam is to force everyone to use at least the $30/40 MB plan and get them to go over their limits and then move them to the $60 plan which still sucks at a maximum of 5 GB, then per KB charges apply. I don't use the data (preferring the WiFi) because, even with the plan, it is hard to figure out whether you have hit your puny limit. Bandwidth limitations, my Aunt Fanny.

Funny, though--if you don't have a data plan on your old smartphone, they are still quite able to charge you $1.99 for each 0.02 KB*. This is their best revenue stream--accidentally hit the Internet connect button for even five seconds and they charge you that $1.99 no matter how fast you disconnect. Some reports put their income from the accidental connections at over $300M PER MONTH, so they sure aren't losing money. Check your bill, no matter who you get service from--bet you will see some sort of data usage charge, too, even if you have never knowingly connected to the Internet.

Most people think it is a tax and pay it, so the claims of having to refund all those charges are also bogus. I mentioned the possible charges to some of my friends and nearly all of them have seen something similar, but never realized what it was and they have paid dutifully.

Second, there are some sneaky conditions that keep getting added to the contracts at random. For those who missed it, Verizon has decided to just about double their early cancellation penalties. The claim is that they need to recoup the cost of your so-called "free" phone if you leave before your two years are up. Considering that the fee for new (after 6 November of this year) activations is nearly $400, there is no way they can claim with a straight face that all those cheap Samsungs they hand out cost that much. Not when you can buy a similar phone from TracFone or Virgin Mobile for under $30 in a grocery store... Again, they are counting on the customers not being able to find all the terms they posted in the outhouse of an ashram in Outer Mongolia.

Third, the incredible arrogance of their people really set me off personally. In all those calls, the overriding theme was "because we can". I asked where I could find a printable version of their new terms. I was told they didn't have to provide those anymore. They just had to pick a day and make the changes. It was up to the consumer to figure that day out. If that consumer decided they didn't like the terms, they would have to pay up no matter how long they had been customers. With the new penalties, even a paid-off phone would still result in a balance due. But, again--"It's our company and we don't have to tell you about that until it is too late." Verizon is having a lot of issues with people complaining about what seems to be a lot of bait-and-switch going on with their contracts, not to mention with ATT (another one who operates pretty much the same way) suing them over the 3G claims.

In the end, I am almost tempted to use D's old phone for regular calls and keep the new phone for strictly the Pocket PC and WiFi features. It just doesn't seem worth it to keep dealing with the jerks. I only stay with Verizon because nearly my entire family is on it and we get free mobile-to-mobile calls 24/7 (good for my mom who is retired and on a fixed income). It also really does have better 3G coverage than the other guys. But is it worth the hassle?

*One more thing: why does Verizon charge $1.99 per MB everywhere else in the world, but charge its U.S. customers that same rate per 0.02 KB? Again, they claim bandwidth limitations, but they cleaned up in the last administration's frequency auctions and own a large chunk of the airwave frequencies available for wireless communications.

Oh, and for the record: the darned phone, according to FedEx, arrived at the Verizon depot almost three weeks ago. Verizon still insists it hasn't even with the tracking number, FedEx confirmation and the name of the guy who signed for it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Half a century

That is how my brother wished me "Happy Birthday" with a 7 AM call this morning.

That was the high point of my day.

A friend had to miss a flight out here due to a plane with a bad engine. You-know-who had to be her usual whiny self because I dared to expect her to behave this one day out of the year. I also had to go in to work tonight for a while.

Yep! Another milestone down the tubes...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oh, to be 17 again!

In two days, I hit the big 5-0. That doesn't bother me because I should have died in 1961 and didn't, so EVERY day on this side of the grass is OK by me (even the suckish ones). Some of the perks include cheaper buffets and movie tickets in one casino chain as well as admission into the senior center around the corner from my house which has the only indoor pool this side of town that does NOT allow kids (woo-hoo!). The center also has all sorts of free classes I might take just for funsies.

But, when I think about it (as all who hit milestones are wont to do), I keep thinking that when I was 17 it was my best year in so many ways.

• I could stay up for days and never complain about being tired.

• I spent the night before I took my SATs getting drunk with a friend, got an hour of sleep and STILL hit four digits comfortably. I doubt I could move now with only an hour of sleep.

• Sachsenhausen was always open and no one carded us because it was "Germany, man!"

• I could sit in the Hauptbahnhof at midnight and not worry about some perv making a grab at me.

• Prom and the Military Ball meant spending the entire weekend in Frankfurt and riding the StraBe all over the place.

• I still had that long, Marsha Brady hair and could rock hot pants without looking like I was wearing pants with rocks in them.

• The art school scholarship I should have taken no matter what my dad said.

• Friends that really did understand it sucked when it was time to move for the 10th time.

• Castles, fairy-tale rivers, Roman ruins just up the road, parties for cities that were thriving even before the Aztecs and Mayans had gotten their stuff together...

• The 2nd annual Rockfest at the Lorelei with Ted Nugent and Aerosmith!

• Still feeling like I could conquer the world if given the chance (well, we know how that went, don't we?).

• So much more, but I think just about everyone has had that one year in their life when they were sure of it all.

Now, life is more about compromise and knowing that you have to make choices you would have screamed about and refused to choose in that one special year. Pay your mortgage instead of going to the rockfest? Never! Staying in to catch up instead of sneaking into Gruenberg Park during the third period break? No way! Now I am reaching the place where I sound like those people I laughed at when I was 17.

You know what? It sucks not to be 17 anymore. There are days when I look for the "do-over button".

Friday, September 04, 2009

Alrighty then!

So long since my last post and I cannot make it up all at once, so bear with me...

D did have to go to summer school for math. Here you have to PAY for it and I was determined she was going to get through it and at least get a "D" to pass, which she did. If she had done all of her homework, she would have gotten a "C". But the goal in doing a whole semester in three weeks is to pass and I was not going to push harder than that.

She also went to Georgia to visit family and to finally meet someone she only knew from emails, blogs and MySpace. It was maybe a good thing, maybe not. But they needed to spend time together and that was accomplished. I guess she had a good time, but she didn't talk to me much while she was gone. A combination of teen angst and her conditions made her surly towards me for most of the time. But, according to most accounts, she was a sweetheart 99% of the time. One semi-bad meltdown at the end, but other than that, it couldn't have been MY kid.

Went to Reno last week and didn't see any of the city except from a window. It was like ten miles from the Reno casinos, so I didn't even get to see the "biggest little city" sign. :(

It was ALL union business and I think I left interior of the hotel/conference center ONCE--on the day I left and for only half an hour. I went down to the pool and read a good book for a little while. It wouldn't have been so bad except we spent most of the time trying to reinvent the wheel and only succeeded in fattening the tires. Everything else stayed as it was before we started. I was sorely disappointed because we had such high hopes for getting some stuff through that would protect our workers and ONE agency where the workers make like $70K a year whined about every little penny or proposal whether it impacted them or not. I cornered one of the ringleaders at the airport when he happened by and explained to him what he and his buddies ruined by being childish (holding up signs behind people speaking on resolutions and issues, shouting everyone down that spoke for reforms, throwing things at the chair...). His jaw dropped when he heard about all the things they killed by being asses. Now we have to wait three years
to effect those changes and we may lose a lot of ground in between. Really a sad prospect...

D stayed with her friends while I was out of town and I swear there is a Stepford factory somewhere in this city. I am SO tired of people telling me what an absolute angel she is when ten minutes later, she lets it rip! I swear I am going to start taping her rants and posting them on YouTube for those who think she is so sweet. It makes it hard to work when I am always in one battle or another with her and her issues, which wears me out and keeps me too tired at times.

I am working too hard and there is too much to do in too little time. I managed to get hurt because someone who should have known better did something stupid. Why is it the stupid ones don't get hurt by the things they jacked up? Anyway, that makes it harder to do my job because I can't lift anything without making it worse (pulled ligaments in left hand/arm). Oh, well... At least I don't have to pay for the care myself as it was a WORK injury.

More overnights coming, more stuff to fix behind other people. And my 50th is coming up--joy. If it mirrors every other birthday for the past ten years, it will end with D whining she isn't getting all the attention. She already stole my early birthday present (a netbook) for herself. :(

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Addictions in general

Not the normal ones like to alcohol or drugs, but to more subtle things like dieting.

The dieting addiction is the most troubling of the things listed. Once a person jumps on that wagon train, some go off the deep end and treat their diet as a religion. I am seeing this with the online support group my best friend/sister belongs to. Those people are just like Jesus freaks when it comes to their weight loss.

OK, so you lost a little or a lot of weight. It isn't like you saved the world or earned the Nobel Prize for physics. You decided you needed to lose the weight and did so. Great! I am happy you stuck to your guns and achieved your goals. But, for the love of God, do NOT presume to tell me that being overweight the tiniest bit makes you less than human or not normal or a freak. You are a person with a weight problem that you are trying to tackle. Saying anything else is just plain stupid and could cause serious issues for others who think they are "fat" and will take that negative validation as their cue to anorexia or worse. I even said as much, only to be told that they are NOT human or whatever until they become skinny. That is too sad.

One girl I work with had lap band surgery and now is so skinny, a good wind would blow her way. She is afraid to eat a salad with dressing for fear she will "balloon up". A freaking salad, for the love of Pete!

Those are the people that make me never want to be the weight I was in college, sick as a dog and never eating in public. Not anorexic, but a stomach issue that kept me from digesting properly. I still have that problem and my metabolism is now so slow, a single grape can cause me great distress and to gain weight disproportionately. I am also not diabetic, but the opposite where my blood sugar is always too low. Sucks, but I am not going to freak out and join a diet cult to become "normal".

Yes, I understand that women of a certain size category cannot walk into Macy's and buy off the rack. Why would they want to when they know that the "plus size" category isn't profitable for those stores unless they skimp on quality, style and quantity. The fabric is cheap, the cut is just a misses size expanded which kills the proportions (too long in the armholes, too much fabric in the thighs, waistband not cut right, etc.), the styles are from 10 years ago and they never have enough of a halfway decent item. There are stores that DO carry quality items, but I think there is a certain category of large women who insist on shopping at the major names to prove to themselves they are NOT "normal" or "human" or whatever. Or they go to Target, KMart or that abominable WalMart, buy the nasty polyester items or "Just My Size" just so they can whine they cannot find "nice" things. Several women of size that I know dress like they are ready to address the board of directors or Congress on less than I make, so I know the clothes are out there.

I am truly pleased that my sis has taken the initiative for her own sake but am not impressed by the people who are "supporting" her. They all have fallen victim to the fanaticism of their struggles. Lose the damn weight if you people must, but stop acting like y'all have done anything that will change any world but your own. After all, if you are losing weight for any other reason than because you personally need/want to for your health or whatever, then don't expect me to cheer you on. I will not cheer on someone who has gone from size 26 to 6 and talks about how "fat" they still are or discusses 50 different ways to make rice cakes taste like anything other than rice cakes (can't be done).

T, you done good and I am thrilled as you are for every pound you shed. Don't you stop working towards your goal. And don't let those people drag you into a life where you will be a slave to the scale. I love you no matter what!

Now, don't get me started on former smokers and those who feel married to their weapons. At least not tonight... Later this week.