Bloggers, Fans & Trolls

I continuously write blogs in my head.  It’s the thing that will keep me awake on a restless night or drive me to distraction when I’ve lost focus on a dull conversation.  In those moments I wish I had paper in hand so I could begin jotting my ideas down.  Certainly, not all of them would find their way onto a blog – much like this piece will probably find its way to the trash bin when I polish it off, but I’d like to think that there are a couple that would survive and find their way out into the world to be seen by my handful of readers.

I occasionally lament (and joke) about not having readers.  I sometimes yearn for the validation of strangers – to have someone I haven’t bullied into approving of me say “wow, that piece really struck a chord with me”, but then there’s also something great about my blog’s anonymity.  My blog is a conversation that I have between my family and my friends and the few of you who’ve stumbled upon it.  Albeit, it’s a little one sided at times, but still it’s a small way I can connect and share my thoughts or some random story about my misadventures through life.  When I see the bigger blogs I follow, the ones who have grown in popularity, I also see the nuts that come with that.  Fans who offer up their unsolicited “wisdom” or “critiques” based off of what they’re seeing and reading.  There’s a connection they feel with the writer likely based on the writer having shared something personal.  In that reader’s mind a bond (albeit artificial) has developed.  Maybe in this age of technology the lines of normal social interaction are blurred?  Perhaps a solid etiquette hasn’t been established when it comes to personal websites?  Still, I think about a story that a manager at a clothing store shared about a personal tragedy when I was out shopping not too long ago and I think that while I greatly sympathized with what had befallen her (her son had been murdered in Queens by strangers and the parents of the boys who were at the trial laughed at her while she and her family were in the courtroom), I would not presume to try to impose my personal beliefs on her.  My upbringing said that in that moment my job was to listen and be sympathetic. I was irate when she needed me to be and consolatory when the moment called for it.  I judged what she needed based off of what she was saying and the emotions she was displaying.  I felt connected, because she shared something so intimate, but I also was aware she wasn’t a good friend or family, she was another soul in this world in a great deal of pain that needed to reach out to another person and share their story.  I think we can apply how we’d react to a stranger to how we’d react to a person’s written word on their blog.  Maybe it’s the disconnect of the written word that causes some people to feel more comfortable expressing their opinion, but I also suspect it has something to do with the anonymity of the situation.  You can say what you want, the author is oftentimes forced to read it, and you don’t have to worry because you’re hidden by an avatar you use to represent yourself, a handle instead of your name as an identity and likely distance – you probably don’t live across the street from the blogger’s whose stories you rad.  Plus, I think a little of what you see happen with celebrities is occurring.  Here’s this blogger with a huge following and you want to get noticed, because for whatever reason you feel close and you want to be the one among hundred that gets attention even if it’s negative.  I know I’m not immune to swooning when one of the bigger names acknowledges a comment I’ve made.  I once got a small note from Matt.  I lived off of that for days! (See Matt’s video below and join in the dance. It’s a good rant break.  And know every time I watch it, I beam.)

I know I love the blogs I follow and I truly believe those writers are great. I, too, occasionally feel really connected to them. Maybe it was a post that rang true with me the day I read it or a laugh over an anecdote they shared, but I have no illusions that we’re ever going to have a real bond. You guys are CRAZY! Well, obviously not you.  I meant the other person next to you.  I don’t see me showing up in their city and gabbing at their favorite haunt about our personal lives, because I love them the best and am their #1 stalker.  I see our “relationship” as one where I’ve been given the gift of getting to peek into their lives.  And because I know it’s just a small snapshot, I wouldn’t presume to make a judgment call based off of that.  I say that based off of my own writing.  I offer snapshots where sometimes a little truth is sacrificed in the name of the story.

What I’m winding around to is that when you’re on someone’s site, you’re a guest there and you should show some manners while visiting especially if it is someone whose writing you’re enjoying.   As a snapshot of their lives, you may not be seeing the whole truth that surrounds the story and therefore shouldn’t presume to pass judgment.  If a blogger chooses to show me a picture of a bottle of Absinthe, I don’t assume they’re lying around hallucinating on the floor in some drunken stupor (they could be, I don’t know, I don’t have enough information).  If it’s a picture of a child in a car, I don’t assume they’re doing more than just being in that car.  And I’m certainly not going to suggest an intervention is called or question the person’s parenting.

I guess I’m a little wound up after reading an off comment on a site I enjoy.  I know better.  I usually make a rule not to read other’s comments, but sometimes I get sucked in and it always seems I’m rewarded by finding the one commenting troll who gets me completely riled up.  Then, I end up being completely baffled by how this troll and I can live in the same universe since we clearly see things so very differently.  It feels like we’re saying “The sun is yellow!” “No, the sun is blue!” and I’m just left wanting to ask, “what is WRONG with you?”

Rant: Tech Support

Well, it seems I can’t avoid a rant and since Jay claims I can’t just rant at an individual on my blog (something about how the rest of you were crinkle your brows and wonder why I went off the anti-psychotics), I’ll try to pick on a topic everyone can relate to – Tier 1 Tech Support.

These guys represent the first roadblock you encounter to getting your problem resolved. They’re usually armed with a script and tend to short-circuit if you attempt to stray from that script. For example, we all know that step number one is: power it down. It doesn’t matter what “it” is (router, cable modem, DVR), “it” just needs to recycle or reboot or rethink why it’s freaking out on you. Turn it off. Turn it on. Easy. Now most of us who are a little ahead of the game do this, because we know the drill and because sometimes waiting for something to reboot can take an agonizing couple of minutes – a couple of minutes that you prefer to do alone without the joy of a phone cradled on your shoulder while listening to your soon-to-be tech nemesis breathing heavily in your ear or blathering to the person next to them. You just made your first mistake. If you call your soon-to-be tech nemesis, it doesn’t matter that you’ve turned whatever “it” is off and back on again 10 times before you made the call, they want you to do it again. Sometimes I oblige, because like many of you, I secretly believe in the magic that can often occur when someone else is watching/listening and I believe it will be a benevolent form of magic (the other occurs when you say “look at me” while attempting to perform some amazing feat and end up eating dirt before a crowd of friends and family), but again, we tend to believe that if the tech nemesis is listening, “it” might work better. OR if you’re not feeling the magic, you just listen to the heavy breather while pretending it’s booting up while making happy reassuring noises or saying things like, “ok… I’m shutting it down now – just a sec… yeah, it’s coming up now… hang on” while you make a grocery list or examine your toe nails.

Now, I’m not saying that this baby-step approach to troubleshooting issues can’t help other people, I’m sure it takes care of 90% of their calls, but I think I should be able to earn some special rating – something that says “ok, she has IT experience, isn’t a moron and she likely turned off the device, reseated all her cables and verified all the lights that should be blinking are in fact blinking”. I want a rating that says “she is beyond our Tier 1 skill level and we need to send her straight to Tier 2 or 3 – the folks with the IQs that are OVER 100 and are capable of independent, unscripted thought.” I’d even be willing to just walk through the steps “yes, I have done x, y, and z” if it would mean that I didn’t have to do it while they were snuffling in my ear waiting for me to scramble around on the floor.

To avoid flipping out on the phone, I occasionally opt to send an email where I can lay out all the steps I’ve taken and succinctly state the issue. Again, this is another huge mistake, because I make the assumption that tech support has basic reading comprehension skills. They don’t. After the first two sentences, you’ve lost them and they’re just going to troubleshoot what is in those two lines. It’s actually gotten so bad that I type and edit and re-type and re-edit in some vane attempt to make my note as clear as possible and the little tech gnomes ALWAYS blow it (and when I say “always” understand that I’m not making a simple generalization, I mean 100% of the time – not 95% of the time, not 99.9% of the time, I mean ONE HUNDRED BLOODY PERCENT OF THE TIME. Thankfully, I’m not bitter about this.)

I could type “my orange tree has a parasite and has not produced fruit, how should I treat it?” and the response would be, “why is it orange? Lemon trees are heartier during full moons when Saturn is in retrograde. We are closing this ticket on the color of your tree because the issue has been addressed. Thank you for contacting tree support. If we can be of further assistance…” And you sit and say “buhhh…? WHAT?”

I wish, if the tech world absolutely refuses to give me some sort of rating that would allow me to skip ahead to Tier 2 support or above, that we could come to some sort of truce – maybe draft an agreement that read something like: We understand and agree that the annoying tech tard (hereafter referred to as You in the document) wrongly believes that I, the angelic tech protagonist (hereafter referred to as I/Me in the document) am stupid with a hint of mean thrown in for spite, and we further agree that I have no doubt that you are actually knuckle-dragging-slope-browed stupid; however, despite your short-comings and lack of complex thoughts you will agree to read ALL of the little words and listen politely so that I don’t turn blue and scream. At the end of all the little confusing wordy bits that seemingly stump you, you will then attempt to troubleshoot my actual problem and not some interesting little shiny word or sentence you’ve latched onto. We also agree that it is a bad thing when I (the aforementioned angelic, ever-right, put-upon protagonist who also happens to have a laid back type B personality) am compelled to “nut up” (thank you, Lynn) on you and that it is our mutual benefit that my blood pressure remains low. Swearing only makes angels, bunnies, ponies and knuckle-dragging tech tards cry and crying will not help us achieve our mutual goals that involve resolving my actual problem, not some made up problem you invented by reading between the lines. To re-establish the lines of trust, you will sign this document in blood (yours) and disclose your address, your home phone and the make/model/license plate of your car for my reference should I find myself dissatisfied with your solution.

I’m eye-balling you, Symantec

Imagine Greater? I Can’t Imagine Worse

Let’s start with a story…

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was sitting on some bleachers in a studio full of my fellow co-workers staring at a music stand draped with a black cloth. Beneath that cloth lurked our new company slogan and beside it stood our beaming CEO eagerly waiting to unleash it. Before it was released, she proudly boasted that the slogan had been donated and our benefactors were one of the premiere advertising company in our area – a donation that would not only help revitalize our company, but would help drag it into the 20th century (sadly, the century was wrapping up and we were plowing into the 21st). This particular advertising agency was well known in our area. It was one that sported many of the more popular initials in its name (no x’s or q’s there) and whose very name let you know that they were hip and edgy – no stuffy last names of executive octogenarians strung together for this bunch.

Everyone in the room was filled with anticipation and glowing gratitude as we reflected on charity and how it’s nice to give to the community and even better to have a tax write-off. Looking back, I now suspect the company threw their top local community college interns at the task of creating this “free” slogan. (Oh, and it turns out that “free” actually costs a whole dollar, but it does allow you to have the rights to your slogan.)

When the cloth came off, what I saw was not the bright future of our company, but an amazingly large turd sitting on that stand. A money sucking turd. A turd hell bent on costing us a re-branding fortune. The CEO smiled with great pride and I swear someone shrieked while another person exclaimed “JESUS!” and the rest of us sat in horror-stricken silence, golf-clapping the brilliance of the turd. The surprises didn’t end there. We were also being blessed with a new digital logo – one that was supposed to make us look “high-tech”, but the CEO failed to qualify the statement with “yes, high-tech for 1982 – someone go unearth the old Epson dot matrix, mama wants to slap the new logo on some stationery.” And maybe we weren’t that blindsided – I seem to recall a voting process where several options were presented, but truly when faced with the possibilities we were forced to apply the “suck” scale and made our decisions based on what seemed to suck the least.

I imagine that’s exactly how the minions at the Sci Fi network recently felt the day they heard the news that they were no longer going to be the Sci-Fi network, but were going to “Imagine Greater” and become Syfy.

I’ve given the new name a little over a week to grow me. I mean, at this point, everyone has had the opportunity to take a swing at the name, but now I suppose it’s my turn. I have to start with one of my obvious peeves – the misspelling. Why grossly misspell Sci-Fi especially when the network clearly wants to distance themselves from the genre? Why not a completely different name? Sci-Fi still sounds like Syfy, unless you pronounce it “Siffy”, which is actually what I prefer to call it. As for the misspelling, I can barely take brands like “Artic Ice” or “Liquid Plumr” not to mention any brands that incorporate words like “Qwik”, “Cheez”, “Brite” or “Krazy” and now we have Syfy? Really? Brands like “Infiniti”, “Gleem” and “Flickr” slip by me virtually unnoticed, but “Syfy” makes me choke every time I see it.

As I now re-read the CNN article, “Sci-Fi Channel becomes Syfy; will viewers tune in or drop out?” by Todd Leopold, I can’t help but feel the same amount of contempt for the Syfy channel’s president, David Howe, as he surely must feel for me, one of his core viewers. According to the article the original name is seen as a “barrier” and the feeling is that the viewers will be there if the programming is good. This is already an uphill battle for the network, because the programming is not good. My husband describes it as the “bad movie/wrestling/Ghost Hunter channel”, a fairly accurate description now that their one critically acclaimed show has come to an end. When the channel first aired, you knew you could count on it for re-runs of Sci-Fi classics or original shows like Good vs. Evil or The Invisible Man. Now it’s where I go when I want to watch schlock horror “hits” like “Mansquito”, “Ogre” and “Mega Snake”, and that urge never hits me. “Warehouse 13” is being touted as the “flagship” of this newer/sexier rebranding effort and Howe is quoted as saying it “epitomizes the essence of the new Syfy”. I’ve watched it. Two episodes. I think that’s about all the time I need to devote to the series and it’s hamfisted send-up to “steam punk” and quite frankly, if this is the direction they’re going, then I’m glad they’ve parted ways with the term “Sci-Fi”. The show isn’t “bad”, it’s just not “good”. In my opinion, their “flagship” should be “Stargate Universe” with Robert Carlyle and money should be thrown at the executive producers, Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper and Carl Binder. But I guess that’s Sci-Fi and not the new Syfy, Sci-Fi’s buck-toothed, illiterate cousin.

The executives at Syfy must truly see their core viewers as dirty and undesirable based on their series of decision – from methodically divorcing itself from science fiction over the years to this latest rebranding. My apologies to them – you see, I actually chose to watch science fiction on a channel calling itself “Sci Fi” because I expected science fiction shows. And while Sci-Fi may be geeky and in the narrowest of definitions imply people are floating around in space, what does Syfy say? The network can’t spell? They get to make more poor programming decisions? The implication from the execs at SyFy seems to be that by misspelling Sci-Fi, more people will be drawn to shows like Battlestar Galactica? Really? Who are these people? Drunk people? Blind people? The execs also seem to believe that if you slapped Battlestar Galactica on the Biography channel or TNT, more viewers would be drawn to it because they would be fooled into thinking it was something else. I’m sorry, I do love Battlestar Galactica, but what’s keeping the mainstream from the show is not that it’s on a channel calling itself “Sci-Fi”.

Needless to say, I’m incensed and a lot disappointed. I enjoy Sci-Fi and this new Siffy obviously has no place for me. I can only hope channels like Biography, History, Discovery or even the Military channel don’t wake up one day and say “you know what? Our viewers aren’t cool. Let’s move away from our roots and try to be more like the CW network. We want THAT demographic.” Who knows though, maybe tomorrow I’ll turn on BBC America and find we’re broadcasting from Dubai – I mean, it is sexier and think of the revenues.

… and I’d like to think that when the out-of-touch execs at Siffy unveiled their personal enormous turd of an idea, their more savvy staff snorted with displeasure and maybe a shriek was heard or an indignant “JESUS!”. … and I sincerely hope they didn’t pay more than $1 for the new name.

Belleh

I’m not a “girly-girl”. I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve had a manicure and the number of times I’ve had a pedicure (which was such a terrific disaster involving blood – my blood – that my friends now know better than to even suggest it). I’ve never had a massage, a hot rock treatment or had anything made out of vegetables smeared over my face to clog my pores … I mean cleanse, of course I mean cleanse (unless it was an eating accident). My idea of pampering, with my limited world experience, would involve sitting in Washington Square with a slice of pizza while chatting and people watching. In fact, in this moment, I’m there right now; it’s like my own personal brain massage.

The one exception is when it comes to my hair. I LOVE hair day. All capital letters kind of love. I love going. I love blabbing. I love the bad magazines. I love the new cuts and I LOVE LOVE LOVE hair products. In fact, a great day for me would be getting the perfect cut, having it styled just so and walking out with some obscenely priced shampoo or coconut curl activator (the smell is heaven) or clear mousse that if I wanted I could make my hair stand straight up. My best Saturdays are spent this way and as a reward for having a good day, I’ve taken to swinging by Mangia’s Pizza. I get home and sit with pizza in hand and just veg the rest of the day in my post-hair, happy tummy trance.

I should also mention that I love my hair dresser, Kim. I know several people that go to her each one of them comes out with a cute/great cut that really suits them. And every six weeks for two hours, it’s my turn to sit in her chair and monopolize her time. We chat, I catch up on her stories (as you all know I live for a good story) and I read all of the magazines I’m too embarrassed to buy from the store.

This weekend I cheated. My time with my hairdresser wasn’t working out and I was telling myself it was time for a change. I’d find some place closer, someone who could meet on my schedule, maybe entertain me MORE if there could be a more.

Now let me tell you what my ideal salon would look like based on my favorite salon, Daya. It would have natural lighting, tropical plants, dark paneling, soft music and a water feature of some sort that bubbled. In it is someone whose paid to be a professional shampooer who also happens to be a massage therapist and they rub my head until it feels mushy and I’m on the edge of sleep. Did I say Washington Square? I’m sorry, I meant to say Daya.

Anyway, to the cheating. I chose a place across from my office which was in a sort of upscale shopping area – well, at least it’s desperately trying to be upscale, but I digress. I head into the salon ready for my new experience and the first thing that hit me was “Wow, this is BRIGHT” followed by “Wow, this is really LOUD!” Sure, none of the stylists had a decent hair cut, but hey, I can’t rate their skill based on their taste. I sit down and the first gal makes some suggestions about the color. “Sure!” I say, it all seemed reasonable. “Great! I’ll mix that up and send over your stylist.” Umm… ok, so they work in tandem. I’m ok with that; it’s a new place – a new experience. The stylist and I discuss my hair, she insults Kim’s cut (mind you, Kim falls under my loyalty umbrella and insulting Kim’s cut is similar to spitting on me, so she’s walking on very thin ice). She instantly redeems herself by whipping out a picture, it’s exactly what I’m trying to describe and she runs off. So far, this is looking a little promising.

Two plus hours of coloring later, I’m still ok. Sure, that process took forever – longer than Kim would have done it (in fact, I would be out of the door by now), but she’s very precise and those little foils were certainly perfectly folded if not a little on the OCD side of things. The gal told GREAT stories; she’s hysterical. I tried to remember them so I could share them (good stories should be passed around). I asked how they got started and she said they’d been at a corporate run chain salon. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking Super Cuts, Cost Cutters, Visible Changes… you see where I’m going with this.

Then I’m shuttled on to the stylist. Now mind you this is 2+ hours into the whole too loud, too bright, too sterile and too muchness of the whole experience. She’s got issues, big issues and apparently most of them would be solved if the state would not penalize you for beating your kids. “Don’t you agree?” Ummm… I don’t get into it, but for the record my Dad is a social worker and was a child protective services worker for years, removing kids from bad situations when needed. I’m aghast, but it doesn’t stop her from carrying on about how beating is just another acceptable form of child rearing. The whole time she’s rubbing her belly on me and it was more than a belly, it was “belleh”. Belleh was slowly squished against the length of my arm, around my back and down the other arm only to trace its path back again – never ending belleh. You know that hugging thing? Its got nothing on belleh. Thirty minutes of belleh. Belleh all over me. Belleh. I still twitch. With each pass of belleh, she’s also pulling out my hair and I feel it ripping from my skull with each stroke as the bristles set every last nerve endings on my scalp on fire. I stopped speaking. At some point I agreed that I had sister with children (I’m an only child). I don’t know why. I just wanted to leave and wasn’t up to clarifying anything about my life. OUCH! The curling iron gets thrust into the bottom of my eye socket. Finally she slaps something on my hair that causes each remaining strand to stick to my head. The colorist and stylist practically cheer, “this is a GREAT look! IT’S A TRANSFORMATION!” then practically high five each other while I’m just silently shuddering while thinking “a transformation into what?” I ask myself, “what would Anna do?” Say something. “What would Rita do?” Say something. “What would Beth do?” Not cause ripples and get out of there as quickly as possible.

We’re over the three hour mark when I go to pay. The price tag is $100 MORE than what I pay for my stylist. Without getting into how much I pay in general, let me say that $100 MORE is a lot of money – like, I could buy a small TV lot of money. Like, I could take my tap classes for almost half a year ever single week lot of money. Like, I could walk out and start shaking because I want to vomit out my insides lot of money. OR like I could have gotten almost half a year of Super Cuts haircuts kind of money. And my hair, the hair that’s left that wasn’t unceremoniously jerked from my head, is just sticking to my face and I did the only thing I could do, I FREAKED OUT. Granted, it was a quiet freak out and I contained it in the car, but I couldn’t stop (or drive) for a long time while I tried to pull my shit together over a haircut.

What I learned? To be more flexible in working out my schedule with Kim. Going in another day at a different time is OK.

What I developed? A new and serious belleh phobia.

Belleh.

Morning People

I could try and give some lip service (or “typing” service) to “generalizations”, but let’s just cut to the chase – morning people are insane. All of them. I’m not a morning person. I don’t like the morning. I can’t stand the overly chipper, hyperactive, I-drank-my-coffee-with-a-dash-of-speed invigorated types that assault my nerves with their ready-to-serve incessant banter – the kind of people who aren’t deterred by darkly circled eyes, one sided conversations and low growling – the kind that are drawn to you if you’re not a morning person, because of some unwritten code in their brain that drives them to “brighten up people’s day”. This describes all morning people. Every single one of you early risers who worship at the altar of Franklin’s “early to bed…” gibberish (written to make morning people feel vindicated as they taunt we sane folks who embrace 10am as “pretty darn early”).

The problem is that I’ve fooled people into thinking that I am a morning person, that I’m “one of them”, thanks to years of dragging myself out of bed early, heading off to work before dawn and by falling dead asleep by 9:30 pm on most days. The truth is that the whole morning thing is a ruse brought on by my autonomic nervous system. Sure, I can function, I can breathe, blink and occasionally form a simple sentence or two, but until that special synapse fires that jump starts my brain, I’m all but asleep. And for the record that synapse doesn’t even start sparking until around 10am.

From the time my eyes are open until mid morning, I’m strictly using low level reptilian functions in my brain and any attempts to fire up that one little synapse before the pre-programmed time will fail. What that means is that if you’re a morning person and you’re blathering, I’ll blink at you slowly. If you get a little too wild (excessive hand gestures, hollering, or demanding “clap-for-me-I’m-a-fairy-princess”), I might growl. It’s not your fault; you were just wired wrong – all of you.

I realize I’ve brought some of this on myself by stepping into “their” turf of crazy happy morning joy and its certainly caused unnecessary confusion, but really the fact that I look comatose should be a sign that you early types should drive on and chat-up one of the other morning disciples. Sing, dance, clap, jog in circles (like you people do) among the other followers of the dawn, but leave me to drool quietly in my upright position. Until my magical hour strikes, I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what you’re doing, much less participate – and that’s not your fault. You’re crazy.

So, I guess this is a plea – a simple plea for you morning types to ignore me until mid morning. I know its hard, you’re a big bundle of energetic fun that needs hugs and attention, and it’s not your fault – just do your best to pretend I’m whatever it is your overstimulated brains can ignore at that time.

A Rant for Lynn; A Story for Tony: Tech Support

Tech Support Fact vs. Beth: I hate calling tech support and when I do call, I’ve moved beyond “Tier 1” and likely need someone who isn’t flipping through a book looking for a script to match what I’m saying. I need a “real” tech support person, not a glorified telemarketer. One of our hotshot IT staff at work has tried to talk me off the ledge when I carry on about Tier 1 tech support and through a very long discussion, he has gotten me to agree to play nice as these folks work through their script. “Is the computer on?”

This past Wednesday, against my better judgment, I had to make a call for our Voice Over IP service. We’d gone two days with the line saying “Line in use” and while I do hate the phone in general, Thursday was Christmas and my birthday, which meant I’d be missing my favorite time of the year to get phone calls. The phone could be dead starting today and I’d be ok with that, but not on Christmas.

I call using my cell phone and “press or say” my way to the right department until I reach a live body who has some sort of initial combination for a name – DJ, RK, RB, BJ – something like that AND he also happens to have the most obnoxiously nasally voice in the history of voices. Not his fault. He mispronounces my name throughout this conversation, so now three things are wearing thin for me: my raging cold that reminds me of how much I resent people spreading germs when they should have stayed home, hatred of tech support, and hatred of folks who will not pronounce my name correctly despite having heard me say it. Slap onto that a hatred of people who giggle at the end of every statement. “What are you doing for Christmas Miss Doubty?” “I’m going to spend time with my family.” “HEHE. Well, that’s nice because I’m going to have to work tomorrow through the holidays and won’t get to be with my family. HEHE.”

… and that line started really mashing down on my crazy button. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic, it just rings as an entirely inappropriate thing to announce.

From there we went to whether I had anything else to add regarding the problem. HEHE. I mention the initial set-up took a long time for the VOIP (four hours, which is not an exaggeration – the guy did other things in between, but he was here from 3:15 to 7:30) – I told Initials that the tech was having to go back and forth between the box where he punched down the cable multiple times and he finally got everything to work. “That’s not the problem, Miss Doubty…. HEHE” and my ears turned off.

Before he relented that I was beyond his ability to help me, Initials had me do some minor troubleshooting things – one which took me a little longer than expected because I actually couldn’t locate an outlet to test the phone in a new, exciting location. When I picked up my cell he was in the process of making a speech to the air and he hung up on me. That may have been what tipped me over the ledge.

He called back. “Miss Doubty, I didn’t know where you went.” “I told you, I was trying to locate an outlet and I was having a hard time finding one to set-up this test and STOP calling me Miss Doubty. That’s not my name. You say it ….” “HEHE ok, Miss Beth”. We got to the point where he agreed I needed someone out here to fix the problem and asked again, “is there anything you’d like to add, Miss Beth?” “YES. Whatever is happening is affecting our alarm system.” (Alarm systems are typically tied into your phone in case of emergencies and since the phone started acting up so did our alarm. It didn’t like not being able to find a line. Plus, the guy who did the set-up said he may have clipped that particular wire.) “HEHE I understand – that’s not your problem because…” I set the phone on my lap and took a deep breath and then picked it back up and gave him a tech support lecture. He made a small attempt to try to talk over me, but I wouldn’t shut up. “Ok, Miss Beth. I will put a note that the phone system may be interfering with your alarm system.” “Good.” “HEHE. Can I ask a question, Miss Beth?” I was hoping the question would be “Could I die slowly under your withering disapproving gaze for your amusement?” but no… “Miss Beth, sometimes our supervisors follow-up to see how we did answering your call. Would you say I was very satisfactory.” “I will say you were satisfactory.” because I was feeling nice and it’s the day before Christmas. But here’s my favorite part… “HEHE. I see Miss Beth and I won’t hold that against you.” “I appreciate that you won’t hold that against me.” “HEHE. Ok, you have a Merry Christmas.” Then my brain imploded and left me screaming profanities into the air. (This got a a very disapproving beagle look who doesn’t approve of ranty scream fests.)

The repair guy comes out – he’s friendly – his name is Matthew – he’s a dude. He looks at the inside, runs outside, runs back in and declares “DONE!” He validates what I said about the other guy having problems and explains that a lot of the guys are new on setting up VOIP, but this is his specialty. I ask about the alarm and he explained what happens there, again validating what I said about it, and adds “yep, that’s fixed, too! Have a Merry Christmas!” then runs away.

HEHE. So there you have it, that’s the story Tony. Lynn, there’s a rant for you. My work here is done.

Where’s My Christmas Card?

You’re not getting one. Sorry.

The truth of the matter is that I went card shopping this year and bought the most amazing and unique couple of boxes of Christmas cards. They were COOL! You would have loved one. I would have even written: “Merry Christmas!” and depending on how well I knew you, I’d throw in a “Love, Beth & ” (the other part is left blank for Jay to sign; I refuse to sign another person’s name – it’s like forgery – Christmas wish forgery and I want no part of it).

Last Friday, I went to free them and bring them to work; they had incubated a couple of weeks in that bag so they could become fully developed and lovely cards. I even remembered how they were black and white velvet with possibly some cutesy little animal on them. I was WRONG! Lurking inside the shopping bag were the most gawd awful attempt at artistic masturbation using a ruler and every single rejected color a color palette could belch up – muted purples, greys, browns and this sickening yellow. There was a tiny elk slapped in the middle and in the lower right corner a freakish looking wren. I re-opened the bag looking for the black & white velvet cards, but no luck.

Sure, I vaguely remember buying these, but they were much cooler and I distinctly don’t recall shooting up before I went shopping, which I obviously did. I had to scramble into the Christmas closet to find something acceptable for work and thankfully produced cards that were more “me”.

Now these hideous little things sit on the kitchen counter winking at me, knowing I’m too frugal to just pitch the little bastards into the trash (Goodwill!).

So, for those of you who typically get cards, but didn’t this year:

Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Love, Beth &

Confessions

Guys, I’m going to need you all to sit down for this one. I’ve got something important to tell you that I just discovered about myself and I thought it would be better if it came from me (before you heard it from a friend) and that I told you all at the same time – in this very private forum. If you need to come to me afterwards and ask questions, express concerns or offer well wishes, then my mailbox is always open.

Guys, it seems that I’m fat.

I know, I know, it came as a huge shock to me, too and I’m here to tell you it’s all going to be ok. I’ve had some time to really research what that term “fat” means (thanks to Google and some quality time on WebMD) and I think I’m finally coming to terms with it. Telling you all is the next step on my journey to well-being.

I’ll be honest with you, like you, when I first heard the news, I thought, “you’re WRONG! My high school prom dress (along with many other clothing items) progressively shrunk over the years – that’s what old clothes do – it has something to do with the fibers contracting (you’ll have to forgive me I was never good with Textile Science and didn’t understand that this couldn’t possibly be the case; I mean, I was a liberal arts major). Are you saying I’m NOT still a size 7? Seriously, I thought I was still a size 7! The clothing industry is just doing something hinky with the numbering these days in order to make me believe (silly them) that I was wearing bigger clothes. Whatever!”

But I was on the elevator leaving work and a co-worker cleared everything up for me. Apparently, my weight had to do with bad food choices!!! WHOA! Talk about lightning bulb going off. And a great example of those bad food choices were the items I had purchased for Christmas gifts and was carrying out to the car (chocolate covered caramel popcorn) “Tell me more!” I thought to myself and fortunately didn’t have to vocalize, because I was followed into the parking lot as great wisdom belched forth. Get this, according to this weight loss guru this popcorn contained something called “HFCS” (for those not in the know as I was before this great enlightenment, that’s High Fructose Corn Syrup – but if you’re hip to the health lingo, they shorten that down into a nice little acronym – seems like it would sound like “hefcus” to me, which isn’t particularly clever, but how often are you going to get a big hit like RADAR or SCUBA?)

I gleaned all sorts of health tips as I took what seemed to be a mile long hike to the car, and between you and me, I swear that vindictive little car moved further and further away with each step. THANK GOD is all I have to say, because I would have surely missed the part of the speech that dealt with binge eating once a week to “trick” your body (along with several other important tips that I can’t get into because they might be copyrighted or cause a nutritionist’s head to implode – either way, I can’t share).

All in all, it was a darn fine lecture and now that I know I’m this thing called “fat” thanks to the elevator intervention (that was a close one – I could have had a quadruple bypass while slurping down a 3 liter bottle of soda and never known), I can move forward and make the right choices (which might involve a few hand gestures, but they’re all nice and non-provocative – probably hard to tell with my pudgy little hands anyway).

Thank you all for your support and understanding. I know you’re probably all reeling from the news – let it settle in – it’ll be ok.

Rant: Don’t Talk About My Momma

I thought I’d take a moment to remind everyone (all ten of you) of the definition of a “rant”. I know, I know… you already know, but it is one of the tags I use when I decide I just can’t take it anymore and I can’t think of one “near witty”, “perilously close to being humorous”, or “I kind of wiggled the edges of my mouth and thought “tee hee”” thing to say.

So, for those of you who saw the tag “rant” and sent me a note saying “you sounded angry to me” – here’s the definition:

n.
Violent or extravagant speech or writing.
A speech or piece of writing that incites anger or violence: “The vast majority [of teenagers logged onto the Internet] did not encounter recipes for pipe bombs or deranged rants about white supremacy” (Daniel Okrent).

rant. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved July 08, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rant

Whew, we got that cleared up. Now, if you don’t mind I have a rant brewing.

My mother wasn’t a saint or maybe she was, but to my knowledge she was never officially canonized nor beatified, but she was my Mom and on days when we weren’t doing that thing that sometimes mothers and daughters do best, I kind of liked her and vice versa. I hold my Mom in high regard, because she deserves no less and I’m probably even more sensitive about that today since she isn’t around to speak for nor defend herself.

So… let’s get to it – the ranting – it’s why you’re still reading.

I’m at lunch yesterday and the subject of my Mom comes up – about how she always made a former co-worker of hers laugh. About how my Mom would tell a juicy story and get to the “good” part, the part told in low voices while checking to see if anyone is listening whom she didn’t want to overhear and she’d whisper, “…and then we held hands… each others!” like she had divuldged something particularly risqué.

Johnny Penis, who was there for the conversation and who thinks he’s God’s potential gift to the gene pool had been talking about all the women who had wanted to “date” him from this old office – Mom’s old office – where he’d started working at while my Mom was slowly dying at home. He never met her. He’s also sleazy. And he was getting antsy that the conversation had turned from his penis, which happens to be his favorite topic when he’s not busily denigrating women. He’s adorable. Really, you should take him home to meet the parents.

“I’d wrap my tamale around your Mom.” I blinked. “I’d do your Mom.” … and he made suggestive hand gestures just in case I misunderstood.

WTF?! Now I could do the back and forth dialog between me and Mr. Penis, but you can probably imagine how the conversation devolved – and once again, I could kick myself for holding back – I felt I couldn’t just let someone completely have it in public (being reserved SUCKS) – my brain got tangled up in the self talk of, “oh no, there are people around and some are his friends, I shouldn’t make a scene” which made me very angry at myself for not defending my Mom full force.

But seriously, who says that? We’re talking about MY MOM. Even if she were alive, you don’t say that about anyone’s mom EVER unless you’re (feel free to insert a slew of appropriate adjectives that would turn this post from PG-17 straight to X for vulgarity (no nudity here folks) – and if you can imagine those words and them coming out of my mouth while I bunched up my face and spit, then that’s exactly how I finished that sentence). And in my head, while he made several disgustingly lewd and salacious remarks, I was playing out what Mom would have thought, which would have mostly been of the PG variety and involve words like “classless” (she was far and away classier than her daughter).

So, just to wrap it all up:
I’m ranting. I am, in fact, kind of angry about the whole thing – thus the tag below – and I am completely, totally, utterly (and every other applicable -ly) appalled . AND I’m mad because I have to still confront this person and tell an adult what is and is not appropriate behavior, something HIS mother should have done.
UGH!!!!

Everything Happens for a Reason

WARNING: Yes, every now and again you get an actual warning before a post because I can feel something very un-ladylike is about to spew forth from my fingers – it’s when my writing becomes less whatever it is and more about channeling Louis Black. In other words, I’m ANGRY and on the edge of becoming completely unable to monitor my language.

“Everything happens for a reason.” I don’t subscribe to this “theory”. There’s not some big master design where every little snowflake impacts the universe. I’m more the kind that thinks snowflakes happen because the conditions are right – a realist. That little flake didn’t fall on my nose to remind it was cold outside, to make me value nature more or remember the value of a good coat – it hit that spot because my honker was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that flake could have taken out an eye if I’d been in the wrong spot. The only theory I occasionally subscribe to is the one that declares the universe has a personal vendetta against me. I don’t know what I personally did to piss the universe off, but it’s gunning for me. Forget all the times when things are going right and I forget about the universe – that’s when it’s trying to lull me into thinking it’s safe to be outside again – and damn if I don’t fall for it every single time.

So, let’s back up a bit.

I’m at home. I’m at home on a work day. Why? It’s not that I don’t like being at home, but I was enjoying accruing leave. It’s because I can’t drive to work today. I can’t drive to work today because I don’t have a car and I need to spend the day chatting up insurance people. But thank GOD the woman who slammed into the back of it last night felt like “everything happens for a reason” and expressed that. She’s very lucky that I’m a calm person, because I just stared at her while thinking, “oh, is that reason that you’re a moron? Is that reason that you don’t understand that red lights and a series of brake lights means WE’RE NOT MOVING FORWARD MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T EITHER?”

Everything in my car flew forward – my glasses, everything in the little trays and the birthday cake my aunt saved for Jay. I hit the person in front of me (who hopped out, looked at his fender and then sped off). Then there was the sobbing mess of a person behind me and she had every right to be – her car was completely totaled with steam coming out and bits of car all over the road. Whereas, my car had a flapping bumper and a dislodged tail pipe. Let me say real quick “go little Honda Civic coupe”.

I called the police and the response time was an amazing 15-20 minutes so I got to know the driver. She called every person she knew and declared through heavy sobbing, “I’ve been in a wreck, I’m going to jail.” Why? Well, a few phone calls later, “I’ve been drinking…” Of course you have. She’d just been off work for 9 days with pneumonia, her mode of transportation was destroyed and she was in the dead center of a personal meltdown. “My life is over.” Every few minutes she’d come hang on me to let me know it was her fault. “No, no, it was mine. I shouldn’t have been born and this whole ugly thing could have been avoided. I shouldn’t have left the house. I shouldn’t have been in front of you. My bad.” Then there was the whole “I have no defense” which in 40 degrees without a coat, in traffic and waiting on the police sounds just like “I have no insurance”. I just stared blankly. Of course you don’t. Just a quick note, I’m not your go-to girl when you’ve just trashed my precious car and most of you know how I love my car.

Fortunately, Kendra was two cars in front of me, heard the wreck, went up a block to see if I’d pass and then came back when I didn’t. She doesn’t blog, so you won’t get to read about what my meltdown looked like. Kendra had to clarify the whole “insurance” “defense” mix-up later.

The police came, information was exchanged, the woman wanted to hug on me more (bad in almost any situation, but REALLY bad when you’ve trashed my precious) and I failed to get the car home. Seems that bits flew off at Kendra as we were driving down the road and the bumper was waving around like mad – threatening all behind it.

The car is now sitting in a parking lot waiting for me to figure out what the hell I’m doing today. I really hate dealing with crap like this. I hate that I’m going to be stuck on the phone telling this story over and over and over again to some drone. I hate that my precious is going to a body shop and I’m really trying hard not to get into a serious funk over accidents and my cars, because when I start the whole “I was never meant to own anything nice or anything good” people get twitchy and feel like they need to convince me that isn’t so despite all of the obvious proof. If “everything happens for a reason”, then it’s for that reason alone.