Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Modern Communications (Cell Phone Service)

I bought a network extender. I bought it on Amazon for less than 1/3 the (outrageous) price Verizon was asking for the same thing. After some ridiculousness with the delivery process, it arrived. I plugged in all the appropriate cables; all the appropriate lights lit up. It didn't help.

So I got online and search the support database, like the well behaved customer I am. I found nothing remotely useful. So I did the unthinkable: called technical support.

Well, about 40 minutes into this "adventure", I've had my call dropped once, got hung up on once, had my call accidentally rerouted while on hold once, so I've had to start over 3 times. What I've managed to find out is that I need to have a phone number for the extender registered with Verizon - which the guy who first wanted to sell me one did not tell me - and to get that I have to talk to the network extender department. But either the phone gods hate me or the network extender department doesn't actually exist because I have yet to reach them.

45 minutes.

Where's the nearest AT&T office?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Open Letter (10)

CAST! LISTEN UP! [ed. note: This is the accepted way of opening an address to a student cast.]

Thank you. I had no idea what to expect from my week in halfway-to-nowhere Minnesota, and you all have absolutely knocked my socks off. Over the last three days you've proven yourselves smart, talented, energetic, and - perhaps most inspiring to me - endlessly eager to learn. You've drunk in our endless notes on theater, music, and performance; you've asked intelligent questions; you've SOUGHT OUT extra information and help. And you have displayed incredible generosity toward your fellow performers. As far as I can tell, not one of you is complacent or conceited, and that is to be applauded. (But don't let the applause make you complacent or conceited.)

Keep working hard - I hope you've seen this week just how much you can accomplish when you do. Keep questioning your teachers and directors - don't take what we say at face value, ask about what doesn't make sense, and ask when you want to know more. Keep giving so generously to the people you work with - whether they're fellow artists in a collaboration or office mates at a 9-5 job, giving your energy and trust to the people you're working with can have radical results. Keep looking for the fun, the sense of play - you'll spend far too much time in your life on what seems like drudgery, so whenever you can find some joy in what you're doing, embrace it and make the most of it. And keep learning - no matter how old you are or how much experience you have, there is ALWAYS more to learn; understanding that will help you to always move forward, never be complacent or conceited. It will also keep your eyes open for hidden learning experiences that are all too easy to miss, and are like gifts if you can receive them.

But enough cheese! You guys have TOTALLY ROCKED this week!! I'm so proud of you, and I hope you're proud of yourselves. Thank you. You guys are rock stars.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Open Letter (9)

To the Woman with the Crazy Sob Story,

Look, lady, I'm sure you're in a fix. Maybe your stepmother really did die this morning, and you really did just pick up your 3 and 11 year old siblings from a police precinct and they're now sitting in that gray Corrolla right there (that I can't see). Maybe you really do just need some help getting back to Irvington. Or out of Brooklyn. There have been moments when all I've wanted, myself, is to get out of Brookyln.

But if you want to be taken seriously, perhaps you should reconsider the plan of attack that goes: 1. wander up to random stanger on a Brooklyn street who is held captive because her car is wide open as boxes are being loaded out of it, 2. declare that you have an emergency situation, 3. plead for the chance to Google.

Let me say that again: "it's an emergency - do you have a way to Google?"

When you want a stranger to hand you cash on the street, just ask for it. Don't try to pretend that really all you want to do is use Google to look up you-don't-know-what (as you said yourself) and then rapidly launch into explaining how you have just enough gas to get your car to the gas station and you just need some help getting home to Irvington with your 3 and 11 year old siblings who are sitting right there in that invisible Corrolla.

Really. Try again, please. And if you could leave me out of it next time, that would be even better.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FYI (1A)

Correction: I retract my statement about sewer gas. It might be lovely. Apparently I don't know after all.

In other news, if someone asks you if you want to know what it smells like when a creature (or several creatures) dies in your bathroom wall and begins to rot, the correct answer is "no."

Monday, April 18, 2011

FYI (1)

If anyone ever asks you if you want to know what sewer gas smells like, the correct answer is "no." Just in case you weren't sure.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ignorance is anything but bliss.

“I started to see that they were not just political targets, they were real people who just… wanted to get married. It started to feel like a petty issue.”

Amazing. How many people in this country are still stuck in the first half of this position - not yet having realized that people ARE people and "not just political targets" - simply because they've never carried on a conversation with an individual on the other side of the debate? How many people would, if they had a few simple conversations with real human beings, change their minds about what they themselves have the right to deny their fellow humans?

The quote above came from a news story, one that I read by way of Yahoo: There's nothing surprising about the idea that a young man - only 25 years old - formed strong opinions based on limited knowledge. What's kind of exciting is that even though he didn't go looking for experience that might challenge his opinions, when he stumbled upon that experience he thought about it enough to let it change his views.

How much could we change our nation if we could reduce the collective level of ignorance by 10%? Or even 1%? And how do you measure the collective level of ignorance in the first place, you ask? I don't know. But you get my point.

Sorry - I just can't seem to muster any snark on this issue. This fairly minor incident - a single anti-gay marriage activist changing his mind - has actually kind of blown my mind, because the REAL problem is so unbelievably obvious.

Check out the article; I think it's kind of an astounding study in human ignorance, and the capacity to learn.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Open Letter (8)

Dear Aetna,

I clearly shouldn't have believed you when you said I didn't have to pay you any more money until March. But of course I didn't realize my foolishness until, on the last day of January, my pharmacy said you wouldn't pay for anything. You had your money by Tuesday. But could the pharmacy get any money out of you Wednesday? You're joking, right? Thursday? Still no dice.

Friday a young woman on your payroll - who was actually quite pleasant - confirmed that you had indeed received my money and you were indeed prepared to pay out on my behalf. And yet a few hours later the pharmacy still was unable to get you to fork over. Even after the very nice pharmacist (a rarity these days, but that's another rant) called you and confirmed that yes, you had my money, and you acknowledged willingness to pay for my medical treatments. But not to the pharmacy. Because apparently while every other computer system on the entire planet (with the possible exception of Egypt, currently) can transfer information between machines in seconds or minutes, yours take more than 72 hours to get data from one place to another.

So well done, Aetna: you've managed to find the only computers on the planet that are actually slower than the Pony Express. And if I'm lucky I'll get my prescription in three more days, because God forbid anyone in medical insurance work on the weekend. Oh wait... that would imply that they work at all.

Die and rot in hell.
Yours truly

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sometimes I Hate Winter

OK, ice storms make the trees look pretty. But everything else about them pretty much sucks. They cause damage, they make people fall and hurt themselves, and they get you up early in the morning just so you can spend that many extra hours stressing out about the appointments you can't get to. And wondering how it is that other people got out of their driveways so easily. And wishing you lived someplace where ice is known only as what clinks in your glass. Or that you at least had chains on your tires. Or maybe one of those ridiculous driveways with heating elements built into it so you could just switch in on when you woke up and by the time you had gotten dressed and eaten breakfast you'd have nothing but a little slush to clear away.

And really all I want to do - all I have wanted to do for about three days - is make hot, buttered popcorn and watch Beauty and the Beast on VHS. Yes, really.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Trouble with Vacation...

The problem with having nice long vacations is that you fall too completely into the vacation rhythm. You have time to fully adjust your schedule.

During a short break you're constantly catching up: getting your teeth cleaned because you can finally spare the time, vacuuming the carpets that only get vacuumed during breaks, tying up loose ends from the frantic last two weeks before the vacation, and then turning right around and getting ready to go back.

On the other hand, on a long break you have time between the catching up and the getting ready to actually fall into a routine: having a leisurely breakfast, going to the gym, reading in the evenings, cooking nice dinners. By the time you have to start getting ready to go back, you have a whole new schedule that gets interrupted.

I think the solution is obvious: make all breaks longer and more frequent, so that the work-time schedule is the anomaly, coming in brief spates, and the relaxed schedule is the norm. It also would reduce or eliminate the catching up period at the beginning of each break if breaks were frequent enough, so they wouldn't need to all be 3-4 weeks long for full effect. I think perhaps a week off each month would do the trick.

Feel free to suggest this to your employers and educational institutions...