Aug
26
2010
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Update: AT&T fiasco is just getting worse

After my last post about AT&T, I gave up on getting help in the store, and went back to calling.(Anyone who knows me knows this was a huge step, because I hate calling strangers. Hate it. Seriously, AT&T should have to pay me money for pain and suffering.)

I called them on August 9, talked to Arianna, and got nowhere.

Got busy, and didn’t have time to call back again until 8/18. Plus, Arianna had said they were doing some work in my area so I hoped things might get better. They didn’t.

On 8/18, I talked to Juan, who finally admitted that he couldn’t help me, and put me through to technical support. I was pretty excited. After over 2 months, I was finally getting to talk to someone who could help me.

The tech guy wasn’t very friendly, but I didn’t care. I did say on this blog that I would love a rude person if he could help me.

This guy was a bit gruff, sounded like a Yankee, and was hard to understand. I never could catch his name, though I asked him twice. But he asked me lots of intelligent questions, and even took down information about actual times when I had dropped calls.

He promised that someone from tech support would call me back.

I spent 31 minutes on the phone with AT&T that day.

On 8/23, Jeremy called back from Tech Support. I didn’t take the call, because it said “unknown.” Wish I had.

Anyway, Jeremy left a message saying their technicians had done something and he thought it was working then. As soon as I got the message, I called my husband to test it out.

The call dropped.

So I called back, and left a message for Jeremy.

On 8/24, some other guy called to check on me. He wasn’t from Tech Support. I don’t know who he was. He was nice. I told him that I had left a message for Jeremy, and he assured me that Jeremy (or his coworker) would call back.

Which brings me to today. 8/26.

Charles called back, at 8:45 pm tonight.

I was at pottery class, up to my elbows in clay. Needless to say, I couldn’t take the call.

I had to call my voice mail 4 times to listen to his message. The first 3 times, my phone dropped the call before I could hear the whole message.

The message? Charles said that the tech people discovered that they’re doing work in my area, “upgrading the 3G.” He said that I drop calls during the day because their work interrupts the network.

That totally explains why my voice mail call got dropped 3 times, after 9 pm. Oh, and I had 5 bars at the time.

The best part? They won’t be done working in this area until October 12.

So AT&T’s solution to my problem is for me to wait another six weeks.

Until that stupid voice mail, I had hope. I kept hoping that someone would help me. That they would solve the problem.

Now I’m just angry.

Aug
02
2010
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AT&T fiasco: nice people who can’t solve my problem

In May 2009, Tim and I switched to AT&T. He got a fancy new iphone that he could use on our mission trip to Europe, and I got a shiny new red phone. It’s a Samsung a777, I think. Or maybe it’s a737. Anyway, it’s red.

I wanted an orange one, but they were out of orange ones. So I decided that I would take a green one, but they were out of those too. So I was stuck with red.

Anyway, my red phone worked beautifully, for approximately 1 year 2 weeks. Just after the warranty expired, my phone started dropping calls. Like crazy. Sometimes, it would drop the call before it even had a chance to go through.

Since Tim’s phone was still working fine, we assumed something was wrong with my phone. I called AT&T on June 16, and talked to Harley. Harley was very nice and friendly and he “re-registered my phone with the local tower.”

That did nothing.

So on June 17, I called AT&T and talked to Nikki. Nikki was very nice and friendly, too. She tested my SIM card, reset my SIM card, and offered to send me a new (free) SIM card.

That was a good thing, because nothing else helped.

When my new SIM card arrived, it didn’t help either.

Finally I decided that perhaps it would help if I talked to someone in person. So I went to the AT&T store on Haywood Road, where I talked to a nice sales guy, and a manager.

They decided that there must be something wrong with my phone. Since it was out of warranty, I was out of luck. They also offered to sell me some device that would use my internet connection to improve the signal in my house.

I explained that my phone had started having problems right around the time that the warranty would have run out, and that I hadn’t even used my phone for the first 10 weeks that I owned it because I was in Europe. I also explained that I didn’t understand why I should buy a device to improve the signal when the signal was fine a few weeks ago, and apparently was still fine enough for Tim’s iphone to work.

They decided to replace my phone.

Very nice people. Really, I was extremely appreciative. I thought about asking if I could have an orange phone instead of a red one, but didn’t want to push my luck. Especially since they were so nice.

Too bad it didn’t work.

My phone continued dropping calls. I had to use Skype any time I wanted to call someone. It was really embarrassing when someone would try to have a 5 minute conversation with me and we would get cut off 4 times. Very embarrassing. I can’t even order a pizza without getting cut off. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that my cell phone is my only phone. I don’t have a home phone, and I work from home, so I don’t have a work phone either. I had to open a Skype account.

After a few more weeks of hoping the problems would go away, I was out running errands on Wade Hampton, and decided to visit the AT&T store there. After waiting a long time, I talked to a very nice, but very overworked sales lady. She assured me that I had just gotten 2 bad SIM cards in a row. Surely a 3rd one would fix the problem.

It didn’t.

So I went back. I talked to a very nice manager named Rick. Once again, the idea of purchasing a device for my house came up. I explained that my husband got great reception in our house, and so did I. Until this summer.

I still don’t understand why AT&T thinks I should purchase something to fix their problem.

Rick submitted a ticket to an engineer. He said that if I was still having problems, I should come back, and he would call the engineer, and things would happen.

In the mean time, my phone continued to masquerade as a brick. It’s even appropriate, because bricks are red.

The next time I was out on Wade Hampton, I went back and asked for Rick. He wasn’t there.

So I talked to another nice sales guy, who was very sympathetic to my problem. Not sympathetic enough to call the engineer, though.

He was sympathetic enough to offer to sell me another phone. It would be a great deal, and they would even give me an early upgrade, which means that I have to extend my contract another 2 years to get an affordable price on the phone.

I explained again that I didn’t understand why I needed to spend more money to fix AT&T’s problem. Also, after trying 2 phones and 3 SIM cards, how would I know that a new phone would fix things? Finally, there was no way I wanted to extend my contract when I didn’t know if I would ever be able to talk on my cell phone for 10 minutes in a row again.

He was very sympathetic. He took my name and number and told me that Rick would call me.

Rick has not called me.

Meanwhile, I totally don’t understand what’s happening.

I really don’t think my phone is messed up. It works fine when I’m driving on Wade Hampton. Actually, it works fine almost anywhere except my house, and the 385 / Haywood exit.

If there are any AT&T engineers out there reading this, please message me! I would tell you to call, but my phone will almost certainly drop your call. If you send me a number, I’ll call you on Skype.

P.S. Engineer? I don’t care if you’re nice to me, as long as you solve my problem. Thanks.

Jul
27
2010
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The Golden Mean applied to Reese’s

I like chocolate, and I eat peanut butter with a spoon. But together? My favorite. I can’t imagine life without chocolate and peanut butter.

Actually, I can. I spent two summers in Europe, devoid of chocolate with peanut butter. There was plenty of chocolate, yes. But no Reese’s cups, or any other chocolate-peanut butter delicacies.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Reese’s cups. I like the full-size cups better than the miniatures, but what I really love are the Easter Eggs (and the Valentine Hearts, Halloween Pumpkins and Christmas trees). You see, these special, festive treats have more peanut butter than the regular cups. Some people don’t like them as well, because they want more chocolate in their Reese’s. Those people can eat miniatures any day of the year.

I have to wait until holidays for my optimum Reese’s experience. It’s not fair! Sometimes I wonder how I’ll make it to the next Reese’s holiday. It’s a long time from Easter to Halloween, and they don’t make patriotic Reese’s treats. I don’t know why.

After my penny-pinching Easter egg fiasco last year, my friends intervened to make sure another crisis would be averted.

It started in February. I was visiting my family in Alabama, and Easter wasn’t even on my radar yet. After church on Sunday, Mrs. Rockwell approached, clutching a plastic bag. Mrs. Rockwell has known me since I was about 8, so she’s used to my quirks.

She thrust out the bag. “I don’t want you to be disappointed this year,” she said.

It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about. The bag contained Reese’s eggs.

I was so touched by her care and concern that I immediately resolved not to touch those eggs until Easter. I would put them in a place of honor, daily remember her kindness, and consume them only after I had been thankful for a good long time.

Those eggs didn’t make it a week. However, I was very thankful, and I thought about Mrs. Rockwell when I later ate the additional two dozen eggs that I purchased after Easter. [Note: I did not consume the eggs all at once. It took me at least two weeks. I think. And I only paid half price. And I bought a box for my sister, and gave it to her unopened.]

Now to the real point of this post. A week or so after Easter, my friend Amy was shopping at Publix, and she happened across a SUPER Reese’s egg. It was huge.

Amy knows all about my peanut butter egg obsession. In fact, Amy found one for me after my crisis last year. I’m forever indebted to Amy.

Anyway, when Amy saw this massive Reese’s egg, she immediately thought of me. Her other thought, according to her was “Ratio!” Amy’s a science teacher. She knows all about ratios.

If a regular egg is better than a regular cup (which is better than a miniature), then surely this super egg would have an even better peanut-butter to chocolate ratio. This would be the golden egg.

This is not the golden ratio. Go for the regular egg instead.

This is not the golden ratio. Go for the regular egg instead.

The picture on the front indicated that this egg did, indeed have a very favorable ratio.

So Amy bought it, tied it up with a bow, and gave it to me. I squealed.

Sadly, I must report that Reese’s is guilty grossly deceptive advertising. As you can see from the picture below, there’s way more chocolate in that egg than the picture showed.

I ate it anyway. And every time I see Reese’s anything, I think about Amy and Mrs. Rockwell. They’re some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I probably shouldn’t end this without pointing out that my parents put Reese’s eggs in my basket probably every year of my childhood, and fed me more chocolate-peanut butter ice cream than I care to think about. They’re the best parents I’ve ever had.

Now, I’m hoping Reese’s will come out with a dark chocolate holiday treat. Heavy on the peanut butter, of course.

Jun
29
2010
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You might be a redneck . . . even if you live in Illinois

My sister Erika just got married and moved to Illinois.

This is particularly notable because Erika and I grew up in Alabama. Lower Alabama, also known as L.A. We eat boiled peanuts in L.A.

I think she is experiencing a little bit of culture shock. There aren’t any boiled peanuts in northern Illinois.

There is corn. Miles of corn. Corn as far as you can see. And very few trees.

Anyway, back to the culture shock. She’s currently living in a very rural area of Illinois. We didn’t grow up in a big city, but it was a city. The city was surrounded by cotton and peanut fields, but we didn’t get out to see them much. In northern Illinois, you can’t miss the corn fields.

So, Erika’s experiencing north-south culture shock and suburban-rural culture shock at the same time.

The other day, while visiting the nearest town, she observed this unusual combination.

You might be a redneck if you transport your mower in a trailer behind your ambulance.

You might be a redneck if you transport your mower in a trailer behind your ambulance.

We can just imagine the scene. Man is dying.

Paramedic: “I’m sorry you’re having a heart attack. Just breathe deeply and think calm thoughts while I unhook this trailer and move my lawn mower.”

Jun
23
2010
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in which my feelings of stupidity become almost comforting

Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I just read about it today, and I can’t decide whether I’m comforted (because I think I’m ignorant) or disturbed (about all of the things that I don’t know that I don’t know).

You can read about it, here.

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Jun
20
2010
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old stairs, old roads, and laundry

I have a thing for old stairs. Don’t ask me why.

old stairs

These are old stairs. Please ignore the graffiti.

These particular stairs were kind of annoying, though. They were too shallow, and too wide. I think they were made that way so that horses could walk up them.

Really.

walking down old stairs

Some people walked down the old stairs like horses, but some decided it was easier to walk down the smooth slope on the side. Like this.

smooth slope

I confess that, until that moment, I had never considered the difficulties of riding a horse on stairs.

I did have a friend who adopted a greyhound who didn’t know how to go up stairs . . .

So the Perugians (is that what they’re called??) live in a city on a hill with stairs built for horses. Naturally, it could be difficult to navigate the city using modern transportation. I think that’s why we parked in a garage and walked all over.

car in Perugia

But the locals seem to be managing just fine. One more picture:

laundry

Can you imagine how annoying it would be if you dropped a sock, though? Or other things . . . how embarrassing!!

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Jun
19
2010
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landscapes 2 (the other side)

It’s too tempting.

Perugia

This is one of those times when I almost regret taking pictures. I think the pictures are supposed to bring back happy memories. They do bring happy memories, but they also bring discontent thoughts.

Really, who wouldn’t want to live in a walled city with a nifty tile roof, surrounded by green trees and a beautiful blue sky? Here’s a closer look in case you aren’t sure.

Perugia, closer

I think it looks amazing.

However, being a debater, I have to look at both sides. So, observation 1–lots of those old houses probably don’t have air conditioning. Observation 2–it’s hot there in the summer. Observation 3–look at the next picture.

Perugia, the crowded side

Observation 3–the houses are crowded, there’s graffiti, there’s lots of stairs, and I still don’t see a grocery store. That makes me feel a little bit better about not living in Perugia.

More about the stairs later.

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Jun
19
2010
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landscapes (they’re different in different places)

When I was kid, we would go on long road trips to visit my grandparents. As we drove through different parts of the country, sometimes I would wonder, “what would it be like to live here?”

I always worried about those people who lived in the mountains, on curvy roads, surrounded by lots of trees and rocks. Miles and miles from the nearest grocery store. What happens when they run out of ice cream?

I’ve always said that my dream home is located on a country road, five minutes from a Wal-Mart.

So anyway, about landscapes. I grew up in lower Alabama, which is relatively flat, and has lots of trees. I didn’t think that we had lots of trees until I visited northern Illinois, where my husband grew up. They have not so many trees.

We had trees, but it was pretty flat, so you usually couldn’t see very far because the trees and buildings got in the way. I think that’s why I always wondered what it would be like to live on a mountain. Unfortunately, my phobia of living more than five minutes away from a grocery story always stunted my imagination on that subject.

Perugia landscape

This is the view from a high point in Perugia, Italy. I think I could get used to seeing this every day. It’s a great view, but there’s plenty of civilization. It’s not really in the mountains, but it’s got the highest hill in the immediate vicinity. Hence the great view.

Unfortunately, things are a bit crowded. And I don’t remember seeing any grocery stores. They probably look different in Perugia, so I didn’t recognize them.

Another Perugian Landscape

Still, isn’t that nice?

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Jun
19
2010
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old places

I like old places.

I’m going through some mission team photos tonight, and I came to this photo.

Old Street SignThis is a street sign from Perugia. Well, it’s sort of a street sign. The “street” was more like a passageway, and it was inside the citadel. Anyway, I think the sign is saying that this is the way to the plaza and a particular church.

I think it’s much nicer than our road signs.

This next picture encapsulates many of my pleasant memories from Italy.

corridorI loved walking down open corridors like this. The shade gave us a break from the heat, but we could look out as we walked along, and sometimes we could feel the breeze. And some of us might have wished that we were princesses gliding along in beautiful dresses, sipping iced tea and eating baci.

And then some of us might have remembered that 1) eating too many baci would make us fat and 2) our modern-day “normal” lives are much more comfortable than any princess’s life. Even princesses had to worry about intruders storming the castle. That’s what the citadel was for (protection, not for tourists).

I still wouldn’t mind having a corridor someday.

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Jun
19
2010
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Dealing with an onslaught of e-mail: ZEB

I’ve been experimenting with various productivity systems over the past 6-12 months. Recently Ashley found a book called The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, which was a very worthwhile read, maybe even rising to the level of “inspiring.”

Dealing with e-mail: ZEB

Like many people that work in the “information economy,” I deal with a ton of e-mail–hundreds of messages every day, and sometimes it seems like I spend all day staring at an overflowing inbox. About a year ago I encountered a blog talking about “ZEB,” an acronym for “Zero E-Mail Bounce.” (It’s a “bounce” because as soon as you achieve it another 10 or 15 e-mails arrive, so it never stays there for long.) (more…)

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Jun
08
2010
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a neckheld book

SLCBookMy friend slc makes books, like the one in the picture. I always love her books, but I’m especially intrigued by her newest creation: a neckheld book.

That’s right. A book, held by your neck. Also known as a book on a necklace. Or should we call it a neckbook? Check it out!

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May
31
2010
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Kudos to Chick-fil-A

When my friend SLC at seemingly random sent a message saying that I could get a free spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A, I was skeptical. I’ve learned that, when restaurants offer free food, people go crazy. Bad things happen. The chances of actually receiving the food are slim.

I signed up anyway.

The process was a little more complicated than I expected. Previously, with other restaurants, I would print out some coupon, and show up (only to find out that they’re out of food, but instead of telling you that, they tell you that your coupon is counterfeit even though it isn’t. Thanks a lot, KFC.). Chick-fil-A had a totally different approach. First, I had to choose my location. Then, I had to choose the date and time I wanted to come. THEN I got to print a coupon, and that coupon had my name and e-mail address. There was a link that allowed me to automatically add an appointment to my Outlook Calendar. The day before, I got an e-mail reminder.

Tim and I drove to Chick-fil-A today, anticipating our sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were parking spaces available. Plenty of people were eating inside, but there was definitely room for us. The employees greeted us, and treated us like valued customers. [I guess that’s not unusual. Chick-fil-A employees are always impeccably polite.]

It was a wonderful experience. Kudos to Chick-fil-A for having a give-away, and for handling it excellently.

This is just another reason why I go to Chick-fil-A on a semi-regular basis, even though it costs a little more than other fast food places. I also love their lemonade. And their icecream. And the chicken.

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