December 29, 2012

To Control, Or Not To Control - Where To Start?


So now, not only are we still feeling the effects of the shooting in Newtown, but a lawyer has seen fit to file a $100 million lawsuit in the name of a surviving child. All because, that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from "foreseeable harm."

The lawsuit also states: "they had failed to provide a "safe school setting" or design "an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol."

Now the argument for gun control has been going on for decades. I, just like a lot of others are still sad by this atrocity. But what is a "Safe School Setting?" Better yet, what is "Foreseeable Harm," when it comes to something like this? This to me, is nothing more then another lawyer trying to get his 15 minutes of fame at the cost of the emotional distress of a small community and children.

So what kind of gun control should we have to prevent this again? Your guess is s good as mine. The only gun control that may have any effect is outlaw/ban all guns period. No hunting rifles, no handguns, no shotguns. Not even water guns sold in stores, paintball guns or a child's BB gun. Because any other type of gun control is pointless. But then if you think about it, so isn't an entire ban on any firearm. Because there will always be away to get your hands on a gun. 

What kind of gun control laws would have prevented the New Jersey cops from being shot by a criminal they arrested in their precinct the other day? None! When you want to do something and you have that inner desire to do it, you're going to. Regardless of your surroundings. 

The real threat, and this is my opinion, are all the drugs this society is on. We have a pill for everything. We pump our foods full of so much garbage, we have 12 and 13 year old girls looking like their 21. We have become lazy as a society. We have an excuse for an excuse for four more excuses. Yet no one wants to sit down and figure anything out because were all "entitled" to everything. 

Go back about four decades. Look at each decade and see what has changed. What has turned us into this holier then thou society. Start to fix that, then other things will fall into place. 

People are always saying "guns kill people." No they don't. They are the chosen weapon of the person who is doing the killing. A person can use anything to kill someone. "But access to guns is easy." So isn't going to the hardware store and buying material to make a bomb. So isn't getting into any car and driving into a store front and running someone over. Even the steak knife purchased off QVC, sitting in my drawer is just as easy to grab to stab someone to death. Should we ban all of these items too?

So where am I coming from? How was my opinion formed that new gun control laws won't help prevent another incident like Newtown, or the death of the firefighters back home an hour away in NY or the cop station in New Jersey?

Simple. It was my up bringing. I grew up in a house full of guns. Rifles, hand guns, shot guns, ammo. But I was also taught to respect these weapons. I knew I was to never touch these. My father taught me at a very young age what these weapons can do to a person. He taught me how to shoot. 

Even after my parents split, and as I got older, I still had respect. Respect for the weapons and respect for the human life. I knew the consequences of any action to be taken and I didn't want those.

Now, I've been shot at a few times. The occasional hunting incident where some jackass from the city comes to the country to hunt and shoots anything that moves. Regardless of the fact i'm decked head to toe in fluorescent orange, you can see me in space. I don't think there was a time, when I hunted, that a round or two flew by my head. Did I want gun control? No. I wanted these people to go back and take more classes, understand what the hell they were doing and pay attention. 

Or the time I was standing in the CVS parking lot one morning with a friend on the way to school. A kid, who my friend got into a fight the day before, decided to show up with a .22 rifle and start shooting. My friend was hit twice, he survived. I escaped by jumping into the dumpster, knowing the rounds wouldn't penetrate the steel.  

The kid ended up in juvenile hall until he was 18. Something like 4 or 5 years. I met him when he got out, as he finished his senior year at school. I had no hard feelings toward him. As at the time, he had some mental issues. And if the guns in his parents house were locked up like they should have been, he never would have gotten his hands on one so easily. Now this kid, is grown into a great man with wife and children. Wouldn't cause harm to no one now. But at that time, he was very disturbed in his head. He could have easily brought a knife and gotten closer and stabbed us both.

Or the time in college, where my neighbor and I were on my balcony sitting and conversing, when there was a drive by up the road. Rounds bounced off my balcony almost hitting us. The next night, there was retaliation and again, more rounds bounced off my balcony. 

And yet, i'm not screaming for more gun control. Because I know it won't work. 

What I am saying is, making more laws on top of other laws won't work. We as a society have to get back to basics. We have to start looking at the root of what's causing this and it's not guns. Start looking at the chemicals were putting into our bodies and we may find a good starting point. Start looking into what is making us want to cause harm to others, another good starting point.
More gun control laws are not the answer. Maybe small reform is a start. But we have to look for the root cause. Then and only then can we as a society start to heal.

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December 20, 2012

Injustice w/o Hero's

Some time ago, I had posted about me possible getting a nice book to add to my collection. I had this feeling I was going to get ripped and I did. I did get the book. just not the one I had one at auction. The seller went on rant after rant and in the end, being who I am, told her to fuck off and kept it.

I knew it was a reprint from the early 70's, so there's nothing wrong there. It was quoted as being un-opened. So she had told both paypal and Listia that she was sending me a second book, so now I would have 2. PFT! Didn't even get the first one.

Being a collector, I'm not going to rip anyone off. If you offer to sell me something I know that's worth more, i'll pay you a little more. It's only fair. Anyway, I've had this book for a few weeks just sitting on my desk, wondering if I should add it to the collection just because it's the first story of Wonder Woman, or put it back up for auction, properly listed.

I've decided to keep it. So for the first one supposedly being unopened, which they did come sealed, the one I got has creases in it, the cover doesn't line up and the packaging, well, I've seen condoms packed better.
I understand when bidding on auctions that when it comes to shipping, real life things happen. So i'm not a hound dog. I will usually give you upwards of 3-4 weeks. But anything after that, you're done for.

So for winning an "un-opened" book, it's not in the greatest condition. But the stories in it alone, are worth it in the end.

So much for being "un-opened" like the seller had claimed

10 cent comics. now their what, $3-4 each??

Original printing was in 1942. This reprint is from 1974

Stories are readable and colors look good for being 30+ years old

Nice fucking packing job

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December 4, 2012

Change

For years, I've been curious to things related tot he occult. Not as in practicing, but reading. Looking at things from a different perspective, as those of different religions look on things. There are a few things however that I do hold close. Not as a fanatic, or that of a theorist. But that of possibilities.

One thing I was good at doing, and I guess you can say it was that of practice was the tarot cards. I did seem to have an ability to read a person and the cards told the rest. Some people have this ability to sit in front of you and make observations and then be ab;e to "read" you. Others, after some time in conversation can do much the same.

Anyway, I've always found that, my tarot card, Death, rings true in a lot of ways. just like the reading of what a Scorpion is.

Death is the thirteenth card, and renders 'total change'. The Death figure wears Osiris' helmet, linking it to the previous card. This is the resurrection -the Hanged Man has been through the agony, and now there is rebirth; the redemption, the salvation, the change had come to pass. 
 Death is the ultimate operative of the natural cycle, destruction being the force in nature that paves way for the new. Change occurs in life, whether desired or not. This has to be met with acceptance. The card also signifies alchemical transformation, and life and death are illusions from a perspective superior to the human senses. To the universe, as a concept of all-there-is, no matter or energy has 'left' it when an organism dies.

This is the definition of the 13th card ion the Tarot deck. This is my card. And trust me, change is inevitable. So now, i'm waiting for a much needed change.



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Mental Bankruptcy

So, I've had two actual interviews since I started job hunting back in May. But I also had two phone screeners. So far, this is all I've had. So either I'm over qualified for anything I'm applying for, or not qualified enough.  But regardless, I need out of my current job and into a new one as of yesterday.

My stress levels have never been this high. Even during those rough periods as a teenager. During which time, there were periods of wondering if we would loose the house. Or the times when our mother was denied any help as a single working parent because she made $14 more then the state allowed to get help. So we would eat macaroni with milk and butter for weeks because it was cheap.

Or the times in collage, where all the money I had from my jobs went to pay bills and school supplies so I ate jelly sandwiches for a month. Because I wanted an education. Which in the end never worked out, because tuition kept going up every quarter, I had no more loans or scholarships to get. But yet, the stress didn't keep me down. Not like it is now.

A few weeks ago, the doctor put me on meds for the stress and anxiety. So far, it has been working. All but one day. I ended up with a customer that broke past the meds and I almost wigged on him. But then, he is a chronic customer and no matter what anyone says to him, including engineering supervisors, he doesn't listen.  That night, my blood pressure doubled and I started to see spots. So I dropped him off to a supervisor on duty and left my desk.

Currently this job has people leaving in exodus. Regardless whether or not they have a follow up job. It's gotten to the point, I have to go for a prevail for more teeth work, as I have an abscess and I can't get the time off. I've rescheduled this appointment from my only day off during the week due to job interviews. And if i just take the day off, I get written up. Gotta love corporate America.

Not to mention the fact that last week, my department had training on how to log in and use Direct Tv's systems, because were going to be supporting Direct TV. There's no rhyme nor reason for it. There's no reason these people can't call Direct TV like all the other customers. It feels like I just started working for Direct TV, but with out pay.

My department use to be one that you strived to get into. It was the best of the best when it came to tech support and projects. But not anymore. It's nothing more then a dumping ground. The morale in the department is at an all time low. And i'm sure if the 40 of us had something to fall back on, it would be left empty.

I read an article the other day over at Stop The Cap from an upset Frontier tech. And his words rang true. So much that it was if he was echoing my company. But in the end, as long as the shareholders are happy, that's all that matters, right?

So now, my company wants to spend $100,000 to move my department and put up a video wall so we can troubleshoot TV issues. No reason for it. We haven't needed one up to this point. Plus an additional $5,000 a month just to feed the video wall. But yet, we can't get a simple raise beyond 1% for the year.

I so need a mental vacation.
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October 31, 2012

A Must For This Day

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October 29, 2012

What's In A Dream?

Back when I was around 25, my younger brother bought his first car. He was 16 at the time. Still didn't have his license, but it was a good project for him. What was it? It was an all original 1973 Nova SS with about 14,000 miles on it.

He had done some summer work for one of our uncles on the farm. Plus helped him rebuild an engine for a truck. So in return, he paid $600 for the car and had it towed home. After a few days, we got it running. And though it was a rust bucket, it purred like a kitten. All matching numbers as well.

We had taken it out on the road at our moms. Just to see what it could do. Four speed manual shift and we both left patch marks through all four gears. Such a BEAST!

It was going to require a lot of work. Mostly a frame off restoration. But it would have been an amazing project car for the both of us, as I had offered him my help. He was the mechanic  but I was good as well. And he kept coming to me for design idea's for color, trim, etc.

But alas, he ended up selling it. He was a dick. Still is sometimes. Told him i would pay the $600, but he said no he wanted eight. In the end, he sold it to some guy neither of us knew for $600. I was pissed. Mainly because, since i was a kid, I was around muscle cars and motorcycles. Everyone had the Impala's and Chevelles, the GTO's and a few GTX's. But no one had a Nova. Unless it was a Nova 2 like my dad's. And The one I did see, I fell in love with and wanted one.

So as I get older, I keep thinking about the car. About how much of a project it would be to restore one to almost factory leaving a little bit to customize. The love and labor it would take to get it and put it together. Then I see dollar signs and my dream starts to fade away into nothingness.

I've seen them for sale from about $7500 to $30,000. From shell's to full running drags. But only a handful of SS's. And most of those are SS clones.

The one I want needs to be matching numbers. A motor that can be stripped down and rebuilt. With the possibilities of a slight overbore. Looking through the factory spec sheet, this is what I want.

Engine manufacturer:
GM Chevrolet L48 (Small-Block V-8 350)
Engine type:
spark-ignition 4-stroke
Fuel type:
petrol (gasoline)
Fuel system:
carburetor
Charge system:
naturally aspirated
Valves per cylinder:
2
Additional features:
4-barrel
Cylinders alignment:
V 8
Displacement:
5733 cm3 / 349.8 cui
Power net:
130.5 kW / 177 PS / 175 hp (SAE net)
/ 4000
Torque:
343 Nm / 260 ft-lb
/ 2800
Top speed:
184 km/h / 114 mph

0-60 mph (s): 9
0-100 mph (s): 
26
0- 1/4mile (s):17



These are factory stock specs for this model. Only difference is mine would be a jet pearl black with white vinyl interior. First generation Cragar SS rims and working AC. Only a few slight minor "current day" modification would be, new style radio for iPod, phone connections, new speakers with amp.

No cup holders, no ashtrays. Just pure muscle under me and an open road in front of me. The first road trip would be down to the Keys across the bridge at sunset.




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October 25, 2012

Sign of Weakness or Just Being Human

Just got back from the doctors. And after a lengthy talk, I learned more about what stress can do to a person. I knew about the breakdowns, etc as i've had one. Knew that too much can lead to things like stroke or heart attack. It's the other things i didn't know. Things that have me in my current predicament  Especially with work.

Is it sad, that even more own doctor advised me to find another company to work for?

The question really is, for a man, is it a sign of weakness that they break down and cry? Not due to loss of friend or family member. But due to the fact they're under so much stress, they just can't take it anymore? A lot of people think men are strong. They fear nothing. Or so goes the myths.

So, as I talked with the doctor, I told him about my breakdown. How I took a seat in the shower and sat there and cried for about an hour. Everything from the loss of family and friends, to the hurting inside. It just flooded me all at once.

He prescribed some meds for my stress. I need to get it under control. Meditation hasn't helped, exercise hasn't helped. Not only is it effecting my head, but my internal body as well. According to him and the results of the tests, the stress is messing up my internal organs. Who knew?

I'm still fighting work about the FMLA papers. I've never had to apply for such a thing before. I hate using things like workers comp, though i have used it once. But since this issue is ready to cost me my job, and the claim keeps being denied....

Am i being human to the point I'm scared as to what will happen if i don't get control? Or am I being weak and need to man up? After all, our forefathers weren't coddled like this. Or were they?
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October 20, 2012

Remember When

I've been searching for a new job for sometime now. While I still have one, it's not in my best interest to stay here anymore. I remember being young and looking for a job. Walk into a store, ask for an application, fill it out and hope for an interview.

Now a days, you have to use on-line forums, on-line sites like Startwire, Career Builder, etc. You have to talk to recruiters and go through phone screener's before you get an actual interview. Then if you get an interview, you might have to go through 2-3 more before you get a job.

Employers have made it the most difficult for people to get jobs. I understand they want the best. Sometimes the best doesn't come with a price tag of a college education. Because even those people don't have real world experience and a lot of them don't have common sense.

So with 15 years customer service and 13 years of real world education in technology, one would think it might be a bit easier to find something. I've phoned and emailed all the time from recruiters with "possible openings." But they always call when I'm physically unable to grab the phone. When  you call them back, you get their voice mail. And then you never hear back from them again.

I would so like to have another full time job before my current one ends.


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October 11, 2012

Sunspots of the Mind

This year has been kind of off for me and this blog. Unlike the past where i tried to post a lot, this year, things haven't been kosher. Stress has ruled my life for the better part of the past year and a half. Got sick from it. Sick to the point of having a small break down.

The job is top priority on the stress list, followed close by family. They have always said, keep fighting and you will get where you want to be. Honestly, I find that a load of crock. As our grandparents fought, only to pass that battle on to our parents, whom in turn passed it to us. Then we will pass that onto our kids.

One can only take so much before they break. Some get lucky and get the break they wanted while others still get up in the morning and lace up for the fight. Yet, regardless of how many times we get knocked down, we get back up for more. It's a rinse and repeat process.

Some say my attitude is negative. But negativity is everywhere today. You try to remove yourself from it, only for it to popup else where. We try, some have better success then others, to smile through the day and keep a happy attitude. Others, it's not so easy to do.

But, be that it may, I keep trudging along. I'm beaten, battered and bruised. Yet, everyday, I get up, lace up my gloves, put in my mouth piece and climb through the ropes. IF that's what you want to call success, then i'm successful. But I thought success was the ability to enjoy the years of hard work you put in.

Right now, i'm looking to move on to the next chapter. My book is far from being done. Matter of fact, I need to add some colored pages to it, as the black and white is getting a little blah on me. So, as the bell rings for this round, I'm scouting out the next opponent. I can say with certainty, that i've won this round. Though i fell like shit, i am walking away on my own feet and under my own power.

Maybe that's what success is?

Anyway, i'm hoping to get back to this a bit more here soon. I love this place. I love writing and mumbling.

BTW, if your TV goes out, it's due to sun spots!
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September 18, 2012

What's wrong with tech support?

One of the tech sites I follow on a regular basis has an article up, asking this very question. I'm  not going to copy and paste the whole thing, so click this link and read.

They are asking from both customers and techs to answer the question. So I will formulate my answer and leave it in their comments. However, I will start them here.

My answers are in no particular order either. But are as follows:


Accountability
Training
Caring
Organization
Accountability
Knowledge
Communication
Morale

As a tech at a big ISP, i've been a round the block. First, when i started, we had 6 weeks of training. They drilled us on all aspects of the elements both internal software and external hardware. Now, training is like 2 weeks and a tiered system. And the reps have no idea what they are doing. Which in turn pisses customers off. Which in turn pisses off the next tech because now they are getting the raw end. Companies need to train their reps so they know what they are doing. We used to have regular meetings to go over things and learn from. Now, these are far and few between. Start hiring for the positions and not for asses in seats. Putting someone in a PC help desk position who doesn't know the very basics isn't going to help.

Everyone from the field tech if your company has them, all the way up to the suits that sit at the round table need to be held accountable. Companies need to make sure that if they have a product, no matter how big or small, any and all documentation is easily available for help to both the consumer and the tech for reading. My company seems to be missing a lot of documentation or it's scattered across multiple sites. Thus making my job harder because now I have to search for it. Thus it makes the call longer. Especially on issues that you may cross once in a month or every few months.

Tech's who do not do their job responsibly or appropriately, need to be held accountable, as well as their supervisor. Too many outsource centers and/or vendors don't. This is a big thing that really gets under not only customers skin but fellow techs as well. No notes left, poor troubleshooting, etc.

Techs are customers as well. Customers know this. Techs need to start caring about things. At the same time, customers need to show restraint and stop belittling techs. I for one will not help you when you start swearing at me and calling me names. If you want my help, then you must show me a little respect and I will do what ever I can to help. A lot of time, even going past my scope of support. Nothing irritates a veteran tech more then being called a jackass, or any other name in the book.

Stop the up-selling. I know business are here to make money. However, when you have customers in area's that are effected by certain situations and your docking your employees because they're not selling enough, they are going to sell customers things they don't need, can't have, etc. Then the customer is overly pissed and it comes back onto the company and the next tech  they talk to.  If your going to up-sell, make sure the customer can have it first, then explain it to them. Make sure they understand it. If there is any questions, don't sell it.

Companies have to keep employee morale up. When it is down, it shows to the customer and the customer gets the wrong end of the stick. Communication from the top down and not just the bottom up when things go wrong is the key. Most large companies, especially ISP's and other major companies fail to realize this. Make sure your employees know why things are changing. This way they can answer customer questions and not look like an ass when they can't. It turns customers away. A lot of companies are switching to "Super Techs." Meaning one tech can trouble shoot every products the company has. In away, this is good. But it's also the fastest way to burn out. If a company doesn't mind the high rate churn of employees, then this is the way to go. In the end, the customer will never get good results,as the next tech they hire will be on their last leg or have someone new with no experience.

Customers as well as techs need to have knowledge. A lot of customers I talk to on a daily basis do not know the very basics. What is a URL/Address Bar, how to use a TV remote. How to power on their new flat screen TV, how to shut off a pc with out unplugging it, etc. This irks a tech more then they realize. Knowing the basics will keep a 10 minute call to 10 minutes. Not knowing just moved that time out to 20-30 minutes.  And if the tech doesn't know the basics, then that also moved the call out.

Companies need to start listening to their front-line employees. They are the ones who are dealing with the day to day problems. They are the ones finding the fixes, the work arounds until the project teams can implement actual fixes. Instead, a lot of this information is ignored and the issues go on. Thus, putting customers into another rampant mood.

Above all else, let the techs fix the issue. A first call resolution. Now, there are times this won't happen. But if you empower the tech to do what they can, with in support and not harp on them because they took 45 minutes to fix the issues so the customer doesn't have to call back in again, then the customer will be happy.


There are more that I can go over, but these are the first things that pop into mind.




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September 9, 2012

Artistic Map Way of Conscious

I remember growing up, always being one full of questions. Regardless of the situation, I always need to know more. At one point, I was told kids should be seen an not heard. Well, that may have been fine and dandy back in the days of King Arthur, but not to me.

I remember being forced to go to Sunday school as a kid. I hated it so. Not so much because of what i was learning. but because no one could or even answered the questions I had. So it was an early start to not liking organized religion. I'm not overly faithful, in the sense of religion. I do believe there is some sort of higher power. But i'm a person of science, physical proof.

I remember when my cousin got married. I walked into the church and though it were full of about 100 plus people, it felt like this massive empty cavern. There was no warmth or cold. No shinning light. Just a massive hall with a deafening echo. I figured I should have felt something, after all I was in a supposed House of God.

I've always respected others for their beliefs, but try not to get into religious discussion, as some people just go insane and get violent. My own beliefs? Not even sure I know what they are. Yet anyway.

But what I find funny though, is through out my artwork, it's full of angels. Not some glorious, horn blowing, pearly gate angels. But angels of battle. Weapons, armor and the things that should strike fear into a person. Yet on the other side of that coin, there is some grace and elegance to them as well.

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from a movie, The Prophecy.

Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?

I guess it's my queer way of looking at hypocracy and all the things that we deal with in our lives. We all struggle to be the best we can and to live in ways that make us comfortable. Some of us find guiding ways while others don't.

Sometimes we yearn for things we can't have and even times we seek things to make us feel better. And yet, a lot of times, I honestly don't think we even know what these things are. For me, since I don't seem to have any feelings toward religion and God, I look to myself for guidance and answers. And more time then not, I don't find what i'm looking for. Though it can be slapping me across the face. Sometimes, i come up with even more questions then I had going in. And come out more confused.

So when I sit at this computer and I start doing art. Part of it is what i'm looking for. Part of it is questions that I have that I haven't been ab'e to get answered. Sometimes it seems it's even a shimmer of hope to point me in a direction that will make me feel comfortable.

Be it these "battle angels," or some form of dark mythical images, I seem to be creating a road map of my mind. Right now, there is a battle raging with in. But i'm hoping that with this artistic map, all can be settled and out scathing or too much collateral damage. As the old saying goes, "X" marks the spot. I'm still following the dotted line.
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September 7, 2012

Stress or No Stress?

So the Dr told me awhile ago, I need to manage my stress better. How do I do that I asked. His reply was "get up and walk away."

Told him that was impossible without getting fired. Seeing how I deal with the public everyday, and for the most part, 80% of all my interactions are people who have no common sense at all. And out of that 80% about 50% of these people do everything they can to push your buttons.

People say, don't let it bother you. Easier said then done. Then they want to argue that point. And I understand their point. However, when you get yelled at all day, called all the names in the book each day, after awhile, it wears on you.

Like today. This customer kept talking over me. Then when I would let him finish, he would ask if I was going to say anything. Then when i would respond, he would start yelling at me again. All to the point, he pissed me off. And if he lived local, I probably would have been arrested.

The stress has been so bad for the last year and a half to two years, when i get upset, my entire left side of my face quivers. I can't talk. I can't think.

The stress isn't just work related. It everything actually, friends, family. Looking for a new job is only adding to the stress. Trying to work out friendships is adding to it. Trying to figure out what the hell i'm doing is adding to it.

For the longest time, I have been able to manage it. But I guess the time has come when I am struggling.
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July 7, 2012

The Looking Glass

Tonight, I've done something I haven't done in a long, long, long time. Had a few drinks and got behind the wheel. Now before you start ripping me a new asshole, no, I wasn't drunk. But i did have a  good buzz going. However, by time I left, the buzz was gone.

See, a little over five and half years ago, I started my current job. New place, new experience, hell, new state. When I had started, like a lot of people, I was a little cold to other people, as I was the new kid. Like in middle school.

At this time,  the team I was assigned to consisted of a lot of "green" techs. We struggled together, we laughed together. We started to grow up together. I had given myself a year with this company to start moving up the ladder. And that's exactly what happened. Not only myself, but another of my teammates were hand chosen to foot a new project. A project that we knew could work and a project that had potential to make the company  a lot of money.

During the time leading up to this, the company was in a conversion. Three million customers needed to be converted. Day after day, we would show up to work and we knew the phone ques were backed up to 3-400 hundred. And yet, we didn't care. Smiles on our faces, good attitudes, we did our jobs. We respected those in positions above us and wanted to join them one day. For those picked for this project, now was our chance.

With a team of 10 people, we worked our asses off to get methods, procedures and the work down. We made business case after business case to get what we needed. It worked.

Flash forward 4 years. Through a corporate buyout, cut wages, removed benefits and a lot more, this team continued. At one point each member on the team was working with up to six customers at the exact same time, and yet it still was enough for corporate. Then one of our team members had an idea. This team member was also one of the guys that was on my original team when I had started, who came into this department after it was well established.

This guy took his idea to our bosses boss. With some straight forward talk, so straight forward numbers, he was given the position of project lead and assembled a team. I was part of that team. Not because we were best buddies. We barely spoke. But because of my abilities as a designer, thinker and trouble shooter. So a team of six people, with a timeline of 6 weeks, created a piece of software from the ground up, which none of us ever attempted before. We finished in five!

During the "meetings" the software was presented. Everyone, including regional directors loved it. We got the green light to start the Beta test. We took 10 of our most problematic customers, called them, and got them as our testers.  These people who would call every other day, each week for basic nonsense, no longer called us. Why? Our software was solving their problems. The way they looked at the numbers, the software was saving the company $840 a day, just for us six techs. Multiple that by three to four calls a week, you see where that is going. Then suddenly, without warning, they pulled it out from under us. They outsourced the department and killed the project.

Tonight, the guy who started the project left the company. For the last year and a half, we have all just gone with the flow. We have all gotten up in the mornings, said WTF, i need to work today, and drudgenly took our asses to work.

As I was getting ready to leave tonight, I shook his hand as I was stood there, weaving back and forth with the amount of alcohol I had consumed. On an empty stomach no less. He looked at me and hugged me. We embraced for a moment or two and the world seemed to have stopped. We let the embrace fall, yet our hand's still tightly clasped together. As I said thank you, he whispered, "no need."

He went on to say, we watched this company go from a place that respected its employees. A place where even on a bad day you were happy to come to work. To a place that it feels like there are bars on the windows, your no longer a name but a number. We watched as this newly formed company, made the country's most hated company list with in its first three years of existence.

 Over the course of the last 5+ years, we had come to admire each other, respect each other to the point, we would never have to question each other.

So my buzz, now gone. I was no longer swaying. We had talked for about ten minutes, while the other dozen or so people around us kept laughing and joking. As I got in my car, I sat there a moment. Wiped a tear away and started the car. As I looked up in the mirror, I saw cops behind me with a car pulled over.

As I drove by work, I swear out of the corner of my eye, the sign on the front no longer read Centurylink, but it read Embarq. The old company name.

As I pulled into the driveway, I took a deep breath. I got out and turned and stopped. I looked down in my hands to see my keys. The reason I stopped drinking many years ago, is I could drive better when i was bone drunk. Straight lines, curves, speed limit. I looked back at the car and I swear I saw a younger me sitting in the driver seat.

I saw the young me who couldn't walk or stand because I was so drunk, but yet i could drive with out an issue. I could see the deer up ahead and slow down enough to not hit them. Could have a cop follow me for a mile and not pull me over because there was no swerving or speeding. But I also saw the young me who was so drunk and flirting with a girl, who had missed his ride home one night. Only to waken the next morning to find out that the friends I was to ride home with had crashed and died on the scene.

Then it hit me. I realized, as human beings, we fuck up. We make excuses for ourselves. But it's also us human beings that bring the best out of each other. We learn from each other. We come to understand and respect each other.

I realized, if it wasn't for this co-worker, I never would have known what I was made of. So I wish him and his lady, the best for the future. He was able to get out. A little after other, but before a lot more of us. I hope the road before them isn't as bumpy as the road he just turned off of.
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July 2, 2012

It's Hard To Beleive

Last month, twenty years ago, I graduated high school.  It's hard to believe it's been that long. As There are days that it feels like yesterday. In these twenty years, I was lucky enough to do some traveling across the country. I have gone to college and the military. I have meet some amazing people that had some kind of effect on my life and those that were just ignorant asses that I can't forget fast enough.

I've watched the world change, for the worse so far. And at the same time, I've seen the people of the world rise up and tell those in charge we've had enough. I remember conversations in economics class and history class that are or have come true. I've watched history repeat itself, and I've seen history made.

There are maybe a couple of things I would have like to change if I could go back in time. But for the most part, my past is me. What happened made ME.

I'm not some multimillionaire, or an owners of some fortune 100 company. But I have left my marks here and there. A conversation I had with a real good friend over at Google affirmed this. It's not what I'm supposed to do, it's just what happens. I don't need to have it all to have a positive effect on someone.

So here's to another twenty years of being me. Another twenty years of ups and downs and pushing ahead. To making more friends. But I will say this with affirmation, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. As I'm not grown up yet. I don't think I want to fully grow up just yet.


June 1992

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June 30, 2012

What Is Customer Service?

I've been working in some form of customer service role for the better part of my entire work career. Everything from McDonalds at 16 to my current position as a tech rep and everything in between. Over the years, I've watched, listened and learned. Not just from fellow employees, but from customers.

It's gotten to the point, that I can take the average irate customer and calm them down and help solve their issues. The ones who don't, oh well.

Not to my surprise, I read an article today based on the, The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reports. The company I currently work for was ranked the in the top 15 most hated companies in the US out of 255. Damn were shooting for the stars here.

Upon further reading, it states we plummeted 6% to an industry low of 66 out of 100 points for landline customer service. The best part about this? The companies only three fucking years old. Guess that's what happens when you get bought out by greed.

Here's the thing though. The company has a set of so called "Unifying Principles." A set of what you might say are ethics, that it's supposed to stand by.  But alas, the employees can't even get the board, supervisors or anyone to stand by them. Even the company as a whole doesn't stand by them. Let's have a look at them, (they can be found on the companies website).

Fairness – The Golden Rule
We will strive to:
• Exercise fairness in all dealings with customers.
• Treat business associates fairly in all transactions.
• Compensate and promote employees in an equitable manner.
• Be fair in efforts to meet and exceed the expectations of our shareholders.
• Treat others as we would like to be treated.
 

Honesty and Integrity
We will:
• Be truthful in all dealings with customers, employees, shareholders, business associates and the general public.
• Strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that will merit the respect of customers, employees, shareholders, business
associates and the general public.
 

Commitment to Excellence
We will strive to:
• Provide high-quality services and products in an efficient manner.
• Deliver the best possible customer experience.
• Provide favorable long-term value to our shareholders.
 

Positive Attitude
We will strive to:
• Emphasize the positive in all dealings with customers, employees, shareholders, business associates and the general
public.
• Approach every task in a positive manner with energy and enthusiasm.
 

Respect
We will strive to:
• Maintain genuine concern for fellow employees, customers, shareholders and business associates.
• Recognize and respect each employee, each customer, each shareholder and each business associate as an
individual.
 

Faith
We will strive to:
• Maintain confidence in our abilities as individuals to fulfill our assigned responsibilities.
• Trust in the capabilities of our company leaders and fellow employees.
• Have confidence that the strength of our combined, collaborative efforts will lead us to fulfill our company mission.
 

Perseverance
We will strive to:
• Continue to work toward our mission, goals and objectives in spite of obstacles and in a manner consistent with our
Unifying Principles.


I can say with a good amount of certainty, these are a load of crock. Why is that? Well...

The company no longer gives new employees adequate training. Most of the new hires don't know anything about their job when they get out of maybe a week, two at most now of training. When I started, we had six weeks. We knew what we were doing when we hit the floor. They don't hire anyone with any computer skills for the tech positions. Most of the new hires in the tech positions can't even run a computer.

We have customers in permanent bandwidth exhausts because they won't spend the money to upgrade the infrastructure. We have customers in bandwidth exhausts that have been going on over 6 months and in some cases over a year. Why? They won't spend the money to fix it. Yet they will charge you full price for the service you don't get. And keep funneling money into new projects that they can't even get running smoothly. On top of that, the sales reps try to sell you higher speeds either knowing you wont get it, but they get sales credit. Or not knowing you can't get it because they were never properly trained.

If you have our IPTV service, you get preferential treatment when it comes to dispatches. Meaning, your dispatches takes precedence over someone who doesn't have the IPTV service, even though they had tickets in first.But you don't get decent troubleshooting skills because it's not allowed.

They want to keep their cash cow tech support in outsourced centers instead of in house, and keep the basics of all support to a low level knowledge support. While training on outdated processes and procedure with broken tools. Which, the processes and procedure are written by people who have boldly claimed, they don't know how to take the calls they written the shit for. Can you say, teach me how to replace a points and condenser in your car when you don't know what the fuck it is?

How about taking so much away from it's employees, that the morale and attitudes is so low and make them loose money on their 401k's because you forced them to invest their money when they have no control over it. Or how about writing up an employee because he had to leave work a few hours early because his wife was in a car accident and didn't know if she was alright?

How is it fair to employees when they have one department doing the jobs of five other departments with no raise, no thanks but a "you're not meeting your numbers" attitude? Or even the fact that, you can work at home for the company. But you have to live in territory, which is fine. But force the employee to buy the services just for work? And if there is a network outage because of equipment failure, take it out of the employees paid time off? Not fair. Don't hire employees for work at home that can't go to the office if and when it always happens.

How is it fair, honest and show any respect to a customer, when the service they pay for is always broken. And yet all you can do is band aid it until they call in again tomorrow? Or buy off politicians in states to prevent a city from running it's own infrastructure because you don't want to service the area, yet don't want no one else to either?

And there is no commitment to excellence when even the engineers say were shooting ourselves int he foot with our own product because it doesn't work.  Yet it continues to be pushed and pushed to distances that shouldn't have it, thus upsetting the customer base even further,

I can see why our company made this list. They don't care about anyone but the share holders that can make them more money. They cut cost and corners so much, they don't see a straight line of sight anymore. If they would actually take a step back, look, listen and learn, then word of mouth and articles like this won't bare effect on us anymore.

I can say I no longer wake in the morning, knowing I have to go into work. It's an Aw Fuck moment each day. The fun of the job has all but been funneled away.

They tell us, "well, you're only getting the calls from the broken ones." Obviously it's all broken or lists like this would never mention our name. Or even get a whiff of us.




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June 20, 2012

A Little AA?

So a friend put it bluntly. I'm too damn bitter and angry all the time. Point is, she is correct. For as long as I can remember, I've spent more time carrying about others well being then my own. I've done what i could for others before myself. And during this time, I've never asked for anything in return.

But for awhile now, mostly the last three to three and a half years, things have gotten to the point that i've become an angry bitter person. I am surrounded by a lot of negativity at my job and for awhile at home. And in turn, it's taken it's toll on me.

A toll so much, that I actually had a melt down and hurt this friend in the process. Something I never would have done before. Guess I finally found something I didn't know how to handle. And i made choices that were not of best intentions.

So my friend told me enough is enough. It's time to start with me again. And I agree. Now, I just need to figure that out. How does one go from so many years of caring and putting others first, to putting oneself first? How does one go about telling people no, in order to keep oneself happy and even just content? I've always been a great listener. But I never listened to myself.

Is there a 12 step program? Is there a hotline? Or is it something one has to do alone or go about it with a little push from friends?

To be 100% honest, this bitterness, this anger, it's not me. Yes, everyone has their days. But day in and day out? No. So I guess I will have to take it one day at a time.

I think I have hit the boiling point. Something my friend had said just today, made me think about it. As yesterday, my Xbox account was hacked and over $100 in charges occurred to my bank account. Was i mad? Yes. Was I pissed? No. I actually laughed. I've been laughing about it all day today. But it's a sadistic laugh. Any normal person would be irate. I am not. So something is not right. But despite this issue and what's happened in the last few days, I've been in a good mood. Unexplained!
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June 18, 2012

Messed up Fathers Day

So i called my dad yesterday to wish him a happy fathers day.  he sounded like he was glad to hear from me. but then the tone kinda went under as he told me he had back surgery 2 weeks ago.
He didn't tell me, as he didn't want to upset me then. but as a result of this surgery, if it doesn't heal right, he may never work again. come to find out, he has a degenerative disease that decays the spinal bones. and it may come sooner rather then later, he may never be able to walk again.

Every since his mom died the week of my birthday last year, he's been in the dumps. he's kinda in the same boat as im in. work wise anyway. he's held 3 jobs in the last 40+ years. he's that dedicated, but at the same time he knows what comes first.

Then during this conversation, it came out about my breakdown awhile ago, you remember that right?! Anyway, he said he's sorry that he isn't able to help me right now. WTF????
Isn't it me who should be helping him? i mean after all, it was him who bought me my first two cars when i couldn't. it was him who sent me money in college for meds after a few days int he ER when no one else could or would. It was him, who took it upon himself for 37 years, to raise me as his own child, knowing I wasn't.

His only blood child is living back with him now to help around the house. and he will need it come fall to do all the wood and what not.
I knew one day, i would have to help take care of my parents. but it feels too soon. im only 38. my moms struggling to survive. now this.

I feel lost again. feel like i can't do enough. the job market in NY state is 10's worse then it is here. the politicians are doing everything they can to drive people out while the taxes go through the roof. and that whole area has some "spell" over it. as it just brings you down.  that's why i was glad i got out when i did.
I was always good at handling stress. but i guess not good enough because of what happened last time. im afraid i might break again. just because i know there's nothing i can do to help those that have helped me all these years.

You know. life sucks the biggest, smelliest pair of fucking monkey balls there is. and if this is, some kind of test, well i have a pair of size 12 feet that im going to turn sideways and put up someones ass and make them smile while i do it.

I can't help but feel helpless when not only am i struggling to get by again. but my close friends (which there are like 2 or 3) and my family. i was raised a lot better. but i just don't know what to do anymore.
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June 8, 2012

Blissful Ignorance

In the time that I was able to travel this land we call home, I've been able to see a lot, meet a lot of different people. I've met people who are hard working and I've met people who want everything for nothing. And it's the later that really gets under my skin.

Doing what I do day in and day out can be and for the most part is very stressful. For the better part, I can deal with just about anything you can dish out. But it's finally come to the point that my stress can't handle it anymore. It's mainly the ignorance that comes with.

I take, that life no longer requires people to think. Or process information before opening your mouth. Today a lone, I've been accosted enough, that if these people were in front of me, they would have been buried where they stand. I'm not one for violence, since I was bullied most of my life. But it's gotten to the point, that it seems people don't understand anything but violence. Because they sure as hell don't understand common sense.

Perfect example, when you switch from one cable tv provider to another and your new provider doesn't carry the exact same channel line up as the previous one did. And demanding the new one carries the same line up as the old one is not the way to have a conversation. And to threaten a rep, you crossed a line.

That's like telling your mechanic that he has to use the exact same tools as the old mechanic, or that the Ford factory has to use the exact same paint as the Chrysler factory, because that's what you want.

Things don't work that way. There's different services for a reason. Before you switch, do your homework. Don't threaten others because of your inability to understand.

I really just wish people would quit being so fucking ignorant. That would be a great start.
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May 30, 2012

Back To The Three C's

WARNING: This is a rant and I will be speaking what's on my mind. So if you're easily offended, leave now.



We as a general society have become lazy and inept to do basic functions. It seems, the moral's and hard work of our grandparents has all gone to waste. What was one hard work and dedication to make a living and make better lives for ourselves has become nothing more then a flash in the pan, wanting everything or free and without working for it. At the cost of abusing others in the process.

Of what do I speak of? Well, the next time you our and about, do some people watching. Listen, pay attention and you'll know exactly what I mean. You, yourself maybe even guilty as charged. And yet, you may not know it, or you know it and don't care.

I've been a big leader on the Three C's, (Common Sense, Common Courtesy and Common Decency) for a long time. It's something I've spoken of and written about in the past. The more I look at the wide eyed world of today's society, those things don't seem to exist anymore. And trying to keep them a reality, seems like fighting a loosing battle. And it's us we have to blame. not just us as an individual, but us as a society, corporations, elected officials. The list  goes on and on.

Perfect example: At work, my department has started taking calls to support the IPTV services we offer. Which is normally handled by an outsource center. There is failure all the way around on this. Both on our side as well as the customer side.

Our side for example, they trained my dept using outdated material. In hopes that we wouldn't catch on. However, we did, brought it up and are fighting to get it all fixed. We were told, they want "Super Techs." The ability to work all the services we offer from one tech. Yet, the pay, the training and documentation is lacking in more ways then one. When you have very well qualified technical people, who have been with the company for 5+ years wanting to now walk out, somethings wrong.

It's not a bad thing to do some extra work from time to time. But if I have to do the work of five different departments, and in the course of five years, have earned a total of $2.33 in raises, while the board and CEO make millions? When I am told one thing, and the total opposite happens leaving me in a bind, unable or unclear how to proceed on doing the job effectively and efficiently? Not only do I loose out, but my customer looses out as well. And it makes not only me look bad (which I hate), but it makes the company look bad.

When you know the product you're selling doesn't work as advertised, and your employees are not trained to full capacity, forcing your customers to be bounced around, you take the chance on loosing your customers. Thus costing you more money in the end then it did in the beginning. And due to this, you start making more cuts and in the end, while you as a board member or CEO still rake in the millions, you take it away from your employees.

If corporations played into the Three C's, a lot would change. And it would change for the better. Take Facebook as an example. Their whole IPO, it's inflation, it's loss, all based on greed. No Common Sense there. If there was, they wouldn't be loosing money on the IPO, they would be making money. They wouldn't have as many lawsuits on them now as they do.



Now, let's get to the real matter of this rant. Us as a consumer, user and all around general public. Open your damn eyes and pay attention! Life is hard, but it's not rocket science.

Perfect example, and again, this goes back to what I am doing at work. It's Common Sense, that when using a TV remote, you push the Up/Down channel buttons to change the channel. You push the guide button to bring up the cable guide to see what's on and the power button is used to turn the device off.

If you have had the service for any length of time, be it our service, Time Warner cable, Comcast or any other cab;e service, it's all the same. Yes, the listing line up will change. But the remote does the same damn thing. It might be yellow or black. it might be grey and green. But the buttons do the EXACT SAME SHIT.

So if you call and ask me how to get the guide up, and i can see you've had our service for more then six months, I'm bound to get a little crabby with you. If you call and ask how to change the channel and you've had the service for more then six months, I'm bound to want to bitch slap you.

See people, just because technology has changed, doesn't mean the process has. You still turn the devices on the same way. You still put the key in the car ignition and turn it like you did 30 years ago. You still check the oil the same way you did 30 years ago. The only difference is, the technology change to make the car safer then it was 30 years ago.

When you switch services, DO NOT expect the service with another company to be identical with the one you just left. It never happens. Never has happened. That's why you switched insurance companies. The new one offered better deals, but didn't have a few things your other one did.

So because you don't have a Western TV channel, that's no reason to up in arms. Because there is no Soapnet, it's no reason to cancel. If your entire life revolves around watching soaps all day, go read a fucking book. You might get something out of it.

Also, if you break something, don't expect your provider, insurance company or whomever to fix it. Your insurance company isn't going to fix your cd player in the car because you got pissed and snapped a cd off in it or your kid decided it was a good place to put his NERDS. Just like your cable provider isn't going to fix your TV because while you decided to move it, you broke the coax connector on the back, so now you no longer can get service to that TV. That is not our fault, so there is no reason to bitch and complain because the "our service" isn't working.

Take some damn time to learn how to use the gadgets, products and features of what ever it is you have. If more people took the time to learn and understand, instead of looking for the easy way out of things, we as a society would grow much stronger. This includes both sexes, all races and all generations.

Because the next time I go to the store and your bitching because Customer Service won't take back the gas powered weed eater you bought, stating it never work from the beginning, and you hand the lady a bag full of nuts, bolts and springs, telling her you thought you could make it work so you took it apart? And now you want a full refund, I'm just going to end up in jail because I will knock your ass out.

And the next time your kid starts using curse words at employees because they are out of the Happy Meal toy they wanted and they are only 7-8 years of age, and you stand there and do nothing but encourage the kid, I will knock you out and spank your damn kid.

It's time to wake up and start acting like people who want to move forward.





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May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I was in the Army from 93-97. Learned a lot, met a lot of great people and met a lot of assholes. But, it wasn't until I got out and got back home, that I really understood.

I had my reasons for joining the military, and at the time, none of them had to do with pride. It wasn't until I made a trip to the Legion, a town over, that I had witnessed what I would recall history.

On the octagon monument out front, were the names of all the soldiers from the town that had served in the armed forces going all the back to the Revolution. And a majority of those names were family members. Including those in the Revolutionary War.

I was stunned? A little speechless. As the Legion has always stood in front of the town park, not once as a kid did I ever pay attention to the monument. My goal as a kid was to get to the playground, play and get home by time the street lights came on.

As I went inside, dressed in my Class A uniform, I met with a lot of other soldiers from various branches, all dressed to the hilt. It was 7am, it was breakfast. The old men, some whom I knew, were telling war stories and others were just listening. See, today was Memorial Day. And I had been asked by a friend of the family, who had also served in the Army to come down and march in the parade. But more importantly, they were shy one person for the trips to the local cemetery's. So I had agreed.

Most of these men were family or friends of the family. But there were also a handful I didn't recognize. And it was one of those men, who at first, I caught giving me "the look." But when he caught a glimpse of the jump wings on my chest, he grinned and motioned for me to sit next to him. He had to be in his late 50's, early 60's (i can't quite recall though). His name was Raymond. And he had served in WWII in the 101st. We had a long talk, and though he was old enough to be my grandfather, the look in his eye was that of respect. And he had the respect in return.

After breakfast, we had all gotten into our vehicles and followed the lead car. Now, growing up in this town and area all my life, I knew where all the cemeteries were. And it was our job on this day, to go to each, and salute our fallen brothers and sisters. Well, i thought I knew where they all were. There were some buried in the hillsides that were almost long and forgotten. And those few, the stones were nothing more then soldiers. Not one civilian was buried there that I could tell. So we had our prayer service at each one, followed by a 21 gun salute. After the last cemetery, we made it back to the Legion to prepare for the parade. This was now a ritual for the next few years.

At times, I consider myself luck. As I never saw combat. Yet at the same time, I consider myself unlucky, because for those who have, I don't know what they've gone through.

Back in 95', half of my battalion went to Panama, the rest stayed home. This would have been the only chance I would have gotten to experience anything in the field. As of 2004, the battalion was deactivated and reassigned to the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment.

But after my first meeting with Raymond, I had come to respect all my brothers and sisters. It's not just on two days a year, but everyday. I just wish my family had taught me about it when I was younger, instead of just having BBQ's, family fights, etc. And I wish more kids knew what it's about.

So to all those that have served, thank you.
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May 13, 2012

Reflections

People deal with things a lot differently then the others around them. Whether its joking at a funeral or the loss of a loved one, or hiding their true emotions, people have different ways to deal with their inner self. And it wasn't until this weekend that I realized, I had lost faith, belief and love in myself.

As I was standing in the shower this evening, I broke down for the second time this weekend and I started to cry. I  have been so lost and confused for the better part of this last year and a half, that it all finally came crashing down on me. And for the first time in a very very long time, I felt as though I were drowning inside.

Every once in awhile, a person comes along into your life and you connect. You become great friends. You laugh together, you cry together and you get through the thick and thin together. This, had happened to me not to long ago. But be it, in the real world or on the internet, people are real regardless of whether or not you can see their face as we all have true feelings, this person came to me through the internet.

The more this person and I had communicated, we had "clicked." This person helped me through a lot of rough times, internal struggles and more. But during this time, I had failed. I had failed myself. I had failed to realize what I was and who I was. And in the end, it was this person whom I failed most of all.

You see, as we go through life, we all experience different things. Some good, some bad and some that have lasting effects on us. We all learn to cope with these things in our own way. My way was to always hide. What I mean by that is, to hide from myself. And there has been a lot going on personally, work and at home that has just built up over time. And I was hiding from it. Only to talk to this person to find comfort.

I was never one to talk to someone to discuss my feelings or emotions. Especially to those involved. Over the years, I've opened up and started to do what I had hid from for so many years. Though I am still struggling to express to those involved.

This weekend when it all came crashing in one me, I had told this person I could no longer have this friendship.  Reason being, I failed. I was lying to myself. I was manipulating myself into believing something was happening, though it was not. And I feel it was because I could trust and confide such deep personal emotions into this person. I was hurting myself inside, that I could no longer take it.

After the events, I had realized I just made an even bigger mistake. I just now, truly fucked up. As I got out of the shower this evening, I wiped the steam from the mirror and stared into my reflection. I watched as my tears rolled down my cheeks. And I saw an emptiness, I had never seen before in my eyes. And I wondered if I could ever restore what had just been broken.

I have since apologized to this person. Whether or not this person gives me a second chance, that's up to them. And I fully understand if they don't.  But I know now, that I need to work on me. I need to restore the faith I once had in myself. I need to start loving me again. Once I can do that, then I know I will be a better person as I once was.  The person that would give and never ask for anything in return. The person that would offer a helping hand just because I could.

I'm posting this publicly because like a lot of other real world issues, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, you have to take the first step and admit. Though this is nothing as harsh as the aforementioned ,  I still need to admit, I need to start in believing in myself again.

Just like everyone else, I deal with things the way I know how to. But now it's time to learn a new way of dealing. But I cried enough today, more so then I cried when my grandmother passed away just a few months ago, that I'm tired.

In the end, we cannot forget who we are and what makes us. For if we do, life becomes harder then what it needs to be. And innocent people get hurt.

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May 12, 2012

Farewell

I lost a good friend this weekend. A friend that was there for me as a voice of reason when I needed it. Problem is, it was all my fault. I was longing for something more then just friendship. But she wouldn't have it. There's a lot going on in my head right now and in the end, I told her I couldn't do it anymore. I just hope she forgives me. And we can still be friends.
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Offer


I cannot offer you the world.
I cannot offer you the moon.
I can offer you me.
I can offer you everything I am.
Can you take my offer?
Will you take my offer?

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May 9, 2012

Time For the Midlife Crisis?

It's been awhile since I put anything up. A lot has been going on. At times it almost seems like I'm a little crazy in the head. Though the niece has moved out of the house, the stress levels at work have picked up and taken her place.

I get to go see a Gastroenterologist today. Not sure what to expect, since I've heard all the horror stories. Maybe I could do a Google Hangout from the room? Might ease my tension a  bit.

With so much going on at work, no one really seems to know if they are coming or going. Which makes it hard. Because with the new training coming up, they are asking us to "dumb down." Which is as bad as asking us to lie to the customer when we know full well what's going on. But that's a longer story in and of itself.

Think it's time I go see a shrink. The way I've been feeling for the better part of a year, year and a half, It almost feels like some form of depression. Not wanting to do  anything, talk to anyone, no socializing. Just sit here and read, and veg. Not good. Not to mention other things going on in my head and life.

My insomnia is back at full force. So I'm not getting to sleep early enough at nights to make it up early enough to make it to the gym. I was feeling physically better when I was going. But since I am sleeping through my alarm, when I do get up, I may have about 30 minutes at best to get ready and leave for work.

Maybe it's just my midlife crisis?
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April 29, 2012

How Much

A good friend posted, actually re-shared this over at G+. It's very true.

If I believe in you, I allow you in
If I trust you, I show you my pain
If I love you, I show you my weakness
If I respect you, I show you my views
Without one of these, how much do you think I give you?


It makes you think. 

Sometimes it takes a leap of faith in yourself to let others in. 
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April 27, 2012

Goodbye Paradise

I've never been one for materialistic belongings. Mainly because that's not how I was raised. Growing up relatively poor,I never had a lot. So i did cherish what I had. However, always moving around from town to town, I would loose a lot of my stuff. And since we moved so much, I got to the point of not hanging on to anything. What little bit I did hang onto, I could put in a back pack.

About 4  years ago, I got back into BMX. It was a sport I did as a young kid into my early teens. Four years ago, I rebuilt the same bike I used to ride in competitions back home. Over the course of these last four years, I put about $900 into the bike. Mainly because, like collector cars, these bikes have become collectible items. And some original parts can be expensive. I've taken this bike on long rides, even pulled a few stunts on it, reminiscent of the old days. She was a sweet ride. It would coast forever, handled better then a lot of these new bikes. And it had a lot of character, unlike the bikes of today.

Well tonight, I let it go. I've never been sad over anything I've lost. Well, until tonight. But do to real world issues and money being tight, I sold it for $400.  I've put it up before, hoping it wouldn't sell. Never asking a lot for it. At most $500. But it never went. However, this time I wasn't as lucky.

Back as a kid, I had placed in the top three in a few competitions with my bike. But as I got older, I got into other things. I guess  As I got older and took on more responsibility that we do as adults, I wanted something from my childhood that reminded me of when I had little responsibility.  Something to where, for a few hours on a weekend, I could let go of my adultness and be a kid again.

So tonight, I say goodbye to Paradise. Yes I know, funny name. But even as a kid, it was something, that while riding and performing stunts, the world around me didn't matter. Maybe one day, somewhere in the future, I may get another. Maybe I won't.However it turns out, here's to you sweet girl. Make your new owner as happy as you did me!









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April 19, 2012

We All Go Back

Call me crazy. But for the last week or so, on my way home from work or into work. Even when going out to dinner, i've been smelling the smells of the local carnival or fair.

As a kid, I couldn't wait for it to show up in town. The rides, the food, the games. And as i got older, I even worked a few on tear down night for some extra cash. Once I even worked a few state fairs and made good money.

But there's something about a carnival as we get older that sometimes, makes us remember our childhood, good or bad. We know the games are rigged for the most part, yet will drop a few bucks on a game or two. We might walk away with a prize, or we just walk away.

I think what i remember the most is those times when i was seeing someone, i would put in extra hours at work just to have money to take her.Most of the money would be blown on games or tickets. But at least we had fun together. As Tim McGRaw says in his song,

"I throwed out my shoulder, but I won her that teddy bear."

Maybe it was the fact I won at something where i was being already cheated as I stood up to the counter, or the fact that spent time and energy beyond the norm to please my better half, I always walked away with a smile.

It's been at least 9 years since i've been to a fair or carnival. Last one, was the last time I drove in the auto derby with my brother. And like the times as a teen, my soon to be better half walked away with a teddy bear won at a cheating game.

These smells i've been smelling, bring be back to these times. Times i sometimes miss. Though you're among a few hundred people, sometimes it's the closeness you get with your family and friends that is needed every once in awhile.

Maybe it's the sounds and lights that make your senses all tingly inside. But every once in awhile, we all go back.
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April 10, 2012

Toad Hall PT III

Let's understand something about me as a person. I have many beliefs. Do I believe in ghosts and spirits, yes. The reason I say this, is I have seen way too much in my life since I was little. Now, I'm a man of science. I will try to find some scientific reason for something first. If I can't, then I will chalk it up to the unexplained. Maybe some where down the road, the explanation will show itself. But until then, I'll leave it as it is. But to date, nothing in the history of this story has made a scientific explanation. So, it still stands as unexplained.

 It was the week of my birthday in November. Also the week that bow hunting started. It was late that Thursday night. My mom and I were watching the nightly news and my little brother was upstairs sleeping. As we sat there in the living room, we had heard a small thump. Didn't think nothing of it, figured that my brother had rolled over and kicked the wall like he normally does. With in a few minutes, he had appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

 He stood there motionless for a few moments then walked over to our mom. He got on her lap and leaned in as to hug her. My thoughts were, he had some kind of dream that woke him. Like me, he was not one for comforting after a bad dream. He just wanted to be left alone, so this was a little strange. He proceeded to put his hands around her throat and started to choke her. At first I laughed. I was like what the fuck. Then it went to, me speaking his name a little louder. All the time, my mom was sitting there in shock. This lasted maybe 2 minutes. He looked over at me with a muddy glaze in his eyes. Stood up, went into the other room and we heard him use the toilet. As he came back into the living room, he paid no attention to us. Just walked by like we didn't exist and back upstairs.

My mom and I just stared at each other. What the hell just happened? Were we going to go through a poltergeist in the house? Granted, she had scolded him earlier that day, for what I can't recall now. Maybe he was just mad at her. But to choke her? To this day, he doesn't recall doing it, just our stories of it.

It was a full moon out that night too, so I chalked it up to the weird and unexplained. As we got ready for bed, I took the trash out. Normally, it was a pain to get to the burning barrel, but with the light of the moon, it was like a magical forest. As i put the lid back on the barrel and turned, I heard a rustling in the field behind me. The cows would still be there for another few weeks yet, so i thought nothing of it. It wasn't until I heard a low growl, that I turned.

There she stood. I will admit, that I for the first time I can remember, I  actually pissed myself. She was huge! I could reach out and touch her. Her muscles were well defined, and from the shinning of the moon, I would swear she used conditioner on her coat due to its glimmer. I was shaking. The only thoughts that really went through my mind were the ones of me being torn to shreds by some wild animal. It was violent.

We nearly stared each other down for what seemed like eternity. But it was only a few minutes. Now mind you, at the start of this chapter, I told you of my many beliefs. One of those beliefs is animal spirits. Mainly because the area I grew up in was part of the Seneca Indian Nation, but also, the studies I did, their beliefs in nature and animals also made a lot of sense to me.

Now, though I'm literally shaking my sneakers off, pissed myself, I cannot remove my gaze from her. I'm scared for my life. Yet at the same time, I know I'm going to be fine. Because if she would have wanted to attack, she would have as soon as I turned. Slowly, she turned and walked back up the field. Just before she fully disappeared into the darkness of the night, she stopped and turned back toward me. Just one last look. Then she was gone. That was the last time I would physically see her. Shaken, I turned and went into the house, only stopping a brief moment at the door when I heard a howl in the night air. I never made it to sleep that night. I laid in my bed, candles lit, staring intently at my ceiling. Trying to make heads or tails of what the hell was going on.

Now, let's fast forward to Spring. A lot of bad things had happened up to this point. The worst of them was, the landlord had told us he wanted to renovate part of the house. We moved out, for what was supposed to be just a few weeks, in which in turned into a permanent thing since he torched the house a week later and put in two new double wides. We had lived in that house for 12 years. The memories, all good and bad will always be remembered. Come to find out, he was loosing money on the farm and with only the house and a empty trailer down the way,  he needed money. Since the house was built in the mid 30's, it would have cost to much to really renovate, so he did the next best thing. The prick's still an alcoholic.

One afternoon, my friend had stopped up. We hadn't seen each other in months. Matter of fact, it was about a few weeks prior to my last encounter that I had seen him. So we began discussing the whole thing. All the way from the beginning to the end. Being bored, we both decided to go for a drive. We hit the local 7-11 and just kept driving. Just catching up on old times, not really paying attention to where we were, we had pulled up the road from Toad Hall. But we didn't get there the normal way. We hit so many back roads, That I tried to recall that drive a few times and ended up lost.

Suddenly, everything we had been talking about just didn't exist anymore. We just sat there in the car, staring at the house. The grass hadn't been cut in a long while, not like the last time I had been here. It was at that time, I had told him about Tara. Hell, that was the first time I had talked about it with anyone other then Tara. And it had been just about a year since our separation. 

The entire conversation, he never took his eyes off the house. I could see his eyes move up and down, left to right. But never once did he look to the back, at me or the the car that had passed by. He opened the door and stood there a second before heading toward the house. Prick didn't even shut the door and a grasshopper jumped in. Looks like we had a new mascot. I turned the car off and followed.

This time around, things were as calm, as they had been in the past. Well, barring the situation from Tara. At this time in my life, I was studying crystals and the so called healing powers they had. Mainly due to a injury sustained long ago, I was back to fighting my headaches again. So I was always wearing a clear, two inch crystal around my neck.

As we neared the door, a surprise waited for us. A fairly large toad was nailed to the door. Blood had run down and just blended in the with years of color decay. From the looks, it had been there awhile. For the skin was all dried, just a few shreds left on the skinny bones. The nail however, wasn't your normal galvanized long nail. It was more a square tack nail. Why I remember that detail, I have no idea. It just struck me as odd. And it was well rusty.

As we opened the door, we made out way around the corner and into the kitchen. Yet again, more surprises. More animal bones. All neatly piled on a make shift table int he center of the room. Maybe all the stories were true. Maybe some cult did use this place for rituals. Or maybe some twisted, demented person just came up here and set all this up just for us?

Normally, my friend is quite talkative. Always has been for the time I've known him. He's only this quiet when he's pissed or thinking. Since we got to this place, he hadn't said anything. As we looked around the kitchen for any other sings of people, I started to get a pain in my chest. Not like a heart pain from a heart attack, yes I know what that feels like. But a sharp stinging pain. As i grasped at my shirt, I remembered the crystal. As i pulled it out from under my shirt, I gasped. It was no longer clear, but it was solid black. So black, it wouldn't even reflect what light was coming through the glassless window in the kitchen. He reached over and ripped it from my neck and tossed it on the floor. I just looked at him. He had this look about him that I had never seen. Did he know something I didn't? If he did, he wasn't saying a word.

We made our way into the living room. Who ever it was that was here, had left more calling cards. What looked like ritualistic symbols covered the walls and floor. A few I knew. For back in JR High, I did a report on the occult and vampirism, after the teens in FL had gone on a killing spree. So I did a lot of studying and a lot more reading for this report, got an A+ on it and it's what saved my grades that year. Though the symbols looked familiar, I didn't know their meaning.

Around the corner and back up the stairs, where we had been once before. The only thing here other then a lot of dust and cobwebs was some tattered blankets. Like someone was using this place as shelter.  We checked the rooms upstairs for any signs of symbols, bones, anything we could find. Nothing.

We had even gone to the back of the house and looked out the windows. No water in the stream, no wild flowers and no butterflies. It literally looked like death and decay out there. Like a whole new world was waiting through the glassless portal. Finally, not finding anything, though I had no idea what we were looking for, we headed back down stairs.

Now, you recall me stating I believe in ghosts and spirits? Well, up to this point in my life, I've seen a lot of unexplained things. And what I was about to witness would take anything I had read, learned, studied or known and throw it out the window of my mind.

As we reached the last step and turned into the living room, we both stopped. The only way I can describe this, is exactly how it was. Sitting in the far corner of the room in a wooden rocking chair, facing us, was an elderly man. Maybe in his mid 50's. Long dirty and matted hair, matching beard and clothes that looked to be from the back woods of West Virginia. The only thing that kept him from being a member of ZZ Top was the fact he looked like he crawled out of some Tom Savini horror flick. His face weathered and beaten, his eyes sunk far enough into his skull, I couldn't see what color they were. and he was wearing an old cloth hat, like that of the Amish faith. The worst part about all of this, wasn't the fact that he was sitting there with an emotionless stare rocking, nor the fact he had a double barrel shot gun across his lap. Or was it the feeling of all the blood just left my body and the room became cooler. But the fact you could see through this guy. Yes he was translucent. You could see what was left of the torn wallpaper and board slats through him.

We couldn't move. I've never been so scared in my life. Regardless of what I've seen in the past, this took the cake. And it would hold that spot for at least a few years. The guy kept rocking. It was like he didn't know we were there. Well, at least until we started to move. We kept our backs against the wall and slowly side stepped toward the door to the kitchen. Now, there were three windows int he living room. One on the front of the house and two on the side, across from us. Shrubs and tree's blocked full view from seeing out, but you could see light dancing outside. I started to think, it was just a light trick. After all, it was that time of day, where the light is just right, that everything has that green hue and things appear as something that's not there. That was until as we reached the door and started to turn that the guy turned his head and looked at us. Fuck that! I'm not hanging around to find out what he wants.

We bolted from the house, knocked over the make shift table in the kitchen. He Bo Duked the car and no sooner was the car started and we had backed into the road did we see this guy again. I was frozen with fear. Now, I don't scare easy. Never have. But this whole situation was like a bad dream that I couldn't wake up from. And It seemed I was pulling in people I loved all around me.I was just waiting for Freddy Kruger to pop his beady ass head up on the side of the car.

The guy this time, was standing on the front porch roof. However, he wasn't dressed. He was naked. Still carrying his shot gun, He stood there like a soldier, staring out into space. It wasn't until he turned and looked at us, that feeling had returned to my body. Reverse, gas pedal to the floor, I was now a driver. Whipped that car around, fished tailed and kept shifting. It was only a five speed, but I was looking for sixth, to get me the hell out of there. I was so scared, I had forgot the road. As we passed the turn off to head to the stone cross, we went straight down the hill. Problem was, there was an elevation point. I loved my car. I really did. But I wasn't going back for the exhaust. We hit so hard after launching, it ripped from behind the converter. For a small four cylinder, the damn thing echoed like a dying cow in a valley.

That would be the last time I would ever step foot up there. To this day, my friend refuses to talk about that. If it gets brought up, he walks out of the room. We never said anything for the entire ride home. When we got back to my house, he didn't even come in. He jetted for his car and left. Never did see him for about a month.

It wasn't until a few years later when I had gotten the internet. High speed was starting to become the norm, so my dial up lasted maybe a month. By this time, I had forgotten all about that day.  I wanted that part of my mind erased. I had experienced a few other things since then. And one actually tops this. but there is no spirit, no wolf. But that for the next time.

One day in the dinner across from my apartment, an old high school friend and I were talking. And somehow Toad Hall had become the topic. Now, i didn't tell her of what happened. None of it. But what I had learned was that the a bunch of kids had kept going up there and finally the town, in which the house resided in got tired of it and they had the fire company burn it down. GOOD! That place was straight out of hell.

Anyway, the conversation with her, had peaked my interest, yet again. So that night, I started looking on the internet. Now, mind you, this was the turn of the century, so it's not like it is now. For the next couple of weeks, i had kept searching. Made a few visits to both the local library and the one in the next town. Even stopped by the town hall and searched public records. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I knew when I would find it, and I did.

Now, I cannot recall the names. As it's been a very long time. But the story goes like this. Back in the 50's, a man of Amish decent had married an Indian lady. He had been shunned by his community and moved up to where we were at. He built the house. That's where they had lived with their three children, until their deaths. In an old news article I found, apparently, something had happened, as it wasn't too clear. However, the guy killed his wife and kids then shot himself naked on the porch roof.

Now, I don't know of anyone who had lived in that house since then, but I can say we probably had our own Amityville in our own backyard. The more I thought about it during my research, the whole wolf incident ties in and makes some sense. Especially since this guys wife was Indian. What tribe, I don't know. As none of the research turned that up.

But what doesn't make sense, is her color. From all my research into dreams, the occult, etc, show that a white female wolf as "the spirit of the earth teacher, bringing strong family bonds and loyalty into your life." And why she showed herself only at certain times, I don't know. I guess, I never will.










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