just wait, it's coming! dddragon presents: Is Anything Truly Random?

Friday, December 30, 2005

My Mom is the Greatest

Hoss has suggested that TLP be nominated for
the Greatest Mom Award.
I agree.

End of Year Thoughts

Beware ~ long whiney post ahead. Read at your own risk.

My sister Actonbell reflected on what gave her pleasure this past year. I have to admit that I have been focusing more on the negatives of this past year lately. But certainly as the year wound down, I could feel depression firmly settling in. Could not get into a holiday or cheerful mode. Tried to hide it whenever possible. Not sure what brought this on, and I've tried to use blogging as a positive outlet.

Some of it is that my family has just been too darn busy. I am the calendar/schedule keeper. I'm the one who makes sure that the kids know when and where they're doing their stuff. I do keep telling them that they're old enough to keep up with their own schedule, yet it doesn't seem to ever happen. I'm also the chauffeur.

Then there's the house and vehicles. Of course, things fall apart without regard to what's in the bank account. Darn heating system work really messed us up this year. I am pleased that we found a good used van at a reasonable price to replace my dead one. The new one is a little older than I would've liked, but the power sliding door and power keylock are little perks that keep my happy (now, if only it had remote start ...)

Some of it was the dread in facing the holidays with the complications of family, especially my MIL. Not her fault that she has Alzheimer's, but there is no denying the affects it has on us. And as I grow older, the less patience I have. Pretty ashamed about it. My mom mellowed as she got older, I get bitcher. What's up with that?

Girl Scouts - there was this big shake-up locally, where a volunteer director didn't want to follow the new rules and quit, leaving the rest of us to take up the slack. (as she hadn't really been following the old rules, either, it was kind of a relief.) Also, my troop is comprised of good girls who are all too busy to really be in GS, but keep saying that they will do this or want to do that, but somehow nothing ever gets done. I do so much prep work only to have it end up being for nothing. Very frustrating. Also, I'm on the committee for an outdoor adult training annual conference. More work for me, but I enjoy it and the women. Except when I was asked to take up the slack for someone who wasn't doing their duty and it was to be kept quiet. Aaargh.

Band - I really enjoyed the Marching Band season and have been asked to do more next year. I've agreed to help with the Band Fudge making next year, but not the paperwork. (no, I haven't really learned how to say "no".)

Work - boy, oh, boy, am I bored there. Because I'm part-time (I work most Mondays through Fridays, 8 am to Noon), I can't do anything but catalog sales. Can't tell you how many times I've been told that I would be great in another department. Can't. Just plain can't. Another friend who works there and I must be going thru a mid-life crisis, because we talk on break about how bored we are. However, we agree that we have great "mommy" hours and we've just got to see it thru until the kids are out of school.

But then I have NO idea what I want to do. Until seven years ago I had a job that I loved (been there 14 years) and thought that I would have until I retired. But the last couple of years there were hell because of three new employees, so I finally left under much stress. (Three others quit before I did, one of them is now where I am. Sometimes we talk about how much we liked our previous job.)

Anyway, even if I were to quit catalog sales, I don't know what I would do. I've been asked to teach art to preschoolers at a local Arts organization. That's why I took the Education Course last Fall (I did get an A, tho' I don't know what my final exam score was). However, the course was teaching theory and while it was interesting to go to and fun to be better than those young whippersnappers, I'm not sure that I learned anything that I can really apply. I'll have to look over my notes. lol. Babysitting preschoolers is one thing, being paid to teach them something art-related is a whole 'nother thang.

and ANYWAY - if I were to teach preschoolers, I would need to give up my ideal working hours at the Call Center (try and find hours like that anywhere else!). And I'm not sure that I or my husband are ready for the plunge for a change in what little income I do make.

And finally - STUFF - I, a packrat, married a packrat and we gave birth to two more packrats. Our house is so full of STUFF (keep quiet, mom). I have really tried over time to get rid of stuff, but somehow it keeps multiplying. Piles of books, paperwork, files, photo albums, all sorts of STUFF ... I'm paralyzed by it now. I wish that this house had just one more room that I can have for my own so that I can organize things my way and keep it that way.

And on top of all this, I need to lose about sixty pounds. I really, really do.

So, dear readers, this is my rant for the day. I'll try and think of things more positively tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Salem gets it at both ends ...

I saw our younger cat, Salem, "sleigh-riding" a few days ago. This refers to a cat propelling himself across carpet to scratch his bottom. Now, if Salem was an outdoor cat, this would have been a sign of worms. But he is not. He is afraid of the outdoors. I kept an eye on him, watching him closely. It seemed like he was cleaning his nether region more frequently. So I called the vet and we went in.

Turns out that his anal glands are infected. The vet had to "express" them to empty. Lucky Salem ...

Anyway, this means that he has to get an antibiotic pill twice a day. We've never had to give him a pill before. He can inflict some serious damage if provoked! I was very nervous the first time I gave him a pill. He made the scariest noise I've ever heard come out of him, but the pill went down and I had no scratches or bites.

But then he was wise to me for sure after the second pill. So Nod gave him the third pill. Okay so far - no blood.

But this morning he was wise to Nod's second try at it. So the both of us did it - and both of us came away with marks. And each time there was that horrible-you-will-die-noise emitting from Salem.

The other part of the treatment is to put ointment on the anal gland area. Yup, you read right. Luckily, these glands are just barely inside the anus. And I don't have to put on much. And it's just once a day.

Oh, what we do for our furry children!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pet Store ... huh?

There's a pet supply store in the next town whose name I can never remember. So I looked it up on Google, using "Pet Store Mechanicsburg PA" as the search words. I was really surprised to see what came up:

Nod promptly said that he was never eating at Outback again.

Monday, December 26, 2005


I did have to go in to work this morning at 8:00. I had the newspaper with me. Read it. Did the Sudoko puzzle. Straightened up my work station, threw away old stuff. Started the NY Times crossword.

I was at work for an hour and a half - took all of FOUR calls. No sales. One call to find out when our stores opened. One was a transfer to Service. Two were to see if we still had something available (we didn't).

Finally, I asked to leave.

They said GO!

so I did!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Photos of Christmas Present

We have actually had a leisurely Christmas morning - Nod and I got up before the girls did! After opening gifts from us and my parents, Goa'uld pronounced that it was a good Christmas. Then I pointed out that it wasn't done ~ we will be going to my In-Laws this afternoon, and then we'll see Actonbell and her husband at my parents' house this evening.

As per Still Life's request for photos of Christmas trees, here are some from this morning:

Salem is sitting on our piano, waiting for the excitement to begin. As you can see, our front room isn't too big, and the tree takes up most of it. Nod had to take out furniture and rearrange the whole room to get it in. The girls can't play their PS2 or GameCube very easily with this set-up.

Here's the stash of loot under our Obese Tree. Big tree, little ornamentation.

Now I'm off to snack on cookies. Then I'll fold up the boxes to re-use next year, clean up the torn wrapping paper, and listen to my Twisted Christmas Albums (lol!!) and Manheim Steamroller CDs.

I hope you all are having a good day, no matter what you are doing today!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Christmas Shoe for Sar

I finished my last minute shopping easily this morning - I was afraid that it might be bad since it was nearly 10 am before I got out of the house. People are driving and parking like they need lessons how. I'm glad to be off the roads!

First, I went to the local dollar store to get some more boxes to put gifts in, and one of the gift bags jumped out at me ...

Sar! I said out loud. Yes, I really did say it out loud.

So I bought it. And here it is.

Photos of Christmas Past X

I did alot of wrapping last night, and we made a list of what we have (we always lose track somehow, despite all the lists we make as we shop). I need to get a couple of things, plus some boxes to put some things in. So I'll be venturing out ~ ugh, I was hoping I could stay home today.

This photo shows me, TLP, my BIL & MIL, AP3, Niks, Actonbell (the back row) and Goa'uld, Bookworm and Nod (the shorter ones in front) at my parents' house many years ago.

Now, I'm off to get those last minute things!! And in case you're wondering what my husband is doing ~ he's cleaning out the bathrooms. I'm sure that I'll get home to find him cleaning the rest of the house. He's like TLP that way.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past IX

I believe that this photo of me was taken at a Memphis department store - TLP will have to comment and confirm this. This little photo is matted and framed and I scanned it (too lazy to undo all that) thru the glass, thus the quality ain't so good. I might be three years old here.

Last night Goa'uld and Bookworm and the Holiday Cheer group from band went caroling with instruments. I had a Girl Scout meeting, so I missed it, but Nod was a driver. I'm told that Goa'uld kept playing "DUCK!" (a football game ditty they all do) in between houses in the van (they went to the houses of band seniors). Goa'uld did make it to the GS meeting later on and she obviously had a good time!

At our Girl Scout meeting, my troop's Cookie Mom handed out Cookie Sale information. For Hemlock and Penn Laurel GS Councils, the sale starts on January 2. There are two new cookies, and we got to sample one of them. (There are two bakers for all of the Girl Scout cookies in the USA - ours is ABC Cookie Bakers.) It's harder for the older girls to sell cookies door-to-door than the little cute Brownies. But last year my old Cookie Mom (who is now Cookie Manager for our town's GSs) and I had a booth at the local home builders show and people went nuts, especially for the Thin Mints. Maria had to go to Council and get more Thin Mints, and people kept coming back to ask if she was back yet.

And finally, check out the Elf Name game just below. It's fun.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Elf Name

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at JokesUnlimited.com

Photos of Christmas Past, VIII

On the 11th, my husband ran out to get a tree by himself because the girls' band schedule was so busy. The tree he came back with is a nice shape.

It is also about six feet tall and eight feet wide.

Okay, just joking. I did measure it. It's about 7 1/2 feet tall in the tree stand (the very, tippy top height). But it IS really six feet wide. The girls call it the obese tree.

It is also the least decorated tree we've ever had. It didn't get any decorations at all until last Sunday night. Nod got out the boxes, put the kettle on the heat water, and he and the girls started on the tree. Then the kettle whistled, hot chocolate was made and the girls promptly stopped decorating. (I did put on a few myself.) I keep thinking that I'll put some more on, but Nod put the boxes away and I'll probably not do it in the end.

Oh, about the photo. That's Goa'uld shouting that they've found a tree. Bookworm has a saw in her hands. Scary.

Yesterday Joe Paterno received a really good birthday present: He was named Coach of the Year. He's 79 years old and has been coaching for Penn State for something like 40 years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past VIII

Nod with The Nose

To be honest, I don't remember the Christmas with the Nose. I'm including more of the photo with Nod, just to show that it was indeed a Christmas - see the tree to the right? (Get a load of the sweater! Straight out of The Santa Clause or The Cosby Show!)

Bookworm with The NoseGoa'uld with The Nose

Me with The Nose

Here I am ... what a pout.

And now, an update from the Call Center:
On Monday we took alot of calls from one of the other catalogs that our parent company owns (there are eight - we cover every room in the house). The Call Center that normally takes these calls had too many to handle on their own. (There are three call centers, each handles certain catalogs, but we are always prepared for "rollovers".) This is a little tough for us, as we don't get product training for any of those items, and the information screens aren't always up to what we'd like them to be. But we do our best. This year I didn't have anyone asking questions that I couldn't answer.

In this particular catalog, there are alot of party foods that people want to have delivered by the weekend. Unfortunately, most of what they were calling for were perishables made to order from the vendors, so they weren't going to get there until Tuesday the 27th. Normally our delivery dates are one week for most things, but UPS is delivering this Saturday, so they're going to be closed on Monday. I've seen them delivering locally past 8:30 pm.


Tuesday we got Winter Product Training for the catalog that I normally take calls for. Normally we're all excited to see the new lines. However, three different versions of the catalog were created, and the pages are all mixed up. This is all for targeted mailings. Studies show that if there is a particular thing on the cover, then people who relate to that thing will buy more.

The problem is that they gave us only one version, not all three. They did give us a conversion chart, but - man, oh, man what a hassle. "Ah, if you have the A cover and I've got the C cover in front of me ... that means you're on page 11 and I need to be on page 90. Oh, you have the B cover catalog? Then that' page 53 ..."

All three versions did make it to the Call Center - and so if we asked each other who had which version, we could conceivably have access to each version. You can just imagine how that might work out. NOT. I know that it's expensive to give each of us (or even each station) all three catalogs. However, if we're expected to give good service, then we need to be provided the tools to do so.

ANYWAY ... we all had our panties in a wad about this. Then the buyers who came from the home office said "Oh, you don't each have all three? Then we'll have to get them to you..." THAT will make things MUCH better, THANK you VERY much!

As it turned out, Cover C had a whole different photograph of a particular item than the other two. Yours truly was the one discover it ... the home-office folks didn't know!

Your truly also had already gone into the back room some days ago, found a copy of each of the other two versions and had helped myself to them. Shhh - don't tell anybody.

Photos of Christmas Past VII

Oh, geeee ... a Barbie. Ummm .... thanks.

At some point, Barbies were not as welcome as they once were. The Penn State Barbies were saved and put away for the future. The others fell victim to mysterious forces, leaving them dismembered and scattered throughout the house.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past VI

No date, and I'm not even certain that it's Christmas, but I'm guessing that this was taken December 1960.

I'll post some more later on today. Our Peak season at the Call Center is over - we'll be getting calls from people desparate to get things in time for Xmas. In some cases, it ain't gonna happen.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Old Photo Sunday VI

Here I am at two years old. I lost whatever fashion sense I might have had then. I had to take Bookworm to Merle Norman so that she could learn how to put on make-up.

I actually went out shopping yesterday. Oi vay, the traffic. Shoulda known better. However, I knew that I wasn't going anywhere fast so didn't obsess over it, knew exactly what I was going to get, and I only had three different locations to go to. I just might go out Monday afternoon to see about any last minute things (Nod and I went thru what we had to take inventory). I have a couple of things to put in the mail, still.

No cards have been made up yet. We have gotten so few that I thought that maybe we were off the hook - just send cards to those that had sent us one, right? Well, naturally a bunch came with yesterday's mail. LOL ~ now we need to get a move on. However, my cards are usually late and if my friends have been keeping track, they'll expect it again.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past V

This one has a date - Feb 74 - on the side, so it had languished in a camera for a couple of months before being developed. In the foreground is our cat Rabbit, and then (L to R) it's Actonbell, our brother Nivek Army Ranger Pez, dddragon and AP3.

See that area rug that we're sitting on? I remember using it like it was a countryside for toy cars, running the cars along the "roads".

Friday, December 16, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past IV

Here is yours truly. No date, but I'm guessing it's around 1963.
Look at that flockin' tree. Goodness, so much tinsel!

My Education class at HACC ended on Monday with the final exam. 50 multiple choice questions, open book and note. I had a solid "A" going into it, can't imagine that my grade would change, tho' there were a few questions that seemed to have more than one correct answer. When I turned in the test, the professor handed back my last two chapter reviews (well, really more like responses to what was in the text, rather than a review) and he said that he would miss reading them because I always had something interesting to say. Well, duh, I'm twice as old as most of the class. Of course I've got more to say! But I was very flattered and I could feel my face get pink.

The Call Center's Peak season is ending. Taking calls continues to be a challenge because we are out of so many things. The duffle bags and rolling luggage are backordered until March 20. I'm suggesting to people to go ahead and order for the summer or upcoming birthdays. About half are doing it. Because the parent company has other catalogs, we sometimes get calls for those, which is another challenge because we don't get product training for those things. (We do have copies of all the catalogs.)

On Tuesday a Call Center friend and I were on break, talking about how bored we were with this job, but how the hours were so good for us mommies, and that we would just have to stick it out for the remaining years of our kids' high school careers.

At the beginning of Peak we were told that the Vice President of our catalog would be listing to random calls. She'd be listening for a list of criteria that we all should be using with each call, and awarding gift certificates to those associates who met that criteria. Interesting tidbit: she listens to the calls on the way to and from work in her car.

An hour later on Tuesday I was called into the Director's office with my supervisor Dan, his manager Pat and then his manager Dianne. There was another sales associate and then yet another woman who I didn't know. I can see three gift certificates on the Director's desk. I'm thinking, omigosh, the VP heard one of my calls and it was good. Director Tammy went on to confirm that the other sales associate had been heard and was awarded a certificate. I'm thinking that the unknown woman and I are getting the other two.

Then Tammy scoops up the two gift certificates and tells me that the VP had heard several of my calls. That Jill knows who I am (from previous annual corporate visits to our Center) and she was very impressed with how I handle my calls. And thought that I deserved TWO gift certificates.

Well, you could've knocked me over with a feather. I had to use them to fan my hot face.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past III

Bookworm as angel, Goa'uld as sheperd
Bookworm & Goa'uld used to appear in the Navitiy Pagents each year, one at my church (Unitarian) and my husband's (Catholic). Christmas Eve was a rush, with us starting at his church and then rushing over to mine. Nod's church has a stash of costumes they keep, at my church we would make our kids' costumes. Now they've collected a bunch of costumes to keep on hand.

The first photo is from Nod's church, the second one is from mine. In the second photo, Goa'uld is one of the Three Kings (the taller one to the right of the kid with the reddish robe) and Bookworm is Mary (behind the wooden crates).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past II

Here is a photo taken in December 1982, in Disneyland, California. This was when I was attending CalArts. My friend Leon liked to try to be one of the last people to leave every time we went there. This photo is of Main Street, with the Train Station (the front of the park) in the background.

I can remember a time when Disneyland was surrounded by orange groves, and "E" tickets were for the best rides.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Photos of Christmas Past

This photo is from last Christmas, showing Nod with saw in hand, Bookworm watching. This year was the first time ever that we didn't have time to go out as a family and cut down a tree. Nod ran out between the school band's Holiday Concert, the band family party and my church's Holiday Concert. We girls went from school to party (to eat) and then on to church.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday Concert

This weekend our church had the annual Holiday Concert. The reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas on Saturday night was so funny that I decided to Audioblog it when I went back to the Sunday night performance. (When our kids are performing, I usually go to each event.)

The volume is loud, and the recording starts in the middle of a song by our church choir (I didn't remember that there was that much left of the song). Then there is silence as the choir goes to their seats and then Peter goes to the podium to do the reading. His reading starts about halfway thru the whole recording.

this is an audio post - click to play

Mom found a webpage about the book that this reading was taken from. The author is local and the book can be found at the local Borders bookstore.

ADDENDUM: I didn't listen to the whole recording last night, but did now ... maybe Audioblogger has a time limit, because only the beginning of the reading was recorded. Darn. Well, at least you can get an idea of how it went.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Old Photo Sunday IV

This a wedding portrait of my Dad's parents in 1916. They were both 24.

Grandpa went on to become a college president, Grandma was already a school teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Arendtsville, PA, when they met. Somewhere we've a photo of him giving her a college degree later on.

Unfortunately, Grandpa died at age 39, leaving Grandma with four young boys. Dad was two and a half when his father died.


Last night my girls performed at our church's Holiday Concert. Of course, it was wonderful.

Every year there is a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Last night was the eighth reading by Peter T., who does it differently each year. Last night's rendition was absolutely hilarious! I'm going to try and Audioblog it for you guys from tonight's performance.

And this afternoon is the High School's Holiday Concert, so Goa'uld and Bookworm are busy this weekend.


Oh, and one last thing. Last night we discovered that our water company had a flouride leak, so we can't use the tap water. Hopefully it'll have cleared thru the system by later today. Nod bought water at a store near my church last night. This morning I had to run out for milk and the newspaper and saw people buying bottled water. So Mama will be taking bottled water out to Serena today. Chatham seems to like it better. That cat.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Last night we went to see the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We all thought it was well done. Being the family of film critics that we are, we did note a few minor things about the film, but they didn't bother us overall.

Our high school's 2004 Fall play was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. So we know the storyline pretty darn well (even if we hadn't read the books). But we were pretty good about not reciting lines while we watched the movie.

This is the White Witch.
I made the staff - the director showed up with a white birch stick and told/asked me to make a staff for the character. I thought it came out pretty good. The girl really liked it and asked to keep it. I got one of the other moms to make the cape - she worked for a local childrens theatre company.

This is the Dwarf, my own Bookworm.
The mask and sword were borrowed from the local community college's drama department. I made the tunic, found the great biker boots at the Salvation Army for only $25. (Goa'uld is in the background.)

This is the group of animals surrounding Edmond after he escaped from the Witch. Goa'uld is the one with her mouth open to the right - "Is he alright?!". I made all the ponchos and ears that they wore. There were about a dozen "animals" so I decided that animal-patterned ponchos would have to do the trick. The blue-faced creature was the Centaur - I made her cape but I didn't do any of the make-up! No, seriously, we had a great group who gave all those kids great animal faces. Not sure what to say about the blue-faced centaur, tho'.

Friday, December 09, 2005


It started to snow around 11 pm and by 5 am there was about three inches of snow. Still coming down, tho' it looks like not for too much longer (we're just to the west of Harrisburg). Our school is on a two hour delay, as most are. The Call Center will still open on time at 7 am, so I better get going - it's going to take a little while to get the van cleared of snow and warmed up. I live within two miles, so normally it wouldn't take long. However, I haven't heard the plow come by yet, so it'll be a slow-go.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What's Up?

Well, things continue to go downhill at the Call Center. We've been told that we really should not be calling the retail stores to look for any of the items we're out of.

I do understand. For one thing, we have between 40 and 90 agents on the phone at a time - the stores can't handle all those calls from us AND be helping the people who are there in the store, too.

Second, our retail inventory computer search isn't live (yeah, I know, I don't know why either) so it's likely that even if the system thinks the store has it, they've sold out of it, too. Also, corporate is transferring things from the retail system to the catalog system as fast as they can, and that's not reflected in the search system, either.

I've been telling my callers to make a note on their calendar to order these things by next Halloween. I've been saying this since 2000. Do you think that I might be contributing to the problem?

And, yes, Hoss, I suppose that I could buy a bunch of stuff and resell on Ebay. There are plenty who do it already. And we've had callers accuse us of doing just that. I suspect that there might be some of it, especially with employees that live near one of our outlets in particular. And corporate DOES keep an eye on Ebay.


My Site Meter report came in today, and I checked to see where my "referrals" have been coming from. One caught my eye.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Catalog Woes

Things are getting whacky at the Call Center. In past Xmas Peak Seasons, when we run out of a product, that's it. It's gone. Nada until next year. Once in a great while, if retail has some huge stockpile, then corporate transfer some of it over to the catalog and we'll briefly have an item back in stock.

But not this year. oh, NO. Somehow, someway, someone is deciding that more things are to be transferred from the retail stores. We have been warned to start an order for every call. Never assume that what was gone yesterday and gone for the last couple of weeks will still be gone today. It's insane.

There is one item (besides those darn Xmas stockings) that we've had alot of calls for, a slumber bag. There's a boy/blue version and a girl/pink version. The pink one has been gone for quite some time now. The blue version sold out a couple of days ago.

Now, I do always have a test order screen up at all times in order to enter item numbers, especially for the No Longer Available and Permanently Out of Stock ones (NLAs and POSs). Everytime the NLA or POS comes up, it generates a report at corporate so that they know how many times an attempt to order is made. Helps them with future orders to vendors.

Anyway. I'm given the item number for the slumber bag. I've already had people earlier in the morning to called to order it. But it's gone. BOTH colors.

But LO! Suddenly it has become available!

"Ohmigosh!" I exclaim.

"WHAT?!" exclaims the woman back at me.

"We've got them!" I say, hardly believing my eyes.

"Oh, my gosh, that's wonderful. I called last night and you didn't have them then. They told me to try again later."

"We didn't have it earlier this morning!" I'm shaking my head. "Let me check inventory..." I quickly go to another window on my PC "... we've got 18 of the blue, still no pink," I tell her, "let's get this thing ordered while it's still available."

She agrees and I place the order in record time. It's for her daughter, and for once it's a customer who doesn't care that her girl isn't getting a pink thing.

I check the numbers again and it's down to 15. This is insane.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Up and Down

This was a reading at my church last Sunday, I really like it:

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the centre hold that makes it useful;
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful;
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful;
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

And this is a song that our congregation sings every week as sung by our church's choir, The Unisingers: Spirit of Life


Call Center life is at the depressing stage - we're out of so many things (or they're backordered until after the holidays) that we're almost keeping track of how many times we say "sorry that's gone, sorry that's sold out, sorry we don't have that either..."

The most interesting street name today was Lick River Road. Like the Mud Lick Road that I mentioned earlier, this street is in Virginia. Does it have anything to do with why Virginia is for Lovers?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Twisted Christmas

The Rose, a Lancaster, PA, radio station started playing nothing but Xmas songs at Thanksgiving. I've been listening on and off, and the other day I heard a song that I've never heard before, and it was just hitonious (a great Jamie Dawn word). I don't know why, but it just tickles my funny bone!

Bob Rivers Comedy Corp.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all night long.
Well, I waited up for Santa all Christmas night
But he never came and it don't seem right.
And there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't make a sound,
But I wish you Merry Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all week long.
Well, the dog keeps barking up the chimney flue
And we don't know what we're going to do.
Cause there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't move around,
And it's been a week since Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all month long.
Well, it's jammed up tight above the fireplace
Now the house smells funny, such a big disgrace.
That there's something in the chimney
And it doesn't talk at all,
And it's been there since last Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all year long.
I'll been waiting up for Santa like I did last year
But my brother says, "He's already here."
And he's stuck up in the chimney
And he doesn't say a word
And he'll be there every Christmas.
And we'll have him every Christmas.

You can hear a sample at Amazon from the "Twisted Christmas" album.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Old Photo Sunday III

This photo is of my In-Laws after their wedding at St. Elizabeth's in Ozone Park, NY, in 1948. I didn't know my FIL very well - he died six months after Nod and I got married. I've known my MIL, however, since I was about 16 years old, because she worked in the public library and I was a library page during high school. Knew her before I knew Nod, in fact.

Since TLP posted a story about a dress, I'll tell you a little dress story from my own wedding.

The wedding dress that I used was borrowed from one of his cousins and altered to fit for a whopping $50. Actonbell, as my brides maid, wore a nice dusty pink prom gown that was still at Mama's house. (AP3 ushered.) Anyway, I told TLP and my MIL-to-be that they could wear whatever they wanted to wear - I didn't want to be one of those Bridezillas that you hear about. I just told them that Actonbell would be wearing a dusty pink dress. TLP picked a nice, soft pink dress with coordinating shoes. When I got to the church I found that Nod's mom had a turquoise dress and chunky tan shoes (and I can tell you that she had had those shoes for some time before the wedding...).

Well, it was my own fault. I should've given instructions.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Call Center Life

WARNING: this is a long post, and really not all that interesting. But it's all true:

I got into a conversation with a woman about the names that children are given (we sell lots of personalized items). Her friend had become a grandmother earlier in the week, and after three days, the baby still didn't have a name. It seems that the new parents did have a name picked out already - the little boy was to have the names of the new parents' grandfathers from both sides of the family. But the new daddy's mother had decided that wasn't good enough. The new boy should have the name of not only his greatgrandfather, but his grandfather (the woman's husband). The poor new parents were trying not to cause fights, with the new mom leaving it to her husband to speak to his mother.

I told my customer that maybe someone should read that Bible passage about sons leaving their mothers and cleaving to their wives. She laughed and said that was a good idea. I then said that I was glad that neither my mother nor my MIL tried to influence our decisions about names - something that I hadn't realized until that moment.

Funny how blessings aren't always appreicated until much later.


Then there was the woman who called to say that she was on our website and couldn't find any children's robes.

I told her that we didn't sell any robes for children, but we did have bath wraps. I instructed her to type "bath wrap" in the search box to find them. "We have several very cute bath wraps," I said, waiting for the page to load.

She did - and then said "oh, these are just bath wraps, I'm looking for robes!"

It was hard not to laugh.


Yesterday's odd place name is Cut Off, Louisiana. I didn't get to ask about it, because we didn't have the item that the woman was looking for (surprise!!), but I did look it up later. The name seems to be more interesting than the place itself.


And finally, our issues with personalization.

We personalize ALOT of items. Thousands and thousands of Xmas stockings, jewelry boxes, backpacks, duffles and much, much more. The number of mistakes that are made, I'm told, are less than 1%.

The backpacks and duffles have several shipments coming in, but we've got so many orders that the availability has been pushed back to February and March for some sizes and colors. So if you really want one, you really should go ahead and order it, 'cause it's only going to get worse.

Anyway, week before last a woman called to say that she was ordering a duffle online, but the thread color options puzzled her. It was "red" or "SL". I sighed - SL was the vendor code for Bellaire Grey (no, I don't know why), so I let her know that if she wanted grey thread for the monogram (as the photos in BOTH the catalog and on the internet show), then she could go ahead and select "SL" as the thread option. I wrote up a trouble ticket and turned it in so that it would be corrected. The website is updated every Thursday.

Yesterday I get a call to order a pink backpack and pink duffle (but for different kids). The backpack has grey trim and some yellow accents. The duffle is just pink with grey trim - no yellow anywhere. The woman had given me the backpack number first and to my surprise only the yellow thread option came up. Hmmm ... but she was okay with that, because the photo did show it with yellow thread, too, and it did have some other yellow elsewhere.

Then she gave me the duffle bag item number ... and only yellow thread came up there, too. hmMMM ... what's going on here? I told her that I would have to investigate, and spoke to a supervisor. I wondered if the correction to my previous trouble ticket had resulted in someone removing the whole option, instead of replacing "SL" with "Grey" on the website. But wait, our ordering system is separate from that ... what gives? The supervisor told me to write up more trouble tickets (for the website and our ordering system, the AS400) and let the customer know that I would/could complete the order next week.

The customer was fine with that and gave me several more items - it ended up being a BIG order.

So I took a trouble ticket back to Karen, who is our liasion with corporate about catalog and AS400 problems. I explained that the grey needed to be reloaded as a thread option. She said - oh, that ain't going to happen, the thread options were never supposed to include grey.

NEVER? These duffle bags have been shown with grey thread for more than two months!!

Karen said it took her that long to get corporate to correct it. Mind you, the duffles are ALL trimmed in GREY. But the thread options are yellow on pink, medium blue on green, dark blue on red, medium blue on navy. ONLY. Mind you - they were never shown in any photo that way. Only grey thread.

  • So they were photographed that way - no one caught on.
  • Proofs were sent and approved - no one caught on.
  • Catalog proofs were sent and approved - no one caught on.
  • Catalogs were printed and mailed out - and we've been taking orders for grey thread personalization
  • And the same items were pictured again and again in the catalog and the internet - and they still are pictured that way.
So I had to call the customer back and tell her that the thread was never supposed to be grey as shown in the photo. It was never going to happen for her. Apologized. She was STEAMED. Never rude to me, but I could just feel the anger. She told me it was deceptive to show it in a way that was not available. I agreed and apologized again. I was waiting for her to cancel the $1000+ order right then and there. But she only cancelled the duffle bag. (The entire call, trouble tickets, consulting and so forth took an hour.)

But I have to wonder: did ANYone ever get ANY duffle bags with grey thread? How 'come the Sales Dept. never heard of this? It's not like it's the first time there was a mistake - we're told and then we inform our customers. I suspect that the Personalization Dept. (in Memphis) has been doing them in grey anyway, and have just now been told not to. But that's just a guess.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Cow, Cow

The CowParade came to Harrisburg in 2004, and I got to be one of the artists. It was a great experience (as I've said before).

small versions

Last summer a friend from church commissioned me to paint a small version of my cow for his wife's birthday. I was nervous about taking on this job, but agreed.

I thought that as long as I was painting one, I might as well paint more than one.

So I had a small herd in the house for a short while. It was fun, more fun than I imagined it would be.

One of these little dougies, uh, doggies, has gone on to a new home. Another will go to the couple that sponsored me in the CowParade.

And yet another was given to my dear ol' mom, TLP, for her birthday, which was November 30.


This is the real cow as it looked finished in our house. It's made of fiberglas, weighs about 100 pounds. She received a coat of clearcoat at a local auto repair shop.

She now resides at a private farmette in Hummelstown, not too far from the Hershey chocolate factory.

Here she is in Boyds Bear Country in Gettysburg, for the Kick-off for the event.

Here she is in Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River, where she stayed until the auction. The Walnut Street is in the distance. This bridge is about 100 years old. There are two spans missing on the other side of the river, they were wiped out by a massive ice jam on the river some years ago. Mama and Dad used to walk across this bridge and they now have a small piece of it that was salvaged later.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Rabbit Rabbit

White Rabbit, White Rabbit!!

(What's up, Doc? - an explaination)

At the Call Center, it was forecasted that the Sales Dept. would take 45,000 calls this week. The calls coming in have been over forecast - we're busier than anticipated. I'm guessing that we'll be out of more things sooner this year. Oh, what fun! Telling people, no we don't have that. Nope, not that either. Sorry, that has sold out as well.

Yesterday I took an order from a delightful woman calling from California, who was having something sent to her greatgranddaughter (the item, incidently, is on backorder until February.) She told me that her grandson is the new GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.

"Diamondbacks!" I exclaimed, "oh, that's so funny! Because we had a trivia questionnaire here and one of the answers was the AZ Diamondbacks!"

She laughed, then said, "Well, they just moved from Boston. He was the General Manager there."

Being the non-sports-nut that I am, I asked what his name was and she said Josh Byrnes. Then I realized that this was the guy that my sister AP3 had posted about a while back because he left after the Sox won the series.

I told her that I had a sister in Massachusetts who really follows baseball and she was sorry to see him go. This delighted my customer. She told me that Josh had married her granddaughter, but he was such a good guy, so nice and everything, that he was like bloodkin to her. She was such a sweet woman.