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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A New Look on Life (sort of)

Tired of your name? Feel like you need some oomph in your life?

Then get yourself a new name! Nay, not just a new name, but a new TITLE!

Thanks to Courtney for the suggestion!

My new name is ...

Dragon of Everlasting Gobbstoppers, Alled MickeyMouse Pez

Ain't that the weirdest, that the first thing that came up involved the word dragon? If you don't like your new name, just keep clicking on your "refresh" button. Heck, click away ~ it's fun to see what comes up. WARNING ~ this site is NOT rated PG-13!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Liar, Liar ... Quilt's on Fire

This was inspired by Doug's Liar post, and Lightning Bug's Butt 's and Jamie Dawn's getting-into-theater posts.

I was one of those big toddlers. Mom tells me that when I was two years old, I was as big as a six year old (wearing size six clothing). People were always asking her why I wasn't in school. This was pretty upsetting to her, as she was a young mother and intimidated by her elders.

However, when I was six, I was still wearing size six. So, I guess there was a savings in clothing, right? Actually, no. You see, Granny and mom's oldest sister Mary sewed. ALOT. I had enough clothing to not repeat wearing anything for weeks. Granny made her own patterns. Show her an article of clothing and she would figure out how to make it. Made her own bras, for pete's sake. Aunt Mary made and sold Barbie clothing. I remember seeing it hanging on a rack at Papa's store.

Mom further sez that when I was out playing, adult friends would stop me to inspect my clothing. Apparently you could tell who made it by looking at the inner workings - Granny's was as neat on the insides as the outsides. Mary's handiwork was best looked at from the outside ~ who cared what it looked like inside?

I've got a quilt top that Mary made. It's a Lone Star pattern. It's HUGE. It's like she started and didn't know when to quit. It needs to have fabric added between the star points before it gets quilted. The fabric used was all leftovers from other projects ~ this is what quilts were orginially meant to use. The notion of going out and buying new fabric to make a quilt with was an alien concept to Aunt Mary. Some of the fabrics would make you laugh - strictly 70s stuff. I keep thinking that I'm going to finish it one of these days. Actonbell made a Lone Star quilt for her bed ... it's really neat. Mom has quilts that Granny made and I can recognize some of the fabric coming from clothes that she made.

Well, DH is vacuuming. Guess I need to get going and help with the cleaning . . .

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fraternal Twins

Today I was running some errands after my Cartooning class. Stayed out too long and got very hungry. Too hungry to wait and make something at home (i.e. warm up leftover pizza). Knowing that DH was out to lunch with his mom, I went home and asked Goa'uld* if she had eaten lunch yet. She said no, to which I asked if she'd like to come with me and try Burger King's new Chicken Fries.

So we did. Unfortunately, DH arrived home just as we were heading out, so we had to tell him where we were going. He disapproves of fried foods, and here we were, going to eat a lunch full of fries. Oh, well. Too bad. (Shoulda been a Liar)

The Chicken Fries are okay. I have to say that I prefer McD's premium chicken strips. Goa'uld liked them and quickly finished hers. The CFs come with a variety of dipping sauces and I think they needed it - nine of those things were too much for me plain (and I eat most everything plain). The Buffalo sauce was a bit hot for me, but the Ranch sauce was good.

As we were leaving, I spied a "table tent" card and impulsively grabbed it. Goa'uld giggled (ain't I the bad influence). Well, my daughters ARE fraternal twins and here was a Fraternal Twins advertisement. I just couldn't resist it. When I showed it to DH, he asked if I had asked if I could take it. Well, noooo. He said that I could scan it in but I had to return it, because it was stealing, wasn't it?? Well, yeaaaah.

BTW, if you haven't already discovered this yet, go here and have some fun at this wierd Burger King Chicken site: http://www.subservientchicken.com/

As long as we're talking chicken, let's talk about The Chicken Dance. When we moved to Pennsylvania, we were subjected to a totally weird and totally accepted group ritual called the Chicken Dance. I've seen it done on trains and weddings. I think every kid in this state knows it. Has anyone else out there heard of it? As a kid from Los Angeles, it sure was an odd sight, but I learned to join right in. I hear that it was used in Burger King commercials, but I never saw those. There are words to it, but the ones that I've seen on the internet aren't the ones I've heard people sing around here.

*formerly referred to as Kiddie B by yours truly, for which I have been told to STOP RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Call Center Life

When I worked at the BOMC call center, our calls were supposed to be under three minutes. At the call center that I'm at now, if all your calls are under three minutes, they want to know what you're doing to hurry the customers off the phone.

We're supposed to let our customers feel comfortable with us on the phone, that they should feel free to ask questions about our products, to ask our opinions on how to furnish and decorate their rooms. "Be Consultative" ~ how's that for a phrase? ~ but not "just" an order-taker. We're supposed to shop-along with the caller. Some of the women at the Center are really into that.

While I basically agree with all of that, I have to say that asking us to inquire about children's ages, names, baby due dates, etc., is intrusive. If any of that comes up naturally in the course of the conversation during the call, then fine. Saying "isn't that special?", "oh, how adorable", "how wonderful for you!" may come naturally for some, but not for me. When I can hear doorbells, crying kids, cell phones ringing, and more coming from the background, usually the customer just wants to get those particular items ordered and get off the phone.

It's always great to get compliments from our customers. Most of the time my compliments come in the form of "You're so quick and efficient ~ I really appreciate that!" Sometimes customers will tell me way too much about their lives (monster-in-laws, health problems, spouse problems, moving problems, decorating problems, you name it, I think I've heard it). After a 30 or 45 minute call like that, they'll say that it was a pleasure to talk to me. Once, after a discussion that got way more political than I usually allow (she and I saw eye-to-eye on things) a woman told me that I must be a Virgo. I am and said how did she know. "I can spot a Virgo a mile away," she told me, "we're all bitches that speak our minds!" LOL ~ I must admit she was a hoot to talk with.

In almost five years I've gotten only two obscene callers. One of those was a guy who used to call regularly and some of the other associates got him many times - they called him the "blanket guy" because he called to ask deep, probing questions about the textures of our premium blankets.

BTW ~ all call centers have various ways of rewarding or recognizing the associates that take the calls. We now have email surveys that go to customers who placed an order and gave us an email address. Some customers ask to be transferred to our supervisor to tell them how good we were. But what really counts big with the management is when our customers take the time to write and mail a letter. If you feel like a call center employee really did something good, ask for the address and mail in a letter telling management. Of course, the reverse is true, too. It hurts the rest of us when one of our co-workers is rude or generally not helpful. They need to be educated or spoken to, and it won't happen if the supervisors don't know about it.

Phone Specials: we've always got 'em and we're supposed to offer them to every caller. I'll usually say "and we have our beach towels on special for those calling in today" and when the customer says "no, thank you", I just finish up the order. Other call center associates will go on to say something like "we've got other specials, wouldn't you like to hear them?" Heck, 99% of our callers know that we have them. If they want to hear them, they frequently ask to right up front.

I'll close today with a little funny incident that happened while a customer was giving me an order. I could hear her daughter, saying "mommy, mommy" over and over again. She must've been right at her mother's side. In the middle of giving me an item number, the mother exclaimed loudly "OW!" I asked "What happened? Is everything okay?" The woman started to laugh and "She bit me!"

That little girl REALLY wanted her mother's attention!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Random Tuesday Musings

I've been spending this afternoon waiting for servicemen to arrive.

DH called the AC guys to complain that the upstairs has no air flow. That guy has come and gone, changing dampers and vents and I don't know what else to try and get the airflow fixed. Truth is, the duct that was installed 16 years ago (I think by my BIL) is too small for the upstairs. So there's not alot that can be done.

Now I'm just waiting for the Sears guy to come. When we redid our kitchen last year, we replaced the old stove and got a dishwasher. Bought the Sears maintainence plan which we can cancel without charge before the year is up, but can use once ~ so we'll have these appliances inspected before we decide to do that. They said he'd be here between 1:00 and 4:30 pm. Naturally, here it is 3 pm and no-show as of yet. Yeah, he has and hour and a half. But I could've been running errands in the last two hours.

Tomorrow I have an appointment at a pain management clinic to see about getting a shot to relieve the pain my degenerative disk disease (bulging disks) is causing. It's not horrible yet, but this time I'd rather not let it get to its worst. (i.e. it's hard to get comfortable sitting, standing or lying down, but I can still dress myself.) The nurse called today to confirm the appointment and to say that I would be there about an hour and a half ~ mostly talking to the doctor and staff and about five minutes for the actual procedure. Interesting, eh?

ooooh, the Sears guy just called to say he'll be here in an hour. That was nice of him. Now, what can I do in an hour ...

One of the popular items in the catalog that I take sales calls for are backpacks. These backpacks can be Personalized or Monogrammed. I CANNOT TELL YOU how many people ask WHAT monogramming is.

The first time this happened, I almost said "what do you mean, what is monogramming?" But what I did say was "it's putting your initials on the backpack."

"Oh. But I wanted her name on it."

"Then you want it to be Personalized."

"Oh, okay."

Well, since I have a little time before the Sears guy shows up, let me see if I can get something done.....


Monday, July 25, 2005

Air Conditioning

Well, our heat pump died and we lost our AC on July 14. I know, get a life, most of the world doesn't have AC. Well, I want my AC!! {{whine, whine}} It's taking longer than anticipated because the service company did not do a thorough evaluation or investigation into how our system was set up, and they were surprised by some of it. This also means that it's $2000 more than their first estimate.

They were here all last week, except for Friday (they thought they'd be done on Thursday and had scheduled other work for Friday). They started at 9 am this morning and are still here ~ 5:30 pm. The smell of glue or whatever is giving me a headache, and there's no way that we're going to be able to eat in tonight.

My BIL has arrived and he and my DH is talking in quiet tones about the whole thing, debating whether or not to go down to the basement to see what's going on. The AC does seem to be running in some parts of the house, but I've opened some windows to help get rid of the smell, so some parts are quite hot.

If DH & BIL are going to get into a discussion with the service guys, I'm grabbing the Kiddies and running to McD's. The Kiddies have band tonight, anyway....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Orders Received

Kiddies B & A have both called to give us final instructions before we drive up to pick them up at band camp:
  1. bring Kiddie A's gameboy
  2. bring their DVD player
  3. record, burn to DVD tonight's Stargate episode and bring it tomorrow
  4. make sure we're at the dorm by 10 am
  5. DH is to finish the Harry Potter book so that Kiddie A can discuss it freely (this ain't gonna happen)
  6. pick up neat item seen at the campus book store

In other news, Chatham, our 18 year old Siamese, has been spitting up foamy stuff. DH had a feeling that the liver enzyme levels were up again. A trip to the vet and a blood test confirmed this. Chatham's level is at 264, which is not the highest he's ever had, but the vet would like it to be below 200. So first thing in the morning he'll pick up antibotics and a steroid. Great, two more pills ~ he already gets one every morning. The treatment will be for ten days. Chatham is not acting sick: isn't lethargic and is still interested in food. I'm sure that he'll be fine in the end. We've been through this before.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"Beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life on this planet!"

SciFi Daily posted a nice piece about James Doohan, who played Scotty on the original Star Trek series. Commenters posted some of their favorite Scotty quotes, and it got me searching for more: http://tvsothertenpercent.tripod.com/startrek/scotty.html.

One of my favorite bits is from By Any Other Name, where Scotty is trying to get an alien drunk. After they go through every other bottle he has, Scotty brings out the last, precious bottle. The now barely-on-his-feet alien asks what it is. Scotty looks at it, swaying a bit, and finally says "It's green!" The alien takes a swig and then falls down drunk. Scotty retrieves the item from the alien's belt that he was after, gets as far as the door, and then collapses himself. (In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data uses the same line in Relics when Scotty is in Ten Forward and wants a drink.)

"Just before they went into warp, I beamed the whole kit and kaboodle into their engine room, where they'll be no tribble at all." -- Scotty, explaining how he got rid of the tribbles (The Trouble With Tribbles)

Here's a trivia question: What was the name of the sequel to The Trouble With Tribbles?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Kiddies!

Today my Kiddies turn 15 years old.

And they're not here!! This is the first time that they've been away from home for their birthday. Kinda wierd. And that they're just a year shy of driving age. Where did the time go to?

They're up at Penn State for music camp this week. Kiddie A signed up for Jazz Band and Kiddie B for Orchestra. Turns out that only a certain number of each instrument was actually going to get in the Orchestra and if you didn't make the cut, you were put in Concert Band. So Kiddie B was quite nervous and practiced a lot the day before (remember that she had been @ Girl Scout camp the week before). When we got there, she discovered that only three trombones were needed for the Orchestra, and one was to be a tenor trombone (hers isn't). She was quite nervous beforehand ~ and quite upset afterwards because she thought that she did so poorly. Kiddie A also thought that she didn't do well, but didn't get as upset. They also thought that they were clearly the youngest of all the kids there. I'm not sure that "clearly" was accurate, but many of the others did look older.

Later that night we called the girls. Kiddie B did not get into the Orchestra. She was picked to be in the Brass Choir, second trombone out of three. None of us knew at the time what Brass Choir was (DH and I still don't). Jazz Band was divided into different groups. Kiddie A told us that she didn't remember what group she was in, but that she was third trumpet out of five.

My two Kiddies may not have been too impressed with themselves on Sunday night, but hopefully they're feeling better by now. They're also getting a good dose of what college is like ~ they're not only playing and practicing their music, but taking other classes like Music Theory, Conducting, Jazz History, and more. They got to pick which classes to take during the periods that they weren't in rehearsal with their particular band. And since they're in dorms on the other side of campus and the dining hall is in the adjacent dorm area, they're also learning how college students hike all over the place.

My future trumpet and trombone players:

my babies!!

Monday, July 18, 2005

HP & The Half-Blood Prince

Yup, I just finished it at 11:30 pm. Been trying to read it all night, and DH kept interrupting me. He's doing some on-line shopping for the Kiddies' birthday. Geeesh. I know my priorities!!

LOL. Kiddie A has written a review - but it has Spoilers, so beware.

Yes, she left one copy with us to read. Now DH will need to try and finish it this week, 'cause Kiddie A will want to talk about it and she's hard to stop. Kiddie B finished it on the drive up to Penn State, and she still has the copy with her, so Kiddie A could start again if she wanted to. Kiddie A's roommate for this week has the book, too, and DH warned Kiddie A not to spoil it for her.

I liked it, and like Kiddie A, can hardly wait to read the next, final book. She'll be itching to talk about it when we pick them up on Saturday, and I'm interested in hearing her views on what might be coming up.

Now I've got to get to bed, the service people will be here early in the morning to start the work on our heating/AC system. It's being completely replaced.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Borders at Midnight

The sixth Harry Potter book became available at midnight. This is the fifth time we've done the midnight thing:

Kiddie A and I went to the local Borders bookstore. The party there started at 9 pm, and we Muggle T-shirtprobably got there around 9:20 - she wanted to be there at 9, but I thought, hey, do we really need to be there for a full three hours? She wore her "Muggle" T-shirt from Hot Topic, I wore my Gryffindor Quidditch T-shirt that I had gotten at the NYC Warner Bros store years ago. It looks like any regular team shirt. I figured there would be a few other adults with Harry Potter attire.

Boy, was I wrong!

There were ALOT of non-kids wearing not just Harry Potter commercially made t-shirts, but young adults and older youth in costume! Mostly these were in what you might think of typical private school garb - white oxford shirt and tie (in the proper Hogwarts House colors, of course) and the girls wore pleated plaid skirts and the boys wore black or dark blue slacks. Add the black robe and you've got a Hogwarts student.

So, we got our numbered tickets to get our two books and took a look at the stations set up around the store. Cute, but definitely geared towards the younger kids. We did pick up an activity packet which amounted to a trivia game, which Kiddie A enjoyed.

There were WAY TOO many people in the store. The cafe was quickly filled with people who parked themselves at the tables. All the other chairs were grabbed and people were either sitting on the floor or wandering around. I wonder what a fire marshall would have said about it.
Kiddie A kept asking me what time it was. Frequently giving little squeals. She could barely contain herself. She had been getting more excited as the days and hours got closer. The store manager did a blow-by-blow "NORAD" annoucement of the Half-Blood Prince's approach to the store (like the Santa reports at Xmas that the TV and radio stations do) as he travelled across the Atlantic towards the East Coast. They also had employees dressed up as various characters wandering around.

Finally midnight arrived and the store started to call out numbers in groups of 25. Our numbers were 155 and 156. The line for the registers quickly got long, so I got in line and told Kiddie to come when she got the books. But then the line moved quickly, and I (and a few other women) had to let others go in front of us to allow time for our book-gathers time to retrieve the books and catch up to us in line. It wasn't too bad, and we were out of the store by 12:15.

Kiddie A started to read the book to me as we drove home, but we're pretty close, so she didn't get a chance to finish the first chapter.

Kiddie B demanded her book almost as soon as I got in the door. She had stayed to have a post-camp shower after watching the Stargate season openers.

So both stayed up to read. I told Kiddie A that I was downstairs (where it's much cooler) watching Stargate and to bring down the book when she was ready to quit for the night - uh - morning. I watched TV until about 2:00 and then I gave up. Soon after I fell asleep she came down with the book, and I mumbled that I was too tired.

BUT THEN at 3 am we had a terrific thunderstorm!! Incredible lightening - woke us all up. Flash after flash, house-shaking rumble after rumble. Heavy, loud rain. So, now that I was awake, I did read a few chapters of the book before tiring enough to sleep again. Not sure how much sleep I really got - not alot. I'm feeling pretty darn wasted at the moment.

The Kiddies need to pack for Band Camp, which starts tomorrow. I've already run one errand this morning to get things they need. I came back to find them reading again - "are you ready?" I asked.

"Uh, I'm not sure."
"Well, how about making sure?"
Grumble grumble

I'm torn. If I let them read, then I have a better chance of one of them finishing (probably Kiddie A) the book before they go and then I'll have it to read for myself ...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rainy Days and Fridays

I just finished another week of summer art camp at the local art center. I teach cartooning to kids for an hour and a half each day. It's always different for each session. Sometimes the kids are all about the same age; sometimes I'll have everything from an 8 year old to a 15 year old. Naturally, it flows best if the kids are all similar in age.

I've always said that kids are kids and that there's just about nothing that a kid could do that would really, really tick me off. They can be rambunctious, hyper, talkative, quiet, whatever. I try be easy-going with them and adjust the agenda to meet the needs and interests of the group that I have for that particular session. After all, they are just kids and are still learning how to be human beings.

This week, however, I met a little girl that I have to say I truly disliked.

I've never met a kid before that was so rude and mean. Kids can get excited about something and get overly talkative, but they do listen when I call out for their attention or to quiet down for a few minutes. When I asked for attention this time, this little princess listened to about five words and then turned away and did her own thing. When I was talking directly to her, even if I was right next to her (and at one point I placed my hand on her shoulder) she would still ignore me and go on talking or not do what she was supposed to be doing. She wouldn't follow instructions or directions. She also made really nasty comments to another one of the other kids. This girl was about 8 years old.

On top of this there was a drama queen who whined about how she never got good grades in art class at school, how she couldn't draw, etc. Said that she couldn't even draw a circle. I told her if she wanted a perfect circle, then to use a compass. But no cartoonist drew characters with perfectly round heads. She got huffy when I didn't play the sympathetic adult, but came 'round in the end. (She played the "I'm adopted" routine with one of the other instructors there.)

I'd be curious to see what kind of family life some of these kids have - do they act this way at home? Or are they perfect at home and their parents don't have a clue? I suppose it's some of both.

The art center has asked me to teach a preschool age class. I haven't worked with kids that young since the Kiddies were in the nursery class at church. So, I'm going to take some education classes at the local community college and see if I can get some ideas and confidence.

The thought of going back to school at my age was exciting at first. But when I went over to register, all I saw where youngsters. Now it seems a bit daunting. I got to thinking that I'd be almost twice the age of most of the other students, but someone told me that HACC has plenty of "older" students. LOL. We'll see.

In about an hour we'll be making the trek up north to retreive Kiddie B from Girl Scout camp. We finally got the thunderstorms last night (still doing some raining right now), so I wonder if they got rain up there, too. It's a two and a half hour drive up, so they could easily have different weather. Tonight is start of the new Stargate SG-1 season, so we need to get back in time for that (yes, the recorder is set, too). And still later on Kiddie A insists that we get to Borders to pick up the new Harry Potter book at midnight.

Then tomorrow will be packing for both Kiddies to go to Band Camp at Penn State for the week, starting Sunday.

And yesterday's post -- I TOLD you it was a WHINE!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Darnest Luck

Whine ahead - break out the cheese:

As our luck would have it ~ and I mean that our luck would NOT have it any other way ~ our air conditioning is out. Actually, it's the heat pump that died. (I've always thought it was funny that a "heat pump" provides "air conditioning".)

Luckily, we had just recently taken out a home improvement loan to finally do some things around the house and to pay off some bills. So, we'll have money to pay for a completely new system (the old one is old enough that replacement parts can't be found). Unluckily, we won't have money left over to do those other home improvements because the new system is really, really gonna cost alot.

As our bad luck continues ~ it's been pretty darn hot and humid here. Yesterday was in the 90's all day (96 at one point). Today was below 90, but the humidity was high enough to make it seem like it's hotter.

The serviceman initially thought he wouldn't be able to install it until Monday or Tuesday. Drat that bad luck! But then he called to say that it looked like his schedule for Friday (tomorrow) would allow for him to come. He just had to make sure that all the parts were available. What good luck!!

But, alas, our good luck was short-lived. He called back. Turns out that a major component wasn't in their warehouse because - get this - the truck was highjacked in Kentucky. So, it'll be at least Monday or Tuesday after all! So, if our bad luck holds, it'll be hot and humid again all weekend.

My BIL has lent us an old window AC unit, so at least one room in the house is cool. If it gets bad, we'll break out the sleeping bags and camp out downstairs.

Well, now it's rumbling. The thunderstorms have finally arrived. With our luck, the electricity will go, too! LOL

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Santorum Blasts Boston

Rick SantorumPennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum wrote in 2002:
"... While it is no excuse for this scandal [Priest Sex Scandals], it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

Why bring this up now? Apparently recently he reaffirmed this stand. So now the article is making the rounds of blogs. As you all learn more about Santorum, keep in mind that he certainly has his eyes on the White House. This up-and-coming Leader blames a whole city for the Catholic Priest Sex Scandals. I guess that means that other towns and priests are off the hook. Just blame Boston.

The Blue Mass. Group's blog about this
Santorum's original article
Here's another's viewpoint on Santorum

First our Legislators give themselves a raise, and now Santorum. Geeesh. What's next?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


(Fred's been posting about his In-Laws.) My DH and I live in the same town as both in-laws. Gave both sets keys to both "just in case". Naturally my mom knows that this means in an emergency. My In-Laws didn't.

We were married just over a year and had just moved into this house. The DH and I were getting frisky in the living room when we heard ONE knock on the front door and THEN IMMEDIATELY the sound of a key in the door!

Grabbed ourselves and our clothes and ran upstairs. Quickly dressed while DH's parents are downstairs calling for us. DH went down first. I stayed a little bit longer in order to get the swear words out of my system.

You can be sure that I made sure that he spoke to his folks later about that key ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Behind in Posts

Well, I've been just too darn busy to post anything, tho' I've been posting in my head. Here 'tis, quickly typed and not much proofing:

Friday we went down to D.C. The DH had it in his head that we had to get away for family time together, away from the house. Mind you, this family time together started with two hours of me driving, DH reading and the Kiddies playing Gameboy. No one talked. When I turned on the van CD player, Kiddie A complained that it made it harder to hear the music on her own CD player. geeeeeeez

He thought that going to the newer Air & Space Museum would be fun. I had actually completely forgotten that it was built. Unlike the Air & Space Museum on the Mall (full of history and science), this one is simply full of air and space craft. Kiddie B has a few photos that she took posted on her blog. It's really nicely arranged - the stunt planes are hung upside down or going straight up. The biggest thrill for me was seeing the Space Shuttle Enterprise - I didn't know it was there. I remember it being tested my senior year in high school (along with the first Star Wars movie ... boy, am I feeling old lately. At least I'm not as old as Hoss or Mom).

By the time we finished, it was about 4:30 pm. Kiddies A&B really wanted to see Fantasic 4 (well, okay, so did I). We could've driven home in a couple of hours and see if there were tickets still available. DH suggested that we just see it locally and stay overnight, and go to another D.C. area attraction in the morning. So, we did. Along the way to Tyson's Corner we saw the local franchise of the restaurant that Jevanking works at.

So, we found a hotel fairly quickly. Actually, we found one via phone and the AAA book. Finding it physically turned out to be harder. We decided to hurry up and eat at a McD's about a block from the theater (had bought the tickets already, of course). Went thru the drive-thru, ordered: Big Mac no onion; plain quarterpounder no cheese meal; Kiddie B wanted a Neopet toy, so the Happy Meal with a plain cheeseburger - but wrong toy!; and I had the 3-piece chicken select and fries, 'cause I was driving and it's easier to eat than a burger. The employee told us that the total was $33.00. WOW! I expected the D.C. area to be expensive, but... By the time we got to the window we realized that it was double what it should be. Turns out that the quarterpounder meal was entered as $19.95!

Anyway, saw the movie and it was fun. Theater was stinky and dirty.

A busload of Japanese tourists were also in the hotel, and woke us up around 6:30 am, talking loudly outside our room and smoking (Kiddie A sez I'm being prejudiced here ... but they were Japanese ... maybe they were still on their home timezone). The Comfort Inn of Vienna, VA, is not the nicest one I've been to of that chain, despite their displayed "Gold Award Property" plaque in the lobby.

Then we had to decide what to do this morning. We thought that we would just do a quickie tour, because Kiddie B was going to Girl Scout camp Sunday and she hadn't finished packing (yeah, Mom, I know I coulda packed for her...). I listed the various museums and the Kiddies picked the Holocaust Museum. I'm proud of them for being interested in a museum with a heavy and difficult subject.

I had forgotten just how frustrating it is to drive in D.C. I usually park at the Metro station closest to home and take the train in. Road signage appears (if at all) about ten feet from where you need to turn. If you miss the turn, then it will be impossible to get back to where you need to be for at least half an hour, because there won't be ANY available turns for several miles. Then there's parking to be found. I normally avoid being in D.C. on a weekend because there of the tourist traffic and parking.

FINALLY we got to the Museum, and it was about 11:30. Find out that the main portion of the exhibit is by (free) timed-entry tickets. Ours were for 2:15 pm. Hmmm... stay or go? DH wanted to go after having lunch and seeing the couple of special exhibits downstairs. We girls wanted to stay, so stay we did.

One of the special exhibits is titled Deadly Medicine. I've always known about the Nazi's desire to create the Master Race, but I didn't know the extent that they had gone to. It is very well done. We started out reading every plaque, but after awhile it was overwhelming. So, we took a lunch break around 12:30.

I noticed that the Ticket Time Entry sign said (at 1:30) that "tickets for 2:30 and earlier may enter now", so we were able to get a start on the main exhibit. This is three floors of information and artifacts. Again, very well done. And sobering. I didn't know that the Nazi party had populated the concentration camps with political prisoners (Communists and Social Democrats) before the Jews, gays, gypsys and other "undesirables." Kiddie A was especially trying to read every plaque and sign, but there were just too many people and too many things to read, see and hear.

And after awhile, DH and I just couldn't take it anymore. Besides, it was late and we still have a two hour drive home (not counting the half hour it took to find the right way out of D.C.). I told the girls that I would bring them back during the week sometime later this summer.

So, another two hour drive home with DH reading (trying to finish the fifth Harry Potter book before the sixth one is released on Friday night), Kiddie A playing Gameboy with her headphones and music on, and Kiddie B doing the same until she drowsed off.

I got it in my head that I really needed ice cream. As we got within 10 miles of home I asked my DH what we should do for dinner. He groaned - we both hate this question. I then asked -- "how about ice cream for dinner?" (Neither Kiddie heard the question.) To my surprise and delight, DH said that was a good idea. For just this once.

So I roused the Kiddies and said "What to do you think about having ice cream for dinner?"

They had this incredibly wonderful look of confusion on their faces - tinged with hope. I then said "Your father says it's okay"

Kiddie B pumped the air with her fist and Kiddie A squealed a "Yeah!"

So we had big ice cream scoops on waffle cones for dinner.

Then the next day (Sunday) I drove us 2 and 1/2 hours to GS camp and 2 and 1/2 hours back home. Good many miles racked up on the still-nameless-van.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Call Center Calls (or Calls, Part Deux)

There are, of course, things that we are supposed to do with each call that comes in.

One of these things is to use the customer's name. My only problem with this is that there are names that I just cannot get my tongue around. Or there are spellings that fool me the first time I see them (Caryn = Karen, btw). When I'm talking to someone, looking over their account information and trying to find what they want, all at the same time, sometimes my brain doesn't process a name correctly. Most of the time people aren't offended if I mispronounce their name. If the name really stumps me, then I just say "Please state your name as it is printed on your credit card." (And if I don't say to keep the card handy so that I can get the number later, most of these people will put it back in their wallets. 'Cause looking at it = giving me the number.) First name or last name? I usually use their first name because if there's a name that I can't pronounce, it's usually the last name. Sometimes I just get a sense that a customer wouldn't want me to do that, then I do go the Mr and Mrs and Mizz route. I don't remember ever having a customer reprimand me for calling me by their first name. Maybe it's because part of our call's opening includes giving them our first name.

One of my co-workers has a really hard time with this policy of using the customer's name throughout the call. She claims that half of her callers objected to her using their first name, and that last names are just too hard to pronounce. Besides, she said, with all the other things we need to do during the call ~ cross-sells, phone specials and getting things right ~ it's just too hard to use the customer's name during the call. So, even tho' her supervisor keeps telling her to do it, and it affects her monitoring scores, she won't do it. Sheeesh. She's been here for a few years, and she was at BOMC for a while, too. Should be old hat by now.

Oh ~ she did have a funny name story. Got a call where the names on the account were Shannon and Preston. The caller was a woman. Turns out that she was Preston and Shannon was her hubby. I know that there are gender-crossing names, but that's a first for me.

Oh, wait, I do have one more interesting name from yesterday. Somewhere out there, there is a little girl whose name is GREYLYN. Hmmmmmmmm

I haven't even gotten in to work yet today, and here I've posted already. Gives a whole new life to working at the CCC - keeping notes for blogging! hehehehe

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


I've been working at this particular call center for nearly five years. Only part-time, mind you. I don't think I could stand it full time and I don't know how my full-time co-workers manage it. Our company divides the calls between Sales and Service (at BOMC, where I worked at previously, we were all Full Service).

So, it is easier to just answer questions about products and take orders than dealing with customers' problems with products and orders. But it can get pretty boring. At least we are allowed to have real conversations. At BOMC we were strictly scripted and could not encourage any conversation (it got so bad we couldn't even ask if there was anything else we could help them with at the end of the call).

Some of these conversations get really long - I've been on the phone with a customer for 45 minutes and longer without making a sale. Have heard way too much about their health problems, what a Monster-in-Law they have, etc.

But sometimes these conversations are real bright spots.

Once I talked to a woman who had married a guy who had been dumped by a woman that I went to school with. (didja get that?) Mind you, I'm in PA and this school is in CA ~ I had simply remarked that I had gone to the school in her town and the conversation went off from there. I was glad to hear that the jilted fiance's story had a happy ending.

Today I had a call from a woman calling from North Carolina. I confirmed the address and said, "Advance, North Carolina?" She said yes, then laughed and said, "or, as they say here, adVANCE!" She and her family were fairly newly transplanted from the Washington, D.C. area and she was determined not to get a southern accent. So she said. I bet her two year old picks it up really quickly. I didn't tell her that I still say nekkid, and I haven't lived in TN since I was about four.

Addresses are sometimes funny. I posted yesterday about Bobo Newsom Highway. My favorite street names are Skunk's Misery Road and Jackass Annie Road (Minote, Maine). E-mail addresses are sometimes quite creative and funny. It's especially funny when the man selects the woman's email address. Or not, for the woman.

Another caller today was a woman named Tommie. I asked if that was her given name and it was (she also told me her middle name, since as a southerner that is requirement). I told her that I had a great aunt named Johntie. Tommie LOVED that name! What a hoot! I bet mom has Aunt Johntie stories, too. And a few weeks ago I spoke with a woman whose name is Shaharazod (I'm not sure that I've got the spelling right). I was dying to ask if she had a nickname.

Here is a blog of another call center employee who doesn't have as much fun as I do: http://worstcall.blogspot.com/ (thanks to doug for the link)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Famous People I've Never Heard Of

Today I took a catalog order from a nice woman calling from South Carolina. Her street name was odd: Bobo Newsom Highway. I asked "What a name! Who is Bobo Newsom?"

She laughed and said that he was her cousin, who played professional baseball for the Yankees. I have to admit, that's a very good name for a baseball player, don'tyathink?

I'm a very casual baseball watcher and don't know much when it comes to who's on first (eh?). So I asked some of the baseball nuts at work, and most of them said "oh, yeah!". I Googled Bobo - he died a long time ago. Here is his obit. He also played for a number of other teams.

"He was the ultimate journeyman pitcher, playing for nine different teams over the course of his twenty-year career. He came to the Senators and left them on five separate occasions. But he pitched a whale of a game in the 1940 Series finale."

Here is the Baseball Library write-up on him.

Others at work have spoken to famous people or their spouses or managers. I've spoken to a relative of Dr. Virginia Apgar (she created the system by which newborns are evaluated), sold a quilt and shams to a set designer (was supposed to be in Dragonfly with Kevin Costner, but I've never seen it, so I don't know if it got in the movie or not), and the first male host of What Not to Wear (it was before the show was on the air, and I don't remember his name).

I have nothing else to blog about today. Can you tell?

Oh, and it's raining.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy Independence Day!
This is Americow the Beautiful, one of the Cows from the CowParade, a public art exhibit that has been appearing all over the world. The CowParade came to Harrisburg, PA, last year.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cats & Computers

Well, in this case, it's a printer. Salem (formerly the Devil Cat). He used to be so fascinated by the printer, and would sit there watching paper go through it. I kept waiting for him to do something, but he never did.