mini rant on customer service and keeping your life a happier place by cultivating reasonable expectations.
I'm too knackered to look it up, but I saw a splash online this week about a flight attendant who mouthed off to passengers stuck on a tarmac that they could leave the plane if they had balls.
Jose was tacky and out of line to say that, and he must not have been in his right mind to not realize this would make him the focus of the passengers' ire, rather than the mechanical/air traffic/whatever problems their delay was caused by. He was silly to have said that, but the rabid people demanding to be let off the plane because of it were not doing anything but perpetuating the problem.
Here's a few tips from me in the service industry to the good patrons who benefit from the servitude of myself and others
if you are of questionable sanity to the degree that you plan major services (such as moving, travel on mass transit or home repairs) on or about a holiday, expect delays. build extra time into your schedule. That haggard flight attendant/representative/fill in the blank wants your terms of service to be fulfilled so they can go home to their own lives they are missing out on because of these delays. They do not delight in your pain. They are as much a hostage of the situation as you are. To that end, berating them does not show your superiority so much as how you reek of cheapness. Oh, and if you book a flight on the same day you have major services like home repair or moving, you're not as smart as you think you are.
If you are in a desperate state, yelling and berating really aren't the kind of squeaking wheel that gets the best lube, darling. I'll bend over backwards to a polite but plaintive "I'm in a real bind here. Can you help me out? What do you suggest?"
When said representative gives you their best, honest opinion, you would do well to heed it and seriously consider going the way they suggest. After all, he or she works in this industry year-round and may happen to know what they are talking about.
If, however, you are recalcitrant and insist on haranguing people who have already apologized but advised you they are powerless to change the course of events (most likely set about by your poor choices), you deserve whatever trouble you are experiencing. You are not ruining that representative's day, though. More than likely, that representative will sleep a sweet and peaceful night knowing that you receive (or perceive) consistently shoddy service throughout the universe, and you are a frequent flier in the Most Likely To Ingest Unexpected Ingredients in bars and restaurants.
Downton Abbey: I'm not addicted. I can quit any time.
I don't watch television-- haven't for years. I think if I tried to get broadcast tv on my television, I wouldn't be able to. But Himself picked up the first season of True Blood a few months ago. Turns out, that was a gateway show. A couple weeks ago, it was on to Game of Thrones.
All the while, me precious Mum has been nudging me to watch Downton Abbey. Apparently, Pop is under strict orders not to disturb her on Sunday nights when a new episode is on. She told me I'd love it. She was right.
I wish I could say I started with even a modicum of moderation, but I can't. I think that first night we watched 6 or 7 episodes of True Blood. Within a week, I'd picked up seasons 2 and 3 at the local video store for $15/season. We burned through those episodes like a crackwhore with $10,000 on a 3 week bender.
True Blood is cheap and smarmy. It's so soap opera it's pathetic, but it's oddly compelling, even through all the baloney. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is epic fantasy, and it's wonderful and terrible. [SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT HIGHLIGHT THE NEXT SENTENCE UNLESS YOU WANT TO READ A SPOILER] Of course, Sean Bean had to die. This is my favorite role he's done. At least he made it all the way through the first season. I love the strong female characters who are made of ass-kicking win, namely Catelyn and Arya and that chick with the dragons. Most of the family characters even look believably related to each other.
So after all of that, I find I'm quite taken with the upper-, middle- and lower-crust antics on Downton Abbey. The hats are wonderful and I've swooned over more than one pair of shoes.
Maggie Smith is superb as the Dowager Countess
I've only seen a few episodes at this point, but I'm looking forward to seeing all the rest.
My guitar lessons are going well. I played one piece on Sunday's lesson-- my third-- and my teacher burst into a huge grin. He's having me work on my positioning by playing chromatic scales to a metronome.
He referred me to a metronome that is online. THis is mighty handy! I still think the tactile part of working with a metronome makes them worthwhile to have and use, but having a quick and easy tool online (is there a metronome app?) is as handy as a handle on a pig.
The following question on a quiz today really stuck in my craw:
Because we tend to use our own culture to judge that of others, ___________ present(s) a challenge to ordinary thinking.
[Correct answer is cultural relativism]
The course is full of enough that seems valid and interesting that you'd be foolish to dismiss it all out of hand, but the question above has one glaring contradiction to me. The first chapter went to great lengths to say that everyone has a culture and this frame of reference is so ingrained for the individual that the person will be unaware of their own biases in much the same way that a fish has no awareness of the water in which it swims. If everyone has this cultural relativism, isn't viewing the culture of others through the lens of cultural relativism the very definition of ordinary thinking?
I'm on about my third straight week of solid Mondays at work...
...and Wednesday I felt like complaining for a minute, and then I remembered to be grateful that I don't have a 100 pound scrotum. Come to that, I'm glad not have a scrotum at all, what with me being a girl and all, but, still, SHEESH!
Now THAT would put a hitch in your git-along.
Suddenly, that crap that was bugging me seems a tiny bit less severe!
I am still striving for an A in my class this first summer term, but I must warn you there may be a post when grades are final in which I set afoot a blistering beast of vitriol trailing great swags of obscenity in its wake.
I looked up the professor on rate my professor.com, and the only two ratings that are not witheringly negative appear to be sock puppets.
Intercoursing prostitute. Wait till she gets the review I'm going to give her. I won't use obscenity(on rate my professor), and it will all be ugly and it will be the absolute truth. Here, OTOH, I reserve the right to vent 31 new and hideous flavours of spleen in as many vulgar ways as I can muster.
Gird your loins, darlings. It's going to be ugly.
For now, light blogging as my eyes are still on the prize, but to say I'm mad as hell would be an understatement.
A lovely composer of whom you've likely never heard: Sigfrid Karg-Elert
I first came to know Karg-Elert's compositions when I competed in state UIL competitions in high school. His devilishly fast and complex solo pieces for flute were superb training grounds and a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff amongst aspiring flautists. I was extremely competitive at that time and placed well in competitions (always first in my district) and I earned a couple of scholarships which-- in my infinite teenaged wisdom-- I opted not to use, plunging instead into what would be my *aherm* illustrious professional life.
I was privileged to take private flute lessons from an elderly gentleman in Dallas named Ralph Utley. Mr. Utley was a former jazz trumpeter, if I recall correctly, but he also played violin beautifully. He did not train me in a strictly theory-sense, but worked more on musicality and the directional line of music. My being a wordy sort of person, he had a brilliant sense for teaching me the conversational aspect of instrumental music. The front room of his house was where I took lessons, and it was an elegantly appointed little room filled with dozens of antique clocks. Lessons never ran late. :P This serene place seemed its own universe beyond which no world of plastic and kitcsh could possibly exist. I appreciated then the incredible refinement of that experience, and it is a pleasure to remember.
When I set my chops to enter a competition, the assigned music included 2 Karg-Elert pieces which at first appearance were dense smears of black on a page on which the white background was fighting for its very existence. And what key is this? Q-flat? Jeepers! What a beast this composer was! I'm sure I was in the throes of a full-on teenaged freakout, and Mr. Utley sat with me very methodically and asked me what I was looking at. "A mess." He made me take a pencil and circle what I thought were the most important notes. He showed me the melodic lines were usually the upper notes in the phrase and the lower notes were mere underpinnings which supported the musical idea like buttresses. This dense flurry of notes was a foundation to support the upward spiraling strains. Mr. Utley was absolutely right: this music was not impossible, but was a wonderful challenge.
I'm sure I did not play as well as the talented Nina Perlove below, but I wasn't bad. Mom and Dad will recognize this piece:
Today, I looked up Karg-Elert and was surprised and delighted to learn that as a young man, he discovered the harmonium and made compositions for this instrument his primary focus from 1903 onward. The Wikipedia link above says that after WWI, there was an anti-foreign sentiment in German (go figure!) and Karg-Elert's French inspired stylings fell out of favor. Pity, that. He died rather young at 55, but left a lovely catalog of music which I know will continue to confound and inspire musicians for centuries to come.
Anyway, I stumbled upon the below video which is beautifully produced and features a Jonathan Scott performing Karg-Elert's Totentanz. Stunning display of a fine organist operating the controls of the harmonium. My German is super-rusty, but I think the name, Totentanz - means "death dance?" I'm seeing plucky, skinny little devilkins prancing about and making mischief, delighting in their grim tasks. A little dark, a little charming.
Poking around on the 'nets, I found the site where you can customize your very own Texas license plates, and some of those in pink, yet! It will also tell you if the custom wordage (limit of 6 letters, plz!) with with you wish to express the essence of your being are available.
Naturally, I had to try a handful of naughty ones, a few of which were actually available. See photos at right. They are also available in an array of fashion colors, but I choose pink, of course. :)
I snapped these photos and sent out to friends.
LabRat, Stingray and aepilot_jim all heartily agreed I should get the 9U55Y, but there was a party who conscientiously objected to officially having an opinion and the following text message conversation ensued:
MYSELF: Subtle enough? (about 9U55Y)
MYSELF: What do you think? I'm a hair's breadth from ordering this
HIMSELF: Umm . . . Honey, the first word I saw was "pussy"
MYSELF: Well done!
MYSELF: Friends all like it, too. ...so it's unanimous?
MYSELF: How long would I get away with it?
MYSELF: So. Ladybits or pussy?
HIMSELF: I feel I should probably remain non-committal on this
HIMSELF: Because when you put a "Please pull me over and ticket me" license plate on LouLou, I can be innocently supportive. :-d
Visions of barely surreptitious bawdery were dancing through my head when I foolishly asked my mom's opinion. She said "shouldn't you really be spending that money on your education instead?"
Of course, Mom is right. But when I finish school and I hit the big time, I'm totally getting a nasty license plate. :P I'm tacky like that. Or maybe at that point I will have grown up, heaven forbid.
Well, I have yet to do the full recap of my reflections on the NRA convention, but lately a conversation I had there at the hotel has been sort of sticking in my craw. A man who teaches self defense told me he was bothered by how many women have CHLs these days because that creates more problems than it solves. He said matter of fact, women shouldn't even carry purses and that would stop some crime. He also said that instead of using a gun in most situations, women would be better off to throw their hands up, scream and run away.
Maybe he was baiting me, but he looked stone cold serious.
Fortunately for the both of us, I'd just driven 12 hours and then drank some champagne, and I couldn't be bothered to rise to the bait.
What would be the point, anyway?
As for the issue of throwing up one's pretty little hands and running-- last I heard a person could be killed from behind about as effectively as they can be from the front. Last I heard, like a rabid dog, a predator is only going to be excited to greater fervor by someone who runs. Why run? If someone is bent on harming me, I'm taking some of their DNA with me, by golly, and I won't get that shit by running. Kicking and screaming. Cornered Cat and all that.
Stingray posted about the bullshittery regarding speed traps in Texas, and I heartily agree. The truth is the spirit of rugged individuality and wildness that many Texans claim is actually only selectively celebrated. Texans can be boastful schmucks, and that's why the rest of the country has an eye-rolling series of jokes about the bigger in Texas concept and all that sort of regionalism. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the local po-po in small towns are more inclined to conveniently not notice the radar registering high numbers if that vehicle was clearly the chariot of sister Mabel's sister-in-law's uncle's cousin's grandson Bubba. Foreign plates, say, Oklahoma? Clearly, you need to be pulled over. FWIW, I've heard similar horror stories about Louisiana highways. You can bet my lily white arse is at or below speed limit when rolling through Estelline, though.
Frankly, I welcome the idea of 85 mph, particularly on the outpost stretches of Texas highway. About an hour west of Fort Worth through El Paso must seem eternal to folk who don't find those vast rugged spaces interesting to look at.
So far, so good. The reading is pretty dense. It's a little exhausting, even though it's very interesting. It's funny because I'm catching myself being quite critical. There is the general veneer of objectivity and the appearance of a desire for unbiased observation, but every so often, the author makes a values-based comment about something that stands out to me like a sore thumb. Generally, though, it's enjoyable. I made an 80 on the first quiz, and a 100 on the second one. I also have earned 5 extra points already. I'll be striving to earn all 100 extra points, which would be enough to tip me up from one grade bracket to the next.
Fingers crossed, there. Just going to hunker down and do my best. I really want an A in this.
So what was I saying about not having enough to do? I start guitar lessons on Sunday. I'm really excited. :)
As if I didn't already love, Pam, she delights in the 4th season of True Blood which was released last week or so. Of course I've got it, and I've already ploughed through the whole thing. Good stuff.
I can't believe I'm hooked on a soap opera, though.
I had a grand time this past weekend as friends from near and very far came to renovate, hang out, do a wee bit of shooting and relax.
aepilot_jim arrived before the party by more than a week. FarmMom and FarmDad came next, as I mentioned. The next day, OldNFO arrived and then came LabRat and Stingray. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant and I made sweet love to the bread tray. I swear the next morning I had a (much-deserved) bread hangover. I'm not kidding about the hangover.
Work continued apace on the house throughout the day on Friday, and FarmMom did a lot of cleaning in the house to help. When Himself's pericarditis occurred, I sort of wrote off getting much clean around the house before the party, it having reached critical mess, but FarmMom is an angel and thanks to her efforts the place was much more tidy than I'd expected it to be by the time folks started arriving. :) To top all that off, she made 4 cobblers - 1 blackberry, one peach and 2 apple. Honorable mention on the Nerds' assist with a formidable peach-peeling method.
Late Friday afternoon, Himself told me he'd greet arrivals and for me to go out to the range and meet Reno there. I went with Spear, Old NFO, LabRat, Stingray and aepilot_jim. Reno had an M1 carbine with which I killed a steel target at 100 yards. Don't know how, but I knocked it off its hanger. I did pretty well with Reno's AR, too, considering that was my first time to shoot one. aepilot_jim gave me some great tips on the AR, and my shooting improved immediately. :) That was fun. The main purpose of the trip to the range for me was to shoot Old NFO's new Colt Mustang. This pistol shoots a treat, and I think I could get to be quite comfortable with it. I'm thinking of purchasing one of these for carry.
Back to the house, we found Holly and JPG had arrived, as well as Jennifer and EvylRobot. Jennifer brought some delectable meat pies, and one of them was quite hot, but yummy. Le Conteur and Gaffer very generously brought some wonderful chili and spice cake and other yummies, as well as a much-needed spare bar fridge. Matt G arrived with Ambulance Driver and La KatyBeth. AD brought 90 pounds of crawfish for a proper boil, and we threw in some taters, corn and garlic for the occasion. The boil was done on a couple of huge pots in the back yard. I have it on very good authority that the puppies are quite fond of crawfish. (I could swear that they both gained a ridiculous amount of weight in a very short time). The crawfish were a delight to all, and quite a bit was left for the next day for a toe-curling alfredo that EvylRobot whipped up. We gobbled that up.
Tolewyn came by, as did Chris ex Machina. NcongruNt came, along with his lovely wife, and she had made some incredible food to thrill us with, as well. I was honored to welcome Swamp Rabbit, and I know others were delighted to make his acquaintance. He does not blog, but does bestow the occasional bon mot in lucky comment sections.
There was gun fondling. Brisket. Lots of food and laughter. EvylRobot fitted my wonderful shoulder holster to me, and I'll be posting pics of that soon. Manicures and pedicures with KatyBeth. As hostess, I was called upon to settle an argument on nipple color by viewing someone's nipples*, and that's all I'm going to say about that. :) People arrived and left at different times as their schedules permitted, but I was always sorry to see folks leave, and all seemed to be leaving very happy. Exiting the house en masse Sunday morning to head to the breakfast place, Matt sagely observed that it's funny how all of us leaving at once makes my house look like a clown car. :)
A couple of rogue crawfish were found and liberated. I really felt they'd earned it.
Thanks to all you lovely people for showing up and bringing all your good food and good cheer. I thought wistfully of other dear friends who could not make it this year, and I hold out hope you can make it next time. It's bittersweet to say goodbye to everyone, but I'm oh so happy that you all came, and I hope to see you all again very soon.
I have the loveliest, nicest bunch of friends. Truly I do.
About a year or so ago, FarmDad and FarmMom started talking about the posts on the front porch. One had a big split at the back and you could see inside that there was not actually any support inside what should have only been decorative panels around a post or brace of some sort. The middle of the porch overhang sagged at the front, too. This was not good. FarmDad said "we can fix that for ya." He went on to say they'd come down early before the next party and just whip that out. I appreciated the enthusiasm, and I was in no doubt of his carpentry skills, but it was difficult to imagine someone putting that much effort into a daunting project like re-doing the posts on an Arts & Crafts bungalow. I'd sort of pushed it back in my mind, but with Phlegmfest approaching, FarmDad and FarmMom kept bringing it up, so I sort of figured they were serious. They confirmed they were going to be in town early to get this done.
aepilot_jim was the first to arrive. He was here and as handy as a handle on a pig as I prepared for the party. Jim gets his own whole post in a bit. FarmMom and Dad arrived Wednesday evening, and after supper, teh mens went to Home Despot to gather supplies while FarmMom and I went for pedicures. This is what we call division of labor, in Phlegmish. We met back at the home improvement place and went through the checkout. Then home again for an early rise.
Thursday morning, we went for brekky at the local diner and then Jim and FD set to dismantling the porch posts as FarmMom and I made a run into town for paint selection and a few more bits and bobs. We also did a bit of grocery shopping. Returned to the house to find J & FD had replaced some wonky boards on my fence and had fashioned steps for the tree house since the ramp was broken and unusable.
A short while later, the ever dear and gracious Old NFO arrived and he changed into his work dungarees and dove into the task with abandon and they toiled away the day on the columns with an impressive number of measures and re-measures. Making these columns appear symmetrical and plumb was no mean feat, as the plinth of the column on each pedestal was well off-plumb, particularly the large one in the middle. FarmMom joined in on the painting in the afternoon after helping me with the vacuuming and cleaning and other things in the house. Honestly, the way these four set to addressing all that needed doing was dazzling.
I'd gone for the final food run into town, and came home to see Jim finishing up the last of the molding around the dining room ceiling. Stingray joined the finish team and wielded a paintrbrush with aplomb and did a bit of the painting.
This almost feels like one of one of those home makeover shows. I've had to be very methodical (money-wise) in approaching working on the house. It's a cute structure and I knew it had great potential the first time I saw it, but from the outside, it's always been a little ho-hum and hasn't been very exciting. I also knew I couldn't afford the kind of skill it would take to execute an authentic Craftsman bungalow look the house originally had. For this to finally be done and to come out looking so beautiful is breathtaking to me.
I went out to water my flowers this morning and a breath caught in my throat. This looks beautiful and style-authentic beyond my wildest hope, but what makes it so much more beautiful is that such lovely and wonderful people obviously love me enough to make all that effort.
To FarmMom, FarmDad, aepilot_jim, and Old NFO: I love you so very dearly, and even more than the pleasure you have brought to my eye here is the warmth you have brought to my heart with your extraordinary efforts. I'll think of you four every time I pull into my driveway and I want you to know that each time I do, in my heart I'll be embracing you as the kindest and dearest of people.