Category: Musings

Writing about my thoughts in a well-organized manner? I say.

Status of the Realm: 03 September 2017

So I thought I would try to add a more frequent update section, filled with items that don’t necessarily merit their own, complete posts. These could be things that I am working on, what I have experienced, or other items of note. I’ll do my best to make it at least once a week, twice if my projects are progressing along at a faster than previously expected rate or more noteworthy items happen during the week.

Why not just use a Facebook/Twitter/IG smattering to do this? I’m not really looking for thumbs of approval, nor do I feel like keeping them all to myself. Since any updates I push here appear on at least two of the previously mentioned items, it just makes more sense to do it here and save the effort for the more important tasks at hand.

To-Do: Create SotR banner(s). Due 1 Oct 17

The Rest of the Story…

AHT, ACW and TNPS: Working in a Call Center

A year ago, after having my hours drastically reduced, typical during the Florida summer, I applied for a technical support position for a popular accounting suite. At first, there was hesitation, as it meant working in a call center. Not exactly a job that you go to school for, but neither is working at a gun store. Did well at the interview and was given a job that same day.

Three months of training, from the basics of the application to how to take, document and use the tools during the call. Not much attention given to the in-depth, inner workings of anything more advanced than basic functions of conducting/recording transactions. “You’ll learn it as you go along,” said the training/leadership staff, “otherwise you can ask those around you. You have great resources on hand to help when you get stuck.”

Such was not always the case. When official documentation ran dry or was non-existent, we turned to what most everyone uses: Dr. Google, with help from Sr. Bing and M. Yahoo.

I wish I could have just hung up.

There were days and calls where this was exactly what I wanted to do. Not enough accounting knowledge, too little documentation about a particular behavior or issue. Rude customers demanding the moon for nothing or expecting far more than I had been prepared to support. As much as I’d like to say this was not the norm, it happened far more than I’d like.

Perhaps our expertise had been oversold, or maybe the customer had greater expectations than we were able to deliver. Long-termers would probably advise that I was not about the “call-center life” as though it were a badge of honor. Perhaps they are correct, as I never saw myself working in a call center in the first place.

Fortunately, I learned a fair amount during my tenure. I was never rude to those who answered the phone when calling in, but now I’m even nicer, having walked many a mile in their shoes. I speak slower, with more clarity when giving information to prevent mistakes when transcribing. I have also noticed that my overall interactions are far more pleasant.

So what can you learn from my experience?

  • The person on the line is human. While I understand that you are in a hurry, the fact that you’re calling for phone support means you will be talking to a human, at least for the foreseeable future. Just because you don’t know them and your chances of meeting them are small, doesn’t mean that you have the right to be nasty to them. Calling them names and insulting their intelligence is uncalled for and does nothing to aid in the resolution of whatever issue you’re experiencing.
  • Patience is key to issue resolution. Maybe they are new to the job or not intimately familiar with your issue and require more time to determine the root cause. One of the biggest issues I used to encounter was someone wanting to talk to someone who was intimately familiar with a particular subject area. At least for what I was supporting, there was no one for me to transfer them to. We didn’t have specialists who knew more about a particular subject than anyone else. Sure, there was a department just for accountants, which I still couldn’t send them to if they didn’t have the appropriate membership.
  • Supervisors are not the end-all-be-all of issue resolution. They may know something, provided it was a direct promotion, but for the most part, when it comes to issue resolution, asking to speak to a supervisor is not a guaranteed resolution. Most of the time, they’ll bring you back down, reassure you and pass you back to the agent you were upset with in the first place. Very rarely do they have access to something your original representative does not.

Ultimately, patience is key. Without it, all you end up with is frustration. If it gets to that point, you’re better off just hanging up and calling back when you’re willing to be more cooperative.

Diablo III: Marklark, BeepBeep and Moira the Bland

In May 2012, Blizzard released the third installment of its can’t-click-fast-enough-to-survive beat em up Diablo. Initially plagued by many issues, such as the dreaded Error Code 37, the monstrosity that was the Real Money Auction House (don’t have enough in-game gold or time to grind/farm for your virtual goblin head squisher? Use your/your mom’s hard-earned real-world money to save yourself the trouble!), lack of ladders to keep replayability high or even possible, the always-online DRM requirement and a real lack of content to keep anything interesting beyond the initial playthrough.

After beating the game on Easy/Normal and running out of money/equipment that wasn’t either absolute garbage or broken, I uninstalled it, thinking to never touch it again.

And then…

The Rest of the Story…

Walls of Barely-Readable Text: Grammar Edits

Aside from finding suitable content to write about, the lack of an editor is probably the greatest detriment to the overall content of this site. Written primarily in the dead of night in lieu of beneficial sleep, what sounds great at midnight can result in a post that makes one regret typing the first letter.

So, from now on, all late-night work will sit unpublished until a rested set of eyes scrutinize what the toil of the midnight oil could not.

Site of the Moment: Ever since it drew the ire of the incessantly annoying realtor aggregator website Zillow, I have been thoroughly educated and entertained by McMansionHell.com, a site run by an architecture student, mocking everything that is wrong with the tacky, overpriced monstrosities that have the gall to call themselves mansions. Even if you’re not a fan of architecture, you’re likely to enjoy her well-written commentary. You’ll most likely learn something along the way, too.

Song of the MomentHumans are Such Easy Prey – Perturbator

While I may be obscenely late to the agressive side of 80’s soundtrack inspired synthwave, this song has been on my gym playlist ever since I discovered it by accident on Spotify. Clearly obsessed with the Terminator saga, namely the first one, this lyrics-free anthem to the destructive capabilities of the T-800, model 101 is catchy, aggressive and inspiring when you need just one more rep to finih your set or a few more parts to finish your masterpiece.

Life Without Internet: What is One to Do?

The Internet as we currently know it is pretty much a necessity in today’s society. Without it, what is one to do in order to find a job, communicate with others and catch up on the day’s events? Without an Internet connection, a majority of the modern world’s sources of entertainment would not function to their maximum potential or cease to function at all.

A couple of weeks ago, on the morning of Father’s Day, the Internet was shut off due to lack of payment. Went to check the stats for this site, an article about online privacy and ->POOF!<- no more connection. Called the cable company, only to find that without a hefty-at-the-time $157 readily available, we were to be left in the digital dark. No funds were available, so radio silence it was until the bill could be paid.

Much like our experience with Hurricane Matthew, the girlfriend and the tot took it the hardest, since they were left at home all day while I was at work. No Internet meant no Blippi, who the toddler adores more than most anything in the world. No Netflix for her mum, who uses it to keep sane during the day of a hyperactive toddler. As many of my hobbies don’t require an active Internet connection, I was quite alright. During my first day, I even managed to get in a lengthy doodle, in this case of an imagined beachside, complete with stuck-on debris.

 

I found it to be quite nice to not have any chance of distraction, aside from the occasional grumble from the tot or her mum. Normally, with ample online access, my attention is pulled left, right and center, with ever more things to browse, read, explore and consume. Without it, it was just me, an active imagination and my canvas.

Subsequent attempts at producing further works was met with some difficulty, as these attempts felt like one-upping a hit album. Fortunately, these attempts were saved for future efforts, which should prove to be equally productive, given the right set of circumstances.

Fortunately, we had electricity, so we weren’t sent completely back to the days of old. My cell phone still worked, so we were still reachable. Television was out, so our long-stagnant collection of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs saw use, including my finally getting to watch the Star Wars saga collection in Blu-Ray that I received this past Christmas.

In short, life still went on, albeit in a slightly inconvenient manner. As with the time spent during the hurricane, our biggest point of contention was filling the time that was usually spent reading something online or watching television. So, in case you find yourself in danger of losing your digital connection to the world, pick up a hobby that doesn’t require online access. You’ll be much happier when the connection goes dark.

 

Hurricane Matthew: Blustery Rainfall, Moist Carpet and Darkness

Since moving to Florida in October of 2013, every June brought the same questions from the local media: will this be the year that the hurricane drought ends? Every hurricane season (June – November) would come, Floridians native and transplant would hold their collective breaths and exhale on 1 December as another hurricane season came and went without issue or incident. Eleven years in all since the last named hurricane hit Florida came and went in just this fashion. Would 2016 be the year that this all ended?

The Rest of the Story…

Stranger Things: Came for the Music, Stayed for the Weirdness

So, as the title suggests, I initially started watching Netflix’s Stranger Things because I happened upon a posting in one of the Facebook groups I belong to, Synth Wave Emotions! which is dedicated to the increasingly popular trend of synthwave, inspired by the synth-heavy soundtracks of 80’s films. Embedded in the post was the intro screen for the series and the dark, ominous synth lines that have become so notable of the darker tidings of the series. Fortunately, Stranger Things is more than just a platform for the soundtrack, as great as it may be; it draws upon the eeriness of the same cinematic era as its soundtrack, when movies may have been kind of campy but unsettling as well and jump scares were in the minority and used to great effect unlike Hollywood’s more recent offerings, which are more jump and less eerie atmosphere as a whole. I suppose that in the interest of mainstream horror films, my experiences and imagination are better conjurors of spook and fright than what Hollywood is prepared to shove down the throats of audiences as a whole nowadays.

The Rest of the Story…

Work: The One & Hopefully Only Post on the Subject

  • Glock 17 Generation 4

The notice of resignation was dropped today, the anticipation and bracing for impact all for naught. No scenes caused, no need to flip the panic mode to the “on” position. For my current position, my last day is Saturday. As an avid firearm enthusiast, I will miss the behind-the-scenes aspects of working in a gun store, aside from the endless paperwork and documentation that comes with being a licensed dealer in all things pewpew related. Unless I become a frequent visitor to my local gun ranges, I shall become slightly deficient in what has become an almost daily inoculation of the technical, conspiratorial, dysfunctional and often times downright confusing world of those who tend to gravitate towards avid gun ownership.

I can’t say that I’ll miss a lot of the darker side, with some leaning heavily towards a thinly veiled “Christian Army Intent of Establishing a Caucasian Jeebus Theocracy” mindset.  Others are more content with calling the PotUS every derogatory name in the book of ethnic slurs at every available opportunity, looking at me as though I’m supposed to find all of it among the pinnacle of hilarity. What I will miss are the more helpful customers, who in addition to learning something from me while browsing the selection, imparted their own wisdom or tidbit of information on the particulars of a certain variety of firearm. That, and those who liked to talk about what kind of shooting they liked to do, such as those who compete in the various organizations, leagues and such. While these two groups of people are often one and the same, they’re two aspects of the retail firearms trade I’ll miss the most, as in my opinion, they represent the best the hobby has to offer in terms of overall image.

Access to a wide variety of interesting firearms in the interest of photographing them is another aspect of that job I’ll miss, maybe even more than the people of interest. I learned quite a lot about the world of product photography while taking photos for Gunbroker listings, much of which I was fortunate enough to be able to apply to make the photos better, and others which served to only frustrate me as the provided setup caused more frustration than inspiration. Still, the experience I gain from these frustrations has only served to make my own photography that much better. Still, it was nice to have access to firearms and other items that I had never even heard of before, much less had physical access to on a regular basis. Not only to photograph, but also be able to hold them, examine them from many different angles and take in everything that made them special and desirable to collectors and casual observers alike.

Current job aside, what is to be expected from my upcoming position? I don’t really know, aside from what I have seen in my brief time at the location in which I will be gainfully employed as of this coming Monday. What I have seen is an environment that is not at all like the call centers I have seen depicted in various mediums throughout my life; everyone appears to be reasonably happy and carefree, but still dedicated to what it is they do. For the first 8-12 weeks, though, I won’t be among them, as I’ll be going through roughly 480 hours of instruction, about unknown aspects of supporting the product/service/suite the company is contracted to do. I appreciate that it is a vastly more technically challenging field that what I was doing until this coming Saturday. I can appreciate the fact that the potential for growth and promotion is far greater than my current work environment allows, as promotion in a company of five is usually only accomplished upon retirement, death or striking out on one’s own, legitimately or by means that are less than savory. I also look forward to having more co-workers than the current number of one, who really wasn’t much of a coworker at all, given his status as a feathered fellow, foul-tempered and prone to biting as he was. He was most likely a much better gun salesman than I ever could be, so the fact that he remains is a good sign for the company.

Last, but most importantly, no more country music. I don’t particularly enjoy the modern brand of country music that has arisen over the last thirty years, find it to be too sappy for my tastes. I never again want to hear it when I’m trying to do calculus or anything else more complex than simple arithmetic, its presence being invasive even then.
While I don’t know what the future holds, I can say that I am looking forward to seeing where this new path in life takes me and the ship that is my family. Allons-y!

Next Level Fitness: A Bathroom Review

Location: Next Level Fitness, #### S. Woodland Blvd, Deland, FL

Men’s/Women’s/Unisex: Men’s (Currently seeking applicants to review the often better-decorated ladies’ restrooms)

One of the many places I usually find myself is at the gym, for a variety of reasons, mainly health/vanity related. While there, I would say that a reasonable amount of time is spent in this very bathroom, so I know it quite well. As far as gym restroom go, it is pretty middle of the road, having an adequate level of accommodations, but nothing fancy. Two shower stalls, sinks and stalls accompany the one urinal and eighteen daily-use lockers provided, many of which have been in use by the same patron for some time now, the usage limit, if any, being rarely enforced. I do have to hand it to the staff, though; that they keep is pretty clean, much cleaner than I’d expect for such a low monthly rate. Color scheme and decor leaves much to be desired, as the pumpkin/goldenrod/grey palette and generic inspirational posters don’t do much for hyping one up for pushing themselves to their physical limits.

Pros: Cleanliness, which is more than be said of other gyms, which often get overlooked and results in restrooms that smell of feet, body odor and other unmentionable smells that make one want to gag. The shower stalls are clean and available all-day, as opposed to during staffed periods as stated on the sign on the door. The toilet/urinal is always clean and supplied with toilet paper and plunger in case things get out of hand. Trash can is rarely full and emptied regularly.

Cons: Aside from that earlier mentioned, my only real gripes with this restroom is the single-ply toilet paper and the lack of soap in the showers. The soap is honestly not that much of a concern, as it was never the best quality and the money is definitely being used for much better things. However, I cannot concede on the single-ply toilet paper. In 2016, such sub-par toilet paper should be a thing of the past, not a fixture in so many establishments.

The Final Wipe: If you’re in the gym and need to go, do not hesitate to use this restroom, just don’t expect a second wind of inspiration to come from the surroundings. Also, if you’re prone to being affected by high protein intake or other gastrointestinal problems, it is recommended that you bring your own paper for maximum effectiveness.

NLF Bathroom

Rating: 4/5