The Moose!

I went to the Mariners game tonight (a work function).   It was an exciting game!  The Mariners won!

But more exciting – the moose came up to our section to dance during the 7th inning stretch!

I also rode my scooter to the game – man that is a convenient way to get places. Easy to park free and close. After the game, you can zip right out of there.

Productive Weekend

We managed to have a pretty productive weekend!

We both did various work things Saturday.   I’ve been working on some research at home, trying to ramp up a second area of on-going publishable research.   This is difficult as my current employment involves a lot of original work, and greatly restricts the areas that I can publish in.

Saturday afternoon was Yoga time.  This week there has been lots of time to work on inversions – my headstand (Sirshasana) is getting much better.  I can hold the pose for about 15 breaths, but still have trouble getting upside down without the assistance of the wall.   Will get there… it is always a journey.

Sunday – some more work.

The day started with a Vespa ride!  I scooted up to Mae’s Phinny Ridge Cafe to pick up a couple of their frozen cinnamon rolls.    They are very good, but pack a lot of calories.   I made it my breakfast and lunch!   Maybe next week we will take a Vespa ride onto the ferry – we haven’t had a chance to do that yet.

I did some bug fixes and made a big performance improvement to CascadeLMS.   It was against my first judgement, but I de-normalized some data in the database, leading to duplication (of just a 32bit integer field), but greatly improving performance.   Some pages render 20% faster because they don’t have to recursively query the data any longer.    Today / tomorrow is a bit of a stressful time.   Miami U. will really start working with the system tomorrow as classes start this week.    The install at had 1736 users during the spring 2009 semester.   I’m not sure what the user base will be like this fall, but I am hoping for an equally strong showing.   So far, we have 40 courses set up for fall 2010, and I expect to see more this week!

Sunday afternoon-ish: we gutted the office!  Our office on the bottom floor is combination of mine and Cortny’s desks and office stuff.   I have a bunch of (like 8 shelves worth…) of books.   Most of these lived in my office at Miami, but they are in our house now.   I keep promising that when I have an academic position again, the books will go back into my office.   I was able to get rid of a bunch of stuff, always a good feeling.   But, also a bad feeling – as in “I moved this 2000 miles??? why?”   I did keep 1 crate of “outdated” technology – I still have an Apple Newton, an original iBook, 3 other 800Mhz G3 iBooks (I plan on incorporating these into some research at some point…), and Tapwave (a 3rd party PalmOS device).   There was a lot of stuff I just didn’t need anymore – and it is now gone.

We also disassembled my giant desk.   It was just taking up too much room.   We moved the iMac to one of the book shelves.  It is really just our Web server, music service, and sometimes use computer.   This opens up the center of the room.   We now have a better open space for home Yoga and room for someone to sleep down there on an air mattress.

Then we headed down to my office.   I brought in a bunch of stuff to sell on our for-sale list.    Tomorrow, I will be selling an Atari 7800, a Nintendo GameCube, a sock puppet, and giving away a bunch of books.   Feels good to lighten the household load.

And now – bedtime.   Full week of working coming up.   Actually 8 full weeks of work until I take half a day off… Just realized that I don’t have a full day off until the day after Thanksgiving.

Why “Customer Service” Isn’t

I got my August Comcast (Cable, Internet, and Phone) bill today.   My bill is normally $148, but today it was $209.   That is quite a big jump…

On the bill, there is an explanation of the pro-rating, and change in service.  It says, based on your change in service.. blah, blah, blah.   It also says that I changed from plan “A” to plan “A.”   Hmmm, I didn’t call to change anything, but my service changed to the same service that costs $40 more a month, with a $30 pro-ration charge…. fail.

So I called.   The first guy tried unsuccessfully to convince me that I had agreed to a 12 month promotional rate.   Seems odd, because I have been a customer for 19 months now, and didn’t sign up for any promotions.

I explained that my previous bill didn’t tell me that my rate was going to go up, and my current bill did not tell me why my bill went up, and why this is an unacceptable and disappointing customer experience.

Anyway, I talked to the first customer service guy for 5 or 6 minutes with no success.   I had him walk through all my options, but all of them were either a substantial reduction in service, or not much savings at all.  Eventually, I had to get mad, loud, and threaten to switch to satellite.    Well, those are the magic words.

I was transfered to a higher level of customer service.  This new person game me all kinds of excuses.  She tried to explain how they transferred all their good-paying customers to this extra level that is $10 more and then took the $10 off, and then, oh-no that’s not what happened.    So, I had to get mad, loud, and complain and complain and complain.    Eventually, I was able to get 12 months of $10 more a month.  I will also be returning my second cable box to get it back down further.

So, not an exciting story.   But what am I really trying to say?

Comcast did not want to keep me happy until I threatened to not do business with them any more.   I don’t feel like they care about me as a customer, but just want to keep my checks rolling in every month.   This is the problem, customer service is dead.

As long as I was calm, nice, and reasonable, I got no traction.  I had to become audibly angry in order to get results.

Note to Comcast, and everyone else out there.   Treat your customers with respect, and like people.  When you screw up (or sometimes even if you didn’t) a happy customer will stay with you longer than one than one who you temporarily appease after they express their anger.

Where have I been?

I guess it has been almost a month since I have last blogged.

Shortly after my last entry, we hopped on a plane and headed back to Cincinnati for a few days.  We got to see lots of family and friends, but would always like to have more time to visit.   (Feel free to come out west!)

We flew back on a Wednesday, landed at 11am, and I was at work by 1.  That is how busy things are right now, and the absence of my blogging 🙂

Just a few normal weeks – work, yoga, work – sometimes that is all I get done in a day.

We have had some time to relax – we had a cookout at our house (the green egg did great), and attended a cookout at a friend’s house.   This also involved the longest game of Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot.  8 players spend 3 hours destroying each others bunnies with items such as the “quite irrascible, defractable cheese balls.”   Some day we will have to introduce them all to Killer Bunnies and the Journey to Jupiter.

Fast forward today.   Today we went out east (to North Bend) for the annual picnic.  A good time was had.  We made it the second year in a row for picnic + outlet mall trip.   Not the best outlet mall in the area, but it works.  We will be making a trip to outlets up north in a few months to hit up the lululemon outlet.  (If anyone wants to randomly send us lululemon gift cards or clothes, that would be awesome.)

We have booked some future travel – we have our plane tickets for cancun (yoga teacher training) and a post-holiday trip back to Cincinnati.   That will make it 5 months between visits, but still 3 times this year.   I’m trying to save up some vacation time for next year, so that will be it for me this year.  Cortny may travel east on her own.

That is all I have for now – will try to get back here before too long.

We’re going to the Mariners/Yankees game tomorrow, so I may have something to say about that.