On volunteering

IMG_1141.JPGIt's a privilege to volunteer in one's community. In one sense it's literally a privilege of having the time and means to say "I'm doing okay enough in my own life that I want to share some of my energy in service to the lives of others." In another sense, it's a privilege of publicly holding up what's important to us, a way of honoring our own roles in a community and the value that it has to us. My involvement in the Wayne County area is a way of showing not only my own interest in making it a better place for me and my loved ones to live, but also a way of making a commitment to the lives and needs of those who I don't know that well, who I can't necessarily relate to, who will be here long after I'm gone.
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Live chat for and about Wayne County citizens

I spent some time tonight getting a live chat feature working on the ProgressiveWayneCounty.org website. I believe it might be the only live chat room up and running that exists for Wayne County citizens in general...correct me if I'm wrong.

Hmmm, I wonder if we're ready for that. There's been some demand for it over time. On other community websites I've been involved in, it was quite a useful way for folks to connect, but that's often over a geographical distance. I don't want to make it any easier than it is to isolate ourselves from each other when we don't need to be, but for those who might not have time or inclination to meet in person about the issues at hand, an online chat can sure be handy. We'll see.

Our education system is broken

IMG_1334.JPGThis rant may eventually turn into a podcast segment, but I haven't had time for that and I can't wait any longer. The news has been all the buzz lately: Only 54% of Richmond Community Schools students graduated in 2006, putting us in the bottom 7% of Indiana high schools. There's the commentary on the school system's reaction, great thoughts on what to do and how the community can be more involved. And I'm sure some good things will come out of all of the discussion that is being generated.

But the bottom line for me is that that our system of education in the US is almost entirely broken, ill-conceived in the first place, and that calls to make incremental improvements to a broken system feel largely like a waste of time.

Old minds think "how do we stop these bad things from happening?" New minds think "how do we make things the way we want them to be?" If education in the city of Richmond, the state of Indiana, and the U.S. is to be improved or fixed, it will be with new minds, not new programs put in place by old minds.

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Linksys customer service destroyed by earthquake

I called the sales team at Linksys today to ask for help in picking which one of their products Summersault wanted to purchase. I saw this notice on their "contact us" web page:

Due to a major earthquake in the South-Pacific area, telephone, internet circuits, and services from the United States have interrupted our call center operations. We apologize for any inconvenience or delay and appreciate your patience.

I felt bad for them, but carried on and called them anyway, assuming that they would prioritize sales calls in their time of rebuilding. The guy who answered the phone made it very clear, before letting me say anything, that he would ONLY help me with PRE-SALES questions. (I suppose it's a universal problem that people call the sales extension when they really need technical support, assuming they'll get someone faster.) I said "okay, I need help deciding which one of your products to buy." I explained our requirements and which product I thought we needed, and his response was...

"Okay, let me get you over to..." and then I hear a click, and all of the sudden I'm back in their automated voicemail menu, with options that were completely unrelated to my question. No "can I transfer you?" or "Can you hold?," just an end to our sales conversation. Wow.

Now I know which Linksys product I need to buy: none of them.