Is it possible for Sprint customer service to be this bad?

Presenting: another epic saga of wireless phone company incompetence...bear with me.

I'd had my Sprint cell phone and plan since 2001 - six years of relatively problem free operation (minor billing annoyances aside). And they recognized that I was a loyal customer who always paid my bill on time - in recent years they regularly sent me offers to "upgrade my plan" or my phone and receive a billing credit (but we all know this is because they wanted me to renew my vows and sign on to a new contract).

Recently, I decided that I wanted to look at a phone upgrade. 6 years had taken its toll on my Samsung A500, and I was excited about the possibility of a phone that would better sync up its contacts and calendar with my computer. I had asked Slashdot about such a product a few years ago, but the offerings were much more promising now.

Continue reading Is it possible for Sprint customer service to be this bad?

Ethanol as a local, national energy solution?

In today's Palladium-Item, Brian Bergen with the Richmond-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee has a piece about Ethanol as a solution to the nation's energy problems.

I'm so glad that the Chamber is focusing on the relationship between agribusiness and the energy crisis that we face as a nation and as a planet. I'm also glad that the solutions we're talking about are keeping in mind a systems approach - how the inputs and outputs from a particular industrial or energy-generating process can be used as efficiently as possible.

But I hope that whatever solutions we pursue take into account that there is a tremendous amount of energy that goes into making our agricultural system work, and so any energy solutions derived from it must take that cost into account. The USDA recently noted that ethanol generates little more energy than it takes to produce. Some scientists have shown that ethanol production consumes 6 units of energy for every 1 it produces.
Continue reading Ethanol as a local, national energy solution?

I.C. 36-4-5 (Or, a Wanted Ad for Richmond's Next Mayor)

Before developing any thoughts on the suitability of the candidates currently running for the office of Mayor of Richmond, I thought it would be worth clarifying just what our mayor is supposed to be able to do for us, and what one has to do to run. Starting out at the Palladium-Item website by searching for the keyword "Mayor" was discouraging, as it lists former mayor and current Chamber of Commerce president Dennis Andrews as the person currently occupying the Mayor's office. Hmmm.

I popped on over to the City of Richmond website to see what it said. Quote, "The Mayor is the City executive and head of the executive branch. He or she shall faithfully perform the duties and responsibilities contained in I.C. 36-4-5."

I.C. 36-4-5? Oh wait, I think I know what that means...it's Indiana Code section 36 subsection 4 paragraph 5. According to it, here's what the Mayor is supposed to do:
Continue reading I.C. 36-4-5 (Or, a Wanted Ad for Richmond's Next Mayor)

Why I Am Quiet

A lot of people notice that in many settings, I'm a pretty quiet person. I don't mind telling them that I generally have an withdrawn personality, and that I tend to do better in conversations that are one-on-one or with small groups of people who I know, as opposed to large groups or gatherings of strangers. I notice that I can be very outgoing in situations where I have a clearly defined role to play - such as a talk I'm giving on a topic I feel knowledgeable about, or a party I'm hosting. But on the whole, I'm quiet.

It's important to me to distinguish this way of being from the classical definition of what it means to be an introvert, "a person who is more interested in his or her own self than in in other people." I know plenty of people who fit this definition well - they become so occupied with their inner existence and interests that they forget (or never learn) how to respond well to external stimuli, how to be sensitive to the physical and verbal signals given off by those around them, how to communicate well with others. While I understand and respect the ways that someone could manifest that personality, and while I see that they can find other ways to be brilliant communicators or express themselves magnificently, it's very important to me to be sensitive to and interested in the beings and happenings in the world around me, as much as I am in my own self.

So if I'm not a classic introvert, what am I? I think I'm just someone who prefers to be quiet in settings where quiet is not always the norm. I do this in part as a way of bearing witness to the many kinds of ways in which there is not enough quiet in our lives.
Continue reading Why I Am Quiet

For national security reasons

IMG_1838.JPGIt's interesting to me that the phrase "for national security reasons," offered by the U.S. government and governments around the world to justify various uncomfortable activities (withholding information from or spying on its citizens, demanding cooperation from corporations in legal gray areas, etc.) is so commonly used and so consistently effective. It's effectiveness is based on an apparently safe assumption that the American people largely subscribe to at least one of two world-views: 1) The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and 2) the government knows what's best for us as individual citizens better than we do ourselves.

How do these world-views work in the government's favor?

Continue reading For national security reasons

Past Mistakes, Present Opportunities

When we encounter new people in our lives and consider what they might have to bring to us and what we might have to bring to them, we have to decide how we're going to evaluate who they really are - do we look at their current statements and actions and opinions, or do we look at the statements, actions and opinions from their past? Or something in between?

Some of the most warm and genuine people I know are those who look deeply and decide that they want to be connected to you because of who you are right now. They may learn later about your past and how you got here, but nothing is as important in their consideration as how you live your life right now.

How do you figure out how much you care about someone's past compared to their present life and intended future? How do you decide what makes someone a person you want to get to know better?

Goodbye, Misty the Cat

011 7AOn Saturday, February 24th, my cat Misty died after the cancer she had been struggling with had become too much for her to handle. It was a loving and peaceful death, and she was buried near one of her favorite spots in the yard.

Misty had a long life - upwards of 16 years - and was a wonderful companion throughout. I never thought of myself as a "cat person," but I inherited her from other family members and she grew on me. She didn't always have the warmest disposition when you encountered her at first - in recent years I think she had forgotten what her "nice meow" sounded like, so every entreaty or remark, even the happy ones, were done in the tone of a kitty with better places to be. But she made friends with strangers quickly, wasn't afraid to look a little silly in the name of effective and comprehensive play-time, and always knew when it was time to cuddle up. And bless her heart for tolerating my experimentation with various gadgets that were meant to make her more comfortable - the automatic litterbox cleaner, the battery-powered timer-based feeding contraption, the elaborate windowsill lounging surface structures. I think she sensed my good intentions all along, even if she didn't share my enthusiasm. 🙂

If you want, you can make a donation to 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com in honor of Misty - they help homeless pets all over North America to get adopted into loving homes like the one she had.

Goodbye, Misty.