Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A wonderful grand memory...

I haven't been blogging much this year. It's not due to lack of fodder, God knows, but lack of time. But yesterday, as Ron Hynes was being laid to rest, I remembered a story that after 33 years still makes me laugh. Therefore, I decided to make the time to get it written down.

Here it is...

In 1982, I was a third-year nursing student, a Nurse Intern as we were called then. In my class was a great friend of mine, Dianne Walsh, as she was then, before she married David Brown.

Dianne (r) and me at our 25th Anniversary, Class of '82. 

In 1st and 2nd year, Dianne would invite me to visit her hometown of Gander, to meet her family and friends, who soon became my friends. By my Intern year, I was routinely going back and forth to Gander on my own, while Dianne and David were 'courting' in St. John's.

Dianne's sister, Mary, was still in high school at the time. One day, while waiting for a friend to get off work, I picked up Mary from school. We went to the "Goose", an Irving gas station and restaurant just west of Gander out on the highway, for coffee and a chat.

When we pulled into the parking area, we both spotted a van gassing up at the pumps. The thing that made this van so attention-getting was that it was covered from bumper to bumper in Wonderful Grand Band logos and artwork. They had played a show in Gander the night before and were, presumably, heading to Grand Falls for their next gig.

ANYONE who knows Mary knows that back in the day, she was IN LOVE with Jamie Snider of WGB. I mean, "run-away-from-home-and-have-fiddling-babies" in love. I suspect she still is!

The object of Mary's affection!

We walked into the Goose, and it dawned on me that, gee, wouldn't it be fun to follow them to Grand Falls, and see where they go?!?! Mary was high school age, and I was only 21... as much up for an adventure then as I am now!

Needless to say, Mary was up for it too, so we dove back into my car and spun out onto the highway, heading west! They were already well ahead of us, so I had some catching up to do.

This was before "stalking" actually had a name!

Mary and me, 1996. The photo has been cropped to protect the innocent!

We eventually got the van in sight, and continued to follow them for the hour it takes to get to Grand Falls.

We had no idea about a lot of things - firstly, if it was actually THEM in the van, and secondly, where they were going. They could have been going to a restaurant, or someone's home... We didn't know and we didn't care. We were both just along for the ride!

Once they arrived in Grand Falls, we were THRILLED to discover that the van was going straight to the Arts & Culture Center. This just might work!

The van had gone around to an entrance in the back. I parked the car, and as we were getting out, we realized we had nothing with us to use to get autographs - no pen, no paper. For someone just having gotten out of class, Mary was very poorly equipped!


We went somewhere, a drugstore I think, to buy a notebook and pens, and hurried back to the Arts & Culture Center. We went in the main entrance. The place was deserted, except for a lone security guard, and the sound of music coming from the auditorium. Were we really going to have to tackle a security guard in our quest?!?! Not what we wanted, but girls gotta do what girls gotta do!

We tackled him with our charm, begging to be allowed to go in to listen to them practice, just for a minute! He was equally charming, and let us in without a moment's hesitation. It WAS 1982, after all. Chances were good that we had come in peace.

We walked in, and proceeded down the aisle on the left side of the theater. They were onstage, all casual, playing random bits of songs, tuning up.

We got to the bottom of the steps leading to the stage, when they noticed us. They stopped playing, and we started babbling!

"We just followed you here from Gander because we saw you at the Goose and we're huge fans and saw your Gander show and we really just want autographs and we'll leave, we promise!!" Very smooth. HA!

They told us to "come on up", and lo and behold, Margaret Harris and Mary Walsh (no relation) were sharing a stage with...

Jamie Snider

Glenn Simmonds

Sandy Morris

Ian Perry

Kevin MacNeil (photo not available)

...and... of course...

Ron Hynes. The Man of a Thousand Songs. Buried yesterday at 64 years of age.

It was a total thrill then, and for the past 33 years it's been a thrill to remember. We stayed about 10 minutes, chatting, making sure they knew that they were adored!! They were all so gracious and kind, and not at all annoyed for being interrupted.

The conversations I'd have NOW would be so much different than the infatuated silliness we felt then, but it was honest, and our admiration and appreciation for the Wonderful Grand Band hasn't ebbed, even after all these years.

I'm so glad I got to see them again six years ago, especially now, when such a reunion won't happen again.

Rest in peace Ron Hynes. You will be remembered for the small moments, too.


Monday, January 19, 2015


It is 3:25 a.m. Monday morning as I write this. Day One of my dear Dad's wake is done.

It concluded at about 9:15 p.m., at which time my brother Doug told my other brother, my sister and me that the priest who will be officiating at the funeral wants some Dad-related anecdotes that he can use in his homily. He knows Dad, but not as a father, so that was what he wanted.


We went back to Doug's house, my siblings, my siblings-in-law, and my niece Christine, around 9:30 p.m., and we all started talking. And talking. And talking some more. FINALLY, at 3:15 a.m., my brother Bill said, "B'ys, I hate to break this up, but we've GOT to go..."

But... I'll tell you this... in those six hours, I've laughed and cried and had the best time doing it than I ever remember. I'm sure that I'm no different than anyone else when I say that over the years, I've had differences of opinion with my brothers and sister, some that have sometimes seemed insurmountable. Tonight, however, proved to me that we are, first and foremost, the beloved children of parents that are both now passed on, who thought we were pretty great, even when the rest of the world might not have agreed. And by God, we thought our parents were second to none.

If I am lucky enough to EVER have as sublimely enjoyable and comforting and uniting a night ever again as we had tonight, I will be blessed indeed.

Rest in peace, Mom and Dad. You've left us in good hands - each others.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Herbicides, pesticides & vaccines - a message for those who consider them 'evil concoctions'...

It’s been a good long while since I ranted about anything, but tonight, I’m rarin’ to go. My latest rage? It’s aimed right directly at the jugulars of those tree-hugging bastards who, in their politically correct way, have decreed that tax-paying home-owners can no longer use herbicides (or pesticides) to keep their properties weed- and insect-free. (These are the same tree-hugging bastards who, in my humble opinion, should be made to show proof of having paid municipal taxes in order to be eligible to vote.)
Since 1998, I have paid in the neighborhood of $600 a year to The Weed Man, ($8,400.00, and now known as “TLC, Total Lawn Care” because of these same tree-hugging bastards) to come to my house several times a summer, and maintain my considerably large front and back lawns. Until last summer, my lawns were devoid of anything even remotely resembling a dandelion.
Today? My lawn looks like dandelions have become the national flower.
And WHY is THIS? As I opened with… some politically astute long-haired, drug-smoking, 1960s hippie leftover (one of whom used to be on St. John's City Council but had since been ceremoniously dumped by the electorate - YAY!) has decided that some equally repugnant weed in a 2-foot-square patch of mosquito-ridden Butterpot Park needs to be protected, so EVERYONE in this province needs to knock off any desire of having pride-of-property, and succumb to the vagaries of Weeds-Gone-Wild.
I stand corrected. Not “EVERYONE”. The provincial government, and municipalities, are all still happily spraying herbicides left, right and center, on lands I pay for, just as surely as I paid for my own piece of Newfoundland Heaven here in Airport Heights. The thing is… it’s a matter of “do as I say, not do as I do” when it comes to property maintenance.
Total, and utter, bull.
This, friends, is the same philosophical nonsense that disallows us from using pest control measures to keep earwigs, carpenters and their ilk from overrunning our property.
They’re all God’s creatures!! What did the innocent little earwig ever do to you?!?!
Do you want to know EXACTLY, and without any guile whatsoever, what the innocent little vermin have done? I’ll tell you.
Schools are starting to see upticks in kids with lice. Bed bugs are invading the Memorial University residences, and the Provincial Court, to name just two of the more public places. People are being advised to store their luggage in hotel room bathtubs to avoid bringing bedbugs home, even in 4- and 5- star hotels, let alone the infested nests of the Caribbean Third World, i.e. Cuba & the Dominican Republic. They’re everywhere, don’t kid yourself, and what can us non-tree-huggers do about protecting ourselves from the stupid decisions of others? Not one G.D. thing.
This “save the bedbugs as well as the seals” crowd won’t be happy until we’re living in the 14th century again. And you know what ELSE the 14th century had, that up until recently we didn’t? Rampant childhood diseases, that’s what. They’re now controllable by vaccines, BUT these mentally deficient Mother Earth freaks are now thinking it’s cool to not vaccinate their kids, leaving other non-vaccinated kids vulnerable. WTF is going on in this world?
“Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.” I think we’re galloping towards that end.
Don’t want to vaccinate your kids? Your kids should be taken away and protected from you. You’re a freak and an idiot. Just sayin’. Go to YouTube and watch a child in a full-blown whooping cough fit, and then tell me you’d want your child to have to live through that. Assuming they do.
I just went to YouTube to find an appropriate video to post here. There's one there entitled "Infant Girl with Whooping Cough" from the Mayo Clinic. I watched about 20 seconds of it and had to shut it down. I couldn't even find the pause button fast enough to make it stop. It was HORRIFIC. You can go look for yourself. I'm not posting it here.
Two succinct words for the tree-hugging mental midgets, who are affecting my quality of life, and the actual life and health of innocent children, with their insanity – “Eff you”, and the flea-bitten, rabid, glue-factory-bound horses you rode in on.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawn shovellers... What are ya AT?!?!?

I DO realize I'm far from perfect.

I have daily, if not hourly, reminders, don't worry, of my overabundance of fallibility. But, like all of us flawed mortals, I sometimes can't stop myself from judging others, and the group that is in my laser-vision crosshairs this week is... wait for it...

Those Idiots Who Shovel The Snow Off Their Lawns Every Spring

They drive me insane. Flat-out, head-spinning-around-on-my-neck, INSANE.

They are, invariably, men. Men who would rather look like complete idiots, out shovelling their lawns, rather than inside, helping the wife with a load of laundry, pushing around a vacuum, a dust cloth, scrub a toilet, empty garbage cans, or even - gasp - sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with her.


OK. So, there's a lame argument to be made, that maybe he's just doing it for the fresh air and exercise.

Buy a dog. Go for a walk. Stop looking like a chore-dodging moron.

(...and don't get me started about those who shovel the snow into the street!! Arses of the first order, every single one, no exceptions, I don't care where you live, or the legendary height of the snow around your house. Just sayin'...)

Not only that, but it is a well-documented fact that those with heart disease are at an increased risk of a heart attack in the winter, related to shovelling snow (lawn or otherwise). So tell me, Einstein, is it worth widowing your wife in order to get ahead of the green grass curve? I think not.

The only people who look stupider than lawn shovellers are... wait for it...

Those Idiots Who Snowblow Their Lawns Every Spring

I can't even begin, or I'll have a stroke...


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paying the price for a knee-jerk reaction...

Well, if 2013 was 'The Year of Being Crucified by Bell', then 2014 is very quickly turning into 'The Year of Realizing that Rogers is 100 Times Worse'.


WHO would believe it? I can't believe it, and I'm living it.
The saga, so far, is this:
Back in April, I bought an iPhone 5 from Bell Aliant. That didn't go so well, as I detailed at the time in this blog post. I reverted back to my flip phone four days later, and carried on, blissfully living in the '80's, telecommunicationsly-speaking.
Then, in September, I made yet more ongoing attempts to get reliable Internet service via a modem that would actually work, an effort that was years in the making, culminating in this heartfelt rant. Honestly, I really thought that "Six of Six" and I had a chance for happiness together. Alas, it was not to be...
In November, Bell jumped all over my one last nerve that they had been getting on, and - yes, you guessed it - the titular knee-jerk reaction occurred.
I did not detail in that last blog post what the instigating event was, the one that caused me to sever all ties. The fact of the matter was that even with my brand new modem (I assume it wasn't a reconditioned device), my Internet service was dropping on an almost daily basis. Despite multiple calls with someone named "Moira" in customer retention, no improvement happened.

It finally came down to ME asking HER if perhaps this brand new shiny "Fiber Op" that's all the rage these days might provide a solution. "Why, YES!", she said. "We could try that!!"

WHY didn't SHE suggest that to ME? After the hours we spent on the phone, why was it left up to ME to think of this? I suspect it was because it wouldn't have made the slightest difference, but she figured she'd get me off her back for a week or two by going along with this.

Regardless, I trudged on through life, and waited for November 26th, the day I was going to join the Fiber Op world.

That day, the young technician showed up at my door. He came in. I pointed him towards the electrical panels in the mud room. I turned to go upstairs when he asked me, "Where is the power bar?"

"What power bar?" I asked.

"The power bar you're supposed to have here for me to connect the Fiber Op."

"What do you MEAN, that I'm 'supposed to have here' for you?"

"They're supposed to tell you when you book this that you're supposed to have a power bar available because I'm going to need one to connect the Fiber Op."

I. Came. Unglued.

My car was having its winter tires put on. I had no way of getting this thing he needed. I was beyond livid. After every misstep by Bell along this tortuous route, yet one more stupid thing to go wrong.

Apparently, when the rest of the world's population calls Bell Aliant to get Fiber Op, it's customary to be instructed to ensure one has a power bar available for the technician. When people treat me like I live on another planet, because that's how I feel when I'm THE ONLY ONE ON EARTH WHO WASN'T TOLD THIS, then I get testy, I confess.

So I said to the technician, "We're going to stop this RIGHT NOW, and I'm going to ask you to leave. I have no car available to run out and get a power bar, and no one at Bell was interested enough to tell me this minor but significant detail BEFORE you appeared here today. Sorry to have wasted your time."

The first call I made was to Customer Retention Moira's voice mail, to let her know that my second call was going to be to Rogers, because, to quote the famous line from the 1976 movie 'Network', "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

So I called Rogers, and  got "Serge", their go-to guy for snagging beaten-down, frustrated, nowhere-left-to-turn, former Bell-ites. He had me hook, line and sinker. You can tell just by the enthusiasm in my blog post about breaking up with Bell how happy he made me, but I was ripe for the pickin'.

I lolled about in my blissful ignorance of what was about to transpire, until around December 9th.

My instructions from Serge regarding the cell phones were that three sim cards were to be sent to me, for the three smartphones I was bringing to Rogers. I was to hold onto these until I received my shiny new gold iPhone 5S, at which point all the phones would be activated at the same time. He was very apologetic to me in explaining that I could be waiting upwards of two weeks for the iPhone to arrive, as it was so near Christmas and they were in such high demand. "Not to worry", said I. "I've been 'living the nightmare' for the better part of a year. I can wait another two weeks."

In actual fact, my iPhone arrived five days later. "Woo hoo", said I. Unfortunately, the sim cards were nowhere to be seen, so I could not activate my phone. I waited a couple of days, then called Serge, who was in the midst of apologizing again for my iPhone's delay when I interrupted him to say my phone was already here, but... uh... where are the sim cards? He wheeled and he dealed with his management peeps, as if I was Rogers' most important customer, or so he was trying to make me believe. By this time (and not much had happened yet), I was starting to weary of his 'can-do' bluster. But, he did get the sim cards to me within two days, so here it was, December 9th, and we're all ready to get the phones up and running.

If only it had been that easy.

I had dispersed the sim cards to the owners of the other three phones. I called Rogers, and here's where it began to fall apart, epically.

I called the number Serge had given me for the porting center. Some young missus answered, and was belligerent from the git-go. She was the poster child for Monday morning hangovers, I swear. Snippy, talking down to me, and all I wanted was to activate my phones!!! I finally said to her, "Miss, you are the very first person at Rogers that I've come across who has been as impatient and rude as this. I am going to hang up the phone now and call back, and hopefully be connected with someone who has even just a fleeting interest in helping me today, which you do not." As I was about to press the button on my phone to disconnect her, I could hear her shout, "I'M NOT RUDE!!" Ri-i-i-ight!

I then did as I said I'd do. I called back and was connected with a young man who was very pleasant and helpful, but who had never done this before. It took well over an hour, but eventually he managed to get all the numbers ported over from Bell to Rogers. YAY.

But then, he told me that I was going to have to call Bell in order to get the phones unlocked. HUH?!?! But-but-but, I explained to him, Serge had told me that I would never have to deal with Bell again. All I had to do was call the porting center, and my phones would be taken care of from there. Not so, I learned. I had to call Bell to get them to unlock the phones, and no one else could do that for me.

So, I called Bell, grumbling an imagined conversation with Serge the whole time. I get in touch with a guy who took it as a personal affront that I was leaving Bell. He unlocked the phones for me all right - at $50 + tax EACH for the privelige. No wonder Sweet-Talkin' Serge left out that little detail.

I called one of my three phone-holders, only to discover that the sim card sent for her phone was the wrong one. It didn't fit her Samsung. Dammit. So, in the midst of all these calls, (every one of which, I might add, was prefaced by at least 20 - 30 minutes of "Please do not hang up! Your call is very important to us! You will be taken care of by the next available representative!"), I then had to down-tools and pick up my niece-in-law, and take her to the Avalon Mall so she could get her proper sim card.

Once this was done, they all had to call and get their phones activated. Every one of the phones had various things wrong with them following the activation with Rogers. One didn't ring, it went straight to voicemail. Every time another rang, regardless of who was calling, MY name appeared on the screen. And so on. I had to call Rogers and give the three of them access priveliges so that they could call at their own convenience and sort out the issues. I had enough on my own plate to deal with.

That night, December 9th, I finally had a chance to play with my own, new iPhone 5S. I discovered that in the course of less than 4 hours' use, I had used 80% of the battery power.Not one song, not one video, only a few phone calls, no texting. Just downloading about 10 apps, and looking at the various ones that came with it. Nothing outrageous or intense. Now, I know these phones chew up batteries way faster than flip phones, but I was pretty certain that 4 hours was a tad quick, even for an iPhone, certainly when you consider that I spent most of the day on the OTHER phone with Bell and Rogers!

I plugged in my phone to charge it, and after 6 hours, it was still only 80% completed. This couldn't possibly be right.

The next morning, I called the Apple Store. They did remote testing of the phone over the course of the day, and at the end of it, they agreed to repair / exchange it for me. There were two ways to get this to happen: #1 - they'd send me a box, I'd put my phone in the box, send it away, and get it or a replacement back in a week, or, #2 - pay them $30, they'd send me a box with a new iPhone in it, I'd take that one out, put in my broken one, and send it back. I knew I was soon going to get nailed by Bell for breaking contracts on two of the phones already, so paying more for a phone that was sent to me broken just was not an option.

So now, for a week, I was without an iPhone, OR a flip phone!!

The phones, as I've already said, were activated on December 9th. A couple of days later, I received my first bill from Rogers, which detailed the "partial month payments" for all these phones plus my own iPhone, from Nov. 27th to Dec 9th!! I was being charged for 12 days for phones which didn't even have the right sim card (in one case) and which had not even been activated, in all cases!!!! Up until Dec. 9th, these were all STILL Bell phones! And in the case of MY phone, it was in a box on it's way to the Apple Store, a useless paperweight!! GMAFB!!!

I had a sneaking suspicion there and then that moving everything to Rogers was not going to end well.

There was 'peace in the valley' until December 28th. Nothing more had gone wrong with the phones. I had received my new iPhone on December 17th, and its battery seemed to be vastly more muscular than the other one. Whew!

However, out of every 10 calls I place, 9 of them 'fail' on the first attempt. This is not a hill I'm prepared to die on, just yet. Too many other battles before this one rises in urgency, but I am not forgetting it, not a chance. It will be fun watching Rogers and Apple do the "it's-your-fault-no-its-your-fault" dance.

December 28th was the day that the young Rogers technician was coming to my house to set up my new Internet, television and home phone. No more dropped Internet service. All was going to be right with the world, right?


Very, very wrong.

He rang the bell. I answered the door. Almost the very first words out of his mouth were, "Do you have the power bar???" A true deja vu moment, if ever there was one.

I said something to the effect of, "You've gotta be kidding me." But alas, he wasn't.

I flipped, yet again.

He continued talking, asking me where I wanted the cable/modem for the telephone. The TELEPHONE? What do you mean, "the telephone"??? In the same sentence with the words, "cable/modem"???

I was about to learn something that many others, thankfully, seemed not to know as well:

Rogers' home telephones run off a cable/modem system, NOT the 'copper wire' system that has traditionally powered landlines since landlines came into being. The difference is a pretty huge one - the traditional phone is not affected by power outages, whereas the cable/moden telephones have a battery back-up, which will last only 8 hours. After that, you must revert to smoke signals, tin cans on either end of a string, or yelling really-really loudly. Your Rogers landline will be useless. Those with copper wire systems will have uninterrupted telephone service, even if the power is out for a month.

I did not know this. Serge sure-as-hell didn't tell me this.

So here is this poor technician, looking at me, a crazy woman, who not only laughed uncontrollably when he asked for the damned power bar, but was NOW having a fit because of the lackluster landline limitations to which I was about to be subjected.

I got on the phone to Rogers. I spoke to everyone I could think of, from Serge's weekend colleagues, to people in the technical department, to customer retention. Same answer. It is what it is.

I felt completely had. Ripped off, fooled, and foolish. I'm an educated, responsible adult. I should have seen this coming. I should have stepped back from Too-Good-To-Be-True Serge, but I was so blindly angry at Bell that there was no way in my reckoning that Rogers could be worse.

In my particular line of work, one aspect is related to being on call. HOW can I be on call with any confidence when I'm now relying on a cell phone that must be charged daily, and another phone that could be subjected to a power loss overnight, hence rendering it inactive?

Every time I've expressed this concern, about the loss of phone service in power outages, to Rogers, their response is invariably, "Is that really likely to happen?" My response - "Hell, ya!!" So far this year, in the first WEEK of this year, we've already had two storm-related power outages, both in excess of 8 hours. Again last week, lights out! This is Newfoundland. It happens. For real. And the winter is just getting underway. Just because Toronto gets a bit of ice every century or so, they figure no one else can possibly have it worse than they do!!! Mainlanders!

Later on in the evening after the Rogers tech had hooked up everything, my brother stopped by to fix my snowblower. When we were done with that, he came up into the living room, and we discovered that my TV picture was all distorted, and the TV was no longer connected to my surround sound system. For the next several hours, he got right into the guts of everything, and at the end of it I finally had HDTV and surround sound, using more of my own cables than anything Rogers had provided! The Rogers guy had left me with totally substandard television, that I would have had to just put up with if I didn't have a brother who is an Electronics Technician with CBC.

The TV remote control: 8,000 buttons - no source of instruction. Every page I went to on the Rogers website, and I read every single one, emphasized how to use Rogers on Demand, but NOTHING about the basic operation of the remote. Fortunately, my sister was able to lend me her wisdom and now I can at least find and change channels.

The interesting thing about Rogers on Demand? I've gone into it, and opened most all of the folders for the various shows / movies / features, and all I ever get is this message:

Every single option I choose under "Rogers on Demand", this is what I get. No exceptions. If I cared enough, I'd probably call tech support, but I really don't. It just makes me a little more angry that something to which I'm supposed to be entitled is not available to me.

Channels that I used to get with Bell I now have to pay $10/month for, so I don't get them. There are about 5 channels I watch with any regularity. I have 265 channels that are absolutely of no use or interest to me.

I went to check what recordings I had set up the other day, and there were none there, even though I had figured that part out. They HAD been there, and had been recording for over a week, but then all of a sudden, nothing! Another day, another call to tech support. I wouldn't mind if it wasn't for the 30 minute wait to get someone on the line.

After the power outages I mentioned, which occurred earlier this month, my ADT home security system ceased functioning, partly because it, too, has a limited battery backup, but also (I firmly believe) because something was screwed up with the crappy cable/modem phone I now have, the two of which are inextricably linked. So, I called ADT to make an appointment for a technician to come fix my security system. Purely by coincidence, I opened my front door the morning the tech was supposed to arrived, and found a 'sorry I missed you' card hanging on my front door. Here I was, sat in my living room watching TV, waiting for the guy to arrive. No knock on the door, to be sure, but my phone certainly did not ring. I called ADT and asked what had gone on. They told me that the guy said he'd phoned, but it had gone straight to voice mail. I tried calling my own home phone with my iPhone, and sure enough, no calls were coming through.

I called Rogers. AGAIN. I have always hated that little musical clip that they use as an audible logo or something, but now it rattles my every nerve. I got yet another tech, who told me that "this happens from time to time", and the best way to prevent it is to reboot my telephone every two or three weeks. Is he for effin' real?

I hung up the phone from him, and went to get my mail. In my mail was a card from Bell, saying how sorry they were to see me go, but if I called now, I could get my home phone hooked back up again with no reactivation fee. It was a sign from God.

I called Bell, and they are coming tomorrow morning, JUST to install my trusty copper-wire phone system again. I have eschewed voice mail, caller ID, 3-way calling (which is not something I'd ever use, anyway), and all the other bells and whistles. All I want is a phone that will ring when someone calls. If you don't get an answer, call back. Simple as that. Plus, when Rogers finds out that I've dismantled my 'bundle', I'll be paying a bomb in penalties, because I am unable and unwilling to be satisfied with a Mattel-quality phone at this stage of my life.

My landline phone has a light which flashes when I have voicemail. It's been flashing for over a week. I keep turning it off, but it keeps flashing. I have set up voicemail to email, but only today did I actually get an email. I have no idea how to retrieve the messages that are apparently there for me to hear. Bad, bad, bad. But after tomorrow, I won't have to worry about that, any more!

I found a place on the Rogers website where a person can submit a complaint. One can send it to Management, and if not satisfied with the response, it can go to the President, and again if one is not satisfied, it can go to the Ombudsman.

It asks for a brief description of the issue. My starting line was, "I cannot give a brief history. I have had an almost daily history since November 27th."

About two days later, on January 25th, I received a request from someone named "Leah" asking for my name, address, date of birth and a PIN, which I don't have, so they could verify me re: my complaint. I responded. That's the last I've heard, and the last I expect to hear. I'll give 'em a week, and then I'll go to the next level.

I ended my email to Leah, "If all of your customers have had the shocks and surprises that I have had in one month, I wonder how it is possible that you are in business at all." And, my friends, as they say, no truer words were ever spoken.

It's been an exhausting experience, one from which I will emerge not even close to victorious. Whether I stay with Rogers, or go back to Bell, or share services between them, I shall forever be left with the distasteful sensation that I am being fleeced at every turn by substandard services and half-truths. A terrible way to feel about those with whom one must do business.

Where's Verizon when you want them? Oh yes, that's right. The government kept them out, in order to keep the coffers at Bell and Rogers overflowing, and their CEOs in pocket change. A slightly-but-not-entirely-off-topic fact: Did you know that most CEOs make more by noon on January 2nd of each year than the rest of us earn in an entire year? Food for thought.

The question I ask myself at times like this is this: "Is this the level of service Stephen Harper receives from his personal telecomms service provider(s), and if not, why can't I receive that level of service, too?" I don't mean the high-tech security stuff. I mean TV. Telephone. Internet. Mobility. Those facets of Western society that most take for granted, until something goes wrong. I'm just hoping that one day soon, something will start going right.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas parties & the lost art of conversation...

I went out for a birthday dinner the other night with a life-long friend. She was born in November, and I arrived in December, so annually, we'll take ourselves out someplace nice to celebrate each other's day. A very nice tradition that I hope goes on for dozens and dozens more years to come!!

At one point in the evening, the conversation came around to how often it is seen that several people will be together, in the same room, around the same table, yet not a word is being spoken. All heads are bowed in homage to the wonders of the iPhone.

(I will use the term 'iPhone' generically here, because not everyone is as lucky as ME to have received their gold iPhone 5S in the mail today, after an aborted attempt back in May to own one, which ended in tears. But I digress...)

"Yes", I agreed. "No one speaks to each other any more. I'd love to know who they talk / text / email to and what about, for hours and hours and hours at a stretch."

(Maybe I'm about to find out once I power up my new gold iPhone 5S. Have I mentioned already that I got mine today?!?!)

And so our conversation went, and eventually moved on to other commentary of life, the universe and everything. It was a lovely evening.

Tonight, at the supper table after we had eaten, my sister, nephew and I were chatting. The topic rolled around to a couple of Christmas parties we had both heard of recently, and a phenomenon which seems to be gaining in popularity.

Apparently, the 'thing' to do these days at parties is to announce the winners of awards that have been voted on beforehand, involving many (or all) of the attendees. Let me explain that better:

A list of 'awards' is produced, and this list is distributed to all those who will be attending, in the days before the event. Everyone is supposed to fill in names by each award of the person they feel is most deserving, for example:

"The person most likely to spill their coffee on themselves..."

"The person who swears the most..."

"The most helpful person..."

"The person most likely to have a substance abuse problem..."

"The person most likely to receive the most chocolates from clients each Christmas..."

The results are tallied, and the winner of each 'award' is the person who has received the most votes in that category.

So, you see how this goes. Some are flattering, others are edgy, while others are downright hurtful, or certainly have the potential of being interpreted that way.

It was amazing to each of us that we knew of many examples of these kinds of activities occurring this Christmas season. It's clearly not a 'one off', not a unique occurrence. It's going on more often than I would ever have guessed.

The three of us were hashing out, around the table, our thoughts on why groups of otherwise intelligent, educated, mature people, in many and various walks of life, would find what I consider to be juvenile, school-yard-ish behaviour so freakin' amusing. Maybe it's copied from some reality TV show. I don't watch them so I wouldn't make the connection.

I think, though, that I've figured it out. It's very simple:

The art of conversation is lost. Not dying, lost. People do not know how to relate to others anymore. We've become a breed of head-bowed texters, who would rather talk about the weather to someone across town than discuss the same thing, eye to eye, with the people in the same room.

The hours and hours and hours of texting that some people engage in during the run of a single day, every day, cannot all be accounted for with cerebral matters and world-problem-solving. More likely it's one bitching to another about why the garbage wasn't put out that morning. Which leads to another thought...

Why not call?

Why not take 25 seconds to say / ask / tell, versus half an hour typing out thoughts that, because of the lack of non-verbal context, are likely to be misconstrued if the issue is more involved than who's bring home the milk tonight?

I just don't understand.

All I know is this - people are, by degrees, losing the social skill of conversation. Blame it on what you like, but it is happening all around you, me, and everyone else. Personally, I blame it on the "smart" phones, that are making people stupid, one lost conversation at a time.

The most recent example proving this is the advent of these 'awards'. People don't know what to say to co-workers outside of the work setting, so let's conceive conversational 'filler', and when that's done and everyone has been ceremoniously laughed with, or at, then break out the karaoke!!!! ANYTHING but having to talk to one another.

It's sad.

I grew up in a home where each Christmas, my parents held a massive Christmas party, catered, bartender, the works. If my siblings and I had any notion of joining the fun, we had to dress the part, and we had to have a tray of hors d'oeuvres to pass around. It was the single most educational tool in learning the art of conversation which my parents gave me. If I could negotiate a room full of people, from all socio-economic strata with a serving tray, chatting and being charming especially to those who've had a sip too much of Christmas cheer, then I could take on just about any room going.

But now, Christmas parties have devolved to something just a smidgeon above pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Why are we now satisfied with events that, let's face it, are getting less and less dignified as the seasons progress?

We only have to be satisfied if we allow it, for ourselves. I don't allow it. Not for me. There is nothing I enjoy more than a sublime glass of wine, and a good, hours-long, challenging conversation. There is nothing that I find more tedious than watching adults desperately clinging on to their childhood antics with wrinkly, veiny hands.

Call me a snob. P-f-f-f-f-t!! I've been called worse! I prefer the term 'dignified'. I also like the term 'age-appropriate'. We apply it to activities / toys / movies to which we expose our children. What about those to which we expose ourselves?????

I have nothing more to add to this conversation. ;-)


Saturday, November 30, 2013

An online chat with Bell Aliant, or "how to suck the joy of life out of yourself in 5 minutes or less..."

An illustration of yet another fruitless conversation with a Bell Aliant employee.
One more reason why I can't get Bell out of my life fast enough to suit me...
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Thank you for your patience an online representative will be with you shortly. Your wait time is approximately 0 minute(s).
You are chatting with Faheel.
Your name:
Your number: 709-999-9999

Your question: I received an email 3 hours ago, advising about the change to a Mobility service that will take effect on my next bill, and include the period from now until the next billing date. Problem is... I DID take my nephew to upgrade his phone, yesterday, but ultimately DID NOT UPGRADE THE PHONE, or make any changes to the account. I did not sign anything. Therefore, there should be NO charge associated with anything, as there was nothing changed.
Faheel: I'll be glad to help you and check your account.
Faheel: Can I have your full name and email address?
Margaret: Margaret Xxxxxx
Faheel: Thank you for that information. Let me goa head and pull up your account.
Faheel: Thank you for patiently waiting. U
Faheel: May I know your plan for this account?
Margaret: Plan???
Faheel: Yes, your current monthly plan if you still remember?
Margaret: I don't know what you're asking. I have an account, four cell phones on it. I was going to upgrade one of the phones and decided not to. Now I'm getting a notification of a change to the bill that will occur because of a CHANGE THAT WAS NOT MADE. I do not know what you're asking about a 'plan'.
Faheel: Okay, Upon checking your account, it appears that you did not upgrade your phone as your contract is still the same from 11/10/2011 until 11/09/2013 but it also shows that you change your plan to Voice and Data Lite $60 starting November 28, 2013.
Margaret: There was no change on Nov. 28th. We went to the local Bell outlet, picked out a phone, but when the terms and conditions were reviewed with me, I refused to sign, and the transaction was ended. The original phone was reactivated and everything was to continue as it had been.
Margaret: If the guy changed it from what it had been on Nov 27th, then he should have changed it back. I authorized NOTHING.
Faheel: Then I strongly suggest for you to go back to the store as I can see on your account your plan was changed on Nov. 28, 2013.
Faheel: Or you can also call our client care for this matter.
Faheel: The telephone number for our Client Care department is 1 800 667-0123. The office hours are Monday to Friday, 8am to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 6pm.
Margaret: Thank you very much. I appreciate the information.
Faheel: Thank you for chatting with me. Have a good night!
Margaret: You too. (Grrrr...)
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I wouldn't believe this if it wasn't happening to me. Daily.
As far as I understand, Rogers' service outside of St. John's is poor, but firstly, I rarely venture west of the Overpass except under duress, and secondly, I'd rather revert to Morse Code than deal with Bell for one moment longer than I absolutely have to. Unbeliveable.