Saturday, May 31, 2014

Things that are most likely the devil?

Need a yeti? Source
In 2011, Time magazine did a comprehensive study on customer service satisfaction: it revealed that at least 1 in 2 people have a story to tell about their own personal customer service HELL. I have a new one but instead of leading me to hell it led me somewhere "colder."

Which of the following occurred when I recently called customer service after I discovered debit card fraud? (Spoiler: it’s all of them!)

a. Choose from among these six options.
b. Choose from among these four sub-options.
c. Remain on hold for 15 minutes. 
d. Informed that this office cannot help because they process only lost or stolen cards, not card fraud. Huh? 
e. Redirected to another office.
f.  Repeat.
g. New office can’t help either. Redirected back to the original office.
h. Repeat.
i. Original office wants to know: who gave me this number?
j. No words. Asked for supervisor. Similar "can't help" message. Told that only credit cards are processed through their service. Debit card can only be cancelled by bank. Bank closed. No emergency number. (Already knew that but still incredulous: not acceptable.) Respectfully asked the representative if HE would be ok with leaving  HIS bank account vulnerable to a criminal with a bogus version of HIS debit card accessing ATMs in New York all weekend. New flash: Nope. He wouldn't. But he still couldn't help. 
k. Cry out to the sky.
l. Phone random office numbers at bank branches like I’m playing Ding-Dong-Ditch.
m. Office closed, directed to voice mail.
n. Next. Repeat. Office closed, directed to voice mail.
o. Next. Repeat. Office closed, directed to voice mail. 
q. Scotch.
r. Next. Repeat.
s. “Hello.”
t. Confused, momentarily forget why and whom I called.
u. Person revealed she is not officially at work but she will take care of the problem.

WHAT? YES! And that, my friends, is how I found the YETI of customer service! People: never give up. If you search hard enough, true customer service people really do exist.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

ambiguous innovation.

How does my wife fashion a new bbq lighter? With a fondue fork and a birthday cake candle. Obvs. I had my doubts at first but truly, it's absolute idiot-genius and I love it. This is that scenario whereby a stink-eye first impression soon morphs into pride and a fist-bump.

"I like nonsense. It wakes up the braincells." ~Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


by Nate X
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~Maya Angelou

If stories are birds then inside us are both hummingbirds and pterodactyls. Which ones will you set free?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just so you know, the answer is no.

Is a veggie burger a poor substitute?

-1 can of kidney beans (crushed with a fork)
-1 cup of rolled oats
-1/2 cup salsa
-2 chopped green onions
-red pepper flakes (or chopped jalapeno)
-salt, cracked pepper, spices

Shape it. Cook it. Eat it. Yum.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Last summer I borrowed my brother's ladder. And his gloves. What I used them to do wasn't really important. But he would have liked that I completed the task, a task I truly wish he was still here to do. If he were here he may have nodded and then he would have directed me to another task. My brother was a doer. He was always getting things done without any hesitation, or so it seemed to me.

I'm a thinker but I need to remind myself to be a little more like my brother and get things done. Don't get me wrong: I'm not lazy. I don't often need a push. I just get lost in my head occasionally. As the saying goes, it's impossible to climb a ladder with your hands in your pockets.

Folks, think about this: maybe the memory of someone is like a ladder. Borrow your courage wherever you can. And keep climbing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wish Machine

Like everyone else, I’m still waiting for flying cars but I’m prepared to wait a little longer now because I've recognized that the future is actually already here. Let me state the obvious again: the future is NOW. And how do I know?

It’s thanks to one astonishing invention. Truthfully, this invention makes as much sense to me as texting does to most Grandmas. I don’t understand how it works but, like gas prices, not everything can be explained so let’s just focus on what’s important: no one could have predicted this invention would EVER exist. AND YET IT DOES. I’m referring to the ultimate creation machine (now available for personal use): the 3D printer.

Thinking about it just makes me sweat. IMAGINE the possibilities.

Before I share some possibilities, let’s just ponder a 3D printer shall we? I love all things creative. Creative people or “creatives” LOVE to brainstorm. Think of the moment someone brainstormed a 3D printer. Genius? Yes. Practical? No. And that is my point. What creatives DON’T or SHOULDN’T do while brainstorming is evaluate their thinking. That comes later, and it should, but during the beginning stage, creativity is KILLED by judgment. In other words, one must let the mind go, let it fly. Some of those ideas will leave the nest successfully and some will hit the ground head on. Feathers everywhere? That’s ok. Creativity is always messy and sometimes even ridiculous. But that’s necessary. Think about it. This notion explains everything from pet rocks to chocolate dipped donuts stuffed with cookie dough. How could those two delights exist if someone had been using judgment? And yet, imagine our world without them.

And that’s why the 3D printer is amazing. Not only is it creativity itself; it encourages more creativity. It’s like brainstorming come to life. It’s like a wish machine that makes wishes! That’s why I want my own 3-D printer to...(Reminder: no judgement please.)

1.      Make me extra copies of my glasses (in case I lose them again).
2.      Make money. C’mon, you were thinking it too.
3.      Make me abs. Just press print and boom, I'm a hottie.

And so much more too. Plus, just imagine being with a group of friends in somebody’s garage with a 3D printer (insert giddiness here)...oh the things we’d manufacture!

Okay, now you can judge, but I hope you’ll agree that even if these print jobs are nuts, creativity not only predicts the future, it produces it. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dear Dude,

I want to say we've all been in your shoes and really, we have, but your shoes were particularly uncomfortable that day when you found yourself behind me in the grocery store line-up after the cashier charged me for 83 plastic bags instead of just 3 especially when she tried to void them but some till code error inspired that machine to make a noise like an airport security violation (just enough to make us all feel uncomfortable and somehow guilty) and yes, you and I both knew it was inevitable, she had to locate a manager to void the transaction because the entry-level cashier was not privy to the override code needed to void it herself and so we waited while she tried to CSI a more senior employee and then she finally did and did I mention only two tills were open (?) and so the dead-on-the-inside manager came and was going to void the transaction but that's when she discovered that the #8 till button was stuck and of course, she needed to void 80 bags, not 79 and thus she needed the #8 OF COURSE SHE DID and thus even with the middle upper management void code she would be unable to void what we all so desperately NEEDED her to void so she tried to use her fingernails to dislodge the button and then probably neither of us would have predicted that the button would actually pop off the till and so then the manager lady attempted to refasten the #8 button several ways while making a joke I couldn't concentrate on because my brain was in CTRL ALT DEL mode because by then it was oh I don't know 38 minutes later or maybe the store had closed already oh I don't know because I glanced at you and noticed your head was hanging all droopy-like over your jar of pickles and whatever else and the cashier apologized and I thanked her but I sort of wanted to start laughing like a maniac, you know what I mean, that sort of laughing that's intended to reestablish sanity because inside it's suddenly like time has stopped and this is the moment when all the weight of one's incredible powerlessness in the face of not adversity but the profound overwhelming mundane-ness of the world settles like asbestos into one's lungs and then finally, FINALLY the #8 button was repaired and she voided the transaction and dude, I'm serious, you deserve some sort of award for choosing the worst, THE ABSOLUTE WORST grocery store line-up in the absolutely history of line-ups because dude, no one should be that unlucky, like SERIOUSLY and I felt your pain, that pain emanating from you like heat waves off pot-hole ridden asphalt but you persevered man, you persevered and you bought those pickles dude, you BOUGHT THOSE PICKLES without complaining or weeping or any whiff of whatever terrible inner goings-on were surely tumbling inside you like wet clothes in vent-less dryer!

And that, dude, is why you are my hero.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Her song, her carol.

It’s fitting that it’s May. Spring was my Mom’s favourite season. She also liked summer, fall and winter (mostly). She also loved hummingbirds and bees and frogs and water and leaves and soil and seeds and garden corn and veggies and books and Bugs Bunny: “what a maroon!” Her name was Carol.

She had a great name didn’t she? As you know, Carol means “song” or “to sing.” If your life were a song, what would it sound like? What would the lyrics be? Would its patterns rhyme or would random rule? (My Mom lived random.) Would people line dance to it or would they head-bang or would they flash mob or would they hold still, listening carefully waiting for what might come next? What images would bloom from those sounds and from those words in listeners’ minds? Would it inspire? Would it warn? Would it question? Would it shock? Would it soothe? Would we laugh? Would we long to hear it again and again?

My Mom’s song would sound like a ball game and a picnic but only after hard work and perseverance and sweat. Her song would sound like corn stalks in a garden tended dutifully. Her song would be the squeak of her countertop every Saturday morning as she kneaded bread dough. (I often woke to that sound.) Her song could be silent too, like an owl, patient and watching but mostly silent like a page turned and another page and another book and another and one more too. It would be loud sometimes too and there would be laughter and yelling at the TV and the occasional swat given to the occasional boy. And it would sound like coffee brewing and more coffee and cigarettes and debate and politics and some stories and some lies too. There would be a dash of ABBA, maybe some Anne Murray and some fiddle and some guitar and an old country song: “King of the Road.”

But mostly, it’s what you wouldn’t hear in her song: no worry, no complaining, no bitterness, no anger, no rushing. Peaceful. Sometimes, so much so that it seemed distant. Nevertheless, in honour of her song, I urge you today: don’t worry. Yes it will rain, it will snow, it will freeze, the sun will shine, bees will sting but rarely all in one day. So enjoy today. Eat cake. Seed the crops. Plant a garden. Watch the news. Cry if you need to but mostly be calm. Why worry so much? Why rush? Just carry on. Tomorrow is tomorrow. Enjoy today. This, I believe, was my Mom’s song, her carol.
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