Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the Season

Lights. Tinsel. Garland. Presents around the tree. The Christmas season is upon us once more. Yet, as the years go by, it just seems like every other day. Just an average day where something is supposed to happen.

What happened to that little boy that couldn't sleep the night before Christmas? The one that would be up before everyone else, getting coffee made, toast in the toaster, butter and jelly on the counter, just waiting for the clock to chime seven. I haven't seen him in decades.

Sometimes, it feels so futile. Never anyone that wants to spend the important times with you. Never anyone that can find an interest in things you do. Never anyone to share life with. When will it change? Life is supposed to be a journey that is shared between friends and family. Yet, everyone keeps their distance. Sure, they might humor you for a few weeks, but it never lasts.

I want to feel the excitement I once felt for holidays. Dressing up for Halloween with friends. Having a family of my own to give thanks for on Thanksgiving. Being happy on Christmas. Sharing a home cooked dinner with someone special on Valentine's Day.

It's been too long.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frontier Communications

I just wanted to show everyone a comment made on a website I recently visited from an employee of Frontier Communications. In their letter, they've expressed the same issues and concerns we, as customers, have brought up this past year or so.

I don't know if you are interested in this but it’s worth a try. I work for a major well known utility company and I feel ethically compelled to inform someone that there are practices within my corporation that are being done without the consideration for the consumer. My employment there has extended well over 3 years now and I have been turning a blind eye to what they call customer service. I believe that I have the duty to expose some of these inner workings to the public. I work for Frontier Communications.
I do not want to be named nor am I going to divulge any names of my fellow employees. I will give detail in some of the misinformation given to customer, issues with systems that cause billing problems, and a few other known issues that upper management overlook. The biggest issue we are experiencing right now is appalling. The ‘blackout period’ and the result of it is causing chaos. Recently there were a few groups of the employees that were force fed training on the new Frontier’s systems. It was crammed in an eight day course. The majority of the time the training systems were down, a handful of subject learning material & systems were over looked-stating we’ll get how to do it on the floor. Anxiety and panic swept the call center, worried faces riddled with anger and frustration stood out everywhere. All accept the higher management. They kept saying, ‘don’t worry you guys will be ok’ or ‘we have to get this call volume down’. But the statement that never failed was, ‘don’t forget that you need to offer a wide array of services on every call. That’s your job.’ Regardless if a customer is calling in because she/he cannot afford their services as it is we are required to up sale them.
I was employed with Verizon prior to the acquisition to Frontier. It was an exciting day for us because we felt like the iron hand was being lifted. But to our dismay the same type of mentality still existed. Also the changes FTR made caused a lot of panic as well. We are trained for sales 1st rather than customer service even though the values are People, Product, and Profit. Customer may call in with an major issue even at times irritate and frustrated-we are excepted to entice them to purchase an additional product that may or may not work. I will enlighten you on that subject-our ‘network congestion’ issue with HSI has caused a tremendous volume of calls to the call centers and tech support. There were periods were the handling time for these departments exceeded 30 minutes and even at times close to an hour. Numerous customers within the 13 states acquired have experienced an issue that was coined ‘network congestion’. These issues caused a great deal of frustrated customers calling in about their HSI service dropping. Some of them experience up and down periods over a few months. I even witnessed some customers that were out for weeks at a time.
How do you sell a product that is not reliable? Netflix made the comment that Frontier has one of the worst HSI service in the nation. Some of us here feel guilty when we sell certain products because we know it may or may not work sometimes. The newest greatest selling tool we have for HSI now is we have to still sell it even though it may or may not be available in their area. Customers call in livid and frustrated because they were told they can get a service and now they are being told their area is not available for that upgrade to HSI quite yet.
Another odd situation we have going on right now is our new phone systems are voice over IP. We are the phone company right? Then why are we using that type of system? Numerous issues are going on-dropped calls, noise one the line, unable to fully understand what the customer is saying & vice versa, and the total system freezing up while on a call. There are some of us who just have been sitting around because we are unable to access anything. One rep became concerned because their training for the phone systems consisted of a learning document they were given minutes before they actually used the new phone systems. A coach was made aware of her concerned and his comment to it was more or less ‘well then you need to ask if you need help’. That reply was heard from a few different reps and they were taken back. Why can’t we get the training we need to navigate through all of the madness? Call volume. How are we going to be able to handle issues like repair and collections, write orders properly, and steer through a calling system that just doesn’t seem to be working correctly? Apparently it doesn’t matter as long as we up sale our customers.
One of the last issues I’m going to share with you is a critical issue that a new rep has brought to our attention and higher management as well. When an appointment, regardless of what the nature of it is-repair, new install, or anything else-is not fulfilled the customer is NOT called back to inform their appointment will not be made or efforts to reschedule it. Management and other departments know about this and still no efforts have been made to fix this. I have seen this on my end as well. What do you say to a customer who asks, ’why didn’t anyone call?’ There’s no real honest why to answer that properly.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with the pending lawsuit that Frontier has from the 1.50 surcharge for HSI service but I do know that a lot of us here don’t agree with the charge and how it was handled. We were given a document on what to say when the customer calls in and disputes the charges. It was like a paragraph more or less stating we are imposing this surcharge and there’s nothing we can do to waive it.
I now realize I have a made a poor choice in my career. I have great empathy for the customer and I’m fed up with how they are treated as well as the employees.

Thank you for listening,

This is absolutely appalling. I urge you to send this comment to anyone and everyone that uses Frontier Communications as their "forced" internet service and telephone provider.

The original comment can be found at: Customer Service Scoreboard under the "Employee Comments" of which there is one.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The President's New Clothes

During this Presidential campaign season, I am amazed and appalled with the television studios and their spin. In the 2008 campaign, it was the same. The only difference this time is the presidential hopefuls. I will not beat around the bush and give hints as to who I will vote for. I will vote for Dr. Ron Paul as I did four years ago with a write-in ticket. I am not ashamed of wanting this man as our next president as I believe he has the best ideas to solve most of our country’s problems.

Judging from the responses of the “Tea Party” hopefuls, I’d say Dr. Paul’s ideas have filtered through and struck a nerve with the establishment. Though, not entirely the way those that voted for Dr. Paul had hoped.

Dr. Paul is a staunch Constitutionalist. If you look at his voting record, he has never voted for anything that would violate the United States Constitution. He is against all the wars that our country is involved in, and believes we should not have 900 bases in 150 countries. If you’re keeping track, there are roughly 196 countries in the world as this number varies depending on whom you ask and when. Even more surprising is the number of United States bases that are scattered throughout the world varies as well.

As I was saying, Dr. Paul is the only candidate running for PotUS that believes, along with 63% of U.S. citizens, we should not be at war. Numerous news reporters, lobbyists, politicians, and misinformed voters have stated in the past, as well as recently, “Ron Paul is an isolationist!” based on his foreign policy views.

Balderdash. One of the points in his 2008 campaign and his 2012 campaign is “non-interventionism”. That means, we should keep our noses out of everyone’s business but our own. The media constantly bombards us with the “isolationist” rhetoric. Further, Rudy Giuliani in 2008 attacked Dr. Paul for the same reason Rick Santorum has been this season. Giuliani and Santorum both state, “Al Qaeda attacked the United States because they hate our freedoms and our way of life.” There are other candidates that believe this as well, but they are just a tad smarter and never really bring it up. I’m curious as to how they believe this nonsense.

Apparently, these two gentlemen have never taken a physics class. I take that back, they seem like they’ve never even taken a general science class. One of the fundamental laws of physics is Newton’s Third Law: To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Osama bin Laden even understood this since he himself stated the U.S. was attacked because we provoked the people in that region. There is no reason for him to have lied about this.

Here is a simple analogy that may make it a tad easier for these two gentlemen (Giuliani and Santorum) to understand the current situation and how they are completely wrong:

Two kids eating lunch on a playground. The larger of the two punches the other and takes his sandwich. He is, after all, a larger child and needs extra food. The smaller child gets upset about this, but he continues and starts to open his fruit cup. Again, the larger of the two punches the other and takes his fruit cup. He is, after all, a larger child and needs extra food. The smaller child takes it all in stride, just as he did before, and begins to open his Snickers he kept for a rainy day. And again, the larger child punches the other and attempts to steal the candy bar. After all, he is a larger child and needs extra food. Only this time is a little different. The smaller child is desperate. He is hungry and has been bullied during lunch and even his last resort is being stolen. What does the smaller child do? He beats the ever loving crap out of the larger boy and gets to keep his candy bar.

We, the United States of America, are the bully. We are the ones asserting ourselves all around the world. We are picking fights with other countries. We are the ones in the wrong and we need to fix it. We should never expect the outcome of provocation to be peace. If you poke a chihuahua with a stick too many times, you may wake up with pee on your face in the middle of the night. Most children understand this. The only exception are bullies.

The last thing I wanted to touch upon is the history of all the candidates that are running for president this election. I would urge everyone to read up on each one. Vote for the candidate that YOU agree with. Never listen to the media when they say who the “top tier” or “top two” are. The media these days are always biased. They will push for the candidate THEY agree with the most and whom will benefit them the most.

Read through and actually think about the repercussions and outcomes of the candidates’ proposed solutions. Really listen to what they are saying. Most of the candidates are playing the “sound bite” game. Some small quip that will get them noticed and in the spotlight. Others are playing “Chinese Whispers”.

I don’t know about you, but I’m voting for The Constitution. I am not going to vote for a politician. I will vote for a statesman. I am not voting for the lesser of two evils. I am voting for LIBERTY.

Check out Dr. Ron Paul’s political stance at:
Ron Paul @ Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Evil of Apathy

Apathy is, by far, the greatest affliction our world has ever known. It is the lowest mental state possible. It is the lack of emotion that our society needs to prosper, and it is increasing at an alarming rate. I sit and wonder at times how we, as a society, have reached to these depths and find it acceptable.

I’ve seen it first hand over the past few years. It is becoming more and more apparent as the months and years roll by, that people just stop caring. They stop feeling. I used to think, even recently, that suppressing my emotions was the way of the world. That did nothing but leave a void in my soul. I know different now.

I promised myself I wouldn’t make this blog a flurry of politics, and I plan on keeping that promise, but occasionally and necessarily, these things will be a focus. This is one of those times.
Those of you who know me, who have been around me long enough, know I will do what I can to make those around me comfortable, even at my own expense. It may surprise those same friends to know, I am totally against socialized medicine and health care. You may think this is apathetic of me, though I don’t see it as such.

I say that, because I see a world that is apathetic towards its fellow man. One of the reasons it came about, is because of these socialized programs: Social Security, “Obamacare”, the Department of Education, government loans and grants for higher education, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (food stamps), Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, the list goes on and on.

Yes, I am against it.

Before I go on, allow me to explain that I am not advocating removing these assistance programs for anyone that currently uses them. Our society has been suckling on the government teet for far too long, and if you even remotely live in a semi-populated area, you have been feeling the effects of this type of legislation for decades.

There are more reasons than I can explain as to why I’m against these programs, but the main one is apathy. It is because our government has taken it upon themselves to “take care” of us from cradle to grave that perpetuates the indifference that is running rampant. We often think, “Well, it’s the government’s job to take care of that elderly couple, why should I have to bother?” I once thought this way, as well.

I am ashamed at myself, really. I applied for, and received federal funds to support my higher education. The money that was used for my education, was stolen from someone else. That is the harsh truth behind all taxes and socialized programs. It is a redistribution of wealth. Why was it right for me to go to college for a year, when that same money could have stayed with the families it was taken from, and given them a slightly better life?

I know what some of you are thinking now. “In Nate’s mind, it’s wrong to steal, but if I didn’t get that assistance, it would be stolen from me. How is that right?”

Well, here’s my answer to that query. There are a few different ways you would be able to gain assistance. First and foremost, if you weren’t paying as much in taxes, you would have extra to use on your expenses. Secondly, there are the good people on this earth that would be more than willing to give assistance, had they more resources themselves and sending less to the government as taxes would give them the incentive they need. Third, there are the people like me. Those of us who will give what we can when the need arises. Not because we are forced to, but because we want to.

As it stands right now, the government is hiding the needy in a mountain of paperwork and red tape. Here’s a quick example. My sister, Stacy, has cerebral palsy. She receives a set amount of monies from SSI (Supplemental Security Income for those of you outside the U.S.) and she receives a set amount in the form of an EBT card (food stamps). If, for any reason, she receives any funds from any party other than those of the government, she loses it all. Forever. She cannot get a job, even though she wouldn’t mind working. Any money she is given is considered income and can be used as an excuse to remove her from the SSI program.

These are the situations I have seen time and time again. Because of the rules the government has forced into place, the simple act of helping someone else has consequences that are just too problematic for one or both parties. Some people won’t even save your life anymore if you’re choking out of fear of prosecution. All of these things cause apathy.

To me, Albert Einstein said it best:

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”

If you would like for a few more explanations into some of my reasoning, as I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail, feel free to comment below.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How it should be...

Just a quote today and perhaps a thought or two.

“Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you.  They are not perfect but are always perfect for you.”  ~Author Unknown

Why do people complicate relationships? The way I see it, if you love someone and they love you, just be with each other. There really should be no more to it than that.

If you’re friends with someone, talk to them. Sometimes that’s all they want or need. Just someone to recognize their exitance or just to have a friend they can count on. If you were close to them but have lost touch, make an effort to speak to them. Especially after they make an effort to speak to you. If you don’t, they will start to think that you don’t want to be their friend any longer.

Family members, don’t just assume that everyone in your family is doing “A-okay”. Talk to them. Often times we see a family member not smiling, but fail to ask any questions. Sending silly email to them might make them giggle a little, but having a real face-to-face talk about issues is so important.

That last thought is key for every relationship you’re in, be it a romantic, a friendly, or a family relationship. If someone asks to talk, and they are important to you, don’t just ask what they want to talk about, help them make a conversation where the issues can come up. The human brain doesn’t usually do well when put on the spot. Most importantly, if they ask, oblige them. If a subject is important enough for one party to ask about, and you ignore that request, the one asking for the conversation might, and probably will think you don’t care enough about them to converse.

Email, instant messages, text messages, video calls, and phone calls are not acceptable replacements for a face-to-face chat. The reason being, you can’t edit out what you really feel in a face-to-face conversation. Everything is out in the open then and it gives respect to the other party that you can put yourself out there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What If?

It’s a question that has woven itself into the lives of anyone wanting desperately to change an aspect of their lives. I have been asking this question for many years, but usually I’ll decide “what if?” would be either pointless or unwanted. The question of “what if?” is also known as the “Butterfly Effect”. Going to your past and changing one small detail could effect the entire world. Would the change be worth it?

So, if I could go back in time and change anything, would I? How far back would I have to go in order to make a significant change? How far back would I have to go to make a change that I wanted?

I have to say the option to change anything in my past is something I would consider heavily. So, here’s what I would change in order from oldest to newest:

  1. Go back to September of 2006 and explain to myself how I need to quit college before the cut off date, so I don’t get boned with owing the college money.
  2. Go back to August of 2007 and remind myself I need to go back to college, but this time go for a degree that everyone wouldn’t have in a few years. Possibly something fun.
  3. Go back to August of 2009 and explain to myself how I shouldn’t finance a vehicle that will keep me in debt for four years.
  4. Go back to November of 2009 and remind myself that since I don’t have a car loan, I should stay with my job since my bills would be less than what they would have been.
  5. Go back to December of 2009 and explain why I do not need to be in a relationship right then.

Now, since all of that would be taken care of, there would be some final instructions to myself for a while, “Don’t do anything but work, don’t go out on dates, and definitely be on Facebook chat on April 12th, 2011.

There is one more thing I would change:
  • Go back to the beginning of May of this year and have a good chat with myself. I’d tell myself just how, and how much I would screw up and explain how to not screw up.

Would that be fair of me to change the past of everyone for my own benefit and not change other things that would make other’s lives better? Would me changing the past even reflect on the present or future? If the one person I was changing the past to ultimately be with found out, would she even want to be with me then?

Yes, I am that superficial. I do want to change my past in order to be with someone I’m in love with. However, I’m not sure she’d want that. Perhaps a question better than “what if?” is needed. A question that looks towards the future, instead of the past. Is there such a question?

All I can say is, (name omitted), I’m in love with you. You are my best friend and my confidant. I have shared every secret I own with you. No matter what, I will always be here if you need me. Even if we aren’t a couple, you will never have to doubt our friendship, or my loyalty. I love you.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Everyone is a Humanitarian... except.

As most of my friends, acquaintances, and family members know, I'm a fairly helpful type of person. I give as freely as I can when I can. Occasionally I've given more than I could afford, but I didn't ask for anything in return. Only when someone insisted, so much so that I'd hurt their feelings for not accepting, would I take anything.

I'm also very, very blunt which has given me a bit of trouble in the past. However, it's a trait I find lacking more and more in today's society. Everyone is afraid to speak their minds because it might "offend someone" for speaking the truth. There are occasions where I'll hold my tongue, such as the one in the first paragraph, but this is not one of those times.

So, you're reading this thinking, "What has any of that got to do with the title? So far I see a pompous and overly critical ass pumping up his own ego thinking he's Jeremy Clarkson on cocaine." Not that I'm arguing that, but just hear me out.

Here lately, and by lately I mean the past ten years or so, political correctness has run rampant. We call black people African-American even when they come from Europe and have never been to Africa, government intervention in bars and pubs telling the owners of the establishment they're not allowed to allow anyone to smoke indoors, even as far back as the Washington Redskins being threatened a lawsuit if they didn't change their name. I could go on and on about these things, but this last example is what really chaffs my rear.

With the recent catastrophe in Japan, foreign aid from all over the world is being sent to help out this devastated country. We did the same for Haiti. Now, I'm not against people helping out other people, but not at the forced expense of taxpayers. This isn't what I'm writing about, though.

Blizzard Entertainment occasionally releases special items for its game, World of Warcraft, that you can purchase with actual money. These items are in game pets and mounts thus far, so purely aesthetic pixels in an in-game world. Now, every year, Blizzard donates part of its profits to charity (e.g Make a Wish Foundation). I think this is wonderful, but what I don't think is right is when a few of their customers demand, not just ask, DEMAND, that Blizzard donate even more of their profits to the disaster of the month. Whatever gets the highest press should get the money, according to these twits.

That's not the whole story, though. You see, they (the twits) not only want Blizzard to give up money that pays their employees, they (again, the twits) want them to give up money that pays their employees AND give their customers something to buy.

In short, they will be a humanitarian and donate twenty-five dollars to the people of Japan (so far it has been Japan and Haiti when that happened), ONLY if they get a pixelated pet in return.

If you're thinking these people are terrible, think about the last time you helped a charity. Ask yourself, "Did I give freely, or did I gain something in return? Perhaps a ribbon or T-Shirt?" I know a few of my friends have done this, but again, I'm not questioning your intentions or your good will. I'm just trying to put my thoughts out there and maybe help someone to understand, there's no need to receive anything in return for donating.

Please, if you want to donate to disaster relief, use the American Red Cross directly. You can be certain any monies that are donated there will go towards the areas that need it. Sure, you may not receive a ribbon or T-Shirt for doing so, but does that really matter? While everyone else is wearing their pride on their sleeve, you can wear yours on your face and in your heart as a smile.


Since I've written this article back in March, Hurricane Irene has swept up the Eastern Seaboard. As we speak, there is another thread on the World of Warcraft forums wanting more pixels for doing a good deed. 

"Everyone is Special!"... Wait a minute...

“You are my friend, you are special. You are my friend; you’re special to me.” This song is familiar to anyone growing up in the 70s and 80s. Most of you reading this might think this song is a good thing, but to me it isn’t.

In the past 30 years or so, this theme has been recurring throughout the western cultures. “Everyone is special.” “There are no losers." That is the message we’ve been sending our children. Self esteem training has replaced knowledge in school. “If you can’t pass what we give you, don’t worry, we’ll give you something easier,” or “We’ll just put everything on a curve so everyone passes.” Even in the twelve years since I have been in high school, SAT scoring has changed so more people will have “acceptable” scores.

What is this kind of thinking doing to our kids? For one, it’s making our children dumb. Yup, there’s no nice way to say it, they’re getting dumber and dumber. I know what you’re going to say now, “How does having a high self esteem make you dumb?” Well, it doesn’t happen for everyone, but a lot of kids just stop trying when they’re congratulated at every turn. They feel that they can do no wrong, everything they do is great, they are the best, no one and nothing can beat them. That would be a great attitude... IF it were true.

In the real world, we don’t congratulate and praise someone for being average. Mainly because there is an overabundance of average people. The laws of supply and demand can be pointed to in this instance (leave it to me to make a link from economical practices to self worth). The better you are at something, the more you’re worth to the world. If you have nothing of substance or worth to offer, you are worth less. We are, of course omitting popularity contests like politics and fame creators like music and movies.

When there is always someone better than you at something, one of two things can happen:
  1. You try to do better.
  2. You fail to try to do better.
Really, that is all there is. It’s just surprising and sickening to me that we’ve stepped away from this when teaching our kids. It’s becoming so bad now, that some schools aren’t even giving failing grades to students any longer. No more ‘F’s. Politicians keep with their rhetoric about “No Child Left Behind”, but they fail to realize when everyone is a “winner” no one really wins. The rules of the universe forbid it. There MUST always be a loser.

So, how do we fix this? I’d say it should be fairly easy. If you’re terrible at something, you should be told. No beating around the bush, you just suck at that. Practice or quit. I think the only other way to say it is like this:

“When everyone is special, no one is.”

Just remember, if you're ever confronted by one of these people who say, "Everyone is special!" Just look at them with the coldest of expressions, and tell them how much they suck at something. Hell, a whole list of things they suck at would be better. Anything that could be a reminder to them how we, as a civilization need both winners and losers.

Honestly, what's the point of playing if there's not a winner? What's to strive for? Don't you kind of think that's why we're not perfect?