Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Service


 A short post about customer service.

It’s really no secret if anyone has been paying attention, that I’ve had issues with Microsoft for quite a while.  Everything from Hotmail to phone to PC and, most recently, OneDrive.  I’ve spent countless hours online, with knowledgeable friends, with tech-support and at the Microsoft “Store” attempting to resolve issues that have occurred.  My friends jokingly call it ‘karma’.  I call it poor customer service and lack of connection with actual, real-live humans who use the product.  I won’t belabor my irritation with Microsoft and their problems; instead, I’ll focus on what customer service SHOULD be.

A few years ago I was gifted with a used Kindle (Generation 3) as a friend was upgrading to a newer generation and sold my husband theirs.  I used it more than I expected to and downloaded quite a few books through the service; using a variety of “free e-book” sites including Book Bub and Kboards.

I keep my Kindle plugged in and charged next to my bed unless I’ve grabbed it and thrown it in my purse for the day.  That way when I find a free book to download, I’m within my wireless area and I’m not dumping my battery every day.

This last week I grabbed my Kindle and threw it in my purse as we had an evening function that would have some downtime where I could read a bit here and there while waiting for the event to begin.  I turned it on and nothing.  I re-tried a couple of times and still nothing.  Came home, plugged it back in, check the cords were connected and left it overnight.  The next day, still nothing so I looked online and tried to “hard-shut-down” as recommended on several sites.  No success.

A couple of days later, after looking on the Amazon site for more tips, I called Amazon for assistance.  Their tech support site has a button for “email” or “call” support.  You can have them “call right now” or in “5 minutes”.  They call RIGHT NOW!  Seriously!   Yes, it was a robo-dial, but after I picked up, I waited on hold for less than a minute and was connected with a live human.  She listened to my problem, asked what I had tried, and tried to offer more suggestions.  After no success, she said to plug the unit back in, wait an hour and if nothing happened then I’d need to replace the unit.  By the time I hung up from the call there was an email in my inbox with links to our call and links to the site where I could contact tech support again to get my replacement process started.

I waited the hour, still nothing so I selected the link in the email.  Again, they gave me the choice of “email” or “call” support.  You can have them “call right now” or in “5 minutes”.  And again, they called IMMEDIATELY!  Within 20 minutes I had an order placed for a newly refurbished Kindle Paperwhite unit for a discounted price, an email link for a return label for my old unit and an email link for the purchase receipt of the new unit.

Amazon shipped my new unit IMMEDIATELY (I got the tracking email within an hour) and received the actual shipment within 5 days (3 actual business days – I called on Friday and had the new unit on Tuesday via UPS).  My return shipping label is printed and ready to tape to an envelope with the old unit inside.

My NEW Kindle came in a sealed box with a cord.  I plugged it in, entered my wireless key and the Kindle automatically connected me to my Amazon (Prime) account, Facebook and all my books on file (242 in case you’re interested).  In under 10 minutes.  With no hassles, or issues.

AMAZON?  I’m a total fan.

Microsoft?  Catch up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inside the Actor’s Studio



These 10 questions originally came from a French series, "Bouillon de Culture" hosted by Bernard Pivot. They're better known as the questions that James Lipton asks every guest at the end of "Inside the Actor's Studio" show. 

Answer them for yourself, and have fun with your friends. You'll be amazed at how much they reveal about a person's thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

I suppose the answers may change depending on age and circumstances, but here are my answers:

What is your favorite word?
Library

What is your least favorite word?
Can’t

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Acting on your words

What turns you off?
Not taking a stand for your beliefs.

What is your favorite curse word?
Right now?  Juice-bag (thanks to my grandson)

What sound or noise do you love?
Ocean waves

What sound or noise do you hate?
Tapping

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Archeologist

What profession would you not like to do?
Teacher

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Welcome Home!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blog Tour (or "Being a Good Sport")

I was “invited” to take part in a blog tour by my friend, Scarlet.  I’m doing this to be a good sport because she tagged me, but really I find this kind of thing annoying and well, revealing.

Annoying because I hate these “tag” things.  I do them (as I said above) because I’m a good sport.  Revealing because I don’t really read other “people” blogs; mostly political opinion blogs.  So, I’ll answer the questions and tag the two people whose blogs I read, but I can’t guarantee they’ll follow suit or that they’ll even respond.

1)  What am I working on?

I have four Facebook pages, three blogs, two businesses and one website.  There are a variety of thoughts that haven’t made it out of my head and onto paper or computer yet and a book that lives in my head until I have time or the right words to get it down on my computer.  I also have poetry that floats around in there and a calendar that keeps track of the husband, teenager and various organizations I’m part of.  It’s crowded in my head.  

2)  How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I have no idea.  My main blog is mostly whatever is in my head at the moment that I have time to get down.  Sometimes it’s local politics, sometimes mom stuff, sometimes a rant and sometimes just annoying photos from the few vacations we take.  Blog #2 is Family history and genealogy related.  My book is a contemporary romance.  

3)  Why do I write what I do?

My main blog started because someone jokingly suggested that I write one.  And it kind of took.  I don’t have a huge readership – sometimes that bothers me and sometimes that comforts me.  I have written everything from book and movie reviews to local political commentary to opinion to rants.  There are things I won’t write about because my intent isn’t to hurt anyone.  My intent is to make people think and generate their own opinions.  I really don’t care if you agree with me or even understand me.  But I have to get things out of my head or I’m even more mental than I normally am.

That being said, some things just don’t have words.  Or the words that are there are just going to be too painful (hurtful, angry, mean, hateful) for anyone to read and get past without hating me.  You don’t have to like me but I don’t want anyone to hate me.

4)  How does my writing process work?

It depends.  That was really helpful, I know.  The book in my head has been there for several years and I’ve written and re-written and re-re-re-written about a gazillion times.  I know the characters and then ‘they’ do something that messes up the storyline earlier so I have to re-work it and then, well I get frustrated.  So I have all these documents on my computer with just scenes or several chapters but they haven’t gotten together to actually form a credible story at this time.  

I also have McDonald’s napkins and scratch pieces of paper and sentences on sticky notes floating around in a file.  

My poetry is either in a notebook, mostly typewritten or on the computer. I usually write it down as soon as it comes to me unless I’m in the shower or driving.  Most of my ideas come to me while driving or in the shower.  The trick is to remember them long enough to get somewhere where I can write them down.  I hate the sound of my voice so the recorder app on my phone is just there.  Doing nothing.

My blog is what I work on more steadily.  Sometimes I start something that’s floating in my head and work on it for weeks before I post it.  Sometimes I just sit down and three pages later I’m done.  Sometimes I write it down, finish it and don’t post it because it didn’t go where I thought it would.

Now I’m supposed to tag bloggers who might want to take the challenge.  So, I’m tagging the two women who make me laugh and think and cry.  

Ironic Mom has made me laugh and snort and appreciate the fact that I don’t have twins.  I pre-ordered her first book and read it in two days.  I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants and certainly made people in public think I needed to be institutionalized.  (Not that they didn’t think that before, but hysterical laughing and crying usually makes people start dialing for the men in the white coats and the I-love-myself-jacket sooner rather than later.)

Suburban Snapshots is one of the bloggers that I read no matter what she writes.  I’ve purchased two books that she’s had shorts in and laughed so hard I hurt.  Sometimes she swears more than I’d like, but she’s never wrong in what she writes about.  And I hate that she looks cute in boots.  

Apparently you have one week to post your answers to the questions above and tag other bloggers to do the same.  I don’t think you’ll win millions or be blessed if you do and I’m sure you won’t be cursed if you don’t, but sometimes playing the game is fun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Team Loyalty:



Just a few words on football as we enter the 2014 season:

1. I cheer for the Seahawks.  Every game, no exceptions.  Win, lose or draw, they are my team.  (Unless they do something stupid like hire the player to be named in #2).

2. I will never cheer for Michael Vick or any team that hires him.  Ever.  I actually sent a letter to the Eagles organization scolding them for hiring him.  

3. I don’t cheer for the Broncos.  Ever.  (I cheered for Tim Tebow when he was there, but not the team).

4. I cheer for Peyton Manning; no matter where he plays.

5. I cheer for the Rams unless they’re playing the Seahawks.  This is because I love my cousin, Rich.

6. I cheer for the Arizona Cardinals unless they’re playing the Seahawks.  This is because I love my nephew, Ryan.

7. I don’t cheer for Colin Kaepernick or Johnny Manziel.  Ever.

8. I used to be, but no longer am a Pittsburg Steelers fan.  I’m also no longer a Terry Bradshaw fan.  

9. I understand enough about football to follow the game, understand the rules and enjoy the game.  

10. I don’t follow stats, or the history of the game. 

11. I don’t have enough room in my head to remember who all the Superbowl champs have been in the history of the game.  That’s what the internet is for.

12. My “rules” for who I like and don’t like don’t have to make sense.  They’re my rules.

13. Numbers 9-12 are why I really suck at fantasy football leagues.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

25th Anniversary Trip -- Days 3 and 4

Day 3 – Butchart Gardens, The Ledge, Fiamo

Coffee to go at Murchies, then we walked downtown to catch our city bus to Butchart Gardens.  We thought the bus left near the Legislature building, but it turns out we needed to move to the block behind the Empress Hotel so we hustled and made it to the stop (we didn’t need to hustle but who knew if the BC buses are on time or will wait for their stop?)



The Italian Garden
Russ rubbing the lucky boar's snout
This particular route fortunately changes directly into the bus we needed to ‘transfer’ to for Butchart, so we didn’t have to change buses.  However, it’s the milk run and stops everywhere along the way so it’s almost an hour to get there.  No matter, we get a nice view of the city and outlying areas along the way.


Butchart is just getting a couple of tour buses arriving so it’s not too crowded, but they’re all following the same map, so…we decided to go ‘backwards’ to the sunken garden exhibits instead of winding our way down as everyone else is going.  Beautiful flowers and plants and fountains and trees everywhere.  Not too hot, not chilly but nice weather for a stroll.  After the sunken gardens, we go through the rose gardens.  So many beautiful roses (and a LOT of people).  On our way to the Japanese gardens, we talk to an older couple taking photos.  I ask if I can take a photo of them together and she says they’re out of film – I’m wondering if they were shooting video instead because of that.  I offer to take one of them on my phone and email it to them.  They were touched and I took a couple and then sent them out during our evening in the hotel.  

Japanese gardens were lovely, filled with ponds and benches and running water and stepping stones.  After the Japanese gardens it’s through the Italian garden and we’re done.  About an hour-and-a-half to tour it all, plus a bit of time in the gift shop and then we wait for our bus back to the city.  The bus ride back is much shorter as it’s an express line which drops us off to the side of the Legislature building. 

Legislature Building "The Ledge"


The bus driver says the Legislature building is affectionately called “The Ledge” so we use that and feel quite un-touristy for a few minutes.  We’re early for the next tour, so we get our tickets and roam around the grounds outside for a bit.  They offer free tours on the hour every day so we’re able to catch the 2:40 tour.  In addition to the guided tour, they have actors portraying historical characters of the time.  They’re in costume and speak in British accents and stay in character throughout the tour. 

After our tour of “The Ledge” we decide to walk a bit around the harbor and check into procedure for leaving in the morning.  I booked a reservation for the M.V. Coho through the Blackball Ferry line which will take us from Victoria, B.C. to Port Angeles, WA on Monday morning.  Of course, there’s a Starbucks on the way, so we ‘refuel’ a bit.  We walk along the harbor and see some Sunday street vendors including Native American artists, some street performers and oddly enough, a guy with his male bearded dragon. 

We walked up to Fiamo and were seated for dinner.  They’re barely open so we have a pretty good selection of seats.  Alissa talks to us some more and the wait staff is again, awesome.  Food is delicious and perfect for the evening.

 

  

Tired, so we walk to the hotel and relax for our last night.







Day 4 – Victoria, B.C. to Redmond

Showered, packed, checked-out by 8.  We stop by Murchies for espressos and pastries.  Served on a silver tray!  We drive to the Coho terminal and arrive about 8:45.  They check our passports (no detaining this time!), give us our tickets and we wait for the 10:30 sailing.  A few last photos of the harbor and Victoria, then it’s time to board.



Goodbye Victoria!

We drive off at Port Angeles and have to go through customs again.  Drive to Kingston, then ferry to Edmonds and then home.  It seemed to take FOREVER to get back to Redmond and we’re only a bit late picking up Blake from football camp.

Home and Mustang is beside himself to see us back!  Now it’s unpacking, laundry, and back to the regular life. 


Saturday, July 5, 2014

25th Anniversary Trip -- Day 2-

Craigdarroch Castle, Red Fish Blue Fish, sight-seeing

Started the morning with Starbucks then we walked to “The Swan” for breakfast.  Should have ordered a half order of the PNW Benedict (Salmon) but it was delicious!  We walked to Craigdarroch Castle and then toured through it, returning to the room about noon.  Rested, downloaded photos, Russ took a nap and then we headed out again.  Booked our passage home for Monday on the Coho (through Port Angeles), and bought a day pass for the BC bus system to go to Butchart Gardens tomorrow.  Much easier than paying to park and having to find our way there and back!  





St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral
On the walk back we found another St. Andrews -- this time a Roman Catholic Cathedral.


Found “Red Fish, Blue Fish”…really just a container turned into a fry shack that makes delicious fish and chips and other sea fried yummies.  The line was about 30 minutes long, but well worth it!  Sat on the dock and watched the sea-planes come and go and the Coho leave for the day out of the harbor.  




Walked back to the car and drove to the Fort Rodd Lighthouse; made it just in time for a quick tour through and back to the parking lot!  The light-keepers house was bigger than I expected; I guess I’m thinking of the description of the book I just finished about a lighthouse (“Point of Direction”) and all the other light-keepers houses I’ve seen in the past.  

Fort Rodd Lighthouse, Esquimalt

 Weather has been windy and sunny then rainy then sunny.  We toured through China Town, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  Quite a few restaurants and a nice Chinese gate, but other than that not impressive.

Dinner was at “The Bard and Banker”; our waitress was a lovely girl (woman?) whose family was originally from Newfoundland.  Her last name is Norman.  She recommended “Fiamo” for dessert for tiramisu, so we walked there and met…


“Russ” our waiter and Alissa, the manager.  Love this place!  We had tiramisu and mochas and we’re planning on coming back for dinner tomorrow night.


Tiramisu at "Fiamo"
Walked over 15,000 steps today, so it’s not so bad that we’ve eaten our way through the day.  Tomorrow is Butchart Gardens.

 
Statue outside of Chinatown, Victoria, B.C.
RCMP Bear



I have no idea what this sign means...

The straps on my purse un-stitched, so we fixed them with First Aid tape...







Friday, July 4, 2014

25th Anniversary Trip – Day 1



 – Day 1
Redmond to Victoria, B.C.


Peace Arch

Pretty uneventful drive up to Blaine; a bit of rain but we made good time.  I’ve never been to the Peace Arch – in fact, this will be only my third time in Canada ever in my life.  

We were asked to park and walk inside the Custom’s building at Blaine.  This is a bit scary because, well, it just is.  All kinds of things go through your mind...mistaken identity?  Do I need an attorney?  Random American pick? We grab our Passports and wait.  The agent asks us why we’re in Canada and if we’ve ever been before.  He walks off with our Passports and tells us to sit down.

He calls Russ (only Russ) back up and questions him a bit more.  Apparently, my husband traveled into Toronto 30 years ago (about 27 by our calculations) on a work trip for Honeywell Marine Systems.  He was supposed to be training the Canadians he was working with on a new system.  The "friendly" French-Canadian agent at that time gave him grief (and detained him for FOUR HOURS) because he was doing a "Canadian’s job".  Odd that in 27 years he’s never, ever been contacted about it…


Anyway, the agent in 2014 gets Russ’ story and says “well, you don’t look like a terrorist” and hands him back our passports.  Off we drive, 30 minutes later…but we missed our reserved ferry time so we need to change the time for our afternoon tea reservation at the Empress.

I've been joking with Russ ever since that I didn't know I was married to an "International Criminal"...

We make it for the 1 PM ferry and have a rainy, windy, yet uneventful passage.  Canadian ferries are much nicer and larger than WA state ferries; however, MUCH MORE expensive (even with exchange rates!)  Sunshine as we get off the ferry and we head towards Victoria.


Darth Vader apparently has an off-season gig in Victoria...








Parking is a bit of a challenge; or at least different than we’re used to.  Russ checks in, leaves me at the hotel and parks the car.  Up to the room and then it’s off to the Empress at the Fairmont.  Windy now, but sunny.  We get a table by the window overlooking the harbor (or is that harbour).  It’s a beautiful place.
The "Sticky Wicket"



Russ’s parents spent one night at the Fairmont for their honeymoon 73 years ago (April 3, 1941) and we’re feeling a bit nostalgic watching the handsome cabs, pedi-cabs and tourist buses and boats.  After a delicious and very filling tea, we head back to the room to plan out our next day’s adventures.  We stop by the Royal British Museum and see the oldest elevator in the PNW. We’ll stop back tomorrow for the actual tour.  (we never did actually take the tour...)

Back out after posting photos on Facebook (of course) and changing clothes for something a bit warmer. The wind has picked up and the sun is going down, so shorts are a bit chilly...
We walked around; had a beer at “The Sticky Wicket” and then a late dinner at “The Irish Times”.  In between Russ lit up the cigar he bought at the oldest cigar/tobacco store and we took more photos and stopped at Roger’s Chocolates.  I also got a picture with “Sully”. 
25th Anniversary Tea at the Empress

Sully begged for a photo with me; I graciously agreed.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church



We met a nice couple with long-haired Weimaraner – didn’t even know those existed.  They recommended we take the Coho Ferry back through Port Angeles on our return trip.  Less expensive and quicker in their estimation.  (not really when you add in the Kingston to Edmonds ferry too...)



Even with the exchange rate, I’m kind of surprised how expensive everything is.  But, it’s vacation, right?  Back to the room, charging phones and posting on FB.  Ready to call it a night and do it all over again tomorrow!