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I don’t even know what to think about this. But I couldn’t help but point it out. If only they were as on top of telling me to avoid roads that are closed due to the BarBQue festival this weekend as they are on top of finding out where women are parading around in bikinis, I might actually find their content worth reading.

Good grief.

Good grief.

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Corporate Ranting

I feel like Seth Godin saying this, but who cares:

If your business is based on having customers, an important thing to do is make the customers feel like they are wanted.

Back around March I started itching for an iPhone, but some form of pragmatism kicked in and I realized that it’d be better to wait until A) I was eligible for an upgrade [July 5] and B) the new model was released. Around that same time however I had to add the wife to my account on AT&T because well, we were married and it was time for her parents to stop paying for her cell service.

We went in one evening in March to add her to the account, and thus began a long series of struggles that have greatly pissed me off in the past month.

We went into the AT&T store simply to add my wife as a new number onto an existing contract. So they look up my account and that’s where we find problem number one. I’d opened the account in Alabama, now I live in Nashville, and you can’t have numbers of differing area codes on the same account. So they needed to “localize” my number.

Which meant that we went in to get her a new phone and number, and I walked out with a new number as well. Frustration number 1, because I wasn’t prepared to swap numbers at all, but had no alternative since I needed the wife on my account.

A month later I start researching what exactly my date of upgrade eligibility is, and lo and behold it’s set at September 2010. Which is a little confusing because my contract runs out in October 2009. But I foolishly think to myself “oh well, that’s obviously wrong, I’ll just call them and have them fix it.”

Which then starts this trend wherein AT&T fools me up front into thinking it’s an easy process, and then tries to throw as much shit in the way as possible so that I really really understand they dislike having customers.

I don’t remember the exact dates, but I do remember how far apart they were, so here’s a “timeline”:

Monday, wk 1: Call AT&T. Explain to them the situation. They look at the numbers, realize something is wrong. Say to me “That’s not a problem to fix. We’ll submit this for review and then give you a call back in a week when everything is updated!”

Wednesday, wk 2: AT&T calls me: “You requested a reset of your upgrade eligibility date, correct?”
Me: “Yes”
AT&T : “Great, we’re just calling to let you know it’s been successful!”
Me: “So, just to confirm, what is the date that I’m able to upgrade now?”
AT&T: “Well its…. Oh…. well, it looks like it hasn’t been reset. You’re going to be wanting an iPhone, right?”
Me: Yes
AT&T: Ok let me transfer you to another person, they can handle that.
Me:

I’m then transferred to another person, who first attempts to go ahead and get my information to buy the iPhone, so that I have to re-explain why I’m not getting one yet and what this call is about. They then look at my account, and ask me if there are any other phones that I’m interested in, because the iPhone is the hardest to get with what’s wrong with my account.

YOU MESSED UP MY ACCOUNT AT&T! I don’t care HOW HARD it is to reset it, you’re going to do it because it’s NOT MY FAULT.

So then I have to spend an HOUR on the phone with that person while they fill out forms and put me on hold so they can type up notes and they have me repeat my information and finally, FINALLY this is what I’m told:

“Ok, we can’t actually reset the date, but we’ve put extensive notes explaining your situation. You won’t be able to go to an Apple Store or buy online, you have to go to an AT&T corporate store and it will be up to the manager there if you can upgrade.”

At this point, I’m laughing because what else can you do when a company says to you “we messed up and there’s no way to fix it, and we’re not really sorry because, well, why should we be?” BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I HEARD.

But does this story end here? No. Then two weeks pass, and I’m eligible for the upgrade. I go into the AT&T corporate store (I tried the Apple store just in case, but to no avail) and say I want the phone, and they say well we don’t keep them in stock we just do fulfillment orders and I say well, whatever you have to do. So they take my information, confirm my upgrade eligibility, and I swipe my card.

A week later (which is this past Wednesday if you want to know) I get an email saying “Your iPhone has arrived! Please come pick it up.” So after work I drive over to the store, and that’s where MORE problems come up.

Apparently “this form” hadn’t gone through properly, and even though my iPhone was sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, and even though my bank account showed a $217 payment to AT&T for THAT VERY iPHONE, I couldn’t have it, because “this form” hadn’t gone through properly, that’s what she said.

Well, actually she disappeared into the back of the store for 15 minutes then came back and said, and I quote”

“I have good news and bad news! The good news is you are actually going to be able to get the iPhone, the bad news is you’re going to have to come back tomorrow and get it.”

Apparently “this form” NORMALLY took 72 hours to go through but they were going to email the person directly and explain what would happen and they were sure to hear back tomorrow.

Except that “tomorrow” was yesterday, and they didn’t hear anything, and at this point I JUST WANT TO GET WHAT I PAID FOR.

So to hell with you AT&T. Just fix your damn mistake, have someone other than a peon apologize to me, and maybe, although I know this is probably REALLY hard because of all the forms and confusing systems and extensive notes it would take, maybe you could give me some sort of credit on service.

Because all I did originally was decide to add another person onto my contract and give you more money. And you decided I was a pain in the ass.

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This is a test from my new-spangled Glue account that I’m setting up in anticipation of my iPhone’s imminent arrival.

Glue is gluenow.com and it lets you post to all your social media spaces at once. And I’m not sure how much I’ll use it, since I’d rather have a single dashboard for all my different sites (2 tumblrs, 1 wordpress, facebook, twitter, and probably others I’m forgetting) rather than one site that updates all of them at the same time.

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Friday is Rain Day

I haven’t written in awhile, I know. I’ve been doing more practical things; working and spending time in person with real people. Which is kind of a let down, I was going to write reviews for Sita Sings the Blues and That Evening Sun, but I haven’t and I’m not sure I will at this point. So today, I’ll just share some thoughts from Flannery O’Connor. These are from her essay “The Church and the Fiction Writer,” although I find that she writes so well that any medium can be swapped out for fiction, and the thoughts are still applicable.

A belief in fixed dogma cannot fix what goes on in life or blind the believer to it. It will, of course, add a dimension to the writer’s observation which many cannot, in conscience, acknowledge exists, but as long as what they can acknowledge, is present in the work, they cannot claim that any freedom has been denied the artist.  A dimension taken away is one thing; a dimension added is another, and what the Catholic fiction writer and reader will have to remember is that the reality of the added dimension will be judged in a work of fiction by the truthfulness and wholeness of the natural events presented. If the Catholic fiction writer hopes to reveal mysteries, he will have to do it by describing truthfully what he sees from where he is. An affirmative vision cannot be demanded of him without limiting his freedom to observe what man has done with the things of God.

If we intend to encourage Catholic fiction writers, we must convice those coming along that the Church does not restrict their freedom to be artists but insures it (the restrictions of art are another matter), and to convice them of this requires, perhaps more than anything else, a body of Catholic viewers who are equipped to recognize something in fiction besides passages that they consider obscene. It is popular to suppose that anyone who can read a phonebook can read a short story or novel, and it is more than usual to find the attitude among Catholics that since we possess the Truth in the Church, we can use this Truth directly as an instrument of judgement on any discipline at any time without regard for the nature of that discipline itself. Catholic readers are constantly being offended and scandalized by novels that they don’t have the fundamental equipment to read in the first place, and often thse are works that are permeated with a Christian spirit.

It is when the individual’s faith is weak, not when it is strong, that he will be afraid of an honest fictional representation of life, and when there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the sense of supernatural is apt gradually to be lost. Fiction, made according to its own laws, is an antidote to such a tendency, for it renews our knowledge that we live in the mystery from which we draw our abstractions. The Catholic fiction writer, as fiction writer, will look for the will of God first in the laws and limitations of his art and will hope that if he obeys these, other blessings will be added to his work. The happiest of these, and the one he may presently least expect, will be the satisfid Catholic reader.

And while your reading that, go ahead and put on the song “Funeral” by Band of Horses – it’s my favorite for the day.

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Monsters Vs. Aliens

Many critics have already railed against this film for being gimmicky. I’m here to tell you they are right. But most of those critics saw the film for free, meaning that they didn’t get the full experience that I had last night. Freya and I decided to see the film on the IMAX screen in 3D, and we might have rethought that if we’d asked the price before purchasing the ticket. The tickets were $14.50 apiece – $6 more than your regular movie ticket.

When you go see 3D movies on IMAX, the theater gets to add two upsell fees – $3 for IMAX, and $3 for 3D. If the film were good, if it were interesting, I’m fairly sure I’m ok with paying $6 extra dollars per ticket to enjoy the film on the biggest screen possible. And 3D on IMAX was definitely cool.

Monsters vs. Aliens was not good or interesting though. I guess when one takes inspiration from B-Movies and then attempts to write a kids movie, one cannot make anything more than a B-movie. And when a studio undertakes the effort, with its legions of writers and focus on the bottom-line, and when the film becomes the Studio-head’s seminal effort to show off the awesomeness of a new technology, well you can guess that there are a couple things that fall to the wayside in making that film.

Those things are plot, characterization, plot, and refinement of plot. Monsters vs. Aliens is, when it comes down to it, a demo-reel for 3D technology. There are some funny gags and a few laugh-out-loud lines or scenes, but overall, there is very little substance to this movie.

You shouldn’t misunderstand either; I love a good kids movie. I was all about suspending some disbelief and having some fun with Monsters Vs. Aliens. But the writers through every possible idea they could come up with into a bucket, and it just kind of came out looking like mud. Here’s some of my main complaints:

  • The monsters are lame. The supporting monsters are all cardboard characters that we don’t really get to know at all. The filmmakers couldn’t decide if they should be “realistic” (meaning they could be explained by “science”) or if they should be monster-ish, so they are both. And it doesn’t work.
  • The humans vary between cartoonish (see next point) and attempts to be real (like with the monsters). The President is a pointless character as are the general and Susan’s parents, but Susan herself is an attempt to bring a moral to the movie so they can’t make her too cartoony. It just feels stupid.
  • The General is a clear mish-mash of every General in every war film that was already a parody – most obviously that I saw was Gen. Buck Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove. Apparently when you parody a cartoonish character by making him more cartoonish, no one finds it funny.
  • And last of all, the battles were lame. I mean, with a title like Monsters vs. Aliens, there’s an expectation that you’ll have a battle of epic proportions, something like the old Godzilla movies. Nope, no go.

But honestly, I think I would have enjoyed the movie more if not for those ticket prices. It just wasn’t worth it at all.

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Poem from John Updike

Fine Point
December 22, 2008

Why go to Sunday school, though surlily,
and not believe a bit of what was taught?
The desert shepherds in their scratchy robes
undoubtedly existed, and Israel’s defeats-
the Temple in its sacredness destroyed
by Babylon and Rome. Yet Jews kept faith
and passed the prayers, the crabbed rites,
from table to table as Christians mocked.

We mocked, but took. The timbrel creed of praise
gives spirit to the daily; blood tinges lips.
The tongue reposes in papyrus pleas,
saying, Surely – magnificent, that “surely” –
goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life
, my life, forever.

(Published in the New Yorker, Mar. 16, 2009)

RIP Mr. Updike

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Job Opening at my company

cj Advertising, the company that I work for (and might I add, love) is hiring a web designer. Here are the job specs. If this is you (and they are pretty serious on these specs) hit me up at peacefulchaos at gmail. I’ll give you the rest of the info and put in a good word for you with the hiring squad.

Job Requirements:
• 3+ years working as a professional interface designer with excellent samples of design ability
• Extensive knowledge of XHTML, CSS, effective design techniques and current SEO best practices
• Detail-oriented with strong organizational skills
• Self-motivated, disciplined, and able to work effectively as part of a team
• Ability to maintain ownership of individual projects while also working on collaborative projects
• Exceptional communication and project management skills

Job Functions:
• Maintain awareness and familiarity with changes in online marketing best practices, including (and not limited to) Web design methods, mobile marketing, and social marketing.
• Create complex, standards-compliant Web sites utilizing CSS, HTML/XHTML and PHP
• Develop cutting-edge user interface designs for Web sites in the legal industry
• Develop and implement online marketing strategies and tactics to increase Web site traffic and improve conversion rates
• Develop and monitor email marketing initiatives
• Review and analyze client sites to improve online marketing strategies
• Conduct competitor analysis/research

This job, by the way, is based in Nashville, TN and no commuting will be considered.

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