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New stuff to love on the Internet

January 30, 2008 | Blogging,Journalism,Media,Photography

I’m still catching up on Blogland through my feeder. Yes, still. (But, then, I’m still digging myself out of the Nightmare in Norway hole … )


I found a new site called Full Frontal Scrutiny, which “exposes” (get it?) front groups. (After my “Tricky Dick” search, I had to laugh when I saw the latest post is called “Tricky Wiki: How Public Relations Companies Try to Spin Wikipedia.”) It’s run by Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Center for Media and Democracy. Hat tip: Center for Citizen Media.

One of the bloggers I stalk read started a new photo blog, called Say Chee.se. (She’s in Sweden … .se … get it?) She also blogs at The Many Faces of L, Citizen Media Watch and Skriva.net. (Yes, they’re all in my feeder.)

Speaking of photos, I saw a cool project on Soule Mama called “30 days.” It’s 30 days of photographs of ordinary, everyday things. Kerflop‘s doing it too. I learned about it on BeanPaste. Updated: Photography blogs, Shutter Sisters and Looking Into.

Posted by Becky @ 11:23 pm | 1 Comment  

I got the Q snack


That’s what happens when I don’t volunteer but wait to be assigned to send an alphabet snack to preschool. So, here are my choices.

What about quince?


Hmm. Doesn’t that look like a yellow apple? Could I cheat and send apples?

What about queen olives?


Yeah, the 5-year-olds would love me for that.

What about mini-quiches?


(It’s a good thing I just send them in and don’t have to be there because I would be so tempted to call them quickies. I’d also be tempted to dress like a queen with a quetzal on my shoulder and say stupid things like, “Quench your thirst quickly with this quaff! Quiet your hunger with this quinary of quince cut into quarters and quadrangles!” Only to be met with quizzical silence. Quirky? Unquestionably.)

I’m leaning toward quesadillas, though.


What would you pick for a Q snack?

Posted by Becky @ 2:50 pm | 8 Comments  

Privacy? We don’t need no stinkin’ privacy!

January 29, 2008 | Airlines,Customer service,Privacy


So the Privacy Act of 1974 requires my senator to get my written consent before he can legally act on my behalf. You know. So he doesn’t look like he’s Tricky Dick or something. (Don’t turn off SafeSearch when you’re searching for Tricky Dick. Trust me.) But he needs my Social Security number. To, you know, act on my behalf.

OK. Can he get my $6,000 back? All-righty. Here’s my Social Security number. My mailing address. My property-tax records. My telephone number. My cell number. My income-tax records. My credit-card and bank-account numbers. My e-mail passwords. Anything else? My health records. DNA and blood samples. A satellite photograph of me standing in front of my house. Really. See? There I am.

Will that do? Call me, OK? You’ve got my number now.

Posted by Becky @ 9:28 pm | Comments  

Books: Life of Pi



I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Anyone else? What did you think?

Posted by Becky @ 2:02 pm | 7 Comments  

Companies respond to service complaints

January 25, 2008 | Customer service



I mentioned the other day that Karen at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied service at Steak ‘n Shake. She’s been busy since then, responding to bloggers on the Internet and appearing on the local news.

Matthew at Childs Play x2 got a “one-time exception” for customer service from Home Decorators. Not exactly “exceptional customer service,” but he’ll take it.

Posted by Becky @ 9:51 am | 2 Comments  

Do you think I qualify for TravHell?

January 23, 2008 | Audience participation,Blogland games,Traveling


Well, it’s not like you can go vote for me or anything. The blog-sponsors will do the judging. But, hey, I figured my travel experience sucks as bad as the next person’s. Ya think?

So …and the pursuit of happiness, Hotfessional and Sass Attack are running a contest to see who has the suckiest TravHell stories to tell. They’re even giving away prizes. (Think they can get my $6,000 refund? OK. Probably not. But I bet it’s better’n a bag of airline peanuts.)

Here’s my story. It’s all one trip. It’s just so hellacious that I can’t fit it into one post.

Got a horrifying TravHell experience? You can enter until Feb. 3. Go check it out.

Posted by Becky @ 11:07 pm | 4 Comments  

But the emporer has nothing on at all!

Advertising,Airlines,Customer service,Economics,Ethics,No clothes!,Norway,PR


I was discussing the Gates of Hell chapter of the Nightmare in Norway with someone the other night.

“I would have said, ‘I want to speak to your boss, and your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss, NOW’ … you know … go up the chain of command,” he said.

Chain of command. Yeah, the military does that to a person, I guess. Maybe that works in that world.

But, really, how much latitude does a customer-bot (we’re not human beings anymore) have in an airport before going from concerned about service to a security threat? I mean, how many times could I have told Haris, “I want to speak to your boss,” before he felt “threatened” by me and sent me spiraling into the Circles of Hell to, you know … stun guns, shackles, detention, jail … that sorta thing? I mean … really?

Besides, who’s to say Haris the employee-bot (they’re not human beings anymore either) wouldn’t have just said, “No.”

Then what?

It’s happened before. I called a “customer service” line to ask for, well, customer service. (Oh, silly me.) When I got nowhere with the employee-bot, I asked to speak to his supervisor. He put me on hold. He came back and told me his supervisor refused to speak to me.

Refused to speak to me.

I asked for the name of the president of the company. He said he didn’t know. “Well, could you check?” I asked. He put me on hold again. He came back and said, “It’s against company policy to give you that information.”

It was against company policy to tell me who runs the company.

He was right. I couldn’t find the president’s name anywhere on the company Web site. In fact, three companies were involved, and none of their contact information was available through any of the companies. I had to look them up by other means. But, hey, I found them. (I need to write a love letter to the Internet.) I sent an e-mail to all of them and the customer-service department. To their credit, they actually resolved my problem. Very satisfactorily, even.

Apparently, though, it’s become standard operating procedure that employee-bots (and their CEOs) do not work for customer-bots — even if they are in the service industry. Hell, employee-bots don’t even work for their CEOs anymore. They work for the computer screens in front of them. They can only do what their computers tell them to do, which — when it comes to customer-bots — usually isn’t much.

I suppose PR bullshit goes way back, and none of this is new. Am I the only one who can remember things like “the customer is always right” … or was that just PR bullshit too? I couldn’t help thinking about The Emporer’s New Clothes, which I recently grabbed off the shelf for my son. (I got the Virginia Lee Burton pictures from a 1968 version of the book by Scholastic Book Services.)

You call your employees co-workers and expect them (and us) to believe it?

No clothes!


You say you “work hard to earn my business every time I fly”?

No clothes!


You say, “They’ll hold the plane for you”?

No clothes!


You say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do”?

No clothes!


It’s not like I’ve never gotten good customer service. I got incredible service yesterday, in fact. More than once. (I’ll write about it one of these days.) But when I get excellent or good or, heck, even fair-to-middling customer service, isn’t it a shame that it makes me want to weep with joy? Why should it be the exception and not the rule?

I ran across a few examples of suckass non-service just skimming through my feeder this morning. Matthew at Childs Play x2 warns his readers not to shop at Home Decorators. Planet Nomad writes about inexplicable weirdness at Starbucks. CrankMama has a few choice words to say about Verizon. Updated: I just found this priceless exchange on Hotfessional. Updated2: Wow. They just keep coming. Karen at A Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied service at Steak ‘n Shake.

What’s your suckiest non-service experience? Who deserves the “No clothes!” seal of disapproval?

Posted by Becky @ 7:54 pm | 3 Comments  

Nightmare in Norway

January 21, 2008 | Health,Norway,Traveling,Winter

A Visit from St. Pukealot

‘Twas the Nightmare in Norway, and all through the house
Every creature swam in puke, even the mouse;
The stockings hung by the chimney were dry,
Only because projectile vomit couldn’t blow that high.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of anything but food danced in their heads,
After sloshing through soaked towels and sheets 3 feet deep,
We collapsed, exhausted, and hoped for some sleep.

When from the bedroom came the familiar sound,
Of at least one child horking and stumbling around.
With puke bucket and towel I rushed to the door,
To rip off the sheets and clean up the floor.

The moon and the snow … who cares about that?
I was too busy cleaning up stuff that goes splat.
It all started with one little puke in the morning,
By Son No. 2 — we got our first warning.

The Daughter started screaming, we had no idea,
That our days would be filled with puke and diarrhea,
She puked at the restaurant and in the car ride home,
The rest of the day, all night and then some.

To the top of the ceiling, to the top of the wall!
Now puke away puke away puke away all!

To the doctor she went the first and second day,
Then to the hospital two-and-a-half hours away,
She got IV fluids and fell fast asleep,
We slept on the floor in an exhausted heap.

And then, in a rumbling, while I lay on my back
The virus decided it was time to attack.
As I ran for the bathroom, and was turning around,
Up the gullet St. Pukealot came with a bound.

It came in a dash, I didn’t quite get there,
I got to the sink, hell, I didn’t care;
So, great, now we’re ALL locked in isolation,
What a sucky-ass, horrible, nasty vacation.

But, wait, it gets better, for when we got back,
Son No. 2 did nothing but yack, yack, yack, yack.
More puke in the bed, in his hair, on the floor,
Think that’s enough? Oh, no, hon. There’s more.

Son No. 1 joined the chorus of the vomitous pukefest,
He lost too much weight, and we still got no rest,
His face was so gaunt, and his bones stuck out,
Oh, what have we done, I wanted to shout.

Do you think, dear readers, that’s as bad as it got?
Guess what. It got worse, even worse — by a lot.
By the time we recovered, it was time to depart,
Through the Gates of Hell, er, the Oslo Airport.

Ah, I misspoke, we couldn’t leave — not just yet,
We were held hostage and put into more debt,
Because those who run Purgatory, er, “customer service,”
Wouldn’t let us on board; rules are rules, they told us.

So we dished out the dough and got home a day late,
All sick with head colds this time, isn’t that great?
Do you think I’m excited for more holiday cheer?
Bah humbug! We ain’t going nowhere next year.

Posted by Becky @ 11:58 am | 7 Comments  

Here comes the sun

January 19, 2008 | Norway,Vacation


Oops … there it goes.

Posted by Becky @ 6:52 pm | Comments  

Bad moon rising

January 17, 2008 | Norway,Vacation,Winter


Well, it doesn’t rise so much as circle. It appears from behind one side of the mountain and disappears behind the other.

Posted by Becky @ 2:31 pm | Comments  


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