Thursday, February 17, 2011

Career Call Centers

After filling out an online application for schools, I've been bombarded by a call center every 15 minutes by someone who is extremely excited to help me find the right college.  I've become quite the expert on these exchanges.  I know what questions they're about to ask before they can finish.  And I've come to realize that 90% of them are following a script.  That's not unusual.  Every body from AT&T to Comcast to basically any major corp has these.  We've all worked somewhere that had us reading from a script when answering the phone.  It is the way companies can guarantee your experience is a positive and informative one(whether their employee is an idiot or not).

I've also noticed that following a script can make a perfectly intelligent person sound like an idiot.  The following conversation is as best as I can remember it:

Intelligent Woman:  Hello sir, you contacted our website requesting information on various college programs and I was returning your...(bla bla bla bla, nothing any of us haven't heard a million times before, keep your arms and elbows in... etc etc)

Me:  That's right, mam.

Intelligent Woman:  Is this number a good number that I can get in touch with you?

Me:  Ummm.... yes.

Intelligent Woman:  Can I verify that number?

Me:  ...Sure... if you need to.  ...?

Intelligent Woman:  555, 555, 5555

Me:  That's right, mam.

Intelligent Woman:  I see here you've entered a mailing address, can we verify that?

Me:  Sure.  Go for it.

Intelligent Woman:  (My address)

Me:  That's right. 

Intelligent Woman:  (In the next 5 minutes, she finds the longest possible way to tell me exactly what her company does even though I've already been to their website and filled out their many, many forms which include... you guessed it, my address and phone #.  She then proceeds to read how excited she is to help me.  Her tone does not reflect her enthusiasm). you have a few minutes to answer some of my questions?

Me:  Well, actually I-

Intelligent Woman:  May I ask you what areas you are interested in pursuing education in?

Me:  Well, I was looking for anything to do with CAD, computer drafting, etc....

Intelligent Woman:  Computers!  OK.  Let me type that in.  Are you interested in taking classes online?

Me:  Sure.

Intelligent Woman:  Do you have a computer?

Me:  Yes.  I used it to visit your website.

Intelligent Woman:  Do you have access to the Internet?

Me:  ...yes...I also used that to--

Intelligent Woman:  OK.  Let's see what we have here.... ..... ..... may I verify your email?

Me:  (sigh)Sure, it's p-o-l-

Intelligent Woman:  I have it here.  Is (my email address) correct?

Me:  Yes, that's right.

Intelligent Woman:  I'll try to match you up with three colleges that best suit your needs, and then they'll contact you.  The first one is BLANK college.  They have the following programs available:  Computer Science. Computer Programming. Networking, Computer Security. Computer Animation. Computer Engineering.  Would you like to inquire about any of these programs?

Me:  No, actually none of those have anything to do with CAD.  It stands for Computer Aided--

Intelligent Woman:  So do you think the Computer Animation program is something you'd like more information on?

Me:  --Drafting.  No, What?  No.  It's not computer animation.  It's more in the line of Architecture, or Drafting, or maybe Civil Engineering...

Intelligent Woman:  ...well do you think it might be something you'd be interested in?

Slightly Annoyed Me:  ....................NO.  You see I'm trying to get further education in something I already know a little about.  I've been trying to locate a ....

Intelligent Woman:  I understand, sir.  Lets try again.  The next school we have is BLANK school.  It's an online university.  It says here they have the following programs available.: Computer Science. Computer Programming. Networking. Computer Security. Computer Animation. Computer Engineering. Would you like to inquire about any of these programs?

Annoyed Me:  No... No, I don't want any of those programs.  You see, it's not computers, or programming that I'm interested in.  It's...

Less Intelligent Woman:  I understand, let's move on.  I see here that there is an Arts School close by that offers Computer Animation, and 3D Modeling?

Annoyed Me:  I'm sorry.  Look...  Uh, not really--well I guess the 3D Modeling is closer to the mark but it's still not...

Less Intelligent Woman:  OK.  Let's get you some information on that.  May I have your address?

Angry Me:  What?! ...Uh... same as before...but it's still not really what I'm--

Less Intelligent Woman:  Great!  I'll just confirm that. >reads back my information<.  And is this a good number to contact you?

Angry Me:  Yes!  But--

Less Intelligent Woman:  And is that number 555-5---

Angry Me:  YES.  CORRECT!

Less Intelligent Woman:  It says here on your online application that you've completed High School?

Angry Me:  YES.

Less Intelligent Woman:  And you're not in the military?

Angry Me:  YES.  NO.  I'm not!

Less Intelligent Woman Whom I Want To Strangle:  And it says here that--

Angry Me Who Is About To Hang Up:  --Let me just stop you right there.  I'm actually looking at the application I filled out online[lie] and EVERYTHING is correct.  No need to confirm anything.  EVERYTHING is CORRECT.  E-V-E-R-Y--T-H-I-N-G.

Less Intelligent Woman Whom I Want To Strangle:  OK... Um...  .... ... >click< ... >click< ... >click, click<...

Me:  ....

Less Intelligent Woman:  ... >click, click< ...

Me:  ...hello?...

Less Intelligent Woman:  Hello, sir.  Just filling some information out.  Thank you for your patience.  ...>click< ...

Me:  ...

Less Intelligent Woman:  OK, sir.  They will have a college counselor call you in the next 48 hours at 555-555-5555.  They may send additional information to your residence at (my address) and will contact you at (my email).  They may have some additional questions for you regarding your online application and may need to confirm some of your contact information.  Now let's get a few more colleges on the list.  This next college has the following programs.  Computer Science, Computer Security, Computer--

Me:  >hanging up<

And there you have it.  A 20 minute conversation in which I managed to get a college counselor to call me from a School I have no interest in going to for a program I don't want to take.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I'm writing this inside Bongo Java(the east sides super-cool, ultra-hip, snobbishly-exclusive coffee shop). I'm looking around thinking about how much I don't fit in while realising that I look exactly like every guy in here.

I've been converted. Converted to an East Nashvillite. For those of you who don't live here, East Nashville is an older part of the city that's being redone. It's full of either old people that have lived here since it was built, poorer families that have triple mortgages on their houses, and young adults that are alright with paying large sums of money for little brick tutor's with only one bathroom and two very small closets. I guess Michelle and I fit in that last group.

I actually like it here. There are things I miss about suburbia. Really I do. I miss being able to go on walks at night without worrying about gangs, a drive-by, or a wild pack of dogs chasing me down the street. I miss being able to leave anything(anything at all) in my front lawn without it being stolen when I go inside for a drink of water. I guess most of all, I miss that "safe" feeling you get from living on a cul-de-sac-wherever that comes from.

But nevertheless, I'm actually surprised how much I like city living. The fact I'm so close to anything is a real treat. I don't have to take an entire Saturday to run down materials I can only find in specialty shops. If I want to take Liam to the downtown library, no big deal. I can walk to a coffee shop(that's my favorite). I really feel like I'm part of the community and that has never happened anywhere I've lived before. I think it's because everybody is jammed in so tight, that you really pay attention to your neighbors. You make friends not because it's convenient or fun, but because if you go to the bathroom and forget to shut the door and/or blinds, they get the full show, and it would be nice to at least have some history with people who have seen you pee.

But my main point is that no matter where you live, despite what culture you bring with you, you're assimilated slowly. So here I sit, with my scraggly beard, drinking my overpriced coffee, in a super-cool, ultra-hip, snobbishly-exclusive coffee shop, typing on my computer in the middle of the day just like everybody else. Neat, huh?

Well, those are my thoughts for today. Hopefully my oil will be changed soon, and they won't find anything wrong with the Subaru. I HATE spending money on cars. Maybe I'll write about that next time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is in a CAD?

I don't even know what CAD stands for. Let's see... Computer Added Directions. Cats And Dogs. Cost A Dollar. Comet Armageddon Destruction. Actually it stands for Computer Aided Design. Makes you think that the program is going to "aid" you in designing something with ease, right? Well there is NOTHING easy about any of these programs. It's like every bad idea that ever went into a Windows OS is fleshed out in these things. I've spent a good deal of the morning searching the net for a program I could use to "aid" me in drawing up some decent drawings and you wanna know what I found?...

Not much. Unless you're willing to drop around $500 - $2000. There is no way I'm spending that much for what I'm doing. Most of the pictures show people designing skyscrapers, or doing 3D modeling for presentations of new technology. All I want to do is draw out a face frame. Basically a square within in a square with measurements to the side. That's not hard. It's really easy to do on paper, except I don't want to do it on paper. I want to do it on a computer. Because we all know, computers should make life easier, right?

Interestingly enough, I've downloaded some trial versions of some of the more expensive options and I've noticed the download times are very short. VERY short. It takes longer to download an old 8 bit Nintendo game that's 30 years old. So what's in these programs that cost so much. Apparently not much. And that makes sense, because it's not doing anything very hard. The web page you looking at is full of similar computations. This box is this large, and snapped to the next one, this one is larger spanning 380 pixels instead of 390. And your computer will even convert the measurements depending on what size your computer screen is.

Now I've found some cheaper programs on the net, but most of them are completely useless. Most of them don't even let you edit the length of the line. You have to draw a line, measure it, then change it, then measure it again, until you get it right. No edit tools to help you do this, or at least not one that's easy to find. So why not? Wouldn't you think that's a pretty important feature if you're planning on designing anything? Anything at all? You probably have to buy a different version to get anything that actually works, but if that's the case, why offer the first version? It's USELESS! If you do find a program with a decent amount of options, there's always something else wrong with it. Most of the time the problem lies in that you can't convert the file to anything that can be read. Or it only converts in the metric system(stupid). Or it doesn't have a "save" option. Or it just doesn't work...had a few of those.

Another observation, almost all of the programs are a complete mess! I'm pretty computer literate and I'm a Windows user, so I'm used to nothing being where it should, but these programs have me confounded. Drawing lines are usually awkward, confusing, and nonsensical. About the only button that seems to do what you think it should is the "upgrade to better version" icon. I wouldn't spend $10 on any of these CAD programs(full versions or not), and 75% have such horrible graphics, websites, bad grammar, or presentations I wouldn't trust giving them any of my personal information and especially not my credit card number.

My conclusion: There is a huge void in CAD programs. There doesn't seem to be any affordable programs for user who don't want to build a convention center but want to do more than draw a picture of cow using only geometric shapes. What's that? Cows? That's right. On one of the many websites I visited, they have an example on their front page. It's a picture of cows sitting at a desk. It's as if they're saying, "Look at what you can do with our program!" WHO CARES! That's COMPLETELY USELESS! Why would anybody doing a search for a CAD program be interested in that?

Anyway, my search goes on. All keep all my avid readers posted. All two of you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Joy of Building

I just got done with a few projects. It was(and always is) satisfying to see the fruits of your labor. To stand back and look at something you made. I do believe God has given me a desire to create, to dream, to craft something from nothing. Music. Woodworking. Drawing. It's all the same principle. You start with nothing except tools, materials, and imagination. You reference other peoples work, but you always get to put your own spin on it. Sometimes your mistakes end up being the best, most unique part of whatever you're doing. And though our works are nothing compared to His, I believe He delights in seeing us at work. I've always had a notion that heaven will be a place that we can work and create without a concept of value. Wouldn't it be wonderful to build a table and give it to a friend for no other reason but to fulfill a need. And if somebody builds better tables than you, you could find joy in learning from him or looking at his work without envy or greed. Your only incentive would be to better yourself for the sake of getting better. And if somebody doesn't build as well as you, you could find joy in passing on knowledge without any need of being paid or worry about competition. Ah well, til then we're all stuck down here in the mud trying to keep our lives stable. Let's try and find as much joy as we can and leave the money thing up to God.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Being your own boss

Being your own boss is great! I get to take breaks when I want to. I can go home when I want to. I can wake up late if I want to. I can take an 1 1/2 lunch if I want to...

Except I can't. Because when you are your own boss, you are so worried about getting paid, getting the next job, finishing the current job, keeping customers happy, paying for insurance, having enough money for materials, and making the whole mess work, that even when you honestly don't have anything to do you're stressing out over having nothing to do.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beatle Mania

Hey Folks! This Friday at 12 and porter I'm playing with a Beatle's cover band called 64. I'm inviting everybody to come out, grab a drink, and have a sing-a-long. I've been going to see 64 for awhile now. I love this show. It's so easy to go to, so easy to have fun at. It's just a group of guys who like playing Beatle's music getting together and doing exactly that. No wigs, no suits, no act, nothing you have to feel cool to do, or "in the know" to be a part of, just plain fun. If you're thinking, "I'm not really a huge Beatles fan", well.... Neither am I! But just listening to 64 has shown me how great of a band the Beatles were and how well I know their stuff. So I'll see everybody there. I'll be the guy playing the tamborine in the back.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Ducks and Trucks Share

Nothing much actually, except for the fact that my son pronounces them the same way. However, instead of the "D" or "Tr" sound, Liam has found a way to consolidate several consonants into the letter "F". So if you see my son and I walking along side a busy road, or strolling past the pond in the park, and you hear my son yelling "F#*%, F#*%!!!", he is NOT saying what you think he is. I did NOT teach him that. And please do NOT start laughin-that will only prolong his fascination with the word.