Thursday, January 19, 2017

Things You Learn When You Pay Attention


The world around us is amazing, and despite the "sameness" that many situations in your life may acquire, it's a good idea to pay attention to details. I worked this one out in my mind when I was on a walk this morning, admiring the snow, which could have been outside of my usual. I mean here in New Hampshire, snow falls, it accumulates, you end up really sick of it, and sooner or later it goes away. I can honestly say that I never really admired it before, or even took an opportunity to try and understand why it is the way it is. Even when you grow sick of it, there are still fascinating differences about it, worth looking at.

A little history here, I guess, but the last few years we have had snow on top of snow on top of snow, followed by more snow. I know it's all because of global warming and all, but it has been sickening how much snow we have had the last couple of years, and in all honesty it was just like it was 30 years before that and 30 years before that. The only real cycles that the world goes through are the obvious ones, or the ones that everyone ignores to make some sort of point. The last time we were in the blizzard mounted, piles and piles of snow mode, I was a child, and 5 feet of snow on the ground was a hell of a lot of fun. As an adult it was a hell of a lot of work, and unlike when I was a child to enjoy it, it made me a little grumpy. As that cycle has passed we are in the varying types of snow winter now. This is what brought me the idea to write this.

Yesterday it started snowing in the wee hours of the morning and it snowed until the wee hours of this morning. It was different, it didn't dump snow like a blizzard, it merely trickled it. In 24 hours it didn't stop snowing, but it was so meandering that in 24 whole hours we didn't even get a foot. The temperature didn't even seem cold enough to merit snow, but it was snow indeed. Light, wet, never ending snow that wasn't enough to accumulate, and as you can see in the picture above it is quite beautiful, as well as being quite damaging. I mean that snow sticks to everything. There isn't much to shovel, but damn it is heavy. It looks like cotton balls as it rests on everything, but as you can see it bends over all the trees because it is heavy and sticky. It's not that I haven't noticed this type of "snow" before, it's just that despite all of the snow we have had, this type is just different.

As stupid as it sounds, I am just proud of myself for noticing this. I'm happy that I took a moment to admire the beauty of this. Now I can get back to wishing it would stop snowing and I can wear less clothing. I am still selfish after all, and even beautiful snow is a pain in the ass.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Things Heat Up.

This is part three of an excessively violent story, Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here

A peaceful river runs through the middle of Ohio, it is brown, slow, and serene. For most of it's length the bank is tree lined, dense, and a little wild. For five miles, though, it meanders through a "restricted area." A heavily guarded, double fenced, secretive place that is almost invisible. If anybody knew it was there they didn't know what it was. It was a black hole to the surrounding communities, who were a little afraid of what they thought was hidden behind the trees and walls and fences.

In a building on the north end of the compound a man picked up a telephone. He typed in an elaborate series of letters and numbers, and held his thumb on a special pad on the handset. His efforts were rewarded with a congratulatory "Lieutenant Baldwin, access approved" on the screen in front of him.

After listening for a few minutes he said, "roger, sir, systems are go." And then he hung up. He looked toward the heavens, thought a silent apology, moved his seat forward and pressed a button on a console. Nothing happened in the room.

Outside, though, a group of attack helicopters ground to life. Huge blades moving in slow circles, a soft whisper, growing in speed, and volume, faster, louder, until the noise and dust and wind were overpowering.

One jumped thirty feet in the air, settled slowly, then another, until all seven of them had bounced, landed and prepped, like giant dragon flies, flitting, and settling. Dragon flies with missile pods, and machine guns. Real dragon flies, breathing fire, and demanding payment.

Then they rose, turned south, the sun glaring balefully, leaving long, monstrous shadows as they gathered speed, and flew vengefully, purposefully, and with amazing precision. Clearly, they meant business, they had a mission, and somebody was not going to be sorry when they arrived. Somebody would be very sorry.

On the fourth floor of The Life Explained building the firing had stopped, it may have been to reload, it might have been spontaneous, unanimous remorse. Whatever the cause the silence was deafening.

Zach stood up and said, "look, this has gotten a little out of hand. I'm sorry I pushed you down, Bill. And I didn't really just wash this shirt, it has been a couple of days, and I really hate this shirt."

He smiled, awkwardly, holding his hands by his head by his head. He turned his head from side to side in an effort to smile awkwardly at everybody to show his sincerity. 

Elaine, from indoor sales, jumped up from behind the hallway couch, her brown eyes blazing furiously, her hands shaking with rage, her voice broke with agony when she hissed, "I gave you that shirt when we were dating, you son of a bi*&h." She pulled a grenade from her purse and threw it at Zach.

Fortunately she threw it too hard and it rolled out the window, exploding in the vacant street, shredding the "Now Hiring" banner hanging over the arches leading to the building.

In the office on the 13th floor, at the very top of the building Dr. Dawg looked out the window, saw the fires, and destruction, read the email that said helicopter gunships were inbound, looked at the camera feed from the customer service department on the 4th floor and whispered to himself, and his assistant, "oh no, not again."

To be continued.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Jeremy Crow Christmas Countdown 2016 #4


Well, I am happy to report that last Christmas was the "last" Christmas that I have to endure my family. I'm not a grinch or anything, I am quite happy for everyone that has a loving family and enjoys their company, but whether through sarcasm, story telling or fact telling, I wasn't joking when I explained how miserable I was living with and dealing with them. It was a symbiotic misery actually where in I had to be grateful that I had a place to live during the single father days, and the days of the back injury, and the whole host of other reasons I was forced to leach off of my family. On the other hand, I got really really sick of being duty bound because I leached off my family. As a matter of fact when I was long past the need to leach off my family I was rather forced into it by the fact that I just couldn't escape it.

Over time, when I finally was able to break free of the shackles of family obligation, they made it downright miserable on me. The very same people who kept my children practically locked in a cage, freed them within days of my moving out. Weekends were simply a place for my kids to go and do everything they weren't allowed to do when we all lived there, and couldn't be left free to do in a functioning household. Any sort of authority that I tried to insert was thwarted from outside, and in the end I became a miserable bastard who I wouldn't have wanted to live with either. The kids then could just "wait me out" during the week, go there on the weekends, rinse repeat. Duty bound by all the guilt and my own sense of honor and "keeping my word" I couldn't shut it off.

Needless to say when it all snapped in the house, I sent the kids over there for a period and when I wanted to get them back, the fighting and the accusations just made me throw my hands up in the air. Once the birth mother found out about this I was taken to court to lose custody, and I did. Not to the ex wife, but to the family I had done everything to escape from. For a while I went over there on the weekends, but after custody was handed over, I just didn't care to anymore. I escaped from that place and I wasn't going to go over there and justify my existence and here the lies about how great everyone was doing, and how the things that weren't so good were my fault. Of course from that point on I was forced to endure holidays over there, until last Christmas. That was the end of it all.

I'm not going to get into it, but what happened was completely unacceptable, and I just started ignoring them. Over time they got the hint. We can all play the game of how you have to do whatever for your family, but you know what? You don't. I send the kids their birthday and Christmas gifts. They don't bother to even say thank you, rinse, repeat. The one gift that this year has finally given me after 46 long years is a clean conscience and best of all, another day to sleep in. In reality the only thing that has kept me in the area in which I live is my father, who recently went into assisted living. I'm not going anywhere while he is around. He and I haven't had a relationship built on guilt and I can assure you that we have both leaned on each other plenty. Of course I will go see him on Christmas. Oh wait! I do have family, and he like me likes his visits brief.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Who Are You Jeremy Crow?


Well for those of you who didn't know, I just spent the past week on a cruise ship. I spent that week basically alone. I went on excursions alone, I went to most of the shows alone, and watched the dive in movies alone. Yes most of the time I ate alone, and walked the halls of the ship alone. Yes it was a seven day lesson on learning to enjoy my own company, but on the brighter side I learned rather quickly how to be alone and more importantly how to enjoy being alone. That's basically the extent of my bad news because it was mostly good news.

I learned not only how to be alone, but I also learned that many people enjoy my company. Of course as I write this I can imagine that many people who read my words would assume that I am charming or even popular. If I am to be completely honest, I am moderately charming and can attract people to me. On bowling night for example, most of the teams do like playing me, and it isn't just because they can really run up the points on me, no it appears that I can be the life of the party. This is what I learned on the ship. I could actually find a booth in one of the clubs, sit alone for a short period of time, and find myself sitting at a packed booth where people would immediately take the empty spots because it became the "cool" place to be. My sarcasm and passive aggressive nature is not only a cry for help, but also an enjoyable experience for others. Who knew?

Of course since I have been back, I have found it to be a harsh taste of reality. It is a lot harder to just "up and leave" a sad situation and go find a happier one. There were plenty of happier ones on the ship, and just a lot of snow, and very little places to just go in and fit in here. I will probably end up pretty depressed by the end of this week, but then after my procedure on Friday, I should be able to just squeeze back into work where I am at least popular and needed again. It will probably be a long week ahead so bear with me.

Foe anyone wondering I do have a lot of great pictures, they just happen to be buried in among all of the boring pictures I also took. I saw two sets of Mayan ruins. One is on the list of the seven man made wonders of the modern world (Chichen-Itza) in Mexico but the one that was a lot more enjoyable was Lamanai in Belize. I also had a great time at Roatan where I went to a very large wildlife preserve to play with monkeys and exotic birds. Unfortunately all of my pictures that I took of the Grand Cayman Islands didn't come out. Mostly chickens because I was totally fascinated with all the wild chickens.

Throughout this entire experience I have found some hope anyway. I will be looking forward to my next cruise, and trust me folks, there will be a next cruise in my future. At the very least I can say I went from someone who would never really take any time out of my day to look forward to a vacation to someone who now knows better. I know know better on an awful lot of things, and I will be spending some time between depression sessions over the next week, trying to put all of those in order too. Have a great week gang.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spent

Spent [spent] verb
1. simple past tense and past participle of spend.
2. used up; consumed.
3. tired; worn-out; exhausted.

I had an epiphany today. Of course this is nothing new, because epiphany is one of my favorite words. May over the last decade have just been impressed that I spell the word correctly, but epiphanies are the very items that have changed the path I walk on often. Before the epiphany can be explained let me explain what my mornings are like, so that one can understand where an epiphany like this can be drawn from.

I wake up at 4 am on a normal working day. Today is not a normal working day, so I woke up at 8 am which is 4 hours past normal and that should tell you something. I grab my laptop and my tablet and I get back into bed with a tumbler full of yesterday's coffee. I read the 300 or so comments I get on various social media, and I make sure that my daily quote gets into the People and Quotes collection on G+ which now has a little over 325,000 followers. Why? I don't know it just does. I then cull through the people who have interacted with my G+ posts and then do my best to spread the love around their posts. This takes about an hour and I then shower and hop in the car to make it to work by 6 am.

This is just what I do, and it's sometimes a chore considering that my G+ hasn't worked in over 9 months. This is why you see comments from people scolding me because my plusses don't show up. Why you often here me complaining because I get hundreds of plusses a day and they don't get added to my blogs. Of course I have realized that they do get added to my blogs, just not to the blog itself anymore. If you look through the comments you will see that the comments now get hundreds of plusses and the blog itself does not anymore. Oh well I actually stopped caring about these things a while ago, but it's nice to know what really happened. I have done my best to paint a happy picture and I have plodded along.

Honesty would be that in the last 3 years, I lost my children, I lost my dog and my home life has deteriorated to the point where I often just feel like there is no safe place for me to be. The blogs and the normalcy of doing my online things keep me together. How sad is that? I can only imagine what one would think of someone with such a meak and bleak existence, but it is what I have and it is the parameters under which I have to work.During that same period of time I have watched my career go through the glass ceiling, and unfortunately have become the goto guy and often the fixer of problems. Often to the point of being so tightly wound that I couldn't squeeze a frozen pea through my ass.

Think about that for a moment. I go to a job that I am good at and it is crushing me under the weight of responsibility, and the lack of responsibility that my co-workers display, and then I go to a place most would call home that I want nothing to do with. It's killing me and worse than that, I haven't had a vacation in so long because I have been afraid to go on vacation because of how bad things would get with me gone. The real reason is because of how bad things get when I am not at work, both at work and outside of work. Waking up every morning to the normalcy of my stupid unproductive online pattern is probably the only thing that keeps me centered. Now that has to end too.

I am totally spent. Physically, mentally and definitely spiritually. Today I start a two and a half week vacation. The first part of it will be a cruise which has some terrifying dynamics too it, and the second part is where I go and find out if my butt cancer has come back, and if so can it just be easily removed like last time. I don't even know how to vacation properly but as I think I have admitted here quite effectively, I don't even know how to "life" properly. In either regards I will have to find times here and there just to get my daily quotes uploaded, and the rest of the time, people probably won't even notice I am gone. Of course I would hope for the sake of all of your sanity that don't realize I am gone. It' no way to live really.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Sky is Falling


People often ask me what I do for a living, even though they seem to have the gist of what it is I do. My correct title is MRO which loosely stands for Maintenance, Repairs and Operations. In some cases the O stands for Overhaul, but in my case it stands for Operations. Why the semantics of the last word is very important is simply in the extra responsibilities it gives you. Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul would signify that my job is simply to purchase the materials and services necessary to keep the machinery up and running, but the addition of Operations means that I am responsible for the purchase of the materials and services to keep the facility in general up and running. It would seem pretty simply correct?

Unfortunately like any other position in just about any other job, there are people involved and because of this, nothing seems to go smoothly regardless of how much preparation I give towards controlling situations. I can be as droll as I wish when someone comes to me with a "the sky is falling" situation, and no time for costing. Most people in my industry would tell you that this is normal, and the smartest among us know that getting an ulcer over these things is a terrible waste of energy. Luckily an ulcer isn't something you can get through contagion because I try not to make it painless for any individual who is under the pressure of a falling sky. Actually I can count on one hand the people that will do this to me, and do it to me often. Most people actually "grasp" the sourcing process, and work within the normal boundaries.

The latest of the "sky is falling" scenarios was centered around labels that had to be affixed to the packaging of every box that ships in a specific order. First thing to know is that "labels" or anything else that is affixed to a retail product are not a Maintenance, Repair or Operations, but it does become my problem when they haven't been ordered, and the run is coming up. The RMB (Raw Materials Buyer) would usually be the person to purchase these items, and that (of course) requires planning, and shipping. Neither of those items are available when something is needed in three days, so then it becomes an "Operations" issue. In other words the retail segment (which is basically what gets the factory paid) is in dire need of remaining on time. My first goal is of course to make this uncomfortable, lest it happens more often.

I learned the art of repairing a falling sky from one of my heroes (Mr Scott from Star Trek) and the best way to create miracle worker status, and to keep the ulcers growing in the bellies of others and not myself, is to first make the situation impossible to solve. This is easier than it seems because the person demanding that you stop the sky from falling has already exhausted their own means of accomplishing the feat of brilliance, or never bothered to consider having means to solve problems to begin with. I of course have the number of a digital marketing team who I can drive to and get these things solved. Of course it is expensive as all get out, but as I said, I ain't getting an ulcer over these things. The trick at this point is just finding a place in my desk to hide these things, so that I can run out and hand them to whoever needs them at the very last second. That ulcer in their belly ain't going to grow itself?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Overseas Call Center Reality


Well, you'll forgive me if I take a break from my three usual Life Whacko topics to deal with a life topic that I don't think many people put much thought into. Starved for things to over-analyze I realized a few things when I was on the phone with my company's tech support the other day. You should thank your lucky stars that you have Indians to talk to instead of what America has to offer.

Yes, in today's day and age, where we have the political season raging, such important topics as, eating the rich, punishing the rich, and the loss of American jobs, I realized something that most people won't admit. We are damn lucky they sent tech support overseas, and I have some pretty good examples of it, and of course my usual over-analysis of the examples. Buckle your seat belt, this will be a bumpy ride.

If you are talking bout tech support or customer support you are dealing with two distinct criteria which have nothing to do with what the reality of the matter is. I called Verizon to cancel an account for one of my co-workers the other day (the worst part of my job is dealing with Verizon) and after over 20 minutes of press this button, hold that button, enter your code followed by the pound sign, I finally got a good old fashioned American voice on the other end. Aside from the south western accent, I could tell it was an American because she was rude and probably under-educated. Definitely one or the other, but I am thinking both. By the end of the call I was missing all of the press this, enter that and hold for the operator that the computer voice had been giving me. Verizon, Comcast and many other ginormous companies operate in this fashion. The "make it painful to call us" approach to doing business.

This of course made me ponder the call I made to India to get tech support on my computer at work. Of course there was a small language barrier, but the person on the other end tried to be helpful, was well informed, and basically seemed happy to have the job. The Verizon worker appeared to be none of these things. It's funny how these things work, but there may be a chance that people in this country have been trained by the people in power that certain jobs are to be hated, and we are always supposed to feel that we are being taken advantage of just for doing them. I know one thing I learned this week, my "life" lesson so to say. When I become a bazillionaire, and have to open up some sort of customer service and / or tech support, the chances are pretty good that I will be looking to the people that treat my customers the best, and yes that means I may have to go overseas. Can you hear me now?