Friday, August 29, 2008

To Me...

Yesterday, I went to lunch at a local fast food restaurant. As I was walking in, a young gentleman was pushing a loaded trash can out the door. I stopped and held the door for him and then opened the outside door and held it. As he passed me, I noticed that he has Down's Syndrome. We made eye contact and he said, "Thank you for being nice to me."

Now, I would have held the door for anyone who was coming out of the restaurant. It wasn't something I did special for just him. That's just the kind of gal I am. And, him thanking me really came as no surprise. Actually, if he had just said, "thank you for being nice," I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but he added those two little words at the end that caused a catch in my throat -- "to me."

It made me stop and think how many people hadn't been nice to him, or judged his abilities simply upon first appearances. Heck, how many times have I done it to others? He was very articulate, polite, and obviously a hard worker. As I sat at the booth and ate my lunch, he stopped by and chatted for a second. It was nothing obtrusive -- asked if I needed any dipping sauces or ketchup or maybe a refill. He did the same thing at other tables, too.

As I was leaving, he came over to the door and held it for me. He said he wanted to return the nice. That made me smile. After Wednesday's horible experience with so-called customer service at Bank of America, I needed someone to return a little nice and renew my faith in the world even just a little bit. It also made me all the more aware of how my actions can affect others and it reminded me how something as simple as a friendly smile or someone holding a door for someone else can brighten someone's day or even her week.

Oh, and on another note: Something else made my day and week that much easier. My bank, Capital One, released a portion of the money into my account for use. Yep, it is a huge relief and help to me. It may be a general practice or it may have been just for me because I told them my situation, either way, it is good customer service. I just wanted to put that little shout out for Capital One because sometimes good service should be rewarded with a good word on the Internet.

Also, I've decided not to send the e-mail to Bank of America. As my sister, A, pointed out, it won't do any good. I wrote it and it was theraputic. I also told all 7 of my readers what a lousy bank they are and that probably did as much or more as an e-mail to an Administrative Assistant would have done. I may still call them, but I doubt it. Why waste my time and energy on a futile cause?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #13

I went to the eye doctor on Wednesday and found out I needed either bifocal glasses or contact lenses and reading glasses. Now, I wasn't totally surprised by it, but a little taken aback, because isn't it old people who need reading glasses and/or bifocals?

Thirteen Things I've Discovered Since I got Reading Glasses

1. My computer monitor is really, really dirty

2. I was squinting to read a whole lot and didn't even realize it until I'm not doing it

3. I'm actually really vain (not that there's anything wrong with that, right Moma? )

4. There are some really cute reading glasses in the world and some really, really ugly ones.

5. Words on pages don't have halos

6. When wearing reading glasses, it is hard to watch TV and be on the computer

7. I can make the size of the font on my computer screen smaller and still see it

8. The view screen on my digital camera is really, really dirty

9. When wearing reading glasses, don't pull them way down on your nose so you can look over them because you look like a dork

10. My cell phone screen is really, really dirty

11. It isn't impossible to put the screw back into the temple of my sunglasses to fix them I just couldn't see it well enough before to fix it

12. COBRA coverage is really expensive! (I know that doesn't have anything to do with the reading glasses, but I got the letter in the mail today and it was the first thing I read with my new reading glasses)

13. It is hard to come up with 13 things about Reading Glasses.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grand Theft Donna

I finally got my check for my 401(k). Whew!

So, today, after my eye appointment (where I found out I needed either bifocals or contacts and reading glasses...), I trotted on down to my bank with the check in my hot little hand. I discussed various account options with a "personal banker" and decided on the one I think is best for me. As I went to deposit the check, she mentioned that it would be a 7-(business) day hold on the check. Ugh. I kinda need the money sooner than that since rent is due in like five days. So, in order to maybe speed up the hold process, she suggested that I take the check to Bank of America (bank the check was drawn from) and ask them to verify it, then convert the check to a certified cashier's check. The cashier's check would cut the hold time down to three days (or less).

Off I go to BoA. Now, I used to bank with Bank of America. We had a difference of opinion on how much of my money I should actually get to keep in my account each month. They seemed to want a rather large portion of it for the honor of saying I was a BoA customer. I took my measly little sums to another bank. I'm sure they didn't miss me, and I certainly didn't miss them. I digress....

I walked into the branch and spoke with a gentleman who greeted me and explained what I needed to do. He told me that, "we don't do that, but I'll check." I'm thinking, how negative is that!? He escorts me up to the tellers and passes me off to a teller.

The guy briefly explains to teller #1 (I'm numbering them, can you already see that this is not going to be good?) that I need a cashier's check. Teller #1, stares at me blankly and I explained further what I needed and he continued to stare blankly at me while holding my check. He really didn't say much to me, but turned to Teller #2 and asks if they can do that. Teller #2 took my check from him and looked at it, then me and told me that they can't normally do that for non-customers and then wandered over to a computer with my check in hand and entered something and in "hushed" tones just loud enough for me to hear told Teller #1 that they won't do that.

At which time, they both come back to the counter and tell me that as a non-customer, it will be a $15 charge for the cashier's check. I said that was pretty steep, but to go ahead and do it. To which she replied that they don't normally do that for non-customers. (Huh? If you've got a fee schedule for non-customers surely it's a service that's offered! Maybe it's because non-customers don't normally request the service?)

Teller #3 finished what she was doing and wandered over and gets in on the action. The three of them now are back at the computer discussing the account that the check was drawn on and looking at the amounts of money each of the checks had been written for. Still, they were talking just loud enough for me to hear. Teller #3 says to #1 and #2, "we don't even know if it's a real check." I think my eyes bugged out a little at that point. What do you mean you don't know if it's a real check? You're accusing me of trying to pass off a forged or fake check?

From my spot at the counter, I asked if there was a problem. Teller #3 comes back over to me and says that they can't verify the account. (But, wait, weren't they just looking at the account and discussing how much previous checks were for?) I pointed this out. She said that since it is on a California bank, they can't even verify that it is a valid check. Her words were "real check." So, to my face, she just basically accused me of trying to pass a forged or fake check. (That's felony theft she's accusing me of because the amount was well over the $1500 that makes it a felony in Texas! Then, she asked me if it was from the sell of stocks. I verified that it was from my 401(k). The she said that they're not connected to Bank of America in California, so they can't/won't verify the check. Huh? What does that have to do with the sell of stocks?

I was livid. I told her to just give me my check back and I'll deposit it at my own bank. And proceeded to say (just loud enough for everyone to hear) that this is why I'm a "former customer" of Bank of America.

There are so many ways she could have said that they couldn't do the cashier's check. The first teller (or the second or third) could have just told me that they can't do it and not wasted my time or theirs. They could have nicely said that they can't verify the funds and not that they can't verify the account number.... excuse me, you're looking at the account and discussing the checks written on it.

The whole experience was so negative. From the "can't do, but let me check" to the can't do that for non-customers, their customer service is sorely lacking in something.... oh, yeah, service!

On my way home, I had to drive past the branch, so I stopped back in. I was angry and wanted to write a letter, but I needed names. I decided as I walked in that I would just speak to the Branch Manager first. Turns out, Teller #3, the one who accused me of the fake check, is the branch's manager. Yep... how's that for customer service? So, when she said that, I didn't even try to hide the look of shock and disgust from my face and simply said that in that case, I was going to need her boss's name and how to contact him. She looked a little taken aback, but just printed it out for me (his admin's e-mail actually, but I wouldn't have given out my Boss's, either.)

So, e-mail written. It isn't sent yet, because I was still angry when I wrote it. I'll go back and proofread to make sure it sounds professional (something they could learn from) and then send it to them tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

London or Bust

Maybe it's just me, but as overwhelming as the opening ceremonies were, the closing ceremonies were that much underwhelming. Even the fireworks were less, in my opinion, than the Sydney games. The performers the closing ceremonies looked like they were just kind of going through the motions. (And actually, so did the performers in the opening ceremony.) Well, except Jackie Chan... but he always has a goofy, fun-loving grin on his face.

I watched a great deal of the Olympics (darn live streaming video on the Internet and gobs of cable channels). I watched more than I probably should have given I'm supposed to be dedicating my time to school... ah, well, the Olympics only happen every 4 years. (Okay, okay, every two years since they split them up after the 1992 games.) There was one thing I noticed through it all was a distinct lack of joy on the faces of the Chinese people I saw in the crowds. None of them looked like they were actually having fun.

Oh, there were exceptions to this of course, but for the most part, the smiles looked forced. Now, maybe it is a cultural thing and we Americans are a bit too exuberant at winning, but it wasn't just our athletes who looked really excited, and genuinely so, at winning medals. Still, the only real emotion I remember seeing was when the Chinese women's doubles team won gold in badminton. (I told you I watched too much of the Olympics.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #12

Thirteen (Random) Things

1. At lunch I used my Chik-fil-A coupon for 8 nuggets free with the purchase of a large Coke... I tried their new Chik-fil-A sauce (at the insistence of the *REALLY* chipper employee at the window).... it is totally yummy.

2. I have watched an insane amount of the Olympics since I discovered that MSNBC, Oxygen, and several other NBC stations also carry the games. Dressage is amazing to watch and Michael Phelps -- can anyone say wowza!

3. Rainy days really do make me want to curl up in bed and stare out the window at the rain. It seems Rainy Days and Mondays really do get me down.

4. I want people to go HERE and leave comments supporting Zee. (Come on lurkers -- de-lurk and let her know she's doing a great thing!!)

5. No matter how "fair" they try to make the rules, events like diving and gymnastics in the Olympics that have to be "judged" will always have controversy. I say they should have given both girls gold medals for the uneven bars.

6. This year has FLOWN by, it seems.

7. These two kids are adorable... I think.

8. I like blog comments and even though it shouldn't be an ego thing, it is.

9. This picture makes me giggle every time I see it and just screamed for an LOLcat-type caption. I can't wait until Thanksgiving when I get to meet the little guy!

10. I love vanilla ice cream best of all.

11. I have a tattoo of the Texas flag in a heart on my left ankle. I want another one.

12. I have known my best friend since third grade.

13. Sometimes I think I like my cats better than I like most people in the world.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Cue the Panic...

When you wake up in the middle of the night thinking, "oh crap what have I done..." you can pretty much assure your day is not going to be the best one you've ever had.

So far, things have gone pretty much as I expected with school. I'm progressing, but it is slow going. Lots of time on the machine is the fix for the problems I'm having, though. Hmmm... I think that is why I quit my job.

I have called all of the firms in the areas I want to move and now they are all telling me that business is slow and they aren't hiring. I realize that January is quite a while away, but having something like an available job is good motivation! Okay, so Texas may not be where I practice. I am going to qualify and sit for the (then pass the) Texas CSR exam in January, regardless of whether I practice here right away or not.

So, now it looks like New Mexico might be my best bet. I've spoken with their CCR Board a several times and read and re-read their website and rules and I was/am a bit confused by it. The person I spoke to at the Board assures me that the pesky "and" in their rules will be changed or deleted at the October meeting (then it has to be aggreed upon and approved by the State Supreme Court) and I shouldn't have any problems considering I'm sitting for the RPR in November. They also have a Provisional License where I can practice for up to two years under a Licensed Reporter while I'm continuing to practice and sit for the RPR.

Also, as I've looked at various job boards, it looks like I can move to Kentucky if I want or Montana. Both have lots of job openings, but since the goal is to move closer to the Panhandle not further away.... well, I think I'll pass on those. (Caveat as always: Prince Charming comes along and sweeps me off my feet.. :) )

So, between the disappointing job outlook in the area I'd prefer to move, this not getting a paycheck thing (still waiting on the 401(k) payout) has me a bit stressed. I know it is coming, so I'm not just totally wigged out, but paying for things knowing that on Friday the money I'm spending isn't going to be replaced is scary. Watching my bank account dwindle while waiting is hard. This month's bills are about due andmy $233 electric bill was a bit of a shock. (I live in a 20+ year old apartment complex, on the second floor, with a vaulted ceiling, and while I had them do maitenance on my AC before it got hot, 26 of the 31 days in this billing cycle were 100+ degrees... ugh.)

I'm trying to remind myself that it is all a means to an end and I am doing what is necessary and it will all work out. I have a plan. It is a good plan. I am acting on that plan to reach my goals. I can do this.

But mostly, I'm just telling myself I have to breathe.... and practice.

RPR = Registered Professional Reporter. Certification given by the National Court Reporters Association
CSR = Certified Shorthand Reporter. Texas' state certification
CCR = Certified Court Reporter. New Mexico's certification

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A post about "BEWBS"

They are in front of women all the time and always often front in the minds men. They are at the same time symbols of femininity and motherhood. Some are large and others not so much. They are perky and in your face and others are droopy and at your waist. But they are always there, out in front for the world to see.

There have been many, many blog posts about "The Girls" and "BEWBS" and "the rack" and so on and so forth. Heck, Lotus over at Sarcastic Mom has had contests to choose the best rack and sent her rack to BlogHer with a friend. A Google search for "blogs about bewbs" returned 6,720,000 hits. Obviously, we're breast obsessed. Quite a few of them were silly, light-hearted posts in blogs, but one of the top five was this blog called Boobs on Ice. Her tag line, I wasn't supposed to be a candidate for breast cancer. And then I was diagnosed., really caught my attention. How many who are diagnosed say the exact same thing?

The past few months, "bewbs" have been up front in my mind also. You see, in the past three months, I personally know two people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and just this morning received a prayer request from my cousin about a lady she works with who has been diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer. I don't know of anyone who hasn't been touched in some way by this awful disease.

So, what can we do about it, you ask? Well, there is an event called the Breast Cancer 3-Day. The 3-Day is a 60 mile walk over three days and while it is not part of the Koman Foundation, 85% of the proceeds go to Koman and the remaining 15% go to the National Philanthropic Trust for Breast Cancer.

Each participant is asked to raise money in order to walk. It's an event that has always intrigued me and something I've always wanted to be involved with in some way. When one of my Blogger Friends, Zee, decided to walk, I decided that I would donate to her 3-Day. I don't have the time energy to train for the event. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm just flat too lazy to train for it. But Zee is walking and is blogging about it at her One Step at a Time blog. Her event will take place on September 12-14. That's soon, folks! But the kicker is, she's only 83% of the way to her goal of $2200. So, she's raised over $1800, but still needs that other 17%. That's roughly $375.

So, bloggers, let's help Zee reach that goal. Just click here to go directly to her donation page. If you can't donate (or even if you do) leave her words of encouragement in my comments and I'll make sure she gets them. We can do this together... let's do it for the boobs!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #11

I've got nothing. I mean it. I had no idea what to thirteen about his week, so you're getting the cats. The striped one is Maxie and the Black one is Buddy. Enjoy!

Thirteen Pictures of My Cats

1. Maxie riding in the car...

2. Buddy glowing...

3. Buddy in the grass...

4. Together...

5. Checking out the new Kitty Pi...

6. Maxie in his kitty Pi...

7. Buddy in his...
(you can order your own hand made wool Pi HERE)

8. Buddy in the blinds...

9. Sleeping like Super Kitty...

10. Snuggled together at home...

11. Maxie close up...

12. Buddy not quite as close up...

13. Playing with the catnip...

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are there such things as Summer Doldrums?

I am tired of hot, dry weather. I am tired of 100+ degrees days. I want rain. I want cooler weather. I want to be able to sit on my front porch for more than three minutes without sweat dripping off my brow. I'm so over summer.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Torch Lightings through the years...

Okay, so the greatest of all time Olympic torch lighting wasn't 4 years ago, it was 16... Here are the last few torch lighting ceremonies embedded from YouTube. If you've got time to kill, give them a watch.

Los Angeles 1984 -- Ronald Regan opened the games and another pretty good cauldron lighting with the ignition of the Olympic Rings first.(And the fact that he made it to the top of those stairs without passing out!)

Seoul 1988

Barcellona 1992 -- Best ever in my opinion

Atlanta 1996 -- I remember the build-up and the secrecy as to who got to light the cauldron

Sydney 2000

Athens 2004

It's that time again...

I love the Olympics. The Opening and Closing ceremonies (especially the closing) have the power to reduce me to tears. Last night's opening ceremony was spectacular. I can't believe that there were something like 15,000 people who were involved in making the Opening Ceremony spectacular. I also loved the lead-up to the torch lighting, but the lighting itself was just so-so. (Then again nothing is going to really be able to beat the archer from Athens in 2004.) Boy, I don't envy Great Brittain in 2012 having to follow China.

My favorite part of any Opening Ceremony, however is the Parade of Nations. This year's non-alphabetical entry was fun because some small countries who preceed (or follow) large countries in alphabetical order didn't get cut out by a commercial break. To me it's just fun to see people and countries who know they have no chance to win a medal, but are just thrilled to be there. The pride on their faces as they follow their country's flag and wave and smile to the crowds is fun to me.

Another favorite part is getting to hear national anthems from various countries. Of course, my favorite is when I get to hear the U.S National Anthem, but getting to hear other countries' anthems is neat, too. And the hard-luck stories of how some of the athletes got there... and seeing the people who come in dead last but wave and smile when they cross the finish line because they are competing at the Olympics. To me, it's all just a special time when we get to see the very best of people and the world if only for a few weeks.

So, for the next two weeks, you will pretty much be able to find me watching some sporting event or another of an evening. I'll be cheering and rooting for the U.S., of course, but also cheering for the underdog who is just thrilled to be competing on the world stage at the Olympics.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #10

Thirteen Things I've been doing instead of blogging...

Okay, I realize I've been a bad blogger for the past week or so. Life has been hectic and then there is the whole *change* thing in my life... even good change throws me for a loop. So, here is a list of the top 13 things I've done instead of blogging and none of them good excuses (except school).

1. "Going" to school -- this online school gig is great. There's no driving, there's no traffic, it can be done any time day or night and in your pajamas. It's also a lot of hard work and discipline, I'm learning.

2. Watching television -- for the average person, that may not sound like such a big deal, but with going to school and working 2 jobs for the past (I'm not admitting how many) years, I haven't seen much television and there are some interesting programs on cable these days.... Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch, Mythbusters, just anything on Discovery Health.

3. Actually cooking dinner instead of heating something up.

4. Reading -- I've been catching up on reading my JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) magazine that I've gotten for the past year and have only skimmed a few of them.

5. Attempting to fix what a virus on my computer wiped out -- people who create malware and viruses should be taken out somewhere and drawn and quartered for all the frustration and chaos they create.

6. Cleaning my house -- Okay, so this was only one day last Thursday when I thought my Dad was coming to spend the night, but I did clean.

7. Playing with my cats.

8. Being (enter negative emotion here) and then very, very excited about my BFF and her hubby's adoption of a gorgeous baby boy. It is hard to watch the world getting what you so want and also knowing that the friendship will change again (I am still getting used to the married bit!) I don't, however, worry about the friendship slipping away.

9. Talking on the phone.

10. Going to dinner with friends and then to a movie because I wasn't ready to go home.

11. Disassembling my VCR because it died when I put in a workout tape and I wanted the tape back.

12. Repotting some plants that needed it desparately.

13. Nothing -- and I do mean just doing nothing. Sitting on the couch staring blankly at the TV with my brain shut down except for the vital breathe, blink things.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!