Out To Lunch.

One of the perks of my new job is the fact that I get a lunch hour. I know that statement makes me sound like I just stepped through the looking glass or something, so I better explain myself a little bit better.

At my previous job, I almost always ate lunch at the office with the rest of the crew. There wasn’t really a defined lunch hour. Phones continued to ring and things continued to need tending to, so we sort of ordered in and gathered around the kitchen table and ate lunch while we answered the phone (with our mouths full) or talked about work related issues. While we did take a moment to eat, we didn’t really stop, so there was no break in the work day.

At my new job, I have a lunch hour. Once I’m in the job full swing, the timing will jump around a little bit depending on what shift I’m on (work shifts are staggered by an hour, depending if you’re on call that week or not, and lunch time follows suit). But I’ve taken the opportunity to leave the office for the full lunch hour every day since I’ve started. I love it! Even if I bring my lunch to work, I still go for a ride in the car and see what the world is up to, listening to Sirius Out Q or the disco channel on the satellite radio. A little Gloria Gaynor and I’m good to go.

It’s amazing what an hour of “me time” can do in the middle of the day. It’s like a rejuvenating kick in the pants. An hour of sunshine does wonders for the soul. Big gulps of fresh air. A break from the computer hypnosis. I think I’ll even enjoy my lunch hour outside year round… it keeps me grounded.

So if you’re sitting inside on your lunch hour, grab your lunch pail and head outside, and enjoy it.

Service With A Smile.

Earl and I took the opportunity this weekend to go on a little bit of a shopping spree. It wasn’t anything exceedingly wild (at least for us), but we did make a couple of purchases our home, including a new DirecTV system.

We had DirecTV in our old house because there was nothing else available. Cable hadn’t been strung to our rural location, in fact, we were just four poles away from the end of the line and the cable company wasn’t about to extend it any further. So we went with the DirecTV route. Earl, being the rabid football fan that he was, loved the NFL Sunday ticket that gave him every game possible from every angle.

He asked me a couple of weeks ago to go ahead and get the cable company’s version of the Sunday ticket for this NFL season.

“There’s isn’t one.”

“What do you mean there isn’t one”, he asked as he began to pale slightly.

“The cable company doesn’t offer an NFL Sunday Ticket. They show the Bills and the Giants and that’s it.”

“Bastards.”

Actually, I don’t know if he said “bastards” or not, but you get the idea. So I offered the thought of getting DirecTV here at the new house. They’ve made a number of strides since we were last served by then, including Hi-Definition television. The only problem is that in 1999 the Federal Government (the wise sages that they are), decided that the satellite companies can’t provide the network channels if you can get them off an antenna. You had to apply for a waiver. Since we already had satellite service when this law was put into play, we were grandfathered, and enjoyed the networks from both the east and west coasts. Since we’re a new install now, the chances of getting the network crap is a little dicey.

This weekend we decided to go for it and play in the red tape. So we went ahead and ordered DirecTV. The kind gentleman on the phone told us that to get TiVo again, we’d need to go to Best Buy or Circuit City and purchase the newest unit so that we could record in Hi-Def.

Off to Best Buy. An attractive, if yet clueless, sales associate greeted us and looked at us like we had asked her to take a dump on the floor when we asked her about this latest incarnation of TiVo.

“It’s not available to the general public yet.”

“But the guy at DirecTV told us to come get it, you’d have it.”

“Nope. Not available. And it’s not going to be for at least six weeks.” Apparently, she doesn’t need a computer or anything, because she rattled off this little nugget of information right off the top of her pointed little head.

Well Earl went a little crazy. You see, we tried to buy satellite radio at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago, and after selling us on a particular unit they informed us that they were sold out and would not have it in stock again for at least six weeks. I don’t know why six weeks is a magic number. It just is. Before the satellite radio incident, I tried to buy some Linux gear, in which the sales associate told me that they didn’t carry anything like that, while he was standing next to the latest distribution of SuSE Linux.

So like last week, we jumped in the car and drove across the street to Circuit City. They didn’t carry the particular TiVo we wanted, however, they did have them in the warehouse and would have it delivered to our home this week.

THANK YOU.

I also took the opportunity to apply for a Circuit City credit card, which they promptly approved with TWICE the credit limit of Best Buy and offered me 18 months of no interest.

Today I went back to Circuit City to get a couple of upgrades for my computer and I was greeted with a smile and a knowledgeable salesperson. In addition, I wasn’t distracted by Best Buy’s flashing lights, out of control music, lack of intelligent salespeople and refrigerators that have a built in television.

I don’t expect a lot when it comes to customer service. A pleasant greeting. Some knowledge about what you’re dealing with, or the resources to answer a question if you can’t do it on your own, a pleasant pass through the checkouts and a hearty thank you after giving you our hard earned money. By the way, I always say “Thank you” when handed my package that the cashier just bagged up. It’s my way of being pleasant. It irks me beyond belief when they say “You’re welcome”. No, asshat, you should say “Thank you” as well as I, at the very least, just contributed to your paycheck.

Customer service has gone by the way of the full service gas station. No one cares anymore. Everyone is so surly and uninterested. When I go to McDonald’s I’m happy when the cashier gives me my food without blowing her nose in my hamburger wrapper or snapping her gum in my ear. I’m grateful when the witch behind the counter at the department store doesn’t shred my credit card. I consider myself lucky when the grocery store clerk doesn’t mash my bread. Remember when the bag boy used to take your groceries out to the car for you? Well, he didn’t do it for me, but he did for my mother and grandmother, and then he got a little tip! I could use the pick me up of seeing the bag boy’s cute ass near my trunk. Why don’t they do that anymore? No. Instead we have to scan the groceries ourselves and listen to a computer speak in elementary terms on how to pass the barcode by the laser.

And why don’t people smile? Say hello. Be friendly. Don’t warble “can I help ya?” in an annoyed voice. Say “What Can We Do For You?” Be interested! Care! Is it too much to ask?

I Hear Music.

As I’ve been enjoying our Sirius satellite radio this week, I can’t help reflect upon the fact that Top 40 “Pop” music has really gone down the crapper. Top 40 music seems so repetitive, angry and just plain bad these days. I’ve only heard three songs in the past two years that I’ve truly enjoyed:

1. “The Game of Love” by Santana featuring Michelle Branch. An infectious tune, I still crank it up whenever I hear it. The mixshow DJ in me would try to mix it into the old “That’s What Love Can Do” by Boy Krazy, as it has somewhat of the same beat. You can’t help but sing along to this one.

2. “Invisible” by Clay Aiken. Clay will always be the true American Idol from the second season in my eyes and this song just proves it. While Ruben apologized for his travesty of “Sorry 2004”, Clay’s “Invisible” is a true pop gem. I especially enjoy the bridge of the song… it has a nice classic pop feel to it and for some reason reminds me of David Cassidy and Shirley Jones singing a Partridge Family tune. Classic Stuff.

3. “The Eighth World Wonder” by Kimberley Locke. Again, another melodically pleasing song with pleasant harmonies and a classic pop sound. I can’t help but sing to this song when I hear it.

Aside from those three songs, whenever I turn to a “hit music channel”, satellite or not, it’s playing crap. From the thump, thump, thump of an electronic drum track to the beep, beep, beep of unnecessarily rude lyrics, I can’t help but wonder what happened to pop music in the past 10 years. When did Top 40 music get so angry? And doesn’t anyone have an original idea anymore? Will Smith’s dumb rapping over Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” is nothing but blasphemy and I think Destiny’s Child should be prohibited from ever showing their face again after chanting some crap over “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. Don’t even get me started on Crystal Waters’ “Come On Down”, a remix of the theme from “The Price Is Right”! To think I enjoyed “Gypsy Woman” back in the day.

Now, I’m not so old as to not know that the last three songs I mentioned are ancient by Top 40 standard. I just buzz by the crap so fast that I don’t know what’s hip. Or bad. Or Phat. Or whatever it is. Thank God I’m not in radio anymore. I’d sound like Dick Clark on New Years’ Eve.

Getting Sirius About Radio.

One of the many benefits of my recent career change include the release of guilt. I’ve always been very interested in satellite radio. I had heard wonderful things about it – you can listen to the same radio station all the way across the country. There are no commercials. There are specialized radio stations. You have over 160 radio stations to choose from. The list goes on and on.

When I worked in the radio industry, I thought it would be insanely hypocritical of me to go buy a satellite radio system. After all, satellite radio, along with CDs, MP3 players and in-car entertainment systems (DVD, etc) are slowly eroding the grip traditional radio has on a driver. My salary was derived from ad revenue. To own a satellite radio would make me feel very guilty.

I officially left radio on Friday at 5 p.m. I had a satellite receiver installed in my car at noon on Sunday. It would have been sooner, but we had a wedding to go to on Saturday.

My last day of work was shared with a co-worker, who is becoming a broadcasting industry instructor at one of the local BOCES (vocational schools). He had his satellite radio installed Thursday night. I guess he could deal with one day of guilt.

I’d been planning this since tendering my resignation, so I had three weeks to do lots of research. After some silent debate, I decided to get a Sirius radio made by Audiovox.

OH MY GOD.

To say that I love this radio system would be a drastic understatement. Driving in traffic is now the equivalent of an audio orgasm, if you will. I can listen to nothing but disco from Buffalo to Baltimore if I want to. I can keep up on financial news from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. I can listen to all 80s music from Walla Walla to Watertown.

And I never have to listen to another damn commercial again. Now that’s what I call getting Sirius about radio.

The First Day of School.

Well, it wasn’t really like the first day of school, but today I did something that I haven’t done in a long, long time. I started a new job. It was absolutely wonderful. The group of people I work with are very nice, the job is going to be a challenge to learn, but once I get the hang of it I’ll enjoy it very much. I’m looking forward to the experience.

I learned a lesson today – just how public my life is through this web site. I was greeted by Shirley, one of my new co-workers, who put a bag of microwave popcorn on my desk because I mention on my road site how much I love popcorn. They all asked about Earl and then told me they’d like to try some of his fabulous cooking. It was a major ice breaker. Do I have regrets about this website? Not really, because it’s all pretty much harmless. I learned a long, long time ago that you don’t write something electronically that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times. At one time I wanted to be on a reality show… I guess this is sort of the same thing on a smaller scale.

I haven’t been writing in my blog as much simply because my mind has been preoccupied with changing careers and training people and thinking about my new job and all that. Today I started a new chapter in my life. It’s wonderful that I have an outlet that I can actually write this chapter down.



Here’s proof that things can live forever electronically:

From: wingj@social.dec.com (wingj@social.dec.com)

Subject: Re: BRADY BUNCH THEME SONG LYRICS

This is the only article in this thread

View: Original Format

Newsgroups: rec.arts.tv

Date: 1989-12-17 10:06:43 PST

Yes, but the real Brady fan will be able to sing the lyrics from

“The Brady Kids”

Lines like “…and there’s Jan the middle one who’s really groovy”

“…you’ll meet Mop-Top and Ping and Pong the Pandas…”

================================================================================

John Wing | | wingj@social.dec.com

Digital Equip. Corp. | 🙂 | …!decwrl!social.dec.com!wingj

Concord, Mass. | | wingj%social.dec@decwrl.dec.com

——————————————————————————–

“Stay away fools, ’cause loves rules at the Love Shack!”

– The B-52’s

================================================================================

Some of my babble from 1989, just a Google search away!

1 Comment

I See The Light!

Trudging through this last week of my current job has been somewhat of a chore, even though it’s only Tuesday. You see, I can see “the light at the end of the tunnel”, as my current employment comes to a close on Friday and I start my new adventure on Monday. I’m really anxious to get going on the new job, and as I start to wipe my hands clean of my current responsibilities, the days start to drag out just a little bit. I suppose I should revel in the accomplishments of the last 10 years in this gig, and while it gives me a smile, I must admit that I am ready to move on.

Ironically, work has been going wonderfully (if not a little slow) since I’ve given my notice. Training others of my duties is going well, for the most part. There are some things that you just can’t teach, as I tend to rely heavily on a sort of an electronic intuition and I believe you’ve either “got it” or you don’t. I don’t mean to sound snobby and all tooting my own horn about having the stuff to make computers and networks and such tick, but it’s like someone trying to teach me to be an artist – try as I might to paint something beautiful and original, the best I can do is trace a snowman off of a Christmas card.

I’ve been taking my lunch to work everyday since turning in my resignation, mostly to keep on the healthy side of things (the scale is confirming my decisions), but I’m really dying for some Chinese food. I know there’s about three days worth of calories in that little styrofoam container of goodness and rice, but it’s just so damn good. I think I might take the leap and have some for lunch tomorrow.

I had my annual physical on Friday (four years late, I may add) and was astounded to find that my blood pressure was 110/74. At my last physical it was 172/102. Dr. Lance (he likes to be called that) gave me a big thumbs up on that. Everything seems to be holding together pretty well. I attribute the better blood pressure to the impending career move and Earl not traveling as much… things just feel so ‘right’ right now. I guess the universe is confirming this with really strong feelings of deja vu appearing all over the place.

Life is good. I’m going to enjoy it.

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

I was cleaning up the basement this evening (after a lovely ride on my stationary bike), I came across some workout clothes, circa 1992, stored in a box. Surprisingly, these clothes have moved with me five times, but have not seen the light of day in quite a while.

First of all, I have to ask myself what the hell was I thinking. Did I think I could really go out and work up a good sweat in these things? I remember ordering the top from International Male. It was the red, white and blue top, cut much like a pirate’s shirt, complete with the laces in the front. The whole thing was extra short so my belly button peeked out. In 1992, more belly than button popped out under the thing so I didn’t really wear it much. It was suppose to make me feel energized about working out but instead it just made me feel ugly. And look like a third rate Captain America (or even a male wannabe Wonder Woman!). Where were the washboard abs that Brian Buzzini (it’s frightening that I remember the model’s name) showed under his Wonder Woman shirt? I liked to think that I was just built differently – you know the whole “fat and happy” motif where I must be absolutely hysterical. For some reason I packed it back away. Maybe cheesy chic will be in style again next decade.

By the way, if I’m going to be a superhero, I’m going to be something like Captain Marvel (Shazam) in a very snappy cape. Call me crazy – but spandex is hotter than a cotton pirate’s shirt anyday.

Anyways, then I came across the matching all-red cotton shorts. I tried them on, and they actually were kind of loose on me (yay!), but the cut was kind of weird. I don’t know why I picked red when I ordered these things, must be Brian was modeling red too. Besides, I feel much more comfortable in my black cycling shorts so I’ll stick to those.

It’s amazing how much things change in a decade. I had a flattop for a haircut. My computer was a blazing 386 and I was using the DOS version of AOL. I loved watching “Home Improvement” on Tuesday nights. My favorites song was “Happy” by Legacy of Sound. I remember spinning it over and over while I was DJ-ing. “Happy is happy is hap hap happy is what we are Happy iiiiiiiiss what we are when we’re together”. Now I find the song kind of silly. Though maybe in the right mood I’d go all breathless dance fever crazy over it again. I don’t think you’ll find me in the Brian Buzzini workout top any time soon though.

The Sweet Insanity of Life.

As I get closer to the first day of the new job, I can’t help but be filled with a constant feeling of anticipation. It’s sort of like waiting for the french fries to be covered in glorious ketchup, and since the high-class restaurant you’re sitting at only uses the best condiments, anticipation is making me wait.

Par for the course, I haven’t been this happy at my current job in years. I guess relieved of the on-going typical pressures and constant feeling of a treadmill, I can sit back and enjoy my final two weeks with the company I’ve worked with for the past ten years. Training is going along beautifully. I believe the transition will be smooth.

Earl and I kicked back this past weekend and did absolutely nothing. Well, almost. On Friday I was feeling a bit under the weather throughout the day, something wonky with my sinuses. So I took a few Tylenol daytime sinus symptom masking pills and went on with my business… conscious of the nagging sinus headache but dealing with it. I figured I would sleep it off Friday night. After work we joined my mom and sister, along with my aunt and uncle at Olive Garden (hey we always feel like family at Olive Garden), where we enjoyed wonderful conversation, acceptable food and friendly service. Of course, I couldn’t resist a glass of the Pino Bianco wine, which mixed wonderfully with the Tylenol Sinus Pills. Oops. On the ride home from the restaurant (Earl was driving), I got all emotional because Earl was such a wonderful driver and I didn’t appreciate it, the stars were speaking directly to me as they batted their eyelashes lovingly and how could anyone love a man that was abducted by aliens as a child. Earl has since begged me to never take any sort of sinus or allergy medicine because I get so spaced out and so odd that frankly it frightens him. As I look back on my childhood, these types of medication have always had this affect on me and at 36 years old you’d think I’d know better. To make it worse, I couldn’t sleep at all Friday night because I had Sylvia’s “Nobody” stuck in my head and couldn’t get it to stop, plus I was convinced that Agnes Moorhead would scold me in my dreams for drinking wine with allergy pills, I should have been drinking gin.

So for the remainder of the weekend, we did nothing but hang out at the house and watch a couple of Wonder Woman episodes from the new DVD set I got for my birthday. And I took about six naps throughout the day on Saturday.

Feeling better on Sunday, I did get a chance to get out on my bike, as there was a suggestion of sunshine and I was going to take advantage of it. I didn’t want to risk riding in traffic, as dizzy as I was from the sinus thing that was finally subsiding, so I stuck to the newly paved canal trails which was positively serene.

Today has been absolutely wonderful. The sinus wonkiness is gone, summer actually showed up for August, the pool gave up being green and things are going well. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Technically I’m a Tech-y!

It’s official. Today I received the letter in the mail. Beginning August 16, I have a new job. I am now a Network Operations Technician for Northland Communications. I am absolutely thrilled!

I’ve been a customer of many forms of Northland Communications over the years. Earl and I were users of their ISP, Dreamscape. At the old house, we had Oneida County Telephone for our phone service. At one time at work, we had Northland for our phone provider, and still use Dreamscape for our internet connectivity. I’ve worked closely with these folks. And now I’m going to be working with these folks.

I’ve been doing radio for the past 12 years. I’ve spent the last 10 years with the same company, save for the short stint in the restaurant biz in ’99. In many ways, my co-workers and the owners of the station have been like family. This was a very tough step to take and it was a difficult decision to make. I’ve been on the air, I’ve written and produced commercials, I’ve sat on billboards for charity, I’ve worked behind the scenes and I’ve fought with stubborn transmitters at three in the morning. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. But radio has changed in many ways over the past 10 years and quite frankly, I no longer have an interest in the industry. I want to listen to the radio to enjoy it, I don’t want to examine it for competitive purposes. And in my current position, I am a manager. I don’t want to supervise people anymore. My interests do not lie in management – I want to work with a team of like minded individuals in technology. I am looking forward to working with telephony customers. I am being one of the guys “behind the dial tone”. I can’t wait to take apart beepers and put them back together again. I can’t wait to add call waiting or call forwarding to a customer’s phone line. I’ll be working in an area of the company affectionately known as the heartbeat. Honestly, my heart races just thinking about it.

The next three weeks will be hectic as I train, train and cross-train others to do my current job. And then I’ll be in 100% learning mode.

The employment path ahead of me is the clearest it has been in over a decade. And I have to admit, I feel absolutely wonderful!

Paths.

This morning I took the first step (well, a giant leap I suppose) on a new path. I made resolutions to myself during our vacation in June that I needed to change some aspects of my life. While I am a mostly happy-go-lucky guy, there were parts of my life that I was not enjoying, and I needed to change that. This morning, I solidified that change.

I’m deliberately being vague because people who need to know don’t, and I don’t know who’s reading my blog at any given moment. But Earl tells me that he couldn’t be prouder of me. I feel a sense of anticipation, awe and excitement as I begin this new chapter. I look back with a sort of wry smile, knowing that I enjoyed myself immensely, but it’s time to move on to this new challenge.