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Absolutely the Worst Invention in the Last 200 Years

E

veryone knows what I am talking about. Unless you live in cave or in a sphere under water, you’ve encountered this.

What is “this”? The automated answering system. Actually, that is the runner-up, the first one is the automated answer system that talks and tries to interact with you like it is a real person. Wait, wait, wait… that is number two. Number One is when it *thinks* it can understand you and ‘talk’ to you.  Oh, you’ve run into this one too.

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I’ve been fighting with the unemployment office for payments since I left my last job. That was the week before Thanksgiving week in 2014. Its a whole FUBAR system, since I work in both Kansas and Missouri, but live in Missouri. Gah! But their system *thinks* it can talk to me. And often, there is no option to skip ahead through the “helpful” tips and information as you wait.

I’ve done work on these systems, as a tester. The system I worked on was referred to as “IVR” (interactive voice response). I found out that each system has some built-in back doors so that they person building these systems (as well as the tester) doesn’t have to listen to the system drone on and on and on. There are ways around the keyed systems as well.

But when I tried to use the shortcut today, it just ignored me about ten times before it simply ended the call. Talk about frustration!

SYSTEM: Before I connect you to a customer service representative, I need some information from you. For example, if you want to place an order, say: PLACE AN ORDER. Or if you want to return an item, say: “RETURN AN ITEM. Blah. Blah. Blah Blah. Blah.
ME: Customer Service

SYSTEM: I’m sorry. Before I can connect your to a customer service representative, I need to understand why you calling.”
(The “SYSTEM” needs to understand?)
ME: Customer Service
SYSTEM: I’m sorry…
ME: Customer Service (getting a little angry).
SYSTEM: “I’m sorry, but I am having a little difficulty understanding what you are saying.”
ME: Customer Service! (a little more terse, but very carefully enunciated).
SYSTEM: “I am very sorry, but please tell me the reason for your call today….”
ME: CUSTOMER SERVICE!! (This was done with the phone at arm’s length.)
SYSTEM: “Perhaps you should try back at a later time. Thank you for calling.”

  =CALL IS DISCONNECTED=
ME: @#$%^&*()_(*&^%$#

Its a good thing (sometimes) that we all still don’t have those giant 8 pounds bakelite telephones. thI’d be hammering the base with the handset. At least it was cathartic, right? There is just so little satisfaction to touching the disconnect button on your smartphone!

I used to work for a well known company that had a voice system that used to ‘congratulate’ you when you’ve been able to talk to the system enough for it to connect you. Worked for another place that they “system” used to talk in slang… like “Uh, let me see if I can find that for you.” I especially love (not!) the systems that think they should be able to have a conversation, regardless how inane your call might be.

SYSTEM: “Thank you for calling the XYZ Company. Please tell me the reason for your call today.”
ME: “I want to talk to someone about getting a refund for payment of an item that was never delivered.”
SYSTEM: “I think I heard you say that you want to schedule a delivery? Is that correct?”

And God help you if you’ve ever gotten stuck in a loop because of some defect in the system. I recall years ago trying to get my transcripts from a large university and whenever you pressed the key to be transferred to someone where you could talk to someone and/or leave a message, it would send you back to the top of the tree. Nothing, no matter what path you followed, you ended back at the top level. I know it was like that for at least two days as I kept calling trying to get my transcripts – but that crazy thing is that any number associated with the university had the same error. You simply could not call anyone there… even the IT team!

So, I wrote much of this post on hold with Kansas Department of Labor being bombarded with their “advertisements”, always giving the option of going online for answers. Would have gladly gone there except that that is where I started and the message that was waiting for me was “please telephone the Unemployment Contact Center for assistance.”

Oh. My. God!

Okay, I’d love to know whatever secret words or numbers there are to bypass the system. Like I said, when I tested this years ago, you could just say “customer service” whenever it prompted you to speak/explain your need. If you did that three times in a row, it would simply place you in a queue for the next customer service agent. I also heard – but cannot validate if this is true or not – that if you use profanity, you may be disconnected. Another one is that if you mention “attorney” or “lawyer”, your call will get pushed to the legal department. I am pretty sure that one is limited to this particular company or types of business, but its worth a try to get to a living, breathing person.

Another one that used to float around out there is #9. A long time ago, you could just hit the “0” and it would send you to a routing agent (also known as a receptionist or secretary or supervisor). This became a little too popular and it was discontinued. My experience is that it was replaced by hitting the “9” button or saying “customer service” over and over. But they must be on to that… hence why doing that today got me a wish to have a very nice day and disconnected.

Okay, rant over. As long as I don’t have to talk on the phone again tonight!

MacCupcake

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Urban Exploration: Destination Missouri

I’ve been kind of wrapped up this past weekend and didn’t get Thursday’s adventure written.

For those who are new, The Kid and I do what we call ‘abandoned house hunting’ in the rural back roads of Missouri, Iowa and Kansas. Mostly we just explore, although there are times when we run across a treasure that we cannot leave behind.

This time through, we walked through four or five old, falling down farm houses and barns. An old turquoise mason jar, a very old blowtorch (currently being restored by said Kid), an old Coca-Cola bottle and a bunch of feed corn on cobs.

Walk through our adventure with us… this was the first house:

DSCN3051This house must have been spectacular in its day. It is absolutely huge compared to most of the houses built in that period.

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IMG_9588The house had a covered porch on two levels…

IMG_9579The exterior doors were still in good shape. A little ‘plain jane’ considering the house behind it.

IMG_6704A little animal had crawled into the enclosed porch and died. Must have been a LONG time ago, considering it was down to the skeleton… while creepy, it was also kind of cool.

IMG_1979The OUATWAVNH again… someone had stripped a lot of the wood molding around the doors and windows…

IMG_1944IMG_1342This photo kind of shows you the elegant doors. They have the window that opens above the door, to allow for circulation. Wouldn’t mind having a couple of these doors either!

DSCN30611This is the ‘once upon a time was a very nice house’ house (OUATWAVNH)… I love this molding over the staircase.

DSCN3072Again, the OUATWAVNH, had a beautiful porch and an upstairs balcony. The wrought iron railings and trellis must have been a fortune all those years ago. And look across the roof line… these corbels go all the way around in pairs.

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DSCN3070And the roof line is straight as an arrow all these years later.

DSCN3069This was a barn behind the property. Not in as good shape as the house!

DSCN3068Had hoped they had some treasure stored under the workshop – a separate building off the back of the kitchen – but no such luck!

 

DSCN3067This was the workshop. On the wall you cannot see, were cans of paint and parts and tools. If that hanging cooler had been in one piece, that would have been a real score! I remember my family having one just like it.

DSCN3066Another shot of the corbels on the OUATWAVNH…

DSCN3065…and another….

DSCN3064…and one more. If I could have figured out how to get up to them, I would have taken them all. They have really stood up to the weather and time and image they would be awesome in some sort of project. Or even on my house.

DSCN3063A shot of the outside of the OUATWAVNH. You can see the two porches, The Kid was bowled over by this design element.

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DSCN3061A close up of the molding over the staircase… and all these years later, there are still as solid as the day they went up.

DSCN3056The house this one bathroom. If it is anything like the big houses I grew up in, they were built long before there was indoor plumbing, so what happened is space was carved out of bigger rooms… like a closet or part of a bedroom.

DSCN3053This room had one of those dropped ceilings with a kind of faux tin ceiling look. There was a time in history when it wasn’t cool to have such high ceilings. Glad that went back out of style!

DSCN3052The next photos are the other houses we explored. The pictures ended up out of order, since it was me using my DSLR, my iPhone and The Kid’s iPhone. I think we started out at the first house without a camera, so these photos are of the other two (or three?) houses we checked out.

 

 

IMG_3344Always tricking maneuvering in these old houses, the floors often are rotted through and one step and you’d be examining the basement!

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DSCN3058I love this photo… the center of this wall is where the fireplace and chimney stood in the kitchen, just through the door on the right. But look at the angle of both door frames… we’ve got some serious settling!

DSCN3057Banking paperwork was spread out all over the floor of this house The most recent date was 1983… so we figure the house has been vacant about 30 years or so. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Mother Nature reclaims the land. Something had gone through the roof above the main room and staircase just to the left of the interior of the house. That’s what gets her a foothold in reclaiming the house, as rain and snow can then get in. Goes pretty quickly after that.

Well, that was it for Thursday and about 6 hours of the day. Although the weather wasn’t the best – temps in the freezing range – it was a great day.

MacCupcake

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I Have An Ax To Grind

Okay, this has been a particularly aggravating issue for me. Yes, I am a plus-sized woman. I make no excuses or apologies… I am happy with myself just as I am. Yes, I did the diet roller-coaster for most of my adult life, with some success, but in the end, I always regained the weight. After chatting with my doctors, we decided its best to try to maintain my weight as the yoyo experience is probably worse for my heart and overall health.

Now that I have come to terms with my body and how I look, I have to wonder about some of the industries that cater or pander to ‘big girls’.

First is the bra. Okay, I get that lots of big girls have ample busts. You can count me in that group. In fact, I’ve always been a busty girl, from the outset. I have to confess that at the ripe old age of 16, I was already wearing a D cup. It was quite the issue when I did my basic training in boot camp too. Let’s just say that I had the attention of most of the men in my company.

So, I look for really good support for the twins, but OMG, why do bras have to swallow me whole? I mean, here is one for demonstration:

Why Do Big Girl Bras Encase Us?This bra looks like it could have steel reinforcement. I have worn bras like these and holy crap, it feel like the damned thing is right up there under my chin! I would much rather be wearing something that flirts a little, more like this kind of style…

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 9.15.51 PM…but I swear, these don’t come in a cup size larger than a C. And band size rarely larger than 34″.

Then I turned around and saw this ad:1135A

PUH-lease!! The model in this ad no more needs a ‘spankz’ than she needs a hole in her head. What she really needs is a sandwich, not a “diet”!

Have you ever tried to fit into one of these? Especially if you weight more than 100 pounds? Forget about it! But good heavens, the people who market these believe that if I saw this I would conclude that if I bought this undergarment I would look like her?!?

I can’t tell you how long it took for me to come to terms with my body – size, shape and weight. When I did the most successful diet, I lost weight down to 132 pounds. I’m 5′ 4″… and according the health/weight charts, I was still “overweight”. I hadn’t weighed that little since 7th grade and yet, they were still telling me that I needed to lose even more weight? I had gotten to that weight by eating 500 calories a day (or less) and walking between 5 and 8 miles most days (not to mention the Rx I was taking). The only way that I could lose any more weight was to start amputating limbs.

I would have bought into this BS if I were younger. Hell, I DID buy into all of this at the time… and it took some long hard learning and introspective to get to the point that I am today. I just wish that it didn’t take all the anguish and inner hate and self disgust that I had to go through.

And why do companies that are supposed to support women continuing to take advantage of us?

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Some People Have Real Chuztpah!

As most of you may know, I am an avid user of the Craigslist chapter of Kansas City. Today, someone posted a television being given away.

Needless to say, it was flagged off as inappropriate very quickly. LOL!

TV Giveaway by Naked GuyMacCupcake

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To Work or Not To Work… That’s My Question

Okay, so how do I say this without sounding like an asshole?

I’m in a lucky financial position to not have to work. But I worry that if I stop working now, that I won’t have enough money if for some reason I manage to live past about another 20 years. It could happen, my parents both lived well into their eighties and my Dad’s parents both lived into their nineties.

And although I find that I have tons of things to keep me busy (you can check it all out over here at my other blog), I have always loved my job and keeping on the forefront of technology. I find that without a real application or use, the technology is just theory (for me). And I have always loved being on the leading – né the bleeding – edge of technology.

I’ve been giving this some thought over the past year or so.  I would like to join a company that focuses on or does more new development. I am particularly interested in mobile and pad app development as well as web development. A real ‘nice to have’ would be working for a company that does development for and on the Mac platform.

I’m really looking for a company that fully recognizes and encourages their employees’ work and initiative and is open to suggestions and encourages exploration. QA cannot be a department that solely exists to validate development, but rather is part of development. Also important is a company that embraces new ideas and technologies and is willing to review new tools and methodologies rather than being reliant on the “old standard”.
I want – no, need – to be happy and actively invested in any role that I might consider. That being said, I cannot work for free, but don’t want to rule out any roles simply for the contract rates or salaries. My last contract had a very healthy contract rate, but it really isn’t about money… if a position in an aggressive and exciting start up were to crop up, I would consider shares of the company in lieu of pay (or in addition to pay). The bottom line is I don’t have to work, but I love the work that I do and love being surrounded by folks that love the technology as well.
So, then I flip back to the other side of this coin. I have the time and money to spend these years with my son – The Kid – whom is the sole reason I need to exist at all. I can spend all day every day with him, doing things that excite us both like computers and technology or traveling or urban exploration. I have the chance to really spend quality time with him and it, too, is important.
But I know, too, that it is important to demonstrate a healthy adult work habit and the responsibility of getting up every day and going to a job. Its hard to convince someone to do something that you, yourself, are not doing.
Arghh! It is so confusing! And frustrating.
I mean, what you do?
MacCupcake
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Urban Exploration, Part II

I don’t know if it really is part two, hell it is probably more like fifteen or fifty, who keeps track?

The Kid and I were both bored of being in this house all day, every day for at least a week. There are some days I don’t even go outside as far as the mailbox. I get The Kid to run errands most days – grocery store or to the bank – so I just kick back. We’re up to Season 3 of the binge watch of “The X-Files”, wow there were a lot of episodes for each season. And we have nine seasons (I think) and being an hour long show (and don’t forget there are two, three or is it four?) feature length movies to go along with this as well.

Any way, we both woke up early for some reason and decided to go on “An Adventure”. This usually requires jumping into the truck and making random decisions on the direction to go. We actually sort of had a destination in mind today – Mark Twain National Forest – so we headed east on I-70. We listen to music in between chatting and looking for interesting things.

We saw this from a distance off Highway 5 and had to investigate.

photo 6We are guessing that this is an old grain silo, though we couldn’t figure out how exactly the grain was stored or put into the silos.

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I, myself, am in love with the outside tiling and how well it has held up over the years and weather.

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It obviously had been well investigated and used, judging from the amount of graffiti and the well worn path up to the back entrance.

photo 1It was freezing out today, the temps hovered in the single digits for most of the day, until the sky cleared in the late afternoon. Even then, it was windy and along with the wind chill factor, making it tough to be outside for long.

photo 8

photo 7We also saw this awesome house and matching garage. It is a little hard to discern from the photos, but both the house and garage are round! And I love the funky redish-orange roof. Way cool!

photo 9The Kid was happy to get home and back to his latest obsession: Oculus Rift. He is one of a few lucky ones using this in beta (although beta price wasn’t cheap!). I’ve used it a few times myself and this thing is way cool. I am trying to figure out what the big “thing” is that will need to go with – like an arena or walking platform or something so that I can make my millions and retire! Ha!

Been a long day but a good one. Going to get some Z’s!
MacCupcake

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I Want to Believe

I’ve been out of work for about eight weeks now. I’ve been doing a shit-ton of work on projects for my other blog. I’ve finished over two dozen furniture projects, as well as finishing quilts, cooking new dishes and cleaning and organizing. Of course, it was across the end of the year holidays, so the days seemed to pass quickly as it seemed everyone was occupied with the season.

But the holidays have come and gone and now we’re squarely entranced in the new year. And of course, that has turned my attention to considering the possibility of going to work again. I stumbled across the answer of whether or not my last contract would call me back to work, the answer being no. 😦

Of course, it did take some time to overcome the disappointment. I had really hoped that I could return. That position was almost everything that I had wanted in a job and almost without issue. The only “bad” aspect of it was that the company was on the other side of town from me, and that wasn’t really an issue at all. Let me tell you, after you’ve made an 75 mile (way one) for nearly a year, a 30 mile commute is a piece of cake.

So, now I get to do the ‘get to know me‘ dance. Again. I have a fairly definitive list of desires, but it becomes difficult to find the one position that delivers most of them. Its almost the story of the princess and the frog… I will talk to a lot of people and companies before there is a good fit. You know, kiss a lot of frogs before finding my prince.

I think I am going to wait to start looking until at least next week. Considering that I have been working for 40 years, I have become to really dread the whole searching and interviewing process. It is one of the things I have come to really dislike. No matter, I know that there will be the perfect fit for me for my next job.

I gotta believe. Right?

MacCupcake

 

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I’m Fuckin’ Angry!

I am a close watcher and avid user of Craigslist in my town. I have been both the giver and the recipient of many great things via the FREE listing. I have used the selling section for both buying and selling of things I craft and remake. And the KC Craigslist is a great community overall.

But today, as indeed are many days, that people are trying to give away their pets. You can’t give away pets on Craigslist, mostly because an animal’s life is valuable. Just because your cat or dog has outlived your needs, doesn’t mean they are discardable. I think if you “throw way” an animal because you “don’t have the time to give to them”, then you should never be allowed to have children.

How does someone do that? Today, someone is giving away their once loved beagle, who is 11 years old. They bought her as an eight week old puppy and after raising and loving her (I am making assumptions here), now they don’t have time for her and want to give her away.

As you may or may not know, my last puppy girl lost her battle to diabetes just days before Christmas 2013. Over a year later, and neither my son nor I are over the pain of losing her. She was about ten and a half. She was no more my “pet” than my son is, she was his little sister. She slept in our beds, she ate with us, she went on trips with us, was in the family photos. She was a part of our family.

I think that has to be true of most pets, right? How does one love an animal for 11 fucking years and then one day, out of the blue, decide that they don’t love her enough to take care of her for her remaining years?

There is another cute two year old terrier/hound mix, a cute little black and white small dog that the owner has been trying to give away. Although her reasoning of not being able to keep her because the place where she lives doesn’t allow dogs her size, is a little more understanding, she refuses to consider this wonderful no-kill shelter in the area that will find the dog a wonderful home. She makes me out to be the bad guy because I suggested it.

Who has a pet that long and doesn’t want the best for it? I don’t get how people can be like that.

And it pisses off when, after providing the information for the no-kill shelter (waysidewaifs.org), she replies to me and tells me that I am annoying her. What the fuck?

My dog was the heart of this house and we miss her so much that we are still brought to tears when we think of how much she is missed. Like snuggling with us on the couch when we watch television or the cute way that she allows had to be touching someone when she slept.

And when I see someone “throwing away” their pet just because they’ve become to much to deal with or because they just don’t “have time” anymore, my blood boils.

Some people are just not worthy of a pet’s love.

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Is it Something In The Air? A Negativity Cloud or Something?

More and more, I seem to be picking up on other people’s negative vibes.

It occurred to me while reading a post on a blog that I visit regularly. You know how something gets into your head and it just kind of floats around for a while, waiting… waiting for validation or eradication?

This other blog that I read, has a conglomerate of writers, all of the women. They send out a nice email with the top new posts highlighted, most times there are one or two that pique my interest enough to get me to roll over to the site. Today there was one, although I am not sure what really prompted me to go read it.

It was a post about the things pregnant women may hear when they are with child. This one was like “ten things” that was said to her during her last pregnancy. Some of them seemed harmless enough, said by well meaning people that maybe didn’t think quite as long as they should have before uttering the words. Some were on the fence with regards as to whether they were “unbelievable” or not, some seemed like perhaps they were taken out of context. Or not preceded with enough explanation.

By the time I finished the article, I was shaking my head, wondering why I had bothered to read it at all. And it occurred to me that this had happened more times that I care to remember. One such post was a tirade of what was perceived to be racially motivated comments and experienced that the writer defined as racism. I wrote to her and asked if perhaps she was reading into the whole thing a little more than was intended. Arguments and logic be damned, she was offended and nothing that I was going to say was going to change her mind.

More and more I see titles disguised like “Ten Reasons I Was Offended” or “Things People Say that Offend Me” or “Why the World is Such a Horrible Place”!

Okay, so I maybe I am exaggerating a little. But only a little.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty positive person. When I was younger, I was often described as being naive, as in “quite naive”. For a while, I had the unique title from some of the guys I worked with once they found out I was a midwestern girl – they called me “wonder bread kid”. I’ve also been called “Suzy Sunshine”. I guess I exuded naiveté having been born and raised in good ol’ Iowa. I think I just have always had the best outlook and believe the best in people. I guess you could say that I always give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that people are genuinely good.

It has always served me well. Most of the time. And because I tend to overlook anything that might be considered bad or wrong, it can sometimes take me a little while before I realize that I am standing smack dab in the middle of a big shit puddle.

I think I have kind of rambled on a bit here (trying to write and watch a movie at the same time – doesn’t work), so I will wrap up. I have un-enrolled myself from the blog site, so that I don’t get dragged into the much raking and negativity embracing that it is so quick to do. There are plenty of folks out there that have healthy and positive attitudes that reflect more of who I really am.

I wanted to get back on track with this blog as well. When I started writing a lifetime ago, it was in anticipation of where my life might take me at the point that I find myself: The Kid is now graduated from high school and I no longer am tied to this particular geographical place in the U.S. (or the world for that matter). I want to get back into investigating my options as to where I might go next and what I might find myself exploring. I don’t plan on writing every day, but want to write more often.

So, look for me around. I hope that you will accompany me on my adventures!

MacCupcake

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