As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about SOPA/PIPA, here is a great TED talk about the bills and the associated issues. Watch and be enlightened.
You’ve no doubt seen the news about a number of websites that are “going dark” today in protest against the SOPA and PIPA bills working their way through congress. Google has a good summary, as do a number of other places.
I don’t have anything new to add, except the change in background in support. These bills are poorly written and could cripple the internet. Make sure you let your Senators and Representative in Congress know that they should vote against these measures.
This blog has been quiet of late. I’m not sure exactly why, except perhaps that my life has changed quite a bit the last three years. Time is more at a premium than it used to be, and the arrival of our second child a couple of weeks ago has made that even more pronounced.
I’m not writing or working on RPG stuff the way that I used to. I’m not playing in or running a game. For the most part life is a cycle of get up in the morning, go to work, come home, spend time with the family and then wind down and go to bed. Repeat until the weekend, when chores and such become the focus.
It’s a good life, don’t get me wrong, but it hasn’t really lent itself to progress in some of the more creative parts of my life.
Anyhow, there are some changes coming. This blog is done through Blogger, published to my domain via FTP. In March, Google (who owns and operates Blogger) is going to be shutting down FTP publishing support for their blogs.
That means I need to figure out what I am going to do with this. This site has existed in one form or another for over 10 years. This is “version 3” of The Lore Merchant, and has been up and running now since January 2004, if the archives are any indication.
I think it may be time to seriously look at developing Lore Merchant v4. I’m not sure at this stage what form it will take, or what the new focus will be. It just seems strange to me that I’m paying for a domain name and hosting space but not really doing much of anything with it anymore.
Anyhow, that is all for now. Hell, I don’t even know how many people actually read and visit this blog. The Earthdawn resources I host here, as well as the old Xena commentaries are the most popular sections. The blog doesn’t have much of a focus anymore, or get any kind of feedback or commentary.
We shall see what the future brings.
So… I haven’t written much on here lately. Main reason for that is there hasn’t been much that has driven me to write, pontificate, vent my spleen onto a pile of electronic ones and zeroes.
I have a brain worm in my head, and I am hoping that by typing out this screed, I will do something to resolve the pressure it is exhibiting on my brain.
It was a strange little confrontation that happened at the end of the work day Friday. There is nothing I can do about it until Monday.
Except obsess over it and wonder… “What the hell…?”
I work in customer service, receiving inbound calls for a phone company. Now when I say customer service, the actual title is “Customer Sales and Service”. Note the order of the words there, the priority given.
Sales are important in this job. It is one of the primary metrics we are judged on. While the majority of our daily calls are to help sort out general questions, billing problems, and other varieties of customer service, we need to try and sell our services to people. Upgrades to their phone service. High-speed internet. Television. We have objectives that we need to meet each month, and a lot of effort is placed in our training and such on how to sell stuff to people.
I’m pretty good at my job. I’m not at the top of the office sales charts, but I am a very solid, regular performer that usually meets objectives (or exceeds them by a small margin).
I excel in three areas. One, I kick ass at customer service. Two, years of goofing around on computers have made me very adept at navigating and using the new systems that were put in place last February — which means I am (relatively speaking) fast. Third, I love puzzles. I love figuring things out, finding a solution, solving a problem. Give me a customer with a moderately complex question about their billing history (preferably one that isn’t truly angry), and I am — as the saying goes — as happy as a pig in shit. My best days are ones where I get presented with a problem, and I solve it — or at least figure out what needs to be done to solve it.
My performance reviews are regularly positive. Not A-plus top-of-the-class brilliant, but what I lack in uber-level sales performance I more than make up for in the other areas my job covers.
However, because of the emphasis on sales, there are people who obsess over them. This is especially true of the people who have a hard time meeting objectives, and don’t have the strengths in other areas to make up for it. The policies and guidelines surrounding sales, and who gets sales credit, etc etc… they undergo frequent revision to try and cut down on disputes.
This is the story of a dispute.
My last (or second-to-last) call on Friday afternoon was a callback; a customer had been speaking with another rep and had got cut off. I pulled up the customer’s account and saw the notes the prior rep left, and that they had started an order to change from a DSL-only service to a phone-and-DSL setup. I asked a couple questions to confirm what exactly was being set up, and finished the order.
It was, in my mind, customer service at work. The order was worth a few points, but I was more concerned with making sure the order got in that day (since we were close to closing) — otherwise the order would not go in until Monday, delaying the activation of the new services. All sewed up, as far as I was concerned.
Then… well… things got weird.
As I was leaving at 6pm, the rep who had originally spoken with the customer came up to me and got in my face, clearly upset. He felt that I had ‘poached’ his order, stealing it out from under him as he was writing it.
(One little detail to keep in mind here, the way our system works, anything that I add to the order gets my ID and sales code applied to it. Since there were pieces of the order that I added in order to finish things up and out the door, I would get credit for those, even though I hadn’t really negotiated the details of the order, I was more or less just filling in the blanks.)
I was a little baffled. I really didn’t know what to say. When somebody comes up and starts a confrontation like that, especially one you are in no way mentally prepared for, it knocks you a little off balance. All I could do was apologize, state that I did not know he was working on the order at the same time (no real way to do that in the system), and let him know that I would make sure he got the credit for it (which I can do by having a word with my team lead on Monday).
The two things that really stood out for me in the whole thing were two things he said. In response to my saying I would make sure he got the sales credit: “You’re damn right you will.” And the one that really knocked me for a loop (and the main reason I am still obsessing over the encounter), “It’s in your best interest to just walk away right now.”
I mean, really? The way he delivered it, it seemed that he was moments away from winding up and socking me one. And when I apologized again as he was walking back to his desk, he turned and repeated, “Just walk away.”
All this over a few points of sales credit? You’re going to threaten a co-worker over this? (Intentional or not, I was certainly threatened by his behavior.) I know our job can be high-stress at times, but this is the most extreme example of this I have ever run across. I’ve had sales opportunities that got snatched up by other reps who spoke to the customer before I did, and it can suck. I have never felt so upset about it that I felt violent.
I’m just baffled and off-balance. Monday I am going to need to deal with this. I really don’t give a damn about the sales credit, but his reaction and behavior were not cool. It is not my intention to get anybody in trouble, but I can’t let it slide either.
Hopefully getting this all down on e-paper will let me enjoy the weekend and stop obsessing so much.
Hello all. I’m going to (once again) try and make an effort to update this blog more than once every couple of months. The only way to do that is to branch out what I talk about.
We have election day this upcoming Tuesday here in the US. Here in Maine, the big issue is “Question 1” — a people’s veto of the gay marriage law that was signed into law by our governor earlier this year.
I can’t wait for this Tuesday to come and get the omnipresent advertising about it out of my face. I visit RPGnet regularly, and the last couple weeks the Google banner ads that pop up have been ads for “Stand for Marriage Maine” — the group that is pushing Question 1.
For crying out loud, I go to places like RPGnet to get away from nonsense like that. The ads have popped up in Google ad banners on other sites as well, but honestly… do you think the type of person that visits sites like RPGnet is favorably inclined towards the veiled bigotry implied by Question 1?
I don’t think anybody will challenge the premise that the referendum is religiously motivated. The problem I see is that you are dealing with a matter of civil law, and the First Amendment of the US Constitution states that no law can be made “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Laws prohibiting gay marriage, being religiously motivated, and seem to fall pretty clearly under that category.
Let us posit, for a moment, a hypothetical religious faith that condones, not condemns, homosexual unions as part of their creed. A law against gay marriage would violate the free exercise of their religion. Regardless of your personal faith-based opinions of homosexuality in general, the law of the land seems pretty clear to me.
I think that if two people want to pledge to each other, and they are both of legal age and sound mind, they should be able to do so and receive the benefits that such a commitment entails. The “slippery slope” argument that this will lead to polygamous marriages, marriages to animals, children, etc, is bullshit. There are already laws in place prohibiting such things. I don’t see how including homosexual couples in the existing legal definition of marriage does anything but encourage people who want to make that commitment to do so.
I can’t take credit for it, but there was a great line I came across the other day. “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one.”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I thought I would try getting back into the swing of things by talking about how our Ulduar raids have been doing over the past few weeks.
It’s been pretty solid. We have Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, XT-002 Deconstructor, Kologarn, and Auriaya down regularly. We have beaten Iron Council a couple of times, and downed the first of
>>> [ WARNING ::: DATABASE ERROR ::: CONTENT OVERRIDE ::: SOURCE: EXTERNAL ] <<< > source terminal location: UNKNOWN
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the Keepers, Hodir, a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, it hasn’t all been tea and crumpets. Our attempt this week started off smoothly, but hit a wall on our second night. We just couldn’t get Iron Council down, and after giving up and moving on to Freya (the next Keeper we’re working on) we got hammered hard on the first trash pull leading up to her.
It was frustrating. Hopefully this upcoming week will be more successful.
So GenCon is this week. I’m not there, but lots of people are posting pics and such. Here is an especially beautiful one.
(First posted here at therpgsite.com)
A friend of mine has been hit by a tragedy. Out of respect for his privacy, I am not going to go into details. (Those of you who know, know. Those of you who don’t know, don’t need to know. This is not the sort of thing you broadcast on the ‘net.)
It has rocked me. It is the kind of thing you read about, but never think will touch your life. For someone known for and by his words, I find myself at a loss for them.
I fins myself thinking about all the things we have in our lives, and how often we find ourselves reliant on them and defined by them. The loss of any of them would be annoying and bothersome to greater or lesser degrees (depending on the item… losing your ipod is an annoyance, losing your car much more of a problem, you get the idea).
But they are, ultimately, things and can be replaced. There are other pieces of our lives that cannot. There are fundamental parts of us that leave an unfillable void when they are taken away, and in many ways we take them for granted.
Anything with a price can be replaced.
Some things are truly priceless, and should be treated that way.
I mentioned Personal Effects: Dark Art in my previous post. As part of his promotion efforts for the novel, JC Hutchins has produced a number of “vlurbs” from people in the realm of horror/paranormal film and fiction.
Inspired in part by this, and wanting to contribute something of my own to this whole thing (aside from buying the book itself), I recorded a few minutes of video to capture some of my first impressions and thoughts about the book and my exposure to it thus far.
It is my first real attempt at working with video. I dabbled in audio production with my short-lived Vampire: The Requiem podcast “The More Things Change” (which is still available here). Video is a bit harder to work with, and a bit less forgiving when it comes to editing stream-of-consciousness material.
Anyhow, I hope to make more of these, and get better at it as time goes by.
Why yes, yes I am.
It’s been several months since I last posted anything here. Life has been busy, and there hasn’t really been anything worth talking about.
Two cool things are coming from a pair of talented authors very soon. First up, the latest (and last) chapter of the Heaven series from Mur Lafferty launches on Monday. If you haven’t encountered this wonderful fantasy audio-novella series, you should really check it out. It starts with a premise that could be considered a bit cliche — a pair of friends die and start exploring the multitude of mythoogical afterlives. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for Mur to put her own stamp on things, displaying a brilliant creativity and spinning the familiar into the unique.
You can get caught up on this series over at podiobooks.com. Here are direct links for the first four chapters:
The other cool thing is coming from the pen of J.C. Hutchins, another pioneer in the world of podcast fiction. I recently finished his Seventh Son (also available at podiobooks.com), and it is a solid techno-thriller. It starts a little bit slowly, but once the action starts, it doesn’t let up.
Anyhow, J.C.’s print debut comes out this upcoming week as week. Personal Effects: Dark Art is a collaboration with Jordan Wiesman (yes, that Jordan Wiesman). More than a a simple supernatural thriller, this is a multi-media experience. Clues and inserts in the book connect to a larger experience that will give readers a deeper insight into the events of the novel, learning things that the main characters never encounter.
J.C. has a free ‘prelude’ novella available, Personal Effects: Sword of Blood serves as an introduction to the main protaganist, and if the first two chapters of that work are any indication, Dark Art will be a mind-bending ride. You can get Sword of Blood at jchutchins.net.
Is this post an indication that I will be blogging with a bit more regularity? Perhaps. I can’t say for sure, and I’m not going to promise anything right now, but we’ll see what the summer brings.