Past Rants

Since the last two Rants, despite being in 2008 and 2009, say pretty much what I'd want to say about Obama's re-election – that I'm in favor of this and as we've seen in the last four years there are plenty of people who are not, and seem to define "bipartisan effort" as you do what I say rather than compromise for the common good – I'll just repeat the final words of the previous post (since I cut and paste these entries it's still below on my screen): If anyone around you goes spouting shit about Obama not getting the things moving, tell them to shut up and push. Now then, to me...
I've been in a not-so-great place in my life, something that people can say "this is within your grasp to fix" and to a degree they are right but still it's not entirely true. I haven't been gainfully employed since January 2011. (You'd think I would have spent more time working on this site, eh?) I had been doing customer service with a cell phone outsource company until the first week of January, me being one of the three out of 36 people in that training class that stuck around more than a month after hitting the phones, and the basic reason is because of the company's ethical practices. Some people might love to work a 45 an hour work week since the last five is overtime pay scale, but none of us signed on for that or were told we'd be expected (demanded in the end) to come in or stay late an hour every day, which didn't sit well with people who have other responsibilities and a work-life balance to maintain. But anyhow. I couldn't collect unemployment pay, they managed to block that. I don't recall having an interview for anything until October for a seasonal job, but that interview turned out to be a farce, and I wound up in late November being hired to work through December at a craft store. Or rather, about 30 hours of December, because I'd somehow not be on the schedule every other week. What I did earn from that job went directly into my car because of a coolant leak; I made about $400 after taxes and the mechanic charged $430. You could say the blow was softened and added expense covered, but obviously this didn't pay any heating bills or buy any gifts... the reason why one takes a job, holiday or otherwise. That ended on New Years Eve so they could close the tax record books.
Now for 2012... zip, zero, nada other than the occasional eBay sale or handiwork for a neighbor. I interviewed a couple weeks ago, late October, with one hardware store and they called me to say all positions were filled the day before the manager had said interviews would be completed. I applied to their competition and the next morning got the "we're going forward with other candidates" note (four times) so I must not have lied enough on their personality inventory which has nothing to do with actually performing the job. I need to get energetic and dig harder, but this is emotionally draining being overlooked and underconsidered. You hear rejection enough times and you start internalizing that you are a failure, that no one wants you for any meaningful job, that there's just something unworthy about you that you don't even know about and can't fix... something there's no legal prohibition for employers to discriminate against and due to various laws they couldn't or wouldn't tell you what the problem is if you asked. (And I have before.) That mindset is hard to rise above, and while I don't describe myself as a depressed person or an immobilized person, well, there is a bit of truth at times to those feelings. But I can't give up trying, I keep reminding myself as the year continues to wind down.   --#2
An update to this, 11/30/14: In April 2014 I got another interview with that hardware store, worked for them for two weeks, then quit because I was hired for daytime garden department sales but they changed that to night stocking, which I'd explicitly said I would not do when I applied. As a result, the Unemployment folks which were paying me after leaving the bank job the previous December decided they wanted some money back, which I'm still making installments on today. You take a job because you want to do better but then you get penalized for it?

Of course, rant number one today is that it took me six months to post anything on this site...
Anyhow: I knew what I was going to write about for this Rant for five months, actually – the same thing I wrote about last time, but in an updated form. So say what you will, but we've gone from the newly elected (12/15/08) to the inaugurated to the first 90 days in office, and my prediction came true: We have dunderheads that somehow expect 8 years of mismanagement to be fixed literally overnight (and before he even got into office) by President Obama. The old saying is that things will get worse before they get any better, you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, and my theory [check old Rants, the links are below] that Bush figured he'd reach Rapture before he ever got called on the carpet for his actions still sounds true though the Rapture or his own being taken by God didn't happen (last week's tabloid "Suicide Watch on Bush" headlines aside)... the nation was left with businesses and financial institutions falling apart, and to fix this Obama has had to authorize a bunch of spending to save what still stands. I can see how some people might object to spending money while in a huge deficit but nearly every bit of it is to save America! Unlike Cheney with Halliburton, it's not about personal gain.
The Republican drum-bangers are dancing around in a circle chanting about how this new administration is a failure (funny how they forget how it got that way, prior to 1/20/09) but yet they admit when pressed they don't have a plan or a candidate either. Normally I try to avoid the X-is-right/Y-is-wrong nature of political parties, since there are good people and good ideas on both sides (and I haven't forgotten there are more than two sides, I am talking about the two with the best finances thus loudest voices). But at this moment I have to say that the Republican Party needs to shut the fuck up. Before the election, the discourse was about issues and candidates and how to address problems, and that's good. But right now? They don't have a pot to piss in – everything I hear put out there is essentially either saying "We don't like that Obama was voted in as President" (that's fine, non-Republicans said that about Bush for eight years, but it means nothing) or "We're going to make some wild and unsubstantiated allegations and speculations since we don't actually have anything factual to criticize yet." There's no material here. Could y'all try to be part of the solution rather than inventing new problems?
I've wanted to say this particular phrase for awhile, and had hoped it wouldn't come to present situations – banks collapsing, 10.8% unemployment rate including myself for the last 11 months, mortgage and loan companies putting people out of their homes, companies using their millions in bailout money on corporate parties, the big three American automobile makers hitting bankrupcy because they avoided making fuel-efficient cars people wanted to buy, and so forth – which would justify it, but it did. Here it is: In September 2001, some high members of the US Government made a few statements about foreign terrorists seeking to destablize this nation because ______ [fill in the blank: "they hate our freedoms", they want to take over this country, the US government buddies up with Israel, their toilet paper isn't as soft as ours, etcetera], so we must defend ourselves and be ever-paranoid. But see, that's not how things have played out. One could say that the September 11 attacks started a chain of economic issues in the country, but for the most part the blame is our own... our economy rebounded a year or two after September 11, but then went down the toilet because some executives put personal profit before fiduciary responsibility. Our military forces are at their highest strength yet are not here defending our borders, they're over in Iraq cleaning up Bush's vendetta against his dad's enemy, which is not related to terrorism as it applies here. Yes, the nation has been destablized, and yet oddly it was not by outside forces, it was entirely done from within by our own leaders and trusted institutions. Bin Laden couldn't have planned anything as huge as the Bush Administration's severe issues with itself and the money-holders it should have kept close tabs on. As R.A.T. says among itself all the time, FHTWO: Funny How That Works Out.
I'm not offering any sort of solution to the country's mess in this final paragraph. I don't have an overall one, though like most I have ideas about individual facets (like: maybe now Detroit can start making cars worth buying, now that the Big Three are on a short leash?). Going back to the first two paragraphs, my point now is the same as it was in December of last year... Don't dismiss Obama as a failure when he's attempting the Herculean task of getting this country back on track. I don't know how long is 'long enough' before it's fair to stop blaming the Bush Administration for how things are going, but we're not there yet. My message and hope today is: If anyone around you goes spouting shit about Obama not getting the things moving, tell them to shut up and push.   --#2

Of course, rant number one is that it's been since March that I've posted a Rant. But now for the real one.
I am very happy to see that the United States has put a Democrat into office this last election, though I cannot use the word "overwhelming" for how the voting turned out because it wasn't a landslide. There are still people who can't see past party politics or somehow have been in another world for the last eight years and failed to recognise the Republicans running were just as bad, if not worse, than what was already in office. But nevermind all that. Here is what's bothering me: In American presidential elections, the election itself is held the first week of November and the inauguration is the third week of January. During the two and a half month span, there are various changing of the guard thing done in high quarters and a transition period so people can get acclimated to the change. This seems also to give people who are of a certain mind the chance to bemoan things that have not happened. Seriously, if you poke around the backwaters of the Internet or listen to certain commentators, there are people who are claiming the Obama administration is a dismal failure... despite not having started yet. There's probably some synch to how many of these same people have somehow ignored the real failures in the current administration. So that is what's under my skin at the moment, the naysayers who have zero proof spouting off. Guys, how about waiting for the typewriter to be turned on before you comment on his chapter of history?
Which brings me to another rant which is inevitable, and seems to happen every time a new person gets into office so this is nothing unexpected. In American presidential elections, the media and so forth set a benchmark, "the first 100 days", to look at to see how the new person is doing. Sort of like a 90 day evaluation at your work, and much like an employee's three month eval a lot of the time is spent learning the job with only part of that time spent doing the job at full capacity. Unlike your employee evaluation, where you are judged exclusively by what you have done, a president's evaluation (by the way many evaluators do it) is based on the previous administration's actions – specifically what issues created during that administration has this new person to office fixed. Consider how you would feel if you walked into your boss' office at the end of your first month and were told you were doing lousy because you hadn't caught up the year's worth of paperwork the lazy bastard who preceded you left on your desk before you were hired. That's what a new president, any new president, faces... scrutiny that in 100 days that person hasn't fixed X number of years (divisible by 4) of problems. It took Bill Clinton under eight years to turn around a budget that had been in the red for twenty years. Barack Obama will take office with the worst economy we've seen since the 1930's, trillions of dollars of debt and rising unemployment and an ongoing war with no clear means of ending, and you know that there will be people who will declare him a failure if after fourteen weeks we're not in a budget surplus, a hale economy, jobs for everyone, and our forces out of Iraq. Can you name any president who has or could pull those tricks off in three months? I hate hearing those people flap their gums or expend ink; such criticisms should be reserved for two to four years, when the person has had time to do something and confirm that it has had an effect.
Tangentally, it's not a rant so much as a subject of concern: I'm rather amazed by how people view Obama. I try to be realistic and down-to-earth about everyone since there aren't any people wearing functional superhero capes, devil horns or angel wings that I've ever met. But if you check those backwaters and commentators, and this has been going on for two years since the party nomination process started but rose to a crescendo in the November '08 range, there are people bandying about that Obama is the Second Coming – and people declaring that Obama is the Antichrist. Guys, he's just a man, he's never claimed to be anything more and to use such extreme verbiage makes you look like an extreme idiot. He can't make the sea turn to blood. He has no power over human souls, only three hundred million mortals. Final Judgement is not his. This is not the End Times, except maybe the end of a ~225 year era where the statement "any child can grow up to be President" was a myth. So please leave the zealotry, in either direction, at the door of the New Year because it's pretty useless. Give the guy a chance to lead without holding him up to some religious standard; he's got a long row to hoe, in large part caused by someone who (I've said it here in the Rant before!) seemed to believe that the Rapture would happen within his time in office so didn't give a damn what kind of mess he left behind.
So let the story begin. And good luck to you, Mr. Obama!   --#2

It was revealed that all three major political candidates had their passport records viewed by unauthorized parties within the passport system. Condoleeza Rice held a press conference where she said "none of us wants to have a circumstance in which any American's passport file is looked at in an unauthorized way" and said she wouldn't want people to be looking at her passport records. Okay, here are the bits of meat I have picked off these bones of contention:
a) Ironic she'd say it was wrong to snoop in people's records when she's been a major part of this administration's domestic spying effort. Do as I say, not as I do; it's only bad if it's someone other than us doing it.
b) The three candidates not only have nothing to hide, but being such public people there's nothing to 'discover'. If your agenda is publicly posted and the media is at the airports of departure and arrival, the nightly news will tell you more than looking up where one's passport has been used. It's that shifty-looking guy you've never heard of over there who they need to have a better look at.
c) Strange that the three candidates would be told that they'd been snooped on, since no one else in the United States ever hears that their privacy has been intruded upon, or at the government level anyhow since your credit card company or Internet provider may eventually let you know that someone may have swiped your data but aren't about to admit they shared your data with the government.   --#2

For my end-of-year Rant, several things came to mind but most of them only matter to me or a select group of people. (Bad email correspondants, anyone? How about devolving physique?) But there's one thing I am constantly griping about in real life and in online organs, and if I've mentioned it in the Rotating Rant before then forgive me but I honestly believe it needs repeating until it gets fixed. The subject is: why the car of the future is just the same as the car of the 1960's.
When people talked about the future in the last century, they spoke of flying cars and cars that ran on something other than fossil fuels. Of course, when they talked about communications, they spoke of picture phones – not cell phones. And in a way, cell phones can be used as picture phones, because they're a phone you can send a picture with. For real picture phone goodness, where you watch the person talk, you wind up in front of the computer with a webcam on a broadband connection using a voice chat program like Skype, Google Talk, or Yahoo Messenger. Now you can be positive that someone is eating a bowl of cereal or sitting on the toilet when you chat! But back to the automotive situation. We don't have flying cars, but I think of that as being along the lines of why Man hasn't put set foot on Mars despite the futurists saying we'd colonise the planet and one of the recent presidents pledging to put us there: because it's fairly impractical and expensive, albeit humanly possible. And think for a moment about how bad some drivers are on four terrestrial wheels; do you really want those people to have a pilot's license? Okay, so scratch the flying cars thing because there's no point and it's unwise. This brings us to alternative fuel vehicles... something that is practical, can be affordable, and is a wise product to produce. Even the forward-thinking dreamers of decades ago, when gasoline was a quarter a gallon, were aware that petroleum distillates emit hydrocarbons when burned, there's a limited supply underground which we have to pump and refine, and that the price would rise with demand so should be replaced with something else. That's what brought Ethyl gasoline to the pumps, thinning gasoline with alcohol because we can produce alcohol using farm products and scraps. Gasahol comes into and goes out of style every few years like it were bell-bottom pants. But it's still gasoline, that thing we need to wean ourselves of. Have we?
So here is where we stand: We've known how to make higher-mileage internal combustion engines since the 1940's and how to run a car on electricity since the 1910's. We made great strides in the 1980's with post-Carter Administration Energy Crisis (which was actually a 'shortglut') vehicles that were getting MPGs in the 30's and 40's, and talk surfaced of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And then in the last fifteen years, something strange happened... gas mileage went down and cars got larger. This isn't an unusual phenomenon historically; after the rationing of metal and gasoline of World War II was lifted, gas-guzzling vehicles like Packards featuring acres of chrome and steel came into vogue, and efficient smaller vehicles like Crosleys lost favor. But that's where it gets dissimilar: gasoline and automobile prices didn't come down, they went up, yet there was this push by auto makers and the media to promote the big-ass SUVs which get less than 20 miles per gallon. People actually bought into it, looking at the 'safety and efficiency' of bigger vehicles (a.k.a. you're above other traffic and less likely to be injured if you got hit, plus you can haul more people and stuff even if you don't have more than 4 people and six bags of groceries to carry) rather than how much it costs to keep that sucker rolling. At no time in American history has there been so great a need for better cars and ways, and we're not getting them! Legislation was passed the other day to demand new vehicles get 35 miles per gallon, an increase over the present setting of 25 miles per gallon, by the year 2020 – which sounds forward-thinking until you discover that bill's been sitting on someone's desk since the Reagan Administration, and curiously was signed by a guy who won't sign the Kyoto Accord because he doesn't believe greenhouse gasses are a problem. (Could someone put a 'carbon footprint' on his ass?)
Where I'm going is: Don't let anyone tell you that alternatives do not exist; tell them they should be causing them to exist. Alternatives are just not promoted or developed widescale because there's no money in it for the petroleum industry. Hybid gas/electric cars exist, but even then you have to look closer to find out what exactly the manufacturer means by "hybrid" – such as when a Saturn VUE uses that word yet it's only electric when parked, and gas the moment you touch the accellerator (yes, this saves 30% on fuel because the engine isn't running while idling, but none of that electricity is used for locomotion). We don't have hydrogen cell cars for the public market yet, but it turns out that the hydrogen is costly and, go figure, uses the by-products of gasoline production to generate the hydrogen so the petroleum industry is still in full swing. Full electric vehicles exist but cost a lot because they're built by small companies; electric car production has not been embraced by the auto producers, which would lower the price as they're mass-produced. Other alternatives such as biomethane are still in the experimental phase. What you need to do is not buy vehicles that get the same miles per gallon or relies exclusively on the same lotion motion as a circa-1970 Ford pickup, and demand that your elected leaders support and promote greener cars. You may see the future in your own lifetime if we stop thinking about our driving in the framework of the distant past.  --#2

I've been sitting on this particular Rant idea for a couple months (previous entry was 5 months ago, ugh) and I still haven't really fleshed it out, but the concept itself says what needs to be said... so maybe less is more in this case.
Recently an assessment was done on the War on Terror (the real one, not the in-name-only one we're being sold in Iraq) and it was revealed that we're no better than we were at the start, in fact we've lost some ground. Reasons include the continued existance of training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the continued existance of Osama bin Laden and associates, and the world's perception of America as the bad guy who is bullying in a place where he does not belong which has been a successful marketing tool. By those metrics the War on Terror has been quite the flop. You get one guess why.
Because that's NOT the war we've been fighting!!
We're concentrating our efforts in a place that needs more economic and government stability than military might, taking it away from the problem we're theoretically trying to address. We left Afghanistan high and dry to prepare for the return of the Taliban while we're so entrenched in a war in Iraq that is now being waged by foreign powers — Iraq didn't have the bad guys we were after so they had to come in from elsewhere to fill the void — that we can't seem to focus on any actual threats to American security. Hell, the powers-that-be are more concerned with spying on the average citizen and overreacting at the airport, yet little has been to address the bad guys all this paranoia is supposed to find and stop.
I don't have a candidate in mind for the '08 election yet, but it's not going to be a part of the endless war machine. No one needs my say-so but for cripe's sake, that person better know the difference between the "War On Terror" and actually waging a war on terrorists... which we'd started to do six years ago but got distracted by one dickhead's vendetta to avenge his father without a plan of how to hold things together afterwards.  --#2

I've tried to stay away from the Virginia Tech story as much as possible. I know it's a tragedy, I feel for the victims and families and survivors, no disrespect intended. I just get my blood angried up a little easily so the further I am from current bad news, the better. But I watched the manifesto video on the other day (courtesy of a coworker), and could only think... what a whiny punk bitch! He sounded as spoiled as the people he hated for being 'priviledged'. He shoulda just stuck to himself if his stated goal was to be a martyr -- no one else needed to be involved. What a fucking immature selfish prick. He's the kind of person you'd tell to go die (even if you're not so flippant/direct as our goth friends) and be a little surprised but happy if they did... alone of course, not taking anyone with them. There, I said it. Welcome to Hell, kid, you'll be bunking with Ted Bundy... and here's your copy of Windows Vista.
Oh, and way to drop the ball, Virginia Tech, when you were repeatedly warned by students and faculty this guy was a nutcase. This is one case where no one can say "but we didn't know, he was so quiet, this comes as a surprise..." Hope you guys can live with yourselves, 30-some others didn't. Don't jump me for lashing out at the school for sitting on their twiddlers, they dropped the ball and they paid for it bigtime. As the rubberstamp my wife loves so much says, take crazy people seriously.
But closer to home, a story from today's paper: Kid came to school in Federal Way with three loaded handguns swiped from a cop's house. Says he was going to sell them to some students. Hey, kid? Not only are you a dumbass (and a felon now), but you shouldn't go into comedy because your timing sucks dead mule. What struck me about this story is that the boy was caught because this girl text-messaged her mother about a gun rumor, and mom came to the school to report it. Hmm, no student told a faculty or staff member? Hey, kids? Authority figures are your friends; talk to them promptly if you think you may suddenly get dead. Chalk one up for what many schools forbid (and I'm against), using a cell phone at school... it probably saved some lives.  --#2

All was quiet for six months, until April 07. Ugh, sorry 'bout that.

I have something that sticks in my side every so often, and most of the time (or in the adult years anyway) it lies dormant. When it presents itself, I never quite know how to get rid of it, despite having been through this so many times in the last thirty-some years it should be easy. I look around at other people (something I've come to know better than to do) and most of the folks I've asked about the matter look at me as though I'm defective in some manner, as though they never have this problem and I'm an idiot for feeling this way. They way those people paint the picture, they see things only when they're present – there are no questions whether something is real or imagined, what it all means or if it all means anything, or whether there's something unknown which should be explained; anything not in plain sight simply doesn't exist, like they live in the eternal now with a selective memory of the past and no concept of the future.
The thing that prods me is the failure of other people to live up to my expectations and to play by the same rules as myself, rules I consider basic and universal. Sure, to be fair, I don't play by all the rules and I'm constantly given looks or talkings to about how my perceptions don't match "the norm" – you may have derived that from the above paragraph's mention of people giving me flak for questioning anything that goes past the moment we're standing in. To be more specific, what bothers me is when I have placed some hope and beliefs on other people, sometimes with their consent and involvement (but not always), and then they don't live up to it. This used to be in simple form, where I thought someone liked me because we've talked about the weather. It took me awhile to discern between friend and friendly. Eventually it got more complex, where I thought someone liked me because they told me they liked me, in actions or words. At first it may have been just a more evolved version of the simple, where the words and actions were more direct and purposeful than discussing the weather or touching the other person's bicep while making a conversational point, but then it progressed to where the person said they felt something for me or did something beyond the casual. The mature rendition of all this is when someone has said "I love you" or taken me to bed. I don't get much of this rendition anymore due to circumstances (I can't complain out loud about this fact, I hated being mistaken when I had the luxury of being able to investigate) but to some degree, yes, it still happens; I'm given every reason and encouragement to put some trust and faith in select people, I take them at their word, and after whatever was said and done with all parties smiling as we say our goodbyes, I turn around and they've disappeared behind the walls they brought with them.
I've never figured out how to turn my feelings off like a switch. I have yet to discover how to not turn around, as others are adept at, or fabricate questions in my mind about when I'll see someone again and what will happen then. I rarely slam doors, and by this point in time I'm surprised when one doesn't get slammed on me within two days of an otherwise happy occasion. The rules I referred to which I believe others should be familiar with speak of being civil to someone you've had warm moments with, and to be some modicum of honest with those who you don't feel so inclined toward so they'll know where things stand – as opposed to never saying anything at all and leaving the questions suspended midair. (As mentioned, maybe other people don't have hanging questions around them. I have no idea how they manage that.) It has long bugged the piss out of me to be forgotten or ignored by those whom I was very close to just hours and days earlier, and if there's anything I can say I've learned it is that banging on someone's door demanding answers when they failed to give them can result in a more frosty or bristly reception... where there was mere apathy, there is now anger, justifying the break. I might still try to find them in daylight and ask questions gently during casual conversation, so I'm not completely cured, but it's not a middle-of-the-night pounding on their doors anymore. And I'm still not "used to it" or know how to just let go, and let go early.
To qualify, not everyone in my world behaves like this, and I don't want to get upset mail from those who are not guilty of it. There may be some people who do this but don't realize it, and most of the people who have done this unabashedly won't ever come here to read this... but I didn't write this to give them a bawling out, I wrote this to explain my point of view. (If you do recognise yourself and you are guilty, though, this is my voice telling you that I didn't like what happened – not that this matters to you, undoubtedly.) There are few ways of telling people that they've made you feel hurt without it being translated (and somewhat accurately) as "you aren't paying enough attention to me." Your cat or dog may get away with a display of ego and jealously like that, but among people it looks pretty tacky. Honest, but tacky. I'm sorry that I can't read people very well, especially those who seem like an open book and who read phrases about themselves out loud... it seems those who require less decryption are the most cryptic and misleading, whether they realize their story is inaccurate and nebulous or not.
I still haven't completely given up on believing in people yet, because I don't know how.  --#2

All was quiet until October, eight months later. Erk, sorry about that!

Before I launch into the Rant, I want to clarify that myself and R.A.T. are quite tolerant of other people and other people's beliefs, even if they get on our nerves (er, that's the tech support background in us three). And in fact I can't claim to be speaking for the other two members: one converted to Islam when she married a Muslem three years ago, the other spent a year and some in Iraq defending America's satellite cybercafes from porn-browsing, so their opinions may vary. I'm just making an observation about the human condition and questioning certain details I see in the data. There is no defense offered of either point of view, because both have some serious issues.
Not long ago a Danish editorial cartoonist drew a picture of the Prophet Mohammed with a lit bomb fuse sticking out the back of his head, implying that the Islamic religion is all about violence and terorrism. Some Muslems became rather agitated about this, because slandering the Prophet is not taken lightly. The cartoonist should have realized that this would have caused some stir and was an unfair generalization. The response of some more enthusiastic members of the Muslem community has been violence, threats to anyone or any organ that reproduces the cartoon, and there are even pictures of a guy in a ski mask holding a rocket launcher circulating the papers.
How exactly do these actions contradict the sentiment that Muslems are terrorists?
Furthermore, there has been a wave of 'hactivism', where scriptkiddies have been defacing webpages – a thousand or so in Denmark, semi-understandably, but hundreds of other webpages also defaced, such as this women's motorcycle club's site that was on my local news last night. This of course isn't making any site owners very happy, and they view it as a form of cyber-terrorism not much different than viruses and DDOS attacks.
How exactly do these actions contradict the sentiment that Muslems are terrorists?
There are some crazy people in the world, of all races and religions and nationalities. It's unfair to typify one broad category because of something one group under that umbrella does. I've talked to a few Muslems and non-Muslems who have learned about the religion, and I was told a story from the Qu'ran the other day about how Mohammed took self-humbling steps in some truce agreement he signed to make the terms of peace more agreeable to both sides... hardly a war-like act. It's the nutcases that tarbrush any otherwise dandy group, and my point here is that it's pretty insane that some people who are angry at the cartoon's notion that Muslems are hotheads are acting like hotheads. To have peace, you must make peace. Not only stop hitting others, stop hitting back. It no longer matters who struck who first, everyone needs to stop swinging. As someone years ago told me, a war does not determine who is right – only who is left.  --#2

    At my job, we are graded monthly on a variety of metrics, such as adherence to the posted schedule and attendance and what the Quality Assurance department or our supervisors think of our call handling. (If knowledge seems to be missing from the list, that's because it's not quantifiable. Neither is customer satisfaction, since surveys like that are done to a random sample of callers and not for every representative.) Where at many businesses the notion of "first call resolution" means that an issue was solved in one call, thus the person has no reason to call back on the same day or about the same issue, at mine it's a little broader: "first call resolution" has more to do with potential, as well as some items that may have nothing to do with how many calls a customer makes, whether they call back, or whether the problem was fixed. Ergo it's possible to fail a QA after fixing an issue but not, say, giving out the department's phone number [which they likely had because they called us!] and not thanking the person for calling this business. An old friend from a previous job whom I again work with and I always say we're "little pink poodles, and we LOVE to jump through hoops." And I've been diving through the hoops to the best of my ability, especially in the last three months because it has been emphasized that the expectation for quality is 70% or above, and I've never hit that number in my six months there.
    I was feeling pretty good about the month of December, because I was really trying my hardest to get my score up. I felt secure about my contacts, I was fixing the problems, I was being friendlier and more patient and adding those ersatz elements we get graded on, and I was sure that I'd get to 70% this time. All of my other metrics were 80% and above, some I never have to pay attention to because following the schedule and having short call times as well as short off-call times come naturally to me, and I'd even gone out of my way to make myself more valuable by taking on some leadership and training roles. And then I had my monthly meeting with my supervisor today, and discover nothing has changed. I was 10% above November's score (which was dismal) but only 1% above October's score (which was lousy), and still around 20% below acceptable (what the hell?!?). She conceded that I have made strides, I have made changes, I have made improvements, yet it didn't show one iota in my quality score... but also conceded she'd failed to show me two horrible reviews from the Quality Assurance people until that moment. (I still haven't seen those reviews to know what went wrong.) And then she questioned whether I was wanted this job, whether I cared about customers, and whether I was bullshitting her when I have said at every review I'm trying to improve my score. That was uncalled for, my ego resides in that space and she should know better than anyone what the truth is.
    I'm really in a quandry what I should be thinking or feeling, other than fear of the carpet being pulled out from under me. By the system being used, one could be a total idiot who couldn't tell someone how to push the power button on their phone, yet pass the reviews for saying all the right things in the right tone of voice. One could have every answer and fix every problem, yet completely fail for not jumping the hoops and have it filed under the inaccurate title of not "resolving the issue in one call." And I am jumping the damned hoops as best as I can, which seems not to be good enough, and as anyone with an unhappy childhood can tell you, being told it's not good enough repeatedly when you're doing your damnedest really sucks the wind out of one's sails. I am not blaming anyone but myself for mistakes or omissions, I'm not trying to cast blame onto others, but with the hundreds of good calls I take in a month I would like to know why three out of the six calls they scored in that months's time were bad... how my performance on one and a half calls a week could accurately represent the other 75 to 100 calls taken during that week.
    I'm sorry if any of this comes off as complaint or a plea for pity. It's not the latter, honestly; I'm ranting, that's what this particular page is for. It is somewhat the former because the appearance that my efforts are making no difference is becoming frustrating to me. I'm not ready to give up, I do a great job at the part that matters to the customers themselves and am a benefit to my coworkers. I am however at my wits' end how to appease those who value this one subjective element over technical skill, and I hate that helpless feeling.  --#2
[afterword, a year later: An odd thing happened a month or three after I wrote this – that supervisor who kept chiding me changed teams, I got a different supervisor, and my scores went up. Up so far, in fact, that I wound up working on some special projects that I'd been told that I'd never see. Busting my avacados to improve worked at last, and it seems my previous supervisor had a lot to do with my failure. I lost that job in October, but not for failure to make my metrics or pass quality reviews... but it was my time to leave anyway, for a couple months I'd really started to hate going to work because of the corporate overlord's stupidity. I'd like to thank Shari for giving a damn and making a difference in me — and to Lisa for sticking my dick in the dirt so badly I doubted myself, thus causing any improvement I made under Shari to look very significant. Neither of you could cure the disease we worked for.]


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