kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Thursday, April 13th, 2017 03:29 pm


On Monday, March 13, I took my orthotic inserts to Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics near my house to have them refurbished. It's been more than ten years, and they're literally falling apart, in that the rubber is disintegrating in places.



The guy I talk to takes a look and says, "Sure, we can do that for $50. But you'll have to bring them back next week because we're remodeling the office this week."



"So . . . come back Monday?" I ask.



"Better make it Tuesday," he says. "That'll give us time to get everything put away."



On Tuesday, March 21, I took my orthotics back to them along with the long-since-removed factory-installed insoles of my shoes, so they'd have a template. The lady who took them put my name on them with a sticky note.



Later that day, I got a call saying that I needed to pay them. They wanted me to give them my credit card, but since they called me and I was in the middle of something at work, I told them I'd call back. Which I did,
even later that day. I gave them my credit card number . . . but their machine wouldn't take it. She tried several times. Then called me back and tried a time or two more. Then said, "I guess someone didn't set something up right. I'll call you back when the machine works again."



On Friday, March 24, I get a call saying that they were able to process my payment and would now begin working on them. I thought to myself, "Begin? But you've had them for three days! With my card number!" But I didn't say anything. Because I am too damned polite.



It should be noted, at about this point, that the last time I had any work done on these orthotic inserts, it only took a couple of days. I'm sure you can all hear the ominous chord already, so there's no need for me to <ominous chord> . . . oops.



On Friday, March 31, I called them again to see what was up. Because it has now been an entire week since they said they were "starting" on my refurbish. They basically said that they were still working on it and would let me know when they were ready.



Today, April 13, I realized it has now been nearly three weeks since I dropped off my orthotics, and I still have heard nothing from them. So I called them. "I need a date when my orthotics are going to be ready." The lady acted like she had no idea what I was talking about, and had to look me up in the system. She put me on hold when she noticed that I'd dropped my stuff off on the 21st of March. When she came back, she said she'd call me back when she found out where my orthotics were. Take note of that.



An hour or so later, she calls me back. Turns out, my orthotics aren't in Lawrenceville at all. Oh, no. No, they're in Athens. But the guy working on them will be coming back "maybe Wednesday of next week?" and if I want her to, she can call me when they're ready for pickup. The only time they have called me during any of this was to get my credit card number, and then to tell me it finally went through.



I want to digress for a second and explain that (my) orthotics are designed to perfectly fit a particular pair of shoes. That's what the rubber covering is for. It is trimmed to just the right size so it fits snugly and doesn't move around in the shoe. Mine have high arches to support my feet (different for each foot), and my right insert also has an extension that supports my big toe to alleviate the pain of arthritis, which a podiatrist more than ten years ago prescribed. It is (to my knowledge) the only arthritic joint in my body, but it does hurt, at least a bit. So these orthotics 1) fit my Z-Coils perfectly, and 2) are designed to minimize any pain I might experience from day-to-day walking around.



Since March 21, I've been using an older pair of orthotics that the current pair — the ones that are, right now, in Athens, GA, for no reason I can discern — replaced. The older pair perfectly fit a pair of shoes I no longer own, and are therefore too short and slide around a bit. I use them in a pair of New Balance shoes that I wear from time to time when the Z-Coils are too clunky. They also do not have the arthritis extension under my right big toe. This means they are mostly effective, but not completely. It still hurts to walk for extended periods, and when I take the shoes off at night, I can tell that the inserts have slid forward in the shoe. I can also feel the seam between the hard plastic and the rubber as I walk, and once I notice it, it's all I can think about, thanks to my brain.



Have I mentioned that I've increased my daily Fitbit step-goal from 5000 to 6000 and then to 7500 during these same four weeks? So that instead of decreasing my activity, I've increased it?



I have explained all of that to Hanger the last two or three times we've spoken.



So . . . I called Athens. I explained who I am and asked them if my inserts were there. I might as well have asked her "What is the square foot of kumquat?" She said she had no idea what I was talking about, and that the Lawrenceville office must have meant that the person who does the refurbishing spends part of his time also working in Athens, and he took my orthotics "home" with him to finish . . . but she had no idea. And he . . . is not reachable.



I said, "Find out where they are, and I'll come get them. I'm sick of this run-around. I'll gladly drive the two hours to just have my inserts again." (It's a 53-minute drive to the Athens Hanger from my house.)



I can only imagine that, right now, Athens is on the phone with Lawrenceville complaining about what a nuisance I am, and why can't I just wait until Wednesday?



I will note that next Friday evening, I leave Atlanta for a week, during which I will drive to and spend time in San Antonio, TX, then drive back. If they don't have them back to me on Wednesday of next week — and at this point, I have no reason to believe that they will, given how lackadaisical they've been to this point — it will be May 3 before I could hope to have them. Or, alternatively, if there is some issue with them — and again, I have no real faith that there won't be, at this point — I'll have no time to get said issue looked at before I leave and spend a week in San Antonio walking around.



I'm beyond frustrated and crawling rapidly toward hostile at this point. If I don't hear from them before 4 PM, I'm going to call both numbers and get them to talk to each other and resolve this.



I'm sure people who work in medical offices wonder why patients are such asses. And it's because of things like this. No calls. Nothing at all to tell me what's going on. A procedure that should not have taken more than a couple of days is now stretched out to three weeks at least, and who knows whether they'll be ready by next Wednesday? Who knows if they're ready now? Who knows, in fact, where my inserts are physically located? Lawrenceville? Athens? At the unreachable guy's house? In his car, possibly somewhere in the Adirondacks on vacation? (Speculation. I have no idea why he's not reachable.)



This. This right here is why people go from being polite to being That Guy™. I am now That Guy™. I don't like being That Guy™. I would rather not be him. But the only way to get any satisfaction is to become him.



— That Guy™

kaasirpent: (Work)
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 12:20 pm


Scene: The lobby of my workplace. I press the "up" button for the elevators and wait. I see a woman whose face I know but whose name I'm not sure of struggling to get her rolling bag through the security door. The elevator arrives, I press 'door open' to wait the three or four seconds for her to arrive. We exchange 'Good morning's and I press "4."

"What floor?" I ask.

"Two," she says. "Thank you."

We stop on the second floor and she gets out as she wishes me a good rest of the day, and I return the sentiment. Just as the door is starting to close, another woman steps onto the elevator. She waits until the doors start to close again, then puts her hand in the opening, leans out, and peers to the right. As she does this, she looks vaguely over her shoulder at me and mutters, "Sorry. Don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have already done that, I think, but don't say.

Apparently satisfied, she then re-enters the elevator entirely, and a few seconds later, the doors begin to close again. She once more puts her hand in the opening, causing the doors to spring back open again. This time, she straddles the opening placing her back against one of the doors, looking off into the right distance again.

I'm about three seconds before getting off the elevator and taking the stairs when the woman once more moves into the elevator and looks at me and says, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have done so twice, I think, but don't say.

Just as the elevator doors are about to close, a hand flies into the opening from the outside, and they open again. It's another woman, also dragging a rolling bag, who says to the other woman (not me), "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to hold you up."

The doors finally close all the way as the two women babble at each other. Since neither of them pressed a button, I assume they're both going to the fourth floor with me.

We arrive at the fourth floor and I get off. Just as I am, I hear a "ding!" and the arrow button on the outside of the elevator flashes to "down."

"Oh, crap!" I hear the first woman — the one who repeatedly kept opening the doors and making me wait — say. "I forgot to press five!"

As I walk away, I think, "I'm sure it doesn't mean to hold you up!" But I don't say it.

Schadenfreude. It's great on a cold, winter morning.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 03:10 pm


This entry is part 11 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 (YOU ARE HERE)

Something I forgot to mention about my little hospital experience is the Nurse Drama™. When I arrived, they had me undress and get into one of those backless gowns, then lie on a bed with booties on my feet while they jabbed repeatedly at my left arm trying to find a vein good enough to administer the amnesia drug to me.

The "room" they had me in consisted of a small desk with a computer monitor bolted on it, the gurney I was on, and a bunch of equipment. And a curtain that separated me from the rest of the room and the patients on either side of me. If you've ever been involved in a surgical procedure or an emergency room, you probably know what I'm talking about.

The first nurse — whom I'll call Sue for the sake of avoiding excessive ambiguous pronouns — started the laborious process of verifying my identity and getting all kinds of stuff entered into the computer system. I had to sign several things as well.

But then Sue was called away from getting me situated to do something else. So she went outside my curtain, closed it, and I heard something to this effect.

Sue: Ann, I have to help with another patient. Can you finish up with Mr. Henderson while I take care of this?

Ann: You don't give me orders. You're not the supervisor.

Sue: It wasn't an order. I was just asking —

Ann: 'Ann, finish up my patient because I don't have time.' <mocking tone>

Sue: That is not what I said. If you don't want to do it, I'll get someone else.

Ann: No, I'll do it. I wouldn't want to inconvenience you.


The curtain slid back and Ann poked her head in, all cheer and goodness and sunlight and fluffy, fluffy baby ducks. "Good afternoon, Mr. Henderson. I'll be finishing up your prep while Sue helps with another patient."

Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "Uh . . . you do know that I could hear every word, right? I mean, it's just a curtain. It's not soundproof." But I said, "OK."

Ann putzes around with the computer system for several minutes, then Sue comes back in. They banter with each other jovially for a few seconds while switching off, and then both leave my "room."

Sue: I'm sorry if what I said came across as an order, I was just —

Ann: I have seniority here, and I don't appreciate being told what to do by someone who's only been here <however long it was>.

Sue: Ann, I wasn't —

At this point, another voice interrupts. I'll call her Jen.

Jen: What seems to be the problem here?


And for the next several minutes, I got to listen to Ann and Sue explain their positions to Jen, whom I took to be their supervisor. At some point, Sue said, "I have to finish up with Mr. Henderson," and she came back inside my curtain and picked up where we left off — cheerfully! — like I could hear nothing that went on literally three feet outside the curtain.

Sue tried twice, unsuccessfully, to get the needle into my arm. She said, "I've failed twice, so I need to get someone else to try." (Must be hospital policy?) So she left for a second, and by this time, Jen and Ann were done, so Sue and Jen had a little discussion, as well.

Sue: I honestly have no idea what I said to upset Ann. All I did was ask if she could help a patient while I finished up with another one.


This went on for several minutes. Jen got both Sue and Ann together and Sue apologized to Ann (although from my perspective, it was Ann that had whatever problem she had), Ann "accepted," and then a minute later, Sue comes back in with Fay, introduces me, and Fay proceeds to poke me in the arm three more times until they get a decent vein.

I guess what surprises me is that they allowed Nurse Drama to go on literally feet from where patients are trying to remain calm about outpatient surgery. And while they're being checked in, two of their nurses are nyah-nyah-ing at each other over some trivial nothing. It does make you wonder, though, what would happen if Sue and Ann were forced to work together on a patient. Would they let any of their animosity spill over into their jobs? I certainly hope not.

I've been toying with whether I should just very quietly make a suggestion to the hospital management that the curtains don't block conversations, and that if the nurses are going to verbally spar with one another, they should take it behind a closed door and do it privately. Patients who are already nervous over literally going under the knife within an hour don't really need the added stress of wondering if their nurse is going to be distracted because she's thinking about l'esprit de l'escalier.

Anyway, at that point the doctor came in, and verified who I was and what procedure was being done. I said something like, "I almost had my housemate write 'No' on my left shoulder, just in case." I chuckled because joke.

Sue laughed when the doctor calmly took a sharpie out of his pocket and wrote "Yes" on my right shoulder. I wasn't sure whether to laugh. "We do that, just in case," he said, very seriously.

Yet another nurse came in and swabbed the entire area of my shoulder and upper arm with Betadine, which stained my skin a sickly ochre for about a week.

Then they injected Versed into my IV, and started to wheel my gurney out of the pre-surgical area to surgery. The last clear memory I have (Versed is called 'the amnesia drug' for a reason) is going through double doors and seeing my housemate with all her stuff following the procession.

Then I woke up and my shoulder hurt and I couldn't think straight. Anesthetics take a few hours to wear off.

I think this is the last little tidbit I have to tell from the actual surgery.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Monday, May 12th, 2014 12:30 pm


This entry is part 10 in an ongoing series of sem-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 11

This isn't even a surprise to me at this point. It's like a character in a sitcom saying, "What else could possibly go wrong?" and the studio audience all going, "Oooooooooh."

As I said in part 9, I returned to work last week. Not on Monday, but on Wednesday. This was because I couldn't get an appointment with the doctor the prior week, and didn't have the okay to drive until I saw him. He gave me the OK on Tuesday and I left the next morning to head back to the office.

Flash forward to Friday. I'm paid hourly because of some kerfuffle that happened a few years back with IT workers suing for overtime pay in California(?), and most of the rest of the nation followed suit to avoid the same lawsuit (as I understand it). Anyhoo, I was salaried up to a point, then became hourly, and so I can, if the need is great, get paid overtime for anything > 40 hours that I work. What this has to do with anything is that I have to put my hours into our PeopleSoft system, which they use to calculate my weekly pay. Friday is the day we fill that out and submit it, because the payroll is run on Monday before noon, Pacific. (But we still have to have our time submitted before noon Eastern on Monday. Whatever.)

Before I left for surgery and recovery, I pre-submitted two weeks of time sheets with 40 hours each of leave time. There was apparently some question about that (I was apparently not supposed to fill out a time sheet at all for leave time, even though LEAVE is one of the sub-categories under EXCEPTION TIME, but no one tells me anything), and an email discussion between my boss and our payroll department ensued, on which I was CC'd. It was cleared up before I ever even saw the email exchange. Problem: Solved!

Or so I thought.

Friday, I opened PeopleSoft and clickity-clicked through to where I put my hours in . . . and it didn't recognize me. As in, the place on the form for "Employee ID," which heretofore had always been populated automatically, wasn't.

Thinking that maybe I had done something wrong, I looked up the number on my paycheck stub and put that in. Invalid ID. Hm. I tried searching on the ID. Invalid ID. Name, last first. Invalid ID. Name, first first? Invalid ID. Grrrr. Advanced Search. Same results.

I looked for my boss, but he was in a meeting, so I walked around until I found another manager (who was my manager before my current manager). I told him what was going on, and he did some button-pushing and mouse-clicking. He informed me that the Employee ID number on the paycheck stub and the Employee ID in PeopleSoft are two separate things. But I should try the other one and see if that worked.

I managed to get the other number off of an approved timesheet from earlier in the year. Invalid ID. Hm.

I tried searching on that number. Invalid ID. Advanced Search? Invalid ID.

Worried, I approached my boss once he was out of his meeting, and said, "PeopleSoft says I don't exist."

He got this look on his face I interpreted as, "I knew this was going to happen. I just knew it." Plus some fun expletives. He didn't say them, but I could see them in his eyes.

Seems that part of that little problem with my 'leave' time ended up with me being taken completely out of the whole time reporting system. I mean, I could log in, and I could see my previous time sheets and approvals. I just couldn't put in anything new. Because that's logical, right?

He was on his way out and said he would deal with it over the weekend.

Flash forward to today.

He didn't have time to deal with it over the weekend because Mothers Day.

So I looked up the number for Payroll on our company Intranet, and got ready to beard the dragon in his lair. Before I dialed, I thought, "I'd probably better try the time sheet one more time so I can read off the exact error to them."

And I was fine. The Employee ID (the correct one) was in place. It knew who I was. I was able to report my time and submit it to my boss, comfortably before noon. Eastern.

All's well that ends well, as Shakespeare said.

I'm sure this will be the last problem I'll have stemming from this whole thing. Sure. Absolutely. I mean . . .

What else could possibly go wrong?
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Sunday, May 4th, 2014 12:26 pm
Shoulder incisions by scjody, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  scjody 


This entry is part 8 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Note: I apologize for the length of this entry. I used an <lj-cut> for a good portion of it, for those browsing your friends list.

Disclaimer: That picture is not of my shoulder, but it's the closest one I could find on Flickr with Creative Commons licensing. It's remarkable how little external evidence there is of the amount of disruption below the skin. :)


So, after the last entry, which was posted on March 13, 2014, I was waiting for Some Woman at Some Company to get back to me about the results of the MRI, which my doctor recommended be surgery.

I'm not where I can get at my copious records at the moment, but it was around the 26th of March when I received a letter from Some Company. A nurse practitioner I have never met had reviewed my case and determined that the surgery was, indeed, medically necessary. I'm leaving out all the phone calls it took to get Some Woman and Some Company talking to my doctor.

The letter said I had 60 days to get the surgery. I looked at the dates given as the window, and it was 3/17 to 5/17. Wait. It was the 26th. I checked the letter. It had been sent on the 25th. Which was after the 17th. I don't get why — at all — they back-dated the beginning of the sixty days. And I don't really much care, at this point.

I called the doctor and gave them the date range and we looked for a time within that range that suited not only both me and the doctor, but the hospital. My choices were 4/4 and 4/18. Since my boss and my team lead were both out on spring break vacation during the week of 4/4, I opted for 4/18. The time of the surgery was 1:00 pm.

I called Some Woman at Some Company and actually got her on the phone. I informed her of the date of the surgery and how long I intended to stay away from the office. She said, "Since you refused to give me your salary when we initially spoke" — I have to inject, here, that I didn't refuse so much as not have the information available at the time she asked — "I have no idea what level of compensation we can provide." I gave her my company's HR number and contact, and also asked HR to fax her the information. This was two weeks before the surgery.

I had to also call my company's insurance company — who covers short-term disability, among other things — and they agreed to cover me for FMLA.

I was set! I scheduled the time off, and was kind of amused by the little wrinkles that appeared around my boss's eyes when he realized I was going to be out at the same time as another guy, and we are the only two people who can cover one particular product. But I had a deadline, and I wanted this over with.

I had to go by the hospital a week before the surgery to get a pre-exam by the anesthesia department to determine what level of anesthesia I would need for the surgery. Before I left, they gave me a form to have my HR department fill out and fax to them. It conveniently had the fax number right there on the form. It was all about workers comp, and asked for things like my case number, my case representative, and that sort of thing. So they'd know who to bill.

I got to work the next day and gave that form to my HR rep, and she said she would fax it right away.

You can probably guess what's coming next. I wrote about it on Facebook while it was happening. Below/behind the cut (for those browsing on LJ) is what I wrote. Warning: Very foul language. I was upset. I don't apologize. I do not think I have ever in my life been as angry as I was on this day.

C-word alert! Not 'cancer.' The obscene one. )

HR faxed another copy of the form. But I didn't verify Jack because I was too pissed off and didn't want to have to talk reasonably to anyone. I simply worked out the day and left. I went to the hospital the next day at the appointed time, and no one said anything, so I assume it was all straightened out.

It took the nurses five tries to get an IV into my arm, so that was fun. Once they did, I got a dose of Versed. The amnesia drug. They rolled me out of the pre-surgical exam room into the hallway and through a set of double doors . . . and that's where my memory stops. :)

I woke up some time later with an epic sore throat. I immediately started sucking down liquids. The nurses helped me get dressed with my arm heavily bandaged and in a sling. I got two prescriptions for the good pain medication (oxycodone, in two different doses for different levels of pain).

On day two, around 4:30 pm, while I was trying to keep my arm immobile as much as possible and doing not much other than sitting in my chair listening to podcasts, I got a call from . . . can you guess? Some Woman! "We never received any information about your salary, so we haven't been able to set up compensation."

Un. Be. Liev. A. Ble. I made her wait for fifteen minutes while I got my work laptop out and went through the laborious process of gaining access to the work system from home, all so I could access my pay records to give her my hourly pay rate, so she could calculate my compensation level. I don't know who dropped that particular ball. I sent email to HR explaining the situation, and then I logged out, and that's the last I've talked to anyone from work.

The rest of the story is kind of boring. I removed the outer bandages after two days (as instructed) because of the incessant, insanity-inducing itching. Quit using the sling on day four, because it was rubbing my hand raw. Removed the strips of tape covering the actual incisions after about six days, again because of the itching. There are four, tiny incisions on my shoulder, each about 3/16th of an inch long, and each closed with a single suture. Two of them are still red, but one has almost completely healed. The last one is in between.

And I've been improving daily. I'm finally able to wear real shoes and pants (getting the belt on is the hurdle).

I have my follow-up visit with the doctor who performed the surgery on the 6th, and at that point, he'll give me some direction as far as what I'm allowed to do (drive?) or not, and how much and how far I can push the usage of the joint. So stay tuned for part 9, hopefully without copious cursing and apoplectic rage. I could use a lot less of that in my life. And getting to the point where I never have to deal with Some Woman and Some Company again will go a long way toward making that a reality.
kaasirpent: (DIAF)
Saturday, February 1st, 2014 01:48 am


Tonight (1/31/2014) was either Chinese New Year or the start of a week-long Chinese New Year celebration, depending on what source you subscribe to. That being the case, we decided to go to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. For the record, it's called Golden Palace, and it's off Riverside Parkway at the corner where it crosses Duluth Highway / S. R. 120 in Lawrenceville. Mmm, tasty.

I've been going in there regularly for going on 14 years. My housemate and I go in there about once per week. When friends come to town, I often take them there if they're in the mood for Chinese food. They know us, I know them. If we don't come, they ask us where we've been when we do come in.

We have a "usual table."

This is all just to set the scene.

The family that runs it works like dogs. The daughter ("Min") takes calls, does the cash register, and takes orders. Her brother ("Dai") delivers and takes orders. Dai's wife waits tables. The mom and dad work in the kitchen. Cousins, nieces, nephews . . . they're all in there from time to time. And they do this 7 days per week, every week, year-round, minus a day or two.

Tonight we went in, and someone had our usual table, so we sat at our second usual table (Did I mention we're regulars?). We ordered from a kid we've seen around a time or two. We figure he's a cousin or nephew in town for Chinese New Year. We could be entirely wrong.

We get our hot tea, soup, and appetizers. Dai brings his 8-month-old daughter over to our table so we can exclaim over how adorable she is (and she totally is).

While we're slurping soup, I hear Min on the phone with a customer. This is a normal occurrence. They do most of their evening business in take-out and delivery. But when Min said, "I'm sorry, we don't take credit cards over the phone," we perked up. Since when? We order all the time and pay with a credit card.

We heard Min arguing with someone for several minutes. She'd put them on hold, take another order, and then switch back and continue to argue. Finally, it got quiet. She came over to our table. Carrying the wireless phone.

She asked very apologetically if one of us could get on the line with this particular customer and please explain that the restaurant doesn't deliver to their area. Yvonne (my housemate) and I looked at each other, and I reached for the phone.

I pressed "Talk." Busy signal. They had hung up. But never fear, it rang again while I was holding it and Min looked at the Caller ID and nodded and then retreated from the table.

"Hello?" I said, then remembered, Oh, right, this is a restaurant. "Golden Palace."

"Oh, thank goodness," said a laughing woman. There was a muffled sound of conversation and laughter, and then a man's voice came on. Without preamble, I said, "I'm sorry, but we don't deliver to your area, anymore."

"What? That's crazy. Where are you located?" asked the man.

"We're at —" and my brain shut down. Luckily, Yvonne's did not. "Riverside Parkway," she whispered. "Riverside Parkway and 120," I finished.

"But, I don't understand," said the man. "Lawrenceville isn't that big. I'm from Miami." (I don't know, either.)

"I'm sorry," I said, and tried to mean it. "We just don't deliver to your area." (I had no idea what area that was, but I was reasonably certain that they do deliver to it.)

He tried to badger me a little and I just kept repeating that we no longer deliver to his area, and he finally hung up. And didn't call back.

After our main courses came, Min came over to the table and explained what was going on.

Seems that this man and his wife are staying at a hotel on the other side of Lawrenceville. They're from Miami (as stated) and don't have a car. So they order in. They called the first time and asked, "Are you guys from China?" When Min said they were, the wife said, "Oh good, because we don't want any American Chinese food. We want the real thing."1 They then ordered, and Dai delivered it. They paid cash. No problem.

Then they ordered again a couple of days later. Paid with either a check or credit card, I didn't get which. Again, Dai delivered to them. But this time, they called the restaurant a while later. "We ordered the chicken fried rice with no vegetables and the <some other dish> with no vegetables, and these have vegetables. We already ate them, but we think you should fix the order."

She complied, because they were really jerky, and she wanted them off the phone. They continued to do this night after night after night. They would call, Min would take their order, and Dai would deliver, and then they'd say something was wrong or that it never arrived, or that it was cold, and demand free replacement food.

The third or fourth time it happened, Min wrote out their exact order, the phone number and address, their names, and had them sign it before Dai left. They still tried to get away with free food. The badgering got so bad, Min told us they were keeping her on the phone for thirty minutes at a time, for up to two hours every night. Arguing about free food. Meanwhile, she's trying to run a business and take orders and seat customers, etc.

She told us that they had made some remarks about how the owners of the restaurant probably drove a bigger car and lived in a bigger house than this Miami douchebag and his douchenozzle wife. Very insulting stuff. And would demand to speak to someone who "spoke English."2

Which is where we came in. They know us well enough that they were comfortable asking us to do this. I wish I'd known the full story when I spoke to Mr. Douchebag and Mrs. Douchenozzle. I might been a little firmer.

Min said they seemed to be playing restaurants off each other, as well. Sometimes, they'd call, and it would be for another Chinese restaurant, like they couldn't remember which one they were trying to scam. When Min finally quit answering Douchebag's phone, he got Mrs. Douchenozzle to call from her phone. Or they'd call using the hotel phone.

After Min told us most of this, and where they were staying, I said, "But there are so many restaurants down there that they could walk to. Mexican, Italian, a burger place, a pub —"

"But if they did that, they'd have to pay. And all of those places speak English." This also explained the 'Are you from China' thing. They wanted to make sure no one there actually spoke English as a native language.

It was at this point that I wanted to punch Mr. Douchebag and Mrs. Douchenozzle in their stuck-up, bigoted, prejudiced, asshole faces. I was so mad, my hands were shaking. I'm not normally a violent person, but I might actually have done so if they'd been there trying to pull this crap in person. The nerve of people to try to get free food by pulling this kind of scam. And to be so obnoxiously racist while doing it was just icing on the asshole cake.

They never called back while we were in there. A good hour and a half. I hope they don't call back. Min said she couldn't block the number because they just kept on calling from different numbers.

May they soon go back to Miami whence they came, and trouble the good, hard-working Chinese restaurateurs of Lawrenceville no more. (And what I mean by this is "die in a fire, scumbags.")

[My guess is that they do this wherever they travel, picking on Asian restaurants. My bet is that they almost never have to pay for more than one or two meals. And I hope they choke on their chow mein.]



  1. It should be stated for the record that Golden Palace is very much an "American" Chinese restaurant. It is not authentic in any way, shape, or form, other than that the people who own and operate it are, in fact, native Chinese people. The food is very good, or at least we think so.
  2. I should also note, here, that Min has a distinct accent, but we get probably 95% of what she says, and we ask her to repeat if we don't. Dai . . . is less fluent, and we get maybe 60% to 70% of what he says, but we try to clarify, and context helps. Communication happens, and that's all that matters.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 01:09 pm
Evil emoticon by wstera2, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  wstera2 


This entry is part 6 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

So, first things first: Story time!

This is long, but it does at least tangentially relate to the rest of the post. So you should probably click it. )

Why did I tell that story? It will soon become obvious.

So. Back in October, we left our intrepid hero (me) with physical therapy appointments, finally. After a long, drawn out battle. I had my first six PT appointments. They seemed to help. I had a lot of exercises to do, and they all hurt like heck. But I did them.

And after six visits, it still hurt like heck, but there was a bit more mobility. But Some Company had approved "eight to ten," so we still had a little wiggle room. So we scheduled six more, and I went back to my doctor to get another order for PT, which he gladly gave me.

Fast forward to the tenth PT visit. Melissa told me that Some Company had told them they weren't paying for any more visits after the sixth one, because they had only approved eight to ten. (Don't think about this too long. I did, and I lost 7 IQ points, permanently. But I still remember Gilligan's Island episodes. Can't ever get rid of something that doesn't matter. But I digress.)

I pointed out that they had said "eight to ten," and that six is not equal to either eight or ten, based on my many years of mathematics. I mean, I'm not a nuclear physicist, but this is fairly easy math. But apparently not for Some Company.

We cancelled my last two appointments until they could straighten everything out, and Melissa said they had also sent in my doctor's request for six more.

I spoke to Jane in HR about the whole thing, and she once again got everyone involved, and Some Company said that they would, indeed, pay for ten full visits. Once we explained the math to them. And I don't even mean that facetiously. Jane had to actually say, "You said 'eight to ten,' and he had six, after which you refused to pay for any more. Six is not 'eight to ten.' He's had four more, and by your own agreement, you should pay for them."

But still nothing about the approval for the remaining ones my doctor felt were needed.

Then I got The Letter. <ominous chord>

In The Letter <ominous chord>, I was informed that a doctor I have never met in my life reviewed my case and decided that since I "had returned to work at full duty" (which I never left, I might add), further therapy was "not medically necessary," and that they would not be covering the last two visits, nor would they be covering any subsequent visits. Further, my case was closed, and that was the end of it, as far as Some Company was concerned.

I . . . might have exploded. All over anyone in audible distance. I . . . might have used some of those words I didn't use in 8th grade. I might, indeed, have invented a few new ones. And I might have marched, letter in hand, to HR.

The next email from HR — after Jane talked with Some Company and others — was that Some Company would be paying for the final two visits. They I would request my PT for a referral to an orthopedist. And we would go from there.

So, I asked the PT for a referral.

Crickets. When I finally got hold of them again (another week went by because I thought maybe they were mailing it), they said they didn't do that, and that Melissa was no longer employed there, and who was I again? I would have to talk with my regular doctor.

I went a few rounds on the phone with his office staff, as well, and basically found out that I can't trust his office staff to give him messages.

Finally, in frustration, I contacted HR again and got them to send me a list of 'approved' orthopedists. I picked one and made my own damned appointment.

Which was yesterday at 3 pm.

The first question he asked me was, "Has your elbow been x-rayed?" I said it had not. He made some remark under his breath that I didn't quite catch, and then sent me to get an x-ray.

They x-rayed my elbow. And developed the film. And put it up on the light box.

And from all the way across the goddamned room, I could see . . . something.

He called me closer. "Do you see this little dark line right here?" He pointed. I said I did. "That is the sign of a healed compression fracture. That's why your elbow has been hurting."

He said that fractures like this "always heal" and that the treatment is basically to keep using it as normal so you get full movement once it heals. But it would continue to hurt for 3 to 12 months. I assured him that I had been using the arm as normally as I could given the pain. He said that was good.

Well, that's nice to know.

He then wanted to schedule me for an MRI of my shoulder. Which meant I had to call Some Woman at Some Company and get that approved. I called, and it went directly to her voice mail.

Much amaze. So expect. Wow. I didn't even bother leaving a message.

A few minutes later, as I was checking out and the receptionist was getting ready to call Some Woman themselves, my cell phone rang. It was Some Woman! OMG! First call I've ever gotten back! Alas, I was so shocked that she had called me that I didn't manage to answer. But we knew she was at her desk. So the receptionist ("Martha") called her and got on the phone with her!

The conversation, edited to remove the back-and-forth between me and the receptionist, went something like this:

Receptionist: Hi, this is Martha at Orthopedists R Us. I have one of your clients in my office, and we need to schedule an MRI for him. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder. . . . He made the appointment himself; there was no referral. . . . He says he got our name from a list of approved medical professionals from his workers comp representative at work. . . . Martha . . . Orthopedists R Us. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder . . .

And it went on. Then, Some Woman apparently said she'd have to call back and let them know where to send me for the MRI.

Martha said she would let me know if and when Some Woman called her back. [I should note here, for the record, that the doctor and the nurse and the receptionist were all scandalized when I told them about the sixty days Some Company made me wait before getting PT. Apparently, that is not normal. My mishandling of the initial doctor visit is probably what it all stems from. Had I gone to an orthopedist from the get-go . . . but hindsight is 20/20.]

That was yesterday at 4 pm.

Another part of Jane's email from work says this: "Katie (the My Company workers comp program manager) will oversee / ensure that Some Woman is facilitating the approval in a timely manner."

What that said to me was that someone is now watching over Some Company and Some Woman in particular, and that I may finally get some reaction from them on a timely enough basis to do something about.

What? Why are you laughing? That's not very polite.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Monday, October 28th, 2013 02:27 pm


This entry is part 5 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

Shortly after the last installment in this mini-memoir of incompetence compounded with stupid, I got very involved in some projects at work, and thus did not do my due diligence by calling the physical therapist. I mean, Jane had told me they approved it, and said they would be contacting me. So . . . Some Woman at Some Company would surely call me at some point, right?

Right?

Wrong.

A week went by (for those keeping track, it was now October 10). I finally got tired of waiting and sent Jane another email. It was during Jane's week of vacation, and her 'out of office' automatic reply said that she would be unable to access email, and would be back on the following Monday (October 14th). Meh. So I'd have to wait another few days. At this point, what was another few days?

About an hour later, I got an email from Jane. She had checked her email, seen my (rather despairing) email and replied. She said she would look into it.

A couple of hours later, I got a phone call from Some Company (I could tell by the caller ID it was the same company), but a different number than Some Woman's. It turned out to be "Nancy" (not her real name) who was two levels above Some Woman. She was calling to let me know that everything had been taken care of. I was approved.

I paused, and then said, "But . . . how do I access it? I mean, what do I need to tell my physical therapist so they'll know whom to charge?" (I did not say 'whom' but it's grammatically correct and this is my blog. :) I was looking for . . . I don't know, some sort of paperwork? A number to call? Something physical that didn't exist entirely in electrons and the faulty memories of several people.

"Oh, they have the information. You just make an appointment and you're covered for 8 to 10 treatments."

I thought, "Yay!" and let myself believe it was actually over. And then those projects I mentioned above got hot again, and I got distracted.

On the morning of the 21st (a Monday), I had an item in the USMail from . . . the physical therapist. I opened it. It was a bill for $300. Um.

So I called, having intended to do so anyway to set up my remaining appointments. Only to find out that the reason they billed me is that my insurance rejected the claim because they still had no information from anyone about worker's comp. I asked if they had heard from Some Company, because they had told me . . .

Nope. Never heard of them. They only billed me because they hoped I might know who to actually contact.

I . . . might have blown my top. Just a small amount. Either that, or my outburst of expletives had nothing at all do with how very, very quiet it got in the surrounding cubes. I'm fairly certain it was just a coincidence.

I sent a very carefully worded email to Jane. It started, "I have officially lost whatever amount of patience I might have had left with these people. Can you arrange a conference call with you, me, someone from Some Company, and whomever here has been dealing with this issue? I don't trust them unless I have someone else listening." I also said, "I'm not interested in fault. I'll accept whatever blame there is to accept. What I want is an appointment with the physical therapist and to not have to pay $300."

So about 3 hours later, this call happened. And Nancy threw me to the wolves. As expected. I don't think she quite understood that I was in the room listening to the conversation. Because she had a pretty snotty tone until I did speak up and say something.

"On the 10th when I spoke to Mr. [Kaa], I indicated that he should ask to speak directly with Melissa [NHRN] at [the Physical Therapy office]. It was her that I spoke to on the 10th when I called. And, in fact, it was to her that Some Woman spoke this morning when she called to check on the disposition of this case."

Now, when I talk to these people, I take notes. Copious ones. And at no point did I write down 'speak directly to Melissa.' And my call to the physical therapist must have occurred before Some Woman called. It's nice to know that she does, apparently, call some people back.

But. What. The. Fuck. Ever.

Nancy agreed that Some Company would take care of the $300 bill if I faxed it to them. I called Melissa and made an appointment for the next morning.

I now have six more appointments scheduled. One today (Monday the 28th) at 4:30 pm, one Wednesday the 30th at 4:15 pm, one Thursday the 31st at 4:30, and three the following week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all at 4:30 pm. Since we couldn't do mornings, I opted for 'very late.'

So. That's why I'm arriving at work at 6:30ish am this week. so I can leave the office around 2:30 pm in plenty of time to battle Atlanta traffic to make the 45-minute drive in two hours. Or so I hope. We'll see, I suppose.

The only issue remaining open (Did you hear that? It sounded like . . . like an ominous chord. Surely just a mistake, right? Right?) is the $300 bill that I received and faxed to Some Company shortly after our conference call. To which I never received an acknowledgement.

But I'm sure that's just an oversight. I'm sure they got it. I'm sure they're, even now, as I type this, moving forward on that lickety-split.

Surely.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 11:57 am
Hurdles by .oskar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  .oskar 


This entry is part 4 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

After DEFCON 1, I realized that I was very close to saying something that would get me in hot water with either my own HR people or the people at Some Company. Certainly, calling Some Woman a lying, incompetent waste of human DNA would not have endeared me to her, that was all I had left. So . . . I punted up to HR and I backed the hell off.

I communicated with "Jane" (not her real name; the HR director) a few times, checking on progress. Which was slow.

Unfortunately, I had a slight incident with some data and lost several days of notes on this and other topics. So I'm working solely from memory, here.

On the 17th, pretty much out of the blue, I got a call from Some Woman at Some Company. She had, she said, just called the physical therapy place and was waiting on a call back from them. She said she would call me back and let me know the outcome of that call.

That was the last contact I had with anyone over this until yesterday. Not trusting my temper, I didn't write about it, nor did I do more than note to Jane in HR (and my boss) that I had had the contact and was very pointedly not expecting a call back, given our history.

Flash forward to this week. I finally finished the project I was working on and before I could get wholly sucked in on the next one, I decided to give Some Woman a call. Of course, I got her voice mail, complete with "I will return your call promptly."

I left a message for her to call me back, and you'd have to be either deaf or completely unable to judge tone of voice not to know that I've reached the end of my patience. I think my last sentence was something like, "Look, all I really need from you is just a call saying 'yes' or 'no.' Really. That's it."

I called the physical therapist's office. I asked if they'd had any contact with either Some Woman or Some Company. Can you guess their answer? Can you? Because I could. I already knew before I dialed.

They said they had heard nothing at all. I may have . . . voiced a tiny bit of frustration. She explained to me that because I checked the "work injury" box on my form, the insurance company would reject it instantly, and that the only other recourse I had was to pay for it out of my own pocket. I thanked her for the information and said I would try to light some fires on my end of things.

I sent another email to HR.

The last time I heard from [Some Woman] was on the 17th of September. She was going to call [PT Place] (the rehab place). She said she had left a voice mail and would let me know something after they called her back.

Well, you can guess the rest. I have heard NOTHING. Nada. Zilch.

I called [PT Place] today and they said they had no record of any such contact.

What is the progress from our end?


For about an hour after that, I typed and deleted several tweets to @SomeCompany. And another email to HR. And one to the corporate office at Some Company. All of them were, frankly, hostile and bordering on insubordination (hence the 'deleted' part). Finally, I just left the office.

This morning, in my email box, was the following from Jane.

[Kaa] –

I received a response back from our Account Manager and one of the team leads at [Some Company].

They have given authorization for 8-10 PT visit per the doctor recommendations.

You should be hearing from someone with [Some Company] – but I wanted to go ahead and update you on this information as soon as I had it. I'm so sorry for the issues that arose. Hopefully it will get smoother.


Victory? Maybe? I have a missed call on my work phone, but the phone system didn't record who it was from or when it was missed. Maybe it was Some Woman. More likely, it was left over from last night when the contractor who did my window replacement a couple of weeks ago called me about something. (My phone number rings both my cell phone and my office.)

Who knows how long it will take for all the pieces to align at this point, but after two solid months of trying, I finally got the one-word answer I've been asking for all along. I didn't honestly care if it was 'yes' or 'no.' I still don't. I just wanted it over and done with.

The moral of my story is this: Unless you want to go through all nine circles of the Inferno, all nine rings of Mount Purgatory, a detour through Mordor (which one does not simply walk into), and emerge doubleplus goodfully, loving Big Brother, you'll not report anything as an on-the-job injury. Take it from me: it's not worth the hassle. If I could go back in time to the 31st of July, I'd tell people at work I got hit by a car a block from work. I'd be done with PT by this point. And I would never have encountered Some Woman at Some Company, and my frustration would not now be co-orbiting with the ISS.


By the way, I'm so, so very sorry for putting that song in your head. I really am. Really.
kaasirpent: (DIAF)
Monday, September 30th, 2013 04:03 pm
I was at the mall the other day to take my computer to the Apple Store. My Macbook has been having problems, and I figured it was time to let the Geniuses handle it. I'm not being snide, here; that's what the employees at the Apple Store are called: geniuses. I had an appointment, and I was about twenty minutes early.

I parked as close as I could, which — as usual — was at the Belk store closest to the Apple Store. I successfully threaded the competing displays of Halloween and Christmas (Honestly, does this not make anyone else sick?) and made my way upstairs so I could go directly from the Belk just around the corner to the Apple Store.

As I walked through the mall, I noticed a big crowd of people downstairs from me. There was a lot of murmuring, squealing, and flash bulbs. But I didn't have time to loiter.

I made it to the Apple Store just in time for my appointment. I gave The Shiny (my MacBook) to the nice, bearded young man (Is there some rule that male Apple Geniuses all have to have beards?) named Paul. I explained what was going on with the computer and he said he would plug the diagnostic tool into it and let me know if it was something easy, like the graphics card or a bad USB port. Something fixable.

The Apple store was crawling alive with people. Must be something about the end of the month or back to school or something. He told me it would take about an hour if I wanted to wait. Well, of course I want to wait. I can't leave The Shiny overnight.

The withdrawal would be unbearable. :)

I couldn't stand being in the Apple store with all those people, so I wandered back down toward where there are some couches to sit and read on my phone.

I heard that crowd down below again, and figured, "Eh, what the hell. I have time to at least take a look."

There was a large crowd of mostly adults, but some older kids, and frequent flashes from cameras and squeals of delight. "Gotta be puppies or kittens or something," I murmured. "Maybe the ASPCA is sponsoring adoptions."

Then I saw the bright pink sign. A big cartoon close-up of a smiling, toothless baby, its blue eyes practically luminous. Underneath, it said, "PHOTOGRAPH WITH A BABY - $15"

"What the . . . ?" I edged a little closer to see what was going on.

There was a large, fenced-off enclosure. Inside there was a floor that looked like Pergo or linoleum of some kind. The floor was scattered with assorted toys, all brightly colored. Also inside the cage were a bunch of babies.

Yes. Naked babies of all races and both genders. They all looked to be of crawling age, although quite a few of them weren't crawling. Some of them were piled together, dozing, in a big pile of stuffed animals. Others were crawling lazily around on the floor. Adults wearing pink shirts were on their knees cooing to the babies, shaking toys at them and trying to attract their attention.

Dumbfounded, I pushed in a little closer, and got called a very unpleasant name by an older lady whom I apparently offended. I was just in time to see a woman with a couple of older teenagers point at a little Asian baby girl hesitantly crawling away from one of the pink-shirted adults with toys toward the pile of dozing babies.

A man standing in the gate gestured to the baby the woman had pointed at and raised his eyebrows. "That one?"

"Yes!" the woman exclaimed, bouncing on her toes. The man turned away and I heard her say to her two children, "Oh, isn't she just the most adorable little thing?" The boy rolled his eyes.

The man went over to the baby girl and unceremoniously picked her up. She started crying, but the guy held her under her arms, bouncing her up and down, and blowing in her face until she grimaced toothlessly.

"I don't want that one if she's going to be crying," said the woman with the two kids. She was frowning and both of her kids were starting to complain.

"Mom, what if she spits up?" one of them asked.

"Hush," she said. "These people know what they're doing, honey."

The man inside the cage must have overheard her. He smiled. "Don't worry, ma'am. I'm resetting her, now. She'll be ready for your picture."

I looked at the baby girl more closely. I could see her ribs, and it was clear from her pallor that she wasn't healthy. Snot ran out of her nose, and from the look of it, she was either drugged or so sleepy that her eyes were barely open, and her head lolled.

Meanwhile, other people were pointing at other babies. Some of them were waked from a sound sleep and, if they cried, given the same treatment as the little Asian girl. A couple were slapped on their bare buttocks or on the face to wake them up.

At one end of the cage was a mock-up of an idealized nursery. Rocking chair, toys, building blocks — it looked like a perfect baby's perfect room, right out of a movie set.

The woman and her two teenagers were led into that end of the cage and the teenage girl sat in the rocking chair, first.

"How do you want her?" asked the man, still holding the feebly protesting baby girl.

"Ew. I don't want her all naked. Can you put a dress on her, maybe? Or a bonnet? Her hair is ugly."

Her hair was, indeed, ugly. Matted to her skin and patchy.

I watched while the man expertly draped a too-large "dickie" of a bright pink, frilly dress around the squirming baby, and then tied a bonnet over her hair. It looked to me like he tied it too tight.

He roughly wiped the snot from the baby's face with a towel of questionable cleanliness and handed the baby to the girl, who held her awkwardly under the arms with both hands, a look of terror in her eyes.

The man stepped up and said, "No, like this." And he showed her how to hold the baby on her lap so that her face was toward the camera. "Do you want a bottle, or just go like this?"

"Like this," the girl said firmly.

The baby's head lolled and I could tell even from where I was that she was sleepy. The man grabbed her roughly and bounced her until she opened her eyes and blearily looked back at him. He then handed her back to the girl, arranged the dress and bonnet, and quickly stepped back to operate the camera.

Just a second before he snapped the photo, the teenager shrieked. "Ew! Oh, my God, mom! She peed on me!" The girl shoved the now-dripping baby away from her at arm's length.

The man sighed and came and took the crying baby. "Do you want me to get another one?" he asked.

The mother looked ready to spit nails. "No, we do not want another one!" She grabbed her daughter's hand and said, "Come on, Chelsea. Let's go get you cleaned up." She practically dragged the girl from the cage, followed by her younger brother.

The guy inside the cage ripped the dress dickie off the baby, pulled off the bonnet, and tossed the sodden pair into a bin. He handed the now wailing baby to another man, who held her up by one arm and sprayed her with a hose. I could smell the disinfectant from all the way across the cage. The baby was now wailing and crying loudly. I guess the water was cold.

I felt faint and ill. What the hell was going on, here? Was this even legal?

I elbowed my way back out of the crowd and worked my way around to the side where another employee of whatever this place was stood. He was wearing a pink shirt like all the others, complete with a grinning baby-head logo on the pocket.

"Excuse me," I said.

"You'll have to go to the end of the line, like everyone else, sir," he said without even looking up.

"No, I'm not in line. I just have a question."

He looked up at me, annoyance clear on his face. "Yeah?"

"Where are these children's mothers? I mean, are they — ?"

"It's all in the brochure." He shoved a glossy brochure at me. I backed out of the crowd and went to stand a few feet away near a support column and took a look at it.

"VAN DUREN FOSTER HOME" was emblazoned across the top in neon blue lettering. I quickly thumbed through it. Pictures of happy, grinning, fat babies being held and fed by what looked like older teens. Nothing like what was going on scant feet from me.

I started reading. They claimed to rescue homeless teens. They provide them sanctuary — a safe place to live, medical care, room, board, and clothing. Help them kick drug habits. Educate them. And any children born to them during their stay are taken to foster care, and also "displayed for public education and entertainment."

What?

So that's what this was. I wondered if the parents of these babies even knew what was happening to their children. I felt sick to my stomach. I ripped the brochure in two and looked for a trash can. How on earth can they legally keep this up? Why aren't there laws?

"Sir?" I turned around to face the voice as someone tapped me on the shoulder. An older woman smiled at me, crows feet around kind, brown eyes. "You look like you could use this." She held out a cup of water.

I took it. My hand was shaking. "Thanks," I said, then took a sip.

She held out a hand and I took it. "My name is Tricia Phillips. We're here protesting." We shook hands and she gestured toward a small group of about seven people standing over to one side, carrying signs. And being ignored.

She led me over to her group. They all welcomed me warmly, then showed me pictures they had of the Van Duren foster home. Teenagers living in barbaric conditions, not much better than packing crates. Barely big enough to move around in. No heat or air conditioning. Mud everywhere. Open latrines swarming with buzzing flies. It looked like a third-world refugee camp. No trees or any kind of shade. The teens' eyes looked dull and lifeless in the photos. Haunted.

"Those were taken about a week ago," Ms. Phillips explained. "A couple of former employees of Van Duren smuggled the pictures out to us."

As I flipped through the pictures, I noticed that most of the girls were pregnant. I commented on it.

"Yes, well . . . where do you think these babies come from?"

I felt sick again. "They're breeding them?"

She nodded, compassion in her eyes. "Some of these poor children are related, but Van Duren doesn't even care. They encourage them do whatever they want. We suspect they're drugged most of the time and aren't even aware of what they're doing."

"Holy shit," I said. "Isn't this illegal?"

She smiled sadly. "Well, of course it is. There are all kinds of laws, but they're seldom enforced."

I couldn't take my eyes off the pictures of the pregnant teenagers. So young. "What happens when, when . . . ?" I choked on the bile in my throat.

"Turned back out onto the streets. The infants used in these awful mall things end up in foster homes or wards of the state or worse. There are child pornography rings that pay good money for children as young as eighteen months."





I'm going to stop here. At what point did you figure out I was writing fiction? Are you appalled? Disgusted? Infuriated? Do you want to call me terrible things for being sick enough to come up with something this disgusting?

Because guess what? Take out the human babies and the homeless teens being raised as breeding stock and substitute tigers, and it's all true.

You read that right. All true.

There are places that set up in malls that allow the public to pay to have pictures taken with tiger cubs. Cubs that are very young and need proper nutrition, enough sleep, and whose immune systems aren't strong, yet.

These poor, innocent creatures are bred ruthlessly by people who claim to be "rescues" who operate "sanctuaries" for big cats. They claim to be working with conservation efforts, and that the only way to raise money for their good work is to take these cubs around for public display.

They claim that the cubs enjoy it. That blowing in their face calms them down. That holding them dangling from under their front arms and bouncing them up and down "resets" them. (What does that even mean?) That constantly being poked, prodded, handled, and grabbed by dozens of people, day in and day out for weeks at a time isn't harmful to them. That bright lights and flash bulbs aren't harmful to their sensitive eyes. They claim that they're well fed. That's it's 100% safe for humans and the cubs.

That the exhibitor is doing this to "teach people" not to have exotic animals as pets.

And they tell people that the cats will go to good homes when they get too big for petting.

Lies.

The reality is very different. They're kept in tiny cages, forced to breed constantly, and since white tigers are popular, they inbreed their stock to produce more of them. When they get too old, the cubs end up in roadside "zoos" where they are forced to lie on hot concrete in direct sun year round in a cage barely big enough to stand up or turn around in. Fed insufficiently and incorrectly. Given no shelter.

Often, they are killed for their fur and the body is cut up and sold illegally. There is good money to be made on the black market selling tiger parts, where they are prized for their supposedly magical properties. There are still countries in which the fur trade has no limits to the types of animals that can be used.

These cubs are torn from their mothers too early, causing distress to both the cubs and their mothers. They're not allowed to imprint naturally on their mothers, but instead imprint on their human captors. Babies of any species need lots of sleep, but these are not allowed to get enough. They are constantly poked and prodded to be kept awake. Tiger cubs want to explore instinctively. But when they try, they're restrained. They spend hours in small cages inside trucks being carted from place to place so people can have their pictures taken while petting or feeding them.

The cubs are constantly sick and often have diarrhea, which goes untreated, so the cubs are irritable and in pain from the constant wiping by their human captors. Those cute little "roars" are screams of pain.

I get apoplectic with rage over this. I've been trying to come up with a way to show how awful it is, and I finally came up with this. I hope it makes you think, next time you hear of one of these events. If you've ever been to one, stop. If you know people who do, show them this post. If a mall near you advertises such an event, contact the owners. Let them know what is really going on. Encourage them to pass.

And hopefully, everyone who reads this will follow this link to an article entitled "The Truth About Tiger Cub Petting Displays in Malls" from Big Cat Rescue, which is where I got most of the details for my little story above. No infringement is intended. Any mistakes in facts are mine, not theirs.

I'm not affiliated with BCR in any way other than that I contribute to them, and try to spread the word like I'm doing right now. I love big cats, and it makes me furious to hear how they're being mistreated. They're such beautiful, powerful, amazing animals, and yet . . . we treat them like garbage. But I believe it's mostly out of ignorance that we still permit this kind of thing to occur. We still want to believe the best of people, and when we're told that it's safe for the animals and that they're being taken care of, and all the money is for research and conservation, we want to believe it.

There is actually one part of the fictitious tale of human baby petting zoos that is complete fiction and is not based on the plight of these tiger cubs. There are few laws against this, or very few. There are laws, for instance, that regulate the ages at which these creatures can be exploited: 8 weeks to 12 weeks. Yet it is commonplace for these tiger petting zoos to ignore the regulations, because resources for enforcement are limited.

But there are bills in Congress to prevent any private ownership of several species of big cats. You can help get these laws passed. Contact your congressperson and representative.

Thank you for indulging me this far, and I do hope you'll keep this in mind for the future.

Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer: All names used are fictitious and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is unintentional. The names Belk® and Apple® are used to set up the framing story and are in no way affiliated or associated in any way with the kind of practice portrayed herein. As far as I know, there is no such place as Van Duren Foster Home, and the fictitious name was picked at random. If any such place exists, I apologize and will change the name. Big Cat Rescue does exist, and as stated, I am not affiliated with them in any way whatsoever. They had no prior knowledge of this post and were not consulted before publishing.




Originally published at Insert Something Pithy Here. You can comment here or there.

kaasirpent: (Enraged)
Thursday, September 12th, 2013 05:02 pm
DEFCON 1 by bovinity, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  bovinity 


This entry is part 3 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

I left messages with Some Woman at Some Company asking a simple question: Did you get the information my doctor's office faxed over to you on 9/11? It's a simple question. It only requires a simple, one-syllable answer: Yes (yay!) or no (rats!).

So, today, I got tired of it. Rather than wasting more time with Some Company, I decided to escalate things from my own side of things.

"Jane" [not her real name; manager of HR for my division of my company], I need your advice.

I know [My boss] has kept you up to date with the situation regarding my workers comp claim resulting from my fall on July 31st in our parking lot. The doctor sent me to physical therapy on the 19th of August, and there I found out that they can’t bill anyone until they know who[m] to bill, so I can’t schedule another visit unless I pay for the entire thing out of my own pocket.

That’s where [Some Company] comes in. They are, basically, holding my healthcare hostage while calls are not returned and while they ask for one more thing from my doctor, but they never contact me until late in the day or only after I’ve wasted days leaving voice mails trying to get hold of them. For instance, before I left for vacation, I asked the doctor to fax them what they said they wanted, and when I returned a week later, I called for two solid days before I finally got hold of [Some Woman], only to have her say, “Oh, your doctor hasn’t faxed the information I asked for yet.” I mean, at what point were they going to tell me this? I’ve had to make two personal visits to the doctor to get them to fax yet another document, and at each stage, I find out that [Some Company] needs just one more thing.

My frustration level is at DEFCON 1. How firm am I allowed to get with them? How far up the ladder am I allowed to push this, or will ‘let me speak to your manager’ even work with them? I’ve had it with them. At this point, I just want an answer from them, whether it’s yes or no, because by the time someone finally gets around to it at the rate they’re going, the PT will take longer because my muscles and tendons have gotten weaker.

This has been ongoing since the 20th of August.


"Jane" replied within twenty minutes:

[Kaa] –

I have submitted a ticket to our HR Support Center – the folks who are the HR benefits/workers comp experts. I have asked them to escalate this issue – and for someone to help intervene with [Some Company]. Stay tuned.

Thanks,
"Jane"

PS By the way ---- I am so sorry that you have been experiencing such frustration and difficulty with [Some Company]. Hopefully we can get this escalated to someone who can help.


So now the ball is in someone else's court. I'm basically done being the least bit civil. If Some Woman ever does call me back — which is not a foregone conclusion at this point — I'm tempted to say, "Please hold," and conference in our HR people. Let her explain to them what the hold up is in telling me whether a goddamned FAX made it or not.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 12:55 pm


This entry is part 2 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery: Part 1 | Part 2 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You may remember a post I made last month about how I injured myself in a fall at work. The doctor at the time told me that it was not broken, nor did I have any sort of rotator cuff injury, which were the two things I was most concerned about. I took Ibuprofen and basically went about my normal business, expecting my arm to get better.

Only it didn't.

I mean, it did, but not fully. By the 19th of August, nearly three weeks past the date I had fallen, I went back to my doctor and told him that it still hurt like hell to move my arm in certain ways <insert old joke "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Well, don't do that!" <laughter> here>, and that I was getting tired of not being able to use my dominant arm.

I must interject a "rest of the story" point or two, here. The first time I went to the doctor, I did not mention the term "worker's comp" or "on the job injury" or anything of that sort. I fell in the parking lot, it was no one's fault, and, hey, he said it would get better, right? I told my boss about the fall, and he duly reported it to HR. Who reported it to someone else, and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and eventually it made it up to the Office of Homeland Security. Or something. I am fairly sure the NSA was involved. I don't really understand how the whole system works (clearly), but the upshot is I got a call from Some Woman at Some Company who asked me a bunch of questions, expressed skepticism about workers comp paying if the incident took place in the parking lot (unless my company owns the parking lot . . .). She would call me back, she said, if she needed any more information. That was on, like, the same day I posted that earlier post.

So anyhoo, on my second visit on the 19th, my doctor referred me to a physical therapist down the road from his office. I called the number and made an appointment for the next day.

I went early on the morning of the 20th of August and within 5 minutes of having me perform various motions with my joints, the doctor took me over to a large anatomical chart showing the bones, muscles, and tendons of the arm and shoulder, and showed me exactly what I had done to myself. The gist is: tendons. I did bad things to the tendons that hold my upper arm in place so that it doesn't scrape painfully against my shoulder blade when I move it. The whole 'jamming' thing, probably.

He gave me some exercises to do every two hours, some to do twice per day, and sent me on my way.

On my way out, I paused at the desk to schedule my next appointment.

And that is when my tape turned crimson.Click to read the rest. )
kaasirpent: (Atlanta)
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 12:58 pm

There's a movement underway here in Atlanta to change our designation from The Big Peach to The Seattle of the South.

OK, not really, but there should be.

What really has me irked is Atlanta drivers. I know, I know . . . I've lived here for 14 years, now. You'd think I'd be used to them by this point. And I am. But being used to something doesn't mean you have to like it.

It basically goes like this, here. Maybe other places, too, but definitely here.

Weather: Sunny & hot

Drivers: Woohoo! 85 on I-85! 85 on I-285! 85 on I-20! Wooooooohoooooooooo! I don't actually mind this; I'm the guy in the right lane going the speed limit, leaving a gap to let people in, and making rude gestures where other drivers can't see them. So people can do whatever the hell they want.



Weather: Ice and or snow

Drivers: Woohoo! 85 on I-85! 85 on I-285! 85 on I-20! Wooooooohoooooooooo!



Weather: Wet. Or damp. Or slightly overcast. Or a bird flew over.

Drivers: PRECIPI . . . PRECIP . . . WET THING FALL FROM SKY! NO CAN GO FAST! GO 20! PEDAL ON RIGHT NO WORK. PEDAL ON LEFT GOOD! WAIT. LANE NO FAST! GO OTHER LANE. LANE NO FAST! GO BACK OTHER LANE! CAR EIGHT CAR FRONT PRESS BRAKE! SLAM ON BRAKE! SEE BLUE LIGHT WAY OFF! SLAM ON BRAKE! WRECK ON OTHER SIDE OF INTER . . . INTER . . . ROAD. STOP! IS BLOOD ON ROAD? CAR CRUNCH? OOOOOH. PRETTY CAR CRUNCH. PREEEEETTYYYYYY . . .


It is something I suspect I will never quite grok, no matter how long I live here. I live about 21 miles from work. On most days it takes me 26 to 34 minutes to get to work. On days where WET STUFF FALL FROM SKY, that goes to as much as an hour and a half, as it was today. Why? WET STUFF FALL FROM SKY.

There are days when 35 miles per hour would make me nearly wet my pants in glee. But I wouldn't. Because that would be WET STUFF FALL FROM . . . PANTS.
kaasirpent: (Annoyed)
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 03:35 pm
Thanks to a sudden, drastic uptick in the number of spam comments, I've temporarily(?) set my journal so that only people who are registered users of LiveJournal may comment, and anyone who is NOT a friend must fill out one of those annoying Captcha things. And anyone who is NOT a friend will have their comment automatically screened pending approval.

Sorry if that inconveniences anyone.
kaasirpent: (Spam)
Monday, October 1st, 2012 11:51 am
My spammers aren't even trying, anymore.

I've gotten a small rash of comments on LiveJournal in the last week that just make zero sense.

The purpose of a Spam comment on any sort of Internet forum-like thing is to get people to click the links and get infected by a virus, right?

So what person in their right mind would see something like one of these and think, "Oh, baby! I have to click that link right now!" [Note: Seen below exactly as they appeared except that I disabled the links by changing the http to an httQ, and inserted tree names into the link.]
Subject: bcxzmk beats baratos hrn2
PgsrAAXA [url=httQ://beatsbaratos.webnode.ELMes/]beats baratos[/url]
uqihMYOgv httQ://beatsbaratos.webnode.MAPLEes/
rxlioexfjc [url=httQ://beatsbaratos.webnode.BIRCHes/#2360]beats baratos[/url]
XZVvBotnr vmztuu [url=httQ://beatsbaratos.webnode.PINEes/]beats baratos[/url]
JlcDUOHIaqt

Subject: hlbgyi canada goose expedition parka wbm4
TfamSTAU [url=httQ://canada-goose-jacket.webgarden.SPRUCEcom/]canada goosejacket[/url]
pdgdPNMoo httQ://canadagoosevest.webgarden.CEDARcom/
djrofkduyx [url=httQ://canada-goose-jacket.webgarden.ASPENcom/#0646]canadagoose jacket[/url]
CZIbYrubi wbykro [url=httQ://canadagooseexpeditionparka.webgarden.WILLOWcom/]canada gooseexpedition parka[/url]
EncTJJVGtgk
Clearly, my normally savvy spammers have retired to Bermuda with their millions of dollars in ill-gotten Internet-booty and left these rank amateurs to take over for them. Random strings of letters? Please. Links formatted for an online forum (such as Simple Machines) instead of LiveJournal? Pathetic!

Rookie mistakes, my friends. Rookie. Mistakes. Frankly, I expected better from my spammers. I thought they cared.

Note: I screen all comments that come from anyone not on my friends list, and collect IP addresses. So you won't have ever seen these crop up. But believe me, the frequency has increased, lately.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Saturday, July 14th, 2012 10:00 am

I make no secret of the fact that I can't stand most people. Not you, of course; I'm talking about them.

 

I'm in Las Vegas for TAM, an annual meeting of skeptics from around the world. Vegas gives me lots of examples to illustrate my problem with people.

 

The buffet opens at 8:00 am on Saturday. I know this because I saw it on the huge sign that said "Saturday/Sunday Brunch -- 8:00 am - 3:00 pm."

 

When I went down for brunch, it was 7:34 am. No one was in line. I decided, "Eh, why not? I got nothing better to do for 26 minutes." So I got in line.

 

Immediately, people got in line behind me, as though they were waiting for a catalyst.

 

And what did every single person ask me when they got in line behind me? That's right! "What time do they open?"

 

I'd like to point out once again that I was standing right beside a huge sign that answered their question.

 

Then, they'd look at their watches and sigh. And about half of them walked away, grumbling under their breath about how they didn't have time to wait that long.

 

So, let's get this straight: you'll sit in front of slot machines for hours feeding them coin after coin after coin for hours, but a 20-plus-minute wait for breakfast is where you'll draw the line? Interesting.

 

Then we have the people who approached the buffet, walked past the line of people waiting to get in, cut in line in front of me and asked the cashiers, who were getting things ready, "What time do you open?"

 

Alternatively, those same people who walked past all the people waiting in line would then walk into the dining area and act stunned when they were then told, "We're not open, yet." What in the actual fuck did they think all of us waiting in line were doing, exactly?

 

Then came the pièce de resistance. A woman dressed in very nice cream-colored business clothes and a name plaque barged in front of the line and said, "I have a large party of six."

 

When told, "We open in 15 minutes," she said, "Can't we go ahead and be seated? I have a large party."

 

The cashier said, "Ma'am, we aren't open, yet. The line is over there."

 

The woman huffed off. A minute or two later, she comes back with a guy in tow. Once again she wants to be seated. Once again, she is told to wait in line. Once again, she huffs off. Finally, she comes back again and ends up convincing the cashiers that she will wait in line, but her party will wait in a separate line.

 

Grinning, she hurries off. Soon, five people, all in business clothes, break in line in front of me and are told, "No, your line is over there."

 

They go and instead of standing in their own, special line, they barge into the dining area, and have to be told, again, to form their own separate line.

 

And people wonder why I hate people.

kaasirpent: (Bad Idea)
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 12:03 pm
I just sent this via their web site.
It has recently come to my attention that American Airlines intends to air an interview with a woman named Meryl Dorey who is associated with an Australian organization called The Australian Vaccination Network. In spite of its name, the organization provides no solid, scientific information about vaccinations, but is instead dedicated to preventing people from vaccinating their children. Ms. Dorey is an HIV denier and also believes that doctors lie and poison babies.

It is an extremely dangerous organization that has come under serious scrutiny in Australia. Her claims have been proven false time and time again.

Given that last year, 100 AA passengers had to be tracked down, and more than two dozen quarantined, because a child infected with measles was brought on a flight, I don't see how you can, in good conscience, even consider airing such a thing. It is providing your passengers wrong, dangerous information.

I must therefore say that if you do air this interview, I will no longer consider American Airlines a safe alternative for travel, and will make sure that all my friends and relatives know why.

By propagating anti-scientific, anti-vaccination propaganda, you're making the problem worse, not better. Please reconsider your decision. I've never had reason to complain before now, but I feel VERY strongly about this issue.

Thank you. I hope AA will do the right thing.
Probably won't do a bit of good, but I mean it. If they air this pack of lies, I will no longer travel by AA.

For more information, read the Bad Astronomy blog. Don't let the name fool you: Dr. Plait defends all of science, not just astronomy. And anti-vaccination is bad science.
kaasirpent: (Enraged)
Monday, April 16th, 2012 07:56 pm
On April 2, I called Charter Communications because there was bright orange cable lying on the surface of the road at the foot of my driveway and stretched 100 feet or so down the street in front of my yard and that of two neighbors, awaiting burial.

The problem was, I had landscapers scheduled to come, and wanted to know when they were going to get it buried so that I could hopefully avoid the worst-case scenario of them coming to dig up my freshly sodded yard.

Remember that? And how convinced I was that it was going to go wrong? And how I mentioned that I'm not the customer with the work order? And how I mentioned that it would be 'the end of April at the earliest'?

The same day I posted that—the very day I made my prediction—I got a message from my housemate that someone was digging in the front yard, but they had dug up the grass (read: moss and weeds) and put it back. And the orange cable was gone.

That same day I posted that—the very day I made my prediction—the landscapers dropped off a bunch of equipment and some sample rocks for me to look at. Remembering me mentioning that?

The very next morning (April 3), the landscapers showed up and got most of the work done. They finished up on the 4th. The yard looks great . . . ish. The grass is a bit yellow because it hasn't completely "set," and although we are watering it frequently—as instructed—it still looks like a patchwork quilt.

That same day I posted that—the very day I made my prediction—the yard guy who subcontracted the landscapers mowed my back yard.

Flash forward to today.

We've been watering the lawn religiously. The landscapers painstakingly placed flags in the newly sodded yard to mark where the paint had been, because I explained the situation to them. But because Charter had already dug up my yard and buried the orange cable, I didn't think anything of it.

This morning, while I was changing the cats' litter, I noticed some paint on the mowed grass in the back yard. Again, I didn't think anything of it, because Charter was already done burying the orange cable.

So, at lunch, I got a text from my housemate. "Did you call Charter?"

Still thinking nothing of it, I replied humorously, "No. Was I supposed to?"

And I forgot about it.

When I thought to check my text messages a few minutes ago, I had another text from 3 pm. "Two guys were here to bury your loose cables in the back."

Suddenly, in a blinding flash of clarity, it all came together. A true satori.

I called Charter and spoke to someone whose name I neither got nor care to know. I asked him about the work order.

Yep. The woman to whom I spoke on the 2nd decided that I was asking for cables to be buried. I will stress that at no point during our conversation did I ever say "back yard" or "my cable." I specifically said "loose, orange cable" and "front yard." I specifically said that it wasn't my cable, and stressed that I was not under any circumstance asking for work to be done, but merely to know when the already-scheduled work was to be performed.

But no. What she did was, presumably while having all ten fingers inserted into her rectum, enter in a new work order to bury my "loose cable" in the back yard.

I . . . may have gotten . . . a trifle furious. Maybe. I said, "Oh, my fucking god, she couldn't have gotten that any more wrong if she had tried!" I asked him to make a note that she had royally fucked up, and . . . well, he got a little terse with me and hung up.

Does that sound a trifle furious? <shrug>

Now, here's the thing.

There was no "loose cable" in my back yard. There was some cable that was originally attached to the outside of the house, and some of that had come loose. I was planning on getting it reattached at some point, but . . . hey, it's cable.

That "loose cable" is my Internet line that goes directly into my home office to the modem and my router. That's all I have. I don't have cable TV or phone service, just 25M Internet.

So, now, thanks to the unbelievable idiot whose superpower is apparently "Opposite Hearing," my Internet cable is—presumably—buried, and if there is a problem at this point, they'll have to dig it back up in order to diagnose it. What I wonder is whether they had to actually pull new cable in order to get enough "loose cable" to bury.

<headdesk><headdesk><headdesk><headdesk><headdesk>

WHY CAN'T ANYTHING EVER JUST BE EASY? WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST LISTEN? WHY CAN'T THEY DO THEIR GODDAMNED JOBS? WHY OH WHY DO WE ALWAYS KNOW TO EXPECT THE ABSOLUTE WORST FROM THESE TOWERING EXAMPLES OF MORONITY?

GAH!

A haiku in honor of Charter Communication, their moronic customer disservice people, and their inner-rectal craniitis.
So fucking stupid,
Charter Communications.
Die die die die DIE!


I know a lot of you are, right now, saying to yourself, "Jesus, what the hell is he so furious about? So some cable got buried. Big deal." The big deal is that I never asked for this. What if she had misunderstood and canceled my service? I would now be on the hook for a disconnection fee and a reconnection, and who knows how long that would have taken? And it's not that much of a leap to imagine something like that happening. That is the big deal. And I predicted that something would go wrong because I have come to expect something to go wrong when dealing with these . . . people.
kaasirpent: (Annoyed)
Monday, April 2nd, 2012 11:56 am
Honestly, this is why I hate planning things.

Back when the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area was in the midst of a years-long drought, we were told not to water our lawns. I was the only person in my neighborhood who actually complied with that rule. As a result, all of my grass died, and what's on my front lawn is moss and weeds. Some tree roots are partially exposed. It looks awful, but hey. I'm not one of those people that has to have a golf-green lawn with all the grass the same height to 1/16".

I finally decided to do something about it because the top soil has begun to erode. I have a landscaper coming to lay some topsoil down, re-sod, and while he's at it, re-edge my flower beds with stone/brick and not the awful black plastic crap that's there, now, and to raise two of my sloping flower beds to level1, and wall them up with stone.2 Oh, and trim my trees so the sunlight can actually get to the new sod. Turns out plants need light. Who knew? :)

It should look so much better when done.3 He sent me an estimate, I approved, and he said he'd put it on the schedule. Yay.

Then, a couple of Fridays back, I came home from work to find that someone had strung 100 feet or more of DayGlo orange cable from one cable junction box (the one near my driveway) to another one (down the street). One of the distinguishing features of my subdivision when I moved in was that there had been cable lying across yards and in the street for years, according to the people I bought the house from. So, I didn't think anything of it.

Last Friday, I came home to find that someone had painted bright orange paint on my weeds in the front lawn. Presumably, it was Charter's doing, and they were going to bury that cable. Well, yay. Again, I didn't think anything of it, because I didn't know when my landscapers were going to start.

Today, I walked out to head to work and there was a small stack of three different kinds of landscaping brick4 on the driveway next to my garage door. Presumably for me to select among.5

I'm not an idiot. I know how the universe works. Inevitably, the landscapers will lay down my new sod and finish the rest, then—without any warning, because I'm not the customer who requested the cable run—they'll dig a trench through my new grass and mess up my yard to bury the cable. On top of that, when my landscaper replaces my weeds and moss with real grass, those painted lines will go away, so they'll have to paint it again and then wait longer, giving my new grass just time to get all rooted and settled in and happy. Before they dig it up.

Don't look at me like that. You know as well as I do that I'm right.

So . . . I called Charter Communications, hoping to get a date.

Stop laughing. It could have happened.6

Since I'm not the customer whose work order it is, they couldn't tell me anything concrete. She said that for 'bury jobs,'7 they have a month. Since the lines appeared last week, that means probably the end of April at the earliest.

<heavy, heavy sigh>

Planning. It's useless. The only thing I accomplished with the phone call to Charter (I was a lot nicer than I could have been, let me tell you) was to get her to add my phone number to the notification list on the work order so at least I'll know when they're going to dig up my lawn. Of course, this is Charter Communications. They'll probably call me after the back-hoe has already started the trench.8

I sent email to the landscaper asking him when he intended to start. Let's see if I can put him off until after they dig up my lawn to put down the cable.

Next time you wonder why I procrastinate, think of this.


  1. My front lawn is level to maybe 10 feet beyond my house's foundation, then it slopes rather precipitously down to the street. I'm guessing maybe . . . it's not quite a 45-degree angle, but I've never gone out there with a protractor to measure it.
  2. The flower beds—I have five sweet gum trees, several camellias, and some flowering bulb-things (I didn't plant them) in one, and a birch tree with what I think is crepe myrtle around it in the other—slope like the lawn. So they simply won't hold mulch for long. I want them level so they will. But to do that, he'll have to raise the front ends up to be the same height as the rear. That will take dirt and some sort of stone for the "retaining wall."
  3. I fully intend to take before/after pictures.
  4. A 'red' one, a 'concrete block' one, and a 'concrete block that's been dyed slightly brown' one. Don't ask me colors. :)
  5. I must have been in the shower when he brought them by because they weren't there at 7:30 when I took the cats to the vet.
  6. In what universe, I don't know, but it could have happened . . .
  7. I wonder if the guys doing it will have middle names of 'The'? You know, Vinny The Knife, Luigi The Undertaker, that kind of thing.
  8. I'm sure they don't use a back-hoe, but it's what I'm picturing, so I thought I'd go with it.
kaasirpent: (Spam)
Friday, March 23rd, 2012 04:04 pm
This post is about Spam. You may have gotten that from the ingeniously clever and subtle subject I worked very hard to craft.

Not too long ago—back in January, I believe—I was upset by the SOPA and PIPA thing. Enough so that I decided it was time to contact my congresscritters to give them a piece of my mind. Because I have so many to spare. (Pieces, that is. Of my mind.)

I used one of my several email accounts (myfullname@myisp.net) and wrote carefully worded emails to Senators Isakson (R - GA) and Chambliss (R - GA) and Representative Rob Woodall (R - GA).

Isakson and Chambliss ('s respective staffs) responded almost immediately with emails that actually addressed the subject of SOPA and PIPA. And that was the end of it. No more correspondences have been received from either of them since the responses to my original emails.

And then there's Representative Rob Woodall. Oh, Rob, Rob, Rob.

It took two extra weeks to get a response from Representative Rob Woodall (RRW for short). I guess his staff are less efficient, or perhaps they have more to do. I don't know and don't really care. The response I got back was . . . let's say, "only vaguely related to SOPA and PIPA."

And then, a week later, I got another one, that had nothing to do with SOPA/PIPA. And the day after that, another one. And two days after that, another one. And another one a week later.

In all, I've gotten one or two emails per week from RRW's office.

There was no "unsubscribe" link in any of them. It said at the bottom
If you have received this message in error, please disregard. Thank you.
I find it reprehensible that United States Code (Title 15, Chapter 303, Section 7704) requires unsolicited commercial emailers (That's Spammers to you and me, kids!) to include an opt-out or unsubscribe link right in the body of their Spam, but when I get email from a government official ('s staff), they're not. And the way they determine "unsolicited" is asinine. Apparently, since I contacted RRW, that makes it perfectly all right for him to automatically put my email onto some stupid Spam list.

So I visited his website and found an 'unsubscribe' link. Yay! I clicked it, gleefully. It had me fill out some information, and then I pressed a button and it was on its way! And now I would be—

<ding> You've got mail!

Hmm. It would appear that the 'unsubscribe' didn't work.
You are not subscribed to the NEWSLETTER-GA07 list under the address your message came from (myfullname@myisp.net). You are being mailed some additional information with a few hints on getting your subscription cancelled [sic]. Please read these instructions before trying anything else.
Well, those instructions were unhelpful and basically said, "You're on your own."

After another round of emails in the last couple of days, I finally called RRW's local office. I dutifully pressed 0 to talk to a real person, and waited on hold for a few seconds while my call was being routed to the correct department.

The man who answered sounded very friendly and helpful. I told him that I seem to have gotten myself onto some mailing list from which I could not easily unsubscribe, and asked if he could help.

Him: <sigh> "You're on the LISTSERV, correct?" [I could practically hear him rolling his eyes. I got the distinct impression—and this is just my interpretation, mind you—that I'm by no means the first person who has called to complain about this.]

Me: Yes.

Him: <sigh> "I'll need your full name and your email."

Me: <gives this information>

Him: <repeats the information correctly>

Me: "That's correct."

He told me he would get the information to the right people and asked if there was anything else he could help me with. There wasn't, so I hung up after thanking him and wishing him a nice day.

So, why was the process so easy for the senators and so stupidly, nonsensically complicated for the representative? Is this why it took two extra weeks to get a response? Because his staff is busy taking phone calls from the last few hundred people stupid enough to email him?

So here's a helpful tip: When emailing a government official, do what I should have done and create a throw-away email so that you can do just that: throw it away. It's easier than jumping through the hoops. I recommend Sneakemail, by the way. I've been using them for many, many years, and I can't recommend them highly enough.

This experience demonstrates why you should never, ever give out your real email. Give them a Sneakemail address and have that forward to your real one. And if you get spam on the Sneakemail address, delete it and create another one. Easy!

Why didn't I? Because like an idiot, I thought elected officials had to abide by certain rules of ethics. Yeah, I know. I'll never make that mistake again.

And now to try to figure out why the Spam on another of my accounts has increased by about 500% over the last month or two.

It's a never-ending battle.