Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tag - I'm It!

Indiana Jane got me. On a book meme, of all things. Now when was the last time I read anything of any relevance? Hmmm, this ought to be interesting.

1. One book that changed my life:
Everyday Will I Bless Thee, Meditations for the Daily Office by Burnell F. Eckardt, Jr. (I couldn't link directly to the book. Click the link and then open the catalog, and look for "Eckardt" in the Adobe Acrobat search function - hint: click the binoculars.)

Aaaah, finally, a devotional that fed me law and gospel, and didn't try to a) make me feel good about myself or b) confound me with convoluted, existential rationale. I had trouble with it at first, after previously using Portals of Prayer (a Lutheran devotional), Daily Bread (a Reformed devotional) and My Utmost For His Highest (this one was tough to swallow). But I couldn't turn back after making it through the season of Advent.

Talk about marvelous exposition of scripture! I received a fresh, relevant sermon text every morning.

2. One book you read more than once:
Nope, can't leave it at one.
#1 - see my answer to #1
#2 - Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis Good in 15-minute increments, otherwise it was overwhelming to me. Excellent, though, if you need to start with a secular understanding of religion as you try to explain your Christianity to someone.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:
Excluding the requisites, The Bible and Luther's Small Catechism (the older the version, the better), let's try anything by Bill Watterson for $1,000, Alex. (Watterson is the creator of Calvin and Hobbes.)

4. One book that made you laugh:
Candide, by Voltaire

5. One book that made you cry:
Um, the unwritten book about the failure of Cleveland sports teams to win any championships since the 1960s (indoor soccer teams excluded).

A book has never made me cry.

6. One book you wish had been written:
Christianity for Dummies - man, when you care about your doctrine, and have to unlearn all the wrong that you ingested previously, and want it - FAST...oh, I found it; it's called Luther's Small Catechism. ;-)

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Nope, gotta go with two again:
#1 - The Koran
#2 - The Purpose Driven Life

What's the difference if the goal is how I have to please God? I am a sinner, and even my works are as filthy rags. And when I do good, and I have pride in myself for doing it, I sin again (duh!). 'Nuff said.

8. One book you're currently reading:
Best Practices in Project Management, by Harold Kerzner

A good cure for insomnia, but important for my development as a project manager.

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
Paradise Lost, by John Milton (in book form, not online form)

10. Scariest book you've ever read:
N/A series you've ever read:
Incarnations of Immortality, by Piers Anthony're it:

Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, John Bonham, Bon Scott, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoades

Monday, August 28, 2006

On the Cutting Edge

...of nothing, actually. Another blog for your reading enjoyment, separate but equal to the fun, frivolity and fury of this one.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


***Update, 8/28 ***
Thanks to - or no thanks to - TS Ernesto, I am not going to Florida this week. We did, however, finish testing our distaster recovery procedures on our financial systems today. Nothing like waiting until the 11th hour, but we got it done.

Song selection
: thanks for all your help on the tunes. I've gotten some good ideas, and the band settled on a couple songs while I received your input. We added (or chose to finish learning):

  • Hang on Sloopy (it's an Ohio State thing)
  • Is She Really Going Out With Him - Sugar Ray version
  • Somebody Told Me - The Killers
  • Black Horse and a Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
  • Let's Get It Started - Black Eyed Peas
  • Cleveland Rocks - Presidents of the United States version (a.k.a. Drew Carey version)
Man At Work: I've become a hurricane watcher again. Tropical Storm Ernesto may wreak havoc with my plans to go to company headquarters this Tuesday thru Friday. Headquarters are outside of Ft. Lauderdale, so I will be watching this one closely. (So will Mrs. Quipper.)

And if I do go, I'll get home just in time for the next Running In Circles gig at the Tequila Ranch, in Cleveland on Friday night. (p.s. check out the site, and drop us some comments in the guestbook on the new look.)

She Said, He Heard: the Quipper family went to a restaurant for Lupper (lunch/supper) today, and the kids each got a chocolate chip cookie with their meal. Dialog between Mrs. Quipper and the Engineer:

- Mrs. Quipper: would you like to give some of your cookie to daddy?
- Engineer hears: give up some of your chocolate, or else!
- Engineer responds: NO THANK YOU!

Needless to say, the Artist couldn't finish her cookie, and I got the rest of it. :-)

My "rock profile": borrowed from Mrs. Quipper, who borrowed it from Scottius Maximus. Whodathunkit.

Your Taste in Music:

80's Rock: Highest Influence

Hair Bands: Highest Influence

Alternative Rock: High Influence

80's Alternative: Medium Influence

80's Pop: Medium Influence

It would have been nice to see more variety in the selections, though. I didn't like 90s music in the 90s, and still don't rate it that high on my list. But, with the options I had, this was how I rated.

I probably will not be posting again until I wake up after the Tequila Ranch gig. I hope to comment on other blogs as time and company permit.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lost - please help!

Thirty-something male and his five friends are looking for a lost treasure. They have looked near and far, high and low, but to no avail.

The treasure: good, clean, danceable commercial rock and roll of the current variety.

As the band tries to find newer songs to play, we are facing a dilemma: hip hop, or postmodern rock? Hip hop does not really fit our talents. Postmodern rock is not really dance floor material, and its lyrics exceed my vulgarity threshold.

We excel at finding songs 15+ years old (Go Gos, Romantics, Ramones, Wild Cherry), and are relatively successful finding songs 8-15 years old (early No Doubt, Blink 182, Sheryl Crow) . Songs by bands like Franz Ferdinand are remembered by the younger crowd, but aren't danceable. Conversely, we are not geared toward sampling and scratching, so radio-playable songs by Outkast and Rihanna don't fit for us.

If you know of any songs that are a little newer, and would fit a lily-white, suburban rock & roll band that attracts the same types at their shows, please pass them along. Or, if you don't, ask your teenage and college-aged kids or your baby-sitters. (The qualification was necessary: I could see suggestions for songs from the big, purple one, the Wiggles, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Veggie Tales.)


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Links

Please welcome My Utopia and Jonathan's Miscellaneous Ramblings to my links. My Utopia helps me keep up with my House, M.D. fix among other things, and JMR has run into us Lutherans in droves already, as he indicates in this post.

Please also see the highly coveted, highly revered link to CLC Radio (Christ Lutheran Church Radio), where Mixmaster Scott is serving our church's bible studies and sermons as podcasts. The concept is in the beginning stages, so Mixmaster Scott and The Deacons will be working to improve sound quality as time and resources permit.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Broad, part II

Well, after 90 minutes on the phone with four different support reps on Sunday night, Earthlink today says my problem is "fixed". Interesting, because I've lost the connection at least three times in the last half hour, and they closed the helpdesk ticket without confirming with me first. Now, I get to call them back, learn what they "fixed", and remind them that they didn't actually fix anything at all.

Baby bro of Elegantly Wasted fame also does DSL setup work out in Hollyrock, USA. He's patiently tried to touch base with me for the last two days to help me do some self-diagnosis. Guess who I'm calling next?

And then AT&T right afterwards.

Then Earthlink. If I care by that time.

***Update, 22:05, August 22

I called baby bro, received new info, and decided to call earthlink next. While doing so, I finally got a connection during which I could download my e-mail. Here is an e-mail that earthlink sent to me this afternoon:

Dear "Quipper",

You contacted us recently concerning your EarthLink High Speed Internet access.
We have taken the necessary steps to resolve your issue and your service should
be fully restored. Your ticket will now be closed, however, if you are
continuing to experience an issue with the service, please contact us toll-free
at 1-866-794-4371 and reference Trouble Ticket # [xxxxxx]. We will be able to reopen your ticket within 2 weeks of the closing date.


Ticketing Response Operations Network

This matches the voice mail I received from earthlink, probably around the same time.

20:15-21:00 Phone conversation with earthlink. Here is the crux of the conversation:

EL: So, the phone company says there is a problem.
Me: What problem, you closed the ticket.
EL: We closed it because you didn't call us back in two days.
Me: I received a message telling me to call your 800 line, so I could get an update on my ticket. I called, and the message said "we are still working with the phone company". I called twice over a 24 hour period. I received a second message telling me the ticket was closed. Why?
EL: Because you didn't call back after 3-4 attempts to reach you.
Me: I counted three - one for status, and two to tell me the ticket was closed.
EL: Oh. Well, we keep the ticket open for two weeks, and reopen it if you still have problems.
Me: Well, I still have problems. (I rant about the inadequacy of their helpdesk practices - both manual and system processes - and he proceeds to argue with me about how good they are. I remind him of the dialog we just had.)
EL: That's why you needed to call back. We needed you to tell us whether you still had the problem. (Translation: we were too lazy to check for ourselves before we closed the ticket. It costs too much money to confirm everyone's problem has been solved.)
Me: Then why did your messages say the problem was solved? Fix your helpdesk system.
EL: I will make a note of it. (He said this a lot.)
I find out that I am in range for viable DSL service, and that the "phone company" deemed there was a problem with the line. They couldn't say that on the e-mail or voice message, though.
EL: Okay, I've got the phone company on the line. They can send someone out tomorrow.
Me: Make it after 5:30pm, so I can be home and watch what the tech does, ask him questions, and make sure he gives me intelligent, detailed responses.
EL: Okay, let me confirm with the phone company...okay, they can't guarantee they can do that.
Me: Fine, they need to deliver me a full report - IN ENGLISH, NOT TECH-SPEAK, so I can review it.
EL: Okay, so you will have someone at home tomorrow when the tech arrives, right?
Me: (fuming) So you won't accommodate my schedule, but I have to accommodate yours? I don't think so. And if I don't understand the report, I'm calling them back at a time that is convenient for me. Did you happen to read the part of the ticket that says this is my last-ditch effort to remain with earthlink?
EL: That's not in the ticket.
Me: I only told that to four people on Sunday night. None of them put it in the ticket?
EL: No
Me: Well, I am stopping service by the end of this week if this isn't resolved to my satisfaction.
EL: Okay, we will have the tech response tomorrow. Call us so we can give you the answer.
Me: (double fuming) No. You will call me when you have a response. You will not make it my responsibility to follow up with you.

I'm not trying to manufacture traffic to my blog, but people who are considering earthlink as their broadband carrier should think twice. Feel free to route people to my post on the problem, or copy/paste the events and distribute as you'd like. Their service was spotless for over a year - not one call to their customer service department. In the last eight months, it's been increasingly worse.

&#*$^# !

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Jilted by a Broad

Warning!!! Double entendre overload.

You remember your first time, don't you. The preconceived notions of how good it would be. Stories from friends. Husbands and wives blushing over their excitement at their own recollections. The smooth, the crazy, the joyful.

Then your time finally arrived. The anticipation, the tingling from head to toe. The craving, the desire, the almost supernatural ability to block out all distractions, and focus on making it to this biggest event at this time in your life, the one that would change things forever, come hell or high water. Nothing would top it. Even if it wasn't all that you had dreamed, life would still be better - more romantic, more passionate, more fulfilling - afterward.

Yes, that was my experience, too. And it was everything that I expected. And, man, oh, man, was life good afterwards.

At least for a while.

We had a marvelous relationship: me and the Broad. But she, a mature adult, decided to start acting like a ungrateful teenager. Oh, she still looked good, and could deliver the goods when she felt like it. But, she left my side at the most inconvenient times.

First, it was only during prime time - she loved the commercials at the top and bottom of the hour, and left me alone while she sat in front of the tube. Then, she forgot to come back after the commercials. It was almost as though she forgot her long-term commitment to me. Okay, so it was on a pay-as-you-go basis, not exactly the way long-term relationships are built, but it worked. I would stay faithful to her, if she would stay faithful to me.

I learned later that she started offering her wares - in different varieties - to willing suitors. Then she started offering them to me, like she did the others. Fulfilling these offers made her weak, unable to maintain the stamina she once had.

Then, it got worse. I had to start tricking her. Waking up hours before work, just to have five minutes of her time. Yes, I admit, it was a fix. I couldn't live without her. But, she started catching on. She'd sleep when I would awaken. She'd tease when I didn't want to be teased. She'd drive me mad!

Now, I don't know when I'll see her next. It could be tonight, for blissful, joyous hours on end. Or, it could be for 30 seconds every fifteen minutes, if at all.

I've spent hours with her personal counselors, who practice out of India of course. The hours on the phone for no benefit were disconcerting. The counselors just didn't understand the commitment. They told me to give her more affection - a new interface, per se - and it would do wonders for our relationship. They said I should lower my expectations of her. After all, she oversold herself to me, and I was giddy enough to fall for it. I even brought in my own mediator, but she wouldn't even talk to him. We just didn't connect. One of her counselors even told me that I was out of touch - out of her range, actually - although I never moved. Somehow, our communication degraded over time. The proximity was the same, but the distance had changed. Too bad, so sad.

So, as much as I would like to believe that it is me terminating this bad relationship, I know this Broad jilted me a long time ago. She has so many others already, and really doesn't care about me. Oh well, it's time to move on.

Wait a second! Just WHAT do you think I'm talking about?

I'm talking about my relationship with Broad B. Ahnd and her counseling crew, EarthLink.

The Broad, at least the one offered by Earthlink, will be replaced soon.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Results Are In...

This will probably be my longest blog. Ever.

Thanks to those of you who took the test. Several folks commented to me off-post as well. The responses were good, but not what I expected in most cases. However, if I were to grade on the all-American "bell curve", I would say that one person got an 'A', one person who only gave a sarcastic reponse got a 'B' for being on the right track, and well, everyone else received a grade. :-p

Note that all three scenarios were true. Nothing was added to or removed from them. The fact that all three scenarios occurred, and specifically, how scenarios 2 and 3 were reported in the news, were my reason for creating the test.

In any event, here are the answers:

1. What is common in all three scenarios?

The answer to this one was easy to overlook, because we do it every day. MyUtopia hit it; Favorite Apron was close when she labeled, er, profiled, the "Dearbornistanians". The commonality? You profiled the people in all three scenarios, probably subconsciously. Note that this profiling really had nothing to do with the outcome of each scenario. I really didn't even need to provide any details about weapons, bags of ice, or flight rosters; I just needed to provide the characteristics of each person, and their location relative to their expected location. Also, any subsequent details relating to each story would have been irrelevant to the first question. By the time I described each person, you profiled them.

Why did you do this? Isn't that an awful, terrible thing? Aren't you a bigoted American if you do that?

It's common, it's appropriate, it's how you learn. You take an observation, compare it against
what you already know or believe, and classify it. If the observation matches your beliefs, it reinforces those beliefs. If it differs from your beliefs, then you retain that information as an exception. What you do with that exception is up to you. Gather enough exceptions, and you may challenge your own belief.

Regardless, you use what you already know to discern the information presented in your new observation. The descriptors I used in each scenario should have made it easy for you to profile each person.

I'm not offended that you profiled the person in scenario #1. For those of you who know me, it is me. And, no, I don't "hang" with Jeffrey Dahmer. :-)

2. Which scenario is not like the other two?

I regularly joke that I like to use my talents for good, and not for evil. So, using that theme - the talent: profiling; use: good or evil? - let's dissect the three scenarios.

1) White male, traditional conservative Christian. The bane of all problems in America; at least, to tolerance-loving America. Bible thumping, proselytizing, prudish, kill-anything-that-moves, flag-waving American. Nope, can't have that. Media and post-modern worldview: baaaaaad, very bad, the most evil class of person in existence.

2) Black male, wrong place, wrong time, wrong "implements". Guilty before proven guilty. But wait, we don't know his motive. He's just a poor, innocent malcontent, again in the wrong place at the wrong time. His family said he's never been a bad kid, so this is just an unfortunate circumstance. Media and post-modern worldview (if it were anyone other than Maurice Clarrett): give him a chance, he's misunderstood, and really wouldn't hurt anybody.

3) Arabs from Dearborn(istan), in rural Ohio, finding places to buy track phones and having dozens of flight rosters. They believe in the "religion of peace". Again, don't assume they are bad, just because they had all the right tools to wreak havoc within the U.S. We must try them through the U.S. courts, run through the legal process, and not offend anyone. Media and post-modern worldview: Again, circumstantial evidence, how dare we automatically
link these two off-beat nationals with all other jihad-inducing Muslims?

So, which one is not like the others? The white male, who is negatively profiled from a social perspective. However, he is not a risk to national or state security, and would more often than not, not think about hurting a fellow human being.

In the other two scenarios, though, we are asked, almost mandated, not to profile, but to grant the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, in both of these cases, the men are a risk to national security or the general welfare of their fellow man. They may not be guilty, but wouldn't you rather retain them and learn that before taking the risk that they were going to do something awful? Since I am a Project Manager, let me put on my PM hat: when did it become acceptable, in the course of events, to ignore risks and not work to eliminate them?

Conclusion: profiling is appropriate, when used appropriately.

  • Two Arabs in a car, minding their own business, having no artifacts that could be used to propagate distruction? Leave them alone.
  • Black man, making a u-turn at 3am may have committed a traffic violation, but no weapons in the car? Give him a citation, and, if he's not drunk or high, let him go.
  • White man, flying under radar, except for all those 6' deep holes in his backyard?
Just kidding about that last one. :-)

When used to advance social causes, it is inappropriate; when used for national security, it is altogether appropriate.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Customer Service, American Style

This really happened to a co-worker within the past week. Enjoy!

I thought I would share with you my experience with the offer that is posted for Sprint outside the HR office. Last week during my lunch I signed on and ordered a new phone. Within hours I received a shipment confirmation and the next day they hit my credit card for the cost of the phone.

Well, yesterday I got a bill from Sprint for service on the phone that hasn't arrived yet, as well as the price of the phone! When I called Sprint I was informed that I should not have been charged until the phone is activated, but the phone is on backorder and it will be awhile before they can ship it - remember they sent me a shipment confirmation last week. Since I felt this was a pretty bad business model, I asked that they cancel the order, which they promptly did.

After canceling the order for the phone, they transferred me to a different department to cancel my service. At this time I was informed that they can't cancel my service until after I activate the phone. Activate the phone? I don't have a phone to activate, and they have already cancelled the order for the phone. I explained this to the CSR, who informed me that once the phone arrives I should take it to my local Sprint store to have it activated, at which time I can then call back and they'll send me a return kit.

OK, lets see if I have this straight... once the phone arrives, that never will because I cancelled the order, I should drive out of my way with the phone I don't have to a Sprint store so that they can activate it. Once they activate the non-existent phone, I should then call back to get a return kit so that I can send you back the phone I don't have. Once you receive the phone, you will cancel my service? Yes she replied - and then reminded me that if I don't return the phone within the 30 day money back period they will charge me the $200 early termination fee.

I'm thinking the 24% discount isn't worth it - but I could be wrong.

The Answer To The Questions

The questions are:

1) When is Running In Circles' next gig? and
2) Where?

It's tomorrow at the Boneyard in Mayfield Heights. The Boneyard is at the corner of Mayfield and Richmond roads, where the old (pick one) Mayfield Theatre, Barnes & Noble and DSW used to be.

We will start performing around 10:30pm (not the usual 10:00pm starting time - proprietor's request). We look forward to seeing everyone there.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is a test (but real, too)

Here are three scenarios that occurred over the last 2-3 days.

1) White male, upper 30s, confessional Lutheran, registered Republican but wanna-be Constitutionalist, living in a middle-class suburb in midwest America - buys two bags of ice from the corner gas station/mini-mart.

2) Black male athlete, lower 20s, residence unknown, born and raised in a lower-class neighborhood in northeastern Ohio - after making a u-turn at 3:00am around Columbus, OH, he is caught by police with an assault rifle, three or four handguns, an axe, and a bottle of vodka. When police try to taser him, he doesn't budge. Why? He's wearing a flak jacket.

3) Two Arab males, probably mid-20s to mid-30s (I don't remember), Muslim, from Dearborn, MI - during a routine traffic stop in Marietta, OH - a rural, southeastern Ohio town - they are caught with over 40 track phones, lists of flight rosters, and a map of all the WalMarts in the region.

Now, here's the two question test:

1) What is the commonality among all three scenarios?
2) Based on your answer to #1, which scenario is different from the other two, and why?

Your answers will be graded over the next week, and the teacher will publish the correct answers before August 22.

Prof. Quipper

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Drive By Thoughts

Since I am the drive-by Quipper, here are some drive-by thoughts:

  • We practiced yuppie survivalism today. (See this site for the real thing. Scott, you do us proud.) Our fridge gave out today - or yesterday night, but who really cares when it happened. We pulled out our coolers and tubs, filled them with ice, then with food. Survival, kind of like yuppie camping is downgrading from the Sheraton Suites to the Hampton Inn.
  • While I cooked a dozen brats - of which nine ended up in one of the coolers - Mrs. Quipper and I engaged in extreme blog reading. I read over her shoulder, and she navigated. See, who says your professional talents can't be used at home? :-)
  • Have you been watching Last Comic Standing? I believe the two finalists - Ty Barnett and Josh Blue - are the best two comics, based on laughs, belly laughs, and content. But, one question persists: if one loses, do their fans complain of bigotry or racism?
  • And finaly, an instant classic by Des Moines Girl. So many good points, all done with humor.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lock 'n Load

If you've read Mrs. Quipper's site, you learned that we took a mini-mini vacation to cleanse the palate this past weekend. The weekend refresher was a great opportunity to basically do nothing, and have a good time doing it.

Why the need for a refresher? After a decade and a half of relative success in I.T. - in technical, supervisory and project management roles - I ran into an immovable obstacle, and learned more about my strengths and weaknesses in the past six months than I did the whole previous time in my career.

I started a new job with a previous employer today. Thankfully, I was received with open arms, and hit the ground running. It will be difficult for me to put the best construction on the events that occurred at my last job, so I am telling everyone to wait until I write the tell-all book that will never be written.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What Did She Just Say?

The Quipper family went to a restaurant after church on Sunday, and the waitress said the oddest thing:

"If you need anything, my name is Gina, and I'll be serving you. Just call me and let me know."

I'm a tech-head, computer programming-type. My thoughts follow logical paths (most of the time, anyway). So, my question is: what's her name if I don't need anything?

It's just as good as, "well, if I don't see you again beforehand, then have a good vacation." What am I supposed to make of THAT?!?