Tag Archive: fun


The Power of the Consumer.

I know that this post comes late, but hopefully you won’t call and complain. That last sentence will make sense in a moment.

This post is about what power we, the consumer have. In this economic time, most are willing to do whatever they can do to keep their customers. For example, the average person spends $350,000.00 at Wal-Mart in their life. If Wal Mart makes you angry and turns you away, then they arent losing a small transaction, they are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars! We forget that we hold hundreds of thousands over the manager’s heads and too often let poor service pass along.

Without giving too much information, I just want to say that Joanna and I were treated very poorly (on several accounts) by Verizon, our cell phone provider. So when my (already defective) phone quit working a few weeks ago, I decided to bring it in. I was told that I had no options, and that the defective phone I was sold was as good as trash. No repair, no replacement phone, no ‘Im sorry’, just another rude person who couldn’t care less.

I now had to decide between shelling out hundreds for an ok new phone that might be just as awful as my last, or buying a cheap refurbished one that was made ten years ago. Now I love taking .5 megapixel pictures, but I am cheap, and I feel that I already pay too much for a phone that has barely worked. This was the last straw, and my stingy side took over.

So I set out to write some emails. Through some extensive investigation, I found the emails for Verizon’s CEO, President, Head of Customer Service, and the Mid TN Distrit Manager. I sent them essentially the same email explaining my past experiences, and telling them that I was considering terminating my contract. I did my best to be professional, but at the same time explain how and why I was so upset. I sent the email

Then, last week I got a phone call from a very nice woman that had received my email. She apologized for my experiences, overnighted me a new phone for free, and gave us a discount on out next phone bill. She was understanding and apologetic, promised to call the store I went to, and made sure that I was a satisfied customer before she let me off the phone. I honestly felt that I could have demanded free service for life and she would have made it happen.

Now you might be asking me how do the same thing. My first piece of advice is not to go out looking for something free. I never at any point thought that I should try and work this company over for some free stuff. I was treated poorly, and simply wanted to exercise my power as the consumer. If all I got was an apology, a promise to follow up with the staff, and a free repair on my dumb phone, then I would have been happy. If you have been treated poorly, then here are some tips for you:

1 Remember names and times. Even if I’m calling Comcast to ask about a $2.00 charge on my bill, I always take note of the date and time. This helps add validity. Think about it; “Tammy cussed at me and threw a pair of shoes at me last night at 9:00” means that they can verify that Tammy was working last night, and that she was in the shoe dept.

2 Dont yell. Whether you are making a phone call, or you are writing an email, stay calm. Be sure to convey that you are upset, but if you start yelling, or writing swear words, then you are only making yourself look unprofessional. Not to mention, its just tacky.

3 Use the internet. I’m serious, check out their website, read news articles on customer service and stock, and google ‘how to complain about my netflix picture quality’. You never know what you will find.

4 Use Social Media. I tweeted about waiting for a Fedex package, and an actual Fedex representative tweeted at me in minutes! My sister told me about an old woman that made a youtube video talking about Sears’ awful warranty repair guys, and Sears sent the guys to give her a new washer! These companies hire people to watch what people are saying about them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Myspace (ok, no probably not Myspace). I wouldn’t doubt it that someone from Verizon, Fedex, Wal-Mart, or Comcast will probably stumble onto this post without me ever knowing it.

What not to do: don’t try to rip them off. If you just don’t like your phone, and want a free iPhone, or feel angry that they wouldn’t replace the phone you dropped in the lake, don’t make up some story for free stuff. Just be professional, and let them know that they will lose your patronage if they don’t right what was wronged.

So hey, remember that this is your money, and you decide where and how to spend it.

Advertisements

Life in the Office.

This Post is dedicated to the NBC show The Office. Joanna and I have started watching the show again, and it has reminded us why we started watching it in the first place. What makes shows like this so loveable is how we can relate to the characters. We are all forced to work with or live near characters that we would otherwise never want to include in our lives. This show is dedicated to these people, and I want to show some of the characters that are prevalent in my life.

First there is Jim. Jim is you. He is an easy going guy who works his 9 to 5 just to get by. He likes sports, is a people person, lives to for the weekend, and tries to have fun during the work hours. Even if this doesn’t describe much of you, he is personable and fun, so it is natural that you like him.

Then there is Dwight. Dwight does not quite live in the same world that we do. He has no sense o style, a freaky affinity for ancient weapons, a thorough  working knowledge of all Lord of the Rings books, and owns every episode of Battlestar Gallactica. He has trouble discerning his fantasy worlds with this one, and has no time for jokes or shenanigans. Dwight knows of a hundred different ways to kill a man, but he is most likely harmless. This guy genuinely thinks in black and white, and sees him self a champion for the good of mankind.

There is also Andy. Andy sings incessantly, and likes to remind you where he went to college. He thinks that he is the coolest thing on the planet cause he used to be in an A Capella group, but this is a soft, thin shell that can cause you to see what an insecure boy is underneath. He loves jokes, but if the joke is ever on him, then he is prone to freak.

Then there is Angela. She is the most judgmental person in the world. Her religious beliefs seem to be important to her, but to be honest, shes just looking to condemn others. She is a caricature of herself; always acting like she is too good for other people, because she prefers the company of her cats. She never lets down her guard and never lets you get away with anything. The little Tattletale thinks that jokes and fun are for the lazy and unproductive.

Sound familiar? Theres so many more, just check out the show, starting from Season 1.

Music to buy; rock

Well I know what you’re probably thinking- you’re thinking ‘Dan Jones, I’m loaded with cash, I love music, and I want you to tell you to tell me what to buy!’

No? Ok, I still have some suggestions for you.

I love music. I struggle to think of any genre of music that I dont like. Even music I dont regularly listen to, I have an appreciation for everything. Today’s topic is a broad one; Rock music.

In short, Rock has been around since the 1940s. It stems from old time blues music made by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, W.C. Handy, and Robert Johnson. Johnson was arguably the originator of Rock and Roll, writing classics that are still sung today by huge artists like Clapton and John Mayer. It has worn many faces, and changed many times, but it still keeps pieces of origins.

#1 Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton has been playing the rock and blues for longer than most of my readers were alive. Starting off in a band called The Yardbirds, he grew to fame almost immediately after joining the band. He has been in Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and in a very effective solo career.

I very rarely suggest buying “Best of” albums, in short I think that its not the way most music is intended, but in Clapton’s case there is little choice. Unless youre into collecting vinyls, you will find it very hard to come across his albums.

#2 Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck was in the Yardbirds as well. He has grown into a blues/rock/jazz musician, and loves to prove that there is nothing he cant do. With his guitar in his hands, he becomes a jack of all trades and merges with whatever artist he is around.

You can pick up Emotion and Commotion and learn what hes all about. He also plays some killer tracks with artists like Joss Stone, and really brings out an old time Rock and Roll that . He also does a killer song with Imogen Heap in his Live at Ronnie Scott’s. You can watch it here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuXcGHjBeac

#3 Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters started off as more of a grunge rock band, not reaching too far from Grohl’s roots in Nirvana, but they have grown over the years, and have perfected their own unique version of rock. They still hold to that old grunge feel, but they have refined their tastes at the same time. You can check out their latest album Wasting Light and see what they are all about. Two albums from them? The Color and the Shape is my favorite, and I know I have already plugged that album several times before.

#4 Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams is first and foremost an Alternative Country artist, but his album Rock and Roll is a brilliant display of how much he knows about rock music. With songs like “This is it”, and “1974” he blows the album up with a genuine classic rock feel. Its only disappointment is towards the end of the album when he sings “Everybodys cool playing rock and roll, but I dont feel cool, feel cool at all”, so I suppose that he quit the rock and roll scene and returned to the Alt Country scene, because he never put out a sequel.

#5 People in Planes
The next band is what I think would technically be considered Alternative Rock, but its roots are so steeped in classic rock that I think its unfair to put them in the same category as Alt Rock bands like Hinder and Disturbed. People in Planes is a great band that has really brought back a classic rock feel that I havent heard from a contemporary band in a long time. Its a tough call to say which of their two albums to buy, but I think that I slightly prefer “As Far as the Eye Can See” to “Beyond the Horizon”.

Just you wait, I have every genre keyed up for you. Polka is gonna be a tough one.

So this is a blog on writing for all of those who write or desire to. I’ve been working on a novel for a while now, and I’m also working on this blog as well. I know I’ve had some gross inconsistencies, but this is for the most part past mistakes I’ve learned from.

Some people are born with an inate sense of organization. Life is orderly, and things seem to naturally organize themselves with little or no effort. Then there are those of you who are like me; organization is a funny word you say over and over as you miss the hamper with your socks. Things get cleaned and structured- occasionally, and the rare cleaning out your pants is a payday all in and of it’s self.

But organized writing is vital. It can make or break you when what you’ve written is a random mess of thought. What I recommend is that you treat your book, blog, or whatever like a research paper. Write out an outline, and fill in the points as you go.

On the topic of research papers, try to think of a thesis statement for your posts; or at least have some semblance of a lesson to to teach your readers. Remember; you will have plenty of time to ramble on incoherently in your old age, so make sense while you still can.

Stephen King put in the opening of his book on writing “To write is human, but to edit is divine”. Edit your work, cause no one gets it perfect the first time. Do your best to remain objective and eliminate that extra bit of fluff that may (and probably will) be there.

Then, there is a pivotal paradigm to hold if you want anyone else to see your writing; you have to be thick skinned. I’m not talking about constructive criticism from a peer, I’m talking about haters showing up out of nowhere, saying awful stuff about you, your writing, your Grandma, and the stuffed tiger you loved growing up. Just remember this; haters are gonna hate. No matter what you do, someone is going to dislike you for no good reason just because you put your thoughts to paper.

So start writing. I mean it, we all have something to say, so say it, and see what kind of reaction you will get.

How to pick a coffee shop

So as you know coffee is a passion of mine. Being the shortest of the four guys in my family (even though I’m 6″ 2′), I’ve been told that if I didnt drink so much, I may have been the tallest. I might start a monthly thing where I do something on coffee (subjects on my previous coffee post) every month.

Everyone knows that theres a difference between Maxwell House and premium coffee. Thats not a problem, the problem is that signs outside of coffee houses aren’t clear on which they are really brewing. This blog is for those of you who have been curious about that coffee house across the street, or for those curious if you should even bother with that kiosk in the airport.

If you just want a coffee, its quick and simple to tell if its going to be quality; ask what they are brewing. Look for answers that give a specific reigon or country. Lots of roasters will buy cheap, leftover coffee from farmers and give them names like “breakfast roast”, “light roast”, or “Columbian”. Does this mean that they will be awful coffees with these names? Not necessarily, but its a good indicator. Some indicators of good coffees? Descriptions of the roasting process. “Sun Dried Kenya” or “Aged Indonesia” is a great clue that you are going to be drinking quality brew.

Ok, so size isnt everything, but if their machine looks like something you can get at wal-mart for $50.00, then it cant be a quality drink. Its true that Great espresso machines arent always huge, but honestly, most are.

Take a look around the store, and look at their menus; is it just coffee and cappuccinos? Or do they have specialties? Is the coffee from Seattle’s Best, or is it from a local roaster? Is their coffee brewed in the same kind of pot as they do at your work? Some shops just try to copy Starbucks, and offer a worse quality in the process, while others branch out and offer something new.

On that note, did you know that an independent coffee shop is the most likely business to fail within two years? If they are going to be a lasting store, then they will have to have found a way to set them apart from big chains like Starbucks. Some stores offer soup and sandwiches, others offer teas like mate (mah tay) and special chai blends, some have rice and almond milk, and others have a constant lineup of local music for you. Ask what keeps their business afloat, and figure out what makes them special.

Here’s the most important part, though. If your coffee is called “light blend”, and is brewed through a coffee maker that has “Waffle House” scratched off from the side, but turns out being your best cup of Joe ever…. Keep going. If the espresso machine only cost $20, but it’s the best latte you have had… keep ordering it. Theres no reason to be snobby about something you love, and your local coffee shop needs the business!

So go out there, and try something new. These people need your business, and won’t judge you for asking questions!

The Best of 2010

So as this year ends, we bring in a new one. Thats the way it works. I’ve never quite understood the cliche of  “ushering in the new year” cause it comes on in, like it or not.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be good to look back and reflect on some of the best times in 2010. Not all of these things happened this year, but this is the year that I found them.

This year had some big moments for me; first year anniversary with my wife, I got my first dog, I turned a quarter of a century in age, got my first blog, I got a twitter, I graduated college, I lost friends due to differences, and solidified other friendships at the same time.

Ive seen some great movies, but this list wont include just movies that came out in 2010, but movies I saw this year

Best Movies

1. Inception

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

3. Iron Man 2

4. Hes Just Not That Into You (yeah, I saw it)

 

Music defines so much of who I am. I love or at least appreciate just about any kind of that I hear from any time. Its hard picking out just five for this list, but I feel pretty good about a list of music I have found this year.

Best new found artsits

1. Mumford and Sons

2. Barcelona

3. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals

4. The Black Keys

5. The Dead Weather

In Relation with music, I love live music I have been to some of the best live shows of my life this year, and I cant wat for more this new year.

1. Mutemath

2. Athlete

3. John Butler Trio

4. OK GO

 

I love books, but with school and such, I have had a slow year when it comes to reading.

1.The Complete Verse of Rudyard Kipling

2. Anthem by Ayn Rand

3. Lullaby by Chuck Palahinuk

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Steig Larsson

 

So I have a whole lot to be proud of this year, and I hope to have a whole lot more in the next year. I’m not big on New Years Resolutions, especially since I heard the statistic that most everyone has given up on them by the end of February. If I want to improve my life, I don’t wait till January 1st,  I start immediately. Pretty much all of these have been goals of mine ever since I graduated, so I figured that I can call them new years goals as well… So that being said, here are my goals for the year

1. Be more conscious of what I am eating and putting into my body.

2. Continue to run outside and stay in shape.

3. Become more fluent in Spanish.

4. Continue educating myself past what I already know.

5. Blog at least once a week, but try to hit as many Monday and Wednesday posts as possible.

6. Finish the rough draft of my first book and begin looking at getting it published.

2 sizes too small

Alright, so you want a feel good Christmas post? Too bad. Christmas is when the animal comes out of people, and we all start acquiring a mob mentality that leads to people being hurt, and others getting depressed.

Thats what I would have said the last few years, but this year I have sworn not to be a grinch. This post is for all of the other Grinches out there who need their heart to grow a couple of sizes.

Wow, I just threw you for another juke. I had no idea I started off so many blogs like this…

So the first thing that gets me upset about Christmas? Traffic. I mean people run red lights, hold up intersections, and will flip you off for almost anything! I mean, I cant help but get a little road rage from time to time, but the honest truth is that you have to leave your house a little earlier, plan your trips a little wiser, and make the decision that random bad drivers dont get the priviledge of ruining your Holiday.

Then theres the music. Its the same 10 songs sang 1,000 different ways, right? No! Christmas songs are a piece of history. Songs like “Joy to the World” were written in the 1700s, and they range from then to even the last ten years! Pay attention to the songs, and realize that even though some get played WAY too much, give them memories from childhood (or make new memories now) and get a little cheesy with them.

Still sick of it? Try out the soundtrack for the movie “The Holiday”. It was written by one of the best composers of our time, and it is guranteed to put chills up your arms.

People can also get nasty during the holidays. They camp out all night for the best deals, and will let no one stop them from getting everything on their list. Its quite unavoidable, to be honest. I mean whole movies are written to show how far a parent will go just to get their kid what they want for Christmas. But, before you go “Jingle All The Way” all over someone, make a point to be courteous to others. Yeah some will try to snake your parking spot, cut in line, or grab something out of your cart, but that doesnt require a fistfight to solve!

Heres the basis of it; either your Christmas holiday will be spoiled by strangers, or be enriched by friends and family. Its that simple! Be good to people, and remind them why they are supposed to be happy, and maybe you can make someone esle’s Christmas better for it.

Lastly, a shout out to my family this Christmas: I love you guys, and I’m sorry I cant come out this year. I love you and will miss you all.

There, you feel it? All you haters, Grinches, and Scrooges out there have a warm feeling in your chest. No, its not a heart attack, its your heart growing to normal size. Now get over yourselves and have a Merry Christmas, like it or not (sounds like a new song for next Christmas season).

what you arent reading

Ok so this post is for all of those who are reading my blog and are really thinking “Is there anything out there as amazing as this blog that I can read on the other 5 days of the week?” Sadly, the answer is no. BUT if you’re looking for something close to as awesome to read as this blog, then this post is for you!

 

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

This is a pretty funny blog about fads and trends that people like. I don’t get why it singles out white people, but its fun to look at our culture and laugh.

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

Even though this blog could be considered a spinoff, I think its fun Christian satire. This guy covers a lot of funny topics like “Asking people to scoot to the middle of the pew”, “awkward prayer requests”, “thinking that the rapture happened every time you are alone”, and “women with really big hats”.

http://foodgawker.com/

This is a great site that links to other food blogs. It pretty much covers everything you would ever want to cook. It goes from native dishes from different countries, to awesome desserts that make you fatter just by looking at the pictures.

http://bodyhobby.wordpress.com/

Ok, so I had to follow this after reading food gawker, to balance it out. This is a Canadian guy who writes on healthy eating. He doesn’t seem to be one of these people who want you to join the cupcake diet, or jump on a fad, he just talks about living healthy.

http://drjoshaxe.com/

Dr. Josh is a doctor that lives here and lives more of an extreme life in terms of diets. He came up with a way of eating foods that helps you balance your body’s PH level. Its really amazing, and he shares testimonies from people who have overcome cancer and diseases with his transform your health eating plan.

http://lifehacker.com/

This is a nerdy blog, I admit. It covers anything to do with computers or electronics. You can use it to break into another computer, find apps for your ipod/phone/pad. Its pretty cool to read if you want to decrease your social skills, and learn how to make anything work for you.

http://caintechnews.wordpress.com/

This is another nerdy site for people who want to know the most random things that their computers can do, or that the internet can do for you. Anyways, if you’re looking to read about viruses, Windows 7, find helpful sites, or get free vector art, then read this often.

And heres a few other helpful sites

http://www.truecar.com/

This is an average of how much cars are bought and sold for, so you know that you got a good price.

http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~geoffo/humour/flattery.html

This is for those who are feeling down….

My life in a pie graph.

 

Ok, thats enough links for one day, see you Wednesday!

Coffee Time

Ok, so I am working on a collaborative blog with some of my friends. It is going to cover certain creature comforts that we all enjoy from coffee to restaurants, to wine, cigars, cafes, and more. Obviously, my area of expertise in which I will be writing will be coffee,  some teas, and probably a few restaurants. As a little promotion for our blog, I figured I could put my first post on here.

So how do you drink your coffee? Do you drink what ever the cheap stuff is at your office coffee maker? Something instant that kind of resembles coffee when you think really hard about it? What I’m encouraging you do is drink coffee with the intention of enjoying it, not to give you a little rush to make it till 5:00. Drinking it solely for the caffeine is like using a wheelchair when you roll your ankle. This is why coffee and caffeine get shown in a  bad light; people drink it in excess, getting the jitters, acid reflux, or even ulcers.

Something you may not know about coffee is the good side effects. All of these come from two cups (thats 16 fl oz)  of coffee or less, which I have been told is the most one should drink in a day.

  • Coffee helps regulate your blood pressure; in small amounts, it actually dilates your veins and arteries, lowering your blood pressure slightly. It should go without saying that too much will definitely raise it, though.
  • It helps your short term memory stay sharper; caffeine passes the blood brain barrier, and can momentarily help you with that last minute cramming you do from time to time.
  • Coffee in small amounts can help your exercise. In a test on cyclists, the ones given caffeine went 29% farther than the ones that went without it. (working on citation)
  • It helps you stay “regular”. I dont think you should need any more details.
  • Coffee increases your coolness by at least 79%, just by sitting back and sipping on it. That is a fact.
  • Coffee has no calories! Well thats not technically true, I believe that the ratio is something like 5 calories per 8oz, but hey, compare it to a small can of Red Bull, and the calorie count is 110!

Now that I have you on the coffee bandwagon, there is something you need to understand; coffee drinks such as McDonalds, nescafe, maxwell house, and those pouches in your hotel room are not coffee. Yes, maybe they pass as coffee, because they do technically contain coffee beans, there is not nearly as much quality as needed to make yourself a decent cup of joe. Its like calling a pack of parliament lights cigars; yes there is tobacco, but bring it into a cigar shop, and you will get laughed at. Most of these kinds of coffees do the minimal. They pay the cheapest prices for beans that may not be completely ripe, roast them for a minimal amount of time, or till they reach their first “pop”, immediately grind them for a paper filter, freeze dry them, and who knows how long they stay on the shelves?

So here is what I want you to do; go out and have some real coffee.

I’m not saying that I want you to swing by Starbucks’ Drive Thru and grab a grande drip with cream and sugar, I want you to sit down and enjoy coffee as it should be. If you can, go buy a French Press and a grinder, or else find a coffee shop nearby that will press your coffee for you (most Starbucks will if you ask). Get you some gourmet coffee (preferably a Latin American coffee if you aren’t used to a press).

Heres the simple directions for making a french press;

1. Coffee: 4 heaping scoops of whole beans ground coarsely does it for me in my 8 cup press.

2. Water: as close to boiling as you can get it, coffee brews best in temperatures between 210 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Let it sit for 4 minutes. Dont press the big metal rod down just yet. I know it, its hard to wait, but just hold on. After the 4 minutes are up, press the grounds to the bottom, and…

4. You got the Java!

Don’t rush to the fridge and get your Coffee Mate caramel macciato flavored creamer- give it a try black. Smell the aroma, and let out a big slurp as you get your first few sips. This is how coffee is meant to be enjoyed, not as a stimulant  that you feel needing an intravenous injection. Drink it out on your porch on these fall evenings or on a Saturday morning before you get going.

I hope this is inspiring to you to rethink your coffee addiction.

Other topics I’m working on in the near future: Cafes in Nashville, how to pick a coffee to brew, how to tell if the cafe you walk into is quality, coffee shop 101, and how to drink your coffee(press, espresso machine, percolator,etc),

I get the news I need

I think of the Simon and Garfunkel song that says “I get all the news I need from the weather report” , and think about how that used to be my old philosophy. When I was a poor, deprived child who had no cable TV (this may lead you to ask yourself “did he even had running water?” Yes, as long as I showered before my sisters.) There wasn’t much of a difference to news stations. There were Channel 5, 8, or 10 news, and they all covered most of the important things by themselves.

When I was in Media Writing, we were told that journalists’ mission was to report the news in an unbiased way. The writer or reporter  was to take their personal sentiments out of the story, give the facts, and give two different views on the story.

We were shown Walter Cronkite reporting Kennedy’s assassination. This was a huge shock, because no one was to show emotion on the television. My teacher told us that people always speculated about his personal ideology, but it was after his retirement that he showed that he had political views that were much more liberal than what most speculated.

What I missed from all of this was why this quality was so necessary. I mean, is it truly possible to be completely unbiased? Would you rather listen to someone who is honest with their views, but still entertains the opposite view? Or is it better that someone places subtle, not always conscious nudges around their “unbiased” reporting?

Even the most brutal murderers were supposed to be showed that they had a rough childhood, and reasons as to why they became they way they were, all with an emotionless face. We all were required to read Grendel, and understand that sometimes society and events can take a place in shaping monsters. I think that its fine to show this side, but to call Charles Manson a sociopath and a murderer does not need any more explanation than to call Snoopy a lazy, daydreaming dog.

We are slowly moving away from Cronkite-types, and are moving towards commentators. We as a people in general are becoming more educated, and looking for people to help us reinforce our point. We, as Americans, should keep ourselves educated, and come up with our own ideals. I’m not trying to call all journalists manipulators, I’m just simply trying to state that no one can truly be a dispassionate observer. I think that as long as the facts are clearly separated from opinion, we should be able to decide our own thoughts from whoever we get our news source.

What we really need is a news station that is honest with its self. Fair and balanced is necessary to give two sides to the argument, but to think that any news source is really unbiased is as absurd as thinking your grandmas cookies are fat-free. People need to quit concerning themselves with all of the other news sources, and look at whether or not the facts are given, and if there is a reasonable conclusion to take with them.