Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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November 2004
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Self-Serve Equals “Do My Work For Me!”

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 5:55 pm

Ok, maybe I’m still cranky from this head and chest cold I’ve been carrying around for weeks, but I’m seriously tired of “self-serve” nonsense. I skip the self-serve isles in supermarkets, department stores, and others, not because the technology frightens me, as those who sell the things like to claim (frankly, I can program better than the people who build these silly things), but rather because if I’m going to do the work of a clerk, I expect to be paid for it in the form of discounts. You don’t pay me, I don’t do your work. Simple, really.

But tonight, I ran into something so mind-numbingly stupid I was moved to write about it here. For years now, I’ve been a customer of Verizon Wireless…heck, I bought my cell phone from Sprint Cellular something like eight years ago, which became 360, which became something-or-other else, which was eventually bought by Verizon Wireless. And for years, I’ve been dropping my bill off at the local Verizon Wireless store; my daughter loves the trip to the mall, since she deposits the envelope into the drop box, then we go up the escalator to the food court for a soft-pretzel snack. She’s been doing this since she was too little to get on the escalator by herself, and almost every month, right about on time, she’ll ask if it’s time to go pay the Verizon Wireless bill.

But no more. Tonight, they told her she couldn’t use the drop box, pointed me to a computer terminal, and told me to enter the payment information into their system. Apparently, the six or seven sales people standing around with their thumbs up their rear ends (no joke, there were three taking care of dealing with me) were too busy thrilling themselves, and so I’m to do their work for them. (In fact, one kid told me, “I guess because they had to do this anyway at the end of the night.” Yeah…tough work, getting paid to enter transactions and all.)

Me, enter the transaction into their computer? Not in this bloody lifetime.

I’ll be mailing this bill in. And over the next few weeks I’ll be researching other cellular telephone companies; I’m determined to have a new provider by the end of the year. The total lack of service from Verizon Wireless, up to and including expecting me to do their d*mned clerical work for them, convinced me in no uncertain terms that they can go jump off the nearest cell tower. I’m finding another company.

The only depressing thing is, I doubt there are any other companies who will actually provide service anymore. And the reason is, I’m convinced, is that we as consumers allow them to constantly screw us around this way. They tell us to do their work for them, while paying for the privilege…and we meekly do.

But not this old man.

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I’m Really Sorry…

Filed under: General, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:18 am

I’ve been under-the-weather for over two weeks now, and only getting the bare minimum done. Please indulge me a bit more, and I promise to catch up eventually with the tons of work I need to finish.

(Interesting Bob Edwards Show this morning, BTW; something of a hybrid. His conversation with David Broder was clearly new, but the rest of the show was a “Best of Bob.” Nice to hear the interview with Doc Watson again, though. Sounds like tomorrow will be another “BOB” - he, he, I kinda like that…)

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Bob Edwards, to be feted at WBUR, criticizes ex-NPR bosses

Filed under: General, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:14 am

First off, let me apologize for being so distant of late…I realize no one is waiting with baited breath for my alledged “pearls of wisdom,” but I’ve been so busy with personal stuff of late (six-year-olds are high maintenance, thank heavens) that I am running way behind on my email and blogging. I promise to do better in the future, once I start digging myself out from under a bit, and get rid of this head/chest cold that’s slowing me down even more…

From the Boston Globe: Tonight at Boston Universary, the 57-year-old Bob Edwards, who now hosts an XM Satellite Radio program, will be honored at a WBUR gala commemorating the anniversary of a show he no longer anchors, on an outlet he no longer works for.

Some tidbits from the article: On the celebration, “I’m also delighted, since that’s the only real celebration of the anniversary that’s taking place.” On a note he received from Jay Kernis regarding ME’s 25th anniversary, “Jay Kernis replied, ‘The anniversary is about the future — not the past.’ That was pretty cold.” From a letter sent by NPR officials about Bob’s departure, “‘Bob did not turn down the cohost position,’ the letter stated. ‘Bob was not offered such a role.’” And noting that bad blood still lingers, this piece of confirmed information; “Edwards said it is his understanding that NPR will not allow employees to appear on his XM program.”

Man, I hope Bob is working on that book about his carreer and dismissal. If not, once I get my voice back (heck, any voice), I’d love to interview him asking the direct questions that no one else seems willing to get near, although this article is the closest I’ve seen.

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Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:15 pm

Ok, I can imagine a lot of nicknames for XM’s Bob Edwards…but CUDDLES?!?!?

Times Dispatch Inside Edition

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Blog Comment Spammers Are Beginning to Tick Me Off

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:09 am

There’s a new wrinkle (or at least a new one to me); some gambling outfit, who apparently cannot get customers legitimately, is spamming this blog not by reviewing the entries database, but simply by posting to post #1, post #2, etc., etc.

I have comment moderation turned on to prevent exactly this, and have added programming to prevent this moron from bothering me once I get an URL to add.

I think it’s kinda funny that all of the add-ons for Wordpress, which this blog runs under, are designed to trip the blog into moderation mode. Me, I want the scum’s postings killed completely if it contains the URL to their scammer websites, so I had to add the checks myself. The only bad thing about this is that it’s gonna get uglier and uglier the more scum think spamming blog comments with hijacked computers is a good thing…

Ah, well, cheer up…at least you can read the postings here without having to worry about reading spammer spew. Now if I didn’t have to deal with it, everything would be perfect.

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“Twenty-Five years ago today…”

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 11:10 am

“…National Public Radio began a new program called Morning Edition, and made me its host…”

That’s how Bob Edwards began his tribute today on his program, The Bob Edwards Show on XMPR, XM Satellite Radio Channel 133. At the risk of running foul of XM, and also risking a bad transcription (I don’t do shorthand), here’s a bit of what Bob said:

“The anniversary is barely acknowledged by NPR, and that’s too bad; the many hundreds who have worked on that program over the last quarter century deserve better than that. … Congratulations to all who have labored there, especially Executive Producer Ellen McDonnell and newscaster Carl Kasell who have been part of the program for the full twenty-five year run. The staff of this program respects anniversaries…we’re five weeks old today.”

So why didn’t NPR say more that a couple of top-of-the-hour pieces? That’s painfully apparent; since for the entire history of the program, with the exception of the last mediocre six months, Bob Edwards was Morning Edition. And hearing Bob’s voice on that show in any retrospective would have reminded their listeners of what they lost when he was fired from the show for no sensible reason whatsoever by the Executive Producer he so magnanimously congratulates, and Jay Kernis who shoud be running a McDonalds right about now but instead is making decisions on the (mis)direction of NPR News. That anger over what has been lost might have translated into lower fund-raising for the member stations and more embarassment for the network, something NPR does not want to deal with again. Nope, better off to stick our heads into the sand and pretend it never happened…this show has always had artificially perky, bland, and inexperienced hosts like “Barbie and Ken,” not Radio Hall of Fame inductees like Bob Edwards.

And as far as I’m concerned, this lesser morning show only started six months ago anyway. Morning Edition was yanked off the air on April 30, 2004.

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Election Results…on XMPR?

Filed under: News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 4:42 am

This could be some serious fun…XMPR, the public radio channel of XM Satellite Radio on Channel 133, is going to run an election eve special beginning this evening at 9:00 pm eastern, 6:00 pm pacific, and running for six hours. They advertise that they will use all of the resources of the “XM Nation” to cover this important story…whatever the heck that means. (Don’t look for info on their web page, though…these guys fail miserably in communicating anything on the Net. I’ll touch on this failure sometime later in a public letter to XMPR - stay tuned to this blog for more info,)

This could be seriously cool, though…something like the early days of NPR, back when they had little money, not a lot of experience, but boatloads of heart, soul, and pluck (contrasted with the sterile blandness of today’s NPR). My gut tells me there will be lots of minor technical mistakes throughout the evening, coupled with an earnestness and drive to over-reach that should get all of us listening rooting for this underdog, and very likely give us more information than the “usual suspects” doing a constant stream of one-on-ones on the big network.

And who knows…maybe Bob Edwards will participate, and in the evening no less!

If you’re a fan of public radio, you owe it to yourself to take the money you’ve been giving to your terresterial NPR member station and use it to purchase an XM radio and subscription. What you gain in all the public affairs stations available on XM (CSPAN Radio, BBC World Service, and of course XMPR) is greater than what you lose (NPR’s deciding for you what you do and don’t want to hear, while still constantly begging for your money).

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Now It’s Up to Us…

Filed under: General, News — Charlie Summers @ 9:14 am

I haven’t posted anything about the upcoming election here. It isn’t because I don’t care about the important issues facing us today (indeed, I can effectively argue either side on most issues), it’s basically because one of the fundamental rights in our system of government is the right to vote in secret, without needing to publically proclaim for whom one votes. More people should take this to heart…if nothing else, it would shut up the pollsters who prattle on about what “is” going to happen.

But I find I have to say one thing about tomorrow’s election - it is absolutely vital, no matter what your philosophy or opinions, that you get yourself out of your easy chair, go down to the polls, and vote. All the hype, hyperbole, and outright lies in campaign ads aside (I live in Pennsylvania, one of the “battleground states,” and so have been assaulted by a constant stream of nonsense from both sides of the “debate”), in the end the future of the country, at least for the next little while, is up to you, not them.

And before you decide that your vote doesn’t count, let’s all sit back and ponder for just a moment the outcome four years ago. Whether you agree with the end result or not, you have to admit the difference came down to practically a handfull of ballots…any of which could have been yours had things been just the slightest bit different.

In this country we keep harping on the right to vote, and routinely ignore the responsibility to vote. I used to have a message on my answering machine taken from the first Midnight Special, where the late John Denver adminishes that if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right, “to bitch, or complain.”

I’m a little sad that this year, for the first time since she was a baby, I’m not going to be able to take my daughter to our polling place (we’re going to have to vote over lunch, while she’s in school). I decided back in 1998 that telling her she needs to take responsibility for her own future as she grows wasn’t enough…I needed to show her how seriously we take the precious ability to determine our own leaders. Each election (Federal or local, primary or general), I either carried her or held her hand as she accompanied me into the machine (we use a mechanical lever system here…look, Ma, no chads) and watched me as I closed the curtain and performed the most sacred and inviolable right we have.

It takes so little time…and it is a right envied by so many millions of humans living under totalitarian governments that it frustrates me when over 50% of those eligible in this country ignore their responsibility. This year, get up, get out, and go vote.

Yeah, it’s that important.

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