Archive for April, 2009

Seattle Meet-up

natalie_jeri

I got to get together with Neurondoc in person today! She is every bit as charming, funny and wise in person as she is online.

This really poor quality pic from my Blackberry is the evidence – my apologies. I am the jolly green giant, she is the tiny one who is actually in focus.

We had a wonderful seafood dinner on the waterfront (Elliott’s Oyster House), with oysters (for me), calamari, crab and scallops. Yes, John, they were raw oysters. Then, as planned, we did the monster truck rally, ultimate fighting championship, strip clubs, and hit the Pioneer Square nightclubs until dawn. (I lie. A lot. I was home by 9:30 and that’s with a half hour wait for the ferry.)

I look forward to getting together with her again later this week!

Posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: friends, ucf | 15 Comments »

A Tale of Great Customer Service

I have been battling perplexing and annoying Internet connectivity problems for nearly a month. Occasionally my digital local line drops out, and quite frequently, my Internet access has high latency or comes screeching to a full stop. For those that are into such things, a description of the problem and initial troubleshooting is below the cut.

Today, during a particularly bad patch of connectivity when I was trying to participate in a conference call & webcast, I got annoyed and managed to send a note out via twitter:

Nasty internet connection latency plus repeated digital phone service crashes means yet another call to Comcast. Isn’t telecom fun?

Much to my surprise, a Comcast technician replied to my tweet within 15 minutes with an offer to help.

This could have seemed a “big brother” type response, but the technician made both a non-intrusive open-ended offer to help and her twitter account was set up with obvious care – her name, a picture and a profile that indicated she was a real person.

Through @replies and DMs, she did proceed to help, rather successfully. It appears she provides support through this model all day long and is rather pretty darn effective at it.

By the end of the day, I had a call from a Tier 4 local plant technician who looked at my stats and records and agreed that there was indeed a problem with my Comcast connection. (Darn it, I wasn’t taping…) I will be getting a call from a field supervisor to set up an onsite trouble call early next week.

What Comcast didn’t know is that I work in call center technology for a similar Alaskan company, and am always interested in effective use of alternate support channels.

This is a nice model, a positive application of Twitter and the near-real time capabilities of the Internet, and I’d love to see our company adopt something similar in its technical support center.

Nicely done, Comcast!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: communication, technology | 8 Comments »

Trying and Succeeding

zach_peterToday, Zach and friend went on an adventure, a beautiful 40 mile bike ride from Sequim to Port Angeles and back on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Zach hasn’t been on a bike in 18 months, and in fact, his bike was vandalized back then so he had to use my sadly neglected bike for this adventure. While I question his sanity in jumping in the saddle and shooting for 40 miles, I very much admire his ambition and determination.

He now absolutely detests my very nice cutaway bike seat and has been making liberal use of ice packs this evening.

His adventure, and comments about the resilience of youth, made me think: where do we adults lose the “What the heck, let’s go for it!” mentality? Somewhere along the line we learn to minimize risk, to set measurable, reasonable goals.

Maybe we should try to re-engage that youthful state of optimism and adventure about life. What’s the worst that could happen? Try and fail? Or perhaps even more scary… we can try and succeed.

What’s your version of the 40-mile bike ride? Is there some adventure – physical, mental, creative, emotional that you could take on, and in the process live life a little more intensely and vividly?

Examples:

Many of us do National Novel Writing Month in November – but (smack me now) for me, that’s pretty easy. The result isn’t pretty, but spewing forth 50,000+ words in a month is quite do-able for me.

One gutsy friend is going to try out for the local community chorale, her first time singing since high school 25 years ago.

As some of you know, my not-yet-ready-for-a-rocking-chair mother qualified for and is swimming in the National Senior Olympics this summer, at Stanford.

Another friend got tired of being frustrated with her job, and finally just… quit. She has lots of ideas, but no next thing in line. She’s trusting her own skills and talents to find a better gig.

The personal challenge that comes to mind for me is the idea of trying open water distance swimming. I swam competitively in high school and college, and while I was not any kind of serious national competitor, I was good at it and enjoyed it.

I’ve resumed swimming on and off throughout the years, and while my 40-something year old body needs a little TLC with the shoulders and knees, it’s been a very positive activity for me. (Except that whole wearing a swimsuit in public thing.)

I do best with a challenge, a goal, and speed is not a realistic one anymore. Open water swimming just might be. In past years, there has been an August swim across the Puget Sound, the Puget Sound Crossing for Kids, which sounds like a great target to me (if they’re still doing it).

So what’s your 40-mile bike ride, the adventure that’s been tickling the back of your brain? Why aren’t you trying for it?

Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: inspiration, Puget Sound | 8 Comments »

All I Want is You

When I put together the program for Bryan’s celebration of life, I wanted to choose song lyrics for the cover. Bryan loved music, was a broadcasting undergrad major before he went to law school and enjoyed his stint as a college DJ very much.

I listened to, read lyrics, and discarded a dozen songs before I settled on U2′s “All I Want Is You” as the cover text. (I woke up with it stuck in my head, actually, and decided that meant it was the one.) The lyrics are profound and poetic, and the band’s performance of it live in Milan is beautiful.

All I Want Is You

You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold
You say you want your story to remain untold

But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you

You say you’ll give me a highway with no one on it
Treasure just to look upon it
All the riches in the night

You say you’ll give me eyes in a moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbour in the tempest

But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you

You say you want
Your love to work out right
To last with me through the night

You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold
Your story to remain untold
Your love not to grow cold

All the promises we break
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you
     ~U2

He was my harbor in the tempest, and I am grateful for the years we were given.

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: grief, music | 5 Comments »

What Comes Next?

One of the writing ideas I’ve had in the back of my head for several months, since long before I lost Bryan, is the question of what happens after death.

My family and friends embrace a broad range of beliefs – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, agnostic, atheist, and even none of the above. Those religions have differing traditional beliefs about the existence of the soul, the afterlife, and the definition of heaven and hell as well as the entry criteria. On top of that, many believers have their own ideas on the subject, perhaps varying widely from accepted dogma.

What do you believe?

Is there a part of our existence that transcends the purely physical – a soul, a spirit? Does it transcend death?

If so, in what manner? Are there ghosts? Guardian angels? Judgment, and heaven? Reincarnation? A return to the sacred earth?

If you believe in a heaven and/or hell, what’s your vision of heaven? Pearly gates, streets paved with gold, and angels singing hosannas at the foot of the throne? Or something else?

According the tenets of Christianity, Bryan made a profession of faith, was baptized and will be waiting for me in heaven.

My problem is, that while I would classify myself as a liberal Christian, I don’t think I believe in a literal heaven and hell. I don’t know what I do believe, but it’s not streets of gold and perpetual hymns of praise.

I suppose none of us will find out until we go through it ourselves, and even then we’ll probably interpret events through the lens of our own culture and symbolism.

Still, I’m interested in your input. What do you believe?

1Please don’t feel like you need to tiptoe around me on this subject – I’m truly interested in ideas and discussion. I have my own ideas too, after all.

2If I do not already know you, and you leave me a proselytizing message of some sort, I will banish your comment to the spam queue faster than you can say “Amen.”

3This is a complicated question. If you’d prefer to answer in your own blog instead of the tiny comment window, please do and I’ll add a link to your post.

Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: grief, inspiration | 18 Comments »