Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top 11 Posts of 2011

Well, we’re almost to 2012 and recently I posted my top 11 photos of ’11, so I thought I would dig around in my stats and share with you the items that a plurality of you decided to visit over the year. They’re ranked by number of views.

11: (Dis)Engaging Google+ – I’ve written that I’m not a fan of Google+. Based on my experiences, my opinion hasn’t changed from August 11, 2011.

10: 10 Things (About me) – Interesting, this post, written around my birthday in 2010 garnered enough views this year to make my list. I find it funny that it’s number 10. 🙂

9: Oh, to be Popular. #199 – My 199th blog post here. A photo essay of my top Flickr photos. Be sure to check out #1 if you haven’t already.

8: Crossroads. Help Me, Pathfinder! – A great post about my future education and where I want to go from here. I say it was a great post because it offered me some good conversations with people about the state of education, what I should focus on as I continue forward and helped me figure out where I truly am in my head.

7: Good Customer Service: America’s Tire – I’m thrilled that a “Good Customer Service” story made the list. The adage goes, a happy customer will tell no one, while an unhappy customer will tell everyone. That’s not true in my case, I try to give equal time to good and bad customer service.

6: O.H. in the E.R. – On of my funnier (and sad) posts about an ill-fated trip to the ER last August. My pain is your joy. The things you hear in an ER waiting room are rather funny. If you take the time to listen.

(Photo Credit: Sea Turtle on Flickr)

5: Following the Pack (or not) – A post from last February where I offer my commentary on a “gorilla marketing tactic” on Twitter that was horribly spammy. I found it interesting that my desire to speak up was met with extreme hostility and mob mentality, which border-lined on bullying. I still stand by my opinions and observations. Sometimes you have to go out on a limb. Be bold.

4: The Lone Zebra, an Educational Opportunity – Written regarding a kerfuffle in the Real Estate Community about copyright and trade dress infringement. This gave me an opportunity to put into real life practice some things I had been learning in my Business Law class. It was a great case study.

3: Guest Post: Judgment Between The Lines – I’m so thrilled you liked, or viewed, this post. It was an important post. A guest post by my close friend Sarah Salter, she writes about something I think we all struggle with: Judgement and its many forms. An extremely timely, timeless and poignant post, worthy of read, whether it’s your first time or tenth.

2: Missing The Mark: Sears – Christmas Customer Service – Wow. This post, written just six days ago, outlined some poor customer service I received from a National big box store. Outlining the systemic issues from corporate culture, to employee detachment (An employee adds his comments to the post) it has become one of my most popular Customer Service Commentary posts.

Singapore Fireworks Celebrations '08 - Korean Fantasia 3
(Photo Credit: Synchroni on Flickr)

1: You’re Welcome?!? – A post from this summer, I volunteered at a women only half marathon this year, I was struck and moved that almost every single runner, no matter how fatigued or festive, took a moment to thank the volunteers, when all I really was doing was standing in the middle of the road. I’m very thankful and grateful that this is my number one viewed post. It makes me believe that you all enjoy a little bit of gratitude in our world and maybe we/I need to be sharing a little more of it.

I’m extremely proud of these posts and some of them I think are close to “my best.” I hope that this streak continues in 2012!


11 Favorite Photos of ’11

I try to take pictures of things that are memorable, as you’re aware. But, I’m also a little retentive on how I organize them, too. In my files, I order them by year and by month. So I decided to go back and see what I thought some of my top photos were; either because they were interesting to me or they had special memories. Here they are:

I moved into a new place this year – I really enjoyed the view from the deck.
The sun for the trees with clouds

A cool panoramic view of the Southeast side of Portland, Oregon on a sunny(!!) day. Mount Hood is in the distance.
Portland Oregon Sunshine Mt Hood Marquam Bridge

My friend Cheryl put together a great conference that I was a volunteer at, she was being interviewed by a local news station and I happened to spot this view, through the lens.
Through the Lens

On a recent trip to the beach, my friend and I spotted this abandoned, decrepit boat in a river valley.
Abandoned Boat

I was fortunate to go to a Seattle Mariners game in Safeco Field, the view from my awesome seats really let me catch all the action.
Seattle Mariners Safeco Field

A pretty cool moment to catch. Fourth of July is always fun. Especially when you go to Washington to watch REAL fireworks.
Firework Flame

A group of my friends (The Ruby Council) and I went to Darcelle’s and Co. downtown, Portland. We got a photo with the Grand Dame herself.
Ruby Council and Darcelle

A great photo from another trip to Seattle, as you’ll note, the sun does shine in Seattle. A great view of their skyline.
Seattle Washington Skyline

A trip to Seattle that changed the course of my 2011 for the better. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this captured moment for a couple of reasons. A pretty cool photo, too.
Sunstreaked Pair

I caught this photo on Veteran’s Day. I thought it was incredibly poignant and it was pretty, too.
Solo Flag

Of course, I wasn’t going to end the recap of my year without a Christmas Photo, since I was posting this on Christmas Day.
Christmas Reflection

I’ve been so fortunate this year. I’ve experienced some great moments and some not-so-great moments. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Missing The Mark: Sears – Christmas Customer Service

When I was a kid, the most exciting thing in the world for me was getting the Sears Christmas Catalog every October. My brother and I would fight over who got to look through it first a who would get to mark up the pages with their “I want it” stickers.

Fast-forward twenty years to yesterday. As a gift-giver, I’m excited when I find the perfect something for its recipient, something that says, “I need to be wrapped up and given to Mr. X.” I use Mr. X here as it’s not yet Christmas.

So on to my recent experience with Sears. I’ve heard great things in the past about their customer service. Sadly, I’ve yet to experience any of that.

Yesterday, while on the phone with a relative, we found the perfect item for someone in our family: A set of tools, on sale. It was something this family member needed, wanted, and would use–three things that are essential to giving the perfect Christmas gift. I checked the “pick it up in store” option, was in stock. Hooray! I work right next to a Sears, so I couldn’t beat this opportunity. I filled up my online cart, clicked “Check out,” entered my credit card number and hit “Submit!”

*Phew* The last of my Christmas shopping was done, or so I thought. I just had to wait on the little email that said:

I received it in under 30 minutes. Hot Dog! I was happy as a clam! I figured I’d go grab it from the store, grab some crappy mall food for lunch and be back at my desk happily clicking away at my keyboard in under an hour. Or so I thought.

When I get to the Sears Location I’d selected, (Lloyd Center, Portland) I went to their “Merchandise Pick-Up” area, where you scan your receipt in this unfriendly kiosk that tells you they have 5 minutes to complete your order or you get a service coupon for $5.00. Ok – You’ve set my expectations, you’re going to grab my order in 5 minutes or less, that’s pretty good service. I noted a white board on the wall which rated their “On Service Guarantee delivery time: 95% for the month, 98% for the previous day.” That’s a pretty good record, though it doesn’t say how many people served. Whatever.

I wait and I watch the little screen with my last name and a clock, time ticks away; 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, then a little “CC” appears next to my name. 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 10 minutes… Then a stock person comes out of the back room with a coupon and says, “Sorry, we’re still trying to locate your item.”

And then, at minute 15, he comes back. “We don’t seem to have that item in stock, do you want to go up to the 3rd floor and see if they have it up there?”

“No, not particularly. That’s something I’d expect you to do.” I think to myself, but instead I say: “Uh, Sure, I guess so.” And off to the Tool Department I went.

When I reached the 3rd floor tool department, I go directly to the service desk, and start to ask, “Hey, I purchased this item online…”

He interrupts, “You have to go down to the first floor to ‘Merchandise Pick up.'”

I finish my previously started sentence “…and they don’t seem to have it downstairs, they said you might have one up here, where would they be?”

“Oh,” he says. “They were just up here looking for it. We don’t have any in stock.”

So, “They already looked, didn’t have it in stock, and they sent me up here to you. Now what?” I ask.

The clerk responds: “Well, I guess I can refund your money.”

I’m not particularly pleased with that idea at the moment, I ask, “Can you call another store and see if they have it in stock? I guess I could drive to another location.” As a customer service professional, I would have wanted to keep the sale and the customer happy by being proactive. I guess that wasn’t the case here. Reluctantly, he calls another store, finds they have them in stock, but he can’t ask them to reserve one, he tells me. I’m surprised by this, I mean, I’ve already paid for the item, they’re a national chain, you’d think they’d be able to say to another location, “hey, I’ve got a customer that we somehow sold him an out of stock item, can you help me out?” Alas, no, nothing.

The clerk proceeds to say that he’ll be able to credit my card back the amount it was charged and that when I drive out to the other store (10 miles away,) that they have a few so they should be in stock when I get there. (I’ve heard this story before…)

I’m still waiting, 24 hours later, for the credit to post to my credit card. Something in the process has tied up 300 dollars of my available limit, twice the amount of the purchase, so I’m unable to go to the store and purchase yet another one. Sears says that they’ve released the charge and it’s whenever my credit card company posts it, and my credit card company says they’re waiting for Sears. Forty-five minutes later I walk out of the Lloyd Center Sears, empty handed and disheartened. Meanwhile, there’s still a perfect gift out there, that I’m probably not going to purchase because of this poor display of Customer service.

I’ve reached out to Sears via social media, asking for assistance. I keep getting the response:

I’m still waiting on the delivery.

When writing this post I wondered if I should wait to post it until after any resolution has been made. Judging from the expectations set by Sears customer service examples with my previous experiences? I may be waiting a long time.

Update: I finally received a call back from Sears corporate. A “Social Media Case Manager” has opened a case number to deal with my issue. They’ve understood my issue to be that I’ve not gotten the credit right away.

Update #2: I received the credit to my card and release of funds, done so on Saturday night (Christmas Eve.) Now, I can’t say whose fault that actually is, my credit card company or Sears… I think it should be clear what my complaints are, I guess not.

Here they are:

1: Sears sold me a product that you said was in stock and didn’t have.
2: Sears said my item was ready for pick up, I have the confirmation, and it wasn’t in stock.
3: When I went to pick up the item, it took Sears stock people 16 minutes to realize they didn’t have the item in stock.
4: Sears stock people searched for the item on their own, then sent me to the Tool Department to search on my own, knowing it wasn’t in the store.
5: Sears sales clerk offered no other options to retrieve my item (like getting delivery from another store, asking another store to hold the item) preferring to lose the sale.
6: There has been no apology, from anyone in Sears’ organization, for the inconvenience.
7: Sears’ attempts at Customer Service have been, at best, an attempt to quiet me socially and sweep me under the carpet.

As a customer service representative I would ask here, what would make you (me) a happy customer. I don’t have an answer to that. Sears has missed the mark on 4 different occasions here, and at 7 different junctures. I don’t know how you reconcile that. Even my extensive experience at customer service has left me at a loss at “what should be done.” It’s really sad. There were so many opportunities to make it right.

Update 3: Final — I’ve certainly had plenty of misses within this experience, this final email – confirming my refund – personifies how clueless Sears seems to be.

Just when you think they cannot get worse with their service...

Here’s the risk you run by using one email address for all your customer service. I can’t call their customer support number during the day – So I have been trying to communicate via email, using my “Case Manager’s” name in every email. I haven’t gotten any responses from him, just these canned responses.

Sad. Just plain sad.

Latin Thoughts

I ran across this saying today. I thought I’d share it.

Priusquam praesens, Damnatus salvens, Hic homo nesciens, Quae futura est?
Est plane vanum? Magnificandum? Error aut sanum? O fortuna est, qua?

Continue reading

Top 11 Songs To Get You In the Spirit of Christmas.

I had the great fortune to win tickets to see Mannheim Steamroller last night thanks to the Oregon Symphony. Sitting in the front row, hearing their versions of music for Christmas, I got to thinking; I love Christmas music. I also love various versions of some of the more traditional. Here are the top 11 songs that always help me get into the Christmas Spirit.

#11: Silent Night: Celtic Woman

#10: Do You Hear What I Hear: Carrie Underwood

#9: Little Drummer Boy: Vienna Boys Choir

#8: Silver Bells: Mannheim Steamroller

#7: Blue Christmas: Elvis Presley

#6: Santa Baby: Madonna

#5: All I Want For Christmas is You: Michael Bublé

#4: Joy To The World: Mormon Tabernacle Choir

#3: Handel – Messiah – Hallelujah Chorus: Johann Strauss Orchestra and the Harlem Gospel Choir

#2: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman/ We Three Kings: Barenaked Ladies & Sarah Mclachlan

#1: Christmas Eve Sarajevo: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I hope that helped get you into the Christmas Spirit or a more festive mood. They always help me. 🙂 What are some of your favorites?

School Update/Winter Break

Wow. The fall term just BLEW RIGHT BY. Actually, I am kind of thankful for that. I had a really hard time getting into the rhythm of school this term and I’m really glad for the winter break. No more school until January 9th!

I am, however, somewhat proud of my grades.
Economics: A
Human Relations/Organizations: B
Geology: C

Not bad, a B average would have still been honor roll in High School, which I would have killed for then. Still, not bad for someone who works about 40-50 hours a week, runs in his spare time, and goes to school full time. It’s still funny to me, that we (I) lament a “C” like a punch to the gut. It’s a strange place.

I also love Winter break as I’m able to catch up on all the books I want to read. So far, since Thanksgiving, I’ve ticked 3 books off my “to read” list at the Library:

Ten Thousand Saints
This Beautiful Life
Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Wall of Books

(Used under creative commons, thanks Mr. T!)

Ten Thousand Saints was a well-written, heavy, deep piece of literature on drugs, conflict, society and the “Straight Edge” music scene in the early 1980s. It was a fantastic read and I was kind of sad to be finished with it.

This Beautiful Life, in short, wasn’t. I kept reading it, hoping that it would get just a little better. It was on the verge of being great, but the writer was topical at best. The subjects weren’t well developed and the conflict was more fizz than boom. Sad.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – I’ve read this type of thing many times before. I’m almost always struck by how every other book spins the same information and tries to frame it in a way that is cookie-cutter for the general populace. It’s just not possible.

I’m currently reading two books, one in the car and one in print. In the car: Lost Memory of Skin (which is turning out to be really good) and I just started The Coming Jobs War. I’ll tell you about those when I’m finished.

Next to my driver’s license, the most important card in my wallet is my library card. 🙂


I did it. I completed my half marathon with a time of 2:17:36. I had set out with a goal in my head of finishing in 2:10:00 – which would have been a 10:00 minute/mile pace.

Before photo:

Holiday Half Before Run

We look excited to run 13.1 miles, don’t we? So jolly. 🙂

So close. I’ve found, however, this is really a good time over the course of 13.1 miles. I am pretty proud of myself.

And then I saw the photos. LOL

These are not flattering photos: Mile 5

Holiday Half Mile 5

And then again at mile 10
(With my half-crocked smile and cab-door ears flappin in the wind. But, I’m still smiling.)

Holiday Half Mile 10

And then, at the finish. Really pouring it on for that last tenth of a mile.

Holiday Half Finish

My friend Cory (in the yellow,) came out to run the last 4 miles with me, to help motivate me through it. He got a cool photo of me at mile 12…

And my friend Clark got a good “Thank god we’re done photo.”

I’m so glad I did it.