Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Saga Continues...(or how social media gets results...) Part II

Tennessee is Scarier than I Remembered.

So. When we left our charming story yesterday, I had tweeted my annoyance with Comcast's ineptitude, and had received a reply from "ComcastBill." He'd asked for an email of the details of the problem I was having, and I was only too happy to oblige.

Dear ComcastBill,

The installer came today to hook up my new service. It was supposed to have included the following:

1 HD DVR box
1 HD box
1 wireless modem

We received instead

1 regular digital cable box
1 regular modem (with cable - not wireless)

Now we have to drive to the other side of town to pick up the correct boxes and install it ourselves in order to avoid an additional charge for installation. I've already been charged for the installation of the wrong things.

That's it.

I wasn't feeling particularly talkative, especially given my self-induced ban on cursing people out.

Or, as we really say down here in the south...dawg-cussing people.

Dr. SmartyPants was unhooking all the cables that the installer had spent his time hooking up so that he could take them across town to the local office and trade them for the correct things. He was not happy. There may have been some under-the-breath cursing from him, as well. I waited for a reply from ComcastBill.

And waited. And waited.

Then I tweeted again.

A few minutes later, I received an email from Bill, asking for my account number, which I promptly sent because I have nothing better to do, apparently, than to wait around for Comcast all freaking day.

Dr. SmartyPants left, not willing to risk the rest of the afternoon on Bill's prompt reply.

I may have tweeted a couple other uncomplimentary things.

An hour later, I got an email from a different Comcast dude. We'll call him Comcast Mike.


I apologize for the equipment issue.  Please "reply to all" with the phone number linked to your account and your zip code.  We will look into this with our local colleagues, and somebody will contact you to resolve.  Have a good day.



To which I promptly replied. Again. In detail. With great irritation.

I was actually halfway through the email when Dr. SmartyPants returned from picking up the correct equipment...


The phone number is blah blah blah. Zip code etc etc.

My husband has already headed to the local office to exchange the equipment and get it corrected, so that we can have our cable and Internet access today, as we scheduled. We are very disappointed with the set up process so far.

We went through your online ordering system, and it was so cumbersome and difficult to navigate, that we are not exactly surprised that the order was completely wrong. I tried very hard to get the online chat customer service rep to send me confirmation of what I ordered, but all I could get from him was the confirmation of the install date. I tried to get more information about the chat itself (as in who was "helping" me), but was only able to get the chat script records.

random number sequence signifying stupid chat with Husain.

Your online system is a mess, frankly. I'm astounded that a company that prides itself on its Internet capabilities can have a web presence that is so incredibly ineffective.

My husband just returned from the local office, and the staff there (as well as the installer whose time was wasted this morning) was incredibly nice, sympathetic, and helpful.
And, being fair-minded, I tweeted about the local office...I don't want to be a hater, people...

And he ever so quickly replied thusly:


I am glad that everything is in order now, but am sorry that it has been frustrating to this point.  Feel free to reach out any time should you need any additional assistance.

I am so glad he thought everything was in order. And frustrating is an understatement.

So, I left the Smarty at home putting the cable and internet in order and drove the boys over to their friend's house for a sleepover, confident that it would all be set up when I got home. I stayed and visited with my friend for a while, and when I got back to the house...

There was a Comcast truck sitting in the driveway.

I walked in, and asked Dr. SmartyPants where this Comcast guy had come from, and he told me that the guy had shown up 15 minutes before I got back, and said he'd heard we were having some trouble.

Mmhmmm. Twitter, anyone? Had to be.

Smarty had just finished setting up the internet, which was working fine, but he invited the guy to come in and help with the cable, since he was there.

Which turned out to be an excellent thing, because neither of the boxes that the Smarty had picked up at the Comcast office were actually working properly - they were still assigned to the old account numbers or something, so they wouldn't have worked if he'd tried to set them up.

Because Comcast is AWESOME like that.

By now, it's getting late. The boys are at a sleepover. The boxes are still not unpacking themselves.

But at least the cable is squared away, right?


Sure it we decided to go see a movie and celebrate. (Harry was wonderful.)

Saga over. Twitter FTW!

Or maybe not quite yet...Part III will tell the, ahem, rest of the saga...

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Saga Continues...(or how social media gets results...) Part I


Look! Pretty picture!

Now, let's get down to business, shall we?

You may remember that I told you about a friendly little chat I had with a Comcast customer service representative a month ago.  Well, Saturday was our install date and because the technician was scheduled to be here between 8 am and 11 am, he arrived at 11 am.

Which was awesome.

Because I love waiting.

Anyway - he comes in and gets to work, attaching cables and bringing in boxes and moving stuff around to get to the outlets. When he's finally done, and he asks us to sign off on the order, we ask a couple of questions, like what is the information needed for the wireless internet and why there is no box for the bedroom TV.

To which he replies, "You signed up for a regular modem. And one box for the living room. And that's all."

Now, when we had the friendly little chat with Husain, he promised to send out an email detailing our you recall? And I told you that his email had nothing to do with our order and was only a confirmation of our install date and time? And how I had very little confidence that anything would be correct?

I hate always being right.

We ordered one (1) HD DVR box for the living room, one (1) HD box for the bedroom, and one (1) WIRELESS (because it's the 21st century, people) modem for the house. All that was to go along with the particular package that we ordered that has HD channels.

He brought and installed one (1) regular digital cable reciever and one (1) regular WIRED modem. So, he brought a box that is not able to even get the channels that we are signed up and supposed to be paying for.


He apologized, told us we could take the boxes and modem down to the local office and exchange them out and avoid additional installation charges (which would be substantial if he came back out.)

So. We waited all morning for the guy to get there, he shows up and installs the wrong stuff, and WE can correct it.

I was a little peeved. So I tweeted this:

Shortly afterward, I tweeted this:

Which was true. He said that we'd be surprised how many wrong orders he installs. Especially those that are handled through their web orders.

I didn't tweet those things to affect any change on the universe, but rather to vent to the universe a little. I was pissed, I was tired, I needed to set up my DVR to record Glee. I had things to do, people.

But, did you know there are people who are paid to look at tweets like that? Yes indeedy-do, people. Real live people who have to read our vitriolic rants against the corporate machine.

So, I got a response...

So. did ComcastBill help?

Come back tomorrow for Part II of the saga....

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sun Sets

Sunset on Quincy

It's true. The sun is setting on our time in DC. I'm packing the kitchen today, which means
  1.  we really are leaving.
  2. we'll be eating takeout for Thanksgiving and pretty much every meal between now and then.
We've cleared our bucket list, and managed to see everything at least once, including the Pentagon last Friday. I have no pictures of that because you can't take pictures inside the Pentagon.

You can't take pictures outside the Pentagon, either.

Which explains why I was tackled on the southwest side and held at gunpoint.

Okay. That didn't happen. But it sounds a lot more exciting that what really happened, which was that a very nice Pentagon policeman stopped me as we passed his post close to the Pentagon memorial,  asked me very kindly to please delete the photos I inadvertently took because I can't read signage, and watched me as I did so.

Then he apologized for the bother.

I was hoping Denzel Washington would show up in a flak jacket, order me to the ground and frisk me just for good measure, but it didn't happen.

Oh well.

In any case - I may not post again between now and Friday - depends on how quickly things get packed in the truck, when we disconnect the Verizon here and whether the hotel we're staying in Wednesday night has internet access.

And also whether I have any energy left to type something.

If I don't see you between now and Thursday, and you happen to live in these here United States - have a fantastic Thanksgiving - eat a ton of turkey and dressing for me, okay?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

In an Instant

instant dc

I'm just going to pop in here for a moment and say that the instant dc show opening was SO COOL. There were over 200 people that came through, and at some times during the evening it seemed that they were all there at the same time. It was loud and frenetic and energetic and so exciting.

I met each of the other photographers and was absolutely blown away by how incredibly nice everyone was. It's so odd to meet people for whom you have some online knowledge - you feel as if you know them, somehow, but have never seen them, nor heard their voices. I had such a great time talking with them and firmly affixing a voice and personality with their images.

instant dc

My boys were fantastic - eagerly viewing all the action and taking their own photos of everything...

instant dc

And Dr. SmartyPants was so wonderful and supportive. I think I'm going to keep him. Plus...he looks so cute in his new groovy glasses, don't you think?

By the way...did anyone notice that he jumped out of obscurity and commented on a post last week? First time in, well, ever!

Hi honey!

Make sure you click on this picture, and view it larger...It's really cool...

instant dc

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holy Praying Mantis, Batman!


The boys and I went to Dinosaur Land today.

They had a giant praying mantis.

And King Kong.

It was pretty much the best thing I've ever seen in my whole entire life.

I'm still processing the photos...there will be more...

Oh yes. There will be...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



  • It's raining.
  • I'm baking more pumpkin bread.
  • I need to go to the grocery store and buy paper plates so I can pack up the rest of my regular ones.
  • We had a really light school day.
  • I found a new free iPhone camera app called Pudding Camera.
    • I really like it.
    • It's all in Korean.
    • I can't read Korean.
  • I need to run.
    • It's raining.
    • I need to go anyway.
    • sigh.
  • I'm going to go help hang the photography show at Fathom Gallery.
  • I'm ridiculously excited about it.
    • Which means I'm ridiculously nervous about it.
    • Because I'm awesome like that.
  • I'm waiting.
  • I'm anticipating.
  • I'm hungry.
  • It's raining.

Monday, November 15, 2010



We are at the point where boxes are accumulating in the dining room, drawers are being cleaned out and the moving truck has been reserved. We've crossed almost everything off our DC bucket list, and have made the necessary plans to cross the rest off in the next few days. Over the weekend, we did a couple of things that were on my list, like photographing some of the monuments at night and taking a 3 mile run on the National Mall.

The boys weren't really on board with the last one there, but I reminded them  of the number of times I've been to see C3PO in the Museum of American History and they decided to not gripe too much about it.


Running past these monuments was like being in a movie.  I don't know exactly how to explain it, but I felt like part of something much larger than myself. I've been on the mall a hundred times over the past couple of years, but it's never ceased being inspiring to me. The men to whom these monuments are dedicated were just men, not gods, but they stepped outside of their comfortable lives to make sacrifices for a purpose larger than themselves.

They lived epic lives.

I want to live an epic life, don't you? It won't be on the scale that Washington or Lincoln or Jefferson lived, but I don't want to go through life just making the motions and hoping not to rock the boat too much. I want to rock the boat. I want to shake things up. I don't want to do it for the sake of monuments or glory or fame or fortune, but rather because I believe life is meant to be lived epically, and I want to be an example of that for my kids.

If we each were to step out and do something impressively great, instead of passively mediocre, how would it add up? If every person in our sphere of influence were then to step up and do something bold or grandiose, how quickly would that ripple across the country? We need an epic movement of epic actions. We need inspiration and selfless acts of greatness to wake this world up and set it on fire.

So, while I'm packing up my house here, and preparing to move back to Knoxville, I'll be searching for ideas - small steps toward living an epic life. It's going to involve a lot of stepping outside of my nice little cocoon and spreading my wings a bit, but I'm going to do it.

(Ideas are welcome...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010



This is one of the things that I will miss about DC, that Dr. SmartyPants will definitely not be missing. And if I had to ride it every day, twice a day, at rush hours, I would probably agree with him.

But I don't. So I still like it.

I love the ease of it. The lack of traffic issues. The not having to find a parking place parts.


I love the people watching. Except the guy that exposed himself to my parents.

I didn't like that guy.

orange line

I like that it will take me almost anywhere I want to go. (Because you know I can walk the rest of the way...)

And I love the light that filters down the escalators when you travel back up above the subterranean tunnels.

virginia square

Especially this one. In my neighborhood.

Where I walk.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

He's a Keeper

As much as I miss Oscar, this boy makes my heart go pit-a-pat...

Raikki Romeo

Right now, he's lying on the floor, looking under the couch, and crying because he can't reach his favorite tennis ball.

It's the saddest thing, ever.

It's so sad, I can't possibly get the ball for him because it would make him stop crying and then he wouldn't be so cute.

I am, truly, an evil woman.

Pout much?

Oh, come on. You'd do it too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Still Miss Him



Oscar, Yo!

Oscar Snout

Fall Break Trip 186
Oscar (The Magnificent One)
May 31, 2000 - November 9, 2009

Monday, November 08, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to Market

farmers market

Holy smokes, I'm going to miss this.

Every Saturday, we walk a little more than a mile down our city streets to the city farmer's market. It's where I pick up my wonderful and delicious hydroponically grown lettuce that is the basis of all of my meals. I don't know how I can live without it. It makes grocery store lettuce taste like old newspapers.

We walk down together and pick out our produce for the week and sample the various fruits and vegetables...


Here, the boys are trying out the incredibly rich chocolate milk from Clear Spring Creamery - a grass-based natural dairy in Maryland. Let me tell you - I don't even like milk and I like their milk...


Everything is so beautiful and appealing - it just makes you want to eat better.


Mmm...more samples...

There is a really nice farmer's market in Knoxville - the main difference is that, well, we have to drive there. I know, I know - I keep harping on about it - the walking thing, but honestly...

It all comes down to it.

It just means that we'll have to make a habit of getting up and driving to downtown Knoxville and spending the morning getting our marketing done before we do anything else.

A new tradition - a new mindful task for our Saturdays...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010



This is one of those things I will miss the most about living in the DC area - and it has a lot to do with yesterday's post about history, but I'm going to expand on it a little with this example.

What I have loved, loved, loved, loved, LOVED is being able to put history in context. Most of you know already that we're a freaky homeschooling family, right? Well, being up here and studying American history at the same time is like eating chocolate doughnuts WITH chocolate milk.

For instance, right now, the boys are studying Abraham Lincoln and memorizing The Gettysburg Address. We've been to Gettysburg and stood on the spot where Lincoln gave that speech, and now? I'm so excited. See, here's the thing...

Lincoln gave that speech on November 19, 1863. November 19 is 16 days from today.

So, if we can pull it off, the boys will be reciting The Gettysburg Address inside the Lincoln Memorial 147 years after it was first given. We'll video tape it, of course, so I can embarrass the boys with it when they think about dating memorialize the achievement.

It's a win-win...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Back in Time

It isn't that there's a lack of historical sites in east Tennessee. There are plenty.

Its just that they are spread out over a larger area that here in the DC area. Everywhere we turn, we run into our nation's history, here. There are markers and monuments and national parks and...and...and...

Well, it's enough to keep a geeky homeschooling mama on her toes, I'll tell you.

Last Saturday, we went to Harpers Ferry, WV. It was such a fantastic trip. The entire town is now a National Historical Park. We spent the entire day wandering around the buildings, reading about the town's history, which was long and vibrant, and enjoying the beautiful autumn day.

What a treasure.

Even Raikki had a good time...he especially enjoyed the public water fountains...

Just a Little

Monday, November 01, 2010

Walk On


Of all the things I've enjoyed about living in Arlington, VA, this is the one I believe I'll miss the most. It's such a simple thing, but something that - as a family - we'd not done much before we moved here.

What is it?


Living here, we walk everywhere - because everything we need is in within walking distance. In an average week, I drive our car once. We walk to the grocery, to the library, to the park. We walk to restaurants, shops, Starbucks. We walk to the train and then to all the museums and monuments available to us in DC.

We map out our walks sometimes - we may cover close to 6 miles in a sight-seeing day, easily.

There's something about walking to get where you need to go. There's time to talk and time to notice and time to enjoy the change of seasons and the differences in the light. There's time to hold hands and laugh and hug. There's opportunity to stop and marvel at the high-rise building that, only months before, was a huge hole in the ground. There's time to walk off the burger and beer from the Talky Beer Place.

I'm not sure how we'll handle the lack of walking when we get back to Knoxville. We can't walk TO anywhere there. We live in a neighborhood full of houses, instead of a neighborhood full of everything. Our sidewalks lead to highways instead of grocery stores. It's a big difference to walk for the purpose of walking, rather than for the purpose of going somewhere...

...and I'll miss it.

Hey! Go check out quirk! It's completely quirkalicious this month...