A Simple Walk Into Mordor…

December 30, 2012 12:31am
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I just finished watching the final installment of this 4-part series that I discovered sometime before Christmas – the premise is basically that three guys flew to New Zealand and decided to walk the full distance between the filming locations for Hobbiton and Mount Doom from the movies, or about 120 miles in 6 days.

Pretty cool adventure, though I certainly don’t envy the condition of their hobbit feet by the time the trip is over…  😕

Comment Spam Gone Wild!!!

December 29, 2012 9:42pm
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I’ve been getting a lot of comment spam on this one post in particular the last couple of weeks – I really have no idea why, save for that maybe the spambots are feeling rather festive and also share a desire to peep out adorable holiday pics of my niece and our collective dogs from last year!

Anyways, I couldn’t help but share this one because it’s absolutely insane – it looks like the bots must’ve gotten tired of me moderating everything they submitted, so instead of writing up some new comments that Akismet hasn’t heard of yet, I guess they decided to send me every single spam comment their script can output as one gigantic comment!!!

Seriously, weighing in at 3,211 words and 6 pages, this one comment would’ve been 10% longer than the longest blog post I’ve written in the last ten years of writing this blog.  😯

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The last Awesome Santa Cookie of 2012…

December 29, 2012 4:22pm
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…has officially been eaten.

If you listened closely, you may have heard me softly mumbling the words to Keep Christmas With You… between each scrumptious bite.

Until next year, Christmas!  😥

A truly useless machine…

December 29, 2012 2:28pm
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This amuses me greatly!

jello

I got the idea from the back cover of an old cookbook – you’re basically supposed to mix Cool Whip and Jello together kinda like this, except instead of doing separate layers one at a time they’re supposed to separate out by themselves while they’re solidifying.

Mine didn’t entirely do what it was supposed to – not sure if I maybe used too much Cool Whip or maybe it only works with certain shaped molds (their mold was a taller Cool Whip container, so maybe more vertical to settle between?) … but still, being sick like I am right now, that yummy, tree-shaped cherry Jello went down smooth and delicious just the same.

What shapes should I do next year?!  😆

Angry Birds Star Wars?!?!?!

December 28, 2012 12:52pm
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This one came very much out of the blue on me – I had no idea it was coming until I saw a tweet this morning!

That said, I played through a little while I was sniffling in bed this morning and from what I’ve seen so far, they did a really good job with it! The cut scenes are cute without taking a huge amount of time (I think we all know the story by now!), and the levels seem to mix the mechanics from a lot of the older games (including Space!) and also introduce some new ones as well. The character tie-ins with the individual birds, as you can even see from the logo screen above, was really done well, too.

Plus, it’s 99 cents – I love that price point where I’m willing to click Buy without even thinking about it because it’s so cheap … and then to end up scoring a really great game to boot!

May the force be with you! WeEeeeee!!!  8)

So today I had to call Wells Fargo to follow-up on a mortgage escrow refund that they had promised me three weeks ago and never delivered on, and anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that the whole experience wasn’t exactly very pleasant. I’m trying to find a way to be more positive about the whole situation, so I thought I’d put together a little list of the places where I felt they had dropped the customer service ball and what instead they could’ve done differently…

1. Don’t treat me like a number.
This is a pretty common customer service missive, but when you literally answer the phone with, “Thank you for calling Wells Fargo – can I have your account number please?” that doesn’t really leave much room for formalities like introducing each other or whatnot. Sure, the argument can be made that it’s easier to have my account pulled up in the computer before interacting with me, but it’s also just plain rude! How much harder would it be to introduce yourself and ask for my name, and then pull up everything in your computer so that we can continue?

2. Address my issue first, and THEN ask to update your records.
Along the same lines as the first, but even worse in my book – remember, I called YOU!!! – hence it can be kinda frustrating to jump through five different levels of making sure that my mailing address, contact #, alternate contact #, and e-mail address are all up to date in your system before actually addressing the thing that called in for! I get that it’s really important for your records to be accurate, but you don’t interrupt somebody and ask them a bunch of questions when they’re the one who sought you out to address an issue in the first place … let’s do my thing first, and then afterwards if you need anything from me, go for it…

3. Be more clear about the contact numbers you post online.
So when I logged into my Wells Fargo account online and clicked Call Us, here’s what I saw:

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I called the first number because I figured I needed to manage my account, but low and behold it wasn’t until nearly 10 minutes into the call that I came to realize that apparently in Wells Fargo world, Account Management is actually slang for Collections. My suspicions started to go off when the rep insisted on “reading a couple of statements,” like, “This call is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained therein can be used against you in a court of law!”

We went back and forth for far longer than we should have, especially considering that I’ve never missed a payment and my next one isn’t due for another week, until finally she admitted that she had no idea about my actual issue and needed to transfer me over to Customer Service. 

4. Do a better job of transferring my personal info when purchasing my loan.
During my exchange with the Collections agent where she tried to update my account info, one thing she noted was that the contact # she had down for me was wrong. Nevermind that despite my mortgage only being 6 months old, I’ve actually been a Wells Fargo customer since they acquired Wachovia almost two years ago … apparently they had my phone number off by a digit … even though they should have multiple numbers on-file for me.

My point is, for this particular loan me and my wife filed out approximately a zillion pieces of paperwork and I’m sure our phone numbers had to have been on that paperwork at least a dozen times! Call me crazy, but when part of your business is in buying millions of dollars in loans from smaller financial institutions, maybe it would be a good idea to transfer the customer information over for all of those loans correctly so that you can actually service them???

5. Follow through with what you had actually committed to in the first place.
And finally, the whole reason I had to go through this whirlwind phone call in the first place is because I spoke with someone at Wells Fargo back on 12/6, but that person never actually followed through with what they said they were going to do.

They also didn’t contact me to explain that there would be any issues. Sure, they may have tried with their wrong number, but again, there should be other contact #s listed on my account … they could’ve sent me an e-mail through my account … hell, in three weeks time they could’ve sent me a letter in the mail to let me know that they were having trouble getting in touch with me!

But instead according to the rep I spoke with, a case was opened and closed the same day with no indication why, and several attempts were made to call me on the wrong number, and that was it.

So in the end after speaking with two more reps in different departments, plus a supervisor, I think that my issue has now been resolved, though I honestly won’t really know for sure until the new check I’ve been promised shows up in my mailbox next week. It bugs me that I had to fight for it because whoever I talked to three weeks ago dropped the ball, whether in issuing my check or even offering to do so in the first place … I’m guessing the latter of the two because the supervisor I finally spoke to insisted on quoting me policy to correct the other rep before following through with what had been originally promised.

To be honest with you, throughout the entire ordeal the one thing the conversation was lacking was compassion – I think did more apologizing “for coming off like a jerk” than they did for making me go through this whole song and dance in the first place. And yes, I know that working customer service usually sucks because people like me call in already pissed off and most of the time it wasn’t your fault in the slightest, but still, you’re serving as the face of the corporation and its your job to defuse the situation, calm me down, and make me feel better about the whole thing so that I don’t still feel like spouting off on the Internet about it later on that night.

Up until now I really haven’t had any major issues with Wells Fargo myself, but this wasn’t exactly an experience that I’d brag to others about. 🙁

From The Telegraph in Australia…

US Gun Owners Show Off Their Christmas “Toys”
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/us-gun-owners-show-off-their-christmas-toys/story-e6freuy9-1226543962179

“Despite widespread horror after the massacre of school children in Connecticut and calls for stricter gun  laws, Christmas Day was a gun fest for many US citizens who happily posed for photos with their weaponry under the Christmas tree.”

Here’s an infographic that they also put together about Guns in America … seriously, we have more places to buy guns than food in this country, and all the rest of the world can do is scratch their heads as we fumble to deal with our gun problem.

For what it’s worth, guys, not all of us are so infatuated with these killing machines that continue to serve as tools of carnage, but unfortunately with almost as many guns as people out there in circulation right now, we’re not exactly the majority…  😳

Zero Dark Thirty – Tasteless and Unnecessary

December 27, 2012 2:53pm
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I don’t understand why this movie had to be made.

After nearly a decade of hunting the mastermind behind the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil ever, starting two wars in vain and costing hundreds of thousands of lives between soldiers and civilians, isn’t it enough that we can finally say that we got Osama bin Laden and that those 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 attacks have been avenged???

I’m not saying that Kathryn Bigelow (the director) didn’t have the right to make this movie … I just think that after all our nation has been through in the last decade after that horrific day, I don’t think the American people need an action movie out of Hollywood to solidify that we got ’em. And we wonder why other countries look at us as a nation of reckless cowboys who hold nothing sacred but the almighty dollar and an endless barrage of empty boasts of freedom.

Aside from the reported inaccuracies with regards to the use of torture in finding bin Laden’s whereabouts, I liken it to video games that tread dangerously close to events that have just recently taken place. I’m not a huge 1st person shooter fan myself, but I enjoy games like the Grand Theft Auto series – taking place in a fictional world modeled after real-world cities, and the Ghost Recon series – taking place in the real world, but with fictional conflicts. As far as simulations of wars past, I guess I don’t really mind games that revisit World Wars 1 & 2 at this point because they took place 70+ years ago at this point, though I can certainly still see how they could be deemed insensitive by our grandparents and great grandparents who may have very well fought in those wars themselves.

For the last decade we’ve been inundated by pictures of war and watching our country turned upside-down by new security measures and an ever-surmounting debt that will take generations to pay off. For most of us, May 2, 2011 was a day of relief when word traveled around the globe of this terrorist leader’s demise. We’ve been living the aftermath every single day for the last decade – it doesn’t need to be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, too.

Two Awesome Lego Creations!

December 26, 2012 8:46pm
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For fans eagerly awaiting the premiere of The Hobbit – a life-size model of the same set that Lego recently released featuring the very beginning of Bilbo’s unexpected journey at Bag End!

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(via the LEGO Facebook page – click the photo for more pics!)

Or if video games are more of what you seek, how cool is this giant Mecha Bowser, complete with plumber-munching jaws and everything?!

Mecha Bowser
(via zane_houston on Flickr – click here for a couple more pics!)

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