Let's start on Monday, September 15th (Skip the boring stuff):
I wake up from a long day on Sunday, and felt it was acceptable to sleep in on Monday, since I had nothing to do. On the previous day, Keat received payment (in cash) from our neighbor for dog sitting, and splits it with me, since I did half of the work as well.
Our friend Kat, had also paid me $22. I had forgotten why, but realized it was because I had purchased some domains for her, and she just paid me back.
I start to clean the house a bit, because it needed to be done.
12AM, Tuesday, September 16th
Keat and I sit down and start watching "Good Morning, Vietnam", which is a Robin Williams film (rated R, 1987). I had never heard of it, but Netflix suggested it, and it was actually pretty good. There is actually a scene in there where the Robin's character seems really down and depressed, and when he is greeted by his fellow soldiers, they all show their support for him, then have to drive away. Robin's expression said it all for his recognition in today's society (and, sadly, he will be missed).
Keat and I are still up, so we decide to start watching "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." All throughout the film, we were curious how Disney got the rights to some famous WB cartoon characters, the fact that Christoper Lloyd (Doc Brown from "Back to the Future") was a bad guy, and how they did all of the cartoon/real life interactions in 1988 - almost a decade before CG and at least a decade before Space Jam.
Keat hits the hay while I stay up and write. I didn't see a reason to go to bed for roughly 2 hours, since I had to leave to teach at AB Tech at 8:30 in the morning.
I stop my writing for the time being, getting roughly 2600 words written, and cresting 77,000 total words. The fact that I'm almost finished with Book 3 was exciting to me, and I hope to finish it by the end of the week. Regardless, I take a shower and get dressed to leave.
Leave for AB Tech
Walk in, talk to my Advisor, get the key to my room, unlock it, then start talking to her about some Spring courses that I may be teaching. After a few minutes, I head back to my room, only to find that it has been closed and locked. Apparently, one of the other instructors, talking to my Advisor's Boss (the official terms are a bit lost) thought the room was open and unused, so he locked up. After I told him the situation, he apologized and unlocked the door. I walk in and start setting up for my 10am class.
Class begins. I do the Riddle of the Day, take attendance, and show them the instructions for the lab of the day.
A lot of people are having questions about the lab (Installing Windows 8.1 on a Virtual Machine). I install Win 8.1 on the Instructor Machine, going through the same motions, and spend roughly 15 minutes trying to find a solution. I did find one, let everyone know, then informed my Course Advisor about the situation. Apparently, a key step was left out of the instructions, but it has been rectified.
I start to shut down the class, get asked a few computer questions by some students, and lock up.
I leave AB Tech campus to head back home and sleep.
(In case you didn't care about the above stuff, the real story begins here)
Location: I-40 West, just short of Exit 27 (the exit to Waynesville). I'm on the left lane. My car starts to slow down a bit. I step on the gas pedal to maintain speed, but notice that my RPM guage is only around 2-3, where usually it is around 5-6, so it did seem a little low. Coasting toward Exit 27, I notice that my "TRAC OFF" light comes on. The only other times that I've seen that is when I am on very loose gravel or ice.
Realizing that my car is starting to act funny, I start to steer right, but find out that my power steering has locked up. Not good. So I try to force it, but to no avail. Therefore, I do the only other thing I can think of: slightly turn left to get off the road. My car continues to slow down. The gas pedal is doing absolutely nothing. I crawl to a stop as far left as I can, but not completely off the road (see image below - the circle is roughly where I was stopped, and how much of my car was still "in the road"). As soon as I stop, all of my dash lights go off. In a slight panic mode, I cut the car off, wait a few seconds, then try to start it again. After a bit of revving, it starts, then immediately quits. I try it a few more times, but the same effect happens.
So, since I remembered that I had "Roadside Assistance" through my auto policy, and a GPS-enabled device that tracked my travels, I called State Farm. In a slight panic mode (again), I ask "Is this the line for offroad assistance?" (Keep in mind that I am sitting on the left side of I-40W with cars and trucks zooming past me at 75+mph, only mere inches from sideswiping or nicking me) The person understood what I was asking and said that my policy did cover this, but they needed to verify my name, address, and date of birth. I gave them that. Then, I was transferred to "Roadside America", which would be handling the scheduling and all of that.
After a few minutes of "Hold music", I was finally answered. The person on the other end was extremely calm (kudo points), but had absolutely no idea where I-40 was. They also spent roughly 10 minutes "trying to pinpoint my location" using my GPS device, which I have 2 in the car: the device from State Farm, and my phone. After "pinpointing" my location, they asked if I was "in the city of Haywood County". No, it's not a city. The closest "city" I would be near would be Canton or Clyde, depending on which direction you go. I keep saying "I'm on I-40 West, just short of Exit 27". They asked "what is the name of the exit?" I said "Exit 27, it leads to Highway 19/23", which the person didn't understand. So, after going on Hold (again) for about 5 minutes, still watching and fearing for the cars, the person told me that they "found a towing company. They are 6 miles away. Is that acceptable, or do you have a preferred towing location?" I respond, "Do I have a choice?" They respond back, "Okay, here's there number." Then, they told me "the towing company isn't a towing company. I have found another towing company that should tow you to another body shop. Here's there number." (Keep in mind that I do not have a pen and paper handy, because I'm scared for my life for all of the cars and trucks that are zooming past me - also, keep in mind that I AM NOT COMPLETELY OUT OF THE ROAD.) They then told me "The body shop isn't a body shop. Well, it's not a mechanic. Here's the number for a mechanic shop." (Still, freaking out every few minutes as more trucks and cars fly past me within inches of striking me - which some of them honk and flip me the bird.) Okay, I thought, maybe this chaos is almost over.
Suddenly, they said that in order to schedule the Tow Truck, I would have to pay $50, along with an $11 service charge. I respond (frantically), "Okay, just get it done." (Thinking I'm glad that I have cash right now, because my father always told me to "carry cash around, because tow truck drivers don't take checks or cards")
The person (Roadside America) asked, "Is it okay to proceed with the charges?"
RA: "Okay, we will need your credit card information."
Me: "Okay, you should already have that on file. Can't you just charge it?"
RA: "No sir, we do not have that on file. I will need your name, card number, and expiration date to proceed with the charges."
Me: *sigh* "Okay, my name is ____, card number is ___, and expiration date is ____."
RA: "Just to verify, your name is ___, card number is ___, and expiration date is ___. Is that correct?"
RA: "Okay, we will need the billing address to proceed with the charges."
Me: "Okay, okay! My billing address is _____, Waynesville, NC 28786."
RA: "Your billing address is _____, Waynesville, 28786?"
RA: "Okay, the charges have successfully gone through. I will need to put you on hold again to call the towing company to come pick you up."
Me: "Okay, okay, please hurry. I'm still on I-40 about to be sideswiped at any minute!"
RA: "Please hold."
RA: "Okay, sir, I have contacted the towing company, and the highway patrol to inform them of your situation. A police car should be there within 5 minutes to make sure you're not sideswiped, and the tow truck should be there within 45 minutes."
RA: "Thank you for calling Roadside America. I will call you back on your phone to verify the schedule." (Hangup)
At this time, it is roughly 1:25PM - it has taken me roughly 30 minutes to schedule the tow truck to come.
Shortly after, I see a tow truck going down I-40 East, and turn its lights on, which usually means that they found me and need to turn around. Unfortunatly, the closest exit is 31, which means they will need to travel roughly 3 miles down I-40E, then 3 miles up I-40W to get me. The tow truck pulls in front, sticking out into the highway more than me, and the guy tells me to stay in the car (the only possible way out was through my driver window, because the door couldn't open for me to get out, and getting out on the right side was suicide).
The tow truck towed me up, with the IMAP car showing up shortly after, making sure to keep the traffic away. The tow truck drove across the highway, to the right side, and the guy told me to get out, so I did. I filled out a bit of paperwork for him, then got in his truck, riding backward to Canton. We arrive at Singleton's automotive (which I had been meaning to try anyway) and thanked the tow driver profusely, since he risked his life to rescue me. He told me that "Next time you call roadside assistance, tell them that you're in the middle of the highway and some urgency is needed, because you're in a dangerous location!" I told him I did, and the person did not understand.
At 1:45PM, I sat in Singleton's awaiting for the result and final paperwork. I filled that out, asked if I owed anything right now, and they said No, so I called Keat to come pick me up.
Keat picks me up, I explain everything, and she stops by McD's because we are both hungry. After sitting in the drive-thru for about 10 seconds, the car in front of us honks their horn, meaning that they had been there for a while and not been helped. So we go across the street to Sonic's and pick up some popcorn chicken. We head home, I get undressed, then get a call from Singleton's saying that the problem is my Fuel Pump - apparently, it had lost pressure and needed replacement. Labor and parts would be an estimated $589.40 (or something like that). I sighed, thinking "There goes all of my money" and agreed to it. It was either "Pay $600 now and get my car fixed, so we can have 2 cars, or scrap that one and pay $5000+ for a new(er) car." I would rather keep my old car right now.
Afterwards, we both take a nap before Keat needs to head in to work at 6 (starting at 7:30).
Keat gets up from the bed, gets dressed, and leaves for work. I stay in bed until roughly 3AM when she calls saying that she is off. And that is where we are now.
I can't believe that it took that long and that much just to get a tow truck scheduled, and the fact that partner programs with State Farm don't have access to client files is ridiculous. They should have access to all client files and automatically charge them (upon permission) instead of having to relay all of that information, especially if one is sitting on the left side of the highway and may not exist within the next few minutes.
It has been some crazy past few weeks. Let me do a quick summary of what's happened:
- I got into work today at 9:45am. Yes, AM! I had a crazy idea (based on an American Dad episode - the one where Roger has the "Sidney" persona that takes the hit out on himself. You remember that one? Don't cha? Right? Anyway...) to place my glasses by my "alarm". I turned off the alarm at 8:15 this morning (because Keat had to get into school before 10), reset it for 9, and went back to sleep. I got up at 9, turned off the alarm, and put my glasses on. Somehow, I felt more....awake and didn't want to go back to bed. So I got dressed, shaved, etc, and went into work. Anyway, I spent 2 hours going through my Reader and finding a lot of interesting business- and website-related articles that I felt would be good resources to share with the interwebs. So I scheduled i-don't-know-how-many posts into the Shadow Dev facebook page all the way through August 30, posting 2 per day. I then got the green light from Tom to send out an intro letter to a potential client in Asheville (after much editing), and sending some carefully worded explanations out as well. Afterwards, I worked on the Analysis followup links (see more below) and created that from almost-scratch to finished; jQuery, Paypal, form creation, and all, in a matter of about 2 hours. I then worked on a
setInterval()on the Shadow Dev β site making random testimonials show up in a testimonial box every 4.5 seconds. That took about an hour or so. I had the hardest time figuring out 1) how to have the loop continuous, then 2) having the previous entry fade out, then the new one fade in. Afterwards, I met with Marti (see below) at 2 and met with her until about 4:45ish discussing different and new Project Management techniques, forms, and methods, along with a "Project Closure" sequence, which is new to me. I was getting things prepped for my teleconference at 7 when Tom sent me some requested files for the Maintenance and Rewards programs. I used the files he sent over to create the Rewards and Maintenance pages (finally). After I got done with that, I realized that I was supposed to meet Eric at Frog Level at 5 for casual beers. I hope he doesn't feel bad that I stood him up...? It was about 6:40 when I was done with the previous item, and I thought I would lay down for about 15 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes, and an alarm that would wake me up at 6:55. I started it (I saw it counting down), then went to lay down. About ~15 minutes later, I wake myself up, thinking that I overslept...again (see below). I woke up a minute before 7pm. Freaking out, I go over to my phone and try to call in. I see that my phone had only count down 2 seconds (from when I put it down), so it never counted down from 15 minutes. Somehow, I don't think my phone doesn't like to set alarms on Wednesday nights (see below, again). I called in to the teleconference, participated, and we were done in about 45 minutes. I then took it upon myself to clean out the office fridge. Long story short: it was over-freezing, so we turned down the temp. and the ice melted - all of it, so I transferred some out and emptied it in the sink. I then went home and watched some Big Bang, Futurama, Big Bang, and Battlestar Galactica. And that's just TODAY!
- So, my Wednesday went a little wonkier than usual. I'll skim through the rest:
- I created a Quote Generation System for Shadow Dev. I also created a Automatic Quote Followup system to send an email to the person who generated the quote for a followup. Quite nice if I say so.
- The HCC Student Incubator was delayed until the beginning of September.
- We recieved a new client: Premier Vacation Rentals
- We gained a new staff member: Marti Daves! She comes to us with plenty of Project Manager experience, with a fine interest in hand-coding web development. Certainly a great addition to our team.
- We re-worked the packets, again. Removed some pages, added some, and added a design to some of the packet folders. Hopefully, the response rate will be better.
- Ordered 20 more bowls and sign holders. I find it hard to believe that each GLASS bowl was $1.44 each, but each PLASTIC sign holder was $5.34 each. It was pretty expensive, but the source for the sign holders was the least expensive option out of all of them that were researched.
- I modified our Quota page to show what the Quarterly bonus would be if Quota is met. Should make things easier to manage
- I created a newer version of a Contract Creator. Adding in some new clauses, price modifications, and service inclusions, and the new created contract is better than ever!
- We launched the new SMDC design. Now to implement the information.
- Added something a little different to a client: Instead of processing credit cards (as expected), they wanted "House" accounts (as in, give us your name, and we process your card on file). That wasn't discussed during the project negotiations, so the checkout system wasn't developed with that in mind. But, we did it.
- Our first Contest winner won the free website, and turned it down, which is good and bad for us. Good: we have less work and don't have to shell out a loss to cover it. Bad: the Winner doesn't get a new site or PR, and we don't get good PR for offering this. Let's see how Round 2 goes...
- After the last Monthly Meeting, I delegated out "Drinks with Geeks" and "Hello World". Good news: less on my plate to take care of. Now just to train/help the delegatees on how to do that.
- I also created an auto-followup for websites that are analyzed using our GetMyAnalysis.com analyzer. For the past few weeks, the followup email would say "Get ____ service!" with a link, but never went anywhere. Now, the ordering page has all 3 services available, along with a checkout system (see above for more detail).
That's it for business. If you got this far, I know you're tired of reading this. I'll finish the rest quickly.
First, a bonus comic:
- I reworked my Magic deck using Core 2013 cards. My battles with Chip and Keat are going better, and I'm not being slaughtered as badly.
- I am now the Project Manager for Pi Lambda Phi Internationals for the front-end portion of the website. I didn't know what to expect, but I thought it would be a good PR rep, along with experience in the PM world.
- Allstate was charging me $51/mth for auto insurance. Peaking my curiosity, I searched for some quotes from other companies. Out of all of them, State Farm had the best rate at $37/mth. The rest were $44-84/mth (Geico, Nationwide, Progressive (which has a very flash-heavy version), Farmers (they operate as 21st Century around here), and more). I received an auto-followup email saying that my rate was $34/mth. I went to talk to the agent with a few questions, and she said that it was ~$32/mth. Maybe if I keep talking, it may drop below $0/mth! That'd be nice. Anyway, the same auto coverage I was getting from Allstate for $51/mth, I can get for $32/mth from State Farm. Talk about saving $100's (actually, about $240/yr). I have nothing against Allstate - I know my parents have been with them for years, and my policy was spun off about 6 months ago. My Allstate agent was super nice and helped me out a lot. State Farm just provided a better rate.
- I tried watching the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. I'm sorry, but 5 episodes in, and I couldn't get into the storyline. It's too much like Warehouse 13, which I also couldn't get into.
- I started watching Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 version, with Katee Sackhoff). I'm not totally immersed like I was with Doctor Who, but I like it. Maybe it's because I'm writing a futuristic space-based manga called Phoenix Eye. I don't know...
- I visited a new Jamacian restaurant around here called One Love. I gotta say: for being out in the middle of nowhere, it was some pretty good food! And not badly priced, either! As soon as I get my paycheck, I know where I'm going again!
- I gathered the stamina and finally went to a meeting of the "Smoky Mountain Model Railroad Club" 3 weeks ago. I've had their brochure for about 6+ months. The club was mainly about O-Scale trains. Those are nice, but I prefer my N-Scale. I met a guy named Eric there and we tried to go train-spotting during the following week. Due to some bad communication with the relays, our spotting turned up empty. Regardless, it was good to meet someone new. We went to a guy's house in Canton who had a super-ginormous N-Scale layout that he had been building for 20 years. Let's just say that it puts my old 4'x8' plastic-grass oval track to shame. No, worst than shame; I may be in the same "sport" as him, but my set would be "Here's how to play Tee-ball" while his was MLB Atlanta Braves (I'm no sports fan, so if my analogy is incorrect, please let me know). I brought out my N-Scale set and a few books and hope I can go back soon and run my set.
- Keat and I helped Janet cater a super-fancy party for one of Janet's friends. Let's just say that this guy's garage was the size of our house! He was super-nice, and certainly blows away the "I have a vault-load of money, therefore I have the right to be snooty" stereotype. I don't think this guy could be more friendly. Regardless, the catering event was fun, even if we did walk around for about 8 hours.
- I am working on a new service called CityFix. It's only in Phase 1 so far, and I'm doing some additional research in order to complete this service. Apparently, there is a need for this, but it hasn't been thoroughly met...yet!
- I receive daily emails from Randy Glasbergen's publisher for his comic. I will say that I appreciate his humor and quick wit, he has some super-strict copyright policies. If his comic is republished on ANY format, it is $25 per showing. Thank you Randy, but I don't have the budget to shell out $25 per comic. Maybe later...
- I found a new YouTube series I like: Doctor Whooves. Yes, you read that right. I think my "Brony" is showing...
- Keat and I attended a MTN. RENDEZVOUS Archery event late July. Personally, I thought "Okay, I pay $10, I get to shoot 10, maybe 15 targets down a range. Not too bad." Instead, Keat and I found out that it was 40+ targets in a woods-style shoot (uphill, downhill, around trees, across creeks, etc). It was 1 arrow per target. 5 pts for the animal (ranging from a rabbit to a bear), 8 points for the inner ring, and 10 points for center ring. I don't recall our scores, but (I believe) Keat beat me during the first 20, and I beat hear during the last 20. $10 for 40+ challenging targets? I'd do that again! (Minus the ticks - I found one on our bed during the next day, and one under my nipple (stop laughing) later that same day). Keat also found a local supplier of traditional archery supplies! Not too bad for one crazy and tiring day!
Okay, that's enough from me for now. Ranting over. Enjoy this penguin:
Tags:#thesystem #garfield #penguin #facebook #reader #americandad #rewards #maintenance #futurama #bigbang #quote #client #hcc #packets #bowls #contract #smdc #contest #magic #mtg #allstate #statefarm #doctorwho #torchwood #galatica #onelove #nscale #janet #archery