Wild Turkeys Visit

Ann was taking Scooter out the front door when she ran back inside and yelled "Turkeys in the driveway." I grabbed the digital camera, turned it on, and ran downstairs to give it to her. Then I went to the kitchen to look out through the garage to see the turkeys.

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Three wild turkeys, two hens and a gobbler, were in our driveway just outside the garage. The gobbler was strutting and keeping an eye out for danger.

Then the scene turned into a Three Stooges movie. Ann yelled that the batteries in the digital camera were dead. I ran to the front door, got the camera, and ran upstairs to my office where the charger is located. I opened the camera, pulled the four batteries out, opened the battery charger, extracted each of the four batteries, and loaded them into the camera. When I stood up, the strap on the camera hooked around a drawer knob and jerked the camera out my hands. It fell on the floor, dumping the four batteries onto the floor. I growled some ugly expletives, put the batteries back in the camera, locked the batteries into the camera, and ran downstairs. I gave the camera to Ann and went to the kitchen to watch.

About 30 seconds later, the gobbler took off, followed by one of the hens. The other hen ran up the driveway towards the street, then back down the driveway and took off.

Ann got one picture. 🙁

Lightning Takes Out My Home Office Network

This afternoon at 4:00pm a thunderstorm and with a nearby lightening strike knocked out our DSL connection. So I called Bellsouth for support.

Technical support by Gretta was pleasant; she asked a technician to check on my line. I was on hold for about 25 minutes. She would come back every 3-4 minutes saying “Still checking.” Eventually she came back and said “Have you forgotten to pay your bill or switched to another carrier?” I emphasized that I had paid Bellsouth on time and in full for many years. Then I got cut off.

I called back and got technician Troy. Same process: I’m on hold while he’s checking on my line. After about 15 minutes, he comes back with “Have you switched to another carrier? We don’t have any records of you being a customer.” I started getting a bit more aggressive in questioning Bellsouth’s process.

Troy transferred me to a very polite woman in customer service. After about 15 minutes of waiting, she found my records and confirmed that I was a long-time customer. She said that because I hadn’t made any changes lately, my records have been “archived” (to save space on their computer systems) and technical support hadn’t checked the archives when they looked for my phone number records.

She transferred me to another “technical” support person. He asked me a set of questions designed for a beginning user who has ADSL. (We don’t have ADSL and a modem, we have an IFTL connection with two copper lines running from the fiber box in our front yard to our house.) He had no understanding of how IFTL is different, and insisted on leading me through setting up a network connection to Bellsouth. Of course, he’d put me on hold for 5 minutes for every one minute he was ignoring my pleas that lightning had hit our connection. He just couldn’t believe that the problem wasn’t user error. Then he asked if I had switched to another carrier because he couldn’t find any record of me. Finally, he said Bellsouth would run some tests and get back to me within an hour.

Two hours later I got a call from an experienced support person. We shut down my network, ran the DSL cable directly to a PC, and added a login connection. Presto, I was connected. This told us that my router had been zapped.

It was 8:30pm. There is an Office Depot about 5 miles from my home, so I hurried to the store and bought a comparable router (which cost $60, compared to $170 the older version cost 3 years ago). I got home a 9pm and had the network connected to the Internet within 15 minutes.

Lessons:
Insist on a support person who understands the problem.
Have an alternative to your broadband connection for emergencies
(I couldn’t get my modem to dial up and connect so I couldn’t check email).
I am lost without a fast connection.

Questions:
It appears that Bellsouth is outsourcing support. Why can’t they find the records of a current customer who spends $120 every month with them? This interfered with solving the problem on every call.
If indeed my records were archived, why are they archiving current customer records?

Scooter Got Me Again

Memorial Day weekend was hot and humid in Atlanta. It felt like summer. So, for the first time this year, I didn’t wear socks to bed. (I suffer from cold feet – which is better than hot, stinky feet like my Dad and nephew James.)

About 5:30am on Memorial Day I got up to go to the bathroom. As I sleep walked to the bathroom, I suddenly felt something stuck to the bottom of my foot. As I woke up, I began to realize what it was.

Scooter Cat had dropped a turd just outside my bathroom, perfectly positioned for me to step on. He got me again. I woke Ann up spewing some unkind words at Scooter. But he maintained his Siamese attitude, knowing he would be forgiven within minutes. How can I stay mad at the creative mischief that is the spirit of Scooter?

Related link: Know Your Blind Spots

Eulogy for My Father

Below is the eulogy that I gave at my father’s burial service on October 1, 2003, in my home town of Martinsville, VA.

My father won’t have any buildings or roads named after him. But if we measure a man’s success from where he started to where he finished, my father was a very successful man.

I’d like to tell a story. On Christmas day 2001, my sister Joyce gave my sister Billie and I a gift of a photo of my father when he was a little boy. It is the only photo from his childhood we’ve ever seen. He was about twelve years old, standing in front of a unpainted clapboard shack. It was his home. His father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family during the depression, leaving his mother to raise seven children with no financial support. My father never spoke of his father.

At Christmas dinner, I asked my father what he got for Christmas when he was a boy. He said, “we always got a good meal for Christmas.”

From that beginning, my father — along with my mother Ruth — created the wonderful home at 2 Hampstead Place. He worked hard to provide his children with so much he never had. He put all three of us through college.

If I look at my father in the light of where he started and what he accomplished in his life, he was a very successful man.

Here’s the photo that Joyce found. (My father is on the right; his younger brother is in the center and his sister Nellie is on the left. In the back is a cousin who was visiting.) Every picture tells a story and this one tells me so much about my father’s childhood (which he was very reluctant to discuss). If I had really understood how he grew up and the implications of that experience, I would have appreciated his success more and forgiven his mistakes more readily.

Related Link: Hampstead Place Renamed to Myers Place

Hampstead Place Renamed to Myers Place

I wrote a letter (below) that was published on March 28, 2004, in the Martinsville Bulletin, the newspaper in my home town. (They edited out several sentences from the original letter because they do not publish letters of gratitude.)

In 1962, my parents, Tommy and Ruth Myers, found their dream home at 2 Hampstead Place in the Druid Hills area and purchased it from the Bill Franck family. It was located in a beautiful setting — in the city but surrounded by a forest. Martinsville was a wonderful place to grow up in the 1960s, friendly, safe, and innocent. In the 1970s, my sisters and I moved away to live in distant cities but we always came back to the home where we grew up for Christmas.

In 1997 my mother lost her battle with cancer. Six months later my father sold the family home to Jay Frith and moved to Kings Grant. It was a sad time for my sisters and me when we came back to Hampstead Place to pack up among all those memories in a house that seemed empty and sad without my mother¹s warmth and love.

In September 2003 my father passed away at the age of 86. Two months later I learned that the Martinsville City Council had approved a request to rename Hampstead Place to Myers Place. I was totally surprised and overjoyed.

The Martinsville City Council warmed the hearts and friends of Tommy and Ruth Myers with that vote. Charles White, who has lived in the woods on Hampstead Place for many years and knows what a special place it is, also supported the request.

However, one person deserves most of the credit for this act of pure kindness. Jay Frith had the idea, gathered the support, made the request before City Council and followed through until a new street sign was installed.

Whenever I need a positive thought to chase away the sad and tragic news that is so prevalent in the world today, I remember what Jay did to honor my parents.

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Background: Link to Eulogy For My Father

Too Close for Comfort: Wal-Mart SuperCenter Opens Nearby

May 19, the Grand Opening, finally arrived. The new Wal-Mart SuperCenter opened 1/2 mile away from our home. (If we cross the street, go behind our neighbor’s house and walk 300 yards down the hill through the woods, cross the creek, and walk 50 yards — we will be in the parking lot. Not that we would want do that!)

Several small horse farms were transformed into a huge Wal-Mart. We are witnessing the paving of Atlanta’s outer suburbs. It’s not a pretty sight.

New Sources of Energy: Solar Roofing System

Marley Roofing is a major UK manufacturer of many kinds of roofing products. They have introduced a solar tile system. “The Marley SolarTile™ was designed to integrate with the Marley Modern interlocking tile and is easily installed by fixing to standard batterns. .. Each tile has a PV laminate comprising of 10 BP Solar Saturn cells generating an output of 23Wp. Over the year a suitably orientated installation of 100 Marley Solar Tiles will generate enough electricity for a typical 3 bedroom household (excluding central heating and water heating).

Marley SolarTiles™ are easy to install, use standard battening and are completely modular to meet the requirements of any roofing application. The Solar Tile has just two parts, a Top and a Base. The tile top fits onto the base and contains the photovoltaic elements which generate electricity. The tile base fits onto the roof and provides the electrical connectors to the house wiring.” This would allow the substitution of new PV cells as they are developed.

via Ken Novak’s Weblog