Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My First "Green" Bathroom


A principal has decided that homework “stifles” student motivation. Sure, why should we suck the life blood out of students who will graduate, find jobs and realize that school was a picnic when their jobs now require them to be on call 24 hours a day, work after work, work on weekends and make sacrifices for the “team” without overtime pay or even a thank you. Sure, cut them some slack now, for tomorrow they’ll be yet another lifeless worker bee in the world we call Gainful Employment.

Which leads me to my first visit to a “green” bathroom.

Today at work (where I’m expected to be on call 24 hours a day, work after work, work on weekends and make sacrifices for the “team” without overtime pay or even a thank you), I had to go to the bathroom. This happens to be a brand new building that I happened to be visiting, so imagine my surprise to find the women’s room had a tiny, uncomfortable looking commode and on the wall two buttons and a plaque explaining the two buttons. Having had bathroom experience for over 40 years, I was rather taken aback by a plaque that explained how to flush a toilet. The plaque explained that the building was “green” and that one button was for “liquid” waste, while the other button was for “solid” waste. Holy crap (pardon the pun), I now have to “sort” my own bodily functions now?

By using this system, the plaque explained, the building would save a gazillion gallons of water per year, YIPEEE!

This made me sit (on the uncomfortably small commode) and think about my bodily functions, which frankly isn’t something I prefer to do... ever. Since people can barely follow lines on a road or stop lights, how could they be expected to follow directions on which button to press after a bodily function. Therefore the argument of saving vast amounts of water was dependent upon humans actually following directions, and that could only mean that the earth would be a desolate arid ball of earth in no time at all.

That then got me to over-analyze the situation in that if I use toilet paper, was that not introducing a solid into the equation, and would my button pushing then be validated by the introduction of a solid into the bowl, therefore I would need to press the “solid” button? Of course it starts off as a solid, but since toilet paper is water soluble, at what point in the introduction to the water would it then be deemed a “liquid”, and how long did I need to hang around for this metamorphosis to occur?

Of course, after reconciling myself to a “liquid” break, I pressed the “liquid” button and watched the new commode flush the toilet paper (thankfully) and other liquid away. Of course I had to press the “solid” button to do a comparison on flush ratio (which I’m sure everyone does in their first visit to the “green” bathroom, I hope the creators took that into account when calculating the actual water savings), and found it to be only somewhat more forceful and probably adequate for flushing something deemed “solid”.

Excited about my newfound “green” bathroom initiation, I bumped into a male co-worker and asked him how he liked these new “green” bathrooms. Once again, not something you generally talk about in the halls of the workplace. He looked at me as though I sprouted an arm on my forehead. “you know!” I screeched, probably too loudly “the two buttons, one for liquids and solids”. He had no idea what I was talking about. He assured me that the men’s room was the same as usual; urinals and stalls, but no special buttons for liquid or waste.

Um... wait a minute!

Are the “green” people trying to tell us that WOMEN are the cause for the water shortage (yeah, I wasn’t aware the earth was so dangerously short on water either, and I would think that if Al Gore was right and polar ice caps are melting, that water would be the LAST thing we need to conserve). Am I being forced to sort my own waste merely because I’m a woman! Why aren’t men being forced to choose between liquid and solid? They have stalls and commodes in their bathrooms, and I’m pretty sure some of them use them to get a little liquid privacy moment, so they should be required to think before they press.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fun with Phone Company and Satellite Dish Repair Part II

Yesterday was 8 March 2007, the day where the phone company and the satellite dish company were scheduled to come out for repairs between 8-5.

I took a day off of work for this. That means a day that I could have been out relaxing, or spending time with my family was wasting on waiting for repair people. How much is that time worth to me? A lot of money if you use my billable rate from my work.

So, we'll start with the phone company. You may recall from my last post that we couldn't get a repair appointment for two weeks. I had them forward my home phone to my cell phone because my phone was dead... and they forwarded it to a car dealership. I got that resolved, confirmed my 8 March 2007 appointment (you have to confirm day, month, year with these people... don't let them tell you "friday" because to them, that could be any friday from now until 2010), and told them that although my phone worked better now, even with the annoyingly loud hum in the background, chances are that at any moment it would stop working.

The appointment was for between 8-12. In my last post I mentioned that fact that hell would freeze over if they actually showed up between those times, and as you guessed, there was no need to bundle up and start a fire... they didn't show.

At 5:20pm when I called them, they said "oh, your appointment is for 9 March 2007". No, no it wasn't. She looked again and said "oh, I'm sorry, yes, your appointment was for today, but we couldn't make it out there." That's all she said. She didn't say why nobody called us to say they couldn't come out after we scheduled this two weeks in advance. She didn't say IF anyone was going to call us to reschedule. She didn't say why as a PHONE COMPANY they couldn't CALL me to let me know so I could go back to work and not blow 8 hours of vacation time.

She then says "we can come out tomorrow... is that good for you?" NOOO. "oh, what time tomorrow would be good for you". I tell her 5pm. She says that she'll make our appointment from 3-7, but tell them to be there at 5pm... so you know how that's going to work out.

Next I call the Satellite Dish company. Oh, your appointment is for the 9th. No, it was today. She looks. Oh, yes, we have the appointment for today, but the local repair company has it for the 9th. Hmmm. Yeah, that's a head scratcher. She apologized and asked when it would be convenient for the repair person to come. I tell her Saturday between 8-12. Ok, she makes the appointment. Three hours later, we get a recorded appointment reminder of our Friday 9 March appointment. NOOOOO. We call and correct that.

So, at 8:15am, when I get a call from the repairman who is on his way.....

He calls his dispatcher and calls me back and says they changed it to Saturday between 8-12. I try to call the dsatellite dish corporate office to make SURE they had the appointment right... except now my phone doesn't work. I call on my cell... that disconnects. Luckily we have a business line, which still sorta works except it has static and a hum, and I manage to call them and confirm for the 50th time...

This afternoon I get the automated call from the satellite dish company saying that the installer will be at the house between 8-12, and I need to pull out the entertainment center to make sure he can install the components. Sigh... won't he be surprised.

By the way, its now 6:17pm and no phone company.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fun With The Phone Company

We've lived in this house for 13 years, and each year, randomly, our phone lines are overwhelmed by static. Happens every year. Every year a technician comes out and says that the box on the curb is rotted out and needs to be replaced. To "fix" our problem, he moves our line to a "better" switch. A year later, static, box is rotted, move the connection, a year later. We've run up and down that box, along with our neighbor, who also complains every year. Apparently putting a new box out there eludes the repair people.

Two weeks ago, our static was back. I set up a repair appointment conveniently two weeks in the future. Hey, who needs phones! This time when we pick up the phone at random times, we're serenaded by either really loud static, a high pitched, ear piercing shrieking noise, or silence. Wow, that's much more interesting than the past 12 years.

What luck, we have call forwarding. We can forward all of the calls coming into our home to our cell phone and not miss any of those important telemarketers or politicians! Well, the only problem with that is you HAVE to forward the calls FROM your home phone. Tell me exactly how I can do that with static, ear piercing shrieking noise, or dead phone?

I call the phone company and get a very helpful person who says that they can forward my phone, no problem. Ok, that's a scary thought that they have remote control over my phone that I don't have, and can willy nilly forward my phone wherever they want if the mood strikes them. Fine, I give the person my cell phone number and she dutifully reports that my line is forwarded.

A week later I hadn't received any calls forwarded from my house. This is very odd since every stinking night we usually get 1 or 60 telemarketer calls, so out of curiosity, I call our home number, expecting my cell phone to ring. Oh no... someone actually answers the phone and says "Fox Mitsubishi". Um. I'm a bit stunned. For a moment I actually forgot who I called. "Excuse me?" "Fox Mitsubishi, how may I direct your call?" I wanted to say "BACK TO MY HOUSE", but I just mumbled something about a wrong number and hung up.

I call Verizon and explain to the repair person that somehow my personal calls were now being directed to a car dealership. She transfers me to the person that has ultimate power to transfer my personal calls to any random business in the State of Maryland. This person went through my record and apologized for the fact that my phone didn't work and promised to get a repair person out there on the 8th before noon (and hell will freeze over if that happens, so don't bother getting all bundled up on the 8th), and I explain that I'm fine with waiting 2 weeks with a messed up phone to get that fixed, the issue was that my private calls were getting forwarded to Fox Mitsubishi.

She sputtered, I could hear clicking in the background as she typed secret commands on the ultra mega we know everything and can do what we want to your phones but you can't computer. She asked for my cell phone number and then said "oooh, the person that forwarded it put in 277, not 227, I'll fix that". More clicking. Then, ever diligent, she told me that she would call my home number and make sure it went to my cell.

She put me on hold, and seconds later, sure enough, my cell phone rang... and of course I answered it with "Fox Mitsubishi". Silence on the other end. After a painfully long silence I finally said "just kidding, its me". I thought she was going to fall out of her command chair laughing.

I still haven't gotten a phone call forwarded to my cell. Perhaps after two weeks of being forwarded to Fox Mitsubishi, the telemarketers have put us on their "DON'T EVER CALL THEM AGAIN!" list... either that or after laughing hysterically at my little joke, the phone person forwarded my home phone to some Dominatrix shop.