Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fibromyalgia and Food "Fix"

Years back, when I worked a desk job, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

I had been running regularly, working out, taking aerobic classes, and was very active (but not overly so). Slowly I got to the point where getting out of bed in the morning was painful. I hurt. I was miserable. Sleep was sporadic and I was slugging through the day.

Luckily, being in a management position which gave me fantastic health benefits, I was able to work with my doctor to try and figure out the cause. We did every test imaginable over a long period of time. Finally I ended up with a rheumatoid specialist who came up with Fibromyalgia.

She gave me a whole slew of prescriptions and toldl me to get on the treadmill and walk for ten minutes a day. I laughed, thinking of the races I used to run & thought she was really underestimating my abilities. I couldn't walk for five minutes.

I filled the prescriptions and took them for a few days. I really, really 1) hated the idea of taking all those pills and 2) hated the side-affects. I stopped and went back to being miserable.

However, I didn't give up. I started a search for another answer. I did NOT like the idea of being weak, spiraling into medicine dependence, or being labeled.

I ultimately went to see a nutritionist. Not your typical hospital nutritionist (here's your food pyramid, eat like it says). I went to a private doctor who believed in using food, vitamins, minerals and all that's natural to combat illnesses.

She put me on what she called a shock diet. Nothing white in my diet at all for two weeks. If it was processed with anything white I couldn't eat it. It truly was a shock. I went through withdrawals I suppose. For about three days I walked from refrigerator to pantry to almost banging into walls as I detoxed from all the junk I had been eating (I thought I was a healthy-eater!). By the time the 2 weeks were over I was comfortable with eating whole foods and rather liked the diet.

Long story, but after the shock diet, dumping all the vitamins I thought I needed and narrowing them down to a few select choices, changing my diet, etc. I have never had any of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia... It wasn't an overnight process but it was a fairly quick turnaround. (Note: when I go back to bad eating habits, don't allow myself to get sufficient sleep, I can tell when my body is heading back in the yikes direction. I adjust and get back on track.)

That was my very first real experience with looking at diet and nutrition as a "cure" rather than going with the drugs most doctors automatically prescribe. Since then I've looked for doctors who say diet, exercise, lifestyle before pulling out the prescription pad. They are hard to find.

When my cholesterol started going up my doctor (at the time) told me I just had bad genes, luck of the draw. She "allowed" me two months to try and decrease it before starting me on Lipitor. It went up. I was half-ass about working on it at the time, bought into "gene" thing.

Later I did some research, read how I could lower it naturally with diet and proper exercise. I ditched the Lipitor. My cholesterol is well below the top range and has stayed there for years. My doctor still insists on testing it more often than usual to monitor :-)

I could tell more tales...I have politely argued with many doctors, done it my way and been successful in every instance. Good research and culling through all the hype of the current fads is crucial.

I'm not saying that diet can cure everything, but we really should give it a shot first. Even if it's not "the" cure eating healthy sure will help with fighting whatever you are facing.

I now have an OK doctor. She's not "into" the same things I am but when I walk in and tell her I'm doing this or that she says OK, try it, go for it, we'll do blood tests and see how it works. She has even given me some natural alternatives when I asked. She's still a prescription pad grabber first type, but she's agreeable to trying other things.

I am getting ready to tell her I've gone totally plant based. That's going to be an interesting conversation!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Disapointed in Van's Foods...

It's getting harder and harder to find things that don't have cane sugar, dextrose, corn syrup, or some other really bad-for-you sweetener. One of my no-sugar faves has been Van's Foods gluten-free waffles. They had three that were fruit juice sweetened. The regular, the blueberry and the apple cinnamon.

Not only were they gluten-free, sugar-free (fruit juice only), they were and are dairy free, egg free, non-gmo and a whole bunch of other great things. The perfect treat. 

I didn't pay attention.

They changed the blueberry at some point and now they are cane sugar sweetened. Yuck. I have two boxes I'll have to toss in the trash.

Realizing they'd changed their package had me label-reading again. I discovered that the couple of Classico spaghetti sauces I usually picked up had also changed and now had sugar. They were great without it.

I guess it's just getting to the point in our America that if it isn't sweetened with sugar it isn't going to sell.

I don't think a little bit of sugar is horrible for someone. But when every single thing that's stocked on grocery --- and health food --- stores these days has sugar there is no such thing as a 'little bit of sugar'.

Have you seen the stats on children and diabetes? Have you seen the stats on overweight and obese children? I know I'm on a soapbox and most are walking by shaking their heads, but I'm gonna stay on it and maybe a few will go out and do a tiny bit of research, think about what is being pounded into our heads by non-stop advertising.

I wonder why so many of our so-called health foods are chocked full of sugar?

I think it's getting ready to be a hot-button issue. I sure hope it will be.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On the hunt for sugar-free frozen potatoes...(Healthy Eating Post) - updated

I am a lazy cook. I used to do gourmet meals, spend time in the kitchen, but there's just way too much to do in life these days. I'd rather be in the studio!

Given there's only two of us, buying fresh often results in a lot of waste. I toss half of what we buy sometimes simply because we like variety and we can't eat a whole bunch or bag before it goes bad.

I'm not into buying real potatoes, cleaning and cooking them either. Yep, lazy cook. I will at times but when I want hash browns for breakfast or fries for dinner I want them now.

If you've read any of my past posts you know I don't eat any form of added sugar. It works for me...maybe not for you. I have found so many benefits from cutting it completely out of my diet over the years! Plus I've learned it's easier to ditch it all rather than try to eat just a little. I always want more and the craving cycle starts.

I've looked for frozen potatoes without added sugar over the past few years without success. Now that I'm moving to a much higher plant-based diet I wanted, needed, some potatoes. I got serious about finding some.

Who would have thought that finding hash browns, home fries or other frozen potato products without added sugar would be a problem? Did you know that your Ore-Ida, Alexia, etc. have sugar on them? It's getting harder and harder to find things that don't have some form of added sugar.

I know many of you are saying something along the lines of "who cares?". If you're diabetic they tell you not to eat potatoes anyway, sugar or no added sugar. Most of you already think I'm over the top with my 'no sugar' life-style! Give up cookies? cake? candy?

If you're eating sugar and you know it, that's one thing. But if you are eating sugar in your blue cheese salad dressings, mayonnaise, and other items that don't need or call for sugar, it seems kind of sneaky. According to some statistics over 80% of what you buy these days has added sugar. I dare you to go to the store and fill your cart up with things that have no added sugar...and try to go just five days without sugar. Bet you spend those five days craving the stuff, talking yourself out of giving it up. You will go through withdrawals.

I recently watched a fairly short documentary narrated by Katie Couric titled "Fed Up". If you have kids, or you struggle with your weight, I'd highly recommend that you watch it.

Here's the trailer:
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCUbvOwwfWM)

I looked at every single bag in the grocery store's regular frozen food section. No luck. Every single bag had added sugar, plus many had things I couldn't pronounce. I went on-line looking at ingredients. No luck until...I finally found ONE company that doesn't add sugar to their potatoes: Cascadian Farms.  (http://www.cascadianfarm.com/products/frozen-potatoes). Guess where I'll be heading later today??? They sell them at Kroger in their healthy section. They probably sell them at Publix and other stores, too. They are organic, too! Big plus.

Here's another documentary, from Canada that's well worth watching.




 And one more (I keep finding them and adding):




I found some interesting sites while on my search:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48 - interesting take on the much-maligned potato
http://www.potatopro.com/ - loads of information
http://www.potatoesusa.com/index.php - United States Potato Board

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Shopping at Sams Club (Healthy Eating Post)

I was pleasantly surprised to see more organic offerings in the aisles as I wandered. There is very little I will buy at Sams aside from paper products as they only stock the most popular selling items. Sadly that means some of the most unhealthy stuff that exists usually.

They've always had a sampling of organic fresh veggies such as spinach, kale and lettuce. This time I noted they had carrots --- non-GMO labeled, too. I found a number of things that were labeled non-GMO.

I didn't find any organic fresh fruit. Maybe they had some frozen organic but I already have enough so didn't check it out.

The organics things they had on the dry / non-refrigerator/freezer aisles included some soups, some chips and a few other items. All but one of them had sugar of some sort. I don't do sugar. It was nice though to see a better selection.

I found some non-GMO/organic rice with kale and chia seeds that I grabbed to try. Very good, had it for dinner when I got home. It's microwavable stuff, too. I hate to spend the time cooking any more, just too much to do in this world. Dislike cleaning up even more than cooking...

re: Healthy Eating Post - I thought I'd start labeling them with that title just so those who could care less will know to skip them. That is assuming anyone at all is reading along...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

People think I'm crazy...

Yep, they do. Well, I probably am in many ways that seem normal to me...but the one that most of my "normal" friends and family think I'm over the top about is what I eat.

I'm usually the lone one who asks for a veggie plate at a banquet. I'm the one my Mom calls before I go visit to find out if I'll eat this or that...and no matter how many times I tell her I'll find something to eat she still wants to try. I love her all the more because she does try, even though she thinks I'm crazy! I'm the one who gets the call asking if I'll bring my own food at Board meetings or other day-long events because they can't figure out what to order for me.

Now I'm kind of inching toward going vegan. I'm already a self-titled vegetarian. I will drink milk, eat some cheeses and eggs and haven't cared if my gluten-free, sugar-free waffles were made with dairy (I just discovered they aren't!). Going vegan means I'd give up all by-products with dairy, cheese, eggs and other food items made with animal products.

I'll tell you up-front that I think animals are on this earth so we can eat them and / or wear them. I've been a vegetarian since my teen years. I've probably bought and cooked meat three times in the past 20 years --- to feed someone else. Grass fed, hormone and antibiotic meat raised the way they used to be raised, of course.

I've known that it was kind of hypocritical to not eat meat because of the way they're processed, fed, treated, but give a pass to the milk, eggs, and other products produced from those same animals. I buy organic, cage free, but haven't been as stringent when it comes to the mixes, frozen waffles, etc. that I buy for convenience.

As I wrote in a previous blog I have been watching all kinds of food and health related documentaries while I'm walking on the treadmill. They have finally convinced me to give it a shot.

I'm going to move slowly, not go hog wild (pun intended).

I am going to majorly increase my veggie and legume consumption. I am going to only buy vegan processed foods (like my waffles). I pulled the cheese out of the fridge and tossed it in the freezer so I can give it to someone in the family who eats cheese. I left some things in the fridge because my husband is not on the same page and so we'll have dual eating habits.

I'm doing this for two main reasons that have a lot of subsets.

1- the health benefits. I watched, and then read, enough to see clearly that meat, dairy, etc. eaters had much higher incidents of a wide, wide assortment of illnesses. I won't bore you with all the details but it was enough to make me dig further and ultimately decide that our food and diets have changed over the past 50 or more years and it just ain't healthy to eat them pigs...

2 - the way we raise and process our meats is disgusting, criminal, horrific. Castrating animals without any anesthesia? cramming them into pens? cutting off beaks? grinding up live chicks? Not to mention the deplorable working conditions for those who work in the meat processing plants.

This isn't a "new years resolution", it's something I've been moving toward for a while and yesterday watching one of the movies again things crystallized in my mind.

Here's my plan:

  • No cheese.
  • No eggs.
  • No butter.
Just doing those three is going to be a major adjustment but I'm not stopping there...
I will:
  • Use organic, non-GMO, farm raised cow milk in my morning tea for a while until I've cleansed my palette and adjust to the other changes. That's the only time I use milk and I that tea is a vice I enjoy too much to ditch. Gosh, I am already doing enough crazy without depriving myself of my early-morning enjoyment!
  • Substitute vegan foods (waffles, mayo, butter, etc.) for some of my current choices.
  • Include a daily veggie smoothy with some fruit (decided the juicing was for the devout)
  • Eat more legumes, seeds and nuts.
  • Make my plate 70+% veggies.
  • Take a B12 supplement off and on. 

Those are some major changes for yours truly. I'll keep you posted. I had a vegan waffle with half a banana, natural peanut butter and organic raisins for breakfast. Wonder what I'll do for lunch?

My friends and family thought I was crazy before. Now they are going to think I'm certifiable.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Juicing or not?

I've been watching a ton of health related movies since getting a Roku which gave me access to Netflix, Amazon and a bunch of other channels. I usually watch them as I'm walking on the treadmill. It makes me feel virtuous to do double-duty, plus it motivates me to keep on moving.

It's been very interesting and educational. I've watched "Food, Inc.", "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead", "Vegucated", and other similar movies.

After watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead I decided to experiment a bit with juicing.

I don't really need to lose a ton of weight although I wouldn't mind dropping some. My main reason for wanting to try juicing is to get a few more veggies in my system. I'm also a bit concerned about my joints as I've had issues off and on for years since I pushed myself too hard and fast when training for a marathon. Long story but the end result has been an inability to run marathons...or for any length of time.

Tale after tale of people getting of medications, reversing diseases or chronic conditions sparked a strong interest. I'd like to prevent going down the path of doctor visits, prescription medications lined up on the counter, poor health, lack of energy, obesity, brain-fog, and all those other negatives that are so prevalent these days.

I'm a vegetarian, been one since my teens. I don't eat sugar of any sort except, horrible I know, Splenda in my hot tea in the morning (more on that sinful choice at some other time). I stopped with the gluten long before it became a fad. Despite all of those so-called "healthy" food choices I know I am addicted to carbs. Give me a choice between a piece of toast and a stalk of broccoli and guess which one I'll grab?

I have a Nutribullet and had been using it for smoothies but I thought juicing might be a better option. I get plenty of fiber so ditching the natural fibers isn't that big a deal for my intestines, but I am not thrilled with tossing all the good stuff out.

My daughter-in-law loaned me a juicer. She had tried it, said it was messy, a hassle, she'd done it a few times and given up.

I just tried my first juicing. It's messy, it's kind of a hassle and something I may or may not do again! I made a kale, strawberry, apple concoction. It was good. If someone else made it and handed it to me I'd love it.

Right now I have a bunch of glob-filled things in my sink waiting to be cleaned. And the residue on my little glass is not appetizing. My teeth may be green also. 

I'm kind of thinking that maybe I'll just stick with the Nutribullet. I can toss all the same stuff in it, whir it a bit and have a filling, fiber-rich, vitamin-rich drink.

I did learn a few things during the process though. I have been making my smoothies completely backwards. I've been fruit heavy.

I just watched a video on YouTube by Elizabeth Rider (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45XdMtaig1E) about some common juicing mistakes. I watched it thinking she was going to tell me how to do things so I didn't have such a mess (ha ha). I need to make sure my smoothies are green. More kale, fewer bananas, mangoes and strawberries.

If you're interested in more on juicing here are a few YouTube videos that caught my attention:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjt3bxyKcCI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDeTKomY4P8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKzng1_byMY

Here a trailer for a movie/documentary I'm going to watch if it's on Netflix/Amazon, etc. :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQNNX2Oo7Kk&list=PLDB08EB984B46CB4D

On a side-note: I saw a number of videos lamenting major weight gain after going off a juice-fast. I think if someone slowly goes back to eating HEALTHY foods, makes veggies a platform of a normal diet rather than the little exclamation point on the platter, and has done their juicing correctly that shouldn't be an issue. I didn't watch any of the videos as I wasn't going to do a juice fast like Joe Cross or others who tout the benefits.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Zumba... R.I.P.P.E.D. and more

I've been working out regularly for a number of years. Mostly I hit the treadmill and the weight machines with my friend. We've been getting out butts out of bed and to the gym between 5:30 and 6:30 almost every morning. Yawn.

I hit a plateau and really wasn't seeing the kind of changes I wanted so about a month ago I started tossing in a few classes to the mix.

Zumba is fun. I'm still working on all the steps, but I move, and move, and move. More often than not I move in a different direction that the rest of the class but who cares? I'm moving. Some instructors are fun, some are fun to watch, some are focused...all bring a different style...all get my heart rate going.

I think that the R.I.P.P.E.D. classes are possibly my favorite "get something done" type class. They push my limits. It's weights, jumping jacks, all kinds of varied things. Those initials stand for something...Resistance, Intervals, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance, and Diet. So far no one has said anything about diet in the class aside from "eat well", whatever that might mean. I didn't realize the D stood for diet until I just looked it up to share!

I'll probably try a few of the others but I think I need to stick to the ones I've mentioned for a bit.

I won't climb on the scale until I go to the doctor next month. I needed a goal and the doc visit is it.

Wondering why I'm writing this? Me too.

Go see "Annie"!

I read the reviews by the reviewmeisters.
They panned Annie.
I almost didn't want to go see it.
I'm glad I did.

The movie is positive. It's uplifting. It's fun. The acting is good. The music is great. There's really nothing negative I can say about it. Sorry to those who make a living reviewing movies, you got this one wrong (dang, you need to take a dose of something to counter your cynical minds).

It has GREAT messages:
- you can be anything, background doesn't matter
- work hard and you can achieve
- hard knocks happen but your attitude will help you triumph
- redemption for any and all

I could probably list some more but those are the ones that shouted out at me as I thought about Annie afterwards. I thoroughly enjoyed getting a dose of positive in the guise of entertaining theater.

The music is fun, catchy, sing-able and yes, good. Sure, the words are a bit different but so is the movie. It's very loosely based on Annie. I think it kept the main themes but with a modern twist.

Sure, it's different. But go out and read the first comic strip then watch all the subsequent cartoons, movies, spin-offs, remakes. Think Annie has changed? What creation from the 1930s hasn't been changed to fit the times? 

They dissed Cameron Diaz (Miss Hannigan) for overacting. Did they SEE Carol Burnett in the 1982 remake? Kathy Bates in the 1999 version?

They didn't like the music? the singing? We left the theater and went straight to the store to find the CD. We bought the last one. I don't know if that means they're selling like crazy or the stores just didn't stock them!

I hope every parent takes their children, all ages, to see the movie. I have seen most of the other versions, if not all. I like the fact that they modernized this one.

(I'm going to come back & add some more later, breakfast calls).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Comcast / Xfinity Update @comcastcares @comcastmike

Bottom line: the problem isn't fixed.

Update:
Started tweeting, found a supposed "secret" website page on a forum and sent info, sent an email to the address @comcastmike sent me...and continued to call every day. Not sure which worked, took a few days to get a response from any of them but finally a Mr. Spencer called. He hadn't read anything and didn't have a basic grasp of what the issues were so I updated him. He should have been aware, not good that an escalation contact wouldn't the info at his fingertips. It was a pleasant conversation but anyone who's tasked with calling under these circumstances should have had the background and been ready to act rather than starting (again) from scratch.

Moving on...

I mentioned that we'd waited on a tech again for Wednesday but they didn't show. We hadn't schedule it, became aware when the lady called Tuesday night to tell us they'd be out. I cancelled my plans to be here. He said it showed we had not answered when they called for the tech visit on Wednesday. Not true, a "real" person called & I spoke with her @ 5:30 p.m. Tues. No calls showing on my phone or the home phone --- course, if they called on the Comcast home phone could be it never showed since it only works sporadically.... However, I let it go. No point in arguing ---- especially since we'd already had 4 techs out and they all said they couldn't find the problem.

All the techs had said it was an area problem when they couldn't find an issue at our house, nothing they could do. Mr. Spencer said he didn't show an area problem. I found out later he can't SEE an area problem unless it's an outage or current calls. Anyway, he called the local supervisor or manager and arranged to have someone, a "super" tech, out to see us that same day.

The super-tech checked everything, said it was an area problem. He said Comcast was splitting nodes either this week or next and hopefully that would fix the issue. They thought possibly they had too many customers on one node and it was resulting in issues. It didn't happen this week or, if it did, it didn't fix the issue 'cause we're still having problem.

Haven't heard back from Mr. Spencer. I had erroneously "assumed" that he'd call back to check on us... ya know, like someone who 'cared' would have, right?

Also, I was given the local supervisor's phone number and told to call him on Friday. I called twice, left messages, no response. Thought maybe # was wrong so tried variations, talked with some interesting people but not the supervisor.

Received an email and a call yesterday saying a tech was coming out today from 10 - 12. I wasn't going to be here so didn't cancel my plans and missed the call totally from this morning as I was in class. No one asked me if I would be here before deciding to set the appointment. I think Mr. Spencer may have set it, seems like he said something about it but then he upped the ante and had someone come out the same day we talked. Maybe he didn't cancel it.

Long story, but we're still having the problem. We now possibly, probably, know what's causing the issue and guess we'll just wait and see. Up to one more week of spotty service, phone calls dropped, Internet in and out.

What I've learned is that Comcast really has a horrific system of keeping their customers happy.

My suggestions:

- have a system in place where after 2 or 3 calls the complaint is automatically routed to someone who follows up and has some authority to do something other than just send out another tech. Having to call daily to get the run around is ridiculous.
- we shouldn't have to call billing to ask for the guarantee they have on their site to happen. Only ONE of the many, many techs and customer service types I talked / chatted with mentioned it existed. It should be automatic, not something we have to beg to get.
- give that person, whether it be a supervisor or super-customer service type, the ability to SEE area-wide problems, to track issues, to use a bit of common sense. I'd suggest a liaison in various sectors who got the problem so they're at least familiar with the area and can talk with the techs, the supervisors, etc.
- do a better job of writing up what is happening so the customer doesn't have to repeat the same problem over and over. When we call and say, "it's still happening" then that info should be available.
- give people the option of reporting an issue with "multiple services" on the phone touch system rather than having to choose phone, internet or TV.
- follow up with customers. Most of us just want to be kept abreast of what's going on. We were told repeatedly that no one would be calling us to let us know when the supposed super tech type would be coming to track down the area-wide problem.
- Get some people working customer service who are pleasant. Some were, some weren't. None had a clue other than one super nice guy in Illinois, Kendrick, who impressed the heck out of me. The supervisor I spoke with was  rotten.

There are other things that have crossed my mind while dealing with Comcast/Xfinity over the past few months. Wish I'd written them down...but I've given enough of my life to trying to fix this issue. 

I used to work customer service and I used to go into areas with issues and organize them, turn them into profit centers. Comcast's left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and it comes across clearly to the customers. No wonder we're so frustrated with the service. .

Monday, August 4, 2014

Comcast / Xfinity... again

It seems that I only post to this blog when I'm having problems. Sigh. I am a 99.9% happy-type person and need to change the flow of this blog to more fit my personality. However, today it's another rant.

Problem: For years we've been having problems with intermittent service. In recent months the problem has been growing to the point where we're missing huge chunks of programs, missing ends of sentences, etc. Phone drops. Internet goes out. TV continually pixilates then goes blank, get a message saying to call Comcast if issue persists. Sometimes it lasts for over half an hour, and has been hours at times without any service. Been calling. Had tech visits.

I just got off the phone with Comcast / Xfinitiy again. A supervisor this time. (Side note: called from home phone, call dropped when phone went out, had to call back from cell phone).

Conversation went something like this:
Me: We've had umpteen tech support come out and each time they tell us there's not a problem at our house, it's an area problem. They tell us they can't fix it and they're escalating the problem.
Supervisor: You have a tech appointment today from 10 - 12.
Me: No one told us about it. And why would they be coming out again when they can't fix anything?
Sup: They have to check the lines.
Me: They've been out here four or five times to check the lines. The last time was last Wednesday. They gave us a window of 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. for their visit. We stayed home all day. They came out around 7 p.m. and said there was still nothing wrong with our lines. It was an area problem. They would escalate it again.
Sup: I see you have an tech visit scheduled from 10 - 12 today. They will check your lines. They can escalate the problem.
Me: We have been calling for two months. They come out. They check the lines. They tell us it is an area problems, not something they can fix. They will escalate the problem. Our phone, TV and Internet work only sporadically. Over two months. Numerous visits. What is the point of having someone else come to our house to check out lines?
Sup: We have to have someone come out before we can escalate the problem.
Me: They escalated it Wednesday.
Sup: A technician is scheduled to come between 10 & 12 today.

We played that game four or five more times before I said forget it. Which, I have to surmise, is their goal.

That is typical of what has been happening for the past two plus months. We've been patient. We have spent countless hours on the phone, waiting for tech support, following technicians around as they do exactly the same thing again and again and tell us the same thing again and again. I posted a few of my on-going Facebook posts below if you'd like more details of calls, etc.

Only one phone no-service person / chat person / technician has mentioned their supposed guarantee. Chat person. On one subsequent phone call I asked the guy about it and he said I need to call billing. I mentioned it to the supervisor today and he completely ignored me, said he needed to check to see our record. Went back to June, commented on it and said "Oh, I see a technician is scheduled to come out today between..." (you know where that conversation ended!).


It's 11:22 a.m. and they haven't shown up. Not that it would matter. One time the service people told us they were going to replace all our inside equipment. I asked how the phone modem could affect the television. He said we needed to have all our equipment replaced to make sure that wasn't the issue. When the tech type came out she said that was crazy (well, she didn't quite say crazy, but she did say that wasn't the issue). We did get an email receipt showing that nothing was changed out.

I'm going to be calling or visiting my neighbors over the next few days to see if they're on Comcast & determine whether they area also experiencing problems. If it turns out they ARE having problems then I'm going to see about getting some sort of group effort going. If it turns out we're the lone stranger I'll deal with it differently.

Either way I'm getting ready to spend a bit of time with Clark Howard, the state of Georgiia's folks and Fayette County government types who approve the Comcast contract. I also have some names, addresses and phone numbers of some folks on up the food chain.

----
I've been tagging Xfinity on my Facebook posts. No message. No response. Guess they must be overwhelmed with complaints.  Here's a recap:

July 31 Facebook post
A lot of you have asked me about what happened with XFINITY/Comcast. They came around 7. They did not conquer. In fact, they told us they could not conquer, that it wasn't an issue here at the house; replacing all our equipment as suggested / promised wasn't gonna happen. Supposedly it's an area-wide issue and they have been out trying to figure it out without luck. It is going to take Super-Comcast-Repair-Person with magical abilities in addition to being able to fly and use x-ray vision to potentially identify then fix the issue. This magic superhero will appear someday and our problems are promised to vanish...maybe...however, no one will call and there is no known timeline for fixing the issues. Gotta love a company that has those great commercials.

July 30 Facebook post
Transcript of chat with XFINITY/Comcast. I think you'll laugh. I cut out some due to length or privacy (.... to show missing bits).
Chandan > Hello -_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Chandan. Please give me one moment....
Me_ > My Issue: During last chat Christian said someone would call within 15 - 30 minutes. Still no call. Ticket #....
Chandan > To ensure we are on the same page, I understand that you need to know about ticket status Is that correct?
Me_ > I guess. We've been sitting here all day (again) waiting on someone to come out & fix problems we've been having for months. Time frame was 8 a.m. - 8 pm. We wanted to see if could narrow down time as we'd really like to do something other than waste ANOTHER day waiting... Christian said dispatch would call us within 15 - 30 minutes. Been longer than that, about an hour I'd guess. Just want to know when someone is coming out.
Chandan > I am here to provide you with excellent customer service today.
Me_ > Does that mean you're going to find out when someone is coming today?
Chandan > You have reached the right person. I can help you.
Chandan > I would now verify the account .....
Chandan > As i can see that technicain has been sent from our side to fix this issue.
Me_ > You're saying they are on the way? They're not here yet.
Me_ > Do you have an estimated time of arrival?
Chandan > Thank you for patiently waiting.
Chandan > I would reques you to wait. They are on the way. They will reach you soon
Chandan > Rest assured. As soon as possible
Me_ > On the way now or they'll be here before 8 p.m.? We've been waiting since 8 a.m. this morning. Your answer isn't giving me a window of time.
Chandan > I can understand how important it is for you. I will arrange a technican to fix this issue.
Chandan > They will call you before they reach
Me_ > I give up. All I wanted was a time frame. Last chat person said 15 - 30 minutes. Been well over an hour now. You're not giving me any kind of time frame, just another very vague answer. Calling before they get here could mean a call at 7:30 tonight. All I want is a simple "they'll be there in 30 minutes", "they won't get there until 6 pm." anything that's a little narrower.
Chandan > i can understand your concern. I apologize for the inconvenience
Chandan > you will recieve the call withing 1 hour from the technicain to fix this issue.


July 30 post:
XFINITY/Comcast update... still not here. No call. Went on-line & did a chat to see if could narrow down time-frame. Was told dispatch would call within 15 - 30 minutes to give us a time. Been about 20 minutes, clock is ticking. Funny --- chat guy ended by asking if we'd be interested in their Home Security system. After I stopped laughing (on-line chat, he couldn't hear), I politely typed that given the issues with all the rest of their services I definitely would not be interested. Can you imagine having a security system tied into a Comcast phone service that only works intermittently? I'd have to ask whoever was breaking in to hang on for a minute as I was calling Xfinity trying to get service so the alarm system could go off & notify dispatch so they could notify police... Might not be a bad idea though if I could hook it up so that every time the service went out they automatically notified tech support so I didn't have to waste my time calling...

July 30 post
More on XFINITY / Comcast... stuck at the house ALL day today 'cause they couldn't give me a window for arrival of tech support for this round of attempting to fix the problem. Well, they did give a window of sorts --- 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

I've lost count of the times they've been out and SAID they fixed the problem. This time they are replacing ALL of our inside equipment and finally getting up on the pole to check the connections up there. Seems like that would have been their 1st stop, but hey, we're just the ones putting up with the intermittent service, not the "knowledgeable" (but very nice) tech types that stick gauges on connections & say everything works fine.

OK, said I wasn't going to vent anymore in my last Xfinity/Comcast post but am not thrilled about sitting around all day waiting for them to show.

On the phone when making the current call I asked about that famous guarantee on compensation for lost service if not fixed...the one that all their tech guys are supposed to share but never do...turns out you have to make a call to billing and beg (they didn't say beg, of course). Seems to me that if there's repeated calls on the same problem good customer service would entail offering something.

And yes, if I had a choice I'd be trying something else.

Vent finished.


July 14
Short update on my ongoing XFINITY / Comcast issues. I received a call this morning from them. It was one of the techs and he told me they'd identified a problem in the area, fixed it, and wanted to know if everything was working OK. Well, at the time, it was. He then wanted to know if they should cancel our Wednesday tech appointment. I explained that the problem was intermittent and thus I had no way of knowing if what he fixed would resolve our problem. Nice that they're trying. Could be they fixed everything. But I'm not cancelling the appointment!

July 13
Getting ready to VENT. On XFINITY / Comcast. For years we've been having issues, TV vanishing randomly, Internet going out often at the same time, & sadly we also have their phone service (yep, dumb move). Just got off the phone with customer we-try-to-check-every-box service. I know they have a check list. I know when you say certain buzz words they automatically pull up the appropriate list.

But we have been doing this forever. I've unplugged, checked wires, they've re-buried wires, they've left wires above the ground, they've left then swinging in the wind and been out to fix and been out to fix.

The random interruptions got worse so called again a few weeks back. Guy came on Friday. He buried the cable that's been above ground. I thought they were coming to fix the problem. Lady heard "above ground" and "assumed" that was the problem I guess.

Anyway, internet, phone & all 3 TVs out Saturday morning. Came back on by the time I finished workout so didn't call, figured maybe area issue. This evening happened again.

We have two separate lines coming into the house, one for TV, one for Internet / phone. Lady wanted me to unplug all 3 TV boxes, plus the ones in my office for computers / phone. I flat out refused. Told her there's no way that ALL the boxes were bad, logically two separate cables into the house and all those separate boxes can't all be broken / have issues.

Bottom line, they're coming out again on Wednesday. A few years back we had issues and they came out so many times & weren't able to figure it out that the area supervisor gave me his direct line so I didn't have to keep calling main # & go through rigmarole each time.

They've completely put in new lines (leaving stuff waving so we had to caution the lawn guy not to use his weed wacker). If there were ANY other alternative I'd be there. I am going to ditch the phone service, even though it would only decrease our bill by $2 due to the "deal" we have. It's not a deal when you go without phone service every for sometimes hours on end.

OK, I'm done. I know I went on LONG, but it sure feels good to vent.
 


----
OK, you get the gist, I'm not going through my Timeline to find more. I have posted a lot as I've been going through this revolving lack of service.  Waste of time but as I've written, it makes me feel a bit better.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best Buy Blues...

I'm getting a tablet of some sort for my Christmas present. We decided to wait until after Christmas so we could shop in peace without the rush. We also thought we might find a better deal after Christmas.

My "go-to" place for computer type buys has always been Best Buy. We bought two televisions there recently, and picked up a Roku for Christmas.

We shop around but have been happy with their service, the prices, and their proximity.

Not so at the moment. I went in on Saturday to compare the various tablets, had pretty much decided I'd be getting one of their Samsung tablets. I have not decided which one would be best for my needs so I went in to ask questions. They were busy but not overly so. I went to the area and started looking. A woman was at the desk in the area doing something. She never looked up. I was there for over 20 minutes looking at the various tablets, comparing, playing with them, etc. Not once did anyone come ask to help.

I wandered around looking for someone to help, trying to catch the eye of someone. I'd try to catch the attention of one of the staffers walking by, waved my hand at one, but they all had tunnel vision, probably on a mission to help someone else. The woman at the desk had vanished at some point.

After going up and down a few aisles, circling the department, I finally gave up and left.

New Years day I wanted to buy a sound track to a movie I'd just seen and thought I'd stop in to see if they had it (one left!). We're looking for a washer / dryer so stopped in that department and looked. There was a guy in the department working at the desk... I had learned my lesson the previous Saturday --- I walked up and asked for help. He was helpful.

Then I stopped across the corridor to look at the tablets again. Given there was another couple looking at them I thought maybe between the three of us we'd catch someone's attention. They gave up before I did. They really didn't try to get help, but based on their conversation they were seriously contemplating buying one of the smaller tablets.

I wandered again but didn't stick for quite as long.

I guess I'll make the trek to some other store. The Best Buy is close and is about the only game in town if you have questions.  I think that H.H. Gregg has tablets, probably Sams, I may go check them out. Or I'll do what I probably should have done in the first place and do some research and shopping on-line. After all, I consider myself a semi-geek-ette. I should be able to handle it... but somehow I still prefer talking to someone who knows something.

To be fair, I could have gone to the guy at the entrance and told him I wanted someone to come to the area. By the time I was willing to walk to the front I was a bit frustrated and just didn't have the patience -- or time --- to talk with someone.

It won't stop me from buying again at Best Buy, but I am disappointed. If they'd been overwhelmingly busy I wouldn't have minded. Guess I just expect better...

Monday, November 18, 2013

What would you miss the most?

I just finished re-reading One Second After by William Forstchen. It's an interesting book, thought provoking and scary. It's a story about what happens after an EMP attack is unleashed on America.

I see that they're in production at Warner Bros. to make a movie with the book as the basis. I'll go see it.

The scary part of the book is that it's a true possibility. Many of the apocalyptic movies and books are so far removed from the realm of possibility that I would classify them as entertainment. The things that happen in One Second After could happen. I doubt it would happen on the scale that's depicted in the book, but even an EMP over our major cities would create devastating havoc for many, many years.

An EMP is an Electro Magnetic Pulse. I won't go into details, it's easy to look it up (and I'm definitely not an expert!). On a very-simplistic level --- it would wipe out, shut down, kill computers, cars with electronic components, airplanes, your electric can opener,  trains...anything that has a computer circuit or is run by any form of electricity. Here's a quote from the "About EMP" section on Forstchen's website: "In far less than a milli second the entire power grid of the United States, and all that it supports will be destroyed." (http://onesecondafter.com/pb/wp_d10e87d9/wp_d10e87d9.html)

Destroyed.

How do you repair things without electronics? Dams would shut down. Trains wouldn't run. Freezers wouldn't work. Electric power tools would be useless. Tractors, dead. Processing machines, kaput. Circuit board fried.

Most grocery stores have maybe three days of food. They rely on heaters, coolers, freezers and transportation.

How far are you from a grocery store? Right now you hop in your car and drive the five or ten miles. Unless you have a clunker from the 60s or earlier you vehicle isn't going to work. So... think about walking. Think about carrying the food home. Think about how fast those who got their first would clean out the shelves.

If you do have a clunker that works how are you going to fill the tank with gas? The gas station pumps aren't going to work.


No communication either. No radio or TV no Internet to tell us what's going on. No cell phones. No telephones, either. You wouldn't know what was going on with your son in college, your daughter who's visiting a friend across town or your parents living in another state.

Hospital equipment unable to function, elevators stopped or crashed... People in the inner cities would start to move outward hoping for food to live on. How long before the animals on the farms are butchered without thought to the future?

We gradually acquired skills and knowledge to bring us to our current wonderful lifestyles. What happens when all at once everyone loses everything? Most of us don't have even basic survival skills. Do you know what's edible in the forest? How to butcher a deer (assuming you could figure out how to kill it in the first place)? Know where the nearest stream is with fish? Could you grow a garden with edible food before you starved? Could you protect it from those who are out to survive any way possible?

Since reading the book for the first time I sometimes look at some of the things I take for granted and wonder what I'd miss most. Some of the big things are easy --- connection with family, communication, heat, air conditioning, FOOD. Transportation. Refills on medicines.

But, assuming I was one who managed to somehow survive for a period of time, I sometimes wonder what little things I'd miss the most?

I always think about toilet paper. Once whatever I have in the house is gone it's gone.
Toothpaste.

Bandaids.
Aspirin.

Shampoo.
Hot tea.
Napkins.
Contact lenses / replacement glasses.
Tape.
Music.

What about you? 

Here are a few links to get you started if you'd like to know more about EMPs:
http://onesecondafter.com/pb/wp_d10e87d9/wp_d10e87d9.html
http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html
http://unitedstatesaction.com/emp-terror.htm