Labor Day update

Been a busy summer.

We arrived in Ely, MN about the middle of June. The BWCA is a beautiful place. Left on the 1st of 3 trips near the end of June. Camping, canoeing, fishing and just being ‘out there’ for about 30 of the next 45 days.

Daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandkids visited for 2 weeks from Germany. Kind of a semi-last minute event. Some times life’s surprises are wonderful. Great visit and much joy.

Attended the Marquette Blues Festival over Labor Day weekend. The 8 hour drive each way was worth it. Great event, great folks and some GREAT music.

We are in Ely for another 2 weeks and then on to the White River in Arkansas for 6 weeks of fly fishing, fall colors and friends visiting. Going to be a good time.

Guitar practice/playing continues. It’s about like Moses in the desert. Lots of ground covered but not really getting anywhere. Nothing to do but enjoy the journey and I am enjoying it. Got a carbon fiber guitar arriving Friday.

Pat Lindner passed away yesterday. Skydived with him more than a little back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Huey helicopters ruled. Always a good guy. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is showing folks in heaven how to qualify for a "Schwanger" number.

DirectTV sucks, DISH rocks.

Just completed a multi-week process to convert the satellite antenna on the RV from DirecTV to DISH at a cost of a little over $800. Worth every penny.

Installation and conversion went smoothly and we had no problems. When it came time to change the zip code of where we were getting service we called DISH. One phone call and speaking with one person is all it took. Call lasted 3 or 4 minutes at most. One phone call, one person.

Contrast with the DirecTV experience of speaking with 61 people, yes 61, I counted, who could not accomplish that simple task. 61 people. The majority of them assured me that the problem was fixed. It never was.

If per chance you are in a conversation with someone and the topic of DirecTV or DISH comes up, feel free to share this info. Feel free to give them my contact info. I would love to help spread the word about utterly bad the DirecTV customer service actually is.

If you are considering getting and RV and think, "I’ll just add an extra receiver to the DirecTV account I have at my house" I urge not to. Have doubts about what a screw up that would be? Call DirecTV and ask them. They can’t do it.

Oddly Enough

Spending the night in Peculiar, Missouri on our way north. Haven’t seen the town but based on the RV park we’re in, I’d say the place is aptly named.

We have changed our plans for the fall. We will leave Ely, MN at the end of September and return to the White River in Arkansas on Oct 1st. We’re going to get 6 weeks of fishing in before heading back down to Florida.

Mother’s Day

One last thought – Mother’s Day is May 13th this year. Tradition dictates I should honor and thank my mother. She has passed, and I honor her memory and thank her for all she did, especially the part about not drowning me at birth and not pinching my head off when I was a small unruly child. My daughter is also a Mom. She is a wonderful person, terrific mom and a truly spectacular example of why proud fathers are always awed by great daughters. My one hope for the future, besides the usual blah, blah, blah world peace crap, is that my daughter might one day forgive me for all the stuff I am going to teach my grandkids.

Teacher Appreciation Day

Departed Memphis this morning and drove twisty, hilly roads to Bull Shoals, AR. Why Bull Shoals? Southern tailwater fishery. If that term is not something you are intimately familiar with then you are missing some incredible fly fishing for really nice trout. Look it up, learn it. You can thank me later.

Speaking of thanking for learning. Today is National Teacher Appreciation day.

Heroes can be created in a split second. Often time the event is over before what is happening really sinks in. But true heroes can also be made one day at a time, one person at a time, over and over for years.

A lot of my personal heroes are teachers. As a child I was amazed at all they knew and all you learn from them. As an adult who taught SCUBA, sky diving and a variety of other stuff, I developed a deep appreciation of a skillful instructor. I was probably never better than reasonably competent but I have seen great and inspired.

I generally find teenagers to be a bit trying and would probably resort to a method commonly called ‘kill one to scare the rest’. As effective as it might be short term, even I can see that it would not work over an entire school year. Either you would run out of students or somebody would notice that little Johnny or little Suzie didn’t come home. The plan has many flaws, no matter how much teenagers get on your nerves. So teaching kids is obviously not my forte.

I know a man I am proud to call a friend who teaches high school age kids. Everyday he deals with them, inspires them, teaches them, shapes them and impacts their lives on a scale they won’t realize for decades. They never beat him down (mentally, spiritually) and each day they get his best. To never give up, to stay positive and to actually make a tremendous difference year after year? If that’s not a hero then you need to re-think your definition.

I know a young lady who teaches special ed. She is a wonderful young lady, full of life and hope. That pretty much sums why she is a hero. No matter how hard the day, she gives her all for someone else’s sake and comes out at the end of the day a better person. Without doubt a better person than I.

So thank you to each and every teacher I ever had, especially Mrs. Hirschfield in 12th grade English. You inspired me. Sorry it took me so long to realize it.

The stupid never stops

In a previous post I shared some of the difficulty I encountered with DirectTV. Last Friday morning I was assured everything associated with my account had been terminated.

Well, like I said earlier, if the first 59 people could not fix an issue then why should I believe the 60th could? And yes, I spoke to 60 people, I kept count. 60 people. Let that sink in for a minute.

So after Friday’s adamant assurances that my account was canceled, I got a message late Saturday afternoon about a DirectTV tech showing up on Monday to perform a service call. I cancelled the techs visit. Apparently a canceled account is no reason to be shy about putting in a work order after the cancellation to install an already installed system. What makes it even funnier is that Friday afternoon I mailed all the DirecTV boxes back to them. I realize it takes a period of time for the computer to ‘catch up’ but canceled is canceled and putting in a work order AFTER an account is canceled is just silly. And btw, I never asked for a service call. I begged, pleaded, insisted, cajoled, and emphasized I did not want any of the 4 service calls they scheduled against my clearly stated wishes. The 1st service call resulted in the tech asking me why was he there since we already had an antenna, the box worked and we just weren’t getting the programming we were already paying for. His question was based on ‘they have to fix this on their end’. I shared his wonderment at him being sent to install an already installed antenna and install already installed boxes.

The fun didn’t stop there. On the 3rd try at a surprise service call, again in spite of my adamant statements against it, the tech calls and says he’s 15 minutes away. I said "No you are not". He assured me he was. I asked what state he was in. "Louisiana" replied the slightly puzzled young man, "just turning on your road now". I informed him that I was in Memphis, TN and unless he could drive 400 miles in 15 minutes he was going to be late. He seemed surprised he had been scheduled for a call in New Orleans for a guy trying to get his service fixed in Memphis, TN for the last 3 days.

No wonder DirectTV lost 146,000 customers in just the 4th quarter of 2017 and 188,000 during the 1st quarter of this year.

So any takers on the bet that somehow DirectTV is going to continue to be a pain in the butt?

Family stuff

Two observations on raising children I would like to share, both of which were researched from the internet fair and square. For those of you thinking ‘plagiarism’ right now I would like to congratulate you on your vocabulary and point out that to steal from a single source is plagiarism. To steal from many sources is research. I used many sources to steal the following jokes.

There is a very popular drinking game where you take a drink every time your child does something to annoy you. The game is called ‘parenting’.

I have a grandson who, like all infant grandsons, is adorable and beloved. I offer the following advice to my daughter about raising my grandson. The first word you teach him to say should be ‘brains’. You will then have your very own cute little zombie stumbling around the house. You’re welcome.

Beale Street in Memphis

Growing up in Florida in the BM era (Before Mickey) was to experience a Florida almost unimaginably different. The arrival of Disney World and the follow on attractions were, in my opinion, the ruination of an other wise delightful part of Florida. I am not a fan of the "touristy" places most locales tout as worth visiting.

But not always. Sometimes when traveling you encounter a place that exceeds expectations.

When visiting Memphis it is almost obligatory to visit Beale Street in Memphis, as ‘touristy’ a place as you can find. So I traipsed my happy ass down to Beale Street and was not expecting much. I could not have been more wrong. Beale Street is ‘touristy’. The drinks are absurdly over priced, the shops have little of actual value to offer and most of it could stand a thorough power washing.

But the music. All falls aside when you find the music.

Some grubby little dive bar on a side street that probably wouldn’t pass a fire inspection has a middle aged guy playing a guitar with mad skills. Not the flashy show-off licks the wanna-be’s try to pass off but legitimate serious musicianship of the highest order. Not some guy trying to ‘look’ bluesy but a guy with years of dedication to a particular musical art form.

You walk along and the corner ‘world famous’ tourist bar has a band playing blues that makes you stop, turn around and go in. Two brothers fronting a blues band that has played together 4 or 5 nights a week for the last 17 years. During the break between sets you buy the guy a dring and find out he is a conservatory trained musician with a degree in performing. Legitimate music played by dedicated folks. A event truly worth experiencing. And the next 3 days are the biggest weekend of the year for Memphis. Bluesfest. 3 stages, non-stop music and food. Might be a chance for more music.

Oh yeah, the food. Pretty good. Almost a cliche to eat ribs while listening to live blues but a wonderful experience.

Expectations were definitely exceeded.

Mark Jenkins said "Adventure is a path" and I agree. The entire quote from him follows:

Adventure is a path. Real adventure- self-determined, self-motivated, often risky- forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness.
In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind- and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
-Mark Jenkins

It is a fun path.

DirecTV cancellation

The acquisition of DirectTV by ATT&T resulted in the introduction of a new computer system (OPUS?) to manage accounts. This has resulted in a 2 week ordeal of exceptional aggravation and nonsense. I am being billed for services they can not provide and are unable to do so. Prior to the switch over, my satellite system worked without a hitch. There is no technical issue on my end. It is a software issue on their end and is unsolvable. It is not even the software that actually sends the signal. It is the account management software. As a result I am cancelling my DirectTV account. I am posting a copy of the email I sent today for a couple of reasons. I want to make sure I have a verifiable record of what happened that will stand up against any doubt. I also want to alert anyone with an RV against selecting DirectTV and/or ATT&T as your service provider.

I spoke with 60 customer service representatives. Yes, 60. Over a 2 week period it dissolved into absurdity.

The below is the email I sent. Today is May, 4th, 2018.

At approximately 10:45 AM (CDT) I spoke with Jeff in the loyalty department. Jeff’s ID # is ( redacted for privacy ) . He assured me that my DirectTV and/or ATT account had been cancelled. He provided a work order # of (redacted for privacy). My RC1 account # is (redacted for privacy).

So why am I writing you?

Jeff was the 60th Customer Rep I spoke with. Yes, 60.

Based on the previous 59 encounters I have no reason to believe that my account will be cancelled and I will stop being billed for services I am not receiving.

I am sending this email as a written verification that I can reference later. I will send this email to any other ATT email address I can locate.

I sincerely hope the account is closed and the billing has stopped.

Do with this info as you wish. I posted it mainly for my own benefit in case I need it later. I really hope I won’t.