TRAIN TRACKS IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Trains and Tracks

Boston has many trains. Commuter trains as well as trains to DC. Florida, and other places. More interestingly, it has trolleys: small trains that run through several towns used by local commuters.

Everyone loves them because unless the standard commuter trains, the trolleys run on time. It’s your job as a car driver to get out of the way when they come!

Trolley tracks in Boston streets
X – Crossing the tracks
Grafton train tracks

WHICH WAY – THE ETERNAL UNANSWERABLE QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

Aldrich Street in June

I am permanently lost, so every time this challenge comes up, I take it personally.

Trolley station in Brookline

I’m good with maps, back when they published local maps that showed the actual streets in town.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Early in June

Mostly you can buy atlases, all of which show the main roads, but not the ones we are traveling.

Home again

 

GUMPTION – Marilyn Armstrong

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GETTING THE GUMPTION TO GET UP AND AT ‘EM!

I have to admit, these days, it takes a certain amount of good ole’ gumption to get myself out of bed at all. It has been a frantic month and I can count on a frantic couple of months to come. I’m feeling the stress.

Finally, after relaxing enough to enjoy retirement, I feel like I’m back on a treadmill. I suppose I should feel good about it because it will have — I believe — good results and make our world a better place. Nonetheless, it has been a rough road. I’ve worked hard at unknotting the stress mess I’d become by the time I quit work and realized I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Now, it’s back.

Gumption is a great word and one you don’t hear much anymore. I remember when it was quite common, but our language has turned into a kind of internet shorthand and all the gorgeous, rich words seem to be disappearing. “LOL” and “OMG” and the like will never give us the feeling or wealth our previous language allowed.

These days, it’s had to have the gumption to just get on with it and survive. From a relatively peaceful world — which had its problems, mind you — we have been tossed willy-nilly into a nightmare world where everything we believed before makes no sense.

As I said: It takes a fair bit of gumption to just get up in the morning and face the day.

Does anyone think it is going to get easier? Yesterday, they actually locked up Manafort. I think that was the first thing all week that made me feel almost good.

World? Throw me a few crumbs! I need hope to keep on keeping on!

RDP #16 : TARGET

RDP # 16: TARGET

Lately, I have felt like a target. Three credit cards (all from the same bank) hacked. Lots of paperwork on fraud. A general sense that whatever I thought was “safe” before was just a myth I told myself to keep from getting crazy.

I hate this feeling. Between living under a presidency run by a madman with his finger on the nuclear buttons, hackers attacking my computer, telephone, and email scammers, and, of course, router hackers?

Do I have a target painted somewhere on me that everyone can see — except me?

We should all be able to feel at least reasonably secure in our own spaces, our homes. Our businesses. Our personal lives. We should not be waiting for the next attacker to try to lure us into danger or hack our data.

Thank you, Facebook.

You really helped the hackers and probably made a fortune doing it, too. I notice you are spending millions of dollars on advertisements which are supposed to make us “feel better” about you, but you haven’t spent a penny to help protect the people you hurt. People like me who took your hit in the first place and now wonder if anything will ever return to normal.

And most of all, thank you President Dirtbag. You have left me wondering when the next holocaust is coming to destroy what remains.


We are the TARGET.


Me. Us. Our world.

EVEN GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS ISSUES – Marilyn Armstrong

My son ordered a label maker from Amazon. Not terribly expensive and not an obscure product. He got it on time, but when he opened the crate, it turned out to be an empty case. No label maker in it.

He was going to return the empty box.

I said: “Don’t be silly. You don’t return empty boxes. That will confuse everyone. They will want to know what happened to the label maker. You get in touch with them. They will fix it.”

I said that with confidence because they always try very hard to fix problems at Amazon.

“You can’t get in touch with Amazon,” he said.

“Oh yes you can,” I said.

“How?”

“Ask for the number or to chat live. They really will fix it.”

“How do you do that?”

The answer is not complicated.

Go into the customer service area. That is a bit circuitous, but if you use Amazon a lot, you figure it out. It needs to be about an order, so you should know exactly what your problem is and what you want them to do about it. That is pretty much true for all customer service.

After you are in the right area, type: “Need telephone number for Amazon customer service.”

They ask if you want them to call you (which they will do literally instantly) or would you prefer a chat? They prefer chats and so do I. It’s faster. Also, I can copy and paste information from the order into a chat file. That’s harder on a phone call. Not impossible, but harder.

I got the chat. Explained what happened. She said “Oops, sorry. Tell him he can keep the box and do whatever he wants with it. We’ll send him a new one.”

The would ship it as soon as possible. I called Owen back.

“But how did you know who to talk to?”

I explained I had talked to the guy at customer service and the new order was already in the order file, price $0.00. Shipment probably overnight.

Good customer service does make a big difference. Well-served customers keep coming back. Angry customers don’t. You hear that Dell? You hear that Apple? Got that Microsoft? Anyone listening at DirectTV, Charter, or AT&T?

Happy customers come back and sometimes bring their friends. And family. If you make us mad, we go elsewhere. Just saying.

The shipment arrived yesterday and guess what? It was another empty case. One empty case was not a big deal. Two? They have a shipping problem. Especially because this second box came with a big label on it that said: “CASE ONLY!”  I have to assume the shipping picker either had no time to recognize that the label maker had to be taken from another shelf and put into the case, or couldn’t read English.

I gave up. Although they offered to ship it again, there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t show up empty again. They refunded the money. Sometimes, you have to know when you’re beaten.

Good customer service helps, but so does getting the order right.

IN ALL CANDOR – Marilyn Armstrong

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In all candor, you can trust me!

There are some things that as soon as someone says it, you just know you should make sure you still have your wallet.

Anyone who looks you in the eyes and says “Trust me,” you should absolutely not trust him or her.

Anyone who starts a sentence with “In all candor,” is lying.

Other lookout words?

“Honestly,” and “I wouldn’t lie to you.” I’m sure that somewhere in that pack there are people who you can trust and who isn’t lying, but mostly, all of them ARE lying and you should not trust them. Not anyone. These days, given the state of things, probably you should be very careful about trusting yourself, much less the rest of the world.

In all candor, you’ll simply have to trust me on this one!

RDP #15 – CATARACTS AND NEW LENSES – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #15 – CATARACTS

I don’t think anyone gets a single cataract. Eyes are in pairs and apparently, so are cataracts. I’ve had the same “hint of cataracts” for at least 15 years. It doesn’t get bad enough to cause me any problems, so this particular issue is on a shelf, to be dusted off and dealt with when necessary. IF necessary.

But Garry got his cataracts sooner than most people. He was in his early 60s and the world looked fuzzy to him. It turned out, he had cataracts severe enough to require removal. These days, they don’t just remove cataracts. They also remove the eye’s lens and give you brand new shiny ones. Suddenly, you can really see.

After they did his second eye, which was a couple of weeks after the first one, he realized … he could see.

“I could fly a fighter jet,” he pointed out. That was assuming he learned to fly first, but I got the point. The next thing he discovered was that he could not read anything closer than 5 feet distant. For example, the labels on food in the grocery store. He needed reading glasses. He had gotten Perfect Eyes — and he needed reading glasses.

What a comedown!  Over the years, the implanted lenses are no longer quite as perfect because even implants change shape with time.

Still, they aren’t bad. He can see distances quite well and overall, these are much better than his eyes were before the surgery. Fighter jet flying is probably no longer an option. And he needs computer glasses.

Still, it’s just amazing what they can do to fix us these days, isn’t it?