Apparently I’m a Midlife Blogger

Within the last month, I’ve learned that I can be categorized as a midlife blogger. In the strictest definition of the term, that simply means a blogger who is over the age of 40 so indeed I’m a midlife blogger by eleven years.

But is that the real definition? At this year’s BlogHer conference during an “interest in identity session on midlife blogging“, Chloe Jeffreys, the CEO of Generation Fabulous, talked about midlife being a phase in a female’s life after being a maiden and then a mother, but before becoming a crone. Hmmmm…

Back in 2009, I attended the BlogHer conference the last time it was held in Chicago. I found it to be an incredibly un-fulfilling experience. The panels seemed to have an emphasis on monetizing your blog and how to get things for free. As a former journalist, I couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing. And then it got worse.

On the BlogHer trade show floor, I was asked over and over how many kids I had and what their ages were. Several of us noticed this. At one booth selling vacuum cleaners, the person working the booth got noticeably nervous when I said that I didn’t have any children. Oh no! She had to go off her script! It was clear that me choosing to not procreate the species had somehow made me unfit to buy a vacuum cleaner in her mind.

(And I wasn’t alone in feeling that way. A post on MidLifeBloggers.com stated, “In ’09, it seemed to me that almost all the brands were pitching to mothers of young children. This year, not at all. And in ’09, the brands were mostly interested in selling us their products. This year they were interested in forming relationships with bloggers that were mutually beneficial. Bravo, BlogHer’13; bravo brands.”)

Because of that experience, I’ve having some mixed feelings about the midlife blogger label. Is there going to be backlash because I skipped the motherhood phase? I’m not an empty nester. I don’t have grandchildren to coo over. I am going straight from maiden to crone.

The funny thing is that women get pushed into these “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations through out their lives. Babies or no babies? If you do decide to have kids, will you keep working or stay at home? These decisions affect our lives and how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others.

I don’t feel that much different from how I did ten or twenty years ago. People don’t believe that I’m 51 years old. Thanks to some good hair genes, I have very little grey hair. I even quit getting highlights in my hair because I didn’t want people to think I was trying to hide my grey. If anything, because I’m not out in the sun lots like I was when I was younger, my hair is the darkest it’s ever been.

Now the rest of my body is telling me that I’m older. But then I’ve almost always had a weight problem and my bad knees were diagnosed when I was 15. And I’ve never really liked loud night clubs with thumping bass threatening to break my ear drums.

But I am moving slower. I don’t keep up with new music like I did when I worked in radio fifteen years ago. And a quiet place with good friends and good drinks is my idea of heaven on a weekend night.

So, even without the motherhood phase, I guess I truly am a midlife blogger.

— Carla

Target Does Email and Twitter Wrong

I love Target. Really, I do. I just placed an online order with them yesterday. My financial planner even recommends doing the bulk of our grocery shopping at Target so we can save 5% with our Red Cards. Yep, my husband and I both have Target Red Cards. But, sometimes Target does both email and Twitter wrong.

But one thing has been bugging me for a while. While most of the email newsletter (okay, ads) that I would get from Target would fine (maybe even informative), I started getting their weekly baby ads. That seemed odd since I don’t have kids and, at 51, never plan to have any. But then I remembered that a year ago I ordered a baby gift from a Target gift registry. And that’s when the baby emails started. I looked on the email to see how to opt out of the baby emails. Nope, it was either all or none. I checked the Target web site. Same thing – either all of the email ad they wanted to send me or none.

So I tried Twitter. Here’s the conversation I had with someone at Target on Twitter (you can click on the image for a larger version of the screen shot):

Target Does Twitter Wrong

Frustrated, I did what they wanted and opted out of all email communication from Target. It was so disappointing. The next replies from the AskTarget Twitter were no more helpful.

Target Does Email and Twitter Wrong #2

I did sign up for the weekly ad reminders again, but I was very careful to uncheck the box that said “yes, please also email me additional offers, exclusives and promotions from Target.”

In a world where there is all kind of customization available, how hard is it to let consumers choose what information they want to get from a company? It’s not and Target needs to learn that lesson fast.

And, Target? My first name is Carla. Not whatever was in the “hello” box when I went to sign up for the weekly ad reminders.

Target Does Twitter Wrong 3

— Carla

The High Cost of Selling Yourself Out: Be Careful What You Blog

In my last post The High Cost of Free Software: Be Careful What You Download, I included the following quote from Ed Bott of zdnet.com:

Basically, there’s a dilemma that software developers are in. They can either go with these monetization companies which load up their installers with “special offers” and which in turn allow them to make a frightful sum of money or they can take a day job and get out of the software business.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that this could be paraphrased to apply to bloggers:

Basically, there’s a dilemma that [BLOGGERS] are in. They can either go with these monetization companies which load up their [BLOGS] with “special offers” and which in turn allow them to make [SOME] sum of money or they can take a day job and get out of the [BLOGGING] business.

Of course, one of the main differences between software developers and bloggers is that a great number of bloggers already have day jobs (myself included). The urge to try to make the blogging a paying gig can sometimes lead to unfortunate decisions.

When you start a blog, one of the first questions you need to really ask yourself is why are you writing this blog? What content do you want to share with your readers? What unique perspective can you bring to an already large blogosphere?

Back in 2009, I wrote a post for BlogHer.com called “Why I Blog About Beer“. In the post, I mentioned that Hoperatives was actually the third blog I had started. The first one was an earlier version of this blog and didn’t have much focus. I mainly rambled about various topics and didn’t really offer anything new. The second one about our experience on a liquid diet was too focused and really was only meant to last a short time.

I also mentioned a talk that Merlin Mann and Jon Gruber gave at SXSW in 2009 called “149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog with Credibility!” You can find more information about it at http://www.43folders.com/2009/03/25/blogs-turbocharged. I summarized the talk this way:

…a successful blog must have three things: “obsession + topic + voice”. If you have those three things, you can “become the go-to person for whatever your topic is.” Consider this: “How do you know it’s time to start a blog? Because people keep telling you to shut up.” And finally: “When CPM becomes more important than making readers happy, you’ve lost it.”

Since blogging has become more popular and accessible, I’ve seen a growing trend of people starting a blog just because they think it is an easy way to get free stuff or make money. But it’s not. Blogging is hard work and takes a lot of time.

Is it worth going to a bloggers event if you are just going to learn about the entity hosting the event? Back when I worked in radio, we called that a press conference and it was part of my job to attend them. Since I was paid by the radio station, I attended many press conferences on topics I didn’t personally care about.

As a blogger, I only go to events directly related to what I blog about: craft beer in Cincinnati for Hoperatives and technology, theater and a few other topics here at RadioCarla.com. Any time I broke this rule and went to an event that really didn’t interest me (usually as a favor to someone), I was miserable. It was a lose-lose for both me and the hosting business.

The word “free” sounds good except it usually isn’t really true. I’ve been to many, many trade shows over the years ranging from the National Restaurant Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, EarMarked for Disney travel agents, Cruise360, BlogHer and the national Beer Bloggers Conference. At first, all the free swag is great. Then, it’s the end of the day and you’re carrying around this bag of crap. And then the bag of crap is in your home taking up space. Was it worth it?

The same idea applies to blogging. If you want to write a blog just to get free stuff, you have to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth shilling a product you may or may not like on your Facebook page and Twitter stream? Is it worth losing readers and Facebook likes and Twitter followers for a “free” product that you could have easily bought yourself (if you really even wanted it)?

All in all, it goes back to the question of why are you blogging. What is your obsession? What is your topic? What is your voice? Your voice is really your brand in blogging. Is it worth diluting your voice for a cheap plastic spatula with some company’s name on it that you’ll just throw away the next time you move?

In my last post, I suggested that you think before you download. Now, I’m suggesting that you think long and hard before you give away your voice. Don’t pay the high cost of selling yourself out.

— Carla

plastic spatula - high cost of selling yourself out

The High Cost of Free Software: Be Careful What You Download

As I was driving into school this morning, I was listening to Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Tech” with Leo LaPorte and a panel of tech writers. It’s worth watching the first part of the video linked below just to see Leo in his steam punk apparel with his “new” steam punk laptop. But, listen to the first fifteen minutes or so where the panel discusses something that they called “douche ware”.

There’s always been malware around that can do all sorts of bad things to your computer. But douche ware is different in that it observes the letter of the law, but not the spirit. It tells you that it’s going to install a toolbar or other “enhancements” to your machine but it may also keep adding programs every few days.

In some ways, the term “douche ware” makes it sound like sites like Download.com and software developers are adding these things to their software installers to just be a greedy douche bag. But there may be a reason why.

Ed Bott of zdnet.com on the show states:

Basically, there’s a dilemma that software developers are in. They can either go with these monetization companies which load up their installers with “special offers” and which in turn allow them to make a frightful sum of money or they can take a day job and get out of the software business.

What this means to you and me as consumers is that we need to be ever more vigilant when we install software, especially software we have downloaded. Don’t just click “yes” blindly and read each screen before clicking anything. That is unless you like multiple toolbars and having your home page & search engine changed and many more programs installed besides the one you thought you were getting.

As someone who has been teaching online classes for over ten years now, I learned early on to add the following statement to my syllabi:

It is not the instructor’s responsibility to resolve your technical problems whether it be computer or ISP related.

It is always amazing the things that people (my students) will download without thinking a bit about it. So think before you click and practice safe downloading.

— Carla

Re-Post: Why and How We Left GoDaddy

When we quit writing our tech blog Tag Team Tech last year, it was always interesting to see what posts continued to get traffic. This one was easily our most popular right up until Posterous shut down and Tag Team Tech was no more. While ostensibly co-written by both of us, you can definitely tell it’s mainly Tom, especially his expertise and wicked sense of humor. And, while GoDaddy commercials have gotten better since they hired James Hinchliffee as a spokesperson, we still are glad we made the change.

We had been using GoDaddy for both our domain name registration and web hosting for a very, very long time. We started using them way back before there was such a thing as a GoDaddy “girl.”

This was a time when most web hosting was done with small local companies who couldn’t afford to provide things like guaranteed 100% uptime or weekend tech support. Sometimes, not even any tech support. Go Daddy had those features and many others in addition to very competitive pricing. Sure, it was a long distance call to tech support, but you always got a knowledgeable person who wasn’t in India. During our time with GoDaddy, we frequently would request the post-call survey so we could let the company know how great the tech support person we talked with was.

Then, the television ads started. And they kept getting worse. Can you say sexist? Can you say misogynistic? Every time one of the ads came on, you couldn’t help but feel dirty giving money to a company that objectifies women that way.

And then there was the elephant hunt video. If you missed it, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parson posted a video of himself hunting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe. Parsons has since responded to the not-surprising outcry by saying that each year he goes to Zimbabwe and hunts “problem” elephants. Problem elephants? Really? Is the problem really with the elephants? He claims that it’s “one of the most beneficial and rewarding things” he does. We’d really hate to know what he does that he thinks is less beneficial and rewarding.

So more and more, we kept talking about moving off GoDaddy and last weekend we made the move. For the record, we went with Hover.com for our domain registration (Thanks Leo Laporte for telling us about them) and we chose Media Temple for our web hosting because Tom has used them on other projects. We decided to separate hosting from domain registration so hosting is a bit more portable. Plus we like to support TWIT’s advertisers.

So here’s what you see when you log in to GoDaddy with your account information:

GoDaddy My Account

Here’s what you see when you log in to Media Temple with your account information:

Media Temple Account Center

Any questions?

Remember there are at least three parts to moving from one web hosting company to another:

  1. Getting all of your content from your old hosting company and putting it on your new hosting company
  2. Getting the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) to understand that you’ve moved
  3. Getting everything to work

Fear, rage and the eventual loss of hope in both God and Man are all optional steps.

Now here’s the deal: you want to do them in that order. Move your stuff first. Get things working as best you can (more on this in a minute), then do the DNS work. When that finishes, clean up whatever doesn’t work.

The trouble for Tom was that step two was the most psychologically satisfying part of the whole exercise, at least at first. Every time he told the Internet “No, we’re not using GoDaddy for that anymore” it felt good. Real good. He was going to do just one domain just to test things out, but then couldn’t stop himself. He did all of them. And it felt even better.

Right up to the point that nothing worked anymore

You see, he was using the fabulous tutorial that Hover.com has written to assist you in transferring your domain registration to them. The very first thing it says is that GoDaddy will shut down all your DNS services beyond the bare minimum as soon as the domain transfer is final (and you can make it final in less than an hour). You know what? They aren’t kidding. All of our sites, except for our main domain, were suddenly invisible to the Internet.

Oops.

It wouldn’t have been so bad had Tom been more prepared to move the domains. Here’s a tip: write down all of your old DNS information before you start. Then write down what your new DNS information is going to be. If you can’t write out both things, you’re not ready for do Step #2. Since Tom was a moron and didn’t do this, he failed to notice all of the DNS records were still pointing at GoDaddy long past the time GoDaddy considered us a customer. It took an incredibly nice and helpful support tech from Hover.com to point that out. Had Tom done this correctly, this blog would have been inaccessible for an hour or two. As it worked out, it was most of a day. All due to Tom getting in a hurry.

So copy all your content over to your new web hosting company and then do the DNS changes. This blog and a couple of others we have are hosted on Posterous so there was no need to copy anything. (Posterous isn’t active any more.) Our blog Hoperatives is self-hosted on WordPress and there are a couple of other domains that have a number of static pages along with a separate WordPress installation. All that stuff got downloaded from GoDaddy to Tom’s local machine, then uploaded to Media Temple. It is possible to send files directly from GoDaddy to elsewhere, but he wanted the assurance of a local backup.

WordPress was surprisingly easy to migrate. The fact that the WordPress Codex documentation site has a wonderful how-to about moving your site doesn’t hurt. The necessary databases from GoDaddy were backed up and copied to Media Temple. An empty database with the same name was created on Media Temple, then a database restore was performed from the backup. Media Temple has an extensive documentation center that has articles on just about every aspect of this. Once that was done it was a matter of editing four lines in a configuration file in WordPress to tell it to use the new database instead of the old one. The blog came back as if it hadn’t moved.

The thing is, you can move and partially test a WordPress installation before you change your DNS settings. Tom didn’t, but if he had, we’d not have had any downtime. The trouble is that you can’t fully test everything until you throw the switch on the DNS changes. You see, your self-hosted WordPress blog likely thinks of itself as www.yourhost.com (or whatever domain you use). Until you let the Internet know what IP address www.yourhost.com uses, it’s going to have a hard time finding things like CSS files and such. In our case, before he made the DNS change for www.hoperatives.com, Tom could only see a version of our main page that had no styling whatsoever. That was enough, though, because it told him the database migration worked just fine.

Tom didn’t know about this tool when he was actually doing all this, but he wishes he would have known about viewdns.info. Things would have gone much smoother. The thing about DNS changes is that they take time to spread across the Internet. It’s kind of like the “Twilight Barking” system in 101 Dalmations where messages are passed from dog to dog. It takes a while, but the message does eventually get there. It’s always important to check your work, and the tools at ViewDNS.info help you do that.

The last step of migrating is making sure everything works. That part has been pretty painless because nearly everything came over flawlessly. Tom had to make a change in the WordPress control panel to change the path of the directory where images are stored, but that might not happen to you (ours was funky to accomodate GoDaddy). There were a couple of other minor issues that took a grand total of five minutes to fix (and were related to plugins we use). All-in-all, that part went really smooth.

A couple of things to keep in mind. GoDaddy isn’t going to give you any money back for any domain registrations you’ve made with them unless it’s within five days of registering them. We’ve asked for a pro-rated refund of our hosting fees and we’re still waiting to hear. Hover.com doesn’t staff a call center on the weekends or late into the evening, but they do respond to e-mails and tweets very, very quickly. Tom sent an e-mail with some questions and just a little while later our phone rang and it was a tech from Hover. It was pretty clear that she was willing to stay on the phone for as long as it took. She said that, but it was pretty clear from the way she was talking that she meant it. Did we mention that this was on a Sunday morning?

We left GoDaddy because we decided it wasn’t a company we wanted to give money to anymore. We chose two companies to replace it for equally personal reasons. Our reasons may not be the same as yours, but if you choose to leave your hosting company for another, take your time and research prices and features. If something isn’t clear, pick up the phone and call. How that call gets handled is probably going to be a pretty good indication of how things will go for you. Make a step-by-plan with all the information you’re going to need to make the switch, then plan for it to take some time. If you prepare in advance, it’ll all work out fine in the end.

And you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror again.

A Culture of Snobbery: Music and Beer

I’m not the first person to point out how polarized we’ve become in the United States. It’s like no one is even allowed to be a moderate any more. And with that comes the rise of the snob culture. If I don’t personally like something, it must be crap and no one else is allowed to like it or they’re crap too. While we see it played out most vehemently in politics, two areas where I’m seeing it become increasingly more prominent are music and beer.

I worked in commercial and non-commercial radio from 1988 through 1998. That doesn’t include my years working on my undergrad college radio station and interning at two stations from 1982-1984. I worked at many different formats: Top 40, MOR (Middle of the road or nostalgia), Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Full Service Talk, Oldies, Country, Hot Country, Smooth Jazz, Modern Rock and even Hip Hop. I was on-air talent, continuity (scheduling commercials), production manager, morning show side kick, news reader, sports caster and general manager / advisor of a college station.

During those years, I played a lot of different music. Some of the songs I fell in love with and some songs I continue to love. Some of it made me want to poke my eyes out. But, all the while, listeners would call and say how much they loved the songs I didn’t like. Yes, even this one. Their taste was not mine and it wasn’t my job to tell the little old lady on the phone that her tastes were wrong.

There are almost as many types of beer as there are genres of music. There is literally something for everyone. It’s a wide spectrum of color and taste. If you don’t like the bitterness of hoppy beers, try something less hoppy like a wheat or a brown ale or a fruit beer. And your beer preferences can change, just like your music taste. Beers I used to not care for (like stouts – I once said Guinness tasted like pond scum), I now crave (nothing like a really good coffee stout). Richard Dube at the Moerlein Lager House likes to say that if you don’t like blueberries, you don’t say that you don’t like fruit. The same is true for beer.

But, lately, we can’t freely admit our tastes without being told we’re idiots for liking some band or beer. Just last night on Twitter, I watched as someone talked about loving Bon Jovi and then be taken to task for that preference. Often, we can’t say we like something that isn’t hip or trendy unless we couch it in being our guilty pleasure.

Instead of telling someone that their music or beer tastes are crap, why not suggest some other music or beer that they may also like. For example, if a friend like Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel“, maybe suggest that they check out the Old Crow Medicine Show version or go really old school and check out the Bob Dylan boot leg version when it was called “Rock Me, Mamma”. Or maybe suggest that they check out some of the music over at WNKU.

For a beer example, maybe your friend loves Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. You can suggest they might like to check out Stiegl Grapefruit Radler or Unibroue Ephemere Apple. Maybe order one yourself and let them try it. If they refuse to even try something new, then that’s their loss.

And that gets to my final point. Why does someone else’s taste in anything matter to you? Why yell and scream and holler because someone doesn’t like the same things you do? Does it accomplish anything other than making both parties mad? Snobs, lighten up and let people like what they want to like. At the end of the day, there’s plenty of good music and beer to go ahead. We don’t need a culture of snobbery.

— Carla

Beer - A Culture Of Snobbery

Walking: In Water

So, today’s update is a bit of a good news, bad news thing.

Good news – I made it to the pool five times last week for a total of 255 minutes of water aerobics and 2,397 calories burned. (Thank you SparkPeople for doing those calculations for me!)

Bad news – In order to not re-injure my heel before my Disneyland trip, I’m going to have to put my walking regimen on hold until I get back.

The reality is that I really wasn’t ready to start a walking program like Ease Into 5K yet. I was just too out of shape. As Tom said at the pool this morning, I needed an Ease into an Ease Into 5K program. And that’s exactly what the water aerobics is for me. It’s the exercise I like the best and it’s the one I keep doing once I get back in the rhythm. And, to be honest, I burn more calories in the water than I do walking.

Once I get back from Disneyland, I’ll probably re-start the Ease Into 5K program. I do like it very much. I just wasn’t ready for it.

— Carla

Happiness Project: Reading

I’ve always been a reader. As a child growing up, summer vacation meant getting a new book to read while we were driving. The original in-car entertainment system was a book (well, and playing license plate bingo). In the seventh grade, I read Gone with the Wind in under a week. I love the Little House books. And Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames and any of the juvenile mysteries by Phyllis A. Whitney. From Whitney, I found Agatha Christie and a life long love of her work began.

As I got older (and as I began to spend more time on the Internet), reading frequently got pushed to the side. I was lucky that my mom always let us stay up thirty minutes later if we read in bed. Both my brother and I still read in bed each night.

Reading for pleasure is one of the greatest joys there is. You are both entertained and enlightened. I love reading Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and other old classics to get a glimpse into another time. That’s the same reason I love biographies too.

I once had a student claim that she had never read a book for pleasure. I spent the rest of the term finding a book that would appeal to her to read. And I did it. Can’t remember what it was, but she actually read it.

So, when I was setting up my goals for this year’s Happiness Project, adding reading to the list was a natural. In today’s world where “busy” is glorified, taking time to read for pleasure seems like a luxury. But, just like your body, your mind needs some down time. Like the old saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack (and Carla) a dull boy (or girl).

I joined GoodReads.com and welcome you to contact with me there. You’ll see that my book choices can be very eclectic. I have an Audible.com membership and will frequently be listening to one book there while reading another on my Kindle (or Kindle app). Here’s my current book list:

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky
Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, Techniques and Stories from an Animation Legend (Animation Masters) by Floyd Norman

I’m heavy on non-fiction right now, but I usually rotate between fiction and non-fiction. Recent books have included Over-the-Rhine: When Beer Was King by Michael Morgan, The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag by Ron Schneider, Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton and How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston. Several of those were read on a recent vacation where both Tom and I read three books in about three days. Delicious!

I’m definitely back in the reading pattern, but I still feel the “I should be working on something else” guilt at times. I need to just block out time that’s designated for reading only. My life will be better for it.

— Carla

Walking: Pulling a Curt Schilling

During both the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) and the 2004 World Series, Boston Red Sox pitch Curt Schilling was playing injured. In fact, he had torn his tendon sheath during an earlier play off game against the Anaheim Angels. In both the ALCS game and the World Series game, Schilling pitched great games. All the while, blood leaked from his sutures and led to the now legendary “bloody sock”. There were members of his own team that didn’t get as much TV time as Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.

On Friday night, we had tickets to see Hal Holbrook in “Mark Twain Tonight!” at the Aronoff. The evening was a bit chilly so instead of my Lands End slides I had been wearing, I switched to my driving moccasins and knee highs. Big mistake. I ended up with a large blister on my left heel that popped while I was walking around downtown. It didn’t hurt lots, but it was noticeable.

The next morning, I got up early to do my Week 2: Day 3 walk. I put a Bandaid Advanced Healing Blister on my heel, but it really wasn’t big enough though I didn’t realize it until too late. I took off walking and immediately noticed it was a very humid morning. I expected to have some discomfort from my heel so I tried to ignore it. I did okay until I was alternating between “run” and “walk” (for me, that means “walk fast” and “walk slow”). When I walked fast, I could tell that my heel was getting irritated even more. After two run segments, I realized that the only way I could complete this walk was to slow walk the entire distance. I was determined to finish this day’s training since I had cut short Tuesday’s. Luckily, I had loosened the laces on my right shoe and didn’t have the numbness issues that I’d had before. It wasn’t pretty, but I did the whole routine.

It wasn’t until I got home and rested a while that I realized what I had done. Taking off my left shoe was excruciating. And then I saw it. The entire heel of my sock was blood soaked and so was the back part of my shoe. I very gingerly peeled off the sock and saw that I had worn off the skin on my heel in about a two inch diameter circle. I called out to Tom, “Hey, I pulled a Curt Schilling!”

Now, this means that my walking is on hold a bit while my heel heals. But it spurred us to get back to the pool. We got in 50 minutes of water aerobics on Sunday AND Monday. And it felt good. If I feel like I can protect my heel enough, I may try walking later in the week or I may do a slow walk in my Crocs flip flops or my slides. Disneyland is only three weeks away! I have to get going!

— Carla

The Joys of Live Chat for Customer Service

Like most people, I really don’t like calling large companies to try to get something resolved. With all of the outsourcing of these phone bank jobs and the “push 1 for…” phone trees, it never seems to go well and I ended up hanging up the phone in frustration. And when I’m trying to take care of something in between classes, I can’t be on hold for a long time.

Recently, instead of picking up the phone, I’ve been going to the company’s web site and seeing if they offer a live chat option. Two of the last three times I’ve done this, the issue I had was solved in less than ten minutes. The one that took longer was a bit more complicated, but the customer service rep I was chatting with updated me frequently so I never felt like she had forgotten me.

So, kudos and many thanks to companies like PNC and Walgreens for making live chat an option. It’s a good use of technology to make their customers’ lives a little easier.

— Carla