Monday, August 15, 2011

Pacific Bell, Facebook and Glynn Granger

If you had voice mail from Pacific Bell or SBC in the late 1990's or early 2000's you may have talked to Glynn Granger. If you did you probably would remember the call. From his cheerful opening greeting to his unmistakeable laugh ( Ha..Ha..Ha ) to his determination to correct whatever problem you had, Glynn was an icon at the San Ramon center.

While at the Dublin library over a week ago, I ran into a former co-worker and after sharing stories about what other PacBell alumni were doing, Glynn's name came up. On a spur of the moment we decided to see if he was on Facebook and there he was, in living color. Wow, we thought he's accepting friends, so we clicked on the button and waited for the reply.

About a day later I saw that "red number one" on messages, clicked it and saw Glynn's photo. I can't tell you how happy I was to read what he had to say.

When the first few words were, "John, this is Ralph, Glynn's son," I can't tell you how sad I was. I found out that he had passed away in 2009. Had I scrolled down his profile the day before, I would have seen some messages and knew he had left us.

A few years ago, to let friends know someone had passed away you would go through your phone numbers and emails to see who you could contact. This could take up to a week.

Enter Facebook.

I quickly emailed Teresa, who received the same response and we quickly sent out instant chats, messages and passed the word around. In 24 hours most of the former PacBell people were contacted. A message I posted received 29 comments. Plus I received a dozen or so direct messages. His Facebook page grew from 61 friends to 98 (and counting). There were several touching messages left on his page.

Glynn (not Glenn as he used to say), was one of a kind. He had such a sparkling personality despite his ailments. Plus he had a unique and honest way of expressing himself. I sat across from him twice and here are some of the things I remember.

If he was puzzled over an email message from the company you might him hear say, 'What in the Sam Hill are they trying to say !"

If someone, usually a customer didn't quite get something he would say offline "Well Duhhhhh" !

Once at the end of the day he said he was on his way to a class. Knowing his age and condition I asked is it a cooking class or meditation. He barked " Meditation ! It's a Tap Dancing class" !

The times we walked out of the building at the end of the day, he would say, "John, let's get the hell out of Dodge".

We used to have monthly meetings where stats were read, snacks were put out and birthdays and letters of commendations were read. Usually a dull event except you had time off the phone. Once I suggested we spice things up a bit. Let's have Glynn read the commendations. This turned into a laugh riot as he emphasized words, called people out and had everyone clamoring for more.

Another phrase, Texas style was how he would describe something. "I had a meal last night, sonnnnnnn it was sooooo good".

One of my favorites was when he would plow through a billing system to enter a note. "Why do they still have this antiquated system" !

I don't know if Glenn, (whoops Glynn) was ever late for work. Maybe once if there was a major traffic jam. He would have his cup of tea, kick into his slippers and await the day. I remember once I said I knew a Granger only he pronounced it " I know he cackled, he pronounced it Grawn-Jay.

Somewhere up in the sky I know he's looking over my shoulder and saying John, you better edit this article, I see several grammar and punctuation errors.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Michelle and Sarah

I wonder how much airtime Michele Bachmann would get if she didn't look the way she does. In other words, good looking. I wonder how much of Sarah Palin's political appeal arises from her physical appeal. Which is appealing

I think Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is pretty. I think that Sarah Palin is pretty, too. I'm not saying they're smokin' hot babes. I'd reserve that for someone younger, like Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. If I were in my 20s, I suppose that having any corporeal thoughts at all about these women would be, as the kids say, ewwww. But from my boomer perspective, they're real lookers.

I don't remember Bella Abzug getting all this attention.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pizza and art are a good mix

If you are like the majority of people you go to a pizza restaurant for the food, beverages and maybe the location and service.

Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub in Berkeley besides having such interesting pizza combos such as the Heartstopper, the Chopper and the Splitter has added a new service to the menu. Rather to the wall.

For the past six years they have added artwork, paintings and other exhibits to the already cozy atmosphere inside. Their manager Chloe said they have been showcasing a variety of local and up and coming artists who normally do not have a chance to display their talents at galleries and similar venues.

The artist has the entire month to showcase their work on the walls of Lanesplitter's and it provides a unique diversion from the usual television screens and video games one gets accustomed to. Plus you can learn something new from the exhibits.

For the month of March the artist who is showing their paintings is Jesse Berger.

"We like an idea what type of work an artist does before we let them put their work inside," Chloe said. "Jesse was here a lot and he basically drew on some napkins to show me his style and that was enough to put his work on our walls."

Jesse has been painting for three years now and he describes his style as "modern."

"There is creativity in everybody," he said. "When I start a painting I think never think about drawing something in particular."

Not being an art critic I was drawn to several of the dozen paintings he had on display. Some are colorful, some have objects or people in them, some make you really think and imagine what is it you see in the work.

Jesse has done over fifty paintings and hopes someday to display them internationally. He counts Alex Grey and Jean Michel Basquiat as artists he admires.

While he was in Hawaii recently, Jesse also participated in painting a mural in Kauai, in which copies are being sold in Los Angeles to the benefit victims of the tsunami and quake in Japan.

While we usually stare endlessly at the menu on what to order, Lanesplitter's give every customer a new experience by giving them a reprieve from reading and admiring the artwork on the walls

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Those credit card annual fees

Mitchell of San Leandro was notified recently that next month his Wells Fargo credit card which he has had over 20 years was now going to hit him with a $45 annual fee.

Banks describe this annual fee as a a yearly charge for basically the convenience of having a credit card.

"I was out of work for a bit, so I had to charge my credit card," he said. "Now I have to pay that yearly fee on top of the interest because I need to keep the card."

If your credit card decides to charge you an annual fee, they are required by federal law to notify you 45 before it becomes effective. You can reject the fee by opting out and closing your account, but this could possibly hurt your credit score.

David Lazarus of the LA TImes wrote about Bank of America charging one customer $59 for their annual fee.

"I feel like an indentured servant," Sue Laman told Lazarus. "But what can I do? I can't refuse their annual fee. They know I have no choice except to pay."

With the banks being checkmated on late fee limits and over charge drafts, someone had to come up with a new way for money to come in.

In Lazarus's column he writes:

Bank of America recently notified about 5% of its cardholders that a $59 annual fee will be imposed beginning April 11. The bank says the fee is to address such issues as payments being too low or balances too high. It also says in letters to some cardholders that the annual fee is a response to "a review of your banking relationships with us."

Betty Riess, a Bank of America spokeswoman, said the annual fee is generally being imposed on "customers who would not qualify for a new account today." "They have a choice," she added. "They can reject the fee and pay off their account."

"It is equivalent to increasing interest rates and is yet another example of banks employing bait-and-switch tactics that place unfair financial burdens upon their customers," said Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive of, a credit card comparison site.

Remember the days of free checking, free checks and no minimum balance ? If one million customer are charged a $59 annual fee that comes to, yes $59 million a year.

Do you think that is fair ? I sure don't.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Visual CV provides resumes with your photo

Visual CV provides your resume with your photo. take a look.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We all need jobs, don't we

Looking for and landing a position seems to be tougher than ever. Sending out resumes in the "black hole" for job postings can make you weary. Trying to locate a job in the "hidden job market" means getting past rocks, firewalls or gatekeepers.

With the current economy not showing much change, sometimes it helps to come up with a different and unique approach to landing a job. There was the sandwich board guy in New York who was featured on CNN. Some places like schools, churches and groups have started reverse job fairs.

Howard Friedenberg decided to take matters into his own hands. Specifically to a website and to BART. He and a group of job seekers in the East Bay have set up a website and have put themselves on a billboard banner at a Bart Station. Actually four banners at four stations up and down the East Bay.

The billboard has their photos on it, the website address and is worded to draw your attention. This isn't your typical buy our product ad.

"The website and the posters became a necessity not only for my fellow job seekers, but for me personally," Howard remarked. " I needed to start and create a completed project that would be slightly different, yet have a positive impact and give everyone an energy boost."

The group plans to run the billboards for eight weeks. Their website allows you to highlight each individuals photo to see their position title and you can then click on it to find out more about them. There is also a drop down menu to search for specific titles. You can contact each member directly.

How unique is that ?

Do we have your attention now ?

Chevron ? Google ? Kaiser ?

As Howard and the members say , they are your friends, neighbors and perhaps former co-workers. They all have something special to offer a company. They contributed to businesses and companies all around the Bay Area....till they lost their jobs.

But their skills are as sharp as ever.

The job seekers were featured last week in a KPIX Channel 5 segment, which can be viewed from the website.

So those of you looking for a new way to jump start your search, try thinking "out of the box." Get your name, skills and maybe your photo out there.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcom to Kable Kon, this is McBug

Welcome to Kable Kon, this is McBug, how may I help you?
“Yes, I’m having a problem with my cable reception.”
“Oh, sorry to hear that; what kind of problem are you having?”
“You mean you don’t know?”
“Uh, no, I don’t know. I can’t see your tv. In order to assist you I need you to first tell me what the problem is.”
“I thought you people could see into my Kable box.”
“Well, no, we can’t do that.”
“But you can see into my modem.”
“Well, yes, we can do that.”
“Why can you see into my modem but not my Kable box?”
“Er, well, I don’t know. I guess we have a different relationship with your modem than we do with your Kable box. So, could you tell me what problem you are having?”
“Yes, all I see is snow. Green snow.”
“Oh, green snow. OK. You’re probably on the wrong tv input and you more than likely have a video input plugged into an audio jack or an audio input plugged into a video jack or you may have an audio input plugged into a video jack and a video input plugged into an audio jack.”
“Oh, don’t worry, green snow is just a simple variation of the old Moscow swirl. It’s Nothing to worry about. You didn’t see any information on the screen about an impending missile launch before the picture went off, did you?”
“Uh, no!”
“I’m sure you didn’t. If you were having a real serious problem the cruise missile would have hit you by now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I can fix the problem by adding Bazooka Service for $87.99 per month along with KableKon insurance for $14.95 a month with a one-time installation fee of $99.99. This comes out to – let me use my calculator – mmmmm - $202.93 – throw in another twenty bucks or so for taxes.”
“What! - two hundred twenty two bucks to fix my picture? That’s ridiculous! I’m going to switch to! Cancel my service immediately!”
“Good luck with that one, sir. They charge $300 just to talk with you about an appointment! I’m not permitted to cancel services. For that you have to speak with our StickItToYa department. They’re closed just now. Their hours are Mon-Wed 6-8:30 AM, closed Thursdays, Fridays 11:30 PM to Midnight, closed Saturdays & Sundays, 6-8 PM every seventh Monday, 10-11:30 AM every fourth Tuesday, 9-11PM every ninth Wednesday, closed every other Friday in years that end in a zero.”
“Chrikey! Just fix the friggin' picture! I’ll pay what it takes! Can you do it now?”
“Certainly, sir, just a moment. OK, I’ve added the services. Is your picture coming in now?”
“Seems to be..just a moment, let me check. Hey, yeah! Seems to be working. Let me try a few more channels…hey, that did it! Looks like it’s ok now.”
“Is there anything else I can help you with, sir?”
“No, I guess that covers it. Hey, wait. The picture just went blank and the One Moment Please sign just came on the screen!”
“Thank you for calling KableKon. We appreciate your business!”
BEEP! Welcome to KableKon. How may I help you

Monday, February 7, 2011

AOL buying Huffington Post

Internet company AOL Inc. famous for it "you've got mail," and local patch news sites is buying online news hub Huffington Post in a $315 million deal that represents a bet on the future of online news.

Huffington Post grew quickly from startup to online giant. Over time, it launched city-specific pages and developed a roster of sections such as food and books. The work of its 70-person paid staff is augmented by content from news outlets and 6,000 bloggers who write for free.

In a blog post about the deal, Arianna Huffington praised AOL's vision. She wrote that the deal was signed at the Super Bowl in Dallas.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

VP says hang in there

Well it looks like we have a new phrase from the vault to add to the 21st century.

Hang in there.

According to Wikipedia:

Hang in there, was a popular catch phrase made by a motivational poster. The poster featured a picture of a small kitten, hanging on to a tree branch. It has since become a popular relic of the 1970s.

A copy of the poster was famously presented to former Vice President Spiro Agnew by 100 of his supporters in Congress when he was under pressure to resign in 1973.

Now we have another VP connecting with the phrase.As part of the Obama Administration’s social media outreach this week, Vice President Joe Biden sat down with Yahoo! News’ Anna Robertson for a wide-ranging interview that included questions from sent in from internet users

Biden said that while the economy is starting to grow, he understands there it is still painful for the millions of Americans still looking for work.

“The message is "hang in there,” he said. “Things are coming back.”

That is good to know. Keep that mantra. Why don't we all use that. The next time you are late on a payment, just tell the caller, hang in there, the payment is coming. That's what the VP says. The next time you are on hold for forty minutes, an agent will come on and say, hang in there, someone will get to you.

The next time someone running for officer asks you for a donation, jsut say hang in there.

The question is hang in there for how long ?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Entry level jobs ?

A article titled "Ten Top entry level jobs" was on the aol. job section recently. The list seemed to stretch what is really considered an "entry level job." Here are the positons they listed with the salary.

1. Investment Banking Analyst. $73,000.
2. Assistant Actuarial Analyst. $54,000
3. Junior Tax Associate. $53,000
4. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. $51,00
5. Auditor. $49,000
6. Wind Turbine Technician. $49,000
7. Health Care Research Analyst. $47,000
8. Search Engine Optimization Analyst. $44,000
9. Forensic DNA Analyst. $41,000
10. Law Research Analyst. $40,000

Source: All salary data is from The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

Every job required a degree in the field. A high percentage of people looking today most likely would not fit the bill for the positions. Is there such a thing as a well paid entry level job ?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Five questions to ask, five questions not to ask at interviews

The interview has just about wrapped up. You are interested in the position and the interviewer pops this question at you ?

Do you have any questions for me ?

Well, you should have several.

1. What is the biggest challenge in this job? You want to know what you will be asked to do. Come up with a reply to how you handled a similar challenge.
2. What do you enjoy about working here? This is a chance to find out about the culture and people there. It may be in line with what you seek with a company.
3. Is this a new position or a replacement? If you are replacing someone, see if they were promoted or let go. If it's a new position, they may seek your input on job responsibilities.
4. What kind of supervision will I have? Will someone check in with you now and then or will you be required to punch in and out throughout the day.
5. When will you make a decision? This will show you are interested in the position. They should tell you in a few weeks or the end of the month.

Don't ask these.

1. How long will my lunch hour be ? The days of the three martini lunches are long gone. You may have a scheduled one every day or it will be flexible. Expect 45 minutes or an hour. This will come after the offer.
2. Where will my office be located ? Don't ask for a corner office with a two windows. Once you have the position you can see where they locate you. If you will be in charge of people, aske how close you will be to them.
3. What is the social life here like? Don't try to find out if they have Christmas parties, picnics, fantasy football teams and like to hangout after work. You will find this out once you are there.
4. Have you ever been laid off ? Don't bring this up to them. A better question may be how did you find out about your position.
5. Why are you bulding a facility next door? If you have done your research on the company you should be able to answer this for yourself.

Bring a notepads, copies of your resumes and jot down relevant facts about the company. The key is to stay relaxed and have a positive flow with the interview.