Fooling Myself

At one point, I weighed over 400 pounds.  And not just over, either.  I was smack in the middle of the 400 range.  I believe it’s called ‘morbidly obese,’ for a reason.  Carrying that much weight around on your frame is never a good thing.  It was not a pretty sight and I was always tired.  I felt lethargic and sluggish, not really wanting to do much of anything about it because when you’re that big, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

That was about four or five years ago.  Since then, I altered my diet somewhat and added walking to my regimen.  I take the stairs instead of the elevators at work, and I try to stay active in one form or another.  And I dropped below 400 pounds somewhere in 2004, which was a big thing for me.  I was really happy about it and I remember thinking that it was a long road to hoe.  I felt lighter and I was feeling good about myself there for a while.  I had not had access to a scale in a while, but I kept telling myself that I had to be closing in on 300… maybe between 305-325.

Yeah, well… I weighed myself recently.  I’m 365.  That’s really not good, but at least I’m not where I once was.  I need to work a little harder at dropping another 180 pounds, so I’m at my target weight of 185.  Now, 185 might be a pipe dream, but if I can drop below 250, I’ll be really happy and I’m sure I’ll feel much better overall.  So, I guess what I’m asking for is some moral support.  I put up a Traineo page a while back, but it seems no one goes there.   I’m not sure if it’s because you guys don’t want to be associated with someone as large as me, or maybe we’re just not that close.  But I would love it if you guys would hammer on me a little bit more about this.

I’ve decided to start taking pictures of what I eat and post them up on my blog.  I’m hoping it’ll help me remain accountable to myself, if I feel I have to make a full report on what’s going inside my body.  And hopefully, seeing all that up on the blog will help me avoid eating something I’m not supposed to.

So, here goes.  I hope I stick to this a little better.

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Now playing on iTunes: Greg Edmonson – River tricks Early

Toshiba Update

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Toshiba Customer Relations regarding my laptop’s demise. For those of you that don’t know the story so far, feel free to go back and read by clicking on the link. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

It did not take two business days like she promised me. It took two weeks! That’s right. From the Tuesday two weeks ago, when I first called it in, until this Monday, I was waiting for “Corporate” to get off their asses and do something about their faulty equipment.

TWO WEEKS.

I’ve worked in this industry for nearly fourteen years, which seven of them in technical support. Five of them with a major whole systems manufacturer. Never in those years have I ever waited more than six hours to get a new system out to an in-warranty customer. NEVER. If someone pays the extra expense to cover your piece-of-shit laptop, then I think the least you can do is… I don’t know… live up to it?!

2875I had to call them and keep calling them every other day because they promised to call me back and hardly ever did. The person I was speaking to about the situation kept apologizing for the delay. She kept telling me that they don’t have any authority to ship out a new laptop, only to replace ones still being manufactured. But since they discontinued my model of laptop, that was pretty much out of the question. I was pretty upset by the time it was a full week (seven days) of waiting for “Corporate” to do something about it. I could care less whether or not it was unusual that they were taking so long, lady, how about lighting a fire under their asses and getting into gear? She was commenting on it rather than actually doing something about it.

When I insisted they get someone on the phone over at Corporate, she told me, “Oh, we only communicate by email. So I will send them another email.” I asked, “Don’t you guys have some sort of SLA? At what point do we graduate from email to phone?”

For the uninitiated, an SLA is a Service Level Agreement. Usually, an SLA determines how much time must pass for an issue to be escalated to the next highest authority. In technical support, it would mean that a ticket moves up in priority from one grade to the next. Each grade of priority gets a different kind of response. So a low-priority ticket might have something like a 3 business day response. If after that, nothing happens, then it gets bumped up to a higher level, which involves more people working on the problem. Eventually, you get high enough to involve directors, for whom it looks really bad to have a low-priority ticket move up to a high-priority ticket through inaction.

When I was working technical support for Acer America, we had the ability to ship anything we wanted, so long as our manager signed off on it. And I had awesome managers while I was working there. If I decided that a PRI1 (which was a high-priority laptop ship) was warranted, I would say 99.99% of the time, I would get an approval for it. I was damned good at my job, and I have a lot of pride in the fact that I serviced more than my fair share of calls in that support center. I won three customer service awards from that place every year I worked there. And folks, this is a place that does not hand out awards without some serious documentation to back it up.

But no… Toshiba apparently has no SLA with the customer. Which is total crap. So, she asked me if there was anything else she could do for me and I was blunt. I told her, “You’ve got me pretty much by the short and curlies, here, lady. Unless you can magically make a replacement laptop appear out of thin air, then this phone call is done. Thanks for wasting my time.”

Some of you might be thinking… wow, that’s pretty harsh. Then again, some of you may not be used to working behind the scenes like I have. Waiting more than a day was absurd, so by the time we were into the second week, I was livid. This chick started calling me, because I would call her center up and bitch out whoever answered the phone. And the conversations were always the same: “Oh, I see that you are working with <name>. Let me see if she’s available.” They could not transfer my ass fast enough, especially after I would launch into a tirade when they told me, “Oh, it looks like there’s no new information in this ticket.”

No new information means nothing got done, and now I have to wait longer to get an answer that should have been provided within the original two business days I was promised. So, when they transfer me over to her, she tells me that she understands why I’m so upset and I tell her, “Listen… I’ve worked your job before and when a customer tells me that he’s been waiting beyond the expectation that you set, then your own professional word is on the line. If I were you, I would use every available avenue of communication to whomever is in charge to tell them that your own word had been broken in this arrangement. And if they don’t care about that, then it’s time to find a job at a place where that kind of thing actually has some value.”

There was a lot of silence after that. She said, “Okay, well, sir, I appreciate your frustration, but there’s nothing more I can do.” To which I responded, “You mean, there’s nothing more you’re willing to do. Suffice to say, this is the last time I buy Toshiba.” And I hung up without further comment, because all I was doing was wasting my time. It was apparent to me that she didn’t give two shits about the fact that she broke her word to me. All part of the cost of doing business, and maybe that’s just one the many problems that corporations deal with in their image with the people who buy their products. A fact of which is a conversation I seemed to have every time I got off the phone with them, because invariably, someone in the office would hear me go twelve rounds with Toshiba on a semi-daily basis. (Yes, it was during my break.)

I waited another full week until I finally got a phone call back from them. At this point, I was just tired of the bullshit and the back-and-forth. And calling them up wasn’t doing anything more than just getting my blood pressure up, so I was pretty much stuck with sitting around with a giant paperweight, hoping that eventually someone at Toshiba Corporate would figure out a proper answer to the whole mess. When they called, all she told me was that they finally authorized an RMA for it, but she couldn’t tell me what they were replacing my unit with. Well, that was, once again, unacceptable. I sure as hell wasn’t going to give up my laptop unless I knew what I was getting in return.

“Oh, well, sir, then I guess we will have to wait another week to find that out.”

… “Whatever.”

T10481721Luckily, it did not take another week, because last night I got the phone call from them. They’re sending me out a Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513.  All I have to do is accept their “generous” offer (I shit you not, that’s what she told me) and then send them the faulty laptop back and they would ship out the new one.  Again, this is one of those things that pisses me off.  Of course, this point is kind of moot since the laptop isn’t even booting at this point, but when you ship out mobile devices, you generally ship out the replacement device first to allow the customer an opportunity to transfer data.  In this case, there was no such opportunity, and I wanted the chance to see if this new laptop had the ability to do what I needed it to do.  But no, there would be no such honeymoon period for me, so now I have to ship back the paperweight and then wait until two weeks for them to ship me out the new one.

The specs on the website make the G25 superior to the P25 in some regards.  Overall, I should be pleased since I’m getting a bump in ram and hard drive space.  But I just wish that the cost had not been my brand loyalty.  Isn’t it funny how quickly we turn antagonistic toward a corporate brand after just one bad experience?  I was willing to give them every benefit of the doubt up until the long wait in getting a simple response from “Corporate.”  And by the way, knowing full well that this went all the way to the tippy top of the corporation and it still got back-burned for two weeks only solidifies my hostility toward anything Toshiba.

—————-
Now playing on iTunes: Nobuo Uematsu – Dancing Mad

Weight Loss…

First:

traineo

Second, I have decided to not drive in to work (except Sundays and holidays) and take the bus. I have to walk to the bus stop, which is about 10 minutes from the apartment, and then another 10 minutes from the stop at work to my building. So, round trip forces me walking 40 minutes a day, plus maybe 5 minutes of walking around between the buildings per day, depending on where my meetings and classes are.

What I’m looking to do is drop at least 25 pounds in the next six months, which I feel is a doable goal. I’m not looking to lose a whole mess of weight overnight; I know this is going to take a little time and effort. But I think the decision to use public transit is a step in the right direction.

Click on the image and add yourself as a motivator, if you’d like to.

Santa & Me or The Case of the Magical Invisible Fat Man

Today’s Holidailies prompt is:

Today is St. Nicholas’ Day: Did you believe in Santa Claus/Father Christmas? How did you find out the truth? Would you tell your kids about Santa?

I’m pretty sure my parents went out of their way to preserve the fantasy-as-reality of Santa Claus. Up until the age of ten or eleven, I think. Personally, the whole idea of faking your kids out about some fantasy being who roams the Earth looking to shove a present down a chimney is a bit on the cruel side, regardless of how much a part of the American tradition it is. I was pretty heartbroken when I figured it out and was not happy with my mom or dad when I realized that they were the ones who were eating the cookies I had baked and the milk I had left out. I thought it was strange that my dad and Santa had the same taste in chocolate chip cookies (add walnuts) and that Santa would go get milk out of the fridge because he liked it ice cold.

From bedtime until the early morning hours of Christmas Day, my sister and I were prisoners in our own room. Bathroom trips required an escort and we could only cross into my parents’ room to use their bathroom (when every other night we had to use the one in the hall). We were never allowed walk down the hall let alone look down the hall, and my parents were pretty adamant about that. And we tried, man, we tried to see what was going on in the living room and why my parents would play music at a moderately loud volume until they went to sleep. I think I once snuck a glimpse and saw my dad with a tool in his hand before I was ten years old, but I vaguely remember passing it off as normal. My dad was a carpenter, so him and tools… forget it.

The fateful year I discovered the decade-long hoax of Santa Claus was when I became inquisitive enough to start putting the pieces together. Okay, so cookies were made and my mom and dad bought presents for us to have. Per tradition, these presents were hidden all over the house; usually in some high up place in the garage or sometimes in the attic. At ten and eight years old, respectively, neither my little sister nor I were brave enough to venture up into the attic crawlspace without a slingshot, three bags of ammo. and preferably a flamethrower or some napalm. The presents were relatively safe from us. But I think that year, they got lazy and decided they didn’t want to have to pull down the ladder and hike up there because my mom put a few in the one place she should have realized I staked out regularly: her sewing room.

The sewing room was adjacent to my bedroom and had pass-through access to the hall right across from the bathroom my sister and I used all the time. I mean the closet in the sewing room had two doors to it and you could walk through the clothes in there and end up in the magical land of Narnia the opposing hallway. Inside that closet was a shelf up high, but the sewing room was also where my mom kept stools and stepladders. Now, granted, I wasn’t tall at age ten, but I was pretty damned smart. Stacking a few things on top of one another and I had a stool, books, and a box ready to support my weight so I could start digging around and thats when I found it: a couple of Star Wars figures! I tried not to get too excited, because my mom was a teacher, and sometimes she would give those out as prizes for students who did well or something. She was cool like that. But at the same time, I knew that they knew that I was aiming for a Star Wars Christmas. So, I simply waited it out until Christmas morning to see what would happen.

By the way, I love this Christmas story, because it’s also the story of how I rule and my sister got dicked out of presents.

Christmas morning was just as restrictive as Christmas eve. The rule was, mom and dad were the only ones who could determine when it was time to open presents. So, my sister and I could rush out there two minutes after they went to bed, but if they found out we opened them before they said so, it had the potential of being the worst Christmas ever, as they pack up all the toys and donated them or something. I doubted they would ever do that, but when you’re a kid, you try not the push the envelope too much when the risk outweighs the reward by massive tonnage, you know? My sister and I drooled over the presents and played the game of who got what, by picking them up one by one and shaking it or feeling the texture of what lay beneath the wrapping paper. My sister was drooling over this gigantic box with her name on it from Santa. Most every present there was from Santa with a few from my mom and dad. See? They went out of their way to distinguish Santa.

I was checking out everything around me and noticing other little things about Santa’s visit last night. My sister refused to believe that Santa didn’t exist, and back then she would argue at the drop of a hat, so I didn’t bother trying to convince her. Needless to say, my doubts were raised and since we had some time to kill before my parents woke up and stumbled into the living room, I had time to conduct my investigation thoroughly. I began looking around for clues:

Clue #1: Santa and my mother have the exact same handwriting.

Clue #2: Santa not only cleaned the plate of cookies, but the special plate we used was washed and drying in the rack!

Clue #3: Santa closed the flue behind him! (Well… that could have been part of his magic, but that flue sticks and he’d have to be ubermage to close it without muscle behind it.)

Clue #4: I went outside, and noticed no difference to the roof. It had rained that year and even from rooftop to rooftop, reindeer have to leave some muddy prints. I couldn’t imagine Santa taking the time to clean hooves between landings; the man’s got enough to do in a night by bringing presents to every kid in the world.

I remember feeling being indignant about it after I had enough evidence to prove that Santa didn’t exist. The anger was welling up inside me as I wasted all that time being good and writing letters to him. All those dreams of catching him in the middle of the night and asking him to take me with him so I could help out someplace were for naught! What the hell, man? Did they think this was fucking funny? I imagine them staying up every Christmas eve, wrapping presents and having a good chuckle at our expense: man, those kids are dumb, thinking some fat man could shimmy down the chimney and drop off a load of gifts for them. I started to doubt the Tooth Fairy right then, because I couldn’t imagine my Rottweiler allowing some strange woman to enter the house without barking his fool head off.

That damned stupid dog always woke me up.

Finally, my parents woke up and managed to move into the living room. With a huff of exhaustion, they inclined their heads and indicated that we could start with the carnage. Oh, and it was a carnage of wrapping paper, tape, and boxes, believe me. Woe be tithe the wrapping paper or cardboard that separated a Garcia kid from his or her Christmas present. I started opening my gifts and was elated to find that the Star Wars figures I saw in the sewing room were to be mine! But, I quickly checked the tage on the wrapping paper and read, “To: Mikey From: Santa.” Case closed, bitches! Santa is a hoax! Parents commit fraud!

Truth be told, I so didn’t care. “Santa” brought me the entire first generation Star War collection and a huge carrying case to collect them all. It took me like four hours to open all the presents. Oh, so yeah… about my sister: the big box was actually the huge Holly Hobbie play set kitchen and dining room and she loved it. But see, my parents believed that present funding was to be somewhat equal between the kids. so if say, you spend $100 on one kid, you gotta spend that amount on the other so that it didn’t seem unbalanced. Problem was, they dropped a huge wad on the play set (those things weren’t cheap at Toys R Us), and to make up for it, they picked up all the individual action figures and wrapped them all separately.

My sister’s Christmas morning was done in thirty seconds. I, on the other hand, kept opening more and more stuff. And she watched me.

And she fumed. Man, oh man… she was pissed. She started in on my mom, talking about how Santa only brought her one gift and me just shy of an even thousand. Just as Mom was about to point out that hers was a huge gift and mine was a bunch of tiny little ones, I turned around and said:

“He likes me more.”

Shortly before the crying and subsequent parental admonishment, I swear, if only for a moment, I heard my dad chuckle into his coffee mug just as I said that.. and just before I got a spanking on Christmas morning.

Meme Alert: Ten Layer Goodness (ganked from <lj user=”dlobok”>)

Layer.one:

Name: Michael Daniel Garcia
Birthdate: June 19, 1976
Birthplace: Santa Clara, California
Current location: San Jose, California
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Jet Black
Height: 5’9″
Righty or Lefty: Lefty
Zodiac Sign: Gemini

Layer.two:

Your heritage: Mexican/Spanish/French
Your weakness: chocolate and a sexy ass.
Your shoes you wore today: Black dress shoes.
Your fears: Spiders and the other shoe dropping.
Your perfect pizza: Ham, extra cheese, extra sauce from Round Table.
Goals you’d like to achieve: Finish writing my novel.

Layer.three:

Your thoughts first waking up: *smile*
Your best physical feature: Five of six girlfriends agree: My ass.
Your bedtime: Midnight-ish.
Your most missed memory: If it was missed, wouldn’t it technically be forgotten?

Layer.four:

Pepsi or Coke: Pepsi.
McDonald’s or Burger King: Jack in the Box.
Single or group dates: Single.
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Either.
Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate
Cappuccino or coffee: Tea

Layer.five:

Smoke: No.
Cuss: Yes.
Sing: Yes.
Take showers daily: Yes.
Have a crush: Yes.
Think you’ve been in love: Yes.
Want to go to college: Yes.
Believe in yourself: Yes.
Get motion sickness: No.
Think you’re attractive: No.
Think you’re a health freak: No.
Get along with your parents: Yes.
Like thunderstorms: Sort of.
Play an instrument: Yes (Sax)

Layer.six: – in the past 6 months

Gone to the mall: Yes
Eaten an entire box of Oreos: No.
Eaten sushi: NO.
Been on stage: No.
Gone skating: No
Made homemade cookies: Yes.
Gone skinny dipping: No.
Dyed your hair: No.
Stolen anything: No.

Layer.seven: – ever..

Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: No.
Been called a tease: Yes.
Got beaten up: No.

Layer.eight:

Age you hoped to be married: Yes.
Number and name of children: -5.
How do you want to die: Remembered.
Where do you want to attend college: San Francisco State.
Dream job: Either Novelist or Randy’s agent of doom.
Country you want to visit: England, Japan, Austrailia.

Layer.nine: – In a guy/girl…

Best eye color: Brown.
Best hair color: Any color but Blonde.
Short or long hair: Either.
Height: Any.
Best weight: Any.
Best clothing: Any.
Best first date location: Vista Point, North Shore of the Golden Gate.
Best first kiss location: Lips.

Layer.ten:

Number of drugs taken illegally: Zero.
Number of people I could trust with my life: Five.
Number of CDs: Too many.
Number of piercings: Zero.
Number of tattoos: Zero.
Number of times my name’s been in the news: Zero.
Number of scars on my body: Two.
Number of things in my past that I regret: One.