Nothing But Net

Classic!

And the great sequel a couple decades later..

Loved these commercials.

A Lesson In Customer Service

Three and a half years ago, Monica and I purchased Katie Lynn’s crib set from Babies R Us. We thought we were being smart by purchasing the crib that would grow with her.. from a crib to a toddler bed to a full size bed. We special ordered the full mattress rails and conversion kit at that time.

Flash forward to about three weeks ago. We bought new mattresses for everyone in the house: a new queen set for Monica and me, a full set for Katie Lynn, and a twin set for Karyn’s upcoming transition this summer. The mattresses were being delivered on a late Saturday afternoon, so Monica and I begin to covert Katie Lynn’s toddler bed into the full size configuration. And of course, there’s a problem. The rails don’t seem to look like the ones in the instructions, and there aren’t enough screws to actually assemble the rails to the headboard and footboard.

Great.. now what? At that point, we believed the situation was one of two possibilities:

  1. We received the wrong rail conversion kit.
  2. We received the right set but some of the parts were missing.

I decided to call the store where we originally purchased the rails to see what, if anything, they could do. In the end, they offered to special order another set of rails for us and they would simply swap them out.

That’s incredible given the fact that we had purchased the rails 3.5 years earlier. There was absolutely no hesitation on their side. Even more surprising was that they still had our order in their system, so they knew exactly what we ordered and what stock/part number they needed to special order.

In the end, we did actually receive the correct rails but there were some screws missing. Once we got the new set the bed assembled like a charm.

It’s refreshing that a company would do this for a customer. To the team at the Plano, TX Babies R Us — thank you. Customer service done right.

My Testimony

With Easter being Sunday, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately and just wanted to write down how He’s been active in my life in the past few years.

Flashback to summer 2005.. our oldest niece was born. Monica and I got bit hard by the baby bug, but it unfortunately didn’t happen for us. We went to a specialist culminating in the need to do an IUI. Odds weren’t in our favor as the specialist informed us the success rate for the first IUI was only 18%. Faith played a huge role, and He saw us through it. We were blessed with a pregnancy after the first IUI in March 2007.

We were ecstatic to learn that Monica was actually pregnant with twins, but we were saddened a week later to discover one of the twins’ heartbeats had stopped. We were naturally heartbroken, but we also knew that the other baby was okay.

The rest of Monica’s pregnancy was rather non-eventful: everything normal at ultrasounds, etc. That is.. until Monica’s water breaks a month early. After a 44 hour labor, Katie Lynn finally graces us with her presence! She was taken to the nursery for observation and ended up in the NICU. Long story short (long version here), she had three surgeries within her first 60 days of life and saw a pediatric gastroenterlogist for her first 8 months of life. Many times during those 8 months we felt “why us” and “why her”. But we knew He would see us through it, and for whatever His reasons, He decided that we were the parents Katie Lynn needed to see her through it all. He had chosen us, and it’s all about faith in Him for guidance and support.

In the middle of Katie Lynn’s surgeries, Monica has her gall bladder removed and after a single day of recovery, she’s up and about doing everything she can for Katie Lynn.

Flash forward to Fall/Winter 2009. Monica and I started talking about when we’d want a second child and whatnot. The Monday before Christmas, Monica and Katie Lynn bring “an early Christmas present” into my office and tell me to open it. And what’s inside? A positive pregnancy test. We were both so surprised we had conceived naturally given our past concerning Katie Lynn’s pregnancy. Karyn was born in August 2009 after another uneventful pregnancy — a perfect delivery and post-partem. We were released two days later. He had provided for us once again.

At that same time as the end of Monica’s pregnancy and Karyn’s birth, my Mom is diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer. She had surgery to remove her bladder one week before Karyn was born. It was a successful surgery that resulted in the removal of all the cancer, and once again faith got her and my family through it. Then on the day after Karyn was born, my mom was being released from the hospital when she has a massive heart attack. Luckily, the heart hospital was connected to the hospital she was already at and she was rushed in for surgery again. If circumstances had been different, i.e. she was already back at home, I’m not sure she would have made it. Blessings in disguise, and the constant is the Lord. He knew her work was not done on this earth.

In May 2010, one Thursday night I had the single most intense painful physical feeling I’ve ever experienced. The next night, the same exact pain happened again in exactly the same location. After an ER visit and some visits to a urologist, a preliminary diagnosis was made: testicular cancer. After talking with Monica, we made the decision to proceed with having the affected testicle removed. After the surgery, pathology determined it was not cancer but instead vasculitis. I was referred to a rheumatologist for further treatment. After multiple tests and whatnot, my rheumatologist determined that it was a rare occurrence of isolated vasculitis — all tests and indicators show that it’s no longer present.

In November 2010, my brother-in-law Ryan, at the urging of his coworkers, took part in a free health screening. Why not? It was free and not a bad idea to have done! Good thing he did – test results were concerning and he was ultimately diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. He had surgery the week of Thanksgiving to microscopically remove what ended up being a softball sized tumor. He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and slated to be completed in a couple months.

So, yeah.. it’s been a very trying time for me and my family over the past four years. But faith is extremely powerful! After all of this, where do things stand?

  • Katie Lynn is a healthy 3.5 year old. The only remaining “signs” of her ordeal are her scars and her petite frame. But hey, there’s much worse things to be! 🙂
  • Monica’s doing just fine without her gall bladder. 😉
  • Karyn is a healthy albeit ornery almost 20 month old!
  • My mom is going on 20 months of being cancer free. It’s not always easy, but she’s doing amazingly and getting stronger as each day goes by.
  • I’m doing great. Each follow up appointment with the rheumatologist gets spaced out further and further apart from the last one.
  • Ryan is still having his chemo treatments, but at this point is cancer free with a very positive prognosis.

The Lord is SO present in my life, and His impact on me is immeasurable.

I’m going to close this post with the lyrics to two of my favorite praise songs – To The Glory and The Way You Love Me both by Danny Lacey:

I will live my life
Walking in your way
A little more like you
Each and every day
Learning how to trust
I trust you’ll make me change
So That I can live
To the glory of your name

Jesus I want to walk like you
Jesus I want to talk like you
Jesus I want to look like you
To the glory of your name

Glory and honor wisdom and power
Are yours forever amen
Glory and honor wisdom and power
Are yours forever amen
Amen

You say your love for me is higher than the heavens
Deeper than the oceans and the sea
And I could never comprehend the depth your love reaches
But I know it reaches the deepest part in me
And praises rise from the depths of my soul
And I say

Thank you for the way that you love me
Thank you for this life that you gave me
Thank you for the way that you set me free
Thank you for the sacrifice
The way you came and gave your life
The way you made this blind man see
Thank you for the way that you love me

Working in a Virtual World

I work in a virtual office; Site5 has no physical office. The “old” term was telecommuting but has morphed into “working from home” and remote workforces. Virtual offices present many advantages from the company perspective, but what about the employees? In doing this for over 3.5 years, I can say with certainty that working remotely is not for everyone. Why though?

It takes discipline.

Working from home takes a lot (and I mean a lot) of discipline from not just myself but from Monica, Katie Lynn, Karyn as well as my family and friends.

There’s many distractions at home. The trash needs to be taken out. The dishes don’t wash themselves. Someone has to fold the laundry. It’s very easy to let the mind wander throughout the day since the distractions are *right there* staring you in the face. When family members are home during work hours, it is quite easy to be distracted by short conversations here and there or to be interrupted by two daughters that don’t fully understand that daddy’s working. Even though I work from home, I’m still working.. meaning there should be no distinction to other people, but that doesn’t always happen.

Separation of home and work.

This isn’t easy for some people – myself included. The lines are blurred when you work from home. I find myself, quite frequently actually, working after work. After Katie Lynn and Karyn go to bed, if Monica and I are just relaxing on the couch, it’s so easy to just do some work. With some remote jobs, that’s not always possible to do. But since mine has a task/project emphasis, it’s quite easy to *just work* when relaxing. And often times, I’ll find that I get so much done “after hours” to the point where it’s easier to just wait until the night to do things on purpose.

Adult Interaction

Working remotely severely lessons interaction with other adults. During the week, most of the adult interaction I get is with my wife naturally. The only other adult interaction I get regularly are the teachers at my daughter’s school (since I drop them off in the mornings) and other parents of kids there that I know. That’s it. Of course, if we have plans on evening during the week, there’s more.. but that’s not a regular occurrence. There’s no in-person office experience, no water cooler talk, no break room to eat lunch together, etc..  and I really do miss that.

Equipment Responsibilty

Working in a completely virtual office (as opposed to the occasional telecommute setup), I am responsible for having a suitable computer, reliable Internet connection, etc. Granted, some companies may cover some of those costs and some may not, and if not, it’s an added expense if something were to happen to my primary computer. That’s not really an issue though since I’d need a new computer anyways if my primary laptop died. But it’s different from a traditional office setting where a computer breaking is the company’s responsibility to repair/replace.

Conclusions

In my opinion, it takes real commitment to be able to work from home effectively. The distractions can easily overwhelm someone if they’re not completely focused on the work at hand, but there’s obvious benefits from being able to work from home and I love that I’m able to do it.

Farewell Air Raid

Watching the TicketCity Bowl and remembering the reports from last week regarding Tommy Tuberville stating Tech will be running more next year, I got to thinking..

Is that really a bad thing? I don’t necessarily think so.

Like most people, I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense. The 2008 season was phenomenal – one that’ll be remembered. How did that season end? Losses in two of the last three games: a 65-21 shellacking at Oklahoma and a 47-34 loss to Ole Miss at the Cotton Bowl. Still a great season though.

But what else was there?

Seasons full of mediocracy and usually extremely poor defense. In order for Tech to seriously become a competitor, three things are needed:

  1. One trick pony on offense is not sustainable. I don’t think Tech necessarily has to be 50/50 balanced; however, we need to be able to run the ball. Tuberville knows this with his SEC background. Until today’s TicketCity Bowl, Taylor Potts had the longest run from scrimmage. Yes, our quarterback had the longest run from scrimmage.. that’s pathetic.
  2. We need a defense. Ruffin did great things in his all-too-brief tenure, but that’s about it. We’re in the bottom few this year in defense and dead last in pass defense.
  3. The team needs discipline, and Tuberville has done a great job of preaching that this year. Penalties (as a general rule) were out of control under Leach. Also, while it was fun waiting all of the 4th and n to go gambles, there is nothing wrong with kicking a field goal!

I’m still not happy with how things played out with Leach; Kent Hance and Gerald Myers should have been fired for that. Although, I said it before and I’ll say it again – Mike Leach wasn’t the coach to lead this team to the next tier of play.

If you look at the last ten years of BCS bowl games, you’ll see that the bulk of teams had solid defenses and an offense that relied on both passing and running. Sure, there may have been an emphasis on one over the other, but both were a big enough threat for opposing defenses.

The jury is (should be) still open on Tommy Tuberville. I’m anxious to see how the next few years will go.. it’ll definitely be interesting.

New GoDaddy “Service”!

I had good news in my inbox from GoDaddy! They’ve come up with an ingenious “service”!

Dear Tom Sepper,

A new service is available that will impact how you manage your account. This service — a monthly account statement delivered straight to your inbox — will soon serve as your all-in-one account resource. Simply open your email each month and you’ll ensure:

  • You don’t miss the renewal date for any expiring domain or Go Daddy® product you own
  • You keep your credit card up-to-date and not at risk of expiration – don’t be a victim of a failed auto-renewal
  • You take advantage of important security measures that keep your account safe
  • You are not forgetting about a pending order – you won’t lose a domain due to incomplete registration
  • You stay on top of unused credits that could be applied toward a future purchase

There is no cost associated with this service. It is simply a continuation of our commitment to your satisfaction. You
must, however, sign up to begin receiving your account statement. Questions? Call your customer service representative
24/7 at 480-505-8821.

I’m so glad they’re coming up with even more crap to advertise and upsell on their over-cluttered, unfriendly, hard-to-navigate website.

Old Navy: You’ve Lost a Customer

Old Navy, listen up. You need to rethink your return and exchange policies.

Scenario: Katie Lynn received a pair of Old Navy boots for her birthday. Unfortunately, they were too small, so we figured it’d be an easy enough switch at our local Old Navy store even though we didn’t have a receipt or gift receipt. Silly us.. why would it be easy?

Again, let me reiterate – we wanted an even exchange for the SAME EXACT item in the SAME EXACT color.. only a bigger size. But no, we weren’t allowed to do that. Instead, we have to wait 7-10 days for a check from Old Navy to be mailed to our house.

That is asinine. Now, if we had wanted a refund, I would be completely okay with having to wait for a check. I have absolutely no problem with that. But we simply needed a different size, and Old Navy would have been out absolutely nothing.

If Old Navy wishes to get my business again in the future, they better reevaluate their policies to be more consumer friendly or else risk getting placed in the same category as Target.

Today’s Free Grammar Lesson

Okay, this may come as a shock to some of you (likely not), but I’m a huge grammar freak. Adults should be able to remember the basics from elementary school. With that in mind, Mr. Sepper’s class is now in session.

Apostrophes

  • Apostrophes serve two purposes: to show possession and for contractions. Apostrophes do not indicate plurality!

For example: if referring to more than one book, you would write books not book’s. In hosting, when referring to more than one IP addresses, you would write IPs and not IP’s.

there / their / they’re

  • “There” should be used when referring to a place either directly or indirectly.
  • “Their” should be used when possession is involved.
  • “They’re” should be used in place of “they are”.

For example: They’re all over there by the tables with their iPads.

your / you’re

  • “Your” indicates possession.
  • “You’re” is a contraction for “you are”.

Example: You’re holding your iPhone.
NOT: Your holding an iPhone.

too / to / two

  • “Two” obviously is the number 2.
  • “Too” means both “additionally” and “excessively”.
  • “To” is used as an infinitive,  a preposition, or an anaphor.

Examples:
I like OS X too!
Where should I send this laptop to?

I could go on, but I think that’s enough for this rant.

There’s the bell.. class dismissed.

Secure my Domain?

Got this in the mail the other day:

They want me to pay $100 to achieve what domain locking does for free? Idiots.