Great, now I can't sleep

Okay, my earlier post? The one that claimed I would be feeling better, and posting more?

Well, that was a load of happy horsesh… um, you know.

I apologize for not posting here since my job actually started. My energy is very low as this job is extremely stressful. I have three categories of customers:

Normals: these are the ones with the 30-day getting started contracts. They are not necessarily smarter nor better prepared than my other customers: they simply have not had their computers long enough to do any damage to them. Some normals are tricky, though. One guy, who sounded nice enough, wanted to “fix AOL”. Without reinstalling. Folks, AOL has released three different versions of AOL 9.0! They don't know how to fix it either! I was on the phone for two hours before I pounded that through his skull!

Okay, so maybe they are stressful, too.

Muggers: using threats and abuse, they try to get what I can not give them: free support and/or miracles. A decided minority, but more upsetting when they do show up.

Leapers: they have term papers, theses, and business reports they need to recover now, exactly in the form they were in before they messed up their M$ Office installation. Suicide is a definite undertone in these conversations; police negotiators should train with DOC to learn just how desperate the people standing on those building ledges are. Fortunately, I have an ace up my sleeve that many others do not: I know about OpenOffice.org, the free software M$ Office-compatible software suite. It works, it is easy, and installing it won't mess up their current Office installations any more or less than they were before.

Ten hour days are very exhausting. Gene, our trainer, advised us to keep our favorite analgesic pain relievers in our desk drawers; he was, of course, absolutely right.

I have slowly begun to beat myself into a proper tool for this job. I am too easily affected by other people's emotions and that is a critical failing in this job. Almost by definition, most of our customers are simply irrational.

I have been getting a lot of fan mail, though: I am a hit with some people. I had one woman at Boeing with a problem we were basically powerless to solve, but I managed to cheer her up by asking about the 787 versus the A380, comparing the latter to the Concorde: an impressive money hole. Government in civilian aviation: really, did the R101 teach us nothing??

Honestly, though, my calls are down and my refund rate is too high. I fear I will not make it at this rate. Which is a bit overblown: I am learning a lot about Windows (aside from learning that I will never, ever run Windows on my computer ever in my life). But it is obvious I need to learn faster, and more.

One spot of good news: my new schedule is nine AM to eight. Yay! No more rush hour traffic!

I also need an apartment, and have a few phone numbers to call. I also drove around looking at places listed in one of those free apartment guides (gaining familiarity with the local neighborhoods). Other than that, I have not moved forward on this, and I need to. I am just so drained that I am incapable of writing, or coding, or doing anything other than surfing the net (which is just watching TV, 21st century-style). I sit in front of a computer all day, but web surfing is out: I am jumping almost every minute of the day.

So what have I learned?

Some good news on cystic fibrosis.

Reading this article gave me instant flashbacks, “Yeah, that is why I moved, too!” In Michigan, the lawmakers fund huge tax breaks for old industries that repay them by going out of business or moving out of state. They pay for these with high taxes; exactly like Europe, they cosy up to cartels, then tax the hell out of the little guy starting a business in his garage.

Socialism is for the people? Which ones?

In the New York Times, meanwhile, we discover that “the supply siders” are trying to paint the growth of America's economy as overly stellar: after all, revenues have not reached 2000 levels (they do not specify real dollars or not). Interesting, though, that they are so close with such a radically lowered tax base. The rest of the article is not worth the foolscap it is printed on, of course, for they cite no names for “revenues did not match expectations.” It is all spin.

[H]ow many big al Qaeda secret plans has the New York Times revealed?… A [British reporter] went undercover at some mosque at Brighton, in England, and came out with all kinds of material. How come nobody at the New York Times seems to be interested in devoting any editorial energy to exposing what the enemy's up to? That's an important question. —Mark Steyn

In other news, Ann Althouse is still cool. My favorite comment: “I would use a stronger example. Creationism is relatively benign. Why not allow Neo-nazi's to diverge from Western Civ to teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Or Ex-Keagles diverge from a biology or genetics class to teach race theory?” In the world of slippery slopes (a code word for “stop thinking here”), how shall we oppose teaching creationism in biology (as opposed to social or religious studies) unless we oppose Barrett teaching that CIA controlled demolitions destroyed the Towers?

The U-W is reconsidering their hiring policies since getting tarred-by-association with Barrett:

If my arguments that the “Islamic terrorist threat” is fabricated, that “al-Qaida” is really al-CIA-duh, that the “Bin Laden confession video” is ludicrously phony, and so on, were viewed as crazy, I would hardly have been chosen to teach the introductory courses on Islam at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College of Madison next fall.

Wait for it.

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