Archive for June, 2005


Monday, June 27th, 2005

I recently had occasion to call an airline to make some adjustments to some travel plans. The airline will remain nameless for now, but it’s probably not one any of this blog’s readers will ever have to deal with, so have no fear.
First time I called, I listened to the most annoying and wildly inaccurate advertising jingle I’ve ever heard for 15 minutes or so. Then, the line went completely silent. Eventually, I figured out I’d been disconnected.
I called back. I stayed on hold a few minutes, then had to leave to go do something else. I tried choosing a different option from the electronic menu, thinking I’d called the wrong number, but there was only an answering machine. Figuring no one would ever respond to a message, I decided to try for a person.
The next time I called, I was on hold for 20 minutes. Finally someone answered, and after I’d explained my question, the person hung up on me without another word. Annoyed, I called the answering machine number and left a message. No one has ever responded to it.
The next time I called, I was on hold for only 5 minutes and someone came on and answered my question for me. However, the answer was quite confusing, since I asked it in two different ways which would have opposite meanings, and she said “yes” to both of them. Giving up, I decided to try back again and ask someone else. In the meantime, I sent an email with my question to an email address from the web site. No one has ever answered my email.
I gave it a couple days, and decided to try to call one of the offices directly instead of the 800 number. I got a person, who interrupted my narrative and told me to call the 800 number. I did, was on hold for 15 minutes. Somebody finally answered, and as I started to explain my question, she hung up on me in mid-sentence.
I called the office direct again, and punched in an extension that I knew to be the wrong one. I explained the hanging-up problem, and the kindly person there gave me the extension of the ticketing supervisor. I called the 800 number again, used the extension, and got the ticketing supervisor, who answered my question. I think. We’ll see, when I hear about what they did from my credit card company.

an episode from my life

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Today, Andy drove to the carpool meeting spot and left the car there for me to pick up to drive to work. On the walk to the car, from under the guard rail at the side of the road, a green ballon popped out at me. Not knowing quite what to do about it, I gave it a little kick and it bounced up into my hands. I carried it the rest of the way to the car, put it in the back seat, and headed off to work.
After I’d driven a ways down the highway, in the rear-view mirror I saw the balloon suddenly pop into view. It then hit me in the back of the head, and flew out the passenger-side window. I couldn’t see where it went after that.
Kind of curious.

rationality and human behavior: a hodgepodge

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

It’s difficult, sometimes, to understand what makes people tick. By all comprehensible models of reasonable human behavior, people should seek out what is good for them and makes them happy. But they rarely do, in fact, they often seem to put all their efforts into seeking out and perpetuating situations that are bad for them and make them unhappy.
Cases in point: people in unhappy relationships, people who hate their jobs, people who hate where they live–what percentage of people do we know who don’t fit into one of the above categories, and how many people genuinely lack the power to get themselves out of these situations. Very few. Of course, some people really can’t afford to move or quit their jobs, but the vast majority of us could find a way if we put as much effort into finding a way instead of finding reasons not to.
It seems that if we all behaved “rationally,” we would all fit into one of two categories: those who modified our behavior to achieve maximum health and wealth, in which case we’d all be marathon-running corporate lawyers; or to achieve maximum pleasure, in which case we’d all be drug-abusing hedonists who die at the age of 25. Unless we were a rare poetic soul oblivious to surroundings as long as our minds are immersed in Art, but that describes very few of us. The majority of us fall somewhere between the two extremes, but why do we?


Statistically Improbable Phrases

Friday, June 10th, 2005

From my apartment:
hemicrania lunatica
brute fact/institutional fact
millions of tiny slippery plates
suspicious you are
the grains red of Hapi
tan with henna hackles
single seat long range escort
call for walnuts
bovid domestic trinity
babe’s best gum stick
and their sources: