Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"A continual state of inelegance" & annoyance...

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance. ~Jane Austen

Elegant cannot be said to accurately describe me at the best of times, dreadful hot weather tends to make me bad tempered and ultra-inelegant to boot. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Without it I'd have had to return to Blighty, for sure.

I notice that transiting Mars and transiting Saturn have both been making trine aspects from Gemini and Libra to my natal Sun in Aquarius during the past week or so. Mars, in this case, meaning ANNoyance and challenge, Saturn = putting the brake on plans, and need for persistence. (Caps seem appropriate because that's my name!)

ANNoyance #1

Oklahoma is no stranger to extremes where weather (and conservatism) are concerned. The heat this year, though, seems more continually excessive than during the previous 6 summers I've spent here. We had triple digit temperatures (around 40C for those across t'pond) for several continuous periods during June, and into July, no rain to speak of for at least 6 weeks, perhaps longer. Our county is dealing with extreme drought conditions. There have been only two days since November 2010 when rainfall amounted to more than half an inch. Having (fingers crossed) traversed the 2011 tornado season unscathed we now find wildfires to be a continual threat, and one about which we cannot afford to be blasé.

We'd been tentatively planning to get away from Oklahoma from next weekend, heading north and west - Wyoming in fact: higher ground with somewhat lower temperatures, just for a couple of weeks. But, all things considered, especially the fact that our house backs on to a pasture and woodland where any spark might set off a blaze that could engulf our home rapidly, we've decided to wait until a substantial downpour comes along to slake down the extreme dryness. before starting out. Who knows when that might happen? Not that we could do much about a wildfire if one started, but we'd have a chance to quickly pack valuables, documents, photographs etc. in the car trunk before moving out of danger, and be on hand to sort out the resulting mess - if any.

Katharine Whitehorn (superb 20th century British journalist) once wrote: of the weather:
People get a bad impression of it by continually trying to treat it as if it was a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you don't try to predict what.

ANNoyance #2
TRACFONE customer service! We've used a Tracfone prepaid cellphone for some 5 years without much hindrance. We hardly ever use the thing - it's an "emergency only" acquisition. We don't even use our landline much except for receiving calls from my husband's offspring, and the odd reminder about a dentist appointment. Our old cellphone model is defunct, wasn't holding a charge for long, so I decided to replace it with a refurbished newer type from Tracfone online - doing my bit for the environment - or so I thought.

In trying to get the replacement charged and activated via phone calls to Tracfone I've spent periods of one and a half, and two and a half hours on the phone (landline 800 number).

It takes around 30 minutes to get to speak to a human being to start with, then it's not always easy to understand the accent of the human being one hears. Call centers are located in Central and South America I think - and maybe in parts of Asia too. First time around was a frustrating disaster. I tried to make a nice, patient-sounding guy understand that the refurbished phone wasn't holding a charge and wouldn't switch on properly. Having been told this several times he still insisted on going ahead transferring our phone number and remaining units/minutes from our old phone to the second phone.....thus leaving me with two useless phones. DUH!!! I eventually made him understand I'd need to go out to buy a Tracfone from Wal-Mart, so that the stuff from my old phone could be transferred. He gave me an "interaction number" for use as and when, and said a fond "goodbye ma'am".

Two days later, with a new Tracfone from Wal-Mart charged up, I attempted to reach a human being at customer service again. First three tries brought forth the news that due to current volume of calls they couldn't take mine. Fourth try, several hours later, put me in a 30-minute waiting line of callers. This time I eventually got a female human, with accent easy to understand, she seemed to understand me too, was patient and helpful. But the action of inputting yards and yards and yards of code into the new phone still took well over an hour and a half, followed by more waiting to speak to yet another rep, in the returns department, to get a ticket number and address to which to return the faulty re-furbished phone for a refund.

And.... the new phone is still not active - it takes 2 business days to get the phone number transferred to a new network (or something).

ANNoyance #3

I bought a 4-DVD set of a TV series called Firefly from an ebay seller. Brand new, in wrapper. When we tried to watch at the weekend we found that apart from half of the first episode the rest of the recording was faulty - pixelating all the time, two of the four DVDs wouldn't even start. So they must now be returned.....

Thanks Mars and Saturn.....now b..... off please, and make your trines elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Thank you T. for "suspecting that your rotten call centers are somewhere in Latin America"!

They are in the US, populated by illegal immigrants, probably. That's where you get the latino accents from...

More constructively, to protect your house from a hopefully-never-happening wildfire: Clear IMMEDIATELY all underwood. Hire a guy with a potent tractor to clear a circle (or similar, depending on the terrain) of at least 6 yards of ground, simply crushing the vegetation there and then cleaning up, rapidly. GP

Anonymous said...

GP: Forgot to say that depending on local regulations etc. you may risk to have to pay a fine for clearing your surroundings against fire. But that may be the one fine in your life your'e happy to pay.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~~ Well, GP, I read that TracFone Wireless is a 98%-owned subsidiary of América Móvil, Latin America's largest provider of wireless telecommunications, so it's not unlikely that some of their centers are there, though I think some might be in India and Phillipines too.

The operatives have a difficult job, I know, and are probably not well paid. They do their best, and I allowed for that....it's Tracfone's fault, not theirs.

Thanks for the advice, but the pasture and woodland behind our house isn't our property so we have no right to interfere there.
Our own back yard is as clear as possible.

I wasn't denigrating the operatives who, as I emphasised were unfailingly polite and tried to help - but it seems that some have to read from scripts provided to them, and beyond that, if anything outside the usual format occurs, they cannot understand the caller.

Twilight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kaleymorris said...

I was worried about how this heat was affecting you. Please don't run back to Blighty (had to look that up).

Wisewebwoman said...

I feel guilty about our 21s which is one of the reasons I moved here. the heat makes me crazy and stops the bloodflow to my brain so I can't think sequentially. Poor you. Oh I do hope you get to higher ground and that your house is safe.

Twilight said...

kaleymorris ~~ I've never been "a summer person", even back in the UK. OK summers are becoming increasingly hard to take though.

Can think of a dozen reasons why I should go back, but one huge reason why I shouldn't! ;-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thank you kindly. This too shall pass - I guess. I'll enjoy Fall even more this year.

kaleymorris said...

Perhaps you and he should consider a summer cottage in the mountains.

Twilight said...

kaleymorris ~~ I investigated such a plan a couple of months ago - re some vacation rentals in Colorado, and some in the UK. Can't recall why we decided against - possibly that same amount of $$$$$ would buy us multiple roadtrips, which seemed a better bet (at the time).
Next year.....

R J Adams said...

Ah, Twilight, you have a very large basinful of my sympathy. The only advice I can give is to move to the U.P. of Michigan. We've been having a heatwave, too. Temps in the upper seventies, but always accompanied by a blissful, cooling, breeze wafting in through open windows, gently disturbing net curtains and allowing the genteel buzz of the occasional honey bee to titillate our ears as we casually sip our margaritas out on the deck while perusing the antics of the goldfinches squabbling around the bird feeder. And, no tornadoes!

Tracfone is another pet hate of mine. I've just ordered a new phone from them for my wife, and will need to transfer minutes and numbers when it arrives (they advertize 3 day shipping, but fail to inform it will take a week for them to dispatch the darn thing!). I'm dreading it! Especially, as we have no cellphone here at the house so I'll probably have to drive two miles down the road, call them on one cellphone while attempting to program the other. Given the length of time they take to answer, there may well be no minutes left to transfer by the time I get through.

On a serious note, I remember vividly the vile heat and humidity of central Illinois with its ever-present threat of dangerous weather and potential wildfires. I do hope you make it safely through the summer. I fear each year may be worse than the last. Meanwhile the politicians continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the all too obvious effects of climate change.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Ooooh - lucky you! 70s sound delicious - quite chilly in fact. ;-) I'm glad you've found a comfortable place at last.

Tracfone is fine as long as nothing untoward happens - changing phones/saving numbers/minutes. Once one has to enlist the help of the "support techs" one needs oodles of patience and a barrow-load of persistence. I had yet another session yesterday. Our phone was still not active after 3 business days of waiting (since last Friday), so I had to dive in once more - 30 mins wait for a tech, then difficulty getting her to access my records to see the history of my plight. Eventually got the thing working; then another 20 mins waiting to get another rep to take the tracking number for the faulty returned phone - and she couldn't understand why I was calling - after a previous rep had insisted that a tracking number was essential for me to get a refund.

I had to pay postage back, and I understand they will deduct their postage to me(free at the time of purchase) before refund. Which will leave me next to nothing as refund......but it's the principle of the thing, I keep reassuring myself!

Another pre-paid company will be getting our business next time!