Sunday, December 26, 2010

Calling myself out.

I never considered myself an angry person. I don't hit my wife, or anyone else. I don't beat my dog. I really can't think of anyone off the top of my head that I feel has woefully, personally wronged me. I don't blame others when I have money issues. I don't blame others when I have health issues. I really don't have "an axe to grind", as someone recently put it.

If I were to assign one main emotional attribute to myself, it wouldn't be angry. It would be depressed.

Then there is this incredible curse of foresight that I have. It's not even what I would call foresight, because many times, I still don't see things coming. It's more that I only actually comprehend the worst possible outcome for a given situation. And I OBSESS over it.

Case in point, that last paragraph. Instantly, upon writing it, the thought went through my head that, "I bet most people won't actually understand that. They'll just read into it whatever it is they think it means, and totally get it wrong." This has evolved into a blanket feeling that most people have no idea what's going on around them. Which has led to an assumption that pretty much everyone that I didn't respect before this started happening was a complete idiot as soon as they did anything that I didn't immediately agree with.

After all, how else can you see people when you think that no one understands, and everyone will eventually do the worst thing possible? It's kind of logical, in a deeply disturbed way.

Between those two character traits (flaws?), I've become someone that I really don't care for. I've become someone that doesn't really understand the concept of "different". I thought I did. I think "People are stupid for being racist, because they're just different," and "People are stupid for hating those of other religions, they're just different."

But I've realized that I'm doing the exact same thing. Which means I've been stupid. Very stupid. And I've wasted a lot of time obsessing over how stupid other people are, or were being.

I've said things that were better left unsaid, because I thought that they needed to hear them. And I've said them at completely the wrong times. And I've taken gratification in them being upset about what I've said because, hey, must've struck a cord, right? That means I'm "helping". Yeah, right.

Another thing that I've done a lot of is attacking religious people, or their religions. I post anti-Christian things on my Facebook page to get a rise out of the religious people. I think, maybe I can make them see sense. Maybe I can make them realize that what they believe in makes no sense.

In doing so, I have attacked people that are just seeing the good in things, be it their religion of choice, or the world around them. These attacks were completely unwarranted, unreasonable, and, if I'm honest, idiotic on my part.

I never think that maybe they're just different, and see things differently than I do. Maybe what they believe in just doesn't make sense to me. I'm the depressed one. I'm the one that obsesses over other peoples' perceived stupidity. Why in the world am I trying to change the way they see things? Because misery loves company, I guess?

I do that with other things, too. When people tell me how bad it is, I tell them how much worse it REALLY is. When people get excited about something, I quickly inform them of the reality of the situation. I make sure they realize it's not as good as they think. If they mention that they have a goal, I show them how it's not attainable. If someone tells me their dreams, I tell them just how hard it's going to be to reach them.

When someone tells me that they made a mistake, I ask them how they didn't see that coming. Yet I'm the guy who managed to get a $30k car, a $20k car, and a $125k house on $60k a year working at Domino's, then lost everything and now has horrible credit. I didn't see that coming?

When my wife gets overly excited about something, I get irritated. Why? I don't know, but if I analyze it, I just assume that there must be something depressing that she's not fully comprehending.

I mean, really? That's not the right way to think at ALL.

I need to change. I need to fix this. I don't want to be this person. I don't want communication with me to fill people with dread. I don't want my thoughts of other people to be completely and totally dominated with how dumb I think they are. It's not healthy for either me, or anyone else.

I'm trying to call myself out here. I figure, if I post it in a blog post for the world to see, maybe I won't feel so comfortable doing these things. I'll remember that I told people that I would change. I'll remember what it was that I wanted to change.

There are a few people that I feel the need to apologize to.

Doug - You've caught the brunt of some pretty stupid rants, and you've never called me out on it (well, rarely). Maybe you should've, maybe I would've seen what I was doing a bit faster. But you didn't because you're an incredible friend. You have never deserved the negativity that I project upon you, but you've never lashed back. I couldn't have a better friend.

Any Christian folk that read my Facebook updates - Why haven't you blocked me yet? I would've blocked me. I shouldn't have asked you to call me friend, then posted what you could only see as attacks. If I had changed you, I might well have been destroying some of the better people in the world.

Jacob - It took someone like you, who had somehow made it past that brick-wall-of-thinking-everyone-is-stupid, going off on me like you did, to make me start really analyzing myself. You got the ball rolling. Hopefully I can get it fixed now. I just hope you can still consider me a friend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Verizon Wireless seems to have no control over their own billing system...

Another blog entry about Verizon. This is not a happy one.

A while back, two of our four lines got a text message that basically informed them that they were enrolled in some monthly something or other. Something that we did not sign up for, or opt in to. We replied to the message with "stop", as was instructed by the text, on both phones. In fact, the message even stipulated that if we replied with "stop", we wouldn't be charged at all. I wasn't very optimistic about that.

Both lines got charged $9.99 on the next Verizon Wireless bill. The charge was labeled simply "Premium Messaging".

Upon calling Verizon, I was informed that the company that was charging from was named Vial and that we were still "signed up" for whatever it was. He gave me the numbers to text to get them to stop charging us. He claimed he could not stop them from charging us through Verizon's billing system, which is absolutely insane. He even tried to not credit us for what had already been charged. I had to ask for a supervisor, which magically gave him the ability to give us that credit "as a one time courtesy".

How asinine. It's a courtesy for them to not charge us for something we don't want and didn't sign up for?

The customer service rep claimed that they could put a block on our account that would prevent us from using our phone to sign up for new "premium messaging" services, but that anything signed up for online would still go through. That's right, even with it being explicitly stated that I did NOT want ANY other charges on the account...Verizon would still happily accept additional charges to the account.

The supervisor that I spoke with later denied that, and said that it if the block was instated, new services could not go through. Honestly, though, the supervisor was rather belligerent, and I very much got the feeling that he didn't know what he was talking about. Considering he was saying something completely opposite of what his rep had already said, one of them obviously was either lying or ignorant. Considering Verizon already accepted the charge from a third party without having any proof that we had signed up for it in the first place, I'm pretty sure they'll accept it again. After all, their viewpoint was that they had already been charged by the third party company, so now we had to pay them.

When I asked to speak to a supervisor again, he kept saying that I had to send the "stop" message (again) or he couldn't help me, regardless of the fact that I told him that we'd already done that. In fact, pretty sure he could look up for himself that we had texted that exact same number AFTER we were supposedly signed up. When I told the supervisor that I didn't even have access to one of the phones, he told me that he was going to notate my account that I wasn't letting him help me. That's right...the Verizon supervisor basically threatened the freaking customer! A ridiculous threat, of course, but really? How unreasonable of me to not have all four cell phones on my person at all times, right?

I asked for his supervisor, and was informed that there was no such thing. He was as high as it got "on the floor". I've worked in a call center. I know damn good and well what that means. He didn't want to transfer me, or give me an extension or voice mail, because that's how he's graded.

Now, the resolution, according to the supervisor, since we sent the "stop" text, if they charged us again, they would remove the charge. Somehow I doubt it will be so simple.

All I want is for Verizon to, you know, not charge me for things that I don't sign up for. Apparently, this is out of the realm of their control. Their own billing system, that is.

Which means it's up to me, the customer, to make sure that anything anyone ever puts my phone number in to is attached to a company with a phone number that I can then call and cancel with. Huh? How the hell can I control who puts my number in what?

Sure, I can control who I give my number to, but most of the time, it's not exactly malicious thinking that starts these things. Even the initial rep was quick to admit that anyone can put in anyone's phone number without reading the fine print (or maybe they did, why should they care, they're not paying) and sign them up for a monthly charge. He related a story where his friend signed him up for a joke a day service, giving him a monthly charge.

Of course, the supervisor was very quick to say that this couldn't happen. Multiple times he said we had to have "opted in" to the service in order to be charged. Right.

So, if you know someone that you don't like, who has a Verizon phone, start signing them up for everything that might charge them! Why not? Verizon will charge them anyway, and they can't even unsubscribe unless they can figure out how to get in touch with the company that you signed them up for, AND that company actually unsubscribes them. Which, really, why would they? They probably know that Verizon will just keep on charging.

Imagine this happening in any other industry. A credit card company adding a charge to your account because an insurer assumed you would want insurance. How about a car loan? Why not add life insurance to your car loan a few years in because the sales guy figured you would probably want it? No one need bother the customer, except when it comes time to pay, of course.

If this charge reappears, I plan to appeal to every channel that I can. The BBB, the FCC, the FTC, as well as The Consumerist and any other place that I can complain. I have nothing but time on my hands, and this is absolutely insane.

Verizon needs a way to stop any third parties from adding anything to my bill. Period. It's their billing system, they expect me to pay them, so it's their problem. I understand if people want things added to their phone bill for convenience sake, but expecting me to pay for something that someone else signed me up for is ridiculous, especially if I have already specified that I DO NOT WANT additional charges on my account.

Edit: If you're curious, the company that decided to use Verizon to force me to pay them some money is called "My Mobile Love". The code is 34095. I looked it up on

Friday, May 7, 2010

How To Downgrade From VZ Navigator 5 back to 4.5 As Sent In An Email From VZ Navigator's Project Manager

Wow! Kudos to Verizon for actually being on the ball and paying attention!

Today I got an email from Misty Balinsat, Product Manager for VZ Navigator. Seems she saw my review, and wanted to pass on some words of encouragement, as well as instructions on how to downgrade back to 4.5 until they resolve some of the issues. First, the instructions for downgrading from VZ Navigator 5.x to 4.5:

To be safe, if you have a bunch of favorites, it's probably a good idea to use VZ Navigator's "Sync-to-Web" option.

Uninstall VZ Navigator 5:

Open Media Center > Browse & Download

Highlight VZ Navigator & select Options > Cancel Subscription. Confirm removal.

Install VZ Navigator 4.5:

Open Media Center > Browse and Download > Get new apps > Travel & Navigation

VZ Navigator will be listed twice. Select version 4.5 & choose a purchase option ($2.99/24 hr use or $9.99/monthly subscription). Confirm purchase.

These directions might be just for the LG enV3, or enV series, but the basic idea is that you have to completely cancel and uninstall 5 before you even see 4.5 as an option.

Personally, I'm back using VZ Navigator 4.5, and it's just as simple and effective as I remembered.

FYI, also according to Misty: "You also will see a $9.99 charge and then $9.99 credit on your bill, don't let it freak you out if the credit comes 4-5 days post charge. I have Revenue Assurance running these manually once a week, and hopefully the charge and credit will both happen in one bill cycle for you, but if not be sure to look for the credit in the next one."

However, I've had situations in the past where things got double charged (new phones), and a simple call to customer service fixed it no problem.

Thanks, Verizon, for going above and beyond and actually hunting down negative feedback to address.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A VZ Navigator 5 Review

I use Verizon Wireless, and I have for some time. Around 5 years, I believe. My first experience with any sort of GPS unit was with Verizon's VZ Navigator, mainly because I'm eternally poor for some reason and decent GPS units are just now starting to creep in under the $100 mark. That being said, I've always liked VZ Navigator. I have all my favorites in my pocket regardless of what car I'm driving that day. That's a convenient thing for someone with no sense of direction.

Then came VZ Navigator 5.0. I honestly couldn't tell you if the first version of VZ Nav I used was the 1.0. Probably not. However, I can tell you that this is the first one that is complete and total trash. I'm serious. I've used it off and on for a few weeks now, just to be sure it's not just me, and it is complete and total chihuahua vomit.

It takes forever to figure out where I am. I doesn't have all the points of interest that 4.0 did. It did a horrid job bringing my favorites with it, somehow reverting my home address to the one that I used 2 years ago, and mostly not bring them at all. Once it does figure out where I am, it changes its mind once I ask it to navigate somewhere. It somehow thought I was going east on one road when I was going north on another. It actually runs slowly on my phone, which is an EnV3, hardly an old phone. It defaults to this terrible caricature of 3D. I still haven't figured out how to save a new favorite.

When trying to find a restaurant a few days ago, it claimed we were on the feeder and should get on the highway (while we were on the highway), then recalculated route and said we should be, and I'm not kidding here, basically flying sideways to get to the feeder road on the other side of the highway. There was no overpass...never has been. This is a route that VZ Navigator 4 had no problems with. It's really shocking how bad this thing is.

They even added in advertisements! It's a freaking paid feature, and they're posting ads on it! Amazing.

It's inconceivable that Verizon thinks that this program was ready for release. I'm talking, alpha stages of something that should've never been released, bad. If you use VZ Navigator, and you're still on 4.0, don't upgrade. There is absolutely no advantage. A quick look at Verizon's forums shows that I'm not the only one that has no use for it.

On the flip side, if you use VZ Navigator to find food of any kind, it could be considered a weight loss tool! By the time you figure out how to get there, you'll be so pissed off that the last thing you want to do is eat.

If you have already upgraded, you may as well cancel and buy yourself a cheap GPS unit. That's what I'll be doing, even though I can't really afford it.

Edit: Verizon responds! Read here for instructions on downgrading to VZ Navigator 4.5.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Of love and bestiality...

There are some things that we humans just take as fact, without really considering the why and how. Okay, there are a LOT of things like that, but I'm mainly thinking about things in our heads. These things aren't readily definable, and aren't necessarily based on logic or reason. In most cases, we can guess as to a why, but very rarely the what. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

  • Bestiality
  • Pedophilia
  • Scat (poop fetish, not singing really fast nonsense)
  • Killing another human
  • Stealing
Most normal, healthy humans have an aversion to all of these things. But what causes that aversion? A really good guess to the "why" would be evolution. Obviously we wouldn't have had as many babies by screwing horses, nor would we have had long blood lines by screwing babies. Scat and killing each other obviously shortens lifespan, and stealing hinders progress and cohesion as a society.

But treating this theory of why as an explanation is folly since it doesn't address the what. We accept this answer because we're used to other, similar answers where, when the why is identified, the what just falls into place.

Take, for example, a "Bridge Out" sign. Why is the sign there? Obviously because the bridge is out. We neglect to mention that the sign is actually there because someone went and put it there. In this case, it doesn't matter because that much is obvious...but not everything works like that.

The action is not always readily explained by the reaction.

So there must be something, some part of the human mind, that makes these things unacceptable. Or something. But it goes further. What about these "facts of life":

  • Love
  • Attraction
  • Luck
There's not even much of a why to explain these. Sure, love and attraction could be explained as evolutionary traits as well, but they would make just as much sense being absent. Without love and attraction, we'd be a lot more likely to go around screwing everybody, which would lead to more babies, more diverse DNA...all good things from an evolutionary standpoint.

Luck...I got nothing on that one.