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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Walgreens and policies

I lost my insurance card a few weeks ago. While in Walgreens it occurred to me that the last place I had it was there so I asked if they had a lost and found for such things. To my surprise they had a stack 3 or 4 inches thick of insurance cards, driver's licenses (several out of state), social security checks and other valuable personal items at the pharmacy.

Unfortunately I didn't find my card in the stack (I've since gotten a replacement). I asked the person behind the pharmacy counter if they planned on returning all these things to their owners, considering all the personal information that is needed to do so is printed right on the face. She told me "no," they just usually keep them around until people come back for them. I pointed at one social security check and commented that someone might appreciate the effort in returning such a thing. She seemed oblivious to the impact that a lost check might have for someone.

I walked away and ran into an assistant store manager. I asked him if they had a policy to return lost items such as the stack in the pharmacy. He also said no, and tried to go on his way. I continued my query, noting that there were checks and out of state licenses there and they ought to try to return them if they can. He backed up his previous assertion and said "we don't really do that," and hurried off.

I e-mailed Walgreen's customer service via a form on their website. That was last week, I've yet to get any response other than the automated "thanks for your comments." Their TV commercials tout that "we don't live in a perfect world, that's why there's Walgreens." In this case it doesn't seem like Walgreens is doing much to make it better.

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E-mail signatures

Having an email signature is a fairly common practice. For business emails, your signature should include your name, title, department/company, and phone number. It should include nothing more.

The graphics and colors draw attention to the wrong part of the email.

The cute quote that describes your life philosophy or something you think is funny gets less cute each time someone reads it.

The funniest thing is when people include a closing comment as part of their email signature. This is typically a "Thanks," or a "Have a great day." What's funny is that doesn't always work as a closing for every email. It works fine if you're really thanking the reciepeint or you really do mean for them to have a good day. But if you send a nastygram, the "thanks" or "Have a great day" somehow comes across a little sarcastic.

For example, this works:

So and so,
Could you get me that report when you a get a chance?

My signature
This does not:

So and so,
You're way out of line. Come see me in my office.

Have a great day!
My Signature

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1984, Ender's Game, and Obama's Audicty of Hope

I've finished listening to several audio books since my last posting on the subject. I completed Orewell's 1984, and enjoyed it very much. The reader did an excellent job giving different characters voices. I was dissappointed in the ending, however (spoiler alert), as I like the "good guys" to win. Having now digested it I have a better understanding when the term "Orwellian" is thrown around.

I also picked up and listened to Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. This was probably the best produced book I've listened to so far. It had basically a cast of readers. I also enjoyed the story immensley. It's a book you can easily enjoy as a child or as an adult. I found on wikipedia it's used in some courses at the Marine Core University at Quantico for it's study on leadership.

In my previous post on audio books I asked if any of my left-leaning friends would read/listen to Ayn Rand's Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. So far no takers. I did pick up Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope (thanks to Sniderman for mentioning it). I figured I should take my own advice and read something from an opposing viewpoint.

I did enjoy listening to the book, especially since it's read by the author. I feel like I have a good sense for who the guy is. I agree with a lot of what he writes about, but I still have some fundamental differences in philosophy. All in all I can see why folks like him. If he were president, I'd support him. That's not to say I'm willing to cast my voite for him, but at this point I'm not ruling him out. That is actually saying a lot considering my past positions and political views.

Does anyone have any other recommeded readings?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Memories of Vapor

Dan's parents requested some written thoughts on their son, so here goes:

I met my friend Dan Feather through my cousins (Kevin and Dan Burtchett). They where all attending SMSU at the time, studying computer science. This of course translated into lots of LAN parties, to which I would lug my computer down from Rolla to participate in.

Quake was the game of choice at the time and Vapor (Dan's handle) was the undisputed champion. Our friendship grew quickly and easily, Dan was just a likable kind of guy. We shared a lot of views and enjoyed many geeky conversations on technology, daily observations, funny and embarrassing things we did, as well as some deeply philosophical discussions.

As fate would have it, Dan and I ended up working at O'Reilly Auto Parts together. There was a whole band of us that became close friends. At one point, Dan, Zac and Katie, my sister, and my cousins Kevin and Dan all lived in the same apartment complex, Sunchase. There was always a party or an outing or some sort of get-together going on. We shared many good laughs growing up into adulthood.

Dan and I had officicles next to each other at work. We called them officicles because they were just cubicles with taller walls and a door. Not quite an office and not quite a cubical. Eventually we acquired offices with real walls, again next to each other. Often we chatted, about work or about life. We collaborated on some projects, Dan usually taking the technical or design lead. He was a natural problem solver.

Kevin, Chris Polka, Dan and I all went to New York City one summer for an extended weekend. The whole trip is a blur. We walked our butts off on that trip taking in as many sites as we could. The World Trade Center was still a hole in the ground.

I remember we wanted to find a "cool" NYC bar to hang out in. Somehow we ended up in a gay bar, not exactly what we had intended. But we were tired and they were serving drinks.

It's the little silly things I remember most. Dan had an affinity for caffeinated products. From super-charged drinks to caffeinated breath mints he tried them all, and always shared.

I remember Dan had a running list on the board in his office: "things you can't breathe." It consisted of things Dan would accidentally choke himself with. I would hear him coughing through the wall, then get the instant message "OK, adding Mountain Dew to the list of things you can't breathe."

Dan liked to go fast, and did so often when he drove us around at lunch. His first new car out of college was a Honda Accord coupe. It was a nice car that came with some bad luck. First he was rear-ended it in and it ended up literally sitting on top of a Corvette. Then sometime later after it was fixed some punks stole his stereo then set it on fire. That was the end of the Accord.

During one lunch outing in the Accord Dan was entering 65 northbound from Battlefield. The car in front, to no surprise, was going too slow for Dan. He checked his mirror then gunned it and swung out of the exit ramp across both lanes of traffic to pass the slower vehicle. Unfortunately for all of us there was a pick-up in the far left lane in his blind spot.

The truck ended up in the median, at which point we all said some expletives. To our surprise the jacked up 4x4 passed us in the median and got back into our lane of traffic. Then he stopped with us directly behind him. Out of the truck came this huge, mulleted, redneck. He was wearing cut-off jean shorts, giant workboots, and a tank top. He was either a painter or a drywaller judging by the white stains all over him and he was pissed (understandably).

With this guy coming at us we looked behind to see that it was clear and Dan immediately backed up and took off. We snaked around town a bit to make sure we lost him. We were late coming back from lunch but we were still alive. We got lucky both that we didn't hurt anybody and that the giant redneck didn't pull Dan from the car! Dan felt pretty embarrassed about that for a long time.

Dan was a sensitive guy though he hid it from most though with his dry humor. We talked about his family sometimes. He loved them all very much. He was very protective of his little sister. He'd tell me about something she did that he didn't approve of, or how he was keeping a close eye on her latest boyfriend. Ultimately he was glad who Missy married, Dan told me he really was a good guy.

He loved his parents very much and I know was always looking to make them proud. He spoke of his father like he was superman. It was a realization for him when his Dad started having medical issues (back problems I think?). He told me realized then his Dad wasn't always going to be around and was making an effort to get to spend more time with him.

Dan and I had lunch together a few weeks before he died. We didn't see too much of each other after he started working at Jack Henry. I'd stop in occasionally and see him at Geekerz on Friday night or have a drink with him at a Springfield bloggers meeting. He was a regular at the downtown venues. All the waitresses and bartenders knew him by name and what his favorite meals or drinks where.

At lunch we talked about old times and of the future. He hadn't yet decided to buy the bike. At the time he was thinking of buying a house. To my surprise he was talking about getting a piece of land, big enough he could have a shop building with lots of tools to build things with, and of course room enough for his motorcycle.

The last time I talked to Dan was a couple weeks ago. I invited him out to the farm and we agreed to make some time to make it happen... I'll take a rain check on our visit.

Dan, you're going to be missed.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Goodbye my friend

My friend, Dan Feather, died yesterday in a tragic motorcycle accident.

I'm going to miss him dearly. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this, just not right now.

Godspeed, Dan.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summertime activities

Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
There's lots going on lately making it tough to find time to blog. Summertime activities are blowing by (except for the heat). I've added some new pictures, including some from Alex's 5th birthday party.