Archive for March 2014

Hope Springs Eternal?   5 comments

Hope Springs Eternal? Or is it Spring Hope is Eternal. No, no, I’ve got it! We all hope spring is going to arrive, if not eternally, at least starting Thursday. According to the calendar, and the constant reassurances by the meteorologists, that’s when it’s scheduled to arrive  – on Thursday. Will  it? We’ll see. But one thing we know for sure: The Groundhog was right!

To be fair though, winter is leaving but he’s taking baby steps up here in the north country;  bigger steps in and down toward the city. Witness his retreat southward along the Hudson River:

Still Frozen in Peekskill

Still Frozen in Peekskill

Go 7 miles south to Croton

Go 7 miles south to Croton

3 more southward miles to Ossining.

3 more southward miles to Ossining.

Tarrytown - 6 more miles. Nothing!!!!

Tarrytown – 6 more miles. Nothing!!!!

Boy, 16 miles can make a big difference, can’t it?

As for the House of Mars, we’re making progress (I guess). Remember my clothes line back in February?


Here it was Sunday…..DSCN1404

My “parking spot” back then?



Almost walkable!

Almost walkable!

My walk in February

My walk in February



Hey, I guess it’s not so bad  after all! Pipe down, Marble. Spring is a-comin’


Tattling on Myself   2 comments

Last week’s blog on the ubiquity of customer satisfaction surveys elicited a discussion with a good friend who was all for them, feeling that

a) employers need them to know how effective their employees are, and

b) employees will keep on their toes,  knowing customers will be quizzed.

It kind of reminded me of the role of student monitors back in my elementary school days. Although we knew how we were supposed to behave , but if it were not for the monitor and the fear of “being told on” who’s to say how many kids would walk quietly to class or behave if the teacher left the room. But just as surveys can get out of control so can the monitor, and I should know.

The Secret.Monitor

It was fourth grade and our teacher was Sister Christina, a fresh-faced young nun. So young that even “us kids” who thought everyone was old, and could only see  what showed through the face window of her Franciscan habit, recognized her youth.  For some reason,  one day she made me secret monitor, probably because she hoped it would keep me quiet for the whole day. My job – to write down the initials of anyone observed talking in class. And at the end of the day, they’d be kept after school

Well, yesiree Bob, I took this seriously. So seriously that I decided to catch everyone talking. Now this happened nearly sixty years ago, so I couldn’t swear to it, and I’d like to think I didn’t, but I may have talked to some of  the”good kids” and when they answered, ……oops, another one bit the dust. But, hey remember –  I’m not sure!

The outcome – Sister Christina took one look at the long list of initials jotted down on the page I’d ripped out of my assignment pad, and sneaked me out the back door of the  class room a few minutes early, on the pretense of  a doctor’s appointment, or some likely excuse  After all how secret could a secret monitor be if her name was the only one missing from the list?

As for the rest of the class – I found out the next day, she’d dismissed them on time. My covert operation was over but I kept it secret, telling no one but my family. However four years later, a new position opened up.

The Hallway Monitor

A coveted position for eight graders,was to be appointed the weekly hallway monitor. This roughly compares to today’s Student of the Week. But whereas these kids earn a lousy bumper sticker, we got to man our hallway and stairwell posts for a whole week,  making sure ‘the younger grades” behaved themselves as they trooped in and out in the morning, to and from lunch recess, and at dismissal.

Finally my turn came. Let me say beforehand that by eighth grade , I had outgrown my fourth grade zeal, and stood  my post with dignity and bearing, breaking my pose only to  smile and mouth  “hi” to my brother in second grade each time his class passed. He’d respond by looking down at the ground,  keeping his arms rigidly at his side, save for the fingers of one hand he wiggled my way.  Figuring this was just my little brother being weird, as he could be from time to time, I didn’t give a lot of thought to it. However my curiosity got the best of me that weekend and I asked him,

“Jimmy, how come you’d never say hi to me in the hall last week.”

His answer, “I was afraid you’d write my name down.”

Posted March 13, 2014 by virginiafair in School Days, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Be Careful, Big Survey is Watching   3 comments

Have you noticed, or is just the circles I travel in, that the survey has taken the place of Big Brother? Or maybe the survey is today’s hallway monitor. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Every time I take my car to the Hyundai dealership for service, everything is impeccable, the service, the price, the clean and comfortable waiting room equipped with wi-fi, coffee, and TV. And every time as I’m leaving,  the courteous super-helpful service manager walks me to my car, opens the door and while I’m fastening the safety belt, reminds me yet again that “Someone will be calling or emailing you with a survey about your experience here today.”

Different scene, similar survey:

Once a year I go to my local hospital for ultrasound testing. Since ultrasound is utterly painless and non-obtrusive I actually enjoy it. But then the experience is tainted  when the technician walks me to the front desk and not only reminds me, verbally,  that I will be receiving a survey in the mail, but hands me a paper reminding me of the same.

And then there are the times I don’t even have to leave the house to be faced with that ghostly specter. Case in point, I came home Friday night at about 10 PM to find that not only was I lacking  access to all but three stations on cable TV but my internet was out too.  After an hour of reading about trouble-shooting and trying my hand at  it, I gave up  and called Optimum, my service provider

Believe it or not, not only was I  able to reach a real live person  at that time of night, but  he was in Connecticut and not India! After a bit of trouble shooting and futile  attempts to remedy the situation remotely, he told me he could schedule a technician to come out the very next day  – Saturday!!! And then he had to go and ruin it. Yes he asked me if I would stay on the line to answer a brief survey about my experience on this call.

So what am I getting at here? all three individuals, the service manager, the ultra-sound technician, and the customer service agent were all very forthcoming about asking me to give them a positive rating , saying that their job performance reviews depended on it. This leads one to wonder would they be quite so super-nice, so utterly professional and so competent, professional and efficient without that survey dangling over their heads? I’d like to think so.

PS   my cable and internet are working better than ever after the technician’s visit. “The Cable Guy” discovered I was getting absolutely zilch, zero, nada signal so he had to trace my connection outward to locate the problem. Speaking of someone doing his job well!  He started with  the basement – nothing.

So he checked the  connection into the house

DSCN1302Unfortunately, still no signal and if you think that involved a bit of climbing,

his next stop was the utility pole.

DSCN1303But before you say yeah, that’s his job…….

Take a look at the other side of the story .

DSCN1304That’s quite a lean angle for a ladder to reach the top of the pole.

And there lay the problem.  Squirrels! Squirrels had eaten the wires!

So despite the frigid temperature he put up a new line from the pole to the house to the basement junction box, and  now I have a super strong signal and faster download times.

But there was one problem. As he was leaving he told me I’d be contacted for a survey!