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R.L. Kiser
Writer Guy
Writer Guy


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New cover for a great fantasy tale.
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Hey,  F R E E  for a limited time. Meet Awiel of the Dance. She makes men's hearts race, and she's wicked with a blade. Check it out.
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Singing the Praises of the VA
With all the talk and controversy lately about the Veterans Administration, trouble at the top, resignations, veterans waiting forever to get their benefits, it's nice to be able to say something positive.
I recently suffered a debilitating and excruciatingly painful double pelvic fracture from a bicycle accident and took an ambulance to the Reno VA. The care and attention I received there, from the ER to admission into the hospital, was top notch. Everyone there, maintenance, house keeping,  nurses, assistants—night and day shifts, and doctors are very professional and caring. Even the food was good. You can't get that kind of service in a five star hotel.
I wanted ice cream in the middle of the evening—got it. Anyone that comes up with ice cream upon request is aces in my book. The medical care was exemplary. It was determined in sort order that I would need rehab care and that was arranged, all completely transparent to me, TKO (taken kare of). I was given a branny-spanking new wheel chair and goodies, like a leg lifter and a simple plastic and rope cord device for pulling on my socks. The evening of day five I was professionally transported to the Rosewood Rehabilitation facility for the next nineteen days.
Now, I know everyone has heard horror stories about nursing care facilities. I heard some while in Rosewood about other facilities. The Building is old, there's not a lot of maneuvering room for wheelchairs, but it's clean, the food is decent, and I was given good care and excellent physical therapy. It was a painful push but I was walking, parallel bars and walker,  within a couple of days. Every day thereafter was less time in the wheelchair, more time with the walker, exercise machines, and stretching. The entire gambit of physical and occupational therapy was aptly covered. Physical dealing with recovery from the injury, ie. learning to walk again, occupational dealing with how do I take care of myself while dealing with the limitations of the injury. There's a reason why they are rated Reno's Five *** Star rehab facility.
 So it comes down to the fact that there is a lot of good out there. Just look at the Reno VA Hospital and Rosewood Rehab. We take care of our veterans.
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Ain't modern technology wunnerful!
I suppose the correct way to state this would be "Life is as complicated as we make it." I have this fully functional Blackberry style phone with itty bitty monkey-finger buttons. I can cover eight buttons with my index finger (yes, they are that small or my hands are that big). It was only $10 from Tracfone, and there's a reason they had it reduced from $40. Everyone wants a touch screen phone—including me.
I found one on the Tracfone site (has to be Tracfone in order to support Safelink, my Obama phone), so I ordered it. Got here in three days. I left a note on my door in case I wasn't here when FedEx arrived. And, of course, I wasn't (they're too damned efficient, most deliveries never arrive before noon). But it required my direct signature, my neighbor couldn't sign for it. The complications begin.
On to the FedEx web site. Registration successful. I want to re-schedule delivery, but no. That requires another registration with about nine security questions. Which of these phone numbers were you associated with—702 blah blah. Didn't remember any of them so I answered None of the Above. Eeeee! I answered all the other questions, but how the hell am I supposed to remember a phone number from a state I left 44 years ago?! After several unsuccessful attempts it locked me out. I bet whoever programmed this used to work for the federal g'munt. They used to do the same thing but finally wised up and changed the questions because no one could gain access. I had to drive (as in automobile-couldn't find the pedals) quite a ways and hunt for the FedEx building. You'd think it'd be easy to find. Uh-huh, for any normal person (ahem). Finally picked up the box way after dark. But wait—it gets better!
Assembled the phone, went to the Tracfone site—more complications. The site would not accept half my inputs. Did they use the same web programmer as FedEx? So I used the 800#. Now the fun begins. They have 4 menus, each about 7½ days long. After 7 yawns and 3 butt scratches I was finally able to speak to a live person (foreign, of course). I wouldn't know how to act if a phone tech person didn't speak with an accent. I kin help you, Meester Raw-zul.
Started the xfer of service from one phone to the other, several holds, and the line went Pffft! I was using Google Phone (computer w/headset) so I wasn't worried about batteries or minute charges. Redialed, played the "tag, you're not it" menu game again, got a different tech, "Okey Mister Kiz-ur...", and completed the process.
Part B of "But wait—it gets better!" One of the reasons I originally bought the monkey-finger phone was that it has a full QWERTY keyboard (small tho it may be). The new phone has a touch key pad, three and four letters to a key—two touches for I, three touches for R, select the style T9, Abc, etc. And it takes about 5 touches to get the correct letter if you make a mistake (very sensitive screen). Complicated menu selections (well, it's new) and that damned voice! Every selection the phone is talking to me. I couldn't find out how to shut that voice off! So I played menu phone tag again. Here's part A of "wait—it gets better". This phone is not compatible with Safelink. Oh, Crap! Frustration mounts. A few of the phones (the more expensive ones) stated "not compatible with Safelink". That's why I chose the one I did—it did not state that. One would assume, therefore, it is compatible.
I searched through the phone plans, I can't afford any of them. Solution: return the phone. "Please hold the line while I transfer you to the returns department." Arrrgh!
During each of the menu tags I'm required to "say or enter" my phone number. And each tech asks me for my phone number. I will never, ever forget this phone number. It's deeply etched in my brain—forever! I finally got a ticket number (11 digits) and a rather lengthy return address in Indiana (does anyone really live in Indiana?). By this time I went several menus deep in the new phone and shut the voice off, but now it doesn't matter because I'm returning the phone. Disheartened and frustrated I took the battery out of the phone, packed it up and let out a heavy sigh.
Part C of "But wait—it gets better!" The next morning I tried to send a text on the monkey-finger phone only to discover Invalid SIM. What the furk! Oh joy, time to play menu tag again. Apparently as soon as I tried to xfer service the old SIM was cancelled. For some reason once that's done they cannot reactivate it. We'll have to send you a new SIM, Mr. Kiss-her. It'll take 7-10 days. I've gone through this process before, ain't modern technology wunnerful? So while we're playing the please hold game (on the Google phone via computer) I'm on the web site and discovered a touch screen phone that is compatible with Safelink. And the tech had me look at an even better one (for the same $$ I spent on the now returned phone). And he swore it has a full QWERTY keyboard display, scouts honor, my you cut my tongue out if it's not (well, I made that last part up). So now the complicated process and long ticket numbers and "how to" process of reactivating a new SIM are obsolete, just like that! I'll receive the new phone in 3 days FedEx (oh, here we go again). Meanwhile I'm without a phone entirely, lost in the void, all alone, up the creek without a paddle, stranded. Oh, wait, I hardly ever make phone calls and receive about the same amount. Never mind.

Day 11 Update - or -
Why can't I just get a phone without complications?

Thursday, a week later FedEx shows up with a tiny package—the new SIM card. Huh? Okay, I'll play along. I called, only now I have a direct line & 6 digit code so the menu game is short. Got the old monkey-finger button phone back in operation. Huzzah!
On Friday FedEx delivered the phone. Pretty slick, all touch-screeny. The tech (bless her foreign heart) was quite helpful; I was assured the 247 phone number would be transferred, no problem (yeah, right!), might take a couple of hours. Soon the phone is operational, I'm having a good time entering old data into the new phone using the touchy-feely screen.
Sunday I discovered the 440 phone number in the phone is not my 247 phone number. Called again (they sure have a lot of different, foreign techs, but they speak passable Engrish) and it took the tech a while to figure out that the phone number had been transferred to the phone I sent back. Of course. He fiddled with his computer and said it would take 2 hours to 2 business days to get the 247 phone number transferred. Uh-huh, sure.
Wednesday, 3 business days later—menu tag, you're it. The number is still not my number, the one I have propagated on about 30 web sites, in friend's phones, and printed on business cards. I've been cussing people out for not retuning my calls and have missed a couple of important calls. I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. It's amazing how these tech get around that. We discovered that the phone number was transferred to the phone I sent back, meaning that SIM has that number. They have to send me a new SIM for the new phone. It's a good thing my hair is cut short or I'd have pulled it all out by now. Why didn't the girl on Friday or that clown on Sunday know this? I'm going to cost them a fortune in SIMs (there's no charge to me for the itty-bitty SIM card). "I'm checking, sir. Please stay on the line, sir." Time marches on. He has attached a note to the case so that when the new SIM arrives and I call in to have it activated it will carry my number.
I'm actually believing we might get this done—the call in menu voice pops up, press 1 for English, enter your ticket number, go jump off a cliff. Lost the tech. Called back, "May I have the number you're calling about?" Ah, c'mon. Just let me talk to the guy I was almost finished with. "There are several call centers, sir" "Oh, crap!" and I hung up. Didn't I say, "To be updated when the new phone arrives and complications ensue?" I knew, I just knew.
So now I have to wait anywhere from 3 days to Armageddon for the SIM to arrive, then play this activation game all over again. Whatever happened to pay phones?
To be updated when the new SIM arrives and complications ensue—again.

Friday Day 18 Update:
Didn't I tell ya'? Further complications ensue and they are:

These techs are under-trained, can't handle complicated situations, and never let you speak to a supervisor.

So they have to send me a new SIM card for the New Phone with my Old Number. Fine! Get it done. I only have to wait forever for it to arrive. However, I was Iron Clad Guaranteed that the New Phone would continue to work with the 440 number until the SIM arrived and I called it in.   S u r e . . .
Friday the phone displays Unregistered SIM (heavy sigh). So I decided, "I'm not frustrated enough, lemme call and get really aggravated." The tech (she spoke unaccented English) simply wouldn't get the point. "We have to register the SIM in the system, sir." Uh, what about the Iron Clad Guarantee the other tech made that the New Phone would continue to work until I received the SIM and called it in? "I understand, sir, but we have to register the new SIM in the system…." Clueless! Yeah, fine, register the damned thing after I call it in! " I understand, sir, but we have to register the new SIM in the system…" Arrrgh! I shouted, "I'll never buy another TracFone as long as I live!" and hung up. They should change their name to Frustration Я Us.
In Summary;
The phone I purchased did not say, "Not compatible with Safelink" on the website. Other Andriod phones did, so I didn't consider them. No where on the site does it say, "Andriod phones are not compatible with Safelink". No Where! This whole complicated business could have been avoided if the webmaster was on the stick and posted the proper information.
   Tracfone dropped the ball.
When I called to active the phone they should have checked to make sure it would work before unregistering the SIM on the old phone. That's basically a no-brainer. They didn't (poor training). They also should have told me it wouldn't work before completing the call. They didn't (poor training—again).
   Tracfone dropped the ball.
When I called again because the old phone said Unregistered SIM and they decided to send me a new SIM, they should have known the number had been xferred to the returned phone and  undone that. They didn't (poor training—poor training).
   Tracfone dropped the ball.
When I called to activate the new phone they should have known the 247 number was attached to the returned phone. I was told the 247 number would be activated on the new phone. They didn't—It wasn't (poor training—in spades).
   Tracfone dropped the ball.
When I called about the 440 number and was and was told I'd be sent a new SIM with the 247 number attached—and told the 440 number would continue to work until I received the new SIM and called it in, they should have known. They didn't (poor training—times 5).
   Tracfone dropped the ball.
So, my dear friends, the bottom line is;
N e v e r   b u y   a   T r a c f o n e !

Monday Day 21 Update:
Okay, so maybe I was a little hasty in saying   n e v e r . I received the new-new SIM card and the phone is finally working—with the proper 247 phone number. It took 21 days (three weeks) to just get a cheap cell phone working. It's not even a smart phone (but I'll bet it has more memory than me). If it weren't for the fact that other than the cost of the phone ($40) the service is free (Obama phone—otherwise I couldn't afford cell phone service) I would have thrown it against the wall long ago. Lemme see, do I want a phone I use occasionally, mostly for emergencies, or do I want to eat. That's a no-brainer.

So call me, already! I have a working phone.

More (phone) Complications a few weeks later.
Safelink/Tracfone online reps are the masters of:
  a. The Universe
  b. Screw-ups
  c. Inadequate training
If you answered b or c you'd be correct. They did it again. Through my own ineptitude I lost my touch screen phone out of an inside jacket pocket on the bike path. On a three wheeled trike the seating is leaned back, things fall out of pockets, Lost my car keys ($258 to replace) and later the cell phone. Oh, man, I just knew there were going to be complications. But all that was my own damned fault. I secretly love to subject myself to the ineptitude of inadequately trained morons.
Now, the reason I'm dealing with all this is that I'm on a (low) fixed income and need this Obama phone.
No phone, can't call, and Google Phone (through Google E-mail), my back up, is defunct. They took it down. I did send an e-mail to Tracfone, they answered two days later and told me to go to Safelink. At least Safelink did this much right, they have an online chat. Explained the situation, gave them all the serial numbers and SIM numbers (a total of 50 numbers) for the lost phone and the old monkey-finger-button phone, for which I ordered a new SIM card, 3-5 days to receive it.
Received a FedEx tracking number, deliver by 8pm on a certain date. I wasted that entire day sitting here waiting for FedEx. They didn't show up. The next day online still had the same delivery date. But they did have additional info in that apparently the package arrived at a shipping point in Memphis, TN twice. There was extreme weather at that time so maybe the first attempt at forwarding had to return to the shipping station. I finally received the package the next day, 6 days of waiting.
Installed the SIM (little tiny cardboard and metal thing) in the phone after I struggled with getting the back off the phone and the battery out. Sounds simple enough, yes? Not with my big clumsy fingers. Okay, so that's finally done. Went back to Safelink chat and after fiddle-futzing around for half an hour the tech got the phone working. I had the phone for one day. 1 day.
The next day it sez UNREGISTERED SIM (insert headache here). Back to Safelink chat, the tech had me enter a series of 19 numbers into the phone twice. Keep in mind the buttons on this phone are so tiny I have to concentrate hard and up close just to see them and push them with the tip of a pen. Phone off, phone on, UNREGISTERED SIM. There's a standard ending they have that tells you to turn the phone off then back on immediately, make a call, and they disappear from online chat. So what's the result? UNREGISTERED SIM. The tech is offline. Crap!
I brought up Safelink chat again, the new tech had me do the same thing again (19 code numbers on tiny baby-monkey-finger-buttons). UNREGISTERED SIM. So she types that the SIM is not for this phone (the SIM I just got specifically for this phone) and they'll have to send me a new SIM. Are you kidding me!? Some idiot pushed the wrong buttons and invalidated the SIM for this phone in their system. Total screw-up on their end, again. Somebody needs a good smack upside their head!
But wait, there's more...
I received an e-mail from the Tracfone tech that our transmission had been interrupted, please call us with PIN ######. Call, yeah, right. Now what did I do with that tin can and string. Back to the tech chat. I spent over an hour and put that poor girl through the ringer. She checked everything she could, back and forth, other departments, and kept saying to please call this 800 number. I don't know how many times I reiterated that I DON"T HAVE A PHONE to call on. No land line, no pay phones around here, neighbors neither. I cannot call, get it?
Well, it turns out the previous tech had ordered another SIM stating that the SIM I just received was the wrong SIM for this phone, even though it worked for a day. What!? Why did you send me the wrong SIM, have it work, then not work? Some idjit dropped the ball—again. So now I wait, sans phone going on two weeks now.
So again I say unless you're desperate or broke:.
                        N e v e r   b u y   a   T r a c f o n e !
(I wonder if anyone else has a similar horror story about ATT?)
I did, however, receive the new SIM card within 3 days, put it in the phone, and without further adieu it worked when I turned the phone on. This time they sent the right card electronically pointing to the correct serial number and Viola! Working phone (for how long has yet to be determined).
However (you knew this was coming);
Unbeknownst to me I didn't have a voicemail box. Non-existent—I missed some calls. On my phone the OWN NUMBER selection shows NO OWN NUMBER. Oh, boy, back to Safelink Chat. The tech told me how to set up voicemail, but there's no info in the phone to set it up. After trying a few things he determined we'd have to communicate with the network provider the next day while they're open. Uh-huh.
Step 2 (next day), Safelink chat, go through the same process as the night before. Try this, try that, one moment please. We will send you a new phone, please give me your entire life history! Uh-huh, but will they send me the same phone? I purchased this phone specifically because it has a full keyboard. The tech said, "Yes" then signed off. I'll believe that when I see it. The problem is in the software, not the phone. This situation didn't fit into their script so their solution is to spend the company's money and send a new phone, takes about a week, and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts it's not the correct model of phone. I just know it!
There's a feedback pop-up and you can bet I used it to express my displeasure. And it's not over yet (heavy sigh).
                                 D o n ' t   b u y   a   T r a c f o n e !
Yeah, there's more (sigh)
So by now we are 4 months into the year. It took about three weeks but they did send a new phone, the WRONG PHONE! So I just continued to use my Blackberry style LG phone until one morning several weeks later it said Unregistered SIM - again! Went onto the Tracfone (not Safelink) site and re-entered the (correct) serial number. Everything came back, own number, voicemailbox, all is well with the cellphone world. Yeah-sure-right-don't-hold-your-breath.
I keep getting these texts from Tracfone/Safelink telling me to contact Customer Svc at 800-blah-blah. Did that using Googlephone (Ain't Google great?) and a get a menu, another menu, another menu, another menu, I keep hitting numbers until a pre-recorded voice asks me for my phone number, tells me to turn off the phone, turn it back on, then hangs up. No live person. Did this 4 times over about a week. I finally received a text welcoming me to Safelink. That oughta' be it, right? Not on your life.
On the 1st of the month I'm supposed to receive my free minutes or there's a manual way. Did that, received the same Contact Svc Dept. 800-blah-blah text.  Only this time I pushed some different buttons on the multiple menus and got to speak to an actual person (or maybe it's just a clone, I don't know).  After futzing around for 38 minutes she transferred me to yet another department (in the Philippines I think) and I sit on the phone waiting for this guy's supervisor while I completely revamp a spreadsheet (a long time). This tech finally figures out to check my serial number and the SIM number in his computer system.
Uh-huh, the phone number, the one I've been using all this time, is supposedly attached to a different phone (the one I don't want that Safelink sent) but they can't just put the number onto the phone I'm using. Of course not, that would be logical, can't do that. They want to give me a new phone number. NO! I'd have to go to about 3 dozen websites to change my contact number and have new cards printed, etc. Are they nuts?
Now, it seems to me that computer system are built by people for people to run, yes? Sure. For some reason they don't have supervisory permission to just do a simple transfer. The only way I can keep my number is to have them send a new SIM (gee, where have I heard this before?) which means I'll be without a phone again for several days. So out of the past 180 days I've been without phone service for a quarter of that. And on the phone today for 1:48 just to have them not be able to do what should have been done in the first place. Modern technology only works when you have people trained to it. Duh! Good thing these little SIM cards are cheap. They've sent several of them to me over the past 6 months. I hope their postage costs are a write-off. Let's hope it works. Keeping fingers and nose hairs crossed.
             Don't call me, I'll have to call you, I have a Tracfone.
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It took a computer to realize this?
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