Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mind Explosions and Quantum Physics

Your mind on Physics
You know when you find out something that you never thought you'd see, it practically makes your mind explode? Like when you watch "The Sixth Sense" and you find out (Spoiler Alert) that Bruce Willis is frickin' actually DEAD! That's a mind explosion. Mind explosions can also be things like finding out Santa Claus isn't real, stepping on a crack won't break your mother's back, or finding that another one of your old friends is about to get married and they didn't tell you because you're not important in their life anymore.

Things like that.

A color version of a sea slug neuron, which uses quantum
particles to fire. If sea slugs can do is so can we!
I think there's an explanation for this that can be explained by the highest of sciences, Quantum Physics. Now, according to quantum physics, everything is made up of quantum's, the smallest particles of matter ever. These particles can communicate with each other on several levels, and throughout time, space, and planes. Excuse me all of you physics buffs that know I'm mangling explanations, but let me theorize for a moment. Now, when you are living your life, you are satisfied with the explanation of the way things are, until suddenly you are presented with incontrovertible evidence that you must accept or risk being seen as a lunatic by the rest of the adult world (case in point, Santa Claus isn't an actual person, took me awhile to figure that one out). Now, once you have this evidence, the mind is not in it's present state able to accept the reality, until suddenly BAM, the quantum particles from the higher plane suddenly have a path through the data to your brain, at which point they travel faster than the speed of light to change your neurons and synapses over to a different plane of existence. This is a little difficult though, and as matter cannot be created or destroyed, your brain must technically cease to exist in it's previous state and travel to another. This is rather painful, and is known as a mind explosion!

A picture of quantum particles on their quantum paths
I am in fact feeling a little sorry for myself today. Yet another of my friends seems to be in a committed relationship, which they conveniently forgot to drop even the slightest hint to let me know. So, I was faced with another mind explosion today, which I got through by doing insane amounts of work and then running barefoot up the mountain across from my front yard. It's very invigorating, you should try it sometime. Once my feet were peeling and tingling from the snow, I felt that I had transcended the previous plane of existence and now was on a different, better level. I have to admit it sucks though, since when is the world allowed to change without your knowledge?

Anyway, next time you're faced with a bit of knowledge that seems impossible to accept and then suddenly your mind is aware of it and feels like it is being rung through a washing machine to accept it, that's quantum physics at work. That's all folks. Peace out and enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Customer Service Experience

"Hi, welcome to (Name of store and motto) my name is Charly, how can I help you today?"
"You guys sent me the wrong thing, somebody over there really screwed up and I need you to take care of it."
"Okay, let me see what I can do to help you out on this, do you have your order num-"
"Are you laughing at me?"
"What? No, I was just asking for your-"
"You're laughing at me, I don't want to talk to you, get me your supervisor."
"I'm sorry, let me just put you on hold for a minute while I transfer you over."
"No, don't put me on hold, you'll just tell your supervisor all about me and talk behind my back."
"....I'm sorry ma'am but I have to put you on hold so I can go get the -"

Really and truly, this is how one of my conversations went with a customer. I don't know where they got the idea that I was laughing at them, maybe I had a 'smile' in my voice or whatever, but something obviously broke down in the communication process along the way.

I don't mean to offend anyone reading this blog, and especially the poor, misguided person who was on the other end of the line, but seriously, customer service representatives get treated horribly by the people they are supposed to be helping. Is it any wonder that no one wants these jobs and a lot of companies are outsourcing?

The above conversation was my 3rd one unsupervised with a customer. I'm normally an emailer (a customer service representative that handles emails), but due to low staff and an upsurge in business, I, along with a few other brave volunteers made the plunge over to phones. I remember thinking after the first hour, while I was sitting in the break room with my shaking hands wrapped around a cup of hot cocoa, "No wonder there's not enough people on phones, you probably couldn't pay them enough to take the stress!" My company was wonderful, after all we were volunteers and after 3 weeks of phones when I couldn't take it, the kindly transferred me back to email. But the experience left me with an appreciation for customer service reps that handle stressful phone calls, day in and day out all in the name of good service.

Here's a few tips when making a customer service call.

1: Have your pertinent information ready, it will make the call easier on you and the rep. I can't count the number of times someone calls in or writes in and says something to the effect of, "It's broken, fix it." Well, I want to 'fix it', but we're not mind readers! Have your order number, or at least an idea of what you're calling in about.

2: Be kind and polite. After all, they rep is there to fix things, not make them worse. The majority of dissatisfied customers are those who didn't read the policies or instructions for the item. (See below for an example on this.)

3: Be patient with the representative. Their entire job is to fix things so you are happy, and a little bit of kindness and patience (none of this "I want it done NOW!") will go a long way. Also remember, all the important stuff happens during the work week, and it can take a day or two to figure out (such as updating tracking information, or shipping something out from the warehouse.) We live in such a fast-paced world, it's hard to imagine that not everything is instantaneous, but it's true!

4: Don't try to lie to the representative. Companies keep your order number and all pertinent notes for you in one place, so if you call in, it's likely that the rep can see every time you've called or emailed, what's been said, and what's been done to help you. I've had customers lie to me before, trying to get deals, discounts, refunds, or even free stuff. Don't do it, we can usually tell, and once we know you're lying, we're much less sympathetic to your plight. We won't go against any policy, but we're much less likely to bend over backwards to help you out.

Well, that's all I've got! Be nice to your customer service peeps and we'll be nice to you! Hope that your next call is wonderful and you get all the help you may require. What are your customer service stories? Either from the representative's point of view or the customer's point of view. I bet there's some awesome stories out there!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Training Commences, the Barefoot Experience

As my blisters healed from my first trial with barefoot running, I have been simply walking and doing muscle strengthening, slowly working up to barefoot running again. This new running style has been more difficult than I expected to work into, but I am determined.

I have been walking 40 minutes a day on my lunch hour, and either jogging or walking in the evenings. One of the big things I ran into while starting barefoot training was the sheer amount of information that warns against starting too fast, doing too much too soon, and basically how important it is not to hurt yourself while starting. Barefoot running is difficult to get into, here's my first 3 experiences with it.

#1: I ran 3/4ths of a mile barefoot, got 3 huge blisters, and my calves were very sore for the next two days. I did only walking for 3 days after that, and have been doing toe raises and carefully stretching my achilles

#2: I only ran about 2 blocks. I've been practicing the steps and such, but after two blocks the healing blisters started to burn, rather than aggravate them I stopped running, and simply walked again. It's annoying especially when I really love to run, but gotta listen to what my body says! (2 day break between this and next trial of barefoot)

#3: I did 3/4ths of a mile again. This time I was able to go longer without getting winded, and I ran on a field instead of on smooth pavement. The experience was really enjoyable, and I only stopped because I knew that my calves would protest. Sure enough, today they did, but hey, I'm working into it!

So go slow, and train right. It's a lot of work, but I'm hoping it will be worth it! I've been asked if I'm doing the Tough Mudder barefoot. After training, I kind of doubt that. I came across another blog that detailed barefoot half-marathons and winter training. That blog had some gruesome pictures of toes being split open, frostbite, and other injuries that seemed to be over-the-top. I'm not aiming for that, injuries to say that I'm tough. I just wanted a goal to aim for, and now I have one! I am definitely going to invest in some Vibram Five Fingers, but I've gotta save the money first! Plus, I hear those shoes are tough to break in, and if it's really like running barefoot, then my feet aren't strong enough to handle them anyway.

My next thing is I'm going to read 'Born to Run' by Christopher MacDougall. I'm waiting for eBay to ship my copy out to me, but from the reviews, I hear it's an interesting look at barefoot running and how it started with our ancestors. Plus, there's apparently an awesome race between the indigenous tribe the author is studying and some hard-core marathoner's. I'm hoping to get informed, and maybe even a little inspired along the way! So, that's it for now, see ya'll next time!