Monday, January 17, 2011

Death to Robocalls

When I moved into this apartment about a year and a half ago, I received some last bits of mail sent to the previous tenant, DT. I expected this, and it wasn't a big problem. Eventually, I stopped getting mail for her, except the occasional "DT or current tenant" junk mail.

What I didn't expect was to start receiving collections calls for her. They started trickling in about a month or two after I moved in. It was weird, to be sure, but it made a bit of sense. The people DT owed money to googled her name and got my address, which used to be her address. Then they googled that address to find a phone number, and they got the current phone number for that address -- my phone number.

DT must owe a lot of money to someone, because the calls were coming four or five times a week. It got so bad that I changed my outgoing voicemail to something along the lines of this: "This is the voice mail of Andy Hollandbeck. If you would like to leave Andy Hollandbeck a message, please do so. This is not the phone number of DT. If you are looking for DT, she does not live here. I do not know who she is or where she now lives. Please remove this number from your database. This is the phone number of Andy Hollandbeck, not DT."

They eventually got the message; the collection calls from live people stopped. But now I have a different problem, one I don't know how to fix. The problem is robocalls -- those automated collections calls with one voice saying most of the message, and a second voice chiming in whenever the person's name needs to be used. They come every two or three days now, and robots don't listen to voicemail.

They usually come during the day while I'm at work, so I don't get them. Instead, they pile up in my voicemail, and I end up spending four or five minutes dialing in, starting each message, and deleting it. But today, MLK Day, I'm home, and I'm expecting a call from apartment maintenance (my furnace is out, but my space heater is doing an outstanding job), so I'm answering the phone.

So I pick up a robocall:

"Hello. this is an automated message for DK. If you are DK, please press 1. If you are not DK, please press 2..."

I press 2, and this is what I hear:

"This call is for DK. If you are DK, please press 1. If you are not DK, please disconnect now..."

Apparently, they weren't wasting enough of my time already. I am so glad they gave me the option to press 2 to hear about hanging up instead of just telling me to hang up. What I would like is a way to talk to a real damn person to get my phone number off their list. Grrrr!

I'm sure that, with a little research into the problem, I could find some resource that would let these robotic morons know that they can stop calling me, that I'm not DT. But I am loathe to give them more of my time than they've already taken.

I guess it's a good thing I'm not David Banner, eh? HULK SMASH ROBOCALLS!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Problems at Work

What happens when the server is down at work all day long? It gets a little weird. The inhabitants of my cube start goofing off.

Not me, of course! I'm talking about these guys:

This is Office Voldemort, aka The Dork Lord. Few people know that Office Voldemort is master of two different dark arts: the magical dark arts and mime. Here he does his famous "walking into the wind" performance.

And here is Office Zombie, happy to be at work. He's a decent editor, but most authors don't like him because he drools all over their manuscripts.

Not known for playing nice, here's Office Voldemort using the Imperius curse to force Office Zombie to do his bidding . . .

. . . which apparently involves reenacting scenes from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

This is . . . well, this is just my clip-on fan. Ain't it purdy?

Office Voldemort spent part of the afternoon videoconferencing with his snake oil supplier, a Czechoslovakian mountain troll named Blurgle.

The day ended badly. Here, Office Voldemort casts the Dark Mark after hitting poor Bart Simpson with Avada Kedavra."Eat my muggle shorts!" was perhaps not the best response to Office Voldemort's questions.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2011

Usually, the only new year's resolution I make is to not break my new year's resolution. This year, though, a number of things are coming together, and a number of things need to change. So I'm going to take a stab at this resolution thing. We'll see how it goes.

Resolution 1: Finish My Novel

I signed on for NaNoWriMo this year but only got about 20,000 words in. I need to put in the time to get this story on paper, er, on screen. Ideally, I'll finish it by the end of February so I can print it out, wrap it up, and give it to my mom (with a pack of red pens) for her birthday. (Don't tell my mother.)

Resolution 2: Lose at Least Five Pounds a Month

This is the biggie, and I still don't know how I'm going to do this. Five pounds a month seems like such a small amount that it's doable, but I'm really going to have to get my act together. And fast.
I'm at a totally unacceptable 226 right now. (Don't worry: I won't inflict a "before" picture on you.) If I can lose just five pounds a month until December, I'll be at a much nicer (but still not optimal) 170 pounds.

I won't kid myself into thinking that I could possibly lose weight during December. It'll be hard enough not to put it all back on at one Thanksgiving dinner.

Resolution 3: Me + Ukulele + YouTube

I want to learn an awesome piece on the ukulele (preferably an instrumental -- I don't have the best singing voice), record myself playing it, and upload it to YouTube. Why? Just to prove to myself that I can.

But what song? Malaguena might be a good choice, but I'm taking suggestions.

Resolution 4: Draw More

I doodle all the time, but I haven't done a serious art project since the picture I drew for my parents a few Christmases ago. I want to create more drawings that I can call "finished." I love the idea of actually putting together a regular comic of sorts, but I don't want to aim that high here in the first week of January.

Resolution 5: Remember to Come Back Here and Remind Myself about These Resolutions

Don't want to forget I made 'em!