Classic Dishes...

We’ll Be Right With You

This morning, I had to make a couple of phone calls loosely related to medical insurance. So, in what should really become a regular feature here at Chez Fred, it’s time for today’s Automated Phone System Customer Service Tip:

(We should find a sponsor for this thing. Suggestions welcome. I’m leaning towards Comcast, who I was going to rant about a few months ago, but then the old site died and the topicality of the rantworthy incident wore off. Fortunately in the next month or so it might become topical again, so stand by. At any rate, their recent Worst Company in America win makes them the obvious choice.)

But I digress. Back to our new feature:

Hold times are a fact of life. I get this. But if you’re going to put your callers through ten-plus-minute hold times, then DO NOT:

  • Tell me you’re going to have someone on the line "in just a moment…"
  • …every twenty seconds.

Really, folks, you’re not stringing your callers along into sticking it out, you’re just calling attention to the fact that you’re making them wait. Honestly, I appreciate hold updates that tell it like it is: we know you’re there, we’re busy now, and we’ll get to you in the order your call came in. Boom. Simple.

(The irony here is that Comcast’s actually gets this part of it right: they say "hey, you’re gonna be on hold a while, would you like us to call you back?" And if you say yes, you type in your phone number and they call you back when it is your turn. (I’ve tried it; it works as advertised.) Comcast’s incompetence doesn’t kick in until AFTER you are speaking to a CSR.)

That Darn Cat

I was never much of a pet person growing up due to a combination of factors, the primary two of which were that we didn’t have any sort of grass yard for a dog to run around in, and Mom (and, we would learn years later, me, to a lesser extent) is deathly allergic to cat hair.

As a result, the menagerie at Chateau Lemón during my formative years consisted of one tadpole (Spike, who shuffled off this mortal coil when he sprouted arms and legs and I didn’t realize this meant it was time to get him access to dry land and, more importantly, air), three basic goldfish (Pooka, Fygar, and Dig-Dug (you in the back, shut up), with Fygar outlasting the other two by quite a substantial margin, which is really as it should be) and two teddy-bear hamsters, one a year or two after the other, both named Ralph (blame my younger brother for that one), and both living la vida loca every single minute of their thousand-day lives.

So, yeah. Not much for the whole pet thing. Hell, I can barely take care of myself; why would I want to do that to a poor animal?

But then I started dating the S.O., and she’s got two cats, Arthas and Jaina. (Apparently it’s a WoW reference of some sort.) Jaina is quiet and reserved and is generally content to be near people without being handled by people, though she’s getting better about that.

But Arthas. Oh, Arthas.

Frequently referred to as “Whackjob” by the S.O. (I almost typed “affectionately referred to,” but the aforementioned S.O. would smack me), Arthas is deaf as a post, gets into everything, and generally uses people as climbing posts. A friendlier cat, you will not meet. And by “friendly” I mean “he will climb up onto your shoulder and clean your face with that piece of sandpaper he has for a tongue, usually right after you have shaved and your face is at its most sensitive.”

And of course, Arthas decided from Day One that he liked me. At first I didn’t know what to make of this, but as time goes on I’m starting to understand the whole cat thing. Dogs, for the most part, are blindly loyal, but not too terribly bright. Cats, however, will size you up, and then make an informed decision about who to trust. And they can tell when you’ve had a crummy day and could use a little extra affection. All of this, and they poop in a confined box. Can’t beat that.

So Arthas and I, we’re a team now. I try to defend him to the S.O. as a “good kitteh,” and she just rolls her eyes at me, and then Arthas will knock a Wiimote or something onto the floor, making it that much harder for me to argue his case. But he is a good kitteh, because when I’m having a bad day, he climbs right into my lap and then sits and purrs while I scritch between his ears. The rest of it is forgiven. (And my allergies aren’t nearly as severe as they were when I first met him, though my eyes still get a little itchy if I’ve been there all day.)

Sadly, I don’t have a wacky punchline for this one, but I can always use a little clickbait, so we shall close with a picture of Arthas in full Is-It-Can-Be-Hugz-Tiem-Pleez mode:

Excuse Our Dust

Couple things have happened the last few months.

First, Haloscan (the commenting system I was using) screwed their customers by shutting down with little to no warning. Then Blogger decided they couldn’t abide people publishing to their own webspace via FTP…and shut down that service with little to no warning.

Nutshell, Yer Humble Host was effectively up a creek without a paddle. I’d been wanting to migrate this blog to WordPress for a while now (I like the idea of everything being self-contained and not relying on any outside services for content; given the above, I’m sure you understand), but I wasn’t sure how to get everything moved over, and I wasn’t sure how to get the comments I’d downloaded from Haloscan before they died into the system. So Chez Fred sat dormant.

Then, today, I was idly surfing and wondering if the Haloscan issue had been fixed yet. And I came across this article. This guy’s a god. Everything worked great aside from the need to stick proper HTML in for the occasional omlaut.

So, nutshell, welcome to the WordPress edition of Chez Fred. I figured getting the content in and working was most important, and then we’ll worry about formatting. Nothing should change if you are subscribing via, since I have that redirecting to the new feed path. Those of you who subscribed via probably aren’t seeing this anyhow, so hopefully you’ll wonder what the hell happened to me and come around to visit. With luck it’ll show up on Facebook, for those of you good enough to like Chez Fred’s page there.

I’ll try to get a more palatable theme in here soon enough. Meanwhile, ‘scuse the dust…