Testing a photo fix…
Testing a photo fix…
It appears that all is correct with the provider move. I’ll test for a few more days and then shut off the other system.
I’m doing some consolidating and moving my site to a new provider. I’m hoping this works…
Although this could easily turn into another screed about the commercialization of Christmas, I’m restraining myself. Instead, I want to share with you the best gift I got for Christmas this past year.
It doesn’t look like much. An old Christmas card cut up and folded into a crude box. Ragged at the edges where young hands weren’t able to quite make the corners work. Just like hundreds of other small handmade items from my kids over the years.
But this one came at a time when I needed it most. At the end of a particularly long week of working 18-hour days. On an evening when I was having a lot of self-doubt about my abilities and the meaning of my work. When I was ready to throw my laptop across the room in fury at myself, my company, and the world in general.
“Daddy…” came the quiet voice, usually loud and raucous, hopped up on sugar or television or some other external stimulant. The voice that usually was whining about one thing or another or crying because of some perceived hurt or ill. The voice that often brought woe or worry or other tidings of less than great joy.
“Daddy…” she said. “I made this for you.”
I took the box and gave it a shake, expecting to hear the sound of some pennies or rocks or other customary offerings. My heart began to break as I realized how I had denied my child her deepest desire, time with her Daddy, over the last few weeks. The box suddenly looked like something out of the fanciest catalog, the most lavish of stores, the best that money could buy.
“What’s inside?” I asked, wondering what it could be that didn’t make any noise but could be worth the obvious effort she had put into the box.
“I blew a kiss inside of it, just for you” she said.
And I wept. Tears of joy for the heart that beat inside my daughter’s chest. Tears of shame for the way I had behaved as a father over the last few nights. Tears of gratitude for the real gift God had given me in the form of this child.
Thank you, my darling, for the best gift I could have received from anyone this year…
I woke up very motivated for the first time in many weeks. Without going into a lot of detail, I’ll just say that the last few weeks for me have not been my best. But today… today looks pretty good.
I just noticed this a few minutes ago:
Surely this is bad, right….?
I like change. I’ve spent almost my entire career as an (admittedly self-styled) agent of change. I still move the furniture around in my house when I get bored.
So, I’m moving some furniture around here. I’ve been playing around with WordPress themes for quite a while, mostly just to understand how the developers put together the various bits of code. I love the elegance of the design and have, in fact, appropriated many of their ideas for my own projects.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration is Smashing Magazine, a fantastic online magazine focused on design and web development. Periodically, they post WordPress themes that range from the interesting to the odd, from the bizarre to the beautiful. And when they published this theme, entitled “Notepad Chaos”, I grabbed it immediately.
I’d love to be able to design stuff like this, and perhaps someday I’ll get there. I keep slugging away at my drawing skills, my painting skills, my Illustrator/Photoshop and Flash skills. Slow progress but progress nonetheless.
For now, having my blog rendered in this theme makes me happy. I’ll spend a bit of time making a few minor changes and adding some links that don’t currently exist.
But for now, change is good.
I switched to your hosting service from 1and1.com last January. Continued problems with service interruptions, poor support, and pricing caused me to look for another place to put my various domains. I found your ad in the back of a magazine, visited your site, and was quite impressed by what I saw. I spoke to sales person on the phone and felt assured that FatCow.com was being run by people who a) knew what they were doing and b) cared about their customers. But today I feel betrayed, and I have made the decision to move from your service to BlueHost.
And the simple reason is that your customer interaction is quite awful.
On the morning of January 27th, I noticed that I was no longer receiving email at my primary account (an address based on this domain). I contacted your technical support staff, and a trouble ticket was opened. When I checked later that afternoon, I noticed that no one had bothered to update the ticket. Yet I was still not receiving my email. I contacted support again via chat and was told that someone was looking into it.
I checked late in the evening and found the ticket still had not been updated. I noted that my web site was still working, but no email was coming. I updated the ticket myself with this information in an attempt to be helpful and contacted technical support via chat once again. And once again I was told that the problem was being looked at and was told…
Our records show that there is open ticket regarding your issue. One of our specialists is working on the issue. I have updated the information in the ticket and given higher priority to resolve your issue at the earliest. One of our specialists will resolve your issue and send you the resolution in the Support Console
I went to bed, still confident that FatCow technical support would resolve the issue.
This morning? No email. No update on the trouble ticket. I contacted chat again. I was told it would take another 24-48 hours to resolve the problem. And that’s when I realized that, for all your talk and all your promises, you are still just like every other hosting company out there. Better than some, worse than some, but really no different. I told the chat person that I would be switching my main domain to BlueHost in order to get email, and they were very polite and sent me a pre-programmed response from their console…
I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. One of our specialists will contact you as soon as possible.
…which we both know now is a lie. No one has contacted me directly. There was an update to the trouble ticket to say that you had noticed that the domain had been updated. And it had been — because I switched it to BlueHost. And here’s the interesting point…
It took me less time and less aggravation to switch to a new provider and start receiving email than it did for you to fix my problem.
For lack of communication, you ruined the trust bond that I had with FatCow.com and have now caused me to no longer consider FatCow.com an option for anyone who asks about hosting. I never write these sorts of open letters to anyone because I always assume a resolution can be found to any problem. But apparently my $88/year plus other fees per month for additional services isn’t that important.
Luckily there are many other hosting services out there who are happy to have me as a customer. Will BlueHost ever let me down? Undoubtedly. Will they treat me as you have? I don’t know. But if they do, the next open letter I write will be to BlueHost, comparing them to you.
I remember seeing the following quote during my early training as a sales rep with IBM:
The Bible tells us that Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Shamefully, ten times that many customers are slewn every day by the same instrument.
I try to find the bright side of every situation. For me, it’s that my new provider is giving me unlimited storage and transfer bandwidth in my plan for not much more than I was paying you. For you, perhaps it’s the warning bell this letter sounds, that treating your customers poorly in these trying economic times has very real consequences.
Thanks for the service from January to December of 2008. I wish you the best. But I can’t recommend you any longer. To anyone. And that’s sad.
I used to long for the perfect Christmas. I envisioned starting at Thanksgiving with the tree and decorations followed by all manner of Norman Rockwell-ish activities. Baking, making snowmen, sledding, drinking hot chocolate next to the fire, Christmas songs over the stereo, etc. And each year I manage to accomplish at least one of these to some degree. But no Christmas has ever seemed to measure up to my (impossibly high) standards.
Until this year.
This year I decided to not just lower my expectations but abandon them altogether. Rather than looking for the perfect Christmas, I focused on why I celebrate the season. I focused on Christ and His birth and what it ultimately means for me. I thought more about what matters and less about my Hollywood-Dickens-Rockwell mashup of what Christmas should be.
The tree went up around the second week in December, we never did get the garland around the bannisters, and once again we didn’t get Christmas cards mailed out or lights on the outside of the house. I didn’t bake much, and I certainly didn’t sip hot chocolate by the fire (after all, we live in San Antonio and don’t really use our fireplace for much more than candles). I didn’t listen to a lot of Christmas music (other than the fabulous songs we sang during our Christmas program at church). And through it all, I realized something very important.
I was pretty much stress-free during the entire run-up to this night. Sure, I took some much-needed (and rare) vacation time. Sure, we cut back on gift-buying and giving. But mostly, I discovered that I’m finally learning what’s important at the holidays.
And tonight it all came home during the last Christmas Eve service at church. I went out on stage and looked down on the front row. And I saw my daughters. Sitting in the front row. Singing. All the words to the songs I figured they had been ignoring. Raising their hands in worship. Smiling. Together. With us in the sanctuary as we all celebrated the real reason for Christmas.
And my heart was so full I thought I would burst. I hope I can remember that feeling during the next week or so and into next year as I get upset about their messy rooms, their grades, their tendency to be less than courteous to us. I hope I can remember this night, the night I realized that they will both be okay and grow up to be the kind of people Annette and I have always longed for them to be. In love with Christ. Focused on what’s important.
In closing, I thought I’d share this picture that I have posted before:
That’s my sister, me (in the middle), and my brother along with my father. I’m guessing that my mother is taking the picture. I’m probably five or six, and a couple of the ornaments in this picture now hang from my tree. I love this picture because it’s really one of the few I have of me as a little kid with my father.
I hope when my daughters are my age that they look back and remember nights like this one. That their children bring as much joy to them as they have to me. And that they, too, remember anew why we celebrate.
Christmas is many things to me. But most importantly, it’s love. Love of family, love of friends, and, above all, the love God showed to us when He sent Jesus to the earth in human form.