Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are we burning our children out?

On my way to taking Audrey to school today I caught an interview on the radio with Tom Farrey. He wrote a book about how we, Americans, are pushing our kids to become 'world class' athletes and we are burning our kids out. The book is really surrounding the sport of soccer, but his argument can easily be transitioned into many other sports [ie. baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse].

This got me thinking this morning. Am I burning my child out? Am I pushing her to become the best athlete or do I just want her to have fun? After a morning of really thinking about it, I am convinced that I just want her to have fun. She is 7 years old for crying out loud.

Audrey is involved with cheer leading. It involves a ton of different disciplines and requires practice to become a good cheer leader, and as I think more about it, there are a ton of mom's there watching and coaching from the sidelines. They are coaching from the bench, rather than letting the coaches do their thing.

I think it does come down to coaching. Are the coaches really setting up the kids for success? I think so. Audrey's coach is fantastic. She barks orders, demands respect, but she also makes sure the kids have fun in the end. At this point Audrey can do a cartwheel [barely], the splits [with ease], but isn't too good at much else, and I am cool with that. She still wants to go [most days] and have fun. They all look up to the older girls and they all try to emulate them. But still the fact remains, the parents of my daughter's team, want to win. This past year, her team went exhibition. That means they go to the competitions and perform, they are judged, but they are not ranked. They get the experience but not the pressure to win, her coaches are doing the right thing The parents want to go for trophies, the glory, maybe something they have missed from their childhood?

I am cool with Audrey competing for real but not until she moves up to the next level. Now I realize she needs to work to get to the next level, but so many parents want to put the skills up against another gym. It's just another 'keeping up with the Jones' scenario. It's great to say that my child is in the best gym with the most medals, but seriously, if the kids are having fun, then great, and if the coach is great, then that's even better. Winning doesn't mean better all the time. I watched 3 girls have panic attacks on stage during a competition from a competing gym. The girls didn't smile unless they were performing. The girls from my gym were having fun, smiling, and they may have not won, but then again, their parents are paying for anxiety medication either.

So this leads me to the end. Let kids be kids. When it comes to winning, save it for when they are older, like double digit ages, but don't put SO much pressure on winning that it dilutes what kids want to do, play with toys, ride bikes, and have fun. They aren't supposed to have full time jobs, and all these parents who have their kids in Summer Leagues, Winter Leagues, Spring Leagues, school sports, and they have all these practices, is just like giving them a full time job.

Monday, May 25, 2009

PodCast #6 is upon us.

Well I must say it feels good to be back behind the microphone after a great few weeks off.

Ton of great stuff happened on vacation. I got a little bit of it recorded and ready for playback.

Highlights of this PodCast:

1. Opening tune is from a Cleveland Band called This Is A Shakedown from their new album which was just released.

2. Visited the my brother Keith in Chicago and he brought some friends from Improv Olympic on to do a Bat. They are a hilarious cast of characters and they are:
Liz Bell
Lindsay Lewin
Erin Williamson
Tabitha Parker
Drew Leffelman
Kristen Parise
Ryan McGillen
Tom McNeill
Andy Pereira
Keith Gercak
Michael Barin

To learn what Improv Olympic [iO] is, check it out here.


Mobile users click here to listen,

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting back into it.

Well well well. What a great week I had. I have decided to let the Jim Alger thing go. I have no reason to explain myself to him or anyone, but if you want to read what happened, go check it out.

Now that I am back home, it is time to edit down and get the next PodCast up and running. I have close to 90 minutes of material to get edited down. I have so much stuff from Legitimate Beef I may have to split it into 2 PodCasts. It was great, and I hope you enjoy it.

Besides that, I hope to post some photos from the trip up soon. I didn't take too many though.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adam vs. Jim Alger

I guess while I have a few minutes to write a post, I am taking advantage.  

Usually my vacations are filled with a bunch of tiny little blogs, or now that I have time to digest the news and comment, that is usually what happens.

So who is Jim Alger?  I have not heard of this fella before yesterday.  And to tell you more about how I came to learn who he was, I must catch you up on a few things.

I jumped on the twitter bandwagon.  What is twitter?  It's just Internet chatter.  It's a bunch of narcissistic jerks, talking about what we are doing.  Well I caught a little bit of the news before bed Thursday night and watched the news Friday morning and then I saw the melted faced freak we like to call Nancy Pelosi, aka, madame speaker, aka, whiny little Grandma [if one were to Google Search narcissism and then click on the images, you will see Nancy Pelosi].  

Now I will be pretty honest.  I don't know much about who she is, or what she has done for her district in California, but what I do know is that she is a spotlight loving, finger pointing, nobody.  I am not impressed with her in the least.  It's bad enough I have to stare at that melting face while I watch the State of the Union Addresses, but now she has found a new sense of authority now that her party is ruling the country.  I say ruling and not governing because we are slowly slipping into the world of socialism.  More about that later, but I am not a fan of Ms. Pelosi.  

So how did my disdain for Nancy Pelosi turn into an argument with Jim Alger?

Here is the deal.

Here is where is started.  Please look at the times at the bottom of all the posts. [Now when you read these things, when you see 'acgercak' it denotes that I have said something.  When you see '@acgercak' it means that Jim is talking back.  When you see 'acgercak@JimAlger' it means I am talking back to Jimmy.  Now you have your crash course on how to read a twitter feed.]

acgercak:Nancy Pelosi is just as guilty as anyone else. I'm pulling a page from HER playbook. Let's prosecute her for being accessory.


Well, the time is here. Vacation. I don't have to work for the next 9 days, well at least at the full time job. Phase 1 has kicked off. Early this morning, the wifey and I arrived in Louisville, safe and sound, and we look forward for a great anniversary weekend.

Relaxing isn't the word, but it's close.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If the customer is always right.

If the customer is always right, then yesterday I was an asshole and a racist.

If anyone on the blog follows my twitter then you would have seen that yesterday I broke the cardinal rule. I let a customer get to me. I feel it necessary to tell the whole story.

As the afternoon was shaping up, I was rolling. I was getting new customers, renewing old ones, and I was driving revenue for my company. I was actually in a good mood. Everything was clicking. Then a series of customers came in that really started to grind me down.

Customer 1 wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the funny part about this guy is the day before. I was helping a young girl get her new phone fixed. She was being very abusive to the charging port of her phone so it needed to be replaced. As I was replacing it, my manager was working next to me with an escalated customer [read: pissed off]. As he is working with one escalation, another approaches. My manager was able to appease the pissed off people he was with, then that is when Customer 1 walked up. He was mad about his new BlackBerry. He had "3 replacements and they are all doing the same thing, it's a piece of junk, he wanted a new one."

The bad part about having an innovative product for mass distribution is that there are certain growing pains that come with new technology. There are kinks to be worked out. It will not be perfect until that product gets into the hands of abusive customers. That is when the kinks get worked out. Usually these things get fixed quickly, but then again, we know the general public are a bunch of impatient jerks.

So Customer 1 starts to talk to the other pissed of customers and says that he "sued this company for the time an aggravation it took for a replacement phone and the amount of times he needed to come in and deal with his non working phone." Let the bullshit rain begin. He said that "The corporate people called him and thought that it was a joke and said that they wouldn't go to court." He later went on to say that, "well if you don't go then I will get a default judgment in my favor." I mean this guy was laying it on think. Having been in the retail business for close to 10 years now, I can tell when someone is trying to justify their anger. They are like the rooster trying to fuck the hen house. They are puffing up that meek exterior in order to impress someone else and prove that they are right. I saw right thought his bullshit and noticed that he was holding the very BlackBerry I am now using. So fixing his issue was going to really take 13 seconds. But I was with a customer. As Customer 1 continues he gets mad and starts to walk out. That is when my customer sprang into action.

"Excuse me, sir?" she said in one of those hurried tones. Customer 1 stops and turns around, "If [this company] sucks as bad as you say it does and you successfully sued them, then why do you still choose to use this company?"

My jaw hit the floor. Holy shit. The balls or virtual balls this girl had. I think Customer 1 felt silly getting asked this from a 18 year old girl, but he was embarrassed and then left in a real big hurry. He returned yesterday and immediately wanted to talk to a manger. My manager on duty was working next to me as always, because I have a certain way of diffusing situations by proxy. I can over hear a situation, see my customer is getting that evil eye, and then I loudly educate this customer on how to prevent what ever issue that complaining customer is talking about. It works, complaining customers feel stupid, I am happy because I make 2 customers happy at once and they leave.

Well Customer 1 was complaining that his BlackBerry didn't work. Every issue he was telling us was 100% a real issue. The only issue is that it happens with every single one of them. There are several fixes on the internet, and best practices to reduce issues, and now that I have one of these "shitty" BlackBerrys, I know every single one of them. So I am with my customer and I ask permission from my customer to help out my manager. I literally pushed my manager aside and said, "Dude, a new blackberry isn't going to help you, just like it didn't the first 3 times we gave you a new one. Here is what you have to do." I took his BlackBerry and went into his settings and removed some programs that make the BB run slow. I hand it over and said, " Here is a list of websites that are BlackBerry communities. These are the geeks of BlackBerry. 80% of them have this phone and there are fixes and programs to make this thing disgustingly awesome." He said that he knew about all these sites and said that he couldn't use any of them because he had a Mac. The fact that he thought too long to tell me he had a Mac made me test him. So I start with, "You have a mac [imagine me making that thinking face] then you have Mac OS 9 right?"

He said, "Yeah its awesome! It's fast, and I think I want an iPhone." One thing you should never do is pick an agrument with a geek because they will make you look and feel dumb. My follow-up question, "When did you get it?"

"Last week." He said.

"How did you get Mac OS 9 on it?"

"It came with it." I should have told this guy to stop and tell him that he was lying, but what the hell, that is no fun.

"Well if you got it last week, there is no way. I have a Mac Book Pro and I got mine 6 months ago and I have Mac OS 10.5. But no matter which one you got, it'll work with a BlackBerry because mine works with it."

Customer 1 fails. He leaves and didn't get another phone. His phone will be fixed shortly and he will still not have learned his lesson.

So that being said, I got another customer yesterday that I let get to me, but I think he only got to me because Customer 1 was such an asshole.

So let me set up Customer 2 or as I will call him Dirka Dirka. Dirka Dirka came in Saturday and wanted to upgrade using one of our promotions. Be didn't pay his bill on time so he had a past due, so until he pays it, he can't do anything. He was pissed because, "He mailed it in." That could be true, but the situation still remains, we haven't gotten it so your account is still past due. He understood and said he would be back Monday. That's cool, but I told him 3 times that the promotion he wanted to take advantage of ended on Sunday. He 'said' that he understood but he left anyway.

Monday was here faster than a 18 year old's premature ejaculation. Dirka Dirka came in and of course, like I told him, the promotion had ended and the price of the phone he wanted went up by $50.00. Sorry dude, I told you it was going to happen.

Well customers think that we can do whatever. They think that walking into my store is like walking into a flea market [not my description, but one of my co-workers]. Let's haggle these prices. Well the thing about it is, we can't haggle. The price is what it is. It's already severely discounted.

So as this transaction kept going he said that he wanted to leave my company. He said that [insert any one else here] would do what he asked. Having been around a while, I can tell you without equivocation, no they won't. Every single company out there besides mine, will make you wait until your 24th month to get a new phone at any kind of discount. My company will do it for you every year, if you have a certain price plan, which Dirka Dirka had. I never told him I couldn't do anything, I just told him what I COULD do for him. I could give him a comparable phone for the same price, oh and its brand new too.

He finally just said get him the phone he wants, he will buy it and then switch, but he needed a phone today. I was disgusted. You want me to sell you a phone when you tell me you are going to leave. Ok, cool, because it's resigning your contract for 2 years and you're going to have to pay a fee.

I left and got the phone. I started to ring it out and I had to tell him [its the law] that he is signing a new contract and that he will be subject to a early termination fee of up to $175.00.

He then promptly called me an asshole. I shrug it off. I have been called worse. He then told me that he was NOT getting a discount and the only reason he wasn't getting a discount was because I was a racist. I snapped. I loath being called a racist.

Why? Because it shows 2 things. That I am that closed minded, and that this guy had lied to me enough. He didn't mail in his bill, he made a payment that same day over the phone with a credit card. That was just the beginning.

I told the customer to follow me. I ripped the price tag off the wall and showed him how much the phone he wanted was. It was $409.99. That is the cost it costs me to put this phone on the shelf. I am selling it to you at this price. $199.99 with a rebate of $70.00. He called me an asshole once again, mind you in a lobby FULL of customers. I said that if he called me an asshole one more time that I would gladly send his account up to our regional manger and she will GLADLY cancel your service for being this abusive to an employee who is TRYING to help you out. I don't have to give you this price, I can tell you to go pound salt, just like EVERYOTHER company will. He left very angry and very pissed off, and my blood pressure was so high, my face was red and my hands were shaking.

My manger whisked me away to the back and was laughing. He said, "never have I seen a customer say those things to a rep and the rep never backed down. The rep would have folded and started crying in the back." He said I tried to do the right thing, and had it been him, he didn't think he could keep his cool as long as I did. I told him that I was sorry, but I didn't like being called a racist or an asshole repeatedly. He agreed.

But I broke that rule. I let him get to me. He wasn't mad at me. He was mad at himself and took that frustration out on me and my company because the phone he broke was the source of his anger. It wasn't my fault he threw his phone on the ground in a fit of rage. It wasn't my fault he didn't pay his bill. It wasn't my fault that this guy was a Class A asshole.

Vacation is just 3 days and 14 hours away. I'm not counting down.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


...Mother's Day,Sunday, Early Morning.

I am sitting in my chair. The sun coming from the sliding glass door is refreshing. The cloud from my head is starting to lift, and I am now, awake.

The clock on the new BlackBerry read 6:30am when I initially cracked my eyelids, allowing enough light it to fill my corneas and allow my brain to render an image. It was early. Way too early to be awake on a Sunday. I closed my eyes and tried to find that place. That place you go to in order to find the Sandman. My mother to be was huddled up close to me. The window was cracked open and the temperature dipped last night, so it left a certain chill in the air. With every breath she took, in and out, I tried to mimic. I tried to find the place she was now, so I could join her in refreshing sleep. It was not happening. I could not quiet my mind. Something I can do easily, but now, I am unable.

The groan from the foot of the bed denoted that the dog was now awake. He could probably sense the restlessness in my breathing. The frustration of not being able to sleep. Or the anger of waking up too early. Either way, he was awake too.

I rolled out of bed and downstairs. The dog was put out, fed, and he curled up on the couch and fell back to sleep. Even this was too early for him. Jealousy isn't the word. But it's close.

After been totally geeked out on new operating systems, and 3rd party apps for my new BlackBerry, it felt time to relax. So I did what everyone should do. I went through my RSS feeds and read every blog I subscribe to. Weather they posted recently or not. I just clicked on each blog and read the last post they did. Some of my favorite bloggers posted some recent stuff. Richie @ Linecook, Julie @ Tangobaby, Jules @ Just Jules. I commented on all of them, and back to reading I went.

After reading a few more I got to thinking. This time next year I will have an 8 year old running around the house, and also an 8 month old crawling around the house. I will be equally as tired as I am now, because I will be up with the kids while the mother of the house will be still sleeping and enjoying her day off. I guess this is me conditioning myself for the future.

So here I sit, an early morning on a Mother's day, wishing all the mothers who may read my blog, a happy Mother's day. I hope it's filled with excitment and joy as your children celebrate you all that you do for them.

My mother-to-be is goingto spend her day working, as am I. Retail and restaurants are not the career choices to have if you want to have your weekend unspoiled.

**update. I just noticed that I went from having 18 followers to 17. Today is shaping up to be fun already.**

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Here's the plan

Well well well. I am drawing near to the week off I so desperately need. I have been running myself into the ground for the last 2 months. My last real time off was a year ago when I went on my honeymoon. Now I have had a few long weekends, but for the last year I have worked 5 days, then 2 days off. The monotony is getting to be, although I love my job, the grind is, well, grinding me. I need some time off to recharge the batteries, get back to neutral, then attack my career goals head on again.

Since taking a step back, I have realized that I need some time to regroup. I have accepted responsibility for my wrong doings in my previous role with my company, but I just need some time to regroup now.

The first year of marriage number 2 has been filled with very great moments, and I cannot wait for the years to come, but this has also been a very very stressful year. With trying to purchase our house, to getting some serious debt paid off, we have been on the knife's edge for sometime. We could fall on either side of the coin, riches, or broke. The rest of the year is going to managing our stress levels.

We have good reason to manage this. We have a new child coming and I am very excited for this as is the Wife, but we have so much to decide on. We signed another year in our condo, and I think the Wife has made the decision to move into a house at the end of this lease. Whether we purchase or rent, we need a house. Until then, we have to re-organize our home to make living here more manageable. I am smelling a yard sale, or a mass exodus of crap from our house.

As I am sitting here, griping about the stresses of my job, and the inconvenience of having too much stuff, I think of Mama K and wish there was some way I could make her problems go away.

This leads me into my next project for the vacation. I am going to be traveling to Chicago to visit my brother. His improv team, Legitimate Beef, has agreed to make an appearance on the PodCast. I can only imagine the hilarity that might ensue. It'll be improv so I have no idea what will happen. For part 2 of the vacation, I am going to be coming home. I have reached out to the Ohio Sky to make an appearance, but I also have a back-up band from Cleveland called Doctor Teeeth who has agreed to do whatever and when ever. They rock. Then I am also working to get TangoBaby on the show as well to talk about what she is doing out in San Fransisco with Mama K. She is an unsung hero and I can't wait to talk to her.

I have a busy week planned and I apologize, but it will be a little bit before I can post another PodCast. I know there is only like 3 of you who actually listen to all of them. Sit tight. There are great things to come. I just have to make it through a few more days.

I am....

...a father.

it's the best I could come up with.

This is a sentence started on Jules' blog called Just Jules. Go check her out. She has had a habit of giving stuff away as of late. I would have fun on her blog even if the chances for riches were not there. I wanted to use Audrey and the belly of the wifey, but wifey was not having that.

It's ok.

Jules, consider me entered I guess.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lack of planning on my part

Well for the past few weeks I have posted a podcast. Due to a lack of planning and time on my part, this post is missing a podcast.

I pledge that next week I will be back in action, but I have been very busy getting a jump on this sales month.

I will talk about it more, but I am tired as hell.

To fill time, here, watch this.

My wife and I are pretty stoked about this movie!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Using the tools you have

I posted yesterday about Twitter, Facebook, and my Blog have helped me. Here is a blogger buddy of mine using her blog to do good things in her community.

TangoBaby has been mentioned in many blogs and now we can add community activist to her credentials.

Check out her blog!

I am currently working with Skype to bring you my first ever phone interview with her soon. I will let you know how it all works out.