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Monday, 21 February 2011

Quality verses quantity ...

How many times have you heard the above phrase?

It was a constant, key theme for me in the CAB service.  Any bureau with a good level of service will have queues - both on the phone and in the waiting room.  The problem with hurrying through the clients enquiry is that you might miss an important piece of information that could resolve their problem ... and more often than not, it would be in a complex area of law.  So as an advice worker, casework supporter or manager - it was essential that all the relevant facts were explored.

When I look at customer services operatives in companies nowadays, it's clear that they all have a deadline to meet per call.  They're under pressure to end the call, relevant information isn't then digested, assumptions are made based on misinformation and 'bang!' - they're trying to terminate the call.

I had to phone up 'Nectar' this morning because my account had been frozen.  I couldn't access it on the net.  I was told by a phone operative that the account had been closed because I hadn't used my card in the last 12 months.  I told him that wasn't the case and that I had been purchasing fuel regularly from the station around the corner.  He said that I had probably accidentally used someone elses card or key fob instead of mine.  After having explained to him why that was not possible, he said that he would open up another account for me.  Luckily I found a receipt that listed a 'Nectar' account number from the last time that I'd swiped mine ... and it wasn't my account number.  It resulted from swiping my fob though.  We ended up on the 'you must have swiped somebody else's fob by mistake'.   I'm thinking - 'yes, that's what I do - I forget the fob that's on my key ring and I reach back to the person behind me in the queue and I swipe MY points onto THEIR cards for the hell of it.

I eventually get to a call supervisor - surprise surprise - the version of events that the manager has bare no resemblance to the facts of the complaint.  So I start all over again!

If you have a Nectar account - check your statements as this is a regular occurence and it stems from this:  Operatives from retail outlets are told to 'Scan' your cards or fobs - NOT to swipe them on card readers.  When they're swiped - your points may end up on someone else's account - so swiped indeed!  So insist on your nectar fob being scanned! As directed by Senior Nectar Customer Services operative.

Best way to check if your account is active is to log in online, as they don't send you any notification to say that they've closed your account down.  http://www.nectar.com/my-account.points is the link you need.

I had to persist to get them to address the issues raised here.  They're going to check the other account - setup a new account for me and transfer the points they closed down - plus all of my points that have been going to this unnamed person somewhere in the country.

Have a good Monday,


Friday, 11 February 2011

The flu's almost gone ...

Yucky, yucky, yuck, yuck!

If you've had it this year, you'll know.  What a horrible virus!

So, at the moment I'm putting my travel insurance claim together and then hopefully getting back on track.  I hope to get some snow and ice shots before the stuff melts but spring's made an announcement - it's coming!  Actually, it's tentatively here, according to the snowdrops and crocuses that have flowered in my garden.  The look beautiful by the way. 

I ordered lots of seeds for the border in the front garden this year.  I'm going poppy mad.  The UK variety mixed in with blue Himalayan poppies and some meadow flowers.  It should look good and the poppies should keep coming back.

The poems are coming along nicely.  I'm halfway through compiling a second volume.  I've also started back on my travel photography book too.

Here's to being able to go to a salsa do somewhere this weekend  : )


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Letting my mind wander...

As we continually build and extend our boundaries around our towns and cities, as well as using up more and more of whatever green land is left within their boundaries, we push more species out of their natural habitats.  Foxes HAVE to come and forage for food amongst human waste.  That in iteslf is one of the crimes modern day English society is guilty of.  The food chain of the fox is also affected by utilising chemical warfare, caused by the Myxoma virus - Myxomatosis was introduced to the UK after WWII to control the rabbit population. 

I hear conflicting reports about whether the virus is still used to control the rabbit population on these lands.  It perhaps sheds light though on why some foxes will wipe out the entire population of a chicken shed and bury the carcasses as food stores for later.  As in all species, there will always be an individual that acts out of character.  If a human being goes on a killing rampage, people will allow for that as 'not normal behaviour', thinking themselves to be superior to all other beings on the planet, and perhaps in the Universe, but if another animal such as a fox or a wolf were to kill off their livestock - those animals will be regarded as out of control, driven by blood lust and whatever other labels society sees fit to place on them.

Bird life is also affected by human habitat development.  As one animal pushes out its boundaries, a species lower down the food chain will suffer.  The RSPB reported reduced numbers of common garden birds last year and a drop in the numbers of migrant species.  I would theorize that there's some commonality between the plight of the fox and our feathered friends.

It's good to see home owners in cities trying to address the lack of balance by leaving food out for birds, foxes, hedgehogs and whatever other visitors frequent their gardens.  Further out in the wilds though, eagles, osprey and various other protected and unprotected species are being killed off - some by poison, some baited by traps.  Poison's the gift that keeps on taking though as it's transfered form being to being.  You only have to look at the dangerous run offs from some farms to see what's being added to our rivers and streams.

It all presents a question that seems to be continually swept under the rug:  What are the government doing about population control in the UK?  Should we as humans be allowed to continually reproduce and expand our communities and develop new towns and cities to the detriment of other species that have the same right to live?  Will other species have to be near extinction before something is done to protect them?  If so - will it then be too late?  When are we going to stop poisoning the land and waters around us?

How many humans give a second glance, let alone a second thought to other creatures that inhabit their communites?  The only hope for the future of wildlife in the UK, as always, lies with the young.  Our generation's not effective enough in protecting the greenbelt, the government's warning about having to build 60 new towns is evidence of that.

Humans are living longer, euthanasia is still illegal in the UK - so severally ill people are forced to continue to live against their will - and the NHS continues to complain about a shortage of beds for patients.  Their relatives relatives desperate to find a dignified ending for their loved ones.

Populations continue to increase and so does the demand for affordable housing.  House prices are continually being pushed up as a result of the wealthy buying up properties in poorer areas.  Property has always been a good investment but the by-product is that local people in areas of poverty are unable to buy a home for their families in their locale and Local Authorities are shedding housing stock and ill-equipped to deal with the housing shortage in the country.

As has become the norm in this country, people, governments and politicians seek answers to their part of the task rather than looking at how their particular problem fits the whole equation.  Joined up thinking ended up flushed away years ago.  We're now a nation run by limited minds with deep pockets that understand one language - greed.  Where there is greed there will always be corruption.  The property buying is reaching into the poorer quarters of Europe now as sister nations are now being raped by the property owners of the 'civilised' world.  I was having a conversation on a flight with a businessman whose sole mission was to visit the Czech Republic and similar areas for the sole task of purchasing cheap property.  I doubt that the locals will have considered the issue properly before selling.  You only have to look in areas like Cornwall in the UK to see what this behaviour does to the local populace.

Some political sources felt that the moment a current government raises the issues of euthanasia and population control, they'll have committed political suicide.  If you don't raise the difficult questions with regard to human responsibilities and communities for fear of losing power, how do you hope to educate and reform human behaviour with regards to responsible living?

All of the issues raised in this post are connected.  As a great voice once said:

'Every part of this earth is sacred.

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy. The rocky crest, the meadow, the beasts and all the people, all belong to the same family.

Teach your children that the earth is our mother.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.
We are part of the earth, and the earth is a part of us.  The rivers are our brothers; they quench our thirst.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The air is precious, for all of us share the same breath.  The wind that gave our grandparents breath also receives their last sigh.  The wind gave our children the spirit of life.

This we know, the earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.
This we know, all things are connected.  Like the blood which unites one family, all things are connected.'

From an oration of Chief Seattle,

Native American, U.S.A., 19th Century

How many rivers can you still drink from in the UK?  How many people are aware of the 'spirit of life'?  What else has to disappear or go into decline before people in the UK wake up and read the writing on the wall?  I guess the same goes for the USA.  Instead of creating wars to to control the resources of other countries, we need to be putting the same amount of effort and funding into cleaning up our own backyards; instead of dumping dangerous chemicals in our rivers and oceans and killing off species of animlas that have more right to live on the Earth than us - simply because they live in tune with it, they don't contaminate it, destroy it or kill as we do.

Here's an example of something:  We've had the technology for electric cars for quite some time now.  Oil doesn't have to rule the world's commerce any longer.  However, the oil barons want their money, so they won't permit the mass production of electric cars - they'll be left with huge amounts of oil that will last a lot longer than anticipated.  You can get anyone to produce a paper to state whether something is viable or not - but do you really believe that the time hasn't come for deisel and petrol vehicles to be taken off the production lines?  Hybrid cars are the half-way house.  'Yeah - go ahead and buy the hybrid, we can still palm some oil and fuel off on you that way!' Big Wink.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Flu's a pain in the @rse ...

Play was stopped last week owing to a visit to the surgery for some paperwork.  A large male homo erectus was coughing loudly and deeply all over everyone in the waiting room and had about as much of a social conscience as Adolf (yes THE Adolf).

It's a sign of the times though isn't it?  It made me think of my time in the NHS.  I used to work as an IT engineer in Cornwall.  You were given a geographical area of responsibilitiy and told to get on with it basically.  I'll never forget some of the things that I saw though in the lack of responsibility in the medical staff:  doctors and nurses coming in sick and with obvious cold and flu symptoms, a lack of hygene when going from area to area and the ever present 'Come in for treatment for your own ailment and get a bonus disease OR condition FREE from us for when you leave!!!'

Is it fair to leave the blame for cross-contamination on the NHS staff though?  In some circumstances - yes - definitely.  If you're a health professional and you know that you have a highly contagious condition, you have no business taking it in to the hospital environment.  There is NO excuse.  However, NHS managers put doctors, nurses and ancilliary staff under a lot of increasing pressure with regard to time off for sickness.  Various policies and procedures were introduced to the Royal Cornwall Hospital to try to curtail the amount of sick days that staff were taking off.  The end result was that you could be disciplined if you had too many and could lose pay.  Hence staff dragging themselves into work with highly contagious diseases, cross contamination in areas that should be sterile (eg operating theatres etc).  Hospitals can be very stressful environments to work in - stress reduces the body's ability to cope with illnesses - see the connection?  Maybe the managers need to give the genuinely ill workers a break?

If you're ill with the flu - stay home and keep it to yourself ... sharing isn't always nice : )  If you're about and about and are coughing and sneezing, use a frigging hankie or tissue!  Remember that old advert?  'Coughs and sneezes spread diseases'.


Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
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