Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 26, 2021

As mentioned, I extended my stay in New York into this week mainly to help close out some family business related to my father’s death. It didn’t turn out to be an awful lot, but it did take the past two days to do what little needed to be done.

Predictably, a good deal involved dealing with bureaucracy: Mainly getting my dad’s name removed from various accounts and adding/keeping my mom’s name. I wanted to avoid waiting in lines for hours on end, and looked at getting things done online or over the phone.

Sadly, in the case of a death, there’s not very much you can accomplish online. It’s understandable: It involves a major change for the account, and requires something in the way of verificaiton (i.e., death certificate). Upshot, you have to deal person-to-person.

Fortunately, the telephone was almost always an option. After diving through all the maze-like voicemail menus, I was able to get to the right person and do what needed to be done.

The only spot where I ran into significant interference was, predictably, the Social Security Administration. I’ll bypass the details here, but the options came down to either getting the administrative changes done via phone, or else heading down to the local office and waiting for a few hours.

I managed to get everything done (I hope) on the phone, and found out a couple of simple ways to get such things done when dealing with bureaucratic drones:

1. Call early in the day, as soon as the lines open

2. Latch onto a cooperative customer service rep (and try multiple times to find one if necessary)

Aside from the other obvious steps, like having all your info at hand when calling, the above proved to be invaluable when dealing with Social Security. The early thing wasn’t ideal for me, the anti-morning person, but it was well worth it: Their call volume is a lot lower, and there’s a stronger chance of getting things done.

The second part is a bit trickier. I wound up having to speak with three different people on three different calls. The first guy was very cooperative and a breeze to work with; unfortunately, I forgot to take care of one thing, and ended up having to call back.

I got a bi-otch on the second call, who proceeded to make me jump through every conceivable hoop before telling me that she couldn’t help me, and that I’d have to go to the local office to take care of the problem.

After that, it was late in the day, and I figured I’d try my luck the next morning with a third call. The third person I got was somewhere in between the previous two: She was a hard-ass to start off with, but then actually went to work for me after we went through the preliminaries. I wound up not having to go to the local office, and closed out business with that early (before 8AM) phone call.

So, I’d say that if you get a power-tripping CSR on your first shot, just end the call as quickly as possible (however you choose to do so), and just call back and cross your fingers. Odds are you’ll get someone, eventually, who’ll actually help you.

This kind of clean-up detail is unavoidable in this sort of situation. It went relatively smoothly, and, if nothing else, is valuable for future reference.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/26/2005 04:59:08 PM
Category: Society
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face off
I haven’t seen them lately, but I recall that, at the start of Spring Training, Nike started running new versions of its “Warriors” spots featuring MLB players. Maybe they didn’t test as well as the earlier ones with NFL players, and were pulled; or maybe they’re still running, and I’m not catching them because I don’t watch baseball.

It occured to me that, if the NHL season had come off this year, we might have been treated to a hockey edition of this kabuki-like imagery. Just one more casualty of the lockout…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/26/2005 10:15:27 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Sports
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What’s life like in New York State’s Mid-Hudson Valley, where I’ve spent close to three weeks now?

It’s the kind of place where a mild-mannered, 47-year-old police dispatcher and avid bowler can turn into a thieving music promoter with pierced nipples, all thanks to the evil influence of a third-rate rock band.

His colleagues say [Jim Dunlap’s] downfall has its roots in rock.

Last year, Dunlap began hanging out with a collection of twenty-somethings, musicians who call themselves Human X, and who favor face tattoos, gloomy song lyrics and powerful guitar riffs.

The local rock scene gave Dunlap a glimpse of a world he’d never known in isolated Highland Falls, surrounded as it is by the West Point military academy and hemmed in the mountains of the Hudson Valley, friends speculate.

“I think he found something he felt a part of for the first time in his life,” said Officer Doug LaPerche, PBA vice president. “And things got out of control.”

Yeah. I need to get back to Florida, now. Before some dorks with face tattoos mesmerize me toward my downfall.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/26/2005 09:34:55 AM
Category: Society
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