Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dance! Dance! and "CSR"

Okay, so I love the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" or sytycd for short (as if you couldn't tell by the fact that I friended both Benji and Lacey Schwimmer on my MySpace. Benji only had a few thousand friends when I found his page, now he has over 27,000!).

Anyway, so whenever I watch the show, I itch to dance too. I'm not great, but I took some dance classes while at BYU (jazz, modern, ballet, ballroom, etc.) and just LOVED it. At my gym they offer a dance class on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I hadn't previously gone because I like exercising in the afternoon, not at 8:30 at night, but after watching the new season of sytycd for the past few weeks, I was itching too much not to.

So last night I went over there. I knew it would be a popular class, so I arrived 10 minutes early. There were already about 6 people there. By the time class started, the room was full (about 40 people). The teacher immediately went into the warmups and I was pretty proud of myself for keeping up. A lot of the warmup was similar to things I did in my jazz classes to warmup, so it wasn't too bad (even though it's been 6 years since I took a class).

Then we went on to learn a routine. It didn't seem like anyone knew it, so I am guessing she does a different one each class, but I won't know for sure till the next class. It's basically a hiphop class, but it's called Dirty Dancing, so a lot of the moves are supposed to be sexy. Our teacher says we have to either look sexy or cool at all times. I'm not sure if I pulled it off, but I tried.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and great exercise. I will have to remember to bring water next time. I was starting to feel faint towards the end. I haven't been doing a lot of cardio lately, mostly just pilates, which is great for building muscle, but doesn'treally work the heart. I think dancing is the perfect exercise for me. The semester before I got married, I was dancing 14 hours a week and had lost 10 pounds (which I quickly gained back because I went from that to not exercising at all). I didn't really even notice that it was exercise because I was enjoying it so much, so it's great to be doing it again. I will definitely go again!

On to the next subject, "CSR". Unfortunately, this is not as exciting as CSI and the C doesn't stand for Crime. No, it stands for Customer Service Representative. After we were acquired, we went into a hiring freeze. Well, two days before it was official, one of our CSRs quit with two days' notice (talk about rude!). So we've been down one CSR since (for over 2 months). Well, then this week, one of the CSRs left for vacation, leaving us one CSR to route all the calls that come into our department. Obviously, that is very tough, so to relieve him, my manager, who is also over the CSRs, asked me and another co-worker to help by filling in for the week a few hours a day. I, of course, agreed despite wanting to say no because I couldn't really say no to my boss, plus I felt bad for the CSR being so overwhelmed.

Well, in the morning, it was my co-worker's turn to help. We had decided to split the 5 hours of coverage in half, so she would take 2.5 hours, and I would take 2.5 hours. Well, she was having issues getting started yesterday, and didn't start actually taking calls till about an hour before she was to finish. Exactly at the end time, she was off the phone. I'm like, "You were only on for about an hour."

She said, "Well, I was in training before that."

"Well, I trained for like 5 hours last week." (She was on vacation which is why she didn't.)


So basically I had to work an hour and a half more than her (two and a half including the extra hour I volunteered). I guess I should expect this. She shows up between a half hour and hour late every day and yet always leaves on time, even if she takes an hour and half lunch break. Since her schedule is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. that means there are days where she only works 5.5 hours, and on average only works about 30 to 35 hours a week. What's even more annoying is she's been going around to everyone acting like a martyr basically saying, "Oh, wo is me. I have to be a CSR this week. Oh, but I'll get through, even if just barely. Aren't I so wonderful for helping out." As if. She's only done it for an hour so far! Obviously, she doesn't say those exact words, but you get the idea.

So after she was done, I went on for my shift. For the first few calls, the CSR listened in to make sure I did everything correctly (at my request). Then I started to feel confident enough that I told him I was ready to go alone. The whole afternoon went surprisingly well and even when I could technically stop helping, I continued to help for another hour till it was time for me to go home. There was one call where the guy had lost the CDs to a product we put out years ago, and I was able to help him figure out a way to get the product downloaded. He was SO grateful, which made me feel so good. I am hoping it continues to go well all week.

So that's my life, as a CSR.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Update: Brandon posted the first two chapters to this book on his Web site here. Check it out.

A friend of mine is publishing a series of YA fantasy through Scholastic. The first one comes out this year. Since I have connections, I got to read the book already (as well as giving feedback on the second one). I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Although it's for YA readers, this series will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It's a really fun book full of humor, suspense, creativity, an awesome and original magic system, and . . . well . . . Evil Librarians. Where can you go wrong?

Here is a mockup of what the cover is likely to look like.

It's scheduled to be released October 1, 2007. If you want to keep updated on what Brandon is up to, check out his Web site

Monday, June 4, 2007

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End

So I saw this movie on Saturday. My company rented out like four theaters inside a movie complex. It was fun to see a movie in a regular theater (stadium seating) rather than the dollar movie theater. We only do so about once a year. We were almost late because I turned off the freeway in the wrong direction. We were walking in as they were showing the previews.

Overall, I really liked this movie. I don't understand why some people didn't like it. It was a fun creative story that somewhat tied up the storyline (esp. with the scene after the credits). Some feel that the storyline is covoluted and hard to follow, but I really didn't have much trouble at all knowing what was going on. And I felt it made sense inside the Pirates universe. Meh.

Although some people are speculating that there is a way for Will to leave the ship alive (I really don't know how. If you know, please explain). Also, the fountain of youth thing points to a fourth. If that's the case, then why is it they filmed the second and third together, but haven't started on a fourth? Maybe they want to see how At World's End does first. And if they can get the actors to do another.  Hmmm . . .

Overall, I think it's a movie worth seeing in the theaters. I didn't realize how long it was. I think after the previews, the movie started around 9:15 a.m. and ended at noon. But it didn't feel too long—I had no idea how late it was.

And, well, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner is just hot. So what can I say. I really don't understand those who think Jack Sparrow is hot. How can you think a guy is hot who acts drunk and crazy all the time (although I admit, Johnny Depp is hot and him in the Jack-Sparrow getup is pretty hot. The character isn't, though. If that makes sense). I was watching the first Pirates movie last night during commercials, and it's interesting how Will and Elizabeth have changed since that first movie, where Will was so against the idea of his father being a pirate, and now he's a pirate. Jack's prophecy of, "You're of pirate's blood and you'll have to deal with that one day" certainly came true (and that's a paraphrase. I can't remember exactly what he said). 

I've heard some say that you should just forget that the second movie exists and just skip right from the first to the third (understanding the couple of key points from the second movie). I don't know. It's been so long since I've seen the second to remember why I did or didn't like it. 

Well, anyway. Yay, Pirates of the Carribean.

Update: Primary Class

So I've officially been teaching my Primary class for 4 weeks. I think I'm getting into a groove now. It's interesting: out of the 4 weeks, we've only had 2 kids come more than once (they both have come 3 out of the 4 weeks). We've had 6 other kids only come one time each in those 4 weeks, so if they all came, we'd have 8 kids in class, but the most we've had at once is 4 and last week (Memorial Day weekend), we only had 1! 

So yesterday we tried something new. One of the kids in class (we'll call him Wiggly Coyote), the only boy , incidentally, cannot sit still! I can't decide if he's ADHD or just really active. One of the girls says he's not like this at home; I assume that's because he doesn't have to sit relatively still at home. So Husband talked to his mom (because his step-brother is ADHD) and she suggested using Play-doh. 

So yesterday we offered the Play-doh to each of the kids. We told them that they had to follow the rules for the Play-doh or we'd take it away (i.e. still participate and pay attention, only play with in your hands, don't mix yours with your neighbor's, etc.). It went really well. It was mostly for Wiggly Coyote, but we didn't feel it fair to only give him the Play-doh. But Coyote was actually answering questions and getting something out the lesson. He also did not bother his neighbors very much (where last time, he was constantly distracting them by poking them and talking to them and such). Overall, I think the kids got about the same out of the lesson, yet had more fun. Hopefully this will encourage those who don't come often, to come more.