Friday, May 30, 2014

Weekly Student Writing Sample

This week's sample comes from Rachel A. from the 2013 New Britain institute. Enjoy!

We all woke up five days ago. Nobody knows where we are or what really happened. We all have our theories. Already the people who think they are smarter and more knowledgeable than everyone else formed a tiny government. They boss us around and bark orders all day long. This ‘government’ wrote a new constitution yesterday. It didn't take them very long. Considering it was mostly what they wanted our new continent, Gelum to be like. We aren't aloud to use any of the trees on the north side, and only the lanky ones that line the town. The government wants to preserve them. The only purposes we are allowed have when chopping the skinny ones down is for housing and fire wood.Then they all just signed it at the bottom. Together as a community we named the land all the population was brought to; Village. So what if it wasn't original? I guess the better thing to say is we had more on our minds.

We didn't have any resources. Only trees for wood, rock and small plants. We also had some of the things from our past that drifted along with us. Otherwise, we really didn't have much to survive with. The frigid climate made for hard core living style.

Most people were clueless. I knew what was going on though. Despite my memory loss. You could figure it out for yourself if you tried. Village was slightly inland on the shoreline. If you looked out on the horizon over the ocean, you couldn't expect to see anything. There was not a tree in sight.Our terrain was hills of rock. If you sought a message in the stars, you would be disappointed. I didn't know what happened to planet earth, but I had my mind made up - it was something big, and it was definitely something bad. I couldn't tell just what it was, there were no signs of a natural disaster. This was all so mysterious and intriguing, how could you not wonder?

That was pretty much the rundown of everything buzzing around my mind. I stretched and curled up again in my furs. Village looked like a bee hive, with all the make believe houses. Draped skins in circles around the fire is all we could manage. We lived in huts out of wooden posts with animal skins tied up along them. The posts lean in to a point in the middle; and the furs bind them together. Our community is a circle of these, with one big bonfire in the center. We have to feed it by the hour, like an animal.The citizens there scrambled to find an occupation, or more like some warmth. I could see them through the flaps of the furs and someone was approaching. It was my father. He had thick fur coating all over. He looked like a bear I couldn't help but chuckle!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Customer Service - A Writer's Challenge

I usually don't enjoy calling customer service lines. More often than not I end up frustrated for one of many reasons, and the call ends without any sense of satisfaction.
Don't actually click this. No one will chat with you

However, I do enjoy customer service "chats," those pop-up chats that allow you to talk to representative with generic names like "James" and "Sally." One of my favorite things to do when using customer service chats is to bait the representative into getting off topic. I try to get a reaction or response, but almost never get either from well-trained (or indifferent) representatives. I consider it a true writer's challenge to try to wordsmith a reaction or break in "character," and as hard as I try, I very rarely succeed.

That was until tonight.

I went to pay my cable bill online, and noticed a discrepancy in my account. That's how the chat started; here's how it evolved.

Nick Chanese: Sarah, I would like to check two things. First, I thought I saw on my web profile that I have 2 receivers. That is incorrect; I only have one and returned the second months ago. I want to make sure I'm not being charged for two. Second, I would like to remove Showtime from my package
Sarah: I can help you with that!
Sarah: Please allow me a moment, while I access your account.
Nick Chanese: No problem
Sarah: Thank you, Nick
Nick Chanese: Still there?
Sarah: Yes, I am working on your account.
Nick Chanese: Alright - sorry to interrupt
Sarah: I have a good news for you.
Nick Chanese: Did I win a puppy?
Sarah: Thank you Nick for waiting, I appreciate your patience.
Sarah: I would like to inform you that I have reduce your monthly bill.
Sarah: I can see that there is no promotional discount active on your account.
Sarah: Due to which your monthly bill is high.
Sarah: We value you as a customer.
Sarah: I have reduce your monthly bill by adding a new promotions on your account.
Sarah: Does that sound great to you?
Nick Chanese: Yes, but I assume that means that I did NOT win a puppy, and also you did not answer the two issues that I started with (the extra receiver and Showtime)
Sarah: And also I have removed the receiver fee from your account and I have removed Showtime from your account.
Nick Chanese: Great. For how long have I been charged for the extra receiver, because my guess would be I am due for a retroactive credit - since I was paying for something I did not have.
Sarah: Please be assured, their is no receiver fee on your account.
Nick Chanese: "there" not "their"
Sarah: I am sorry, for my typing mistake.
Nick Chanese: Sorry - I'm an English teacher
Nick Chanese: It's a reflex
Sarah: Please accept my apology.
Sarah: Great!
Sarah: No problem.
Nick Chanese: Please don't apologize.
Sarah: I respect you, Nick
Sarah: I can see that there is a TV reciver fee and Internet equipment fee on your account.
Sarah: So I have removed both fees from your account for 1 year.
Sarah: And I can see that there is a late payment fee on your account.
Nick Chanese: Sarah...Put your hand on your screen because my hand is on my screen. We are giving each other an internet high-five
Sarah: My hands are also on my screen.
Sarah: Yeah..
Nick Chanese: Is that the first internet high-five you've ever had?
Sarah: Yes, you are correct.
Nick Chanese: I am honored to be the first
Sarah: Sure.
Sarah: I would like to inform you that I will provide you a credit on your current bill for late fee.
Nick Chanese: This has been quite a chat tonight Sarah. You saved me money; we had an internet high five; you're sending me a puppy as a prize....
Sarah: How does that sound to you?
Sarah: I appreciate your patience, I am glad to confirm that I have waived $10.00 from your account.
Sarah: You will be able to view these changes within next few minutes on your online account.
Nick Chanese: I'm hugging my monitor. Hug your monitor and you will receive my internet hug of gratitude
Sarah: Please be assured, from next month onwards your monthly bill will be of ... plus Taxes.
Nick Chanese: It's powers of ten more special than an internet high five
Sarah: Top of that you are getting U-450 TV service and 18Mbps Internet speed.
Nick Chanese: WHAT?
Sarah: I’m always looking for ways to help my customers save money.
Nick Chanese: Now you are out of control
Sarah: Yes, this is true.
Nick Chanese: You have gone rogue! You are drunk on the power of the Direct TV acquisition!
Sarah: In ... per month I am providing you U-450 and 18Mbps Internet speed.
Nick Chanese: What's the catch Sarah? How long can I live in this Eden of telecommunications? This is where you tell me this is only for 3 months...thus crushing my spirits
Sarah: Did I able to give a smile on your face today?
Nick Chanese: You have punched me square in the jaw with your fist of savings
Sarah: I would like to inform you that the promotional offers are for complete 1 year on your Internet service.
Sarah: And you will have 3 months promotional discount on your TV service.
Sarah: I request you to please contact us again once the promotions expire and we will add a new promotions again on your account.
Nick Chanese: I KNEW IT! Do I have to call back in 3 months to cancel or will it automatically disappear in 3 months
Sarah: Since you are a valuable customer of AT&T.
Sarah: I will add a notes on your account that you will get the best promotions in future.
Nick Chanese: How valuable? Would you say I'm the most valuable, very valuable, or just kinda valuable?
Sarah: I would like to inform you that you will get a notification on your registered AT&T email id when your promotions will get expire.
Nick Chanese: And then I will sign back into chat, where I will ONLY speak to you Sarah, and you will get me a kitten to go along with the puppy that I should expect in 3-6 weeks
Sarah: You are most valuable customer, Nick
Nick Chanese: My neighbors have Uverse. I'm going next door to tell them that I'm more valuable than they are after we're done here
Sarah: Ohoo
Nick Chanese: Oooh is right.
Nick Chanese: They are going to be so jealous of me
Sarah: Okay.
Sarah: Ya sure.
Nick Chanese: Especially when they see the puppy
Sarah: Nick, I have one question for you.
Sarah: May I?
Nick Chanese: Shoot Sarah
Nick Chanese: ask away
Sarah: Nick from where I will get puppy for you?
Nick Chanese: I would prefer a rescue organization. They do good work
Sarah: I am very much worried about that.
Nick Chanese: You call them, have AT&T foot the bill, and I'll go pick it up
Nick Chanese: We can do the kitten first if that's easier. There's a cat shelter right down the road from me
Sarah: Okay.
Sarah: Yes, that is a good idea.
Nick Chanese:
Nick Chanese: You pick the kitten. I trust your judgement
Sarah: Thank you for the information.
Sarah: Okay.
Nick Chanese: I'll even let you name him/her
Sarah: Nick, I have one more good news for you.
Nick Chanese: You already picked out the kitten?
Sarah: No, not yet.
Nick Chanese: Sorry - jumped the gun. JUST SO EXCITED FOR A KITTEN!
Sarah: I am work right now, and my system does not allow to access the website.
Sarah: I am sorry for that.
Sarah: Please accept my apology.
Sarah: I promise I will do that from my home computer.
Nick Chanese: Use your smartphone. I'll keep typing so your boss thinks your working
Nick Chanese: So about that .....hmmm......Let's talk about upload speeds
Sarah: I love to do that.
Nick Chanese: (he doesn't suspect a thing)
Nick Chanese: you're
Sarah: But we do not have a our phone with us.
Nick Chanese: I made a type
Sarah: They are in lockers.
Nick Chanese: typo
Nick Chanese: now we're even
Nick Chanese: that's oppressive. It's time to rise up against your oppressors. Spread the word in the call center
Sarah: Okay.
Sarah: I want to make sure I have addressed all your concerns and was able to make you a very satisfied customer by the end of the chat.
Nick Chanese: We saved money, we internet high-fived AND internet hugged, you promised me new pets. I don't see how it could have gone any better, Sarah.
Sarah: Thank you so much!! Nick
Sarah: It's been a "great pleasure" to be at your service today!! I must admit you have been the most polite and patient customer I have ever dealt with in many days now.
Sarah: You can click the RED X button at the right hand side of the chat window when you are ready to exit.
Sarah: Your feedback will be appreciated after this chat.
Nick Chanese: Thanks Sarah. Have a great night. You can send the animal names to the email address on record
Sarah: Thank you for being the best part of .... Take good care of yourself & have a wonderful time with your family and friends ahead!!
Sarah: Sure, I will.
Sarah: Have a great night. Bye!! Take Care!!
Nick Chanese: Peace out homeslice

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CCSWP At Highcrest PTO Meeting Thursday

CCSWP Director Nick Chanese will be speaking at the Highcrest PTO meeting in Wethersfield this Thursday.

The meeting starts at 7pm. Please come by to learn more about what the CCSWP offers.

 Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You - Happy Star Wars Day

A treasure from Cover Art Gallery
I gladly accept and admit my deep-seated nerdery when it comes to Star Wars. I still get shivers at the score; will still drop everything if I see any of the films on cable; will secretly pine for the Lego Death Star, which costs four times more than the Blu-Ray filmography

When the original trilogy was re-released with all the improvements and enhancements, my friend Andy and I went to opening night for all three. After one we went to Toys R Us and bought light sabers and proceeded to have a light saber battle in the parking lot. I won't tell you how old we were, but suffice to say we drove ourselves there. In all honesty, I would probably do it again today. 

I also attended opening night over each film of the "new" trilogy. Each time it was an internal struggle. It was like watching Michael Jordan play for the Wizards. There were hints of former greatness, but everyone knew in his or her heart that time had compromised the magic. I saw "Episode I" five times. Each time I hoped that maybe it would change. Maybe I would understand why Jar-Jar Binks existed, or I would learn to accept young Anikan's wooden dialogue and abominable delivery. But I never did; at least there was a great fight scene at the end. 

Dwindling quality aside, Star Wars is still canon in American film and in American culture. Why else would J.J. Abrams decide to make three new films? Why else would the original cast decided to revive their characters thirty years later? Why would Disney spend the GDP of a small country to buy the rights? Because people love it, and they can't get enough of it. 

Another find from the
Cover Art Gallery
Any why do people love it? Why do they want more and more? Because it's the oldest form of story telling. Joseph Campbell knew this; Lucas knew it. Star Wars is myth. The growth of a boy to a man. The conflicts of parents and their children. The old vs. the new. Freedom vs oppression. The spiritual vs. the mechanical. Honor, glory, betrayal, vengeance, regret, forgiveness, hope. Old wine in new bottles, but oh how we love the bottles. 

We love Star Wars for the same reasons people love Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. They all tell the most basic story: the human story. But to tell that story with a touch of fantasy, that's when it's something special.