Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Form-lettered...

A couple days ago, I posted a customer service help request I submitted to Chase Online regarding their online prequalification process. In other words.... it didn't work. I'll admit I took a bit of artistic license with the help request. Today I got form lettered. The issue I had with the website goes unaddressed, and I've decided maybe JPMorganChase really doesn't want my business. Apparently, their "Highest level of Quality Service.", is giving me a couple of phone numbers I already had, and believe it or not, dialed, before attempting the online pre-qualification... I was told repeatedly by a very nice recorded voice that my call was very important to them, or some such, and to please continue holding... yeah.. I hung up after five minutes,
,

Anyway, full response is below.




Dear Michael Jordan:

I am writing in response to your recent inquiry regarding
a purchase of a home. We apologize for any online issues
you encountered.

Please contact 1 of our Chase Loan Officers who will be
able to assist you with your questions and will be able to
help you with the preapproval process, please call
1-866-712-1283.

If you would prefer for a Loan Officer to call you, please
provide your best contact phone number.

Chase is committed to providing the highest level of
quality service. If you have questions about your current
mortgage, please contact Customer Care at 1-800-848-9136.

We appreciate your business and value our relationship
with you.

Thank you,
Chase Online Inquiries

Friday, August 10, 2012


I made a mistake today. I attempted to deal with Corporate America today without taking my daily dose of Fukitol (tm), Here is the result...


Dear Chase.com Customer Service:

In attempting to see what sort of home loan I could qualify for, I encountered a problem that could frustrate, infuriate, cause current account holders to fall into seething, frothing fits of rage. The first couple of steps are easy and trouble-free. Then comes the question "Are you a current account holder?" and "Do you have a User ID?" I said yes to both, because I am and I do. I entered them both and my password when asked, and I was redirected to a log in page. I logged in.

 Again.

Then I was taken to my main accounts page. No prompt to continue the pre-qualification process, just


 "Here's your accounts,Yo!"

I figured I screwed up somewhere. so I tried again, reading all instructions with great care. I followed the steps. "Your accounts, Good Sir!" Said your responsive and efficient database.

Again, I assumed the problem was on my end. I read carefully, followed directions and once again. "Yeah...your accounts. Why do you keep logging in?"






Okay, I made that last bit up, nor do I believe your servers talk to me, but if prequalifying is this frustrating, I'd rather find a large rock and pound my head against it until I've hollowed out a domicile from it, or more likely, rent forever, than pursue a Home Loan.

Please, tell me all home lenders aren't like this? Or is it like admittance to a Buddhist Monastic Order? Do I need to log in for 3 days and night before I'm allowed to see if I prequalify? This is my first time buying a home and the whole process is foreign to me.

Help me, JPMorganChase, you're my only hope. (Well, not really, but as banks go you seem less evil than most)

Sincerely,
--Mike Jordan

Yes, this is a nearly exact copy of the email I sent to chase.com's customer service team, I made a few formatting changes, and added the pictures, because, well, refer to the frog. The automated system promised a reply in two business days. We'll see. Or Must I really repeatedly log-in for three days and nights? 



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wreckage



The scariest time in the writing process is pulling the trigger and putting your work out there. I don't feel that with this one. It was never intended for public consumption. I wrote it for myself originally, in an attempt to make sense of my feelings after a family member passed. It was unexpected, sudden, and her choice. We don't use the s-word anymore.

This work is copyrighted July 2012, by Mike Jordan. It may be freely reprinted, republished and redistributed, so long as it is done so in it's entirety and as the original publication (this page) and author (Mike Jordan) are cited.

Hopefully someone considering actions similar to my aunt's will read it and change their mind.







Wreckage

The first time I saw my grandfather shed a tear was at my grandmother’s funeral. I had held it together until then. Granny wasn’t in pain anymore. She was ready to go. She was at peace and I could accept that. But when Grandpa put his hand on that coffin and let out that one quiet sigh, it was too much. His pain rocked me to the core. The lump rose in my throat and tears ran down my face.

My grandfather is a strong man and he raised strong children. My father, my uncles and my aunt, I can only hope I inherited a fraction of it. Recently that strength was tested again. My aunt, who wasn’t always my aunt, passed unexpectedly at her own choice.

I wouldn’t call us particularly close. That’s my fault not hers. Truth is; I’m not particularly close to anyone. This isn’t some stupid macho chest-thumping, “I don’t need anyone!” bullshit. It’s the act of a coward; I instinctively shy away from close personal connections, because of the fear that losing those people would utterly destroy me.

When I say she wasn’t always my aunt, I mean when I first met Ardie as a boy, she was my uncle’s girlfriend, then my uncle’s fiancĂ©. The day before my tenth birthday, she became my uncle’s wife. My aunt.

I remember my Dad remarking that his baby brother had “done good.” I remember my mother handing me a dollar bill and putting me in line for the dollar dance at the reception. I remember seeing how happy they were. I remember the first unguarded smile I’d ever seen Craig display.

I’ve always admired him, my Dad’s baby brother, my Uncle Craig. I respect his quiet wisdom, displaying his strength through intelligence and his stoic reserve. His desire to do what is right, not what is easy. With two bombastic older brothers, it’s only natural that he became the observer in the family. I’ve never seen him look as lost as I have these past days.

I remember how Ardie doted on us, the children, at those family gatherings, how happy she seemed with the barely controlled chaos generated by a group of hard-headed, hyperactive cousins all amped up on sugar from Granny’s pumpkin pie and red velvet cake.

I remember how complete she and Craig seemed when Ben, my baby cousin, joined us. Today, my baby cousin shows himself a man to be respected, and very much a Jordan. Back straight, shoulders squared, under all that weight, to the untrained eye, perfectly together.

His pain only shows through his eyes.He tells me he doesn't want to seem callous, but he doesn't know how to handle all this, how it doesn’t seem real. I tell him anyone that knows how to handle something like this isn't human at all. I tell him anger is normal, because I feel it too. It doesn't mean he loves his mother any less.

My uncle, eyes red and heavy, tells me if I’d told him this time last week that he would be here, burying his wife, he would have called me crazy. Me, the writer, the wordsmith, can’t find words. I take his hand and hug him, gently. Too much pressure would make it too real. I tell him how sorry I am. He asks after my nephew, another child he and Ardie doted upon. I tell him my sister has taken him home. He’s too young and rambunctious to understand and be properly respectful.

I can’t bring myself to look upon the casket for more than a passing glance. I know why: because part of me knows it isn’t Ardie lying there, and part of me knows it is.

The next day, before mass at a little church I’ve never been to before, I pull Ben aside ask him how he’s doing, then instantly feel like an idiot. After that I don’t talk much. I give him a cigarette and let him vent. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know he smoked. He tells me how selfish he felt for not realizing how hard his mother’s death hit his girlfriend, how he did know how they often they talked, emailed, how much they cared for each other. He seems calm, hard to read, very careful with his emotions. Ben shows himself to be much wiser than I was at that age. The idle conversation begins to die off, as the priest enters. It’s time. I whisper to Ben as he makes his way forward to stand beside his father, “She’s not in there, you know.”

I don’t even know if he heard me. As a non-practicing Catholic, I’m well versed in the motions, and I go through them. I don’t pray. I’ve got nothing nice to say to God, so I take Granny’s advice and say nothing at all. I hold it together; Ben and Craig deserve that much. I try not to show I’m wishing to get up, walk out, go home, load a shotgun and go hunting the doctor that prescribed all those meds.

Once again, Grandpa makes it real. I’d taken a seat beside Grandpa as we walked in, I’ll never be half the man he is, but I know he has more days behind than ahead. I believe myself to be the only one here not preoccupied with his own pain, so I keep a close eye on Grandpa, if he should stumble. I think back to the words I spat at my own father during his own troubles: That old man has been through enough. Who knows how many friends he has lost, and he’s already had to bury one of his children and his wife. You make him bury you, and I will never forgive you. Suddenly, I’m very angry with Ardie, at the pain she has caused mine.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Grandpa wipe a tear away, behind his glasses, as he reaches forward and places a hand on his baby boy’s shoulder. Craig puts his arms around Ben, an attempt to give, or find comfort, I do not know. It doesn’t seem to help. I realize quickly that anger is pointless, and using it fuel my innate desire to fix something would be counterproductive. The lump is rising in my throat again. I try to fight it, but that too, proves pointless.

Graveside is no better. I see the absolute desolation in Craig’s face. I can’t fathom his pain, but it hurts me, shaking me to the core. I want him to let it out, at the same time I fear it. I see Ben. Very much a Jordan, but I see his mother’s nature there as well. He gaze is turned inward, finding comfort in memories. I hope he finds balance, life will never be the same, but I hope, and now I pray that he will find normal again.

I look around at Ardie’s family, that which she was born into and the one she chose, all dressed in fine clothes that usually reserved for special occasions and wish they were still in garment bags in the back of the closet. I look around and I see wreckage. So we stand, backs straight through force of will, because the spirit is gone.

The one person that could make it okay with a sarcastic joke and a wry grin, so much like Granny could, is lost to us.

And that’s why it hurts.


---Mike Jordan, 2012

Friday, December 9, 2011

Attention: Barnes and Noble NOOK readers

As of January 1st, 2012, Never Saw It Coming will no longer be available from Barnes and Noble.

Several factors have brought me to this decision. First, for some reason, the B&N site will not allow me to upload the new cover or set the price to match the price of the book on amazon. Second, Amazon recently announced it's Kindle Select program for Amazon Prime members, meaning Amazon Prime members will be able to read Kindle Select titles for free, while still paying the authors at the normal rate. The Kindle Select Program, however demands exclusivity  Third, sales via B&N have been less than spectacular and the PubIt! format they use just doesn't seem to have the writer support tools that Amazon's Kindle Direct offers.

I did not come to this decision lightly, and hate that I'll have to make my writing unavailable to NOOK readers, but the Kindle app is still available free of charge for most smartphones, tablet pcs, desktop and laptop systems.

In short, if you're a NOOK reader, and haven't picked up Never Saw It Coming yet, you may want to before the end of the year, because I'll be pulling the title on New Year's Day.

Thanks for reading,
---Mike

Monday, October 31, 2011

Author Interview and Price drop!

Well, talk about a heluva busy day, okay not really, I didn't have to do much. But I've got two announcements for the public at large.

First, a while back I did an interview with Action Adventure, Inc. It's live as of today, check it out!

Second, For the month of November I've dropped the price on Never Saw It Coming (The book now includes a teaser passage from the sequel, Undeserving) to $0.99 from $2.99.
That's right, one penny less than a dollar. In addition to that, for those of you that pick up the book today, October 31st, 2011. Shoot me an email with a friend's email address and I'll send them a copy, as well.

Thanks for reading guys, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Belt Loop (Book One): A Review

Product Description:

Captain Uri Haad is plunged into one of the most terrifying voyages of his Colonial Navy career. His ship, the CNS Corpus Christi, stumbles upon a derelict alien vessel out in the void of Orion's Belt -- The Belt Loop as it is known by the sailors of the Third Colonial Fleet out of Elber Prime. He launched a Search and Rescue mission to the hulking derelict after his scans detected surviving life forms. What started as a mission of mercy quickly turns into a nightmare of epic proportions and as the horror spreads to his ship and crew, Captain Haad must make life and death decisions to avoid his own destruction and possibly an interstellar war. This taut deep-space adventure bridges the gap between distant suns and gives us a glimpse into the workings of the Twenty-eighth Century Colonial Navy.

My View:

The Belt Loop (Book One) takes the reader on a mundane, routine deep space patrol with the crew fast attack boat CNS Corpus Christi. Captain Uri Haad and his crew simply go about there business unaware of a 12 year old Stowaway lurking about their ship. Of course, if the Belt Loop patrol stayed mundane and routine, I doubt we'd be reading about it.

Soon enough, the Christi stumbles upon a derelict craft launched by a previously unknown species. Haad and his crew began referring to the segmented and tubular vessel as "The Worm". Given that humanity's only other contact with an alien species resulted in a destructive and costly conflict known as the Varson War, tensions run high among the crew, many of whom are veterans of the Varson War and have the scars to prove it.

 A S&R team is dispatched to the Worm to securing it and located the 12 surviving alien crew, While the Corpus Christi stands by to assist, or destroy the worm if needs be. The team quickly discovers, not one, but two sentient alien species aboard. The Birds and the Worms. The Birds appear to be captive in a large cargo hold, Communications Officer Maxine Hansen quickly draws a parallel to Ancient Earth History. The Worm is a slave ship.

Then things it ugly. Security measures aboard the Worm gruesomely and quickly down a contingent of the Marines sent with the Away Team.

The rest of the story is a tense, exciting read, that takes an interesting approach to Science Fiction. With a focus on exobiology and the moral implications of what is a fundamentally culturally based conflict, Robert B. Jones' "The Belt Loop" Series is off to a great start and frankly grabs the reader by the face and refuses to let go. The author does a great job of pulling the reader into the Colonial Navy, where the enlisted and officers lead boring routine lives that are punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Overall The Belt Loop (Book One) is a great read and priced great at $2.99. I'll be picking up the next one as soon as I'm able.

If you're a sci-fi fan, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. 5/5 stars

**note: I was in no way paid for this review. The only compensation I received was a promotional copy of the book and advertising revenue from this site.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Review: Home Lost, by Franz McLaren

Yes, I'm well aware I've been quiet for a while. September has be an extremely busy month for me.

Product Description:
Home Lost: Clarion of Destiny” is the eight volume fantasy tale of Leena, a heroine selected by destiny to combat the greatest challenge her world has ever known. In an epic journey that leads through foreign lands and mysterious realms where demons, monsters, and magic rule, this inexperienced young girl is forced to overcome a protected childhood to face challenges that would crush far more experienced adventurers. With each step she takes, with each passing day, she draws closer to a malevolent force so formidable that it has defeated the mightiest armies and the strongest magic in her world, an evil that could prove too powerful for her developing knowledge and skills to overcome.

In Volume 1, “Home Lost”, Leena, a sixteen year old half trained hedge witch, is mysteriously selected to receive the Garlan branch, a magical item that has twice saved her world in the far distant past. From the first moment of contact with this talisman, her life is changed. After a solitary journey through a silent and deadly winter forest to seek this honor, she returns to her village. Nervous with the excitement and anticipation, she rushes home only to find the secure and treasured town of her youth deserted and in ruins. Confused and alone Leena has little choice but to set out on a search for her missing friends and family, and to try to discover the reason that the Garlan branch has selected her as its tool.

My Thoughts:

Loads of potential, lacking in execution. (Possible Spoilers Below)

 Home Lost is billed as the beginning of an epic eight volume fantasy cycle, and it started off well. Our plucky heroine, Leena, a half-trained hedge witch, is introduced after an extremely gripping prologue (Orcs and Goblins harrying the last small band remaining free humans, all seems lost, when the young commander, Robart finally receives his apparent destiny in the form of an all powerful magical....stick?) Okay, Fanstasy piece, I can let the All-Powerful-Magic-Stick thing, known as a Garlan Branch pass. Robart single-handedly defeats the Inhuman horde with the Garlan Branch, Humanity saved. AWESOME! Being a member of humanity, I happen to like not being enslaved and worked to death but ugly Orcs and Goblins.

Then we jump ahead some two thousands years or five hundred years, either way it was a long time. Leena our plucky heroine, the half-trained hedge witch is out in the forest, in the middle of the night, searching for an invisible tree (The Garlan Tree) in what is apparently heavy snow. Okay, great, nice adventure story, Leena will have to face the dangers of the forest and nefarious powers that be, on her path to this powerful object, right?

Nope. She bumps into said Invisible tree with in a few pages and easily dispatches the Great Wizards Giant Death Raven with her Garlan Branch. Then she makes her way home, to find her village deserted and only 19 or so of her fellow villagers can be located. (Because they're DEAD!)

The average 16 year old girl would be flipping the hell out. Not Leena, she calmly buries the bodies and sets about gather supplies for her journey north, ostensibly to find and free her parents and neighbors. By riding straight to the Great Wizard's gate...you know, the same one that sent the Giant Death Raven and disappeared the populations of the surrounding area to find her?

She meets Arvin, a murderous little 12 year old squire who is constantly scampering off, getting into trouble and sticking his sword were it doesn't belong. Apparently, Leena found Arvin as tiresome as I did, because the last time he ran off in the night she didn't even bother looking for him. Instead she meets Darius, the older, wiser, much better looking Ambassador to the Great Wizard and decides that he would be a much more suitable traveling companion to walk into the jaws of the enemy with....Wait, What?

Yeah.. The rest of the story appears to be multiple days and nights of Darius and Leena riding north while Darius regals Leena with a tale of heroism and adventure (How he came to be the Great Wizard's Ambassador) Unfortunately for the reader, the all we get is Darius literally telling Leena about it. Not a flashback, or a dream sequence. Dialogue. Which is unfortunate, because if it were handled as a flashback or a dream sequence, it would've made Home Lost a much better book. It's not as if the author gives us a brief sketch of Darius' past then gets back to the story, Darius tells us, and Leena about the most minute detail of his adventures...in great length. I'm not kidding when I say the ride north and Darius' tale probably take up a good 60% of the book, if not more.

If you've read this far, you probably assume that I hated this book, which isn't true. Actually even with my laundry list of complaints, it was actually a very engaging read. McLaren writes very well, his dialogue, overabundant as it may be, is written in a very natural speaking manner, and his descriptions of the settings never leave the reader confused, he paints a picture with words. I noticed no major typos, so it's obviously been competently proofread, it's formatted well, and over all I enjoyed it. But I don't know if I could devote the time to an entire 8 book Series.

Home Lost is .99 cents on Amazon so it's no major investment, if you have the time, try it for yourself.

Overall 3.5/5 Stars


*I was in no way paid for this or any review I post on this site, the only compensation I receive are promotional copies of the books from the authors, and potential advertising revenues from this website. The Opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone.

--Mike Jordan