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Rave Reviews For Drift & Ramble Podcast

Drift&RambleWagonWheel LogosThe Drift & Ramble Podcast is gaining listeners rapidly. Reviewers are giving it 5 stars.  The podcast features true stories and American legends from the old west with a wry sense of humor, unflinching honesty and a bit of campfire-style storytelling to give each episode it’s own unique flavor. If you haven’t heard the podcast yet, you can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or Soundcloud and if you have an iTunes account, you’re encourage to leave a review. Listen and subscribe today! You can help the podcast improve by leaving an honest review and if you have a story to suggest, a favorite western icon or location, please visit the official Drift & Ramble website to submit your suggestions at Driftandramble.com

Here Come Da Judge!

AMFI Cover Small.tiff copyIn preparation for narrating the true crime story of “A Motion For Innocence And Justice For All?” I learned of the frightening experiences with the real Michigan Judge who heard this case. The real Judge was Deborah Tyner who’s courtroom antics had earned her the nickname “Judge Tylenol” around the courthouse. In the book, the author says the Judge fell asleep during the trial. Frankly, I thought the allegation of a Judge sleeping during the trial simply wasn’t credible but evidence began to pile up documenting many other unrelated cases where Judge Tyner was described with a similar narrative: A snappy, moody Judge who summarily assumed guilt by virtue of accusation. She was often late for trials. So great was her reputation for tardiness, that a television crew began documenting her daily activities and eventually confronted her on camera after she had been filmed shopping, relaxing at a spa and on other personal errands during the time she was supposed to be in court. The Judge later denied or made excuses for participating in the activities documented on video tape.

In the book, the author states the Judge was late to every appearance and delayed the trial.  Then, upon her late arrival, insisted the trial be rushed so that it could be wrapped up in one day. He even suggests that many employees of the court believed she rushed the jury to a decision.  These would be actionable charges if they could be substantiated. Alas, an accusation of perversion is all it takes for some while others have the freedom to pervert the legal system to their own advantage.

As Americans, we have the right to a fair and speedy trial – but a rushed one, one where the facts are unimportant and the path to a conviction is the only possible outcome is hardly what our forefathers had in mind. You may not agree with every facet of the author’s position on the judicial system in this story but there is no denying the man did not receive a fair trial.

If you’d like a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review, please contact me.

Great Gift For Recent Grads & Dads!

The Golden Resume SmallKnow a recent college grad? Give the gift of employment! The Golden Resume by Brian Robben. This audiobook version was written by a very successful college graduate who found out the hard way, why he wasn’t getting the interviews or the jobs he wanted. Brian offers expert advice on how to update your resume for success in today’s tough job market. These tips are aimed at collage age job seekers but it’s solid information that almost anyone can benefit from. Download the audio version today!

PS: I’m giving away 3 copies of this audiobook in exchange for honest reviews. If you’d like to grab a copy for FREE, email me using the contact form below… Did I mention it was FREE?

[contact-form to=’steve.blizin@gmail.com’ subject=’Yes! I Want The Golden Resume For FREE!’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

The Loser Mindset

Loser Mindset Cover ArtI’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to narrate “The Loser Mindset And What It Can Teach Us About Winning.” If you’ve ever wondered what might be holding you back from reaching a life goal, attempting something bold – or how your closet full of old clothes may be blocking opportunity, this book will help you focus on the path towards enlightenment. Author Jon Bet writes about ways to recast yourself with a winning mindset to overcome negative self talk or the influence of toxic people who are standing in your way. If you’re interested in maximizing your potential or you fear Failure and it’s keeping you from reaching your full potential, this book can help you refocus your mind on attaining success and a positive way of interpreting failures. Winning is a way of life and it’s time you start living it. Available on Amazon.com and  Audible.com & iTunes.

When Justice Isn’t Just.

In “A Motion For Innocence & Justice For All?” author Shaun Webb delves uncomfortably deep to expose the disturbing details of experiencing our legal justice system. When accused of sexual impropriety with an underage girl, the “system” quickly sucks protagonist “Sean West” into it’s mighty jaws and refuses to let go. The truth of what happened quickly becomes secondary to West’s eventual prosecution and conviction – without a single shred of evidence. Along the way, you’ll meet some shady bait-and-switch lawyers, a slovenly prosecutor with no concept of jurisprudence or the limitations of his position and a judge who not only brings her own bias to the bench but makes a complete mockery of her own courtroom through wild outbursts and unexplained delays. Despite her courtroom antics, she actually falls asleep during critical portions of the trial! What is most astounding of all is, this story is based on actual events.

I found myself surprised and compelled by this emotional story as I produced the audio version and I recommend a listen – because this could happen to you. If you enjoyed the Netflix documentary series titled “Making A Murderer,” HBO’s “The Jinx” or wondered how the OJ Simpson trial could have gone so horribly wrong, you will marvel at our legal system’s baffling mishandling of this case. “A Motion For Innocence & Justice For All” has just been released in audiobook format and is now available on Amazon.com, Audible.com and iTunes.

Adobe’s Horrible Customer Service: It’s Bad!

creative cloud logoThe worst customer service experience I ever received, just happened. It’s still fresh in my mind and like the stench of rotted fish, I can’t get the smell out of my head. Frankly, I’m still pissed. Two weeks ago, I received a shock when reviewing my business credit card bill. I noticed charges from an allegedly reputable company you probably never heard of called Adobe.

Granted, this whole drama could have been avoided if I had been vigilant and reviewed my statement monthly but allow me to continue so this nightmare can unfold. 

It turns out Adobe has been charging me recurring monthly fees for a service I canceled 3 months ago during a trial period for “Adobe Stock.” The only reason I tried Adobe Stock was because of an email offer they sent for a FREE TRIAL. In the email, they described that my credit card would be charged the $30 monthly fee but a credit would be applied several days later. I checked and they credited the account, as promised. As the end of the trial period drew near, I canceled the service, well before the specified period. In typical Adobe fashion, I had to complete a survey asking me why I was canceling the service. I answered the questions truthfully. I simply had no need for the service. That was in October.

So imagine my surprise to find that charges for this service began again in November, December and January! These charges totaled $90!

I wasn’t happy but I assumed a quick phone call would resolve the issue. Wrong!
I should have known what to expect from this logo that Adobe uses for it’s Creative Cloud prouduct: Just look at it. Doesn’t it look like a snake that’s eating itself? Creative Clusterf$#@* is more like it.
creative cloud icon

When I called Adobe’s customer service number, I was connected to Roslin, an obviously outsourced, off-shore employee with a difficult but mostly understandable accent. She explained that she “could see that I had canceled the service” and she was happy to credit my for $30 for the inconvenience. I had the call on speaker phone and my wife was in the room. I said, “Excuse me, but did you just say that you can see that I canceled the service?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “OK, so if I canceled the service in October and I was billed from November through today, I should be receiving a credit of $90.00. Not $30.00.” Then she said, “I am only authorized to credit your account $30.00.” While this made me furious, I should say here, that I did not lose my temper, yell or be rude. This poor woman is not the source of my problem, she’s actually there to help. Yelling at her doesn’t help anyone. So, after a slow and methodical re-explanation of the problem, a swift and distinct rise in my pulse rate and blood pressure, and what seemed like 20 minutes or more on the phone, I realized she wasn’t going to be of any help. So, I requested to speak to a supervisor.

After a few minutes on hold, the same woman returned to the line and informed me she had been authorized to refund the full amount. I said, “Thank you but just to confirm, you will be crediting my account for $90.00, correct?” She said, “Yes. we will issue a credit to you of $90.00.” I said thank you and hung up feeling like I just spent an eternity trying to resolve what seemed like a pretty simple problem. Roslin, then gave me a ticket number of 0217605199.

But then I received a confirmation of a $30.00 credit. …Uhm, no.

So, I called Adobe back and this time, I wasn’t too happy. Still, I wasn’t rude, either. I spoke with Ahmid or Ahmed. (It turned out to be Amit.) It was basically a carbon copy of the experience I had the day before. When I said that I was not happy about being promised a full refund only to receive a partial refund I was once again told, “I am only authorized to offer a credit for $30.00. Before I could request one, I found myself on hold and transferred to a supervisor. Apparently, these customer services agents are used to escalating calls to supervisors. Another 20 minutes of explanation and more time on hold. Finally the supervisor, named Sahil, explained to me, “you already received a $30 credit in January.” (He was referring to yesterday’s unacceptable credit of what should have been $90.)  I stopped him at that point and explained that if a credit was issued, I have no record of it on my account yet and that even if it was credited, it is not the amount owed to me. I requested that he calculate the dollars charged to my card. Then I asked him to calculate the charges I would have been charged without “Adobe Stock.” Then I asked him to tell me the total dollar amount that had been charged to me for only Adobe stock. His reply, “$90.00 sir.” So then I asked him this, “If you were overcharged by $90.00 and Adobe only offered you $30.00 back, would you be upset by this?” “Oh, yes. Yes sir, I would be very mad.” I said, “So then you understand that I am not happy right now and this $30 credit is unacceptable.” I was issued a new ticket #0217641662.

Then out of sheer curiosity I asked him, “do you see the cancellation of Adobe Stock on account?” “Um, no sir. You did not cancel this account.” Again, I chose not to yell. Oh, I wanted to. It’s clear that Adobe, a once proud maker of useful software products has either thrown in the towel or allowed a crew of thieves and scalawags to represent them. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. But I decided,instead, to let the entire universe know about this incident. My experience is probably not unique and the only way Adobe will ever know that it’s brand is being damaged is to tell every living soul on the planet until Adobe acknowledges the issue and refunds my money!

I received another request to be placed on hold and after several minutes, Sahil returned with a new “ticket number” and said I would hear from Adobe within 2 business days. This is not a resolution mind you but another delay which mostly likely result in another phone call and possibly two phone calls and ultimately the cancellation of ALL of my business dealings with Adobe. I have been a customer of theirs for nearly 20 years. If you think that is important, you are wrong.

48 business hours have passed and there has been no resolution, no contact and I’m back on the phone, on hold for another 20 minutes. The person who who answers this time informs me he has no authority to credit an account for more than $30 so I tell him. I am not interested in repeating my story more than once today. Can you please transfer me to the person with the authority to credit my account for the full $90 I have requested and have been promised? He says if you will provide a ticket number I will look into the matter. Again, I inform him that he cannot help me and to transfer the call to someone with the authority to correct this problem. He tells me he must have the ticket number, essentially refusing to transfer the call. He places me on hold to “review the notes.”

During this time, my wife informs me that Adobe credited my account for $30 and then charged me $9.99 on the same day. This means, in fact, they did not even credit the $30 as promised but instead gave me a $20 credit when they owed me $90. Either these people have no basic math skills or they are in fact, thieves and liars. I’m inclined to believe the latter. 
The ponderous business model of a silo in the form of an off-shore, third party entity as a viable customer service solution is severely flawed. These people are incentivized to deny service (and credits) to the very customers who pay for Adobe software. How sad a business model is that? Punish the people who support them the most? Who is in charge at Adobe…? The Marquis De Sade?

Forget all the flowery prose and discussions of flawed business models. I want my $%&* MONEY, ADOBE.

Eventually, the man returns to the line to say that because he is overseas, he will have to have someone contact me by phone the following day. Of course! We set a specific time which, as I type, has already passed. I fully expected that Adobe would not contact me, just as they refused to acknowledge my concerns, my credits and the terrible math by which the do their accounting. I was not disappointed. NOBODY CONTACTED ME.

I should have accepted defeat right then and there. I don’t need the stress. But it’s the principle of the thing I can’t let go of.  So, I started an online CHAT session with Adobe Customer Service later that morning.  What a mistake!!

I explained my situation to someone named Dipen. I methodically laid out my experience and Dipen confirmed that my “Trial of Adobe Stock Expired In October.” I typed, please confirm if expired means canceled. He responded, “Your trial of Adobe Stock expired in October.” I asked again, Was it canceled or expired? No response. I typed, “DIPEN, YOU ARE MAKING ME VERY ANGRY.” He typed, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

Apparently it’s just me. I just don’t understand the language at Adobe.
Expired and canceled mean two different things or the same thing, depending on the wind direction and day of the week. So does “Inconvenience.”
What inconvenience really means is, “We’re going to rob you blind and you’re never going to be able to get to the bottom of it.” THIS ISN’T CUSTOMER SERVICE, it’s a smoke screen – a deflector shield designed to destroy and deflect all but the most determined individuals.Now that I’ve told you who I am, I asked DIPEN to have someone of authority from Adobe contact me at once.

He neglected to ask for my contact number then asked if there was anything else he could help with. I ended the chat.

After a number of negative tweets about ADOBE, I received multiple replies from Adobe Customer Service’s twitter account. They honestly wanted me to handled the reiteration of my troubles in 140 characters or less. So, after that went nowhere (well, they did confirm I still had my Photoshop account).

That evening, I had a good hearty laugh with my wife over the whole situation while imitating the voices of the people I spoke with and making my face turn a number of shades of red. Come to think of it, maybe that could be an ad campaign for Adobe… Red faced people with exploding heads! I have only lost $60 American dollars (using Adobe Math) and all desire to speak with anyone at Adobe again.

In every conversation with Adobe representatives, each of them told me, “We don’t charge you for FREE Trials.” But each of them also said that “I changed my account to the Adobe Stock Plan.” Each time I told them I made no such change, they sat silent and refused to confirm my cancellation of the services.

The next morning, my wife tells me she received a phone call from ADOBE!!! How the hell… I provided them my cell phone number not once but during almost every contact. They couldn’t call that number but they did look up a phone number for me and called that? Does this mean this story has a happy ending? No. It means that Adobe exhausted all the effort they were going to extend. They called my house, spoke to my wife – who gave them the right number to call – but they didn’t call it.

Instead, days went by and I received an email from Amit one of the first few people I spoke with. Amit’s email says that he is “Unable to offer any further refund but as a courtesy, a gesture of goodwill,” he will offer me one free month of service.

What a joke! The trouble is, they’re not kidding. BE CAREFUL with companies that promise great customer service. It’s code for, “You’re going to NEED customer service. And good luck getting it from us…”
 
Thank you, Adobe. You’ve stolen my money, wasted my time and made me feel completely stupid for supporting you.

There’s only one thing left to do when a company that you thought had your back tries to reach around and grab you by the balls. Say Goodbye Adobe here’s to 20 years of customer loyalty, right back atcha!

Adobe's steaming dung heapP.S. While I wish I could claim credit for this clever rendition of the logo, I merely searched the webs for creative cloud logo and this steaming dung heap came up. Clearly I’m not the only person who wishes Adobe would clean up after their mess.

Darth Vader Mask

My prescription was ready but I was not so, I was perusing the After Halloween sale isle at target. Piles  of trampled costumes and equally appealing bags of candy lay strewn about as if looters had rejected these and focused their desires on the next big Holiday. I stood eyeballing the debris. Then I saw it. Buried beneath a Disney princess dress, partially obscured by a ghost piñata, the glossy, unmistakable grill protruded from the mess. I could hear the heavy breathing in my mind – Darth Vader’s helmet!

I pulled the plastic replica from the debris field, smile beaming. My wife stood looking at me. Knowingly. Quietly resigned to the sudden and immediate joy I was clearly experiencing. I held it out for her to see. “Yes. I can see it,” she said patiently, leaving the “you idiot” part out of the communique.    I tucked the plastic prize under my arm and began looking for a scanner. “Found it!” A brief bleep and instant confirmation of my belief. It was, indeed, half price. I looked back at my lovely bride. “It is half price,” she said. At once approving the purchase and confirming the bargain in the same sentence.

So, that happened. The girl at the prescription counter admired it then dropped it on the counter, causing me to wince. She rang me up and we left, one of us feeling prouder than the other. In the car, she asked, “We’re you going to wear that home?” And we ran through scenarios where a Darth Vader Mask might be fun. Riding my mountain bike. Ordering at the drive-through… Would you like fries with that today? “Silence! I find your lack of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes disturbing.”

First 1 Star review.

Lost Youth: A True Story (Audiobook)I got my first 1 star review today. The anonymous gift giver left no witty remarks, no useful critique, nothing other than the internet equivalent of a flaming turd on my doorstep. They couldn’t even bare to ring the door bell. But does a one star review on performance mean anything? What does it translate to? How do you quantify it? How I could I use that to improve my work? The fact is, I can’t. It’s just a flaming turd on the porch and once the fire goes out, I’ll probably run the hose over the spot where it landed and go on about my day.

I don’t expect everyone to love my work (wait, scratch that. YES, in fact I do) but realistically, statistically speaking, it’s just not going to happen. Do I suck? Maybe. But I did what Mr or Mrs one star didn’t want to do and that is to try. I tried to do my best work and my best wasn’t good enough. It’s bound to get better. And even then, I’m bound to have somebody find fault with it. I’ll hope I don’t get many more but if you’re itching to leave me one, follow the link and buy the book so at least I can get paid for it.