BennyEast.Com/Blog The official blog of Kenny West

19Apr/180

HAIM and LANY

Tonight before I went to the gym I downloaded some music.  HAIM's debut release, and one of the LANY EPs.  Both are great.

I also used some leftover gift card money to download the albums... SO... Win win.

Both bands played Coachella... They also are both from LA... Like me.  Only they didn't move away, unlike me.

I put both the albums under a playlist called Coachella Vibes.

Hah.  I don't know why watching the live stream had such an effect on me, but it did.

Who knows.

The thing about life is, you never know why the things that captivate you, do what they do.

It's not really logical sometimes.  You just like the stuff you like or you don't.  You like the music you like, you like the people you like, the places you like... TV shows, movies.

We all just like stuff, or we don't.

Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to it to.

My thing is, just like what you like, and like who you like, and like where you like... Etc. etc.

And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  If you like something, that should be good enough.

Unless you just like everything.  I feel like that's a little weird or suspicious.  We were joking about that at work today.

If someone just liked EVERYTHING.  It would almost be "off" or strange.  I mean, nobody can like EVERYTHING.  That's just... Weird.

You have to not like some stuff.

It's only natural.

Sometimes you like stuff, sometimes you don't.

Anyway, I like HAIM and LANY.  And I liked the Coachella live stream.

And that's all there is to it.  Sometimes you just get caught off guard and you just feel passionate about anything, or something.

Like... Today, when I went to help a professor at work with a tech issue... She just caught me off guard.  I've actually helped her before once I think, like right after she was hired years ago...

Of course, her office wasn't fully decorated at that time.

Today when I went over to her office to help with the tech thing... I was just like... Wow, this professor is cool!  Or, well, at least I thought the office decorating was neat.  Hah.  I'm not gonna lie... I mean I'm sure she's cool too, but I was mostly just digging the wall decorations and what not that she had around the office which I thought were interesting.  Anyway I complimented her on one of the things hanging on the wall that I thought was cool and she was like... thanks my friend made it!  I was like... That's so neat!  I'm a fan of hand crafted or hand made art.

Although, her Wonder Woman framed 3d photo thing and her Wonder Woman mug were also pretty cool.

Anyway, problem was fixed, compliment about the wall art was given and then I went on my merry way and she went on hers...

And that's my story of the day.

Sometimes you just find cool stuff randomly.  Sometimes there's good music, and sometimes there's good art.  Anyway... I'm sure there will be more cool stuff tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after... Etc. etc...

Until the next cool or interesting find or event happens... Just enjoy the cool stuff right now.

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18Apr/180

8 Dollar Bottle of Wine

So, I mentioned this 8 dollar bottle of wine I had over the weekend while watching the Coachella live stream.

What wine was it?  Just Barefoot wines.  It was the cabernet sauvignon.  You know, for being such a discounted wine, it's REALLY good.

Barefoot wines are generally pretty decent though.

Tonight I bought 2 random bottles of wine.  A red, and a white.  Not sure of who the brand is even, I know the red is an Italian wine and the white is another California wine.

I can't decide which one I want to open on Friday night.  I think I might go with the white wine... Just because I had red last weekend.  We'll see what I decide.  Who knows!

I'll be sure to update my choice.

These bottles I bought were more around the 10/12 dollar range.  Big spender.  I know.

Anyway, I'm saying my money so I can put it towards other things... Like fixing some siding that fell off my house during some recent storms because it was sooo windy.  And also... A ticket to Coachella next year.  At least that's my plan right now anyway.

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16Apr/180

Couchella

Basically, I stayed in all weekend and watched the live stream of Coachella from my couch.

It was awesome.  I think one of my goals is to get to Coachella in real life one day.  Maybe next year, or the year after.  We'll see.

The thing is though, I really enjoyed it.  Sure, it was weird to be here by myself for a whole weekend, but it actually wasn't bad.

I had even bought a bottle of cab sav to enjoy.  I opened it on Friday night, had some more on Saturday night and finished it Sunday.

Staying home all weekend is never a bad thing.  It saves money for one thing.  Money that can be put elsewhere and better use than to going out on the town paying for drinks and things.  I mean, I bought a bottle of wine at Wegmans for 8 bucks... It lasted me 3 nights.

One beer sometimes is 8 bucks.  I've gone out and bought plenty of 7 dollar beers and then you leave a dollar or two tip.

If you want food?  Forget it.

I could easily spend 100 bucks in a weekend going out.  Or a night even.

I mean, drinks, food, ticket to a show, parking...

Anyway, I've spent so many years going out... I guess, it's starting to seem more wasteful.  Like, my whole goal in the first place with going out was to meet someone... It never happens.

It just never does.

So, why waste money doing that?  I can put my money towards better uses.  Let the newly minted 21 year olds go out and have fun.  I'm 35.  I'm better off leaving work on Friday at 5, going to the wine store, picking up a nice bottle of wine, or even an 8 dollar one... And then having a glass or two on Friday and Saturday and finishing it off Sunday night.

There's plenty of stuff on Netflix... And as well, staying home also helps to tackle projects on my task list... I also might end up remoting into work for a little bit too, helps to catch up.

It's just a better idea to stay in.  Maybe go out once a month... But that's it.  There's no need to be going out every weekend or multiple nights a week.

Plus, what's the point?  If I haven't met her by now... I'm not going to.  Let's just assume there isn't someone out there for me.  Might as well put my efforts towards other things.

Anyway, so I plan to stay in again next weekend, find another good bottle of wine and find some things to watch on Netflix. And just work on things around the house.

Maybe I'll splurge a little and try to actually make it to Coachella in real life... And if not, there's always Couchella again.  I'll look forward to it.

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13Apr/180

“L”

So, I'm watching this Stranger Things show... and another similar thing is that the girl in the show that is one of the main characters, her nickname is "L"... Or maybe "El" for eleven... It's a stretch...

But, it's just another thing that I thought was kind of similar to my Twitter story.  The girl who goes missing has a name that starts with L.

I mean, again, just a funny similarity.

I honestly couldn't imagine that the person who wrote Stranger Things was sitting there reading my tweets.

I mean, mostly because, how would they have found my tweets?  My Twitter account is so obscure, I don't really have many followers...

I don't know...

Seems so unlikely.

I tried to look up the writer to see if I knew who this person... Apparently he's from LA... So... Another similar thing, we're both from LA!

Hah.  The world is full of similar things though.

That's the thing about anything, is... You can find patterns or puzzle piece clues anywhere.

I mean, so one thing that happened to me is back in like 2012 ish, I had a dream about my mom dying...

I remember dreaming about construction in the backyard and there being construction equipment.

My mom passed away while her back porch was being completed.  The contractor even left the tractor in the backyard for a couple of weeks after.

And tonight, I got a piece of mail related to something about my mom and then her one cat knocked the mailing off the table out of a bunch of different things sitting on that table, she seemed to single out the one thing that was something about my mom.

I mean, there's always the possibility that anything is really connected, or, that two events happened... And they seem related enough that anyone can draw conclusions.

Anyway, I guess I just think it's strange for sure... But it's really not all that significant... I mean, I feel like the story of people disappearing and a town sheriff going on a search for those who disappeared is a story that's been told many times in lots of different ways.

So, I'll keep watching... It's a good show.  I'm enjoying it for sure.  Anyway... I'm excited to see what happens next!

More to come...

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11Apr/180

It’s Trash Now

On the last trash day I threw out a vacuum cleaner.  It was old school, like 80s or 90s.  I'm pretty sure it still worked... The thing is though, it's not worth anything.  I probably could have tried to sell it or donate it, but it's just not worth the effort.

My thing is, if it's big and bulky and it's only going to fetch 10 bucks at most, it's not even worth the shipping or gas or effort, might as well just trash it.

It's crazy though the amount of things I've gone through and donated or thrown out or sold... And I still have space for stuff.

Like, my rule is basically that if I can buy a shelving unit and the shelving unit sits empty entirely... Then I'm done cleaning out.

But if I can buy a shelving unit for the basement or garage or whatever... And I STILL find things to put on it, even if it's old books or junk... I'm not done.

I recently bought a shelving unit and put it in the basement and had it filled up again within about 30 minutes.

It's kind of crazy the amount of things we accumulate.  A lot of it is useful, but a lot of it is also just junk and sits around collecting dust.

Like this vacuum.  I already have one.  But here was this perfectly okay working vacuum from like 1985... But, it's just collecting dust.

My rule is that I basically pick one thing a week, no matter what, I try to find one thing a week that I don't need anymore.  Last week it was this vintage vacuum.

Just trying to keep cleaning and clearing out little by little.

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9Apr/180

Home Gnome

So, I've been trying to stay in more... like a lot more.

Why?

Simple... Saves money.  Every penny I don't spend, is a penny I can then put towards things that generate more pennies...

I need to upgrade my music software, so, that's like the next thing I'll be spending money on.

Or, invest more money in dividend paying stocks!

Also... there's a lot to do around my house.  I've been trying to toss this one carpet for a long while now... It's literally falling apart, so I have to cut it up piece by piece and vacuum up the mess.

I'm starting to clean out things more aggressively.  Just trying to toss junk, and donate things to good will...

The next phase will be to start painting and making the house into a little more home like... Also, I may just sell it... So, it needs to look nice if I decide to do that.

Trying to get my life in the direction that I want it.

Right now I just have too many things that weigh me down... Too much stuff, and responsibilities...

Not enough passive income that I can make in my sleep.

Too many cats.  Yes, they are cute, but... They take up SOOO much time!  Oh well, two of them are old lady cats.

I'm pretty sure in the next couple of years my life is going to be drastically different.

More passive income, less physical stuff... Less time spent feeding and cleaning up after cats.  Don't get me wrong, they are cute and I like them... They are definitely a pain in my butt though... It will be sad when they finally go... But the two older ones are kind of old for cats, it's not like they have lived short cat lives... They have definitely had a nice long cat life.  And a spoiled one too!  I spoil them like crazy.

Anyway... I'm hoping in a few years I'll have just gotten ride of a lot of the things I'm spending my time on and have much more time to focus on... Music!  And other creative things.

I've been going to the gym more.  The gym is great... Flat fee, stay as long as you like.  It's a great way to spend less money.  Plus it's good for you too, so there's always that.

Sometimes I go in the evening, sometimes i go in the early the morning before work.

I've been cooking dinners in more and watching Netflix more.

And trying to work on music more.  I'm getting a little further along in a song I've been working on, and I also have nearly finished the cover art for the song...

I guess I've just been finding that I've been doing all this stuff that isn't really want I want to spend my time doing.  So lately I've just been like... I'm going to spend my time doing what I want to spend my time doing.

And that's what I'm doing.

Staying home more.

The faster I get my dividend salary to the point where it can pay for all my expenses in life, the faster I can just start doing what I want with my time.

Which to me, is the point of life.

When you work a 9-5 job, you work for that organization and those people... When you reach financial independence, you do things on your own terms... Your own life.

AKA, make music all day.

Which is what I've wanted to do since I was a little kid.

I'll get there.

I just have to really start saying no a lot more... Just cut out more people, and more things that waste my money and time.

Add things that let me create music.

My dream is probably to just have a smaller house, or small flat somewhere, eventually no cats... A LOT more dividends coming in...  More music time, more gym time... Just spend my days doing my thing.

That's the plan.

A lot of people save up their paychecks to go on vacations... I say, I'll take vacation after I reach finical independence.

Until then... Just stay in, get up early and go to the gym... Save money, invest.  Invest, invest, invest... The more I make from dividends the more I can plow back in to making even more money.

I watch the HGTV channel though at the gym in the morning and they do these flips and renovations... I'm thinking I might perhaps try that one day too... I feel like flipping doesn't seem al that profitable though.  I mean... At least to me it doesn't.  I'd rather just hold dividend stocks.

But hey, who knows... I don't know what I'll do.

All I know is my current goal is to just keep building my dividend salary... Just slow and steady, month after month, keep pushing to the next goal.  It's hard to believe that at one point I thought 50 dollars a month was a lot... Now I'm WAAAAY beyond that in monthly investment income.

It definitely seems a bit like it's moving in slow motion, but it's going.

My biggest thing right now is that I focus on cost cutting... Just staying in, and growing the investment income and then using the rest to focus on music, which actually also does make a small bit of money too...  So really it's all a step in the right direction.

Just have to keep at it.  That's the thing... Everything pays dividends in the end, just takes time and persistence to get where I'm going.

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8Apr/180

Up Up and Away

So, part of me cares, but another part of me kind of thinks it's almost comedic... Or, maybe comedic isn't the right word... It's more like, interesting I guess?

There are two things going up in my life... The first?  My dividend income per month.  As time is going by, my monthly dividend income stream has been slowly and steadily increasing.  Eventually... We all know where things are going with that.  It's only a matter of how quickly it rises.  They've even implemented new tracking stuff in my trading account to see the monthly performance, so it's now easier than ever to track my monthly investment income targets...

What else is going up?  The number of open tickets we have in our new ticket software.  Just as I predicted... It's steadily increasing.

Why?  It's simple math... We can't take care of the requests as fast as they come in.  It's just math, there aren't enough of us working and enough hours in the day to do all the work.

What's going to happen?  The tickets will just keep coming in, we'll close some, but more will come in than we can close.  We'll prioritize and then the ones we can't get to will just sit there collecting dust.

I guess because it's only a matter of time until I hit the tipping point on my investments and the income over takes my expenses... I care enough in the short term, but in the longer term, I don't really care as much because I'm on my way out eventually.

I mean, sure I have a few years... And at absolute MOST, I have 15 years of working left no matter what.  It's weird, it's like not winning  the lottery yet, but knowing that you will win the lottery and knowing the exact day you will.

My 50th birthday is big lottery day... In the mean time, my already established extra income wins the lottery on average 10 to 15 days a month.  That's how often I get dividend deposits now on my existing stuff... It's small, like my next one will be $12.60 on the 10th... So in 2 days.  I just got a whole cluster of deposits, like 3 or 4 on Friday, totaling about 20 some bucks.

The thing is... It's passive money too.  So, for example, at work, I get yelled at all day by people who are angry because their tech issue isn't working or mostly because they haven't had an answer yet and they submitted their ticket days before... As I type this, we have 90 tickets open.  I bet we'll be up above 100 open tickets by Friday.

Every time people call all upset and angry, I just look at my dividend deposits and say to myself... It's only a matter of time until some other poor sucker is in this seat getting yelled at.

Or maybe not... Who knows... The day I beat it, they may not decide to replace me... And then my coworkers will be the poor suckers.

The thing about it is... There's nothing they can do about it... Even if I make no additional investments, a lot of my holdings are dividend hiking stocks... So that means, they have a LONG track record for paying and increasing dividend payouts every year.  For example, one of my holdings has been paying a dividend for over 100 years and they have been increasing the dividend for 40 some years.

Either way, even if the company decides to skip a year for dividend hikes and hold steady... I'm still spending less money than I'm making, which means I'm adding to my investments.... And by adding to the investments...

You guessed it.  The dividends go up... up... up.... and away.

Everyone at my job hates it.  It's mostly because I do a lot of work, so I think they hate the idea of me riding off into the sunset to greener pastures... Although to be fair, no one wants to be broken up with... Especially when they've found a keeper... And let's face it, I'm quite the keeper when it comes to model employees, but honey... You just don't satisfy my needs like my investment portfolio is starting to... Sorry sugar.

I work in off hours, and right now, I have like half the open tickets on my plate... SO... I'm kind of a rockstar employee.  I don't mean to brag but... I work my ass off.

See, the thing is though, my passion is making music and writing books, and investing, and just being creative... Not getting yelled at by grumpy people because we don't have nearly the staff we need to reposed to their tech requests as quickly as they would like us to.

But it will certainly be interesting if someone in the VP area of things starts to question why so many tickets stay open... I mean, who knows, I doubt it... But perhaps one day they will notice and then be like... "Hey, maybe they need another tech?"

Wishful thinking.

Oh well... Like said, I only care enough to work hard in the short term because I know that each month that goes by, my investment salary inches up higher and higher getting closer and closer to covering all my expenses and then I retire and work on music and other creative endeavors full time.

For now, I watch the number of open tickets rise, and I watch my dividend salary rise... See which one reaches a tipping point first.

 

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6Apr/180

Similar Things

So, I finally started watching Stranger Things.  Kind of late to the party...

It's weird watching it.  Like hair rising up on the back of my neck type of weird.

Why?

Because, it's just REALLY similar to a story tweets story that I wrote and posted on Twitter... That predates when this came out.  It's currently still on Twitter, tweet by tweet, date and time stamped.

Right now I just finished the third episode.

It just reminds me a lot of my own story.  I mean, a LOT.

Almost like the creators of Stranger Things read my story... And then wrote their own based off it.

I doubt this is true though.  The thing is... We live in one world together... A group of people, billions of us, all living together on this planet.  Trapped inside a bubble.

Odds are, we're going to share some of the same thoughts.

It's different enough that it's not plagiarism.  Although, I'm only on episode 3, so I mean, who the heck knows, there would be word for word dialogue later on... If that were the case, I'd be officially freaked out... Because that's not possible.

Obviously if there are any scenes that are exactly the same, I'm calling an intellectual property attorney and having things looked into...

But my stuff was posted on Twitter, in public... not copyrighted...

True.  I never submitted my stuff to turnitin.com... That's fair... But also, I wouldn't sue for monetary compensation if there were actually some lifting of my material from my Twitter account used in Stranger Things...

Why sue then?

Simple.  I already have a million dollar trust fund, what the hell do I need more money for?  I don't need obscene amounts  of money... What's the point?  There is no point... I want something else... I want my book published and made into a movie.

I'd want Netflix to pick it up and turn it into a movie.

Or, I'd want the creators of stranger things to help me start my own creative career.

Kind of a weird thing to sue for.

I'm a weird guy, what can I say?

At any rate, I doubt they copied my stuff, the odds are so low.... But, like I said, humanity is a shared space.

Think about this, if you go out in the world and you tell something to someone, they then have that thought in their brain.  They heard what you said, and it's now in their brain.  That thought... It's inside them.  Even if they forget it... They heard it, and they thought about it... And it's now part of their memory.

The mind is a powerful thing, it remembers things we never thought it would remember.

And thoughts and memories?  Are highly contagious.

People are good at taking things in through their senses... And then sharing that stuff.

Ideas, concepts, language, experience... People absorb it all like a sponge, and then they share it with people, perhaps not by simply re-telling the exact same thing, but it is incorporated into what they say.  How they act.

We sweat experience, and others absorb that and in turn, replicate it out... It's a bit like a whisper down the lane...

You tell someone something that was told to you and they in turn tell others.

I'll entertain the idea that maybe someone who knows someone who knows the creators of Stranger Things might have read some or all of my story tweets, and then they in turn might have talked about it at some party, or out at some bar, and then someone else might have said something to someone else, who was then the person who was inspired to write it.

There's so many works of art though that are inspired by other things.

That's how being creative works, you are inspired to inspire others.

It's definitely a strange thing though to watch the events unfold with the missing kids in Stranger Things, it reminds me a lot of the story tweets story.

To be honest though?  I've had a lot of stranger things happen in my own lifetime so far.  So many experiences that just made me go.... Wow, that was freaky.

Too many to count.

Anyway, I'll keep watching Stranger Things and give an update as I watch more...

If there's anything so similar of a thing that it totally weirds me out, I'll be sure to post it right away!  Or, maybe I'll have to submit it to turnitin.com or something.  Haha...

Anyway, I guess I'll see.

 

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6Apr/180

Venturing

So, I've been kind of kicking around the idea of looking for a business investment.

Right now my investment portfolio is comprised of publicly listed stocks and bonds and ETFs etc. etc.

I think it would be interesting to make an investment in a business.  Take a small stake in something local... Find someone that wants to start something and needs some capital and go part way in... And in exchange I get part ownership and a small say.  Although, I'm not too interesting in being bossy, or any kind of boss.  I mostly just want to be a backseat driver and ask questions and just kind of let the other person run the show.  I just have a small vested interest.

I don't know much about how it would go down.

I feel like that private stuff is a little more risky and nebulous.  Like, there's always the risk that someone could be up to some shady shenanigans... Or there's always the risk that it tanks.

Stocks have these risks too, but, with the SEC regulation and mandator quarterly and annual reporting... Plus, the thing is, with stocks, you get dividends.  Okay, not ALWAYS, but the ones I prefer to own, there's dividends.

Also with stocks you can sell and buy on an open exchange.

Private business is tough, you have to negotiate sales of your stake in things, or purchases.  And who knows if the amount you're getting is a fair amount.

You kind of have to be a little bit sharky... I'm not sharky.

I feel like for now, I'll just stick with my general portfolio management of publicly traded securities.

Perhaps one day when I have enough to divide off where I could risk the loss and it wouldn't be all that painful, I'll step into funding a small business or something like that, or go in on a house flip...

See, that's the other thing too, the barriers to entry is a bit high.  With stocks, I could just get in with only even a thousand dollars to start a position, or sometimes less, depends on the share price.

One stock I bought was at 6 bucks a share when I bought it, so I bought 144 shares and let it ride.

It's hard to make a business deal with that small of a stake.  You have to do significantly higher amounts, and it's a big risk, at least to me...

But, I'll keep kicking around the idea, if I find something, I might be keen to invest.

I'd love to start kind of a mini venture fund and accept business plans and what not and browse through them and eventually invest in one out of 500 business plans that I received in exchange for shares, or part ownership.

Maybe I'll start looking around the Philly area here to see what the venture scene is like, I wouldn't mind going to a meet up or two.  I'm not about to write a check for like my entire savings, but hey maybe I'm wrong and there's an opportunity to help fund a startup with only a thousand dollars and get in as part ownership.  Never know.

Honestly, and I don't know how possible anything like this would be...

I'd love to kind of become an independent investor for specific groups of people...

This sounds weird... Or possible discriminatory?  And I don't know if I can get into any kind of hot water doing this, like legally, which is probably why I will just stick with publicly traded stocks and bonds and REITS and all that good stuff...

But I'm just curiously wondering, can I become an private investor for like... Let's say women entrepreneurs who are seeking capital for their business, you know?

 

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Like there's that meetup group.  I randomly stumbled upon that... And was just like... Hmmm... You know... I wonder.

Again, maybe that's not allowed.

But, I'd love to kind of gear my resources toward places where resources generally aren't as much geared.

Like, there's still a wage gap between men and women, where women are generally paid less on average... So, if I gear my resources that I have at my disposal predominantly in that direction... Help women entrepreneurs.  Again, maybe that's illegal or something, but it's my own personal wealth, so I don't know if that same equal opportunity type lender rules would apply to an independent investor.  I feel like people with crazy amounts of money invest in very specific things all the time depending on their views in life.  I feel like I read news articles all the time about that.

I don't know, I'm just brainstorming here.

What I do know is that I want to eventually branch out my investments from traditional stocks and bonds and what not.

Maybe I could be a passive investor that specializes in investing in specific types of businesses.

Who knows.

I mean, I feel like most business owners don't need investors.  They already have what they need, hence, being in business.  Plus there's a million banks chomping at the bit to lend money out left and right,  So who am I?

I guess eventually the right thing will come along,  for now I just keep the course with my dividend investment plan of generating a solid income portfolio that has growing dividends.

Well, that's the extent of my musings for the evening.  Time to go to bed.

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5Apr/180

Tickets! Get Your Tickets!

SO, we're officially rolling out the ticketing system at work. We've been using it for a little while now. It's great.

Why is it so great? Because if you don't measure something, you can't manage it.

Up until now the phrase people always used was "Emailing Helpdesk is a bit like a blackhole..."

It's terribly true.

Without any kind of tracking system, for example for packages... How would you know where your order is?  You placed the order... But where is it?  When is it being delivered?

I mean, that's just the start, there's so much more.

Some things that can be done when you start tracking things is... You can now tell how much resources you really need.

Here's an example... Before this ticketing system, I tracked everything in my Outlook tasks.  What was happening?  The number of open tasks just kept going up.

At the beginning of each month, I'd take a tally, and it would keep going up...

Now, those tasks are all going into the helpdesk software... Guess what's happening to the number of open tasks week by week?

That's right.  It's been steadily going up...

It's simple mathematics... The number of new requests, minus the number of requests closed.

In and out.

It's the same with money.  If you make more money than you spend, your savings goes up.  If you make less money than you spend... Your savings goes down.

I've been trying to get everyone to understand that the reason why our task number seems to be level is because we just have people who stop asking for help and find a workaround to their problem.  The problem was never solved... The ticket just kind of... Went into limbo, AKA the blackhole.

I've never liked it.

I feel as though we need another person on our team... It's similar to lines at a grocery store... When there are lots of people waiting in line, you gotta open another check out.

Right now, tickets come in faster than we can resolve them, it's been like that for years.

But we basically just try to prioritize and fix the immediate needs, and then let the others simmer.

One thing that people see now is there ticket number.  So, just by counting numbers up, or asking among coworkers... What ticket number are you?  You can get a general sense of volume.  If the last time you put in a ticket a month ago you were ticket number 100 and today you put in a ticket and you are number 200... That's 100 tickets in a month.

What I did though yesterday is, I put the number of open tickets at end of day on the dry erase board.  So that we can see our real number of open requests.

Why?  Well, because the dry erase board is directly located in front of the door at the back of our office.  SO when people come to our door, they see the board and see the number of requests.

Again why?

Because now, when someone comes to the door and they are super angry and want help immediately, they will see that number directly behind us in a big outlined box...

Hey, don't get me wrong, every request is important... But the reason you might not have been helped isn't because we don't like you or your request was purposely passed over...

It's because, just like you, there are so many other people who also need help, and the wording every person uses is... ASAP.

If you only have a handful of people and you have thousands of people who could possibly ask for help, it's mathematics... You can only help so many people so quickly.... Beyond that, you have to prioritize who gets help faster and who gets help slower.

If you have 100 patients coming into a hospital and only 2 or 3 doctors...

You take the worst cases first.

We'll still do that.  But instead of people waiting and wondering why we haven't gotten to them yet, they can now log in and check the status, and they can look at notes we've made...

In addition, knowing the open request number will hopefully help us to be motivated too... Although we're already pretty motivated, so perhaps, as the number climbs, it will help us to prove that we need to hire another person for the team.

There is an alternative to hiring another person though...

So, another use for the ticketing system is to be able to generate reports that can be analyzed.  Then, we can see on a more macro level what kind of requests happen over and over again.

If there's a way to minimize or reduce the repetitive requests, that can reduce the number of tickets coming in... and then we wouldn't need another hand on deck.

The phrase here is to work smarter, not harder.

For example, let's say people come to us a lot to get their gaming devices on our network... Which people do.  Right now, if you want to connect an Xbox you have to submit a MAC address to us, and we manually put it into a MAC filtered list for the wireless network.

So, one thing we could see from the tickets is the number of monthly or per semester requests that people are submitting the same request over and over again... I want my gaming console on the gaming network.

Instead... We can purchase some kind of software that lets the students self manage that.  They can log in, use their email address, type in the MAC address and add it to their list of devices.  They can add and delete devices as they please, without needing to contact helpdesk to do this.

This is a much better way to manage this, and it reduces the ticket load coming in.

Hire another person?  Or buy a small piece of software that reduces the manual labor.

I've mentioned this many times before and it's been nodded at, but nothing came of it.

But, as the months go by, we can spin out reports and see what tickets and questions are asked most often, and is there a way to reduce those questions.  That's what I'm really interested in, efficiency gains.  Making the day to day operations smoother.

It will be interesting to see that.

It will also be interesting to see what exactly happens as the requests coming in and now being officially tracked as every request has a specific ticket number and can no longer fall through the cracks.

With my previous system, I would follow up with people sometimes more than a year later, and they would still say the issue was unresolved.  I would then mention this to people, and they would respond "If it were really still a problem, that person would have emailed helpdesk again".

That's one way of doing it, the squeaky wheel gets the grease type of method... Personally, I think every request should be tagged and numbered and followed up with until there is confirmation that the issue is resolved.

Relying on the person to email multiple times if a request does fall through the "blackhole"... Is not a good way to manage things in my own personal opinion.

For example, we had students who had reported suboptimal wireless coverage in their residence halls.

They would report it, and for a good amount we could fix it by maybe adding additional access points, or changing the operating channels to account for interference...

But for a few students, they would report it... It wouldn't be addressed, and they would seek out alternative solutions...

One solution is to bring in their own router from home.  This now adds to the interference, and while it fixes the issue for the student, it adds channel noise and makes conditions worse for other students in nearby rooms.

Another solution?  They transfer.

So, a student who had asked to have the wireless signal in their room fixed... Didn't receive assistance from our department... And because the ticket was never tracked and followed up with, and was assume, "If they still had a problem, they would contact us..."

Well, they never contacted us... But it wasn't because the problem was resolved... It's because they transferred to another school.

I'm hoping that we can be more hardline on addressing these types of things instead of just saying "Hey, there's only so much we can do".

I don't like excuses in the workplace.  I like solutions.  If things aren't working the way they currently are, get smart and figure out better solutions to solve the problems...

But always... ALWAYS... Solve the problem.  Don't just assume it was solved because the person stopped responding.

After all you know what happens when you assume?

As my first boss at my first job said to me on the first day... "When you assume, you make an ass out of U and ME."

Track it, make reports, show the data... Discuss the data, analyze the data, interpret the data, come up with better solutions, then implement the new solutions, then take in new data... and analyses that new data, and then implement further changes based on that... And repeat.

The keyword there is data... So you need ticketing software to collect the data in order to review and make good data driven decisions based on that data that you've analyzed.

Otherwise?  You assume the problem is no longer an issue, think everything is great wonderful and grand, when the reality is the person just decided to leave your organization and go to another one where they will get the service they request instead of just having their request end up in a blackhole.

 

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