Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 really was great

I loathe looking backward. I know there's learning to be done, but honestly, rehashing what I should've done in one situation that I can't change instead of applying what I learned to a situation that I can change just doesn't interest me. I learned that a long time ago as I used to stress so much about the decisions that I make.

Back in high school, I was so stressed trying to choose the right classes that I thought would dictate the perfect future, that I lost hair over it. Literally. Big bald patch right where my spine met my skull. Cost her $300 each session for four sessions and me the pain of having tiny cortisone injections in my head for the hair to grow back. After that, when I'd stress about having to plan a National Honor Society Charity Basketball game or taking a Calculus test, my mom would sit me on the couch, put her arms around me and say "There are very few decisions we make in life that can't be undone. Go with your gut and we can handle what happens from there." I would take a deep breath and as I visibly relaxed in her arms, she'd whisper "Besides, I can't afford for you to lose any more hair." Then we'd laugh.

So, while I can't change all my decisions, I've tried to worry less about them and just make them as they come. 2008 brought plenty of decisions for me to make and as I look back, I've been happy with them all.

Here are some things that I'm especially thankful for in 2008:
  • I continued a healthy lifestyle (as I get ready to chow down on a wonderful filet that Chef is preparing as I type)
  • lost more than 60 pounds and weigh less than I ever have as an adult
  • continued to write and am close to finishing a rough draft for a novel
  • gained great new friends and established stronger bonds with old ones
  • worked hard to finally meet my potential at my job, which I adore
  • opened my home and heart to three new pets and then thought "Why haven't I had pets for the last few years??? What was I waiting for??"
  • survived and will continue to bear the burden of a weak IU basketball (and football, but does that really count?) team that will begin what I am sure is at least three years of taking on the Cubs mantra "There's always next year"
  • that I actually like exercise and even more now that I've got a Wii fit
  • I am finally turning 30, so that when people try to dismiss me as "too young" I can look at them and say "I'm not as young as I look. I'm in my 30s."
  • However, I am forever thankful for my gene pool which, if my aging process holds to my mom and dad's, will have me looking younger than my age for decades to come
Thank you to everyone who was a integral part of my great 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cash or Credit?

This time of year I almost always start digging in my purse before I get out of the car. I hear the signature bell of a cold holiday worker saying hi as people try not to make eye contact. I almost always search for whatever change or cash I have to stuff some into the kettle. Call it Christmas Karma or the fact that I remember more than one Christmas where my mom made my brother and I pick out Christmas gifts for a less fortunate family. Whatever the reason, I always like to toss some change in the bucket.

However, in the last couple of years, I've begun to notice something. I don't carry cash and rarely do I have any change except for the odd penny that's been tossed in my ash tray because I can't find any other use for it. Anything that I need can be bought with my debit card.

Lately I've come to notice that I'm not unusual. Most people don't carry a lot, if any, cash. So, how does that affect donations? Apparently it made them go down enough that the Salvation Army is testing using credit card donations at some locations this year. They're also doing a texting donation pilot as well.

It's weird to think of how things we get used to have a trickle-down effect on other aspects we never think about.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What I would Rather Be Doing Today

I'm sitting here for the last 10 minutes of work with about 40 minutes of actual work to finish and instead of getting a crack at it or even caring, I've decided to blog and then leave the 40 minutes for me to do when I get back in January. That's right. January.

Today was a day when I labored through the "important" deadline driven items to make it to the holiday potluck (I made the aforementioned Parmesan Herb Bread). Then I came back in, got on a conference call, did work, met with a volunteer for an hour and tried to get the last three items on my TO DO list done before 5. I got the last two done and realized it was decision time. Be late getting home and finish up or write this blog. I think the decision is clear.

Here are things that I would've rather been doing than working today:
  • sleeping in with Chef and the three cats--okay let's be honest, nearly anything involving Chef and the cats
  • watching reruns of 90210 and The OC on Soapnet
  • Shopping for Christmas presents as I only have one bought right now
  • reading reading reading
  • eating Parmesan Herb bread (which I'm doing now anyway)
  • talking with my friends

Well, it's 5 p.m. now so I'm heading out. Wooo hooo for holidays!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Damn you, Heath Ledger

Am I the only one that can't watch The Dark Knight too many times? I don't know why, but I was drawn to seeing it in the theater. Well, I do know why. Despite his odd mouth, I was drawn to Christian Bale as Batman. Skeptical of Chris Nolan and the new "darker vision" of Batman from Batman Begins, I was hooked.

Batman Begins was intriguing and new and actually had an interesting story. Let's face it. Batman does the best when Bruce Wayne is developed. Not when Batman is the focus. That's why Michael Keaton's first one was a hit and why the spandex-clad, nipple showing versions were crap.

Ready for another dose, I was a little hesitant and having a hard time believing Heath Ledger could pull off a Joker like Jack Nicholson. Boy was I wrong. His portrayal makes Nicholson's turn look like a bad imitation. We left the theater and Chef turned to me and said "Damn you, Heath Ledger!! Damn you for overdosing." It was the highest compliment he could give the guy at the time and I was in full agreement.

Since it came out on video, we've rented it from red box once (bless you $1 movie rentals!) and every morning on my walk, I have to resist the urge to pop in Harris Teeter and rent it again. I hope Chris Nolan can write another one. I hope that Christian Bale's voice doesn't give out from being so badly gravelly when he speaks as Batman. I hope that they can figure out a way for Aaron Eckhart to come back as Two Face. I hope that we can get a better Vicki Vale than Kim Basinger.

I hope for so many things. Mostly because they've met all my hopes so far. My next hope is that awards voters can get over themselves and their "serious" craft to recognize The Dark Knight and it's stellar combination of talent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Locked My Cat in The Closet

This morning has not started off as well as I'd hoped. I got up and went for a run, which was nice and quiet. The ice had a lot of local schools closed and the cold left the sidewalks empty. Although I promote health for a living, when it comes to a bunch a people clogging up my sidewalks, I become quite selfish.

So after this start, I went back in and got ready for work knowing that I had a little more time than normal to get ready as I had a doctors appointment that I was heading to instead of going straight to the office. Of course, I quite appropriately used this time to play with our new cats. Yes, that's cats, as in plural and in addition to our previous kitten. We were able to adopt additional pixie bobs to play with Genghis and add to our cat army. One of the cats (Attila) snuck into the closet as I was turned around and I shut the door without knowing. That's one thing about cats. They're stealthy. But nonetheless I'm carrying cat guilt.

Then I felt guilty because I feel asleep with the big TV on and watching ESPN. Love learning my sporting news while subconcious, but hate that the "ESPN Bottom Line" logo got burned onto the plasma TV. Chef says it's better now, but I was feeling guilty and sad about that.

I guess my life can't be too bad when I'm feeling bad because I have animals, electricity and technology in my life. Damn, sometimes I sound so ungrateful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Okay, Illini, You make me nervous

Half of my family spent the majority of their formative years living in Illinois. The other half spent their formative years a few miles away in Indiana. What worries me isn't anything personal to any one person. Rather the aggregate.

How do you select your governors? Is it by blind luck? How can one state (aside from New York, perhaps) have such as consistent record of choosing corrupt politicians? Gov. Rod Blagojevich refuses to step down from his post as head of the state, despite strong allegations of trying to sell President Elect Obama's vacated senate seat.

How much balls does it take for a Governor to sell a Senate seat vacated--not by a death for a legislator or by someone disgraced out of office. By a PRESIDENT ELECT!! Did he think no one would notice? How much of an egomaniac do you have to be to think that you can get away with that? The answer: Blagojevich-ly egomaniacal.

For a state the is filled with relatively nice, normal, good valued people, they seem to band together towards the weirdest choices. Since 4 of the last 8 governors have been indicted, can we take away an electoral college vote or something? Can't we penalize a state or an aggregate for poor decisions? I know that coming up with a standard to judge this sort of thing would be hot button, but why now lay our trust in the three branches of government and say that indictment is enough to back up a claim. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stress-free Holiday

In years past, I've tried to force myself to feel the Christmas spirit. Wrapped presents, put out some sort of decorations, sent out cards, baked. All the usual things to make it feel like a holiday. Maybe it's the constant barrage of bad economic news, the suddenly cold and wet weather or just my scrooge-like nature that's coming out, but this year, I'm just not up for it.

I will take part in the usual fare: assorted Christmas parties (but I refuse to agonize over a Dirty Santa present to end up with angel print socks), the family gift exchange (although I am not going to agonize too much over gifts and end up spending more to make it look better), Christmas cards (e-cards this year are my saving grace), and the occasional baked good (Parmesan Herb bread for the annual work pot luck).

However, I've also resigned myself to breaking bad habits. This year, I will not:
  • Be guilted into travelling 600 miles more than usual to see my cousin's great aunt's gall bladder surgery. I will be there for the important things, but I'm learning to draw the line this year.
  • Let anyone else spoil the time I am spending with my family.
  • Take things too seriously. Traditions are nice and there are some to hang on to for dear life, but not everything is a tradition. This year I'm giving myself permission to ditch the tradition.
  • Run to 500 stores to pick something up because I'm afraid to give someone something from Target. I love Target and if that's where I find your gift, that's where I'm getting it.
  • Judge my popularity, self-worth or love by how many Christmas cards I get.
  • Treat Chef as a visitor to my family, but as he truly is: my family. We are both visitors up north.

Those are my Christmas season pledges. We'll see how many I actually keep. Hopefully all of them. Every time I start to feel scrooge-like I remember that kids get 60% more toys than they expect. So the world can't be doing too badly.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Best. Pet. Ever.

Apparently I'm getting to end up bragging about the best pet ever at least once a month from now on. If you read this blog, you're going to have to deal with it because Genghis rocks.

He is now a monster kitty, at least in all ways that are good. He's gained about 2 pounds a month since we got him, but I'm attributing that to Chef's diligence to the BARF diet. Not only has he gained weight, but his coat is so smooth and luxurious that I know Cruella de Ville would have made a coat out of him. And his poops no longer make Patrick's friend feel like they're "chewing on a turd" when he uses his litter box.

Chef even started on this without me knowing. I wasn't super excited about my pet eating raw food. Considering I can't even cut raw chicken because it makes me feel like I'm sawing through human flesh, it goes without saying that Chef has handled most of the food prep.

Anyway, our loving bundle of feline cuddles has taken to sitting on our chests and purring as we stroke him. It's precious. His demeanor and perfectness has us wondering if we can expand our household by two more kittens. Maybe not now, but I see more bundles of fur in our future.

Genghis when we first got him (Oct. 2008)

Genghis Now (Nov 2008)- see how big he's gotten? And he's gained about 2 lbs. since this!

Genghis Now (dec 08) with the two extra pounds

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Struggling with the Four Food Groups

I'm trying with or without success to get back on the bandwagon to healthy eating. I'm still working out and running/ walking twice a day, but I'm back sliding on what I eat. Today, was no exception.

I started out with oatmeal and ended up with pizza. Free pizza to be exact. Two words that I can't seem to resist. Free delicious pizza on a day when I had exactly three minutes to shove food down my gullet between meetings and deadlines.

As I was molesting the pepperoni off a slice, I thought back to when my mom used to argue with me about my diet. I had a junk food habit and despite being active in up to three sports a year, I was still overweight. As a grade schooler, I used to argue with her that pizza was a great way to get all four food groups in at the same time. The crust provided grains, the cheese dairy, the pepperoni provided meat and the sauce vegetables. And if you had mushrooms, pineapple or anything else that didn't have eyes at one time, then that was a bonus.

She didn't buy it then and I'm not really buying it now. But tomorrow is another day and there's little chance that free pizza will make its way into my life two days in a row.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Time to Play Find the Saltine Again!!

Last year I was very disappointed when NBC canceled Scrubs. And then even more disappointed when the writers strike rushed their swan song on the network. The end was a very crappy fable ending that was sucktacular. JD, Turk, Carla, Elliot, Dr. Cox and the gang deserved better.

So I was super-happy to hear that ABC picked up the show for mid-season!! In a mere month, Scrubs will premiere on my new favorite network. January 6th- mark your calendars. The first episodes have Courtney Cox playing the new chief of medicine. I'm so hyped.

Not only that, but last season left us wondering "will they or won't they" finally hook up with JD and Elliott. And seriously, can you ever say goodbye to the Bromance that is JD and Turk? I just want to buy a stuffed dog, paint a Transformers mural on the wall, get matching walkie talkie watches and ride in a scooter gang just in anticipation.

Zoom zoom zoom, bitches.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another Patrick Swayze Christmas

Patrick Swayze isn't dying. He's got pancreatic cancer which has about a 91% death rate for cancers, but he isn't one of them. He is, however, pissed that the tabloids say he's dying.

Have you seen Patrick Swayze lately? Even before the cancer, he wasn't looking so hot. I'm glad that he's doing well, because so many people don't, but when was the last time you thought about Patrick Swayze without being prompted by a Dirty Dancing or Ghost showing on AMC?

We used to think about Patrick Swayze a lot. (We being my weird ass friends and me). In fact, we thought about him so much when I was in high school that a friend of mine decided to throw a "Patrick Swayze Christmas." The friend was a straight male and I think the party theme was dictated more by access to a lifesize Patrick Swayze cut out than anything else, but still, to this day, it was one of the best parties I've ever been to.

Aside from the obligatory copious amounts of alcohol, there was Patrick Swayze movies playing and a karaoke contest. The winner of the contest was supposed to get a satin jacket with a parrot singing into a microphone screen printed on the back. Second place was a jar of "Chicken Tonight!". However, the jacket ended up in my friend Amanda's car when no one was looking and since then, we haven't been able to track its whereabouts specifically.

Some of the events might have occurred at the Kenny Roger's You Got To Know When to Hold 'Em Saint Valentine's Day Dance, but either way, it was a good time.

So as you're wrapping up your $15 Dirty Santa gift for a holiday party, may I suggest that next year you just ask everyone to bring $15 worth of alcohol and their favorite Patrick Swayze movie. Black Dog, Road House, any one will do. Make it a Patrick Swayze Christmas.

Monday, December 01, 2008

She did it again. . .or did she?

I admit it. I watched the Britney Spears "documentary" last night. I spent the whole time alternating between feeling sorry for her, feeling like she's saying what she thinks she's supposed to say and being horrified at Madonna's bad face lift.

Honestly, I don't know how much we can trust a documentary that promises to "ask all the questions" you've been dying to know. You can't call it misleading because they didn't say she'd actually answer them. However, they cleverly never delved into her sister's unexpected pregnancy, the whole debacle with her mom and anything to do with the custody battle going on for her kids.

I felt sad watching her get shuttled from one photo shoot or video or appearance to another and then hearing her say that she has to always act happy because it's better than the alternative. (Which I guess is shaving your head and attacking a paparazzi car with an umbrella). I felt sad when she said that when she loves someone she wants to be around them all the time and feel good by being near them. Wow. That's co-dependency. Learn to love being around yourself first.

Mostly she talked about her upcoming album (which hits stores tomorrow-what a coincidence?) and how she felt like she was right back doing what she belonged to do. However, when the most touching testimonial in the documentary comes from her choreographer, that's not a good sign.

And lastly, the Madonna factor. No one even mentioned in the documentary that Justin performed at the Madonna concert that Britney was at. The world wants to know what she was thinking about him being there and if she was pissed about Madonna setting it up like that. We don't care if Madonna has maternal instincts toward Britney. It was nice of Madonna to say that and then for the filmmakers to cut to an awkward Madonna chatting about how she wanted to cancel the show, then cutting back to a very overly lit and pulled taut face of Madonna yammering about Britney finding herself. Really? Two husbands, three kids and adulterous scandal helped you find yourself Madonna?

I love Britney. I have to admit it even though I'm too old for it. I love to bob my head to her songs. I just hope that before she goes on TV again to explain her feelings that Britney has chance to understand them herself.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Are you ready for some. . .campaigning?

Only one more day of campaigning and then 24 straight news hours of rehashing until the election. And yet, as I look back on this campaign, I can't think of a time when campaigning for our vote has taken such a unique and weird turn. Because ubiquitous seems to be an understatement for messages and how we get them these days, it seems like both candidates are doing their best to keep up with everything that goes on.

Can you remember a time when candidates for the President of the United States showed up on Oprah, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, Extra, and Mike and Mike in the morning all in one season? I actually went to both candidates web sites to check out their messages (knowing they'd be heavily skewed in their favor, but it's nice to see what each side thinks of themselves and their opponents.)

It's not just that, but acting has apparently become a mainstay as well. Both Obama and McCain have had to have their comedic chops ready for some self-depricating humor.

Gone are the days of just kissing babies at rallies and taking a train ride across the U.S. These tactics are not forgotten, but when vying for the vote of the younger generation, new ways are tested. Yes, we know. Young people don't vote. But there are two things here: 1) actually they have lately. Voter turnout for youngsters has risen for both the 2004 and 2006 elections--a first time in history for two election periods with increases. 2) Older people like to be considered young and hip too. The Internet is not so foreign and widespread media is even less of a risk, so reaching out in the middle of regularly scheduled programs is not so out there.

This is only the beginning. Think about tonight. On the eve of the election, Obama and McCain are going to be speaking with . . .Chris Berman. The Swami is interviewing both candidates during halftime of Monday Night Football. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. But when the product your shilling is yourself, more brand awareness isn't a bad thing.

One good thing: After tomorrow we're back to our regularly scheduled programs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Hope My Vagina Doesn't Get a Vote

Am I the only one that feels like this election is about putting people in boxes? Most elections generally are. Pundits try to predict our votes because of our demographics. But I think this year is worse than most.

With a black presidential candidate and a woman vice presidential candidate, it seems like we've been duped. At least I feel duped. If a black man votes for Barack Obama, it's not because he shares his values, likes his arguments or sees his reasoning. It's because a black man is voting for a black man. Don't think this is true? Then look back a week to Colin Powell's announcement of his voting preference. Never has that man been more black than when he said he had been swayed to vote for Barack Obama.

I feel like Republicans are no better for choosing a female vice presidential candidate. After months of going after Obama for his lack of experience, McCain chooses a Governor with only 20 months experience in the office. Before that she was a mayor in a town of 6,000. But choosing Palin is supposed to be great because she's not inexperienced--she's a Washington outsider. However, charging your family's travel expenses to the state when they were not invited to attend seems like something a lot of Washington insiders would do. I'm not knocking her for taking her family with her. I'm all for it. But I also don't want my tax dollars going to pay for Bristol to stay in Westin for four days.

So when I get in the voting booth, I'm really hoping that my vote will come from my head. Not my skin color or my gender. I hope that some profound effect doesn't happen where my vagina suddenly grabs hold of my hand and makes me vote for a woman because she's a woman. I just want to vote for who I think is the best candidate and the pundits, parties and world can continue to try and predict it. At least it gives them something to do.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm A Cat Person. . .Who knew?

Less than a month ago, Chef and I adopted a kitten. "Adopted" being a euphemism for shelled out hard earned money to buy the love and affection of a new family member. Chef found a particularl type of cat breed online that he soon became convinced would be the answer to our dilema. Our dilema? We're both dog people.

Neither Chef nor I had owned a cat before. We both had dogs and loved the qualities that make dogs so special: loyalty, happiness to see you, the ability to be trained. But Chef wanted a Samoyed (big dog) and I wanted a Yorkie (small dog). So we compromised on finding a large cat.

So Chef searched and found the Pixie Bob. What Chef was also looking for was to fulfill a need for having a "battle cat." Not anything Michael Vick-like, but Chef wanted an imposing cat. So, after months of leaving cute Pixie Bob kitten pictures on the computer and convincing, I got just as excited as he did.

We went to the nearest Pixie Bob breeder we could find, which was two hours away and the only Pixie Bob breeder in the state. We picked out our small, 3 lb. 3 month old little guy and took him home. He only meowed right before we got home and it was because he had to poo.

Anyway, we are now whole-heartedly in love with our kitten. His name is Genghis (keeping with the battle cat theme) and he follows us from room to room. Chef is toilet-training him, so soon there won't be any litter to deal with either. I know I'm biased, but he's just about the cutest cat-dawg ever.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Don't Buy Hitachi: The 2 percent sucks!

We bought a Hitachi 50” plasma TV and it broke after three months. It then took us nearly three months to get a working TV. After three service calls, more than 20 phone calls, and hours on the phone, I’ve come to learn a few things about Hitachi’s customer service department that really disturbed me.

  • Many of the people I talked to said they would take action on my behalf and either didn’t take any action or didn’t even have the capability to do so. For instance, I would ask them to call or email the sales department to request the status of an MRA and they would say they had done so. When I called at a later date, I found out that these actions never happened.
  • Because of this, I often felt lied to and manipulated.
  • On at least two occasions, I asked for a supervisor during the middle of the day and was told that none was available. On these occasions when I asked for one to call me back, they told me that they didn’t do that.
  • Only twice in the 10 or so times that I asked a service rep to read my file before talking to me did they actually do so. Thank you Vosco and Christopher.
  • Despite the fact that my TV was unable to be fixed, I had a great local service repair contact: H S Electronics. They actually worked around Hitachi when Hitachi told them how long many of the parts delivery would take.
  • I had to ask Hitachi to expedite shipping on every part after waiting more than three weeks for the parts department to reopen (when they did, they did not have the part I needed—my service rep had to find it).
  • When I began to complain about slow service or I asked for a supervisor, I was often told that Hitachi was doing better than they should have for me. That’s pretty hard to take 6 weeks into a process where I still didn’t have a working TV.
  • None of the service reps I talked with early in the process told me the normal timetable for which repairs are made. If I had been told, my expectations would’ve been lower from the beginning.
  • One service rep told me that they didn’t really get my money anyway. That Best Buy got my money so they would care more than Hitachi.
  • When I asked service reps why I would ever buy Hitachi again, the response was “we make good products” and “we only have a two percent failure rate, which is below the industry average.” I, unfortunately, having called them to get service on a three month old TV was not one that received a good product, but one that feel into the two percent range.

During the ten week ordeal, we did receive good customer service from two Hitachi reps: Vosco and Christopher Wallace. We also got great advice and service above and beyond from our local service rep- H S Electronics. In the end, Best Buy really valued our business and gave us a new upgraded TV with delivery without having to pay anything additional.

I don’t think that a broken TV is the end of the world, but I wanted to commiserate with others who have wanted something so badly and were disappointed when it broke. And then mad when it took almost as long as you had the item to get a replacement. I also wanted to warn others making a big TV purchase that if you fall in the two percent with a Hitachi TV, you are in for a LONG ride.

For a more thorough version of the ordeal, see the full story below.

The Hitachi Saga

On March 5th, Chef and I decided to make a big purchase. After months scouring the internet, we decided to buy a plasma TV. Having bruised our toes kicking the projection big screen that had been given to us, we were finally ready to move into the digital age. So, we went into Best Buy, found the TV we had wanted and put it in our rented truck. We got it home, bought a new stand for it (which we drilled holes into), and sat back to marvel at the picture on our new Hitachi.

We had bought a Hitachi P50S601 50” inch plasma with 1080 and a great motorized base. We’d been warned that a plasma could have glare and this one did, but the base helped negate that pretty easily. Everything was going great until June 12th. I was out of the house and got a text from Chef that read “The TV is broke.” In a panic, I replied “Which one?” hoping it was our small one in the bedroom. “The big one,” his reply read.

While watching on that Thursday night, the TV had suddenly blinked several times, shown lines of alternating picture and black and then sound and picture disappeared completely. Trying to stay calm, I checked out the warranty, then our extended Best Buy plan and figured we’d be covered. I mean, we’d only had the TV three months, surely this wasn’t usual.

I called Hitachi on June 13th and they referred me to a local service rep. The rep called me back within 30 minutes, set up a time to come by the next day and asked us exactly what had happened. From our description, our service center (H S Electronics in Gallatin, TN) deduced that it had been either the digital main board and/or the power supply. Having neither of these parts, he contacted his part supplier to order them.

This is where things went from bad to worse. Hitachi was moving its parts department and it be closed from June 17 until June 30. H S Electronics told me this and recommended that I try and get a new TV, as it is not custom for a 3 month old TV to completely lose sound and power. So I made the first of what ended up being 15 calls to Hitachi each one lasting an average of 10 minutes (this does not include the 5 or so calls they made to me).

After talking with the service rep Aarian, I was give to Bill, the supervisor on duty, who told me there was nothing that I could do to speed up my service time and that they would double the amount of time the TV was broken and add it to my warranty. When I asked him to replace the TV instead of fixing it, he told me that it would take much longer to get a new TV than to fix the old one. That was on June 17th.

Three days later Hitachi called and left a message to tell me that it would not be June 30th but actually July 7th before I got my part. When I called back to ask why, I talked to Pete (for the first time) and he told me there was nothing he could do and no, I couldn’t talk to a supervisor because one wasn’t there. It was 10 a.m.

During this time, H S Electronics was trying to find a part distributor—any distributor—across the country that would have the part as to not have to wait on Hitachi. Hitachi did nothing to help ease this process and at this time told me that even their parts department did not have the part needed for our TV, so it would have to be ordered from overseas and it would be at least July 21st before H S Electronics would have the part. That was more than FIVE WEEKS from the original time the set was broken. H S Electronics found the part at another distributor which meant the part would be delivered on July 9th. However, I had to personally call Hitachi to get them to reimburse him for the overnight shipping because they had originally REFUSED to pay him.

The bad news was that the two original parts were not the problem and yet another part had to be ordered. That’s how TV repair works apparently. Trial and error. So we got another part—the logic board—and H S Electronics returned to our house to make the repair. The bad news continued as it was not the logic board either. On July 10th, we found out it was the panel board—a part that Hitachi would not replace but instead would get us a new TV.

When I called Hitachi yet again to complain that the request I had made four weeks earlier for a new TV was finally being fulfilled on a TV that cost a small fortune, I got Mike. Mike was pretty patronizing. At this point, I was fairly certain that somewhere in the file when my name popped up, so did “BITCH.” I just didn’t think it was right that a broken TV should take longer than a few weeks to be rectified.

Mike just irritated me more. He told me that it would take 2-3 MORE weeks for an MRA (Merchandise Return Authorization) number to be given to me. That it was essentially reversing the sale of the product between Hitachi and Best Buy so that the problem would then become Best Buy’s to deal with. Mike told me that panel boards are just too expensive to replace, but that I shouldn’t be that upset because they were doing BETTER than their warranty by replacing the broken TV.

I requested a supervisor and got Adam Jones (who wasn’t the same Adam “Pacman” Jones that caused turmoil in the NFL). Before we began, I asked Adam politely to take a moment to read my file before we began to talk. He immediately told me that he had already read it before getting on the phone with me and didn’t need the extra time. It would be proved repeatedly while I was talking with him that he had not read it other than my name and TV model.

Adam told me that my expectations of a speedy repair were out of line as the typical repair time for Hitachi was 4-6 weeks. In the at least nine other calls that I had had with Hitachi NOT ONE person had told me that. His tone was patronizing as he repeatedly said “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Not “I’m sorry” but again putting the onus on me. He again repeated that Hitachi was doing better than the warranty by giving me a new TV. I then told him that the cat was out of the bag as Mike had already told me that it was too expensive for Hitachi to replace the panel board. After being cut off at least three more times, I finally asked Adam one thing: Why should I ever buy Hitachi again?

“Because we have the lowest failure rate in the industry at 2 percent.”

I guess he didn’t realize that he was talking to the 2 percent.

After that it took 6 more days for Hitachi to even process my receipt and start the MRA process. They called several times over the next two weeks to let me know they were working on getting my MRA and then the calls stopped.

On August 12th—nearly a MONTH after the process began on July 16th, I called Hitachi and got Pete (again). He told me that I was on the last step and that the MRA would be issued in the next 24 hours. He would request an update from sales (who was the last step) and they’d get back to me. They didn’t.

I called back at 8 a.m. CST on the 14th of August and got Wendy. Wendy told me that it was too early for her to call Sales because they were located in California—where it was 6 a.m., but that she would send an email to request an update from sales. She apologize because sales had been on a retreat and was behind.

Five days after that I called Hitachi AGAIN and got Bob. Bob informed me that since August 10th no one had called sales to request an update—in fact no one in his department even had the ability to call sales. He then told me that I could try going into Best Buy without the MRA and see if they’ll replace the TV. Again, I asked to speak to a supervisor.

It was at this time that I got Christopher Wallace. He informed me that it was taking longer than normal for the MRA, but that it normally takes at least 3-4 weeks and that no one should’ve estimated time for me. He listened to my saga, apologized for it taking so long, empathized and then said he would talk to someone personally about my case.

On August 20th—TEN WEEKS after my TV originally broke, Ron called to give me our MRA number and said that by the weekend we could go into Best Buy and they would help us.

At this point, Chef and I were fearful. Neither of us had any illusions that we’d leave with a TV. We walked into Best Buy on August 23rd and were pleasantly surprised. We got the operations manager, who pulled up the information. I asked him to listen to an abbreviated version of the saga before we began. He listened, empathized and then said he was confident he could get us an even better TV than before. He also hooked us up with another manager who was more knowledgeable in the TV department. In the end, we got an upgraded TV, free delivery and our Best Buy warranty was transferred to the new TV.

So, after nearly three months, did we end up with a new Hitachi? Hell no. At this point I’m leery of anything that even ends in “I”—no “Suzuki” or “sushi” or even “manicotti”.

We have a new Panasonic and we love it. If it works longer than three months, I’ll be happy. If it breaks and takes less than three months, three service calls and 20 phone calls to repair, I’d be ecstatic.

Friday, July 25, 2008

So Many Books. . .So Few Hours

Last weekend my dad came to visit me One of our many activities together was visiting this great used book store. We spent an hour and a half roaming around and I left with an armload of books (added to the armload I'd bought earlier in the week). Now I'm staring at a good two months worth of reading and I feel like each time I choose which book to read, I'm choosing which child to strap the emergency oxygen mask on first when the plane goes down.

My first choice was Ann Patchett. If you haven't read any of her books, I suggest going out and getting at least one--perhaps Bel Canto or Patron Saint of Liars. Anyway, I'm now reading her latest book "Run" that I got in hardback version for less than 50% of the list price. I'm sure writers don't like that, but I love it.

Speaking of writers, the book that my essay appears in will be available for sale on Sept. 25th. Unfortunately the launch party is about 16 hours away, so that's not possible. However, if you're my friend and want to get the book, let me know.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Missing My Girls

Have you ever gone without close female companionship for so long that you feel a pain in your ovaries from lack of common estrogen? It's not that I haven't been around women. Lord knows that our office is less than 10 percent male so we have more PMS days than paydays around here.

However, it's not the same as being able to call someone a bitch without the fear of an hour long visit to the HR representative. The only girl that I can call my "girl" where I'm at happens to work with me, but it's crazy how when you're busy and both out of the office how quickly the deep ache for an hour long session about who was a whore last weekend can take hold.

There are only a few people in my life that I can truly be myself around 100 percent. Luckily, Chef is one of them so there is that nice respite when I come home. Being able to burp as loudly as I want and only get a head shake or "what do you say?" in response instead of a horrified look like you'd just killed a puppy with your salad fork.

It's just weird how many "me"s there seem to be. The me I am with Chef is different than the me I am with my writer's group and the me I am with my hometown girls. I miss being able to hang out knowing that I'm going to be harrassed about something but also knowing that if I wasn't I wouldn't be so loved.

Perhaps it's all the damn hype about Sex & The City or maybe it's because I haven't been up north in almost a year. I need to get drunk, eat pizza and set off some fireworks with my girls!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Milestone

So today is a big day in my life. Not because of anything big that happened or because it was a day that marked anything special. But today I officially hit 60 pounds lost.

I started changing my lifestyle in August and since then, it's been a challenge, but well worth it. I am officially no longer obese by clinical standards. I fit in normal clothes and I've cut my fat and calorie intake. . .a LOT.

Originally 60 pounds was the goal, but now I'm aiming to weigh less. I'm hoping to take off about 15 more pounds so that I'm well within the "healthy weight" range.

I couldn't have gone even one day without Chef's support. What's more is that I've fallen more in love with him because he loves me no matter what size I am. There are few people that can truly say that they will love you no matter what, but with him, I believe it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Am I thinner or dehydrated?

The last few days I've been asking myself this question constantly. I'm drinking less water than normal, but I'm still getting plenty of fluids. Yet, my lips have started to crack and my hands are perpetually dry. I've also lost weight. A few pounds since my last weigh in, so not enough to be afraid, but I'm wondering if I lost all water weight.

What are the signs of dehydration anyway? How much water do I have to drink before Chapstick starts working again to soothe my crusty lips?

On another note, the lady in our office that's notorious for not wearing her shoes has now been sporting a full body brace for the last month. Apparently she fell in December and it's just now hitting her. The brace looks like she's always sitting backwards in a chair that's too small for her. I'd feel some sympathy but she only complains about her back when we ask her to fold letters or anything else that is her actual job. She has no problem lifting an entire catering tray of sandwiches so that she can nibble on them. And it hasn't prevented her from taking her shoes off. Perhaps I'm just evil or perhaps my bullshit barometer is just highly attuned.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Purging for the sake of Purge

I'm not talking about any kind of eating disorder so if you were fooled by the topic, don't worry about reading on. I had a moment a few weeks ago where I looked around the apartment that Chef and I shared and about had a nervous break down. It's not that the apartment is all that bad or that we live with old stuff or anything.

It's just that I know that a house of our own is a few years away. Sadly, I've been waiting to upgrade our stuff until we either move or get married, whichever comes first. I'm now tired of waiting and even more tired of the years of crap that I've accumulated. It would actually be worse if we had a house because I would accumulate even MORE crap. It's mostly my fault. I bring stuff home with good intentions. Now our house if filled with good intentions.

So, I've systematically been weeding through each room of the house and throwing away anything that hasn't been worn, looked at, used, or handled in the last 18 months. I started (and still am finishing up) the bedroom. So far, I've thrown away, given away or taken away five garbage bags full of stuff. The most important thing is that it is AWAY.

I don't care if we have to eat on the floor while we save up money for the furniture we want or watch a busted up TV while we save for teh HD version. It's time to make our living space what we want it to be and not just what we can have.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

High School Memories

My friend Natalie sent me this questionaire via email. It was different than the usual "what are you wear? Send this out or you're damned for life" kind of chain, so I thought it'd be fun to answer and post here. It's a rehash of high school. Funsies.

1. Did you date someone from your school?
Not technically.

2. Did you win anything in Seniors Who's Who?
I don't remember my high school doing that, so I guess the answer's no.

3. What kind of car did you drive?
1985 Cutlass Supreme that I named Carlos

4. It's Friday night...where r u?
Working at a sporting goods store until 9 and then meeting my co-worker (who happened to be my high school softball coach's best friend) in the mall parking lot for a beer delivery

5. Were you a party animal?
Not by the people in my high school, but by the kids in college that I actually partied with. . .yes.

6. Were you considered a flirt?
Only when I used to stick a green glow stick in my cleavage at parties. Most of the other times, no.

7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
Not in high school.

8. Were you a nerd?
Yes. I went to class, did my work and got the hell out of there.

9. Did you get suspended/expelled?
Sadly, no. I was the only one of my friends to NOT get suspended during my high school tenure.

10. Do u remember your school fight song?
Sadly, yes, but that's because it's also the Michigan fight song.

11. Who were your favorite teachers?
Mrs. Goebel and Mrs. Mautz, Mr. Kelley

12. Where did you sit during lunch?
The journalism lab

13. What was your school's full name?
William Henry Harrison High School

14. School mascot?

15. Homecoming court?
Yes, we had one. No, I wasn't on it.

16. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
College-yes. High School-no.

17. Where did you go senior skip day?
I didn't get to skip because I had a softball game that night.

18. Were you in any clubs?
Yes. NHS, the paper, German Club.

19. Have you gained some weight since then?
Gained it and lost it.

20. Who was your senior prom date?
Didn't go to senior prom. Instead I went to eat Chinese and then to the after parties.

21. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion?
Already skipped it.

22. Who was your home room teacher?
Mr. Ballard-an odd mix of Ross Perot and John Denver.

23. Who will repost this?
I don't care.

24. Did you play any sports?
Freshman and JV volleyball, freshman cheerleading and Varsity softball for four years.

25. Do you still talk to people from high school?
Yup. At least two on a semi-regular basis and two more when I can or they aren't pissed at me for some unknown reason.

See? Wasn't that fun?

Monday, February 04, 2008

I survived. . .but the Patriots didn't

What a week! I survived turning 29 (although today when I said it, one of my coworkers said "But what's your real age?" as if I were older and just claiming to be 29), two events within 48 hours, and a Superbowl.

What a great game! Even better was a Patriots loss. I'm going to pretend that I saw it coming, but I did dread the avalanche of accolades the team would've gotten if they'd gone undefeated. I'm clearly not a Patriots fan, but despite all that, I was surprised at the lack of sportsmanship that came after the game.

Yes, I think Bill Belichick should've stayed on the field until the last second was run out. Crazy as it was, it seems poor form to leave before the final tick of the game clock. And not that Belichick is ever exceptionally talkative, but the post game interviews were lame. The man has no problem being called a genius (if you can find me a quote where he denies this title, please let me know), but will not allow anyone to really question his decisions.

And Tom Brady acted so surprised at the beginning of the week when Plaxico Burress predicted they would only score 17 points (in the end they didn't even hit that number). His response sounded like "an older brother who has 50 pounds on his younger brother when his younger brother challenges him to a wrestling match." And yet, in the end, he not only had nothing to really say, but also pulled out of the Pro Bowl because the mysterious ankle injury flared up again.

Is it me or does anyone else think that Brady and Moss pulled out of the Pro Bowl because they didn't want to have to answer any tough questions?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

29 on the 29th

Me, Oprah, Tom Selleck. We all share a love of guns, a tendency towards self-deification and a birthday.

I turn the big 2-9 on the 29th. I think as a kid I dreamed that this would be a magical birthday. I'd be old enough to realize the numeric symmetry and have some kind of zen year because of it. Of course, that's probably not the case seeing as its a mere day or so before a weekend of hectic frenzy with work things. But there's always hope.

My hope is that soon I'll have a stash of cash to buy some new clothes. While 2008 promises to be double awesome, 2007 brought about a much needed reduction in my size. My clothes that I wore 6 months ago aren't even a viable option any more and the clothes that I'd kept from my slimmer days are now too big as well. I'm really living off the donations of friends and family at this point. It's not a bad problem to have and I'm nearing a size I haven't seen since I was in 8th grade. I'm compelled to keep going, but it's time to stop being cheap and buy things that actually fit.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

Wow! It's 2008 already and I'm already slammed. The person starts on Monday which should relieve me of most of my old duties, but the next two months are going to be crazy at work. Aside from that, Chef and I came back from the holiday to find that our computer had crashed. We had to restart the hard drive from its original state which meant that I had to pray hard that I'd backed up my novel and other short stories. Luckily, I had.

Our trip to our homes for the holidays was definitely interesting. Chef and I created a new car game to pass the time. We also passed a place in Florida that simply had a sign that read "Fantasy Bingo." From this we created our own Fantasy Bingo team. Devised like fantasy football, my first selection in the mock draft was the 72 year old blue hair from Missouri with excellent memory recall.

All in all, it was a great holiday that unfortunately left me wanting more time off. A wish that I won't get into well into March, if I'm lucky. Oh, well.


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