Tuesday the 15th
When we first picked out the counter tops at Lowe’s, Cabinet Guy told us that if we did buy it from them we would get a free sink. Cool.
Then the Contractor told us that we should shop around for the counter top because we could get something a lot cheaper from a local granite place. Well he was right, it was a lot cheaper, but that was mainly because we were looking at a different grade of granite. If we did buy from the local shop we would have to buy our own sink for $175. That figure is not a lot compared to the stone, but every little bit saved…
This last time at Lowe’s we looked at the lowest priced granite and it was only $2 more a square foot than the local guy and it was sealed with a 15 year warranty, so decided to just get it there. Plus the sink was free.
After about the third time of hearing that the sink was free, I muttered just loud enough to be heard, “It ain’t free, it’s in there somewhere.” Cabinet Guy responded that it was free as long as we picked from one of three standard sink styles.
When we got home I put the Lowe’s quotes inside our little remodeling folder and removed the counter top quote from the local guy. Before tossing it I looked it over and noticed the price break down; the sink was $175 and the sink cut out charge was $100. I looked back at the one from Lowe’s and sure enough the sink was listed at $0, but the sink cut out cost was $280.
Free sink my ass.
Tuesday the 12th
Last night we went to Kroger to stock up on some more restaurant gift cards. There were two reasons for this, one, no kitchen, so for the next couple of weeks we will be dining out fairly often and two, they were offering 4x fuel points. So the $100 spent equated to 400 points or an additional 40¢ off a gallon of gas above what we normally get from our weekly shopping.
A big disappointment was that they didn’t have any DD cards, because we eat there at least twice a week we burn through those $15 cards pretty quickly. As we were checking out I suggested that take out twenty in cash too as I only had two dollars in my wallet. Donna agreed. As I was going through the motions of checking out, Donna asked the employee manning the area did they have any Dunkin Donut gift cards in the back or somewhere. I paused and waited until the attendant got back, empty-handed, to finish checking out. I gathered up the gift cards and their accompanying bits of paperwork and we left.
This morning when we got to work Donna asked for a dollar so she could go to the machine and get a hot chocolate. When I opened my wallet to give it to her all that was in there was just two dollars. Uh, oh, I instantly knew what happened. I was so caught up in the DD card process that I never grabbed the twenty out of the dispenser. Dumbass!
Donna saved the day by calling the store, and lucky us the cashier noticed the lonely twenty dollar bill and turned it in to the service desk. Retrieving the money after dinner this evening was quite an adventure and if I get around to it, a post in of itself.
We Almost Out Of Texas
Wednesday the 6th
This morning we all went for a couple of short walks near the lodge as we were marking time until Donna’s oldest brother Jim arrived. Jim was taking a day off from work in Dallas to come down and see everyone.
When he arrived we all piled into two cars and drove the 20 miles to the Rio Grande Village in the southeast part of the park. We had a picnic lunch and then took a short walk over to the boat ramp to actually stare off at another country, Mexico. Jim, myself, James and Madilyn tried to incite an international incident by throwing rocks at the other side. The river is only about 25 yards wide here and though several of our group landed rocks in the Mexican half of the river and I managed to strike land twice, no Federales returned fire.
While we were eating a roadrunner made a brief appearance near us, but accurately judging our maximum firing distance, or he was watching us throw stones at Mexico earlier, came no closer than 25 yards.
After our picnic we drove over to the Boquillas Canyon Overlook to gaze again at the Rio Grande and from this height some of its flood plain. At the parking area there were a half dozen or so large rocks covered in trinkets made from beads, pieces of Fool’s Gold and painted walking sticks in a sort of self-service Mexican souvenir stand. When we looked across the river, there were the artists and their horses sitting in the shade.
Prior to 9/11 there was an unofficial border crossing here. The Mexicans from the small isolated village of Boquillas, not too far from the overlook, would row American park visitors over to the other side to sell them these same type of items, before bringing them back across. Since then the crossing has been closed and Americans are not allowed to cross the border except via the official crossings a hundred miles east or west of here. I’m guessing there is a sort of understanding between the park rangers and the villagers that as long as they are not actually on American soil actively selling these items it is OK. And they let the Mexicans ride across the river in the morning to set up “shop” and then back to collect their unsold wares and proceeds each evening.
Straight Hat As A Metaphor For A Baseball Season?
Monday the 22nd
My Red Sox Nation Citizenship package arrived in the mail Saturday. This year instead of the basic Starter Level package I usually purchase for $15, I doubled my investment and went for the All Star Level. For the extra dough I got some stuff that was cool, a 12″ x 18″ page full of Red Sox Fathead decals that I can stick various places and a Red Sox Yearbook. And some not so cool, a catalog of Red Sox themed merchandise to buy and a small drawstring bag made sort of like a sweatshirt or a small sweatshirt turned into a sort of drawstring bag.
But the real draw was the free hat. Regular readers who are more obsessed with my life than I am will remember that last year’s Red Sox hat only stayed in the head wear rotation until May before being donated to Goodwill because the sox were hanging crooked. This year’s RSN hat has its socks dangling at the proper angle and this season is looking good so far.
Ship To Store (Act 3: The Final Curtain)
Monday the 13th
As part of the kitchen remodel that spread out over nearly the whole house we needed some new living room curtains. We shopped online and found some we like at Lowes. We went to the store and they had them on the shelf, but only in the 84″ length and we needed 95″. To make sure these were what we wanted we bought one panel in 84″ to take home and hang.
We like ’em. I go to Lowes.com to order 6 panels (it’s a big window) and there are 3 delivery methods, Store Pickup, Lowe’s Truck Delivery & Parcel Shipping. Store Pickup is free. Parcel Delivery is for whatever reason grayed out and listed as unavailable. Truck Delivery is $79!, roughly half the total cost of the 6 panels themselves. Guess which one we “chose?”
A week or so later when we get home from work there are 2 messages on the answering machine. Both are from Lowes, 2 different voices, letting us know our order can be picked up. It was the night of the monthly MMC meeting and this month it was in Aiken, so we decided to leave a little early and pick up our curtains beforehand.
We go right to the service desk as that was how it worked last time. I tell the woman behind the counter, “I’m here to pick up an internet order.” She asks for my phone number and she enters it in the register. She then looks behind her into the cage on the wall. She looks back at the register. She glances at the phone. Back at the cage. The register. The phone. She sighs. She picks up the phone and pages a Mrs. Someone. We wait. She takes a couple steps back and glances at the cage again. A guy shows up behind the counter. She looks at him. She looks at the register. She looks at the phone. Donna corners the second individual and wants to know what is taking so long to retrieve our order. He says he’ll check and off he goes. We wait some more.
The person who was paged finally makes an appearance and we let her know that this is unacceptable. We had two separate calls telling us our order was in, but no one can seem to find it. She apologizes and says, “I’ll go see what is happening.” We wait. The original woman behind the service desk is looking nowhere and especially not at us. I’m so mad at this point if they showed up with the curtains now I might just walk back around to the other side of the service desk that is marked RETURNS and get my money back. Instead we leave the store, leaving who knows how many people looking for our curtains, so we can make the Miata Club meeting.
An hour and a half later we return to Lowes and the woman behind the counter recognizes us and picks up the phone right away. She says someone will be bringing our curtains right out. We wait. Every minute, minute and a half, we would hear a conversation coming down an aisle our way and each time it wouldn’t be our curtains. It took over 5 minutes before they finally arrived. We left very disappointed in the experience vowing to shop at Home Depot from now on. And swearing we won’t ever do the ship to store thing ever again.
Thursday the 20th
No combination of rabbit ears, pre-amplifier and fancy Leaf antenna will allow me to pull in the signal from the local FOX affiliate reliably, which is supposedly closest tower to me. This is not really a big deal until football season rolls around in a couple of months when FOX carries one to two games every Sunday. In the mean time I have not given up hope of finding a do-it-yourself HDTV antenna that will do the trick. Last week I stumbled on a neat idea on instructables that looked like it was worth a shot, the Fractal Magic DIY HDTV Antenna. I even had all the pieces needs to make this baby in house.
So yesterday evening and tonight I put this magic antenna together. With just the Mohu Leaf hooked up we get the big 3 networks and their 4 total sub-channels for a total of 7 channels, with the Fractal Magic DIY HDTV Antenna – only 4. CBS and it two extra “really old TV show” channels were gone.
The antenna was magic alright, it made 2 sheets of plain paper, a 10×18 inch piece of poster board, 10 feet of speaker wire stripped of its insulation, a couple of crimp connectors, 6 foot piece coax cable and 2 hours of my time disappear.
Monday the 8th
When we eat at DD we always sit at the “bar” that is at the window looking out at the parking lot. It is always fun to watch people park as they try and fit their cars in parking spaces, especially getting an SUV into a spot that has cars in both adjacent spots. We also get to watch the resident sparrows swoop down on the crumbs left behind from dropped food around the two outside tables on the sidewalk.
One day last week we were in the Miata and had it parked in a spot in the front. We were early enough that the car traffic was light, but there were a couple brown sparrows dining on the sidewalk. I guess they finished everything on the ground because at one point they hopped up on the lower lip of the mouth the Emperor. They sat there looking inside the mouth inquisitively for a second or two before disappearing into it and coming right back out.
They couldn’t go far because I have a mesh grill in there to sort of protect the AC condenser. But that is only as far as they wanted to go, they were picking at the dead bugs collected in the grill.
By the time I thought that’d be a cool picture and I grabbed the cell phone, then fumbled around trying to figure out how to take a picture, someone pulled in next to the Miata and spooked them off.
Thursday the 8th
Early this week they put clear lucite sign holders on every single table in the cafeteria. Inside each one is a flyer calling for volunteers to sign up to be a First Responder. Every one in Maintenance is already trained to do this, but they are looking for a few more good (wo)men. They also put one on each of the six tables in what management refers to as the break area out front or what everyone else calls the smoking area.
For the last couple of days they have been putting up wall mount versions in every restroom. There is one on the wall just above every urinal and one on the inside of each stall door. I figured they were going to fill them with more of the please be a First Responder sheets, but they remained empty. Until this morning.
The ones in the Men’s Room out in the Turned Parts Department, near where my cubical is, had advertisements in them this AM. One of the urinals had a Viagra ad over it, while the other had one for Vesicare and each stall had an Ex-Lax ad, one vintage and very modern.
Once word got out about them, people were going in just to look, conversations ensued as to whether they were for real or was someone just having fun. Seriously, how could it have been anything but a joke. I know sales are slow right now, but would the Valve Store really try and make up some of that money by selling ads on restroom walls?
I’m insulted that no one asked me if I had anything to do with it…
Coupon & Self-Checkout Fun
Thursday the 12th
After dining out this evening we stopped into Kroger to pick a couple of items we needed. Donna had a coupon to get a dollar off if we bought 3 bottles of Suave body wash, so those were among our 10 or so items. There was a speedy lane open, but I prefer the DIY approach of the self-checkout.
When I got most of the way done scanning, Donna headed over to get the attendant to scan the coupon. The attendant who wrangles the 6 self-checkouts was not inside the self-checkout area near her console. When she was interrupted from visiting with another Kroger employee, she leaned into the area and asked had we purchased the required 3 items to satisfy the coupon (had she been near her station it would have been self evident that we had.)
As she made her way around the counter to get to the screen, she paused to chat with a customer in the speedy 10 items or less line briefly. Then once she got towards her screen at the station she started helping another customer who asked for help after we did, because that customer was closer to her station. After she helped that other customer she finally started to scan our coupon.
She tried at least a half dozen times, pausing between scans to tilt her head in wonderment that her wand wouldn’t do its magic, because the coupon just wouldn’t register. By this time we felt we had waited a little too long to make it worth it for saving a dollar on our order, so we abandoned our bagged items and headed for the door. As we walked by the attendant’s station, on the other side of the counter, I heard her apologize about it taking so long as she looked in the direction we should have been. It was too late, we kept on going right out the door, but not before I snatched the coupon back out of her hand.
If we recall correctly, this isn’t the first time we have had trouble redeeming a coupon at the self-checkout, so when we go back tomorrow to get the things we need we’ll probably use the 10 items or less aisle.
Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards
Thursday the 17th
When Kroger started selling gift cards they stocked 2 hooks full of the Dunkin Donut $15 cards and one of the $30 denomination. We bought them there, used them up and then tossed the empty card away because we could get double the fuel points for each dollar spent on them in the store. About six months ago, one of the hooks of $15 DD cards was replaced by some cards for the Cheesecake Factory. The next month the $30 hook fell to the same fate.
The fifteen dollar DD cards on the remaining hook became hard to find, as soon as they were displayed, they disappeared. We asked a couple of times at the service desk how come they had trouble keeping the cards available and our answer was always, “We stock what the warehouse sends us.” About six weeks ago they just stopped filling the slot entirely (at least they didn’t add another Cheesecake Factory row.) After having to use our debit card for a couple weeks for our breakfast purchases we finally broke down and bought a gift card at the Dunkin Donut store and have been refilling it online ever since.
Our fair city has two Dunkin Donut stores and you can’t buy a gift card for them at Kroger. If you want a $25, $50 or $100 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory you have plenty to choose from, but to use one of them you will have to drive 150 miles to Charlotte, NC or Atlanta, GA.
Thursday the 28th
We are visiting Donna’s sister and family in Florida and this morning we told them we were going for a walk. Well, we went for a WALK! Needing a couple of things and with the only place open on Turkey Day around here that would carry all of them being a CVS, off we trekked to a shopping center a little over 2-1/2 miles away. As a bonus, there is a DD nearby for mid-trip refreshments.
We were about a half a mile from their house on the return trip when I heard a distinctive buzzing sound, I knew instantly what it was, a blimp. The sound of one flying is very unique and to me unforgettable, but maybe that is because of my first experience of hearing one.
Back in my high school years the favored hang out of my friends and I was behind a junior high school just down the street from one friend’s house. There was a slight hill at the end of the big open field that served as the school’s soccer field. We would sit near the top, close to the tree line, surveying what we considered our kingdom.
Many a summer night was spent laying back on the hill consuming purloined beers and smoking cigarettes while solving the important issues of the day. One particular evening after three of us had finished off a couple of hand rolled smokes we heard this strange buzzing sound. First we each looked at each other to make sure we weren’t the only one hearing it. Then we started speculating wildly as to what it might be, there was of course the typical paranoia, but soon that changed thoughts of a possible UFO.
As the noise peaked, the stars that were bright in the sky above us started to disappear. Soon, nearly all the sky above us was black and the buzzing was deafening. We knew any minute now that we would be beamed into the space ship and be confronting little green men.
Suddenly the sky erupted into daylight as thousands of LEDs started to spell out a word – G……O……O……D……Y……E……A……R
Root For The Ol’ Home Team
Thursday the 26th
When it came to draft day for the EZEFFL back in August, a couple of the owners wouldn’t be available to be at the draft. Those that couldn’t make it, made arrangements for a substitute, who had their proxy to pick players. Some had elaborate matrices on who to pick for their stand-ins, while others instructed they use the pick the next best available player strategy.
One of the owners who couldn’t be there, got Donna to pick his team. They both have New Orleans in their roots, so his and her number 1 priority was the drafting of Drew Brees. Along with that, he had a couple of specific requests and a collection of pick the best available of this position in this round selections. As there luck would have it, Donna managed to make all his asked for picks. Because of this, she granted herself the unofficial title of Director of Player Development for the Swamp Rats SR team. So during the season, right after she asks me how my team is doing on Sundays she asks about them.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning of this week. After a mediocre 4-8-1 season I got hot in the playoffs and won three games in a row advancing the Purple Whales into the Championship Game. My opponent is the team with the league’s best regular season record at 10-3, the Swamp Rats SR.
When I asked Donna who would she be rooting for this coming Sunday when the Whales square off against the Rats in the Lenio Bowl for all the marbles, she replied, “I’ll let you know.”