Thursday, February 26, 2009


Looks like the local health officials were right about this year's influenza peaking right on schedule, although what my kids have appears to be a mild case of the creeping shpilkes and not the full-blown flu that's laying people low. Beast has been cranking out the green schmutz at an impressive rate but that hasn't stopped his usual rascality, and now Noodle has picked up a mild fever and she likewise is far from debilitated; she's spending the morning at work with Her Awesomeness and I pick her up for the trip home in a few hours, then it's coloring and bumming out in front of the TV from there on in.

Here, have yourself a song you might never have heard before.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


My bride, Her Most Royal And Sublime Awesomeness, has a birthday coming up early next month. It's the Birthday That Shall Not Be Named, to be specific, and so we shall refer to it henceforth and ever after as her 28th.

Yours truly does not have a John Mayer-sized budget for a weekend blowout - and that's not milady's style anyway.

What's a guy to do?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Monday got eaten by catching up from last week, Tuesday got gobbled up by the car in the shop, Wednesday meant Maria's big show at school, and today?

Power outage. I'm running off a generator now, and so must be brief in case this outage runs all night.

Say hi to a new addition to my "useful links" section, a friend of mine of long standing: Wire, Fabric, Beads. Nothing like getting to the point with the name of your blog.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Hooray, random annoying phone calls. Which is a break from the usual targeted annoying phone calls, but these were from a couple of disaffected yoots with enough time on their hands to jabber at people - except one of them made the mistake of ranting in a threatening tone at Mama Bear and mentioning a daughter in said rant.

In all likelihood the little brat was talking out her ear, but it was 9-1-1 call time, just to be sure. Talked to a pleasant DC Sheriff's deputy who explained to us that although the tone of the call was threatening, nothing in the content per se was threatening, which is logical enough but does nothing to satisfy the urge to pitch said knuckleheads into a filth-encrusted dungeon where they will put the lotion in the basket or get the hose again.

So it's *57 to initiate a trace, followed by a call to the annoyance-call bureau, who have left for the day. Which is a bit of an annoyance.

As if we don't have enough mishegoss to deal with. But at least I've figured out how to handle Valentine's Day even though Her Awesomeness and I will be too tired and broke to have a romantic night out. We're going to do what you're about to do: watch the last couple minutes of City Lights and sob a little:

Friday, February 6, 2009


Every so often, I have it up to here with customer service ineptitude, and today I had a moment on my hands and dashed off this rant - a beaut if I do say so myself:

(I've left out the offending store's name...for see how they respond.)

First of all, the store’s great. Good fruits and veggies front-and-center first thing in the door, and that’s important to a dad like me. Also important are the clean bathrooms, because my kids are 5 and 3 and thus don’t need much to go wrong to start pitching a fit about the sanitary condition of a public toilet. Good job there. Also, you’re the only large store in the area carrying proper bacon and not just the usual Mega-Strips-O-Fat that shrink to the size of a band-aid when cooked. My kids love saying “hi” to the lobsters, too. (They don’t know where those lobsters are headed, but that’s a discussion for another day.) And finally, thanks to your architects for designing the store so that the child-carrier carts can be kept out of the elements. The imbeciles at the Wal-Mart across the river think a snowbank is the best place to park the kiddy-carts, because that way with one good ice storm they’ll be held securely in place until Memorial Day. You’re miles ahead of Wal-Mart in every aspect except when it comes to freak-watching. Listening to a grown woman with a jailhouse calf tattoo of Eminem explain to her boyfriend “and this here’s the aisle I was in LAST time I got kicked out of Wal-Mart” does have a certain amount of entertainment value.


My one beef, one with which I have had repeat experience? The pace of the employees responding to customer-service assistance calls to our bottle-return window. To call their response time “glacial” would mean we could call home all those scientists who’ve been criss-crossing Greenland warning us about global warming, because that ice wouldn’t be going anywhere any time soon.

Yesterday’s experience was typical: I carry my bags of neatly separated and cleaned cans and bottles into the store, and see that the glass-bottle redemption machine is out of order and that you’re accepting a maximum of 40 cans through the window. Fair enough – but having served notice of that, would it not behoove you to have somebody available at that window once in a while? Before the light bulb on the customer-service call button burns out from people frustratedly pushing it, and then the geniuses in Albany make you replace it with a compact fluorescent call-button light bulb that’ll cost you more than whatever you’re saving by not sending people to the bottle window more often? Knowing the store’s history of leisurely response time to the call button, I pressed it first thing and arranged my glass bottles in a neat rectangle so as to make the job of counting the bottles a simple multiplication task the likes of which my three-year-old will master before your store sends somebody to the bottle window.

Who are we kidding here? He’ll be in grad school by then. He’ll be married himself and bringing his own cans and bottles back. He’ll be in line behind me; I’ll glance at his returnables and tell him how I so fondly remember the days when I could afford good beer like his, until a certain pair of children came along, and wouldn’t it be nice if they called more often, hint hint?

Ten minutes and 112 cans and plastic bottles later, nobody had arrived to redeem my bottles. I pressed the button again and dutifully waited five minutes. Several customers entered and exited the store, briefly glancing my way and thinking to themselves…”Chump”…”Sucker”… “What a sap.”

After five minutes I went to the customer service window to inquire about assistance, and the very pleasant lady at the counter explained that all available staff were occupied bagging groceries, because 1:30 in the afternoon on a sunny Thursday is well-known as an insanely busy time for grocery shoppers. Just look at those lines out there – why, there’s at least five people checking out! The joint’s jumping! And never you mind that woman with the (store's name here) name tag outside having a smoke break.

And back to the bottle window I go.

I wait five more minutes, press the button again, wait five more minutes, have a quick chat with my wife to see if there’s anything she needs at the store, she reads me the entire Wall Street Journal over the phone, I wait five more minutes, pr—

No. I don’t think so. No more. And I shout it to the heavens: “I AM NOBODY’S PATSY!” From inside my minivan. Mustn’t cause a scene, you know.

Episodes like what I’ve just described have happened repeatedly to me at your store, over many months. Come ON. This is stupid what you’re doing, perhaps under somebody’s mistaken impression that it’ll somehow look good on the bottom line. It’s so colossally stupid that I can only think it must be a directive from corporate, because people in this community at the local level would never institute such a foolish policy on purpose, right?

Look, it’s just one. little. thing. But it would make a tremendous difference to a guy who’s on one heck of a tight schedule and watching every penny besides. It would make a tremendous difference to all those other people who I see waiting at the window with their own returnables. Seems to me that in this economy they need that buck-thirty back even more than I did. And I’d think it would make at least a small positive difference to your company as well, what with me having that crucial half hour back in my life, during which I would be drinking a bottle of the cheap beer I would ordinarily buy from your store but which I don’t buy from your store because it takes forever and a day to bring back the bottles.

Seems like a win-win to me. You make more money, I get more peace of mind. And I promise to bring back clean bottles and not the nasty schmutzed-up ones full of cigarette butts like the Wal-Mart shoppers do.


We shall see what transpires.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


...we bought so much safety gear for the house. News days with stories like this make me go cold inside. Only now are we slightly dialing back the freak-out when Noodle gets out of our sight outside the house for a moment or two, even though I can distinctly remember being five and spending hours thrashing around in snowbanks, making forts and having a grand old time by myself.

I don't want to speculate about the circumstances in this case - it suffices to say it'll send you flying down to the store for doorknob safety covers, especially if you've got kids with the wandering bug.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009