Thursday, January 31, 2008

Retail Rule #1 - Know thy Customer!

They say in the retail business it's important to know your customer... If this is true then Wal-Mart apparently doesn't know its customer AT ALL! I mean, come on... Self check-out stands at Wal-Mart?
Watching Wal-Mart's average customer tonight try to run a register was like watching a baby take its first steps on an escalator. What the hell?

Either Wal-Mart believes anyone can run a register or they really need to take another look at their customers! You'd think these people would be more indignant about being what basically amounts to as "unpaid help" too, but noooo... Like drunks at the carnival eager to win their girl a prize they step right up. And, just like the weighted milk jug that barely wobbles against the breeze of the whiffle ball thrown at full strength, the register out-smarts them every time.

And, what of the poor woman stationed at the control podium... Doesn't she realize she's being paid one salary to do the job of FOUR cashiers? Sure seems unfair to me given how fast she was running back and forth and sideways to clear error codes caused by customers clearly out of their depth.

It's very frustrating for a customer like me who, under normal circumstances would be shouting, "Off with their heads!" at the first hint of this kind of performance slowing me down; but it's not like I can complain at all, since these are basically unqualified volunteers.

Hey, Wal-Mart! Just because someone can shop doesn't mean they're qualified to navigate the mechanics necessary to complete the transaction. And, here's another dirty little secret for you - some of your customers use up all the brain-power they have just picking out what they want to buy - so putting a register between them and the door is just asking for trouble!

The only thing more horrifying than what I saw tonight would be if these people were actually required to do the math!

As I waited (and waited) I realized that Target doesn't have these self check-outs. Is that because they know their customer, or because they prefer to do all the heavy lifting for them?

Just an observation!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You shop your way, I'll shop mine!

Click on photo to view full-size
We've all seen those kinds of shoppers - the ones with their measuring tapes stretched out over stuff at the store, burning up grey matter (and their salesperson's patience) trying to calculate whether or not something will fit the space. Me? Not so much. I like it, I buy it and whether or not it fits is an after-thing.

Besides, I think knowing whether or not a piece is going to fit takes all the fun out of the surprise when it comes and you realize it really doesn't fit at all.. Trying to make something fit always inspires me to try new things in decorating. In fact, some of my best buying mistakes are things I can't imagine not having in the house.

Such was the case tonight when I arrived home to find my Pottery Barn order was delivered. The monogrammed pillow shams, fit. The duvet, fit. The angel wing mantle piece, never in a million years...

Well, not unless there's a plan to move into one of Ludwig's castles in Germany or the Hearst estate back in California I don't know of yet. It's at least five times bigger than it looked and it dwarfs the big beveled mirror hanging above the mantle, where I intended it to stand. Wow!

And, our fireplace mantle is much bigger than most, so that's why I was so surprised that this is WAY bigger than it looked in the catalog and on-line. I mean, seriously, go to and look - they show this piece standing on what appears to be an average size mantle with lots of other things placed around it.

But fit wasn't my only problem... I spent a half hour trying to make the support poles screw into the bottom of the wing. I finally got so frustrated that I packed the whole thing up, taped the box closed, wrote DEFECTIVE on the packing slip and called Pottery Barn customer service to complain. I told the poor woman that I wanted to meet the China-man they paid $2 a week to build these things and that unless she was willing to dispatch him to my house to put it together for me, she could arrange for a pick up because it was packed and ready to go.

I told her that it even appeared that IF the support poles did screw into the wing, there was NO way they would both align to fit into the holes drilled into the base; therefore, it must be defective. I told her I did not want a replacement and demanded a full refund, including shipping for everything I bought on this order, just because of the extreme frustration this event caused me. Then, I told the woman that I felt really mislead by their depiction of the piece too since it is actually much bigger than it appears in their photos. To this she says, "we offer dimensions within all of our product descriptions to help you measure before ordering, mame." Really? Where I come from the customer's always right even when she's wrong... So I said, "You shop your way and I'll shop mine, okay?" Sensing she may have crossed a line with me, the woman apologized for the inconvenience, processed a full credit, and then to my surprise, she told me to, "just pitch the item" since there was no point in Pottery Barn paying to ship it back just so they could toss it there. Satisfied with her answer, I thanked her and then I threw the box out into the garage.

Well, a bit later, the man I love comes home, finds the box on his way to the door and decides it's something I need unpacked. And, he doesn't just unpack it, he puts it together! Then, he comes into the house and asks me where on earth I plan to put this huge angel wing-thing. Covering up any hint that I'd already unpacked it and tried to put it together myself, I told him it's a Christmas piece I thought would look nice on the mantle; however, since it clearly won't fit, (said while doing my best surprised by how big it is look) I would just return it. So he says to me, "Well, didn't you read the dimensions in the description before you ordered it?" Okay - First, after 22-years, he should know better, and my second thought was, DIMENSIONS? Maybe he's the one man on the planet that actually does read the articles.

Yes, I'm keeping the angel wing - and, No, the good Catholic-girl in me couldn't keep an angel wing without confessing to Pottery Barn that it wasn't actually defective. So without admitting any wrong-doing (or incompetence) on my part I phoned customer service back to ask that they reverse the credit processed by the representative I spoke to earlier. Well, either it's my lucky day or Pottery Barn really just wants to keep me as their customer, because I was told to enjoy the piece with their compliments. And all that without another word about those silly dimensions!

Something everyone Should know...

Here's something I bet no one else will tell you today... Never rub your eyes after using Puffs Plus with Vicks to blow your nose. Owie!

How is it that they can remind us sleeping pills may cause drowsiness or that it's safe to use cat litter around pets and that we should never reuse empty Liquid Plumber bottles to store beverages, and forget to mention that rubbing camphor and menthol-infused tissues around eyes might cause irritation and/or discomfort? Hum.

Okay, so maybe I should have known. However, in my defense - those of us that need Puffs Plus with Vicks should be considered worthy of the extra reminder; especially given the impairment NyQuil can cause!

Any way, I'm on the road to recovery here... As my dear friend Carroll says, "Better living through Chemistry" is working for me! I have not yet regained my senses of smell or taste but I'm hopeful they are just around the corner - because do let me tell you, if I cannot taste salsa on Superbowl Sunday, I'm going to be pissed!

Colds suck.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rock Star!

President Bush signs autographs after delivering the State of the Union address, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, on Capitol Hill in Washington

Not so Psychosomatic!

I hated to do it for a variety of reasons, but this morning I went to see a doctor. I went to bed with a fever and don't believe I got 30 minutes sleep all night... So I had no choice. Unfortunately for me, half the City started their morning feeling the same way I do. So while I was sure I'd be the first seen when the walk-in clinic at my family practice opened at 7AM, I acutally fell fifteenth in line. Luckily for me, time flies when you're nodding in and out of consciousness so the hour I waited seemed like just five minutes.

After his exam and hearing what I've been doing on my own, the doctor said to me, "Well, I can tell you that all the Zicam in the world won't stop this train." Great!

He said what I have requires no less than a 5-day course of azithromycin and he gave me vicodin for pain. While I refused the vicodin, I couldn't take the azithromycin fast enough! The doctor wrote me out of work for two days, which stinks. So I'm home doing exactly what the doctor said to do - drinking plenty of juice, sleeping when I can and popping Advil every couple of hours.

While I was at Mapelwood this morning, William was being seen at Forsyth Peds located on the other side of their parking lot. He tested negative for the flu but has some viral thing that's causing him to feel about as badly as I do. So we're both down for the count today.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Every two hours Until...

Please, dear God, do NOT let this be a real sore throat! 

How is it possible that I can go to bed feeling perfectly well and wake up eleven hours later feeling like my throat was run up and down the surface of a rusty cheese grater? I don't get sick so this has to be psychosomatic - Heath Ledger and Christian Brando reportedly both had pneumonia and both died this week... and, just before I fell asleep I heard something on the news about 250 Wake Forest students being treated for the flu, which caused my last waking thought to be that I should call Brandon to suggest he go to the student clinic at ASU to get a flu shot. Then, I wake up with a sore throat. Coincidence?  I think not...

Maybe this is just a symptom of withdrawal caused by the end of football season. Or perhaps it's due to a chill I got during the hockey game Friday night. Could also be a side effect of all the housework I did yesterday morning. Of course he said it's probably a lack of s-x, but if you ask him, everything I find wrong is due to a lack of s-x; including s-x! So that's not it... Could be all the hard work I put into our department move at work last week. All the extra contact with (sick) co-workers and those dusty boxes full of underwear I tossed out of my office - I don't know... All I do know is that if this is really a sore throat that leads to some kind of chest cold I'm going to be ticked! I mean, seriously, who has time for a cold!?

So! First thing I did when I woke up this afternoon was take a steamy shower and hunt down all the zinc in the house. I now have Zicam and Cold-eez within reach. Zicam makes me gag but when I take it with a cherry Cold-eez in my mouth I'm able to get it down. Taking Zicam is what I imagine licking drywall tastes like. Any way, my plan is to stay in bed the rest of the day and take both every two hours. Directions indicate I should take one every two hours until I no longer feel like I'm dying. Wish me Luck!

Wait! Hold on a minute! Is that fever I feel?

Monday, January 21, 2008


If you don't want to hear me go on about the weather stop now and go back to whatever you were doing before you logged on to my blog. Okay... but you've been warned!

It is COLD here! And, no... this isn't California-Janet whining about the weather because it dropped below 50 degrees and her pool is still covered. This is me going on about 22 degrees cold. While it isn't as cold as Kansas, North Dakota or my home-town in Germany (as I am being reminded) it is still cold. This morning when I woke up (okay, it was closer to afternoon) it was in the teens! That it was too cold to move was confirmed when I realized Bingee was sleeping huddled up against my thigh, under the duvet.

So here I am, the heat pump is cranking, the feather bed is on the bed and I still need a hot water bottle on my feet and the heating pad under my butt is set to high.

I am particularly miffed because during November and December when I couldn't wait for winter holidays winter couldn't be bothered to show up - I had a pedicure after Christmas because I was still wearing open-toe shoes. And, when it was a balmy 70 degrees around Christmas, I actually thought I had something to entice my parents away from Monterey to come live here because they were complaining about how cold it was there. But today, I am happy mom and dad don't live here because unlike some, I don't believe my misery needs their company.

So now that the holidays are past and I'm over not getting snow at Christmas winter decides to make an appearance; and what's worse, he forgets to pack snow. No, dustings don't count!

In my mind, winter has an expiration date that coincides with the removal of our Christmas tree. Christmas tree goes, spring comes. That's how it works in my mind... Look, the daffodils are already two inches tall all over the property so in my book, winter blew his chance.

I'm rambling so obviously the cold has taken over my mind. Is this heating pad still on or what!?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A little Snow dust...

Not the 2-3 inches they predicted for us yesterday but enough to make the day interesting and beautiful!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What I Love most about Snow...

Snow Birdie
Snow Squirrel at the Buffet
What I love the most when it snows here is how still it feels. Everything seems frozen in time except the little creature who brave the cold hoping for a meal. They are all so much easier to spot against the white winter canvas too. The cardinals and other colorful birds are extra beautiful in the bright white landscape. Everything feels fresh and looks so clean and pure... The variety of birds we have is amazing, and there's nothing funnier and more entertaining than watching squirrels hop in and out of the snow.

I could hardly sleep last night after learning that snow would begin to fall between 2 and 4AM. When I looked out the window at 2:30 I was disappointed, and when I looked again at 4AM snow was falling but not much. However, the next time I looked at 6 o'clock, we were covered and it was beginning to rain. Now it is outside as you see it in the pictures I'm posting and there is still a light rain falling. I (over) filled all the feeders so none of my outside critter-friends will go hungry today. Bing is snuggled up with me and we're working from home today, due to weather.

I do so love snow and I welcome all that Mother Nature can deliver!


Finally! Not much, but I'll take it...

Monday, January 14, 2008

They are having a Sale!

I had a return to make at the mall so while I was there this evening I stopped in at Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn and lucky me, both were having a sale!  I picked up three boxes of hand crafted vanilla marshmallows and this cute cheese platter at William-Sonoma. The cheese platter was originally $39, on sale for only $8.99 and the marshmallows were marked down to $3.99 from $18.50 a box.  I could not wait to make hot chocolate after dinner tonight...

The marshmallows are incredible - So worth $18.50 but so much better at $3.99!

It was a Great weekend, until...

This was an amazing weekend... Amazing until the Cowboys lost to New York that is!

Unfortunately, a new 67-million dollar contract and a year to practice did little to improve Romo's ability to play football because the same dip that dropped the snap last year showed up last night to throw into double coverage in the end zone. Painful, that's all I can say... At least ending our season last night frees Tony up to do what seems to be really important to him right now, which is cheese for the paparazzi with that Girl.

Disappointing end to my football season aside, this was still an amazing weekend.

Brandon is back at ASU. Amie II picked him up Friday evening on her way back to ASU from where she lives in Pinehurst. While their plan to drive up together saved us a trip to Boone on Saturday, the upset to our original plans meant canceling our dinner reservations and that I would have to accomplish all of Brandon's laundry and pull all his stuff together between 5:30 when I walked in the door from work and 8PM when his ride arrived. Sure, Brandon could have done his laundry and pulled his things together while he was home alone all day but that didn't happen...

Nevertheless, I am Super-mom with super-capacity washer and dryer so I got it done with time to spare. I did all of Brandon's laundry and then rushed him over to Costco and Target for all the necessities that we had intended to pick up on our way out of town Saturday. I have to tell you that I was kinda looking forward to the trip up to Boone... But what can I say? At nineteen, I know Brandon would much rather pile into his girlfriend's car and get up to their dorm (and the parties) early, rather than get a good night's rest and drive up with this parents on a Saturday morning. Besides, who am I to stand in the way of such fun?

So we spent Friday evening stocking up on all of Brandon's favorite munchies at Costco and then cruised over to Target for body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, razor blades and enough deodorant and hair gel to get him through another semester. Before home we stopped at the ATM for cash and then let him go... After Brandon sailed off to Boone we went out for a late dinner at Chili's. Not exactly Ruth's Chris, but it was dinner.

This is where it gets good! The last time we stayed in bed after noon was before Brandon was born. But to my happy surprise, that is exactly what we did all day on Saturday! I woke up and got out of bed at 11AM to shower and make bagels but after that our feet didn't touch the floor again until 5 o'clock. Heaven! And, it's exactly what we both needed...

Our dinner reservation was for 6:15PM so we were forced out of bed. We made a quick stop at Marshall's so I could return a bunch of shoes I bought before Thanksgiving but never took out of the boxes - Then we were off to Greensboro.

Dinner was fantastic! Even better than the last time we went to Ruth's Chris. It was quiet, and while the service staff was all over us, dinner was slow and the food was spot-on! We each had a salad to start and the Thousand Island dressing they make there is worth telling you about. It's zingy and creamy with small pieces of egg in it - The real deal! I had the Caesar salad and it was just as good. We both had the fillet, his topped with grilled shrimp. I know sizzling butter over the steak is their shtick, but I don't care for it so I ordered mine without it. We ordered the steak fries with sun-dried tomato and garlic and a baked potato sides but really shouldn't have because the broccoli au gratin we shared was plenty.

For my birthday, Ruth's Chris invited me to desert on the house. I chose the cheesecake with fresh berries but I didn't expect to get my own whole cheesecake. Incredible, but way too much!

Any way, for someone with a mid-week birthday this year we managed to celebrate it just right on Saturday with plenty of rest and a fabulous meal. Oh, and the company wasn't too bad either!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

42-years ago Today!

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Baby Girl - COOPER

The O+ there is my blood type. At birth, I weighed 6 pounds, 9.25 ounces. When Mom and I left the hospital they noted the card to say I weighed 6 pounds, 10.5 ounces

Monday, January 7, 2008

Angry Sea!

Dad took these pictures yesterday... Storm watching in Monterey was alway so much fun! Now, it's number 37 on my list of 11,004 things I miss about living there.

Speaking of weather - Winter in North Carolina is shaping up quite nicely for us. We'll hit 70+ degrees today and near 70 again tomorrow. I washed and waxed my truck yesterday afternoon and did not want to go back into the house because it felt so much like Spring. Truthfully, I'm ready for it... I would LOVE some snow; but if it's not going to snow it may as well BLOOM!