Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Entry For the Kia Sorento Ultimate Road Trip Sweepstakes

In 1987, I decided I wanted to go to the official 10th Anniversary Star Wars convention in Los Angeles. It would be cheaper to drive than to fly, but it meant being on the road for at least 10 days by myself, age 21. My mom decided to go with me, and we turned it into a great adventure, nearly three weeks on the road. We stayed at really cheap motels (except in L.A. where we stayed at the conference hotel), and we stopped anywhere that looked interesting: national parks, state parks, tourist traps ("You don't want to miss THE THING, 25 miles ahead!"). We saw the Grand Canyon, and played the slots in Vegas. We visited the London Bridge, Hoover Dam, and photographed every cactus in Saguaro National Park. My parents and I had traveled a lot when I was growing up, but I didn't appreciate it like I did this time.

My husband's travel experiences have been far less interesting. His parents would drive across the state for a piece of pie, meaning hours crammed into the car with two other kids. His dad drove around town for work on the weekends, and carried the kids with him. These excursions were more boring and frustrating than anything. Nowadays, my husband just wants to get where he's going and get back, and usually time constraints mean that's what we have to do.

As unrealistic as it is, I would love to take my husband on a two- or three-week trip like the one I had with my mom. I think that if we weren't rushed, and if we stopped anywhere and everywhere that looked interesting, he would have a good time. No telling when we'll have the freedom and money to do that, but it's a dream that I will keep in my heart until the time comes.

Now, tell about your dream road trip at MomLogic for a chance to win big.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When a Child Drowns....

It's very easy for everyone else who wasn't there to criticize and blame the parent or caregiver, the one who was "supposed to be watching." I have been and will continue to be critical of how many people parent (or don't parent) their children. In the Shellie Ross case, I think people are making some assumptions that I am not prepared to make.

I don't know how big Mrs. Ross's property is or where the chicken coop is in relation to the pool. 25 years ago, before cell phones and blogs and tweeting, the very same thing could have happened. Mom walks out to the chicken coop to check on them or gather eggs or feed them, the toddler walks away while she's doing her chore and falls into the pool.

I don't know if the critics have children. I don't. I have cats. I keep a pretty good eye on them when I'm at home, but yesterday, hubby and I were having dinner on the sofa, watching a show on TV, and Petra jumped up on the kitchen counter maybe 12 feet away (and behind a wall, but not behind a door). She pulled down a burrito that was cooling on the counter and started helping herself to the contents. Hubby walked in with his plate and caught her at it.

Do I think that a lot of parents could play closer attention to their children? Absolutely. Mrs. Ross probably tweets from a cell phone, an accessory some people consider as important as their heads. If you make or receive more than three cell phone calls on an average day, I think you're on the phone too much. I see people talking on phones while they drive, walk, bike, and use the toilet. They make and receive many personal calls or text messages at work. I recall hearing stories of children drowning in a pool or mop bucket or tub while their caregiver was on the phone. Doesn't even have to be a cell phone; the old landline variety can be blamed for some of those deaths. A landline phone ties you to the wall where the phone is plugged in.

Mrs. Ross had her cell phone with her and was outside with her son. She says he slipped away in two seconds. Maybe it was really 30 seconds or a minute or five minutes, but it wasn't long.

If you have ever turned your eyes away from a child in your care, what happened to Mrs. Ross could have happened to you, Twitter or no.

Bryson's death is a horrible tragedy for the Ross family. Mrs. Ross will live with this for the rest of her life. She will second guess her actions. She will question her choices on December 15, 2009, for as long as she lives. She doesn't need anyone else to do it for her. On that evening, her life was spinning and her heart was contracting in her chest and she turned to her friends for comfort. 25 years ago, she might have screamed for a neighbor. She might, even today, have called her mother or her sister or her best friend in order to ask for prayers, to express her grief and her horror and her fear. Instead, she texted. It's second nature to her. That brief message took just a few seconds and reached many people who Mrs. Ross considers to be her friends.

I don't know if her harshest critics follow her blog or her tweets or if they heard about that tweet second-hand. It sure didn't take them long to hop onto the internet to tell everyone in their circle of cyberfriends what they thought of the incident. It's kind of hypocritical, isn't it? To condemn someone for spending too much time on the internet in an online forum. To chastise someone you don't even know for not spending enough time with real people, from the computer in your house where you're presumably not talking with a real person because you're too busy typing. To do telephone interviews with magazines so you can get some attention from someone else's tragedy.

My dad died two years ago. It was an expected death from cancer, and my mom and my husband were there with me. When he passed, we each took turns on the phone calling the hospice worker, the funeral home, the church, and family. It wasn't long before I got online and sent some emails and posted on some forums. When you're hurting and grieving, you're in a daze, I'm sure even more so when it's sudden. You need to do something but there's nothing you can do. While the paramedics were working on her son, Mrs. Ross had to stand back, out of the way, and wait. She was restless and frightened and aching, so she tweeted. She asked people to pray for her son, because it's all she could do at that moment.

So cut her some slack.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It needed to be said.

Do you know the difference between "right" and "write"? If not, you should watch this video by Chris Pirillo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Remembering Pap-Pa

My mom's brother, my Uncle Howitt, is in town for a couple of days, and I had dinner with him and my mom on Sunday and hubby joined us for dinner on Monday. We had great conversation about food and customer service and the legal system and how things have changed. He and mom recalled the outhouse they had when they were little, and even after they got indoor plumbing, as kids they'd use the outhouse to avoid catching their momma's eye, because she was likely to put them to work if she saw them.

He told the story of how a reporter from the paper was out visiting him one day, and Pap-pa (what I always called my grandfather) mentioned that they were in for a harsh winter. This was in 1976. The reporter asked how he could possibly know that. Pap-pa showed him the dog's coat and said if the fur doesn't thin out in the spring, it's going to be extra thick for a cold winter. He showed the reporter an anthill that was close to the ground. If it was going to be a mild winter, Pap-pa said, the anthill would be eight inches off the ground, but instead, the ants were digging deep, to be ready for a cold winter. The reporter took it all down and wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about this old country farmer's antiquated ideas about weather forecasting. Come October, though, and an early hard freeze or two and the reporter came back, to do a follow-up story about how accurate the old farmer's predictions had been.

Too often we forget or discount the old ways, but that ancient wisdom came from experience and from having to make do without the internet and live Doppler radar on the 10pm news.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What digital SLR should I get?

My mom has indicated that she will buy me a digital SLR for Christmas. She's going to get the same make and model for herself, so I can figure it out and help her. I've read good things about Pentax, plus you can use 35mm Pentax camera lenses on their digital cameras (so I've heard) and we have some of those. Big benefit.

I have also heard some really good things about Nikon and Canon models.

What do you think?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Banner Ads can be so misleading.

I was on Facebook, and I should have known better. The ad showed a couple of small pink Tupperware containers and a pink ribbon and said that the free sample offer would be ending in 11 minutes. Mm-hm. And the next free sample offer will start in 11:01.

But I fell for it. I clicked. It took me to and asked for a little basic information, including mailing address, age, and general medical concerns. The next thing I knew, I was responding to page after page of "don't you want to buy a Nissan?" and "don't you want to get 180 health-related e-newsletters two or three times a week?" questions. Grrr. But I finished the survey (honestly, I'm afraid to stop, because what if I end up signed up for something because I specifically didn't say no). Did they say that my free samples would be in the mail? Did they even mention what free samples I would receive? Of course not.

So, I hunt around and look for a way to contact the company, and when I find the form, what options do I see listed in the drop-down menu for subject? Stuff like "Complaints" and "Advertised Offer Not Available" and "Samples Not Received." A little further digging finds that this site (and other sites targeting people looking for information on specific diseases and conditions) is run by Marketing Technology Solutions." Based on their own corporate website, linked-in page, and a press release about a lawsuit they recently filed against a rival, MTS seems to be in business to put ads in front of people seeking medical information and to "generate leads" -- in other words, collect personal information from people so that pharmaceutical companies (and apparently other businesses like Nissan) can try to sell them stuff.

Now, I know there's no such thing as a free lunch, except that the reason you're giving me the free lunch is in hopes that I'll want the same thing for lunch tomorrow and I'll be willing to pay for it. Luring me into the restaurant, having me fill out a bunch of surveys, then sending me away hungry is not the way to win my trust or my business. All I'm asking for is a little honesty in advertising.

Marketing Technology Solutions should be ashamed of themselves, but they seem to have come up with a scheme that brings them in a lot of money from medical companies and that's all that matters to them. Same for Facebook. They ought to ban misleading ads, but they're in it for the money, too.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Enter to win a Kindle

Click here to enter at

I would love to have a Kindle, because I would like to read some books that are only available as ebooks, and I would like to carry the complete works of Shakespeare and some reference books with me all the time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Soggy Book

Over the summer, I won a book called Counting the Cost. It's a depression- era love story, inspired by real-life events recounted by author Liz Adair's family members. A couple of weeks ago, the book arrived in the daily post. It was soaked.

A wet book is a ruined book, and as we have not had any satisfaction from the local postmaster, the branch manager, or our carrier on those few occasions in the past when we've had a serious issue with mail delivery, I didn't bother with them.

Going back a few months, when the USPS was talking about cutting back to 5-day-a-week delivery and raising postage rates again, I sent a letter through the website. I pointed out the damage that one of our carriers did to a package by jamming it into a too-small mailbox instead of driving down the 600' driveway to deliver it (we were home at the time) or leaving a slip. The branch manager told us the package should have been insured if it was important. The carrier said, if it's important, use FedEx or UPS. Seriously.

I got an email back asking for some very specific details, which have been forgotten over time. This was more than five years ago, before we moved to our current house.

I went back to that e-mail and hit reply. I explained that I'd just received this book, and it was soaked through, meaning it did more than get wet from the mail truck to my mailbox. The box itself was closed; the doors (front and back on this model) were up tight.

I received an email back asking for specific information about the date of delivery, where it was mailed from, and a few other questions. They were not responsible for compensation, but they would investigate.

I answered their questions and hit send, and I got an automated response that said, basically, I was sending it to the wrong place, the address had changed, yadda yadda. Long story short, I ended up copying the Postmaster General of the U.S. with my final report.

A couple of days later, I get a call from my local postmaster, the same person who, when we tried to call him about a previous problem a few years early, said we needed to talk to the branch manager without even listening to our complaint (which involved the branch manager's attitude). This time, he was really apologetic. He was going to go to my house and look at my mailbox and talk to my carrier and find out what happened. Wow!

An hour or so later, he called again. Said the carrier told him the package was wet when it got to Pensacola, and because he didn't follow procedure and package it up with a note explaining what happened, he was going to reimburse me for the price of the book.

At the same time, the Ms. Adair's PR lady had kindly offered to send me another copy of the book, which arrived about 10 days later (I was beginning to wonder if my carrier was taking revenge) and it was in great shape. I have offered to pay for the book, since the Post Office came through, and I'm waiting to see how to make out the check and where to mail it.

I know that the post office handles a whole lot of mail without any problems or damage. I know that accidents can happen. I do wonder what befell that first package. Did it fall into a puddle? Was there a leak in one of the mail trucks en route? How long did it sit in water? If it fell into a puddle, as long as it was retrieved quickly and wiped off, it wouldn't have been ruined. As you can see from the photo, the package was torn in several places -- did that happen before or after it was exposed to the water? Was it really nobody's fault, or was someone having a bad day and when the book fell into the water said, "Screw it, someone else'll pick it up." The Postal Service uses plastic tubs to sort and carry the mail; if water got into one of those tubs, either being carried through a downpour or because of a leak in the truck or some other reason, the mail in that tub would just sit and soak until it was re-sorted or delivered.

It's up to every person in the chain to be alert and considerate to ensure the safe delivery of the mail. I thank the outstanding men and women of the U.S. Postal Service who give their all to make sure the mail gets through. To those who think their job is not important, that they don't get paid enough to care, I hope you find a new job really soon, something that really isn't important or meaningful to anyone, because we'll all be better off without you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Something I Don't Get About Google Alerts

Google Alerts is supposed to be a great tool, and I have a really unusual name so it should be easy. The thing is, I get the same page, the same mention of my name, fairly regularly. One of the few other Auriette's in the world is a racehorse. She was racing '96-'98, from what I can tell. These same old articles keep showing up in my Google Alerts. I'm alerted about some of my tweets. Today I got an alert about a comment I made on another person's blog three weeks ago. I don't receive alerts about most of the blog prizes that I win, which are often posted on the giveaway blog. I signed up for Google Alerts to try to help me find out about wins, just in case the sponsor doesn't notify me directly or the e-mail gets lost. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem to work that well.

New Salad Dressing is Coming

I have this morning off work, so I was at home during business hours, and I called the number on the O'Charley's Honey Mustard again. Now, the name on the bottle is Donelson Foods. I couldn't understand what the phone system said the company's name was, so when I reached a person, I asked if this was also Donelson Foods. She mentioned the O'Charley's Dressing and asked if I wanted HR. I explained I had a bad bottle of the dressing and she transferred me. That person (I didn't make a note of her name) mentioned clearly Choice Food and Diversity Food. I left a detailed message, then I started looking around. Apparently, what the phone system says is Vietti Foods. I guess they still make some foods under that umbrella, but then I found a press release that referenced "Choice Food of America formerly Vietti Foods" and how they were teaming up to form Diversity Food to reach the multicultural market. I was going to follow up with an e-mail to someone, if I could figure out their email address protocol, when the phone rang. The woman apologized, told me the person who handles these things is out of the office until Monday, but there's been another complaint about products with the 13Oct09 date stamp, so they would send me a replacement two-pack next week. She gave me a direct-line phone number to call if I don't receive it in the next couple of weeks.

I knew something had to be wrong with it, and I didn't let it go. I was polite on my message, but I also mentioned that I'd left a message before and never heard anything, and that I really hoped someone would call me back this time. Maybe the message didn't save correctly, or the person I left the message for has been out of town all this time. With voice mail, you never can tell. The person today seemed genuinely apologetic that no one had called me back. It pays to be persistent.

Why do places not return calls?

We bought this O'Charley's Honey Mustard dressing, made by a place called Donelson Foods, and it turned out we still had another bottle (we get them in 2-packs at Sam's Club), so it was sitting around for a while, but the expiration is not until October and the stuff we just finished was good until June according to the label, and it was still fine. So, it looked really dark and separated, the new stuff, and I shook it up and I poured some out, and it was really runny and looked nasty. I keep forgetting to take the bottle to work with me to call, so I called one evening, and they were closed, but they said I could leave a message, so I did. No one called me back and I'm really irritated about that.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

HP is addictive.

HP is giving away a really nice laptop and a mini. And an awesome Timbuk2 bag to carry them in. I have an HP desktop that I love, and you know what? The DV6 Laptop they're giving away in a series of back-to-school blog contests is even more powerful. More RAM. Slightly bigger hard drive. Plus a Blu-ray player, which I don't even own one yet, so that would be a really nice added feature.

The mini is tiny, but it would be perfect to carry in my purse (I'd have to clean it out of course) for comparison shopping while we're on the go. Don't you hate it when you're out and you see something and you wonder if it's really a good deal. What do the other stores have? Are there any sales? Pop into the nearest hotspot and you have your answers.

Head over to Daddy Forever right now for your chance(s) to win. You can enter up to four times using different methods. This blog I'm writing? This is one of my four entries.

There are a few more days in this ongoing HP promotion, and you can find more participating blogs and details about the prizes at HP's Back to School site.

Yes, I know I just blogged that I won an Acer laptop. Am I greedy? Maybe... But hubby's parents don't have a computer at all, so if I win this very sweet HP package, I will choose one of the smaller computers to send up to them so they can have e-mail. I think that if they ever used the email, they would enjoy being able to communicate with family members who don't live close by.

Think about your own reasons to win and start visiting Daddy Forever and the other participating sites for your chance.


I won a laptop! Thanks to Deal Seeking Mom and the fine folks at Acer, I will be receiving an Acer Aspire Timeline. It sounds great! Only 3.5 pounds, about an inch thick, and 8+ hours of battery life. From what I can tell, the processing speed is only moderately slower than our desktop, and the Acer has more RAM. It's got a 13.3" screen, which is a little larger than most netbooks. The 80gb hard drive is small, but external drives are not that expensive if I find I need more space. What I mainly want it for is checking email & entering sweepstakes online and for word processing (will I finally finish that novel?).

I got the notification on Thursday and Deal Seeking Mom confirmed receipt of my shipping and contact information on Friday. I'm hoping Acer will be able to ship next week, so I'll have it in time for my road trip on the 18th. I'm driving my mom to Indiana and flying back. It's going to be incredibly awesome to have a laptop for the trip!

That reminds me, I should start looking for wifi hotspots at the Indianapolis airport!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Spirit of Cooperation

So, over at, they're giving away some HP computers. Regular readers will know that I'm obsessed with trying to win a laptop or netbook, and here's my chance to win both and shut up about it.

For my chance to win, StudySuccessful wants to hear about a great cooperative experience in my academic career and something that went terribly wrong. Many of my experiences working with people in school went pretty well (except for the evil girls in middle school science, but there's nothing positive in that story). The best example for the purposes of this story was "Of Thee I Sing." That's a musical that the University of West Florida theatre department put on in the fall of 1984. I had a couple of lines and the rest of the time I was in the chorus. The "star" of the show was Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, but he only rehearsed with us the last week or so. But I digress. The great spirit of cooperation was within the cast. A lot of us were in theatre classes together. This was about the third show I'd ever done in my life (not counting the Christmas play in elementary school where my big part was ripping off bits of fake fiber snow and throwing snowballs), so it was all very new to me. The director was kind of crazy or at least forgetful; I remember one of the actors standing up to him when the director was yelling at us for not doing what he wanted because he had changed his mind and forgot to tell us. During rehearsals my friend Michelle gave me a great piece of advice. She said, "No matter what happens, just keep smiling," a piece of advice that I had to use on this particular show, because something did go terribly wrong.

I had a quick change backstage, and somehow the button on my sleeve got caught in a hairpin or something, and it took me a minute to extricate myself and pull my clothes on. By that time, the dance number had started and I wasn't in place. All the guys had partners except Bob the actor, who left dancing alone and wondering where I was. Michelle was backstage (she wasn't in this number) and I whispered, "What do I do?"

"Get out there and keep smiling!"

So, I put on a big smile and sashayed across the stage and joined the dance. I wonder sometimes if the audience knew what had happened or if they thought it was just part of the number.

Working on a big musical like that is a great experience in teamwork. Everyone relies on everyone else doing what they are supposed to do, being in the right place at the right time, for everything to go smoothly. When something goes wrong, you have to help each other out to get things back on track. To work together successfully on any project, you have to fulfill your duties, and when something goes wrong, you can't just point the finger at someone else, you have to step up with help or solutions or just part of the problem.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fiber.... It's not just for breakfast

I remember about 15 years ago or so, Disney built a Stepford town called Celebration just outside Orlando. One of their big pitches was fiber optic cable instead of coax for better internet and cable connections. People started complaining because, as I recall, the fiber was in the houses or apartments, but not on the street leading up to it.

Today, my mom complains about her cable and internet connections because the coax running up to her house has literally been there since I was in high school, in the '80s. She blames a lot of her connectivity issues and poor picture quality on the antique (ooh, make that "vintage") cable, but the company refuses to change it.

Me? I got my cable installed for internet only about five years ago. Yep, good ol' coax.

I know it's expensive, but Cox and and the other internet and television providers are making money. We're paying for these services, a little more every year. The companies are constantly asking us to upgrade and bundle and give them a little more hard-earned cash every month.

So, why aren't they investing in us and giving us a better quality product?

All this came up today because I discovered a new website: It's run by AU Interactive out of Sarasota, Florida, and its purpose is to educate people about fiber technology and which communications companies are taking the initiative to switch over.

If you don't know anything about the great fiber debate or if you're very interested and one a one-stop-shop to keep up with developments, check it out. Hopefully we'll all get the chance to experience fiber connectivity at home in the near future.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Win from author Eve Silver

Eve is a two-faced writer. As Eve Silver, she writes dark contemporary paranormals and historical suspense. Her alter-ego, Eve Kenin, writes speculative romance (think science fiction). It's kind of like if Superman decided to write for the newspaper, too. You'd get excellent writing from him and Clark Kent, but they'd have a different perspective.

Eve is having a contest at her site to celebrate the release of her latest Silver book, Seduced by a Stranger.

GRAND PRIZE: $50 gift certificate to the online bookstore of your choice PLUS an authographed trade paperback edition of the anthology NATURE OF THE BEAST.

FIRST PRIZE: $25 gift certificate to the online bookstore of your choice PLUS aN autographed trade paperback edition of NATURE OF THE BEAST.

SECOND PRIZE: Autographed Trade paperback edition of NATURE OF THE BEAST.

So if you win, you get to sample Eve's writing, and you might even get to stock up on some of her other books. I haven't read any of her Silver book, but I'm definitely a fan of Kenin!

Here's the URL to enter Stop by before August 31 for your chance to get in the drawing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ode to Internet Friends

Painting our nails, doing our hair,
sleepover party, talking and beer,
separated by miles, but friendships so dear,
you all know what I’m going through.
You all know what I’m going through. is our corner bar,
where we whisper of fears and wish on a star.
Our hearts are together though we come from afar.
You all know what I’m going through.
You all know what I’m going through.

The Classy Closet offers advice,
guidelines, suggestions, and tips to entice,
the Chicks Who Chat will share any vice
You all know what I’m going through.
You all know what I’m going through.

You are my friends, my helpers, my mates,
you understand me, you know what it takes,
you don’t ever judge me, you’re not ever fake.
You all know what I’m going through.
You all know what I’m going through.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why is it....

That I can think of all kinds of things to blog about when I'm in the car or at the store, and then when I have blogger open in front of me, it all flies away?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

It pays to shop around.

My mom and I spent all day Wednesday going to car dealerships and looking at Wagons and Crossover SUVs. She has an 11-year-old wagon and wanted to replace it with a newer vehicle. She likes to haul a lot of stuff, so a car wasn't going to cut it.

Finally, she had it down to the Subaru Outback, which is more of a station wagon build and the Toyota Rav4, a crossover SUV. On Friday, we went back to both dealerships, test drove the vehicles, and learned a little more about them.

Joey at Subaru was nice, a brand new car salesman. The ratings weren't quite as good for the Subaru. Also, my mom had seen some sort of sale advertised three weeks earlier, but no one knew what she was talking about or offered to pull out old sale papers. That was kind of a black mark.

Jed at Bob Tyler Toyota was also nice, a very good salesman, and we went in and made an offer. After some back-and-forths, he took an offer to the Sales Manager. Came back with a counter offer of $24,908. We haggled some more, Jed went back to the SM, and he came back with the same offer.

We left. We went back to Mom's and I looked around online at other options. Was there something we missed? Every other vehicle in the price range either was too small or the company's in bankruptcy or had poor ratings, and if we were going to stick with the $24,000 price, why look at other vehicles that cost the same or more?

So, I went to the VW dealer's website, and I asked for a price quote on a Jetta Sportwagen. I received an automated response, but as of yet, no prices. Then I went to the Quality Imports website and checked the prices on a 2009 Rav4 from their dealership. I clicked on the "make us an offer" tab and made a very low bid. Within a couple of hours, I had gotten an e-mail quote and then a very reasonable offer by phone.

We figured we'd be on the road at least three hours, plus the time to complete the transaction, if we went to Ft. Walton Beach, and Jed had spent a lot of time with us showing the car this week. So, I called him, told him that I had an "out the door" offer of $22,622 from Quality. Could he match it? "I'll make it happen," he said.

I picked up my husband from work at 5pm, stopped by for mom, and by 5:45pm we were at Bob Tyler Toyota. We played the game of him writing the amount on the paper, mom initialed it, then he took it to the General Manager (bypassing the SM, he said). When he returned, he had a new number written on the paper. Still more than $24K. And I lost a little respect for him, because he basically said that Quality must be lying to us, just to get us to drive over there. There's no way they could be selling the vehicle for that low. Bob Tyler paid more than $21K for the car, so how could Quality have an invoice price of $20,900? I said that Marty at Quality told me they'd make their profit through a dealer rebate (sounds like the dealer holdback I read about on Edmunds). Jed insisted there were no incentives available for the Rav4 (although holdback isn't an incentive). We said we had to check it out.

After we left, I called Marty at Quality and basically told him what Jed said and asked to verify the price of $22,622. He checked and called me back and said he'd left off a couple of fees to the tune of $10.50. I said I could live with that and we'd see him in the morning.

My mom and I hit the road about 8:30am and we arrived around 10am. We took I-10, because we figured Highway 98 (the beach route) would be at a crawl on the 4th of July. Marty said the car was being gassed up, so we started the paperwork. Turns out they hadn't calculated the sales tax exactly right because of us living in a different county. Then we added on the extended warranty and road hazard protection for a grand total on the check of $24,246 and change. So for less than Bob Tyler wanted to charge us, my mom got the vehicle she wanted, plus she is protected for seven years against anything going wrong with the car AND for several years, she's covered for any flat tires or rim damage.

I'm really tempted to fax the final bill of sale over to Jed to prove that Quality Imports was true to their word.

Quality Imports also gave us a free lunch. They were having a cookout and Scion enthusiasts show. Here's a little video I took with my new Flip Mino, which I won from Liz at This Full House. I'm still kind of getting the hang of the video, so it's not the greatest, but do check out the Green Boxzilla. It's awesome!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Never give up... Never surrender....

The watchwords of the crew of the Protector, the sci-fi spaceship made real by aliens in the delightful comedy film GalaxyQuest.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I'm never going to give up my quest to win a laptop computer. Or a notebook/netbook/mini or whatever other cutsie name they come up with for a compact and portable personal computer.

My quest has today taken me to The Mommy Files, where the prize is a Toshiba Portege A-600. It weighs just over three pounds and includes an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SU9400, 3GB of SDRAM, a 320GB hard drive, and a DVD-SuperMulti drive. It comes with Windows Vista installed, but nobody's perfect. I also love the fingerprint reader. Wow, just like James Bond.

Hope on over to The Mommy Files before midnight on Wednesday for your own chance to win this beauty. And my offer stands -- if you win, and you don't really need the computer, I'll be happy to take it off your hands.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Don't it make my brown eyes blue...

So, DH left work at 5pm and walked down to the theatre and he looked over to where the line formed for the Elcano, and he said, "Doesn't look like there's a line today." So we hotfooted it (literally, it was boiling) one block east and a couple of blocks south to the gate of the port, and the cop was turning people away. And it wasn't 5:30 yet!

Flashback to Saturday. We parked at DH's work, and he said, "Let's go look at the farmer's market" so we walked over to the next block and looked at the stuff, and then we headed down to the port. The line was out the gate and up to Main Street, so we waited for about an hour, and we were about 25 people away from getting inside the gate and they shut it.

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano is a Spanish tall ship, a sailing ship, that is visiting Pensacola as part of the Fiesta of Five Flags and the 450th Anniversary of Pensacola. Nothing was said about how the gate was going to be shut 30 minutes before the tours were scheduled to end. Not until after Saturday morning. Then the paper says the gates will be shut a half hour before the tours end. So, we should have been able to get in on Monday. Nope, they shut it earlier.

Now, I would imagine that these tours are nothing new for the Elcano and its crew. They should have some reasonable idea of how many people they can have aboard during a three-hour tour window. How about having someone at the gate counting off as people go in (there's a clicker that counts, we used them at Disney before)? How about looking at the line and establishing a cut-off point before people waste their time standing in the hot sun for an hour?

I understand if it's full, but use some common sense and don't waste people's time.

So, I'm very sad. I could be made happy again if I won a beautiful Vivienne Tam-designed HP Mini. If you read my blog regularly, you know how badly I want a laptop of any description, but I have coveted this Vivienne Tam one for months, since it was first unveiled. It's gorgeous, it looks like a stylish evening bag but it's a computer! The website is giving one away today. I won't win, because I want it so badly. Such is the way of things. Still, I have to try. You might as well try, too, and if you win, and you really don't care about it that much, you could give it to me, and that would be your good deed for the day and help you get into Heaven.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Is it the Swine Flu?

Oops, sorry all you darling little piggies. I should ask, "Is it the H1N1 Influenza Virus? I have had the most major headache all day. It's definitely a sinus headache. I hope that's all it is.

We did eat Mexican on Wednesday night, but it was at Moe's Southwest Grill and I don't think that anyone there had been to Mexico recently. Well, unless they went on spring break or something. If I die, REMEMBER THE ALAMO! No, there's no relevance. I just felt a battle cry would be nice at a time like this.

Trickster is having a lot of sinus issues today, too, but according to the American Veterinary Association website, cats don't get the swine flu.

In the meantime, I am easing my pain with the pleasant diversion of trying to win things. The prize du jour is a charm bracelet from Things Remembered. They have some beautiful charms that you can customize. Visit MommyGoggles and leave a post about your favorite charm from Things Remembered.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did you ever do something really generous for someone...

And then they turn around and kick you in the butt and tell you that you didn't care enough?

That's basically what happened to me today.

I wish I could go back and retrieve those two months of my life that I gave up, when my dad was dying.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Don't Trust Online Tax Services

We came home Thursday to a big package from the IRS saying we didn't report some of our income last year and we owe a big chunk of back taxes and interest.

Last year, I filed my taxes through the government's Free File program, using eSmart Tax by Liberty Tax Service. Maybe they should call it eDumb tax. Apparently, it didn't include any of my 1099s when it totaled up my taxes.

Now, some people (including my husband) say that I should have realized that our wages and various incomes (a grand prize cash win among them) added up to more than the total on line 1. However, I worked two jobs for two months, I got a substantial raise at job #1, when I did my taxes I realized that job #2 had been paying me less than I was supposed to be paid, my husband went full time at his job for the first time. The final total was much more than the previous year, so it sounded right to me. I suck at math.

And besides: if I have to sit down with all the paperwork and add it up manually, why should I take the time to plug it all into the software? It's supposed to do it for me and get it right!

We went back to the Liberty Tax Service and looked at last year's returns, and I see in Step 6 where I filled out all the 1099 information. The software just didn't add it in.

Obviously we have to pay it; at least we still have some of the big win in the bank to cover it. I do plan to include a letter of explanations with printouts from the Liberty Tax site, and I also plan to send copies to Liberty Tax explaining just how much their "free" service ended up costing me. I've been told they have a guarantee and should cover the penalties, which makes me feel a little better.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Customer Service Kudos

When last I blogged about Lowe's, I was pretty irritated at my neighborhood store. After I blogged, I used the "contact us" form at to report my problem. Within a couple of days, I got a call from a manager at the local store wanting to try to figure out who the women were that gave me the problem. She looked up my cousin's name and printed out their gift registry, and she left that and a 10% off voucher at the customer service desk. I went in the next day, picked out a light fixture from the list and used the discount. The quick response and the discount went a long way to making me feel better about the store.

Then today, we had a message from PetSmart. We'd been in a couple of times over the last week or 10 days, only to find a big empty space where the Iams Digestive Care 16.5 pound bag should be. I sent an e-mail to Iams, to see if they discontinued the size, and they confirmed that they still make it. I also sent an email to PetSmart, to ask if they were still going to stock that size in the store, because the shipping charges on a heavy bag of cat food are pretty outrageous. Well, the message today said that the food had been ordered and to call the manager when I had a chance. She was very apologetic that they'd been out of stock, assured me that the food had been ordered on Monday and should be in by next Wednesday. She sounded very sincere when she said how sorry she was that the store had run out. So, I'm feeling pretty good about PetSmart, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A great classic of 20th century cinema....

Some movies are worth paying $20 for on DVD. Others I wouldn't buy for $20, but when I find them in the five dollar bin at Wal-mart, they're a must have. So it is with Smokey and the Bandit, the fun-lovin', free-wheelin' story of rebellion on the open road. When I saw the title, I thought surely it must be Smokey and the Bandit 2 or perhaps Smokey and the Bandit 3: Smokey is the Bandit. But no, it was the 1977 original, the first movie that made me think that it would be cool to jump a car over something (a goal I still hope to attain someday). You know what went wrong with Smokey and the Bandit 2, at least for me? It was that it didn't fulfill the promise delivered at the end of the first movie. The fellers (including Sally Field and Fred the basset hound) were headed to New England to bring back some lobsters. Instead of doing that story, though, they brought in the elephant and it was all downhill from there. The less said about Smokey and the Bandit 3: Smokey is the Bandit, the better.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Why are stores so stupid?

Or maybe I should say, why do they hire stupid, lazy people to work there? Or maybe the people weren't as stupid as they acted, and they really weren't given the proper tools to help the customer.

My story:

We stopped at Lowe's tonight and we decided to ask about my cousin's gift registry. I looked at it a couple of days ago at, but I'm out of ink. I thought the store could print it for me.

Well, first the dumb girls behind the counter discussed the ending of the registry program and how they thought it was already over. They finally figured out that I was right, and the program is still alive. Then they looked up my cousin's name on one of the registers and found the listing, but they couldn't print it. So, they go back to the desktop and ask me for my cousin's phone number. I don't have her phone number. So I say, "I don't have her phone number. I looked it up online under her name." Then the lady smarts off at me, saying, "Well our system is different than the website." So, get online, bitch. I didn't say that. I just said that we'd have to buy them something somewhere else, and we left. I know they have a garden hose on their wish list, so I'll just look up the specs and buy one someplace else. From the very beginning with those chicks, it was like I was interrupting them, and they just didn't want to help me. That's the attitude I got, anyway. In this economy, they ought to have been falling all over themselves to try to make a sale and keep the customer happy.

But on to more pleasant topics, like the chance to win a 8GB iPod Shuffle. It's a promotion over at Debt Relief Place. It's a company that's in the business of helping people get their debt under control. They also have a handy debt calculator. Check it out and enter to win!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movies at Home

DH and I have always loved movies. We've been film buffs since we were kids. Unfortunately, it's hardly worth going to the movies anymore. People take unruly or bored children to see films that are way over their heads, they get phone calls, they even make phone calls during the movie. They converse like they're at home on the couch instead of in a theatre full of people who paid good money to hear what the actors have to say.

That's why we stay home. We watch movies at Hulu or on DVD. We watch TV shows at the network websites. Oh, I guess I didn't mention that we dropped our satellite service in 2004, because it had gotten so expensive. You can get packages cheaper than $70 a month, but they're designed for people who like sports and home shopping.

That's why I was really excited today to learn about the Roku, a device that lets you download movies from Netflix and watch them on your TV. Of course, I'm always a bit skeptical of new technology and monthly fees. I want to try things out first, and 5 Minutes for Giveaways might just be giving me that chance. They are, as you might have guessed from their name, having a giveaway, and the winner gets a Roku and a six-month membership to Netflix. How cool is that? Visit 5 Minutes for Giveaways if you want to put your name in the pot. Or just wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Since when did silver kill a vampire?

Growing up, I watched all the old Universal horror movies and I read a lot of books about creatures of the night. You killed vampires by staking them with a wooden stake. You can keep someone from returning as a vampire by cutting his or her head off and stuffing the mouth full of garlic. You can repel a vampire with a cross (although I will accept Fright Night's premise that you have to believe).

Werewolves were killed with silver. Shoot it with a silver bullet. Bludgeon it with the silver head of a walking stick (as Lawrence Talbot did, but not before he got bitten). I believe I saw one film where a silver candlestick was involved.

At some point, I think it was in the '90s, the two myths got intertwined somehow. Now silver is associated with killing vamps. At least in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, a silver bullet only slows down a vampire; it won't kill one.

It's just kind of irritating.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Scroll down a little bit...

A little ways down the page, you'll see a banner for writer Annette Blair. I made the banner and posted it here as part of a contest Annette is running on her site, and in the first drawing, I WON!

Here's the good part for you -- you still have a chance to enter and win. Just visit If you don't have the ability to create a banner, you can still enter to win, so visit the site, check out the details, and while you're there, get the scoop on all her delightful books!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do you save your receipts?

I do. It comes in handy when you find something on sale or clearance a few weeks after you pay full price. I also try to save all the receipts from purchases of Star Wars collectibles. Someday, my goal is to get everything catalogued (I started once, then the program crashed on me; I think I overloaded it) with price paid, current value, etc. Unfortunately, many stores use thermal paper now, and the receipts end up fading until you're left with a stack of blank pieces of paper. Paper that isn't even useful to write notes on, because pens don't tend to like thermal paper. Now there is a way!

Check out ChicShopperChick for a review of Neat Receipts, a scanner and software specifically designed to make sense of all your receipts. You can also register for a chance to win one (wish me luck!).