Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blockbuster nastygram

I think I should just face up to the fact that I enjoy it when businesses treat me poorly so that I can write nastygrams full of righteous indignation. This one isn't as well put together as I would like, but I wrote it in one go and didn't go back to edit.

"I reported this issue earlier this week, and unfortunately, it has come up again. I requested the movie "Charly" over a week ago, but when I received it, the wrong DVD was in the sleeve. The DVD was also called "Charly," but it is a completely different movie. So I returned it to Blockbuster, reported the issue through the website, and waited for a replacement copy.

The replacement copy took a week to arrive, and when I put it in the DVD player, having geared myself up for a second time to watch it, I realized that again, it was the wrong DVD. In fact, I think it is the exact same wrong copy I received a week ago. This, despite my reporting the issue and specifically stating that while the movie was also called "Charly," it was a totally different film from the one I requested.

When my concerns were addressed by a blockbuster.com representative, he suggested multiple times that I simply trade in the envelope for the DVD I wanted. I am not so dense as to not have realized this myself. But the DVD I have requested twice now is not available at any of my area Blockbuster stores. That is why I cannot simply trade in the envelope for this elusive DVD.

This issue aside, I have been very disappointed with my blockbuster.com free trial, and will certainly be canceling it at the end of the trial period. The DVD turnaround time is simply atrocious. There are movies sitting in my Queue, marked as "Shipped," that I sent back to blockbuster as much as five days ago. Also, I was under the impression that when I took in an envelope to a Blockbuster store and traded it for a DVD, the envelope was immediately scanned as "returned." I was told this directly by a Blockbuster employee. However, according to the records kept on My Queue, this is not the case. Again, movies I traded in at a Blockbuster location have yet to be scanned in to My Queue as being returned.

Finally, there is the matter of your clunky website and faulty recommendations. I find your website difficult to navigate and aesthetically unattractive. Rating movies using your five-star system takes forever. The Featured Recommendations often remain on the home screen for days at a time, even if by some miracle they actually fit my tastes and have been added to My Queue. I don't know what kind of program you use to generate the recommendations, but my imagination is not fertile enough to conceive of a universe in which the unrated version of "Beerfest" would be a movie I am interested in.

Please, please send me the correct DVD of "Charly." That movie is most of the reason I signed up for this free trial - it is unavailable anywhere in my area. And when this free trial is over and I'm ready for a different DVD rental service, I will run, not walk to Netflix.com. You just lost yourselves a customer."

The thing is, the stupid movie, "Charly," is most likely not worth any of this hassle. But I can't resist renting it since I feel like I'm the only one on earth who hasn't seen it. At this point, there is no way it can live up to my expectations. But after going through all of this, I'm determined to see it, no matter what!

ps - the phrase "my imagination is not fertile enough" was borrowed from Eric D. Snider, who borrowed it from Tom Lehrer, whoever that is.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Morning of Sting

The city of Tucson must have Sting on the brain this morning. And I do, too, I guess.

After breakfast this morning, Miriam and I were listening to the best of The Police, one of my favorite CDs ever. My parents gave it to me on my 16th birthday. Thanks, guys! Specifically, we were listening to "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (the better version) and "King of Pain."

Then, we were at Fry's. They always have good music playing over their speaker system, especially considering they're just a grocery store. They seem to play good music that you never hear anymore, eclectic stuff like Joshua Kaddison's "Jessie," or John Parr's "St. Elmo's Fire." Songs that you've forgotten you like. While we were in line to check out, The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" came on. I like the song on its own merits, more or less, but to this day I still associate it with that SNL sketch from like 15 years ago.

Finally, when we got in the car and turned on the radio, the song that was playing was Desert Rose (featuring Algeria's own Cheb Mami, who also has a good song called "Baida.").

Who am I to resist? I guess it's a The Police/Sting kind of day today.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ramsey's (terrible) Music Experience


As I mentioned yesterday, we bought a new piano recently. We also bought a new piano four months ago, but ended up returning it to the store a couple of weeks ago. In the process, Ramsey's Musical Experience in Tucson earned a big nastygram from the Palmer family.

We bought a beautiful Casio AP-80R from Ramsey's back in September, after returning from Jordan. We pitted an online dealer against a Ramsey's salesman and had them compete for our business. In the end, Ramsey's gave us a great deal and even said we could take home the floor model that very day while we waited for a new-in-the-box piano to come in. They said it would take about two weeks.

We agreed, paid for our new piano, and took home the floor model. I loved the piano. We had lots of good times together, and Miriam loved playing with all the interesting sounds it could produce.

The problem was, the supposed "new-in-the-box" piano that we had actually purchased never materialized. Ramsey's never called us, even though they said they would as soon as it came in. So we called them. Again, and again, and again, and no new piano. Every time, they told us it was coming in next week, or next month, or call back at the end of this month and then they'd tell us what the situation was. Also, each time we talked with them, they would ask why we didn't want to just keep the floor model - was there something wrong with it? they always wanted to know.

Well first of all, it doesn't matter. We paid for a brand-new piano, not a used floor model. And second of all, you supposedly ordered a new piano for us, so we shouldn't have to even consider keeping the floor model.

Finally, earlier this month, we went in person to the store. We were fully prepared to at least threaten to take them to small-claims court (because, as Jeremy's lawyer-brother put it, "sometimes you have to do that when you're dealing with slimeballs."). To our surprise, the boss lady agreed to give us a full refund and cancel the order for the new piano, which by this time I suspected had never existed. I honestly believe they just expected to be able to pawn off their floor model on us and we wouldn't put up a fight.

When the time came to physically bring the piano back to the store, two things happened. First, they decided to charge us a 15% restocking fee ("a restocking fee for the floor model?" our friend Jonathan astutely pointed out). Of course, we refused to pay that. Then, while Jeremy was driving on his way to the store, with the piano, I received a call on my cell phone from a Ramsey's salesman, asking what he could do to have us keep the piano and be satisfied with our purchase. Basically, I told him that there was nothing he could do, and that Ramsey's did not deserve our money. That's what's nice about America - if a place doesn't deserve your business, you can always take it elsewhere.

So we returned the piano and got all of our money back. And the best part is that when we started re-shopping for the same piano, we were able to get a better deal, not to mention way better customer service from a place called Guitar Center here in Tucson. Our shopping experiences - and so far, satisfaction - could not be more opposite.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fancy bench

We bought a new piano yesterday, but it won't come until later this week or early next week. They sent us home with the bench; however, it is still in its box, yet to be assembled.

The box has been sitting in the living room. It is labeled "DIGITAL PIANO BENCH." The first time I looked at it, for some reason, my mind parsed it as (digital (piano bench)). As in, the bench was digital, and for a piano. Wow.

It's like the ice cream flavor, chocolate chip cookie dough. I've never been able to figure out if it's (chocolate chip (cookie dough (ice cream))) or (chocolate chip cookie dough (ice cream)). Frankly, I think with some brands, it's the former, and with others, it's the latter. Regardless, it's all good, except for Albertson's brand, which is disgusting.

Mmm, ice cream...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No, thank you

I was at Blockbuster last night exchanging a blockbuster.com movie for an in-store rental. You can do that now - it's their way of one-upping Netflix.

I had hardly walked in the store and was looking for a movie on a particular aisle when a man came up to me. He was dressed normally and seemed to be just a regular guy. I mention that you so you know it wasn't one of those random Tucson people who are always hanging around, like the lady I saw at the bus stop one 40-degree morning wearing ratty pants and a bra. Not a sports bra or crop top, an honest-to-goodness brassiere.

Anyway, this man came right up to me and said, "Whatever movie you're getting tonight, it's on me."

I tried not to make eye contact as I refused his generous offer, and then again as he reiterated it several times.

Then he asked me what my name was. I broke that rule and told him. What can I say? He caught me off guard. Then he said, "Bridget, can I take you to lunch sometime?"

Thank goodness for the marriage card. I showed him my ring and told him I was married. He backed off, but not after exclaiming how young I looked and how he didn't think I could be married (if I look so young, what are you doing hitting on me?? I wanted to ask, but didn't). After a few more awkward moments, he left.

When I was checking out the movie and getting ready to walk out to my car, I considered calling Jeremy on the phone so I could be talking to him as I made the long walk across the dark parking lot. Just in case Mr. Unwanted Suitor was out there, waiting. In the end, I decided against it and had the Blockbuster employee watch from the door to make sure I got in my car OK. Am I paranoid? Definitely a little. But you just never know.

The thing is, even if I weren't married, there is no way I would have taken this random guy up on his offer. Do people actually do that - go to lunch with strange men they meet at Blockbuster? Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Basically, they're full of crap. Rhymes with "snap."

So I took this "What American Accent Do You Have?" quiz and here are the results they gave me:
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston
 

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The West
 
The Midland
 
North Central
 
Philadelphia
 
The Northeast
 
The Inland North
 
The South
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I don't know why they would come up with Boston, when I was raised in Oregon. However, "The West" is a pretty broad category, so maybe I didn't have enough characteristics of a Utah or Idaho accent to fit into it. (For example, I believe that "pin" and "pen" are not homophones, I don't add a 't' at the end of the word "across," and the word "mountain" does not involve a glottal stop.) Also, the test is very simplistic (of course).

Back in my undergrad days, studying linguistics, I remember looking at a map that had very detailed representations of American dialects, right down to pinpoints on the map showing specific pronunciation distributions. I remember feeling overjoyed that someone else out there in the Pacific Northwest pronounces "crayon" the same as "crown."

Also, no matter what Jeremy tells you, "coupon" is correctly pronounced "kyu-pon."

And my sixth-grade teacher was definitely right when she said that the Pacific Northwest actually has the pure American dialect that all newscasters around the nation study, so they can get it right and dialect-neutral when they read the news on the air.

That is all.

Oblivious

I always thought Jeremy was different from other guys. And he is, in so many ways. But I found out yesterday that there is one way in which he and other men are very, very alike.

For most of my life, I've had very long hair. When we got back from Moscow in 2003, it was a little past my waist. I decided to give 12 inches of it to Locks of Love, but I don't think anyone really noticed the drastic haircut because even a foot shorter, my hair was still very long.

So I gave another 12 inches right before we left for Syria. This time, it was only a few inches past my shoulders - a slightly more noticeable change.

Since then, I've had only a trim, although I often considered chopping it all off again when we were in Jordan and unable to take regular showers. And you must realize that hair (at least mine) grows even quicker during pregnancy, so my hair was again extending down most of my back.

I speak of it in the past tense because yesterday, I took myself (and Miriam) down to the local hair salon and got my hair cut to my shoulders. This is the shortest it's been since kindergarten. I didn't tell Jeremy beforehand, and I was eager to see his reaction when he came home from school.

But he didn't say anything; in fact, to my surprise, he didn't seem to notice at all. The evening wore on - we went for a walk, had dinner, played with Miriam, etc. and no comments about my hair. After Miriam was in bed, we had several face-to-face conversations, and at one point, he even ran his fingers through my hair absent-mindedly. When he did that, I simply couldn't keep myself from bursting out laughing. He tickled me until I told him why. When I confessed that I had cut off the vast majority of my hair, he exclaimed that he had known something was different about me, but couldn't figure out what.

I was so sure he would notice right away - he's always been one of the biggest fans (or perhaps the only fan) of my long hair. But it turns out he's just like every other guy...in this respect, at least.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The pit of despair

The funny thing is, I was all geared up to write a blog post about some previous run-ins with food poisoning, most of them starring Jeremy. The capstone experience was going to be the time we both got food poisoning in Damascus. At the time, I thought that was as bad as it could get - both of us so sick we were unable to care for the other.

But now I know that it can get much, much worse. For example, your 16-month-old daughter could get sick with the same bug that hit your husband just days before. And then, you yourself could catch the virus, too. Hospital stays (plural) ensue.

So it wasn't the guacamole after all, but I maintain that the food was still nasty. If I have the stomach for it, I'll tell you about poor Miriam's experience as a human pincushion for the hospital staff at Tucson Medical Center, and also how quickly a toddler can adjust to being tethered to an IV. It really is quite amazing.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Don't eat the guacamole

or: How a free round-trip plane ticket turned into a ticket to the hospital

When traveling by airplane, have you ever volunteered to be bumped to a later flight in exchange for a free round-trip plane ticket? I never had, until Thursday night. We were booked on a 6.15 flight out of LAX to Tucson, but took a free ticket in exchange for leaving at 9.15 instead.

Being the savvy travelers that we are, we asked the ticket agent for meal vouchers, seeing as we were spending an extra three hours at LAX and were technically guests of the airline. She complied, and we ended up with two $7.50 meal vouchers that could be used at any restaurant in the airport - oh, except the ones who don't honor the vouchers, which we had to find out on our own by asking clueless food service workers, who in turn had to ask their managers.

Shockingly (and I'm not being sarcastic here), there was not a single entree in the entire airport to be had for $7.50. Not a slice of pizza, not a burrito, not a sandwich, nothing. Finally, we settled for a nasty-looking Mexican place that had a plain cheese quesadilla for $8.00. We paid the difference out of our pocket (and then spent the other voucher on yummy Starbucks treats).

The quesadilla, like the restaurant it came from, was kind of nasty and overloaded with cheese. But we ate it anyway because it was all we had. Jeremy also ate some guacamole that came on the side, while I ate only a tiny bit of it (that part will be important later).

We got home to Tucson in one piece. But the next day, both of us were feeling ill. My nausea went away within an hour or two, but Jeremy's got steadily worse.

I'll spare you the details, but by midnight, Jeremy was in the emergency room hooked up to an IV. Even that was not a pleasant experience - the technician put the IV in, left the room, and then came back a few minutes later and exclaimed "Oh, no!!!" (I submit that such a phrase is never a good thing to hear from a hospital worker.) The IV had come out somehow and blood was dripping all over from Jeremy's arm.

Then, Jeremy had a bad reaction to some medicine they gave him. He threw off all his blankets and couldn't stand to have anything touch him. Every second seemed to stand still. So they gave him some medicine to counteract that effect and he was able to fall asleep.

The moral of the story is never to eat guacamole from nasty-looking Mexican restaurants in the airport. But I still think it was worth the free plane tickets...though Jeremy may not agree.

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