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Isn’t Reisling a WHITE wine?

On December 7, 2007 my father passed away.  I lived with him, I found him dead on his bed, and  so this was a really stressful time for me.

The first night (the night he died) I spent with friends.  I didn’t sleep a wink BUT it was still better than being home ALONE.

I came home the next day in the late afternoon. That night I could not sleep for love nor money.  I tried reading a boring book …… I tried a warm bath ……..then I remembered there was some Reisling (white wine) in the refrigerator and I thought that might help.

The first problem was I couldn’t get the bleeping cork out of the bleeping bottle.  It literally shredded into big pieces and fell down the neck of the bottle into the wine.  So I’m thinking I need to strain the wine.  The only thing I have to strain it through is (white) coffee filters.

So I get the coffee filters set up over a large glass.  I start pouring the wine and I notice it’s the color of tea that has been steeped just a tad bit too long or maybe slightly watered down Coca-Cola. I didn’t think  the cork was in there long enough to change the color ……….

I’m thinking to myself, Reisling is  supposed to be a WHITE wine isn’t it?

Being that I’m not much of a wine drinker (actually not much of a drinker at all), I went in my bedroom where the computer was and asked my friend Liz in Australia the burning question: Isn’t Reisling a white wine?

She of course tells me yes and asks me why I’m asking her.  I say I just poured myself a glass of Reisling and its brown as brown can be.  I swear I could almost hear her laughter clear from Australia.

And after two glasses of BROWN Reisling…….I still couldn’t fall asleep.

Do I think I will ever drink BROWN Reisling again?  I DON’T THINK SO.

Books and More Books

I love to read.  I will read the Lysol  (a brand of air freshener here in the USA) spray can if there’s nothing else in my house to read.

My mother taught me to read when I was 5 years old.  I’m sure she did so to keep me out of her hair, but whatever the reason…..it was one of the best things she ever did for me.  I read for pleasure, I read to learn new things, I read because I literally LOVE to read.

Just because I love to read doesn’t mean I will read anything.  I’m not fond of westerns (Zane Grey is not on MY hit parade), I mentally outgrew romance novels (historical or otherwise) 30+ years ago, I cannot stand Agatha Christie mysteries (or their ilk, whoever the writer may be) and its a rare science fiction writer that keeps my attention (however, I do like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert who wrote the Dune series).

My eclectic reading tastes include autobiographies (I have re-read Driving Under the Affluence by Julia Phillips several times), biographies (particularly those of the ‘old’ Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor or Lana Turner), contemporary mysteries (give me a Sue Grafton or Sara Paretsky novel and I’m in heaven 🙂 ), self-help (Suze Orman’s books on financial health are great),  true crime (currently I am re-reading Death Cruise by Don Davis and Slow Death by Jim Fielder), humor in all its myriad forms, and animal books (Merle’s Door: Lessons From A Free-Thinking Dog  by Ted Kerasote is a particular favorite).

What’s on my nightstand right now?

1) Leap by Sara Davidson (I’m rereading this one because I turned 50 last November and am wondering what to do with my ‘second act’),

2) Driving Under the Affluence by Julia  Phillips (she was a talented, brutally honest, and introspective writer who unfortunately IMO left this world much too soon; she also wrote You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again)

3) When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time To Go Home by Erma Bombeck (I’ve read every book Erma Bombeck ever wrote, even though I had nothing in common with her at all—funny is funny no matter what!)

4) It Ain’t All About The Cooking by Paula Deen (I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing a sassy, white-headed, and ’round’ woman is to this sassy, gray-headed, and ’round’ woman, not to mention the recipes are to die for)

5) Survive by Les Stroud (host of ‘Survivorman’ and one cute dude ROFLMAO; okay, I admit it, I’m a shallow woman and I have a huge crush on Les Stroud–but the book does have a lot of good information on surviving in the wilderness or in situations where ‘the ambulance is NOT going to come’)

One book that I couldn’t stand when I first read it was Joan Didion’s ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’

I found it depressing and I found myself thinking the author was dwelling on highly uncomfortable subjects (such as the blood on her floor from when her husband fell when he was having his fatal heart attack).

It’s amazing though how that was the book I turned to after my father died.  Even though we are separated by close to 30 years agewise Ms Didion wrote about things that I could relate to in that difficult time– cognitive deficits, magical thinking, fear of dying, being unable to cope.

The Year of Magical Thinking made me realize I wasn’t crazy, or even going crazy……I was just grieving and grief has been noted to ‘derange the mind’

Do I think I will ever stop reading?  Let’s put it this way, I have a mental picture of me on my own deathbed –far in the future mind you– with a glass of white wine in one hand and a good book in the other.

Do I think I will ever stop reading? I DON’T THINK SO!!

FreeCycle AGAIN

Well, the charming person who thought she could claim EVERYTHING never even showed up for the chicken wire and the phone which were the only things she was ever even promised

“i do apologize that i left the directions on my kitchen counter this morning…please allow the people next to get these items as i wont be thru bend for a bit…thank you”  She was supposed to be here so early that I should leave the items on my front porch or in my yard for her.  She emailed me to say she wasn’t going to pick them up at 4:00 pm on the day she was supposed to have picked them up.

Five day wait, a not-so-veiled threat to basically steal everything on my property that wasn’t nailed down, and then she oh-so-conveniently ‘forgets’ detailed instructions on how to get to my house, plus doesn’t inform me that she isn’t going to pick up the stuff at all until HOURS after she was supposed to be here.

So these things do go to other people, all is well in Freecycle land or so I thought.

3 pairs of pants, bought on clearance so they can’t be returned, and there is no way on earth I can wear them.  These pants are brand spanking new, never been worn at all.  So I offer them on Freecycle.

First person who wants them, she had picked up a very nice phone from me so she knew where I lived.  Even though I was a little disgruntled that she was re-freecycling the phone because she ‘just didn’t like it at all’ I still thought, that’s great, no having to give her directions.

She says she will come the next day to pick them up around 11:00 am.  Around 10:40 am (20 minutes before she’s supposed to be here)  email arrives to say ‘my husband will pick them up sometime today when he is out running errands, because my arthritis is acting up.’

I had not slept well and was exhausted, the only reason I was even up was she was coming over to pick up these pants.  So I told her that I was going back to bed and would put them in a plastic bag on my front porch.

All of a sudden she doesn’t want the pants at all.  That is ever so fine with me, since I am NOT going to stay up waiting for her husband to deign to show up to pick them up.

So I offered the pants to the next person in line who had literally BEGGED me to give them to her.

I told  her they are on my front porch in a plastic bag, I give her detailed instructions on where I live and how to get here, and I told her that she’s welcome to come pick them up anytime that day as I was going to go back to bed.

I also said, if they weren’t picked up by the time I woke up I would bring them back inside (because of iffy weather) and we could try again.  I woke up around 5 pm, and guess what? Pants still hanging off my screen door knob.

That was over 2 full days ago.  After over 15 hours with no reply (and no pickup) I told her to just not bother coming over and picking them up as they are going to Goodwill.  I didn’t get any reply to that email either, and it was sent 36 hours ago.

If you are going to ask for something,  be courteous enough to respond in a timely manner when it is offered to you.   If you just can’t be bothered to do that, perhaps FreeCycle is NOT the place you should be.

Are any of these people ever going to get anything else from me via FreeCycle? I DON’T THINK SO.

Bait and Switch, Done Sears Style

So I applied online a few days ago for a seasonal restocker position at Sears Roebuck & Co.  Before applying, I am forced to watch a video online about the EXACT job that I wish to apply for (again restocker), and once I agree that this job is the one I want, I am finally allowed to apply.

Restockers are NOT required to have cashier experience or sales experience, although retail experience is helpful.  Cashiers are required to have prior cashier or cash handling experience, and must ‘sell credit applications’ even during their temporary, seasonal employment to be considered for future, continued employment with Sears.

There is a BIG difference between the two positions, and there was a REASON that I hadn’t applied for the cashier positions.

An interview is set up for 3:00 pm Monday October 26th at my local Sears store (3188 N Hwy 97, Bend, OR 97701).

When I get to the interview am I interviewed for a restocker position?  Of course not, even though that is the position I applied for.

I am interviewed for a cashier position, even though that is NOT the position I applied for, even though that is NOT the position I wanted.

I don’t know where the miscommunication happened–other than it was NOT on my end. I am very clear that I applied for a restocker position NOT a cashier position, I wanted a restocker position not a cashier position.  I didn’t hallucinate watching that video online before being ‘allowed’ to apply for the restocker position.

I just know that Sears.com and my local  Sears store wasted my time over and over and over again by 1) making me watch the video for a job they later didn’t interview me for 2) having me apply for a position that either wasn’t available at my local Sears store or they weren’t interviewing for at all in the first place 3) interviewing me for a position I did not apply for and did not want.

And of course I didn’t get the job at Sears. I don’t have sales experience, I don’t have very much cash handling experience, I am not qualified for a sales or cashier position.

Well, DUH RALPHY.  If I had that kind of experience, why in the world would I apply for a restocker position?  If I had that kind of experience, why in the world would I even WANT a restocker position? If I had that kind of experience, why in the world would I watch the video for the restocker position?

Will I ever apply for any job with Sears again? I DON’T THINK SO.

Freecycle

Now don’t get me wrong.  I think Freecycle (http://freecycle.org) is a great organization doing good things.  Keeping stuff from going to the landfill is a noble goal, and it seems to work well too.  I have belonged to two Oregon freecycle groups, one in Beaverton and one in Bend, and generally I have had good luck with freecycling things that would otherwise go to the landfill.

Lately though I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with the attitudes of one person in my current Freecycle group.

First off a five day wait for her to pick them up.  Then today I get this in my email.

“i will be there saturday morningish….will take those and whatever still remains that wasnt picked up. it may be early so if you want to put it out in the yard so i dont disturb you.”

This person was promised a Uniden cordless phone and a roll of chicken wire. PERIOD.

All of a sudden she thinks she is entitled to pick up things she never even showed any interest in, simply because they haven’t been picked up yet.  And yes it was posted at the group that these things she thinks she can basically STEAL were taken/spoken for/pending pickup

Well just because they haven’t been picked up doesn’t mean they aren’t spoken for.  Many of the things are scheduled for pickup next week due to the interested parties being out of town.

So I write back “You were promised the Uniden phone and the chicken wire, and they will be on my front steps.

Anything else that hasn’t been  picked up, either you are NOT second in line for (those people have been contacted already) and/or some of the things are scheduled for pickup by other people next week.”

Her reply “sorry was just trying to be helpful as i know a lot of people dont show up and dont call so i was just offering….”

I don’t see an offer in her original email.  I see a flat out statement that she is going to pick up everything she can possibly get with no concern whatsoever for the people it was already promised to. I see a woman who will take anything that isn’t nailed down whether or not it was offered on Freecycle at all in the first place.

I have things in my carport that are for sale.  I have things in my carport that are promised to other people.  I have things in my carport that I haven’t had time to go through yet.  I have things in my carport that I am interested in KEEPING, not freecycling, not selling.

I moved everything on my front porch other than a waterlogged Rubbermaid tote into my carport.  Then I moved everything that was already in the carport further back into the carport and blocked access to the carport with my Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck.

If ANYTHING other than the Uniden cordless phone and the roll of chicken wire is missing from my yard/front porch/carport tomorrow, I will not only report this lady to my local Freecycle (I already forwarded the email from her to the group moderators) I will call the police.

Will this woman ever get anything else from me (via Freecycle) other than the Uniden phone and the roll of chicken wire? I DON’T THINK SO

Food Stamp Blues

Now I didn’t like applying for food stamps very much, but that is NOT why I am singing the blues about them.  On the contrary, the process of applying, getting approved, and getting my EBT card was pretty painless.

My first shopping trip with the EBT card on the other hand was embarrassing and humiliating.  I sincerely hope that the young man at the NE Bend Safeway store (3rd Street and Franklin) who caused this experience has a chance–soon–to go through what he put me through.  It would be even better if I was present to see the rude young man receive his comeuppance!

As I applied for the card late in the month I only had $53.00 on the card (a weeks’ worth of benefits). I don’t add up what I am purchasing in my head or using a calculator.  I just buy what I need or want and go from there.

It turns out that my EBT-eligible balance was $66.00 and some change, and the EBT card was rejected because again I only had $53.00 on the card.

I had assumed that the cash register would just apply the EBT balance to the total due and then I could put the rest on my debit card.  Well, that was wrong.

And the charming young man who was checking my groceries was rude about it too, acted like I should put the entire amount on my debit card just because I was inconveniencing HIM.  Finally, he grudgingly agrees to manually apply the $53.00 on my EBT card against the total balance.

By this point I am so flustered and embarrassed that I accidentally dropped the card on the floor.

And that was the final straw for me.  I do NOT swear in public.  I may have the biggest potty mouth in the country when I am in private, I may swear like a trooper at home, but the most you will hear from me in public is “darn.”

As I bent over to pick up the card, I said –with no conscious thought and no intention to swear –“son of a BITCH” loud enough for everybody in the store to hear.  Personally even though I was referring to dropping the card AND being embarrassed/humiliated in public, I really do hope the rude checker thought I was calling him a “son of a bitch.”  It was the least he deserved after what he did and said to me.

Will I ever knowingly go through the rude young man’s checkout line again? I DON’T THINK SO.

Fun in the Burger King Drive Thru

I often go to Burger King for breakfast.  And lately I’ve been getting the sausage biscuits because they are much cheaper than the sausage crossain’wiches — and also they are just sausage and a biscuit. No cheese, no egg…..and with borderline high cholesterol I don’t need the cheese OR the egg.

Funny isn’t it how the cheaper meals aren’t pushed or even sold very well by the chain restaurants though.  One morning about 7:00 am –they open at 6:00 am– I go through the drive-through and they have no biscuits.  They said they had just put a new batch in the oven and it would be 15 minutes.  So I go back in 15 minutes and all is well.

Since that day though I’ve had nothing but trouble, and a fair amount of rudeness, when trying to buy the sausage biscuits.  And it doesn’t seem to matter what time I am there either.  They have either stopped baking the biscuits for the day (and she very rudely  said “we aren’t selling those any more” when what she meant was “we aren’t selling those any more TODAY”) or they just are NOT available. This has happened over and over again.

I also order double Whoppers with cheese from Burger King now and then.  I do NOT like lettuce on my cheeseburgers, and I particularly don’t like the tasteless iceberg lettuce they use at this Burger King, so I say (ALWAYS)  ‘no lettuce, no ketchup, easy mayo, heavy onion, heavy pickle’

The last double Whopper I ordered at the drive through window, I could literally SMELL the lettuce–yes lettuce has a smell, boys and girls– when I opened the bag.   By this time, I’m at home which is a mile away (one way) from Burger King.  So I ate the Whopper with the lettuce–it does add a bit of crunch to the Whopper– and complained a lot.

And I read my receipt to see if it said NO lettuce or not. It most definitely did say NO lettuce.  Now in my case, its that I don’t like lettuce.  Did the incompetent cooks/customer service people stop to think that I just MIGHT be allergic to lettuce?  Between the cheese and the mayonnaise, it is impossible to get all the lettuce off a cheeseburger.  So if a person is allergic to lettuce, they have just wasted $4.69 on a cheeseburger they cannot eat.

And even if I am NOT allergic to lettuce, I don’t custom order my whoppers just to make their life difficult.  I custom order my whoppers because I do NOT like lettuce or ketchup, and I am not that fond of mayonnaise either.

Does Burger King really WANT to sell the $1.00 sausage biscuits (as opposed to the $2.39 sausage crossain-wiches)?  I DON’T THINK SO.

Does Burger King and their employees at the southeast Bend, Oregon (on the corner of SE 3rd Street and Reed Market Road) store really care about customer service and giving the customer what they want and/or what they ordered? I DON’T THINK SO.

Fun at Del Taco

Now I’ve been going to this particular Del Taco for at least 4 years.  Most of the drive through people know me by sight if not by name, and they all know me by order.

“Bacon double Del Cheeseburger With No Lettuce, Chips and Salsa, Macho Coke (although sometimes I just get the cheeseburger, and other times I just get the macho coke)

But one day a few weeks ago, there was a new guy in the drive through window.  I was getting a Bacon double Del Cheeseburger With No Lettuce and a Macho Coke, for a total of $4.69   I handed the guy my debit card, its been used so much that my signature has worn off.  He asked for my ID.

Now I have to admit I wasn’t in the greatest of moods to begin with, and I wasn’t sure where my drivers license was (I knew it was in my purse somewhere).  After a few minutes of looking I said “just give me back my debit card and lets forget this”  and I drove down the street to Burger King where they didn’t care about the signature or lack thereof on my debit card.

I’m all for preventing identity theft. I shred personal documents and I cut up old credit/debit cards.  I take the mailing labels off magazines if I am recycling them.

But really, if you stole somebody’s debit card would you rush right off to Del Taco just to buy a bacon cheeseburger and a coke?  I DON’T THINK SO.

This idiocy gets even better though.  A few days after the great cheeseburger debacle, I am in the same drive through lane just getting a macho coke this time.  My luck, I get the same intelligence challenged guy, and yes he wants my ID for a lousy $1.69 coke.  Its the cheapest large coke in town so I grudgingly gave him my ID.

I haven’t seen this guy since.  I wonder if he asked for ID from the wrong person………

And even more fun with banks …….

So I am hurting financially.  I login to my Wells Fargo accounts where I see that the last remaining shares of Ebay in my Wells Fargo Roth IRA account has gone up quite a bit in value so I decide to sell.

Of course Wells Fargo gets their pound of flesh ($19.95) with the fee for the sale.  But that was NOTHING compared to the screwing they had in store for me when I tried to transfer my whopping $204.00 (net proceeds) to my checking account.

I fill out the form, hit enter and get “you are not able to complete this transfer online because it would lower the balance beyond the point necessary to cover account fees.”  So I call them and find out there’s a $75.00 early termination fee if I withdraw all the money, plus another $30.00 fee for ‘a custodial fee.’

And they could care less about my financial situation, they have to have their pound of flesh, irregardless of the fact that they already got the fees for the stocks I’ve sold.  They can’t even be bothered to pretend they are sympathetic to my situation

I say “whatever”, hang up, and try transferring the whopping $99.00 of MY money that I am ‘allowed’ to have.  No go, same message. I reduced the amount to transfer to $97.00, still no joy in Mudville.

So I call them again.  They have to complete the transfer for me, supposedly because the sale of the stock isn’t settling until today. WHATEVER…….just transfer my money for pete’s sake!!

I wish I could say that I will never do business with Wells Fargo again.  But the personnel at my branch are GREAT, they are helpful, some of them know my name, they are sympathetic to my situation and have waived fees for me when I needed to get cashiers checks or money orders.

I will say this much: I won’t do business with Wells Fargo Brokerage again.  I’m sure that other brokerage firms have lower fees.  And while they may not be any more sympathetic to their customers problems, maybe they would at least be able to pretend a little better.

Am I going to give Wells Fargo Investments (any stripe) another chance to screw me over?……..I DON’T THINK SO!!

Fun with Banks (sarcasm intended)

Sometimes I wonder if I have a virtual sign on my forehead stating “please do screw me over.”

I’ve been trying to transfer money from Emigrant Direct to Wells Fargo for about 6 weeks now.  The Emigrant Direct account was linked to a closed Wells Fargo account, so I had to get it linked to the new Wells Fargo account.  I called them twice, they will not send money to the non-linked account.  They need this silly form and my printer won’t work.  So I ask that they mail me the form….3-5 business days.  Okay fine.

I get the form and fill it out.  Of course, they won’t accept faxes, they will accept emails BUT they didn’t tell me that.  I mail off this form on 8-5-2009.  I hear nothing but I was also told that the verification with Wells Fargo could take up to 3 weeks.  Finally on Monday 8-24-2009 I call them again, only to be told “Oh we don’t send those forms to Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo charges us $20.00 for each account verification, and oh by the way we told you this on 8-10-2009.”

Yeah, they had told me alright……a notice placed in my account customer service area ONLY. No contact to phone number(s) or email address(es) of which they had many to choose from.

“Thank you for mailing in your Wells Fargo voided check and bank verification form. Emigrant Direct policy has been to send out bank authorization forms when our customers wish to set up an additional funding account. One exception is Wells Fargo. Because they are now charging a $20.00 fee per verification form, we are no longer mailing out the forms to Wells Fargo. In lieu of the bank authorization form, we now request that customers send in a current bank statement from the checking account that they wish to add. Once received, we can complete your additional funding account verification. Please keep in mind, we need to see: the title holders, account number & type and the name of the bank. We do not need to view any financial information. You may blank out any financial information, if you wish. We apologize for any inconvenience. We will hold on to your voided check until you mail the statement to the address below: Emigrant Direct Attn: Acct Fulfillment Dept 13 Croton Ave Ossining NY 10562 or email to: edited@emigrant.com (as a pdf file from email address on record) Thank you”

Why do I have a problem with this?  My bank accounts (both old and new) have ALWAYS been Wells Fargo accounts.  You cannot tell me that this policy was put in place between the time I requested the form be mailed to me and the time they received the form.  So the (incompetent) customer service people at Emigrant Direct wasted my time (filling out the form) AND they wasted my money (for postage to mail it in).

I’m not proud of the fact that I screamed an obscenity at the customer service person right before I hung up on him.  On the other hand, you would think that the money in MY account was actually THEIR money the way they were hanging on to it!!

My free version of Adobe only allows reading PDF documents, not creating them. And since I get my Wells Fargo statements online, my assumption was that I was going to have to go to my branch and PAY for a copy of my most recent statement.  I got lucky in that my online statements are PDF documents, so all I needed to do was download the latest statement to my flash drive and then send an email with the PDF statement attached to Emigrant Direct.

My money was transferred into my Wells Fargo account this morning. My gratitude is heavily tempered by the fact I could have had that money in the account THREE FULL WEEKS AGO if not before if it hadn’t been for extreme incompetence on the part of Emigrant Direct.

Am I ever going to do business with Emigrant Direct again?………I DON’T THINK SO