Friday, August 29, 2008

block party weekend

The week has been rather dull...and I don't think the dreary weather is helping too very much. All the younger kids are back in town from vacation. This is their last week of freedom before heading back to school on Tuesday. They know their time is almost up; they can sense it like a dog senses fear.

The oldest has been back at school for a couple weeks, and has already stopped responding to email. Eh. As long as he doesn't get arrested or kicked out of school, I can handle the fact that he ignores his inbox. I could even handle an arrest as long as it's well deserved.

Our final no-kids weekend was spent out in some beautiful country beyond Gainesville. We headed out there for a bit of a family reunion w/ my wife's fam. Me and the guys enjoyed the sunshine, good food, and cold beers, but there was a lot of tension between some of the other family members. I really don't understand it completely. It seems like the fighting starts all on its own, with no instigation at all. We showed up on Friday night, and the snarkiness started in under 2 minutes.

I did get a chance to take my bike out on some hilly back roads, which was a bit of a challenge. I only rode about 15 miles on Saturday, and another 8 on Sunday morning, but the hills make the distance a whole lot harder than riding around here. The fun part comes when taking the down-side of a big up-hill.

(Side note - I recently passed 500 total miles, just this summer!)

Work and school have both been a pain in the tail all week long, and I'm really looking forward to a long weekend. And since it's Labor Day, that means it's Block Party Weekend! So we've got a couple hundred people heading over to hang out on Sunday, and we are COMPLETELY unprepared. I'll be a little stressed from now until 1030 Sunday morning, when we tap the first keg, then everything will be juuuuuuuuust fine.

Oh yeah, one more thought... one of the dogs brought us a present the other night. Left it on couch for us. Half a squirrel. The middle half. No head, no shoulders, no tail. Basically, not much more than a handful of squirrel-ass on a sofa cushion. I dunno what we did to be blessed with such wonderful pets.

Happy Happy Joy Joy Three Day Weekend!

Finally, a game for my intelligent friends. Both of you.

And one for all of my ninja friends:

And I can't forget my violent, angry, friends that make me a little bit uneasy...

The key to learning a foreign language is learning phrases that you'll use in real life.

All people should come with warning labels attached.

Ending today's update is a clip to get us all in the mood for the block party...


Friday, August 22, 2008

nothing to complain about

I realized that I may have sounded a little bitter over the last couple weeks. Sorry. I think it’s a bit funny that I get complaints about my complainin’ though.

I really wasn’t all that upset by the strife with the lawn service, I just wanted make sure that the word got around how awful their service is. I apologize for not always being the happy little clown you want me to be.

Anyway…. Summer is winding down. My oldest went back to school already. Move in is done. He’s got a much cooler dorm this year, actually a suite, with a shared living room between a pair of dorms. It’s a really nice setup…. Heck, *I* wanna move in there.

Kid2 has already started practice, too. She’s in the color guard at the high school, and they’ve been running mega-hours of practice for the past two weeks. I might be lucky to hang out with her next Monday.

Kid3 is still in FL, and Kid4 just got back from KY yesterday. Our quiet time is almost over.

I helped my buddy move the last of his gf’s stuff into his house the other day. It’s really cool to see the relationship moving forward, b/c they’re both really good people. I teased him about not letting the dog get pushed to the side, but I know better.

I’ve got plans for the weekend hanging out with my inlaws … which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Usually you hear guys crying about their inlaws, but mine are cool. Mom & pops and all the sibs are all pretty good to sit around and BS with. I think I get along with them better than they get along with themselves sometimes. It’ll be a good time. If they start bickering, I’ll just have a couple extra beers and it won’t bother me in the least.

Then we’ve just got one more week til the Block Party rolls around. I’m totally and completely unprepared still.

= = = = = = = = =

Game selection is limited this week. I’ve been busy, and you all have been pretty thin on submissions this week. Effers.

This is how I would rally (of course, if I didn’t have to worry about tickets and insurance and paying for college and stuff)

Totally simple, and totally addictive:

= = = = = = = = =

This is my new favorite blog….it’s a collection of pictures scammed from other people’s flickr accounts, along with a solid dose of snarkiness. I worry every day that she’ll uncover some of my most embarrassing pics.

Jon bought me a gift:

Angela sent this in… true or not, I still giggled like a window licking ‘tard when I read it.

And Ethan gave me this just in case I wasn't stupid enough naturally. This vid suckd teh brayne right thruw my eardurms.

Friday, August 15, 2008

scotts lawn service still sucks

I ended last week by butting heads with Scott's Lawn Service. (last week's rant covers Failures 1-12)

They wound up refunding the remainder of my money, but they still suck nads. I called the corporate HQ (btw - MaryAnn was a total sweetheart) to get some action. I got the typical "we'll check on it and get back to you..." answer.

Fail 13 - On 14 August, the local office updated the notes on my account. The office manager said that he called me, and wrote that he issued a refund. He never called, and the refund that he noted was the (too small) amount from two weeks ago.

So I had to call Ms. MaryAnn again. I dunno who she called or what she did, but she got the ball rolling. I got the word earlier this afternoon that the corporate office would refund the remainder of the money. I sincerely hope that the fcktards that run the local office get some sort of harsh punishment for their screw ups.

On a simpler, happier note, I got loose from the office early today. It was needed too, b/c it's been a hella pain in the tail week. I left the office at lunchtime, and only had a little bit of work to do at another site before having everything wrapped up.

A friend from CA is in town this weekend, so we met for lunch up at Jimmy's Old Town. I know, I know... always Jimmy's. If you had the ciabatta brisket sandwich for lunch, you'd be back for more, too. Besides, Guinness is always the best side order for any sandwich.

Tonight starts a weekend with the kids, but it's a bit different from a normal kid-weekend. Kid1 is at work, Kid3 is in FL to see his grandma, Kid4 is in KY to see another grandma. We've just got one at home with us for a couple of days.

On Sunday, Kid1 is heading back to school to start his sophomore year. This is totally freaking me out, even more than when he left for his freshman year. The last time he went away to school, it was a huge ordeal. Lots of planning and prepping and coordination and trying to make everything come together.

This year, I saw him on the road. He told me his travel plans when we rolled down windows to holler at each other for a minute. It makes sense, that he can manage it on his own, but it's just a little stressful.

Also on Sunday, a couple of friends are starting a cross-country drive in a couple of very sweet cars. I'm beyond jealous. I wanna be there when they run over a groundhog in Iowa, or drive past 400 miles of cornstalks in Nebraska.

Have a happy Friday, and don't blame me for sending this late. It was all Jimmy's fault.

I completely sucked at this game. Worse than Scott's Lawn Service sucks. (note - the chick from Miami did *not* speak Spanish)

The title makes the game sound a little painful, but the play itself is pretty cool.

I never liked Bob Saget, and I don't like his game, either.

They found him!!!!!

There is a place for all of God's creatures: on my plate next to the carrots and potatoes.

Leslie explains that -less means that's what you don't have. For example, money-less people have no money. I'm not sure how to interpret this...

Leslie got my $2, too...


Friday, August 8, 2008

pros and cons of customer service

Starting with the good... Propane Taxi rocks. I love these guys.

If you grill as much as we do, you know what a pain in the tail it is to transport tanks of propane. They get dirty and greasy, they're clumsy, and the shape is just right for rolling all over your clean car. Propane Taxi fixes all this trouble - for the same price or LESS; there's always a sale. Refilled tanks right now are just $10, delivered! I put the empty tanks in the driveway, click their website, and when I get home from work clean and full tanks are waiting for me.

Why I like them even more: I ordered two tanks last night. I had an old credit card number on file. My order was in the system, but the payment didn't go thru. Ben, from Propane Taxi, took it on himself to push the order thru (without payment) so I'd still get my delivery today. We worked together this morning to update the CC numbers, and everything is back on track.

I really have no idea if they're local or national, you'll have to enter your zip code to find out if they deliver to your area. Eddi, I'm pretty your house is outside the standard delivery area.

Continuing with the awful.... Scott's Lawn Service is the lowest. I'm only adding the link in the hope that some potential customer finds my site and decides against giving them any more money.

We purchased a year of lawn service, plus two add-on services: tree care and pest control. Brian, the sales guy, scheduled a morning tree service with my wife. I stayed home that morning to wait for the "tree lady". I waited and waited and waited, longer than waiting for the cable guy. Around lunch, I called to follow up on the appointment, only to hear from Melanie that Brian cannot schedule appointments and that TreeLady does not take appointments.

+ Fail 1 - Fcktard scheduled an appointment that they couldn't follow through on.
+ Fail 2 - Our dogs have free run of the backyard. If TreeLady does not make appointments, it's kinda hard to keep the dogs in the house that day.

So we go back and forth over the following weeks, trying to coordinate schedules and services. Overall, it's a total clusterfck.

+ Fail 3 - Brian (re)-labels our account as "must call before all service". Service techs continue to show up without calling. Sometimes they lay chemicals in the yard while the dogs are out; other times they leave a note saying that they didn't provide service because of the dogs.

+ Fail 4 - The local office telephone craps out for a couple weeks, so I can't get things straight. Melanie continues to call my cell, which during the day has a 0% chance of success. No real people live at the Scott's 800 number: all calls are routed back to the dead local office phone. Emails to the corporate website are also routed back to the local office, where they are answered BY PHONE.

After a couple weeks of getting runaround, I contact the parent company, Scott's Fertilizer. The phone girl enters some request for a regional manager to contact me to help get things straight.

+ Fail 5 - Of course nobody ever called.

So now I'm done with Scott's Lawn Service. I'll learn how to spray chemicals by myself, dammit. I called Brian to cancel everything, and to get a refund of the balance on our account. Two weeks pass with no refund, and I'm getting ready to follow up on the money situation.

+ Fail 6 - I got home from work Wednesday, and found another ticket on the door. They came by and serviced the house again, with the dogs in the backyard. WTF ! ! !

I called Brian again to get the cancellation and refund (and not pay for Wednesday's service).

+ Fail 7,8,9,10,11 - Brian tells me to call the office. I call Melanie at the office, and she tells me to call Brian. I'm sent in a very small stupid circle. I try to escalate the issue, but Melanie tells me that she doesn't have a boss, there is no regional office that I can call, and there is no Scott's franchise representative. By now she's yelling at me, like it's my effing fault that their office is a cluster fck. WTF the customer service chick is yelling at me that there are no communication issues, I'm not getting the refund, and she's the ScottsGoddess who has final say?

+ Fail 12 - Christopher Brown, who I just found out is the local office manager, has been silent.

I'm skipping him, and calling the Scott's (not 800) direct corporate line 937.644.0011 to try to find somebody who can a) listen and b) refund my money. We'll see how that goes. They stole $53 from me on Wednesday, and I'm just slightly burned about that.

In other family-type news... Kid1 is still staying at his mom's house while she's at the beach. I still haven't been invited to the party. Kids2&4 are still at the beach, with Kid4 catching a ride back to hang out with Gram for another couple weeks of vacation. Kid3 has been staying with his dad for the past couple of weeks.

We've been kid-free for the past couple of weeks, and done next to nothing with the opportunity. Grrrrr. You all can start hitting me with the "Getting Old" jokes now.

Totally Effing Annoying. Jen, I'm not sure if you get thanks for this or not.

This game is a HUGE pain in the tail. No directions, no clues even. You have to pay attention to learn the rules as you go. I can provide some hints if you really feel like wussing out without challenging your brain and coordination.

Between vaca, busy days at the office, and being a 'tard, I've fallen way behind on my inbox. I did a little bit of housekeeping today.

Josh sent me this link a while back, and I think I shared it, but I can't remember for sure. I can't always remember to eat lunch, though, so just b/c I don't remember doesn't mean too much. I think some of these people used to drop in to see me at GDays...

Why is it that "RV Salesman" seems even lower than "Car Salesman" on my credibility list? Thanks Jules!

Jen finds all the dumb people:


Friday, August 1, 2008

grinding, again

Being back in the real world is even less fun that I thought it was going to be. It's already Friday, and I'm still not caught up with everything either in the office or at home. I've been busier than he|| from morning til night ever since we returned.

The not-so-quick recap...

Kid2 had her learner's permit now, and spent some time behind the wheel of the truck. At 80mph. On the turnpike. With a trailer on the back. It was def a good experience for her, but it was prolly scarier than any coaster I've ever been on.

The first day was w/ the fam at Soak City in OH. Good rides and slides, but more than a little crowded. Repeatedly waiting 20+ minutes for a 30 second waterslide is a harsh break in the middle of the fun.

The rest of the weekend was spent at the annual reunion. Grilling, drinking, yapping, drinking, playing kickball, drinking, and pretty much just drinking. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't see any Genesee Cream Ale this year. No kegs, and not even in cans. Read what you want into the fact that we had cases and cases of Beast Light and Nattie Light.

Cedar Point provided enough adrenaline in the afternoon to make up for the fact that I was having a totally stressful day at the park. Some of the fam was whiny and cranky (no names, b/c they read this blog, too), and disorganized, and unmotivated. Rain closed all the rides for an hour during the afternoon. Dragster broke down TWICE while we were waiting in line. But then things started clicking - Dragster at 120mph seems to have a way of erasing my tension.

And I *finally* got a trip on Maverick. Me, and my sis, and Kids2&4 waited for the front seats on what is one of the best rides I've ever been on. It's got speed and twists and turns and g-force changes that are just awesome.

Then we headed out to Indy to hang w/ Gram and a couple other old friends. I wound up doing a lot of work around the house for Gram, which is a good thing. She's living solo, and doesn't have anybody around to climb the roof and clean the gutters and stuff. I only wish I had more time to spend with our friends, and more time to help Gram.

On the drive home, we stopped for the night in Washington, PA. Don't ever go there. EVER. The whole town was asleep by around 945pm. We had lights out in the hotel room around 11, so I stared at the Hampton Inn lot lights for about two hours before eventually drifting off.

The last day of vaca we were in Gettysburg PA doing the tourist thing. I'd driven thru, but never done the tour before. It's actually really good. They've got a 2-CD set (for sale) that you play in the truck while driving through an 18 mile course all around the city and the battlefield. There are lots of places to park along the course, to get out and explore, climb some really big rocks, go up in observation towers, and check out the hundreds of monuments. It was way more interesting than I expected it to be.

Learn from my experience: don't try to complete the tour with anybody else in the truck that doesn't ALSO want to complete the tour. Frustration and tension and bears, oh my! Trust me on this one.

Since we've been back... Kids2&4 are back on vaca w/ their mom. Kid1 stayed home (at his mom's) to work (and to have the place to himself). I'm a bit insulted that I wasn't invited to any parties over there. He heads back to CNU for the fall semester in two weeks. Seems like summer just started, and it's already winding down.

Kid3 is still home with us. He's got his 13th birthday on Sunday. Another teenager. Fun. I just realized that during March and April 2009, I'll have FOUR effing teenagers at the same time. Oh, I'm so looking forward to that.

I got caught up with my schoolwork earlier this week, and took my midterms last night. All good. If I could only get caught up on work around the office and at home, I'll be fine.

Weekend plans: Friday Night Live tonight in Herndon, for my first time (ever!) I don't know either of the bands; I'm just happy to have the chance to get out to something on a Friday night. I dunno what's going on Saturday yet, so somebody better call me with a (kinda kid-friendly) invitation.

Happy Friday!

Be the missle. I LOVE this game. Simple, but totally frustrating.

Frogs piss me off. Leslie, not so much, except that she sent me the frogs.

Max sent the most relaxing frustration ever. Roll over the shapes to capture them. Yellow increases level. Purple is really good. Blue and green are points. Red is bad. Now go!

Party Ruiners! I have names for each one of these people, and they've all been at my house.

This is from a couple different people.... The Beijing Topiary Garden is effing amazing. Check out the hand-waterfall one.

HA! I've got a great idea!

Eric joins the club of people that share parts of my brain, and who will be on the he||bus with me sometime in the future.