Monthly Archives: November 2015

Post Thanks and the Dark Side of Carrots

Thanksgiving was busy and wonderful and there were many moments with friends and family I am grateful for. In a few instances I was laughing my ass off, but thanks to my middle-aged brain I can’t really remember what I was laughing about–let’s just say you had to be there.

So you can blame gratitude for the fact that this week I couldn’t get it together to write a regular post, or if I did it would have been sappy and positive, and who the hell needs that? Instead, I was recovering from all the post Thankgiving festivities and preparing my vegetable snacks for the week because I’m older and this is what life has come to. Snacking on vegetables. Go ahead and laugh young ones, and call me in 20-30 years. I hope you’ll be snacking on something more futuristic, yet similarly ridiculous.

So there I was emptying the bag of “baby carrots” when I discovered the ugly dark underbelly of this misnamed product.

They aren’t babies.

Look at that long witch/snowman nose shaped carrot lurking among the “babies” like the old hag in a fairy tale looking for tender flesh in exchange for a prince’s greedy wish.

I’m crushed, crushed I tell you! Wish me luck getting it away from the others. It had a mean look in its pointy end. And please join me in my petition to name these carrots more accurately. Like carrot stumps or witch carrot sacrifices. You know,  something truthful that rolls off the tongue. I’m sure we can all be grateful for that.

On “Music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and Joy!” and How Refusing to Be “United” Makes Us Stronger

I’ve felt the need to say something about what’s going on in Paris, but I’m having trouble processing it. This eloquent, insightful post resonated with me, and I hope it does with you too. I promise to get back to funny next week.

Everybody's Talking at Once

This is mostly a site about videogames—moreso now than when it started—but stick with me for a moment, because this is important.

Last night, terrorists attacked the city of Paris, killing at least 127 people. The rest of the details are still coming out. We don’t know exactly who did this or exactly why, but like all acts of terrorism it was an assault on the very idea of living in a free and open society, unfettered by theocracy, unencumbered by police states, and unburdened by the disastrous groupthink of xenophobia and blind nationalism.

Terrorism seeks to make that worthy way of life impossible by forcing societies into open conflict—like the white supremacist who murdered parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because, according to investigators, he wanted “to start a race war”—or else by sending us into a death spiral of deadening, sisyphean faux-vigilance and killing us…

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Top 5 Things that Make Me Crazier than I Need to Be

Besides my natural inclination for being crazy, I also have to wrangle with the hormonally-induced crazy thoughts of perimenopause. Like the time I had a random moment of intense hatred for a stranger because of the coat she was wearing. It was an odd geometric pattern, and it pissed me off. I just laughed it off with my friends, but honestly, what does that even mean?!? All I can say is you people are just lucky I’m a pacifist and that I never took karate.

So I really don’t need any encouragement to be crazier than I currently am.  And I do so try to mind my own business, but while I’m doing that, these things happen. Stupid annoying things that shouldn’t because my rules make sense. If everyone would just follow them, we’d all be better off. Well, I would be better off, and that’s all that matters, right? I’m the one having anger issues over patterned coats. Here are my current top 5 things that make me crazier than I need to be:

  1. Online recipe fiddlers. See, foodies, some of us actually need recipes. Our creativity has other outlets, so when we go to Epicurious.com we’re actually there to find and follow a recipe. When we read the comments and ratings, what we’re looking for is a confirmation that the recipe works and is tasty. That’s it. We don’t need this:

“This recipe is great! I substituted Marash chili (from Turkey) for the pepper and added carrots, onions, white wine, thyme, and simmered 30 to 35 minutes to meld the flavors. Then I added fresh Parmesan cheese before serving.”

OK, that’s great smarty-pants foodie, but that’s not the ‘effen “Fast White Bean Stew” recipe. If I had wanted white bean stew with fancy pants spices and lots of extra ingredients, I would have looked for that recipe. Oh, and thank you for telling me where your fancy pants spice comes from. Like I care. Your review is absolutely useless to me because I’m not getting Turkish spices or adding cheese or simmering an additional 30 to 35 minutes because that’s not fast, which, BTW, is in the title.

2. Cloves. Just, no. They smell disgusting. They are disgusting. You might as well substitute that gross incense the Catholics use. Why, why, why, must those weird little brown flower buds and stems desecrate a ham? You want to stick decorative things in a ham? How about toothpicks with those frilly ends? I still haven’t recovered from my childhood run-in with a salad. Mind you, the salad was meant to encourage kids to eat it. Half a pear for the body on the bed of lettuce and a cottage cheese tail. Cute, right?

But then guess what the eyes and mouth were? Yummy raisins? No. Peanuts? No. Disgusting cloves. Even when you pull them out, the flavor remains and infects the canned pear goodness.

God, I hate cloves.

3. People who walk in the road when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk to use. At first I thought this was a peculiarity of my town. This generally doesn’t happen in Boston proper. If it did, between the cars and bikers, you could clog all the ERs in Boston hospitals with pedestrian accidents. But I’ve seen it in other surrounding towns. What the hell is that about? Are these the same people who don’t wear seat belts because the “man” told them to? Do they think sidewalks are for chumps?

Attention, Roadwalkers. Do you not understand that we Masshole drivers have the worst driving reputation? We will hit you and it’s a 50-50 chance it’s intentional. OK 80% chance. Use. The. Damn. Sidewalk. Freaks.

4. Commercial du jour. That commercial for a big box electronics store that suggests when your kid’s science fair project, such as an anemic exploding volcano, isn’t quite exciting enough, go buy a big screen TV. Then it shows the family watching some other, more exciting exploding volcano on the new TV because that makes sense…um…how exactly? You still don’t seem to get out of doing the stupid science fair project, which should be the main goal. Unless they mean for you to get out of doing it by bribing the teacher by giving him/her the TV? I’m the first to admit I hate the school science fair projects–all that angst and frustration and misery. I think a better commercial would be for an iRobot: Science Fair Edition that could make the damn project for you. That is a much better electronic solution I would pay top dollar for.

5. Fellow drivers. You didn’t think I was going to get to number 5 without doing something driving related, did you? There are so many road violations around here, it’s really hard to pick one, and it can depend on the day. But this week, I’ll say that the one that annoys me the most is when I get beeped at for obeying the traffic rules, such as not running down those people who don’t use the sidewalk, but they will use the cross walk in front of my car even though I have a green turn arrow. Clever bastards. I should’ve hit them by “accident” when I had the chance driving alongside of them. Now if I hit them, I’m clearly “in the wrong” because the cowards are hiding behind the cross walk right-of-way rule.

But do my fellow drivers behind me feel my pain? No, they lay on the horn because I’m not turning on the green arrow. I’m fairly sure that even if I did go ahead and run the people over, the drivers would still beep at me because my small Toyota Corolla couldn’t properly flatten them, and they would have to drive over the bumps.

So there you have it. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for getting the list down to 5. I must really be growing and maturing. Just don’t wear a weird geometric coat near me or walk in the road while I’m driving. Freaks.

Customer Service Gone Horribly, Horribly Wrong

Despite the millions of dollars and endless energy that is put into defining, training, providing, and complaining about customer service, precious few companies get it right. I have learned over the years that I don’t really want to spend that much energy on it — either way, good or bad, so I try to take the majority of it in stride. Middling average, nothing great and nothing awful is good enough for me. But recently I have experienced two extremes on the spectrum that are equally annoying and make me wish for disengaged millennials in a call center reading from a script.

The first one is, no big surprise, the USPS. There will be an entire blog post devoted to them at some point — either when this issue gets resolved, or I just need to comment on what it’s like to stare into the dark, empty, black hole of bureaucratic nonsense. In short, my packages and half my mail is not getting delivered. I’m an online ordering whore, so this is a serious problem. For those of you who actually shop in stores, most online retailers now use something called SmartPost, which you can tell right off the bat screams the classic bureaucratic tactic of putting lipstick on a pig; the real name should be DumbPost or NoPost. When things are sent by, *ahem* “SmartPost,” a reliable carrier like UPS or FedEx delivers your package to your local post office, where most packages go to die. Your USPS carrier then “delivers” the package to you, in theory. I’ve gotten annoyingly chirpy texts and emails from UPS and even the USPS that say, “Your package has been delivered!” And since September, no, it bloody well hasn’t.

Think that USPS tracking number will help you? Bwa-ah-ah-ah (cue thunder-clap). Here’s what will happen: you will go to the post office, wielding your tracking number. They will look it up and tell you to call the post office package facility, which by the way, is at a different, undisclosed location. You will call the package facility and give them the tracking number. They will claim to type it into a computer and tell you they need to research it and call you back. They will not call you back. After two weeks of you calling them four times to reenact this scenario, they will tell you. “We looked everywhere and we can’t find it. The carrier doesn’t remember it. Have another one sent.” Hmmm, so you can lose that one too? MInd you, there was no apology or explanation of how they failed to do the one task they are responsible for executing. Nice.

And don’t bother to fill the online customer service complaint form. I’ve done it twice within a few weeks, and after it pretends to let you arduously fill all the gory details about how the USPS has screwed you over and you hit the submit button, it tells you the webpage is currently unavailable. How convenient. I’m sure they want you to call and talk to someone so there is no physical evidence. I’m working up to getting the strength for that call, so I can waste more of my time over something I shouldn’t have to be dealing with. Did I mention they have one job? Deliver shit. One. Job.

Customer service part two. On the other end of the spectrum we have creepy CVS. I use a nasal spray for seasonal allergies. I use it randomly and refill it randomly. I started getting robocalls reminding me to refill it, but I wasn’t finished with it. After the third robocall, I listened to the very end and it gave a number to call to stop the reminder messages. Great! I called the number and stopped the calls. That’s good customer service.

But then I got a call from an actual pharmacy person who said my profile wasn’t complete, and I needed to call them. I ignored it because, clearly, they have the right phone number, and I get their emails, so whatever wasn’t in my profile couldn’t be that urgent. But I was wrong. It was urgent for them because not even a week later I got another phone call from another live pharmacy person saying my profile wasn’t complete.

Christ! Look, people, I have enough to do calling the goddamn post office every other day to give them tracking a tracking number so they can pretend to click on a keyboard and lose my packages. Now I have to call CVS in the name of customer service?

So I put my big girl pants on and called. “Um, I got a call about my profile being incomplete?” I said, making it clear that I was confused by the oddity of this request.

“Oh, yes, we noticed you haven’t refilled your prescription for your nasal spray. Are you still using it?” WTF? I felt vaguely violated. Do they also call you and ask you about your embarrassing skin rash cream? Your herpes or crabs medicine? I work at a hospital, so I know this wasn’t exactly a patient privacy violation. Technically, the pharmacist people are involved in your care so they should have access to your information. But still it felt weird. Plus, then I had to justify my non-use to a stranger. I have enough trouble keeping my bad health habits from my doctor, and now I have to do it for the CVS person.

“I don’t use it all the time. Only when I need it.” I paused. There was a disapproving silence on the other end of the phone. “So I don’t need to refill it that much,” I ended lamely, feeling mad about being embarrassed and by the fact that technically, that’s not really “profile” information. When you go online and look at your account profile for, oh, pretty much anything, it’s basic contact information. How much you use their product is not a part of that. We all know they have a secret profile of us, but most places have the good sense to hide that from you. Otherwise we might feel freaked out and violated like when CVS calls you about your goddamn nasal spray usage.

“OK, thank you for calling CVS.” Don’t thank me, girlie — go make your nasal spray quota on someone else. And while you’re at it, can you look up my USPS tracking number?

 

Discombobulation

Anyone else discombobulated from the time change? But before we get into that, let’s give a big round of applause for a fantastic word, discombobulated. Anyone can be “confused”or “disconcerted,” but only we wicked cool people can be discombobulated. Real high-class types, you know.

So, I did have a great weekend with my son, my sisters, and mom meeting up with our favorite aunt we’d lost touch with. I’m withholding her name because she reads this blog, and she said if her name appears, I’m in for it. You can have a favorite aunt and be a little scared of her at the same time. It’s a thing, just sayin’. In the process, I missed Halloween, which I didn’t really miss. My teen has lost interest in trick or treating, and as far as trick or treaters go, my door is around the side of the house and hard to see. So if it’s cold, I press my nose up against the glass of my door and shout uselessly, “Come around here!! Candy here!” If it’s warm, I can leave the door ajar and shout out to the kids as they go by. I’ve learned that either way is kind of creepy for kids, and not in a good Halloweeny type of way. So I didn’t really think about it until, dear lord, all the Facebook posts. Apparently my friends all consist of people with children who are trick or treating age or adults who go to Halloween parties. So I had that weird experience of feeling like I missed out on something, that I actually don’t care about. So that was confusing.

Then during the weekend, I whacked my knee into my car door, because apparently I’m klutzy just randomly enough for me to forget between good whacks. If I were always klutzy, I could get used to it or even be prepared. But months, nay, years can go by without me doing any harm to myself, and then, wham! I’m getting into my car and whack my knee in that spot-on place that makes the pain radiate through your whole body. So after I finished swearing my ass off in front of my kid, we both started laughing because there is really nothing else you can do when the pain knocks the wind out of you. That’s disconcerting.

And I still have my tendinitis, so my hand is bugging me, but I couldn’t in good conscience repost another old post, cuz I love you guys that much. Perhaps after reading this one, you’ll wish I had.

And, finally, the clocks were turned back, which, when you really think about it, is just plain strange. So I’m discombobulated, and this is what you get.

I’ll try to recombobulate this week and write my more usual nonsense post next week. In the meantime, happy bobulating!