Sunday, February 22, 2009

My son is obsessed with a small red-head

The Little Pirate hasn't been much of a fan of movies, TV shows, or even video games, particularly. That's not to say they don't suck him in the same way they do me - he will settle down if he gets to play with Mommy's cell phone, and he absolutely adores both Handy Manny and the Little Einsteins....but other than that, the TV being on is mostly something he ignores.

That is, until recently. My son is absolutely in love with a short red-head. No, it's not either of the two you'd think....not Red or Little Red. No, it's something much more sinister.

My son loves Strawberry Shortcake.

Yes, you read that correctly. Thing#2 has a Strawberry Shortcake DVD that runs about 5-10 minutes long, and at the end there's this song they sing about how shooing away all of the nasty crows and taking care of their plants will make things grow better. It's insidious, but it pulls his attention in a way that nothing else will. He'll be playing (or, lately fussing a lot - he's cutting three teeth right now...good times, lemme tell ya) in the living room doing his own thing, and if somebody puts that in, he'll freeze in place for the duration, glued to the TV. When the song is over, he'll sit there waving his arms while the credits roll, and then give me a goofy grin as though to say, "Play it again, Daddy!!!!"

I gotta get this kid on Transformers immediately, that's just all there is to that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It's been a while since I was able to blog, get online, or do much of, well, anything. This is entirely due to a certain company I mentioned before as having very poor customer service.

After the house fire we had back in November, I asked this company to suspend our service, and told them why. They said they would - I received no bills, and got the occasional person telling me that our home phone number had been disconnected. I thought nothing further of it.

So imagine our suprise, and Red's fury, when four days after we moved back in, we discovered in the mail a phone bill saying our service was disconnected as of the beginning of January, for non payment of the $300 phone bill from November to current. I was livid - we spent three hours on the phone with these people, and finally extracted from them a promise to do something unspecified right away if we'd have the fire marshal fax them a copy of the report on the fire.

Fine, whatever. So we asked the fire marshal to do that, and he did.

A week went by. Then another week.

I finally had had enough, and last Thursday I had some time, so I called and was what I call polite and Red calls being diplomatic in an evil sense. By the time I was done talking to them, they'd decided to just make the whole bill problem go away. They said they'd waive the entire bill, set us up with a new connection. Then I decided, well, if we're feeling all try-to-keep-the-customer-happy here, let's see how far it'll go.

"So will you take the same package you had before?" the lady asked.
"No, I don't think so, actually," I said. "See, I've had an offer from one of your competitors....they're offering to give me faster broadband for six months, for less than I'd be paying for two months of services with you. Just under $300 for six months, in fact. Can you give me a good reason why I shouldn't switch, because I've got to tell you, between the economy and the problems I've had with your company over the last six months, I'm inclined to. I have no brand loyalty here."
"How about we give you three months at $18 and $46.99 per month forever, with a faster tiered speed than you had before?"
"Tell me more."

I ended up getting a new modem, faster service, and since we didn't opt for the $80 in extra phone package stuff since we're going to go with T-Mobile's VoIP service (for $10 a month), that's all I'll be paying. In short, I got a free new modem, free new router, and a faster connection for about half what I was paying before.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An encounter with the Keystone Konstruction Kompany

This is my first encounter with construction, at least from a they're-building-this-around-me if I'm snarking here about things that should really be expected, bear that in mind.

Over the last two and a half months, we've gone through one broken promise after another on when things would be done, what would be accomplished, had many unexpected and wholly unpleasant suprises along the way, and yet somehow, when the "Final Inspection and Finishing Touches" were supposed to have been done yesterday, according to the guy with the checkbook, who Red refers to as God (at least as far as our friends from the Keystone Konstruction Kompany are concerned, he is), I had high hopes that at long last we'd see the backside of plumbers, electricians, drywall hangers, carpet installation, inspectors, various catch-all-contractors, and other assorted people trapising though. Sadly, my hopes were dashed yet again.

Following Red's big showdown with the property manager last week, many things have been accomplished. We are, in fact, all back in our home and what we were told was the last of the construction stuff was finished today in the form of trim and trash cleanup. Mind you, more has been done in the last week than in the previous 72 days put together - there's a laundry list of it, but the short version is that everything has been done.

Or so we were told.

One would think that, since there's a definite order that things are done in in construction jobs, each individual item would be dealt with. For instance, providing lovely cabinets with flush doors would be followed immediately by putting handles on them. Insulation comes before drywall and paint, and so on. This is not the case with the KKK I've referenced, evidently. Over the last five days Red and I have been speculating a little on why the kitchen is so cold all the time. We found out today - there's NO GODDAMN INSULATION IN THE ATTIC SPACE.

How do you miss something like that? Seriously? We found out today, after the construction guys turned our heat back on a month ago, that half of the top floor of the house is totally without insulation between the actual kitchen and the attic space above it. 1/2" of drywall, some paint, and the plywood of the roof is the only thing keeping the heat inside my house. For obvious reasons we are NOT going to be paying the heating bill until this gets addressed, just as we took a $385 gas bill to the property managers last week (which, Red said, made the girl accepting it look like somebody had just booted her in the giblets).

Add to that the company that was coming in to do the cleaning. Now, the ladies that were here for four days did a bang-up job of cleaning the drywall mud off the floor that the drywall guys were too retarded to put a sheet down for, along with everything else. I talked to the cleaning company back in November when they were talking about doing the carpets here and said, "Well, if you guys are going to be here with the equipment anyway, let's take care of my furniture while you're at it." The guy from the cleaning company quoted me a price of $175 for doing deep cleaning of a reclining rocker, a full length 8' sofa, and two love seats. They charged my Visa for it shortly thereafter.

Nothing further was heard from them until last week, when they caught the aftershocks of Red's explosion via what I can only imagine was a frantic call from the property managers. They called us on Friday apologizing for not getting it done already, but correctly pointing out that cleaning it before now wouldn't really have helped since the construction guys can't evidently figure out how to clean up after themselves with both hands, a road map, and a flashlight. They scheduled it for this morning, when Red and the Little Pirate would be at home.

Unfortunately, nobody told the cleaning guy that he was supposed to come out. Red called them at about 1:00 this afternoon asking them when they were planning on coming, and their response was, "Uh....oops. Our bad, we didn't put you on the schedule," and sent a subcontractor. This was the point at which more fun ensued, when he got in, saw the furniture sitting there ready to be cleaned (where it's been for the last two and a half months, mind you), and asked which couch and which loveseat we wanted cleaned. Evidently, according to our records, that was all we'd been charged for.

I called the original cleaning company and asked them - I had made it very clear the first time around what I wanted done, the guy that had been at the house and seen the furniture already was the one that had given me the quote, and I'd paid for the service. As far as I'm concerned, that should be that - they should be providing the service I had bargained for, and if their records don't reflect that, tough shit. Oh, no, says the woman at the other end of the phone, we would never quote you a price that low, you must have misunderstood, and did you get this in writing? I hadn't, of course, which is an error I won't make again. Red, meanwhile, gave the guy that was actually here at the house a nice smile and asked him politely, and he ended up doing what we wanted anyway without charging us extra.

As I said, I think I'll let her deal with people from now on.

I blame President Obama. The fire happened November 4, and Election Day was November 6th. It can't be a coincidence.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I couldn't agree more

Via Jawa:

My personal opinion is that this inauguration was no more historical than any other except for the very first one. Calling it "historical" because the President is anything other than a white male is keeping the race debate in everyone's face and therefore keeps us divided as a country.
My issue with Obama, or any of the Democrats who ran for President last year, is their left-liberal Socialist policies, not their race or gender.

That's about all I have to say about that. Hopefully Obama will be a good president...we'll see.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Redheaded Armageddon

I told Kate yesterday I'd post something about the achievements she wasn't aware she'd made.

Remember I said I got the Definitive Word that we'd be back in the house by the 12th of January? Please note - I'm writing this from the living room of the family we've been staying with since November. It is not the 12th of January...that came and went.

Rewind a bit to earlier this week. We got word from the property owner about two weeks ago that things would be done, then word from his wife that it'd take a bit longer (to last Wednesday). Okay, we thought - it's been two and a half months, another two days is not going to kill us. Went over to the house before work, moved cats so they wouldn't be in peoples' way, and went to work in the conviction that soon, all would be right with the world.

Imagine my suprise, then, when we arrived a teensy bit after noon, and not only was nothing further done, it was rampantly obvious that nobody had even been there. I consider myself a reasonable guy, most of the time, and I have my self-interest (and that of my family) in mind, so the call to the property manager was as polite as I could make it.

Red felt no such compunctions, being a) redheaded, b) pissed off, c) a mother anticipating explaining to her children for the seventy-second consecutive night why they had to sleep on somebody else's floor, and d) having a high blood content of a medication that significantly increases her aggressive nature as a side-effect of its primary purpose. All I could do was stand back and respectfully urge that she either try very hard not to permanently maim anyone or hide the bodies afterwards and be very thorough in her cleaning. She declared that the time had come, as we'd actually been planning, for a visit to the property management people to hand off the utility bills for the house (the contractors had reconnected everything in our name without our permission - remember that snow I mentioned? Furnace running to heat the house, windows left open for over a week....$400 gas bill we are so not going to be paying...).

Holy shit.

I think the next time I have a problem...with anybody....I'm going to allow her to handle it, because Oh My God did she get results.

Red isn't one of those women that stops making sense and goes into hysterics when she's angry. Instead, she develops this laser-like precision and zeroes in on her target's weakest point - in this case, it was an obviously upset mother with a crying baby asking why the property manager seems to never have any idea what's going on with the repairs, plopping down over $500 in utility bills, and mentioning all of the other goodness I may have mentioned over the last couple of months about this.

Oh yeah.

We went back after I was off work...mind you, four hours earlier, nothing whatsoever had been done. Carpet, wall to wall, was done for the entire upper floor. While we were there, the property manager called me to reassure me for the eight hundredth time that he was looking into things, and I decided to drop Kate's suggestion on him. I haven't actually spoken to an attorney, as of yet, but he of course didn't know that...I simply told him that I'd spoken to a friend of mine who is an attorney (yes, Kate, I know you're retired, but that wasn't significant in this context) and she had suggested speaking to somebody local about constructive disposession. Having taken Kate's suggestion and Googled it already, I had a pretty good idea what the term meant. I think it got his attention though.

The following day (this would be Thursday), the property manager called Red again. The owner was evidently coming down. Countertops would be installed. Appliances would be delivered. Things would be done, and by God he was going to make sure that they did. Red went by the'd think she'd stuck a stick into an anthill the way these guys were scuttling around. The tile guy didn't actually get there for the countertops till that afternoon, having had to come from the coast very late the night before, but he got quite a bit done nonetheless.

We went by late yesterday. The countertops are finished aside from some edging - they're this really dark greenish-black marble, 8x8 tiles laid edge to edge and almost seamless. Edging around the windows has been replaced. The storm damage to the big tree outside has been cleared. The vents on the stairs and the railing for the stairs have been put back. Lights have been installed. The dedicated electrical line for the sauna is in place. The trash has been removed from the kitchen. The appliances have arrived and are sitting ready to be installed on Monday morning. Plumbing for the washer and the vent and electrical for the dryer are done.

Red got no less than three calls from the property manager yesterday assuring her that he'd been checking with the contractor and giving her updates. I think she scared him.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Not quite random request

If I ever get the urge to offer "help" to a tweaker again, somebody kick me.


Saturday, January 3, 2009


Me: ...How about a mouse like this one, except bright green?

Little Red: Um, no?

Me: Why not?

Little Red: Because I don't need one?

Me: Why?

Little Red: Because I don't have a home?

Me: Why?

Little Red: Because you suck?

Me: Why?

Little Red: I don't frickin' know, ask your gay partner.

Red: *paralyzed with laughter* Look, he's blushing!

Me: I'm totally blogging this, you two.