Tag Archives: things that aren’t really free

Baby Aspirin

These were the lockers at the Museum of Fine Arts in Gent, Belgium

Can the wind play ding dong ditch? I heard the front door make that whump sound when it’s opened and then the doorbell went off a few times. When I opened the door there was no one there, no delivery left on the porch. No one walking away from the house. It’s windy and raining sideways so it seems a stretch that some kids were fooling around.

It’s a mystery.

When I was at the mall I stocked up on See’s candy. The free sample was some sort of orange wafer drizzled with chocolate. I took one bite and almost threw it away. It tasted like baby aspirin dipped in chocolate. Keep in mind that I LOVE See’s candy.

I brought it home and gave it to Bob who thought it was great. Later I realized: THAT WAS LEFT OVER FROM HALLOWEEN. My free sample was just stuff they were trying to get rid of.

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Comfortably Numb

I’m trying to coordinate a trip to California to see my family. This is a photo of me and my cousin Jennifer just a few years ago on Waikiki. She’s one of the people I’m trying to see.

Did I really neglect to share my dental emergency right before vacation?

If you can’t whine about your dental emergency on your blog, where can you whine about it? (Answer: Everywhere else. But still.)

My last day in the office before vacation I had planned to the last minute. I was cranking through getting everything done. Plus, it was the last semi-final of the Eurocup so I came in early so I could take a long lunch to watch the game and still get all my work done. Extra plus, I skipped breakfast so I could order a bacon cheeseburger at the sportsbar where I was going to watch the game.

But … I had a fairly new filling and the night before I was brushing my teeth and I ran my brush across this tooth and then Bob had to peel me from the ceiling. I thought it would be a good idea to see if my dentist could take a peek. Maybe the new filling needed an adjustment. I didn’t want a broken tooth on vacation.

Cut to:

Me at the endodondist prepping for an emergency root canal, missing my game, missing my bacon cheeseburger, my stomach growling sadly while I stared at the ceiling. And if you know anything about root canals, you know that they fry your dental benefit to kingdom come in the first 3 seconds so all my vacation money ready for spending handed over to surfer endodondist.

“Hi! How’s your day going so far?” he asked when he came to examine me.

Me: Uh, I was hoping my day would go exactly like this.

The good news: my tooth felt better and gave me no trouble on vacation. And I got a pocketful of drugs for my troubles.

The bad news: I had to have soup and rush back to the office and try to finish my work since the root canal took longer than a soccer game. Additional bad news, my soccer team lost which I found out later when I watched it on my DVR.

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Well, what if there is no tomorrow?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

I’ve had this post partially finished and saved in draft for days but haven’t had time to finish. The weekend got away from me and I’m behind on everything. My yard is out of control. The rain is destroying my will to live. I made *another* loaf of fail bread. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
It’s the same post every week.
I’m going to queue it up to post itself over and over and save myself from the existential despair of discovering that I am living some sort of twisted and ultimately unsatisfying version of Groundhog’s Day.

Here’s some news: I saw two movies in one week and neither one was The Avengers (which I’ve seen 3x and I would cheerfully go see it again tomorrow, if you asked).
First: Rock of Ages.
When I saw the trailer for this movie, I wanted my 3 minutes back. I thought it looked dreadful. I did not think I wanted to see Tom Cruise in that role.
I went on a movie date with my cousin and we saw this. It is totally off-the-rails crazy and also completely genius. Tom Cruise is amazing. If you enjoy 80’s hair band music, you should run to the nearest theater. If you hate 80’s hair band music, you might be happier if you stayed home.
The other movie I saw with my sweetie: Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is in danger of becoming a parody of himself but I loved loved loved it. This movie is brilliant. I loved all the acting. The kids, Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Bruce Willis. Tilda Swinton plays a cold bitch — but it’s a different flavor of cold bitch than you’ve ever seen her do before. Bob already downloaded the soundtrack for me. I can’t quote my favorite line because it’s a spoiler so here’s one:
Watch out for turtles. They’ll bite you if you stick your finger in their mouths.

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I Can Even Touch The Sky

Ishi Pishi Road, Orleans, CA

I finally deleted my Facebook account.

Actually the button said I deactivated it. I’m not sure if I had to dig deeper to delete or if they won’t let you because once they cap everyone they want to have data they can use to control you.

Doesn’t matter because I like being able to change my mind. What if the Timbers play a game that doesn’t destroy my soul and there’s a huge photostream that I can only view if I have a FB account?
Clicking that deactivate button was completely exhilarating.

I’m thinking about deleting my Twitter account now, too. I’m wishing I had GooglePlus, Pinterest, Shelfari, SockProvider, RecipeWiz, SewingWorld, ExerciseMama, MeditationShare, and Guns&RodsReloader accounts just so I could delete them all and feel that rush again and again.

Orleans Bridge, Orleans CA

It’s sorta like that story I read about tattoo removal where they joked that as soon as they got one removed they would go get another to keep the cycle going.
Did I ever write about when I looked into tattoo removal as a possible new occupation? It was a long time ago when I was not happy with my job (different employer than I have now) and I was looking around to see what other opportunities the world had to offer. I figured tattoo removal was going to be a raging growth industry. But I also realized I would spend my days hunched over burning skin so I didn’t get too far with that.

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The World Expects Way Too Much Remembering

I can’t find my photos of my cucumber plants so we’ll do hedge whacking instead. Look how nice and sunny it was that day. That red line in the bottom left is a new extension cord. I accidentally whacked the old one. Flames shot out. It was pretty exciting.

Has anybody calculated how far away are we from needing to hire people to manage our privacy and security preferences?

This stuff wears me out. These sites that want you to create a login just to look at something. Nope. Not doing it. Too many logins. Too many rules. You couldn’t use the same password for everything even if you wanted to.

This makes me so cranky.

I’m tired of customer service surveys, too. That’s gone way too far

For customer service surveys my time is billed at $60 an hour, one hour minimum.

I just went to download something free and they wanted my credit card. Nope. Can’t have it. (It’s a legitimate company, not some scammy thing but I’m still not giving to them just so they can have it on file and then one of their dopey CEOs can go to happy hour at Hooters and leave his laptop in the car to get stolen.)

At the office, we changed companies for computer protection and I keep getting these emails from the old company reminding me that Your! Virus! Protection! Has! Expired! Your! Computer! Is! Not! Protected!

Except that it is, by another program. So I went to unsubscribe from the emails which was an Alice in the Rabbithole clusterfukian adventure in time-wasting. Everything I did just opened a new window and went in a big circle until I was back where I started only with a million windows open.

So then I started up the chat help with “Steve.” [Aside: I actually enjoy doing chat help for purely entertainment value.] Steve was a robot and he kept opening more windows for me to tell me what to do. And explaining how I just do this, then this, then this and then click on the button that says this and I won’t get those annoying updates.

First of all, I shouldn’t have to click more than once to unsubscribe to anything. And second, my computer wouldn’t do this, this or this nor did it have a this button.

So I wrote a toasty complaint email which I’m sure was sent directly to the CEO where it was printed on gold-plated toilet paper for his morning constitutional. Then I made a filter to send the messages straight to trash.

I almost forgot to take the “after” photo so the sun was down when I ran back out there. I took it from this angle to hide how crookedy it is. I’m too short to get the top very well and also my arms get tired.

One of my financial institutions sent me a long thing about my privacy settings which mostly said, “Hard cheese, not much you can do about us sharing your info,” except there were two things that you could ask them to leave you out. But of course you had to call. So I called and it wasn’t automated it was a person. And then we had to go through about 10 rounds of account number, social security number, describe one of your last three transactions. I got all cranky about that. Is there really a lot of fraudulent canceling of sharing information going around?

So then she said we could set up security questions so it wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass next time.

And all her suggestions were for favorite things. I don’t have favorite things. And anything that’s my favorite now is going to be long forgotten by the time I have to remember it. Then we decided on first car. But then later after I got off the phone I realized I gave the wrong car. So hopefully I’ll remain permanently confused about my first car.

Thanks technology. You’re awesome when you aren’t killing me softly with your logins and passwords.

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It’s a Trap. The coupon is a Trap.

This morning I did something so completely stupid you’d think I don’t pay attention to my own advice.

Based on a direct mail coupon, I made an appointment to get a “winter service special” for my car at the dealership. (01 Camry with 70K miles, so you have the details.) Today I took the car in.

You know what coupon means in car service? It means, “We must make up for the $4.99 you’re going to save by finding at least $100 worth of other services to recommend.”

DOH! This after reading on Consumerist that auto mechanics get paid on commission. Some in the 40% range. Sure, the article is referring to one particular business. We don’t know if all auto mechanics work on commission. But it makes you think, eh?

I didn’t have class today because of Veterans Day and this is the first Friday morning I’ve had since September so I had a ton of errands planned, including this car service which consists of an oil change, tire rotate, battery check, windshield wiper change (the selling point for me!) and something with fluids or hoses or whatever.

I made a 7:30am appointment thinking the drag ass out of bed early would be paid off when I was finished early and could have a fine morning of errand running. They said 1½ hours and I said no problem. Because I had tons of reading material with me.

Just like Murphy’s Law on a plane, I had a guy sit down next to me who wanted to chat. But he was mildly entertaining and I listened to his stories. He was doing the same service as me.

2½ hours later we were both a little antsy. Why was this taking so long? We joked it was probably the coupon. The guy came out to talk to him about his truck first and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized that I totally was forked by the coupon. He had a laundry list of things that should probably be taken care of.

They called my name and I followed my guy into the screw-a-torium. $527 worth of recommended services, plus replacing the spark plugs, no price given and some sort of air filter thing which I said fine: whatever. May your stupid coupon at least pay for itself.

Two of the items were 60K mile services items. “But I had the 60K mile service,” I protested. “Here?” the guy says.

No I did not. There is another dealership more convenient to my office so depending on what type of service I need and what my schedule is like, I switch back and forth. Apparently only the service I have at that dealership counts.

“No,” I say, “Can’t you tell by looking at it?”

“It doesn’t look like it was done 10K ago.” Is he covering his ass or did I not get this done? I don’t know and now like Fox Mulder, I trust no one.

One item was a front brake replacement which I expected except he wanted to wheel and deal and I did not want to spend one more minute of my morning sitting there.

One item was a battery, which I expected because I have a 60-month battery that turned 60 several months ago. I’ve been keeping an eye on it. $120. Obviously I’m stupid but that sounded awfully steep for a battery. When I balked, he started wheeling and dealing again.

One item had to do with the fuel injection. Remember my bent-over-the-hood of my Toyota story from a couple of years ago? (scroll down to June 1 and work your way up) I have to doublecheck my records but I thought they replaced my whole fuel injector apparatus during that fiasco. Does it really need to be serviced again? Are the two issues even related? This guy didn’t know jackcrap unless it was in his system.

Crap. I thought I was supposed to be able to trust the dealer.

Bob’s going to take the car to Les Schwab for the battery (I’ll report my savings here) and talk to them about the brakes. I’m going to look at my 60K service and see what they did. Crap. I hate car stuff.

But I LOVE my new windshield wipers.

Update: Bob got me a battery at Les Schwab for $72.

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Nothing Is Free, Ever

I was going to tell you a funny story of something that happened at the movies last night but meanwhile, this other thing has happened that’s got my panties in a twist so I’m going to tell you about that instead.

If you haven’t already learned this, write it down now: NOTHING is free.

Earlier in the week I signed up for a “free” informational class on this thing I’m looking into and I figured it would give me a good overview and I could make a decision about taking other classes or whatever. They didn’t tell me what room to go to so I used my online signup number to check the class listing but first I had to fill out a screen (data mining) and then they still didn’t show a room number so I had to call. Now I’m on their marketing list (eff-me!) for taking classes. They called me at work (cell) to talk about it. I told the guy I had some thinking to do and calling me wasn’t going to help me make up my mind. He said he’d make a note of it.

The other one is worse. The last two years I have been discretely obsessed with Big Brother which is a dreadful reality show that can suck up huge amounts of your summer. They have cameras in the house and you can subscribe for 24 hour access — which I have never done.

This year I didn’t even pretend I wasn’t going to watch the show: I was looking forward to it and I decided to try the livefeeds to see what it was like. They had an offer for 14 days free and then $12.99 a month so I figured it wasn’t too bad and I signed up. The feeds are hard to watch. They don’t work that great on DSL — perhaps higher speed is better. I can get audio but the picture is wonky and not like watching TV. And listening to people who are doing nothing but killing time grows boring fast. What’s worse than being locked in a house doing nothing but plotting to get rid of everyone else? Watching people locked in a house doing nothing but plotting against each other.

It wasn’t worth it so this morning I logged in to cancel my free pass before it expired.

But you can’t cancel your pass online. You have to click through a couple of screens and they give you a phone number which immediately ticked me off but I marched to the phone to take care of it now.

This guy was NOT going to let me cancel my account. This is such an abhorrent business practice to hand out “free” things to your customers and then beat them up when they don’t want to pay for them later. I went through the same thing with the phone company once.

The service that provides the Big Brother feeds provides other services as well: games and music and news. I don’t really know because I don’t need to pay $12.99 a month to spend more time sitting around my computer. The guy gave me the full sales pitch but I didn’t really listen because I was canceling my account which is what I told him: again and again and again. I give him credit because he was flawlessly polite except WTF: I want to cancel my account. These people have my credit card number. What was I thinking?

He wanted to give me another month for free so I could check out their services which is again, a clever and sneaky business practice because most morons are going to forget to cancel and get dinged.

No, I said. I want to cancel my account now.

This went on and on. I finally began to yell into the phone: Cancel my account NOW. I want to cancel NOW. If you can’t cancel my account NOW, transfer me to someone who can.

He seemed to get it after that and I received a cancel confirmation so I think I’m good.

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