If you know me, you know I'm full of opinions. If you don't know me, you'll learn that soon enough. All of what you see here represents just that: my opinions. Not those of any employer, family member, group or association. Just me.
Comments are most welcome from real people.
Comment spammers: neither I nor my esteemed readers have any interest in your Indonesian prostitutes or your erectile dysfunction drugs CHEAP! or your rambling word salad with key tech terms thrown in to generate traffic for who knows what. You can go right to hell.
Really? Since when are government agencies in the business of sponsoring movies? Is that why postage costs keep going up? And what's next? "Ocean's 17," brought to you by the IRS? "Twister 3" compliments of FEMA? "Grumpiest Old Men," sponsored by the Social Security Administration? As if the horror show brought to you by Obamacare wasn't bad enough…
(this morning's rant has been brought to you by chilly temperatures, no coffee,yet, and a to do list four miles long)
It's already a pretty day on the Front Range. Soaking my sore bones from 8 hours of raking yesterday; only half the backyard to go. :-)
And I'm a little giddy because I finally figured out how to clone Disney Cruise Line coffee, which was possibly one of my favorite onboard gastronomic delights. Now if I could just nail the mango panna cotta...
Beloved readers - the Denver Post is currently running an opinion poll on whether the state of Colorado should pass a law that would prohibit freestanding emergency rooms from charging emergency room rates, even though they provide the exact same services and care as a hospital-based ER, in most cases more quickly and efficiently.
If you agree that such a law is a bad idea, both because it could limit care options for patients, and because the entire ridiculous matter stems from what is essentially a turf war between the medical establishment's status quo and what some see as an up and coming competitor, would you please visit the Post's poll and vote "NO" if you have a second?
Folks, you probably know I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky person. Sure, I may bitch and moan about little things that piss me off, but rarely do I have an entire day I'd like to scrub right out of existence. And last Saturday was quite possibly that day. A wonderful and entertaining conversation with some dear friends saved the day at the very last minute.
For your merriment, I shall recap the day:
7:30 am: Early on, I advised Hayley "beware the ides of March," and then at her behest explained and listed a handful of unfortunate occurrences I've experienced on that fated date.
9:45 am: Fast forward a couple of hours, and she and I were on our way to the motorcycle show. We passed a church with a billboard proclaiming "Jesus is the light of the world" and she said "Well, actually, the sun is the light of the world...but you go, Jesus!" (she is SO my kid!)
[Our family should probably have learned a lesson about mocking deities last month when Scott damn near broke his ankle mere minutes after making fun of a Mayan god's name at the ruins in Tulum. But I digress.]
10:20 am: About a half hour into the bike show, Hayley noted that her phone was missing. Since she had had it about two minutes prior, we knew it couldn't be far and deduced that it must have come out of her back pocket on the chair she had been sitting in - but of course when we went back it was nowhere to be found. Because I'm a savvy mom and can track my children's every move (unless they decide to trick me, and I'm sure they've discovered a way!), we tracked the phone and saw that it was still roaming around the bike show venue. Alas, douchebaggery prevailed as overhead announcements, text message pleas, find-my-iPhone piercing noise, and general implied thuggery failed to produce a phone.
11:15 am: Shortly thereafter, tracking ceased to work. So whether said douchebag turned it off and threw it in a garbage can, smashed it with a hammer, or pocketed it with the intent of using or selling it (which won't work, as a "stolen" tag is inextricably pinned to the serial number forevermore), we won't ever know. Still wasn't too worried, because I have insurance on all the kids' phones, so for a $50 deductible the problem would be fixed.
11:30 am: Having had enough adventure for one day, Hayley and I decided to head home. A friend who happens to be a Genius (and who nearly wanted to throttle all of us for our iPhone feature ineptitude, as evidenced by his charitably worded "Next week, I'm going to come over to your house, and we're going to have a family intervention so you all can use all your Apple devices correctly") caught up to us in the parking lot. Leaning down into Hayley's window, he reassured her that we would find a way to get the phone thing figured out. Then, he leapt up and hollered "No, STOP!!" as a full-size pickup truck backed into my car. It was a solid hit on the rear driver's side, and I cringed to think of what my poor car would look like as Hayley just started crying in the passenger seat.
As it happened, it was only the taillight, and a tiny scuff on the truck bumper, and the older gentleman in the truck was horrified and apologetic. Neither of us was sure whether we should call the police or not, so I called Scott and asked him to come outside. Turns out he knew the guy, so they made arrangements to take care of the taillight without involving insurance companies, et al., and Hayley and I went on our way.
We spent the afternoon dealing with the phone crap, and I was annoyed to find that somehow I'd missed insuring Hayley's phone after all. Okay, plan B. I was eligible for an upgrade but hadn't quite gotten the gumption to go blow a couple hundred bucks on the 5s I so desperately wanted... so after much ridiculous waiting at the nearest AT&T store, and after nearly giving up a time or two, we finally found an AT&T store without 400 people in line, and eventually the phone crisis was mitigated.
5:45 pm: Hayley and I returned home to get ready for the evening's festivities, for which Scott left shortly afterward. I told him we would be on our way as soon as we got ready, and that I needed to put gas in the car as it was almost empty, and that was that.
6:30 pm: I was ready, and Hayley still needed to sweep the floors, so I figured it would save us time if I went to go get gas while she finished up. The tank wasn't empty, mind you, but the needle about halfway between E and 1/4 of a tank indicated that we did not quite have enough gas to get where we were going that night. I told her I'd be back in 10 minutes, and took off.
6:35 pm: just as I exited our neighborhood, my car died. Blessedly, it started right back up, but I took that as fair warning and slowly limped toward the nearest gas station.
6:40 pm: I made it to the left turn lane into the gas station. The left turn lane. Dead, and no amount of cussing, pleading, wiggling and rocking the car, nothing would start it up again. F. M. L.
6:42 pm: I sprinted across the street and down the hill through a mulched flower bed and into the Kum n Go. I pulled the one last gas can from the bottom shelf, plunked it on the counter and tried to smile as I told the clerk "this is just the kind of day it's been."
6:45 pm: Out to the pump, spin the lid off the can, and pump two gallons in the approaching-zero-degree wind. Did I mention FML?
6:48 pm: Climbed back up through the mulch onto the road, where the wind is much more brisk and flakes of snow ae starting to swirl down. Unlock car, uncap gas tank, and crouch to fit the spout to the gas can. Much to my chagrin, I find that there is no gasket / ring / thing with which to hold the spout onto the can. (There really wasn't, you smartasses, I checked the next morning!)
6:51 pm: I decide that it's a good idea to try and use my hand as a gasket or a seal. Not so much, and I am now covered with gas from the elbow down.
6:52 pm: All my MacGyver aspirations are icily thwarted. There is no way to attach the friggin spout to the can, no way at all. And my hands are starting to go numb.
6:53 pm: I stand up and hope to Christ nobody is watching as I proceed to slosh gas from the can into the general vicinity of the gas cap compartment. I slosh until there's a pourable amount left, and pour that amount, a third of which ends up in the tank and the rest of which now soaks my pantleg and both boots. I am so disgusted at this day and its wretched chain of mishaps that I throw the worthless gas can onto the median and get back in the car.
7:01 pm: with a dreadful combination of pleading, threatening, and trying not to succumb to the gas fumes, I put the key in the ignition and turn. Angels sing from on high as the darn thing starts right up.
7:05 pm: I find myself again at the Kum n Go, and fill my tank. The temperature has dropped by what feels like about twenty degrees, and so has my general disposition.
7:15 pm: I get home, and all Hayley and I can do is laugh. Just laugh.
7:45 pm: We arrive at the aforementioned festivities, and have a good time. Having already given up on mom of the year honors, I teach my kid how to play dice. She *cleans up.* The day may turn around yet.
9:15 pm: We had consumed potluck tacos and Spanish rice upon our arrival at this soirée. And we have not yet begun shitting ourselves. Score two for the home team.
10:30 pm: Hayley and I leave to make a grocery store run and make final preparations to the house for that night's company.
11:15 pm: Scott arrives home with our friends, and for three hours we talk and laugh and drink a little...and have a wonderful time bidding good riddance to the bastard ides of March.
So, picking up where I left off in the previous rant...
We spent the first night in the spacious luxury of our new rooms and boarded the rental minivan the next morning, bound for Universal Studios Orlando. There were some cool rides, and a couple that were truly nauseating - but the overall feel of the place was a trudging, dreary, unhappy "let's just get through the day," which was made volumes worse by the multiple rides that broke or otherwise became dysfunctional while we were on them or about to be, the scores of frowning employees slogging along to their respective job sites as they smoked cigarettes or complained to their co-workers or unseen persons on the other end of cell phone calls. I found myself longing for the cleanliness of Disney World, the smiling employees, the overall working order of the Disney empire, and not least of all, the tunnels under the parks that convey all the workers to and from their stations, out of view of the gawking public.
Universal Orlando --> Thumbs down.
The next day, we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios, which is essentially the exact same type of attraction as Universal - but done right. Employees Cast Members who are happy, or at least seem so, without fail; everything clean and sparkling and functional... The whole place was upbeat and positive, and you could absolutely tell a striking difference on the faces of the rest of the visitors as well as ourselves. Happy. Good customer service.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Thumbs up.
The following day, as our great vaykay drew to a close, we returned to the hubbub and hustle of MCO to depart for home. Via Frontier Airlines. Which is about as much of a stinker of an airline as exists, second only to Spirit Airlines, which I understand is now a co-stinker under the same stinking corporate umbrella. Half-clueless (though well intentioned) ticket counter baggage check people, grumpy gate agents (who'd have thought that the most cheery folks we encountered that morning were the TSA nazis??). We get on board, and the flight attendants are all old and bitchy and snappy, and appear as if they want to serve no one, but would rather be getting foot massages from the first class passengers. "Folks, we've reached our cruising altitude, and the flight attendants will now be coming through the cabin with our beverage and snack service," IN CASE YOU WANT A $3.00 CAN OF COKE!! Fer cryin' out loud, I'm not a picky traveler, but after navigating through an international airport and the TSA gauntlet with five cranky kids and a slightly crankier husband, I'm bushed and my throat is raspy - but I'll be goddamned if I'm gonna pay three bucks for a coke, on principle alone.
Frontier Airlines: Thumbs down.
The day after that, yes folks, a mere 20 hours after arriving home, I was bound for yet another airplane, this one to carry me to Dallas for a meeting. An American Airlines airplane, which, for all that can be said about their constant flight delays and rearrangements, is a vessel of far better customer service than the aforementioned Frontier. The flight attendants were nice and not completely haggard with the demands of their day; the Coke was free, and all was right with the world. Even when the pilot lowered the landing gear a good five minutes early. Still all good. American Airlines: Thumbs up.
So as you may see, this experience with both ends of the customer service spectrum was illuminating. If I wasn't already a big enough customer service nerd, I'm more so now. I'm thrilled to work for a company that espouses that same philosophy and actually provides the working environment where employees can thrive and be happy, and I'm committed to passing along that customer service focus. I guess it all comes down to rule #1: "Don't be a douche."
Most of you have heard me rant at some point about customer service. It's long been a personal soapbox, and it's become a professional one in the past year too. I have very clear ideas and strong opinions on what constitutes good customer service, and often lament the fact that it seems to be a dwindling commodity. But it's been a week (or two, actually) of stark contrasts, and it's interesting to me. Indulge me a little, read on.
When at first we arrived in Vacationland, USA, we were set to stay for the first couple of nights in
savanna-view rooms at the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village (which is a really, really nice place and on Disney's top tier accommodation-wise), and we got semi-settled. There was noise coming from next door, but it was afternoon, so nobody worried about it. Kyle, the girls and I headed toward Downtown Disney for a little bit of shopping while Gabe slept and Scott rested. A short while later, I became aware of the fact that the 'little bit of noise next door' had blossomed into a full-blown party and was getting progressively louder. Scott had called the front desk and asked them to request that the next-door people quiet down to a reasonable level. (By now, it's 9:30ish.) They'd sent a security officer up, the exchange with which Scott could hear through the (locked) adjoining door, and the second the officer left the hallway, the partiers commenced yelling obscenities through that door at Scott. Who, I must say, handled himself with a remarkable degree of restraint as the adjoining door was still intact when we arrived back from Downtown Disney - but he was understandably wound up.
We went down to the desk and inquired as to whether there was anything else that could be done, and the gal politely informed us that, basically, 'this is Disney, and we don't kick people out,' but she sensed how upset Scott was and went in search of her manager. She was able to reassign us to different rooms to get us out of the immediate douchebaggery zone, but was still waiting to hear back from her manager, so she did the best she could and assigned us to the two remaining open rooms in the joint -- which happened to be on opposite ends of the Lodge (literally about a mile apart) and with lovely parking lot views. The bellhop and security officer accompanied us up to our room to retrieve all of our stuff and our chilluns, and helped us get re-settled in the new (less great) rooms. (It's now about 11:30 pm.) Scott had been promised a return call from the manager, and a short time later his phone rang. The manager apologized for the inconvenience and said he would get us into different rooms for the next night - Scott told him it really was too much hassle to change rooms just for one more night, but that it was a significant inconvenience having three teenage girls in a room nowhere near us, not to mention the lack of inspiring vistas - and that if he could offer any sort of assistance on the back end of the cruise, we wouldn't mind (we were set to stay at one of the value resorts for three nights after returning from the cruise). He told us he'd be in touch the following day.
The next day, Wil, the manager, called Scott and asked us to come to the front desk and ask for him later in the day. We did so, and he informed us that he had arranged to transfer our reservation at the value resort back to the Kidani Village, at the original cost of the value resort, and that we should just check in there upon returning from the cruise. We were pretty happy with that outcome - but we were also just excited to get on the boat and figured we'd deal with the rest of it when we got back.
Seven days in the Caribbean sounds delightful in any case, and especially so on a Disney cruise ship,
where we were spoiled rotten for the entire week and in general taken very good care of. We had a great stateroom host, outstanding dinner servers, and basically basked in the glow of happiness that the ship's staff exuded.
Midway through, while on an excursion (excuse me, Disney calls them "port adventures") adventure at the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Scott inverted his ankle on some stone steps shortly after making fun of an ancient god's name and did a number on it. It swelled almost immediately to the size of a grapefruit, and he tried to tough it out and finally admitted that he needed to get off that leg for a while. Which gave me a great opportunity to feed my brood and then go from establishment to establishment dusting off my rudimentary Spanish to ask for "una bolsa de hielo" which was a remarkably difficult request, apparently. Finally, after a helpful shopkeeper volunteered to scrape some ice off the inside of his soda cooler and put into a bag, and after a couple of hombres gave Scott some kind of salve to put on his ankle (??Don't ask, don't tell...) we went back to the bus and decided we'd probably have to get it looked at. The ship's trusty nurse, Anna, gave sold us a couple of Ace bandages, a soft ankle brace, and some Ben-Gay (???) and off we went, back to the stateroom.
The next morning on the ship, we journeyed down to Deck 1 to the ship's medical clinic (as it were) on the advice of the Director of Port Adventures, who had been in touch after having received the report from the contracted tour company, and were less than overjoyed to find the doors closed and locked. Time was 11:02, and the clinic had presumably gotten a heads-up that we were inbound - but posted clinic hours ended at 11:00. My frustrated tug on the doors elicited a response just as we were turning to leave - but we were informed that if we wanted to come in and have it looked at, it would be an extra $100 on top of the doctor's fee, or that we could come back at 4:30. Grrrr. 4:30 it was.
When we returned at 4:30ish, we were taken back into the hallways of the clinic and a different nurse tried to take a history while getting her ass kicked by the automatic blood pressure cuff. Mind you, we were being very polite and gracious this entire time. Dr. Singh, as identified by his badge, came in a bit later and looked, poked, prodded, and appeared thoughtful. "We could do an x-ray, I think, to see if anything is broken." Scott asked "Would it change your treatment either way?" Dr. Singh admitted that it would not, and that said treatment would consist of a rigid splint and crutches. Scott very kindly and appreciatively told Dr. Singh that he had no intention of wearing a long-leg splint or walking on crutches for the remainder of the cruise, and that if he could just prescribe a few doses of something for the pain, all would be fine. Dr. Singh then replied (insert your own east Indian accent here, just because it's fun) "If you do not take the splint and crutches, I will be forced to confine you to your stateroom." Whaaaaat?? Scott acquiesced and we went into what appeared to be a resuscitation room for splinting.
We waited for Dr. Singh for a time; in retrospect, I fully believe he spent that time trying to learn how to craft a long-leg splint from Ortho-glass. While we waited, we looked around us at the supply cabinets in the room, and chuckled at the misspellings on some of the labels. TROMBOLYTICS, read one. ANTIMICROBAL MEDICATIONS, said another. (We are both of the opinion that if you can't correctly spell a medication, you have no business administering it.) And then Dr. Singh came in and proceeded with the most awkward, clueless, ridiculous Ortho-glass application I've ever witnessed (And as a nurse, I freely admit that I'm not great with Ortho-glass - but I could have splinted circles around this tool). Some 30 minutes later, he finished the splint and went for crutches, which he brought back and began height-adjusting them by moving the hand pieces up as high as possible. I stood up to help, unable to further tolerate his astounding ineptitude, and he suddenly remembered what to do and clumsily finished. He went to retrieve a small supply of Percocet, and while he did so, the inimitable Anna came through the room with a smile. Scott ribbed her a little about the spellings on the labels, and she turned and very snottily said "Well, maybe you'd like to come down here and re-label everything for us."
Curiously enough, he did not use the crutches or the splint once we left Deck 1.
The Port Adventures Director, Jennifer from Canada, was very helpful and was unhappy to hear of our experience down in the catacombs of the "medical clinic," and said that she would see what could be done about the charges for the splint and crutches he hadn't really wanted to take.
Disappointingly, the ship's staff officer, or some such, deemed that they were reasonable costs and that the bill would stand. (Whatever, dude, a $300 medical bill is nothin' on top of our 3K of onboard expenses already, but it's the principle of the thing.)
Anyhoo. At the conclusion of the cruise, we returned back to Orlando and to Disney World, and to the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village as directed. After just a little bit of paper shuffling and computering by the front desk staff, we were given new MagicBands (which is Disney's ingenious new creation that allows you to get into your room, get into the parks, and BUY STUFF with a tap of your wrist) to get into our new rooms.
Holy Palatial Savanna Views, Batman!! We had been put in first-floor, savanna view one-bedroom suites - two of 'em - that were easily three times the size of our first rooms. They were located almost next to each other, and in the section of the savanna that actually had animals roaming in it often. We were super happy with this turn of events, and our faith in the Disney way of customer service was renewed.
15 years ago today, I became a mom. Up until that point, I had no idea how much my life would change. I didn't realize the size of the blank space in my heart, nor did I anticipate the fierceness of the love that would fill it.
At 7:43 PM, when the nurse placed on my belly the tiny pink bundle we had just called Hayley Marie, she lifted her head up to the side and opened her eyes as if to greet me, to greet the world. And thus the adventure began.
I've always been insanely proud of that tiny girl, from hearing her first real word (neither "mommy" nor "daddy," but a very decisive "car") to watching her take her tottering first steps at just a shade over nine months. She's had a colorful personality from the time it started to show; for instance, the day (at a year and a half or so) that I attempted to put her in time-out for doing some thing she knew was a no-no, and her response was an emphatic "No! Ree-dickelous!" coupled with a foot-stomp. (And resulting in a mommy hard-pressed to remain stern instead of cracking up.)
Over the years she's given me an entirely different perspective on lots of things, from insisting that the backs of our knees should be called "knee-pits" and that ice cream with toppings was a "sun-bow" instead of a sundae, to the day she inquired, in perfect solemnity, how, since I didn't get my first cell phone until after she was born, how I talked on the phone in my car before that.
She continues to amaze me, as I see what a thoughtful, intelligent person and a beautiful young woman she's becoming. It strikes me at odd times how totally much she's my kid - and then she will come up with something so much funnier than I ever could and throw me for a loop.
I still couldn't be more proud of that tiny girl, even though she stands a good couple of inches taller than me now.
Hayley Marie, I love you more than you can imagine. Just like I've told you since I could hold you in one arm, "you make Mommy's heart pound." Happy Birthday - I hope you have a wonderful day.
I drink too much coffee and not enough water. I smile a lot and sleep a little. I'm a happily married mom of five great kids, two of whom pack my mitochondrial DNA and the other three of whom were part of the bonus plan that came along with their amazing father. I'm an ER nurse, a writer, an editor, a great cook, and the poster child for ADD. I'm a happy person, mostly - though my shrink says I have anger issues. I don't misspell, but I can't sing to save my soul, and I like big words, junk food, and antiques. And I hate ironing.