Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My LG Lemon Washing Machine Strikes Again

My daily struggles with my front-load washing machine are starting to feel like a part-time job given the amount of time I devote to this machine each day. Yes, this is the same lovely LG front loader from previous blog posts. It's still affixed in my laundry room, providing plenty of fodder for this blog. I am in no way trying to be so negative about this machine, and I'd happily write something positive about it if there was a positive angle to this story. Sadly there is not.

Back in October the Sears repair doctor replaced it's disgusting drum and potentially failing internal control panel as well as the little line gauge that indicates the wrong amount of detergent to add to the machine. This machine has now developed a new little quirk—draining by hand.

The Delicate cycle is being overly sensitive for my liking.

The past 3 times I've run the Delicate cycle the machine flashes me a warning signal that something is amiss. I must stop the machine, open a little door at the foot of the washer, pull out a thin rubber hose, drain the water out of the bottom of the machine into a little pan, clean out the lint filter, put it all back together, and restart the Delicate cycle. It's probably not a big deal but is kind of annoying given the track record of this front-load washing machine. Yet another chore to add to my growing front loader care list.

I see this as another unseen maintenance that I, the customer, must take care of to keep this machine up and running properly. This is in addition to completely wiping out the new rubber drum to get rid of any water and lessen the chances of mold. Well, the mold is winning. Despite my constant wiping and cleaning out of the rubber drum, the black mold is back. It only took 6 weeks! And yes, I have been using my new tub cleaning pellet on top of it all to eliminate build-up as well as adding a fraction of the "recommended" detergent. Still the mold . . . but that is another story in itself.

Sears has closed my case citing that there is nothing more they can do. Maybe they will reopen my case given my new drainage problem. In the meantime, I believe that I have a very high maintenance lemon on my hands.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Revenge of the Blue Icee

When going to the movies with the kids, you must buy all of the extras that accompany the cinematic experience—popcorn, Milk Duds, SweetTarts. And of course, a blue Icee. Since all of these movie treats end up costing a small fortune anyway, one of the adults in your group decides to just go ahead and get the boys the Super Extreme Large Icee as opposed to the Puny Tiny Small Icee. It's only $1 more and you get a "free refill".

My 13-year old son polishes off his Icee before The Muppets even begins and continues that annoying slurping sound with his straw as he tries to suck down every last drop. My 8-year old's Icee lasts about halfway through The Muppets before he starts asking repeatedly for his "free refill".  Now my youngest son Jack is spoiled rotten, and although he is pushing 9 he can still throw a mean temper tantrum when he wants. One was brewing. Hmmm what does a mother do at this point? She's in a dark theater reliving her childhood through The Muppets. She doesn't want to cause a scene, yet she knows very well what that second blue Icee will do to an 8-year old stomach already full of blue Icee. She opts for a life lesson for young Jack. "Go ahead and get your 'free refill,' but take your brother with you."

Jack slurps down nearly all of his second Super Extreme Large Icee just as the movie ends. As we are walking out, Jack's tummy doesn't feel so good. Pit stop at the Mens Room. Afterward he's still not feeling good and turns into a surly Jack with a tummy full of blue Icee and nothing else.

Those of us who haven't had a Large Blue Icee with that killer "free refill" are starving. Despite protests from the boys, who are more than full, we head over to Culvers for an unhealthy (but SO delicious) dinner. By this point, dinner inside the restaurant wasn't an option for Jack. He just wanted to go home! By the time we get into the drive-thru line, Jack desperately needs a toilet again and is running out of the car to the Culvers bathroom with me in tow.

For some reason this Mens Room only had one toilet, which was unfortunately occupied. I offered the Ladies Room. Unthinkable for Jack. He will wait. Five minutes pass. "Jack, that Ladies Room is still open." He wisely takes this option and dashes in without anyone seeing him sneaking into the Ladies Room. Let's just say it was ugly and blue.

Later that evening Jack tells me that next time he will have the "Junior" size Icee and never have a free refill. A valuable lesson learned the hard way for young Jack.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Target" Black Friday

Target is opening it's doors for the droves of expected Black Friday shoppers at midnight on Thursday. This move has sparked a petition drive against Target with over 180,000 people signing an on-line petition against the retailer. A similar petition is gaining momentum against another Minnesota retailer also opening at midnight for Black Friday shoppers—Best Buy.

Have you noticed that every year Black Friday starts a little bit earlier? I think it was 2 am last year. Now it's midnight for 2011. Give it a couple of years and the stores will open at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Or even better, open all day for all of those hard core shoppers out there. Do you really need to spend Thanksgiving Day with family and friends? All of that warm, fuzzy family time is over-rated anyway. Wouldn't you, the thrifty consumer, rather be out trolling the mall or the aisles of Target searching for a bargain deal on "Let's Rock Elmo" or "Figit Friends" for your niece instead of spending time with her on Thanksgiving?

I blame Wal-Mart and the Mall of America. They are opening their doors at 10 pm on Thanksgiving night. But even worse, Toys R Us leads the pack with their opening slated for 9 pm. Target must follow suit. But is this all really necessary? Of course not.

The Target petition was started by a Target part-time employee in Nebraska who actually isn't working at Target on Thanksgiving Day. He's off, but he didn't think it was fair treatment for his Target friends who will have their Thanksgiving cut short. They must report to work at 11 pm. It's unfortunate, but it looks like that Black Friday wave of consumerism is powerfully pushing ahead. 

I'm proud to say that I'm a Black Friday sleeper. I sleep in after cooking and eating all day on Thanksgiving. If this issue really truly matters to you, do like I'm doing. Sleep in. Don't shop. Save your credit card for Cyber Monday. The deals will still be out there, you'll get to enjoy time with your family on Thanksgiving, and best of all sleep in on Friday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going Postal

The vicious terrier
So imagine this for a moment. You work from home and are sitting at your computer when all of a sudden you hear someone completely laying on their horn. It takes you a second to realize that this obnoxious honking is coming from your own driveway. You're annoyed, glance out the window, and see a US Postal Service (USPS) truck in the drive with a rather obese, crabby old woman inside the truck with her elbow on that horn. 

Welcome to my reality! I find this behavior particularly rude and obnoxious so I ran outdoors to her truck I asked her why she does the horn thing. Her response was that it's standard operating procedure for houses that have dogs. She "toots" the horn to scare away any dogs in the vicinity. She said that she's a "trainer" and this is what postal employees do to avoid dog bites. She also said she does this when she sees that people might be at home. 

Personally I believe that she's just too fat and lazy to drag herself out of her truck and up the walk to deliver packages and this is all a farce. I did a bit of research. Nowhere can I find any USPS protocol stating that USPS drivers should lay on their horns to scare away any dogs. The last time she pulled her horn trick my dog was inside and looking out of the glass door. I could see him from her truck as I collected my package.

Inefficient federal agency truck
Will repeatedly honking your horn really scare away a dog? I doubt it. If anything it makes them curious to come and see who is in the driveway. 

FedEx, UPS, and the dry cleaner have no problem delivering packages to my house even when the dog is out. The dry cleaner hands out dog treats to distract the dogs. For some reason other USPS workers have no problem confronting my terrier when delivering packages. One Saturday a very nice elderly postal employee carried two packages up the front steps, rang the bell, and patted my dog on the head. He clearly missed that "training" session about laying on your horn in driveway of houses with dogs.

So what to do about this problem? I asked neighbors with dogs if they've received the same treatment from this woman. Yes they all have. They have complained about her and so have I but she remains, laying on her horn with contempt. I think she inadvertently gave away her scheme when she told me she honks her horn when she sees people might be at home. A truly lazy postal service bureaucrat who cannot be fired because she's been there forever. 

Why do we still have 6-days of postal service when this federal agency is recording losses in the billions? Billions! My question is how do you even lose billions of dollars? Personally I can live without the daily onslaught of junk mail, catalogs for stuff I don't need, and the nearly daily credit card offers from Chase Bank. Maybe the Postal Service should deliver mail only 3 or 4 times a week and cut out Saturday service completely. This would also save me from numerous encounters with my snarky mail lady who epitomizes this inefficient bureaucracy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Only 44 Days and Counting

My 13-year old son excitedly showed me a link he found on-line for a countdown to Christmas. Only 44 days until Christmas! (As he rattles off his short but pricey Christmas wish list.) "Are you ready Mom?" No, this Mom is not nearly ready for Christmas as I still have the rotting Halloween pumpkins displayed on the front porch steps. I'd best get rid of those before pulling out the Christmas decorations.

The snow flurries in the air this morning remind me that the unavoidable is here—the Holidays! Wasn't it just the 4th of July? How could Christmas be only 44 days off? I think I'm in denial about the whole holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as anyone else but as a mother during the holiday season the busyness and stress levels rise. Although my husband and kids do help out, I think we all know that the bulk of the holiday preparation, cooking, and clean-up falls on one person. Mom.

This year I'm going to try to be prepared and ahead of the Christmas rush instead of lagging far behind. I already have the family Christmas card picture picked out, the silver will be polished by the end of the day, and I have a Christmas plan and budget. The plan is easy: Christmas at home this year. The budget always gets a bit tricky.

Have I started my Christmas shopping? No. Unlike my brother and his wife, who are the best and most dedicated Black Friday shoppers I know and who will have all of their Christmas shopping done by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, I tend to put it off. Maybe it comes from my childhood shopping trips on Christmas Eve. I remember doing a whole lot of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and even closing up the mall before church on Christmas Eve. 

As for this Mom, I'm not remotely ready for Christmas. Ask me in a month and I'll probably give you the same answer. However I do have my Christmas amaryllis plants started. I know what I'm making for Christmas dinner and which cookies and pies I'm baking. Hopefully that counts for something. I'll probably still be the Mom up late with a glass of red wine, frantically wrapping Christmas presents on December 23rd. But that's okay as it's part of the tradition. Keep counting down those days and prepare your roast beast!