Archive for July, 2011

The good and the bad

Except let’s do them in reverse order. As you know, Dear Reader, AO and I are redoing our previously unused finished basement. Well, it was used, but sparingly and mostly just for AO’s morning primping. In remaking the space, we decided we wanted a — gasp — bigger tv. So, last weekend we found ourselves at Costco scoping out the televisions. Because we didn’t really know what we were looking for, and didn’t find anyone offering to help us out, we concluded our trip there sans tv, but with a plan to head to American. Off we went! At American, we were, of course, immediately approached with (an attempt at) charm. We told the young fellow, Max, that we were just looking, but that we would find him when we had questions. After looking around a bit, we asked Max for help. We told him we were looking for something between 40 and 46 inches and that was about all we knew. We didn’t know whether we wanted LED, LCD or Plasma. We were pretty sure we didn’t want 3D, but we didn’t understand why all of the tvs were purporting to be ‘smart’ and whether that was something we wanted. Eventually, after Max filled us in on all the bells and whistles, and instructed us we’d be best off with an LED television, we narrowed down our search to a couple of Samsung models. In asking Max about the difference between a few of the tvs we were focused in on, we learned — or, rather, we were told — that a particular tv had a Flickr app(lication) from which we could stream our pictures. Well, as you know Dear Reader, I heart Flickr and I just about swooned when I heard this. The television was quite a bit more than we wanted to spend (quite a bit more), but because of its size (46″), its amazing picture quality, the Flickr app, and Max’s voice breaking when he realized the television cost even less than it had earlier in the week, we were sold. Off we went with more tv than we needed and more tv than we could afford. But it had Flickr! Or so we were told.

Fast forward a week later. I realize there is no Flickr app. Or at least no application that I can find. I call American. I tell the man who answers my concern. He passes me on to Max who starts the conversation with, “Who is this?” I speak to Max. And now is where I start to get angry. Max tells me multiple stories. In one, he tells me, well, the tv has Photobucket. In another, he says Sony has Flickr. Helpful. In yet another, he says the tv may have Flickr, but not Flickr Pro (I told him we had a Pro account). When I tell him they’re the same thing, really, he says, “Oh, well, I didn’t know.” He leaves to go check the tv for himself, which of course shows he has no idea if the tv has the app or not. He returns to the phone and tells me if he had known it was important to me, he would have checked on it before I purchased the tv. I stifle the urge to tell him if I’d know he was in the habit of making things up, I would have asked for another salesman. I say, “Look, you said there were hundreds of apps, and specifically a Flickr app.” He says, “There are hundreds of apps.” I say, “That’s fine, but there is no Flickr app.” He says, “I went through all of the apps with you.” I again stop myself from what I really want to say, which is, “(a) You told us there was a Flickr app and this is why we are on the phone right now! and (b) You just said there are hundreds of apps so there is no way you went through every single one of them with us when we spent no more than 15 minutes with you.” Argh. I am getting frustrated as I am clearly not dealing with someone honest or interested in righting the situation. I tell him I am not satisfied. I tell him I feel duped. He says, “In no way, shape or form did I ‘duped’ you.” I’m upset. He asks me what would help the situation. I tell him I need him to stop telling people there is a Flickr application on the television when there isn’t and ask him to call ‘his’ Samsung representative to find out if, and when, a Flickr application will be available for the tv (something he offered to do about five minutes earlier in the call). Fine. We end the conversation. At this point, though, I am livid. I am upset with how he treated me and, more significantly, I am upset that he lied. Whether he knew he was lying or not, I don’t know. But there is no Flickr app on the $$$$ television we bought. I tell AO, who is clearly not on board with my plan, that I need to return the tv. We spent too much money to be treated this way and I’m not going to let them get away with it. To me, this is now a moral issue. To Aaron, it’s a headache and a possible embarrassment. We pack up the tv and head off to American. We walk in, take the enormous tv to customer service and return it. The customer service woman calls for Max to come over to deal with the situation, but he declines, citing another customer’s needs. I’m relieved. Money back on our card (I hope) and we are done with the place.

Off to Costco. We find a Phillips tv with the same picture quality and motion sensor stuff (in numbers anyway) as the Samsung. It’s also the same size. It also brags of being ‘smart,’ but appears more humble about it. It’s also the display model so it’s marked down quite a bit. It’s less than half of the cost of the American debacle. Sold! A nice man named Arthur helps us with the purchase. Arthur, the check-out woman and Toussaint, the man checking our receipt, all comment on what a great deal we made. I agree.

On another positive note, and one that just sparkles with great customer service, I have to give a shout out to Continental. In February, I booked a ticket to see Sarayu in LA in April. Well, wouldn’t you know, the GAOOG just had to dart off to Albuquerque that same weekend to film In Plain Sight. Drat. So, the ticket was canceled and I was told I had a year (from February) to rebook the ticket, which would mean paying a fee of some sort ($150, I think) and any difference in price in the future ticket. Well, while it’s only July, I started getting nervous that I might not be able to use the ticket in time. And I just started getting more and more annoyed about the additional $150 fee. So, I decided to go out on a limb and email Continental and ask for a refund to my card. I realize it wasn’t exactly a dangerous limb I had headed out on, but I thought it a long-shot. Lo and behold, about a week after I sent my email, I received a response stating that my full ticket price would be refunded to my credit card. About a day after I received the email, I received the credit on my credit card statement! Hallelujah! I am so pleased with Continental for making the process simple, painless and right. Thanks, Continental!

UPDATE: The $$$$ from the debacle is indeed back on our credit card and I can breathe a little easier. I have no explanation for how we thought it was at all reasonable for us to spend that much on a television in the first place. I blame myself: I got a little overwhelmed by too much information (or, as it were, not enough), wanting to get it over with and the allure of a giant slideshow. I am so relieved that chapter is now closed.

Viva la Shrimp Truck!

One of the things about Madison that Coasties/Coasters/Lots of People like to complain about is its distance from an ocean. Of course, this really isn’t Madison’s fault, but it is hard to argue the point. Of course, people surf and sail in Lake Michigan and scuba dive, row and paddle in Lakes Monona and Mendota, so watersports are well-represented in the midwest. Aaron catches lots of bluegill and perch in local waters, and has been known to land a trout from time to time. But crustaceans? Not so much. I suppose there are crayfish for those so inclined, but most people aren’t. Enter the formidable Shrimp Truck!

The Shrimp Truck enters our fair city every so often and parks itself in the parking lot of Steve’s Liquor, on the corner of Midvale and University. There’s an email list you can get on to be notified of its next appearance, but I sort of like the surprise of driving down Midvale and seeing it appear on the horizon. With the truck comes delicious, freshly-caught shrimp straight from the U.S.’s very own Gulf (Galveston, according to their signage). The truck also dispenses crab and a few other tasty treats, but for me, it’s all about the shrimp.

For Aaron, too. We bought two pounds of extra-large shrimp (the choices are jumbo, xl and medium) for a grand total of $27. And tonight? We feast! Thanks Shrimp Truck! We’ll see you next time!

Hi friends

Does anyone have anything they want to talk about? Politics? Flowers? Summer? Puppies? Children? Airplane food?

I don’t have much to report, except that (1) a robin built a nest on the light outside our back door and now we have two baby robins squeaking away! (2) our basement remodel is underway! No major work – just redecorating, but I am way excited. Stay tuned for pictures.

The Greatest Actress of Our Generation comes for a visit this weekend!

Location, location, location?

It’s not often that we decide to venture out to the almost-far west side for lunch, but we did just that on Friday. We’d heard for some time that Gammon Road’s Cilantro had much to offer in the way of Mexican fare. In fact, we’d even heard the owners had serious ties to Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill. Plus, we had a Groupon for $30 worth of treats. So, off we went. On the way, we encountered something unexpected. On our way up Old Sauk Road, and just past the Owen Conservatory, I looked to my right and spotted a few giant turkeys in the front yard of a house that was for sale. I insisted Aaron turn the car around to enter the house’s driveway so I could snap a few shots. Aaron loves turkeys so he obliged my request without resistance.

They left the scene when we arrived and I started snapping pictures, but what a sight. Those guys were huge! There were actually three of them, but I could get a shot with only two. After this excitement, we headed on our way.

We arrived shortly before 1 pm and there were several other diners in the restaurant, but it was by no means crowded. The restaurant was nice-enough looking, but not really noteworthy. There was a lunch buffet going on; it was displayed on a few tables pushed together and contained a few chafing dishes and a plate of brownies. Our server was remarkably thorough in his explanation of the menu and the specials. We ordered drinks. I had a margarita (I know – it’s lunch, but I had heard they were really good and our Groupon was for $30 and we weren’t going to reach that amount through the $9 entrees) and Aaron had a horchata, which was a rice milk with cinnamon. The margarita was really good. Aaron found the horchata really refreshing; I thought it was very sweet and quite tasty.

For lunch, I ordered the maybe-boring-to-you, quesadilla nortena with chicken. It was really divine. The chicken was seasoned so well and the quesadilla had just the right amount of cheese. The guacamole was undoubtedly some of the best I have ever had and the rich, smoky salsa on the plate was total yumsville.

Aaron ordered one of the day’s specials, which was a chile relleno. It was stuffed with cheese, along with all sorts of veggies like carrots and corn and mushrooms. He declared it tasty and not at all heavy, as it wasn’t your usual battered chile relleno.  I thought the rice in a pyramid was a fun surprise.

Although the location and the decor leave something to be desired for me, I think we will definitely return to Cilantro. The food was pretty much superb.


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