Revenge and Shipping

I don’t know what I did to Montezuma, but he got me back last night, and then some. I’ll spare you the details. Needless to say, I’m not at work again today.

We’re supposed to go to the Sounds game tonight, but I don’t think I’m going to be up to it. Even if I feel much better, I should rest. I hate to miss it, though, because a lot of people from our church are going to be there, and Pastor Dan is going to sing the national anthem, and Pastor Davis is going to throw out the first pitch. Plus, we already paid for the tickets (which are now available for free to anyone who wants them, by the way).

Our memory foam mattress topper should be arriving today, via FedEx. I dislike FedEx, and here’s a perfectly good example of why. According to their tracking website, my mattress topper has been in Nashville for three full days, yet they would not deliver it until today because I did not choose any of the faster shipping options. This has happened to me before with FedEx, but never with UPS. I’ve had items shipped to me via UPS ground and had them show up in two days. What’s the motivation for holding something like that? Presumably to encourage me to spend more on quicker shipping, but instead it makes me want to use UPS whenever possible. It would be one thing if I didn’t know how long it really takes to get it here, but since they provide a tracking service, I can easily see that my package is right down the road, yet they refuse to bring it to me for three days, in hopes of getting more money out of me in the future. Unfortunately, most retailers do not provide options as to how your item is shipped, so FedEx‘s foolish tactics actually hurt their retail customers, because I am more inclined to buy something from a retailer that will ship via UPS, knowing there’s a good chance I will get it faster, even if it’s farther away.

There – I feel better having gotten that off my chest. I’m going to go watch another James Bond film.

Home Sick

I am home sick today. Not as in sick of being away from home, or sick of being at home, but at home being sick. I got up this morning at 6 AM and took a shower, but by the time it was done I could barely stand up. I was feeling sick in my stomach and a little weak. So, I went back to bed. A couple hours later I grabbed my laptop and e-mailed my boss to tell him I would not be in today.

Shortly thereafter, things went terribly wrong at work, and I was called in to a conference call about a problem with an application which was upgraded this weekend, and was not working properly. For whatever reason, the lead developer on that application is on vacation all week (starting the day after a major upgrade – who approved that?). It didn’t take long to get it figured out, though, and I was able to relax after that.

I really haven’t done much else, except to watch an old James Bond movie. AMC is running all of the James Bond films this month, and I’ve been recording them on my computer. I don’t remember ever seeing any of the pre-Brosnan films (I’ve seen parts of them, but not a whole movie). Naturally, I started with the first movie and plan to watch them in order. It’s been really funny to see the old Sean Connery movies because I wasn’t familiar with him back then (What am I saying? I wasn’t alive back then!) and I only really know him as an older, bearded guy in movies like The Hunt for Red October and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (even those are more than 15 years old).

Owen is currently watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, also recorded on the computer, and that one is cracking me up because I know almost every line! I don’t ever remember watching this movie, but I think we had a book with an audio tape or possibly a record, and the audio from it is identical. I think it was an edited-down version, though, because there are a few scenes that I don’t recall, but some of those are mostly visual, so of course they wouldn’t be included in an audio recording.

The Digital Rebel XT has come down as low as $739 at Dell.com (with some coupons and deals they have running “for a limited time”), and it’s very tempting. If I was more certain of my job situation, I might pull the trigger on that one. We’ll see. That price is only good on the silver model, which must not be as popular because it’s $50 cheaper than the black version. I think I slightly prefer the black, but could certainly live with the silver. After all, you can’t see the color of the camera in the pictures you take with it.

The Saga of the Sleep Number Bed – Part 4

Have I become obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep?

Our bed is working fairly well. The smell of the Odornix is still there, but very faint. I only smell it every now and then – mostly when I sit down or move heavily on the bed (presumably because it causes air to be pushed out of the foam supports, where I suspect most of the remaining smell lives). I did take the bed apart again a couple of weeks ago and wipe some of those parts down with water, and then sprinkled baking soad inside the bed before putting it back together, and I think that helped.

Mary is sleeping much better on this bed. She only wakes up once or twice during the night instead of her usual pregnancy rate of five or six times. I don’t really feel like I’m sleeping a ton better, but my back is not hurting, so that is an improvement. We have pretty much settled on our sleep numbers (65 for me and about 40 for her), but we still adjust it every now and then. I’ve slept with it as high as 90 and as low as 40.

I think the main thing preventing me from sleeping better is that it’s not a pillow top. Even when you make it “less firm”, it’s still not a very soft surface. I contacted Select Comfort about purchasing the pillow-top portion of the bed. Since it comes apart, and the top of the bed zips right off, I thought it should be simple to just order that part and replace the standard top with the pillow top. The price? $540. Ouch. That negates a significant portion of the discount I received by buying it used and dealing with the whole smell issue in the first place.

However, I have seen great deals advertised on those memory foam mattress toppers, and all the reviews I have read say that they make a world of difference on almost any bed. I figured, what could be more perfect than a Sleep Number bed with a memory foam mattress topper? That way, I could make it more or less firm, and also take advantage of the memory foam support and softness.

The ads I had seen were from OverStock.com, so I went and checked it out. They had the premium 4-inch memory foam mattress topper for $169.99 (compared to around $400 at other websites). I ordered it last Friday morning.

Later that day, I noticed on GotApex.com that there was a coupon for $10 off any order over $100 at OverStock.com. So I thought “It’s only been a couple of hours, I’ll go cancel my order, and re-order with this coupon to save ten bucks.” Unfortunately, though, I found that you can’t cancel an order from OverStock.com, because, acording to their website, when you place an order “our warehouse is immediately notified to pick and pack the order for shipment”. So, I thought, “No big deal, at least it will ship immediately and I’ll have it in a few days.”

On Tuesday (4 days later), I logged in to OverStock.com to check the status of my order, and it still had not shipped! This puzzled me, since their warehouse was “immediately notified to pick and pack the order for shipment”. So, I contacted customer support (via their web-chat support system), and posed the question – “If I can’t cancel my order because it’s being shipped so quickly, why hasn’t it been shipped?”. I was told by their customer service person that I can’t cancel my order because it takes 1-3 business days to ship my order, but it takes 2-4 days to send an e-mail to the warehouse to stop a shipment…

4 days? To send an e-mail?

I was so befuddled that I didn’t even point out the obvious discrepancy between the ability to notify the warehouse “immediately” when an order is placed, but not when an order is canceled. I just told the lady (very nicely) that I would recommend they upgrade their e-mail system because I can send an e-mail to the other end of the earth and it usually arrives within minutes. Maybe they haven’t heard of a little thing called the “in-ter-net”…

At that point, I figured it wasn’t worth ten bucks to deal with this any more, so I just resolved to let it go and wait for my mattress topper to arrive. After all, I still got a great deal.

This morning, though, I happened to check GotApex.com again, and it said that OverStock.com has reduced the price on this mattress topper to $139.99 without any coupon. I checked my order status, and it still has not shipped (according to their logic, this is the third business day, even though I placed my order before 8 AM last Friday), so I decided to try another run with customer service.

I used the web-chat system again, and happened to connect with a very nice lady who actually had a sense of humor. I explained that I had ordered a product on Friday, and today that product was $30 cheaper, and asked if I could either cancel my order and re-purchase at the new price (I didn’t mention that I had been through this before) or get the discount refunded to me. It took her a few minutes to find the discounted price (apparently it’s a deal that only shows up if you go through GotApex.com), but once we straightened that out she asked me to hold on while she worked on it.

A few minutes later, she told me that $30 had been credited to my card and thanks for shopping with OverStock.com! Wow – that was easy.

I guess the moral of this story is that if you have a bad customer service experience, don’t keep fighting with the person until you are completely frustrated – just get back in line and try again. You might get someone much more helpful the next time around. I had a similar experience with Comcast last year – the first guy was totally rude and un-helpful, so I called back and talked to a woman who fixed my problem in about 2 minutes.

Anyway, I’m hoping we are well on our way to having a wonderful night’s sleep on a regular basis. Of course, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Giraffe Food

It was a zoo at church today. Literally. We had a 14-foot giraffe, a zebra, a lemur, a mccaw, a small monkey, a large snake, and another animal that I can’t remember the name of – all on stage. Pastor tried to pretend they had lost the snake, and asked everyone to look under their chairs, etc., but I don’t think too many people fell for it. The sanctuary was completely packed, to the point that they had to bring in extra chairs to put in the aisles and walkways. Afterwards, they let the kids come up on stage, a few at a time, and pet the animals. Owen got to feed the giraffe. I wish we had a camera with us. He loves giraffes. I’ll be glad when the new giraffe exhibit is finished at the zoo (should be sometime next spring).

The service is available on-line for the next few days. Our church streams our services on the internet, and then saves each one until the following service (Sunday or Wednesday).

By the way, if you are wondering what giraffes eat, they were feeding it Twizzlers.

Preseason Football

Last night, I got to go to the first preseason football game for the Titans and the Bucs. It was a decent game, but of course, being preseason, they weren’t playing to win so much as playing to evaluate some of their new players and figure out who will remain on the roster. There were some exciting moments, but it was probably the most quiet I have heard the Tennessee crowd. Of course, it was mostly the second and third string players on two teams that went 5-11 last year, so you don’t expect a ton of excitement. The game went into overtime, but the Bucs won on a field goal. I’m sure some of my Florida (and Alabama) friends will be happy about that.

I was planning to watch the game at Eric’s house, on his new 106 inch high definition screen with surround sound system, but at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Henry called and said someone had given him tickets and asked if I wanted to join him. Sorry, Eric, but real life still beats HDTV. I’ll definitely be watching some games over there this year, though.

Actually, before I said yes, I did ask where the seats were. I’ve never sat up in the upper section of the stadium, but I did climb up there once to look at the view, and I think I’d rather watch it on TV than sit up there. It’s just so far up and the angle is so steep that I don’t think I’d enjoy it much. They were down in the lower section behind the south end zone, so I thought that was worth going for. The end zone is not a great place to sit, because it’s hard to see the other end of the field and it’s very hard to tell how far up or down the field a play goes, so you’re always waiting to hear if the player got past the first down marker or wheather or not they are in field goal range. Still, it was fun to be there and to see it all in person, and there were a couple of great plays made on our end of the field that we had a good view of.

Fortunately, before I left the house to go meet Henry, Mary suggested I take a hat because there was a chance of scattered showers. I mentioned the same thing to Henry when I got to his house, and we were both glad we had them because it rained lightly for most of the first quarter, and a lot of people were trying to cover their heads or faces. It wasn’t uncomfortable ran, though. In fact, it helped cool everything down from the daytime high of 97 degrees or so.

I saw a guy there that works at Baja Burrito. Mmm… Burritos… I said something to Henry about recognizing the guy, and he said I eat there way too much. A better indication of that is the fact that if I had gone over to say hi to the guy, he almost certainly would have recognized me, too. I just can’t remember his name.

Banana Strings and Stranger Things

One of my oldest friends, Travis, has started a blog of his own, and is now feeling the pressure of his new publishing responsibility, apparently in part because of a comment that I once (allegedly) made, in which I (allegedly) stated that if he ever started a blog, he would not keep it up-to-date. I have no memory of making that comment, and have yet to see any documented proof of such (although it sounds like something I would say about him). However, he is determined to prove me wrong.

But regardless of who said what and why, the blog has been started, and I can’t wait to see what hilarity ensues. Be sure to drop by and encourage him in his new efforts.

Acquisition Update

We had a last-minute meeting called today to explain and hand out letters regarding the transition and severance plan that will be in place once our company is acquired. There’s still no information about who will be retained and who will be let go or when, but they outlined three “groups” of people and the “benefits” of each:

  1. Those who will be let go when the deal closes (with severance pay)
  2. Those who will be asked to remain for some “transition period” (which will include additional incentives as well as the severance pay at the end of the period)
  3. Those who will be offered a long term job with the new company (no particular incentives – you just get to keep your job)

There are other, combined scenarios, such as a person who is asked to stay for the transition period, and then offered a permanent position sometime during that period. The “incentives” for each group depend on things like your job position, how long you have been with the company, and how long your “transition period” may last.

I have no idea which of these groups I will be a part of. It could be any of them. I don’t really think I will remain with the company long term, but it’s not impossible. It’s pretty clear that they are going to have a long-term presence in Nashville, but I don’t know if the I.S. department will be included in that. If they offer me a job in another state, then I almost certainly won’t take it.

So, what this means is there is a good chance that at some point in the next year I’ll be unemployed, but with a big bag of money. I think I can handle that.

Refrigerator Etiquette

I just sent the following e-mail to everyone on my end of the building:

Someone has stuffed a small animal in the mini-fridge near the copy room and left it to die. At least, that’s what it smells like. It has gotten so bad that any time anyone opens the door for a few seconds, I can smell it in my cubicle.

I’m going to take it upon myself to clean out this fridge on Friday afternoon. Anything left in the small fridge outside the copy room on Friday afternoon will be thrown away. Please remove anything you would like to save (if it’s not too late) by then.

In the future, please do not use this fridge as a dumping ground for unwanted food or pets. Thanks.

Responses have ranged from cheers to laughs to suspicious silence from certain people. Hmmm…

Watch This

Owen is in the “watch this” phase that I’m sure every kid goes through, where he’s constantly asking you to look at him while he does whatever little action he can think of doing once he finally gets your attention – bang his head on the couch, turn around in a circle, fall on the floor, etc. And as soon as he’s done with that trick, it’s “watch this, watch this” all over again. That’s when I just spank him and put him to bed. Ok, not really. I just spank him.

Yesterday, we went to Josh & Melissa Weber’s house for dinner, and they have a neighborhood pool right across the street. We all went swimming (and had the pool to ourselves for the most part) and Owen did pretty well. He’s still timid in the water and wants to hold on to one of us the whole time. I stopped on the way there and bought a little blow-up boat for him and he really seemed to enjoy that, in a nervous, scared kind of way. I almost bought him some water wings (those little floats you put on their arms) but I think that would have really freaked him out if I tried that. Maybe I should just do it anyway to get him over his fear – it seems cruel, but how else will he learn? We need to figure out a way to get him in the water more often, at least.

This afternoon we had some people over from our Sunday School class, and tonight we are going to the Fadelys’ house to watch Napoleon Dinamite. They’ve not seen it yet and Mary and I have been wanting to watch it again. It’s one of those movies that is not nearly as funny when you are actually watching it as it is when you think about it later. I’m sure it gets even better the second time around.

The Saga of the Sleep Number Bed – Part 3

The smell of Odornix endures. Mary doesn’t notice it, but I can smell it as soon as I walk into our room, and especially if I sit down on the bed. I think the problem is mainly with the large foam pieces that support the edges of the mattress – the actual fabric parts seem to be fine.

We are beyond the point of having the option to return it to the person we bought it from, so I’ve got to deal with this one way or another. My plan is to take one of those foam supports out and give it a scrub with a wet cloth, and possibly even try soaking part of it in water to see if that gets the smell out. I don’t want to try anything other than plain water and maybe a little soap, for fear that I will only add new smells. If that works, then I’ll take the whole bed apart and treat everything that way. It will probably take up most of my weekend (sigh). I guess that’s the price of a deal that seemed too good to be true.

We are probably going to keep our old king-size bed and use it in the guest room. I feel a little bad offering it to guests since we’ve talked about it being uncomfortable, but I don’t think it will be too bad for just a few nights – it’s more the long-term effects that are a problem. Besides, I think most couples would prefer a semi-comfortable king-sized bed to a more comfortable double bed. I know I would.