Friday, June 28, 2013

"F" as in not FUNNY!!!

It's time once again for Ms. Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday and this week we are studying the letter "F" as in not FUNNY!

What's wrong with some people?  I know we live in the age of social media where often people get themselves in trouble for Twittering or posting something hastily without thinking first.  However, what happened in Atlanta last week took advanced planning.  Did you hear about the Sports Radio hosts who thought it was FUNNY to do a skit mocking a 36 year old former NFL player battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)?

Their skit brought back painful memories of my friends battling ALS.  Yes, over the years I've lost three friends to ALS and got to witness first hand their gradual decline until their bodies could no longer sustain life.  Believe me, there was nothing FUNNY about it.  They gradually lost the ability to walk, speak, and swallow.  I believe what ultimately took their lives was heart failure due to starvation.

I took this description from the ALS Association website:

What is ALS?

En español
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Hardly FUNNY, but you can click here to listen for yourself.  It's totally tasteless, so I'll give you a quick synopsis in case you don't want to hear it.  They pretend to be interviewing former New Orlean's Safety Steve Gleason and use a robotic voice to imitate the computerized voice he must use to communicate now.  They have "Steve" saying he might be gone by next Thursday and doing knock knock jokes and asking to be smothered.  There was more, but that will give you a general idea of their sick humor.

When I listened to the skit I shed a few tears.  I cried for my friends that are gone, for Steve Gleason, and for everyone battling this cruel disease for which there is no real treatment or cure.

I'm glad to say that these broadcasters have been fired.  In my opinion they should never have access to live air waves again.  How could anyone think that poking fun of a young dying man is FUNNY?

I just don't get it.

Please head over to Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent" for a list of this week's Alphabe-Thursday participants.

 Thanks for listening to my rant.  Can you tell I'm mad?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"E" as in ELATED!

Hard to believe that we're already up to the letter "E" as in ELATED for Alphabe-Thursday.

I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for class this week.  Real life has kept me busy the past two days, but out of all the stress came good news and I'm ELATED.  I hope you don't mind if I share my good news with you.

I looked up the definition for ELATED.  ELATED is an adjective meaning jubilant or overjoyed.  OK, that sorta sounds correct, but then I saw it used in a sentence and that pretty well summed up how I felt.

Examples of ELATED

  1. She was elated at the news.

Some of you already know that my son had his second stem cell transplant on December 21, 2012 in his fight against Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The first time he received his own stem cells back, but unfortunately he relapsed for the second time.   This time Reid received his oldest brother's stem cells.  (Note to Keith:  THANK YOU once again!)

He is now at the six month post transplant mark and spent the last two days having all the scans and tests.  The good news is that no Hodgkin's was detected.  We are elated for now, but I'm afraid I will worry for the foreseeable future whenever it's time for scans (every few months).

He now has an underactive thyroid (probably from the radiation he's had in the past) and is on medication, but that will probably give him more energy.  He also might have a sinus infection, so he has an antibiotic too.  He has one type of white blood cell that's elevated which could indicate Graft vs Host disease in a mild form (or a few other things), but won't be treated for now.  It could just mean that Keith's stem cells are attacking any remaining Hodgkin's cells in Reid's body.  That sounds good to us, so we'll go with that one!

Overall, the doctor seemed quite pleased with his progress.  So, bare with my while I'm ELATED at the news.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog to see the list of other Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It's that time again!  It's time for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."

This week we are studying the letter "D" as in DISAPPOINTED in the DOWNSIZE.

I sometimes bake special cakes or cupcakes following recipes from the Cake Doctor.  Have you see her cookbooks?  She has a bunch of them, but these are the two I have on my bookshelf.
One of my favorite recipes is for cupcakes using Oreo Cookies.  I hadn't made them in a while so I sent my son to the grocery store with a list of ingredients.  He called from the store and said he couldn't find the white cake mix I needed in either the Betty Crocker, Pillsbury or Duncan Hines brands.  What?  I've always been able to find it.  I thought that was kind of strange.  Then he said, "I'm looking for the 18.25 oz. box, but they all say either 15.2 oz. or 16.5 oz."  I ran to the computer and googled cake mixes.  Sure enough they have all reduced the size of their mixes over the past year.

I guess they all got together and decided to do it.  There's not a word on the boxes about the change.  Online I found people posting on message boards about how their favorite recipes using cake mixes no longer worked.  So, if you have a favorite recipe...BEWARE!

I went to the Cake Doctor's website and she had a few suggestions for dealing with the changes.  One was to add 6 T of flour to the cake mix.  That's what I did, but I thought my favorite cupcakes were a little dry.  You can read all her suggestions here.  Just scroll down on the page.

However, on my last trip to HEB (a Texas grocery chain) they had their own brand of cake mix still available in the 18.25 oz. size.  I quickly grabbed two boxes because I would imagine at some point they'll be downsized too.  The Cake Doctor now has her own cake mix and they are still the 18.25 size, but only available at Central Market in Texas and I don't have one nearby.  They're sold on her website too, but right now they're only available in yellow cake or chocolate cake.

I know downsizing products isn't unusual nowadays, but usually it doesn't impact a favorite recipe this way.  Cake recipes are different.  Then they don't even make a notation on the box, so unless you look carefully you'd never know until your recipe failed.

They claim it was so they wouldn't have to raise the price.  Most people aren't buying cake mix weekly and probably wouldn't even notice a slight increase in price.

I'm DISAPPOINTED in the DOWNSIZE.  How about you?  Did you even realize?

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"C" as in CUSTOMER SERVICE...a thing of the past?

Welcome once again to this week's Alphabe-Thursday post.  This week we are studying the letter "C" as in CUSTOMER Service.

I refuse to honor a company with my business if I'm not treated fairly.

I shopped at Kroger for over 20 years.  I was loyal customer and shopped there probably 99% of the time up until about a year ago.  They lost my business in the blink of an eye due to poor CUSTOMER service.

I always ask for paper grocery bags because I have trouble with my elbows.  I didn't know why they were bothering me until one day when I was carrying a couple of gallons of milk to my car in plastic grocery bags.  The weight of the milk was pulling on my arms and my elbows were hurting.   That's when I realized what was wrong.  If I had the milk in a paper bag I could balance the bag on my hip.  In fact, I could carry two gallons of milk in one paper bag that way.  So, I started asking for paper bags.

A few times I did all my shopping only to discover at the register that they were out of paper bags.  It was happening a little too often and I felt like they should put a sign on the door warning customers when they were out of them.  This was the second time in a row it had happened to me.  I was told they had been out of paper bags for a few weeks.  If I had known I would have gone to another store that day.  Instead I ended up with a shopping cart full of groceries and had no choice but to have them put in plastic bags.  Yes, one of the sackers could help me to the car, but I'd still have to carry them all in the house when I got home.  My poor elbows.

So, I went onto Kroger's website and wrote and told them about what had happened.  I said it nicely.  I wasn't rude.  I believe in treating people the way I want to be treated.  I received an E-mail back and was told someone from the store would contact me.  I waited for probably a month, but never heard a thing.  So, I wrote again.  The CUSTOMER service person wrote back:

to me
Dear Betty:

Thank you for contacting The Kroger Co.   According to our records you were in touch with Tom at the store and the issue was resolved on August 1, 2012.  We apologize that you feel we are lacking in customer service and hope that you will reconsider.  Your issue was not ignored.

If you have further comments or concerns please write or call us at 1.800.576.4377 Monday through Friday EST.   Thank you for your patronage and have a nice day.


Amy Tumbleson
Consumer Affairs

Reference:  12530291

I couldn't believe it.  At no time did I speak with anyone at the store named Tom, Dick, or Harry.  In fact, I hadn't been back to the store since July.  I was waiting to hear from someone at the store and took my business somewhere else in the meantime.  When I didn't hear from them I wrote to CUSTOMER service a second time to make them aware of the situation.

Did she think I'd write just for the heck of it?  I told her I hadn't heard a thing.  If someone from the store had contacted me I wouldn't have E-mailed her again.  This is what I wrote back (and now I was mad):

You think I was in touch with a person named Tom at the store???  I'd love to see your records because you've been misled.  At no time did I ever speak with any one named Tom and at no time did anyone ever address my complaint.  To date I've received no explanation.  I haven't even been back to the store and as I've said previously I was a long time Kroger customer.  If that's what you were told you were misinformed by your employee.   If I was mad before now I'm furious.  I would be more than happy to meet you at the store and together we can see what Tom has to say.  Either he has me confused with another customer or he's being less than truthful.  I would not have written to you again if someone had at least shown some concern and contacted me.  That's just common courtesy.  Betty

Of course, I never heard another word.  I now shop at HEB which is a Texas grocery store.  They moved into the Houston market about 15 years ago.  People kept telling me I should try them, but I was loyal to Kroger.

I actually prefer the selection at Kroger, but I've learned to adapt to HEB.  My son and I were just talking recently about how friendly the employees are at HEB, how there are always plenty of lines open, and how they don't act like they're doing you a big favor when you ask for paper bags.  At Kroger I sometimes felt like I was inconveniencing them.

I now shop at HEB because I want my money to go where my business is valued and respected.

I googled good customer service and pulled up a Canadian site.  This site says that good customer service is the lifeblood of a company.  I just think too many companies nowadays ignore this basic principle.  Have you tried calling a company lately?  If you did you probably got a recorded message telling you that your call is important to them.  Really?  How come a human isn't answering the phone if the call is so important?  You can spend ten minutes going through a menu where you have to push one for one thing, two for this, three for that, etc.  Just put a human being on!  That's good CUSTOMER service.

Thank you for letting me vent.

To see a list of other Alphabe-Thursday participants visit Ms. Jenny's blog at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."