Thursday, December 29, 2005

Random thoughts: Today was the day we originally planned to move. I can't imagine! At the moment I'm worried we won't make our revised move date, either.... I watched part of Planes, Trains, & Automobiles on TV tonight. I love that movie. I remember seeing it in York, England, and being surprised that the British audience sometimes laughed at different parts than we Americans did (sorry, I'm really too southern to call myself a "Yank"). Until I did an impulsive search on iTunes, I had no idea there were so many songs, other than Elvis Costello's, with Alison in the title. Many or most of them seem to have negative elements or even explicit lyrics, but there are a couple I can go for..."Alison's the Bomb" has a nice ring to it, for instance. ;-) Orange doesn't go well next to purple. Better at least make it the official University of Texas burnt orange (web color #CC5500) to be true to my alma mater. UT is playing USC for the national championship in the Rose Bowl next week. Hook 'Em Horns! Speaking of alma maters, I once sang that I'd be true to Arlington High all of my days and owe my fortune to it, but to my relief, the AHS staff hasn't been knocking down my door looking for a piece of my relatively mediocre fortune so far. Wow, it's hard to have thoughts stay random...those last two sure were linked. My dad used to challenge me to quickly say five or six words in a row without any logical connections between them, and it drove me nuts I couldn't manage to do it! Of course, part of that is because our brains can find connections between nearly anything. So let me go back to the topic of songs. This time of year, I often find myself listening to "A Long December" by Counting Crows. It usually seems applicable, and yes, I hope this (next) year will be better than the last! Also, if you haven't heard Sufjan Stevens' song "Casimir Pulaski Day," you can download a legal MP3 of it FREE. I think I must have been one of the last people to hear about Sufjan Stevens, but the first time I actually listened to the words of this song, it blew me away (also made me cry!). Don't miss it. What's that? Make the colors stop? OK, sorry. In case you couldn't tell, I'm in a strange mood!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

News of the day:
  • Our rabbit Pablo is 9 years old today. Happy Birthday, Pablo! (Or should that be Hoppy Birthday?! Groan!)

  • We had a very nice Christmas. My favorite gifts were an iPod dock/charger, and a Texas-themed charm bracelet to remember Texas by (as if I'd forget). My favorite moments were sharing good food, singing, laughs, & conversation with my family, including my parents and grandparents.

  • Although my YA story didn't place in the recent short story competition, I got notice that it's being considered for publication in the anthology of winning stories, so that's cool!

  • I wish you all a joyful remainder of 2005 and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

5 days until Christmas! Better yet, 2 days until my husband comes back to Texas for 2 weeks! Of course, they'll probably be the most grueling 2 weeks we've had in years, trying to get our stuff ready to move, but at least there's Christmas to kick it all off with, which I'm really looking forward to.

The past week has been crazy, with 3 kid birthday parties, 3 class Christmas parties, and 1 preschool Christmas program. Since then, my kids spent a couple of fun nights with friends outside of Austin, and have spent a day at winter break gymnastics camp. They are having a blast, at least. And I'm basically done with my Christmas shopping and got nearly all the presents wrapped this week, except for a couple that are going in bags (too kid-tempting to put under the tree now!), so I can face the holidays in a fairly relaxed manner. I'll just try not to think about the fact that Christmas may be the last time I see my parents for a year... :-/

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's bad enough for my husband to be 1,200 miles away, but it's worse when I'm sick. I have a bad cold & a raging headache, & I've almost completely lost my voice...not the easiest way to take care of 2 very active kids. I can't even call my husband to commiserate because I can't talk well enough! Oh well, at least it's Saturday, with nowhere we have to be. We did go to Walgreen's earlier, but that's about all I've been up for.

In January I made two resolutions: to get rid of 1,000 things, and to finish my novel Purple Panic. I'm afraid I made very little headway on the novel. It's been a crazy year. At least I made some progress on it, but let's hope for better in 2006. As for the other resolution, between charity, trash, and passing things on to friends, I'm sure I've now gotten rid of well over 1,000 things. Too bad it has barely made a dent! I hope to double that number before I move. Which I now think will be in late least I hope it won't be later than that!

Quote of the day from my younger son: "I'm a pretty cool 4-year-old, aren't I?"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Customer Service Cheers & Jeers: My husband works in user experience design, which means he helps make web sites intuitive and user-friendly, and he's always had a customer service focus, even when he was working at the library reference desk. So I'm especially attuned to good or bad customer service when I see it, and to good or bad consumer web sites. Giving someone a good feeling about your company can be worth a lot more than advertising, and I see no excuse for poor customer service. Two companies have made impressions on me this past positive and one not!:

Cheers to Paragon Gifts! When we didn't receive our order from them, a week past the time their online order status checker told us we should have received it, we e-mailed them about the problem, and they immediately sent a replacement order for no extra charge! Wow! Guess I'll be ordering from them again! (Edited later to add: Got it!)

Jeers to! After I placed my order, they offered me other products I could add to my order with no additional shipping. I selected one to get a better look at it, and to see if I could get it personalized with my name instead of my husband's, which was shown on the sample. Based on all my experience with that site as well as other sites like it, I assumed that if I clicked on it, I could edit the personalization, and if not I could at least decline to purchase it. But as soon as I clicked it, it said that it had already been added to my current order & already been charged to my account, & they allow NO changes to any orders that have been placed! I find that outrageous! My husband wouldn't want the product shown, so I decided to ask them to change the personalization anyway. They had an online customer service form, which I filled out at length & sent. I then got an automated e-mail reply from them, saying they only offer customer service by telephone!! Yet they had an online customer service form, and it's an online-only business! I decided to suck it up & call despite my phone phobia, only to find out they don't offer customer service at all on weekends. Funny, they somehow managed to send me an advertising e-mail on a weekend. This is not a company I want to do business with again.

Uh...sorry to be so commercial in this one. In other news I am going crazy trying to get ready for a move and Christmas at the same time. The move may get pushed back.