Sunday, January 31, 2010

Naked Sushi

This would be an interesting place to enjoy sushi (aside from the obvious adjustment needed). Notice the one guy on the corner was way quiet. Guess he was too focused on the model and the food to contribute to the inane conversation.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Verizon On Blast

I'm about to pull a CocoaRican and put Verizon on blast. The lack of customer service I received yesterday at one of their locations was deplorable. I walked in the store on Monday afternoon during my work break with the full intention of purchasing a USB Broadband modem and start a service plan. I did my research on modems online after being pissed with Comcast for the 500th time. They should be on blast too but I've blasted them in the past so it's Verizon's turn to be in the heat today.

Back to the Verizon store, after perusing a few items and being surprised nobody asked if I needed help, I went up to one of the counters where three associates were standing around. None of them even looked my way. I stood there and listened as two of them were planning where to go for lunch while the third was looking for some kind of cord for a desktop. Eventually he found his cord and he along with the other two associates disappeared in the back area, leaving me standing.

No 'I'll be with you in a moment' or 'Can I help you?', you know, the two basic questions that seem like common sense. I was pissed and just decided to leave the store. I guess it's not my style to make a scene. A small part of me wanted to but didn't.

I wound up ordering the modem online instead, which is probably where I should've ordered it in the first place.

But I am hoping not to let those folks get away with what they've done. I wrote a two page letter (and sealed it with a kiss) to Thomas 'T.J.' Fox, the President of the Illinois/Wisconsin Region. I researched the corporation on and after getting all the titles of the folks in their corporate office. Of course I saw the overall CEO Ivan Seidenberg but he's way too on the top of the food chain so I knew I had to find regional folks. Hoovers revealed the job titles of all their top execs without their names (I think you have to pay to get it). But I did a search on his title and found his name. A quick verification on website verified him and this site also verified him along with other top brass as well.

So my plan is to send the letter detailing what happened that afternoon and basically I'll be interested in seeing what he says or does. I also plan to do a delivery confirmation to make sure it's received.

It may take five months for me to hear anything back but at least he's in a position to take action. And I know these stores have incentives to be among the top stores so they can get their little rewards. So this would be something that may lower their ranking.

Besides I still have my cell phone service with AT&T. I was thinking about switching to Verizon but I may have to hold off on that.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tired Out

As I mentioned in my last entry I was involved in a car accident on Thanksgiving day. The car accident was only the latest in a series of tire mishaps I experienced in 2009. I've had more issues with tires last year than any other time in my driving career. I'm hoping I get a break from those in 2010. 2010 is still young...*LOL*.

What happened Thanksgiving was that I was making my usual trek to Detroit. Things were going normal. I alternated being listening to music and chatting on the phone with Eugene. I was on the phone with Eugene as I crossed the Indiana/Michigan border. We were talking about various mundane happenings in our lives when suddenly I heard what sounded my rear passenger tire blowing out.

I remembered panicking to Eugene that I "think my tire blew out". At the time I was going at least 70mph (probably 75-80) on the far left lane in Benton Harbor, MI. I quickly assessed that there wasn't any immediate cars around me so I tried to slow down to make my way over to the right lane. That was probably a bad idea since the tire that blew out was the rear passenger. I felt the car start to spin out but I briefly gained control back. Next second the car spun out again, this time beyond my control. I screamed as I spun around on the expressway, under an overpass, and eventually spinning into a ditch near the entryway.

Thankful that the car didn't flip over, I reached for my phone to redial Eugene to tell him I was okay. Several cars stopped along the side of the road to check up on me. I told Eugene that I was fine and would call him back while the passerby's (including a nurse and an off-duty EMS worker) checked for my well being.

At the time I was quite shaken but was able to get out of the car. Another witness mentioned that I was driving on the rim of that tire for a few miles. I was stunned since I checked my tires before taking the road trip and everything at the time was okay (aside from putting a little air on the front passenger tire).

Moments later a local Benton Harbor police officer came by. The folks that stopped gave their versions of what they saw before they all took off for their holiday destinations. Thankfully there were no other cars involved in the accident. I gave the officer my insurance and license information. He went back to his squad car to fill out a report while I went back to the car to empty some of the contents into a duffel bag I happen to bring along for the trip. I meanwhile called my Mom and Dad to fill them in on the situation and to ensure them that I was fine and needed to work on what to do next. I called Tasha and Trina and gave them the same update.

Within another few minutes, I saw a tow truck make its way down the service drive. A lucky thing about the accident (if you can call it luck) is that I ended up in the ditch by the entryway to the expressway. That no doubt made it easier for the local departments to get to me.

The police officer gave me back my items along with a police report number for insurance purposes. Once the tow truck guy began his work to tow my car up, the officer left. I meanwhile was keeping Eugene appraised of my situation via text messaging.

I was debating between going to emergency to check myself out (my wrist started aching). Only thing was that my car was currently out of commission so I was at the mercy of the tow truck. What was worse was that it was Thanksgiving day and since Benton Harbor is a small town a lot of auto shop places were closed.

So TowguyD wanting to get me going on to Detroit worked on changing my bad tire with the spare one. I myself wasn't comfortable though driving with a doughnut tire all the way to Detroit, which from my vantage point was almost another three hours. TowguyD towed my car over to his shop and proceeded to change the damaged tire with the spare.

I lost my front fender in the accident when I spun into the ditch. I didn't hit any signs, poles, or anything else but the tires and wheels were filled with dirt and grass debris. There were also some scratches along the body of the car. He replaced my damaged tire and assessed that the other tires were okay.

After paying $225 for the towing, I decided I wanted to get myself checked out. Luckily I had my Garmin so I drove myself to a local hospital. Upon arriving to the hospital I discovered that both of my front tires were low on air.

It was raining cats and dogs as I ran into emergency. I filled out the paperwork as I explained to the front attendant the nature of my visit. The attendant told me to go in the waiting area. Figuring I'd be a while I called my parents to give them a quick update. But within minutes I was ushered by a nurse's assistant.

She took my blood pressure and it was 159/108. Scary but surprisingly the nurse made no real comment about it. Maybe it's common in car accidents to have the pressure rise dramatically. I explained to the doctor the pain I was feeling in the wrist and I started feeling other random body aches as well. He did a general check and aside from the aches, everything was fine. He gave me a prescription for extra strength Tylenol (or some derivative of it). I decided that if I felt pain by the next day I would get it filled.

An hour and a half later I decided to make my way to a gas station to fill my tires. I found one within a few miles and did so. I had gotten some hotel information from Eugene earlier. There was no way in hell I was going to drive to Detroit with my car in the condition it was. And it was a good thing I decided to go to emergency instead, otherwise I could've had another accident.

Since there were literally no restaurants open in Benton Harbor (not even McDonald's or Burger King), my bigger concern was what I would do as far as food. I only had a couple breakfast bars earlier while driving along and I was getting hungry. On the one hand it was nice that the corporate greed Eugene preached against before wasn't alive and well for most businesses in Benton Harbor but on the other when emergencies such as mine happen on a holiday and you're in the middle of nowhere, you're kinda stuck.

As I made my way to the hotel, I saw a local Walgreen's that happened to be open. I drove there (discovered that my front tires were still losing air) and bought some snacks that would have to do for my dinner. It wasn't ideal but at least I wouldn't starve.

I went to find another gas station but unfortunately the one I hit had a broken air machine. I decided I'd have to make my way to the hotel and hope I wouldn't get into another accident. I wound up having to hop on the expressway again to get to the hotel. Those were the scariest 3 miles on the expressway as I had my flashers on only able to go about 30 mph.

By the grace of God I made it to my hotel in one piece. God was truly watching out for me that day. I just came away from an accident relatively unhurt aside from a few aches. Had it happened on another stretch of the trip things could've turned out differently. My car on the other hand was looking straight up like an abandoned vehicle with its exposed front and flat front tires. All I needed was the cement blocks on all my four wheels and broken glass to complete the look.

I entered the holiday lobby and was served by the nicest young lady. She honestly looked like a modern day Jan Brady. But I told her I needed a room and after hearing the circumstances of what happened, she mentioned that the hotel was serving Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings to everyone at the hotel and told me to go get a plate.

There were two other young ladies (both black) sitting in the lobby. I later found out that they cooked a lot of the meal.

I said it before but I really believe God was looking out for me. I just knew I would be eating popcorn and chips for dinner that night. Ironically I was actually looking for Red Roof Inn as the place I would stay at and accidentally stumbled upon the former Best Western Hotel. The attendant mentioned that the hotel was currently owned by a bank due to foreclosure. I bet that Red Roof probably wouldn't have the free dinner.

So after taking my luggage to my room and updating Trina, Tasha, and Eugene, I made my way back to the lobby and served myself dinner. It was a lot of food and I happened to be the first one to get to it (since it was around 5pm). I filled up on stuffing, turkey, ham, string beans, and corn bread. There was even some chitterlings. But I passed on those since I don't really trust anyone else's chitterlings but my Mom's (and she hasn't made that in years). For drinks there was only soda, which I actually don't drink much of these days. But by some miraculous chance there was a lone Miller Lite in the fridge. Jan Brady was nice enough to let me have it and said after the day I had, I deserved it.

Afterwards I went back to fill up on desert, which included Upside Down Pineapple cake, Red Velvet cake, Sweet Potato pie, and German Chocolate Cake. It was a feast.

Needless to say I was full for the rest of the day as I made my way back to my room. I called my parents to tell them all about the dinner I had. Since I couldn't make it for my Mom's dinner, it was the next best thing. Then I took a nap and woke up and wound up watching Beyonce's Thanksgiving promotion. I swear that girl needs to take a five year hiatus. But whatever.

The next morning I woke up and after calling the insurance company to get a claim number, I quickly walked to the nearby McDonald's for breakfast. I wanted to go to the nicer pancake house next door but there was a huge line and I needed to check out by 11am. I also had to get my car tires taken care of.

So after breakfast and checking out of the hotel, I wound up calling another tow truck company that towed me to a local Discount Tire. Apparently everybody and their Mama was at Discount Tire instead of at the mall for the first official shopping day of Christmas. I wound up staying there for nearly two hours while waiting for my two rear tires to be replaced and a determination that grass/debris was blocking the air valves on the front tires, which caused them to go flat.

I then had the daunting task of deciding if I wanted to continue my journey to Detroit with my fender messed up or drive back to Chicago, which was closer. My concerns for driving to Detroit in my car was that the messed up fender would give guys up to no good reason to think my car was abandoned and decide to break into it. Not to mention would I really want to drive to Detroit and then drive back to Chicago with the fender missing and exposing the interior to the environment. At least if I made it back to Chicago, I could get the car serviced locally.

But then I thought about my family and how disappointing it'd be not to see them. Plus with winter rearing its ugly head there wouldn't be too many opportunities to make another trek.

In the end I decided to rent a car at Enterprise and have my current car repaired in Benton Harbor by the same tow company (which also had a body shop) that rescued me from my accident. I arrived in Detroit Friday evening. I gave both my parents extra long hugs.

So Enterprise wound up giving me a shitty car (Kia Spectra) that I managed to make it in to Detroit and back. The alignment was off and both front tires were balding. At first I thought I was still shaken from the accident and was being jittery (which I was to a degree) but I found out about the issue after getting back to Chicago. I swear if I had another blowout, I would've been too through.

After using Eugene to haggle with Enterprise, they gave me another car. It wound up being a Ford Focus (which I must say, Ford's come a long way from their Found On Road Dead days). My car was ready a week and a half later and I wound up driving back to Benton Harbor to pick it up.

Needless to say that was quite a crazy experience and aside from paying for the car and bills I incurred while stranded, I'm still dealing with the insurance company as far as my emergency visit. But I'm grateful to be still breathing.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chopped & Screwed 2010


2010 is shaping up to be a screwed and choppy year for me. But not necessarily in a bad way as you'll later read. Actually just to summarize on my holiday, it went fine. I trained it to Detroit on Christmas Eve and stayed until the 29th. This year for Secret Santa I had my Mom's name. I wound up getting her a basket of lotion, hand soap, and body gels from Bath & Body Works. For good measure I also got my Godmother the same. My Dad had my name for Secret Santa and he went and bought me a new Bed in a Bag. I did need some new sheets so that was cool. I have to admit it's nice seeing my Dad actually buying gifts. It's a bit of a reversal of roles since my Mom usually bought all the gifts growing up. Now it's my Mom that's slipped in the gift buying department. Its mostly due to the Parkinson's and her not being able to drive. She was so happy to have my Dad's name for Secret Santa. She actually bought his gift after the holidays while I took her shopping. That left Tasha and Trina with having each other's names.

As far as the "coming out to my parents" deal I blogged about last year (hee), I'm wavering again. But I did finally tell my older sis Tasha about it on our way to dinner with my younger sis. So both of my sisters officially know. I knew it would be a nonevent and even prefaced it by telling Tasha that I knew she already knew, which she did.

I decided to make an effort to be closer to both my sisters by treating them to dinner. Since Trina worked late we wound up going to a Chinese buffet closer to her job. We had a nice time catching up and the hope is we'll get together more often in 2010.

Since having my car accident last November on Thanksgiving no less (
yeah I didn't get a chance to blog about that), I'm realizing that I need to make a greater effort to connect with my family. We're only on the Earth for such a short time and tomorrow isn't guaranteed for anyone.

I even got to hang out with Eugene while he was in Detroit. Actually he needed a place to crash after Christmas in Chicago for a day or so before his friend (lost love Larry) drove from his place in Wisconsin to pick him up, their ultimate destination being the 2010 Sugar Bowl (
whereever it was...*LOL*). I wasn't going to be home during that time so we needed to meet so I could give him my keys.

So all in all it was a full holiday. I ended 2009 getting tipsy on a date. This happened on December 30th. I met this guy TopChef from Springfield, IL who was visiting his family in Northwest Indiana for dinner. We had a nice time. I guess I had too nice a time drinking a total of one rum/coke, a half bottle of Pinot Noir (
with our dinner), and later on two Pomegranate Cosmos and a lager beer. TopChef drank as much as I did but he was better able to handle his liquor. I was tipsy enough that I had to get a hotel (well TopChef did) where we of course made out madly but didn't have full blown sex. He had such suction with his mouth that he nearly pulled my tongue out my socket a few times.

Since I was tipsy on the 30th I limited my alcohol on New Year's Eve to two drinks, though that didn't stop me from getting a drink spilled on me in the wee hours of 2010 while dancing at a nightclub.

Ain't that screwed and chopped up? But that's not as screwed and chopped as some of these songs I found on YouTube. Apparently screwed and chopped music originated from Houston, Texas in the mid 90's. I guess I missed that somehow. Perhaps not living in Houston played a role. Apparently it's a way of remixing hip-hop music to play in a slower beat. The results are funny but oddly enough enticing. In fact some of the songs sound even better after getting the "chopped and screwed" treatment. I'll close my blog with a few selections that I liked. I will definitely be looking for more "chopped and screwed" music in the future.

Mariah Carey - We Belong Together

Kut Klose - I Like

Aaliyah - One In A Million

Alexander O'Neal - If You Were Here Tonight

Phil Collins/Jeffrey Osbourne - Easy Lover

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