I recently ordered a spare battery for my camera on line from a business I’d not shopped with before. All signs of decent security were in place that I could see and I went ahead and placed the order. The next business day I received an email from someone in their customer service department simply saying that my order required further “attention” and asking me to call them. My immediate thought was ok, they’re going to try to bait and switch by offering a great price on the battery I ordered but then try to sell me a more expensive one. I was all ready to simply cancel my order and pay a little more to order it from a camera shop I’ve done lots of business with in the past. I had only ordered from this place to try to save some money. I was pleasantly surprised when I made the phone call to the customer service representative. He did start the conversation by saying “The battery you’ve ordered is on back order and it looks like it will be a pretty long wait, about 16 weeks.” But then his next sentence was the very pleasant surprise. They are upgrading my order to a slightly more expensive and supposedly longer lasting battery for the SAME price as the one I originally ordered… NO extra charge! Sounds great, right? Well… the pleasantly surprised feeling only lasted a while until I thought it through. I went to their website and looked at the battery I will actually be receiving and compared it to the battery I originally ordered. The battery I originally ordered is OEM… made by Nikon. The one they want to sell me first of all sells for the same price as the one I ordered anyway so it’s not really so much of an upgrade and it’s made by some other off-brand manufacturer. They weren’t really going to get any more money out of me, but they would probably make more money from my sale because I would guess they can buy the off-brand batteries much cheaper than they can the Nikon manufactured ones. So in the end, I am canceling the order after all. I will go ahead and spend the money for what I wanted in the first place… and stick to shopping places I already trust.
Earlier tonight I was driving along a quiet residential street. The speed limit was 25 mph. I was driving around 30 mph and there was a car following me way too closely… and kept getting closer and closer. When the driver finally realized I wasn’t going to speed up any faster no matter how much they wanted me to, they illegally passed me on a dark stretch of road with a curve ahead and flew up the street. I had to laugh just a little bit when I saw the same car about six blocks up the road and they were stuck behind a slow moving city bus! Yeah, that dangerous move passing me like that really paid off, didn’t it?
I have no clue what my deal is with blogging about sad news stories lately… My life is going very well and I’m happier than I’ve been in a while. I guess it’s just the abundance of those tragic news stories out there. Anyway, this 16 year old boy in California was recently found in just just boxer briefs with a shackle on his ankle and covered in soot and looking very emaciated. He had escaped from the home where he had been kept captive for approximately a year and walked into a gym in search of help. The couple who kept him against his will are in jail and charged with multiple felony counts. They beat his knees with a baseball bat and burned him with a metal baseball bat heated in a fireplace. As the story unfolds, he came to their home by way of his aunt who had legal custody of him. It turns out she had been given legal custody because his father had been found guilty of beating him! What tragic irony that he’d been removed from one abusive situation only to find himself in another living hell. I can only hope someone realizes how important some professional mental health help is going to be to this boy in his future. Not one but a total of four adults he should have been able to trust to protect him abused him in horrible ways. There’s no way that can’t leave some serious psychological scars.
First of all, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I had a most wonderful holiday and am truly blessed to have so many things to be thankful for. It was my first holiday spent with my family in three years and it was special. Now, on to what’s on my mind… The entire world’s gone crazy! A WalMart employee at a store about 20 miles east of Manhattan died Friday morning as Black Friday shopping was beginning. He was trampled to death by shoppers swarming into the store as he opened the doors. Witnesses reported the doors were literally ripped off their hinges. The man was only 34 years old. How incredibly sad… what a senseless death. What is even more appalling is the fact that witnesses stated that when the police told shoppers they needed to close the store to investigate and move the man’s body, they complained that they’d been waiting in line for several hours and attempted to continue to shop! Does human life have such little value to these idiots? Who in their right mind would think that saving a few dollars and getting your Christmas shopping done is more important that this man’s life? I’m sorry, folks, but human life trumps saving money every time! I can’t imagine how angry this man’s family and friends must be. Angry at the senseless loss of his life, and angry at the fact that most likely no one will ever be held responsible in a court of law for his death. There were just too many shoppers, too many people involved, and it would just be too difficult to identify and prosecute every single one of them. I know that would make me very angry if it were my loved one. I pray for his family and friends that they might find some way to come to terms with that has happened.
Those of you who read my blog with any frequency know that I don’t normally write about political issues. That’s not to say I don’t care about them, I just believe strongly that everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one’s opinion is more “right” or “wrong” than another’s. But this is an issue I feel strongly about. Our presidential election coming up in just a few weeks now is going to be a historic one no matter which ticket wins. If McCain and Palin win we will have the first ever female vice president in the office. If Obama and Biden win we will have the first ever black president in office. Either way, it’s going to be a history making election. And there is one person up for election who’s ethics I have some issues with. That would be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Fist a legislative panel of investigators deemed her behavior in firing the Public Safety Commissioner to be an “abuse of her power.” He allegedly was told to fire a state Trooper who had recently gone through a nasty divorce from Governor Palin’s sister and didn’t do it. That’s the issue in a simplistic nutshell. While the investigators stopped short of calling her behavior unethical or unlawful, they did agree it was an abuse of her power. And agreed that her husband, Todd, was involved a bit more than he should have been in the issue. My thought is that if she is going to abuse her power at this level, do we really want to give her even more power to abuse as the Vice President of the United States, and possible President? I, for one, do not.
Then there’s the issue of her spending tens of thousands of dollars on travel expenses for her daughters to accompany her on trips. In several cases, planners of the events Governor Palin attended with her daughters have stated the daughters were not invited. And in at least on case, it was stated that Governor Palin asked to bring her oldest daughter with her, and was told yes, but arrived at the event with all three daughters. In one case expense reports show that her and her oldest daughter stayed in a hotel room in New York City that cost more per night than I pay for rent for a month. Was that expensive hotel room really necessary? Was it even necessary for her daughter to be with her and had her plane tickets paid for by the tax payers of Alaska? I think not. If Sarah Palin wants to take her daughters on trips with her when she must go out of town or out of the state to stay close to them as a working mother, that’s entirely her decision and I don’t disagree with that decision. What I disagree with is her asking and expecting the tax payers to pay for her daughters plane tickets and hotel rooms on these trips. It would be more reasonable and ethical for Governor Palin to pay for her daughters travel herself. In one instance, Governor Palin took along all three daughters on a trip at the expense of Alaska tax payers and guess what? That trip just happened to bring the family to the same town where her husband, Todd, was participating in a snow mobile race. Isn’t that a nice little coincidence? The Governor and her daughters got to watch Todd participate in this race and have their travel paid for by the tax payers. That is unethical and unfair to the tax payers who paid for that trip. I can only imagine what kinds of things she’ll find for the tax payers of the entire country to pay for if she becomes the next Vice President of the United States. I sincerely hope that does not happen. And don’t even get me started on the $150,000 that the Republican National Convention has paid out for clothing for her!
I’m going to get up on a soapbox for a minute here… Please, please, please all of you pet owners reading this, spay or neuter your pets! Unless you plan to breed them, there’s just no reason at all good enough not to do it. As I’m searching for new homes for my two fur babies, I’m being confronted with the sad truth. There are just FAR too many homeless dogs and cats out there. Shelters throughout the country are just filled with them, and many don’t have room to take any more in. Many animals are euthanized at shelters every day for no other reason than there isn’t the room to keep all of the animals coming in. There are far more homeless and abandoned animals coming into the shelters than there are being adopted out. The number one way we can help this issue is by stopping there being more stray animals from being produced. And the best way to do that is simply to have your pet spayed or neutered. It’s a quick procedure in the vet’s office, and pets generally recover very quickly and easily. The vets I’ve talked to in the past few years are doing a better job than ever before of making sure your pet is given pain medicine and kept comfortable during and after the procedure. If money is an issue and you feel like you just can’t afford it, please talk to your vet or local animal shelters about any low cost spay/neuter programs in your area. These programs exist in lots of places and are designed to make it affordable for anyone to have their pet spayed or neutered. And if your concern is your pet’s personality will change after the procedure, well, please talk to your vet about this concern so they can lay your fears to rest that their basic personality will not change. Your pet is relying on you to be resonsible for them and their health. So it’s your responsibility to have them spayed or neutered… Please be a responsible pet owner.
I should be on top of the world still right now. I should be jumping for joy still about my new job and the move to be closer to my family. But I’m not. Instead I’m sad. I’ve made the very difficult decision not to bring my cats with me along for the move across the country from Ohio to Oregon. This decision was made for various many reasons and not made lightly. I’ve spent several days racking my brain trying to come up with some way to take them and just can’t find a workable solution. So I’m working on trying to find them good, safe homes. They’re my fur babies and I love them dearly and would hurt anyone who didn’t take good care of them. I’m praying a lot for safe homes for them and feeling a little desperate that I won’t find them homes in time. I only have three weeks to find them homes and it seems that everyone wants cute little kittens… not adult cats. There are far too many cats that are strays and in shelters, so I’m up against a big obstacle. I am actually still happy about the new job and the move home… it’s just a bittersweet situation.
We are spoiled. And by “we” I mean Americans. I know that’s a gross over-generalization, and I know there are certainly exceptions to that statement. With that said, I do think that as a culture, as a group of people, we are pretty damn spoiled in comparison to some other cultures. There was a discussion about this at work just last night amongst myself and two other nurses I was working with. One of them had spent a considerable amount of time in Bolivia and I’ve spent some time in Guatemala. Granted, not a lot of time in Guatemala, but two trips each approximately two weeks in length. Enough time to begin to get a feel for the culture. We agreed that we both came back to the United States feeling very blessed and spoiled and no longer taking things for granted we had taken for granted before. Things like clean drinking water, enough money to put a roof over your head or afford basic transportation, things like that.
Two examples from my trips to Guatemala stand out in my mind to make my point. During the first trip I was speaking through an interpreter to an older woman and she was telling me that she had pain in her neck often (most likely from carrying heavy baskets on her head frequently) and approximately two years earlier there had been an American medical team there in town and they had given her some small white pills that really helped the pain. She was hoping this American medical team could give her some more. I found out that those little white pills she’d been waiting approximately two years for were ibuprofen. Yes, just ibuprofen. She didn’t have any money or transportation to the pharmacy to buy them. Even if she’d been able to get the pharmacy, she wouldn’t have had the money to buy them. Ibuprofen. Something most of us give no thought to picking up on a quick trip to the store while you’re out running errands. But to this woman, it was a big deal to get these pills.
On my second trip there was another example of things we take for granted. A boy and his grandparents traveled for two full days to get 100 miles from their home to where we were setting up a clinic and doing some surgeries because the boy needed an eye surgery. They spent most of the two days walking. That was the only way they could get to us. A 100 mile trip is not a big deal to most of us. A two hour trip, roughly. But to this family it was a real ordeal.
We really are a pretty spoiled culture. As are most citizens of “industrialized” countries. But we sometimes forget about millions of citizens of third world countries who fight for things we take for granted. There are so many things we see as necessities that they see only as luxuries.
So, I recently made the conscious decision to revamp my spending habits and basically make a new philosophy when it comes to spending money. If I don’t absolutely need it, I don’t buy it. And I gave some thought to other ways to cut costs. One of those ways to check out two different “bargain” grocery stores near my house that advertise their very low prices. Well, that ended up really not saving me any money in the long run at all.
The first store I went to charged you a quarter just to unlock a grocery cart to use while shopping. Then they had a really poor selection of products. And then they charged you 5 cents a bag to put your groceries in.
The second store did let you use a cart for free and had a slightly better selection, but still pretty poor. By the time I looked over each store and still couldn’t find a few items on my list and had to drive to a “regular” grocery store I realized that by the time I spent the time and gas searching for all the items on my shopping list, I hadn’t really saved any money at all. I suppose it was worth a try.
Yes, I have my car back! Finally. The cause of it ceasing to run only five miles from the shop the last time I picked it up was, again, the fault of the supplier who sold the shop some faulty parts. So the shop spent the next few days after that getting it repaired for me and I’ve had it back a day and a half and it’s running great! In fact, I trust it enough that when I left to run a few quick errands earlier today I forgot my cell phone upstairs in the apartment and when I realized that I didn’t bother going back upstairs to grab it.
It’s so nice to have my car back! I just love the freedom that comes from knowing I can pick up my car keys and leave my house to go where ever I wish, when ever I wish.
Thank you to all of you who have listened to me whine and stress over this nightmare of a car problem. My stress level has dropped considerably.