Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How Many Repair Guys Does It Take to Change a LIGHTBULB?

Back in November, the lightbulb in our four year old built-in KitchenAid microwave burned out. We looked in the microwave and there did not seem to be a way to get to the lightbulb. So we took out the manual and looked through it. We couldn't find instructions for changing the lightbulb. So we called KitchenAid Customer Service.

Them: The lightbulb has to be changed by a repairman.
Me: What??? You are kidding, aren't you? Can you say POOR engineering design?
Them: "Would you like to make an appointment for a service call, or not?"

We made the appointment and called KitchenAid back several times, each time speaking to a higher level of Customer Service. Nothing doing, they can't help us and they certainly weren't admitting to a design problem.

Repair guy shows up.

Me: Where's the lightbulb?
Him: Oh, I don't have that lightbulb with me, it's a special order.
Me: So why did you come if you don't have the lightbulb? I gave them the model number and told them we needed a new lightbulb.
Him: Oh, I have to check to make sure it's really the lightbulb that needs changing and not something else wrong.

I watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door.

Him: Yep, it's the bulb, I'll have to order one and come back. Lightbulb and labor will be $175. How would you like to pay for that?
Me: WHAT??? $175? To change a lightbulb? I'll get back to you.

So I called KitchenAid again. I was livid that I would have to pay $175 to change the lightbulb every few years. No satisfaction. I got the name and address of the president for KitchenAid so I could send a letter of complaint. Then I called to reschedule the follow-up appointment.

Me: The file on this repair is still open. The lightbulb needs to be ordered and then I need an appointment for the repairman to install it.
Them: Okay. How's January 27th?
Me: When? That's a month away! Fine, I'll take it. Can I request a morning appointment? Don't forget, the lightbulb needs to be ordered. I don't want to waste another day just to have a lightbulb replaced.
Them: Okay. I'll put you down for morning, but the repairman can come anytime between 8 am and 5 pm.
Me: Okay, but don't forget the lightbulb needs to be ordered. Please let me know if the lightbulb does not arrive in time so we can reschedule the appointment.

So January 27th rolls around and my husband and I are waiting for our morning appointment. The repairman finally shows up at 2 pm.

Us: (in unison) Where's the lightbulb?
Him: I don't have the lightbulb. I have to check to make sure that's what the problem really is.
Us: (in unison) But someone was already here to do that!
Him: They were? Let me check the microwave, maybe I have the right lightbulb in my truck.

We watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door. Déjà vu?

Him: Nope, I don't have that bulb, it's a special order.
Us: (in unison - now we are starting to sound like the chorus of a Greek tragedy) So this is going to take $175 and THREE visits to change a #%*&#@ lightbulb??? How soon can this be fixed?
Him: I can come back on February 10th.

So the saga continues. . .

Just for the record, I will be videotaping this lightbulb replacement so that I can do it MYSELF, next time. Maybe I will learn how to use YouTube, so I can share the secret of the lightbulb changing with other poor souls.

Oh - by the way did I mention that KitchenAid is the name of the company that engineered this poorly designed product?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Book Tag

Mamalee, over at Full Plate tagged me. Now, not knowing what proper "tag" etiquette is (can I ignore it? will a plague be visited upon my house if I do? what happens if I don't send it out to three people?) and having the means at hand, I decided to participate. Of course, I also had an ulterior motive - to "advertise" some of my favorite books!

The "rules" for the 123Meme are as follows:

For those tagged, here's what you've got to do:

1. Grab the closest book to you.
2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Include the title and the author's name.
5. Tag 3 people.

Well, this morning I finished a book for a book club I belong to. The book was right next to my computer when I read the tag. For tonight's discussion we are reading complementary titles, one of which I am quite passionate about and have discussed in one of my early blog entries, Blood Done Sign My Name.

The other is a well known book that I have read before. When I asked my children if either had a copy that I could borrow to read, they both offered me copies; my daughter said it was her favorite book (and that she wanted her copy back!) Here are the three sentences from page 123, as required by the tag "rules":

"Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars was collected. The door was opened, and the gust of warm air revived us. Zeebo lined On Jordan's Stormy Banks, and church was over."

Of course, this is from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you haven't read it in a few years, do yourself a favor and read it again. If you have never read it, please, please do! It is a beautiful, but non-sentimental story, of the Depression-era South - with all the innocence, prejudice and moral crises of the time. It is also the story of a family, of a single father raising his two children and how he teaches them values in his own quiet manner. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his starring role in the film, based on the book - a film that did justice to the book. While you're at it, find Blood Done Sign My Name. I don't know anyone who has read it and not been changed by it.

As for tag etiquette - I'm more of the mind that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. So consider yourself tagged if you have a particular book you would like to share. Let me know in the comments. I'll be looking for at least three of you!

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Froggy Day

When my children were very young they mistakenly called those mist-laden days "froggy days." Yesterday was such a day. However we were in a rush to get on the road to bring our son back to college so I did not have a chance to take photos. Although my husband had the day off and would have preferred a sunny day, I was thrilled that today's weather was almost a replay of yesterday. I wandered out and was able to capture some photos of - well, not much, because as we all know, fog obscures and reduces visibility. It was strange being out there. Fog conjures up many emotions. It is at the same time mysterious, eerie, spooky, creepy, sinister, confusing, chilling, other-worldly and magical. There are only shades of gray. I was glad to get back inside to the warmth, color and light.

Without further ado, I present to you a little bit of "A Froggy Day."

Monday, January 08, 2007

My OTHER Blessing

Last week was my son's week. This week belongs to my daughter. She is a senior at a top-notch university, double majoring in Educational Studies and Business, with a minor in Psychology. She joined a sorority as a freshman and my husband and I were both puzzled by this. Let's just say fraternities and sororities were not in vogue at our college in the early 70s. Our view of fraternities and sororities was similar to the stereotypes found in the movie Animal House. She explained that the frats and sororities at her school accomplished much philanthropic good and so she joined, even as we questioned if this extra time commitment was such a good idea in a high pressure school.

Over the years she has been elected to officer positions and this week she will be ending her one year term as President. Her chapter has contributed much in philanthropic work under her watch, the capstone being a fundraiser (or FUNraiser, as they prefer to call them) in which they made over $6,000 to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has told us that the experience in running her sorority was invaluable and mentioned it was akin to running a small business. Along the way she has also found some lifelong "sisters" - something she never had before.

My daughter would like to continue her education with law school. She would eventually like to work in the field of Educational Policy and Child Advocacy. She interned with the Children's Defense Fund last summer and loved the experience. I believe her interest partially stems from watching the years of struggle as we tried to get support services for her brother who has learning disabilities. Her thought was that if two committed and educated upper middle-class parents had trouble negotiating "the system" to get an appropriate education for their child, what were the chances that parents mired in poverty could?

However, my daughter is taking a detour on the way to law school. Today she found out she was accepted by the Teach for America program. Teach for America is a very successful non-profit organization that trains college graduates to be teachers and places them in underprivileged neighborhood schools across the country for a two year teaching commitment. The application and screening process is very rigorous. Last year about 17,000 college graduates applied to the program and roughly 3,000 were accepted. But as my daughter explains it, the program is selective, not competitive - everyone who passes the TFA criteria is accepted. In addition to exacting admissions criteria and three rounds of interviews, the program is also successful because each TFA teacher really wants to be in the program. I can attest to that - when my daughter called today to give me the news she was so excited - she was jumping-up-and-down-shrieking excited.

Again, my husband and I had doubts about the wisdom of our daughter joining TFA. Why not head straight to law school? Why delay the rest of your life for two years? Why place yourself in a neighborhood that may be dangerous? Our daughter countered with perfect logic that neither of her parents - both trained as engineers - could refute. She was adamant in telling us that if she was going to devote her life to educational policy then she had better know what it is like to be a teacher and what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Can't argue with that, huh?

Of course, my husband and I are still concerned about the neighborhood she will be teaching in. Every day there are articles in the paper about random violence, gang shootings and students bringing weapons into school. But we can't think of that. We have to trust this 21 year old woman who has shown time and again that she can make good choices and knows what is best for her. We have to step back and let her begin her own life. She will be fine, I'm sure. I have a hunch even her parents will be fine.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Many thanks for your New Year's greetings and I in turn wish you all good health and much joy in 2007.

My apologies for not posting in a while. Of course there was our Christmas celebration where we had 22 family members over for a sit down dinner. Having survived that, we decided to push our luck. We hosted a small New Year's celebration - just appetizers and desserts - my favorite kind of meal!

For our final celebration of the season, I am very proud and happy to say my son will be receiving his rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor ceremony this coming Friday. He has been involved in Scouting since he joined Tiger Cubs in first grade. I was one of two leaders for Den 4, meeting with the boys every week during the school year from second through fifth grade. The five Cubs in our den all stayed true to Scouting until they aged out at eighteen - four of them earned their rank of Eagle. The fifth, who marched to a slightly different drum, was not interested in attaining Eagle but has opted to "give back" to Scouting by becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster after turning 18. I am so very proud of all five of these Scouts, all of who I have watched grow up from youngsters into fine young men.

It is my job this week to make a scrapbook of my son's Scouting experiences, spanning his twelve years from Cub to Eagle Scout. We spent most of yesterday going through boxes of old photos, culling the better ones and pausing to reminisce over most; the Pinewood Derby competition, a trip to the Fire Department, camping in the mud, a visit to the local pizzeria to make a pizza lunch, making birdhouses at Home Depot, two weeks at BS camp in RI every summer, making toiletry kits for the homeless sheltered overnight at area houses of worship, cleaning up local beaches, the Philmont trek - and hundreds of other great experiences that make life interesting and worthwhile. Below are just a few of our old and treasured memories.

Our Tiger Cub marching in his first Memorial Day parade, down Main Street.

Den 4 excited to pose with the soldiers from a Civil War re-enactment.

Pinewood Derby time!