St. Louis Post Dispatch… another difficult thing to cancel

Now here’s something that’s been going on since the end of August.

I got caught. In K-Mart. The guy saw me coming. My daughter was being an absolute handful. He enticed me and didn’t give me all the information. I thought I was subscribing to Sunday only papers for $3.99 a month but when I logged into my credit card account the next day, they had billed me $34 something. Yeah, completely unacceptable. Really, I thought the weekend coupons would be helpful and maybe my son would like the comics but $34 a month for a newspaper? Are you kidding? I can just get online and find out anything I want.

The guy had circled the number for canceling, so I did. The woman told me a refund would go through to my card and service would not start.

Boy, was she wrong. That was a Friday, come Monday and then Tuesday and then on, no refund. And service started. I called again. This person assured me of the same thing.

As more papers arrived daily (and no one was reading them, they were going straight to the start-a-fire pile), I finally did a charge back on my credit card. I told the company I’d tried to cancel twice. At some point I finally talked to someone with the PD who assured me I was canceled. Why was I still getting papers every day? I started getting calls every week or more asking me to “come back to us.”

Finally, about 2 weeks ago I said to the guy, “now tell me, why would I want to start paying you for newspapers that keep coming after I’ve canceled at least twice, why would I pay for it if I’m getting it for free?” He just went, “what?” You can bet that wasn’t in his call binder. He kind of repeated it back to me… you’ve canceled twice and are still getting papers? Yup. Er, ok. Sorry. No problem dude, not your fault. Yes, they continued to arrive for another week after that.

And now? They’ve sent me a bill saying my account is past due.

Really?

I’m so over this.

As of now I’ve decided to ignore it and see what happens. I really don’t fancy talking to more people and having to repeat myself countless times and them trying to get me to “come back” for some “stellar” price.

I guess it could end up on my credit but I have excellent credit so I really kinda don’t care. Guess we’ll see if another bill arrives to inform me I’m 60 days “past due” then go from there.

Just… sheesh!

Jewelry in Candles

I have to admit, the first time I heard of this I thought it was a stupid idea. That was another brand, who’s name I cannot recall. But a couple of months ago my friend became a Jewelry In Candles rep so I thought I would give it a try and support her.

I ordered the full size Lavender candle with earrings. As probably no one remembers around here, I used to make my own candles. Since becoming aware of what it takes to make a good candle, I’ve become increasingly hard on candle manufacturers, I am very picky. For instance, some people local to me don’t fill their jars, they don’t look very nice, and they don’t smell very strong. (Yet they sell and make money?? I digress.) So I have to say I was a bit skeptical of this brand based on the fact that it seemed more about the jewelry than the candle. However, I was not disappointed in the candle.

More back story, however, is that it took a while for me to get the order. Apparently right as I ordered, there was a huge backlog and then once they caught up, my candle arrived broken. The company shipped me out a replacement right away. I was a little annoyed that I had to hang on to the broken one and wait for a letter that instructed me to take it to a post office where they, after being thoroughly confused, finally took the package and my info. Presumably, they’re sending it back to JIC. This, I get, I’ll never know if it was one of the candles with something expensive inside. I would have preferred to be able to just mail it back with a shipping label or something, like Amazon does.

Anyway, I could smell the candle before getting the box open and lighting it was not disappointing at all. I’ve now burned it down to about 1/3 or so remaining and it still smells great. It burns evenly, the only thing left sticking to the side is the glue that held the jewelry packet in place when they poured. I also like the jar itself, very simple yet with a thick base.

Oh yes, the earrings. I ended up with a pretty cheap pair with a blue rose surrounded by three rhinestones on one side. Not my style but cute. Would be a good pair for my daughter to wear when she gets old enough to pierce her ears, a good pair for an adolescent/teen. But it was SO hard to wait for the candle to burn far enough down! I did end up pulling it a bit early but it didn’t affect my candle burning at all.

So would I get another one? Yup. :)
Maybe this Christmas I will because, surprisingly, I don’t really burn candles all that often, despite even having some of my own stock left. I’m thinking Peppermint or maybe Pecan Pie! Think I’ll try the necklace this next time.

So get you one: https://www.jewelryincandles.com/store/umfleet13

still missing

It has now been 2 weeks, 3 days, and 10 hours, and 22 minutes.

It saddens me to say that I think I am now “used” to her being gone.  I hate that.  I hate having life turned upside down for not just me but everyone who knows her, and especially for my kids.  For them and for my own health, I’m forcing myself to try to get back to “normal.”  At least I can say I am finally to the point where she does not occupy my EVERY thought.  Not say she’s not on my mind, because she is but I’ve been able to pull myself back from the despairing depression-inducing dwelling.  I’ve been able to do a photo session and have another one coming up, that gives me something to occupy myself with.  I also found diving into crochet and a good program on my laptop helps.

There was about a week of solid frustration.  EVERYONE was talking to me about it, I couldn’t get away.  And they couldn’t just have quiet thoughts coupled with “I don’t know,” which is all I could offer, but I felt like I was being constantly questioned and prodded for information.  People were stopping by house to ask, people I don’t know were calling and texting me, people would see me in a restaurant where I was trying to GET AWAY for a few hours, and stop and ask me… “So what do you think happened?  No, really, what do YOU think?”

I DON’T KNOW!!

And I am not even immediate family.  I just seem to be, for some strange reason, an outsider’s supposed link to the inside. (more…)

Missing person

Is this what it feels like?

To have someone you love be missing?

I’m not even of immediate family but I feel numb. Tiny. So insignificant. Helpless.

I had to keep it quiet all day long. Smile and laugh at the appropriate moments while worrying inside. My inner self face down in prayer.

And now that the community has come alive I’ve broken down. My head is filled from tears and neither of us can sleep.

I can’t imagine life without her.

Come home.

last post

All good things must eventually come to an end.  I’ve had this blog for over 11 years and I think it’s time to say good-bye.  I really would like to regularly blog a personal life again but I find myself hesitant to say anything here.  I might try a new place, I don’t know.  If I do, it’ll probably be under a false name.  Too many people out there who shouldn’t read my life know where to find me.

There’s a chance I might write something here, as rarely as I have been, like some random company complaints or a book or movie review, but for all intents and purposes, there will be no more personal posts.

So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, goodbye.

 

:)

Women of Joy weekend 2014 – Beyond Beautiful

Last weekend I went to my first Women of Joy conference, ours was in Branson, MO which is about a 4 hour drive for us, so not bad.  The conference sells out the night they open ticket registration which is during the conference the year before so last year I had to send deposits with our group to be able to buy my tickets for this year.  My mom was going with me but one of my friends ended up not being able to go so my sister took her spot.  The three of us shared a hotel room and a friend rode down with us but was in a different room.  This was really different from the other women’s conference I went to with our church because it was like our group was so disconnected.  At the last one, which was a Beth Moore conference, we all rode the people mover bus thing and pretty much stayed together other than times were we might have chosen different nearby restaurants or been in our hotel rooms.  This time, we all took separate cars, grouped up as we wanted and met down there.  We sat together as much as possible during conference times but there was always someone missing, sitting elsewhere for whatever reason.  Meals were on our own and free time on our own with everyone doing what they wanted.  The only time everyone was really together, it seemed, was at the hotel Friday and Saturday night for pizza and a cannonball competition in the pool (of which only like 4 women participated in while the rest of us watched) and then ice cream on the second night.  Even then, some people were missing.  One woman had gotten pregnant and had the baby since the tickets were purchased and he, as I understand it, ended up not being very cooperative, and I rarely saw her.  But I think in the long run, everyone had fun.  It was just different.
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Thumbtack… service or rip-off?

I’ve been a user of Thumbtack as a professional for several several months now and have spent a decent amount of money on credits.  I have sent lots of quotes and have gotten a few replies but none of my leads has resulted in any work.  Now, I know it’s not me.  I know that I cannot expect to get every job out there, but based on my work and reasonable prices, I should be getting at least some jobs.  The closest I have come is one man who was ready to hire me but we put it on hold because the weather started getting bad, and the woman that flat out said “yes, I want you to do my wedding” but then failed to send in her contract and deposit.

Honestly, I’ve wondered how many real professionals use this site.  Of course, the ones with a lot of bookings don’t need to nor do they have the time, I’m sure.  After talking to him about it, a friend of mine submitted a request for work in my area because he was curious the types of quotes he’d get.  He got back one.  ONE.  From a photographer who, to be honest, was not any good and who lived 80 miles away.  (Think underexposed, over-processed pictures.)

I started to look around the web.  I found that a lot of other people also have this complaint and there is a camp of people out there that believe that Thumbtack actually generates false requests for work to make it look like they have a productive site and get professionals to pay to bid on these fake jobs.  One man even proved this, as far as he was concerned, by asking the “client” baited questions where he knew the answer was “that place does not exist” and the client answered as if they had no idea of the venue in which they were supposedly getting married.  He also posted how when he had credits that he’d purchased that he could use for quotes, he would get a lot more leads than when he did not have credits.  I hadn’t thought about until that point, but that’s completely true.  It’s a way to keep you buying.  (Editing to add, one month later, I exhausted my credits out and I think I am down to 1, which you can’t do anything with.  Since I wrote this post, I have received maybe 3-5 lead emails, when they were once coming several times a day when I had credits.)

Here’s one thing that’s really waving red flags at me: the complete and utter disregard for any kind of consistency.  Case in point: asking questions.  You pay credits to send a quote but you can ask some public questions if you need a bit more info before giving a quote.  I have done this very few times, but 90% or more of the time that I have, my questions have been deleted and/or removed because they were somehow deemed inappropriate.  Of course, I have NEVER asked an inappropriate question.

About a month or so ago, a lead came up asking for someone to do professional head shots in an office setting.  The user stated their budget was “more than $1,000.”  With this info, I was thinking this must be a pretty big company needing to update some kind of directory be it a website or whatever.  So I asked “how many people?”  As a photographer, this is essential information.  If I am going to go to an office and set up lights and a backdrop, it makes a big difference whether there are 5 people to be photographed or 500.  There’s even a big difference between 5 and 50.  It all adds up to time spent and, as we all know, time is money, Jack.  So, really, not an inappropriate question at all as it would give me an idea how much time it would take to shoot and edit/prepare and therefore would help determine my price.  Of course, in typical Thumbtack style, my question was deleted for being inappropriate.  The email telling me this invited me to respond if I had questions.  I basically said, “what up?”  This is where I mention that I had seen other photographers ask this question many times before, and had it answered.  (If you get a lead, you will also get public asked and answered questions when the client answers them.)  Thumbtack responded, after about 5 days, with some lame form letter sounding bull about maintaining the best quality of the site and that the client is given the chance to answer that question when they first fill out the form.  Um, OKAY?  Well the client did not answer that question in the first place, so it needed to be answered; even a range such as 30-40 would have been fine.  Then?  Less than two weeks later, I get another email of a publicly answered question… you guessed it, the question was “how many people?”  (Editing to add that my friend who submitted the request for work said that the form did NOT ask specifically “how many people.”  So I was flat out lied to by the Thumbtack employee.  The form basically had a spot for “anything else you want to add.”)

In reading other people’s accounts of their experience with Thumbtack and questions being deleted or edited, it seems that a lot of questions that might have answers that lead you to realize a lead is fake are the ones targeted.

I know that a friend of mine has gotten some actual jobs from Thumbtack, so I know it can’t be all fake.  But I feel like I have been taken.  I am not laying blame of course, but I joined and spent my money because my friend was getting actual jobs.  So then it begs the question, why can’t I?  Are all the real people who want quotes really that cheap?  I do have to say that one of the responses I got to a quote on a wedding sounded hopeful; they were asking me questions and what not, then suddenly, they told me thanks for my time but they’d decided to go with someone who was “portfolio building” AKA free.

I am done with that site until they can make some changes to better the service and prove that the leads are not fake, such as providing the professional with the client’s info like email address, phone number, etc., so the professional can really follow up with a quote they have sent in.

moto x and the migraine

I’ve been trying for several weeks to write a review on my new phone, the Moto X, but I just can’t seem to make my brain take the time to finish it.  Let’s just suffice it to say that I really love it.  I love the customization, the size (I got the 32GB), the features, the UI, etc.  There are very few things I don’t like and there might be ways around them, and I’ve learned to live without.  Such as having arrows on the keyboard, rather than being able to fine tune where my cursor goes, I have to just keep tapping until I get the right spot.  But everything else I love.  I also love being able to say “Ok, Google now” and then ask it something or create a reminder, etc.  The kids think it’s hilarious and they are always trying to imitate my voice to get it to respond to them.  They have yet to succeed.

This morning I had the most bizarre experience, at least for me.  I woke up twice in the early morning hours with this MASSIVE headache.  It seriously could not have been anything but a migraine.  I don’t get very many bad ones and I’ve never had one THIS bad before.  I think the last one was a year ago, or nearly so, and even that one I was functional enough to be able to be driving, just wearing Steve’s fat sunglasses over my glasses to help with the light.  I was completely not functional this time around.  Being Sunday, I said there is no way I can go to church and crashed again on the couch.   Of course, Steve was already gone.  Elijah ended up calling his grandpa to come pick him up so he could go.  I slept on the couch and Kayleigh helped herself to Oreos and watched TV.  Thankfully she’s old enough that I wasn’t having to change diapers or get bottles, etc.

It’s almost 11pm now and it still hurts,  but not near like it was this morning or afternoon.  Sheesh.  I couldn’t even take medication this morning because  I almost threw up taking the one ibuprofen.  I couldn’t eat anything and I don’t take medicine on an empty stomach if I can help it, too.

I really have some things to figure out though.  I think that after all that sickness I had at the end of 2013 and into 2014, I walked away with a pinched nerve.  Possibly.  If it’s not a pinched nerve, it’s something much worse.  Have already had my eyes tested and the eye doctor says it’s not them.  I have read that pinched nerves don’t necessarily come with pain and a massage has been suggested to me.  I think I might know the area in which it would be.  So I really need to start there and get one, especially if I get more of these horrible headaches.

Ahhhh so glad it’s gone down now.  I slept so so much today and now it’s time I should head to bed, too.  I guess only morning will tell us if the kids are going to school or not.  As my friend said, “Mother Nature has lost her marbles.”  70 degrees yesterday and I did a wonderful engagement shoot and today it’s snowing buckets.  Crazy.

Graze!

IMG_20140121_153615625I’m probably late to the party, like usual, but I recently got my first box from Graze.  Now, in case you haven’t heard of this yet, once or twice a month, for only $6 a box, these guys send you out these wonderful snacks.  There are 4 little trays of snacks for your snacking pleasure in single size serving portions.

So far I’ve tried the cherry fudge sundae and the cheese board.  Basically chocolate fudge, blanched almonds, cherry infused raisins and cherries for the first and cheese cashews, baked herb bites and salsa corn sticks for the other.  Both were very good though enjoy the fruit, nut, and chocolate more.

These boxes are ideal for one or two people at most.  The little trays are great for throwing in your purse or bag for on the go.  Something healthier than grabbing a candy bar somewhere, of course.  And I’m being given the chance to try something new on a regular basis without committing to a large bag of something at the store.  (And yes, there are nutrition facts included on a card.)

And it’s affordable at $6 every two weeks – yes, that does include shipping.

So try it out  :)  ——-> GRAZE!  Use that link and your first box is free.  Even better, if you stick with it, your 5th box is also free!  Can’t beat a free box.  No commitment, nada, if you don’t like it, cancel it.  It’s that simple.

A&E v. Robertson, Phil

Ok, here’s the thing.

Do I believe Phil has the right to believe what he wants and express those beliefs?  Especially when being asked flat-out while on his own time?  Yes.

Do I believe that A&E can fire him if he violates his contract?  Yes.

Did he violate his contract?  We don’t know.  Though I find it hard to believe that a man such as this would sign a contract that would limit what he’s allowed to say on his own time, especially when you consider that during the initial negotiations for the creation of Ducky Dynasty, we are told that they said three things were not negotiable: faith, family, and duck season.  (Hence all the shirts that list the same three things.)

So what is this?

I believe it’s a ploy on the part of A&E to appear that they are just, like, so amazing.  They squash discrimination when it rears its ugly head!!  However… in trying to do so, they have instead discriminated against one man for his religious beliefs.

Is anyone really so put out by what he said?  Really?  Does it affect you in any way?  Does the gay man down the street really need to care what some guy a million miles away thinks?  I think the answer here is a big resounding no.  Big deal, there are bigger fish in life that need to be fried.  Maybe we should all start with human sex trafficking, now that is something to get angry about.  Why is A&E so concerned about his statements that, as a side note, were clearly not complete as it’s obvious he fell into a trap set by GQ.  Because, you know, GQ is so reputable.

But I digress. There we are, back to he beginning – do they have the right to fire -or suspend- him for his religious beliefs?

I’ve been watching this unfold from my computer, I’ve not watched television or any mainstream reports on this whole broohaha, it’s pretty much just been all my Facebook feed.  The thing I keep seeing is people who are saying that free speech only applies when you’re dealing with the government.  Well, if that is so, then why do we have all these laws to guard against discrimination?  You’re not supposed to be able to fire someone based on their religious views.  Or their sexual preference.  Or their skin color.  Or if pink is their favorite color.  Or if you just plain don’t like their face.

So why is it okay for A&E to do it?

Back to the questions.

Do I think Phil and his family really care about his suspension?  No.  They don’t need A&E.  They already had a successful business going and a following — yes, we were fans before Duck Dynasty when it was just Duck Commander and Buck Commander, and I gotta tell you, those were the only hunting shows I would watch (since I am subjected to hunting shows on a regular basis) that didn’t make me want to bash my head in — and now?  It’s even bigger.  Filled with people who are raging mad that Phil has been discriminated against for voicing his beliefs and opinions.  The family has made a statement that if he’s off the show, so are they.  I’m sure there’s another network just waiting to snap them all up.  I think the family has a “mission accomplished” attitude about the show in general.  I believe that they weren’t in it for entertainment or money, that they were in it to subtly, and in their own way, spread their belief system.  That they have done, and now it’s even bigger because people who don’t even watch the show are talking about them and checking out the show to see what it’s all about.

Do I think A&E shot themselves in the foot?  Yes.  I mean, come on.  Rappers and others get away with this crap all the time, why is Phil so special?  I guess A&E is just incapable of looking ahead to consider the consequences.  Duck Dynasty is the highest rated show on cable.  You’d think they’d want to do anything they can to keep it while it’s hot.  It would not have been that hard for A&E to instead release a statement that Phil’s views are his own, and not that of the network.  Not only does everyone already know that (I mean, come on, duh) but stations and networks do that all the time with infomercials.  But right now, A&E is getting what it wants: attention through controversy.  I think in the end, they might regret it, I don’t see this making their network stronger.  Rather than just let people know that they don’t agree, and sat down with him over coffee to explain that you just don’t do interviews with people like GQ, they essentially attempted to silence him.  Attempting to silence someone never works.  I think in the end, the one that comes out ahead is the underdog, the one seen as being persecuted – – Chick-fil-A, need I say more?

Here’s the other thing, I cannot begin to tell you how many posts I’ve seen from gay people (that I don’t know) that start with, “I’m gay and I support Phil Robertson…”  Or, “really, we gays don’t care, it’s the media and the activists that blows these things out of proportion.”  Or even things like, “Who is Phil Robertson and why should I care what he said?”  My own gay friends and family have been silent on the issue so far (estranged straight family is a different story, for some reason they seem to think it makes them amazing and cool to be gay activists rather than living their own lives, but again, I digress).  Of course I know not all those who are gay feel this way but that’s the beauty of this world – we are all allowed to be different, to believe different, to think different, to speak different if we so choose.

So with all of that behind me…  who cares?  Phil doesn’t care what you think.  If he cared what you think, he’d have lied through his teeth.  A&E clearly does care what people think, and that is their downfall in this case.   But I think they’ll get by.  I don’t see Phil and his family as the suing for discrimination type so I’m sure A&E will have less to answer for than if they’d tried to silence someone else.

But you…  don’t you have more important things in life to deal with than worrying about one person out of 7 billion said?  I know I do.  I just thought I’d kill a half hour while my daughter’s in speech therapy but now it’s time to get back to reality.