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Friday, April 18, 2014

Truly Dumbfounded

Here's the thing. Whenever possible, I like to pay my bills. And be polite. I do, really.

So, back at the end of October 2013, I got a bill saying my balance due was $76.44. Ok, a bit more than I expected, but that's fine. I sent off a check and figured, all done, all square. Isn't that what anyone would have assumed? Now, to be honest, this particular vendor is not very good with his billing. I think he hasn't quite got the software down yet. Nor has he acceded to my request to send me a monthly bill (I got them very sporadically) that details not only what he has charged, but what payments he has received. I don't think that is too much to ask, is it? Anyway, all paid, all done, waiting for next year and more sporadic bills.

Fast forward 5 (Five!) months later and I get a bill saying that my account is over due to the tune of $218.63. What? Where the hell did that come from? Did the man do stealth work for me at some point that he didn't tell me about? Or didn't bill me for in those months? No breakdown of what the $218.63 beyond "Balance Forward." I'm sorry, but my last bill that I received from him said that my total Balance Due was $76.44. If that wasn't the case, why didn't it say that my balance due in October was $295.07 instead of $76.44. What ignoramus can't print out a bill that shows accurately what is owed on an account? I mean, really? Seems pretty straightforward and simple to me.

If the amount due was from a previous year - say 2012 - why wasn't the matter addressed earlier? Why didn't any of the previous sporadic bills show this amount as being due? What. The. Fuck!

I don't want to pay him this money. It isn't that much, really, in the greater scheme of things. It is more the principal of - hey bud, you snooze, you lose. You told me the balance due, I paid the balance due, you don't get to just say, "Oops, I made a mistake and you actually owe me another $218.63. And I just couldn't be bothered to ask for it in November, I had to wait five months."

I sent him an email and he wrote back and said he didn't want to alarm me. Really?

Oh, this is the letter I sent him in response:

Hi Xxxx,

I am alarmed. I am alarmed that there is any balance due. I am alarmed that you have sent me incorrect bills before this. I am alarmed that it has taken you four+ months to bring this to my attention.

As I mentioned, when I got the last bill, it said my balance due was $76.44. Are you telling me that at that time that was in fact not true? That the balance due was actually $295.07 ($218.63+$76.44)? That is simply inconceivable to me. Why would you send me any bills that didn't reflect the actual balance owed? I am dumbfounded. Truly dumbfounded. What sort of accounting software doesn't send a true balance due? Or was it simply user error and oversight on your part?

Please send me a detailed accounting of all our business together - from first to last, what work you have billed for and what payments you show we have made. I will do the same on my end if I can. I don't know that I have retained all of the bills that you have sent me.

Truly, Xxxx, I am disappointed and dismayed that this is happening. If a balance was due, especially such a large one, why not send me a bill in November? Or December. Or heck any month between the last bill and now? Why wait 4 months to send me a bill? You do know that my mom is on a fixed income and that she can't pay large lumps at one time. Heck, if I had known about this in October, I could have sent a little each month over the winter and we would be all caught up. Also, why would you send a statement that doesn't back-up what you are saying. Or a note included saying something like " Hi Augustus, I am so sorry, I just now realized that I had somehow forgotten to carry a balance due forward from 2013." (Or whenever the balance due is from). An envelope containing a bill for $218.63 5 months after my last bill (which showed I only owed $76.44) is simply rude and inconsiderate.

Thank you for your updated email address.

Looking forward to the complete detail of all the work you have done for us and all of the payments you show as having been received.

Happy Friday!

So, what do you all think?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Condiment Post (Birthday doings, too)

I like condiments.

Well, the last post I published had been started April 3, before the play started at the Smith. Not really a play - a ballet of Peter Pan. Does this really exist outside of SPAs minds? Yup, I guess it does. I just googled it. I had never heard of it before. Peter Pan, yes, but as a ballet, no.

Anyway, the show went pretty smoothly. It took a lot of time, was a teeny bit stressful - mostly around dealing with my situation taking care of mom and balancing work - I don't know how people with "real" jobs handle the same thing. Unless they get more help than I get. Bigger support system. I hope that's the case. Anyway, it all worked out. I had a coworker to cover dinner, so I could pop out of the rehearsal and give mom some food and come back again. The work itself wasn't too onerous. The group is fairly self contained - lots of volunteers and people working. A stage manager would be nice, but when I mentioned it to the director, she said that no one would take on the responsibility. Sigh. Anyway, it was a long few days - from April 3-6. But we got it done. And I think it was well received. Except by mom.

I don't know what goes on in her head. I do know that she has forgotten the story of Peter Pan - so that wasn't a good start. Ballet might be harder for her since she is still very verbal. And I admit there were some confusing bits. I am not sure what the whole "stars" and "aurora borealis" dances were all just wasn't her thing. Finding her "thing" is getting more and more difficult - as I will explain in a bit.

So, that brings us to April 7th. As some of you know, I had made arrangements and plans to get a little bit of a break from Chez Schoen-RenĂ©. I am a bit of a road warrior. I really like to be out and about  - not all the time - as I was discussing with anyone who would listen - besides living in a place for awhile (6 months to a year - perhaps) optimal travel at this point in my life is 3 months traveling - 3 to 6 months recouping. The last major travel I did was the trip across the US with mom back in the summer of 2011. Since then there have been lots of littler trips - Maine, CT, other parts of NY, NC, that sort of thing. Nothing too extensive. And none of it alone - or at least not with mom. Trips are trips, even with mom in her current state - and way better than nothing. But, in this case, I was hoping for a double whammy - a trip out of the country and a trip without mom.

All this to honor myself, give myself a break and to enjoy my birthday - April 8. The plan was to leave around 10 in the morning - drive to London, Canada and meet a friend for late dinner or drinks or both. I had planned a stop in Buffalo to go to the Pearl Street Brewery (Brewpub) for lunch. Gave myself loads of time for getting through the border. And the drive from the border to London, another 2.5 hours - would give me time to get there, find a hotel in a leisurely fashion and maybe do a little exploring of the town before meeting up with my friend (who works until 9 or so). She was ready, I was ready. Well, ready-ish. I was planning on packing - packing - ha - throwing a few things in a bag and grabbing my toothbrush was about the size if it in the morning. By the way - the next day's plan was to head to Toronto to meet another friend, spend the night there and then come back on Thursday in time to do an event at the Smith. Plans. Gotta love 'em.

I just ordered two thumb drives from China. Says they will get here in 16-18 days? Are they taking the slow boat?

The morning dawned, I was up and starting to think about getting out of bed when I got a message from the person who was going to help by hanging out with mom while I was away. Family crisis/emergency sort of thing. Great. Sorry for her and her family of course, but come on! Really? I chose not to go and called to make an appointment for a massage. It was my birthday after all and if I wasn't going away, the least I could do would be to treat myself to a massage. Have I said before that if I were really rich, I would have a masseuse on payroll? Maybe two - so they could massage each other when they weren't massaging others people. Turns out that the emergency was serious, so I am glad I didn't make her split her focus by having to care for mom while worrying about her own situation.

I spent a leisurely morning a bed, fed mom lunch and headed to the massage. Not a bad one, not great, but not bad. Certainly way better than no massage at all! Afterwards, I headed to a bicycle shop. Much smaller than the one in Geneva. I liked the guy who worked there immediately. He understood what I was looking for, didn't look down at me or my questions (ok, so I was taller than he) and made good recommendations. I didn't know that bikes now sometimes have disc brakes! Who knew?! I didn't make a decision right then, I like to sleep on big decisions.

Next stop, MacGregor's for a beer. They have the most taps in the area. Lots of lovely stouts to choose from. I only had one and it was yummy. I hope to get back there and have some more. Two women I know from Geneva were there - getting ready for class. We chatted and I discovered that there is a place that makes good friend chicken in the area. It was a bit out of plan to head there then, so I put it on the "do later" list. Headed to Wegman's and got some chicken wings and other stuff that didn't require effort on my part and took them home and fed mom some dinner. Yay!

All in all, a good celebration of my day of birth. I have, though, renewed my conviction to do nice things for myself as frequently as I can - and as much as I can afford.

In that light, after surviving an event at the Smith - actually it was a decent event that got a lot of students who probably wouldn't otherwise have visited the Smith in the doors - on Friday I went back to the bike store. I was prepared to spend a good chunk of change on a new, customized bike. As I was walking in, I saw a used bike outside. The man I had spoken with earlier in the week suggested I give it a spin. I did. It was fine. And considerably less expensive than the new bike would have been. Not as spiffy, but it will suffice. I actually like to ride it, as opposed to a Schwinn I had purchased back when I was living in NC. Oh, and since I lived 8 miles from town - over bike unfriendly roads and terrain. I asked for it to be tricked out with fenders, a rack and toe clips. Yay! On Saturday I picked it up - just in time for two days of great weather. Great! Weather! (Ok, today we have snow on the ground, but the weekend was in the 70s.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Days of now and then

Mom had a bad morning yesterday (I have no real idea what day that was - maybe Wednesday the 9th?). I don't understand where specifically they come from. I know where generally, her dementia, but why are some days much, much worse than others? Yesterday she woke up totally scared - she didn't know where she was - she didn't know who she was - she didn't know who I was. I chatted with her a little and she calmed down, but it was scary for both of us.

She is so funny - both "haha" and peculiar. I guess she was feeling peckish. So she hunted around in the kitchen and found a box of instant oatmeal. I found opened packets all over the place (well, by where she tends to sit in the living room and beside her bed). For the life of me, I couldn't see where they were coming from - either in my mind's eye or through actual searching in the kitchen. Yesterday morning, I went to get something in the fridge and saw that she had, again, put the ice cream in the non-freezer part of the refrigerator. Better than leaving it on the counter (which she has only done once in 3 years)(twice now - she did it last night), but not optimal. Anyway, I tossed it back in the freezer and "ta da" there was the box of oatmeal packets! Which promptly got relocated to the trash. Sorry to whoever liked oatmeal in the morning when they were here. It is gone now. And mom will have to resort to something else - like the fiber bars I leave for her - or the swiss rolls...

Ok, where was I? I started this on Wednesday or Thursday last week, I think. Right before the show at the Smith got cooking. The show was fun - but it took a lot of time and mental energy.

I am going to publish this one and start on another. I don't want to make people read one twenty "page" post when I can make them read many smaller ones!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nice day

Just a nice day all around. The weather was nice. I have had nice email communications with friends. I have started planning a nice trip away for a couple of days. I had a nice day at the Smith. Nice, nice, nice! It is nice when it is nice! Yay nice!

Ok, some not so nice stuff. Mom seems to have slipped another little bit down the cogent ladder. Yay.

At the Smith, I got a good chunk of stuff accomplished. We now the the ability to cue up DVDs before playing them on the big screen. Yippee!! And I ordered some y-connectors for xlr cables. That is really exciting for me. What it means is that I am one step closer to being able to rock our sound at the Smith by running things through our movie sound system - not just our front of house little baby system. Think one amplifier versus 5 amplifiers! And huger speakers. Now, my next missions are to trace the paths of the wires that go from the projection booth to the sound station in the center of the house and to back stage. And to figure out how to get a 100' HDMI cable to function.

I must be one of the laziest people on the planet. I really ought to have done laundry yesterday. It would have been nice to have laundry devices in the house, but I don't. So I didn't go out. Instead, when out to get dinner, I stopped at Walmart and bought myself another pair of black cargo pants. The other pair is sitting in my laundry basket. Ha!

My fruit fly zapping tennis racquet looking devices came yesterday. Yay! It seems, though, that only one is working. But it works really well. I must have fritzed a few hundred of the little buggers already. I know, not very buddhist of me - but the things irk me no end. And I feel if there is such a thing as reincarnation - and transmigration of souls - then, I am just helping the little fellas (and ladies) along. Aren't I sweet?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Oh Deer!

When I lived in NC, I lived in the country. I routinely saw critters big and small on my property - nothing so big as an elk, but lots of things. Oh, and no African animals, sadly. I wouldn't have minded a pride of lions or a gazelle or two. But lots of deer for sure.

Color me surprised last night as I walked through my dining room to find deer! Not in my living room, but in the yard. Big, huge, scary deer! I mean huge! Not little scrawny deer - these things looked like they were well fed and ready to rumble! There were three of them - not sure about family travel in deerland - anyone? Still, it was impressive and a bit scary. I wonder where they live most of the time? I am in a fairly urban part of Geneva. Hmm, I haven't looked in the barn lately...

When life gives you a forced xBox system up download, I guess it is a sign that I should do other stuff for a few minutes. Like maybe some work? I was thinking of heading in to the Smith for two hours this morning. But after doing my 7 letters and writing about them on the relationship blog, and doing a smidgen of yoga, it became 10 am suddenly. So I postponed going into the Smith until the afternoon. Got mom some aleve and was all set to play a little when "System update - download or quit." Sigh.

Got our water bill. I thought getting the drips under control would have lowered our water bill - but it was high this month. I wonder if the cold weather is partially responsible. We shall see what the spring water usage is like.

I bought mom an early birthday present - her birthday isn't until next month - mine is April 8. So I guess I got her a present for my birthday - a 10 season package of NCIS. Sadly, she has forgotten that she liked the show. Sigh.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Close my stupid yap!

After deciding I would go to the new Japanese restaurant in Geneva, I was pretty excited. I like Japanese food - the challenge was to find stuff on there that mom would eat. I got there and the place was empty feeling. Luckily it filled up pretty well while I was there. I heard the owner/manager speaking with an associate and it sounded like they were speaking some sort of Chinese dialect. I was hoping for some Japanese. But no, it was Chinese. I asked him and he told me it was Fujian dialect. I said something in Mandarin and he was off - nattering away about this and that - his accent was a little hard to decipher at times - and my vocabulary isn't what it was - or even what it ought to be - but I think we got some communication done. Still, I need to learn to shut my yap!

The food was good but not great. Don't know if I will go there again - but only time will tell if that is the case.

Is my bathroom sink a sign about my life? The drain seems all backed up and I can't figure out how to get it clean. And the cold water faucet continues to be flaky - fine one day, drippy and other and just now, it just wouldn't stop until I turned the water off to it. Sigh.

Mom's tastes have changed so much. She used to love ginger - now it is "too hot" for her. Sigh. No spicy food. Nothing "interesting." We tried tempura last night and she was not amused. She kept telling me that eating dinner with her was always an adventure. And it seemed like she meant that in a not good way. Sigh. At least she still has an appetite.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two days

Hello - I want to whip out a quick post - if I can. I like to give value, so I write a lot of words. And that takes time. Even though I do type zippily.

The past two days have been a little on the tiring side. Sure, fun was had, but there was some work involved. And it has been a frustrating day so far. And is only getting more so. I am trying to find out why my mom's bill has gone up 3 dollars for no apparent additional service. This is up from the $75 it was when we first signed up for triple play - phone, internet and cable. Sigh. Now up to my third representative. The first couldn't help me - she was customer solutions - the second I couldn't hear - the third - well, so far she has proven less than competent. (Ok, that was a tough word to spell.) So, basically - we raised our prices - suck it - was the answer. Where has competition gone? I dread the post merger days of Comcast and TWC.

Oh, and we got our copier moved today, only to find out when the movers got here that they weren't responsible for the technical end - just to lug it and plug it and leave. Great! Talk about excellent customer service. Customers really don't have much recourse as companies get more and more monopolized.

Where was I - Oh, yesterday I was up at 6 so that I could get in to work by 7:30 - not that it takes me that long to get to work - I just don't like dragging bleary eyed Augustus butt anywhere. So I like to wake up, do some internet stuff, write a bit, scratch, sniff, play some bridge, brush my tooth, etc.

Eventually I made it into work - got what I needed to get done before the theatre group arrived (fly the legs and movie screen out - fly the electrics, valance and border in, change over the lights from booth control to lightboard control, etc.). They were prompt, efficient and nice. Load-in and sound check were all accomplished before doors opened and the (literal) hordes descended. Wait a sec - how many does it take to compromise a horde - we had 1300 kids and adults for the 10 am show. The show went smoothly, and I got out (after nice chattings with friends) at noon.

Then, I was a good samaritan. I took a coworker and her son to a dentist appointment - well, orthodontist. A good little chunk of time out of my day. But it was fun, in a helping out sort of way.

I went to the grocery store and bought the essentials - beer, toilet paper and kleenex. I swear mom is going through the latter two more and more quickly. I don't know what that is about - but there really isn't anything I can do about it. Feed her habit and maybe it will burn itself out is my philosophy.

Heated up left overs for dinner - I had to have dinner on the table by 5:30 (almost an hour and a half before normal) so I could make it back to the theatre in time. I had made beef stroganoff Monday, so served it again Tuesday - with some left over sugar peas - appropriate because the show we had at the Smith was "The Monster who ate my Peas." Mom didn't realize it was leftovers - though I do find that sometimes if I feed her the same thing two days in a row, she says she can't finish it all. I am wondering if she is vaguely recalling the amount of food she had eaten the day before and becoming psychologically more full. Weird.

Back to the theater - ran the show, got them loaded out and I was done by 9. Yay! I got home and helped mom with television (I am thinking of buying the NCIS dvds for her - she has loved the Doc Martin ones but I think she is about burned out on them...) and played a bit before falling into bed and snoring. Loudly.

Only to get up again this morning and head back in to work. We had work crew coming, I was supposed to meet with a volunteer, the copier was to be moved and the first meeting of a newly reconstituted (just add fresh meat) film committee was happening. First off, I had no clear idea what I was going to do with the work crew - luckily there were only three kids today, so that made life easier. And Vicki is good about figuring out what to do. They did help with the copier move by carrying a table or two and some other stuff around. Yay. Unfortunately, the copier move was not clearly communicated. I didn't realize that we were responsible for connecting the copier to the internet - getting a cable etc. And I thought the movers would make sure that all of our people could print to the copier. Nope. So, I will have to figure that out. Yippee! I also had to climb around in a part of the Smith that I hadn't climbed around in before to get the old cable out to use in the new location of the printer. Fun-like.

Got that all done just in time for the Film meeting. Luckily, my volunteer canceled. Huzzuh! The film committee meeting went well. Next step - some mission statements are being drafted after our discussions.

And now I am at home, trying to catch up on blogging and correspondence. Sigh. All too soon it will be time to think about dinner. And I could use a nap. And someone to snuggle with during that nap...