Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Colorado Christian University Calls Otto

Colorado Christian University called Otto about enrolling in their online psychology program. Otto, concerned about possibly catching Coronavirus over the phone, asked the rep a few times if she was wearing a mask while talking to him. Upon being asked, the tried to end the call, but Clovis was persistent. The rep glossed over his question about the mask and pushed through with her pitch. When the rep mentioned that they were on a recorded line, Otto wanted to know why they were recording him. The rep said it was for training purposes, so Otto excitedly said he was ready to get trained. The rep again tried to end the call. Otto managed to steer the conversation back from the edge and the rep said she was going to transfer Otto to an enrollment counselor, which Otto misheard as "smelly aroma counselor". Otto wondered aloud why he would need such a thing, as he smelled just fine. The rep then ended the call.

Monday, May 18, 2020

MAGA-Mart Grand Re-Opening

The pandemic stay-at-home order has affected many small businesses throughout the country, and MAGA-Mart is no different. Clovis was unable to get a PPP small business loan, so, he decided that he needed to open up his shop in order to keep his business afloat. The way Clovis sees it, those COVID-19 death statistics are way over-reported, and his livelihood and First Amendment rights are under a more immediate threat than the doom and gloom portended from some faceless virus. So, as of this morning, MAGA-Mart is open for business again.

In order to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of MAGA-Mart, and to showcase some of the new things he has to offer, Clovis put together this radio commercial:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Credit Card Scammer's Tirade

Diksmash got a call from a credit card scammer who wanted to help him lower his interest rate on his credit card. Being a very old man, Diksmash informed the scammer that he is afraid of catching the COVID-19 virus over the phone, so he insisted that the scammer wear a mask. The scammer pushed past the request and asked Diksmash for his credit card information. At one point, the background noise in the scammer's call center got too loud, and Diksmash informed him that he could not hear him. The scammer talked louder, which hurt Diksmash's ears. Diksmash asked the scammer if he still had a mask on, which the scammer ignored. The scammer instead went on an expletive-laden tirade which lasted about 30 seconds while Diksmash responded with incredulity.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Italian-Style Chicken & Couscous

Chicken is always a safe bet when it comes to choosing a Blue Apron meal. So, when I chose Italian-Style Chicken & Couscous with Carrots, Currants & Kale for a Blue Apron meal, I was feeling pretty confident that I could cook it while attending a virtual happy hour with my beer group. With my brand new Pioneer Woman knife set and cutting board ready to go (don't judge) I delved into this kit while assuring my beer group buddies that I'm secure enough in my masculinity to appreciate the prettiness and craftsmanship of my kitchen utensils. The Blue Apron description of the meal sounded a little underwhelming: This wholesome dish is brimming with bright, earthy Italian flavors thanks to the blend of classic herbs (like rosemary, sage, and oregano) that coats our seared chicken, and the fragrant basil pesto we’re stirring into fluffy couscous. This is basically just yet another variation of breaded chicken offered by Blue Apron, so I've got a fair amount of experience making this. I'm not sure why my couscous turned out so green relative to the "Expectation" picture, as the directions said to pour in the pesto, which I took to mean "all of the pesto". I cut the kale a bit small compared to the "Expectation" but that was not an issue. 

Overall, it tasted good, and I liked the couscous despite it looking too green. The carrots, currants and kale was better than I had expected. The chicken, of course, was a safe bet and I really enjoyed it.  
Expectation


Reality


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Credit Card Scammer Admits She Is Rude

I got a call from a Credit Card Scammer who launched into the typical "lower your rates" scam pitch. I tried to sound a little mentally enfeebled and I had her on the hook well enough that she asked me about my cards and how much money I owed. I made the mistake of saying that I had them all maxed out and when she said she couldn't help me, I had to backtrack. She explained that I had to be in good standing, and I responded that I could stand up just fine, and that I didn't need a cane yet. She laughed. I asked why she was laughing. She said she was just acting like she was laughing. I told her she wasn't nice and she admitted that she was being rude. I asked for an apology and she gave one and then I asked to get my lower rate. She asked for my Visa card information and when I gave her the card number, I ended up giving her a 1-800 number. After toying with her a little more, she got fed up, said "I don't want to work with you" and hung up.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Crispy Chicken Katsu & Soy Mayo

The Illinois "Shelter At Home" order has given me many opportunities to up my cooking game. I've tried a number interesting recipes, some more successfully than others (we will not speak of the "Beer Can Chicken Incident"). Sometimes, it's nice to try out a recipe that you know is going to be both tasty and easy, so, I looked to Blue Apron for some inspiration.

I chose Crispy Chicken Katsu & Soy Mayo with Shrimp & Vegetable Udon as one of my kits and was pretty excited to try it. I had high expectations, since Blue Apron listed it as a "Premium" offering, and, as such, I had to pay an extra $18 for the kit. The meal was easy enough to make, though I may have slightly overcooked the chicken.

Coming in at 1,250 calories per serving, I was a little hesitant to completely dive into this. Indeed, the portion size of the shrimp and vegetable udon was huge, so I split the meal into three servings instead of two and shared the other two servings with my girlfriend and my daughter (hence the weird cut of chicken in my photo). But, it tastes good and everyone enjoyed it enough to make me want to try my hand at this dish outside of Blue Apron.

Expectation

Reality

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I Bought A New Mattress

I pride myself on being able to sleep just about anywhere. I've slept on concrete, I've slept on beaches, I even slept on the peel-and-stick tile floor of my old college buddy's rank-ass basement. I've slept through earthquakes, fire alarms and tornado warnings. As I get older, however, the physical cost of sleeping on something without any back support has begun to take its toll. For the last eighteen months, I've been sleeping on a memory foam mattress which felt more like it was a mattress topper than an actual mattress. It was fine if I was star-fishing in the center of it, but, it just wasn't working with two people sharing it. We were both waking up with horrible lower back pains. Mine was so bad that I couldn't stand for more than 30 minutes in the morning without my legs going numb. Clearly, it was time for a new mattress.

I've been bombarded with advertisements from a number of different mattress companies like Purple, Casper, Nectar, Sleep Number, Tuft & Needle and Puffy. At some point, amid all the Youtube ads and pop-ups, it all becomes noise. I did some research and decided that a hybrid coil-memory foam would work best for my need for both comfort and support. I soon settled on the Pressure Relief OEKO-TEX Certified iCoil® Hybrid Mattress by Zinus. I've had a good experience with Zinus box springs, so I figured I'd give one of their mattresses a try.

I want to give a pro-tip to those of you whom are going to buy a Zinus mattress: The cling wrap is what keeps the mattress compressed, not the thick plastic covering. I found this out when I pulled open the cling wrap in the living room only to find that the mattress was beginning to expand. I quickly yet very awkwardly maneuvered the mattress through the hallway and into my bedroom. I starting singing "What's gonna work? Teeeeeam work!" in the hopes that my teenage daughter would take the hint and lend a hand. No dice. But, with a little elbow grease and a lot of gumption, I got the Zinus mattress through the door and onto the bed.

It took about 48 hours for my Zinus hybrid mattress to fully expand. In the interim, I found that the middle rose up faster than the sides which made sleeping arrangements a little odd. But, once that was done, the Zinus Pressure Relief OEKO-TEX Certified iCoil Hybrid Mattress became great to sleep on, but even better to wake up on. Not only have I slept better, but I haven't had any of the back problems that have plagued me for the last several months.

At around $700 for a king mattress, I find that the Zinus Pressure Relief OEKO-TEX Certified iCoil Hybrid Mattress hits that sweet spot of affordability vs benefit. And, with a 100 day no-risk satisfaction guarantee, it's well worth trying if you're in the market for a hybrid mattress.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Ale Horn

This Is What An Ale Horn From AleHorn.com looks like!
Ale Horn
Honestly, I think that my home suffers a lack of quirky barware. Sure, I have a few beer steins and number of Red Lobster glasses of every size and shape, but those options just aren't quirky enough for the over-the-top beer group parties that I'm hoping to start hosting again once the pandemic is behind us. Enter the ale horn, from AleHorn.com.

Have you ever wondered what beer would taste like if you drank it from a mug crafted from a bovine horn? Have you ever wanted to drink from a vessel worthy of being drunk from by Bro Thor? Yeah, me either. Still, an ale horn sounded like it would make an interest gift for my siblings this Christmas and it's never too early to do research. So, I bought one. The folks at AleHorn hand craft their Viking-style drinking horns from 100% ethically sourced bovine horn and also offer custom engraving including custom logos. I didn't go all out and have my family crest engraved on the front. I just went with my name on the handle.

The first thing I noticed about my ale horn was how light it felt. The weight is somewhat equivalent to that of a plastic cup of the same size. That's not really a bad thing, I just figured that the bovine horn material would result in a heavier tankard. I like the look of it, as it has plenty of natural marks that add character; my mug looks like it has a few stories to tell. But how does it drink? Will it make your beer taste weird? Some beers taste weird enough on their own, but, after sampling a few different beers in mine, I can tell you with confidence that the taste of your beer will not be affected. And the handle helps the tankard fit snugly in your hand while you drink. That being said, I do think that ale horns are best suited to thicker, heartier beers than, say, lighter beers. But, overall, I'm pleased with the result and will be ordering some more, this time with a prominent logo on the front.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Clovis Prays With A Scammer

A robo call with an automated voice called Clovis looking to sell him some shystery-sounding "final expense" coverage. Clovis quite liked the lady that he was talking too and thought that he was scoring some points. Unfortunately, he got transferred to an actual "live" rep who rained on his parade. Clovis told the rep that he wanted to be transferred back to Samantha, and that the rep wasn't his type. Clovis eventually asked the rep where he was from and was told Australia. Clovis didn't believe him and said that they should pray to Jesus together for forgiveness. After a very heartfelt and moving prayer, Clovis got kicked from the call.

Monday, April 20, 2020

I Had A Buffet Table Delivered

One of the few good things that has come out of this whole "shelter-at-home" order for me has been the fact that I have been able to spend a lot of time re-decorating my house. Since Day 1 of  me buying the place, the dining room has needed some attention. I was content to use the small dining room table and chairs that the previous owner had left behind until I could decide what kind of decor I should go with. Once it became clear that I'd be hosting more and more large get-togethers, it became vital for me to deck out the dining room. I went with a French Farmhouse inspired theme and picked up a great looking table and some chairs to go with it. In order to complete the look, I purchased the Gracie Oaks Jaydin Sideboard.

It took a while to get a delivery date confirmed, and, once it was, I was told that the delivery company could not bring the sideboard into my house, but still could assemble it before delivery. No problem. I recruited Jason to help me bring the thing in and put it in its proper place. Jason arrived just before delivery and we sat there in my dining room wearing our COVID-19 masks. I looked at him and remarked "How the hell did we get to this point?".

"This is the darkest timeline...." he replied with a sigh.

My house is very hard to find, so, of course, the delivery driver called me to get better directions and Jason and I ran out of the house, our faces covered in cloth masks, to wave down the driver. The driver dropped off the buffet table, un-assembled, and headed right out. Whatever. Jason helped me drag the box into the dining room while I sang "What's gonna work? Teeeeeam work!", much to his chagrin. I had the Gracie Oaks Jaydin Sideboard put together within 20 minutes. It, of course, looks great. My barware goes in the middle and my dinnerware goes on the ends with my Fiestaware occupying a place of particular pride on the right, ready for my next dinner party. Whenever that might be.



Gracie Oaks Jaydin Sideboard
Gracie Oaks Jaydin Sideboard

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dalgona Coffee

Dalgona Coffee aka Whipped CoffeeEaster morning was notable for two reasons this year: 1) The Easter Bunny, in a flagrant defiance of the state's "shelter at home" directive, trespassed onto my property in order to hide eggs for the kids to search for. He wasn't subtle about it either! 2) My girlfriend made up a batch of dalgona coffee, known throughout social networking sites as the most addictive, delicious coffee trend this season.

Also known as "whipped coffee", the fad known as dalgona coffee first blew up on Tik Tok before taking the rest of the world by storm. And it's no wonder that the stuff is so popular right now; with so many "shelter in place" orders in force throughout the country, the drive to stay indoors and experiment is high (I even experimented with a new chicken and noodles recipe). Plus, this stuff looks like a poop emoji sitting on top of a billowy cloud of milk. What's not to like?

You can find a lot of similar recipes out there for dalgona coffee, but we went with the one suggested by Delish.com. Some dalgona coffee recipes often call for the use of a milk frother, but we found that using a hand mixer, or, in our case, the Kichen Aid mixer, was a better option as it produced a more consistent coffee dollup that floated on the milk better.

But, how does it taste? It's good, and, overall, I like Dalgona coffee. I found it to be very filling and it did inject enough of a caffeine jolt that, after our own Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I decided to hide eggs around my best friend's yard before he awoke. I figure, if I can't torment my best friend in person, at least I can torment him via a socially distant means. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Innr Zigbee Smart Plug

In my continuing quest to eliminate most of the wi-fi smart home devices from my smart home setup, I had to consider what to do with my wi-fi smart plugs. Since I have to switch out some of my home's electrical outlets, I briefly thought about replacing some of those outlets with GE smart outlets. However, that would likely involve a lot of wire stripping to get access to the neutral wires, so I ultimately decided against doing that. Instead, I went with the Innr Zigbee Smart Plug. The most important feature of this plug is the fact that it's compact enough to keep from blocking off any adjacent sockets.

I ended up purchasing a total of 4 plugs and each one of them connected to my Samsung Smart Things hub quite easily. The Innr Zigbee plugs have been installed at each end of my house and have had no problem staying connected to the Smart Things hub. And, that's really all you can say about these things: They pair easily to the hub and they stay connected. And I prefer using Zigbee as opposed to Wi-Fi for smart plugs, as there are fewer connection issues involved.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Samuel Adams Mountain Berry Beer

I think I've made it pretty clear on this blog over the years that I'm a huge fan of the Samuel Adams brand. So, whenever something new hits the shelves, I'm usually keen on trying it. For some reason, I hadn't been able to get around to Samuel Adams Mountain Berry until now. Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of fruit "gimmick
" beers. I've always been a fan of Samuel Adams Cheery Wheat, so I figured that this one would be fairly close riff on Cherry Wheat. And, guess what? It is. Samuel Adams Mountain Berry tastes like Cherry Wheat but with raspberries and blackberries. That being said, it's a pretty decent beer. It's light and crisp and the fruit doesn't overwhelm the taste like a lot of over fruity beers tend to do. There's a little bit of a sour taste in there as well, but it's just a hint. There isn't much of a head on the beer after a pour and it's not very hoppy which is something that Samuel Adams beers tend to overdo with some of their creations. Overall, it's a very drinkable beer, one that would probably go down best as a light Summer offering in the place of some kind of Summer Shandy. Unlike Samuel Adams Summer Ale, it's not a beer that I would want to have a lot of, though. So, Samuel Adams Mountain Berry is, at the very least, worth a try.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Clovis Is Not Dead Yet

A scammer called Clovis trying to sell him final expense insurance. Clovis responded that he's not dead yet and he's tired of people saying that he is. When asked if he had a life insurance policy, Clovis said that he didn't and blamed Obama for it. As usual, Clovis accused the rep of hitting on him, and when the rep tried to rephrase the offer by saying that "the condition to purchase is not required". Clovis thought the rep was offering him cheese and told him about his issues with lactose.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Orbitz Is Overwhelmed

We were just starting to pack for our Spring Break vacation two weeks ago when things started to look dicey. Coronavirus cases were climbing fast and cities across the country were shutting down attractions and restaurants. The writing was on the wall: We were going to have to cancel our vacation. I had booked the suite directly with the hotel which had a policy of allowing for cancellation 24 hours before check-in. It took me all of five minutes to cancel that. Cancelling the flight, however, would prove to be much more difficult.

Ordinarily, you're pretty much out-of-luck if you want to cancel your flight. But, Orbitz, in anticipation of the pandemic, allowed for a generous cancellation window. I tried to cancel the flight through the Orbitz website. An hour later, when I hadn't gotten any kind of acknowledgement, I tried to cancel again. And yet again the next morning. I finally gave up on the website and called the Orbitz customer service number and was met with a message saying that the had high call volume and could not take my call. I tried several other numbers and finally got through. I was put into a wait queue and sat on the phone for over an hour until the call got disconnected. I called back and got the option to schedule a call back with a rep. I did that and about 90 minutes later, the call came in. I picked up and an automated message said I was being transferred to a customer service representative. The call got dropped.

Calling American Airlines directly was a much easier experience and I got through before very long. I told them that I would be cancelling my flight and they said they'd take care of it, but I'd have to contact Orbitz for a refund. The day of my flight, I tried over and over again to get in contact with Orbiz to no avail. I then decided that it might be smart to call in at 2am. After an hour wait, I was connected to a customer service rep out of the Philippines who basically told me that he couldn't issue a refund.

At that point, I was tired of trying to deal with Orbitz and I called my credit card company to dispute the charge. They'll notify Orbitz of the dispute and give them a chance to respond. The way I see it, Orbitz is likely overwhelmed, so they likely won't even respond. And, even if they do, I have it well documented that I tried to call and cancel and that American Airlines via Orbitz was offering refunds under the Coronavirus circumstances. I have heard some anecdotes about Orbitz sending successful chargebacks to collections, but I'll deal with that if and when it comes along.