Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Givin' It All She's Got, Cap'n!

I am. I really, really am. I have written more words in the past two weeks than I did the preceding two months - and I'm nowhere near done yet! Back to the dungeon with me, dear Cake Readers - I'll see you in March (aka next week) when my deadline had passed!

From the front lines

PS - Be sure to update your bookmarks to A new webpage is on it's way!

PPS - Thank GOD for leap year!!

IThinkICanIThinkICanIThinkICan :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At Which Time, Reason Ceased to Exist

Welcome to my blog. If you don’t wish to be charged for this experience, please leave a comment with the word “stop.” Otherwise, by closing this window, you agree to be charged $9.99 a month for the next 82 years, transferable to your heirs upon your death. Thank you, and have a nice day :)

If I were a premium messaging blog, that would be how I would operate, as I discovered this week when my cell phone bill came to me. On Feb. 13, I received an unsolicited text from 40544, essentially saying the same thing as the above paragraph. Not wanting to engage the spammers in any way, shape, or form, I deleted it.

The next morning, I received another text with some totally worthless, idiotic trivia tidbit. I promptly called Verizon and asked them what to do. The rep told me he could block them so they could no longer send me messages.

Fine, problem solved.

Until I got my cell phone bill today. Wouldn’t you know, there was the $9.99 charge for the premium IQQuiz text service. I called Verizon again, letting them know that the charge was in error.

“No ma’am, you must have agreed to the charge. The block will keep them from charging you again, but you still have to pay them for the first month of use.

Um, what? I calmly explained that I never agreed to anything. The text was totally unsolicited, and I had promptly deleted and blocked them. And here is when things really started to go downhill.

“Did they say in their initial text that if you did not want to receive the texts, to text back the word “Stop?” she asks.

“Um, yes.”

“And did you text them the word “Stop”?

“Er, no. I called you guys instead. I didn’t want to engage them in any way for fear that I would end up on every spammer’s text list.”

“Well, by not texting them back, you agreed to their terms, and therefore can be charged.”

I looked around at the exploded pieces of my head, wondering how I would ever put it back together again. “That is insane. By NOT responding, I somehow agreed?” Righteous anger bubbled up within me. They couldn’t possibly be serious.

“Yes ma’am. But you’ll only be charged for the first month, since you called and had them blocked the next day.”

Oh, well then—so long as it was only the first month I would be charged for. No problem! NOT. (and yes, I am totally evoking my child-of-the-80’s privilege here to resurrect that particular saying). Me, grinding my teeth: “That can’t be legal. I never AGREED to anything. The absence of a negative does not make a positive.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but it is legal. And you are actually lucky; it is much better than it used to be. Some people are out way more money than just ten dollars.”

Shaking my head in utter disbelief, “So this happens a lot, does it?”

“Every single day,” she replied cheerily.

Honest to God, I have entered the Twilight Zone. If this happened to good, honest customers every single day, wouldn’t Verizon want to do something about it?? “Well, legal or not, you’re going to have to take that charge off, because I called to report it first thing, and it was blocked.”

“We can’t credit you, ma’am, since it is a third party charge.”

Steam began to build up in my brain, threatening to shoot out of my ears like the billowing clouds emanating from the Hogwarts Express locomotive. “I don’t even know who the third party is! The only contact I ever had from them was the text, which I deleted.”

“Well, the number is 40544 – Google them.”

Google them? Google them? GOOGLE THEM? If I could have reached through the phone like Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad and throttled the woman, I would have happily done so. At this point, I may or may not have lost it. Let’s just hope they weren’t recording the call, lest it surface on the pages of TMZ when I am rich and famous.

She was adamant that it was not their responsibility. I was adamant that their policy sucked worse than a Dyson on steroids. I was this close to canceling my contract with Verizon, at significant personal cost, when I used my last best hope for reason. “Well, if it was my responsibility to stop this on my own, WHY didn’t the Verizon rep that I called for help say as much? I am ignorant in the ways of text charges, where as you guys are supposed to be the experts. Would you like his name?”

After a big sigh (we had been going at it nearly 10 minutes at this point), she finally relented. “All right. I will credit you the amount just this once. It is against our policy since we still have to pay the third party company.”

Oh? Allow me to make a suggestion to the powers that be in the lofty upper ranks of Verizon. If you’d like to recoup the losses you’ve sustained by having to refund fees to unsuspecting clients, and since you clearly have no problem with the non-agreed-to agreement, why don’t you draft a letter to the lovely people at 40544, telling them that you will be charging them a $10,000 monthly rate, in return for sending them a daily text telling them what a crock of {insert expletive} they are. If they wish to void the service, they merely need to text the word “STOP” to every single Verizon customer they have scammed over the last decade.

In the mean time, I will be drafting my own letter:

Dear Verizon Big Shot, I will be taking ownership of your mansion and everything in it as of tomorrow. If you would like to stop the transfer of ownership, please text the word “stop” to my cell phone within 30 seconds of receiving this notice. If you need the number, please feel free to Google it. Thanks, and have a great day!

Am I the only one who has ever experience this type of utter nonsense? Please tell me your crazy customer service experience, so I may commiserate. We shafted folks must stick together!

You know what I need? Chocolate. So, here is the fun Regency recipe that I came across in my research last month. Yummy, simple, and the perfect thing to whisk away all the modern day trials that raise our blood pressure :)

Chocolate Puffs

8 ounces caster sugar

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely grated

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 225 degrees

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar and grated chocolate, beating until well whipped and fully incorporated. Dollop the mixture onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet by tablespoons, leaving room for spreading in between each puff. Bake at 225 degrees for an hour

I did mine Regency style - hand whisking with the best of them!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If It Weren't for Bad Luck . . .

Happy Valentines Day!

Today I am at Lady Scribes, talking about my recent run of bad luck. Crossing my fingers that bad luck only comes in threes!

I hope you'll stop by and say hello :) CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh, No She Didn't!

I will be the first to admit, my dear Cake Readers, that I, like half the English-speaking population out there, have a bit of a love affair with my cell phone. It’s with me almost everywhere I go: tucked under the pillow at night, laid by the side of the bathtub, slipped into my beach bag, chilling in the cup holder of the boat—hardly anything is off limits.

Notice I said hardly. That is because, my friends, there is one final place in the world where my phone will not make an appearance. It is the one last hold-out, the final frontier of inappropriateness which I can not—ney, will not—cross.

I speak of . . . the public restroom.

In a time not too long ago, a public restroom was a place where one went, took care of business, and went on their way. There was no eye contact, no chatting with strangers (with the obvious exception of asking for a square to spare when necessary, of course), and certainly no subjecting fellow restroom goers to the every detail of your life.

But that has all changed. That last, final holdout of etiquette has not only been breached, it has been stomped to the ground and set ablaze. I ask you: How in the name of all that’s sacred did we come to the point in our civilization where someone thought it was okay to bring their cell phone into the public restroom and actually use it?!

Only yesterday I was in the restroom at HomeGoods and some mutton-headed idiot came in, chatting away with her boyfriend on her cell phone. She continued through my flushing of the commode, of my hand washing, and my overly loud hand drying. She continued through her own business (wink, wink), through her own flushing, and through her own halfhearted one-handed finger washing. As I glared daggers at her, for the first time in my life considering confronting a perfect stranger in public and illuminating their horrible misdeed, she breezily pushed on past me, never pausing in her discussion.

Oh dear Lord in heaven, what have we come to??

WHEN did it become okay to broadcast your business, not to mention the business of others, to whatever god-forsaken soul is on the other end of the line? When was it no longer an embarrassment to allow those you are having a phone conversation with to hear you enter the echoing confines of the restroom, to relieve yourself (which by the way, can not help but be an audible task), and to flush the toilet?

As far as I’m concerned, talking on the cell phone in a public restroom is tantamount to bringing a recorder, a microphone, and an audience with you. Why, oh why would you do that to your fellow restroom goers? What happened to modesty, discretion, and oh, I don’t know—common sense?

And by the way, what is so unbelievably important that you can’t call that person back in a few minutes? Or that you can’t wait outside until such time that this incredibly vital conversation is completed?

Is the person you are talking to about to be forced to walk the plank by Somalian pirates, and your ill-advised Big Gulp of hours earlier is in coming back to haunt you? Are you attempting to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the longest uninterrupted conversation via cell phone ever recorded? Are you trying to prove to the world that you are the most vile, unrepentantly rude person to have ever walked the earth? Really – that was the one you were going for? Well, congratulations, you’ve succeeded!

*Big breath*

Okay, so rant mostly over. If any of you are guilty of this, I beg you: please, in the future, have a teeny, tiny care for the unnamed men and women who are unlucky enough to have to use a public restroom in the first place: The ONLY call that has any business there is nature's!

So, am I the only one who is offended by this? What is your pet peeve?

I made the most fabulous 18th century recipe this week that I was planning on sharing, but in light of the topic, I felt if best to save the Chocolate Puffs for next week ;) See you then!