pop the champagne

I say goodbye to 2011 and enter 2012 so angry and frustrated I just don’t even understand the point of… anything.

Oh, don’t get your panties in a bunch, this isn’t some suicidal cry for help. I’m way too lazy to be suicidal and I am not interested in help.

I’m just sick of blogging, and the internet, and social networking, and politicians, and big corporations, and people protesting big corporations, and everyone who wants things to stay the same, and everyone who wants to change things, and pretty much everything, especially Amazon. There are all these tools to facilitate communication but it is so noisy that nobody can hear anybody.

Each year passes and I get a little older and a little less tolerant.

Porch Swing.

Moonshine.

Shotgun.

GET OFF OF MY LAWN MOUNTAIN.

May 2012 bring you what you deserve.

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Selling Through Amazon Marketplace for Aggravation and Losses – Or, how to borrow stuff from idiots who sell through Amazon

Amazon encourages you to sell your stuff through them.  “Have one to sell?” They ask, with a lovely button directing you to “Sell it on Amazon”. They make it nice and easy. Then they encourage buyers to borrow your stuff and make you pay for it.

The smarter financial thing to do is not sell things on Amazon, but instead buy things from individuals on Amazon, and then screw them over. You can use Amazon to hurt people and make their lives shittier, all from the comfort of your living room, or church, as the case may be.

It’s awesome, right?

8/7/2011 A buyer ordered a new in box projector bulb from me.

8/8/2011 I shipped the item in a timely matter.

8/19/2011 The buyer messaged me through Amazon asking about a return policy, because it turned out there was something else wrong with the projector. Replacing the light bulb did not help.

I agreed to accept the return and provide a refund minus the original shipping fee and minus a 15% restocking  fee (as allowed by Amazon’s marketplace rules), as the item was sold and shipped to them new in box, and was no longer new in box. Honestly, it is no longer a salable item at all, because it is a light bulb and nobody buys a used light bulb and I can’t really guarantee what the buyer did with it. The 15% restocking fee is just a you get to have a little bit of money and give the bulb away to avoid it going straight to a landfill. Still, I was willing to accept the return. I also sent them some troubleshooting tips in case they could figure out what was wrong with the projector. I asked them to email me when they returned the bulb, and provide me with tracking information, so I could keep an eye out for it.
9/8/2011 The buyer messaged me through Amazon, a full month after I shipped a consumable good (light bulb) and acknowledged the terms of the return and said they were shipping it that day. Sure. Keep a light bulb for a month, possibly using it that whole time, and then return it. That seems totally fair and legitimate. Oh, wait, I am lying. It seems to me like it sucks. Whatever. They told me they would send me the tracking  information. They did not send me tracking information, but I kept an eye out for the shipment for the next week. It never arrived.

10/18/2011 The buyer messaged me asking if I got the light bulb and told me it should have arrived by the 13th.  I told them I had not gotten the package. I assumed they meant it was supposed to have arrived on 9/13, so I was concerned and confused. I asked for tracking information and got no reply.

12/9/2011 They messaged me again in December asking about their refund and provided me their phone number. I tried to call but didn’t  reach them. As it was a busy weekend, I did not have other chances to try to contact them.

12/13/2011 They messaged again finally providing a tracking number and said UPS delivered it on October 6th dropped at the front door. They said the item was insured and they would contact UPS if I had not gotten it. UPS said the shipment didn’t exist.

12/14/2011 I replied to let them know I had not gotten it and that the tracking number did not work. I asked them to please contact UPS.

12/15/2011 They replied with a corrected UPS number and said they would file a claim with UPS. Instead they immediately filed a claim with Amazon stating that the item was “NOT AS DESCRIBED”.

I responded to the claim with all that information.

If they had provided the tracking information in a timely fashion, I could have contacted UPS to ask what was happening with a package that was marked as delivered, but which I didn’t have. This happens sometimes, and they call the driver and ask where it exactly the package is. Sometimes it is just hidden from view, other times it was dropped off at the wrong house by mistake and it is realized as soon as the layout of the front step is described. I have no idea what the driver could possibly be expected to remember 2 months later. Still, they could have filed with UPS and been told, hell no, you need to file sooner, and then contacted me, to see what we could work out. Instead, they lied and said they would contact UPS, and then they immediate falsely accused me of selling and shipping items that were not as described.

12/21/2011 Without ever once contacting me for any further information, or to warn me that I’d better refund the amount minus shipping and minus the restocking fee that the the two of us had agreed to, back when it was being returned in a reasonable time and with proper tracking, Amazon just took all the money back from me, and gave it back to them. All of it. Including what I had to pay to ship it to them to start with.

It cost me money to let them have a light bulb for 2 months, and then never get it back.

Amazon has quite the nice setup for buyers.

I’m not a business that can absorb costs like this. I’m just a person, and Amazon customer myself, who got suckered into the idea that Amazon would be a better way to sell things I no longer need than using ebay, craigslist, or just having a garage sale. I’d have been better off just throwing the item away than using Amazon.

To top it off, every message sent by this buyer (a church) had the signature “HE IS , HE WAS, And IS TO COME”. I got scammed AND proselytized to. Thanks Amazon.

Shop Amazon Marketplace and screw over the sellers. They should have been advertising that heavier for the holidays. Still, plenty of people can take advantage of it in 2012. I’m working on a jingle for the commercials.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose
(like a light bulb that you use for two months then demand your money back)
And if you ever saw it
(but you can’t track it )
You would even say it glowed
(like a light bulb that you use for two months then demand your money back)
All of the other reindeer
(reindeer)
Used to laugh and call him names
(like “You fucking moron who sold through Amazon”)
They never let poor Rudolph
(Rudolph)
Join in any reindeer games
(like screwing people over because you’re a church, so you must be right and good)

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A Turkey of a Holiday

This year for Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I was sick.

Okay, that is a lie.

I mean, I was sick, that is true, but I was really pissed off about it.

Actually, even that isn’t true. I was so sick I wasn’t pissed off about anything. I was just blah. I was really blah, and as bummed as I could muster the energy to be, about being sick for Thanksgiving.

The week started out with a surprise sudden visit from my father, who sent me an email late Friday night while I was in Vegas (Vegas Baybee!) to say he needed to come down for business and would be arriving on Monday.

Hmm, maybe I should start back even farther. On Wednesday of the week prior to Thanksgiving I got the husband from the airport when he returned from China. On Wednesday night we had dinner with a friend. On Thursday morning we drove to Vegas. On Thursday night we hung out with friends in Vegas and ditto on Friday (more on that later). There may have been a lot of eating and booze consumption. On Saturday we expected to leave after lunch to head home. We did, but that ended up being almost 4 PM. Why were we heading back on Saturday instead of Sunday? Because we had a party to attend on Saturday night.

We drove into town, went home, ate a quick dinner and spoke to the teen monster, and said hello to all the animals, and then got cleaned up a bit, dressed and headed out to a party. We left when the police helicopter showed up. Don’t ask, I don’t know.

On Sunday we had somebody over for dinner (braised pork in a apple Zinfandel reduction). Then on Monday I picked up my father & co. at the airport and ate too much for dinner and dessert and stayed up late talking. Indy woke me several times in the night. It is always a crapshoot (sometimes literally) as to whether she sleeps through the whole nights, wakes me up once to go out, or wakes me up every hour for one reason or another.

My point is, that while I should probably not have been surprised to come down sick after all that, I was too out of it to notice that I was sick upon waking Tuesday morning. It wasn’t until I was about 50 miles into a 200 mile round trip with my father (decided to drive him to his business thing) that I realized I had a fever and all my skin hurt and my neck hurt.

By the time business was over (during which I napped in the backseat of my car) and we made it back home, my hair hurt, all my muscles hurt, my joints hurt, and my bones hurt. My stomach felt mildly gross, and I was too hot and too cold. I fell into bed and stayed there for many hours, until my stomach advanced to feeling incredibly gross, at which point I had to sometimes leave bed.

Around 24 hours later, I felt really, really bad, which was way better than I’d felt the day before. I decided I’d be fine to go pick up the teen monster instead of asking somebody else to do me the favor of picking her up (I’d already had somebody else take her). Clearly, I was still feverish and delusional, because I was in no shape to go pick her up.

I finally made dinner on Saturday night because it was the last night the people I originally invited for Thanksgiving could do it. I still didn’t really feel very good, so I had to scale back on a lot of things. I washed my hands A LOT, and tried really hard to be extra careful about everything, and used gloves a lot of the time too, but really, I worried that I was serving Plague Feast.

Anyhow – Menu (not overly traditional)

Caviar (with little toasts and creme fraiche)
Spicy Marinated Mushrooms, Garlic Stuff Olives, and Castelvetrano Olives (one my absolute favorites, even though my husband insists on telling the same lame joke every time I serve them. Frighteningly, some guests believe his joke.)
Salmon (with cream cheese, sesame toast rounds, capers, onions and lemons)
Cheese Plate
Sourdough Bread and Garlic Butter
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad
Cranberry Orange Sauce
New York Steak Cubes seasoned in salt, paprika and coffee, then wrapped in bacon
Turkey (prepared with a dry rub and the cooked on the BBQ grill with a Turkey Cannon filled with beer and garlic and oranges)
Rutabagas, Turnips, Parsnips, and Butternut Squash roasted in duck fat

I also made Egg Nog (and spiced rum) Ice Cream with Ginger Snap Cookies in it.

After I immediately made Turkey and Wild Rice Soup to send home with one of the guests. Mmmmnn, plague soup. Although he reported back that it was quite possibly the best soup he’d ever had, ever, and failed to come down with the plague. Maybe I just lightly seasoned it with plague. Kind of like eating perfectly prepared fugu, with just enough toxin there to feel it and remind you of life, without enough to kill you.

Anyhow, I did nothing at all on Monday, and did very little on Tuesday, and just tried to recover. I am finally feeling not too bad. Now I will post this, and finish making dinner, which is currently on the stove (and in the oven, and in the rice cooker).

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Keeping you in the dark, and feeding you shit.

So much going on; so little I feel like posting a word about.

Today I present a cheat post. I made soup for somebody, and they asked me for the recipe. I hate being asked for the recipe. I don’t hate it because my stuff is secret. I don’t hate it because it takes time to write something up. I hate it because it always makes me feel like a disappointment, because I don’t really have useful recipe information.

I have one friend who likes to watch me cook and try to write down a recipe for herself while I do it. She’s always asking me “how much” of something I used, or she gets distracted and misses a few steps and comes back and wants a recap. I just want to throw things at her (but I rarely do), because what I want to scream is “I DON’T KNOW!” which sounds pretty Alzheimer-y, since I just did it 5 minutes ago.

But I am usually working to feel, look, taste, or smell in the kitchen, so I am not paying attention to what I am putting into the pot, and the amount of it, I am busy focusing on what is already in the pot, and how it is changing based on what I do.

I rarely bake, because I don’t like recipes, and with baking, they are a lot more important.

Anyhow, I typed up something about the soup I made, that they requested a recipe for, so I might as well post it here too.

Mushroom Soup

I don’t like cream of mushroom soup, and never have, so this soup was not designed to be a cream-less cream of mushroom soup. I just wanted a mushroom-y soup.

I don’t cook with recipes and pretty much every thing I make is different each time I make it, because I try to use fresh ingredients. I design my menu around what I find at the grocery store, rather than planning my shopping list based on my menu.

So, I might know I’d like to make mushroom soup, go to the store and not find any mushrooms I think are fit to use, but usually I find mushrooms, it is just that the varieties that look best (or the price points) change which ones I want to buy. The qualities of the ones I end up coming home with, change what seasonings I use in the soup, since I am trying to enhance certain flavors.

So, the mushroom soup I made the other night, has the same basic idea as all my mushroom soups (mushroom + liquid blended together = soup), but the flavor nuances are totally different.

The other night was about a pound of crimini mushrooms (basically the common white mushroom, but slightly more flavorful), and one large grown up version, the portobello.

I sauteed a small amount of diced onions and 4 minced large garlic cloves in olive oil. I cleaned, sliced, and salted the crimini mushrooms, then tossed them in with the onions and garlic and drizzled more olive oil over it all.  Stir it up a bit then put a lid on it and turn it to low to sweat the mushrooms down.

Then I added some fresh rosemary. I don’t know how much, I do it until the pot smells like mushrooms and rosemary, but not so much that it just smells like rosemary. I can’t smell the onions at all, because I really do use a small amount, to enhance flavors but not make it at all onion-y. I could still smell the garlic, but it isn’t overwhelming the scent of mushrooms. Mostly it smells a lot like mushrooms.

Then I took it off the heat and begin adding chicken broth, which I often do from a box, but I happened to have made chicken broth from scratch recently and still had enough left.  I use an immersion blender to pulverize the mushrooms, and blend it all together into a thickened soup. I add the broth a little at a time, until I get the soup consistency that I want. I cook it in a much large pot than the amount of soup I want, so that I can do the blending without as much mess. It could be done in a blender too, but I have an immersion blender, so I don’t need to pour stuff into a blender and then back into the pot. I totally ❤ immersion blenders. I take it off the heat before I do this so that I am less likely to seriously injure myself when I splatter soup all over me. I always splatter soup all over me while using the immersion blender. Once it was the consistency I wanted, I sprinkled in a little paprika and covered the soup and put it back on low heat.

I chopped up the portobello into little cubes and in a pan and sauteed those with olive oil, salt, and a little bit of garlic powder. I often do this with a bit of bacon too, but didn’t for this particular meal, because it wasn’t a *”fat” Tuesday.

Then I stir that into the soup, so that there is more variation in texture than the blended up soup mixture had on it’s own.

That’s about it.  I do a bazillion other variations on it.

* The friend I was cooking for does WW and has a weekly weigh in on Tuesday morning. There is traditionally much extra “healthy” eating on Monday to prepare for weigh in, and then Tuesday is celebratory gluttony. When cooking for this person, I try to make point friendly meals most days of the week, and make meals on Tuesday night that would leave the meeting leader rocking back and forth in a corner muttering gibberish.

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When It Rains

Today I took Indy and Watson to go visit a friend. The friend has a big interesting yard with lots of things to smell, and since Indy spent time there before she developed CCD, she still recognizes it and gets a lot of stimulation out of being there, without any anxiety from being someplace unfamiliar. It is a nice safe dog park experience for her, where we don’t run the risk of running into a dog who might knock her over.

She even has a boyfriend next door. There is this sweet looking husky mix who lives next door, and they interact through the chain link fence, and he likes her and whines for her attention and she plays flirty little games with him, as if she is young again.

Today Watson wandered over the the chain link fence to meet the strange dog. He made friendly puppy body poses, but the other dog was suspicious of Watson. The other dog felt a bit territorial. So, he hiked up his leg and peed on the chain link fence. Except, you know, chain link fences are more air than substance, so mostly he peed on Watson.

“Eew, no. Watson, don’t just stand there. Stop peeing on my dog. Come on.”

Watson sniffs the chain link fence, and takes a step back, so the dog circles and lifts his leg and pees on the fence, and Watson, again.

“Nooooooo. Don’t pee again! Watson…”

Unluckily for me, dogs don’t mind being peed on as much as I might hope they would, so Watson had a great day, despite, or perhaps even partially because, he was peed on three times.

The afternoon was spent with dogs running and playing and sniffing and exploring, and finally I made my way home, to walk right into an educational clusterfuck.

See, one of the things about the online charter school is that they help educate students by locking the students out of their curriculum whenever the student does something it deems a lockout offense. For instance, if they fail a quiz, they are unable to move forward until they’ve spoken to a teacher and figured out what the problem is. In theory, this sounds kind of reasonable, but since the teachers often take a long time to respond, it really slows things down.

On Wednesday evening the kid spectacularly failed a chemistry quiz from the future. She finished her lesson, and the online program served up a quiz for a completely different lesson, that she had not yet been exposed to, so she didn’t know any of the answers. She guessed her way to a 42%. She couldn’t NOT take the quiz, because once you start the quiz, you have to finish it and submit it, or you automatically fail it anyway.

She immediately sent an email to her mentor teacher and her in person science teacher, because she already knows that they respond more rapidly than the online teachers do. She sent screen shots proving that she had not been given the correct quiz (in case it was a one time glitch), but of course, nobody replied until Thursday morning. The local teacher reported the problem to the online school, looked at the content of the lesson, and gave her a quiz that actually quizzed her on her current lesson material. She got a 100%. He then submitted the corrected grade to the online people.

By this morning, the online school still had not unlocked her chemistry class, so she still couldn’t do her chemistry work. At that point the local teacher stepped in an unlocked it for her, even though that is not the “procedure”. She was left unable to work on her class for more than 24 hours.

When I arrived home today, she had been locked out of ALL of her classes. Her teacher sent her an email telling her she would be locked out because she hadn’t turned in a form (where we initial a calendar saying what days she was doing schoolwork, even though the online program actually keeps track of all logins and the amount of time spent), but she had turned in the form on Monday. She was working on schoolwork, so she didn’t get the email until a half hour later, at 4PM, and by then nobody would reply to her phone calls or reply to her emails. This leaves her unable to do any schoolwork for the entire weekend. She started the school year late, so she is “behind” on schoolwork. Meaning, she is doing more than the required standard student minimum each week, but she is not currently at the point she should have been at had she started on day one and been completing the minimum each week. She is on track to complete everything by the end of the semester. Each day she is locked out makes a big difference, because then she has less days to cram this extra work in to. Plus, she has a friend coming in from out of town on Monday, whom she hasn’t seen in more than two years. Without being able to work this weekend, she basically cannot spend time with her friend on Monday.

It sucks.

That is what I walked into the door to discover, as I directed her to try emailing different people, and I emailed and tried to call people, and basically just frantically tried to get her back into her school program before the day was totally gone and there was no chance.

We had no luck, and finally she sat dejectedly down next to Watson for comfort. She snuggled her puppy and told him how frustrated she was. Then she said, “You always come back from his house smelling so doggy.”

“Oh,” I said, “he got peed on.”

“What?”

“Yeah. Three times.”

“You couldn’t have told me that before I hugged him?!”

“I was distracted by all your school stuff.”

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