January 24, 2009

  • Stillers, Here We Go, Yinz Guys!

    This pic proves that I was at the Steelers Pep Rally at Heinz Field—along with about 30,000 others! Our family braved the crowds and arrived about an hour and half before the rally. K wore her Polamalu jersey, I wore my Steeler ball cap,  L wore his Super Bowl shirt  from the last win, and Drew wore his black ‘n gold BOUND FOR GLORY t-shirt! And, of course, we swung our Terrible Towel lots.

    My favorite blue-collar band, The Clarks, rocked for an hour, and when the actual rally started, Ben Roethlisberger,  Jeff Reed, and James Harrison, among other players, showed. Ben talked!

    The mayor, who has officially changed his name for this period in time—from Ravenstahl to Steelerstahl, no lie—addressed us, as did County Executive Dan Onorato who was repeatedly booed a lot for his enactment of the alcohol “drink” tax in Allegheny County, even as he was saying “Go Steelers!”

    Pittsburghers have no shame. When they showed clips of the AFC Championship game, a bunch of guys yelled in our section, “Get the woman off the field!” when the female reporter appeared. LOL

    We were thrilled when our Steeler fan buddies showed up near the end—the Henriquezes!

    And then, as with any significant Steel City event, the sky exploded in color, over the city, over the rivers, over the stadium. We love our fireworks!

    That is friend, Jenny Au, to my left. She is wearing the PINK Steeler logo hat!

    The city seems to be adopting the phrase “Sixpack!” for the concept of getting the sixth Super Bowl ring, but I have also heard “Two for the thumb!” L suggested, “One for the nose!” I like that one best.

    ||||||  lynard

January 20, 2009

  •  
    Coupon studying and shopping have continued to be a big part of my consumer life. You can see that this week my coupon and sale savings were $91.91 at the local Giant Eagle—a bill that would have been about $235 was $144. On top of that I earned 30 cents per gallon off my gas for an accumulated savings of 70 cents per gallon. (When the tank is good and low, I will do a major “fill ‘er up!”)

    This shop included items that will feed my family over the next week or two, plus necessities that we will use over the next couple months.

    Some of the blogs that I read are:

    http://www.couponmom.com/
    http://www.moneysavingmom.com/
    http://www.thriftyfloridamama.net/

    These sites tell me what coupons to use when and even where to get things for free. Three things that I’ve learned more recently:
    1—I can usually get shampoo, dish detergent, and toothpaste for free or next-to-nothing.
    2—I should not clip coupons until I am going to use them. Web sites will tell me what issue of the weekend paper coupons to go to for finding a particular gem that matches a particular store sale. The most important thing is to date a circular and put it in a folder.
    3—With the combinations of coupons and sales, I can stock up on higher quality goods than if I just shopped at discount groceries.

    ||||||  lynard

January 14, 2009

  • Weird Things Happen to Chonda

    I particularly love the third story of Chonda’s on this clip. She never fails to make me breathe deeply and laugh heartily—must be healthy!!!

    OFF TOPIC:  The urban single mom in my Bible study wants a good definition of “fellowship.” She doesn’t understand what the word means. Do you have a relevant, 21st century definition for someone who is not very familiar with the Bible? I’ll be interested to see what you say.

    OK, here’s the true-life, screaming silliness from Chonda:

    ||||||  lynard

January 11, 2009

  • Gospel according to Gordon

    My dear, urban T being in Gospel choir at his rural, southern college is fitting. Here is one song I found on youtube.com from a concert last spring. T is in the front row. 
    ||||||  lynard

January 6, 2009

  • Bill Mallonee

    I followed Vigilantes of Love when they would do gigs in Pittsburgh long ago, and found Bill Mallonee’s lyrics provocative and satisfying. He now shuffles around from coffeehouse to backyard now with his new wife. There is no VOL. Mallonee has gone through some rough patches, and his theology has taken a trajectory that parts a bit from mine, but his lyrics still amaze me and his expression of belief still pierces my soul.

    His myspace says that the cost of his performances are heavily discounted for 2009, so this would be a good year to snag him if you have a venue that does that sort of thing. Here is a 2008 video of one of his classics:

    Blister Soul

    yeah, you got this place you go
    it's just a trip before the fall
    way past the fevered pitch
    but just a spit from the wreckin' ball.

    said you woke up this morning
    said you woke up under a curse
    I've heard the blues are bad
    but this is something worse

    and the ambulance driver
    well, he tips his hat and stares.
    and he asks you in a grave voice,
    "Can I take you anywhere?"

    Chorus:
    Yeah the thing we cannot speak of
    too painful to behold
    oh, this blister soul.
    oh, this blister soul.
    oh, this blister soul.

    there's a smaller place you go
    where there's hardly any sound
    where the deals have all gone sour
    and where the house of cards comes down.

    And the damage is costly
    is beyond all dollars and sense.
    You can't measure it with graphs and charts
    or any instruments.

    Chorus:
    yeah the thing we cannot speak of,
    the secret we all know.
    oh, this blister soul (etc...)

    yeah from the trumpet blast
    I hear the banging drum.
    yeah from once upon a time
    to the kingdom come.

    and the thing that's yours for free
    is the thing I need the most.
    stifles every boast
    stifles every boast.

December 26, 2008

  • Marshmallows and Merriment

    Drew had the bright idea of scoring marshmallow guns for our “little” kids. They shoot mini, fluffy treats across the width of the house faster than a speeding hunting dog. But then the opportunistic dog roots around for the spent ammo.

    Just in case you were wondering, kids 6-foot tall and larger shake the rafters a lot more when they are terrorizing their siblings with toy guns than when they were 3-foot tall…

      By the way, the ammo that comes with the gun is lame. The kids thought the guns were wimpy until D brought home the real marshmallows!

    A welcome precursor to Christmas is K’s birthday. This year she celebrated her 16th with her friend Bekah. I’m not permitted to share all the details, but it had something to do with making guys catch up on their Disney princess movies. Hee-hee.

    ||||||  lynard

December 19, 2008

  • TCS’ Snowball at New Hope PCA

    It is fun to see K not wear blue jeans or a basketball uniform for once…  L’s black shirt (underneath) lights up in different colors, based on sound sensors. He DJ’d for the dance. 
       ||||||  lynard

December 13, 2008

  • picnik.com: Free “Photoshop”

    While I have Photoshop at work, I do not always have access at home. That’s OK, because Photoshop can be a little obtuse and slow. The program is layered and sophisticated: five different ways to do the same operation if you can figure the nomenclature.

    Last month, I discovered picnik.com. I can quickly upload my poor-quality cell phone pics and play with them. Most operations take single clicks. I can crop, improve color and contrast, create special frames and effects. I can even write or “stamp” on my photo. Then, I can download it back to my desktop OR upload it automatically to a blog or social network, like Facebook.

    Here is an example of stamping silliness on picnik.com.

    Oh, and it is free and does not require a sign up, unless you use premium features. Cool, huh?
    ||||||  lynard

December 8, 2008

  • Thanksgiving Antics

     

    I remember the first time my husband took me home to meet his family—at Easter. It seems like only yesterday. I was in college and SO enamored with Drew and amazed at his marvelous, extroverted family. It made me more in love with introverted Drew all the more…

    So, how could it be that T is bringing home sweet friends from his college life? I found myself cleaning the house and cooking more, like my mother-in-law spoiled us every time we came, married or no.

    But T didn’t bring home my future daughter-in-law…yet.    He brought home these wonderful southern boys. Two of them had never been north of the Mason-Dixon line. We were able to produce snow for them upon their arrival. I had nothing to do with that, of course, but I tried to cook uniquely northern food—Pittsburgh pierogies with brats and fried onions, shoo fly pie, three corn bake, and cheesy eggs. My mom made English tea pudding with caramel sauce—a special family recipe from the Fish side.

    I just loved T’s friends. They are welcome anytime—even without T! You can see that they are nice young men, even if a bit silly. Erskine guys are class!

    ||||||  lynard

December 2, 2008

  • Old Navy Cyber Monday

    I got an email early in the day that said that Old Navy had free shipping and 20% discounts on orders today. Just today.

    Excited, because Old Navy has lots of TALL sizes online, I hoped to get a little Christmas shopping done. You can imagine my increasing excitement when I realized that a lot of the stuff I wanted was on sale—and the 20% off would apply to those items, too!

    I started shopping after dinner, filling my shopping cart with careful deliberation. Then, without warning, I got my first migraine of the year. My vision went crooked and blurry, and I reluctantly saved my shopping cart and took the ibuprofen that K brought me and went to bed for a spell.

    When I awoke, thankfully functional, I continued adding to my Old Navy shopping cart—collecting sizes, preferences, fussing over detail. The deadline for the offers was midnight, so I started checking out at 10 p.m.

    When I checked out,  it made me save my information and open a customer e-mail account, which I resented. Then, there was only one field to accept a PROMO code.  I was disappointed, because I was under the impression that I could use the 20% AND the free shipping. I typed in the 20% code because it was the biggest saver. A message pops up over the “Place Order” button: “You must use an Old Navy credit card to use this promotional code.”

    Panic.

    Opening extra windows, I checked the details of the promotion—no mention of an Old Navy credit card. I was frustrated. It appeared that if I clicked the “Place Order” button, my credit card would be charged a considerable amount of cash, plus shipping. I was stuck with hours of thoughtful shopping in my cart, a cyber Monday deadline, and the need to get some work done on other things. I scoured the Old Navy site for help, careful not to delete my beautiful shopping cart. I found a customer service number.

    When I first called customer service, jumped through the menus, and got put on hold with music, I put my cell phone on speaker. After 5 sessions of music and announcements about my call being answered in the order it was received, the music stopped. Dead. My call appeared to have been aborted.

    I called back. I was steamed now. It was 10:20 and I had better things to do. I had spent so much time on this order and if it didn’t work out, if my call was never answered, it was all a waste. I looked back at the computer screen and considered clicking the “Place Order” button. Maybe I would get a chance to enter more PROMO codes before it was charged to my credit card.

    I decided this was  not likely and called Customer Service one last time.

    This time I hung on even when the line went “dead.” In a minute, a voice came on to ask me to hold, then it went dead again. The whole time I held, I was steaming angry. I had spent so much time on this. I tried to get some work done on my students’ papers while I waited, dreaming about the nasty letters I would write to Old Navy.

    About 20 minutes later, I got a real person. A real, kind person. She had a bit of a Southern accent. She offered to just place the order herself, even though the web site said the promotion could only be realized online. She thought I could use both item codes. She told me NOT to click the “Place Order” button. She said Old Navy had been very overwhelmed with customer response and the system was a bit taxed. I started reading her the VERY LONG item codes that were in my shopping cart—seems she couldn’t see my cart. Then, I gave her my customer info all over again.

    When I was done, the order was almost a third less than the sale prices of the items in my cart.

    The kind customer service person said, “Thanks for your patience!”

    I said, “Oh, I have not been very patient up until now, but you have made everything better!”

    I wish I had taken her name and written her supervisor. I had felt my blood pressure decrease by a dozen points. Competence and kindness is a balm for many kinds of wounds. Thank you, whoever you are.

    By, 11 p.m., I was thinking maybe I wouldn’t boycott Old Navy.

    ||||||  lynard