On another retailer in the penalty box

So, is there anywhere left to shop?

My Mom is an inveterate shopper at Sears. She tells me that she found out during a tirade with them (more on that in a bit) that she opened her Sears credit account in 1964. Pretty much every appliance she owns is a Kenmore, and a few years ago, she bought a Kenmore dishwasher. It has pretty much been a lemon ever since. It has broken four times, and has been repaired by Sears each time. Of course, they charge her roughly the price of the dishwasher each time they fix it, so I think all told she has paid about three times its original cost in repairs.

So it broke again. She called Sears to tell them what a lemon she bought and how annoyed she was that the thing needed yet another >$100 repair. The sympathetic person promised my Mom that they would waive some fees to make the bill a bit less. So, repair guy shows up, tells my father that he knows nothing of this waiver, and refuses to leave the house until my father gives him a check for the amount including fees.

My Mom called Sears to complain. They had a record of her call and a record of her being promised the fee waiver. However, they told her that they wouldn't refund her money. I'm sure my Mom was probably very obviously angry, but is it good customer service to refuse to honor a promised refund for a customer who has had your credit card for 40 years and owns one of each of your appliances? So she's done with Sears, and even though I've never been a fan, they're in my penalty box, too.

If you want to read more, check out the Consumerist's latest Sears horror story.

I haven't shopped in Wal-Mart, Sears, Best Buy, or Circuit City in ages. I've wandered in to a few of those places out of desperation, but I still have managed to escape without giving them any of my money. Looks like another Amazon Christmas!


On lost respect

I used to think Ben Stein was a smart guy.

No longer.


On Crocodile Rock

I went to see a show last night. Shan and I drove ~3 hours to Allentown, where we met my sister and her husband, and we went to the Chris Cornell show at Crocodile Rock.

I'm actually not a big fan of going to live shows, because even though I love live music, I hate dealing with obnoxious, drunk idiots that show up to concerts. For example, while we were waiting in line to be patted down (yes, really), a guy walked out of the bar, turned, vomited on the sidewalk right in front of about 40 of us, and then just kept walking down the street. I'll complain more in a bit, but first, a review of what was (crowd aside) another *amazing* show.

For those who aren't familiar (and shame on you if you don't run out to a store or go to iTunes right now to enlighten yourself), Chris Cornell is the former front man for Soundgarden and Audioslave, was part of the Temple of the Dog tribute to Andrew Wood, and he has put out a few solo albums and solo tracks on movie soundtracks. His height of popularity was in the early 90s, which is when I was an undergrad and investing most of my spare cash in CDs (and I don't mean certificates of deposit). I've been a big fan of his since then. What is amazing about his music is that he has an amazing vocal range (and he doesn't sing in falsetto). In fact, Wikipedia's article claims the note he hits in "Jesus Christ Pose"is G above high C, and that he's been known to hit A above high C. Now, when he's hitting those notes, he has his own unique style that is quite different than most folks that can hit them, but still, it's impressive.

During the show, he played something like 30 tracks. He had endless energy, going from one song right into another. He played something like 2 hours straight, and then an encore of about 30 more minutes. The set list was great, mixing Soundgarden (Outshined, Black Hole Sun, Ty Cobb, Rusty Cage...), Audioslave (Like a Stone, Getaway Car, Show Me How to Live, I am the Highway...), with his solo work. About halfway through the show he played the Temple of the Dog hit Hunger Strike, and the crowd loved it. I was just amazed to watch how effortlessly he makes hitting his highest and most powerful notes. I've always thought that Cornell was my generation's Robert Plant, and he threw in Zep's Thank You and Whole Lotta Love and they both sounded great.

I said going in that really the two songs I wanted to hear were "Burden in my Hand" (a likely pick, because it was a Soundgarden hit), and "Sunshower" (a really obscure song from the soundtrack of the movie "Great Expectations"). No luck with either. However, the first track during the encore was "Burden in my Hand", and then he went right into Sunshower. It was amazing. It was definitely worth the 2.5 hour drive there, the crappy crowd, and the 3am return home after the 3 hour drive home in a blustery wintery mix.

So, to end this gushing review, let me tell you why the crowd was so terrible. There were plenty of people there who just didn't care that they were at a show. During Chris' acoustic set in the middle, everyone was talking loudly over the music. A woman standing to my left was blathering on and on about a whole lot of nothing, and it was hard to hear the music over her voice. I just don't understand why people pay $40 to go to a concert and then don't even bother to pay attention. It was a general admission show with no seats, and plenty of people just pushed their way through all of us standing trying to watch. If I had the authority to revoke tickets and kick people out, I would have left only the fans, and we would have had a better show.


On my default topic

It has been 15 days since my last post, I know this is not the way to build an audience.

My excuse is the same -- I spend most of my time on my laptop working on my on-line courses, and this past week I had a grant proposal due on top of the usual grading load.

Tonight was a night off from the usual grind -- we had a big game in the league. We've been playing the bottom teams of the league, and haven't been challenged since our game against my old team. We did blow one game against a team we should have beat 3-0, instead, we only went 2-1.

So going in to tonight's game, we were 25-2. Tonight, we were playing a team that has won the league most of the recent years, but is behind their usual first place pace because they don't have a ringer like in the past. This game was tough and was a *lot* of fun. We played better tonight than we have all season, and although we let them stay in games, we won 3-0. I didn't pay too close attention, but I think all three games may have been 15-13. Really, though, the new attitude of the new team made the difference. Even when we fell behind a few points, I always knew we would win. So now, we're 28-2 and are comfortably in first place. This is a good feeling.

One of the team husbands took video footage of all three games -- it will be interesting to see how we look.