Archive for May, 2010

Was I Really at Fry's or in Some Alternate Reality?

frys_logoI’m a list person. Shopping at Fry’s during their 25th Anniversary celebration was not on my list on Saturday, but I guess I missed the huge ad campaign they supposedly ran promoting this event.

If I tell my kids that I have errands to run, and then ask them if they’d like to join me, their normal reaction is to just pretend they didn’t hear me, which is exactly what happened on Saturday.

“Okay then. I’ll just see you guys when I get back from Fry’s,” I said casually as I grabbed for my purse and started heading for the door, knowing full well what their reaction would be.

You would have thought I yelled “Fire!”

“Fry’s?! Wait! Hold on! Just let me finish this level. I want to go,” said both of my previously deaf children.

We drove down to Wilsonville and pulled into the crowded Fry’s parking lot to find…red white and blue streamers and…a petting zoo. WTF?

“Is that a llama in the parking lot?” my daughter exclaimed.

“No, I believe that’s a miniature donkey,” I said, wondering what the connection was between the petting zoo and the anniversary.

We skipped the petting zoo, and walked through the front door to be greeted by a Fry’s employee who handed me a raffle ticket to win some huge TV, and pointed me in the direction of the live music and free popcorn.

I had my list. I was on a mission. How dare they try to distract me with live music, free popcorn and mutant animals in the parking lot. I put on my blinders and headed straight to the cell phone kiosk with my daughter, while my son headed straight to the game aisle. We all had our priorities.

My daughter’s phone contract had expired with AT&T, and I had been pretty stealth about making sure the mailers that showed up in my mailbox weekly made it to the recycle bin before she had a chance to see them.  I was enjoying the fact that the contract was expired and I wasn’t beholden to AT&T at the moment. But, one day she went to the mailbox before I got home, and there it was: the AT&T mailer showing the latest touch screen phone that could be hers if I just signed a new 2-year contract.

So, here we were at the AT&T kiosk, two weeks before her birthday, Mom caving in. She walked right up to the AT&T display and said, “I want that one.”

We were quickly approached by a Fry’s employee who’s name rhymes with Bill.

“Listen,” I said. “Is this phone really free or do I have to sign up for some data package or messaging package to get it? Because when I went into the AT&T store they said this required a data package if I wanted it for free.”

Bill informed me that the AT&T stores operate under different rules than resellers like Fry’s, and that Fry’s did not require a data package, and by the way this particular phone was part of the 25th anniversary special and was indeed free.

Score.

“Great,” I said. “We’ll take it. And do you have a replacement battery for this Blackberry Bold? I know it’s considered ancient by your standards since it’s an older model.”

Bill walked us to the battery aisle, found a replacement battery and walked us back to the phone kiosk so we could complete our phone upgrade.

“I need this phone battery, because I’m leaving for Italy on Tuesday and I don’t want my phone to die every two hours,” I said.

“I’m going to Finland in a week,” he answered, and then explained that his brother had been signed to play on a professional football team in Finland, and he was going to visit him in some city that started with a “J”  and was a couple of hours north of Helsinki. “Oh, Jyväskylä?” I said, because it was the first city I thought of that started with a J. He said he thought that was the place, but I think he may have been thinking of the word “jalkopallon” which means football in Finnish.

Back to business. He started trying to upgrade my phone, and noticed the AT&T plan I had. “Wow. I’ve never seen this plan before.” He called his colleagues over to take a look at it, and they were all scratching their heads.

You see, I have a plan that AT&T doesn’t have listed on their website, doesn’t advertise, and would probably deny its existence if you called and ask for it. It’s $19.99 a month. I got it because I called AT&T to try to reduce my daughter’s monthly phone bill somehow, and I just kept pushing and pushing until I had whittled down the phone plan to the bare minimum. My daughter wants to text her friends. They all live in the 503 area code. That’s it. She can call and text anyone she wants in the 503 area code for $19.99 a month. Excellent.

Because this plan doesn’t actually exist in their upgrade screen it required some manual intervention, which gave Bill and I some time to chat. Turns out Bill is going to law school, and judging from the way he finagled that free phone upgrade I’d say he’ll make a fine lawyer.

We swapped out the battery in my Bold, moved the SIM chip from my daughter’s old phone to the new phone, said our goodbyes and went on our merry way.

Next stop, laptop accessories. I needed a power adapter for the airplane. No, not because I want to work the whole way. I have Rosetta Stone on my laptop, and I want to practice my Italian.

Need an extra storage card for my camera. Check.

Time to head to the check out counter, which as you know requires you to walk the gauntlet of temptation. Fry’s knows geeks and their children well. You came to buy a wireless router, but they know you have a weakness for peanut M&Ms while you install that router. They know you’re going to take that new XBox 360 game home and play it for hours, and you will need sustinence. And they make you wait in that aisle for the next available register, giving your will power ample time to crumble.

I quickly walked through the candy gauntlet, kids behind me saying, “Mom, can I get something,” to which I replied, “No, no and no.”

By the time we got out of Fry’s it was nearly 5pm and the petting zoo was gone, which begs the question, was it really every even there in the first place? Was there really a 25th Anniversary celebration or was that just my alternate reality that day? Was Bill really an adorable law student working at Fry’s for fun while he lived off student loans and got his law degree? Does professional American football really exist in Finland?

If I win that giant TV I got a raffle ticket for I’ll believe it was all real. Until then I’ll believe I was in the Twilight Zone for a few hours that day.

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Mother's Day is about Running, Friends, Shopping and Wine

I knew I was going to be spending time with my kids on Mother’s Day, so I took some time the day before to do what I wanted to do. Because, after all, isn’t Mother’s day about pampering Mom?

I got up at 5:30am on Saturday morning to do what I thought was going to be a 12-mile run. But when I met my faithful running buddies in the parking lot of the Centerpointe Starbucks, they informed me they had re-mapped the route and it was now well over 13 miles. “Fine,” I said, “Can you spare an Advil?”

It was a beautiful morning, and the route was fairly flat, so who am I to complain. I love my Saturday runs and my girlfriend time.

By 11am I had finished the run, caught up on all of the gossip, showered, and I was in a little private room at La Belle getting the hair ripped out of my legs by my favorite sadist Cindi. We meet for this special event about once every two months or so. I haven’t had to shave my legs since the 80’s. It’s a beautiful thing ladies. And guys, get that hairy back taken care of. Just take a Valium and have a friend drive you.

Two of my girlfriends recently mentioned a women’s clothing store called Barbara Johnson in Lake Oswego. It’s a samples clothing store, and well, it happens to be oh so conveniently located about a block away from La Belle. So after I got off the torture table I headed to check out this supposedly fabulous samples store.

I had heard that this store had samples from Pategonia and other activewear companies, and I was on a mission to get some quick-dry clothes that I could wear sailing. I explained to one of the women working there that I was looking for clothes that would look fabulous even after they had been wadded up in a little ball in a duffle bag and been out to sea all day. She somehow knew exactly what I was talking about and started to bring piles of clothes to the dressing room.

The one thing you need to be aware of at a samples store is the sizes are not true. They are samples after all. I tried on everything from a size 4 to a size 12. The DKNY Golf line size 12 was like a regular size 6. And the Exofficio size 6 was all over the map.

My favorite purchases: a black low-cut hoodie dress from Exofficio, navy quick-dry pants from Exofficio, and shorts and hoodies from Nautica.

As I was paying for my purchases I noticed the clock behind the counter. “Oh crap!” I blurted. “I have people showing up at my house in 15 minutes.”

I raced home and pulled into my driveway just as my friend Beth was pulling up to my house. I quickly got dressed as we waited for the third musketeer (Jim) to show up. We were spending our afternoon at the Sixth Annual Portland Indie Wine festival.

We had decided we would take a cab to be safe, so I called the Lake Oswego taxi service since I figured they’d probably have a driver in the area. Here’s how the conversation went after I dialed the number:

“Hello?”

“Is this Lake Oswego Taxi?”

“Yes. But not today.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m in California visiting my 92-year old mother in the hospital, so I’m not available. But I’ll be back.”

“Okay. But I need a taxi now.”

“Let me give you a tip…”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll just call Radio Cab. Thanks.”

Yes, that was the actually conversation.

We did finally get our cab, and we made our way to the Bison Building in NE Portland for the Sixth Annual Portland Indie Wine Festival. What a perfect venue! Forty wineries and 15 local restaurants providing fabulous food and drink in a light and airy warehouse. The sun was streaming through the skylights and it was just a gorgeous day.

There were 40 wineries and 15 food establishments to sample, and we only had three hours in which to get through them all. It was a daunting task to say the least, but we were up for the challenge.

The more responsible side of me knew we would be in a world of hurt if we actually tried to sample every wine from all 40 wineries, so we picked a few “must-tries” and started with those. I won’t ramble on about every wine we tasted, but I will say we had a most amusing time when we dropped the pretentious wine snobbery adjectives and started to describe the wines like we would describe a man.

There were the wines we didn’t care for: “Bag over the head.”

And the wines we did like: “Ooh, he’s still wearing pants, but I want to take them off.”

And the wines that were a bit too young yet: “I don’t want to date him right now, but he has potential.”

A wine with a stinky nose: “This one is like a software engineer who has been wearing the same shirt for five days.”

And the wine that just blows your mind: “Wow. This is 9 1/2 Weeks in front of the fridge with the fruit.”

We ran into some old friends, some new acquaintances and some people who just defy description in this blog.

And did you know that no one liked Mike Erickson’s previous girlfriend, and that he’s getting married to Nurse Katie over Labor Day weekend? And , wow that’s a big piece of meat! These are the kinds of conversations you will either overhear or be directly involved in when you are shoulder to shoulder in a room with a few hundred people with a wine buzz. Okay I confess, I was the one who made the comment about the big piece of meat, but get your mind out of the gutter. I was referring to a big hunk of meat that was being carved up on a carving board.

At 10 minutes before six we realized we only had a few minutes to get one last taste of a favorite before we would get kicked out. I opted for the Barking Frog Syrah.

We finally called a cab—Radio Cab not Lake Oswego Taxi—and when they finally answered the phone I said, “I need a cab at NE 10th and Flanders,” to which the dispatcher answered, “You’re at the Bison Building aren’t you. I’ve already sent all of my available cabs to that location. Just go outside and flag one down.”

Sure enough the first cab came down the street about two minutes after we walked out.

Beth and Jim and I climbed into the cab and reviewed the afternoon:

  • No one knew it was Jim’s birthday until right before we left, so I admit to being a lame friend when it comes to remembering birthdays.
  • Beth and I decided that the wineries need to hire hot guys to pour the wine.
  • Stiletto heels are not the best choice in a warehouse with a cracked concrete floor. We both opted for wedges.
  • It’s not against the rules to go back to the Moonstruck chocolate booth multiple times to “clear your palette.”
  • Not all men and women are like wine. Some age better than others.
  • The Cattail Creek lamb ragout, Bob’s Red Mill polenta and salsa verde at the Wildwood booth was heaven.
  • We want Phresh Organic chef Rob Leon to open a late-night food cart that serves nothing but the Griddled brioche, wild Oregon mushrooms, vintage extra sharp white cheddar and fresh goat cheese sandwich.

Take my advice and attend this fantastic event next year. And don’t make evening plans because you will probably too wiped out to keep them.

Inside the Portland Indie Wine Festival at the Bison Building

Portland Indie Wine Festival 1


Beth and I about halfway through the tastings.

Portland Indie Wine Festival 2

Hydrating at the end of the day. Kelly, Beth and Kevin (a work colleague of Beth’s whom we ran into).

Portland Indie Wine Festival 3


Always take a cab.

Portland Indie Wine Festival 4

Birthday boy Jim, who preferred kisses to spankings once we found out it was his birthday.

Portland Indie Wine Festival 5

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Dear Mark Zuckerberg, You Suck

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I thought we had a deal. When I joined Facebook a few years ago you promised me privacy.  When I first arrived on the scene I could keep my entire profile private, create my own little Facebook world if you will. I liked the fact that every status I ever posted didn’t show up on Google when I searched on my name. I appreciated the fact that I had control over my audience. Now you’ve changed the rules without consulting me and I’m not happy about it.

When I originally clicked Accept on your privacy policy when I joined Facebook, it said nothing about sharing my personal information on Facebook pages and partner websites outside of Facebook. You call this new feature “Instant Personalization.” I call it a complete violation of my privacy.

You falsely give the impression that I actually have the ability to opt out of this program, yet you continue to force me into the program even though I’ve opted out. As you can see by my Privacy settings I have unchecked the box that allows you to take my private wall postings and publicly display them on your partner websites:

Facebook Privacy Opt Out

When I try to opt out of your Instant Personalization program you threaten to share my information via my friends anyway!

Facebook Privacy

I have opted out of this Instant Personalization program yet you continue to threaten me if I don’t opt in. When you pop up a dialog that asks me if I’d like to link to 37 other pages on Facebook, and I refuse, you threaten to wipe out the personal information from my profile.

Facebook Warning

So, unless I bow to your wishes you will basically empty my profile of all of the information that I originally chose to post. If I link to the 37 pages you suggest, you will replace all of the personal information I have posted in my profile with garbage that you think I should have on my profile, based on your data mining of my status updates and current profile information.

This is not what I signed up for Mr. Zuckerberg. I am a public persona, and even I am appalled by your lack of respect for my privacy. If you Google my name you will find 20 pages worth of links to information on me. This is the information I want you to find. There’s a difference.

I hope your pilot program crashes and burns.

Sincerely,

Kelly Jo Horton

Social Networker

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