Why I Am a Mac Snob and Proud of It

MacBook apple logo

Last week as I was working on my MacBook, it froze. When I tried to reboot, the computer offered me a white screen. I couldn’t get it up past the white screen.

I didn’t panic because I knew the guys at the Genius Bar at the Apple store could help me.

And this is the primary reason that I psychotically love Mac products: those Geniuses at the Genius Bar.

Oh sure, I could tell you that I love the sleek, clean, and streamlined look and feel of my MacBook and my iPod Touch. And I do. Oh, I do. I could also tell you about my love for the intuitive navigation around Mac OS. I may also bring up the fact that I don’t worry about viruses. And, it’s true. All of these things endear me to the Mac camp.

But it’s access to unparalleled customer service that makes me so satisfied.

The Genius at the Bar last week helped me with my MacBook and its white screen. A few checks and he pronounced: “a failed hard drive.”* The computer was out of warranty, so  replacing the hard drive and restoring it to factory settings (now almost 4 years old), would cost about $230.

“But,” he said, “you could change out the hard drive yourself, and I’ll show you how.”

Would you believe, he totally walked me through everything I needed to do to order the hardware, install it, and order, upgrade, and install memory? All of that for $100! He said that once I had all of the new upgrades in place, I’d have the equivalent of the latest and greatest machine.

I was blown away at his forthright and candid help, his patient instruction, and his keeping my best interests at heart.

As I thanked him profusely, I declared loudly, “This is why I’m a Mac customer. And this is why I’ll always be a Mac customer.”

And you know what? I did it. I replaced (and upgraded) my MacBook’s hardware and memory—and saved $100-something doing it myself!

Thanks, Genius Bar.

*Post forthcoming on the importance of backing up data on a regular basis because hard drives will fail. Thankfully, we do back up on a regular basis.
I was not compensated by Apple in any manner for writing this post (I wish!). I simply adore this company and these products and think everyone should convert to Mac. And when I experience good customer service, I like to tell others about it.

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Political Pondering

Last week was Tennessee’s primary election for Governor. We also voted on some other races and positions. 
The political fervor and rhetoric reached a fever pitch last week with campaign commercials dominating television locally, California’s Prop 8 being overturned, and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s being approved and sworn in.
Times like these always get me thinking. My most recent pondering: 
Why is it that “Liberals” advocate the increased role and presence of the government in every area of people’s lives except those having to do with personal (some may say, moral) matters? 
and …
“Conservatives” fight and reject the government’s oversight, regulation, and legislation of anything pertaining to their lives except when it comes to highly personal (some may say, moral) matters? 
Just wondering. 
What do you think?

~~~

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I Want to Be Famous?

I’m mad at Nickelodeon right now. 
As if The Fresh Beat Band, Dora‘s whiney-tail screaming, and the disrespectful dialogue from The Fairly OddParents weren’t enough, now I have new reasons to despise the Nickelodeon Marketing Department. 
I’m convinced those marketers are simultaneously brilliant and evil, as they plot their next big marketing campaigns:
“Should we play the promo 15 times during each commercial break?” 

“No. Let’s go for 25. That will really drive the parents bonkers and securely cement the product into the minds of the toddler-something crowd.”
Sadly, I don’t think I’m terribly off the mark. 
The latest to fall under the gaze of my scrutiny? Big Time Rush and their song, “Famous.” If you’ve watched Nick for 30 seconds within the last month or so, you’ve seen the song. 185 times. Or more.

But in case it has escaped you, I offer it here for you now. 
 

Now, my husband would say the musical quality (or lack thereof) alone disqualifies the band (if you can call it that) from recording songs. He chalks them up to wanna-bes who are programmed and manufactured. 
I don’t know. I’m sure they are. My ears are not quite that discerning. I just cringe that the bankrupt-of-values song lyrics are set to such a catchy tune that one must hear 185 times a day—which makes mimicking a snap for my five-year-olds. 
As I try to teach my kids other-centeredness, humility, and the benefits and blessing of servanthood, these guys are singing about how the object of life is to “see your name in lights.”  They say a perk of being famous is “cut[ting] to the front of the line” and “tak[ing] a free ride.” Being famous is the “American dream” and it means “that you’re the best.”

I really don’t expect Nickelodeon (or any media or culture outlet) to instill in my kids Christian values and ideals. I shouldn’t think they’d exercise restraint during a promotional campaign.

But I would hope (stupid of me, I know) that Nick would take its responsibility a bit more seriously. Especially when I don’t see much (if any) value in “being famous.” 

Let’s review the price of fame during the last year, shall we? Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, Lindsey Lohan, the Gosselins. And those are just the ones off the top of my head.

Nick, you have a greater responsibility than just selling programming or records. Could you find something else to sing about? Something other than one of the main contributors (in my opinion) to celebrities’ broken relationships, addictions, and self-destruction?

No thanks, Big Time Rush. I don’t think I want to be famous.

~~~

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My Love/Hate Relationship With Kroger

I have written before about the incompetent bagging abilities of the Kroger baggers. I still battle weekly with multiple gallons of milk in one bag, while chips and salad land in another. I’ve tried talking to the baggers. That usually results in two cans and a bag of chips in one bag. I give up.

My Kroger experience last week, however, was rather unbelievable.

I stopped at the other Kroger a few miles from the one where I regularly shop. I wanted to grab a salad from their salad bar. I made my salad and packaged the dressing in a separate container (small Styrofoam cup with a plastic lid). I grabbed a handful of napkins, plastic fork, plastic knife, and two small packages of crackers.

I had to grab a couple of other items from the store. I then proceeded to the U-scan checkout lane.

I noticed the Dwight Shrute of Kroger watching the U-Scan aisles like a hawk. I zapped all my items except for the small tub of salad dressing, cutlery, napkins, and crackers. For a moment, I thought, Am I supposed to ring up the dressing? Nah, I decided.

My order came to around $10. I paid and picked up all my bags. I looped them on my arm and stuck my check card back in my purse. I turned to pick all the “extras” out of the arm basket sitting beside the scanner, when Dwight walked over.

Before I could pick up my items and stick them in the bag, he began to interrogate me about my attempt at theft.

“Ma’am? What’s this?” He picks up the small container of salad dressing.

“Salad dressing.”

“Well, you need to pay for that. That is considered a salad bar item.”

“Oh, really?! I had no idea.” I answered, kind of incredulously. “What about the crackers?”

And then, as if to throw me a bone, “No. The crackers and forks and napkins come with it.” (Oh, gee, glad you can part with the napkins, there, Kroger.)

“OK.”

I then re-shuffled heavy bags and my purse and dug back out my Kroger card.

Remember. I’ve already spent $10.00.

(Salad bar items are priced per pound. So the scanner weighs your item and charges accordingly.)

I picked up the container (so very light that it was), and Dwight said, “I don’t know. It may not even register.”

Well, genius, if it won’t register, then why even bother, I said thought.

I plopped it up there and punched in the buttons.

Thirty-two cents.

I was about to rob Kroger of thirty-two freaking cents.

And he stood there while I dug out a quarter, nickel, and two pennies from the annals of the abyss that is my purse. And I enjoyed every minute of my digging and searching and sighing as I scavenged for each coin while hanging onto three bags of groceries and a 12-pack of Diet Mountain Dew.

Because—God forbid—I get away with $.32 salad dressing.

Kroger: In my lifetime, I’m sure I have spent more in your store than I will ever see in my savings account. Could you not just let thirty-two cents go?

Image: morguefile

Another Library Rant

I love the library system. The whole process of borrowing informative materials is wonderful.

Our local branch library, however, is the armpit of Bellevue as I have proclaimed here previously.

I don’t know why I was surprised today to be stalled by the Barney Fife of the Bellevue Library at my attempt to check out a book.

Chris had asked me to pick up a book that he had on hold. Numerous times, I have checked out his book on my card from the circulation clerk who looks a little bit like the stapler dude in Office Space. This has never been a problem.

But today, I was called on the carpet by Barney, who inquired, “Are you an approved user on his account?”

Oh, once again, a library policy—that I HAVE NO IDEA EXISTS—catches me off guard.

“Uh, I dunno.”

He checks. I’m not.

“I’m sorry. You’re not an approved user. I can’t check it out for you. You can speak with the manager.”

I was in a hurry so I just shoved the book back to him. “No. I can’t stay any longer. Can you just re-label it and put it back on the shelf and I’ll have my husband MAKE ANOTHER TRIP OVER HERE to get his book?”

I stomped out, fuming.

But then I considered this all-important policy and decided that surely it thwarts all kinds of mischief and destruction of library property.

I mean, who doesn’t realize that the best way to get back at someone is to peruse the hold shelf at the library, find that person’s book, check it out, and then NOT RETURN IT ON TIME? Ooooooooo. Now that’s some real treachery right there that needs to be nipped in the bud. I’m sure the rate of unauthorized check-outs and non-returns was epidemic to create a new policy.

Good gravy.

Save me from the Bellevue branch library. 

photo: morguefile

If I’d Only Found Him in 1995

As Chris and I chose music for our wedding, I was adamant that My Favorite Song be included.

My favorite Christmas carol is also My Favorite Song: “O Holy Night.” I love the minor tones and the extreme range of highs and lows. The lyrics beautifully capture the most important event in human history. Really, I could think of no other song more appropriate to mark the most important day in my life.

Chris would have nothing of it. That would be because we got married in the summer. On July 22.

I still maintain it would have been perfectly fine and who the heck cares anyway? It was my wedding. I have witnessed far more shocking things at weddings (sweatpants and baseball caps, for one; yes, I did) than the singing of a so-called unseasonal hymn.

But, anyhoo, I still harp on my dashed musical dreams every Christmas as I enjoy My Favorite Song each year.

I also enjoy this rendition. I only wish I had found this guy to sing at my wedding fourteen years ago. Certainly Chris would have relented, if I had suggested this version.

Begging for Accurate Communication!

Last year, I stumbled through kindergarten with partial information most of the time. I missed a few things, never got on the automated call list, and was cursed for car-line infractions due to my ignorance.

I have to say that I thought last year’s communication process was just short of terrible. I don’t blame our teacher; I think she did a good job communicating with parents. I think it was probably a top-down problem.

And, I know. I know the elementary school isn’t a well-oiled PR firm. But, really, people. I don’t expect much. Just laid-out guidelines for things that involve safety (like the car-rider line), an updated school lunch menu (how many times did I download the same menu from the week of April 4 until I just finally gave up?), and accurate dates.

I mean—this is part of your job. Communicating to students and parents. I really had high hopes that a new year would bring communication reform.

Silly me!

On the first day of school, the kids bring home folders with the entire school year dates listed on the back. Prior to that, I had downloaded the Metro district-wide school calendar. Yes, I am that geeky goober mom who sits down with five calendars and highlighter pens and marks every holiday, day off, and parent-teacher day.

And so, I marked Thanksgiving Break for Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27, on our calendars. First: from the Metro print-out and then I double-checked the dates against the first-day folder list.

Imagine my surprise when I discover TODAY that school is OUT on Wednesday.

Hmmmpft.

Not sure when the change was made or who made it. But I would have liked to have known about it.

Really glad I found out today, rather than Wednesday morning.

My Christmas Shopping Complaint Against Toys ‘R Us


Dear Toys ‘R Us,

Do you KNOW how much money I have spent in your store and your sister store, Babies ‘R Us, since early 2003? Thousands and thousands of dollars, I tell you.

Do you KNOW how much money I would have spent in your store during the next–oh, say, six or eight years or so?

I’m not sure, but you’ll never know, either. Because of ten lousy dollars. Ten dollars, Toys ‘R Us. Because ten dollars is NOTHING to you, but it’s important to me.

I dutifully took the marketing bait this week, as I held onto the TRU flyer that came in my mailbox a few days ago:

This weekend ONLY! Friday night and Saturday morning ONLY! A sale. A sale that featured a $19.98 digital camera for only $9.99.

I thought that would be a perfect gift for our six year old daughter, who is obsessed with taking pictures but is not allowed to use my digital camera after she dropped and broke a camera of mine.

At $10, she can give it a try. If she is careful and enjoys photography, we may upgrade next year for a nicer camera. Heck, we may have even purchased it at TRU.

Today, the sale ran from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. It was 10:30 a.m. and I made a special trip to TRU for this camera.

OK–never mind that I didn’t have time really for this today because I’m still up against my writing deadline. Never mind that I had to wander the store trying to figure out where the camera may be. Never mind that I really lost a good half hour of my life that I’ll never get back.

(All of those particulars have nothing to do with TRU, but I throw them in here to show just how annoying this whole scenario was. I didn’t have time for this nonsense today.)

I finally landed in the electronics department. Armed with the flyer, I approached the sales clerk.

“Excuse me? Can you tell me where I can find this camera?”

She looked at it. “Let me look in the back and check the computer.”

She was gone a long time. A very long time.

“Ma’am? We are sold out.”

“Oh.” I waited for a consolation offer. None.

So I piped up, “May I get a raincheck?”

“We don’t do rainchecks.” Um, OK.

“Well, may I have a comparable product for the sale price then?” I thought that was a reasonable request. Most stores (home goods, big box, electronics) will price-match and honor competitors’ ads. I was in their store. I would buy from them. In. Their. Store. Hey, even Kroger substitutes brands to honor a coupon!

“Hmmm. I’m not sure. I think you’d have to do it with a product that is that same original price.”

“Oh, sure. That’s fine. I’d just like a comparable product.”

“Well, let me check with my manager and make sure.”

“OK.” I was confident the manager would agree. Heck, maybe they’d even throw in some Spongebob stickers or a Dora lollipop for my inconvenience.

The clerk returns.

“She said, ‘no’.”

Stunned, I said, “OK.”

And I marched right out of Toys ‘R Us, determined to never return.

Uh, you know, we are only a few weeks into the Christmas shopping season. You know that I have options, TRU. So many options. And I’m confident I’ll be able to get a great deal on a digital camera on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or later.

And I have a blog. I am a mom. With lots of friends who have kids who play with toys and wear clothes and watch videos.

See, TRU, here’s the thing. Your keeping $10 just cost you thousands. Because had you honored my request, I would have bought a carrying case to go with the camera. And a huge chunk of my kids’ Christmas presents this year and next and the next. And birthday gifts and swimming pool toys.

And I would have blogged about how awesome you were to all my mom friends.

But now?

Not so much, Toys ‘R Us. Not so much.

Kroger Grocery Baggers and How George Costanza Relates to Grapefruit: Tonight’s Random Rants


I love my Kroger reusable grocery bags. They are practical and sturdy. The handles are roomy enough to sling the bags over my shoulders.

The Kroger baggers, however, need to heed my bagging instructions.

Do NOT bag “like with like.” When you bag three 2-liters together, I can’t lift it. When you bag two 10-pack juice boxes with one 2-liter, I can’t lift it. When you bag two gallons of milk, I can’t lift it.

When you bag a bag of chips, a box of plastic sandwich bags, and a bag of croutons together, I become angry.

Proper bagging technique is this: a heavy item on the bottom, a few medium-weight items in the middle, and a light item on top.

I’m happy to give you a bagging demonstration, if needed.

~~~

I’m concerned that each time I want to slice a grapefruit in order to scoop the fruit with a spoon, I always cut it in the wrong direction.

It’s most troubling to me since I analyze and contemplate the cut—convinced I’m doing it right—only to discover that I’ve done it wrong again.

I think I need to follow George Costanza’s lead in the “The Opposite” and just do the opposite of my initial impulse.

At least when it comes to cutting grapefruit.

(This clip makes me laugh out loud. I post it because I really need to laugh out loud tonight.)

~~~

My kids sucked me dry today and I am in the middle of Diet Failure.

Here’s looking forward to reset and reboot tomorrow.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Before I had children, I was such a good mom. I think a book was published a few years ago by that title or something similar. I only wish I’d thought of it first. It’s a sentiment that resounds loudly with me and most moms (if they are being honest) I know.

I mean, I had it all figured out: the “right” things to do and say to make my kids into perfect little angels.

I was so self-righteous.

Ironically, I’ve become the woman I used to judge. Because parenting—especially Christian parenting—isn’t quite so cut-and-dried.

I’ve now had a solid week to evaluate and ruminate over the oft-debated, sometimes controversial, issue of Christians’ celebrating and observing Halloween. We did celebrate it this year—and will continue to do so—and I think now I can articulate our reasons why and how they relate to our faith.

Growing up, we always celebrated this holiday with costumes and jack-o-lanterns. It was fun and always a family time with my aunt and uncle and some of their friends.

As I entered adulthood, I began to encounter Christian parents who chose not to celebrate Halloween. My goodness. I had never heard of that before! They cited the pagan roots and rituals from which Halloween came as their reason to shun the holiday.

Well, of course, I decided then and there that I would not partake of such evil, and my children would not, either.

And then I had kids.

As with most decisions of this ilk, I was determined to explore the issue and come up with my own defense as to why we would or would not celebrate this holiday.

Could we celebrate in good faith? Could we trick-or-treat to the glory of God?

We did decide the answers to those questions were “yes” and “yes,” based on a soup of various experiences and convictions:

The first year we opened our door to hand out candy to our neighbors, I loved—absolutely loved—the community feeling. I loved chatting with neighbors and seeing cute little kids and meeting new friends. Like it or not, we in our neighborhoods rarely visit those who live closest to us. Our family tends to run in the same circles, and though we are called to be salt and light to those around us, I fear we rarely are because we just don’t get into the lives of those around us. Halloween night is a terrific opportunity to meet, laugh, and love on your neighbors.

After that first night of camaraderie and community, I decided that indeed it was a picture of the gospel. We gather with neighbors and caravan trick-or-treat through the neighborhood. We have the best time laughing and talking and eating and drinking. We are investing our lives in our neighbors, many of whom are not Christians.

I think the context of Halloween has changed such that deciding not to participate in a contemporary event based on how it began 2000 years ago, is kind of like abiding by Paul’s admonition that women should not have braided hair or wear gold. Contextually and culturally, the roots of the holiday are irrelevant. (Yes, I know that there are those people who practice witchcraft and celebrate such occult aspects on Halloween. But aren’t there persons who don’t believe in Jesus who celebrate Christmas? Should we not celebrate Christmas on that basis?) Halloween was adopted by the Church in an effort to redeem it. I say, let’s continue that redemption and reformation, Christians! And to be consistent, if one chooses to abstain from Halloween based solely on its pagan roots, then one should also not celebrate Christmas and Easter and throw out their calendars, as the months of the year and days of the week derive their names from pagan gods and goddesses.

• Abstaining from Halloween because of its “evil” associations is for me a stumbling block. That’s right. That abstention actually contributes to my sin.

I am such a Pharisee at heart that I’m quick to grasp anything that may make me feel superior or more holy or more righteous. I want to point to one something that I do or don’t do that shows everyone else I’m a Christian—and a good one at that. For me, it’s much more humbling and a greater exercise in dependence on Christ to participate within the boundaries of Christian liberty. It stretches me more as a Christian (and as a Christian mom) to participate while teaching the children about freedom in Christ and doing all to the glory of God.

We’ve had discussion after discussion with our six year-old about the difference between the delight, fun, and creativity associated with dressing as a make-believe fairy or princess as opposed to celebrating or calling attention to evil or demons. So, even within the parameters of the celebration, we are able to give Christian lessons.

• We also observe Reformation Day on October 31 with our kids. In 1517, Martin Luther set the Protestant Reformation into motion by nailing his 95 theses on the Wittenburg Castle door. That one act forever changed the Church and all of civilization.

I read an interesting post that has been floating around the Internet since 1996. Basically, it states that Halloween’s pagan origins have been grossly misunderstood and Halloween began as a Christian celebration of Christians mocking at Satan as he is defeated by Christ. I certainly applaud this sentiment. The problem is that I’m not sure if it’s true or not. I question the guy’s scholarship because I can’t find any original source anywhere. I will continue to research this, though.

Finally, I do not judge nor condemn parents for any decision they make for their family. For Christians, we are free in Christ. Whether you sit at home on Halloween night, take your little princess and pirate to the church fall festival, or trick-or-treat with the neighbors and roast marshmallows at a bonfire, it is a matter of personal conviction.

As with most everything in our self-gratifying, idol-worshipping, need-meeting culture, all holidays have become sensationalized and commercialized. Redeeming the holidays with a focus on something other than self and acquiring more, more, more! is a daunting task. But I think God calls us to be culturally relevant without compromise of conviction. Let us not forget that he has ordained all, including the time and place in which we live.

Photo credit: flickr.com by solyanka