From Yorkshire To Virginia

Friday, November 24, 2006

Terror at Target

Following on from my previous post, I headed out of the house at 4.30 am, and headed to the local Walmart. Upon arriving there at 4.50, I noticed that the line was slightly longer than I'd anticipated... it was easily over 300 people. So I got right back in the car and headed to Target, knowing that I had an hour until they opened. Arriving about 10 minutes later, I was probably 50th in line. As time went by, people started leaving the line and going into the mall, some stores were already open inside, so we figured they were going there first, then coming back for Target. Well we noticed that they were instead forming another line at the mall entrance to Target, in the hope of getting a jump on the rest of us. Thankfully the Target staff realized this and didn't open that door until we were all in. Unfortunately this meant that these people instead pushed their way out of the mall back into our line (which wasn't as bad as those other people who showed up as the doors opened ad just walked in past everyone in the line...).

The throng of people pushing and shoving to get carts was too much, so I decided that I didn't need one and headed off to the toy section to get the Easy Bake Oven. Obviously Target had realizes that there would be a cart problem, as when I ran down the aisle, there were carts lined up, I grabbed one and kept going. There were plenty of the ovens left, as the other people were going for strange items like TV's and DVD players. I headed off to the bicycle area, to find that there were only 2 of the Barbie bikes in the store, I took that number down to 1, leaving the store with my purchases.

I still needed the SD card for my Palm T|X, so I headed off to Staples... WOW... more people there than were waiting outside Walmart, the same went for Circuit City, with both places being out of the SD cards. I had one more place to check, the slightly older Walmart on the way home. I went in and looked, they were nowhere to be seen. I bumped into a woman who was looking for the exact same thing, while I continued to look around the aisles, she went to ask a member of staff. Turning around I saw her waving frantically at me. They had placed the 1GB SD cards behind the counter and had plenty of them left at $13.87 each. I quickly picked up 2, 1 for the Palm, and one for the Camera, and left for home.

Next year, I'm having a lie in, although should I be in the market for a new plasma TV at $500 off for the first 5 people, I might, just might, spend the night wrapped up in a blanket sitting outside a store waiting...

Gwyneth Health Update

I took Gwyneth to see her nephrologist on Tuesday and we got the news that everything is going great. Gwyneth doesn't need to go back for another 4 months, and the doctor thinks that we should be able to get her completely off the medications by the summer (she's been off the steroids for about a month now).

What does a 5 year old girl want for Xmas?

A good question... Well, this year we've decided that we're cutting way back on toys, she already has so many that she doesn't play with (except for directly after we say we're getting rid of them because she doesn't play with them), so the only toys that we're getting her are (as mentioned in my previous post) an Easy Bake Oven, and possibly a new bike. However, there are a couple of toys that she's requested that I am going to go ahead and order over the internet... Gwyneth has requested that she get a Doctor Who doll, and to go with it a Rose doll. I guess I'm getting her indoctrinated the right way, although while she likes Doctor Who, and Chorlton and the Wheelies, she's not really a fan of Dangermouse. Interestingly, the Chorlton dvd that I bought her is the only one that I own that's a multi-region dvd - one where I don't have to switch the region on my dvd to play it.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

For those in the UK, yesterday was Thanksgiving. A day when almost everyone drives hours to see family, so they can eat copious amounts of food, and drive back fairly quickly to get ready for xmas shopping.

We went up to Maryland to see Kim's parents, at a restaurant about 1/2 way between both of our houses. So we had a 2 hour drive, followed by a 90 minute meal, followed by the same 2 hour drive in reverse (well we went forward, but you know what I mean) ;)

Today is a day known as 'Black Friday'. Following on from Wednesday 'The busiest travel day of the year', we have 'The busiest shopping day of the year'. Every store tries to pull people in buy doing things such as opening at 5am, offering limited edition specials (new laptops for $100, 1 per store, etc). The newspaper that came today was filled to the brim with special offers, mostly from 6am to 11am, 5am to noon, next 2 days, etc, etc. The UK equivalent of this would be the January sales (for the Americans, that's the post xmas sales that tend to occur in the new year to get rid of the crap that didn't sell before xmas). I don't really like the idea of the crowds, people pushing each other out of the way to get a chicken dance elmo for $5 cheaper than the day before, etc, etc. So I've never been tempted to fall for Black Friday.

Until today...

My mission is to hit Walmart at 5am, and hopefully pick up a 2GB SD drive for $30 ($70 savings) for my Palm T|X. Following that I'll be headed to Target for their 6am opening and a $13 Easy Bake Oven ($9 savings), and possibly some luggage for $60 ($40 saving) and a new 16" Barbie bicycle $48 ($12 savings), then over to either Staples or Circuit City for the 2GB SD drive should Walmart have not had enough in stock.

Wish me luck...

(oh, and with the stores opening in 4 hours, I don't think I'm going to get to bed tonight, so this should be lots of fun) ;)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Enterprise - we'll pick you up... eventually

On Thursday I called Enterprise and informed them that I was dropping my car off at the body shop, and that I'd need to be picked up at 5pm. The body shop is about 10 minutes from Gwyneth's daycare, so I figured that I had enough time to get her before they closed at 6.30.

I made it to the body shop at 4.50, and waited. The guy at the body shop called them at 5.10 to make sure they were on their way, they said they were and would be there really soon. I called at 5.30 and asked the same question... they said that she was almost there. I called at 5.45 to be told that she had left a long time ago and should have been there by now. I called at 6pm, and was told the same thing. I informed them that I had to get my daughter and would be late if she didn't get there soon, and I asked if they could call her on her cell phone. The guy on the other end of the line, who obviously believes in the Basil Fawlty style of customer service, just repeated to me in a louder voice that she'd be there soon. So I asked again if she even had a cell phone. Loudly he told me not to worry, and that she'd be there. 6.13 pm, she showed up, and drove me to the location that the rental car was parked at. We quickly went through the paperwork, and I got to Gwyneth's school at 6.48 pm...

I have yet to find out if her school has charged us the $1 per minute that we're late that they say they will, but if they do I'll be sending that bill directly to Enterprise Rent a Car.

End of season awards

Last Wednesday, Gwyneth and I headed out to Chuck. E. Cheese for her end of season awards ceremony. After the traditional feast of pizza and games, Coach Peters handed each kid a set of MASA 2006 fall season dog tags. Here's a pic of the team (well those who made it out that night).

Monday, November 13, 2006

I have some good news... I switched to Geico

So I got my re-up notice from my insurance company - Travelers - and the premium had jumped quite a bit. So, given the commercials I thought I'd have a gander at the websites of a couple of agencies that have been really pushing themselves.

First stop - Progressive Insurance - the company that says that they provide quotes from all of their competitors so that you can compare the quotes, and pick the best for you. Their quote was at about 66% that of the new quote from my current company. Taking a look at the quotes they provided, they were the best.

Second stop - Geico - despite Progressive saying that the Geico quote was higher than theirs, I wanted to just try and see if it really was. Well, after running through their system it came out at 50% of the new quote, so I went ahead and signed up with the company that has a British Gecko as their spokesanimal.

So what's the lesson? Well, my current company obviously feels that I'm most likely not going to go through the hassle of researching quotes, and signing up for new policy with someone else. Progressive has a great idea, but when compared to the actual source it doesn't stand up (unlike a site like Expedia that does match directly to the source). And Geico? Well, it's so easy even a caveman could do it...

Yorkshire Airlines

Thanks for this one Uncle Peter (and to Hale and Pace as well)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The end of the season

Today was the last game of the season, it was a make-up game for the rain out last weekend. Only 3 of Gwyneth's team showed up for the game, and 7 of the competing team. Gwyneth's team was beating the other team convincingly, so the coaches decided to let all of their players to come on at once, and go 3 on 7. It did indeed help, as the blues managed to score a goal (although the 3 greens managed to put 4 past them in the same period). :)

The Cat and the Horse

Saturday afternoon we went to the Beastie Bazaar in Upperville, VA. There we had a fun time, including a couple of hay rides, one with a tractor, one with shire horses. We bid on a couple of items in the blind auction, one a 2 night stay at a B&B, the other a birthday party for Gwyneth for next year. We'll probably hear tomorrow night whether we won them or not. There was also a craft fair, bake sale, and petting zoo. Gwyneth got to get her face painted, and pose with one of the shire horses.