Archive for the ‘Mishaps’ Category

Warranty Beware

Since Apple introduced a new iPhone, the other – now less-desireable – iPhones dropped in price. And since our phones have been about two numbers behind, it was time to upgrade.

So we upgraded. Now my phone is only one number behind the current phone. I hope to be able to make it to three less than the new phone eventually.

In the process of buying the phone, however, the guy (not sure if he’s a cashier, customer service representative, salesman, or what) recommended we buy the protection plan. A warranty for the phone – in case anything happens to it, it would get replaced. These newer phones are thinner than our older phones, so I figured they might be more easily bent or broken. Plus the screen is larger, which means more area to be damaged. So a warranty/insurance policy made sense.

I asked the guy how much it cost, and he said $10 a month per phone. I agreed, and we continued with the transaction and getting our phones switched.

We got our phones, and everything was fine.

About a week later, I got a message from the phone company telling me I should activate my protection plan.

Activate? Shouldn’t insurance just be there? There shouldn’t be anything to activate…

So I went to the website and found the descriptions of the protection plans.

It turns out the $10/month plan is insurance plus tech support.

The insurance-only plan was $6 or $7 per month.

And the deductible was half the price of the phone. My thought behind the insurance was to avoid paying anything to get a replacement phone.

Can you imagine if car or house insurance worked that way? Your $20,000 car is totaled and you have to pay $10,000? Or your house burns down but the insurance will pay only half the value?

But this story turns out well – I was able to cancel the protection plans online. No having to talk to anyone!

I know, I know – we are treading on thin ice by not having replacement phone insurance. But we’ve lived this long without insurance, and we kept our old phones (they were going to give us about $30 for the phone) so if the new phones are damaged we can just swap SIM cards and keep going.

Learn from My Mistakes
1. Ask what other plans there are.

I did not, so I didn’t know that I had signed up for the middle plan, which had me paying for things I didn’t want.

2. Ask what the deductible is.

If it’s a significant fraction of the price of the phone, just use the money you would have spent on the insurance each month and instead buy municipal bonds. Or something. Pay yourself that money and invest it and you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

A decent phone case is worth the money, so buy that and consider that your insurance.

But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation.

Leviticus 27:13

Customer Service Answers

We have been having trouble with our trash service. I figured it was because we moved and I didn’t know exactly where to put the trash can so the garbage truck could find it.

When I called to start the service, the person on the phone said to put it at the driveway. But our neighbor said they wouldn’t pick it up there so I had to place it out by the main road.

I put the trash can where the company said, not where the neighbor said.

The first week, they did not pick up the trash, so I called and notified them like one is supposed to.

The second week, I emailed the company a question. “Our garbage was not picked up today. Where am I supposed to put the trash can so that it will get picked up – by the driveway or by the main road?”

By this point, I figured the neighbor was right – the garbage men wouldn’t pick up the trash at the driveway. But I wanted an official answer from the trash company. Where do I put my trash?

They replied right away.

“We are sorry for this problem. We will send someone out to get your garbage collected today.”

That’s good to know – and they did come get the garbage – but they did not answer the question.

Maybe they don’t want to go on the record.
Maybe it’s supposed to be a secret.
Or maybe they are trained to assure the customer the problem will be fixed. Any questions are secondary.

But it’s kind of annoying. I want to make sure I am doing my part correctly. How can I do that if they won’t verify what my part is?

Maybe that’s the answer…

But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”

2 Kings 18:36

Vinyl in the Dryer

Having young children, we have a few of the waterproof mattress pads or covers. Mostly, they are made waterproof by having one side of it made of vinyl. Or some other type of softer plastic, but we’ll just call it vinyl.

In our previous house, we never had any problems with the laundry. The washer and dryer handled the mattress pads with no problem.

Then we moved.

Our first week in the new house, we ran a load of laundry. It wasn’t the first day in the new house only because there was no washer or dryer. So we had to buy them – a brand new washer and dryer, all shiny and sparkly and undimmed by human tears.

The first load of laundry in the new appliances, and we ruin the dryer.

Almost.

More like temporarily ruined the dryer.

image of a clothes dryer with vinyl melted to the inside of the drum

We ran plenty of vinyl through our old dryer and it never melted. But the new dryer melted the vinyl off the mattress pad and it stuck to the metal vent in the dryer.

I even had the heat set at medium, not high. I wonder what high would have done.

I had to pry, then cut, the mattress pad out of the dryer. Then I had to peel the vinyl off the metal vent. But it wasn’t cooperating, and it was an uncomfortable working position, so I had to unscrew that vent from the dryer in order to get at it better.

image of a clothes dryer with vinyl melted to the inside of the drum

After spending a couple hours on it, I finally gave up. I left it with the plan suggested by my wife of finding a product to dissolve the vinyl off it. I came home that evening to a metal vent that was free of any vinyl.

A friend had soaked it in hot water, and the vinyl softened up and peeled right off. So I was able to put the vent back in the dryer and we could resume cleaning our clothes. Or at least wearing dry clothes.

Moral of the story: if you get vinyl melted onto a metal surface, use hot water. It should work for other surfaces too.

And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.

Numbers 31:24

Stamped

image of a child with ink stamps all over his legs

And that is why you don’t leave a 4-year-old alone with ink stamps.

Thus says the Lord God, “Clap your hand, stamp your foot and say, ‘Alas, because of all the evil abominations of the house of Israel, which will fall by sword, famine and plague!'”

Ezekiel 6:11

Scaffolding

Some of you may recall that we recently moved. Part of the move process involved getting furniture from the 2nd story down to the moving van.

This was a complicated process, as some of the furniture was too big (queen box spring, long dresser) to fit down the stairs, as the stairway makes a turn at the bottom and larger items can’t make the corner. We knew it would be a problem getting those items out, as we had a problem getting them in.

Back then, we borrowed a scaffolding and used that to load the furniture in through the upstairs window. This time, we went to borrow the scaffolding and someone else was already borrowing it.

Not to be deterred, I went to the nearby store and bought 2 sheets of plywood and 3 dozen 2x4s. And some nails.

A few hours later, and with some help from friends and relatives, we had a scaffolding:

image of a makeshift scaffolding built out of 2x4s

(more…)

Not-So-Confusing Concepts

Due to my engineer-like traits of wanting to follow specifications, I do well at grammar. It’s relatively easy – there are rules, and you follow them. The rules are many, and sometimes may be vague or conflicting, but they are there. All one has to do is remember them and use them.

And likewise for the meanings of words. Words have specific meanings. When people are sloppy with their word choices and say things they didn’t mean, it annoys me. “You know what I meant” is a common excuse, but the reason we have a language is so that you can say the words that match what you mean and then everyone is clear on what you meant. If you can’t be bothered to say what you mean, why should I be the one to put forth effort in order to understand what you mean? Maybe that’s a valid excuse for a 3-year-old who is still learning words, but not for an adult who has completed his schooling.

There, now the groundwork for this post is out of the way, and I can get to the list of sayings that I’ve noticed people are having a hard time with. These are concepts more than spelling and grammar. Items in the spelling and grammar categories are things like lie/lay and effect/affect. Those are not hard either, people, but that’s a different topic.

  • Wrong vs. Lying
    “Are you saying I’m lying?” is a common retort one might hear when one corrects another. But most of the time, one is not accusing the other of fraud. In order for someone to be lying, he must know the truth but present something other than the truth. Presenting something that he believes to be the truth but is not the truth is not lying, simply an error.

    I’ve noticed this more in politics than other areas of life – Senator So-and-so lied to us about such-and-such. Maybe he didn’t lie – maybe he was just wrong.

  • Original vs. Unique
    “That’s not original” is an accusation that is made against something that one has seen before. But original doesn’t mean no one else has made a similar item – that’s what unique means. Original means that one thought it up by oneself. Multiple people can think of the same thing independently and they would all be original but none would be unique.
  • Flush Out vs. Flesh Out
    I never thought much about this one, because it seemed obvious enough to me. But I’ve been noticing it more and more. And when I was in England recently, I noticed they always got it right.

    Flush out is when you are trying to find something – think about the hunting dog who goes into the reeds to flush out the fowl.
    Flesh out is when you are trying to fill in gaps – like adding flesh to a skeleton to get a complete body. Apply this to things like a writing outline – the outline is the skeleton and you flesh out the details of the story.

  • Forward Slash vs. Back Slash
    Can you not see which way the slash is leaning? If the slash is leaning to the right, it’s a forward slash. Because that’s the direction the text is going. And if the top of the slash is left of the bottom, it’s a back slash. The only valid excuse I can think of for getting this one wrong is if your native language is written right-to-left.

    If you’re not sure, just say “slash” and people will type the right one.

  • Try To vs. Try And
    Trying to do something implies effort that may or may not be successful.
    Trying and doing something implies effort and then success.

    Why bother trying something and then doing something? Why not just do it? Yoda up – don’t try, just do.

    Try to verb means one action – an attempt at verb.
    Try and verb means two actions – an attempt first and then the verb.

    The only time this is acceptable is if you really intend on a practice round of whatever it is you’re doing.

Alright, I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,

Proverbs 1:2

Try to Dry

Ah, the old riddle: what gets wetter the more it dries?

Before answering that question, allow me to show you a photo from a hotel at which we stayed during a recent trip.

image of a sign at a hotel pool

Here’s a closer shot so you can read it.

image of a sign at a hotel pool that says to towel dry before leaving pool

It says

Please towel dry before leaving pool.
Thank you.

My wife pointed it out to me, as she correctly knew I would appreciate it.

The sign should have said to towel dry before leaving the pool room or before entering the hallway or courtyard.

To comply with the sign as written would have required over 100,000 towels (according to a topic I saw on Reddit about how many towels it would take to dry a pool. They assumed a larger pool, but they also assumed larger towels so it’s close enough).

Not only would the pool users waste a lot of time drying off while in the pool, they would need a pool-sized space to discard the wet towels.

We did not comply with the letter of the law, but I do believe we followed the spirit of the law.

Now back to the original question. The answer is, of course, a Hampton Inn pool room.

The waters from the sea will dry up, And the river will be parched and dry.

Isaiah 19:5