Friday, November 28, 2014

Things I'm Thankful For Right This Very Second

I know Thanksgiving was yesterday, but so what. Here is my list of 100 things I'm thankful for right now (and not in any particular order).

1) Richard
2) My cats
3) My parents
4) My sister and her family
5) The way Richard and Jimmy make me laugh so hard and genuinely I often get a headache
6) Clementines
7) Richard's family
8) Jimmy
9) Elder Kestner
10) Elder Stanford
11) President and Ruth Hall
12) Bishop and Miranda Smith
13) Good friends in my ward
14) My ability to cook and bake
15) My love of reading
16) Tropical flavored things
17) Fluffy socks
18) Music that makes me dance
19) Music that makes me feel
20) Snuggling with Richard at the end of the day
21) Receiving kindness from others
22) Dim Sum
23) Central heating
24) Knowing that some of my best days are still to come
25) All the sincere changes for the better Richard and I have made this year
26) Having a pass to the rec center
27) Having a mostly reliable car
28) Seeing the smiles on the faces of the YW every week
29) Modern medicine
30) Long hot baths
31) Hanging out with friends
32) Sharing meaningful experiences with people I love
33) Being an important part of my family
34) The way Tony always knows when I need an extra bit of love or affection
35) My cozy little home
36) Being able to see the big picture
37) Making people laugh
38) My Savior
39) Being forgiven
40) BYU basketball
41) Pizza Rev
42) Hot soup on a cold night
43) Trying new things
44) Seeing the beauty where others might not see any
45) Temple Square
46) Date night
47) Back rubs
48) That I'm really not one to hold a grudge
49) Flamingos
50) Palm trees
51) The ocean, particularly the Pacific.
52) Happy memories
53) Dreams of the future
54) Diet Coke
55) Feeling productive
56) Being able to work with my hands
57) Being able to walk without pain
58) Sharing my life with Richard
59) Shopping with my sister
60) My close relationship with my parents
61) Modern appliances (and having a few of them!)
62) My food processor
63) Letters and notes from people who love or have loved me
64) Bacon
65) Being the recipient of someone's efforts
66) Firesides
67) That feeling you get when returning home after not being there for a while
68) That I'm alive right now at this time and in this place
69) That my mistakes don't have to define me
70) That I have a hopeful heart
71) People that believe in me
72) The way my nieces and nephews hug me tightly when we say goodbye
73) Being sung to on my birthday
74) Accomplishing things I previously believed I couldn't do
75) Knowing how to cheer Richard up when he needs me to
76) Dad shares his homegrown tomatoes with me
77) Knowing I'll someday be reunited with those I love who have passed away
78) The chance to right my wrongs
79) Simple nights at home
80) That Richard knows me completely and loves me for who I am
81) Rekindling friendships with people I haven't seen in years
82) Feeling my heart heal after hardship
83) Priesthood blessings
84) Limeade Oreos
85) Making someone smile
86) Making progress
87) Warm days
88) Richard's new job working from home
89) That Richard seems much happier now
90) When something I really want is on sale
91) Being remembered
92) People who teach me
93) My good memory
94) Ready access to food and clean water
95) Making my dreams come true one by one
96) How Rock sits in the window and meows at me when I do the dishes
97) How Tony situates himself into the crook of my arm whenever I sit down
98) Beautiful places I've been to
99) Laughing with friends
100) Knowing and appreciating that I have a good life

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Fair warning: this one might be all over the place.

My friend Danie, who has struggled with depression for years and years, decided she was done.  While inpatient at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, Danie decided to end things on her terms. When they found her, they tried for over 45 minutes before they could revive her.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  She was declared clinically brain dead.  She was a big supporter of organ donation, so although she's technically dead, she's still  artificially alive  so they can keep the organs alive until they're ready for them.  That is kind of hard for me to fathom.  Until they say definitively that she's gone, there is a part of me that doesn't believe it.  I just can't.  

I haven't seen her probably since I was 15 years old, so more than half of my life.  We met in junior high, and I moved away my sophomore year of high school.  But we reconnected several years ago on Facebook, and we kept tabs on each other.  She was very open about her struggles with depression and self-harming.  She voluntarily sought help and therapies of various natures.  She fought very hard, but ultimately, I guess she thought she wasn't strong enough to beat her demons.

I am proud of her for fighting so hard for so long. Though I wasn't anyone significant in her life, I am taking this quite hard. She was my friend, and though I tried to encourage her and offered my help, I have a lot of "what ifs" and "I should haves."  I've dealt with depression.  I know my experiences pale in comparison to hers, but I'm just saying, I've been there.  It's hard, and it's ugly, and it seems to never end.  It's an exhausting struggle.  But the thing is.... I'm pretty sure Danie had no idea how strong she truly was.  And so I grieve more than just the fact that she's gone.  

This is kind of my latest Catch-22.  I'm so happy at the thought she finally has the peace that has eluded her since her youth.  I'm happy at the thought that she got what she wanted.  Does that make me happy that she got it the way she did?  Of course not.  But I have to admit, this does kind of change my opinion of suicide.

I generally had the attitude that suicide is pure selfishness.  Sure, that person has escaped the situation, but what of those they leave behind?  But now I'm feeling humbled and actually ashamed of that.  I'm not sure I realized in my heart how judgmental that is.  I'm realizing that there is no black or white, it's just shades of gray.  Every situation and the person involved is different.  I hate that people feel like their only option is suicide, but of course, I'm not in their shoes, living their lives or feeling their pain.  That said, it's still heartbreaking for those left behind. But it's bad enough to grieve for those who took that route. I don't need to judge their actions, too. 

I've had loved ones die from cancer, cerebral hemorrhage, car accidents, organ failure, heart attacks, etc.  I've had loved ones attempt to take their own lives, but Danie's the closest to me that has succeeded.  And I've come to learn that losing someone through suicide hurts much more than illness or accident.  There's one very vivid memory I have of her.  We were sitting in gym class, and because I had been being bullied, I had tried to train myself to be stoic and save emotions of any kind for when I got home.  Happy, sad, it didn't seem to matter to the girls who picked on me.  They could find anything to mock me about.  Anyway, back to gym class.  I forget what we were discussing, but Danie looked me straight in the eyes and said I was apathetic.  Not knowing what that meant but not wanting to admit it, I didn't ask for clarification.  I wish I would have.  Because the truth was, I was never apathetic.  I cared very much.  I was just afraid that showing my feelings would lead to more unpleasantness.  That incident has stuck with me through the years.  I've tried to become more of an open book, easier to talk to, and more easily able to show my interest.  I do sincerely care about people, and I've tried to show it more ever since I learned that she thought I was apathetic. Danie taught me a life lesson that day, and I'm thankful for that. Sometimes I still struggle with coming across as apathetic or unfazed about things that are actually very important to me.  Just something I have to continually work on, I suppose.  

I hope she knows how truly unapathetic I was when it came to her.  I hope she knows how loved she was.  I hope she has peace and happiness and everything she wanted but could never seem to find.  I hope her husband finds joy in the years to come.  I hope one day I'll see her again and we'll laugh together.  I hope she knows how much I already know I will miss her, but mostly I hope she knows that I'll never forget her.  

Norman Cousins
“If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.”
― Norman Cousins

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TigerDirect - a.k.a. The Destroyer of Dreams

The long and winding story

Over the past few weeks, we have been dealing with a rather annoying situation. Lyndsie and I were discussing what to do with next year's tax return. Her computer has been having trouble lately, and I suspect failing hardware, so we decided why not get new computers. We spend a lot of time on them and it would be nice if they worked well. Then we thought, why wait, we can float the money until then, no problem!

As I have done for the past ten years, and as I have previously advised everyone else to do, I ordered our new computers from Tiger Direct (TD). Biggest mistake ever! I ordered all the basic components for new computers - a case, power supply, a hard drive, a motherboard, RAM, CPU w/fan, and an Operating System. After doing a lot of research on CPUs, I found what I decided was the best deal - a Combo Pack from TD with the motherboard, 4 gigs of RAM, a solid CPU (i5-3570K) with fan for just $399.99. It's not top-of-the-line or anything, but way better than we're using and a lot of bang for the buck. Two computers, no waiting, under $1500 shipped.

I placed my order and received an e-mail receipt which included this bundle:

ASUS P8Z77-V LX Intel 7 Series Motherboard and Intel Core i5-3570K 3.40 GHz Quad Core Unlocked and Patriot Viper Xtreme 4GB Desktop Memory Module Bundle (M69-7202) $399.99 each X 2 = $799.98 total
As you can see, nothing is amiss, all three bundle items are listed in the description and the price is right.

Our order arrived astonishingly fast, just in time for a weekend build and some quality gaming with my love. I opened the packages and set to work building the first computer. I got the case prepped, the power supply installed, the motherboard mounted and powered, the RAM inserted, and then it hit me - where are the CPUs? I double-check all the boxes... nothing.

Feeling concerned, I double-checked my receipt and everything looked right, so maybe the CPUs were coming in another shipment? So I logged into my account and saw that according to my invoice, everything shipped and arrived. I didn't see the CPUs on the invoice and thought, maybe I forgot to order them? So I started a chat with TD's "customer service". I put that in quotes because they have insufficient skill to even been associated with the term. After a 45 minute chat (about 30 lines worth of back and forth), where I assumed I forgot to pay for the CPUs and offered to pay what appeared to be a discrepancy, the clerk said he'd get the missing CPUs and their fans sent out to me. He had to send the request to some managers who would review it in a few business days. This was contact #1 - Apollo.

Fast-forward 5 business days, I still haven't heard anything. So I call the "customer service" line and ask about the situation. After explaining what I want to know (about 20 minutes), the guy on the phone told me to wait 3-5 more business days and I should hear back. This was contact #2 - Omar.

A few more days pass and I receive an e-mail from the "customer service" supervisors:
Thank you for your recent order. Our records indicate your order was completely shipped approximately 10 days ago. At this point, you should have received every item of your order.
So contact #3 tells me there's nothing wrong and I should be happy.

So I call again and speak to a fourth representative - Rafinee. I immediately asked to speak to her supervisor, but she insisted I let her try to fix the problem first. It was around this time that I looked at the invoice more closely. Remember that everything looked right on my receipt. Well, on the invoice, they charged me $295.49 EACH for the $125 motherboards and $104.50 EACH for the $50 RAM. This is especially disturbing because I ordered extra RAM, with the same item code, on the same invoice, that shows the correct price. In any case, she seemed understanding and was the first person I spoke to who actually spoke fluent English. She also offered me her direct phone number and e-mail address. She spoke to her supervisor about getting my missing CPUs and fans out to me. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and the guy who can approve it is not in the office until Monday. I figured, hey, they're fixing the problem, I've got her contact information, this could work.

Monday rolled around and I didn't hear from her. So I called her direct phone (contact #5) and left a voicemail. I still hadn't heard from her later that night, so I e-mailed (contact #6). I still hadn't heard from her Tuesday night and e-mailed again (contact #7).

Since I had already been dealing with this for 3 weeks, I was at my wit's end. TD had the audacity to send me 5 different advertisements for the exact CPUs I was missing for $200 each in the last 3 weeks. I discovered my order was supposedly covered by Google Trusted Stores, so I filed a complaint with them, letting them know that all I want is what I ordered and maybe an apology and something free for my inconvenience.

Today I received a phone call while at work (contact #8). The lady offered to sell me the missing CPUs for a huge discount - only $100 a piece! She explained that there was a mistake on the website and the package wasn't supposed to include a CPU, so I'd still have to purchase one. This made me rather curious as the motherboard in the bundle retails for $124.99 and the RAM retails for $49.99. So she was telling me that to buy these two together in a bundle (a retail value of $174.98) cost $399.99 and I still had to buy CPUs.

I yet again explained the discrepancy so she put me on hold to find out how to resolve this.

I waited. And waited some more. After about half an hour on the phone, she comes back and tells me she can see the problem now. Unfortunately, she can't just send me two free CPUs. No, I'll have to package and send back the motherboards and RAM chips to get the wrong charges refunded, at which point I am free to order all 3 items again separately from the bundle (the prices fell since my order so to order all three separate was now only $375 or so) so they are charged right and I can get them back. I mentioned that I have been a TD customer for over a decade, both personally and professionally, and is there anything they can do to encourage me to ever shop with them again. She said no.

So I decided it was time to give up. I've wasted way too much time and stress on this and they are WAY too deceitful and incompetent to work with. I told her I would like to return everything and shop with her competitor. She said that was fine. So I asked if they were paying the shipping to get this crap back to them. After putting me on hold again, she managed to send me pre-paid return labels. I packed everything up and dropped it at the UPS store this afternoon. Time will tell whether they refund me what they charged me or what they should have charged me.

Incidentally, about an hour after this call, I got an e-mail from Google (addressed to 'Dear Robert'...) saying TD has graciously offered to refund my original shipping fee and has started a process to figure out what happened to the original CPUs and they would resolve it sometime next week. I'm flabbergasted.

The Moral of the Story

This rather lengthy tale of the worst customer service I've ever received and the thousand and a half dollars of my money TD is playing with serves one main purpose - a warning. I am warning you, everyone you know, and everyone you come in contact with for the rest of your life -


Please help me in showing them that this kind of "customer service" is unacceptable for a major online retailer and that being dishonest, unhelpful, and manipulative (all those ads, their attempts to get me to pay more for something I already bought, etc) is not an effective way to get and keep customers. Thank you for your help spreading the word!


Thursday, November 21, 2013


I feel homesick.  Well, that's not quite right.  I miss three certain people very strongly.  I always do, but it seems that it's this time of year that the lack of their presence is compounded infinitely.  That feeling is a lot like homesickness to me... like you know that you'll eventually be reunited with all that you miss, but you have to endure the time until then.  And sure, there is a lot to enjoy in the meantime....but always lingering, even if way way back in the recesses of the mind, are thoughts of them.  Grandpa Keith.  Grandpa Jay. Grandma Camille.

I know. I write about them an awful lot.  But they were are three of the most important people in my life.  They taught me some important things: Loyalty, courage, patience, a love of nature, humor, faith, and love.
I cannot express how much I miss them. 

I'm feeling emotional, but I guess that's nothing new.  Holidays mean family, and my family has a huge whole in it where they belong.  Thanksgiving is turkey, and turkey legs are my Grandpa Keith.  Christmas is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is my Grandma Camille.  My house gets decorated with things that were theirs, like the blue velvet bows, the blue and silver tinsel, and the homemade snowflakes hung from the ceiling.  It's beautiful and yet somehow stifling.  The memories are always there.  As comforting as they can be, they haunt. Is this normal?! I love having her things, and I hate having her things.  I love having them, because they were a part of her, and when I see them, I think of her and Grandpa, and of the way I remember their big, elaborate holiday displays from when I was little.  I hate having her things because that means she isn't here to enjoy them herself.  I hate this.

I struggle with this.  My Grandpa Jay has been gone for half my life now. Half of my life. Grandpa Keith has been gone for nearly 13 years.  Grandma's been gone for about 2 and a half.  I've heard that time heals all wounds.  When? When does that kick in?

I know I sound melodramatic.  I mean, it's not like I'm crying every day anymore.  But I still get pangs of sadness. Lumps in my throat. Tears behind my eyes.  There's just something about this time of year that brings everything to a head.  Not sure exactly why.  Their deaths took place in June and April.  Though I've always had a grateful heart, Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays.  So it's not that.  I guess it's the little things.  Coconut Crisps. Sousa. Jazz games. Lawrence Welk. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Coming across old birthday cards with that familiar handwriting.  Saving the last voice message she left me every three weeks.  Pansies and butterflies.  I even catch a whiff of her perfume every now and then. But since the little things happen throughout the year, I don't know why it resounds so strongly now.

So yeah, I feel homesick.  It's stronger than usual right now, but it's always there.  How do you deal with this? Is it just something you live with until all of a sudden you don't notice anymore?  That sounds like both a blessing and a curse.

I guess there's nothing that I can do about it...just like being homesick.  Try to enjoy the time you have doing what you're doing where you are, looking forward to finally getting that sweet reunion.  I would be so thankful if I could just figure out how to stop hurting so much about things I cannot change.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who I want to be

Saw this on Facebook, and it's stayed with me.

Isn't that the ultimate goal?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Raindrops fall
sometimes fast and determined
ready to deliver a message
sometimes reluctant and timid
helpless where they land

Raindrops fall
sometimes bringing with them
a sense of peace and coziness
sometimes a weary sadness
like a soft, drawn-out sigh

Raindrops fall
sometimes with the warning of thunder
echoing across the sky
sometimes seemingly out of nowhere
soaking you clear through

Raindrops fall
sometimes you want it
so much you seem to create the clouds
that empty down upon you
sometimes you want the sun, the warmth,
but no matter where you search for it,
no matter how you long for it, you can't find it.

Because raindrops fall.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Not forgotten

I know I write a lot about my grandparents on here.  But they were my teachers, my protectors, my supporters, and my friends.  Grandpa Jay was my hero and my best friend.  And, as he died 16 years ago today, he's been gone half of my life.