Archive for December, 2003

at church

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003

Toby was involved in a couple of amusing incidents on Sunday morning. Firstly Emma took him to the nursery for most of the duration of the service. A little lad about the same age as Toby turned up with his mom. He’s called Simon, and Emma said “Hello Simon, how are you?”. His mom said, “I suppose Simon is the kind of name you want to put on an English accent for, isn’t it? Simon, Simon, Simon”. Em had to point out that for most words she uses an English accent, to the embarrassment of Mrs Simon.

Later in the service, as it was coming up for Communion time, I saw Emma and Toby at the back of the Cathedral. We have a system where the choir goes for communion after the rest of the congregation, but when family members go up for communion individual choristers are allowed to join them so long as we’re not in the middle of the anthem at the time. I really enjoy when my little family comes by and I get a grin from Toby as I carry him up to the communion rail. Emma usually carries him up to the choir, but this week Toby decided that he wanted to walk, and with Em holding his hands he marched all the way up the central aisle at considerable speed and with a great big smile on his face. The whole place kind of stopped to watch, partly because it was extremely cute and partly because we weren’t sure if he’d make it. But he did, and a couple of people told me they felt like applauding. We were at a party later that night and several people recognized him as being the little boy who walked all the way up to communion.

new number

Friday, December 19th, 2003

Emma and I have new mobile phone numbers as of yesterday, and there’s a bit of a story behind this. We wanted to change our calling plan because we never use all our minutes, and also wanted to get new phones – I wanted a smaller phone and the screen on Emma’s wasn’t working. So time for a change. I hunted around a few plans, and the best seemed to be a shared plan offered on letstalk.com, who I’ve used before and have been very happy with. American readers will know that recently a law was passed stating that carriers had to allow people to keep their numbers if they change mobile phone carrier, to increase competition, but as we were planning to stay with AT&T Wireless, just use a different plan, we thought that this would be easy.

So the phones arrived earlier this week, but with a new number for each of us, so we called AT&T to get them to fix it for us. After about a half hour call and being bumped from rep to rep, it turned out that they would not do it. What we had to do was to return the new phones (a plus for AT&T is that they have no cancellation fee if you stop the new plan within 30 days) and then get phones from AT&T themselves, which I guess is legal but seemed a little odd to say the least.

I was a bit dumbfounded after that conversation, and Em and I spent some time wondering what we should do, but seeing as AT&T sold the same phone on their site, with a full instant rebate (easier than the mail-in rebate with letstalk) we thought we might as well go for it. I called AT&T and the assistant said that he’d talk me through the process on their website. It turned out that following the steps he described showed the Nokia 3100, but at $99.99 each, compared with the free offer I saw elsewhere. It further turned out that the free phone offer is only for new customers – they basically were charging us for continuing to be customers. I put this to the assistant who, to his credit, agreed that this was indeed the case. So I told him that there seemed little point staying with them, as I could probably get a free phone from another carrier, and keep our numbers. Once again he said that this was probably true, so I said that I was going to hang up but thanks for his help. He thanked me, and said his probably scripted line, “AT&T appreciates your business”. I responded with “Clearly you do” and that was that.

Unfortunately on shopping around for other plans, none seems as good as the new one we got through letstalk, so after all that rigmarole we’ve got our new phones and also new numbers. It’s a bit of a hassle letting everyone know that we have them, but at least it gives us a chance to tell this ridiculous story of customer “service”.

new machine

Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

Our old washing machine finally died last week, so we had the excuse to get something decent at last. Sears were doing 10% off before 10am on Saturday morning, so we hauled ourselves over, and ended up getting the Kenmore Elite White High Efficiency Front Load Washer which seems kind of fancy. It’s a little pricier than we had planned, but with 10% off, the fact that it uses so much less water and energy than a top-loader, and that it’ll clean our clothes better makes me hope that it’ll be worth it. So it’s being delivered next Monday which should give us time to drain the water out of the old machine, which is refusing to do anything now. And don’t worry, we don’t smell – Paul and Claire let us use their machine at the weekend.

continuing northwest issues

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

I think that Nortwest should be added to my friend Robin’s pants report. We’re still having issues booking flights with them – apart from the flight from Chicago to London being a couple of hundred bucks cheaper each than going from Minneapolis to London (despite the fact that most of the trip is the direct flight from Minneapolis to London) we’re finding that if we try to book for us and Toby, who would be sitting in our collective lap, we’re not even allowed to take the direct flight, and have to go via Cleveland and Detroit. And instead of getting a $200 discount for the extra flights, as we would if we were flying from Chicago, it’d be about $400 extra. Sheesh. A couple of nights ago we attempted to speak to someone face to face by going to the Mall of America, but Northwest have closed their store there. All, I’m sure, to thwart us.

Anyway, interesting thing happened last night. We got baby gates a couple of weeks ago to stop Toby from climbing or descending stairs unsupervised, and from being in the kitchen and eating ScoutTheCat’s food. Toby seems quite happy with the gates – he loves holding on to the bars and standing there watching what we’re doing and having a bit of a bop around. Last night Scout was in the kitchen, calmly eating his dinner while I was cooking mine, when I heard a scrabble of cat feet on wood floor as Scout scarpered for the basement. It turns out that this was the first time he’d seen Toby face-on standing up (I guess he’s seen him standing against a sofa or table, but this was Toby standing and looking through the gate at Scout) and it gave him quite a turn. After a minute or so Scout came back into the kitchen, with fur on end, and very cautiously looked over at Toby, who was still standing up, grinning away and generally babbling happily. Scout continued to watch him warily, and it wasn’t till Toby crawled away that Scout relaxed. I’m sure he’ll get used to it but we’re going to keep an eye on him and give him extra hugs to keep him reassured.