Thursday, October 19, 2017

Introducing Luigi

Long-running television sitcoms often introduce a new character, such as a baby, to create new storylines. Ross and Rachel had a child together near the end of Friends. Despite already having Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, and (looks up name) Jeremy Miller, Alan Thicke (RIP) and Joanna Kerns had another child on Growing Pains late in its run. Leonardo DiCaprio also appeared as a series regular for some reason too even though they could have given more time to Boner (RIP). Anyway, after almost 13 years of writing this blog, I needed some new topics. Ziggy is now a 9 year-old "senior" cat that doesn't do much. The Moose is in first grade, and still several years away from fully creating his own storylines. While Pedro Tulo provided excellent content back in June, there hasn't been much blog-worthy content to share lately. With the school year underway, life was becoming routine. There's good in stability, but it doesn't help Sean's Ramblings since I know that you, the readers, expect fascinating stories. Therefore, it was time to introduce a brand new character, and I'm proud to present Luigi, born last month at 6 pounds, 13 ounces.


Luigi's due date was October 9th though we expected him to arrive a week or two early like his older brothers. I actually joked that he would arrive either during a conference I was attending or during Yom Kippur services. Now the latter would have been interesting. Instead, Luigi shocked everyone by arriving five weeks early. The 6 pound, 13 ounce weight was a bit deceiving as he looked like a full-term baby, but he was still a preemie and went straight to the NICU. His breathing wasn't great upon his debut, but fortunately, he was always able to breathe on his own without assistance. Eating was the bigger issue, so he had an IV for the first 3-4 days of his life. Then, he was jaundice like his brothers since apparently we create jaundice babies. I've found that if you pretend that your baby is in some futuristic space machine that gives him or her superpowers (like, um, fighting high bilirubin levels), it makes the process go better.


After 7 days, Luigi was able to come home. I didn't write much about the hospital experience for The Moose or Pedro Tulo (though I did write some), so I wanted to share some early life moments surrounding Luigi.

- Actually, before we continue, in case you're wondering, Luigi is not my son's actual name. We had a first name all picked out but were struggling coming up with a middle name, knowing that we wanted it to start with L. While brainstorming, Luigi was thrown out as a suggestion. We both loved it, though again not for his actual middle name. Hence, Luigi is now his stage (well, blog) name.

- I should also probably mention that The Moose (age 6) and Pedro Tulo (3) had no idea that we went to the hospital. My wife's water broke at night after they went to sleep (and while I fell asleep watching TV on the couch), we called a neighbor to come over to "watch" the kids, Luigi arrived at 2:48 AM, and I came back home around 6:00 AM to get them up and ready for school.

- Luigi was brought into this world with the help of probably my favorite doctor who also delivered Pedro Tulo. I find that she is straightforward and has a positive bedside manner with a great sense of humor. It also helps that she grew up close to where I grew up and is a fellow Steelers fan. All of these characteristics are equally important for an OB-GYN!

- I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on the internet. However, I have the hand-washing routine for any medical professional involved in surgery completely down pat. This was posted in the NICU, and I followed it religiously.


- For a few days, my son was in the NICU while my wife was in the "Family Centered Care" portion of the hospital. Despite the fact they were on the same floor, I constantly said that I had to go down to the other area.

- All of the nurses at the hospital were fantastic. They were caring and professional and probably don't receive the appreciation they deserve. Therefore, I want to say hello to all of the nurses out there.



- The hospital has a wellness garden with a labyrinth that was quite calming. I guess it helps that this labyrinth was not the one featured in the movie, um, Labyrinth.


- Between the time the baby was born and arrived home, I made a trip to Target to get some supplies. I cannot confirm or deny that I bought 5 bottles of hand sanitizer. Okay, since you continued bothering me with these questions, it's true. It's all true! I did buy all of those bottles. And I would do it again too!

I also bought Lanolin at Target, and in one of the highlights of my life, I heard two women trying to find this and pointed out where it was located. They were in awe of me (or at least they were in my mind).

- These signs seemed to be above every toilet. Are there other things besides wipes people are flushing down the toilet at hospitals?


- Luigi was fairly quiet upon his arrival, and it took him a few days to make some noise. Now, a month later, the boy has some serious lungs. He lets you know when he's hungry and is quite persistent. I'm pretty sure neighbors about 4 (or 40!) units down can hear his screams.

- Since Luigi was a preemie, we tried to limit how close his older brothers got to him. The last thing we wanted was to get Luigi sick from germs brought home from elementary school and preschool. Finally, after I made sure he washed his hands and put on hand sanitizer, I let The Moose hold Luigi as long as he didn't tell his mom. Naturally, as soon as The Moose saw his mom, he immediately told her that he held Luigi and was so proud of this. Thanks for keeping this between us, kid.

- I may have taken a few graham crackers from the hospital.


- The Moose is enthralled by Luigi and wants to be around him and help. It's really sweet. Meanwhile, Pedro Tulo has little interest in his new brother. I'm sure that will change once they both get older.

Thanks to Luigi and his interaction with his brothers, Ziggy, and his parents, there are many more stories to share. Sean's Ramblings should be renewed for at least a few more seasons because of this!


(Please "Like" Sean's Ramblings on Facebook. There's good stuff there too!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Postcard to Canada

We recently bought a new stroller and being the responsible parents that we are, completed the registration information to return to the company in case there are any product recalls in the future. When I went to mail the postcard, however, I noticed that the mailing address was in Nova Scotia, Canada, and it said free postage in Canada. While I was certainly fine with sending a postcard to Sidney Crosby's home province, since I don't live in Canada and have no plans on driving or flying across the border, I had to buy a stamp. Do you know how much it costs to send a postcard to Canada? $1.15!! No wonder I don't write letters to Canada!


This got me thinking though. The company that made the stroller is Britax, a pretty big player in the car seat and stroller market. No offense to my Canadian neighbors, but I was surprised that Britax didn't have an American address to send this. Maybe they are unhappy with all of the discussions about renegotiating NAFTA and want to take more money from its American customers from us buying stamps from, um, the US Postal Service?

Anyway, it turns out that there was also a product registration postcard that we can send to Allentown, where they may or may not be closing all the factories down. Britax was so prepared that they had registration postcards available for BOTH American and Canadian customers. We just only noticed the first one. I guess we'll fill out the second postcard and mail it for free.

Well, I know who to blame for all of this! (This video is NSFW!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sean Sends Angry Email

I like to think of myself as a fairly calm person. It takes a lot to get me angry, yet that's where I am right now courtesy of my mortgage company. I'll get to my complaint below, but here's some mortgage information. Please feel free to skip this part. When we got our mortgage, since we did not put 20% down, we had to get private mortgage insurance (PMI). Basically, PMI protects the lender if you stop making payments on your home loan. This was extremely common at the time we got the mortgage and may still be today if you don't have a specific amount as a down payment. Anyway, once the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio gets to 80% (or 78%), the PMI goes away.

On to my angry e-mail!


Dear Mortgage Company,

I am writing today to share my displeasure and frustration with your company. We have had a mortgage through you since January 2010 and refinanced in 2012. As part of the mortgage, we've had to pay PMI each month. Earlier this year, I requested an appraisal and learned that the loan to value ratio was around 71%, meaning that I've probably paid PMI unnecessarily for at least 1-2 years. While PMI is now removed from the monthly payment, I feel like we should either receive a refund for the extra PMI payments or a credit towards the principle mortgage balance. After numerous conversations with you about this starting in mid-August, I finally learned today that there will be no refund. Besides the probably year or two of PMI payments that I didn't need to pay, I had to constantly call you for updates. I was given multiple dates when the review would occur and be completed and left messages with a supervisor without ever receiving a response. Even learning that there was no refund was because I called you, not from you contacting me.

During my conversation today, I was told that you would make it up to me if I ever had a late fee or document request. This is unacceptable particularly since I've never had a late payment in the over seven years as a customer and do not need any documents.



I am currently looking at options to stop being a customer. I don't have funds available to pay off the mortgage, so I may try to refinance with another company. There was never any consideration by you to let me know that perhaps the PMI payment could be removed, yet, I've received three escrow shortage letters within the past year. It is clear to me that your company puts profits above helping its customers. Plus, I've spent countless hours trying to get an answer regarding my question over a 2-month period. You seem to have a culture of providing poor customer service as I talked with at least 5 people over this period without ever receiving a call or letter with an answer.

Based on my experience, I'm sure that this email will be discarded or ignored. If someone does happen to read this, perhaps you can help current and future customers by retuning a phone call or replying to a customer when you say that you will.

Sincerely,
Sean



I doubt that I'll get a reply.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday Video: Feels

Today's video is Feels by Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean. A few things here. Pharrell may be one of the coolest people on the planet. It just seems like you're going to have an amazing time hanging out with him. I mean, he even looked cool wearing the Arby's hat a few years ago. Not many people could pull this off.


I'm also a big Katy Perry fan, though she is underutilized in this song. If I was a rapper, I would go by either Big Sean or DJ Seany Sean. I guess Big Sean made the choice for me. Finally, I like the guitar by Calvin Harris on this song. You really can't go wrong with Feels for a Friday video.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Mad, Mad World

These are depressing times. In the past month, hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida respectively. Then, Hurricane Maria absolutely destroyed much of Puerto Rico. I've been unsuccessful in trying to reach a friend who lives in San Juan (since she doesn't have power, she's obviously not checking Facebook), but a mutual friend let me know that she is okay since she evacuated and has access to water. Think about how insane this statement is. There's still little or no electricity and roads are impassable, but she's okay because she has access to water where that is not the standard or a given right now. So much of Caribbean is in ruins, and it's going to take months if not years to recover.


Meanwhile, Sunday featured the worst shooting in American history at a concert in Las Vegas with least 59 people dead and over 500 people injured. What an awful and sad tragedy. Much of the news now seems to be the motives of the shooter and whether or not this was a terrorist act. You know what? I don't care about the motives. I don't want to know anything about he shooter. I don't care about his background, and I certainly don't want to see profiles about him. He's a monster that took and impacted hundreds of lives. Don't give him publicity, news organizations. Talk about the victims and the good that they did.

I'm trying not to get too political in this post, but it is inevitable. I wrote about how the NRA can be a force for good several years ago, and I hope that it could, even though it seems unlikely. Any type of change to gun culture and guns in this country must happen within the organization. Outside pressure, even from Congress, won't have an impact since the NRA has so many allies in Congress and the White House. They aren't going to change unless they change themselves.

Back to Congress and our current political state. This is another tragic shooting and nothing is going to change. You can blame the NRA, but the political leaders only seem interested in staying in power. There is no bipartisanship and no desire to work together to get things done. Only victory seems to matter. It's my way or I'm taking the football and going home. Healthcare (Obamacare) is the perfect example. Both sides agree that it can be better, but no one is interested in actually sitting down and crafting legislation to do so. Working with the other side will get you kicked out of office by those more left or more right.

This is a depressing post during a depressing time, so I'll try to end on a positive. Even if we can't change things politically, we can still do things for good. Donate blood. Find organizations that are helping the hurricane victims and see what they need whether it is money, clothing, etc. Hug your family members. Say hi to your neighbors. Volunteer. Do what you can to help what's around you.