Thursday, April 27, 2023

Chewy Is Great

This is not a paid advertisement, but I really wish that it was. Ziggy, our cat who will turn 15 this summer, needed to take some medicine recently. The vet suggested mixing it in his food since there was no chance that he would take it on its own. So I crushed the pill, mixed it with the Meow Mix wet food Ziggy has had since he was a kitten, and watched him eat. Ziggy took a bite, noticed the different taste, and then walked away from the food. I repeated these steps the next day, and Ziggy ignored the wet food. He ignored his food the following day too. Even with no medicine mixed with his food, Ziggy stopped eating his wet food completely.

About a week before giving Ziggy his medicine, I purchased 7 boxes of Meow Mix from Chewy for a little over $50 so that I would get free shipping. Seeing that Ziggy was no longer eating this food, I contacted Chewy to return the unopened boxes. Chewy told me to keep or donate the food (which I did to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter) and gave me a full refund. A week later, I received a letter from Chewy wishing Ziggy well. 

I am now a Chewy customer for life. They gave me a full refund, allowed me to donate unused food, and sent a very nice personalized card. The box was pretty heavy, so maybe Chewy didn’t want to pay for return shipping fees, but that’s still a loss for them (at least short term). Of course, based on the goodwill earned and this blog post, maybe this will be a positive in the end. And we will all remember the friendships we made along the way!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My Pittsburgh Parking Court Battle

When I visited Pittsburgh in December, I helped the economy by staying at a hotel, eating at restaurants, and visiting several attractions. Sure, there were taxes associated with all of these purchases, but I also gave money directly to the city of Pittsburgh courtesy of a parking ticket. I paid the ticket by mail but then received a letter regarding late fees. I was not happy, so I sent my own letter back appealing the fee. I'm sharing all of this since the statute of limitations may have expired by now. At least, I hope they expired.

Dear Pittsburgh Parking Court,

I am writing regarding parking ticket number [redacted]. I received the ticket on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 after the meter expired near Mercy Hospital. I was in Pittsburgh visiting [redacted again] for [a reason] at Mercy Hospital. 

Sean's Note: I probably should have combined these two sentences, but I wanted to make a point that I was at a hospital and not just galavanting around town.

I paid for 2 hours of parking, and when the meter was about to expire, I attempted to add more time using the app. Unfortunately, I had difficulties using the app and then assisting [redacted one more time] during the discharge process. By the time I returned to my car, the meter expired and I received the $40 ticket. I am not disputing the ticket itself.

The reason that I'm writing is about the late fees currently on my account. On January 19, 2023, I called the Pittsburgh Parking Authority since I knew the ticket due date was January 18th, and I was concerned that the check had not been processed and my account showed a late fee. The representative I talked to assured me that there would be no late fee as long as the envelope was postmarked by the due date. However, as of today, January 31st, there is now a second late fee even though the $40 check has been processed. When I talked to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority representative today, she said that the payment must be received by the due date in order to avoid late fees which completely contradicts my conversation two weeks ago. She also suggested that I could appeal the late fee by writing this letter. 

Again, I am not appealing the ticket and paid the $40. I am appealing the additional $38 from two separate late fees since I feel that I paid my original ticket on time. In addition, I question why there is a second late fee when I was led to believe that my original payment was sufficient. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Although I never received a response, when I checked my account balance online several weeks later, it showed $0. I guess case closed!

Now might also be the time to mention one key point to this story. The reason for the late fee was because I didn't want to pay the $2.95 processing fee for paying the parking ticket online. Instead, I spent 60 cents for a stamp to mail the original payment, another 60 cents for another stamp for the appeal letter, and way too much time talking with officials in Pittsburgh (or waiting on hold before talking to them) and writing the letter. I definitely showed that online payment system!

Monday, April 17, 2023

My Affair Is Back On

Over a decade ago, I wrote about being unfaithful in a relationship. Instead of being in a monogamous relationship with the Fairfax County Public Library system, I got a library card from the Arlington Public Library. Throughout the 2010s, things went smoothly and I checked out books from both library systems. Everyone was happy. I mean, maybe one or both of the library systems were unhappy, but no one said anything. And then my dad passed away and COVID-19 happened.

Starting in March 2020, I stopped reading. I was too busy balancing family and work and attending online religious services daily. I didn't have the focus to read books. In addition, I rarely visited Arlington for well over a year, and the Arlington library branch I frequented closed for renovations. When I slowly got back into reading, I either purchased books or used the Fairfax County library. 

Last week, I learned that my old Arlington library reopened. My library card expired, so I visited the branch and renewed my account. The librarian mentioned that I had a book on hold from February 2020 which had been "frozen." He asked if I wanted to unfreeze the hold, but I had no recollection of having a book on hold. When I asked the name or author of the book, he replied that it was by Jessica Simpson.

Yes, I wrote an entire blog post just to share that I've had Jessica Simpson's autobiography on hold for over three years!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Who Are The Biggest Stars On Network Television?

I like network television. There's something comforting about the consistency of a show that's on nearly every week between September and May. I'm sure there's a lot of nostalgia too. It's remembering watching Cheers, In Living Color, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and other shows when I was younger. In the time of cable and streaming services, it’s nice to see that ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and the other one (is it CW or WB? I don’t know) still produce shows that could be part of a national shared experience. I write "could be" since that doesn’t actually happen anymore other than the Super Bowl or Will Smith hitting Chris Rock. With so many shows on so many different stations and streaming services, I feel like the only place where there could be a shared experience is on network TV. That seems doubtful though as I'll explain below.

I started thinking about the current biggest stars on network television. Who would be the most recognizable actors in a modern-day Battle of the Network Stars? 

Are there any A-listers like George Clooney, Tina Fey, or Steve Carell on network TV? Before we proceed, my self-imposed rule is that it can’t be someone on a reality or news show. That removes probably the biggest names on network TV such as Ryan Seacrest, Sofia Vergara, Blake Shelton, and Anderson Cooper. My first stop was to look up the most-recent Nielsen ratings.

Taking out sports, reality, and award shows, we're looking at four scripted shows. My wife watches the Chicago shows, so I'm familiar with them, but I can't name any actor except for S. Epatha Merkerson and Oliver Platt from Chicago Med. While I don't know any cast members on Young Sheldon or Ghosts, I believe that Jim Parsons serves as the narrator on the former. Of course, if we're allowing voices, Don Cheadle counts for his voice on Wonder Years. With all of that written, the clear winner as the most famous person on TV has to be The Rock from NBC's Young Rock. While I've never watched an episode, based on commercials, it seems like he has an on-screen role unlike Parsons and Cheadle. And if we're doing a Battle of the Network Stars, who's going to beat Dwayne Johnson and NBC? 

Here are others who receive consideration and should be a part of network star competition:

Ellen Pompeo - Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Mariska Hargitay & Ice T - Law & Order: SVU (NBC)

Actually, any current cast member of these two shows who has been on for at least 10 years is eligible.

Queen Latifah - The Equalizer (CBS)
George Lopez - Lopez vs. Lopez (NBC)
Tom Selleck & Donnie Wahlberg - Blue Bloods (CBS)
Chris O'Donnell & LL Cool J - NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Mayim Bialik - Call Me Kat (FOX)
Rob Lowe - 9-1-1 Lone Star (FOX)
Quinta Brunson - Abbott Elementary (ABC) -  I would love to see the event where Quinta faces off against The Rock!
Hilary Swank - Alaska Daily (ABC) - Yes, a 2-time Oscar winner is the star of a network TV show in 2023.
Ernie Hudson - Quantum Leap (NBC)
Cedric the Entertainer - The Neighborhood (CBS)

Are there any others I'm missing? Am I the only one who cares about network TV?