Saturday, December 30, 2006

Scott and Judy, the Bodeans and Jerry

I took advantage of 40 degree weather a couple days ago and took down the outside Christmas lights...we also put away all the indoor decorations and reclaimed our home. It's nice to get things back to normal.

We met Scott and Judy at Hardrock Cafe in Minneapolis last night for dinner. It's been too long since we've gotten together and we had quite a bit of catching up to do. They're really happy and it's nice to see. Scott's last marriage wasn't a good one and he suffered through a lot...he could never please Barb. I remember when they first met at the Plaines bowling alley in Huron in '84. He was really happy and I think she was too. It didn't take long though before that all changed. It was during the breakup when she became pregnant with their child. Those were some difficult times but it's all worked out well for both of them...and Lindsay too. Scott's wife, Judy, is a real sweetheart. I haven't spent all that much time with her but she's very likable and seems a perfect match for Scott. Their big thing is riding their Harley together. I don't think Scott has ever been happier.

After dinner, we walked in the rain to the Fine Line Music Cafe a few blocks away to see the Bodeans. We got there 45 minutes before the opening act who I really can't recall the name of. We found some spots to stand a few rows back from the stage but not before Tammy lost her purse. She had it on the walk to the Fine Line but once we got inside she couldn't find it. We began retracing our steps inside the club hoping to find it on the floor. It's just a small purse she uses for nights such as this but it held her license and credit card along with some cash. Finally, she found it at the front desk...some kind person turned it in. We continued our vigil in our spots waiting for Kurt and Sammy along with the band to take the stage. They kept us waiting till 10:15 but I forgave them. Just before they began playing I heard somebody say that Saddam was dead. That caused me to pause for just a moment. The whole idea of executing somebody is a difficult one for me even though he deserved it as much as anybody ever has. On the other hand, it almost seemed too easy of an out for the guy. I don't know...this world can be a troubling place sometimes.

Back to the show...I was really wishing that I'd brought my video camera as it would've been easy to get a couple songs on tape. There weren't any seats for this show...standing room only. We got some nice spots to stand just left of center stage in front of Kurt. He's such a good guitar player. The highlight of the show for me was Fadeaway. Listen to the guitar in the song...I was mesmerized as I stood not 6 feet away watching him play. It sucks when your camera's flash is only good for 4-5 feet at the most. I did my best to get a few photos of the guys. Here's a photo of Kurt, and another. But here's the memorable part of the show Tammy and I will recall years from now—the drunk sweaty guy standing next to her who kept moving people out of his way. His girlfriend was no better. They were both obnoxiously drunk and kept pounding their fists in the air and bumping into those around them. I could've changed places with Tammy but she wouldn't be able to see over the guy standing in front of me. We had a similar occurrence in '99 when we saw Journey and Foreigner play up in Hinkley. An obnoxious drunk woman behind Tammy spilled her beer all over Tammy's coat. We tried to ignore them but we weren't so good at it. Tammy can be a scrapper when it comes to situations such as that...but she does it well so as not to leave the offending person much in the way of wiggle room and they know they've been told.

We left the concert and walked the five blocks to our cars. It was still raining but it had been so hot and moist in the club that it felt good. Scott and Judy talked to us about going with them to Las Vegas in March. I've never been there. Tammy has and she's been wanting to get me out there for a while. Neither of us are gamblers but from what she tells me there is so much more to do there. We've got the Indian casinos in Minnesota but the payout on the slots isn't very good. We've been in there a couple times but we usually leave feeling sad for the people who mindlessly shove coin after coin into the machines. It doesn't do anything for either of us. Tammy's mother, on the other hand, is a different story—she loves it.

I was watching President Ford's funeral tonight. I first caught it on FOX or CNN but quickly turned to CSPAN where there was no commentary. It seemed more meaningful to not have to listen to the useless background banter the other stations offered. It was a sad moment watching his wife, Betty, as she stood before his coffin saying her last goodbyes, lingering with her hands pressed against the flag which draped it, not wanting to let go. Contrast Ford's funeral with the send-off given to Saddam; sobering when you think about it; two totally different worlds. Do we have any real chance of changing hearts and minds in the Middle East? God, I want to believe that we do but I have more doubts than ever.

It was a late night. We got home after midnight but stayed up and watched Me and Dupree. A cute show but I fell asleep before it was over. I had to be up early as my brother-in-law, Jerry, was coming over to install a water softener for us. He made it look easy although I know it wasn't. Our old softener still worked but the timer on it was toast. I'd have to manually recycle it every 5 days or so. It served me well for over 20 years. The Water Boss promises to make that routine a thing of the past. Before and after. Jackie assured me that he wouldn't take any money for helping so I got them a gift card to Ruth's Chris Steak House in Minneapolis. Jerry turns 60 in a couple days. I don't think you'll find a nicer guy. It's been years since we've sat and talked as we did today after the work was done. It was nice to reconnect with him. Sometimes this busy world gets in the way in more ways than we can ever know.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and 9002 Covered...So Far

I don't know where this post will go but I do have some things on my mind.

Tammy, Rachel and I exchanged gifts with each other on Friday night as we had family coming in the next day and it would be the only chance we'd have to spend some time alone together if that makes sense. I could go into detail about what we got each other but that would be like forcing somebody to sit through a slide presentation of a family outing so I won't. We had Tammy's parents and sisters and their families over for dinner on Saturday evening. Tammy did a great job of putting it all together. I helped where I could without getting in the way. We also went to church that night as Hosanna had a service the evening before Christmas Eve. that worked well for me because I had to work last night and wouldn't be able to make it to church otherwise. It was a full weekend and everybody enjoyed themselves, what more could we ask for?

My family on the other hand isn't so unified at the moment, nor has it been since our reunion back in August. I'm speaking with my mother again but there is still a chill and I'm not feeling very compelled to do much about it. I feel very let down by an older brother, an older sister and a younger brother. I got a Christmas card from my older sister who orchestrated the meltdown within my family. In the card was another smaller card with my name on it and some sort of Catholic prayer instructing me to let go of the hate in my heart. hmmm—I wasn't aware that I was the one spewing hate-filled jabs at people at the reunion. Claudia owns that and to try and put that on me is just more of the same from her. I'm filled with frustration for what she's done to our family but not hate. Tammy and I were talking this morning about how much nicer it is that we've distanced ourselves from her drama and manipulations. I hope to never have to deal with her again. That's not hate talking, it's self-preservation; it's about not allowing somebody into your life who has nothing positive to offer and is only concerned with getting people to sit in her mud puddle of a life with her.

This is really a bummer to be writing about such stuff on Christmas day. I'm sorry. I don't write in here often enough so some of the bad gets mixed in where there should be mostly good. Yesterday I reached my upwardly revised riding goal of 9000 miles on the road for 2006. I began the year with a goal of 7500 which was going to be an effort on its own but with the addition of my new ride and a renewed love of riding I reached for a distance I've never covered in a year. I'm a bit tired and should probably take it easy for the next couple of months. I certainly don't want to burn out but more importantly, I don't want to develop an overuse injury.

Tammy worked the day shift today and after work is driving her parents and sister home to northern Minnesota. she'll stop in Duluth to drop off Cindy then continue on to Babbitt where she'll spend the night with her folks before returning home tomorrow. It's been a very busy week for her. I'll be glad when we get back to a more normal schedule so she can catch her breath. We've got the Bodeans planned for Friday night at the Fineline Music Cafe in Minneapolis. I suppose this is where I should insert a rant about Ticketmaster but what's the use. We'll meet Scott and Judy for dinner at Hardrock Cafe downtown and see the concert together. Tammy also has a friend from work who will be meeting us for the show. Scott and I used to get together several times a year but that was 10 years ago. Since we've both remarried we seldom see each other any more. I think the last time we got together was for their wedding 5 years ago. It will be nice to see them again. This will be my 6th time seeing the Bodeans, I think. It could be more. They never put on a bad show and the venue they're at is very intimate.

I've been hanging out at the Serotta forum for the past while—lots of knowledge there as it receives a large volume of traffic.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Best Buy, An Update

I got a call from Best Buy last week stating that my laptop which they'd had for two months and couldn't fix was being junked out and that I would be receiving a new one. I am happy to say that I am now the proud owner of an HP Pavilion dv9035nr Entertainment Notebook PC. Thank you, BB but you've lost a solid customer. Hello, competition.

A Winter Wonderland, At Least It Is For Me

I can’t remember a milder winter than what we’re experiencing in the Midwest this year. The temp was in the upper 40s today which is about 20 degrees warmer than normal. The winds were strong from the west but that warm air has to be driven here somehow. I worked the all-night shift, came home and got a few hours of sleep, walked the pups and headed out on my bike. This time of year I’m usually happy to be able to get 30 miles in before I can no longer feel my toes and have to call it quits. I didn’t ride outdoors in the winter until a couple years ago. I used to be fine on my indoor trainer in the basement but once I actually ventured out into the frigid air and found that it was easily doable my indoor trainer has been sitting idle, so much so that I’ve stored it away.

I left home at noon and headed out not sure which route I’d take. A few minutes into my ride I decided I’d take a route which I’ve done half a dozen times this year and one I always enjoy for the variety it has to offer. The first 45 minutes of the ride was easy as it’s a bit downhill from my home to the Minnesota River and the wind was helping. This is a view riding north out of Eagan on Hwy 13 overlooking the river toward Bloomington. Notice the lack of snow…this is Minnesota after all and we’re well into December. I continued north on 13 to Hwy 494 where there is a bike path to cross the river. A few miles later I’m at a stop light in front of the Mall of America. It was still early in the afternoon so the traffic hadn’t gotten too crazy yet but Bloomington is an older community with plenty of elderly people. I had one older guy who passed me with no more than 12 inches to my left. It didn’t appear he cheated at all toward the left of his lane. He was wearing a hat. I don’t want to offend anybody but there are two, no, three things which I look for when I ride…old men with hats, women with blue hair and anybody on a cellphone.

I pressed on westward into a 20+ mph wind trying to catch whatever protection from the wind I could from passing vehicles but there wasn’t much to be found…not today. I rode by the home where I spent most of my school years from 1966 to ’75. It was a good home for us. I cycled past my elementary school and took this photo of the playground where Bob Johnson and I got into a fight after school in 5th grade. I don’t know how it started but I seem to have this out of body visual of us fighting and wrestling on the ground with a circle of kids around us. We were finally broken apart by one of the teachers and dusted off and sent home. It was to be the only fight I’ve ever been in and hopefully the last. I’m pretty sure I cried.

Highland Hills Golf Course was where I used to hang out and watch with fascination as people played up to the 8th green and teed off on #9. I’d never played on a real course yet as a kid of 12 or 13, just knocking the ball around the schoolyard but I used to like to watch other people play. One day a guy a bit older than me told me about a place off the course alongside #4 tee box where you could find the balls golfers hit out of bounds and never bothered to look for because to get to them they’d have to climb a fence and look through tall grass. But that was just the half of it…you could sell the balls back to other golfers. I could make $5-7 for a few hours work out there and it was fun. I’d bring an egg carton and display the balls I’d find in it. Usually one or two of the guys from the foursome waiting to tee off would wander over to see what I had and often enough they’d buy something from me…maybe too often as the course owner would sometimes chase us away. Maybe we were cutting into his sales in the clubhouse…I don’t know. I still remember the first ball I ever found…it was a Dynaflyt. I’d never heard of it before but it was new and shiny and was easily worth 50c.

Just across the street from the golf course was Al Boehne’s house. That was where I saw my girlfriend of a year and a half (Sandy) kissing one of my good friends (or so I thought) at a New Years Eve party, 1973. It killed our relationship and was the catalyst for my first real attempt at poetry. A broken heart gives you lots of material and emotion to work with.

I next biked past the apartments where I stayed the last half of my senior year in high school. My dad’s job took our family to Pottstown PA and I was given the option of staying behind to finish school. There wasn’t much of anything for me to consider…of course I opted to stay behind. My dad took me out and together we found a 5-year-old 1970 Ford Maverick, 3-on-the-tree with a plaid front bench seat. That bench seat would come in handy a few months later when in the spring of ’75 I tore cartilage and strained ligaments in my right knee during a softball game and had to have my leg put in a full length cast for 3 weeks. I found that I could still drive if I extended my leg along the seat. That only left me with my left foot to work the brake, clutch, and gas but I managed. I don’t suppose there is much stopping a determined kid with places to be. Two weeks after getting out of my cast I would tear cartilage and ligaments on the other side of the same knee in a fall and end up in another full leg cast. I’m still recovering from the second fall and always will be.

Through west Bloomington and into Eden Prairie I’m cycling past Flying Cloud airport I look over at the planes parked at Executive Aviation and all of the tail numbers are familiar to me from my job as a controller. I don’t work at Flying Cloud but all of these planes eventually make their way through my airspace. I continue on along Flying Cloud Dr and the wind is hitting me hard. Another 5 miles and I’ll be able to turn out of the wind and head south back across the Minnesota River into Shakopee. I won’t be totally done with headwinds for the day but most of the hard work is done.I’m cruising nicely along hwy 101 east of Shakopee past Valley Fair where I try to find myself at least one or two days each summer. Power Tower is my favorite…the red towers...and you can't hang on!

I head south on hwy 13 and climb out of the river bottom into Savage. It’s a nice grade with a good shoulder but I could really use a drink as my water bottles have been empty for the last several miles. I get into Prior Lake and pull into a gas station knowing they have no Hostess products but they do of course of Gator Aid. I grab a bottle of the sweet nectar and a package of Mrs. Freshley’s Apple Danish. Its 480 calories will be more than enough to bring me home. I sit outside in the 48-degree weather and take off my left shoe as the heat pack I’ve got stuffed in its toe is bothering me after 50+ miles and I really don’t need it.

I jump back on my bike and take advantage of a nice tailwind as I head for home. It’s been a nice afternoon but I need to get home as it’s clouding up and the sun is getting low in the sky making me difficult to see in the rush hour traffic. I get off the main highway and onto Judicial where I’ll be able to add a few extra miles to the trip. Judicial is a winding and at times hilly road with not much traffic. There are also lots of deer in the woods which sometimes come out of nowhere to remind you that they’re there.

The final stretch of highway for me today will be county road 46 which is one mile north of home. It’s been a good afternoon in the saddle but I’m ready to bring it home and get in a hot shower.

I get home just ahead of Tammy and Rachel and before I can get out of my sweaty clothes, Rachel is giving me a high five for having successfully negotiated speech tryouts for high school. She’s craving Italian food and suggests that maybe we can all celebrate her school day by going out to eat. I mention Cossetta’s in St Paul and both she and my wife are more than agreeable to the idea. It’s one of our favorite spots for Italian and always a good time.

My bike is a filthy mess and I keep telling myself that one of these warm days I’ll take some time and clean it real good but I just can’t seem to waste any of these warm days cleaning it when I can be riding. It’s a good problem to have.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Best Buy...Sucks

I've been without my laptop since October 12th when I took it in for servicing by the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Here's a copy of a letter I sent to their corporate office last week.

Best Buy
Corporate Customer Care
P.O. Box 949
Minneapolis, MN 55440

To whoever may wish to help me, 11/27/2006

I brought my laptop in for servicing back in September to the Best Buy in Apple Valley, MN for a keyboard, touchpad, and CD ROM read/write which had gone bad. The problems were resolved within a few weeks and I had my laptop back. One week later the TV tuner on my laptop quit working. I reformatted the hard drive to see if I could resolve the problem myself as I did not want to be without my laptop for another extended period of time. I determined that the problem was hardware and not software and brought my laptop back for service on October 12th, 2006. The tech spent 30 minutes trying to fix the problem but agreed with me that it appeared to be hardware related and that they would have to send it back to Louisville for repairs and that he would put a rush on it. A couple weeks went by and I phoned in to check on my laptop’s status. I was told that they were waiting on parts. I waited another week before following up and was told that it was fixed and in transit.

When I went in to pick up my laptop on November 7th I inquired as to what parts they replaced. I was told that they didn’t replace any parts and that it was a small software update which was the problem. I was skeptical but brought my laptop home and checked to see if was indeed fixed. It was not. I brought it back within 30 minutes and told the tech that it was not fixed and that they needed to look at it again. The tech spent 20 minutes trying to get it to work but was unable to. They wrote up another service invoice and told me they would put a rush on it as it once again needing to be sent to Louisville. I got home and phoned Best Buy to speak with the manager on duty. I spoke with Jessica. She was very sympathetic to my frustration and assured me that if the laptop came back again in the same condition (not fixed) that I would receive a replacement laptop. I was fine with that.

On November 17th I was phoned and told that my laptop was back and that I could come in and pick it up. I asked the tech what they did to fix it and he told me that they replaced the hard drive. I told him that the hard drive was fine but felt I’d play along and wait until I saw if my laptop worked or not. This time I asked the tech to show me at the service counter that it was indeed working rather than take it home and find that it was still broken. It was not working. I asked the tech what services were performed and she said that none were. I just spent another week and a half waiting for no reason whatsoever. I told them that I’ve been extremely patient with Best Buy and that I was tired of waiting and being lied to about the extent to which they were actually doing repairs on my laptop. No parts were ever replaced when I was told that they were waiting on parts and no hard drive was replaced when I was told that it was. I was also told that they had reformatted the hard drive but this too was untrue.

At this time the service manager (Nick Rosenow) got involved in the situation. He was very deceitful and condescending in his approach to me. He told me that there really wasn’t much else they could do and that they had no comparable laptop to exchange for mine. His words to me were that I ‘was out of luck’. I told him that they actually do have a comparable laptop but he insisted that they did not. I asked him to follow me back to the computer department and showed him an HP which included a TV tuner similar to what my laptop has. He said he wasn’t aware that they carried that. Rather than apologize for being wrong he then began to confuse the issue by saying that my laptop wouldn’t qualify for the ‘no lemon’ clause because it didn’t meet the 3 qualifying repairs. He also stated that since my warranty had expired while my laptop was in for servicing that there really wasn’t anything he needed to do and anything he did do would be a cost ‘which he would have to eat.’ Excuse me but you cannot hold onto my laptop for six weeks, do no repairs then after the warranty expires tell me I’m out of luck. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office will most certainly frown on this as will the Better Business Bureau when I tell them and I intend to be in touch with them if you do not resolve this to my satisfaction without delay.

Nick insisted that I let him try and get my laptop fixed and that he knew of an option that nobody else was aware of. I told him that if such an option existed it should not be something which only he was aware of…why wouldn’t all the service techs know of this option? The option was to send it to a shop in Bloomington where a friend of his who works on Apple computers will fix it. I’m not even sure if this is a Best Buy service shop. I asked Nick how long this would take and he said it could be several weeks. I told him that I wasn’t interested in being without my laptop for several more weeks since they’d already had it for 6 out of the last 7 weeks. He told me they would expedite it. That conversation took place on 11/17.

I left that night more frustrated than I have been in years at what was happening and the stonewalling treatment I was receiving. I called the corporate number and lodged my complaint with a woman named Gabby or Abby at extension 60091. She told me that I did, in fact, qualify to receive a replacement laptop and that I could go to the store that night and get one. I waited on hold while she unsuccessfully tried to contact the store. She was unable to get through but told me that she would keep trying and that I should go to the store and give them her extension number to call her if need be. I got to the store 15 minutes later and explained to Jessica what I was told. I waited 45 minutes before Jessica found me and told me that there would be no replacement for me but that she would be sure to follow up and get in touch with me. That was the last I heard from her. She told me how she was an advocate for me. Yeah, right.

I phoned again on the 11/22 and spoke with Nick. I asked what the status was of my laptop and he said it was still at the store. I asked to speak with his manager, Paul. He said he would have him return my phone call. Paul never returned my phone call. I called Nick back and told him that he should expect a visit from me at the store shortly and that I wanted to speak with Paul. When I finally got to speak with Paul I asked him what he understood my problem to be. He told me that he has a busy store to run and I told him I only needed a few minutes of his time. I asked him again what he understood my problem to be. I didn’t appear to me that he had a clue as to the treatment I’d been receiving or the frustration I was feeling. He simply stated that he stands by his manager and that whatever he says he believes. In other words; it didn’t really matter what I had to say as he couldn’t care less. I told him that if I had to I would elevate this to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and he said that we were done talking if that was the case. I asked him what other option did he feel that I had? He told me again that he had a busy store to run and so I left.

It is now 11/27 and my laptop remains at the Apple Valley store…I know because I just phoned the store to check on it. It has not left. Is this what I should expect when I’m told that my situation would be expedited?

I intend to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau. I intend to contact every television news station in the Twin Cities and see if there is a trend which needs to be exposed with the way you do business. I paid honest money for the extended warranty for the expensive laptop I bought at your store. I expect that if you’re unable to fix it as your warranty states that you will live up to the agreement we both entered into…this part of the agreement in particular…

*Products, including those within the original manufacturer’s warranty period, may be repaired or replaced with a comparable product, or Best Buy will issue a voucher for the original purchase price at our discretion.

You have had my laptop in your possession for 7 weeks and have been unable to fix it. My laptop was in your possession one month before the warranty expired. I demand a replacement laptop at this point! I have waited long enough and I have run out of patience. If this problem is not resolved by Friday, December 1st, I will follow through with my plans to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s office as well as the Better Business Bureau and the many news media outlets in the Twin Cities. Thanks for your attention.

Kevin Gilmore

P.S. My wife and I were in the market this past weekend for a washer and dryer. I can guarantee you that we would have in all likelihood made the purchase at Best Buy prior to being abused by your managers. We instead chose to take our business elsewhere and used your competitor across the street. Please see the enclosed receipts.

I received a letter in the mail yesterday from bb's corporate office telling me that they were confident the TV tuner they've got on order will fix my laptop's problems but if for some reason it doesn't work they will come up with an alternative solution. I'm holding off on contacting the Attorney General's office until they've replaced the tuner.

I had no idea that there was such a culture of deceit and lies associated with the staff at bb. I'd be very interested to see how they indoctrinate their workers to go along with the program. I'm sure it's something very either want the job or you don't. There must be some rogue employees who won't be silenced. Think I'll skip on over to and see if I can find some. appears the above link has been bought out by the evil company itself as it no longer goes to the site it once did and now takes you to an official BB site.