knitting, Blossom

Small changes with big results

For some time, Newton has been thinking about, and then moving toward a robo-trash system. (It sounds cool that way, huh?) This means they gave everyone in the city new trash & recycling bins, and the truck that collects them is driven by one guy, and the bins are picked up and dumped by robot arms. (OK, it looks cool too) The problems with this are that you only get one trash can unless you rent an extra ($$!!), and how snow banks affect the collection. I have been very skeptical about this program, but since we started two weeks ago I'm cautiously pleased. The trash can has a large capacity, larger than our normal weekly output. This may require some trash juggling from week to week during times when we generate a lot, but I think we can manage it. Secondly, the recycling is now single-stream -- no separation.

I had no idea what an impact single-stream recycling could have on my life. This means we no longer have to maintain a paper recycling area, which in our house was in the knee space of the built-in desk in the kitchen. I bought a small filing cabinet to put there, which does take up some of the knee space, but not enough to bother me. This means the stacks of papers on every non-food surface are put away out of sight. Furthermore, since the desk is now clear of paper, I can put my laptop there (it used to stay on the kitchen table, where it was in danger of spills) and actually get work done. Wow.

Second little change: for some time I've been trying to find a way to encourage our kids to do chores. Not onerous stuff, it really amounts to picking up after themselves. 530nm330hz doesn't like the idea of paying for chores, since he feels a family is a socialist entity. I agree with that principle, although my higher priority is turning out children who are considerate, clean, and responsible with their property. So we're trying a new system, based on systems we've heard other people talk about, but customized to our needs.

I bought a bucket of 1000 colored plastic disks, and two small plastic boxes. I labeled the boxes with the kids' names. Then I sat down and wrote a detailed list of things I wanted the kids to do, and assigned point values to them. I assigned low values to lower priority things and also to things the kids already do fairly consistently, and higher values to higher priority/more difficult items. The whole family discussed it and agreed to try it. They have the opportunity to earn about 20 tokens per day, plus about 20 more on a weekly basis for less frequent chores. They can spend 10 tokens for a half hour of tv or computer time, or save tokens to convert to money, 100 tokens to the dollar.

So far, it's great. They love earning the tokens, and there's been very little token-spending. We have more cooperative kids and the house is running more smoothly with a lot less parental angst.
knitting, Blossom

movie time

I took the kids to see Monsters vs. Aliens. Yes, just now. Yes, on a Friday. Yes, on the one day between Pesach and shabbat. Sheesh.

It's a very fun, silly movie. I have a low tolerance for the kind of bathroom jokes that pass for humor in kids' movies (and a lot of adult movies) but I was kept entertained throughout. Sure, it's formulaic, but it's meant to be a parody of all sorts of monster and alien movies, so it's as it should be.

It's loaded with voice talent -- when the opening credits announced that Stephen Colbert plays the President, I laughed just in anticipation of that performance. I was left wondering though, if American viewers of "House" would leave the movie unable to recognize Hugh Laurie using his normal accent.
knitting, Blossom

an observation

I walked in the shul on shabbat morning with gnomi. We paused in the entrance for a few moments and I said to her, "Your mother is sitting with my boss."

Don't get to say that every day.
knitting, Blossom

(no subject)

'Twas the night before sukkot, and all through the sukkah,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a ...

Um, never mind. Chag sameach, one and all.
science

Good and bad customer service

Our oven is a problem oven. It is eight years old this month, and has had a minimum of five service calls on it, one of them within a week of installation. For the past year, approximately, it's been having intermittent problems where the electronic control panel effectively crashes, and needs to be rebooted by being shut off at the breaker. We've put up with this, I guess out of lethargy. For the past three weeks, it has not been able to recover from rebooting; it crashes immediately on being restarted. This is a completely unacceptable state.

All of our service has been handled by the distributor we bought it from, Jarvis Appliance. They have been unfailingly polite, fairly prompt, and full of good advice throughout our relationship with them. Today, I stopped by their store to get a copy of our service records as ammunition in a phone call with Thermador's customer service. I was assisted by a lovely woman who I suspect is a part-owner, since "Jarvis" is part of her name. She must have spent half an hour with me, painstakingly going through the computer records and writing them down for me. She gave a bunch of tips on dealing with Thermador, and helped me schedule a service call, squeezing me in for this afternoon. So, yay for Jarvis. They've earned our business.

When I got home I called Thermador customer support, and read them the litany of problems with this oven. The part that is [probably] causing the current problem has already been replaced -- twice. The very polite phone service employee who spoke to me was very apologetic, but all they can do for me is offer a 25% discount if I buy the new part directly from them. This is customer service? This oven has never worked right, it's had serial breakdowns of the same part, which leads one to conclude that there is a major design flaw with it. But as we know, phone customer service people are really just trained to say no politely.

We're fixing it this time, mostly because I can't afford to be without an oven before shavuot, and replacing it will be a huge expenditure of time and money. But next time it breaks, which I suspect won't be long, we're replacing it.

And not with another Thermador.

An Update:

There is a difference in treatment between an insider and a member of the public. The Jarvis service guy was here, and called up Thermador's tech support to confer about the problem. They agreed it was the third-time-failing part, plus some contributing factors. Then the tech support guy forwarded the Jarvis guy to customer support (I'm suspecting Tier II customer support) who agreed that Thermador would pay for all the parts.

Am I happy? Well, I'm glad I don't have to pay $300 + out of pocket. But the fact that Jarvis guy got satisfaction just illustrates my point: Thermador's (Tier I?) customer service's job is to say no. Politely.
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    infuriated infuriated
knitting, Blossom

April Fool's

This morning 530nm330hz was running late, but came running back in the house to tell me that raccoons had had their way with our trash, and he didn't have time to clean it up. A little while later I went out to deal with it.

Alissa, apparently remembering a story I'd told her recently about how she locked me out of the house when she was 15 months, decided to play a trick on me. She didn't just decide to lock me out, though, she really put some thought into it. When I came back to the door after my task, I found the door closed and deadbolted, but sitting on the railing next to the door were my keys.

I unlocked the door and congratulated her on her trick. She's very proud of her April Fool's.
knitting, Blossom

Pesach cleaning and allergies make for a cranky me

I spent all day yesterday sneezing and sniffling from a combination of tree and dust allergies. I am so happy that I tolerate pseudoephedrine well, I couldn't get by without it.

I am not quite done with week 2 (ABK) cleaning, it's a long list -- but I've completed the Worst Job of the Year. That is, cleaning out the kids' art boxes and recycling a good portion of it. We permit the kids to save anything they want in their art bins in the dining room, both the things we'll want to save forever and the ephemeral things that need a cooling-off period. Since the bins are kept in the dining room, they really need to be cleaned out before pesach. So today I emptied, sorted, shook out the bins and swept behind them, and put the keepers into long-term storage.

It's a necessary but daunting task that brings out happy emotions of reviewing the wonderful things they've done, and sad emotions of letting many things go. In T's case, a lot of the stuff he brings home is art he worked hard on, and writing or math exercises that I want to keep. He also brings home monstrously large things he's made out of construction paper, and some of these have to go. Alissa produces massive amounts of art, some of which is very thoughtfully crafted.

Now I have to hide the bags of recycling.
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    melancholy melancholy