Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Pictionary

I have a few other doozies, but this was particularly blog-worthy....

Cousin Trevor draws a "new born" for the word "new"....

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So this is Christmas

Delayed flights, terrible weather and dangerous driving conditions aside, Christmas remains my favourite holiday.

At 27, I still love presents, but the time I spend with my family brings far more happiness than any gift ever could. I know some people dread spending time exorbinant amounts of time with their families, but not me! We can all relate to those moments where we want to strangle someone close to us, and I'm not denying those exist in the Lundquist-Valihora family circles, but for the most part, we all get along.

This year, Mom, Dad and Kelsey made the trek to Calgary to spend the holiday with me and Brody in our new home. With three dogs (Atlas, Rocky and Barkley), and seven adults in one house, chaos is sure to ensue, but I just thank the sweet lord no kids are running around! Could you imagine?

With Brody being a slave to the retail world, I'm glad to have my family to keep me occupied over the next little while.

Tonight we'll open our obligatory Christmas pyjamas from Mom, leave the cookies and milk for Santa and wait for the sugarplum fairies to arrive. Then, like a four-year-old, I'll wake everyone up at around 7 a.m. My sister particularly likes being jarred awake by moi...especially when I make her get out of bed and then sit and wait to open her stocking. I don't allow a single gift to be opened until we're all gathered around the living room, the prepared-in-advance breakfast in the oven, coffees (or Bailey's hot chocolates) in hand.

My aunt and uncle in Didsbury have invited us out for Christmas dinner, so we'll head out there for the afternoon and spend the night. Unfortunately, Brody will have to drive back to Calgary since he's expected to be at work at around 3:45 A.M. Aaah....the joys of the electronics retail world.

All in all, it is sure to be a memorable Christmas season.

I hope the time you spend with your family is happy, healthy, and full of laughter.

All the best for a Merry Christmas a very happy new year.


Friday, December 19, 2008

U-haul is going down...

Some of you have heard about my horrendous U-haul experience from earlier this month. For those of you who haven't, the story is recapped below in my responses to the four-question customer satisfaction survey I received once my reservation was finally closed last week.

Prepare yourself for a rant, and read on:

I rated my overall experience as "poor" and the truck as "good". Following are my responses to the two open-ended questions they asked. Bad idea, U-haul!
I know these responses aren't going to help; they probably won't even be read. But, I must say, writing this helped lower my blood pressure after a few very intense phone calls.

1. Tell others about your experience.

I've had pretty bad U-haul experiences in the past, but this one takes the cake. I reserved a 14' truck one and a half months in advance to ensure I would have a truck when my boyfriend FLEW to Fort McMurray from Calgary to move our belongings back down to Calgary.
Two days before my rental was scheduled, I received a nice call from U-haul confirming the reservation. I was told that there was no 14' truck available, so they were providing us with a 17' truck for the same price. Well, not ideal, but fine.

We arrived at the pick-up location when it opened at 9 a.m. only to have the guy tell us "there was no truck for us" and he had "no idea why they would tell you we had a truck". Apparently, the trucks out in the yard were only to be used for in-town moves and there was no truck available for a long distance move. NOT ACCEPTABLE! Both my boyfriend and I had taken the day off of work and he had FLOWN from Calgary specifically for this. Both of us had to be back at work the next day and he had no other way of getting back to Calgary. The guy working at the location called the regional office and discovered there was a TWENTY SIX foot truck coming in, but he "had no idea when it would arrive". The plan was to load all of our items into the truck by noon and then have my boyfriend drive back to Calgary that night. Because of U-haul's terrible service and unreliable reservation system, my boyfriend had to take an ADDITIONAL day off work because we weren't able to pick up the truck until 4 p.m. Again, not acceptable.
We were also told they did not have a dolly for us, even though we'd reserved it along with 10 moving blankets.

When we finally finished loading our items, it was 7 p.m and far too late to be driving back to Calgary.

The next day, my boyfriend drove the truck back to Calgary, we unloaded the items at our house and returned the truck to the Barlow Trail location (the main U-haul location on Meridian Road NE) at 8 p.m. on December 4 (one day EARLIER than required). The next day at 6 p.m. I received a call from another u-haul location wondering where our truck was because apparently it was supposed to be dropped off at his location. I have no idea how this happened since we ALWAYS drop trucks off at the Meridian Road/Barlow Trail location.

Then, THIRTEEN DAYS after we had dropped off the truck, I receive a call from U-haul. They ask me where the truck is because "they don't have it and it's 10 days over due". I have no f*cking clue where your god damn truck is! I dropped it off thirteen days ago and followed your process (drop off the truck, lock the doors, drop the keys in the 'key drop' slot in the side of your building).

The girl from the regional office explains that the location doesn't have the truck, so I explain exactly where we left it (right down to the parking lot stall). She says someone will call me back today or tomorrow.

I decided to do my own investigation and called the Barlow Trail location myself. After being placed on hold for 13.5 minutes, I hung up and called back. Luckily, this time I was rewarded! A lovely girl named Stephanie called and managed to stay on the phone long enough to work through the issue. It turns out the truck wasn't properly returned to their system and it had been rented out and was now in GRANDE PRAIRIE. Thank you Stephanie for solving my problem.

Thank you, U-haul, for providing me with enough content to fill a blog post about your terrible service and thank you for providing me reason to never rent from you again.

2. What can we do to improve for the next customer?

Overhaul your processes and systems and start focusing on customer service - from the top of your organization, down to the bottom. There are surely good, smart people who work for you. Put their brains in one room and start coming up with ideas about how you can perform a massive overhaul of your service delivery model.


I think this was probably one of the first buses every built. Don't you?

Aah...nothing but the best in ol' FM!


Ps- I get to go to Calgary today and will be there 'til the 5th! Yayyyy.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hair dye gone wrong

More on this tomorrow, but this is a box dye job gone wrong.

I now have red roots and brown hair. Great.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The tickle trunk?

No, it's not from the tickle trunk, its from Le Chateau and this is Kelsey demonstrating her need to be very selective about the hats she chooses to put on her head.

She looks like a sparkley mushroom in this one.

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Playing dress up

Aren't these the worst sun glasses ever? No one would look good in these dandies.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The good ol' days

It seems like only yesterday when my little sister was two years old and dressed as Pippi Longstocking for Halloween.

Today she's all grown up and turning into a fabulous woman.

We both have the same destination in mind, we've just chosen different paths.

I've seen her turn over new leaves since she's been here and I couldn't be more proud.

You're gonna make it after all, sissy.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Writer's block

Sometimes I want to blog, but the words just don't come. Unfortunately, I can't use the excuse that I "write for a living" because Meghan and Nick keep their blogs alive and well and both of them are trained journalists.

I also want to write about interesting new topics, but I have come to realize that the monotony of daily life is much easier for a few reasons: 1. My family reads this thing. 2. My co-workers may read this thing. 3. I am a libra and find it difficult to have a strong opinion about anything.

I've heard the quote 'If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything', but I don't necessarily think that applies to me. I do have beliefs, but they are the kind of beliefs that aren't steadfast. I can always see the other side, I always believe there are exceptions.

Take these as a sample:

Capital punishment? It has its place...if you can prove without a doubt you have the right person.
Abortion? Tough one. When I was 15, and 16 and 17, and 18...I was like "no way, no abortions".....buuuuut, then things change. Again, I think they have their place, but not as birth control.
Euthenasia? Agree. This one I'm not as "iffy" on.
Politics? Well, I'm kind of a barely left of centre kinda gal...

Even though I may not have "stab your eyes out if you disagree" opinions about things, I am still reasonably educated enough to banter back and forth on any one of the above if I had to.

And, for those of you who read this thing, that's not a challenge, so eff off.

This may be the first time I've ever had a blog post about something other than daily life.

Yay me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Barkley, the white-nosed basset....."

Barkley likes the snow!

He's so cute sometimes...

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Home sweet home

It's official. Brodie and I own our very first detached home. It doesn't have a white picket fence, and there aren't 2.5 kids living in it (though he does have two roommates....), but it's lovely and suburban and scary and great and I'm happy that I once again have a place to call my own. From the pictures above, you will also notice Barkley is settling in nicely, as well. He even has a buddy, Atlas, who belongs to Brodie's roommate Candice. Atlas weighs about 7 pounds I suspect, which is nearly 1/10 of Barkley. Somehow, they still manage to wrestle safely.
I flew in from Fort McMurray on Wednesday morning while Brodie left the great white north in our U-haul. No, I didn't fly because I didn't want to drive in a U-haul with Brodie for eight straight hours; I had meetings here in Calgary on Wednesday and Thursday, so work required me to travel via plane.
After spending Wednesday night downtown in a hotel and then working all day Thursday, I was really looking forward to finally stepping foot inside our new house. That is, until I remembered all the work I had to do. Thursday evening a friend of Brodie's popped over to help him unload the truck. It took less than an hour and with all my traffic control, I managed to get them to drop the boxes in the right places, which made unpacking a bit easier.

Friday morning Brodie left for Edmonton to help open a new 60,000 square foot ginormous store and I got up to tackle the house. There were boxes everywhere, but I managed to work my way through them, one at a time. I also tried to make sure I put away everything I unpacked from a box. It's funny how being away from your own personal household possessions for six months helps you decide what's necessary and what's not. As a result of all the unpacking, I have another large box to drop off at the Salvation Army tomorrow.

Today I spent the morning doing much of the same as Friday - unpacking, setting up an office area in the unfinished basement and making notes of things I needed to pick up.

After two days of hard, steady work, the place is finally starting to resemble a home. Our home.
I can't wait until you can all come over for a little house warming get together. Check out the pics of our new place here (more decorating to come...).

PS - once again, please ignore the terribly-decorated Christmas tree above (and in the post below). Brodie has informed me he'll "fix it when he gets home".
Ciao bellas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

World's worst Christmas tree decorator..

Now I know why Brodie does the tree every year. So much for my surprise!!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The u-haul

Good thing I didn't go to the U-haul place alone. I may have been chopped into tiny pieces and stuffed in one of the zillion cars they have parked behind this classy joint.

Can you believe this is the site of the U-haul business??? Oh wait, its Fort McMurray, of course you can.
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