Friday, December 23, 2011

Going To The Dogs With Rachael Ray In My Quest For Free Stuff

(l-r) Teco, me and Tinker

I’m like a lot people out there who enjoys getting free things.  I haven’t fell victim to the online e-mail hoax where people believe that Microsoft will send them a hundred bucks if you just forward a special e-mail to ten people.  The only reason I haven’t fell victim to this is because I know it doesn’t work – if it did I would have exhausted my e-mail address book sending those “please forward this e-mail” message to my friends a long time ago because I like free stuff.

In my quest for free stuff, I signed up for an online service that sends you an e-mail daily with links for all kinds of free stuff.  I have gotten all kinds of free stuff – like samples of all of Nescafe’s instant coffee blends (which were actually pretty tasty), packets of a vitamin C beverage powder, samples of Splenda and lots of other things that I can’t remember right off the top of my head. 

This week, I received a free sample of something that I was actually looking forward to receiving – a sample of one of Rachael Ray’s dog food products that she talks about on her syndicated show.  The product that I received was “Just 6” – from Rachael Ray’s line of Nutrish© brand of super premium food for dogs – and I was looking forward to serving it to my two dogs Tinker and Teco – unfortunately my dogs were that excited about seeing it in their dishes.

You wouldn’t think that dogs would have a discriminating palate – I mean – dogs sniff each other’s ass, lick their own butts and have been known to actually eat their own shit if it smells right to them – that doesn’t sound like they are too discriminating to me.  My dogs can be fussy though.  They love Old Roy’s Kibbles and Chucks from Wal-Mart and both of my dogs will actually eat their favorite kibbles and chucks and leave their least favorite pieces scattered about around their bowls – that’s discriminating.  I have served them Kibbles and Bits from Purina in the past and they’ll eat it – but they have ways of letting me know that they would rather see Old Roy from Wal-Mart in their dishes and not the more expensive blend from Purina.

I was kind of hoping that when I opened up the “Just 6” packet of dog food from Rachael Ray that my dogs would look at this food as something of a treat – I mean Rachael is selling it as a “super premium” dog food (and, I’m assuming, at a super premium price, too).  The first dog to “experience” Rachael Ray’s dog food was Tinker and her first response once the aroma of the food hit her nose was to rub her nose all around her bowl as if she was burying it and hoping that it would go away. 

When I put a bowl of “Just 6” under Teco’s nose – his first inclination was to back off from it like it was offensive to his sensitive nose (a nose that has never been offended when he’s gotten under the covers when I go to bed at night and have let loose a good ole stinky ass Dutch oven fart). 

Hey Rachael Ray – I appreciate the free dog food – but my dogs think it sucks….but if you’re interested in sending out some more free stuff – I wouldn’t mind a set of your cookware and knifes.  I promise that I won’t bury it in the backyard and I’ll let everyone know how great it is – not only because your products are great – but I like free stuff.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Just Bloggin' Around: My Latest Rants and Raves

New on your supermarket shelves -- and a must-have for any party, get-together or  just plain munching in front of the television set -- pick up a bag of new Ruffles Molten Hot Wings!  You'll thank me for them later.

Hey, if Charlie Sheen can do it – I can too – the following entry to this blog is just me ranting and raving about anything I feel like I want to rant and rave about.  Unlike Charlie Sheen – this isn’t being written by someone who’s brain has been fried with enough cocaine to give every man, woman and child in America a good buzz and I don’t have hookers and porn stars at my beckon call (just a couple of dogs and they’re getting up there in age).

Local TV News

I don’t know how you feel – but don’t you think local TV stations in America have gone a little bit overboard with “team coverage”?  Whether it’s reporting on corruption in local government or severe weather – it seems like TV stations are blowing up a report that could fill maybe five minutes and stretching it out to eternity with special “team coverage”.  It seems like they get all of their reporters zeroed in on that one story that the pool of reporters is so stretched they have to have the blonde traffic reporter go out and cover “real news” which only leads to more embarrassment for the news organization.

And here’s another thing about television news that gets my goat – a newscast is a program that disseminates news it is not “a show”.  I have heard local news people and network people call their news cast “a show” and I could just scream.  If you want me to take your news cast and what you report seriously – then take your own newscast seriously by calling it a news program.  A newscast is a news cast and a show is what Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland did in the old movies to raise money for the war effort or what Ed Sullivan use to host every Sunday night on CBS.  Are you journalists or entertainers?  Journalists inform and entertainers entertain – choose sides and label what you are correctly, please.

Celebrity Apprentice

I know that “Celebrity Apprentice” is not the “must watch” reality TV show that it once was – but like a moth attracted to light – I’m attracted to “Celebrity Apprentice”.  The new season of “Celebrity Apprentice” starts tonight (March 6th) and it’s a gonna be a doozy with such celebrities as Star Jones, David Cassidy, one of the housewives from the “Real Housewives of…” reality show on Bravo, LaToya Jackson (the only member of the Jackson family who doesn’t have any discernible talent), singer Dionne Warwicke (who is no longer making any money with the psychics, former baseball player Jose Conseco, rock singer Meatloaf and everyone’s favorite celebrity crazy – Garey Busey.     

Ah, Garey Busey – we couldn’t get enough of him on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” – now we get to watch him get all fired up in the boardroom with “the Donald”.  Busey versus the Trumpster – this is gonna be better than Big Time Wrestling.  And, you know that if he last more than one or two episodes of the series – Busey is going to do or say something so outrageous that it will give America a chance to see what Charlie Sheen is going to look like if the drugs don’t kill him. 

Is the Big Gamble Paying Off – American Idol 2011

Is it just me or is this year’s “American Idol” on Fox better than you expected it to be?  Fox had a lot riding on this year’s Idol with some of the biggest changes ever on the show beginning with the arrival of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as new judges.  I expected Jennifer Lopez a judge in the Paula Abdul mold who wouldn’t say anything bad about the performers on the show – but Steven Tyler seems to have taken the old Paula Abdul judging approach.  It’s also surprising to see Randy Jackson taking on the Simon Cowell role where everything that he says about the performers is guaranteed to elicit boos and catcalls from the audience members.  Let’s just hope that Randy doesn’t start wearing those tight fitting t-shirts that Cowell use to wear on Idol.  The one thing that Randy doesn’t have is the wit and talent to sling barbs and insults back at Ryan Seacrest like Simon could – but Ryan doesn’t have to fight with Cowell anymore to be the center of attention on the show.

Speaking of Cowell – there are rumors going around that former Idol judge Paula Abdul will be joining him on the panel of his new Fox talent show “The X-Factor” when it premieres later this year.  The “X-Factor” job could not have come at a better time for Abdul who’s dance show on CBS tanked in the ratings and will not be picked up for another season.

Burger King vs. McDonald’s

Anybody who knows me knows that food really isn’t food unless you can order it through a  drive-thru window and it’s handed to you in a bag by some pimply high school kid trying to make a few bucks for weed.  McDonald’s advertising lately has been centering on their McNuggets and their BBQ Chipotle Angus Burger and the advertising has enticed me more than a couple of times to drive through the golden arches and the results of those visits haven’t exactly thrilled me.

Anyone who has read my Facebook status lately knows that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with McDonald’s BBQ Chipotle Angus burger.  If my memory serves me correctly I said that this burger was basically a salt lick between a bun and the barbeque sauce left a bad taste in my mouth and the smell of the sauce on was enough to make one sick.  The ads were right about the sauce – McDonald’s slops a lot of the sauce on this burger (which caused some of it to drip on my shirt) but it’s not enough to save this burger.  If I maybe be blunt – the McDonald’s BBQ Chipotle Angus burger sucks and it’s sad that a cow had to be sacrificed to become my personal “Unhappy Meal”.

Another item that has been advertised a lot on television lately has been the “Stuffed Steakhouse Burger” at Burger King – the burger that’s been stuffed with jalapeno peppers and chunks of cheddar cheese.  The way they described the burger and how it looked on TV and my love of BK’s A-1 Steakhouse burger was enough to get me to take a light fantastic trip to the BK drive-thru window – but it was a disappointing and wasted trip.  If you expect some heat from the jalapeno peppers in this burger you’re going to be let down.  You would expect a burger with all of those chunks of cheese to be cheesy – but you get more cheese taste in their dollar double cheeseburger. 

And let’s talk about chicken nuggets – is it me or has quality control at McDonald’s taken a dirt nap – because I can remember McNuggets tasting a whole lot better than the ones that I tasted recently.  At one time I could make a lunch of a twenty piece McNugget and a side of fries and leave Ronald’s place happy, but not anymore.  There seems to be more batter or something on the chicken nugget that doesn’t make them as tasty as they once were.  If I wanted the taste of batter – I would get to McDonalds in the morning and order a side or two of their pancakes – but I wanted some tasty McNuggets and I didn’t get them.

When it comes to chicken nuggets – Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets (from their value menu) with ranch dipping sauce and a side of their new natural cut fries with sea salt can’t be beat.  If you haven’t been to Wendy’s lately – it’s worth the trip there just to grab an order of their fries – they are so tasty that you don’t want to drown them with any ketchup

Quick Takes

Frito-Lay is doing some promotion with their Ruffles brand of potato chips and asking people to vote for their favorite flavors online.  They currently have two new flavors on the shelves with one of them being “Molten Hot Wings” and I don’t care what other flavors they throw out there – these chips win hands down.  Ruffle Molten Hot Wing chips actually taste like hot wings and there’s a little bite (not a whole lot) to them too.  If you see a bag of these chips on your supermarket shelves – pick up a bag or two and if you’re interested more in this Ruffles flavor promotion go to

If you’re looking for cheap buffalo hot wings (along with a delicious hot and sour soup) – take my suggestion and go to Empire Wok on M-21 Lapeer – it’s worth the trip.  Empire Wok is one of the most affordable Chinese buffets in Michigan and their food is delicious and you can’t beat the lunch or dinner prices.  A recent trip to Empire Wok for lunch ended up costing me a little more than sixteen bucks for two people and that’s with a tip included – which is pretty damn affordable.

Well…by looking at the length of today’s blog, I think it’s time for me to say goodbye or as my old friend Dave Barber would end his radio show – “It’s time for me to count my tips and say good-bye”.  So, until we meet again via the written word – keep the grin above your chin and good thoughts in your head.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another Tale of Frustration: Dealing With DirecTV

On our last visit – I shared with you some of the frustrations that I have been having and I promised that I would share my frustrations with DirecTV and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  As many of you know – and even the casual reader of this blog can easily figure out – I love TV – what I don’t like is when I can’t watch television because of an equipment malfunction and that’s what lit the fuse in one of my recent frustrating moments.

I live in an area that is not served by cable.  Even though Comcast has wired the area everywhere around where I live – they have not wired our street where I live – plus, I wouldn’t have the rat bastards at Comcast wire my home for anything.   So, if I want to enjoy television I have only two choices – hooking up an antenna (which isn’t a great solution because I am miles from a grade A television signal) or hooking up with one of the satellite television providers.  I chose the later.  At one time, I subscribed to Dish Network – but I changed to DirecTV after Dish took one of the channels that we liked and pushed it into the next tier of programming.

I instantly liked DirecTV from the moment that they hooked us up.  DirecTV comes across as a little more professional operation than the Mom and Pop approach that Dish has.  Plus -- with DirecTV we were able to get more channels than we had with Dish and they also provided us a DVR with our service.

I never thought that a DVR was that big of a thing – only because I never owned one – I always looked at it as a glorified VCR – boy, was I wrong!  The pause feature when you’re watching something live has been a godsend for us folks with aging bladders.  With our DirecTV DVR – we can pause through any one of the ka-zillion  prescription drug commercials on the nightly news so we can take a piss and not miss a moment of Brian Williams and the news.  Can the poor folks in some third world country pause the programming on their TV set – I don’t think so! 

Well, you can imagine my frustration on a recent Sunday morning when the picture went out on our DirecTV and my girlfriend went through all of the “do-it-yourself repair” fixes that they tell you to do but to no avail.  When the do-it-yourself fixes don’t work, I know that you have to get on the horn and talk to someone directly about your problem – which is what I did. I was hoping that there was a way to fix it, because I couldn’t bare the thought of losing everything I had recorded that I had yet to watch – such as –

1)                  The last six episodes of last season’s “Rescue Me”
2)                  The last three recent episodes of “Parenthood” and “The Good Wife”
3)                  About a week and a half worth of “Conan” and “The Late Show With David Letterman” (including the episode of Letterman where he admitted having sex with an intern)
4)                  A few movies that I had yet to watch such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Dark Knight”…..

Plus, I had recorded a bunch of different episodes of “Dora the Explorer”, “The Cat in the Hat”, “Angelina Ballerina” and “Thomas the Train” for the grandchildren for when they come to visit.

DirecTV is like every other company that you call in that you have to deal with a bunch of recorded prompts to get you to a live person (who can be anywhere from in your own hometown to Bumfuck, Egypt – luckily DirecTV’s representatives are right here in the good ole USA) And just like every other company’s recorded prompts – you usually end up yelling into your phone receiver because the “prompts” didn’t catch what you told them and you have to go through the whole process again….but 4eventually you will reach a live human being.

When I finally reached a human being on the other end of the line and I told her what my problem was – she went through the whole process of what I could do to fix my DirecTV receiver.  I explained to her that we did everything but put our finger on my head and twirl around the living room and the receiver still didn’t work to which she explained that she would send us a new receiver – this is where the real fun begins.

“Mr. Frost, we can ship a new receiver to you and you can have it in a couple of days,” the DirecTV representative said on the phone.

“And will there be a charge for the receiver,” I asked.

That’s when she went on to say that there would be no charge for the receiver, but there would be a twenty-one dollar and some odd cents charge for the shipping and handling.

“That’s not acceptable,” I responded.  “You’re going to charge me shipping and handling for a receiver that I pay an additional fee for each month to receive programming that you charge me dearly for…I don’t think so.”

And that’s when I was put on hold – which eventually lead to me getting disconnected and hearing a dial tone on the end of my telephone receiver….which meant another phone call back to DirecTV and another ten minutes or so getting connected to a live person and telling that person the whole story.  And like the previous DirecTV representative – they were a little startled when I told them that I wouldn’t pay for shipping and handling for a new receiver….to which I was put on hold again.

When the DirecTV representative returned to the phone, I was informed that they would waive the shipping and handling fee and that I would receive the new box in a couple of days and I could hook up the new box.— to which I confronted them the fact that I would not hook up this box  and couldn’t they send someone to my home to hook it up for me.  I was informed that the instructions to hooking up the receiver are easy and I responded that I don’t care how easy the instructions were – I wasn’t hooking up their box.  I’m of the opinion that for the money that I pay DirecTV each month for programming, it only behooves them to hook up a god-damn receiver for one of their customers.  This DirecTV representative didn’t see it that way – so, I told them that they could disconnect their damn service and I’ll just get my satellite TV programming from Dish.  I was put on hold again….but not for long….but when the “voice” returned – it wasn’t the same person that I was talking to and I had to go through the whole story all over again.

So – the story was retold again for the third time.  My box doesn’t work.  I’m not paying for shipping and handling for a new receiver and I’m not going to hook up the new receiver myself – you can send a service person to hook it up or you can disconnect my service and I’ll go to Dish.  Plus, I added another wrinkle to my frustration – I had been on the phone nearly two hours with them and had been disconnect once and redirected to two other people – with me having to retell my story each and every time.  If I can’t get any satisfaction from you people at DirecTV – cancel me out and I’ll call Dish. 

I was put on hold again – but not for long – and I was forward to another department – the name escapes me right now, but this is the department that they send people that are extremely pissed and only people in this department has any authority to make it right.  This DirecTV representative apologized for all that I went through and told me that they would send a service person to my house the next day and that there would be no charge for the box or the service call – because I have been a loyal customer since 2008.  When I asked him why the first person that I talked couldn’t do what he was doing for me in the way of customer service – he didn’t have any real answer – but he apologized for all of the hassle and the inconvenience.

The next day – a local DirecTV service person arrived at my door with a brand new receiver – complete with a new remote that actually works with the flat screen television that we bought last year….and like all good stories – “and they all lived happily ever after.”

(It should be noted that my DirecTV service is bundled with my telephone service and the day after we received the new box from DirecTV…I noticed something on the DirecTV portion of our phone bill.  A week before all of my hassles with them – they decided to give me three months of Showtime, Movie Channel and Sundance as a “loyalty gift”.  Nice, huh?  If only they had some decent movies on these channels!)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tales of My Personal Frustrations - Episode #1

The east wall at Dr. McJoke -- where none of these contraptions were used during my visit.

It’s been awhile since I have written anything in this blog, so let’s make up for some lost time and allow me to vent a little bit about frustration.  We all get frustrated – sometimes it over some of the dumbest things, such as when someone cutting you off and stealing your parking space, or going to the store and forgetting to pick up the item that you went to get in the first place, and even something like not being able to beat your best Pathwords score on Facebook can frustrate you..  Me – I get frustrated when I look at what my doctor is charging for an office call and spending two hours on the phone with DirecTV that could have been solved during the first five minutes of my phone call to them.

Recently, I spent a couple of days in the hospital because the pain in my back got so bad that I literally could not walk.  I had to have an ambulance take me to the hospital – which is a little humiliating, because it’s not some life or death reason that I had to go to the hospital – I was simply in so much pain that I couldn’t walk.  I could imagine what some of my neighbors were thinking when they saw an ambulance parked in our driveway and the gossip that they were spreading around to the other neighbors and even family members – and that kind of justified the cost of what the ambulance company was going to charge me for this trip to the hospital.

I have nothing bad to say about my hospital visit.  Not too long after I got there – they shipped me down to X-ray where they took about five or six pictures of my back and then it was back to the emergency room.  In the emergency room – I was given a shot for the pain and the warned me ahead of time that this shot would help with the pain and I would feel it….and they were right.  I have never really dabbled in the drug scene in the 60s and 70s – but if they would have had stuff like this shot back then – I would have signed up for getting wasted and fried back then.  This shot that they gave me in the hospital was great – it’s too bad they didn’t provide loud rock music and a light show to go with it – but then everyone would be going to the emergency room, right?  I know that the tuna sandwich that they gave me in the emergency room was the best tuna sandwich that I have ever had – could it have been that shot they gave me?

After going over the X-rays and the blood that they took from me they decided they were going to keep me – so, I got a nice room to myself on the fifth floor at Port Huron Hospital.  For two days – I stayed in my hospital bed watching television with an IV pumping fluids in me.  And just like any hospital visit – every time that you close your eyes and go to sleep – a nurse will come in to give you some meds or, in my case, shoot some steroids in my IV line.  It was on the second day when they saw me walk down the hall with my cane like I never had any pain in my back at all that the hospital gave me my walking papers to go home.  The hospital readjusted the meds that I had been taking and advised me to see my family doctor within a week…it’s when I went to my family doctor that the frustration began. 

Unlike the medical shows on television – my family doctor is no “McDreamy” – but he’s quickly becoming a “McJoke” and I’m really questioning where I should continue to see him after this last visit.  This visit really wasn’t a whole lot different that my usual visits with him – except – he went over the diagnosis and findings that they hospital sent over to him.  We went over the blood work that I had done a week before (which is something we do every ninety days or so) and he told me that the X-rays at the hospital showed that I have degenerative arthritis and some nasty spurs on my vertebrae – plus I was suffering from dehydration.  The hospital also recommended that I sign up for some therapy and that was the extent of the whole visit to my doctor.  Then – I get the bill!

My doctor’s normal office visit is $125 – PLUS – there’s a charge of $20 for an A1C test and $5 for then to take a glucose reading of my blood (which I already did at home an hour or so before I got it his office, but naturally they can’t accept that reading).  All of these charges come as no surprise to me – it’s what comes next that gave rise to my blood pressure and becoming outright pissed.

Along with all of the charges above – I am also charged an additional $150 – why?  The official explanation goes as follows:  “Prolong Physician service in the office or other outpatient facility requiring direct (face-to-face) patient contact beyond the usual service”. 

When I called his office and talked to the billing department – she, like the good solider that she is, told me that Doctor McJoke thought that this visit was different than previous visits.  I told her it wasn’t longer than any of my past visits and he really didn’t do that much except go over the hospitals diagnosis and give me a script for physical therapy.  The woman in billing said that when Doctor McJoke went over the hospital report – he felt that he was spending more time with me than he normally does and according to his rules or what ever, he can charge extra.  The billing manager sounded a little pissed when I asked her if I should bring a stopwatch on my next visit with to see Doctor McJoke.  She pretty much told me in her official capacity as the head of billing for Doctor McJoke that there really wasn’t much I could do about the extra charge and that’s when frustration set in.

There is something that I can do about it.  One, I can confront Dr. McJoke the next time that I come in to see him and piss him off because I’m bringing up what I have to pay him for his services.  Or two, I can tell Dr. McJoke to kiss my ass and I can find another doctor who’s a little more compassionate about his or her patient’s concerns.  That’s the decision that I have got to make, but in the meantime, I just get more and more frustrated when I think about this whole ordeal.

Next:  Frustration #2 – Dealing with DirecTV.