March 5, 2009

You might be wondering what the heck happened to me lately, since I haven't updated my Thoughts and Ramblings page for awhile.  Unfortunately, my computer totally crashed early last month and it has taken me some time to buy a new one and get it up and running.  Yep, my Dell...only 3 years old...bit the dust.  To say I'm disappointed with Dell is a huge understatement.  This is the 2nd Dell I've owned that catastrophically failed.  I didn't really want to buy another, but the only way I could afford a new computer at this time was to purchase one via my work's employee purchase program.  If not for my employer and this wonderful program, I would still be without.  I still have a lot of work to do before I'm fully operational, but I'm making headway.  I hope I can retrieve my data from the old PC.  I'll keep you posted...

March 7, 2009

To say that the last month has been tough would be a bit of an understatement.  You know how sometimes it seems like everything that can go wrong does?  That's how it's been around here lately.  Just to give you an example: 

I feel a little bit beat up, frankly.  I'm still recovering from the surgery, so I'm tired and not at my best.  Muddling through.  Sometimes life is hard!!  I hope your March has gotten off to a better start...although mine would have been a lot worse if the mass they found had been malignant. 

The whole experience gave me a new appreciation for mammograms.  I have always felt like since I was low one in my family has had breast cancer and I have no other risk factors...taking time off work to get a mammogram seemed like sort of a waste of time.  I had actually put it off for a couple of years because of having to be off for the hysterectomy last February / March.  I didn't want to miss any more work than was absolutely necessary.  But it had been about 2-1/2 to 3 years since my last one, so I figured I had procrastinated as long as I probably should.  I was pretty shocked when they called to tell me they had found something and that they needed to schedule me for a diagnostic mammogram.  And I was even more shocked when the doctor met with me after the diagnostic mammogram and told me I definitely had a mass and that it would need to be removed.  Evidently the kind of tumor / mass I had is one that is very frequently what they see when there is malignancy.  In fact, the doctor told me it's the kind of mass they see that is indicative of a very viral and invasive kind of cancer, so there was a sense of urgency regarding the whole procedure.  He stressed that it had been detected early, so it could still be benign or in a pre-cancerous state.  But they didn't want to wait around.  They had me scheduled for surgery a mere 2-1/2 weeks after the diagnostic mammogram.

Because it was detected early, while it was small and not yet malignant, no further action will be required.  That mammogram saved me having to go through a fairly frightening ordeal that would have probably involved a mastectomy, chemotherapy and other medical procedures I have been spared from having to learn about first hand.  I'm thankful, because frankly, what I did go through was scary and invasive enough.   So my advice to you is, don't put it off.  Have that mammogram done it faithfully.  It really could save your life.  It may have saved mine.

March 16, 2009

Sometimes, I think if I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all!!!!  Just to give you an example of why I say this...

This last week, when I was at the grocery store, I had done my shopping, gone through the self-check line and duly bagged and loaded my groceries.  I selected my payment method (credit card), swiped my card and...what the heck?  Credit card rejected?  O.K.  That was worrisome.  I knew I wasn't maxed out.  Shouldn't be any reason for the card to be rejected...unless, God forbid, my credit card information had been stolen again and crooks had been very busy spending money I didn't have.  So, hands shaking, I pulled out my other card.  Swiped it.  Now, I'm starting to panic because that card was rejected too!!!!  I'm talking to myself, trying to keep myself from freaking out.  I would call the credit card companies when I got home, see what had happened to my account, get it straightened out.  Do what I had to do...

So I started over, selected "check" as my payment method.  But you can't do a check from the self-check-out lane, I found.  You have to have a cashier complete the transaction.  The transaction was suspended and someone came to assist me.  Moved me to another lane.  Took my check.  Ran it through.  IT WAS REJECTED!!!! 

Now, I'm freaking.  They printed out a rejection code with an 800 number on the slip, telling me I needed to call that number and get it straightened out.  In the meantime, I have no other way to pay for my groceries.  So, as the clerks eyed me suspiciously, I pulled out my cell, headed over to the customer service area and called.  They took about 15 minutes verifying all kinds of information about me, then called my bank...YES, CALLED MY verify that I had the funds in my account to pay for the groceries.  At this point, I'm scared to death, thinking some thief has cleaned me out.  The very unhelpful and cold person who was doing this also made me feel like a criminal, but I was determined to see it through and find out what was going on.  So I hung in there on the phone.  Finally, they came back on the line and told me to tell the clerk to run the check through again.  I said, "That's it?  No explanation?  No other information?"  They coldly repeated again that I was to instruct the clerk to run it through again.  And hung up.

Fine.  I told the clerk.  She looked baffled, said she would have to ring it all up again.  Had to pull everything out of the bags and scan them once more.  Took my check.  All was well.  Whew!  So at least the thief or thieves didn't get to my bank account too!  This is good, I'm thinking.  This is a relief!

I get home, unload everything and immediately called Discover, the first card I tried to use.  The customer service person said there hadn't been any attempt to use the card that morning from the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market or anywhere else.  And the last transaction on the card was legitimate.  I wasn't over my credit limit.  There was no problem with my account.  Now, I'm really confused.  What in the world was going on?

I called VISA.  Not only did they see the charge from the grocery store, it had been authorized!  I told the customer service person what had happened in the store and they were also baffled.  The previous charges made to my account were legitimate and the charge had gone through.  The assured me there was no problem with my account, but the store obviously had a problem with their system.  Ya think?  So I had to have them remove the charge, which would have caused me to pay for my groceries twice.  Wal-Mart had completed an EFT, directly debiting my bank account while I was in the store (after about 25 minutes or more dealing with their "service" via 800 number).

So, I call Wal-Mart.  The accounting person I was transferred to looks at all the transactions and can't figure out what the problem was.  She transfers me to the store manager, who is rude.  But she tells me she will check it out and get back to me.

Turns out, their satellite system was the culprit.  It glitched...right at the moment I was checking out.  Yep, lucky me.  And even though I had changed my payment method to check, because the original selection was to pay by credit card, it somehow screwed up the whole transaction and it still thought I was trying to pay with a card.  The whole encounter was hopelessly hosed because of that little hiccup, just at the time I tried to pay.

I'm hoping I get a little bit of the "luck of the Irish" tomorrow.  How about you??  I know I could REALLY use a bit of good old Irish luck!

March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!  Wishing you good luck and many blessings!!