Posts Tagged ‘Aldi’

Random Friday Thoughts — May 27, 2016

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  It’s the unofficial kick-off to the summer season.  I hope you have a great one.  It’ll be especially nice for those with a three-day weekend (Ray!).

I wasn’t planning on an installment of Random Friday Thoughts, but here it is.  Surprise!


We’re running behind schedule this year, but we’re putting up our pool this weekend.

We closed it down in late September, but I’m ready to float the weekends and afternoons away — especially now that we’re enjoying summer-like, above average temperatures in the Quad Cities.


Beth Howland, who played ditzy waitress Vera, on the long running 1970s-1980s CBS sitcom, “Alice”, has died of lung cancer. She was 74.


Howland actually died December 31, 2015, but her actor husband, Charles Kimbrough, told The Associated Press that it “her choice” not to have a memorial service or funeral.  That’s why the news is just now coming out.

As a kid, I loved her character and comedic timing.


For whatever reason, the 2014 Austrian psychological thriller/horror movie, “Goodnight Mommy”, just hit Redbox and I highly recommend it!

Susanne Wuest is incredible in the role as “The Mother” and twins, Elias and Lukas Schwarz, are mesmerizing.

The movie was Austria’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, but it wasn’t picked as a nominee.  Oscar fail!

Before I saw the movie, I wrote, “the trailer definitely creeps me out”.  Wait until you see the movie!

I don’t give too many movies this grade, but “Goodnight Mommy” gets….



I know Earth Day is in April.  But, there’s something that we can do to cut back on pollution and some communities are working hard to make it happen.

As I travel across the country (and the world), I see more and more businesses charging for those paper-thin, flimsy plastic bags that Walmart and other stores use.

They’re cheap to produce and many aren’t used again because they rip open before you even get home!  Many end up blowing in the wind or floating in area lakes and rivers.

Ban Bags

More businesses are selling cloth reusable bags and I think that’s fantastic.

Aldi stores sell the reusable bags, but they also have plastic bags.  However, if you want one (whether you throw it away or reuse it), you pay for it.

I know it’d get expensive if you’re paying for the plastic bags at big stores like Walmart, but it’d probably prompt you to buy quality, reusable bags.  And, the environment would love you for it.

Many communities are even banning or proposing bans on the plastic bags.


Fish Be You


I was wrong!

In my “Random Friday Thoughts — December 19, 2014”, I predicted that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush would be the two candidates on November’s ballot for U.S. president.

Hillary AP

Well, it looks like I’ll be right with the Democratic nominee come June 7th once New Jersey and California vote, but who would have thought the presumptive nominee out of seventeen candidates on the Republican side would be Donald Trump!

DT Masks

Scary, right?  Yes!  I don’t need to wait for an answer!


Going to Las Vegas is an annual pilgrimage for me and Ray.

We love to eat, gamble, catch a couple of shows, walk, walk, walk, and see the sights.

Las Vegas

We love checking out the beautiful hotels and casinos — especially the displays made of flowers at the Bellagio.  I really want to visit one December when the glitzy city is decorated for Christmas.

However, our next trip in late July will not include a visit to the gorgeous The Venetian and The Palazzo.

The CEO is donating $100 million (yes, million) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign! I’m sorry, but I will not help fund in any way that sorry excuse of a man that wants to be president!

There are plenty of other places there to try my luck at the slots — and eat desserts!

We’ll be visiting the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood.  It’s a tradition for us to eat there and have the weekend champagne brunch at the Stratosphere.

Spice Market Buffet Las Vegas

Have I mentioned how much I love buffets, slot machines, and Las Vegas?


Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died earlier this year of congestive heart failure at the age of 94.  Her husband, Ronald, our country’s 40th president, died back in June 2004 at the age of 93.


Since it’s an election year, I’ve mostly been reading biographies and autobiographies of political figures.  I’ve read books from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jimmy Carter, plus books on presidential wannabees Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee.

I just finished Nancy Reagan’s “My Turn” and Kitty Kelley’s “Nancy:  The Unauthorized Biography”.

What I concluded from Nancy’s book is that she definitely heavily influenced Ronald Reagan in his two terms as California’s governor (1967-1975) and his two terms as president (1981-1989).

Even in her own words, I don’t think she was probably a very nice person (outwardly).  However, I don’t think she was the evil pariah that Kelley made her out to be.

But, reading some of the accusations made by Kelley — including an affair with Frank Sinatra, date rape, and unplanned pregnancies — it definitely makes one wonder what was really going on in the lives of one of the most conservative political families.


To restore some of my faith in Ms. Reagan, I read Michael Deaver’s “Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan”.

Although it’s a short book, don’t waste your time.  It’s basically the “CliffsNotes” version of Nancy’s “My Turn”.

He told the same stories she did with very little new insight.  The book only one earned its worth when in the last thirty or so pages, he addressed Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Disease.


There’s one thing that I would never dispute about the Reagans — their love for each other in their 50+ years of marriage.  It’s very admirable.

I still have a few more books to read about them — about their love and President Reagan’s autobiography.


I didn’t personally know or like the Reagans (especially the President).

There’s one big reason that I used to despise Reagan and it was much deeper than him defeating my favorite President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election.  Here’s a blog from the summer of 2012 to explain.  (Clicking on this blog link will open a new window, so you won’t lose your place in today’s reading.)


Since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”, Ray and I spent two weeks in China.  We met some really nice people in our tour group from all over the world, including New Zealand.

We climbed the Great Wall of China, cruised on the Yangtze River (when we weren’t fogged in and unable to move), saw the stunning Gorges, endured the worst smog I’ve ever seen in Beijing where our trip started and ended, and witnessed the lights and glamour of Shanghai, the reason we went to China!

AP Ray Shanghai.jpg

Maybe because it was for a tour group, the food was pretty bland and too Westernized.  I’m ready to enjoy my favorite Asian food in the Quad Cities, Osaka Buffet, in Moline, for some “real” tasty cuisine.

Would I ever go back to China?  Probably not.  Would I recommend seeing it once in your lifetime?  Definitely!


The first time I heard “Faded” by 18-year-old British-born Norwegian record producer Alan Walker (with vocals by Iselin Solheim), I fell in love with the song.

Instantly, I searched out more songs from Walker and much to my chagrin, I found there isn’t an album — yet.

The ethereal, very moody, and captivating song is already a chart-topping smash in Austria, Belgium,  France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vietnam, and eight other counties!

Here is the United States, the song is racing up the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart jumping from #26 to #17 this week and it’s already in the Top Ten on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

It’s getting some airplay at Top 40 radio here, but I hope it really catches on soon.  If you haven’t heard it, here it is.

Call B100 and 101.3 KISSFM here in the Quad Cities and request it.  Just tell them that Anthony from Local 4 requests that you play it. 🙂


If you’re looking for an intelligent television series to add to your summer viewing, you have to check out this five-part BBC America series. (You can catch it on Netflix.)

“London Spy” stars one of the best English actors working today, Ben Whishaw, who’s also appearing on Broadway in “The Crucible”.


It doesn’t hurt that Whishaw is charming and adorable, too!  But, I’m recommending this thriller because he’s incredible and the story is very suspenseful.

It also stars Jim Broadbent (“Moulin Rouge!”) and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”).



Since I don’t write as much as I used to or as much as I’d like, I appreciate you checking out this week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”.  As always, feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree — just do it diplomatically.

Have a great holiday weekend and remember the great men and women that made this Memorial Day weekend a holiday.


Customer (Dis)service

I despise automatic phone trees when you call businesses for customer service.  I know getting a human voice on the line without jumping through hoops, even if it’s from a phone bank in India, is becoming a thing of the past like landlines.

I know that some companies have excellent customer service, but some don’t.  I want to share a few of my recent experiences with you.  I’ll be honest that when I have to call customer service, it’s usually for a mistake or issue, so my patience is not a strong point.


When we leaving our hotel in New Orleans in December to go to the Port to get on the cruise, the valet at our hotel summoned us a taxi van.  While it was very cramped with the five of us, our luggage, and the driver, we got to the Port safely.

The driver told me it was $35 and I tipped him $7.  He asked if I wanted a receipt and I said, “yes”, and he handed me a copy.

December2012 001

However, when we got back from the cruise, I noticed that $45 had been charged to my account and not $42.  I called TaxiPass and left a message.  When I didn’t hear back, I emailed them to explain what happened.  This time, they called and left a message that explained their policy that they add a “voucher fee”.

I repeated the whole process of calling and then emailing.  Finally, I got another call and message that they add a “voucher fee”.  Again, they didn’t make any effort to make the situation right and just stated that “the driver should have told you.”

By this time, I was ticked.  I was determined to get my money back even if it’s only $3.

In an email dated 1/8/2013, TaxiPass tells me, “All fees are disclosed on your TaxiPass receipt”, which you see above.  And, after I fired back an email about the company’s poor customer service, a representative wrote back, “If you are truly that adamant about being refunded $3, then you can file a dispute by going to and fill out a short dispute form. Due to the Accountants being busy with other matters, you might have to wait at least 30-90 business days before a refund is issues, and that is if the dispute is found valid.”

I did file a dispute.

The representative I spoke with claims that the “voucher fee” is explained when you call to reserve transportation or on their website.  However, we never contacted them since the valet got us the transportation.  I did go to their website and here’s what it states:


It specifically says “usually”, as if it isn’t set in stone!  I have to say this is the worse customer service that I’ve ever encountered over the phone or by email.

Late Friday afternoon, I got this response, “Drivers generally add stickers to their cabs to alert passengers and the fee is supposed to be printed on your receipt. However, I do not see the fee printed on your receipt which is strange. Given you were not aware of the fee and it is not clearly visible on your receipt, I have refunded the $3.00 fee. Please allow 1-3 business days for this credit to appear on your statement.

I’ll still never use TaxiPass again.


Swiss Colony

You’ve seen the catalogs of this Wisconsin-based company that’s been around for almost one hundred years, especially at Christmas time.

Every year I’m tempted to order just to get the 24 Petits Fours and 36 Truffles free!

Free Goodies

So, on New Year’s Eve, I decided to take advantage of the free offer since it expired that night.  I ordered six eight-ounce spreadable cheeses (Garlic, Lobster Delight, Mild Jalapeno, Smoked Bacon, Spinach Supreme, and Swiss & Ham).


That purchase should have been enough to satisfy the minimum purchase for the free bonus treats.  But, the online system only added $4.95 to my shopping cart, even with six flavors put in the cart.  That baffled me and I couldn’t make it change the total, so I ordered a “Fruity & White Cheddar” package, which consisted of three 7-ounce bars:  one blueberry white cheddar, one cranberry white cheddar, and one white cheddar.

Fruity White Cheddars

With shipping, my total was around $41 so I submitted my order.  I get a confirmation email from Swiss Colony telling me to check the order and if something is wrong, call or email.

SC Bill

I replied to that email explaining that there was a $30 difference.  No response.  I sent another email telling them only to send four of the spreadables, instead of six, and not to send the fruity white cheddar bars since I would have reached the minimum order with only four of the spreadable cheeses.  Again, no response.

When the package arrived, I called customer service and the representative kept telling me what I ordered.  I know what I ordered!  Finally, I got the message across that there was something wrong with their website that night and that if he couldn’t do anything with it, I’d send the unopened box back.  He said they couldn’t take back food, even unopened, which makes sense.

We came to an agreement that he would credit my account $16.85.  While we really didn’t need $54.53 in cheese, the Petit Fours were delicious.  We haven’t tried any of the cheeses or the truffles yet.


Another example of poor customer service is the Regal Entertainment Group.  This company bought the Great Escape theater in Moline, Illinois.  On New Years Day, Gretel and I went to see “Rise of The Guardians” and the theater was having major issues.  In my seven years here in the Quad Cities, this has never happened.  I blogged about it on January 2, 2013.  You can find it by typing in “Regal” in my blog’s search window.

I sent the company an email to let them know about the experience and, of course, no reply.


And, I’ll close my blog on a positive note.

After Christmas, Ray and I stopped by our Moline Aldi and bought some veggies and some holidays items that were on clearance.  Ray found a complete Fudge Brownie kit that was marked down from $4.89 to $1.99.  We got one.  Diet be damned!

As we were putting away the groceries, I looked at the receipt and it rang up the regular price.  I put it aside and went back a few days later and told the cashier.  Since they were out of the kits, by that time, she said she couldn’t do anything about it.

Later that day, while Gretel was at piano practice, we stopped by the Rock Island Aldi to see if they had the kit and to see if it would ring up the correct price.  They were sold out of them, too.  However, the manager, Jessica, listened to our story and gave us the difference from what we paid and what we should have paid.

Thanks Jessica for restoring my faith in customer service!

The bottom line is that I want to pay the amount that I’m supposed to pay and not a penny more. 🙂