Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I almost made it to Christmas with a post a day --

Crazy busy - we Norton's are - I left Tulsa yesterday morning, came home ran my vending route, flew all afternoon, slept, flew again today, tried to go to Tulsa to join Amy and Claire only to find out that the Tulsa airport was closed due to a blizzard.

Now I am home, I whipped up a quick Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon, and now I shall enjoy some sappy Christmas movies that Amy has recorded.

I'm sad I won't be with my girls tonight -- lets pray I can get out there tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Who?!?!

Claire made her first trip to Bass Pro Shop today for her picture with Santa Claus -- words cannot describe the cuteness factor!
And the best part was the price -- $0.00!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Parking Wars Preface

Coming soon an exciting post entitled Parking Wars -- about the adventures of Steve and Amy's parking adventures. As I prepare for this masterpiece I had an epiphany.

In the Amy's Big Adventure post I was admonishing the Sears Corporation for their clever use of the $12.99 fee for pretty much anything and everything battery related. After seeing the mall parking lot for myself from the air last week (both the First Officer and I simultaneously said 'Whoa' when crossing over the mall near my house) I decided that we may be on to something.

For the privilege to drive in the covered garage, have someone greet you and open your door and help unload your stroller $12.99 is a small price to pay.

When you are done shopping, in Amy's case they even turned her car around so it was facing the right direction, once again they helped load her stuff in the car.

The next time you can't find parking just drive into Sears -- let them know you think something might be wrong with your battery, $12.99 is cheaper than valet at most places, plus there is likely a shorter wait. As an added bonus if they are backed up, and you are expeditious with your shopping you may get back before they have had a chance to 'check your battery.' In this case I can only assume there would be no charge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

And Finally!

The silliest gadget of them all
The Electric Inside the Shell Egg Scrambler -- with a name like that, you know there is a problem!

It looks like a miniature toilet on a pedestal. Aside from that

WHY OH WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER? I'm sure some goof ball invented a recipe that requires the egg to be scrambled prior to cracking -- thus the need for this gizmo. I've heard this is available at Bed Bath and Beyond for a crazy $70. Seriously!

Amy's Big Adventure

I sent Amy to the mall today for a bit of a chore -- I know; since when is the mall a chore for a full time Mom? Well it seems when her car was in the shop last week getting an ongoing brake issue repaired once and for all (lets hope / and pray!) the ever eager to up sell shop supervisor just happened to notice the battery wasn't exactly up to snuff.

I'm not exactly sure why, but when the battery in her car died a couple of years ago I decided to go to Sears of all places to get a replacement. Deep down I guess its because I was under the illusion that they had a pretty comprehensive warranty, and no matter where in the world we are a Sears can usually be found.

All this to say, I thanked the shop for their dutiful checking of the battery but I would be taking it to Sears because it is still under warranty with them.

I of course haven't had time, and we are leaving tomorrow for a big trip to T town so I asked Amy if she could take it so Sears. I left a detailed note explaining exactly what was wrong with the battery, and the original receipt that had the warranty explanation circled.

They tried to charge her $12.99 to 'check' their battery - and when it was found to be defective the charge remained! Isn't that disgusting? I begged her to insist on a manager who ultimately removed the charge -- but seriously - Sears! What are you thinking? What happened to service? Perhaps if the battery was found not to be defective the charge is maybe a little bit okay, but once its found to be bad you don't get to charge me to tell me what I already knew! Arrghh -- in the end they still got $12.99 out of us as I installed the battery the last time, and this time they had to install it.

The next time I think I'll give Sam's Club a whirl -- now they know the meaning of service!

The blog is on auto-post the rest of the week, unless I find some time to come in and interrupt the automated magic! Merry Weekend Before Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stay Smart!

I'm pretty sure that's the motto of the Holiday Inn I'm staying at today "Stay Smart"-- they are so proud of their shower heads. Every time I get a survey about my stay at a Holiday Inn it asks about the shower head. Not in a normal way like:

"Rate the shower"

no no -- more like this

"Please rate our new highly acclaimed state of the art Smart Shower Head by KOHLER® with three modes, and message capability! You'll recall it looked like this!"

The question is loaded to say the least -- after the glowing review they give it I hate to tell them that sometimes it feels like getting in a shower of needles and tacks, as the lime deposits build up in this thing its like stepping into a torture chamber. I can deduce from the straight even beams of water emitting from the photographed example that this shower head probably has less than 1 minute of use EVER. To say the least these shower heads seem to be lacking the preventative maintenance they obviously require -- this morning I turned it on and there was water shooting at the mirror across the room.

If I was guessing this hotel is probably two years old at the most and I was forced to use my least favorite mode -- what I like to call

"The Elephant Peeing" mode -- where I stand under an uncomfortable pummel of water, and have to move around to get wet. If you've stayed at a ICH Hotel Group property recently I'm sure you can relate~

Speaking of elephant peeing a quick story. Aunt Jill took me to the circus for my first time when I was about 9 or 10 years old -- I remember standing behind a line of elephants in awe at their size -- then without warning (if there was a warning I didn't recognize it) one of the large mammals let loose of its bladder. Oh the deluge, and as the urine splashed onto the ground I began to get sprayed with the offensive liquid. As I stood there dumbfounded Aunt Jill called for me and I was able to escape the impromptu shower.

The story gets a little funnier (and longer) when I mention that the next day there was a picture of me from behind posted on the front page of the newspaper. Not only did this clever photographer have a good eye for child models, but he just happened to snap the picture at the exact moment of splashdown.

The headline read "Circus Makes a Splash" Oh if only we would have kept that newspaper LOL.

Now your stupid gadget of the day

Of course its a small hand powered circular saw for guys that will only use appliances that look like tools. This could really offend some women -- the very notion that a saw would be required to cut something that they cooked!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Thought you had me --- no way Jose --- I will not miss a single post until Christmas. Let me tell you that I tried posting with the Iphone, Blogger doesn't do so well with that. So I'm at an old fashioned full size computer cheating on this post with a link to my Daughter's blog.

Here my wife has done a wonderful job of describing Claire's first Christmas celebration!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas!?

Due to a slight scheduling snafu - and the resulting pressing Norton family schedule; today is Christmas!

So Merry Christmas to all -- I would never take time away from Claire on her first Christmas for a silly post so I am of course composing several days in advance and using the nifty 'scheduling' feature on Blogger.

This does not mean that the post a day will end, as promised there will be a post a day until the REAL Christmas, tomorrow perhaps some pics of Claire's first Christmas celebration!

Now an excerpt to continue the stupid gadget series

The conmanest way to make a stupid kitchen gadget is to apply the miracle of electronics to items that do not really need it. Then charge a fortune for the privilege of owning yet another dust gatherer.

The reveo Marivac Food Tumbler

Marinaded meat tastes great. But the traditional technique, using a mixing bowl (free) or a ziploc bag (4 cents), leaves insufficient scope for profit. For only $179.95, you can tumble your meat in the spice mix, and apply a nice bit of vacuum to dry and toughen the meat fibers to the point of in-edibility.

And of course a crowd favorite---
Dough-Nu-Matic Automatic Doughnut Machine

A kitchen essential for folk who demand a mini assembly line of donuts in the privacy of their own home. Simply load it with batter and switch on for a steady stream of mini doughnuts. At $130 each, these are obviously much more sensible than a pan and doughnut mould ($15 - total). Sadly, the model shown does not include the mini conveyor to deliver the finished doughnuts straight to your waiting mouth!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stupid Gadget Series

I can't stand gadgets in the kitchen. Perhaps if I had unlimited counter space, and those nifty wall drawers that hid the unsightly appliances I would have a different view. But for now I don't want, I can't stand it, I think its dumb. With our first example I'm sure you would all agree!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Was Convinced

I thought to myself, who has time to take a pic when a groom is in certain peril.

This came across my email this week.

"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Very Creative Indeed

Most of us don't have time to read lenghty blogs when are home on the weekends. Thats what work days are for, so I'll keep this short. Enjoy this creative production by some High School students in Somewhere, USA.

Friday Funny!

"Keep it simple"
"Work smarter not harder"
"Start with the easiest"

All quotes our Fathers, Grandfathers, bosses, friends and colleagues preach to us throughout our lives as a constant reminder to make the most efficient use of our time. To some degree we all love to 'armchair quarterback' a series of events and point out how much better we could have done it. Of course these opinions are always shared in hindsight -- when anyone could easily figure out the fastest way to the finish line.

I'll give you all a chance to tell me the first thing you would do if the light in your closet stopped working.

Sure any normal person would naturally check the light bulbs for proper operation. That's evidently not how we Nortons do it here in Texas. No sirree. Since this fixture had two light bulbs in it I was sure I would have noticed if one of the bulbs had gone out, so I didn't even entertain the idea that there could possibly be anything wrong with the light bulbs.

This particular closet has a motion activated switch, so when Amy decides to review her wardrobe at a moments notice she doesn't have to be bothered with the time and effort involved in actually turning on a light. When I first noticed that the lights weren't working I tried to turn them on manually. The little indicator lights on the switch wouldn't change despite my repeated pushing of the little button. Ah-ha the switch must have gone bad, as it isn't responding to my repeated inputs/poundings.

Off to Lowes we go, I do love a reason to go to Lowes and this was a perfect opportunity to buzz on over there. I trot on in, find a replacement switch and head back home, thrilled that I was able to get in and out of Lowes so fast and with minimum distraction.

Once we get home I have the tedious task of trying to figure out which circuit breaker goes to the room in question -- I have a tool to help me figure this out, but seriously who has time for that? So I just turned off three breakers at a time until I found the right three (someday I really need to put better labels on the panel, "General Receptacles," seriously what does that mean?)

I make quick work of the switch replacement, after securing the device I decide I should make sure it works before I put the cover back in place. MUCH to my disappointment -- no dice! perplexed I check all the wiring, I double check the connectors, and say a quick prayer. Still nothing.

"That's it, those scoundrels at Lowes have sold me a bad switch!" I think to myself. So I bridge the wires together manually deciding that if the bulbs don't illuminate now then we have a BIG problem. Sure enough -- nothing, not even a flicker. I now move on to the ceiling, I remove the fixture and check the connectors in the ceiling, sure enough solid as a rock! "It's official," I decide, those pesky squirrels from last summer must have chewed through the wires and for some reason its just now coming to light (pun intended). I start to get a little bothered as there is no physical way someone of my size can access this part of the attic to replace this wiring.

Before I go find a miniature electrician I whip out the old multi-meter to get to the exact cause of the problem. I follow the normal troubleshooting tree for a problem this advanced and am astonished to see the electricity is making its way to the light fixture. I quickly conclude the fixture must be bad. Before I excite Amy with the promise of the joyous opportunity to shop for a new fixture; I decide I should, just for the fun of it, check the sockets to ensure, as my hypothesis states, there is no electricity.

What a blow, sure enough 121.5 volts right there at the light socket -- ah yes $40, 1.2 hours, a wasted trip to Lowes, all for two light bulbs. Works brilliantly now, I think in the future I'll just keep it simple!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Deal!

Lets take a few days off from rant of the day -- I'm sure I'll have something new to complain about soon, but for now lets just talk about our exceptional savings today.

A couple of weeks ago Amy sent me to Kroger to buy baby food that was on sale -- and of course we had a coupon. Being the efficient Groom I am I of course bought one case of each flavor. Fortunately she liked all of the flavors, although we ended up taking the squash back, as it gave her a case of the --ahem-- vapors.

Well last night Amy got coupons in her Facebook mail from Babies R Us -- it was a steal - 12 packs of "Gerber 2-packs" for $10. Note the non-specific language, there are LOTS of things made by Gerber that come in a two pack. We took full advantage of this savings up to 70% on some items. Did I mentions there was no limit!

Talk about exciting times in the Norton house! I love saving money, and am thrilled that my wife came upon this little gem of a deal, thanks Amy -- and Claire and her new high-falootin appetite thank you too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WOW! Three In a Row!

Claire is pretty much crawling -- she especially loves (and will do anything to get to) the baby rattle app I downloaded just for her on my iPhone! Claire also started saying DaDa today! Every time she says it I come bouncing into the room. I'm so glad I was here for this! She is growing up so fast!

Now about Los Cucos!

Just in front of the Wal-Mart near the airport is a little Mexican establishment. Amy and I love Mexican food! (Funny story -- I HATED it until I met Amy. Turns out I was just always ordering the wrong things.) So one day when I was on a layover Amy picked me up for dinner, and we decided to give this little joint a whirl.

No doubt due to the royal aura that we emit, we were seated just immediately outside the kitchen. This was, of course, to ensure we received our food at its absolute freshest - that is -- food that hasn't been paraded around Lord knows who on its way to our table. So far, so good!

Amy orders cheese enchiladas, and I order some other crazy dish that did not contain cheese. Shortly after we place our orders we start noticing an occasional whiff of horridness. It almost smelled like a rotting rat. It wasn't a constant smell, just an occasional waft. After some time I began using my pro statistical skills and developed an association with a waiter walking by with a steaming hot tray of food and the putrid aroma.

Then came our food -- the instant our food was delivered we were able to get a nice good deep sampling of the offending scent, and we quickly traced it to Amy's plate. She declared "I think my cheese might be bad." Then, as if I were some sort of rent-a-groom, she pushes her plate towards me and instructs "Here, taste it!" Like any good husband, I cut a bite off and put it in my mouth. And then I spit it out of my mouth.

I call the waiter over (the server didn't wait around to ensure everything was to our satisfaction), and tell him we can't eat that, and we order something else that doesn't contain cheese with the instruction to leave off any potential cheese, we will accept nothing with cheese I remember declaring.

As our dining experience goes on the occasional wafts continue -- at this point we know the culprit and we follow the food with our eyes to see happy diners all over the restaurant just gobbling the rancidness up as if it was the best thing they have ever put in their mouths. I didn't see one person send their food back. Perplexed we finished our meal and as we were having our after dinner discussion of the day I decided to stop a passing manager. I informed him of the events of the evening, fully expecting an "I'll look into this immediately, thank for sharing your concern." Instead I got sass, smarty farty remarks, and grief. This guy was so argumentative about the quality of his cheese, it was almost funny if he wasn't trying to kill everyone in the place.

After I argued with him for probably about a minute, I finally said "I'm done talking to you about this, I'm simply suggesting you check your cheese, I have no other motive --- have a good evening!" I'm guessing the guy thought we were just whining to get a discount, I don't know but if the cheese didn't ruin the place for us his attitude sure did.

After about a minute or less he comes running to our a table a humbled man. "You were right!" he exclaimed. "I don't know how it happened but there is something really wrong with our cheese, I threw it all away -- can I bring you to the kitchen to show you that I threw it away?" I assured him that wasn't necessary, the last thing I wanted to do was get another whiff of the stuff. Even though our meal that night did end up being free of charge -- I was still disappointed in the fact that the wait staff wasn't collecting plates from all the poor diners with no sense of smell -- we won't be back!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Not One to Complain But...

Perhaps my BIL Matt and his blog are rubbing off on me, I've decided to continue my horrible truth series on several major corporations lets just have a chat about Popeye's Chicken shall we?

Perhaps you are a fan -- I ate there once with Amy and immediately decided I didn't care for their food as a whole, but Amy LOVED it, so occasionally we went I usually didn't eat or we would drive-thru somewhere else for me to eat.

There were a few minor tufts with our conflicting versions of customer service over time. Then the first MAJOR incident. I had already gone to another establishment to get some food, and now we found ourselves in the drive-thru at a certain Popeye's. Amy wanted DR. Pepper to drink and when I made the request I was told all they had was Coke and Strawberry -- I asked if the person meant 'Strawberry Fanta' -- and was told yes. This seemed strange to me as this was not even an option on their menu, but Amy decided on the strawberry and we 'Pulled up to the window.'

I could then see on the floor boxes of two liter bottles of Kola and K-Strawberry. Yes these are Kmart branded generic soft drinks. I asked the person at the window to once again explain to me exactly what the soft drink options were -- once again this person said 'Coca-Cola, and Fanta Strawberry.' Of course we got the drink, Amy hated it, and I was a little peeved that we paid full price for a product we were duped into buying.

I walked in the restaurant phone in hand having already dialed the Comments number clearly posted on the door -- I asked the manager why they were lying about the products they were selling...seeming confused I asked him to look at his feet at the cases of Kola, explaining to him I was told it was Coke. He was grossly apologetic and refunded the price of our meals, when asked why he was serving this inferior product he replied that his machine had broken and he had to go to the store, he didn't say it but I'm guessing he didn't want to pay the premium price for the real stuff.

We managed a couple of months without a temptation to visit a Popeye's then one day Amy just couldn't resist any longer. We were both hungry so I decided I would eat there too. After waiting nearly five minutes in the empty restaurant for service I ordered a chicken (surprise) sandwich, Amy ordered the chicken strips, we paid for it and stood at the counter waiting for our lunch. I then noticed a young lady (well woman anyhow) come in from the back (presumably from her smoke break, or trash run) in a starter jacket (you know the kind with the bulky sleeves) pull out some bread and 'throw' it on the counter next to the drive-thru cash register.

I quickly realize she is making my sandwich on the money counter -- yuk. She starts grabbing the lettuce and onions and piling it high - mind you she didn't wash her hands and she isn't really in a food prep area. Then the last straw -- she stopped making my sandwich to treat herself to a couple of bites of her chocolate Frosty from Wendy's (even they don't eat their own food evidently).

"That's it we aren't eating here!" These words come out of my mouth before I had a moment to think about a respectful response to the actions I just witnessed. I insist on a manager - then the 'kid' in the kitchen area asks me whats wrong -- as I finish my story he literally busts out laughing as hard as he can -- this guy is doubled he is laughing so hard.

We once again got our money back -- this time we let them keep their food and we went on our way -- neither Amy or I have ever been back, and likely never will.

Tomorrow let the admonishment continue -- Los Cucos -- YOUR NEXT!

Could It Be?

Yes a blog post at last from yours truly! Amy has taken over most posting as it seems lately I've not had nearly the time available for such activities as I have in the past. I even missed the glorious opportunity to humor you all (assuming there are any of you left?) with a rousing rendition of my snowy weather report from Houston.

This year Amy and I declared that we would do our best to surprise one another with Christmas gifts. This has never really happened as usually we are with each other, and like -- oh I want that, I could get it for you for Christmas...okay.. and on it goes. When it comes time to open gifts so often we already know what we are going to open. This is year is suppose to be different, and I hope it is.

The crazy part is that I believe that stores should at all times have all products in the exact same place it was when I saw Amy eye-balling it. It turns out it is not possible to go back to Target a month later and expect them to have the very item she was salivating over. Evidently so many other ladies were salivating and buying at once, either spoiling the surprise, or buying it outside of the gift giving motivation.

We like to buy things for each other randomly -- then when Christmas/Birthdays come around its like 'What ever should I get him/her.' I started keeping a list of things to get Amy early last year, I thought I would be clever and password protect the document, the funny thing is that she knows my normal passwords, so I made up a new one (I have no idea what that might be) and now have no way to access the document!

She claims to have a harder time finding things to buy for me -- and I suppose this is right. I'm that guy that gets it in my head that I need something and runs out immediately to buy it no matter the price. I'm working on this bad habit because not only does it squash a potential gift ideas for Amy but it probably costs me a lot of money in the long run as she is much better at looking for sales and finding coupons.

While on the topic of finding the best price I would like to once again affirm my disdain for Best Buy -- it all started in 2001 when I bought a software program that appeared to be a fraction of the original price. When I tried to install it a warning appeared stating that the software I bought was an upgrade for an older version. I was befuddled as nowhere on the box was the word UPGRADE printed.

I poured over this box in vein trying to locate the key word; finally I decided to pull back the cleverly placed BEST BUY price tag to see the all important indicator had been maliciously hidden from view. I quickly studied the return policy at the said retailer and knew I had a fight on my hands as opened software cannot be returned. I put the price tag in place, waited in the Customer (no) Service line and immediately asked for a manger. I asked him what this box looked to him like it contained. After his expected response I showed him the trickery his staff was up to. He simply pointed to the return policy that opened software cannot be returned and motioned for me to move aside for the next customer.

I love Amazon! repeated returns -- no problem. Slightest issue -- immediate refund. Tinge of brown on the mood ring when dealing with the company -- NEVER... The only MINOR problem with Amazon is tied to my earlier musings about patience, sometimes I just want it right now -- you know what I mean?

How about a post a day between now and Christmas? Some of them may be from my Iphone riddled with errors, but I'll do my best