The Aldi’s Adventure

Aldi store (free clip art)
Aldi store (free clip art)

Yesterday my sister took me into Culpeper to run a few errands. The last stop before heading home was to go to the Aldi’s store. I had only been in the store once before, several years ago, when it first opened. I remembered that the general design of the store was like a small warehouse club, and most of the brands were store brand items, which I had never heard of before. I’m always up to trying new brands, but my family is often very reluctant to try new things, so I decided at that time to not shop there.

Recently I have been hearing a lot of good things from a variety of people who are in my circle of Ruritan acquaintances and Facebook friends that they shop at Aldi’s and they love it. So, I decided to take another look when the only thing I really needed to buy in the way of groceries was a gallon of 1% milk. After all, I reasoned, it should be difficult to ruin a gallon of 1% milk!

So, off to Aldi’s as the last stop before heading home, to check it out in general, and to buy a gallon of 1% milk, to be specific.

I remembered that it cost a quarter to get a shopping cart, and I had a quarter with me, ready to go. What I had not remembered, however, was the procedure as to how to use the quarter to get the cart! There was no signage outside that we could see that gave instructions on how to use the quarter to obtain the cart, just a sign telling you spending a quarter to get the cart saves you dollars in the store.

how a quarter saves you dollars
How a quarter saves you dollars

So I approached the carts with trepidation and looked them over. On the handle of the cart, there is a little coin box to insert the quarter, and a chain that is attached to the back of that box. That chain attached that cart to the other carts stored in front of it. Seems simple enough, right? I surmised that if I inserted the quarter into the box, the chain will fall out, and I can pull out the cart and do my shopping. I expected the quarter to go all the way into the box, but it did not. The quarter only went half-way in and stopped. The chain did not fall out! What the heck?!

stuck quarter
stuck quarter

Now, I reasoned, that I have somehow got a faulty cart, and the smart thing to do was to remove that quarter from the box and insert it into the box of a different cart. Sounds simple enough, but that quarter was stuck. It would not go in any further, and would not come out! And that darn chain was still attached to the back of the cart!

So I tried to wiggle that quarter, to coax it to come out of that coin box, but it was firmly stuck. I looked at my sister, and told her “the quarter is stuck, and won’t come out!” Just then a gentleman approached, and he saw that I was struggling to remove the quarter. He asked me “are you trying to get it out?” I told him “yes.” He said “No worries, here’s a quarter.” He placed a quarter in my hand, then he simply gave the cable in the back of the coin box a tug. The cable pulled out, the cart was freed, and the man whisked that cart into the store!

My sister and I started to laugh! What had just happened? “Our” chosen cart was getting away! Granted, the man had given me a quarter, but I had struggled to get that cart, and it was heading into the store without me! Too funny!

Now that I had seen someone actually perform the required steps to obtain a cart, I took the quarter that the polite man had given me, inserted it into the coin box of a different cart, tugged the chain out of the back, and we headed into the store, still laughing. The man who had given me the quarter and taken my originally intended cart heard us laughing and turned around to see what was going on. His eyes got really big when he realized what had happened, and he exclaimed that he was so sorry – he thought that I was trying to get my quarter back because we were finished shopping! He hadn’t realized that I was trying to get the cart to start our shopping!

We laughed again, and I told him it was no big deal – I told him that it was my first time shopping there and had no idea how to get the carts. He explained he had been shopping there for years, but that it obviously didn’t make him any smarter! We all had a good laugh over that!

After all was said and done, we went about shopping, and comparison pricing. I could see that their prices seemed a bit lower than the other stores, but when it comes to comparing store brand prices to store brand prices, they were about on par with the other stores. Maybe a bit lower. Maybe.

gallon of milk (free clip art)
gallon of milk (free clip art)

I was hoping to buy 1% milk, but was surprised and disappointed to find that they don’t sell 1% milk! (Now remember, the only item I knew I wanted to get was a gallon of 1% milk!) So I purchased 2% milk instead. I also decided to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, a couple of boxes of chicken broth, and some ground beef. I felt that the prices on those items were pretty good. Their prices on Greek yogurt was good, too, but they only had strawberry flavor in stock, which gives me heartburn, so I didn’t buy it. Their signage claimed they also had blueberry, which I would have purchased, but they were out of stock.

I was hoping to find some refrigerated, prepared, mashed potatoes (like Bob Evans) but the store manager told me that they don’t sell anything like that. That was a disappointment.

For the most part, they seemed to have most of the items I would need from a normal grocery store shopping trip, if I were happy with the taste of the store brand. We did try their All Natural meat flavored spaghetti sauce last night, and I will admit that it tasted better than the other store brands of similar type. I would buy and eat that again.

reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)
reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)

I knew that I had to provide my own bags, and that I would have to bag my own items, so I was prepared for that. Not a problem, I always try to keep an insulated shopping bag, and reusable canvas shopping bags in the trunk of the car. I try to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags coming into the household – they are a nuisance and a pain in the neck to try to recycle properly since many local stores have stopped taking them back for recycling. I’m an advocate for reduce, re-use, and recycle. (Yes, I’m a tree-hugger!)

In a nutshell, I think I’d go there again if my family would agree to try their store brands. But it would not be a “one-stop shopping trip” which makes it less convenient, so we will have to just wait and see. Having to drive the extra distance, and stand in a cashier’s line at a second store on shopping day may not actually save me any money in the long run.

Scam Alert

If this had happened today, I would have thought it was from a friend, trying to pull an April Fool’s Day joke on me. This is NOT an April Fool’s Day joke on you, really. This is just odd timing.

Woman at computer (free clip art)
Woman at computer (free clip art)

Yesterday, I was at home, working on the computer. I had just finished all I could do on my income taxes, done a bit of blogging, and had started to work on writing a post for the Ruritan Rapidan District website that I created and maintain in my spare time.

Then the cordless cell phone beside my desk rang. The Caller ID identified the number as 215-249-6100. Not recognizing the number, and thinking it might be a “real” telephone call, I decided to answer it.

I’m not sure now if I’m glad I answered it or not. Often I let the home phone just go to voice mail to screen the calls – there are so many telemarketers “out there” that did not seem to get the message that my phone is on the National Do Not Call Registry!

Be that as it may, I answered the phone. A male with a foreign accent asked to speak to me. Well, our family has dealt with a few doctors recently with a similar foreign accent, so I still thought it might be a legitimate phone call. I replied that I was the person he was asking to speak with.

Then the adventure began. The man identified himself as a Microsoft Windows Security employee. He informed me that he was calling to tell me that his company has identified my computer as having a virus!

Microsoft Windows logo (free clip art)
Microsoft Windows logo (free clip art)

As you can imagine, my immediate reaction was to think that this phone call was an attempt by someone who has malicious intent. (And I feel very bad for the many people “out there” that are not technologically savvy enough to see right through this type of ploy, and immediately fall prey to this predatory behavior!)

So, I repeated back to this man, “you are calling me to tell me that my computer has a virus on it?” His reply was, “Yes ma’am, a very serious virus, and I’m calling you to tell you how we can help you to remove the virus.” I thought to myself “I’ll bet you are!”

My reply to him was “You can tell, from where you are, that my computer has a virus on it?” His reply again, was, “Yes ma’am. a very serious virus. and I’m calling you to tell you how we can help you to remove the virus.”

Now I’ve decided to have a bit of fun at his expense. So I asked him “Well, I’ve got eight computers here, can you tell me which ONE of those computers has a virus on it? I really need to know which ONE!”

Computer hacker (free clip art)
Computer hacker (free clip art)

Well, as you can imagine, there was a brief pause at the other end, and then the man spoke “you have eight computers there?” to which I replied “yes sir, I have eight computers here, and if one of them is infected, I really need to know which one of those eight is infected, so I can take care of it right away!”

Then the man started to stammer and sputter “ummmmm…. eight computers…. ummmmmmm…. I don’t know….. ummmm….. eight computers…….”

My tolerance for stupidity depleted, I decided to put him out of his misery. I know it’s rude to interrupt, but I interrupted him (sorry) and said “Let me make this easy for you. I don’t believe that you are a legitimate business. I think you are a spammer, scammer, hacker, identity thief that is trying to rip me off. I have all kinds of firewalls, anti-malware, anti-spamware programs on my computers,and I don’t believe that you are who you say you are. Put this phone number on your ‘Do Not Call List’ and do not ever call me again!” And then I hung up the telephone.

Then I went to Google, and typed in the phone number 215-249-6100. The search results led me to a website called callercomplaints dot com, where people can register a telephone number and complain about it. There were already several complaints logged (with details) for that phone number. I added my complaint to the list – you can read it if you want to.

Please remember – when someone calls YOU and wants information from YOU, do NOT GIVE IT OUT! It is a SCAM! Hang up the phone!

Learned How to Create a YouTube Video using PowerPoint

Today I learned how to create a YouTube Video using PowerPoint. I used a PowerPoint slide presentation I had made last fall, promoting the community service Jefferson VA Ruritan Club, and set it to music, uploaded it, and have to admit that for a first attempt, it came out pretty good! I hope I can remember how to do that in the future, so I can do things like this to help the other Ruritan Clubs in the future!

Here is the video I made today. I hope you enjoy it!

Now I’m Publicity Chair of the Ruritan Rapidan District too!

photo of Ruritan PSA fire truck in parade
photo of Ruritan PSA fire truck in parade
Looking over the Officer’s Handbook from the Ruritan Club, I saw that there is supposed to be a Publicity Chair on the District Board. Looking at last year’s directory, I saw that there wasn’t even a listing for that chair! So I called the District Governor, and asked him if he already had someone to fill that position, and he said that he had not yet filled the spot, and did not have anyone in mind. So I volunteered to fill that spot, and he agreed. So now I am also the Publicity Chair for the Rapidan Distric! One of my first actions as Publicity Chair, was to reach out to local radio and television stations, to see if any of them are willing to run free Public Service Announcements for any of the clubs in the District.

I was extremely gratified that most of the stations contacted have agreed! One television station, a local access television station in Spotsylvania County (CVTV) even designed this great video spot, based on a script that I provided for them (from a radio spot on the National Ruritan website) and they are running it for the Ruritan Club! I am so grateful for the positive response I have had from the community!

I’ve posted a copy of the Ruritan PSA video on the unofficial website that I designed for the Rapidan District, and am providing a copy of it here as well.

Here is a copy of the PSA – what do YOU think of it?