Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: October 2011

US Airways Grand Slam Update – Miles Sweep 2

I woke up this morning and found that US Airways had credited an additional 7,000 miles to my account — this shows my second set of four hits in the Grand Slam have been fully credited.  I have a total of 11 hits sitting in my account now. Once one more hits, I’ll get another 5,000 miles and then with another 4 hits, I’ll get an additional 10,000 miles (which would bring my bonus miles to 25,000 miles).

The frustrating part is that I’ve earned 6 more hits, but they haven’t posted to my account yet.  Points.com has been the bane of my existence.  I’m just trying to change 10 US Airways miles to 4 Asia miles — (which took 2 weeks, 3 emails and two phone calls) — and turn those 4 Asia miles back into US Airway miles.  Now those Asia miles are trapped in Points.com limbo.  I’m making this swap just go get a hit, I don’t even know what airline uses Asia miles.  Once this process is over, I don’t think I’ll ever use Points.com again as they are just slow and not at all self service.

Later this week I’ll outline the other hits I’ve already earned (but not posted) and the other few that I’m finalizing now.  I have a feeling that I’m going to get screwed on some of these miles just because I’m new to the Grand Slam and didn’t get some of these things started early enough.  Next year I will know better and I’ll have things all queued up to start posting points a day or two.

Did you notice a point sweep this morning too?  Are you having issues with some of the partner points posting lately?  Did you spend 3 weeks fighting with Points.com just for a hit?

My US Airways Grand Slam Update

As I noted earlier, I’m not a US Airways fan. Well, I’ve never flown them, but I’m a total United guy.  I am playing US Airways Grand Slam 2011 to get miles that I will use on other Star Alliance carriers — hopefully earning enough to fly First or Business Class to Europe or Asia.  Here’s what I’ve done so far and how the points are stacking up.

  1. Dividend Mile Toolbar — I downloaded one of those damn annoying toolbars that attach to your browser.  I did the required three searches on September 12 and my 3 points were posted to my account on September 16.  Pretty easy.  I am keeping the annoying toolbar installed on Internet Explorer, which I never use, for a while just to be sure they don’t try to take the points away. I earned 4 miles with this hit.  Hit One. 
  2. E-Rewards — This is a free, yet time consuming hit.  Basically you fill out surveys and get rewards dollars that can be redeemed for miles.  I started this process before the Grand Slam kicked off, so I had a head start.  It took a while to get the $25 but I cashed them in for 500 miles on US Airways.  I cashed them in on September 16 and they were credited on September 20. I earned 500 miles here, bringing me to 504 miles.  Hit Two.
  3. Dividend Mile Dining — This wasn’t necessarily free hit, but the incremental cost was nothing.  Basically you sign up a credit card with this reward website and when you pay at select restaurants with the designated cards you get points.  I dined at Freshii on September 26 and the points were credited on September 29. I earned 26 miles with this hit, bringing me to 530 miles. Hit Three.
  4. Buy Dividend Miles —  I find buying miles a huge waste of money and time.  The value is not all there, but I get a hit and the bonus points make it worth it.  I bought 1,000 miles for $29.56 including tax.  This has recently gone up about $6 for the same number of miles.  Good timing for me.  I bought the miles on September 30 and they were posted to the account on September 30, as well.  Hit Four. Obviously, I earned 1,000 miles for this, bring me to 1,530 miles plus this was my fourth hit, which earned me an extra 3,000 miles — 4,530 miles total.
  5. 1-800-Flowers — My mom’s birthday is on October 23, so I opted to buy my mom some flowers.  I ordered the flowers on September 30, with a delivery day of October 21.  Since my charge went through on September 30 and the points posted on September 30.  I spent $64.73 on the flowers and earned a total of 900 points, bringing me to 5,430.  Hit Five.
  6. Audience Rewards — This was some silly trivia question relating to theater.  I answered the questions and had the 12 points transferred to US Airways.  The questions took about 4 minutes to answer and I immediately transferred my points to US Airways.  They posted on October 4, which was 3 days after I requested the transfer. This brings my total to 5,442 miles.  Hit Six.
  7. Miles for Magazines — I believe this is the only way you SPEND miles and get a hit.  I opted to spend 400 of the miles I earned thus far to get another hit and get a renewal subscription to Cigar Aficionado.  I lost 400 points on this bringing my mileage total to 5,042 miles.  Hit Seven.
  8. Track-It-Back — This is one of those things that I just bought for the hit. On October 10, I purchased a sticker that you put on your phone or the like and if you happen to lose this item someone finds it and calls the “Track It Back” number and you get your valuable back.  I spent $24.94 on this hit.  It posed to my account on October 13.   I haven’t received my sticker yet though. I earned 500 miles with this purchase bringing my total to 5,542 miles .No bonus miles have posted for this hit yet. Hit Eight
  9. Dividend Miles Shopping Mall — As noted above, my mother’s birthday is on October 23. I opted to buy her a gift from Amazon.com. Amazon points suck as you get 1 point for ever $2 spent.  I bought her a gift on October 7 and the 55 points posted on October 20, bringing my points to 5,597.  Hit Nine.
  10. Super Shuttle — Yes, I did.  I booked a $13 airport shuttle ride from DFW to the DFW Hyatt.  Of course, I wasn’t in Dallas and I haven’t stayed at a Hyatt in probably 8 years…and never in Dallas.  I earned 50 miles for this hit bringing my total to 5,647 miles.  Hit Ten.
  11. MasterCard Purchase — One of my oldest credit cards was a Platinum Card from Barclay’s Bank.  This card got switched to a US Airways card a month or so ago — I did not ask for it to be switched, but the interest rate was still fine and no credit limit changes, so who cares.  Plus this counts as a hit.  I earned 348 miles bringing my total to 5,995.  Hit Eleven.
I’ve got a few more hits queued up already, they just haven’t posted yet.  I do not know how often the do their Grand Slam mileage sweeps…but I should get at least another 7,000 miles (for my 8th hit) soon and hopefully some of the other items that I’ve done, but whose points haven’t posted yet will hit and I can get another 12,000 (5,000 in addition the 7,000 that I’m already set to get) soon.  My next post (give or take) will explain the other hits that I’m planning on doing — and hopefully an update that will tell about all the bonus points I’m earning…fingers crossed.
How are you playing the Grans Slam?  Are you running into delays in miles posting? What about your bonus miles?  Did you play last year?  How much money did you spend and how many points did you earn?  What did you do with those points?

Bedroom Redesign

My project for this coming winter is to redesign my bedroom.  If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you’ve seen my floor plan and know why I chose the house I did and how I have it currently arranged.  My room is on the main floor and suits me just fine — functionally suits me just fine that is.  It is quite lacking in design/style.  I intend to change that this winter.

I think I will repaint the room.  My room is painted the same color as the main room, the master bed room and the guest bath — Behr Light Olive (3B5-2), which I really like.  The color on the monitor really looks nothing like it does on the wall, but you know how it goes.

I think I’m going to go with a light grey for a more modern feel.  I think I might go with Quietude (770E-1) or Subtle Touch (7903-1) both from Behr.  I think the sleek cool color of these greys would add a nice backdrop for my personal sanctuary.

As you can see, my room is relatively small and currently contains just a queen bed (well, mattress and box spring, not a real bed) and two old nightstands.  I’ve got two small lights, one reading and one for ambiance along with two larger pieces of artwork.  The painting was a gift from MS last Christmas, which I love.  I was with him the summer prior when we both saw this at a gallery — it is probably my favorite view in Chicago (looking north on Wabash from an L Platform up to the Trump Tower).  It was quite a surprise when I received it.

The other piece of art is from an ex.  It is a simple framed self portrait poster of Andy Warhol.  It has no real value, but I like the bold color and minimalist frame.  In my new room I would like to keep the painting, but am not wedded to the Warhol poster.

Of course, I’d like to have an actual bed, not just a mattress on a box spring, it’s been too long having a half put together room.  My nightstands are old second hand Ikea — and I really am not tied to them at all. They serve their purpose but I do not care about them at all.  I do need some bed side storage in my new room — drawers and/or doors preferably. Lilly is quite nosy, so the drawers/doors need to latch.

 You’ll also notice that I don’t have a dresser in my room.  I am lucky because my home has a TON of walk in closets.  I can’t imagine not having all this amazing space.  Ideally I would like a chair so I could sit and read or relax, but I just don’t think there will be enough space.

You will also notice that I don’t have a TV in my room.  I am not 100% sure that I actually want one. From time to time I do wish I had one, especially when I’m feeling under the weather, like today.  What kind of light fixtures do I want?  I’m not sure at this point. Obviously, I’d like to get rid of the builder grade crap I have now, but I don’t know if I want a ceiling fan, or a pendant light or something different all together.  I do think I’d like two sleek metal table lamps flanking my bed — perhaps not matching, just coordinating.

What are your thoughts on my bedroom design initial thoughts?  Do you like ceiling fans in your bedroom?  Do you have to have a TV in your room?  What am I missing?  Is there something in your bedroom that you can’t imagine living without?

Holiday Inn Express Urbana, IL Review

We went to the University of Illinois this past weekend.  MS went to school there and I wanted to see his college town and he wanted to show me.  Illinois was playing Ohio State — a very popular weekend.  Most hotels were at capacity.  There aren’t five star hotels in the Champaign/Urbana…

 We opted to stay at the Holiday Inn Express (for over $180/night).  The other low end hotels were all over $220/night.  We were quite happy to find this rate.  I’ve never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express before.  The room was quite large, with a king bed, a desk and the TV in the bed area. It also had a room with a couch and a table.  The room itself was large and relatively clean.  The walls were paper thin — we could hear people talking in rooms on either side of us.

The bed was comfortable enough (if you have ear plugs).  After the first nights sleep we were awoken by the maid at 08h30.  After I told her to come back later, twice, she opened the door and came in.  I loudly told her again to get out and come back later.  I don’t know how she couldn’t hear me — I heard every word that our neighbors uttered.

When we got back that night, we found our room hadn’t been cleaned.  The bed was still unmade and everything was just messy.  They were kind enough to leave us a big basket of towels in the bathroom, but that was about it.

We asked the front desk to send the maid up to clean the room and he said that he would try (we could tell from his voice that he wouldn’t even try).  Since we told the maid to come back later she made the assumption she didn’t have to clean our room that day (I gleaned that from the front desk clerk).  Who knew?

Am I going to hold this rough experience against all Holiday Inn Express Hotels? No, I do know I need to adjust my expectations when staying at hotels like this.

Do you like Holiday Inn Express?  Have you ever had a maid refuse to “come back later?”

UPDATE 10.18.2011 20h58:  The Holiday Inn folks responded amazingly fast to my review.  They offered the GM of the hotel to contact me to discuss the details.  I appreciate the offer, but as long as the folks at the hotel revisit their customer service requirements I’m happy.

Dining Room Design – The Chairs

My dining room chairs arrived on Friday (while I was out of town, of course).  My mom was kind enough to sign for the delivery.  I hate not being around for a delivery like this — what if the fabric isn’t quite right or the chairs are damaged.  It would be a total pain in the ass to deal with a furniture return.  I was very excited to return home to check out the chairs.  I’ve been waiting to find the right chairs for so long I was lucky to find these and at a great price.

As mentioned before, my table has very narrow space between the legs at the head and foot — 19 inches only.  Most chairs I found were too wide for the small opening. These chairs from Arhaus fit the bill — they are just wide enough to be comfortable but narrow enough to fit under the table.  The colors go well with the table but aren’t matchy.

I struggled for a while on the fabric selection, but couldn’t be happier. The pattern is bold, but muted at the same time. The colors soften the busyness of the pattern as well.  I chose this fabric because my home is more neutral and modern and using these classic fabrics helps bring some unique softness to my home.

The chairs themselves are quite comfortable.  The seat has a nice spring to it and the high back chairs will make my long dinner parties so much better (especially considering the chairs I’ve been using for 2 years have been cheap folding chairs).

The delivery folks from Arhaus were really good.  They confirmed delivery time the day before, then day of confirmed again.  They ended up running a bit late but called a few hours before to update the time.  They brought the chairs in (which were fully boxed and protected), unwrapped them fully inspected each one and placed them exactly where we wanted.  The removed all the boxes before they left too. They were extremely professional.

This was my first  purchase from Arhaus and am really impressed.  Based on my experience so far, I will be shopping with them again.  I will obviously keep everyone up to date on how the chairs hold up.

Have you recently purchased a piece of furniture that you’ve been eyeing for a long time?  Do you shop at Arhaus?  What about ScotchGuard-do you use it on your furniture? Should I? These are fabric dining chairs, so there is a good chance food will fall on them.

Of course, Lilly sees the camera come out, so she has to make her way into the photos.