Peckers, principles, the President versus Petraeus

The President’s being steamrolled into sacrificing Petraeus’ career
by the media seems incredibly naive, inept, and damaging to our best interests. That, or the value of preeemptively controlling potential Congressional testimony vice Bengazi and the flow of captured weapons into Syria, in effect side tracking it, trumps national security. Yes, this last seems cynical, I admit it.

However, as news readers fan the ratings flames by recounting salacious details, their efforts prove more effective than a sniper’s bullet on the battlefield. Simply put, taking out our best general, at a supremely important post, has national security implications.

The question is . . . do we select our generals for whether they keep their pecker in their pocket, or for their ability to cost us the fewest young men while winning the wars our politicians get us into? Moreover, as they subsequently bring their battlefield experience to service in covert security, aren’t they an even more valuable asset?

Politics and the President, his principles versus Petraeus and his pecker – has sex between consenting adults ever trumped politics? This was never about principle.

Anthony’s re-enlistment and promotion to E-5

Naval Station Mayport

Mayport is just east of Jacksonville, where the St. Johns meets the Atlantic

Early Friday morning we traveled north of Sanford to Jacksonville, FL. The 2-1/2 hour drive north ended on Naval Station Mayport, which is just east of JAX, where the mouth of the St. Johns ends its lazy meander northward to the Atlantic. We were there to attend Anthony’s re-enlistment and promotion ceremony (to E-5). Said event, destined to take place on the quarterdeck of his frigate, the USS Underwood, being the culmination of the talk of the family for the last few weeks. 

Re-enlisted is a proud moment. In a very real sense, Anthony’s character and sense of duty have been found worthy. His 8 years service gave the the US Navy the best opportunity to dispassionately judge the development of what was barely more than a boy when he first enlisted. Now a man, he’s a reflection of how his parents brought him up, the husband he became to my daughter Niki, plus his steadfastness and devotion to duty. It’s tough duty too because the engine room gets very hot when the turbines are used in anger. This is the very heart of the Underwood, and the delivery of power is essential for the mission. In short, the Navy took Anthony’s measure and liked what it saw.

The Navy’s investing further in his development wasn’t a cinch either because the services cull ruthlessly from an endless stream of hopefuls. In fact, only the best are asked to stay and thus, especially during a bad economy, for your scribe . . . Tony’s re-enlistment means my daughter’s evaluation of him as ‘the one’ has been confirmed by a premier maker of men. While I’ve grown to appreciate what she saw in him, like fathers the world over, I had precious little say in the matter and thus, it’s nice to get independent confirmation of his qualities.

Anyway, his 6-year re-enlistment will take him to 14 years, e.g. well on his way to an honorable career – perhaps one culminating in retirement at 30 years service, which is his goal. You see, Anthony loves the United States Navy. He’s quiet in his passion but somehow it’s all he talks about.

By 11 we were gathered on the open aft deck. This is where a pair of Seahawk helicopters land and take off while deployed. It was a glorious day to be alive in Florida because early March, before the sticky summer blast furnace, can be quite special. The sky was a glorious blue with a scattering of clouds and for a moment the quiet was surreal because other than the occasional screech of a sea gull, and the soft sussuration of the colors rustling from just enough breeze to occasionally stir the smell of the sea, everything awaited. Meanwhile, the Underwood barely moved in the gentle swells within the harbor. Indiscernible really because the bumpers, like 55-gallon drums on steroids, floated mostly free between the ship’s side and the barnacle encrusted concrete dock.

Swearing in ceremony

". . . I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . ."

At a signal from Captain Mirasola, Anthony was first mustered out out of the Navy. Then began the re-enlistment ceremony, as an E-5 and hand raised, Anthony promised to defend the nation. I felt tears in my eyes, a quiet pride, and respect for a Naval heritage stretching down through more than two centuries of American seapower.

God Bless America.

KitchenAid appliances . . . think twice.

SANFORD, FL (jbeech.com) - how the wheels came off a dream kitchen.

Three years ago we began remodeling our home. It didn’t start out to be a remodel, just a little paint plus a few minor updates until - while we’re at it – took hold. Suddenly we were neck deep into what became a 2-year project.

While some families congregate in a great room, in ours cooking is central to socializing. Our kitchen isn’t just for preparing meals, it’s where we hang out to discuss things, visit with friends, etc.  It’s where we come together. Add to it our home features an open plan. It’s one where the kitchen’s on display for all to see from the minute you walk in the front door.

Moroever, being empty nesters colored our thinking. In effect, this became our last kitchen project. The one, which would see us into our twilight. Suddenly, spending as much for a stove as for a pretty decent used car made sense.

Beauty is only skin deep

Friends and family weren’t surprised in the least how we splurged a bit on our kitchen. After all, it’s central to our lifestyle because we both like to cook. While a 4-burner stove has been fine during 30+ years of marriage, we always dreamed of a bigger stove, one with 6 burners. We also wanted an oven with steam assist. We wanted one with commercial styling. Above all, we wanted quality. We purchased a KitchenAid because of their reputation.

With plenty of BTUs for searing duties, the stove is a dream to cook on. Moreover, the oven’s steam-assist is the cat’s meow for breadmaking. It’s beautiful too, in an industrial way, with stainless components, heavy cast iron racks, and art deco knobs adding a touch of style. Unfortunately, our dream has become a little bit of a nightmare.

The nightmare has been dealing with KitchenAid. In point of fact, we’re really dealing with Whirlpool because they’re the mothership. E.g. the corporate owners of KitchenAid and as it turns out - the 10-year KitchenAid warranty – doesn’t cover the required repairs.

This despite the problem having been reported within months. We’re facing forking over more than $1300 for repairs (on top of a $130 service charge). This comes within spitting distance of $1500 and we feel we shouldn’t be charged this because they misdiagnosed the problem from the beginning.

In hopes this serves as a cautionary tale for folks considering doing business with KitchenAid/Whirlpool, here’s our story. I offer it up because it has the feel of a raw deal . . . but judge for yourself.

To recap, we purchased the stove in July 2008 but soon noticed a problem with the oven door.

How a dream becomes a nightmare

The principal problem is with the oven door. Basically, the door hangs on the locking latches when you open and close it. However, the real issue is when you’re closing it because in hitting the latch itself the procelain began chipping. We called the vendor who in turn refered us to the manufacturer.

They promptly scheduled a techician to came to look the unit over. He said no problem they just needed to replace some parts to effect repairs. Unfortunately, he would have to order them but the flip side is this would all be at no charge.

Frankly, it came as no surprise he didn’t have the parts on hand because with so many different models it’s not practical – nor reasonable – to expect them to have all parts on the truck. The fact the repair would be no charge was as expected (since it was a 2-month old stove with a 10-year warranty). Satisfied, we signed the work order and the tech left.

Sure enough, perhaps a week or two later, we received three brown boxes containing the parts. We’re busy with the remodel project and this has low-ish priority, which means they are promptly forgotten. They remain in the garage, (next to my Ferrari) until this summer, when the oven unit fails.

Tempus fugit

Three years have come and gone during which they’ve not returned to effect repairs on the stove’s oven door. The 3 boxes of parts patiently sit, and for our part, absent one call of inquiry two years ago we haven’t worried about it either. However, when the oven quits working, everything changes because this affects Sunday morning biscuit. We can’t have that!

So again we call for service and this time we’re told we’ll be responsible for a $130 service charge. Fearing the worst, I ask them about the oven door repair but they say no, this isn’t a problem because the work order is still in their system.

Thus, while they don’t know why they didn’t come fix it sooner, they’ll nevertheless effect repairs without any added charges. Frankly, knowing we’d contributed to the delay (though we shouldn’t have had to nag them in the first place), we agree to the $130 service charge and as promised, a few days later their service tech shows up (at the appointed hour – the cable company could take lessons).

The fellow soon diagnosed the dead oven and says it’s a $113 electronic part, which isn’t covered by warranty (by a few months). On the plus side, once the required parts arrive they’ll come repair the oven without our incurring an additional service charge, which seems fair enough. Next he then turns to repairing the oven door, which is indeed covered by this service charge as well.

Stop, $1400 please, do not pass Go

A short while into the oven-door repair the technician explains the door cannot be repaired. Basically, changing the parts wont correct the problem because the frame is bent and thus, the porcelain will soon begin chipping again. Furthermore, he explains, he needs to call Whirlpool. Subsequently, he says a representative will call within a few days.

A few days later the Whirlpool representative calls. The long and the short of it is the stove indeed cannot be repaired. The only solution is complete replacement. However, this isn’t covered by warranty. They offer to replace the stove for $2700.

I protest and ask for a supervisor. I’m placed on hold for a few minutes and when she comes back on the line tells me she’s consulted with her supervisor. She cheerfully continues with how lucky I am because they will, for 30-days only, replace the stove for just 50% of the previous offer, or something over $1300 (plus I’m out the $130 service charge already). Such a deal.

Naturally, I explain this feels unfair because the problem with the door was reported within the warranty period, a mere two months after purchase, and their own technician misdiagnosed the problem. How is this my fault? I feel the stove should have been replaced then then.

None of this matters – not a bit – and they won’t budge and thus, all I get is they’re sorry but this is it. And by the way, the 30-days will be expiring soon; do I want to give them a credit card number?

On feeling like we’re being screwed by a big corporation

Is there mischief afoot? Is the reason they didn’t come repair the door after the three boxes of parts arrived because they knew it really meant product replacement? Is this why my one follow-on call was ignored? It sure makes me wonder.

Finally, here’s something to think on; if you too are planning on building your dream kitchen, and if you believe KitchenAid appliances have a place within it, my advice is think twice. Then think again.