We Stopped and Oh, did we ever Shop

I think it’s safe to say that most people do not have as strong a relationship to their grocery store as they do to, say, their clothing establishment (CTshirts.com all the way!), bank (Dwolla thank you very much), or hardware store (Lowes or bust!).

In fact across the history of Mike D, I’ve mostly gone to the closest cheapest place.

In college that was Price Chopper. In Meriden, Shop Rite – until Big Y bought the location. Then it was Big Y.

Once we moved to Clinton, there were a collection of grocery stores all within the same driving radius. We ended up picking Stop & Shop. Stop & Shop isn’t known for their amazing prices, but Jen and I found an environment that was friendly to couponers – and we went all in.

And then came the gas points.

We started tentatively with Stop & Shop’s gas points, like a first date where you don’t know how things are going to pan out. We were flirting and it seemed like it had massive potential. It works like this: when you buy certain items you get a bonus amount off per gallon. For example, buy 6 cans of Progresso soup get $0.40/per gallon! You could stack these deals to get up to $2.20 off per gallon for up to 35 gallons.

$2.20 off 35 gallons? Take a good look at those limitations. By purchasing gas tanks for extra storage I could hit the limit of 35 gallons every time. At $2.20 off per gallon that equates to a savings of $77. Add in a coupon or two and we’re talking Black Swan savings.

The gas points got us and got us good. We were calculating fill ups and buying exactly what we needed to fill our tanks, it felt invigorating and intoxicating, like gambling and winning… more than just winning… we couldn’t lose.

Addiction

Oh sweet, sweet, savings

As the price of gas dipped below $2.20, the emotional impact reached Miss America crowning levels of elation. 35 Gallons for $0.00? Color me addicted. And there we stayed, glued to the chair of our proverbial slot machine – pumping in our nickels and pumping out dozens upon dozens of cans of beans, boxes of eggo waffles,  packages of Mama T’s Perogies, Prego ready meals, tomato sauces, barbecue sauces, bags of chips, maple syrups, hundreds of cat food cans, countless pounds of cat litter, dozens of pounds of sugar, and thousands (literally) of gallons of gasoline. For two years we have been living this dream.

And then Stop & Shop caught on.

Oh the humanity!

Like a bad breakup

The announcement that on August 10th they would be changing the limits to $1.50 off per gallon with a 20 gallon limit… it slapped me in the face – hard. My spirits plummeted.

I can’t blame them. I think it’s a smart business move. Surely we aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the system. I can’t be sad to see it go, I’m by no means entitled to such savings – but I am thrilled to have been part of this program. It has been a shopping experience like few others.

Unlike most people, I think it’s safe to say I have developed a strong bond with my grocery store. I can’t say that I won’t explore other chains in the future, but I’m deeply grateful for our Stop & Shop gas points experience.

Thank you Stop & Shop for one heck of a ride.

The MRI

On Saturday I got an MRI.

I’ve had a lump on my shoulder for a really long time and recently it started discomforting me at night. I went to get it checked out a week or so ago, and my Doctor advised an MRI. Now that I’ve experienced it, I figured I’d share my knowledge so if any of you find yourselves someday strapped down and rolled into the mouth of the Magnetic beast, you will be fully prepared.

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging

How does it work? The MRI uses colossal magnets to align all the polar stuff in your body. Then radio frequency pulses are fired through perpendicular to the newly aligned stuff. The frequency pushes the polar stuff out of alignment. When the radio is turned off, the now misaligned stuff spins back into alignment releasing energy. The energy is recorded. Different tissues release energy differently so the techs are able to “see” what’s inside. Basically it’s Magic.

What’s it like?

MRIs are big ticket machines so the scheduling, at least at our local facility, was pretty specific. I showed up at 3:40, filled out paperwork for 10 minutes and was promptly taken into the lab. Most of the paperwork was intended to confirm that I didn’t have any metal in my body (like pins, staples, or shrapnel). Since MRIs use seriously gargantuan magnets I can only imagine that having metal on/in your person would unanimously qualify as a bad day.

After my interview, the tech let me lock up my personal items and reviewed my clothing.

“you can keep your shirt and your sandals. Underwear is fine, but you’ll have to remove your belt and shorts.” He handed me a pair of light shorts with a fabric belt to wear instead. “And you can keep your ring on.”

I got changed and met the techs at the entrance of the MRI.

An MRI looks like a immense doughnut with a stretcher in the middle. I was invited to lay down on the stretcher. Since my shoulder was the point of interest, I put my shoulder into a form that looked like a medieval shoulder guard (fun fact: this type of armor is called a pauldron). I accepted an offer for an additional head pillow as the technician raised my legs atop a comfortable wedge.

Before the machine turned on, the technician presented me with some basic info:

  1. The machine is loud
  2. I was not allowed to move and would be strapped down to aid in this measure*
  3. The experience would last 30-40 minutes
  4. I can listen to music!

*throughout the event the techs would be taking pictures with the MRI. Since the pictures would be compared with one another they need to be as positionally similar as possible: the less the patient moves the better

“We have Pandora, what station would you like?”

“ooh, I’ll take Jazz please.”

lesson learned: never request general music genres. For some reason it seems that everyone else who thinks they have a jazz station actually have a smooth jazz station. This is a deep travesty. My 40 minutes was mostly Kenny G. For those unfamiliar with Jazz, this is like asking for Rock expecting Metallica and getting 40 minutes of Credence Clearwater Revival.

As the technicians left the room, the stretcher rolled inside the MRI tube making me feel like I was in a science fiction movie. It’s hard to describe the size of the inside. I’ve never been inside a tanning booth, but the MRI space seemed to be about that size*. I had maybe 4-5 inches from my nose to the inner diameter of the machine.

*Fun business idea: Tanning booth MRIs for people who are concerned about cancer but MORE concerned about looking hella sweet at the beach this Tuesday for Marcia’s annual beach volleyball meet-up.

My headset came alive with the tech’s voice

“We’re going to begin. Please remain still. The first picture will take 20 seconds.”

The music began and I winced with realization that this horrible synth intro would continue for 40 minutes.

And then they turned on the machine with a subtle whirring. The first three pictures (20 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3.5 minutes) all sounded like single tones at various pitches. It was loud, but not insanely so. No louder than if you were inside your car holding down your car horn. The remainder of the pictures were taking with bangs and bams in fast repetition. Kind of like a really loud sprinkler on it’s return, or a muffled jackhammer. Other pictures made a sound like what I imagine would arise if you threw a baseball inside a red six quart kitchen aid mixer equipped with a paddle and set to speed 8.

After 15 minutes, I was taken out and injected with some sort of dye that would create contrast in the blood. This was done so that if by some unfortunate circumstance my lump was a tumor, it would stand out. Tumors get blood. Fatty cysts, do not.*

*or so I was told by the tech

The process repeated for another 15-20 minutes after which I was pulled out and we were done!

Overall, the most uncomfortable part of the process was the smooth jazz. Occasionally parts of my arm felt tingly but this may have been the vibrations from the noise as much as the magnetic alignment and realignment of my tissues. I applaud the team at Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook for their professionalism and attention to my comfort.

I should find out my results this week!

Challenge

I challenge anyone to try and make the sound of an elephant WITHOUT at the same time pretending your arm is a trunk and waving it up and down.

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

Autological

Via Wikipedia, an Autological word is one that expresses a property it also possesses.

examples:

short

awkwardnessful

pentasyllibic

 

While not not a perfect autological fit, the word “haemorrhaged” sure does feel close. It’s spelling feels like an uncontrolled diffusion of letters, like someone spelled it out and then the word suddenly self-erupted with a chaotic surplus of vowels and consonants.

I am quite confident that I will never properly spell haemorrhaged (also, often times spelled hemorrhaged (maybe more common in the US?)) without auto-correct.

Extra fun facts: the “ae” part of “haemorrhaged” spelling has Latin and Greek roots. The word comes from “haima” for bleeding violently and “rhage” for breaking. Add an R, change or remove the I, and switch the A with an O… Sure that all makes perfect sence.

Also, that “rrh” combination of letters? Not uncommon. Check out this impressive list:

https://www.morewords.com/contains/rrh/

 

Debts

On Saturday, Jen and I decided to splurge and take-out some pizza from Chow, a new place that just opened in Clinton. We ordered their Figgy Stardust pie and a traditional Margarita. “35 minutes!” they told us and, shortly thereafter, we zipped down to pick up the pizzas.

As I walked in, another guy was just paying for his order. The place was hoppin. The tables were all full and a bustling staff was rushing around providing drinks and foodstuffs to the patrons. The cashier looked up at me

“Hi,” I began, “I’m here to pick up a take-out order under DiDonato.”

She paused. Immediately it was obvious something was wrong. She glanced down at her computer, the slightest indication of concern furrowing her brow.

“I’m sorry, what was the name?”

“DiDonato.”

After a few more moments, she called out to the man who had just paid before me, “Sir, can I take a look at your order please?”

“Yeah, of course.” The man was a little older than me. He wore a backwards baseball cap and had a friendly demeanor.

The waitress took his receipt and asked him “What name was your order under?”

“DeNotadi” The man replied

After a short laugh and a frustrating few moments amongst the staff, they finally determined that they had both orders in the system. Ours under DiDonato and his under “Shawn.” But we still had to settle out the payment as Shawn had already paid for my Pizza. The total had been $28.71

“I have cash. How about I just give you $30.00?” I suggested

“Actually,” he replied “I have a dollar. So here we go.”

I gave him the thirty bucks, and he gave me the dollar. Then, he turned to the cashier “Could I get change back for this five? I owe him 30 cents,” pointing to me.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that. It’s no big deal.” I offered

“Do you watch game of thrones?”

“I do…” I replied, mildly perplexed.

And as he dropped 30 cents into my hand he looked into my eyes and said: “A DeNotadi always pays his debts.”