Am I thick or is United Airlines Mileage Plus awards program complete bullshit?

Dear United Mileage Plus program customer service rep,

I just learned something very disturbing while investigating why I’m unable to book a hotel with my MileagePlus award miles.

Every month I receive an email newsletter with info about how many miles I have, when they expire, and how I can possibly use them – for hotels, cars, etc.

United Airlines MileagePlus bullshit awards program

When I tried booking a hotel with the miles through your MileagePlus section of the website, I kept getting an error where after trying to check out I get looped back to the search page. I tried three different browsers until I finally realized there was an error text:

“You are not eligible to use miles for Hotel and Car Awards at this time. You may be eligible for other options such as newspapers, magazines, dining, and air awards. Please visit our <a href=”http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/awards/default.aspx” title=”MileagePlus Use Miles page” target=”_blank”>Use Miles</a> web page for more information.”*

*By the way, work on your browser layouts and compatibility; that error message shouldn’t be off to the right at the bottom of the page. Ever.

I called Mileage Plus reps who transferred me to web support – it turns out I need some kind of special specific credit card in order to use my MileagPlus points for this booking?!

For years I get these newsletters and promo emails, and I spent hours researching the website and NOWHERE is it indicated I cannot use the miles without some additional criteria involved. I just see links to book hotels and cars.

By the way, knowing this info, I STILL cannot locate further details about what is required to be ‘eligible’ to use my earned awards.

I’m an email marketer/website content writer myself, and this is absolutely unacceptable. I spent years flying United accruing these points, weeks researching through your site in order to choose the hotel destination for my family, and now I find out at the last minute they are worthless – I can purchase ‘newspapers, magazines, dining’? Really? With 45,000 points?

This is the second time I’ve complained to United about something and I don’t expect a helpful response this time either, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

10 Ways Living in Israel is Not What You Think: vote for my Expats Awards entry!

blog-award-2013-entry-150There are a million ways living in Israel is just not what you may have thought… I chose 10 of those and made them my entry for the Expat Blog Awards!

10 Ways Living in Israel is Not What You Think

I’m the only entry from Israel, so LET’S GET LOUD!

Like? Vote! Leave a comment at the bottom of the entry. Comments must be authentic, which means 10+ words. Also, use the share buttons above the comment section to spread the word – those also count. We’ve got till Friday, Dec 20.

And if you have even more ways, feel free to leave those here or there!

P.S. Here are some photo hints as to what my top 10 are…

 

Ready? Get over there and comment! 

IKEA-Lack-table-turned-unicorn: a DIY glazed love rainbow paper tape story

This is the story about how I turned a neglected white side table into a unicorn.

Our story starts a few years ago, when we picked up a cheap IKEA Lack table on clearance. I knew one day I’d have my chance to make it shine.

But I took too long and a month ago huz threatened to get rid of it if I didn’t start shining. I looked for ideas – so many IKEA Lack table hack ideas! – and found this one: How to turn a white table into a rainbow. I had a white table! And a love for rainbows! And from there I found this version – cheaper supplies – and got to work.

Ingredients:

  • One IKEA Lack side table
    • Color doesn’t matter; mine happened to be white. A while back I got a deal – picked it up in the clearance section for just 30 NIS or US$8.50! For around these parts, where it retailed double that, pretty good deal.
  • Colorful paper tape/washi tape
    • I used the former – Kid Made Modern from Target, for about $7 a set of 9 color rolls. Cheaper than washi. I used a full set and approx another half.
  • Mod Podge
    • I used 2 coats of Super Gloss, 3/4 of the 8 fl. oz bottle. Should cost around 10 bucks in the US. Cost me 50 NIS here (sigh).
  • Misc:
    • brush for Mod Podge glazing
    • mat for Mod Podge glazing
    • a smaller table to put the Lack table top for glazing
    • whatever the eff you find helpful for screwing in stubborn Lack table legs
    • a couple hours
    • moderate amount of patience

This is a super-easy, relaxing glue-high inducing, relatively affordable, and somewhat kid-friendly (older kid – tape, younger kid – glaze) furniture project. I’m hoping the glazed top will hold; that’s why I went with the super kind, so I can wash with soap and water when necessary.

Go on, make your own fabulous unicorn table!

The Color Run, Israel: A rainbow of running happiness (kinda)

Milestone accomplished! As in, the ‘doing an activity you love with your kid who expressed interest’ milestone!

On Friday, Koala and I ‘ran’ our first race together. I was so  pumped because after the Jerusalem marathon last year, he told me he wanted to run with me one time.

We got our chance with the first-time-in- Israel Running With Color – NATAL’s Run for PTSD in Tel Aviv.

UPDATE (18/11/13): I just became aware that this run was not related to the official The Color Run organization… this whole time I was under a totally different impression, which is probably a PR problem somewhere. So below is what I was expecting, and might explain why I was disappointed. 

The Color Run is ‘the happiest 5k on the planet!’ – a branded global organized run where you get to run a moderate distance for the sake of having totally colorful fun while doing it. Are they coming to your city? Check out this video to get super pumped about it:

The idea is you run through the course in white, while at several points you have ‘paint’ (in our case corn flour and food coloring) tossed on you in happy rainbow clouds.

So Koala and I had been counting down from a month before. I signed us up for the 1.5km ‘Fun Run’ track. We ‘practiced’ on the way to gan in the morning. We cheered when we got our cute white shirts.

He’s a 4 and a half year old boy, so I knew he might get put off by the color-being-thrown-at-you aspect. And he was, because he didn’t like the idea of someone slapping it on, but ‘lo nora’ – he walked around the paint stations and watched me tutu dance my way through the colors.

My color run self!

Here’s what I loved about the rainbow unicorn happiness run:

  • I got to run with my kid! There were so many kids. A great opp to get yours into running.
  • Themed runs are a nice break from the sporty ones… well, at least now at the moment when I can’t do the major sporty ones.
  • Lots of people got really into it! I made tutus for Koala and I to wear; he didn’t wear his in the end but I wore mine. A few other adults/kids wore tutus too and I think we made a lot of folks warm and fuzzy!
  • Tzahal got really into it, which makes sense given the cause (Natal). Actually, all three male winners of the 5k were Tzahal guys. There was also a big Yachad contingent.

A ‘color run’ or ‘running with color’ is an awesome idea. The problem was, in this case, there wasn’t much color… Here’s what I want the organizers to keep in mind for next year:

  • MORE PAINT.
  • Were they supposed to be tossing it on us like in the video, or slapping us on the back with a handful?
  • Maybe less apathetic paint throwing staff?
  • MORE PAINT STATIONS. The whole 1.5km had three, two close to each other at the end. The whole 5km had more but there were long stretches with nothing to keep you going… maybe more signs, music, cheering crowds might have been more the atmosphere you’d expect?
  • The 1.5 was so incredibly anticlimactic that my brother and I joined the 5k starting right after to get our fill. Maybe that’s our problem for being ‘real’ runners trying to make a kid happy, but still… it wasn’t as exciting as it coulda been.
  • Granted I was towards the end of the 5k as I walked half of it, but lots of people ended up rolling on the floors of the paint stations to actually get some color, and many had to take the paint from the buckets for themselves… Maybe having those shakers like in the video would have given more of the cloud effect we expected?

Here are some more alternative views of the event…

The hair:

The hand:

The victory:

The token Israeli flag among Tzahal runners:

The car:

All in all, I’m happy Koala and I did it. I told him after there is an occasional Tzur Hadassah race… he was immediately interested and asking “Ima when are we doing the Tzur Hadassah run?!”

To be continued…

Here are more pictures from the רצים בצבע site and lots more on Facebook.

DIY! Homemade tutu and dinosaur feet… for the kids who want to be everything

Yesterday was crafty craft Friday! Two projects I’ve been wanting to try: DIY dinosaur feet and a homemade tutu. Both are relatively cheap thrills and the dinosaur feet are especially super simple. I’d probably have the kids do that one more often if I had easy access to proper tissue boxes (see below).

So here we go… the imperfectionist’s crafternoon:

DIY Project #1: Homemade tutu!

Ok, so this was totally more for me than for Bebe; she never asked and I never really told her we were doing it. But she was a patient enough mannequin for a 2-year-old.

I took about a meter of tulle, elastic for the waistband, and a ribbon to jazz it up a little with a bow in the back. The ribbon was totally unnecessary and more annoying than it was worth. The waistband doesn’t necessarily look professional but this was a total ‘I’m gonna think about this till I actually just do it’ project so I wasn’t going for perfection.

Clearly a project for a mama or papa and not the 2-year-old, though older kids can totally get the job done with some supervision.

  1. Measured the elastic for the waist, and measured out the tulle for skirt length; basically went a little below the knee, doubled that, and added an inch more. Cut the tulle into about 3 inch strips, give or take for variety (and because, you know, imperfection).
  2. Sewed the elastic for the waist band.
  3. Extra, unnecessary step: I midway became inspired to pretty up the waistband by loosely sewing a purple ribbon so there would be a bow at the back. I’m sure there’s a better way to do this after finishing the tulle part. I’d do that next time.
  4. Fun fact: if you lose the ribbon method I did, it’s a no-sew affair.
  5. Setup: I put the waistband around one of those kiddie play strollers so I could work off it at eye level, sitting on the floor.
  6. Now, the knots. I folded each tulle strip in half, and the loop end went a bit above the elastic; I looped the rest through it and tightened. Then tied again with an extra knot.

It’s a bit tedious but it’s cute and Bebe had a fun time running around pretending to be a bird. Glad I could make that happen!

Here’s the original idea I used.

DIY Project #2: Dinosaur feet!

After two weeks of sick I finally acquired the essential ingredients for the dinosaur feet project: cardboard tissue boxes. It’s a rare commodity here in Israel – our tissues usually come in bags.

(See why it’s so hard to get your craft itch scratched here?)

This is super simple for the kids, and a fun (but probably short term) game when it’s done.

  1. Get two tissue boxes, paint color of your choice, paintbrush, surface mat.
  2. Have the kid paint the boxes.
  3. Leave out to dry.
  4. In the meantime, cut out the ‘toes’ or ‘claws’ depending on what your kid’s dino style is.
  5. When the boxes are dry, attach the claws. I ended up folding them in the back, taping each piece together where you wouldn’t see, and gluing as a unit to the boxes.

Totally effortless on my part, except for green paint bath cleanup. Koala stomped around until he discovered it’s a bit slippery which is way more fun.

Here’s the original idea I used.

Happy crafting!