Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Car Shopping and Other Neurosis

This morning I woke straight up at 3 am. Ok, the dogs had to go out too, but I had that "HOLY CRAP" car payment fear.

I have to buy a new car. The evil Jetta was totalled in an accident (can't talk about that yet), so I have to get a new car.

First it started out with, ok, I'll get a reliable used car so the payments aren't bad. I went to look at a 2002 Toyota RAV4. I want a RAV4, mainly because I've always wanted a jeep, but in Maryland it snows, and gets cold, and frankly the little plastic jeepy covers just don't maintain heat well enough for me. Plus there's always that roll over thing, where the little plastic jeepy cover does really nothing to keep you from flinging out.

Before the accident I had toyed with getting a Cooper Mini, which are adorable, but after the accident, I'd prefer something a bit more tank-like.

After doing the Consumer Reports research, e-pinions research, and generally looking around, the RAV4 is both reliable, affordable, and damn cute, plus it has 4 wheel drive, which in Maryland... it snows.

So I did a Carmax search and found the 2002 RAV4 and decided to give it a try. Went to the dealership, dragging my mom along and sat in it. It's... used. You could tell it was used. While the dealer went to copy my drivers license for a test drive, hubby noticed that one of the back seats wasn't locked in. He fiddled with it. The dealer fiddled with it. Finally, after about 15 minutes of fiddling, I felt that was definitely a sign that this RAV4 was destined to become Satan III, and ran away screaming.

It was at thought point that I went from "I'll buy a cheap used car that will get me to and from work", to "Hey! 2005 RAV4s aren't that expensive, the payments would only be $100 more than a used one!"

Found a cool blue one with cloth seats (I hate leather seats), with all the bells and whistles that I want. Stil within my pre-approved loan amount with the insurance settlement check. Now I'm looking at not only another car payment, but a larger one.

So, I woke up this morning thinking "should I buy a cheaper car?" We could use the extra money to pay off bills, and save money. HAHAHAHAAAA! Who am I fooling? We'd only spend that "extra" money on more toys and junk. At that point I realized that debt is what life is all about. We'll never be out of debt, it'll just keep piling on and on and on. I have a friend who sold their house for a zillion bucks, paid off their debt, moved to Florida and just got a home equity loan to fix up their new house the way they want. They went from debt, to debt free, to debt again. It never ends.

So, if we're going to be in debt, and continue to be the gerbils in the wheels working to pay off that debt... I might as well be in debt and drive around in a kick ass blue 2005 RAV4 with really cool cup holders that actually hold a Starbucks Venti cup.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Where's My Mother?

Since my dad died three years ago, my mom has been travelling by train out to Maryland to stay with us for Christmas. She loves the train, even though a plane would get her here in 2 hours, and if she wants to sit in a train for over 16 hours, then whatever.

The first year she arrived at Washington Union Station. We shlepped to a MARC train on Christmas Eve (it snowed that year), rode the MARC to Union and drug her back up to Maryland with us.

The second year she arrived at Baltimore Penn Station, so we shlepped up there and got her.

This year we said "why don't you just hop a train from Union Station and go to the Amtrak station at BWI which is 5 miles down the road from us", so that's what she did... well, sorta.

First of all, the weather sucked in the Midwest, so her train was 4 hours late arriving at her station. I kept watch on the internet for her progress, and determined that she wasn't going to get to BWI by 2:30pm, but would probably make it around 5:30pm.

At 5pm, we ventured off to get a festive Christmas Eve latte and Starbucks, then mosied over to the Amtrak station. It's a very small station, hard to miss anyone. We get there as her train rolls in. People get off, people get on, train leaves, no mother. I call our home answering machine, and there's a message from her saying she had arrived. At least that's what I think she said because even with her teeth in, she's still hard to understand. I think she says "I'm in Baltimore... BWI". Great, for some reason she's ended up at the airport, so off we go to the airport.

Ever try finding someone at an airport on Christmas Eve? Impossible. We call my sister back in Indiana and ask if she's called there, as we seem to have misplaced her. No call there. By this time I'm ranting about the fact that I've given her my cell phone number 800 zillion times, and yet she calls the house. We give up at the airport, and head back to the train station for one more look (what if she was in the bathroom when we were there), searched the bathroom, no mother.

As we head home, I check the home messages again, this time a message (slightly frantic) saying she was in Baltimore. Ok... there are only a zillion train stops in Baltimore, and mom has a tendency to call everything Baltimore. She could have been in Richmond, VA and call it Baltimore.

We go home, feed the dogs, wait for another call to pin down exactly WHERE in Baltimore she was. No call, nobody answers the station phone, nobody answers the payphone where she called from. By now I'm picturing her locked out of the train station being accosted by crack ho's. We change the answering machine to say call my sister, we're coming to get you, and off we go to Penn Station, on Christmas eve, at 7:30pm.

Drunk drivers all OVER the place, weaving around the major highways. What fun, ho, ho, ho. Of course, even with the nav system, we make a wrong turn, end up who knows where, and eventually reach Penn Station to find my mother, sitting like a lost waif eating a cookie. She proceeds to tell us about her trip... in the train station... um, hello, wanna get out of the train station?

Apparently when their train got to Union Station, they herded everyone onto another train without asking anyone where they were heading. She almost got sent to Boston (and hey, yes she's my mother, but I would have to leave her there), but some people raised a stink and they threw them out at Penn Station (merry christmas). She said she tried calling my cell phone... except she was about 5 digits off on the actual number. Who knows what phone was ringing, or where.

So, she's here. The dogs have sufficiently mauled her in welcome, and it's the start of a wonderful christmas time for us.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Our Night Out on Friday

On Friday, I was working at home (as usual) in my comfy sleepy pants and shirt when hubby IM'd me and asked if I wanted to go see "National Treasure" with some of his co-workers.

A.) I HATE Nicholas Cage
B.) Glowing reviews such as "a half-hour too long" and "utterly ridiculous" don't compel me to spend a handful of money and mortgage the house for popcorn to see a movie.
C.) I'm in my sleepy pants, this would require me to actually get dressed and go out.

I ask who is going, hoping that it was just some guys from work, to which I would tell him to go have a fun "guys night out" while I go blow money at Costco (if I managed to get enough strength to change out of said sleepy pants and go somewhere). He replies that it will be two co-workers and their wives (one wife I happen to know, and all she does is bitch about her ex-husband). On top of that, after the movie we're all going out to eat. Oh, crap. It all hinges on one co-worker arranging for a babysitter.

A.) This will require me to be nice to people and chat about the movie
B.) This will require me to listen to the one wife bitch about her ex-husband (who she's been divorced from for about 10 years)
C.) This will require me to listen to them talk about their kids, where all I have to offer is a detailed explanation about Nova's ass mass and how he took a healthy poop today.

I call on friends to cross fingers and sacrifice anything to the babysitting gods to strike all available babysitters dead where they stand... to no avail. It's a go. Friends tell me to come up with excuses: migraines, spleen attack, anything. I do point out to hubby when he gets home to pick me up that our 15 year old dog Nova hasn't eaten all day, and is very creaky. That's the truth, he was creaky and acting stiff, and he hadn't eaten all day (not for a lack of me trying).

A.) The theater we're going to is at a mall
B.) It's almost Thanksgiving

Parking took for freakin ever, and the walk to the theater was exhausting.

We get our tickets and get refreshments ($2.75 for a normal sized bag of M&Ms, bite me) which consisted of stale popcorn and a coke that turned out to be diet coke (ack).

The movie, as predicted, could not suck enough and it wasn't a half hour too long, it was two hours too long. I had brought my iPod along, but out of consideration, I didn't plug it in, but wished I had. Two hours of my life I'll never get back. I won't go into details, other than saying IT SUCKED!

We get out of the theater, and start making plans for dinner, and I turn to Gil and say "I'm a little worried about Nova", and that's all it took. We bowed out of dinner to go home and check on him, I waved some soup, we all watched tv in bed and life was good again... with my sleepy pants on.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Not So Instant Gratification

I wanted a nightstand. I actually already had one, but a large fan was sitting on it, which meant nothing else could sit on it, therefore I actually wanted a larger nightstand.

Having purchased one at Lowes Home Improvement a few years ago (which my hubby snagged somehow, leaving me with a small nightstand with a big fan on it), I figured I'd check to see if they still had them.... and they did, according to their Web site.

Lowes is great, because they have a way for you to purchase the item on-line, then go in and get it. This is great for me because I HATE driving all over the world looking for things. I see that the nightstand is available for in store pickup, so I buy it, and as instructed, I wait for the confirmation e-mail, which arrives, and then we decide to go run some errands then pick it up, because their Web site says to give them two hours to get it to the Customer Service department.

We run our errands, then head over to Lowes. I hand the printed receipt to the customer service woman, she taps some numbers in... makes a phone call, then informs me that Lowes no longer carries furniture in their stores, it would take two weeks for it to get to the store. Excuse me? She points to the small print on the printed receipt that says "special order".

We've had this problem before with Best Buy. When the new Unreal Tournament 2003 came out, we found a copy at Best Buy on-line. It said they had two of them "in store". We waited for the receipt to get sent and then took off for Best Buy, where we stood in line (a big line) and were told "oh, it's not actually IN the store, it's actually IN the warehouse and it'll take 3-5 days to get it IN the store".

A.) When did "in store" change its meaning from "sitting in the store", to "anywhere BUT in the store"?

B.) In this day where packages are sent overnight, why does it take something anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks to get somewhere? I can see if I was buying a hand whittled yeti tooth in the form of a rhino that had to be carried by a yak led by sherpas through the Andes mountains why it might take 2 weeks, but a nightstand that's mass produced and sitting in a local warehouse down the road?

C.) If customers came to a store and looked at an item, then wanted to buy it and were told "Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have that in the store, it'll take 2 weeks to get it here", there wouldn't be a lot of repeat business at that store, and yet merchants can't seem to grasp that this is exactly what they are saying to people who "purchase " items for in store pickup.

The only company that has mastered the art of "in store pickup" is Circuit City. You order it on-line and they even tell you if it's in stock, you drive over to the store, a conveyor belt spits out your purchases, the cashier scans the bar codes, bags it and you're out the door. PERFECT.

So, after telling Lowes to shove it, we drove around looking for a nightstand (which is the very thing I was trying to avoid), and came home empty handed. I then stole back my original nightstand, gave hubby the smaller one, and now have room to sit a cup of hot tea or a water bottle beside me at night even with the fan.

The only problem is... now hubby wants a bigger nightstand.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Normal Routine

Hubby has sufficiently recovered to go back to work tomorrow (whew, that 70% Short Term Disability payment really sucks... if we ever get it), and soon we'll be back into our normal routine:

Starbucks/Work/Puppy duty/work/home.

I can't wait.

Kaiser Rant
To continue my rant against Kaiser, last week (two weeks after hubby had been booted out of the hospital by Kaiser), a Kaiser representative called and informed him that he needed to see a doctor as soon as he was discharged. Hubby informed them he had been discharged two weeks ago, and they told him that they just found out.

Whatever, so he makes an appointment. We go to the appointment and are told we owe 10 bucks for a co-pay. The beauty of being covered under two insurance plans is that whatever one you aren't using will pick up the co-pay. Oh, but not Kaiser. The receptionist snootily informs us that "they don't deal with other insurance companies, you'll have to take that up with them". Fine.

Hubby gets called in, and his version of the visit goes something like this:

1.) he's handed a pile of forms to fill out
2.) doctor comes in and looks at the wound and says "wow, that's a big wound"
3.) doctor then asks him when he last had a complete physical, because it's important to make sure that he's healthy. Doctor gives him a form with phone numbers to call to schedule his physical.
4.) Hubby reminds doctor that Kaiser was suppose to supply us with medical supplies that have never arrived.
5.) Doctor tells him a nurse will bring some in, nurse comes in and hands him 2 tiny little packets of gauze.
6.) visit over.

Bank Rant

After our helpful Kaiser visit, we deposit some checks via the drive through ATM machine. 90% of all americans now own SUVs. 90% of all banks think that 90% of americans drive Cooper Minis. There's nothing like leaning halfway out of your truck window to jab at buttons and try to hit the slot to make a deposit. Of course, another check came in the mail when we got home from the bank, so I have to shlepp out AGAIN to the bank to deposit that one.

Just An Observation

We go all over the place and pay by credit card. It's very simple now, you swipe the card and sign the screen. Drugstores, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot... everywhere you sign the little electronic pad... but not at CompUSA. CompUSA makes you sign the receipt, even though it asks you to sign the electronic pad, they don't do that. Is it just me, or is there something strange about a computer store that doesn't trust electronic signatures?

Stop the Stupid People

At Arundel Mills Mall, if you go into the mall through Bed, Bath & Beyond, exit the store, turn right (heading toward Starbucks), you'll see a line of kiddie carts in the shape of race cars. Kid sits in cart, parents can put their purchases in a mesh bag in the back. The mesh bag says (in big, white print)

"DO NOT PUT CHILD IN BAG".

Do people really need to be told this?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Who is This Guy?

Every time there's an election, in the weeks prior, in the mornings, as I drive to work there's a guy standing by the side of the road with a campaign sign with his name on it, and he waves to people.

The name on the sign is Leopold (which always makes me think of the infamous Leopold/Loeb case... but I digress), and he seems like a nice guy, waving back when I wave at him.

I think he's either a very friendly guy looking for votes, or a very stupid guy for standing on the side of a busy road where people are killed on a daily basis by idiot drivers.

So this year I thought, fine, I'll vote for the guy, for whatever he's voting for, because at least he's consistent. I get my handy-dandy voter cheat sheet in the mail and I look to see what exactly he's running for... but he's not listed. Anywhere... for anything.

I want to stop when I see him and ask "what are you doing?", but if he's a loon....

Crazy people in Maryland.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Just Call Me Nurse

Monday

The visiting nurse came out. She shares our view about Kaiser (if you can't recall, our view is that they SUCK!). She also began to share our view of the rude surgeon that came in Saturday and discharged hubby, because she informed us that he must be insane to have told us not to pack the gaping icky wound. So she demonstrated, and my skills as a former vet tech came to good use, although I'd feel much better if hubby thrashed around and tried to bite me a few times while I was doing it.

Tuesday

Is a blur, I'm sure I have something to rant about, but frankly, sleeping in the guest room with two bed hog dogs is wearing me out. Hubby did feel well enough for a quick trip to Costco, where they have some awesome 250gb external fire wire drives for dirt cheap, so we bought one. They also had some scrubs in his size, so we bought two pair of those for him to wear around (sweats are too... sweaty).

I managed to get to be at a reasonable hour, and also managed to get a good portion of the bed after scooting the snarling Loki to one side. "AHHH", I thought, "finally a decent night's sleep". Then at 3:30 am the power went out for no good reason.

In our house, you know the power has gone out by the deafening sound of all the UPS devices beeping. Mad dash throughout the house to turn everything off. I thought fleetingly that my newly fixed XP would be fried (because that's just how luck goes), and after everything was powered down, I went back to bed... only to be awaken at 6:30 am by Meeshka, who was hungry.

Wednesday

Pretty good day actually, except for some dizzy spells that hubby had. I'm exhausted, trying to get some work done from home and FINALLY figured out a problem I had been having with something. The nursing duty hasn't been so bad, and tonight's soak went well. We went to Starbucks for decaf latte and met one of hubby's co-workers and gave him the horror story. He can sympathize, he's been through something similar. Got some tasty burritos at Baja Fresh and ate early.

The dogs must feel that he's making progress, as they've renewed their nightly riccochet throughout the house, minus the bed springboard. The bedroom is off limits until further notice, so they've modified their route to include the couch... but it's not the same.

Tomorrow the nurse comes back. Monday is his appointment with the surgeon. I hope my services are no longer needed shortly after that and I can go to work and nap.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Shoe Drops

I knew the incredibly good week was too good to be true. Last week my hubby began experiencing some pain, and we both thought it was a boil. His doctor on Tuesday thought it was a boil, but as each day passed, he was in more and more pain until even Vicodin was doing nothing for him.

On Thursday I took him back to the doctor, who told him to go to the Emergency Room at our local hospital. She called ahead to let them know he was coming, and they took him right away, which was cool.

After the usual 300 questions, they took him to a bed, hooked him up with IV fluids and squirted pain meds in the IV. It did very little to give him comfort. A doctor came in and examined him and determined that it wasn't a boil, it was an abcess, and a surgeon would have to look at him.

Insurance Sucks

We're both covered under two different insurance companies. Hubby's is Kaiser, I have Aetna. I've never had a problem with Aetna. You get sick, you go to the doctor, they cover it. Kaiser, apparently, has a different type of plan. Kaiser has their own hospitals and doctors, which I find to be offensive and a HUGE conflict of interest. Kaiser threw a snit because hubby was not at one of their hospitals, but the ER doctor explained that he was in too much pain to move, so they hesitantly decided that he could stay there (how nice of them).

Go in for one thing, get another

We arrived at the ER around 1:30pm, and at 5:00pm hubby was wheeled up to a room, where a flock o' nurses surrounded him, asked him questions (which I mostly answered because he was in too much pain), and then the surgeon came to see him. Really nice guy! He was suppose to leave for the night, but when he heard what was going on, and how much pain hubby was in, he stayed to do the surgery. They wheeled him to surgery at 6pm, and I left to take care of the dogs because they had been locked up most of the day. When I returned at 8pm, hubby was back in his room and MUCH improved.

Friday

I go in to visit hubby, he's doing a LOT better! I leave to try to get some stuff done, but when I get back, hubby tells me that Kaiser called him in his room and told him that he's all better now, and they want to dishcarge him. Excuse me? He's hooked up to IV antibiotics, IV pain meds, IV everything, and has packing in a gaping hole where the abcess was, and they want to boot him out? I call Kaiser and yell at them. They claim ignorance. The surgeon was delayed until late and didn't see him until 8pm, but told him there was no way they were releasing him.

Saturday

Juggling dogs, hospital visits and some sleep, same thing happens, I go in the morning and the nurses say he's staying, I come back that afternoon and hubby has been told he's leaving. This time a pompous asshole surgeon comes in because hubby's surgeon is off that day, informs hubby that he's leaving, demonstrates (roughly) how I need to change the dressing, and gives us instructions to call his office and see the other surgeon on Monday. The nurses were pretty upset, hubby was upset because we're paying a butt load of money for two types of insurance and now they're booting him out.

We get all sorts of fun medical supplies to change the dressing, and prescriptions for antibiotics and pain killers. Hubby wanted a latte, so we stopped at Starbucks after the nurses took out his IV line and gave him a percocet. It's 4pm.

6:00 p.m.

Hubby is puking his guts out. We think it's the latte, but we're not sure.

7:30 p.m.

Time for a dressing change, hubby takes a percocet and eats some soup.

9:30 p.m.

Puke city once again. I'm thankful that for some reason my "join the party" puke reflex is on vacation. We decide that its the percocet and opt to hold off on that for a while to see if he can keep something down. Then we read the antibiotic instructions and find that those may make him urp too. Lovely.

A "day nurse" is suppose to visit once a day to look at the wound and stuff. That'll be fun. In the meantime, I'm there for bandage changes, fetching him stuff, and keeping the dogs from mauling him until he's maulable. Despite the puking, pain, and impending going to the bathroom for the first time event... he's in good spirits, and almost normal sense of humor-wise. I'm glad to have him back.

As far as work goes tomorrow... screw it, I'm staying home with him. He's my priority right now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Debate II (Electric Boogaloo)

Once again we were sucked into the Presidential Debate on Friday (because we have no lives and weren't out partying and drinking).

Once again the usual jabs about the war, but Kerry said a few things about the war (that he hasn't run into the ground already) that intrigued us.

Of course there was the usual "faster, better training" thing, but now, he pledges to add an additional 40,000 active duty members... but he doesn't support the draft.

When Bush was asked about reinstating the draft he said "I will NOT reinstate the draft" (not a direct quote, he made it clear is all). When asked, Kerry said "I don't support the draft". Why does that scare me? He didn't say "I will not re-instate the draft", he didn't say "come hell or high water, I don't care there will be no draft"... he said "I don't support the draft". Kinda sounds like, well, while I don't support the draft, if we need to... Then he gave his "adding 40,000 more active duty member" speech.

Having never read any of his grandiose plans except for blurbs in the left wing news, I've figured out where he's going to get these 40,000 people. Being a democrat, and sympathetic to causes, especially of those homeless and out of work... Kerry is going to round up the homeless and unemployed and send them to Iraq!

It's a perfect plan! The unemployment rates will drop to 0, the homeless rate will drop to 0, he's providing people with jobs, food, health care, and they will solve that pesky Iraq problem for us!

Another thing that really (and I mean REALLY irked me), is when Kerry said "The american people can BUY into the same health care plan that senators and congressmen GIVE to themselves". Excuse me? They get their healthcare for free? I'm sure it's a really good health care plan then, but frankly, I doubt that anyone can afford that (other than those high paid senators and congressmen).

Another thing that irked me was his constantly saying "nobody knows how to do this but us"... as if we're all idiots and could never come up with a way to balance the budget (don't spend so damn much), or how to keep lawyers from driving up the cost of healthcare (shoot all the lawyers).

Here's another thing, Kerry is all for stopping outsourcing jobs to other countries, wants to keep jobs and money in the US... and yet he's all for buying drugs from Canada? How about we lower the cost of drugs in the US, keep the jobs here, keep the money here, and Kerry can go to Canada.

Very Strange Week

I'm having a very strange week.

As I last posted, my satanic Jetta's coolant light came one, so I had to drag it to the shop on Monday. I called later that afternoon and was informed that the coolant level was a bit low, no big deal, they put more in and told me to bring it back if it came on again, but they didn't see any leaks... no charge.

No charge?

Nothing is wrong with it?

It didn't cost me an internal organ to pay for it?

HP Quality team called me on Monday, and told me they were sending a technician to my house to replace my motherboard and hard drive... no charge.

No charge?

Granted I complained off and on for a year about it crashing every 5 minutes, and it was a week after my warrenty expired that they decided it was a hardware problem... no charge?

I've worked for the same company for 4 years (a major milestone for me, having usually "moved on" after 2 years tops), and have never won anything in their drawings for free goodies. On friday morning I checked my e-mail and found that I won a Baltimore Ravens football jersey (a $65.00 value), and it happened to be Jamal Lewis' jersey, which is funny to me.

Did I mention that a week or so ago the VA finally decided to give me back pay for a disability, and it was enough to buy an iPod with all the goodies?

Everyone at work wants me to go buy a lotto ticket for them.

I'm just sitting at home waiting for a gigantic shoe to drop on my head.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

That's Debatable

I watched the debates last week. All this hoopla over who won is ridiculous though. It's not the Olympics, there weren't judges holding up score cards after each round (and if there were, I'm sure there would be some sort of addition controversial afterwards).

I don't like Kerry, especially with his new tan, it makes his freakishly large teeth even freakishly whiter. I think Edwards is either a used car salesman, or an evangelist, both make me oogie, therefore he's the anti-Christ to me.

I did squirm as Bush lapsed into moments of silence, and looked a bit confused. But at least he talks normal. I'd probably lapse into moments of silence too trying to decipher what the hell Kerry is babbling about.

I made a list of things that really kinda freaked me out, and yes, they all came from John Kerry. I'll save the really freaky thing for last.

1.) "Weapons of mass destruction are crossing the borders into Iraq every day." Good Lord! I guess he's right in one aspect, that whackos from far and wide are coming in to cause chaos and grief. I guess you could say that a car bomb that kills a bunch of innocent people does cause massive destruction... But if that is the case, then we had every right to go into Iraq and stay there... STOP THOSE WMD FROM CROSSING THE BORDER!!!

2.) "The solution for Iraq is do to better training, faster" Really? That'll solve all the problems right there. Seems ridiculously simple, and simple minded. No shit Sherlock? It wouldn't possibly be that these poor people, who for years were terrorized, beaten down, and stepped on need a little bit more than faster, better training? I mean, what with all those weapons of mass destruction flowing over the border every day.

3.) "If we do what I say, we can start to bring troops home in 6 months"... But he didn't go on to say when all troops would be home. I take it that if one guy comes home 6 months after he's elected, he could say that he kept his promise.

4.) After saying that we need to exhaust all diplomatic methods before sending our troops in, he says "We need to offer the African Union logistical support". For those not in the know, "logistical support" translates to "troops". This was just after he explained to the world how we don't have enough troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get busy growing those troop trees!

5.) He reamed Bush for taking a stand and even though he's "wrong" never wavering, then went on to say that his ideas are RIGHT and he will never waiver. Huh?

And the top oogie feeling comment of the night:

6.) "I will hunt down and kill all terrorists, I will hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden". Ok, so much for the American way of "innocence before guilt". I'm sure he's not PERSONALLY going to hunt them down, which means (yep) more troops hunting down and killing. ALL terrorists? Checheyan terrorists? Palestine terrorists? Israeli terrorists? Organizations that use "terrorist" tactics (as reported by the "oh we're not liberal, we're middle of the road" media)? Isn't that the same behavior that the US frowned upon when the Israelis started taking out "terrorists"? Sure, there were reports and film of one of our smart bombs taking out a van that "reportedly" carried a whole load of terrorists, but how do we actually know they were terrorists, and perhaps not some family on their way to a picnic? But even in the freak out time right after the September 11th attack, President Bush said that we'll hunt them down and bring them to justice. That probably meant "hunt them down and kill them", but when you have a potential future president vowing to "hunt people down and kill them"... that's really scary.

Personally, if he does get into office and starts hunting down and killing "terrorists", I hope he starts with some of these "animal liberation" organizations, because they're just plain nuts.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I hate my Jetta

I have a 1996 VW Jetta, and I hate it. It knows that I hate it, and I don't care.

We bought it because we had to, our 4-runner's engine blew up and we didn't have another reliable car, so we bought it. Afterwards, we checked Consumer Reports and found that they advised NEVER buy a 1996 VW Jetta, it was a very bad year. Thanks.

The door trim falls off. That handy lump of rubber that runs along the door just oozes off, drags along the ground, makes people laugh as you drive. I've had it replaced at least three times (at 80 bucks per trim, per visit), until finally I just gave up. A myriad of electrical problems, things falling off it, expensive upkeep, and no matter what I do to it, it ungratefully falls apart a week later.

Not more than a month ago, I gave it brakes, brand new brakes. Before that, I fixed the oil leak it developed. Friday I go to start it and the coolant light is blinking. I should have known... we got some unexpected money, so it wants a piece of that action.

A few days ago, I put air in the tires. I really, REALLY hate putting air in tires. When I was a kid, I saw a news report about some guy that was putting air in a semi-truck tire, the tire exploded and took off the guy's head. EEEEP!

Ever since then, I contort my body into bizarre positions in order to reach the tire thing, but keep my head out of the way. Better yet, I'll just wait until the tire gets noticeable low before putting air in... like when it's completely flat. My other devious plan is to wait until hubby is in the car, then go get air because he'll do it for me.

So just when I start feeling somewhat better about tires not blowing up, I'm watching some tv show about a blind guy that works on race cars. Pretty cool stuff... until they announce that he lost his sight 6 years ago after a farm tractor tire blew up in his face.

Next time the tires are low, I'm just going to go get new tires... if the stupid Jetta will run.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Smack in the Face

Our 15 year old Siberian Husky, Nova, has been doing very well since his refusal to eat and discovery of liver failure. He has his more creaky days, but generally he's a cranky old dog going about his business as usual.

He seemed even more creakier the other day, plus we noticed that his butt was a bit irritated. Called and got him an appointment for his follow up bloodwork and to check out the butt problem. We were also going to see if he could take some new arthritis medicine to help his creaky bones.

Our usual vet saw him, we really like her because she's very diligent, attentive, and good. She gave him a thorough once over before the bloodwork, which included a prostate check, her reaction was immediate "CRAP!". He has a small fist-sized mass in his lower intestinal tract close to the anal glands. It wasn't there 4 months ago when she last checked, and we could tell she was very upset that she hadn't checked at each visit.

Turns out that even if it isn't cancer (we're waiting on the cytology to come back to see whether it is or isn't) the mass is in an inoperable spot. It will continue to grow until it blocks the rectum. Even if Nova were a young dog, it still would not be operable. If it is cancer, then chances are the cancer will spread to other organs, and the brain. His lymph nodes are very tender, so she suspects that has already happened, and it may be why he's been disoriented at times.

Best case scenario: it's not cancer, but eventually the mass will grow and block his rectum. Worst case scenario: it is cancer, it'll affect his entire body. Either scenario: we're talking months. Not "if", but "when".

We thought we were going to lose him a few months ago, but he recovered. We went into the vet thinking "we got this under control", only to find out that you really never "control" things.

Hubby is taking it very hard. I'm in "gotta be strong, think clearly" mode. I have to keep reminding the both of us that we can't dwell so hard on death that we miss what life we have with him. Our vet is crushed. She blames herself for the whole mess, but in fact, she's done a fantastic job, which is why we like her so much. She actually cares, and her patients' health affects her.

This really sucks, but it's a part of life... and death. Embrace life now.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Flung, Tossed, What's the Difference?

After having just read the Bernard Goldberg book "Bias", I'm a little hyper-sensitive about the news lately. What better example of "slant" can there be with the recent news story where a young man was fleeing police in a car with his girlfriend's baby inside.

I saw the video. Had I not, the stories written about what had happened would have made me angry and caused me to hate this man (who later died after ramming a police car).

Here are two examples of headlines:
"Baby Flung Out Of Car During High Speed Chase"
"Baby Tossed Out Of Car Window During High Speed Chase"

HOLY SHIT! Some guy FLUNG a baby out of a car during a high speed chase? "Flung" gives the reader the image that as this guy was whipping down the highway (at a high rate of speed) he FLUNG the baby (just the baby) out of the car. Subsequent descriptions written about what happen to the baby (in a car seat) after it was "flung" suggest that the car seat "tumbled" across the highway. Well, duh... if a baby in a car seat had been flung out of a speeding car, you would think it would skitter down the road. He must have done that to create a distraction for police so he could get away! He certainly deserved to die in the ensuing accident as he probably purposefully rammed the police car.

HOLY SHIT! Some guy tossed a baby out of a car window during a high speed chase? While this guy was whipping down the highway (at a high rate of speed) rolled down the window and flung the baby out the window. He must have done that to create a distraction for police so he could get away! He certainly deserved to die in the ensuing accident as he probably purposefully rammed the police car.

EXCEPT, I saw the video. Even before I read these stories, I happened to catch the video feed on CNN and from my perspective, I saw this:
Some guy was being chased by police. He slowed the car down to almost a complete stop. He opened his car door, and placed the baby seat on the road. The car was still moving slightly, so the babyseat bounced lightly a few times and tipped over, as the man pulled away. Police stopped and picked up the carseat and unharmed baby. Later the man died when he hit a police car (that part wasn't on the video, so who knows what really happened). When I saw the video, I thought "At least the guy had the common decency to get the child out of harms way". I felt his actions were that to save the child from harm, that his intention was not to harm the baby. The news people didn't say why he was being chased, but even if it were for murder, he had at least a SHRED of common decency in him.

So... upon seeing the video, not once did I think the baby was flung, and there's no mistaking that he opened up the car door, so how could it even be written as truth that he threw the baby out of car window... unless whoever wrote the story did absolutely NO ivestigating whatsoever, and didn't even watch the video, and perhaps wrote the story based on what someone told them. That's not reporting, that's pure fiction!

Regardless, doing a Google News search, the flung baby, and tossed out a window story were perpetuated by news service after news service throughout the United States (and probably other countries as well). People who were not able to watch the actual video were led to believe (mistakenly... maliciously?) that this guy flung a baby, or tossed it out a car window from a speeding car.

This is just one blatant example of how the news MEDIA manipulate their audiences. It gets them ratings. I can't count the times CNN alone played the video over and over, with their newscasters explaining to us what we were seeing... because we're too stupid to make our own decisions on what actually happened.

I've been very cynical of the "news" for a long time, but Mr. Goldberg has helped me understand more of the "spin", so I can be aware of other "untruths" that filter into reports to help me "make up my mind" on important issues.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Vacation

Most people go places on vacation, but we haven't for the past 10 years. Depressing, yes, but then how many times have you greeted a returning from vacation co-worker with the fateful words "How was vacation", only to be captured and tortured by their tale of woe. "The plane was late, our luggage lost, the car broke down, there was no rental car, the hotel had fleas, my kid puked in the lobby..." on and on and on.

Vacations are stressful, if not downright unhealthy.
1.) Packing: what do you take? What's the weather going to be like? What will you be doing? Fancy dress clothes or casual clothes? No matter what you bring, it isn't enough, or not the right kind, and you always forget something important, like medicine that allows you to live.

2.) Getting there: plane, train, automobile. It all takes time and time away from "relaxing". Long lines at airport security, sitting on a train for days, or driving until your butt takes the form of the car seat.

3.) Strange beds, stranger things left in the bed. There was an article about the myriad of diseases, insects, vermin and other pleasantries left in hotel bedding. Some experts suggests packing your own bedding and pillows (another suitcase to haul around).

4.) Strange food: in foreign countries what you eat may eat you back later in the day. Plus you have to pay for it if you eat out, or you can save money and get a room with a kitchen, but why go on vacation at all if you spend half the day cooking?

5.) Coming back: plane, train, automobile (see #2).

By the time you get home, you have to unpack, wonder why you bought the hula girl souvenir, hear people complain that you didn't bring them something back (if you want something that bad, pay to go there), and get ready for work!

We take the non-vacation vacation approach. My brother-in-law flies in from the West Coast. We wake up every day around noonish and go out and get a latte and relax. We meander home, play with the dogs or nap (with the dogs, they're big nappers), then later go out to eat. Come home and play Unreal 2004 Tournament until the wee hours, then go to bed. Repeat for a week.

It's sorta like being on summer vacation as a kid, except you have a car, driver's license, and money.

So when people ask "what did you do on vacation", I simply say "nothing" and walk away to get the life blood sucked out of me by micro-managers. At least I'm well rested.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Stop the Monkeys (and other woodland creatures)

Ok, so we have a possum that vacations in our recycle bin (I've since named him Clyde), and little bunny rabbits that dart across the street every morning when we go to work (Friday, one of these bunnies sadly didn't make it across the road... no, I didn't hit it, it was dead when I passed), and the other day, Loki (mutant pawed wonder puppy) decided to show me just what is lurking in my very own back yard.

It's dark, he's out there shaking his head and prancing around, which is the international husky sign that he's found something cool to play with, and it's not a squeeky toy. Armed with a flashlight, I investigate and find... a snake! EUUUUUWW. Loki backs off when told and throws up his dinner. Now I'm really freaking because what if he threw it up because said snake is poisonous?

It's about a foot long, and oogie snake-like, and STILL ALIVE!! AAAAAAAAAH! I check it over, and it looks like a garter snake, doesn't have a rattle on the tail, doesn't seem very poisonous, so I attribute the throwing up to just general doggie excitement. I picked it up (cursing that once again I neglected to put on the rubber gloves I bought for just these occassions), and the snake's tongue starts darting out and it's bleeding from a lovely puncture wound on the head. Carried it over to the fence of bones (where all dead and dying get tossed) and heave it over with that chilled goosebumpy feeling of ick.

After herding Loki back inside (he's looking for more snakes to play with), I consult the Internet. I LOVE the Internet, as it affords me the ability to look up things immediately, instead of freaking out and making whacky calls to people in the middle of the night trying to find out just what does a poisonous Maryland snake look like. It has pictures of snakes and facts on snakes, and to my relief, there are only two types of poisonous snakes in the whole state, and one of those only lives in the mountains (like you can call those hills in Maryland mountains. Washington state has MOUNTAINS, Maryland and Pennsylvania have big hills... when was the last time you heard of someone becoming trapped on a Maryland "mountain" and needing a helicopter to rescue them... but I digress).

I found this great Web site:

Wildlife & Heritage Service - All About Snakes in Maryland

It lists all poisonous snakes in Maryland, and even pictures. I google searched for more pictures to be sure, but apparently Loki had come across either a rat snake or garter snake, neither of them are dangerous, unless you are a rat or garter.

Last night all of the dogs were VERY interested in something that was in the neighbor's yard, peering through the fence and refusing to leave. I have no idea what it was, don't want to know what it was, and I hope it doesn't decide to come in the back yard because I'm running low on rubber gloves and the bone pile is growing.

WAH! Make them stop!

So, Senator John Kerry didn't have too much to say when 527 groups were slamming President Bush in ads, but now that the tables are turned, he's crying foul, pointing fingers, and doing nothing much to discredit these ads except to say that the Bush campaign is in on it.

CNN.com - Bush adviser quits after appearing in swift boat ad - Aug 21, 2004

Is this how he'll run our country? When terrorists are bombing our cities and killing our people, will John Kerry step up and whine "Stop it, it's not fair!"

I don't know if he got his awards fairly. I've spent time in the military, I know how things are spun to make them seem more dramatic, more heroic. It happens all the time, and I doubt Kerry is the first to get an award the easy way, when others lost limbs or lives for a medal. He spent a whopping 4 months in Viet Nam, where others served longer, lost more.

Ok, he was over there, he won medals, big deal. Winning medals and serving in combat does NOT make a President. If that were the case, there are millions of qualified people to be President. What makes a President is a good leader. Someone that can lead the people with concise and decisive actions and decisions. I've been trying to figure out what Kerry's platform is since he started running. "I'm going to create more jobs, cut the taxes, do this and do that..." BUT HOW? It's nice he's saying all these things, BUT HOW IS HE GOING TO DO IT? Nobody seems to know, or isn't telling. Am I going to vote for him and wait for the rabbit to get pulled out of a hat and hope he makes good on all these promises? HELL NO! I've been promised to death by other candidates who never produced that rabbit. I want someone who says what they mean, and does it. I'm tired of being lied to, and with all this hoopla over his "war" record, and with him doing nothing but whining and telling the bullies to stop picking on him, I doubt I'll be picking his name out when I'm standing in that ballot box. I actually have no idea who I'm going to vote for at this time, but I do know one person I won't be voting for.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Update on Katie.com

As of 6 August 2004, Penguin (choad publisher of kiddie books) has finally realized that they can't win with all of the tech world breathing down their throats, and has agreed to rename the book "katie.com" to something equally tasteless, but gripping.

Congratulations Katie Jones for winning one for us little folk.

For those who want to let Katie Jones know of their support:
www.katie.com

For those who still think Katie Tarbox is a manipulative weasel:
www.katiet.com

Sunday, August 08, 2004

General Ramblings

When I was growing up, only poor people ate Hamburger Helper, or Ravioli out of a can. Granted, we were not rich by any means, something I discovered when I grew up and went back to the house where I grew up (I lived in this tiny little dump?). It was more a state of mind. My mom stayed at home and cared for my sister and I until I reached high school, and every meal was created from scratch. Less caring moms popped open a can and oozed out Ravioli, where my mom mixed the noodle ingrediants, hand rolled the dough, created the filling and did it all.

I've discovered that Hamburger Helper isn't entirely nasty, and when I'm feeling particularly lazy and don't want to cook, it's quick and filling (after a few rolaids)

Shake -n- Bake is the thing of Gods though. I'm a complete failure when it comes to cooking anything breaded. My concoctions end up this slimey floury goo that leaves itself adhered to one side of the pan. Then, I found Shake-n-Bake and my life was turned around. I bread everything now, because I can.

What the fuck is wrong with the world lately?
Some moron gets pissed off that someone MAY have stolen his precious X-box and designer sneakers or something, and gets three teenagers to go over to some house (where he suspects the culprit is), breaks in, and they proceed to beat 6 people, and one dog to death with aluminum baseball bats... FOR AN X-BOX!!!!!!!

CNN.com - Sheriff: 4 charged in Florida killings over Xbox - Aug 8, 2004

Since this "caring" 27 year old moron has a history of criminal activity, it was probably an X-box he stole from someone else.
I'm just glad he did it in Florida, a state that gladly executes just about anyone, and in a timely manner. I hope someone gets to him first in prison and beats his head in with a ball bat, because that's what he certainly deserves (then steals his prison shoes).

Monday, August 02, 2004

He's BAAAAACK!

This morning we took the trash out, and there, in the recycle bin... is the baby possum.
I have no idea why he finds our trash bin so comfy. There is some stinky rag in there from his last visit, possibly his security blankie or something, and that's what brought him back. We have yet to figure out how he crawls in there, or if he's capable of crawling out on his own. For all we know he's been sleeping there every night and we just haven't noticed him, or possibly, he slept in this morning and got caught.

He is kinda cute, but I can't have possums moving into my recycle bin. What if he tells other possums what fantastic digs he's found and we have a whole possum invasion. Next thing you know he'll be wanting to build an addition to the recycling bin, perhaps dig a pool, want us to fix up the place for him. We just can't have squatter possums demanding things from us.

I'm torn with carrying his little butt down the road to the forest and letting him go there. What if mamma possum actually put him there. She comes home from a hard day of shopping and junior isn't in his recycle bin. Will we have an irate mamma possum coming after us? Hoardes of search possums combing the yard? Possum helicopters hovering overhead?

I read on a Web site that they are transient and don't stay in one place too long, but what if this recycle bin thing is just a dream home come true and he decides to stay here? I guess I'm going to have to do something about this. Keep the recycle bins turned upside down, but I imagine that he may move in under the tarp that covers the motorcycle (that hasn't worked in 17 years, why we keep it is beyond me).

Why us?

Saturday, July 31, 2004

What's Mine is MINE!

Recently I read a news story about a woman whose domain name is being hijacked.

Some of you may have heard of a book called "Katie.com" about a little girl whose parents parked her in front of a computer instead of spending time with her and teaching her about the real life. She apparently was drawn in by the lies of someone on the Internet (doi), and agreed to meet this person in real life, where she was molested. Gee, how many times does this have to happen before parents realize that its their responsibility to keep track of their kids and not let them go off on their own before they have a brain? By the way, I'm the spitting image of Nicole Kidman, and rich... uh huh.

Penguin books published her story, and since the victim's name is Katie, they called the book Katie.com. They were going to call it "girl.com", but apparently girl.com is a porn site, which defeats the entire message of the book. So, they called it Katie.com... except that Katie.com actually belongs to a person named Katie... not the girl who was abused, but a woman that was given the domain as a gift from her husband in 1996 to share pictures of her family and blog. The abused girl has her own domain called Katiet.com, but apparently that doesn't trip off the tongue and isn't "marketable".

Since the publishing of katie.com, zillions of abused people, sickos, whack jobs, and morons have been posting to katie.com about their stories, asking questions, looking for help, much to the non-amusement of poor Katie... who leads a normal life and just wants to share pictures of her family. She asked Penguin to stop using her domain name, and sanely asked them to rename the book katiet.com so people would be directed to the proper site where they could vent their spleens about their abuse, or post crack pot crap as they wished. Penguin (being a big mondo corporation who claims to be the leading publisher of children's books) sent their lawyers after poor Katie and asked her to donate her domain to them. Um.. what?

Once the initial hoopla over the book ended, the e-mail flood slowed, and Katie thought she could get her Web site back... until Al Roker latched onto the Katie story, now it's begun again.

First of all, why should this woman "donate" her domain to a big named publisher who should have checked to make sure they weren't infringing on her domain in the first place. They checked out girl.com and found it inapropriate, so one has to think that they found katie.com to be easy pickings. Katie isn't a horrible person for not forking over what is rightly hers to the publishers, she's not "anti-child" or "pro child abuse" because she wants to hold onto her domain. It's Penguin's evil plan to get what they want by pressuring an innocent person to hand over something they want.

The abused Katie claims that it was all Penguin's doing and she had no choice in the matter. To her I have to say "didn't you learn your lesson the first time you were manipulated and used?" I certainly don't think you are qualified to write a book telling kids how to keep from being manipulated and used when you continue to be so yourself. Whether its a child molestor, or a big company, you are a pawn and haven't learned your lesson apparently.

To Penguin, I have to say: you really suck! You publish children's books, so what are you teaching children by what you are doing? Hey, if you want something, harrass and steal it!

To Katie, the real owner of katie.com I say: keep up the good fight and don't let go! I tried to think of some way for her to get back. Publish porn on it... funny, but nah. Perhaps throw "Hamster dance" on there to annoy everyone? Stick a HUGE link on there to the real katiet.com site and tell people to harrass her instead?

Inevitably, Katie should be able to do anything she wants to her website, and she shouldn't have to fear opening her e-mail every day because some sicko, whacko, or just plain idiot can't see that this isn't the site of katiet and her tale of woe.

Leave Katie.com alone! Spread the word of this to your friends and tell Penguin books to shove it and rename the stupid book. Tell Katiet to grow some nads and stop getting used and manipulated, and support katie who is just an average person like you and I, and some day we may be dealing with the same crap if we let Penguin win.

That Morning Jolt

Some people wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. My mornings usually consist of pulling a dead thing out of the mouth of one of my dogs.

This morning (like many mornings) an unfortunate decision was made by a woodland creature to come into my heavily guarded, overly fenced in yard. I don't know how they get in, or why they get in. I would think that after so many have died in the fortress, they would have erected some type of sign, or smell that said "you will die if you go in here". This time it was a fledgling bird, too young to realize its mistake until it was too late.

As always, the three of them (Nova is 15 and retired from killing), gathered like the hungry, slathering pack they become when something potentially tasty and fun enters the yard. I've stopped trying to save these creatures, it's useless. At one point (before I knew better) I would run behind the dogs as they chased the terrified creature, trying to stop the carnage before it happened. They are all much quicker, and more determined than I, so now I merely stand in one spot (trying not to get run over in the zeal of the chase), and wait for the inevitable, kinda rooting for the hunted to find an escape route, knowing what will eventually happen. Squirrels know the sound of the door opening and run for the trees, birds float away quickly as the dogs come running out. Fledgling bird season brings a lot of carnage though, and it's that time of the year.

Loki lunges into the barrier that is piled against the gate to keep them contained and then quickly runs away gleefully while the others investigate the barrier area. They don't realize that he's found the prey, and now he's trying to swallow it before I get to him.

I have them somewhat trained to spit out stuff they shouldn't have. "Trade up" means they get something even tastier than what they have, but what could be more tastier than a dead thing? The answer to that question is goldfish crackers, but as usual, not only do I not have enough time to grab the bag of goldfish crackers kept by the back door for this reason, nor put on the rubber gloves I bought to keep my flesh from touching the still warm, sometimes still quivering dead, or mortally wounded thing they've caught.

I'm glad it's Loki that has the bird, as Sam runs and chews. Meeshka usually spits out, but she spits out before I'm standing there, and then Sam steals it and runs and chews. Loki is a good boy, he stands and chews, and allows me to grab him by the scruff, pry his jaws open (with promises of a trade up) and pull the dead baby bird out of his mouth by the leg... ick. I deposit it over the fence, in the same spot that all dead or dying things go. I imagine the pile of bones to be growing, or that cats are lining up there waiting for the next dead treat to be tossed over.

I'm sure the neighbors love our attempts at retrieving the dead things. One morning at 5 a.m., successful in bagging a squirrel, we chased Sam around the yard screaming "DROP IT, TRADE UP", as he tried to swallow the adult squirrel whole, the other dogs chasing him like a ghoulish version of keep away.

One afternoon, a young bunny ventured into the yard through a tiny little opening in the fence. The chase was on, and I just stood out of the way, awed by the pack as they plotted, planned, and schemed how to get the running toy. It was actually quite beautiful to watch them synchronizing the chase, who would do what, all in the 10 seconds it lasted. As the group converged into the corner, I was sure I'd hear the death scream, and have to start the task of retrieving it, but amazingly enough the bunny shot out of the pile of dogs and squeezed through the crack in the fence to safety. I was amazed, the dogs were pissed.

As with all prey, they return to the original scene of the crime, expecting to find more birds, as if the barrier were a bird dispenser. After a few times out, they'll forget about the goody they found there, and continue stalking other creatures that happen to venture into the yard.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Possum Recycling

As hubby and I were leaving the house to go back to work, I noticed a large amount of flies were buzzing around my recycling bin. Since I only put cardboard in there, I looked in to see what they were so interested in.

Inside my recycling bin was a young possum. My first thought was:
"Who the fuck put a dead possum in my recycling bin?"

Then I noticed that not only was it breathing, but flicking an ear to ward off the flies. So my second thought was:
"Who the fuck put a half-dead possum in my recycling bin?"

So I told hubby to go dump it somewhere where it could die in nature. He picks up the bin and carries it to the edge of our front yard and dumps the critter out. I was actually thinking of a much farther place, and more nature-like than the street, but whatever. That's when we discover that it wasn't half dead, it was just taking a little nap in our recycle bin and boy was it pissed to have been disturbed.

It bared its 50 teeth (I looked that up), and stood all stiff and evil looking, until a car drove by, then it decided to scamper off (well, scamper isn't a good word, more like mosey). It mosied right back toward our front porch actually.

After a quick discussion about what to do with it, we decided it was just easier to let it be and hope it didn't decide that our back yard was a good place to nap... the dogs would make sure it took a good LOOONG forever nap.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Wait and See

I haven't posted in a while. About three weeks ago, we thought for sure that our 15 year old husky Nova was about to die. Prior to that time, he had been healthy, good appetite, but showing some signs of doggie alzheimers, so we took him to the vet for some tests to make sure everything was ok, and to put him on a brain food diet.

The bloodwork came back normal, but his urine was a bit diluted. Our vet suggested an x-ray, which revealed that he had gallbladder stones, a rarety in dogs. She wanted to put him on some gallbladder medication, but recommended an ultrasound to rule out a blockage first. The ultrasound revealed that he was undergoing liver failure. Wait a minute... we came in for doggie alzheimers food and now he's got gallbladder stones and liver failure? This is just more proof that doctors and hospitals make people sick.

So... he got some medication, one of which we had to fill at a regular drugstore, and the woman behind the counter wouldn't believe that it was for our child "Nova" and we took him to a vet because it's cheaper than an HMO. So, that wasn't covered under our co-pay (80 bucks for 30 little pills). Gave him all the pills that first night and he was yacking up the pills and his dinner within an hour's time. Then he refused to eat after that (don't really blame him, he probably thought we were out to poison him).

After a variety of dog foods, then homecooked people foods, we finally got him to eat and he was fine for a week. Sunday came and it was like he had a stroke. Almost no function in his back legs, whining, pacing, listless, and frankly we thought for sure that if he didn't die in his sleep, we'd have to help him along and give him some peace. We only wanted to spend some more time with him before taking him in, so we took some time from work... and the next day he was almost back to his old self, except that he refused to eat. How embarrassing to go crying to your boss that your dog was on its last legs and it was just a matter of time, only to see him bounding down the stairs first thing in the morning.

Since we had the time off, and since we were convinced that he would relapse and go when we weren't there, we stayed home and tried every concoction known to man to get him to eat.

A holistic dog book had the fantastic idea (for sadists) to boil liver, puree it in a blender and force feed him with a turkey baster. As we gagged and heaved while making this noxious mixture, wearing rubber gloves and sterilizing everything the liver touched, we force fed the poor guy this nasty liver "soup". The other dogs (Meeshka, Sam, and Loki) by this time were thoroughly peeved that the old guy was getting all these "tasty" foods, AND going for a ride in the truck (we decided to treat him with trips to Petsmart and Starbucks), that they decided to hold a revolt, so we started feeding them bits of the things that Nova wouldn't eat.

After a few days of the liver "soup", Nova decided that it was in his best interest to eat something. A friend had sent us a recipe for "satin balls", which is mainly raw hamburger, molasses, total cereal, oatmeal and eggs, which we dutifully made and lumped into bite-sized balls, which he ate (thankfully, because now everything we touched smelled like liver).

Our life was on hold for about two weeks, watching him to make sure he was breathing, holding celebrations outside when he took a normal poop (the new neighbors luckily have three dogs of their own and don't look at us too strangely), and feeding him. He's now gotten extremely picky about what he'll eat and when. He'll eat chicken if it's on our plate and we hand it to him, but he won't eat it if we cut it up and put it in a bowl. He'll eat the satin balls if we hold it in our hands, not out of a bowl. He's playing us like a fiddle at this point.

He's not out of the woods at this point. He goes in for follow-up bloodwork to see if the liver meds are helping, because at the last blood test his liver levels are astronomically high. If they're lower, we have to put him on the expensive gallbladder pills too.

Just tonight I was able to spend some time outside with the other dogs, watching them chase and maul each other. They only play if there's an audience. We're starting to get some routine back in our lives, and feel a little better about going to work in the morning and not worrying about what we'll find when we get home.

Some people think we're nuts, "they're only dogs", they say. But to us they're our kids, because we don't have any, don't want any, and frankly don't like them. We don't dress them up and pretend they're kids, they are our dogs, but we've learned more from them than any human, and would rather spend time with them than most people in the world. After dealing with petty people, demanding people, ignorant people, selfish people, and just plain assholes, it's refreshing to come home and get such happiness and love out of one ear scratch. They don't ridicule our clothes, tell us we're fat and need to exercise, want something impossible in 5 minutes (unless it's their dinner), and cuddle up next to you and look at you with such trust and love for so little in return.

I wear my husky fur to work with pride, knowing that they'll be there for me when I come home and not want anything more than just to be with me.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Reality of Technology

Have you ever watched something on tv or in a movie that was futuristic and thought: "gee, that's pretty cool, I wish we had that now"?

When faced with it in reality, perhaps it wasn't such a good idea.

Case in point, I had to go deposit a check. Yes, in today's "direct deposit" society, I had a check, I need to actually drive to a bank and deposit a slip of paper. Blame it on technology for not getting its records updated quick enough when getting a new job (in this case, the hubby's new employer).

There was a new branch of my bank that recently opened, and since it was close to a Starbucks (in contractor lingo, that would be known as "Starbuckability"), I decided to go there. After finding it on a very inconvenient split highway where you have to turn right, find a light and turn around in order to get back to the Starbucks, I pulled in and thought it looked pretty spartan. A brick block building, hardly any windows.

I walk in, expecting to hear the chatter of people, the hustle and bustle of everyday banking, and was taken aback by the fact that it was stone silent, had no chairs, no usual bank-like things. A receptionist was sitting off to the side, and she ignored me. In front of me was the typical counter with all the bank slips needed, but there were no tellers.

I stood there for a moment, wondering if I walked into the wrong building, and then it dawned on me. In the back, there were about 7 cubby spaces. Each cubby space had a phone, a little tv monitor and a pneumatic tube like you find in drive through banks.

As I filled out the deposit slip, I watched as a man wandered to a cubby, stuffed his papers in a tube, waited for a moment, then the "informational scroll" on the little tv screen was replaced by a floating, smiling head that greeted him.

Holy crap! This was straight out of some sci-fi movie or something. Not only are we becoming a xenophobic society thanks to home banking and e-bay, but now when we actually go to a bank, we don't even get to interact with a human, we're interacting with a tv screen.

I meandered to a cubby, not really sure where to go, and using the bathroom stall rule, I chose a cubby one cubby away from the guy already there, stuffed my check and deposit slip into the tube, and sure enough, a smiling young man popped up before I could read just how many quills the average porcupine has.

"How are you?" He asked. I wanted to say "feeling really oogie talking to a screen", but I gave him the usual, automatic "fine". Then I watched the top of his head as he apparently retrieved my papers, did whatever it is they do with them, and then stuffed the receipt back in the tube. "Thank you, have a nice day" he chirped, then disappeared. Poof, gone.

My tube returned promptly with my receipt. I felt somewhat like those people you see in the movies that are talking to prisoners. Apparently the little phone is for discrete conversations, or for the hard of hearing or something. There's just something lacking about not being close to a human. You lose all of your power. No more leaning in to let them know that you aren't happy about standing in line for hours, or that they deposited your check in the wrong account and bounced all of your bill payments. They are safe and sound somewhere (perhaps the nuclear blast-proof basement) and happy because they know you can't be intimidating to them. They don't have to wonder if I'm a machine gun toting loon out to rob them... they aren't there.

With my deposit slip in hand, I turned to the first guy and thought outloud "I bet they aren't wearing any pants". I was also tempted to bring a marker and draw a mustache on the screen or something.

I left, feeling somewhat cheated and confused. The receptionist was still oblivious to the world, no "have a nice day" from a real person.

I still feel strange about the whole thing, but at least I'm not going to catch SARS from a teller.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Taxes Suck

I'm not going into that whole "taxes are voluntary" thing... voluntary my ass!
I just hate doing them.
For three years we had a CPA do them. Owning a business, doing the personal stuff, and the complicated life we lead really makes doing them suck, so what a relief to find an honest to god CPA that would do them (for an outrageous fee).

In the past we'd do them ourselves. Our anniversary is on tax day (how sweet), so invariably we'd be in front of the computer, screaming and cursing at each other. We would stop for a moment to say "happy anniversary, I love you" then proceed with the cursing and screaming.

Every year we did our taxes, we'd have a catastrophic equipment problem.

One year our monitor just up and died. Poof, dead. That was before we hoarded all of our computer equipment, so we didn't have a spare laying around. Out at O'Dark gawd-awful to find a store that was not only open, but had a stupid monitor.

Another year our printer died. Once again, before the hoarding phase of our lives (now we have a zillion monitors and printers and everything else laying around), so out we went (once again) at O'dark gawd-awful to find a store that was open and had a printer.

Things always seemed to die at about the time that all stores close, the day BEFORE taxes were due. Ok, so we usually procrastinated, but still it got ridiculous.

What a relief it was to find a CPA. he did our taxes for three years. Glorious bliss. We pile up the paperwork and plop it on his desk and amazingly enough, everything was done by the due date. No stress, no screaming, no nothing, and we would go out to dinner on our anniversary.

Last year, our CPA apparently had a nervous breakdown that he neglected to tell us about when we dropped off our paperwork. As April 15th closed in on us, no amount of e-mailing, irate phone calls, frantic phone calls, or screaming would get him to respond to us. He came up with some lame "I got very sick" excuse when he finally called us. He promised to meet us at his office, but when we got there... no CPA. We called and he told us he left them with the receptionist. Nice... whatever.

We mailed them on the way home (since it was the due date), but noticed that he didn't do the paperwork for the MD personal property tax thing. Another irate call later and he said he filed for an extension and would do it when he got back from a business trip.

Three months later we get a nastygram from the State of MD asking where our personal property tax paperwork was. Excuse me?

Then there was the nastygram from the IRS that said we didn't file our special K-1 forms. EXCUSE ME????

600 phone calls later (that went from "hey, it's us... we seem to have a problem, call us" to "you fucking rat bastard, you better call or we'll get our lawyer to ream you a new..."

Never returned our calls, e-mails, etc. So I had to take care of it.

So this year I'm doing it on Turbo Tax. What a thrill. If I start having problems I'm taking it to H&R Block or someplace.

Hey Jerry, if you're out there, I hope your rotting in Hell!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Obesity: The New Smoking

I heard on the news the other day that obesity was quickly overtaking smoking as the #1 killer.

Good!

I'm a smoker, have been for a zillion years. I've smoked when I could smoke in buildings, in my office, in public places, and I've slowly been forced out, like a leper, to smoke in the cold, rain, snow, spat upon by ritious non-smokers who walk to their cars and spew noxious chemicals in the air.

Now that obesity is taking over as that nasty killer of people, I have to wonder... could these obese people be those poor ex-smokers who were shamed and guilted to quit and must now shove 14 cheeseburgers down their throat to get over the jones for a smoke?

Now that obesity is taking over as the scourge of health, will we see people being forced outside to eat? After all, the aroma of that cheeseburger could cause your co-workers to crave, thus spinning them horribly out of control on their way to the killer obesity. Will there be designated "eating" areas? Will cooking only be allowed in certain areas? Will lawsuits pop up because Burger King's "food emmisions" caused hundreds of people to get coronary disease?

What will the government do to save us from this horrible "disease". We've already been inundated by the "Atkins" commercials. It use to be low fat, low sugar and now it's low carb. Next it'll be "low everything" until we eat and eat and eat and still die of starvation. It's the end of "super-sizing" and "biggie size" and all those obnoxious terms for gourge yourself to death. I'm happy those are going. If I had wanted a barrel of fries I would have asked for it.

"Tofu barn, would you like to try our mini-size portion tofu burger with 0 calories, 0 fat, 0 carbs, and 0 taste?"

The next time someone at work cooks something smelly in the microwave, I'm going to accuse them of killing me with second hand aroma.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Change Is Good... Right?

Being xenophobic (hates change, fears strangers), we're going through some stressful times right now. Hubby (after 7 years) has been offered a position at another company. This is a good thing since the job will be 7 miles from the house, as opposed to 65 miles from the house. After 10 years of commuting this far (he was at another far away company before this job), he really has no concept of what having a life is all about except that it includes sitting in DC metro traffic rush hour traffic for 3 hours a day or more.

The problem is that they aren't going to buy out his college commitment with the other company (which sucks), they are going to give him more money, and along with the 3 grand worth of gas he won't have to buy, that means even more money a year for us to blow on expensive computer gadgets that we don't use and don't need. Or we could get more huskies, but that's another post.

It also means that we will be able to "commute" together, since he'll eventually start working on the exact same street that I work on. Spending more time together, having a real life and possibly (heaven forbid) being able to take a vacation together.

Same benefits (generally), not the astounding amount of money he asked for, but more than what he was getting. Sounds too good to be true, which is what is totally freaking me out.

Using some assets, we can swing paying off the college thing, still have some money in savings in case his first check gets held (as some companies do), and we'll be saving a buttload by not having the truck in for oil changes every month, not paying a mint for high taxed gas, and having a life. But what if the job sucks, or what if the company sucks, or what if, what if, AAAAAHHHH!

I have no idea why I'm totally freaking about this. We both use to commute to Virginia to work. We made the mistake of moving to Maryland, finding and buying a house, then finding jobs. Unfortunately the house was in Maryland, the jobs were in Virginia. Should have planned that one out a tad bit better I think now.

For 4 years we commuted together, and had no life. Working 9 to 5 with an hour and a half commute means getting up at the butt crack of dawn and getting home late every night. You tend not to want to drive anywhere during the weekends (because your butt takes the shape of the car seat during the week, and the last thing you want to do is drive anywhere), and you didn't want to leave the house because you never spend any time there except to eat and sleep.

One day, while hubby was traveling on business, I drove to work in particularly crappy traffic. As I crossed into DC, I thought: "did I turn the oven off?" This meant that I spent an hour in traffic, had to turn around and spend another hour driving home (only to find that I did turn the oven off) and another hour driving BACK to the office (late)... or else trust that the oven was off and then feel really stupid when I got home from work (late) to find that our house was a pile of ash. I couldn't stand it anymore and found a job much closer to home.

Amazingly enough, I had no clue how much time I had wasted in traffic those 4 years. I could actually go to the grocery store after work since it was still open. I could stop at the mall on the way home because it was still open. I could do all the laundry and housework after work and not use my weekends to do the huge pile of laundry and vacuum 5 layers of husky hair from the carpet that had accumulated over the week.

I had TIME and it was amazing the things I could do with it.

I did feel guilty that hubby was still making the daily trek to Virginia every day, this time alone. I encouraged him to try to find gainful employment closer, but he loved his job, liked the people he worked with, etc. Besides, he hates change worse than I do. So it was a complete shock when he casually announced that he had submitted his resume to this company.

Now the offer is here. Not the greatest, not the best, but it's a good offer. It means so much more freedom and time for him, and it's what I've been trying to get him to do for years and years... and I'm freaking out.

Change is good? The unknown is good?

Oh hell, if it doesn't work out, we'll just declare bankruptcy and move back to Goshen, IN. I have an idea to start a coffee shop and doggie play area. I want to call it "Starbarks", but we'll probably get sued.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Technology Sucks Part 2: The attack of the used fax cartridge


So about 2 weeks ago our fax machine started complaining that its cartridge was almost empty, so we shlepped over to Office Depot and bought one, shoved it in the fax machine.
The day of the cell phone fiasco, I came home for puppy duty and the fax machine was beeping and saying that the cartridge was empty. How could it be empty, I just put a new one in there?

Checked it, and sure enough it was empty. Now either we had run through a bazillion faxes in a week, which is possible with all the spam faxes we've been getting lately, or there was a problem with the cartridge. I ripped it out and looked at it. There were faxes from a large company to a large government agency on this thing. The cartridge is actually just rolled up carbon paper, so I could read everything that had been faxed. Gee, wonder if anyone knows this is out floating around.

Doesn't matter though, because my fax machine won't stop beeping until you put a stupid cartridge in, my nerves are frayed enough from dealing with the cell phone people, and now I have to run out to Office Depot and yell at them.

Off to Office Depot I go, all pissed off because I'm wasting my lunch hour, and plop the cartridge on the counter. I have to admit that they were very nice and apologetic about the whole thing, although they did look at me like I was trying to rip them off for a $35.00 cartridge. I assured them that I wasn't with this big company, or the government agency, and frankly I would think that either of them would be a little disturbed to have their business floating around where everyone can read it, and they gave me a new cartridge.

After I got home from work I was able to shut up the insane beeping of the fax machine, which promptly burped out a fax telling me that railroad ties were a great investment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Technology sucks, Part 1

So, the husband and I went out last weekend and bought new cell phones. Actually, he wanted the new Motorola V400, and I was just going to let him get it, but the salesguy convinced me that with the "new technology" out, my phone was doomed to become a paperweight, so why not blow $500 on cell phones, and gizmos and pouches and holders. Besides, the phone has a camera, and what idiot nowadays has a phone without a camera.

So we get them, and proudly drag them home, clueless how to do anything with them other than dial a phone number. We play with them for a day or two before we realize (on a sunday), that hey... nothing works. No voicemail, no internet access, no text messaging, nothing.

This has happened to us before with this cell carrier (whose name I won't divulge). Every time we've changed our plan or got new phones, they mess up our account and we lose something (like the ability to dial the damn phone), and have to make several calls to clear up the problem. While they're clearing up the problem, typically they try to stick us on the latest plan, which means we lose all of our freebies from our previous plan.

Of course the cell company customer service department doesn't work on weekends, so I have to wait until Monday morning to call. Bright and early, I'm on the phone for a 10 minute run through of their voicemail system (since none of the options seem remotely what I need, nor do they offer up a human sacrifice to my wrath). Then a 15 minute wait once I do find the "summon the human sacrifice" button, listening to really bad music and cell phone commercials (one of which is touting all the cool things you can do with a Motorola V400... WHICH I HAVE AND IS USELESS!). So after 25 minutes on "hold" do they actually wonder why people are in a foul mood?

My first call (yes, it took more than one call, is this a surprise to anyone), netted a very perky (way too perky for 8am) woman, who looked at our account and said "oh", in that "something pooped on my shoe" type way. After 15 minutes of clicking noises (which I'm convinced is a recording, she's sitting there reading a magazine), she announced that the problem must be escalated to the tech support branch. I hate being "escalated" because that means you'll never hear back from anyone ever again, and it still won't work.

She informed me that she would call and leave a voicemail on my cell phone when it was fixed. I was smarter than she (having drank 2 cups of coffee before the call) and told her that if my voicemail was broke and not set up, how would I even begin to know that I had a message? She took my work number instead.

5 hours later (what a shock), and our phones still didn't work, and perky girl hadn't called.

Call #2, I just press "0" this time and bypass all the crap, and have a 2 minute wait for a human that actually took 5. This time, luckily, the woman that answered gave me the poop on the shoe "oh" when she looked at our account, but actually said that she would try to fix it... and she did. 45 minutes later, she did manage to give us back all the stuff we had paid for, and explained that whoever put in the new service told it to start on the 27th (we bought the phones on the 21st), and cancel the old service immediately, which means we had nothing til the 27th. I don't know what she did, but it worked, we have all of our stuff and there was dancing in the streets... except for:

Technology sucks Part 2: the attack of the used fax cartridge
Technology sucks Part 3: HP and their Welchia virus bad memory expensive computer (and Steve)
Technology sucks Part 4: IR Palm keyboard goes whacky

Monday was not a good day.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I just started this, so I really have nothing to say at this time.