Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fighting Hibernation

Now I get it. There are only few options for dealing with a nuclear-type ("nucular") winter.

One, take up snow sports as if your life depended on it, which it sort-of does, getting you up & out of the house nice & early to slip and skid your car up to a mountain so you can slip and skid down the mountain all day, getting home too tired to care about not seeing the sun for weeks.

Two, pack a big bag and get on a plane and fly anywhere the sun is shining and it doesn't get below 60 degrees. Stay there until the temperature here stabilizes somewhere above 50 degrees and it's not raining every day.

Third, hibernate. Eat your body weight in starch along with four or five large steaks every day for a few months, then go to bed. Stay there.

Ignore all the usual reasons you used to get out of bed (except your bladder). Like, the time. Who cares what time it is? It's WINTER is what time it is, which means it's time to stay in bed until it's spring. Cats hungry? Feed them then go back to bed. They'll join you later and make hibernation that much more cozy. Hungry? Grab a baked potato/muffin/doughnut/pizza/beef stew on your way back from the bathroom and eat that in bed.

We've tried the first option and enjoyed it, but then the rain came back and made the roads nasty with ice. Call me a spoilsport, but I don't enjoy sliding all over the road on the way to the mountain. And when I get there, I want to clearly see the run below me.

I'd love to choose option two, but we're not quite there yet. I have a special type of trust fund - it's the We Trust You To Make Your Own Money fund. So, that makes option two a non-option for now.

We're gradually choosing option three. We're waking up later and later, and even after waking up we linger in bed for quite a while. It's warm. And so dreamy comfortable. We can listen to the radio or watch TV. Hang out with the cats. There's no room service, but so far that hasn't been a deterrent.

The more we sleep, the faster time passes, which means spring will be here in just a few cat naps.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

It still doesn't *feel* like Christmas, but it helped to call the whole family and talk to parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.

At one point the MagicJack crapped out - the phone just stopped working, demanding a break from the nonstop jawing.

But before that happened, I got a fantastic present from one of my nieces - one of many gifted children in the clan who told me English & Creative Writing is her favorite class - she's a junior in high school. That wasn't the present. Wait for it...

She's babysitting some kids in the neighborhood now and said one night they wanted her to tell them a story. She couldn't remember any stories so she started making them up. She told them a number of elaborate, lengthy stories that they loved, yet still they wanted more.

Tired of coming up with new stories, she instead told them the story of Beverly Hills Cop. I couldn't stop laughing.

Merry Christmas Bloggers!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet Chocolate Christmas

It's almost Christmas. How the frick did that happen? Are you sure? Now? It's happening now? This week? Serious? But it was just August! Where's August? Who took my summer?

I keep thinking I should make some cards. Bake some biscotti. Tomorrow. Next week. There's time. Got lotsa time. NOPE. Time's UP!

No cards, no cookies. I'll get to it. Maybe by April. Sure.

Somehow I managed to get a small tree and set that up, but had I not walked by it at the store when I was there for something else, I doubt that would have happened.

Even without the madness of shopping for gifts it all comes up too fast and I can't seem to make the time to get it done. It's like trying to mail something.

If I have to find a box, put the thing in the box, put some padding in the box, tape it up, put the address info on it, THEN leave the house and take it to the post office, OMIGOD it's just too much and how does anyone ever mail anything it's sooooooo haaaaaaaaard!


Why can't I pay attention to the calendar and be more on top of these things? I can take on all kinds of work, but can't keep up with what should be the fun stuff.

I'll probably never be on top of all the fun stuff, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking of my friends and family and wishing them all sorts of holiday cheer.

I am, and I do. Merry Festivus!

p.s. Happy Birthday Ms. Crafty! Wish I could take you to Town Hall for a "Dohthee Pahkah."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BC Living - My New Show

Just found a show on TV, Vancouver Living - an entertainment news show full of helpful information about enjoying the Vancouver lifestyle.

I didn't watch the show but saw the teaser for an upcoming segment, "Learn How to Get a Good Workout Without Increasing Your Carbon Footprint."

They showed a lady on cross-country rollerskis out in the rain on a wet, soggy path, and that just looked so sad. It made me think of having my own show full of helpful hints about enjoying the British Columbia lifestyle.
  • Learn How to Enjoy Being Damp
  • Learn How to Embrace Bone-chilling cold
  • Learn How to Eat Your Body Weight in Potatoes
  • Learn How to Put on Your Winter Weight in Three Days
  • Learn How to Wear Four Sets of Clothes at Once
  • Learn How to Train Your Cats to Sleep On You
  • Learn How to Adopt Enough Cats to Make a Living Cat Blanket
  • Learn How to Heat Your Feet Using Microwaveable Socks
  • Learn How to Find Ways to Not Leave the House Until Spring
  • Learn How to Make Every Meal a Soup Smorgasbord
  • Learn How to Wear an Electric Blanket - Everywhere
  • Learn How to Withstand 300-degree Showers
  • Learn How to Turn a Down Blanket Into a Sassy Dress
  • Learn How to Properly Chop Furniture for the Fireplace
  • Learn How to Hang Mirrors Around the House to Maximize Those 15 Minutes of Sunlight On Days When it Might Be Sunny
I'm sure I'll think of other important segment ideas. If you're a producer at a TV station nearby, give me a call. I know there's an enthusiastic audience for my show.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Gussied Up

How a woman from the Bay Area dresses for a party in BC:
  • Take scalding hot shower - stay in there as long as possible
  • Eat scalding hot bowl of soup
  • Put on thick black tights
  • Put on thick camisole
  • Put on Under Armor running shorts over tights
  • Put on thick fleecy socks over tights
  • Put on long-sleeved blouse
  • Put on knee-length skirt
  • Put on knee-high boots
  • Put fleece scarf around neck
  • Put on camel hair overcoat
  • Put on fleece gloves
With the Under Armor shorts over the tights, I looked like a cyclist getting ready for a winter ride. They really helped add a nice layer of insulation but after being at the party for a while, I was almost too warm. Regardless, I'm calling it a success. I was all dressed up but didn't freeze my buttons off.

I'm gonna need more boots.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Going OFF, Eh

I admit it, I can be an asshole when shit goes sideways - when something that should be easy and straightforward becomes a clusterfuck, I come unhinged.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's DNA, maybe it's winter - I'll never know. Maybe I should "work through my issues" or maybe it's OK not to accept bullshit.

As I mentioned to Rooty, maybe we shouldn't quietly turn a blind eye to incompetence or laziness. Maybe that's part of the problem - maybe too many people don't speak up and then there you are, drowning in mediocrity and lameness.

What I *do* know is that if a bank is holding my money, money they SAID would be available in 14 days and when I call today to find out what's going on I'm told it will actually be 21 DAYS, I'm not going to politely say "OK! Thanks so much!"

Kurt, a telephone rep at Coast Capital Savings and Hoard, was nice enough to talk me off the ledge, at one point arguing with me that HE didn't mistakenly tell me the hold on U.S. checks would be 14 days.

Yes Kurt, I know YOU didn't tell me such and in the future, it would be better to SIMPLY APOLOGIZE for the shoddy communication and FIX THE PROBLEM.

I should have looked at their website before opening an account. Any financial institution that puts a guy in a gorilla suit on the home page, or now, has the online "rep" playing with balloons or peeling potatoes should not be trusted with anyone's money.

In my defense, I was told TWICE by the SAME TELLER that there would be a 14-day hold on any U.S. checks I deposit. Still ridiculous in this day & age, but I can live with 14 days. But 21 days? Are you fucking KIDDING me?

What the FUCK takes 21 days? Is it Canada, too lazy to give a shit, or the U.S., unwilling to let the money leave the states? I DON'T CARE what the problem is. It shouldn't take anyone 21 days to clear a measly business check.

Or is it just Coast Capital Savings and Lies? Maybe it's time to find a bank that knows how to clear a check in an acceptable time frame. They can't ALL be this lame.

At any rate, I got what I wanted. Kurt now understands his colleagues are MISINFORMED and when you jack with someone's money, they're not going to chat with you calmly about it. Mr. Kurt sent a message to the branch to release the hold first thing in the morning.

They couldn't do it today, you see, because the branch is closed on Mondays. Yup - that's right. CLOSED on MONDAY. Because god forbid you might have BUSINESS to take care of on a WEEK DAY and need access to your bank.

The only reason I opened this account was because David has an account there. But guess what? There are other banks and I'm betting one of them has a more attractive U.S. check policy.

I honestly do think it's a combination of age and the DNA. I don't have time to waste on bullshit and I've been gifted some crazy genes. When the bullshit comes in contact with the DNA, bad things happen. Kind of like The Hulk, without all the green and expanding and raggedy short pants.

Combine that with a fucked up hold on my money and I can't be expected to mind my manners.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

That Darn Border

Had a lovely day oot & aboot today, starting with a hearty breakfast at the IHOP down the street.

One thing I really enjoy about living here is the enthusiasm for little things. When we walked into the restaurant to be seated, the manager asked if we needed a table for two. We said Yes please and he quietly said, "Awesome" as he checked the floor layout to assign us a table.

The servers are always extra attentive and helpful, checking on us often to make sure everything is fine. Today when I asked if they still had the coffee cake pancakes, the server said they did. Then she came back and said they didn't. So they comped me a stack of buttermilk to go with my eggz.

When we paid the check we chatted up the Awesome Manager and I told him I was soory to have missed out on the coffee cake pancakes, but the buttermilk were very good.

He explained his frustration with That Darn Border they have to deal with, that they'll have a promotion going on - say, for coffee cake pancakes - but by the time they get the next shipment, the promotion will have ended weeks earlier.

He went on to tell us about a fabulous bone-in ham special they've got going but the ham comes from the States and is sitting in cold storage at the border. There's one line in the product description that wasn't written in French.

We're imagining the customs agents enjoying ham dinners every night until they work through that red tape.

On our way out of town to explore the northern environs, we stopped to get gas at Petro Canada. None of the gas pump handles here have "kick stands" - you have to stand there like a tool, freezing your ass off while the tank slowly fills.

The pumps *usually* shut off when the tank is full. I was standing there squeezing the damn handle thinking, this thing should be kicking off pretty soon when I heard a gusher below.

The fugging pump kept going full tilt, dumping about a gallon of gas all over the side of the car and the pavement, puddling under my boots and splashing my jeans. Awesome.

After our lightheaded drive to the small village of Belcarra, we hit a Hortons on the way back. Just to see if it would be any more palatable, I ordered a small coffee with sugar. Holy SHIT was it awful.

I thought it would come with sugar packets so I could dose it as desired. No, it comes out of a huge box where someone in a Hortons uniform presses the Coffee w/ Sugar button.

Every beverage they serve comes out of an automated box in the back. Every night a giant tanker truck pulls in, hooks up myriad hoses to the appropriate spigots and fills all the tanks.

It tastes like industrial solvent. It's so awful it's awesome.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lost in BC? I Can't Imagine Why

Here's something funny about here... If you're looking for a place on a particular street, you'd better get a map or ask for a cross street, because if you manage to find the street in question, chances are it's going to take you into a river or forest before you find your destination.

See, there's lots of creeks, rivers and parks here. If there's a street that starts on the east side of a park/river, where it dead ends at such, do they choose a different name for the different street on the other side of that park/river so as to avoid confusion?


You end up with the same street name that spans the same imaginary line through the map, regardless of how many times it's interrupted by natural (or man-made) obstacles.

I'm all for efficiency and simplicity, but seriously. Seriously? Doesn't it just seem lazy to reuse the same street name when it's clear across the river or in a NEIGHBORING TOWN?

Some examples:

That's Coquitlam River bisecting Patricia Ave.

Here we have Lincoln Ave. turning into Lincoln Dr. before you levitate your car over the nature area to rejoin Lincoln Ave. on the other side. Bitchen.

In North Vancouver, one can hovercraft from one Evergreen Pl to the other. Rad.

And my favorite so far - Dewdney Trunk Road - it goes through Coquitlam and ENDS where you see that street END in that town. At the END of the street, where it ENDS.

Then a few miles down the highway, after you cross the Pitt River and enter Pitt Meadows, Hey LOOK! There it is again! Yay! Dewdney, Dewdney, Dewdney, DEWDNEY!!!

If you scroll along the Google Map through Pitt River, you'll see that Dewdney Trunk Road continues through town a ways north of the Lougheed Highway. Scroll down when you spot the Meadow Gardens Golf Course.

What? What's that you see? Why YES - that's ANOTHER (the same?) Dewdney Goddamn Trunk Road, and it continues through the next town - Maple Ridge - and BEYOND - all the way to... wait for it... WAAAAIIIIT for it... DEWDNEY!

I'm guessing it keeps going all the way to Labrador.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Zero to 60

Been a while... sorry about that. Got busy - quick.

Last week we had a marvelous AmeriCanadian holiday with friends from SF. Had to clean up a bit, make the loft into a suitable guestroom, gather up the requisite groceries and run a kajillion errands.

Shopping on Robson, suspension bridge fun @ Capilano, Wii, tasty dinners out, Thanksgiving dinner at home and of course, Tim Hortons goodness. Good times - very good times.

Unfortunately, it rained like a bastard the whole time with dense clouds that obscured what would have been lovely snow-capped mountain vistas all around us. Instead, it looked like any damp, rainy area anywhere - say, New Jersey maybe, with a little less mob activity and quirky Pacific-Northwest architecture.

I wanted to post sooner - I've missed you - but my head's been full of syrup. I've been homesick, yet still happy to be here. I know we're where we're supposed to be, but my whole life is somewhere else.

Well, not my *whole* life - most of it's right here in this house. But family, dear friends and favorite haunts are all far away. It's difficult to start over when you're in your early fogey years.

I get by with email, a brand new magicJack and... Facebook. For reals. It really helps. I don't feel so disconnected from everything. Fun photos of friends (alliteration rules!) in festive situations, silly status messages... if only Scrabulous was still there... fugging greedy licensing bitches.

Driving back from Seattle last weekend where I dropped off our fabulous house guests, I felt torn. Part of me wanted to turn around and keep driving to California, but the pull was much stronger to keep going north, back to my little family.

I feel unsettled rather than settled. It feels like I'm dating two guys at once. Both have fun qualities and annoying flaws, but one is the guy I know a lot more about - the one who feels comfortable. The other guy *seems* nice & interesting and may be a refreshing change of pace, but his pants don't fit him quite right and he talks funny.

I don't think I can break up with America. Definitely not San Francisco. There's no leaving the Bay Area without regrets. The food, the wine, the Peet's, Target, North Beach Pizza, and the fantastically liberal, accepting, bubble... god I love that bubble. The dark blue, No-on-8, I'm Getting an Abortion at Lunch bubble. That's my home. And I miss it. I cannot wait to get back to it. There, I said it.

Right now, I miss it more than Thin Mints when the freezer stash runs out. I know I was ready for a change and I couldn't wait to get here, but now I think what I couldn't wait to get to was David. I need to be wherever he is, and I hope one day it'll be back in our Bay Area bubble.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Quiz - It's Fun!

Below are two options to see an eye doctor - choose the one that seems easiest for all involved:

a. A doctor close to your office - just a few blocks away.

b. Have your spouse drive you to the train station where you can take your usual train to work - the early train, the one that comes before the sun rises - so you can take a different train later on a different system to another part of town where you'll need to have your spouse come and pick you up after the appointment, which will require driving in rush hour traffic on streets clogged with construction equipment, with three lanes merging down to one and no easy way into/out of the area where the doctor is located

If you chose a., you're crazy and probably a total bore. If you chose b., you're my husband and isn't this fun!?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ready for Fun

Bring on the winter festival of fun! My good friends Ms. Crafty and G-money SnowSports will be visiting in January and there's already a week-long list of activities to look forward to.

Skiing, ice skating on an actual frozen lake, tubing, and snowshoeing. I don't even ski and I want to go right now.

Cabin fever? It would seem so.

And, I get to wear snow pants. Never had snow pants before. I saw them at Costco the other day and today I went back to get some.

If you've ever shopped through the clothes at Costco, you know it's not as much like shopping as it is like digging through a huge mess of a closet.

Whatever size you think you want will always be at the bottom of a heap of clothes, everything unfolded and chucked hither and yon.

I dug through the pile for so long, I thought management was going to come out and ask me to please be on my way. I even fended off several women who thought they might try to brave the pile - they saw my determination and realized I'd be there a while.

What I was digging for was a pair of black pants in the only size they did not have - small. Lots and lots of extra larges, larges and a few mediums and even one XTRA small.

The one small I found, alas, was purple. Well, more like "wine," or burgundy, or claret let's say. Not my favorite, but paired with the black turtleneck sweater I found on the table behind the pants, I'll look a little less like a cat burglar.

Now I just have to re-break in my very old ice skates and I'm good to go. Today I did the dishes in them and practiced spirals in the living room. I should probably look for a job pretty soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

El Retardo Strikes Again

He did it again – thankfully that doesn’t include biting me again.

The boy cats play/fight fairly frequently, sometimes very early in the morning, but something sounded very different this morning.

At 4:30 am I jumped out of bed knowing something was wrong – Gato Tardo and Neo had raced into the bedroom fighting, but I saw Neo still in the doorway while Ninja was somewhere else, hissing and meowling like he was dying. I thought a raccoon or another cat somehow found a way into the house.

On the other side of the bed I found him. He'd managed to get a claw on his back foot caught in his wooly “security blanket” and he panicked. He was hissing and fighting the blanket – and fighting with us as we tried to get it free.

While he was struggling Neo pounced on him - attacked him for real – almost like he wanted to put down the rebellion or take out a weak herd member. We got Neo out of the way and I scruffed Ninja as hard as I could but he still got free and almost chomped me.

He tore out of the bedroom and all through the house, finally stopping in the kitchen where he rolled over onto his back, as if to plead for help. I grabbed the kitchen shears and managed to cut the blanket near his foot and he ran off.

I followed him up to the loft where I talked to him to try to calm him down. As soon as he relaxed, the little shred of blanket that was left on his foot came right off.

It took over an hour to calm ME down and get back to sleep. We would like to trade him in for some Tupperware.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Birds Might be Stupid

Maybe not all birds, and maybe not most parrots, but my bird - he's either a little stupid or very smart, or maybe I'm the stupid one - that's usually the case.

Just about every morning I bundle up in my sexy microfleece robe and I'm instantly warm and ready to work. It's become my Wonder Boys robe, only because I seem to never take it off, especially since we moved here.

Henry loves this robe - I *guess* because if I'm wearing it, it means I'm not going anywhere too soon. He wants me here at his beck and squawk at all hours of the day.

And usually my hair is down and a complete mess. Because if I'm going to schlub around the house in a robe all day, why on earth would I bother combing my hair? I can't be a crazy cat lady if I get dressed and GROOM myself. I have an image to maintain.

This morning was trash day - very exciting - and that means not only gathering up the trash, but scooping out the cat boxes so it's ALL gone and out of the house. To do this, I take off my cherished robe and put my hair up.

This is when Henry goes from being a goofy, loving pet bird to an insane, homicidal maniac who will kill me if I get too close.

The sweet pet bird sits happily on his tree with slightly fluffed feathers, chattering to no one in particular, then the maniac comes out with tail feathers splayed to full width, head feathers in the tell-tale triangle of death, wings pulled out from his sides and eyes pinning wildly while he makes an eerie trilling noise - the last noise you'll hear before he rips your jugular out of your neck.

When this transformation happens, I speak to him in quiet, soothing tones, go about my business and maintain as much distance as I can. He's been known to jump off the cage at me. Nothing more fun than dodging a crazed bird in mid-flight with a 1000lbs/psi beak coming right for you.

He kept up his menacing display while I finished the cat boxes & got the trash ready to take outside. I came back inside and thought I'd try a little experiment. I went to the bathroom to wash up, then I put the robe back on and took my hair down.

I came out and walked over to his cage and he was still prancing around like an idiot, but he immediately started talking to me instead of making that shitty noise that means he wants to see me dead.

I talked to him and kept my distance, but his attitude had instantly changed. He was still excited, but he was happy. A few minutes later, he was asking "do you wanna come out?" which means any/all of these things: I want to come out of my cage, I want whatever you're eating, I want to sit on your shoulder and look out the window, I'm in my cage with the door open but I've forgotten it's open - can you please let me out, or Those cats are really stupid and you should let them out - permanently.

He seems to know that if I'm wearing shoes I'll be leaving the house, even if I'm in the robe, if the shoes are on, he knows it's time to get into his padded cell and take his nap.

He seems to know if I'm putting things into a bag and zipping zippers, I'll be leaving the house. He's started making the zipper noise, maybe thinking I'll grab him along with the other stuff and take him with me.

What's really insane about all this is he's still just a baby - he's only 10. I have another 40 or 50 years (or so - we'll see how the vitamins do) to observe this strange creature and try to understand what's going on in that walnut-sized head. He's got another 70 years or so to learn fluent English so his next caretaker might have an easier time figuring him out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's the Little Things

I learned the other day that a friend from one former employer is now working with another friend at another former employer (ye olde Electronic Arts), and though those two friends didn't know each other before, they do now and that makes me very happy.

They're both great people and will no doubt enjoy working together. Weird that both jobs where I met them feel like a lifetime ago, like a story I read years ago.

Part of that story from EA includes perhaps one of my proudest professional achievements. An achievement that still benefits the female EA employees to this day.

Once upon a time in the early days of the gaming industry, a little start up company named Electronic Arts wanted to build a new campus with fantastic amenities that included a sweet cafe/restaurant, a Club One-run gym, and actual locker rooms where one could shower after abusing the gym equipment (or the cafe).

Excited about our new home away from home, we went on a tour soon before it was finished to check out the beautiful lobbies with glass walls and gaming set ups for guests, and the huge gymnasium with a giant EA Sports logo painted on the boards.

After admiring the fine work in the gym, we proceeded into the locker room area. Still unfinished, it was large and really nice. Big, spacious lockers and plenty of room for many babes to clean up, change, dry the hair - everything.

And then my eye caught the large stainless steel box firmly installed on the wall near the toilets. With coin slots and pull levers, but it wasn't a million-dollar jackpot slot machine.

Oh no, this you see is where we were going to have to dig up a quarter to buy a tampon. A tampon that costs maybe a dime retail - I'm going to be charged for that when I just walked through a huge gym sporting an EAS logo? Really?

So, EA Sports gets not only their own, exclusive sports bar that the commoners are not allowed to use, they also get their own gymnasium and I have to pay for a fugging tampon? Again, really?

I was sooooooooo offended. Wouldn't you be? I was voicing my disbelief about this [shocking, I'm sure] and a friend of mine told me I should take it up with the VP of Facilities. Which is exactly what I did the moment I was back in front of my computer.

I sent him the very nicest, well-written email I knew how to write asking if sanitary products could be made available for free. I carefully outlined all the benefits that would be enjoyed by the employees as well as EA, making sure to tie it all into the main purpose of the new campus - provide everything we need so we never have to leave. Ever.

Maybe uncomfortable with the topic, he kicked it over to the CEO/Chairman who was refreshingly open to the idea and said Yes without any debate whatsoever. How wonderfully progressive is that?! A company run mostly by men, kicking down the free cotton ponies & pads.

Of course, I and all my girlie friends were ecstatic. Life went on and it was good. I enjoyed another few years there, never having to worry about getting caught off guard without change - that's a very nice thing.

I forgot all about it until this week when my friend who just started at EA confirmed that yes, sanitary products are still available for free in the bathrooms. I couldn't be more proud.

Friday, November 07, 2008

No Order Return Policy

(the old screen, soon to be replaced - cat sold separately)

As some readers might remember, I've had a little trouble finding a new fireplace screen here in BC. Because I'm such a wuss that I was looking for one in September, I was laughed out of Home Depot et al. "We don't carry those." "No one has those." No one.

But it was as if my screen was meant to find me when one day I noticed a tiny fireplace shop tucked into a strip mall just down the street. They sell all sorts of electric and gas fireplaces, mantles, tools - everything.

I stopped in a couple of weeks ago and saw no screens on display. The nice lady behind the desk said I could order one and it would be in the following Wednesday.

Usually I'd do a ton of research online and weigh the options of shipping charges & waiting vs. the time saved by getting it locally. But I was so happy to find the store and get it taken care of, I went ahead and ordered it.

When she finished charging my credit card and stapling my receipts together I asked about their return policy. You know, just in case it doesn't work out - it's nice to know what I'm getting into (or had just gotten into, having already paid for it).

She sheepishly said, "Well, I mean, I guess if something's wrong with it... but I know no one else is going to need that, so..." So... what? I can either return it or I can't - are there special circumstances I need to know about? She never did finish that sentence.

Being a fireplace store, wouldn't she be able to SELL the screen if I had to return it, it being a basic item one might expect to find in a FIREPLACE STORE? I let it go - it was highly unlikely I'd need to return it - I'd measured carefully and was certain it would work out fine.

When I relayed all this to David I told him I felt like returning it out of spite. Because she weaseled and said "I know no one else is going to need that." He told me that was maybe a little too harsh and he's probably right.

A week came and went, so the Friday after it was supposed to arrive I stopped in to pick it up. A different woman was behind the desk and she diligently tried to find a copy of my order.

When she couldn't find it, she explained that the other lady was out that day and she had organized all the boxes in the back, so she would have to come in and sort through it to find my order.

Really? She's the only one who can find my screen? Well, OK, if she's the only one who can do it, I'll come back tomorrow. Nope. She told me the lady would call me the next day to let me know if it was in.

I forgot all about it until this week when the weather turned dreary again. I phoned them up and got the same story. Only Lady #1 can sort through the boxes in the back and Lady #1 again was not there.

This is where the unfortunate DNA springs to life and I channel a little Charlotte. It's not pleasant and honestly I don't like becoming that person, but no one likes getting a bullshit runaround for something so simple. But, we left it on good terms with a promise from Lady #2 to call Lady #1 and get back to me immediately.

She came through as promised and told me Lady #1 hadn't answered any of the three calls she made and the owner didn't answer his phone either. She said she'd call me again first thing in the morning. Alrighty then.

She came through on that as well, putting Lady #1 on the phone to explain that she'd made a little mistake. She put my paperwork in the "done" pile and never placed the order. Did I still want her to order the screen? I reminded her that she'd already charged me for it. She giggled and said "I know!" Isn't it hilarious!? I told her I was in the middle of something and I'd call her back in a little while.

I went to eBay and found a much nicer screen for less money and bought it. I called Lady #1 back and asked her to refund the charge. She totally saved me the trouble of returning it!

What's funny about this, besides the hilariously poor customer service and the hysterical blooper of stealing my money, is that as soon as I signed the credit slip I felt like maybe I should have done some homework first. That maybe I'd just made a mistake.

That little voice - she's always right - she's just not LOUD enough sometimes. Or I'm just too stupid sometimes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Smack Jackson

I know how you all love reading about me and all the riveting things that happen to me and my brilliant ideas about the world - I know it's the best part of your day to stop here and get your Nootsmaak fix. You don't have to thank me... although you could. I wouldn't stop you.

But today we're going to take a brief - BRIEF - break from the gift that is me and wish my hubby a happy birthday. He wasn't ecstatic about turning 40, but maybe after a little while he'll realize it's a meaningless number. Except when it's time to renew the health insurance.

Smack is a Midwestern boy and I'm glad he found me. It's difficult to find quality mates in San Francisco. My single girlfriends will back me up on that. Lots of self-absorption and "you're so lucky to know me" going on. And I should know since you're soooo lucky to know me.

Bear in mind, I'm not dissing all potential partners, just some. Or most - your mileage may vary. By the time Smack hinted that he might want to be more than friends, I'd given up on dating in SF. Taken myself off the market. I'm a terrible dater.

When Mr. Man sent me that email (we're both geeks) about maybe going out sometime, I sort-of became Kristen Wiig's Excited Sue character.

I'd known him for a year or so - we were both involved with other people most of that time - but even when I first met him, I instantly respected him. That's rare.

He's a good person, through and through. And so damn funny. The shit he says kills me. And omigod, he has such a fine ass. I can't not mention that. Dreamy. And he loves cats. Loves them. He's the reason we have THREE of them. And I love the little lines around his eyes when he smiles. Gorgeous.

And it's not just me who thinks he's great - my family prefers him over me most of time. I don't think he realizes how great he is, and maybe that's another thing to like about him.

So, Happy Birthday - I love you and can't wait to see what the next 40 years has in store for you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stoopid Time Change

I don't understand why we keep doing this. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stoopid, and obviously, it's making me cranky.

The cats are pissed, too. They have regulated stomach clocks that do not just automatically adjust. Now we're tired, cranky AND have to watch our backs.

The only good thing that ever happened as a result of "falling back" was many, many years ago when I was first living in San Francisco.

I'd been to an almost all-night Halloween party the night before and ended up sharing a cab home with some guy who thought he was coming home with me. Too much beer can make a lot of things seem real.

When the cab got close to my neighborhood, I told the driver to pull over, got out and sprinted through Park Merced - where everything looks the same - and easily lost the guy with plans for a slumber party.

Upstairs, face down on my bed, the last thing I remembered from that night was wondering how I got inside my apartment. Seems I'd forgotten how keys work when you put them into the lock and turn them the right direction. Seriously, seriously drunk and impaired.

Woke up later that morning with an awful hangover and realized I was late for work. The job I just got back at another store closer to school - that morning was my first day back. And I was late. Awesome.

I called the office and the phone rang and rang and rang. Holy shit, it must be so busy they can't even get to the phone. I'm screwed, I'm screwed, I'm screwed, I'm screwed. No, no, no, no, no - what a colossal blunder.

Standing [slumped over] in the shower, I realized - holy shit, FALL BACK. I actually got there on time. Since then, I haven't had any use for standard time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Stuff For Stockings

Just in time for the shopping no one wants (or is able) to do, thanks to the fine state of the economy: calendars!

Finally got some stuff organized and I'm building an empire. Why pick a time when the economy's doing well? That's for sissies.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Romantic Weight Loss

Got a piece of spam yesterday I almost deleted - I'm so glad I took a moment to read the preview before losing it forever.

My new friends at ColonMed700 are offering me a wonderful Free Colon Cleanse Sample enabling me to Lose Weight With My Mate Today.

Isn't that terrific? We'll grow even closer while we race each other to the toilet with horrific abdominal cramps and explosive diarrhea. I ordered a 90-supply.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Today I carved myself a spiritual jack-o-lantern.

After I scooped out all the guts and seeds, I carved a big crooked smile on its face, crammed it full of all the negative shit that was in my head, soaked it in gasoline, lit it on fire and threw it into the street where it was immediately run over by a UPS truck.

That feels better.

Wishing everyone a jolly ol' time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Do You...

...Forgive the mistakes of the past? Yourself?

I have hindsight. I have regrets. I've made mistakes I cannot undo, oh though I wish so much that I could. I followed the paths I could find. I knew there were others, I just didn't know how to find them.

With the benefit (curse?) of hindsight, I see clearly what might have been different - "if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be a merry Christmas!"

Had This happened and That happened and This NOT happened, maybe That would have turned out like This.

But nobody knows how That will turn out or how This might affect That. Though if we all have the benefit of hindsight (or introspection), you'd expect that those who have gone before would ensure past mistakes aren't repeated.

If you can look back and see clearly the things that should have been done differently, things you had no control over but someone else did, how do you let that go and move past it?

Not sure why this has come up or why it's stuck in my craw, but I've been working on it. What I think is true is that regardless of opportunities (missed or otherwise), people are who they are and will do what they will...

So even if This *had* been That or I'd done That instead of This, it may not have changed anything in the end. I made the choices I did for a reason, good, bad or otherwise. If I had it all do to over again, without the benefit of clairvoyance of course, I'd probably do it all the same.

But if anyone out there would like a list of things NOT to do, I can help with that. Send a self-addressed, stamped catalog-sized envelope to Blunders to Avoid, 673 Fumbler Road, Aimless, NJ, 07508

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm not a hothead - really, I'm not. I talk a good game when I rant about things that annoy me, but I'm actually very even-tempered and easygoing. Seriously. Shut up and let me finish.

I get frustrated and annoyed like anyone, but I don't FLIP OUT on people like someone I'm related to ("it's in the DNA!!!"). I let most things go - laugh it off and make fun of it later, here.

But there are things that I just cannot ignore, things I find so egregious that have to be dealt with or I won't be able to live with myself. Like when you pay for a cup of coffee and they don't fill it all the way up.

The other day I bought myself a present and a friend said I HAD to snap a photo of it when it arrived and post it for all to enjoy. I was happy to oblige.

I was also happy to support such a great cause. I love what this woman has done and that proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood in Palin's name. I wish I'd thought of it.

As I normally do, I posted my handiwork on Flickr and enjoyed the supportive comments that immediately popped up.

Then someone I don't know, someone who found my photostream through a mutual contact posted a comment disapproving of the language I had used in the photograph [?]. He also didn't understand a joke in one of the comments from a friend of mine - but, I let it go.

I posted an incredibly polite, considerate reply explaining that I did not agree with him - that as Spalding Gray would say, there are no bad words... and that we should all remember this is my photostream and everyone has the choice not to look at if they don't like it.

His response to that was to post a giant reply lecturing me on my use of foul language and that I absolutely should be the morality police and censor my content for the entire world.

I didn't let that go. I posted one more response, a stronger yet still considerate message reiterating my position and I even explained that his original post was fair, but something about it just got under my skin and that this may not be an appropriate use of the platform. It was a polite Thanks, But Please Move On.

I'm sure you can guess what happened next. Another huge reply with him going off - it was so long I didn't want to take that much time to read what I knew would only annoy me.

One nice thing about Flickr is that at any time, should you want to, you can block a user and prevent him/her from commenting on your photos.


Blocking him removed every comment he'd ever made on any photo. It was like he'd never existed. Harsh, maybe, but why in the world would I waste more time debating some stranger who showed no respect for me or my content in the first place? Life is too short.

Then he had the nerve to email me directly and scold me for blocking him. He also claimed to know what type of language I should be capable of using and that I was exploiting free speech.

I did not let that go. Can you believe the ego on this one? Well, you must know what I said to him, literally as well as in so many words - yes, a big Fuck YOU. To his credit, he seems to have respected my request to not contact me again. Even if he does, there will be no exchange.

It's perfectly fine to disagree with me - I enjoy a spirited exchange of ideas. But to lecture me and the world about a harmless photo was over the line. He missed the point entirely and instead of shutting up and moving on, went even further, into the land of Oh No You Di-int.

Had he taken the matter offline originally, that might have been different, but still, no one asked for opinions. Look at it or don't - it's a personal choice. I won't make it for others and I don't want it made for me.

Now, fill the cup all the way or give me a discount.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mid-Life Diet

Is it just me, or have other people upon reaching their early 40s had to eliminate foods from their diet due to intolerance, allergy or other reasons? Is this normal?

I swear, the list of what I can eat or drink gets shorter every day. It's down to meat or eggs, starch and water. And bananas. And cookies, thank god.

It all started with the headaches. My head is totally broken.

With so many years of experience, you get to know your headaches - the average low-level annoyers, the sinus-related killers, the full-on migraines and others that are unique, brought on only in certain instances.

I've discovered over the years that BHT gives me a particular, skull-crushing head cleaver. It's brought on by any food containing this preservative - a suspected cancer-causing agent, I might add.

All mass-market cereals use BHT. Your Post, Kelloggs and General Mills-type fare - all your favorites, though plain ol' Cheerios is poison-free. It was a sad day when I had to remove Golden Grahams and Honeycomb from my shopping list.

Another BHT source - Potato Buds and other brands of instant potatoes or packaged dry foods. Caint have none of 'em.

MGS is another headache. It's in almost everything that's processed - soups, chips, crackers, sauces, some stocks - anything that tastes better than it should likely has MSG in it, and a lot of restaurants are using it again, though most of them won't offer that info unsolicited. Ask.

Then there's dairy. All cow products give me horrific headaches, a particular type that also comes with big dark circles under my eyes and a bloated face. Super attractive.

Nothing makes it go away. Well, a glass of fizzing codeine dampens it a little, but it hangs on for almost 24 hours every time. Doesn't matter if it's raw, organic, homogenized, pasteurized or has live active cultures. If it comes from a cow - no dice. So far, goat cheese seems to be OK.

Next on the list, and this one really makes me sad - so sad - chocolate and cocoa. Just in the last year or so these kids started making trouble in my head. My favorite Bensdorp Cocoa and Callebaut chocolate chips [sniff]... no more. Even small amounts are too much. Tragic.

Just about any liquor aged in a barrel makes a fine headache, though good red wine usually doesn't. White wine will almost every time and some champagnes and sometimes beer. Silver tequila on the rocks seems to be OK, but no reposado, no anejo, and no mixer/sugar.

Then there's raw veggies or too much fiber in any one dish. Whoa, Betty, that is an unpleasant experience the next day. I used to love carrot and celery sticks. Now, my lower GI says NO to that. That was an uncomfortable discovery to say the least.

What does that leave me? Steak, potatoes & eggs and Don Julio Silver, the breakfast of champions.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dennis, Come to Vancouver

We need you. Dennis, I implore you, come out of retirement and come to the Great White North. We don't know what's happening or why.

Some examples:

Recently in the news was the trial of five individuals charged with the kidnapping of a guy - they held him for about a week before police raided a number of homes in the area and finally found him.

At no time have the reporters (or online content) offered up a possible motive or explained they could not learn of a motive. There was no ransom note and no explanation from the accused, the victim or the victim's family. WTF?

A guy disappeared after a truck rally and they found his truck by the bank of a river, still running. He'd been missing for a year and they just found his body. No one's offered any sort of scenario as to what might have happened. Not even a guess.

Am I just too used to Bay Area news that tells us more than we thought we ever wanted to know about every little thing? Am I just a nosy American?

I don't think that's it. I think if a kid gets kidnapped at gunpoint and held for 8 days before he's found, alive, we should get some information as to why it happened.

The weather forecasting isn't much better than the reporting. The sun was supposed to come out today. Didn't see it once. Grrr.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Someone For Everyone

I love my husband - I really do - but I really don't want him using my toothbrush. It's not about germs, it's about how he creates a wild froth of toothpaste and spit that drips down the entire length of the thing, dropping giant foamy globs into the sink. He seems to love doing this but I think it's disgusting.

Just the thought of that all over *my* toothbrush grosses me out. He knows this and it's why we use the little color-coded thingies on the attachments. But he's color blind, so I use a darker red or pink one and he gets a lighter one - something that can't be confused for the darker color. It's a good system and it usually works.

The other day he came home from the store with off-brand replacement brushes. They're color-coded, but you can't interchange the colors - they're built into the stupid brush.

Knowing there wouldn't be any way to tell our brushes apart, I went to the trouble to mark my brush with a handy code - my initial - and a smiley face decoration. Proud of myself for solving the problem, I went to bed assured that I wouldn't find my brush in the shower the next morning sitting in a pool of slimy foam.

The next morning my brush was right where it should have been, on the charger, and his stood right next to mine with its own new decoration. Is it weird that something like this makes me love him even more? Because I do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm all muddled up. Lots of crap crowding my brain. It's been a weird week. Finding out not one, but two former classmates passed away recently, feeling extremely homesick already, yet still [trying to be] excited about the adventures to come.

I keep feeling like I want to be "home," back with my friends, family and my familiar routines. I want to buy orecchiette pasta at the Fruit Basket in Sonoma, because I doubt I'll ever find it here. "Orechetwhat?"

I want to go to a restaurant and have a choice of tequila other than [gag] Patron and [puke] Cuervo. I want to go out to dinner and not spend almost a hundred dollars on the stupidest thing ever invented - tapas, the greatest restaurant swindle of all time - and expensive wine that tastes only OK.

I want pretentiousness to be exterminated like the virus it is. I want the checker at Save On to be a little less frantic about chucking my groceries into bags like her hands are on fire and my food is made of gasoline. I want to wrap myself in a fleece cocoon and stay there for the next six months.

Everything is a little raw right now, but as Alan likes to remind me, this too, shall pass. On a more positive note, I finally started a personal project and made great progress on it. I'm excited about where that might lead. So, it's not all shit. Tomorrow should be better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Downer Friday

I learned today a high school friend passed away this morning. Who has a heart attack and dies at 41? How can that happen? He had three little girls. I don't even know what to say.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Already Happening

The craziness. Dementia. It's happening.

While puttering around the house Saturday morning I noticed the front door was unlocked. I asked David if he'd gone outside that morning. He said he hadn't. I said we must have left the door unlocked the night before.

Uh, actually, I'd gone to the store early that morning and had already forgotten all about it. I know it's happening and maybe I should be worried. But I'm not. I'm looking forward to forgetting all sorts of stuff. I imagine it'll be a great relief and the days will get a lot more exciting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Craigslist Debate

When doing business on Craigslist there's a high probability of dealing with weirdos, but that can be part of the fun. You never know who you might meet or what sort of debate [argument] you might start.

After I posted an ad to sell our TV, one of the first responses was from a woman who wished she needed a TV so she could come by and give me a high five. That made my day. We exchanged numerous emails and now she's my new BFF here in Vancouver - yo Lauren!

One guy wanted to trade us scrap lumber for the TV. We were interested in firewood, not 6'-long 2x4s we would have to gradually feed into the fireplace. But thanks - it was a nice thought.

Another guy responded promptly that he wanted to "buy it off" us, which was nice, but then he sent a follow up response that he'd read the ad through and now he didn't want it. It's so true - no one reads anything online.

After we sold it I updated the ad that it had been sold. Today I got a response from someone who responded to my crack about Palin polluting the airwaves, saying better her in the White House than - you'll never guess... wait for it... "a monkey."

Isn't that wonderful? And people wonder why I say things like "bring on the meteors" and why I'd prefer we didn't have seat belt and helmet laws. We have to cull the herd - NOW.

If morons like this are permitted to vote, let alone breed, the planet is truly doomed.

Admittedly, my response was less than productive, saying "Sarah Palin is about as valuable as a used tampon in a clean underwear drawer. Her head is so far up her ass that she can see McCain’s team in there pulling the strings. I’d vote for a monkey any day before voting for that useless sack of shit and his stupid twat of a running mate."

Sure, I could have ignored the message, but it's not every day I get to put all those words together in one email and hit the Send button. I wonder if he/she will write me back.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Truth About Canada

the country with a logo!

Lovely as Canada is, there's probably some stuff you didn't know about this fair land... stuff you might want to know if you're considering moving to the Vancouver area.

#1 - No Trader Joe's. Anywhere. This blows so hard, I'm not sure there are words to describe how much this blows. Food is expensive. Regular, everyday grocery store fare - about twice as pricey. Every time I go to the store I spend at least $50 for about enough food for one meal with a few other things thrown in. The funny thing - there's a Whole Wallet here - just one, in West Vancouver - so if you enjoy paying four or five times more $$ for food, c'mon up & go crazy.

#2 - No good pizza - at least we haven't found any yet. Pizza is not a priority here, but poutine is. [hurl]

#3 - Nobody Yelps. No one cares which restaurants might give you food poisoning or which chiropractors will help you vs. put you in traction. Thanks. Thanks for all the helpful info.

#4 - You can't access most U.S. web content - no Hulu.com, no Pandora, etc. When looking for a fantastic Colbert Report clip, I'm redirected to ctv.ca, which broadcasts Comedy Network content, but the bitches don't post the content online like they do in the States. It's jankity. Bitches.

#5 - Importing a car - see previous posts - jacked, jacked, jacked, jacked, JACKED. Bitches.

#6 - People come to your door. In the past two months two people have come to the door to either give me mail improperly delivered down the street or to ask questions about something pertaining to the house (I couldn't understand the guy - he was mumbling with a very thick French accent.) In Alameda, maybe four people came to the door in seven years. I liked that.

#7 - If you want to update a billing address for a credit card, you have to close the account. Global economy? Hardly.

#8 - Tidy Cats cat litter - the regular stuff - it isn't here. No one carries it. I don't know why. It's what the cats like, but for some reason, the regular ol' Tidy Cats isn't sold here. Other TC products are, but not this. Bitches.

#9 - Tim Horton's - not very good. The coffee tastes like water they collected from the puddles in the parking lot. Tire water. Only the maple-dipped doughnut is tasty. Not sure why they merged with Wendy's, but you can get a cup of chili AND a doughnut in one stop. Blech.

#10 - Health Care - now, we've not yet ventured into this area [knock on wood], but political ads talk about difficulty with finding a doctor, like maybe there aren't enough doctors to go around. I guess we'll see.

#11- Insurance - we have the basic ICBC auto insurance, but people here have additional, private coverage. Is driving here so perilous that you should have insurance on top of insurance? Now I'm worried that even after all the work it's taken to get the basic insurance, it may not be enough.

#12 - Crime - definitely alive and well. Maybe not as *much* murder as in the States, but since we've been here, there have been a few nasty murders, a couple of rapes and lots of petty crime. You can't leave anything in your car of any value, even in the suburbs. And under any circumstances, ladies, you cannot, not ever, follow the sound of a man's voice claiming to need help into the woods of Stanley Park (or any park). It won't end well. You can be a good samaritan, just not in the parks, by yourself. You're better off running into a bear.

#13 - Friendliness - by and large, people are about as friendly as in the Bay Area. There's the occasional butt munch, but overall, people are mellow and congenial - not very different than folks in the Bay Area.

#14 - Cell phone charges - hold on to your f*cking hat. If you have a carrier with good international coverage, it may not be an issue. We had AT&T and when David was first up here using his iPhone, that month's bill was over $400. The roaming data transfer and long distance charges are redonkulous. Even the land-line bill was craptacularly high. You'll want to get the calling card and use that sucker. Then you'll want to ditch the American phone & carrier and get a local plan. I don't text my friends anymore - too spensy.

#15 - "In hospital" - it's weird and I don't like it. "The victim was taken to morgue to be identified." "The man went to restaurant to eat." "The woman went to gas station to fill up." Ass.

#16 - Traffic - it's a bitch. There are a lot of people in this area - it feels just like driving around the Bay Area, sometimes it's worse. They've built a lot of bridges, but they don't have enough lanes or they need more of them. There's only one highway in and out of North Vancouver. Just wait 'til 2010 and millions of people are trying to get to Whistler. Should be an Olympic-sized clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks.

#17 - Public transporation - seems to work OK. David takes a nice train called the West Coast Express. He says you can always get a seat, but the seats are small and close together. Not being a fan of people in general, I realize this is less than ideal for him, but at least he can sit. Coworkers report that SkyTrain is often smelly and cramped. Sounds a lot like Bart. But it's efficient and they're continuing to expand the line, so that's nice.

#18 - Homelessness - sadly, a fair amount of it. Lots of folks downtown and some out here in our suburb, somehow surviving on the streets in 30-degree weather, and it's only October. Christ. There appears to be larger numbers living in the woods/parks by Pitt River.

#19 - Drugs and drug addiction - a pretty serious problem. The laws and sentences are lax and public assistance is plentiful and there are huge grow ops all over the province. Pot isn't legal, but they don't get aggro should they see someone strolling down Robson smoking a joint. Lots of crack, heroin and meth use.

#20 - No Peet's - enough said. : ((

That said, no one here would ever dream of nominating someone like Palin for elected office.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cats Amaze Me

carpey flapjack

Because obviously I'm easily amazed. And I like shiny things.

I've spent a lot of time with our cats this year. Despite being around cats all my life, I still expect them to be aloof and cold, not needing any human interaction beyond feeding times.

And there are days when, if they had thumbs, I know they'd trip me so my head would crack square into the corner of a table and they'd no longer have someone nagging them about getting down off the counters or to stop stealing my socks and hiding them around the house, or to please cover the goddamn giant crap in the box.

But most days, they surprise me with how social they are. While they have bonded together somewhat as a tiny pride of living room lions, they still seem to prefer being with humans, or since I'm the one home all the time, me.

Neo, always a street-tough bulldog of a cat in my eyes, follows me from room to room, curling up near wherever I am. He doesn't have to be right on my lap like Nikita, but he's gotta be in the same room. He's a total badass yet he purrs the moment you touch him - that amazes me.

neo & nikita

With so much more observation time, I've seen much more of their personalities. They're all very different from one another - their only commonalities are bad breath, crapping in a box and loving ground up fish mush.

Ninja is the soft-headed gentle giant, content to play with a tiny carpet fiber or chase his tail on the couch. He doesn't rub his cheek against your leg, but instead gently brushes by like a fish in a lagoon, earning him the nickname Carpey.

He has a surprising range of expressions for a cat so mentally challenged. When he's happy the top of his head becomes rounded and fluffy and a ridge in his fur appears down his back. He's so at ease with the world he's totally comfortable sleeping flat on his back with his belly fully exposed. It's amazingly soft.

Because we see him as so, well, retarded, I was astounded one day when I figured out he was trying to tell me to clean out his crap box.

Like most cats, Ninja is particular about where he craps. The other two are fine with any box and any type of litter, but Ninja's gotta have it exactly the way he wants it or there could be trouble. Like a puddle of urine on the kitchen floor trouble. Or a box of books soaked in cat urine trouble.

As I sat here one day typing on this here computer dealie, he kept carping my leg and meowing softly - something he never does during the day. Normally right after breakfast, he's down for his all-day nap-a-thon - never up before 3pm when it's time to start bullying me into feeding them.

I watched him closely and he didn't look unhappy or stressed - he looked intent. We have two cat boxes in the closet behind me - that's the only reason he comes up here, except for bullying time.

Figuring it couldn't hurt to take a look, I grabbed a plastic bag and took the top off one of the boxes. Sure enough, it was due for cleaning. I scooped all the boxes and as soon as I finished, in he went to pollute it once again. And then he went back to his nap. Amazing.

I could go on and on about them, but if you have cats you know all the funny, weird things they do that make you wonder what planet they came from.

The scary thing is trying to stay on this side of the crazy cat lady line where I'm not talking to them like I know what they're saying back to me, but I gotta tell you, that line is getting blurry.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Maple-Dipped Ass Reaming

Hello Nootsmaakians!

When we last left you, our fearless author had just endured the early stages of a comprehensive rectal exam in an effort to register and insure an automobile here in the fine province of British Columbia.

Let's find out what happened!

After 12 man-hours and a few more spent driving around to obtain forms, repairs and inspections, I'm happy to report the anal reaming is complete.

And now it's confirmed - British Columbia really [REALLY] doesn't want you bringing your car with you when you move here. Why, hasn't been made clear.

If it were just about the economy & wanting people to buy here, they could impose the appropriate taxes to compensate for that - that I would expect.

What I didn't expect was 2+ hours at the insurance agency to get signed up and insurance fees that are double what we paid in California - and that's AFTER a 40% discount for a claim-free record.

In California we were near an area where cars are stolen or burglarized all the time. David's car has a bullet hole in the hood from a random bullet fired somewhere in Emeryville when he used to work there. The East Bay is not without risk factors that can cause higher rates, yet we still paid reasonable fees for two cars driven all over the Bay Area (and beyond).

But here, I'm paying double what I paid in California, with the discount, and the coverage is about the same, though I think ICBC (Idiotic Corrupted Bullshit Corporation), includes an increased amount of general liability coverage.

Still, for a 10-year old car being used for "pleasure" only (I guess we'll have to keep the back seats folded down ALL the time) it's astronomical. Without the discount, I'd be paying $2,400 a year for BASIC insurance.

If I get a job and need to drive my car to & from work, that will cost me more. Can you believe that shit? If you have to drive your car to work, your insurance rates go up. And they want to know the actual mileage you'll be driving to/from work.

So, if I decide to take a long lunch and drive somewhere outside that route to run an errand and something happens, will they deny the claim?

The whole process is intentionally maddening, complicated and time-consuming. Even the wonderfully helpful and friendly folks at the insurance agency, who do this every day, struggled through the forms and the endless questions in the ICBC system.

Now I understand why some people, if they can, skirt this system. It's a full-on racket, from the numerous, bullshit fees you have to pay to different agencies to import to the inspection and its fees and the ridiculously expensive insurance.

Why the residents don't revolt and demand the laws be changed is a mystery. Perhaps this is one of those times when being too polite means we all get to take it up the ass. I've had about all I can take.

I think we'll seriously consider driving David's car back to California and leaving it there. I'm not sure I want to do this again or pay British Columbia any more money to live here. They're making it difficult to consider staying here permanently, but we'll see how it goes from here.

I have to say, I'm disappointed that something that should be so simple has been made intentionally very difficult and painful - and almost punitive.

We're not trying to screw anyone (or the local economy) by bringing our cars with us, but BC is definitely screwing us and as a result, we may not feel so great about staying here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Import Export Stupidport

(from despair.com)

You know that guy (or girl) you've dated who, when you first meet him, you feel an instant connection - he's really cool, has a hot body, makes you laugh and dresses in his own style that you actually like?

That guy who seems totally into you at the party, chatting you up, flirting his ass off because you know he'd love to get you home, and you're fine with that because he's the best thing to come along since that guy you dated last year who dropped into a old-married-couple-like rut after the third date.

That guy who once you get to his place and have a look around you're thinking OK, his place is clean and cozy and you actually feel comfortable there and start thinking, This could actually be something...

And then you have a few dates, and just when you think things are clicking along nicely, he stops calling as often, telling you he's "got a lot going on right now" or he's "going through some issues" or "has his head lodged in his rectum and thus can't come to the phone."

Yeah, Canada is that guy. And Canada, I don't want to pull the plug on this so soon, but you need to get your shit together with this car import/registration bullshit, because I don't have the time or patience to deal with your issues.

Everything was great until I tried to take care of the car, and sure as shit, you went all High Maintenance Asshole on me.

Oh, sure, come on up and bring your car - sure - it's no problem. Oh, you want to KEEP your car here, oh, well, you didn't say that, but OK, well, in that case, there's some stuff you're going to have to take care of.

First - FIRST - don't bring your car. That would be the first thing to do. Don't bring it. Leave it in the states and walk across the border and either steal a car registered in British Columbia or purchase an automobile in Canada.

But if you've already brought your car, you'll need to first EXPORT the car from the States. The one you just drove here, the one that's already here in Canada - yes, that one - you're going to have to export that sucker first. So go back to the border to the US Customs office and fill out all that stupid paperwork to get it exported.

Oh, wait, I forgot - to actually export your car, you have to first file some paperwork with US Customs and leave the car in the States for three business days AFTER that paperwork has been filed.

So, go ahead and file that paperwork, verify that US Customs has received it and is is, in fact, ON FILE, then drive your stupid car across the border back into the States, sleep in it for three BUSINESS days, then you can drive back to the US Customs office and obtain the official export paperwork.

Easy, right? Excellent!

Now, with that done, we can start the IMPORT proe-cess. But first, if you wanted to, and this is totally up to you - your call - if you didn't want to bother with the EXPORT thing, you could - COULD - do a temporary import, which you can do if you're only going to be in Canada for a year or two. This is straight from the boys at Uncle Sam's customs office, so, I'm not just saying that to sound accommodating.

That doesn't mean that at some point, if you decided to STAY in Canada, that you may not have to someday bother with the whole export pain in the ass. So, you've been warned.

OK, so back to IMporting. If, like me, you were able to get away with the Temporary Import, Form 1 from the Canadian Customs folks, you can then bypass the RIV - Registrar of Imported Vehicles - proe-cess. The RIV bullshit requires another form or five and a filing fee of $200. For what, is anyone's guess - perhaps to pay for additional web pages full of confusing information.

Canadian Customs will give you the Temporary Import, Form 1 along with a B-15 form that documents the declared value of the car. You'll pay 7% of that value in taxes when you go to register your car.

Oh, you'll also need a Recall Clearance letter from your car's manufacturer (which for some cars, must come from their Canadian office). And you need to have current insurance and a Claims Experience Letter from your insurer that shows a claim-free history for the past eight years. With that, you get a 40% discount off the top. Off the top of a mountain of bullshit paperwork and forms.

Sorry, where was I?

Right, so with your Temporary Import Form 1, a B15, current registration, title, proof of insurance, recall clearance letter, claims experience letter, you'll THEN need to head on over to your local Canadian Tire - For Days Like Today (Really? So where do I shop on a GOOD day?) - where they'll do both a Federal and Provincial Inspection - awesome!

And if you're like me, you actually drive your car to places like Target or the liquor store and sometimes even to Canada, where along the way things can happen, like a chip or crack in the windshield.

And if you have a windshield with a crack or a chip, you can walk right back out of that friendly, neighborhood Canadian Tire because you're going to have to get that fixed before they'll even do the inspection. Which will cost you, for the Provincial Inspection, by the way.

So, where are we? You're going to have to pay taxes on whatever your car is worth, you're going to have to pay standard license and registration fees, you're going to have to pay for any repairs or modifications your car might need to pass the inspection, and then you're going to have to pay for BC insurance - and if you did the full export/import, you'll have to also pay the RIV fees (and another $100 if your car has air conditioning, just FYI).

Do you have a good salve and a rectum-friendly cushion? You may also want to keep your favorite alcohol or pharmaceuticals on hand to supplement the soothing effects of the anal salve.

Oh, and just so you know, your US insurance agency won't want to continue coverage for you once you've moved here, because BC won't recognize foreign insurance policies. Isn't that neat? So if you're not able to negotiate all this bullshit within 30 days, you'll be cut off by your US insurance before you're covered by BC's bullshit insurance, so, you know, good times!

So, no matter how hot Canada might look at that party, just know, if you're thinking about spending any serious time with him, there are going to be issues. He's cool about most things, but this one thing is like some twisted mommy-issue shit that might be too much to stomach.

I'm hoping he gets this shit worked out soon so we can get back to having some fun.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Slop Line

Went to a bakery yesterday to get bread to go with our soup and picked up what I *thought* was a package of chocolate croissants for today's breakfast.

Oftentimes when cooking/baking something it's a good idea to put a little something on top of the item to help indicate what's in it. For example, almond croissants usually have slivered almonds on top - easy enough, yes?

These croissants, much like many chocolate croissants I've seen, had nothing on top but you could see the appearance of a dark filling at the corners. Unfortunately, that dark filling was in no way chocolate-related, but instead a spinach or pesto-type substance.

It's upsetting to bite into something like spanikopita when your mouth is ready for a sweet, gooey chocolate-filled pastry. Would a single pinoli on top be too much to ask? Or a spinach leaf? Something?

Disappointed that we had no sweet gooey treats for a Sunday breakfast, we went to Tim Horton's. At 9:30 on a Sunday morning.

The drive-thru line snaked around and out of the parking lot so we went inside. The line inside was only slightly shorter, with people joining from doors on both sides of the building.

We walked in and made our way toward the end of the line that weaved back through the tables. We joined the end of the line as two guys that came in from the other door cut in front of us.

These fine boys were sportin long, stringy hair and clothes that were mostly clean and both had summer teeth. Summer over here, summer over there.

With a scowl on his face, Dirty Stringy Blond Guy said "fuck this - just like the slop line in jail." Dirty Stringy Native Guy mumbled something in return.

I micro-stepped back toward David and stayed glued to him as the line moved along. DSBG kept grumbling about one thing or another while DSNG mumbled inaudible replies. David and I talked about the idea of working the graveyard shift there - they're hiring, if you're interested.

When it was their turn to order, the tough ex-con act disappeared and they were polite and friendly to the cashier. Watching a scene like this unfold, it's difficult not to burst out laughing like it's a live Kids in the Hall sketch.

After just a short time here, I have a whole new appreciation for their show. KITH fans might remember numerous parodies of Ontario Provincial Police, like when they're lounging on the hood of the patrol car talking about doughnuts or hockey while an old woman gets mugged right in front of them.

A few weeks ago there was a terrible car accident at a strip mall - a pickup driver crashed into a sushi restaurant. The police had the parking lot closed down for three days while they worked that case. SFPD would have been done with that in 20 minutes.

Last week two people were found murdered in a home in Surrey. Someone had called 911 reporting that they heard gunshots, but the police decided not to check it out.

This place is weird and funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Endless ____lits

In the local paper there's an ad for Crapplebee's endless favourites - all-you-can-eat entrees, such as endless chicken fingers or endless crispy shrimp.

I told David we could go have endless riblets for only $11.99, to which he said Sure, and then we'll have the endless shitlets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Losing My Shit

That's literally losing my belongings and coming unhinged about it, so maybe the title should be Totally Losing All My Shit. But I digress.

I turned into Sherilyn Fenn yesterday, the character she played briefly in Wild At Heart where she's wandering around the strewn car wreckage, flipping out about losing her wallet/bobby pins/scalp/brain matter.

I wandered through boxes of crap talking to myself and swearing all day long. Where the fuck did I put that fucking thing - it was just there goddamn it - fuck. Shit. That fucking thing should be with the other fucking thing but it's not, piece of shit. Fuck.

This went on all day, one outburst flowing into another, and I never did find the one fucking thing I was trying to find all fucking day; the one goddamn thing I need to work the other fucking thing that's now just sitting there, a useless fucking paperweight without the fucking thing that makes it go. Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Fucking irritating.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ready for Teleporting

Or if not teleportation, would it be too much to ask for a direct flight from my house to wherever I want to go?

I'm done with marathon road trips for a while. They can be fun when there's time to stop for bacon maple bars along the way, but it's still too much time in the car.

I'd wanted to shave the drive time down to 12 or 13 hours, but without wearing Depends and an 80-gallon gas tank (and a jet engine in my Volvo), that will be difficult to do.

At any rate, I learned something new about northern California - The State of Jefferson - never saw or heard of this before last week (I slept through school) - a small region of northern northern California/southern Oregon that would like to secede and be its own state.

If they ever get that accomplished, they're going to want to make sure they get Crescent City and Mt. Shasta in there, otherwise there won't be anything worth stopping to see in Jefferson.

This is a snapshot of Jefferson as seen from Highway 5:

Drink it in.

With this recent trip behind me, it's time to settle in for real. This morning I found a pair of flannel-lined khakis I've had for many years and now I actually need them. They're two sizes too big, but they'll do for now. I wonder how cold it's gonna be in February...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I have to admit that I might be hormonal at this moment, or it could be an accumulation of stress, but I can't believe how sad I am about being away from the animal kids.

When I rolled into town Sunday night, I realized I wasn't going "home." No one would be at this house - there's no home here anymore - just the house.

A house that now smells like it did before we moved in - like someone else's house, with someone else's things in it. Not my house. And no one in it.

That first night, every noise I heard made me expect a cat to be right behind it. No cats. When I made pasta and put it into a bowl, I automatically thought to find a small dish for Henry. No bird.

This year has been difficult with David away for most of it. I hadn't realized until now how much more attached I'd become to the fuzzy kids. It's killing me to be away from them. I want to leave right now to race home to them. Because home is wherever they are and they aren't here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Road Trip Workout

A long drive can be difficult to get through, especially on a straight, boring highway and nothing but bad AM radio (forgot my iPod - whoops).

It was like getting through a long run - stay hydrated, eat healthy snacks and take it in phases. And talk to yourself. And make fun of Washington.

It gets old fast just sitting there. Just sitting there working your right calf, ever so slightly. You can feel your muscles turning to mush. And it also lets fatigue creep in so quietly you don't even realize it until you wake up five minutes down the road. See previous post about Washington.

To work other areas besides the right calf, try these mini-exercises and see if they don't help you stay alert (and help burn off the bacon maple bar - or five - that you inhaled before leaving Portland).

Leg Shakers
Either to your own count or to a song on the radio, shake your legs back & forth like you have to pee so bad you almost can't believe it. Count to 30 (seconds or so), rest for 5, then repeat as many sets as you like. Works the groin, upper quads & hamstrings. Makes you look anxious and disturbed to other drivers, resulting in a greater space barrier with other cars.

Leg Presses
Press your knees together for a 30 count - works the groin. Depending on your car, if you can press your knees against the door and center console, that will work the abductors and glutes. Can also help air out the crotch, and that's always a good thing.

Butt Crunches
Tense your butt muscles for a 30 count, rest for 5, then repeat two or three times. Can alternate or "super set" with Stomach Crunches for a more robust exercise.

Stomach Crunches
Tense all stomach muscles and use them to crunch your body forward slightly toward the steering wheel - hold for a 30 count, rest for 5 then repeat, or super set with Butt Crunches. Focus on the lower abdomen by "pulling" the pelvis up into the stomach. Believe me, do enough of these and you'll feel it the next day. The gentle rocking makes you appear possibly deranged, resulting in a greater space barrier with other cars.

Bicep Curls
Starting with your hand resting on your lap, make a fist and tense your entire arm as if you were holding a dumbbell in your lap, then slowly curl your imaginary dumbbell up to your chest. Do 30, rest for 5, then repeat. Switch arms and repeat. Do not - DO NOT - do both arms at the same time. You'll have to move to Washington.

Tricep Press
This one is a little difficult being that you can't get good enough extension above your head to do a traditional tricep press, but you can put both hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 and press against the wheel for a 30 count. You have to focus on tensing the triceps while pressing. Keep your hands relaxed so you can keep steering the car. Kindof important.

Shoulder Raises
Starting with a bent arm raised in front of you like you're holding your mic on American Idol, fist at chin level, raise your elbow to the side, keeping your fist at chin level - like doing the Funky Chicken, just in front of you instead of at your sides. Focus on tensing the deltoids while raising your elbow - do 30 raises, rest for 5, then repeat. See above note about switching arms and repeating.

Pectoral Press
With both hands on the wheel at 9 and 3, press your hands toward each other, squeezing your pecs. Do a 30 count, rest for 5, then repeat. See above note about keeping hands relaxed.

Enough said.

Turn up the music and dance in your seat. See above notes about appearing disturbed/deranged. When making pit stops, don't use the drive through - park as far away from wherever you're stopping as you feel comfortable (with all that crap in your car), and walk vigorously to/from your destination. If desired, do jumping jacks, plyometrics, or go for a run around the rest stop/gas station/starbucks/wendy's.

Traditional road trip snacks tend to be Pringles, Gardetto's, Oreo's and such - lots of salt to ward off frequent pit stops and fat, well, because it's fat and it's good. But too much of that, and you'll be flagging by lunchtime. Some of that is good - you need the fat/calories for staying power, but too much sugar is the killer.

Keep a variety of snacks on hand - whole grain bagels, granola bars, protein bars, nuts or seeds, the bacon maple bar for extreme fat/calorie loading and the one sugar rush you shouldn't deny yourself, water and coffee.

I was surprised at how little coffee I wanted/needed for the drive. I usually have too much blood in my coffee stream, but staying hydrated with plain ol' water helped ward off fatigue better than caffeine.

It's a delicate balance - drinking just enough H2O to be hydrated but not so much that you're stopping every hour to pee behind the car. You'll have to figure out what's enough for you.

Soda can work, but I wouldn't recommend it. The sugared stuff is mostly poison and the diet stuff is all poison. It's fluid, but full of shit your body has to work to break down or use water to break down/process, negating the liquid it contains. And the acid eats your teeth.

Brain exercise is also important. Count the number of highway patrol you see by state and the overall total. Keep track of political bumper stickers. For example, 5 Obama to 2 McCain with 1 for Impeach Bush. Do the math of figuring out how long it will take to get from where you are to the next city based on your average speed. Then try to beat that. Safely, of course. Of COURSE!