Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Almost Done


It's almost 2010, or as lots of lazy people are saying, "twenty ten!" Is "two thousand ten" so hard? Wait, I need a minute. That tired me out a little. I do like Stephen Colbert's "oh ten!" so I maybe I'll go with that.

So it's almost O-Ten! Resolutions? Actually, this year I have a few. I had one last year but it seemed pretty redundant.

Last year I copied a friend's resolution to Say Yes To Adventure, but I'd already been doing that. It resulted in a fun new job I had no experience for and a move to Canada because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The rest of O-Nine was a constant Yes To Adventure - new restaurants, new foods, new routines, new activities, new sports, new road trips, new, new, new, new, new. That got old after a while. I don't think I need any help in saying Yes to New.

This year I'm getting back to basics while also trying a few New Things, all nutrition-related. First and foremost, for the month of January at least I will Say No To Sugar, Booze and Caffeine. I've never done this before, ever.

I've gone stone cold decaf twice before - some of the worst few days of my life until the withdrawals passed. But it was worth it - the sustained energy level throughout the day was a welcome change. I've been a caffeine junkie since I was a tweener, which is why I'm only 5'4". Kids, it's true - stay off the coffee until you're at least 18 years old.

The last time I went totally decaf I stayed "clean" for many years until a trip to Portugal. Oh dear god that coffee - that coffee is some of the best I've ever had. I opened a vein and let it jump right in and take me away to that blissful, chipper, caffeinated cloud far above the dull, sleepy sidewalks.

But now, so many years later, having been caffeinated for so long, my receptors are crusty & corroded. Just getting older is wreaking havoc with my energy levels, in that I almost never have as much as I'd like. Enter, the sugar problem...

Gotta Say No to Sugar. No more cookies, doughnuts, Peet's citrus bread & maple scones or coconut milk ice cream & chocolate sauce [sobbing]. Tastes so good, but hurts so bad. Stayed away from sugar for years, but got lazy and BLAM - sugar addict.

Finally, no booze... just for a month. Just for a thorough 30-day detox. Since we go out only one night a week, that's only four nights I'll cry quietly into a glass of water.

The only other New Thing I'm going to try in O-Ten is juicing. Been wanting to be a Juicer for a long time - non booze juicer - and I'm kind of excited to give it a try. Though it's going to be hard to not turn it into a coconut-tequila milkshake maker. We'll see how it goes.

I'll blog about my progress and I'll warn you now, it may be a rough few days at first, especially since in the past 24 hours I've consumed at least 10 very large cookies and there are a LOT more still sitting in my kitchen. If you're nearby, please come get them. Please.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thanks, Christmas!


It's been a lovely holiday - lots of time relaxing with the furry/feathered kids and enjoying being home again in Alameda.

We'd like to thank our sponsors - we couldn't have done it without you.
  • Super-Elastic™ Waistbands, Inc.
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  • Trader Joe's Spanish Olives
  • Don Julio® Blanco Tequila
  • La Piñata 3 (Alameda)
  • Trader Joe's Brand Unbleached White Flour, Granulated Sugar and Chocolate Chips
  • Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss™ Ice Cream (Dark Chocolate, Mint Galactica and Cappuccino)
  • Hershey's® Miniatures
  • Volvo Cars of North America, LLC
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus
  • Band of Brothers Marathon on Spike
  • Diners Drive Ins & Dives, Holiday Editions
  • Mad Men Season 1, On Demand
  • Deadliest Catch Marathon
  • Steven Seagal: Lawman
  • Alameda Theatre
  • Hulu.com
  • HDTV
  • Peet's Coffee
See you all next Christmas!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guilt Cookies


This year, perhaps because I was so happy to be back home for Christmas, I decided I'd be a Santa's Elf and deliver sugary treats to our neighbors - chocolate chip cookies for the kids & biscotti for the grownups.

I've never done this before. Most of our neighbors "keep to themselves," as I might tell a reporter one day after someone down the street tries to take out the whole block with a truck full of fertilizer. For the most part, we're a well-mannered quiet street of Wavers.

With full plates & bags of freshly-baked cookies I skipped across the street to where Crazy Bob used to live to deliver the goods to a quiet young couple with two kids. They moved in just as we were moving out and even after we moved back, we've never exchanged a single word. I'm starting to think we scare people.

The wife/mom answered the door and looked perplexed, wondering who the weirdo was handing out cookies dressed in warm ups, a flour-dusted t-shirt and Santa hat. I told her I was her across-the-street neighbor and she look chagrined. She thanked me profusely and I felt smug as I cheerfully said "Merry Christmas!" and skipped off to my next stop.

I went next door to the Curmudgeon's house and knocked on their door. They've lived there forever and knew my Nana before she moved on to a sweet condo in the sky. His wife answered wearing an awesome Christmas sweater and she looked shocked to see me. I handed her a gift bag of biscotti and chirped "Merry Christmas!" and she fumbled out an awkward "thank you." I skipped along to the next house.

Really, I was happy to spread some Christmas cheer. They're not bad neighbors, just a little aloof and/or sometimes kinda rude. We have other neighbors we talk to fairly often & it was great to see them & get caught up. It was a lovely part of my Christmas Eve.

As I was making breakfast the next morning, the doorbell rang, which was odd - I'm pretty sure our house is on a Run For Your Life list used by solicitors, Jehoshaphat's Witnesses & Mormons. David answered the door to see Curmudgeon's wife holding a plate of cookies. He said she couldn't get off the porch fast enough & back across the street.

David brought the cookies into the kitchen and while it was a really nice gesture, it looked like they'd been plucked out of the trash & hastily assembled on a festive plate. Even the plastic wrap was crumpled and resting on top of the cookies, no cling left in it to stick around the plate.

If they weren't Bin Cookies, they were very likely Regift Cookies, but they were definitely Guilt Cookies. I'll eat just about any cookie on the planet, but these were awful. They weren't just stale, the flavor made my mouth cry. We tried to find one that was edible but no luck. They're Bin Cookies now, but it was a sweet thought.

Next year I'm going to bring her a nice big bowl of soup & see what comes back.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmastime Again


Favorite Christmastime quote, said by a little kid at Rockefeller Center while being interviewed by Mary Gross on Saturday Night Live sometime in the mid-80s: "You know who I hate? Perry Como."

No one else saw that sketch which makes it all the more special - the memory is mine and mine alone.

This is always a weird time of year. I want to love it, but mostly I'm just overwhelmed and it's upon us and over in a flash. Every year I do less and less, which I really enjoy, but there's a lazy aspect to it I don't like.

I totally forgot about cards this year. Forgot them on purpose last year, 'cause we were in Canadia and it just seemed stupid to spend a dollar a stamp for Christmas cards that end up in the recycling bin. OK, actually, it just seemed like too much work. The lack of sunlight made lots of things feel like too much work. Blame Canada. I do.

But this year I actually forgot until a friend mentioned sending out cards. Cards? Like poker cards? Oh, wait, carrrrds. Right. Not gonna happen.

Last year we didn't even decorate until a few days before Christmas. It was just the two of us, far away from all our friends & family. Why bother? I hadn't even packed our Christmas stuff in the move. David asked if we could festive up the place, so I found a nice fake tree at Canadian Tire, some cheap plastic ornaments and threw it all together - BLAM - it's Christmas.

Sure didn't feel like it though. It was a weird time. Nice to be together, away from the rest of the world after all the time apart in '07 (when he was working in the UK - I hadn't kicked him out or anything), but it was lonely.

On Christmas Day, bored after so many days cooped up in the house, we went to see Gran Torino. Great holiday movie if you like tense, depressing stories. Drove home quietly in the snow and the dark. Heavy.

This year I did manage to decorate - put up TWO fake trees, fully decorated, and even found more stuff at Target. It looks a little like Christmas. Barely. I need to hire Jeff & Randy.






(a few shots of their incredible displays)

As we have in years past, we'll continue our No Stuff Christmas - no shopping for gifts of any kind - none, zip, zero. No more stuff. Food is OK (except fruitcake - that's not food) as are joke gifts that can be useful, such as ExLax, Rolaids, Correctol or Gas-X.

David started the gastrointestinal-themed gift pack a few years ago and it's a valuable tradition. When something goes wrong in that department and you can't run to the drugstore? No problem! My "Get Right Pack" saves the day!

A few weeks ago I tweeted that we should have the entire month of December off to enjoy the season and I mean it. There isn't enough time to prepare or visit with friends & family. The whole month should be full of festive parties, outings, drinks, cookies, pies and twinkly lights.

Sadly, I have to get back to work now. Merry Festivus.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

CVS is S-A-D


While we were on the lam in Canada last year CVS/pharmacy bought Long's Drug's. It was sad news because I and many of my friends loved Long's.

By the way, what's with the slash? Is it a Consumer Value Store Pharmacy, or just a pharmacy, or just a store? Why not CVS Pharmacy? Or are they planning a whole collection of chains, like maybe CVS/oil changers, CVS/smoothie hut, CVS/guns & ammo? The slash is stupid, much like their stores.

Long's was my all-time favorite place to shop, and I hate shopping, but I loved cruising their aisles full of stuff. Where else can you pick up mascara, Kodak Tri-X Pan 400 black & white film, a Faucet Queen thingie for the kitchen sink, Dinty Moore beef stew, a $60 Bart ticket, moist butt wipes AND a nice bottle of wine for dinner all in one place?

Every Long's felt like a quaint, local drug store, regardless of which one you went to. Its many aisles were narrow and jam-packed with all sorts of goodies. All the usual drug store stuff, but also tons of food, snacks, candy, gifts, makeup, greeting cards, jewelry, clothes, housewares, plants, flowers, garden stuff, cameras, film, hardware, ice cream, wine and BOOZE!

When David's parents visited us years ago we stopped at a Long's to grab a few things for the road. In moments, David's mom's arms were FULL of stuff. She found me in another aisle and with big, wide eyes she said, "This store is AMAZING!"

It really was. There was something about it. Every store felt familiar but each had its own funky vibe - you never knew what you might find. A true shopping adventure.

When I heard they'd sold out, I was bummed. Another local business swallowed up by a crappy competitor. (Long's first store was on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.)

The other day I had to find those stupid little batteries for the cat's laser toy. I saw a former Long's/CVS nearby, so I gave it a try. It was every bit as disappointing as I'd expected and more.

Gone were the numerous aisles of good stuff, replaced by a handful of aisles set so wide apart you could cruise them in a forklift. Gone was the classic, bulletproof linoleum, replaced by a sad, depressing dark grey carpet. Carpet? In a drug store? You can't splatter a jar of pickles on that. The stains look great though. Stupid.

I walked around the whole store and mourned. It looked to have a tenth of what Long's used to carry and none of it looked any good. The displays are sad, the merchandising is sad - the whole place is just sad.

Even worse was the staff. I think they grow them in a facility somewhere in Winnipeg. I waited forever behind a woman trying to use a coupon and the cashier couldn't do the math. She had to call a manager, the manager wandered up to check the price of the item - I don't even know what happened after that - I blacked out. When I came to the sun was in a different place in the sky and I wanted to take a long hot shower and curl up in bed.

I was never a huge fan of Walgreen's but I'm going to go out of my way to find a Walgreen's rather than ever step foot inside a CVS/shithole ever again. Long's, it was a bitch move to sell out. You let us down. When I'm old and even crankier, I don't know where I'm going to buy my gallons of Carlo Rossi and tins of Danish butter cookies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to Beat a Speeding Ticket


After extensive research and preparation I successfully beat the speeding ticket I got in September and am extremely excited to share my tips.
  1. Know the law. On your citation will be the violation code - look it up. Mine was 22350: Basic Speed Law. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

    This means, even if I've exceeded the posted speed limit, which was 30MPH in that area, I can legally drive faster than the posted limit IF it's deemed safe given the conditions at the time. So, regardless of what the radar gun said (allegedly it clocked me at 40), I was likely in the clear and had a strong chance of beating the ticket. Had the gun said 70, probably not so much, and of course that has never ever happened. Ever.

  2. Prepare. In addition to knowing the law, prepare your defense and any questions you might want to ask the citing officer. When you get to court, the officer will testify first, then you have the option of cross examining the officer. This is when you can ask, "So?" in reference to going slightly over the speed limit, or "Is this how we protect our communities, citing hard-working Americans who are just trying to make a living!?"

    You can also ask when the last time the radar gun was calibrated, or ask to see the radar gun and point it at the judge or bailiff and see if it detects their speed sitting still. If it reads anything other than zero, you might have a chance of beating it right then. You don't have to ask the officer any questions, but if you want to, be prepared. After the officer testifies, then it's your turn to defend yourself. You can also plead the 5th and not say a word, which seems silly if you've gone to all this trouble to come to traffic court, but that is your right.

  3. Rehearse. Spend every spare moment before your court date rehearsing your defense. If you already talk to yourself constantly like I do, this will be easy. Be sure to stick to the basics - don't go down any tangents that are irrelevant to the case. For example: "Thank you, your Honor. I realize the radar gun may have reported my speed as 40MPH, but given the conditions at the time in that location - a clear, sunny day with excellent visibility and no traffic - I felt I was driving safely in that situation and had no idea I was exceeding the posted speed limit."

    Do not continue on to tell the judge about how you almost stopped for Peet's but thought, Nah, I'll go home & save the $2 and then I can be back in my sweats and bathrobe that much faster and watch some Food Network while I dork off on Facebook for a couple of hours and BLAM! that's when she got me with that crappy radar gun - had I only stopped for coffee this would have never happened, and boy, I can tell you, I'll definitely stop for coffee in the future because now I know those lazy cops love to sit at the bottom of that hill and poach for unsuspecting part-time freelance photographers who daydream about coffee and pancakes.

  4. Wardrobe. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of wardrobe when you attend court. Remember, you're trying to look responsible, but not so fancy like you're too special to get a speeding ticket or attend traffic court with the unwashed masses. You need to look put together, but not so dressy that you look ridiculous for coming to court to fight a $200 ticket. This means leave all the sparkly jewelry at home, along with the designer purse, sunglasses and/or shoes, if you have them. This is easy for me as I have none of these distracting items.

    Do not dress too casual or like an idiot. Not recommended: sweat pants, hoodies, flip flops, wife beaters, stained t-shirts, camouflage cargo pants, super noisy jewelry that clinks when you move, offensive perfume that chokes everyone around you, crazy high heels that scrape the floor like nails on a chalkboard, and absolutely no pants that have words of any kind plastered on the ass.

    For my court date I wore basic black khakis, a clean white t-shirt with a fitted flannel shirt over that, beat up Dansko clogs, a simple silver wedding band, my lucky fire agate ring, lucky necklace and my lucky panties. I may have also tapped every surface I touched three times and promised to volunteer with disadvantaged kids if I got off.

  5. Hair. Wash it. This is non negotiable. Have you ever smelled unwashed hair? I'm on the verge of puking just thinking about it. This has nothing to do with the topic of this post, but this is a huge peeve of mine. If you're going to get up, put on clothes and leave the house, why wouldn't you do all of us a favor and take a damn shower and wash your greasy, smelly head? Please? Oofah - that smell is disgusting. Never mind how it looks - it's the smell. Please. Wash it. Five minutes - what's five minutes to prevent mass barfing?

  6. Be punctual. Get to court on time. If the time says 8:45, get there at 8:30. You'll have to clear security - that reminds me, leave your knives, guns, crossbows, etc. at home - they'll confiscate them at security. You might also need to find parking, pee, and text message your friends about how sucky it is that you had to get up early and go to traffic court and couldn't wear your fleece robe. Well, you could, but...

  7. Check in. When you get to court and the clerk opens up the courtroom to let in the losers attendants, check in once he/she is back at the desk. The bailiff will remind you if you wander in and just sit down.

  8. Wait. Wait patiently in your seat for court to begin and *silently* rehearse your defense. Try not to whip your head around every time someone comes in, wondering if it's the officer who cited you. Act casual. You're confident in your defense. You're a good person and this was just an unfortunate misunderstanding. Try not to look totally effing annoyed that here you are again, wasting valuable time you could be spending catching up on Twitter to deal with this goddamm ticket.

  9. The officer. The officer who cited you will have been subpoenaed to attend court and will likely show up, which is why you need to do your homework and prepare your defense. Do not expect that he/she won't show and you can just stand up when your name is called and have the judge tell you "case dismissed." That would be nice, but it rarely happens. Hours of research, preparation and careful wardrobe selection (including lucky panties) is critical to helping to successfully beat the ticket and get it dismissed. I cannot stress that enough.

  10. Be polite. When the judge enters the courtroom everyone has to stand up as the bailiff announces that court is now in session and the honorable Judge McClearmyticket is presiding. Then the clerk will ask everyone to raise their right hands and swear that the truth is truthy, then you can sit down and wait until the judge calls your name. If you got to court on time to check the docket posted outside, you'll have seen your place in the roll call to know when your name will be called.

    The judge will then explain how traffic court works and often will tell the court that there will be several cases dismissed. He'll then start down the list of cases and one-by-one, ask if the citing officers are present. When he gets to your case he'll first ask if the officer is present. When he realizes she is not, he'll say your name and that's when you stand up and hear him tell you "case dismissed" and the bail you paid will be refunded in time for Christmas. Try to refrain from shouting "FUCK YEAH!" and instead politely thank the judge and skip out of the courtroom and take yourself out to a pancake breakfast.
Hope you found these tips helpful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm OK You're OK


OK?

Paraphrasing something I think Larry David said, every human interaction is rife with potential peril. I appreciate that sentiment now more than ever.

While I do my best to avoid drama, it happens. Sometimes it's for the best and shouldn't be avoided. Doesn't make it any easier. I wish it hadn't happened the way it did, but I can't change it now. I'm sure I could have handled things better, but I can only be myself and do the best I can.

It's been a very difficult week trying to understand what happened and how something that seemed fairly minor became a friendship-ending event. While I take full responsibility for my part in all of it, the other person is convinced that all the blame lies with me.

Switching places for a moment, I can understand the highly emotional reaction that makes me the antichrist, but to accept no responsibility? So much was said by both of us, that makes no sense whatsoever.

What's interesting about having a falling out with someone is what they might try to project onto you, showing you all the things they're really upset about with themselves. The other thing that's interesting is that no matter what you think you know about someone, you only see what they let you see. There's an ocean of shit you can never know until you get into a difficult spot and they reveal things that show you a totally different picture.

What's worse than losing a friend is realizing whatever friendship you thought you had wasn't strong enough to overcome a problem. I don't think you can call anyone a true friend until you've weathered some shit together and found a way to work through it.

It must have been a huge shock to realize I'm not all about cracking jokes and being silly. That's life. It's not all Happy Fun Ball all the time. Sometimes things get sticky and serious. I'm sure it was a crappy way to learn more about me and that sucks.

Overall, it's been a shitty couple of weeks but now it's behind me. Seems better to find out early if someone is too emotionally damaged to meet you halfway than lose a ton of time and energy trying to make the impossible work.

What I'm left with is the reminder to stay true to yourself in all things and no matter what anyone else says, trust yourself and your vision. Onward.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Blog Slackfest 2009


Cheezus crust, I cannot believe how much I've slacked off on the blog. What a loser. No excuses. I haven't made the time. One post for all of October. Happy lazy-ass Halloween.

How can I make the time to write when I've become so accustomed to distilling my thoughts into 140-character tweets? If it takes more than 140 characters to say it, then I'm not editing enough.

On top of that, if I can't be bothered to come up with more than 140 characters, who's going to take the time to read any more than that? Twitter and Facebook have totally ruined my attention span.

But I can't put all the blame on Twitbooking. I've been trying to launch a business. My very own actual little tiny business. Not the kind where I work at home in my pajamas while a big company keeps farming out freelance work to me, though I enjoyed that very much when I could get it.

No, this is an actual business (photography) that I'll be responsible for marketing, promoting, and running - profitably, I hope. It's a ton of work and a bit scary, but it's also a ton of fun. I've never worked so hard in all my life or been so tired, but I'm loving it.

Even more fun, it looks like David scored a sweet job at the studio where he was hoping to work, so it looks like everything is falling into place as it should. The improved household feng shui has everything to do with it. I'm only halfway joking. It doesn't hurt.

Happy November!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mehtag


Before we moved back to Cali, we sold our little Danby dishwasher to our neighbor and bought a full-sized Maytag portable dishwasher when we got back. I was all excited - a full-sized magic cleaning box... and a Maytag! They're great, right? Not so much.

There aren't a ton of options for portable dishwashers but I was happy to find a Maytag in our price range, so I bought it. It wasn't the most expensive model, but it wasn't the very cheapest - or at least I didn't think it was.

We definitely ended up with the budget model. I think it was made from recycled 2-liter pepsi bottles. It pretty much works like you'd imagine a mostly plastic, lightweight dishwasher would. It sterilizes the food/food film on the plates/glasses/silverware, but it doesn't necessarily clean anything. I'm just happy it hasn't leaked, and it does provide another surface for clutter accumulation - always handy.

Now I miss the Danby. That thing worked like a champ. But as long as I pre-clean the dishes for Mehtag, it works great.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lamesurance


[Graphic courtesy of Ms. Crafty - thank you! I'd explain what it means, but it's a long story. A select few will understand its meaning in relation to this post. For the rest, just enjoy the cute, lumbering blue whale that can't seem to not bash itself in the head repeatedly.]

So, I know my story is nothing compared to what many people are dealing with, but I thought it was worth mentioning as another example of how "regular folks" are affected by the lack of affordable coverage for basic care.

Some would say I'm far from regular, but I disagree. I get lots of fiber.

When we got back from Canaduh I signed up for a basic plan from a provider, the name of which rhymes with Flue Yield of Palifornia. Seemed like a good plan that would let me see a doctor if I needed to but not cost a fortune every month. My premium is about $135/month and the deductible is $2,900 per year.

I saw the Caribbean Gyno for an annual exam and had no co-pay. That was cool. The doc wrote me two referrals, one for a mammogram (haven't had one in three years) and an ultrasound to look at one of my ovaries, the one that explodes like a super nova every few months.

She was very helpful, explaining when to schedule the ultrasound during my cycle to ensure the best results and said I could likely get both tests scheduled on the same day. I went away happy to have such a proactive doctor helping me out with my Lady Parts.

Later that week I got everything scheduled - same day, perfectly timed - and felt great about getting that taken care of. Neither test is pleasant, but I was actually excited to find out what might be going on with the ovary. If that thing blows up again, I'm going to take it out myself.

The day before my appointments I got a cryptic phone message from someone at USCF. I called back the next morning and spoke to a friendly guy who explained to me that because my deductible is $2,900, they'd be charging me $700 for the mammogram and $1,500 for the ultrasound.

I thanked him very much for the information and told him I'd be canceling my appointments for the day. I forgot about that big ol' deductible... When my annual exam was covered, I guess I didn't realize the tests the doctor had ordered wouldn't be. Actually, I don't know if my annual exam IS covered... I might get a bill for that at some point.

If I were working full-time or more consistently, I could probably afford $2,200 for standard tests or just buy a better plan that covers them.

The silly thing is, if there is something wrong that requires major care down the road, the insurance company will likely pay out way more $$ than they would if the problem was found (and fixed) much earlier. i.e., If they covered the tests I need now, they'd probably save money in the long run.

But hey, as someone recently said, health insurance is not a right - you get what you can afford. If all I can afford is a plan that prevents bankruptcy, then that's what I get. But I'm paying $135/month, and all that buys me is one annual doctor's appointment and $10 generic drugs? Really?

I would love to see health insurance reform that makes the entire process completely transparent. I want price lists posted on doctors' websites like you'd see for auto mechanics. I would love to see independent audits that keep everyone honest.

The goal now is to work harder at making good money so I can afford the kind of coverage I want. The American way, right? While I'm busting my ass to afford a better plan, Flue Yield of Palifornia will clear another 8 Billion - BILLION - dollars (or more) this year. Billion with a B.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stupid Tired


[before]

We keep waking up soooper tired. So tired that even when we wake up after 7 or 8 hours in bed, we feel like we could sleep all day. I wonder if there's a carbon monoxide leak somewhere, but I'm too tired to find the detector.

I was so tired this morning that after looking inside two different boxes of cereal only to see the bags inside closed up with a "chip clip," I had toast.

It was way too much work to reach inside the box, undo the clip and unroll the plastic bag. Not to mention having to find a bowl, pour the cereal into it, then walk ALL THE WAY over to the fridge - christ, I'm exhausted all over again just thinking about it.

The painting of the soon-to-be-former-blue room has taken nearly a decade, when you include all the years I've wanted to paint it but never made the time. Since before we moved in I've wanted that sad, dreary color sandblasted off those walls.

Well, it's finally happening. After two years off & on - mostly off - as of today we have:
  • stripped the window trim & doors (done two years ago!)
  • spackled four hundred tiny cracks in the plaster walls and ceiling
  • built a proper frame for the access "door" I made to repair the wall the plumbers cut open years ago to fix broken shower pipes
  • sanded more than we wanted to (mmm... lead paint)
  • made & vacuumed up enough dust to clog the estuary
  • ripped out all the window caulking (something we get to redo when we're done painting - yay!)
  • TSPed top to bottom (though, not the ceiling, 'cause who gives a shit if there's stain on the ceiling - there's nothing up there I need to look at)
  • slapped two coats of primer all over that goddamm room
This room has been the worst - way worse than a much larger room where we removed all the wallpaper. Not sure why. I think there's a ghost in there that really loves that shitty color.

Everything takes five times longer than you think it will and now there's a part of one wall where the old paint started peeling up as soon as the primer hit it, so we have to go back & scrape all that off as best we can without destroying the 100-year-old plaster, then hope the primer sticks.

But - BUT - once that's done, the new paint is going up. A warm, inviting, cozy color... dare I say it, something pleasing to the eye. I'm not sure I'll believe it until I see it, on the walls, in real life, instead of tiny paint chips taped onto the wall.

Then, we're gonna move a Barcalounger in there and I'm going to curl up in it and sleep there for seven years.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ads That Fail


A minor thing, but it's irritating the sh*t out of me. I present the following:

The Wells Fargo billboards with the copy, "With you when you have questions." The words they chose to underline? "With you when" Wouldn't the better emphasis be "With you"? We're with you. Regardless. All the time. Always. With you when? I'm not sure - when? Where? Lame.

Next, Kaiser Permanente's billboard promoting fitness/getting outdoors, a nice photo of a trail in the woods with the copy: "Do tread on me" The word they emphasized? - "tread." Not "do," but "tread." Why not "Do tread on me"? Do it! Get off the couch and do it! Or just leave out "do" and make it "Tread on me." Lame.

Then there's the homegrown cable TV ad for a channel that provides info about local road trips. It's a computer animated piece that shows a road winding through a barren landscape, nothing on either side of it, and the road ends at a cartoony sign with the channel info.

So, not only is the "road trip" ad showing you absolutely nothing that might sell you on the idea of a road trip, let alone the idea of tuning into the channel for road trip info, the road DEAD ENDS in that barren landscape. Not at a lovely destination of some sort - beach, amusement park, vista point, mountain lodge or similar - just a barren, empty, wasteland of lame public access cable TV. FAIL.

Finally, the latest BMW ad showing a dufus holding an unlit light bulb in the dark. He's talking about how Americans are so responsible or something, but the bulb is UNLIT and he's standing IN THE DARK.

Not sure what a light bulb has to do with being responsible, except that it is a compact fluorescent bulb he's holding... But wouldn't it have been much more effective, nay, clever, to have the dufus hold a LIT light bulb? Wouldn't that be much more engaging, visually? Hello! Television!

Then, as he's talking about how BMW is committed to helping to lower emissions - I guess they're trying to be environmentally responsible - the room lights up with a million ginormous bulbs that are not CFLs. HILarious. FAIL.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Boobcast

This week I got to be a guest on a friend's podcast on the topic of boobs. I thought I could be helpful. Brought to you by Alan Home on UGTV.org.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Clap?


Lady Parts Alert [LPA] - nothing graphic. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I went to the doctor last week because, well, I was fairly sure I'd come down with a UTI. Nothing serious - it happens, though thankfully this was only the second one I've ever had. But once you've had one, you never forget that special feeling when it's time to pee.

When I first felt the signs I called my doctor, who of course wasn't available to take my call, but I left a message and asked that she call in a Rx for me - usually they'll do this with just a phone call, UTIs are that common for women.

In the meantime, I did some research on those newfangled set of tubes called the interwebs. Turns out, there's a whole new homeopathic remedy for bladder infections, way better than the once tried & true cranberry.

Not that cranberry juice/capsules aren't helpful - cranberry is still a good supplement to help prevent UTIs, but even better: D-mannose. D-mannose is a healthy sugar that occurs naturally in cranberries, blueberries, peaches, oranges, and apples.

However, D-mannose is not well metabolized by humans, so it doesn't affect blood sugar levels - it goes straight to the bladder where its molecules act as a sort-of magnet for the bacteria that cause UTIs. The D-mannose binds with the bacteria and it's flushed out in the urine.

You have to take a lot of it, and it's a little expensive, but the upside is that it's not an antibiotic - that's huge (and you don't have to go to the doctor - also good). The antibiotics can often cause a yeast infection, because they kill ALL the bacteria - wiping out the good stuff that keeps the yeast in check. Who doesn't love a yeast infection on top of a bladder infection!? Party!

The downside is, it takes a while to work, so things are uncomfortable for a few days, and you feel like you have a mild flu. Just to be safe, I saw my doctor so she could test a sample and do a culture and all that fun business. The D-mannose should work, but if the UTI is caused by a different type of bacteria, it may not.

The tricky thing about UTIs, if they're not cured quickly, they can become kidney infections, so it's good to get them cleared up as soon as possible. I'd had mine for about a week by the time I got to the doctor and it seemed like it was lingering. Just in case, she prescribed an antibiotic which I dutifully took because the results from the urine culture wouldn't be ready until after the weekend.

Today I called the office to get the results of the culture. The nurse looked up my file and said, "You're calling about the chlamydia test?" With a gasp I said, "AM I?" I told her I WAS calling about a possible bladder infection, but was there more information I should have?

I heard papers shuffling and then she said, "Oh no, I was looking at the wrong file - here's your results..." Which, interestingly enough, came back negative. That was great news, but certainly a strange way to get it.

The point is, the D-mannose worked. I didn't need the antibiotics and thankfully didn't take very many and cycled in probiotics between doses to try to keep things balanced. Still, if there's any way to avoid that stuff, it's worth it.

Those pills had me woozy, a bit nauseated, tired, and maybe even a wee bit depressed. Maybe I'm just a candy ass, but that stuff is rough. The warnings & list of side effects is frightening.

So, ladies, get yourself some D-mannose and use it like any other supplement - one or two a day and that should help keep the plumbing healthy. Yay, sugar!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Will Blog for $$


I just realized why I don't post as often as I used to. You may not know this - it took me a while to figure it out, because I'm sharp like that - but maintaining your own blog for fun doesn't come with a paycheck.

"Get OUT!" you say! I know, right? I was shocked.

So, as you've probably noticed, the frequency of posts has really dropped off. Not that I've been slammed making money doing something else - I should be, since these bills don't seem to pay themselves - I don't even know what I've been doing.

I got back from Canada in mid July, took a nap and when I woke up it was almost September.

Now I'm panicking because there's no money coming in and I have no effing clue about how to quickly fix that problem. The lottery always works, right? I should remember to buy a ticket.

There are a couple of things in the works but I can't yet feel where I might be headed. Usually I have a sense about what's going to happen and that's pretty much how it goes. Right now, I have no idea what the future holds. The Magic 8 Ball hasn't been as helpful as I'd hoped it would be.

I blame the current lack of feng shui in the house. With one room still unfinished and unable to move in to, the house is still full of boxes & displaced furniture. It's possible that I'll be stuck in this frustrating limbo until we're totally settled.

So that only means one thing. Now that the heat wave has passed, it's time to TSP that stupid room and get it painted ASAP. I might even do some smudging, though the TSP might be enough - that shit doesn't mess around. Whatever might be lingering in there is no match for that potent solution. Did you know, TSP is used as a poultry rinse? Mmm... tasty.

Check back often to find an ongoing lack of new posts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Commercial Break


OK so it's been more of a summer hiatus than a word from our sponsor. I've been bizzy. I've been home for about a month and just found the stove a few days ago.

Still unpacking while painting/updating a few more rooms in the house. It's like moving all over again, every other day. Moved everything into the house, moved shit from room to room, moved it to other rooms, then back into the first room... We'll do this a few more times before we're all done.

We'd left a lot of stuff behind when we moved - partly because we could, partly because family stayed here now & then and needed stuff. That's all dandy, except there was no time to remove the leftovers before we got back.

Also waiting for us when we returned were a couple of assey neighbors. We lost one while we were gone (Crazy Bob finally moved) - we have two more to outlast.

One is the shitty troll on the corner who wants us to cut down the oak tree so leaves won't fall in her driveway, while they hang piñatas in it for the grand kids... The other is the shitty curmudgeon (Plumber Bob) who actively ignores us even when directly across the street with full eye contact.

He's such a treat. He never speaks to us and won't respond to a friendly wave. However, he has no trouble using our recycling bins for his trash.

Last night my next door neighbor came over to ask if she could use the remaining space in our recycling bin, then realized it was full of styrofoam sheeting and plastic tarps. I told her that was odd - we had none of that in the move packing... Turns out her bin was full of it too. It was some sort of spa/hot tub packaging. I told her I'd wished we'd had a new spa...

Whoever dumped it had just done it as we'd both been in & out of the house all afternoon & evening. Not sure what to do about it, I said we could split it up among the trash cans along the street. I went to ask the other neighbors about using their cans.

Shitty Curmudgeon wouldn't answer the door, but I saw him walk by the upstairs window. The other neighbors readily agreed to help dispose of the trash. While talking to another neighbor, he said "Well Bob (Shitty Curmudgeon) just had a spa delivered on Sunday." Hmm... Really.

So, SC gets a new spa and as soon as it gets dark he sneaks across the street to dump his trash in our bins. What a prick! Seems someone's going to have to christen that new spa with a special treat. I'm pretty sure their gate isn't locked...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Telenovela por Kara - 2


Episode 412

When we last left Maria and Pablo, Pablo had just walked in to Los Cha Chas to find Maria…

Maria began to cry and ran to Pablo. She collapsed in his arms and Pablo held her close. Pablo soothed Maria and told her he was there to bring her home. She cried and cried as he walked her out of the club into the blinding light of the midday sun.

Pablo drove Maria to her apartment so she could change her clothes and collect her things. They barely spoke as Maria packed a bag, but they each felt the love and intense attraction they knew years ago - it was like no time had passed. Maria hugged Pablo and thanked him for coming for her. Pablo was overwhelmed by his feelings for Maria - so much so that he broke his vows to God and slept with her. They spent the rest of the day and night making love, though Pablo knew he had to return to the church in Santa Lucia.

When Maria ran away so many years ago, Pablo couldn't imagine loving another woman so he became a priest and devoted himself to the church. He could not return to Santa Lucia with Maria as his bride and cause another terrible scandal and ruin his father's name. Everyone in Santa Lucia knew about Maria and what she had become - they could never be together as lovers, but they could be together...

Maria had sinned in so many ways, this she knew, and Pablo convinced her that the only way she could return to Santa Lucia and be accepted by the community - as well as her father - was to return as a woman of God. Maria would become a nun, just as her father had demanded so many years ago, and no one could ever know that Pablo and Maria had been together. Knowing she could be close to Pablo and would forever have the memory of their beautiful time together in El Paso, Maria agreed.

Pablo and Maria returned to Santa Lucia and Maria moved into the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande. The sisters of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande welcomed the beautiful Maria with open arms, believing that even though she’d committed many sins, she had goodness and light in her heart and would commit to God and live the rest of her life in service to Christ.

Maria found solace and forgiveness in the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande. She began to rediscover her old self, full of love, hope and optimism. Even though she could not be with Pablo, she saw him often in the church and her love for him deepened into something far more meaningful than she could ever imagine. He had saved her, brought her home to her family and gave her a whole new life she could be proud of. Just being close to him in the church was enough to make her happy.

After a few weeks at the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande, Maria began to feel ill. Incredibly tired and nauseated, she retired to her room and told Sister Lolita she was coming down with the flu. Sister Lolita brought Maria soup and cold compresses for her head. Maria rested and tried to recuperate but even after several days, felt no better and began to worry. Sister Lolita insisted she see El Doctor.

El Doctor examined Maria and right away made his diagnosis. Maria was pregnant. Shocked, Maria returned to her room and began to panic. How could she remain a faithful woman of God and have a bastard child? The church and the community would surely cast her out and banish her from the town. Distraught, she went to find Pablo…

DUN DUN DUNNNN!!!

Tune in next time for Episode 413!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Telenovela por Kara - 1


A going away gift of sorts...

Kara, here's the story we started at La Cumbré yesterday when we couldn't hear the telenova on the TV above our table.

See, Maria the nun wasn't always a nun and that child she's holding... that's no orphan...

Episode 411

Maria was a teenage runaway. She left the small town where she grew up when her father forbid her from seeing her true love, Pablo, a boy who lived in the neighboring town.

Pablo's father, Eduardo, worked for Maria's father on his ranch. One day, Pablo came to work with his father and saw Maria washing clothes in the courtyard. Maria's long, lustrous dark hair was getting wet and soapy as she scrubbed skirts in the laundry tub. Pablo was stunned by her beauty and immediately fell in love with her.

Pablo began coming to the ranch every day to see Maria. She would make him lunch and meet him in the hay loft where they could be alone. Maria fell deeply in love with the kind, gentle Pablo and agreed to marry him later that summer.

Maria's father, Don Julio, was a powerful man. He ran a prosperous cattle ranch and owned most of the town's land. When he saw Pablo and Maria together in the stables one day, he fired Eduardo and threatened to kill Pablo (a servant in his eyes). He told Maria he would send her away to Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande.

Heartbroken, Maria made a plan to run away to El Paso and pleaded with Pablo to come with her. Pablo was torn - going with Maria would mean his father would be alone. El Paso was too far for Eduardo to move and he would not give his blessing to a marriage borne from scandal. Pablo stayed with his father and vowed to help support him. Maria left Santa Lucia and vowed never to return.

Once in El Paso, Maria worked odd jobs in restaurants and motels and tried to forget about Pablo and the beautiful life she imagined they'd have together. She grew sadder by the day and soon became bitter. What her father did was horrible but Pablo abandoning her was much worse. She would never trust a man ever again. She wanted some sort of revenge, to torture men, to make them want her but never be able to have her.

Maria quit her menial jobs and became a stripper at Los Cha Chas, El Paso's premier gentlemen's club. Within a week she became Los Cha Chas #1 performer, earning hundreds of dollars in tips every night. It didn't take long for Maria to have dozens of regular customers requesting a Champagne Cha Cha in the VIP room. She could earn thousands of dollars a week working the VIP room, emptying the wallets of the hollow, heartless men who abandoned their wives and girlfriends to watch her take it all off and show them what they could never have.

Over the years, as Maria's fame grew, men from far & wide began coming to Los Cha Chas to watch her dance. One night, a devilishly handsome stranger came to watch her show. After Maria's performance on stage, the stranger requested a Champagne Cha Cha. He said his name was Pedro. Maria felt instantly drawn to him and realized she may not be able to provide a strictly professional Cha Cha.

Once alone with Maria, Pedro offered her $1000 for much more than a private dance. She readily agreed and took his money. She sold herself to him completely and later spent the night with him in his motel room. When she awoke the next morning, Pedro was gone. He'd left another $1000 on the night table with "gracias" written on one of the bills.

Maria felt empty and ashamed. Once again she was alone and abandoned. The inner sadness she'd carried for so long was even greater. What had she become? Who was this person who would sleep with men for money? She wasn't torturing men - she was only torturing herself.

She returned to Los Cha Chas the next day and told the manager she had to quit, that she wanted to return to Santa Lucia and try to make amends with her father and reunite with Pablo. The manager refused to let her go and threatened to call immigration and have her incarcerated.

Despondent and defeated, Maria danced on stage and gave Champagne Cha Chas in the VIP room, but she felt forever changed. She no longer danced with a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye. She had to find a way home, back to the person she once was.

A week after her sad tryst with Pedro, another handsome stranger came to the club, but he wasn't just a stranger - he was a priest. The priest walked directly to the bar and asked to see a dancer named Maria. The bartender went backstage and brought Maria out to the bar. As soon as she saw him, she knew - it was Pablo!

DUN DUN DUNNNN!!!

Tune in next time for Episode 412... (no kidding - it keeps going - it's getting ridiculously long - so, remember, you asked for it!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Phobias


I've developed an exciting new phobia. One thing to enjoy about getting older, every day brings a whole new adventure - a new fear, a new ache, a new thing I can't eat.

While visiting the parents in Bend (Oree-gone), we had thunder storms roll through one afternoon. I was driving back from the store watching ginormous bolts of lightning shoot down from the sky and my first thought was, That's going to come right through my car, into my face, and they'll find me crashed into a tree with most of my face charred off.

I drove the rest of the way hunched down in my seat as if that would prevent the murderous bolts from finding their way to my face.

When I got to the house, I slowly opened the car door to get out, then ran toward the garage thinking that at any moment that bolt would shoot down into my face - always into my face - and my parents would find me in the driveway with most of my face charred off.

Where this came from I can't begin to tell you, but I think it's probably a good thing. One should have a healthy respect for lightning. One shouldn't feel emboldened and confident about standing out in a thunderstorm holding a nine iron into the sky.

Climate change is a real issue, and maybe lightning is much more aggressive and dangerous than it once was. Tough to know for sure, until it shoots down into your face to confirm it, but why not just expect that along with heavier snow storms, more ferocious hurricanes and increasingly torrential rain storms, lightning is more sinister than it was in years past?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Radio Silence


Where to start?

Reader's Digest version - I got the bird home. Came close to having to give him up in Canada or stay there indefinitely waiting for the U.S. government to pull its ginormous head out of its even larger ass.

The morning we were ready to drive south I called Slow Suzy in Virginia. After her last brain cell finally woke up and churned the data, she told me my permits would likely be denied. The best reason she could muster? Because I never had the proper Export Permit.

So, even though I was trying to obtain the proper permits, because I never had one last year, they were going to deny them. Just thinking about that tells you everything that's wrong in D.C.

I explained that we could not stay behind for too long to wait for the permits - new tenants were moving in the following week. She was nonplussed about why I could not leave without my bird. She helpfully informed me that there are many bird rescue organizations in BC that would take him off my hands.

In hysterics, I pleaded with her to talk to whoever she could talk to to find a way to solve this problem. The best she could offer was to have me call her back the next day, but she didn't think the answer would be any different.

After a brief respite in the fetal position on the floor, I pulled myself together and called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife officer at the border - Border Guy. I'd been talking to him since the start of all this bullshit and I told him what I'd learned from D.C. I hoped he could call Slow Suzy and find a way to let me get my bird home.

Border Guy is all by-the-book, explaining that he takes his orders from D.C., but he said I could call his supervisor and see if there might be anything he could do. I was still a blubbering mess so I took five minutes to grab a shower and calm down.

Just as I was drying off I heard my phone's voicemail tone. I'd just missed Border Guy's call. His message said that he'd talked to his supervisor and I should call him back so he could explain the situation. Good news or bad news? What's the situation! Gah!

I called him and heard the best news of my life. Because my permits had not yet been officially denied, they could write me a citation for illegally exporting my bird. Had those permits already been denied, there wouldn't be anything they could do. I laughed and told him I would *love* a citation!

We packed our cars in a crazed panic and sped down to the border with our hair on fire. After clearing the CITES Export Permit on the Canadian side, Border Guy and the vet on the U.S. side filled out their forms, charged me $35 for the vet and wrote me a $275 citation. I was on my way in about an hour with my feathery & furry family totally intact.

I drove the entire way to my parents' house in Bend without the radio. No tunes, no nothing. Just silence. Eight hours of uninterrupted silence. I don't remember what all I thought about, but I thought about a lot. I think I traveled to another dimension.

The next day I turned off the Canadian cell phone. If D.C. has tried to reach me, they're not. I have my stamped, official documents clearing Henry through customs, so Slow Suzy and the entire Department of the Interior can blow me.

Friday, July 03, 2009

U.S. Dept. of Redonkulous


The full name is Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Middle Management Authority, Feet Dragging and Hemhawing.

What a ridiculous exercise this has been. This goes into the If Its Not One Goddamm Thing Its Another file. This is one of the things that sent my stress level through the roof last month and had me hyperventilating daily between bouts of spontaneous crying and hand-wringing.

Here's the thing... we're moving... again. We're moving the household back to Alameda so I can be close to family and go back to work. It's a long story.

I thought it would be somewhat complicated but not redonkulous. We hired an actual moving company this time that will magically load the giant trailer for us and clear our stuff back through customs - all good and a huge relief to have professional help.

On a hunch, I asked our moving coordinator if I had all the proper paperwork to move Henry - the blue-fronted Amazon parrot - back home. My little voice kept nagging at me to make sure. She didn't know but offered to ask around. Thank gawd she did.

See, when we moved here, I took all the kids to their vets and had them checked out, vaccines updated and received State of California Department of Food and Agriculture certifications for international movement of household pets. That's all the vets said we needed. Great!

I don't know why I thought that might not be enough to get Henry home, but I'm glad I asked...

Turns out, we NEVER had the required permits to travel with/move a pet bird. Our vet didn't know about such permits nor did the Canadians who helped us move here. When no one knows about such permits it's tough to obtain them.

I scoured the web trying to make sure we'd have all the required paperwork/certifications when we came into Canada. No website - US Customs, Canadian Customs or any other - had any information about these permits. If they had, well, I wouldn't be writing this post.

If you own a pet bird and are planning to go ANYWHERE outside the U.S. with that bird at ANY TIME - moving, road trip or whatever - you MUST have the following permits:
  • a CITES permit for the transportation of live animals or animal products (pet parrots usually fall into the Appendix II category).
  • a U.S. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Export Permit for a pet bird (PDF form). You may also need an Import Permit as well, to get the bird back into the States.
    -- no ifs ands or buts --
So, I found out about these required permits at the beginning of June. The CITES Export Permit from Environment Canada takes 4-6 weeks to process. The U.S. Import Permit takes at least 4 weeks and up to 90 days to process. The moving truck arrives next week.

Amazingly, Environment Canada was fine with a faxed application and required no fees. The U.S., of course, would not accept faxes or email. Everything had to be FedEx'ed (or snail mailed) and they require a $50 processing fee.

Environment Canada was great. I got the direct number for a lovely woman, Lynn, who helped process my application and couldn't have been nicer. She took the initiative to communicate through email, keeping me updated and letting me know when the permit was issued and on its way. Canada took about a week to process the CITES Export Permit.

As I sit here writing this sorry tale, I'm still waiting on the U.S. permits. They've had everything they needed to process the paperwork for four weeks and I've not heard a word about status.

The woman I've been calling in Virginia - I'll call her Slow Suzy - is no longer returning my calls. Early on, she sounded somewhat sympathetic and like she might make this happen within a month - imagine that - issuing TWO WHOLE ONE-PAGE DOCUMENTS in a month's time. CRAZY!

At first I was told I would only need an Import Permit to get Henry home, but after talking to Suzy and explaining our situation in detail, she said I would need a "retrospective." I believe she meant "retroactive" - a retroactive Export Permit.

Because we never had the proper permits, I moved Henry out of the country illegally. Had Canadian Customs seen him in my car at the border, they would have confiscated him. Without the right permits going back, the U.S. can confiscate him.

To be clear, the bird was never hidden, nor were the cats. When we crossed the border they were all right there in the car. No one asked me for any paperwork or any sort of documentation about ANYTHING we had with us. No one even glanced into the goddamm car to see what was in there. I was ready for them to inspect the car and to hand them all the documents I had - no one asked for anything.

To make matters worse, when Suzy learned we've not been out of the States for at least 12 months, she told me "Oh no, you have a real problem." Why? No one can explain why. Why a U.S. resident cannot return home trouble-free in one month, five, or 15 no one can explain. Free country? I guess not.

So now I'm waiting on Slow Suzy to figure out a way to issue a retroactive ("retrospective") Export Permit and an Import Permit, all by next week. She's had a month to get it done.

Maybe she's required to make the paper on which the permits are printed, then make the ink with which the letters are printed, then weave a decorative border out of flaxen linen and spun gold. Whatever she's doing, she's doing it as slowly as one can move without being declared legally dead.

Bottom line, I cannot leave here with my bird without those goddamm permits in my hand. This is when we should pack Henry a little satchel of food and Gatorade and tell him to fly his ass home.

Even more annoying, I'm playing by the rules and I'm getting screwed up the ass for it. I'm not trying to pull a fast one or cheat the government out of $50 critical dollars. They didn't catch me - I contacted them to get this squared away, and what are they doing? Nothing.

Slow Suzy is sitting on her lazy, government-job-time-wasting ass filing her gaudy acrylic nails and telling her girlfriends about her corns. If I ever meet Slow Suzy one day, I will punch her in her lazy goddamm neck.

p.s. If you ever apply for such permits and your bird does not have a microchip or a leg band, you'll need a letter from your vet explaining why this should not be done - both are very dangerous for birds. But in that letter you can have your vet provide a description of whatever identifying characteristics your bird might have that should help identify your bird as YOUR bird.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Disneyland!


Sort of... Yesterday I went to my type of Disneyland... a cute neighborhood (Queen Anne) in the States where I could get Peet's Coffee, Top Pot Doughnuts and hang out with good friends. I was so excited the night before I had trouble getting to sleep.

(I cannot stand Walt Disney's Disneyland - it should be razed and turned into a giant doughnut factory.)

I zipped down to Seattle to see friends and enjoy a beautiful summer day. And when I say zipped, I mean I zipped down to the border where traffic slammed to a stop for an hour as four thousand other day-trippers and I waited to cross into America.

Being Canada Day - imaginative title, eh? - lots of people went south to play. Canada Day is much like the U.S.'s 4th of July - a holiday spent grilling meats, lighting fireworks and getting shitty drunk in your front yard.

The weird thing is, they take the day off right there in the middle of the week. No 3-day weekend where you have a whole other day to stay drunk then another day on top of that to recover before you have to go back to work. No, you get that one day to live it up and make the most of your holiday before you call in sick to drag your ass into work the next day.

The guy behind me at the border made the most of his holiday by hosting his very own Nostril Drilling Festival. I wish I hadn't seen this but unfortunately I did, and it was a fantastic disaster.

He had no shame. He went to town on both nostrils oftentimes using both the index finger and the thumb. When I first caught sight of him in my rear view mirror I thought he was going for a quick grab and it would be over in a flash. It was amazing to see him keep going at it like a booger-loving badger. Ah-mazing.

A strange way to start the holiday, but my excitement for Peet's could not be dampened. On top of getting a delicious cup of java, I also got to see an Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the SAM, enjoyed a lovely mojito at Shmick's and later, a satisfying maple glazed old fashioned at Top Pot. Yup - Disneyland. Thank you Linda, Alan & Miriam - wonderful day!


t-bird headed south




"Likeaflex Superzoom" late 1970s
Ceramic w/ glaze, metal and leather strap
Fred Bauer, American, born 1937



bootleg phone photo of the exhibit (shhhhh)






Friday, June 26, 2009

The Douchebags


I'm renaming the incredibly lame show "The Doctors" to "The Douchebags." Who's producing this giant turd? It's some of the worst television I've ever seen.

It's not good bad TV like The Hills, it's just terrible, useless and maybe even harmful. (Some would argue the same about The Hills - totally fair.)

I tuned in today because they advertised "the four Fs women fear": Turning Fifty, Fatigue, Forgetfulness and Fat. I was interested in what they might have to say about fatigue.

First - lots of Fs today - the plastic surgeon douchebag (PSD) can't keep his smelly botoxed mouth shut for any length of time, even if they're talking about vaginal discharge. Even the ER douchebag and pediatrician douchebag know when to shut up for five minutes.

So, they're talking about turning 50 and the things we should do to age healthily, such as weight-bearing exercise for bone health. The PSD butts in to start explaining how as we age, our bones which were solid become like a honeycomb.

No one interrupted to correct him. Three other douchebag "doctors" sat there and said nothing. Then the gyno douchebag (GD) went on and on about how great it is to go through menopause and not have periods while we pop pharmaceuticals to rebuild bone.

Everything I've read about bone-building Rx's tells me they're not as great as they'd like you to believe - they might actually be harmful. They tell the body to build new bone, but the old bone that must be reabsorbed/removed is not. This makes the bone, which is naturally somewhat flexible, lose some of that flexibility and is more prone to breaking. Hello?! But the GD thinks it's fine to recommend we start popping prescriptions as soon as we turn 50. Excellent work.

There was absolutely no mention of working closely with a *qualified* doctor to manage hormone and/or bone health, no mention of nutrition or any supplements that could be beneficial. Just "go for a walk when you can and take bone-building Rx's." Fugging quacks - all of them.

When they got to Fatigue, they profiled a woman in her 40s who's been complaining of extreme fatigue for years. They followed her to an endocrinologist's office where the doctor explained all the tests she would run to try to figure out what was going on, but that all her symptoms may not have anything to do with thyroid.

???

That is so ridiculous I don't even know how to describe how ridiculous that is, especially when moments later the very same doctor said her test results came back as HYPOTHYROID and that SHE'S BEEN HYPOTHYROID FOR YEARS. What the brackafracka?

So, they show her in the doctor's office with the doc telling her all her symptoms may have nothing to do with thyroid, then later it's the PRIMARY CAUSE? Douchebags! What is the fricking point of that?

The *one* thing the endo douchebag (ED) mentioned that I found interesting was B12. The fatigued woman was very low on B vitamins, so it was recommended she eat red meat more often and/or take supplements. The woman said after she had a B12 shot she felt better right away.

In the past week I started supplementing with B12 and it might be helping. I've also had steak a couple of times in the last week and I'm feeling much better now than I have in weeks.

But I lost 40 minutes of my life to this stinking dung pile of a show. Not only is the show totally disorganized and a stupid free-for-all with PSD constantly chiming in about shit he knows nothing about, they give out ridiculously incomplete information and cannot spend a quality amount of time on any one topic because they have commercial breaks every 45 seconds.

They're making shitloads of money on advertising but they're not supplying any useful information. It's one giant popcorn fart after another. They should all be fired. As in, lit on fire fired.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Adrenals Adrainals


So... I've been reading about adrenal fatigue. Why? I have that sort of free time. And I'm wondering why I don't have enough energy to make a maple syrup & bread sandwich, but if I did, I'd make and eat fourteen of them in one sitting.

A few weeks ago all sorts of shit started hitting a big frickin fan. I'll bore you with those details another day, but it was a giant stress shot in the ass.

It was a rough few days, but then things mellowed out somewhat. Now I'm dealing with its aftermath. It's like having a mild case of mono, which if you've ever had mono, even "mild mono" makes you want to sleep for a year.

Even when I get to bed on time or early, I wake up tired. After feeling OK for about an hour, I'm ready to collapse back into bed. When I get in bed at night, I lie awake trying to shut off my brain and it takes forever to get to sleep.

I spend all day dragging my ass wherever I have to drag it, and if I don't have to drag it anywhere, I park it in a chair or on the couch. I feel OK again for about an hour in the evening, then I can't wait to crawl into bed.

Even though the PMS has long since come and gone, I'm craving sweets & carbs like an addict. Way worse than usual. No amount of coffee makes any difference - no jolt whatsoever. And out of nowhere, I'm having trouble with hay fever. I haven't had allergy trouble in years.

The writing project I was excited about a couple of weeks ago is a distant memory. I tried to work on it yesterday and put in maybe half an hour before I had to lie down. I've had headaches - no migraines - but I'd been headache-free for many months. I haven't run in three weeks. Not even to the fridge.

So I Googled "constant fatigue craving sweets" and found a few articles on adrenal fatigue. It makes a lot of sense. After years and years of stress, it seems plausible that at some point the adrenals say Enough! and go on strike.

Then I thought about past stresstivals and how I felt physically in the weeks or months afterward. I remembered at least a few occasions where after dealing with enormously stressful events, there was a time afterward of feeling physically drained and generally unwell. The recovery period seemed to be proportionate to the stressful period - the longer/more stressful the event, the longer it took to recover.

The worst thing I read about adrenal fatigue... you have to avoid sugar and caffeine. How cruel. I'll get back on the Greens Today and keep napping til this passes. I suppose I could see a doctor, but they're full of shit. I bet they'd try to tell me Paxil's been approved for treating doughnut cravings.

More about adrenal fatigue:

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Not The Heat


It's the cacophony.

It's gotta be age. It's gotta be getting older that's made me less tolerant of certain things, like bullshit, onions, and noise.

I don't remember being so annoyed by noise when I was younger. But I drank a lot in college, so there's much I don't remember.

All week it's been one noisy assault after another and I'm ready to buy a high-powered rifle.

There's a house next door that's been under renovation since before I got here last year. It looks perfectly fine from the outside, but they've been slowly tearing its insides apart and putting it back together, one screw at a time, for an entire year. They must charge by the month.

Most of the work has been fairly quiet - pickup trucks coming & going, large trucks delivering appliances, nothing too disruptive. Then this week began Monster Renovation Week!!!

On Monday they brought out a power washer to strip the old paint off the front steps. A power washer so loud, it sounded like they were in my house power washing the shower.

In the backyard, another guy was running the weed eater. This went on for hours. Around noontime I walked over to ask how much longer I would be without the ability to hear myself think.

Power Washer Guy claimed to not know English. He walked me to the backyard to talk to Weed Eater Guy. WEG translated and mercifully, PWG said he'd only need about 20 more minutes on the front steps. Then WEG said after that, they'd have to do the back deck. Fucking hell.

It's the decibels and the endless onslaught and the constant RAWRR of the generator as he revs it up and down. It echoes off of every other house on the street - it's everywhere and it never ends.

I get it - the guy has a job to do. But would it be the *worst* thing to WORK QUICKLY with the goddamm head-rattling machine? He was moving at a glacial pace, happy to power wash the goddamm stairs all goddamm day.

They finally finished about an hour later and I was able to relax. It was quiet for a while until people started to get home from work.

I guess because it usually rains all the time, whenever it's not raining, people flock outside to do yardwork while they can. Every day it's not raining. Every goddamm dry afternoon you hear the goddamm lawn mowers, weed eaters, hedge clippers and leaf blowers start up all over the goddamm neighborhood. They keep going until it's dark, about five hours later. Every goddamm day.

If you're trying to watch the news or listen to the radio while enjoying a cool evening breeze from an open window, forget it. Might as well throw some marbles into your blender & fire it up.

Day after day, it's been one noisy project after another. Wednesday morning's wake up call was at 7:30 a.m. with what sounded like boulders being pitched into a giant dumpster.

So, so, SO annoyed, I screamed out the window, "IT'S NOT EVEN 8 O'CLOCK YET!" and it went quiet. It stayed quiet until 8 a.m. on the dot, and then the boulder pitching began again.

Later when I went out to run errands I saw they were tearing off the old roof to replace it. Awesome.

We endured More Boulder Pitching Thursday and then this morning began Electric Nail Gun Friday. The best part? They had to use our power for the nail gun.

New Roofer Guy came over early this morning just before 8 a.m. to sheepishly ask if he could "borrow" some power for a few hours because they blew the circuit yesterday.

Feeling generous, I told him he'd have to ask our landlord downstairs. She's usually not up until after 9 or 10 on her day off, so I thought she'd enjoy an early start to her day. She must have said yes, because the nail gun was rat tat tatting moments later.

If it's not one neighbor it's another making all sorts of goddamm noise and I don't understand why they have to do it so goddamm often. Is it because hockey season is over?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They All Grunt a Little


Woke up to very dark, overcast skies this morning so I crawled back into bed after feeding the lions.

I tried to sleep in but was already too awake, so I watched a little "Breakfast Television" - a local TV news show on Vancouver's CityTV.

Never tuned in before this morning. I hope someone else was watching.

The hosts are chatty and bubbly and annoying and at one point they were talking about female tennis players that grunt and make a lot of noise when they play.

They cut to the guy who's supposed to be the serious news anchor, supposedly a tennis fan, to help name some noisy players, and he says in all seriousness, "They all grunt a little after smoking the ball."

They cut back to the bubbly hosts - one was holding her head in her hands and her co-host sat staring into the camera wearing a frozen grin, unable to react to what had just been said on live TV.

They cut to a split screen with the hosts and the serious news anchor who desperately tried to distract us all from what he'd just said by babbling on about tennis as the hosts sat silently waiting for him to stop.

Thankfully, it was time to show us the clogged roads. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's show.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Doctors Suck


Happened to catch this show on TV yesterday, Mystery Diagnosis, and it made me angry at doctors all over again.

Most seem totally unqualified to be doctors and not even fit to be plumbers. Plumbers are much more thorough about finding and fixing the problem.

Here's a fantastic example of how doctors FAIL, and at something so simple. So simple they should be slapped so hard in the mouth they forget they're doctors and go become janitors.

A woman in seemingly perfect health goes from a size 2 to a size 20 in a matter of a few months with most of the weight gain in her abdomen. She has numerous other symptoms I won't bother to list, but all are completely abnormal.

She sees doctor after doctor after doctor who cannot figure out what's wrong with her. For seven years this goes on as she tries everything she can think of to deal with her symptoms, hoping on every birthday and Christmas that by the next birthday or Christmas someone will help her.

Totally fed up she decides to take matters into her own hands and gets a hold of her medical records. She reads through all the tests and results to see her cortisol levels are WAY too high - ridiculously high. It was right there in her records, but NO ONE SAW IT. Or more accurately, no one bothered to read her goddamn records that were right there in her goddamn file.

She goes online and starts to research high levels of cortisol. In five minutes she diagnoses herself with Cushing's Syndrome.

Seven years. Seven years she tried to get one doctor, any doctor, to help her, and none of them could. Five minutes with her own file and she diagnosed the condition. She was a flight attendant. No medical background of any kind. Doctors - FAIL.

How hard would it have been for one doctor, in the dozens and dozens she saw, to take five minutes to read her lab tests? What colossal lame bags of shit.

So they're not all endocrine specialists - fine. But if the patients can use Google, can't the doctors? Too busy golfing and writing out useless prescriptions?

ARGH! Makes me so mad!

I have to wonder, if we're trusting these people with our lives, why don't we require all doctors to take annual refresher courses and certifying exams to remain practicing physicians? Fail the course and you're on probation until you learn it and pass the test. Can't pass it within a required timeline? You lose your license.

Even my mechanic has to take ongoing training to remain certified to work on my car, but my doctor can graduate med school, complete a residency, then not take another course or exam for 20 years and still remain qualified to do the job? Hardly.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Remember...


...I'm radioactive. - Steve Martin

We're in the thick of hairball season here in PoCo. Almost every day we find a large, slick, fuzzy casting in the middle of the floor/rug/carpet/hallway. The collection is impressive. They really soak up the varnish nicely.

What I really need is a house with all-tile floors and drains every few feet or so and a fire hose. I suppose that would mean having all plastic furniture. The static electricity in the winters would be brutal. Maybe rubber instead. Or silicone. Stain-free, odor-free, fire hoseable furniture. I like it.

Ooh, but the electronics... OK, all-tile floors with drains and a fire hose, all silicone furniture and electronics housed in waterproof, deep-sea-worthy cabinets. The walls we could paint with marine paint over Tyvek-coated wall board.

Here's a random solicitor for you... the other day I hear a gentle tap at the door, a friendly, sounds-like-your-neighbor-just-popping-by-for-a-quick-chat sort of quiet knock, so I go to the door & open it up only to see a somewhat frazzled-looking guy I've never seen around here before.

He's standing back from the door a few feet, which is good I think, because I don't know who the hell he is or what he wants, and he starts telling me, in a shaky, quiet voice, how he's run out of gas and his bank card isn't working, and might I have any bottles I could donate?

This is when I couldn't be happier about having lived in downtown Oakland and the TenderNob, where I wore a constant, stony expression of barely-restrained homicidal rage and almost-suicidal indifference. This is the face I wear every time I open that door.

Before he'd finished his ridiculous question I blurted out No and shut the door.

Any *bottles* I could donate? How are you going to get all these bottles you're asking for to the recycling center to get those shiny nickels to pay for a litre of gas when you've RUN OUT of gas?

Did he go to every house on the block with this idiotic story? Do most people in these parts say Oh sure and leave the door open while they go about collecting bottles and cans for the drifter at the door? Does he think I don't watch TV and know just about every trick in the book to gain entry into someone's house?

Wellllll mister, I do! I DO watch WAY too much TV and I don't care if you're bleeding out your eyes and have asked me for a tissue. Piss off! Don't make me get my bat! I'll give you something to cry about! Now get off my property! Well, actually, we're renting. Good luck with the recycling!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Catching Up With Your Past


There's really no escaping it, for better or worse.

Things I thought I'd dealt with and cremated are coming back to life almost in front of my eyes. This sludge bubbling up from the depths is making icky puddles in what I thought was a healthy patch of grass.

It's stuff I don't know what to do with. I've run out of mental cartons. Like the stuff that keeps piling up on my kitchen counter. I have no real place to put it.

I need to purge this crap from my head, but I'm not ready for a lobotomy. And there's no Goodwill drop-off for this kind of crap. What a sad thrift store that would be. Thousands of urine-stained mattresses.

The Universe has a way of forcing us to confront our issues. Change it or accept it and move on, but you won't be able to escape it. Not for long.

One thing, or person, I'm glad to have not escaped entirely just got in touch with me through ye olde past-facer, Facebook. He was a friend from my former life and when I left that life, I cut all ties to it. My own witness relocation program.

He happened to speak with the ex (after 12 years of cutting him out of his life) and afterward, felt compelled to track me down to tell me I'd done the right thing. That was great. It's been 13 years since we last spoke and after exchanging emails, it was like no time had passed. He's still a solid, good person and it's a pleasure to be reconnected.

As for the other crap, I expect The Universe will help me build the appropriate cartons to cram all that negative shit into and light it all on fire. But I need to do it quick because I'm running out of space.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Stayin Glued


I know my last couple of posts reveal that I'm coming unglued. I am. Or was. Today was better. Made good progress on one hurdle that I hope to clear in another week or two.

The intense leg workout I did the other day helped take my mind of things, giving me a whole new problem to focus on - walking properly.

The stress must have acted like PCP or something, making me immune to pain or fatigue. It wasn't the day after the workout that really hurt, it was the next. Sitting down and standing up have been difficult, as has not walking like a robot. I think you could bounce a bowling ball off my hamstrings.

And this morning I managed to sleep in until 9:30, which might as well be noon for me. Dawn here is at 4 a.m. I know this because my bladder is often done sleeping by then and forces me to get up and deal with it. I'm amazed at how light it is at FOUR IN THE MORNING.

(BTW, it does not stay light here until 10 or 11 p.m. Sun goes down around 9:15 and it's dark soon thereafter.)

After I had a pee, I went back to bed and slept 'til 7, when it's time to feed the lions. I woke up and noticed something on the floor near the closet. Two small brown items. Yup. Two tiny cat turds had been deposited on the floor on my side of the bed. How cute.

"Someone" obviously had trouble dropping off the last two kids at the pool so she left them with me.

Once the horror dissipated, I got up, found the rubber gloves and the Lysol spray cleaner with bleach and cleaned it up. Then I fed the lions, washed up and crawled back into bed.

With a little extra sleep, it felt like a better day. We had waffles, watched the French Open final and later I watched the Prefontaine Classic. Very cool. Got some laundry done and finally did a few days' worth of dishes.

While I was folding clothes, "someone" hacked up a ginormous hair ball. We almost named it. I put down the clothes, found the rubber gloves and the Lysol spray cleaner with bleach and cleaned it up.

There are days when it feels like I have kids, when I'm cleaning up poo one minute and barf the next. Thankfully I don't have to change their outfits every few hours when their diapers leek - I just change them for the fun of it.

I don't know how it's all going to work out, but I have faith that it will. It always does. Somehow. Say it along with me, 'It always works out. It always does.'