PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: foibles (page 2 of 2)

The (Self-Appointed) Spelling and Grammar Police Are Having A Week.

I don’t claim to have perfect grammar, spelling, or even spectacular sentence structure. I do, however, make every effort to use correct spelling and proper grammar, and I try to limit the number of sentences I start with the word “so”, as that is a particular weakness of mine.

This week has been a bit crazy, hectic, stressful, you name it – but I have been provoked twice now to actually yell at the television because of spelling and grammar. The Fox 4 morning news crew are a fun bunch, but a couple of them just cannot get the proper use of the word “good” versus “well”. I finally had to post on their Facebook page because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Don Harmon, the weatherman, had just finished saying “Slow..ly. Slowly. I think that’s right.” And then Mark Alford responded with something like, “It’s going good out there.”  My post:

Way to go, Don, properly identifying adverbs! (slow-LY!) You are correct!
Next, let’s get Mark telling the world things are going WELL instead of
‘good’, since that is not proper grammar and it makes me yell at him.
Thanks!

To his credit, Mark actually responded with humor, saying “im well with that!” I may have to go down there with a ruler and rap some knuckles. Actually, it would be rather fun to have a paintball gun and every time an egregious grammatical mistake is uttered, KAPOW! I would also shout what they should have said, since I’m quite good at that already.  The traffic guy should be very afraid if this comes to fruition.

Which brings me to this morning, when KSHB (NBC)  flashed up two different slides (the typed-up cards on their template background that accompany the anchors while they’re talking) with horrid typos. The first one was about the new television season, and that production had “haulted” on a show. Uh, wtf is that? You can haul things, but you don’t hault them. Then, THEN, the next story was about – wait for it – BOAL GAMES. This is not the closed-captioning system translating, this is someone typing it in for the day’s stories. Seriously, I think six-year olds know how to spell “bowl”.

I think what bugs me in all of this is that even though I don’t hold my local media outlets to the standards I would hold, say, the New York Times, I do expect a certain amount of accuracy and I expect a whole lot of proper grammar. This isn’t a reality tv show, this is the news. Manufactured, selective, tilted at times, sensationalist most of the time, but you are still THE NEWS. And in ignoring grammar and spelling, it feels like we are moving yet another ten paces closer to accepting an unacceptable level of national stupidity. Why not just start typing it all in phone-texting style? Hell, start doing shots of Jager during the news, why wear a tie, or a nice pantsuit (Katie Horner, I’m lookin’ at you), just wear swimsuits or dress like the cast of Jersey Shore? Talk smack, talk trash, why have standards at all? Editorialize while you’re at it!

Nevermind me, I’ll still be getting my real news from NPR. I have never heard Steve Inskeep say “Things are going good!” And I’m GREAT with that.

Just Breathe

So, fair warning. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and yes, I’ve written about 30 different blog posts in my head. So many things I’m thinking about, so many things I’d like to say, some of which I shouldn’t, some of which I won’t. I had been thinking, OK, let’s get back in the swing of it, put the thoughts to keyboard, and had planned on writing something today.
Just not about this.
Fair warning again. It’s so gross.
I got some things done this morning, met a rep for lunch, and went to the grocery store. Got my car washed, filled up Mimi with gas, and headed home. I’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend, but I’m also looking forward to my evening out with knitting peeps and having some laughs. I decide to leave Mimi in the drive, as that will make it easier to get the groceries in, and after all, I’m heading back out later.

None of this is interesting, or of note, or even that different. I push open the door, the alarm warning goes off, the dogs greet me, and I walk through the breezeway and into the dining room. I am carrying as much as I can, and it’s funny how your brain multi-tasks: Make sure dogs don’t go out into the garage (as they could get out of the house or, more likely, attempt to eat all the dog food out of its bin.) Have a very short amount of time to get to the alarm, which we don’t have right by the door on purpose, so don’t dilly dally. Note that answering machine is blinking. And through all of this, Olfactory Gnome wakes up and starts sending up red flags. Alert! Alert! Something smells…… and something smells …… BAD.
Then I see it. Because now I’m across the dining room and about to enter the kitchen, only it is a mine field of dog diarrhea. One main source, but there was some travelling and then some tracking to boot. The smell is overwhelming and the alarm is still going. I think, “Do I tell the alarm company when they call that I just couldn’t cross a river of dog shit to turn it off? Would they accept that?” I think, no, I have to turn this off and so I do my own version of a Highland jig through our kitchen, screaming “BACK! BACK!” because Tripper is now eagerly following behind me and I all can think is we’re both expanding the cleaning area exponentially. I get the alarm turned off, the dog has retreated, and I repeat my jig back across the tile, breathing through my mouth.

Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, Philosophical Gnome asks the question, “Which would you rather clean up? Dog vomit, or shit?” Well, duh, the answer is neither, but I’m going with vomit. Unless it’s just hardened overnight poop, which is unpleasant but nothing compared to the chore ahead of me. I get the rest of the groceries in the house, shut the garage door, and strip down to skivvies to handle the worst of it. (After all, nobody needs their clothing dragging through it to boot.) Paper towels everywhere, and copious amounts of plastic grocery bags. Yes, they may be evil but lord help me, this is why they’re on earth. I get out two trash bags. The Swiffer Wet Jet, a huge stack of mop pads, and I tackle it.

Partway through, I realized I sounded like Darth Vader trying to say the word “Halal.” (Hey, we don’t know if Darth needs his meats butchered according to Muslim law.) For to just breathe through one’s mouth is not enough – the stench was so horrific. I was trying to block my sinus passages with my tongue, which leads to very raspy, labored-sounding breathing. hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh. The anal-retentive chef from SNL has nothing on me. Everything is multiple-bagged, and then I mopped. And then everything went into another trash bag, while I still hhhhhhhhaaaaaaalllllaallllllllhhhh’ed around and took the trash to the garage. I’m dripping with sweat, I shoo the dogs outside while holding back dry heaves, and get the rest of the groceries put away. My phone’s ringing, I’m having a Silkwood Shower in the sink, I get a candle lit to put on the stove, and finally sit down in front of the fan to cool off.
Only to hear a huge clap of thunder roll overhead.
Dogs are hurried back into the house, and I throw my top back on, because remember? Freshly washed car sitting in the driveway. At this point? I can’t be bothered with pants. Yep. I did a SWAT-team-esque run to my car (only potentially being in-sight of someone driving by for all of 3 seconds) to get it put back into the garage before the heavens opened up.

Which, fifteen minutes later, they have yet to do. I didn’t need to crouchingly shuffle to my car half-dressed, but I did. And I didn’t really care if someone happened to drive by at that exact moment.

Basically? This is my life. I have a lot of good things in my life, and I’ve reflected a lot on the past year, over these past few weeks. Losing my job, almost a year ago, was really shitty. It was also really good. I haven’t done all the things I thought I’d do in that time, but I also haven’t gotten sick, had stupid office politics/turmoil with people clawing to climb over you or tear you down. Did you notice that first one? I haven’t gotten sick. No cold. No bronchitis. No walking pneumonia, for the first time in many, many years. I miss a couple of my clients, and I miss not worrying about money as much, but there’s really very little to miss about my former job except a couple of friends. The limbo, sometimes, gets to me. But I’m not all that different from most of the people out there. I noticed there’s a Facebook group making the rounds, “Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.” and it’s really true. These aren’t easy times. When stressed and/or depressed, it’s even easier to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. And alone. But we’re not. So many people are riding this same current, and so it’s those moments of connection, we need to make them and find them and enjoy them. Because when I was at the grocery store, the checker asked me to put the big sign on the end of her checkout stand, that said “THIS LANE CLOSED”. I did, making sure I put it right on the spot where the belt wouldn’t grab it. Helping someone out. So imagine my surprise, as I’m finishing up paying, I see this very old lady in my peripheral vision, standing next to me. I look down, and she’s got items on the belt. I actually did a double-take, like, WHa? I swear I put that sign there, nobody’s supposed to be behind me, and I look at the checker, who’s looking at me and has seen my whole WTF reaction. I raise one eyebrow at her. She starts giggling. My eyes shift over towards granny, then back to her. Oh yes, the sign was there. Granny just decided to say “Fuck it” to the sign and what was anyone going to do? I don’t have to say a word, my face says it all. The checker is shaking her head, she gets it too, and is shaking with laughter. I’m chuckling, still with an eyebrow hitting my hairline, and we went on from that moment. That moment, those are the moments I seek in life. When we can look at each other and just laugh because there’s no point in getting mad, there’s no issue of race, or religion, or age, or income, or anything, it’s just fucking funny.

And when the shit gets too high, just take off your pants, light a candle and breathe: Hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh.

That Reign of Terror is Over

Let’s talk about office bathrooms. No, I’m not going to go there. Though the fact that our office is located on the first floor of the building, we do get a fair amount of SecretPoopers(tm) who come down to use our bathroom, so they can sustain the impression in their own office workspace that they NeverPoop(tm). Eye roll, please.

First of all, the facilities were remodeled to make them ADA compliant, and in losing one bathroom stall, we have one stall that is a Toilet Suite. Of course, the toilet is still smack up against the wall next to the other stall, and there’s just a giant expanse that even goes around a tiny corner, where a very slim, mean-spirited person could hide and give someone the surprise of their life, if they were to leap out screaming at the right moment. Let’s hope that never happens. I’ll even admit I give it an extra eyeball just to be sure nobody’s back there.  However, I’ve often looked at that space and thought about how you could put a chair, ottoman, reading lamp and accent table, and still leave the stall feeling roomy and quite at home. The cleaning lady does kinda use it for her office, sitting in there, talking on her cell phone.  (I say that jokingly, though she will just sit in there and yap, and I always wonder what the person on the other end thinks as the other toilet auto-flushes.)

But the reign of terror I’m referring to is the paper towel dispenser. When I started there, I found myself instantly at odds with the machine. It was an automatic one. You’d wave  your hand under it, and sometimes, if the sensor was feeling generous, you’d get a towel. A small shred of a towel that was barely sufficient to dry one hand. Not two. I don’t know about you, but I wash both my hands as a general practice. So that necessitates a second hand-wave, which would often be more resistant than the first, because OMG no WAY you are OVER USING the TOWELS and you’d have to keep flailing your hand about until you got your second half-sheet. Or not. And for whatever reason, the effort to get the second towel would usually result in the machine jamming. Often times,  the first attempt jammed, too. The small print on the machine told you to use the manual feed button if the machine malfunctioned. Oh rilly? What manual feed button? Because all there is on the side is a dummy button that has been put over the feed, to prevent the Johnson County Paper Towel Insurgency from stealing your precious paper towels by the yard.

Frustrated, one day, I discovered that I could just pull the whole front metal piece up! and pull down and tear off the towel amount that I needed. I felt scandalous and vindicated all at once. (Lookit me! Tear that mother UP!)  Eventually, the machine malfunctioned so much, often a roll of towels would sit on the counter, for you to tear off. (Let it be noted that I never took anything APART, I just used my noggin to get at the towels.)  While I was annoyed at this situation, it wasn’t until some maintenance was being done and the bathroom was closed, that I discovered on the second floor, the paper towel dispenser was NOT flawed, it distributed a generous amount of towel, and it had a working manual feed, and I felt that it was truly the curse of the first floor location and the higher traffic.

Finally, I asked my female co-workers if they carried the same annoyance level that I had towards the paper-towel machine, and that’s when I learned that we were actually getting a NEW machine in a few weeks. This one works so well, it often spits out a second towel for the next person. I haven’t even had to investigate the manual feed.

So, that reign of terror in my life is over. It really is the small things, sometimes.

Circle of Life

Well, this is not an easy story to tell. But I’ve managed to tell it a few times now, and I even see the humor in it – hell, part of my brain even saw it in the moment, so I’m going to give it a go. If you’re exceptionally tender-hearted, then I suggest you go look at chinchillas and come back another day.

For those following on all fronts, you might have seen some exasperated plurks/tweets earlier this week (Tuesday), in which I screeched about a particular bird that was making a ruckus outside, so loudly I wanted to go and shoot it. Said bird kept up the racket all afternoon. When James came home from work, he noticed it, and decided to investigate. Turns out? We had two baby ducklings hanging out by my herb bed, and he got a small net and a box, and scooped them up.

I immediately changed from “goddamned bird” to “omg! SQUEE THEY ARE SO CUTE!” and while he went off to look for the momma duck, I tried to pick them up in the box. Fleet little creatures, ducklings are, but eventually, I scooped one up and delighted in its softness, beauty and fluff.

Tripper, meanwhile, walked by and saw the other duckling and went, CHOMP, and scooped one up in his mouth. Horrified, James and I both screamed at him, he dropped the duckling, I put him back in the box – where he died, 15 seconds later.

Fuck. My. Life. James took the dogs inside, and I removed the duckling from the box, and burst into tears. Now, see, most people, at the very beginning of this story, where I say, “Two baby ducklings…” have an instant transformation in their expression. They know. They understand, the doomed nature of ….. Nature. But not me. I think everything can be rescued, everything can be saved, just work hard enough and everything turns out alright. And so, suddenly, this dead duckling exploded into a personification of all the stress and angst with job-related things, that no matter how well-intentioned or hard you might be working, a giant black lab can come along and just pluck you out of your existence.

I pulled myself together, put the (now lonely) duckling in the box, and went inside.

Somewhere in the next fifteen minutes, a small case was made (again) for chickens. If we had a chicken tractor, we could just throw the duckling in there, and he’d be fine. We discussed options. Keeping said duckling, raising him. But I searched online, and there wasn’t a lot of hope or options there. Plus someone made the point that one duck is a very lonely duck. We still have a goodly number of feral cats around, and those probably created this very predicament in the first place. James boiled it down to two choices – he could take care of things, or I could take the duckling, try to find a pond with a duck family on it, release the duckling, and hope for the best.

I put some paper towels in the bottom of a Costco-sized Contadina Tomato Paste box, put the duckling inside, and into the Murano we went. James advised me to drive along Blue River Road, which truly is a beautiful stretch of asphalt tucked away in the city. I’d never been on it, so after veering off Bannister by the Federal Complex, I found the road and headed south. There were parks, and even some ponds, but I couldn’t spot any ducks, and even though there were cars parked in places, I also couldn’t see any people. Because it felt pretty isolated, I didn’t feel completely secure just getting out and tromping around. So I kept going. And going. And going. Until I got to Blue Ridge, and then I knew I had to start heading back towards home. I drove up Holmes, and spotted a great pond – but no ducks. And there was a strange woman parked there and the signs said “No Trespassing”, so I continued to look. I figured I wouldn’t be able to just roll on in to a golf course, but then I thought – Mt. Moriah! Yes! Cemeteries often have ponds, reflecting pools, etc. And as the sun inched towards the horizon, I found myself rolling through the placid hills and then – yes – there it was. Two large pools of water. I made my way towards them.

The good thing about hanging out in a cemetery is that nobody really pays attention to you. Most of the people there are dead, and the ones who are alive are focused on one or two spots. It’s a serene place, and I actually used to study in cemeteries in college, just to find complete isolation (and I was in my Harold & Maude stage).  So I drove around, waited for some people to leave that were nearby, and approached the pond furthest from the grave sites. No ducks, but there were a large number of geese. Birds of a feather! The ugly duckling. Surely, these feathered relatives would take on a lonely duckling.

Now, again, a good percentage of you have changed your facial expressions. I’ve watched it happen this week, again, at this point in the story. But I didn’t know. I know geese can be territorial, but I had no idea they’d be so discerning that they’d immediately know this ball of fluff was NOT of their species, and would proceed to peck him to death.

But that didn’t happen. Because that would have been pretty horrifying for me, yes, and I would have probably gotten into a goose fight and I really cannot imagine how that might have unfolded, except I probably would have been brought home to my husband by the South Patrol and asked to never enter Mt. Moriah Cemetery again.  Yet, tragedy was still inevitable, though I didn’t yet know it.

I released the little duckling within a dozen yards of the geese. He immediately turned and started running back at me. I thought, “OH SHIT, he’s already imprinted on me and now I’m going to HAVE to take him home and raise him, there is no other option.” Except he kept running. Past me. Towards the car. OK, dude, you really wanna go back with me, hm? No. You want to run away from me, and we’re going around and around and around the Murano.

I did stop and think, well, I’m in a cemetery. People who are grieving do crazy things. If I don’t do this TOO long, it will just slide by and people will not come over here to figure out what in hell is going on and why this fat lady is going around and around her car with a large Contadina Tomato Paste box, scooping at the ground.

Pretty soon, the duckling figured out that the same run/hide/evade experience could be had by just going around and around the back wheel.

We did this for fifteen minutes.

Finally, I gave up.

I told myself, “Ok. I’m going to get in the car. He’s on the inside of the wheel, so I will edge forward very slowly, and he will either be adopted by the geese, he will wander off on his own, or – worst case scenario – I will run over him, but at least it will be quick.”

And I look in my rear-view mirror, fully expecting to see a wandering duckling.

Nope.

I ran over him.

Of course I did. If we were going to sustain this giant emotional snotball of a metaphor, OF COURSE I HAD TO RUN OVER THE DUCK.

I just shook my head. Went home. James came in from the yard and said, “So, how’d it go?”

I replied, “The only way it could have gone, really.” And cried in his arms.

See, I know. I KNOW this is funny in a tragi-comic sort of way. But at the same time, I marvel at my naivete. My desire to fix and solve, a desire that is untouched by reality. I don’t think I would change that part of me, there’s enough inside me that is jaded and bruised and sharp. But oh how it stung.  I thought of how the circle of life is sometimes just a car wheel.

And then, changing subjects after telling this story last night, I (completely unwittingly) said, “So! Extra Virgin is SO good. I had duck gizzards!” and everyone collapsed around me in hysterics.

Circle of life, indeed.

It’s The Great Pumpkin Conspiracy, That’s What.

I clipped an article out of the Star a week or so ago, for a Gooey Butter Cake recipe that uses pumpkin, ala Paula Deen. Seriously, anything Paula Deen does has to be good because it’s gonna involve a half-ton of sugar, at least a stick of butter, and usually the advice to top it all off with a big ol’ spoonful of whipped cream. So no big challenge there, all the ingredients are very normal, ordinary things.

Being unemployed means I get to go to the grocery store when all the old people are shopping. It’s rather nice. I went to Price Chopper on Monday, and in the baking aisle, where all the canned pumpkin should be? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. Like there’d been a giant recall or a giant rush on the canned pumpkin. OK, I still had some time before I needed to make this. So today, after hanging & commiserating with Pensive Girl, I went to Aldi’s. (Aldi’s! Yes! My first time ever! Being frugal can really be an adventure. More on that later. I will say I researched it online so I wouldn’t look too new or stupid.) No pumpkin. They did have cranberry sauce, though. Ok. So, no biggie, Aldi’s doesn’t have everything, I’ll just swing into the ghetto Price Chopper on my way home.  (Sing it in your Cartman voice, “In the gheetttooooo”…) SAME THING. Completely empty shelf. What?! The?! Fuck!? Is everyone in the mood for pie, suddenly?

I decide, ok, Ward Parkway Target. I know, it’s not a full-service grocery store, but they’ve expanded…. maybe they’ll have it. Nope. They did have some evaporated milk with a photo of a SLICE of pumpkin pie on it, which fooled me for two seconds, and then I was angry at the can label for having suckered me in. Turns out the gorgeous Rashan, who tried to help me, and also had a canned pumpkin need (he was making cheesecake), had fallen for the same duplicitous photo on the milk can. And he also determined that no, there was no pumpkin to be had. They’ll have it later, as a seasonal item.

So I don’t know what the dealy-bob is with the run on canned pumpkin in the regular grocery store – I can’t imagine that many people raced to the store after seeing that recipe – but I may have to try Hy-Vee or -eek- WalMart if we’re going to have this cake before November. Because I am not going to buy a pumpkin and cook it, just to be able to make a recipe that involves using a box cake mix. If you see canned pumpkin out there, lemme know!

Random Orts. Shake ‘Em Like an iPod Nano.

1. We now both have iPod Nanos. James exclaimed he never ever thought he’d own anything Apple. I, on the other hand, work amongst the Mac devoted, and as a consumer, have looooved their marketing. So, when the new 8G Nanos went on sale at Target, coinciding with my work anniversary, I decided to engage in a little retail therapy. Since my husband likes to tell me I have to have everything better than him, I decided a couple days later to buy HIM one, too. I even loaded it with a ton of music.  So now we’re finally in this millenium, and I enjoyed using mine while doing yard work on Saturday. He was fairly amused by the “shake-to-shuffle” feature, which he proceeded to do for about five minutes (while it was hooked up to a speaker).  Mine is turquoise, his is black. I think they’re stupendous.

2. So I went to the Apple store on the Plaza, to get an armband thingy. I couldn’t have felt like a bigger Luddite if I’d tried.  I determined that one of the qualifications to be an Apple Genius is to have a really interesting haircut.

3. When we were at Em Chamas, there was one waiter who didn’t have much showmanship. He was the one serving flank steak. So now the big joke at home is to flip one’s emo hair while braying “FLANK STEAK”, just to illustrate your attitude and disdain for the situation at hand.

4. I have a dear friend coming to visit this weekend, so I was working on cleaning the guest bedroom. In the process, I discovered that I have a lot of yarn. That job springboarded to my Huge Project, and you can see, I’ve got some good storage upstairs. And a lot of yarn.

Just one day of sorting....

I still have a lot of work to do, but this makes me happy.

5. I need sunshine. This doldrums- rain crap, combined with freeze warnings, is making our household very emo. We are ready for spring.  Our thoughts on the weather can be accurately captured with two words:  FLANK STEAK.

6. My (very conservative) friend Shan accidentally went into a gay bar on one of our trips to NYC. He was reassured by the bartender (female) that it wasn’t, they served all kinds (including the two gay men at the bar).  He then told us it was a unique bar, because it had all these roosters all over the place.  I responded by asking him if he thought perhaps all the cocks in the room were a CLUE.

7. My friend Laura is finishing her final week of retail hell at Macy’s, before starting a really kick-ass job that will use her education and skills. She had posted about a certain crazy ceramic rooster that had gone on clearance and would make a great white elephant gift.

8. My friend Shan’s desk, as of last Friday:

Office Rooster

I love doing stuff like that. Ceramic rooster – $17. Making everyone laugh – worth every penny & then some.

9.  I finally got a Blackberry that works, exchanged by the eBay seller. I’ve discovered that you can chat with other Blackberry peeps (I have two!) and you can look up directions to Em Chamas because it’s in the Northland and you can’t remember the road, and you can see your email all the time. It’s pretty cool, I must say – and yes, I’d love an iPhone, but right now I’m stuck with T-Mobile (the aforementioned G-Foible) and this phone will at least get me through the end of our contract.  Still have that RAZR if anyone would like to take it off my hands; got a direct connection to Satan, should you need to be phoning him up anytime soon.

That’s it for today! Shake it up!

Are You Always & Forever With Your Cell Phone Provider?

“Always and Forever” (LaFawnduh’s Song)
(by Kipland Ronald Dynamite)

Why do you love me?
Why do you need me?
Always and forever

We met in a chat room
Where love can fully bloom
Sure the World Wide Web is great
But you, you make me salivate

Yes I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever

Our love is like a flock of doves
Flying up to heav’n above
Always and forever
Always and forever

Yes, your love is truly great
Always and forever

Why do you need me?
Why do you love me?

I, like Cher once sang, am a half-breed, only of the nerd variety. I am a wannabe, I have some skills, but let’s face it, I can’t hack or code, so I’m just slightly elevated above a good Googler. And I love technology. Which, every time I even think that, makes me think of the wedding scene waaaay at the end, after the credits, of Napoleon Dynamite (lyrics above). Only right now, I hate it. So much so, I’m beginning to feel a little unabombery inside. Specifically, I hate my cell phone.

I was perfectly fine a month ago. I was getting sick with what would become bronchitis, but my attitude towards tech and gadgets was untouched. Shiny things! I love them! And then the wheel fell off my Motorola RIZR, and I tried to re-attach it, but instead rendered the wheel useless and immobilized. Awesome. Little did I know the cell phone wheel falling off would serve to be a huge metaphor for the following MONTH.

So, I look at my options, and basically, a cell phone company, say one that rhymes with G-Foible, as long as you are under their contract, they will let you tweeeest in the weeeeend. Even the option to upgrade my line while renewing my contract for another two years would result in paying a Shitton of Money for another phone. And of course, I’m looking at upgrades all the time. I’m not going to replace a nice phone with a bag phone. So I turn to …eBay. For an unlocked phone. Oh! It’s a Maurice Sendak novel of cell phone gadgetry! Yes! But you must read the fine print, and then continue to check what it would cost to buy a new one of the same model.

I buy a Motorola RAZR. I know. I should have asked someone first. Since I began screeching about my hatred, it’s like an entire underworld village of RAZR-HAYTRZ rose up through the dirt to answer my screams. First off, the language for text was defaulting to Italian, which took me a while to figure out how to fix that, but hey, I could handle it. I’m the Network Administrator for our home computer network, after all! Oh, and forget storing any sort of application on this thing, it has no memory. OH and did you want it to actually get reception outside of work and home? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Plus the bonus feature I didn’t even pay for: every time I plug it in to charge (which is often, since the fucker dies every 48 hours if I don’t), it changes the ring style. I plug it in, and on the tiny window appears something like this: “RING TONE CHANGED: LOUD.” And I spent every night trolling through forums, because I needed to set up all of the actual components so it would connect to G-Foible’s network. Like, inputting data addresses and setting features, things one normally has on a branded phone. Whatev, that’s small potatoes, and I even discovered later that the phone companies have it so you can message yourself with the data & apply it to the phone. OK. It still does not change the fact that I want to fling the phone against a wall or out the window, every. single. day. I hate it.

After going to the lake, and having no reception and no web access on my phone, I hit the wall myself. So I bought an unlocked Blackberry Pearl. Which I really liked. I even upgraded the web plan so I could make it into a work device – I had felt a little Short Bus Syndrome when we’d traveled on that wheel-fell-off-trip, because everyone else had iPhones and Blackberries and oh, Jennifer, you don’t check your work email on your phone? No. My phone has a wheel. It was like a caveman holding a torch while everyone skittered around with their GPS voice-activated gadgetry in sleek speed-skating suits. And I had thought the RAZR would be a step up, but instead was unwittingly rocketing back to 2004. Which, in techno-years, is like the Dark Ages.

So, the Pearl. Yes! I’m legit! Bona-fide. I switched to the data plan, and I call the Wo. “Hello?” he says. “Hello? Hello?” Hangs up. Mind you, I’m responding. He calls me back. “Hello? Hello?” Heeeeey. The microphone doesn’t work. I abuse several co-workers with testing different options. Back to the forums. Perhaps a software update is needed. Okey-dokey. I attach the phone to the computer with the cable. Nothing. I try another cable. Nothing. I try a third cable. Nothing. I plug the cable into the RAZR. (Microsoft has detected your dumb ass phone from a previous century! Where’s the software? On a 3.5″ floppy you say?) WTH.

I email the seller, they have no solution except to return it. Back it went today. I’m still using my Supah-Dupah Fly RAZR, but now I have to revert the data plan back to my G-Zones (cheaper) web plan. Ah, no, you naive stupid girl. “We don’t offer that any more.”

HUH? I had it on TUESDAY.

“Once you remove it, it’s gone, we have a new product now.” That costs $4 more a month for the same damned thing. (Oh and includes some text messaging, which I don’t really do, instead paying $0.20 per, anytime I simply must receive or send one.)

OMG. Head! Exploding! I disconnect from the online CSR, and call. They immediately put G-Zones back on my phone. But cannot offer me any sort of good deal on a phone to replace my ghetto-blaster techno-sploitation travesty I’m stuck with. My phone is beginning to resemble Ron Jeremy, only without any residual coolness. I have to wait 10 months. (And seriously, the price difference between upgrade with no contract extension and with one is negligible.) For the first time in 10 years (or however long it’s been, it’s been at least that), I’m seriously going to look at options once this contract shit is up.

So. All the drama, and swearing, and pain aside. What really gets me is that the business model for cell phones has absolutely nothing to do with rewarding loyalty. Marketing departments sit around all the time, trying to figure out how to keep and retain consumers, how do we get someone to be a brand advocate, so dedicated to our product or service that they’ll never switch. And I get it, you have a contract, which represents $X and the penalties for breaking the contract somehow translates to permission to just leave that customer alone until it’s time to revisit the contract. Sure, every time I’ve called T-Mobile (because really, did G-Foible fool you?), I’ve been thanked profusely for being such a loyal and long-time customer. But when I ask a CSR to fix a problem and they say no, no and no again, even in the face of me saying “I will leave over this the minute I can,” why do I have to make the next round of effort (and escalate it) to repair that business relationship? Honestly, had T-Mobile offered me a solution, like a Blackberry for $100-$150, I would have kept the upgraded data plan, signed up for another two years, and been happy as a clam. (I even asked! “NO.”) Now I’m just bitter.

I guess the answer is that there’s so much churn, they don’t bother to care about loyalty. Because in the end, I’m just a number, nothing more. I guess it’s a good thing I can now take that number with me, wherever I go. Until then, I’ll be wearing my RAZR around my neck, like the albatross it is….

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, OR, My, What Fast Response Times We Have With The Local Fire Department!

Yesterday evening, I decided to bake a pie. A strawberry-rhubarb pie. I had a recipe from Ye Olde Internet, and I quickly threw everything together. I followed the directions – I do not understand this brushing of the milk on the crust, it pooled and sat there through the entire process and grossed me out. But I did not follow the direction that said, “Put a baking sheet under the pie to catch the drips.” Whatevs! The oven already had some pizza cheese burned on – what’s a little extra pie, hm?

So I checked the pie at the lowest time allotment for baking – still not done. I took my pie crust ring off, so the whole thing would brown. Apparently (or at least this is the conclusion I’ve drawn) this is what started Pie Armageddon In The Oven. Suddenly the pie decides to leak. And when I checked it 10 minutes later, there were just a few little red drizzles, and I thought, “Well, hell, I should have done that baking-sheet-thing” and I put a piece of aluminum foil under said pie.

Roughly six minutes later, we were alerted to Pie Armageddon by the whooping of our smoke alarm. And not just any smoke alarm, but the one tied to our security system. So the whooping was also taking place on the outdoor siren (free! due to excellent negotiation skeelz). I ran to cancel it, meanwhile, James started opening windows and I dragged a fan around to start airing things out. The house phone rang – but nobody was on the line, I knew it had to be the alarm company, so I also got out my cell phone (second on the call list). As I looked up, I saw a white light sweep across the side yard.

Giant fucking fire truck. Less than 5 minutes, people. Can I tell you how AMAZED! and GUILTY! But still AMAZED! I was? Four (handsome, uniformed) firemen piled off the truck as I walked to greet them. (James? Inside fanning at the smoke alarm and canceling the alarm every time it went off.) They seemed a little disappointed, all this fuss over a pie, but then they smelled the burnt sugar carried on the wind behind me, and they knew I wasn’t covering for a pyromaniac nephew living in the basement. One fireman offered a fan, to air out the house, and I was so dreadfully embarrassed, I declined.

James noted it would be nice if the police response time was as fast, maybe we wouldn’t have lost all our stuff. He also went to the freezer to get out a large summer sausage that we’ll be taking (along with some cheese) down to the fire station as a thank-you for the unbelievably fast response. Granted, the station is less than a mile away, but I was agog at how quickly they were there.

FWIW, the pie? Pretty good. But not worth all the ruckus! And next time? Baking sheet under said pie.

If I’d Had A VCR As A Kid, I’d Probably Have Shoved A Cheese Sandwich Into It.

Well, the head teller supervisor at my Commerce Bank has had a good hearty laugh at my stupidity (and self-deprecation on the phone) this morning.

Let’s backtrack, shall we?

A few weeks ago, I got this brochure in the mail, extolling the fantastic new features of my bank’s new ATM’s. The shining feature was that you no longer needed to use an envelope for deposits – you just put the ol’ check right in, and your receipt gives you fancy features, like a snapshot of the check you deposited! So, last night, I finally swung by the bank to deposit three (3) checks. I got a phone call from a co-worker while I was waiting in line, it was another whack-a-mole needing whacking, but then the car in front of me left & I hastily got off the phone & began my business.

Mentally calculating the amounts on the checks, I entered my card, my PIN, and then the information to make the deposit. Ignoring the screen that said “PLEASE INSERT YOUR ENVELOPE NOW”, I shoved the three checks into the slot that sucks things in. Hmmm. Only two made it. So there I sat, with a third check in my hand that the ATM thought I’d deposited, and I panicked. I selected the option to deposit AGAIN and THEN, CONTINUED MY TRANSACTION for the third check, without an envelope. So now I’ve lied to the bank, that I’ve deposited more money than I actually have, AND my checks are willy-nilly lying in the ATM footloose & fancy-free, with no envelope containing them. I withdrew some cash and wondered how I would handle this tomorrow.

Which brings us to this morning. After my 8 a.m. conference call (with people in Dublin! I love how instead of “um” they say “Ehhhhm”.) I called the bank. And of course you have to go through the 800-number point-of-all-customer service, and I had to explain that I was stupid, and could I please have the number for the actual branch. And they gave me the direct line to Karen, head teller supervisor. Who did not answer, and I had to leave a message that went something like this:

Good morning! My name is Jennifer Nu***, and..well, I am a complete idiot. I’m calling because last night, at the ATM, I completely lost my mind and thought I could deposit checks without an envelope. Because of the brochure, see. And then that didn’t work really well but I KEPT DOING IT and now I want to not only apologize, for making your job more difficult, but also for being stupid, and to find out if everything in the end will be ok.

She called me back laughing. I told her that I couldn’t believe my own stupidity and that I would understand if they shut down the drive-through when they see me coming, because imagine the havoc I could wreak with access to those pneumatic tubes! She wondered aloud if perhaps I had jammed the machine up, but then we realized that I hadn’t, because I had been able to GET ANOTHER CHECK INTO THE MACHINE after the first screw-up. I told her, who knows what else I might have tried to put in that ATM if I hadn’t come to my senses when I did.

Stupid. On the heels of yesterday, declaring a mini-jihad on idiots. Serves me right. But I’m still funny, even when I’m stupid, and I made Karen’s day. Somebody’s going to call me, at some point, to confirm that I haven’t taken ATM #M103 off the grid and that my deposits have been reconciled. Meanwhile, I’ll try to keep my technological adventures to a minimum, and I’ll be a little kinder to the stupid.

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