Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who on earth falls for this stuff?

Ok, I know I'm not supposed to be blogging and all but there are just some things you have to post.

I received an email today that immediately got kaboshed and thrown into my spam filter. It's certainly not the first email of this type that I have received and so, it got me to thinking: does anyone actually fall for this stuff?

I mean, if they continue to send these blatantly obvious attempts to engage you in giving up your identity and oodles of your hard earned money, then somebody, somewhere must be willing to fall for it.

I don't get it, though. I guess I just can't believe that anyone is this stupid.

------------------------------------------------

From Zenith Bank ATM s
RE:YOUR PAYMENT NOTIFICATION
From: Mr Tony Elumelu
Remittance Manager
Zenith Bank Of Nigeria.
Email: tonyelumeluzenithbank@yahoo.pl
Phone Number: 234-808-507-4105

Attention: Beneficiary

This is to officially inform you that we have verified your contract inheritance file presently on my desk, and I found out that you have not received your payment due to your lack of co-operation and not Fulfilling the obligations giving to you in respect to your contract /inheritance payment.

Secondly, you are hereby advice to stop dealing with some non-officials in the bank as this is an illegal act and will have to stop if you so wish to receive your payment immediately. After the board meeting held at our headquarters, we have resolved in finding a solution to your problem, and as you may know, we have arranged your payment through our SWIFT CARD PAYMENT CENTRE in Europe, America and Asia Pacific, which is then instruction given by our president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar Adua (GCFR) Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This card centre will send you an ATM CARD which you will use to withdraw your money in an ATM MACHINE in any part of the world, but the maximum is ($15,000.00) Five Thousand Us Dollars per transaction. So, if you like to receive your fund this way, $15,000 usd for you to withdraw for a day and each transaction is $ 5,000usd minimum which you have to withdraw $15,000 usd for one working day also be informed that the total amount in the SWIFT ATM CARD is $14.6 million usd.

(1) Your Full Name:
(2) Your Address where you want the payment centre to send your ATM CARD.:
(3) Phone and Fax Number:
(4) Age and Occupation:
(5) Your Nearest International Air Port in your City of residence:

We shall be expecting to receive your information you have stop any further communication with anybody or office. On this regards, do not hesitate to contact me for more details and direction, and also please do update me with any new development.

Thanks for your co-operation.

Best Regards,

Mr. Tony Elumelu
Remittance Manager
Zenith Bank of Nigeria

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hurt Hearts


A veterinary cardiologist today diagnosed my dog, Frankie, with degenerative mitral valve disease. In lay terms, this means one of his heart valves is not closing properly and so he has a leaky heart. It's a degenerative condition, and genetic, so it will get worse over time.

Unlike when humans get this condition, surgical treatment is not an option (experimental at best) for dogs, and there are no drugs that have been developed to slow down or reverse the degeneration process. This leaves our course forward as ... wait for it to get worse, at which point they will be able to treat the symptons that will occur (shortness of breath, wheezing etc..) to make him comfortable for whatever is left of his life.

This process of degeneration is, aparently, unknowable. Frankie is in the very mild stages at this point but could progress in months, years, or just remain in this stage for the rest of (what we would assume would be) his 'natural' life. A lady at the vets who came in after me has two King Charles Spaniels with similar conditions, one of which is 3 years old, the other which is 9 years old. The 9 year-old dog was diagnosed 2 years ago the same way as Frankie (via the vet noticing a slight heart murmur) but otherwise had no symptons of ill health. Two years later and she is wheezing and her heartbeat is so irregular you can feel it upon touch. The diuretics they are treating her with mean she has become incontinent.

With all the progress we have made in human heart conditions, it seems so unacceptable to me that there is nothing we can do but sit and wait for him to show symptons and, eventually, die. I'm still having problems not thinking of him as a puppy (even though he is 8 years old) and now all of a sudden I'm faced with considering his death without the option of doing anything to stop it.

Frankie has been everywhere with me since I was 24 years old. When I was going through my divorce, when I missed home, every time I moved... he's always been there for me as my family, my little man. When there was nobody else, there was always Frankie. When I thought about going back to England many a time, I always thought: I couldn't leave Frankie. I know I have the new puppy now but I just can't imagine having the kind of connection with another dog that I have with him. He's such a good boy, such a personality, and the best thing I have in my life (obviously excluding my husband.) I can't imagine my home without him in it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

One year


I promised I would continue to blog "events" in my life, and so here I am.

One year ago, yesterday, Hubbie and I got married.
It's been a great year.
We celebrated this past weekend the way that we love to - by throwing a party for our friends and family. See photos here.

We were also fortunate to have one of my oldest US friends, E (she of The Gerli Life), in town from SoCal for the weekend. Ms. Gerli flew all the way up to Sactown just to spend time with us and come to our soiree. Not only did we have a great time catching up, she was a prolific potato peeler, peeling 20lbs of potatos for our guests!




In the evening, Hubbie treated me to a romantic, gourmet meal at The Cliff House, a swank restaurant overlooking the American River in Folsom. For all the restaurant's ambience and our undoubted joy at having shared a wonderful year together, we were absolutely pooped from preparing for the weekend. We ate at 6, were home by 8, and I think fell asleep together on the couch shortly thereafter. We woke at about 10:30pm, rescued my sneakers from the puppy's destructo-jaws, and fell into bed.

This is us at the Cliff House.



Hubbie did a great job of performing his duties for our first anniversary. In addition to our meal, I received a bouquet of red roses and a lovely silver clock/picture frame, engraved with our wedding date as well as his words of love.


Here's to many more wonderful years and celebrations!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life is just too hectic

What happened to the days of being bored? I remember being young, single, and bored stiff. Now, quite honestly, a little bit of bored sounds fantastic. I don't even remember the last time that my checklist wasn't longer than my ability to check everything off.

It seems that every year you live, your life gets fuller - and yes I mean this in the non-complaining as well as the whinging-and-whining sense. At the same time I can understand those people who choose to "opt-out" in some way. You know, those people who can fit all their posessions in the back of a pick-up truck, those carefree individuals who frown on mortgages and high-powered jobs, credit-card bills, fashion, and keeping up with the Joneses. These people seem to realize that, with every 'thing' (and I don't just mean commodities) you acquire comes a whole new set of responsibilities. I envy those people some days but could never be one.

There comes a point, though, where you wonder if there will ever be a time when you can stop and just enjoy what you've acquired. I guess you have to make that time for yourself but then sometimes doing that in and of itself is work, you know?

Aaaanyway... all this leads me to my point (I think I have one). I just don't have time for this blog (evident by my less and less frequent posts). It's another one of those things that I want to do, enjoy doing sometimes, but because I have 500 more important things to do, never gets priority. And then I get frustrated because I haven't updated it in a while. And when I do spend time updating it, I feel bad for ignoring other things. PC/internet to me is a magnet that pulls me in and I find hours go by without me having achieved anything on that proverbial list. So again, I am frustrated. Who needs that on top of everything else?

So, I'm signing off for a while. I'll still use this blog to keep you up-to-date on things that happen in my life, you know, places I've been, people I've seen, changes etc.. But in terms of this being a sounding board for my thoughts, rants, and raves... I'm going on hiatus. I waste enough time sitting in front of the PC every day and quite honestly, I'm ready to look beyond the screen and around me again for a while.

So ttfn!

Monday, October 08, 2007

She did it!


Me and the beautiful bride
Originally uploaded by Travel Vixen
From racy bachelorette to beautiful bride.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The way to be accountable

Did you see Marion Jones' statement this afternoon after she admitted lying to Federal officials about taking performance enhancing drugs?

It's rare to see/hear someone in the public eye show such genuine remorse, humility, and accountability. I have to say that, while I'm not impressed with her cheating, I was very impressed with her statement which seamed genuine and put to shame many people in the public eye who could do with just one iota of her courage.

See what you think: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/05/jones.doping/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

The Bachelorette


The Bachelorette
Originally uploaded by Travel Vixen
Our little Nikester, a friend of mine for almost 10 years, is getting married this Saturday in McKinney, TX (hence me being in TX.) Last night was her Bachelorette party and a good time was had by all. Of course, being the evil women we are, we were sure to dress her up in full bachelorette garb and parade around Fort Worth visually announcing her impending wedlock. Spectacular!

So, we karaoked ("Hopelessly Devoted to youuuuuuuuuuu"), drank, and danced until 1am... AND ON A WEEKNIGHT!

Gosh, married women shouldn't be able to have this much fun.

Tomorrow, the BIG DAY!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My theory on Britney

At the risk of sending a collective groan through every person reading this blog who is no doubt sick-to-death of hearing about her, I'm going to throw out my theory about this whole Britney Spears debacle.

I was watching headline news this morning, befuddled at the prominence of this story above serious major news issues, and it hit me: I think she wanted the court to take away her kids.

I mean, let's look at this with a little logic. She may be an psychological mess and not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she's not entirely dumb. If a judge warns you that you're going to lose your kids unless you do x, y, z, and if you want to keep your kids, firstly you do those things.

Secondly, the things that she did (or in this case didn't do) were pretty stupid and petty: she failed to produce a California drivers license and didn't show up for a drug test. It's almost like she was trying to strike a balance between not out-and-out defying the court but at the same time daring it to punish her.

Next, when the judge issued the order for her to hand her kids over to KFed at the next court hearing, she didn't bother to wait - she handed them right over without a fight and without delay.

Finally, she didn't even bother to show up at the hearing yesterday to contest the decision and fight to get her boys back.

Does this sound like the actions of a woman who wants to be a mother right now? I think not.

I think she's a 25 year old girl who never had the opportunity to grow up properly. Instead, since the age of 19 she's been living a surreal life of money, parties, and celebrity; showered with adoration, coddled, and no doubt given everything she's asked for when she asked for it by a team of people hired to do just that.

And then she became a mother and even though you can hire a nanny to look after your kids, let's face it, your kids want you as their mother. Kids equal responsibility, hard work, and sacrifice and I just don't think Britney was/is ready for it (her actions clearly demonstrate that this isn't a point under dispute.) And you know what? I think she knows it.

I think she wanted to court to take away those boys. Whether her motivation was selfless ("They're better off without me right now") or selfish ("I just want to party and have a good time!") that's my theory.

Of course, whether she chooses to use this court-given "freedom" to clean up her act and get her boys back or kicks off her heels and goes into high-gear partying, is something that is yet to be seen and will probably peel off the onion of her motivations.

But that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Little Tatah is turning one


AdahOne 207
Originally uploaded by Travel Vixen
Forgot to blog this. Sunday was my niece's first birthday party. Her actual birthday isn't until 10/7 but since Hubbie and I will be out of town that day, my sister-in-law hosted the event a week early. (So sweet!!!)

Anyway, as you can see she just gets cuter and cuter every day!

Dress courtesy of moi!

For more photos visit: http://www.flickr.com/gp/8277922@N03/27n6V5

Monday, October 01, 2007

No rednecks so far...

If you know anything about me, you know that I have not had good experiences with Texas. Houston, Galveston, San Antonio... hated them all. Flat, ridiculously humid, miserable fat people, rednecks, pick-up trucks, yellow grass, and stupid yellow traffic lights... the lot drove me nuts.

But I'm giving an initial passing grade to Dallas. Clean, new, well-organized, friendly people, even some green grass. The yellow traffic lights, flatlands, and humidity are still there but otherwise a more positive first impression for this part of the state. With such low house prices, I can understand why Californians are moving here.

Sitting in my hotel room right now, watching Dancing with the Stars, and waiting for my room service. It's weird, everything comes on an hour early here... that "9, 8 central.." thing they always say on the TV is true and its bloody confusing. I'm two hours ahead but the programs come on one hour early for the time period.

Oh too funny... the room service just arrived. My coffee cup and saucer is the style I just sold at my garage sale... what's weirder is that my Mum bought me that set from England. What's an English tea set doing in a hotel in Texas?

Anyway... off to eat and figure out more TV times.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Off again!

I'm off again. This time to Dallas on Monday.

This trip is 1/2 business, 1/2 pleasure. It just so happened that one my good friends is getting married in the Dallas area the weekend after my work conference. So, I'm staying on, making sales appointments, going to bachelorette parties, attending the wedding, and then flying on home.

And I JUST put the suitcase away....

Sniff


Today was a sad day. Today my friend, Joy, had her goodbye lunch. The photo above is from the joint lunch we had for Joy's goodbye and another colleague's birthday at Boudin Bakery - we basically took over 1/2 the restaurant and hogged some tables for an hour, much to the irritation of the other lunch diners. Joy, incidentally, is in the front row, second from right.

I was privileged to have Joy as part of my team when I managed the marketing department. As a friend and a colleague, she has taught me so much with her open heart, and made me laugh almost daily with her quick-witted comments. I know I am not alone when saying that the department (the company) will not be the same without her in it.

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one has a couple. Firsy Joy is pregnant with her second child, due in April. If he/she is anywhere near as cute as her first child, it's going to be Aunty Shell smooches all over. (Well, ok, I'm going to smooch the new baby either way but I can't imagine him/her NOT being cute.) Second, now that we no longer are governed by the rules of office politics, we are free to embark upon a different phase of our wonderful and unexpected friendship. I can't wait.


But still, it will be sad to walk into that department and see her cubicle empty. Very sad indeed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Backyard Wildlife

Due to some technical difficulties, this post should have happened on Wednesday but today is Sunday and I've only just managed to convince all the appropriate technological components to get my photos posted online for you.

Aaaaanyways, this happened on Wednesday, a beautiful, sunny, warm day. The sort of day that makes you forget all those awful 100+ degree temperatures in Sacramento (well, almost.) The day was made even more beautiful because I work from home and was able to spent my lunch hour hanging out with my dogs in my new, big 'ole back yard.

Although our lot is around 1/3 of an acre, the back 1/4 of the back yard is actually an easement that leads down to a creek. It's one of the reasons why we bought this house: there's a good couple hundred feet between us and the next house and they're are barely visible because of the multitude of trees inbetween. Sit on our deck and you feel like you're in the middle of a forest. We can't really do anything with the space (which is probably good because neither can our neighbors) but it's accessible to us as a little "extra bit" of yard, through a gate.

So, there I was walking along our ever-so-stylish chainlink fence (which will eventually reach a the local dump when we have enough money to replace it) and I see something walking around in my "extra" bit of yard leading down to the creek.


Yes, it's a TURKEY! Click on the picture to see more photos. There wasn't just one of them, there was a whole family. Ten or so turkeys just hanging out beyond the fence in my backyard. Pretty cool. huh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Laughing myself off my chair

This is priceless: a test that is supposed to help you evaluate if you have a personality disorder.

Here is my score:


Disorder and Rating
Paranoid: Low
Schizoid: Low
Schizotypal: Low
Antisocial: Low
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: Low
Narcissistic: High
Avoidant: Low
Dependent: Low

Aparently, I am Narcissistic. Not just middling sort of way but in big ole wapping amounts. This is absolutely hilarious to me for some reason, probably because it's thoroughly ridiculous.

I mean, for those of you who know me, does this sound anything like me?

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recongize them as being superior. They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. Narcissists tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Requires excessive praise and admiration
  • Takes advantage of others
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lying, to self and others
  • Obsessed with fantasies of fame, power, or beauty

Being the self-aware person I am (or like to think I am, maybe I'm really all these things and so out of it I can't see it), I'll cop to sometimes having a lack of empathy. But the others... please! Goodness knows what answers led them to this.

Try it yourself and let me know if you have any new personality disorders.

Thanks to Hotel California for the day's biggest giggle.

And now for something you'll either violently agree or disagree with...


Feel free to have either reaction.

I got this from my dad in an email. I personally have to say "Right on!" Of course, whether or not it really happened is anybody's guess.

An incident occurred in a supermarket recently, when the following was witnessed:

A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.

When it was her turn to be served, and as she reached the cashier, she made a loud remark about the English Flag lapel pin, which the female cashier was wearing on her blouse.

The cashier reached up and touched the pin and said, "Yes, I always wear it proudly. My son serves abroad with the forces and I wear it for him".

The Muslim woman then asked the cashier when she was going to stop bombing and killing her countrymen, explaining that she was Iraqi.

At that point, a Gentleman standing in the queue stepped forward, and interrupted with a calm and gentle voice, and said to the Iraqi woman: "Excuse me, but hundreds of thousands of men and women, just like this ladies son have fought and sacrificed their lives so that people just like YOU can stand here, in England , which is MY country and allow you to blatantly accuse an innocent check-out cashier of bombing YOUR countrymen".

"It is my belief that if you were allowed to be as outspoken as that in Iraq, which you claim to be YOUR country, then we wouldn't need to be fighting there today".

"However - now that you have learned how to speak out and criticise the English people who have afforded you the protection of MY country, I will gladly pay the cost of a ticket to help you pay your way back to Iraq ".

"When you get there, and if you manage to survive for being as outspoken as what you are here in England, then you should be able to help straighten out the mess which YOUR Iraqi countrymen have got you into in the first place, which appears to be the reason that you have come to MY country to avoid."

Apparently the queue cheered and applauded.

IF YOU AGREE... Pass this on to all of your proud English friends..

So, where DO we put them?

This was one of those things that I meant to blog about last week but just didn't have the time.

There's been a lot in the news in the last year or so about sex offenders being run out of neighborhoods due to Megan's Law and Jessica's Law, the latter of which requires life-long monitoring of sex offenders and places certain restrictions upon where they can live.

Now Human Rights Watch has a new report, that says these registries are inhumane and don't protect anyone from crime because the old adage, "once a sex offender, always a sex offender" isn't actually true. Plus, you can end up on these registries for offenses as mild as public urination and as prevalent as having consensual teenage sex.

This sparked an NPR on-air topic last week about the mounting issue of sex-offender rehabilitation and habitation. Do you use these registries and how do you make decisions based upon them?

Interestingly, the topic did a little 180 and started to focus on the impact these laws are having on the sex offenders: Where can they live without being run-out? What happens if they can't get a job, can't find a home, and end up the streets?

Ok, right now most of you are thinking exactly what every good citizen should think: Who the heck cares what impact these laws have on them? They shouldn't offend in the first place! Which is reasonable and appropriate. However, the knock-on effects of these laws don't always fit into our black-and-white ideals.

The question becomes, how do we track a growing contingent of homeless offenders? And how does their dire situation affect the choices they make after being convicted?

Here, for instance, is a story of this exact conundrum from an LA Times reporter: a recently released sex offender thrown-out by every landlord of every place he's tried to settle in, ending up living on a Ventura river bed, and being watched in a nearby van by a security guard from a private firm hired by the county!

In the NPR segment, one sex offender talked about how many like him get put back in jail just because there's nowhere else for them to go. Faced with the streets or jail, many fellow offenders he knows have scraped together the money to buy an entirely new identity, free from Megan and Jessica's laws. He himself has been approached by several individuals offering him a new identity and says that, if he had the money, he would seriously consider it.

Somebody tell me this isn't a problem!

So, my question is: where do we put them? "Not on my street!" is a fair but thoroughly impractical answer. "In a house for sex offenders!" sounds great but where do these places go, and who is willing to pay for them via higher taxes?

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh my how times have changed!

THE PAUL FAMILY VISIT
Mala and me with our "babies"




Trying to get everyone to face forward was a feat too large for one evening.


It used to be that dinner with friends consisted of a few martinis and idle conversation, complaining about work. Now, with friends rapidly breeding kids and us growing our kanine family, things are a little different.

Last night we had our first real dinner guests, Mala, Shomeek, and Evani. Evani is just six months old and a real talker; I honestly think she'll be chattering away long before she puts one foot in front of the other.

With dogs and babies vying for our rapt attention, the evening turned into a crawling-around-on-the-floor fest, snapping photos, fending off puppy-teeth, and soothing a tired baby. In the middle somewhere, I think we got to chat about grown-up stuff like... um... well...

Seriously, I exaggerate to make my point but it is funny how quickly life can change. In all honesty it was wonderful to host friends, cuddle babies, and watch the puppy play. What was even nicer was that there really was no work to complain of. Mala is now dancing and designing her way through her ideal day and I work from home, free of office stresses and politics. For all the changes that have happened, it was obvious that each one had brought us closer to where we want to be in life

That's one heck of a great way to end a Monday evening!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Top Gear in Alabama...

Seen on the plane on my way to England... almost made me fall of my seat w/ laughter. (Except of course there's hardly enough room to breathe, let alone fall.)

This program is a British institution and plays on BBC America. If you knew the back-story of this particular show, you'd find it EVEN funnier.

Anyway... ENJOY! :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A trip down memory lane

My parents have a stall in a small market near wherw I grew up in England and they are selling a whole bunch of 45s - 5 for £1. In a moment of nostalgia, I poured through the collection (many of which were mine as a kid) and amongst other things found an original Michael Jackson, Thriller (which I nabbed back in anticipation of his passing) and this nugget from the Eurovision song contest of 1976. The Brotherhood of Man were Britain's entry and they became a firm favorite of my family throughout the rest of the decade.

Wonderful.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Liverpool, England, today they buried an 11 year old schoolboy named Rhys Jones.

Rhys was shot in the neck Aug. 22 by a youth on a bicycle as he played soccer with friends in a well-heeled housing development that borders one of Liverpool's poorer neighborhoods. Police believe he was likely an innocent victim of a feud between street gangs.

With the homicide rate involving guns around 4 for every 100,000 people in the U.S., stories such as this barely register as a blip on the regional scale in America, let alone being featured in the national news. Yet today, Rhys' funeral made national news headlines in the U.K., placing his memorial ahead of news that Opera legend, Pavarotti, had died.

What's more, the impact on Rhys' community demonstrated to me that, while Britain definitely has some work to do, the UK has a long way to go before it becomes as desensitized to a daily-dose of drive-bys, as many of us are in the U.S. (even after taking into consideration the difference in population and size of the two countries.)

More than 2,500 Liverpudlians showed up to mourn this 11-year old boy, clapping to honor his life and the strength of his family as his coffin passed by - through city streets and all the way up to the altar in the city's cathederal.

The comment from Britain's unelected PM, Mr. Brown was: "Guns in America are accepted but we don't want that for Britain. We want to get guns out of every community."

So, while my parents bemoan the state of my home country and claim Britain is not a safe place to be, it's times like these that I get a little jolt of relative reality. Because while the U.S. constitution ensures that you'd have to pry guns from the average American's "cold dead hands" (to quote the late and not-so-great Mr. Heston), the shooting of one schoolboy is still making national news in England- and thank GOD for that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Oh! A Happy p.s.

... we rented the townhouse and to someone who LOVES the color of the walls. So poo on Karen.

Our new renters have already moved in, so keen were they to leave behind the soulless apartment cream of their previous abode.

And so our quest for World Slumlord Domination begins...

British Rants is on vacation

In, of all places, Britain!

I will post as often as I can but I will be in Sweden for a few days and probably without internet connection.

TTYL.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Foiled Rants

As you know, we are trying to rent our townhome. While it's taking a little longer than we hoped, overall we've had quite a few inquiries and, for the most part, have been attracting the kind of renter we want.

Right now we're listed on line at SacBee.com and Rentals.com, the latter of which posts your listing on a bunch of other rental sites.

I checked my email this morning to see if we had any new inquiries and was excited to find that I did. However, this is what it said:


"don't show that staircase as your first shot, it's dreadful! paint it a nuetral color and show the patio first! you'll have a renter in no time!"

(Lack of capitalization hers, not mine.)

This 'pearl' of wisom came from a Karen Cresse, who was kind enough to provide her email and phone number.

Now, this just rubbed me up the wrong way. So, I decided to retort. I thought I would share my response with y'all.

Dear Karen,

Thank you for your advice on the color of the walls at our townhome.

Are you looking for a rental in our area or is your life just so empty that you feel it necessary to send disparaging emails to strangers?

Since we have had many inquiries on our townhome, have three applications in-hand, and many people who have welcomed the warm color vs. the soulless, apartment off-white, I think we will choose to ignore your subjective and insulting advice.

I wish you luck in finding a rental with apartment-cream walls (if in fact you are looking at all)… there’s plenty of them out there competing for the bottom-dollar renter.

So there!

Unfortunately, the woman didn't even have the guts to back up her remarks with a valid email address and my retort returned within seconds as undeliverable.

So, Karen Cresse with an 818 area-code, take your unwelcome remarks and stuff them where the sun don't shine.


This, by the way, is the shot of which she spoke. Honestly, it's ok with me if you don't like the color. Color is subjective anyway. I just thought it was ridiculous that she took the time to email a complete stranger to tell him/her that she didn't like the color of the wall. I mean, seriously, move-on. You don't like it, live somewhere else.


Friday, August 24, 2007

My blog travels well

I finally scrolled down to look at the little map of the world that is supposed to show where my visitors come from and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. Considering I get comments from only 2-3 people on any sort of basis, I'm covering a pretty wide expanse of the globe!

Who are you people? Why don't you comment? How did you find me?

Perhaps you reached me by accident, were bored to death and surfed on to my imminently more eloquent and interesting fellow bloggers, Hotel California babe, and The Gerli Life chick for instance.

Particularly, I would like to hear about those people who have visited from:
  • Ireland
  • Argentina
  • Iran
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • China (I think, Hong Kong specifically)

Oooooooooo... I've come over all multicultural all of a sudden.

Of course...

...I would like to clarify that ALL people are not rude and stupid. Sadly too large a number seem to be but I know all the polite, smart ones! :)

People are just rude... and stupid.

I've has this one sales prospect in Florida on the hook for a few months now and honestly, I hope they DON'T buy our product.

I gave them a free demo of our product and despite the fact that they are only a small account, spent 90 minutes providing them with a free webinar so they could understand how to use it. That time doesn't even include the countless emails and voicemails over 3-4 weeks we exchanged just trying to set up the webinar; emails where I would provide him with several dates that work for me and then he wouldn't get back to me until after those dates passed, so we'd have to start that process all over again. (We did that like 3 times.)

The webinar was akin to a bad migraine, by the way, as he disappeared down rabbit holes, asked stupid questions, went off on long tirades that demonstrated a basic lack of understanding about what the product even does, talked over everything I said, and then asked questions about things I had already explained but he had missed (because he liked the sound of his own voice better.)

After the demo, however, he said he was ready to go. "Send me a contract!" he said. So I did.

And then all went dark. I called but got no response. This was all before I left on my honeymoon in May. When I got back I checked back in with him and he said he just didn't understand the program and didn't think his agents would use it.

Ummm... huh?

Seriously, those of you who know the product I sell know that, while some people take longer than others to learn the ins-and-outs of it, it's essentially extremely easy to use and, for someone in the industry (which this guy is, he says), it's purpose is elementary. And I promise you, it wasn't my lack of sales training.

So, he wanted to schedule another webinar with me and some others in his organization, so I could explain it to them and get their agreement to purchase. Of course, I was reluctant, given how small the account is, how much time I had spent already with him, and how painful the last webinar was. But I agreed because, you know, this is my job and commission is my mortgage payment and every little counts.

We scheduled webinar #2 for last week. Two days before, he had his assistant call me to ask me if we can do it at another time on the same day. I agreed because I didn't have anything else scheduled. The day before, the assistant called and tried to reschedule again but this time asks for a time where I already had a scheduled call, so we decide to keep the second agreed-upon time. Then the morning of the webinar, she calls to cancel and says we'll try for next week (now this week.)

Today was the webinar, supposedly at 11am my time (he's on the east coast.) At 8:05 am Pacific my phone lights up like a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, I'm in the bathroom at that time and have to let it go to voicemail. By the time I get back to my phone 2-3 minutes later, I have FOUR curt voicemails and two emails from him asking me where I am. Yes, he misread 11am PACIFIC as 11am EASTERN. Because, you know, Pacific and Eastern look so similar in an email.

Like a true professional, despite being dressed in my sweaty workout gear, I throw my barking, yapping dogs in the back yard and jump online. I just wanted this guy out of my hair today so I can move forward into the weekend with positive vibes.

I just got off the webinar and I'm about ready to tear my hair out.

There was 5 people in the room with him and they proceeded to talk to each other the entire time I was talking, and not in whispters. Again, my contact frequently talked over me, asked rabbit-hole questions (that I had already provided that answer to if only he had been listening), and behaved like an insolent 5 year old.

What's worse, no one person was "at the helm" so everyone was talking to each other and asking questions of me at the same time. One person would ask me to show them something and then someone else would disagree and tell me to do something else. Then a third person would disagree with both of them or argue the basic validity of the point they were trying to make. Internal fighting would ensue, leaving me with my head in my hands at my desk.

It got to the point where, a couple of times, I just stopped talking and listened to them bicker amongst themselves. After about 2-3 minutes it would go quiet in the room as they realized that I wasn't talking anymore. I gave it a few seconds and then I said "Are you ready for me to continue now?" which illicited multiple responses and further back-and-forth banter.

At 9am I wrapped it up, having only skimmed 40% of what I would normally talk about, and told them I had another meeting to attend. I told them I would reactivate their demo so, again, they could play with it to their heart's content. At which point my contact asked me if I could do some of the custom programming we had discussed, before I sent the demo over. When I told him that I needed a signed contract to do any work on his behalf, he ignored me and continued to reiterate his point about why the programming needed to be done (a point which was not under dispute.) Again, in-fighting ensued.

"Ok guys, well, thanks for your time. I'll send you an email with your demo account details," I said and put the phone down.

I was nice but I was getting to the point where I couldn't be any longer.

I pray to god they dissapear off my prospect list. If they're like this BEFORE they sign up, can you imagine how much time they'll waste once they become a client.

NO THANK YOU.

Now I'm going to take a shower and attempt an attitude readjustment for the day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here she is!


MaggieDay1 046
Originally uploaded by Travel Vixen
Here is our little Maggie, who had a pretty good first day. See more photos here.

While Frankie continues to be determined not to have anything to do with his new sister, lil sis is coming on in leaps and bounds.

We've had some accidents in the house but for the most part she has been doing her "business" in one spot on the yard - even, in a couple of instances, taking herself there!

She is a little time waster, though. Trying to get anything done while maintaining constant vigilance over her butt and mouth - both of which are equally a threat to house and home - is nigh-on impossible. I guess I forgot how hard this was the first time around, or perhaps only being 24 at the time I didn't care as much. Anyway, I can understand how mothers of new babies say they don't achieve very much in a day... after all this is just a puppy!

Despite this, she is a joy to watch. We bought her a little ball with a bell inside it and she chases it around the floor, pouncing on it whenever it gets out of her control. If she could speak I think she'd be saying "Gotcha!"

She hasn't given up on Frankie, either, even managing to follow him upstairs this afternoon (poor Frankie, his last private Idaho disappearing before his eyes.) Getting down wasn't as easy: a couple of times I thought her back legs were going to flip over her head!

So far so good... keep your fingers, toes, eyes, legs, arms and any other limb capable of moving, crossed for continued successes in the house of chaos and confusion...

Over and out.

A momentary truce

Puppy on seat beside me to the right, on couch. Dog on couch beside me to left, on couch. I am the Berlin Wall.

All this is based on Maggie's continued snoozing, of course. If only a third person were here to capture this.

New digs... new digger

We're in.

Whew!

Finally, everything got pulled out of the townhouse on Saturday and thrown into the new house. Pull-and-throw pretty much sums up the process, since it's now Wednesday and, while we've definitely dug our way out of quite a bit, we're still mountain high in unpacked boxes and miscellaneous bits-and-bobs all over the place. About the only area fully functional is the kitchen, which gives you some idea of where my priorities lie!

Part of the problem is/was that none of our closets (aside from a small one in the guest room) have any kind of hardware in them to enable us to hang or stack anything in them. No rods, no shelves... nuttin'. So, Hubbie spent most of Sunday (bless him - this is why I love him) building closet-maid shelving and rails in one of our two master bedroom closets, just so I can hang some stuff. Of course, I haven't really had time to unpack anything to put in there; hopefully tonight.

Also, up until yesterday we didn't have an internet connection or landline phone. While AT&T had activated our new phone number, something was up with the wiring in the house and we couldn't get a dial tone out of any of the sockets. Fortunately for my working situation, a hapless neighbor had left their home wireless network without a security key, so I was able to jack their connection for a few days. Whoever you are, neighbor... THANK YOU! The AT&T guy came yesterday to rectify the situation and we're now full operational. I have to say that the DSL is super fast, so well worh the wait.

Also, to add to the situation of total chaos and confusion, we picked up our new puppy last night. Maggie is her name and she's another black cocker spaniel, just like my existing 8-year old dog, Frankie (Maggie and Frankie, for those of you who are curious, are the names of my maternal grandparents who I was very close to).

We bought her straight from the breeder (she's barely 8 wks old) and took Frankie with us to pick her up last night - Frankie in the back seat and Maggie in her crate next to him. Needless to say, much growling, howling, yapping, and barking accompanied us home, but in general we were impressed with Frankie's composure.

You see, Frankie is not really a dog-loving dog. (This is the part when you wonder why on earth, then, we would see fit to bring another dog into our house. What can I say? We're gluttons for punishment!) My sister-in-law has a dog and my mother-in-law had a dog that not so long ago passed away. They were/are both German Shepherds and every time Frankie is/was in close proximity with either of them, he would turn into his very own impersonation of Kujo - growling, baring teeth etc... I have no idea why. I exposed him to other people's dogs when he was a pup and he was fine. I don't know why or when his tolerance of other dogs changed but for some reason it did and I think the only way to "cure" or manage it at this point is with some very expensive one-on-one dog training with an expert.

My theory, however, was that a smaller dog (in this case a puppy) would pose less of a physical threat to him. By and large, I have so far been right. (I'm touching LOTS of wood at my desk right now.) His reaction has been one of, mostly, indifference and denial. He just doesn't want anything to do with her. She, however, is ready to be his BFF.

The resulting, entertaining spectacle is a puppy, as small as your arm from your wrist to elbow, falling over herself to chase a 35lb dog who, whenever she gets within 5 feet, turns tail and bolts in a completely different direction. Of course, Maggie thinks this is all a great game, and proceeds to pursue Frankie in earnest, often falling up or down the steps on our deck or in our family room in the process.

The cat-and-mouse game (or in this case pup-and-dog) basically continued last night until Frankie realized that he could go places Maggie couldn't... yet. So, Frankie has become an upstairs dog for now. Hubbie practically had to drag him down this morning!

Maggie had a good night overall, only waking up and yapping once from her little crate. We ignored her and she went back to sleep. Unfortunately, that yap probably had something to do with the poop that Hubbie found in there this morning when he came down to let her out. Otherwise, we've only had a couple of little pee-pees in the house; mostly we've been able to get her to 'go' on her training pad on the deck.

Right now I've blocked her off in the kitchen, just so I can shower and get some stuff done... something which she wasn't best pleased about. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the kitchen with photos of her on it. So, you'll have to wait for cute pup photos. She's currently sleeping; a state I'm in no hurry to get her out of.

So, basically, stay tuned for more hilarity in the house of chaos and confusion...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The HIGHS and lows of moving

Moving is a roller-coaster process.

HIGH: We get the house. YAY!
LOW: We haven't packed a thing. YIKES!

HIGH: Hubbie knows a contractor who is in need of work and will help us to do odd jobs before we move in; like adding a doggie-door in the laundry room. Hubbie secures him a week in advance.
LOW: The contractor gets a big gig and cancels our appt.

HIGH: I know an electrician who does work on the side and he agrees to help us with things like our clicking attic fan and a new ceiling fan in the bedroom that won't lop our head off.
LOW: The electrician screws up the time and leaves Hubbie high-and-dry.

HIGH: Hubbie knows a tile guy who can mend and reseal our tiles at the townhouse for a reasonable price. He's in a deal with the other buyer's agent in his realtor team.
LOW: The deal gets screwed up... who knows if he'll have the goodwill to help us now.

HIGH: We're going to be the modern-day Jetsons with integrated Cable, Telephone, and Internet... all for less than we're paying now.
LOW: They cut our DSL off at the old house 3 days early and leave me without internet connection (remembering I work from home.)

HIGH: I'm going to paint my office beautiful colors.
LOW: We find out in the process that we need new baseboard, the crown molding needs to come off, and the door needs re-painting.

HIGH: My hip's been doing GREAT!
LOW: ... that was until I started trying to lift boxes and run up-and-down stairs. Guess I didn't realize how much I have curbed my movements in regular, every-day life to accomodate my itsy-bitsy disability. Surgery definitely needed. I'm 32, not 82.

HIGH: A lady from San Francisco comes to see our townhome and fills out an application to rent it. She passes the credit and background check. She sends a cashiers check deposit FedEx. She's going to pay the full amount we wanted which will pretty much cover most of our expenses and move in on September 1st! We cancel our weekend ads.
LOW: Before the cashiers check arrives, she emails me to let me know she's changed her mind.


In the end it will all be worth it but when you're up and down like this within the course of a week, you start to feel a little seasick.

I work from the office on Thursdays and so this lunchtime I sped down the freeway to my new house and sat on the swing on my new deck for 15 minutes, just to remind myself why I'm putting myself through all this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh crap!

In packing some items today during my lunch hour, I came across a tin of English minced beef in gravy. I love this stuff. Oooooooo, I thought, I'll have this for lunch.

And then I turned around to open the drawer to grab a can opener (one of about 4 we have in all different styles).... and found I had packed every last one.

Boooo hooooooo.

Trailer park wars: an update

Things have gone pretty quiet next door, which is a blessing because we're trying to show the townhouse to renters.

Hubbie got the full story from our neighbor (the husband) the other day and his wife did indeed cheat on him after 20 years of marriage. Hubbie said he looked gutted (understandable) and started crying while talking to him (the husband, not Joss - he's sensitive but not that sensitive.)

Despite the fact that we have not particularly enjoyed unavoidably eavesdropping on their drama, we do feel really sorry for him. He's not the most subtle or sophisticated of human beings, it doesn't change the fact that he's beligerant and very angry man at heart, but despite all this nobody deserves to be lied to by someone they love.

It sounded like he was trying to find it in his heart to stay with her... he was trying to try, so to speak. After 20 years I can't even imagine how it would feel; probably like the floor has just fallen out from beneath you.

We have too much stuff

It's not a new realization but it's one that definitely makes me groan at moving time.

As I open cupboards to pack, I see two, three, four, versions of the same thing... the one at the back forgotten about and a new one(s) purchased... none of them touched in months, if not years.

Once I'm into the new place I am going to have a brutal throwing out session. This is just plain ridiculous... nobody needs this much crap.

ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

I seriously hope that one day I am rich enough to pay someone else to do this part of the moving process. I've moved 8 times now in 12 years and I'm soooo over it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dominoes

We started to move into the house this past weekend... bit by bit. Since everything came together within a matter of 2-3 days, we hadn't really packed anything, so we're trying to pack-and-move at the same time, getting the smaller stuff out before Saturday which will be the big move date.

And, as my hubbie says, I have to make things harder.

I was determined not to move my desk into a yucky gray-cream room and so I took it upon myself to paint my future office this past Sunday while hubbie was working. Heck, I'm an independent woman, I thought, I can do this on my own!

Ummm.... yep.

My ambitious plan was to have a two-tone room; a darker color on the bottom third of all the walls and a lighter color on the top two thirds.

I went over to the new house with all my supplies (which, I'll admit, hubbie staged at the back door for me - hey, he knew where all this stuff was!), my energy-infused Jamba Juice, and a stack of boppy CDs. I taped-off the baseboards (which are actually chair rails; don't ask me what they were thinking) and put down the drop-cloths.

I'm was feeling pretty smart. Who needed a man?

Then I set to taping-off the door frame.... only then did I realize I didn't have the step-ladder. Being five foot one and three quarters, the step ladder is not negotiable. Cripes. Ok, I thought, I'll just do whatever I can reach for now and then go home to get the step-ladder afterward.

So I continued taping, crawling on my hands and knees into the closet cubby. But as I taped, the chair-rail-base-board started to come away in my hands.

Who needs baseboard - especially chair-rail-baseboard - in the closet? I'll just pull it.

This got me looking a little harder at the makeshift baseboard and 'crown moulding' (pah!) throughout the room. Poor cuts, located half-way along the wall and shoddy nailing left it a few millimeters away from the wall in several spots.

I think we need new baseboard; how much can it be for a small room like this?

Resolved to spend the money on new baseboard, I continued on my merry way around the wall, painting the top two thirds of the room in my pretty, buttery yellow, as high as my five-foot frame would carry me - and a little higher with a nifty little jump-and-roll maneuvre I think I'm going to patent.

With Janet Jackson's Black Cat blasting away on my Bose stereo (how great to not worry about neighbors with a common wall!) I danced and painted my way three quarters of the way around the room, finally getting to the doorway.

This is going waaaaay good, I thought with renewed vigor. Hubbie is going to be soooo proud of me.

And then I closed the door to reach the wall behind.

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

In our fervor to purchase the house with all it's aesthetic defects, we had neglected to actually turn over every rock (or door, to be specific.) So, it was only then that I saw the nasty pinky-browny color on the back of the door. It is beyond hideous and there is no way it can stay. I think it actually made me nauseous.

The realization hit me as I looked around the room with new eyes.... the door trim was white, the 'baseboards' were cream, the chair-rail-come-crown-moulding was cream, and the door was poopy brown.

My list was going to have to grow:

  • The baseboards needed replacing.

  • The door needed re-painting.

  • The chair-rail-come-crown-moulding needed pulling

And thus began the domino effect.

I looked at the two tins of differently colored paint sitting side-by-side on the drop-cloth and asked the hard questions: How much do I really want a two-tone room?

To help me make up my mind, I decided to paint the darker beige color (which was to be the bottom of the wall) in one area, just to ensure that I liked it on the wall as much as I did in the swatches.

Oh boy, am I glad I did that!

Set against the bright-and-buttery yellow, the beige paint looked like smeared poop. Not good. A change of plan was definitely necessary.

So now all the walls are buttery except one. The wall by the window (which is a small area) I am going to paint a yummy bright tangerine orange. For those of you who saw my cube at work, you know the color I mean - the color of my chair. Since I brought all my work stuff home from the office this past week, I decided to take a cue from my bright yellow, orange, and red accessories and fit the room to the stuff. It's going to be bold but I'm pretty confident it will also be beautiful. (Although the guy at the paint counter at Home Depot raised his eyebrows and did a double-take when he saw the swatch I handed to him.)

I'll take pictures when it all comes together, so you'll be able to decide for yourself.

The other knock-on effect of this process was that we started opening and closing doors throughout the house and discovered similarly poopy colors on the back-side of the doors in other rooms.

Hubbie is kind of excited, however. My mum bought us a paint sprayer several years ago and we have never had the room to use it. He's now planning to luxuriate in all his new-found space by spray-painting all the trim and the doors in either the yard or the garage. Bless him. This is why I married him.

Friday, August 10, 2007

We HAVE a house!!!!



We closed yesterday at aroiund 4pm. We're really excited but there is just so much to do. Since everything really just came together on Tuesday of this week, we hadn't even started packing! Our goal is to be out of the townhouse a week from Saturday.

One of the cool things about moving is that we've been able to do some research on some new utilities, most importantly our satellite tv. Right now we have DirecTV, which we've been very happy with. However, in researching, we found that AT&T (our telephone and internet provider) has a relationship with Dish Network and they are practically giving away something called "iHome" (I think that's the name.) It's basically a central computer system for your house that links your satellite tv with your telephone with your internet access and home network. For those of you that are scratching your head about why the heck anyone would want to do that, the possibilities are literally endless. We'll be able to listen to our voicemails through email, read email on the tv, see CallerID on the tv etc... Their plans also include to link things like doorbells, garage doors, and mailboxes so you can control your whole hosue from one central hub. All of this at an overall cost reduction for packaging all the services.

Of course, we're doing it. Talk to us in a year and we may resemble the modern-day Jetsons.

This is just one of many things we need to set-up and achieve in the next week but it's an unexpected and unforeseen benefit

In addition to packing, I'll be painting this weekend. The first room I want to set-up is my office (since I work from home this room needs to be operational right away.) Painting is the most important first step since the walls are cream right now and, if you know anything about me at all, you know that cream walls give me an anxiety attack. (They're drab, unimaginative, and they make me feel like I'm in a rental.) I picked Ralph Lauren Cottonwood and Wicker Mat (if you've never used Ralph Lauren paint before you should - it goes on so easily and the coverage is amazing... only one coat needed!) and of course I will be decorating with my signature orange, yellow, and red accessories.

So, with that all said, I need to get to work (the money-making vs. spending type).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We MAY have a house...

So, it looks like we have a new house by week's end.

YIKES!

I guess the sellers found the extra cash to make-up the difference on their loan and want to close by Friday. I signed loan docs this afternoon and, assuming they come up with the money they say they will be, we'll be proud owners of this property by the end of the week: www.5471plantain.com

Of course we haven't even started packing and we don't have the condo rented yet, so there's a LOT to do.

Again... YIKES!

Trailer trash wars: Installment 2

And so it continues....

I just never knew that one person could yell this much without having a nervous breakdown. So much venom just can't be good for one person. Oh the horrid names he is calling her!

What's worse is that their argument is an unending circle... it's going nowhere. She claims she's done nothing, he doesn't believe her. He says it's over, she begs and pleads with him to see reason. He yells some more. And loop...

Personally, the whole thing is so alien to me. Firstly, I NEVER call names in an argument. I am a logical arguer, not an emotional one. Calling names gets you nowhere - those who sling mud lose ground and all that. Secondly, while I'm not immune to screaming once in a while when I'm frustrated and feeling like I'm not getting heard, I can't continue to scream about the same thing over-and-over-and-over again. I just don't have the patience. If I feel like I'm not getting anywhere I change tactics or I walk away to get some space and perspective. Arguments, while serving as an emotional release, also need to be productive and forward moving.

Not so for my next-door neighbors. Aparently they both took the day off work to have these pointless screaming matches with one another. Lucky me!

Trailer trash wars

Last night all hell erupted next door.

The yelling, banging, and cussing through the night seemed to be about the mother's aparant dalliance with another man. Between screamed insults we've managed to hear enough to form a theory that mom has been sharing sexy emails with another man, emails that have now been discovered by dad. Dad is now convinced - and won't hear otherwise - that mom has stepped out on him.

Thus, our evening (and even morning as I headed out to the gym) has been punctuated by the continual volley of

"Don't you tell me you didn't **ck him!"
"I didn't **ck him!"
"Don't you **cking tell me that!"

...or versions thereof.

Being as there was nothing worth watching on the tv last night, we turned it down and gained our free entertainment from the soap opera next door.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Looking this cute is thirsty work!


Adah visit 080507 005
Originally uploaded by Travel Vixen
Sunday Hubbie's sister, husband, and daughter came to visit. Adah is now ten months old and almost walking. She's also teething, hence the stuck-out tongue in the picture. Cute summer dress courtesy of her proud Aunty.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mr. Buggy goes to the Doctor

And you know what the Doctor says?

Tough it out. It's a virus and there's nothing you can do.

See... I knew it all along. Pffft.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mr. Buggy and Hubbie's altercation

So, I finally succumbed yesterday and tried to make a doctor's appointment, much to Hubbie's elation. If it was up to Hubbie I would dash off to the doctor's office every time I had a sniffle; clearly this is not my M.O.

Have I ever mentioned before how utterly rude and surly my doctor's receptionists are? Well, they are. From the moment they pick up the phone you feel like you're a problem patient. The unsaid undertone in their voice is "Dear God, another patient. What the hell do you want?" Maybe it's the fact that they're Russion or Ukranian or whatever - it's kind of stereotypical of me but I can't imagine that doctor's offices in Russia are bastions of cheer and helpful customer service.

So, as a result, I pretty much take a deep breath whenever I call the doctor. Patience and humility are needed, qualities that are often in short supply when you're anxious, grouchy, iritable, or just plain tired as a result of whatever ailment you're calling them to try and fix.

The good news was that they actually picked up yesterday. It's pretty hit or miss with them as to whether they're actually open. (I did, in my defense, have Hubbie try to call them last Friday at 3pm but they were closed.) I've never quite been able to figure out my doctor's hours are. You can call at 1pm and an answering service picks up (and WTF with that? Who has an answering service any more? They're totally and utterly worthless. It's just a human telling you they're closed, they can't make an appointment, and you should call 911 if you need urgent care. I'd be less insulted if it was an answering machine.) Or you can try to make an appointment on a specific day of the week only to turn up and find out that you've been passed-off to the nurse practitioner (she who tells me with every pap-smear that I'm almost too late to have kids, provides helpful baby-making advice like "lay on your back with your legs against a wall after sex." and, when I requested malaria pills, pulls out an aging dictionary of medicines and flips to 'M' for malaria while asking me which pills I would like. )

After the usual "Doctor XXX's office, can you hold?", I finally get Helga (sorry, stereotypes again but I can't resist.) "Yes?" "I'd like to make an appointment to see the doctor." "Ok, please hold." Seriously? Why are you answering the phone if you're not able or prepared to take appointments? Now I get Ingrid. "Why are you coming in?" "I've had a cold for more than a week that won't go away, along with headaches and a preety bad cough." "Let me see, the earliest appointment we have is Thursday at 10am." "THURSDAY!?"

Ok, by Thursday I'm going to be better all by myself. At that point, I'm hardly going to subject myself to antibiotics that give me a bladder infection.

When I told Hubbie this, he went into action behind my back. He called Helga and Ingrid and tried to appeall to their "better" nature to squeeze me in a little earlier. Obviously, he was fighting a losing battle there. They didn't call it the iron curtain for nothing. He was told that if I wanted to see someone today I would need to go to the urgent care facility at the end of my road. Ok, now why would I sit for 2-3 hours in an urgent care facility with a bunch of people who sliced off their finger, or have a nail in their foot (ie: people with need for actual URGENT care) just to get some antibiotics? I'd feel like a real imposter and plus it's a colossal waste of my time.

So, I'm getting a new doctor. I did some research online and found a nice looking lady in a medical practice with more than one doctor on-hand and opening hours that resemble full-time. I have to wait until September 1st to see her because the HMO can't switch me before then. Ironic of course that I have to switch before I actually meet her. I hope she's as nice as she looks online. It occurs to me that this is just as sketchy as online dating.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Trailer park update

It's 7:15 in the morning and it sounds like my wall is going to cave in. Today the activity next door has progressed to mind-numbing banging. Meanwhile, our neighbor is standing out front on his bluetooth, smoking a cigarette, and coughing his heart out. How do I get a non-smoking ordinance in front of my condo? You know, like the ones you have in front of Starbucks?

Monday, July 30, 2007

I live in a trailer park

Ok, well, you're right... I don't actually live in a trailer park, I live in a fairly decent neighborhood in a row of townhouses, but I'm beginning not to know the difference.

My next door neighbors are GHETTO.

There, I've said it. God knows, at some point in the near future California Real Estate Law is going to require that sellers disclose all blog entries pertaining to annoying neighbors and I'm going to seriously regret this rant. (Hubbie is cringing as I write this, I can predict.)

About a year ago Hubbie sold the next door townhouse to a family with three teenage daughters. Hubbie was the listing agent so he didn't represent the buyers only the desperate seller, in dire straits having lost her job and facing foreclosure on her property. So, my point is, we can't blame Hubbie for the new neighbor.

Right after they moved in, we knew it was going to be a bad deal.

The father immediately started accosting poor Hubbie out front whenever he was out there watering our potted plants or over the fence in the back yard while we were bbq'ing. The man is a heart attack waiting to happen... well, actually he already had one, but he's headed straight for a second and possibly third.

He's one of those people who spend all his time finding fault with others in this world and asserting his superiority over them without once looking in the mirror at himself. (Although if I were him I wouldn't be looking either.) His preferred method of communication with his wife and daughters is shouting, cussing, and insults, most famously done in front of the house on the street.

You can imagine the scene: 300lbs of man meets 200lbs of teenager, pointing fingers, tears, yelling, hurling insults while walking up to the front door, dodging insults while walking away, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Mom gets involved in order to "calm everyone down" but soon becomes part of the melee. Second teenage daughter appears to support sister, dragging her away, sobbing and cussing, into the pick-up truck.

It's great entertainment when there's nothing on the tv but not so wonderful if you're trying to get your place rented. (God help us if we try to bring someone by to view the place.)

What's worse is that Dad immediately waltzed-in and got himself on the board of directors for our HOA. Now he's changing all the rules to meet his angry whim. For instance, before he arrived the pet size limit was 35lbs. About a month after he moved in, they bought a black lab mix (yes, in a 1400 sq ft townhome) that clearly had no intention of remaining under 35lbs. This week we find, coincidentally, the pet size limit has been increased to 70lbs. Totally impractical for a townhome community but then I'm sure black labbie next door comes in at a clean 69.9lbs.

The latest installment in the next-door saga is the flooring. I guess he ripped out the carpet which, while not being top-quality, was new when they moved in. Unfortunately, he didn't bother to check what the pricing of new carpeting is these days and when he couldn't afford to pay for it up front, got turned d0wn for credit at almost every place in town. (Probably something to do with his 100% financing and two brand-new car payments.) In the interim his house boasted cement flooring... painted blue... with red walls. With no carpet, the dolcet tones of the entire family's volly of continual insults echoes around their rooms and booms through our common walls.

This weekend was the time for the new flooring to be laid. We're not exactly sure what he's been trying to lay or where, but there's been much sawing, banging, and cussing, accompanied by toing-and-froing in front of the house in wife-beater shirts.

All of which is VERY condusive to working from home.

In other news... still nothing from the seller's bank on the place we're trying to buy.

Uggghhh! Blech! Arggghhh!

I'm sick. I feel like I've been sick since... well, forever. Okay, I'm exaggerating it's actually since last Tuesday but seriously, that's almost a week!!!!

If you know me well, you'll know that I have no patience for anything that slows me down and stops me from doing what I want to do - sickness included. And most of the time I'm pretty good at powering through whatever bug or injury has been kind enough to grace me with it's presence. Every now and then, however, something comes along that decides this whole 'mind over matter' thing is a load of rubbish and kicks me right back on my ass.

This is one such nasty buggy and it has an evil sense of humor.

It started with a sore throat on Tuesday afternoon, closely followed by an all-encompassing sense of exhaustion that had me sleeping twelve hours. After giving in to Mr. Buggy with all that sleep, I felt certain I'd sent him packing.

Not so fast, he said. Wednesday's menu included a sore throat, swollen glands, stubborn headache, and again the urge to nap after every activity more energetic than lifting the remote control. Refusing to admit defeat, I grabbed hubbie for a latte and an evening drive through the countryside to see a house he had just sold, thinking I just needed some fresh air. This has to be the worst of it, I thought, dragging myself up the stairs to bed as if I had shackles on my ankles.

By Thursday, the sore throat had turned into a little cough but overall I was feeling better. Off to the office I went, thinking 'I sure showed Mr. Buggy.' That afternoon I began to lose my voice. Mr. Buggy, I was learning, likes to fake you out. But, no mind, off I went to a football game, yelling and screaming (well, ok more like squeaking and squarking) for England. By the time I got home I felt like someone had poured acid down my throat. All I needed, I thought in my naivety, was a good night's sleep.

On Friday I opened my mouth and pretty much nothing but an "eeek" came out. I continued to work, apologizing to my potential and current clients as I let all calls go to voicemail and replied to everyone via email. Still, I ignored the buzzing in my head and the need to nap, thinking I could just tune out Mr. Buggy.

Saturday had me feeling like I'd got it licked. While my voice was only little more than an "eeek" (now almost an "eeeeek"), overall I felt good. Hubbie and I jumped back in the car and headed out to Jackson Rancheria, an Indian Gaming Casino in the boonies of Amador County. We feasted in the buffet, gambled, and then headed home $10 richer. Yep, last of the great winners here. I went to bed Saturday night dreaming of waking up on Sunday with boundless energy, and the urge to do laundry and housework. (Hey, who said dreams had to have anything to do with reality.)

Mr. Buggy had other ideas.

Back came the headache, the utter exhaustion, the buzzing in my head, the coughing - all now coupled with the inability to breath through my nose. I managed to get some laundry done, inbetween laying on the sofa and groaning in defeat. If I'd had a white flag, honestly, I would have been waving it.

Mr. Buggy had won. I spent almost the entire day on the sofa, unable to move, barely able to keep my eyes open, and propped-up by pillows to ward-off the coughing fits. I didn't leave the 1400 square feet of my house all day, except to pick up hubbie whose car broke down.

It's now Monday and I'm still not 100%. Buzzing, coughing, a little tired still (although lord knows how.) But I didn't wake up at 4:30 to go to the gym this morning; I let myself sleep in. My white flag is quite firmly in the air.

I HATE being sick.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thoroughly flummoxed

That's me with this whole Roberto Gonzales maelstrom right now.

HOW IS THIS MAN STILL IN OFFICE?

It never ceases to amaze me how the Bush administration manages to weazle itself out of these things. Sometimes I feel like I'm part of a Harry Potter novel, with everybody going about their business as if nothing is wrong while an entire undercurrent of evil and corruption bubbles under the surface - everyone knows it's there but nobody will call it by name. Well, VOLDEMORT, I mean BUSH, I say!

Finding memories in unexpected places

Last night Hubbie and I went to a football game (and by football I mean the real kind, not the rugby-for-pussies kind). The game was a "friendly" between Preston, a small British football club, and a Mexican team from Monterrey.

I dragged hubbie there to cheer the Brits on, something which I never would have dreamed of doing while living in the UK. Growing up in England, I avoided football matches - televised and live - like the plague. My main exposure to the sport was from my Grandad - my Mum's Dad - who loved the sport and would tune into "Match of the Day" which is akin to Monday Night Football in the U.S., except it's on a Sunday. My Grandad loved football and my uncle, my Mum's brother Frankie, was football mad. Frankie's kids, my cousins Darren and Paul, all played professionally, Darren even playing for the England Youth Team. My Uncle, Frankie, was a scout for Tottenham for a while during it's heyday with Terry Venabales (a previous England coach and a friend of my Uncle's), Gary Linnekar and Gazza. My Mum, as a girl, even has great stories about sitting on Terry Venabales knee.

Of course, to those of you who know nothing at all about "soccer" I'm sounding very knowledgeable right now. Really my shameless name-dropping is pathetic at best to the average Brit. Even if you don't watch football in England, it's hard for the national sport not to drift into your consciousness - kind of like, as an American, it's hard not to know that Barry Bonds is going for the home-run record right now. Basically, you would need to turn off all forms of media and put your head in the sand.

Where I'm going with this (and I am going somewhere) is that the likelihood of me dragging my husband to a football game had I of continued living in the UK, was slim to none. But it's amazing what you grasp desperately onto from your home country once you leave.

So, there I was, sitting in a converted minor-league baseball field in Sacramento, a stadium packed with Mexican immigrants, watching a little-known team from northern England play a Mexican football team. What's more, I was even enjoying it.

We had great seats, close to mid-field and only eight rows back from the pitch, and the sight of a big, round football soaring high and long down the pitch, almost brought tears to my eyes. As the teams moved up and down the pitch, tackling, fowling, even fighting, I realized how much I had missed this game that had lived on the peripheral of my consciousness throughout my entire childhood. The atmosphere was electric, people straining to watch the game as it moved closer to either end of the pitch, then rising to their feet to cheer or express disappointment when someone went for the goal. How could anyone love the snail's pace of baseball, or the constant stoppages and littany of rules of American Football better than this?

What's more, I couldn't help thinking: My Grandad would be so proud. And at the same time Why didn't I give this game a chance before? All those years I complained and rolled my eyes as the music to "Match of the Day" filled our living room, and I should have been sitting side-by-side with my Grandad, sharing in his passion. Throughout the game images popped in and out of my head, images of Grandad sitting in his armchair, legs crossed, with one of his knitted cardigans on, grumbling at the tv set as his team, West Ham, inevitably lost. He's been gone for sixteen years, half my life, but yesterday I really missed him.

We left 10 minutes before the end of the game. Preston was down 0-1 and even through my rose-tinted glasses I could tell they weren't playing all that well. I hear Monterrey won 2-0 in the end.

Monday, July 23, 2007

JOKE OF THE DAY

A husband and wife are vacationing out at a remote lake.

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decidesto take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decidesto take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman andsays, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could startat any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Vote in my poll...

See right-hand column... down in the "white" area. I would have put it at the top but the writing doesn't show up on the dark blue column.

Thanks to The Gerli Life for the blogaddition.

Britrant... Simpsonized!

Hot on the heels of the "Southparkme" tool comes "Simpsonize Yourself."


Here is me, Simpsonized and hanging out at a bar with Homer himself.



In other news, a tin of incense fell onto one of my toes and it's either broken or has a hairline fracture. Either way.... OUCH!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from blogiatus

Ok, so I've been really slack at posting lately. In my defense, I have good reason.


First, my Mum was out the week of July 4th...



Second, Hubbie and I are in the throws of trying to buy a house. Yes, we finally found one that fits all our criteria and, if all goes according to plan, we're getting a killer deal.

We have the seller's signature but, because it's a short-sale, we have to wait for their bank to approve the purchase price. So, until we get approval I'm not going to jinx us by providing any more information. If/when we do, you bet I will!

The domino effect of all of this is that we're also trying to rent our townhouse. Since the market is so down here in Sac, there's little point in trying to sell it. Right now we're painting and taking care of some latent home-maintenance issues with the goal of getting a tennant asap, to avoid a gap between the purchase of the new place (if/when we get it) and the vacating of the townhouse.

Last night we painted 1/2 of the living room with a more neutral golden brown, replacing my much beloved Ralph Lauren Chamois yellow (which is not everyone's cup of tea.) We still have 1/2 a living room, the stairwell, upstairs hallway, downstairs bathroom, and master bedroom left. That's without mentioning cleaning the tile grout and replacing the water heater. Phew!

In other news, I wanted to mention two small human acts of kindness that have totally taken me by surprise these past couple of weeks:

  1. After loading my shopping into my trunk in the Trader Joe's parking lot, I turned around to see where the nearest trolley park was (shopping cart for you Yanks). As I did so, a woman came past me pushing her own empty trolley. "Let me take that for you," she said. So unaccustomed to a stranger's umprompted generosity was I that I actually looked hard at her to ensure she wasn't carrying a gun and about to mug or car-jack me. I even protested: "No, that's okay. Thank you. I can do it." "No, really. I'm heading over there anyway," she persisted, grabbing the handle from me. And off she walked. Never seen her before, may never see her again. How nice was that?
  2. Hubbie and I went up to Foresthill on Friday night, site of our wedding just 8 months ago. (If you can believe it, we still get to stay and drink for free at the hotel where we got married. Anyway... that's not the story.) Saturday morning we head to the "Starlight Cafe" for breakfast, a hole-in-the-wall cafe on the Foresthill Road with the worst tasting coffee I've ever had the misfortune of drinking. After a few minutes, a family we had seen at the Forest House hotel the night before walked in. The young woman of the group was getting married that very afternoon. Her father-in-law recognized us from the Forest House and we exchanged greetings, then later small talk but that was about the extent of our relationship. Done with breakfast, we asked our waitress for the check and she told is that the father-in-law had picked-up our tab. We were pretty flabberghasted. Again we protested but gracefully accepted his generosity. Leaving, Hubbie said "That was weird," equally as suspicious of the man's motives as I had been of the woman who had taken back my trolley.

Both situations really touched me even though the gestures were small. Here were two complete strangers who performed random acts of kindness without expectation of anything in return.

In my suspicion of their actions, however, I recognized something sad. So seldom is it these days that we humans show each other kindness or common courtesy without agenda, that we actually question the motives of a stranger who is nice to us! I've seen the movie Pay It Forward, and I definitely experience kindness from my friends and colleagues, but I've rarely (if ever in my recollection) been the recipient of such efforts from complete strangers.

So, I resolve to perform random acts of kindness whenever the appropriate opportunity arises now. As I do so, I will post them here. If you do the same, please share what you did and what the reaction was and I'll include them in a post.

PAY IT FORWARD!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Should we all start praying to Allah?

I'm not one to panic but Chester the Bear's comment on one of my posts got me thinking...

Said the soft cuddly one: "Personally, I think it's the beginning of the end of the world as we know it, and your kids had better learn Chinese and Arabic if they're going to get anywhere."

It's certainly true that western, white christians are not procreating at the same rate as other religions and races.

This from www.danielpipes.org:

Indigenous Europeans are dying out. Sustaining a population requires each woman on average to bear 2.1 children; in the European Union, the overall rate is one-third short, at 1.5 a woman, and falling. One study finds that, should current population trends continue and immigration cease, today's population of 375 million could decline to 275 million by 2075.To keep its working population even, the E.U. needs 1.6 million immigrants a year; to sustain the present workers-to-retirees ratio requires an astonishing 13.5 million immigrants annually.

AND

Europe is increasingly a post-Christian society, one with a diminishing connection to its tradition and its historic values. The numbers of believing, observant Christians has collapsed in the past two generations to the point that some observers call it the "new dark continent." Already, analysts estimate Britain's mosques host more worshippers each week than does the Church of England.

Some 5% of the E.U., or nearly 20 million persons, presently identify themselves as Muslims; should current trends continue, that number will reach 10% by 2020. If non-Muslims flee the new Islamic order, as seems likely, the continent could be majority-Muslim within decades.

The National Intelligence Council projects that Europe's Muslim population will double by 2025.

I don't know who this guy is (and honestly he is a bit "worst case scenario") but he and Chester have a point. Are we a dying race? And if so, what on earth does that look like for us?

It's not that we could become the minority in and of itself - I'm all for the melting pot theory - but the fact that the projected majority hate us, for the most part, and despise our way of life is pretty damning.

While not all Muslims are this way by any stretches of the imagination, there does seem to be a lack of desire to "melt", so to speak. It's more like oil and water, with only one able to rise to the top.

What do you think?

Is this just part of life's pendulum and eventually it will swing in the other direction before any major, radical world realignment happens? OR are we really staring down a future where all women wear burkas and the call to prayer will be heard on loudspeakers in London?

From brown rings to gold rings...

Quite possibly the strangest proposal I've heard yet...


Blair proposed as Cherie cleaned


Tony Blair proposed to Cherie while she was on her knees cleaning a toilet, she has revealed in a BBC One documentary.

In The Real Cherie Blair she says Mr Blair popped the question in a "terribly romantic" way while they were on holiday in 1979.

Meanwhile, the ex-prime minister has revealed he sometimes called his wife - a Liverpudlian - "Bolshie Scouser".

The Blairs left Downing Street last week, with Mrs Blair telling reporters: "I don't think we'll miss you."

Mrs Blair told how Mr Blair had proposed to her while they were on holiday in Tuscany in 1979, before he became an MP.

"As we were leaving to go home, I was cleaning up in the bathroom," she recalled.

"I'd cleaned the toilet and he suddenly announced, while I was on my knees, that maybe we should get married... It was terribly romantic!"
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Um... ok...? I guess Mr. Blair really appreciates a nice clean bowl. I wonder if she promised to love, honor, and Clorox?

Further proof that British men need some help in the relationship department. Jeez!

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p.s. A "Scouser" is a Liverpudlian, for those of you that were wondering.

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