Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Resolve, or Not To Resolve

I hate making New Year's resolutions. I don't think I've managed to follow through on one over the course of my entire life. I haven't made a resolution in years, largely because it's a sure-fire path to failure and, by extension, depression and self-loathing.

This is not to say I don't support the concept; the cusp of a new year is an excellent time to reflect on the previous 365 days and make some sort of conscious effort to improve upon them over the next 365. The problem is I inevitably set impossibly high goals for myself. Like losing 50 pounds. Or excercising 5 days a week. These kinds of expectations are clearly unrealistic for mere mortals such as myself, but I get swept up in the moment and the next thing I know I'm swearing off chocolate. As if.

So my more recent approach is to congratulate myself on getting through another year in customer service where I shed no blood or tears (mine or another's), appreciate the wonderful people I'm truly lucky to have in my life, and be thankful I have my health, a roof over my head, and a job that pays me decently well.

Next year's chips will fall where they may and hopefully in another 365 days I'll be counting all these same blessings again and looking forward to another year of them.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Think I Have a Christmas-cake Hangover (No, wait--It's PMS)

I was completely spoiled this year--my Mom got me not only a brand new coffee maker but also 3 different varieties of whole-bean coffee, two georgeous mugs, a set of 4 placemats with matching napkins and a steering wheel cover exactly like my friend Koochie's so I can think of both her and my Mom everytime I get in my car. My favourite aunt gave me a $50 gift card for Chapter's and my brother's family gave me a huge duffle-like travel bag with wheels and a pull-handle-thing for visiting my Honey in Cali.

Speaking of my Honey, he came home on Christmas Day (see? I said I was spoiled) and he brought me a purse made out of candy wrappers by Mexican prisoners. Where does he find these things? I can't make this shit up.

Tonight my KW friends and I are doing our gift exchange--we drew names when my Honey was here in November--and I can't wait to see what Randy got me! The suspense is killing me! I hope LP likes her gift and I'm really curious to see what Kiki got my Honey. She's gonna love what he got for her!

On a more serious note, my sister-in-law and nieces had a close call the week before Christmas. They're in the process of adding a ginormous addition to their house--a large 2 car garage with a new master suite above--and the furnace company had provided them with a temporary propane heater while they were replacing the exisiting furnace and some of the duct work.

My brother was away on an overnight for work so "the gals" were home alone. At some point while they were all asleep, the heater malfunctioned and started spewing soot and carbon monoxide into the house. When my sis-in-law woke up in the morning, she and the girls had this black stuff all around their noses and mouths. She called the contractor who in turn called the furnace company who then called my sis-in-law and told her to get herself and the kids to the hospital right away. All three of them had carbon monoxide poisoning and they've all been sick ever since. Ryles has a bad chest cold and a double-ear infection and Haydie has been so nauseous she's practically stopped eating and has lost a noticeable amount of weight. My sis-in-law also got a bad cold and had almost completely lost her voice by Christmas Day. All in all, it looks like their recovery will be long and slow. Very scary! It could have been a lot worse!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Barfed All Over My Livingroom

I got into the Christmas spirit (finally) yesterday and put up my tree and put out all my little Christmas knick-knacks and candle holders. No horizontal surface escaped unscathed: I have my collection of angels on my diningroom table along side a centrepiece of pinebows and candles; two snowman votive holders adorn my side table; 6 little wooden soldiers are protecting my bookshelf; and two nutcrackers and two angels (one playing a flute and the other a guitar) flank the top of the TV. It's pretty frickin' festive, I tell you!

I'm quite pleased with the tree; it's pretty heavily "decked" with a bunch of beautiful decorations accumulated over time from friends, family and my own shopping discoveries. I bought two special decorations in Sausalito this year--one is a silver flute and the other is an accoustic guitar--which I had managed to hide on myself quite effectively. I finally found them on the top shelf of my bedroom closet, tucked in next to the snowman figurine that my niece painted for me last year. I had to buy a larger 4 foot tree last year to accomodate all my decorations and there's no room to spare! Sadly I have no pictures to post since I'm still in the dark ages and don't own a digital camera, but I assure you it looks lovely.

I'm very excited about going home for Christmas because my Mom has insisted on a real tree this year. I'm so looking forward to the smell of pine throughout the house--we haven't had a real tree in more years than I can count without taking off a sock. There's nothing like a real tree--the needles under foot, the constant watering, the fire hazzard. Nothing says "Christmas" like a three-alarm fire! But seriously, I really am looking forward to it. Almost as much as I'm looking forward to my brother and sister-in-law's hot tub.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Think I'm Developing Super Powers

I just had the most productive weekend of my life. Saturday I went to the gym, went grocery shopping, baked 8 dozen Gingersnaps, made half my Christmas cards and went for beer at my favourite hang-out with Guy and Hymenia. Sunday I went back to the grocery store, went to Michaels for more card supplies, made the rest of my cards, made a giant pot of lentil chili for Sunday night dinner, talked to My Honey on the phone, did two loads of laundry and then spent the evening at Guy's eating the aforementioned chili.

I blame it all on Gonzo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CPAP UPDATE!!! you freakin' care...

It has been a week since I welcomed Gonzo into my life. I've had to make some adjustments, we've had to work through some issues, but all in all it's been a success. I am definitely feeling more rested and have more energy, especially in the evening (if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge...too bad My Honey's back in California).

I'm looking forward to bringing him home to meet Mom at Christmas. I think she'll approve :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sit On My Face and Tell Me That You Love Me!

Holy crap.

I have a confession to make. A small part of me doubted that this CPAP machine would really make that much difference. A large part of me desperately hoped it would, but there's always that small nagging voice of doubt that's there no matter how hard you try to stifle it.

Well, it has shut up now.

I had the best sleep last night in beyond recent memory. I woke up feeling completely refreshed, not at all groggy or tired. I've been in a fabulous mood all day and my energy level hasn't flagged yet! All my hopes and desires have been fulfilled by Gonzo.

Sorry Honey, but there's gonna be someone else in bed with us tonight.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm So Excited!

I picked up my new CPAP machine today for my 30 day free trial! I brought it home and set it up and it's there patiently waiting for me to use for the first time tonight.

I think I'll call it Gonzo.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guy Hosenpeter's Birthday Extravaganza!

On Saturday the gang and I helped Guy celebrate his "29th" birthday in style. During the day we visited several wineries including Angel's Gate, Chateau Des Charmes and Coyote's Run. Much wine was both tasted and purchased and by the time we were heading home we were ready for the greatly anticipated dinner that Guy was planning to make us all that night. Yes, you heard right: Guy made his own birthday dinner and let me tell you, what a dinner it was!

He made an absolutely fabulous meatloaf that was so moist and tasty it really shouldn't have been called meatloaf. This was accompanied by a sweet potato side dish that we all loved. Even Randy who hates sweet potato agreed it was tolerable. Guy also made us roasted green beans, bell peppers and onions and glazed carrots. It was a feast I tell you! Kiki offered to make dessert and she brought "Sex in a Pan" which really should have been called "Group Sex in a Pan" because she just put it in the middle of the table and we all dug into it.

After dinner came the wine (or in Kiki's case, rum) women and song part of the evening's festivities. We played dance music at top volume and got ourselves into the mood for going out to our regular Saturday night dancing destination where we danced the remainder of the evening (and part of early next morning) away.

All in all a successful birthday of which Guy should be extremely proud!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have I Mentioned How Much I Hate TV Commercials?

It's time for another rant! This one is courtesy of the marketing geniuses as Chevrolet. Apparently they think the way to attract women car buyers is to pelt them with 4 inch stilettos. I'm sure you've all seen the commercial where a female driver is suddenly startled by a shoe landing on her new Chevrolet Transverse gas-guzzler. She then proceeds to run out into the street along with other shoe-crazy women to collect the manna from heaven.

I perceive many problems with this scenario: 1) It would hurt like hell to be hit in the head by a Manalo Blahnik dropped from 40 000 feet; 2) Last time I checked shoes come in various sizes, styles and colours--the statistical probability that she'll end up with even one matching pair, let alone a pair that fits, is astronomical; 3) I've just purchased a $30 000+ SUV--do you really think I'm going to be okay with the shattered windshield and severely dented hood that will result from footwear hurtling at my vehicle from space?

But all these complaints pale in comparison to the blatant sexism and propagation of negative stereotypes that are at the heart of this ad. This my friends is why North American car manufacturers are in their death thoes--they are so out of touch with their consumers that no bail out package can help them now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Can't Wait for My First Recording Contract

I'm going to the Big Show people! I've been selected as a finalist in "Flanagan's Idol!" That's right, envy my karaoke prowess. If I win the final, I get $1000!

Apparently some tone-deaf judges at karaoke last night determined that I had the pipes to compete with the really talented people in Flanagan Pub's January Karaoke contest. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I guess I'd better start taking my morning shower singing much more seriously.

Now comes the hard part--deciding who's song I'm going to mangle, er, I mean "perform" in the final!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miscellaneous Musings

I hit a bump in my workout road this week--muscle spasms in my lower back. I ended up flat out on my couch for three days but I'm back in action now. Last night was my first visit after 4 days away and miraculously I hadn't lost any ground. And I only gained back one pound!

It's my Mom's birthday on Friday and she and my Aunt are going to see Tina Turner in concert. How cool is that? I can't wait to hear all about it--I'm sure it'll be quite a show!

Speaking of incredibly talented singers, Guy and I are hitting the karaoke scene on Thursday. The Social Committee at my workplace has planned the event and of course I'll take advantage of any opportunity to support my team (and by "support my team" I mean "be the centre of attention.") We're planning a revisit of our infamous Babs/Neil "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" should bring down the house!

I'm hoping to visit some friends in Toronto this weekend, although these friends have yet to confirm plans (hint, hint). Since one of them is celebrating her birthday soon I have an excuse to go shopping for a present (and we all know how I love to shop.)

This has been a pretty scattered post but I just had a lot of little things to bring to the table and none of them warranted their own post so this is what y'all get. Feel free to disregard at your discretion. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Have Witnessed Something Amazing

I know I'm not American but I still want to throw in my two cents on the outcome of yesterday's Presidential election:

-I'm thrilled that there is no way that Sarah Palin might become President at any point in the next 4 years.

-I am honestly surprised that Barack Obama won since I always figured they would elect a Republican female President before they would elect an African-American Democrat.

I just hope he doesn't meet the same fate as that of the last American President who made people this passionate about politics...

P.S. I'm really disappointed in Californians for passing Proposition 8 :(

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm a Legend. No, Really.

I have a dirty little secret--I like to dress up as a man.

But only one night a year and only because I get money for it.

Really, it's not as naughty as it sounds--for the last 3 years I have won "Best Male Drag" at the local gay bar. I'm straight (too straight according to some of my friends) but for some reason I just find this a whole hell of a lot of fun.

I started down the male-drag path on Halloween 2005 when I dressed as a flashy '70s-style pimp complete with goatee, zebra-print jacket and giant red velvet "Bid Daddy" hat. I wore dark sunglasses and carried a cane with a golden dragon's head on it. I looked awesome and apparently the patrons at the bar agreed 'cause I walked out of there with an $25 extra bucks in my pocket. Well, that's a lie--I spent it on drinks. But I walked out of there with an envelope with "Best Male Drag" written on the outside and the proud knowledge that I could fake maleness better than any other woman in that bar that night.

The next year my friends and I decided to do a group costume and we all dressed up as the Village People. I went as the cop and I had some stiff (heh, heh--"stiff") competition from Kiki who was the sexiest construction worker I've ever seen in a gay bar, and my other friend Cootchie whom I feel should have won for her incredibly believable "leather man" (complete with actual motorcycle chaps!). However, once again I went home with that same little envelope and a standard of drag excellence to uphold.

I'm very proud of my 2007 entry. I worked hard (heh, heh,--"hard") to come up with an original idea and I came up with Ron Jeremy. Yes, that Ron Jeremy. I again donned a mustache, purchased some fake chest hair and darkened my arm hair with waterproof mascara. I made up a fake name tag from a porn convention, borrowed a Hawaiian shirt from my Honey and squeezed into my tightest jeans that would show off my fake "package"--a rolled up tea towel. I put on my sleaziest aviator shades and greased up my hair to darken it and keep it off my face and away I went, primed to compete in my third Halloween as "Best Male Drag".

Again I walked away with that envelope, but it was a hollow victory. I was the only entry! I guess word had gotten around that I was a force to be reckoned with (or, more likely, women in my city just aren't all that keen on dressing like men) so even though I won I was disappointed that no one had bothered to give me a run for my money. I decided then and there that I was hanging up my handlebar mustache. No more dressing up like a man for me.

This past Halloween none of us had our hearts in getting all dressed up so it was a non-event for my group of local friends. I was invited to 3 parties but I just couldn't get up the enthusiasm for coming up with a costume so I didn't go to any of them.

On Saturday Kiki needed to go dancing so we decided to hit our local gay bar (yes, that gay bar) and shake our various body parts on the dance floor. There were still a few die-hards with costumes on, but the festivities had already taken place the night before so none of us had the least intention of dressing up. I approched "Bradley the Shooter Boy" who MCs the Halloween costume competitions as "Miss Drew" and asked him who had taken up my crown as "Best Male Drag." He replied that they had to retire the category because no one had shown up to take the prize. Retire a category? Because I didn't slap on a fake mustache? I felt an odd combination of pride and guilt. I felt like my Hawaiian shirt and fake chest hair should be hanging from the ceiling like a retired basketball jersey, while at the same time I felt like I had somehow let the team down.

However, they haven't seen the last of me in male drag--apparently they're looking for judges for their "Miss Club Ren" annual drag competition. And the judges have to also be in drag. Any one have any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Guess I Could Go As Darth Vader for Halloween...

So apparently I have moderate sleep apnea. I like the use of the word "moderate"--not "severe", not "acute", just "moderate"--which almost makes it seem okay that my sleep is interrupted anywhere from 18 to 47 times an hour! How does that happen without me being even a little aware of it? It's amazing really, and very scary at the same time. Here I am, gasping for breath "moderately" frequently during the night and I have no clue.

Last night I did a second sleep over at the clinic but this time they hooked me up to a CPAP machine. It was definitely a little strange having one of these strapped to my face, but I actually fell asleep pretty quickly and slept very well through the night, all things considered.

If the results from the test indicate that my sleep was improved by the machine, I get to take one home for a test drive for 30 days before buying one. And at prices starting at about $1000 one wants to be sure one is happy with the machine! OHIP covers just about $800 and I'm hoping my group benefits from work will cover the rest (haven't actually looked into this yet...guess I'd better get on that.)

Went to the gym again Sunday and last night, but I'm giving myself a break tonight--I'm feeling pretty tired after my unusual sleep situation last night. But I'll be hittin' 'er again tomorrow! I think maybe I'm gonna try for 40 minutes of cardio instead of my usual 30...ooooh big excitement! What's even more exciting is I'm actually developing arm muscles! I have biceps! Well, more biceps than I had at any rate. And some triceps, too! It's only been a week and a half and I already can see some small glimmerings of results which is exactly the kind of positive reinforcement I need to keep myself motivated. That and Kiki's foot firmly planted in my ass.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking News: Hell Has Frozen Over!

I've got some news that may shock some of you. It may cause you to gasp, rub your eyes and blink repeatedly in wonder. But I assure you what you are about to read is absolutely real.

I joined a gym.

Not only that, but since my first visit on Saturday, I have been every day except Sunday and Wednesday.

Now I know what you're thinking and I swear "gym" is not a euphemism for anything like "shopping club" or "lazy slacker club". I really have joined a gym and I really have been there 5 times in the last 7 days and here's the most unbelievable part--I'm actually enjoying it.

There's no way I would have had the nerve to join on my own and it just so happens that a certain friend (Kiki) of mine is marrying a certain other friend (Randy) of mine in about a year's time and she might have been slightly motivated to get in better shape for the occasion. I might have mentioned to her that a certain someone close to me (my Honey) was worried about my health and that this person (gotta love him) had mentioned that joining a gym might be a good way to get in shape. So one thing led to another and now I find myself sweating on the treadmill next to Kiki and doing abdominal crunches on an excercise ball in front of a bank of mirrors.

Yeah, I know I said I'm enjoying it but maybe not that part.

It's great having a gym buddy, though. We help each other with the weight machines and since she's in better shape than I am, it makes me push myself harder to keep up with her. I need someone to constantly bug me to go ("We're going to the gym tonight/Meet you at the gym after work, etc") and she needs someone who won't make her feel like she's being judged for not being athletic so it's really a sybiotic relationship we've got going here--neither one of us would have done this on our own but together we had the nerve to face our fears and take the plunge.

My goal is not measured in pounds or inches lost--success for me will mean being able to climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, lowering my blood pressure and improving my overall quality of life. I'm not getting any younger and already I have signs of arthritis in my knees and hips. Hopefully it's not too late for me to turn back the clock and repair some of the damage my partying lifestyle has inflicted on my poor carcass. I'm surprised at how much I've improved my stamina just over the last week. Who knows, maybe there's still hope for me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Speedy 1993-2008

Passed away in her sleep at home after a brief illness on Saturday October 18th at the age of 15. She will be missed by her Mommy and Daddy, roommate Jax and long-time companion Zippy. Speedy will be remembered for her patient disposition, bright green and yellow markings and her brave battle in the face of insurmountable health challenges. Her remains were interred at Guy Hosenpeter’s backyard on Sunday October 19th after a brief moment of silence and a lot of digging. Her family would like to thank the wonderful doctors at the Ontario Veterinary College Small Animals Clinic for their efforts to save Speedy’s life and for making her final days more enjoyable and comfortable. In honour of Speedy we ask that you take a moment to appreciate the small wonders of life and tell someone you love how special they are.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Speedy News

The news is good--she pooped! I know you're thinking "so what?" but it's a big deal for a turtle who hasn't eaten in over a month. This means the internal engine is working and soon ready to take on solid food again. Also she's getting feisty again and has on several occasions tried to bite people! This is great news! They've been giving her the "turtle Gatorade" and she's been keeping that down so last night they graduated to soup. As of this morning that's been working as well so tonight they might try her on a sort of gruel.

Her blood work results were mixed and not very definitive. Either she doesn't have a systemic infection (which would be great) or she's so sick her immune system has given up (which would be not so great). Since she's perking up and it seems she's responding to the treatment, it would seem to be the former and not the latter but they're not jumping to any conclusions just yet. Also there was a high level of uric acid in her blood which could just be because of her dehydration but it could also indicate kidney failure which would really suck 'cause you can't give a turtle a kidney replacement and they don't do turtle dialysis (I checked. I lie, I didn't really check.)

So we are cautiously optimistic that she's gonna be okay--everybody at the clinic is pulling for her and they're really excited that she's doing so well. If she can keep down solid food and if her blood work looks better tomorrow I might be able to take her home as early as Tuesday or Wednesday! Zippy's testing out the water heater I bought yesterday at the aquarium store and it's already made a difference in her energy level so I'm sure it'll do the trick for Speedy when she gets home. I'm holding off buying two of everything until I know for sure she's going to actually be coming home. I also measured for a UV light and I should get some sort of heat lamp...I guess I'll be heading back to the aquarium store soon if the news continues to be good.

I might get my baby back after all!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Speedy Update

I finally took Speedy to the vet. It was long overdue, but I had really hoped she'd somehow miraculously turn a corner and everything would work out. Last weekend I came to the realization that that wasn't going to happen so Monday morning I took her to the vet and they admitted her for treatment. She was severely dehydrated which is ironic since she lives in water. She was also too cold so they kept her in an incubator for a couple of days to warm her up. They gave her antibiotics because she had developed an upper respiratory infection in addition to the infected injury she sustained to her nose. All in all, she's a very sick little turtle and I feel like a horrible mommy.

She did show some small amount of improvement Tuesday, but by Wednesday the vet felt the improvement wasn't enough so she had me take Speedy to the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph for further treatment. They've been giving her a "turtle Gatorade" which contains electrolytes and vitamins and they've also been giving her a stronger antibiotic for the infection. They're concerned she may have some organ damage or failure as a result of the dehydration so they've taken a blood sample and we should have the results sometime tomorrow. She has improved since arriving in Guelph--her colour has improved and she's moving around a little--but they're saying she's not out of the woods yet.

I know you're all wondering but too polite to ask, so I'll let you off the hook--yes, this is costing a fortune. Last count was almost $1000. Fortunately, my wonderful Honey has offered to foot the bill and it's a good thing 'cause there's no way I could afford that on my own. In addition to the cost of her care, I now know I have to make a greater investment in her living space. When she comes home she's gonna need a warmer environment and a UV light to support her rehabilitation so it's off to the aquarium shop tomorrow to price that out. I guess I should get one for Zippy too while I'm at it...

This isn't a particularly witty post, but I'm really not up to it today. I really just wanted to let you all know what's going on and get this off my chest. Hopefully my next post will bring good news--I'm not giving up on this little turtle yet!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead!

Wow, I've been a really sucky blogger. Sorry for the long delay--I really have no excuse. I haven't really had anything interesting going on in my life to blog about so maybe that's part of the problem. Work has been busier than usual--working in investments is a little crazy these days--and I haven't had a lot of emotional and psychological energy to spare lately, which conveniently brings me to...

...I took part in an overnight sleep study last night. I've never really had trouble sleeping as an adult; no bouts of insomnia, no restless leg syndrome. But previous "bed mates" have advised me that I snore. So what? I snore--wear some earplugs. However it seems that the snoring may now have morphed into something more sinister. My Honey advised me on my last visit that I was making "strange sounds" in my sleep. It kinda got me thinking a little.

I have noticed that over the last 6 months to a year I haven't felt well rested when I wake up in the morning and in the middle of the afternoon I have an overwhelming urge to curl up under my desk and have a little lie-down. I've always been an "early to bed, early to rise" type but lately that has become more of an "early to fall asleep on the couch while watching TV, late to rise if I don't have an alarm to wake me up" kinda thing.

Recently a close friend enthusiastically shared her adventures in being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea. She had been having sleep issues like insomnia for a while and had tried numerous things--getting up at the same time every day, sleeping for fewer hour a night, etc.--and finally went for a sleep study only to find out her apnea was so severe, she was having sleep interruptions 57 times per hour. 57 times! No wonder she felt like crap! Now she's using a CPAP machine and it's changed her life. So I asked my doctor to refer me to a sleep clinic. I figure at the very least I'll know one way or the other if I have any serious sleep problems.

So off I go with my jammies and my pillow and I fill out this long questionnaire and then this nice guy named Glen takes a bunch of measurements of my head which was very relaxing and nearly put me to sleep then and there. Then he sticks all these electrode thingees to my head so they can measure my brain waves during sleep which will let them know what stage of sleep I'm in. He attaches a few more to my face which will detect eye movement and whether I'm grinding my teeth. He puts a band around my waist and another around my upper chest to measure my breathing and a couple more electrodes on my lower legs to tell them if I have restless legs (which I don't--at least, not when I'm sleeping). The last thing he attaches is a little pinchy thing on my right index finger which is supposed to read my pulse or something. I hated it--it was uncomfortable and made my finger really sore. It was all I could do to not rip it off and hurl it across the room in my sleep.

I slept pretty well all things considered. It wasn't the most restful sleep I've ever had but I've done worse. They finally let me go to bed at about 10:30pm (way past my normal "school night" bedtime) and woke me up at 5:30am. For the last little while I was asleep I was dreaming about them coming in and waking me up--very weird. Glen said they got lots of good data (whatever that means) so I guess it was a success. My follow up appointment isn't for another month, so I guess I'll find out at that time whether I have any sleep disorders. In the mean time I'll be happy to be back in my own bed. Sans jammies.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Cars have been a hot topic for me and a couple of my friends this week. Randy and Kiki purchased a "new" car last weekend and I'm taking them to the dealership later today to pick it up. They got a good deal and they're very pleased with the purchase and this is sounding like the impetus Kiki needed to finally get her driver's license. She's got a bit more of a challenge ahead of her with this car--it's a standard!

My car isn't particularly new--it turned 12 this fall--but in spite of that it's in pretty decent shape. The previous owner (whom I know very well and very generously gave it to me 2 years ago) took extraordinarily good care of it and I've done my best to maintain it in a similar way. But due to her age, things are bound to wear out.

This week it was the alternator that gave out. After a few days of a persistently squeaky fan belt, finally all hell broke loose and I had to abandon her at 1 AM on Saturday night (I guess that's actually Sunday morning) in the parking lot of a Muffler Man near Randy and Kiki's place. Conveniently Guy had loaned them his car for their car shopping adventures that day so they were able to drive me home.

It turns out the alternator had seized up and the squeaking was the belt being forced over a wheel that wasn't moving. The mechanic said $470 would clear the whole thing up (gee, thanks) so I gave the go ahead and took the bus after work Wednesday to go pick her up. The guys at Muffler Man were very nice, joked about going on a spending spree with my Honey's credit card (with which I paid for the work) and then after the ransom was paid I went out to the lot to take my baby home. Unfortunately as soon as I started her up the loathsome squeak was still there! I immediately turned her off and marched myself right back to the office. The mechanic seemed surprised but sure enough, when he fired her up to take her back into the bay the squeak was audible inside the closed up office!

After much conferring amongst each other, revving of the engine and whatnot, the mechanics agreed that everything was moving alright and that the belt was just loose. Some tightening of said belt ensued and a half an hour later I was on my way.

The squeak hasn't had the nerve to show it's face since.

Speedy Update:

No change--she's still listless and not eating but miraculously still alive. I want to thank all of you for your well-wishes and positive thoughts. Turtles may not be the snuggliest of pets but I've had these gals for a long time and I've grown quite attached. I was really touched by how sympathetic you all have been and I just wanted to say thanks :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Turtles (well, mostly one)

My turtles don't get along. Zippy has always been the aggressive, overly-active one and Speedy more passive and lethargic. Zippy will eat all her food and climb over Speedy to get to the rest. About a year and a half ago Speedy seemed to be in failing health so I separated her out from Zippy on the off chance that she was contagious and by some miracle hadn't yet infected her roommate. She made a "miraculous" recovery and that's when I realized she was likely near starvation and malnourished due to Zippy the little piggy eating all their food!

Once Speedy seemed fully recovered and even (dare I say) active, I felt she could probably hold her own against Zippy and they began co-habitating again. Very shortly thereafter I came home to discover Speedy with a bloody and torn-up nose! Obviously Zippy had taken a swipe at her. I again separated them and started treating Speedy with hydrogen peroxide and Polysporin and tea tree oil in the water. Eventually her nose healed (although she'd never model again) and I started doing "play-dates" again, letting the two of them spend lightly supervised time together. The reason I really didn't want to keep them separate was partly sefish--I didn't like having to clean two turtle "abodes" but also I felt perhaps they were lonely by themselves and would rather be together despite Zippy's contrary behaviour.

Well, shortly before my August trip to California I woke up to find Speedy with an even nastier facial injury. This time, Zippy had ripped half her nose clean off! The right nostril was torn very badly and there seemed to be a lot of blood. I was frantic! She seemed relatively unscathed by it but it looked so terrible! I immediately separated them (obviously) and went to the local aquarium shop and the guy there recommended some healing stuff for reptiles. But when I got it home and used it on her, it didn't seem to be very waterproof so I was unsure it has having any benefit at all. I left Guy with strict instructions to keep a close eye on her and put the stuff on whenever he was there to feed my menagerie, but I was reasonably confident she'd be okay because she seemed to be coping, was eating fine and there didn't seem to be any signs of infection.

Well, when I got home she was very sluggish and she seemed to have either vomited or coughed up a lot of blood because there was semi-congealed globs of it floating in the water. It definitely hadn't been bled out of her body I can tell you that. I examined her wound carefully and it didn't seem infected--there was no redness and no puss--but if the blood in the water was any indication she had lost a lot of blood and it was unclear if she would recover.

Over the next few weeks she got progressively worse, went completely off her food and stopped moving around entirely. The day I was set to leave for this last trip, I was firmly convinced she had died overnight because she was completely unresponsive to my prodding in the morning. I kinda freaked out a bit--what the hell was I gonna do with a dead turtle?! And it was way more upsetting than I thought it was gonna be. I had sorta been preparing for it over the last week or so as she got worse and worse so I thought I'd be okay, but it really laid me low. I finally decided I would put her in the freezer until I got back from California and then I'd decide what to do with her then. Well when I went to clean her off she suddenly started moving! She was alive after all! But really, for how long? I mean she looked terrible. Again Guy was looking in on my babies while I was gone and I warned him she might go. I told him not to worry if she did--I wouldn't blame him or anything--but he didn't look reassured.

Against all odds she was still alive when I got back. She's still hanging on and I'm not really sure how. She's gone at least a month without food but maybe it's part of some process she's going through to replace the blood she lost or something. Every morning I check on her and every morning she's still alive--barely moving and still not eating, but alive. I want to believe that she's not suffering a slow, agonizing death but instead undergoing some miraculous regeneration and that one day she's just turn a corner and be all better. This may be too much to ask of a 15 year old red-eared slider I bought at a pet store in 1993 , but I just can't give up hope.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Practically Live Here Now!

Here I am again in Governor Schwartzenager's little fifedom. It seems like I was only just here...

Anyway, I'm back again and this has been a whirlwind trip! Saturday started with a fabulous breakfast at a place called A Good Morning. I had something called a "scramble"--essentially a messed up omlette--with chicken apple sausage, mushrooms and cheese and some yummy seasoned roasted potatoes and My Honey had an egg, avocado and bacon sandwich on rye with hashbrowns.

After that we were off to Santa Cruz where we met Austin who runs the Santa Cruz Experience. He took us and 4 other people on a terrific wine tour which started at Soquel Vinyards where we tasted several wines both white and red. My favourite was a 2007 Pinot Noir and my second favourite a buttery Chardonnay that was surpisingly refreshing on what was turning out to be a gorgeous, sunny day. We wandered around the grounds a little, exploring a small garden and tasting some grapes right off the vine. The winery's architecture is inspired by Tuscany complete with red tile roof and wooden beams and it has a spectacular view of a lush valley. Definitely the prettiest of the wineries we went to.

Our next stop was Hunter Hill, a small estate winery with a morbid story--the winery takes its name from the owner's beloved Chesapeake Bay retriever "Hunter", now deceased and buried on the property. I liked this place because it was unpretentious and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. We ended up buying a Sauvignon Blanc for me to take home and a Cabernet Sauvignon for Honey to keep. We had a picnic lunch under a shady tree and then we were off to the town of Santa Cruz proper to visit a couple of small places whose names I can't remember (wasn't a fan of the wines, so I didn't bother noting the names) and then we took a brief detour to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing where we did a "flight" of beer--about 8 beers at about 2 ounces each. My favourites were the Dread Brown Ale and the Wilder Wheat.

By this point I was pretty intoxicated and my palate pretty much shot, but we went on to one final spot, Storrs Winery where the wine was so good it even got through to my thoroughly abused taste buds! We bought a Petite Syrah for me to take home and a Chardonnay for Honey to keep. Austin dropped us off at our car but I was in no shape to drive, so we walked around downtown Santa Cruz until we sobered up and then had dinner at the same Greek place we visited last time we were in town where Honey had Moussaka and I had a lamb dish, the name of which escapes me, and just like last time it was fantastic.

Sunday we spent in San Francisco (after another delicious breakfast at A Good Morning) and this time we stuck to the west end of the city. A scenic drive up Great Highway brought us to Sutro Heights Park where we took some pictures of the ocean and beach view, then we headed off to the far east end of Golden Gate Park because I wanted to go to the Strybing Arboretum and Hagiwara Tea Garden. Well after circling Golden Gate Park twice we finally found a spot to park. Did I mention the park is 1017 acres big? Central Park in New York is 174 acres smaller! Anyway, we had a lovely walk through the botanical gardens and the Japanese gardens, took lots of pictures, then eventually headed back to Mountain View. Dinner Sunday was at Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! where I had scampi sauteed with garlic, shallots and mushrooms served in a white cream sauce and Honey had the special which was shrimp and clams served with a cream and tomato sauce over linguini. Dee-lish!

Monday we decided to go to Monterey. We parked near Fisherman's Wharf and walked down Cannery Row to the aquarium. On the way I spotted a Dippin' Dots which neither of us had ever tried. The Smores flavour made us instant fans. The insane cold also helped me avert heat stroke because more than a half hour of walking in the crazy heat had me nearly passing out! Happily the aquarium was mere steps away and we spent the next few hours taking in the exhibits. Honey could have watched the sea otters all day, but I made him come see the jelly fish which were my favourite. We headed back toward Fisherman's Wharf around 5:30 or so, wandering in and out of the little shops and watching kids on the beach. We had dinner at Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria which specializes in calamari--the reason I picked it--where we had an appetizer of 2 roasted giant garlic bulbs with toasted French bread and then I had the Siciliano which is calamari sauteed in garlic and white wine and Honey had combination plate of 3 different calamari: the Abalonetti which is cutlets French fried and served with a light buerre blanc; Marty's Special which is the same French fried cutlets but served on grilled eggplant and topped with Marinara sauce, Paremesan and Mozzarella cheeses; and the third was calamari cutlets in garlic, Parmesan and seasoned bread crumbs grilled with lemon. His favourite was Marty's Special. We somehow waddled back to the car and I managed to keep the food coma at bay long enough to drive us home.

Today Honey had to go back to work and I had to return the rental car but before we did that we had breakfast at a place around the corner where I had their signature French Toast with a fried banana and toasted sliced almonds. It was more like dessert than breakfast, but fortunately it came with two eggs and fruit so it didn't kill me. Honey had a fabulous omlette salsa and cheese and all sorts on wonderfulness on it and some really good home fries on the side. Yet another successfull breakfast! After returning the rental car I hit Mervyns and Target at the San Antonio Mall in an attempt to find some fall clothes for work. I did pick up two pairs of dress pants for $20 each and a bra and underwear so it wasn't a complete failure. Tonight's tentative plan is to take the Caltrain to Palo Alto and hit a gourmet burger joint called The Counter. I can't wait--I'm already trying to figure out what I'm gonna create. We might take in a movie and maybe finish off with some Haagen-Dazs before taking the train back to Mountain View. Tomorrow it's home again to hot and humid Southwestern Ontario and back to my beloved pets. I'm sure Jax will be equal parts pissed off with me and happy to see me. I'm bringing him some fancy organic treats from Whole Foods, so I doubt he'll be mad for long.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A (Karaoke) Star Is Born!

Friday night Guy and I went to karaoke with a bunch of work buddies and did we have a blast! It had been so long since my last karaoke excursion I had forgotten how much fun it is to get all liquored up and make a fool of myself in public! We sang (and I use the term loosely) "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and we brought down the house. Well, that might've been the beer talking...either way, what we lacked in talent we more than made up for in boundless enthusiasm.

Karaoke is a great equalizer--few people are very good at it, most of us really suck, but what we all share is the nerve to get up in front of a room full of people and draw a great deal of attention to ourselves and manage to have an absolutely fabulous time doing it. I'm an exhibitionist at heart, I think, because I love being the centre of attention and karaoke is a great way to achieve that. The crowd will clap for you no matter how bad you are as long as you're really trying and put on a good show. Besides, if they don't clap for you, you won't clap for them.

Another reason I keep doing it is karaoke is strangely addictive. I remember how much nerve it took for me to do it for the first time and immediately afterward wanting more than anything to get right back up there and do it again. I've heard the same is true to bungee jumping and skydiving, but I probably won't be doing either of those anytime soon. I guess what these things have in common is the rush--the exhilaration you feel, the release of endorphins in your blood stream--you're taking a risk. Mind you bungee jumping and skydiving have a different type of risk than karaoke, but the risk is there all the same. Emotional pain can be just as damaging as physical pain, and the effects can be even longer lasting.

Having said that, I don't think I'll be taking up any extreme sports. After all, I've never heard of somebody dying in a karaoke accident.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Can you get Repetitive Stress Injury in your thumbs?

I've finally been dragged kicking and screaming into the late twentieth century--I broke down and got a cell phone. I know what you're all thinking; "So what?" Well, it was a big deal for me. I had pretty much decided I'd never really need one when I found myself driving on unfamiliar highways in the dead of night on a semi-regular basis in the name of keeping my long-distance relationship alive. Funny how that makes you rethink your irrational hatred of portable communication devices...

Anyway, now I've got one and I've already become something I never thought it possible for me to become--a text messager. I saw people typing feverishly with their thumbs into their tiny little cell phones and I thought to myself, "Why don't you just call the damn person already!?" Then I got a cell phone and I understood why--sometimes it's just not appropriate to call someone.

For instance, my friend Kiki is off in wine country with her mother. To call her would mean long distance charges (which I want to avoid) so I text her instead to see how the trip is going. Another example: one of my friends from work left early today as she was feeling sick. Instead of calling her (which might disturb her from sleeping or whatever) I texted her to ask how she was feeling. She can respond (or not respond) at her leisure.

It's like email with less wait, more instant gratification and no computer. I totally get it now.

Maybe I should get a Blackberry...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everybody's Getting Hitched!

I'm surrounded by wedding madness. Friends Mindy and Chris are getting married in, like, two months and at least 3 people I work with either just got married or are planning pending nuptials. Even Kiki and Randy have decided to tie the knot (much to the surprise of a few in our circle). Inevitably I'm finding myself swept up in the enthusiasm, offering to help Kiki with handmade invitations, emailing pictures of wedding dresses and looking forward to shopping for shower gifts, even perhaps throwing said shower...

I am often asked why my Honey and I haven't gotten married. I usually look at the person asking the question like they've grown a second head, but I guess it's not a completely ridiculous notion since we have been together for almost 9 years. We did have a purely academic discussion of the concept of marriage early on in our relationship, and we both seemed to agree that while it might be nice for many people it just wasn't something either of us was interested in. The idea of planning a wedding fills me with dread and I'm firmly of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought when it comes to relationship status.

To be honest though, if he were to pop the question I wouldn't hesitate to say "yes" (this is not a hint, Honey). I'd like to think I'd stick to my guns and keep it a small, unconventionally informal and non-traditional affair, but that's the problem with weddings--everybody has an expectation of what they think you should do and it's hard not to just go ahead and do what's been done before because it's easiest that way. It takes a really strong (or stubborn) person to stand up and say they don't want to wear white, they don't want a bouquet or "attendants", no tuxes or speeches or thousands of dollars on photography--just two people declaring their abiding love and fidelity to each other in the company of their closest friends and family.

Preferably with good food and an open bar.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Would Buy Them in a Boat

While meandering through Sausalito, my Honey and I came across the Fingerhut Gallery. In it we discovered many talented artists including this one that my Honey really liked and this one which was my favourite (you might recognize her). However, the one we both agreed was the best was Dr. Seuss.

I loved his books as a child and of course that also meant I loved the illustrations with the cute little people and animals that were drawn in a style completely unique to him. You could always tell a Dr. Seuss book a mile away just by the cover art. Well now you can own full-sized canvases like this one for just $1695! My Honey's favourite was this one, but I'm rather partial to this one and this one.

I guess I'll have to start saving my shekels (as my Mother would say) if I'm ever gonna be the proud owner of one of these pieces of childhood nostalgia. Frankly, I think the prices are more than reasonable so who knows when one might show up on my wall...

Monday, August 4, 2008

California: Part Deux

Monday my Honey was working so I spent the morning wandering around downtown Mountain View window shopping and not-so-window shopping. I went to Target and Mervyn's for some things that are way more expensive back home in Canada than they are here. I brought a gift for my Honey of 3 black and white, 8x10 prints from the drive we took down the Pacific Coast highway on my last trip here and I was able to find 3 matching frames at Target for them.

We met for lunch at an Irish pub called St. Stephens Green (which appears to be one of the few--and possibly only--nightlife venues in Mountain View) for delicious roasted chicken sandwiches and thick-cut chips. I had a beer called Fat Tire. It was quite nice, very hop-y. I spent the afternoon napping and flipping through my Honey's new IKEA catalogue. I was looking forward to going back to the terrific Mexican place we went to on my last visit, but after all the rich food I'd been eating over the last 2 days I ended up skipping dinner altogether Monday night. It's probably a good thing--far too many calories consumed already this trip!

On Tuesday, my Honey and I took off to Santa Cruz for the day. We started off having lunch at an amazing Greek place which was tiny but had the best lamb Gyros I think I've ever had. The tzatziki was so garlic-y, we stank for the next two days. After that we worked it off walking around the University of California Santa Cruz campus gawking at all the big trees. Holy crap those things are huge! And they're not even the really big ones!

After wandering around UCSC for an hour or so, we headed into downtown Santa Cruz and visited the Museum of Art and History which was pretty cool. We drove a while down at the waterfront past the Surfing Museum (which we didn't visit--maybe next time) to a lookout where we saw a large rock jutting out of the ocean that was completely covered in pelicans!

The trip home was a fun, twisty-turny drive up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains at breakneck speeds with transport trucks barreling down on us, and to top it all off we got home just in time to have a wonderful meal at the Mexian place. All in all a very satisfying day.

Sadly on Wedneday I had to fly back home and go back to the realities of feeding my cat, doing my laundry and earning a living. But I did have a fabulous little vacation to hold me over for the next little while and I managed to bring back a lovely pair of earrings and this gorgeous purse to add to my collection, so I'd say it was a worthwhile trip. Oh, and it was great to see my Honey, too.


Greetings from Sunny California!

Here I am again! I enjoyed myself so much last time that I was afraid that I had raised my expectations for this visit to such a level that I would almost certainly be disappointed. Happily, that has not been the case!

My flight from Buffalo left at 5:50am (yes, that's morning) so I got up and left by 2:15am (btw, not doing that again) to get to the airport on time. After taking the cut-off for the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, I saw a sign telling me there was a 30-60 minute wait. Fortunately the Erie crossing had no wait--unfortunately you don't see the sign until after you exit the highway, so I had to wait until I came to the next exit and turn around to get back on the highway to get to Erie. By the time I got to the airport, parked, took the shuttle, checked in, cleared security and trotted to my gate I ended up being about the 5th last person to board. It all turned out in my favour though, because another man wanted my seat so he could sit next to his son and I ended up having the whole row to myself!

The only bonus to taking such an insanely early flight was that I was scheduled to get into SFO at 9:30 in the morning. However, my flight from Chicago was delayed so I ended up arriving at more like 10:30, but it was still early enough for my Honey and I to have the whole day together. Having said that, the day wasn't particularly productive but it was nice to just relax, hang out and enjoy each other's company. We had breakfast/lunch of burgers and fries at In and Out and took a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to look for acrylic glasses and we ended up buying a set of dishes instead. After that I needed a nap (that's what happens when you only get 3 1-2 hours of sleep) and later we played Wii, ordered pizza for dinner and then played pool in the apartment complex's party room. I hit the wall shortly after 9pm and passed out until 7-something the next day.

Sunday we drove into San Francisco right downtown to the Mission district and had lunch at a great crepe place called Ti Couz which is an authentic creperie Bretonne. They use buckwheat flour and the crepes are giant squares on your plate instead of little rolled up tubes. They were fabulous! We shared two "savoury" crepes--one with tomato, sausage and cheese and one with mushroom, carmelized onions and cheese--and one "sweet" crepe for dessert--apples, caramel, whipped cream and a scoop of delicious homemade vanilla icecream. They were all divine and I was so full I pretty much waddled back to the car.

The rest of the day was spent in Sausalito, a small touristy town on the other side of the famous Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco. Sausalito is right on the water, has tonnes of shops, restaurants and art galleries but very little parking. We found a spot up in a residential area off Princess Street which we could only park in for 2 hours. After that we had to move to another spot. We had fun browsing in stores and galleries and at the end of the day we had dinner at a great seafood place called Scoma's. We shared a massive appetizer of calamari dusted with flour and sauted with tomato and mushrooms which was fantastic and then I had scallops served with very rich and delicious buttery sauce, green beans and buttermilk mashed potatoes that my Honey loved! He had fish and chips that were also very well prepared with a very light batter that didn't overwhelm the fish and crispy shoe-string fries. The meal was so massive we sadly didn't have room for dessert, but I couldn't have eaten another bite.

I enjoyed Sausalito very much--it's a pretty town with lots of fun shops and beautiful views. There is a lot of money in that town, too! I nearly gave myself whiplash looking at all the hot cars. I looked like a major country bumpkin, but I don't care. Where else have I been where you see two Rolls Royce's inside of 30 seconds?

Monday, July 28, 2008

30 Day Money Back Guarantee!

Saturday morning television is dominated by kid's shows and infomercials. It's debatable which of the two are more annoying. However, I recently was sucked in by an infomercial for a product called Kymaro New Body Shaper. They should have called it "Rocket Launcher"--look at the before and after pictures!

Anyway, I was apparently convinced enough to purchase it (I know, I know--I'm a sucker) and I spent the next week or so eagerly awaiting it's arrival in the mail. Well, the fateful day arrived Friday when I picked up the discreet, brown cardboard box at my nearest postal outlet. I couldn't wait to get it home and see the "dramatic results" for myself!

Well, I didn't launch any rockets--I guess I wear a better bra than the women in the infomercial--and it seems I may have purchased the wrong size. I measured myself (which was humiliating enough) and compared that to the chart, but despite my careful preparation the thing is too damn big! It's really long (I'm short, but I'm not that short) and it's actually loose up top. So now I'm gonna have to return it (at my expense, damn it!) and ask for the next size down.

With my luck, the replacement will be too small and I'll fall over and break my neck while dancing around my bedroom trying to get the frigging thing on!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sorry Baby, I'm Taken

I met a boy at a party on Saturday. He was clearly interested--he couldn't take his eyes off me. Even in the arms of another woman, his gaze never wavered. When the party was over, it was obvious he wanted me to take him home.

Unfortunately, his carseat was already in someone else's car.

Sorry Declan. Call me in twenty years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm So Handy!

I've been having trouble sleeping in lately, ever since the blackout blind in my bedroom got tired of "hanging in there" and came crashing down in a heap of plaster dust and cracked, yellowed plastic. Did I mention my bedroom faces east?

So today I went to my friendly neighbourhood Canadian Tire and purchased a Debbie Travis roman blind in candy apple red. I had purchased one some time ago to go in my Honey's office, but since then that sneaky Debbie has changed her product! Not only is it now more expensive, it also has these fancy wall brackets you have to screw in and then you gotta snap the cross piece onto the brackets--it's quite the production! The old one just had some little hooks you screw into your window frame and then it was just a matter of hooking the blind on. Piece of cake--no drills, no screw drivers, no measuring. On the plus side, the new blind can be taken down (it's velcroed onto the cross piece) to be laundered, and it completely blocks out all light (no more waking up at 5:45am).

I took down my curtains, which were now in the way, and put up the new blind all by myself without damaging anything! Including me! And it's straight! And red! Boy, is it red.

And yes Guy, I did say "screw" a lot in this post.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Attack of the Clones!

I was met with the most ungodly sight yesterday. There I was innocently enjoying my beer on the patio of Ethel’s when along came three young women who all had the exact same Rhianna-inspired, expensive-looking, bleached-blonde hair and those ginormous black “Jackie-O” sunglasses that made them look like anorexic insects. Seriously, it looked like someone had cloned themselves just so they could wear three different outfits at the same time.

They freaked me out completely. I (almost) couldn't drink the rest of my beer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Left My Heart Geographically-Near San Francisco...

My cat is yowling at me through the closed office door. He missed me while I was at work all day and now his pathetic noises (which are usually just irritating) are making me feeling guilty for not being at home much over the last few days.

They also remind me that I miss someone too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Guess That's Not What They Meant

I was watching one of my favourite home decorating shows the other day and the couple they were featuring had a 2ish year old and another one on the way. They were looking for help to "baby-proof" their home and I thought, "Well I should hope so, 'cause they're obviously getting in somewhere!"

*rimshot* *cymbal*

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obviously, I'm a Cat Person

When I was a child, I was fascinated by TV commercials. I would be held in rapt attention during those particular two minutes when only moments before I was completely ignoring the actual program. As I've gotten older, I've become really annoyed by most television advertising. I studied advertising in school, so maybe that's a contributing factor, but I find most ads are ill-conceived and poorly executed. On the rare occasion when I come across a truly excellent commercial I'm disproportionately thrilled, often telling friends and family about it ad nauseam.

One of my least favourite series of ads running on TV right now are for Pedigree Healthy Vitality dog food. They feature a dog alone with the food in an all white room with no sound except the disgusting noises a dog would make while scarfing down dog food. On top of that the sound has obviously been amplified for an even more nauseating effect. Arguably the worst offender features a Jack Russell Terrier gnawing away at a Denta Stix thingee and the audio has been cranked up to such a degree that you can actually hear a hiss! The voice over commentary is patronizing in the extreme and makes me want to effect violence on the ad exec who approved this insult to my intelligence.

Thankfully, television remotes come with a "mute" button.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Turning 35 = Painful


I "threw my back out" this morning while pulling on my underwear. Now I'm in no small amount of pain and have a lousy (and embarrassing) excuse for it. Fortunately I still have some muscle relaxants and pain pills with codeine in them left over from when I had back spasms a year or so ago, so I'm managing. I'm able to sort of shuffle around my apartment like some kind of arthritic octogenarian with osteoporosis. It's depressing as hell.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Boyfriend is Better Than Your Boyfriend

My Honey is the Best Honey Ever! He navigated me though getting onto my beloved Interwebs using his crazy Linux-speaking computer in his office. I feel honoured and proud that he would entrust me with the awesome responsibility that comes with using this computer. I'd like to think I'm the only person aside from him who has had this privilege, but I could be just one of a long line of women who've taken 'er around the block, if you know what I mean...

Anyway, the important thing is I now have a home-based portal to the wonders of the world wide web and I no longer need to blog from work which I'm sure pleases everyone, not the least of which is my employer.

He may be an enabler, but he's my enabler!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Technology is a Bitch

My computer is broken.

This is my excuse for not posting to this blog in forever, and believe me--it's killing me! I pride myself on being slightly techno-phobic--I don't even own a cellphone--so I'm a little disturbed by how much it's bothering me to not have access to the interwebs at home. I'm actually blogging from work! I know many people wouldn't find this strange at all, but I feel like I'm breaking some kind of personal code by doing this.

A lot has happened since my last post--my Honey came home for a visit; friends got married; I turned 35--and I haven't been able to share any of it! I just couldn't take it any longer, I had to post from work.

My Honey's visit was way too short; he really only came back because he was standing up for our friend Rick in his wedding to Shara (although he claims it was also my birthday gift). The wedding was lovely--blessedly short and only 2 speeches! We all had a wonderful time and now the happy couple are honeymooning in Ireland.

My birthday weekend was loads of fun (read: much consumption of alcohol involved) and I almost don't feel bad about turning 35! Kiki and Randy gave me a fabulous purse (see the lovely picture top left); Guy got me a beautiful silver lariat-style necklace; I was treated to a play by a long-time friend (Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shew") and I'll have fun spending an assortment of gift cards from my Dad and his wife. And my Mom's card is in the mail along with a "little something" to spend on myself.

All in all, I can't really complain. Except about my computer. That blows.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"She's in the Recovery Room and she's asking to see you"

I brought my car into Mister Transmission yesterday for an oil change and transmission fluid change/flush/filter replacement. I had no idea how expensive that was gonna be! I get a message on my work voice mail from the mechanic: "I just wanted to let you know everything went okay, no complications or unexpected problems." He made it sound like I was some kind of anxious relative and he had just performed surgery on my loved one!

He was a nice guy, though--he even removed my dangling, damaged heat shield which has been rattling in a very annoying way for months now. And he didn't charge me! Nice guy. Sadly, I only have to worry about my transmission fluid about every 50 000 km, so I probably won't be seeing him again. Too bad--he seemed to genuinely care about my car, what with his good bed-side manner and all...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oh, My Head...

What do you get when you combine several women exhibiting varying degrees of intoxication, Mardi Gras beads and impending nuptials? That's right--a Stagette! Followed the next day by a killer hangover.

Shara's "big day" proved to be a great excuse for me to over-consume 3 different varieties of alcohol and then scream, "Show us your tits!" at strange men in a night club (like I need an excuse.) On the plus side, there was no shortage of said men who were willing to flash me for some cheap, dollar store baubles.

Sunday was spent in a painkiller-induced coma, but it was all worth it to see Shara in her tacky '80s hat and veil. Besides, my great aim at "Pin the Penis on the Man" was at least partly due to the vodka coolers and Mandy's eye-wateringly strong Jello shooters.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

So Many Stores, So Little Money

When they say, "shop 'til you drop" they don't mean it literally, do they?

I went on a marathon shopping trip yesterday at the Walden Galleria. For those of you who have never heard of it, it's a ridiculously large mall in Buffalo, NY. This mall is so large (how large is it, Kendall?) that they have a store that sells RVs. Not just a little kiosk or office with pictures of RVs. Oh no, this is a store (that you enter from the mall, just like The Gap or Victoria's Secret) with actual RVs in it. Lots of RVs. Big RVs. Presumably one might need to purchase one to take home all the crap they just bought at the mall...?

Anyway, I was not in the market for an RV, but I was in the market for a knockout pair of shoes to wear with my fabulous outfit for Rick and Shara's wedding. Also, I had $50 in Lane Bryant coupons burning a hole in my purse. I found the perfect shoes at Famous Footwear who very conveniently had a "buy one, get one half off" sale so I also got these shoes 'cause I already have them in toffee and love them. I also managed to spend my Lane Bryant bucks wisely, walking away with two delightful and flattering tops and a funky pair of earrings.

What is arguably the best part of the Walden Galleria is not a store, but a restaurant called "The Cheesecake Factory." I urge you to peruse their menu, especially noting the 30 different varieties of cheesecake! You can even purchase whole cheesecakes to take home with you. Hey, maybe that's what the RVs are for.

I finally got home at 12:30am and unfortunately had to get up at 5:30am to go to work. My back and shoulders ached and my feet felt like I was walking on golf balls. It was all worth it, though--I've already started planning my next trip. Apparently there's a Ralph Lauren Factory Outlet store on Military Rd in Niagara Falls, NY...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Love Five-Day Weekends!

I just spent a relaxing and enjoyable extra-long weekend up in my old stomping grounds visiting family. It was the first time I'd been back since Christmas, so it was really great to see everyone again. My little nieces are growing like crazy--the 5 month old now looks like a person and not just "generic cute baby". And I can't believe Hayden will be 4 in September and starting Junior Kindergarten!

My Mom's doing great--she just passed the 72 week mark for her cancer treatments, but her doctors have decided to change the hormone therapy she's on. The tumors on her lung have grown a few millimeters so they have taken her out of the trial study and put her on a more tried-and-true therapy. The trial therapy appeared to be possibly losing some of it's effectiveness, but the doctors are very optimistic about this new therapy given how well she responded to the last one, so we're all staying positive. None of her other sites have increased in size and the mass near her pancreas has actually shrunk to half it's original size, so don't worry--she's still doing fabulous!

The weather all weekend was lousy. I feel sorry for all those poor people who fought the long weekend traffic to come up north to open up the cottage only to have to stay indoors all weekend and then fight yet more traffic to get home.

Actually, who am I kidding--I don't feel sorry for those people at all. Lucky bastards with their $1million cottages in Muskoka won't get any sympathy from me!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Well, So Much For That

I've been really slacking off in the blog department, but it's because of my new internet pursuit--finding mashups.

It all started a while ago when I came across a song called "Kanye Mahna" which is "Golddigger" set to the music of "Mahna Mahna". Mashups have been around for a while but have mostly been flying under the radar of popular (ie. commercial) music. DJs like Lenlow, DJ Mei-Lwun and Jalad combine 2 or more songs into one song without using any additional instrumentation to make something that can often be greater than the sum of its parts. Take for example "Toxic Love Shack"--two great songs made even better!

I've spent the better part of the last two evenings scouring various sites for any mp3s I can get my hands on and I managed to find the mother load. This guy obviously has way too much time on his hands!

So now that my iPod is full, I guess I can get back to this blogging stuff. That is, until the next internet distraction comes my way...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

Wow, I've been back 10 days and only one blog entry! My apologies to all my adoring fans--I promise I'll try to be more on top of this in the future.

To be honest, I've had very little to blog about. I did get moved to another cubicle at work; my co-workers in this new locale were suspiciously enthusiastic about becoming my neighbours. I think I'm going to have to keep my eye on them...

I'm looking forward to having a temporary house guest this week. A friend who now lives out of town is coming back to defend her PhD thesis and I've graciously offered our second bedroom/my Honey's office for her use. This also gives me the excuse my procrastinating self needs to do my Spring Cleaning. I've got a whole colony of dust bunnies living in the corners of my apartment that need to be evicted before their reproduction gets completely out of hand.

Katie is officially in that special limbo between being an undergrad and a grad student and we will be celebrating the momentous occasion this evening with beer, BBQ and booty-shaking. Sounds like fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Does a Fat Girl Have to do to Buy Some Clothes Around Here?

Well, I'm back and feeling refreshed after my little holiday. It's good to be home and sleeping in my own bed, but there's a part of me that wishes that bed resided in California. I really loved it there! Everything was just so green and least the leaves are finally starting to come out here, so that's something.

Days 3 and 4 of my trip were eventful, if not exactly to plan. The late nights and hectic days finally caught up to me on Monday and I spent the morning relaxing and emailing Kiki at work (our usual pastime.) I met up with my Honey and his friend who works at Google for lunch and the requisite tour. Google is a pretty sprawling complex that has gradually taken over neighbouring buildings as their previous owners succumbed to "market pressure."

Apparently, there are several cafeterias but the one we ate at served a dizzying variety of absolutely fabulous gourmet tapas. The presentation was worthy of a magazine and the quality and flavour was among the best I ate on my trip. Rather unexpected for a cafeteria at a place of work. Among my favourites: pan-seared scallops, yellow tail sashimi and a fantastic steak grilled rare and sliced to less than half an inch thick. I managed to find room for a chocolate mousse to die for and some sweet fresh pineapple.

After lunch I set off for Cupertino where the aforementioned Google told me I would find the Vallco Fashion Park with a Lane Bryant in it. Well, I located the mall however Ms. Bryant proved more elusive. Either she had vacated the premises or Google was mistaken in her whereabouts. Regardless, my shopping that day consisted of two pairs of shoes at Payless and no clothing from Lane Bryant.

Daunted but not defeated, I went home and gave ol' Google another whirl. This time it came up with a location that was conveniently located on the train route I was planning on taking to San Francisco the very next day. So I decided I would stop by the Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo in the morning on my way to do my tourist routine and everything would be just fine.

We went out for real Mexican food that night--none of that Taco Bell crap--and I had 2 delicious enchilladas verdes (chicken enchilladas with green salsa and guacamole on top) and the absolute best tasting refried beans I have ever eaten. They also had complimentary homemade tortillas with three different types of salsa that I tried unsuccessfully not to fill up on.

I got up bright and early the next day to catch the 9:30 train to San Francisco. The trains are very comfortable and after a very short while I was grateful I took my Honey's advice and left the car at home. I got off at the Hillsdale stop and it didn't take me long to locate the mall which is lovely--it's large and has many wonderful stores. Sadly, Lane Bryant is not among them. Google is a lying sack of shit.

I was determined that I wasn't going to let this second setback ruin my day of sightseeing in San Francisco, and it didn't. I got back on the train and took it all the way to the last stop at 4th and Townsend. I walked up 4th to Mission where I had me some lunch and then I got on a cable car and went the rest of the way to Fisherman's Wharf. I tried to take some pictures but it's unclear if they'll work out, what with the shaking of the cable car and all.

It was an interesting journey, passing through Chinatown, Nob Hill and Russian Hill before stopping at Hyde and Beach. I walked the length of The Cannery until I reached Pier 39 which is famous for its sea lions. From there I went to the aquarium which features an underwater tunnel where you can see all sorts of fish that call the Bay home--sharks, rays, starfish and eels to name a few.

By this time I was pretty much exhausted, so I limped back to Taylor where I caught another cable car back to the station at Powell and Market and then hobbled back down 4th to the Caltrain Station to catch my train home. I got in around 6ish and then we went out for sushi, which I felt was oddly appropriate. And it was great sushi, too! Actually, I didn't have a bad meal the entire trip. Everything was delicious and the variety of restaurants is staggering. I walked 2 blocks down Castro before I even saw a storefront that didn't belong to a restaurant.

I got up at the ridiculous hour of 5:30am on Wednesday to drive to the airport. I guess my timing was perfect because I got to the gate as boarding started. My connection in Washington went off without a hitch and I landed in Buffalo right on time. Last but not least, I finally found a Lane Bryant in the Walden Galleria in Buffalo where I ended my search for a dress for Rick and Shara's wedding. Unfortunately, they didn't have my size so I had better lose 10lbs before June 7th so I can fit into the one I bought...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Greetings From Sunny California!

I love it here! It's been kinda chilly, but aside from that it's absolutely beautiful. It is gonna be really hard to leave all the lush, leafy trees and thick, green grass and colourful flowers to come home to the ugliness that is Southern Ontario in April.

My flight from Buffalo was delayed and so was my flight leaving Chicago, so by the time I landed in San Francisco, retrieved my rental car and drove to my Honey's it was 2:30am--5:30am MY time! For those following along at home, that's 25 hours on practically no sleep. Long day...

On Saturday, we went for lunch (breakfast?) at a ramen place and wandered around downtown Mountain View for a while. It's a very pretty town (palm trees!) with lots of neat shops and restaurants. Saturday night, we went into San Francisco with a friend of my Honey's and tried to navigate our way to Mission Street with his crappy GPS. For those of you who have never been to San Francisco, Mission Street is a pretty seedy part of town. I spent most of my time trying to dodge puddles of vomit and urine--pretty classy!

In spite of this, we did find an awesome little restaurant called "Fish and Farm" that appears to serve organic food and beverages exclusively. We had a variety of appetizers, my two favourites being a marinated squid and a chicken liver pate served with a fabulous bread. For my entree I had some of the best fish and chips I've ever tasted--the fish had a magical butteriness to it and the fries were infused with sea salt. Mmmmmmmm!

After stuffing ourselves, we carried on to a club called Mezzanine where we listened to two different DJs, Tommie Sunshine and Junkie XL. Tommie Sunshine's stuff was more mellow but it was a good warm-up to Junkie XL who was the headliner and his stuff was way more energetic. My Honey's friend had the foresight to bring earplugs for all of us and it's a good thing, 'cause I don't think I would have any hearing left if not for those little bits of foam. Miraculously, I made it all the way to the end of the show which turned out to be about 2am. I know--it's amazing! Two ridiculously late nights in a row--whoda thunk?

Yesterday we drove to Carmel which has to be the prettiest little town I have ever visited in my life. We had lunch at a terrific Italian place, the name of which eludes me at the moment, where we had some fabulous breadsticks, a mushroom pizza to die for and risotto balls with gooey melted cheese inside. Then, to burn off some calories, we walked down a street called Scenic Road--what a huge understatement! This road has spectacular views of the ocean on one side and spectacular homes on the other side. We walked part of the way back on the beach and of course I had to dip my feet in the freezing cold Pacific.

After locating the car, we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur. While Big Sur itself was a big disappointment, the drive there sure wasn't--OMG! Most breathtaking drive ever! I have got TONNES of pictures to show y'all when I get back. It was so worth the drive.

Today is my shopping day--I've located the nearest Lane Bryant--and I'm also off to Winchester House which my Honey recommended I see. It's close to the shopping mecca I'm hitting named Vallco Fashion Park so I figured, what the heck? Tomorrow I'm heading back into San Francisco for sightseeing and other touristy-type things and then it's back home again and another long day of air travel. Woo hoo.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One More Sleep!

I leave tomorrow for 5 days in San Francisco! My Honey doesn't have internet at home yet, so y'all are just gonna have to wait until I get back for an update.

I just want to point out the irony that the Weather Network is calling for it to be 10 degrees warmer here on Saturday than it is expected to be there. Where does a girl have to go to get some warm weather?! Apparently not San Francisco...

Anyway, I'll be back after the 23rd...

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Pardon me--do you have any Grey Poupon?"

I made the mistake of introducing my cat to the wonders of expensive, high-quality canned food and now he's become a kibble snob, all thanks to my friend Kiki who is a much more responsible cat owner than I. She feeds her cat fancy, healthy, no-animal-by-product, grain-free canned food that puts the store brand dry crap I was feeding my cat to shame. So I thought that maybe I should also be a responsible cat owner and follow her shining example.

Two things I forgot: a) she makes more money than I do, and b) her cat is less than half the size of mine. According to the label on this fabulously wonderful and healthy food (ie expensive) I should be feeding my cat half the can twice a day. The can is huge! And $2.69! I love my cat, but it's not a "$2.69 daily" kinda love. So far, I've managed to stretch one can over two days. If he gets hungry between his 67 cent meals he can eat some of his sawdust-and-generic-animal-by-product dry food.

Next thing you know I'm gonna be filling his water dish with Evian!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm "it"...oh goodie...

Apparently I’ve been tagged.

Thanks, Mindy (see link below).

The Rules:

1. Post the name and URL of the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules
3. Write seven things about yourself
4. Put the links in to your 7 favourite blogs
5. Name 7 people you are going to tag
6. Post a comment on their blog to say they’ve been tagged

I have decided to model my 7 things on Mindy’s responses because as I was reading hers I was inspired (also, I’m lazy and unoriginal).

1. I have 1 degree. An honours B.COMM. It took me 13 years to get it.

2. When I was little I too had an imaginary friend. I think her name was Tracy. Or maybe it was Elizabeth. I think she was from Ottawa. Obviously we’ve lost touch…

3. I grew up in a little place called Huntsville nestled in Cottage Country (Muskoka). We have stoplights and bus service, but no one cares.

4. I never played any organized sports. I did do a stint as a little-league umpire for a summer and another summer was spent as a basketball coach. Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

5. My Honey and I met back in 1992 but it wasn’t until I began stalking him in 1999 that he succumbed to my charms.

6. I also have a tattoo. A turtle on my right shoulder/back. It was free and it looks it.

7. I used to play the flute in high school. I won something called the D.C. Stone award for having the highest mark in the 12th grade. And yes, I did go to band camp.

I only really read 4 blogs and their links are at the bottom of the page. The only person I’m gonna tag is Katie, ‘cause Mindy tagged me and I don’t know the other two bloggers personally.

I broke the rules—sue me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts..."

Okay people, I need some cheering up. I've been exposing myself to too much of "man's inhumanity to man" lately and it's bringing me down.

Saturday night I went to a talk by a policewoman who spent time in Darfur as a United Nations investigator and she was full of horrific stories that kept most of us on the verge of tears for an hour and a half. Then, last night I watched a documentary on TVO about disabled children in Bulgaria that have been abandoned by their parents and are living in rundown institutions where they are effectively warehoused and forgotten. These kids are slowly dying of starvation and malnutrition, never shown love or even kindness, left to rot in beds when they become too weak to walk--I tell ya, it depressed the hell out of me!

It's such a beautiful day today, I'm gonna walk to work and focus on the singing birdies and the little buds poking out on the trees and remind myself how lucky I am that I'm not an African in Darfur or a disabled child in Bulgaria.

And most importantly, Happy Birthday Randy!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"It's not too small--it's supposed to fit that way..."

This weekend is my "spring cleaning" weekend and the first job I've tackled is to put away my winter clothes and get out my spring/summer clothes. It's probably a bit optimistic, but frankly I could use some cheering up--this winter-that-refuses-to-end has me ready to shoot myself.

Unfortunately, the exercise has backfired because I am discovering that most of my warm weather clothes have mysteriously gone down a size whilst in storage, leaving me even more depressed. I have now moved into that unpleasant place where I own more clothing that doesn't fit than does fit. I'm tempted to label the garbage bags as, "Summer clothes that are a little small", "Summer clothes that are way too small" and "Winter clothes that I can't bear to get rid of but that I'll likely never fit into again." At least then I'd have a pretty good idea of what's in them!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing

I'm fascinated by the e-Harmony commercials on TV--those people seem so happy now that they've found their soul mate. They're smiling and laughing and dancing and you're smiling too and thinking, "Aw, look at them. They're so cute!"

Then, after you've seen the same commercial two or three hundred times, it sinks in that some of those smiles seem just a little strained. A few of those "happy" people look a little uncomfortable, the mask slipping just a tiny bit. One person in the couple will be gushing about their partner and the partner will be giving the impression that said gushing isn't entirely mutual.

The part I'm really intrigued about is the "compatibility test" that is responsible for bringing these people together. I'm tempted to go on the site, take the test and "review my matches for free" just out of curiosity--not because I'm unhappy in my relationship, but because I'm wondering what kind of person e-Harmony thinks would be compatible with me. And we're not talking just any kind of compatibility, we're talking "deep compatibility" coupled with "intense physical attraction."

I'll never do it though, because I think the whole thing is a load of crap. What's at work here is the law of averages--provide people with enough opportunities to meet other people and eventually they will connect with someone. What determines a positive outcome isn't some pseudo-psychological "compatibility test" but how many other people fall for the pitch and become members of the site. The larger the pool from which to draw, the more likely you'll find that special someone. The matches could be completely random and I believe the success rate would be roughly the same.

Still, it is intriguing...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Geeks Vs. Nerds

I had a conversation with a co-worker the other day that got me thinking. I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but he was adamant that he was a geek and not a nerd. I disagreed because the word "geek" has negative connotations for me--I can't help but think of disgusting carnival acts where some poor chicken gets its head bitten off. For me, a nerd is someone who lacks social skills but is smart and interesting and I find that kinda sexy. A geek is socially awkward too, but is also weird and icky. Liam disagreed and said the complete opposite is true. So I consulted my favourite online dictionary but now the waters seem only muddier because the words appear to be interchangeable:

–noun Slang.
1.a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person. intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

1.a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
2.a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
3.a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.

Hey, at least I knew about the chicken part.

So, is there a consensus on this? Am I the only one who thinks geek=bad, nerd=good?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Have Got to Get This Off My Chest!

I watch HGTV a lot and there is a commercial they play (seemingly incessantly) that features a montage of their various real estate shows. One of those shows is about the incomprehensible phenomenon of flipping houses--hasn't anyone figured out yet that no one ever makes money on that unless they're a professional? A few of the little clips show a guy who has purchased a house to flip that is in such a bad state that it is obviously going to force him into bancruptcy. A little past the midpoint of the commercial there is a clip of him saying, "This house is turning into a cash cow." Obviously what he meant to say was "money pit" and he's just too stupid to know what metaphor to use. Now I don't know if the producers of that commercial are also too stupid to know he said the complete opposite of what he meant or if they like rubbing his stupidity in his face, but either way that commercial annoys the hell out of me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If You're Going to San Francisco...

I've booked my flight and I'm looking forward to some fun and sun (hopefully) in California in April. much to do, so little time. My Honey has to work for 2 of the 4 days I'm there--any suggestions on what I should do while he's stuck in his cubicle?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Have a Nice Day :)

It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly easy it is to make someone's day. People are so accustomed to talking to customer service representatives that are at worst rude or at best apathetic, that when they speak to someone who's actually pleasant and cheerful it thrills them to no end.

I work in an inbound call centre for a major financial institution and I (incredibly) love my job. I'm living the dream--I get paid really good money to talk to people on the phone all day. While many of you would rather have a root canal or have your fingernails ripped off with pliers, I find this to be a rewarding and enjoyable job with stimulating challenges and tonnes of learning opportunities. I never know what the next call is going to bring! While this would fill a normal person with dread and anxiety, it fills me with adrenalin. When someone calls me and says, "I have a big problem" I actually get excited!

I know--I'm crazy.

My theory is if you don't feel the same way as I do then you have no business being in customer service. It shouldn't be as easy as it is for me to make the day of the person on the other end of the phone, but unfortunately we've been conditioned to not only accept poor service, but be grateful for mediocre service. When we eventually get great service it's like winning the lottery!

The best part of all this is when I give great service, I also have a great experience. There's nothing I enjoy more than having a customer tell me, "Thanks so much for helping me. I wish everyone were as friendly and cheerful as you. You've been a big help." It's nice to be appreciated!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

After the Tone, Please Record Your Message.

Voice mail is a necessary evil in our lives--we all hate it, but ironically we all have it. In my job, voice mail is pretty much the only way for people to communicate with me and one of my pet peeves is bad voice mail etiquette. So, here is a handy list of "Voice Mail No-No's" for the workplace. Of course, none of us have ever made any of these mistakes, but it's a handy reference just in case ;)

1. Don't rush through your call back number: There's nothing more annoying than listening to a long, rambling voice mail liberally peppered with "um's" and "uh's" and then at the end having the caller whip through their call back number so quickly and unintelligibly that you have to play it back 4 or 5 times to figure out what they've said. Please say it slowly, clearly and (preferably) twice.

2. Keep it brief: It drives me crazy when I have 3 messages in my voice mail box and I'm being told it's full. I don't need your life story, just who you are, why I should care and how I can get back to you if I am so inclined. Period. However, the flip side of this coin brings me to...

3. Give me what I need: Who are you? Why are you calling me? Why should I call you back if I have no idea who you are or why you are calling me? Give me a compelling reason to return your call or I might "accidentally" delete your message.

4. When playing phone tag, actually respond to the question I asked you on your voice mail: I left a message for a guy the other day and when he called me back and left me a message it was obvious he either a) hadn't listened to my message past "Hi, this is Kendall returning your call" or b) doesn't understand spoken English. When you call me back, know why you're calling me back so I don't have to call you and leave you another message you're not going to listen to. Please.

If we all adhere to these simple rules voice mail will magically become more tolerable and this will eventually lead to world peace. I'm convinced of it.