More exciting than Avatar.

I stopped blogging 3 years ago.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, on June 6, 2009 I wrote a blog post about my misadventures with AT&T, and then just never wrote another one.  I suspect my material had dried up.  Once I was married a couple of things happened:  first, I became boring.  After all, part of my allure (okay all of my allure) to my small reading public lied in the basic fact that my life was a train wreck.  In terms of blog entertainment, Tom (frmly BBD and then BGE) couldn’t compete with the drunken, gambling antics of the Pissed-Off Bastard.  In terms of grounding my ass and settling me down, Tom won (and still wins) hands down, but without the highs and lows I found I had very little to write about outside of my marriage.  And three years ago, I was fairly loathe to write about my marriage or Tom.

I’m over that now.

Coinciding with my general ordinariness, was my increasing participation on Facebook.  But with all of my worlds colliding constantly on Facebook, I opt to write only pithy, optimistic (usually) posts about the food I’m cooking or the plants I’m planting.  Basically, on Facebook, my goal is to avoid becoming the target of anyone’s schadenfreude.

So, I’m back.

About 22 months ago, I lost my job.  Actually, 22 months ago to the day, I lost my job.  I won’t discuss this, but in the end, my stress about not having a job is far less than the stress I experienced the last year of my job.  If I’d known this, I probably would have had a better last year.  Unemployment agrees with me.  And thanks to time killers (when you are unemployed things are time killers; when you have a job, they are time suckers) such as the Food Network (hi Ina, hi Giada, hi Alton) and Pinterest (oh, how I love you Food and Gardening Boards) I’m becoming Henrietta Homemaker.  When you wake up and realize that you have 8 hours before you can respectably have a cocktail, those hours loom very, very large.  Hence, I took up cooking stuff out of my previous comfort zone (which was extremely narrow, in retrospect) and planting stuff other than tomatoes and marigolds.

I’m getting better at both.  Bring on the Zombapocalypse, I’m ready.

Another benefit of unemployment is that Tom and I are able to travel without having to worry about my vacation time.  Hence, we spend a lot of time in Florida.  And a lot of that Florida time in Key West.  We went for a week two years ago, before I lost my job, and since then I think we’ve been in Key West 7 more times.  It’s been since the end of January this time, and I’m ready to go back, even though I know it’s going to be sweltering hot.  And we do go other places than just Florida, despite what it seems.  In the last 22 months, we’ve been to Seattle, Portland, Vegas (x2) and the Grand Canyon, where I had the honor of officiating my friend, Sister K’s wedding. (Yeah, you read that right, I officiated a wedding.  That’s another thing I can do now.)

I’m so prepared for the Zombapocalypse I can even join them in unholy matrimony!

Anyway, I’m sure that maybe two of you will check out the return of CasaChristy when I post its return on Facebook, so Welcome!

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Can I have those 2 hours back now?

Sunday I tried to connect to the internet from home, only to discover a bad connection.  I reset the modem, re-booted, all that good stuff, but no luck.  Knowing that this would now require a call to AT&T, the thought of which always curdles my blood and is a task equivalent of being stuck on the runway in an airplane for 8 hours, I opted to wait until Monday to call.

In the meantime, Tom discovered the cable that runs from the pole to the house laying in two pieces in the back yard.  At least I could be armed with knowledge when I made the call on Monday.

That was yesterday.

I called the number for “repair services” listed on my bill.  The automated voice, after asking and receiving answers of a few questions noted that I really needed to have called another number, but no worries, he’d connect me to the “AT&T Internet Services” number, which, I’ll point out is also on my bill.

I answered a few more of his questions, and then we got to the Mind-the-Chasm question: “Please say why you are calling. ”  I said the wrong thing, apparently, and though I was told I was being directed to an agent, I fell into the chasm.

After listening to silence for several minutes, wondering if I were truly on hold, I hung up, called back and started the process again (from the AT&T Internet Services number).   By now, this call has eaten about 20 minutes of my time and I haven’t even talked to a person yet.

Finally, a person answers.  We confirm the information I told Autoguy. I explain the nature of my problem, including a description of the snapped cable.  She starts to put a ticket in and then asks for my modem model.  I explain that I’m at work and that information is not available to me.  She explains that she can’t put the ticket in without it.  I explain again that I’m at work.  She says it would be better if I had the model # and I agreed that may be true, but unfortunately we were going to have to do without it at this time. We are about at the 30 minute mark and I explain to her that I will not go through this process again from home so we had 3 options:

1) Put the ticket in without the modem model number.

2) Let me talk to someone who can.

3) I cancel my service.

She opts for item 2.  And then, very passive agressively I am left on hold for 10 more minutes.  Pedro or Jorge or whatever his name was gets on the phone, requires me to repeat some relavent information, uses all the good customer services tricks like calling me ma’am and Miss and starting every sentence with an apology, and assures me that we’ll get this taken care of, which does not have the intended effect, because every time he started a sentence with an apology and an assurance he ate up another 15 seconds.

And then he puts me on hold.  For another 10 minutes.  When he returns he presents me with What Will Happen Now, a jumble of words like schedule and phone call, I’m sure made jumbly by my impatience.  Whatever.  I get it. Someone will call me and then I’ll have to call or someone will call me twice or something like that.

Once our business was complete, Pedro or Jorge spent another 4 minutes saying goodbye.  Seriously.  He was worse than my husband.

As promised, I did receive a phone call.  From Autoguy who informed me pleasantly that they checked my line and no problems were found.  If I took issue with that I could call a number and discuss it with a technician, but ONLY if I had a ticket number (which, fortunately, I did).

I called this number; I pressed 2 for existing problem.  And then I waited.  On hold.  For 15 more minutes.  I was in transit and hung up after arriving home.  I probably would not have had the patience if I hadn’t been in the car.

I called back today.  While this call took another 20 minutes or so, most of it on hold, the personal interaction was much more productive, although when the guy asked for my modem model, I nearly had a melt-down; he accepted my inability to provide this in stride, however.  But. Then. Gave me an 9 hour service window.  Fortunately, he let me slide on mandatory attendance.  I live 3 minutes away and we negotiated a plan in which the service guy would call me on his way.

*Insert witty tie-up ending here* (I don’t have time).

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Isn’t it? Don’t you think?

Yesterday morning I dreamed that I had moved a wine glass from the coffee table to the counter by the sink.  The next day, Tom told me that he broke it (this would not have been the first time), and I was pissed.  I wanted to know what he was doing when it broke and he said he’d washed it (this is how it always happens).  I started to laugh, and Tom wanted to know what was so funny.  I said, “It’s just ironic.  The reason I moved the wine glass is so that it wouldn’t get knocked over and break.”

When I woke, I was very pleased with myself that I could use irony appropriately even in my dreams.

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And so the night begins

The night began with high optimism.   Tom and I ate dinner at the Shaved Duck.  Our first time since the “change”.  The hot chili was hot but not so hot that I needed the shot of milk.  Then, though, I can handle hot.  We’d met there so I left while the server ran the credit card.

That’s when it all went downhill.  At home, I realized I no longer had my jacket.  One of my very favorite jackets (although, truthfully, all my jackets are my favorite ones — some people have shoes, I have jackets).  Anyway, I was concerned that I hadn’t brought it in with me (I remembered leaving it in my car at Van Goghz earlier, but couldn’t remember seeing it since).  I called Tom.  Yep, left it at the Duck.  That’s good.

And that’s where good ends.  I came home and smelled cat shit, like fresh cat shit.  This is not unusual since Fiona has stopped pooping in the litter box.  Only, I couldn’t find any shit.  I located the source in the litter box as an unburied, fresh pile on top of the litter.  I made to scoop it.  And then I heaved.  Not a dry heave, but a wet heave.  Not just a wet heave, but Bhut Jolokia pepper wet heave.  What only hurt going down nearly killed me on the way up.  Apparently, stomach acid and capscasin don’t mix against the lining of the esophagus and the nasal passages.  The good news is that I managed to get the first heave into the bag slated for cat litter and the rest of it in the toilet.

Don’t worry, it gets worse.  I wouldn’t waste your time with cat poop and pepper puke.  Tom came home while I was cleaning the little spots of puke near the cat litter.  I tried to tell him what happened and indicated that he finish the litter while he told me about cleaning up Fiona’s earlier “accidents.”

Then he let in McLovin.  And Tom first noted that his rear end is torn up and then noted that he has a huge bite mark on his fur and then noted that part of his tail is missing.  By this time, I was in the kitchen, snorting nose puke, which in turn set off another heave, which I caught in the same bag while I wondered how much permanent damage I might be doing to all my mucus membranes.  I still hadn’t seen the cat, but Tom started to sound alarmed.

This sound was not in vain.  The cat’s tail?  It is, in one spot, chewed down to what looks like the bone.  Not only that but something huge tried to take a chunk out of his flank, but left only bloody bite marks.  He has smaller wounds all over, with minimal blood loss and because of his tail, we didn’t look too hard at the other wounds (including the large bite mark) before I dispatched Tom to the Webster Animal Hospital (with the cat of course, who I had managed, with puke breath, to talk into a cat carrier).

I’m sure McLovin will be medically fine.  Cosmetically?  Well, this tussle may have ended his modeling career.

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Math Problem

This is a real-world math/logic problem and I thought that since there’s a few geeky, math-types out there who read this (okay, two, maybe three) I’d throw it out there to see if you can help.

We have Board meetings twice per month.  We send out the meeting materials on CD-RW to approximately 25 people each meeting.

Because the return rate is not 100%, one of the assistants asked if it would be more cost effective to buy CD-Rs instead.

CD-RWs: $11.29 per 25-pack (about 45 cents per CD)
CD-Rs: $19.86 per 100-pack (about 20 cents per CD)

The return rate is somewhere between 50-66.66% each meeting, but we can reuse the CD-RWs a dozen times (in theory).

I’m going to try and figure it out on my own, but I am not confident that I will return the appropriate result.

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Facebook and other odds and ends

Facebook.  I could go on and on and on about Facebook, but most of you already know it, and really, I should be working and not Facebooking and not talking about Facebooking.

But, I can hide out here, and on Twitter.  On Facebook, worlds are colliding:  co-workers, family, and college and high school classmates (among others).  I’m not used to being all out like that on-line.

That said, today begins the final push for the Biggest Loser.  I have pulled out the secret weapon:  no booze.  Seriously.  No booze until after the first week in April.  Other new or re-inforced tactics include:  weather permitting, walking to work at least twice a week, three if my schedule, and the weather allow; fish and rice for dinner 3 times a week.  More whole wheat, an abundance of fiber and colon cleansing.

After an initial great beginning, my progress slipped; in part due to the hiatus when when went to Key West and the inability to really get back into better habits, especially with regarding to whiskey, wine and pasta.  And, I never really began an exercise program.

The upside is that Tom is doing very, very well, and if I can’t win, maybe he’ll buy me a Kindle with a part of his winnings.

(Wow.  I thought I had more stuff — I guess when I decided not to revel in Facebook stuff, I eliminated odds, and maybe a few ends).

I could go on and on about how much I miss Key West.  This time it’s bad.  I’ve been home almost a month and it’s like an ache.  It’s like I left a little piece of me there.  I think it may have something to do with the cemetery.  My experience in the cemetery was fairly profound.  I can’t explain it without sounding like a whackjob, so you’ll just have to trust me.

Other than that, things and people are really starting to bug me to the point that I want to hole up in my house, and never ever go on-line again (she with the Facebook addiction says paradoxically).

Like this Tea Party thing?  Oh. My. God.  One of the organizers, when interviewed on an on-line site, couldn’t even make an appropriate parallel to the original Tea Party (which was not a protest against how Colonial taxes were spent, but that they were collected without Colonial representation in Parliament).  And, in actual life, if Blocker does that finger in my face thing One. More. Time. as he bashes the president, simply (and ONLY) because I was an outspoken non-fan of GWB during the last 8 years, I. Am. Going. To. Kick him. In. The. Nutsack.

Oh, trust me, it’s not just people bothering me politically–and in fact, it’s not the politics, it’s the expression of the politics, and the fucking hypocrisy, and the misinformation being spouted (back to the Tea Party thing, the Blue Shutter project is not part of the stimulus bill.  [It is a] candidate for funding by federal grant programs once the bill passes.”)

No, it’s not just politics.  It’s fucking dramalets that go on in my real life nearly daily.  Usually, I’m inured to it, and don’t get involved — I keep my head down, but then people involve me, and then say things to me like “I don’t know how someone as smart as you can be friends with her.”  My involvement in the situation was limited to only being friends with the two people at issue.  I mean, I wasn’t even there.  My last comment with regard to this is that I am Nearly Forty, and should have left this kind of crap behind me 22 years ago.

Grace in small things:  Jay and I had a good time on Saturday night at our casual reunion get-together in Belleville.  I miss Jay, and it was nice hanging out with someone who has known me so long and with whom I have a shared history.

I have reconnected with several people I thought were long in my past, as a result of Facebook and this has been a continued source of wonderment, so it’s not all bad.

In fact, I really don’t want to give the impression that things suck.  For the most part they are awesome.  Tom and I are poised pretty well for weathering out the recession (and even, if fact, to take advantage of the recession); I still love my job, even though I do have some frustrations that I have to concentrate to keep bottled — but, hey! Job! That pays money!  That I love!

I still wouldn’t mind winning the lottery however, and then escaping, to somewhere.  Maybe even everywhere.

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Home from MM1

We’re home from the Keys. This was one of my favorite trips to Key West. We had lovely weather driving down in the convertible from FLL, even though we lost sunlight the last hour or so.

Friday night we spent some time at Harpoon Harry’s, which was a new spot for us. I liked it, and the staff (Denise and Rhiannon) so much, I returned several times over the week, and Tom even got drunk with them one night after I’d turned in early (for KW, anyway). Prior to that, though, we saw Al Franken at the Half Shell. I said hi. I wasn’t sure at that point whether he was Sen. Franken or not. I’m sure he didn’t know  if he was either.

Friday morning we spent on the Echo2 Catamaran, with a woman my age and her aunt who were traveling together. We snorkled, we saw dolphins and we spent a lot of time in the middle of the ocean on a sandbar. There’s something odd about walking in the ocean with no land in sight. I suspect Jesus may have known about a sandbar or two.

Sunday, I woke up early and walked to (and then through) the Key West Cemetery, which oddly creeped me out psychically.  I’m not sure why but I felt like 75, 000 ghosts were trying to get into my head.  Eventually, it was too much and I had to leave.  I’ll post pictures soon.

What else? I saw Uncle Bob play at Rick’s (usual), we saw Zack play (usual) at the Hogs Breath (not usual).  Zack was also part of the crowd at Schooner Wharf that got Tom drunk.  I found a new Key West singer whose voice I love: Ben Taddiken. He covered the Killers new song, “Human” and I’d not heard it before. I’ve since heard the Killers version, and Ben does it far more justice.

We ate a lot of oysters and shrimp (of course), Tom tried clams for the first time (not impressed), and while we hit all of our regular joints (Conch Republic, Schooner Wharf, Half Shell and Turtle Kraals (where I was dismayed to discover that Johnny is no longer at the Tower Bar), we also hung out one afternoon at the Smallest Bar, ate dinner at Antonia’s, where we sat next to a couple from St. Louis.

We spent a lot of money. We bought a hammock, and a hammock chair. We bought perfume, we bought art. We bought hot sauce, of course, including one for which I had to sign a waiver.

Also, of course, we stopped at world famous Alabama Jack’s in Card Sound Key for the best conch fritters, EVAH.  The last time I was there, they were a little lacking, but this time?  they were as good as the first time.  In fact, I am jonesing for those fritters.

We stayed for the first time at the Key West Harbor Inn and it is my favorite of all the places I’ve stayed in KW.  And through it all, Brandi from Canine to 5 Pet Sitters took care of the kritters.  I can’t say enough about her, but if you live in St. Louis and need a pet sitter, I’d highly recommend her.  She spent time with the cats (and only charged me for one!) and emailed me after every visit.

Okay, then, I’m home, now and the most exciting thing occured today:  I discovered that 4 Out of 5 Doctors, a 1980’s DC band has reissued a digitally remaster 2 disc set of their first two (and only) albums!

Although I can feel my tan fading already, I’m pretty glad to be home.

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