Friday, September 28, 2007

Hot Dogs in Water.

There are times when I border on being sadistically immature. On those days I can't help but wonder if I somehow got bypassed on the assembly line in heaven when they handed out the nurturing female compassion gene.

Take for example the other day.

A very distraught young woman comes into our store to find out if hot tubs should have a high limit switch or something to prevent them from overheating. Yes of course, they all do. I was not familiar with her brand of tub, but since she has had it for 13 years without it overheating, I assume hers did too. However, after that many years, one would have to expect that it is possible for mechanical items to fail.

I really don't know what she expected to hear from us, but I was ever so glad my co-worker (one more compassionate than I) took over the conversation and allowed me to turn my back on them and concentrate once again on my computer.

I managed to hold myself together while she gave all the details of her tub heating to nearly the boiling point before she realized it was out of control. She turned it off and removed the cover so it could cool down.

She walked away from tub. Her little dog bounded towards it.

She scalded her arms trying three times to save Fido. But alas he was cooked.

Now, shouldn't a grown woman be in tears over a situation such as this? Don't get me wrong, I feel terrible for the woman. But I cannot control the laughter that comes every time I consider the bizarreness of this situation.

After she left, I asked my co-worker what she had actually come to us for. We decided that she just needed an emotional hug and a little compassion. And I was thankful he was there to provide it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reality: (n) the quality or state of being real or true.

What on earth did we used to watch on TV before reality shows began airing?

And typical of TV land, there is absolutely nothing real about any of these shows.

Survivor - where you are "stranded" on a remote island with 200 producers and camera men.

The Biggest Loser - Fat people lose weight... with perfectly portioned, prepared food and a nutritionist following them all day and a personal trainer pushing them to their limits every single day. And not a scrap of saturated fat or empty carb within 10 miles. Oh yeah, that's a reality everyone can relate to.

There's a reality show out there for just about every possible situation one could encounter (these are honest-to-goodness real shows out there) :

Ice Road Truckers - Imagine how intense the episodes get when the weather starts warming up ... ooohh.
How about America's Most Smartest Model - even the producers don't know proper English.

Murder - now there's a reality I'm sure millions of people will line up to participate in.

Reality TV has gone to ridiculous extremes to captivate audiences into following situations that they could supposedly imagine themselves participating in.

Let's bring reality tv back to reality. These are shows I wanna see:

American Idle : How little can you do and get away with it

It's in the Cards: How many credit cards can you max out and use one to pay off the other without ever having to pay any interest.

Remote Possibilities: Who can program a single universal remote control to actually operate the TV, VCR, Satellite Dish, Surround Sound and DVD Player.

Now those would be realities that real people could relate to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's no wonder postal services are becoming obsolete.

My baby girl lives far far away and I only get to see her 2 or 3 times a year. Thank God for cell phones, email and Facebook, but I miss her.

Last week I sent her a package of treats in the mail. It was only $3 more to send by Express Post so I chose that option. I got a tracking number and could monitor when it arrived. As promised it was in Vancouver on the delivery truck within 48 hours. But she didn't get it. The next day the tracking number informed me the package was "forwarded to recipient's new address."

Funny, she hadn't mentioned anything about moving.

I waited another day and tracked it again. Still nothing. So I decided I'd better let her know I sent it and double check her address with her. I dialed her phone number.

"The number you have dialed is not in service."

Okay, I have to say this mom's heart sort of stopped for a moment. No address. No phone. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen her on Facebook for a week neither.

I pressed redial on my phone and looked at the number on the call display. I dialed a 3 instead of an 8. Had I been in a more calm situation I probably would have thought about the old Trooper song - Just a 3 Dressed Up as a Nine, or eight or whatever. But I was very relieved to hear her voice say "Hel-low."

I told her about the parcel and confirmed her address. Ooops. I forgot to add "East" to her street name. A week goes by and nothing changes on the tracking site. I take drastic measures and phone the post office 800 number.

The woman on the phone was very helpful in telling me the parcel was waiting for pick up. They should have received a pick-up notice, but if I give them the tracking number they can pick it up at the Pine Centre Post Office. Uhh... hang on. That's where I sent it from. It was going to Vancouver.

So off I trudge to the Pine Centre to pick up my mis-labelled package. They would not give it back to me until I paid another $8.94 plus GST for the shipping back to PG. This comes to a total of $9.48. When she rang it through my debit card it came to $10.05. I questioned this.

My poor husband standing beside me shifted from one foot to another looking around hoping he didn't recognize anyone while his wife was freaking out over 57 cents. "It's not the woman's fault. Just pay it," he mutters to me.

That's not the point. I am already ticked off that the postal employees cannot figure out from the postal code that it's East 41st not West 41st. I refuse to pay GST on my GST to get back a parcel that I have paid over $20 to have it go no where.

It will probably be a while before my husband goes down town with me again, and the Post Office cash will be out by 57 cents at the end of the day, but the clerks can go home knowing that for 57 cents they saved someone from going postal on them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PPV: Predicting possible violence.

It's a good thing I don't have a blood pressure machine at home. I don't really want to know where my BP is sitting right now.

I went to the Bell store this morning to deal with some issues with our cell phones. As a result of unsatisfactory answers, Albert no longer has a cell phone. But I am saving $20 a month.

The service personnel asked if he could help me with anything else. As a matter of fact, yes. I need to get the Canucks Pay-Per-View package added to my Bell satellite programming before the first ppv game coming up on Saturday.

"Sorry ma'am, we can't do that here at the store. You must log onto bell.ca or call the sky dish number."

Ridiculous. But I understand this is not the poor guys fault, and I thank him and head off home.

I logged onto bell.ca and clicked around in circles for 20 minutes until I got to a page that told me that I needed to call a customer service rep at this 800 number to complete my transaction.

I call the 800 number. I beep and blip my way past the press 1 for self help, hoping I'll talk to a real person and praying they speak English. No such luck. I don't know exactly what's involved if you press 1 for self help, when pressing 3 for a technician gets you a voice recording asking you to press more numbers and suggesting it might be quicker and easier to connect online where the user friendly website is capable of all manner of things. (except changing your programming)

At one point I made my selection on the keypad and the annoying computer voice replies, "I cannot understand your input. Goodbye." And the phone went dead. What the... ? I didn't even get an option to back up and try again.

So I dialed the 800 number again, beeped and blipped through some hoops and just when I thought I was getting somewhere, I hear the dreaded on hold music with the occasional recording telling how important my call is to them.

What I want to know is, what is Bell's "normal volume of calls." I have never called when they are not experiencing a "higher than normal volume of calls." Stupid me for calling when everyone else is calling.

I listened to 3 annoying pieces of music and the phone clicked and I got a dial tone.

Third time's the charm they say, so I dialed the 800 number yet again. This time I wasn't messin' around. I went straight for technical help, pressing the options as if my TV service wasn't working at all. Good choice. I actually got through to a real human. Now, his first language was not English, and I suspect English was perhaps not even his 2nd or 3rd language, but he had a human voice, so I could work with that.

58 minutes later, after explaining what the Canucks were and what a "package" of pay-per-view games was, the young man assured me that the programming was in place as of that moment and I would now be receiving all 17 games of the 2006-2007 season, with the first one being Oct 22, 2006.

Uh.... buddy.... this is Sept 18, 2007 and the 06-07 season has been over for months now.

"Oh, I am sorry. Let me speak with my technical team. May I put you on hold for a few minutes?" Funny how the first time he put me on hold it was for "a moment" the next time it was "a minute" then "two minutes" now it was "a few minutes."

"Yeah," I replied. "It's been and hour and 20 so far. What's another few?"

Long story short, I guess the Canucks aren't having an 07-08 season. At least not in Bell's world on my TV.

"Ma'am, is there anything else I could help you with?"

I did not have the ambition or patience to ask about changing my programming to High Definition. At this rate, I suspect we'll be watching the games elsewhere anyway.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lining up my blobs. It's not a pretty sight.

Jade and I started our watercolour class today. Thank goodness they start with the elementary basics like, "This is a brush." And "This is water."

I learned lots. Like, watercolours don't really do what they are supposed to if you don't wet your paper enough. And you should think about what you want in a final picture before you start plunking crimson blobs on your background wash. And for heaven's sake don't line your blobs all up in a row.

As the class was finishing up, the instructor reviewed the things we learned and told us what our homework was: label all your brushes and stuff so we quit stealing each other's things and bring some weeds to class next week.

This startled Jade and she whips her eyes over to me questioningly as if to say, "Is she serious?"
I replied, "There was an S on the end of weed, Jade."
"Oh. I wondered." she answered. Yes, we are aspiring artists learning to let our creativity flow freely, but not that free.

I'm posting my first production so that in 8 weeks time everyone can say "Oh my gosh, you have come amazingly far."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The rubber meets the road.

Whenever I'm at a red light and the driver next to me takes off with squawking tires or an excessively noisy engine roar I always say something like, "Oh yeah, I'm impressed," or "You got more money for fuel than I do."

On my way to work this morning I heard squealing tires as I entered the intersection when my left turning light turned green, and I immediately thought my derogatory remarks. But I soon realized I was the only moving vehicle. I totally peeled out in my front wheel drive old lady's car! How weird is that. I wasn't even in a hurry. My tire pressure must be low or something, but I can just imagine what the other drivers were thinking about the crazy woman driver with lots of money for tires.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well, duh!

Sometimes I wonder why I work with the public. Apparently it's inappropriate to say, "Well, duh!" to your customers.

Let's imagine the scene:

A young couple... no, let's just say a couple (10 years ago I would have called them a middle aged couple) shops for a nine thousand dollar luxury item and loads it up with options so it becomes a 13 thousand dollar luxury item. The said couple fills in their financing application, arranges for Thursday delivery and leaves the building.

The financing company doesn't even bat an electronic eyelash before spewing back "DECLINED. Recent Bankruptcy." And it falls on my shoulders to phone and tell the female half of the couple that until the bankruptcy memo is removed from the credit bureau, we cannot even consider offering them a loan.
"But it's only been a couple of years and the memo can't be removed for 7 years," she knowledgeably responds. Then goes into a long rant about how they are back on track and have, just last month, managed to borrow enough to purchase a $300,000 home.

Oh, I am sure the financial company is aware of this. All the more reason for them not to give you more money.

By the way, I neglected to say the said woman works for a financial adviser.

This is why sometimes the only response I have is, "Well, duh!"

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My $9.50 was NOT wasted.

It was Barbee's birthday the other day. A group of us girls made a date to go for a drink and an appy and then out to a movie.

Now when a group of females ranging in age from late 30s to ... uh, more than that ... go out to a movie, you'd expect it to be something like Ira and Abby or Nanny Diaries or Silk or Becoming Jane. But no. We went to Bourne Ultimatum. I really don't to action films. I'm a comedy girl. Maybe an occasional chick-flick. But Barbee's bday only happens once a year, so I eagerly agreed to have Rachelle pick me up.

Maybe I was tired, maybe I was still in vacation mode, I dunno. I walked out of Shooters (that's hooter with and ess on both ends) and looked to the left. Then to the right. I had no idea where I was or what vehicle I was looking for. Had I realized that 4 others were sitting in Rachelle's vehicle watching me, I may have been able to fake my way through it, but I rarely go down town and I rarely see Rachelle's vehicle. I felt like a prime candidate for Alzheimer's.

We settled in at the movie theatre and the Coming Soon presentations began. Being that we were at an action movie, the trailers were for upcoming action movies. I couldn't name one of them. Janet turned to me and said, "Not a comedy or a chick flick in the bunch." That's the last thing I remember.

Then next thing I knew someone was throwing a backpack under a vehicle and the movie was reaching a climax. And then it was over. I was sound asleep before the show even started!

Alb has always teased me about knowing all the opening credits and none of the plots of any movie I've ever watched. I didn't even see the opening line in this movie.

Was it a waste of $9.50? Not a chance! I'd pay that any time for a good nap.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The nose knows.

Research has proven that smells conjure up memories. Not necessarily more accurate or more frequent than those brought on by sights or sounds, but they are more emotional.

It's true. Imagine looking at a photo of a someone who has passed on, and intellectually, in your head, you think thoughts and memories (good or bad) about them. Now imagine smelling a piece of their clothing. If you loved that particular person, you just close your eyes and sort of imagine the scent as an internal hug. (Or you shudder and screw up your facial expression if it was someone you have negative emotions for.)

One thing that really impacts me when riding the motorbike is the scent of the ride. You miss the emotion of travelling when you are locked in an airtight vehicle with the air conditioning blowing.

Nature somehow seems fuller when you experience it's scent. The forest, the fresh-cut hay, the ocean breeze, the musky dirt scent of a recently harvested potato field, visuals alone just don't allow you to fully appreciate them. Even the different exhaust smells - diesel, gas, new car, old car, burning oil, etc - kind of gives you a connection to the others who are sharing the road with you.

And skunk. Don't forget about the roadkill skunk. Even it is almost pleasurable on the bike. It's just a quick sniff to bring back childhood memories of traveling to visit my grandparents, and then it's gone. However, in the vehicle the scent gets sucked into the cab and you carry it along with you long enough for it to become a negative thing.

I think it was for this reason that on our last day of travel, Barbee bought me a little stuffed skunk as a memento of our trip. I think she saw the road kill as a bad thing. I, however, saw those dead animals as a blessing. They were dead and not standing on the road alive. Normally when we travel, it's exciting to see wildlife. On the bike, I have to say, "Thank you, God. We saw very few live animals." Encountering one on two wheels takes on a whole different perspective.

Okay, I will stop now because, as frequently happens, this blog entry has taken an entirely different direction than I intended when I first sat down to type.


Monday, September 3, 2007

September depresses me.

I try hard to love September. After all it's the month when all the leaves turn vibrant colours, kids go back to school, fruit and vegetables are cheap...

But it means winter is looming. And, I prefer green over yellow, my kids are all gone from home and all those fruits and vegetables bring with them fruit flies. Those annoying little pests don't bite and they don't buzz but you move a piece of fruit or the damp dish cloth and they burst into flight scaring the crap out of you anyway.

And how disgusting is it when you go to sip your drink and six of the drunk little buggers are floating on your wine. I knew Google would have a solution for getting rid of them.

(As a little side note, I am wondering how we lived without Google and the internet. 15 years ago, if you wanted to know how to dispose of fruit flies you had to pay $29.95 PLUS shipping and handling and order the book of 1001 Useful Household Tips from Reader's Digest and wait for 6-8 weeks for delivery. By then winter had set in and fruit flies were no longer an issue, and you'd lose the book by the following summer.)

Anyway, Google did have solutions. You can cut the top off a pop bottle and turn it upside down like a funnel and duct tape it inside the bottom half of the bottle, add fruit juice and it will attract them inside and they can't fly up to get back out.

Or you can stink up your kitchen with a bowl of cider vinegar to which you gently add a tiny drop of dish soap to break the surface tension on the vinegar which will pull the flies in and drown them. Or something like that.

Another suggestion was to put an over-ripe banana on a pan in the open oven over night and sneak in and quietly close the oven in the morning and turn it on. Seriously, I found this solution I'm not making this stuff up.

But the simplest one yet: Leave about an inch of wine in the bottom of an open wine bottle and they will fly in and can't fly back out. Now why, when I know how attracted to wine they are, would I have not thought of that? Probably because the thought of wasting an inch of wine goes completely against my nature. But I hate fruit flies and I'm willing to try.

Now, the only way I can think to get an inch of wine into a bottle is drink it down from full. Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

And sho, i'm doing dish experimetn to shee how many off dose buugers i can get. and frankly if i dont get nun woh cares.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

And further more....

I'm glad you found me. I currently have nothing witty, profound or rude to say. But stick around, I'm sure something will come up.

Perhaps you are accidentally here looking for my blog about
Our Excellent Adventure Touring Across Canada.