Lazy Saturday

It’s been a very lazy Saturday here in the Riggledo household.  I haven’t been to bed before midnight (and usually much later) in more than a month and sitting here at the end of my second week back at work since my most recent vacation, the late nights have taken their toll.

I’m sitting in my living room, in my recliner with my feet up.  I’m wearing sweat pants, a t-shirt and a fleece, Old Navy pull over.  There’s a throw blanket covering me from just below my chest all the way to my feet and it is an electric blanket which is plugged in and turned to high.  My laptop is– well, on my lap and my geriatric cat is curled up in a ball on my shins, sleeping and probably dreaming that the laptop will go away and free his preferred spot for him.  For the first time in weeks it is actually 70 degrees in my apartment and, just to be clear, that’s the warmest it’s been.  (On a couple of occasions in the last two weeks I’ve actually had to break out the space heater which I never use because it draw so much energy that my electric bills triple when I do, it’s been that cold.)

I am cozy and I do not want to move.  I’ve actually fought off sleep a couple of times already today.

It’s been a pretty good week, personally, filled with fun, social interactions, and personal accomplishments.  Dinner with Lil’B on Monday; Lunch with K on Tuesday; finally made it to the Library to pick up that book they’ve been holding, on Wednesday; Thursday I had my weekly noontime meeting with the little advisory council for my Emergency Response Team program; and yesterday I had a lovely, long lunch with my friend Chantelé to celebrate her birthday.

It has also been a week of completions. One of the reasons I’ve been up so late and getting so little sleep is because I’ve been working on a baby blanket for a friend of a friend.  Michelle asked me if I would make the blanket for someone she knows, and I’m always happy to do it as long as the requester supplies the yarn (that sh-stuffs expensive, yo!)  I finished the blanket earlier this week.

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Baby Blanket, hand crocheted by yours truly.

 

I’ve also been at the office late every day this week because I’ve been working on the first round of edits on my manuscript, hereafter called by its name, “The Teacher”.  I guess if I’m serious about getting this thing published, I should start treating it like it’s real, and that means, among other things, calling it by its name.  I found it easier to do this stage of the editing process, red pen on print out copy, sitting at a proper desk and not stretched out in my recliner.  As of about 7:15 last night, I have finished that process and now I have to go through and translate those edits to the soft copy.  And I need to get on it because I have eleven days until the first meeting of the writing group I’ve been talking about.

I’m super excited about the group, and also a bit nervous.  I won’t know anyone going in and that’s never a pleasant experience for me.  Plus many of the people involved are already published authors while I’m just a little blogger/writer with a small audience, a dream, and a not particularly mainstream manuscript.  I know it’ll be an excellent, educational experience, if nothing else; it’s just the buildup that I dread.

Tomorrow, I spend the afternoon with Lil’B and I really have no idea what we’re going to do.  I think it’s supposed to rain so we’ll be looking for something indoors.  Normally, that means movies, but I’m not sure there’s anything for us to see.  I’ll figure that out in the morning though.  For now, I’m just going to sit back, relax, and watch my Dotor Who (original series, season 21) DVD from Netflix followed by the Rock Hudson movie in my Netflix instant queue that’s about to expire, and then call it a night.

It’ll be lovely.  I’m already yawning and it’s only 6:45.

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Mostly On Target

I’m cheating…  Well, OK, I’m not exactly cheating, but sort of…

I made no promises about daily blog posts, and I certainly didn’t make any resolutions of the sort.  But I did say I wanted to write more, and I have posted something new everyday this year… You hear that?  EVERY DAY THIS YEAR!!!  (Sounds like a really long time and major accomplishment, huh?)  😉

Anyway, I’m cheating because I’m writing this tonight, but it won’t post till tomorrow…  Except that by the time you’re reading this…

I’m cheating because I wrote this last night, but it didn’t post till today…  Yeah, I think that’s right. Tomorrow(today) I will be heading up to Cache Creek Casino and Resort for a day of nickel slot machines (probably) and an over night in the hotel, before coming back on Thursday, so I have to write this post in advance and schedule it if I want to keep up my EVERY DAY THIS YEAR!!! streak.

I had dinner to(last)night with a friend of mine named Shirley.  I met Shirley at work years ago and we developed a friendship.  She was blessed enough to be able to retire early from the company and has been living a very comfortable life since then.  We get together every so often to enjoy a meal and have a nice conversation and that’s what we did tonight.  We had dinner at a lovely restaurant called Hs. Lordships (most people pronounce it “His Lordships” – don’t know why), in Berkeley, CA, right on the water of the Bay.  Shirley asked to have an “early dinner”, which worked out nicely.  She lives about 30 miles away from me and she was coming to me since I came to her last time and she wanted to eat early so she could go home early… Or anyway that was the plan.  I made 5:00 reservations and it was nearly 8:00 when we left the restaurant and then we stood in the parking lot for another nearly 30 minutes talking.

The restaurant was deserted when we arrived, and they seated us at arguably the nicest table they have.  It’s right in the corner with windows on two sides, one of which was facing the Golden Gate Bridge.  I couldn’t not snap a shot with my iPhone and this was the view from my dinner table tonight!

Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset

I expected the restaurant to fill up but the entire time we were there, there were only two or three other parties at the restaurant so it was kind of nice.  We had a wonderful and enlightening conversation and I’m so glad we got together.  It can be so hard to maintain relationships with people you don’t see with regularity, but this is a relationship that is worth maintaining!  Next time we get together, Shirley told me, I’ll come to her house where she’ll cook and I’ll get to meet and play with her six to eight year old Black Lab, Jake, whom she rescued from a shelter two years ago.  I can’t wait for that!

After my dinner was over, I ran over to the nearby Target store.  I was going way out on a limb, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

You see, a while back I bought a printer.

Sometime after that, I bought an ink cartridge.

Sometime after that, I bought a new computer because the one I had spontaneously kicked the bucket.

Sometime after that, I attempted to install my old printer on my new computer, only to learn that they couldn’t play nicely together.

Recently, I bought a new printer (spoiling Michelle’s plans for her Christmas Gift to me, as I’ve previously mentioned.)

Even more recently, I was cleaning up and I happened across that printer cartridge, which had never been opened and had never been used.

I know I bought that cartridge at Target.  I do not know when I bought it, where the receipt is, or which credit card I used to buy it.  In general Target has a very liberal return policy.  From the perspective of a former retail manager, their return policy is TOO liberal, however, as a frequent shopper of Target stores, I’m grateful for this liberal policy.  (By the way, are the gays still supposed to be pissed off at Target and boycotting?  If so, shoot me.  I don’t care.)  In addition to not knowing which card I used to purchase the cartridge, my Debit card number was recently changed, as I mentioned in a previous post, due to credit card fraud activity at my local grocery stores.  I handed the unopened cartridge box to the customer service rep and told her, “I’m going out on a limb here.  I don’t know when I bought this or which card I used but I know I bought it at Target.  She worked her magic and determined that I had not bought it on either of the two cards I had given her.  I was fully prepared to be told that it had been too long and I couldn’t return it.  Instead she said, “I can give you store credit and you’ll get $XX.XX for it.  I was perfectly happy to accept that as I had some shopping to do anyway.

I have had a number of complaints about Target over the years.  They’re in desperate need of properly training their staff not to get in their customers’ way and to say “excuse me” when they must.  Pretty much every time I’ve gone to a Target since I moved to California I’ve had at least one, and usually more, employee step in front of me and stop to put something on a shelf right where I’m looking, without saying a word.  I’ve had a number of bad experiences in their snack bars, with them usually being understaffed by under-motivated, slow-moving workers.  But I must say that I was very impressed with the service tonight and how the young lady handled my return that I expected not to go so well.

Spending the store credit was no problem.  I’m down to my last case of Diet Pepsi here at home and that’s just a tragic event that can not be!  I must have a plentiful supply of Diet Pepsi at all times!  Otherwise I get itchy.  Heh.  I needed one or two other things as well, including a wart removal product.  You see, yesterday at some time I rather suddenly became aware of a painful bump on the little webbing between my ring and middle fingers on my right hand.  Don’t know where it came from but it just seemed to instantly appear.  At first I thought it was a pimple and I tried my damnedest to squeeze and pop it (isn’t that what one does with a pimple?) but I couldn’t get good leverage on it to give it a good squeeze.  And then I thought, “That doesn’t look much like a pimple.  I think that’s a wart.”  I don’t know how I would have gotten a wart in between two fingers and so suddenly but I didn’t know what else it could be.  So while I was at Target I looked for wart remover.  I found exactly ONE product, which I’m sure is not all that’s out there.  Dr. Sholl’s Freeze Away.  “Removes warts fast with as few as 1 treatment” the package says.  I’d like to get rid of this thing with as few as one treatment.  That might be just what I need.  Though I have to admit that “freeze away” scares me and it cost $14.00 for something I’ll likely only use once.  But they didn’t have any other product so I bought it and brought it home.

I decided to be a smart boy and read the instructions and warnings carefully.  The instructions are remarkably incomplete.  “Twist the applicator onto the can, stick the applicator in the activator, freeze off the wart.”  Um… Okay.  Not specific enough.  The warnings go on to say, “Do not use this product on anything other than a common wart or a plantar wart.”  “If you do not use Freeze Away exactly as these directions say to use it, or if you use it on any other condition that is not a common or plantar wart, it may cause serious burns, permanent scarring of the skin, or blindness.  If you are not sure whether the skin condition is a common wart or plantar wart, ask a doctor before using Freeze Away“.

Well, I thought I was sure…  But I’m not sure enough to risk permanent scaring or blindness.  How is this product even available over the counter?  For $14.00, I’m taking this back and I’ll go to CVS to find some salicylic acid to paste on it.  Sure wish Target had some of that; this sucker hurts and I’d like it to be gone already!

 

So!  Now that this commentary is out of the way, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and pack for this trip that I am already on while you’re reading this. 😉

Busy Stay-Cation

I usually make the excuse that I write at work because I’m there so much and I have no time for writing at home…  That sounds nice, but since I’ve been off work since December 23rd and I didn’t write a thing between December 22nd and really, yesterday, that’s not much of an excuse.  You’d think there would have been many blog posts during this stay-cation.

This has been one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while, I mean, you know, for not having gone anywhere.  I received an infusion of cash (insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills) just as this stay-cation was beginning which enabled me to comfortably purchase Christmas gifts for all the people on my list to buy gifts for; fancy coffee for my mother, A GPS for Michelle, an Afterglow PS3 controller for Lil’B as well as art supplies for his birthday (which is 12/31), a cordless drill for my oldest niece (this is what she wanted.  Don’t judge me.), a horse game for my second niece and a little plush, radio control fire truck for my nephew.  Everything arrived on time and was properly distributed.  As far as I know everyone appreciated their gifts.  I was concerned that the art supplies would pale in Lil’B’s eyes compared to the controller, but he said he was excited about the art supplies.

I have spent a lot of time at home during this stay-cation, which is fine ’cause it was kind of the plan.  Stay home, clean, organize, generally get things in better shape.  I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped I would, but I’ve gotten a lot done and I’m quite happy about hat.  One of my Christmas gifts to myself is something I’ve wanted for a long time but just didn’t convince myself to spend the money on.  I decided recently that I was determined to get the item and so when I got the cash infusion, I took my 20% off coupon and headed right out to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought a Roomba, robot vacuum cleaner.

You guys! I’m so glad I bought this thing and I wish I had gotten it a long time ago!  It’s awesome!  It does a very effective job and it requires almost no effort on my part.  I say almost, because I do have to empty the little bin pretty much every day and I do have to push the button to turn it on…  Well I don’t have to.  There is an auto start feature, I just haven’t enabled it.  I also have to make sure there is nothing on the floor to get in its way.  This thing is surprisingly assertive and I have found that I have to make sure that all cords and cables are well out of the way or it will run over them and cause problems.  Though it is smart enough to stop running before it gets too tangled up in something, it will try a bit to vacuum the thing up, before it gives up.  My biggest fear was that it would not be able to get over the lip into the kitchen, which is the messiest room because that’s where the cat litter is, but the Roomba jumps the curb like it’s no big deal.  The other concern I had was how Mischa would react to it.  He has always been afraid of vacuum cleaners and whenever I would turn one on, he would run and hide behind a chair or something.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Roomba which is louder than I had hoped, but far and away quieter than any manual powered vacuum I’ve ever owned.  What’s really funny is that the Roomba, which has a built-in extra-dirt-detection sensor, seems to identify Mischa as a pile of extra dirt and it routinely targets him and heads straight toward him.  Mischa, being the mental giant that he is, just stands there until the Roomba actually bumps into him and then he acts indignant that it came after him.  Roomba has a little side brush which is designed to brush debris away from walls and out into it’s path.  Sometimes this side brush will bump against Mischa’s feet and then he tries to pounce on the brushes.  It’s really quite funny.  But I can run the Roomba everyday without causing any great turmoil for Mischa and that’s what I wanted, so I’m really quite thrilled with my purchase and wish I had done it long ago!  Now I really want a Scooba.  It’s made by the same people and it’s designed to wash hard floors.  The problem is, it says it’s safe on “sealed hardwood floors” and I’m sure mine is not sealed.  Bummer!

 

Michelle had a “lounge” party, on Christmas Eve at her apartment.  She insists it was always a lounge party (wear lounge pants and t-shirts) but her sister kept calling it a pajama party and I swear Michelle called it a pajama party the first time she mentioned it to me.  I pointed out that I don’t wear pajamas and that no one wants to see that, and that’s when she started calling it a “lounge” party.  It was a nice time.  Her three-year-old great-nephew was there and Michelle handed him my Christmas present and asked him to bring it to me.  Somehow, between that time and the time he handed it to me, the paper… ahem… fell off the gift.  She gave me a heated mattress pad, which is something I had been wanting for a while, only, you know how when you build something up in your mind and it’s going to be so wonderful and then you actually get the thing and it can’t live up to the expectations you built…  Yeah, that.  I felt badly ’cause I want to take it back, but I didn’t want to hurt Michelle’s feelings.  When I got over to her house this past Friday to do my laundry (since Saturday was New Year’s Eve) she was in the process of repackaging the one she had bought for herself to take it back.  She didn’t like it.  She let me off the hook and told me that I could return the one she got me if I wanted.  I told her I would probably do that and that I’d bring it back to her (since she had the receipt) and she could take it back and get me something else and wrap it up for me, and then maybe I’ll get to open MY OWN Christmas present.

 

I took Lil’B to Benihana for his Birthday dinner…  Actually it was kind of confusing. I took him, on December 26th and I told him, this is a special dinner to celebrate his Birthday, where he will get his Christmas present, and then at the next dinner on January 2nd, he would get his Birthday present.  I hadn’t been to  a Benihana in many years and while I knew it was a lot of fun, I also thought I remembered that it was a long and drawn out affair so I made reservations for 5:00.  He was out of school so it wasn’t a school night, but I figured we shouldn’t be out too late.  Dinner was over at 6:50 and Lil’B didn’t want to go home yet.  I called his mother and got her blessing and we went to a movie after dinner.  I got to take him to one of my favorite Movie Theaters.  It’s just and AMC theater, but it’s in the middle of San Francisco and it’s in an old building they renovated.  It’s a 12 screen cinema, but there are only four theaters to a floor, and there are three levels of theaters.  Since they are stadium seating, each theater is two stories, so this building is about 8 stories tall and I just find it fascinating.

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  This movie was horrendous!  I mean, truly, truly, terrible!  Now I know, this movie is not geared toward my age group, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two so it was sadly disappointing to me that I didn’t like this one as much, but on the plus side, there was a moment in this wretched movie that actually made Lil’B laugh out loud and if you’ve been coming around here long, you know what an accomplishment that is.  I’d sit through it again just to hear that!

The next day, I went to therapy, did a little shopping and went over to hang out with my friend Karin and her two kids.  I ended up staying through dinner and had a nice time.  She introduced me to some fancy operations that my iPhone is capable of and I wasn’t even aware… Giving me pause to consider the value in some new equipment purchases.  I’ll have to give that some thought.

 

Friday I went to Michelle’s house to do my laundry and hang out.  I got there early and after I started my first load, she and her great-nephew and I went to breakfast.  The boy was quite rambunctious and energetic.  It was fun though.  He runs kind of hot and cold when it comes to me, well, anyway, hot and luke warm.  Apparently, since he was a baby baby, I’m the only male, outside his immediate family that he would let hold him.  Other men would pick him up and he’d immediately squirm and cry and want to get away and with me, he was fine.  Now that he’s a little older and has a personality, he doesn’t dislike me, but he often doesn’t want to engage with me.  But this day, as soon as I walked in he was all over me, asking me questions and talking to me and wanting to sit with me.  It was almost too much, but it was still nice to see.

 

I’ve mentioned in the past how I do not want to be home on New Year’s Eve.  My mother never went anywhere or did anything and all we ever did was sat in the living room and watch TV.  Theoretically, watching “the ball drop” only my mother was forever surfing channels trying to get away from all that horrible secular music that was always on the network shows.  We would watch something from Washington, DC on PBS, which was always live and therefore an hour early, plus fireworks on TV just do not have the same effect.  From 11:00 to 11:58:30 she would surf around trying to find something that wasn’t rock and roll music and then at the last second (sometimes after the last second) turn the TV to one of the networks.  We’d say “happy new year” and then go to bed.  I swore that when I had it in my own power I was not just going to sit around at home on New Year’s Eve.  This has proven to be problematic from time to time because I hate crowds too, but I make the best of it.

In years past I’ve gone out of town for New Year’s Eve spending a few days in another place away from home and with more excitement than I’ve got here.  Most of the time, New Year’s Eve was just the excuse I needed to go on a trip, but I still enjoyed myself.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, Reno a couple of times.  Last year we got a room a the Embarcadero Hilton in San Francisco and had a really lovely evening, but it ended up costing as much as a three night trip out of town.  This year, Michelle and I had 10:00 reservations at a restaurant called Skates on the Bay, which is, as you might imagine, on the San Francisco Bay.  I had never been, though Michelle had a couple of times.  The plan was to have dinner and then stroll out side to the water front where we would watch the fireworks from San Francisco at midnight.  In an all too familiar scene, Michelle was in the bathroom at midnight and I stood by the windows of the restaurant where we had JUST gotten our check and watched the fireworks by myself (le sigh).  It’s okay.  This is kind of terrible for me to say, but I feel like midnight on New Year’s Eve is a moment that, ideally should be shared romantically and I don’t have any romantic feelings for Michelle, maybe being alone at that moment was better.  The fire works display was nice, though I feel like it looses some of its splendor when you can’t hear, and just as importantly, feel them.  The display was the same one we watched last year, which means it was shot off from a barge outside the San Francisco Ferry Building, about six and a half miles away.  I’m always caught a little by surprise at how small they are from what seems like such a short distance.

After dinner, I took Michelle back to her sister’s house, dropped her off and came home.  I would have liked to have been somewhere else for a little vacation and I got a wild idea that may not really be financially feasible that I’d really like to go to Australia for next New Year’s Eve, but as long as my 19 1/2 year old cat is with me, that can’t happen.

Last night was another dinner with Lil’B.  We went to a local place I’d never been to called The South Shore Cafe.  It was very ordinary, but it was something new for both of us and I’m trying to expose him to new things, so it was fun.  We talked a little bit about his birthday.  He said he couldn’t remember what kind of cake he had but that it had Oreos on it.  I asked him if they had ice cream and he said no, so I had to rectify the no birthday ice cream problem.  We went to a local ice cream shop called Loard’s (I learned it is supposed to be pronounced “Lo-ard’s” as it is a compilation of the two founders last names.)  Loard’s is a 100% local company that makes its own ice cream in a local factory and it was really quite good.  When I was looking at the flavors on the board I was caught by surprise and was a little grossed out by “Avocado flavor” but I had to taste it.  It was surprisingly good, although, honestly, it tasted mostly like Vanilla.

 

This morning I had an orthodontist appointment, I wasn’t holding my breath, though I was hoping today would be the big day.  No such luck.  In fact based on the conversation I had today with “Dr. Jeff”, (I always wondered how the staff differentiated between the father and the son, now I know) it looks like two to three more months.  The day Dr. Jeff put them on he told me 12-18 months, this is the 13th month.  On the plus side though, I paid my final payment today and have one few debts hanging over my head! Yay!

 

Tonight I have dinner with an old friend of mine, and tomorrow Michelle and I are going, over-night, to Cache Creek Casino and Resort.  It’s an Indian run casino about 90 minutes north of here.  We’ll go and play for the afternoon, then spend the night in a hotel room, have breakfast and head back.  That’s about as long as I can leave Mischa on his own since he’s confined to the cage and he eats canned food, but it’ll be nice to get a little tiny break anyway.

 

*Oh by the way, I guess I’m supposed to say that despite my glowing report (and despite the two additional people I’ve about talked into it – my mother says I should get a commisison) I am not being compensated in anyway by Roomba, or Bed Bath and Beyond or any other products or merchants I may have mentioned here…  Dammit.

2012 New Year Declaration

Well, here we are.  It’s 2012…  The last year of the world (Yeah, right!)  What are we going to do with it?

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t like to set myself up to fail and that’s what I think New Year’s resolutions do for me.  But I’ve been thinking about what I want for this upcoming year.  Lot’s of things have come to mind of course.  Yeah, I’d like to lose weight… again.  Of course, I’d like to get back into the habit of going to the gym and get in better shape… again.  I’d like to get back on the blogging bandwagon…. again.  I don’t write here nearly as much as I should.  Not as much as I would like to.

I read a while back on Jen Lancaster’s blog that writing is a muscle and like with any muscle, you have to keep exercising it or that muscle get’s weak.  That makes perfect sense to me and I’ve experienced it first hand.  If I don’t write regularly, I find it harder to get back into the habit.  So I would like to write more.  Ideally every day, though that may be easier said than done.  I’m going to try though.  If you’re looking for me to make a “resolution” to write more, forget it.  I ain’t gonna do it!  But keep checking back, hopefully you’ll see more writing more often in the new year.  According to that fancy pants year-end review thing that WordPress put together and I posted yesterday, I had 69 new posts last year.  Sixty-nine new posts out of 365 days…  That seems kind of shameful to me.  This year, I hope, will be better.

Anyway, thinking about 2012…  I’d like to eat better.  Cook more, learn to make new, healthy, but interesting recipes.  I took some time during my stay-cation this past week to really clean up and reorganize my kitchen and I’m amazed.  I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but whatever.  When I looked at this apartment more than four and a half years ago, I liked it a lot.  The guy who lived here before me didn’t have a ton of stuff and the apartment wasn’t terribly cluttered.  I liked it (except for the inordinately small closet) and I was interested, but the thing that put me over the top, was the kitchen.  It’s not large, by any means, but what put me over the top was this beautiful kitchen with the black marble slap counters, the stainless steel appliances, the gas range and oven and the over-sized sink.  I didn’t notice until moving in that it didn’t have a microwave or a garbage disposal, but I owned my own microwave and I’ve managed to make do without the garbage disposal.  Over the years, the kitchen counters became a dumping ground.  I walk in the door with my mail in my hands and I walk straight into the kitchen where I dump everything on the counter.  For months now, I’ve had so much clutter on my kitchen counters, that I had only one small section of counter space to do my chopping and mixing and plating.  My kitchen was no longer my friend.  The other day, I took some time to go through the stuff on the counters and put a lot of it away.  I threw a lot of things away and some additional stuff that I haven’t used, but I’m not ready to part with, got boxed up and taken down to the garage. I now have a wide open and beautiful kitchen I’ve regained the ability to appreciate.  Now it’s time to make proper use of it again!  I’ve even been remarkably consistent about putting dishes in the dishwasher the moment I’m finished with them, instead of piling up dishes in the sink and on the counter before they finally get into the dishwasher.  Yay me!  🙂

Like I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kinds of things I want to accomplish this year, and there’s one thing I keep coming back to more than anything else.  I want my book to be published.  So instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m making ONE 2012 New Year’s Declaration, by the end of this year, barring unforeseen, and very positive intervention, The Teacher, by Kevin Riggs, will be published in one form or another.  (And that does not include matchbook sized Christmas Tree decorations.)  I have very high hopes for some sort of successful deal with a real publishing company, but barring positive results of that endeavor, I will self publish this book before the year is out.  Stay tuned!

What is the Deal

Watch this video from my favorite Christmas movie.  Don’t worry, it’ll open in a separate window.  I tried to embed it but the person who posted this set it up so it couldn’t be embedded and it was the only clip I could find with the crucial line in it.  If you don’t have much time, skip ahead and watch from 3:03 to about 3:30.  (Thanks a lot, Christmas Dave for ruining the flow of my blog post.)

Go over to YouTube and watch the clip.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Finished?  Great.  Now allow me to branch off into a seemingly completely unrelated topic, only to loop it all back around in then end…

I’ve got a bit of seemingly minimal crap going on in my life.  But of course, “a bit” of seemingly minimal crap can pile on and amount to one big pile of smelly, unpleasant…  stress.

The apartment I have lived in for the last four years has only one built-in source of heat.  It’s a small, gas-burning fireplace with asbestos (probably not asbestos) logs that glow when hot to make it look like they’re on fire.  The flame itself only resembles a smoulder and offers no ambiance to my apartment.  The fireplace gets pretty hot right where it is and according to “them” is supposed to be sufficient to heat my whole apartment.  In reality, it s about 85 degrees at the fireplace and about 65 degrees 8 feet away.  Plus, the fir place puts off an obnoxious odor that gives me a headache.  I choose not to use the fireplace and in the meantime, it is freezing in my apartment.

Yesterday I went to the Orthodontist for what was supposed to be my take-my-braces-off appointment.  Last month, the younger Dr. Tinloy (it’s a father and son practice) told me to pay close attention to my teeth over the next month and see if there was anything else I felt needed to be corrected and this month we’d talk about taking the braces off.  Realizing that literal perfection is not a possibility at my age, without extraction and implants, I’m pretty happy with the way my teeth look these days, but I did notice that the back teeth on the bottom are not in-line with the rest of my teeth.  I didn’t know if it really mattered, or if it was worthwhile (or even possible) to try to correct, but I didn’t want to look back on this experience in a couple of years and wish I had stuck it out and gotten those last two teeth straightened out.  When I pointed this out to the older Dr. Tinloy yesterday, he agreed that it could be done and even said he did think it was worthwhile.  So here I sit with braces still on my teeth and in some respects tighter than they’ve ever been.  I’m aware that after only one year and nearly finished I’m better off than most and my threshold for pain is pretty high so I haven’t had a lot of discomfort, but they’re a hassle and I’m ready to have them off.  In the end though, I chose to continue with the process and finish what I started.

Some time in the last month or so, some ne’er-do-wells managed to sneak some contraptions into the self-service check stands at several of the local Lucky’s grocery stores.  These contraptions record and somehow transmitted or conveyed the information from customer’s credit cards to the ne’er-do-wells who have been using the information fraudulently and causing a lot of trouble and heartache for the owners of those cards and the banks they’re attached to.  Sadly, I frequent two of those Lucky’s grocery stores and while, fortunately, I have not been a victim of any identity theft, or bank fraud, my bank, proactively, decided to cancel my debit card because I shopped at those stores.  They sent a replacement, which I received yesterday, but for several days I was without access to my money…

This was not as much of a hardship as it could have been, because, well…  I really don’t have any money.  I have $38.00 in the bank until payday which is this Friday.  I need to do Christmas shopping (soon, since most of my gifts are going out of state) and I have bills that are coming due soon, but for the moment, I’m OK, financially speaking.  Still $38.00 isn’t much and I would certainly prefer to have more money just hanging around…  I suppose we could all say that, though, no matter how much we actually have “hanging around.”

For a few weeks, ever since the very sniffly, coughy, non-hand-washy DMV worker, I’ve been struggling with cold-like symptoms.  First it was a couple of weeks of running nose and sniffles.  Then just as that was dwindling away, I started coughing… TWO. WEEKS. LATER.  The cough has persisted.  It’s not constant, though it is a nuisance.  It’s not productive and despite my best efforts it’s not offering any kind of relief to the irritation that causes it in the first place.  While I have not been short of breath, I have had a hard time getting a full, deep breath and when I try, it just makes me cough some more.  Also, after nearly three weeks of coughing, I have muscular pain in my chest and back when I cough.  Monday, I finally broke down and called my health care provider.  I wasn’t sure there was any point in me going in – I don’t go to the doctor for the common cold…  though maybe I should.  After a conversation with an “Advice Nurse” it was determined that I could probably make do with a “phone appointment” and a little while later, I spoke with a doctor who, after discussing my symptoms said, “it sounds like you’ve got bronchitis” and proceeded to put in three prescriptions for me; two inhalers and one bottle of pills.  Now, what I’m about to say is going to sound really ungrateful, so let me just specify that I KNOW I’m luckier than many people when it comes to health care coverage and yet, even for me, an employee of my healthcare provider, costs have gone up.  Everything is relative and compared to the coverage I used to have – $5.00 for prescriptions and $0.00 for everything else – the increased expenses suck.

Remember that my ATM/Debit card was cancelled and I did not have access to the $38.00 in the bank.  I happened to have very full jars of change on my dresser which I took to a coinstar machine and cashed in.  It gave me enough cash that I should have been able to get through this week without any fears of running out of lunch money.  My three prescriptions on Monday night cost me $45.00 and I had to pay another $1.00 for parking.  I had $49.00 cash in my pocket.  Suddenly, I didn’t have any more money for the week.

Monday, I reminded K of a task she needed to complete for me this week.  It’s a task that will take her all of 20 minutes to complete and normally she wouldn’t have to do it right now, but she’s on vacation next week and I’m taking another two weeks stay-cation starting at Christmas.  What she needs to do for me needs to be done and announced before I go on vacation, therefore, she needs to do it this week.  Her response?  “See this is why I asked you last week if there was anything else I owed you.”  After thinking of a number of less friendly things to say, I simply said, “You’re welcome,” and left it at that.  I chose not to make her attitude, my problem.

Yesterday, I had about an hour and a half between my Orthodontist appointment and my bi-weekly appointment with Deb and while I was at home I had a thought that caught me a little by surprise and when I expressed the thought to Deb, “With all this stuff going on, I’m not stressed out about it.  I’m doing just fine,” I got a mental picture of The Grinch in the scene above…

To paraphrase a little bit, “I’ve got all this crap going on, and I’m fineWhat is the DEAL?!?!?”

Need a Nap?

Just in case you were in need of some extra zzz’s and couldn’t fall asleep, I bring you the following:

I’m on stay-cation next week. There’s no particular reason, except that I have three float holiday’s that I will lose on December 31, 2011 if I don’t use them and I’m also dangerously close to maxing out on my Paid Time Off hours and if I don’t start taking some, I’m going to hit the max early next year and will be essentially giving my PTO back to my company. Stupid.

Having all of next week off should come in handy as I am (Gasp!) 14,513 words behind if I plan to complete NaNo this year. More importantly, I’m in a difficult to digest portion of my story and I’m having a hard time finding the space to do the writing unencumbered by numerous distractions. I hope that by being home and with little on my plate, I’ll be able to power through and get to a good pace again (and caught up).

I do have plans to go, next week, to a local clinic where I will FINALLY get my pre-employment physical done so that I can move forward with getting my ambulance driver license, the latest in a series of obstacles that have provided me with good excuse not to have gotten an EMT job yet.

After a conversation with my friend Micah who was a class or two ahead of me and who I became friendly with when he was the other “Teaching Assistant” last spring, I am now aware that while I have the paper work the Doctor needs to fill out for my physical, there is another little card that I needed to have, which could not be downloaded. So for lunch today, I went to the DMV. Fun right? It needn’t have taken long. I wasn’t doing anything but grabbing a form that was supposed to be out for the taking… And it was, only since I was there, I figured I should ask about getting an Ambulance driving Manual.

See, while I’m basically getting a commercial driver license, I couldn’t believe that the 160 page document I printed that is very broad could possibly be what I needed. It’s Friday, it was bout 1:30, the DMV wasn’t terribly busy, so I asked the young man (GET OFF MY LAWN!!) at the front desk if I had the right book. He told me I did not. I asked if I could get it from him, he said yes, it’s $5.00, and made no move to get the book for me. I asked him how long the wait would be. He looked at his computer screen and said, “not long”. Everything is relative.

Aside: Why does he not have this book at the front counter where he could take my money, hand me my book and send me on my way?

He handed me a number and I waited for… well, I don’t know how long… two and a half chapters in the book I’m reading, long. Finally I was called to a window were a very sniffly, coughy, non-hand-washy girl very lacadasically went about selling me a $5.00 booklet that they clearly printed and stapled together in the back room.

Aside: Why could I not just download a PDF of this book on-line?

My oldest nieces birthday was on November 5th. My status as “Favorite Uncle Kevin” is quickly dwindling away as she has not yet received a gift from me, nor did I call her on/for her birthday. Don’t judge me! Have you spoken on the phone to a 9-year-old child lately? No thanks!

Being 2550 miles away, I have no idea what to get an 9-year-old girl, I don’t spend nearly as much time with as I would like, for her birthday. So I asked her mother. Prepare for cringe worthy moments ahead…

After thinking about it for a couple of days, my sister came back and told me that what Caitlin really wants is “to get the clutch on her motorcycle fixed. This bad idea is going to cost about $600.00 and so the suggested gift for the 9 YEAR OLD GIRL was a “rechargeable visa card” with some money on it that she could add to until she had enough saved to pay for the repair.

Aside: I hate the idea of my 9-year-old niece being on a motorcycle, let alone owning one of her own, so I at least take comfort in the idea that it doesn’t run, and since I was only going to spend about $25.00, it’s not like I’m going to put her over the top or anything, but still!…

Reluctantly, I agreed to this plan, only, I really have no idea how to go about procuring a rechargeable visa card for a 9-year-old, and so here we are 13 days after her birthday and I haven’t even started the ball rolling…

My sister has since suggested that she thinks I should be able to get it at my bank and so, since I was already out at the DMV (see, you didn’t think these stories were related, did you?) I figured I could go into a branch to inquire there about whether and how they could make this happen. So when I finished my DMV business I went back to the car and I asked my iPhone, “Siri? Where is there a Bank of America around me?” And, well, I have an iPhone 3Gs, so, my iPhone didn’t say anything back, but the app told me where there was a Bank of America, less than half a mile away. As it turns out, I already knew this Bank of America was just where it was, I just didn’t realize I was so close to it while at the DMV, which I did not know where was and had to have my GPS direct me.

I drove toward the BofA, thinking how long I had been at the DMV, and how long I had already been MIA and what I should have for MDM (Mid Day Meal – otherwise known as lunch.) As I rounded the corner in front of the BofA I was reminded, ’cause I saw the sign, that there is a Boston Market right next to the Bank. Seemed like a good idea. Nothing fried there; that’s a plus right?

I walked in the front door of the bank and saw a longer line than was at the DMV and turned right around and walked out again. Thirteen days and counting, still dont’ know how I’m going to go about getting my niece her card.

At Boston Market, I ordered a combo plate with meat and two sides. I ordered brisket. No matter how good my intentions are when I go into a place like a rotisserie chicken restaurant, if there’s red meat there too, it’s almost guaranteed that’s what I’ll order.

Looking at the sides though, I thought, this place is supposed to be healthy? There sides are all carbs! New potatoes, mashed potatoes, loaded mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (actually yams, yuck!), stuffing, corn, green beans, creamed spinach… OK, granted green beans and creamed spinach are probably not that high in carbs, but, yich! Don’t like either of those.

I ordered loaded mashed potatoes and this squash, zucchini casserole thing topped with melted cheese (who doesn’t like melted cheese?) That shouldn’t be too bad, right? Squash isn’t high in carbs. There’s the cheese, but I’m less worried about a little extra fat than I am a lot of extra carbs.

Lo and behold it was some sort of stuffing type thing with the sliced squash over top and the cheese over that. It was delicious, to be sure, but still… Someone said, “Oh, wait. There’s not enough carbs in this dish, we need to rectify that!”

Also, I had an extra slice of cornbread.