Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On the Road Again

When I was a kid, my parents were those parents. You know, the ones who piled kids into vehicles of varying degrees of suitability for the task and spent their "family vacations" driving to get places.

Until I was about 8, the chosen mode of transport was a 1979 VW Rabbit. It had a blue vinyl interior, no air-conditioning, and rear windows that didn't roll down. This was the car that drove them and 2 kids across the country the first time, through the Badlands, through Nevada, through various Really Freaking Hot Places. Hot! So hot! I was only four at the time and I still remember how miserably hot it was.

As the family progressed through the years, the car changed to a Ford Taurus wagon that was known to pull campers of various descrip behind it. The Ford gave way to several Enormous Trucks. (I'm not really sure of the make and model...they are all Enormous Trucks to me...) But again, I spent countless hours riding along placidly in the car, staring out the window at the scenery flashing by. The cooler months were the worst, the sun peering out through the leafless trees and causing a nausea-inducing strobe effect. The long cross-country trips were the best, waking up in the middle of the night to get roast beef sandwiches at the A & W, or resetting the trip odometer to see exactly how far away that grain silo in Kansas was. (Answer: 37 miles!)

When I grew up and moved Away, I still mostly drove to get anywhere. I was a poor college and then graduate student, and I certainly did not have the extra couple hundred bucks that a flight usually cost. But then, my car was stolen and never came home, and I became a public transit gal. So flying became my chosen mode of transport. It was easy, and cheap, and quick--that harrowing 13-hour drive home reduced to an hour flight!

I never drive anymore. We always fly. That was part of the reason we had to get a smallish dog--so she'd fit in a carryon. We fly a LOT--we actually earn free flights. And I roll my eyes (remember the eye-rolling???) at the non-frequent fliers who don't get the security procedures. Annoying!

But this year, for some reason, those flights shot up early and permanently. A round trip flight back home was $300 each. Add to that $600 (for me and Sean) the $200 or so it takes to rent a car and assure we are not forced to sit in my parents' living room the entire weekend, and you have nearly a thousand dollars. Which, I should note, is a lot more money when you are paying for oil spills and excavating basements and the like.

So long story short, it's roadtrip time. We're bundling up the Dog Kid (the cats are not fans of roadtrips) and heading for The Sticks this evening. In our car you will find 2 cases of Labatt Blue Light (my father's request) and a case or more of 2-Buck Chuck (My mother's request--you can easily see my family's priorites: Alcohol and Stinginess.) People keep asking me how long it will take, and I'm loathe to reply lest it take far, far longer than that (see also the trip to Philly for Dave and Joanna's wedding that took us about 8 hours...).

Should be entertaining, to say the least. Not much internet access in The Sticks, so turkey day love to all and know that if you're reading this, I'm thankful for YOU.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Totally Understandable

Sean: So, someone at puppy kindergarten came up and asked me if Sadie was a chihuahua.

: What?!?

Sean: I know!

Redpanda: So what did you say?

Sean: Oh, I let my nine do the talkin'!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Let the Revolution Commence!

Today is Sean's Big-Three-Oh! We have celebrated thus far by:

--Eating a McGriddle

--Braving the ridiculous, murderous-rage-inducing crowds at Ikea

--Eating a 50-cent hot dog from Ikea

--Buying new shoes

And last but not least, playing with Sean's birthday gift, Dance Dance Revolution (Extreme 2!) Sean lept excitedly off the couch upon opening it, then sadly implored me not to make fun of him. As if it is possible to not make fun of someone playing Dance Dance Revolution (Extreme 2!). For anyone who hasn't experienced the wonder that is Dance Dance Revolution (Extreme 2!), please know that until one gains vast experience at the game, ALL HUMAN BEINGS (present company tremendously included) look like a cross between Mr. Ed counting and doing the Hokey Pokey while playing Dance Dance Revolution (Extreme 2!). It is impossible to not laugh at such a spectacle.

Love you, honey. There's no one I'd rather laugh at. Or look like Mr. Ed counting while doing the Hokey Pokey in front of. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What Year Is It, Again?


Redpanda: Hello?

Caller: Hello! I'm from the Boston Globe, and we are running a special on our---

Redpanda: I'm going to stop you right there. Someone actually called last night, too. It's my fiance's subscription, and he isn't here right now...

Caller: Yes, but the upcoming weeks are going to have so many coupons! You will need those for all your holiday shopping!

Redpanda: *Blink*

Redpanda: Sorry, I think coupons are stupid. He is the one who likes 'em. I prefer to spend my time reading The Wall Street Journal, bringing home the bacon, and frequenting titty bars. Gotta go!

Coupons? Seriously?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So, Then...

Not one to be outdone, Gustav the BeetleBugCar chose this morning as the one during which he would stubbornly refuse to start. Alternator? Mashed potater? Who knows? All I know is that his little purple ass was going NOWHERE, leaving me to bribe Sean for a ride into work. Which I got, by the way.

Someone asked me today if I had broken a mirror or something lately. Nope. Not yet. But it is starting to get kind of funny in a lame slapstick movie kind of way. I've pretty much become the Steve Martin character in every Steve Martin movie. Things will continue to go wrong. It is how it is when you are The Steve Martin. And really, it's kind of funny when you take a step back and don't get too humiliated for the poor guy taking the hot dog buns out of the packages because the number of hot dogs in a package should match with the number of buns in the package.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Let's Recap

It's not that I don't write because there's nothing going on, I don't write because I just don't effing FEEL like it. And then stuff keeps happening and I get annoyed because if I were to write about it, I'd have to provide Backstory. And Backstory annoys me, inducing eye rolling of the highest degree. And Allah help me, I can't hold back the eye rolling. I once had a big black check mark placed right next to my name, on the BOARD no less, because I had had a flagrant disregard for the implicit "Do Not Roll Your Eyes at the Teacher" rule that was somehow implied in that particular classroom. Really, it may as well have been a "Do Not Cough" or a "Do Not Blink" rule. My eyes, they ROLL. For no reason at times. At times to express understanding and empathy. Sometimes, because you are getting on my LAST frigging nerve and I wish that a giant bird would come to scoop you up and feed you to its fuzzy hatchlings high in a magical tree.

But I digress. There is catching up to be done. Some backstory may have to be provided. Look away, for there is certain to be eye rolling.

On Homeownership

Here is where I am supposed to be able to tell you how neato it is to own your own home, with the man you are going to marry no less! I am supposed to talk about the new leather sectional that we are thinking about getting from City Schemes and the paint colors we're going to put on the wall. But I'm not going to be highlighting those things today. Today we're going to discuss Oil Tank Ruptures.

Oh, sweet irony of ironies. We bought the house with every intention of converting to gas. We had pre-paid a deposit to the plumber who was hired to install our new gas furnace and to the company who was supposed to haul away our ancient, corroded oil tank. We just had ordered a bit of oil to get us through the time until the plumber could get out to do the install, which was put off a bit because of all that pesky basement flooding, mostly in the Taunton area.

But when they put the oil in, it burst forth from the ancient, corroded tank in a shimmering arc of doom. Doom, I say.

That very evening, emergancy services arrived to cut our ancient, corroded, and leaky oil tank in half and haul it out through our ancient, corroded bulkhead. They began the extensive cleanup. They installed a 55-gallon drum to hold some oil for us temporarily so we could have heat.

(Then the oil pump in the ancient oil furnace went, so now we actually have NO heat, but that's a bit off topic...)

Cut to now, when the extensive, expensive DEP-sanctioned-and-required cleanup has begun. "THEY" have jackhammered down 3 feet into our basement, stacking 8 55-gallon drums of removed soil next to our house. "THEY" are coming next week to do more sub-surface soil sampling. "THEY" think that there was an existing leak before the tank rupture, such is the extent of the damage.

Without going into too much detail, "I" am pretty fucking certain that the previous owners knew and hid it. Oh, and didn't disclose the information, which is required by Massachusetts law. So, yeah, we have an attorney. I think we kind of need a better one, though. Ours is a bit too laid-back. So if you happen to know a real bloodthirsty bulldog of a lawyer who specializes in real estate or environmental law, shoot me an email.

Oh, yeah; and no, insurance doesn't cover it. At least, not till it pollutes everyone else's groundwater and the cleanup gets up above six figures.

So, that's homeownership! My thoughts? DON'T HAVE OIL HEAT.

On a lighter note:

On Sadie:

I need to post more pics! I know! But rest assured that she is still just as cute, except her head tends to be a bit pink from all the Sadie v/s Cat wrestling that occurs in our wildly polluted home. And oh yes, she is just as smart as everyone who acquires a terrier of the Jack Russell variety fears their dog may be. Sean and I firmly believe she stays up late at night plotting how to take over the world, or at least how to build a ladder enabling her to reach the puppy food.

We've discovered a whole new subculture through Sadie. Before, when we went to Sheepfold (the lovely Middlesex Fells unofficial dog park), we would walk around, largely ignored by the many dog owners milling about. Now, we are the popular New Kids, and upon arriving are immediately swarmed. I am considering investing in a t-shirt that reads: "SADIE. JACK RUSSELL. 15 WEEKS", I tire so much of speaking those words. But everyone loves a happy wiggly puppy, and when there are other Jack owners there, we have our Jack Russell clique in the corner. Nyah-nyah!

On Wedding Plans:

We had just really started to get INTO the wedding plans, the plans to scope out sites and such, when the Oil Catastrophe occurred. So for now? Kinda sorta on hold. Sigh. We'll just have to see the degree of bankrupt we become before putting down too many deposits. I hear that Chuck E. Cheese is nice!

On Socks:

I never really wore the fucking things until I moved to Cleveland back in 1998. Yep, in cold climes they do help keep those tootsies warm! But you know what I hate about socks? Really, really loathe? That sock designers are retarded. Seriously. Retarded. Can anyone please explain to me why the sock design is on the TOP part of the sock? The part covered by your pants? Never to be seen until someone like me shows up at your party asking "YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE ABOUT SOCKS?"? The bottom of the sock, the part that actually has a bloody CHANCE of showing, this part tends to be sadly bereft of design. So here I am, in socks with an adorable argyle design on the leg. Am I supposed to be content being the sole person privy to this information? Content in the knowledge that, although no one can SEE it, my socks have a cute design?

On Copying Paige:

Since I want to be just like Paige, I went ahead and arranged for someone to hit MY car, too! Except they didn't hit my mirror, they instead managed to back into my car and knock off the license plate, which they considerately placed on my windshield before driving away. Person who hit my car in such a lame fashion? I hope you get painful pus-filled boils all over your body.

On Addiction:

Sean and I recently began watching our Tivo'ed episodes of Lost. And yeah, it's pretty addictive. And you know what else is addictive? The damn Tivo. I can no longer stand to watch TV realtime. Are you KIDDING me with the commercials?

On The Job:

I was called into my bosses' office yesterday because it had been "brought to her attention" that I took an extra-long lunch one day last week. There was that, for which I apologized profusely, and then the talk of ROI and how The Powers That Be are really, really looking at our program now, and how there are "issues", and blah blah blah blah blah. Yeah, lady. That's it. The reason your program is in the toilet is because of my extra-long lunch that one time. It's not because your scoring mechanism is fucked (which you won't listen to me about), your algorithm is fucked (which you spent a year not listening to me about until an expensive consultant said the SAME FUCKING THING), you are reporting the wrong parameters, and you've been giving me bad data for the whole 2 years I've been here.
It's also not because the other department we rely on couldn't get their shit straight, because you suddenly decided that someone who has no college degree and no clue what they were doing is my immediate supervisor, or because the software you have us using seems like it was designed by a high school student learning how to use Access for the first time.
Furthermore, the reason I can't keep up with the company you used to contract out the the work I'm supposed to do now to has nothing to do with the fact that they had 40+ people doing a job you have 5 doing. Or that you paid them millions of dollars. It's really because of my long lunch that one time.
Oh yeah, and when I show you evidence that I and my cronies are not effective at certain times you want us to be here? And that we could be more effective if you shifted our schedule around? That is because I am lazy and don't want to do my work.
The thing is, my boss (I refuse to call the person who is my supposed immediate supervisor my "boss") is completely not at fault. She's fairly new to come on board, and pretty much does what she is told to do by others. She isn't really familiar with the history of the program. And since I have long since learned to stop sharing my ideas (after the incident where I was disciplined for having ideas), I am not about to let her into the fold.
Say goodbye, program. You are toast. And I will shrug sadly when my talented friends at work end up being laid off because of a few people's inept management.