Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

Just ran into this little gem while surfing the net.

I think little Abigael has summed up my feelings completely!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not My Job

So.... I was having this great week. CatMan and I went for a few bike rides... the weather was amazing... I was enjoying taking pictures and cooking... I was even looking forward to the snowstorm that arrived last night... I felt calm and centered... it was really rather amazing... like almost too good to be true... sorta like I was forgetting something...

Let's just say that in my zeal to spend time actually enjoying my own life, I sorta forgot about one tiny thing - the inbox!

Yanno... it's rather amazing how quickly that lovely feeling of lightness evaporated as I watched the emails flood in and pour off the bottom of the screen.... hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. I felt a bit like Lucy & Ethel in the chocolate factory.

Suddenly it dawned on me that I DO have a choice about this sort of thing.

I long ago took action on my overflowing snail mail by cancelling subscriptions, removing myself from every mailing list that I could, and signing up for various do not mail lists.

But somehow email seemed less bad to me - I always figured it was a good way to stay informed about things I care about without all the paper and hassle.

However, while it might not consume as many physical resources, having an inbox full of emails begging for my time, attention, and money is not helping me. All my email inbox is really doing is taking my time and attention away from more important and meaningful things.

And the thing is, while most of these emails do come from businesses and organizations that I care about and want to support, I am a finite being with limited resources of time, energy and money. I just can't be responsible for staying engaged with every little thing that's wrong in the universe.

And soooo... I decided that help was really only a click away...

First I tackled the easy ones... the pure marketing crap. I'm not even sure how I got onto some of these email lists, but I certainly don't need to be wasting my time reading (or even just deleting) emails from Target or Big Lots or Best Buy. Sorry dudes, but being a "good consumer" is not my job!

Next came the "newsletters." It seems like every organization I've ever done business with wants to send me a monthly or weekly "newsletter" telling me all about what's going on with their group. And while many of these are small businesses or groups that I really do want to support, staying "up to date" on the minutia of every organization that does good work is just not my job either.

Then came the non-profits. Boy, oh boy do these people have me pegged. My inbox regularly overflows with emails from every animal shelter, sanctuary or environmental group on the planet. Oh the guilt. I know the world is full of homeless & abused pets, and that wildlife habitats are being destroyed right and left, and ecosystems are coming apart at the seams, but do I really need to be reminded of it on an hourly basis?

I contribute when I can, and receiving the constant stream of heartbreaking stories and pictures along with pleas for more money really only makes me feel... well... it makes me feel heartbroken and helpless. And to be perfectly honest, I've got my hands full just trying to take care of the 4 once-stray cats that I've already adopted. As much as it pains me to say it, saving every animal on the planet is just not my job.

And then there's the real kicker... the political emails. Just thinking about it gives me a knot in my stomach. Here's the thing. I know our personal freedoms are under assault. I know that the corporations have ridiculous amounts of power and are working hard to buy this election. I know that a return to the right wing economic policies would be devastating to the people of this country. But is my digital signature on a bazillion petitions really going to fix it all?

I vote, I volunteer, and I contribute when I can... is it really helping me to read about the constant stream of infuriating bullshit that's going on out there in the world of politics? It does seem to me that we're goin' to hell in a hand-basket, but if the people of this country are really too stupid to vote for their own interests, maybe they deserve to live in a fascist plutocracy.

I guess I'm just coming to the sad conclusion that trying to save people from themselves is pointless, and it's not my job either.

I still feel a little bit guilty, but to be honest, I'm kinda looking forward to the inbox being something other than a giant energy suck vortex.

Does anybody else out there struggle with this stuff? How do you keep from feeling like you're responsible for fixing everything that's wrong in the world?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Week of Comebacks

Well, if you read my last post you probably realized that I was feeling a bit bummed - but the past week or so has been a remarkable collection of comebacks.

First there was Biden... Oh, how I love Joe Biden, especially when he uses words like "Malarkey!" I sort of doubt that the vice presidential debate will amount to more than a hill of beans when all is said and done, but it sure felt good to watch old Joe refusing to take any guff and tellin' it like it is!

The weather has taken a turn for the better. I planted some spring bulbs to replace the tulips and daffodils that died off last spring in the drought. And I took a most wonderful walk in the park on Monday with camera in hand. Here are a few gems from that little outing.

Along the way I met a charming little old lady. She must have been in her 80's and we had a grand chat. Turns out she lives in the neighborhood where I grew up (not terribly surprising since this park is near there) but I seriously must have walked right past her house every day as a kid on my way to school. Cue Walt Disney...

Anyhow, she was very involved in the political battle to keep that park designated as open space instead of opening it up to development, and she told me all about the process. She also spent a LOT of time telling me how important it was to vote for the upcoming ballot initiative to legalize marijuana because, of course, she uses it daily to treat her glaucoma - Go Granny Go!! She was a total riot!

And then there were my beloved Denver Broncos. Don't know how many football fans are out there, but let's just say that despite the fabulous Peyton Manning donning him some orange and blue, my boys have had a bit of trouble holding onto the football this year.

And after we fumbled twice in the first quarter, we finally had a fabulous play that was a sure touchdown until our receiver tripped over the 40 yard line. Seriously, the dude couldn't have been more open - and he made a great catch, and then just tripped over his own feet!

And to make matters worse, the next play Manning threw an interception (backup receiver was in the wrong place) and the Chargers ran it back for a touchdown! AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!

At this point it was clear that this was WAY more than simple bad luck... this was a CURSE!

BUT, just when all seemed lost, somehow my beloved Bronculators came back in the second half and scored 35 (yes, THIRTY FIVE) unanswered points to win the game in the biggest comeback in the history of Monday Night Football. GO BRONCOS!!!!!!!!

After the game, everyone kept asking what sort of amazing half time pep talk they had in the locker room - but folks, this was no pep talk, this was an exorcism!

Anyhow, it was pretty darned cool!

And then Obama did us proud in the town hall debate. No more Mr. Nice Guy! I don't know if it will make any difference, but it was sure nice to watch Romney take it on the chin a few times after that pack of lies that he got away with during the first debate.

And then today, the best comeback of all. CatMan has some chronic pain issues that have been acting up lately, so we haven't been able to do much. But today he felt better, and it was nice weather, so we went for a fabulously wonderful 45 mile bike ride. Yippee!!!

So there you have it... a few political blows landed, a great football game, some sunshine & fresh air, and one little old lady smokin' dope... and all is right with the world!

So how 'bout you. What fills you up & makes you happy?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Autumn Melancholy

Well... the seasons have changed here - somewhat abruptly. On Wednesday it was in the mid-80's and CatMan & I went for a lovely bike ride. By Friday morning there was snow on the ground and on Saturday we didn't get out of the 30's. I think I managed to save a few of the garden plants, but I'm not quite sure why I bothered - they're probably done for the season anyhow.

I'm not sure why, but this time of year I always start to feel a certain sense of melancholy. It's not sadness per se, just a sense that the long days are over and the hunkering down now begins.

Perhaps it would be less marked if I was willing to keep the house a few degrees warmer. I've gone from shorts and tank tops to 4 layers of fleece in remarkably short order!

And I'm sure that swing state politics aren't helping my mood any!

I harvested everything I could before the freeze - mostly tomatoes and squash, but a few peppers & eggplant too. There are 2 boxes of tomatoes ripening and waiting to be made into sauce, which is a good thing because I just finished using up the marinara from last year's harvest. And the zucchini & pumpkin bread bake-a-thon is in full swing - although I fear I still have 5 gallons of pumpkin & squash puree in the deep freeze from last year!

You know, I think there's a fine line between "abundance" and "overwhelmed." I like cooking and freezing, I just hate having to do it all NOW, if you know what I mean. And I'd really, REALLY like to have my kitchen back.

But I got inspired by some ratatouille that my step-mom made last week, so I decided that would be a good way to use up a bunch of stuff... but somehow I couldn't bring myself to stand over the stove sauteing it all. So I decided to try a ratatouille-inspired veggie roast with some chicken thrown in for protein.

It turned out fabulously, and I think I may try this method for making sauce - I'll try one batch at least and see how bothersome the tomato skins are once pureed. Honestly, the thought of standing over the stove blanching and peeling tomatoes for hours on end just sounds like more than I can handle at the moment.

Does anybody else out there get the autumn blues?

Anyhow, here's the soundtrack that keeps running through my brain, just in case you wondered what's going on in there...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Revenge of the Vacuum Cleaner

OK. So, you might recall that in my last post I made a few, um.... disparaging remarks about my vacuum cleaner. I believe the phrase "wrestling an octopus" may have been used...

Well, it would seem that the vacuum was listening.

Because a few days later I decided that the layer of cat fur was getting a tad bit too thick, so I forced myself to drag the sucker out of the closet and vacuum. Sooooo, I got about midway through room one when the brush roller stopped functioning.

My first thought was that it was jammed, but the light wasn't on either... it was like no power was getting to that part of the apparatus. It has an overload reset button... I pushed it and pushed it, but no avail.


At this point I probably should have stopped and tried to figure out what the problem was. But I fear I was rather pissed off. I mean, if I'm gonna go to all the trouble of dragging the damned thing out and wrestling with it, the least it can do is function, right?

Anyhow, I decided to just take the roller brush head off completely and attempt to complete my task with the bare floor attachment. Oy Vey! Let's just say that one gets very marginal performance using a bare floor attachment on 40 year old avocado green shag carpeting replete with cat fur.

Spurred on by anger, I managed to finish the task... kitty-litter covered basement and all. I frustratedly tossed the evil thing back into the closet and tried to decide what to do next.

I figured the entire brush roll head would need to be replaced, and I just couldn't see putting much money into fixing a 17 year old canister machine that I hated anyhow.

So I figured maybe this was an opportunity to replace the sucker with something less... well, less octopus-like. You know, maybe an upright with fewer hoses to navigate, and maybe I could even find a cordless model. So I hopped on the internet and discovered the Hoover Linx - an actual full power machine that's cordless.

After reading several reviews and watching a few comparison videos, I was sold. I plunked down my $150 and ordered one on the spot.

Problem solved, right? WRONG!

Sooo.... later that evening, I trundle downstairs to hold Princess' paw while she used the litter box (long story) and I step into the furnace room and discover a big puddle of water on the floor. Oh NOOOOOOO! So I'm looking around for a leaking pipe, and then I discover that the water is coming from the condensate pump that was installed with my new furnace/heat pump/AC unit a few years ago.


OK, I think. No problem. The furnace has a 10 year warranty, I'll just call the installer in the morning and they can come out and fix it. Soooo, I call the idiots company and explain the situation. I ask if this will be covered under the warranty.

"Well," the girl responds, "the technician will have to determine that when he arrives. And there's a $79.95 charge for the service call, which will be waived if you decide to have the repairs done."

OK, I think. Surely the technician will be able to see that this is a new furnace, and I'm holding the warranty in my hand, plus, I've got a $50 credit with the company from the last time they fucked up there was a little mishap, so I go ahead and schedule the service call.

So the dude arrives and discovers that the problem is that the nozzle leading to the hose on the cheap plastic pump has broken looks almost like the unit got kicked or bumped somehow.

I remember my wrestling match with the canister vacuum from the day before.


So, I'm thinking, how bad can it be... it's just a plastic nozzle part. "Well, the dude explains," It really can't be fixed, you'll have to replace the entire pump." I'm thinking that it could probably be super glued, but I wasn't sure I could do it in a way that would be water tight... Still... it's under warranty right?

"Well," the dude explains "technically the pump is an auxiliary piece, so it isn't covered under the furnace warranty."


OK. So, the dude quotes me $475 to replace the pump, which includes parts and labor... and he will graciously waive the $79.95 service fee. How nice of him.

Soooo... I'm thinking, I could probably fix this myself, but generally those prices are about 50% parts and 50% labor, so the pump probably costs around $225, plus, I've got the $50 discount card, and I'm already $80 into this little adventure. So when you add that all up it's probably just as well to let the dude go ahead and fix it.

It takes him all of about 15 minutes to replace the pump - we sit down to do the paper work and I hand him my $50 discount card. "Well," he says, "I'll have to call my supervisor on this one." Soooo, it turns out that the $50 can only be applied to the "service call" portion of the bill, which has been waived anyhow, so I can't actually use the credit.


OK, so I hand over my credit card and grumble as he leaves. Then I decided to go look online to see how much the pump itself would have cost, you know, just to torture myself further. I kinda wish I hadn't looked. $50!!!! Are you kidding me?!?! So basically they charged me $425 for 15 minutes of labor?!?!?!?


So. After all that I was feeling like a complete idiot. But after a few days "cooling off" period, I decided to drag the old vacuum out of the closet to relocate it to the basement. My plan was that since the basement is mostly hard floors I'd just keep it down there where it would be readily available for cleaning up kitty litter, and use the new vacuum upstairs.

And, since I was a little less angry about the whole situation, I decided I might as well see if I could determine what was wrong with the thing while I was at it. So I got out my screwdrivers and power meter and determined that power was indeed getting to the brush roll unit... and after a bit of fiddling I managed to get the light to come on, though the roller still wouldn't turn.

So I took it apart and discovered that it was totally jammed with long red hair. Apparently it was just stuck to the point that it was tripping the overflow switch instantaneously. So I cleaned it all out and now it works perfectly.

Oy Vey, AARGH and heavy sigh.

So, what have I learned from this little escapade?

Well, first of all... vacuum cleaners are EVIL!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding.... do you hear me vacuum, I WAS KIDDING!!!! I fixed you... you get to stay... further retribution is NOT NECESSARY!!!!

I guess the main lesson for me is that I really suck at problem solving when I'm pissed off. I just get so angry that I'm having to deal with a problem, and I just want it to go away NOW (if not sooner.) But if I had just given myself a few minutes to calm down when the thing first stopped working instead of pressing ahead with my fierce determination, I could have saved myself a whole lot of hassle, not to mention $625!!

So I suppose I'll just have to consider it all a learning experience, a very expensive learning experience!

I thought about returning the new vacuum, but decided against it. It arrived yesterday and it's utterly fabulous. It's lightweight and easy to use, and the charge on the battery only lasts 15 minutes. Most people would probably think of this as a disadvantage, but for me, it's wonderful because it means that the vacuuming chore can't possibly last longer than that!

Anyhow, the old vacuum gets to live in the basement where it is available for instant kitty litter clean up (you know, before the stuff gets tracked throughout the entire house.) And the new one will live upstairs where I can easily grab it and (hopefully) use it a tad bit more frequently.

Plus, when I feel like deep cleaning (I'm sure that will happen SOMEDAY, right?) I can drag the evil beast full power machine upstairs to do behind the sofa and all those other fun, fun chores.

I admit that the idea of owning 2 vacuum cleaners feels utterly and totally bourgeois to me, but if it allows me to stop battling with the beast, I think it will be well worth it. At least that's what I'm telling myself!

I suppose the other lesson learned is that warranties are meaningless, and this furnace company is a bunch of rip-off artists, and I'm never calling them again!!!

So how about you? have you ever created a snowball effect of problems simply because you were too angry to deal with a situation?

Please tell me I'm not the only idiot whose ever done something like this!