Monday, November 7, 2011

Belated thoughts on Halloween

When I was a kid, Halloween the anticipation for Halloween was almost as much as the anticipation for Christmas morning.  Dressing up and going out in packs of children around the neighborhood, stalking people who had the poor idea to leave porch lights on, and basically being grumbly when we'd hit the one or two people that gave us an apple or a toothbrush was just so much fun.

Seriously - did you ever hear a pack of children grumble at the same time?  It's like walking towards an ongoing avalanche.  The sound gets louder and louder, and it fills your ears.  Only by backing away or getting in a building can you shut it off.  And we as kids would all know it was coming because you'd hear the really fake-attempt at being happy, "An APPLE!  GEE THANKS MR. JOHNSON!" said in the loudest voice possible, so that kids on the other side of the neighborhood would know that Mr. Johnson was not giving away the coveted candy, he was giving away something *gasp* healthy.

And usually as suddenly as it started, the droves of children would vanish.  It would be as if someone switched all the kids to off.  Inside houses, I assume everyone had the same thing happening - children dumping out their baskets or bags, and going through what they liked versus what they'd try to pawn off on their siblings or pets.

"Peanut butter cups, keep.  Milk duds, give to cat.  Popcorn toy.  Snickers, keep.  Chocolate, keep.  Apple, give to guinea pig.  Gum, dump in sister's bag when she's not around, and swipe tiny hersey bars."

Everyone won.  Well, except that sibling that ended up with suddenly double the gum they had when it started.   And my parents when the cat barfed up half eaten milk duds.  And the guinea pig when he couldn't eat the whole apple at once before it went brown....okay, maybe just I won.  And the cat because the popcorn ball *did* make a nice toy.

Here's the thing - we all went around in groups, after dark.  Depending on the age group, there would be a parent or two there with them.  There was never a set time to trick or treat, there was never a set place or date.  It was *always* on the 31st, no matter what day of the week it fell on.  There was no "be done by X" time.  There was no driving to "better" areas to trick or treat.  We just walked around the neighborhood and hit every house we could.

Today, I get depressed when I see people try to switch the date of Halloween to a weekend night.  Or decry Halloween as a holiday for the devil, or use it to attempt to convince us we are all sinners and will all go to hell.  Or set times for trick or treating (it must start exactly at 6 pm and end exactly at 8 pm.  Period.  No exceptions...) or get angry at the guy who sets up his house and scares kids outside in the dark during trick or treat time.

Yes, we live in a world where it's 24-hour media coverage of *everything*.  Sure we had the needles in the apples stories and the poisoned candy stories, but it was just something covered in a few minutes on the news.  I'm convinced that the amount of bad incidents hasn't actually gone up over the years, it's just with the era of everything now and at the touch of a finger, and the love of people for listening to anything *bad* that does happen, it's all we ever hear about. And that leads to us being paranoid that something will happen.

As a kid, I ran around a neighborhood that was on the edge of Baltimore City.  (and not the good edge).  The only bad thing that happened was someone swiped our bikes off our porch when I was about 10.  Someone else's house was broken into when I was much younger, but we would play in the woods, run around to each others' house, and just generally be out and about.  We didn't have the 24 hour news channels telling us every bad thing that was going on.  We had an Atari 2400, a Coleco game and 4 TV channels.  (Plus the new cable).  And I'd frequently walk home in the dark, right next to woods.

I understand the need for safety, but there are times I think that the all-news-all-time reporting on the internet and cable has killed our idea of "this could be fun".

I think when I have kids, I'll still let them run around after dark in the neighborhood, and ride their bikes in the woods.

After I give them mace and a cellphone pre-programmed with 911.  Just in case.

Friday, October 28, 2011

You know you are an adult when..

You are excited about vacuums.  I will admit, I'm quite hard on vacuums.  I have two cats.  One of which sheds hair like her life depended on it, and the other, while not shedding nearly as much, has her days.

Obviously, this leads to a lot of cat hair.  A lot.  (Which is another post and another story for a later day).  And that cat hair tends to clog up vacuums, leading to very short life spans.

Also, on my end, for some reason, the vacuums seem to die odd deaths.  The last major vacuum I had, had the piece that holds the roller on somehow burn itself off.  Even the Kenmore people had no idea what happened.

So, my last vacuum died after six months - well, it is in the process of.  Every time I try to use it, there's a smoking and burning smell.  Even for me, this is way less than normal time.  Usually I get about a year or a year and a half out of them before they become recycled somewhere.

This vacuum, a brand name bagless, has me tinkering with it in many ways in an effort to get it to work again.   I did research, called the help line and they suggested it was the belt.  So I grab a new belt and get to work.  Nope, no belt.  I clean the roller brush.  I remove all parts that can be removed, clean the stupid thing and put everything back together.  (With nothing left over!)


So I call.  This is the conversation between me and the ever-so-helpful CSR rep and then her manager:

Me: Hi, I have an odd situation with my vacuum.

CSR: Of course!  How can I help you?

Me: I bought this six months ago and currently I think the motor has burnt itself out.  Which shouldn't be happening.

CSR:  You're right, that shouldn't be.  Are you sure it's not the belt?

Me:  I just checked the belt.  The roller bar.  Every piece that I could.  It's not that.  I just need to know if it's still under warranty and where I can take it to be repaired.

CSR:  Did you check the roller bar?  Sometimes hair in the roller bar can lead to a burning smell.

Me: *trying to not let my frustration show*  Yes.

CSR:  Okay, well that shouldn't have happened.

Me:  I know.

This conversation goes in a circle for about two more minutes before she suddenly says, "Let me get my manager on to help you."  I think I had confused the poor girl by knowing what I was talking about, or else she really wanted her manager to talk to the nutball on the phone for laughter later.  One or the other.

Manager:  Hi, how can I help you?

Me: The motor on my vacuum is burnt out.  I am just trying to figure out what it would cost to get it fixed or if it's still under warranty.

Manager:  You bought it six months ago?

Me:  Yes.

Manager:  That shouldn't have happened.

Really?  Why thank you Captain Obvious.

Manager:  Are you sure the vacuum didn't get any pieces of towels or blankets lodged in the motor?  Anything that it shouldn't have sucked up?

Me:  Well, if it had started to eat a towel, I would have turned it off and pulled the towel back out, so no.  As for anything else, I don't own any small animals that could have been sucked into the vacuum, and both of my cats are still here.  Mind you, I've tried, and the hose is way too small for them to fit into and they keep running away from the sound of the vacuum.  You should look into fixing those issues.  Though I have thought of cleaning my cat with a vacuum.  Obviously, if I could fix mine, I'd try it, but the motor is burnt out.

Manager: ......

Me: Some cats like being vacuumed to get the extra hair up.  I just have never had a chance to try it yet.

Manager:  Ma'am, I'm not sure we can help you here.  Here's the number for one of our repair centers.

She hung up shortly after that.  I think I had stunned her with my brilliant wit.  Or else she wanted off the phone with the crazy lady who wanted to vacuum her cats.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I live alone.  I live alone in a nice apartment by a large lake with my two cats.  Sometimes I'll see a spider here and there, usually far away from me.  My motto with spiders:  Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone.

Unless they are daddy long-legs.  I'm sorry, but have you SEEN those things?  First off, there is never just one.  They come in packs.  Even if you only see one, there's about 50 lurking just outside of your view.  They are waiting and watching and I know they are making plans for world domination.

"Ceiling spiders watching you sleep."

When you see one, just remember to look all around you for more.  And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't forget to look up!

But back to the original story.  So last night, I'm playing my turns on Kingdom of Loathing when I see something to my left out of the corner of my eye.  I pause and look over.  It's a wolf spider.

Now, something else to know about spiders.  They come in multiple sizes, that can be described as thus:

Tiny:  This is the spider you see on your car windshield and just notice before the wipers make it paste.

Small: Enough to make you look twice, but never really that bothersome.

Medium: Okay.  Look.  You can stay and eat flies, but don't come out of that corner.

Large: If I ignore it, maybe it will go away.  Pleasepleasepleaseplease don't come near me.

Humongous (Or as I call it - Jesus Christ, it's going to eat the children!):   Let me just have this tiny corner of YOUR room and please don't kill me while I move all my furniture into a 1x1x1 area.  Okay?  Okay.

The wolf spider was about medium size.  I was okay with it, it was ignoring me and moving in the other direction.  Awesome.  I go back to running turns while trying to keep my eye on it, just in case it decides it would rather try tasty human flesh versus fly tar tar again.  

While this happens, a flash of gray zips by to the other side of the room.  From where ever my gray cat, Corrigan, had wedged herself, she had spotted something that caught her attention.  

My first mistake was looking.  With a yelp that probably woke dogs in a 2 mile radius of my apartment, I was out of my chair and backing up into the coffee table.  With what I could only assume was the mac-daddy of all wolf spiders, a humongous wolf spider was on the OTHER side of the living room from the smaller one, sitting by the cat tree.  (Now we know what the smaller one was running away from!)

Me:  OH crap.  OH crap oh crap oh crap.

It was about this time that I started looking for something to smash it with, because while I do have a live and let live policy, but I swear this guy was looking for trouble.  I was half expecting to spot gang markings and a switchblade somewhere on this guy.

Corrigan:  Mew?  (Smacks it with her paw.)

Here's where it got to the point that I just wanted to run to the other room.  My cat, brave cat that she is, smacks it with a paw.  She then jumps about a foot straight up in the air and runs behind her cat tree.
All I can think at this point is that it reached up with it's legs and smacked her back.  So cowering behind the cat tree, she eyes this spider as it makes it's way with a rambling walk over towards the living room light. 

"Bitch.  I will cut you."

She follows it, meowing all the time, and giving me looks that say, "Mom, why aren't you killing it?  Why are you letting this thing live??"

She doesn't even attempt to touch it again.  

Finally, my calico, Aideen, known as the "will eat anything" cat, wakes up from her perch atop the couch.  How she managed to sleep through my repeated mantra of "Ohcrapohcrapohcrap" I don't know, but she did.  She sees Corrigan stalking something and immediately wants it.  Because that's how she is.

She gets her nose down there, and she drags a paw over to the spider.  She touches it, and gets her mouth down to try and shovel the whole thing in there.  For a moment, I was hoping it was over.   Oh, no, instead, she backs up quickly and then looks up at me, confused.  And squeaks at me.

So now both cats are avoiding this thing like the plague.  When it finally ran under the television stand, I breathed a sigh of relief and went to sit back down.

But I did block all the entrances and exits from the stand with books**.  Get out of THAT one.

**I am half afraid that when I get home today, the books will have been pushed back from under the TV stand.  If that happens, I'm going to pack my cats and move until an exterminator not only gets there, but can show me the dangling dead body of that spider.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Introductions are in order.

First off, I'm a gamer geek, though I don't play MMOs.  I rent my own apartment, I have a full-time job, and I pay my bills on time.  I also shower daily, sometimes twice a day, depending on if I hit the gym or not.

Just so we can get the idea of a "basement-dweller who doesn't have a job or shower" cliche out of the way.

Now that being said, let's get to the title of this blog - I'm also someone who has way too much time on my hands, really wants to be a writer, and is addicted to caffeine.  We'll get to that caffeine part later on in other posts, I'm sure.

Two cats own me.  These two are frequently some of the reasons that I either want to spend a lot of time laughing or crying, depending on the day and their antics.

Currently I work in a department that has a lot of fun things about it, mostly the things people think they can get away with in the corporate credit card world.  Honestly, you'd think some people would have common sense, but apparently not.

The things that have been caught that people thought they could submit for reimbursement (that have come up in the past two days):

Boob Job - This may only work if you are the new PowerGirl or Starfire in DC comics.  Otherwise, no.

Engagement Ring for your Fiance - Okay.  Do I need to actually spell this one out?  First, when she finds out (and she will) that you submitted the ring for reimbursement from your *job*, she will kick you to the curb.  If she hasn't already when you are fired for fraud.

Riding Lessons - I can see this, depending on the company, but in my company, it doesn't pass.  Even if the lessons were for how to ride your boss correctly.

My favorite because of the excuse, even though it's the simplest of them all:

Christmas/holiday/birthday cards and gifts for staff - The excuse on this one?  Well, X from the affiliate told me it's allowed!  

This is after she was told three times that no, it's not allowed.  

I'm not sure what happened to common sense in the world.  Or maybe just honesty.  Either one, really.

Some blogs may come with pictures in the future.

For now, have a list of the blogs I read on a regular basis: - What can I say?  Jenny Lawson is amazing, and the conversations she has with her husband sound like some of the conversations I have with friends.  And she owns a 5 foot tall metal chicken named Beyonce.  Nuff said. - My friend, who is a lot funnier than I can ever hope to be.  And he runs a good foam weapons game. - Wil Wheaton.  Need I really, really, say anything else? - Found him through TheBloggess.  Posts range from funny to poignant.  And the man has a Squish, Smear, Repeat policy. - My friend who runs a farm on her own.  I've always been impressed with her ability to just *do* whatever she puts her mind to doing.  The fact that she's running a farm complete with chickens, turkeys, a cow named Stewie, a garden, barn cats, and a dog + working a full time job just leaves me in awe.  

I'm sure there's more I'll toss in as time goes on.  For now, that's about it from this end.