Monday, April 29, 2013

Meanwhile, on Lifestyle of the Poor and Stupid…

Some time ago, Your Faithful Correspondent went to her local supermarket/pharmacy in search of nasal decongestant that would get the job done.

You know, the kind that (in California) you have to produce a driver’s license and fill out home address information and all kind of stuff so they can track exactly how many boxes of the stuff you’ve bought because <sarcasm> $DEITY knows this totally prevents people from cooking up batches of meth in their kitchens or the trunks of their cars or whatever-all else people do such things. </sarcasm>

Like this stuff.


NOW. When I got to the supermarket/pharmacy, they had changed their rules such that instead of going to the pharmacy to get these things, you took the card from the shelf to the front register, and then the cashier would go get the product for you from a locked cupboard located somewhere near Tibet or possibly Antarctica not so very close to her register.

This makes perfect sense. Because why have the pharmacy technicians in charge of such things? After all, it’s not like they would have any more insight into such things as what-all are the key differences between Brand A and Brand B, or what the box actually looks like, or whether or not it will take six months and several governmental-sized bribes to get a new shipment of the stuff in if what you’re looking for should happen to be out of stock.

And cashiers love to be sent scurrying all over the store trying to get these answers. Particularly if they have long lines of irate customers who are all dealing with the spring-time allergy + cold season. Because it’s so restful for them and all.

So when I got to the front of the line and presented my pull-card for the twenty count of Advil Congestion Relief + Meth Ingredients, the cashier rolled her eyes pointedly, muttered something that sounded vaguely like, “If I could have just five minutes in the ring with the yahoo who thought this was a good idea…!” and schlepped off to Burma in search of the holy grail.

Time passed.

And then she came back with the ten count and announced that there were no twenty count packages available.

Now. I wanted the twenty count for two reasons: One, hi, family of SIX, three adult-sized members suffering Severe Sniffles.

We will go through a box of ten, even at one-pill-per-dose, in nothing flat.

And two, the twenty-count was on sale.

So I asked if, seeing as how they were out of the size I needed and all, we could do That Thing that the pharmacy has done for me I dunno how many times in the past, and I could get two boxes of the ten-count for the sale-price of the twenty.

Which apparently hit her ears like this: “Prove that a countable set of parabolas α(y−β) 2 +γ=x , for α,β,γ∈R , doesn't cover the entire xy plane.”

FIRST, she went back to the Bermuda Triangle to make absolutely sure they did not have the twenty-count boxes. Since I was going to be difficult about it and all.

THEN, having ascertained that neither Jimmy Hoffa nor a twenty-count box were lurking in the bottom of the Dead Sea, she pulled on her parka, raised some huskies from puppies, hitched them to the sled she carved from hickory she cultivated herself from seeds, and sledded to the pharmacy over in the North Pole; there, she consulted Santa and eight of the twelve disciples so she could come back to tell me that sure, yes, of course they could.

THEN she switched to her mountaineering attire and scaled back up Everest to get me the second box of ten-count.

AND THEN…well, we had a problem. And it was called the register wouldn’t let her do it.

Which is not actually true, as was pointed out to her by three separate people – the problem wasn’t the register, it was the fact that she couldn’t scan the 10-count boxes and then attempt to override the price.

“Look, you hafta type in the number, from here,” the manager-on-duty told her brusquely upon being summoned for the second time over All This, jabbing a finger at the UPC numbers at the bottom of the pull-card for the twenty-count box.

“Prove that a countable set of parabolas…”

This went on for a ridiculous length of time. One of the pharmacy techs told me a few days later that his fingers were itching to just grab the boxes from her, take me over to the pharmacy register, and do it his damn self…but this is now Against Policy™, so all they can do is stand helplessly by while cashiers rummage through the non-prescription-but-controlled-sorta-at-least-in-California bucket looking for things they can’t find, and/or grabbing the wrong thing at least four times, etc.

After several attempts to scan and adjust the price, she eventually just shot me A Look sideways, scanned both boxes, did something random with the discount button, and in desperately matter-of-fact tones read off a total that was a tiny bit too much to be the twenty count sale price, but considerably less than the cost of two ten-count boxes.

I wrestled with myself for a moment about it, because, principle of the thing. But then I decided that on the whole, I really didn’t want to grow old and die standing there at the register arguing with her over about eighty cents worth of price difference.

Plus the people behind me were getting restless.

And I couldn’t blame them. I’ve been behind That Person too, you know, the one who wants to fight to the death over whether or not a $0.10 coupon which expired in 2006 is ‘still good’ or can be used on a product that isn’t the one specified (“but, it’s cereal! it totally should count!” “ma’am, this coupon expired in June 2009, and also is for Post cereals only. You’ve got our biggest bag of Captain McCheapy’s Sugar Coated Nuke’ems, which are not made by Post. Even if it wasn’t expired, you cannot use a manufacturer’s coupon from Post on a Captain McCheapy product.” “BUT. IT. IS. FOR. CEREAL. AND. THIS. IS. CEREAL!!!”)

So I shut up and paid the extra $0.80 and grumbled all the way home, threw them into the medicine cupboard, and called it a day. And forgot all about it pretty fast because that’s kind of how I tend to be; I’ll get irrationally pissed off about something really minor like this, but it blows over fast and by the next day I’m usually confused when you ask me if I’ve gotten over, you know, that thing I was ranting and raving about the day before. Huh? WHAT decongestant? I don’t remember being mad about decongestant, that sounds like a really stupid thing to get mad about…

But then today, I was digging around in there and noticed that, as is typical around here, both boxes had been opened and a few of the tablets used from both. Argh. And I decided that I’d go ahead and migrate all the tablets into just one box because it would be less clutter.

Which was when I noticed that the second box…was not like the first.


(For the record, I really can’t blame the cashier for this one…these boxes are absolutely identical in terms of size, shape, color, everything except that “10-v-20” on the box, WHICH is not as obvious when you’re looking at the two boxes in your hand as it is when someone has scanned them in and helpfully circled AND drawn a large red arrow on the box using their mad Microsoft Paint skilz.)

I honestly can’t decide whether I find this hysterically funny, or insanely irritating.

Because now, well…this kind of means that I got that ten-count box for only $0.80. Which is about five bucks less than it should have cost.

Damn, NOW I feel guilty…

BUT, I also know, I KNOW FOR A FACT!, that if I were to take these two boxes back to the supermarket/pharmacy, and march up to the Customer Service desk and say, “Hi, yeah, so! Funny story, {tells whole story, in three-part harmony and with several reprises of the chorus}, soooooo, I figure I must owe you about five bucks? Ish? But I don’t have the receipt anymore and can’t remember exactly what all the prices were, soooooooooooooo…yeah. There it is, then! Think we have some way to figure all this out?”…

…they might just call security on me, you know? And that’s a road I don’t want to go down again, believe you me.

So I guess I’ll just have to live with the guilt and stay away from any anime series with “bad people get their comeuppance” themes for a while.

Because otherwise, I might just have nightmares about that five bucks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Randomly Thursday

I am so tired right now it defies description. SEE, for reasons too bizarre and random for me to really grasp, I got to enjoy one of my not-as-rare-as-I’d-like-them-to-be bouts of inability to sleep. I finally got into bed at about 1:30 in the morning. And then it took forever to actually get to sleep.

And then my alarm went off at 3:30. You know, like it always does on my in-the-office days.

I punched that snooze button like it had stiffed me with its bar bill the night before. Which was really unfair of me, seeing as how it was actually the buzzer that was offending me.

I fully intend to go to bed as shortly as possible.

And I probably won’t, for reasons that will make no sense whatsoever (cough-WARCRAFT-cough).

I think the thing that irritates me the most about these weird little attacks of inability-to-sleep is that they are not at all the same as “not being tired” or “not wanting to go to bed” or even “being so busy having fun that one simply can’t go to bed, wheeeee.”

It was more like, my eyelids are constantly sinking into a verrrrrrry prolonged BLINK and I’m so tired I think I’m gonna die BUT YET I’m also agitated and wired and also DAMMIT HOT FLASHES, NOT RIGHT NOW I HATE YOU I HATE YOU SO MUCH ARE MY EARS LITERALLY IN-FLAMES-ON-FIRE-RIGHT-NOW AND @^*&@ MY BACK HURTS AND ^@&^@*& MY HIP HURTS AND @*^&@*^&@ YOU, WRISTS, YOU’RE JUST BEING WHINY TO BE DOING SOMETHING AND WE BOTH KNOW IT!!!!!

Kids, take it from me: Being a “grownup” is not as cool as it looks on paper. Especially when you’re a female grownup of the ‘more than halfway through your 40s” group, because perimenopause becomes “perfectly normal” for you even though you totally do not feel (or act) “old enough” for it.

Also, my ears were burning all day long. JUST my ears. And sure enough, whenever I went into the bathroom, they were bright stinkin’ red, like I was terminally embarrassed or something. Screw you, hormones, you’re on your way OUT and GOOD RIDDANCE TO YOU.

So let’s just say I didn’t exactly have high expectations in re: productivity today.

But somehow, by the end of the day, I’d actually gotten quite a lot done. Figured out a couple issues that have been sitting “out there” forever. Put some finishing touches on one thing, roughed in the outline of the next piece of it. Smoothed a few ruffled feathers. Stuck my foot in my mouth only once, but was able to extract it without, you know, surgery.

Yessir. Somehow, I think I ended up being a Really Useful Engine today. Miracles: Believe in them!  

SPEAKING OF ROUGHING THINGS IN…you know how teenagers will go hiding in their room for hours on end and you kind of wonder what they’re up to in there? Like, are they secretly vampires, afraid of the deadly Day Star? Or perhaps they’re hibernating, like bears, and intend to only emerge when they’re safely past high school? (Would not blame them for that…) Or maybe they’re racking up several hundred terabytes worth of text messages? Or trying to figure out how to hack past the parental controls on the Internet?

Well. Here’s the kind of thing Eldest gets up to, pretty much whenever she’s not being forced to do something else.


I will never stop being amazed by things like this. Especially since personally, when it comes to drawing, I have all the artistic talent of a rock. Whereas Eldest will sit down at the kitchen table with a set of colored pencils and produce…


(She says she doesn’t like this one. It’s just not quite THERE somehow, you know, I mean, eh, she says. I think it’s awesome. The more I look at it, the more awesome it gets. Even if it is a riff on My Little Pony. Which is not really my thing. Whatever. I like it. The end.) (Really. The end. Because, Warcraft. My guild has gone without my presence for almost forty-eight hours now. Gah only knows what-all may have gone on while I wasn’t on to make wisecracks about It All and otherwise not actually HELP much…)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I daren’t close my eyes, for fear of little men…in control centers…with automated paging systems…

LET THE GLADSOME TIDINGS GO FORTH: Tonight is my last night being Primary On-Call Tech Group Person. As of tomorrow morning? I am off the hook.

For a while, anyway.

MAN. It has been…interesting. Mostly because it has been years and years and years since I last had to be the pager-toting “emergency responder,” you know?

My phone has been jingling and jangling since Friday night. Almost every single night, something has gone wrong enough to warrant me getting a page, followed rapid-fire by emails saying “WHAT’S THE STATUS?!” followed by pages and emails saying “PLS CALL 800-SPLAIN-SELF NOW.”

Or, more accurately, something-anything has gone wrong – and apparently, we have a bit of a hair-trigger about it.

Where “we” here means “the centralized control center people who have an automated system which generates problem tickets, pages and emails leading to calls wherein the actual humans in the control center can’t figure out why they paged and/or emailed you about it either.”

But the thing that is killing me on it is, I get started too danged early in the morning to be dealing with “issues” at 11:30 at night, you know? Like last night, when my phone was still doing the jitterbug at midnight, and I’d been up since 3:30 in the morning because it was a “commute in” day, and they paged me three times in rapid succession and I was all, “DUDE. IT’S A JOB THAT IS SET TO ‘DO NOT ALERT ON FAIL.’ I REALLY DON’T GIVE A FLYING @*^&@ ABOUT IT, AND NEITHER DOES ANYBODY ELSE. WHAT DO I NEED TO SAY TO YOU TO MAKE YOU STOP. PAGING. ME. ABOUT. IT?!

Of course, that was only inside my head. With my voice, I was saying things like blah blah terminate and yadda yadda non-critical and no impact and other soothing-like things.

…all the while feeling my blood pressure rise as the insides of my eyelids scraped repeatedly on the sandpaper that my eyeballs had become at some point between the 2-1/2 hour commute back home and that last ‘PLS CALL NOW’ page…

And then I was just sitting there, mindlessly fishing in Warcraft while I kept half an eye on the stupid job to make sure it did either succeed or terminate within the specified timeframe, until 12:30.

But of course, even though it was a WFH day for me today, I was still awake at 5:30. Because:

  1. The husband wants the alarm set for 5:30 even though he has absolutely no intention of actually getting UP until 6:30 at the earliest
  2. I want to be working by 6:30
  3. Well, ‘want’ is a relative term – more ‘I like to keep my working hours as close to steady as I can’
  4. My back and hip were killing me. Because of course they were. Because they love to act out whenever it would be least convenient. It’s a THING with them.

And then I spent all day today wondering why I was so damned tired now with bonus crankiness! I don’t think I’ve had to work so hard to contain my considerable Powers of Sarcasm™ in a good long while.

I’m slightly afraid to go to bed right now. I desperately want to, mind you, because I’ve shot right past being ‘tired’ and am solidly in the ‘stupid tired’ range…but still…I’m slightly afraid to try for it.

Because you know what happens the minute I get to sleep, right?

OH yeah. {beep! beep! beep! beep!} (woot! woot! woot!)

Status report, Number One!”

Captain. It would appear that our ship is under attack by the Alien Snot Monkeys of Planet Zerboxinix.”

“Great Scott! That would be an awesome name for a band, Number One!”

“Yes, yes it would, Captain; unfortunately, they are not a band, they are data-eating creatures which thrive by devouring log files, and they are causing massive job failures throughout our systems. We estimate we will suffer total system collapse in approximately eight minutes, forty-three seconds.”

“Well, somebody had better page the on-call, then.”

“Very good, Captain.”

And then I will drag myself out of bed, log in, stare at it for a minute and say, “Um, guys…see that ‘0’ right there? Under ‘Alert On Fail’? That would mean no, do NOT alert on fail. WHY-FOR YOU CALLING ME WITH THE PAGING AND FREAKING OUT?!”


To sum up? I’m so glad my on-call rotation is (almost) over now.

Pass the mute button and the sleep-masks, it’s a party around HERE tomorrow night…!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The tyranny of the inbox

On Easter Sunday, while attempting the acrobatic feat that is draining potatoes so they could be mashed, I kicked my own foot.






Now friends…this is the sort of feat I swear nobody else could pull off. I have no idea how I did it. I have no idea exactly what I did, even. But the net result is, my right foot kicked my left foot on the big toe, and tore that toenail halfway back and all the way across.

Yeah. It felt awesome. And now, it’s all hot and tender and a tiny bit swollen (great, just great…I’m grimly determined to believe that this is just ‘healing at work,’ but must admit I am keeping an anxious eye on it because staph infections, they love me)  (and that, America, is why there was a sudden run on Neosporin) – which is why I decided that instead of going to do something more constructive that involved standing, I would simply stay right here at my desk and do something computer-y.

I know! I said to myself, cheerfully. That email of mine is getting a bit out of hand, let’s deal with THAT…

And then, I opened my email client.

And then, I made this weird noise that sounded a bit like a parrot trying to swallow a box of rubberbands bigger than its whole body, because I have over 900 unread email messages sitting in my inbox right now. If I were to be precise (which would take up more time which would mean I didn’t have to face up to dealing with them just yet, so, do let’s), I have nine hundred and sixty-seven unread emails waiting breathlessly for me to acknowledge them.

I have no idea how many there all altogether, because I am far too chicken to actually look. The grim, bright-blue 967’ staring at me is quite enough, thank you, I don’t feel the need to explore how many additional items – from Gah Alone Knows how long ago – I actually did read (or at least glance at) (or accidentally open and immediately close), categorize as ‘something I should probably do something about, like, maybe respond to’ and leave there so I would do so and then, erm, well.

I…got distracted…?

Knowing as I do that 99% of these are junk mail and adverts, I also know that I should theoretically be able to rip through the whole inbox and pare it down to less than two dozen in less than half an hour.

You’d think anyway.

But first of all, sometimes, well, I’ll be ripping along deleting stuff and then I’ll suddenly go, “Wait, what? 3 herbs that will improve your ability to focus? You have my attention, Farmer’s Almanac…

{…two hours of Internet surfing go by…}

And secondly, well, I’ll be honest: It’s not exactly high on on my List of Fun Stuff I’d Like To Do. I’d say it’s somewhere right above reorganizing the cable-barf in my desk drawer (which is also rather epic, and consists of charges for electronics we may or may not even have any more, earbuds with jacks that do not plug into any device that I know of, and the like), and below things like nailing down once and for all which of the too-many pens in my drawer still write, and throwing away, with BOLD and DECISIVE movements, the ones that do not write any longer.

I know. My goals are lofty. And also epic. Additionally, I would someday like to have all my socks matched up in pairs again. (It would likely be faster to simply start throwing away all the singles, but we all know how likely that is emotionally. Ya. Not gonna happen.) (Plus, you know the missing sock would immediately turn up…if I could just somehow manage to throw them away without actually throwing them away-away, I’d have so many pairs of socks that I’d need to buy a second house just to store them.)

PLUS, there is always the danger that I will become irrationally annoyed about something like the overuse of the word ‘hurry’ in these emails.


And then I might do something silly like perform a search on my inbox to prove my point, so that I can put statistics around it and write some big long rambling blog post in which I put forth said statistics with something like, “Did you know that if I have 974 emails in my inbox, probably about 94 of them will contain the word ‘hurry’ in the subject?! And that’s almost 10%? Which pretty much proves that the people who write advertisement-emails have very limited vocabularies and probably all went to the same marketing school, where they were told to action learnings by using the go-words with verve or something equally nerve-jangling.”

(Aside: 974?! Really!?! Crap. They’re worse than rabbits!)

For a good long while, true story, I had a rule on my email client that automatically deleted any email with the word ‘hurry’ in the subject. Because it does rather irk me, you know? “Hurry! Our sale is far more important than whatever else you planned to do today, ONLY A FEW HOURS LEFT!!!!, so, put that coffee cup down right now and HURRY!!! BUY SOMETHING! HURRY! NOW! BUY SOMETHING!”

…alternatively, heck with you, imma-gonna DELETE your advertisement AUTOMATICALLY, so THERE…!

{sips coffee defiantly}

Buuuuuuuut, then a rather (cough-cough) high maintenance person in my little circle started sending me increasingly urgent emails about something (you see where this is going, right?); and the subject was something like “hurry up and answer dammit!”

Which later became “Re: hurry up and answer dammit” or “FW: hurry up and answer dammit” and all of which went straight to the trash folder because that was the rule.


So, rules are not my friend.

Likewise, whenever I try to elevate my spam filter in a desperate attempt to prevent myself from being crushed beneath the crazy number of stores eagerly telling me that they have the perfect Christmas present for my tree-frog loving Schnauzer (wait, what?), well, it promptly starts screening out things like dinner invitations or birth announcements or things that say stuff like “I am taking your non-response to be agreement. See you on the fourteenth. p.s., you could also try checking your voicemail once in a damn while, honestly, what are you, nine?!”

But it still lets through all the “HURRY!” and “Adorable and very expensive dresses you’ll never in a million years actually wear because have they MET you?!” stuff.

All of which really leads me to this: Holy mackerel, this is SO. STUPID!

Push come to shove, I could probably right click on my inbox, select ‘delete all,’ click ‘yes,’ and you know what would happen out there in the Big Bad World?

Exactly. Nothing.

Because since 99% of them are junk, and the other 1% were sent to me by people who were probably muttering something like “I don’t even know why I bother, she’s never gonna {get / see / read / respond to} this…” but inexplicably love me anyway…well.

Really, I don’t know why I should even bother with it any further.

Which is why instead of dealing with the inbox, I’m going to head on into World of Warcraft now, see if I can get into raid finder and score me some good gear.

Or level one of my alts.

Or something, you know, meaningful.

Thanks for helping me work through the issue, gang.

For the Horde!!!!

Monday, April 01, 2013

The rant is ON

Today’s Adventures In Going Amongst The People brought a braying jackass well-intentioned woman basically opined that Captain Adventure was horribly afflicted with a terrible disease, and needed – needed – to be “cured.”

You know, so he could be a “normal” person. (<= hint: this sentence contains a keyword which comes with a money-back guarantee to set me off in a big way) (additional hint: it has quotes around it)

And she was ob-frickin-noxious about it. Reared up on her hind legs hee-hawing all sorts of nonsense to a train full of captives…one of those types who read two articles on some website and is now a self-proclaimed Subject Matter Expert™, who knows eeeeeeeeverything about how {evil} is {evil conspiracy plot} aided of course by {obligatory governmental connection} to {evil act}.

I’m afraid I was so pissed off by the time she wound down her little speech on the train that I just about lost all powers of speech, and thus could only mutter something indistinct that probably sounded like “…grrraumph hem-haw fizzle vetch…” at her as she was practically trying to ram her stupid pamphlet down the front of my shirt.

I really didn’t want to “discuss” it right then. Mostly because “discuss” would have undoubtedly ended up being “screaming about” – and there likely would have been vulgarities uttered.

But in some ways, I find myself sorry I didn’t haul off and hit her upside the head with a few choice adverbs. It’s been itching and itching, ever since.

MIND YOU, I’m not about to burst into some musical number about how perfectly awesome it is to have an autistic kid. It’s not perfectly awesome. There are things about it that straight-up suck. There are times when I look at him as he’s stomping around being autistic and think, …dude, I’m just…kind of TIRED of this right now…it’s also loaded with uncertainty, fear, doubts, inconvenience, embarrassment and other negative sorts of things.

But at the same time, I really don’t think he needs to be “fixed.” He’s not broken. Plus, autism is deep in his wiring, so to speak; the way he views the world, the way he thinks, the way he translates various sensory inputs, is just different from most people.

To “cure” him would be to…change him.

To make him not my Captain anymore.

My mind rejects that concept rather violently. The idea of taking away something that is so central to who he is appalls me. It feels a lot like she was walking up and saying, “Oh, wow, you got one of those models? They’re defective, ya know? You should throw that one away and get one of the newer ones.”



And much as I know that’s not what she meant (exactly) and that I’m probably being overly sensitive about the whole thing and should just let it go already…well.

You know what? I don’t want to “make him normal.” I just want to figure out how I can help him figure out how to get the things he will want to have, or do, or be. Because you know what? He has special challenges, sure, but he also has special strengths.

Those too are part of this thing she calls a “horrible disease.” They’re part of what she wants to “cure” in the name of making him “normal.”

Shall we throw those away, just because they’re stronger than “normal” child strengths? Or consider that collateral damage acceptable because it would be more convenient, or less embarrassing, to me not to have to put my hands over his when the flapping is getting out of hand in public? 


It’s “Autism Awareness Month,” of course. There are people doing really good work under the same banner; but inevitably, you’re going to get the people who just…don’t necessarily think these things all the way through, who are innocently trying to “help” when they say “Oh, you should murder that child, then resurrect him as a different, more desirable one!” (Oops. Apparently, I have still not quite gotten the ire out of my system…)

And I have to acknowledge that it is entirely possible that I’m the weird one for feeling that way. I have to admit, there’s a certain likelihood that a “normal” mother would want to change her “Not-Normal” child.

“Normal” is, after all…safest. A “normal” child has a higher probability of having a “good” life, a steady, improving-on-what-my-parents-had sort of one-foot-before-the-other life.

A “normal” child won’t be labeled, won’t have to explain themselves, won’t have to carry notes from their doctors or wear wristbands or any of that.

So, maybe I’m the one who needs to reexamine their reality a bit.

But still.

I wouldn’t change a hair on his head. Or a thought inside it.

He doesn’t need to be cured of being himself. No. There is nothing, nothing wrong with who he is.

He only needs to be helped, so that he, not his autism, can decide what his life will be like.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

And how I always will see it.