Friday, May 25, 2007

Who Am I?

Say "hello" to - well - we don't know, exactly. All we know is that she's kinda cute and she'll be moving into Casa Crazylegs sometime around the end of June.

Let me explain, and make my plea to you, Gentle Readers. We love animals in our house. But we love Dee - Mom to some, Bestest Friend and Critic to others - even more. Dee has pet allergies, big time: watery eyes, hives, the whole works. Dee can simply stand in the doorway of a pet owner's abode and immediately tell that furry creatures dwell inside. It's that bad.

As you might guess, this has limited our pet choices to a few fish and Bernard the Hamster (RIP 2004 - 2006). The kids have wanted a more substantial pet forever, and have basically adopted other peoples' pets in lieu of having their own. Late last year, kid number one (aka Band Geek) did some research and discovered the Siberian breed of cat that purportedly has hypoallergenic properties. While this breed has only been in North America for about 10 years, we managed to locate a breeder in Welland.

To say that I was skeptical is putting things rather mildly. There's no scientific evidence that supports the rather anecdotal evidence that this breed is allergy-friendly. Naysayer that I was, I really enjoy cats (always had one as a pet during my formative years) - so we contacted the breeder and arranged a 'test visit' to see if these cats really have the magical property that allergy sufferers seek.

Long story short, Dee spent an hour with Mama Cat on her lap and kittens crawling all over the place. No sneezing. No hives. No nuthin'. Stunned and surprised, we put our money town and picked out a kitten. And that really is her picture above.

Did I mention we were stunned?

So our little Russian ball of fur will be moving in at the end of June. There's just one problem: we cannot decide on an appropriate name. In fact, we seem to suck mightily at this game.

Sasha? Mischa? Hey You? We've even had a suggestion of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Wizzy for short, I guess.

Here's the mission: bring to bear your impressive creative skills and feed me suggestions. A cat's very identity rests in the balance.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Glenda Got Some Splainin' To Do

Mea cupla - having a cellphone that takes photos is pretty useful for capturing weird little everyday moments when you think, "Wouldja look at that.".

Such was a recent lunchtime fly-by of London's venerable downtown market-come-cattle-barn. My Lebanese walking companion, in need of pita bread, led me to a market stall named simply Glenda's. While pitas were being squeezed and examined for their pita-bility, I listlessly perused a wide assortment of dips in the refrigerator case. Typically, I wouldn't pay attention - but today was different. Glenda has either a bizarro-world marketing plan, or a truly macabre set of recipes behind the counter.

Thanks to my Swiss Army cellphone, you can check out the labels from Glenda's offerings and judge for yourself. One more mea culpa - the photos are grainy in that way that lets you just know they're clandestine. Quite honestly, I'm lucky to be alive to show them to you.

Spicy Pinto Beans with Chimp

Sandinista Dijon

Howler-Monkey Tzatziki garnished with bird heads

Asiago Dips - please god let this be for cats

Mexicali Sauce - Lions love it!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why Is This So Hard?

For pure entertainment value, nothing beats Rogers Wireless customer service.

In most ways, I loathe the idea of electronic collars. But I made an exception when Rogers offered a rock-bottom deal through my employer. I managed to get 2 cellphones for less then the street-price of 1 phone, and this lets my oh-so-active daughter keep in touch with her oh-so-neurotic Dad. So, yes, we wear electronic collars.

Just a tangent - the only other exception I'd ever make on the whole electronic collar issue is for those perimeter wires that train your dog to 'stay put' via electronic shocks. I don't own a dog, but I think this technology has fun possibilities. I'm guessing the legal, moral, and philosophical issues are probably a little thorny.

Back to the phones. So I have 2 of them, and I discovered that this model (they're identical) will work in Europe, but they don't support the cell frequencies used in England and France. I wanted the comfort of a cellphone for our upcoming vacation, so I did some research and found that the current generation of phones will work fine for us.

I went to Rogers with the simple goal of replacing my phone, and I was prepared to pay. I wasn't looking for anything else: no changes to my account, no extra services, nothing. I quickly learned that I'm naive. Where cell service is concerned, nothing is simple.

First off, the Rogers outlet was staffed by teenagers, on a Wednesday, in the middle of the day. Great, I thought. Highly educated service technicians. Turns out one fellow was the Veteran and he was supposed to be training the New Guy.

Over the course of the next 40 - count 'em - minutes, I descended into a bureauatic miasma that even I found breathtaking - and I've spent the last 25 years working in multinational corporations. I will never be able to recreate the conversation that, at various points, brought Veteran, New Guy, and myself close to blows.

The highlights:
  • I have a 'corporate plan', and store computers can't access these. They had to phone someone, somewhere who could see Who I Am and What I Have.
  • paper forms needed to be filled out like I was opening a new account, except they wrote 'hardware upgrade' across the top of the form. I fear this.
  • Veteran thought my corporate plan sounded too good to be true. I must be mistaken, apparently. This made me mad at Veteran.
  • my new phone was a free upgrade! Naturally this makes me nervous. Nothing is 'free'.
  • the new phone takes pictures and videos, and plays MP3s, and surfs the Web, and plays games! I'm kinda hoping it makes phone calls.
  • Veteran was sick of New Guy, and the feeling was mutual. This erupted into frequent verbal fisticuffs.
  • you need to write down several codes to replace a phone. They are secret, and I believe they can cure the sick, raise the dead, and hack HD-DVD videos.

40 minutes for this. My favorite part - as I left the store New Guy gave me a wink and let me know this would have been much easier, but Veteran is kind of an asshole.

I can't wait to open my next Rogers Wireless bill.

I'm anticipating a Part 2 to this story.