Monday, January 31, 2011

Blind Drivers

Terry and I took a week off in January and went for almost a week in Florida. We went to the west coast this time, flying into Punta Gorda and then checking out places to revisit in Ft. Myers.

You may remember that Punta Gorda used to be a wonderfully historic town until hurricane Charlie whacked the heck out of it. Back in 2004, before Katrina and Rita, the hurricane center tracked a storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Charley was supposed to hit Tampa/St. Pete, so emergency crews evacuated people to Orlando. A few hours before Charley was due to make landfall, a local weatherman said, "Holy shit. It turned right."

The storm went from a category two to a four in about an hour and slammed into Punta Gorda, all but blowing and washing it away. Today, there are lots of empty lots you can get cheap. Even in what used to be the historic district. There are giant swaths of land with nothing on it but concrete slabs and abandoned swimming pools full of green slime.

What's this got to do with blind drivers? The hurricane did not blow them away. We put on our defensive driving hats and tried to anticipate which driver would turn in front of us, which would turn right from the left turn lane, which would stop on green and go on red. We were lucky, because we didn't hit anyone. It was close several times, but we returned the rental car with no dings or dents.

We even talked with one woman whose husband refused to stop driving. Legally blind, he gets behind the wheel, and she tells him where to go, where to turn, when to stop. I don't think she can see three feet in front of her either.

I don't think I could ever live in Florida. Not until I need a white cane. And only then would I feel comfortable behind the wheel. Otherwise, it's damned scary when you are the only driver who can see the obstacles.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pissed Off Cat

Get away from me! Shoo! It's my turn to send a message. And it's my turn to complain.

Last week, my humans packed me into my carrier cage and took me to what they euphemistically call "camp." I've been there plenty of times before, but I have NEVER suffered the indignities that I suffered this time. When they picked me up, I was wearing a hat.

No, I do NOT think I look cute. Do you think I like looking like an idiot--or a dog. I do NOT. I was just supposed to stay a couple of days, but my female human was worried about my weight (I'm fashionably thin) and wanted my thyroid checked. That means a blood test. I HATE blood tests. Oh yes, note the shaved leg. That's for the tests and surgery. My male human says I look like half a poodle. I hissed at him.

And she alsw wanted a spot on my back checked. I'd been worrying it for a while and licking it and it had gotten hard. "Gnarly" the mean doctor called it. They decided it should be removed. Didn't ask me, thank you very much. I could have told them it was fine, but noooo, they had to remove it.

That means, they put me to sleep. Then they shaved my brown spot. Then they cut me open. And then they cleaned my teeth before stitching me up. I'm bald! I'll be bald until spring. And I can't go outside until this nasty wound turns into a scar.

I'm getting even. I won't leave them alone. Instead of ignoring my humans, I have decided I must be where they are all the time. In laps. Under feet. I'll teach them to leave me alone. And I'll teach them to do all sorts of bad things to me.

My male human was pleased that the gnarly lump was friendly. At least, I think that's what benign means. No more medicines for me. I'm done. Nada. Zip. Nil. Don't even think about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Theater of the Absurd

You all know I'm a news and political junkie. I watched some of the opening of Congress and loved the theater of reading the Constitution. I did bother me that one person was so ill-informed that s/he didn't know two pages were stuck together, but I chalked it up to plain ignorance. Maybe reading the Constitution will help some.

Then, there is the non-debate over repeal of the health care bill. Oh, sorry, the Obama Job Killing Health Care Act. Two paragraphs that offer nothing to replace flawed law. Repeal would take away help for seniors in closing the donut hole, would drop everyone older than 21 from a parental health plan and would kick children with pre-existing conditions back into health care limbo.

That's what this is all about. Drama. No plan. Just pandering to part of the populace. And it's only theater. It'll play in the House, not in the Senate, not even in Peoria.

I got to thinking about plans and programs. No one seems to have a plan on how to fix anything. I do. I have an idea on how to fix the problem with the 99ers, those people who've been out of work for more than 99 weeks and who are drawing unemployment insurance.

I want each of us who have a job to adopt a 99er. That 99er would move into my house, where I would supply room and board. The 99er would have chores and tasks and one more year to find a job. Any job. Any where. No more unemployment insurance during the adoption period. No food stamps. No drain on the Federal budget.

Yes, it would be a drain on my budget, but no one in Congress gives a damn about my budget. After all, it doesn't have a debt limit. My budget would be my problem, not the government's problem. I would provide a clean, well lighted place to live, the same food my husband and I eat and encouragement to apply for and get a job.

Simple solution. As easy as when I proposed we solve two problems with one program: we feed the homeless to the hungry. But that wasn't well received. Somehow, I don't think "adopt a 99er" will be well received either.

At least I have a damned idea.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Buyer Beware - Mutts Customer Service

The old saw is: If you like something, you tell a friend. If you don't like something, you tell the world. This is a complaint about the Mutts comic strip customer service. I'll post this entry on Facebook and tweet about it. I hope it is linked on other FB pages and re-tweeted.

I ordered a print of a Mutts comic strip as a Christmas present to me. I followed the link on the Daily Mutts feed in my inbox. I clicked on "order this print," searched for the print I wanted, placed the order and received a strip from a week later. It was not the strip I wanted and think I ordered. I did not see the fine print at the bottom saying orders are non-refundable and non-exchangable.

Customer support insists I ordered a print from a week later than the one I wanted. I can't prove who's right. It doesn't matter.

I sent a note to customer service and received a cold-shoulder reply: "I have double checked your order and the print you ordered was from October 8, 2010. Kindly note, due to all Pick-a-Prints being custom printed, orders are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. I apologize for this inconvenience."

Note that the link goes out to the print Mutts customer service says I ordered. Easy way to prove you are right. Would have been no problem if customer service had sent a copy of my order... So, Mutts customer service could have sent me to the print shipped -- or I could have ordered the wrong print.

It is true that all prints are custom printed. They are. And there is an embossed seal on the paper. No signature by Patrick McDonnell, but I didn't expect that. And all prints are struck when ordered. It would be no problem to refund my money or let me exhange the print for the correct one.

What is the upshot of this? I will never buy anything from Patrick McDonnell again. His customer service isn't.

And what about the incorrect print? I haven't decided whether to use it as a fire starter, throw it away or toss it in the Goodwill bag. I will not keep it and I will never display anything from the comic strip again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! It's now officially 2011. Let the 2012 Presidential campaign begin.

Oh, not that. Let it not begin.

Here's how I ended 2010. Actually, I end every year the same way since I was a student in Japan when dinosaurs walked the earth. I picked up many great habits in Japan. One that I've never lost is ending a year with a clean house and no bills unpaid.

I spent much of New Year's Day cleaning and putting away Christmas, all but the tree. That comes down today during the Rose Bowl. When I was a student, I would clean my tiny (9' x 9') apartment before going to my host family's house to clean with them. When we were done, we'd go out for a nice dinner, then come home and get dressed to go to temple at midnight. The girls would put on their kimono; I would put on a dress. (Nothing looks sillier than a 5'8" white woman in a kimono. Just not a pretty sight.) We'd walk through the cold and snow (usually) to wave incense smoke over our heads. Then we'd move to the temple altar and throw coins in for good luck.

I can do everything except go to a temple. I doubt there is a Buddhist temple within 100 miles of where I live. Maybe more. Still, I can complete all but that of the ritual.

The other part of the ritual is to pay all bills before New Year's Day. That means having them in the mailbox or in the postal carrier's hands, not sitting on a desk waiting a week before they can be mailed.

There is something so satisfying about having completed these two seemingly trivial traditions. Part of is an enduring connection with my years in Japan. Part of it is knowing that I am starting a new year as fresh and "new" as possible. Part of it is an annual renewal.

And now, with my resolutions posted on my cork board on my desk, it's time to begin working on one of them. Time for a health walk. See ya' later.