Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nobody wants to get out of bed on Sunday mornings

Yeah, I know it's lame to blog the cat, but I'm still working on the flood post and a couple of others. This is just sort of a place holder, so you don't think I've given up blogging and moved to Peru or become a nun or something.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I heart the Racquet of Death

I'm very fond of my house. But, this morning, for a few horrible seconds, I thought that I might have to move. Seriously. There I was, just after 5 a.m., standing half asleep in front of the coffee maker, wondering if I could psychically will it to brew faster, when I noticed that Max was staring intently at something. Something on the drapes that cover the sliding glass doors that lead out to the deck.

Famed comedian Paula Poundstone once said, "The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe murderer." On the bright side, Max wasn't looking at an axe-murderer. But I wasn't lucky enough for it to be a moth, either. No. What was crawling up the curtains, being stared at intently by the Evil Ninja Assassin Cat, were two GIANT FREAKING SPIDERS. And I mean giant. They were black and chitinous and were dripping blood and venom from their oversized scimitar-like fangs. (I don't think it's a secret how I really feel about spiders.)

As soon as my heart started beating again, I threw a handful of teabags at Max to distract him (they were the only thing within reach that wasn't breakable). He was trying to bat at the monsters, and the last thing I wanted was for them to drop to the floor and skitter off somewhere. I would God's honest truth have to sell the house and move rather than live there not knowing where the spiders went. Max stalked off, feelings hurt, and I crept over to the cupboard under the sink and pulled out the Racquet of Death.

(Insert sound of heavenly choir singing here.)

Let me digress a bit to explain that the Racquet of Death is a battery-operated bug zapper shaped like a tennis racquet. Mine was a gift from the lovely and talented Jen, on the occasion of my visit to Jenworld this past August (note to self: which I should blog, now I have the photos uploaded from the camera). It is an amazing thing, this Racquet of Death (RoD). You can zap flies, wasps, mosquitoes and even fruit flies into bug oblivion. But best of all, you can dispatch spiders into the great beyond.

So, screwing my courage to the sticking place (Shakespeare at 5 a.m. Not bad.) I pressed the power button and lightly pressed the RoD against the first spider on the curtain. There was a pop and a sizzle. I quickly fried the other one just as it was about to get away drop down on me and tear my throat out. Whew, it was close, but in the end I emerged victorious, and the arachnids were reduced to crispy little spider balls on the floor.

Alison 2, spiders 0

And don't give me that crap about how it's going to rain now, because I really don't care.

Artist's rendition of Alison battling the giant,
slavering, evil, bloodthirsty, nasty, awful,
beastly, malevolent, malicious spiders.
(Proportions pretty much to scale.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Breakfast with Robert Duvall

Is it wrong to amuse yourself with pop-culture references at your children's expense? 'Cause if it is, I don't want to be right.

Today, at the breakfast table:

Me (placing plates on the table): Here you go. Toasted bagel with cheese for Leah, and peanut butter toast for Rachel.

Rachel: Mmmmm. Peanut butter. I love peanut butter. I love it when it's all melty on the toast*. I love the smell of peanut butter in the morning.

Me: Does it smell like victory?

Rachel: What?

Me: Never mind.


*Please note that Rachel, like her mother, recognizes the superiority of materials being applied to hot, as opposed to cold, toast.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh, I have *GOT* to read this

This is an actual book, not a joke.

* Published by Quirk Books *

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

By Jane Austen
and Seth Grahame-Smith

5-1/4 x 8 in; 320 pp ;
Published in March, 2009
ISBN 9781594743344
ISBN10 1594743347


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem.

As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.

Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

Jane Austen is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and other masterpieces of English literature.

Seth Grahame-Smith once took a class in English literature. He lives in Los Angeles.

For media information please contact:
Melissa Monachello
Quirk Books, Publicity Manager
215.627.3581 x 217

I am definitely pitching this to my book club! Perhaps Colin Firth could reprise his Mr. Darcy role in the inevitable movie, or maybe they could just get Simon Pegg.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stream of random thoughts while undergoing gum surgery with the added bonus of a bone graft

OK. I'm frozen. Man, am I frozen. My gums, my cheek, even my nose feels frozen. My tongue feels like the Hindenburg. 'Oh, the humanity.' Hee. OK. They're starting. Close eyes. Yeah, probably better not to see what's going on. Think about something pleasant. Yes, pleasant. Ice cream, kittens, the Labour Day weekend in Sudbury. Don't think about what he's actually doing in there. Crack eyes a bit..... CLOSE THEM, CLOSE THEM, CLOSE THEM! Christ, that was a scalpel thingie! HE'S CUTTING MY GUMS! Calm down, calm down. Now think about the weekend again and how much fun it was to see everyone and eat all that great food and....Damn, they're stretching my mouth open a lot. Both of them have their hands in there and there are other things in there too. Fuck. I'm going to look like Jack Nicholson's Joker when they're done, I just know it. When the procedure is over I'll snarl at the periodontist, and then he'll pass me a mirror with shaking hands, and I'll look into it and see this:

and start laughing all manaically and crazy-like.... What's that noise?! The scraping noise. Aaaugh! I don't want to hear the scraping noise. Concentrate. I can hear some music. Yes, over the scraping and the steady sucking drone of the spit-sucking thingie I can hear.......Coldplay! Yes, it's Coldplay. 'Clocks' to be exact. Good song. Most of them are, aren't they? I love Chris Martin's voice. It's so pure and clear. And high. I wonder if the periodontist could hit any of those high notes if I just elbowed him in the goolies. I could do it too. Damn right I could. Except for the fact that he's still DIGGING AROUND IN MY MOUTH WITH SHARP METAL OBJECTS. Maybe elbowing him right this minute would be a bad idea...... Crack eyes a bit..... CLOSE THEM, CLOSE THEM, CLOSE THEM!!!!!!! A drill heading for my mouth!!!! A big freaking drill! I think they use smaller drills out in Fort McMurray going after crude in the tar sands. Seriously. OK, concentrate. Concentrate on the music again. What is it? Hard to hear over the scraping and digging (I feel nauseous) and digging and scraping and's.......Taylor Swift. 'Love Story'. But not the version the girls made me download. Nope, it's some kind of 'rock' remix. The banjo is gone, replaced with some bad guitar track. I like the original one with the banjo better. Hmmm. Banjo. Now there's an instrument you don't hear very often, and when you do, it's almost always in folk or country music. Yeah, you never run into a tall, handsome stranger in a wine bar on Carnaby Street, his tousled hair skimming the collar of his silk shirt, his long sensitive fingers caressing the stem of his wine glass while he gazes into your eyes and says, "I'm a musician. I'm First Banjo with the London Symphony Orchestra." Hardly ever happens. And Coldplay probably won't be bringing a banjo player on tour anytime soon either. A good thing too. Gwyneth would most likely look down her nose at a banjo player and quickly usher little Apple and Moses out of the room. Speaking of rooms, is it hot in here? CRAP! Something just splashed my face. It was cold, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't blood. Hey, the sucking noise stopped. Now the sucking thingie is making a horrible noise -- the kind of noise that might result from a small piece of excised flesh blocking the intake. DO NOT CRACK OPEN EYES TO SEE IF A SMALL PIECE OF YOUR FLESH IS BLOCKING THE INTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!! MUST. DISTRACT. SELF. KITTENS! DANIEL CRAIG! CUPCAKES! Ah, noise is gone. Scraping and drilling finished. Now he's packing in the bone graft material. He's certainly pushing a lot of stuff in there. Holy crap, I wonder if they measure that stuff in kilos. Wait, he's saying something. Answer him: "You're done now? You just have to suture? OK. Thanks." KEEP EYES SHUT. You don't want to see the suturing. Truly, you don't. Can't feel the suturing. Good. Don't think about the suturing. Is that a fly on my cheek?? Nope, it's the extra thread trailing across my cheek while he sews! AAAAAAAUGH!! KITTENS! DANIEL CRAIG! HUGH JACKMAN! CUPCAKES! CHOCOLATE MARTINIS! CHRISTMAS MORNING!

Done. It's all over.

Thank God. I'm thinking I'll be having soup for dinner. And scotch.

Lots of scotch.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dear Sympatico, bite me.

Dear Sympatico,

You have been my Internet service provider for many years now. And your parent company has been my home phone provider too. Though you weren't singled out the last time I sent letters to deserving people, please rest assured that you have totally made the list this time.

Pop quiz: Customer Service -- are you familiar with the term? I can't fault the manners and puppy-like enthusiasm of the people who 'helped' me over the last few weeks, but I am questioning their knowledge of modem technology and/or their familiarity with the names for the myriad bits and pieces needed to set up a wireless modem. Training them to 1) politely agree to send me specific items that I should have had in the first place, and then 2) promptly send me random other things by Express Post is annoying and ultimately unproductive.

Allow me to recap the events of the last few weeks with an emphasis on what your customer-service agents agreed to do for me, and what they ultimately ended up doing for me. Now some of these have nothing to do with Sympatico, except to highlight how frustrated I became when I completed all kinds of peripheral tasks and was still unable to log on to the Internet:
  • July 24, 2009 - after an exceedingly wet July that had saturated the soil around my house, an intense thunderstorm stalled over Kanata/Stittsville/Carp, dropping nearly 6 inches of rain in 3 hours. My basement flooded, and the modem (supplied by Sympatico) was ruined, as it was plugged into a power bar that ended up submerged.
  • A few days later - Called Sympatico Internet and asked them to send me a new modem, as the old one was destroyed in the flood
  • Explained that I couldn't return the malfunctioning one as it was contaminated by stormwater and in a landfill somewhere
  • Got miffed that they still were going to charge me for the modem I would not be returning
  • Realized that I could just submit the invoice to the insurance company, and told Sympatico to send me the new wireless modem and bill me for it
  • Heaved the two boxes into car trunk with Leah's help
  • Dragged/carried the two boxes into the house with Leah's help
  • Assembled Mikael computer desk with Leah's help and Rachel's supervision. This took roughly 3 hours, .5 of which were spent reclaiming the various screwdrivers and hardware from Rachel at various points in the building process
  • Set up computer on the new Mikael computer desk and plugged everything in correctly!
  • Got out the sealed box that Sympatico sent me with the new wireless modem and began to read the instructions. Got to the third or so sentence and read: Contents. You should have the following: modem, power cord, ethernet cable, phone cable, phone-jack splitter, 4 filters.
  • Looked in box. Took out modem and power cord.
  • Turned box over and shook it. Nothing further fell out.
  • Called the Sympatico customer-service number. Spoke to a very nice and apologetic woman in INDIA, who promised to send me the missing pieces (ethernet cable, phone cable, phone-jack splitter, 4 filters) asap. Idly wondered if the parts would be coming from Calcutta by donkey cart or moped taxi.
  • Poured glass of wine and played Mine Sweeper on the computer until bedtime.
  • Two days later, received a package. Was very excited! Opened it to find an ethernet cable, a telephone cable, and 4 filters. No phone-jack splitter. And since I have only one phone jack operational since the flood, it's needed for both the phone and the modem, so a splitter is kind of mandatory.
  • Called Sympatico customer-service number. Spoke to a very nice and apologetic man in India, who promised to send me the missing phone-jack splitter asap.
  • Two days later, received another package. Was very excited! Finally, I'd be back online again! Opened it to find 4 more inline filters. No phone-jack splitter.
  • Said a lot of four-letter words. Wondered if helpful man in India knew what a phone-jack splitter was.
  • Complained about the whole situation to my friend, who told me that I could buy a phone-jack splitter at Dollarama.
  • Purchased phone-jack splitter at Dollarama for $1.25.
  • Finally installed and activated wireless modem more than one month after making the call to replace the ruined modem. Used Canada Post website to calculate that Sympatico probably spent more than $45 to ship me the wrong pieces of equipment, not to mention the cost of the 8 or 10 filters that were sent to me in error.
I hear that Internet service is available through the cable company. I might have to check into that. And I understand that they do telephone service too.

Bite meHave a nice day,