Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Career in Money Laundering

The other day, my daughter said she was finally ready to buy a new camera. The only problem is that she'd need to tap into her "sticky money" stash.

What, you may ask, is "sticky money?" Well...

Shortly before Christmas, my brother was visiting for dinner and I made the mistake of mentioning to Heather and Beth that they would have money after Christmas because Uncle Brian and Grandpa always give them each a hundred dollar bill.

I learned a lesson that day. Don't ever presume to tell Uncle Brian what he is giving to the girls. Because he won't. He promised then and there that under absolutely no terms would he give them a hundred dollar bill.

Flash forward to Christmas morning.

After opening everything else, Uncle Brian hands each girl a box. Hmmm. The box is way too big for a hundred dollar bill. I guess he told the truth.

After unwrapping the gift wrap, there was a layer of newsprint totally covered with clear packing tape.

Ten minutes later, they finally get to the next layer...another layer of newsprint covered with packing tape.

And another layer of newsprint and tape.

And yet another layer of newsprint and tape. Sheesh.

Finally, we see my brother's devious mind in action. The next layer is a bunch of single dollar bills adhesive sprayed to the outside of the box.

...And to the INSIDE of the box, too. The girls had to be extremely careful removing those dollars so they wouldn't rip.

The 99 dollar bills that were glued to the box was just wrapping, of course. Inside the box, it is stuffed to the brim with balled up newspaper, but we could hear something clattering at the bottom, so the girls carefully went through every piece of paper until they finally found their gift at the bottom...four quarters. See, he didn't give them a hundred dollar bill, he simply gave them a dollar. And it only took 30 minutes to open the gift.

Do you realize how sticky those dollars were? Sticky enough that we tried (unsuccessfully, I might add) to wash them.

Store clerks really don't like sticky money, we've discovered.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fixin' To Get My Fix

Virtually everyone I know has a drug problem.

Some folks can’t get through an evening with their kids without a glass or three of Chardonnay.

Others need some Doggy Downers to help them sleep at night (and invariably require Puppy Uppers to wake ‘em up in the morning).

Some have to sneak out to the patio to set fire to a cancer stick because the receptors in their brains have told them they can’t survive without a bit of nicotine.

So what is the most common drug people take in America? Oh, I don’t have any proof, but I have a feeling caffeine would be pretty damn near the top of the list.

Am I addicted to caffeine? Nope. I can yawn my way through a day and suffer with barely a symptom. But why go caffeine-less when my foamy cup of Senseo tastes so good?

When I'm not in the mood for a cup of Joe, I've found another novel way to get a quick jolt of Up-And-At-‘Em. May I introduce you to “Caffeinated Jell-O Shots.”

The premise is simple:

Take 2 boxes of Jell-O, a cup of boiling water, and 400 mg of crushed NoDoze pills and refrigerate to make a yummy treat.

Now if I only had some chocolate-covered espresso beans, I’d be all set.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So, is that a GAS fireplace?

After an enjoyable day spent galavanting around town doing a bit of shopping, my mom and I decided to stop and have lunch at a decidedly artery-clogging but oh-so-delightful greasy food diner.

Later, we came home and chose to catch up on a few DVDs while basking in the glow of a fire.

As Mom was bent over adding another log to the fire, the culmination of a basket of onion rings, cole slaw, and a big old greasy burger finally caught up with her. Those nasty little gas bubbles gurgling in her tummy decided to make a hasty, not to mention rather loud, escape from the nearest exit possible.

I don't know which was louder...the sound of her flatulence or the sound of her cackling with laughter.

You know how people used to light a match to try to offset the odiferous remnants of their noxious rectal gaseous outbursts? Hell, we didn't need a match, we needed the whole fire!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hospitals Make Me Sick

In a weird set of coincidences, two of my aunts ended up at the hospital today, each undergoing surgery. Both of the surgeries were pre-planned. The hospital insisted that they each have rides to and from the hospital and also have someone from the family waiting inside of the hospital the entire time.


The problem was that they won't tell you the time of the surgery until the evening prior to the procedure. That sure makes it tough on the family members to plan ahead. But ya know what? Good old Union Hospital doesn't care. They're the only hospital around and they know you're stuck and they'll get your Medicare dollars no matter how sucky their service is.


So, yesterday they call. Aunt Jeannette's surgery is scheduled for 1:30. My mom agrees to take her. Aunt
Margaret's surgery is set for 5:00. She doesn't need a ride since she's an inpatient, but she still needs family waiting at the hospital. No problem. Her son is going to babysit his grandkids in the afternoon, but he'll be done with that and meet her by 4:30 before she gets wheeled away for the deep sleep.

At 10:30, Mom gets a phone call from Aunt Jeannette. The hospital just called and they've moved her procedure up to 11:00, can she hurry? Sheesh. If WE tried to change an appointment time, they'd cancel the surgery and charge us $20 for an "inconvenience charge." But again, they're the only Chop Shop in town and they can do wha
t they want.

Mom opts to spray a quick dash of perfume in lieu of her planned shower, but fortunately for all who meet her, she still takes the time to brush her pearly whites.

After returning from the hospital, we discover that instead of doing Aunt Margaret's surgery at 5:00 like planned, they wheeled her out of the room at 1:30 while she is protesting saying her son isn't there yet (now we know why patients need anti-anxiety meds before surgery - just so they can deal with the hospital's rigamarole!). Since nobody else was available, Aunt Jeannette (who had already been the victim of Union Hospital's questionable appointment rescheduling) ended up being the "designated family member" for Aunt Margaret's surgery until her son could make it. Hmmmph. What a way to recover, eh?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Internet Generation

Ten years ago, when schools started to actually suggest that kids would need the Internet for school work, parents and grandparents balked at the idea. "They can't make you have a computer!"

It turns out that they can. Sure, they can't insist that you have it in your house, but there are enough places with free Internet access (think library) that they indeed can insist the Web be a presence in your child's life.

Me, being the techno-geek that I am, never had a problem. I couldn't wait to get my first computer (a good old DOS system back in 1991), and have been upgrading my paych
ecks away ever since. My kids have always had computers in front of them. They used to be little Geek Wannabes, but now they are full-fledged gadget gurus just like their mom.

I've always heard people say that you shouldn't let your kids have the Internet in their bedrooms. I agreed with them...but still set my little beasties up with a system in their little dungeons anyway. My kids were good kids, after all. They wouldn't do anything bad. And I'd make sure that bad folks couldn't get at 'em.

Heh, heh, heh. Well, first my little 11-year-old showed me the error of my ways. If I didn't think Heather was smart before, she sure proved it by showing me exactly how computer savvy she was. Although I was apalled at her behavior, I admit to being very so slightly proud of the ingenious ways she had of bypassing my parental controls.
Thus, she lost computer privileges for a year. The hardest year of her life.

Now, she's earned back Internet privileges with the caveat that she have this Web access sitting a mere five feet from her Mommie Dearest. I even switched rooms for my office just so she could have a desk set up for her Internet access.

Problem solved, right?

Ummm, that would be a no.

I do, after all, have two children. My darling 16-year-old has decided to start acting like a snot-faced teenager who doesn't have to follow the rules. The worst part wasn't necessarily which sites she was visiting, it was just how freakin' much time she spent o
n the computer. For a girl who has college class coursework in her sophomore year, she really didn't have a lot of free time to spare. Add to that mix a new boyfriend, and a slew of other folks who were all attached to her monitor via IM, and I barely ever saw poor Beth.

I kept threatening her. "If you don't sign off of that damn IM, I'm going to take it away from you!" Finally, I'd had enough. I reformatted her computer and she has agreed to NOT set up the Messenger service. In exchange, I'll set u
p an old piece-of-shit laptop in the rec room for her to use for IM.

There's only one problem with that concept. The POS laptop has the Blue Screen of Death on it. Ugh. Heather has been sweet enough to let Bet
h use her computer for the night since Beth has a rare evening of no homework.

I know, I know. Beth's a teenager. She can say that she won't use IM in her bedroom. I'm also fully aware that there are plenty of sites that will allow her to use IM without having anything installed on the computer. But she's also aware that I'm a heck of a lot more tech savvy than she is and if I find out about it, she loses the computer in her room completely.

Heather's proof that I mean it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Lost...But Trying To Find My Way

After watching yesterday's episode of Desperate Housewives, I got to thinking.

With the abundance of reality programming coming to a boob tube near you in the upcoming months, I started to think that ABC screwed up (again) with their programming.

They've had 24 hours a day of programming to fill. Let's face it, they haven't really been doing a great job of it lately. I mean, 'cmon, which
Neanderthal in the ABC Studios actually thought that Cavemen would make for Must See TV?

So, now that the strike has forced all of the networks to come up with creative programming, why didn't they have the foresight to do reruns of their GOOD shows?

They were lucky to have eight (I think) episodes of Lost filmed before the Writer's strike occurred. Great. But 8 hours of good TV
is certainly just a drop in the bucket. And after last year's chopped up season (three mini seasons just so they could make sure to hit every Sweeps Week available) and the extra long wait for season 4, many loyal Lost fans have decided that they don't even remember enough about what happened last to put it on their TiVo Queue.

I'm not one of those. I'm looking forward to Season 4. But hell, I couldn't even remember anything about what happened last May when the last episode aired.

So why isn't ABC using this time of dismal programming to rerun the series in its entirety straight through. Half of their viewers use a DVR nowadays, so they could run maybe 2 or 3 episodes a week. Run repeats at odd hours, too. Just get the show back on the TV and keep pumping the fact that Season 4 starts in a few weeks. Anything is better than watching American Gladiator, right?

Fortunately, ABC DID do something right. They put the whole series up on the Internet...for free, I might add...just to accommodate the junkie in all of us. I don't have time to watch season 1 or 2, but I started season 3 tonight and plan to have a total rehash by January 30th.

Jack and Sawyer and Kate...come to mama.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Desperate for the New Season

After last month's mega-cliffhanger ending on Desperate Housewives, I've waited and waited to see what would happen to poor Lynnette's husband and children.

Considering the havoc that the writers' strike has wreaked with the TV schedule, I thought ABC was pretty savvy with the way they were able to end the season early and still manage to leave viewers saying "ohmigod! What do you think happened??" Most of the TV shows that have had the forced hiatus have ended up just dropping the episodes where they were. And to be honest, I don't care if I catch up with them or not once the strike is over.

But I couldn't wait to take a return trip to Wisteria Lane, just to find out who croaked.

I was thrilled to discover that tonight would be a new episode of Desperate Housewives. According to (man, I love that site), it's apparently the last new episode for the foreseeable future. So why did those fools clear up every bit of the cliffhanger all in the first 5 minutes?

Now that Penny poked her head out of the rubble, followed by Parker, Porter, Preston and Kayla (is that her name? I can't quite remember) and finally Tom, I'm not the least bit anxious to find out what happens next. Everything has already happened. Why in the world didn't they save this episode for next season?


Well, I'll still watch. I just won't be manic about it.

Just hurry up and bring back the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Isn't Slavery Illegal?

2007 wasn't such a hot year for me financially.

I had a temporary transcription account with a local Internal Medicine practice, but they kept reminding me that they were going to switch over to "electronic medical records" soon, which is precisely how I've lost my last 4 accounts. Sure 'nuff, come September, my fanny had a big old boot print on it as they kicked me out the door.

At first, I just tried to get a decent job.

A month later, I just tried to get ANY job. I went from making $25 an hour to applying as a minimum wage hack at a gas station. And STILL couldn't get hired.

Another month later, I was brushing up on my bank robbery skills because the bills were piling up and the bank account was dwindling. I started living by credit card. The fact that Christmas was coming was a joke. If I couldn't pay the house payment, I sure as heck couldn't fill stockings with gifts. Fortunately, my kids understood.

Finally, the planets aligned and the gods were smiling upon me. Not only was I offered a job, it was another work-from-home medical transcription job. YAY! Unfortunately, there were a bunch of delays and I didn't start working for them for yet another month. Finally, though, I started. It's a dream job. But let's face it, any job where I don't have to strap a brassiere around my dirty pillows is a good job.

The only problem is that they seem to have misplaced my paycheck. Again. I've worked there for four weeks and I've yet to see a single dime. And the boss is on the ski slopes stranded in Tahoe until the blizzard clears.

Looks like I whip out the old credit card once again.

Friday, January 4, 2008

She Who Giveth Shall Taketh Away

Oh, my sweet little Beth. She's the kinda girl every mom dreams of having. She's fun. She's incredibly intelligent. She has compassion for everyone she meets. She's loving. And I never have to worry about her getting in trouble.

Ummm, well, scratch that.

She's still fun, sweet, smart, loving, and compassionate. She's also hip deep in Feces River.

I gave Beth permission to spend the night with her friend, Chelsie. Even better, I let Beth drive her car to Chelsie's house. She was on cloud nine. Of course, only angels can stay in the clouds, and tonight, Beth was no angel. She plummeted back to Earth and landed right on her rump.

When I gave Beth permission to drive, I gave her some rules. Not everyone would agree with me on these rules, but that doesn't matter. I'm the mom, which means I'm the keeper of the keys.

First Rule - Don't get behind the wheel unless you have already received permission from me to go somewhere.

Second Rule - You are too inexperienced to have your friends in the car with you, because they will definitely be a distraction. After you've been driving for a month or so, we'll probably let this rule go.

Third Rule - Call as soon as you arrive (or before you leave) so I don't have to panic needlessly.

So, Beth drives off to go to Chelsie's house. My heart was wrenching. I came in to the house and said to my mom, "I just wanna follow her and make sure everything is okay!" Of course, I didn't do that. Instead, I ran an errand for her sister. When I came back, though, I decided to bypass my driveway and head up the road for a mile just to
make sure that Beth parked the car on the side street like I instructed and make sure she locked the car.

Hmmm. The car isn't there.

I call home and my mom answers the phone. "Did Beth call?" Nope.

Fortunately, being a child of the new millennium, Beth carries around a set of "electronic handcuffs" in her purse thanks to my overpriced Alltel family plan. I dial her number and she answers. "Where are you??"

I can hear the slight hint of panic in her voice. "I'm at the library. I told you I was going to stop here on the way to Chelsie's
and my car stalled out."

Okay, that's reasonable. She has an old car and it's been having starter problems. "Don't worry, I'm just around the corner, I'll be there in 30 seconds." That's when her slight panic turned to full-fledged freak-out mode. She hung up and moments later I pull in to the library parking lot. She gets out of the car and I give the ignition a try, but it won't start for me, either.

She also informs me that she needs me to drive home to get her medicine which she forgot. "No problem, I've got the prescription right here. I'll just take you to Chelsie's right now and I'll get your car la

Her cell phone rings. It's Chelsie. I'd imagine she's probably trying to figure out why Beth is 45 minutes late. I say, "tell her we're on our way."

Suddenly, though, Chelsie seems to be in more of a panic than Beth. Why? Because she's hiding in the trees a mere 10 feet from Beth's car. Without shoes. In the snow. Yeah, barefoot in the snow. Why? Because Chelsie's shoes are inexplicably locked in Beth's trunk. Did I mention Beth has a two-seater sportscar?

Chelsie says "don't leave!!!" So Beth explains that she's behind the trees. I glare at my formerly angelic daughter and I said, "SPILL IT!"

Beth just couldn't stand the thought of not tooling around town with one of her best friends in tow. When they get to the library, the car won't start (I call that karma...or car-ma, as the case may be) and she's stuck.

Since they need me to come and get the car started
, Beth decided to try to hide Chelsie in the trunk. Umm, that'd never work. Even if Chelsie was the size of pre-preggers Nichole Richie, she wouldn't fit in this teeny trunk.

But when I call and say I'm on my way, Chelsie decides t
o make a run for it and hide so Beth can continue with her little charade. In the meantime, she loses her shoes. Beth, ever the little genius, decides to hide the shoes in the car instead of throwing them to her soon-to-be-frostbitten friend. Chelsie was willing to go along with this little scheme until she saw that I was putting Beth in my car and we were taking off for her house. A mile is a long way to walk barefoot in the snow, after all.

The keys, which Beth finally earned after 11 months of driving practice...they're mine. At least for now.

Oh Beth. I love you. I'm mad as hell at you, but I still love you.

I just don't trust you anymore.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Caucus Fever

It's Caucus Night in Iowa.

I, of course, am not presently in Iowa. I'm in frigid Ohio watching the festivities play out on the Internet.

I'm amazed at how much more politicized my brain has become in the last decade. Sure, I've voted in every election since I turned 18, but most of the time, I just didn't really care that much. I figured the politicians were smarter than I was, and the newly elected official would do the right stuff.

Now, however, after 7 years of being Bushwhacked, my opinion has changed enormously. Now, more than ever, I know that the politician who gets elected isn't necessarily the right one for the job. It's the one who can (usually) buy the best vote. And after he (or she, of course) is elected, his decisions are based upon the desire of whichever supporter can come up with the most green. And by that, I certainly don't mean anything environmental.

By the time Bill Clinton was elected to his second term in office, I decided he was just about the best damn president this country could ever hope to have, which is ironic because I didn't vote for him during the first election. Was he perfect? Hell no. He did, after all, create the "Federal Defense of Marriage Act" for which I can never forgive. And he was a horrible husband. But he wasn't elected as a National Husband. He was elected as the National Leader. In that capacity, he excelled. He balanced the budget for the first time in...well, for the first time, ever. Unemployment dropped, wages rose, the stock market went through the roof. I longed to repeal the presidential term limits, just so Big Bill could preside over us longer.

Then, all hell broke loose because Bush entered the Oval Office. He systematically destroyed everything that had been accomplished. To say that our country is worse off now than 8 years ago is like saying that I need singing's the understatement of the year.

Just about the only thing that Bush has done right is to turn a bunch of hard-nosed Republicans into Democrats. People who have never veered from the Republican Party have decided that they just can't leave their blinders on any longer and they've decided to jump ship and swim to higher ground. Let's just hope they keep that feeling next year.

So, back to Iowa. For the Democrats, it's virtually a 3-way tie. I like all three candidates and yet, I'm going to be disappointed if Hillary doesn't win. Not because she's a chick (and let's face it, I do have a thing for chicks). It's because everyone teased about how she acted like President when her husband was in the White House. I have a feeling she did have quite a bit to do with the success of the 90s, and I think she can work that same magic all over again. And the way the United States is right now, magic is just about the only thing that can help.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Her Rite of Passage

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. My daughter is a teenager and that means she's gonna do it. After all, most teenagers Beth's age do it, right?

I know. But it doesn't mean I WANT her to do it. I certainly know I'm not ready for her to do it.

She says she'll be careful.

And I know she will. But I still don't want her to do it. I'm scared she'll get hurt.

She's still my little baby girl, so how can she possibly be ready for this huge milestone?

But no matter how much I want her to wait, it's time for her to grow up.

It's time for her to drive.

Yep, little baby Beth isn't so little anymore. She came back from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles today with a shiny new driver's license.

All of those weeks of practicing the maneuverability test (parallel parking) paid off. Not only did she pass that portion without any points taken off, she passed the regular part of the driving test with a perfect score as well.

Tonight, she took her first solo drive. She went from our garage all the way to the church for Youth Group and back. Not a single scratch. Yep, I checked.


Okay, Beth, do you suppose you could stop growing up so fast now??

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Starting Over

Say hello to the blogging newbie.

Well, not quite. I used to be quite adept at making the boring little minutiae of my life seem rather unboring in my little niche on the web. But for apparently no reason at all, my blogging fingers went silent and I disappeared.

Something amazing happened. My friends missed me. They emailed and said "come back!" I, being the coward that I am, came up with lame excuses for not writing. Worse yet, sometimes I didn't even respond to the emails. Why? Because I couldn't come up with a reason for not doing something I enjoyed.

I've wanted to start over, to reclaim this little piece of cyber property which gave me such delight for a few years. On this traditional day of starting things anew, I decided it was time.

Welcome back to me.