Sunday, January 25, 2009

We've Got a New Room!

Sure. I could have spent the weekend typing, as usual.

I could have wiggled my hips to Wii Fit's imaginary hula hoops.

I could have even sat on the couch munching potato chips and root beer all weekend.

Nope. I got a burr up my butt and decided I had to spend the weekend painting the living room walls.

Of course, the first step would be moving the huge bookcases out of the room.

It literally took all frickin' night on Friday just to move one of them (which found a new home in my office). Saturday morning, I tackled the other bookcase, then moved all the furniture to the foyer and dining room.

Once I got started painting, though...

Oh, it was heaven.

I listened to Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross on audiobook while Mom and I transformed the room from a mismatched, unorganized eyesore to a gorgeous room, thanks to $25 of paint. The room started off as pale robin's egg blue and is now a deep grayish teal. I discovered that the flash on the camera seemed to distort the color in some of the pictures.

Knowing that I was gonna get my butt kicked by Andi if I didn't blog about this, you'd think that I would have the foresight to take "before" pictures, but alas, my mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Where's the Ritalin when you need it?

So, here's the "after." Feel free to "ooh" and "ahhh" to your heart's content.

This first picture is about the most realistic one as far as what color and hue the walls look like now. The other pictures are all either too blue or too light.

This is my beloved "Stephen King bookcase." It represents years of terror and night sweats and so many goosebump-riddled memories.

The dining room is probably next on our painting to-do list. It's walls are the same baby blue that the living room used to have.

The couch has become Harmony's and Melody's new favorite spot to be. There's already a lovely patch of Harmony fur on the upper corner of the couch.

Speak of the devil, there she is!

OK, so I'm dead tired and now I still have to finish a LONG file for Dr. M. AND I ran out of vanilla syrup for my coffee. Drat.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cheapest Bikini Wax Available

What happens when you combine a big kitchen window
With a sweet fluffy kitten
When the temperature is 7 degrees below zero?

When it is that cold outside, even the inside of the window gets little ice crystals on it, as poor little Melody found out the hard way.

Yes. Sweet Melody literally froze to the frost on the window. Yeeowwwsh!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Consider yourself warned. This post represents DiAnne at her nastiest. If you want to maintain the false image of "Sweet DiAnne," you know where the "close window" button is. Oh wait...if you're reading this blog, that means you already know the "True DiAnne" and the aforementioned warning is not needed. Carry on.

Christmas is always a pretty laid back affair at our house. The kids open their gifts and we have breakfast, but that's about the extent of the plans. We take things pretty easy and that's the way we like it.

I'd have to say there is only one thing about Christmas that consistently pisses me off. Every year, I invite my brother and my father over for the opening of the gifts. They never really have any other plans, and if they are in town, they usually show up.

Unfortunately, Dad always feels the need to bring his girlfriend over. In the past, I always tried to be nice. Sure, I didn't like her and I'm sure the feeling was mutual, but I respected my dad's choice. As the years went on, though, "nice" turned to "cordial" which has now degenerated to "bare tolerability."

While she has never been "invited" for Christmas morning, a few times Dad pretty much insisted that she be there by saying "if she doesn't come, I'm not coming." I know his flawed reasoning is that he's just trying to make sure that everyone is happy. In actuality, of course, he makes his girlfriend miserable and he makes his daughter miserable. The only one he makes happy is his ex-wife because my mom takes great pleasure in pointing out (albeit privately to me) some of the ridiculous things she does and says.

It has become tradition for her to give me a small gift, as I do for her. This year, knowing that she had Dad run to Walmart on the day the new AC/DC album (okay, kids, that's what they were called when I was young. But fine, it was the new AC/DC "CD") was released, I found a hat for her which was pretty cool. It wasn't very expensive, but I felt it was something she would like.

In return, she gave me a candle.

Sure, the lid was a little dusty because it probably sat around for awhile, but hey, that's nothing that a quick wipe with a tissue won't fix.

In looking at this picture, I know what you're thinking...well, DiAnne must have liked the candle enough to light it. Umm, no. That's the way it was when I unwrapped it.

It also c
ame with the fuzzy dead bug sitting next to the wick.

Oh, and what is the intricate design on the inside of the lid? Well, I do believe that would be dried fly feces decorating the cap.

Yeah. Really.

So, after having my daughters write their thank you notes to Dad and his girlfriend, I thought it might be really comical to send her one and tell her how much I absolutely adore the candle and I'd request that she tell me which store she purchased it from so I could run out and get another one.

But alas, my snarkiness doesn't extend to that degree of rudeness.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Convenient Alzheimer's

For Christmas, among the other things I bought for those I love, I ordered a new laptop for Beth. It was perfect. The color is "plum" and it has all these cool features - web cam, fingerprint reader, etc. How awesome is that?

Since I ordered it from Dell, I was a tad concerned that I wouldn't be able to keep it a secret, especially since her school was closed for two weeks before Christmas and I wasn't sure exactly when FedEx would show up at my door. Fortunately, they have a tracking system online and after checking it repeatedly, I had it pinpointed that it was arriving the next day. Through some clever scheduling, Beth walked out of the house a mere ten minutes before FedEx showed up. Woo hoo!!

My plan had always been to have everything loaded on the laptop so it was ready to go on Christmas. I was going to have the wallpaper say "Merry Christmas, Beth!!" and have it sitting at the table waiting for her to discover after she opened all of her other Christmas gifts. I couldn't wait to see the surprised look on her face.

But alas, it was MY face that was surprised.

I took the machine out of the box and plugged her in. The touchpad didn't work, but I figured that was because it hadn't really loaded up yet. I plugged in a USB mouse and was able to get the initial setup started. Five minutes later, the mouse stopped working. Do you know how hard it is to work a computer with just a keyboard? Finally I just restarted the thing, because that solves all problems.

Nope. Same thing. No touchpad. Mouse worked for a few minutes and then croaked. Keyboard worked for a bit and then bit the dust.

Instead of setting up her computer, I spent two hours on the Internet trying to solve the problem. Among the things they had me do was to "reinstall Windows." Unfortunately, the computer froze midway through the reinstallation. Now, all that would happen is that it would go through a vicious damn cycle of starting up, showing error message, shutting itself down, starting up..."

At that point, I got to talk to an actual live person all the way from New Delhi. Two hours on the phone later, I finally said "STOP!! I've been messing with this piece of crap for 5 hours now. It's time to give up and send me a new one." He agreed. First, they had to send someone over to put in a new touchpad and a new hard drive. Yeah, like that's gonna fix it.

The worst part about someone coming to the house to fix it was that I couldn't get Beth out of the house again. So, a week before Christmas, the secret was blown.
"Surprise!!" And she, of course, was blown away.

The repairman came and left and the computer was still trashed. I called Dell and they ordered a new one right away. It shipped, ironically enough, the day AFTER Christmas. So much for her Christmas gift.

Once it did arrive, though, it was perfect. I think her fingers have been glued to the keyboard nonstop since we opened the package. She's gonna be the first teenager on record to have carpal tunnel syndrome.

When it came time to return the trashed computer, my devious brother suggested that I forget to return the battery. Well, I think they would notice. However, after having the Christmas surprise ruined, I decided that would be worth having an extra AC adapter, right?

My "selective Alzheimer's" kicked in and I conveniently "forgot" to put the AC plug in the package, even though there was a convenient empty spot in the box for it. I'm hoping they don't notice. For now, she has a plug that is wired behind her desk and she has one that she can take with her when she needs it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'll Have the Pancakes With a Side of Tissues

Yesterday, Mom and Beth accompanied me on my trek to Canton to buy a new computer monitor (so that I can return it tomorrow with Dad so he won't be wise to the fact that I can't return the original one I bought him a few months ago).

Of course, no shopping trip is complete without going out to eat for lunch. Our favorite place lately seems to be IHOP because they have scrumptious breakfasts all day.

As we sat down, Beth asked her grandma to explain a comment she had made earlier in the day where she said "I ran for you once."

Mom starts off by saying, "Well, for years and years, I couldn't even talk about this without crying, but..."

And that's as far as she got. She turned into a weeping, laughing, blubbering mess. The more she laughed about crying, the more the tears flowed.

Meanwhile, Beth and I are laughing at Mom's apparent inability to stop crying due to the retelling of a distant memory. Then, I started to cry just watching Mom cry.

So, what caused the sudden Weep-fest?

Mom was trying to tell Beth the story about how when Beth was two weeks old, I had to call her at work to tell her that Beth (who was a teeny preemie at the time) had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and they were rushing her from Aultman Hospital up to Akron Children's Hospital for immediate surgery.

Apparently, Mom answered the phone near her station at work (she was a basketmaker for Longaberger Baskets) and I could barely talk at the time because I was crying so hard. I finally explained the pertinent info and Mom hung up the phone and looked at her supervisor and said, "BYE!" and took off running. (Thus, the "I ran for you" topic of this story.) She didn't clean up her work station, she didn't say what was wrong, she just ran to the car. By the time she made it, she could barely breathe.

Then, she had to get to the hospital. She said she made the 20-minute trip in less than 10 minutes and was actually HOPING to get stopped by a cop so she could get a police escort. God help any officer who wouldn't escort her, I think she would have run him over at that point.

In the end, obviously everything turned out fine. But even knowing that the story had a happy ending couldn't stop the tears.

When we left the restaurant, the waitress finally came up to me and asked if everything was okay because she couldn't tell if we were laughing or crying. That would be both.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm Being Monitored

I knew exactly what I wanted to get my dad for Christmas. While he's not a technophobe, he's not exactly on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to his computer, either. It was about 8 years ago that he bought his first computer and it came with a 15-inch CRT monitor. He's used that thing ever since.

Since his eyesight isn't the greatest, he has his computer resolution set as low as possible so he can have BIG enough words that he can see. Reading a web-based newspaper article on his computer can wear you out from all the left and right scrolling.

So, I ask my brother if he'd like to get him a new monitor. Dad's computer desk has a hutch with a small spot for the monitor. I debated buying a 19-inch LCD or going up to the 22-inch LCD. I finally opted for the bigger one because Dad's handy and he can make anything work. Sure, he'd have to cut into the hutch and probably install some brackets since the monitor was too large for the current space, but that's okay. He'd finally be able to see.

Later, when we discussed it, Brian said "just give him the smaller one, that way he doesn't have to mess with it." Hmmm. That made sense. After all, the 19-inch was still significantly bigger than what he had previously. Okay.

I still had the receipt and the monitor was still packed up and ready to go. I planned to take it back to Sam's Club during my next trip there so we could exchange it.

Then, the hamster wheel in my head started to turn. I went to Mom and suggested that she take the new 22-inch one and we give Dad hers. Now, that sounds awful, I know, but Mom had just bought hers a few months ago. We still had the box, and they were both just fine. It would save me a trip and it would get Mom a bigger monitor, which she could really use now that she was working on her computer for 8 hours a day sometimes.

We did the old switcheroo and everyone was happy.

Then Dad got it home and said, "it's so small!" What?? How can that be? His old smaller monitor practically filled the space. That's when he reminded me that he had speakers and a huge surge protector jammed in beside it. Oh. So, he wondered how much it would cost to return this one and get a bigger one. Crap.

Well, hell. I decided to just bite the bullet and I'll buy him the bigger one and I'll keep this 19-inch. Which is what I did. He's thrilled with the new 22-inch job and says it fits like a glove and looks like it was made just for the spot.

He just called and asked if he could take me out to eat this weekend up in Canton...that way we could return the 19-inch monitor. Oh, crappety crap!! He asked if I still have the receipt. Yepper, it's just, ummm, like several months old, and now it is too late to return it, but HE doesn't need to know that.

It'll be interesting what happens when I get to the Returns Desk with Dad and they say "you can't return this!"

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

For the past four years, I've been struggling with finding enough transcription work to keep afloat. The sudden proliferation of electronic medical records (where the doctor clicks things on a computer screen instead of dictating into a recorder to be transcribed for the patient chart) has been the demise of my career choice. I've lost my last 6 or 7 clients for this reason.

It got so bad last year that I finally tried to find an in-office job, and was blisteringly unsuccessful in my attempts. I was borrowing money to pay bills and living on credit cards to some extent.

Finally, at Thanksgiving a year ago, I was hired by a Florida transcription company. There was plenty of work, but boy did my pay-rate go down. I went from charging 11 to 12 cents per line to receiving only 7 cents per line. I had a 1,000-line-per-day quota and it took me a good 10 hours to reach. For all you math whizzes out there, that equals $7 an hour with no benefits and I still had self-employment taxes to pay. It was not fun. But, it was steady work and I slowly caught up on my debts.

But then in June I got was called back to work a previous client, Dr. M and Dr. S. They are the best ever. The work is fairly easy, Dr. M makes it fun (when he burps, he's been known to blame it on the patient who is standing there in front of him aghast), and best of all, I'm back to making about $30 an hour.

On top of that, I started working for a friend who runs a mental health agency out of state. I'm only their "back-up transcriptionist" but it's pretty steady work and I'm so happy.

The problem is that my butt seems to be superglued to my desk chair. I wake up in the morning and go to work and stay here until I'm too tired to finish anymore and then go off to bed. My TiVo queue is filled with a dozen Desperate Housewives episodes that I've yet to have time to watch. Netflix copies of Boston Legal have been sitting here for three months waiting for time to spare so I can see what's happening with my two favorite whiskey-sipping flamingoes.

Last week, when Dr. P's office called and said they saved my resume from last year and they were hoping I could do their Canton office's work (3 doctors, but only one per day), I said yes before the hamster wheel in my head started to even spin. What was I thinking? When, exactly, did I think I would have time to take on another nearly full-time account by myself??

Fortunately, I had the forethought to explain that I would have to wait until the weekend to begin their work. That was fine with them. They were just happy for the help.

All week, I've had butterflies flittering around in my tummy at the mere thought of starting this account.

Finally, I made the executive decision...what good is earning another couple of hundred dollars every week if I don't have time to spend it? Now that we have the money coming in so I can buy the big-screen TV, I want to be able to sit down on the weekends and watch a movie with the beasties (but I get to pick the movie, those freaks are into gruesome horror flicks. eewww).

So, Monday when I should be turning in a week's worth of work, I'm actually going to be calling to apologize and admit that I can't take on the account after all. I feel like a real schmuck for this, but I know it is the right decision.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Was This Tragedy Preventable?

I just read that John Travolta's 16-year-old son, Jett, died today. Apparently he had a seizure and hit his head on the bathtub.

My gut just wrenches at the thought of losing a child. Do you ever really understand that kind of loss until it happens? No.

Compassion for their grief aside, I have to wonder, as do so many others, whether Travolta's (and his wife, Kelly Preston's) religious beliefs have inadvertently contributed to this incident.

They are both Scientologists. While I don't claim to have a vast amount of knowledge in this particular religion (or any other, for that matter), a small handful of celebrities have brought some of the Scientology teachings to light.

Among the teachings is that most prescriptions are not allowed to be taken if you are a Scientologist, specifically psychiatric medications. However, the Web is filled with stories about members being kicked out of Scientology if they refused to give up their epilepsy medication.

In fact, Jett's Mom specifically said that she had her "home detoxified" as her treatment for Jett's seizures. While I'm skeptical that it would really work appropriately for such a serious medical condition, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, at the time of her son's death, he was on vacation outside of the U.S. Was she able to "detoxify" (whatever that means) his environment everywhere he went? Not likely.

So, her beloved son had a relapse of a diagnosed medical condition that is almost always preventable with medication. Had Jett been on antiseizure medication, would he have had a grand mal seizure and caused the fatal trauma to his head? The chances are low.

Freedom of religion is an American right. Unfortunately, children aren't able to choose their religion. They generally have it forcefed to them by their parents until they are old enough to follow it or leave it. Jett will never be old enough to make that decision.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Making a List and Checking It Twice...

I'm Making a List and Checking It Twice...

Yeah, yeah. I know. Christmas is over, so why am I singing Christmas carols?

Well, the obvious answer is because I love to sing Christmas carols. You can hear "Oh Holy Night" bellowing from the top of my lungs 12 months of the year. Well, the first two lines, anyway. I can't remember the rest of the words, so I just keep repeating the intro ad nauseum.

But there's a different reason for the title of this entry.

New Year's is, after all, the perfect time for lists. Specifically, for lists of resolutions.

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours.

DiAnne's Resolutions for 2009:
  1. Blog at least once a week. Daily is better, but weekly is more in tune with my severe free-time shortage. Don't let the fact that nobody actually reads this blog (let alone that nobody other than Unhinged and Beth make comments) deter my resolve. I need to write for me, not for the people who are(n't) reading.
  2. Cut down on eating out. I'm just so damn lazy. When Mom hasn't already planned a meal, I immediately pipe up and insist we hit Burger King for some artery-clogging cholesterol-in-a-bun. The thing is, I don't even love the taste of fast food. It's just "easy." All it takes is a little planning ahead so we're not scratching our heads at 4 p.m. hunting for a quickie meal to stifle the grumbellies. I even have a deal where Mommie Dearest is willing to do most of the cooking. She just wants suggestions of what to cook. It sounds like weekly menus need to become a habit.
  3. Be more diligent about my work schedule. Right now, it seems as if I spend a good 15 hours a day pecking away at the keyboard. But how much of that is spent actually working? After seeing how fast my inexperienced mom was able to whip out her batch of work yesterday and today while I barely got started on mine, obviously I need to become more focused. Anyone got any Ritalin they wanna share?
  4. This little piggy will go "Wii, Wii, Wii" all the way home. That's right, I'm gonna push the coffee table outta the way and hula hoop my heart out on Wii Fit. I'm gonna plan for every other day, but I'll settle for twice a week (which is two days more a week than I'm doing now).

Geez, that's it? I could only come up with four things? That should make it easier to stick to 'em.

Tonight, I work. Tomorrow, I wiggle my ass to an imaginary hula hoop and eat leftover sauerkraut and pork instead of porking out at McDonald's. And since I just blogged about these plans, that means I've hit all four resolutions on the first day. Yay! Only 364 more to go.