Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Things That Never Cease To Surprise Me

Things that never cease to surprise me, by Captain Monkeypants:

1.How many cars seem not to come with turn signals these days. I find it quite amazing how often I’m driving and the driver in front of me decides to turn and I feel silly for not being able to telepathically read his/her mind. If I could read their minds, I’d know that they were either about to cut me off by crossing into my lane on the interstate, they were going to cut me off in order to turn left in front of me or they were simply just going to…turn. Perhaps I got lucky when I got my car- it has this nifty device that you use to signal when you’re going to turn. I believe it’s called an indicator. Perhaps car manufacturers should look into putting them into new cars again. They’re quite useful!


2. How there are times when you’re out and about and you simply seem invisible to the people around you. They walk into you as though you’re not there. They pull out of an aisle with their cart, nailing you with it and they walk off without even apologizing. You can be behind someone who’s going through the door and they slam it in your face. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does, it seems to be a day of it constantly happening. Perhaps we do all have ‘invisible days’ where only the people we’re with know we’re actually there.

3. Oranges. Sometimes you have an orange, clementine, mandarin, etc. and it’s the most succulent, juicy piece of citrusy goodness that you’ve put in your mouth in a long while. Then, a little later, you decide it was so good you’re going to eat another fruit. The orange-fruit of your choice came in the exact same package, possible off the same tree and it turns out to be the driest, most tasteless orange-fruit you’ve had in ages.

4. Pencils. I love to write with pencils. I try to have pencils for every season. I even have my own electric sharpener because no one else in my office shares my fondness for pencils. However, no matter how even I try to sharpen my pencils, they always end up having an extra bit of wood at the end that interferes with being able to write properly. If you pick it off, the pencil tip gets dull. If you re-sharpen it, the graphite breaks and you have to start all over again. I’ve tried those plastic pencils that kids use where they have replaceable tips that are stored inside the pencil but those break easily. I don’t like mechanical pencils either. I like my Christmas pencils. I just wish they’d sharpen better.

5. Drivers who appear not to be able to read. Now, I know there is a literacy problem everywhere. Reading can be quite tricky. However, you’d think that if someone was going to be allowed to pass a driving test, they’d have to be able to read. I mean, how do they take the test otherwise? Yet, when you’re driving, the simplest words seem to elude them. Words like “STOP” and “YIELD”. Even numbers and letters like 55 MPH seem to confuse them.

6.Christmas songs. I’m not talking about the nice, classic carols. I’m talking about the annoying ones that are played everywhere. Who on earth thought “Santa Baby” would be a song people actually wanted to hear? Sure, I guess it’s a Marilyn Monroe sort of song but, well, alas, she’s dead and anyone else singing it is just annoying. Also, I’m sure “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” is quite charming when you’re, say, five or six but as an adult? Sorry…not for me. By the way, I actually just typed “Reindoor” which you’ll be pleased to know gave me a rather strange image of a door with antlers. Speaking of reindoors/reindeer, let’s talk about Rudolph. I’ve never been a fan- I’ve always disliked the message of that song: Pick on the poor, disfigured outcast until you realize he has value and then use him regularly. Perhaps if the song included an apology to poor Rudolph for all the snubbing and teasing he had to endure?

7. How much guilt I feel whenever I don’t say “yes, I want to donate a dollar to X charity when cashing out at a checkout.” I get why I’m being asked. It’s an easy way to make a tiny difference in the world without having to do very much. I actually get the same feeling of guilt when I pass by one of the many, many Salvation Army ringers that seem to have multiplied in the past few years. It’s not that I don’t want to donate. I do want to help those less fortunate than me as much as I want to provide a $1 towards helping homeless pets or giving the little local girl $2 for towards the leukemia foundation or I want to help St. Jude’s Hospital and so on….it’s just that while yes, I have a job and yes, I can spare some pocket change, it starts to add up and you simply can’t do it every time you to the store. My problem is that I’m very softhearted. It explains why hearing that Sarah McLaughlin song play while showing pictures of sad, abandoned dogs and cats makes me want to weep each time I see/hear the commercial. It’s just that...I don’t want to feel bad for saying ‘no’ and, unfortunately, sometimes I have to say…no.

8. Selfish parents. Sure, I get that you want to see “Breaking Dawn.” I mean, you’ve probably read the books, enjoyed a bit of a crush on Edward and have been waiting for the movie for months but, lady, your kid is SIX YEARS OLD! I’m sure you’ve got her excited about the movie ‘cause if mommy loves it, so will little Joanie and little Joanie thinks she wants to see it. However, don’t you think little Joanie is a wee bit too young to watch a vampire impregnate his new wife and have her baby delivered in a rather gruesome sick fashion? And maybe a werewolf falling in love with a baby is a wee bit…adult for a kid? Just ‘cause you want to see the movie, lady, doesn’t mean it’s ok to bring your kid to it. Sure, it’s only a PG-13 but the kid is SIX. (Thanks to Miss P. for help on that one but I’ve seen it/heard about it so it still doesn’t cease to amaze me.)

9. Why Justin Bieber has armies of girls/woman screaming over him. I simply just don’t get it. Even if I was fourteen, I still don’t think I’d get it. He looks like Mary Stuart Masterson in “Some Kind of Wonderful” half the time.

10. How time in the evening flies by but when you’re at work, it drags on by as though every minute is actually three minutes. I think it’s a trick of the universe that time spent at work IS actually longer than time spent doing something fun.

11. Midwestern weather. Tonight, I went to my garden and picked some fresh parsley and thyme. Both were in great shape, ready for my mushroom soup. Yet, while I picked them, it was snowing. Seriously. There's something weird about picking fresh summer herbs while it is snowing. I'm not complaining though, just musing about the irony of summer vs. winter in a study of herbs.

Ok, that’s it for now. As always, I try to keep it light. Feel free to add your own comments regarding what doesn’t cease to amaze you below. I’d be curious to see how mine differ.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday...Another Year of Chaos, Another Year of Bargains!

Well, Thanksgiving has been and gone already. I hate when that happens. One minute, it's Wednesday evening, I'm heading to my parents after having left work early and the next, it's Sunday evening, the turkey's all gone and it's back to normal tomorrow.

I did have a good Thanksgiving though. As always, it was a nice calm day where my mum and I worked together to get everything prepped and ready for the meal. Then people started showing up, the food started being ready and chaos ensued. It's always getting the food from stove to table that seems to be the hardest part of a large meal.

However, it all turned out fine in the end. It was a delicious meal, I got to see almost my entire family- my poor sister had to work- and find out some ideas of what gifts I wanted to shop for on Black Friday.

Black Friday, of course, is definitely part of my Thanksgiving traditions. This year, due the annoying schedule of the stores, my sister and I did things a little differently. We did make it to Walmart at 10 p.m. Well, actually, we got there around 10:40 p.m. since my sister had to work until 10:30 p.m. Amazingly enough, my sister got everything on her list- quite a surprise considering we weren't there for the mad rush of the beginning of the sale.

Though Walmart was much busier than normal and the aisle with the electronics that were to go on sale at midnight was already a scary, scary place with people waiting, the rest of the shopping experience wasn't too bad. The trick is to know where to look for items. Sure, Walmart puts the specials in the middle of the aisles and provides a map but they don't go to the actual shelves and remove those items. Thus, though the salespeople said they were out of the Leapfrog Tag system my sister wanted for my niece, we merely went to the shelf, found the same item sitting there, price checked it to make sure it rang up at the Black Friday price and moved on. It was a little too easy, actually. I didn't buy anything at all. The only thing I wanted was a wireless media player for my TV but since that was part of the midnight sale, I wasn't about to stick around.

Besides, we had to be up and at 'em early the next day. We were up and out by 5 a.m. Our first major sale started at 6 a.m. at Menards. We were part of a line that wrapped around the building. However, in previous years, due to Walmart's 4 a.m. sale, we've never quite made the opening of Menards and always got there late. This year, we actually got there as the doors opened AND we secured a basket. Never before, in the history of our Black Friday shopping have we secured a basket in which to put our stuff.

Unfortunately, the basket soon became full and also, my sister decided she wanted to purchase a rather nice spa box for my sister-in-law that appeared to be on sale for less than $10. It was about 24 inches by 24 inches and weight about 6 pounds. Due to the fact that my sister is pregnant and I'm a little overprotective, I gave her the lighter basket to carry and the spa set became my carrying vessel on which we piled stuff that wouldn't fit in the basket. We were almost 100% successful at Menards. I purchased two rather nice 1.5 quart crockpots for $2.97 each! Now THAT is a bargain for me. I'm not greedy enough I wanted both- I got one for my mum. I also got dog toys, slipper socks and various other useful items. While some of them were for gifts, I also find Black Friday to be an excellent way to get items that I actually need/want at bargain prices. I only buy things I don't ask for as gifts, by the way.

However, even with the triumph of finding everything on our lists giving us energy, by the time we got to the checkout, my forearms were rather tired from holding the spa box and all of its cargo around the store. Also, Menards was a madhouse- people WILL fight to the death for a $3 Snuggie. (I don't buy Snuggies, for the record). THey also fight for $1.49 fleece blankets. I did join the fray for one of those. The girls and I like to snuggle on cold winter nights and last year's bargain could easily be replaced.

By the time we were next in line to checkout, I had jelly arms. Finally, success! My sister and I seperated our buyings so that she could pay first. I was not unhappy to release the spa box. Unfortunately, when it rang up, it was $29.99, not the $7.50 it was labeled on the shelf. We did think it was an awfully good deal but it also was Black Friday. There turned out to be no rebate and suddenly, $29.99 did not seem like a deal so my sister asked the cashier to take it off her receipt. I didn't blame her but it would have been helpful to know that I hadn't had to carry that rather heavy item around the entire store for 30 minutes.

Ah well, we moved on to Target which had started its sale at 10 p.m. the night before. Surprisingly enough, with the exception of one board game, my sister also go everything on her list. We moved on. Since there was a different Walmart there, we stopped in so I could see if they had my wireless media player. Lo and behold, they did. In fact, aside from the $2.99 chopper and $9 griddle that eluded us last year also, Walmart also appeared to have almost everything from their ad except for the HDMI cable which I needed for the media player.

After Walmart, we went to the local mall and managed to get several gifts checked off our list. By this time, it was 10 a.m. and the insanity of the die-hard, early morning shoppiers had died down.

We ended our day with a tasty lunch and headed home. It was a very successful Black Friday. I even ended up getting my $10 HDMI cable- I wanted to look at Christmas trees so my parents and I headed back up to their local Walmart after I'd had a bit of a break. Lo and behold, they had lots of the $10 cables which the other Walmart did not have.

The moral of this Black Friday tale is that while it's sort of fun to join in the chaos of being one of the early morning shoppers, it's not always necessary to score a deal. Just like we weren't the first customers at Walmart the night before but still managed to get a Wii for $99 (my sister's purchase), we managed to get everything on our lists at almost every store without being there at the opening. Menards was the exception. That's the one store that has such good bargains that you do have to be there as early as possible. People tend to really go for the $2.97 crockpots, $1.99 unstuffed dog toys, 99 cent furry slipper socks, $1.49 fleece blankets and, of course, $3 Snuggies.

When all was said and done, my sister and I finished another Black Friday successfull. I am further ahead in my shopping than ever, have ideas for gifts and am well on my way to being ahead of the Christmas shopping game. While I love Thanksgiving with my family, eating yummy turkey and cooking the meal, I also love Black Friday. It's a tradition between my sister and I and I enjoy the lunacy of being up, awake and shopping at 5 a.m.

It ended up being a good weekend. However, like all good weekends, its followed by a return to work tomorrow. Since I like my job, I'm not dreading it. I do wish I had another day but, well, that would be greedy. Now it's time to relax with the pups, review my Christmas shopping, check out Cyber Monday deals and settle in for the night.

There could be far worse way to end a weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resorting to Dog Trickery

It hasn’t stopped raining all day. Generally, I rather like rainy days but I prefer them when I can stay home, be lazy, listen to the rain and snuggle with the dogs. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days and, instead, I had to venture out into the wet landscape to go to work as usual.

The pups don’t like rainy days. It’s actually quite funny to see them. They get so excited when they get up in the mornings and I let them outside. They run out the back door and then…they stop. You can almost hear their little legs grinding to a halt as they realize it’s raining.

The unfortunate part is that they generally turn around and come back inside. This is fine if they’ve been out recently but when they just wake up after a night’s sleep, generally you’d think they had to go outside.

Even if they do, their desire to stay dry apparently overrules a full bladder. Since they’re completely housebroken and that they’re pretty smart, I used to assume that if they really needed to go, they’d go. Unfortunately, I discovered that this was the case only they decided to go indoors after I went to work.

This only happened once. Since then, I’ve found ways to get them to go outside. The meanest way I have is to trick them. It works well, I must admit. It’s pretty simple: I have two doors that lead to the back garden. They are in the same room, the Tuscan sunroom I redecorated earlier this year. The back doors face one another on opposite walls. One leads out to the patio. The other leads to the side of the house. On a normal day, I open up the door that leads to the side of the house and the pups run out.

On rainy days when they refuse to go out, I simply open up the other door. I step out onto the patio which has a slight overhang that keeps me dry. My loyal little pups follow, curious to see what I’m doing. Then, when they’re out, I quickly go back inside, shutting the door behind me. Meanwhile, I’ve left the other back door open. This means that they must go outside to get back into the house which inevitably leads to them realizing they might as well go to the bathroom since they’re already wet.

Yes, this is a mean trick. However, when I’m in a hurry and I have to get to work and I can’t coax them out any other way, it’s the best method to ensure they go outside. Also, they don’t seem to mind and come to greet me when they come back inside, trying to rub their little wet bodies against my legs- a small price to pay for my slightly cruel trick.

My nicer, kinder method to getting them to go outside is to simply go out with them. If it’s not raining too hard, I step outside for a minute. They follow. Then I go back under the overhang so I stay dry. They’re ok if they know I’m out there. If this doesn’t work, I have been known to stand out in the rain with an umbrella. They like it a lot more if I hold the umbrella over them too but, let’s face it, that’s just a little too indulgent. They seem content to be in the rain if they know I’m out there too.

If it’s not raining too hard, they don’t mind going out. It’s only when they get soaked that they mind. Of course, this is all dependent on their mood. There are times when they run out in the rain anyway. It seems that once they’re soaked, they figure that it doesn’t matter if they stay outside- they’re already wet. They tend to stay out for a while in this case. The bad part is that they’re soaked when they come in and if I’m not quick enough with the towel, they divebomb the carpet, rolling with glee as they get the beads of water off themselves.

Today was a day when they didn’t want to go out. In the morning, I had to resort to my cruel trickery. At lunch, I stood out there with them. This evening, well, I left the door open enough so that when the rain slowed and they really had to go out, they could go.

The only downside is that like young children, the dogs get bored if they’re stuck inside. Rory will lie on the floor and stare at me. When I look at her, she barks at me as if to say, “HUMAN! AMUSE ME! NOW!” Sookie, meanwhile, has given up and decided to resort to her favourite activity- sleeping. When I decide that playing with Rory on the floor is the best way to amuse her, Sookie automatically sprints up to join in. She does NOT like to miss out on fun. Usually, all I have to do is grab a squeaky toy and play tug-of-war with Rory and bam! Sookie is suddenly there, wanting to play too. Eventually, I try to sneak away and let the two play tug-of-war but this doesn’t last long and before I know it, Rory is woofing at me again.

It’s a vicious cycle. Last year, I resorted to those toys that are supposed to occupy dogs for a while- you stuff treats inside and the dogs are supposed to figure out how to release the treats. Unfortunately, my dachshunds tag-team and figuring it out takes half the time it should because one holds it down and the other sticks her tongue inside, forcing the treats out.

I suppose I should be happy that I have smart dogs. The problem is that they’re not quite smart enough that I can sit them down with a book or jigsaw puzzle.

Still, while they might get bored when it’s rainy, their presence ensures that I never do. Besides, when they do come inside and they’ve dried themselves on the carpet, it is rather pleasant to have them snuggle up beside me even though I know it’s 50% love and 50% need to warm up/dry off by using me as a human towel.

Besides, I think I owe them for tricking them into going outside. I always feel a little guilty about that.

Happy Wednesday and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's hard to believe it's just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. So far, weatherwise, it's been so mild, it's hard to believe it's November. While there have been a couple of cold days, for the most part, it's been slightly balmy and pleasant.

I can't say I'm completely happy about the balmyness. I mean, after all, it is November.Inside, I really want to wear my snowflake necklace but due to its supposed influence on the weather, I've been forbidden by several people.

Ah well, I don't really mind. My sister and I are determined to get an early start on Black Friday and if that means getting up and driving off in my car without having to defrost it from a thick layer of ice, I'm pretty happy. Also, it's nice to go out without worrying that my skin might freeze should that cruel wind blow too hard against me.

Also, the milder weather allowed me to explore the weekend in an outdoor fashion. For a start, I got the remainder of my garden cleared. The dead tomato plants and zinnias are now gone. I retired the gnomes to the shed as well as the solar lights I installed just a few months ago. Even though the weather is pleasant now, this

Still, the is the Midwest. This means that even though it was 65 degrees today, it could easily be 10 below tomorrow it a blizzard. Thus, even though my gnomes looked a little pitiful as I forced them into hibernation, they're safe from any winter weather that may decide to fall our way.

In addition, I got to explore ChristKindlMarkt- a Christmas festival sponsored by the Germania Society of Cincinnati. Even though I was born and raised British, my granddad is German and I was also raised with several German traditions. Thus, I felt like it was something to explore.

It was definitely worth attending. Germany does have some lovely Christmas traditions. One of my favourites is Gleuwein- hot mulled wine. It was rather lovely sipping a mug as I explored the booths. I did come home with a few gifts/keepsakes, my favourite being a handblown dachshund Christmas ornament that looked very much like my Sookie Sue. I also discovered that while I'd love to buy my sister the cuckoo clock she once said she'd love to have, the reality of it is that cuckoo clocks are very expensive. Overall, I had a lovely time and enjoyed the fact that I was in a place where it was perfectly ok to carry a cup of beer around while browsing the merchandise. I'm not a lush or alcoholic by any means but I am a Brit. It's just nice to see a relaxed approach to people drinking. Also, the smell of fresh apple strudel coupled with mulled wine and cheated on by dill pickle soup is a specatular sensory prompt to feeling in the mood for the holidays. Also, there were cute baby goats that bleated and sheep that baa'd as I approached the festival- it made me almost feel that I was in a German village for a second. By the time, I'd finished my mug of mulled wine, I positively felt that I was in a strange German enclave of Cincinnati. It was rather a nice experience although I was slightly disappointed that Sookie and Rory weren't as impressed at their handblown likeness as I was when I showed them the ornament I bought.

All in all, it's been rather a nice weekend. Even though it was tinged with Christmas, it really is the last weeked I'll have before the holidays kick in with full force. Next weekend is Thanksgiving. After that, it's all about Christmas. It was rather nice to have a weekend that was lazy enough to reflect upon the craziness that will happen over the next few weekends.

Even though the weekend is rolling to a halt, it's not so bad knowing that it's a three day work-week that ends in turkey and shopping. Being a fan of turkey and the slightly control-freakish, manic planning that goes along with plotting a meal for 14 people, I'm looking forward to this Thanksgiving. I also like the shopping that comes afterwards because Black Friday is really the gateway to opening the doors and letting Christmas flood in.

Still, for now, we're just on the cusp before the holidays take over and where we can still enjoy the relative calmness of Autumn. Now, if we could just have a little snow and cooler air, I'd feel a little more festive.

Ah well, if it doesn't happen, there's always my snowflake necklace. It's ready, willing and waiting. So am I, for that matter. Nevertheless, I'll hold off for a couple more weeks based on the promise I've made. Of course, promises can be broken....

But I'm not that kind of Monkeypants. At least...not until I worry that we might not have a white Christmas. Then I'm bringing the necklace out. Desperate measures and all that.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Changing the Traditions of Black Friday

I’m a little annoyed about Black Friday this year.

Last year, after Black Friday, I wrote a blog complaining about how irritating it was that Walmart had two sales- one at midnight on Black Friday and one at 4 a.m. Due to the midnight sale, those of us who got up early to make the 4 a.m. sale were screwed out of most of the good bargains. I know it served both me and my sister right for being lazy for not wanting to stay up really late after a day of spending time with the family, helping cook a massive meal, wrangling dogs and entertaining children. Instead, we chose to sleep a little and then got up super early to go to the Walmart 4 a.m. sale and then go onto the other 5 a.m. sales.

So, imagine my irritation this year now that Black Friday has become Black Thanksgiving. Walmart is now starting their sale at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Toys R’ Us are starting at 9 p.m. Never mind the fact that some people actually want to spend the day eating turkey and relaxing with family without having to plan on how they’re going to be able to make it to the store at 9 p.m. in order to try to compete for bargains.

I suppose the easiest thing for me to do would be to just shut up and not bother going to the sales if I really am that irritated at it.

It’s just that, well, I don’t like having to make that decision. Most of the stores are opening at midnight this year- Target and Macy’s come to mind. This means that shoppers can celebrate Thanksgiving and then, after probably drinking wine with their meal, heading out to wait in line for the stores to open. Alternatively, they can spend a portion of their day sleeping so they are refreshed in order to go out and about and shop.

Either way, it seems a little bit rude to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ironically, I’m British. My family wasn’t raised with Thanksgiving. We only started celebrating it because we moved to the States and it was part of the culture. Now we celebrate because we have American ‘interlopers’ in the family who do celebrate.

Still, given that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for relaxing, reflecting, spending time with family and/or friends and, you know, BEING THANKFUL, isn’t it a little disrespectful to interrupt the day making people have to decide between tradition and bargains?

I’m not the only one who thinks so. A Target employee from Nebraska started a petition online requesting that Target open at 5 a.m. like always because opening at midnight is ruining Thanksgiving for the employees who have to work.

I agree with him. I don’t work at Target but I did work in a video rental store that was open 365 days a year and, let me tell you, it sucks to have to bolt down your Thanksgiving dinner and then go listen to people complain because you don’t have a copy of “Dumb and Dumber” in stock. It also sucks if you go home and you have to have your Thanksgiving dinner reheated on the plate ‘cause you had to work while everyone else in the family had time to eat.

Also, it’s just awkward timing because there are stores opening at 5 a.m. Now the choice becomes do you want to go do some shopping on Thanksgiving night, get home at 1 or 2 a.m. sleep for two hours and go back out or do you want to stay up all night?

Either way, I don’t like it. I’m not a late night person, I prefer to get up early and get out and about. I liked it when people called my sister and I crazy but getting up at 3:15 a.m. in order to get to Walmart and be there when it opened at 4 a.m. Sure, it was crazy but it was the beginning of a day where we’d move on to other stores, pause for lunch somewhere and be done by 2 p.m. Now, if we follow this plan, most of the stores opening at midnight or earlier will most likely be out of the doorbuster bargains and it really won’t be any different to shopping on a regular day.

I’m disappointed, I admit. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small thing to be disappointed about. It’s just that like Thanksgiving itself, the 4 a.m. shopping trips were tradition for my sister and I and I don’t like it when people mess with tradition. I love the time with my sister because we don’t get to go out together as much as we used to and this has become our day.

I just don’t like that it’s not a straight shot anymore. You can either eat turkey, shop, go to bed and get up again, you can eat turkey, run to Walmart, run home, sleep for three hours and then go out again or you can skip the sleep entirely and most likely be quite unpleasant the next day.

Still, even with the petition, the circulars are printed and the store hours are set, at least for this year. The sad part is that now the stores have changed the tradition, they’re probably going to keep the new one for a while.

Is it so wrong that I want to enjoy my Thanksgiving day without having to think about fighting people in Walmart for a $3 chopper a few hours after eating my turkey?

Happy Friday and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Craigslist: The Usefulness and Presumptiveness that Comes with a Great Creation

I find Craigslist to be a fascinating place. You can pretty much find anything on Craigslist from dates to jobs to obscure personal items for sale. Unlike the classified ad section of a newspaper, you don’t have to wait until the next day for something new to appear. It’s pretty cool how it’s an ever changing landscape of weirdness.

I’ve used it several times to get rid of items I don’t want. For example, per my friend Emily’s suggestion, I decided that Craigslist might be a better option to get rid of my collection of unwanted doors than simply throwing them away. I personally probably wouldn’t want to get free doors off Craigslist but like my mother said, people will take anything if it’s free.

Besides, I figured that there might be someone out there who had a desperate need for some new doors and no budget. Thus, why not give them away? I’ve done this before with an entertainment centre and a large collection of cardboard boxes that I used to move into my house.

My mother is right. People will take anything if it’s free. They will also, however, be quite rude and presumptive.

For example, with the doors, I decided that I didn’t want people picking and choosing the doors. I had a picture of people coming to examine the doors and deciding which ones they did or didn’t want and leaving the left behind. Thus, in my ad on Craigslist, I described the doors as best I could. I’m no door expert. I know there are different sizes but these were pretty standard sized. I had four sliding closet doors, one back door and one outdoor screen door. My ad said, “No picking or choosing- you must take all of the doors.” Also, I stated “You must load and haul away.” Not that I wouldn’t assist with the loading if necessary but well, I figured it didn’t hurt to be clear.

So…after I placed my ad, I began to get emails. The first couple were standard “Do you still have the doors?” emails. Then I began to get “Can I come look at them? I only want the screen door,” emails. Then people started being more specific, asking me to please measure the doors.

Now, I suppose that it would have been nice and smart to measure the doors. However, the lazy part of me felt that if someone was going to get six free doors, they could measure them once they got them home. I did say they were standard sized. Granted, if I didn’t have an inbox full of mail from people who didn’t care if measured the doors, they just wanted them, it would have been different. I could be lazy and so I was.

In the end, I started with the first reasonable email. The guy wanted me to call and leave my address on his voicemail. Unfortunately, while I really, really wanted to lose the doors, I’m also not an idiot and I am not about to leave my address on the voicemail of a complete stranger. So I told him to call me. I gave him four hours. No call. I decided to move down to the next email- I wanted the doors gone and my preference was for someone to get them asap. Well, the second guy told me that he couldn’t the doors until next week but would I deliver?

I moved on. The third time was a charm. I spoke to a nice man who lived 10 minutes away. He agreed to come in the evening. I had to leave work a little early because we were supposed to have nasty storms and I didn’t want the guy to get stuck hauling doors in 45 mph winds. He did arrive as promised, didn’t inspect the doors but just took them. He said that he had a friend who’d moved into a stripped house that had nothing and he wanted to give him the doors. I was happy- this is the exact type of person I wanted to donate my doors to and so I felt not only that I’d helped a new homeowner but, also, I got rid of the blasted things.

It just makes me laugh about the presumption of people though. With my entertainment centre, I measured and took photos of it and I put it up on Craigslist for free. People wanted to know if it would fit in “x” sized room. Well, since I did provide the measurements, surely they could figure it out. I had someone who wanted to know if I’d remove the glass doors for them and then they’d take it. I ignored that one.

I guess my attitude is wrong but I can’t help but think if something’s free then surely you can’t be too picky…right? I mean I suppose if you’re going to come and pick up some doors, you want to make sure you can use them but, well, when someone clearly says “No picking and choosing” in the ad, that generally means NO PICKING OR CHOOSING…right?

With my free boxes, I folded them flat to make them easy to store. I took pictures and put them on my Craigslist ad. I had people ask if I could assemble the boxes before they picked them up. Uh, no….sorry….for one thing, they’re way easier to move if they’re flat and, well, you want 50 free boxes, you can bloody well assemble them yourself.

I’ve had experiences on the other side of Craigslist too. For example, I wanted to build a privacy fence when I first moved in and I was so sick of Dog Whisperer’s noisy beasts, I decided to shut them out. I found a guy on Craigslist who charged a reasonable fee for his hourly rate, would pick up the materials provided I paid and build the fence. I got in touch with him. He seemed decent. I arranged for him to come inspect the garden to see how much fence I’d need. He never showed up. I tried to call. I never heard back from him. Now, it is entirely possible that some nasty fencing accident befell him and he was unable to contact me but, alas, his ad on Craigslist appeared again two weeks later.

I suppose I’m a sucker. I can’t help but think if someone agrees to something, they should follow it through. I know people who buy things on Craigslist and more than one has showed up to a place and no one’s been home or the item wasn’t as promised.

It’s a shame that there are abusers of such a nifty service. I’m still a big fan of Craigslist. It’s a fantastic way for getting rid of crap. My brother in law has used it to trade things- he started out with a ton of junk he got from garage sales and he ended up with a car. Granted, the car didn’t run very well but I thought it as a pretty good trade. My sister didn’t agree since it stood in her driveway for a while but…I was impressed at free car.

Still, in the end, I got rid of my doors. I do have a couple of angry messages from people who really wanted my doors but were too late to get them but I can ignore those. It really does prove the saying, another person’s junk is another person’s treasure. My only rule is that if my junk is your treasure, you come and get it. It’s worked pretty well so far. I did feel a little bad about not measuring the doors but, truth be told, I kind of figured that most doors were the same size. It just goes to show that I’m a door-ignoramus.

Ah well, the only ones I have to deal with now are the ones already in my house, being used. I have a much cleaner garage and I got to help someone.

And it’s all thanks to Craigslist and people who will take anything for free.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekends...Holidays and...Everything in Between

This has been a strange weekend. We are in that strange period between Halloween and Thanksgiving where it's no longer Halloween but not quite Thanksgiving but Christmas is trying to usurp the territory of both.

I still haven't figured out where I should fit. I know it's too early for Christmas but the Christmas lover in me is gravitating towards the music and glitter of the holiday displays. I hate it and yet part of me is, like, "CHRISTMAS!!!" and it's easy for me to want to start sipping hot chocolate, singing carols and decking the halls.

The other part of me is "BAH HUMBUG! It's not even Thanksgiving! WHY would "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" be good things for me to hear? Exactly! IT's TOO EARLY!

So, you get it. The commercialism of the holidays is starting to infect me. My rational brain has taken over but it doesn't mean that the minute I hear any interpretion of anything remotely Christmas by Transiberian Orchestra, I'm not going to go out, buy a new tree, bedeck it with candy canes and toss iciles upon each and every undecorated branch.

I'm trying to fight it. Sure, I bought another Christmas gift this weekend as well as a couple of ornaments for the tree..but it doesn't mean I'm into Christmas....right?

Just kidding. Sort of. I tried to fight the Christmas spirit the weekend. I did so by embracing the Indian summer we sort of had and enjoy the outdoors. This involved taking Sookie and Rory for a walk over in the park. It went well at first. On the way back, however, Rory decided she'd walked enough and sat down. When Rory sits, this means no one else walks. She's quite good at sitting her bottom down and refusing to move. As a result, I ended up carrying her. I wanted to be amused but when you've already walked two miles and you're carrying a 20+ pound dachshund and alreay out of shape, being amused comes in second to being out-of-breath and annoyed that I parked the car so far away.

Still, Rory and I both made it. I spent the rest of the weekend...being productive.

Sometimes, I long for weekends where I do nothing but, the truth is, I'm not good at doing nothing. I like to be busy. Thus, for the remainder of my weekend, I was busy. I cleaned out the garage for the first time since I moved into my house. It was a mess to say the least. However, in spite of quite a few extra doors and window screens, I managed to come out on top. While I know the old lady who owned the house before me meant well by preserving every extra door...and screen, the truth is that I have no extra room. Thus, I now have six doors I need to lose. I'm hoping I can put them out with the rubbish on Wednesday but we'll see. I emailed Rumpke to check....I'm not sure what to do next.

However, in spite of the extra doors and screens, I have a clean garage. This was a triumph of my weekend. In addition, I managed to write 4000 words towards my new novel which may not seem like an accomplishment but when you're competing in NaNoWriMO and it takes 50K words to win, every word counts.

In short, it's been a good but productive weekend which seems the way good weekends go these days. I anticipate them from about 7 a.m. on Friday morning and then when Saturday hits, it's a blur until Sunday.

Still, for now, I don't mind the rushed blur of a weekend. As always, I wish they lasted longer but I'm ok for now. However, ask me when I get closer to Christmas and I might be in more of a panic. It depends how many store I enter/commecials I hear that tell me that I should be decking the halls, baking cookies and being done with shopping. I'm not usual so suspectible but this year, it seems a lot more serious. I'm trying to avoid it but, well,I can't lie and say it's working.

Ah well, next there's still another weekend before Thanksgiving which means an extra weekend to get Christmas stuff done.

There's something weird about that,isn't there? Surely it should be turkey before tree....right? Unless it's tree before turkey which is rather confusing since we British ex-pats eat turkey on Thanksgiving and>

Ah well, I love Christmas. I love turkey. I love Halloween. I guess this means that anything goes...right?

Deck the halls...with turkey and pumpkins...that's the way I like it...

I think.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snow at the End of a Strange Week

It snowed today. It was rather unexpected but also rather delightful.

Two days ago, we had a day where it was 71 degrees. We didn’t wear coats. Two days later, it’s snowing. This is actually quite typical for Ohio but it’s still rather fascinating.

This whole week has actually been a little bizarre. Workwise, it’s been very uneven. Some days have been so slow and have dragged on for what seemed like forever. Other days were so busy they flew by before I got everything done.

Aside from work, it’s been a strange week. I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month again. I’ve found it’s an excellent way for me to, you know, write. Lately, I haven’t been writing so regularly. I don’t know why. I still love it. It’s just that I haven’t really felt like it. I don’t know if it’s laziness or my brain has just not wanted to write anything since last year at this time when I wrote “Emmy Goes to Hell.”

I’m not writing another book in my demon series. I need a break. I know there are a few people out there wanting a sequel but I don’t think the demand is enough that I HAVE to write one for a while. I don’t really want to at the moment anyway. While those books are entertaining, I’d like to think I’m a better writer than that and I’m capable of something more interesting and better written.

The ironic thing is that I really don’t know what I’m writing in this current book. I have a few vague ideas but I’m returning to my old habit of just letting the story come out on its own. My past few books including the demon ones have felt forced to me. They haven’t felt like my writing. I like it much better when I find my characters and connect with them and they guide the story. I like being surprised and I’ve got into the habit of not being surprised.

Thus, since I’ve written every night this week, the story I’m writing has become quite interesting. I rather like having no clue where it’s going next. As I said, I have a vague idea but, to me, that’s the best way to write.

I think the weirdness of the week is partially due to the time change too. Ever since we “Fell Back” an hour last weekend, I’ve felt a little out-of-sorts. The pups have too. I’ve noticed they still seem to like to get up at the same time as last week which is all very well but the same time as last week is actually an hour earlier this week. Did you follow that. To put it more simply- Rory Wrigglebottom Gilmore now becomes a wide-awake Rory Wrigglebottom Gilmore at 5:45 a.m. instead of 6:45 a.m. For the past few moments, I’ve awoken to find a doggie nose inches from my face, big brown eyes wide and staring, just waiting for me to open my eyes. The minute I do, I get pounced on. I suppose it’s good that they don’t pounce while I’m sleeping but both dogs tend to be a little restless a lot earlier than they used to be.

The problem is that they’re going to bed earlier too. They haven’t figured out that humans feel the need to change the clock an hour backwards and thus their internal clock is still telling them it’s ‘bedtime’ at the same time it was last week. This means they’re passing out on the couch, legs sticking up on the air, flat on their backs at 8:30 p.m. instead of 9:30 p.m. This probably explains why they wake up earlier too but it’s a little hard to sleep at the moment.

Now, it’s snowing. I’m quite happy. It’s not the type of snow where I’m inspired to go home, make hot chocolate and enjoy it since it’s rather furious flurries that are over in moments and it’s still far too warm on the ground for it to do anything other than land as wet splodges. I do, however, have Hungarian goulash in the crockpot which I think might make the perfect meal on a cool, snowy evening.

I’m just hoping that I actually get to relax a little with my TV shows tonight. The last time I furiously wrote to get my word count for the day, I did so with the promise to myself that I could watch “Glee,” “Ringer” and “Parenthood” after as my ‘reward.’ Then I discovered that DirecTV was having trouble with their HD channels. The non-HD version of each channel was working, however. This would have been fine if I’d have, you know, watched the shows live rather than rely on my DVR but, alas, my DVR didn’t record anything and thus, I missed all three. Hopefully, tonight, I will get to watch “Vampire Diaries” (remember: NO MOCKING) and “Grey’s Anatomy” with no problems. I’m also watching “Person of Interest” because I love Michael Emerson who endeared himself to me as creepy Ben Linus on “Lost.” Unfortunately, “Person of Interest” is becoming one of those shows that I don’t feel like I really want to watch until I have nothing else left on my DVR to watch. It’s…ok but it’s a bit….boring.

Ah well, perhaps I’ll watch it over the weekend. I think it’s supposed to warm up this weekend again. Knowing Ohio, it’ll probably warm up to 90 degrees and we’ll be sweating in our thick coats and gloves that we got out to deal with this snow.

You just never can tell.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Somewhat Ridiculous and Really Not Practical Christmas Wishlist

1. I would like my dogs to be able to understand that they cannot climb trees and no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to follow a squirrel up one.

2. I would like Kim Kardashian to go away. I don’t even know what she’s famous for but she’s certainly in a lot of headlines.


3. Re: #2, I would like celebrities and people of influence to realize that marriage is not just something for publicity. It actually is supposed to mean a lot and it does to most people. Kim Kardashian’s ridiculous wedding could have probably covered the salaries of several out-of-work people in this bad economy and it didn’t even last three months.


4. I would like Ryan Gosling to do the lift from “Dirty Dancing” with me. Shirtless. If you don’t know what I mean, watch “Crazy, Stupid Love.” You’ll get it. Maybe. And if not, I’m sorry but you’re weird or…not into Ryan Gosling which is perfectly fine.


5. I would like “Glee” to be good. I watch it and I don’t know why at this point. It’s over-the-top, irritating and for no reason whatsoever, Lea Michele really bugs me. There’s an easy solution, I know…stop watching. I just…can’t…not yet.


6. I would like the Twilight phenomenon to go away now. I sort of get it. It’s just…not that good and it’s gone on too long. Also, Breaking Dawn did not need to be two parts- it’s about a vampire and human who get married, get pregnant their first time in having sex, have a grisly birth scene and have a werewolf fall in love with their baby. Oh, and there’s some kind of standoff between vampires that ends up fizzling out into nothing more than a conversation. It’s not Harry Potter by any means- one part would have been just fine.


7. I would like my dogs to pick up their own toys and vacuum the floor. Also, it’d be nice if they could make me a cup of tea when I get home from work.


8. I would to know why sometimes I have the urge to climb over the stall door when I go to the bathroom at work. It’s a peculiar urge I have and I don’t know why.


9. I would still like someone to invent a three slice toaster preferably in a triangular design. I’m not scientific/engineering-y enough. However, sometimes, two slices is too little and four slices is too much. I suppose I could just get a four slice one and not use the last slot but a triangular one would just be niftier.


10. I’d like to be able to shoot water out of my finger. I know this is strange but wouldn’t it be fun to point and squirt sometime? This is not my desired superpower but it’d be fun. If I could have my desired superpower, I’d like to be able to heal people with my mind.


11. I would like to teleport. This way I’d never have to go to the airport again and pay ridiculous fees and charges.


12. Speaking of #11- I would like airline travel to become fun again. It was once. I even remember it. I miss the days of free Toblerones, free wine and politeness from the airline staff. Also, I miss the days were you didn’t have to check your bank balance before you got on a plane in case you got hungry.


13. I’d like to be able to perform telekinesis. It would make being lazy much easier.


14. I’d like to know what my dogs are thinking. Just my dogs though. I don’t want to know what people are thinking. That’d be scary and make things a little too complicated. And I don’t want to know what other animals are thinking because then I might have to become a vegetarian and we can’t have that.


15. I’d like to know why the “Happy Feet” movie gives me a feeling of distaste. It’s a movie about penguins! Yet something about it just gives me a slight case of the creeps.


16. I’d like wine to have no calories.


17. I’d like cheese to have no calories or fat.


18. I’d like butter to have no calories or fat.


19. I’d like Mario Batali to cook me dinner with the cheese that has no calories or fat, with plenty of calorie and fat-free butter with a nice bottle of no-calorie wine.


20. I’d like to solve everyone’s problems and make the world happy.


21. I’d like to know why rotting potatoes smell so much worse than rotting lemons.


22. I’d like “Veronica Mars,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy” to come back on the air with new episodes.


23. I’d like it to snow without making the roads scary.


24. I’d like to buy the world a Coke but have it be a Mexican Coke with real sugar rather than corn syrup. And by Mexican Coke, I mean the tasty beverage that is Coca-Cola. Just in case there’s any confusion.


25. I’d like world peace because, well, this is a wish list and doesn’t everyone wish for world peace? Besides, I’ve never understood why people like to shoot each other and blow each other up. This is why I don’t understand boxing. Why do people want to watch people punch each other in the face? Yes, world peace would be very sensible.



I think that’s it for now.

By the way, this is intended to be silly and not an expression of greed in any way shape or form. Also, I tried to stay away from anything too personal or political. That’s my disclaimer.

Thanks for reading- Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Shopping...in November....

As always, this weekend has gone way too fast! It actually seems like life is going by too fast. When you get to Autumn and Halloween passes, suddenly it seems like there are very few weekends between now, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sure, in terms of days, it seems like a lot but in terms of weekend, there's not as many as there could be in order to get things done.

It's not like I'm even that much of a busy person. It's more that I like to drag out celebrating Christmas and when it's broken down into the cold hard facts of there being about 8 weekends between now and then, it really doesn't seem like much particularly when you're already getting invitations to do stuff, there are birthdays in there and work, as always, might get in the way.

So, I'm trying to get a head start. I actually started Christmas shopping in August. Yes, I know it's early but I'm a firm believer in being prepared and even if it's four months early, if I see something someone I know will like and it's at the right price, it will keep for a few months. I still have a lot to buy, however.

The funny thing is that there are quite a few days until Christmas. Even though I work every day, that's not to say I can't do stuff after work. Also, there are still about eight weekends until Christmas. It might be seven or eight. If I had a calendar nearby, I'd count but...I don't and I'm lazy.

Regardless, I'm feeling oddly...panicked already about Christmas which is...wierd. Normally, I don't get that panicked about the holidays because, as I said, I like to be prepared. It's only when you're lying in bed, two days before Christmas Day, running through the checklist of what you've bought and for whom you've bought gifts and you realize, oops...you still haven't got that thing for person X. I know, I know...Christmas isn't really about the gifts and there's more meaning to it than that. I'm not saying there isn't. Yet the cold hard fact of the matter is if you're passing out gifts to your family and you realize that, crap, you forgot to get something for your sister-in-law, etc...you feel like a complete loser of a twit.

Thus, even though it is about much more than gifts, gifts are a part of the celebration. So, buying gifts is part of Christmas...

No, I think my feelings of panic are entirely the fault of retailers who decided that the day after Halloween was a perfectly fine time to overly bedeck the halls, slam us with Christmas advertisements and start having Christmas sales with great prices.

My mistake is that I went shopping on Saturday. I went innocently- one of the warehouse outlets near me was having a great sale on a fold up table and I'd offered to go get one for my parents who are officially starting a Kids Table at Thanksgiving this year. Since they have no actual table at which to sit the kids, the one I saw in the ad would have been perfect.

I got the table with no problems. However, the store was also having a huge sale on Christmas decorations and toys. Even though I try NOT to jump into Christmas until at least Thanksgiving, I usually resist. However, it's quite easy to get sucked in. My strategy is to try to buy ahead so that there's not too much financial stress right before Christmas. I figured it wouldn't hurt to look.

So I did. I found a gift for my niece. It was a great price and I think she'll like it. However, this find of a gift coupled with the Christmas-bedazzled store and the strange, distant sound of Christmas carols flipped a switch into my brain. Immediately, I began to scour the shelves to find gifts for my other niece and my two nephews. I couldn't find anything that jumped out at me and for one moment, I had that brief urgent distress signal flare up: WHAT IF I CAN'T FIND A GIFT FOR THEM? WHAT IF IT'S THE WRONG GIFT AND THEY HATE IT.

Fortunately, I am actually a mostly rational human. I immediately had an internal dialogue with that side of my brain in which the Christmas switch had flipped that went something like this:

"DUDE! CALM DOWN."
"I CAN'T! I NEED TO BUY GIFTS."
"Sweetie, it's November the Fifth. It's Guy Fawkes Day."
"Thanks for reminding me. I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING THEY'LL LIKE!"
"My point is- It's THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER."
"Yes. And?"
"YOU HAVE EIGHT WEEKS! In eight weeks, I'm quite sure that you'll be quite capable of not only buying gifts for the kids but the adults as well."
"Oh. Ok. WAIT! Should I look for gifts for the adults?"
"No."
"No? But.."
"Shut up and go buy shampoo."
"Oh. Ok."
"And you need drain opener too. Have a look for that."
"Ok. Do you think...?"
"No. Go buy drain cleaner."

You get my point, right? I know that one of the reasons for Christmas saturation beginning so early is that the retailers know that with the economy still being pretty bad, people are trying to stretch out their spending...much like me. It makes it much easier to buy gifts if you're thrust into the season as soon as you walk into a store even if it is only the first week of November.

It's just that, for the first time, even though I have some gifts, I'm already feeling behind which is ridiculous.

It's not just me. The pups and I were walking today and we noticed at least one house that had their decorations up. I get the need to start shopping earlier but, really...decorations? Really? It's quite hard to understand when it's a balmy 65 degrees out, the trees are still quite leafy- albeit splendours in their autumn colours and there are still tomatoes on the vines.

Ah well...I'm sure in a couple of weeks, I'll be contemplating putting my decorations up too...I suppose it doesn't matter really what the date is, does it? When you're ready to start celebrating Christmas, you're ready to start celebrating Christmas...I think I just need to stop fighting it.

It doesn't mean I'm going to go into full panic mode though...not yet, anyway. There's still plenty of time...as long as I keep telling myself that, I'll be fine.

Right?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Having a Growl...

Today was one of those days where I realized I was a foul-tempered beast right as I got into work. I was fine when I got up this morning. I was tired and quite comfy in bed and not really in the mood to get up but, as I do every morning, I got up anyway. As usual, I got up just in time for “Fox 19 Stormtracker Weather” which was actually right for once. As usual, I got dressed and then let the pups out.

As usual, I went to do my normal bathroom routine and the pups came back inside and watched me the whole time, waiting for their morning treat. As usual, I made my tea- pumpkin spice this morning- and headed to work.

Then I got to the office and realized I was in the mood to throw things at people. It wasn’t even like they were doing anything worthy of me throwing things at them. It was just that it was one of those days when I really, really was not in the mood to be in the office.

It didn’t help that I’d worked a little late last night trying to lure in a candidate for a job that, based on his resume, would be a great fit for him. I got him excited about the job. I got him to fill out the required paperwork. I was happy that I’d finally found someone for the job who actually fit. Then I discovered that he had actually worked for us before at the same client site where I wanted to place him. Not to worry- that doesn’t mean much since it was six years ago and he seemed to have left on good terms. In addition, during the six years afterwards, he’s garnered a ton of experience and was far stronger than he was when he left the job.

Still, I thought I better check with the hiring manager, just in case there was a reason they didn’t want him back.

Sure enough, the email we got in response to my inquiry is that they had no interest in him. There was no explanation. He even still has references from the company. I was irritated. It’s fine if he’d done something bad, you know, like stabbed one of his coworkers, brought down the entire system or stolen a ton of money. However, all I could discover was that, at the time, he didn’t have the experience they needed so they didn’t renew his contract.

So, that didn’t help my mood. There’s nothing like investing a lot of time into a project only to realize it’s been a complete waste of time.

Thus, I found myself declining into Foul Tempered Beast territory. I’ve been surly and irritated all day long. My coworkers have been irritating me even though they’re doing nothing different to usual. I’m just not in the mood to listen to them laugh and joke around. Also, the new boy is irritating me because he’s cocky and arrogant and likes to try to steal my candidates. Also, it was dark and rainy all afternoon and all I really wanted to do was go home and curl up with the pups.

Instead, I have a meeting to go to tonight for work. It’s part of our extra-curricular attempts to network. I’m not excited. It’s a two hour meeting. It’s two hours when I could be playing “Angry Birds”, writing or do something completely non-work related. On the plus side, I don’t have to go alone- one of my coworkers is meeting me there. It’s just not what I feel like doing on a cold, rainy bad-moody evening.

I think perhaps if I walked around the office and had a good growl it might help. I do that at home sometimes. Growling is fun. Some people find it a little odd that I growl but it’s actually quite a good way to make yourself feel a little better. It’s more fun if I growl at the pups because this inevitably leads to them trying to jump on me and doing their little cute grumble-growls but it’s also fun to do it when you’re simply having a bad day. The only problem is that as I’m still trying to keep up the fa├žade that I’m not a weirdo, I can’t do it when my coworkers are around.

Ah well, I will have a good growl on the way to the meeting tonight. That should help. Also, tomorrow is Friday and that’s a good way to make sure that tomorrow is not a Foul Tempered Beast Day. Fridays are good days by default, I find.

And, if it’s not, I shall simply have a growl. Oh, go on…try it. It works….trust me.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goodbye Halloween, Hello..Christmas?

So, apparently now, the minute Halloween is finished, it becomes completely acceptable to embrace Christmas, according to both the radio and TV.

This is not a surprise and it’s not even the first time I’ve complained about it. After all, the Christmas merchandise has slowly been creeping in for weeks now and co-habiting with the Halloween merchandise. Poor Thanksgiving is relegated to a meager area of pilgrims, turkeys and leaves.

No, I’m talking about full-on, Christmas promotional assault. I’ve already seen one commercial on TV today for Christmas merchandise and I only had my TV for the 25 minutes it takes me to get ready in the morning. To be fair, I didn’t actually see the commercial as much as heard “Jingle Bells” and cringed. Then, two separate radio commercials were about Christmas sales. Different companies, same annoying Christmas song- Jingle Bells.

Now, generally, I’m not opposed to “Jingle Bells.” It’s a good song to caterwaul as you’re driving home on a cold winters night in early to mid December. It’s actually very satisfying to sing especially very loudly and very enthusiastically. It’s just that it is currently November the first. The day after Halloween. It’s too early to be assaulted with the bastardized versions of Jingle Bells that have their lyrics changed to advertise something.

While I accept that Halloween is, in fact over, it was only a mere 24 hours ago that I was putting away the trick or treat candy bowl. By this time, I had realized that I was not going to have the onslaught of sugar-hungry children that I had last year and would have a lot left over so during the quiet periods, I found myself habitually hoarding the Kit-Kats and Twix’s and swapping them out of my bowl with Airheads and Lemonheads. Yes, I’m that person. And yes, I did give some chocolate away but when you realize you bought a metric ton of candy and ended up only giving away half the metric ton, measures must be taken. I knew I’d end up taking the bag to my office. I work with a lot of sugar-addicted office-mates who are always on the lookout for chocolate and sugary goodness. They prefer the chocolate. I do too and while I try not to snack too much at work, it is rather nice to have a mini Kit-Kat when I really want some chocolate.

I was rather disappointed in the trick or treat-ers this year. I was also disappointed in my neighbourhood. I live on a street with a lot of houses. From my porch, I could see only four houses giving out candy. The rest were obviously dark, porch lights off and disinterested. Now, while I know the economy is bad, giving out candy or Halloween goodies of a non-sugary kind is traditional. There are ways to participate without spending a ton of money.

The kids who were trick or treating weren’t as plentiful as last year. I’m a sucker for a toddler in a cute costume so I tend to give extra candy to the ladybugs, bumblebees and Strawberry Shortcakes who come to my door. I also like creativity and cleverness so I reward those kids too. In fact, pretty much any kid in a costume is welcome at my door.

The problem is that last night, there were an awful lot of kids not in costume at my door. In fact, they really weren’t even kids at all. They were teenagers who must have been fifteen or sixteen. They didn’t have Halloween buckets or bags. They didn’t even have pillowcases. They had backpacks and gymbags which they were clearly carrying already, not for the purpose of trick or treating. There were quite a few of them. They travelled in packs. Since I had a ton of candy and not as many kids, I gave them all one piece of candy each. I shouldn’t have done because it’s rewarding ‘bad’ behaviour but since I didn’t want to cause a fuss, I figured it wouldn’t hurt. The one that really made me question her was a girl who opened up her Louis Vuitton purse for me to drop a Tootsie Roll in.

It was a real Louis Vuitton purse too. Believe it or not, I can spot the difference after several years living in L.A. and being surrounded by knockoffs. Now, why is a girl who is carrying a Louis Vuitton purse and high heels begging for free candy?

Still, she got a Tootsie Roll from me. Tootsie Rolls are my passive-aggressive way of being mean to people. I know it’s twisted logic because the recipient might actually like Tootsie Rolls but I find them rather unappealing. They’re one of my least favourite sugary treats. I only had them because they were in a mixed bag of candy I bought.

I actually do have a system for handing out candy. If I think they really embraced the whole dressing up for Halloween thing and they look good, they are eligible for a Reese’s Cup, Twix, Starburst or Kit-Kat. This is the cream of the chocolate crop as far as my opinion of Halloween Candy goes. I’m actually not a Reese’s cup fan but the way the kids were bickering over who got the “Reesy Cup” made me realize they were quite the prize. Next comes the Snickers and the Almond Joys which I will eat if hungry but will not seek out. These go to the kids who made a good effort but I can’t figure out what they’re dressed as or they are dressed in a store-bought superhero costume. It is too easy to buy a superhero costume. I think a little more effort should be made. Following this comes the Lemonheads and the Airheads which are not my favourite candy but there were a lot of them. I give these to the kids who are wearing a Jason mask or a Scream mask without the rest of the costume. Finally, comes the Tootsie Rolls which I give to the kids who didn’t bother wearing a costume and just want free candy.

Yes, I’m a meanie and I have a weird system but when you’re sitting at the door for two hours, playing “Angry Birds” while waiting for kids to come ask for candy, there’s a lot of downtime to think about these things. The pups tried to keep me entertained but even they got bored between trick or treat-ers. Sookie barked at them but most of the time both she and Rory were just curious and they got so many “Aww! WEINER DOGS!!!” yells of delight that they eventually ran outside to get away.

Still, by the time I put the candy bowl away even with the plethora of uncostumed teens, I had a lot of sweets left in my bowl. I slid them into a bag to bring to work and called it a night as far as Halloween festivities went. I figured that it was another Halloween past and another year of being completely wrong in my estimation of how much candy I would need.

Still, even though I knew Halloween was over this morning, it did feel a little wrong to be carrying the leftover candy to work while being serenaded by several different versions of “Jingle Bells”. I’m sure that over the next few weeks, it’ll be a full onslaught of Christmas advertisements. While I do enjoy the holiday season, I do think it might be a little better to wait until people have had a chance to put away the Halloween pumpkins before they think they’re supposed to get out the trees, giant inflatable snowmen and all of the trimmings.

At least let Thanksgiving have a chance first!

Happy Wednesday.

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