The numbered list approach to blogging

1. Thank you, Marilee, for being the first contributor to the Poplar Springs 5k fund! Her donation coincided with a particularly fortuitous afternoon’s snaps of the Smith household animals, so here’s a photographic “thank you” from those worthies:


    2. Thanks to: a.) the fact that my husband actually reads the Birchmere‘s occasional missives, b.) my friend Melanie’s quick response to a call to arms, and c.) my credit card, I can report that Mel, her sister and I are actually going to get to see Eddie Izzard.  (John’s not interested, but thanks for noticing he’s not included).  As my mom is fond of saying in reference to hot flashes, “Faint, but don’t fan: it’s a dead giveaway.”

    3. In other theatrical news, we’re going to see Teller’s Macbeth this weekend at the Folger Theatre.  I feel a bit ashamed to say that I have lived in the DC area for a total of over nine years and have never been to the Folger.  Cultural cretin – that’s me.

    4. Who thought of this daylight savings time palaver, anyway?  And who thinks it’s a good idea to extend it?  Clearly someone who doesn’t work for a living.  Feh.

    Shameless Pledge Drive

    So the running thing is going pretty well.  I’m as surprised as anyone.  Probably more surprised, to own the truth.  With that, I decided to seek out a little 5K “fun run” and found one that is perfect for me – the Poplar Springs “Run for the Animals,” in support of a local sanctuary for wildlife and abused or neglected farm animals.  It’s on May 18, so I even have some time to train properly.

    The pledge system is woefully lo-tech, without the bells and whistles of the big AIDS Walk I did last year.  However, if anyone wants to sponsor me, I’ve added an e-mail to my PayPal account especially for this event (I know – not everyone loves the PayPal, but it is easy).  If you trust me and want to support the animal sanctuary, go over to PayPal and deposit the donation under the e-mail 4theanimals ~at~ writingortyping dot-com.  I will probably get all sappy and want to thank people publicly, so if you prefer your donation be anonymous, just let me know.

    If you prefer lo-tech or don’t trust me not to pocket the cash and make off for Bora-Bora and want to mail a check made out directly to the sanctuary but don’t know my address, drop me an e-mail at the same address I’ve noted above and I’ll ping you back with the requisite info.

    Milo offers all the usual incentives for those who donate.  He may even add a few, since he highly approves of the whole animal sanctuary concept.

    “Wake Up Cat” strikes again

    Remember “Wake Up Cat“?


    Ceci n’est pas un Milo…

    Humorous Pictures

    …but MAN, the resemblance is scary (no, we’ve never even tried to put any of our cats on a leash).

    Update to my post on that cable company whose name rhymes with “bombast”

    1. The problem, it was OUTSIDE.
    2. I got a blog visitor for the previous post from Tamil Nadu, India, linked through Buzzmetrics “Threat Tracking.”  They even outsource their paranoia.

    Comcast is a Four-Letter Word. (No, really.)

    We have had three different visits from Comcast techs since late November.  Three.  Two to the insides of our house, which of course requires one of us to wait around during “normal business hours” (read: when we really should be elsewhere) chained to the house so we can let a guy stomp around, twiddle wires, check screens, and finally inform us (again) that the problem is not inside our house. 

    The last visit, coming to some unit outside our home, was supposed to fix things once and for all (ha).  Saturday dawned to find us with crippled television service – channel outages, pixellated picture, intermittent sound.  We are familiar with these issues, since they are the ones that caused us to call in the past.

    One more unto the breach, dear friends, and fill up the wall with our wasted time on hold.  I finally get one of the two species of Comcast call-center types: the obsequious-to-the-point-of-condescension “The customer is always right, but I’m going to stick it to her anyway” variety.  He informs me that I will need to be home for a visit from a tech. 

    “No.”  I say.  “We’ve had two visits from techs within a month, and every time it’s not an issue inside our house.” 

    My new friend understands my frustration. He comisserates with me.  He needs to send a tech to my house (Comcast’s motto?  “Returning to Square One is more than a job: it’s a vocation.”).  “No,” I respond again.  “It seemed to be fixed when they did the outside work, but now it’s not working again.  Nothing has changed inside our house, but I can’t say that the same holds for the outside.  Send the techs that work on the outside.” 

    My new friend’s sympathy knows no bounds.  He would carry my burdens a thousand miles for me if only he could.  He needs to send a tech to my house.  “No,” I respond again.  “I’m going to be looking into my options with satellite.  I have, in two words, had it.  Goodbye.”

    Those who know me well might imagine fire emitting from my nostrils, bringing gentle warmth to the blue air produced by the sounds coming from my mouth.  Not so, say I.  For I remained calm.  Zen, in fact.  Until Sunday.

    Sunday dawned cold and rainy.  I was the first one up, and noticed the cable light on the modem emitting an ominous blink, blink.  Oh.  No.  Television outage?  Meh.  We shouldn’t watch so much teevee.  We have DVDs.  We have books.  Inner resources, you might say.  Internet outage?  No, we shall not speak of it.  It is not to be thought of.  I reboot the system completely, hoping my usual tech-fu will answer.

    Blink, blink.

    I am trying to get past the automatic telephone-bot on the internet side of the Comcast empire when John emerges from the bedroom.  He objects to my patented method of getting past a voice-activated techbot, which consists of saying things like, “nononono, attendant.  f***ing attendant, attendant, attendant.  attendant now, f*** you, you piece of s*** machine.  attendant.”  I believe fervently in the combination of pre-emptive spleen-venting and confusion of the machine and adhere to the faith that it paves a swift path to a human being – or whatever passes for a human being in a Comcast call center (I have some personal theories about feces-flinging baser primates, but they are as yet not completely proven).  John finds it distasteful to be subjected to such a foulmouthed rant before his coffee.  I can only retort that he wasn’t the one who tried to reason with Comcast yesterday, only to find the problem had worsened overnight.  Anyway.  I tone it down a notch.  My machine-confusing-fu yields a nice, helpful, yet completely useless woman who, upon learning that we’re also having TV issues (every single channel boasts Comcast’s version of the Blue Screen of Death, bearing the legend: “Please Stand by.  This channel should be available shortly.”  Ha.), informs me that since we deserve to have expedited service due to our history of issues, she needs to put me through to the TV side of the tech house since TV (but not internet) is considered an “essential service.” 

    Excuse me?

    On second thought, never mind. 

    So,  I put the handset of the phone on speaker and wait.  In the latter half of my 1 hour (no lie) wait, John decides he’ll try to get hold of a manager on the internet side of the house and see if he can jump-start something.  Here’s what we learned while I was on hold and he talked to Mr. Internet Tech Support Supervisor:

    1. They play exactly two songs in the hold queue for tv tech service.  A saxophoney “smooth jazz” rendition of Burt Bacharach’s Look of Love and some Latin-esque tune with a sort of faux paso doble beat.  (Badabadabung… chuggachuggachung… da, da, da, da dumbadumbadumb…)
    2. The internet people are in Canada.  The tv people are local.
    3. The supervisors in Canada don’t have a direct link to the local supervisors. 
    4. You can’t get priority-jumped into a queue, even if you’ve already waited in a different queue.

    Here is what the combination of the above three factors leads me to believe: Comcast has constructed an elaborate web of interaction that is designed to drive their customers completely and utterly insane.  An extra-padded cell is waiting if you, the customer, have any musical sensibility at all, for the combination of the two pieces of ersatz music on their hold queue is both random and tasteless, leading to the world’s most mind-bogglingly complex and maddening earworm. 

    Finally, a very whiny example of alleged humanity answers and tells me what Mr. Faux-Empathy told me yesterday.  She also holds it against me that I told Mr. Faux-Empathy that I didn’t want a tech to come to the house.

    “That was when I at least had internet service,” I growl.  I ask politely for a supervisor.  She tells me that none is available at the moment.  I say, “Okay, then – we’re going to wait until one does come available.”  She objects to this.  I point out that I had to wait on hold for an hour – she has issues with me asking her to wait?  My zen is fading fast.  John takes the phone from me at about this point, probably fearing that I am going to make like Mona Shaw, only possibly upping the ante to power tools.

    John extracts a promise from Ms. Whiny that her supervisor will call back.  Said supervisor is allegedly named “Miss Bunny.”


    At this point, I insist we get present-wrapping finished and boxes readied for mailing.  It is, after all, the effing Festive Season.  A few hours later, having no call from the mythical Mademoiselle du Lapin, I reaquaint myself with the works of Bacharach and Faux-Doble.  The speaker-handset follows me around the house for another hour as I skein and wash handspun, do laundry, tidy my office, hang myself (okay, not quite that last one).  It’s like having a really annoying and not-at-all cute puppy follow you around the house, requiring a constant, faint vigilence to ensure it doesn’t damage the carpet.

    Finally, needing a shower and feeling slightly dazed from puppy-minding, I hand the little bleater off to John, figuring it’s well within the realm of possibility that after an hour of this I can probably get clean and dry and still manage to be the one who deals this time with whatever primate the endless Comcast lottery spits out.  Ah, but no.  John is the lucky one.  He manages to get a supervisor pretty fast, and tells our tale of woe again, not omitting the fact that an unfulfilled promise of a return phone call from someone who has a name which sounds like an exotic dancer doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  (No, it’s apparently not her real name, but she does exist and that’s what her employees call her.  Again, I say, “Right.”)

    Upshot?  A promised visit from a tech this evening, not requiring either of us to take vacation time.  And it only took half our Sunday.  What luck.  Who wants to bet against the chance that the problem is outside?  Anyone?


    “No joy greater”

    Oh, I’m so proud.*  My hometown made the big-city newspaper. 

    This is why Northern Exposure, in all its loony, small-town glory made perfect sense to me.

    *You do see the correct use of sarcastic font, don’t you?

    My Childhood Nightmare

    This thing would send me screaming from the room.  Damn you, Children’s Television Workshop!

    Tap, tap…

    Is this thing on?


    Testing Feedburner.  I’m not sure I’ve got it configured correctly.

    Stop me before I macro again.

    There’s a group on Ravelry that has devoted itself to lolcat macros (of course there is – let’s not even pretend to be surprised, shall we?).

    For some reason, this has gotten me digging into the flickr files. And then, I have to share with you. It’s a bad cycle, but I am helpless in the lolcat thrall.

    Simon’s up first:

    Simon and zee clapotis

    (See first paragraph of this for explanation of caption)

    Then Dash:

    Dash - LOL

    Finally, Milo:

    Milo RIDES!

    …but we can’t forget the dog, can we?

    The dog gets in on the act

    I promise not to inflict these on you again. Kthanxbai.