Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ugh - when will the madness end

Are we ever going to get to a point where things like this don't happen any more?


Monday, February 25, 2008

we've got you covered

I need to rant about insurance for a minute.

I am beginning to think it's the biggest scam going. Really, is playing the lottery any different? I pay both my car and house premium every single month and what does it get me? Nothing, that's what.

My first complaint is about my car insurance premium. I am accident free. I am ticket free. My car is 3 years old. I do not drive a sports car. My car has not been modified. I do not street race. I am not a 20 year old boy; in fact, I now qualify for an age discount because I am over 35 (sheesh). I would assume that given all of these factors, my premium would go down, or at least stay the same as it was last year. Nope. It went up by $120. Explain this to me please. Does this make sense to you?

Second complaint - house insurance. I spoke to the adjuster this morning about my roof problem. You remember, it's leaking like a sieve. It's so bad, I don't even want to go into the bathroom at all. This presents a problem because I don't have another bathroom; I'm sure I have kidney stones in my future.

Anyway, the guy was an ass. Of course he was, 'cause I have a problem that might require them to lay out some cash. This guy went on and on about how I probably wasn't covered for this reason and that reason - the roofing guy hasn't even come to look at the roof yet, so how would he know. During the course of this conversation, I started wondering what circumstance they would cover and I'm beginning to think there isn't one. I'm sure they are going to come up with every excuse they can not to cover my roof. We'll see what happens; they don't know who they're dealing with.

At the very least, I can afford to get my roof fixed without insurance money. Some people aren't so lucky. I'm sure there are plenty of Katrina victims who have something to say about the insurance premiums they paid regularly. Is it too much to ask the insurance companies to live up to their end of the bargain since they expect us to live up to our end?


Saturday, February 23, 2008

price check, cash 3

I think I may have mentioned that I have a leak in the roof above my bathroom. Don't let the word 'leak' fool you; it is pretty much raining in my bathroom. It's not in one place either, it's in many places. Anyway, I needed to get some cheap towels to put on the floor to soak up all the water, so I went to the dollar store.

This particular dollar store is part of a national chain. The name of the store has the word 'dollar' in it and the tagline for the store - on all of their signs - is 'everything for a dollar'. I don't go to dollar stores that often, but I get the general idea; whatever I buy is going to cost me a dollar. Ok.

I picked up about 10 towels and headed to the cash. When I got to the front of the line, the cashier looked at me and said, 'you know each of these is a dollar, right?' Ummm. Really??? Can I think about this for a minute? Sheesh. wtf. I don't know if I look particularly stupid or not, but why on earth would she ask me that? I have no idea.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

speaking of (non) long weekends....

I don't know how it works in the States, but here, every time there is a long weekend, the gas price jumps by about 5c/L. I have a big problem with this because of the BS reason they always give. 'The price of oil has increased and we have to raise prices so we don't lose money.' Oh yes, the price always increases to coincide with the start of a long weekend and then magically decreases afterward. Do they think we're stupid? Why can't they just come out and say: 'Hey, it's the long weekend and we know you're probably going to drive somewhere for the weekend so we're going to raise prices to take advantage of you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Enjoy your long weekend.'

Seems weird, but this would make me feel better. It would still suck for sure but at least I wouldn't feel like someone was trying to snow me. As we all know, an increase in the price of oil today wouldn't really affect gas prices for months; that gas is going into the reserves and will be used way down the road. Also, the oil companies aren't exactly hurting for cash. Here are some fourth quarter net earnings for you....

Imperial Oil - $886M
PetroCan - $522M
Royal Dutch Shell - $6.6B
Exxon - $11.6B

Here's Halliburton too in case you were wondering (you probably weren't but I feel you should know anyway) - $4.2B. Also, their press release is good reading. Who knew there were favourable tax impacts and foreign tax credits available to them? hmmm.

Here I go, totally off topic again. Anyway, back to the original subject.....

Point is, the gas companies are cleaning up. Yes, I know I choose to drive and have to pay for that luxury, but they could really own up to their price gouging.


Monday, February 18, 2008

happy family day

Today is a brand-spanking new holiday in our region. It was announced a few months ago with much fanfare and excitement; who wouldn't want a day off in the middle of winter. hmmph. Well, turns out that the new holiday is not so popular. It seems that about 40% of people do not get the day off after all. There is some BS about the fact that companies who are federally regulated do not have to offer a provincial holiday to their employees. I'm sure you can guess whether I fall into the 40% or 60%. Bitter.


ps. Rainy left for vacation tonight, so you're stuck with me for a while. Good luck with that.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

snacks requiring an iron stomach

OK, so I've been known to eat pretty much anything on a dare, and also for my love of foreign snacks. But somehow I just can't bring myself to take a bite of these ones, brought back for me from Trinidad.

pepper fruit
Pepper mango and pepper plums. As you can see, they're a weird shade of red-brown. As you can't see, they smell rank. I haven't even opened the packages and the smell makes me retch. I'm sure this situation is amusing Sunny immensely because I sort of feel like I have to eat them. Suggestions as to how to train myself for this are welcome.

In other news, I've been busy taking a crazy long course this weekend and I'm off on vacation tomorrow. This is a darn good thing because the snow is making me squirly. The vacation has potential to be fascinating so I'll be posting here and there on the road. I think I'll be reading comments but I'm not sure I'll be able to comment back. Make sure to be super controversial and offensive where possible so that you leave me steaming. I love that.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

the worst foods in america

Remember when Rainy posted this? She might have been on to something, because Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing has been declared the worst food in America. Just looking at it is hardening my arteries. Check out the rest of the list too. Frightening.


deal or no deal

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Deal or no Deal. Trust me, I don't make a habit of this, but I was still recovering from my tropical disease so you'll have to give me a pass. The contestant was a young married woman whose greatest dream in life is to have a baby. Of course, living in the US, she cannot afford to have a baby because she has no health insurance. As well, she and her husband made a combined $13000 last year. How two people can live on $13000/year is a mystery to me; I assume they had some help from the parents. She applied to the show in hopes of winning enough money to afford the hospital costs to have a baby. Ok.

This was a special episode in which they had more than one $1M prize on the board. Clearly the chances that she was going to take home a lot of money was very high. As the show progressed, she kept getting higher and higher offers from the banker and she kept turning them down. Crazy. At one point, she ended up with over $600000 on the table. You would think that someone who makes such little money would jump at the chance to have 600K. Nope. She turned it down. This is incomprehensible to me. If you walk in with nothing, why on earth would you throw away over SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. Actually, I do know - greed. No amount is ever enough. Frankly, with her financial situation, she should have settled long before it got to this point. I think she ended up with just over 400K. Lucky - she could have lost it all.

Last year, I saw an interview with Howie Mandel and he said that the hardest thing about the show is that a lot of the contestants are in dire financial situations (no roof over their head, can't afford food, etc.) but they still turn down significant amounts of money on the off-chance they will get the big prize. I would have to give them an intervention.


misery loves company

The other day, both Rainy and I received a forwarded email with the event listing you see below. Why the person who sent it would think that either of us would be interested in something like this in the first place is a mystery for another day. What I'd really like to know is why people assume that you must be miserable if you are single. How offensive. Are people still under the impression that someone who is not coupled is sitting at home crying into a cup of tea and speaking to their 10 cats? Are you somehow impervious to misery if you are part of a twosome? Ridiculous.


RainyBow note: The best thing about this fab invitation is the line that says "Take part in all that is favorable to being 'single.'"

OK, so first, what do these people, who actually used the line "misery loves company," think is "favorable" about being single?

And second, why the hell is "single" in quotation marks? Are the people who were going not really single, just kinda single? Or are they married and pretending to be single? And what kind of event do people who are "married" in quotation marks go to? These are things that will keep me up at night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

i'm good with the snow we've got, thanks

Last night I had to get home from work in a lovely blizzard. After this snowfall, we had three times more snow in the first 12 days of February here than we usually get in the entire month. It's been a long last couple of weeks. I am thankful I have neither a driveway nor a walk to shovel.

On the way home, I kept thinking things weren't so bad. I was moving slowly, but I was moving. I made a few phone calls, wrote some emails, and listened to a radio documentary and a couple of CDs. After almost 2 hours on the road, I could see my house up the street and I thought maybe--stupidly and optimistically--the end was in sight. Then, on the way up a major (and unplowed) downtown street, I got trapped between a guy stuck in front and another stuck behind me. They got out to shovel and I just turned off my engine. I would have gotten out to help, but neither one of them had snow tires, and really, if you aren't going to have the right equipment to drive in winter and you drive anyway, that's kind of not my problem.

Except that it was, because I was trapped.

Eventually--2 and a half hours after leaving work--I did get home. I think I lost a few brain cells on the way as I cancelled my somewhat intellectual plans and watched the pilot episode of Big Brother, 'til death do you part. Wow.

Last year, in a blizzard that was much, much worse, I sat in my car for 3 hours and 20 minutes, trying desperately to get home. Hungry at one point, I got out of my car, and found a bag of BBQ chips in the trunk. I ate the whole bag, more out of boredom than hunger. They were probably really old but man, did they taste good. This morning I told one of Sunny's team members that my drive home last night was long. She laughed and asked if I'd managed to find a bag of chips in my trunk. Good times.



SunnyShine note: I'm all set with winter. I never need to see another snowflake again. I don't want to shovel any more. I don't want to climb any more snowbanks so Jethro and Princess can do their business. I don't want to trudge through the knee-deep snow in my backyard to get to my car.

Ummmm...did you really watch Big Brother? Really? Am horrified.

Monday, February 11, 2008


To maintain good standing in my family, I had to attend church yesterday. Now, I assume there are some faiths in the world that are tolerant, inclusive and rejoicing of all that is good in the world. The faith I was born into is none of the above. If I could change only one thing about my upbringing, it would be to take back my baptism by those horrible people.

Misogynistic, racist and ignorant are three words I would use to describe the three hours I had to endure yesterday. Yes, three hours. The service is long to begin with, but then they do it in two languages. My father's also a heathen and we spent the first of those hours in the back, giggling at things we found in our pockets, the weird outfits everywhere around us, the crazy divine liturgy (whatever that is--see, I really do know nothing) that was in the pew, and the priest's version of English, the comprehension of which required advanced training in cryptology.

After the first hour, it got really tedious really quickly.

After two hours, when the collection plate came around twice so that we could fund the church's "good works," the rage started to burn. "Good works" meant sending missionaries abroad, presumably to try to cure the locals of their heathen ways and show them the path of righteousness. Because that's worked so well for so many people.

And now I'll forget about the rage until the next traditional wedding, funeral or memorial at which I'll have to make an appearance. Maybe I can dig up my baptismal certificate as a memory of the joy in the interim.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

can't you just listen to the CD at home?

Sunny recently posted about the absence of common courtesy at cultural events. Well, a girlfriend and I have been subscribing to the local symphony for quite some time, and tenure means that we now have great seats. Last night those great seats made me lose even more faith in humankind. And yes, that's still possible.

Generally, I can live with somewhat crazy people sitting around me while I'm enjoying classical music. Last night I was OK with incessantly sniffing man who toe tapped to some random beat, and woman wearing garish neon pink tights and matching garish neon pink sweater with a tiny jean skirt in the middle (she was about 20 years too old to be wearing said outfit, and believe me, I'm not missing the irony of that statement coming from me and my new-found cougarness). I was even OK with dude behind me leaning so far forward in his seat that I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck. Icky, yes, but not grounds to go postal.

But the crazy guy next to me put me over the edge. Said crazy man arrived alone so presumably came to enjoy the music. And yet, at the beginning of the first piece, he removed his digital camera from the holder on his belt, then proceeded to run through every photo on his memory card, zooming and deleting here and there. At intermission, I mentioned that this was distracting and asked if he could refrain from further camera activity.

After intermission, my new crazy friend decided to spend the full 81 minutes of the next piece perusing the 2008-09 symphony schedule and filling in the order form for his next subscription. This involved much rustling of paper, fiddling with his pen and attempts to write on his knee. After about 20 minutes, I contemplated using my complaint-free world bracelet to strangle him. There doesn't seem to be a lot of positive energy seeping in from the bracelet yet, but I'm expecting it to start any time now.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

i always wanted to be a hand model

Check out what we got in the mail yesterday!



SunnyShine note: I have had a headache ever since you gave me my bracelet. I wonder if these things are related? It has been a week now - enough already.

Also, I have figured out how to work this system. Technically, if you complain twice in a row, you don't have to move the bracelet because it would end up on the same wrist it started on in the first place. You could easily get to 21 days of not moving the bracelet if you just complained in multiples of two.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

down with those rich people

Walking to a dinner a few blocks away from my house this evening, I stopped at a light. Two runners jogged on the spot next to me. Here's the bit of their conversation I overheard:

Moustached one: Well, obviously I'm supporting Obama. I mean, I can't support Hillary and I definitely couldn't have supported Edwards.

Spandexed one: Oh really? Why not Hillary?

Moustached one: I don't trust rich people. They're out of touch.

Spandexed one: Isn't Obama rich too?

Moustached one [scoffing noise]: What, like you've heard of rich black people?!

[They run away.]

OK, so Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Clarence Thomas, Will Smith, Colin Powell, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Mobutu, Allen Iverson, Michael Lee-Chin, Condoleezza Rice, Quincy Jones, Denzel Washington, Kanye West, Sani Abacha, Donald V. Watkins, Samuel L. Jackson, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Bob Johnson, Reginald F. Lewis, Robert Mugabe, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Al Amoudi....

I've temporarily run out of examples, but you get my drift.

I should also add that some of the people I know who are very well-off financially are the most connected to those at the opposite end of the spectrum, for various reasons (e.g. dedication to volunteer work). Does it matter if your candidate is rich or poor, in absolute terms? Doesn't it matter more if he or she gets it?



SunnyShine note: Let's set aside the obvious black people are po (some ebonics for you) foolishness for a sec. What is interesting is that neither Hillary nor Barack grew up with money - they're self-made. Sure, Hillary benefits from the Bill Clinton bottom line but don't forget that he grew up very, very poor. They didn't have much money until he was a much sought-after speaker after his presidency. I don't know that anyone should accuse Hillary or Obama of being out of touch. There are plenty of other arrows to sling, but that one seems to have a rubber tip.

Speaking of out of touch, some people grow up with silver spoon in their mouths and get handed oil companies and baseball teams to run/ruin. Then, they put on a war and get even richer than they were in the first place. I'm digressing, sorry.

ps. It's Black History Month. Go to an event. Educate yourselves: Nelson Mandela, underground railroad, black inventors, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Sharpeville Massacre, Hector Pieterson, apartheid, Steve Biko, Montgomery Bus Boycott

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

well, i like to read books too

... but I'm not sure I'd want to kill someone and go to jail as a means to that end. Just sayin.'



While checking our analytics today, I noticed that there are an inordinate amount of people who have found our blog while looking for something having to do with constipation. lmao. Here they are, for your viewing pleasure:

how to relieve constipation
how to relieve constipation immediately
how do i know if i'm constipated
+"relieve constipation"
+relieve +constipation
driving and constipation
hot yoga constipation
how to relieve constipation in a dog
how to relieve constipation in an hour
how to relieve constipation in one day
how to relieve constipation with yoga
relieve constipation immediately

I am starting to think that there is a constipation epidemic in the world. I did not know this; the blogosphere teaches so much.


RainyBow note: Ummm... thanks, Sunny. You think we got a lot of constipation traffic before this post--wait for the analytics after.

BTW, I told the friend whose relieve-constipation-by-heating-your-car-seats story is the genesis of all this misguided traffic. He is quite proud to be complainaway's number one source of lost and confused souls.

karma update #1

I woke up this morning to find water on my bathroom floor. I looked up to discover that my ceiling has sprung a leak. It's conveniently located 6 inches from the light fixture - here's hoping it doesn't travel any further. The contractor just left and will return on Friday to cut out the drywall to try to find the leak. Good times.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

my poor mother

My mom and dad just got back from a trip down south. As always, I bought my dad a few good books for the trip. He has this pesky habit of reading huge parts of the book he finds interesting out loud, to anyone who will listen. When they're in town, he can usually find some other unsuspecting person to read to. I for one have learned too much about several of his books because I've called and interrupted him in mid-read. On vacation, it's all about my mom.

Judging by her tone of voice on the phone just now, I don't think she appreciated my choice of books this time. Maybe next time I should give him some girly choices and see how that goes.


Monday, February 4, 2008

my karma has packed up and moved out

In general, I have the kind of life where things just always seem to work out. My mother has always said that I was born under a lucky star. I don't much believe in that myself but I do have to admit that things just naturally go my way. Is it because I'm not much of a worrier or that I always believe that things will be fine? No idea.

Those days are over.

Don't know what it is, but things have most definitely not been going my way lately. I think this realization finally hit me when I went to the funeral at the end of November. Here's the recap: guy collapsed on me on the plane, fell down a flight of stairs, earthquake.

I then passed a fairly uneventful month (as far as I remember but I'm sure I have blocked things out) until I left for Africa on vacation.

  • I had a series of delayed flights that caused me to spend about 12 hours in the airport in Algiers. That wouldn't have been so bad if the airport wasn't a smoke-all-you-want environment. I'm pretty sure a few years came off my life. I landed at my final destination at 4am. Joy.
  • A few days into my vacation, I had the WORST bus ride ever. Yes, I said ever, and I mean ever. It was 7 hours long. I had chickens at my feet. The bus was being held together by rope. I was sitting on top of the engine; the engine cover was gone so it was about 45C with no windows or ventilation.
  • I didn't get to do the two things that I specifically went there to do because......
  • Malaria.
I was hoping that would be the end of it but it seems to be continuing.

Saturday, I had a sewing machine store incident - which I will write about another time.

Sunday, I had someone in to install a new wall-mounted sink and low-flow toilet in my bathroom. When he took the sink out of the box, there was no hardware to mount it with. Great. I now have to get a metal worker to make the brackets for me. The toilet couldn't be installed either because the valve in my wall is in the wrong place. It needs to be to the right or left but it is exactly in the middle so the toilet can't sit flush (haha) against the wall. Great. I now have to get someone in to move the plumbing. The guy also told me that my original toilet wasn't bolted down; it was just sitting on the ground with silicone around the base. Apparently, whoever did it originally failed plumbing 101. Hopefully, I will get this bathroom finished in my lifetime.

Tonight, more crap. My best gay needs new tires so he asked me to order them from Costco. He's has been complaining non-stop about how his car is vibrating all over the road and he needs new tires IMMEDIATELY. The tires came in today so, of course, he made an appointment to get them changed tonight. I need to mention that I had to go get the tires changed - not him - because they were on my membership. I went right after work and arrived early for the appointment - just as they asked. It was supposed to take about an hour and a half so I roamed around the warehouse and eyeballed all of the fun Costco things that I would never use or want. I texted Rainy to see if she wanted 3 pairs of swimming goggles for $19.99 but she declined. I had an ice cream. I did a second and third run to pick up a few things and then went back to see if the car was ready. Silly girl. Why would the car be ready? They hadn't even put it up yet. I sat down to wait and the guy promised he would have everyone working on it as it was getting close to closing.

About 20 minutes later, he came back out and told me he couldn't find the lock nut(?). Is that what it's called? Whatever it's called, you can't take the tires off the car without it. I called best gay and asked where it was. Glove compartment, he said. Nope, not there. Best gay lost his mind on the phone and hung up to call his car dealer. All the while, I had been taking apart his car to find this thing. He called back and said it was with the spare. Wrong again. At this point, the Costco guy said there was no way they could get the tires done even if we found it. The store had closed and they were locking up. As a last resort, I started to take everything out of the trunk (while fielding the screaming phone calls) and had the guy take out the spare tire. Among the assorted lego pieces (your guess is as good as mine), papers, umbrellas etc., I finally found the piece they needed. Too little, too late. I wasted my entire night. Best gay is livid that he has to drive on these tires again. How about some sympathy for my wasted evening??

Can't wait to see what's in store for me next. I need to appease whatever karma genie I have pissed off. I'm not sure how to do that. Any ideas? Must.Find.Out.Soon. Am afraid.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

5 things that make me go hmmmm

1. Friday night over beer, I heard the sad story of how a friend's wife had left him. At around 3am he dropped me off in front of my house in a cab. As he was saying goodbye, he grabbed my hand and kissed the top of it. Unfortunately, I was wearing a pair of gloves, so he smooched a blend of wool and cotton. Yes, he was drunk, but still.

2. Yesterday I stopped at a store up the street to buy some gum. The guy behind the counter looked at me blankly as I pulled out some change. "Do you know the price of this?" he asked. Ummmm, no. He had to call someone to find out.

3. Late last week I went out for dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant with a friend. The server took one look at us and said, "Wow, I'm so glad to have city people now. Everyone tonight has been so suburban. I asked a family if they wanted sparkling or flat, and they looked at me like I was crazy. And I can't believe I had to explain to someone what dulce de leche is. Don't people know anything anymore?!" Wow, I'm so glad to be served by a complete asshole.

4. I pulled into my parking space last night just after 11pm and noted that the car next to mine had two windows knocked out and case upon case of potato chips in the back seat. Perhaps someone had broken into his vehicle to give him the gift of Lays?!

5. The piano is playing as I write this. It was playing yesterday too. The people next door persist in their piano escapades, even though the condo board has threatened to take legal action. Perhaps eviction has become the new cool thing?


Saturday, February 2, 2008

say something

Violence in Kenya. I don't need to write about it because we've all read about it and seen the footage. It's awful, and it's particularly awful because it shows that even the most stable of all African countries is still like a pile a wood. Drop a match and no matter how peacefully it's been sitting, it will erupt into flames. This has to stop.

Kofi Annan is there right now, trying to broker peace. But I can't help but think: where the hell are the Tanzanians? Where in particular is President Kikwete?

Let's remember that Tanzania hasn't exactly been a shrinking violet in the past. When the Ugandans invaded, the Tanzanians didn't just drive them out, they invaded Uganda in return, sending Idi Amin running. And Kikwete is known as a diplomat, having played a significant role in brokering peace in Burundi and the Congo (yes, it was a fragile peace, and it's over now, but still).

But lately African countries have been butting out of each others' business. The most tragic example of this, and I've ranted about this before, is Mugabe, who is still, 27 years later, bringing Zimbabwe to its knees, while nobody says anything.

So what's going on here? Is Tanzania just following other countries' lead and butting out? Or is it something more selfish? Part of me thinks the Tanzanians are contemplating the almost $1 billion that used to come into Kenya from tourism every year. That money won't be seen again in Kenya for some time. Has the possibility that some of this money may come into Tanzania instead become more appealing than saying anything to stop the burning tire necklaces, machetes and poisoned arrows across the border?

I feel sick thinking about it.


Friday, February 1, 2008

the piano debacle

I live in a condo building with great walls. I've never heard a thing from any direction. But, in December, the family next door got a piano for their small child. My beautiful silence was shattered by the sound of endless scales and Silent Night, played over and over, with the same cringe-inducing errors every time.

After a Saturday when I was flat on my couch with a head cold and listened to the piano for three brink-of-insanity hours, the condo board finally had professional sound testing done last week.

After I pestered the management for follow-up, I got a letter this week. The sound test showed the noise was intrusive, yada yada. Vindication. But then it ends with, "We have advised the residents not to play their piano until a solution to the noise transmission in place."

Solution? What solution to the noise transmission? You have people living on both sides, and above and below. The only noise solution is to return the piano to where you bought it and purchase a keyboard and headset to replace it.


RainyBow update (4 hours later): Jinxed myself. I worked from home today, and at around 2pm, while I was in the middle of something important (of course), the piano began again. I thought I was going to cry.

I called and emailed to complain. The security guard was up in 2-3 minutes and just said, "Yeah, I'm hear about the piano that you're not supposed to be playing." Apparently they were told that if they play it again, legal counsel will be retained and action will be taken.