kaasirpent: (DIAF)
Saturday, February 1st, 2014 01:48 am


Tonight (1/31/2014) was either Chinese New Year or the start of a week-long Chinese New Year celebration, depending on what source you subscribe to. That being the case, we decided to go to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. For the record, it's called Golden Palace, and it's off Riverside Parkway at the corner where it crosses Duluth Highway / S. R. 120 in Lawrenceville. Mmm, tasty.

I've been going in there regularly for going on 14 years. My housemate and I go in there about once per week. When friends come to town, I often take them there if they're in the mood for Chinese food. They know us, I know them. If we don't come, they ask us where we've been when we do come in.

We have a "usual table."

This is all just to set the scene.

The family that runs it works like dogs. The daughter ("Min") takes calls, does the cash register, and takes orders. Her brother ("Dai") delivers and takes orders. Dai's wife waits tables. The mom and dad work in the kitchen. Cousins, nieces, nephews . . . they're all in there from time to time. And they do this 7 days per week, every week, year-round, minus a day or two.

Tonight we went in, and someone had our usual table, so we sat at our second usual table (Did I mention we're regulars?). We ordered from a kid we've seen around a time or two. We figure he's a cousin or nephew in town for Chinese New Year. We could be entirely wrong.

We get our hot tea, soup, and appetizers. Dai brings his 8-month-old daughter over to our table so we can exclaim over how adorable she is (and she totally is).

While we're slurping soup, I hear Min on the phone with a customer. This is a normal occurrence. They do most of their evening business in take-out and delivery. But when Min said, "I'm sorry, we don't take credit cards over the phone," we perked up. Since when? We order all the time and pay with a credit card.

We heard Min arguing with someone for several minutes. She'd put them on hold, take another order, and then switch back and continue to argue. Finally, it got quiet. She came over to our table. Carrying the wireless phone.

She asked very apologetically if one of us could get on the line with this particular customer and please explain that the restaurant doesn't deliver to their area. Yvonne (my housemate) and I looked at each other, and I reached for the phone.

I pressed "Talk." Busy signal. They had hung up. But never fear, it rang again while I was holding it and Min looked at the Caller ID and nodded and then retreated from the table.

"Hello?" I said, then remembered, Oh, right, this is a restaurant. "Golden Palace."

"Oh, thank goodness," said a laughing woman. There was a muffled sound of conversation and laughter, and then a man's voice came on. Without preamble, I said, "I'm sorry, but we don't deliver to your area, anymore."

"What? That's crazy. Where are you located?" asked the man.

"We're at —" and my brain shut down. Luckily, Yvonne's did not. "Riverside Parkway," she whispered. "Riverside Parkway and 120," I finished.

"But, I don't understand," said the man. "Lawrenceville isn't that big. I'm from Miami." (I don't know, either.)

"I'm sorry," I said, and tried to mean it. "We just don't deliver to your area." (I had no idea what area that was, but I was reasonably certain that they do deliver to it.)

He tried to badger me a little and I just kept repeating that we no longer deliver to his area, and he finally hung up. And didn't call back.

After our main courses came, Min came over to the table and explained what was going on.

Seems that this man and his wife are staying at a hotel on the other side of Lawrenceville. They're from Miami (as stated) and don't have a car. So they order in. They called the first time and asked, "Are you guys from China?" When Min said they were, the wife said, "Oh good, because we don't want any American Chinese food. We want the real thing."1 They then ordered, and Dai delivered it. They paid cash. No problem.

Then they ordered again a couple of days later. Paid with either a check or credit card, I didn't get which. Again, Dai delivered to them. But this time, they called the restaurant a while later. "We ordered the chicken fried rice with no vegetables and the <some other dish> with no vegetables, and these have vegetables. We already ate them, but we think you should fix the order."

She complied, because they were really jerky, and she wanted them off the phone. They continued to do this night after night after night. They would call, Min would take their order, and Dai would deliver, and then they'd say something was wrong or that it never arrived, or that it was cold, and demand free replacement food.

The third or fourth time it happened, Min wrote out their exact order, the phone number and address, their names, and had them sign it before Dai left. They still tried to get away with free food. The badgering got so bad, Min told us they were keeping her on the phone for thirty minutes at a time, for up to two hours every night. Arguing about free food. Meanwhile, she's trying to run a business and take orders and seat customers, etc.

She told us that they had made some remarks about how the owners of the restaurant probably drove a bigger car and lived in a bigger house than this Miami douchebag and his douchenozzle wife. Very insulting stuff. And would demand to speak to someone who "spoke English."2

Which is where we came in. They know us well enough that they were comfortable asking us to do this. I wish I'd known the full story when I spoke to Mr. Douchebag and Mrs. Douchenozzle. I might been a little firmer.

Min said they seemed to be playing restaurants off each other, as well. Sometimes, they'd call, and it would be for another Chinese restaurant, like they couldn't remember which one they were trying to scam. When Min finally quit answering Douchebag's phone, he got Mrs. Douchenozzle to call from her phone. Or they'd call using the hotel phone.

After Min told us most of this, and where they were staying, I said, "But there are so many restaurants down there that they could walk to. Mexican, Italian, a burger place, a pub —"

"But if they did that, they'd have to pay. And all of those places speak English." This also explained the 'Are you from China' thing. They wanted to make sure no one there actually spoke English as a native language.

It was at this point that I wanted to punch Mr. Douchebag and Mrs. Douchenozzle in their stuck-up, bigoted, prejudiced, asshole faces. I was so mad, my hands were shaking. I'm not normally a violent person, but I might actually have done so if they'd been there trying to pull this crap in person. The nerve of people to try to get free food by pulling this kind of scam. And to be so obnoxiously racist while doing it was just icing on the asshole cake.

They never called back while we were in there. A good hour and a half. I hope they don't call back. Min said she couldn't block the number because they just kept on calling from different numbers.

May they soon go back to Miami whence they came, and trouble the good, hard-working Chinese restaurateurs of Lawrenceville no more. (And what I mean by this is "die in a fire, scumbags.")

[My guess is that they do this wherever they travel, picking on Asian restaurants. My bet is that they almost never have to pay for more than one or two meals. And I hope they choke on their chow mein.]



  1. It should be stated for the record that Golden Palace is very much an "American" Chinese restaurant. It is not authentic in any way, shape, or form, other than that the people who own and operate it are, in fact, native Chinese people. The food is very good, or at least we think so.
  2. I should also note, here, that Min has a distinct accent, but we get probably 95% of what she says, and we ask her to repeat if we don't. Dai . . . is less fluent, and we get maybe 60% to 70% of what he says, but we try to clarify, and context helps. Communication happens, and that's all that matters.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 01:09 pm
Evil emoticon by wstera2, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  wstera2 


This entry is part 6 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

So, first things first: Story time!

This is long, but it does at least tangentially relate to the rest of the post. So you should probably click it. )

Why did I tell that story? It will soon become obvious.

So. Back in October, we left our intrepid hero (me) with physical therapy appointments, finally. After a long, drawn out battle. I had my first six PT appointments. They seemed to help. I had a lot of exercises to do, and they all hurt like heck. But I did them.

And after six visits, it still hurt like heck, but there was a bit more mobility. But Some Company had approved "eight to ten," so we still had a little wiggle room. So we scheduled six more, and I went back to my doctor to get another order for PT, which he gladly gave me.

Fast forward to the tenth PT visit. Melissa told me that Some Company had told them they weren't paying for any more visits after the sixth one, because they had only approved eight to ten. (Don't think about this too long. I did, and I lost 7 IQ points, permanently. But I still remember Gilligan's Island episodes. Can't ever get rid of something that doesn't matter. But I digress.)

I pointed out that they had said "eight to ten," and that six is not equal to either eight or ten, based on my many years of mathematics. I mean, I'm not a nuclear physicist, but this is fairly easy math. But apparently not for Some Company.

We cancelled my last two appointments until they could straighten everything out, and Melissa said they had also sent in my doctor's request for six more.

I spoke to Jane in HR about the whole thing, and she once again got everyone involved, and Some Company said that they would, indeed, pay for ten full visits. Once we explained the math to them. And I don't even mean that facetiously. Jane had to actually say, "You said 'eight to ten,' and he had six, after which you refused to pay for any more. Six is not 'eight to ten.' He's had four more, and by your own agreement, you should pay for them."

But still nothing about the approval for the remaining ones my doctor felt were needed.

Then I got The Letter. <ominous chord>

In The Letter <ominous chord>, I was informed that a doctor I have never met in my life reviewed my case and decided that since I "had returned to work at full duty" (which I never left, I might add), further therapy was "not medically necessary," and that they would not be covering the last two visits, nor would they be covering any subsequent visits. Further, my case was closed, and that was the end of it, as far as Some Company was concerned.

I . . . might have exploded. All over anyone in audible distance. I . . . might have used some of those words I didn't use in 8th grade. I might, indeed, have invented a few new ones. And I might have marched, letter in hand, to HR.

The next email from HR — after Jane talked with Some Company and others — was that Some Company would be paying for the final two visits. They I would request my PT for a referral to an orthopedist. And we would go from there.

So, I asked the PT for a referral.

Crickets. When I finally got hold of them again (another week went by because I thought maybe they were mailing it), they said they didn't do that, and that Melissa was no longer employed there, and who was I again? I would have to talk with my regular doctor.

I went a few rounds on the phone with his office staff, as well, and basically found out that I can't trust his office staff to give him messages.

Finally, in frustration, I contacted HR again and got them to send me a list of 'approved' orthopedists. I picked one and made my own damned appointment.

Which was yesterday at 3 pm.

The first question he asked me was, "Has your elbow been x-rayed?" I said it had not. He made some remark under his breath that I didn't quite catch, and then sent me to get an x-ray.

They x-rayed my elbow. And developed the film. And put it up on the light box.

And from all the way across the goddamned room, I could see . . . something.

He called me closer. "Do you see this little dark line right here?" He pointed. I said I did. "That is the sign of a healed compression fracture. That's why your elbow has been hurting."

He said that fractures like this "always heal" and that the treatment is basically to keep using it as normal so you get full movement once it heals. But it would continue to hurt for 3 to 12 months. I assured him that I had been using the arm as normally as I could given the pain. He said that was good.

Well, that's nice to know.

He then wanted to schedule me for an MRI of my shoulder. Which meant I had to call Some Woman at Some Company and get that approved. I called, and it went directly to her voice mail.

Much amaze. So expect. Wow. I didn't even bother leaving a message.

A few minutes later, as I was checking out and the receptionist was getting ready to call Some Woman themselves, my cell phone rang. It was Some Woman! OMG! First call I've ever gotten back! Alas, I was so shocked that she had called me that I didn't manage to answer. But we knew she was at her desk. So the receptionist ("Martha") called her and got on the phone with her!

The conversation, edited to remove the back-and-forth between me and the receptionist, went something like this:

Receptionist: Hi, this is Martha at Orthopedists R Us. I have one of your clients in my office, and we need to schedule an MRI for him. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder. . . . He made the appointment himself; there was no referral. . . . He says he got our name from a list of approved medical professionals from his workers comp representative at work. . . . Martha . . . Orthopedists R Us. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder . . .

And it went on. Then, Some Woman apparently said she'd have to call back and let them know where to send me for the MRI.

Martha said she would let me know if and when Some Woman called her back. [I should note here, for the record, that the doctor and the nurse and the receptionist were all scandalized when I told them about the sixty days Some Company made me wait before getting PT. Apparently, that is not normal. My mishandling of the initial doctor visit is probably what it all stems from. Had I gone to an orthopedist from the get-go . . . but hindsight is 20/20.]

That was yesterday at 4 pm.

Another part of Jane's email from work says this: "Katie (the My Company workers comp program manager) will oversee / ensure that Some Woman is facilitating the approval in a timely manner."

What that said to me was that someone is now watching over Some Company and Some Woman in particular, and that I may finally get some reaction from them on a timely enough basis to do something about.

What? Why are you laughing? That's not very polite.
kaasirpent: (Bizarre)
Thursday, December 26th, 2013 02:05 pm
It turns out, reports of my death or abandonment of this blog are premature. :) I've just been . . . I was going to say 'too busy,' but that's both true and misleading. I've been busy doing other things. Not too busy; I simply haven't made time for blogging.

Last night (Christmas night), my housemate and I drove back from my mother's house where we spent Christmas, and hit Atlanta at just the right time for dinner. Sure, it was a Wednesday night, which is usually not all that crowded. But it was also Christmas night, meaning there were only a few places open, and they would all be crawling alive with people.

Still, we thought, "What the heck?" and tried one of the ones we knew to be open.

Upon hearing, "There's approximately a ninety-minute wait," we high-tailed it out of there and across town to our favorite Chinese restaurant, Golden Palace.

It was also "crawling alive" in that, instead of ours being one of maybe four tables occupied, there were three times that. (They do most of their business in take-out and delivery.)

We sat directly under the TV, which was blaring sitcoms that I neither recognized or cared to recognize. As we walked past "our" table (we almost always sit in the same place), I noticed it was occupied by a scruffy-looking guy in green pants, a red-and-green jacket, and a hat.

A few minutes after we ordered and shortly before we got our food, I heard it. Over the sound of the TV above our table. Over the sound of the canned music. Over the sound of the small TV behind the counter that the owners' (grand)kids watch ("WHOOOO LIVES IN A PINEAPPLE UNDER THE SEEEEEEA? SPONGEBOB! SQUAREPANTS!")

"Oh! Oh, this is the best food!" Followed by a lot of other exclamations of similar manner. It was the man in green pants I had noticed in "our" booth.

Mr. Stonedbob Greenpants.

Within five minutes, the entire restaurant had cleared. Yvonne and I were the only people left other than him. The kids behind the counter had been shuttled into the back of the restaurant and the Spongebob Squarepants episode turned off.

His exclamations turned to having a conversation with . . . no one. I half-stood in our booth and looked: no one was sitting with him. But he was clearly hearing and having a three-way conversation with voices that the rest of us couldn't hear. In these days of ubiquitous cell phones and Bluetooth, I reluctantly wrote it off as him being on the phone.

It was pretty innocuous. Until.

He started trying to drag the poor lady behind the counter into his "conversation." I noticed he didn't have his phone out, nor was he wearing anything easily identifiable as a Bluetooth accessory.

He addressed the cashier, tried to talk to her, but by this point, it was gibberish. Something about a war (he wasn't old enough for it to have been Vietnam or Korea, so maybe it's the recent stuff). One of his other voices apparently was getting agitated. Which agitated him. The girl behind the counter went and got her sister and maybe a nephew, younger brother, or cousin (it's a family business). The young man tried politely to encourage the man to leave the restaurant, but he would go out and come right back in. This happened a couple of times. He switched between praising the food, the restaurant, and the owners to muttering about war.

He paid, but didn't leave, instead attempting again and again to engage the owners in conversation. They avoided eye contact, and pretended he wasn't there. Every time he so much as glanced in my direction, I managed to find something on my plate of shredded beef Szechuan style extremely interesting (it was very tasty). Yvonne had her back to him and was safely out of range.

Then a family came in. Mom, Dad, a young boy and an even younger girl.

That's when Stonedbob Greenpants started to get a little worrisome. The 'war' conversation had been continuing, with more agitation. Now, he looked directly at the family sitting in a booth across the restaurant from him and began crying, "Give me your boy! Give me your boy, and I'll teach him! I'll teach him in my school! He'll really learn something!" And then devolved into muttering in his three-way conversation. I think I heard something that suggested the 'war' conversation and the 'teach the boy' conversation were tangentially related.

It was at this point that the girl behind the counter came around to the two remaining occupied tables and apologized. We brushed it off, but I was beginning to get concerned. What if he didn't leave? Did I need to call the cops and tell them a crazy man was potentially threatening a child in a public restaurant? He hadn't done anything physical, yet . . .

He was at the bar by this point, and I eased my phone out and was pondering what to do when Stonedbob Greenpants took out a cell phone and started to take pictures of us, the other family, the people behind the counter and the restaurant in general, including himself, several times, and the mirror behind the bar. All the while muttering.

He ate his fortune cookie, then left.

We were done by this point, and the restaurant suddenly felt a lot less tense. We tipped massively. I asked, "Was he OK?" and the cashier replied, "He is not OK! He was drunk or something before he came in!"

I offered to call the police, but she didn't want me to, so I didn't.

Yvonne and I left, and I looked off to our right. I could see him, staggering along the strip mall parking lot toward the busy cross street. As I watched, he was still audibly having a conversation with voices unseen, but it was now at full volume. He stepped out into the street in front of a car, which swerved and honked at him. He swung his fists at the car, as though trying to fight it. Still yelling. Then, it looked like he might have been throwing invisible snowballs.

Then he lurched and staggered out into the street, mercifully devoid of cars, and disappeared into the parking lot of a CVS drug store across the street from the strip mall.

I can't help but wonder what happened after that.

So, that was how I spent my Christmas evening. How was yours? :)
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Monday, October 28th, 2013 02:27 pm


This entry is part 5 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

Shortly after the last installment in this mini-memoir of incompetence compounded with stupid, I got very involved in some projects at work, and thus did not do my due diligence by calling the physical therapist. I mean, Jane had told me they approved it, and said they would be contacting me. So . . . Some Woman at Some Company would surely call me at some point, right?

Right?

Wrong.

A week went by (for those keeping track, it was now October 10). I finally got tired of waiting and sent Jane another email. It was during Jane's week of vacation, and her 'out of office' automatic reply said that she would be unable to access email, and would be back on the following Monday (October 14th). Meh. So I'd have to wait another few days. At this point, what was another few days?

About an hour later, I got an email from Jane. She had checked her email, seen my (rather despairing) email and replied. She said she would look into it.

A couple of hours later, I got a phone call from Some Company (I could tell by the caller ID it was the same company), but a different number than Some Woman's. It turned out to be "Nancy" (not her real name) who was two levels above Some Woman. She was calling to let me know that everything had been taken care of. I was approved.

I paused, and then said, "But . . . how do I access it? I mean, what do I need to tell my physical therapist so they'll know whom to charge?" (I did not say 'whom' but it's grammatically correct and this is my blog. :) I was looking for . . . I don't know, some sort of paperwork? A number to call? Something physical that didn't exist entirely in electrons and the faulty memories of several people.

"Oh, they have the information. You just make an appointment and you're covered for 8 to 10 treatments."

I thought, "Yay!" and let myself believe it was actually over. And then those projects I mentioned above got hot again, and I got distracted.

On the morning of the 21st (a Monday), I had an item in the USMail from . . . the physical therapist. I opened it. It was a bill for $300. Um.

So I called, having intended to do so anyway to set up my remaining appointments. Only to find out that the reason they billed me is that my insurance rejected the claim because they still had no information from anyone about worker's comp. I asked if they had heard from Some Company, because they had told me . . .

Nope. Never heard of them. They only billed me because they hoped I might know who to actually contact.

I . . . might have blown my top. Just a small amount. Either that, or my outburst of expletives had nothing at all do with how very, very quiet it got in the surrounding cubes. I'm fairly certain it was just a coincidence.

I sent a very carefully worded email to Jane. It started, "I have officially lost whatever amount of patience I might have had left with these people. Can you arrange a conference call with you, me, someone from Some Company, and whomever here has been dealing with this issue? I don't trust them unless I have someone else listening." I also said, "I'm not interested in fault. I'll accept whatever blame there is to accept. What I want is an appointment with the physical therapist and to not have to pay $300."

So about 3 hours later, this call happened. And Nancy threw me to the wolves. As expected. I don't think she quite understood that I was in the room listening to the conversation. Because she had a pretty snotty tone until I did speak up and say something.

"On the 10th when I spoke to Mr. [Kaa], I indicated that he should ask to speak directly with Melissa [NHRN] at [the Physical Therapy office]. It was her that I spoke to on the 10th when I called. And, in fact, it was to her that Some Woman spoke this morning when she called to check on the disposition of this case."

Now, when I talk to these people, I take notes. Copious ones. And at no point did I write down 'speak directly to Melissa.' And my call to the physical therapist must have occurred before Some Woman called. It's nice to know that she does, apparently, call some people back.

But. What. The. Fuck. Ever.

Nancy agreed that Some Company would take care of the $300 bill if I faxed it to them. I called Melissa and made an appointment for the next morning.

I now have six more appointments scheduled. One today (Monday the 28th) at 4:30 pm, one Wednesday the 30th at 4:15 pm, one Thursday the 31st at 4:30, and three the following week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all at 4:30 pm. Since we couldn't do mornings, I opted for 'very late.'

So. That's why I'm arriving at work at 6:30ish am this week. so I can leave the office around 2:30 pm in plenty of time to battle Atlanta traffic to make the 45-minute drive in two hours. Or so I hope. We'll see, I suppose.

The only issue remaining open (Did you hear that? It sounded like . . . like an ominous chord. Surely just a mistake, right? Right?) is the $300 bill that I received and faxed to Some Company shortly after our conference call. To which I never received an acknowledgement.

But I'm sure that's just an oversight. I'm sure they got it. I'm sure they're, even now, as I type this, moving forward on that lickety-split.

Surely.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Thursday, October 24th, 2013 11:33 am
fate, luck or Sleight of hand by g_cowan, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  g_cowan 


I just got a call from the plumbing company that I hired earlier this year (back in February) to install my tankless water heater.

The woman said, "Hi, Mr. [Kaa], I was going through our records and noticed that we did some plumbing work back in February for you. We have a special right now on water heater flushes. Would that be something that would interest you?"

Now, keep in mind, these are the same people who had me set up what amounts to a line of credit with my bank so I could pay them for the tankless water heater installation in monthly installments using a credit card instead of in one lump sum . . . and then promptly forgot to bill me for several months until I called and reminded them. When I reminded them, they said that two people had quit, one who did their accounting and one who did their billing, and I fell through the crack created by that transition. "We would have figured it out, eventually, though!" o.O

I chuckled and then said, "Uh . . . well, since the work you guys did for me back in February was to install a tankless water heater, I'm going to pass, thanks."

These guys are not instilling me with an abundance of confidence, at this point. I think maybe my next plumbing job will be done by someone whose right hand is at least in the same time zone as their left hand.
kaasirpent: (Silly)
Friday, October 4th, 2013 02:55 pm
Wild Boar by siwild, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  siwild 


You've no doubt heard the old expression, "as useless as teats on a boar hog." Or, as I've more often seen it spelled or heard it pronounced, "tits on a boar hawg."

I propose that we immediately throw out this standard of uselessness and replace it with one that is more timely.

"Useless as a politician."

Now, granted, absolutely nothing is ever going to be quite as useless as a politician, so the phrase would have to always be used in the negative.

Examples:
  • Nothing is as useless as a politician.
  • Her boyfriend may be good-for-nothing, drug-using piece of shit, but at least he's not as useless as a politician.
  • That woman is almost as useless as a politician, but at least when she dies, her organs can be harvested and might save a life.


Etc!

So, let's get on this. Start using it in print. Let's do this.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 11:57 am
Hurdles by .oskar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  .oskar 


This entry is part 4 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

After DEFCON 1, I realized that I was very close to saying something that would get me in hot water with either my own HR people or the people at Some Company. Certainly, calling Some Woman a lying, incompetent waste of human DNA would not have endeared me to her, that was all I had left. So . . . I punted up to HR and I backed the hell off.

I communicated with "Jane" (not her real name; the HR director) a few times, checking on progress. Which was slow.

Unfortunately, I had a slight incident with some data and lost several days of notes on this and other topics. So I'm working solely from memory, here.

On the 17th, pretty much out of the blue, I got a call from Some Woman at Some Company. She had, she said, just called the physical therapy place and was waiting on a call back from them. She said she would call me back and let me know the outcome of that call.

That was the last contact I had with anyone over this until yesterday. Not trusting my temper, I didn't write about it, nor did I do more than note to Jane in HR (and my boss) that I had had the contact and was very pointedly not expecting a call back, given our history.

Flash forward to this week. I finally finished the project I was working on and before I could get wholly sucked in on the next one, I decided to give Some Woman a call. Of course, I got her voice mail, complete with "I will return your call promptly."

I left a message for her to call me back, and you'd have to be either deaf or completely unable to judge tone of voice not to know that I've reached the end of my patience. I think my last sentence was something like, "Look, all I really need from you is just a call saying 'yes' or 'no.' Really. That's it."

I called the physical therapist's office. I asked if they'd had any contact with either Some Woman or Some Company. Can you guess their answer? Can you? Because I could. I already knew before I dialed.

They said they had heard nothing at all. I may have . . . voiced a tiny bit of frustration. She explained to me that because I checked the "work injury" box on my form, the insurance company would reject it instantly, and that the only other recourse I had was to pay for it out of my own pocket. I thanked her for the information and said I would try to light some fires on my end of things.

I sent another email to HR.

The last time I heard from [Some Woman] was on the 17th of September. She was going to call [PT Place] (the rehab place). She said she had left a voice mail and would let me know something after they called her back.

Well, you can guess the rest. I have heard NOTHING. Nada. Zilch.

I called [PT Place] today and they said they had no record of any such contact.

What is the progress from our end?


For about an hour after that, I typed and deleted several tweets to @SomeCompany. And another email to HR. And one to the corporate office at Some Company. All of them were, frankly, hostile and bordering on insubordination (hence the 'deleted' part). Finally, I just left the office.

This morning, in my email box, was the following from Jane.

[Kaa] –

I received a response back from our Account Manager and one of the team leads at [Some Company].

They have given authorization for 8-10 PT visit per the doctor recommendations.

You should be hearing from someone with [Some Company] – but I wanted to go ahead and update you on this information as soon as I had it. I'm so sorry for the issues that arose. Hopefully it will get smoother.


Victory? Maybe? I have a missed call on my work phone, but the phone system didn't record who it was from or when it was missed. Maybe it was Some Woman. More likely, it was left over from last night when the contractor who did my window replacement a couple of weeks ago called me about something. (My phone number rings both my cell phone and my office.)

Who knows how long it will take for all the pieces to align at this point, but after two solid months of trying, I finally got the one-word answer I've been asking for all along. I didn't honestly care if it was 'yes' or 'no.' I still don't. I just wanted it over and done with.

The moral of my story is this: Unless you want to go through all nine circles of the Inferno, all nine rings of Mount Purgatory, a detour through Mordor (which one does not simply walk into), and emerge doubleplus goodfully, loving Big Brother, you'll not report anything as an on-the-job injury. Take it from me: it's not worth the hassle. If I could go back in time to the 31st of July, I'd tell people at work I got hit by a car a block from work. I'd be done with PT by this point. And I would never have encountered Some Woman at Some Company, and my frustration would not now be co-orbiting with the ISS.


By the way, I'm so, so very sorry for putting that song in your head. I really am. Really.
kaasirpent: (DIAF)
Monday, September 30th, 2013 04:03 pm
I was at the mall the other day to take my computer to the Apple Store. My Macbook has been having problems, and I figured it was time to let the Geniuses handle it. I'm not being snide, here; that's what the employees at the Apple Store are called: geniuses. I had an appointment, and I was about twenty minutes early.

I parked as close as I could, which — as usual — was at the Belk store closest to the Apple Store. I successfully threaded the competing displays of Halloween and Christmas (Honestly, does this not make anyone else sick?) and made my way upstairs so I could go directly from the Belk just around the corner to the Apple Store.

As I walked through the mall, I noticed a big crowd of people downstairs from me. There was a lot of murmuring, squealing, and flash bulbs. But I didn't have time to loiter.

I made it to the Apple Store just in time for my appointment. I gave The Shiny (my MacBook) to the nice, bearded young man (Is there some rule that male Apple Geniuses all have to have beards?) named Paul. I explained what was going on with the computer and he said he would plug the diagnostic tool into it and let me know if it was something easy, like the graphics card or a bad USB port. Something fixable.

The Apple store was crawling alive with people. Must be something about the end of the month or back to school or something. He told me it would take about an hour if I wanted to wait. Well, of course I want to wait. I can't leave The Shiny overnight.

The withdrawal would be unbearable. :)

I couldn't stand being in the Apple store with all those people, so I wandered back down toward where there are some couches to sit and read on my phone.

I heard that crowd down below again, and figured, "Eh, what the hell. I have time to at least take a look."

There was a large crowd of mostly adults, but some older kids, and frequent flashes from cameras and squeals of delight. "Gotta be puppies or kittens or something," I murmured. "Maybe the ASPCA is sponsoring adoptions."

Then I saw the bright pink sign. A big cartoon close-up of a smiling, toothless baby, its blue eyes practically luminous. Underneath, it said, "PHOTOGRAPH WITH A BABY - $15"

"What the . . . ?" I edged a little closer to see what was going on.

There was a large, fenced-off enclosure. Inside there was a floor that looked like Pergo or linoleum of some kind. The floor was scattered with assorted toys, all brightly colored. Also inside the cage were a bunch of babies.

Yes. Naked babies of all races and both genders. They all looked to be of crawling age, although quite a few of them weren't crawling. Some of them were piled together, dozing, in a big pile of stuffed animals. Others were crawling lazily around on the floor. Adults wearing pink shirts were on their knees cooing to the babies, shaking toys at them and trying to attract their attention.

Dumbfounded, I pushed in a little closer, and got called a very unpleasant name by an older lady whom I apparently offended. I was just in time to see a woman with a couple of older teenagers point at a little Asian baby girl hesitantly crawling away from one of the pink-shirted adults with toys toward the pile of dozing babies.

A man standing in the gate gestured to the baby the woman had pointed at and raised his eyebrows. "That one?"

"Yes!" the woman exclaimed, bouncing on her toes. The man turned away and I heard her say to her two children, "Oh, isn't she just the most adorable little thing?" The boy rolled his eyes.

The man went over to the baby girl and unceremoniously picked her up. She started crying, but the guy held her under her arms, bouncing her up and down, and blowing in her face until she grimaced toothlessly.

"I don't want that one if she's going to be crying," said the woman with the two kids. She was frowning and both of her kids were starting to complain.

"Mom, what if she spits up?" one of them asked.

"Hush," she said. "These people know what they're doing, honey."

The man inside the cage must have overheard her. He smiled. "Don't worry, ma'am. I'm resetting her, now. She'll be ready for your picture."

I looked at the baby girl more closely. I could see her ribs, and it was clear from her pallor that she wasn't healthy. Snot ran out of her nose, and from the look of it, she was either drugged or so sleepy that her eyes were barely open, and her head lolled.

Meanwhile, other people were pointing at other babies. Some of them were waked from a sound sleep and, if they cried, given the same treatment as the little Asian girl. A couple were slapped on their bare buttocks or on the face to wake them up.

At one end of the cage was a mock-up of an idealized nursery. Rocking chair, toys, building blocks — it looked like a perfect baby's perfect room, right out of a movie set.

The woman and her two teenagers were led into that end of the cage and the teenage girl sat in the rocking chair, first.

"How do you want her?" asked the man, still holding the feebly protesting baby girl.

"Ew. I don't want her all naked. Can you put a dress on her, maybe? Or a bonnet? Her hair is ugly."

Her hair was, indeed, ugly. Matted to her skin and patchy.

I watched while the man expertly draped a too-large "dickie" of a bright pink, frilly dress around the squirming baby, and then tied a bonnet over her hair. It looked to me like he tied it too tight.

He roughly wiped the snot from the baby's face with a towel of questionable cleanliness and handed the baby to the girl, who held her awkwardly under the arms with both hands, a look of terror in her eyes.

The man stepped up and said, "No, like this." And he showed her how to hold the baby on her lap so that her face was toward the camera. "Do you want a bottle, or just go like this?"

"Like this," the girl said firmly.

The baby's head lolled and I could tell even from where I was that she was sleepy. The man grabbed her roughly and bounced her until she opened her eyes and blearily looked back at him. He then handed her back to the girl, arranged the dress and bonnet, and quickly stepped back to operate the camera.

Just a second before he snapped the photo, the teenager shrieked. "Ew! Oh, my God, mom! She peed on me!" The girl shoved the now-dripping baby away from her at arm's length.

The man sighed and came and took the crying baby. "Do you want me to get another one?" he asked.

The mother looked ready to spit nails. "No, we do not want another one!" She grabbed her daughter's hand and said, "Come on, Chelsea. Let's go get you cleaned up." She practically dragged the girl from the cage, followed by her younger brother.

The guy inside the cage ripped the dress dickie off the baby, pulled off the bonnet, and tossed the sodden pair into a bin. He handed the now wailing baby to another man, who held her up by one arm and sprayed her with a hose. I could smell the disinfectant from all the way across the cage. The baby was now wailing and crying loudly. I guess the water was cold.

I felt faint and ill. What the hell was going on, here? Was this even legal?

I elbowed my way back out of the crowd and worked my way around to the side where another employee of whatever this place was stood. He was wearing a pink shirt like all the others, complete with a grinning baby-head logo on the pocket.

"Excuse me," I said.

"You'll have to go to the end of the line, like everyone else, sir," he said without even looking up.

"No, I'm not in line. I just have a question."

He looked up at me, annoyance clear on his face. "Yeah?"

"Where are these children's mothers? I mean, are they — ?"

"It's all in the brochure." He shoved a glossy brochure at me. I backed out of the crowd and went to stand a few feet away near a support column and took a look at it.

"VAN DUREN FOSTER HOME" was emblazoned across the top in neon blue lettering. I quickly thumbed through it. Pictures of happy, grinning, fat babies being held and fed by what looked like older teens. Nothing like what was going on scant feet from me.

I started reading. They claimed to rescue homeless teens. They provide them sanctuary — a safe place to live, medical care, room, board, and clothing. Help them kick drug habits. Educate them. And any children born to them during their stay are taken to foster care, and also "displayed for public education and entertainment."

What?

So that's what this was. I wondered if the parents of these babies even knew what was happening to their children. I felt sick to my stomach. I ripped the brochure in two and looked for a trash can. How on earth can they legally keep this up? Why aren't there laws?

"Sir?" I turned around to face the voice as someone tapped me on the shoulder. An older woman smiled at me, crows feet around kind, brown eyes. "You look like you could use this." She held out a cup of water.

I took it. My hand was shaking. "Thanks," I said, then took a sip.

She held out a hand and I took it. "My name is Tricia Phillips. We're here protesting." We shook hands and she gestured toward a small group of about seven people standing over to one side, carrying signs. And being ignored.

She led me over to her group. They all welcomed me warmly, then showed me pictures they had of the Van Duren foster home. Teenagers living in barbaric conditions, not much better than packing crates. Barely big enough to move around in. No heat or air conditioning. Mud everywhere. Open latrines swarming with buzzing flies. It looked like a third-world refugee camp. No trees or any kind of shade. The teens' eyes looked dull and lifeless in the photos. Haunted.

"Those were taken about a week ago," Ms. Phillips explained. "A couple of former employees of Van Duren smuggled the pictures out to us."

As I flipped through the pictures, I noticed that most of the girls were pregnant. I commented on it.

"Yes, well . . . where do you think these babies come from?"

I felt sick again. "They're breeding them?"

She nodded, compassion in her eyes. "Some of these poor children are related, but Van Duren doesn't even care. They encourage them do whatever they want. We suspect they're drugged most of the time and aren't even aware of what they're doing."

"Holy shit," I said. "Isn't this illegal?"

She smiled sadly. "Well, of course it is. There are all kinds of laws, but they're seldom enforced."

I couldn't take my eyes off the pictures of the pregnant teenagers. So young. "What happens when, when . . . ?" I choked on the bile in my throat.

"Turned back out onto the streets. The infants used in these awful mall things end up in foster homes or wards of the state or worse. There are child pornography rings that pay good money for children as young as eighteen months."





I'm going to stop here. At what point did you figure out I was writing fiction? Are you appalled? Disgusted? Infuriated? Do you want to call me terrible things for being sick enough to come up with something this disgusting?

Because guess what? Take out the human babies and the homeless teens being raised as breeding stock and substitute tigers, and it's all true.

You read that right. All true.

There are places that set up in malls that allow the public to pay to have pictures taken with tiger cubs. Cubs that are very young and need proper nutrition, enough sleep, and whose immune systems aren't strong, yet.

These poor, innocent creatures are bred ruthlessly by people who claim to be "rescues" who operate "sanctuaries" for big cats. They claim to be working with conservation efforts, and that the only way to raise money for their good work is to take these cubs around for public display.

They claim that the cubs enjoy it. That blowing in their face calms them down. That holding them dangling from under their front arms and bouncing them up and down "resets" them. (What does that even mean?) That constantly being poked, prodded, handled, and grabbed by dozens of people, day in and day out for weeks at a time isn't harmful to them. That bright lights and flash bulbs aren't harmful to their sensitive eyes. They claim that they're well fed. That's it's 100% safe for humans and the cubs.

That the exhibitor is doing this to "teach people" not to have exotic animals as pets.

And they tell people that the cats will go to good homes when they get too big for petting.

Lies.

The reality is very different. They're kept in tiny cages, forced to breed constantly, and since white tigers are popular, they inbreed their stock to produce more of them. When they get too old, the cubs end up in roadside "zoos" where they are forced to lie on hot concrete in direct sun year round in a cage barely big enough to stand up or turn around in. Fed insufficiently and incorrectly. Given no shelter.

Often, they are killed for their fur and the body is cut up and sold illegally. There is good money to be made on the black market selling tiger parts, where they are prized for their supposedly magical properties. There are still countries in which the fur trade has no limits to the types of animals that can be used.

These cubs are torn from their mothers too early, causing distress to both the cubs and their mothers. They're not allowed to imprint naturally on their mothers, but instead imprint on their human captors. Babies of any species need lots of sleep, but these are not allowed to get enough. They are constantly poked and prodded to be kept awake. Tiger cubs want to explore instinctively. But when they try, they're restrained. They spend hours in small cages inside trucks being carted from place to place so people can have their pictures taken while petting or feeding them.

The cubs are constantly sick and often have diarrhea, which goes untreated, so the cubs are irritable and in pain from the constant wiping by their human captors. Those cute little "roars" are screams of pain.

I get apoplectic with rage over this. I've been trying to come up with a way to show how awful it is, and I finally came up with this. I hope it makes you think, next time you hear of one of these events. If you've ever been to one, stop. If you know people who do, show them this post. If a mall near you advertises such an event, contact the owners. Let them know what is really going on. Encourage them to pass.

And hopefully, everyone who reads this will follow this link to an article entitled "The Truth About Tiger Cub Petting Displays in Malls" from Big Cat Rescue, which is where I got most of the details for my little story above. No infringement is intended. Any mistakes in facts are mine, not theirs.

I'm not affiliated with BCR in any way other than that I contribute to them, and try to spread the word like I'm doing right now. I love big cats, and it makes me furious to hear how they're being mistreated. They're such beautiful, powerful, amazing animals, and yet . . . we treat them like garbage. But I believe it's mostly out of ignorance that we still permit this kind of thing to occur. We still want to believe the best of people, and when we're told that it's safe for the animals and that they're being taken care of, and all the money is for research and conservation, we want to believe it.

There is actually one part of the fictitious tale of human baby petting zoos that is complete fiction and is not based on the plight of these tiger cubs. There are few laws against this, or very few. There are laws, for instance, that regulate the ages at which these creatures can be exploited: 8 weeks to 12 weeks. Yet it is commonplace for these tiger petting zoos to ignore the regulations, because resources for enforcement are limited.

But there are bills in Congress to prevent any private ownership of several species of big cats. You can help get these laws passed. Contact your congressperson and representative.

Thank you for indulging me this far, and I do hope you'll keep this in mind for the future.

Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer: All names used are fictitious and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is unintentional. The names Belk® and Apple® are used to set up the framing story and are in no way affiliated or associated in any way with the kind of practice portrayed herein. As far as I know, there is no such place as Van Duren Foster Home, and the fictitious name was picked at random. If any such place exists, I apologize and will change the name. Big Cat Rescue does exist, and as stated, I am not affiliated with them in any way whatsoever. They had no prior knowledge of this post and were not consulted before publishing.




Originally published at Insert Something Pithy Here. You can comment here or there.

kaasirpent: (Meme)
Thursday, September 19th, 2013 07:08 pm
Which Button?

So this meme is going around. You're presented with these eight buttons of various colors, and I assume you can pick one to press and it bestows upon you the power described thereunder.

I saw it and thought that rather than give a one-word + one-sentence answer, I'd blather on for several paragraphs and treat it seriously. Because apparently I have nothing better to do right this second. :) And I'm going to tag it 'writing' because one of my characters has a couple of these abilities, and quite of bit of who he is is based on the ability and the problems it causes in his life.

But I will hide it so you don't have to scroll if you're reading this on your friends page. Because that's the kind of great person I am. )
Yeah, I'mma go with Blue. Because flying. But my hand would hover over Green for a long time before pressing Blue. :)
kaasirpent: (Enraged)
Thursday, September 12th, 2013 05:02 pm
DEFCON 1 by bovinity, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  bovinity 


This entry is part 3 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

I left messages with Some Woman at Some Company asking a simple question: Did you get the information my doctor's office faxed over to you on 9/11? It's a simple question. It only requires a simple, one-syllable answer: Yes (yay!) or no (rats!).

So, today, I got tired of it. Rather than wasting more time with Some Company, I decided to escalate things from my own side of things.

"Jane" [not her real name; manager of HR for my division of my company], I need your advice.

I know [My boss] has kept you up to date with the situation regarding my workers comp claim resulting from my fall on July 31st in our parking lot. The doctor sent me to physical therapy on the 19th of August, and there I found out that they can’t bill anyone until they know who[m] to bill, so I can’t schedule another visit unless I pay for the entire thing out of my own pocket.

That’s where [Some Company] comes in. They are, basically, holding my healthcare hostage while calls are not returned and while they ask for one more thing from my doctor, but they never contact me until late in the day or only after I’ve wasted days leaving voice mails trying to get hold of them. For instance, before I left for vacation, I asked the doctor to fax them what they said they wanted, and when I returned a week later, I called for two solid days before I finally got hold of [Some Woman], only to have her say, “Oh, your doctor hasn’t faxed the information I asked for yet.” I mean, at what point were they going to tell me this? I’ve had to make two personal visits to the doctor to get them to fax yet another document, and at each stage, I find out that [Some Company] needs just one more thing.

My frustration level is at DEFCON 1. How firm am I allowed to get with them? How far up the ladder am I allowed to push this, or will ‘let me speak to your manager’ even work with them? I’ve had it with them. At this point, I just want an answer from them, whether it’s yes or no, because by the time someone finally gets around to it at the rate they’re going, the PT will take longer because my muscles and tendons have gotten weaker.

This has been ongoing since the 20th of August.


"Jane" replied within twenty minutes:

[Kaa] –

I have submitted a ticket to our HR Support Center – the folks who are the HR benefits/workers comp experts. I have asked them to escalate this issue – and for someone to help intervene with [Some Company]. Stay tuned.

Thanks,
"Jane"

PS By the way ---- I am so sorry that you have been experiencing such frustration and difficulty with [Some Company]. Hopefully we can get this escalated to someone who can help.


So now the ball is in someone else's court. I'm basically done being the least bit civil. If Some Woman ever does call me back — which is not a foregone conclusion at this point — I'm tempted to say, "Please hold," and conference in our HR people. Let her explain to them what the hold up is in telling me whether a goddamned FAX made it or not.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 12:55 pm


This entry is part 2 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery: Part 1 | Part 2 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You may remember a post I made last month about how I injured myself in a fall at work. The doctor at the time told me that it was not broken, nor did I have any sort of rotator cuff injury, which were the two things I was most concerned about. I took Ibuprofen and basically went about my normal business, expecting my arm to get better.

Only it didn't.

I mean, it did, but not fully. By the 19th of August, nearly three weeks past the date I had fallen, I went back to my doctor and told him that it still hurt like hell to move my arm in certain ways <insert old joke "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Well, don't do that!" <laughter> here>, and that I was getting tired of not being able to use my dominant arm.

I must interject a "rest of the story" point or two, here. The first time I went to the doctor, I did not mention the term "worker's comp" or "on the job injury" or anything of that sort. I fell in the parking lot, it was no one's fault, and, hey, he said it would get better, right? I told my boss about the fall, and he duly reported it to HR. Who reported it to someone else, and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and eventually it made it up to the Office of Homeland Security. Or something. I am fairly sure the NSA was involved. I don't really understand how the whole system works (clearly), but the upshot is I got a call from Some Woman at Some Company who asked me a bunch of questions, expressed skepticism about workers comp paying if the incident took place in the parking lot (unless my company owns the parking lot . . .). She would call me back, she said, if she needed any more information. That was on, like, the same day I posted that earlier post.

So anyhoo, on my second visit on the 19th, my doctor referred me to a physical therapist down the road from his office. I called the number and made an appointment for the next day.

I went early on the morning of the 20th of August and within 5 minutes of having me perform various motions with my joints, the doctor took me over to a large anatomical chart showing the bones, muscles, and tendons of the arm and shoulder, and showed me exactly what I had done to myself. The gist is: tendons. I did bad things to the tendons that hold my upper arm in place so that it doesn't scrape painfully against my shoulder blade when I move it. The whole 'jamming' thing, probably.

He gave me some exercises to do every two hours, some to do twice per day, and sent me on my way.

On my way out, I paused at the desk to schedule my next appointment.

And that is when my tape turned crimson.Click to read the rest. )
kaasirpent: (Rant)
Monday, August 26th, 2013 02:13 pm


Me, using Kindle DX:
Menu
[Scroll down to and click]
Sync & Check for Items


Kindle DX:
Turn wireless on?
Your Kindle wireless is turned off. Do you want to turn wireless on?
[cancel] [ok]


Me:
"Well, duh. Didn't I just specifically . . . ?<sigh>
[Clicks [ok]]


Kindle DX:
[connects]
[syncs]
No new items.


I turn wireless back off and power down Kindle DX. I then grab my smaller Kindle and run through approximately the same steps, except I have to login on my work wifi, which means typing using the five-button interface, which blows, but hey.

Me, using Kindle 4:
[opens book]
[It's on the wrong page, because I read some of it on the DX. I want to sync.]
[menu]
[scrolls down to and selects]
Sync to Furthest Page Read


Kindle 4:
Syncing to Furthest Page Read

You are currently at location xx. The furthest read location is xxx, from "Gary's DX" at hh:mm PM EDT today. Go to that location?
[cancel] [ok]


Me:
[clicks on [ok]]


Kindle 4:
Are you sure you wish to...


No! By golly-gosh, I'm not sure! I just went through several minutes of deliberately navigating to and clicking on menu choices randomly and have no desire to do the goddamned thing I actually asked you to fucking do, and even verified that, yes, that is what I wanted to do!

<pant pant>

Sorry. But I just loathe it when people don't give design decisions much thought. When would I ever NOT want to sync after specifically asking it to sync? I can see not automatically syncing if, say, I were sharing the Kindle account with someone, and by syncing, I overwrote where I am with where they are. Or vice versa. But this?

GAH!

This is right up there with things like Windows interrupting your typing in one window to bring up another window. Because what I'm actively doing right now can't possibly be as important as whatever stupid thing the OS feels like I have to know, right now. I can't tell you how many times someone in a chat window has gotten something like
tVal = EDIT_SUCCESS;
return S_OK;

because they made the unpardonable error of IMing me with something like "Hey." and Windows thought, "Oh! He's typing code in his development window, but this IM is so much more important, so I'll just bring it up in the foreground and intercept the typing! Because that's a great idea!"

(Yes, I'm fairly sure Windows is sentient and really stupid. What? You can't prove it's not.)

<pant>

This has been a rant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet, already in progress. Have a nice day.
kaasirpent: (Atlanta)
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 12:58 pm

There's a movement underway here in Atlanta to change our designation from The Big Peach to The Seattle of the South.

OK, not really, but there should be.

What really has me irked is Atlanta drivers. I know, I know . . . I've lived here for 14 years, now. You'd think I'd be used to them by this point. And I am. But being used to something doesn't mean you have to like it.

It basically goes like this, here. Maybe other places, too, but definitely here.

Weather: Sunny & hot

Drivers: Woohoo! 85 on I-85! 85 on I-285! 85 on I-20! Wooooooohoooooooooo! I don't actually mind this; I'm the guy in the right lane going the speed limit, leaving a gap to let people in, and making rude gestures where other drivers can't see them. So people can do whatever the hell they want.



Weather: Ice and or snow

Drivers: Woohoo! 85 on I-85! 85 on I-285! 85 on I-20! Wooooooohoooooooooo!



Weather: Wet. Or damp. Or slightly overcast. Or a bird flew over.

Drivers: PRECIPI . . . PRECIP . . . WET THING FALL FROM SKY! NO CAN GO FAST! GO 20! PEDAL ON RIGHT NO WORK. PEDAL ON LEFT GOOD! WAIT. LANE NO FAST! GO OTHER LANE. LANE NO FAST! GO BACK OTHER LANE! CAR EIGHT CAR FRONT PRESS BRAKE! SLAM ON BRAKE! SEE BLUE LIGHT WAY OFF! SLAM ON BRAKE! WRECK ON OTHER SIDE OF INTER . . . INTER . . . ROAD. STOP! IS BLOOD ON ROAD? CAR CRUNCH? OOOOOH. PRETTY CAR CRUNCH. PREEEEETTYYYYYY . . .


It is something I suspect I will never quite grok, no matter how long I live here. I live about 21 miles from work. On most days it takes me 26 to 34 minutes to get to work. On days where WET STUFF FALL FROM SKY, that goes to as much as an hour and a half, as it was today. Why? WET STUFF FALL FROM SKY.

There are days when 35 miles per hour would make me nearly wet my pants in glee. But I wouldn't. Because that would be WET STUFF FALL FROM . . . PANTS.
kaasirpent: (Random Thought)
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 02:14 pm


What is the difference between "bitching and moaning" and "complaining"? And where does "bellyaching" fall on that scale?

Is it a matter of degree? Of importance?

Or is it purely in the ear of the beharker? (Yes, it's a word. Now.)
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Friday, August 2nd, 2013 03:42 pm


Note: The purpose of this post is to explain to people why I was completely offline for more than 24 hours. See note at bottom.

This entry is part 1 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. Part 1 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Wednesday, I came to work a little late because Tuesday is my late night because of my writers group that meets, and I have dinner afterward. So I have to stay up later to avoid reflux, and blah blah blah.

I got to work, and it had rained lightly. Just barely enough to tell that the ground was even wet.

Exited my car and got my rolling computer case out of the back of the car. Since it was rainy, I grabbed my umbrella, as well.

Because I got there late, I had to park at the far end of the parking lot. Not a huge trek, but annoying nevertheless, considering how much I was carrying.

I had my lunchbox, umbrella, and water bottle in my left hand (my off hand) and behind me, I was pulling my wheeled thing with my right hand.

As I approached the ramp from the parking lot down to the entrance door to my building, something happened.

You know how when it rains juuuuuust a little, there's not enough water to actually wash the oil away? It just floats it up out of the asphalt and leaves it lying on the surface.

It was either that or some tiny little acorn-looking things about the size of sesame seeds that were strewn on the ground. Or maybe a combination of both.

My right leg shot out from under me and before I could even react, the ground was rushing up at me.

Because my right leg was forward, my left leg was bent, and I went down partially on my left knee, with my right leg out in front of me. Lunchbox, water bottle, and umbrella went flying. I must have taken pretty much all of my weight on my right hand when I hit the ground.

There was a huge pain. I sat flat on my ass on that oily parking lot cradling my right arm, wondering if it was broken. I could feel all my fingers, although there was some tingling. It felt like it was my upper arm that had taken the brunt of the force.

After a couple of minutes, someone came along and helped me to get up. I'm severely right-handed. To the point where I cannot eat with my left hand. It's like . . . if my right hand is Albert Einstein, my left hand is that strange kid who eats bugs and has conversations with hammers.

I managed to pick up everything one-handed and, still cradling my right arm against my chest, made my way down the ramp, wrestled open the doors, and made it to my desk. Where I sat for maybe 45 minutes before I realized that there was no way this was going to work. The more time went by, the worse the pain was getting, and the less I could move my arm. From the shoulder down to the elbow, solid pain.

So I packed up everything again (left-handed) and left work to visit my doctor.

I put my arm through some tests. I could extend the arm down, which was a damned good thing because I keep my keys in my right pocket. Lifting them up to put them into the ignition? No. Basically, the only move that didn't hurt like eight kinds of hell was bending my elbow about 30 degrees. If I moved my shoulder up or back, rotated my wrist or elbow, or tried to raise my arm at all, the pain was exquisite.

Driving was . . . a challenge. I had to do everything — including turn the key and shift gears — with my left hand. It's an automatic, but I still had to lean over and, with my left hand, take the car out of park and into reverse, and then into drive. I had to turn on my windshield wipers and lights with my left hand (wipers are on the right). Steer with my left hand. Retrieve, put on, and take off my sunglasses with my left hand.

I could hold the wheel with my right hand at the very bottom of the wheel, but that's about it. So rather than risk getting on the Interstate where the speeds were 60 and up and the roads slick — because, of course, by now it was fully raining — I took a longer way with speeds limits in the 35 to 45 range, with lots of stop lights, and generally fewer instances where people actively try to kill me by doing stupid things.

About 45 minutes later, I made it to my doctor. He had me put the arm through some moves that hurt, and he manipulated it.

No broken bones. No torn muscles. No broken, torn, or detached tendons. No rotator cuff injury (which is what I truly feared).

In short, I twisted the hell out of my arm and applied pressure straight up the ulna/radius, through the elbow joint, up the humerus, and jammed the ball joint at the shoulder. At roughly the same time.

I'm probably lucky I didn't fall over backwards and land that way.

He prescribed an anti-inflammatory because he said the arm was swelling up because of the terrible things I'd done to it, and it was likely going to get worse before it got better.

Went to CVS and got some Ibuprofen. Took three of them. Left-handed.

I went home and ate dinner. Left-handed. Had to undress. Left-handed. Put on more comfortable clothes. Left-handed.

We won't mention anything about bathrooms. Left-handed.

As the evening wore on, I tried to use the computer, but typing became more and more painful as the arm, as predicted, got more painful.

Finally, I had to sleep sitting upright in my recliner because any pressure on the arm made it impossible for me to get comfortable in bed. So, fun evening. Gravity hurt, if that tells you anything.

The next day, Thursday, I could barely move my arm. Now the palm, where it landed on the handle of the rolling computer case (which I broke, by the way, and will have to get replaced) hurt. The fingers hurt. The wrist hurt. The elbow joint, which the previous day I could move, hurt.

The computer was out of the question. I sat all day and read my Kindle. I took a shower as hot as I could stand it, and stayed in there as long as I could take it. And had to soap and dry myself left-handed. And ate left-handed. And took the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen. Left-handed.

Today, I'm still unable to "flap" my arm or to push anything with it, but at least it felt good enough to type. So you're getting this update. I'm at work because I can at least type, and that's pretty much what I do.

I can sort of feed myself, but luckily we ate Ethiopian for lunch, so I was able to eschew the fork and eat using the injera, which of course I could do left-handed. Driving is easier because I can shift gears today and steer partially with my right hand.

And I'm still eating ibuprofen like it's the other red meat.

In other news, it's really amazing to me just how many muscles in your arm and shoulder you use doing everyday things.

Note:
  • I'm neither soliciting nor expecting medical advice.
  • I know it was very likely foolish / irresponsible / dangerous / <fill in your adjective of choice, here> to drive, but I had no real choice and took the safest route for me given the circumstances. If you feel like you have to berate me further, please don't.
  • I trust my doctor, so I once more am not looking for alternative medical advice.
  • Really. I'm not. If you are poised over your keyboard right now, just itching to tell me about how <thing> will fix me right up, hold it in. I know it's a struggle, but we'll both be happier in the long run if you just accept the fact that I am taking ibuprofen.
  • I know I am being a dick, here, but OMG, you have no idea. Trust me, medical "experts" crawl out of every corner when I say anything about a medical issue.
  • If your question begins with "Have you considered...?" the answer is "Yes, I have. Thank you."
  • If you actually are a medical expert, feel free to comment, but be aware that I already saw my doctor and he was satisfied that there was nothing wrong with me that time and some ibuprofen wouldn't fix.
kaasirpent: (Spam)
Monday, July 8th, 2013 02:18 pm
Yes, it is indeed time for some more Spam poetry. Spam poetry, for the uninitiated (or for those who successfully wiped their memory after the last time I did it) is when I take the subjects of Spam I have received across all my email accounts and use them to make . . . poetry. Or something that can loosely referred to as "poetry." If you squint. And it's very dark. And you have cataracts.

The first selection, I shall call "Lay Away (Nudge Nudge)"
What's Hot And New This Weekend!
You're invited to a Complimentary Event in the Los Angeles Area
FREE ACCESS TO LOCAL SLUTS
Meet a Hot China Girl. Free.
Check out this hot babe
So much to buy, so little time...
$5,000 Overnight. Pay back in 5 YEARS!
Rent To Own
Shipping Service
I'm a little leery of that deal. Free access, but I have to pay? Perhaps I can use the brand new checking account I opened at "Bryant and Stratton."
Who is Bryant & Stratton?
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
CENTER BANK OF NIGERIA
Fantastic growth guaranteed
need 'emergency' funds?
atm
$2,500 in 1 hour.
See? I knew I could trust them.

Finally, a strange (3/4/3) "haiku" that, I'm sure, holds the secrets of the universe, if only you can decipher its enigmatic 10 syllables. I call it "Enigma."
Brochure Box
Embalagens
Carding News
That's, like, deep, man.

Thus concludes this installment of Spam Poetry™.
kaasirpent: (Declutterization)
Thursday, June 27th, 2013 09:12 am
Indulgence by MarkyBon, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  MarkyBon 


I've been on a neat kick lately. This basically means that I looked around and, in one, fell swoop, decided I Have Had Enough of This™, where "This" equals clutter.

Yes, I've gone on anti-clutter binges before. But the clutter always wins in the end. It's the Zen nature of clutter.

I started with the bathroom because I couldn't see my counters. Yes, it was that bad. I cleaned it in one day, and have been reveling in my clean bathroom since. Then I moved on to my closet. I have all my pants either hanging or neatly folded, I bought a new piece of furniture from The Container Store to store towels and shoes I almost never wear (dress shoes). I got rid of some clothes that don't fit (that is still an ongoing endeavor). My shirts are hanging in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). My closet is now also a pleasure to enter and look at. It still needs some work, but I'm doing it a little at a time. I think part of what made the declutterization fail before was trying to do everything all at once. I would go into the closet and start trying to, right then, decide 'keep, toss, or donate' for every article of clothing. It's overwhelming. Now, I do that as I get them out to wear or run across them as I'm looking for something to wear. Two or three items per day, tops.

The closet, by the way, is where I usually revert first. I'll do a load of laundry, and instead of hanging up or folding and putting away, I'll just leave it in the laundry basket to "take care of tomorrow." And "tomorrow" never comes. I'm just admitting that here with no promise that it won't happen again tomorrow or next week. :)

Meanwhile, during all of this, my housemate, Yvonne, a.k.a. Velda to some of you, was inspired by my efforts and decided that her project was to get the kitchen under control. The kitchen is her demesne. It took her about 2 days (and a new microwave, because the old one was . . . decrepit), but the kitchen is a masterpiece of organization, now. She moved stuff around to where they made more sense, put things up, threw things out (I had some spices that had moved with me from Tuscaloosa. In 1999.), and found places to store things that had been sitting on the counters. Again, it's not done, because there are things that need to go to other places that are still cluttered. But it's better, and it's a work in progress.

Now I'm working on my office. My home office is a place where I don't like to be because there was a path from the door to my desk, and that was it. Every other flat surface is covered in stuff. And it's useless stuff! Stuff I don't need! Broken computer parts. Cables. Manuals for stuff I don't have anymore. Paperwork going back . . . years. None of it moved with me, at least. It's all stuff I've accumulated since I moved into this house in 2001.

As of last night, I had cleared roughly 40% of the room. I see dark green carpet! I can actually walk from the door to my desk without fear of stubbing my toes on anything, or knocking something over. And today, I'm taking a big container of old paper stuff to work with me to recycle in their big recycle bins (my little shredder won't come close to making headway; I'm going to use the industrial shredding service at work to do the job).

Some parts of the house are worse than before. As we organize one room, some of that stuff ends up in another room. All the books from the living room, for instance, will eventually have to find their way to either the shelves in my office, bedroom, or library. And the desk and credenza in my office? Oy. But at least it's off the floor, right? :)

I just have to keep telling myself that it's a process, not an overnight thing. That's what killed my efforts those other times. A combination of trying to do everything at once, and firefly enthusiasm.

I have a system for myself once I'm done, as well. I have a box with a bunch of what amount to ping-pong balls in it. On each ball is written a room of the house that I have trouble with. Kitchen. Master bedroom. Bathrooms. Cat room. Garage (the only room that scares me). Etc. The plan goes like this: each week, I draw a ball at random and go through that room and tidy it. Restore it to an uncluttered state. And put the ball in another box until all the balls in the first box have been cycled, and then I start over. It may work, it may not, but it's worth a shot.

I know it sounds insane, but the whole process is kind of its own reward. An indulgence of a sort. It just feels so wonderful to go into my bathroom and closet. The kitchen is a joy. And the part of my office that is no longer cluttered feels nice to look at. I want to feel that in every room. When I forget or get discouraged, I walk into my bathroom, take a deep breath, and go back to declutterizing.

I've tried not to bore people with multiple progress reports. I have pictures of the bathroom, because it was the first spot. I took a video of the finished kitchen that I'll put on YouTube soon. I have before shots of the office taken some while back, and once I'm done in there, I'll post those and my finished product, but not here. On my Facebook page, where it's easier to upload photos.

Maybe — just maybe — when I'm done with all this, I can find places to hang all the artwork I've collected over the years. Wouldn't that be nice?




GBE2

Group Blogging Exchange 2



Today’s post is inspired by GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience)’s Week 110 prompt: Indulgences.

kaasirpent: (Work)
Monday, June 24th, 2013 07:25 pm
You go to a web site and do some sort of business with it. You purchase something, say. After your transaction is complete, usually something pops up on the web page and asks, "Would you like to take a survey about your recent experiences with XYZ Corporation?" (Questions 1 and 2 below relate to this.)

Assuming you bother, there will almost always be a question along these lines: "How likely are you to recommend XYZ Corporation to everyone on the entire planet?" It's usually on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale where 1 is "I would not recommend XYZ Corporation to anyone" and the highest number is "I will stop random people on the street, hold a gun to their heads, and literally force them to visit XYZ Corporation's site."

[ETA: I worded one of those questions badly. When I asked "Are you truthful?" I meant when you answer the 'How likely are you to recommend . . . ?' question, not here. :)]

[Poll #1920767]

Now, on to the reason I asked. :)

I learned a couple of weeks back that my company actually pays a huge amount of attention to this question. No, really. According to the guy presenting at the meeting, it is viewed as the single most important question on the entire survey. Answers of 7 or below are considered customers we need to work on, because they don't love us enough, if at all. Answers of 8 to 9 are considered satisfied. Customers who answer 10 are considered evangelists who are recommending us to . . . whom? Their competitors? I was a little shaky on exactly how this would scale up from an individual to a business.

If I really, really love XYZ Corporation, and I think they're the best thing since flying cars, I might randomly say to a friend, "Hey, you ought to check out XYZ Corporation!" But if I'm a person working in a corporate environment, how does that scale up? If I'm in charge of Spacely Sprockets' contracts, do I call up my counterpart at Cogswell's Cogs and say, "Hey, we've gotten excellent customer service at XYZ, and we think you should use them, too!" If they call me (Why would they?) and ask, would I tell them?

You see my confusion, I hope.

When I see that question, I always think to myself, "Well, no. I don't go around annoying my friends and family by shoving unwanted recommendations in their faces." Or I might think, "Well, if someone were to ask me what company I use for whatever service XYZ is providing, I might say, 'I use XYZ.'"

The best score I ever give on those questions is whatever means "Neither likely nor unlikely." I guess it's because I have always interpreted the question . . . oddly? I'm certainly not an evangelist, I don't hate them or I wouldn't do business with them. But I'm not going to say I'm likely if I'm not. So if the companies whose surveys I'm answering are paying as much attention as my company claims to, I'm coming across as a hater, when all I really mean is, "If they ask, sure."

I'm curious if I'm the only one that interprets it that way. I'm also curious if the companies you work for take it as seriously. And lastly, I'm curious if it surprises you that they do take it seriously. I always thought it was a throw-away question.

As an aside, the guy making the presentation said they send out one of these surveys to every customer of ours, and we get back approximately 13% of them. That doesn't surprise me at all. :)
kaasirpent: (Bizarre)
Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 02:47 am

Friday night, I drove over to Wetumpka, Alabama, to visit my mother. Early today (Saturday; it's not tomorrow until I sleep), we got up and I drove us three hours north to Huntsville, Alabama, to visit my aunt Peggy (my father's sister) in the nursing home. She has Alzheimer's (or something like it), and really enjoys visitors.

Meeting us at noon were my other aunts from Tennessee and Birmingham, AL, my uncle from Austin, TX, and my cousin (aunt Peggy's son) and his wife, who live in Huntsville. We actually met at a Logan's Roadhouse restaurant near my aunts' and uncle's hotel. Next door to that was a Mexican restaurant, and I wistfully commented that I would rather have gone there. My mother concurred.

["But Kaa!" you are no doubt lamenting at this moment. "What does all this have to do with your subject line?" To which I reply, "Suck it." No! No, I meant, "Patience, Grasshoppah."]

We had a nice visit at the restaurant, adjourned to the nursing home, had a nice visit there, and left around four. I had to stop and get gas, and then when we got back on the interstate, a wreck had occurred in the fifteen minutes we were stopped, and we were backed up another good fifteen minutes waiting on them to clear that.

When we finally got moving again, my mother and I chatted about the family gossip and how my aunt in the nursing home was doing. Around six o'clock, I was getting hungry, so I asked my mother, "Are you hungry?" We had had lunch at noon in Huntsville; we were now just north of Birmingham.

"Well, I could eat." In my mother's native tongue (The Ozarks), this can be loosely interpreted as anything from, "I'm as full as a tick on a hound dog, but if you're going to eat, I'll have a bite with you and visit," to "I'm as empty as a poor man's pockets and may just pass out at any moment from hunger."

I took it as the latter and after a very brief discussion fueled by our earlier exchange ("How does Mexican sound?" "It sounds really good."), we decided to stop in Birmingham and eat.

I remembered that there was a really good Mexican restaurant that a local friend (JP) and his family (Jennifer and Emerson) had taken me to a time or two before, but couldn't remember where it was beyond a loose vicinity, or what it was called. No problem! I have a smart phone. I have the INTERNET. <insert melodramatic chord here>

I pulled off the interstate at an exit near where I thought the restaurant might be and as my mother talked to her friend who was watching her dogs for her, I Googled for Mexican restaurants in the vicinity. I thought seriously about calling my friends and asking, but it was just so late, we figured they had already eaten, and we were tired, etc. And I'm going to see them tomorrow (Sunday) anyway, so . . .

I found it quickly. And it was only about a mile and a half from where we were. Off we set.

We arrived at the restaurant, and as we were driving through the parking lot, I laughed. "Heh! Wouldn't it be funny if JP and Jennifer are actually here?"

[That, by the way, is what we in the writing biz call 'foreshadowing.' Pay attention when you see it, because it means something's about to happen.]

We go in, get seated, and a few seconds later, we hear, "Oh, my GOD!" and Jennifer is standing at our table.

Yep. Jennifer was there with a friend, and she got on the phone and called JP and Emerson, and soon we were having dinner with them anyway. We greatly enjoyed it, and it could not have worked out any better. It turned a quick, rushed dinner into a leisurely meal with good friends and good conversation. And margaritas, which I'm told were also good (I did not partake).

So, all the things that had to come together to get us to that spot at the right time were:
  • Lunch restaurant next to Mexican restaurant (to prime me)
  • Stayed late visiting at the nursing home
  • Got delayed by the wreck
  • We were hungry
  • Both wanted Mexican (Chinese was discussed after I couldn't remember the name of the restaurant)
  • Jennifer and her friend eating at the very same restaurant at the particular time
So, even though it would be an even larger coincidence (hence "Small World") if this had happened somewhere that was not a few minutes from my friends' house and not their favorite restaurant, we deem it a pretty large coincidence nevertheless.

And that's my story. Thanks for sticking with me and having patience, Grasshoppah. :)

Note: According to Jennifer, the conversation at their table when we came in was, "Heh, that kind of looks like Kaa . . . and that's his mother!" at which point she leapt up and ran over to our table.

Also amusingly, the car we parked next to in the parking lot? Jennifer's. :)
kaasirpent: (Pets)
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 11:20 am
2012-11-28 22.09.23 - Cuddly Lucy

Lucy was one of two cats I inherited from Nanny and Granddaddy (my maternal grandparents) in 2008 when they both passed away. I promised them I would look after their cats, and I am so glad I did.

I brought home Lucy and her brother Matt in July of 2009, fully 7 months after Granddaddy died, because I kept putting it off. Neither cat had ever particularly expressed much interest in me other than scuttling away quickly when I got too close. They were half-feral, spending very little time inside my grandparents' home, preferring the great outdoors to four walls and carpet.

I had petted them, but it was usually a quick rub on the back as they ran for the nearest door. Or in Lucy's case, hopped.

Lucy lost her right rear leg at some point in her early years. None of us remembers exactly when or for what reason, but either a dog or being hit by a car sound the most reasonable. She must have limped home. They took Lucy to the vet. He asked Granddaddy, "Now, I can either put her to sleep or I can amputate the leg."

Granddaddy was effectively deaf. All he heard was "put her to sleep," so he answered, "Yes, go on and do that."

Imagine his surprise a few days later when the vet called to come get the now three-legged cat and presented him with a bill.

Lucy learned very quickly to ignore the fact that she had a leg missing. She could hop as fast as most cats can run. I've seen her climb over a chain-link fence. She was an excellent hunter, and both she and Matt were the scourge of the area around my grandparents' home. Nothing feathered or small and furry could relax with her around. We once saw her hop up to the back fence, scale it, and leap over into the back yard with a sizable fish in her mouth. The nearest stream was a half-mile into the woods. Quite a feat for a "handicapped" cat.

I wasn't sure how "taking care of" two cats who at best were indifferent to me and at worst hated me outright was going to work. But my grandparents' house sold and the cats were effectively evicted. When Lucy came to live with me, it was pretty stressful. I let her out of her carrier, and she pretty much ran and hid under a chair, her eyes wide. I kept after her and eventually cornered her in the hall outside my laundry room. She hissed at me, growled, and spat, lashing out at me with her claws. I grabbed her against her will and held her tight, talking soothingly, and gave her neck a good, solid scritching.

Because she was missing her back right leg, she couldn't scratch on that side. Her neck would itch and there was nothing she could do about it. She'd lean over the right way, and her stub would twitch and it was obvious that she was trying to scratch.

I felt her melt into a puddle, purring loudly, as I used my fingers to scratch the spot she couldn't reach. It only took a few minutes, and maybe a couple more sessions of that to completely convert her from hating me to following me around wanting to be petted. Well, more like demanding.

From that point on, she was my cat. She stayed close, napping on me if she could, or on the couch if I had the computer in my lap. She would beg for food in the morning and at night, and we quickly got into the habit of having a whole can for dinner and a half can for breakfast.

The cats were 17 when I got them. I expected them to live another year at the outside. Matt surprised me by living another two years, and Lucy three.

That picture above was taken after she spent her first extended period away from home at the vet's office with all the barky dogs and the odd smells. She hated it. She was velcro-kitty for days afterwards, and she never before or after got that clingy. She is literally lying on my arm in that picture with her paws around my wrist, pressing her chin into the back of my hand. Purring loudly.

Unfortunately, some time earlier this year, she began to develop problems. She quit using her litterbox as fastidiously as she had been, and I found traces of blood.

I took her to the vet and we discovered that she had kidney failure, and was anemic, and was very constipated. We took care of all that (special food and medication for the kidneys), but she still wasn't doing well. I took her back in and the vet took a deeper look.

She had tumors. Two big ones. Pressing on her bladder and her colon. She felt like she had to go to the bathroom all the time, which explained the going on the floor thing. The vet told me the tumors were one of two things, and both were fast-growing and bad. It would only be a matter of time.

Lucy made it another week and a half. She never lost her appetite and demanded that I feed her at the appropriate times. Except for the past two days, she met me at the door when I got home. She loved her bedtime treats. She wanted very much to sit with me and be petted, which I've done a lot of in the last week or two.

This morning . . . she peed all over the carpet and it was nothing but blood, and still she was on the litterbox trying and trying, yet eagerly eating her half can of food in between.

I just couldn't watch it slowly consume her any more. So I took her in, and it was mercifully quick. She went to sleep with me petting her in her favorite spot, on the neck where she couldn't reach.

I'm gonna miss that little girl. A lot. It'll be hard going through my morning routine without her at my feet "reminding" me that it's time to feed the cat. She was twenty years old and some change, we figure. A very long, full life for a cat. And I hope I did well by her for her final three years, and especially these final few weeks. I tried to make her as comfortable and as loved as I could. I think Nanny would approve.