May 31, 2005

Don't Mock the Elements

Quite a few years ago, our three daughters boarded a plane and flew up to Washingon state. They were to visit their aunt and grandma, who both live in Seattle. And Mike and I were to pick them up. In the car. This would mean that we would have to drive up from Los Angeles. No problem. We had seven days. We decided to take the scenic route. The 405 out of Los Angeles, to the 14 North, where we would eventually pick up highway 395. 395 runs up the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. It's a gorgeous route. This particular week, though, the Sierras were getting hit by some pretty heavy duty summer showers. All up the highway, we would drive into and out of storms. One minute, it would be dumping so hard, that the wipers, on high, could barely keep up. The next minute, we would be out in the bright sun. Eventually, highway 395 works away from the Sierras, and we were now in an area with long yellow grass on either side of the highway. We had been in sunshine for quite awhile. Suddenly, directly in front of the car was a wall of solid black cloud. I mean jet black. Neither of us had ever seen clouds that black. Even the streaks where the rain was pounding the ground was black as coal. Now, you might say that this was because we were in sunlight and it was contrast. But no, we had experienced that further back, and those clouds were usually a dark grey, not this pitch black. A little bit of panic starts to set in. If the wipers could barely keep up with what we had previously driven through, what's going to happen when we hit that? The shoulder was narrow and would make it difficult to pull to the side and wait it out. And, as hard as it looked like it was pouring, what would visibility be like? We continued on, right towards the middle of this nightmare. Suddenly, about 150 yards from the thick black line, which marked the beginning of this, the road turned. Not a gentle curve, but an actual 90 degree hard right. So, now we were parallel to this wall of black. But, we were now heading east, and we were supposed to moving north. So, eventually, this road was going to head north again, and into that darkness. So, here we were, still out in the bright sun, heading east. Sure enough, further ahead, comes another 90 turn. This time, it turns left, to get us going north again. This is where things really get weird. When the road turned north, the storm was now about 150 yards to the west. We could see it dumping, while we were out in the bright sunshine. So, Mike and I started laughing! "Hah! You missed us!" Hee hee! And then, all hell broke loose The rain started hitting us sideways. I kid you not. And, not with the force of a garden hose. It was the force of a fire hose. Here we were, out in the bright sun, getting pounded from the side by rain. The driver's window on our old LTD was always cracked open about half an inch. Mike was getting drenched. So was I. The water was gushing past him and drenching me in the passenger seat. Mike and I just started busting up laughing after that. It was almost like Mother Nature got revenge for her laughing at us. I have never, ever seen rain come sideways like that. But, it made for a good laugh and a memorable trip.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2005

Auto Insurance Fun

So, I get home from work today and check the mail. There is a letter from our auto insurance company. I figure it's a "proof of insurance" certificate for one of the cars. Nope. It's a cancellation notice for the insurance on the New Beetle, we acquired at the end of March. As soon as we bought the car, I called the insurance agent and got it put on our policy. I assumed, wrongly, that it would be added to the policy with the other 2 cars. So, I really didn't check when I made the monthly insurance payments online. However, those payments were only going towards my 1972 Camaro and our 2003 New Beetle. This is what pisses me off, the letter says, This is a reminder that your policy was cancelled for non-payment on the cancellation date shown above as reflected by the prior cancellation notice mailed to you". Uh, one thing..... I never got a prior cancellation notice. This is the first time I have ever seen anything about this. I never got a first notice. I had assumed, wrongly, that my agent had put this car with the other two, and I could pay them all at once. We have been driving this car, uninsured, since May 18th. This is the car that the girls have been using, while they learn to drive! Crap! Now it will sit, until I get this straightened out.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

63 Days

Someone posted a link to this blog called 63 Days. It's about a woman, named Allison, who is writing about the 63 days she spent in one of those teen "tough love" boot camps. These were popular in the late 80's, early 90's. A lot of parents, who felt that they were unable to control their teenage chiledren, would send them to these programs to straighten them up. Her experience is with one called "Challenger" that was run by a man named, Steve Cartisano. If you Google his name, you will get some links to other articles that tell what really happened at these camps. Her story is heartbreaking. I started reading it and was hooked. As of this posting, she is up to day #42. If you read it, click on archives and start with March. The entries are newest first, so go to the bottom and start on day 1.

Posted by Valkyre at 01:33 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005

Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work

The above title is sarcastic. The following really pisses me off:

Sex Offenders Were Reimbursed for Viagra
From Times Wire Reports

Scores of convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in New York have been getting Viagra paid by Medicaid for the last five years, the state's comptroller said in Albany.

Audits by Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi's office showed that between January 2000 and March 2005, 198 sex offenders received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions.

Hevesi asked Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a letter to "ensure that sex offenders do not receive erectile dysfunction medication paid for by taxpayers."

Who the hell approves this type of shit!?

Posted by Valkyre at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005

I Am Such A Doofus, Sometimes

Haven't really been listening to music much lately, when I'm on the computer. Decided last night to listen to something. Unfortunately, my speakers had fallen off the back of the computer desk awhile back. Since I wasn't really using them at the time, I just let them lie there. Got them last night. Wasn't easy. Had to contort myself. Place them next to the monitor. Plug the headphones into the jack on the right speaker. Bring up Winamp. Click on a song. Nothing. Damn! This has happened before. The connection is probably loose at the back of the tower unit. I'm too lazy last night to check the connection. So, I just looked at it now. Looks fine. I pull it out and plug it back in. I wiggle the connector. Still no music. Unplug the headphones and try just the speakers. Call Mike over. He pulls out the tower unit from under the desk. Checks the connection. Nothing. Plugs my headphones into the front of the tower unit. Nothing. Goes to my task bar and clicks to see all the icons. And there, right in front of our face, is the speaker icon with a nice universal red slash through it. Doh! I had had the sound muted. I feel like such a Doofus! That never occured to me to even check it. At least I have my tunes now.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2005

I Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut

So, the conversation goes like this:

Hubby: "Have you done the MT-Close thing on the blogs lately?"

Me: "Nah! I haven't done it in awhile. It's cool, though. No one has spammed the blogs in a long time. I guess we aren't as popular as we used to be."

Check my e-mail this morning and see that my blog has been hit by a spammer. Generic Viagra. He didn't even try to hide his ad in a phony comment. It was right there in the comment section. Fortunately, he only hit me 5 times. I will go close those comments now.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:51 PM | Comments (2)

May 10, 2005

One of the Things I Love

When companies put their "owner's" manuals online. And, don't charge for you to access them. Went to start my near new dishwasher this morning. Only to realize that the city had turned off the water again. They had actually warned us this time. I guess they are replacing, or moving, several fire hydrants located on this street. Anyway, the dishwasher was trying to run through it's cycle, without any water. I hit the reset button, but it wasn't stopping. So, I opened the door. Closed it again, and it started to cycle. I opened the door again and went to work. When I came home, I closed the door, and noticed that it had lost all my settings, but it seemed like it was starting through the wash cycle again. Damn! How do I cancel this!? Find the owner's manual! Right! I have a better change of finding Jimmy Hoffa's body. So, I decide to look on line. The dishwasher is a GE brand. I try, "" and get their site. Cool! Right there on their home page, on the side was a link that said "appliances". I click on that and am taken to a page that has several links, one of which says, "Owner's Manuals". Woo hoo! I click on that. Click on another link for "dishwashers" and all I have to do it put in the model number. It even told me where to look. And, there, in all it's PDF glory is the Owner's Manual for my dishwasher. And, I found out that I was just being impatient. After I hit reset, I needed to wait about 90 seconds for it to cycle through, drain any water, and then it would reset. But, I wanted to make sure, before I attempted anything more. It's real nice of these companies to do things like that. Things like that make me want to continue doing business with them in the future.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

$10.00 Processing Fee!

So, we bought another New Beetle for the girls. They are both in Driver's Training and will need a nice reliable car to drive around. It's financed through a different company than my Beetle. Mine is financed through Volkswagen Credit and their is financed through Chase. Cool! We have a Chase Mastercard. So, I was pleasantly surprised to log onto the site to access the info for the CC and see all the info for the car there. Cool! I've been making the CC payments through I can also make them through Chases site too. So, I look to see if there is a way to add the car payment to MyCheckFree. Nothing. No problem, I will just make them through the Chase site. I got through the routine, and am about to send the payment. Now, this is the weird thing. While I was setting up the payment, it showed me my payment, and then underneath it said "other fees". There was nothing there. But then, there were several lines of text and underneath that, they had added on a $10.00 processing fee. Processing fee? $10.00 bucks for a couple of keystrokes? Give me a break. So now, I have to send the damn thing via snail mail and sweat over whether it ever arrives, and whether it gets there on time. If I made all the payments online and paid the $10.00 fee each time, I would end up paying $600 in fees. The convenience is not worth it. Doesn't make any sense to me. I don't get dinged for the CC payment.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2005

Things One Takes For Granted....

Being able to boil a pot of water for tea in the morning. I wake up, Mike is already gone. Hit the bathroom, only to see a note left by one of the kids. "Toilet will not flush. Is chain broken?" Hmmm.... Have to doublecheck. Yes, toilet is not working. I take the top off the tank and there is no water there. I carefully fiddle around with things, but nothing works. So, I grab a bucket and place it under the tap in the tub. Nothing... Oh, so now it appears that the whole house has no water. At this point, I want to just sit down and have my morning cup of tea. I was hoping that maybe there would be enough left in the kitchen taps to fill the pot. Alas, it was dry too. Ah! I have bottled water! Woo hoo! Make myself a pot and call Mike. He knew about it. He told me that there were trucks about halfway down the street doing some work. They had shut the water off. Real nice of them to let us know. Why can't they have some pre-printed cards made up that will tell people their service will be down. They could just walk around and leave them on the doorknobs of the people who will be affected. Anyway, at the time of this writing, our water is back on.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

File Boxes Are A Godsend

I can get these file boxes from Sam's Club for about a buck each. They come in packs of eight. They come in real handy when I am cleaning up around the house. For the moment, I stash stuff in them and stack them out of the way. Later, when I have the time, I will slowly go through them and toss anything that's garbage, and file away anything that needs to be kept. I've been cleaning up our bedroom today. It's the last frontier for a lot of junk, and it was getting to the point where we could hardly walk. I've got bags of used clothes to go to Goodwill, lined up in the living room. And, this is before I've even gone through my closet. These were clothes that the girls outgrew and I tossed into assorted boxes and stacked in our room. I should have done this months ago.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:10 PM | Comments (2)