Friday, November 27, 2009

Y'all are NUTS.

I have a crazy number of friends... by which I mean, way more than one... who WILLINGLY got up and went Christmas shopping before 6:00 this morning with crowds of other insane people. They did this on purpose! They were happy about it!

I'm sorry, but to my mind, something is really, really wrong with that.

Me? I slept late, played some board games, made turkey soup, listened to some Monty Python songs, watched some Marx Brothers, watched some rain out the window, watched some James Bond. Laid low, took it easy. Wouldn't change a thing.

Do you do the Black Friday madness? Do you like it? Please to explain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Curse you, NPR! Well, sort of.

So I've recently made a change to my morning routine -- one that improves my mood, broadens my horizons, accentuates the positive, eliminates the negative, etc. etc.: When I turn on my bathroom radio, I don't listen to the whining, sneering blowhards on local commercial talk radio any more. I put their station on for the top-of-the-hour news and weather, then switch to NPR's Cape and Islands affiliate for the end of their local newscast (the self-proclaimed Cape Cod news station devotes so little time to actual news that you can listen to their entire newscast, switch stations, and still catch some of WCAI's) and then NPR's "Morning Edition."

I don't miss the local blowhards one bit. They are always annoying, and frequently stupid, and there is just no sense starting the day listening to them. Changing the station has been a good thing all 'round.

Today, Morning Edition had coverage of the White House state dinner for the Prime Minister of India. What a night that must've been! So I'm listening to the President's and Prime Minister's toasts, and to the reporting about the event (it was held in a giant tent with a transparent ceiling! which made me think of Hogwarts. Excellent.) The segment wrapped up, and my attention turned to getting the girls up-dressed-brushed.

The next thing my ear caught was some music between stories, or part of a story, I don't know. This is dreadful, awful, evil music. One wee measure of this song will plant the whole awful mess in my head for days. DAYS! If I even hear words that remind me of this song, I must immediately and with whatever mental strength I have left focus hard on something else -- anything else, to prevent this invasive, fast-growing, carnivorous vine of a tune from taking hold of my poor brain.

NPR played this song at my most vulnerable moment. I hadn't had my tea. I hadn't even dried my hair. My defenses were down and I was struck head-on. And now, friends, I am consumed with the fire of vengeance. I shall use this mighty blog (humor me) to perpetuate and amplify this horror, with video!

GAH!! The cheesiness, it burns! And yet, I can't look away. (Did that clarinet player wink?) And neither can you! And I bet you'll be singing that godforsaken song hours, maybe days from now, because NOTHING CAN ERASE IT.


And yet, even with this poison in my veins, I still have no regrets about the station change. That this is still progress shows just how bad the local blowhards are. Were. So long, blowhards.

On the day that you were born...

Friday, November 20, 2009

People watching: oil change edition.

As the person in charge of car maintenance for a two-Toyota family -- they never break, if well maintained -- I spend a fair bit of time in the service area waiting rooms of my local dealership. Some folks like to drop off their cars and pick them up later. For me, each oil change represents a chance to do some uninterrupted reading/writing/to-do-list updating. An opportunity to spend an hour without being asked for anything is not one to miss, even if it is in a waiting room.

I generally prefer the waiting area with tables, but this morning the man who sat down next to me smelled so bad that I had to move. Really. I imagined this memo:

TO: Revolting person who just sat down
FROM: The person you just sat down next to, who would really rather be minding her own business

RE: malodorousness

Sir: I regret to inform you that you stink. Yes, I said, YOU STINK. Would it have killed you to wash this morning? Really? How about brushing your teeth? Mouth breathers need to pay extra attention to that little chore, you know.


But because there's no good way to say any of that, I moved to the other room, which is usually intolerable because of a blaring television. Last time I was there, Regis and Kelly were screeching from the TV. Their guests were two English women whose self-appointed job it is to tell people what they ought to be wearing in order to look less like ordinary schlumps, and more like tarted-up schlumps with bunions and staggering dry cleaning bills. One of the examples shown of the fashion horrors these preening bitches had witnessed on the streets of Manhattan that very morning -- they were still recovering! -- was a woman wearing the exact same shoes that I had on my own feet as I stood at the coffee/tea counter beneath the infernal screen. Fuck you, English fashion police bitches, I thought. And fuck you, Regis and Kelly. My shoes are cute. Granted, they are maybe more appropriate for Cape Cod than Times Square, but still. Get stuffed.

Television sucks. I digress.

Thankfully, nobody had yet turned on the TV when I sat down this morning. We were all readers or writers, waiting for our cars. Hurray! So I got to work.

After a few moments a gangly woman with long stringy black hair clomped in on chunky square-heeled boots. She had the pigeon-toed, hunched posture of the self-consciously tall and broad shouldered. She wore skinny black leggings under a giant purple shirt, and her makeup was a tad clownish. Although she was about my own age, there was an affected carelessness about her that you'd associate more with teenagers. She definitely stood out in a room full of jeans and windbreakers.

Now, I like watching people, but sometimes what I like better is watching other people watch people. There was an unabashed observer, a casually well-dressed woman of about 60, in the waiting room this morning. (Well dressed, I say, except that she had one of those Coach handbags with a metallic gold strap and that big Coach "C" logo all over it. I hate those bags. Their primary purpose is to broadcast "Look! I have enough money to buy one of these hideously overpriced bags covered in the letter C!") The Observer had a good seat next to the coffee machine, and everyone who approached it got a most thorough once-over. Peering over reading glasses, she looked each of us over slowly, from hair to shoes and back up, staring as we took our seats. You could all but see her judgments pass across her forehead as she made them: some approval, some dismissal, quite a bit of disdain, some horror.

Her horror at the awkward, clomping woman in purple was poorly concealed. Lip curled in distaste, eyes wide, she didn't just do a double take and look away, but stared unrelentingly. I stared at her staring. I wanted her to know she was busted in her snottiness. She never looked my way, though. I suppose I had already been assessed and (I'm guessing) dismissed. Clomper clomped off with her coffee into the room with Smelly McStinkypants. The Observer went back to her novel. I went back to my writing.

Who should moments later appear to my wondering eyes but a dead ringer for George Costanza's mother, who, to my delight, scowled at everyone and sighed a big "well, what can you expect" sigh. I turned to The Observer, watched her take in this woman's plump countenance, her orange hair in newly set curls, her archly pencilled, agitated brows, her brown polyester stretch pants, her cheap shoes. The Observer registered predictable disdain. Mrs. Costanza sighed some more, got herself a blueberry muffin and sat down next to me.

The next woman to join us was carrying the brown version of that stupid "C" bag. This one actually rated a twitchy little smile of approval from The Observer. Acceptable. Her own kind.

As my name was called to pay up and get the heck out of there, in came a woman in a huge, safety-orange puffy coat and bright red lipstick. The Observer glared at the coat as the woman peeled it off and announced to us all that she was SOAKED to the SKIN, it's as if NOAH and the FLOOD are UPON US!

"As long as it isn't snow," grumbled Mrs. Costanza, scowling at her muffin.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The vaccine scene

Well, I probably shouldn't type this out loud, but the Sandyshoes family has thus far managed to avoid the flu, swine and otherwise. The vaccine situation has been frustrating. I will never understand the whole business of how flu shots -- just seasonal flu, mind -- are distributed to pediatricians' offices and thence to our kids. They tell me to call in October. Last year when I called in October, they said oh, we won't have any flu vaccine until mid-November. This year when I called in October, they had already held three vaccination clinics and were completely out of vaccine. So how am I supposed to know when they have it? Telepathy? Should I start making daily calls in August? It's effing ridiculous.

Yes, I understand that every year's flu is a different virus, so a new vaccine has to be developed, tested, manufactured, preserved, packaged, distributed, etc., and that every place doesn't get delivery at the same time. But, but! The at-risk population numbers don't change that much year to year. The equipment for manufacturing vaccine doesn't have to be re-invented every year. The distribution mechanisms are the same. It's not like any given flu season is the First Time Ever. Yet every year, there's the big mystery... when will the vaccine come? How much will there be? The doctors' offices don't know. The health departments don't know. Who DOES know?

Here on the end-user side of things, we are clearly on our own. The doctor's office is no help at all. Fend for yourselves, families! So we keep our ears and eyes open for sources. We'll pay cash if we have to. We'll drive miles away to clinics we've never been to before, clinics with no direct phone line to reach anyone who can tell us if there's any vaccine actually on hand. (CVS Minute Clinic, I'm looking at you. I tried to call the specific location "nearest" me, but the only number available is the national one. Without knowing what location I was even talking about the national number person told me "there was a delivery of flu vaccine at 2:00." "Really?" I asked her. "Every Minute Clinic in the country got a delivery at 2:00? Is that Eastern Standard Time?")

Add the H1N1 vaccine into the mix this year, and with the undersupply, and the long lines, and people going nuts for every imaginable reason (there's been hysteria about whether or not it's safe, and hysteria about whether we'll be able to get it at all. So which is it, folks -- are we scared because Big Bad Government is going to inject us with we know not what? or because we won't be able to get this poison into our veins soon enough?), you just have to use common sense and hope for the best. We wash our hands, we get enough rest, we cover our coughs, we use hand sanitizer, all that.

Meanwhile, the buzz all over town is about how many kids are sick. School attendance has dropped to levels not usually seen till flu season peaks in January/February. Parents are sending hand sanitizer into classrooms by the gallon. School nurses are being very cautious: The Peanut got sent home with a "fever" one day last week. Her face was flushed and felt warm, and I got the call to come get her. I'd been at the school all morning for something else, so I knew it was especially hot in the building that day, and that the Peanut's cheeks flush at the slightest over-warmth... still, I took her home, feeling perfectly well, if very confused at having been whisked to the nurse's office. "Mommy, they think I have SWINE FLU?!" I took her temperature every hour, and it never got over 97. Still, better safe than potentially infecting everyone else.

Turns out that the girls will be able to get the H1N1 vaccine via nasal mist today. Earlier this week, parents in town got a robo-call from the Superintendent of Schools saying vaccine is available from the Town Department of Health, whom we should call to make an appointment to receive it -- and which was, of course, closed at the time of the robo-call. Anticipating not being able to get through on the phone the next morning, Mr. Sandyshoes was on their doorstep as they opened for the day (not me, I had yoga. Yay! of which more later). There were people lined up before he even got there. The nurse said that indeed, the phone was ringing off the hook -- she'd just got off the line with someone who was railing that NOBODY should be vaccinated, and who didn't want to send her kid to school with other children that had been recently vaccinated. Really. So where do you go from there? How do you answer someone who is that emotionally committed to believing the vaccine is dangerous? As Mr. Sandyshoes said, these are the people you later hear about in the news, whose children have died on their living room couches for lack of medical attention.

Immunity is A Good Thing, folks. Get some if you can. And use good sense, in any case.

(For more reasoned discussion of the anti-vax hoopla, check out the discussions at

Monday, November 09, 2009

Waste paper much?

Number of items I bought at Stop & Shop this morning: 10
Length of my receipt: 36.5 inches.