Thursday, March 31, 2011

The sun will come out... tomorrow

I have had the most ridiculous two days.

Yesterday my work PC was scheduled in for some special attention. It's an old fart of a machine and it's been failing me lately. So I had to lug the beast in via cab and work from (gasp!) the office.

I tried to get set up at a makeshift work station, but the there was a hardware issue, and when I tried to work around it (Which took an hour), I couldn't make the actual station comfortable. I was too short and my elbows were raised up with my wrists at a weirdo position and I knew I couldn't go another five minutes like that.

So we tried the transcription laptop. But then I couldn't connect to the server. So I had to work at another station, and then my software wouldn't open because a piece of necessary hardware was missing.

Blah, blah, blah, right? Well, we took the hardware out of my computer, plunked into this one and I was finally able to work. I went home with my old computer and waited for the Dude to get home to reconnect things for me. And then I found out I was locked out of my email (This happens all the time) and I'd have to wait till the morning to get that resolved.

So I get this small allergy attack and I nip it in the bud with two allergy pills, which destroyed me in a good way and I passed out (I'm super susceptible to any sort of substances. They all tend to affect me heavily). Unfortunately, I forgot to set the alarm.

The Dude sprang out of bed this morning and woke up on time in a panic, but I lapsed back into a coma. Without needing to turn off the alarm, I wasn't prompted to reset it for myself.

So I woke up at noon. NOON! It was 12:00 p.m. and I still hadn't dealt with my email, which meant I hadn't gotten to my work assignment, which I needed to read to download the video I'd require to actually start work. And I had a work meeting at 1:30, which I'd need to leave for at 1:00. Basically, holy crap.

I got everything handled by 12:30 and figured I may as well try to do something before I left. Well, that didn't really work out so well because the hardware I needed to run the godforsaken software was still back at the office inserted in another computer.

Thankfully, I had to go into the office anyway, right? The meeting ended around 3:30 and I left at 4:30 after catching up with my coworkers. I walked home, taking the opportunity for exercise, and got right to my computer. That would have resulted in me finally getting some work done at 6:00 p.m. if only I had remembered to get my hardware out of the other computer.

So I called someone in admin, who was awesome enough to bring it to the closest subway station en route home. I got it at 7:00.

What a day. What a couple of days. I worked on my show for about two hours before deciding to throw in the towel and just allow tomorrow to suck while I got caught up.

And to top it off, Bea snuck in the closet this afternoon while I was getting dressed to go. She inadvertently got locked in the closet for five hours while I was gone.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another election

Another election. Jesus Murphy. Now, on the one hand, a side of me welcomes an opportunity to rid ourselves of Stephen Harper. On the other hand, I'm aware we live in a country with an antiqued electoral system that will allow politicians bulldoze voters, and keep parties like Green out, even with nearly a million votes to their credit.

Watch the video about to get a better idea what we're dealing with here. I vote for no other reason than because I'm militant about exercising my rights. But I'd by lying if I said I wasn't trying to fight off a growing apathy to the whole system. The only thing that prevents me from not caring is apathy is what Stephen Harper is banking on. God, how I hate that man.

He recently went on a tirade about the Liberals plotting a coalition with the Bloc, even though he himself tried to do the exact thing when it suited his party's needs. Newsflash: It's legal and above board to form coalitions if the House believes the acting government is not acting in the best interest of Canada, or is ignoring the will of parliament. Some (many) people in this country are ignorant of parliamentary law and see coalitions as sneaky. What's sneaky is the Conservative leader doing it on the sly and then blasting other parties for doing it against him.

He's prorogued Parliament twice: once to avoid a vote of non confidence and again to avoid answering to the Afghan detainee torture issue. Proroguing is a commonplace procedure-- when all business is concluded. When there are still bills on the table and issues at hand, proroguing is a miscarriage of democracy.

He wasted over a billion dollars on the G20 & G8, namely because he held it in Toronto, against the pleas of the mayor, resulting in the largest mass arrest of civilians in the country's history. He could have paid a fraction of the cost and hosted it in Nunavut or Newfoundland or Saskatchewan, places with small populations and less security risks. They could have built infrastructure and secured it for less than the cost of security in Canada's largest and most easily accessed metropolis.

He's a religious zealot. He's anti-choice for women, and make no mistake that if he thinks he can, he'll tread on women's rights. He's already axed women's programs and services.

Prior to becoming PM, he campaigned for privatization of health care. He's not invested in our healthcare system at all. Boomers are aging and need nursing facilities and spaces. We need more beds in our emergency rooms. We need more doctors and nurses on staff. All those things require more money. He goes and cuts the GST, which does little for most regular people, but those pennies we save each day accumulates into massive monetary loss for the government to spend on services we require. So going to Tim Horton's will be a few cents cheaper but going to the hospital will be gruelling. What an excellent trade off.

He rebranded the Canadian government, that is The Government of Canada, as the Harper Government. Hubris, thy name is Harper. I cannot even properly explain just how offensive I find that. Do you think Americans would tolerate The United States Government being rebranded as The Obama Government? or The Bush Government? There'd be rallies in the street.

He spends tax payers money on Conservative party propaganda! $26 million! Those "Your country is in good hands with Stephen Harper" commercials? Paid for by you and me. He's advertising his own party with our tax dollars. He's not putting that money into healthcare. He's not putting it into education. He's not funding anything of value to us, the people. He's funding a love letter to himself for all of us to watch.

He's managed all of this and more in a handful of years with a minority government. Frankly, I'm terrified. What has my Canada come to? Everything we are, everything we value: women's right to chose, homosexual rights, parental leave, Canada pension plan, healthcare, quality public education...

Does anyone honestly think he supports or believes in any of those things? He doesn't even believe in banking regulations, the ones that saved us from a massive recession. He was for opening the market up like the Americans, and look what happened to them! And now he's riding off the good choices of previous leaders and taking the credit, though he would have lead us down the same road as our neighbours.

Any Canuck out there, with a brain and a heart, look at this guy. Seriously. Look at him. Look at his record. He's failed us, he's failed us so hard and so miserably. He can't be given more power. Open your eyes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Planned Parenthood Hurrah

Okay, late night quickie post. You know how in the States there's this bullshit talk of defunding Planned Parenthood? You know, the place women can go for affordable sexual healthcare, like STD screenings, cervical cancer screenings, contraception, prenatal healthcare AND abortion? Well, here's my view on this:

Also, here's a kitten:

Monday, March 21, 2011

No car for me

It's day 13 of Lent. Still no sweets. I'm doing well, though I'd really like a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie. Oh yes. There's this pie place in Kensington called Wanda's and I had a slice of that awesomeness a couple years ago and I never forgot about it. I went back not long ago and discovered it's a pie you have to specially request them to make for you. So I was plumb lucky the first time I went in that it was there at all.

The closest thing to dessert for me lately has been indulgent cheeses and maple coffee. Actually, though, the maple coffee is boss. It's serious heaven. The Dude and I got it at Kortright Centre for Conservation yesterday. It comes in these small little packages for roughly $5. So kind of expensive and obviously more difficult to get than your average cup 'o Joe.

The Dude and I saw a musician yesterday, for our ceremony music. We had to go out to Oakville, and so we rented a Zipcar for the day (which we then took to the conservation centre). It's so odd being in a car these days. I rely almost entirely on the TTC and my own feet to get me from point A to point B, and the car is mindblowingly convenient in comparison. Of course, not having a spare $600 each month for a car holds the Dude back from getting one. Plus, we still need to sort out Rogers on his damn credit report. The jerks over there still haven't sorted out the issue yet. Ridiculous.

As for me getting a car, I don't have a license. My dad tried to make me get one when I was 17. I failed the first test and passed the second one. My aunt/godmother tried to teach me to drive on her car (my dad's "car" was, quite frankly, a hazard: broken seatbelt on the driver's side and a jiggly steering wheel). She was a good teacher, but I was a poor student. I couldn't handle putting my foot on the gas. I was terrified of hitting people. I wanted to let everyone pass me, despite the rules of the road.

We went for two driving sessions and no more. I knew I was not meant for it.

I've always had massive issues with being totally alert to my surroundings. I slip into my own little world with no warning. I'm unobservant of my environment. I'm timid when it comes to crossing the street. I don't ride a bike because I'm worried about being hit by a car. If I were driving, people would be in danger. I'd be the one everyone else would complain about.

Thankfully, I have two things going for me: The dude is an excellent driver and loves it, and I live in a city that has very adequate public transit. I can take the bus into other cities I want to visit. I'll be one of those TTC moms. I'm not concerned.

Of course, nothing stops people from telling me I need my license "just to have", which I don't understand. What's the point of having something that I'll never ever use? I shouldn't be on the road and having something that entitles me to be out there is not good for public safety. I've actually been told not to have children if I don't plan to drive. Yeah, seriously. Neither of my two grandmothers drove, and had 13 kids between them, and one of them held a nursing job on top of it all. And they didn't even live in a metropolis where you can step outside and have buses, subways and streetcars on all sides of you. But other people thinking they know what's best for the women they know is nothing new, is it?

But enough of my "I don't drive" rant.

Update on the wedding planning, we've signed up for a wedding ring workshop at The Devil's Workshop in May. The workshop is six hours, $300 plus materials, and we make a ring for each other. We went in to choose styles and materials. Total cost for both our rings: $750. That's less than the cost of one simple band from the average store. We're really looking forward to it. It'll be a fun day for us and how romantic is it to make your own rings?

And now we have our ceremony music covered. This guitarist will play as guests arrive, while I walk down the aisle, when we sign the registrar and as we all leave the ceremony. I really like the idea of live music. It's charming and this way no one needs to fuss with an iPod dock or laptop or something.

We've also located an excellent officiant. She performed the ceremony for The Dude's brother's wedding last October. We meet with her in May. It's nice to have someone you've seen "in action". She was so dignified and well spoken.

I have a florist appointment tomorrow. We're not having flowers as centrepieces, so I'm not anticipating a huge cost. I have some ideas for bouquets, but mostly I'm pretty open to whatever will be in season and within a small budget. Once that's out of the way, I'll be done with all the major vendors.

There's about seven and a half months to go. Feeling pretty good.

We also have to call Rogers tonight to further discuss their BS. That, I'm less enthused about.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


It's 2:30 in the morning, so obviously I'm blogging instead of going to bed like a normal person.

The Dude and I have bought up some more deals. I think we're getting addicted. At least I am. Deals!

1. Front Door Organics: $42 for two custom boxes of organic veggies delivered to your front door.
2. Dust Busters Cleaning: $35 for three hours of home cleaning.
3. Arthur Murray Dance Studio: $29 for two private dance lessons and two group dance lessons for two.
4. Art Gallery Of Ontario: $62 for dual one-year membership to the AGO.

The veggies are awesome for obvious reasons. The cleaning will be great before we move. It'll be good to move clean furniture, and when we tromp downstairs and will take the load off us to prepare the place for the new neighbours. Getting a few lessons under our belt before our wedding will be fun, as right now we don't really have much comfort dancing together. I tend to lead. And the AGO was a pet favourite of the Dude's. He's always wanting to go to galleries and we keep finding reasons not to go.

However, not everything around here is sprinkles and sunshine (Except for Sprinkles, who is always a ball of calico sunshine). We decided to get the Dude's affairs in order so we got his credit report. Turns out Rogers has been essentially screwing him up the rump in his sleep for five years.

Allow me to explain this assholery, because it really is quite rage inducing. In 2006, the Dude moved out of London, ON, and back to our hometown. En route out of London he stopped off at the nearest Rogers, paid his final bill and delivered the Internet box back to them. He then got the hell out of dodge and shortly after moving in with his best friend, he set up a phone with Rogers.

At the end of 2007 he cancelled his service to move to Toronto with me, and we rang in the new year together. He paid his final bill and all was well. We've been on my account ever since.

So you can imagine our horror when on his credit report there was a bill for $298 from Rogers that had been sent to collections. Buzuh?! We were completely confused. So the Dude got on the phone with them and retreated to our bedroom.

About an hour and a half later he came out, frazzled as a feral cat at a show dog convention. He was on hold with the ninth person he'd spoken to. After being shuffled around to a variety of departments, he was able to piece together that he was being charged a fee for an unreturned box from 2006-- yes, the box he had returned in London. This bogus fee was something Rogers didn't bother to inform the Dude about for the year-plus he had a phone with them after the move. It never showed up on his bill. They never requested he return the box (Of course, because he had returned it).

So this is when I got on the phone. My elementary school principle told me I ought to become a lawyer. In fact, I've talked my way through and out of all sorts of issues in school and heard that a lot from other teachers. I didn't care for the thought of all that post-secondary and work hours, but I've never lost a lust for arguing. Plus I was pissed.

The Dude authorized me to speak on his behalf and I laid into the unhelpful fool on the other end. I accused Rogers of fraud for sending a bill to collections which they were not owed, damaging an innocent person's credit in the process of their negligence. I demanded a manager. I was sent to a non-manager in another department, whom I cut off in her information gathering spiel to inform her that I would require her supervisor, that she was the 10th person we've been sent to, and gave her a 30-second rundown of the issue.

So she sent me to a manager. And I was on hold for 30 godforsaken minutes.

The manager was helpful enough and really seemed like she was trying to fix our problem. She tried calling the Rogers in London where the box was dropped off. But it was late (since we were on the phone for two and a half hours) and the London store was closed. So she gave us a reference number and we had to settle for being called the next day.

There was no phone call. So we called back. Their servers were down. Try in an hour they said. So I did. Still down. But I needed answers, so I cut out more of the info-gather nonsense and asked to be transferred to the department that had the helpful manager.

Long story short, we have to wait yet another day for a resolution. Or at least the promise of a resolution.

I can tell you this: if this doesn't get solved, I will not give these clowns one more chance to stick it to us. If they want to cling to this $298 bullshit fee, I'm going to cancel my $170 a month service with them. And then I'll see what other recourse I have. There's always filing a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. This just will not stand. Collections, my ass.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


There's something inherently nail-biting for me about having my landlord show my apartment. I always feel so judged and up for inspection, which really I am. And in this instance, it's also a look at potential new upstairs neighbours. I also hear what's being offered, and it's higher rent, higher utilities, and meanwhile the Dude and I have negotiated a wildly good deal for the downstairs apartment, so I also feel unnerved knowing that in comparison the upstairs place isn't such a steal.

Oh, but it's hopefully done now. I shouldn't let it rattle me so much, but it does. It's not like I am against the place being shown whatsoever, either. I just somehow feel guilty. I think because, again, we made such a good deal and I get concerned that we'll be judged more harshly on how we keep the place. That, and I have a tendency towards neurosis in a couple areas of life, like business and haggling, which essentially this is.

In a completely unrelated matter, I've decided for the first time in about eight years that I'm going to do Lent again. I grew up with it and it always did me some good. There's no real reason to throw away something so beneficial for me simply because I've lost my faith in Catholicism. I can pick and choose what I want for myself.

So I've given up dessert. No cake, chocolate, ice cream, or any other sugary treat that could be dessert material, like pastries, tarts, cookies, squares, mints...

It's day four and I'm not climbing up the walls. Frankly, I'm astounded. I'm not even fighting the temptation. It's weird. I eat sugary treats every single day. They please me, they make me happy, I love them, etc. I think it's the combination of having posted my decision on Facebook (Thus making me feel accountable to over 200 people in my list-- whether they care is besides the point), and the fact that while I don't know for certain whether any deity exists or not, I have just made a promise to whatever's out there and I dare not break my word just in case.

I do all sorts of things my former religion tells me not to,and quite happily, but as an adult I never freely agreed to those rules, so nuts to it. This however is a commitment.

When the weather started to really get ass and I started allocating money elsewhere, dance went by the wayside. Temporarily, but still. I've lost muscle tone and have gained a bit of flab. So frankly, I could use the opportunity of Lent to reduce my calorie intake. We'll see what happens.

The Dude came home from Cobb's bakery this evening and told me they were selling a St. Patty's day scone that was chocolate mint. I could've killed him.

Me: Why'd you tell me that?!
Dude: What?
Me: Now I know about it and I can't have it! Damn you!
Dude: Well, do you want me to buy you one and freeze it?
Me: ...Yes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Merge

The Dude and I have merged our finances. It just got to a point where it was simply easier.

He's the sort of guy who's more impulsive, likes to spend his money on what I like to call "bubblegum and baseball cards". You know, juvenile foolishness like snacks and figurines and stuff like that. Not that I don't like to spend money on frivolous things, myself, I just happen to be able to say no to things easier and keep in mind my monthly bills, obligations and such. He'll see a few hundred dollars in his account and not think about his future needs.

So now our rent, utilities, cell phones, the Dude's student loan, kitten expenses, food and entertainment all get handled by me with money that we're both putting into one pot. I'll also be able to delegate wedding expenses, savings and the Dude's tax savings (Being freelance, he's got to pay his income taxes all in one go come tax time).

It's a lot of extra work, but I don't care. We'll save more money, I'll be able to manage our long-term plans and we're no longer keeping tabs on who owes the other how much. It's more loving and romantic. And since the Dude needs to be able to blow some cash on his nonsense but doesn't trust himself with large sums, he requested an allowance of sorts. So that's what we're doing.

I personally couldn't handle being on his end, having him manage the money (Probably because it's not his forte), but he's a happy camper, being able to finally not worry about money at all. All he has to do is deposit his cheque and then the rent gets paid, the internet and TV stay on, his cell and student loan get paid, there's always enough for groceries and TTC tokens, we go out to dinners and movies, and he can still spend his own cash without any issues.

I'm not really on a budgeted allowance, myself. In the past, because I was making more reliable money, I'd handle dinners out, movies and little extras. I'd also then get myself things for my own happiness. In the end, the Dude was blowing more of his money on the nonsense, I was taking us out and I was feeling free to buy myself all sorts of loveliness.

Now I'm going to be more restrained because I'm managing our money, not just mine, and from our money I need to also bump up our savings and pay for a wedding.

I never thought I'd feel this way, but honestly, if we want to meet our goals for the future, I don't see a better alternative. Not having the full weight of my personal income to use at my leisure is a loss, yes. But it's a minor loss. I'm not troubled by it and I don't feel the lack of independence I thought I'd feel. I actually feel closer to the Dude. I feel like instead of trying to balance and juggle two separate budgets, I'm now bringing us together. It's not been long at all, but the change in attitude between us has shifted in a positive way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretty Deals

I had my first glycolic peel today. It iched like a cast iron mofo. But sweet banjos, does it look good. My skin that is. My skin looks bitchin'. It's supple-looking and the groove that had been forming on my forehead is lighter. Apparently you're supposed to do about six of them for six weeks to get the fullest effect. I don't know if I'll be doing that yet. They're $40 a pop. $240 on frivolous skin care for a month and a half? A few years ago I'd totally do it. Now I'm trying to be more financially responsible.

Of course, a few years ago I didn't have the burgeoning wrinkles and fine lines I do now. Not that I've become a raisin the past few years, I've just noticed some subtle changes. Age is threatening to creep onto my face. It's already begun its dark dealings on my hair and now it's going for my skin. And I've mentioned this before: I'm mad-ass protective about my skin.

The reason I finally decided to go for a glycolic peel is because a Toronto deal came up for $19 and I couldn't resist a skin treatment for so cheap. I've just joined about half a dozen deal sites that sell discounted awesomeness all over the city. This was my first purchase and I'm sold.

I'm a sucker for spa stuff. If something might be good for my skin, I pretty much want to do it. Call it vanity, call it a vice, call it foolish, I don't care. I loves me some skin care. I've been fantasizing about facials and body scrubs for months. With these daily deals I might actually get a crack at some spa goodness for something I can afford.

Also on my radar is discounted maid service, excursions and massage. Certainly paints a pampered princess, doesn't it? Take me out, rub me, and clean up my mess! And for very little money!

Just for the record, I'm on FabFind, LivingSocial, Groupon, Dealsharing, StealTheDeal, Wag Jag and Buytopia. I'd link them, but I'm tired and that's what Google is for, yo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


March! My God, it's March already. This hardly seems possible. I'm just over eight months away from getting married and I no longer feel totally ahead of schedule. Not that I'm behind or anything, I was just all hunky dory thinking about having all kinds of buffer room. I'm Planny McPlannerston that way.

So far I've got the following things sorted out:
The venue & food
Dress & shoes
Bridesmaid dresses
Wedding day-of planner

I have to acquire/do the following things:
Seating cards & chart
Block hotel rooms
Ceremony music

One list is clearly longer than the other. Now bear with me, I've gonna talk weddin's, y'all.

The Dude and I are seeing a guitarist this month for the ceremony. My aunt and uncle are providing the invites, so I'm hoping to talk to them about it this Easter. The license can't happen till 90 days prior to the wedding. I've picked out my centrepieces and favours, but I'm waiting till after the move to buy them. The planner is going to help me block hotel rooms.

So it's not like I'm totally out to sea here. My next big project is finding the florist and officiant. After those two necessities come together, I'll be laughing.

I've also been entering contest after contest. I'm trying to win a honeymoon. Any travel related contest I can find, I'm signing up. I've never won anything like that, but I figure I may as well go ahead and try rather than not.

The rings we're planning on making ourselves at a jewellery workshop downtown. You can make a pair of rings for $500 and a jeweller will help you. They won't be fancy, no flashy gems, but they will be classic and well made. The photos from the workshop show some really good looking rings, so we're feeling confident.

The Dude thinks it's funny how much work I'm putting into the wedding. I'm researching this or that, weighing options aloud, sending out inquiries, and so on. Of course, I'm the one doing everything to plan it, so I don't think he fully understands how much work it actually is to find the good deals from quality vendors. Though if it were 100% up to him, we'd go to a court house.

A court house isn't for me, though, not when we already live together. I kind of want a real event to mark our decision, because lord knows our daily life won't change terribly. We've already hashed out our differences, furnishings, finances, labour division, goals and needs. I have never had a big party for any particular moment in my life and this is one area I think I'd like to go for it.

When I was 16, I went bowling with my best friend, who's birthday also was in days, and two other friends. I don't know who has sweet 16 birthdays, but I didn't. 19 is a big year in Canada. For most it means you can go out and drink. I stayed in with my boyfriend at the time and the two of us ate ice cream cake. There were no parties for my high school and college graduations. I wasn't and am still not bothered by any of this actually, but I'm just illustrating a point. I typically don't make a fuss out of my special moments in life.

This time I will. A small fuss. Maybe a medium-sized fuss.