Thursday, December 29, 2011

Airlines: They Will Always Try to F You; One Way or Another

I hate flying. Not because I'm scared, or have horrible anxiety about it, or fear we're going to crash; it's everything else. From the parking to the getting tickets/checking bags/changing flights/delays/other ticketing counter related BS to security to waiting to being wedged into a seat. It's all totally miserable to me. Unfortunately, on a recent trip back home for Christmas basically everything irritating about flying that can happen, did.

Our awesome flight experience began when we were about to walk out the door of our home to go to the airport and I get a text from Orbitz (God bless them for sending these wonderful updates!) notifying me that our flight is delayed. An hour. Our layover in Atlanta is one hour 35 minutes. When we get to the airport to check in, the lady at the counter informs us that they don't start re-booking flights until your layover time is LESS than 30 minutes. I don't know if you've ever been through the Atlanta airport, but it's massive and crowded and filled with stupid people. 35 minutes means a marathon sprint from one end to another to barely make the boarding time. Fortunately, the lady at the ticketing counter is extremely nice and helpful (must've been filled with the Christmas spirit...or thought my dog was cute), otherwise I probably would have lost my mind when she tells us we have the last flight out of Atlanta and if we miss it, we can't leave until the following morning. We decide to chance it, and move on to the security line.

Fortunately, our flights were late enough that there were, literally, 12 people in line. It was incredible. Possibly one of the only times in my life (except in the KC airport) that security was a breeze. I was shocked, however, at the woman who had to step aside to scour her purse for her ID. Are there still people out there who don't understand the process? Like, she didn't know she would need that and prepare during her 5-10 minutes wait in line? It's baffling to me. I really think they should put signs along the line saying "PREPARE TO PRESENT YOUR ID AND TICKET" just so people remember.

We got to the gate plenty early, had a super healthy dinner or Cheez-it mix, trail mix, water and Naked juice, and got to listen to an older man SCREAM into his phone for about 30 minutes. Phones should be prohibited in the gate area. No one ever has a normal conversation and usually are just wasting time for the sake of wasting time (like the girl on our way back who was just calling everyone she could think of, speaking loudly about how she was at the airport and got to only see some of her friends during her trip because it was so short, but got everything she wanted for Christmas so she was happy. I shouldn't know these details, but I do because she was speaking to loudly in a confined area).

We finally board our flight, over an hour after its scheduled departure, and proceed to sit on the tarmac for over 30 minutes. For no reason. Well, I'm sure there was a reason, but it felt like an awfully long time when our next flight was scheduled to take off at our new expected landing time. The rest of our trip out was relatively boring and uneventful. Our flight out of Atlanta ended up being delayed as well, so our sprint from D to A in the wonderful Atlanta airport turned out to mostly just be for sport...although we were the last people to board the plane. Literally.

We spent a wonderful time with family and friends, received way too many gifts, ate way too much food and drank way too many adult beverages. It seemed as soon as it started, it was time for the joy of the airport to start all over again.

We booked our tickets months in advance and just expected them to be ready to go. Silly us. When we get to the ticketing counter, my fiancé was informed that they did not have him on the flight from Kansas City to Atlanta. WTF? It took a supervisor and about 15 minutes to finally get that straightened out, but was one of those things that just gets me about airlines. How does that happen? How is it possible? I just don't get it...

The Kansas City airport, if you've never been there, is an absolute dream to get through in terms of security. Sure, if you get stranded or miss your flight it's pretty terrible due to the lack of entertainment, food options, or proximity to anything worthwhile, but it's definitely the fastest airport I've ever been through. Breeze right through, everyone tells me how cute my dog is (yes, I travel with my dog sometimes... I don't trust strangers to take care of him for long periods of time due to his back condition). Aside from the loud/pointless talker, KC was mostly smooth sailing from there.

We arrive in Atlanta plenty early, and even had time for an ice cream cone (dinner of champions). My fiancé and I like to wait until the very last boarding call to get on planes so we're not those weirdos just standing and waiting forever. As some of the last people to board, we always get a great preview of our seatmates, which is not always the best thing...

This particular flight was quite undersold, so we assumed we'd be able to change seats and sit by one another and have enough room for the dog to be comfortable in front of us instead of being shoved under the seat. We were wrong. The seats on this particular flight were the 3-2 arrangement, with three on one side and two on the other. I was unfortunate enough to get a window seat on the 2 side; the smallest on the plane. I was also unfortunate enough to get the seat next to a 6'6" 400+ man who, quite literally, took up a seat and a half. Half of my seat. Although he apologized when I first sat down ("Sorry for the crowd, ma'am" because we were touching the entire time. And I hate people touching me anyway, even people I know.) it was still an incredibly uncomfortable situation. The flight attendants assured us that once everyone was boarded people would be able to change seats, which was super exciting given the fact that there were a number of empty seats all over the plane. Take-off came and went without anyone being allowed to change seats. I was stuck for the next 34 minutes of the flight and however long it took to taxi in and let us off. Of course, I'm not the classiest broad, so I snuck a picture of my seatmate (literally, MY seat mate).

This situation really bothered me. Not just because I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable, but also because it's just not fair. Why do I have to pay $25 each way for a 50 lbs. bag, $125 each way for my 15 lbs. dog, AND a regularly priced ticket when all of those things combined still weigh about half of what my seatmate weighed? It costs me almost $1000 to fly round-trip with a checked bag and a dog, but still costs the airline less than the man I had to share a seat with. I know paying by the pound is totally illogical logistically and would really piss some people off, but wouldn't it just make more sense? A heavier plane costs more to fly due to higher fuel costs. A heavier bag makes the plane heavier and I have to pay for that (and have), so why isn't a heavier person taken into consideration in the same way and made to pay higher prices? It's not my fault that people in America, in general, weigh more than they did 10 years ago, so why should I have to pay to make up the difference in fuel costs?

Flying will always be a pain the ass. There's nothing around that, but can't they at least try to make it a little less of a pain in the ass? Can I please bring full sized shampoo onto the plane with me? I mean, I can check it, what's the difference? And can I please stop having to take off my shoes and coat and/or sweater? I prefer to be fully clothed in public. Of course there's nothing I can do about any of these things except complain on my blog, but why can't airlines just make logical decisions? If any other type of company provided service like this, they'd go bankrupt! ...oh wait.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stupidity is Running Rampant in Bathrooms Across America

I'm never really shocked by the stupidity in America, but I have to admit sometimes I have to shake my head at things I see.

About a week ago, one of the toilet paper holders in a stall in my office bathroom broke and fell on the floor. A few days after that, it was placed on the counter by the sinks. A few days after that, a brand new, stainless steel automatic paper towel dispenser was installed in said bathroom. The toilet paper holder remained in the exact same place on the counter by the sinks. Someone who maintains the property came into the bathroom, installed the new-fandangled wave-your-hand-in-front-of-the-thing-for-paper-towels-dispenser, but conveniently left the toilet paper holder sitting on the counter.

Exhibit #1 - Holder on the counter beside double-fold paper towels from the former dispenser.

After my confusion in my office bathroom, I really thought the worst of the bathroom stupidity was over. But I was wrong.

A recent trip into a McAllister's deli proved that America IS getting dumber and there was nothing we could do about it. Amazingly, there was the EXACT model of automatic paper towel dispenser in the restroom at McAllister's as there is in my office. Except at McAllister's, it has this sign...

Yes, that says "Wave your hand in front of dispenser; Not below" - Directly above what is clearly the sensor to engage the dispenser for towels.
I didn't realize we needed such explicit instructions on how to use an automatic paper towel dispenser, but apparently, we do. My real question is, who was the person to cause such a ruckus about it that necessitated a sign!?

All I'm asking Santa for this year is a little sanity and a 20 point IQ increase for all Americans.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ooooh Craigslist...

Ever see posts on Craigslist and wonder WTF the poster was thinking? I do. Pretty much every time I have to find something on Craigslist. My finacé and I are moving to Atlanta next year and have begun the obligatory apartment/condo/house search so I've been on Craigslist quite a bit lately. Today I decided to venture out of the housing section and move on to the always fun "Everything Else That Craigslist Has to Offer".

The first gem I came across was:
"pick up a free pumpkin ...hate to throw in trash...not rotten...maybe-25-30 lbs" with this photo:

Seriously, folks? A free....pumpkin? AND you want someone to come pick it up? Is it really bothering you THAT much that you have to have someone come take it? And 25-30 pounds? Really? That DOG doesn't weigh 25-30 pounds. I have three rotten pumpkins on my back porch if anyone is interested. They're free, but you'll have to come pick them up.

The next post I came across was this one:
"Husband passed - has no need of these now (These are left over from an injury several years ago.)

Mostly full box of 100 McKesson Medi-Pak Performance Non-Adherent Sterile Pads - 3"x4"

19 McKesson Combine ABD Pads - 5"x9"
unopened package (200) McKesson Non-Woven Sponges - 4"x4", 4 ply
unopened package (10) Kendall Curity Gauze Sponges - 4"x4". 12 ply
unopened 4"x4 yd Dermacea Low Ply Bandage Roll - 3 ply"
 Granted, that is extremely sad that her husband passed away. But "has no need of these now"? Are you sure? Because he might still want them. He might become a zombie and THEN what will you do!? People need to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse and this lady is just giving up on preparedness.

The third awesome free Craigslist posting I came across was for:
"12 Misc VHS tapes"
"Mostly exercise related like Windsor Pilates, Callanetics, The Firm, Tae Boxing. They are in good condition, worked fine the last time we used them."
Wow. FOR FREE?! I smell a bargain. Do people even still have tape players? Can you still purchase a tape player? What are the chances there's a "special" VHS amongst Windsor Pilates? Because that could probably make this lot a lot more attractive to the people who are trolling the free section on Craigslist.

Like farting?:
"11 cans of beans"
"kidney beans
chick peas
garbanzo beans
black beans
all purchased within the last 2 months, we just don't eat them that often."

Why would you purchase them if you don't eat them? And why wouldn't you just take them to a food bank? This post really confuses me. Why wouldn't you just keep them in the event you might want to eat them in the next, I don't know, 5 years? Possibly keep them for the zombie apocalypse?? I'm really starting to believe the people on Craigslist don't even care about the zombie apocalypse.

Somebody must've gotten in trouble:
"Stuffed Animals"
"Kobuk the Husky Dog and Lambie the Puppet.
Used in excellent condition.

Pick up, please."

I don't know who Kobuk OR Lambie are, but I feel like there is a child in Atlanta who is SUPER pissed right now.

I see the Gideons have taken to Craigslist....:

Take my crappy old furniture, please!:
"Well worn recliner"
"Tan colored and large size 10 years old and well worn. It reclines fine, the main problem is the padding and all in the seat have gone flat. Also, there are two bolts that fell out of the cross brace underneath it, so it has a slight side motion sometimes, although that part should be easy to fix. Has a rip in the fabric, see picture #2."

A true salesperson created that write up of this dream boat of a recliner. "I have a really shitty recliner that my wife is tired of looking at. Please come pick it up so she doesn't divorce me". That would've been a lot better sales pitch.

Now THIS is a post!:
"HUGE jetted marble tub"

1) You must remove it, without damaging the house. House is being renovated, but you must pay for damage beyond the current state. All at your risk. This thing is about 400 pounds of thick cultured marble, so bring 6 + people and a huge truck. It is on the second floor, up some stairs, with a sharp turn. All egos aside, if you don't have some serious equipment and burly help, please stay away.

2) you must sign a release. This thing nearly broke my fingers yesterday & bent a flat bar.

Thanks to spammers, emails will not be answered. First come, first served.

 Call today, or this opulent masterpiece gets the jackhammer. "

Honesty is the best policy. And this post is brutally honest. I love it.

Somebody's been busy:
"Wine Bottles"
"I have about 30 empty wine bottles. They could be used for crafts or wine making. If anyone is interested in using them let me know. I am going to put them in the recycling bin at the end of the week if no one want's them."

THIRTY?! The real question is, if you didn't drink all of them in just a few days, why are you hoarding wine bottle?

Oh. God.:
"box of syringes with 20g needles for your livestock/animals"

Who wouldn't trust syringes you got for free on Craigslist?!

"A Pair of Glasses"
"I Have A Pair Of Glasses I Am Giving Away."

Good thing everyone needs the exact same pair of glasses

I have a feeling this post could go on forever, so I'll spare you. These were just a few of my favorites from the last couple of days. I do have to admit I gave away a couch on Craigslist once and it was awesome. I referred to the couch as a "Sexy Couch" (because it was absolutely heinous and I had no idea who would possibly want it) and the lady who ended up coming to get it referred to it as the "Sexy Couch" in every email. It was awesome. She also emailed me every time at like 3am and had an email address about Jesus and then added me to her Christian newsletter email blast. But she took the couch and it was awesome!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Dog is a Hippie

Recently, my dog was diagnosed with a pretty common back disorder called Intervertebral Disc Disease. The standard treatment for this is strict caged rest (must be penned/kenneled 24 hours a day, except to go outside) and, eventually, a costly surgery.

As with most dog owners, my dog is more than just my pet, he's my buddy. My furry child. He was a rescue dog and shows his gratitude to us everyday with tail wags and the happiest disposition of any dog ever. Not to mention, he's cute as shit. No, seriously, look.

See how freaking cute he is?! Jeez. I can hardly stand it.

Anyway, obviously he is awesome enough to warrant doing whatever we can to make sure he's a happy and healthy little thing. After a couple different "episodes" where he really had some trouble with his back, I decided it was time to find out our realistic options. They were as follows: Keep your dog caged forever and on strong pain meds or surgery that can cost up to $10,000 and might or might not cure the issue and could potentially leave your dog paralyzed. I didn't like either of those options, really, so the research weirdo in me came out. I research everything, literally everything, before I make a decision. Restaurants, neighborhoods, phones, food, shoes, doctors, cars, even flowers. Anything that I can research before I take action, I do. Fortunately, this is one of those things that makes sense to research and there was a lot of material on the subject. It seemed that every website had two different options: medical and surgical. The medical options included pretty much everything we were already doing and they didn't seem to be doing a whole lot to cure the cause. Then I started coming across websites that strongly recommended veterinary acupuncture. Yes, seriously. The more I researched it, the stronger the evidence that acupuncture is one of the most successful treatments for IVDD. I was sold. I asked our vet for her opinion and she offered an emphatic, "Go for it! And let me know how it goes!" Apparently she had been looking for a good homeopathic vet for her own animals and was hoping we would be a guinea pig for her! About an hour after that appointment, our vet called with a referral from another doctor in our usual clinic for a vet that offered acupuncture and a more holistic, eastern approach to veterinary medicine. I made an appointment immediately.

We arrived at the clinic and were quickly taken to the scale to weigh the little guy (which he promptly peed on, awesome) and then to the exam room. After some questions with the vet tech, our "hippie vet" (as I'll call her for ease of reference) came in and asked some more questions, looked at the forms I had filled out and started checking out the little guy. I'm pretty sure he thought it was just a massage and went along with it pretty well. We talked about what Chinese sign we thought he was (she thinks he's a fire because he's feisty and wants attention, I think he's an earth because he's loyal and will do anything to please me and his dad, yes, this was an actual conversation about my dog) and where he might have chi stagnation based on his pain and diagnosis and what Chinese herbs might be helpful to be able to get him off the heavy standard prescriptions he was on. And I asked about surgery. She noted that if a dog can still walk and act like a freak like mine, surgery should be a last resort. Man, was I relieved. After about 20 minutes of preliminary checking, "hippie vet" went and got her acupuncture needles and started working.

They start with a point on the head in between the ears called the "Sedation Point", which is exactly what is sounds like, just sedates the little guy a bit for the rest of the procedure. Then she went to town. Apparently I'm terrible at holding my dog down so someone can put needles in him that he totally doesn't want, so after about 5 attempts to put in the third or fourth one, they took him into the back so a nurse could help her. According to "hippie vet" I was distracting and he did great once he was out of the room with me. She brought him back to me with about 15 needles in all in different parts of his body. Quite a few in his back where the pain and issues are and a few in his legs for balancing points and other notable places in Chinese medicine that I don't remember what they're called. He literally laid down at my feet and it was like he was taking a nap!

You can see a couple of the needles in his black fur if you look REEEAAALLLYYY closely. I'll also point out that my little guy has NEVER, ever since we've had him, laid down with his back legs under him like that (aka like a normal dog). He always laid with them splayed out on the sides of him, which people would always remark on. I never thought anything of it, but now it makes a lot of sense. At that point, I was a believer in acupuncture. One treatment and he's already showing progress just in that one small thing.

The vet and vet tech both noted that he would probably just crash once we got home. Of course, once we got there, I realized the vet was right. He is a fire. Instead of passing out, he started trying to do laps around the house and stalk and tackle his toys. My little guy was back. Of course, one of the things medical journals will note is that when a dog starts feeling better from acupuncture they'll start acting like a maniac because they feel so much better, which is precisely when you have to get them back on lock down so they can actually heal. Remorsefully, I put him back in his play pen (yes, we keep him in a play pen for his caged rest) and he eventually settled down.

One treatment in and the little guy is already showing progress. I'm sure he'll still have his bad days down the road, but hearing the good news about probably not needing surgery for a while, if at all, was definitely a positive. He'll start on his Chinese herbs next week as we phase out the strong prescriptions and hope to have the old Doodle back in no time!

I highly recommend acupuncture as a relatively inexpensive treatment for almost any "major" malady in a pet (our treatments are about $60 each and we will need 8-10. This is compared to major surgery which would include two $2,000 MRIs and a surgery that can range anywhere from $1500 - $4000) . Granted, we're only one treatment in of 8-10 and possibly more in the future, but the holistic approach to the pet's well-being is something you won't find anywhere else. Will a holistic vet immediately force you to take your dog off drugs? Never. Will they force you to never do surgery? Absolutely not. They just consider the animal as a whole and consider internal problems that can be solved to fix the underlying issue. I hope that as we go along with his weekly/semi-weekly treatments we will be able to have a normal dog again soon.

*If you live in Charlotte, Animal Medical Hospital is a wonderful place where everyone seems to have a genuine interest in the well-being of your pet.
** I apologize that this was not a normal post in line with the rest of the blog, I just really wanted to share the benefits of holistic veterinary medicine from a personal perspective. I know a lot of people won't agree with this post, but it's something I really believe in.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The World is Ending and I Have Proof

In case you didn't know yet, the world is ending. It has nothing to do with 2012 or cults or aliens, though. It has to do with Snooki. And The Situation. And even the beloved Pauly D. The entire Jersey Shore cast has forsaken us to doom by becoming Christmas ornaments.

I came across these Christmas monstrosities at my local CVS one evening and almost vomited in my mouth. Seriously? This is what the world is coming to? I don't really mind the non-Christmas Christmas ornaments that depict pop culture icons like "I Love Lucy" or Elvis or even the ones with football players on them because even some football players have notable talents or skills, but Jersey Shore? Seriously? This is who people want hanging on their trees? No names who became "famous" by acting like drunken idiots and putting a bad name with an entire group of people? Awesome.

I have to admit that if I were still in college (and drinking heavily) I would probably purchase the whole lot just to make a White Trash Christmas Tree; complete with the entire cast of Jersey Shore, some Natty Light beer cans strung up, strands of lights that flash and only partially work, possibly even some used cigarette butt garland. I think that's a tree that I could really be "proud" of, but it seems like one of those things where you really have to go full steam, or not at all. One Snooki ornament could be enough to ruin an entire tree.

It seems that every year Christmas gets further and further from the point and closer and closer to the end of the world. The Jersey Shore ornaments are just the first sign that we're doomed. What's next, big box electronics retailers making fun of Santa in their commercials?! Uh oh....