Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Nearing the End

My father was taken in to see his oncologist yet again yesterday. He had a bone scan last week, and they determined that the cancer hasn't spread to his bones, but the cancer in his liver has spread and is very aggressive. My brother asked the doctor what kind of time line they were looking at. My sister and my father didn't want to know, so the doctor spoke with my brother privately. Last night when I got in from work, my sister-in-law (the family bearer of bad news) called me to give me the update. She asked if I wanted to know. After a long pause, I decided that I would rather know the prognosis. She informed me that my father has between 3 to 6 months.

The doctor again suggested that he should make alternate living arrangements rather than staying in his house alone. In the recent past my sister and another of my brothers has offered to have him move in with them, as they have one-floor homes, and he has refused. He still wants to stay at home. My sister-in-law suggested that we take turns staying with him until such time comes that he is not physically able to get around and will likely be hospitalized.

At this point only two of my brothers and myself are aware of the time he has left. My sister and my other brother do not know, nor do any of the grandchildren. The Squeeze asked me last night after the call whether or not I'd like to know how much time I had left if I were in my father's shoes. It was difficult to answer, but I finally said that I would. It would make me do things that I might not if I thought I had a lot of time left. I would spend more time with friends and family. I would probably do a lot of writing. I would let those closest to me know how much they meant in my life.

This is not going to be an easy time, especially after losing my mother to cancer nine months ago. So often I wish I could just go back in time. Back to my teen years when I didn't have a care in the world and Death hadn't yet come to call. But that is folly. I am where I am at this point in time as planned by someone or something much more powerful than me. I am blessed with a loving, supportive husband, and we have two wonderful little girls in our lives that bring us so much joy. I have an incredible network of friends who are there for me when the wheels fall off. I have family that has been dragged through Hell more times than I care to count, and I know we'll pull through this again. And I have faith that my mother and brother are waiting to welcome my father when his time with us here is done.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Sometimes The Jokes Write Themselves

OK, just had to share this from
The comments cracked me up, especially the last one.

Barack Obama Totally Looks Like Ilham Anas


All black people look prety much the same :-)


Dude… Not cool.


Whatever, it is true tho.

PS I am not a rassist.


nor are you a good speller…


Yes, you sir put the “ass” in RACIST!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Telephone Troubles

Just before the Christmas holidays, a sales rep from the local cable company wandered in and explained that they are now able to offer multi-line service for businesses. Since I have my home phone, TV and internet with this company, I know what a savings it is to have the flat rate bill and not pay through the nose for every long distance call I make. All calls to anywhere in Canada and the U.S. are included for no extra charge. We could now have the same savings here at work. Seemed like a no-brainer. So it was arranged that our phone service would be switched over the first week of the new year.

I was a bit surprised when the day came and not one, not two, but three technicians showed up to make the changeover happen. It was a fairly painless procedure and they were done changing our phone and fax lines within an hour. The only real difference was the number to access our voicemail is different that the old system, so that might take a bit to get used to. No big deal.

A couple of days later, I had people either come into the shop or call me on the phone stating that they hadn't heard back from me after leaving a message. I figured the first person might have just dialed the wrong number, but soon enough it became apparent that there was, indeed, a problem. I called the cable company, they did some tests, and everything seemed to be fine now. They figured that our old provider must not have discontinued our voicemail on their system and that the missed messages were in limbo out there somewhere. But like I said, they tested it, left a message, and everything was now fine.

After my business partner was in on the weekend, he batched out our debit terminal at the end of the day and noticed that when he did so, the light on our main phone lit up and displayed "Line in use". Something was wrong. The debit terminal should be on the fax/data line. The problem is that on occasion, customers want to pay over the phone by credit card, and if I'm on the phone with them, I can't process the payment and confirm for them that the payment went through.

I called the cable company and explained the problem and arranged for a technician to come in and fix the problem. Excellent. Everything would be fine. Then I realized something. Since we had the phone lines switched over we hadn't received any faxes. That seemed odd because at the very least we receive one of two junk faxes each week.

I went to the office next door and had them try to send me a fax. It rang and rang and rang, but never got answered. I called the cable company and explained my most recent issue. It was explained to me that perhaps our fax machine was not able to work on a digital line, and that I should check with the manufacturer to see if that was the case. I called Canon and asked them about it, and they told me that was correct, but that a simple fix might correct the issue. The technician walked me through a number of steps to change the speed of something-or-other (I'm a techno-peasant, what of it?), and said that it may or may not work depending on the amount of traffic on the line at any given time. So I went next door again and had them try to fax me again. Still nothing. I called the cable company again to ask what I needed to do to get my fax operational. I was told that I required a machine with Super G3 technology (whatever that is). So I went ahead and did some online research and decided to order a new machine that met that requirement from our local office supply place.

The new fax machine was delivered the next day. I put it together, put all the business information in there and set the date and time. Then I went next door again and asked them to try faxing me again. Same thing exactly. WTF? They suggested I try to fax them, which I did, and it worked fine. They tried to phone my fax number, and it just rang and rang. OK, I can send faxes, but not receive them. What's going on there? Fortunately, the new fax machine has a handset, so I decided to use it to call my main line. That's when I discovered what was wrong. A completely different number appeared on my call display. Our fax number had been changed.

You guessed it. I called the cable company yet again to ask why they changed my fax number. The customer service rep asked for the number that showed up, I told him, and he said, "Yep, that's your fax number. That's what I have here." I assured him that it was not the right number, and that I wanted the old number we've had for 15 years back. It's on our website, letterhead, business cards, advertisements, etc. He asked me to hold while he tried to figure it all out. When he returned about ten minutes later he said, "Ya....we have a bit of a problem here. It appears that your previous supplier did not want to re-release the number to us."

"Well, that certainly is a problem for you because I informed your sales rep of our phone number and our fax number, and they were both to remain the same. Had we been told that one of the numbers would be changed we would not have switched over," I explained. "As it is, I've already spent nearly $200 on a new fax machine because I was told that our old one wouldn't work on the new line, only to discover that this one isn't working because the number is wrong. It's quite possible that the old unit would have worked after all. So much for saving money by switching over."

Then he explained that we can have our old number back, but it would take about five days. Why he didn't tell me that right off the bat is beyond me. He made it sound as if we were unable to get it back at all.

Next on my list was to call the sales rep who sold us this service. I explained my dissatisfaction and he was very apologetic. He has no idea how the number got switched, but he assured me that he would look after it and make sure everything will be corrected. He's never had this problem before. Of course. That's because it never involved me in the past. I was sure to mention the likely unnecessary purchase of the new fax machine to him as well. We'll see what happens, but I won't hold my breath.

Today one of the cable company's technicians came by and worked his magic. He completely understood what I was telling him, and he got to the root of the problem and did a bit of rewiring and got our debit terminal back on the data/fax line. He was hoping he could get our old fax number hooked up while he was here, but unfortunately that was not to be. Next Tuesday is the date we've been promised.

Speaking of phones....

Over the past several months I've been telemarketer-free here at the shop. It was so nice not being bothered several times a day that I sort of forgot about those calls coming in and what a pain in the ass they had been. As it seems, nothing lasts forever. Yesterday they began again. I received a call from some scammer from "IPA". This number used to appear on our call display a lot. They say they are some sort of management consulting company and asked if we had a chance to look over the information package that was dropped off last week. There was no package dropped off. This is one of their lines. As I recall, the number they call from is in Chicago, so I highly doubt that they'd be "in the neighbourhood". I told the guy that I was sick of getting calls from them. They called a while back and were supposed to have someone stop by to see us. It never happened. I told him to stop wasting my time and not to call again. Things got a bit heated, I did a bit of yelling. It was kind of nice to get it out of my system.

I keep a list by the phone of numbers that have called and been nothing more than this type of lame telemarketing/scamming. I make a habit of quickly Googling strange incoming numbers, and more often than not, the "Who Calls Me" website pops up, indicating it's a telemarketer/scammer. Earlier this afternoon the phone rang and displayed one of those numbers and when I answered I said "Toronto Fraud Unit". "Yes, hello," said the woman calling, "Do you accept Visa and MasterCard?" "Excuse me ma'am, but you've got the Toronto Police Department Fraud Unit." I was amazed at the speed at which she said "Oh, I'm sorry! Wrong number." and hung up.

I could have some real fun with this.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Back On The Wagon

I was supposed to have my annual-and-a-bit check-up with my cardiologist next Monday. The last time I saw him was around October of 2007, and he was impressed. I had been taking care of myself for the first time in...well, ever really. I made it a priority to get my ass on the treadmill every morning for an hour, and I was being a bit smarter about the food I ate. I had gone from a "HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN!?" 375-380 pounds to a somewhat healthier 280. Yes, he was blown away.

Since that time I have pretty much abandoned that healthy routine. I have had intermittent knee/back/hip/sciatica pain that I was able to use as an excuse to avoid the treadmill. I also had to deal with the sudden illness and subsequent death of my mother in April. Every day after work for a couple of months I would go through some drive-thru and grab a burger and fries or something just as evil, and I would eat it while I drove to Hooterville to visit my mother in the hospital before visiting hours ended. I stuffed down my feelings with junk food, looking for comfort, and instead, created a cycle of self-loathing for having no self-control. Now that my father is battling cancer, I feel like I'm still spiralling out of control awaiting the latest news or test result from his oncologist.

I've lost sight of what led me to lose the weight in the first place. Initially, it began with fear of the direction of my business, which caused me to lose my appetite. I lost a few pounds and figured perhaps I could use this to my advantage. The biggest factor though, was the desire to be around for a long time to watch my girls grow up. So now I'm focusing on that thought again.

Like I said, I had my cardiologist appointment scheduled for this coming Monday. That thought filled me with fear. When I was at my heaviest, he would harp on me about heart disease, diabetes, and all those other fun things that so far I managed to dodge. "You're a ticking time-bomb", he'd say. And it would scare me. I also felt like a failure. The last time I was there I felt great. The doctor did everything but kneel and bow before me for my achievement. I was proud of myself. In less than a year and a half, I have gained back 45 pounds and do little to no physical activity whatsoever.

I dreaded this appointment coming up. I remembered that at my last appointment he had given me a requisition form for some blood work to be completed prior to this upcoming appointment. Where this form is now I have no idea. I found it a few months back, but since then it has disappeared. I called the cardiologist's office and spoke with the receptionist about the form. Apparently it takes one to two weeks for the results to be obtained and sent through, so we'd have to re-book our appointment and I could pick up a new requisition form at the office. I requested a Monday appointment so I could get in on my day off. The next available Monday appointment is in May.

This morning I got back on the treadmill for 30 minutes to get back into it. If I get serious again and maintain a daily routine on the treadmill and watch my diet, by the time that appointment rolls around I could perceivably lose most, if not all, of the weight I had put back on. This is going to be a pretty intense four months.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


New Year's Heave

My little puppy Stella has come of age. She's six months old and was in need of being spayed. Since I've got the luxury of being off for about two weeks over the holidays, I figured it would be best to have it done during that time so she could recover at home and not at work with me where people inevitably get the urge to pick her up. After a bit of research and advice from clients and friends, I decided to go with a vet about 30 minutes from home rather than our usual vet two blocks away. It's a cleanliness issue really. Our usual vet is fine for check-ups and shots, but I don't get that clinically sterile feeling from them. Could be the dirty, urine-stained peel & stick tiles on the floor and the stench of urine in the place. Not only does the new vet have a very clean-looking place, their prices are considerably lower than any in our immediate area. The other added bonus is that they are open 24/7 and do surgical procedures day or night.

I booked my appointment for the evening of January 30. I dropped her off mid-afternoon and the spaying was to take place between midnight and 3:00 am. Stella was a bit freaked out as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. She began whimpering before I parked the car. How do they know? She was checked out by one of their vets, paperwork was filled out, and she was led away. Of course I was concerned with her being away from The Squeeze and I, but I tried to put that out of my mind.

I received a call the next morning stating that she was ready to go home at any time. The surgery went well and she was recovering. I drove in to pick her up and made it back home before noon where I waited for Weezie to drop off the girls for us to have overnight so she could ring in the new year with some friends.

Perhaps the timing wasn't great because trying to keep a nearly four year old and a two and a half year old away from a post-surgery puppy is about as easy as herding cats. Stella was pretty groggy and was not herself. She had no interest in eating, and didn't even want to drink her water. Shortly after Weezie and the girls arrived, Stella vomited a couple of nice puddles of yellowish-orange bile onto the rug. I ran off to get the can of carpet cleaner from under the sink, and I heard Weezie yelling at Brynn. "No! Don't touch that! NO!!! Don't put that in your mouth!!! GROSS!!!" What is it with kids? They won't eat their dinner but they'll put dog barf in their mouths.

Later that afternoon when The Squeeze came home, we had dinner with the girls, and Stella was wandering around under the table doing her usual "I hope one of these monkeys drops something" thing. I figured she might just want to eat something, so I thought I'd put a few tiny pieces of ham in her food dish among her kibble. She inhaled the ham, so I thought things were looking up. No sooner did I turn toward the sink and turn back, and there was another pile of bile (Now With Chunks 'O Ham!) on the kitchen floor. I guess it was wishful thinking that she was ready to keep anything down.

As the evening wore on, I put Brynn and Zoe to bed, and it wasn't that long afterward that The Squeeze and I followed. I was unsure whether we should allow Stella in our bed as she has been for the past couple of weeks or to put her in her crate, but The Squeeze figured that she was done throwing up, so I agreed.

Stella parked herself on my half of the middle of the bed, leaving me with around a third of the bed. Tossing and turning were out of the question for me. I stayed awake for quite some time, worried about hurting Stella's incision and listening for one or both of the girls to start crying. Right at midnight I heard some muffled screaming. I sat up, figuring it was Zoe, because it didn't sound like crying, but more like shouting. At that same exact time, Stella saw fit to vomit on the fitted sheet right where I had been lying. "Happy Freakin' New Year", I thought to myself.

I went down the hall to Zoe's room, and she was fast asleep. I walked back into the bedroom and heard the screaming again. Turns out it was a couple of kids whooping it up outside their house across from us. I grabbed a wet cloth and scrubbed at the vomit on the bed. What the hell do I do now? The Squeeze is snoozing on his half of the bed, the spare sheets are in the bedroom where Brynn was sleeping - and I dare not walk in and wake her up! I couldn't go sleep in the basement like I had to do the previous night (due to disturbing noises coming from The Squeeze's CPAP machine) because I wouldn't hear the girls if they woke up in the night. I did the only thing I could do. I put a T-shirt over the wet spot, put Stella in her crate, and crawled back into bed.

Here's hoping that this ordeal is a farewell to 2008 and not an omen of what 2009 has in store.

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