Monday, December 14, 2009

Frequency

Did I say weekly? I guess I meant smi-annually....

28 Days or "Blame it on the H1N1 (Hine)"

So Kiki found out through work that Downers Grove South High School would be one of the DuPage County Center for Disease Control’s clinic sites for H1N1 (Blame it on the HINI!) vaccinations. She signed up Sam for the vaccine and sent me with him while she & Miette went to church. The Appointment was at 10:10, and we were instructed to be there at 10.
No problem, right?
So, I noticed a lot of cars turning down Dunham at 63rd St. If you know the High School, you can picture this, but there were cars lined up 1000 feet down the street. At Norfolk St (the next block), we were directed into the lot by large neon orange VACCINATION signs. A parking lot attendant, one of 2 total, promptly directed us back out of the parking lot…
So, I fought for a spot like I was at DSW, and finally got one about as far away from the main entrance as possible. So, I carried Sam up to the door, where we were greeted by “NO VACCINATIONS GIVEN WITHOUT AN APPPOINTMENT” signs in ingles and Spanish. We were then handed a clipboard and sent about 300 yards up a north-south hallway that was roped down the middle only to turn back south and wait in line. From there, we ambled along the 300 yards or so down the main east-west hallway to the west towards the “Cafetorium” (yes, Cafetorium) if you’re familiar with the school.
This was the worst part of the wait. The form was simple, but the school was hot. There were people everywhere and all the people there to get shots were either old or kids. Or parents holding Kids. There was no where to put coats, and if you were carrying a child like I was, no good way to take your coat off. Along the main east-west hallway, they had a rope line bisecting the hallway into 2 lines. All the CDC staffers – and there were probably 200 of them – were in orange windbreakers or jumpsuits with CDC in reflective tape on the back. They kept shuttling bins of clipboards and the occasional wheelchair up and down the hallway. Every other CDC person stormed through shouting “Stay to the wall, please! Pay attention and move forward!” I swear I saw a bullhorn, though I didn’t see it used.
At this point the immigrant camp scenes from “Children of Men” were swimming through my head. I literally had to stop myself and remind myself that I was just there to get Sam a shot, not get sequestered into some walled-off section of London.
We finally came to the end of the hallway and were stopped at a row of doors. Firelines of CDC employees held us there and relayed the number of patients they could take at a time in the various lines. The commons we were directed to was divided by folded-up dining tables arranged into cattle chutes and walls. In front of a table of 4 nurses, we had to wait in makeshift waiting areas that felt very DMV. The nurse checked the form and sent us to another makeshift waiting area. There were like 4 groups of 40 chairs. There were 2 CDC employees seating people then releasing them to wait in another line. That line ended in the big tiered band practice area. We were ushered there by another fireline to the person that actually administered the shot.
All told, it took about 40 minutes. Most of it eaten up by the lines, but the parking lot was incredible. I truly felt like I was in an outbreak movie. It was apropos that the last person we interfaced with reminded us to get the H1N1 booster “28 Days Later”.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dog Adoption

So, we wanted to fill the hole left when Rerun died with a new dog. We wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter because we feel it's the right thing to do.
We started our search on petfinder.com. Petfinder is a great site that allows you to search for all types of pets on all types of criteria. It does have some shortcomings, primarily that it's way overutilized causing some severe slowness on the site, but also the fact that you are dependant upon organizations of volunteers to update the dogs they have for adoption. It could also be vastly improved if it mimicked eBay's 'my eBay' format and beyond letting you save searches allowed you to "watch" pets.
The single most glaring need for petfinder in my opinion is to have the listing organizations agree to a single application so that you could log into the site, fill out a general application and then member organization could pull it down when you inquired about a pet.
If I had a dollar for every minute I spent filling out what is essentially the same 3-page application, I'd be able to cover the adoption fees.
Okay, so you've found a pet you want to adopt. You inquire. You apply. You meet the dog. Then, the shelter meets you.
I guess the main differentiator between shelters and pet stores is that shelters care who takes home the dogs. A little too much.
We were interested in a beagle mix at the Cicero Animal Control facility. For the uninitiated, Cicero is a near-western suburb of Chicago, and not exactly affluent. We went and met the dog. We applied. We returned to meet with the dog again.
Sidebar: On the end of the second visit, my daughter got startled by a loose cat and slipped on the wet concrete floor. Her nose bled like crazy and Kiki had heard the splat and was freaking out that she may have cracked her skull. I got them all calmed down and could find no signs of pain on my daughter after she calmed down. The next day she was fine. Un-Sidebar.
The next day, I called to clarify next steps since we'd left in such a hurry. I was told by the guy who answered the phone that we were denied. When I asked why, he said he couldn't tell me because "[I] might just lie to the next place [I] try to get a dog from".
I was shocked.
Before I continue, I need to point out that unless you're going to Chicago Animal Care and Control and paying $69, adopting from a shelter or rescue is not that much cheaper. The average adoption fee for any dog in this area is $200. Some costs go MUCH higher, but few are below $150. By contrast, my parents paid $350 for their AKC registered purebred yellow lab. What you do get from a shelter is an animal that's likely fully vetted, fixed, and microchipped. Often the organizations have a good idea of the animal's personality as they take a lot of time getting to know them. If I had to liken anything it'd be thrift shopping: Sure, you could go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill and search for hours and maybe find a diamond in the rough, or you could go to a vintage clothing store where someone's already done the sifting for you and pay their price.
We continued the search and were turned away from several shelters because we have young kids. Most of the shelters had typed the animals for children older than a certain age. The disconnect here is that shelters are very concerned with who the dogs go to because they can afford to be (Can Cicero, though? Or was the beagle just put down? I'll never know.). But they have to plan for the lowest common denominator of idiot who will neglect an animal or put an untrained dog in a room with their hellion kid unsupervised. Still, I don't think we give off that vibe, but still we were turned away based on dogs not being typed for kids younger than a certain age.
I then decided to lead with the story of Rerun and how we had to constantly watch him with Miette because he was old and cranky and in pain all the time. Shit, he'd bitten me 3 times in the face, each requiring stitches, you may recall.
The dichotomy is this: I could walk into any puppy store, fed by puppy mills, buy 3 dogs, eat 2 of them, then tie the other one in the yard until it starved to death and no one would be any the wiser. Of course, I'd never do that, but there were many places who wouldn't give us the benefit of the doubt. For a place like the Cicero pound, this still baffles me. If the pet's in a foster home and not slated for euthanization, that's something else.
I understand adoption organizations mandating spaying or neutering for adoption, but many also said adopters MUST have fenced yards, pre-pay for obedience classes obedience classes, and other stuff like that. That I don't get. That you can assume having things like that would make a good dog owner.
We did connect with a lot of great organizations. Magnificent Mutts springs to mind. As does Habitat for Hounds who performed their own multi-state search for us when the pet we were looking at was adopted by a previously interested family.
We finally found a dog through Coalition to End Animal Suffering. His name is Buster Brown and he looks shockingly like Rerun. He's a 12-pound mix of Chihuahua and Jack Russell (in my opinion). He may be the sweetest dog in the world. I am eternally grateful to CEAS for helping us find him. The only downside is he's heartworm positive, so now we're dealing with that.
Pictures will have to be forthcoming. Buster runs every time you point a camera at him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Billy Mays can eat a dick.

So for my birthday I asked for a Billy Mays Big City Slider Maker. I received said Big City slider maker and used it (after washing it per the instructions) to, um, make sliders.
Weeks pass and my wife asks me to make dinner one night, so I break out the Slider Maker. Kiki bought 92% lean beef, so I was making griddled buns and bacon to go with. I had about 4 pans going at once. Right as I was about to take the last batch out, I noticed the following.

Metallic paint on ALL the sliders. Seems like the miracle nonstick coating(TM) coats the burgers as well. Now I have to call the "As Seen on TV" hotline and try to return this thing. I'll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is... though I'm not sure this applies here...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maybe YOU are

Last night Kiki told a story at dinner about someone drawing a skinhead on a desk in her classroom. The story was about how incompetently the counselors at the high school she teaches at handled the issue (shocking, I know).
Sidebar, are there any school guidance counselors that are helpful? Mine, Mr. Anderson, should discourage me from applying to the list of colleges I brought in because he thought I'd never get into them. Then he'd spend the rest of our mandatory meeting time to tell me about his son going to Notre Dame on a tennis scholarship. Worthless bastard.
Anyway, Miette listened quietly to this story and the following exchange took place:
Miette: Mommy, was Richard at work today (a colleague of my wife's that Miette has met)?
Kiki: Yes, honey
Miette: Is he a skinnyhead?
It was another of those moments where you're dying to laugh but can't. You never know what they'll repeat.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A glimpse at my professional life.

This post is the result of a particularly terrible Monday I had a few weeks back. I'm posting it in hopes that a google search of Cisco and Plantronics Headset yeilds this info for someone, as it wasn't available for me.
For the Cisco Call Manager (telephone system) we use Plantronics headsets. CS-55s for the phones on the desks and CS-50/60s or Voyager 510s for the soft phones (PC-Based phone). The Headset with the desk phone has a button on the side for call control. Click it to answer or hang up on a call. The 2 for the softphone do as well, but they don't work without the Plantronics PersonoCall software and some other tweaking.
I was told by both my vendor and plantronics support that I did not need the software to make the call control button work. After a day of toiling on it, I got to someone at plantronics who knew what the f they were talking about and they told me that you do indeed need to install the PersonoCall software and do it before installing the Cisco Softphone. Additionally, you have to Designate the headset as the Handset in the audio tab or audio tuning wizard on the Cisco IP communicator.
These are all outlined by Plantronics in a document here:
http://www.plantronics.com/media/media_resources/literature/user_guides/cisco_IP_communicator_setup.pdf

http://plantronics.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/plantronics.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=9482&p_created=1197413729&p_sid=62BLSupj&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9MzMsMzMmcF9wcm9kcz0wJnBfY2F0cz0mcF9wdj0mcF9jdj0mcF9zZWFyY2hfdHlwZT1hbnN3ZXJzLnNlYXJjaF9ubCZwX3BhZ2U9MSZwX3NlYXJjaF90ZXh0PXBlcnNvbm9jYWxs&p_li=&p_topview=1

Fun, right? Insert cliche "At least I have a Job" here.

What up, Dawg?

So, we want to get a dog. Specifically, Miette wants to open a box on her birthday that contains a new dog. I have been using Petfinder.com (which rules) and pressing people I know that know things about dog adoption.
The double-edged sword here is that we're looking to adopt a stray, not buy a dog from a pet store. However, some shelters or foster homes charge $300 for an adoption. I guess I get it, because they're boarding the dogs and paying to have them fixed in some cases, but damn; at what point do you want to stop paying and let someone else take care of the dog?
The hard part of all of this is that any quick search on petfinder yields hundreds of cute dogs I can picture owning. The problem for me will be making a decision. If I do actually go and look at any, that's where I think it will end. I don't think I'll be able to walk away from any dogs I look at.
The other double-edged sword is how many great dogs are available at any time only means there are that many and probably tenfold more homeless dogs.
Adopt one, will ya?

F-

I miss you, Blog. I miss when I had time to write for you. I miss the time before facebook when I didn't condense my thoughts into a single sentence that starts with "Zach Is..."
I miss my old mutual admiration society. Chidester stopped blogging a long time ago, and Lindblog just closed its doors. I would make time for them. I haven't been able to make it for myself or other blogs like the Foggy Monocle or A Douchebag's Guide.
I do try to make time for Yelp, which gets posted here in the right margin, but even my posts over there are edited for time. I'm still a prickish snob, I just don't have time to tell you about it.
It's mostly because I have too much going on at work and at home.
So here it go. A re-commitment to updating this once a week. Word is bond.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WTF?


This is from an ebay vendor whose newsletter I'm on. I can't tell what message it's supposed to convey. It's called the hope battle flag... it's also listed as the Barack Hussein Obama flag. Weird.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Burgers forever!!

So, I went on a recommendation to Rosebud Prime on dearborn for their burger yesterday. It might, MIGHT, be the best in the city. I had to update my list on yelp. Check it out here:
http://www.yelp.com/list/burgers-in-chicago-the-best-and-the-not-so-best-chicago

It's been said!

So last night I got a robocall from my representative. Judy Biggert. I decided to opt in because I was on the other line with equifax. It was quite and interesting microcosm of the American political mien. The purpose was clearly to gauge how her constituents felt about the stimulus package. The outcome at the end of the call was 55 percent opposed, 45 percent for, though that was just a sampling of the people that answered a robocall and sat and listened to the conference call.
Throughout the 45 minute call, she took questions from the callers. Most were outraged at the state of the economy, and what was (not) being done to fix it. There were 2 calls from real people losing their homes, and others angered that the govt would give 700 billion to banks that fucked us and fucked themselves, but there was plenty of righty rhetoric about developing a "General Petraeus" battle plan to stem the democrat tide in the us. They were done answering calls before I knew it, but they transferred anybody who held the line into a voice mail box.
I said that while I didn't agree with the whole stimulus package, I was willing to let the new administration try anything at this point. I said that I knew she liked her job, as she mentioned at the close of the call, but then I asked what she'd done over the last 8 years to ease this crisis or help prevent its happening. Then I asked about a separate water issue we have in Lisle, but I don't expect her to do anything about it.
There's a prevailing feeling among republicans that we need to get more money in the hands of the taxpayers. I feel like that makes sense, but it sure as hell didn't work in May. I spent my stimulus check on bills. I think it's time we try something different, but it's the republicans' tax credits on home purchases and car purchases I think are the best ideas.
America has to end its binary blindness. The answer is not a republican strategy or democrat strategy. The answer is always somewhere in between.
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