Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dude, This Thing Claims I Have Mail. It's Amazing What We Can Do With Computers These Days. Dude, Now I'm Totally Reading It

Today at church, instead of having our normal meetings, the Bishop gave a lecture on the new church websites. The church has completely re-done the website and has introduced the new website, so the Bishop took us on a brief tour of these sites and their awesomeness. I was so excited he did this. Have I mentioned I love my Bishop? I do. He gives great lessons.

Anyway, I was so excited he did this because I had not yet had time to play with these websites, and had yet to unlock their potential. Did you know that on the new website you can download complete audio files of the scriptures for your ipod or smatphone? Did you know you can access the Friend online and play cute and educational games? Did you know you can find out what the Humanitarian Aid is doing and how you can help? Did you know you can search through a massive database and find a mormon who is your same gender, age, race, has the same interests, or has been in a similar situation, and find out about that person's life, opinions and testimony? That means I can instantly find other vegetarian mormons and read about they deal with ridiculous relief society lessons. Oh, I love it.

One of my favorite things is the ability to log in. If you log in, and you're a church member, you can access an online ward directory. That means three things: Since it's online, you don't have to keep the paper ward directory around to clutter up your house. You can instantly get the phone number of someone new to the ward, or updated information if someone just changed callings or their phone number, and the church is going to stop printing paper directories to save trees! Isn't that wonderful?!

It was a great meeting. I think my favorite part was when the bishop showed off the page for teenagers and talked about how is has a lot of youtube videos, and then went on to explain that "YouTube is a video sharing service where you can upload videos and watch videos made by others." I giggled. Sometimes I forget that some people have never used Youtube, or Google, or (gasp) Blogger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Bug! A Bug! What is is Lavender? A BUG!

I love Sunland. On a day when the rest of the United States is under snow, we decided to go to the tidepools in our awesome eighty degree weather.

It was a perfect day to go. The tide was lower was lower than usual and we found some pretty neat stuff. The first thing we found was a family of HUGE starfish:
The smallest on was bigger than my hand. They were big!

Drek found a big beautiful conch shell, which was home to a giant sea slug. We decided to let it live in peace.

And then we found this:
It's an octopus! We found an octopus! It was so cool! We snapped a few pictures and then it slipped of the Frisbee (great octopus catchers) and went home.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tea and Coffee and Tobacco they Despise. Drink No Liquor and They Eat But a Very Little Meat They Are Striving to be Great and Good and Wise

I attended our Relief Society meeting on Wednesday. The theme was "New Year, New You" and promised to be about eating healthy, exercise and my favorite topic: The Word of Wisdom.

I have learned my lesson. Really. From now on, when there is a ward function involving the Word of Wisdom, I promise not to attend. It just makes me upset and no one wins.

Let me set the scene for you:
This is a church activity so we are meeting in the church. Around twenty to thirty women, ages eighteen to really, really old, are sitting around the gym at various dinner tables, eating a delicious pot luck of salads, fruit and rolls. There are a few children, but not many. A few women have an infant in their arms. There are no males in the whole room. Let me emphasize that: This is a girls only activity. No boys were invited, no boys came. This activity is geared toward women. By women, for women, about women.

The night started out with a lecture from a nurse. She stands up in front with a microphone, explains that women need to value their health and then starts off on her topic. Her topic is Testicular Cancer.

Actual quote: "I've seen boys come in the balls as hard as rocks and I'm like: really? You didn't notice there was something wrong? Just like girls are supposed to do monthly self breast exams, boys should do monthly self...well, you know. They should check!"

Oh. My. Goodness.

She finished her topic (after briefly discussing Prostate Cancer. Why?!) and another girl got up to discuss healthy eating habits. She informed us that protein is very important and we all need more protein.

Actual quote: "Chicken is the best source of protein. I've learned to put chicken on everything! Put it on sandwiches, in pasta, in salads, in soups...anything you make with no meat needs to have some chicken! It's healthy!"

And that's about where I vowed never to underestimate the stupidity of humans. That is also about where I zoned out and gave all my attention to Ash.

No one even mentioned the Word of Wisdom. Not surprising since that second speaker has apparently never read it. That's okay. Neither has most of the church.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pretty Please? The Physical Appearance of the Please Makes No Difference

Rissy got off her mission today. I can't express how much I've missed her.

Of course, since I don't live in Hometown anymore, I couldn't be at the airport when she arrived. In September it occurred to me that since she was over seas, she could potentially have a layover at an airport within driving distance. This was very exciting, and I decided I would get a hold of her travel plans so I could meet her at the airport. I wanted her to meet Ash. And I wanted to see her again.

I did get a hold of her travel plans and she did, indeed, have a layover at an airport within driving distance, but by the time her plane landed her connecting flight was already boarding. She would have to run across the airport if she wanted to make her flight. There was no way she could even wave through a window, let alone go out of security, meet Ash, and then go through Security again. Besides, I didn't want to make her go through a Backscatter machine and extra time. I called the airport to ask if I could go through security without a ticket. The answer was no. It wouldn't matter how nicely I asked, the TSA would not let me go through security to run her to the connecting flight.

She landed at the airport today. Less than three hours away and I wasn't there. As it turns out she missed her flight, so she waited with nothing to do in the airport for almost an hour. Gah! Why wasn't I there?! Why?!

She called me when she got home. It was good to hear her voice. We're already making travel plans. I can't wait to see her.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I've Got It! Let's Flap Over to the East Side of the Jungle. They've Always Got a Bit of Action, a Bit of a Swingin' Scene, All Right

Today we went to the zoo! We went early, which was awesome, because there was so few people which meant that all the zoo employees talked to us so we got the inside scoop of the animals. Like that the oldest Galapagos Tortoise is around one-hundred-seventy-five years old, and the baby is a girl and only ten years old.

After we were done with the tortoises, we walked along a back path. Coming around the corner I saw a zoo worker walking a beautiful golden retriever. Following behind her was another zoo employee, holding a leash. Her leash was attached to a creature I couldn't fully see, because it had no yet come around the corner, but I could tell it was HUGE. I watched it and my eyes nearly bugged out when it came into view.

"That is not a dog." I said aloud. The zoo workers chuckled and said "No, This one is a dog, but this one is an adult male Timberline Wolf. "

Out for a stroll. On a leash. Sniffing the ground just like any other dog. Right in front of me. I mean, RIGHT in front of me. The wolf came about a foot away from where we were standing. He sniffed Ash and then happily went on his merry way. I asked if I could pet him, but the zoo works said that the public can never touch the wolves.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Think You're Pretty Smart, Don't You, Trebek. What With Your Diego Mustache And Your Greasy Hair. Look, What Did I Just Say About Racial Slurs?

We don't own a TV or a gaming system, so I have to find other ways to amuse myself. Today during Ash's naptime, I decided some good entertainment would be to call my Health Insurance (Company A) and ask why they are sending me "Final Notice" bills when we're set up for automatic payment.

I am on hold for twenty minutes before I decide to get online and see if I can figure it out that way. I called them through Google (did you know you can make free calls from Google? I do most customer service calls through them so they can keep me on hold forever and it doesn't eat up my cell phone minutes. I love Google) so I open a new window and find their website. First I have to create an account, then I have to log on. After that is done, I see that our detectable has been changed, but I can't see how. I also see me and Ash, but not Drek. And then I say "pay bill" so I pay our bill and then start an email to Company A (since they won't answer their phone) asking if Drek is covered because I can't see him, how are deductible has changed, and since they don't pay for well baby visits, how do I let them know that I paid for a well baby visit so it can count toward our deductible?

While I am writing that last part, I decide I need to be more specific, so I look up the date Ash had her well baby visit. I also want to add the amount I paid, but I can't find the receipt. I paid with our HSA (Health Savings Account) debit card, so I think that all the information will be online. I got to the HSA website, and realize I have to create yet another account. This one is not so easy. I don't know the information they are asking for so I have to call them too.

I am on hold with Company A through Google. I am on my cell phone with Company B. I am on Company A's website and am trying to log on to Company B's website. Entertaining, no?

Anyway, Company B says they can't tell me that information, but they can tell me where to find it, so I go digging through files and find the paper with answer to their question. I set the paper down in front of the computer. As I about to type it in, Company A FINALLY answers the phone! I have been on hold for thirty two minutes. I ask them my questions. They say Drek is over eighteen, So I'm not allowed to see him when I log on , but he is still covered, they say the new Healthcare bill changed the deductible and they said that when that happened, all automatic payment information was lost. I ask about the Well Baby visits and she informs me that under the new Healthcare bill, they will pay for all of Ash's Well Baby visits from now on. I am stunned. I ask her to double check, so she does. She checks my doctor and my plan and assures my that they will pay from now on. Wonderful!!

I thank her, hang up the phone, and then realize I've already started this account with Company B, so I might as well finish. I enter the answer, hit continue, and it gives me a crazy error message. I call Company B again, and the girl says she can help if I verify my address. I give her our address in SunLand. She pauses, and then asks if there is another address. I give her our address in Burgville, thinking we hadn't updated it. She says that's not it either. I give her our HomeTown address, that is also incorrect, but she says the state is right. I give her my parent's address, thinking I used that as a mailing address four years ago, she says that's not it. I ask her if it's the first address Drek and I lived after we were married. She asks what that address is and I can't answer because I have forgotten it. I remember the street, but she says she can't say yes or no unless I give the full address. So I go online to Google maps, type in the street, find the house, and look at street view. I zoom in to the address on the curb, give it to her, and she laughs and says no, that's not it either. I am baffled. She thinks I am am traveling vagrant and points out that we've only had this account for three years. Yeah. I move a lot.

And then I look down at the paper in front of me. On the top it is addressed to Drek and has his parent's address. I ask if that address is correct. She says that the address is, in fact, correct. Hooray! I win! It was right in front of me all along.

I don't need to watch game shows on TV, I create them for myself with customer service calls! Today on K La's Customer Service Calls, K La won two online accounts and free Well Baby visits! Join us next time on K La's Customer Service Calls!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I Shall Call Him Squishy. And He Shall Be Mine. And He Shall be My Squishy

I love Sunland. Last week we were freezing to death and slipping all over the ice-covered roads in Hometown, but this week we are walking barefoot on the beach and dipping our toes into the water. And my, was it beautiful:

We went to see some tidepools! Drek found a website telling us the the tides and the best time to go, so we went! There were all sorts of creatures and crazy rock formations. This was the most abundant creature. I have no idea what it is. If I had to name it, I would call it the Sea Gush. The video explains why. Any one else have a guess?

And we saw a crab! So I give you another video:

I held the shell that Drek gave me in the palm of my hand as we walked down the beach. Suddenly I felt a strange tickling. The shell was alive! There was something coming out of it! IN MY HAND!! I screamed and dropped it and Drek laughed at me.

And that is why I love SunLand.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Moment You Set Foot on That Casino Floor, They'll be Watching You Like Hawks. Hawks With Video Cameras

I'm not thrilled about the heightened airport security. I already think the TSA is not only useless, but a complete joke, so the fact they are spending MILLIONS of taxpayers money on new machines that no one wants and they've admitted won't keep us safer, makes me mad.

I'm a little worried about the radiation, I'm a little worried about my naked X-ray picture ending up on the internets or on the iphone of some perverted, lonely TSA worker. I'm even more worried about voicing these concerns in the security line because I am very opposed to a TSA agent sticking their hands down my pants.

So, once the announcement was made that every airport would have a Backscatter X-ray or a Millimeter Wave Scanner I did a little research. I looked up a list of which airports had which machines and purchased tickets based on that information. For instance: There is a small airport here in Sunland that does not have either machine. They are not the closest airport to us, but that's where we decided to fly from. I also discovered that the HomeTown airport only has a Millimeter Wave Scanner in one terminal, meaning as long as I didn't fly Delta, I was safe.

And thus, I purchased tickets for us to fly to HomeTown for Christmas. I admit, I was really hoping it wouldn't be an issue. I was hoping "National Opt Out Day" would get some attention and by the time I flew in December, the machines would be ancient history.

That's not how it played out. The security at the Sunland airport was fine. Not a Backscatter X-ray or a Millimeter Wave Scanner was in sight and all the agents were polite and professional. We arrived in the HomeTown airport without being blown up, but as I walked passed security I stopped dead: people going through security were being ushered through a very big and expensive looking machine.

"Is that a Backscatter?" I asked the TSA agent in charge of making sure people did not go in the exit.
"No, it's a Millimeter Wave. We just got it yesterday. Pretty cool, huh?" She said.
My mouth fell open. But, I did research! I drove farther than I had to! I didn't fly Delta! I'm not supposed to even see one of those machines! But I just nodded, not sure how anyone could think that it was "cool". There are multiple security lines in the HomeTown airport and only one Millimeter Wave, so maybe I could avoid it anyway.

Thus, I was a little anxious about flying home. We had an early flight, so Drek and I wanted to get there just an hour early, instead of ninety minutes early. We knew we could do this if we checked in online. The night before Drek got online and checked himself in, then turned the computer over to me. I went through the link, but when I entered my name it took me to a screen informing me that the TSA had flagged my lap infant as a possible terrorist and they needed additional information about her.

Really? I'm not flagged but my daughter is? Really?

So I entered her full name and date of birth. Except when I got to the year she was born, the drop-down menu only had two choices: 2010 and 2011.

Seriously? Because four day olds are known terrorists? Where was the 2009 choice? Drek looked it over and decided the programmer must have thought that since lap infants are two years old or younger, he would only put two year choices. And clearly it's more likely that my child would be born in the last four days, than in the entire three hundred and sixty one day span of 2009.

I tried entering her birthday as 2010, but it said what we entered didn't match their records (of course) and to see a flight agent immediately. I called my airline and explained the problem. The girl tried to override the system, it didn't work. She tried to give me 2009 as an option; it didn't work. So she tried changing my daughter's birthday to 2010 so the records would match. This only succeeded in having us red flagged. Great.

We got to the airport the next morning (an hour early. I was not going to get up at four in the morning because some web programmer is a moron) and to my dismay I realized that all the security lines had brand new Millimeter Wave Scanners. However, I also noticed that one of the machines had orange cones in the entrance, and no one was being ushered inside. Hah! Less than three weeks old and already broken. So we went through that line.

They did not pull Ash aside and they did not pat us down. In fact, besides the fact that one of the TSA agents was a complete jerk, it was business as usual in the security line. Still, I don't think we will be flying anywhere anytime soon. The entire situation is one I want to avoid.

Monday, January 03, 2011

What Can it Be? We're All Doomed! Who's Flying This Thing!? Oh Right, That Would Be Me. Back to Work

Today we drove the wrong direction on the freeway. It was super exciting.

Drek is driving down the freeway in Hometown. I am in the backseat, entertaining the baby, who is in her carseat. We are all wearing seat belts. The truck in front of us changes lanes, revealing that the cars in front of us are stopped. Drek slams on the brakes, I gasp and pray we can stop and aren't hit from behind. Ash takes another bite of her snack.

We do stop, we aren't hit from behind, and by now, no one is moving. We just passed an exit a quarter of a mile ago. We are in the right most lane, about five feet from the on ramp where, further up, cars are also at a standstill.

We turn on the radio and hear that there is a nasty multiple car accident, all lanes are blocked, emergency vehicles can't get to the scene and "avoid that part of the freeway because you can't get through, period." Oh noes.

We wait. A car passes us on the on ramp and has to stop. Another minutes passes. Another car comes and has to stop. A few more minutes pass and a brown station wagon and a green bug drive down the on ramp and stop behind the line of cars. The driver of the green bug looks at the freeway: all lanes blocked, no one moving, and looks behind him: the on ramp is all clear. He then puts his car in reverse and slowly drives back the way he came, going around a corner and everything. Drek mentions he was just thinking the same thing. I reply that it is too dangerous and we aren't in a hurry. Drek replies that we might run out of food and water. I look at Ash. She gobbles up the rest of her snack.

A minute passes. The brown station wagon goes into reverse and follows the green bug. The truck behind us does a U-turn on to the onramp. His truck is now driving forward, following the brown station wagon as they go the wrong direction on the freeway. He is followed by two more cars in reverce.

Drek decides to be bold. Despite my protests he follows the example of the truck: flipping a U-turn onto the on ramp. We are now in a very slow moving line of cars, some going forward like us, some going in reverse, exiting the freeway using an on ramp. Yes, it was terrifying. Surprisingly I was not afraid of getting hurt, I was afraid a cop would give us a ticket. I am so screwed up.

We turn the corner and flip another U-turn so we are now facing the correct direction in a correct lane. We drive over the freeway to take the back roads to our destination. As we drive over the on ramp we had just used as an off ramp, we see a very long line of cars following our example.

The cars that are unaware of the accident or the traffic jam and are trying to get on the on ramp have stopped in the wake of the dozens of cars facing both directions, trying to get off the on ramp. I giggled as I thought of what they must be thinking: "Wait, are we in the wrong lane, or are they? Are they all drunk? Are zombies attacking?"