Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More sullen, bloated government inefficiency – the background

We all know that I can be, well, a wee bit stubborn. Wee. And that I have a long history of doing things for the principle of the thing, no matter what a time/money/energy suck it turns out to be.

So given that, it should be no surprise that I’ve been contesting rather vigorously the increased assessment of my dumpy humble abode – you know, where the grand poobahs of Chicago decided that, all evidence to the contrary, we here in Chicago live in a microcosm of prosperity, where property values have gone up significantly from 2008-2009. By 74% in my case. Seriously. Even I can’t make this shit up.

To improve my mood even MORE, because you can look up everyone’s assessments online, I can see that my yuppie neighbors with their gut rehabbed single family home that they have on the market for $1.3M – yeah, they got a huge decrease and are now assessed lower than me. Again, with my place worth less than half that. This is just not right on so many levels that I refuse to let it go.

Therefore, I file my appeals. Simple enough process, whereby you look up houses comparable to yours (“comps”, they call them) that are assessed lower, take pictures if need be, send it all in and wait. These were the results:

First appeal – nada. “Our analysis indicates the assessed valuation should remain as originally proposed.”
Second appeal – same.
Third appeal – they throw me a bone in the form of a slight reduction, though I’m still higher than yuppie neighbors. “Geez, this one’s persistent. Give her some miniscule reduction, maybe she’ll go away.”
Fourth appeal – this one is to the Board of Appeals, whereby I take some forms to one of the County Buildings and they get back to me with a court date.

Friday was that court date. Thursday I wander around in the blustery cold to take pics of the comps I’m offering up, and throw in a few of Yuppie House for good measure. According to their instructions, you should take pics of the front, back, garage, etc., so I do, and seethe even more when I see that one of the comps is also a beautifully rehabbed house, with a spankin’ new 3-car 2-story brick garage with a roof deck. WTH? Do they have monkeys doing assessments with a dartboard or something?

So for Friday, I plan ahead. The appointment is at 2:45, so I assume that I’ll get called up probably around 4PM or so. And that we’ll be herded up all at the same time, so I won’t get my say until maybe 5, given how I’m usually last in the queue with these things. This means I need to park in a parking garage, since you get towed if you’re on certain streets between 4 and 6, and there’s NO way I’ll be done before 4. Ha, as if! Let’s recall my numerous trips downtown to Small Claims Court and dealing with Dwight (“ID, yes or no!”) and getting into a tug-of-war with the security guard who thought my keychain was a lethal weapon and wanted to confiscate it (Me: “I don’t have time for this shit!”). Ah, the memories.

I park, leave the Keychain of Doom in the car, grab my dog-eared copy of War and Peace, the XL thermos of coffee, the huge bag of trail mix, and of course my huge file of documents, pictures, and spreadsheets - and set off. As ready as I'll ever be.....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ask and ye shall receive

Now that the H2H Posse is growing by leaps and bounds (welcome Laura!), of course we’re already thinking about how we can show off the girls to their best advantage, even as we’ll be kicking ass in the race part of the whole thing itself, this 10K. Or marathon. Or half. Or whatever it is. Clearly, we’re very serious about the running part.

So JoJo posits this most important question: “I wonder if they sell push-up sports bras?”

Something that could have kept us busy for months, but then, as if fate willed it this way, just this morning Alert Reader Molly sent me a link to the following product:
No, it’s not someone with the drains and tubes following surgery, which was what I initially thought. It’s the “Wine Rack”! But wait, they can explain it better than I ever could, in spite of their apparently pidgin English:

“The Winerack every girls best friend. Turn an A cup in to double Ds and sport your favorite beverage for yourself and your friends. Better than a Boob Job and Cheaper Too. Not to mention the savings on over priced drinks. We developed The Winerack to Fill Out our product line if you will. The picture shown here is of our good friend Drea, who is not, no offense Drea, Well Endowed. Sporting the Winerack and Voila’ Drea’s giving Pamela Anderson a run for the money. Take a bottle of wine, a mixed drink or even a fifth of your favorite hard stuff to the movies, concerts, ball games, even PTA meetings. Sporting a rack that will turn heads and serving a beverage that will have guys standing in line for a sip of your secret stash. With simple blow into the tube it's easy to keep that full look even as you drink from your secret stash.”

So not only can you stash a fifth of whiskey in your bra and be slurping away while showing off the new cleavage to your fellow drunkards – but then you can help yourself pass out by continually blowing into the tube to keep yourself busty! Nothing like a little hyperventilation to go with that raging drunk you’ve got going on.

Of course, I won’t need such a thing since I’ll be sporting the new Boobages in all their glory – though Alert Reader Mark did mention that this could be a good substitute for a Camelbak. Wait, which begs the question, why did I get The Rack via surgery, if I could have just gone with the WineRack?? Hmm.

Is it too late for a refund?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The exploding breast implants of death!

So to recap: these days, when I fly through an airport, I’m still being forced to pull out my CPP (Crumpled Piece of Paper) in lieu of my driver’s license for a ticket I received SIX MONTHS AGO. Not that I’m upset about this or anything, oh no. Because I always have that expired passport I can whip out as my identification – since I can’t get THAT renewed until I get my damn license back so that I have some form of picture ID. I also have a titanium collarbone, which so far the metal detectors haven’t picked up (hello! Bomb made of titanium maybe?), and of course, the Fuck Cancer hat paints me as a troublemaker right from the start. Not to mention the fact that I’m often traveling with the dreaded and sinister GU or (gasp!) chamois cream, all waiting to be confiscated. And has been. Because god forbid they should stop the guy with no luggage who bought his one-way ticket with cash and is sporting an “I Luv Terrorists!” t-shirt, when they could protect a planeload of people from me and my GU. Okay, so if it’s a ClifShot gel then maybe I could see that, heinous as they are, but GU? No.

So what with all this as well as my typical surly mien when traveling, it’s hard enough to get anywhere. And then, I read this article , an excerpt of which is below:

“Breast-implants packed with explosives could be used by terrorists to blow up an airliner, experts have reportedly warned. Radical Islamist plastic surgeons could be carrying out the implant operations in lawless areas of Pakistan....explosives experts have reportedly said just five ounces of Pentaerythritol Tetrabitrate packed into a breast implant would be enough to blow a “considerable” hole in the side of a jumbo jet. It would be virtually impossible for airport security scanners to detect the explosive if hidden inside a breast, medics have said. Joseph Farah, a terrorism expert, told The Sun: "Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery."

Great. Just great. Now, when someone posted this on YSC and a woman asked how this would actually work, i.e. how the would-be terrorists would access the implants in order to add the necessary liquid or whatever to get them to explode, I of course had to pipe up and mention my adjustable boobages – you know, with the port, where it’s easy enough to use a needle to access the port and add saline. Or, umm, the appropriate explosion-inducing material.

Yeah. So. I’m looking at my probable impending trip to Guantanamo as a good thing, as long as they let me take my laptop and I get some internet connectivity. Because really, what better way to win the Bat Girl contest than to have an entire prison full of men voting incessantly for me all day long? Okay sure, so they’re all Muslim, but maybe I can tell them it’s a “Vote for the worst infidel!” contest? Hmm, maybe I need to rethink this.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy time with.....the IRS??

We all know that I pretty much make my living – such as it is – railing against the injustices foisted onto the little people by various corporate and government monoliths. Primarily BCBS and the IRS, in that order. Dealing with them, or the thought of having to deal with them, keeps me up at night. Because we all know how those calls to BCBS generally go:

Me: So I received this bill for $8K for my surgery and I don’t understand what it’s for?
BCBS lackey: Let’s see.....oh, that’s because there was a doctor in the room.
Me: A doc....what?
BCBS lackey: Yes, we decided that the doctor was unnecessary, so we can’t cover that.
Me: The doctor wasn’t necessary for surgery?
BCBS lackey: Yes. Oh, excuse me, my special “Congratulations, you’re a Rockstar” iPod just got here, as a reward for my skill in denying claims for stupid asshat reasons. Gotta go – have a great day!

So you see why I’d be equally perturbed about talking to the dreaded government. The bloated, inefficient government, so unlike the stellar service that we’re used to from the giants of private industry. You know, like the cable company, AT&T, any bank, etc. Wow, the service they offer – truly amazing.

Anyway – as we know, I had spoken to the IRS about a week and a half ago, whereupon the guy I talked to told me it was clear that no one had done jack shit about my situation (paraphrasing here), and that he’d assign it to an IRS Taxpayer Advocate, who’d call me within the next 7-10 days. And I relay what happened here simply out of a sense of fairness, i.e. if I'm going to gnash my teeth over these people when they act like total fucktards, then I should also....well, you'll see what I mean.


I’m talking on the work phone to David from Mintel, discussing a report, and my cell phone keeps ringing, but I ignore it because I’m on a work-related call, and I’d never be so rude as to dump one call for another.

Me: So we’re not trying to boil the ocean here, or throw a pie in the dark, as it were.....(phone is now ringing for the 3rd time)
David: Do you need to get that?
Me: Let me just see who it is, I’ll be right back....hello?
Pleasant lady: Hi, my name is Michelle, and I’m the Taxpayer Advocate from the IRS...
Me: Oh HI, thanks so much for calling! (Hang up the work phone.) It’s great to hear from you!
PL: Well, I’m just calling to try and help straighten things out for you, so hopefully we can do that...

What follows is a Stepford-like conversation with an uber-nice woman who’s looked at all my records, agrees that nothing has been done so far and it’s not clear as to why (there seems to be some kind of notation somewhere that I filed for bankruptcy at some point, which I didn’t), but she’s going to get it figured out, by golly. The fact that for some unknown reason other than my astonishing bad luck the IRS also doesn’t have a record of my 2004 returns, which I certainly DID fill out and send in on time? No problem, she’s giving me extra time to find a copy of that return. And she’s so nice and chatty in the process that I just want to invite her over for some bundt cake and tea. And I practically do, as we’re wrapping up our conversation.

Me: Thank you SO much, you’ve been so helpful, you have no idea how much I appreciate this, it’s all been keeping me up at night from stress.
PL: I’m happy to help – we’ll get all this figured out!
Me: And if you’re ever in the neighborhood, stop by for some cake! And tea!
PL: I’d love to!

Okay, so that’s not exactly how it went, but almost. And the year is still young, so the big Cake and Tea Par-tay with the IRS could still become a reality. Now, could someone explain to me again how much worse it is dealing with these inefficient government bureaucrats? Anyone?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Miss Tasha needs a favor

I think of us as having a contract of sorts, you and I. I eke out my little hardscrabble existence here in BlogLand, baring my soul and mining my life for interesting tidbits to share, trying to keep the ranting to a minimum unless it’s funny ranting – and luckily (?), fate seems fit to always supply me with plenty of stuff to write about. Plenty. Of. Stuff.

And you guys, well, I don’t ask much in return. Just readership. That makes me happy, when people read what I write. I’m easy that way. Other than that, just the usual: accolades, praise, comments, awe, admiration, Pulitzer nominations, more praise, and the occasional bonbons. So you see, not really much at all. Until now. When I’m asking you all, my faithful twelves of readers, to do a favor for me. You see...

I want to be a Bat Girl.

Yes yes, it’s one of those Pinkishness events, but we all know that I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ll glom onto anything I can get out of The Cancer, any kind of schwag, pink or not. For this, I’m not sure exactly what’s involved, but I think you get to meet some of the players, take pictures on the field, and get an awesome pink bat. Now, how much use would I get out of a pink bat?? I’m just sayin.’

Schwag aside, there’s another reason I want to do this. Now, I know that as far as the Blackhawks go and their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month, I’m not ever getting a damn thing out of them. Hell, last year they didn’t even bother responding to my emails. And I’m pretty sure – new boobages aside – that I’ll never be picked as the Bimbo for the Kid, the Geek, and the Bimbo contest during Hawks intermission. But this, this White Sox thing is possible. And it’s important to me because the last time I went to a White Sox game turned out to be the Day From Hell. Worse than the day I was diagnosed, just a few weeks before that. Because on this day I had such high hopes – I’d see this new doctor, get my medical team together, we’d decide on a treatment plan and be off and running. And in the meantime, my brother was in town from CA and I had gotten tickets to a White Sox game – which I had to leave after only a few innings, as unfortunately that was the only day this doctor had available. And it was a beautiful, perfect summer day to boot.

Several hours later I was careening home on the streets of Chicago, in a raging fury, yelling at the world, at God, at my stupid fucking life for being so fucked up in every single thing, at the unfairness of the world and everything in it. This, after being told that my only option was a mastectomy, that chemo didn’t work on my kind of tumors, that it was such a big tumor that I almost certainly had lymph node involvement, and oh yeah, that even with reconstruction, my breast would “never look anything like a normal breast.” So I’ll die at an early age AND be disfigured. Sweet! Talk about being handed a hopeless pile of shit to deal with.

I still get teary when I think about that day.

Unfortunately, my brother bore the brunt of my rage when he got home from the Sox game that day, as I told him the news and he uttered the unfortunate words “it could be worse”. My response to him was couched in my usual subtlety, something along the lines of “SURE, it could be worse, if you’re a starving Biafran refugee with AIDS, but I guess that means if you’re not then no one has any right to complain or be unhappy or pissed off about ANYTHING because it could ALWAYS be fucking WORSE, and furthermore you people with perfect happy lives do NOT get to tell ME that it COULD BE WORSE!!

Yeah, so that didn't work out so well. And since then, I haven’t been back to a White Sox game. I want to, but I haven’t gotten past how upset I am when I remember the horribleness of that day, a day that should have been the happiest of memories, hanging out with my bro at a ball game, having a great time.

I want that day back.

Or at least, I want a day that’ll erase the memory of the shitty day, and replace it with a day so absurdly pink in all its sartorial splendor that it’ll completely crowd out and overshadow every trace of Shitty Day, once and for all. I want my brother to come out for the game, and we’ll eat carcinogenic hot dogs and drink mai tais and have the day we should have had, but better. Because even though I live with the constant worry that the cancer will be back, that it’ll metastasize, that my days are numbered, at least now I know that I have kickass doctors who have my back, always – so at least that’s one less thing to worry about. Plus I’d have that pink bat and all.

So if you’re wondering why you should take 5 minutes out of your day to vote for me, here are my reasons:

1. Because you like me. You really really like me. Maybe?

2. Okay, even if that’s not the case, you get a vicarious thrill out of seeing my life dissolve into chaos on a regular basis, tuning in just to see How Tasha’s Life Gets Fucked Up Today. I know, it’s a never-ending saga. And with this game event, even though I’m sure they have it all choreographed like a well-oiled machine, you can pretty much guarantee that if I’m involved, some part of it will turn into a shambles. I know this to be true, as this is my life.

3. My brother would be in 7th heaven. And he deserves to be a part of something like this – he’s been amazing throughout all of this, a solid rock of support, he and his wife both, and I can never repay them for all their thoughtfulness and kindness. Thanks bro.

4. For a brief shining moment, I would be happy – the kind of happy that you can only get from being at a perfect baseball game with your awesome brother holding your very own pink bat. Yeah, that kind of happy.

And in return, if chosen, I promise you this:

1. You will never hear me talk about how this is my “breast cancer journey,” or a blessing, or anything of that ilk. Yeah, journey my ass – like we’re on a fricking tour of Italy or something. And I will never EVER start a sentence with “I was given this pink gift....” – and I’m not even making that one up. That’s another entry in the Bat Girl contest. Repeat: not mine.

2. I will use my pink bat judiciously and with reason, perhaps as a substitute for the frozen ham I on occasion like to wield like a cudgel. Though as far as restraint, I make no promises when it comes to anything having to do with the phrase “Pink Warrior.” What the hell does that even MEAN, exactly?? Are you fighting against the pink? Are you a large pink version of a Viking, say? This concept boggles my mind so much that I honestly just don’t even know what to do with it.

3. I will try to work one of my many pieces of Fuck Cancer attire into the picture somehow at the game itself. Maybe by stuffing a banner into my bosom, to be unfurled at an opportune moment? The possibilities are endless.

I think that’s all I got. As far as the voting is concerned, it’s here (and yes, the text for my little story is somewhat garbled due to their formatting issues), or you can sort by “votes” and find me, Tasha-H, on page 2 or 3 or god knows where I might be at this point. And I’m not saying that you can vote many times (I think up to 24) per day (per browser!) for the same person, but......hell, that IS what I’m saying. Vote early, vote often, vote as many times a day as your little hands can stand. Put the kids to work! Shirk under your boss’s nose, as you look industrious, tapping away at the computer!

Or just wish me luck, and a gorgeous sunny day for when I do finally make it to another White Sox game.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

The posse grows!

Okay, momentum is building for the Hooters to Hooters half-marathon for 2011. To date:

Kim: I'm in if you're in! Now we just need to come up with creative shirts to wear....

JoJo: Do they check the "authenticity" of the Hooters before allowing you to run? 'Coz I may want to give mine a boost so I don't feel left out!

Oldman: Looking forward to doing the Hooters to Hooters half marathon with you next year!

Clearly, this is just the beginning of a huge groundswell of support and participation, and I predict that as the REAL Hooters girls (and guys), we will own this race. Whatever the hell that means. But I suggest that you jump on the Hooters bandwagon now, less you miss out on this opportunity.

I, for one, to show my dedication to this event, plan on adding a race calendar to the sidebar of this blog, so that everyone can see written in stone (or typed in an easy-to-remove text box) just how serious I am about my athletic endeavors.

So far for 2010-2011 we'll have:

August 2010: Tasha and Stacey's crazy-assed cycling trip in the Alps
March 2011: Hooters to Hooters Half-Marathon

I know.....the mind reels.....

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I'm sure I'll have more to say at some point about health care reform, but for now, there's just......jubilation. And relief, that the Dems managed to get it together long enough to pass this. Pride, that the U.S. will no longer be the only developed country that doesn't ensure health care for all its citizens, not just the wealthy. Tears, for Jen and Kristine and all the others who died while trying to get medical treatments that their insurance companies denied. Hope, that that'll be less likely to happen in the future.

And my usual two words for the Republicans: suck it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


So it’s been, let’s see, 5 months and counting now since I’ve seen my driver’s license because of that damn ticket. And we’ll recall that my phone call to the test-taking facility produced the information that oh, my license should have been sent back to me right after I paid the fine, i.e. months ago. And he gave me a number to call to check up on things – the number to the dreaded Daley Center, of all places, aka Bureaucratic Hell.

Of course, I put off calling, waiting until the day I’d be able to handle the ensuing maddening conversation without breaking down completely. In the meantime, I played out the whole scenario in my mind – umm, just like the game theory I learned at Wharton, yeah, that’s it. Where you picture what’s going to happen so that you know how you’ll react and will be prepared. So I had looked up how much it cost to get a new driver’s license when it’s lost, felt my blood pressure rising as I imagined the conversation in which an apathetic county worker told me my license was mailed out months ago, it must have gotten lost in the mail, and oh well, too bad, I’d have to shell out more money to get a new license, and then wrote in my head my indignant letter to those “problem solver” people in the newspapers to see if they’d look into my tale of woe.

This was what actually happened:

(after making my way through automated phone hell to talk to a real person)

Me: I’m just trying to figure out what happened to my driver’s license.
County lackey: Let me look that up – it shows that you completed the driver’s ed course...
Me, working myself into a state of righteous indignation: Right, and I know you're going to tell me that you mailed out my license mon.......
CL:.....and your court hearing date was March 10th, so.....
Me, voice rising: ...ths ago, and you have NO idea where it could be and....wait, court....what?
CL:.....and that means you should be getting your license back in 2-3 weeks.
Me: There was a court date even though I finished the course on January 29th?
CL: Right, but then they still have to have the court date, because not everyone takes the class.
Me: But my licen....
CL, barreling on: So they have the court date and then dismiss the case if you took the class.

I keep trying to get a word in edgewise so that I can ask about this notion that they should have sent the license after I paid the fine, back in October, but it’s impossible, so I decide a little faith is called for. 2-3 weeks it is. I hope.

Then, flush with success, I decide to tackle my other nemesis: the IRS. Here I’ve been getting letters from them saying their reviewing my case, sorry for the delay and inconvenience, blah blah blah. For months. And then a couple of weeks ago I get a letter saying oh, you owe us this huge chunk of money, pay up or else. Huh? This is back where we started way back when, like they didn’t even look at anything I sent them. This is giving me heart palpitations and sleepless nights, so finally I call them.

After 40 minutes on hold, I get a live one on the line. A guy who’s not friendly exactly, but more brusque and no-nonsense. Which turns out to be not a bad thing, as I explain what’s going on in my best “I’m not a scofflaw, I swear, I’m just a dumbass” voice, and try to keep my usual, umm “salty” language to a minimum.

IRS guy: So this last letter, what did it say?
Me: Just the part about me owing them money.
IRSG: But what else does it say?
Me, nervous, not wanting to annoy this guy who has my fate in his hands: Umm, nothing, really, just some boilerplate about how they define the penalties, but nothing specific.
IRSG: No explanation on how they came to this conclusion?
Me: No, really, I swear, that’s it! For the love of god, you have to believe me!

Nothing like a little melodrama to strengthen your case, I always say. He goes back and forth, checks this and that, and finally decides the following:

IRSG: So they sent you these letters for months saying they were working on figuring this out, and then they send you a letter where it’s clear that no one did anything about your case or even looked at anything you sent them.
Me: That would appear to about sum it up.

He decides that’s ridiculous, and bumps up my info to someone else who’s supposed to call me at some point. I hope. If they instead decide to put another freeze on my bank accounts, that noise you hear will be the sound of my head exploding, once and for all. I wonder, if I send employee #71928471901 a bundt cake, will that help my case at all? Maybe?

On another note entirely, it looks like I’m getting together a posse of people (okay, a posse of 2, JoJo and Kim) willing to do the Hooters to Hooters half-marathon with me next year. I have no idea where this thing is or what’s involved other than running, but I want that race t-shirt:

Plus as my dear YSC friend Kim put it, “we’re the REAL Hooters girls....or fake Hooters girls.....or whatever, no one knows Hooters like we know Hooters.” Damn straight, baby – couldn’t have put it better myself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Adventures in interviewing

So out of the blue, a couple of weeks ago, I heard from an executive recruiter who I had spoken to last many years ago. Literally, years. She’d been trying to fill a position for a particular company since October, and this company kept changing their requirements, wasn’t happy with even the most qualified of people, etc. Basically a big clusterfuck. So of course I said sign me up! Okay, not really, but I figured what the hell, sure I’ll talk to these people. Even though the job sounded odd (for a company that sells software that automates Word editing), and fractious (they were doing interviews at a local restaurant so current employees wouldn’t find out they were looking to recruit someone from the outside).

Anyway, the woman from the company wanted to do a phone interview first. Fine, though I hate those because then I don’t get the opportunity to dazzle people with my in-person wit and charm. And it seemed to go okay enough, though I did learn a few things:

1. People interviewing you have no sense of humor. So when she asked me “What was the most difficult challenge you had to face this year?”, my response of “Well, the year is still pretty young, now isn’t it?” didn’t go over too well. Even when I added “I’m just joking.” How was I supposed to know she meant this past year as a whole??

2. Related to that, it’s probably not a good thing to insert a long pause and then almost start laughing incredulously when asked question about said challenges. At least to my credit I made up some mumbo-jumbo about “keeping my current work challenging and interesting” rather than what I really wanted to say, which would have been something like this: “Umm, tough call. Maybe it’s been dealing with all these additional craptastic surgeries? Like the one where I had my lat removed? Wanna see the scar? Or it could have been trying to keep my head afloat and pay my bills after getting into many arguments with my asshat insurance company that doesn’t want to pay my fucking bills. Yeah, that’s kind of sucked too. Or rather, has presented itself as a challenge.”

Hmm, you know, it might be a good thing actually that it was a phone interview.

3. When they ask you the really inane questions, like “How do you stay organized?”, the answer they’re looking for is probably NOT the one that is the least bit truthful, for me and everyone else. Which would be this: “Oh, I generally just use the Stack o’ Paper method – that’s worked pretty well for me.” I do wonder though what she was expecting to hear – something about process flow and GANTT charts and multiple Excel spreadsheets using Solver? “If notes from Meeting A need to go in blue file folder CX, what color folder should be used for Meeting B for maximum optimization and efficiency?”

Umm, yeah, if that’s what she was looking for, she didn’t get it.

There were other random and bizarre questions, but of course nothing pertaining to my actual skills and accomplishments. Imagine that. Isn't anyone out there interested in hiring a witty yet bitter smartass? I gots mad skilz, really.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Okay, so.....

...WHY, oh why didn't anyone tell me about this?? Which unfortunately already took place, on March 7th:

I can't do this by myself, people! Does it or does it not take a village? Sheesh. Please, I expect a little more vigilance in the future. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Commercials that need to die

1. Any of them with a ringing doorbell sound

Okay, do we all know how difficult it is to get two rambunctious Dobermans settled in for the evening? Yes, we do. So finally we’re all snuggly on the couch, me of course squished in between the two of them hogging up all the space, bonbons teetering precariously on my lap, them cozy under their blankets, practically snoring away. Ah, peace. When suddenly, the doorbell rings! Oh wait, that’s not the actual doorbell, it’s the fricking commercial! And Kona, ferocious Dobe that he is guarding the house from feral Girl Scouts, immediately leaps up, sending bonbons flailing every which way, barking, running to and fro, whining, jumping around, looking at me like I’m an idiot because I’m not getting up to dispense with anyone silly enough to show up at my house. I hate you all, you silly inane doorbell-ringing commercials. Needless to say, I wouldn’t buy any of the products you’re selling if they were the last ones on earth.

2. That Cialis commercial

I know, which one, right? Well, the ED commercials are bad enough – in fact, ALL of the ads for prescription drugs are insanely annoying, especially the one for Chantix, which goes on for THREE MINUTES (yes I counted) – but there’s one in particular that stands out because it honestly seems like an SNL parody. It’s the one where this couple is painting the living room, and the idiotic voiceover says something like “wanting to get it on can happen at any time, and god forbid you’re not ready when the mood strikes!” Apparently passing a paintbrush to someone else can inspire all kinds of lust. So somehow they go from living walking through a lounging by a more relaxing in individual bathtubs plunked down in the middle of said forest. All of this in the dark of night. Huh? Does this make ANY sense whatsoever, to anyone out there? Are they at some weird Hedonism type of resort where there are random clawfoot tubs strewn about everywhere? Is this supposed to be post-coital bathtub relaxation? Why the separate tubs then? The mind reels just thinking about it....

3. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America commercials, and any of their ilk

Hey, who knew cancer was such big business, huh? Not me, certainly. If I had known, I would have been telling my doctors all along how lucky they are to have me as a patient. Though I’m sure they know that already (ahem).

So the commercials for local hospitals are bad enough – seriously, everyone wants the lucrative cancer patient, apparently. Even Rush, and whenever I see commercials for them, I practically break out into hives. Bastards.

But the annoying ones are for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America – which I always think sounds like a charlatan of an outfit anyway. They have these decrepit looking people (I guess they’re supposed to look like “regular folk”), first talking about how their Local Big Hospital diagnosed them with Stage 4 cancer and said, tough luck, go home to die, we can’t help you. Then they make their way to Cancer Centers, and (behold, angel choir!) not only are they getting peeled grapes in bed every night, but as for that pesky stage 4 cancer? No problem! Cured and sent home in 3 months! Then the people wrap up by saying they want to go spit in the face of their original doctors. Or something like that.

My main problem with these ads, other than the idiocy of them and the cackling of the people at the end in self-righteous glee, is that they really make it sound like unless you go to their facilities, you’re signing your own death warrant. Never mind that for most people they’d be out of network (read = a shitload of money), if you really cared about your life or that of your husband/wife/son/whoever, by golly, you’d do what it takes to get yourself to the CTCA! The rest of you, gee, too bad, you’re going to die. And that’s just wrong, to make people feel guilty for not going to your facility. So you guys can just suck it.

That wraps up today’s rant – I’m sure there’ll be something else pissing me off tomorrow. It’s been that kind of day/week/month/year/lifetime.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Visitors to the House of Stupid

It’s somewhat....comforting, shall we say, to see that no matter what, people act true to their basic nature. For example, the reactions I received from friends when telling them about my exciting yet crazy Alpian adventure was telling.


Me: I’m going riding in the Alps this summer!
Deanna: I never get to go anywhere.
Me: What are you talking about? You go to some ride or race pretty much every weekend.
Deanna: Yeah, in Wisconsin, Indiana....
Me: And Virginia, and California....
Deanna: Big deal. It’s not the Alps.
Me: Well, I don’t go anywhere else, and I’m selling a kidney so that I can go on this trip, so....
Deanna, mumbling: I never get to go anywhere.


"Make sure you have good insurance when you’re over there! And don’t forget the plushy wool seat cover – your twelves of readers expect no less than you making a total ass out of yourself!"

And similarly, from my BFF Running-Princess:

"You’re crazy, girlfriend – after all, you are a bit accident-prone. But now you need to get your butt on that trainer! No more butterburgers!"

Sigh, I hate to say it, but my BFF does have a point. And then of course there's Annette:

Me: I’m going riding in the Alps this summer!
Annette: Fantastic! That’s really awesome! You’ll have the best time!

And finally, my dear travel partner Stacey, who’ll have to put up with my sorry self:

“I would fwd your post to the trip people as it's hilarious -- but then the ruse will be up. Need to fwd you my last email correspondence after I said you were coming from US, wanted to do several hors catagorie cols "for bragging rights". Ride leader sent me a tentative itinerary with 150 km (~90 miles for your american readership) per day of hill repeats, expressing concern it may not be sufficiently challenging for you.”

Am I the only one who started laughing while reading that last sentence? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And it did occur to me only after I was in on this trip, that I’ll now be doing all my cycling without a major back muscle, the latissimus. But that won’t affect anything, right? Right??

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tasha’s House of Stupid, open for business

To recap, I was recently in Boulder, CO for Jillian and Mark’s wedding, which was beautiful and perfect in every way, down to the co-mingling of beers (Busch and Miller as their family names) instead of that whole candle lighting thing. Seriously, this was perfect – just the kind of personal touch that every wedding should have.

In any case, there I was pre-ceremony, hanging out with Erin, Gregory, Bridget, Colleen, and Deanna, when naturally, talk turned to crazy cycling adventures and so on. Which I took as my cue.

Me, piping up: Hey, I have some exciting news!
Erin: What’s that?
Me: I’m going cycling in the Alps this summer, with my friend Stacey!

(flashback moment)

Stacey: You should come to Mallorca with me again in April! Please please, it’ll be great.
Me: Okay, first, I totally can’t afford that – I’m seriously broke. Plus, I need more surgery, which I’m having in April. So I won’t be close to any kind of cycling fitness at that point.
Stacey, finally: Oh, okay. (sigh) It’s too bad you can’t come out here in the summer...
Me: Hmm......


Me: Damn, I don’t think the summer thing is going to work. Every ticket to anywhere in Europe is a minimum of $1400. There’s no way I can afford anything even close to that.
Stacey: What about miles?
Me: Hmm.....


Me, after 5,000 emails back and forth: Okay, there appears to be exactly ONE ticket left using miles, to and from London, in August. Will that work? Should I get it?
Stacey: DO IT!!

This is how I wound up with a plan to go to the UK this summer – and why Stacey then started feverishly planning our itinerary.....

(back to Colorado)

Gregory: In the Alps? Where?
Me: Umm, I’m not sure exactly. We’re going with some outfit, I don’t really know what kind of climbs we’re doing – the only name I remember is something like Marmot.
Erin, with a look of horror on her face: La Marmotte?
Me: Yes, that’s it!

There is dead silence, and the look of horror has spread among all those assembled.

Me, adding: But I don’t think we’re doing that climb. I think this is a trip that people use to train for La Marmotte. Or something like that. I’m kind of fuzzy on the details. Alpe d’Huez is in there too.
Erin: Umm, I did Marmotte last year – that was the hardest climb I’ve ever done.

Let’s note here that while Erin doesn't quite have my own triathlon goddess stature, she has come very close to qualifying for Kona several times. And Gregory is originally from France, so they do a lot of cycling in the mountains. Oh yeah, and they now live in Boulder. So, more mountain climbing.

Me: Oh, I have plenty of time to train, I’m sure it’ll be fine! And Stacey did say that the riding she did in Colorado last summer was a lot harder.
Gregory: Umm......
Me: And that Mallorca was worse, so while I sucked at riding in Mallorca, if I have more time to toodle around the flat midwestern countryside here this summer, I’m sure I can manage.
Erin: Umm.....
Me: Though, Stacey did fib a little about our riding experience, since you’re supposed to have done some of the European sportives before. In the mountains. Plus, I only own a tri bike, so I need to figure out what I’m going to ride. Hey, are you all okay? Everyone’s looking a little pale........

So yes, in August of this year, I could very well be meeting my untimely demise on a mountain in the Alps, as I tumble over the side out of sheer exhaustion. As I said, the House of Stupid is now occupied, so feel free to pull up a chair – we could be here a while.....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ice dancing - an expert speaks

Hopefully we’ve all gotten over the Olympic trauma stemming from the Canadian insistence on All Curling, All the Time. At one point I did think – hey, maybe I’m not being quite fair here. Maybe there IS something to this curling after all, and I just have to give it a chance. As I shortly found out – no. Or to put it another way, it’s not me, it’s them. The people foisting curling on us. Because really, it’s still just throwing a big rock, then squeegee-ing the ice. At that rate, why aren’t bocce ball, or shuffleboard, or even bowling all Olympic sports? Though maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas.

I also had to laugh, or cry, or some combination thereof, when a friend and I on FB were gently poking fun at the curlers, and someone else came along and lambasted us for said poking, because after all, “the Olympics aren’t just about accomplishment and athleticism!” M’kay. My pointing out that yes, the Olympics are in fact supposed to be about athleticism pretty much put an end to that nonsense.

Anyway, back to the ice dancing. Today we feature faithful reader Rainbosports, giving us a primer on ice dancing and why we should care:

“Here's your ice dancing primer for today: Compulsory dance is all ice dance teams do two patterns of the same dance steps to the same music with different intro and exit steps. It starts the competition with everyone on a level playing field which then separates the men from the boys. Original dance is a themed dance that each team picks their own music and steps--this year it was a folk dance. The ISU picks the theme for the year. Free dance is where dance teams go apeshit with music and costume and choreography.

As a figure skater who does ice dancing, I was somewhat surprised they showed compulsory dance on TV. They never do for Nationals or Worlds. It is pretty boring.”

To emphasize the “why we should care” part – I think that would be where “the dance teams go apeshit” – because hell, that stuff can be pretty damn entertaining. This year, I looked at the free dance and thought, did everyone collaborate on a befevered Swan Lake theme? Because that’s what all the costumes looked like, as if a mass case of hysteria or madness had hit the ice dancing ranks all at once. Though Stacey’s interpretation, i.e. that they looked like escapees from the Lion King, that also worked.

The other key points that I think we can all agree on as far as ice dancing is concerned:

• The compulsory stuff is boring as hell. Televising it, especially on a Friday night = very bad idea. It’s reminiscent of the days of yore when we had the compulsory figures for the individual skaters – where they skated around in figure-eights, doing all the different edges. Boring Central.

• Even though our esteemed Guest Blogger doesn’t emphasize this, I will: all that shit is really really fricking hard. Yes, yours truly was a figure skater for years, got all the way up to Freestyle IV then got discouraged because the teacher would never be looking when I did my stellar sit spins, so I was stuck in Freestyle IV purgatory for eons. And really, do I look like I have that kind of patience? Hardly. Anyway, even the stuff that they make look ridiculously easy – that’s still hard. Unlike, say, throwing a rock and squeegee-ing, for example.

• The Russians are batshit crazy – and they didn’t even wait until the free dance to prove this. The folk dance part, they did an “aboriginal” dance, and I would say it was more of the Disneyfied version, except that Disney is way more PC than that. But at least they toned it down from their usual routine – which they normally do in dark makeup. Seriously. Though they kept the loincloths and the leaves stuffed everywhere. And then they rub noses at the end of the routine. But still, I guess we could dub this version “Now with 30% less racism!” Though I’m about as far from PC as one can get, so my main problem with this routine was more focused on the fact that I thought their skating kind of sucked. And to compound their ridiculousness, for their free dance routine, she had ropes as part of her costume, so he could just swing her around by these ropes. Hello, how is that even allowed? And then they won bronze? Please.

So to summarize – ice dancing, a bizarre sport. Curling, not a sport. Hockey, the best sport there is.

Me and CPP

CPP = Crumpled Piece of Paper, for those few of you not in the know. CPP which I've had as a substitute for my driver's license since I got a ticket in October. Yes, October. 5 months ago now.

So I finished up the driver's ed class online that I took so the damn ticket wouldn't show up on my record back on January 29th. For the savvy among us, we note that that was more than a month ago. And each day I go scampering eagerly to check the mail, to see if they've finally mailed my damn license back to me, and every day is a crushing blow of defeat. No license. Nada. Goose egg. Finally, my rage boils over, so I decide to try to call the labyrinth that is the IL Driver's License Bureaucracy. Except there's no number to call, anywhere. In desperation, I call the traffic school number, give them my ID number for the ticket.

Traffic School Guy: Okay, so how can I help you? It shows that you completed the course on January 29th.
Me: Right, and I'm just trying to find out how long it takes before I get my driver's license back.
TSG: Oh, you should have gotten that right after you paid the fine.
Me: But......I paid that months ago! I definitely haven't gotten my license back though.
TSG: You can call the Daley Center to talk to them about it.....

Sigh. The Daley Center. Of course. Where I've now gone numerous times for one thing or another, and where after the last time they probably have me on multiple Wanted posters everywhere. Of course.

This begs the question - can I get CPP laminated, and then if I paste a picture in there, would anyone accept that as my driver's license? Because at this point, that's looking like the only reasonable option...

Monday, March 1, 2010

People unclear on the concept

Blah blah blah - this is shorthand for saying that this morning Kona and I went to the dog park as usual, i.e. every day, rain or shine, blizzard or tornado, etc. When we get there, there's some woman I've never seen before with a border collie-type dog running around. It's a Big Holiday in Chicago (Casimir Pulaski Day), so that generally brings the non-regulars out of the woodwork.

Anyway - we open the outside gate so we're in the "vestibule" area before the inner gate, kind of a holding pen of sorts. The other dog is sniffing at the inner gate, checking out the "fresh meat" as I like to call the new dogs coming into the park, and as the woman is walking up she says "My dog is an alpha with other dogs."

Hmm, I think. Okay. "Well," I respond, "that's fine since my dog is totally non-confrontat......HEY! What the HELL!!"

Because at that point as I'm opening the inner gate her dumbass dog scoots out and attacks The Kone! And as usual, she's none too quick in pulling her dog back, so as usual, it falls to me to yank her dog back by the collar several times and protect Kona.

Idiot woman: I told you he was an alpha.
Me, yelling at this moron: There's a difference between being an "alpha" and attacking another dog!
IW: Sorry.

She didn't bother arguing with me, because I think she sensed, or intuited, that I was ready to kick her and her dog to another hemisphere.

Seriously people, I'm sick of you all who have not a lick of common sense. If your dog is an ass, do NOT bring him to a dog park where there will be other dogs. Because now I'm just going to start carrying Mace or something with me to the park - and I won't use it on your dog, I'll use it on you.