February 29, 2008

Fraught With Parking Garage Drama

"Goddamn it!"

I knew exactly what pocket of my fabulous new purse I had placed the parking garage ticket in and now it was gone. Completely vanished. I swept my hand around the interior of my entire bag with no luck. My purse was even clean, having just transferred a limited number of items from my old handbag to the new one. It had to be there.

But it wasn't. I turned all the lights on inside my car in order to better search the front passenger seat better. Still nothing. I didn't have any pockets, so it wasn't hidden anywhere on my body. I hadn't moved it or touched it during my meeting at a Seattle restaurant. I had hardly done anything with my purse the entire time.

You know the parking garage rule if you lose your ticket, right? You pay the maximum amount. And this garage's maximum was $40. Not a lot by most garage standards, but more than the $12 or $16 I was expecting. And hey, I live in a one-income household now. I have to save that money for extravagant purchasing of unnecessary goods. Oh, and bills. After a good 15 minutes of searching I gave up a faced the inevitable and drove the plank.

"Hi," I started as I rolled down my window and extended my credit card, my mouth babbling frantically, "I lost my parking ticket. I know...I'm so sorry. I know it means I have to pay the maximum. I just, I don't know what happened to it. I put it in my purse and it just disappeared. I just had it! I don't know where it went! Here's my card." At that point I realized I had been talking at the attendant while he just stared at me so I shut the hell up.

I received a big sigh in return and, "What time did you get here?"

"I had a meeting at 11 so I was here at 10:45."

"OK. Write down your name and phone number on this new ticket and I'll swipe it. It will act like your ticket." He handed me a blank parking stub.

"OK?" I wasn't going to argue. I would have given him my social security number and the promise of my first born as at this point as it appeared I was going to get away with the downtown parking equivalent of murder. Or if not murder, at least a felony hit and run (I know, I know crime isn't a joke, you don't need to remind me). I passed back my contact information and he gave me a receipt for $16.

As I started the dance of thanking him profusely, he leaned over and grasped a stack of receipts and pulled one free.

"See here? This is the last person today who lost their parking ticket." A very clearly $40 charge printed dead center stared back at me. My profuse thanks went up a notch. I wondered if I should get out and hug him. Thank God a car pulled up behind me, forcing me to pull forward, leaving the parking garage and the attendant behind.

I'm not exactly sure what it was that prompted the parking garage attendant to give me the cheaper parking rate. It's true, I was having an excellent hair day yesterday as well as wearing a fabulous new outfit. But he could only see so much from behind the car door. And maybe he thought he was hitting on me? Although I was clearly wearing my wedding ring. Are things going to be awkward now? Does this mean I have park someplace else now even though this is the best parking garage in Seattle?

Sigh - weep - sob! /drama

Posted by Ensie at 04:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 28, 2008

Bluetooth Compatible

With the upcoming change in the law (ESSB 5037 Bans driving while using a handheld cell phone without a hands-free device, starting in July 2008) regarding cellphone use while driving I contacted Bob's Hogs about providing me with an earpiece for my current adorable cell phone. I love my phone. It replaced my Nintendo 64 of phones that I carried for several years until it died a tragic death that may or may not involve a cereal bowl half full of milk and a precariously balanced phone on a shoulder.

My current phone, the AT&T LG CG225, has been very easy to use for business purposes. The address book has been especially great, allowing me to enter people in and add up to three phone numbers per person, note if they are colleagues, VIPs, or family. I also have a number of pictures stored on my phone, my wallpaper was a picture of Pharaoh sleeping.

Bob's Hogs apparently does not send out earpieces for my beloved CG225. They informed me earlier this week that I would be sent something new and Bluetooth compatible. Once the fancy, new phone arrived I would need to purchase an "earbud" myself and become one of those obnoxious people who wander around grocery stores appearing to talk to themselves.

The new phone arrived today and it's a Razr of of all hideous awful things! Seriously - a Razr!? I fucking hate these things. They're ugly and uncomfortable to use and the internal address book sucks ass. I can't believe I've got to carry one. Ugh.

I did download a couple of new ringtones - "Popular" and "What Is This Feeling" from Wicked (SHUT UP)- to make my new phone a little more likeable.

Plus there's the pink Bluetooth earbud thing I found. Which is pretty cute.

The irony of all this is that I should really be carrying a Crackberry, as I'm in outside sales for Bob's Hogs. I spend a lot more time in the office than I should because I'm tied to my computer. Bob's Hogs won't give their Sales Team Blackberries, so we get Razrs instead. According to Beet the official reasons are things like, "You can't be trusted with expensive pieces of equipment like that."

"You mean, like our laptops?"

Doh! Hole in that logic!

Posted by Ensie at 10:24 PM | Comments (40) | TrackBack

February 27, 2008

Uncontrollable Shopaholic

It's long been suspected that I am a bit of a shopaholic. My house would confess this sin with closets busting with too many clothes and and a large tower of shoe boxes. At one point in time I owned 37 pairs of pants of varying types, styles, and fabrics. In my defense, not all of them fit or were in wearable shape at the time. I am afraid to count the current number of pairs of pants that I own for fear I may eclipse the aforementioned number.

I grew up in a middle class family that didn't make a lot of money, but sacrificed to allow me to have a broken-down horse that was a gift from a family friend, eventually trading up to a nice horse that was moderately priced. As I grew up, my Father worked extremely hard and earned a much better income that allowed my younger teenaged sister to enjoy riding a horse that was imported from Europe. We hardly saw my workaholic Dad during the week but we reaped the monetary benefits. So I lived without money and with money.

I've held a job pretty consistently since I was 14 years old. My only unemployed periods were my first year of college and after a nervous breakdown my second year, second semester of college. In May I'll have worked for Bob's Hogs and Weiner Pigs for 11 years. I certainly haven't always made much money, but it's been enough. The really interesting thing is that whenever there has been a money crisis, money always shows up.

When The Jeffrey got terribly sick and we though his liver was having all sorts of issues but it turned out to be bladder stones that were ripping his insides apart my commission check was unexpectedly high.

When one of the cars unexpectedly needed the brakes done Frinklin had a random monetary bonus kick in. This has happened TWICE with two different employers who almost NEVER gave cash bonuses. Weird.

When I was 21 years old and had an ancient Ford Bronco II that insisted on breaking down every other day my Grandmother stepped up and gave me a cash infusion out of nowhere "because you need it." I was able to fix the car and take care of some other things that had been weighing heavily. She told me she had set aside the money for college or for a wedding, but at the time I wasn't in school and was a lesbian. Thanks Nana!

Anyway, back to the point.

Because I've had a fortuitous relationship with money, I've not been particularly careful with money. I've always been able to pay my bills on time, have good credit, and don't have any collection agencies stalking me. And I have a nasty habit of spending money I don't have. Even when my husband is out of a job.

Like yesterday. When I was at the new Nordstrom Rack in Southcenter after making a particularly successful sales call and meeting up with Frinklin after he had a particularly successful (cross fingers!) interview with what appears to be a great potential employer. I was looking for a Perlina purse that I had fallen in love with a few weeks earlier when we were a DINK household to celebrate our particularly successful (although potentially fictitious) fabulous day.

I found the Perlina bag, and it was cute. But then I turned a corner and There. It. Was. I heard a rushing in my ears. Frinklin spoke, but I heard nothing but the Angels singing. I walked forward, and touched It. The chorus intensified.

Finally, Frinklin's insistent voice broke through, "How much is it?"

"What?" I didn't look up. I was too busy opening pockets and noticing the cheetah print interior. So amazing!

"Ensie...how much? It's got an electronic tag on it. It's going to be a lot."

"Fuck," I said. Reality setting in, "I can't get this bag. It's going to be crazy expensive. It's Dolce and Gabbana." Searching out the tag I finally answer Frinklin, "Holy shit! It's four hundred dollars!" I got silence as an answer as I continued to fondle the bag. My heart raced.

"Honey. Buy it."


"Buy it."

I thought my husband had lost his mind at this point. He's unemployed! We only have one income! I started to argue with him briefly, but then realized I was arguing my way out of a kick-ass Dolce and Gabbana bag that I didn't know how to quit. I quietly whispered, "OK!" as though we were getting away with some sort of crazy crime. An employee was flagged down, the bag was freed, and we were out the door with our loot a few minutes later.

The only down side was that I didn't know how much money I had saved on the bag. It didn't have an original price on it. I spent a good hour searching the interwebs for my bag (which is tan leather, oh so soft, with a cheetah print interior), only to find that it doesn't exist. There is only a mutant version currently available, priced at $2,195.00:


Perlina, I feel bad for cheating on you, but I love my new D&G bag. And if it makes me an uncontrollable shopaholic, so be it. I challenge anyone to step into the realm of really good handbags and/or shoes and then try to go back to crappy ones. If nothing else, I treat my quality items like gold so they last forever.

I'd like to give a huge thank you to my husband, who gave me the OK to buy something I love and really wanted. I told him that he doesn't have to buy me anything for my birthday or Christmas this year. I love you honey!

Posted by Ensie at 05:30 PM | Comments (78) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Have you ever felt like something was missing from your life? Jon Arbuckle has.

It's a testament to the Garfield comic strip (you can go to the official Garfield site but I'm warning you now...) that when you remove Garfield, the comic stands on its own as a lonely, sad picture of a man losing his mind. In a funny way, of course.


Check out more at Garfield minus Garfield.

This is a great new way to enjoy Garfield, as the strip itself hasn't been funny in fifteen or twenty years.

Thanks to Frinklin for bringing this to my attention.

Posted by Ensie at 11:55 AM | Comments (342) | TrackBack

February 24, 2008

Horse Fighting

It's clear that I'm slightly behind on the horse fighting stories reported in the Daily Mail. Their first article appeared in July 2006 in reference to China's "barbaric" horse fights. Apparently, the Phillipines have their own horse fighting rackett going, despite it's being illegal in the country. Last week the Daily Mail had a new story, complete with horrifying pictures, on their horse fighting tradition.

Horse Fighting 1

Horse Fighting 2

Horse Fighting 3

Horse Fighting 4

I had never even concieved the thought of people purposefully pitting two stallions together to fight until one is injured so badly it may need to be slaughtered. Not to mention the rape and abuse the mare in season that is used to work the stallions into their crazed state is subject to. Gambling and crime syndicates keep the horse fights going.

Then again, why should I be surprised that people in third-world countries are treating animals barbarically when we here in the US aren't capable of treating our animals any better? When NFL quarterback Michael Vick is using "rape stands" to breed fighting dogs and killing them by the hundreds and Jaimie Foxx is saying that it's part of black culture so we should go easy on the guy?

The truth is it's part of gangster and drug dealing culture and an underclass that I hope to God is dying out. There are better things to do with your time and energy. One doesn't need to pit innocent animals against eachother, be they dogs, roosters, horses, or even camels.

There are a couple of things you can do to help the fighting horses of the Phillipines. You can stop travelling to these areas of the world that fight horses and let those officials know that they are losing your dollars. From the Network for Animals:

Horse Fighting, an illegal spectator blood sport where stallions are incited to fight one another, is widely practiced on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Fuelled by cash prizes for the owners of the winning horses and extensive gambling, horse fighting is a cruel spectacle that results in serious injuries and often death for the horses.

Please send a letter to the Mayor of Davao City, the largest city on the island of Mindanao and the economic hub of the area. Inform Mayor Duterte that as a compassionate traveler, you choose tourism destinations that are committed to treating animals humanely. Only when all horse fighting has been ended, will you consider traveling to Mindanao.

Rodrigo Duterte, Mayor
Davao City Investment Promotion Center
Door 10, Ramon Magsaysay Park Complex, R. Magsaysay Avenue
Davao City, Philippines

You can also contact the International Fund for Horses. Their Mission Statement:

The Mission of the Int'l Fund for Horses (IFH) is to promote and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of equines worldwide, domestic and in the wild.

IFH is dedicated to ensuring that humane standards are set and kept relating to the working and domestic lives of all equines from the beginning to the end of their lives. IFH is particularly committed to ending horse slaughter for human consumption wherever it exists.

Additionally, IFH is devoted to the preservation of wild horses, mules, donkeys, burros and zebras in their natural habitats.

Protecting Horses through Intervention, Education and Legislation

You can go to their Take Action page to sign up to help by writing a letter, sending a fax, or making a phone call. Nothing fancy, just a simple action that can help save a horse's life.

Posted by Ensie at 02:10 PM | Comments (782) | TrackBack

February 23, 2008

The Fruit Hunters

fruit hunters.jpg

I don't read a lot of non-fiction (as Kevin will tell you, as he is mostly patiently waiting for me to finish Pale Blue Dot, which he loaned me a month ago and I informed him the other day that I am on page 30), but I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and started to flip through the first few pages. It turned into a fascinating read!

This book makes me want to travel to far-away places just to eat exotic fruits. And it make me incredibly annoyed at the paltry selection that we have here in the United States. Why don't we have the ice cream bean fruit? Why are we denied the miracle fruit*, which makes sour things taste amazingly sweet? It turns out fruit is tied to all sorts of political nonsense, but that doesn't keep people from constantly trying to bring better fruit to the Western World.

According to author Adam Leith Gollner, we Westerners may be introduced to a new banana relatively soon, as our own hardy Cavendish banana is facing extinction from a mutant strain of a fungus known as Panama Disease Race 4. The original Panama Disease did away with "top banana" Gros Michael in the 1960s, introducing us to the Cavendish. And now we're facing the same problem again. Not that I want the Cavendish to disappear, but who knew there are over 1,000 types of bananas out there; to name a few:

- blood banana
- sugared-fig banana
- pregnant banana
- ice cream banana (which tastes just like it sounds)
- popoulou banana (bright pink inside and tastes like an apple)
- haa haa banana (bright orange inside)
- Burmese Blue banana (guess what color?)

You can see several of these varieties on this page, along with many other I didn't list.

This book also allows you to terrify your friends with disturbing facts about pesticides and fruit. The number pesticides on your average apple is just disturbing. Or the dying of oranges to make them orange, which is banned in England, Australia, and Norway, but not in the good 'ol US of A! This practice causes Cancer in lab rats and mice, but I'm sure it's not harming you. Don't even get me started on exactly how a Wenatchee, WA based company is making Grapples. Let's just say when Frinklin tried to talk me into trying one at the local grocery store I'm really glad I said no. Something always felt wrong about those things and now I know why.

One of the most important things Gollner noted is that your average grocery store does not want people to be aware of the variety of fruits available. If so, everyone would be asking for these amazing fruits. "Every five requests are seen as representing the desires of a hundred customers. Demand for quality fruits can help reverse the trend of fruit homogenization." The key is that consumers must be aware of the fruit varieties. As the author notes,

"Fruits are often sold without being identified by variety; they're just straberries, not Monarchs, Seascapes, or Albons. The strawberries we buy in North America and Europe -- firm, red, cold resistant varieties like Camarosa, Elsanta, Diamante, Ventana-- are as reliable as they are flavorless. Little do we realize that there were 1,362 varieties of strawberry described in the 1926 compendium The Small Fruits of New York.

There has been a conscious decision by the produce industry to wean shoppers away from varieties. If consumers start learning about all the varieties of fruits, that means they'll start demanding quality."

So get out there and start demanding ice cream bananas!

For anyone who is a fan of Salt: A World History or Spice: The History of Temptation, this is a natural fit. Or if you're just looking to for a great read about an incredibly interesting topic, this fit that bill as well.

The Fruit Hunters is due out in May 2008 in hardcover from Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster. ISBN is 9780743296946. Cover art shown is the Canadian Edition, I don't have the final cover art of the US Edition.

*Miracle fruit can be ordered from this web site. Some friends and I are planning a miracle fruit party at some point in the future!

Posted by Ensie at 01:15 PM | Comments (267) | TrackBack

February 21, 2008

[Fwd: Fwd: FW: International Picture of the Year]

Note: forwarded message attached.

Here are two very touching photos honored at this years [sic]


First Place.jpg

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport , Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac.

During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport , Major Steve Beck described the scene as so powerful: 'See the people in the windows? They sat right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said 'They will remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should'

Second Place

Second Place.jpg

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted.'


So, my Mom sent this to me. I got rid of the thousands of pounds of internet crap that was attached to it. A bajillion forwards and sappy, "I could barely see the pictures for the tears in my eyes!" comments. And some quote from Ronald Regan. And something about the "silent majority" wearing blue on Fridays to support the troops. And a guilt trip about forwarding it on unless you hate America.

I think the pictures are sad, really. They're obviously touching, especially the one with the woman sleeping next to her husband's casket. But for the most part it makes me angry about a stupid war we've been fighting for a lot of stupid reasons. A few good ones, but mostly stupid ones. It's costing us, and our children, and our children's children more money than I can even imagine and driving our country into a recession in the meantime.

But what it really makes me think about is the fact that until recently, soldier's caskets weren't allowed to be photographed. It was a symbol that we weren't "winning the war on terror" and that it might make us doubt the bullshit that the President likes to feed us about Iraq. I'm not sure if it was a lawsuit, photographers' tenacity, or just the government deciding to give up that changed things.

What's funny is that the government always had it wrong. While a casket does show that we've lost something, it's not a war, it's a person, a soldier. And it's shameful that anyone or anything would hide the deaths of those who fought for it to keep a propaganda machine alive.

Posted by Ensie at 04:29 PM | Comments (960) | TrackBack

February 20, 2008

Tacoma Residents Get in FREE to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium Today

Tacoma Free Day - February 20th

Visitors who live within Tacoma city limits will be admitted free on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Please bring proof of residency (current driver's license or utility bill).

Posted by Ensie at 08:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 18, 2008

Backyard Vigilante Justice (Literally)

The other day I wrote about a neighbor climbing the fence into our backyard without an invite, which could have turned very ugly had the wrong dog been unleashed. But it isn't the first time a gentleman caller has decided to enter my backyard unannounced.

After living in Tacoma a few months, Bob's Hogs and Weiner Pigs offered me a Pilot Position that included working from home. This was perfect for me, as I was tired of working in a store and ready to take on some new responsibilities. I happily packed up my digs and moved all my stuff into the home office, effectively rendering it useless to Frinklin and requiring him to purchase a laptop (but that's another story).

My office has a large window that looks out to the side of our house. I haven't bothered to put up any blinds or curtains up in this window as it's largely blocked by a huge butterfly bush. The butterfly bush allows enough sun to filter in to keep me warm in the winter, and shades the same hot sun in the summer. Since the bush keeps its leaves year-round, it provides a lot of privacy as well. Which is how I got to observe something completely unexpected one afternoon.

Sitting at my desk working diligently away on a price quote for a customer, I noticed movement outside the window from the corner of my eye. Looking up, I found myself a few feet away from a strange man who was slipping onto my property, working his way behind my house. Thinking he had seen me and would stop any moment, my heart began pounding, but the butterfly bush had kept me completely hidden, working like a one-way-mirror, although it appeared we were eye to eye.

As he passed out of sight behind the house, I leaped into action, calling The Jeffrey and running toward the back door. As I passed the hallway to the master bedroom with it's window facing the rear of the house I saw the man passing by and my heart sped even faster. With The Jeffrey's collar firmly in my grasp I unlocked the back door and stepped onto the rear deck, confident that the tall back fence would keep the intruder out. As an arm crept over the top of the barrier and began feeling around for the latch I spoke.

"What the HELL do you think you're DOING?!" I yelled, hoping I sounded much more authoritarian than I felt, and praying he didn't have a firearm of some sort. The arm whipped back over the fence. Footsteps began retreating. I slammed the back door and ran to the front where I threw open that door, still holding The Jeffrey's collar, him standing beside me, barking like mad. Two men stood in the alley beside my house, one brandishing a large 2x4, both looking pissed off. A glance to my left revealed the now-terrified-would-be prowler.

"Dude," I said to the man, "I don't know what you're thinking, "But I gotta whole lotta German Shepherd Pit Bull just waiting to eat your ass you if you got over that fence, so you're fucking lucky you DIDN'T get in MY BACKYARD!"

"That guy tried to get into my backyard too!" Yelled the man with the 2x4.

At this point, the prowler had turned quite pale and was just wanting to get the hell out of dodge. He had clearly underestimated the power of the Tacoma North Slope Historic District Neighborhood Watch Program. He chose the best course of action available to him when a woman with a raging 75 lb. dog and an angry man with a 2x4 are yelling at you - run like crazy. He took off down the alley with the 2x4 man hot on his heels screaming, "You think it's OK to walk into people's backyards? Huh? I'll show you!" The other neighbor began picking up rocks from the alley and throwing them at the prowler as he ran.

At this point I realized I had my phone in my hand. I must have picked it up automatically. I called 911 to report that a man was in danger of being beaten to death by two others with rocks and a board. I also mentioned the potential break-in. The operator informed me that an officer would come by my house to speak with me. I waited outside for a half hour, but no one came by. I also waited for the men to come back, but they never returned. Eventually a police car drove by, didn't stop, and turned the opposite way that they men had gone. Well done, Tacoma Police, well done.

I felt rattled by the experience for a couple of weeks. But we put locks on the gates to the backyard and make sure we keep the doors locked. And we still have the man-eating dog. And although I've never met those particular neighbors again, I assume they're still out there, keeping our North End backyards safe.

Posted by Ensie at 12:26 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 15, 2008

Surprise in the Backyard

Did I ever write about the guy who tried to break into our backyard? I was reminded of it today when we let two (thank God it was only two - the friendly two!) of our dogs out in our fenced backyard before leaving for lunch. Surprisingly there was a man standing in one corner who, when Perdita appropriately barked and growled at the stranger on her lawn, swung his long-handled tree trimmer things (apprently they are called "loppers") at her. Thankfully, Frinklin called Perdi off before she was hurt and yelled at the guy to calm down. The guy began scaling the fence and said he was from next door and was preparing to cut back the tree in his backyard that hung over our fence.

"Next time, knock on my Goddamn door and let me know!" was Frinklin's reply, but the guy wasn't paying attention and was slipping over the fence even as I was walking out the door after hearing Frinklin shout.

"What's going on?" I asked as I saw a leg diassapear over the fence.

"Stupid guy in our backyard trimming his tree."

"Oh my God! What if we had let The Jeffrey out?" I stared at Justin. "You're lucky dude! I yelled, "If we had let our other dog out he would have ripped your legs off!"

"I've always been lucky!" came a voice back.


I'll write about the backyard break-in story tomorrow.

It's been a long time since I've hated on some neighbors. Feels good. Feels real good.

Posted by Ensie at 05:42 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

You're Fired!

Sometimes right in the middle of living your life, the road will shift and you find yourself falling. It happens to everyone. Often more than once. It happened to me in college. I can remember the exact moment I stepped off the path -whoosh!- to graduation and a degree and instead ended up at a series of junior colleges and never quite found my way back again. My feet are once again on solid ground, but it took a long time to get there. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, although I do wonder how my life might have turned out differently sometimes, but I don't regret the decisions I've made and the life I have now.

Last week the ground swelled and bucked and tossed Frinklin into limbo. The company formally known as The Corporate Behemoth now known as Those Fuckwads Aetna fired Frinklin without warning. Without any warning at all and definitely without a severance package. Official reason, "failure to improve performance statistics." Unofficial reason, "It's just not working out." After three fucking years of stellar performance reviews and busting his ass. My suspicion is that they are getting rid of him because they announced that they will be outsourcing his position within the next year. They offered to have he and other people in his position train folks in the Philippines just a couple of months ago.

On the one hand this isn't the worst news. When my husband came downstairs to tell me I looked him square in the eye and said, "Thank God you never need to go to that crap job again," and gave him a huge hug. Frinklin's been half-heartedly looking for another job for a while. He hated being tied to his desk (granted, at home) in an hourly position, listening to people scream at him for problems that weren't his fault. It left him grouchy at the end of the day and dreading the work week. And they never gave bonuses, but a steady supply of branded alarm clocks, laminated certificates, and once a crappy canvas folding chair that one of our cats peed on. Thanks asshats!

The bad part is the money end of things. It's not good when one half of the household income disappears. There is, thankfully, unemployment which will bring in a portion of what's been lost. And I started making calls to see what we could do. That did not go well.

Our mortgage company always gives you a happy little message that if you anticipate having trouble paying your mortgage you should contact them. I let them know that I don't think we'll have trouble, but wanted to know what their potential solutions would be. Their "solution" is to make a double mortgage payment now, allowing us to skip a payment in the future.

"See how that helps?" the representative chirped to me.

"Not exactly." When I explained that I don't have the funds to make a double payment now, allowing us to skip a payment in the future she told me that she couldn't really help me further. That our payments would need to be made on time as usual, or if made late that our credit would be affected. How exactly is this helpful? I'm not sure. She couldn't tell me either.

My next call was to the folks that manage my 401K. I have a significant amount in my 401K as I've been paying into it for 8 years. I did take out a loan about 3 years ago that I've been paying back steadily. The 401K folks did tell me that I can take out a "Hardship Withdrawal." Fantastic! Send me the forms! The forms arrived and I found that I don't qualify for a Hardship Withdrawal as there are only four reasons one may make said withdrawal:

1. Payment of tuition for post secondary education for me, spouse, dependents.
2. Payment of unreimbursed medical expenses for me, spouse, dependents.
3. Payment to prevent loss of primary residence through eviction or foreclosure.
4. Purchase of primary residence, excluding mortgage payments.

So you see, I must stop making payments immediately on our mortgage, allow our credit to fall to shit, and hope that the bank begins foreclosure proceedings on our home post-haste in order to withdraw the money. It's a perfect plan! What about those of us that want to make our payments on time and keep our credit scores good?! The logic of this whole thing escapes me. Plus it's my Goddamn money!

We do have credit cards that we can live off of. It's just that we already have credit card payments and I don't want to be a slave to debt for the next 20 years. I don't want to have to go to the Bank of Parents to solve this (they have money, but not tons of it to give me).

To top it all off, Frinklin's last paycheck wasn't direct deposited as usual, the Fuckwads are mailing it to us to arrive who-knows-when. They haven't officially reported Frinklin as terminated, so his 401K can't release any funds to him. And his ex-boss won't call him back about anything (four messages and counting).

We're holding their fucking computer hostage until I get some answers.

Posted by Ensie at 05:15 PM | Comments (82) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Caucus Rebellion

I know I'm late to the caucus blogging party, but I was definitely there on Saturday with what appeared to be my entire neighborhood. I was glad to see them, although things were a little chaotic, Frinklin and myself eventually found our precinct (The Mighty 314!) and were ushered into a separate area of Jason Lee Middle Schoool as we were a good 250 strong, one of the two or three largest precincts in attendence.

After some continued confusion as to who exactly we were (313? 312?) we waited around for our Precinct Captain to show while the Caucus Chair asked us to talk amongs ourselves. No one was entierly clear on how exactly things would go down, considering the number of people present, and the folks running things all seemed to be relatively young first-timers. A festive mood continued to reign as an hour passed and Frinklin and I chatted with an undecided neighbor about why we were for Obama. She remained undecided as we broke into our respective groups a short time later.

The caucus site ran out of sign in sheets and requested that people sign in on the back of sheets if they hadn't already. People who hadn't signed in their choice had their names read aloud and were asked to declare, "Obama!" " Clinton" or "Undecided". The Precinct Captain was the first name read alound and tried to get away with being undecided, but after sheepishly blushing gave it up for Obama. People proudly yelled out their choices and were cheered - undecideds were given just as much applause as those who had a candidate determined.

At that point, the room was divided into our three groups, Clinton on one side, Obama on the other with the Undecideds in the middle. Each group was invited to have a representative speak, which we did. At that point, the Undecideds had questions that they wanted answered. The Caucus Chair asked us to quiet down, but after a couple of hours of being told to keep quiet and chat together, we were ready to make our voices heard and debate. Several of us (myself included) stood up and yelled loudly, stating that we would like the opportunity to debate and sway the Undecideds. The Undecideds shouted that they would like the opportunity to ask questions and make up their minds. The Caucus Chair started to get nervous that he might have a bunch of pissed off Democrats completely rebelling and the debate was on!

While many people spoke from their hearts and didn't always weigh in on specific policy and topics, everyone was passionate about their decisions. We also heard from a number Undecideds who gave varied reasons as to why they hadn't made up their minds; one man couldn't see enough difference between the two (he eventually went with Obama), another woman though Obama supporters were just attracted to the Cult of Personality (although she later also swayed to Obama too), and one woman said she was terrified that Americans are stupid and prejudiced and wouldn't vote for an African-American man (Frinklin stood up and told her, "If YOU are afraid to vote for him, stand with us and show others that people WILL vote for him!).

The final count was 189 for Obama (16 delegates), 58 for Clinton (5 delegates), 16 Undecided (1 delegate). Frinklin is a delegate and I am an alternate for Obama. I find it funny that it appearsthat a bunch of people we know are delegates or alternates (Jen, Kevin, Cassie, Mark -- did I leave anyone out?).

This was my first time caucusing, being from California. I have to say it was confusing and messy and long, and I absolutely loved it. I can see why it's not for everyone, and if I had kids or needed to be somewhere that day why I would hate it. But it was really fun from my perspective this year and I wouldn't mind doing it again at all.

Posted by Ensie at 06:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2008

Obama Rally in Seattle

I waited in one of the enormous lines to get into Key Arena today. Frinklin and I got there about 10:40 and the line was growing in leaps and bounds (we were standing under the Space Needle). After 11 we were practically running as we moved forward to get inside - but there were two lines and we missed getting in by just a couple of hundred people. It was about 11:15 when we were turned away. We were told they had 14,000 people in the stands and another 5,000 on the floor. We booked it out of there (yay for valet parking at the Needle!) and arrived home just in time to see the speech live on Northwest Cable News.

When we left there were hordes of people behind us in line as well as tons of people still arriving by the thousands. We let as many people as we could know that Key Arena was full, but most continued on to see if they could still get in. Most said they would be caucusing for Obama tomorrow and when it continued to be announced that the event was full people's attitude was, "That sucks that we didn't get in, but that's fantastic!"

There's been some discussion as to weather Obama has outdrawn Hillary at their Seattle events. Even with their respective venue choices, I'd say that Obama could have easily had another 7 - 10 thousand people should he have chosen a larger venue. I don't think that Hillary could have drawn that kind of numbers.

In other news - Frinklin met Janet Huckabee at the Starbucks headquarters this morning. But I'll let him tell that story later on his own blog. He's busy at opening night for his new show (How the Other Half Loves - tickets available now!) right now. It's a funny show he tells me. I'll be there a week from Saturday.

If you're a Democrat and you need information on the how to and where to caucus for (Obama) your (Obama) chosen (Obama) candidate (Obama) in Tacoma (did I mention that Obama rocks?) check out http://wa-democrats.org/. Everything goes down tomorrow at 1 PM. Be there or be square.

Also - (FINALLY!) our long backordered Obama yard sign and rally sign arrived. They went up in our yard and window to tell the world that we're in the cool crowd. Hopefully the yard sign won't blow away!

Posted by Ensie at 06:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 04, 2008

Ken Foster's Pit Bull Party

Ken Foster is the author of two great dog books, The Dogs Who Found Me and Dogs I Have Met. To celebrate the release of his most recent book, he hosted a Pit Bull party in New Orleans.

He's also a pit bull activist and recently posted some great information about the dogs that were rescued from Michael Vick's property. Most dogs that are used for fighting are destroyed, however, these dogs were allowed to be rescued and many are now in foster and adoptive homes after spending months in shelters.

Plus his dogs are adorable!

Posted by Ensie at 03:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 01, 2008

The Tudors Season 2

Hell yes it's back! And I can't wait!

The Tudors

The Tudors Season 2 will premier on Sunday, March 30th! Ann Boleyn is crowned Queen this season and the forces around King Henry VIII continue to exert their power at Court. You can check out a preview of the upcoming season here.

You can read more about this gorgeously acted and incredibly sexy (as well as just the right amount of trashy) show on my original post here.

The best part is that if you have Comcast On Demand you can watch the episodes a week in advance! How cool is that?!

Posted by Ensie at 11:06 AM | Comments (74) | TrackBack