The myth of online privacy, or why the ODSP’s activities fail to surprise me.

I wrote last Friday that the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has taken to threatening law enforcement action were I to show up at the meeting that was supposed to have taken place on Monday morning. Yeah, that one that was scheduled for a teleconference later on that same afternoon–more on that in another entry. They’re threatening law enforcement action over a single sentence in a previous post that made clear in no uncertain terms the professional damage that may or may not have resulted from this meeting were the level of incompitence displayed so far by my caseworker to actually go unaddressed. I was, rightly so, more than a little pissed with what’s been happening the last few months on that file, and more than a little irritated someone decided to focus more attention on a single sentence in a blog post than on the actual issues that provoked the afore mentioned blog post. Irritated, but not surprised.


It’s been a common trend in the last few years, though more so in the last year or so, to see how far government agencies and potential employers can shove even the pretension of online privacy out of the way under the guise of performing a more thorough background check. From the Maryland department of corrections asking for social networking passwords as a part of their certification/recertification process, to a New Jersey police chief who seems to have no problem telling parents to hack their kids’ online passwords–and even shows them how complete with spyware, that’s becoming the cool thing to do. And I’m not even touching the most recent instance of online content overreaction in Canada involving two teenagers, a Facebook photo and a conservative political ralley. yeah, those two teenagers.

Part of me expected this exact response, pretty much as soon as I started to push back against what ODSP was up to. And, indeed, it was even while expecting that response that I still wrote the exact post I did, in the exact context I did, and later ran into the exact result I did. So why wouldn’t I change my writing accordingly, people have asked? Put in the simplest of terms, because I’m not that dishonest. No, this isn’t Facebook and people don’t need my password to see 90% of what I write here. Yes, this blog is perfectly and completely public, and yes, I’m very well aware of this–I made it that way for a reason. But, much like the Facebook photo incident of this past week, the only reason anything on this site became an issue at all rather than the, in my opinion, more important priority of getting to the bottom of the mess at least one person made of the last 3 months’ mountain of paperwork is because someone actually had time, and may have been getting paid for said time, to have a sit down and throw something into Google that landed them on the blog.

I’d be a freaking liar if I said I didn’t enjoy taking a look at who’s been checking this place out and from where. I’d be lying if I said I do this solely for my own benefit–Microsoft has an incredible word processor for that if I really really need something like that. But yes, primarily, this is my thing. Sometimes, my thing includes something others will find semi-useful and/or interesting–that’s what search engines are for, after all. but I have a significant problem when people actually devote time and resources to scanning this blog, or any other that I help to maintain, looking for dirt–be it on me, on friends of mine, on family, on my friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s mother’s cat. I’m not in the business of slinging mud. for that reason, you’ll find no mud on this blog to sling–be it at me, or at anyone I happen to know. I’ve called people and/or government and/or corporate entities out on this blog. I will continue to call people and/or government and/or corporate entities out on this blog, if the said people and/or government and/or corporate entities continue to screw people over on the same, consistent basis. And if the only thing certain entities can find in their obviously too much spare time to make an issue of is one line in an otherwise mild–for me, anyway–expression of general overall fed-up-ness, I must be doing something pretty damn right.

No, I’m not surprised in any way, shape or form that at least 3 ODSP locations–Kingston, Ottawa and Cornwall–have been scouting out my blog. In fact, I’m really kind of flattered that a small-time blog like this one manages to make it onto ODSP’s radar, even if it’s over what amounts to trivialities that in 6 months won’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference. But not being surprised by it doesn’t mean I agree with the fact that a government entity who has until this past week had no interest whatsoever in actually giving me a response has decided, on the public dime, to devote time and energy to looking for the smallest hint of an almost problem and trying desperately to turn it into a major issue. That’s crossing at least one line, and with very little in the way of justification for it–last week’s teleconference didn’t exactly reveal much in the way of straight answers about it. I’m still waiting. Perhaps the next time one of ODSP’s people drops in, they’ll leave a comment behind or otherwise drop me a line. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll include their justification for doing so. But if it doesn’t, on that, I also won’t be surprised.

Signs of spring: my mailing address is now my parents’ front yard.

The parental units have found themselves with dogs for as long as I can remember. They’ve got two of them now–yeah, okay, so one’s mine, oh well. They’ve taken off for the weekend to do whatever they do when they take off for the weekend, and left me to keep the creatures from tearing the house apart in their absense. Which comes with its very own, double-edged benefit. The pups are awesome judges of the day’s weather–it could be just barely above freezing, but if it’s forecast to be into the 20’s (I’m using Celsius, for the curious reading from the US side of the border–hey, it makes more sense) at any point during the day, it’s guaranteed any outside time they get today–and they usually get a lot–won’t go quickly. Yesterday, they were in and out an average of 10 minutes. but yesterday, the weather threatened to suck out loud. So far this morning, none of the trips outside with them have been anything less than half an hour–and all of them have ended with me escentially guiding them back into the house. Hey, I gots stuffs to do, here. I’m convinced if I let them, they’ll very happily spend the day outside doing whatever they do when they’re spending the day outside. Only problem is, if they’re outside, so am I–another dog day entry for another dog day, I think. So I’m out there every hour or two, for between half an hour and an hour, until such time as the weather starts sucking again. It’s great–gives me something to do that doesn’t involve housework or draining the laptop’s battery for the millionth time. I’ll just be going ahead and changing my mailing address to be my parents’ front yard, that’s all. Hey, at least the view’s decent.

ODSP decides they don’t like me after all, threatens to have the police meet me.

Seems them what run the disability support system around here haven’t gotten done having fun with me yet. At the eleventh hour, escentially, with an hour left in the actual business day and therefore not a whole lot of time to actually work around their latest curve, ODSP decides they’d like to go another fun-filled round. We got on the phone with a manager this morning, due to the fact one of us can’t trust our caseworker half as far as we can throw her. Explained the situation, got told she’d look into it and get back to us by the end of business today. So I’m helping Jessica get set up for a project we’re contemplating starting work on, and the call comes in from the manager. I figure okay, she’s got answers for us. We can get part of these issues resolved hopefully before Monday, if not try and prevent the need to go in there in the first place. Not so much. Seems in their spare time, Ontario Disability Support Program employees run random Google searches on folks in the hopes of hitting on something potentially scandalous. One such employee–wouldn’t surprise me if it was the very manager we spoke to, honestly–comes across my blog. There are several pops for people showing up here using keywords related to ODSP and/or Pembroke, so that wouldn’t surprise me. She, or someone working for her, decides to take offense at one or two sentences in a post published here earlier this week. Specificly, this post published here earlier this week. They’ve decided, based on the fact they have plenty of free time and can very easily spend it on Google, that they’re not going to permit me to show up for Monday’s meeting. Taking it a step further, they have apparently decided that my showing up on Monday will constitute a perfectly good reason for them to have the police involved.

So now, not only do we have Wingnut deciding to play the privacy game only if and when it suits her, but higher level management is apparently deciding that I’m a threat to the security and safety of employees of the ministry of community and social services. Instead of me showing up there, they have proposed instead that they call at 9:00 AM on Monday morning–the smart money’s on that phone not ringing at 9:00 AM on Monday morning, just sayin’. We’ll supposedly be holding this meeting via teleconference on that day at that time with all parties involved.

So if I have this straight, and in all likelyhood I may not actually have this straight, potential privacy issues and general incompitence takes a back seat in this ministry to looking for and possibly attempting to make use of some incredibly trivial part of a blog post expressing more than a little tiny bit of frustration with the offending ministry. Really. And the tax dollars of people who actually don’t have a problem finding work are paying for this? That must go over insanely well.

I have not received any notice, written or otherwise, legal or otherwise, requesting and/or requiring me to take down or modify the offending post. Anyone who knows me probably knows just how far such a request would actually get them. The request to not show up on Monday also didn’t come in writing, legal or otherwise. The only reason I’m not seriously considering just showing up there anyway? I’m not *looking* for problems–they’re handing me enough without me helping them along with the process. This meeting will happen. This meeting will happen on Monday. And if this meeting doesn’t happen on Monday, at least one of us, probably both, will be on the next vehicle moving in an officeward direction. Oops–probably shouldn’t of said that. I’ll expect the Ottawa Valley detachment at my door Tuesday morning. Well, if you folks from the offices of the ODSP are going to spend this much time tracking what gets tossed up here when I’m not over my head in job searches, least you could do is drop a comment once in a while–say hi to that guy you’re trying to dig up some dirt on. Wait, no, nevermind–it’s much more fun to yoink lines from a random post completely out of context. My mistake. I’ll know better next time.

Schooling ODSP in the art of numbers.

So as any of you who’ve been reading this thing since December are aware, it’s been somewhat of an uphill fight between the Ontario disability Support Program (ODSP), Shane, and myself. We’d go a round or two, find a clue, offer it up and have it escentially kicked across the room by someone in government who thinks they know better. We’d find more information, offer it up, complete with the math that lead us to the result you’d expect to see if you actually follow their own rules, and get summarily told we were using the wrong math. Lovely. Except in every which way that it’s not. And oh, let me count the ways. So the four of us–Shane and I, and our respective caseworkers–go several rounds about that over the course of the last month or so. And in the process of doing so, come up with the fact that not only were we using a completely different math system from what our caseworkers were, but apparently our caseworkers were using completely different systems from each other–thus resulting in completely different results being pried out of completely identical documentation. Yeah, I don’t get it either. That’s government for ya.

So we spend the better part of the last month trying to work around that, and hit one very problematic road block. Both caseworkers are clinging to privacy laws like they’re on life support. In spite of the fact half the time when we call, Shane and I are 3 feet away from each other and can get a good enough idea what the conversation’s going to end up revealing just based on one side of it. And picking up the phone and saying “by the way, you have my permission to access my case file and compare with his case”? Yeah, not good enough, apparently.

In her defense, Shane’s caseworker is at least in possession of a low-level clue. Enough of one that I don’t think her information’s the source of half our problems. Mine, on the other hand, could probably benefit from some retraining in a few key areas. In theory, I could probably have told Shane’s caseworker to go ahead and look up my file and she might have. Mine? Nope. Can’t. Privacy laws. Permission doesn’t matter. So, fast forward to Monday. Shane has to be in to see his caseworker anyway for an unrelated matter, so I bounce it off him and the wheels on the way back that we find a brand new way to tackle this small little tiny minor issue. Both caseworkers, both of us, one room, A S A fuckin’ P. So we make the call Monday afternoon. Shane’s worker, we’ll call her Clue, has absolutely no problem with it. Oh, you want a meeting? Awesome. James is coming too? Okay. He’s dragging his caseworker in as well? Hey, that works. 9:00 AM? Why not? My worker, on the other hand, we’ll call her Wingnut, takes a little more twisting, turning and kicking to get her into the same meeting. Oh, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it. We can’t have a joint conference–the other party has to be perfectly fine with it. Oh, er, he is. Well. Um. I’ll have to check with his caseworker. Oh. You did. Well, er, let me see if I’m available. Oh, crap–entire morning’s free. 9:00 AM, you say. Can I ppossibly get away with calling in sick? (Note: she didn’t actually say that last part, but you know she thought it.) Fine, fine. But I probably won’t change anything anyway.

After she ran out of excuses, we finally dragged Wingnut into the meeting schedule with the three of us. This coming Monday, sharp at 9 barring natural disasters, I have a sneaking suspicion somebody’s going to get an education in just what the hell their job involves–a little hint for those of you keeping score, it doesn’t actually involve trying your hardest to pull a fast one. So bright and early Monday, me, Shane, Clue, Wingnut, a pair of eyes of our choosing, and a small mountain of already submitted documentation will all pile into a conference room down at the place what employs ODSP peoples. A well-timed phone call could, if the need should present itself, also see she whom Wingnut and Clue report to showing up for that very same meeting.

It’s one thing for us to end up getting different results from the government. That’s kind of expected–if they can find some way to sneak it in that you don’t actually get your hands on everything you should, they’ll do so. If you don’t expect it, well, sorry. But when two government employees, handling two different case files, get slapped with the exact same supporting documentation for both case files and come up with completely different results, even from one another, Houston, we has a problem. When we can take a look at the inner math supposedly behind both cases, even after having said inner math explained to us, and still end up being sent for a loop thanks largely to the fact the results don’t even look like they *should* be close, yeah, say hello to the red flag, ladies and thinggies. Somebody’s not giving us the goods, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not Clue. I have an equally deep suspicion the problem will be solved, or unemployed, before this issue’s fully delt with. I hate being screwed with.

Oh, and miss permission doesn’t bypass privacy laws? Turns out that only applies if you’re not Wingnut, apparently. According to her, she and Clue had a conference re: this issue in which both our cases were discussed. Neither Shane nor I were informed of such a conference, as we would have needed to be in order to be fully in compliance with privacy laws. Clue, naturally, didn’t exactly confirm they held a conference re: our respective cases, so once again, somebody’s either lying or violating those same privacy laws she has no problem slapping us in the face with. That gets added to the list of, shall we say, topics on the agenda for Monday’s meeting. This, combined with the few months of back and forth that haven’t really gotten us anywhere, combined with the fact 90% of this issue could have probably been cleaned up if they’d either 1: actually compared notes or 2: applied just a little bit of consistency to their own procedures, is going to make for a quite interesting morning. I have a sneaking suspicion one of us is going to come away bloody. And I’ll be quite damned if it’s gonna be me.

Anyone wanna guess what this is?

No? Okay fine. This would be, for the first time in a little bit over a month, my attempted reemergence into the realm of this whole blogging thing. This may or may not include yet more mockery, and that thinggy I’m supposed to do about what you guys were reading last month–conveniently, 4 or 5 days before I should be doing that thing about what you were reading while I was being all unavailable and things. There’s an abso-freaking-lute metric ton of crap I probably could, and should, be writing about. Sadly, most of it kind of stopped applying about 2 weeks ago–sorry, life does that to ya. Things that do get a mention here and may or may not be elaborated on when I have slightly more brain power. In list format, because hey, first post in a month, here. Lazy.

  • Moving: Jessica got herself all moved in, relatively in one piece and with most of what sanity she has left after dating and being engaged to me intact. Her stuff, thankfully, also made it to the other end in one pice. Find her take on that and several million other things over on her blog. Go now. I’ll wait.
  • Technology: I’d started the process before I left, and finished it while down there–in and around the above mentioned move. Shortly before my return to Canada–where I’m currently flaed out now, the new laptop I’d been aiming for met me here. It’s nifty cool, in the wicked sense. Still getting used to using Windows 7 on a more than occasional basis, but hey, so far I’m not complaining much.
  • The stupid: there’s acrap ton of it. It starts with local cab companies, and it’ll all warrant separate entries. Again, see the need for more brain power.
  • Hockey: the playoffs are closing rappidly in on us. There will be playoff mockery involved. There will not be Leafs recaps involved–again. Ah well. You saw it coming.
  • Leafs: I quit. At least for this season. I haven’t done a recap since mid-February. To recap this many games would be both exceedingly spammy and a very good reason to develop a migraine. Naturally it would also double as an excellent exercise in frustration–like all mid to late season attempts at playing the comeback kid do. You’re just not that team, Toronto. Sorry.
  • Mockery: Oh, dear lord, the mockery. Not in this post, but the mockery. I’m buried in it. It’ll get posted over the next couple days. Trust me–it’ll be more than worth the wayt.

So that’s kind of where I’ve been. Now, where’d I put my caffeine?

The two-part V-day cellebration.

Part of my reasoning behind showing up in Rochester for a month, particularly this month, is the opportunity to do exactly what’s currently being done today. Sure, we don’t need a particular day to do it, but well, it’s here and we’re doing it, so draw thine own conclusions. I aranged to have a little surprise show up for Jessica at work today during a couple hours when she needed to be away from the apartment. She hasn’t had much of that done for her I don’t think, and well, it’s muchly deserved. I don’t think she disagreed, considering she showed it off apparently to a couple folks she worked with. Something else was supposed to show up for her today, but I’m going to just assume USPS decided today didn’t agree with their schedule so hopefully it’ll show up later this week. The third, now second, part of today’s activities takes place in just about an hour.

I’d seen some info on this little Italian restaurant not far from here floating around in various places, and was looking for an excuse to check it out. We’ve always had half a dozen things going on on any given day and well, the checking out of new places ends up usually getting squished off our list of things to do. So tonight, that’s being remedied. I made a place for us at Pane Vino Ristorante, which advertises itself as romantic, authentic Italian. Romantic or not, authentic or not, I’m calling it an excuse to just unwind, reset, and generally not have to actually do any work for our food. Not unlike the insanity of Saturday, except with about 10 less people. It’s a thing we try to do, usually somewhere a little more familiar than this, at least once while we’re together. This time just so happens to fall on a day when you’re theoretically supposed to do stuff like that, but oh well, whatcha gonna do? It’ll be nice, though, to actually just take an evening and be easy about it. The fact that I know it’ll help her to relax more than she already is? Added bonus. Now, back to this whole getting ready to leave thing.

Happy Valentines day to those of you who actually observe it, for whatever reason. Happy monday to everyone else. Either way, do me a favour and crack open a cold one. I’ll try and think of you while I’m drowning in pasta. Maybe.

And sometimes, there are entire evenings of awesome.

So yesterday was the epic get-together of win. A dozen of us crammed into one of the local restaurants and pretty much had a table or two entirely to ourselves, and an epic server of awesome to boot. Why? Simply because we could. There was me, Jessica, Heather and a whole crap ton of others, most of whom I’d never even seen before then, sitting around a huge table, eating and generally doing all manner of cutting up. The layers of awesome just kept coming–and so did the very nearly doubling over laughing at quite probably the absolute most random crap going. The food was awesome, the friends were epic, and when I came back to the apartment last night, I honestly questioned for about 10 seconds how the hell it was I’d be fitting through the door. It’s been a small age since I saw that many people get together and no punches were thrown. And the flirtation, oh the flirtation. I’m convinced that was half the hillarity in and of itself.

Everyone was all in general agreement last night we should do that more often. Which probably means I need to start inventing money to get myself back down here for another one of these parties. And, well, hell, because I can–why not? I have all kinds of reasons to keep coming back here, and surprisingly–or perhaps not, if you’re keeping score–not all of them are Jessica-related. Just most of them. This stuff keeps happening, I’m gonna start to wonder just which of my two apartments I should be staying in. Now to get through the week so we can do something just like this all over again, except potentially with a different group of people and for possibly different reasons. This should get real interesting real fast.

Related: Heather, we’re getting you a blog. Yesterday. Because we can. Yeah, I said it. Wait for it.

In which I get an introduction to ODSP math.

I’ve been on ODSP’s case for, like, ever about not escentially drumming us out of the running financially, for what little my being on them’s managed to accomplish. For those just tuning in, ODSP is the Ontario Disability Support Program, also known as those folks what pay me because no one likes to hire the blind guy and I still have bills to pay. I’ve done everything from harass folks locally to write the folks who actually make the decisions, most of which eventually ended up documented on this thing calling itself a blog. Adding to my reasons for harassing folks at both ends of the food chain, my recent attempt to save money has prompted ODSP to attempt to save a little on its end. Thus, not doing a whole lot on mine to make actually saving money worth my while.

Let me bring you up to speed. I live in a fairly cheap apartment, rent-wise. It’s $550 a month, plus your electricity. For most places, that’s cheap. For Pembroke, I’m surprised it was even vacant. I’ve lived there since 2009. At the end of 2010, I decided it would be in my best financial interest to do the roommate thing. Yeah, that would eventually require a bigger apartment, but two bank accounts are almost always better than one, so the math should have worked out. Then I got a phone call. I’d forgotten there was actually two different types of math at play, here. There was actual math, as in that stuff you were forced to sit through before they’d let you get out of highschool, then there’s ODSP math. That, apparently, follows an entirely different, much more nonsensicle, set of rules.

We ran the math out, figuring we could probably manage to free up an average of roughly $250 between the two of us, which could easily be realocated into bills we otherwise would have had a difficult time paying had we decided to be stubborn about it and forego the whole idea of a roommate. Those numbers in hand, we actually planned our month of January figuring if things changed, they wouldn’t change by a whole heaping lot, so we could optionally minus 50 from here or there if we needed to in order to cover off something else. We played with it until it didn’t hurt our heads, then left it there. The month rolled over, and shortly after, the phone rang. It was ODSP. They’d decided they’d be cutting a nifty little slice off each of our monthly allowances, to the tune of very nearly what we were figuring we could just end up reusing. On top of that, a letter showed up in my name 3 days after that wonderfully heartwarming conversation, escentially telling me they believe I was overpaid for the month of December and they’d be collecting that back, kind of now like. And they did it in the form of slicing off what they were going to, plus what they thought would be an awesome magical number to just sort of start at for repayment. Yeah, just how I wanted to start my 2011. While dealing with that, we were also looking at the possibility of said larger apartment, and trying very hard not to laugh at the prospect of them arguing with us about our attempt to save money just long enough that they wind up being forced just by way of our expenses to reverse themselves anyway, and we’d still wind up not having actually managed to come out any further off the financial ropes.

Since I hadn’t yet figured out exactly how much they’d be snagging from me each month to compensate for having paid me more than they’ve decided I’m worth, I went with their usual practice and left things as they were for the time being. Then the roommate fled to see his girl, and I came down here. I wouldn’t find out until a few days later, when I both had time and wasn’t at too much a risk of losing a lung to actually do the month’s finances on my end–belatedly, but hey, they got done. Their definition of a repayment plan leaves me with less money at the end of it than I had pre-roommate. All told, I actually ended up losing most if not all of what I was kind of aiming to put towards the actual paying of bills.

Look, guys, I get you’re cheap. Really, I do. I get you measure your $10 annual increases in the context of millions of dollars combined. Again, I really do. But not even you can comprehensibly wrap your heads around this attempt at math, as evidenced by the fact no one I’ve spoken to on this file’s come anywhere near close to an explanation that doesn’t try very hard not to trip over itself and fall flat on its face. Just what actual sense does this make? Seriously? Not only does ODSP want to not actually give you more money, but if you actually try and save yourself some of the money they do give you, that only serves to invite them to claw it back whether they actually should or not. And of course, the system is designed in such a way that they decide you can live on this amount, and you get to provide them 80 metric tons of documentation on why you can’t, then wait for them to maybe or maybe not–usually not–change their minds.

ODSP is here to foster independence and help recipients to actually function on their own without needing to spunge off family/friends. Just don’t actually try and avoid spunging. Turns out ODSP math doesn’t allow for it.

WTN, the mostly almost nearly all human edition.

So this has been a very entertaining week content-wise, hasn’t it just? Yeah, about that. Sorry. Those curve balls I kind of made reference to on Friday? They just keep comin’. In this week’s latest curve, hi, sick days a-plenty.

Some of you will probably recall Jessica spent most of last week sick, starting on Sunday. This includes the entire first week I spent here. She took Tuesday off, but that was about it for reasons related to the fact her bosses are personifications of different aspects of Satan. Fortunately she had Friday off anyway, so after we got our running around done that needed to happen, she could get her rest accordingly. Friday was also apparently my turn to have whatever it was she was having–that’s one meal order I could definitely live without, next time. So that thing what laid her out flat on her ass on Tuesday snuck up on me Friday, and laid me out flat on mine. So now, Friday afternoon/evening consisted of her trying very hard to get over what she had, and me trying very hard not to die from what I just picked up. I spent parts of that weekend in a sort of zombie state, which made going to visit friends on Saturday an adventure in Dayquill to be sure–sorry about that, Candi/Kyle. Next time I should be less likely to infect the little one. Still, we had an awesome time on Saturday even if we were both in various stages of recovery, and Sunday while she returned to work, I returned to being vaguely close to human solely with the assistance of Dayquill.

Monday was pretty much the easiest day so far. Even though once again it was a pill popping day. And by Tuesday, I only had to take one in order to go take in birthday cellebrations with friends at Sugar Mountain, a local cupcake place that, just for the record–and I don’t do a lot of the whole cupcake thing regularly, owns your soul twice and calls it a warm-up. I’d actually began to look slightly less like death warmed over around then, so going out–even though I was popping pills to do so–was actually enjoyable.

Today was a personal moment in admittedly short history. For the first time since this thing had knocked me on my ass, I was actually upwardly mobile at a reasonable hour this morning. And more fun, even, was I was doing it without the assistance of drugs. Not that I didn’t have any, they just for a change weren’t actually needed. I actually felt relatively close to human all day, which took some doing to say the absolute least. Unfortunately, it means the blog’s kind of sort of been lacking in updates again, but I’ve yet to perfect the android version of me who can take over things like this while I go attempt not to misplace a lung. However, now that I’m back to something vaguely resembling normal, hopefully this time I can get back to something that resembles a regular update to this thing–including, apparently, 3 or 4 hockey games I’ve up and ignored, and a whole crap ton of mockery of various shapes and sizes. Oh, and hey, Murphy? God gave you 1 day. You didn’t have to take the other 80 million. Knock it off with the curve balls already. That’d rule.

And on the 8th day, God said, “Murphy, it’s all yours.”.

I should have probably taken the events of last weekend as a hint that this wasn’t going to be as event free a travel year as I’m used to. Shane had to push his departure date ahead a week to deal with a whole new brand of stupid that’s, naturally, since been squished underfoot. That meant we got the pleasure of throwing together departure plans on 24 hours notice–doable, but it took creativity. On the saturday afternoon, he left Petawawa destined for Boston with his suitcase, and a backpack full of technological wonders. On Saturday night, he left Montreal destined for Boston without the afore mentioned technical wonders and little to no chance of ever actually getting them back–for the record, I think we’ve kind of declared them a lost cause. The process quickly got underway to start the replacing of the afore mentioned technological wonders. And as I was packing to leave for my own trip, that process was pretty much everything but complete. So I thought it should go smoothely from here on out. Then I got to Rochester and someone thought it’d be cute to tease me into thinking otherwise.

As I said in the previous entry, I showed up in Rochester an hour and a half late. Took a cab from the station to the apartment, where Jessica met me at the door to the building with cab money–the thing about having 80 million things to do is almost always, at least one won’t get done. I had time to pass her change off to her, and when I turned back to see if the trunk of the cab was open so I could snatch my suitcase, there was no cab and there was no suitcase. We had a pretty good idea which company the driver belonged to, and were pretty sure it wasn’t entirely intentional–that’s yet another trip related entry for when I have slightly more brain juice. So we called that company, and pretty much got no help from the dispatcher. Not figuring on giving up, the next day we called a few of the direct numbers for drivers we could dig up online. Say one thing for Rochester, there’s no shortage of cabs, be they independant or otherwise. We got a few possibles, and a few nos. The possibles eventually turned out to be very easily ruled out, but this is where it gets interesting. Every single one of the drivers we spoke to directly knew someone, or could point us in a direction of someone who did. Even if the driver was a possibility we found out didn’t have my clothes, the conversation never ended there–it was almost always “Well, I know this guy and here’s his number, see if he’s got it.”, or my second favourite, “I don’t remember driving you, but I know these 6 guys. Let me call them and I’ll get back to you.”. You don’t see a lot of that anymore, anywhere. So that the cab drivers around here were actually willing to do that was freaking amazing.

We eventually called the original cab company back and got a dispatcher that was a little more helpful. And, wouldn’t you know, we’d been right since the morning of my arival. So I got my stuff back within a couple hours of those phone calls. Meanwhile, the other drivers were keeping a lookout and while I didn’t end up hearing anything back from them, I’m pretty sure if it was still out there, I probably would have. It just amazes me how even in a city the size of Rochester, you can see stuff like this going on–and all it takes to start it is one phone call to the right driver.

So now, Shane’s getting stuff to replace what was lost, and I got my original stuff back. But I couldn’t help but laugh while all this was going on–not 2 days before I was meant to leave for Rochester, either Jessica or I had made the comment about at least Shane got to Boston with his clothes. And of course, that night, I very nearly didn’t get inside this apartment with mine. Murphy’s law hard at work, kids. Playing with your mind since the mythical day of rest.

The halfway update thinggy from Rochester.

Hey, it only took me 4 days–considering my previous record, that’s not bad.

The trip itself went amazingly well. So did all the 80 million things I had to get done before I fled the country–with the exception of the post office, but that entry I’ll save for when I have more brain cells to devote to the topic. I’ll leave you with this regards to that, though. Not only are they inaccessible, but they’re starting to inch across the line towards incompitent. Still, we got past that and everything else went smoothely. Hit my bus on time, actually with about an hour to spare, so took it easy around the place. Got into Rochester an hour and a half late through no fault of my own–hi, people holding us up at the border, nice to slap you. That, also, gets an entry of its own when more brain power is available. Jessica has spent the majority of this week sick, so we took it wasy after getting here. She called out from work on Tuesday, and almost slept the entire day away with the exception of being awake long enough to eat and talk for a few minutes with Heather–we really need to get that girl a blog of her vary own, speaking of. Then it was bed and sleep again. She went to work yesterday, I started getting cought u on things. Got a little closer to getting caught up on things today, and she got a little closer to being back to her old self after again taking it easy last night. We’ve got some running around to do tomorrow, then it’s off to see everyone’s favourite new mom and baby on Saturday. Somewhere in between that and the rest of next week, I have a metric ton more mockery to throw up here–including a couple things I was clued in on by Shane on his blog while I was buried in everything else. Here’s a very wee tiny small sampling of the coming stupid.

  • The CRTC gets a federal slapdown, and nobody elle loses much sleep.
  • The next big thing in terror: toy soldiers with equally toy guns–I dunno. Thank the British.
  • Surprise surprise. OC Transpo doesn’t actually have a labour plan. Told you that strike wasn’t a smart idea.
  • My hockey team actually wins. Twice. It figures they be games I’m physically incapable of watching.
  • Speaking of hockey, hi, Ottawa. Still sucking after the all star break, I see. Don’t worry, I have a special blog post just for you. Courtesy the Onion.
  • Breaking Canada, one US politician at a time. Next on the ridiculous meter? Potential visa requirements for border crossings. Because passports just weren’t stupid enough.

There’s more, but I’m running out of brain juice and well, I do have something very slightly less than screwed up to blog about before I go fall over beside my fiance. Tiny little hint: this is not a good year for traveling if you’re us. And now, back to whatever it was you were doing before I interrupted you. I’ll be back.

It’s the pre-departure oh my God drive me crazy writeoff monday mental checklist.

Try saying that 3 times fast. While you do that, I’ll be busy very quickly disposing of a departure Monday. This is more of a “God please don’t let me forget something” exercise primarily for me, but if you’re curious just how dead my Monday is, here’s a hint. I leave in an hour and don’t stop ’til Tuesday. Between now and then, I have a shitload of things to accomplish. In no particular order, I need to:

  • Finish packing things I’ll need to carry with me, IE: foodstuffs
  • Yank my phone off the charger, pocket phone, pack charger
  • Put together the package I’ll be shipping off on my way out of here
  • Hand mother relevant info re: packages to be expected in within the week that will also be shipped out while I’m not here
  • Drop into UPS/Purolator, fire the offending package across the border
  • Stop somewhere to grab something to take with me for supper
  • Also optionally grab lunch
  • Confirm the presence of the card I need to secure my bus ticket
  • Probably, misplace that card at least once–it’s not a complete trip without it
  • Run past the bank, deposit a money order
  • Take out US cash
  • Pray to God I have enough Canadian cash left over after the taking of US cash to shovel into my mother’s gas tank
  • If we’re not pressed, and we shouldn’t be, drop in for a haircut and an excuse to sit on something that isn’t moving umpteen miles an hour
  • Get in to the station in just enough time to grab my ticket and run
  • Barely make the bus–hi, Ottawa lunch hour traffick, nice to not see you
  • Breathe

Okay, I’ve had a full day just looking at this. Now to actually go do it. Catch you all in Rochester, unless I’m bored. Then it’s roadmail posting. Behave. Or, if you absolutely must avoid behaving, go hang out with these two for the day. Probably enough mockery between them to make up for my absense. If not, I have enough saved. Catch you tomorrow! turns 5, and my incitefulness takes a walk.

Back in 2006, before I had much of an idea I’d be getting into this whole regular blogging thing, I thought it’d be kinda neat to try out this whole having your own web address thing. I did the registration process, the configuring, and after a while, I even started shoving my email over there. Hey, I was 22–that was a big thing for me. Then later on came the first incarnation of the blog, and I actually got into a sort of semi-regular habbit of at least throwing, er, something up there. Even if it wasn’t overly entertaining–it was considered my very own answer to Blogger and LiveJournal. I’d throw something at it, and maybe it’d stick. Or maybe it’d be one of the myriad useless little quizzes I’d post out of boredom. That was what it was here for. Then I got serious about it.

I still didn’t do it with the expectation of milions of readers and thousands of comments–good thing, as I think I managed maybe half a dozen at one time, but I did it because it was there for something to do. 5 years later, I still post whatever comes to mind–or across my desk via RSS feeds. And I still do it for something to do. I’m not expecting 80 million readers, though when I write something that catches on I don’t exactly shake my head at it. I do it because. And hey, sometimes, I actually offer something up that other people don’t know. And sometimes, other people drop by and I learn a thing or two. Okay, so maybe that’s why I do it.

I keep trying to invent something inciteful/witty/whatever, but I got nothin’. Not a very impressive showing for 5 years. So instead, have 5 of my favourite posts from all 3 incarnations of the blog.

In which James seriously needs to stop failing at this blogging thing.

It just randomly occured to me, as I was plowing through various things that have been piling up while life was busy throwing us curve balls, it’s been exactly, as in to the day, two weeks since I’ve actually posted anything up here. And probably longer than that since the anything had actual content. Oops. Publishing don’t number 1, and I did it. Oh well, you’ll have that. And the worst part of it is, the two weeks in question actually stood a chance at being somewhat exciting. If by exciting you mean a small rolercoaster of fun.

Where to start. Big news in the nowheresville household, we had our eye on a larger apartment and moving back to Ottawa. Well, back to Ottawa for me–Shane has never actually had the good fortune of living there, specificly. So we had the apartment lined up–the lady showing it to us had us sold within the first 10 minutes. We filled out the application. Then, we sat around here and waited. The application ended up not going through, which made things very interesting–note to readers, if you’re looking to make a major move like this and you’ve already gone ahead and set things in motion to have services moved/activated on your moving day, watch out for that quick 180. It’s real hard to hit the off switch when they come back and say you can’t actually have the apartment. Or maybe that’s just a Rogers thing–anything’s possible. We ran into that problem when the phone call came in that we didn’t actually land the apartment. We have a pretty good idea *why* we didn’t land the apartment, and while yeah it sucks, we know for next time. Too bad, too–it was a wicked awesome apartment.

Fortunately, since we look for bright sides on this here blog when we can, the apartment falling through means it doesn’t complicate our return from yet more planned events in the past two weeks. Shane had originally planned to drop in on his girlfriend at the beginning of February, but situations ended up coming up that sort of necessitated he be down there now. I’m still on schedule for bothering Jessica, who has actually managed to update her blog more than once this month, at the beginning of the month as initially planned. We were originally going to come back from our respective vacations on the second of March and promptly pack the place up for moving, but now we have a little bit of flexibility re: when we come back, just in case things decide that falling sideways while we’re down there is the order of the day. It also gives me a bit more time, if necessary, to help Jess with her own move at the end of February without having to worry about shooting back up here for mine. And, since I like not being attached to a deadline, I can presently put a questionmark on my return date–we shall have to see how things play out.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however. In list format, with explanatory posts to come when I have more brain power. Because presently, this caffeine thing isn’t working for me anymore.

  • Life decides at the worst possible time to throw one hell of a curve ball. We got smacked with one this past weekend–and are still recovering. Which reminds me, I need to move a few more things over to the replacement external HD.
    • Related: Hey Dell? You can ship Shane’s laptop any freaking time, now. Seriously.
  • Those guys from Toronto actually one a game or two. That should be posted about before I forget. Again.
  • Sadly, they also lost a shitload. That, I wish I could forget about posting about.

Related: Mixed in with the last couple weeks’ fun helping of funness were multiple large doses of snow. And yes, an extra side order of snow. I’m selling it for cheap. Want some? Please?

Now, let’s see how many of these hockey posts I can crank out before I go fall over. And later today, or tomorrow, a metric ton of mockery. No, I’m not kidding. I’m looking at two pages of blog material over here. And now I actually have time to post it. This might get very unpretty.

Suddenly, the big bang theory isn’t scientific anymore.

Not if you listen to a speech by the Pope, at least. There’s no such thing as an accident–particularly where the big bang theory’s concerned, so says Pope Benedict XVI. Instead, even that was escentially orchestrated by God.

God’s mind was behind complex scientific theories such as the Big Bang, and Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident, Pope Benedict said on Thursday.

“The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe,” Benedict said on the day Christians mark the Epiphany, the day the Bible says the three kings reached the site where Jesus was born by following a star.

“Contemplating it (the universe) we are invited to read something profound into it: the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God,” he said in a sermon to some 10,000 people in St Peter’s Basilica on the feast day.

While the pope has spoken before about evolution, he has rarely delved back in time to discuss specific concepts such as the Big Bang, which scientists believe led to the formation of the universe some 13.7 billion years ago.

Researchers at CERN, the nuclear research centre in Geneva, have been smashing protons together at near the speed of light to simulate conditions that they believe brought into existence the primordial universe from which stars, planets and life on earth — and perhaps elsewhere — eventually emerged.

Some atheists say science can prove that God does not exist, but Benedict said that some scientific theories were “mind limiting””because “they only arrive at a certain point … and do not manage to explain the ultimate sense of reality …”

He said scientific theories on the origin and development of the universe and humans, while not in conflict with faith, left many questions unanswered.

“In the beauty of the world, in its mystery, in its greatness and in its rationality … we can only let ourselves be guided towards God, creator of heaven and earth,” he said.

Folks, I’m not anti-religion. Yeah, even if said religion keeps insisting being blind, I must be saved–someday, I’ll write an entry on that that doesn’t cover half a dozen other topics so I have something to link to. But I have a hard time getting my head around the idea that if we don’t know the answer, or rather than accept the possibility the universe was actually created by accident and/or as a result of a random convergence of particles, we should instead just accept that God, who is equally if not more difficult to prove exists than the random chance Pope Benedict tells us to reject, had a direct hand in the creation of life, the universe and everything (*). And I also can’t get my head around the idea of someone who’s supposed to be trying to get rid of the image of the church being anti-scientific telling people to reject science.

A few hundred years ago, the very fact that it was written that God did this or that would have been enough to satisfy the majority. But then people started asking questions, and actually doing their own investigating. Hence, the Earth is not flat, nor was it created 6000 years ago, etc etc etc. Even though for the longest time the church maintained otherwise. And, like then, while people are continuing to ask questions of how in the hell we wound up in a screwed up place like this, the church continues to reject the idea that it was anything but divine intervension. And, surprise, it would very much prefer everyone else does, too.

Contrary to what the Pope would like to believe, the big bang theory is more than an extremely hillarious TV show. But it is, for all intents and purposes, still just a theory. No more or less a theory, at the end of the day, than this whole God thing–the only difference being the whole God theory’s been around longer. People have questioned and challenged both. People will probably continue to question and challenge both. But here’s the catch. You can do research to prove or disprove big bang. You can’t do that to prove or disprove God, or any variation of it. I’ve always been the research and either prove or disprove type. It’s one of those things that either pleases people or pisses them off. So when I see someone of this much influence–enough to attract the attention of several thousand spectators–escentially telling folks to reject something that can be proven with a lot more certainty than what he’s prieching, I tend to get a little confused. Especially when he goes on to say science isn’t in conflict with faith. He’s right, to a point–science isn’t in conflict with faith. Science is perfectly comfortable with letting faith do what it pleases. You want to do the whole divine intervension thing? Help yourself. Science really doesn’t care. The church? Not so much. And that’s what turns me off right there. I like to be able to think, to ask questions, to flat out tell someone, “I get that this is how you see things. Now show me why.” There’s no room for that in religion. And this proves it.

(*): You need to read this. No. Seriously. Go now.

Ending 2010 with a splat.

As eventful for some as 2010 turned out to be, it all lead up to last night–at least as far as we were concerned. It was the last night Jessica would be spending here, and well, we were long overdue for a party. That meant pizza, beverages of choice–we did coke and coffee, music, and a thing that vaguely took the shape of a year-end radio show. Except for those parts where it fell all over the floor and kind of stayed there. Then, we somehow managed to survive long enough for today to get here and it was off to the bus station to return Jess to her side of the border, however unwillingly. From my own perspective, I started off 2011 much the same as I did 2010–Jessica hung out here, and we just did the laid back party type thing. The only difference was Shane saw fit to join us, and for the purpose of that mass amount of breakage that called itself a show, Byron drove the year-end countdown. It’s been easy since, what with the family taking the long way back via my aunt’s place from the bus station and then me subsequently flopping over and staying there for a few minutes. Still, after last night, and this past week, I think it’s deserved.

If you missed last night’s show because you actually had the good fortune to have a life, you’re lucky. But if you still want to experience that which we affectionately call brain breakage, it’s been rather haphazardly dumped over here. I’ll warn you now, this thing is definitely not fit for public consumption. But since when is anything else I’m involved in? Hope your New Years thinggy was as much fun as ours was. And I really hope this thing doesn’t break the archive system. I don’t even like doing tech support for our own crap for free.

It’s the most chaotic time of the year.

Whoever said the Christmas holidays were made for relaxing and taking it easy has clearly not met me, my fiance, or my family. busy is probably the understatement of the century–or at least the year. After Jessica showed herself on the 24th, it’s been pretty well non-stop. christmas morning at home, then with the parents for visiting, food, gifts, food, conversation, food, food, and food. Shane joined us for the food and we all gained 25 pounds overnight. Jess and I also tagged along to the grandparents beforehand. after the appropriate amount of stuffing ourselves, we took off downstairs for movies and were later visited by the brother and his beginning family. Then we came back here and were escentially useless until boxing day.

Next morning it was up and gone, and early. The parents needed a house sitter, and Jess and I needed something to do. So, we all got what we wanted. We stayed overnight at the parents’ place, and subsequently missed the first post-Christmas hockey game–hey, LeafsTV? Get yourselves on basic cable/satelite. I mean right now. Got back from that semi-late, so didn’t cause much more mayhem. We saved that for the next day.

Tuesday was the thinggy of doom, which according to certain people actually wasn’t entirely too broken. If you actually listened to the thinggy of doom, I’m very, very sorry. No, seriously. So sorry, in fact, that I may just throw another post up here once I’ve sufficiently blocked it out of my memory with the archive link. We may or may not do another thinggy and call it a year end show. We will, if we do, do it significantly less drunk than we did the last one. That incredibly broken one. I’m still sorry. No, really.

As a result of that thing that broke so horribly all over the place, yesterday does not exist. No. Not a chance. It’s gone. we were all pretty useless for most of the day. So useless, in fact, that we’ve done something that, in this house, has never happened–put on coffee at about noon. When most of us were semi-conscious. If by semi-conscious one means looking vaguely like a dress rehearsal of Dawn of the Dead. And then, after we thought we’d sufficiently blocked out that thinggy of doom from our memories, we listened to the archive. Yes, it really *is* that broken. There were parts of the archive in question all three of us had to listen to again just to make sure what actually happened actually happened. Yeah, it broke. Badly. We’ll never do that again. Until next time.

Today’s been easy. Playing catch-up after the holidays, getting things ready for stuff that may or may not happen at year’s end, and generally continuing the recovery process. That’ll probably continue right up until we end up sitting back and watching our poor hockey team get trampled on by Columbus. I forget exactly what we did at the end of 2009. With a little luck, I might remember pieces of what we did at the end of 2010. Say hello to the most chaotic time of the year. But damn if it isn’t wicked nifty cool. Now, excuse me while I go back to it.

Putting the holy busy back into holiday. Or something.

the last couple days have been, well, oh my god busy in the extreme. Hence the lack of anything vaguely resembling a post in that time. Yeah, that includes hockey posts–but oh well. In really quick, list format. because I’ve only got a couple minutes and then it’s off to see the wizard. Or rather, collect my fiance. Whichever.

  • Christmas shopping. Done. that only took creativity and money. Thank God that’s in short supply–oh wait, that’s a bad thing. Nevermind.
  • Finalizing plans for Christmas at the parents’, as we usually have it every hear. Insane will probably be the word of the day.
  • Mass amounts of grocery shopping. Jessica wants to do a Christmas breakfast, and dammit she’ll have her stuff for a Christmas breakfast. Even if it kills me. Or breaks the bank account. Thank God it did neither.
  • As said, off to grab Jess from the bus station in a few. She’s up for Christmas, and then a somewhat shortened new years. Welcome to the one time New Years day ends up on a Saturday and she’s gotta work the Sunday.
  • And in completely unrelated news: the blog may or may not be moving away from DreamHost, as part of a venture I’m currently a part of setting up. More details when I’m not trying to condense everything into bullet points.

That’s me this week. So how’s your holiday going?

My creditcard issuer has creditcard issues.

I have the good fortune, or not–depending on your perspective, to be in posession of a creditcard. Up until last week, the card worked pretty well flawlessly for anything from ordering pizza to paying the occasional bill online, in the event I’m too damn inpatient and/or lazy to bother with the slightly more traditional internet banking transfer. However, the last week or so, it’s decided to rather summarily flip me off. Randomly, it decided the CVV code I was using since I got the card–I only got the thing maybe last year or the year before–the code I’ve been using to make 90% of those purchases was no longer as valid as it was 5 minutes before I decided to use it. So I’ve been going through a pretty interesting little roundabout dance with Royal Bank, also known as them what issued my card. Their system, as much as they won’t actually admit it, appears to have ate my CVV code. This is more of a record of what’s going on for my own purposes, and well, in the event some other poor fool winds up with a similar problem. As things happen, I’ll probably come back to this post. My 7 days of fail started pretty much exactly a week ago. In list format, because. Lazy.

  • After much arm twisting, teeth pulling, and generally screaming at folks, I got the fundage to purchase the screenreader I need from Frontier Computing
  • Called them up and, after a bit of phone dancing, landed the purchase $1100 and some change later
  • Fast forward to last Friday, we’re trying to throw money at things down on that other side of the border, requiring I change the address on the card temporarily to a US one–a thing I’ve done a few times before
  • Change the address, go to make the payment, get declined due to CVV issues
  • CVV is correct, and was entered multiple times by both myself and Shane just to be on the damn sure side
  • Call up the bank, WTF at them for a few minutes, get told the CVV’s correct–well, yes, I had a feeling–and to call the merchant
  • Rather than beat our heads against that right then, we try throwing a payment in the general direction of AT&T
  • Once again, incorrect CVV, once again, we call the bank, once again, CVV is correct
  • Make that payment to AT&T via a telephone rep, who *didn’t* ask for the CVV, and it goes through no problem
  • Try to find a payment for our first attempted US payment over the phone, no luck
  • Try online again, get summarily flipped off, call the bank and, yep, everything’s correct–it’s the merchant’s fault
  • Switch back to the Canadian address, and we decide to finally find a use for one of my Tim Hortons gift cards–why in the hell I had two of them, I’ll never know–so it gets handed off to Shane, and we try to throw a few dollars at it via the card
  • Once again, we get summarily flipped off because of the CVV, and once again, RBC blames the merchant–this is the third one who’s flipped us off re: the CVV, so now I’m a little less open to that possibility than I was before
  • Saturday, we escentially get into hockey mode–which, of course, means pizza, which means ordering via creditcard on account of the bank machine’s over there and we’re not
  • That, of course, goes through no problem–of course, they also don’t ask for the CVV either (Hey, I thought they should; not doing so was their idea.)
  • Monday, we find out we have approximately 4 days to get paperwork into government offices, and not exactly world’s likeliest chance at being able to physically deliver it to the offending office–sometimes, not being able to drive and living in a small town gets to sucking hardcore
  • We decide on a whim, since most if not all of what’s needed is available online, we’ll pull it to the local machine, sign up for a fax number (hello, MyFax), and fire it off to the office that way
  • Assuming, since we know it can’t be the merchants all at once having issues it must be RBC that’s broken, and hoping against hope they’ve fixed it, we give signing up for it a try–and, once again, are summarily flipped off
  • Now, I’m about irritated and decide screw it I’m going to bed–this was kind of squeezed in between and around various phone and other exchanges with people who generally couldn’t seem to find their way to a clue
  • I give MyFax a try again several hours later, no go, Idaho–so again, decide to put it on the back burner until I figure out where the problem’s hiding out
  • Rogers, in its infinite wisdom, decides to then pick this morning as the absolute perfect time to decide the money I threw in their general direction isn’t getting to them fast enough, so they flip the switch what puts an end to our phone service
  • Not thinking, because why would I want to do that at 5:00 in the morning, I decide–hey, James, let’s just take care of what they say you owe them now and when their money catches up to them, they can just count that towards your next bill
  • Of course, the broken that is my creditcard escapes me at this point, so I call in, go through the routine, get summarily flipped off again thanks to bad CVV
  • Once again, call the bank, go a few rounds with the phone rep, who promptly blames the merchant–also, once again
  • Walk all over this rep, then summarily flip him off
  • Take a break from dealing with this, call Rogers directly, apply the appropriate clue that says they will get their money when I have it and not a minute before, then take care of some highly unrelated business before tackling this again
  • Call back to RBC, get a rep who’s first response isn’t quite so much to blame the merchant or, for that matter, RBC’s second favourite thing to blame throughout this issue–me
  • He does, at least, confirm no, the $1100 and change purchase didn’t likely set off alarms that, in simplest of terms, broke my card
  • Go a round or two with him, he also confirms the CVV does what it’s supposed to, decides something about the card’s dead–no, really?
  • Sends me out a replacement card, different card number, different CVV, same lovely little creditcard balance–but at least I got a shiny new interest rate out of it

So far, we still have absolutely no freaking idea what made my card go sideways. RBC blames the people I’m giving the info to, or me for entering the wrong info. Everyone I give the info to blames the bank for not confirming it, or me for giving them the wrong info. The bank is able to varify my info, shooting holes in half of both their theories. And I still sit here confused. This thing, whatever it is, isn’t over yet–not, I suspect, by any means. The post will probably be added to as things develop. I should have the new card in about a week or so, and if it’s just as broken, RBC and me will go yet another round. Sometimes, I love banking breakage. Only not really.

The blog turns a year old without me noticing.

On November 5th, 2009, I wrote this entry. That kicked off my blogging the second time around on this domain. That also kicked off my experience using WordPress as the blogging platform of choice, and moving away from LiveJournal. Since then, I’ve written a crap ton of entries, received some awesome feedback, thrown every post and comment under the sun from previous incarnations of this blog up here for consistency, and converted a person or two to the usage of WordPress–hello, Jessica, who hasn’t blogged in a small age herself. Oh yeah, and ranted/vented about several hundred things of a geeky and not so geeky nature. And it only occured to me I’ve been consistently doing this for a bit over a year about 2 minutes ago. Not bad for something I do just because it’s there to be done.

With the exception of a 4-month break last year, I’ve been fairly non-stop blogging in one way, shape or form for nearly 5 years. But for some reason, the 1-year mark of this particular version of this particular blog sticks out for me. Probably because when I started this blog, I’d just settled in after a move out of Ottawa to try and save me a little coin and now, just a month after the blog’s 1-year anniversary (Do blogs *have* anniversaries?), I’m investigating another creative little move in an attempt at saving me money. Whatever it is, and whyever it’s stuck out for me, there you have it. Happy belated anniversary to the blog. Next milestone? Five years blogging in general.

Roommates, apartment hunting, and inching forward with employment. Sort of.

The job market’s been doing a very good impression of a miserable failure the last year or two, at least up here. Very slowly, the interviews I was involved in began to slow to a trickle, then eventually stop. Then the same happened with jobs I didn’t have to have lived in a university for the past 10 years to apply to. Now, jobs in the Ottawa and valley area are kind of at a premium. I’ve been doing the disability income thing for the last year out of desperation, so I’m not forced to go back to living at home–not that I don’t like my parents, but from over here, please. This after being on employment insurance since the job I did have went to India in 2008. That has, naturally, required some financial creativity to keep myself ahead of the curve. My latest attempt at financial creativity consists of turning my one-bedroom apartment into a somewhat improvized two-bedroom, and taking in a roommate. It kind of works, seeing as he’s needing to get just about as financially creative as I am. I love my own space, but sometimes, sharing is caring. Or in this case, sharing is not ending up in the poor house. So on December first, shane will be borrowing my living room. Bright side: there will be much geeking. Not so bright side: some of our debates, when we start having actually meaningful ones, may or may not end up bloody. But hell, that’s half the fun, no?

The roommate situation has kind of pushed forward the necessity of looking for a new apartment. Because, really, while this works, I’m not quite so mean as to restrict him to the coutch for the foreseeable future. Particularly given he’s probably just about as likely to have a significant guest show up over here as I am. The coutch, while folding out and quite comfortable, is probably not conducive to, well, much of anything beyond sleeping. I’ve been looking for a bigger place the last week or so as a result, and have come to a very not quite surprising realization. Finding an apartment that doesn’t generally suck, have craptastic heating, or fit rather easily into this one is pretty near to impossible–at least in Pembroke. Which may mean our financial creativity will probably end up taking us back to Ottawa. Good, ish. Except for that part where the rent in Ottawa was what sent me all the way over here in the first place. Fortunately, the only deadlines we have are how long we can keep this whole creativity thing going. And the only restrictions we have location-wise really depends on whether or not, and where, one or both of us may end up working when we decide to move. In the meantime, hey, I like this kind of adventure.

As for where one or both of us may be working, it’s pretty much certain I’m probably not going to be working at Online Support after all. You may or may not recall I was waiting for questions to be answered, and paperwork to be processed before I could start over there. And oh yeah, Freedom Scientific‘s JAWS for Windows program so I could actually, you know, use their computer and know what it’s yelling at me. It took a little longer than I expected, but the ball’s finally rolling on the purchase of the screenreader–give or take the time it takes me to drop kick certain answers from certain individuals, I should have a copy that runs on windows 7 professional by the end of the month. Problem being now, though? Online Support hasn’t responded to me since a day or two after I wrote that last entry. The guy I’m dealing with from Ontario’s second career program has been trying to get a shot at them as well and hasn’t gotten anywhere. I’m leaning very much in the direction of just writing off the company. except for the fact they’re pretty much the only thread that hasn’t snapped off completely over here–yet. I’ve always suspected if I did end up employed again, it would probably be somewhere that isn’t Pembroke. This is kind of lending a bit more support to that suspicion.

Things are definitely happening, and in a quickly kind of way. But they’re definitely happening. And in a couple weeks, it’ll be nearly four years since the last time I developed a roommate–no better time to snap that streak. Or something. And just in time for that, we’re lining things up for a goodly portion of insanity. In other words, just another day in the life of me. I think I need a new one.

Hang on a sec. Where’d November go?

The last time I looked, I swear, it was just coming up on the end of October. I seem to have misplaced the first half of the month of November. Between halloween festivities, technical issues, medical issues and the back and forth and several other directions all of the above had me going in, I’m not sure “whirlwind” would quite describe the last couple weeks. Still, it’s the best description I can come up with, so have that.

Things have started to calm down now in most if not all areas previously of concern. Mom’s recovery’s going amazingly well–she was out with dad and I for the afternoon, which she wouldn’t have been able to do a week ago, which is a definite indicator. The computer my parents have been hanging onto for the last 10 years or so, who I’ve affectionately–okay, maybe not so much–nicknamed the frankenputer, has finally officially been declared dead, and been replaced with one that doesn’t look like it was put together from parts of a few other, less fortunate machines–and runs Windoes 7 like a dream, just for the record. Good things happen when the geek goes shopping. And life has generally stopped spinning in a hundred different directions at once. Which gives me plenty more time to get back to my regularly scheduled mockery of any and all things mockworthy.

I loved being super busy and internet restricted for a few days. Particularly seeing as I had plenty of offline things to keep me busy during that time. But as she who is my current patient, for lack of a better way to describe her, is slowly getting back to her usual self, I’m going to gradually have less offline things to do–which means a return to that which is my normal, everyday, usual routine. As much as I loved the last couple weeks, I’m going to love the slow return to normality just about as much. Or maybe it’s the excuses I’ll invent to play with a computer that can bring Facebook up in about 5 seconds, as opposed to 15 minutes–hey, the father unit checked that out for himself. I’m still resisting. Either way, I’m going to like this very nearly, if not equally, as much. Now let’s go see if I can find the rest of November.

Fun, family and festivities, oh my!

Okay, so escentially since Friday life’s been kind of non-stop. But I’ve been meaning to start this update before then, so we’ll get to that in a minute. I had a meeting with the ODSP person who’s heading up the purchasing of a copy of the screenreader I’ll be using at whichever job I end up landing in the foreseeable future. The meeting only lasted an hour or two, and pretty much just confirmed what I already knew–I’d be having no problem getting the dollars for it, and they’d just be going right ahead with the wiring that to me ASAP. Wicked nifty cool–things in that sector actually doing what they’re supposed to without me needing to apply a liberal amount of drop kick. That can’t be anything but good. So I left a couple messages with the employment opportunity here in Pembroke that I’ve been chasing for the last few weeks. They’ve yet to get back to me, naturally, and will promptly be hearing from me again tomorrow. The job I’d applied for in Ottawa, I’ve pretty much decided, has run off a cliff. Calls to them resulted in them saying they’d be looking into why it is the screenreading technology wouldn’t work with their chosen software, and how best to get it to play nice. They said they’d forward my contact info on to the person(s) responsible for testing such things, but poking them on that hasn’t gotten me very far yet. Another thing to attempt to do tomorrow.

In more positive and non-employment-related news, after the near fail that was Greyhound’s website and an epic fail that had surprisingly absolutely nothing to do with Greyhound at all–I’m looking straight at you, Canadian customs–Jessica got in safely and in one piece on Friday. We left early for Ottawa to pick her up, hence my running out of time to throw together an update before hand. We finally, after the afore mentioned Canadian customs failure, got her off the bus and in the car with us at about 10:00, and it was pretty much right back here after where she promptly recovered from not having slept since wednesday night. Friday was the lazy day of lazy as a result; we took it fairly easy at that point and just stuck around here.

Most of the next three days were spent with the family–we hung out with them Saturday evening, did all manner of shooting the shit and watching a little TV, and generally kept it low-key. Sunday we went back over there for dinner again, and received a sound ass kicking in a game of Rummoli–I still think certain members of my family cheat, but whatcha gonna do? that was only Jessica’s second time playing that game–she played once before with us last Christmas–and she pretty much did better than me for the majority of the game. I’m blaming beginner’s luck on that one.

Today being thanksgiving, we took off late this morning to go for our usual round of visiting, then headed back to the parents’ for a dinner who’s overall quality and quantity resulted in at least two food comas. There was more sitting around and shooting the shit, with a M*A*S*H marathon in the background on the history channel–my father’s always had a fondness for that show; it’s a military thing. When food comas started to set in, we decided to shuffle on back home and let life kind of slow itself down for a while. Now, I think I’ve managed to regain some of my balance here, so taking the rest of the week at full tilt will be fun.

Life’s been spinning pretty chaotically the last few days, but it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. Now with the holiday coming to a close, though, we can start to at least pretend like there’s some kind of a routine here. Which means it’s back to my usual being pulled in a few different directions–including taking considerable chunks of my day just to hang out and do absolutely nothing with Jess. And really, if I could have it any other way, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even think about it. There’s no better way to spend any holiday weekend. And hey, if it ends up being back to the usual routine tomorrow, it’ll all have been worth it. Now, I think I’ll just go do that holiday thing a little more.

It’s a Monday. It’s early. I want a refund.

I think I’m attempting to break my sleep schedule in a whole new way. It used to be by 5:00 in the morning I’m contemplating going to bed. Now? I ended up doing so at a semi-reasonable hour last night–and promptly woke up at 5:00 in the morning instead. More normal-ish? Certainly. More favourable? Not in the slightest. Hey, if the sun’s not up yet when I’m considering moving, I shouldn’t be considering moving. Even if I have phone calls that need to be placed and/or received–none of which I can do at 5:00 in the morning anyway. Bright side: at least I’m up. Yeah, that’ll have to work. Now where’s my coffee?

Hey, who turned on the highschool flashback?

So I was randomly bored this morning, and decided to look up the attendance list for one of those highschool reunions I can never manage to scrape together either the money or a halfway decent reason to show up at. Of the folks who were actually added to the publicly available list of people who were going to be there at this year’s meetup, for like the first time ever I actually saw more names on there I knew than those I didn’t. At first glance it almost looked like the school roster for my first or second year there.

In no particular order, people who’s names came up on that list consisted of: two x-girlfriends, one x-girlfriend’s assumedly current fiance, one close friend who wanted to end up a girlfriend, several good friends of mine and theirs, and a couple people I only really knew of by reputation. This for a school who’s history goes back to before my grandparents were born, nevermind me. I had to read the thing twice to make sure I didn’t unintentionally get into something potentially bad for the mental faculties. And a third in case I missed something. I didn’t.

I’m not sure if it says more for the folks I used to run with at that school or the ones who went there before us, but I feel just a little bit older than I should after seeing that many familiar names showing up there. And the ironic part, if given half a chance I’d at least for thirty seconds consider reestablishing contact with a couple of them. Not that I’d do it–nothing says hanging onto the past like looking up old highschool folks you haven’t even thought about in damn near a dozen years in some cases, but I’ve been known to at least consider it.

I may or may not at some point go into details on why I’ve kind of left that school behind, but for the moment, I’ll just say for as much crap as it was required to put up with while I was going there, there were a lot of good reasons for me to stick around. Some of those good reasons were on that attendance list. But, that almost feels now like it was a completely different lifetime–I’ve kind of seen and done a hell of a lot since then. In a lot of ways I wonder if I’d even still get along with some of those people had we kept in touch, or gotten back in touch after this long not being. Still, it might have been nice to spend a weekend catching up with some of them. Now if only I’d been able to aford it, and care enough about the rest of the school to actually bother going. Oh well, maybe next time. Or the time after. Or not. In the meantime, if I end up hearing from folks I used to run with, I’ll burn that bridge when I get there. I’d just like to know who turned on the highschool flashback. And, if next time they’ll warn me first.