Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The miracle of "Tom's Diner"

Ever get a song stuck in your head? I often do.

It's always worse when you don't know all the words, and the same four lines just play ad infinitum in your brain, taking over all adspace and causing you to sit virtually motionless at your computer while you mentally sing the song yourself, trying in vain to reach past the end of the last sentence you know and reach into the rest of the song. Sometimes there's mental video accompaniment, and it's even more maddening watching the singer's lips move and you can't remember what they're supposed to be singing.

But there is a cure. The cure is "Tom's Diner".

For those of you who prefer to forget the eighties, "Tom's Diner" is a song by Suzanne Vega. You know, the "Doo doo doo doo, doo da-doo doo" song. You don't need to know any of the
lyrics, just sing the catchy chorus.

I discovered in university that when I sing this song, the song I have in my head magically disappears, and I don't even get this replacement song stuck in my head. It's the 'Getting a Song Out of Your Head' Song. Try it. It really works!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Things I'd love to say to a customer someday, Part 2

Yes, we're absolutely going to change this policy right away. Just. For. You.

Of course I need your damned account number. Why didn't you look for it during the 15-minute wait that you've whined about so much?

No, I'm not going to compensate you for the gas you wasted going back to the store. You have not called a gas station.

If today you got the biggest shock of your life because of this change in procedure, then I'm afraid for you; if something really big happens, you're going to fall apart!

No, sir, we can change our program legally without notification because it is in our Terms & Conditions. No, it is not the same as deliberately hitting someone when they are jaywalking. (Note: The customer said that if he takes this to court, even though it's in the rules, it won't stand up. Just like you can't hit someone when they are jaywalking even though what they're doing is illegal. Yeah, doesn’t really make sense, does it?)

I'm sorry, you think waiting seven whole minutes is a long time to wait for your photos? I could understand if your photos had been lost for three months and were suddenly recovered and when you finally went to the store to pick them up there was a little mild hysteria because someone had put them in the manager's office as a precaution instead of in the drawer; then seven minutes might be a little maddening. But that's not what happened. Hell, some people's photos are never recovered. Count yourself lucky.

On a similar note, do you think that if you e-mail us several times over the space of a few days we're going to respond to your first e-mail any faster? We're a nation-wide company, we get literally hundreds of e-mails a day. Hold your frigging horses.

Okay, so you had a problem with one of our stores, is that right? How bad was it? I mean, on a scale of one-to-ten, ten being really bad, how bad was it? No, I don't really need to know what happened, I just need a number. Nine, huh, that's pretty bad, I guess. So what's your address? No, I don't need your name, I just want to send you a gift card. How much? Well, you said your problem was a Nine so, let's see...multiply by...and carry, a million dollars, is that okay with you?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Vote for Pink

I love Pink. She is such a bitchin' singer. Amazing body, amazing voice, and I don't know if she writes her own songs but, great lyrics.

I just yesterday saw the video for "Stupid Girl", and it was hilarious. She makes fun of Jessica Simpson, Loni Anderson, Paris Hilton, I think Lindsey Lohan (in the vomiting scene, which is pretty gross), someone from Nip/Tuck, and the chick from Black Eyed Peas. I don't know if the girl on the treadmill is supposed to be "someone", or the bowling chick either. Oh, and Britany Murphy's in there too, slamming into doors and buying chihuahuas and hitting people with her car.

I especially like the Jessica Simpson car-washing scene where she falls off the car while trying to look "sexy". And the scene where she asking where are the girls who want to be president; she looks so put-together and professional, hell, I'd vote for her. Vote for Pink!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


My fiancé made fun of me when we went to the art store the other day to look at invitation-making materials, because I tried to show him what color the dress is .

"It's sort of this color." I'm pointing to a sheet of fine art paper. It's sort of a beige-y color with golden tones.
He looks at it. "Oh. That's nice. It's not white, though."
"No, I told you it's not white, it's like a champagne color. Well, actually, " I pause and look at another sheet nearby, "It's more like this color, only lighter."
Then I point to a ribbon holding up the sign that says, 'DO NOT TOUCH THE PAPER. PLEASE ASK FOR ASSISTANCE.' "It's actually more like this color, only not as bright."
He looks scandalized. "It's yellow?"
"No, it's like a golden color. It's paler than this, has more brown tone in it."
He stops and looks at me. "You don't really know what color it is, do you?"
I look at the floor. "No."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

San Valentino

There are different stories about Valentinus; the one I learned, as a wee lass in grade two, was that Valentinus was a man from Italy who lived in the first century AD. He helped men and women who fell in love elope, and also acted as their messenger, carrying their secret love notes to and fro. He was put to death for it later. Silly, unromantic Romans.

Another story says he actually fell in love himself and signed his letters to his sweetheart, "From Your Valentine".

So to all my friends and loved ones, buon giorno di San Valentino!


P.S. My fiancé got mad last night when I guessed where he wanted to take me for dinner tonight. Hasn't he learned by now that I can read his mind? *giggle*

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No Bridezilla yet

So, I have a wedding dress now. It only took me three hours to find. It fits me perfectly, and it's a beautiful champagne color (though the store called it "Expresso"; I don't know about you, but I though expresso was a type of coffee, and hence, a dark brown, but who am I to argue?).

The dress only needs to be hemmed, and the straps put on properly. I'm hoping to make a purse out of the acres of fabric left over, as the dress currently has a train about three feet long, and I just want it to be floor length.

So, due to the color change from off-white to a more golden tone, peach likely no longer a viable color option. Though blue is still a go. We'll see what happens.

Oh, and I can't post a picture because my fiancé will see it, and that just wouldn't do.

My Harry Potter Story - Take IV

This is my version of events to come, which I am now publishing for the fourth time due to issues with Blogger last week. I may or may not continue to write it while Jo writes her little version. I suppose hers will be a "bestseller" and all, but I don't think I'm small potatoes. (Well, I'm bigger than baby potatoes, at least.) Presenting, "Harry Potter and the [something something]" (title subject to change), Chapter One - Return to Privet Drive. Copyright 2005.

It was nearly ten o’clock at night. The faint noise of an engine, and what looked to be the vanishing ghost of a violently purple double-decker bus, accompanied the sudden appearance of a young man with tousled black hair and round spectacles. He looked around cautiously and kept his right hand in his jacket pocket, absently patting his chest with the left, as if reassuring himself that whatever he carried in his jacket was still there.
His trainers made very little noise on the damp pavement as he approached the mouth of Privet Drive. The sixteen-year-old walked slowly up the street and approached Number Four with what appeared to be trepidation, like he didn’t want to be there in the first place. He took a deep breath, took his empty right hand out of his pocket, and for the first time in his life, knocked on the front door.
A few moments passed before he heard a gruff voice muttering, and several metallic clicks, as locks were undone. The door opened to reveal a portly man with a bushy mustache. The man’s eyes opened wide, and his mouth worked mechanically for a few seconds before he found his voice. “You!” he hissed.
Harry Potter looked his uncle in the eye. He had been half-hoping that his aunt would answer the door. Instead, Vernon Dursley was turning purple with suppressed rage, as he did every time Harry returned for the summer; it was as if he preferred to forget his nephew even existed and was always furious that he deigned to come back and remind him of the fact. Harry steeled himself and said politely, “Hello, Uncle Vernon. May I come in?”
Uncle Vernon’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why bother asking? What do you care whether I want you here or not, you ungrateful little brat? You’re a menace to this house and to this family, and I want you to leave and never come back!” He began to close the door as swiftly as he could.
Harry stuck his left foot in the doorjamb, and winced when the door banged his toes repeatedly as his uncle tried desperately to shut it. He leaned into the crack, and said quietly, “You’re not safe, Uncle, not on your own.”
The banging stopped and part of his uncle’s face appeared in the crack. “What the devil do you mean by that, boy? Are you threatening us? Because if you are…” His eyes searched Harry frantically, looking for the wand he knew Harry would have, though Uncle Vernon knew he had no defense against it.
Harry withdrew his foot, resisting the urge to hop in response to the throbbing ache that began. “It’s not safe for anyone right now, and if you let me in I’ll explain. Look.“ He waved his two empty hands in an attempt to appear unthreatening.
“Vernon? Who is it?” A woman’s voice called from kitchen. Before his uncle could say anything, Harry cut in.“It’s me, Aunt Petunia. I’d like to talk to you both. And Dudley too.”
The expression on Petunia’s face was fearful as she approached the door that Vernon had begun to open again. Harry could almost hear the mental workings of his uncle’s mind, as he weighed the consequences of having the neighbors see him kick his own nephew off the property, and Harry winced once again when his arm was grabbed forcefully and he was yanked inside, the door slamming shut behind him.
“Fine, you’re inside now, so tell us why it’s not safe and then you can leave.” The purple hue of his uncle’s face had faded to the slightly less bilious shade of red, but Harry could still see the vein throbbing in his temple.
Harry sighed and said, “Could we sit down? Please,” he added, trying to diffuse the tension. Without waiting for an answer, he walked, nursing his foot slightly, into the sitting room and sat down in the same armchair the late Headmaster had briefly occupied the year before. His aunt and uncle followed cautiously, as if waiting for an attack, and Harry spied his cousin staring at him in shock from the kitchen, a large sandwich in his hands. Dudley had grown taller and beefier-looking in Harry’s absence, though it was clear he still feared his magical cousin.
He watched as Dudley put down his sandwich and entered the sitting room. The Dursleys all sat down on the sofa, and Harry took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to be easy. He gazed squarely at his aunt. “You remember what Dumbledore said last summer. Well, that’s why I’m here. I only need to stay until my birthday; it’s just over a month. I’ll be out during the day, so I won’t bother any of you at all.” He bit his tongue to keep from saying he’d rather be anywhere but Privet Drive anyway.
Uncle Vernon looked down at Harry haughtily. “So, you think you can just waltz back in here and demand room and board? Does this look like a hotel?” Dudley, as ever, too scared to say much, nodded automatically in agreement with his father.
Aunt Petunia looked at her husband. “That, that man… He said he had to. We don’t really have a choice in the matter. Do we?” She glared at Harry.
Harry glanced at the floor before returning his gaze to his aunt’s horsy face, and said quietly, “Well, actually, you do have a choice. But I’m asking.” He mentally crossed his fingers. “Please, Aunt Petunia. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but if you don’t let me stay, I could die tomorrow. Dumbledore said the protection in this house, of your – well, our – blood – “ Petunia shivered “– is all I have to keep me safe from Voldemort until my birthday. As much we both hate to admit it, you are part of my family.” He took another breath. “One month, and then you’ll never have to see me again.”
He had only ever seen his aunt look this discomfited once before, two summers ago when she had received a Howler from the late Headmaster. “One month?” she asked uncertainly.
Harry nodded. “And I can protect you from, well, whatever may come around in the meantime.”
Dudley finally spoke up. “But you’re not allowed to use magic outside of school.” He looked angry at the thought that his cousin might possibly usurp his position as big man of the house.
The young wizard shook his head. “We’re not. But they’re probably shutting down the school anyway. You see, Dumbledore is…” Harry swallowed as a lump came, unbidden, to his throat. “He was killed last week, by one of the teachers. Hogwarts isn’t safe anymore. And I don’t really care if the Ministry comes after me for using magic between now and my birthday. But you need me right now as much as I need you.”
“And just what do you mean, ‘whatever may come around’? What sort of riff-raff are you drawing here, anyway? Besides, we can take care of ourselves. We don’t need you.” Vernon’s high color had been fading, but flared scarlet again; it crossed Harry’s mind briefly that it was like watching a Remembrall. He turned to his aunt, ignoring his uncle’s huffs for the moment.
“Look, Aunt Petunia, it’s your decision. You know I’ve never asked you for anything. And I saved Dudley’s life once. That has to count for something.” His heart was beating fast, and he felt somewhat nauseated. What if she said no?
He looked at his uncle. “The fact is, Voldemort knows that this house is protecting me. After that protection ends on my birthday, you’ll be free of me. But until then, you’re all in danger, because he may try to kill you to eliminate that protection. I can help to defend you, and my friends will help too.”
Aunt Petunia looked at Harry, then at Vernon and Dudley, and looked at Harry again. “You may stay,” she said shakily. She hesitated. “Is he really dead? Dumbledore… can’t help us?” She looked like she didn’t want to believe it.
Harry nodded. “I saw it happen. So I can really stay?” he asked abruptly. Petunia nodded, but appeared to have regretted her family weakness.
Harry stood up suddenly, and his aunt, uncle and cousin all jerked back, startled. He strode over to the window, opened it, and drew his wand. A silver stag erupted from the tip and streaked into the night.
A few seconds later, there was a flash inside the foyer and a battered brown trunk appeared. He stowed his wand back in his pocket, left the sitting room and began to drag the trunk upstairs. He stopped in the middle of the stairwell and looked at his relatives, who were staring at him with varying degrees of shock and dismay. “Thanks,” he said, and continued up the stairs to the smallest bedroom. He shut the door, pointed his wand at the cat-flap that had been installed several years prior, and murmured, “Reparo.” Instantly the cat-flap disappeared and the door was restored to its normal form. Harry couldn’t believe the weight that had been relieved from his shoulders. He collapsed on the bed, patted the locket that was under his shirt, and took a final deep breath of relief before he fell immediately into a dreamless sleep.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jour de la marmotte (that's Groundhog Day to you tête-carrés)

I can't believe how insanely warm it is. This must be the warmest January I've ever lived. I mean, I thought it was bad when I had my first green Christmas in 1995 (Dartmouth, it froze rain Christmas Eve and was about 2°C), but this is just gross.
Mud and black gritty slush everywhere, treads beaten in the grayish-yellow grass where people have walked (which would normally be treacherously icy) and plows pushed snow lo, those many weeks ago, and it's just yucky. Feels like late March, not early February.

Betcha five bucks the Canadian counterparts of Wiarton Willy, Punxtawney Phil et al. will not see their shadows tomorrow.