My holidays started off on Wednesday evening, when I left half an hour early from work. I got the vacuum cleaner fixed with a little hot glue and a belt change. It seems to work as well as it used to, but it is noticeably noisier.
Last Insane Shopping Day
Thursday we had a full plate. I slept late, and then we had our friend Dan and his new girlfriend Liegh over for a while. We went out to Beacon Street Grill near my house, and talked about the music industry (Dan's a band teacher for Ohio Middle Schools currently, and Liegh is a musical theory professor at Oregon State). Then we came back to see Widget go nuts and run around in circle for about 20-30 times. That was a lot funnier than I make it sound, but you had to be there. Later that evening, we went out with our friends Nate and Jen, who then unfolded this... saga of a Soap Opera Horror House that's been going on with his family. A lot of it is private, but suffice to say, it could compete with a convention fandom love triangle any day.
Then I went to the mall to get Christine gifts. Now, before you laugh and think I just kept putting it off, let me tell you why. When it was announced a few months ago that there would be huge layoffs in our company in early December, we had to put off spending any money on gifts until the layoffs were final, which didn't happen until two weeks ago. THEN we had to do our shopping. I relied a lot of wish lists this year, which I don't usually like doing for Christine because... it seems impersonal. I like to find rare and unique items for her, you know? Well, I placed a huge order through Amazon.com, and I made sure that I chose items that were in stock (some were backordered), would deliver in 2 days or less, and I chose the shopping that would arrive before Christmas (which was 10 days away, so I chose the 3-5 day option). This order also had her birthday gifts in it. Well, Amazon split the order up, because, and I am sure they said this somewhere and I didn't see it, two of the items were "allied merchants" or something, and were shipped separately. One was from Sharper Image, and another was from some obscure massage product company. Both tacked on their own shipping charges on top of what Amazon charged me, which was annoying in itself, but those gifts arrived 4 days later, so I guess that evened out (but the $5.99 item with a $11.95 shipping charge was annoying). So, after all that, Amazon sent me a notice the rest of my delivery would be shipped January 6th! WTF?? So I called them, and that number was really hard to find, let me tell you. On top of that, I was on hold for quite a long time before I got someone (who did speak English, thankfully), and she said that, yes, my shipment had been delayed because I was ordering from two warehouses in New Jersey and California, and due to some recent vendor shipping issues, all orders from those locations were delayed unless I had selected FedEx Priority or something, and even then there was no guarantee. Gaaaah! So now, half of Christine's gifts would not arrive until Jan 6th. I got a lot of apologies, told I wasn't the only one affected, and so on, but that didn't help much. In desperation, I placed an order with Newegg.com on Tuesday, thinking, "I can get her some gifts this way, but they'll arrive the week after."
Even though I ordered standard shipping, Newegg got my order to me Christmas Eve. About 40 hours from order to doorstep. Damn, they are good! So now, I had more than half of Christine's presents, but no "big gift," really. When I gave Christine her birthday presents (a massage kit with a vibrating neck thing, a weird vibrating head spider, and some knobby back massage thing), I explained the problem I had with Amazon.
Turns out she was having the same problem with my "big gift." She got it from a seller on Ebay, but this had its own complications (explained later). So we agreed that we could give each other pictures of things we meant to give her. But a lot of what I had would not leave her much, so that's why I went to the mall.
The mall wasn't so bad; I have seen much worse. CR and I literally went the entire length of Fair Oaks Mall about 6-7 times in the two hours we were there. I wanted to get Christine one of those "all-in-one" retro video game controllers, but the cart that sold them when CR, Chance, and I were there was gone. So I wanted to get Christine a Shiatsu massager, but Brookstone was out of them. I did find "Mario Party 5," which was a game she wanted. Finally, I manager to convince Brookstone to sell me their display model, which they did an a sizeable discount (25%), so that was a double bonus.
Friday, Christine went to West Virginia to get her sister Debbie. The plan ended up for me to stay home, and get the house ready, while she left early, drove to West VA, picked up Debbie, drove Debbie to see her biological father (whom she hadn't seen in 30 years), drove back home, picked me up so we could do some last minute food shopping. I mean, we played it down to the wire. So, while she was gone, I set up her present, which was setting up wireless in our home. I had studied how to do this securely, and spent most of Friday multi-tasking in helping CR make a gingerbread house (he did most of it himself, and did a pretty good job), cleaning the kitchen, setting up a wireless network, getting the Windows laptop hooked up, wrapping all my gifts to people, vacuuming around, picking up stuff, washing some clothes, and I pretty much only got "rest" while fooling with the WiFi. My biggest issue was getting my Linux laptop working, but I gave up quickly because it wasn't as important as everything else. Oh, and I upgraded the memory in our HP Laptop from 120mb to 632mb with a new 512mb SO DIMM. It makes the laptop run a lot faster, but I think the BIOS is having some issues with Shadow or something, I'll have to look into it.
Warning: the following paragraph is not for those of mild stomach who think kitty barf is disgusting. Artoo, who has no sense at all, kept trying to eat Christmas ribbon off of anything he could find. Normally, we don't use ribbon for that reason, but we received a box of gifts from a friend who used standard shiny ribbon. Artoo got caught trying to eat it twice, and I resealed the box so he couldn't get at it. Well, at some point, he tore into the box and ate a lot of ribbon. The bows were a mess of foamy spit and shredded tooth marks. And so the rest of the day, Artoo was barfing everywhere, I would say about 1-2 times an hour. And he just HAD to barf on Christine's side of the bed several times, on her pillow, on a pile of her clean clothes, and so on. On top of all the work I was already doing, I was cleaning up after the cat and doing laundry. First, the barf was chunky, which meant that Widget ate it. Gross, but handy. Then the barf was watery, then foamy and clear until he finally stopped a few hours later. I had to clean up after him, and when I hear the familiar "gack-unk gack-unk" of my stupid cat horking foamy ribbon parts, I tried to get him to put him in a crate, but then he'd run away under a bed, and I didn't have time to get some broom and fish him out. He knew what he did was wrong, but didn't want to be punished. Days later, I am still finding more barf that he barfed near blankets or dirty clothes, then covered it up. The litter box was certainly festive this weekend, too. Man, I am mad at that cat. I called him "ass-cat" all day.
The Wireless/RAM upgrade was going to be a surprise, but because I got distracted with Artoo barfing everywhere to hide the evidence well. I left all the wrappers and boxes in the shipping box it came in, and Christine found it while digging through boxes to find the gifts she had to wrap. Dammit! Ass-cat!
Christine got home with Debbie, and I went to the store to get last minute items for Christmas dinner. The store was a madhouse. I mean, the mall wasn't bad the day before, but the food store, an hour before closing on Christmas Eve, was filled with dumbass people who didn't so much as act openly rude as standing around, blocking traffic. I mean, every aisle had at least one person who parked their cart in the middle of the isle, and blocked traffic to one side while they surveyed the shelves of groceries like an art student ponders a new gallery in Soho. Many people would be on their cell phones, gabbing away about something non-grocery related (I can forgive, "Did you say you wanted candied yams or regular?" but not, "So next week, I'll get my hair done because Mitzy said that Alice told her that Susan was going to do the same thing on Monday, and I can't stand she has to be the first don't you know..." if you are blocking aisles). Also, the store seemed out of so many things, it looked like they were going out of business. I am assuming that was due to shipment schedules around the holidays and all, but it made for some creative shopping experiences. Lucky for me, they had almost everything I needed, except unsalted butter. Then I came home, aggravated by stupid people standing in aisles, futzed around on the web, and then went to sleep.
Saturday, I awoke with a TERRIBLE headache. I had run out of Zyrtec (which the pharmacy won't get back in until Monday), and my sinuses were killing me. My nose ran, my head throbbed. Ugh, not a nice way to wake up Christmas morning. Hot coffee, which sometimes helped, did not, and so I took some painkillers and hung around in a fog all morning. The gifts I got were good, which included two Lego sets, two tee-shirts, a headlamp, some chocolate, and other assorted goodies. My "gift that hasn't arrived yet" is a new Palm Pilot. Woo! CR got an X-Box system, which really wasn't a smart move financially, but I hope to get that back in our text return next year. Christine got a lot of the stuff off her Hot Topic Wish list, including a book, a pin-up girl calendar, and some assorted purses and bags.
Some gifts from friends of note:
- The Heare family, in a combined Christmas/Birthday gift to our family, got us $200 in gift certificates to Home Depot and Lowes. I was floored. This couldn't have been easy on their budget, and I was humbled by their generosity. They said it was to help get our bathroom redone, and that's what it's going to do, since I managed to fix the vacuum cleaner.
- Our friend April in Boston scored big points with the gifts that nailed our personalities. I am wearing mine right now, which shows the Family Guy's "Quahog 5 News Team" in a compromising position. CR got a shirt that says, "Note to self: Do Not Eat Pink Insulation; It is not cotton candy." Christine got some kick-ass socks (she's a sock collector).
- Matt (of Matt and Anya) got me a book on Ninjas. Not just any book, but this one. I had heard about this web site, and glossed over the first page, but the book is so hysterical, I can only read a few lines at a time. I haven't laughed so hard at tongue-in-cheek writing like this since The Gallery of Regrettable Food.
Bruce and Cheryl stopped by to say hello, and we chatted a bit. It was so good to see them. But after they left, my head hurt so bad despite the painkillers, I went back to bed and slept until about 6pm. Then I felt WAY better. I spent the rest of the evening being online, writing this blog, and playing some of CR's Xbox games with him.
Sunday was pretty uneventful, except for Matt and Anya coming over. We exchanged gifts, talked a lot, and then they broke to play cards while I worked on getting the WiFi to work on Linux. No luck yet.
I have the rest of the week off. I plan to to just bum around.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000690.html