Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day of Doom Kit

For those unsure of what to get me for Christmas... I found this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pants party

I was deleting old emails from my work email inbox when I came across this little gem...

From: Reed, Margaret
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 3:18 PM
Subject: Another maggie day.. also known as why you can laugh in my face tonite at practice

I was moving drawings today, large gigantic rolls of heavy paper drawings. And lo and behold, I was wearing one of my favorite pairs of work pants, a pair of nice broken in faded green chinos. (can we see where this is going?) They are about 2 years old and get worn to work at least once a week if not more and not just to do office work but out in the field also.
So here we are moving drawings and I bend down to pick up the last set and RRIIIIPPPPP! From the belt loops to the crotch exactly along the seam, my pants split. I am now wearing my fleece black jacket around my waist.
Thank you for listening.
Enjoy your day.
I am going to figure out how to get out the door without half my coat on without anyone noticing.

Just in case you actually thought that this bad luck thing was a recent development or was just related to costly events.

2007 was the year of the pants. Maybe I'll post the most embarassing moment to happen ever... only I don't really get embarassed...

Friday, December 12, 2008

PPA and the Philadelphia Police

I tried to keep my car break-in posts cop neutral.

But now, I have been driven to the brink. A few nights ago, I recieved a parking ticket for being parked in a No Parking zone for longer than 20 minutes. The ticket itself is not the issue, but let me provide the back story to how I ended up in a spot where I could be ticketed.

For those of you not in the 'iladelph', last week it was raining so hard that the ever resilient KM actually wanted a ride from Drexel so she wouldn't end up soaked in her suit. KM, who often rides without air conditioning in 100 degree weather in her car stuck in Philly traffic, didn't want to be that uncomfortable. That is how wet it was last week.

But I digress, after returning from said "Good Deed" of keeping others dry, there was no parking available near my house. There were parking spaces five blocks away, in fact, there was the exact parking space that I parked in last week where my car was broken into. I am currently boycotting that block. So after a legitimate 20 minutes spent loooking for parking in a five block radius and excluding the break-in block, I decided to risk parking in an no parking zone. I was not blocking the cross walk and was still a good 7 feet from the corner (in Philly it is a mandatory 15).

Because even my illegal spot was still a block and a half away, I found myself walking in draining streets because of people parked on sidewalks. I live on a one way sidestreet. When people park on the sidewalk (ILLEGAL) and on the roadside (LEGAL), many drivers find themselves smashing driver's side mirrors off in an attempt to get thru. Both BS and EB have been victim to this crime while parked LEGALLY on the very street they live. However, on the night in question, no one ticketed the illegal parkers on my street, nor the blue car blocking the fire hydrant several cars away from me.

The police chose my car and my car alone. I will pay this ticket because I due deserve it however, I believe I have become a target due to my tirade against the PPA/Parking Violations Branch.

I have been accused of receiving two tickets on the night of 11/5/08. I only received one. I paid it immediately because I was not 15' from the corner. It was a similar night on 11/5/08 as my most recent ticket however, while that ticket was $41, my most recent was $31..... Supposedly, I was also issued another seperate handwritten ticket. For anyone who lives in Philly, you know that while it is possible to get two tickets for the same violation over the course of a day, it is highly unlikely to receive two tickets for two seperate violations. They just tick off your misdeeds and you pay the fee that adds up. I called the Parking Violations branch to tell them that I had recieved an unpaid ticket letter in error, because....drumroll please.... I have no unpaid tickets. This is when I was told I was issued (AT THE SAME TIME??) another ticket. I have requested a copy of said ticket... still have not received it... no surprise there.

I was issued a court date to fight the still unreceived ticket and I think they put an APB out on my car to ticket it upon sight. Hence, the start of this post.

But my rage is for the following...

All of the tickets in this blog(HANDWRITTEN) were issued by police... less than a block from the street where there were cameras that saw the break-in.... where I can no longer park in good faith due to previously blogged break-in... the street where I sat and waited from 6:20AM to 8:34AM for a cop to show up to take my police report... where I had to be vicious to get the PPA lady to leave my car alone and not ticket it despite the fact that the back window was clearly smashed and that I was standing right there so I could show the police the damage and the location and the fact that there were cameras... where I would sit in a car and give my police report OVER THE PHONE because no officers were sent...

So this post also could have been called "Really good use of police time."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Office Food

This post is really less about bad luck than about how the generosity of others is going to cause me to not fit into my jeans.

Since the week of Thanksgiving, my office has received:
Three (3) Baskets containing the following:
-Cranberry bog frogs appx 14/box
-Guacamole Tortilla Chips, appx. 4 servings per bag (I "accidentally" ate a bag)
-Really Terrible Salsa (ok that is not the brand name but it is terrible) 1 jar
-Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites (not a chance I will eat that)
-Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies (4 can fit in my mouth at once) appx. 20/bag
-Pumpkin flavored white chocolate covered pretzels (I ate one whole bag myself)
-Bag of Cashews, appx 3 cups/bag
One tin containing the following:
-Brownies, Blondies, and Turtle Brownies each in layers of three and six layers deep in the tin, appx 54/tin (I ate three of them before lunch and we got them at 11:30)

I have no willpower.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lyme Disease

I do not have it. Let me get this out there right away.

However, if any of you are like my friend KM who lists ticks as one of her top items of fear, you might want to skip this one.

My friend from good old Historical Victorian Brookville, SM, recently suffered her own special bout with Karma. In a trip to Boston to visit a friend a month or so ago, SM and said friend decided to go skydiving. It is estimated that SM may have spent as much as five whole minutes in the grass upon landing from skydiving. She then wandered over and sat on a bench for an additional potential 30-40 minutes watching others. Under the bench, there was also grass type coverage albeit much shorter than the landing area. Over the next few days, she would suffer fevers and rashes and, thinking it was a spider bite, would visit a clinic where she would later learn she is now the proud parent of lyme disease. They caught it in time in that she is not suffering mental effects from the disease but she can look forward to doctor's visits in the future.

Now, I am not a statistician by any stretch of the word but I have to point out how slim the odds are for having spent 45 minutes in a grassy area in Boston and aquiring lyme disease.

Ticks are typically found in woodsy areas. So let's assume in a given area with a typical tick population that SM could encounter at most 11% of the population during her five minutes in high grass and at most another 8% in the low grass area. So SM could have been exposed to 19% of a given tick population in an area.

Ticks have a three feeding two year life cycle. Egg, larvae, and nymph each take several days. Googling "define several" results in: more than 2 or 3 but not more than many. Doing the same for many results in: 11 or more. Therefore, each cycle above is appx. 4-10 days. So for 1.4% of the tick's life it is a nypmh. Now, 70% of all lyme disease cases are from nymphs. So for the other 690 days of a tick's life, it only has a 30% chance of giving my friend lyme disease. As many as 50% of ticks in a high lyme disease area could carry the disease....

SO... 97% chance that a tick during it's lifetime is CAPABLE of carrying lyme disease and a contact rate of 9.5% due to the fact that only 50% of ALL ticks DO carry lyme disease. Now, 9.2% of ticks that she contacted do have lyme disease. Now take the above graph and the lesser likelihood of contraction in October and November coupled with the fact that 40% of 20,000 cases (the average annual number of lyme disease cases and divide by the weighted average. So with my office mate Matt doing some math on his sprinkler calculator...

Well, the odds are that SM is a victim of knowing me and receiving some of my bad karma.

Update on the break-in

In the shower this morning, I realized that they also made off with Armor-all wipes. A requirement for the glove compartment of any car that my sister owns, Armor-all should not be confused with windex wipes. Windex cleans glass, Armor-all protects leather and vinyl. I sure hope whoever stole my stuff isn't trying to make a quick buck cleaning windshields with those....

Thanks to everyone who has shown such compassion to my current plight. I am really in quite good spirits about the whole thing now, considering I find it semi-hilarious that the thieves went through all that effort to take Armor-all wipes. Special kudos to co-blogger who has failed to post anything brought over a lovely new tote complete with goodies to try to brghten my day.

(I borrowed my office mate's camera cord. They left my books and hat...)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

2 break-ins in less than two weeks

On Sunday, November 23rd at 10AM, I became the victim of a non-violent car entry. Someone in State College got into my car and tore it apart looking for items to thieve. Regretfully, having lived there allowed me to be lulled into a false feeling of security and I parked behind the placid street I called home for three years. Alas, said thieves found my Garmin, Bri's Sirius reciever, and my ipod player. I wasn't the only one. In fact, the policia who was so nice laughed at how similar his previous police report for the same street was to mine. Laughter when someone is in distress is a great and acquired skill. I feel bad for people. Maybe you get that skill when you get the badge.

On Thursday, December 4 at 6:15AM, I became the victim of a violent car entry. The picture above is indicative of the damage that I came upon as I wandered to my car carrying two bags of fruit, two pairs of shoes, a cup of cereal with a teaspoon measurer because we were out of spoons, my gym bag and keys in my mittened hands. I dropped it all in shock (except for the cereal which I never did eat) when I realized that for the second time in less than two weeks my car had been broken into. $200 later, I am now the proud owner of a newly glazed rear driver's side window. I would load an actual picture but of the damage and the great fix but I believe they may have my camera cord and battery charger. I can't remember if they were in the bag. But since these thieves apparently don't know the thieves from State College, they made off with only my trick or treat tote bag*, about seven purple pens, and my planner. My PLANNER, PEOPLE!! So if I don't come to see you when I said I would, please forgive me. I don't know where I am supposed to be.

*author's note: my bag was not cute christmas. it was dark khaki green with a jack o' lantern that said trick or treat. i cannot find one like it anywhere. even when i google it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

sticking point

This is my bathroom. I had the unholy desire to mop and thought I would start in the bathroom corner and work my way out. Now tiles floors are typically cold, so we have a few sticky backed rugs. Only, when I removed the first two rugs and went to pull up the last, it didn't come up. Mr. Clean with bleach soaking on all the plastic for two hours got it up....
See if I ever get the desire to mop again....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crashing down around me...

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get one million miles to the gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside." -Robert X Cringely

I really like this quote because it represents a common issue: the desire of the computer to blow up. I am not saying I am alone in this, just that I have been subjected to it often.

I will be the first to admit that computers don't make a whole lot of sense to me. My dad's computer, if you sign in as him, won't let him view anything with flash or embedded files but sign-in under guest and it works just fine. (??!!??)

But it seems odd that something we pay what would be 198 hours at minimum wage to purchase (aka a whole month's work) is allowed to blow up every few years and we don't throw a conniption about it.

For example, my friend KM to whom the laptop comprises one of her top five most cherished possessions is experiencing the implosion of yet another plastic box of microchips. This is at least her second to go since graduating college. Is she mad? Yes. But does she have any recourse? Not really. Computers aren't expected to live that long....

Take my computer experiences. In college, the server at school crashed, corrupting my ipod on which I was storing my thesis as I had stopped trusting computers and refused to save all of my thesis on any computer due to their propensity to crashing. The previous year I had spent many hours at the forensic lab, trying to coerce the tech team to extract the last four years of my life off the now oversized coaster formerly known as my ibook. The tech team told me I was lucky to have gotten four years out of it.

But even my distrust worked against me, as I found myself piecing my thesis together from various files on three different computer hard drives and back-up cds. I have still not finished my thesis book (I also had a broken hand at the time which is a whole separate post) and still have various pieces of thesis floating about my house in the form of zip disks (obsolete), cd's (scratchable), flash drives (very easy to lose) and a monster hard drive (most likely under-utilized because it kind of intimidates me).

My work computer, a hand me down from my boss because my old one was literally older than the amount of time I have been out of college, has suffered from a new hard drive, had two keys replaced, and about once every two months choosing to show me the blue screen of death followed by the black screen of non-commitance. "Maybe I'll turn back on, maybe I won't", the black screen taunts. "Maybe all your files will be gone or maybe I will work fine again for two more months."

This is an upgrade from the previous who was missing three keys, had had its hard drive replaced twice (once after a week of vacation where I didn't use it because I wasn't even there yet I was blamed for its demise), and who wouldn't allow you to use two office applications at the same time without requiring a restart to save what you had done. *General Note: restarts don't actually save the work you have done. You only luck out if it does that back-up save thing. It only took me twice to catch on to this little quirk...*

And now, with two keys missing (do we see a theme?), my personal laptop which I love, is starting to go. I have replaced the hard drive once. I have reformatted. I have even stopped asking it to edit photoshop files and have admitted that using imovie for a little seven minute movie will take days. I only pray that work and home don't go at the same time....I think I am addicted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lost wallets do return

In my first post I referenced a lost purse and a $600 expenditure just to get to a city to which I already had a ticket....

It all started on Thursday. As per typical, I was running late from moment one, due to traffic on the backroads I would have taken into the city from where I work. I found an alternate route and arrived to pick up my friend JS from the southland appx. 15 min. late. She infomed me that when she had tried to check-in online, it had not let her. I brushed this comment aside, instead choosing to drive in the wrong direction until she corrected me and we headed a mere 20 min. later than original estimates back towards the airport.

Let me make the following things clear. 1. It is not JS's fault we were late. 2. Sometimes I forget how to get places even when I have lived there for years. 3. The majority of streets in the southland are one way.

So after a mini-detour, we were speeding down to the airport and trying to find Expresspark, the parking lot of choice for many of our friends. Recognizing our now narrowing time window and our general lack of directions on the location of Expresspark, we proceeded to head to Economy parking. For those of you also finding yourself in unlucky situations, you will recognize that in lives like ours, if you are a teeny bit late, it is inevitable that there will be a detour or car accident to make you moderately late. If you are moderately late and trying to fly out of town, the parking lots will be full and send you to a satellite lot where the bus will pass you without explanation and you will now find yourself significantly late.

Significantly late means we were to fly at 3:20, board at 3, and therefore be thru security at 2:50. We are a fifteen to twenty minute ride away at this point and it is 2:18. We have not checked in for our flight. Panic begins to creep up my spine but eternal optimist that I am when it comes to impending doom, I ignore it and merrily chatter away to JS about the people we find ourselves waiting with.

Arriving at check-in, because we are significantly late, karma reveals that the line is actually COMPLETELY full to the start of the human fencing maze. JS, also suffering in the past from some horrific travel luck, points out the curbside check-in. A nice man checks us in and hands us papers that say, "Please report to gate and speak to first available agent."

We should have known then, but continuing with our glass half full, we will make it, maybe they want to upgrade us to first class mindset, we head thru security. For our first break in the travel game of death, the line at security isn't too bad. Too bad the line at the gate desk is.

2:46. I know it is 2:46 when we arrived because I texted the co-poster to this site about the fact that we had just heard that everyone in line ahead of us (over 31 people) was also bumped from the flight.

A mere 2 hours later, an irate JS and myself learned the sob stories of others in line: the family who's son, an 8 year old, was booked thru with a seat but the parents were not; the man who's daughter is getting married in the morning; the woman from Rhode Island who's flight to RI had been cancelled at 1PM and she was trying to get a seat on the next flight out, and so on....

Playing bad cop, good cop on the "customer service" aka "I didn't do this and there's nothing I can do to help you" supervisor, we determined that Southwest could get us to Orlando in time to see the end of the game we were to play in THE NEXT DAY. In line, 4 phone calls to other airlines and a mere $250 got us a whole new ticket with United.

We were also awarded $158 refund for our outbound Southwest flight and a $200 voucher bringing our grand total to $358 renumerated for our 2hr 15 minute heart attack and found ourselves with a mere 45 minutes to get to our new United flight.

We arrived at our United gate with relative little fanfare given our previous struggles, picking up SB on the way who happened to be on the same flight, made it thru another short security line, and we were on our way to Orlando.

Fast forward to Monday morning...

Everyone woke up, got into the car and remembered their things from the hotel. We found a gas station to fill up the rental car and despite incredibly poor signage, found the rental car return. We had plenty of time. Enough in fact, to check luggage instead of carrying it all on, to find Starbucks, to purchase a breakfast sandwich and eat it before the first boarding call was sounded. The flight was relatively enjoyable once I put the fear of God into the four year old who was kicking and dropping his tray table attached to my seat and he sat still long enough to fall asleep. In fact, when our bags all arrived within minutes of each other thru bag claim, I thought, "Maybe our bad travel luck was a fluke." JS commented that GR, another friend who was on our return flight must balance us out.

And then the economy parking return bus took 30 minutes to arrive. JS, always ready to call for information, was informed that the 10 minute bus window was in fact an estimate. (Note to PHL: Please don't lie to people. Tell them the bus could be as much as 30 minutes. We will be nicer when we call for information.)

Our creepy bus driver who was more than a little deaf finally dropped us off in the far east known as Satellite Parking and I reached into my pocket for my keys and wallet and.....

No wristlet. None. Not anywhere. Not when we searched my carry-on. Not when I emptied my pockets. Not when i called Orlando airport and Au Bon Pain and Southwest and Southwest Philadelphia. Nothing.

So I closed all my credit cards when I got home. And cried. $358 in the form of a travel voucher, gone. My wicked witch of the east business card holder gone. My drivers license with the photo of me looking like I have no hair due to an unfortunate choice of headband on picture day, gone.

Which brings me to yesterday when contemplating my lost wallet, I decided enough was enough. I was starting this blog to change my fate. So I did. And with my spare credit card which I keep seperate from my others due to the unlucky nature of my life and the fact that it is almost inevitable that wallets will go missing/be stolen/fall into sewer grates (all have happened in the past), I went shopping.

When I left the store, I noticed a voicemail. On the bus, I dialed the 1, entered my code and listened to a slightly confusing message that said....


So I did. $358 in the form of a travel voucher, there. My wicked witch of the east business card holder, there. My drivers license with the photo of me looking like I have no hair due to an unfortunate choice of headband on picture day, there.

So long story short, my good readers, this blog is already starting to reverse my fortune.

And always keep a spare credit card in case things get stolen/lost/dropped in a sewer grate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A foray into the unknown

Hello all....and welcome to my first foray into blogging. This blog is an attempt to clear my karma or chakras or really bad luck depending on your specific beliefs.

The blog itself is a small step towards normalacy or at least properly recording the various twists and turns which keep myself and those around me from finding themselves ever properly predicting what might happen next in our lives. The conception of the blog is rather boring, a joke between two friends about how my unlucky life seemed to be rubbing off on her. But its birth comes at a time when I appear to have rubbed off an someone I have just barely begun to know, causing us to become stuck at an airport buying yet another ticket to get to the place we already held a ticket for because we were turned away from our original ticketed flight. (In case you were wondering, we did get a flight voucher for the amount of our original outbound flight, which I proceeded to lose along with my entire purse before I left the blasted city I paid nearly $600 to get to in the first place.)

The term unlucky and upsetting, used by my college roommates to describe the various debaucles we found ourselves in, begins to scratch the surface of the events which will be described here.

There will be more than one narrator as I appear to have infected multiple people with my particular strain of crazy. But fear not, we will figure out a way to differentiate for those who care because otherwise it will seem like we are repeating ourselves as things that happen to me often seem to befall those around me shortly thereafter.

So welcome, good travelers, to a strange and scary place known as my life....