Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I am completely losing my mind.

Since my last post, I have:

  • Gotten a new boss.

  • Packed and cleaned my old house.

  • Moved.

It has been nonstop. This past week seems like a year. And, no. I am not completely moved in yet. In fact, I haven’t even slept in the new house. This is due to a variety of reasons:

  • My new dresser hasn’t arrived (my clothes are still in piles strategically placed around the master bedroom).

  • The washer/dryer still aren’t functioning properly (must have clean sheets!).

  • I don’t have blinds (not that my new next door neighbors who routinely skinny dip would care much, but whatever).

  • Neither shower has a shower curtain or rod. Why I haven’t managed to purchase one (or two) of each of these by now completely baffles me. It has been on the TO-DO List every day since Thursday.

Plus, Haskell isn’t adjusting well to the new house. He doesn’t understand why all of his stuff is over there, and has developed an irrational fear of his own bed. This does not bode well.

Gypsy, on the other hand, couldn’t be more excited. Her only concern was where her bed was going to be located in proximity to mine. Once she was confirmed that it was, indeed, next to my Tempur-Pedic, all was right with the world.

And Alley? Yeah, she decided to chew on the house on Sunday. This did not go over well with either of her human parents. She’s still not sure why. I need to go buy some bitter apple.

In the interim, I’ve been staying at Trevor’s 400 square foot, efficiency apartment. For the record, 400 square feet is little tight for two people and three large dogs. I can’t turn around without running into Trevor or tripping over Haskell. And the no-yard thing means I have to actually walk my dogs first thing in the morning (something I am not accustomed to). It also complicates any middle-of-the-night canine potty breaks. Generally, I just open the back door and wait for whichever dog to finish his/her business. At the apartment complex, however, this simple task involves putting on shoes, finding a leash and going down a steep set of stairs. And, quite frankly, I am not that alert or coordinated in the middle of the night – especially after being awakened from a sound sleep by a squeaking dog at 4 AM.

Normally, it wouldn’t bother me that I am not completely settled yet. It has only been a few, short days since the move, after all. But on Thursday I am leaving for Indiana. It is just a short trip to visit a relative, but considering the fact that I cannot find an empty bag much less a clean, unwrinkled t-shirt, things are not looking so hot at the moment.

Gosh…I am sooooo tired. If I had a free second, I’d totally be napping.

Monday, May 18, 2009

'Bout Time...

The Toolsons (somehow) got temporary custody of their two kids about a week and a half ago.

Don’t worry. It didn’t last long.

Apparently, upon receiving Jet and Savannah, both Chase and Jane Doe decided to celebrate. By drinking. Excessively.

Then, they decided to drive somewhere, and loaded the babies into the back of the car.

They pealed out of the driveway and drove approximately 50 feet before being pulled over by two uniformed police officers in a clearly marked DPD squad car. This took place directly in front of Kyle's house.

To give you a better idea of exactly how far the Toolsons' traveled before the cops stopped them, please refer to illustration below:

Yeah. Not far. Not far at all.

Jane Doe was arrested for public intoxication and Chase was slapped with both a DWI and child endangerment.

Parents of the year, those two.

The good news in all of this is that the state now has permanent custody of both babies. I know foster care is no picnic, but it has to be better than living with dumb and dumber. At least this way Jet and Savannah have a chance at a better life.

My Question: For the cops to pull Chase and Jane over in front of Kyle’s house, they must have been parked and WAITING in front of mine. Were Chase and Jane so completely wasted that they didn’t notice a police car sitting on the curb 20 feet away? Because – WOW – talk about making it easy for the arresting officers.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dog Bowl 2009...

Every year, our dogs count down the days until they can run around off leash at Fair Park's Cotton Bowl. It is like Christmas and a year's worth of birthdays all rolled into one.

Here are some of my photos documenting the event:

Clothes are necessary if you a dog that easily sunburns.
And lacks body hair.

This guy just cracked me up:
Manly man with the least manly of dogs.

And, of course, "the kidz" had a blast.

Especially, Haskell
(who ran in circles like a moron for over an hour)...

Can't wait until next year!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wonders never cease...

The following things have occurred since 9 AM:

  • Someone accidentally cut the wires to the one AC unit that sorta, kinda still works on occasion. Did I mention that it is a sticky 92 degrees in Dallas today?

  • The one remaining staff toilet blew up and flooded our board room. This, undoubtedly, is connected to the situation we had with the same toilet yesterday. Some one on staff went in to use it, flushed and…well, it never stopped flushing. We called the City three times, but they didn’t consider a perpetually flushing toilet to be a problem.

    At some point during the night, the toilet stopped flushing, but started again this morning when someone used and flushed it again. The City was notified just like the day before. But until the thing finally started to overflow down into the board room, we could get no one to pay attention to it – even the construction workers onsite.

The only good news in all of this is that we now have several fans in the board room to help dry the carpet that was flooded on by our only toilet. With the lack of AC in the building, the air in the office area is hot and stagnate – except in the board room where the fans are creating this wonderful, cool breeze.

Who knew that being in a room recently flooded by an overflowing toilet could ever be a good thing...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On nonsense and monkey business...

For the past four years, I’ve had the following services bundled through AT&T:

  1. My home phone.

  2. Internet.

  3. DISH Network.

At the end of April, in preparation for my move, I went ahead and called AT&T with the intent of transferring all of my services to the new address.

However, once connected to a customer service representative, I was convinced to switch from DISH to U-Verse by the AT&T lady on the other end of the phone. Trevor had mentioned receiving a flyer advertising U-Verse in the mail, and seemed interested. But I wasn’t 100% persuaded until I spoke with the representative and crunched the numbers (it would be a little cheaper a month for a comparable U-Verse package to the one I’ve been enjoying with DISH).

The fact that I wouldn’t lose TV signal every time it rained was also a perk – although, I can’t say it really effected my decision that day on the phone. Honestly, I had no idea that a satellite wasn’t involved until the U-Verse dude was installing the system on Saturday and explained the wild, wild world of “Fiber Optics” to me. I know, I know: I’m an idiot.

But, as always, I digress.

Since I was transferring all of my services except DISH Network, the nice lady at AT&T offered to go ahead and cancel it for me. We went through the whole line of pre-cancellation questions: When to stop DISH service (April 30th since DISH bills monthly and the month was almost over); When to transfer my home phone number (May 8th); When to install U-Verse (May 9th); etc. She even explained the logistics of returning the DISH DVR: A self-addressed, pre-posted box would arrive in the next 10 days at my current address. All I would have to do was pack up the DVR and remote controls in the box provided, and mail it back to DISH within 30 days. After the DVR was returned, I would be good to go. My commitment to DISH would be over.

Or so I thought.

Today, I received my AT&T bill notification electronically through my bank. It was for an odd amount, so I opened the bill to investigate. After scrolling through it, I realized that two major things were wrong:

  1. My new address wasn’t listed on the bill.

  2. DISH had already charged me for programming from 5/1/2009 through 5/30/2009.

Hmmmmmm. Something was amiss.

Granted, I hadn’t received the prepaid box for the DVR yet, but I technically didn’t cancel the DISH account until April 29th – two weeks ago tomorrow. The 10 day period only expired over the weekend, so I really wasn’t that concerned (although, I HAD thought about it and decided I would call if the box didn’t arrive by Wednesday). But, still, box or no box, I shouldn’t be charged for another month of programming. That was definitely an error.

Figuring I might as well take care of the problem while I was thinking about it, I went ahead and called AT&T on my lunch break. I thought I could use the same phone call to inquire about the status of the DISH DVR return box.

After talking to four (4!) different AT&T representatives, I came to learn the following:

Despite the fact that AT&T bundles their services with DISH and AT&T can initiate service with DISH, AT&T cannot cancel DISH services. But – for whatever reason (none of which I fully understand) – many of the AT&T representatives apparently still offer to cancel your DISH services when you agree to make the switch from DISH to U-Verse. In reality, however, AT&T has no authority to do so and you have to go directly through DISH if you wish to cancel.

As a result of DISH not really being cancelled, AT&T could not fully change my address on my account because DISH was still listed at the current residence (instead of my new address with U-Verse). This means that I have had multiple addresses connected to a single account and phone line since the end of April, which – needless to say – is confusing. It also creates a billing problem because I’m being charged for the different addresses on the same account separately. I’m sure this will end up taking months to sort out – I have zero faith in large companies when it comes to fixing small errors of their own making.

And, despite cancelling the DISH service with AT&T (and having AT&T tell me that the DISH service was – indeed – cancelled), the DISH service was not cancelled and I have been charged for DISH programming for the month of May.

Grumble, grumble.

DISH, to their credit, feels bad for the confusion created by AT&T, and has offered to credit my account for most (but not all) of May.

What gets me is that AT&T can transfer me directly to DISH and vice versa. You would think that companies so closely tied to each other would be able to make the process a little easier. Especially since AT&T told me the exact same thing that DISH did about the process of returning my DVR (prepaid box will arrive in 10 days, must return DVR and remotes within 30 days, etc.). AT&T obviously knows how DISH operates. Am I missing something here? Why wouldn’t AT&T just tell me to contact DISH directly to cancel? Because I would have if I had not been told by AT&T that they had taken care of it. It honestly would not have made a difference, and AT&T could have transferred me to DISH if they wanted to save me the trouble of hanging up and dialing another number (which, again, would not have bothered me to do!). All I wanted was my DISH account to be cancelled. Being charged needlessly for a service I am no longer using does not make me happy! Talk about a problem that didn’t need to be a problem!

If I had to guess (and I really don’t know anything), I’d speculate that AT&T use to be able to cancel DISH in the not-so-distant past. But now that AT&T has started U-Verse and is actively marketing it to their customers, DISH no longer wants AT&T to have any authority over their active accounts (mainly to prevent AT&T from stealing their customers). AT&T still acts like they have the authority to cancel DISH’s accounts, though, so they can hook customers like me into changing to U-Verse by making it seem so simple (even though I'm already choosing their service over DISH and it makes no sense why they would make that process more complicated than necessary – and at my expense, too!). They even divulge word-for-word what DISH is going to tell you about returning the DVR. It all sounds very legitimate and easy (which should have been my first clue that something was very wrong!).

Of course, what AT&T fails to mention is that you really have to ASK to be transferred to DISH to actually cancel your account. And poor DISH ends up looking like the bad guy, because they’ve continued to charge you for a service that you supposedly canceled with AT&T.

I’m convinced it is a scam designed to undermine DISH by AT&T. Can I prove it? No, but something isn’t right over at AT&T. And I doubt I’m the first (or only!) person to be told by AT&T that they’ve canceled my DISH service when I switched to U-Verse. Especially, since I had to be transferred to four different people at AT&T before FINALLY being transferred to DISH (odd since it was ALWAYS DISH that I needed to talk to). Something smells fishy, no? All this is creating more work than necessary for absolutely no reason. Which maybe makes sense for a company so obviously run by a bunch of monkeys.

Or maybe I am just dealing with gross incompetence on a very human level? It’s possible. Very possible.

Either way, I might be returning to DISH sooner than I thought…

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy (LATE) Mother's Day...

From: Grammy Pammy
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 2:36 PM
To: Amy; Deals; Turd;
Subject: See! I TOLD you so...see video...

The link is really long so just CLICK HERE

Apparently, my mother had someone nominate her as “Mother of the Year”. Of course, it is totally fake, but I thought it was clever that you can enter in your mother’s name and it automatically sends an email to them with a link to a personalized video declaring them to be “Mother of the Year”. Too cute!

Now, if only one of her three children I thought to send it to her first! Ha! Poor Grammy Pammy!

Friday, May 08, 2009

If you give a duck a cookie...

Today was spent on a bus touring Dallas with a local group of realtors.

The tour was focused on neighborhoods in a specific part of town – an area many of the attendees were unfamiliar with. So, as part of the tour, we arranged for the tour attendees to have coffee and cookies next to a picturesque lake in a part of Dallas many of the realtors had never heard of, much less visited.

See? Pretty.

Around the lake was a wide array of water fowl – most of which had no fear of people. In fact, the second we got off the bus, most of the birds came waddling up to greet us. If you got too close, though, they backed up. Interested, but still wary of the visiting group of humans.

Hi. I'm a good duck.

And then there was this ballsy little ba$tard:

Feed me.

This particular duck was not about to wait around for a hand out. Oh, no, no. This duck waddled right up to the table and attempted to steal a cookie. So, I was called in to stand guard.

I felt bad for him, though. He was obviously starving (or, at least, HE thought he was). Plus, he was quacking up a storm and making it difficult for the attendees to listen to the spiel about the neighborhood. So, I broke off a tiny piece of my cookie and tossed it to him.

Well, my cookie crumb did nothing to curb his appetite.

Figuring he’d never take a piece of cookie directly out of my hand, I offered him a slightly bigger crumb. Without a moment’s hesitation, the duck plucked it from my palm.

Then, things got a little hairy.

Piggy duck would not be satisfied with the mere crumbs I was offering him. He wanted more cookie, and he wanted it NOW. Without warning the duck suddenly charged me with his wings out, squawking loudly, and BIT me on the leg.

Since I was not expecting to be attacked by a duck, I accidentally dropped the rest of my cookie on the ground. When I stooped to retrieve it, though, evil duck came at me again. Not wanting to be the victim of another waddle-by-pecking, I stepped back – officially surrendering my cookie to feathery little ba$tard.

And, for the record, ducks bite hard. Granted, they have no teeth, but those beaks act like pinchers. I have a bruise on my shin to prove it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Neurotic with a purpose (maybe)…

As part of our house contract, Trevor and I negotiated $6,500 off the price of the house to make some repairs – most of them water-related (gutter installation, adding dirt to parts of the backyard so the ground would slope away from the house, etc.). The house we purchased was built nearly six decades ago, and recently gutted and redone on the inside. But since I have a completely RATIONAL fear of water – especially after the great flood of 2006 – I wanted the water-related items to be taken care of ASAP.

Okay, okay – only I refer to the big rain that March as the great flood of 2006. But it is the water event that broke the White Rock spillway and when I took THESE pictures.

It is also when my fear of water (think: drainage) was first realized.

If I posted about this back in 2006, I cannot find it. This is strange because the events of that spring irritated me to a whole new level – the kind of thing I usually memorialize on my blog. Sigh…whatever.

Anyway, that spring, the City of Dallas was replacing the 80 year old water mains that ran beneath the streets of my current neighborhood. The project was taking months to complete, and was affecting both the streets and the alleyways behind the houses.

Although the water main replacement was annoying, I understood why it needed to be done and appreciated the City’s attention to the problem. That is, until they started to work in the alleyway directly behind my house, and things got a little hairy.

Apparently, something major was going on pipe-wise behind my house, because the work was focused there for weeks – much longer than any other house on my block. And since the alleyway is a relatively narrow space and tractors were involved, it wasn’t long before my fence started to suffer the consequences of being located on the perimeter of a construction zone. Granted, the wood fence was nearing the end of it’s life, but – at the time – it was still in fairly decent shape. The worst of the boards had been replaced prior to my moving in, and the fence was sturdy enough to withstand my dogs (Gypsy Kitty and Dolly at the time) jumping on it during their daily squirrel hunts.

A couple of weeks after the work commenced in my alleyway, I came home to discover a five foot section of my fence completely collapsed. The dogs had been left in the backyard that day, and easily could have escaped through the giant opening. Luckily, both dogs stayed put because they were too scared of the noisy tractor that had been responsible for the damage in the first place. Thank goodness for wimpy canines, huh?!

I signaled to the tractor driver through the gaping hole in the fence, and he stopped what he was doing, turned off the tractor’s engine and came over to talk to me. He apologized for knocking down the section of fence, and offered to shore it up with the dental floss he kept in the glove compartment of his pickup truck. Yes, you read correctly: Dental Floss. No, he was not kidding.


Since I had little faith that dental floss would hold a very heavy section of wood fence together for any amount of time, I called the foreman in charge of the project. After a long argument about whether or not his workers were responsible for the damage or not (according to him, my fence was just old and it was nothing more than a coincidence that it chose to fall apart when work was being done nearby. That is, until I reminded him that the tractor driver had already admitted to knocking it down), he agreed to add a couple of support beams to hold the fence upright so the dogs wouldn’t be able to get out. By no means was this a permanent solution. It was, however, the best I was going to get from of the City of Dallas.

After the fence had been shored up, the work continued in the alleyway. To access the pipes, the workers had to dig a large hole in the ground. The excavated dirt was placed against the entire length of my fence.

Then, the great flood of 2006 happened.

For over 80 years (the house I’ve been renting was built in 1925), the backyard had sloped away from the house and into the alleyway. However, when the great flood occurred, the dirt from the water main project in the alley had created a makeshift dam. The water in my backyard had no where to drain, and built up like a lake until it finally changed direction (literately changing the slope of the yard) and flowed underneath the house.


Long story short: at the conclusion of the water main project, my landlord was forced to not only replace the fence but install French drains and a sump pump as well. Literately thousands and thousands of dollars of repairs thanks to the City of Dallas. Of course, the City never took responsibility for any of it. According to them, they cannot be held liable for acts of God. The dirt piled up against my broken fence didn’t help, though.

Anyway, fast forward to 2009: The new house has some minor drainage issues, which is why we asked the sellers to come down on the price. Gutters came highly recommended from the inspector – especially in one place between the study and the master bedroom. The roof above is kind of in sections which come together and meet at this particular point. When it rains, the water gets channeled down the roof to this corner and shoots off (in dramatic waterfall fashion) onto the ground below. Over the 55+ years since the house was built, heavy rains have created a low point in the lawn at this spot, and some of the water had recently started going underneath the house.

Not good.

Because I am neurotic, we paid a structural engineer to come over and assess the problem during our option period. I wanted to make sure that the water that HAD gotten underneath the house had not caused any irreversible damage to the house or it’s foundation. It hadn’t – although the structural engineer echoed the inspector’s gutter and drainage recommendations.

So far, this spring has been fairly dry. Normally, March-June is the rainy season for Dallas, followed by July and August which are essentially hot, dry and sunny. I still wanted the gutters up as soon as possible, though. I don’t mess around with water and drainage issues. Water under a house is nothing to joke about. This was one problem I planned to nip in the bud as quickly as possible.

We closed on Thursday afternoon, and Trevor started scheduling workers first thing on Friday morning. The gutter guy was scheduled for Monday.

And Saturday? Yeah, we had a major rain event here in Big D. Not as bad as the great flood of 2006, mind you, but it still made headlines. And for most of it, Trevor and I could do nothing but sit in our empty, new house and watch the water shoot off the roof in torrents and form a lake in the low place between the study and master bedroom.

Finally, I recommended that Trevor take our 30 gallon, plastic trash bin out and place it underneath to catch some of the roof runoff. But it was raining so hard that the entire bin would fill up approximately every three or four minutes. Trevor and I were both soaked, but felt like we were at least doing something proactive. After all, the water collected in the bin was water that wasn’t destined to go underneath the house.

Later that night and into Sunday morning, it continued to storm on and off in the metroplex. I barely slept a wink. With every crack of thunder, I imagined the gallons of water collecting in the low area and forming a lake. It was awful.

Luckily, Sunday afternoon was dry, as was Monday. But yesterday’s forecast called for more severe storms, hail and heavy downpours. This time we were prepared, however. The gutters were up, and I was looking forward to seeing them in action. And I would have…if it had rained.

As my luck would have it, now that my gutters are up and ready to go, no water is falling from the sky. But during the first 48 hours of home ownership – before the gutter guy could make it to our house – we had a major rain event.

See how I am cursed?!

On the bright side, Saturday’s rain will hopefully be the last major one that will affect us without a system in place to move the water away from the foundation (knock on wood!). The gutters are good to go, and the guys scheduled to add dirt to the low spot between the study and master bedroom (as well as install drains and pipes that will flow underneath the backyard directly to the alley) are coming in the next two weeks. Even if it does storm between now and the drain installation, the gutters will work to move most of the water away from the problem area between the study and master bedroom. So, even though we aren’t technically out of the woods, yet, the trees are thinning out and I can see the sunlight.

After all the improvements are complete (including our new wood fence and sprinkler system), Trevor and I will be ready to move in to our new abode. I’m convinced that the dry summer season will start the second all of our water-related repairs have been completed, but at least we will be good the next time flooding rains pop up in our area.

My other big phobia (TERMITES!) has also been addressed. Since it is swarm season, I made sure the Terminix guy was able to initiate service on Saturday. Trevor mocked me as usual, but I had trouble sleeping both Thursday and Friday night because I had convinced myself that the little wood eaters had discovered my newly purchased pier and beam house and found it irresistible. My terror was only heightened when – at closing - our realtor told us that another one of her clients had their new house fall victim to a swarm between the inspection and their closing date. This nearly did me in.

Luckily, when the Terminix guy called to schedule my inspection and give me a bid for service, he took pity on me and worked me in on Saturday afternoon. This, of course, meant that he was out there drawing up plans in the pouring rain. They will be treating the house this weekend, but I wrote a check on Saturday to ensure that – even if a swarm shows up this afternoon – I am covered by the Terminix guarantee.

Other things already done to the house: fresh paint in the bedrooms, newly grounded plugs installed, a hole in the ceiling has been repaired, an overflow pipe and drain added to the heating/cooling system (again with the water!), an extra roof support beam fitted in the attic, etc. Trevor and I have also purchased bookshelves for the study and a refrigerator for the kitchen.

Improvements pending: a guy is coming out to measure for our storm doors this weekend. Exterior drain installation, sprinklers, wood fence, dog run, etc. are scheduled to be completed before the end of the month. Security system should be installed next week.

If there is enough money left in the budget at the end of this month, I’d really like to have a radiant barrier installed in the attic. Whether or not we are able to do this will depend on if our next door neighbor chips in for the part of the fence that borders his property. If not, it will be on my list for the future.

Now, if I can only decide on a moving company…

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On exploding toilets and other such nonsense...

Thanks to the museum renovation, we are down to one toilet in the entire building that the staff can still use. This really isn’t that big of a deal since only four of us office out of the museum on a regular basis.

Still, a working toilet is an important thing. So, when the construction workers turned off the water earlier this morning, it was rather disconcerting (we had no warning, and several of the staffers – myself included – had over indulged on caffeine). The workers promised the lack of water was only temporary, however, and most of us were confident in our “holding” capabilities.

Around lunchtime, the workers turned the water back on, and it wasn’t long after that our toilet was back in use. Three of my coworkers formed a line in order of urgency, and the first one went in to use the facility. A few minutes later, there was a flush followed by a scream. Apparently, air had backed up in the water line and the result was rather explosive.

The workers assessed the situation and theorized that the “explosions” would ease up after a flush or two, but so far the toilet continues to blow up after every use. Flushing is now a calculated affair: you have to push the handle and quickly flee the area to avoid getting nasty water all over you.

Thankfully, U-verse is scheduled to hook up everything at the new house on Saturday, so I’ll have the luxury of working from home starting next week. Until then, though, life is very interesting. I’m refusing to wear anything nicer than jeans to work unless I absolutely have to – especially now that we have explosive toilets, limited AC and I have to walk through a maze of ladders, black plastic, welding fumes and sawdust just to get to my office.

Le sigh…

He's BAAAaaack!

Remember the confused mockingbird from a couple of years ago? Well, he’s back. Either that or his equally as confused offspring have returned to their father’s old digs (i.e. the pecan tree in my front yard). The d*mn bird starts singing around 2 AM at the top of his little birdie lungs, and will not shut up. Of course, none of the lady mockingbirds in the area are responding, because they keep normal daytime hours (something dumba$$ mockingbird keeps missing, but whatever).

Apparently, I’m not the only one that is annoyed. At six o’clock this morning, I saw three of the neighborhood cats sitting in my driveway. Their heads were all pointed in the direction of the noisemaker in the tree; tails silently swishing back and forth as they planned the obnoxious bird’s demise. Felines don’t take to kindly to having their sleep interrupted either. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly hoping they will succeed in shutting up the dumba$$ mockingbird. That is one bird that needs to be removed from the gene pool for good.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Oh-Holy Commitment, Batman...

Yesterday was a big day.

Trevor and I bought our first home AND opened our first joint checking account.

Somehow I made it through everything without passing out or throwing up (a big deal considering how commitment phobic I am and all).

Twenty-four hours later, and I my head is still spinning...