Friday, December 25, 2009

I found the Christmas's in a Kahlua bottle!

I know that the updates to this blog have been more spasmodic than an epileptic gibbon, but as I've mentioned before, my computer appears to be made of Lego bits, chicken wire, bits of ten-year-old bubble gum, and Bill Gates' spit. It's actually been behaving relatively well ("relatively" being a relative term...obvious explanation is obvious) and allowing me to get online long enough to pay bills, update my Facebook status, and milk my goats in Farmville before deciding I've had enough of teh internetz for one day and imploding in a puff of carbon smoke and peevishness. It hasn't allowed me to do much here, and let's be honest, when I do manage to get online for more than an hour or two, I haven't felt inclined to try to fight it long enough to do much here, anyway. To put it in gamer's terms, it's like fighting your way through hordes of minions for an hour with no save points and few health items or ammo, getting to the boss, sitting through the interminable 15-minute preemptive cut-scene and then immediately getting your ass blown to Mars the second it ends, sending you right back to the start of the level with only one-quarter of a health bar, one health pack left and all of the re-spawning minions you killed the first time through come right back to life to chew your nipples off. In layman's terms, it's an exercise in exquisite frustration and when you finally reach the end of it, you're left staring at a big empty screen begging for attention, and the only logical reaction is "what's the fucking point?"

Well, I'll tell you what the fucking point's you. Yes, you. All of you who read this blog (all three of you) and have been so supportive through my mechanical trials and tribulations have literally reduced me to tears today. And on Christmas Day of all days, you creeps!! HA, I kid! In all seriousness, I received a number of Christmas cards over the last week, all labeled "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY! I MEAN IT!!", and I must confess, I was getting rather nervous. I had absolutely no idea why so many people would be so adamant that I not open their cards until a certain day and was sure that it was a wide-spread practical joke, that I was going to open them all and they'd each have something in them that would sproing out at me - I dunno, like paper snakes, snowmen, radioactive kittens, whatever - and thoroughly make me crap my Christmas pants. However, it turns out that I was wrong and that I'm a sick bastard for even thinking such a thing, because I have the BEST FRIENDS EVAR!

This is not a claim I make lightly as I'm sure a lot of people out there have some seriously awesome friends, but my friends rallied around me today and donated to my Please-God-Let-Me-Have-A-Computer-That's-Not-A-Titanic-Piece-of-Dog-Turd Fund and, as a result, have helped me get that much closer to my dream of owning a Mac Mini!! If you were all in the same room with me right now, I'd hug and kiss each and every one of you...then tell you to get the hell out , you perverts, since I'm sitting here in nothing but a robe. But the hugs and kisses still stand -- I cannot thank you all enough for your thoughtfulness, I feel so blessed today. I would just like to state for the record that my whining about my computer problems was *not*, in fact, a plea for money (if it was, I'd just come right out and beg), and I promise I won't spend this money on hookers and blow...much. (I'm kidding, I'm kidding, not the face!!)

Merry Christmas, everyone, to you and yours! May this holiday season find you all in good places with good people, may you be surrounded with love, may you all be happy and healthy and grateful for what you have...because I most certainly am. I love you guys, truly. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, you have no idea what this means to me...excuse me...I need a hanky... <3>

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now we honour the Necronomicon!

Note: My computer is a bee-yotch. It's taken me three days to get this post done and posted -- at least, I HOPE it posts properly, or I'm gonna cry. Point being, the weekend I'm talking about was the weekend of October 24-25th, not *this* past weekend...oy. I have a number of posts that still need to be completed, but it's taking me forever to get them done so I can post them. I had intended to embed a video for the Splatter Zone, but the link will have to do, since I'm having issues just getting a picture posted here. Please bear with me during the insanity.

This past weekend was my birthday (no, I won't tell you which one) so I decided to treat myself, despite being broker than I have been in a very, very long time. I've been a big fan of Army of Darkness (sorry, can't bring myself to watch the first two Evil Deads) for years, and Bruce "The Chin" Campbell is a freaking god. So when I heard about a year ago that there was a musical based on the Evil Dead movies, my little fangirl heart flipped in ecstasy! The Bruce singing while tearing zombies and demons a new cornhole?? I'm so there! :D Okay, so Campbell isn't actually in it, but the actors they get to perform these roles are all troopers, lemme tellya!

I'd been searching online for about two months to see if it was or ever would be coming to BC and was heartsick to discover that it had not and there didn't appear to be any plans for it. "sniff"...


Ask and ye shall receive! Just as I had given up hope, the heavens heard my worthless prayers and sent the touring company of Evil Dead: the Musical to Vancouver! WOOT! I was probably one of the first hundred to buy tickets. :) Despite that, I *still* didn't get seats in the Splatter Zone, more's the pity... What's that? You don't know what the Splatter Zone is? Oh, my dear friends, allow me to enlighten you...

Now, this example is a bit extreme...the show I saw didn't have an extra actually standing on stage throwing blood everywhere. However, the demons, after getting slashed apart by Ash, *did* make their way into the first three rows and tossed bags of blood all over the audience. "sigh" coulda been me... Ah, well, I WAS close enough that, during the finale, I got two teeny little droplets on my forehead, which totally made me squee like the fangirl I am. Unfortunately, I had to eventually wash them off, so it was a bittersweet moment, really...

Still, HELL YEAH!! Goddamn, was that show awesome! Don't let the name of it put you off, it's not only played for hilarious laughs, they completely turn the "gore" effects on their head. Not for one second can you take this play seriously, no matter how hard you try. There are only six people in the cast, which means everyone has to do at least double-duty, sometimes triple-duty. This is no more apparent than in the final scene of the play (and I'm not spoiling anything here...if you've watched Army of Darkness, you'll know how it ends), when the stage is slick with fake blood, the actors are totally covered in it and their costumes and makeup are completely destroyed. The next scene takes place with Ash telling shoppers at S-Mart the story...and the actors haven't even attempted to clean themselves up. Seriously, they're acting as completely different characters and yet still covered in gore, with the powder from their masks still sticking to their faces, pretending that nothing is out of the ordinary! If that doesn't convince you that their tongues are permanently placed in their cheeks, nothing will! XD

After that, anything that the big city could offer was kind of a letdown, even though I did have an awesome time wandering all over it the next day. I even managed to pick up a piece for my Halloween costume, so that rocked pretty hard in and of itself. Still, October has been an extremely expensive month, so I'm broker than broken broke things...whatever... Looks like my need for a new 'puter is going to have to go on the back burner for even longer than I'd originally expected. Hmmm...maybe I can try a bake sale or something...think anyone would be interested in Necronomicookies?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When life is at its darkest...your power is probably out

So, I'm not really having a good week... I know I promised that I would have an entry or two up a while ago, but I've been having computer issues. My computer is only about three years old, but it's ready for the old-age home. It keeps crashing, my internet can't be sustained for longer than 10-20 minutes at a time, and I can't even keep Word going for very long so I can do some writing before it freezes up. I've tried all the usual tricks and gotten tips from others for new ones: I've re-formatted, defragged, scrubbed, scanned, searched, backed up and deleted everything I can think of to get this piece of crap to work. The last two weeks, it's been going downhill faster than a fat kid down a mountain, and the last two nights I've been up until the wee hours (very, VERY wee) trying to keep the damn thing from exploding. I have no Outlook anymore (well, I have it sporadically), and internet keeps giving me the finger. I want to punch everyone at Dell and Microsoft in the SOUL!

So I'm saving for a Mac. Yes, a Mac. I actually wanted a Mac when I went shopping for my present computer, but they didn't have the Intel core at the time, and I've been a PC baby for so long, I just couldn't bear the thought of having to get everything I owned all over again, only Mac-compatible. But now the good ol' Mac is able to take pretty much anything that Microsoft can dish out, has far less virus issues, is now cheaper (seriously, they increased the RAM to minimum of 2G and cut $80 off the price just over the last two days...fuck yeah), and I'm totally in love with the iMovie and GarageBand programs. WANT! Looking at a Mac Mini is like looking at the Holy Grail right now. Unfortunately, it's also like looking at about $1000 that I don't have. So, I'm writing this post on my work computer during my lunch break, and it looks like it may be quite a while longer before I end up posting any of my saved entries. Sorry, guys, I can't help it if my computer sucks. :(

Anyone have a thousand bucks I can borrow?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Holy crap, it's been a while!!

Omifreakinggod, it's been almost a month since I last posted, and so much has happened, I'm at a loss as to where to start...

Firstly, I'd like to apologize for my absence but, in my defense, part of it was inflicted upon me by outside forces. I've actually got about half a dozen entries saved in skeletal form and have worked on them sporadically, but I haven't gotten any of them polished enough to post. I'm working on it!! There's a long weekend coming up so I'm planning on getting some writing/blogging time in and will hopefully have an entry (or two) up by Monday.

Ah, Thanksgiving...I love turkey time. I never think to make turkey at any other time of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas, not sure why. Must suck to be a turkey in the fall, though, watching all your family and friends being slaughtered left and right... Anyway, I'm alone this Thanksgiving (meh), so I'm hoping to get some stuff done and indulge in some truly epic naps. I'll keep ya posted. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

No power corrupts absolutely, Part I

This was originally written on September 20th, but since I had no power, I was only able to work on it in fits and starts. I wrote the bulk of it that weekend, and then after I finally got my power back on (spoiler alert!), I've had nothing but issues with my computer. I've been busy as heck, and haven't really felt like rehashing the Week of Hell, either, but I figured I should probably finally get this puppy up and posted. Enjoy...I guess.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to discuss the trials and travails of the modern woman. We will discuss in-depth how we, as a society, have come to rely on the modern conveniences that our forefathers and foremothers could only dream of having. We will dissect the affects of modern technology as we know it, i.e., running water, electricity, internet, etc., and how these technologies have shaped our world.
Specifically, we are going to discuss what happens when a modern woman is suddenly stripped of her modern technologies. Spoiler alert: it sucks.

In general, this has not been a good week. I'm sure that there are many, many people out there who have had a much tougher week than I. I do not begrudge those people who have had worse luck than I this week their entitlement to a little bitching. By all means, miserable people, bitch away. Because I'm sure going to.

So the big news this week is that I had my power cut off. The really frustrating part is that it all could have been prevented if people had just communicated with me and with each other. I thought the whole reason why we had land lines, cell phones, fax machines, instant messaging, text messaging, answering services, and e-mail was to facilitate communication between all members of the entire human race and to make our lives easier. Funnily enough, these wonderful devices fail to serve their purpose when people DON'T USE THEM.

I moved into my new apartment the end of April/beginning of May of this year. The circumstances behind my move are a bit complicated, so I'll just say that my move coincided with yet another week-long run of bad luck that is suitable for a blog post all on its own. I'll leave that story for now and point out that the landlords of my new place are the most disorganized people I think I've ever met. And that's pretty impressive, considering how incredibly disorganized I am. They also seem to be masters of the classic bait-and-switch routine: when I was deciding between my present apartment and another place, a basement suite, to move into, the only reason I decided not to take the basement suite was because the ceiling was too low, only 6'3" high. Everything else about it was perfect -- it was on the street right behind my old place (easy to move, across from my bank, close to the bus stop), had two bedrooms, was spacious, had a yard and a parking spot for me (should I ever break down and get a car), had a laundry room just upstairs, and was really quiet, despite the lady above me having a screaming baby. Seriously, the kid was screaming away and I could barely hear it. Awesome. But the low ceiling...could I live with a low ceiling? Could I stand living in this ideal little suite, with all this space and convenience when I was able to touch the ceiling with my hands flat? Looking on it now, this was a really stupid question...of course I could!! But, unfortunately, I was tricked. When I went to look at my present apartment, the manager introduced me to half a dozen people who lived in the building and they were extremely nice, very polite and excited to have a new person in the neighbourhood. I have not seen any of these people in or around the building since. Where the hell did they go? Did they move out the same weekend I moved in? Are they all vampires and can't go out during the day? I suspect they were plants, hired to convince me what a great building this was and how I'd be a freaking idiot to not move in that very second.

Then I checked out the apartment and they had just laid down new carpet and painted the walls. Very nice. I went out onto the deck and, despite the road being right there, it was fairly quiet. Plus, it was $100 less than the basement suite. SOLD! After I moved in, I realized that the "quiet" street I thought I was facing was actually the main thoroughfare through the neighbourhood. Trucks gearing down, buses gearing up, ambulances, fire trucks, street sweepers, you name it, they come down that street. Plus, I had completely forgotten that there was a bar just a block up from the building, so every Friday and Saturday night, I have drunken assholes wandering past my building at 3am, stumbling home and singing "It's Raining Men" at the top of their lungs. What is it about alcohol that makes every single person who imbibes it think that they're the next American Idol? Or that anyone else actually wants to hear them? So, yet again, I'm thinking that this as another bait-and-switch; the managers must have cordoned off the street for the twenty minutes I was wandering through the building and inspecting the apartment in order to convince me that it was a nice, quiet area.

Oh, and another boon to basement suite? Everything was included, with the exception of internet, cable and phone. I thought this was a moot point at the time, because I was under the impression that this was the case with my apartment. This week, I discovered, to my chagrin, that I was mistaken in that impression. Fuck.

I went to work on Thursday like usual (sorry folks, no amusing bus stories this week -- the transit system seems to be the only one in the city this week that hasn't decided to screw me over), did my job like usual, and then went to a friend's for some good ol' Dungeons and Dragons. A group of us have just started getting together to play, so this was the first time we were actually able to do a mission...well, part of one, anyway. My character kicks ass, by the way. She's a Rogue half-elf that I've named Darma Shadowrunner, and she's awesome. Unfortunately, I can only seem to roll threes, so she's been pretty much sucking at everything except picking locks. I shall redeem her one day, mark my words...where the hell was I? Oh yeah, getting screwed over...

So, after the game, I get home at around 10:30pm and I'm tired and cranky and just want to check up on teh internetz before going to bed. I greet my mewing cats and flick the light switch. Nothing. Dammit, the lightbulb must've burned out. Okay, flick on the bathroom light. Still nothing. The hell? I close the front door and realize that it's awfully dark and quiet in here... My cats are meowing for dinner and wrapping around my legs, so I'm stumbling around in the dark trying to get to the window to open the curtains and let the light of the streetlamp in so I can see somewhat. I do pretty good, I only step on them twice before I reach the window. I open the curtains and behold! Murky light. Whoopedy doo. I manage to locate my wind-up flashlight and some matches and starting lighting candles like a mofo. After I've gotten the place lit up like a Hollywood bathroom (seriously, have you ever noticed how Hollywood movies have five hundred candles lit around every bathroom set? I guess it's supposed to add atmosphere and be romantic, but all I can think of is how annoying it's going to be to blow them all out when you're done. Plus, the smoke from blowing out all those candles will no doubt set off the smoke detector. Very romantic.), I sit back to evaluate my situation. Okay, the power can't be out all over the building, because the lights were on in the lobby and I saw lights on in a number of the apartments as I came in. So maybe it's just my floor. I head over to my neighbour across the hall and knock on her door. As soon as she opens the door, I see lights blazing and hear the TV going. Okay, strike that idea. I tell her what's going on and she says she's had power all day, so I thank her and decide to try someone on the same side of the hall as me. I knock on a couple of doors, but nobody answers. I suddenly see a guy exit one of the apartments two doors down from me and I run over to him, thoroughly making him nervous.

"Do you have power?" I ask him breathlessly. His expression implies that he would totally Mace me right now if he had any handy, but he tells me he does. "Oh," I respond, "I don't. I'm just trying to find out if anyone else has their power out, too." "You should call BC Hydro," he mutters over his shoulder as he scurries down the hallway and darts into the elevator.

Right. BC Hydro. Good idea. Only it's not. See, to compound my infernal luck, my phone had been dying all day, but I hadn't charged it so that it would run out completely. I try to do that every fourth or fifth charge so that my phone gets a completely full charge in order to not screw around with the battery any more than necessary. As a result, my phone was at about 2% battery power. Enough for maybe ten minutes of calls. Freaking awesome.

Okay, we can do this... Head back to the apartment, grab my wind-up flashlight and the phone book, and we're going to have a chat with BC Hydro. An aside: I hate phone trees. You know what I'm talking about. Those stupid "for such-and-such an option, press 1" pre-recorded message dealies that you have to contend with every single time you call any kind of business. I hate them with a burning passion that I usually reserve for fanboys and Kim Basinger. They're annoying and time-consuming and I honestly don't see how they actually help you to reach who you need to speak to. I specifically call the BC Hydro Power Outage hotline, and am asked if I want English or French, which is a fair enough question. But then it asks me if I'm a residential or business customer. What the hell's the difference?! If your power is out, does it matter if it's in a residence or a business?? Both situations are pretty serious! Yes, your business is affected when you don't have power, and it's probably not good for your computers, but most homes have computers, as well! Not to mention the fridge, freezer, stove and/or microwave, and hot water pump that most homes have -- they're pretty important in their own rights. So who cares if it's a business or a residence? Are the hookups for either one really all that different? Do electricians have to go to a separate Residence Electrician school than the Business Electricians? Sorry, I'm ranting, but it's stupid and it pisses me off. Plus, having to sit through that phone tree and push another button and wait to be connected to the next phone tree is wasting valuable battery time! Let's get a move on!

A young man finally answers the phone, identifies himself as David and asks if he can do anything. I take a deep breath... "I'm really sorry but my phone is about to die so I have to talk fast my power is out and I seem to be the only one in the building with no power is there any chance you can check and see if there are any isolated power outages in my area?" Phew. There's a pause for a second on the other end, and I start to feel sweat beading on my forehead...oh please oh please oh please do NOT make me repeat that, my battery is about to DIE! Then I hear David's voice and my heart starts back up again: "I'm sorry, ma'am, but if your unit is the only one in the building without power, it's an issue for the building manager. If there were a power outage in your area, it would affect the whole building, not just one unit." I sigh. "Oh okay thank you very much I'll see if I can track them down goodbye."

I hang up and ponder the situation. I have only two phone numbers for the building managers, and the problem here is that they pulled another bait-and-switch on me. See, two months after I moved in and was assured that the couple who'd shown me the apartment were the building owner's daughter and son-in-law, and therefore had a vested interest in keeping the building up to par, they passed the job onto another couple who lives in the building. Fine and dandy, except that I don't know their fucking phone number. Dammit! Just one thing, one little thing, can I not have one little thing go right tonight?? What the hell did I ever do you, Cosmos, seriously?!?! Screw it, I'm calling the original odd-job couple!

I called the cell number I had for them and got her answering machine, so here we go again, deep breath... "Hi this is Kelly V in apartment 404 my power is out and I'm the only one in the building with no power BC Hydro says they can't help me and my cell phone's battery is about to die so I have to make this quick could you please call me back at xxx-xxxx it's an emergency thank you goodbye!"


Penny rubs herself up against my leg and mews, bumping her head against the flashlight in my hand, begging for a pet. I reach down and rub behind her ears and fervently wish for a drink. Maybe a brown cow...Kahlua and milk...mmm, nommy... Oh crap, my milk! My fridge!! My freezer!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

In Part II of this sad tale, we'll delve into the machinations of stealing hydro, the benefits of having friends with homes with working power, and why I will never own metal blinds for as long as I have my cats...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Diary of a Bus Bum, Part 2

Previously, on ICNOCHYW...

In Part 1, we established that travelling by public transit was a convenient, cheap and hellish mode of transportation, but on the other hand, it provided me with humorous stories to share with people so that they'll like me. We were introduced to Shaggy the Incredible Stumbling Man, and his amazing ability to stop moving buses by flinging himself under the front tire. In Part 2, we discover that the best place in the world to be should there ever be a worldwide invasion by zombie snipers is inside a bus...

A couple of weeks ago, I had the most epically bad run of bus karma I have ever had in my life. The day started normally -- my alarm went off at 6:30am, I hit snooze until about 7:43am, then ran around like a chicken with a firecracker up it's ass trying to get ready for work in only 15 minutes. Well, that's normal for me. You people who actually get up with your alarms at ungodly hours of the morning are freaks. Anyway, I managed to get cleaned up and dressed and out the door in time for my bus. In fact, I saw it heading towards me as I exited my building, so I was able to perform what I call the Bus Stop Boogie -- running like a maniac, flailing your arms wildly in hopes that the bus driver will see you coming, take pity on your pathetic self and let you on the bus like the benevolent soul we all like to believe bus drivers are deep down inside. So I'm running for the bus, performing (if I may say so myself) a particularly exquisite performance of the Bus Stop Boogie, and I can see another person getting on the bus. She's a tall girl, slender with straight blond hair just past her shoulders, wearing a skin-tight black dress with a decolletage so revealing that I can tell, even from up the street, that her navel is an innie, black wrist cuffs and torn fishnet stockings with black stiletto booties. As I run up the street towards the bus stop, she turns her head my way and our eyes lock for a split second. She's seen me! I'm saved! Even if the bus driver hasn't yet noticed me, she can tell him that someone is right behind her and he can pause for a minute like the benevolent soul he is so that I can --


As I fumble for my bus pass about three steps from the bus, the driver shuts the door, checks his blind spot and pulls out into traffic. I run a few more steps before the situation sinks in. He...left me. He just left me there. I was two feet from the door and he ignored me and left me standing there! What a dick! And the other girl! Didn't the chick who shops at Skanks 'R' Us say anything to him?!? And if she did, why would he just take off?? These people are assholes!!

So I sit down in the bus shelter and fume and grumble and wish hateful, horrible things on these two people that I wouldn't know from a hole in the ground. Didn't make me feel better...

That same day, work finally ends (it happens occasionally) and I head for the good ol' bus stop. For the last month, I've been trying to avoid getting a particular bus driver on the way home and no matter what I do, no matter how early or late I leave work, I always seem to get him. I hate this jerk so much, he annoys the crap out of me. He's always late on his bus route and then has to speed like a freaking maniac through yellow-red lights to make the next bus stop. When he stops, he yells at people to hurry up and get on the bus, move it people, move it, HURRY DAMMIT! Inevitably, this technique fails to get him back on schedule and by the time we hit the last quarter of the route, he's making announcements to the passengers to exit the bus by the front entrance so he can pretty much let us off while the bus is still rolling. He wears a hearing aid and apparently this thing doesn't friggin' work, because more than once he's yelled at people for swearing at him when they didn't. The last time he did that, he yelled at a middle-aged business lady for saying the f-word at him (she hadn't) and the poor woman was mortified. She had to come onto the bus with everyone staring at her, thinking she was a foul-mouthed bitch, because this fucking moron won't take the time to get a decent hearing aid. She sat with me because I didn't stare at her...I was too busy rolling my eyes at the dinkus in the driver's seat. Considering how my day had started, I was pretty much convinced that I was going to get him on the way home, too. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had managed to get a completely different driver, one that was on time and didn't speed! Awesome!

But of course, that wouldn't last long...

We were about a third of the way into the route and I had plugged in my Zune so I could rock out while playing my DS, and I couldn't hear a thing. Which leads me to a digression, a tip for those who don't travel by public transit very often. My secret weapon for travelling by bus? Headphones. Seriously. They don't even have to be hooked up to anything. I have taken my earbuds along with me a number of times, stuck the end into my jacket pocket, plugged the buds into my ears and listened to nothing for the entire trip. Works like a charm. People won't bother you because you've got them on and are obviously (heh heh) listening to something and can't hear them, but if they don't get the hint and try talking to you anyway, you have a valid excuse for ignoring them completely. However, I highly suggest having a back up plan, just in case. Mine is a foreign accent, usually something undefinable, like ItaliaSpanApanese. If someone bothers me while I've got my buds in, I'll pull one out and say, "I sorry, you someting say?" They'll ask if I speak English and I'll shake my head looking all bashful and sorry and foreign. I recommend not choosing an immediately identifiable accent, in the event that that particular person actually speaks the language and begins to converse with you in your "native" language. And if you don't actually speak that language, your cover's completely blown.

Where was I? Oh yeah, senseless violence...

So I can't hear a damn thing, but at one of the bus stops, the driver suddenly stops the bus and announces something over the transit speaker. I pull my ear buds out just in time to hear him say something about a loud noise and is everyone okay? Everyone is just kinda like "whatever", so he starts up the bus and we head out again. At the next bus stop, he turns the bus off and gets out to do a walk-around inspection. Suddenly, he stops at the window right across from me and starts poking at a chip in the glass. I am totally confused. The driver gets back onto the bus and makes a call to the transit office and I can hear the words "gun" and "shot" and "bullet hole" and I can feel all of the blood in my body suddenly rush to my feet. Say what? Someone shot at us?? You freaking serious??? Sure enough, he gets off the phone, turns to us and says, "sorry, folks, but back at the last stop, someone shot at us, so I've had to call the police and we can't move the bus until they get here."


We all file off the bus to wait for the next one to come along and I wander over to where the driver is inspecting the hole.

"Did we really get shot at?" I ask him. "Yep," he answers, "looks like a high-powered BB gun. It almost went through the window, and this stuff is pretty strong. If he'd been standing a couple of feet closer, I think it may have gone right through!"

"Would've been a bad day for the person sitting on the other side!" I joke. He chuckles but raises his eyebrows at me, and I realize how incredibly stupid that sounded...I was the person sitting on the other side. It's official...I'm a dumbass.

So I'm thanking my lucky stars for short, slow-moving snipers and the next bus pulls up. We're all pretty much prepared for a full bus due to the circumstances, which, right there, makes for a crappy ride home. Then I look up as I run my bus pass through the reader...and it's him. That jerkhole driver that I've been trying to avoid and finally managed to succeed in doing so, until some stinking zombie shooter ruined my bus ride home. Fuck. Sure enough, he's running late, so we're flying around corners and running yellow lights, and I'm holding onto the holy-shit handles for all I'm worth and trying with every fibre of my being to not go flying into the lap of the little old lady sitting in front of me. She's small and adorable and looks extremely fragile, and I've had just about enough of having to wait for paramedics to come and do something paramedicy at my bus stop.

Finally, about halfway home, some seats clear out so I can sit down and get the feeling back into my fingers. More people get on and a very large woman plops down next to me...and she reeks. Holy crap, does she reek! She smells like a pile of athletic socks that have been soaked in brine and left to rot in the sun. I have to breathe through my mouth or I'm going to totally hurl all over her. I keep praying to every deity I can think of that the next stop will be hers, but she doesn't get off until four stops before mine. As soon as she gets up and gets off the bus, another lady sits next to me, and while she doesn't smell like the other woman, she also reeks. She's dipped herself in perfume, probably had it injected into her veins that morning just to make sure it lasted the whole day, and my head is really starting to pound at this point.

The driver doesn't have to yell at me to exit the bus from the front, I'm pretty much out the door before he's even got them completely open. As soon as I'm out in the fresh, clean air, I take a deeeeeep breath and dissolve into a coughing fit. Awesome. I finally get to my apartment -- thank god!! Home sweet home! I pet my cats, Penny and Smokes, drop my stuff on the floor and change into my jammies. I'm buttoning up my pj top when I hear a strange sound...

...huck...shlkuck...hac hac hac...blarfgh...

The hell?!

I walk out into the living room and see Penny sitting there, looking all sweet and cute and fluffy, with a big pile of cat vomit on the floor in front of her. Sonuva...

Diary of a Bus Bum, Part 1

I'm what you might call a bus bum. Well, okay, I call it that. I'm one of the many, many people in the world that takes public transit. I do not do this in order to help the environment. I do not do this to reduce my carbon footprint. I certainly do not do this in order to spend more time with my fellow man. I do it because it's cheaper than owning and maintaining a car and because I'm broke. To buy a bus pass and travel anywhere in the city I want for as many times as I want for a month costs me about the same as my pizza budget used to be when I was married.

Side note: you know you need to cut down on ordering in pizza when Domino's sends you a Christmas card three years running. True story.

In all honesty, I like taking the bus. There's less stress on me (I don't have to pay attention to the traffic, don't have to worry about parking, don't have to worry about speeding, not that I get them...moving on), I can just veg out or read or play on my DS, and it's cheaper than a car. Did I mention that already? However, for every plus there is a minus, and if you're looking for minuses, look no further than your closest public transit system.

The main negative about a public transit system is that it's open to the public, which means that more people than you ever wanted to meet in your entire life are more than likely crammed into a space roughly half the size of my apartment, and that space is almost constantly moving. This means a lot of jostling around, invading total strangers' personal spaces, and getting to know your neighbours more than you probably ever really wanted to (or they wanted you to, for that matter). It also means trying to use diplomacy with numbnuts who take up two seats when the bus is crowded, or trying to explain to the lady sitting on the aisle seat that there is, in fact, no one sitting next to her in the window seat, so would you mind if I sat there? Now? Please? It means sitting next to sweaty, smelly people, people who smell like they've jogged through the Sahara Desert in a parka while consuming nothing but anchovies and radiator fluid. It means sharing a small space with drunken idiots who think the funniest thing on the planet is to burp loudly and then blow it in the face of their equally drunken friend, without allowing for the fact that that particular drunken friend is sitting next to an innocent sober person who really doesn't want to inhale sour beer breath.

However, again on the plus side, it's given me a load of great stories to tell. Let me give you some of the best, right after the colon:

A couple of years ago, shortly after my marriage broke up, I was renting a small apartment in a dump just down the street from an Axis of Evil: an intersection that had a drunk's wet dream on every corner, i.e., a liquor store, a 7-11 convenience store for midnight munchies,
a bar (with it's own liquor store, too. Seriously), and a Tim Hortons. Every drunk heads to a Tim Hortons; I think it's engraved on a slate mounted in every bar's men's room in the northern hemisphere -- "When thou hast imbibed of the fire water, headest thou to thy nearest nationally acclaimed coffee shop for refreshments and donut holes. Ensure that thy vomit has been thoroughly spewed in yon establishment's restroom (hitting the centre of the relief-inducing throne is purely optional)." Or something like that, I've never really checked to find out the exact wording, but I think that's pretty close. Anyhoo, because of these swank surroundings, I would often find myself sharing a bus with those poor souls who had had a hair of the dog. In fact, a few of them would appear to have completely shaved said dog, since they were usually stinking (and I use that word for a reason) drunk at eight o'clock in the morning. And hilarity would ensue.

On one occasion, I had made plans to meet an old friend, Dave (not the building manager!), that I had managed to get back in touch with after an absence of around five years. This was, naturally enough, cause for celebration and we agreed to meet one night for coffee at a Tim Hortons that was roughly between both of our respective homes. I got to the bus stop in plenty of time, but I was not alone. Already sitting at the bus stop was a shaggy-haired fellow with glasses, holding something in a paper bag, and his head between his knees. At first, I thought the poor fellow was depressed...then I got within whiffing distance. I quickly walked to a place near the bus stop that was upwind and watched the drama unfold. I temporarily dubbed the fellow "Shaggy", not only because of his choice of 'do, but because he bore a striking resemblance to his namesake of Scooby Doo fame. I'm quite sure that if he had put on a baggy green t-shirt, he could've sold his story to E! about how the rest of the Scooby Gang hadn't appreciated his talents, had kept yelling at him to clean up after his damn dog, and how they kept making fun of his scratchy voice. The final straw came about when Fred insisted that Shaggy contribute more towards gas for the Mystery Machine than the others because Shaggy and Scooby ate more than the entire gang put together, and in a fit of rage, Shaggy dared to grab Fred by his ascot. Shamed and shunned, Shaggy wandered the streets with Scooby, his only friend (we won't count Scrappy, that annoying little shit), begging for change and solving mysteries to feed their Scooby Snack habit. When Scooby finally lost his battle with Snack addiction, Shaggy was left alone in the world and turned to alcohol to kill the pain...where the hell was I??? I seem to have wandered from my point...oh yeah, the drunken idiot...

So anyway, Shaggy was stinking drunk, and I do mean stinking. He'd obviously been drinking as if he was getting paid by the glass, and judging from the scuffs on his knees and his ragged palms, it had been a rough walk to the bus stop. He was sitting in the shelter, bent in half with his hands dragging on the ground. Every now and then, he'd sit up long enough to take a swig from the quickly-emptying bottle in the brown paper bag, then immediately fold back over himself again. When the bottle finally emptied, he tried to stand up to throw it out. Funniest fucking thing I've ever seen in my life. Imagine, if you will, a sentient egg noodle. Now try to imagine this egg noodle attempting to stand up. He first tried to roll up his spine to sit up far, so good. Then, one foot got planted, then the other...hands on the seat, a quick push to spring upright...only to land on his knees, causing him to bounce back up and land on his ass back on the seat, striking the back of his head on the bus shelter wall as he did so. Heh heh heh heh!

Meanwhile, the bus has pulled up at this point and I and the two other passengers watching this spectacle get on the bus. I've just taken my seat and the bus driver has closed the door to pull back out when all of a sudden, there's a blur of movement at the side of the bus! All I can see is a shock of hair as Shaggy runs for the bus and hits the door face-first. He stumbles back, then stumbles forward with his hands outstretched, but manages to miss the bus completely. It's easy to lose your sense of depth perception when the whole world looks like you're staring through the bottom of a Coke bottle, I guess. Shaggy tries to grab the bus' bike rack as he goes down, but hits his head again and rolls UNDER THE BUS. And then LIES THERE. All of us on the bus are pretty much gobsmacked at this point...did we just watch a drunken Jerry Lewis routine, or was the exhaust on this bus leaking through the backseat??? The driver, for lack of any other plan, was forced to park, open the door and check the situation out. Now comes the funny part... Turns out that when Shaggy hit his head and rolled under the bus, he ended up behind the front right tire and his torso was now caught between the bus and the curb. He was stuck, completely stuck, underneath the friggin' bus. We couldn't go forward or we'd drag him against the curb, and we couldn't back up or we'd pop his head beneath the front tire like a grape at a square dance. It's okay, you can laugh, I did too. We're all going to hell now. Poor Shaggy was so drunk that he couldn't cooperate with the driver to maneuver his body out from underneath, so the driver had to call the paramedics. So I'm sitting on this bus, late for my coffee with Dave, knowing that he doesn't have a cell phone that I can call to explain the situation, and trying very, VERY hard not to completely bust a freaking gut and look like a total jerk to the other passengers.

After about ten minutes, the medics arrive, squeeze Shaggy out from under the bus, dab the boo-boo that he got on his head, and manage to drag him a safe distance from the road so they can check him out for broken bones or road rash or innate stupidity or whatever. And we're off! I finally get to the coffee shop twenty minutes late and Dave's sitting there like "where the hell have you been?" Luckily, I had the best excuse for being late I think I've ever had in my life.