Baby Cheetah

Accentuate the positive

And all that happy horseshit as my mother would say.  I’m trying to fight my way through this head-cold induced mental fog and look on the bright side for this trip to PHX.

– Unlike last August, this is a pre-planned trip, which is much better than the alternative.

– The weather will be sunny and in the 80s.

– It is a short trip with no holidays involved, which makes packing a matter of just tossing some wearable crap in a bag and that’s it.

– It is a short trip, period.  Less time for us to get on each others nerves.

– The hotel is wonderful and has an absolutely killer breakfast.

– There are several really good places to eat right next to the hotel.  (Kabuki and Yard House are on the must list.)

– If history is any indicator, the Detroit Red Wings will be staying at my hotel.

– No one expects me to sit around at the care center all day and watch my grandmother take naps.  (If she could juggle in her sleep or something, it might be different, but she can’t, so…)  This is a pleasant contrast to being expected to sit at her condo all day and watch her take naps.

– I will get the mail situation locked down once and for all via a UPS store, as USPS hasn’t exactly been up to the task with forwarding since everything went to hell in a handbasket.   (Mail to the care center is a no-go, and I still need her to have a local address, cause I am not going through the potential confusion of having tax documents print out thinking she lives in Virginia.)

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Baby Cheetah

I know correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation…

But holy hell, once again I am within 48 hours of getting on a plane to PHX and I am in the midst of the galloping crud.  Granted, I should have seen it coming, as I have been spacey as all get out this week – seriously, since about 2PM Tuesday, I couldn’t have told you what day of the week it was without consulting a calendar.*  This is invariably the precursor to a cold/sinus infection for me, but I never recognize it until it’s too late.

The overly rational part of my brain chalks it all up to unfortunate coincidence and the ridiculous changing of the barometric pressure at this time of year.  The not-quite-as-rational part of my brain says, “Going to PHX is bad for you!” The smartest part of my existence which isn’t even attached to me says – “It’s the anxiety leading up to the trip that does you in.”  That smart part would be my brother trying to assure me I’ve not totally lost my mind.  (If you don’t have a brother to help you out in matters such as these, I highly recommend you get one.  I’m pretty sure there is a category on Craigslist for this.)

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time that I wasn’t sick either when my grandmother visited here, or I visited there.  (Same thing has happened to my brother as well.)  Invariably this has lead to my grandmother being more than happy to tell us that we were weak, lazy & pathetic and got sick on purpose just to get attention.  Yes, because I’d so much rather feel like total crap and have people saying, “Would you like a Ginger Ale?” than just happily going about my business without desperately needing to sleep for 24 hours straight.

Damned if I know why my body decides to betray me this way, but I’m very much over it all.  Seriously, I’m staying at a nice hotel with a pool and everything – I’d like to take advantage of it rather than sleep every hour I’m not at the care center…

*No matter how broken my grandmother’s brain may be, I never have and never will fault her for not knowing the date or day of the week without looking at the calendar.

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Baby Cheetah

NORAD training, Twitter, and weird after-effects…

So, last night at a little past 0030 NORAD was doing a bit of night training which resulted in a couple of fighter jets in afterburner* flying very, very low over my residence in Northern Virginia.

I was sitting at my computer wasting time and trying to un-engage my brain and I heard *something* coming and I wasn’t even sure what it was other than the fact that I knew it would greatly upset the dog lounging out on the deck and I had to get him inside immediately.  I dashed to the back door and said, “Moxley, get your ass in RIGHT NOW!!”  (It had a sound of very severe thunder and I’d rather him inside than digging a 4 foot deep hole to take cover in outside.)  He happily complied and I went dashing to the deck to see what was up.**

I viewed what for all intents and purposes appeared to be a fighter jet in afterburner leaving the neighborhood, but sounding much more like an airplane about to lose an engine.  TO THE INTERNET!  Facebook & Twitter yielded no immediate answers other than one person on my friend list who had heard/seen the same incident and had the same questions I had.  (I am still quite surprised that there was only the two of us in the neighborhood that took to the internet to figure out what on earth was going on.)

OK, time to mine the Twitter contacts for who may be In The Know.  Well, as it happened, Nathan Hager of WTOP News (@nhagerwtop) had made a post on his account a few minutes before this Very Loud Incident above my home, so I figured he might still be up and perhaps he’d seen/heard something – and shot him a tweet.  Within minutes I had my answer of “Norad training” – and as soon as I saw Norad, I remembered seeing a blurb about a training exercise that had been postponed due to weather.  (Sadly, it didn’t stick in my head until I was reminded of it.)

So, on the Twitter side of this posting – I can’t help but give some big props to Nathan (my personal local news guru) Hager for a) paying attention to his Twitter account, even on what had to be his verge of going to bed, and b) taking the time to post a response.  It was just great to get an answer so soon.  (Really, if you’re not following @nhagerwtop, you should be!

On the “weird after-effects” side – I went to bed and damned if I didn’t have weird airplane crashing and/or end of the world dreams for the rest of the night.  I woke up at 0430 and after realizing I still had 2 hours of sleep available to me, yelled at my brain that it was just all a bunch of weird dreams and everything was OK, and that the dog, the cats, and my brother were all in and I didn’t need to worry about any of it.  Didn’t help as the weird dreams continued, but seriously, BRAIN, LET ME SLEEP.

The last time I had a couple of fighter jets go over my house in afterburner was when I lived over in Burke.  I wallked out to the porch, looked up and thought, “Cool.”  It wasn’t for a few minutes before I thought, “Wait, what??”  I can only attribute the difference in reaction to now having a dog & brother under the same roof.  (Had cats both times and all were inside anyway.)

Really, I have enough on my mind without my brain deciding to create new and non-existent disasters for me to worry on.  Really brain, chill out.

*I have forever referred to it as “on afterburner” but my Godfather (for lack of a better description) let me know it is “in” rather than “on” – WTF do I know, my Dad was on E-2’s – they don’t even have afterburners in the first place, and if you see one “on” or “in afterburner” it means an engine is on fire.

**Not sure how going outside to see WTF was happening bodes for me in the event that the Zombie Apocalypse occurs.  I may be the first one off the map.

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Baby Cheetah

And the point of Verified by Visa is???

Not too long ago, I was shopping online and they wouldn’t take my card unless I used Verified by Visa.  A quick Google search indicated that it was a very legitimate extra layer and not terribly onerous level of protection for online transactions.  (Endorsed by my Credit Union to boot.)  It’s no big deal, just an extra password at checkout – I can certainly do that. Honestly, if someone is using my VbV password, they also have to have my card in hand and also know my CVV number.  So, great!  Because honestly, if you have to put in your CC info, AND the CVV number, AND a password – it’s either legit, or someone has stolen your wallet and your laptop and/or knows your password.

Honestly, if you do a VbV transaction, that right there should be some indication of legitimacy of the transaction, and in theory it should save you a shitload of hassle if you have a shopping spree day.  Except that it seems that it doesn’t.

I had two trips to book today through  First was to Phoenix to do a “holy crap, we didn’t think her grandchildren would show up again until December!” visit to have eyes on the care centre, and the second to Las Vegas.  Phoenix went through (with VbV) with no issues.  Vegas?  (Again w/VbV) Not so much -  but with a caveat that some debit cards had a daily spending limit and it could be as simple and innocent as that.  It wasn’t until I tried to hit the ATM this evening that I discovered that my card was full on shut down.

I worked fraud prevention at a bank.  I get it.  However, when you or your automated systsem suspects fraud, the first thing that should happen is a call to the cardholder to verify charges – NOT simply shutting down the card with no notice or verification.

So, I’ve got a busted card and a system that thinks I’m making fraudulent charges, DESPITE using their enhanced security systsem.


Yeah, I’ll be talking to PFCU tomorrow and I will spare the CSR that answers the call my annoyances and will ask to be transferred directly to fraud prevention – hopefully I’ll be slightly less peeved and won’t unleash the level of annoyance that I’m feeling right now.

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Baby Cheetah

An ever-so-slightly odd evening.

Not bad, just a tad odd towards the end.

Meandered up to the pool hall this evening as I am taking tomorrow off, and generally enjoyed watching my brother assert his superior skills at the Golden Tee golf game.

I was approached by a young woman and her gentleman friend who were inquiring as to my interest and favor towards Afghan food.  I tap-danced enough to indicate that I had no aversion towards it* and certainly be inclined to try it given a good recommendation.  (Hey, good grub is good grub, regardless of where it originates.)  Seems the boyfriend of the young lady is a proprietor of some local restaurants whose menu originates mainly from Afghan cuisine.  She approached me because she’d seen me at the pool hall on a few occasions and I can only imagine that I have a friendly face.

Then we got to talking a bit more, and that I am a substitute teacher at the moment, and I’ve gotten to work with little ones with autism in [my very favorite school with a seriously kickass group of teachers for the kids in Special Education/Autism group] and that her son is autistic and well beyond elementary school, and we talked of the challenges and such that goes with that entire diagnosis in parenting and teaching and such.

It’s honestly not a conversation I’d ever expected to have, well, ever – especially given that I’d never thought myself to be able to even be an adequate educational understudy, much less tell a parent, “I know this is incredibly hard, and I have the very easy part because I am only a substitute teacher and I get to go home at the end of the day, but you do the best you can and there’s not much more you can do beyond your best, so just be happy you truly did your best.”

But at the end of the day, it felt like I had somehow managed to provide her with some level of comfort/and or assurance that she was not alone, and/or that someone else understood that this is not an easy task by any means, even if it was just a substitute teacher who has on occasion worked with kids not terribly unlike her own.

When it comes to substitute assignments, I find I tend to look for Special Education classes.  Maybe this is why.

*I’ve had no direct exposure to Afghan food that I know of, but I have heard that it is quite good – and until now, no direct recommendations of good places to acquire it.

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Baby Cheetah

OK, the media is annoying me again…

Which shouldn’t surprise anyone I suppose.

Last week on the radio I heard a quick bit about a young man in Iowa who withdrew a wrestling match against a young woman in a statewide competition.  At the time, I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Well, that is certainly his prerogative” and didn’t think I’d hear much more about it.

Well, this morning, he was on one of the early shows on TV.  Now, I’m still not why this is worthy of time on a national morning news show, nor why any parent would send their kid out to an interview like that, but there it was.  And the kicker was the banner across the bottom of the screen was “Chivalrous or Chauvinistic?”

Really??  It can’t just be a kid who didn’t feel right about wrestling against a girl, knew exactly what the consequences would be, and said, “No, not for me”??  He’s either being this grand gentleman or a misogynistic bastard?

I know it has quite a bit to do with the fact that we have a 24 hour news cycle that we have to fill, and TV audiences have the attention span of fleas, and so everyone wants a flashy graphic that can boil it all down to an easy answer.  But it still annoys me.

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