When you are as tethered to technology as I am, you know that losing Internet service, even for a few minutes, can feel like the start of the zombie apocalypse.

So when I got a “lost signal” alert while working on my laptop, I started to break out in a cold sweat and immediately called my cable service provider, which is usually about as much fun as going to your sister-in-law’s cousin’s nephew’s six-year-old’s violin recital.

I got a woman who proceeded to ask a series of confirmation questions to verify I was me. I suppose it’s common for criminals involved in home invasions to Skype with their nanas using their victim’s WiFi so one can never be too careful about tech support verification.

I can hear her tap tap tap on her keyboard to pull up all the account information and once it is established that I am, in fact, me, she proceeds to ask what lights are flashing on the router.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep all my electronics on top of my desk. The CPU, wireless router, external hard drive, and multiple spaghetti-like chargers for all my mobile devices (the office Blackberry phone, my personal Android-powered phone, and my Apple iPad), are all hidden underneath furniture. I do this to minimize the unattractive clutter of electronics while maximizing surfaces for other important matter like the three months of unopened mail, post-it notes containing tidbits for the next great American novel, and two years worth of receipts that I will get to the accountant someday. Soon.

After locating a small flashlight I keep in the junk drawer for emergencies I get on all fours and begin reporting to the tech lady which lights are flashing while making a mental note that I truly must vacuum more often underneath things. The light labeled “Internet” is not on and neither is the WAN coax light. “WAN or LAN?” she asks. “WAN” I respond. “LAN?” she asks again. “No. WAN! W…A…N!” I respond.

W…A…N. She tap tap taps on her keyboard.

Okay. Now she instructs me to turn off the router and disconnect the coax cable. This requires me to reach behind the router, feel around for the switch, and then using both hands locate the coax cable to unscrew it. Done.

She tap tap taps on her keyboard.

Now locate the splitter and unscrew the coax cable from there, she commands. I follow the cable to the splitter and find it in another room above the door. So I grab my ladder from the closet and begin climbing. As I am midway I inform the lady what I am doing to which she responds that there is no need, because if the splitter is that high up, chances are nothing bit through the cable there. Nothing bit through the cable. She was looking to see if something might have bit the cable. She might have shared this little tidbit with me earlier before I stuck my hand behind things blindly feeling my way around.

I carefully reconnect everything and turn on the router. It’s a no go. The WAN (W…A…N) coax light is still not on, and neither is the Internet.

She tap tap taps on her keyboard.

Now she asks if my VOD is working. I go to the television, turn it on and discover I cannot access Video on Demand either. Turn off the set top box to reset, she informs while she tap tap taps on her keyboard.

Still nothing.

So after about 45 minutes of this, she announces she is going to try something. She tap tap taps. Clicks her mouse. Tap tap taps some more and VOILA! All the lights go on. I suddenly have access to VOD. My iPad can access the web. All is right with the world. Tragedy has been averted.

I ask what I did so that if I encounter this problem again, I know how to fix it. She says nothing. The problem was on their end.

The obvious question? Why would you have me crawling, climbing, disconnecting and reconnecting, if at the end of it all, you just needed to tap tap tap on the keyboard to resolve the issue? Well, she says, the procedure calls for the customer to troubleshoot the problem first.

Is it me?

I Am a Warrior Queen

Super Babe to the rescue

Okay, so I was never much of a damsel-in-distress-waiting- for-a-knight-in-shining-armor kinda gal. Even as a child I was more interested in fighting for justice than I was dressing my dolly. And though, as an adult, I consider myself a pacifist, my idea of a “chick flick” is, in fact, an action/suspense/thriller film where the protagonist is a sassy and buff babe specially trained to do nothing more than kick some serious bad guy booty. I almost feel a kinship with the characters as I often consider myself a warrior queen battling the forces of evil on a daily basis. As I watch a television show where a female agent gets all Krav Maga on some gangbanger’s butt, I can relate. Sometimes I feel like I’m blocking punches all day long. And how about the movie where a fictional character from a popular video game escapes the claws of really big hairy monsters by doing slow motion somersaults followed by a back flip all the while protecting a sacred artifact from a ruthless and greedy ego-maniac fixated on stealing it for personal gain.

Can Malibu Barbie do that? I don’t think so.

Ooh! Ooh! And the new recently released feature film (that will most probably be available on DVD next week) where a real mixed martial arts maven plays a black ops super soldier who is double-crossed and, apparently, must be eliminated to ensure some nasty government mucky-muck doesn’t get indicted for treason. Yeah. I feel like I occasionally have to do leg sweeps to overpower those big bad guys who mistake my small stature and soft demeanor for weakness.  Do not be fooled. I am a bad-ass; a force to be reckoned with.

Then one day I realized there was a mouse in my house. I let out a blood-curdling shriek and landed on the couch where I remained in a fetal position for a very long time.

A warrior queen reserves the right to live a contradiction.

Strong winds brought down trees in the East Coast.

So it is just about the end of another year. And what a year it was, wasn’t it? Mother Nature certainly gave us a one-two punch in the catastrophe department, what with devastating earthquakes, debilitating rain storms and freak blizzards followed by unseasonably mild temperatures. It’s no wonder everyone is giving all this doomsday chatter a lot more credence than it probably should get. I mean, really, the end of days was predicted to take place on a very specific date and at a very specific time. People scattered like Chicken Little, spent their life savings and left their families because they were so convinced. Even the skeptics chuckled with a touch of doubt. Admit it, on May 21st at exactly 6:15pm (EST) you, too, closed your eyes, held your breath and stuck your fingers in your ears didn’t you? And at exactly 6:16pm you opened one eye and scanned the room only to discover people were staring at you. Oh yes, I bet you sure did that. Well, okay. Maybe it was just me.

But as we enter into 2012 in a few weeks, all this apocalyptic talk is making me apoplectic. You see, it will be the last year until 2101 when all the numbers align on one date: 12/12/12. In fact some scholars posit that because 12/21/12 is the end of the Mayan calendar, that civilization as we know it will cease to exist on that very day, and all I keep thinking is, darnit! I haven’t finished my bucket list! I mean, I have done some pretty cool stuff, like I jumped out of a plane at 13,500 feet (see video or read blog);

That's me in the glow-in-the-dark jumpsuit.

Flying through the Continental Divide

I’ve zip-lined through clouds, and I’ve even climbed to the top of a pyramid.  But I haven’t driven a stick shift; travelled to Santorini, the Galapagos, nor Chilean wine country. I want to be an extra in a movie, have a dress designed especially for me, play a percussion instrument, and learn Portuguese. And now, thanks to those pesky Mayans, I may only have 365 days within which to accomplish all of these things. Well, I gotta go. I’ve got a lot of work to do and trips to plan.

Tchau! Feliz Natal e feliz ano novo.


Happy UNThanksgiving Day!

Sandra is one of my very best friends. We get mani/pedis together or go food shopping and trade recipes. You know, the girly girl girly things girls do because, though we are both super-duper go-getter professional women, we can still be, well…girls. We talk to each other often. Not every single day, but almost. Like when we need to wile the time away while doing dishes or sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Generally our conversations are filled with mutual admiration and affirmations. (We both are, after all, blessed with an added dosage of awesomeness.) At other times, invariably, one of us is offering a pep talk to the other after some stressful family or work-related incident. And on rare occasions, we find ourselves unusually melancholic at the very same time and in dire need of unadulterated commiseration.

Such was the case yesterday – the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The holidays are traditionally hard for the both of us for various legitimate reasons I won’t go into. Suffice to say, life is inextricably difficult. So we each allowed each other several moments to kvetch about how we had been wronged at some point in our lives. I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite philosophers Khalil Gibran: “I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, kindness from the unkind; yet, strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” I took this as an okay to, at least for one day, become a naysayer and tell the Universe “well, thank YOU very much!” in a slight, yet noticeable sarcastic tone.

So, as we worked ourselves into a grumpy, whiny, grousing frenzy, we concluded it was healthy to give in to the dark side for one day only, and thus declared Tuesday before Thanksgiving officially UNThanksgiving Day. It’s kind of like going on a gratitude diet before turkey day when you’ll undoubtedly gorge yourself with second helpings of blessings. Sandra says it’s kind of like an “appreciation laxative.” Yeah, I know. She’s so cool and wickedly funny.

We soft-launched our new campaign by testing it to a very select target audience – our Facebook friends. At first, there were some love-peace-and-granola type reassurances, like “oh, but life is good” or “some people have it much worse”… yeah, yeah. Yadda…yadda…yadda. We were determined to have a fulfilling UNThanksgiving day and no one was going to ruin it for us. Once we’ve gotten it out of the way, then and ONLY then, we will resume being thankful.

Some of the responses were comical, and others understandably somber. But ALL were truthful. Here are a few:

I am ungrateful for people who deliberately do things to make themselves unlikeable and then demand that you love them.

I am ungrateful for hot flashes, Congress and reality television.

I am ungrateful for alternate side of the street parking.

I am ungrateful for subway and postal rate hikes.

I am ungrateful for the idiots who drive in the fast lane during rush hour only to come to a complete halt as they cut off the other two lanes while merging into the George Washington Bridge entrance ramp. PUTZ!

I am ungrateful for people who claim to be your best friend, then throw you to the wolves when it suits them.

I am ungrateful for the illnesses of my loved ones.

I am ungrateful for knowing what the above feels like.

I am ungrateful for Cancer.

I am ungrateful for the upstairs neighbor who seems to be teaching Zumba classes 24/7.

I am ungrateful for lactose.

Share your UNThanksgiving thoughts with us.

Movement gaining momentum throughout the country

Toddlers protest the letters X, Y, and Z in the Occupy Sesame Street Movement.

In an unprecedented move, a horde of toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergartners descended upon a neighborhood famous for its sunny days where the air is sweet. The growing movement, now known as Occupy Sesame Street (OSS), has attracted a diverse group of protesters objecting to the letters X, Y and Z.

The movement‘s biggest opposition came from the Tea Party, whose spokesperson, Malibu Barbie stated “It’s irresponsible for them to do this is alls I’m sayin’,” adding that her arms don’t bend and no one was available to pour the pretend brew into the pretend teacups.

Thus far demonstrations have been relatively peaceful according to long-time residents Bert and Ernie. However, everything was not A-OK as tensions rose when an unidentified demonstrator unwittingly went potty in what he thought was an average garbage can. The can’s occupant, Mr. Oscar the Grouch allegedly called the demonstrator a “doo-doo head” prompting the child to respond with “Am not”. According to witnesses near the scene the hairy curmudgeon replied “Are too” and the heated exchange continued for a while. It ended with Mr. the Grouch yelling “I know you are but what am I?” which caused the befuddled toddler to run away whimpering “I want my mommy.” OSS organizers filed a formal complaint citing that the incident could have been avoided had the city supplied the appropriate provisions like Porta Pottys and changing stations. Mr. the Grouch could not be reached for comment.

Each new season is a time for new beginnings. As the season changes colors, we change our wardrobe, and maybe our hair style to accommodate the latest fashion trend for cooler weather. Some change is welcomed, and others not so much because getting accustomed just takes way too much time. I’m not talking about the move from flip flops to leather boots. I’m talking about the propensity for social media sites to change their home screens without a heads up. I mean, it’s like someone sneaking into your house in the middle of the night and rearranging your furniture. You want to place your glass of soda on a table that was just there yesterday, but is not today and now your floor is sopping wet with caffeine and corn syrup. So you go searching for the mop that used to be in the broom closet, but the broom closet is now a pantry, where, of course, you discover the can of SpaghettiOs you were looking for two weeks ago and realize you are very hungry. So you decide to heat the SpaghettiOs, but where’s the can opener? It used to be in the utility draw, which is now the sock draw, which reminds you that the laundry still needs to be done. So now you go to what used to be your laundry room, but it’s now the garage so you decide to hop in your car and go to the movies because figuring out where everything is causes way too much stress.

Spectator sports have been a mainstay of society since days of yore when ancient cultures built arenas and coliseums to stage events for the elite as well as commoners to enjoy. One of the more popular competitions in both ancient Greece and Rome, for example, was the Chariot races. It was a very dangerous sport for it was not uncommon for both driver and horse to either suffer debilitating injuries or be killed in the chaos that would inevitably ensue during a rigorous race.

Rome was also home to the legendary Gladiators who would either fight each other or compete with wild animals such as lions and tigers (and possibly bears – oh my!). The declared winner of the competition was the guy (or creature) who managed not to die.

Ancient Mayans were not as barbaric. They played a game which consisted of a harmless rubber ball. The object of the game was simple: two teams would pass the ball around using no hands and then get the ball to pass through a ring. Just a bunch of guys, a ring, a ball and a deep motivation to win because the leader of the losing team was put to death after the game. Okay, maybe they weren’t so enlightened, but that’s for another discussion.

All I can say is, thank goodness in these modern times we enjoy much more civilized forms of entertainment. Like those centuries-old contests, we still have a need to celebrate the guy or gal who could run the fastest, jump the highest, throw the furthest, and hit the hardest, but we have evolved into a society that doesn’t punish our losing athletes by sacrificing them to the gods of mediocrity. We just take away their million-dollar endorsements and banish them to live in obscurity. There are no skirmishes with ferocious beasts, gnashing flesh and blood-soaked arenas. Just a simple contest between two or more competitors determined to win either for gain or glory.

Extreme Ironing Wall Calendar available on Amazon.com

Today we have meaningful sports. Modern diversions offering us refuge from the day-to-day vicissitudes of life. Golf? Pshaw. Easy. Hit a ball. Follow the ball. Try to put it in a tiny hole. No, I’m talking about real challenges. Like Extreme Ironing, an Internationally-recognized sport where competitors iron laundry in extreme conditions like skydiving, on a highway, or underwater in freezing temperature. According to Wikipedia, the world’s most accurate source of obscure information, EI was founded in England, no doubt by a faction of extremely bored butlers. A branch of EI includes Extreme Bungee Ironing which combines the thrill of bungee jumping and a well-pressed shirt.

Or how about Chess Boxing? Though, like EI, Chess Boxing was developed in England but has since branched out to hosting tournaments in Iceland, Siberia, Holland, and Germany. CB is a hybrid sport that combines boxing with chess. It’s kind of like Bobby Fisher meets Sugar Ray Leonard. Competitors play chess for a four-minute round, then duke it out in the ring for two minutes alternating between the board and the bouts for 11 rounds. Athletes even have spiffy names like Lepe, the Joker and Luis the Lawyer.

Not into contact sports? Too barbaric? Well, you’re in luck. This year the 2nd Annual Beard and Moustache Championship will take place in October in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home of the Amish. Cash prizes totaling $5,000 will be awarded for the best facial hair in America. Yes, that’s FIVE THOUSAND dollars. Last year at the World Championship in Norway, Team USA fell one gold medal short of retaining its position as the top bearding nation in the world. Over 200 hirsute challengers competed for top honors in various categories, like Moustache, Full and Partial Beard, Musketeer and Free Style (I don’t want to know). Reigning champion and three-time Best Beard winner Elmar Weissler is a hairdresser by trade.

And if none of the previous interests you, perhaps you may be able to find some entertaining value in these other somewhat obscure, yet oddly popular competitions.

Wife Carrying, a Finnish sport. Need I say more?

Midget Throwing a.k.a. Dwarf Tossing a.ka. Dwarf Throwing a.k.a. Midget Tossing. (in the process of being banned)

Air Guitar Championships, where the website once read “competitors are hand-picked and invited solely on ‘airness’. Transgendered and Drag Queens welcome”

Floor Swimming, where contestants race by “swimming” across a wood or linoleum floor.

Ostrich Racing, practiced in countries where there are ostriches (not Emus). Like Africa and Australia.

Cheese Rolling, competitors come to Gloucester, England from all over to roll cheese down a hill. It’s a thrill a minute. Afterward, they cut the ceremonial cheese. (Sorry I had to go there).

Gurning, is also an English sport (do we see a trend here?) whereby people make a funny face and win prizes. I don’t know about you, but I know a few people who won’t have to train too much to compete.

And for the Trekkies in my audience …. Klingon Beauty Contest.