322: But mom, I want to HELP……

untitledI have regularly made banners and wall hangings as part of my drive for creative expression. I never really cottoned onto the fact (before now) that these creations were accomplished while I was at SCHOOL, and were not made in my personal living space, which is shared with felines. Multiple felines. Who have fatal curiosity – FAR worse than human children. The term laptop was originally coined to describe feline behavior when their person was engaged in any other task besides kitty loving. They cannot STAND it, not being the center of attention (similar to human children).

So. I have this seven-foot long, four-foot wide piece of fabric that I am painting spread on the largest work surface in my home, which happens to be the kitchen table. Serious miscalculation error number one. First, it is in the kitchen. This means that the assorted fur children are already disposed to be overly interested, because this is the FOOD ROOM. Duh, stupid kitty mommy-type person.

Second, I am PAINTING this banner, instead of appliqueing it, or using some other method which does not use liquid colorants. This virtually guarantees paw prints. Paw prints were NOT part of the original design for this banner, although I am rapidly revising my original plans……..



321: Luggage

imagesThe airlines are in a war, and not with each other this time: with US. This war is over the issue of luggage. If you are somebody who can travel with your toothbrush in your back pocket, this is not an issue for you. For everybody else in the UNIVERSE, it is a huge issue.

They (the airlines) keep looking for ways to gouge a few extra dollars (or rubles, or Euros, or yen, or dirham, or WTFever) out of their customers. Carriers with airfare in the affordable range allow you 5-10 kilos, depending, and the BAG weighs that much, much less putting anything IN the bag.

Airlines that cost your first-born GRANDchild graciously allow you to take a real, life-sized suitcase with a change of clothes so you don’t stink too badly when you arrive at your destination. Gee, thanks.

I moved country to Panama from Morocco. I needed maximum luggage allowance, and paid for extra. I even took the WHEELS off my luggage so that I had a few more ounces of actual STUFF I could pack. I wore multiple layers so I could get one or two more items on the plane. Still not enough. *sigh*

I did my best. Infantry private, economy class Dianne – that’s me.

320: Fez and the Flowers

Fez is my champagne and white kitty girl. She was born in the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of the medina in the imperial Moroccan city of Fez.  I brought her to live with me in  Panama, while I work my new job at a new school.

When you bring in an animal to Panama they undergo a quarantine period of 40 days where you promise to keep them inside and away from any other animals, in case they are carrying some sickness. YOU agree to this, the animal does not. Fez got out Saturday night onto the porch of the house, which I have screened the access door to, so that she can’t go there. She found a way.

Sunday morning I found her inside (how did she get back in?), in an unnatural sleeping position (not sleeping) on the other bed in another bedroom. I knew instantly that something was wrong. She was listless, groggy and groaned in protest when I picked her up. She also had cat pee on her fur – ????? Who peed on her, and why would she have LET them???  I thought she possibly might have eaten one of the half-dead cockroach bugs that I had found lying on their backs, feebly kicking on the floor. These were victims of some insecticide the landowner had used before my arrival – I am careful about poisons, since I have cats. I have lost some to this problem before.

So, before 6:30 am, I am on my way by foot and bus to the center of Panama City to a vet. The first bus said no as I was climbing aboard with the cat carrier, but the second bus agreed to transport her and me. I texted a friend who I knew lived where there was a vet, and she got me directions and a phone number. The vet said, once I got there (took my very last five dollars for the taxi), that she appeared to be OK, and most probably would not die (thanks, doc), 35 dollars, please.

My credit card declined. Fortunately, my friend arrived with cash, and she let me borrow 40 bucks till payday. Fez, the cause of this trauma, slept all the way home, letting out an ear-splitting yowl occasionally, to be sure all of us on the bus were awake. Such fun. It was not until I got home after 1 pm that I found the evidence of what happened.

On the front porch, I had a five gallon bucket of ornamental flower cuttings that I wanted to root. The flower shrubs in the planter bed were skimpy looking, so pruning them made them appear thicker, and if I could root them, I could fill in the thin spots.  Half the cuttings were scattered around the porch, and the leaves were eaten off of them. And the clincher? There were puddles of cat pee everywhere.

Fez, my sober, dignified, staid, elegant cat lady, had really tied one on with the flower leaves. Three days later,

Fez is under the chair

Fez is under the chair

she is still a little hung over. I am just glad it has not killed her – so far…….

Flowers have to GO.

319: Computers and Skinning Cats

Computers are wonderful things – when they work. The difficult thing about any computer, regardless of make or model, is that you KNOW it WILL DO what you are desperately trying to get it to do, but actually getting it to do it is the key. And the problem. And computers, to make things more difficult than they would ordinarily be, operate on the Murphy’s Law principle of inverse ratio: the worse you want to get it done (and the corollary issue of how quickly you need it to be done) affects inversely how long it will take the machine to graciously fall into line and actually perform the function you want it to perform.  The more you want it, the longer it takes. If you don’t care about getting it done anytime soon, it works the first time, and quickly at that. It does no good, by the way, to pretend that you have all the time in the world – the machine KNOWS, like any other sentient being, your true state of mind.  It sees right through you to the bitter truth: your career is hanging on this ONE DOCUMENT, and you need it ten minutes ago.

imagesFortunately for us luckless and transparent humans, the computer has a fatal flaw, which is why they don’t rule the Universe yet….there are multiple ways of getting the same function done. Rather like the old adage about skinning cats (which, by the way is a reference to fishing, not the furry, meowing sort of cats). Cat fish are a delicious variety of scavenging, bottom feeders, sort’ve like lawyers, except they taste better cooked. When you catch this fish, you will notice they don’t have scales like most fishes, they have skins like sharks, hence further proving their kinship to lawyers. You must skin them to cook them, and people who fish for them have preferred methods to accomplish this task, rather like computer users have a preferred method for performing whatever task they desire their computer to do.

For example, to get your computer to print a document, you can go to the top menu line and click File, and then Print. But you can accomplish the same task using hot keys: pressing the control key and the P key is also a command to print – and there are several more – clicking on the print icon, for example, will also cause your computer to print. See what I mean? If your preferred method fails, you’d better know another way. Or, you will be here all day, fighting with your sentient but soulless machine, trying to print this document upon which your entire career hangs. Bonne chance!

318: Malo claro, claro malo

untitledClaro (Spanish for “of course”) is the name of a TV/cable, telephone and Internet provider here in Panama, and in other countries as well. They claim to be the best in Panama. Yeah, right.

Since they are the BEST (of course), I went to them to purchase my Internet service. I don’t yet have my work visa (in process) so I can’t get a land line phone, and must use a wireless modem to Internet service. So, I bought their modem and went home to install it and try out my 20 day’s worth of service (47 dollars and change, pre-paid). Only it did not work. It claimed it would connect, and it claimed to have good signal strength, but no Internet browser would open, nor Skype.  So I could not use it. I returned to claro the next day, and they said there was a glitch between their modem and Windows version 8. They knew this. I had not known this, and they did not tell me when I bought it that it would not work with Windows 8. Claro are the best in Panama, right? Their stuff should obviously work on W8, as it is not as if W8 was released just yesterday. They tried to fix it, and I took the computer home to see if the fix worked. It didn’t.

It also did not work on the ELEVEN other trips I made to get the problem resolved. Finally, out of patience, I asked for a refund. Oh, f(&%^$ NO. It is MY fault (they patiently explained to my incredulous self) that their POS modem won’t work with W8, not theirs. They suggested that I try to sell my useless (to me) modem to someone else to recover the money I paid. What I suggested to them is unprintable and anatomically impossible.

So, claro – the 47 bucks and change you cheated me out of, since you KNEW your crap would not work with W8 and did not tell me when I bought it, has already cost you three customers that I told about this delightful experience, and will continue to cost you customers as long as I draw breath. How cost-efficient is keeping my 47 bucks now, hmmmmm?

317: Birdies

Parakeet,_Brown-throated_LaIguanaWhile I was having my complementary breakfast on the top floor of my hotel, I took a moment to admire the views from the windows. There is a small apartment building across the street, and someone has a couple of bird feeders that were enjoying a lively, chattering clientele of pretty, little, bright green birds. I think they were small parrots or parakeets. They were lovely, and so animated! Since I have cats, I won’t install feeders myself to tempt the birds, though – that would be unfair to the birdies and my fur children both.

316: Whew! Breathing Room…..

Panama City

Panama City

Moving is always stressful. Under the category of stressful life events (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale), it falls as number 25 out of 100 for adults. I don’t imagine changing COUNTRIES in a move improves that rating any. Not one little bit.

From the lack of posts over the last month-plus, it is apparent that moving country was stressful for me. I had several issues that cost money and/or time: visa applications that did not arrive, causing rescheduling flights and loss of tickets paid for, being denied boarding, costing time and additional expense to resolve, being denied a pre-paid booking for a rental car, resulting in the loss of that money, too (thanks rentalcars.com – NOT), emergency veterinary services as a result of being denied boarding (thanks to American Airlines – NOT), real estate agents who knew far better than I what apartments were going to be acceptable to me, including their cost, who refused to show me places I could afford, where I wanted to live; TV, phone and Internet providers who blamed ME for their POS, non-working equipment, who refused to refund the money I paid them for their useless, worthless equipment I thought would work because they claim to be the BEST company around – NOT…..and on and on and on…..

The dust is finally beginning to settle down somewhat now, since I have been here in Panama for a month – except I still have no Internet access except while at work (which also explains the dearth of posts since I cringe at doing personal stuff during working time.  I am also fairly well exhausted – to the point I fall asleep in meetings or anywhere else I sit and get still. This is unusual for me, even though I am someone who usually can fall asleep easily. It does not usually happen at WORK.

I am limiting myself to errands only on Saturday, since trying to accomplish something in the afternoon after work in the city means I get home far after dark. It gets dark in Panama about 6:30 – 7 pm, which is not a lot of daylight left over after school lets out at 3:45. The little pueblo (small town) I live in outside Panama City, the capitol, is not really safe after dark, and I have been taking chances unnecessarily – not smart. Asking for trouble is not a good way to start out.

Plus, I have more resting time if I stay home on weekdays. Better all around.