don’t tell me no

It took 7 phone calls (me to mom, me to my bank, me to mom’s bank, and several being chastised by some guy my mom sicced on me), one Visa application, a new email account, several enraged screams of frustration, two visits to the meatspace bank, a $300 trip to Victoria, and a heaping serving of Reverse Fraud, but I beat the fucking system.

All to save myself the hassle of writing and mailing cheques a few times a year.

Okay maybe my effort in was a bit of overkill, but I really fucking hate it when something so completely simple – take money from R and put it in 9 – cannot be accomplished with technology. I am a hermit. I don’t WANT to go to a bank, or a post office. I don’t own stamps. And envelopes? I don’t have an office I can steal supplies from. Where the fuck am I supposed to get envelopes? Also – and this is probably the biggest driver of my behaviour – I really fucking hate being told “no”. What do you mean, “no”? Did you pronounce “yes” wrong? I do not accept your “no”. I will go through a ridiculous amount of effort to make it work. I’m tenacious, stubborn, and not above using Sneaky Petery to get what I want – which, in this case, is to not have to deal with cheques or people.

I’d tried to set mom up with an online banking account in the past, thinking that I could pretend to be her and handle transfers that way. Unfortunately, although I had all the required information, the system wouldn’t let me create the account. Today with mom sitting beside me, we called the bank and tried to do it over the phone .. but she got every single verification question wrong, so we didn’t get very far. We had to go into a branch and talk to someone. Well, fuck. I packed mom and all her ID up in the Mini, and we drove off to the bank that is by the old house and nowhere near where she currently lives. There was some slight alarm, as they know my mom at that bank and didn’t understand why she suddenly wanted online access (I’m pretty sure the bank employs people just to deal with the non-technical), but I was able to explain it away – honestly, I was envisioning ACTUAL alarms, with people asking my mother if she was being coerced by this weird looking stranger into accessing her money. Depressingly, we look enough alike that they accepted my story (also, she told every person who walked by “this is my daughter! from vancouver!”) so we got in.

After the teller reset the account and added a temporary password, he started to tell my mother about all the things she could do online or with a smartphone. My mom listened politely for several minutes, until I stagewhispered “SHE HAS NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT” to him. He laughed, and said “We’ll get her on a smartphone in no time!” to which I replied “the hell we are – I’m the one who has to support it”. We quickly left, before he could convince my mom she needed a computer.

There was a brief side-mission in which we picked up groceries: organic bananas, organic bok choy, organic cat treats. Someone told my mother about “organic”, and now she insists that all food be organic. No, mom, I don’t think those Temptations cat treats are organic. Yes, I know it says “natural” on the box. No, I don’t think Sam can taste the difference.

Once we were home again, I tried out the shiny new bank password and managed to get in. From there, I set up her account along with an email address on my domain that forwards to me. I discovered a very handy new feature, too: you can set your account up to automatically deposit all e-transfers sent to a specific address without needing to answer a verification question first. This is perfect, because I can simply email money to the address I created, and it’ll automatically go into her account without requiring intervention of any kind. Where was this feature when I tried to set all this shit up a year ago? Nowhere, that’s where. I’m glad it’s here now (and I set it up for myself – feel free to email me money at any time!), because while I was prepared to respond to the e-transfer emails from “mom’s account”, it’s several less steps for me. This is good.

So, that takes care of the cheques thing. Next up is sending off a form to redirect mom’s insurance payments to come out of my account instead of hers – I’ve already got the account set up using the email address I created, but all that can do is tell me how much her dental claims are for. I don’t care. I don’t want to know. Just take my money and leave me alone.

I also made her use the Visa I gave her to ensure it was activated properly. She’ll hang onto that, and use it for emergencies. I’ll auto-throw money at her account each month for sundries, and pay for her dental insurance in addition to her cable and phone bills. The only snag in my setup is that you can’t set up recurring e-transfers, so I’ve had to add a calendar reminder to get it done each month. Other than that, though .. it’s done. I don’t have to talk to anyone, or put on pants to go into a bank, or give my credit card information to strangers over the phone. I fucking WON. It’s like triumphing over Windows Vista all over again!

I am pleased with my reverse fraud.

At some point, I will stop blogging about money and cheques and insurance. Someone once told me there’s more to my life than just freaking out over my mother being dumb, and there’s some truth to that – like, we just sold SPARTA. That’s news too! News for later!

insurance?

For the last year or more, we’ve been sending my mother post-dated cheques each month to help her out with whatever she needs. It is a royal pain in the ass, because who the fuck uses cheques anymore. I’ve done the research, and it is literally the only way to get the money to my mother because you can’t e-transfer cash to someone who has no e.

The cheques ran out this month, and I had a brilliant idea: why not replace the cheques with a credit card that mom can use whenever she needs anything. Several times this year I’ve had to provide my credit card information to strangers over the phone, because mom needed my help paying for something. I’d have her go and get/do what she needed, then have them call me for payment. It, like most things involving my mother, is a royal pain in the ass. If mom had a credit card she didn’t need to worry about, she could get these things herself. Less ass-pain for me, more freedom for mom. It’s win win!

I just spent half an hour on the phone with my mother, walking her through the complicated scenario of “use this card whenever you need to buy anything”. See, she used my monthly cheque to pay health/car/whatever insurance – how would she pay those without the money I give her? Easily, I explained: use the new card for anything you buy. You won’t be spending your money, so when your insurance payments are due, it’ll just come out of your account like normal.

“Okay so I take this card to my insurance and pay there?” No, you don’t need to do that. Because you aren’t spending the money in your bank account when you do groceries or go shopping, you can pay for insurance. “How will I do that without your cheque?” When you use the card, you’re spending MY money, not your own. “So I can use this card and pay my insurance?” No, mom. You don’t use the card for insurance. You use it for everything else. “Oh so I can buy whatever I need, like insurance?” NO, MOM. “I take the card to the bank and they pay my insurance?” WHAT. NO. “But then how do I pay my insurance?” MOM. LISTEN TO ME. THROW AWAY YOUR BANK CARD. USE THIS CARD INSTEAD. “For my insurance?” NO, MOM. FOR EVERYTHING ELSE. *explains how money works* “Why couldn’t you just give me cheques? This is so complicated!” Mom, we’re giving you more money this way. It’s not complicated. Cheques are complicated. “Well, I’ll take this to the medical office and see if they can pay my insurance with it.” .. sure, mom. Let me know if it works. If you need more help, tell [current elderly man friend] to call me and I’ll explain it to him. “Hah! He doesn’t understand anything, that won’t help!”

As we said our goodbyes, I was slow to hang up the phone. The last thing I heard before my head exploded was “aye yi yi!”, said to her cat and the TV.

Please do not let me have any further brilliant ideas when it comes to my mother.

[end scene]

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a racist christmas adam

I was caught up in an argument with a racist yesterday, who insisted he was not a racist because his comments of “I hate how Asian my neighbourhood has become” and “.. tearing down Vancouver for Chinese and Asian restaurants and bubble tea” are referring to *businesses*, not people. Then it trailed off into a cute little side argument in which he claimed the only reason I thought he was racist was because *I* was racist (against him), and that my calling him racist was abusive. Okay, then.

I wanted to see if my gut reaction of “oh look at the adorable little racist” was off the mark, so I asked Ed for his opinion. It led to a discussion in which he agreed that the asshat was in fact a racist asshat, but he understood how he could make the distinction of “I’m talking about businesses, not people” (even if he didn’t agree). I countered with the following logic:

The English language is one of the most nuanced languages on the planet. There are an almost infinite number of ways you can say something. I know that I have a better handle on language than some people do, but it is not difficult to rearrange your thought to present it in a way that doesn’t make you look like a piece of garbage. The instant you boil your argument down to a descriptor that is generally applied to a race or group of people, it becomes if not outright racist, at least highly questionable. It’s a far smaller leap of logic to go from “oh, you don’t like Asian businesses, which have a mainly Asian clientele, so you must not like Asians” than it is “oh, you don’t like Asian businesses, probably because houses were torn down to accommodate those businesses, so you feel like your city is disappearing”.

I personally have an ongoing issue with Vancouver because the instant I find a new favourite restaurant, it’s replaced with a sushi joint. That statement isn’t racist. However, if I were to says that I’m mad because my favourite places are replaced by Japanese stuff, it takes on an entirely different context – it’s suddenly not wasabi I have a problem with, but “Japanese stuff” – which is a much broader category than just raw fish and rice. I actually love all things Japanese, with the only exception of sushi. And damnit, I still miss that grilled scallop and pineapple dish.

It’s entirely possible that the asshat in question did not intend to sound as utterly reprehensible and racist as he did, but he then doubled down on the argument, pulled the “no, you’re racist for calling me out” card, used the “I have Asian friends” line, and accused me of trying to censor his right to an opinion .. all of which are the hallmarks of a racist upset about being called a racist. Oh, and posting a picture of a For Sale sign written in both English and Chinese, with “Welcome to Vancouver?” on it. And that thing about driving down Kingsway – which has been a predominately Asian corridor for as long as I can remember – and saying “that’s the new Vancouver”. Yep. Not racist at all. My bad!

Anyway, my point here is twofold:

  1. Don’t be a racist asshat
  2. If you’re about to make a statement that directly references a race or group of people and you truly don’t mean for it to sound racist, consult a friend smarter than you are to ask for some wording help. Maybe use thesaurus.com. Or, you know, your head.

these fish are not racist. be like these fish.

holy infant neuroses stockpiled

I recently reached out to the internet to ask what the hell I should buy my analog, easily confused, doesn’t have any hobbies, doesn’t like going places, doesn’t really do things, complicated, one-true-diabetic (who isn’t diabetic) mother for Christmas. Many people stepped up and offered suggestions, which I appreciate – but can’t use, for the following reasons:

  • Soap: My mother hordes household supplies, and will buy absolutely anything from Shopper’s Drug Mart if it’s on the clearance shelf. She has soap, both normal and melamine-filled floral poison, coming out the wazoo. I’m sorry if you just pictured my mother’s wazoo. It was not my intention.
  • Bungee Jumping: See above re: doesn’t do things. Also, my mother is 73. She is frustrating, but I don’t mean it when I think she should jump off a bridge.
  • Slippers: This is actually my default gift. She’s specifically asked me not to buy her anymore slippers because she has so many pairs.
  • Tea: If you think I’m stubborn and stuck in my ways, you need to meet my mother. She drinks Red Rose, full stop. Nothing else.
  • Fancy Hand Cream: Often the poison soap my mother buys on ultra clearance from the drug store is part of a set that comes with hand cream. I assume it is made from ground-up children’s teeth.
  • A Toilet Paper Cabinet: My mother collects curbside furniture like I collect boys at LAN parties. There is no room in her place for additional furniture.
  • Note or Letter Writing Things: Pens come from the bank or doctor’s office, and she is still using up the scrap paper my dad used to bring home from work quartered and stapled together into notepads. I’m quite serious about this: my dad died 12 years ago and retired probably 25 years ago, but she’s still going through discarded CHEK TV memos from 1991.
  • Sony Handicam Hi-8: This is how horror movies start.
  • Cat Butt Fridge Magnets: .. this is actually a solid idea. I’d have to explain them to her, but she might get a kick of out them.
  • Post-Its: See above re: notepaper
  • Ridicule and Shame: This blog post.
  • Books: This idea has merit, but I hesitate to choose books for her. Maybe I’ll take her to a used book store and let her go hog wild with the romance and mystery novels.
  • Year-Long Subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club: My mother is already confused when I send her random packages from Amazon, thanks to an incident that included a pair of Webkinz headphones by mistake. She saved them for me, in case I needed them. I did not.
  • Uber Credit: My mother still drives, Uber does not exist in Victoria, and I do not use them because of their terrible policies. Also, my mother is analog. How do you order an Uber without a smart phone? You don’t.
  • Visa Gift Card: This is actually spot on, except it’s not a gift card: for Christmas, I’m giving my mother a “you’re a responsible young lady who has saved up money from babysitting, and we are giving you this card to use for purchases or emergencies. We trust you not to abuse it.” credit card to use for groceries or thongs or whatever it is 73-year-old women buy. It has a limit set, and I’ll just pay it off when she uses it. This will also replace the cheques I send her each month, because I am tired of having to order cheques for literally this sole purpose.
  • Lottery Tickets: I will save you the backstory if you do not already know it, but my mother has a gambling problem via lottery tickets and I hate them with every fibre of my being as they were the direct cause of many of the abuses I suffered while growing up. I would sooner buy my mother a smartphone and teach her how to use it than be party to her lottery dealings. You know how I said earlier that she has no hobbies? I lied. She does. It’s lottery tickets, and running lottery pools with dozens of different groups of people. While I’m secretly slightly impressed at how she keeps them all organized and going with no technology whatsoever, I still hate it.
  • A Tablet That Only Runs a Clicker Game: Even if I did absolutely everything: set it up, get it running, use a kiosk software that does not allow people to exit the app so she can’t accidentally delete the OS (or even worse, upgrade to Windows 10) .. she wouldn’t get it, or see the point. This is the woman who asks if I’m “faxing Ed” when I send him messages (that mostly consist of WHERE ARE YOU HELP ME OMG). The thought of her using a tablet .. no. We’re barely keeping the 7th seal closed; why would I voluntarily open the 6th?
  • Photo Album of my Instagram Posts: I actually really like this idea .. for someone else’s mom. My mother doesn’t care enough about my life or travels to want to see any of them. I’ve shown her a few things to gauge her response level, and she wanders off to pray to daddy by the 4th image. The attention span needed to be into anything I do is simply not there.
  • Tweezers: She’s never expressed interest or need in tweezers, but I’d buy them for her if she asked. Perhaps I will call her and say “hey mom do you have tweezers”. For anyone else, this would be a strange phone call.
  • A Subscription to Sports Illustrated (but keep the free football phone): Do they still DO that? While she does watch hockey, she has no interest in anything else (especially American football and bikini-clad women) so it would be money wasted. Also, I went through a LOT of trouble setting her up with a cordless phone that has caller ID and speed dial and a voice machine. A football has none of these things!
  • LuLaRoe: My mother does not wear leggings or bizarrely patterened cotton goods. She wears whatever she finds on super discount, or that I buy for her, in multiple layers.
  • Glitter: I don’t actually know how she would react to glitter. It’s just .. glitter. Essential for me, yes – but what would she do with it? Sprinkle it on the various shrines set up in her house? Accidentally start a fast-spreading fire by getting it too close to the dozens of lit candles? Great, now the house is burning down and she has to move in with me and I’m Lizzie Bordening all over the place. THANKS, KAREN. GREAT IDEA YOU HAD THERE. (<3)

Those are all the ideas that were submitted via Facebook, and we’re still at square one. I did order a few things off Amazon for her – I love Amazon gift shipping, it’s as delightfully impersonal as you can get while still showing effort – some treats for her cat Sam, and a whole bunch of flameless LED (yes, she calls them “LSD lights”) candles for her shrine. That should solve one of my problems – the flamability of cat hair and old food – but I don’t think it’s enough.

Maybe I could just forgive her for causing my gift-related neuroses when I was 10, which has led me to literally obsess to the point of tears every year that I am not gifting well enough and people will stop loving me because I didn’t get them multiple perfect gifts. How do you wrap that, though?

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all i want for christmas is ativan

i’ve got a theory

It’s definitely the bunnies. They’re working in conjunction with cheap vodka.

For years now, I’ve been operating under the theory that I am violently allergic to vodka. I avoided it at all cost, because quite frankly I like breathing and being drunk never really seemed to be a fair trade off. I rarely drink as it is, but on the rare occasion I cast off the shackles of common sense, I’ll still keep away from vodka. Because allergic. Makes sense.

Vodka is insidious though, and sometimes it found its way through my defences. In September, Ali took me to Art of the Table in Seattle so I could become better acquainted with gin. We hadn’t told Mitch the Batman (he’s actually Mitch the Barman, but autocorrect made him the caped crusader and who am I to argue) about my allergy, because the plan was All Gin All the Time. Unbeknownst to me, Mitch secretly vodka’d me because he thought I might like one drink over another. He was right – always trust Batman – but more importantly, I didn’t die or stop breathing. Was I cured? Is Mitch made of magic? Either way, I could drink vodka again! Hooray! New hobby!

Because I drink less than your average ten year old, I didn’t explore my newfound freedom until this past week. We went to an amazing Mexican cafe slash gay bar in Chelsea called the Rocking Horse, and I drank things. All good. Fast forward to tonight, when we went to a pop-up Star Wars bar in Soho. I had a vodka-based drink – just the one, and over three hours ago at the time of this writing – and I am drunk off my ass. This is not normal. I feel like I always did when I drank: face is neon red, I’m wobbly (more than usual), and my head feels simultaneously filled with bricks and attic insulation. The fuck? I had four to five times more to drink at AotT, and didn’t feel anywhere near this gross. What gives?

I think I’ve figured out the culprit: cheap vodka. The drink I had tonight wasn’t made with any sort of top shelf booze – it was a super sweet gimmicky sort of drink that hit me like a bucket of bolts. I think I’m reacting to either the vodka, or to the sugar – but either way, my head is pounding. I am not a fan. I think I’ll stick to what I know I can handle: drinks made by Mitch the Batman, and lots and lots of tequila*.

*: I’m still me. “Lots and lots” is like .. two. Two tequila.

sci-fi realist

I’ve always had a problem with the food replicators in Star Trek. I don’t understand how something can be made from nothing. Is it a hologram? Are you eating refracted beams of light? How does that sustain a lifeform? It doesn’t make sense. Maybe if there were entire planets dedicated to the production of, say, a nutrient-rich algae that could be made to look and taste like anything in the universe and all the replicator does is beam up an appropriately-sized chunk of moss and apply a portable holodeck image to it along with some sort of space drug that fools your taste receptors into thinking it’s truly a medium-rare earth cow steak .. but that’s just silly and complicated. So how is it done? What are they actually eating?

I’m much more of a realist. Yes, it’d be nice to feed the planet with instant food producers that can make anything imaginable, but that’s pure science fiction and at the very least, several centuries ahead of our time. I’d settle for something still futuristic, but a little more based in reality: a food filter.

In my head, a food filter is like a colander. It works by scanning the item(s) within the main chamber, and displays the contents on a touch screen. You can select one or more things on the list, and the filter will work to separate those items from the rest of the food. Example: a delicious batch of granola that has been tainted by horrible raisins. It is sticky and time consuming to pick the offending raisins out of the granola, but eating them is like eating garbage. What to do? Dump your bowl into the Food Filter™, select raisins on the screen, and voila! Your food is separated into the delicious and the awful, which you can then feed to someone you don’t like! Picky child? Filter the offensive food of the week right out of their meal! I’m eating a delicious yogurt with a granola mix-in, except some idiot assumed I wanted white chocolate chips with my breakfast. Wrong! I spent 15 minutes picking them out of my yogurt like a petulant three year old, but if I had a handy Food Filter™, I could have easily sorted the chips out and eaten my newly adult-breakfast-worthy yogurt without a care in the world. So simple!

I fully accept that we are nowhere near food replicators, if they’re even possible (Elon, get on that). However, we have scanners. We have colanders. We have a planet full of people with weird tastes. Let’s filter out all those things we hate, and get back to enjoying our food again!

I’d blame New York for making me weird, but let’s face it – I got to weird decades ago.

the toppings contain potassium benzoate

When we last saw our spunky* heroine, she was stressed the fuck out because of Many Things. Although it’s only been three days, enough of those Many Things have moved and warrant an update of some kind.

  • The completion date of our new place has been pushed out by over two months. That’s bad**!
  • Photographs for our listing are still being taken this week. That’s good!
  • The open house has to move: we’re now going to be listing Sparta in the new year. That’s bad!
  • Ed won’t have to deal with moving in the middle of his Metal Man Cruise. That’s good!
  • I am officially Annoyed to Fuck with my current 3-computer setup. That’s bad!
  • I got a work laptop, so I get my own laptop back for personal use. That’s good!
  • I accidentally bought a new 34″ curved ultra wide super HD monitor. That’s bad!
  • I’m selling one of the aforementioned three computers to make room for it. That’s good!
  • By the time we actually move, some of my stuff will have been in storage for almost ten months and I am vibrating with annoyance over this. That’s bad!
  • Mere hours after my plaintive post about work uncertainty I had a meeting that basically allieviated that stress until at least 2020. That’s really, really good!

So, yeah. Completely grumpy about the new completion date. It’s giving me a whole new exciting set of things to worry about and lose sleep over. On the other hand, the next few months should go by pretty quickly what with all the Fun Times and hand-made tortillas to eat. I’m super angsty, though. Patience is not my strong suit.

*: think less Mary Tyler Moore and more .. sticky

**: This may be a bit of an understatement, as I am literally flipping tables in and with my mind

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this says it all.