Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"But It's For Free, Ma'am"

What do you do when you are traveling around the country to a variety of locations where wireless, high-speed Internet is not readily available?

[Sidebar: Yes, dial-up Internet still exists. Our kids will look back and laugh on the days when they were little and could only get online if their computer was connected to a telephone cable. As a matter of fact, they'll laugh at the whole idea of land lines. What's that? You haven't unplugged yours yet? What are you waiting for!]

For us, the solution (both this year and last) was to subscribe to AOL for the short period we were on the road. All in all, not a bad solution...spend a few bucks, get the privilege of waiting and waiting...and waiting for pages to load (not to mention all the showers I took in hotels across America while pictures were being posted to the blog.)

But here's the kicker...we had to, upon returning home, cancel AOL. What's that you say? How big of a deal can that be? You simply go online to and find the "cancel AOL" link. Not as easy as it sounds...go ahead and try it...

While you're at it, go ahead and Google the phrase "cancel AOL." This is what I did in the midst of my frustration over not finding a straightforward way to cancel AOL electronically. What did I find?

A recording of a phone call of someone trying to cancel and listen here. Hilarious!

Story after story of people's horror stories...22 minutes to cancel...50 minutes to cancel...

So what happened to us? Or, should I say, to Desi, as the account was set up in her name. Based on our prior expectations, the phone call (yes, we gave in and did the cancellation over the phone) wasn't all that bad. 9 minutes and 43 seconds. (OK...that is pretty bad.)

The highlight? When the customer service representative tried to get Desi to keep her AOL account open in some capacity...any capacity. At one point, she turned down his offer of subscribing to something called "free AOL." Her negative response is what generated the reply, "But it's for free, Ma'am."

No, it's not free, if time is money...


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summer of Surgery

Well, here's Blue, fresh off today's surgery to remove a growth from her skin. It started out right before our trip, when Blue went to the vet to have a biopsy done on a bump on her right shoulder. It turns out the growth isn't cancerous (as we happily found out via voice mail upon arriving back at the rim of the Grand Canyon). But in the intervening weeks, the growth got noticeably bigger, so we decided that it had to go when we returned home.

Now if only there were a way to make an energetic little golden stop itching...


PS: After all of these diagnostics, procedures, and medicines, maybe it's time for doggie health!

Cover Art for "Magic"

This is for the aficionados...


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Kid Friendly Artist Known as Prince?

Last night, the four of us went to the NIH Film Festival. This is a great ten-night series of movies held on the lawn of the Strathmore and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, with all of the donated proceeds going to the NIH's children's charities. We've been going to this cool community event ever since it started a decade ago and have some funny little memories that we carry with us. Like the time that Z, who was maybe two years old, laid inside a pillow case motionless for the entire Wizard of Oz. We, of course, thought that he had slept his way right through it. But as soon "The End" flashed up on the screen, Z popped up and announced "I like that pink girl!"

Last night's movie was Happy Feet, an animated film about the emperor penguins of Antarctica. The movie itself was mediocre, Desi and I thought. Some cute characters and excellent animation, but a pretty disjointed (and hackneyed) story line.

But here was the surprising part, for us anyways. One of the main songs in the movie was Prince's "Kiss." You remember how it goes..."I just need your body, baby, from dusk till dawn" and "U can't be 2 flirty, mama, I know how 2 undress me (Yeah)." A funky song full of sexual a centerpiece of a children's movie! And this choice is indicative of how the mating ritual of the emperor penguins is portrayed throughout Happy Feet. There are lots of sinewy, gyrating movements. There is a particularly ostentatious looking male penguin surrounded by an adoring group of females who stand at his beckon and call. There are the slacker guy penguins who spend their time catcalling in the direction of available girls, who have no trouble dishing the trash talk right back. Great fun for the whole family!