I just wasted four hours of my life trying repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to mail my sister's birthday present.
Woke up at noonish today. Had I but known it, I was already screwed. I got dressed, wrapped Lara's present and boxed and addressed it, grabbed a quick bit of bread and cheese, and took the bus down to the Post Office. It used to be open 10-2 on Saturdays.
Well, now it's only open 9-12. And there are no UPS stores in downtown St Paul, not a one.
Asked a random postal employee who was passing by, "Are there any post offices around here still open?" He told me to try the one at the airport, "They're open 24/7".
So, about an hour bus ride to the airport. Get there, no sign of post office. Ask the security guard. he says "Oh, it's that building over there, you have to go around to the left."
Wel, it IS that building over there - but y'all cahnt get thar from hyeah. In fact, there is NO pedestrian access - none, zip, nada. If you have a car you can get to it via the freeway - but if you don't have a car you're screwed. Unless you want to play Frogger across four lanes of freeway. Obviously I was not the first frustrated person to be tempted to make the attempt, as there were security cameras and at least five signs saying "PEDESTRIAN CROSSING PROHIBITED BY ORDER OF POLICE" in multiple languages.
This is so typical of modern America. It's just assumed that of course everyone has a car. And a cellphone. And broadband internet. And if you don't, well, obviously you're not worth our time.
Well, traffic was too fast and continuous to even consider crossing, so one last attempt. Being at the airport already, the Mall of America is only a few minutes away by bus. Maybe there might be a UPS store there? They have just about everything else...
Nope. No dice. You can buy gifts at the Maul, but ya can't ship them.
SO, at that point I gave up and spent another hour-plus busing it back to my house. I'll have to take the package in to work Monday and spend my lunch half-hour running it down to the UPS store there (at this point I say "screw the Post Office, obviously they don't want my money"). And it'll be late.
I should have boxed it up Wednesday night, to mail over lunch Thursday, or Thursday night to mail Friday. But every night this week I've come home from work just so wiped out that I crash without bothering to eat dinner or undress. It's becoming more common than not, which worries me a bit, but this week was especially bad, probably because I've been recovering from the Sunday coffee.
On Sunday Paul, whose brother Brian used to rent a room from me, came over to pick up some books I was loaning him about database design (he's building a Web-accessible database for his motorcycle shop). We went out to lunch to a Thai restaurant Paul knew of, and he recommended I try the Thai coffee. So I ordered one cup. It was a very small cup, which should have warned me. Apparently Thais brew coffee the way Arabs do, boiling it down to a concentrated sludge and then serving it in small doses, adding massive amounts of cream and sugar to bring it back to drinkability. It was OK, but nothing to write home about, like a slightly bitter hot chocolate. I didn't notice any immediate effects, but I spent the entire night awake (I did actually get some things done, including assembling some shelves and doing multiple loads of dishes and laundry). Monday morning I skipped work (using one of my precious few vacation days) because I was at that dreamlike point of being way too tired to think straight but way too wired to sleep. It was late Monday night before I could force myself to sleep, and it wasn't until Friday that I stopped yawning at work.
So, new resolutions:
No Thai coffee, ever again.
Don't bother trying to get anything mailed over the weekend.
Christmas with Mom, my sister Lara, Lara's husband Jay, and their son Gordon went quite well. Gordon is now "FIVE" as he frequently reminded us. He did a painting of Spiderman at school/daycare that's really quite impressive, considering that it was done by a five-year-old with fingerpaints - he even got Spidey's fingers in the web-shooting pose. We made a gingerbread train (like a gingerbread house but locomotive-shaped), and went out to see a couple of old estates/museums, Maymont and Agecroft. Maymont was closed, unfortunately, but we wandered around the extensive grounds and had a good time. Agecroft is a 15th-century Tudor estate that was sold at auction, disassembled, shipped over from England, and reassembled in Virginia (!). Agecroft was open so we got to take the tour (quite interesting) as well as wander the gardens (much smaller than Maymont but divided up by tall hedges so that you don't see it all at once but have to wander around and explore from "room" to "room", which makes it seem bigger than it is).
Current reading material :
Kage Baker, The Sons of Heaven - the conclusion to her Company series about immortal time-travelling cyborgs.
Winsor McKay, Early Works IV - the 1907-1908 run of Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, including the Saturday double-size strips, plus various editorial cartoons. Quite surreal, few authors do dream-logic as well as McKay.
Tove Janssen, Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, volume 2 - unfortunately, there's no indication of just how many volumes there are, I've only been able to find 1 and 2 so far. Is there a 3? a 4? I can definitely see the influences this early 1950's comic had on Walt Kelly's Pogo and Jeff Smith's Bone - all three are highly idiosyncratic, humorous but with some social-commentary sting, and aimed as much or more at adult audiences as for children.
Next on the reading list:
Michelle Sagara, Cast in Shadow - first book in a series (the other two so far are Cast in Courtlight and Cast in Secret) about Kaylin, a street-kid turned policewoman in a fantasy city ruled by elves and dragons. I started reading this by picking up the 3rd book at the library, was able to get the 2nd through interlibrary loan, and finally splurged and bought the 1rst book (I had a coupon).
The rest of the symptoms are gone, but the cough still remains. It's a lot less frequent now, but still quite deep/harsh when it comes.
Don stopped by and took me out for shopping and dinner. I'm quite grateful, as it allowed me to buy several things I needed (such as new jeans) but I just hadn't felt up to spending 3 hrs riding/waiting for the bus.
I did have to miss the monthly singing group (for the 2nd month in a row) because of the cough. I really hope I get over this by the time of the next meeting at the end of January. (This month's was early because of Xmas.)
Normally this stuff lasts about 4-5 days and then goes away. This time it's decided to hang around longer, which worries me somewhat - as does the fact that for a few days it seemed to be getting into my eyes (painfully oozing and crusty), which hasn't happened before. However, because of the holiday I've been unable to get in to see the doctor. The clinic nurse on the phone attempted to prescribe a "z-pack" for me - essentially a 3-day course of antibiotics, generally ineffective against this (probably viral) crud but it might at least knock out any secondary infections - I've had this develop into pneumonia once and that was Not Fun. Unfortunately, I don't know what pharmacy she called the Rx in to, but it WASN'T the one she told me - I spent three hours yesterday freezing my ears off on various buses (today was our first actual snowfall of the year) and when I got there I was told "We have no record of any such call." Of course getting myself thoroughly chilled didn't help the cough any...
So, I'll be missing the usual Thanksgiving dinner with my friends Don and Dan, and probably the monthly singing group this coming Saturday as well. I just hope I can drag myself in to work on Monday, since I am once again out of sick leave.
On a more positive note, I recently acquired a couple of new CDs, both of German bands. One is called Corvus Corax (which is the scientific name of the European raven). How to describe them? It's as if someone took Carmina Burana, re-scored it to be played by a Scottish bagpipe-and-drum corps, then took the resulting score (along with all the bagpipes and drums) and the original lyrics, dumped the whole mass into the arms of an East German metalpunk band (!!!), and told them "Play this as loud and hard as you can." So you've essentially got a bunch of spike-haired grunge-rockers playing medieval instruments very loud and very fast while jumping around screaming the lyrics to 12th-century Latin love songs. Bizarre and yet, strangely listenable once you turn down the volume a bit. The other band is Faun, who bill themselves as "Pagan Medieval Renaissance Folk". I'd say they're a little harder-edged than that, but not nearly as much as Corvus Corax - say, one part Corax to three parts Loreena McKennit. Apparently this "medieval-punk" fusion is very popular in Europe right now, especially in Germany.
Wow, has it really been that long?
Just saw Ratatouille, finally (missed it in the regular theaters, had to wait for it to come around to the cheap theater). I want to see it again. Excellent movie, kid-safe, some nice characterization and gorgeous food. Definitely a movie to make you hungry.