Or the adventures of the Summer Solstice Girl in the Great White North

World Lab Animal Day

Just learned that today is  World Lab Animal Day.

World. lab animal. day.

What a sad world I live in that there is such think at World Lab Animal Day.

SaveTheChimps-Tammy_250

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how deeply I feel about animal welfare. I do not think we’re all that special that countless lives may be sacrificed so we can find new ways of healing ourselves.

What we are is really good with weapons. And we’re bigger. And we are amoral. And very fond of ourselves too. We think so highly of ourselves we don’t even flinch at the suffering, the torture we inflict on lab animals every day.

Being accepted at graduate school was a big deal for me. It was the culmination of a life long dream and hard work. And yet, I took a whole year and a half between acceptance and start.

Why? Because I would not settle for just any lab for my research. I would NOT do animal testing and that was final.

Oh, there were many interesting lines of research, many good labs. But they all tested in animals. Rats, mice, monkeys, rabbits.

Not a chance I would compromise my values.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I found a lab that not only did amazing research, but they did it on human cells in culture!

And! [for those who are in science] Because it was done in human cells, it was actually considered in vivo research instead of in vitro. Double win!

It was a short stint, my time as a graduate student. In the end, I did not become doctor doctor Petrilli *

But I will always have the satisfaction that, when the test came, I proved myself worthy of my ideals. I can hold my head up and walk away proud

Want an old-fashioned handwritten letter from moi?

Who likes to get stuff on the snail mail?

Real stuff, that is, not ads from local businesses and credit card companies.

If you do, you’re in luck cause you can get a shiny old-fashioned letter hand written by yours truly!

If you don’t mind giving me your snail mail address, of course.

I was supposed to do this a month ago.

Well, it goes back further than that, actually. Ever since I heard of  Ziggy Shortcrust and her lovely project of  Illustrated Letters, I’ve been wanting to do the same simply because I enjoy handwriting and I don’t do much of it these days.

Awesome coffee elf by Ziggy Shortcrust

Continue reading

Customer Service For Dummies*

* And by this, I don’t mean in the widely popular Stuff For Dummies Book Series sense but how to do customer service with dummies like me.

In case anyone had any doubts I cannot adult. This is the latest proof of it.

When I moved to Windsor, many scary things happened.

The scariest of all was that utilities were not included in the rent anymore.

All of a sudden, I had to take care of an electricity bill, a phone bill and an internet bill. Plus rent. Plus now I own a credit card. That’s five  freaking payments I have to make every month. FIVE. Of course, it was only a matter of time until I was going to fuck it up.

I tried to make things easier for myself and get everything to be automatically deducted from my bank account or my shiny brand new credit card.

No dice.

The most I could do for rent is an electronic payment via email. But that is still a win in book. At least I don’t have to write a stupid cheque every month.

If there is a way to sign up for automatic payments for the electricity bill, haven’t figured it out yet.

I was, however, able to set up automatic payments via credit card for my phone bill.

I thought I had done the same for my internet bill.

<mentalpause>Why can’t my phone carrier and my internet carrier be one and the same?

Yes, yes. I know the big carriers provide that. Thank you, but no thank you. By switching to a small carrier, I chopped my phone bill to exactly half, while going from 1GB of data/ month to unlimited data every month. So I am sticking with them</mentalpause>

Right. Payments. I managed to do O.K. for the months of January, February and March.

Come April and all hell brakes lose. On April 3rd, I realized I had still not payed rent. UGH. I rushed to my phone to make the electronic payment. I am supposed to get late fee charges starting the 2nd, I think. Late, schlate. In the big scheme of things, not a biggie, right? Right.

Wait, it gets better.

While on my way to Lansing, I got a bunch of text messages and emails from Wind letting me know I was late with my phone bill.

Say whaaaaaat?

I ignored them because they said that if you already have made a payment, you should ignore the message. Since I am all set up for automatic payments, my conscience was clear. Nonetheless, I kept getting emails about the same thing. Most annoying.

Fine. I decided to log in and find out what the hell was going on. Phone app kept telling me my postal code was wrong. Seriously?

I finally got tired and called them instead to make a phone payment. Which I did. Even got a shiny confirmation email for it.

Then I got yet another email saying I was still late with my bill. And this is where it gets embarrassing to the point of being painful.

A week and a half of a ping-pong match of emails between customer service and myself followed. I got more and more frustrated to the point of telling them to get their act together since I could not, for the life of me, understand how it was they could not find any trace of my payment when I was even giving them the confirmation number of said transaction. I mean, right? I am giving you the damn confirmation number. Why can’t you find the payment?

I was so frustrated I decided to forward them the confirmation email instead of just giving them the confirmation number.

That’s when I realized the enormity of my idiocy.

After a good five minutes of unsuccessful searches for that blasted email, it dawned on me I had been mistaken all the while: The confirmation email was for a payment to WIND while my ping-pong match was with Teksavvy.

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH

How does one apologize for such an idiotic mistake?

I did humbly try and explain. I did humbly apologize. Both in private and in public.

Teksavvy people were very gracious. Both in private and in public. Just as they have been all along in private. Looking back now, I am amazed they were so gracious all along when I so insisted I had made the payment already.

Whether they are masters in Customer Service/PR or they are indeed that gracious IRL, I’ve got to give them major props.

I -again, publicly and sincerely apologize for the grief I caused that poor accounting department person. They truly have the patience of Job.

I learned a valuable lesson two days ago. Several, actually.

1. I can’t adult. Not matter what, I just can’t trust myself anymore.

2. Always be kind, no matter how frustrated you are. Because you never know if the other person may actually be right.

3. Did I tell you I cannot adult?

At least we have Spring

These days I’m too overwhelmed to blog.

Although life in Windsor seems to be getting to be the way life is in any other place, I just can’t shake the sadness.

Satchie is still missing so that is a big contributor to it.

Also people never seem to amaze me. There is no limit to the level of disappointment people will give you. Plus I am easily disappointed too. Not precisely a good combination. But thing is, I am always honest. What you see is what you get, there are no surprises with me. I don’t put up a nice facade to make people like me only to let them discover the true me months later. And very stupidly, very naively, I think everybody is the same. I take everything at face value and therefore most of the time I end up hitting a wall. Awesome.

Also, still not ready to tell the account of the winter months. The pain is still to near.

But, two weekends ago, I gather enough courage to try and go to the States for the first time since that blasted day last December…. and they let me in! So I was in Lansing for 6 days.

The border agent was very clear that that doesn’t mean I’m good to cross every time. There is still a chance some time or another they will send me back again. And they’ll hassle me every single time. But it is progress nonetheless.

On the other hand, Spring is here! Soon there will be flowers all around. One thing about Windsor is that it is much warmer than Ottawa. That’s good.

Hope everybody is enjoying spring already or that it soon gets to your corner of the world. I may not visit your blogs but I still think of all of you.

Pretending I can still climb trees

Pretending I can still climb trees

Just to show you that I haven’t forgotten how to smile…

Good Ole Customer Service

I met with my new friend Pam for coffee this morning. We each had a lovely caramel mocha coffee. No cake, though. That is sad.

But! we have a great time, nonetheless.

Yesterday, we had talked of walking there from my place. The day started wet and cold so we decided to drive instead. Since we did that, I imposed on Pam’s kindness to take me to the pet store in order  to get food for J & K, since they had none at home and breakfast had been meager. They wouldn’t be happy if I showed up empty-handed.

She took me to PetValu on Huron Church Road. They didn’t have the brand I used to get in Ottawa so I asked the lady there for some advice. She was super helpful as I was getting lost looking all the different brands they carry there. Like, bend over backwards super helpful. She even went online and checked my preferred brand to learn the ingredients of it and then she together we chose one that was similar to it and wouldn’t break my wallet (is that how the expression goes?).

Then I remembered I still needed the tags for the kitty collars so I chose them and waited while she engraved them (thank you Pam, you’re an angel). She made Jay’s first and gave it to me to check it for spelling and such. It was all good so she went ahead and made miss Kaylee’s which I didn’t bother checking because I figured it’d be as fine as the first one.

I got home, fed the kitties – first things first, right?- and when they were done having their treat, I got their collars to put the tags in them. When I got to K’s collar, I realized that her name was missing a letter and my phone number was missing a digit.

Not a biggie.

I called the store and told them my plight. The lady asked me if I could go pick a new one up after apologizing for it. I said yes but just didn’t know when because I usually rely on friends to give a ride since I don’t own a car. She asked if there was a PetValu that was closer to me than the Heron Church one. I said I wasn’t sure cause I still didn’t know my way around Windsor very well, after moving here from Ottawa.

THEN she asked me where I lived and when I told her, she proceeded to tell me she’d make a new tag and then she’d drop it off this evening after work.

Now, THAT’S customer service.

Thank you, PetValu lady for making my life that much easier today, when you didn’t have to.

Replacing the tag was expected, of course. Being so nice about it was definitely lovely. Going the extra mile to help a person with obvious mobility issues is just above and beyond anyone’s job so I am very thankful for it.

So nice to know there are still people that care about what they do!

By the way, Geekboy and I went to the same petValu on Christmas Eve to get Jay a christmas treat (miss Kaylee was still at the Humane Society, being unbeknownst to all of us she’d become part of our family). There was a different employee that evening but they were still super nice and cheerful. Guess which pet store has become OUR pet store.

That’s my feel good story for today.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

March the 25th

 Today is the birthday of the super-amazing-kickass-ridiculouslygorgeous-insanelytalented-businesswoman daughter of mine.

And for the third time in life, we’re in a different city.

The first time, she was 11 and I was in Bogota, for my Molecular Biology internship after finishing med school.

The second time, she was between ages 13 – 16 and I was here in Canada while she remained in Colombia with her brother, waiting for her Canadian papers.

This time around, we are both in Canada but I am in Windsor and she is in Montreal/Ottawa. I just got off the phone with her. She told me she’s sad we’re not together on her birthday.

I am sad too

I went to bed last night thinking I was not going to be able to jump on her bed while singing the happy birthday song loudly to wake her up like I always did. Or put her birthday card and present by her coffee cup (full with delicious Colombia coffee I had just made for her, of course) on the table for her to find when she came to have her birthday breakfast.

I know that this is how life is supposed to be. Children grow up and then they leave the nest.

I know I was very lucky to be able to do it for so long.

I know she needs to spread her wings and I am very happy she’s doing it now.

In a way, I am happy I am here because if I were still in Ottawa, she’d still be with me and I know I was holding her back. You see, even though she had had her own place for a while, which is normal and healthy, she had moved back in with me when I got very sick back in 2012 so she could help with my recovery. Sure, we had great times together. We traveled, we laughed, we cooked – okay, fine, SHE cooked and I ate. We watched movies. We worked together. We entertained friends. And I did get better.

But she’s a grown up woman now and she needs to live her life.

So, happy birthday daughter. I know you’ll have a wonderful time in Montreal today. Laugh. Drink. Eat cake. Dance. Savour every moment because life is but an instant and in the end, all we have is our memories and the love we gave and received in return!

Life Should Be Celebrated 2

Footnote:

The phone conversation didn’t end up in a sad tone. We did laugh and I did sing her the birthday song and wish her a happy birthday. Now she’s off to enjoy the day, as it should be.

You heard it

Warning: what follows is highly politically incorrect. If you are easily offended by either religious jokes, by swearing like a sailor or both, you should stop reading here. You’ve been warned. Please don’t give me crap on the comments for my usage of foul language or my disrespect for religion. Thank you.

Yes, yes. I do have a very weird sense of humour. I also have a very special relationship with [my] god and religion(s).

What you are about to read, happened in its entirety, all via IMs. The American side of Geek Squared has given me permission to reproduce it here. This is just to show you the kind of grief he has to put up with. Bless the geek.

GeekGirl: Ha! La senza has $4 St pat’s panties. Oh sorry. St panty’s

GeekBoy: That’s funny

GeekGirl: yeah

GeekBoy: And now I’m picturing you in them – not good for my productivity

GeekGirl: hehehehe

GeekBoy: So here’s a study in contrasts. [some school’s crap. One teacher’s failure to accommodate one of the Sidlets’ special needs. Lack of sympathy for said Sidlet’s struggles. Another teacher’s outstanding and compassionate approach to it.]

GeekGirl: Oy. are they not compelled by law to give accommodations? And what does the principal have to say about that?

GeekBoy: I’m going to ask those very questions next opportunity I get/make.

GeekGirl: Be angry, though. Just like I need to be less angry and confrontational, you need to work on being more angry and confrontational. Don’t be sad for her. Be angry at those who discriminate and stigmatize her. And spit it on their faces. Also, give the [understanding, professional teacher] a hug for me

The beauty of sending them to a stupid private school is that as a parent you have A LOT MORE SAYING than at a public school. Use that to your advantage. Fuck being meek. The meek will inherit shit

um… what was that bit about me being less angry and confrontational?!! um.. er… yeah, that

GeekBoy: hahahahahahaha

GeekGirl: Anyway, didn’t Jesus himself say he hadn’t come to bring order and peace or some shit like that? Me neither. They sent me for the complete opposite [of order and peace]. Jeez. Can you imagine my judgement meeting with God?

God: Um, yeah, what the hell was up with all that quoting of my son for your shit disturbing purposes?
Claudia: Er… yeah, about that…. wasn’t it hilarious, though?
God: [quietly smiles Claudia]

Smites

SMITES

DYAC

GeekBoy: Lost my connection!

GeekGirl: Ugh. Don’t tell me you missed all my fine jokes

GeekBoy: Hopefully I’ll be there for your judgment

GeekGirl: Oh, It’ll be a riot

GeekBoy: Either to help your cause or to watch

GeekGirl: Alternate ending

[Both God and Claudia roll on the floor laughing their asses off]
GeekBoy: Hahaha

GeekGirl: Or you know, God Smites me, then he resuscitates me and say, just kidding, and then we both proceed to roll on the floor…

Holy cow, I’m on a roll today

I have to blog that shit

GeekBoy: You really are. Was just going to say that

And that my friends, is business as usual at chez Geek Squared! Poor GeekBoy.

I’ll leave you with this: Purim, of all the religious holidays, my all time favorite.

Chag Purim Sameach

Chag Purim Sameach

PS: I know some people take their religion very seriously. I don’t mean any disrespect to them. I firmly believe that everybody is free to believe and live in whatever way makes them happy. Me, I don’t take myself seriously at all.

5,000 years

I can live 5,000 years and never understand people.

Geek & Sundry, a page I follow on Facebook, posted this picture, which I found very disturbing.

Naturally, me being me, I immediately posted this:

Um… How is killing innocent animals just to see how they work inside geeky?

To which someone replied:

Science is geeky. Biology is science. Dissection teaches about how things live (biology). Therefore dissection is geeky.

And that, my friends, makes me very sad. Yes, you can say I am a dreamer but I know I am not the only one (on top of Spanish, English and Italian, I am perfectly fluent in movies and songs quotes). But how is it even remotely possible that people can still think dissection ==> science ==> geeky.

As you can imagine, I had to reply.

Two things:
1. It irks me to think about all those “Natural philosophers” as they called themselves, doing the vivisections depicted here. Yes, way back when “scientists” opened the poor animals when th
ey were still alive in order to see how bodies work. These knitted animals are a perfect representation of the original illustrations on old biology [zoology, back then] books, which of course were faithful reproductions of what the illustrator saw on the tray. These knitted reproductions are so perfect they even have the pins to hold the animals down.
2. I am a medical doctor and a molecular biologist. I am as scientific as scientists come. Science runs in my blood. I was a geek and a nerd way before being a geek and a nerd became cool. And I am telling you. Dissection doesn’t teach biology. Dissection teaches torture and murder. Why is it okay to kill animals just to show kids how things live? Anything that needed to be learned, has been learned. There is no need to kill any more poor animals. Even as a seventh grade student I refused to kill any frogs in my biology class because anything I needed to learn I could learn it from the books. As a med student, I refused to kill a dog for my Physiology lab. Again, anything I needed to learn was already in the books and we also now have computer animations to teach new students.
 
I apologize if I appear patronizing or confrontational. I don’t have anything against you. But I have everything against animal cruelty. I am all for ethical treatment of animals. Even for my PhD research, I chose a lab and a project that did not do animal research. And I am telling you – and anyone else that cares to listen: Dissection is NOT geeky, says the geekiest of all the geek girls on the planet!
I have no hope I will change anyone’s mind with my little soapbox moment.
As I said to one of my son the philosopher’s colleagues the other day: I am both a humanist and a misanthropist, if you can believe it. The funny thing was that he not only could but he did. Believe it, that is. Even quoted another philosopher who wrote about the very same dichotomy. Of course, I should have seen that coming. There was bound to be a philosopher who had philosophized about it already. I suppose I should add to it that I am also a philanthropist, sans the money part, obviously.
Long story short, I both love and hate humans. I care about people and their suffering. Why, I became a doctor, precisely because I wanted to heal people. But by George I hate people too. The things they do. The hurting they cause. The damage. The carelessness. And the stupid. THE STUPID.
I can live 5,000 years and never understand people.

Silent Scream pt. 2

image

I am not cutting, i am not worthless, I am not ashamed, I am not offended, I am not timid and I am not victimized – at least I don’t think so. But I sure am all of the others.

Silent Scream

Had the worst nightmare ever. The viciousness of it is mind-blowing.

I was trapped in it for a long long time too.

I had to fight for what felt like hours just to wake up and that is not even what made it vicious. The horror of it is unspeakable and as such I can not, will not utter the words.

I now lie in bed.

I am tired and disoriented but I don’t dare close my eyes. I can feel I am not free of the clutches yet. The room is still moving and I still feel like I am floating.

The bedding was soaking wet when I woke up, of course. It is still damp and all that made my hips very cold so I am in more pain now but I don’t mind. Perhaps the pain will keep me anchored in the awake world.

I am still terrified, nonetheless.


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