Archive | October, 2013

A glimpse into the future where my life has gone to the dog?

While I was in Colorado I had an opportunity to visit Vallecito Alsatians and meet Bonnie Lee, a special dog that they are dedicating to being trained as a hearing dog.  I’ve known about her for a while but I wondered how she would react to meeting me for the first time, and whether we might truly be meant to be together as man and dog.

Here’s a video of her after we interacted for about an hour.  There’s no sound but I gave a couple of commands, namely to have her lick my hand and sit, which she responded to almost immediately.  I was hoping we would connect well, but I never expected this level of affection, sweetness and attention.

I haven’t had a dog in my life in over 13 years, and even then it was never MY dog.  But I always dreamed about having one some day, particularly a wolfish looking dog, where we’d live together in a cozy cabin deep in the mountains, watching her lazily sleep in front of a warm fire, while I sit back in my easy chair and enjoy a hot cup of morning coffee.  Snow drifts to and fro outside my window, and a kind of peace settles into my home, knowing everything is right with the world.  It was only a dream, but for a moment Bonnie made it a reality, and showed me that despite the odds I faced, anything really was possible.

It’ll be a year though before I’ll know for sure, which for me is a good thing because I definitely need that time to get my life in order and start learning how to properly care for a dog and keep it healthy and happy.  God only knows I have my work cut out for me.  O_O

Bonnie Lee - American Alsatian

Sweet Bonnie Lee takes a moment to relax.

 

How Halloween explains in a way why I’m still single

Her:  So Frank, what are you going to dress up as on Halloween?

Me:  Myself.  I’m scary enough as it is.

Joke aside, because of my Christian beliefs I actually don’t celebrate Halloween.  I believe people with the same views represents, oh, .00000000000000001% of the population if I had to guess, with the exception of those zany members of the Watchtower Society.

So how does that explain why I’m single?  I think because it exemplifies just how fringe I am.  I don’t begrudge Christians in particular who still celebrate Halloween, and still get along just fine with most people with opposing viewpoints even when there’s a fake butcher knife sticking out of their heads while they beg, BEG me for candy (and this is just the adults).

But it’s one thing to forbear with a disparity in beliefs and perspectives when you’re dealing with acquaintances and friends, and maybe even family members.  It’s quite another though when that disparity exists between you and someone you share your bed with.  This is a bigger problem for me than it is for others because I’m a nonconformist with a perspective on life that very few people can relate to.  For those who are the byproduct of a monolithic culture in which they and everyone else around them all believe the same things, behave the same way, and root for the same teams, they have little issues meeting and marrying those who are just like them.  A Mormon in Utah for example will have no trouble meeting and pairing off with a Mormon girl.  For all our talk about individuality, the truth is the vast majority of us are all like sheep, ready to conform to whatever subculture we happen to be immersed in.  By being part of the herd, you reduce the risk of being isolated and alone, as well as the complications of trying to find a significant other you can relate to and call your better half.  Everyone in the same herd gets along pretty well, as long as everyone believes and behaves exactly the same.

Because God help you if you start to form a dissenting opinion the rest of the herd may not agree with…

So if I were to meet a girl, even one who is sugar and spice and everything nice, but who failed to understand me and why I believe the things I do (and vice versa), I’d suspect things just wouldn’t work out between the two of us and break it off before it started to get serious.  Really, who wants to be with someone who is incapable of being able to see who you truly are as a person and where you’re coming from?  That’s how we connect and form bonds after all.

I asked some of the people close to me who are married and about the nature of their relationships with their spouses, and the nature is such that they know each other so well they’re able to complete each other’s thoughts.  They may fight and argue and whatnot, but ultimately they are both on the same wavelength.  They’re in sync, which is why even when there’s friction in the relationship, it doesn’t threaten the bond they have with each other.

As opposed to me, who seems to be out of sync with the entire universe.  If God could make mistakes, I’m sure my existence would be the best proof of it.

And yes, part of this ability to form such a bond happens with time I’m sure, but much of it I believe has to do with having a pre-existing kernel of insight into the other person’s mind, something I believe can come supernaturally or simply as a result of having similar walks in life.  Even if you don’t know someone very well, you just GET who they are, and hence you’re drawn to them.  Such is the plight of human nature where we are naturally drawn to the familiar rather than the unfamiliar.  Science describes this as assortative mating, and by and large it’s probably an accurate process of how most of us meet our significant others.

But I am a glitch in the Matrix, an anomaly, a… special snowflake if you will.  There is none like unto me, and hence I may indeed be doomed (or blessed depending on how you look at it) to a life of solitude.

Is it possible that I’m being too trivial though?  So what if the perspectives and beliefs between myself and that of a potential spouse didn’t perfectly align.  Did that HAVE to spell automatic doom for the relationship?  Aren’t there other factors to consider?  Wouldn’t true love conquer all?  More importantly, even if we were initially on different wavelengths, isn’t it possible that they could eventually converge together somewhere down the road?  Well, anything’s possible, but how likely would that be?  I can’t imagine the odds for success walking hand in hand with someone who finds your thought process completely alien to their own would be very favorable.  People don’t really change, so if they fail to understand you now, it would require a leap of faith to believe that could change later on.  Maybe, depending on the right circumstances that leap would be warranted.  But it hasn’t happened to me yet.

Is it me, or is eBay turning into a veritable nest of epic FAIL?

I’ve been using eBay for 13 years and through all those years I’ve enjoyed a perfect feedback rating, although I think that’s going to be changing soon.  It seems inevitable that some choochwagon on there is going to snipe me with a negged up feedback, especially given how openly hostile eBay has become towards sellers.

I noticed this in some part last year when I went to sell my iPhone, and despite a history of positive feedback, the guy goes AWOL on payment, so I filed a non-payment dispute, to which he pleaded that I let it slide, because he was unable to pay due to Hurricane Sandy breaking his PayPal account.

Me:  ……………..

No, I’m not gonna let it slide you little deadbeat monkeyslut.  eBay added a strike on his account and I got back a refund for listing fees, but that was over a week of my time wasted.  Fortunately I was able to sell the phone to someone else for about the same amount of money.

So this year, it’s time for another round of eBay funsies so I can offload my old iPhone, camera and my MacBook.  I list my phone first, and I start getting inquiries from people begging to buy the phone for X amount of money, none of who were in the U.S.  One was from Romania, sent me an offer in broken English, another from… I can’t even pronounce the name of the country, and one more guy from Indonesia named Ahmed Aboobie Mahfoodzzz or something, who wanted to know if I could disable the GPS on my iPhone so it couldn’t be tracked.

Cosby Face Palm

Does anyone in THIS country actually use eBay anymore?   I feel like I’m trading in a marketplace on Tatooine now.

Anyway, I ultimately sell my iPhone for a healthy $500 to Achmed Smackmed (or something) who thankfully only took a day to pay me.  I’m psyched over how much I was able to sell the iPhone 5 for… until I see eBay’s fee:  $50.

Dude.

And then on top of that I get docked with the transaction fee on PayPal, not 2.9% like they usually charge mind you, no it’s 3.9% because Achmed Smackmed is verified but NON-U.S. PayPal member, so the sale was actually an international one, despite the shipping address being in FLORIDA.  All in all, eBay just helped themselves to 14% of my profit.

DUDE.

Oh, and let’s not get started on my camera, which also sold for a nice chunk of change, except this guy is also taking his sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet mommy time in paying up, despite the fact that he’s got a good feedback rating as a seller as well as a buyer.  So now I have another non-payment case opened up and will have to sit on my laurels for a week before I can re-list it or ship it out.  I can’t even leave negative feedback on a buyer anymore, the best I can do is complete a payment dispute and have a strike added to their record, a process that apparently does nothing to slow down the rate of deadbeats and procrastinating buyers on eBay.

And through all this, if the guy DOES pay (albeit not in a timely fashion), the dispute is closed and he can STILL leave neg feedback, even if as a seller I did exactly what was in my right to do (opening a dispute grants some degree of protection and ensures you get a refund on your listing fees).  Yep, they can get all obnoxious and huffy on your feedback page:  “This seller couldn’t wait 2 months for me to pay him.  SO unreasonable!!!  THUMBS DOWN”

And of course all I can do is watch as they gleefully add a black mark to my otherwise perfect feedback record just because they can, and yet the only feedback I can give them in return is a positive one.  That’s why every eBay buyer from here to Calcutta (no matter how deadbeat or scammy they are) has a 100% positive feedback rating.  Ridiculous.

Too bad Craigslist has all them serial killers hanging about on there, or I’d totally sell my junk on there instead.  Oy.

Aside

I will not order the new iPad Air, I will not order the new iPad Air…

I will not order the new iPad Air, I will not order the new iPad Air, I will not order the new iPad Air, I will not…

*breaks down, puts up old iPad on eBay*

Him: OMG, Frank is gonna spend all his money on yet another overhyped Apple product, somebody stop him!!!

Frank (imitating Scotty): But KEPTIN, I have to do it, the new iPad is 0.5 pounds lighter!!! If I don’t get it, my whole geek could blow!!

Him: STOP IT, IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!! THERE ARE OTHER PATHS, LIKE THE NEW SURFACE PRO!!!

Frank: *foams at mouth* Must… Get… Apple… Must… *convulses into seizures*

How I surprisingly got a date out of chatting up a hot girl on a flight back home

Finally got back yesterday after wrapping up a 16 day road trip!  (I’ll start recapping with photos and posts as the week goes on.)  I had a pretty awesome time, but towards the end I was ready to go home.  As much as I truly love the road (and Colorado) it still remains a place I can only visit, not a place I can truly call home (yet).

So I arrive at Denver airport, check in my bags, and eventually make my way to my window seat.  While I was moving through the plane I was thinking, “I’ve been on dozens of flights now and I never, EVER wind up sitting next to a hot girl.  EVER.”  I see some ugly dude standing over the aisle seat in my row and I’m like, “Yep, here we go, same old crap.”

But… he was standing there to let people pass and winds up moving to the row in front of me.  Whew.  I get into my seat and patiently await to see what Michael Moorish 500 pound creature out of Lovecraft’s books would end up sitting next to me.

It never materialized.  Instead, this GORGEOUS looking girl takes the aisle seat next to me, and it turns out no one had booked the middle seat between us, so we had the entire row to ourselves.  And I’m like… “Did that really just happen?”

After griping not 5 minutes earlier about never having the random good fortune of sitting next to a beautiful woman on the plane, lo and behold here she was, with the extra bonus of having a seat between us free for added comfort and minimal distractions.  It was like God had heard my complaints and presented a GOLDEN opportunity for me, all wrapped up in a nice red bow, and was now challenging me, “Here’s what you wanted Frank, now what are you going to do about it?”

So what did I do?  Nothing.

It was the curse of the introvert.  Instead of seizing the moment, I was calculating probabilities in my head, exploring every conceivable outcome that could arise from my talking to her.  Was she married, was she single, is she friendly, or would she rudely cut me off, would I even be able to hear her over the roaring of the jet engines, or would I completely embarrass myself, was she from Colorado or New York, and if Colorado how could that work, and if New York would she have that typical New York attitude, was her boyfriend/husband actually on the plane too and just in another seat, and would he curbstomp me for daring to speak to her after we de-boarded?

The more I thought and envisioned all the possible scenarios, the worse the knot in my stomach started to get.  Meanwhile I had to exercise serious restraint from openly admiring her exotically feminine figure, stealing a glance every now and then, but otherwise being a gentleman (I hope).  Of course it didn’t help that she would occasionally stretch her arms out, accentuating every gorgeous curve of her body as she did so.

Sweet mother of merciful goodness…  (I reach out and twist the A/C to full blast…)

I was still cognizant of all the ridicule I had received in a previous post about befriending women in public, the consensus by feminist trolls being that I was teh creepy creeps giving off teh creepeh vibes, and that under no circumstances should I ever smile, approach or talk to women in public, lest it be considered a form of stalking and verbal rape.  The Feminist Imperative has spoken.  So let it be written…

And the truth was, I honestly didn’t want to bother a girl if she didn’t want to be bothered.  But it was always hard to tell what their state of mind was.  The safe route of course is to simply not talk to anyone, EVER, and being an introvert that would have suited me just fine (while making all the feminists happy by acknowledging my place at the bottom of the totem pole and not polluting the air they breathe with proof of my existence).

But then I knew, if I didn’t say something, ANYTHING, I was going to regret this lost opportunity, just as I’ve come to regret all the other lost opportunities over the years.  Whereas before the old Frank would have shrunk further into his seat and buried himself in his book or iPad, the new Frank decided, “You know what, I am getting TOO OLD for this S@#$.  CARPE DIEM.”

I gently tap her shoulder.  “I was just wondering, are you from Colorado or New York?”

Her soft, expressive face brightened at my opening question, and off we went, chatting about this and that.  I tried to absorb the tremendous relief that arose from her willingness to talk to me, but my stomach continued to be in vice-like twist, pain receptors going off almost everywhere I had sensation.  It was literally like trying to move a muscle that I hadn’t moved in years.  I soldiered on though.  No more regrets.

As our plane made its descent I asked her out for coffee since she lived in Brooklyn, to which she said yes (?!?!?) and afterward we traded contact info and emails.

VICTORY!

Not so much that she said yes, but in forcing myself to turn over a new leaf, to resist the old patterns of withdrawing and letting opportunities like these slide past me.  In a way I think it’s part of getting older.  You realize time is not in fact on your side, and life will only offer you X amount of chances to meet, befriend and perhaps find the person you’re meant to be with.  I decided I would rather go through life knowing even though I may have failed, at least I gave it my all, than to say I failed because I never tried at all.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must commence the fine art of strutting.

Cool mice strutting on red carpet

Using the rock solid BRX travel bag – #BRXtravelgear

Note: This post is a followup of a compensated social shopper insights study I performed for Collective Bias. Originally published in 2011.

Because I was compensated for purchasing a BRX Expedition by Briggs and Riley, I used this rolling duffle bag for the trip rather than the Eagle Creek I purchased a while back.

Suitcase or Luggage in Denver

Standing tall in Denver…

I hate to say it, but the BRX was a pretty handy bag to carry around. It’s much lighter than the Eagle Creek, and the duffle handle makes it easy to carry up and down the stairs, as well as easily heft it on top of baggage stands and beds. I did use the Pack-It folders from Eagle Creek though so I could cram as much junk in there as I could, then it was off I went to the Rockies.

Suitcase on stairs

This is the before picture. The after picture shows me sliding down the stairs using my BRX as a sled. The hotel owners were not pleased.

Despite the fact that this is a bag designed to endure an African safari expedition, it was assuring to know that it could survive something even more grueling: tagging along with me.

I’ll give you an example of just how accident prone I can be: I’m in Telluride, Colorado, rolling my BRX, a bag of laundry, two winter coats, and two bottles of soda on top to my car after checking out, because I’m too lazy to make more than one trip, ya know? So I’m wheeling away in the parking garage when suddenly one of the bottles of soda drops like a brick, hits the pavement which smashes the cap, and suddenly there’s an EXPLOSION as the bottle fires off like a rocket across the garage in a spray of foam and liquid cola, until it hits one of the tires of a nearby car.

There is soda on EVERYTHING now: my shoes, my coats, my laundry and of course, my BRX bag as well. I scream like a little girl, look around for a few seconds, and then flee for the nearest elevator before anyone can see me, because of course, I was on the wrong level to begin with.

I was already checked out so the best I could do was pat myself down with some pocket tissues and sop up whatever soda was left, then tossed just about everything including my bag, still wet and damp from the soda rocket launch into the trunk. It was that kind of morning.

But… everything inside my bag was untouched and dry, even the bag itself dried quickly, plus there were no leftover stains either. I was impressed. That was nearly 2 liters of foaming cola it withstood too. African safaris, eat your heart out.

Thankfully the rest of my trip was uneventful where my luggage was concerned, but I was so pleased with the way things turned out that I may wind up leaving my Eagle Creek at home and using my BRX gear more often than not.

Suitcase or Luggage in Ouray

Neither soda nor mountainous rain will dampen my BRX gear.

Aside

The trick to enjoying million dollar mountain views on the cheap

For those ooooohing and ahhhhing over my latest photos from the place I’m staying at in Colorado, believe it or not I’m enjoying these mountain views from the comfort of my condo for roughly the same price you’d pay for a Super 8 motel.

The strategy is simple:

1. Pick a ski town in Colorado with majestic views you could admire even from a gas station.

2. ONLY GO OFF-SEASON. For ski towns with lakes I reckon that means winter and summer.

3. Find the cheapest condo (but with good reviews) via Hotels.com or Expedia. The benefit is that I can earn rewards and get a free night, which saves me $100+ after every tenth hotel stay I book.

4. WINNING!

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