Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

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Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Wednesday, January 05, 2005  
Reality Wednesday
Survivor: The Move
One woman will endeavor to move house three miles across town.

For three weeks she will manage with: A can opener, one sharp knife, a lock (with 2 keys), one spoon, one fork, scissors, a Wallace cork screw and Gromit wine stopper. And one half bottle of Super Glue.

If necessary she will be allowed to use AAA batteries three months past their expiration date, one gaily dotted oversized tea cup and paper plates left from a bridal shower three years ago.
Survival Basics
Ample supply of cat food will be provided for her sidekick. (After all, it wasn't his idea to survive a move, he was quite happy living here, thank you very much.)

The Contestant will be required to live on: Four bottles of wine (two red, one white, one "apple spice" of questionable potability) a bottle of champagne, a Brita pitcher with a filter a week past it's "use by" date, two 16.9 oz. bottles of Vernors, on 10 oz bottle Schweppes club soda, one .95 lb. package of Coastal cheese, three apples, one bottle of Tabasco, one 19.3 oz. bottle Heinz squeeze sweet relish, one 19.3 oz bottle Heinz yellow mustard, one 9 oz. bottle old fashioned Dijon mustard (approx 8 oz removed), one 12 oz. bottle honey Dijon mustard (approx. 6 oz. removed) one jar homemade blueberry preserves, one jar orange marmalade, one quarter bottle of squeeze grape jelly, one jar honey, one 48 oz jar Deluxe Randall mixed beans. Additional provisions include: one package frozen Brussels sprouts, one half jar of creamy Peter Pan peanut butter, one package Santa Fe Corn Chowder flavored Bean Cuisine and 1 cup remaining in a package of Cream of Wheat.

The contestant will endeavor to sustain life functions on these provisions for two weeks, or more if required by dwindling finances.

During that time the contestant will be required go to work, perform her workerly duties while there, spend nights packing or discarding the entire contents of her life, all her Earthly possessions, in preparation for a move from the starting Point A, her current apartment, to the finish line, Point B, her new apartment.

Distance: 3.03 miles.

We hear a voice from behind boxes and bubble wrap, "I know it doesn't sound like much. I have walked the route on many occasions, no big deal, right? Right, if you're taking a walk or a jog or a bike ride. But wrong if you're moving house. That route might as well be across country in terms of moving house. It may only be 3.03 miles by the map, but it's a whole different area code and two zip codes away. It's a whole different attitude. A whole different tax base. A whole different game altogether. I never thought I'd want to live there, but I found a place I can almost afford and I have to move, so I'm going to try to make the best of it. I'll be able to walk to work, it's right on Lake Michigan, so, you know, I guess, I mean, I had no choice, I had to move and this apartment was available. I can always move if I don't like it..."

The contestant is left on her own to accomplish the move.

She has been given the added challenges of moving in January. Three weeks after Christmas. In Chicago.

January brings the worst financial and weather conditions of the year.

The Contestant has already discovered a discrepancy in her finances.

"Not the best time to discover an error in the bank's checking account has been completely messed up, I was mugged and had my identity stolen on Halloween - a 'small Latino' woman marched into three branches of my bank, wrote checks for cash and drained my checking account of every penny I had. I had to close the account, open a new one, file fraud and theft claims, deal with the fraud and theft department, pay a small fortune in fees...I thought things were finally settled. But on December 29th, the bank rang to inform me that they were not going to waive $300 in overdraft fees which were incurred when my old account was drained by the thief and that they had neglected to charge me $13.95 for a box of checks for my new account. Yes. The bank is charging me overdraft fees incurred when their tellers gave every penny in my account, cashed three checks for cash, with a badly forged signature, to someone who was not me.

Cutaway video to a closed circuit camera shot of a short, well dressed, Latino woman with a sassy attitude sashaying up to a bank teller, having a long conversation with the teller, the teller's eyes wide and astonished and then sympathetic and compassionate, the Latino woman showing what appears to be an ID, then writing a check for cash, the teller counting out a lot of bills, handing them to the short Latino woman and giving her a sympathetic pat on the arm and mouthing what appears to be 'good luck and God bless you.' Similar scenes are revealed at two other bank branches. Three hits in a 30 minute span. In one half hour a very short Latino woman was able to impersonate a very tall, very Caucasian woman and rob her of every penny she has, all with the help of three very pleasant and eager bank tellers.

Cut Back to the living room of The Contestant, "...And moreover, they are charging me for checks for the new account I had to open because their tellers gave every penny in my account to someone who wasn't me. The really disturbing part of this is that the higher up the managerial level I queried and complained, the less able they were to see the stupidity, unfairness or irony of this. The last person, apparently a quite high ranking senior bank official, had the nerve to tell me they had 'bent over backwards for me' by not charging me a lot of fees they usually charge, such as a closing account fee. Consequently, I am $313.95 lighter just after Christmas and two weeks before moving. That would have paid for a big portion of my moving company. Or a very nice rental car. I certainly hadn't budgeted for $313.95 in bank fees in my moving expenses. But here I am two weeks away from my move, the lease signed, a sub leaser moving in here..."

This contestant, in spite of appearances to the contrary, is organized. She has used an online resource and made a moving check-list. She has been following her prescribed procedures and accomplishing her weekly tasks leading up to the move. The home viewing audience is invited to play along at home.

An on screen bullet pointed list appears on screen.

  • Week of November 28
    Packing Materials Start organizing your possessions. Throw out all frayed towels and sheets that have gone gray. Rule of thumb: If Mom would faint at the condition of your bed and bath linens - feed them to the incinerator (or better yet, use them to wrap delicate items on your move day). Another rule of thumb: If it's been more than a year since you've had occasion to use the "sexy" sheets, throw them away. If it's been over a year since you've wanted or needed your "sexy" sheets, chances are good that you won't be needing them any time soon, and if you do, you'll want new ones anyway. Don't let these reminders of your solitude and sad state of romantic activity follow you and haunt you in your new home.
    Pet Records If your pet's annual exam is less than two months away, take him or her to the vet for one last exam. Be sure to get referrals for vets in your new town. You'll also want to get a copy of your pet's medical records. Also be sure your pet has not had a milestone birthday and is considered a "senior" aged animal. (see below)
    Plan on Moving Help Ask for moving help well in advance. Once your friends and family commit to helping you, be sure to periodically remind them of your move date. Within a week of your move, you might want to remind them hourly. We're not making this up - the "remind them hourly" was actually on the bona fide "to do" list. If you follow this advice don't count on hearing from your friends for a while after you move. If ever.) Just hire swutting movers. It's worth whatever it costs.
    Research Truck Rental Begin researching rental truck companies. Err on the side of a bigger truck so you don't run out of room on your move day! Use a dependable company that guarantees the availability of a truck for your move. Solicit quotes and make a reservation. Or hire a moving company. The Contestant discovered the truck fee her moving company is charging is half what it would cost me to rent any sort of truck.
    Research Storage Facilities Too much stuff for your new place? Consider a storage facility. Start your research by comparing pricing and security levels. If you need frequent access to your possessions, be sure the facility can accommodate you. The Contestant chose an apartment which has storage lockers available for additional monthly fees. "Just do it, pay it and forget about it. It's worth it. You cut back on your movie and drinking budget by one movie and two drinks. There. Not so painful when you look at it that way, now is it?

  • Week of December 5
    Food and Cleaning Supplies Finish up or pack the remaining food in the pantry and freezer. Use cleaning supplies you have on hand and avoid shopping for household items. Five weeks prior to moving? Really? The Contestant is in disbelief. "Seems a bit early to be emptying the cupboards...but then maybe other people keep more provisions around than I do..."
    Health Insurance Call your health insurance provider to ensure that you'll still have medical coverage in your new town. If you have coverage, transfer the policy to your new address. The Contestant wishes you good luck with this one. She's been trying to change her information with her health insurance company for five weeks and has still not spoken with anyone who will assist her in this capacity.
    Notify Doctor and Dentist Contact your doctor and dentist and inform them of your move. If you haven't selected a new doctor in your new town, request referrals from your current doctor. Once you have made your selection, arrange to have your medical records transferred. Note that most physicians require you to submit a signed letter before receiving records. The contestant only has to change her address, since she's only moving 3.03 miles, she will continue to use her existing doctors and dentist.
    Tax-deductible Moving Expenses Did you know that moving expenses are often tax deductible? You may be eligible to deduct transportation, travel, and lodging expenses for job-related moves. Begin to keep records of all move-related expenses and documents. And no, moving to a new place and using a corner or nook for your computer does not qualify as an office in the home or a business reason for moving. The Contestant already inquired.
    Time to Appraise Valuables It's time to have your valuables appraised if you plan on insuring them before your move. Seriously. You might not think you have anything of insurable value. But you probably do. Think about your stuff. Got a television? Computer? Stereo? Painting? Heirloom bottle cap collection? What if something were lost or damaged? What would it cost you to fix or replace it? Could you fix or replace it?
    Assess the Accessibility of Your Home If you live in a remote location, on a hill, or have a steep driveway that may not accommodate a large moving truck, be sure to discuss this with the moving company when requesting a personalized price quote. Additional charges may apply if a smaller "shuttle" truck is needed to complete the delivery of your goods. The contestant has recently discovered she will be required to pay a "walk-up" fee because she lives aboved the second floor in a building without an elevator.

  • Week of December 12
    Tag Sale or Donate Possessions
    Start cleaning out your closets and bookcases. Donate or sell any clothing you have not worn in over two years. Sort through books and donate them to your local library or school, or sell to a used-book store. If you have a lot of good stuff and could use some extra cash, get planning on a tag sale. The Contestant discovered no one wants her stuff. She tried online auctions and didn't earn enough money to cover the listing fees. Charity and the dumpster are probably your best bets unless you really are parting with great, desirable, in demand stuff. If you have the time and space for a tag/garage/boot sale, you'll earn a little money for your junk, erm, cool stuff. But ask yourself if the time and effort is worth the $50 or $60 you earn.
    Take Advantage of your Empty Home Obtain a copy of your new floor plan, or create your own. Then start to plan where your furniture and possessions will live. Measure the rooms, doorways, and stairways to avoid surprises. And seize the opportunity to clean all the walls, floors, windows, cabinets and closets, while your home is still empty. The Contestant has spent many of her packing hours whiling away time arranging furniture on the floorplan of her new apartment. Do not over dwell on this step.
    Get Renters Insurance Moving is a good time to consider renters insurance, so contact your insurance provider and request a price quote for your new home. In order to find a good rate, it's a wise idea to solicit quotes from several providers. Even if you're not moving, do this. If you are moving, do it prior to your move. The policy may cover loss or damage during the move.
    New Blinds and Decorating Think about decorating your new place. Will you need blinds? Also, if possible, take measurements of all the rooms in your new home and decide where you will place furniture. Remember, new furniture can take over six weeks for delivery, so place your order well in advance. The Contestant ponders if anyone who moves actually has money to "decorate."
    Order New Mailing Labels Order mailing address labels and stationery for your new home. (or make your own) You might want to consider ordering new bank checks as well. Might?! Um, yes, you should consider ordering new bank checks.
    Packing Supplies Consider purchasing packing materials. You may protect some of your possessions using crumpled paper; blankets; pillows; even clothing. Sturdy boxes; packing tape; bubble wrap; and packing peanuts can be purchased from moving companies and truck-rental firms. The Contestant relented and ordered boxes from her moving company who has a buy-back policy - they will refund the cost of any unused box. Just do it. Order boxes. There are only so many liquor stores and those boxes are not always in the best condition. They're fine for some things, The Contestant highly recommends hitting up liquor stores for empty boxes, but don't rely on them as your only source.

  • Week of December 19
    Pack Seasonals and Unnecessary Items
    Pack all items that you will not need during the month prior to your move. This includes winter/summer clothing, sports equipment, books and linens.
    Arrange for Moving Help Friends can sometimes be scarce on moving day, so if they've mysteriously gone AWOL, you should consider hiring a professional or calling the local college for help. Especially if you've been bugging your friends every hour about helping you move.

  • Week of December 26
    Pet Safety
    Look into purchasing a travel kennel or "seat belt" for your pet's journey to his new home. No. A box from the liquor store with a towel from the throw away pile is not good enough.
    Furniture Damage Jot down any existing damage on your belongings and furniture. You'll want to be aware of this damage in case you try to make a claim with your movers. Because of course you want to blame existing damage on the movers. Duh.

  • Week of January 2
    Secure a Parking Spot for the Moving Truck
    Plan for the arrival of your movers by ensuring that they have a convenient place to park their truck. Mark off a parking area with cones or chairs to reserve the space. If you live in a metropolitan area, consider obtaining a city parking permit to make sure the space remains available for the movers. If you live in Chicago, and it's Winter, this is di rigueur quid pro quo for any parking space. You know the drill. Get out your crappy old kitchen chairs and brooms and reserve your space.
    Inspect New Home Before moving day, try to visit your new home with your new landlord. You'll want to check for damages left by the previous tenants. You'll also want to arrange a time to pick up keys and have the home cleaned. Not that the landlord will do anything about it, but make a note and take date stamped photos so that you can prove it was that way when you moved into the place.
    Packing Boxes When packing for the big day, don't forget to clearly label each box with the room in which they belong. This will help the move quicker and settling in that much easier. Apparently this isn't obvious or they wouldn't have listed it. Also, write your name and new address on all your boxes. Yes. Really.
    Return Borrowed Items Return all library books, videos and any other borrowed or rented items. If you've had your neighbor's weed whacker for three years, wait until the night before you move, toss it into their back yard and never speak of it again.
    Throw out Wastes Dispose your household hazardous waste (cleaning fluids, lighter fluid, aerosols) before you move. Contact your Town Hall or Public Works department for the nearest location of hazardous waste disposal. You can also call 1-800-CLEANUP. Or, if you live in Chicago, just dump it down your sink or toilet. Apparently this is a widely known and accepted practice here in Chicago. And yes, photo developing materials count as hazardous. Really.

  • Week of January 9
    Dry Cleaners
    Nobody wants to find out that their favorite shirt is back at the old dry cleaners, so remember to pick up all of your clothes before you move. The Contestant wistfully remembers the boots she forgot were at a shoe repairer the last time she moved. Far, far away. "I liked those boots, I really did..."
    Make Sure to ask for Appliance Manuals Don't forget to ask the previous tenant for any warranties and instruction manuals for appliances that will remain in your new home.
    Newspaper Subscription Don't forget to subscribe to the local newspaper(s) in your new community.
    Pet Preparation Pay close attention to your pet's behavior during the weeks before and after your move. You'll want to surround him or her with familiar objects to help ease the stress of settling into new surroundings. If your pet will be traveling to your destination in a commercial aircraft, obtain a certificate of health from your veterinarian (often, these must be dated within 10 days of flight) and check with the airline regarding any other pet travel policies and procedures. Moving is very stressful for animals. See below.
    Pet Travel If your pet is traveling by plane, arrive at the airport at least two hours early. Your pet will need to be placed in a proper travel crate. If your pet is small, consider having him or her travel in coach with you. If this works, have some fun with the flight attendant and request that your pet's meal be served in first-class. Also, at check-in, be prepared to show the airline attendant a veterinarian-issued certificate of health. Again, we're not making up the part about the meal in firs-class. We don't see the humor in it and we doubt any airline attendants will, either, nor will the fine folks at Homeland Security. Unless you want to share the fun of a cavity search with your animal companion, skip the jokes.
    Trash Removal Make arrangements for final trash and recycling pickup. If you're leaving before the next pick-up date, ask neighbors if you can leave trash with them. You might also be able to drop off trash at the local dump. Hi neighbor, I'm moving. Can I leave all my crap with you for a week until the trash pick-up day? Thanks. You've been a great neighbor. I'm sure we'll never see each other again. So here's my bags of crap. Bye now.
    Write out Map and Directions Make sure your movers know where they are going. Prepare written directions and a highlighted map. Exchange cell phone numbers so you can stay in touch in case one of you is delayed. Seriously. This is probably the single most important item on the list. Stories The Contestant could tell...
    Notify Friends Be creative when notifying friends and family of your move.
    Pack Kitchenware Get a good start by packing up all of your possessions that won't be needed during the week of your move. This includes clothing, books, kitchenware and that favorite old t-shirt you've been saving "in case we decide to paint the living room." If you've been following this timeline, you used up or threw away all the food in your pantry five weeks ago, you might as well have packed this stuff then. But if you didn't, do it now. Like The Contestant, you, too, can try to live with a spoon, sharp knife, fork, scissors, a cork screw, wine stopper, super glue, lock and keys and a tea cup for a few weeks.
The Contestant begins her Two Week to Move countdown week by contacting utilities and making arrangements for pet care. The phone company will have to issue a new phone number and transfer service to her new apartment. The Contestant requests overlapping service of two days at each apartment. This costs extra. Total fee for new phone number in new area code, transfer fee and overlapping service at two locations: $43.95. "I knew there would be a fee to make the move, but $43.95? Seems a little steep for move with the existing phone company 3.03 miles. But no big deal, I guess. It's not horrendous. Add it to the bank fees. I wasn't going to buy groceries, I don't want to have to deal with moving or throwing away food, I was going to have take away and live off the food I have. I'll just have to skip the take away meals and ration my food..." Electric company is amazingly pleasant and cooperative. "There? See? That's how it should be. Pleasant customer service, no special fees, disconnect from apartment A on a specific date, connect in apartment B on another specific date." Internet service provider poses unexpected challenges. "I've been really happy with my internet provider, not one complaint in the four years I've been using them. Really swell people, great customer support, superior connectivity...their rates are slightly higher, but not substantially, I gladly pay a few dollars more for the great service. So I never expected to face what I encountered with them regarding my move." Cut to the dining room/office of The Contestant. She is peering at her monitor at a "moving/transferring" service online form. She is telenecking, we hear hold muzak from the akimbo phone under her chin. An animated clock is counting her hold time. After hold time of 13:24:12 the muzak is interrupted with: "This is Tony, how can I help you?" The Contestant nearly drops the phone. We hear her end of a telephone conversation. "Hi Tony. I'm online, filling out the move service request. I nearly checked 'agree to terms' when I noticed what reads as contradictory terms and I'd like to clarify a few points before I agree to them. Yes. Yes. Online, yes, I know, I'm doing that now but I have a few questions. Yes. Okay, I'm moving January 17. I checked to see if you provide service in my new building and phone number and got the thumbs up icon. Then I got a prompt asking me when I want to disconnect service. First of all, it's 2005 now, and you only offer pull downs for 2003 and 2004. Secondly, there's no reconnect date. I entered the date of my move for disconnect and from there it goes straight to the terms and condition agreement. I have learned to assume nothing, so I'm calling to be sure my service is disconnected from the old phone number on January 17, and reconnected to the new number on January 18, or, better than that, if I can have overlapping service, service on both numbers, for a few days. I've already made those arrangements with the phone company. Silence. Silence. Silence. Look of shock. "But..." silence. silence. silence. "Right. Okay, and that brings me to my next question: The terms state something about a year contract. I am well past my first year obligation, I've used you for four years. So the first year stipulations don't apply to me. I'm not a new customer, I'm an existing customer who is moving. Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. Look of outrage. You're telling me just because I'm moving you are going to consider me a new customer?!" Silence. "Yes, I realize it's a new phone number. But it's the same account! You're not changing anything except the phone line I use to connect!" Silence. Silence. Look of dejected resignation. "Okay. Fine. But what about the disconnect/reconnect dates and service overlapping?" Silence. Silence. Silence. Huge look of outrage, phone nearly thrown across the room. TWO WEEKS?!! TWO WEEKS?!!! I'm calling you on January 3 requesting a move of service on January 17, and you're telling me I will be without service for two weeks?" Silence. Silence. Silence. "Yes, but, wait, I'm submitting the request today. That gives you two weeks to process whatever and do whatever you have to do. I've got everything set up with my phone company, that's all systems go, and I'm giving you two weeks to manage changing my connection line." Silence. Silence. Silence. "Okay. I suppose I can figure out something at the office. But what about this line in the terms about the disconnection fee and reconnection credit? I'm not disconnecting, I'm moving. So I don't pay that $168 fee, right?" Silence. Silence. Silence. "NO! NO! NO! I am not a new customer. I have an existing account. I am moving 3.03 miles. I simply want to move my account to the new address and phone number." Silence. Silence. Silence. "Yes, but the reconnect credit is only $48, so you earn a tidy profit of $120 simply because I'm moving. You have your policy set up so that there's not actually a move policy. It's just a termination and reconnection policy. That's what you should call it. You should be paying me for my two weeks without internet service. But instead I have to pay you $168 to terminate service on an account I don't even want to terminate in the first place, go without internet service for two weeks, even though I'm giving you two weeks notice of the move, and then, at some point, after I go two weeks without service, you will give me a $48 credit for reconnecting and opening a new contract on an existing four-year-old account." Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. "Excuse me. I have to stop you right there. You know what? When I called my phone company to move my service, they solicited me very heavily to use them for my internet needs. Their rates are considerably lower than yours and, they can have me up and on the internet the day I move in. I really hate to leave you, and it's going to cause a lot of upheaval of my email, but two weeks without internet because I'm moving as well as the requirement of a year's contract just because I'm moving is unacceptable and will cause far greater upheaval in my life. I am really surprised, really disappointed. You have always been so great, so customer oriented." Silence. Silence. Silence. "Yes, go ahead, transfer me to the service termination group." Silence. Telenecking. Muzak. "Hey! This is Drew! Am I speaking with Tricia?!" blares through the phone. Yes. This is she. Okay. (full name. account name. father's sister-in-law's first boss' middle name. phone number.)" Silence. Silence. "Well, no, I don't want to terminate service with you, but I'm moving, and it appears your move/transfer policies don't fulfill my internet needs. Your policies and terms are making me terminate service. I've been informed that even though I am calling two weeks prior to my move that I am going to be without service for two weeks after I move. I was also told that the "move" terms and conditions are actually termination and reconnect terms and conditions, and that I will be charged a $168 disconnection fee on a four year old account, but will be given a $48 credit when I reconnect. Maybe I am really not understanding something, maybe my expectations are too high, but this doesn't make sense to me. I'm merely moving 3.03 miles, to an address, zip code and area code your company serves. I don't want to terminate my existing account. I only want to move it to a new address and phone number." Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. "Drew, I appreciate your help, I really do, but surely I am not first and only person who has moved and wanted to take their existing account with them to their new home." Silence. Silence. Silence. "I'm not saying this to bargain or be a nasty customer, Drew, but you should know, since you're a senior customer care agent, that when I, or anyone else, calls their phone company to set up moving procedures, the phone company solicits very heavily, makes really great offers for a wide variety of internet services and suggests, very enticingly, to make the switch as long as we're moving anyway. I steadfastly turned down an offer for a rate of almost half what you're charging me because I like your service and customer service. Until today I have been very happy and didn't mind paying a little more because you're a good company. Lots of people move, Drew, and if they're going through what I'm going through, that offer from the phone company is going to be too easy and too inexpensive to turn down. You're going to lose customers who move to the phone company simply because you do not have moving procedures other than terminate and reconnect, and you have the gall to charge for those services." Silence. Silence. "Okay." Telenecking. Hold muzak. "Okay! Tricia! I think I found a way around this!" "Gee, swell. Thanks. Okay. Okay. Okay. Um, yeah, I guess." Silence. Silence. But I still have to be considered a new account and am obligated for a year contract?" Silence. Silence. Silence. "Well, it's still higher than what the phone company offered, but the monthly service fee wasn't an issue until I discovered all of the fine print about your move policy which isn't a move policy at all." Silence. Silence. "No." Silence. "Okay. Okay." Silence. Silence. "All right. Sure. I guess. If you say so, Drew. Let me restate what I understand to be your offer back to you so we understand each other. I agree to a new year contract obligation. You set me up as a two user account for one month at no charge to me. You activate a new user at my new phone number and address now, today, and deactivate the user, my existing account, at the end of the billing cycle. At no charge. So I've got overlapping service, no down time. The new user gets the new lower monthly rate, but I've got to pay $19.95 now to set up the new user on my existing account. So I'm paying $19.95 now, as well as my regular January monthly fee, and then starting next month I just pay the lower monthly rate you offered me "the new user" on my old account. Correct?" Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. "So, why don't you just offer that in the first place? Or make that your moving procedure?" Silence. Silence. Silence. "Okay. Thanks Drew, I appreciate your help." The Contestant crosses: Internet service off her "to do" list. "That was painful. I am so surprised. They've been such a great company. It seems so odd they don't have a better move procedures and policies...yikes. Look at the time, I've got to call the vet to book my cat's appointment and boarding. The veterinarian's office boards animals. My cat is due for a check-up anyway, so I'm hoping to take him in early of the morning of the move, drop him off, chat with the vet, and leave him there for his check-up and then board him there for the day. I budgeted check-up and boarding fees of $75." Cut to a split screen of The Contestant on the phone in her living room, stroking an oversized fluffy cat in her lap on one side, and a veterinarian's receptionist at the reception desk of the veterinarian's office. "North City Cool Kitty Vet, how can I help you?" "Hi, this is Tricia McMillian. My cat, Furry Creature, is a patient of Dr. Miss Kitty. I have a few questions." "What do you need?" "Erm, um, well, first, are you open on January 17th? It's a holiday." "Not for us. We'll be here." "Okay, great. I'm moving that day, and since Furry Creature is due for a check-up, I'm hoping to bring him in for an early morning appointment and then board him for the day, while I'm moving." "Let me pull up his record. Furry Creature McMillian?" "Yes. McMillian." "Ah yes, Furry Creature. Oh, he just had a birthday." "Yes, a few months ago." "He's a senior aged cat, now." "Really? Wow. Still a kitten in my eyes." "But he's not. He's a senior aged cat who has different health needs now." "Um, yes, of course." "His check-ups must now also include a senior evaluation. Blood, urine, stool, heart, lung and joint tests." "Okay, that sounds like a good idea. Sign him up for that, too, the day he's in for his appointment and boarding, the 17th." Cut to a single screen where The Contestant talks to the home viewing audience: "I want to be sure he's healthy and feeling okay," proffering up the large fluffy cat. "I know older animals have special needs. He seems perfectly healthy and acts like a kitten, and I want to keep him that way." Cut back to split screen. The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart snottily says, "We don't board senior aged animals who haven't had a senior evaluation. He'll have to come in before the day you want to board him for his tests so we have the results back and approve his boarding prior to the day you want to board him." "So I have to bring him in for his check-up and evaluation before the day I board him? Really? You can't just do all of it the day he's there?" "No. We don't board senior animals who haven't had satisfactory senior evaluations." "He only turned 'senior' a few months ago...I'm sure he's healthy and will pass his evaluations, I know you hear that all the time, but he's really fine except that this move is causing a lot of upheaval for him, I'd want to keep his stress level to a minimum." Cut to single screen where The Contestant flashes a stern look at the home viewing audience. "Hey. Be quiet. Animals get stressed, too. He didn't ask to have his world turned upside down by moving. You don't know him. He's not 'just a cat.' We're a team. We're good for each other. I saved his life, and he's saved mine on more than one drunken suicidal night. There have been times he's been the only reason I've gotten out of bed. When I was bed-bound with a broken ankle and whiplash he wouldn't leave my side. This cat is my best friend and my surrogate child, he's always given me more comfort and companionship and laughs than any man I've dated, which says more about the men I date than my cat, by the way, so just go roll your eyes somewhere else or watch Cum to Papa or whatever FOX is showing tonight." Cut back to a split screen. The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart tiredly says, "Let me ask Dr. Miss Kitty." "Thank you." Hold muzak interlude featuring Queen's Best Friend a wavy screen indicates a sentimental flashback of The Contestant and her cat is forthcoming. The Contestant, younger, alone on a cold, gray December day, braces her coat tighter around her to ward off the icy wind. She notices a sign in a window: "Cat shelter lost funding. Animals will be sent to the city pound. Please help. Many animals need homes." She peers into the window of the storefront shelter. There are no lights on except for a faint glow from a back room. There are a few cats curled up sleeping in a kitty condo. She puts her hands to the window and around her face to eliminate the street glare to get a better look inside the shelter and at the cats. WHAM! She jumps back, startled. A kitten jumps at the window at her. He's now perched on a cat scratching pole, laughing at her. Yes. The kitten is laughing. At her. Because he pounced on her through the window and startled her. Yes. Laughing. She laughs back at him. He pokes a paw at the window. She pokes her fingers back at him. They play this game for a long time. They are both easily amused. A tired looking woman sticks her head out from the back room. She spots The (younger) Contestant and shuffles to the storefront. Through the window we here a muffled, "you want a cat?" making exaggerated pantomimes to the kitten and sleeping cats. "No. Yes. No. I mean..." The (younger) Contestant says, unable to walk away from the kitten. "Come on in." The cat lady beckons, unlocks about 20 locks on the door and lets The (younger) Contestant into the shelter. "Cold out there today. Winter's here." In here, too, The (younger) Contestant thinks, realizing it's as cold in here as it is outside. The kitten has already attached itself to The (younger) Contestant's trouser leg and is attempting to climb up her. "You made a friend! Mickey's been down in the dumps ever since his sisters were adopted. I couldn't believe it was him out here making the ruckus." "This cat? Down? Come on, you don't have to give me a hard luck story. We both know I'm going to stand here and hem and haw and try to consider if I can give a cat everything it needs, if I have a lifestyle to give him a supportive, happy home, and after a lot of deliberating the thing which all three of us already knows is going to happen will happen, so we might as well just skip all of that. Has he had any shots? How old is he? What's the adoption fee? Do you take checks?" the kitten now sitting on The (younger) Contestant's shoulder, a la a pirate's parrot, observing the transaction and pawing at The (younger) Contestant's hair. "I actually would prefer an older cat...everyone loves kittens, the poor older cats...I've always had older cats. I've only ever had one kitten..." "He's about 8 weeks old. His mother was a stray who had a litter my aunt's garage. She kept his mother and a kitten, but Mickey and his sisters ended up here. Didn't cha, fella." The (younger) Contestant flinches every time the name Mickey is said. The kitten doesn't seem to like it, either. Mickey, apparently an uninspired jab at the kittens oversized ears. "We lost our grant, we can't afford to stay here," the cat lady continues, "as it is we have no electricity or heat, we're out on December 31. We've got three days to find homes for 23 cats or they'll have to go to the pound. Which is horrible because we're a no kill shelter, the cats were brought here so they would be spared the pound, and yet that's where they're going. So if you can take a couple more..." Looking around at the curled up sleeping cats, The (younger) Contestant says, "I barely have a home myself. I just moved here, I'm sort of transient, I'd love to take them all, but honestly, I'm not sure how I'm going to manage one..." "I don't think you're going to get out of here without him, he's attached himself to you." Slide sequence of The Contestant and the kitten in various play sequences, settling into an apartment, watching movies, playing, the kitten grown into a full, enormous fluffy feline, men coming over to date The Contestant, the kitten screening all of them, The Contestant and the kitten playing, The contestant throwing herself on her bed sobbing, the kitten jumping up and consoling her, the cat proudly standing in front of two artfully arranged dead mice ..."oooooh, you're my best friend..." Back to the split screen. The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart shortly says, "Dr. Miss Kitty agreed to boarding your cat as long as we perform the senior evaluation while he's here" "Okay, thank you." The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart boredly says, "What time do you want to bring him in?" "The earlier the better, the movers are here at 9:30 AM." The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart snottily says, "I only have an 8:45." "Okay, that'll have to work. We'll be there." The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart efficiently says, "We'll see you and Furry Creature at 8:45 on the 17th. He'll have his check-up and senior evaluation, you need to pick him up by 6:00 PM, lessee, with the boarding fee, that'll be $190." The Contestant's eyes bulge. "$190?!" The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart snottily says, "Yes. The senior evaluation is $115, the office visit is $55, and the daily boarding fee is $20." "Oh. Erm. See. I hadn't budgeted for a senior evaluation for my cat, and $115 is kind of a lot of money for me right now what with the move..." The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart boredly says, "We're already bending the rules for you. He can't stay here without it. And he needs to have it done anyway," then turning all more compassionate than thou, "You shouldn't put off the evaluation, your cat's health, well-being, happiness and life depend on the test." "I realize that, I know it's important, and I care about my cat a lot. But he's only two months into his senior qualifying age bracket, I'm moving, I have less money with each phone call, and if I can wait to have this evaluation done until a few months from now it would be financially helpful for me." The kind, compassionate, caring veterinary office tart snottily says, "Do you want the appointment and boarding or not?" Cut to another wavy screen, a future imagination sequence of: Furry Creature on his back, fur mangy and disheveled, legs in the air, tongue hanging out and gasping for air and life, big, sad eyes giving looks which are alternately pleading and forgiving, "I know we couldn't afford the evaluation, it's okay, I don't blame you. I understand. Please. Just put me out of my misery." As The Way We Were plays in the background. Cut back to single screen of The Contestant clinging to her cat, still wondering if she wants the appointment or not, then another wavy imagination sequence of her cat, dirty, scared, mewing pathetically and shivering, backed into a corner of a dingy alley in a blizzard. At night. He's being accosted by a gang of killer rats. All because he got loose from his carrier on moving day because he wasn't boarded at the vet. While Memory from Cats plays in the background. Cut back to split screen. "Yes. Of course. 8:45 AM on the 17th. Thank you." The Contestant hangs up the phone and holds her cat tightly to her. Clings to him, more like. "$567.85! In one week we've been fleeced of $567.85. So much for the rental car for the week of the move. So much for take away meals. So much for new curtains for the new apartment. I suppose someone will let me borrow a car...I've got spare sheets I can use for curtains for the time being...I haven't been eating much lately anyway...don't worry, we've got plenty of food for you (looking at her cat). I'll just have to ration the food I have..." To be continued as the move progresses and The Contestant is thrown more challenges to test her survival skills.


1:43 PM

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