For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Do they really know what they're looking at?

There have been a large number of articles recently, talking about the obesity "epidemic." I guess the newest numbers just got published or something, so everyone's writing about it.

A typical example of how these articles sound is this one.

The report, titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing America, 2006 said that an estimated two-thirds of American adults are clinically obese. This means that their risk of suffering from fatal diseases such as diabetes, stroke and cancer increases exponentially.

Another article from the UK talked about a proposed ban of IVF treatment for fat women. On and on it goes.

One of the things these articles all seem to have in common is the believe that obesity is the cause of all these deadly illnesses. You'd think that skinny people never got strokes, type 2 diabetes, cancer or heart attacks.

For anyone who's read some of my past posts, you already know what I think of the BMI and that I feel the numbers of overweight and obese are flawed because of it. This time, however, I want to discuss what I feel is a false belief that extra weight, in and of itself, increases the risk of various illness.

I'm going to use type 2 diabetes as an example. The main reason is the implication that people who are obese will get type 2 diabetes, eventually, because they are fat, even though the terms "increases the risk" are actually used. No one says, "you eat lost of high-GI foods, therefore you are at greater risk of getting diabetes." No, they say "you're fat, you're increasing the risk." The fact that high-GI foods also tend to make people gain weight just doesn't seem to be a connection anyone makes.

But lets take it a bit further. When a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one of the first things they're told to do is loose weight (even when the person is already within "normal" weight ranges!!). While I absolutely recognize that diet and exercise is vital to controlling insulin levels, I feel this focus on weight is misplaced.

I've long been interested in health and nutrition, and I recall on case in particular (unfortunately, I no longer remember where I read about it), involving an Australian aborigine. Type 2 diabetes is a major problem among the aborigine population, much as it is among Canada's first nations. When I hotel I worked at took in flood evacuees from a nearby reserves senior home, I had to work with a list of all the evacuees that included their medical needs, including their diet restrictions. I'd say about 95% or more of them had type 2 diabetes. There were, however, very few overweight, never mind obese, elders. In fact, I only remember one that could be callled obese, and he was actually a young man in a wheel chair. He also had only one arm. The other arm and both legs were amputated at the knees and elbow. He wasn't all that large, but large enough to be considered obese. He didn't have diabetes.

So back to the Australian. He lived in a city and lived a typical city lifestyle. Working closely with his doctor, he tried to control his diabetes through diet and exercise. It wasn't working. He agreed to try an experiment. He left the city to live in the bush, just as his ancestors did. He ate traditional foods and lived in the same manner. When compared to his city lifestyle, he actually ate more and exercised less than when in the city.

His diabetes virtually disappeared.

I don't recall his weight every being part of the story, so I have no idea if he were overweight or not.

It seems, however, the when aboriginal peoples adopt a European diet and lifestyle, they seem to sacrifice their health in the process. Somehow, their bodies don't seem able to deal with the changes. Perhaps, after a few hundres years, those differences will disappear. I doubt anyone would ever study this, though, as it would probably be considerred racist.

I happen to believe that our genetic background plays a big part of how our bodies handle different foods. It makes sense to me that if one group lived in an area that was cold, with short summers and harsh winters, for hundreds of generations, their bodies will adapt to what's available in that area, and will be different from another group that lived in an area that's hot all year, and has completely different local foods. I also believe that, eventually, as our world becomes more hemogenous, foods from all over the world become more easily available to all, and the racial bloodlines continue to mix together, these differences will disappear. I think we, as a species, will grow strong for it. Until then, however, we're going to have challenges, and that includes segments of population that will be more prone to certain health problems than others.

It is for this reason that I believe there is no one solution for all, especially when it comes to things like weight and the supposed health problems that are "caused" by excess weight. Some people swear that a low-fat, high carb diet is the healthiest way to go. Others say a low-carb, high protein diet is the solution to all our health problems. Some say no red meat, or just fish. Others say no meat at all, and still others say lots of meat, but no grains.

I say they're all wrong. And they're all right. The right "diet" for me is not necessarily going to be the right "diet" for someone else. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

But how can you study that?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A question of loyalty

Loyalty cards. Points cards. Frequent buyer cards. Cards, cards, cards.

The grocery store I work at, like many other retail outlets, uses loyalty cards. In my family, we have very few loyalty cards - I've got only 4 of them, if you count my air miles card - because we really don't shop all that much. Which ones we got had more to do with where we lived than anything else, and of the cards we have, only one actually gets used right now. Unless we move somewhere closer to a certain competing grocery store or buy a car, we have no need of them.

Like many people, until I actually started working at a grocery store, I knew very little about them. I knew that without them, I wouldn't get the sale prices, which is why we got them in the first place. I knew we collected points, but like many, I felt the points were rather useles, since so many were needed to be able to get even small items.

I also had questions about privacy issues. The media has done stories about loyalty cards and the information gathered by them - usually with a sinister bent to the story, implying a threat to personal privacy.

That hasn't stopped people from using the cards. Some of the customers I get have so many, they loose track. I've had people rifle through several stacks of cards, each at least an inch thick, while trying to find the one they can use in our store. Others use the key-chain variety, and they've got more of these mini-cards on their key rings than keys. I often hear derogetory comments about the points, or even anger at how they "have to" use these cards to get the sale prices, as well as comments about how their personal information is being used and abused by these programs.

As someone who, until recently, knew very little about these cards, I've since learned that they are a lot more valuable to the consumer than I even imagined.

One of the things I've learned is that the points are actually worth something. They are considerred a form of currency. As an employee, I could get fired for lending my card out to a customer, because it's considerred theft. Customers can donate points to charity. They can be used to get free stuff in the store itself, or saved to get larger items for free or reduced cost.

One of the biggest complaints I get is over how hard it is to accumulate these points. It's certainly something I believed, too, until I learned how the system works. It turns out the chain I work for gives away 1000's, sometimes ten's of thousands, of dollars in points to *each* shopper, every month, if the shopper is willing to take them. Points are practically being thrown at the customers, yet amazingly few actually take advantage of them. The reason?

Most simply don't know about them. They don't read the fliers (neither did I, until recently), so they don't see the coupons they can use to get more points. They don't use the coupon kiosk, right at the entrance, where they can scan their card. The coupons printed out sometimes include points coupons, and sometimes even cash off coupons. I've never been a coupon shopper - I find coupons rather useless, since they tend to be for things I never use - but I always use the kiosk. I may not use the coupons I get that day, but when I do, they are for things that are useful to me.

A lot of people also don't update their addresses, which means they don't get the monthly booklet of coupons that gets sent out - there's usually about $5000 worth of points in there alone.

And finally, they just don't buy the items that have bonus points attached to them. That one, at least, I can understand. I'm not going to buy something I don't want or need, just because it's got extra points. I am, however, sometimes willing to try something new because it's got extra points, and all other things being equal, I'll choose the item with bonus points over the one without.

Some customers, however, have it figured out. I can always recognise them when I scan their cards and see how many points they've already got. These are people who know the game. They use every chance they've got to add on points, and never redeem them (unlike a lot of other cashiers, when an item scans as being redeemable, I actually ask the customer if they want to use their points and get the item for free, rather than automatically closing the pop-up). They quickly accumulate thousands of points a week. One customer I get uses his points to fly to a particular city in the US - every year. I've had many who save their points until Christmas, then use them for their Christmas turkeys. One told me she gets about 6 turkeys every Christmas for free by using her points. Others also use their points for their Easter hams. Still others save up for things like BBQ's, refrigerators, and other large ticket items.

So now, when I get customers complaining about how "useless" the points are, I try to tell them what they can do with those points. Most aren't willing to listen, though. Not much I can do about that.

The other complaint I get is that people "have to" use the cards to get the sale price. Well, that's one complaint I've never made myself. After all, the whole point of a loyalty card is to reward loyal customers. Otherwise, what's the point of having the program? The thing is, there's nothing stopping them from borrowing someone else's card. Especially if they're just passing through and won't be back. It's a win win situation - the card holder gets points while the visitor gets the cash savings. Some stores don't allow this but, while technically we're not supposed to, we cashiers will even go hunting for someone with a card we can borrow for a customer. We don't have a "store card" people can use (though I sometimes think we should - and donate the points to the chain's chosen charity), so the only other way is to use someone elses. The only "looser" in this scenerio is the store itself. There have been times when I've rung in hundreds of dollars in groceries for someone who had no interest in getting their own card, so I went looking for one for them. It almost hurts me to see someone spend that much money and not be able to take advantage of the savings. Sure, the store might "loose" $30 or more, but they're gaining something much more valuable - at least 2 happy customers.

Which leads me to the next point of contention people have - privacy issues. Yes, these cards are used to track sales. I can go online and actually see how much I've spent on each transaction I've made for months, how many points I earned, and how many (if any) I've used. I know that, while the numbers I see are just totals, the company that gathers this information has much more detailed information - they know exactly what items were purchased each time. I don't mind that. That information is used to provide better service for me in the future, which saves me time and money. However, their information on me, and every other person, is slightly skewed. It's the "borrowing" of cards issue. So many of these cards are borrowed, it's impossible to say with certainty that this person bought that item. While they can get general regional information, the individual information is inaccurate.

In the end, for the consumer, there are really no negatives when it comes to loyalty cards and, if they play it right, a whole lot of positives.

Loyalty does have its privilages. Even in plastic.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

well, the time has finally come

I knew it would, eventually. It had to, but I was hoping it would wait at least a little while longer.

We're going to have to buy a new computer.

I've been very happy with my Dell. It's been remarkably stable. It's put up with a lot and held its own. It's upgraded as much as it possibly can be (including having just added a 4 port USB2 PCI controller), and aside from a few quirks, it's handles them extremely well.

The periferals haven't quite managed to keep up. Our scanner gave up the ghost a while ago, and my printer has become so erratic, I don't even use it anymore. So I got a new printer/scanner combo. We've spent almost a week trying to install it. That's part of why we got the new usb2. After spending a great deal of time with tech support both with Lexmark and with Dell, it still won't install. There's no obvious reason for it. I've got everything the new device needs to install. It all works. But my computer is designed to work with lpt ports for printers, not usb - and usb2 didn't exist when it was built.

There have been other issues over time. More and more, we haven't been able to use new software. We've had to get creative just to be able to burn disks, and for some reason, it won't let me back up to a cd, and that makes me downright nervous. There's a lot of stuff on this computer that I don't want to loose, including 2 years + of digital photos.

So, it's been decided. I'm returning the printer/scanner and using the funds to put a layaway on a new system. We'd considered just getting a new tower and using the existing monitor, etc., but this way, we can pass the old computer on to the kids (though they'll need to use the new one for things), and network them together. There will be less negotiating over computer time with two systems, too.

Most likely, we'll be going for another Dell. I've heard bad things about Dell from others, particularily when it came to customer service, but I've had the opposite experience. Especially with customer service. With the problems we've been having, this is the first time I've had to call tech support since we got our system in 2000 or so. They were extremely helpful, and really went all out to try and figure out a way to get that printer installed, even with a system as old as mine.

Now we just have to figure out how to set up 2 computers, when we only have 1 computer desk, and no room for another...

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Saint for Today

I've heard the story of Maximilian Kolbe before, but didn't know until a short time ago that today is his day. A true hero.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Random thoughts in the shower

So I'm showering to get ready for work when I reach for the back scubber and *slam* the Random Thought Monster strikes.

I don't particularily like our back scrubber. I would've preferred to have a bristle brush type, but since I was buying at the grocery store, I didn't have much choice in the matter. I've noticed, however, that I don't see bristle brush back scrubbers anymore, but since I avoid shopping as much as possible, perhaps I'm just missing them.

Instead of a bristle brush, ours has the plastic mesh poofy stuff that's so popular right now. I'm not big on this stuff. They fall apart and tear very quickly, for starters. I've had to reposition the poof on ours a few times because it keeps coming out on one side. I find they lather up too quickly; lather that washes out of the poof quickly, thereby requiring the use of more soap. We go through soap a lot faster because of this.

Which led me to thinking of other items that lather up quickly, but don't rinse out even faster. Sponges. Especially real sponges. They take forever to fully rinse out. Of course, you don't really see real sponges anymore. Usually, it's the man-made, plastic sponges. Using a real sponge, of course, is a Very Bad Thing. That's because a real sponge is a living creature harvested from the ocean floor. Killing a creature so that we can get nice and soapy is bad for the environment, cruel and unhumane. So instead of real sponges, we have plastic, man made sponges. Most plastic is a petroleum product. Which is taken from the earth and is a non-renewable resource. Plasitc, which doesn't decompose and has limited recycling ability (not that plastic sponges are recyclable in the first place). But a man made plastic sponge is A Good Thing, because no creatures died to make them. Using a real sponge that is natural and biodegradable is a Very Bad Thing, because we had to kill the sponge in order to use it's body to get all nice and soapy. Kind of like wearing fur or leather coat is a Very Bad Thing because animals are killed, even though leather and fur is a natural, renewable substance, can be processed using natural products (I don't know what chemicals are used now, but the old way uses the animals own brains, thereby using up more parts of the animal, meaning less is wasted...), and is biodegradable. Unlike the man-made materials used to make coats. Like the man made sponge, they don't last very long, either. I've got a leather coat I've been wearing for over 10 years. I've never had any other coat last as long.

Now, you can buy real sponges for the bath in some places, if you look for them, but there's somewhere else that you can get real sponges and not have to look hard at all. In the crafts and paints department. It seems that, while washing with a real sponge is a Very Bad Thing, using to paint with, whether on canvas or on your wall, is a Very Good Thing because... uhm... it's artistic? It does a better job that fake sponge? It lasts longer and is more durable than fake sponge? The end result is better than when using a fake sponge?

So, it's not ok to kill a sponge to wash with it, but it is ok to kill a sponge to paint with it. Killing a creature for our own use is a Very Bad Thing. Unless it's for artistic purposes. Then it's a good thing.

I'd say it's a good thing I don't take long showers. I might start contemplating the Middle East crisiseseses (what's the plural of crisis?) or something.

Oops. Too late.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Attention Shoppers: part deux

I've noticed a lot of people seem to have difficulties when it comes to the belt. You know, that black thing that moves your groceries from one end to the other so I can reach them and ring them in? Let me explain it to you.

First of all, the belt moves. It's supposed to. There's a laser beam at my end. When an item breaks the beam, the belt stops until I've cleared it again, then it starts moving again. It also has a timer on it. When the belt is empty, the belt will continue moving until either something else breaks the beam, or until it times out. Then it stops. It will not move again until the beam is broken, then cleared again.

Does that make sense? Good.

Now that that is understood, let me make the following suggestions.

Do not lean on the belt. Remember. It moves. It will move, even if you're on it. If you do lean on it and it moves, don't get pissed at me. It's supposed to move. That's how I can reach the rest of your groceries, remember?

Do not put your purse or wallet on the belt. Especially in the middle of your purchases. Your purse or wallet will move, too. Eventually, if you're not among those still attached to the purse or wallet, thereby getting angry with me when the belt moves and you suddenly go jerking off to one side, your purse or wallet will break the beam. The belt will stop moving. It won't move again until you move your purse or wallet. That means I can only reach so far to get your purchases. So while you're there digging through your stuff, trying to find whatever it is you're looking for, I am no longer able to ring in your purchases. We have a counter on the other side of the till, just for you do to stuff like that. Don't do it on the belt.

If you lean on the belt or put your stuff on the belt, you're also taking up the space needed by the people behind you. There's few things more irritating that ringing in all the purchases, only to find the customer has taken up the entire belt with their bags, jackets, arms, etc. Meanwhile, there's a line building up behind that person because all these other people are stuck holding their purchases, unable to put them on the belt. If the person behind you is carrying a 20 kg bag of dog food or an 18L bottle of water, for heaven's sake, let them have space on the belt!!!

Do not put your money on the belt. Or your loyalty card. Or your credit/debit card. The funny thing about the belt is that it's a big loop. Your flat credit cards, c oins and bills will not break the beam. If you're lucky, your card will end up on the counter beside my till, but more likely, it will end up under it. I do have a drawer I can open and retrieve items there, but keep in mind that the little drawer I have is there to catch stuff like crumbs and whatever else falls off of people purchases. That means I'm fishing your coins or cards out of all sorts of crud. There's also a chance that it will fall through somewhere else, and not be caught by this drawer. There's no way we can get at it then, without dismantling the entire counter. We're not going to do that. I can give you a new loyalty card, but if it's your cash, credit or debit card, you're SOL.

Use the divider bars. They're there to seperate your purchases from the people around you. If you don't use the divider bar, the belt will keep turning, and I have no idea if it's stopping at your purchases, or if it's the purchases of the person in front of you that had a gap in the middle. By the time they reach me, there is no gap. Unless you use the bar. If you don't use the bar, don't get pissed at me because I grabbed the next item, thinking it was part of the transaction I was currently ringing in.

Do not use your hand or arm. Yes, that will break the beam, but then you're stuck leaning to one side with one arm on the belt, and the other arm holding that wallet you were trying to get into, or still in the shopping cart because you haven't unloaded all your stuff yet. Use the divider. That's what it's there for.

If the empty belt is moving and you've only got one item, put it on the belt. It will move forward until it reaches me. Do not sit there stopping the belt with your hand, then removing your hand, only to desperately put it back again to stop the belt. If you just leave the belt, it will time out on its own. The more you stick your hand in front of it, the less likely it will finally stop. Not only are you making a fool of yourself, but you're causing the problem you're trying to solve. It won't time out and stop on its own if you keep doing that. Or here's a novel concept. If you leave your item on the belt, it will eventually break the beam and stop the belt on its own. Or how 'bout this. Use a divider.

Items that do not sit flat on the belt, or are transparent, don't break the beam. That means the 1 or 2L pop bottles that have little "legs" at the bottom. Or those plastic containers from the bakery. Or round things like watermelons. The belt takes a moment to stop, and in that moment, the item has moved enough that it's no longer breaking the beam. That means your 2L pop bottles get pushed to the end, where they fall over. Or your watermelon ends up stuck at the edge, rolling in place until something finally breaks the beam and stops the belt. Or that super expensive, Omega 3 dozen eggs that's double packed in transparent plastic ends up jammed against my till and getting crushed by the stuff behind it. Sometimes, I can spot this about to happen and stop it, but chances are, I'm too busy scanning and bagging your other stuff, or finishing with the customer in front of you. All it takes is to have another item beside the ones that won't break the beam to keep that from happening, or even just turning an item sideways. Or using the divider.

Did I mention you should use the divider? It's a very handy thing.

As for the other end of the counter... You know that spot I mentioned, where you can go through your purse or wallet? Where the debit machine is kept? And where I'm putting all your bagged groceries? Don't lean on there, either. Especially don't have 2 people leaning on there. If you're leaning on the counter and the grocery bags are piling up all around you, that should give you a hint that I need the space for your groceries. The counter isn't that big, and your upper body takes up a lot of space. Especially when you start tossing on your jackets, backpacks, or whatever else you're carrying.

Oh, and guys... I never thought I'd have to say this, but I've found that I do. HELP YOUR WIVES/GIRLFRIENDS WITH THE GROCERIES!! I can't believe the number of times I've seen a guy stand at the counter with his wallet while his significant other unloads the shopping cart, then takes it around to the other end and loads it all back in again. Then he pays for the stuff and she pushes the cart out as they leave. I've never seen a woman do this. Ever. I'm forever seeing guys do it. I've also never seen it happen when it's two guys shopping, only with one guy and one girl. Do the guys that do this think the fact that they're doing the payment transaction makes them exempt from actually touching the groceries? Do they have any idea how much it makes them look like lazy a$$holes? I always find myself pitying the woman they're with. Move your hieney, Buddy, and help load/unload that cart. It'll be done faster, and your significant other will appreciate the kindness. You'd be amazed how much difference such a little thing can make.

Enough ranting for now. I'll save the rest for part trois.

Oh, and

Have a nice day. :-D

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I guess we're just stupid, then?

I just caught a short article

We Eat Healthily And Exercise A Lot, Say America's Obese.

According to a new survey of 11,000 people carried out by Thomson Medstat, over three-quarters of obese Americans claim they have healthy diets. 40% of obese people in the USA say they do vigorous exercise three times a week or more. The researchers in this study wondered how many of the USA's obese citizens really understood what is meant by a healthy diet and regular, vigorous physical activity.

Let's see if I've got this right... since "obese" people claim to be eating healthy and exercising, the researchers think these people don't actually know what "healthy" or "vigorous" really is? Give me a break! We're fat, not stupid.

Or as my husband put it... "I'm wondering if the researchers understand what is meant by the term 'obese' "

Hmm... let's see. According to the BMI, I'm "morbidly obese." I briskly walk a minimum of about 2 km a day, 5 days a week (usually 7 days a week). That's not counting the extra kilometers I walk simply because I don't have a car, often carrying about 20 or more pounds of "stuff" in the process. I eat 3 modest meals a day, plus the occasional snack. I home cook our meals from scratch about 95% of the time, and I do know what a healthy diet is. Yes, we do have the occasional pop or chips, but very little overall. My husband also exercises daily, including swimming laps, Tai Chi, 3 hour long walks ending in a 200 step staircase, weight lifting, and using an elliptic, among other things. Neither of us is loosing weight.

Could we be making improvements? Of course. There's always room for improvement. However, we both exercise more than "average." We have diets that are healthier than "average." Medical tests repeatedly show that we are healthy; blood pressure, cholesterol counts, heart rates, etc. all showing us to be healthy - which is frustrating, considering my husband's continued mystery health problems that he's been battling for years. Yet, according to "conventional" wisdom, because we're fat, we must be lazy, unhealthy, and too stupid to even know what a healthy diet or active lifestyle looks like.

Yeah, right.

To the researchers who did this study, do you think it could be possible that these people really *do* eat well and exercise, but are still fat anyways? That maybe, there's more to being large than calories in, calories out?

Or is that just too difficult a concept to accept?

getting downright ticked...

Please excuse the following selfish venting... just need to blow of some steam.

Last week, we decided to upgrade our internet service to something that will be faster, and will allow us to use multiple computers and wireless internet, keeping in mind that we are planning to buy a new computer in the future. This new upgraded service requires a new modem, which we were told would arrive either friday or monday by Canada Post.

Nothing on friday.

Monday involved a lot of running around, but packages get delivered in the afternoon, so we hung around as long as possible before heading out again, knowing my husband would be home soon to recieve any packages.

Nothing arrived. No notices to say we missed the delivery, either.

Called our ISP. It's on it's way. Our upgraded service was to begin on monday, but without the new modem, we won't see a difference.

Tuesday. No modem. We have, however, been having major problems with our connections. Is it because our computer is on its last legs, or because of the new service? Until we get the modem, we won't know.

Today. Still nothing. Dh calls our ISP. They do a trace.

Canada Post tells them the package arrived on monday, it couldn't be delivered, so the left it at the post office. The post office is in our building. I'd phoned the post office and asked if a package had been left and it hadn't, but it was possible the package arrived later. Dh got an item number, so I go to the post office (twice, because they were still closed the first time I tried) and gave the number.

There's no package.

Not only is no package listed in the book, but I was told the driver was missed on monday - which usually means there were no packages for the driver to leave behind. She promised to look for the package manually, in case it didn't get listed in the book for some reason (highly unlikely) and would call me back in about an hour to let me know if it was there.

There's no package.

So here we have a trace done at the post office, saying that our package is supposed to be sitting at the post office downstairs. The post office downstairs has no record of the package ever arriving.

And we still have no modem.

My husband is talking to our ISP right now, and they're *still* trying to tell us it's at the post office. He's getting the run around as I type.

Someone, somewhere, is BSing, and from what we've done so far to trace the package, it looks to be someone at Canada Post.

We'll see how it turns out. Meanwhile, I just hope I can upload this post without my connection suddenly cutting out again.


Well, the package finally arrived. While my dh was on the phone at work, tracking down someone in the shipping department at our ISP, then calling Canada Post to complain, I got a call from the post office downstairs. The package had just arrived. I was talking to dh on MSN at the time, so I wrote to him about it. As that was happening, the folks he was talking to were insisting that the package had been there since monday.

So I go downstairs - again - to pick it up, and was told that the driver said he'd tried to deliver it yesterday, but no one was home. I was home all day, and my husband was home all evening - at no point was there no one available to pick up the package!

When I got back and told this to my husband, he said that Canada Post had called the post office in our building and was told by the woman who runs it that she'd recieved it on monday, but had forgotten to scan it. Since I saw with my own eyes the packages she'd recieved today - including ours - there' s no way that could be true. Besides, even if she had forgotten to scan it, they claim to have tried to deliver it directly to us at least twice at time we were home. If they *had* tried and failed to deliver it to us, there should've been a notice, which didn't show up until today's mail (after I'd picked up the package). On top of that, I'd phoned the post office downstairs on monday, in the off chance they left it there but didn't leave me a notice. It's a small enough post office that she remembered my call, and even where the package was coming from.

Somebody it lying through their teeth, and it's not the woman who runs the post office downstairs!

But, we finally got the thing, and I installed it right away. Since then, our internet connection has been stable, so it looks like that problem has finally been solved. We're enjoying the improved speeds, too. Now, if my computer can just hold out until we can get another one... ;-)