Life in Juniorvania

Quickly, a few things.

Today was the occasion of the first commute to work since the great migration. I have to confess I had some anxiety about this aspect of our move; formerly, we were able to log a twenty minute door-to-door trip to get to work, which definitely had its advantages (I can almost hear Mike comparing his own daily trip, jaw dropped in wonder that anyone would willingly prolong their daily travels as Spouse and I have done.) Anyway, our daily trip figured to be anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour each way. Knowing how long others commute each day, I felt a little silly even thinking about it, but I still wondered how Spouse and I would react to that kind of change to our daily routine – I guess it was a little “fear of the unknown” kind of thing. Anyway, our maiden voyage to the salt mines clocked in at just under 50 minutes from the moment that we got in the car in the driveway. That includes a couple of minutes to get the People’s Transportation unstuck from the glorious frozen Juniorvanian mud in the driveway (we had quite a cold spell move through the area overnight), and time spent walking from our parking space to the Building of Endless Toil.

Bottom line: it wasn’t bad at all. Spouse and I were both breathing a little easier, I think, when we proved to ourselves that we could do it and that it wouldn’t be that painful. This travel time is a price we can pay for the pastoral beauty of residing in Juniorvania.

The unpacking/home arranging is coming along apace. Spouse and I were making some changes in the mud/laundry room on Monday afternoon that involved putting up some shelves. Knowing that the People’s Department of Public Works would be so engaged on Monday, Sunday was spent largely in a frantic search through all available unpacked boxes for the cordless power drill/screwdriver set that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. Monday was the day for this gift to truly shine, but its whereabouts were sadly unknown. I exulted Sunday night, and I’ll admit it, I even danced around a little bit in the kitchen when my multiple Cousteau-ian descents into the packing cartons jammed in our storage room were rewarded and I was able to locate the errant power tool. Joy quickly turned to despair on Monday afternoon when I realized that the battery pack that drives the thing for some reason now holds only enough charge to drive approximately 1.5 inch and a half long screws. Change of plan, power tools are for wimps, time to go the manual route.

Popeye and Henry both seem to be thriving. Popper spent basically all day outside yesterday, and when he wasn’t outside, he was determined to bring a large portion of it inside in the form of twigs, leaves, and assorted detritus. We’ve been vacuuming a lot, and when I say “we” I mean “Spouse”. Henry has discovered that the many windows in the house offer an excellent vantage point for stalking watching the birds at the various feeders we’ve hung from low-hanging tree branches throughout the yard. We’ve already seen many a robin (who apparently didn’t get the memo about today’s snowstorm) and various chickadees, jays, cardinals and a woodpecker of unidentified (as yet) variety. Mr. Audobon will be hearing from us on that issue.

Life is pretty good among the People, with one exception: communications.

The Juniorvanian Broadcasting Corporation established a link to the outside world via satellite last week through a foreign service provider: Bell ExpressVu. Without going too far into the details of Juniorvanian animosity for the corporate behemoth that is Bell, suffice to say that the Glorious Leadership most emphatically stressed to the Procurement Department of the Government of Juniorvania that it would be best if communications services (phone, internet, television) could be secured via contract with more friendly corporate entities. Long story short: in this wee corner of the globe, Bell is the only show in town and the Procurement mandarins returned to the Glorious Leadership hat in hand and meekly declared their failure to establish succesful alternative links. For a few days last week, it looked as though this failure would pass without significant consequence for those responsible: the satellite HD picture was visibly better than that previously enjoyed via cable, and the available channels were many. The Procurement mandarins even survived a brief crisis involving communications failure between the UHF remote that is supposed to – but did not – operate the dual tuner from a remote location in the house (i.e. up in the bedroom, far from the site of the actual tuner). The crisis was averted by installing a coaxial extension to the rear of the receiver and relocating the UHF antenna in a less interference-intensive area of the house. The mandarins heaved a sigh of relief, and life went on in Juniorvania.

Well, as of this evening, those incompetent arseholes are all going to be sacked, I can tell you that.

We are having a mild snowstorm – this ain’t no BLIZZARD OF OUGHT EIGHT, and nobody’s going to be writing dedicated theme music to play over the title bumpers on CNN, because this is not an update-worthy weather event. Despite the modesty of this meteorlogical activity, however, the satellite signal is kaput. Gone. Zilch. Non-existent. Result: the People of Juniorvania are completely deprived of their evening in front of the tube, the one that they were greatly anticipating. The National Plan was to camp out in front of the Leafs/Bruins game and root the Buds on to whatever the hell they’re hoping to achieve now that we aren’t going to make the playoffs and we’re also not going to secure any kind of a decent draft choice.

Instead of watching the game in 42 inches of glorious high definition colour, augmented by the 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound system that the People painstakingly unpacked, erected and wired up on the weekend in anticipation of just such a moment, I am in Mission Control – high atop Juniorvania, listening to the game on Internet radio. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I wrote this and this about the romance of listening to the game, but dammit, sometimes the People just want to sit on their fat arses and watch the boob tube. This was definitely one of those nights.

The screen on my TV continuously – and blankly – thanks me for “my patience” while it continues to not show me the game. I telephoned the number I was given by Bell ExpressVu for Customer Service. They must have a different understanding of those words at Bell, because the result of that phone call was a recording that advised me that “as a result of severe weather in my area”, I might be experiencing disruptions in the satellite signal, which would return upon the cessation of the severe weather event. Being the accomodating and pleasant chap I am, I wanted to discuss the semantics of this message with a live human so I mashed keys until the automated menu – which very much wanted me to pay my bill, but would not reveal the secret codes required to contact humans employed by Bell – coughed up an entryway into the live Customer Service call queue. That queue commenced with another recording that advised that “the typical wait time” for service was eight to ten minutes. In other words, I was going to have to wait ten minutes on hold to tell someone that I’m not impressed that it’s snowing – a little bit – and I can’t watch TV, and of whom to inquire whether I would only ever be able to access the weather channel when it was a clear and sunny day, instantly rendering redundant all of the programming on that channel. The automated recording thanked me for my patience.

I didn’t have any, and hung up.

On a completely unrelated note, I know I promised to post the winner of the poetry contest, but it’s growing late and I want to be sure I do the winning entry justice when it is posted. Rest assured, the wait will be worthwhile. I promise to try and be a little more regular posting here now that the initial craziness of the Great Migration has subsided. I am also going to try and cobble together a little photo essay on the whole deal but, y’know, the best laid plans yadda yadda yadda.

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.


  1. I too listened to the Leafs Bruins game via internet radio from my current haven in Canada South aka Florida. What a waste of time – I must be a jinx to this version of my beloved Leafs.
    I think to see this game on TV would have been painful so maybe Bell did you a favour?

  2. I ended up listening to a Boston station – for some reason I was having trouble finding a reliable streaming feed out of southern Ontario – so the play-by-play was largely secondary to the ongoing and dramatic concern for the health of Chuck Kobasew. Seriously, they were on and on about the guy’s health status so much, for a few minutes I thought he had been elected Pope. It’s Chuck Freakin’ Kobasew ferchrissakes! He of the 57 career goals!! No offense to Mister Kobasew and/or his friends and family, but – so far – I doubt that the Hockey Hall of Fame has begun clearing an extra pedestal in the “K” section, preferring instead to play that one by ear.

    Or maybe I was just a bit bitter. Nah.

  3. You didn’t miss anything from “American Idle”- or is is “Idol”? either. The snow from Canada must be effecting their voices. (but maybe the snow was also in California) Glad to hear you put up more shelves? You were were so good in shop! —mom

  4. by the way, I talked to my friend Dennis in Toronto. He watched the game on Bell Expressvu no problem. He said there was some program outage briefly about 4:30 pm when his wife was watching something but the game was uninterrupted.
    Now you can have some serious words with your friends at Ma Bell.

  5. Here our satellite woes are limited to either the profusion of leafy growth (my arms are only so long, and can only trim the bushes back so far) in front of the dish, or perhaps the aim may need to be readjusted (it’s been four-five years since I put it up), or the hard drive in the box, running constantly when it’s plugged in, is finally giving up the ghost. Perhaps all three, but there’s unfortunately no time to investigate. Garage door yet to be fixed, you know.

    We had a tradeoff, theVet and I, in deciding where to move to. She now works one freeway exit (and no more than five miles) away, whereas I have a mixed-mode commute of 3.5 miles by bike and 50 miles by vanpool that usually ends up right around 90 minutes, door to door, each way. It’s not so bad — I can sleep on the vanpool, and I’ve found that the mornings are sufficiently cool to keep the sweaty stench to a minimum (but maybe there’s a reason they exile me to the rear bench), but it is a three-hour chunk out of the day, and one that (should they actually implement the 4×10 hour week instead of dangling it like some tantalizing carrot) occasionally has me thinking that there’s a lot of veterinary work in lots of places …

    I drove around a fair piece of suburban San Diego yesterday pursing questionable bargains on craigslist (wheeled implements of self-destruction); it’s staggering to consider that from border to Camp Pendleton, that’s fifty solid miles of humanity. You can own land, or you can live close to work; it’s a choice that everyone has to make eventually. Now that I look back on it, my dad had it made: 1/8 mile from home to office, and a fair bit of land to boot.

  6. Mike:

    Careful of that garage door – you only have so many fingers, man. I’m just sayin’.

    I can’t imagine doing the commute that you have; I know that much of it is what a person gets used to, but I feel (at least at this early stage) as though our drive leaves me at the outer edge of my tolerance. Although I’m not finding the commute difficult right now, there are issues with needing to plan ahead and to make sure that one of us is leaving work in time to get home to let Popeye outside, etc. that make me question how much more travel time I could reasonably accomodate in my life. I wish you luck with the 4×10 thing, it seems to me that such an arrangement would make for a lot of quality time to spend with figgy at just the right age to do so, lack of potty training notwithstanding.

  7. Geez and Mrs. Geez:

    The satellite feed actually came back within an hour or so and we managed to catch American Idol on the western U.S. Fox feed – so we really only “missed” the Leaf game.

    From the sounds of things, I think you’re right that ExpressVu may have been doing me a favour. That’s not going to be what I tell them, though, when I finally get a human on the phone.

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