Cats

An Open Letter to Whirlpool CEO, Jeff Fettig

To the Whirlpool CEO, Jeff Fettig,

Dear Sir,

My recent experience with your Whirlpool W10219708A Compact Front Loading Automatic Washer has been, how to put it delicately, something of a bit of a joke. Were I a calm and reasonable person, I might describe it as mildly frustrating, perhaps even undesirable. Instead, I find that the simplest and most effective way to describe said experience is to equate it to that of a Shakespearean tragedy, with more irony than even the Bard himself could possibly muster in this day and age. I am, therefore, obligated to write to you now and express my dissatisfaction with as much vim and vigor as I can muster. Vim, because that is one of the cleaning products I utilized after the A10 error supplied by your clownish machine caused my laundry room to flood, and vigor, because that was the rate I wished to strangle myself after I was able to finally run a successful load of laundry without calling in a local priest to exorcize what I can only assume is the restless spirit of some North American Buffalo God whose golden idol was bulldozed to make way for our condo.

Spoiler alert: The priest was useless and the rabbi has since stopped returning my calls.

But I am getting ahead of myself, as I am want to do when I find I have wasted the majority of my day scooping water out of the bottom of a washing machine with a ladle.

My husband and I purchased our condo just over two years ago, and were most thrilled to learn that appliances such as a washer, dryer, stove, and fridge would all be provided by Whirlpool. There is nothing quite like pulling the plastic off a shiny new brushed steel appliance. I suppose I might equate it to the sensation of peeling the top off a yogurt cup or, to give an example you are more familiar with, unzipping a dufflebag filled with grand wads of cash that you can roll around in naked.

But the good times were not to last. Fairly soon we began to notice several things going awry, least of all the fact that our neighbour down the hall turned out to be absolutely insufferable and, quite frankly, a bit of a dick, as well as the presence of a mad pooper in our building. Those issues were negligible though, when compared to the vicious, insensitive flashing of the A10 error which began to appear on our washer’s display. I’m sure you aren’t aware of what A10 means, given that you probably do not furnish your house with the same appliances that you sell. That would be silly. Why use an itty-bitty stackable washer and dryer when you can pay orphans with baby smooth hands to wash your clothes for you in the local enchanted spring? I am, of course, only assuming your local spring is enchanted. Ours is filled with geese, and thanks to a series of unfortunate events involving the retrieval, and subsequent returning of their eggs, I can confirm they are not enchanted.

A10, sir, means there is a clog. A nasty old boogery clog that is preventing the washer from draining. There is only one solution when an A10 error happens, and it is quite possibly the most aggravating solution your company could have possibly come up with. A10 means taking a flat blade and prying off the bottom bit of the washer (in my case I opted for a butcher knife so I could feel marginally superior to the machine I was servicing) and then proceeding to open the small valve at the bottom to clear out the blockage.

Youtube ensured me that this was very simply, but could get messy as there might be a bit of water in there, so make sure you have a towel nearby to mop up any mess.

No man, woman, child, or god could have predicted the torrential flooding of water that gushed from my washing machine. Indeed, had I not been wearing arm floaties there was a very strong chance that I might have drowned at that moment. Frantically I shoved the plug back into place and raced for more towels as the now soapy, mildew-esque water began to seep into our baseboards, which are now permanently warped, thank you so much. I threw every towel I had at the floor, watching helplessly as they became instantaneously soaked by the deluge of dank washer water.

Now here I must offer kudos. It is very convenient that the means to dry said towels is so close by. Theoretically one might able to toss the ruined towels into the dryer with one hand while sopping up the mess with another. However, I must caution you that towels, when soaked absolutely through, are rather heavy and thus, when attempting to pile them into the dryer, you can expect them to drip to the point where you may slip and fall on the linoleum, only to find yourself being crushed beneath a mountain of towels, quietly whispering ‘why’ as your life flashes before your eyes and the room around you grows dark and cold.

If you manage to struggle free from the pile of death and you manage to get those towels into the dryer, you are still up shit creek, as I learned. Because much like the vagina of your mother, it is still absolutely soaking in there.

That was rude of me. I’m sorry. I’m just so upset that I wasted my own day off doing this whole process over and over again.

Oh, didn’t I mention that? This is not the first time we’ve received the A10 error. It has happened multiple times over the last two years and, fortunately, we have become masters in the art of hastily acquiring towels, bed sheets, and duvet covers to cover the flood in order to prevent even further damage to our walls and baseboards.

Where was I? Oh yes. So you’ve managed to survive the flooding, the crushing, and now the drying, and somewhere a long the way you’ve found a spare dry square of cloth that you can place under the Magical Faucet of Neverending Water. You’ve probably accepted at this point that no amount of specialty fans or emergency clean up will help with this issue, so you might as well let yourself be baptised in the abysmal flood of suds. Miraculously, there is an end to the water. Somewhere between the swearing, crying, and fighting with your spouse, the washing machine does appear to be fully drained and you are able to carefully pick out the microscopic piece of lint that managed to ruin your entire load of laundry, your baseboards, and, at this rate, your marriage. Now you put it all back together, press the cancel button, let the machine finish draining automatically, and do a test run on “Spin/Drain”. Yes, you’ll have clean underwear for work ye-

Are you serious? Are you fucking kidding me? There is another A10 error? There isn’t even anything in the machine! I just cleaned out the trap! There is literally no reason why this machine should not work unless for some reason it is cursed in which case Whirlpool better have a damn exorcist on retainer because apparently I need one!

I’m not going to mince words any more than I already have. I am frustrated. In a wild effort to do several loads of laundry today (because your machine is only slightly bigger than a bread maker and thusly I have to do my four bras in two separate loads) I have soaked, dried, and soaked again the following:

5 towels

2 Duvet Covers

1 King-Sized Fitted sheet

6 rolls of Off-Brand paper towel

7 paper napkins

1 Fuzzy blanket

Untold number of hand towels

 

These are the atrocities of war. The victims of untold flooding. The smell of mildew is now firmly embedded in the above textiles and as such they have been relinquished to a cupboard which we have deemed to be our “Emergency Stupid Washer Is Broken” cupboard where we can grab them, as well as a bottle of vodka, at a moments notice. The duvet covers were unsalvageable even after being washed in a real machine. The off-brand paper towels were as useless as one might expect them to be, however I believe given the amount of fluid ounces of water that was used that day, even Bounty, the Quicker Picker Upper would have had their work cut out for them.

Now let’s talk about the smell. Yes, the smell. I don’t know if you have any idea what it is like to live in a condo, and before you decide to call your pent-house suite a condo let me explain: a condo is a living space where you can stand on either end and long jump to the other side without much effort. Condos are tiny. They are tiny and cramped and they do not come with air conditioning unless you pay extra, which we would have done except that we had already used up our ‘extra’ budget on a washing machine that is probably imbued with the spirit of Mrs. Topechka, an angry Ukrainian Turn-of-the-Century Pioneering Woman who does not care for our new-fangled ways. So there was no room in the budget for an air conditioner, which, given that we live in Alberta, means we rely heavily on fans during the summer. But not all the fans in the world can stop heat and water from crushing together and creating the stench.

Let me tell you, when something stinks in a condo, it really stinks. My husband’s mildewy dress shirts, for one thing, which he put in to wash over night only to wake up and discover an A10 error the next morning. Our towels. The towels we used to clean our bodies with. All of these things, now forever drenched in the scent of mold, mildew, and probably my tears. And the stench in the condo is horrendous. The water sat in the washer for less than 12 hours and yet the smell that culminated in our condo is so ripe that it is literally transcending time. I can feel my eggs shriveling up in my ovaries. My children will be born with a perpetually puckered nose simply because the odor in the condo is clinging to everything. My cats curled up into the corner of the den and projectile vomited everywhere before dying abruptly. My dog has turned rabid and is now locked in the bathroom, which I imagine is making her even more upset given that the bathroom is right across from the laundry room and is probably the second most smelly place in the condo.  They say Vicks Vapor Rub under the nose is a good way to deal with the smell of decaying bodies, but what they don’t tell you is that smearing it all over your face will only serve to help the smell of mold and mildew permeated deeper into your pores. I am actually molding as I sit here and type this.

But yeah, sure, shit happens, right? Roll with the punches. I did try to make a game out of it for a while. I played “What will dry these towels faster: The Majesty of the Sun or This Perpetually Disappointing Whirlpool Appliance?” I am sorry to say by the end of the saga it was Majestic Sun: 4, Whirlpool Appliance: 2. Of course, those games only take you so far, especially as you spend more and more time steeping in the smell of mold, watching water trickle carefully out of a small valve that you have adjusted the perfect amount to avoid more flooding. It makes a person introspective, really gets you thinking about life, the universe, and how goddamned crappy an appliance has to be if the smallest item not classified as a textile in the washer somehow causes it to have a grand mal seizure. I mean, let’s be honest here, I know it’s a small appliance for a small space, but I should be able to leave a receipt for a box of tampons in my pocket without having to worry if the neighbours below us are going to have flooding in their kitchen.

And yeah, cleaning your pockets is always a good plan prior to doing a load of laundry, but give me a fucking break, I actually do have other things to do (aside from today which I dedicated entirely to watching water trickle from a valve, did I mention that yet?) I have a condo to clean, a rabid dog to walk and/or put down, food to make, actual work to do for my actual job which I am actually paid to do, and clothes to pu- Oh, well. I guess I don’t have clothes to put away at the moment, but we know whose fault that is, don’t we? The point is, people generally live very busy lives these days, and worrying about a scrap of lint in a pocket is not on the top of my priority list. If your product cannot sustain itself in those little moments, how can anyone ever expect it to clean the grass stains off of my metaphorical snub-nosed child’s soccer gear? Failure to do its most basic job in the face of slight interruption does not bode well for the longevity of your product.

And before you ask What about warranty? Yeah, that was a year long. And as is tradition with all things produced in the 21st century, it broke roughly 6 minutes after said warranty expired. Of sure, we called in the dealer a couple times, but that was about as useful as nailing a banana to a fruit bat. It was not useful at all, and was incredibly pointless and, in the long term, will probably result in the loss of life.

So what is the point of all this, you might ask, knowing full well that you are going to receive a snarky reply.

The point is I assumed Whirlpool was simply a brand name and not a description of what I could expect draining from my washing machine. The point is I would very much like to know why the Whirpool washer has the constitution of an anti-vaxxers child in a room full of whooping cranes with nasty coughs. The point is, I would very much like my washer to not break down the next time I forget to pick each stray thread off of my jeans with a pair of tweezers prior to washing them. The point is, I am horribly disappointed with your product, with its ability to do its most basic function, with my ruined towels and bed sheets and duvet covers, with my warped baseboards that will detract from the resale price of the condo and, perhaps finally, I am disappointed knowing that it will only be a matter of weeks before A10 comes back and we have to repeat the whole process all over again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my head in our Whirlpool oven. I’m not sure if I’m hoping it will work or not. One thing is certain, the outcome either way is sure to be exciting.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky

Walk to Fight Irony!

I like a lot things in life. I like bunnies, cupcakes, kitty cats, the word ‘snorkel’, banana bread (with or without walnuts), lime flavoured things, and Final Fantasy VII.

I do not like my arthritis. It is degenerative, which I am told is a bad thing. Ergo, I dislike it even more.

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Connections

I think we’re by-products of our connections. When we’re born, we exist as an empty slate, but the moment the doctor touches us, the nurse swaddles us, and our parents hold us, we begin to form. We’re impacted on a daily basis by these connections. We don’t always see them or feel them or understand them, but they exist and they tweak who we are and how we exist. That makes us a constantly shifting physical being, as our minds make sense of all around us. We are never static, and we don’t exist in a vacuum.

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Yet Another Open Letter to the City of Calgary and the City Council “Art? I am the art!”

Dear City of Calgary Council,

Integrity Commissioner here, thought maybe I would chime in on this whole ‘funding for public art’ issue that has been troubling some of you for the last little while.

Of course the drop in oil prices has us all panicking and retreating to our Campbell’s Soup-Stocked emergency shelters and panic rooms. We have to examine things that are important to us as a city. Running water is obviously a yes, as is electricity. Ring road? Maybe not as high on the priority list. There are the library renovations down town – high on the list because books.

But where does public art fall on this ever-changing list of wants and needs? Some would argue it falls no where on the list because public art is about as useful to the city as a fingerless glove to a hook-handed public official. Others might argue that public art is a means for our city to show visitors where our values lie. We find some level of importance in 50 foot mesh heads and giant blue rings that absolutely bear no resemblance to one of the various hoops that are taken out by the carnies every time Stampede rolls around. Nope. It is definitely art.

The issue here is that the Calgary City Council is viewing this as a black and white matter. Either we put money towards public art or we feed the orphans. Allow me to provide an alternative: Have the orphans make the art. Ha ha ha! I jest, of course. Everyone knows we ship those free-loaders to Red Deer.

But seriously, folks. You know that art can be cheap, right? Your 17 foot sculpture of Naheed Nenshi’s skeletal structure doesn’t have to cost $45,000. The problem is you folks are awful at haggling which is exactly why every time your middle-eastern friends come round to your house and see your Persian rug they relentlessly mock you for it. Because you paid for it. Someone forgot to teach you folks how to haggle. Well, don’t worry because I am here to supply you with a series of potential public art projects that are cheap and can, for the most part, be made using basic supplies found around your house!

  • Take some hockey sticks. I mean, like, all the hockey stick. Heck, take the Edmonton Oilers ones (they obviously aren’t using them). Okay, now super glue them together to form a deciduous tree, like a maple or something. Maybe an elm. Now, take all the hockey pucks, and I mean all of them, and super glue them to the trees to form ‘leaves’.
    • What does it mean? This particular piece, entitled “The Hockey Pokey” represents the effervescent love of hockey that all Canadians share. Or something like that.
  • For this one you are going to need some condiments. A lot of condiments. I’m talking relish, mustard (both grainy and yellow), ketchup, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, jalapeños, everything you can think of. Now you’re going to take some bed sheets and just soak them with condiments. Arrange the soaked bedsheets in a ball like structure so they look a globe, with each condiment-sheet being a different country. Shellac the heck out of it so it doesn’t start stinking up down town. Place on a stack of used sofa cushions for display.
    • What does it mean? I call this piece “Condiments of the World”, get it? Ha ha ha! It’s like ‘continents’ but not! The pun basically makes the whole thing. It represents our unity as a multi-cultural society through food! Or something like that.
  • This one has multiple purposes. You know how we used to have those cow statues everywhere? Well, in this particular piece we will shave the head of all the City Council members for charity, preferrably the Alberta Children’s Hospital (I guarantee this would raise a good wad of cash, this negating the need to ever discuss where we will get funds for public art again.) We will then take the hair and, combining it with a paste made up of old root vegetables and Q-tips, we will create a new cow statue.
    • What does it mean? I don’t know. I figure the general public would probably get a kick out of seeing the whole of the city council being bald. Plus charity. We could call it “Our Beef With City Council!” Or something like that.
  • This next one is great because it involves recycling. We are going to take some wine bottles. Basically all the wine bottles everywhere. Also all the empty liqueur bottles. We are going to smash the hell out of those bottles. We are going to take that crushed glass and create some pretty-ass looking layers of colour in a giant clear tank. It will be like one of those sand art bottle things you can get from mall kiosks during the holidays, only it will be made from all the empties that the people of Calgary have accumulated. The scene to be shown in the glass? Well, I think we could put it to a vote, let the public decide! After all, it’s going to be out in the open for everyone to see. Personally I am in favour of having art that shows my cats. Just my cats, doing cat stuff.
    • Seriously, What does it mean? “Through the Looking Cats” would be a delightful play on words that would show our love of literature. Or something like that.
  • What? Not enough? Okay. Um, let me think. How about we take all the plastic bags we get from an average trip to the grocery store and knit those bastards into a giant 20 foot tall touque that can also double as a kids park or, or! We put it on top of that giant mesh head outside the Bow. Nailed it!
    • I don’t get what it means. I know. Art is hard to understand sometimes. “Touquing it to the Next Level” would be the first of many major art projects that will be added to the Mesh Head, hereby known as ‘Leslie’. By the time we are done Leslie will represent the inscrutable spirit of Calgarians everywhere. Or something like that.
  • Geez, you people are demanding. Okay. How about this. Next to the Giant Blue Ring we place a Giant Red Octagon, a Giant Orange Triangle, a Giant Yellow Square, a Giant Green Isosceles Triangle (for diversity), and on the other side a Giant Indigo Oval, and finally a Giant Purple Star.
    • But… Why? I don’t know. Okay? At least it will be a rainbow and people will stop laughing at the single blue ring. Or something like that.
  • I am almost out ideas, but of course I saved the best for last. We’re going to need 76 lbs of wild flower seeds, two 20 foot watering cans, a giant marionette hand and a series of ropes and pulleys. To pull this off someone is going to have to be hired to live in the miniature mushroom hut and dress up as an elf. They’ll have to be very good at yelling at children and the elderly but not use racial obscenities. Colour-blind candidates are preferred, hopefully with no family connections and the ability to still legally enter the US.
    • I… What? I call it… “The Reckoning of Saint Bacon and the Whinnying Quartet”. Don’t ask questions. It’ll cost about $200 but I can make it work on less. In the end it will amuse, bemuse, and even terrify those who see it. No one will ever question Calgary again. We will be known as the city that lived. Others will bow in fear and admiration of us. Or something like that.

You’re welcome, Calgary.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky, esq.

Integrity Commissioner (?)

In Which a War is Waged

Sharing a bed with someone is like a war that is fought entirely by special ops agents who act out in the most deviant ways possible. Their methods for gaining the upper hand are based around dirty tricks and propaganda delivered in nightly air raids. If you’re lucky you have a larger military force on your side than your partner.

Even the whole concept of sleeping in a bed suggests different sides. His side, her side; his lamp, my lamp; his corner, my corner! Mine!

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In Which Cats, Cats Cats, Cats? Ha ha! Cats!

Get your tinfoil hats on, folks, because the internet is in our brains and our constant contributions to social media is ruining our lives. Also, cats.

For the last four days I’ve been taking part in Block Week. The hellish University of experience of completing an entire course, that is four  months worth of material, in five days. It has been an interesting experience. In the more exhaustive moments I have searched the darker portions of the internet for anything and everything that might keep my brain active. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Despite how tiring the 9-5 schedule has been, the information garnered from Social Media Connectivity and Jibber Jabber has been hugely eye-opening. Facebook’s algorithms, the inescapable nature of the ‘like’ button, the sad puppy-dog-eyes of Flickr, and the sneakiness of Twitter. Oh yes, they’re on to us. They know everything.

Also cats.

I half-heartedly wondered how many times I would have to mention ‘cats’ and ‘kittens before all my Facebook advertising started to tune in and relate to those lovely felines. Cats. Imagine my surprise when I opened up my WordPress reader this morning and discovered the #1 blog that was recommended for my enjoyment was Cats & Chocolate. Recommended because other people I follow have liked it? Nice try, WordPress algorithms. The people I follow are a distinctly dog-centric group.

But that still got me thinking about cats, and also about how if my simply mentioned ‘cats’ repeatedly on Facebook might possibly somehow influence my WordPress recommendations, what would an entire blog post about cats and conspiracy theories and cats and also, did I mention cats? do to my Facebook ads. Cats.

Maybe I will add a ‘tag’ of cats. Maybe the category will be cats. Maybe I will post a picture of my cat.

Cats

Cats

And then maybe after that I will cats with some cats doing cat-like stuff with cats.

Wearing an orange peel on your head like a cat

Wearing an orange peel on your head like a cat

Because sometimes cats and cats.

I’m not saying it is a conspiracy theory (it is not a theory.) The whole algorithmic jumble is clearly very efficient. But just how efficient is it? I would assume that WordPress and Facebook must be linked in some way, like button or not. Toss in Google (which I will be utilizing to look up interesting facts about cats in a moment) and you have a trifecta of internet connectivity. Or cats. Either one really. Probably more cats.

Hey, how many cats does it take to screw in a ligtbulb? None. They do not have opposable thumbs and are also too short to reach the light.  Silly cats.

Now what if my first Google result on Interesting Cat Facts is a Wikipedia Article on felinus domesticus (have not confirmed that is the Latin for domestic housecat. Like most North Americans, I assume I can ‘Latinize’ any words by adding ‘us’ to the end of it.) Suddenly Wikipedia is in on it. Suddenly Wikipedia knows that I want to know about cats. Is it telling Google that I’m a can aficionado? Has the SPCA been alerted that I am a potential cat hoarder? How soon will it take for the Internet to know that I cat cats so cat-ing much?

Oh my god, you can't just ask someone why they are a cat.

Oh my god, you can’t just ask someone why they are a cat.

Then add the fact that I have Youtube videos of Beemo being a freaking cat. Who am I kidding? I don’t have to look up cats. They already know about cats. Oh my cat. Oh man, they know everything.

Holy cats, we are so screwed.

Cats.