Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can't a Dog Get a License in This Town?

To protect all innocent parties, and to make this post even more ridiculous, let's call the town in question:  The City of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton, or How Am I Supposed to Live Without You for short.

After my puppy Kate received her rabies vaccination a couple of weeks ago, the quest to finally get her license from the city began.  In this day and age, the first place to go to would be the official website of the city where Kate resides.  The county, which covers all unincorporated areas and a couple of stray cities, has a very detailed and helpful website when it comes to licensing dogs and cats.

Unfortunately, the official website of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You wasn't very helpful regarding dog licenses.  A Google search of the website (I typed in "site:URL-in-question dog license") revealed only one bit of slightly useful information:  A number of years ago, a city-wide audit revealed that How Am I Supposed to Live Without You charged, at least at the time, the lowest fee for dog licenses, compared to neighboring cities.

Great.  Other than giving me hope of saving a few dollars here and there, I still didn't know where exactly to spend those dollars to get a dog license for Kate. I had to downgrade my use of technology and use a telephone, but who could I call?

Fortunately, the City of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You has its own police department and its own animal control division.  The dog catcher would know where to get a dog license!  After searching for numbers listed on their website, I called How Am I Supposed to Live Without You's animal control, and they didn't give me any information, like pricing or whatever.  Instead, they forwarded me to the finance department's phone line, which had an automated menu (Press 1, Press 2, etc.), which led me to their voicemail.   No matter what sequence of numbers I pressed, I got their voicemail.  Apparently the finance department seemed to be perpetually at lunch, and I didn't have the time to wait around for a return call.

Thanks so far, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.  (I was being sarcastic.)  It was time to formulate a new plan:  Actually go to City Hall and demand some freakin' information!  My taxes pay for this information, information to allow me to pay more city fees!

A day or so later, last Friday, my brother and I went on an adventure to the downtown section of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, possibly to break through the City Council's chamber doors and interrupt a meeting of the finance department -- to get a dog-gone dog license.  I rarely go downtown.  The last time I did was to apply for a business license some years back.  Unlike dog licenses, the city's website was pretty comprehensive when it came to business licenses.  The area around City Hall is probably the oldest part of town.  It had a sense of history, unlike the organized suburban tract sprawl in newer parts of the city.  I think Huell Howser should pay a visit to How Am I Supposed to Live Without You's downtown area, if he hadn't already.

Appropriately approaching the status of shaggy dog story, we discovered that City Hall closed on Fridays.  I'm guessing this is because of the sad economic state of pretty much everything these days.

And so the Fellowship of the Dog License, my brother and I, returned on Monday to City Hall.  We went to the police department headquarters, which is inside City Hall, and the lone officer (not to be confused with a loan officer -- okay, there is no time for puns within a parenthetical) inside told us to go to the long line nearby to the cashier.

Most of the people in this line were probably paying a late electric bill or something to that effect.  Anyhow, this was the correct place to purchase a dog license.  The cashier was helpful, and the license cost $9 -- probably the lowest in the county -- yes, $9 and about a week's worth of sleuthing, err, bumbling.

The moral of the story goes to cities with websites:  Fill your website with some relevant information.  You don't have to put everything in it, just some information relevant to a sizable portion of your population.  I'm pretty sure that households with dogs (and cats) make up a sizable portion of the City of How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, so I hope they will update their website accordingly.

Otherwise I would have to run for mayor, and no one wants that -- especially me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Can't Remember 10 Hours Ago, Let Alone 10 Years Ago (But I'll Try)

To sort of understand the little nuances of this flawed recollection of September the 11th, 2001, we'll have to jump further back to late February of that year.  I was in college.  Around that time, on a whim, I had signed up to be an ordained minister -- via the Internet, which was accessed through dial-up America Online at home.  Back in those days, I lived my life as arbitrary and "for the hell of it" as possible (perhaps I still do).

After class one day in late February -- a Tuesday or a Wednesday -- there was a Red Cross van, accepting blood donations.  So I thought, "Why the hell not?" and went for the free juice and cookie.  I felt pretty good about donating blood, and I probably went to another class later that afternoon.

I essentially forgot about the whole blood-letting ordeal until I received a letter from the Red Cross months later, explaining that they had to reject my donation of red blood cells because there was some weird stuff floating around in it.  (Seriously.  WTF?)  Not wanting to have the reputation of literal bad blood -- and confident of my own blood's awesomeness -- I made an appointment to go to one of the Red Cross' special buildings to have my blood tested (and vindicated!).

The appointment was for Tuesday, September the 11th, sometime during the day.  Anyway, let's backtrack for a bit to August the 11th.  I had invited some of my closest friends from high school to my house for some pizza, soda (as we were in that lame adult limbo between 18 and 21 at the time), and general mellow merriment.  I guess I had to mention that bit of the summer because the date just sticks out in my head.

The fall quarter at my university hadn't started yet, so early September was still prime vacation time.  I don't remember what I did on Monday, September the 10th, but I must have had a late night (early 11th) because I slept in.  I think I woke up to the sound of my answering machine picking up a message, or from a family member (my mom or my brother) telling me that there was a voicemail for me on the answering machine.  It was an employee from the Red Cross informing me that we should probably cancel postpone the blood test, due to -- and I can confidently quote this from memory -- "the bombings on the East Coast."

She said bombings.  No one really knew was was going on exactly at the time this Red Cross employee called my home.  Well, you probably know the story from there.  I think I called or used America Online to make sure my friends were OK.  Some of them travel a lot, and at least one of them studied on the East Coast at the time.

Well, if you were wondering, my blood did have its judgment day at the Red Cross.  I also wrote a decent check (for a starving college student) to donate to the Red Cross.  Anyhow, the results came in weeks later, and my blood was good to go -- at least it was good to go, ten years ago.  (I'm fairly confident it's good these days as well -- fairly confident.)

Sometime between September and November of 2001, my family got our first DVD player.  On November 11th, I got ridiculously sick from a bad cold or flu.  I remember this because on that day, I -- arbitrarily, for the hell of it, of course -- vowed to no longer use over-the-counter medicine whenever I got sick or got allergies.  I essentially gave myself medical hell for no good reason, yes, for the hell of it.  (Fast-forward to 2004, I had enough of my drug boycott and took a Sudafed.  It was a freakin' relief.)

I remember I proto-blogged (wrote and manually published HTML web pages) about my thoughts and feelings for several months after September 11th, 2001.  These thoughts from a 19 or 20 year old might be floating somewhere in cyberspace and/or in my CD-R/DVD+R/external hard drive, data-hoarding archives.  But that's it, I guess.

Now I have to get back doing what I do -- maybe not "best" -- but I sure like it.  I'm making music.  Right.  About.  Now.