Tuesday, September 30, 2003

It's the Paws!

I get pets. 

Which is a good thing, seeing as I have one.  I guess what's so remarkable about it is I got the kitten before I "got" pets.

I mean, I had a goldfish when I was a kid, which isn't exactly the same.  Was scared of dogs.  Liked cats, but didn't like when they sat on my lap.  Pets were messy.  You either had to walk them or clean their boxes.  And they had doggy breath, or smelled like cat food.  And dogs bit and cats scratched.  And they were always begging at the table or jumping on the counter.  And getting fleas and fur everywhere.

And somehow all this changed a few weeks ago.  I finally got it.  I mean, sure, I had already figured out that my cat is the cutest thing ever, and "salmon-breath" was an adorable little smell, and she only nipped at me 'cause she loved me.  But I saw someone walking their dog and this time I saw it!  I saw the person a few paces ahead and the dog scampering to keep up, and just bouncing along with the biggest unconditional love smile on its canine face.  And I thought, "How can you not get one of these?"  It's just so easy to give them so much joy they can't contain themselves.  What's not to love?

And they're cute.  The cute widdle furry face, and the widdle pink paws.  How can you not love pink paws?

P.S.  No, mom, this does not mean I'm considering having kids.

Monday, September 29, 2003


So, I'm gonna be in a friend's wedding at the beginning of November.  Pretty navy colored dress it would be nice to fit into.  I need pretty navy colored shoes to go with it.

Requirements:  Must have a heel of some height, but the heel can't be spiky (because the ceremony is outdoors and I don't want to aerate the lawn).  Must not be open-toed (because the wedding is in November and outdoors).  Must be navy in color.  Must be available in size 5.  (I swear they've started lying about shoe sizes.  I used to wear a 6.  I think there's some sort of conspiracy to make all shoes sized slightly larger.  So that women with big feet can say they wear a teenier size.  Which is all well and good until those of us with ACTUALLY small feet end up being pushed off the chart.)

I went to "Designer Shoe Warehouse" -- one of those places with a bazillion different shoes all lined up on the shelves.  Was there for about an hour.  Not one damn wide-heeled, close-toed, navy-colored 5 in the place.  Not one.  I started changing my qualifications.  OK, maybe I can walk on my toes so a spike heel would be ok.  Nothing.  All right, I can freeze, I'll get an open-toed shoe.  Still Nothing.  Fine, I'll buy a size 6 and stuff it with insoles so it'll fit.  Yet again, Nada.  Gave up.  Went to Macy's.  Closest thing they had was an open-toed, spike-heeled, navy sandal in a 6.  Left in disgust. 

And to add insult to injury, I didn't get a parking validation, so I had to cough up $5 to park in their stupid lot, just because they didn't have anything I wanted to buy.  It's like a "picky shopper" fine.

Came home, poked around on the net, and found this in less than five minutes.  Let's hope it fits and doesn't look ridiculous.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Now This Is Disturbing

Came home from a weekend away to find a puddle of cat puke on my bedroom floor. This was disturbing.

It was disturbing *not* because my cat was tossing her treats, but because THE BEDROOM DOOR HAD BEEN CLOSED SINCE FRIDAY. In other words, when I grabbed my suitcase, closed the door, and headed off to the airport, I somehow missed a fresh-from-the-factory pile of cat ralph in plain view in the middle of bedroom floor.

It's this sort of behavior that makes me wonder how I get to work in the mornings. Because cat vomit isn't what I'd call easy to miss. It certainly didn't match the color of my carpet. And if this particular deposit was anything like the other two I witnessed on Friday (Kitty clearly had some digestive issues that morning), it wouldn't have smelled minty fresh, if you know what I mean. It had to have been no more that six inches away from my suitcase, and yet I totally passed it by.

Distracted much?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Well, screw that.

9/25/03.  10:45 p.m.  Cliffhanger revealed.

And I'm going to keep watching E.R. why?

(As I haven't been keeping up with my E.R. spoilers, I don't know whether this is one of those character-is-definitely-being-killed-off-because-actor-wants-a-movie-career moments, or instead one of those no-we-didn't-really-kill-him-it's-a-mistaken-identity-thing-just-to-make-you-all-nervous things.  Either way:  Boo on them.)

The Internet Is Cool

Yeah, well, there's a controversial headline that's gonna get me lots of hate mail.

Hear me out, though.  The other day I bought (on the internet) tickets to hear Simon & Garfunkel -- a concert I would never have even known about were it not for (wait for it) the internet.

Every now and then, when something nifty (like concert tickets) comes my way courtesy of Mr. Internet, I get all misty thinking about all the really amazing things that have come into my life thanks to the innovation.  Lots of friends I wouldn't have made.  Lots of trips I wouldn't have taken.  Lots of shows I wouldn't have seen.  (Lots of discounts I wouldn't have known about.)  Lots of really cool material goods I wouldn't have purchased.  And so forth.  Makes me just want to give it a great big hug.  (I'd hug my computer in lieu of hugging the 'net, but the cat might get jealous.)

And then I get to wondering -- is there any other innovation in my lifetime that has changed my life so completely?  I mean, I remember one night -- less than a decade ago -- when I discovered I didn't have to waste my time on AOL message boards and could actually use this thing to browse the web.  (Back when you had to type in Keyword: WWW.)  And in one night -- well, nearly one all-nighter -- as I learned what was out there (and how quickly it was expanding), the internet immediately went to the top of my list as my first resource to research anything.

Has any other thing changed my life as much?  Probably not.  The only thing that comes close is the microwave -- but that didn't so much change my life as just make it easier to continue with my non-cooking lifestyle.  The internet actually changed everything.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Oh yeah, the trip

Haven't done much on the trip lately. After the initial spurt of massive internet research, bugging friends and family who've already been, and complaining to and about the travel agent (oh, the shame of it all! I'm using a travel agent! First time in years. I should be booking this whole thing myself, and would be, were it not for the side-trip to Fiji. Ever try finding a hotel in Fiji with nothing to go on? Yeah) -- so, er, anyway, after all that activity for a month of so, I'm sort of... not.

This is not to say I'm not still outrageously excited about the whole thing -- hell, SOMETHING kept me on that damn exercise bike last night, and it sure wasn't the warm glow of satisfaction that came with staying on that thing for 20 minutes at level (gasp) 4. Actually, maybe *that* was the warm glow of sweat. (That might explain why it was wholly inadequate to make me want to keep going.) No, the trip is still the carrot at the end of all this.

Don't misunderstand me. I like the idea of being all fit and healthy, and fitting into tinier clothes, and being able to bench press something heavier than my cat. But I don't like that idea enough to actually DO anything about it. (Because I also like sitting on my butt watching TV and eating snacks. Rather more than I like going to the gym.) This whole gym thing is strictly short-term. Maybe I'll ultimately find another sport to take up that might have the unexpected side benefit of fitness -- and I wouldn't object to that -- but the exercising I'm doing now is only means to an end.

Note to Self

You do not have to stay up till 1:00 a.m. to watch that tape of "Queer Eye" you made when you went to the gym.

Yes, yes, I know -- it's FUN watching these guys transform a loser into a mensch in one sitting. But so's sleep.

I think the problem comes from my little rule about not taping something unless I'm going to watch it the night I tape it (with an exception for vacations, of course). I just have trouble letting tapes accumulate -- with the result that if I don't watch something when it first gets taped, I never get around to watching it.

Sorta like the 3 netflix movies that have been sitting here idly for more than a week. I didn't watch them when they first came in, and now I'm having trouble finding the time to give them a view.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sorry, gotta bitch about AOL again

I'm trying, really.

See that entry down there?  Guess how long it took me to post it.  If you say "longer than it took to write," you're correct.

I wrote it in MS Word, so as not to waste connection time.  I then logged on.  Copied it.  Pasted it.  Tried to post it.  Failed because of the 2500 character limit.

Now, I know it was well under the limit.  Word clocked it at something like 1400, and I didn't have any html in it.

Figured maybe it had something to do with the line spacing in Word.  Single spaced it.  Did the whole copy/paste/post thing again.  Failed again.

Figured the problem might've been the font.  Saved it as plain text.  Reopened.  Copied/pasted/posted.  Too long, says AOL.

Finally copied it into an email.  Mailed it to myself.  Opened it.  Copied the text from the received email.  Pasted it here.  It posted without problem.

Exactly how is this supposed to be convenient?  I understand that AOL Journals are supposed to be all user-friendly and everything, and I'd say that, so far, the experiment has failed miserably.  First, you can't use html from a Mac.  Then, there was all that crap with posting photos -- and the stupid "album" software I'm now saddled with.  Now, I spend twice as much time posting a short thought because it either (a) actually exceeds the character limits and I have to go back and edit it or (b) the formatting from Word carried over in a way that exceeded the character limits.

AOL Journals' current grade:  D.  And that's 'cause I'm feeling generous.

Going to the gym tonight.  Oddly looking forward to it.

Game On!

I have to say I'm pleased the recall election will go ahead.  This isn't based on any belief regarding the merits of the 9th Circuit's decision, or even the merits of the recall itself.  It's just that I think the electoral process is kinda cool, and the gubernatorial recall is a somewhat unusual manifestation of the process, and I'm looking forward to seeing it play out.

I mean, history gives us plenty of examples where, if you're not happy with the way the guy in charge is doing the job, you take matters into your own hands and storm the castle.  Assassinations, coups, good old-fashioned revolutions - these are, shall we say, the Old School ways of effecting a regime change.   That the California Constitution has seen fit to provide a rather less bloody way for the people to express their displeasure with the current leader of the State is an unambiguously good thing.

To be fair, I think I'd be enjoying this as an abstract study in democracy if I didn't, you know, live here.  Seeing as I do, I will be somewhat more directly affected by the results of the election - quite probably in a fiscal sense.  And I'll certainly take things seriously when I drive on over to my local U-Haul (I wasn't kidding) to cast my ballot.   But, for now, I'm just enjoying the fun of my unprecedentedly huge packet of voting materials, and the idea that - if the People want it bad enough - they can vote a governor out of office before his term has expired.

I go away. I come back.

MAN, leave the internet alone for four days and damn, shit accumulates.

People accuse me of being addicted to the internet.  (Those people are generally the same ones that have a REALLY narrow definition of "work-related purposes," as in "the internet should only be used for work-related purposes.")  But it isn't so much an addiction as ... a neurosis. 

Basically, I hate falling behind.  I like being caught up.  There are some message boards and journals out there that I've read since Day One, and I can't STAND the idea that there's been stuff added to them that I haven't read.  Particularly when I've been with them for this long.  It's like breaking a streak, and I just can't do that.  So when I come back from vacation, I feel as though there's all this "work" that has piled up for me -- in this case, getting caught up on the websites I keep up with.  Because I have to read this stuff.

Cat was really happy to see me for a few hours.  All rubbing up against me and happy to have me home.  Now she's biting again.  Ah well.  Glad to see she hasn't come to any psychological harm during my absence.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Candidate or Actor? Answers

Well, my drive to mock the recall election has dropped down to a crawl now that the 9th Circuit has delayed it.  I mean, I might have six whole months of mocking time -- I've gotta spread it out so I don't peak too early.

Still, I'm going on vacation and wouldn't want to leave you for a whole weekend without the answers to our little Candidate or Actor? game.


1. Who wishes "Peace and love to all"?

Actor Seth Hampton.

2. Who "is also a rusty classical organist, a dabbler on the piano, a tap-dancer, marathon-runner, purple-belt in Karate, and totally geeked-out over The Lord of the Rings"?

Actor Tom Beyer. Which is too bad, really, as I think I’d vote for anyone who used the term "geeked-out" in his candidate statement.

3. Who "would like to thank his friends and family and, of course, the Lord, for their love and support"?

Actor Vincent Ortega

4. Who "adopted [a] puppy and kitten into [his] family"?

Candidate Ralph A. Hernandez (Democrat)

5. Who says, "I don't care who you marry or have sex with"?

Candidate Trek Thunder Kelly (Independent).  Kelly’s statement begins, "Dear Voters, Please vote for me, thus breaking the Seventh Seal and incurring Armageddon." This may be the first time Armageddon has been used as a campaign promise.

6. Who wants us to know, "My wife and I have three daughters"?

Candidate Lingel H. Winters (Democrat)

7. Who says, "I love you Mom and Dad!"

Actress Anna A. White

8. Who has "won nine Emmy awards"?

Candidate David Ronald Sams (Republican)

9. Who is "a born again Christian [who tries] to live by the principles given in God's Word"?

Candidate Robert C. Newman II (Republican)

10. Who "gives thanks and praise to God for her family"?

Actress Jodi Benson.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


Jack Cassidy.  Musical Theatre Performer.  (Won a Tony for "She Loves Me").

      Two marriages. 

            First wife:  Evelyn Ward

                      One kid:  David.  Of "I Think I Love You" fame.  Born in 1950.  A fact which should, at this moment, make my sister feel really old.  Cause she had the biggest crush on him when we were kids.  And, y'know, he's in his 50s now.

            Second wife:  Shirley Jones.  Think movie musicals.  Oklahoma!  Carousel.  Music Man.  Played David's mom in "Partridge Family."

                      First son:  Shaun Cassidy.  Big hit with "Da Doo Ron Ron"  Also a Hardy Boy.  Note:  Parker Stevenson (other Hardy Boy) is not a Cassidy.  Rookie mistake.

                      Second son:  Patrick Cassidy.  Musical theatre actor.  Saw him on stage the other day and he smiled at me.  Swoon.  *Thud.*  Genetics.

                      Third son:  Ryan Cassidy.  Acting in local theatre.  Interesting note:  A google search for the terms "Other Cassidy Brother" pulls up the Official Ryan Cassidy website.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Now this is a ramble (part the first)

Wow, my first case of blogger's block.

You were thirty seconds away from an interesting (if ultimately pointless) analysis of the federal court's decision to postpone the California recall election.

In lieu of that, there was going to be a cute story about how I messed with Nick's head using my freakish ability to turn my wrists and elbows around just a teeny bit beyond where wrists and elbows normally go.

But nothing feels right, and I do feel some sort of obligation to the blank screen, my two known readers (neither of whom is my mother) and whoever kindly kicked my counter up those few unaccounted-for clicks. So I'm just going with the old stream-of-consciousness, start-typing-and-see-what-happens thing.

Actually, to be more accurate, it would be "stream-of-semi-consciousness." There was Very Little Sleep last night, and I'm not functioning on all cylinders today. I mean, I thought I was faking awake pretty good, until I got to work and the first thing my co-worker said upon seeing me was, "What's wrong?" About an hour later I got a look at myself in the mirror and confirmed the diagnosis -- I did indeed look like shit warmed over.

Now this is a ramble (part the second)

In grad school, I learned that, when left to my own devices, my most productive hours are between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Which is all well and good when you're in grad school, and you don't have to be anywhere the next morning till 10:00, and nobody cares if you rolled out of bed at 9:55, pulled on some sweats, and ran to class, making it through the next hour swigging coffee and eating a donut.

Last night, I did a repeat of my 10:00 to 2:00 schedule. It's a little different when the alarm goes off at 7:30. And you're supposed to be presentable at work. Where someone actually expects you to think. And, between you and me, I think the fact that I'm about 15 years older might have something to do with it too. My body was much more willing to function on chocolate croissants when I was twenty -- now it seems to want more difficult fuels -- like vitamins, sleep, and (shudder) vegetables. Not fair, not fair!

Which, again, gets me back to the so-called theme of this journal. Clearly, there was a time when making my body do adventurey things would have been easier, and I let that time pass me by, out of a combination of total disinterest and an apparently mistaken belief there wasn't a clock running on this. And now that I am interested, it's going to take work to be in the shape I was at NATURALLY ten years ago. Again: Not fair, not fair!

But oddly ok -- because along with the extra decade comes a teeny bit of wisdom, which recognizes that the journey to be able to do this stuff is part of the fun, too.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Candidate or Actor

Let's play a game.  I have here two publications:  the list of candidate statements for California's gubernatorial (and isn't it great that this word starts with "goober"?) recall election, and a list of bios from a program from a musical I just saw.  I'm gonna give you some excerpts from each, and you guess whether the speaker is running for governor or acting in a musical-comedy.  (Go on -- guess in the Comments area.)

1.  Who wishes "Peace and love to all"?

2.  Who "is also a rusty classical organist, a dabbler on the piano, a tap-dancer, marathon-runner, purple-belt in Karate, and totally geeked-out over The Lord of the Rings"?

3.  Who "would like to thank his friends and family and, of course, the Lord, for their love and support"?

4.  Who "adopted [a] puppy and kitten into [his] family"?

5.  Who says, "I don't care who you marry or have sex with"?

6.  Who wants us to know, "My wife and I have three daughters"?

7.  Who says, "I love you Mom and Dad!"

8.  Who has "won nine Emmy awards"?

9.  Who is "a born again Christian [who tries] to live by the principles given in God's Word"?

10.  Who "gives thanks and praise to God for her family"?

Candidate or Actor?  Answers to follow.


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Today's Puzzler

The other day, a friend sent me one of those sweet little chain emails, which ended with an exhortation that if I didn't immediately send it to everyone I know, horrible things would befall me, but if I did send it out, I'd have good luck in direct proportion to the amount of friends' mailboxes I cluttered.

Like every other internet user, I've received zillions of these.  But, for some reason, this one got me thinking.

I got to wondering what sort of person writes these things.  What exactly is their goal here?  They want their little poem or words of wisdom to circulate to as many people as possible -- this I understand.  But they don't trust the merits of their own writing enough to just put the damn thing out there and see if people circulate it on their own.  They are so insecure, they think that it won't get adequate readership unless they attach some horrible threats of bad luck to it.  What kind of f'd up individual is this?  They believe so deeply in the importance of the stuff they're circulating -- which is usually something sugary sweet and touchy feely -- that they're willing to threaten you with horrible misfortune in order to make you keep passing it along.  "Have you told your mom you love her today?  And if you don't immediately send this to 12 of your friends, your private parts will shrivel up and fall off."

I also wonder if they genuinely believe that they have the power to grant good luck to the people who forward their email, just by saying as much.

Wouldn't that be cool?  I wanna try it.

Just by reading NZforMe's journal, you will have good luck for the rest of the day.  No, no, wait -- for the rest of your life!  Yeah, that's it.  And you'll have your dream job, and the dream mate, and perfect children, and a pet that cleans up after itself, and one of them really cool flat big screen TVs.  And, and, and -- here's the thing:  it all goes away if you EVER forward another piece of good luck/bad luck email to another human being.

Friday, September 12, 2003

The Man Who Makes My Heart Go Pitter-Patter

OK, with my gym membership came two free sessions with a personal trainer.  The guy selling me the membership said he was giving me the free training sessions to make up for the fact that one of his co-workers nearly hit me in the head with a stapler when trying to toss it to him.  But the truth is, the sessions come free with the membership as their attempt to make me buy further sessions with a trainer -- regardless of any narrow misses with office supplies.

Thus:  Nick.

I spent the week prior to my training session joking that "Nick" probably wasn't his real name.  It's his professional name.  Just like my hairdresser isn't really named Lance.  Nick is just his nom de gym. 

So, I show up for my training session all eager to learn about the equipment and have a fitness routine that's somewhat more exciting than my prior routine of:  12 minutes on the bike, 18 minutes on the elliptical machine, 15 minutes on the treadmill.

Since I'm sure you're eagerly anticipating the amazing workout routine established for me by a professional (and AOL's character limits don't let me drag out the suspense much longer), I'll tell you right now that Nick came up with:  20 minutes on the bike.

That's it.  Apparently, I was on the right track to begin with.  (The right track for a person like me being: Cardio, cardio, and, um, let's try a bit more cardio.)  But Nick thinks I should go a little longer on a single piece of equipment, and he likes the bikes best because they're newer and have heart rate monitors that actually work.

I tried Nick's routine yesterday and found I don't like it.  In fact, during the last few minutes of not liking it, I was working on an Exercise Bike Haiku.  It reads like this:

My legs are tired.

My heart ain't so good either. 

Nick can go to hell.

(Imagine that's formatted correctly.  Insert eye roll at AOL here.)

Second free training session is on Sunday.  I think I might share my poem with him.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

My Wild Night

The other night, I went to the REM concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  (Very cool.  Very fun.  Shout out to whoever was mixing the sound, for absolutely the best mixing I've ever heard.  I mean ... get this ... I actually understood Michael Stipe singing some lyrics I have never understood before.  Yay sound person!)

So, there I was, at the Hollywood Bowl, with plenty of time before REM went on to get some overpriced food.  I got an overpriced salad, an overpriced brownie, and an overpriced bottle of water.  After eating the salad, I headed toward security to enter the venue itself.

You know what's coming.  The security lady told me to take the bottle top off the water I had just purchased.  Fair enough.  I took the top off as if to say, "Look.  Water."  I even took a swig of it to prove I wasn't bringing some clear liquid biohazard into the Bowl, sneakily disguised as a bottle of Aquafina.  I began to recap the bottle and was told, "You can't put the cap back on.  Ever."  I asked why.  She didn't know.  I asked what I was supposed to do with the cap (as there was no trash can nearby).  She didn't know that either.  All she knew was that she had to tell me not to put the cap back on the water.

OK, here's the beauty part:  When she wasn't looking, I slipped the cap into my pocket.  Eyes shifting back and forth, I continued past security.  I was in!  With the contraband bottle cap in my pocket!  Once we got to our seats, I put the water bottle down by my feet and replaced the cap!  Ohh, it felt so good to be bad.

Could someone please explain to me the security purpose involved in prohibiting plastic bottle caps?  And before you answer that, keep this in mind:  Had I purchased my bottled water from the Hollywood Bowl vendor inside the security perimeter, rather than the Hollywood Bowl vendor outside security, I would have been permitted to keep the cap.  So ... exactly what is the security risk posed by plastic water bottle caps purchased from outside that is somehow not also posed by plastic water bottle caps purchased on the inside?  I'm willing to learn.

Total Recall!

Does it make me a bad person that my first thought upon receiving my California Recall Election Sample Ballot was "eBay"?

It might not make me any better, but I'm certainly not alone. (Search it yourself. The hyperlink made this entry too long.)

Interesting things from my ballot:

- In my particular district, "V" is the first letter of the reorganized alphabet. Thus one Marc Valdez (an "Air Pollution Scientist") is the candidate at the top of my ballot.

- In California, we've got this rule that a candidate's description of his or her occupation cannot exceed three words. Some folks don't make use of each and every word, contenting themselves with things like "Engineer" (S. Issa), "Attorney" (Bob Lynn Edwards) or "Physician" (Ronald J. Friedman). Others go that extra mile. So, while Gary Coleman is simply an "Actor," Mary 'Mary Carey' Cook is an "Adult Film Actress."

- Four candidates (Ariana Huffington, Vik S. Bajwa, Paul Nave and Daniel C. 'Danny' Ramirez) have used one of their precious words to inform us they are a "Mother" or "Father."

- We have 25 candidates (including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Peter Ueberroth) who describe themselves with the word "Businessman," 6 who use "Businesswoman," 4 who prefer "Businessperson," 6 who go with "Business Owner," (and 1 "Businessowner,") and 4 who go all the way to "Business Executive."

- Some candidates manage to put what might well be their entire platform in their three-word description: Ned Roscoe is a "Cigarette Retailer"; Warren Farrell is a "Fathers' Issues Author"; and Bruce Margolin a "Marijuana Legalization Attorney."

- While some candidates want to be sure to remind us of what they've done in the past (Peter Ueberroth is a "Businessman/Olympics Advisor") others take a more understated approach (Larry Flynt is a "Publisher").

- Some folks are probably the first with their particular job description to run for Governor. Ivan A. Hall is a "Custom Denture Manufacturer"; William 'Bill' S. Chambers is a "Retired Switchman/Brakeman"; Paul 'Chip' Mailander is a "Golf Professional"; Mike P. McCarthy is a "Used Car Dealer"; and Kurt E. 'Tachikaze' Rightmyer a "Middleweight Sumo Wrestler."

My polling place has changed. I will not be voting at the nearby Church, like I used to. Instead, I'll be voting at the nearby "U-Haul." I'll need one of their trucks to carry my ballot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

My homework -- 9/11

Our pal Scalzi has this time asked everyone to write about remembering 9/11. 

As it happens, I've been thinking a bit about 9/11 lately -- not because of its anniversary (which I confess I hadn't even realized was upcoming), but because of a rather remarkable play I just saw, called Journal of the Plague Year. The play, adapted from Defoe's novel of the same name, was about the year Bubonic Plague took out a significant percentage of the population of London -- told from the point of view of a man who chose to stay in London rather than flee when he had the chance.  And what was so resonant about the play for me was how it portrayed the way the surviving Londoners reacted to having lived through a common mass tragedy.  It was so strongly reminiscent of how we reacted in the aftermath of 9/11 -- things like the way strangers would just strike up conversations with each other because everyone was talking about the same thing -- and the small, but desperately necessary acts of sympathy and humanity.  I was surprised to discover how much a play taking place in 1666 so touchingly captured the way we felt in 2001.  It made me realize that what we went through wasn't so unique in history, and it was somehow comforting to know that the good things about humanity are timeless and universal.  Strange how something so clearly about death could end up being life-affirming.  Well, maybe not so strange.

Monday, September 8, 2003

Jasmine's Evil Twin

I am weirded out.

I am, in fact, so weirded out that I'm not going to tell you all about Nick, who may well be the best personal trainer ever, simply because -- despite promises to the contrary -- he decided there was no need to actually measure my percentage body fat. Yay Nick!

So, I come home from the gym and see the weirdest thing -- my cat outside my door. This is weird because Jasmine is an indoor cat. I live on the second floor.

Did someone break in to steal all my stuff and kicked my cat out? I try the door -- still locked.

I wonder if she possibly could have gotten out. I leave a window open for her. Maybe she knocked out the screen, survived the fall, and somehow walked back up the stairs to wait by my door.

Hard to believe. But it's my cat. White with adorable little black patches. I reach down (it's a little dark) to feel for the trademark big fluffy tail. Check.

I open the door and she jumps in the house.

Where Jasmine is waiting. NOT happy to meet the other cat. A hiss-fest ensues.

I quickly grab Jasmine before I blink and they switch places. I toss Jasmine in a closed room and try to lure the stranger outside. I throw a toy and she doesn't chase it (further proof it is not, in fact, my cat). I finally shake keys at her for a few minutes and she ultimately follows.

She's still out there. Jas can sense her and hisses, even though there's ten feet and a closed door between them.

I'm curious who this cat is. I don't think she lives in my building, and I'm wondering how the hell she sensed that her GOOD twin lived here, and somehow ended up waiting outside my door, weirding out both me and my cat.

Excuse me. I've got to go get the clicker and try some tricks with Jasmine. Just to make ABSOLUTELY certain.

Sunday, September 7, 2003

Cats and Fritos

Now, here is something you probably won't ever hear a man say: "I was so pissed off I ate half a bag of Fritos."

I'm not talking about a little single serving bag, either. I'm talking, y'know, bag of Fritos. I'd just bought it at the store today. Impulse buy. Perhaps I subconsciously knew I'd have a need for them later.

I go home. I've been having a pretty spiffy weekend. I'm down to the bit where I do laundry.

Now, the kitten (referenced below) has made remarkable strides in getting used to the things I do around the house. For instance, I can now type on the computer without fear she'll jump on the keyboard every few minutes. But she still hasn't quite gotten over the excitement of laundry.

So, there I am, sitting on the couch, folding laundry, and Jasmine does a header into the stuff I've already folded -- sending various bits of intimate apparel flying off of their tidy little piles. I attempt to remove her from the couch and she expresses her disapproval of this plan by clamping her teeth around my arm. Hard.

I'd like to take a moment to mention the idiot quoted here, who takes the position that when a cat bites, you should "push toward your cat" rather than pulling away. I thought I'd give this a shot. Conclusion: pushing my arm toward my cat, while her teeth are still engaged, just gives her an opportunity to get a better grip.

So, once I disengaged my cat and went through my standard Getting Bit Reaction List (which involves, in no particular order: acting really pissed off toward the cat, locking her out of my bedroom, and Bactine), I grabbed the Fritos and sat down on the couch, still being all petulant toward the cat.

I read the label. It said 12 chips constitute a serving, which is 10 grams of fat. High (nearly a gram a frito!), but, hey, I watch what I eat, I don't diet. I can have 12 chips.

I started eating them out of the bag, counting. I think I stopped at "six." The cat came by, cautiously being adorable in my presence. I just kept munching fritos. She put her face in the bag, to sniff all that fried corn goodness. I gently pushed her away and kept snacking. She walked away. I, er, kept eating fritos.

I eventually stopped when the bag felt noticeably lighter. I looked at it and half the bag was gone.

I don't feel so good.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Shorts Shopping!

With the requisite entries out of the way, we can get back to the business at hand.

Today I went shorts shopping.  This was a necessity.  I own two pairs of shorts -- one is at least three years old, and the other probably dates to the Reagan administration.  (Those "Units" stores might have gone out of business quickly, but damn that stuff was built to last.)  Anyway, what with going to the gym twice a week, I've been alternating between two sad pairs of shorts ... and, when those are both in the hamper, moving on to sweat pants.  Which isn't pleasant.  Yes, I know they're called SWEAT pants for a reason.  But, y'know, hot as hell in the gym.  Shorts'd be nice.

So, I went shorts shopping, and was kinda reminded of why I don't own a whole lot of shorts to begin with.  There were the tight shorts that made me look like a sausage, the long shorts that made me look like a postal worker, and the really long shorts that made me look like I should be playing professional basketball.  There was also the pair that fit ok, but were a color of blue that really shouldn't be on shorts -- at least not on shorts on pasty white people like me.  (Sort of a light blue, but not a pale blue.  With vaguely fluorescent overtones.  The color of blue that chalk sometimes comes in.  BAD color for shorts.)  I ultimately walked away from there with two pair of denim shorts (which were on sale! yay!) that I wouldn't have bought except my friend pointed out I could roll up the bottoms and they didn't look half bad that way -- even though there was an unfortunate Daisy Duke vibe going on.  (I'm keeping them rolled.  I am NOT cutting them off.  No siree.)

I do note, however, that I can't wear denim shorts to the gym, so although I'm set for more activity in the Great Outdoors, I still haven't solved the gymwear problem.  One step forward -- and I'm at the same place I began.

Requisite Entry #2 -- Kitty Picture!

OK, John Scalzi -- the fellow who is helping AOL put training wheels on blogging -- has invited everyone to send him links of their cat pictures, with a cuteness challenge.

Well, Ghlaghghee, I see your cuteness and I raise you a Jasmine.

Observe the cute widdle pink paws, the big fluffy tail on what is otherwise a short-haired cat, and the overall kittenosity of the subject.  That, my friends, is one cute kitten.

(Pay no attention to the scratching and biting.)

P.S. to Requisite Entry #1

That entry was supposed to end with the following line:

"Feel free to leave a comment -- if you have a screen name, are using a recent version of Netscape and can keep your thoughts to something like 200 characters.  Sheesh."

I had to cut it because AOL kept saying I was over the 2500 character limit.  There's irony for ya.

Add to the list of Things I Want From AOL Journals:  a message that doesn't just say, "Sorry, you're over the 2500 character limit," but one that actually tells you how many characters you have to delete in order to make the cut-off.  Because when I run my posts through the Character Counter in MS Word, I am well under the max.

(Yes, I know this is because AOL counts the HTML characters too, but since they're invisible, I don't know how many of them are in here.  It'd help if AOL let us know.)

Requisite Entry #1 -- Slamming AOL

My understanding is that there are two mandatory entries in every blog -- an entry slamming one's ISP (or blog software provider) and an entry including photos of one's cat.

I had intended the latter this morning -- and my attempt prompted the former.

Let's just begin by saying SOME nice things about the AOL blogging software.  What pretty much made me decide to start this journal in the first place is that it can be updated by sending an IM, which seems so astonishingly simple and time-saving, I thought I'd give it a shot.

Since then, it has been nothing but problems.  Like the fact the "add hyperlink" button (or any of the font changing stuff) simply does not show up when you're writing on a Mac.  Or the character limits.  Or the fact that the journals just don't show up on older versions of netscape (like the one I'm using at work).  Or the fact that friends can't leave comments without having an AOL screenname.  (Shout out to Peggy!) 

But this morning.  Dang.  I drafted an entry and reached the point where I was all set to insert the photo of my cat.  I clicked on "Add Pictures."  AOL opened up a nice big screen asking me to download some Picture software.  Hey, I'm all for cross-promotion, but I was in a hurry.  The alternative was just to upload something from my hard drive.  I went with that.  Then I realized that I couldn't remember the file name of the picture I wanted.  (Is it Kitty1?  Kitty2?  Kitty3?  Crap.)  And I was running late this morning, so figured I'd just back out of the "Add Photo" thing, cancel the new entry and deal with it later.

I closed the "Add Pictures" window.

That was my plan.  AOL didn't just close the "Add Pictures" window.  It also closed the "Add Entry" window and closed AOL itself for good measure.

I wondered what had happened to an entry when I got booted from AOL mid-entry, so I logged on again and tried to access my journal, only to discover the whole damn thing was gone.  Gone gone gone. 

I sent an IM to update the journal, figuring that if the bot sent back that it updated the journal, the journal still existed someplace to be updated.  This worked, but I still couldn't access the journal.  I needed to reboot my computer before it came back on screen for me.  Aargh.

Test. I kinda think I broke my journal. Just seeing if I can make it come back. I'll explain later.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Holy cow

I just read about a guy dying on Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland.  How horrible and tragic! 

Gotta say, though, that this does absolutely NOTHING for my plan to grow me some cajones for this trip.  In fact, I was just saying the other day (when talking to my folks about thrill rides) that I don't mind things like Tower of Terror, because I trust the people at Disney.  While the idea of free-falling thirteen stories might be otherwise scary, something in the back of my mind tells me, "C'mon, the Disney Imagineers aren't actually going to kill theme park guests."  (The really cynically voice in the back of my mind goes on to say, "If anything, they'd hate the negative publicity.")

Which leads to the question -- If you can't trust the Disney runaway freight train to not actually run away, how can you trust the itty bitty swing out over the canyon not to ... well...

Excuse me, I need to cower under the bed for a little while.

Support from the Parentals

Was discussing the trip with my folks the other day, and I mentioned some of the adventurey stuff I was planning.  My mother was oddly supportive of swinging over a canyon and flying through one at great speed, but was more concerned that I wanted to bounce down a hill in a big plastic ball

While I'm not quite certain I've got the cajones for the other two, I think it's a great idea to bounce down a hill in a big plastic ball.  It just seems so phenomenally silly, it has to be experienced. 

It did remind me, though, of a conversation I'd had with my mom once, about a book of Stephen King short stories.  She had me read a story about toy soldiers coming to life and attacking some guy, which she thought was a really cute, fun, not-scary-at-all story, and it COMPLETELY FREAKED ME OUT.  On the other hand, I read the one about the guy who grew some eyeballs on his hand -- which had scared her shitless -- and thought it was pretty fun. 

Now, rationally, I know the odds of toy soldiers coming to life and starting an attack are -- when you get right down to it -- about the same as the odds of waking up one morning with some eyeballs growing on your hand.  That is to say:  zero.  But the toy soldiers played into some bizarre irrational fear of mine, and the hand-growing-eyeballs played into some bizarre irrational fear of hers.  That's the beauty of irrational fears.  They're not, y'know, rational.

So sign me up for the big plastic ball, please.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

The Baseline

Gotta know what I'm starting from, right?

I just got back from the gym. I've been going for a few weeks and I've seen some improvement. I also know my limits, though. First time I rode the stationary bike, it said my heart rate was something like 170. One-freakin-seventy. Just riding a bike. On level 2. For twenty minutes. I am a serious wuss.

I've gotten better on the bike, but I did have a repeat way-too-high-heart-rate moment on another piece of equipment. So there's going to be a lot of cardio in my future, as I've really got to build up my endurance.

And on Saturday, a friend took me on my Very First Hike. I suppose I am an optimist in the sense that I am not calling it my Very Last Hike or The Only Hike Of My Life. Four miles. I kept asking her to slow down. It would've been nice to hear the pretty sounds of nature around me, but all I could hear was my breathing. Which was suspiciously loud and labored. Especially on the uphill bits.

I have adjusted my expectations accordingly. I will not sign up for the 12-mile hike (including 2 miles uphill) outside of Queenstown, but will try the 4-mile nature walk. I would very much like to accomplish this in such a way that I appreciate the nature along the way -- it should be a pleasant stroll through the wonders of the planet, not an endurance challenge.

Next probable update: Monday -- First Meeting With Fitness Trainer

The "About Me" that wouldn't fit in "About Me"

I'm a wuss. I'm the girl who always got a "C" in P.E. because she got a "D for trying" on every test, and the extra points for dressing in the damn uniform every day. Although I'm not what you'd call overweight, I am astonishingly out of shape. I get winded taking two flights of stairs. Recently, I started planning a big huge vacation in New Zealand, and then got it into my head that I might want to do vaguely adventurey things -- things like hiking and whitewater rafting, and perhaps scary things that involve free falling in the general vicinity of a canyon.

Now, I'm nothing if not a planner. I've recently joined a gym and started actually going to it. And the past few weeks have involved some rather momentous occasions in my life -- like My Very First Hike and Swimsuit Shopping (not at the same time). It dawned on me that it might be a good idea to keep a journal of my (hopeful) transformation from Couch Potato to Adventure Woman, and then top it all off with entries from my (hopefully) successful trip.

That's the plan.