Friday, April 30, 2004

I approve

I read today that John Malkovich has been cast as Lord Voldemort in the fourth Harry Potter picture.

I applaud this decision.  Malkovich is ideal.  I mean, let's look at this:  he's capable of appearing extremely malevolent and oddly snakelike -- and, at the same time, you could still believe a fifteen-year-old kid with glasses getting the better of him in a fight. 

I don't know how, exactly, the Harry Potter franchise usurped Batman as "the movie series everyone wants to be in," but I'm pleased with the results.

Homework #3

This week, Scalzi provides us with:

Weekend Assignment #3: Recount the worst piece of advice you've ever been given, or the worst piece of advice you've ever provided. (For extra credit, do both).

Well, poop.  I only give good advice.  Duh.

This isn't an easy assignment, mostly because I don't try to dwell on the bad things in my past -- which would include stupid things people have said to me, and stupid things I've said to people.  I'm good at this type of denial.

That said, I seem to recall some particularly bad advice I got when studying for the Bar Exam.  The California Bar Exam consists of two days of essay-type questions and one day of multiple-choice questions.  I (well, my parents) coughed up a massive amount of money for a Bar Review course to prepare for the exam.  The course instructors told us how to study for the exam in order to pass:  focus on the essays and just let the multiple-choice take care of itself.  This was extremely bad advice for me -- by this time, I knew how I worked best, and I knew I needed to reverse the advice and focus on the multiple-choice, letting the essays take care of themselves.  Still, it was scary as hell tossing the advice and just trusting myself.  (It worked out OK.  Just ask my doorman.)

Worst piece of advice I ever provided:  About seven years ago, a co-worker was sharing her house with four roommates, and they were having trouble with dividing the phone bill.  I told her they should all just get cell phones with individual numbers.  Don't know what possessed me to give her this advice -- ended up costing them all a small fortune.

Truck Drivers are Pissed Off (and so am I)

Woke up this morning and, as Fate would have it, turned on the TV.

(OK, not Fate.  More of my radio station's new DJ still sucking.)

Seems some truck drivers wanted to protest something or other, and decided to do it by blocking a freeway.

At 7:30 in the morning.

In Los Angeles.

They took a big group of trucks and parked 'em across a freeway so nobody could get by.  Then, they locked the trucks and drove off in a waiting SUV.  (Also possible they did something to the engines to disable the trucks.  The news was unclear.)

The news story told me that they were planning to do this on several other local freeways too.

In order to draw attention to ... something or other.

Because the TRUE irony of this is that our truck driver pals decided to do their protest TODAY.  When Michael Jackson is being arraigned.

Which is pre-empting their story on every channel right now.  So whatever it is that the truck drivers would like to call attention to, nobody knows what it is, because every media outlet in LA is cutting away from the "trucks blocking freeways" coverage so we can watch Michael Jackson walk into court.

Puts me in an interesting conundrum.  I didn't actually get up in time to take to the train this morning, but if the alternative is sitting in traffic for an hour, the train might be the way to go.

UPDATE:  Oh.  They're protesting fuel charges.  Yeah, making everyone else sit on the freeway for an hour is a really good way to get sympathy for that one.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ain't it the truth?

Hallandoatbran, over at Two Scoops of Crazy (click the link over in my Other Journals), has a plan for making your own fortune cookie fortune.

He says:
Go into your AOL-J archives.
Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
Post the text of the sentence in your AOL-J along with these instructions

Now, I didn't really have any topic for in mind for journalling today, but I've been really good about daily updates, so thought I'd follow his lead and hunt down my fortune.

My 23rd entry is back in September, the first month I started journalling.  There were lots of entries there about the California recall election, and (one of my personal favorite early journal posts) a little chart of the Cassidy family tree.  (  I figured my fortune would end up being some bizarrely out-of-context statement from one of these posts.  

Instead, as fate would have it, my fortune is something not only sensical, but also oddly fitting for the situation.  It reads:

"Basically, I hate falling behind."

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The DVD Editing Machine

John Scalzi has a post today on DVD Machines that edit out offensive bits for home viewers.  I commented, and he replied, also in the same post.

To properly follow up, I need to use a bad word.  One that begins with "f."  So, please, step away from the journal if you don't want to your innocent eyes to be exposed to such naughtiness.

And the follow-up involves a little story about AOL censorship.

Once upon a time there was a really brilliant columnist named Cecil Adams, who wrote a column called "The Straight Dope."  You ask him questions, he answers them.  ANY questions.  Funny, funny guy.

So, once upon a time, someone asks him a question about whether it's true that Eskimos have nine words for snow.  He answers with a particularly hilarious column about how a certain Eskimo dialect is a polysynthetic language whereby you create words by throwing prefixes, suffixes and roots together -- thus attach the word "bad" to the word for "snow" and you've created a single word for "bad snow."  Cecil ends the column by saying that, in his spare time, he is attempting to create a sentence in Eskimo.  He says, "When completed, this sentence will proclaim: 'Look at all this fucking snow.'  At present it means: 'Observe the snow. It fornicates.'"

I laughed my butt off.  

For a time, AOL carried The Straight Dope.  The site on AOL started building an archive of Cecil's past columns.  And, because of TOS and not wanting to offend anyone, they changed the line to read:

"When completed, this sentence will proclaim: 'Look at all this freaking snow.'  At present it means:  'Observe the snow.  It fornicates.'"

Note the absence of humor.  The humor of "fucking snow" translated into fornicating snow doesn't exist when the snow is simply "freaking."

Roasted my cookies, it did.  Perfectly good punchline lost because someone (either human or machine) thought, "Hey, we can just replace an instance of 'fucking' with 'freaking' and it'll be fine."

No.  It won't.  I can't show my friends my favorite Cecil Adams column online because the joke isn't THERE anymore.  What's worse, anyone stumbling upon this column isn't going to get the joke, and might -- in fact -- think Cecil isn't nearly as fornicatingly funny as I do.

Anyway, this little foray into bad words and AOL's act of censoring them is just my best-known example of how a single instance of apparently innocent censorship can really mess with the purpose of the piece.  And to those who say, "Yes, but at least by reading the censored version of Cecil Adams, we were exposed to his work, and edited Cecil is better than no Cecil at all," I reply, "No, what you're reading isn't Cecil Adams."  And in the same way, I think that people who watch DVDs on the DVD-snipping machines really aren't seeing the movies that were meant to be seen.  (Way, way worse than colorizing, people.)

(In an extremely ironic post-script, I note that, for one reason or another, Cecil Adams moved off AOL and is now found on the web.  The archived version of the snow column on his website still contains "Freaking."  Apparently, they forgot to edit the bad word back in.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


I've been feeling a little impatient lately.  I could say (with just a hint of understated self-awareness) that I'm not really GOOD with uncertainty.

Reminds me of when I was waiting for the results of the Bar Exam.  I took the July exam in California and then moved to Philadelphia for a year (clerkship).  The Bar results would be mailed out Thanksgiving week.  They were timed to arrive on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I was REALLY GOOD with putting the exam out of my mind after I took it.  (To tell you the truth, I was surprisingly good with putting it out of my mind while I was taking it.  It's a three day exam and I managed to get a good night's sleep each night.)  And for August, September, and October, I didn't give it much thought.  I mean, I'd either passed or I hadn't -- freaking out about it wasn't going to change the result.  So I just went on with my life.

But once it got to be November, I started getting itchy for the results.  And as we approached Thanksgiving, my metaphorical itchiness was the equivalent of hands full of sandfly bites.

I went to Washington D.C. to have Thanksgiving with some relatives who live there.  Of course, nearly all of them asked me, "Did you pass?"  And I was all, "I don't know."  Drove me batty.  I could barely eat the turkey.

And then ... Friday.  I was taking a train back to Philadelphia.  Where I knew my Bar results were waiting in an envelope in my mailbox.  There was no other way to find out.  (Results would be available by phone after the weekend -- the idea being that the people who took the exam should be able to find out their results before anyone else could look them up.  Because, really, if you didn't pass, you'd like to find out in the privacy of your own home -- not having one of your friends call up with, "I've got bad news for you.")  It drove me beyond nuts to know that my results were there and I didn't have them.

A friend offered to drive me to the train station.  I splurged for the Metroliner -- that would be the faster train.  Because I was just about at the breaking point here and I needed those results right quick.  So, here's my friend driving me to the train station and getting lost.  We can see the station from where we are, but we can't get there.  And my train is leaving in, like, five minutes.

My friend is being all joking and calming and says, "Well, if you miss it, you can sleep over and take the train tomorrow," and I say, in dead seriousness, "If we miss the train, you're getting back on the highway and driving me to Philadelphia."  (Well, I believe the sentence was spiced up with a few expletives, but that's the idea.)

We somehow made the train and I got to Philly.  Took a cab to my apartment and ran for the mail room.  Opened the mailbox to find a big envelope from the State Bar.

The people from the State Bar are REALLY smart.  They send the big envelope, but on the front of it is a little pouch with a single page letter -- and the envelope says in Big Important Type that you're supposed to open the single page letter first.  So I did.  And it began with "Congratulations."

And all of that freaking out that had me nearly ripping my friend's head off dissipated -- leaving me drained, and (above all) relieved. 

The first person I told was the doorman.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I'm easy

No, really.

If you look back on my dating history, many of the dates I've been on have run into some sort of, oh, difficulty.  I'm not just talking about when the guy makes a big deal about holding our tickets and then proceeds to lose them -- heck, that can happen to anyone.  I'm talking about ... well ... fire.

You might not be aware of the fact that microwave popcorn can catch fire.  I mean, yeah, sure, the popcorn can BURN, we all know that.  But did you know that you can get actual flames when you open the microwave door?  See, the popcorn comes in a BAG, that's made of PAPER, which is FLAMMABLE.  I learned this on my very first date ever.  When my 14-year-old date wanted to impress me with his microwave-operating skills.

And, amazingly, this was NOT the last time I've had a date who set fire to the food.  Here's a tip:  if you have one of them ovens which you have to leave open when you broil something, there's probably a really good reason for it.  No, the lamb chops weren't burnt, silly -- the lamb chops were ON FIRE.

I wish I knew what it was about me that brings out astonishingly bad cooking in men.  But, I've gotta say that, over the years, I've grown increasingly wary when I'm invited over for dinner.  Um, couldn't we go out instead?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Gone, but not forgotten

Had a flashback to The Job today.  Anyone else remember The Job?  Was a TV series that ran for not very long.  Denis Leary played a cop who had some, er, troubles (infidelity and drug addiction leap immediately to mind).  One of those extremely dry comedies that didn't have a laugh track, so you almost felt uncomfortable laughing at it -- like it was supposed to be a drama and you're a bad, evil person for laughing where you'd clearly not supposed to, because if they'd wanted you to laugh they would've put in a track to show you where, right? 

(That was sarcasm.)

It does bother me that there's no room for a show like this on network TV -- a show that, instead of being a routine sitcom, was edgy, offensive, and funny as hell.  I miss it.

You guys miss anything that was Cancelled Too Soon?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Weekend Homework

This week's AOL-J homework:  Describe your second-favorite of the following: movie, book, album, school teacher, ice cream flavor, sports team, comfort food, celebrity crush, cartoon character and way to relax. If you feel like it, add in any other second favorite you like.

Wow.  I adore this question.  It’s funny ‘cause I was just thinking about this the other day.  Someone asked me what my favorite play was.  And I actually answered with my second-favorite play.  Because my A-number-1 favorite play of all time is just so above and beyond everything else, there’s sort of no point in mentioning it, and a discussion of second favorites is actually more interesting.  So, yeah.  And, by the way, when I see “sports team,” I’m just going to replace that with “play.”  Because I barely have a favorite sports team, and I think my second favorite would be “whoever I have tickets to see.”


My second-favorite movie:  Aladdin.  I know.  But I just remember how absolutely caught up I was in this animated picture, digging the score, sitting on the edge of my seat watching Aladdin swoop around on the carpet… when I realized (right about the first time he sat down for some quality time with the lamp) that I had totally forgotten that Robin Williams was gonna come on in a second as the voice of the Genie.  And I thought, “Wow, all this and Robin Williams too?!  Cool.”  Can’t think of any other time I’ve had so much FUN at the movies.


My second-favorite book:  When I thought about this one, I realized that my favorite book changes all the time, but my second-favorite book is always the same.  Isn’t that weird?  Whip Hand by Dick Francis.  (It’s actually a sequel, and the first book, Odds Against, ain’t too shabby either, but Whip Hand is the really special one.)  See, Dick Francis writes all these fast-reading perfect-if-you-need-something-for-a-plane-flight mystery novels set in the world of British horse racing.  One of the trademarks of his books is that the protagonist always finds himself on the wrong end of a very unpleasant situation which he has to endure and/or escape.  In Whip Hand, Francis goes beyond his usual hero-getting-the-crap-kicked-out-him scenario and the torture he ends up writing is psychological.  Francis really outdid himself on that one, and it’s a terrific read.


My second-favorite album:  (Uh, what’s an album?)  Probably R.E.M.’s Document.  But I reserve the right to change this to something showtuney at a later date.


My second-favorite school teacher:  Second favorite teacher was Miss Cunningham – who taught me English (junior high, I think – but I’m honestly not positive).  Miss Cunningham made me rewrite a paper once because my style was too informal and full of pop culture references.  She knew I wanted to be a lawyer and said, “A lawyer would never write like that.”  I rewrote the paper all nice and dry and without all the fun stuff.  Miss Cunningham called me back, threw out the revised paper, and told me to forget everything she’d said, because, “This is the way you write, and you’re a thousand times more persuasive this way.”  I’ll always be grateful to her for having the nerve to do that, and ultimately encouraging my voice -- rather than forcing me into some mold of how she thought a lawyer ought to write.


My second-favorite ice-cream flavor:  Chocolate.


My second-favorite play:  Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.  A masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.  If you’ve seen some of Stoppard’s earlier plays, you can see he’d been playing with the concepts involved for years – the difference between a historian’s history and the truth, illustrating scientific concepts through the interaction of human characters, and so forth – but he only really got it right with Arcadia.  A brilliant, heart-stoppingly good play about landscape architecture, entropy, mathematical recursion, literary scholarship, and love – all wrapped up in a perfect little package with smart, funny dialogue.  It isn’t what I’d call an easy play; and a less-than-ideal production of it can be painfully bad.  But, damn, when it’s right, it freakin’ sings.  


My second-favorite comfort food:  Frito’s.


My second-favorite celebrity crush:  Hugh Jackman.  (Oh please, oh please, don’t let Van Helsing be as cheesy as the posters make it look.)


My second-favorite cartoon character:  Daria.  I think I might have been Daria in High School.

My second-favorite way to relax:  Watching a DVD with the kitten beside me.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

This morning

So, yeah, I have to get a little Diary-esque on you again.  But this was truly a reportable morning.

Let's review (don't you just hate joining a story in the middle?) -- last night, I went to the gym for the first time in a long time.  I might have overdone things a bit, so was kinda sore.  And sweaty.

Went home, got some sleep.  Standard stuff.

Woke up this morning, feeling fairly exhausted (also standard, as a matter of fact).  Couldn't wait to roll my achy body out of bed and stand under a nice hot shower for twenty minutes or so.

Rolled out of bed.  Proceeded to my usual bathroom activities which are, in order (honestly, this is not Too Much Information):  use toilet, take shower, brush teeth.

You will all be pleased to know I successfully accomplished Use Toilet.

I then put my naked self in the shower and turn on the water.

Nothing but a loud creaky noise.

I turn the handle a little more energentically.  The shower handle comes off in my hand, but this is -- as it turns out -- not the problem.  (The shower handle frequently comes off in my hand.  I've gotten used to it.)

Refusing to accept the evidence in front of me, I try the sink.

No water there.

I go over and try the kitchen sink.

No water there.

Well, you don't have to tell me four times -- clearly my water is off.

I put on a bathrobe and go outside, where I collar a passing workman.

"Er... any idea why the water's off?"

He tells me there's City Workmen digging up the street in front of the building; they probably have something to do with it.

I think nasty thoughts about the City not giving me any warning about this.

I go back into my condo and do some wonderful work with:  a bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel, some facial cleansing wipes, and a nourishing spray that is supposed to do good stuff to your hair when you haven't washed it.  (It isn't bad, actually -- but I bet it would've worked a lot better if I hadn't spent an hour last night with my hair in a pony tail on top of my head while I was sweating like a pig.  There's only so much a nourishing spray can do.)  I pop a piece of that chewing gum that's supposed to clean your teeth.  I get dressed.  I grab a spare toothbrush and travel toothpaste and head to the office.

Well, no.  I head to my car.  Remember the thing about the workmen in the street?  They're blocking the street something good in front of our garage.  There's no way I can get out to the right, but it looks like there's enough room for me to squeeze around the forklift if I turn to the left when I get out of the garage.

On the way back to my unit, I see signs on some of my neighbors' doors.

The signs that say, "Due to a leak from the upper floor to a lower floor, we've turned off the water.  We will turn the water back on at 5:30 a.m. for your convenience.  The water may be turned off later in the day to make repairs.  Sorry for the inconvenience."

I mentally take back the bad things I'd thought about the City and redirect them to my neighbor -- the one who didn't bother giving ME one of these notes and who seems to think I shower at 5:30 in the morning.

I go down to the garage, get in my car, and proceed to drive out to my left.

Where another one of my neighbors is blocking the way.  He starts waving for me to go to the right.  Dude, I can't go to the right.  Big pile of construction blocking my way.  I want to go to my left.  Down the same path you want to take (just in the oppositve direction).  He keeps waving me to my right.  I keep waving back to him that I need to be where HE is, and I need him to back up.  We apparently get our wires crossed 'cause he then decides to drive the path right up to me.  Now the front of his car is facing the front of my car, and he's signalling like he wants to get in the garage (i.e. exactly where I am).  I unroll my window and politely yell, "That's the only way to get out."  He finally gets it, and backs out the way he came.  

THEN I get out and make it to work.

Where the email system was down.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wuss of the First Order

Well, there seem to be NUMEROUS reasons we couldn't spin the teacups.  Discovered another one when I went to the gym today.

My gym routine (and, when I use the word "routine," that may give you the false impression that I actually hit the gym on a regular basis these days) generally involves a big pile of cardio (on the Elliptical machine) and maybe, if I'm feeling up to it, some short sets on some of the machines.  If I want to do the Whole Complete Workout, I'll drop by the weight room for a moment.

So, today, I do the Elliptical thing, and I do some of the machines.  I've recently started going to a gym that has those machines that figure out how much resistance to use all by themselves.  I like those machines, because I can never remember how much weight I use on each machine. 

So, I do my little circuit.  I do some of the leg machines.  And then I sit down at the "arm curl" machine.  I ask the machine to set the weights for me.  It says (I paraphrase), "OK, do a test rep."  

I can't.

I pull that sucker with all my might, and it doesn't move.

I decide, instead, to set the weights myself.  I tell the machine that's my plan.

The machine says, "All righty.  How much would you like?"

I say, "How's about one pound?"

It says, "The minimum for the machine is five pounds."

I say, "OK, fine.  Five pounds it is."

It says, "Great.  Do a rep."

I pull the weight.  It pulls.  I push it back down.  It pushes back down.

It says, "OK, eleven more.  Just like that."

I pull on the weight.  It doesn't move.  I grunt.  I groan.  I pull.  It remains.

The machine is still looking at me with, "C'mon.  Eleven more reps. Pull the weight.  I'm waiting."

I keep trying.  Nothing happens.  The machine ultimately says (and this bit I do not paraphrase), "CONGRATULATIONS!"

(Really?  What did I win?)

"Total weight lifted:  Five pounds.  Would you like to do another set?"

I walk away from the machine, somewhat dejected. 

I'm about to leave the gym when a good song comes on my ipod (yes, I know -- it's MY ipod -- you'd think it would ONLY play songs I consider to be good ones.  But some are better than others) -- so I think, well, I'll go into the weight room and try some arm curls with free weights.  I take three whole pounds in each arm and do curls.

The first set is easy.  The second, not so much.

Yes.  I did 24 arm curls with 3 whole pounds in each hand, and my arms are KILLING ME.  I question whether I'll be able to lift a freakin' pen at work tomorrow.

No wonder I couldn't spin the teacup.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Protecting My Baby

My friends (and, I assume, my parents) are getting a kick out of how I've gone all maternal over my cat.

Case in point:  this morning.

My alarm goes off.  I get up, open the bedroom door, and let Jasmine in.  She meows cheerfully (I love that part), runs around my legs a little bit (I love that part too) and then gallops down the hall into the living room -- that part's a little weird.

I mean, Jasmine takes off with a total, "Come follow me" vibe.  And this "Timmy's fallen in the well" behavior isn't something I expect from my cat ... or, any cat, really.

So I follow after her, saying (yes, I talk to my cat), "What'd you find, baby?  What is it?"

She jumps up on the window sill and starts batting at it.

"Something out the window, baby?  What is it?"  (Neighbor cat lives downstairs, but he usually doesn't freak her out from a distance.)

And then I hear it.

A buzz.

She's batting at a bee.

I think, "Please be outside the window; please be outside the window; please be outside the window."

It's not outside the window.

Here's my cat, happily swatting at a bee, and neither one of them is cognizant of the danger presented to them by this scenario.

"Jasmine, no!" I yell, genuinely frightened for her. 

I hate bees.  I'm a-scared of 'em.  (I don't know whether I'm allergic as, knock on wood, I've avoided being stung -- but given how well I reacted to those damn sandfly bites, I don't really want to find out.)  So I want to keep my own distance from the bee, but I want to get my kitten the heck out of there.

I grab the cat in my left arm, and go for the RAID with my right.  I relocate my purry little princess across the room and let the bee have it.

The bee has (thankfully) decided to take cover behind my window blinds.  I empty about a quarter can of RAID in there.  I spray the edges of the blinds.  I spray the bottom of the blinds.  I spray right in between the blinds where one of the slats is broken.  I basically fill the space between window and blinds with a heavy fog of RAID.  I figure the bee will drown if he doesn't choke to death.  I spray so much RAID in there, this bee's relatives back at the hive are coughing sympathetically.  What I'm trying to say is:  I did not skimp on the RAID.

During this process, Jasmine has taken a little interest -- as there's still a little sad buzzing to be heard from the other side of the blinds.  But it's kind of pitiful and I figure he's down for the count -- or at least long enough for me to move Jas to the other side of the room again, since NOW I need to keep her away from all that harmful-to-pets RAID I've let loose in the house.

I return to the scene of the bee-icide.  (It's not murder!  I was defending my kitty!)  The bee has by now given up the ghost, and has fallen into the bottom of the window frame.  I open the window to air some of the RAID out (half hoping I'll manage to do further harm to the bee by opening the window over him).  There's so much RAID in there, it has puddled on the blinds.  I have to clean it off with some (plural) Windex wipes, as the blinds are pretty much dripping RAID when I raise them.

'bout a half hour later, I close the window.  The house STILL smells like RAID, and the bee corpse is unharmed. 

I have to move the bee body.  Under normal circumstances, I'd just leave it -- but, knowing Jas, I'd come home to find her batting a dead bee around the living room, and that can't be good.  I decided to scoop it up in a napkin.  No, two napkins.  No, three.  Three napkins.  That's enough of a distance.

I put two napkins in one hand, one in the other, squash the bee between them, and run it over to the trash compactor.  I then put some newspaper over it and run the compactor.  Just in case.  I mean, like he isn't already dead from a quarter can of RAID, the weight of a window, and a triple-napkin squashing.

I leave the window open to air the RAID out so my little baby won't get sick, and I leave for work.

I get to work late, but, y'know, it WAS an emergency.


My favorite radio station changed morning DJs on me.


I went through this once before.  Some time ago, the programming geniuses decided to replace our morning guy with a national feed of some "morning zoo" type show.  Instead of Classic Rock, we got stupid song parodies and a lot of talk.  I wrote in to complain.  So, apparently, did everyone else.  Although I initially got a "hey, change is good -- give it some time" email from the station, they quickly changed their tune and my usual morning guy returned, playing Classic Rock like nothing had happened.

All was well.  Months went by.  Maybe even years.

This morning, my morning guy disappeared again.  He was replaced by another morning guy.  Ugh.

To his credit, New Replacement Morning Guy has two things going for him which make him better than Old Replacement Morning Crew -- New Guy is, at least, LOCAL.  And New Guy does -- on rare occasions, ACTUALLY PLAY MUSIC.

Very rarely.  This morning, I counted more than TWENTY MINUTES between songs.  This twenty minutes was filled with some "play guitar and win concert tickets" giveaway, which largely involved New Replacement Morning Guy and a Celebrity Guest Caller listening to lots of local kids attempting to play guitar and making fun of them.

Let me be perfectly clear.  There is only ONE thing I want from my classic rock station:  Classic Rock.  My clock radio goes off at some time which, by definition, is a time at which I would rather be asleep.  I need me some hard, driving rock to shock my body out of its slumber and get my butt out of bed.

Now, I genuinely LIKE classic rock and would happily continue to listen on my morning drive to work.  If you're actually playing rock.  But I'm not going to listen to you if all you're going to do is TALK.  If I'm going to listen to talk, I'll listen to the news, or a book on tape.  If, instead, I'm going to give myself a break to listen to some music, I want you to PLAY SOME DAMN MUSIC.

Is that so hard?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Disneyland Again

Look, I don't want to sound like more of a wuss than I already do, but, um... my palms hurt from spinning the teacups.

We sorta rode the teacups a lot.  The other three had ridden them once before I got there, and told me that some of the cups were broken and hard to spin.  I thought this was just THEM being wussy, because the teacups are GENERALLY hard to spin.

So we go on the teacups and I'm gonna show 'em who's Teacup Spinning Boss, right?  We pile all four of us in a yellow teacup and all try to spin it.

We can't.  We can barely get that sucker moving at all.  We're pulling and pulling like crazy, and the teacup won't hardly move.

We get out of the teacups and I'm STILL making excuses.  "Um, the problem is that when you spin the teacup, you have to spin all your own weight, too.  We shouldn't have put all four of us in the teacup.  We need to split up, two and two."

So, later that night, we split up.  We wait in line and decide to ride the cups in pairs.  And which teacup does my partner run to?  The same crappy yellow teacup.  But, remember, I still don't think there's anything wrong with it.

I am quickly convinced.  Darned thing won't spin.  I look out down and see that our SAUCER appears to be moving at quite the little clip (relative to the ground), but when I look up, our cup is making leisurely little spins at best.

We pair up in different pairs, and ride the teacups again.  Now I'm avoiding the yellow cups like they're diseased or something.

And I get in a pink cup with another partner -- and it SPINS.  IT MOVES.  We start off making it go REALLY FAST, but, after all that struggling with the yellow teacup, I can't keep it going for the whole time.

We get out, run around the line again, and try out our last pairing.  This time, I'm paired with the other grown-up in the group.  I figure the two of us can get this sucker going something wicked.

We get a good teacup and, like before, get it spinning quite well at the start.  But then age starts catching up with us.  I'm pulling on that little disk in the center of the cup with all my strength -- throwing my body into it, just to get that teacup spinning.  I end up giving it all I've got.  By the time the ride is over, I walk out of that thing with my tongue lolling out the side of my mouth.  I'm not so much dizzy -- I'm SPENT.

And now, three nights later, my hands are still sore.

Homework -- 25 Little Known Facts

My problem with this has been two-fold.  First, it's hard to just think up random things -- I need something to jog my memory on them.  (Like, if John hadn't said the thing about eating cow brains in Jerusalem, I wouldn't have thought to add in my fact #3.)  Second, when I do think up random facts, plenty of them seem to be the sort of bizarre little stories that would be worthy of entire journal entries, so I'm hesitant to "waste" them on a list-type entry.

But, I've never been one to shirk a homework assignment.  Oooo, that reminds me...

1.  In law school, I read every word that was assigned -- with the exception of some of the footnotes.

2.  I hate the smell of coffee.  I once had to walk out of a Starbucks because I felt a retch coming on.

3.  I once ate chicken hearts in Jerusalem.

4.  My earliest memory is of brushing my teeth.

5.  When growing up, my favorite candy-type flavor was lime.  Now it's my least favorite.

6.  In fifth grade, I had a purple cast on my leg.

7.  I have one screen name named after an obscure character in a fantasy novel, and another named after a main character in a classic of work musical theatre.  The former has been recognized more than the latter.

8.  I adore the term "geeked out."

9.  I went to the world's first Star Trek convention.

10.  I once went to the set of Cagney & Lacey.  They were filming on Lacey Street.  I lived on Cagney Street. 

11.  My math SAT score was more than 100 points higher than my verbal.

12.  I used to dance around in my underwear to the soundtrack from "Saturday Night Fever."  (Yep, that's the one I've never shared with anybody.)

13.  I never wondered where babies came from.

14.  When falling asleep, I try to think about a storyline and hope to dream its continuation.  I've been doing this with the same storyline for over 25 years. 

15.  There are two speeches permanently stuck in my long term memory:  Romeo's opening monologue from the balcony scene; and three lines of the Torah reading from my Bat-Mitzvah.

16.  When I was a kid, I thought diamonds were blue and Siamese cats were black.

17.  When I first performed a song in school drama class, I was so off-key the other kids laughed.  Afterwards, I told everyone I had sung badly on purpose.  I was a great comedic hit.  I was lying.

18.  The wildest thing I did my freshman year of college was go to the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru braless.

19.  One day when I was in fifth grade, I woke up and my fingernails had started growing.  At least six people commented on their length at school that day.

20.  If left to my own devices, I'd sleep from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. every day.

21.  I can't sleep with the window open unless there's a screen in it.  I have an irrational fear of things flying in my room when I'm asleep.

22.  In High School English class, I took an exam we had "unlimited" time for.  After class was over, I kept writing all through lunch, and all through gym class.

23.  I once got thrown out of a bar at the Disneyland Hotel.

24.  In college drama class, we learned to say the names of all the books of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) on one breath.  I'm told this is a good bar bet, but I've never actually tried it for money.

25.  That thing about tying a knot in a cherry stem with your tongue?  I can do it.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Update -- By Popular Demand

Anna asks for an update.  And since I'm finding it hard to come up with 25 Little Known Facts (our AOL-J homework for the weekend) -- I'll take her up on it immediately.

I want to know how Jack is doing?  Is he behaving himself, or still being the wild man?

Jack is doing much better, now that he's got all his anti-virus stuff going.  Of course, I just got a phone call from my more-or-less nice cable company.  Those being the ones who also supply me with cable modem, so it's a Jack-related issue.  Now, the cable company informed me that they're raising the price of my cable modem $10/month, to a whopping $40/month.  (On top of which I pay AOL whatever they want for "bringing your own access.")  I think upwards of $50/month is a little high for one's internet service, don't you?  But there's nothing I can do about it.  Well, I can keep the same price I'm paying now, but they'll drop my connection speed to half what I have now.  Screw that.  With the higher price I'll be getting faster downloads (which I don't necessarily need, but can't complain about), but I certainly don't want to go slower

ANYWAY, I absolutely refused to pay the cable company more than I'm already paying them on a monthly basis (upwards of $100, for cable and internet), so I called up and said we're going to have to cancel some of my premium-movie channels to offset the higher price on the cable modem.  (This is both a matter of principle, and the fact that I really only watch HBO anyway.)  At first, the lady says she can't do it without cancelling my entire service.  I give her the disbelieving voice:  "Are you telling me you can't give me the higher speed modem and cancel my Starz/Encore subscription and give me everything else I already have?"  She puts me on hold for five minutes and comes back with a package deal that gives me what I currently have, the higher connection speed, and all the premium movie channels they offer for less than what I'm paying now.  Thank you, and have a nice day.

What happened with you beingable to see your pictures?  Can you do that yet?

That's a reference to this problem I was having where I can't see the pictures I put in my journal using "You've Got Pictures."  And I can only see them in other people's journals sporadically.  The problem still exists.  I think it has something to do with crappy You've Got Pictures software.  (Which, btw, I never used on the old computer, because the one time I tried it, it froze not only AOL by my entire computer.)  So I've concluded that YGP blows, and will just post pictures from my ftp space instead. 

Did Mariette depart yet?   Sweet, good ole girl that she is.

My, I've named a lot of inanimate objects in my life, haven't I?  Mariette is still in her boxes in the middle of my floor.  I called a recycler who will take her -- eventually.  They normally only do pick-ups from businesses, but said they'd swing by and get her next time they're in the neighborhood.  They'll call me one day in advance and I'll just hope I can work at home that day.  But at least we're making some level of progress here.

How's my sweet Jasmine?  

Jasmine -- clearly not an inanimate object -- btw, that link is to a much older picture you might not have seen yet -- is just adorable, as per usual.  The other evening, she pulled my hand toward her -- this generally means she's trying to bring my fingers closer to her mouth so she can bite me, but this time she just wanted to lick my hand and then cling to my arm with both paws.  So precious it was all I could do not to kiss her to pieces.

What have you been deciding about the carpet color and redecorating plans?

The bedroom.  Sigh.  Jury duty was right next to one of them Expo Design Center places, so I took home some carpet samples the other day.  A very dark green for the bedroom and (just for shits & giggles) a burgundy for the rest of the house.  At first, I really liked the dark green for the bedroom, but in the dark it looked kinda black, which I found disturbing.  (The burgundy was nice for the hallway, and went well with most of my furniture, but when I imagined it over the whole floor it seemed overwhelming.)  I took them both back the next day and traded for a sage green and a neutral-leaning-toward-pink.  Both were total disasters.  By the time I put them back in my car for the return trip to Expo, I'd dubbed them "snot" and "vomit."  Not to mention that whatever fibre the sage was made out of was something Jasmine thought was scratching-post material.  I am seriously reconsidering the dark green again. 

I think I may just do the bedroom now.  I'd really like to do a recarpet and repaint of the whole house, but the bedroom is the only thing on an actual CLOCK (gotta get it repainted before the new shutter is installed in May), and, besides, if I just do the bedroom, I can MAYBE get away with not having to kennel Jasmine for a few days.  (...assuming we can dry the paint with the door closed).

Still trying to come up with 25 Little Known Facts...


Just got home from Disneyland.  (Well, got home 1/2 hour ago.  Still too tired to move from this spot.)

And again, I thought about how nice it would be if Disneyland set aside a day as Adults' Night.  

Take a night that nobody really goes to the park much anyway -- some random Wednesday night in October or something -- and open the park only to adults.

Teenagers can come too, I guess.  I'm just looking to keep out anyone in the age group that "gets cranky when they're tired."  I certainly want to keep the stroller set out, but also anyone who throws a temper tantrum to get their way.  Anyone who actually stamps their feet would be prohibited from entry.

This is supposed to be the Happiest Freakin' Place on Earth.  Just once, I'd like to enjoy it without hearing any WHINING.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Do NOT put me on your jury

People, people, people...

I've just completed my fourth stint in jury duty, and I am now more convinced than ever that NONE of you want me on your juries.  (Well, ok, HALF of you don't want me on your juries.)

Here's the thing -- I tend to control juries.

I don't set out to do this.  Truth is, I go out of my way NOT to.  I always make sure someone else is the foreman, and I'll try really hard not to say ANYTHING in deliberations as long as someone else is making the points that I want made.

Yeah, that's the plan anyway.

Fact is, of the four juries I've been on, I have (either partially or completely) controlled three of them.  And that fourth one was going to hang anyway.

It's just my nature.  I'm smart.  I'm opinionated.  I'm argumentative as hell.  I can be persuasive.  

I can badger people into submission.  Do you really WANT someone on your jury who likes to argue so much, the rest of the jurors will just GIVE UP and vote her way?  Well, maybe you do, if you think you're going to get me on your side.  But I'm also unpredictable.  I'm confident enough to "go off the board" and have frequently persuaded my fellow jurors with a factual argument neither you nor your opposing counsel even MENTIONED at trial.

Twice, I've ended up on juries because you guys wasted your challenges and didn't have any left by the time you got to me.  I'm telling you -- save one when you see me coming.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Miss Oklahoma

All right.  I admit it.  I watched about 20 minutes of the Miss U.S.A. pageant the other night.  I watched the "casual interviews" with the final 5 contestants and then (gasp) "the final question."

The hosts made a point of saying the ladies' answers to the final question didn't matter, and that what mattered was how they answered the question.  But, I gotta tell you, I think Miss Oklahoma lost the competition right there, based on her answer.  Because an entire panel of judges thought, "We cannot have a total airhead as Miss U.S.A."

Now, don't get me wrong.  I do feel some sort of sympathy for Miss Oklahoma.  She's clearly young, and clearly nervous, and someday she will look back on this piece of video and so totally not believe she said that.  In fact, I expect that when she returns to college, many of her friends (well, the good ones anyway) will gently mock her for this one for weeks to come.

So, here it is.  Each contestant is asked a single question (drawn at random).  They get softballs like, "If you could take one thing with you on your travels as Miss U.S.A., what would it be?"

Miss Oklahoma reaches her hand in the bin and draws out, "If you could have dinner with anyone in the world tonight, who would it be and what would you ask them?"

There are so many ways to go with that.  I mean, the question wasn't the standard "living or dead" thing, so she can't set up the dinner party with Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein.  But there are still a lot of options.  (Um, "I'd have dinner with Osama bin Laden and ask, 'Exactly where are you and all the other Al Qaeda higher-ups hiding?'")  She doesn't go for the funny.  She doesn't go for the political.  She doesn't go for an aging historical figure from whom she could learn something.  She doesn't even go for the easy one. ("I'd have dinner with the outgoing Miss U.S.A. and ask her for her advice for the journey I'm about to be taking.")

No.  Miss Oklahoma decides to use her one-time-only-dinner-companion-golden-ticket-on ...

Justin Timberlake.

And for the second part of the question?  "Maybe he can teach me some cool dance moves."

She could've had the ear of the George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld.  She could've broken bread with Nelson Mandela or Salman Rushdie.  She could've picked the brains of Nobel Prize winners, breathtaking poets, or perceptive writers.  And, instead, she goes with the cute boy from N'Sync.

Yeah, yeah... the contestants' answers aren't supposed to matter.  But there comes a time when the judges (and the viewing public) think, "No.  I'm sorry.  You are simply too dim to represent the American standard of beauty."

Monday, April 12, 2004

Just so you know...

The 32-ounce Coke is too big.

That is all.

I gotta go. 



Sunday, April 11, 2004

Hey, don't pick that.

I'm 35 years old and I've FINALLY convinced myself to stop scratching at scabs. 

This moment of growing up brought to you by:  The Scientific Method.

A couple weeks ago, my stupid flip-flops stupid dug into my feet and I ended up with identical little burst blisters.  They bled, they scabbed over, they itched like hell.

I decided to allow myself to scratch at ONE of them.  I called the one on my left foot the "control" injury, while the one on the right was the experimental one, and I scratched that little bugger till it came off.  (Oh, don't be icked out.  It isn't like you haven't done it.)  It bled again and scabbed over again.  Differently.  As I watched the progress of my two little scabs, Control was healing nicely while Scratched-At was developing a scar.

We're a couple weeks out and Control is barely visible.  Scratched-At is a dark pink scar twice as large as Control.

Oh, if only I'd known this when I was 7.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

One of Those Days

OK, so it starts with me being late for this meeting I was attending this morning.  Normally, this is not a big deal, but I was supposed to keep the minutes today, and I have this general feeling that -- as a rule -- the person taking notes on the meeting should -- oh, I don't know -- be in attendance when the meeting starts.  I mean, it would've been NICE.

Got home, wrote up the minutes, did some internet stuff, fed the cat, the usual.

I had a theatre ticket for tonight.  Show at 7:30.  I punched up the location on Mapquest -- Mapquest thinks it'll take me about a half hour to get there.  Figure I'll leave at 6:30.

It is, by this time, around 6:00.  I toss back some food (nothing good), pop some of that gum that tastes like toothpaste (I'm a considerate theatregoer) and head out the door.  I'm about ten minutes later than I'd like to be -- mostly because I have to coax the cat out of my bedroom.  (I've had to do that a lot lately.  She used to just go out when I wanted her too, but I think she's discovered that if she hides in there, I'll go get some good toys and start waving them in front of her.)

I go downstairs to the garage.  My parking spot is across the from the elevator.

There's a small problem.  In the form of an SUV parked (sideways) in front of the elevator.  It isn't exactly blocking me in my space -- it's just making it impossible to get OUT of my space.  As a rule, I have to back up PRETTY FAR before turning so that I don't clock the front of my car on a nearby post.  And this would have me backing up into the SUV which is now parked where it shouldn't be.

I think I sort of see a way out of this.  The car in the spot beside me is parked kinda forward.  (All our spots are tandem -- most of us park, to some degree, straddling both spots.)  If I back up halfway, I can turn in front of the pole into the spot beside me, and then drive out.

A good plan.  A reasonable plan.

At least, that's what I thought right up until the moment I scraped the side of my car against the pole.  At this point, I am parked horizontally (that is to say, 90 degrees away from getting out of the spot) on the wrong side of the pole, with the rear passenger door of my car AGAINST the pole.

To review then:  I am now trapped in my parking spot, every attempt to extricate myself will do further damage to my car, and it isn't looking good for getting to the theatre on time.

Here's an interesting fact.  This is what I do when I'm frustrated.  In order.  The whole process takes under two minutes:
I turn off the car. (I'm presently listening to some History Lectures on Tape and, frankly, I don't really give a damn about Czar Nicholas I right now.)
I throw my hands in the air.
I lean my forehead against the steering wheel.
I cry in frustration.
I say a word that rhymes with "Duck."
I get out of the car.
I breathe calmly.
Rational Thought Returns.

I realize the best way out of the pole situation is to reverse what I've done, so I back myself BACK into my space -- this doesn't help me with the "trapped in my own garage" thing, but it does save my car from further damage, which was Priority One.  At this point, I see a new plan for backing out (which involves backing myself into the space on the OTHER side), and I get out of the garage without further damage.

I don't stop to look at my car, so have no idea what the pole did.  I do, however, stop to ask a neighbor (who I see on the way out) to please kill whoever parked their SUV in front of the elevator.

I speed to the theatre and hand my car off the valet with a good ten minutes to spare.  I get a chance to look at the HUGE SCRAPES down the side of my car.  There's no structural damage at all (yay for dent-resistent panels) but the actual scrapage is rather worse than I'd feared.  (Good thing I didn't look when I was still in the garage.  I would've been too furious to drive safely.)

Saw the show.  Thank goodness it was funny.

Came home.  Fed cat.  Am now going out to the movies.  I believe I will see Hidalgo.  Yes, I know.  I should stay home, get some sleep, do some work, fold some laundry, etc.  Screw it.  Sometimes agirl just needs to spend two hours staring at Viggo Mortensen. 

Friday, April 9, 2004

Latest Thing That I Hate

Death to oversealed plastic packages!  I am so sick of having to use an X-acto knife to open everything I buy.  (In fact, I seem to have misplaced my X-acto knife after my last war with a package.)

Is it just me or are these packages becoming more and more prevalent?  You know the ones -- where they take two pieces of plastic, insert your printer ink, ear thermometer, or whatever between them, and then melt the two pieces of plastic together with such force that they will never be two pieces of plastic again.  It's not like the olden days when you could wedge a finger in there (through the little hole they use to display the package in the store) and pry the two pieces apart.  Heck no.  You instead have to cut one (or more) of the vacuum sealed edges off the package in order to free your item.

And that's if you're LUCKY.  Sometimes, it isn't just the EDGES of the plastic that have been melted together -- it's the entire parcel except for the little bubble of air where your product is.  In that case, you have to carve your purchase out with the X-acto knife.

Look, I understand why fear of shoplifting makes it attractive for manufacturers to seal small products in packages that are (1) big, unwieldy and therefore difficult to steal; and (2) impossible to open by someone casually walking by in the store.  But once you actually BUY the parcel -- having paid for it with real live U.S. cash -- you should be able to open it without special tools.  Say, maybe you want to use your brand new car-cigarette-lighter-adapter for your CD player in the car on the way home from the store.  If you can't even OPEN the damn thing with the tools at your disposal in the passenger compartment of your car, something is very wrong here.

Not to mention the number of times I've injured myself getting the little buggers open.  (And, yes, I know I tend to be a little injury-prone, but still.)  I'm not talking about the occasional risk of finger-choppage by indiscriminate X-acto knife usage.  I'm talking about the sharp-as-hell edges of the plastic that remain after you cut it open, which you then have to wedge your hand between to complete the product-removal-process.  You think a paper cut is unpleasant?  Try a big-hunk-of-plastic cut.  Ow.

Thursday, April 8, 2004


Yes, the stories of my new computer, decorating my home and (bonus) the near-continual saga of me injuring myself now collide in the story of Mariette, the computer that wouldn't leave.

So, Jack (new computer) arrives at the door courtesy the nice people at Dell.  This is, coincidentally, very similar to the way Mariette (old computer) arrived -- although it was courtesy the nice people at Gateway.  When Jack showed up, I boxed up Mariette in all her original Gateway packaging (which I'd saved in my storage bin in the garage) so I could store her in the aforementioned bin until I figure out a more permanent place for her to go.

The boxing up didn't go as well as I'd hoped.  While detaching Mariette's big-ass monitor from her CPU (that being under my desk), Mariette whacked me in the forehead, right over the eye.  (OK, OK, I whacked my head on Mariette while getting back up from under the desk -- but I'm certain it was intentional on her part.  I'd moved her monitor to the edge of the desk and she WILLFULLY refused to move when she saw I was popping my head back up.)  I iced my forehead and -- luckily -- it didn't bruise.  For two days.  Thereafter, the yellowish "healing" bruise appeared.  It's still a little tender -- and everyone at work thinks I accidentally wrote on my forehead with a highlighter.

So.  With that minor incident, I got Mariette in her boxes and I'm all ready to take them down to the garage.  (A process that involves carting them to the elevator and going down a couple flights.)  Problem.  All our condo has for the "carting big heavy boxes" task are a few shopping carts.  Both of Mariette's boxes are WAY too big to fit in the shopping carts.  Theoretically, I could maybe balance one across the top of a shopping cart, but it's unlikely I'll be able to lift it up there.  So I leave the boxes in the middle of my floor.

Today I think, "Aha!  Put them on the BOTTOM of the shopping cart."  You know, the place where the grocery store always puts the 12 pack of Coke or the 5 gallon jug of water (and then you forget they put it there and nearly drive off leaving your Coke or water in the shopping cart).  So I bring a cart up to my place.  I grab Mariette's monitor box (the smaller of the two) and shove it on the bottom of the cart.

I try, that is.  (Insert here much physical comedy with me shoving the monitor up the lip onto the bottom of the cart while the cart responds by sliding backwards across the floor.)  Mariette's monitor box is about 1/2 inch too tall.  It won't fit on the cart.

I cannot get Mariette out of my condo.

My current thoughts are: 
(1) invite some friends to come over for a "help me move my computer/I'll buy you pizza" party
(2) invite an unsuspecting big strong man over my place, act like I'm a weak female (won't require a whole lot of acting in this particular situation), and ask him to haul it downstairs for me
(3) take Mariette out of her boxes (risking various other head trauma), bring monitor and CPU down to garage in the shopping cart, rebox her on the floor of the garage, THEN put her in storage.


Wednesday, April 7, 2004

When I Grow Up...

I haven't posted a silly story from my childhood in awhile.  Here's a quick one.

For years, my parents had a good laugh over the time when my small, quiet, girly, five-year-old (or so) self announced (in public, it's always in public), "When I grow up, I want to be a truck driver."

I'm not sure if they ever realized how this came about.

As a kid, I was pretty much always the quiet, nerdy type (complete with stereotypical eyeglasses).  So my folks thought I'd grow up to be something cool and white-collar nerdy:  an engineer.  And once or twice, they joked about it, "Oh, I'm sure she's going to grow up to be an engineer, right?"

Thing is, when you're a kid, the only kind of engineer you've heard of is the guy in the little red overalls who makes the locomotive go.  (I mean, there's no Little Golden Book called, "The Technical Blueprint That Could," now, is there?)  So, if they said I was gonna be an engineer, I was going to be something even MORE impressive.  And what's better than the guy who drives a train?


Tuesday, April 6, 2004

The Upgraded Journaller's Oath

I thought I'd write up a pledge to commemorate the new version of the AOL-Journalling system.

On my honor, I will try:

- To not write a 25,000 character entry just because I can

- To never ever ever write a multi-part entry again

- To always write in a legible font

- To not use (unreliable) You've Got Pictures anymore and instead use the nifty new picture-insertion tool

- To not forget the coding that I'd learned in order to install pictures the old-fashioned way

- To not post so many pictures it chokes the computers of my readers

- To not post so many pictures I use up all my ftp space for all seven screen names

- And if I do, they won't ALL be of my cat

- To use the "alert me when comments are added to this journal" tool so that I'm not inflating my own post count by dropping by every hour wondering "has anyone guessed the name of my network yet?"

- To use the "alert me as entries are posted" tool so that I'm not inflating someone else's post count by dropping by every day wondering, "So, did he win?"

- To post hyperlinks with impunity!

- To see if ANY of this affects the Mac Journalling experience

- To continue to update daily

- To either update 52 (my fictional journal) on something approaching a regular schedule, or put it out of its misery

- To find out where the heck JeffComedy's journal went

- To go the gym more ... er, ok, that's not part of the Journaller's Oath, but I really should recommit to that one at every available opportunity.  (Not a good thing when you see a cute little group photo of yourself with all your co-workers and think, "Dude, I shoulda been standing a little more in profile," if you know what I mean.)

Monday, April 5, 2004

Aw Darn

I see that CBS cancelled "Century City," which means I won't have that to kick around anymore. Not fair, not fair. Look, don't get me wrong, the show was crap -- but it had the potential to EITHER be (a) actually quite good or (b) so bad, you just had to watch. (Indeed, its final episode -- which included a plot surrounding a women who had a penis surgically attached to herself for "cosmetic purposes" -- was very nearly the sort of train wreck people talk about for years to come.) I'm sorry the show didn't have a chance to run longer -- I hate seeing shows cancelled before they've actually figured out what they're going to be.

Also sad that I won't get to watch Ioan Gruffudd (who happens to be Welsh) do an American accent on a weekly basis. Ever since Kenneth Branagh did it in "Dead Again," I've been fascinated by watching people "put on" an American accent because, of course, to my American ear, it sounds like they're magically "dropping" their own accent. Hell, even Lucy Lawless was entertaining at it -- as her voice seemed to drop an octave when she did the American accent, as though her native accent was trying to break out and she had to talk very slowly, deeply and carefully in order to keep it tied down. Ah well, at least Nick-at-Nite's "Roseanne" reruns are up to the Glenn Quinn years.

"And now, a moment for the ladies..."

Caught the end of the basketball game.  I enjoyed it (go Huskies!) but wasn't as involved as the menfolk in the room.

I'm all about fighting gender stereotypes, but sometimes it's fun to just joke with them.  I mean, our host was serving "man food" -- bratwurst and beer -- while we female types were eating light little salads.  So, yeah, we were enjoying our stereotypical roles. 

The men were all watching the game, of course.  As it was nearing blow-out proportions, conversation wasn't strictly about basketball.  It moved onto other male subjects.  Like power tools.  Grilling.  Off-color jokes.  :::grunt, grunt, grunt:::

And right near the end of the game, there's a time out, and a commercial comes on for the movie Troy.  All of a sudden, it's Ladies' Night.  Within a few seconds, the men are speechless and the women have immediately taken in the salient facts.  "Brad Pitt in a skirt."  "Mmm, Orlando Bloom."  (Which of course leads to the now nearly standard reference to some teenage girl one of us knows who is deeply in love with Orlando Bloom.  Much laughter.)

The men gamely try to keep up.  I hear snippets of conversation around me -- snippets like, "... you know, the one with the bow and arrow ..." 

And then the game comes back on, and the men go back to talking about so-and-so's free throw percentage and whether the Huskies are going to cover the points, and it's Men's Night again.

Sunday, April 4, 2004

So, what was the mini-series? (3 of 3)

A couple years ago, there were some motions in the direction of "immersive fiction" -- I think the best known attempt was "Majestic," but the first was the game that was built-up around the movie "A.I." (The game was never officially named, although it was unofficially known as "The Beast.") I spent a summer playing it -- and while it, of course, involved the relatively standard game-playing elements of solving puzzles to find directions to the next location (in this case, websites) -- the game also aimed to intrude on reality in such a way that you'd never know what was game and what was real. Its websites weren't just game sites -- you'd find them by googling -- so whenever you found a new site, you wouldn't be positive whether it was a game site or just a real world coincidence. The game emailed you. It faxed you. On some notable occasions, it telephoned. You met other players in person and never REALLY knew who there was a game player and who was a hired actor playing a role IN the game.

I mean, while playing this game, I found myself in a dimly lit ladies' room in a bar looking for a clue we'd been told would be in the bathroom. I'm aiming my little pocket flashlight all over the graffitti in the john, asking myself, "Is this the clue? Is this the clue?" -- when it was all just normal bathroom wall writing. At the very best moments of this game, I had a feeling of total uncertainty, where I was actually questioning my reality.

And it wasn't until I sat here watching "The One Game" this week that I realized this British cult TV mini-series I'd enjoyed fifteen years ago was actually a grandparent of the game I enjoyed playing some ten years later. I just love it when loose ends in my memory link up.

So, what was the mini-series? (1 of 3)

Anna is right -- I've spent too much time talking about Jack and networking and adware and all that stuff. (And I've got the opposite of writers' block right now -- about five topics that I feel I could write on.) So, before I forget, I'm going to return to the topic of That English Mini-Series I've been talking about. (But, before I do that -- really, I'm serious about the whole Help Me Decorate thing -- so scroll down and tell me what color carpet to buy.)

OK, late '80s, I sit myself down in front of British Television (which, at the time, must have had all of 4 channels) and find myself watching a program called "The One Game."

The show is the sort of thing that I know I'll like immediately, as it combines all sorts of things that my late '80s self thought were incredibly cool.

It centers around Nick, the president of a game manufacturing company. One Friday, he discovers that someone hacked into his computer and stole upwards of two million pounds from him. This is money that the company needs to pay out on Tuesday -- so he's got about four days to hunt down the thief and get his money back or he risks losing the company.

Someone leaves an envelope containing a computer disk at Nick's house. It contains a puzzle he has to solve. He eventually solves it, and it sends him to a shopping center -- at night after business hours. Shows up at the shopping center where there are four nasty-looking youths who make threatening gestures in his direction. He runs; they chase. Ultimately, he's cornered -- there's nothing but one of those drop-down security fences in front of him, and four bad guys closing in behind him. He's scared shitless, and the bad guys... disappear. Nick turns and faces the road, on the other side of the fence. There he sees a car drive up and his ex-wife is violently kidnapped, while he stands powerless, trapped behind the fence. As the car drives off, the kidnappers leave an envelope for Nick -- it's the next clue in the game.

This time, it's a videotape. Nick learns that his money and his ex-wife were taken by Nick's former business partner, Magnus -- a game designer who he froze out of the business some years back. If Nick wants to see Jenny (and the two million pounds) again, he's got to play Magnus's game -- solve the puzzles, follow the clues, and basically jump through whatever hoops Magnus has set up for him.

So, what was the mini-series? (2 of 3)

The thing that was so wild about "The One Game" is that Nick never knew who else was playing. It was a game that intruded on reality, and was largely indistinguishable from it. Sure, when Nick showed up at a particular address Magnus sent him to, he would know something game-related was going to happen. But, outside of that, he never knew if the guy driving his bus, the beggar asking for spare change, ... heck, even his ex-wife ... were actually playing roles in the game.

(In one scene -- a rather famous one in the world of cult television -- Nick, by chance, picks up a parcel a driver left by the side of the road for delivery to a nearby town. When Nick enters the town, he finds it deserted, except for some snipers who open fire on him. Nick dives for cover in one of the houses, which are also deserted. He opens the parcel, and finds a gun he can use to shoot back. Nick barely gets out of the town alive. In fact, he ends up rescuing another guy who got caught in the cross-fire and took a bullet in the arm. Nick damn near carries this guy out of Dodge, and sets him in his car to drive him to the hospital. The guy thanks him, removes what was a fake arm covered with blood, laughs maniacally, and throws a clue envelope at Nick. I was so hooked.)

I mean, this was the EIGHTIES. I'd played a little D&D in my day, and the idea of a role playing game that actually invaded life struck me as the Coolest Thing Ever.

.... People have drawn a comparison between "The One Game" and that Michael Douglas movie "The Game" -- and the latter may well owe a debt to the former. I certainly noticed the similarity (and, actually, had wished "The Game" would've been more like "The One Game.")

But, what absolutely knocked me off my ass when watching "The One Game" again this week is that I've freakin' PLAYED it, and didn't even realize the similarity when I did.

Saturday, April 3, 2004


There are photos in that post below.  The one about indulging your inner designer.  I used "You've Got Pictures" and added four photos.  Which you may or may not be able to see.

I can't see them.  Not when I view my journal on AOL.  Which is odd because that's where I put them in.

I can't see them when I view my journal via IE either.

Here's where it gets really funky.  I link to rbushu's journal.  She's got some YGP in the top entry, and in one a few entries down ("Reason Number 857 Why I Rock!" and "Inflitrating the Zone.")

I know this because I can see the YGP in the "Reason Number 857" entry (but not the "Infiltrating the Zone" entry) when I crank the journal up on IE.  And I can see the YGP in the "Infiltrating the Zone" entry (but not the "Reason Number 857" entry) when I look at her journal on AOL.

In other words -- seeing YGP photos seems to be rather ... sporadic.  I wonder if this has something to do with the Beta Journals Install that we've been promised for 'round about Tuesday.  Or has YGP always been kinda flukey and I just never noticed it before?

Friday, April 2, 2004


Just to keep you all updated...  thanks to Peg and an email from a new AOL-J pal, I downloaded Ad-Aware.  Ran it and it found about 30 things it had concerns about.  Half of them were cookies, but there were at least 3 things there that were definitely naughty and have now been quarantined and removed.  (Heck with it -- I removed the cookies, too.  I removed stuff that was probably harmless.  What the hell.  Out with it all!)  So my thanks for the info.  It's a mean, scary world out there, and I've gotta keep my boy safe.

In other Jack news, our wireless router arrived today and installed perfectly with no trouble at all.  I gotta tell you, Jack is the first computer I've had where I've experienced TRUE plug-and-play.  Plug in router -- it finds the internet.  Turn on notebook -- it finds the router.  (And this router replaces a two-piece system -- which in turn replaced another two-piece system -- both of which took FOREVER to set up and HOURS to get working correctly.)  Of course, I had to name the network too.  (Ten points to anyone who guesses what I named it.  I imagine that anyone who knows me -- that is, anyone who knows me via the journal -- would have a reasonable shot at getting it.)

I'm just a spy-ware killin', computer-namin', network-installin' machine today.

Now... read the entry below and tell me what color carpet to buy.  This is serious business.

Indulge Your Inner Decorator

Notice how those home improvement type shows are on TV all the time?  I think they're sort of feeding into this overall American consciousness that, "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't be living in a sh*thole."

Well, I'm planning to repaint and recarpet my condo.  This is an awesome statement on my part -- I've needed to recarpet since the day I moved in (you can still see the pawprints from the prior owner's dog running down the carpet), but I resisted because I didn't know what carpet to put in.

I've got to decide now.  It's that whole one-project-leads-to-another thing.  I ordered a shutter for my bedroom window.  Before I install it, I need to remove the old window covering, and touch up the paint.  So I might as well repaint the bedroom now.  And if I'm going to go the trouble of repainting the room, I might as well recarpet too.  (Why move furniture twice, eh?)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me pick a carpet color.  (And if we come up with something good here, we'll move on to the much harder task of the living room/dining room/hallway.)

Here are some photos of the bedroom. 

Yes, the walls are periwinkle.  My plan is to keep the walls vaguely that color.  That is, I want to use the comforter as a jumping off point, and take one of the lighter purple colors for the walls.

I also want to repaint the french doors (and the doorway to the bathroom) in an off-white color that matches the incoming shutters.  I am toying with putting in some moulding around the ceiling and floor also in that color.  My tentative idea for the carpet is green -- either a pale moss green or something much darker (both from the comforter).

Moulding -- Yes?  No?  Partial?
Carpet -- Pale green?  Dark green?  Other?
Ceiling -- Off white?  Match the walls?  Other?

Thursday, April 1, 2004

My Little Boy is Growing Up (2 of 2)

A half hour later and, although no more viruses are found, four "suspect" programs -- all of them with the word "adware" in the title -- are discovered.  I delete them all.  Two of them were in a program folder from Lycos.  Now, there may have been something useful from Lycos on my computer, but *I* didn't put it there.  In fact, the little bastards were installed TODAY.  Seeing as everything I care about was installed on the computer BEFORE today (either by Dell or by me) I figure these buggers can be safely deleted.  (I also take a moment to consider whether it was really a good idea to not have a Firewall on freakin' April Fools Day.)

Can't delete them.  They won't delete because they are running.  I pull up Task Manager.  I close them.  I try to delete them.  In the amount of time it has taken me to get back to the delete screen, they've started running again.  I repeat this a lot. 

In the meantime, I install a firewall.  I move the unwanted programs to the desktop.  I turn Jack off and on again, and as soon as he starts up, I delete the unwanted programs before they have a chance to engage.  (Ha!)

I then open IE.

Instant barrage of adware again.  More Trojans discovered and cleansed.  Anti-Virus going nuts again, asking to rescan Jack AGAIN.  This time I get a clue and -- before rescanning -- reset my home page, which has been changed from google to adware central.

Now, at least, I can access the internet.  I completed this entry while doing the third virus scan, and Jack is apparently clean ... for now. 

My Little Boy is Growing Up (1 of 2)

I've had Jack (see below) for what? a day?  And already it is time for a very serious discussion about using protection.

Of course, I installed an anti-virus program on him immediately.  I mean, every new baby has to got to get his vaccinations.  But I thought he was young enough that he could go a day without a box of condoms.

See, I have a wireless router on order from amazon -- which means I'll be sharing Jack's internet connection with the laptop (in what I hope will be a monogamous relationship -- come to think of it, the laptop is also male, so they'll need to get this sanctioned in San Francisco) ... ANYWAY, since I'll be setting that up as soon as the router comes, I innocently thought I could go a day or so without installing a firewall, seeing as I'll have to reconfigure the firewall once I get the shared connection set up.

In my defense, Mariette never needed a firewall.  That was a girl who knew how to keep her skirts down and her legs crossed, I am telling you.  Well, to tell you the truth, I think it was really that she was so old that all those young hackers weren't interested in her.  Age discrimination is a vile thing, but -- in this case -- it made all the bad guys ignore Mariette while they went after more attractive targets, so I never really had to go out of my way to protect her.

But oh... what a wild boy I have here. 

Keep in mind that I did a FULL virus scan on Jack last night.

I logged on this morning, did my usual internet business, turned Jack off, and went to work.

Got home about 14 hours later.  Turned Jack on (oh baby).  Clicked on IE.  Massive adware popped up all over the place.  Anti-virus went crazy with alerts about Trojans.  Suggested I do another full body scan of Jack, even though I'd just done one 24 hours ago.