Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Bad Old Days

Was doing some boring and ucky work at the office today, so I cranked up my ipod to some nice perky tuneage to keep me going.

Now, pre-ipod, I'd listen to CDs on my computer.

Pre-computer, I'd listen to cassette tapes on my Walkman.

What the heck did people do pre-Walkman?  I mean in comes Sony (heh, heh, Sony) with this revolution that enables you to listen to your very own music without intruding on someone else's silence (and without making you lug around some huge box and a crappy pair of headphones) and it completely changes not only the way people listen to music, but the way people work

I can't really remember a time when I didn't listen to music -- I'm not the sort of person who can work well in total silence.  Even as a kid, I used to do my homework with the radio or TV on in the background.  But that's not the sort of thing you can easily do in an office environment -- especially one where people are encouraged to keep their doors open.

So, really, what did people like me do back then?  Turn on a radio real quiet-like?  Keep the door closed and risk appearing anti-social?  Hope to find a rhythm in the tapping of the keyboard?  Go quietly insane?

Yay for living in the here and now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tech Support

How many tech support guys are working the overnight shift for Sony computers?

Go on, guess.


Lower than that.


I learned this last night, when I finally got through to one of them.  Here's the rough time frame:

9:30 p.m.  Take new laptop out of box.  Plug it in.  Make it work.

10:30 p.m.  New laptop decides to stop with the working.

11:00 p.m.  I run out of ways I know (or guess) to make the laptop work again.  I call Sony Tech Support.

11:01 p.m.  An automated voice has to ask me "a few preliminary questions" so it can figure out where to route my call.

11:05 p.m.  I start getting peeved at the automated voice.  I think Sony expected this to happen, as automated voice seems to understand me better when my voice is tinged with annoyance.

11:10 p.m.  The automated voice tells me my computer is out of warranty.  (Really?  After, like, an hour?  That's one short warranty period.)  It will only let me talk to a live human being if I give it my credit card number and consent to a $20 charge.

11:11 p.m.  The automated voice gets my credit card number wrong.  I repeat it, frustrated.

11:12 p.m.  The automated voice approves my charge, and tells me I am on hold for the next available Tech Support person.

Time passes.  It is marked by small loud bits of classical music, punctuated by a new automated voice giving me annoying tips that Might Just Solve My Problem.  Tips like, if you're not getting anything on the screen, make sure the brightness is turned on. 

11:45 p.m.  It dawns on me that perhaps I should hang up, get some sleep, and deal with this in the morning -- excepting automated voice has charged me $20 and I really want to talk to someone, dammit.

11:55 p.m.  Felix (actual name) finally picks up.  To Sony's credit, they might only have two guys working, but the guys actually know what they're doing.  (Well, at least the 50% of the shift I had contact with.)  Felix understands every word I say, does not think I'm a moron, walks me through some solutions, and laughs at my jokes.  (This is important.  I get a little punchy after midnight.)

12:30 a.m.  Felix runs out of solutions -- all that's left is the big one:  Restoring the whole system to factory defaults.  Given that I only played with the computer for an hour, it isn't like I was going to lose a whole lot of data here.  But the bit I had not known is exactly how long this process takes.  About an hour.  Felix and I say our tearful farewells while the computer starts recreating its system.  He promises that if it doesn't work, I can call right back and he'll tell me how to ship the damn thing back to Sony for service.

1:20 a.m.  While the system is restoring, I take a quick peek and notice the thing that wasn't working still isn't working.  I also notice the system restore has frozen.  I call Felix again.

1:21 a.m.  Well, no.  I call automated voice again.  Yelling "Give me Felix, dammit" has no effect on it, but I did give it my "event number" -- which put me straight on through ... to the classical music and silly help tips holding area.

1:45 a.m.  Felix returns!  Has me reboot the computer to restart the system restore and then says he'll transfer me to the "higher" tech support who will inform me of the whole Return-for-Service thing.

1:46 a.m.  I'm on freakin' hold again.  I cannot believe this.  I know I should be in bed, asleep, but I forgot to ask Felix for the phone number of the person I'm now on hold for, so if I want to follow this problem through to the end point, I just have to stay awake.

1:55 a.m.  She picks up!  My conversation with the new woman (Barbara) is marked by long periods of silence, during which (I imagine) Barbara is reading my file.  She confirms with me everything Felix had me do, and then goes silent for another few minutes.  (By now my system has finally finished restoring and I can confirm, yet again, that the damn thing is well and truly broken.)  Barbara talks with me about my repair and replacement options -- and since I'm too tired to make an actual decision, I have her just mail me everything and I'll deal with it later.  Much later.

So long, new computer.

Time operational:  One hour.

Time attempting to fix:  Three and one-half hours.

Not exactly a ratio to be proud of.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Crazy Friday

Man, Friday was one of those days you just know you're going to remember

OK... the "amazingly silly" thing I'd been asking you all to think happy thoughts about is ... I'd applied for a reality TV show. 

I know.

And what was even more remarkable is they called me back, and I got as far as the videotaped interview in the casting director's office.  I never really expected I'd get that far, so this was pretty dang cool.  I did, however, blow the interview.  (Ironically, I blew it in a way totally different than I'd expected.  I had been worried that I'd mess up and be all nervous from being on camera or that I'd totally botch certain questions I expected them to ask -- and all of that went well and I ended up botching other questions, the easy questions.  Ugh.)

In any event, although I would be astonishingly surprised if I made it any further in the casting process, I did sign a document promising to keep the whole thing all secret and stuff, so I'm going to be a good little girl and not talk about it any further (at the very least, not until such time as the show airs without me).  But the whole thing was funny and silly and I had a friend there with me for moral support -- which was great because when do something as ridiculous as apply for a reality TV show, you want a friend there who will be able to look back on it and giggle and say, "Dude, remember when you went on that interview....?"

And when I finished the interview, I ran home, threw some clothes into a suitcase (forgetting to bring a razor for the second trip in as many months -- ARGH!) and ran to the airport, where I caught up with my parents in time for our flight to San Francisco for the weekend.  And they said, "You won't believe the morning we had." 

And I got to say, "Oh?  Did yours involve an interview for a reality TV show?"

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Back to Reality -- Noooo!

I have every intention to come back to reality after my splendid birthday weekend.  I'm just not ready to do that just yet.

So, a quick post thanking you for the birthday wishes...

...and answering Sandy's question about what were those songs I picked.

"Invisible Touch" is the title track on Genesis's 1986 release (you guessed it) "Invisible Touch."  You can hear a sample of the song at this page over on amazon.

"She's Not There" is rather harder to find a free sample of.  (I can't find a free sample on amazon or iTunes).  The Zombies had a hit with it sometime in the 1960s, I'd imagine.  You can find the lyrics here.

Off to enjoy another hour or so of weekend.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday dear me-e. Happy birthday to me. I shall now spend the day in grand style--seeing a favorite play, meeting with friends, dinner with family. See y'all later.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Homework -- Sounds of Summer

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #11: Tell us what you think is the perfect Summer Song. And you know what a "summer song" is, of course: The song that seems to promise sunny fun from the first chords to the final drumbeat, the ones that are just made to be played in a convertable as you're cruising your way to that beach party.

Extra Credit: Tell us what you think is the best song for the last day of summer. I imagine this could be anything: A big "last blast" party song, a meditative love song about changing seasons, or anything in between.

Hard question.  I'm all about showtunes, but the only summer-type showtune that leaps to mind is "Summer Lovin'" from Grease, and I am so not going there.

The perfect summer song for me isn't even a summer song.  It's "Invisible Touch" by Genesis.  Weird choice, I know, but I always associate it with summer.  For some reason, it seemed to always be playing whenever I'd get in the car one (late 80s) summer, and now, everytime I hear it, I crank it up full-blast and feel all summery.

And, for the extra credit, the end of summer song is "She's Not There" -- but (in my twisted showtuney way), not the version by the Zombies, but a cover version in the cast recording of Return to the Forbidden Planet.  Return to the Forbidden Planet was a musical all about taking classic rock songs, playing them live onstage by a kickass cover band and, um... throwing in a goofy science fiction plot with lots of Shakespeare jokes.  (You had to be there.  I realize this.)  ANYWAY, they did this cover of "She's Not There" that rocked like you wouldn't believe -- replacing the (now rather sedate) keyboard solo with a lengthy guitar solo that wailed.  The song rocks and parties in a last blast sense, and the lyric is (in its way) about loss.  It's perfect to crank up as summer fades away.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


My thanks for the happy thoughts.

What is it they say at the Haunted Mansion?  "The spirits have felt your sympathetic vibrations and have decided to materialize."  Something like that.  Step one has been successfully accomplished.  (Yay!)

Continued attempts to make the amazingly silly thing happen will take place soon.  All further silly, happy thoughts gratefully appreciated.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Movie for Me and I Almost Missed It

Have you seen the ads for the movie "King Arthur"?  They caught my eye because of what was missing from them.  Namely, that title card that tells you who is in it.  I mean, forget the voice over that says "Starring Academy Award Winner [whoever] as Arthur," this thing doesn't even tell you the players in a 5 second text-filled card on the screen.

And I thought, "Wow, there must be some set of nobodies in this picture to not even warrant a title card."  So the other day, I notice the Keira Knightley is on Leno, and I say to myself, "Wonder what she's plugging," and it turns out she's playing Guinevere, and I'm all, "Well, that's not so bad."  I decide to pull up the Internet Movie Database entry on the film and it is at this point I nearly fall off the couch.

Merlin is played by Stephen Dillane. 

Now, regular readers of this journal might have a vague recollection of that name.  He's a British stage actor who I would unreservedly see in anything he happens to be doing, just because he's so freakin' good.  (I mentioned him a journal entry way back in March, when I conveniently found a DVD of an old mini-series I'd enjoyed way back before I even knew he starred in it.)

So, OK, I'm all over this movie.  Then I read down a little more.

Lancelot is played by Ioan Gruffudd.

Gruffudd is a fellow who intrigues me (and not only because he's actually attempting a career in Hollywood without changing his name to something a little less Welsh -- a fairly bold move).  I like him as an actor (he won me -- and a great may others -- over with the series of "Horatio Hornblower" movies on A&E).  But, even more than that, I've been fascinated by the way he's being marketed.  He was the Sympathetic Hero Lawyer in the short-lived (and eminently mockable) show "Century City" -- and you could tell it was one of those roles where his character always did the thing most geared to make a female viewing audience fall in love with him.  Like Gruffudd is going out of his way to take the sort of "leading man" parts that will someday land him in the running for People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue.  So he'll be playing Lancelot.  (Figures.)  I'm curious enough to go.

Point is:  The actors in this movie aren't complete unknowns -- and their presence in it will likely make me see the dang thing, whereas otherwise I would have let it pass.  I think the people who made this picture are damn lucky the Internet Movie Database is out there so that the few people who might actually be interested in the casting of the picture can actually find out who is in it.  Because otherwise, I never would have known.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Pass the Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans

And here I was, thinking that I hadn't posted one of those "charming stories from my past" entries in quite a while, and John Scalzi posts his invitation to a 24-hour blog-a-thon for charity.

Which I think is a splendid idea -- although, for me, personally, I think I'd do better if I can tag-team it with some other bloggers.  I'd be happy to take the 11 pm to 3 am shift, but don't think I should put my body through an actual all-nighter again.

I was going to say that I've never pulled an all-nighter -- I think it is fairly remarkable that I graduated college and law school without ever doing so -- but the fact is, there was one time when I stayed up all night.

I do not remember the year -- but I do remember the date:  December 30th.

I was invited by a friend to accompany her church group decorating a float for the Rose Parade.

(The finishing touches on decorating are done the night of the 30th, so the floats will be ready for judging on the 31st.)

We worked on a float that celebrated Sesame Street.  I remember the float vividly.  When I first got there, they were unsure of my float decorating skills, so had me working on a part of the float that wouldn't be particularly visible.  I was assigned the task of gluing lentils on what would be a giant-sized pencil holder.  After I proved my lentil-gluing abilities, I graduated to carnation petals.  (The name of the corporate sponsor was to appear on the back of the float in white letters -- hence, carnation petals.)  We worked in an assembly line -- someone tore petals off carnations and lay them out in a cardboard tray, someone else (me!) put a drop of glue on each carnation petal, and a third person attached each petal to the frame of the float.

From there, I got to try my hand at everything -- including something to do with getting feathers on Big Bird, for which I had to climb some scaffolding.  I learned that night that I'm not too good with heights.  No, scratch that.  I'm not too good with unsteady heights.

As the night wore on, I decided that staying off the scaffolding was a really good idea.  This because lack of sleep was causing everyone to make stupid mistakes, and I'd rather not be the victim of a stupid mistake while on a plank of wood twenty feet up.  But we were all getting a little punchy -- I have a vague recollection of very carefully gluing a few hundred clover someplace that lilies should have been.  (Oops.)

They saved the very best part -- the pools of roses that cover the bottom of the float -- for last.  Of course, by now, everyone has been working all night and nobody is really capable of intelligent thought.  You're on auto-pilot, and when the team captain says that you should make a cascading stream of roses over your part of the float, you just sort of nod stupidly as though the word "cascading" means something to you.

I got home the next morning sometime in the afternoon.

(You know, that sentence is just a perfect illustration of how well I was thinking.  And that's the product of five whole hours of sleep last night.)

Anyway, I got home sometime the next afternoon.  My mom made me breakfast, and I rolled into bed.

Woke up extremely late on January 1st.  Had totally missed the parade.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Now how much would you pay?

I was a little surprised by some of the answers to Scalzi's Weekend Homework question.  In the sense that -- even conceding that I live in one of the pricier cost-of-living states in this fine union of ours -- I came away with the distinct impression that many of my fellow journallers don't have a really solid concept of what a million bucks can and cannot buy.

I don't mean to single anyone out, it's just an overall feeling. 

I mean, let's look at what this money can actually buy.

Lots of people want to send their kids to college.  A totally admirable thing.  D'you know what tuition at an Ivy League school runs these days?  $30,000 per year.  Call it $40,000 if you want the kid to have a roof over their head and eat regular meals.  Send a kid to an Ivy League school for four years and whammo! you're down $160,000.  And what if they want to continue their education and go for an advanced degree?  Face it, if you're talking about the top schools in the country (and don't you want the best for your kids?) sending just one child to college and grad school could eat up more than one-fourth of your million.  (Too bad you've got that million.  Otherwise, your kids might have been eligible for financial aid.)  Two kids and you might as well set $500,000 aside right off the top.

(Yes, yes, I know -- you'll put the money away now so it earns interest so that by the time your children go to college, you'll have a bigger pile of money.  But by the time they go to college, the tuition prices will have gone up, too.  Let's just keep this all in today's dollars for the sake of simplicity, ok?)

Lots of people want to buy the proverbial house on the beach.  Well, I had a little trouble searching the 'net for beachfront real estate listings specifically, but here's a couple...  Looks like if you want beachfront for your million, you're talking about a condo, not a house (at least in California) -- and it will wipe out your million (and then some) in no time flat.  If you want a house, sheesh, forget it.

(Yes, I know -- you don't need to pay for the whole thing now, just a downpayment.  And, sure, that's true.  But where are you going to come up with the money to make those massive mortgage payments on a monthly basis?  You sure can't quit your job and become a surfer-bum.  You'd have to work extra hard just to support your house.)

Things seem to be looking up if you want property in Hawaii.  On this guy's site (you have to do the search yourself, I can't get links to individual results), you can actually scare up an oceanfront house for $260,000, although it is on the rather low end of the market.  On the other hand, click on his "featured homes" link and you'll see that most of the properties are well over $1,000,000.  Those with particularly killer views exceed $3,000,000.

What else was on everyone's list?  Travel.  And, yeah, now you're talking about something you can do with an awful lot less than a million.  But it still ain't cheap.  A random search for around-the-world cruises yielded this rather nifty number on Radisson.  This pricing guide shows you can put you and your significant other on the ship for just under $100,000.  Of course, that's in the absolute cheapest room and with the "early booking discount."  Super first class all the way can set you back over $200,000.  Each.  So, yeah, you can definitely afford to splurge on some travel if you find a spare mill in your pocket.  Just be sure to spend conservatively.

Even charity ain't as cheap as you might think.  When trying to find out how many kitties and puppies could get spayed and neutered with $1,000,000, I came across this shelter where you can underwrite the cost of a cat for a year for $500, or a dog for $1000.  That's right, your million can buy you 1000 dog years  With a 12.8 year average lifespan (says this site) it means that your million dollars could safely shelter 78 dogs for their entire lives.  In the alternative, they've got a plan where $5000 is the cost of taking care of an animal for life -- in which case your $1,000,000 can shelter 200 dogs and cats.  That's it, people.  Your million can't build and staff a no-kill shelter -- it can just buy enough cage time to save 200 animals.

Depressing, innit?

And about that cable box

So, I run home to get back before the cable guy arrives at 6:00.  Because, y'know, he said he was going to come and swap out the defective box.

I drive up at 5:45.  There's two cable guys there -- neither being the same guy who was here yesterday and promised to come back.

The other thing I notice about these cable guys is they do not seem to be carrying a new box.

To make a long story less long, here is what I learned:
- The guy who was here yesterday promised to come back today -- although today is his day off.
- So he told someone else to come, and rather than say "at 6:00," he said "after 5:00."
- There was, in fact, nothing wrong with the box he left; it was just programmed wrong.
- Something that his supervisor -- who had been waiting outside my door for 45 minutes -- figured out in under 10.

On the plus side, I have a nicely functioning cable box.  I'm going to the gym.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Think Happy Thoughts

And in completely unrelated news, I'm sort of hoping something amazingly silly will come to pass.  It isn't the sort of thing I'd ask for prayers for, but if you would be so kind as to think appropriately silly, happy thoughts in my direction.

Just, I don't know, clap your hands and say "I do believe in fairies" or something along those lines.



Does Nothing Work?

And now, a short summary of the past few weeks...

I.  Want room painted and crown molding hung.  Need this done before shutter is installed.

     A.  Buy molding.  Get 8 foot lengths 'cause nothing smaller will fit in my car.

     B.  Call painters.  Can't find one with availability before shutter comes.

     C.  Finally find a service.  They say they'll send someone who can paint and hang the molding.

     D.  The day before the service guy is supposed to come, the service calls and cancels because he is busy on another job.  They try to reschedule after the shutter comes.

     E.  I scream bloody murder and they send someone the next day.

          1.  Who can paint.  But not hang crown molding.

          2.  He does the painting.  He charges me extra to paint the molding so it will be all ready for someone else to hang it.

          3.  He recommends a friend to do the molding.  I say I'll hire the friend.

          4.  Days pass.  The guy doesn't return my calls.  The friend is nowhere to be found.

II.  The shutter comes.

III.  I call the service to get someone to hang the crown molding.  I beg for a freakin' carpenter.

     A.  Service sends someone who they claim has crown molding experience.

          1.  This is a lie.

               a.  Of epic proportions.

                     i.  Seriously.  The man doesn't realize crown molding goes at an angle between the ceiling and the wall.  He thinks he's hanging trim.

          2.  I email the service with a lengthy complaint.  They promise to send a supervisor.

               a.  Well, actually, this is after I call them a couple times, because far be it from anyone to actually take the initiative and call back a complaining customer.

               b.  And, of course, this is also after they try to cancel the appointment on me, because the original thought-he-knew-how-to-hang-crown-molding guy was having car trouble, and couldn't come.  I had to get a special dispensation to have the supervisor come by himself.  Felt like I was asking the Pope for permission to divorce or something.

         3.  Amazingly, the supervisor comes!  He takes over the job.

         4.  The supervisor and the original guy hang the molding.

              a.  Oh hey, have I mentioned that they would have provided materials at no mark-up?  Honest.  If I'd had them buy the molding, they would've given me the receipt for reimbursement and that's it.  And I could've had lengths longer than 8 ft -- so I wouldn't have had all those visible joins around my ceiling.

         5.  The not-entirely-competent guy has to come back to repaint the molding.  (Yes, the same molding I already paid to have the first guy paint.  The supervisor tries to charge me extra to have it painted again, until I point out that it was his employee who told me it should be painted first and charged me accordingly.)

               a.  He gets the date of the appointment wrong.  I wait around and he doesn't show.

               b.  He finally does show.  And paints the molding.  And touches up the walls they scratched up while installing the molding.

                    i.  Like this one place, where there was a gash in my doorframe from where they whacked it with a strip of the molding -- they needed to repaint that with the glossy enamel paint I'd already put on there.  The guy proudly reports to me that, rather than go down to his truck to get a second paintbrush for the enamel, he just improvised something with a cigarette butt.  I was supposed to be impressed by this.

                        a)  Of course, now it's just a big gash with a thin coat of white over it.  Not like he repaired the gash or anything.

                   ii.  And of course, he got molding-colored paint on my ceiling, and I don't have any ceiling touch-up paint.

                  iii.  And there were some nail holes that he just painted over, rather than filling and sanding down -- so as soon as he left and the paint dried, they became visible again.

IV.  And today, the cable guy was supposed to come between 3:00 and 5:00 to install my new cable box.

     A.  I have to leave Father's Day brunch early in order to make it home on time.  I screech into the driveway at 2:59.

     B.  He shows up just after 5:00.

     C.  Sets up the cable box.

     D.  Tests the cable box.  It doesn't work.

     E.  He calls in.  They can't make it work either.

     F.  He doesn't have a spare in the truck.  They only gave him one box.  Can he come back sometime this week and swap it out?

         1.  Sure.  How bout tomorrow after 6:00?

              a.  Wasn't I supposed to go to the gym tomorrow night?

                    i.  I mean, I haven't been to the gym in at least 3 weeks, what with all the workers coming and missing appointments and all.

                    ii.  And I really need to go to the gym, too.  There were Belgian Waffles at the brunch today.

                        a)  with strawberry sauce

                        b)  and whipped cream

                        c)  .... where was I?

          2.  Yes, right, come back tomorrow after 6:00 and swap out the box.

          3.  "I'll just come back tomorrow and swap the box -- we won't go through the cable company."

               a.  Well, OK.

          4.  "Here, just sign this form."

               a.  Just sign WHAT?  "The form.  Saying I'm leaving the box."

               b.  But you're leaving me a crappy box that doesn't work.  I don't want to accept delivery of that.  I mean, not your fault and all, but I'm not signing off on a job well done when the box blows and all I have is your word that you're coming back.

                    i.  Err, don't get me wrong.  I'm sure you're a nice guy who will actually come back with a new box.  But you don't know the month I've been having.

                          a)  "If you don't sign the form, I can't leave the box."

                                i)  I think:  Not a really impressive box to begin with, but he did already plug it in, and it is minimally functional.

                               ii)  He starts writing all over the form in block caps:  MUST RETURN TOMORROW TO REPLACE BOX.  BOX DON'T WORK.

                                    Now THAT I can sign.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Bring on the Cash

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #10: Congratulations! You've been given one million dollars. What would you do with it? But wait! There's more -- seems you've been given two million dollars. Would you do anything different with the second million than you would with the first?

For the purposes of this assignment, assume that you've got two million after taxes -- so you don't have to worry about Uncle Sam and your state and local governments dipping into your pot of cash. Also, you've got it all at once -- no installment plans.

(Extra Credit: If you had two million not to keep but to donate to a charity, which charity and why?)

Isn't it a shame that a million bucks isn't a big enough figure to make you ponder quitting your job and livin' large for the rest of your time on the planet?  I mean, used to be a time when "a million bucks" was the stuff "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" was made of.  Now, even without doing all the interest rate/inflation rate math, I can safely say that a million dollars would not be enough to sustain me in the style to which I have become accustomed (as they say) for the next 30-some-odd years.

You have to realize here that I have no kids or other obligations beyond keeping the cat in kibble, so I'm basically looking at life as a zero-sum game.  You know, where there's just enough money in your bank account at your death to pay off the funeral home.  You also have to realize that I am, basically -- knock wood -- incredibly happy with the way I live, to the point where I'm not actively looking to be kicking things up a few more notches.  So, really, quitting work and keeping life going at pretty much the same standard would be the Really Big (financial) Dream.  And a million bucks isn't enough to cover that.

But two million might be.  Two million (assuming it is plopped into an annuity or wisely invested) would probably be just about enough to let me stop working without any drop in my standard of living.  So if I was given two million, I'd quit my job, continue living life pretty much as I always have been, except I would instead fill my days and nights with:  (a) teaching algebra, (b) seeing and reviewing plays, and (c) being an amateur Sherlockian (see below) -- all of which are pursuits I'd very much like to spend my time doing, but they don't pay enough.

If I had a million, on the other hand, I wouldn't change anything.  I'd put half of it away, on the theory that $500,000 in the bank now would enable me to retire a good ten or so years earlier twenty years from now -- which would certainly be worth it.  As for the rest, I'd look at it as $25,000 per year in mad money.  An extra $25,000 this year could remodel the bathroom.  Next year it could buy a really nice new sofa and that cruise to Alaska.  The year after that, it might go to paying down my mortgage.  It'd just be a nice pile of money to play with, however I want, each year until retirement.

Extra credit:  Two million to charity.  I consider myself a "theatre person" and therefore make most of my (current) charitable contributions to what I consider the standard "theatre person's charity" -- Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  But two million dollars is the sort of amount that could make a huge difference to a lot of smaller charitable organizations, and I would seriously consider chopping the amount up into 20 $100,000 grants to smaller organizations where I would see immediate results from my contributions.  Like $100,000 worth of books donated to local schools; $100,000 in clothing and school supplies for a local group home for abused and neglected kids; and $100,000 to the local humane society.  I wouldn't so much be interested in making contributions to fund research, change laws, or build buildings -- I'd want to use the money to directly impact lives.  In that respect, I'd aim toward organizations that support literarcy, education, children, pets and the arts.

I've thought too much about this, haven't I?


Friday, June 18, 2004


Things were delayed (yet again) -- the handyman thought our appointment was for Thursday, not Wednesday.  But he finally came today, and the bedroom is finished!

To review:  Observe the purple walls, ugly beige carpet, and uglier beige blinds.




And now:  spiffy minty walls, lush green carpet, brand new shutter, and crown molding!




Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

I had to laugh when I saw that "Saturday Six" question that asked how many nearly-empty bottles of shampoo you have.

Um, a lot?

I generally save them when there's about a quarter inch of product left in the bottle (enough for what?  maybe one or two shampoos) and then use them to fill up travel shampoo and conditioner bottles.

The problem is:  I keep changing products.  I used the use the Neutrogena Clean line (yellow).  Then I started alternating with the Neurtrogena Moisturizing line (pink).  And it would always be that whenever I'd be all set to top off my travel bottle of conditioner, I'd have a travel bottle half full of pink and three full-size bottles of yellow with a quarter-inch left in each one.

THEN, I got my hair highlighted, so ran right out and bought Neutrogena for Colored hair (blue).

Before I finished those bottles, I was introduced to a line of products especially for curly hair (Ouidad), so I bought them.  And I've used two different shampoos from Ouidad and, of course, kept the leftovers.

Leaving me with a final under-the-sink tally of the dregs of:

5 Neutrogena yellow shampoos
2 Neutrogena pink shampoos
1 Neutrogena blue shampoo
1 Neutrogena blue conditioner
6 Neutrogena pink conditioners
2 Ouidad shampoos
2 Ouidad conditioners
and an old bottle of Head & Shoulders

Help me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Round One -- Cat. Round Two -- Me. Round Three?

So, you might be wondering, what happened after I let Jasmine in the bedroom at night this weekend?

First, a quick review.  This was not actually the first time I let Jasmine in while I slept.  When the painter was painting the bedroom, Jas and I were locked in the guest bedroom/bathroom combination.  And she was wonderful.  Let me sleep (two nights!) and didn't cause any trouble. 

Fast forward to Friday.  She'd been digging in her heels about being locked out lately, so I thought I'd try letting her in on Friday night.  Mistake.  She played.  She pounced.  She thought the whole night was a big game of "Jump On Whatever Is Moving Under The Covers."  Which is fine, unless it's YOU.  I finally locked her out around 5:00 a.m. because I needed some sleep and she didn't seem to care much for my company if I wasn't going to play anyway.

Locked her out as usual on Sunday and Monday.

Locked her out last night.

2:00 a.m. Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow. 

I ignore her.  I hush her.  I yell the phrase I used to yell when she was a kitten ("Whiny kitties get no loving!")  Nothing works.  Eventually, she meows herself out.

3:00 a.m.  Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

Replay of 2:00 a.m.

5:00 a.m.  Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

I figure she wants in.  I open the bedroom door.  (I go to the kitchen to switch to bottled water, first.)  I let her in the bedroom.  For the next 20 minutes, she keeps me awake -- pouncing, meowing, running in and out of the room.  Clearly she wasn't meowing for the joy of my presence.  I lock her out and try to go back to sleep.

5:45 a.m.  Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.


I get out of bed and go to her.  Food bowl's got food.  Water bowl's got water.  Litter box's got litter.  I try hugging her and she wants none of it.  We have now run out of things I can do. 

Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

"Show me."  I command.

She leads me into the bathroom.  I follow.

She jumps on the counter.  She looks in the mirror, where she sees the "other cat."  She stands up and starts swatting at it.

Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

I pick her up, and hold her so she's facing me.  I put her little furry face close to mine and say, with all the human-to-feline communication ability I can muster, "It's you, ya moron!"

I put her down, go back to the bedroom, and close the door.  I try to sleep while she continues to alert me to the danger of her own reflection.

Think happy thoughts for me for tonight.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Because the Theatre Stuff Isn't Geeky Enough...

Ah, Anna posted a comment below which I paraphrase to mean, "What the heck is a Sherlockian?"

The first thing I'll say is that Sherlockians can't even agree on the definition of what a Sherlockian IS -- although anyone who wants to describe themself as one probably may.  Still, I'll plunge ahead and try to give my definition.

The Sherlock Holmes stories consist of 56 short stories and 4 novellas.  They were written by a chap called Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The bulk of the stories were written in the first person, by a character named Dr. John Watson, and cover his association with a consulting detective named Sherlock Holmes.  With me so far?  Good.

Lots of people read these stories, enjoy them, and go on with their lives, without ever taking the next step.

The next step (generally) involves something Sherlockians call "The Game."  The Game says:  OK, now, between you and me and the men in the little white coats, we all know that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character.  But just for kicks, let's pretend he's not.  Let's pretend he's a perfectly legitimate real live human being (who by now is 150 years old, but don't let that get in the way), whose exploits were written up by his friend and associate, the equally real human being Dr. John Watson.  We'll refer to that Doyle fellow as Watson's "literary agent."

This premise leads to massive (believe me when I say that) amounts of Sherlockian scholarship.  Articles fill journals.  Sherlockian societies gather in person (or on the web) to discuss the stories (aka "the canon") and present papers.

Now, Sherlockian scholarship can focus on all sorts of things -- pretty much anything that sets a Sherlockian off.  Frequently, it can simply be based on a desire to understand something mentioned in one of the stories that might have made perfect sense to Victorian readers, but means little to us know.  (When Watson first meets Holmes in "A Study in Scarlet," he says, "I keep a bull-pup."  Is this a reference to a dog?  Or slang for something else?  Sherlockians will hunt down the meaning of the phrase.)  Other interests can be strictly related to the stories.  There is the classic problem of Watson's war wound.  In "A Study in Scarlet," Watson very clearly states he was wounded in the shoulder, but in another story, his wound has moved to a different location.  Which is it?  Was he shot twice?  Shot someplace else entirely and lying about it?  Sherlockians will try to reason this out (and will argue over it for years).  Some Sherlockians can make entire careers out of figuring out the actual chronology in which the 60 stories took place -- based on references to the date, the season, Watson's marital status, the name of the opera they went to see, and so forth.

And what I find so extremely endearing about the whole endeavor is that, in the back of everyone's mind, is the understanding that all of this is, when you get right down to it, not real.  But to me, what defines a Sherlockian is they're someone who doesn't read all this stuff, throw up their hands and say, "Geez, people!  Doyle just made a mistake on where Watson's wound was" or "Doyle wasn't trying to write a coherent time line -- he just randomly picked the name of some opera and threw it in there."  Despite the fact that a Sherlockian actually knows this to be true, that doesn't stop the inquiry.  And, from where I'm sitting, it is perfectly reasonable and logical that this be so.  Because there is value in the research, in uncovering more about Victorian times, and in the process of scholarship itself.

For my own part, I'm a lurker on a Sherlockian mailing list.  I used to post regularly, but now I barely have time to even read it.  But I know that whenever I open my mail, I will learn something extremely fascinating about Victorian times, or some interesting quirk of the canon, that I didn't even know I didn't know.

(Provisional) Happy Dance!

The crown molding is up!  The crown molding is up!

Now we do the dance of joy.

Actually, it is simply the provisional dance of joy (or the dance of provisional joy?) because, although the molding is up, the job is not yet done.  But we're definitely in the home stretch.  Wednesday night, the workman is coming back to:  patch the little nail holes, repaint the molding, touch up all the chips in my walls, and generally clean up. 

And THEN (and only then) will I be in a position to offer the long-awaited "after" pictures.

But I am still extremely happy that the molding is up and (in a very general sense) looking quite spiffy.





Sunday, June 13, 2004

What Would Sherlock Do?

I have, in the past, made brief reference to my side-hobby of being a Sherlockian.  Truth is, I haven't really got the time for it now, but I have every intention of being a devoted Sherlockian when I retire.  For now, I just sit on the sidelines, have an occasional re-read of a favorite story, and (when I have a few minutes to spare) read what the real Sherlockians are up to.

One of the things Sherlockians frequently do is put together a poll along the lines of, "What is the best thing you've learned from Sherlock Holmes?"  And most of the answers are fairly standard things along the lines of "eliminating the impossible" and various other methods.  The polls always seem to omit the one lesson of Holmes's that I return to frequently -- what I like to call the Sherlock Holmes Rule of Stress Management.

Picture Holmes, in the middle of a difficult case.  He ponders, he reasons, he reaches a tentative conclusion.  He sends off a telegram that will either confirm or destroy his theory.  He then ... goes to the opera.  Or has a nice leisurely meal.

That's right.  The man don't stress.  Once he has gone as far as he can go with the information at hand, he just sets things aside and enjoys life ... until such time as new information has made itself available and he can return full concentration to the case.

I come back to this idea frequently, as it is a principle I have not yet mastered.  For example, once I sent off the letter of complaint to the crown molding people, I tried mightily to get it out of my head and enjoy my vacation -- but the damn thing kept creeping back to the outskirts of conscious thought at the most inopportune times.  So, I would just picture Holmes at the opera, and try to lock the problem away until it was time to concentrate on it again. 

I think he is rather better at it than I am.  Then again, it could have something to do with him being, y'know :::looks around hurriedly, lowers voice to whisper::: fictional.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Jasmine's Entry

That's me.  In all my lazing-in-the-sun glory.  Aren't I a cutie-pie?  That's what NZ says, anyway.  She says I'm the cutiest pie there is.  She also says I'm the bestest kitten witten on earth and she wuvs me very much.

Boy, when I get me a human, I get her good.

Actually, we're in the middle of a Heated Battle right now.  The territory in question is her bedroom.  When NZ first got me and I was going through my Crazy Kitten phase, she decided to keep me out of the bedroom at night when she slept.  (I think she just needed a little alone time, and I respected it.  More or less.)  ANYWAY, now she keeps me out of there at night because she likes keeping a glass of water on the nightstand when she sleeps, and sometimes I'm not always accurate in judging braking distances when I'm jumping on that particular nightstand.  She has a point.

But I don't like it.

She's been away a lot lately, and I miss her.  I'm not particularly big on displays of feline affection (I don't want to sleep in the bed WITH her or anything), but I just want to be in the same room.  Y'know, to assure myself she's there.  (I'm big enough to admit I might still have some abandonment issues.  Like someone tearing you away from your mom and putting you in a box outside the front of the grocery store and making you just sit there while all sorts of people run off with your brothers and sisters wouldn't mess with your head.)

So.  I want her to leave the bedroom door open when she goes to sleep.  I have decided the best way to accomplish this is to be on the inside of the door when she goes to bed.  Ideally under the bed, so I can't be scooped up and put outside the door.

Now, normally I sit under the bed while NZ gets ready for bed, and when NZ goes to the kitchen (to get her water), I scamper on out like a good little girl, and then she shuts the door behind me.  If I don't make with the scampering of my own, she'll take one of my cat toys, waveit around to get my attention, and then throw it out the door.  I give chase, and she shuts the door behind me.

No more of that this week.  She walks out the door -- I stay.  She gets a shiny cat toy -- I stay.  She waves the cat toy in front of me -- I feign disinterest.  She waves it really, really frantically -- I lazily claw at the underside of the box spring.  She calls my name and waggles her fingers in my direction -- I stare at her with my best "not going anywhere" face.

Now, at this point last night, things kinda deteriorated.  It was 2:00 a.m. and she was really tired and frustrated and couldn't decide whether the plead with me or get angry.  I had mercy on her and chased the shiny thing out the door.

But things are gonna be different tonight.  There's no reason to keep me out of the bedroom now.  I saw what she bought today -- water in BOTTLES!  Ha! 

I win!  I win!  I win!


For those who can't get enough of crown molding

Quick update on the crown molding saga:

The supervisor just came out, and gratified me by taking one look at the molding, laughing, and making that grunt that is the univerally-acknowledged symbol for "what the heck was he thinking?"  He also took pictures, in order to document the mess the other guy made.

He'll be coming back on Monday and hanging the molding himself.  (The other guy will assist.  And, perhaps, learn how to do the job.)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Thing I Never Thought I'd Say

I'm thinkin' maybe I'll stop reading the Harry Potter books and just wait for the movies.

Heresy, I know, especially coming from me.  I mean, I'm generally one of them "the movie can't be as good as the book" people.

But here's the thing.  Just saw the movie of Prisoner of Azkaban -- which had been my favorite of the Harry Potter books.  And I thought it was a good movie, don't get me wrong.  But I didn't think it was a particularly enjoyable one.  And this because I think that what was really good about the film was how it unfolded the mysteries of the story -- how nicely it played up the suspense and the ultimate disclosures and resolutions.  The thing is, I appreciated how the movie was doing all this stuff, but it wasn't really doing anything for me because I remember the disclosures and resolutions from reading the book.  So while I watched all that nice suspense being expertly portrayed, I wasn't really on the edge of my seat.

Fact is, for all the talk about how this movie departed from the text of the novel, it was pretty darned faithful to my recollection of the main plot points.  Faithful enough that there were no surprises, even when there had to be if I was going to digthe movie.

Now, weigh into this my massive disappointment at the fifth book.  Damn thing took forever to read and I was ultimately unsatisfied by it.  Especially the big scene where ... all sorts of important stuff happened.  It was hard to follow and I got the distinct impression it had been written with the idea of the eventual movie in mind -- the writing seemed to be paying more attention to what it would look like than how it would read.

So, to sum up:  I think the movies would be more fun if I stopped reading the books.  And I think Rowling's writing has definitely taken a downhill turn, as now it seems like she's focussing more on the visual elements of the story than writing something that will actually be a good read.

Not a total loss, though.  I saw a preview for "A Series of Unfortunate Events," and my first thought was:  I so have to read that before the movie comes out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Crown Molding

Yeah, OK, I promised I wouldn't give you the details of the crown molding fiasco while the people responsible are still trying to fix it.  And I have been promised the visit of a supervisor sometime this week.

They're having a little trouble with scheduling, because they need me, the supervisor, and the handyman all ready to be in my bedroom at the same time.  I suggested that it really wasn't necessary for the handyman to be there.  The manager responded he was absolutely necessary, as the supervisor would then have to direct him on the steps he has to take to do the job. 

I suggested that this wasn't necessary as all that we really needed was for the supervisor to look at my wall  -- he'd know the handyman is in way over his head, and could then send me someone who can actually do the job.  I mean, he didn't just overlook a step -- this guy doesn't know the first thing about hanging crown molding. 

And I say that meaning no disrespect to the guy.  He's a nice guy and a hard worker who is trying really hard to do the job -- and he ultimately figured out that he didn't have the right tools (which is clearly a step in the right direction).  He just doesn't know how to hang crown molding -- and, what's slightly dangerous -- he doesn't know that he doesn't know it.

In preparation for the arrival of the supervisor, I made up a short list of everything wrong with the molding currently on my wall.  I then ran a quick google search on "crown molding installation" and -- although the results were written at a higher level of carpentry than I could understand -- I did pick up even more ammo for the meeting with the supervisor.  Apparently, there's rather more to it than "measure twice; cut once."

I gotta link you to this page, which, if anything, is the answer to kids who ask why they need to study trigonometry if they're just gonna work with their hands.  Dudes, I was a math major and my eyes are glazing over at this.

... well, when my eyelid isn't twitching, anyway.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

The Tony Awards

Yeah, OK, I'm gonna get all Theatre-Geeky on you for an entry.  It happens.  Bear with me (or just skip the entry and come back tomorrow, when I'm sure I'll be whining about home improvement again).

I'm going to skip right past the bit where I complain about the really small percentage of people who actually watched the Tony Awards (and, really, more people should -- I mean, yeah, sure, you probably don't give a hoot about who wins awards for shows you haven't seen -- but the Tonys are an advance preview of shows that may be Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You, and it's always nice to get a free look so you know what you might want to see).

But what I want to talk about here is the difference between Tony voters and Oscar voters -- and how these differences are things to keep in mind when attempting to predict awards.

I think that, in addition to actual quality (which I'm sure is something of a factor), the two principles that govern who is going to win an Oscar are:  The Academy pays its debts and The Academy loves a landslide.

Both of the principles were on display this year.  Let's face it, Return of the King wasn't outrageously better directed than the first two Lord of the Rings movies (in fact, one might say it was the weakest of the three -- given that the battle sequences looked particularly computer generated, and the ending did tend to go on rather longer than it should).  But the point was, Peter Jackson was damn well owed a Best Director Oscar, and unless Return of the King stunk up the screen (which it didn't), Oscar voters were going to give it to him.  And, it ended up winning 11 awards.  Eleven!  Now, there certainly isn't always a sweep, but the Oscars seem to like them -- when they can legitimately give a huge pile of awards to a movie, they do that.  Seems like they think it's good for the movie business to have a big honkin' winner to get excited about.

Now, the Tonys work on a rather different principle.  Sure, there's that quality thing again, but in addition, we have the principle that Tony voters (at least in recent years) like to spread the awards around.  Take a look at this year -- there were four shows nominated for Best Musical.  The Boy From Oz took Best Actor; Caroline or Change took Best Supporting Actress; Wicked took Best Actress; and Avenue Q took Best Score and Book and (in a huge upset) Best Musical.  But nobody went home empty-handed.  And, in recent years, there has been an unusual history of one show winning Best Score & Book and another winning Best Musical (a split that, at first glance, seems contradictory).  But Urinetown and Thoroughly Modern Millie did it in 2002; Parade and Fosse did it in 1999; Ragtime and Lion King did it in 1998; and there were three separate winners for these three awards in 2000. 

The aberration, of course, was 2001, when the Tonys went against form and gave a sweep to The Producers.  A result which, at least from my point of view, made for an extremely dull Tony telecast (you could see the sweep coming as soon as The Producers won one of the early awards it had serious competition for).  In retrospect, it seems like the result was also bad for business -- the shows that went home empty-handed had a harder time staying open on Broadway and publicizing themselves on tour; and The Producers ended up with a "best thing that's ever been" reputation that it had trouble living up to.

I think Broadway is realizing that it is something of a niche market, so getting people interested in any show is ultimately good for business -- after all, it might lead to more people becoming theatre fans.  Which might explain the very high percentage of acceptance speeches Sunday night in which the award winner went on about how great everyone else in the category was (something you generally see once or twice on the Oscars, but which was pretty much the theme of the Tonys this year). 

So I think the Tony voters do make a conscious decision to spread things around -- and, moreover, I think they're right to do it.

Awww, Anna misses me.

Anna comments:

>>does anyone know where my NZ is?  i miss her much!!!  hope she returns soon!  i need a jasmine fix!  Where, oh where is NZ???<<  

It's a land mass, to the right of Australia.  Ha ha ha.

But seriously, folks, I flew back home from New York last night, and was (shock!) actually too tired to turn on the computer.  I know.  Amazed myself. 

There's much to report.  On Sunday, I actually took the New York subway all by myself -- a feat that is, as far as I'm concerned, somewhere on a par with bungee jumping.  I mean, the little magazine in the hotel that tells you what to do has a list of safety tips for the subway that include:  wear your necklace inside your shirt; carry your packages in front of you; carry your wallet in your front pocket; if someone jostles you, check your pockets as they've probably been picked; never ride in an empty car; and so forth.  I was very nearly expecting one that said, "take your life into your own hands."  Although, really, it wasn't all that creepy at all.  (Smelly, yes.  Creepy, no.)  And I even got to roll my eyes and smile condescendingly at the tourists who were taking their pictures riding the subway.

I also went to the theatre (on a total lark) and saw "I Am My Own Wife" -- a play I knew absolutely nothing about going in.  It ended up winning two Tony awards that night (Best Actor and Best Play), so I think I had some pretty good luck in that regard.  And it's kinda cool seeing a show a few hours before it wins all sorts of awards.

Travelling home yesterday, it seemed like forces were aligning against me.  When I checked out of the hotel, I realized I didn't quite have enough cash for a taxi, and didn't want to have to run to an ATM while shlepping my suitcase, so ended up negotiating a flat-rate deal (via the hotel doorman) with a Town Car driver who didn't have much business.  Took an uneventful flight home.  Redeemed my car from the parking lot.  Drove home.

Actually, I drove several cities too far south.  I had my mom on the cell phone (hands-free, of course) and was chatting with her, and sorta missed my exit.  I took the nearest available freeway to my destination, but ended up with an unexpected rush hour tour of a few cities I had no need to see.

Got home to discover I couldn't get in my garage because the City was tearing up the street again.  Parked a half block away and walked back.

Got home.  (Finally.)

Opened the door to my unit and Jasmine peeked out to see who it was.  When she saw it was me, she meowed with joy and ran to me (something she's never done before).  I was so happy she was so happy, I dumped everything I was carrying and scooped her up in my arms.  Spent most of last night picking her up and hugging her for no reason at all.  By this morning, I think she was tired of it, but I get me my kitten love whenever I can.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

I love people

Love 'em.  Love watching 'em do things.  Generally things that are normal to them, but just crack me up for no reason at all.

Two of those today.

Walking down the streets of New York at around 11:00 p.m., I see a middle-aged woman trying to hail a cab.  Which is totally unsuccessful, seeing as all the shows have let out, so the cabs around Broadway are all full.  And her husband comes up next to her and says, in that slightly patronizing voice, "Doris, they're not going to stop.  We should walk down another block."  I don't know why that made me smile -- I've been unable to catch a cab myself, and it's no laughing matter.  I think it's that she was named "Doris."  Just seems like a name that lends itself to patronizing husbands.

Other thing that cracked me up was at the matinee -- I saw a musical called "Assassins," which is about all the people who have taken a shot at the President.  So, near the end of the show, there's a scene with Lee Harvey Oswald, in which he is undecided about whether he should kill Kennedy.  It's a pretty intense scene.  I happen to get a glance at the little old lady sitting next to me.  She's got her hands held up to her mouth like she's on the edge of her seat, waiting to see what's going to happen.  I can't help but suppress giggles.  "Um, ma'am," I think, "You know he's going to shoot him, right?  I mean, this can't come as a surprise to you, can it?"

Should probably also point out that, given the subject matter of the play, John Hinckley is a character, and Reagan shows up briefly (when Hinckley is shooting at him).  The Reagan character actually gets a few laughs.  ("I forgot to duck.")  So here's me in the theatre, smiling at some classic Reagan one-liners ... and a few hours later I get to a news source and find out he passed away.  A little creepy, that.


I fear for my phone bill. No, really. When I got my new phone (with nifty keyboard and AOL access), I had no idea whether it would be a quaint little curiosity or if I'd actually use it. Solved THAT one. I woke up late today -- dashing all plans for a stop at the internet cafe followed by a leisurely lunch.
So, now I find myself a block from my 2:00 matinee, chowing down on a surprisingly tasty fast food teriyaki chicken bowl, getting caught up on my journal-reading (thanks to email alerts). Technology rocks.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Anger/Vacation? Tough choice.

To say the hanging of the crown molding on Thursday night was a fiasco is an understatement of the highest order. 

You'll be spared the details -- at least as long as I still hold out a hope that the people involved will actually resolve the difficulty.  If not, I can always make an entry out of the "letter of complaint" I drafted and emailed them this morning at 4:00

Yeah, call me crazy, but I think that when a guy contracts to hang your crown molding, he probably shouldn't spend the next two hours trying to puzzle out how it's done. 

So, even though I had only gone to sleep at 1:00 a.m. and had to wake up to catch a flight this morning at 5:00, I woke up at 4:00 feeling the overwhelming urge to politely request redress of my grievance.  Well, OK, Jasmine was meowing like crazy -- that probably caused me to get up more than the molding.  But once she woke me up and I had a glance at my wall ... UGH.

But, like I said ... nothing about that since we're still hopeful for a resolution.  Although, seriously, if *I'm* the owner of a business and get that sort of email, I'd probably call (or at least write back) during the next business day.  But what do I know?

So.  5:00.  Out of bed.  In shower.  Hug cat.  Drive to airport.  Check bag.  Clear security.  Get on plane.  Sleep.

This last is amazing.  I do not sleep on planes.  Not me.  I can't sleep unless I'm lying down all flat-like.  And certainly not in a crowded tube full of strangers and crying babies, and helpful flight attendants, and an air conditioner running at full blast aimed (apparently) directly at my seat.  No matter.  I was out like trout.  (I understand I missed Starsky & Hutch.  No great loss there, I expect.)

Got to my destination.  (That would be New York.  Because, y'know, they have plays here.)  Got to my hotel (which, by the way, is way nicer than I can usually afford.  Yay Hotwire.)  Felt all tired and ooky (and still peeved that there was no message of apology re: crown molding on my voice mail).  In fact, my eyelid is twitching.  (Remember the other day when I posted about zits being a physical manifestation of my stress?  When I'm really stressed out, my eyelid twitches.  I imagine this might someday make for amusing wedding photos.)  So I decided to start this weekend off right by treating myself to a massage.

Masseuse was really good.  She gets all touchy-feely about "visualizing the tension melting away" -- which I generally don't believe in.  But, hey, I'm all about playing along, so I gave it a shot.  She gave me an encouraging, "Good," and I spent the next five minutes wondering how she knew I was actually visualizing.

Feel nice and loose now, and surprisingly spiritually aligned.  Have no idea what my "chi" is, but I had the oddest feeling she was doing something nice to it.

Probably a good thing the crown molding guy didn't call me back.  Getting all angry again would have ruined a perfectly good centering.

Ah... look at my eyelid stop twitching as I typed that line.  I think I'm on the right track.





Thursday, June 3, 2004

Weekend Homework: This book -- it's so you.

Man.  Thought I'd just whip off a quick little entry for this week's homework assignment, and then Scalzi comes up with this doozy:

Name the book that you feel would best describe you to a total stranger.


I am not a book.  I am a collection.  Get your library card handy, and check these puppies out.  I am somewhere at the intersection of:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (for intellectual curiosity); Les Miserables (for that ethical streak -- and the bonus that it's been made into a musical); Green Eggs and Ham (for an ultimate willingness to try new things and admit I've been wrong); Elementary Linear Algebra (for its elegant numberness); Cats for Dummies (because I'm not ashamed to be told which end to feed); and the Victoria's Secret catalog.

If forced to pick a single book, I'd have to say:  Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- because all the rest do nothing to describe me unless tempered with a huge dose of smart-assery.

Extra Credit: List a book that someone swore would be a book you would love -- and you didn't.

Again, I answer with more than a book -- I can give you a whole genre.  Friends thought my technoweenieness and my love for science fiction would make me a sure bet for cyberpunk.  But I've tried at least three (alleged) classics of the field, and they do nothing for me.  Go figure.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my sister's 40th birthday.  There was a party this weekend.

As I am still a few years shy of my 40th, I had a little fun putting together a toast for my sister.  (I wonder if I'll find it quite so entertaining when I'm sneaking up on the four decade mark myself.) 

Nonetheless, I thought I'd share my toast with you all -- because, well, as fun as good-naturedly mocking one's sister is, doing it in front of a wider audience is even more fun.  And so:

Wow.  Forty.  Do you know how old that is?  Let me put it this way.  See this issue of Tiger Beat?  Every single person featured in this magazine was born after you graduated High School.  That’s how old you are.


Remember when you read Tiger Beat?  David Cassidy is 54.  Think about that


When you were born, Lord of the Rings was just a trilogy of books.  You were born before the Star Wars trilogy.  You were born before the Godfather trilogy.  Hell, you were born before Puzo even wrote “The Godfather


You were born before EuroDisney, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disney World


In your lifetime, the world saw the first images of war televised, the moon landing, and the first 8-track tape player


You’ve been around longer than HDTV, flat screen TVs, cable TV, satellite TV, pay-per-view, DVD-players and VCRs


You’ve been around longer than 60 Minutes.  You’ve been around longer than PBS



When you were born, there was no Atkins Diet.  There was no Diet 7-Up.  There were no little blue bags of sugar substitute.  There was no sugarless gum.


You were around before the independence of:  Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania, Belarus, Brunei, East Timor, Suriname,Angola, Bahrain, Qatar, Fiji, Swaziland, Botswana and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).


You were born before Steve Jobs dropped out of college and Stephen Hawking was confined to a wheelchair


You were born before anyone ever celebrated Kwanzaa, Earth Day, or Martin Luther King Day.  18-year-olds couldn’t vote.


You were born before Roe v. Wade.


There was no Sydney Opera House or People magazine.


OK, now, at this point, you might be thinking, "Yeah, OK.  But [NZ], you're just a few years younger than [your sister].  You're older than a lot of this stuff, too."  Which is true.  So I've also compiled a short list of things that are older than I am, but still younger than her:


Doctor Zhivago

The Graduate

Mary Poppins

The “It’s A Small World” ride

Fiddler on the Roof

Star Trek

The “G,” “PG,” “R,” and “X” rating system

The fax machine

The floppy disk

Cordless phones

Daylight Savings Time

Cool Whip




Unsafe At Any Speed

Affirmative Action

The Canadian flag with the maple leaf

Miranda warnings

The Monkees


The first human heart transplant


Happy birthday, babe!

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

You Never Know What You'll See At Sears

OK.  So, this weekend, I was only supposed to be away for Saturday night.  At the last minute, I thought I'd stay over Sunday night as well.  Which was fine and all (I was staying with my parents) excepting I didn't have any more clothes to wear.

So, Sunday night, I went to the theatre right near a big shopping mall.  And I thought if I got to the theatre early, maybe I could buy some clothes.  Mom was with me, and we got to the theatre a good half hour before the show started.  We drove across the street to the shopping mall, and figured we'd have about fifteen minutes for me to find something to wear for the next day.

We pulled in right near one of the Department Stores -- Sears.  I'd been thinking that I could get one of those tank tops with a built-in bra (thereby saving me from the expense of a new bra as well) and a pair of jeans.  So we enter the store at exactly the wrong side, and have to run through Appliances, Shoes, Accessories, and Men's Wear before we see brightly colored tank tops.

We start feeling up all the tank tops in order to find the ones with the built-in bras.  I grab a few that look like possibilities, and run off in search of jeans.  I find some jeans -- no, wait, those are men's jeans.  I walk a little further and find other jeans.  Start looking for something in general vicinity of my size.  I turn to ask my mom to look for my size and she's gone.

I scan the store.  No mom.

At this point, we've got to be out of the store in about ten minutes.  I haven't tried anything on, and I seem to have misplaced my mother.

I start running back to where I saw her last, and don't see her anywhere.  I see a Fitting Room and debate running in to try the clothes on -- but if I'm going to have to spend ten minutes on a Mom Hunt, the clothes will just have to go unbought.

I run through the aisles again and find her!  We run together back to the Fitting Room.

... where there are now people in every room and a line of about five women waiting to try on their clothes.  I stand at the end of the line, and look at my watch.  We'll never make it.

Mom looks at me and jokingly opens her jacket, like she's offering to shield me from view.  "Why the heck not?" I think.  We move to a corner of the fitting room.  The ladies in line look at us like we're nuts.  I take off my shirt and bra and try on a tank top.  It's awful.  I try on the next.  It's okay.  I try on the third.  It's laughable.  I drop my pants and try on the jeans.  They're passable.  I figure I'll buy the second tank and the jeans.  I dive back into my original attire and we run for the checkstand.

I buy the stuff and we make it to the play with a good five minutes to spare.  (Yay us!)

When we got back from the theatre that night, I got undressed and realized I had put my bra back on backwards. 

Update (re: entry below)

Here's some things I learned:

- A queen-sized down comforter doesn't fit so well in a standard washing machine
- Down comforters smell something wicked when wet
- Down comforters take an awful lot longer to dry than a single cycle
- "Shout" gets cat puke out of comforter covers pretty well
- Either that or I put the comforter cover back on wrong-side-up
- I'm not real good at putting comforter covers on comforters at 3:00 in the morning
- I'm not real good at much beyond sleeping at 3:00 in the morning
- Four hours of sleep ... not enough.
- Kitten is lucky she's cute.

... I also seem to have learned Alerts are down.  But I haven't received any aol mail at all since last night (not even spam(!)) so it might be a Mail thing rather than a Journal thing.