Thursday, December 30, 2004

This week's homework -- Kitty Wishes

Me again. The furry one on the right.


That's me and NZ.  She's all dressed up for our holiday card photo.  I don't do the dressing up.  I mean, really, I can't possibly be any cuter than I already am, right?  (That's what she tells me, anyway.  I'm the cutest kitten witten in the whole house!  What's a house?) 

ANYWAY, she's handed the whole journal thing to me again, because Scalzi's homework asks what New Year's Resolution she'd make for me, and which one I'd make for her.

We're overachievers over here, so I actually have two of each.

NZ's resolutions for me are:  (1) Stop "teeth play" (i.e. biting); and (2) Become more of a lap cat.  Yeah right.  Like that's going to happen.

My resolutions for NZ are:  (1)  Play with me (with the GOOD toys) a half hour EVERY NIGHT; and (2) Sleep with the door open so's I can come in!

You just watch.  I'm gonna make it happen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Adventures in Refueling

My car tells me that it has less than a quarter tank of gas, so I figure I should stop and get some.

Actually, I was well under a quarter tank yesterday, but it was raining and all.  Tonight, we've had a brief respite, so there was no reason to not stop at the ol' Mobil on the way home and gas up.

I pull up.  There's nobody at the pump, so I drive up to the front pump.  I wave my little magic gas-chargey thing at the sensor and the pump comes to life.  It asks for my zip code.  I supply it.  I press "enter."  The indicator lights beneath the three types of fuel start blinking waiting for my selection.  I push the button for mid-grade and reach for the actual pump to begin fueling.

It isn't there.  No pump, no hose, nothing.  The read-out is all excited about giving me fuel (which I've now paid for) but there is no way to actually get it into my car.

I cancel the transaction.  Get back in my car.  Back up a few feet to the pump behind.  The flourescent light on this pump is flickering slightly, but it appears to be in good working order.  I check in advance -- there is, indeed, a pump here.  I run through the routine:  wave pass at sensor; type in zip code; press enter; push the button for mid-grade; reach for the...  I push the button for mid-grade.  I PUSH THE DAMN BUTTON.  Nothing.  The pump is non-responsive.

Back in the car -- drive to the next pump over. I finally get some fuel.

Man, you'd think the guy in the little booth would put up cones or something, to stop people from pulling up to the two broken pumps.  Maybe he enjoys watching people try to use the worthless equipment.  While I was fueling, I saw the next poor sucker drive up to the pump-less pump, and watched how long it took him to figure it out. 

It was kinda funny.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Damn Fortune Cookie

For the first time, I got a fortune cookie I didn't like.

Saturday night.  It read:  "You will soon find out how fortunate you really are."

And this morning, I'm reading about the upwards of 33,000 dead (with that number expected to rise over 50,000), 250,000 homeless and 1,000,000 displaced after the earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.

I read about the relief efforts -- that are getting packages of clean water, food, "plastic sheeting for shelters," and "emergency latrine plates" out to thousands of people who, all of a sudden, found themselves with nothing.

And here I sit, in my nice warm bed, in my nice warm home, with my nice full fridge and my fully functioning bathroom (and my big worry is going outside and driving to work in the rain), and I thought "Damn.  I know how fortunate I really am."

Relief organizations are listed here.  Donate now. 

Monday, December 27, 2004

Wanna feel old?

I decided that (rather than do everything else I had to do) I would take today to clean out my closet.  (The theory being that once I cleaned the closet, I'd have room to put all the junk I'll have when I clean every place else.)

And, as I do every time I clean the closet, I found the box of Barbie dolls I saved from when I was a kid.  But I didn't just have Barbies, I also had "Dawn Dolls."  They were Barbie-type dolls, but much smaller.  They were pretty rare -- compared to Barbies anyway -- and we always figured they'd be worth something someday.

(According to a quick scan on eBay, given their condition, I could maybe eke out twenty bucks for the set.)

But what really killed me about them are their hip, happenin' 1970s fashions.  Check 'em out.


(Sorry about the paw in the picture.  For some reason, Jasmine found them irresistable.)  Pretty snazzy, huh?  I can't believe I grew up thinking this was the ideal of style.  (And don't overlook the blue eye shadow that's built in on several of the dolls.)  Absolutely charming!

And for those of you not quite old enough to remember Dawn dolls, I offer the following trip down memory lane...

Yep.  5 1/4 inch disks.  These, boys and girls, are the reason we used to call them "floppies."  Because (unlike the 3 1/2 inch models that came after), they were actually floppy.  And I saved all of these disks from my Apple IIe computer because I knew I'd need them later.  (Particular that one on the left.  That's Apple Writer II.  A word processing program that was itself less than 110 KB.  My copy of Microsoft Word snorts in its general direction.)

I used to save these old disks thinking that, like my mom's old 45 rpm records, they'd be fun for the next generation to play.  Of course, the difference is, I still have a machine that can play 45's.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Kitty in the kitchen

Because she's cute.


This was my lunch yesterday, aka, "the before picture."

I bought it at the cafeteria at work.  We have a "hot lunch counter," a "grill guy," and a "sandwich guy."  Usually, I get lunch from the grill guy -- a chicken sandwich or mushroom burger.  But there's generally fries that come with that, so I've tried going to the hot lunch counter instead, thinking that maybe I'd get a healthier meal.

Ha.  The hot lunch counter is clearly operating on the "quantity rather than quality" theory of food service.  That there box of spaghetti (plus garlic bread) clocked in at around $5.00.  Five bucks for what was probably three servings of spaghetti.  Seriously.  I should have chipped in with some co-workers and shared a box.

Don't believe me?  Here's the "after" picture. 

That would be after I'd eaten my fill.  I'd pretty much just picked the meatballs out of it, and there were still meatballs left.  Not to mention, y'know, all the pasta.

And the hot lunch counter guy wonders why he always runs out of food at around 12:45.

Monday, December 20, 2004

How tired am I?

Sometimes, when I'm tired at work, I play a game of Solitaire.  It's a little test of how alert I am.  I mean, if I'm so tired I miss the fact that the red eight sitting there ought to be on the black nine, there's something wrong.  I'll usually spot it eventually, and then I'll be, "Dude, how long was that red eight sitting there?  I'm pretty out of it."

So, I started playing solitaire a few minutes ago.  And the VERY FIRST move I made was to move that black ace over onto the red two.

Had to be at least ten moves later when I thought, "Wait a minute."

I need a serious nap.



Saturday, December 18, 2004

Homework: The gift of popularity

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #39: Tell us about the toy you had to have for the holidays when you were a kid, only to find out it was kinda disappointing once you had it.

There was never really a toy I had to have.  My parents taught me, at a pretty early age, to be skeptical of commercials, so I knew that the dancing Barbie wasn't really going to dance around the living room of her own volition.  Being cynical about advertising was very nearly a game we'd play -- when we'd see an ad, I'd try to guess how the words in the ad -- while technically true -- were describing something much less desirable than they implied (much like reading personal ads today).

But there was one thing I absolutely had to have.  It wasn't a toy (and it wasn't for the holidays), but boy, I wanted it something wicked:  designer jeans.  Man, if only I could ditch these embarassing Toughskins and walk around Junior High with Vidal Sassoon's name on my butt -- my humdrum existence would fade and I would instantly be part of the Popular Kids.  My pants were keeping me down

My mother refused.  Absolutely refused.  In her mind, having Gloria Vanderbilt's name on your back pocket branded you as stupid enough to dump twice as much money for a pair of jeans, and she was having no part of it.  When we went school-clothes shopping, it was back to Sears for me.  I even offered to pay the difference -- she could just give me the cost of the no-name jeans, and I'd pay the rest out of my babysitting money.  (To this day, I think she should have accepted the offer.)  But, no.  No kid of hers was going to waste money on these things.

And then... one day, a family friend took me school-clothes shopping.  And she bought me (gasp) Chemin de Fer cordoruys.  OK, they weren't jeans and they didn't have a top designer's name scrawled on the back -- but they came from a designer and you could tell because they had a little train on the button.

I showed that button to everyone at school.  (Yes!  Yes!  Look at my fly!  See how I'm wearing designer pants!)  And the people who were my friends anyway thought it was really cool that I had a pair of designer cords.  And the popular kids who'd ignored me before kept right on ignoring me. 

Lesson learned.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My Double Life

Ever feel like you're living in two different worlds?  On the same day?

Today, for lunch, I had turkey with all the trimmings, served on lovely china by a nice man in a uniform who pulled out my chair for me and asked if he could get me a beverage.

For dinner, I had 3/4 of a slice of pizza, and I gave the rest to a homeless guy who was begging for the crust.

Strange, strange world(s).



And ditto for the hair products

Remember what I said about not knowing who gave me the phone?

Ditto for the great hair products that arrived yesterday with no indication of who had sent them.

I think I've discovered a flaw in the otherwise splendid wish list process.

Whoever you are, thanks for making my hair all moisturized and manageable!



Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Memo to Jonathan on "Amazing Race"

Do not shove your wife.

Now, that should really be the end of it.  I mean, it's pretty much a bright line that you don't cross.  Shoving wives -- don't do it.  But, just in case you're going to come up with some situation in which it may be acceptable to shove one's wife (like, say, out of the way of an uncoming train), let me clarify.

Do not shove your wife IN ANGER.


Do not shove your wife in anger because one other couple got ahead of you, WHEN YOUR WIFE WAS TRYING TO PREVENT YOUR STUFF FROM GETTING STOLEN

Do not shove your wife in anger because one other couple got ahead of you, when your wife was trying to prevent your stuff from getting stolen AND SHE'S CRYING.

Do not shove your wife in anger because one other couple got ahead of you, when your wife was trying to prevent your stuff from getting stolen and she's crying, ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.

Ya freakin' moron.



Monday, December 13, 2004

Thanks for the phone (?)

aka Bah Humbug, Part 2

There was a cordless phone on my Amazon wish list.  (I really needed one.  My old cordless dropped dead a few weeks ago.)

Someone bought me the cordless phone.

It didn't come from Amazon, though -- it was sent from a third-party vendor who sold via Amazon.

Which is all well and good -- excepting, if it were from Amazon, it would have told me who it was from, something which my pals at TechDepot didn't feel inclined to do.

I'm really hoping the mystery phone-giver just happens to read my journal. 

Whoever you are, thank you!  (And please identify yourself.)



You don't get women

So, this morning, my morning DJ promises to tell us about the most romantic thing EVER.

Turns out to be this story about a marine who was injured in Iraq, and the doctors were going to cut off his wedding ring, and he tells them to cut off his finger instead.  And here's the DJ telling the story, saying, "OK, ladies, you can tear up now," and how this blows away any other romantic gesture any other guy would make.

And I thought, Look, I understand the guy was under a lot of stress, and he loves his wife, and I certainly wouldn't want to tell him he did the wrong thing now that's he's cut off his finger and all.... BUT that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  The only part that makes me want to cry is that this guy was idiotic enough to think his wife would rather have him save a thing rather than a part of himself.  (He's only 19, which explains a lot, I think.)

Look, a wedding rings means A LOT.  It is very likely the most symbolic item a man owns.  But, when you get right down to it, it is just a THING.  It's a lump of metal.  (It isn't like it's a ring that has magical powers or anything.)  It's a hunk of gold that can be easily replaced.  As opposed to your finger, which is, y'know, your finger.  You can't replace that.  It's a part of you.  When you end up making the hard decisions, preserving yourself should always be more important than preserving a mere thing.

Am I wrong here? 

Saturday, December 11, 2004

This week's homework: Holiday Characters

This week, Scalzi asks us:

>>Weekend Assignment #38: It's the Holidays! Create your own festive Holiday Character and give him, her or it at least one seasonally appropriate magical ability (or use its native traits and skills to save the holiday season).<<

To which request, I cheerfully supply:

Toasty, Burny, Crispy, Flamey, Blazey, Scorchy, Smoldery and Mendel -- the Hanukkah Fire Safety Bears!

They're cute!  They're cuddly!  They're available at Temple Gift Shops near you!

And they're starring in their Very Own Animated Holiday Special!

Tune in to the ABC Family Channel (at 8:00/7:00 central & mountain) on the first night of Hanukkah to see what happens when the Goldberg family leaves their lit menorah unattended.  When Puffball, their curious kitten, knocks the menorah to the ground, scattering lit candles everywhere, little Carol Goldberg's collection of stuffed animal bears magically come to life and save the day!

Be sure to stay tuned for an important discussion of fire safety tips from Crispy -- followed by a great big Hanukkah Bear Hanukkah Party!  (YAY!)

The makers of the Hanukkah bears have issued the following statement in response to certain recent allegations in the press.  "We have no comment on the sexual orientation of 'Flamey.'  All viewers are invited to interpret Flamey's hug with Smoldery in their own way."

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Bah freakin Humbug (Part 1)

I say Part 1 as I have the awful feeling this will be the first in a series.

Wanted to buy some small gifts for some women I work with.

Found the Yves Rocher stuff at  Looked to fit the bill.

Bought $12 worth of the stuff (4 little $3 items -- figured I'd give two items each to each of the women).  $5 for shipping, but what the hell.  At least the gift is taken care of.

This was DECEMBER 1.

This morning, I get an email dated DECEMBER 8 saying they're refunding $6 because half of the items weren't in stock when they received the order.  They're mailing the rest of it.

How nice.  I'm supposed to want $6 worth of stuff (two half-presents) for $5 in shipping.  I think not.  I called them up to cancel the whole order.  Ten freakin' minutes on hold.  Then, "We can't cancel the order because we've already shipped it.  If you really don't want it, just refuse delivery."

I can't do that, ma'am.  It is being shipped to my office where the mail room will accept it.

"Just write RETURN TO SENDER on it and drop it back in the mail."

Will do.  Wonder if I'll ever see my $11 again. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Tales From eBay

I'm planning a sort of Victorian Tea Christmas Party Thing, and I wanted to buy some actual pieces of Victorian Crap with which to decorate.  (Or give away to the folks who win the Parlour games.) 

I thought I'd find some Victorian Crap cheap on eBay, and eBay did not disappoint me on this count.  My one rule was that I wouldn't spend more than $5 for an item, and I managed to find all manner of Victorian spoons, mugs, photos, calling card trays and the like -- all for under $5.

(Well, OK, we do need to have a chat with some of these eBayers about when the Victorian era actually was.  Victoria reigned from 1839 to 1901.  So when your listing calls an item "Victorian" and then you say it was made in 1920, well, you might want to rethink that.)

So.  Lots of Victorian Crap.  And I kept getting outbid.  Not by those evil people who use eSnipe or other services to snag items by automated bidding during the last few seconds of an auction.  No, I was outbid by nice, honest people who were up front about outbidding me several hours before the auctions closed.

I lost fourteen auctions in a row.  Some I lost fair and square -- like to someone who wanted to pay $17 for something I would only go $5 for.  Others broke my heart -- like the spoon that went for $1.95 when I'd bid only $1.50.

And then, over the weekend, my luck changed.  I had about 12 auctions ending on Saturday, and I won nine of them.  All for $5 or less.  (One for 95 cents!)  As we speak, I have all sorts of Victorian Crap winging its way to me via every possible shipping method that exists.

And today there was ... the dress.

When I invited people to my Victorian Tea party, several of them asked if they should come in costume.  I hadn't thought about it at the time, but, y'know, when am I going to turn down an opportunity to dress up?  I went back to eBay to see if I could find Victorian clothes.

(Aside to eBay sellers:  No, you cannot claim your dress is Renaissance and Victorian.  Several hundred years apart.  Look it up.)

There are some genuine article real live left-in-the-attic-someplace Victorian dresses for sale on eBay.  After perusing a few of the ads, I quickly discarded the idea of purchasing one.  Reason:  corsets.  The damn things were made for a 19-inch waist.  Sorry, but no.

On the other hand, there are loads of reproductions.  For this, I can thank the Civil War re-enactors.  (Civil War:  1861-1865.  Conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Victoria's reign, although a few thousand miles away.  But fashions were remarkably similar.)  So, seamstresses all over the place make these lovely Victorian dresses and sell them to Civil War re-enactors and (and here's a term I just learned) members of the Single Action Shooting Society.

I found a dress.  The measurements appear to fit my measurements (no corset required).  It had a buy-it-now price of $175, which was ridiculous, but an opening bid of $40.  I checked what similar dresses were going for, and figured I had a good shot of getting it for under $100.  $80, if I was lucky.  And since I was really just buying this on a total lark, I was hoping for lucky.

The $40 bid had been placed by a new user (she had eBay feedback of zero).  Newbie.  I have nothing against newbies (we were all there once), but I did want this dress, and hoped I could predict a newbie's behavior enough to get it for my price.

Newbie had bid $40, and there were still a couple days left to the auction.  I wanted to put a bid in there for two reasons.  First, because I'm polite, and wanted newbie to know she actually had competition.  Second, because there was a reserve price on the dress, and newbie hadn't hit it yet.  I put in a bid of $60, to see if I could trip the reserve.

$60 did not meet the reserve, but it did reveal that newbie had actually bid $55.  (I assume here that we're all familiar with eBay's bidding system where you put in your maximum bid, and it bids the increments for you, up to your maximum, as necessary.)  So, newbie was willing to bid $55 for the dress, but didn't want to test the reserveany more than that.

Well, actually, I wasn't too happy about doing it either.  The auction still had a couple days to go.  If the seller had a $100 reserve, newbie could have the damn dress.

Reluctantly, I put in a bid of $65.  I was rewarded with a "Reserve Met."  And a good thing, too.  (Would've felt pretty stupid if I'd stopped at $60 and didn't get the dress because I wasn't willing to go another $5.)

So, now that I'd tripped the reserve, all that was left was to keep newbie out of it.

I woke up this morning to see newbie had bid $66.  Giving notice that she's still in it, I reckon.  I typed in $67 -- to find out if newbie had actually given eBay a higher maximum bid than that.  She hadn't.  I was high bidder at $67.

Bidding on the dress was set to end tonight around 9:45.  I made a point of being home and at my computer -- something I hadn't done for any of the other auctions.  I had a feeling newbie was going to put in a bid just a couple minutes before the auction was ending, and I wanted to outbid her.

Two minutes before the auction ended and I'm still high bidder at $67.  Was newbie really letting it go for a buck more than her last bid?  My screen said yes, but my mind said no.  With less than two minutes to go, I told eBay I was going to up my maximum bid.

And it made me log in again.  Damn!  I was timing this kinda close and I thought I'd already been logged in.  I threw my password at it and got the bid screen.

And wouldn't you know it?  In the time it took me to log in, newbie had gotten in there, as the bid screen was now telling me that the high bid on the dress was $68.

How high do I go?  I mean, you could always type in something that you know will outbid the other person (like $500), but what if she's done that too?  Someone will end up WAY overpaying for the item, and it could be you.  You've got to go high enough to outbid them, but never more than you're actually willing to pay.

I've probably only got time for one bid, so I have to get it right.  I hesitate over the keyboard.  She's new, so has probably put in a max bid at a nice round number.  $70 is too low, since we were at $67 all day.  I bet she's gone $75, so I go slightly higher.

eBay rewards me with a message that I'm the high bidder at $76.  There's actually 45 seconds left in which newbie can outbid me if she wants to, but she does not -- either she didn't want to go any higher, or she couldn't figure out how high she had to go within the remaining time.

Dress is mine for $76.  Hee.

The funny thing is ... after my party's over, I might just put the dress back up on eBay.  :)

Monday, December 6, 2004

How Wussy Am I?

Went to Disneyland on Saturday.  Since I didn't want to be carrying stuff all around the park, I locked my purse in the trunk of my car, taking only my wallet and cell phone.

I put the two items in the two front pockets of my jeans.  My not-incredibly-baggy jeans.

As the day progressed, the tops of my thighs started hurting.  I figured this was because I kept pushing up against wallet and phone with each step (and when sitting down) and decided I should, perhaps, remove said items and carry them separately.  This I did.

That was SATURDAY.  It's MONDAY now and my thighs are still sore.  As though walking with those incredibly heavy few-ounce weights was too much of a workout for my pitiful legs.

Oh the shame of it all.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Modesty, surely

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks us to look deep inside ourselves and answer:

Weekend Assignment #37: We all know what our best personal quality is. What's your second-best personal quality?

Extra Credit: Note a personal quality you wish you had more of.

Dude.  That's a tough one.  I usually don't go about listing my personal best qualities.

Now that I think about it, though, being a person of the single female persuasion, I frequently list qualities that I look for in a possible future partner.  And when I think about the qualities on that list, one does sorta leap to mind as a quality which I possess, but wouldn't want to put in the top line of the personal ad, so to speak:

I'm responsible.  Which is to say, I'm a freakin' grown-up.  Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm silly and goofy and playful, and I enjoyed Buffy, the Vampire Slayer rather more than someone who had already graduated college probably should.  But I also have a job -- no, a career, and I take it damn seriously.  (I also feed the cat and clean her little box every night.)  When I take on a task, you can count on me to actually do it

Extra Credit:  I wish I had more cheerful optimism.  I know some people go through life with lots of laughter, and can make even the least pleasant situation fun.  Now, me?  I'm quick with the witty retort and heavy on the sarcasm and irony, but not so much with the glass-half-full-ness.  I could use a little more of that.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Boo on eBay

Anyone else remember when eBay was cool?  You'd go online, find some neat thing you wanted that someone was selling out of their attic, bid on it, and get it for a song.

Now, its all little shops and "view my other items."  eBay is populated by a bazillion private little businesses all of which allegedly have 99% positive feedback.  (Really, now.  Are THAT many private little businesses THAT well-loved, or could it possibly be that some of these folks are, oh, I don't know, kicking up their feedback?)

And the bidding!  Whatever happened to my sweet, friendly little bidding?  Now it's all about pouncing in at the very last second and outbidding the other guy.  I've bid on TEN items this week and lost every single one of them -- usually within the last few minutes.  (I just got outbid on an 11th.  Lovely.)

The amount of time I have wasted on this is truly, truly depressing.