Sunday, January 30, 2005

Mandatory Karaoke Situation

In my last entry, I mentioned practicing my karaoke song, in case I ever find myself in a mandatory karaoke situation.  Karen (mavarin) asks how such a situation might come about.

I actually once was in a mandatory karaoke situation, but -- as circumstances unfolded -- I did not, in fact, sing.

Several years ago (pre-Journal), I went on a small-ship cruise in the Great Barrier Reef.  It was shortly after September 11, so tourism was way down.  The ship had room for about 120 passengers, and there were only 60 of us on board.  (And I got a deal, let me tell you.)

I stood out, a bit, from the group.  With the exception of a very strait-laced British widow, I was the only one travelling alone.  I was also the only passenger with a SCUBA certification -- so they'd arrange snorkelling for everyone else, and diving for me.

I was also the only one on the ship who wasn't, er, um... well, let's put it this way.  Every night after dinner, they'd push the tables away and have dancing.  There was one couple -- competitive ballroom dancers from Australia -- who'd stay and dance, and everyone else would leave.  After the dancing, Daniel (shipboard Musical Entertainment Guy) would come upstairs to the lounge/bar area and play piano for a few hours.  But everyone had had their last drinks while the Aussie dancers were dancing, so the piano bar was dead.  With the exception of me.  I'll be damned if *I'm* turning in at ten o'clock.  So, I'd sit up in the lounge and shoot the shit with Daniel, the Bartender, and our Cruise Director.  All of whom pointed out that, usually, their passengers were a bit less ... dead. 

So, whenever our Cruise Director was looking for a passenger to get the ball rolling on something -- whether it was the limbo contest or the old pass-the-frozen-orange-from-under-your-chin-to-the-next-guy game -- I would always be the one he'd look to.  And I'd cheerfully oblige.  We sort of had an unspoken arrangement that I'd be the one who'd be game to try anything -- and he'd keep giving me free Cokes after hours.

Fast-forward to our third night.  After dinner, rather than pushing the tables back for dancing, they hauled out the karaoke machine.  The crew all got up to sing, and then asked the passengers to take turns.  Many stares in my direction from Daniel and the Cruise Director.  It looked as though they were actually pleading.

I flipped through the book of song selections.  There were only a couple hundred songs, and I couldn't sing any of them.  No, really.  None of the songs I knew how to sing were in there.  Trust me.  I know my limits. 

It got worse.  We were told that it was Shipboard Tradition that the Captain's Table begins the singing.  Oh look, guess where I'm sitting tonight!  I grabbed the book of song selections and went through it again -- this time trying to find something, anything, I could convince my fellow captain's-table-sitters to warble through with me.  By now, Strait-Laced British Widow is looking over my shoulder at the book, doing the same thing -- as she realizes the mandatory nature of our social obligation at this point in time.  We scan the book, while considering the demographics of our tablemates.  There's very little musical overlap among us -- even less when considered with regard to the limits of our song selections -- but British Widow and I agree that, in a pinch (which this most certainly was), we could drag the rest of the Captain's Table through a Beatles tune ("We Can Work It Out," I think) with dignity relatively intact.  I wave Daniel over and hand him our little scrap of paper, identifying our song selection to be added to the queue.

At which point a bunch of girls from another table stand up and start singing "We Can Work It Out" (having been bribed by Cruise Director with free booze).  Daniel gives me back our little paper.  British Widow and I sit back down, totally deflated.

Captain hands me the songbook again, now directly asking me to uphold the honor of the Captain's Table.  (Does he not realize that if I sing there will be nothing honorable about it?)  I go through the book for what must be the fourth time.  My standards have lowered again -- now I'm looking for something that meets only these criteria:  (a)  I know the words;  (b)  nobody has already sung it; and (c)  itis not a Madonna song.  I'm not finding anything and I feel like I'm letting the whole crew down.  I know it would be a disaster, but I actually start considering exactly how far out of my range "Like a Prayer" really is.

And before it starts, it's over.  After the girls from the other table sang "We Can Work It Out" and one guy hammed it up through "Can't Help Falling In Love," there were no more passenger volunteers, and Daniel packed away the karaoke machine.  The other passengers went to bed, as usual, and I went back to the lounge to hang with the crew -- and apologize for my failure to take one for the team.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Homework: Sing Out, Louise

For this week's homework, our fearless leader gives us:

Weekend Assignment #45: It's karaoke time. Pick a song to sing and explain why you chose it. Note that not everyone sings the song you expect them to sing: I remember being at a karaoke bar one time and watching a six-foot bald guy with a gravelly voice and a tattoo on his neck sing Olivia Newton John's "Have You Never Been Mellow?" And it was brilliant. So by all means, reach for the stars here. This isn't American Idol.

Extra Credit: Recall the worst karaoke performance you ever heard (or, if you're brave, ever performed). You can change the names to protect the guilty if you like.

I've never actually karaoked.  I've never been drunk in public.  I believe there is a causal relationship.

Here's the thing:  I love to sing.  And I can't.  Well, not well anyway.  I have about a six-note range, and it took me years to find it, as it wasn't anywhere near where I'd thought it was.  (Hello.  My name is Sharon and I'm an alto.) 

I think that if I'm ever going to inflict my singing on the general public, the song in question is going to have to be more about performance than vocal ability.  And it better be pretty low.

So.  The song I've been toying with (and I've been practicing it in my car, just I case I ever find myself in a mandatory karaoke situation) is "It's in His Kiss" (aka "The Shoop Shoop Song").  Cher's cover of it.  It's big and bold and I can take it down an octave without doing it serious harm.

As for the extra credit, well, um, there was this amusement park "You Sing The Hits" booth, and me, and my college roommate, and an extremely unfortunate decision to sing "Walk Like an Egyptian."  It was beyond disastrous.  I think the only part I got on-key was the back-up "Way-oh"s.  I don't know whatever happened to the cassette, but I hope it involved a sledgehammer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Downside of Cat Ownership

Normally, I can think of a lot of pictures I'd rather post in my journal than a photo of myself after I've been home sick for two days.  I mean, my general state is such that... well, let's just say I won't be using this snap in a personal ad anytime soon.

And, yet, there's a certain something I wanted to share, and I'm sure you'd prefer the picture to the 1000 words.



Me.  After a certain purry little princess decided to give me a paw to the face.

(No, the scratch wasn't there before.  Nor the cut on my lip.  And my glasses used to sit straight.)

The Future of TV

I forgot to mention the most mind-boggling thing I learned on the Warner Bros. tour:  Everything we saw about the way they shoot TV is coming to an end this year.

We were standing inside the soundstage where they film "Gilmore Girls" (which would have been way more impressive if I ever watched the show), and he took us to see the part of the soundstage that acts as their backyard.  We were standing on a flat surface that was made to look like patio tile, and looking at a fake wall that was made to look like a stone planter.  And there was a muslin sheet hanging in the background, with neighboring houses painted on it.

And our tour guide said that this is all going to be different next year, when the industry standard goes to HDTV.

And my jaw simply dropped.

Of course, it makes perfect sense.  With HDTV, home viewers would NOTICE the patio tile isn't really tile, the stone planter isn't really a planter, and the neighbors' houses are just painted on.

HDTV is all well and good for giving you a more realistic look at stuff like sporting events and talk shows ... even "reality TV" -- but it is absolute death for television that is all about "movie magic" instead of reality.

The solution, said our tour guide, is that they're either going to have to get more real stuff in there for sets and backdrops, or they'll have to go further into cgi.

Sad, I thought, that this new technology that is supposed to improve our television-viewing experience is actually killing the way television programs have come to be made.

Sudafed works

With most medicines, I never really know if they're working.  I mean, I take cough suppressant and I'm still coughing.  I take pain killers and there's still pain.  Now, the theory goes that if I hadn't taken the cough suppressant (or the pain killer), I'd be coughing (or experiencing pain) even more.  But since there's no way to actually prove that, I sorta take it on faith and hope I'm actually getting some relief.

Not so with Sudafed. 

Went to bed around 1:00 last night.  Very congested.  Could not sleep.  Lying down only made the congestion worse.

2:00 a.m., staggered to the medicine cabinet.  Had a box of 12-hour Sudafed.  (Amazingly, unlike half the other meds in my bathroom -- and, to my great regret, the Campbell's chicken soup in my pantry -- it was not yet past the expiration date.)  Popped one.

Within, oh, 20 minutes, I felt the congestion clear and went to sleep.

I'm now 8 and a half hours into my 12-hour Sudafed, and I'm still breathing clearly.  Sure, I still feel sick and I have that slightly woozy medicated feel going on, but, hey, small price to pay.  Take decongestant, get decongested.  Isn't life grand?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Nick At Nite

There's this funny thing about Nick at Nite.

They keep acquiring new programs.  Every time they get a new old show -- especially if it's something I used to watch -- I'll tune in for an episode or two to see how well it has held up.

I usually have one of two diametrically opposed reactions.  Sometimes, I'll recognize the genius of the show, adoring it much more than I did the first time around.  And sometimes I'll think it's so laughably bad, I can't bring myself to watch it.

Example of the First Kind:  The Dick van Dyke Show.  A classic of American comedy.  I had seen a few episodes when I was a kid, but really hadn't realized how absolutely wonderful it was until Nick at Nite.  And, despite the fact that Rob and Laura slept in separate beds, the show has a timelessness to it.

Example of the Second Kind:  The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I'd loved that show.  When it started airing on Nick at Nite, I looked forward to seeing it again.  Result:  Massive disappointment.  Not timeless at all -- but horribly stuck in the early 70s.  It is very nearly unwatchable for Mary's outfits alone.  But it isn't just the costumes -- the gender roles are horribly outdated.  Mary Tyler Moore was considered groundbreaking for showing a single woman having success in the working world -- but watching it now, Mary Richards, with her sobbing "Ohhh, Mister Grant"s, is cringe-worthy for how not equal Mary actually was in the workplace.  Hell, the title song even calls her "girl."

And then... last night, Nick At Nite started airing Murphy Brown reruns.

Now there was a career woman you could model yourself after.  A ballsy, take-no-prisoners, non-girly-girl, who (in an extremely bizarre case of fiction vs. reality) actually took on the Vice President of the United States and came out on top.  Would the show hold up?

Initial viewings look good.  Almost too good.  Nick at Nite aired the pilot episode, and the show seemed to have all its ducks in a row even then.  The episode itself seemed electrified with the brazen self-confidence of its title character.  And not outdated at all.  Murphy still seems like someone I want to watch.

Mixed verdict on the costumes.  I mean, this was my era.  Murphy Brown went on TV when I started law school, so it pretty much reflected the styles that made up my own professional wardrobe for the first ten years that I had a professional wardrobe.  What can I say?  I still think the red jacket/black skirt combination is classic.

What got me, though, was the hair.  Oh my goodness.  I had that.  Eighties hair.  Where you'd coat it with mousse and blow dry the hell out of it.  Big stringy, bird's nesty locks that Jon Bon Jovi would be proud to wear.  And I'd thought it was normal.  Oh, the shame of it all.

The Less Amazing Part

I'm home sick today.  I am not happy about it.

On the other hand, I allow myself to get sick once per year, so if I get this year's sick out of the way in January, I'll be clear for the rest of 2005.

So, let's just put all the lousy stuff for this year in January, and then have a great next eleven months.  (I say that on the assumption that I've already HAD all the lousy stuff, and that there isn't more to come.)

.... and, yes, that's the Ellen DeGeneres Mickey.  With Dory in the fishbowl and the Ellenland T-shirt.  I thought it was so cute. 



Saturday, January 22, 2005

My Amazing Race ... Final Day

Not much left.  Mary and I slept in a bit on Monday, and didn't really get moving in an out-the-door direction until about 10:30.

Mary was not yet Movie Studio'd Out, and wanted to go the "VIP Tour" at Warner Bros.

(This time, she was doing the driving.)

We got to Warner around 11:15, and they signed us up for the noon tour.  There was time to walk down the street and grab lunch at a nearby fast-food joint.

OK, it was a Taco Bell.  At this point, I recalled that the snack on our Disney tour had been tacos, and remarked on the fact that we were having tacos on the two days of Mary's trip that we were not in Mexico!

We then walked back to the Warner Studio tour.  Notable for being our first Metal Detector of the trip.  They take things seriously at Warner.

I have very few photos from the Warner Studio tour.  This is because they kept taking our cameras away from us and locking them up.  We got them back a few times, but mostly, Warner is a Photo Free Environment.  The one exception is the following:

Recognize it?  That's the "Central Perk" set from Friends.  As our tour guide explained, even though Friends isn't filming anymore, it is still airing all over the world, and many guests to Warner are disappointed that they don't get to see the Friends stuff anymore.  So, Warner found a spare room in the prop building and re-installed "Central Perk."  Then they got "special permission" from the set decorator to let tour guests take photos (as normally we weren't allowed to photograph any decorated set).

I duly ooh'd and ahh'd and snapped my photo, but, to tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed that we weren't allowed to sit on the couch for our photos.  I mean really, it isn't like they're using the set anymore.  And when you compared with Foxploration where you could damn near sit on a deck chair from Titanic, it was a bit of a let-down.

But Warner did have a load of cool things to look at.  They have a museum of costumes and props -- which always has different stuff on display.  This time, the whole bottom floor was devoted to Television, and the whole upper floor was devoted to Harry Potter.  Totally dug this.  Saw Ron's wand, and Hermione's time-turner, and a BIG ol' spider and the incredible wax model they'd used for frozen-Hermione, and and and....  (And full marks to whoever it was at the museum who decided to display Professor Trelawney's costume and props right next to those of Gilderoy Lockhart.  Heh.) 

It was kinda funny as most of the docents at the museum are retired Warner employees, so they know all about the old Warner Bros. cartoons and the early days of Warner films -- and were totally out of their depth on exhibits about The O.C. and even Harry Potter.  (Says the eldery man explaining the Weasleys' clock to me... "It isn't a clock.  When someone in the family leaves the house, they turn the hand to where they're going."  And I try really hard not to roll my eyes and say, "Um, no.  It's magic.") 

... And that was pretty much it.  The tour was a couple hours long, then Mary & I went to the mall, where I returned all those clothes I'd bought on the internet that didn't fit. 

It was definitely a fun-filled three-day weekend.  As opposed to today, where I slept till 11:00 and am spending the whole day sitting on my butt in front of the computer.  Also fun-filled, but in a different way.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My Amazing Race ... Day Two

(No, Andrea, I didn't get Mickey's autograph.  Just the photo.)

So.  Midnight.  Chula Vista.  We were in a small, but clean, hotel room, where I got about 8 hours of sleep (only occasionally interrupted by people arguing outside the room and the faucet dripping in our bathtub).

In the morning, we had the complimentary breakfast, checked out, piled in the car, and got back on the freeway for the four miles to the "Last Exit in USA."  We pulled into the Border Station Parking Lot, just missing the 10:00 a.m. shuttle to Tijuana.  We made the 10:20, though, which was key, because we needed to make an 11:00 connection.  The shuttle took about a half hour, leaving us with ten whole minutes to experience all the tacky merchandise Tijuana had to offer.  Conveniently, it was all gathered in the bus station:

We connected to the 11:00 shuttle to Rosarito Beach, and at 11:45, we finally made it to our actual destination:  Foxploration.

I had only learned about Foxploration about a month ago.  Here's the deal.  Way down in Baja, there's Fox Studios Baja.  Movie studio conveniently located right on the Pacific Ocean.  They filmed Titanic there.  And Master and Commander.  And people kept coming by trying to peek over the wall and ask, "Dude, what's going on over there?"  (Except they'd ask it in Spanish, since this is Mexico.)  And the nice people at Fox thought, "Hey, we can build a place where we show people what we're doing here."  (Well, that's what their materials say.  Truth is, they probably thought something about "good PR" and maybe even "making a few bucks.")

Actually, I can't believe they're making money with it.  It only cost $12 to get in (the bus there cost more) and the place was damn near deserted.  Can't remember the last time I walked into a theme park or studio tour and felt like I was the only person there.

But the place was way cool.  The highlight is a tour of the Titanic sets. 

Although, to tell you the truth, it was as much an education about the Titanic itself -- because James Cameron had been so astonishingly anal about recreating it exactly.  So, our tour took us into the set of the Smoking Lounge, and told us about how James Cameron had contacted the company that made the carpet for the Titanic, and recreated the actual weave and pattern for the sets.  And we're standing on it while he's saying this.  Total bonus, I guess, of Foxploration not getting a whole lot of traffic -- they actually let you touch some of this stuff. 

We took the 2:00 bus back to Tijuana (they didn't run all that frequently), so our whole voyage down to Mexico was really only for just over 2 hours in Foxploration.

Back in Tijuana, we connected to the bus back to the States -- it's slower this way because you have to go through the Customs building.  (The agent asks me, "Where are you going?"  I look at him like he's an idiot and say, "Home?")  We get back to the Border Parking Lot around 4:30 and stop for a late lunch before driving home.  Oddly, the only restaurant we can find is Chinese Food.

We start driving North, but we're not done for the day.  (Heck no!)

On the way back, the sunset is lovely over the ocean.  Without looking, I snapped this photo out my car window. 

Not bad for just vaguely aiming out the window, huh?

We continue North, all the way back to...


This time, we go to California Adventure.  (Thank goodness for the two-parks-for-the-price-of-one ticket we'd bought the day before.)  California Adventure is hosting an exhibit of differently decorated statues of Mickey.  They got different celebrities and artists to design Mickeys, and they're all displayed around the park.  This was our favorite -- guess who designed it:

California Adventure closes at 9:00, although we somehow didn't get back to the car until 10:00.  (I don't think they take their closing time all that seriously.)

Drove home and hit the hay.  Of course, it was a three-day weekend, so we had a teensy bit of adventure left to go...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My Amazing Race ... Day One

So.  My friend Mary was visiting over the weekend.  She was supposed to get to my house by 10:30 p.m. on Friday night.  She didn't get there until midnight.  Since our plan for the weekend sort of depended on me getting a solid 8 hours of sleep before we set off early the next morning, I said "Hello," ushered her to the fold-out sofa, pointed her in the general direction of some sheets, and went to bed.

From then on, we were on such a tight (some might say "insane") schedule, I kept making jokes as though we were on our own little version of "Amazing Race." 

I imagined we had a 9:00 a.m. Departure Call, at which point we would have been handed a clue that said something like ... "Make your way to Mickey's House..."

Can do.  We drove to Disneyland, making surprisingly good time, and we got there just before our tour started.

Yes, we'd signed up for a "Discover the Magic" tour.  It's a tour designed for the 5-9 age group, but we didn't let that stop us.  Neither did anyone else in our tour group.  Here were are with Mickey (he's the one in the middle holding a book). 

Note how nobody in this group is between 5 and 9.  Note also how we've all got our arms around each other even though we're total strangers.  But, y'know, after running around the park pretending you're flapping your ears like Dumbo, you're ready to share a group photo.

In addition to running all over the park like total nuts, we got to meet a whole bunch of Disney characters (you cut in front of the autograph line when you're on the tour).  Here's me and Mary after we rode the carousel with Mary Poppins.

(After we rode the carousel, and we were starting to leave, I'd said to Bert, "I need to get a picture with you, Mary Poppins and the Penguin."  And Bert said, "Why yes, I believe you do.  You absolutely do.  Truer words have not been spoken."  Who knew Bert was a grammar dork?)

After we finished the tour, we had a few more hours in Disneyland, and then we were off again.  Mary had ordered tickets for a skating show (Stars on Ice) that was playing a few miles away from Disneyland.  So, after a dinner of Yummy Park Food (slightly healthier than Yummy Arena Food), we drove over to the Arrowhead Pond for Stars on Ice.

The show ended around, oh, 10:30, but we weren't done yet!  (Where's that little yellow envelope sending me now?)  We piled back in the car, fought traffic to the freeway and headed South. 

Way South.

To San Diego and Beyond, South.

We ended up, around midnight, at a little hotel in Chula Vista, about five miles north of the border.  Exhausted but entertained, we threw ourselves in the beds for our brief "pit stop" before we were off again the next morning...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

There's low-rise and ...

Continuing on my Clothes-Shopping theme, I point out that you can buy custom jeans online from Target.  Yep.  Just click that link, select your favorites in color, rise, pocket-style and so forth.  It'll ask for your measurements (and your money) and then they'll send you some jeans made Just For You.

Specifically, it asks for your height and weight, your waist size, your inseam, and your bra size.

Your bra size.  Number and cup.

Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but there's a good deal of acreage between the bottom of my bra and the top of my jeans.  In fact, if my breasts hung down so low as to actually impact how my pants fit, well, I think I'd have some higher priority items to purchase than a custom pair of jeans.

Y'all don't think there's some perv doing programming for Target who said, "Dude, I can get these women to tell me their bust size.  Heh heh.  Heh heh heh," do you?

Friday, January 14, 2005

My fellow shoppers

OK, so, a few months ago, I wanted to buy a skirt.

A fall skirt.

Something in, maybe, suede.  A-line.  3/4 length.  I could wear it with boots.

The "A-line" thing was the big issue.  Apparently, when I gain weight, it sets up camp in my hips.  In a somewhat disproportionate amount.  Meaning that while my waist has increased by one size, my hips have gone up about two.  Which makes buying skirts something of a challenge when they're those form-fitting models.  Because if I can get a skirt that fits my waist, by the time it gets to my hips, it's fitting my form WAY too tightly.  And if I happen to get something that fits my hips, it's too loose at the waist and won't stay up.

So.  Must get A-line skirt.

Spent literally HOURS on the internet trying to find one.  Unsuccessfully.  Finally, I found one, reasonably priced, from a mail order outfit I'd never heard of (which shall remain nameless).

They weren't rated with Bizrate or anything.  I wanted to verify their legitimacy before placing the order, so I googled around to see if anyone had commented on them. 

Sure enough, I found some reviews.  And they were positive.

The thing was -- they were on a newsgroup devoted to cross-dressing.

Hey.  I don't care.  Transvestites gotta have quality duds, too.  As long as this company sends what they promise to send, I'm good with it.  So, I ordered the skirt.

It was back-ordered, and it took a few months to arrive.  Finally got here.  It's exactly as advertised; I'm fairly pleased.

The company also shipped one of its catalogs in the box.  I looked through it.  I hadn't poked around their website much, so this was my first chance to get a look at their product line.

Several A-line skirts.  In fact, quite a lot of loose-fitting clothes.  Lots of ladies' shoes -- all having in common the fact that none have a heel higher than one-inch.  Girdles -- ranging in sizes up to a 50-inch waist.

Now, it's been quite some time since I've seen girdles at all -- but I can't remember the last time I'd seen a page of girdles in what was otherwise a normal clothing catalog.  I mean, L.L. Bean doesn't have a girdle department.

And I start to wonder ... even though this catalog is all women's clothing, in various sizes, displayed on female models ... have I, in fact, stumbled upon an operation that, er, caters to the shoppers for ladies' clothing who might be a little more ... male?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Could not be more annoyed at AOL now


My laptop stopped working and it is all AOL's fault!

My laptop said my Norton AntiVirus subscription was about to expire.  Since I prefer McAfee to Norton anyway, I uninstalled the Norton and figured I'd get McAfee through AOL.

Downloaded the new and improved Security Edition.  Also Firewall Express. 

Of course, it didn't go smoothly.  AOL kept having a heck of a time connecting.  (For some reason, it kept calling my connection "broadband" and failing -- it much preferred my connection called "home network."  Whatever.)

Finally got it to work.  All was well.

When I shut down yesterday, I got a weird text-filled screen before it went to black.

Booting today, the computer gave me a "The system has recovered from a serious error.  Would you like to report it?"  Why yes, I would.

Microsoft, upon learning the error, volunteered a screen saying the error had to do with the installation of a new driver.  Did I install any new hardware?  (No.)  How 'bout a firewall?  (Yes!)  See the provider of the firewall, they say.

I go to, but can't get any screen from them offering Tech Support for Firewall Express -- all I get is a screen suggesting I give them more money for their complete Firewall.

I also can't WORK.

AOL won't connect.  Well, it'll connect a bit, then stop.  And as soon as I try to connect on AOL, I lose whatever broadband connection I had OUTSIDE AOL.  (i.e., my internet explorer -- which had been working fine by itself) goes all flukey.

I try to run AOL's new helpful computer check-up tool, but it only runs from within AOL, which I can't BE in for any significant length of time.

I log on to the internet (and AOL) via my desktop.

I go to  This time, it will give me a help screen -- but a help screen tailored to the products I have installed on THIS computer -- which include McAfee's big honkin' firewall, not firewall express.

I come to AOL to deal with the problem.  AOL's first line of help says I should disable the firewall that came with Windows Service Pack 2.  I am only running Windows Service Pack 1.

I decide to crank up AOL's Live Human Being help (even though I am now late for work).  At first, it doesn't load.  Then it does.  I type in my question.  It says my question is too long.  I truncate my question (keeping the "driver-related error" and holding the "now AOL and IE don't work" bits for later).  I submit it.

AOL's Live Human Being help gives me nothing but a gray screen with a java icon.

We try it again.

Same gray screen with java icon.


I *CAN'T* be the first person this has happened to.  You'd think AOL would have a fix for it someplace.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

24 Jumped the Shark

Aw, damn. 

I was all excited about the new season of 24, and now I've (provisionally) decided it jumped the shark

One of the things I'd genuinely liked about 24 in the past was that CTU was, by and large, good at its job.  It was sort of comforting, in the post-9/11 world, to envision a government agency dedicated to keeping us safe that was actually efficient.  It was populated by well-meaning smart people who did the impossible in an astonishingly quick amount of time.

According to the episode I just watched, CTU is now populated largely by bureaucratic pencil pushers who couldn't stop Wile E. Coyote.  In just two short hours, we've seen:  (1) Erin ignore a valid lead; (2) EVERYONE miss the fact that the terrorist attack did not match the language of the chatter; (3) an astonishinly incompetent interrogation; (4) field officers (& Erin) miss something that Jack spotted from a camera-phone relay; (5) all of CTU not know as much about a suspect that Jack did (can they not read a file?); and (6) the head of Field Ops get shot because he approached an armed suspect with no cover at all.  Hey, at least the writers let him beat the crap out of Jack first, so he could die with some measure of dignity.  But the writers of this show do seem to be setting us up for 22 more hours of Jack knowing what's right and being stymied at every turn by those bozos at CTU who don't seem capable of seeing the big picture.


Not to mention it appears that an unusual percentage of the players look to be under the age of 20.  Riiiight.  I thought I was watching 24, not "Wargames."  Come on, people, not everything has to counter-program "The O.C."

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Frozen Memories

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

>Weekend Assignment #42: Share your favorite story of Winter cold -- preferably (but not necessarily) involving something freezing inconveniently and humorously.

I grew up in sunny Southern California.  I went to Law School, however, in Connecticut.

Connecticut.  They have winter there.

When I went East for my first semester, I took with me my California winter supplies.  This included lots of sweaters.  Of course, they were all made of rayon, or maybe a loose-knit cotton.  In Southern California, you don't really pay attention to what your sweater is made out of -- the fact that it provides an extra layer of clothing is usually sufficient.

I also brought my coat.  This would be one of them trenchcoat-style raincoats with a zip-in (polyester) lining.  Advertised as an "all-season" model.  Which is true, I guess, as long as all your seasons are Spring and Fall.

So, here's me, in my first Connecticut winter.  FREEZING.  My roommate taught me lots of four letter words.  Important words like "down" and "wool."

And then the snow came.

My first, oh, ten seconds in the snow convinced me that zip-in furry lining was no match for a New England winter.  I went back inside and got on the horn to The Company Store, a mail order catalog that sells down blankets and outerwear. 

The following is my end of the conversation:

- I'd like to order a coat please.

- I don't know what style number.  Just send me something warm in an extra small.

- Long sounds better.

- Sounds great.  Send me the coat.

- I don't care what color; just send the coat.

- Fine.  Fine.  JUST SEND ME THE COAT.

I had them overnight it.  I spent the next 24 hours going to classes and the cafeteria via underground tunnels that connected the dorms to the rest of the law school.  They were dirty and cockroach-infested, but had the major advantage of not being outdoors, and I managed to make it until the arrival of my brand new (steel grey, it turned out) down coat without setting foot outdoors.

To this day, my old roommate still remembers the time I yelled "Just send me the coat!" into the receiver.

Thursday, January 6, 2005


Haven't posted much lately as I have not had the best possible start to the New Year, as it were.

It's sorta been a "one thing after another" sort of thing.  To the point where items that are generally shrugged off as a minor inconvenience (or even laughed at) now seem like part of the overall conspiracy to just beat me down, ya know?

I mean, yesterday, I had a doctor's appointment at an office LITERALLY five minutes away, and it took me a half hour to get there.  A HALF HOUR.  Because between me and the doctor is the Metro (light rail) track -- and the Metro was somehow broken so the signal arms were down on EVERY INTERSECTION between me and the doctor's office.  Had to drive WAY out of the way in order to reach a part of town where the track went under the street, so's I could get to the other side of the tracks.

OK.  Frustrating? sure.  But I did get to the doc on time (had left early for some reason) so it's no biggie.  But, y'know, when colored by the fun and excitement of my boyfriend breaking up with me and the hole the plumber cut in my bathroom ceiling, it seems like Just Another Damn Thing.

I'm trying to keep a little perspective here.  Especially with a minor little earthquake waking me up at 6:30 this morning -- just to remind me that things are oh so much worse for oh so many people.  I mean, if I take a deep breath and think about it, I'm still, overall, in a situation where I damn well ought to be outrageously happy with my life.  (And, yes, I knocked on wood when I typed that.)

I guess I'm in a place where I'm not entirely sure what I ought to be feeling right now.  I mean, compared to the way my life usually goes, I've had me some shitty days of late, and I figure the right, healthy thing to do is to be genuinely depressed, frustrated and/or peeved about things.  While at the same time, in a great big overall sense, I still feel outrageously lucky in a big picture sense, and it seems almost wrong to be walking around in a depressed daze, taking everything into account.

So, really.  How bummed should I really be?

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Resolution About Gaining Weight

I understand many people have New Year's Resolutions to go to the gym and eat healthier and stuff like that.

Yeah, well, I have them too -- although I make that resolution pretty much every week, and still I don't go to the gym or eat healthy.  Probably has something to do with being lazy and detesting most vegetables.  Good thing there's still fruit.  If it wasn't for fruit, I'd probably be dead.

Anyway, with this new year, I'm taking a somewhat different tack to my expanding middle.


Well, not COMPLETE acceptance.  I'm not throwing in the towel altogether.  I am going to throw out a lot of candy today and replace it with healthier snacks.  And there are a lot of clothes in my closet that are just a SMIDGE too tight and I'm not ready to give up on them yet.  (Particularly since I bought most of them in the past year.)

But it's time to face the facts that some of these clothes are never going to get on my body again, and there's no point in having them take up space in my dresser.  I mean, I've got a closet full of clothes, but I've noticed that -- whenever I'm getting dressed in the morning -- if I don't have clean jeans, I've got "nothing to wear" -- because few of my other trousers fit anymore.

So, last night, I had an unpleasant moment of honesty with a tape measure, and then I got online and ordered some clothes that fit.  (Good thing everything's on sale.)  It was NOT a real good feeling ordering stuff a good THREE SIZES larger than the bulk of stuff in my closet.  ("But, but... I can still get into THOSE pants, and they're not this size.")  But I took my tape measure and the sizing charts seriously, and bought some stuff that should actually FIT.

Promises to get in shape are really easy, but being honest about the body one has GOT has been surprisingly difficult.

Besides, I can always take the waistbands in....