Saturday, October 28, 2006

And let me be the first to wish you...


Seems I found the world calendar I was wondering about.  The folks at Earth Calendar keep track of whatever people are celebrating.  (Oddly enough, they seem to have omitted Botswana Day.  Nobody's perfect.)

But when I looked up tomorrow -- that being October 29th, I am told that, in addition to it being National Youth Day in Liberia, and Creole Day in Dominica, it is also International Internet Day.  International -- so's we can all celebrate it.  (Do not confuse with International Internet free day, which is supposed to be the last Sunday in January.  The URL for that site doesn't work anymore.  Probably not supposed to.)  I can't find any websites at all for International Internet Day (beyond some clipart), so I'm thinking we're left to our own devices to figure out how to best celebrate.  Perhaps by participating in some e-commerce or interactive gaming.  Or maybe we should be focussing on the international aspect -- so now would be a good time to email folks in another country.

In any event, Happy International Internet Day y'all.  And many more.

Cemetery Traffic

Went to the theatre tonight.  (I do that.  It's that whole critic thing.)  Theatre in question was on Santa Monica Boulevard, about a mile and half off the freeway.

I hit the off-ramp with a good 20 minutes to go before the show.  The fact that I had to wait for the light at the end of the ramp to go through three cycles before I even got off the freeway suggested that I might have a little trouble making it.

I'd left a little early -- figuring that, y'know, Hollywood on a Saturday night might be a bit crowded.  I was envisioning some pre-Halloween weekend parties at the various clubs that line Santa Monica -- but the theatre was really before I'd hit the club area, so I figured I'd be ok.

Traffic inched down Santa Monica for the first mile -- until I saw what the hold-up was.  Cops standing in the middle of the street directing traffic.  TONS of pedestrians waiting around to cross the street.  A few in costumes; most not.  Many with small children -- clearly, this was not your Hollywood Party crowd.

And they were all heading to ... the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Oh!  Dia De Los Muertos!  ("Merde," I thought, mixing my languages.)  You gotta remember when you live in such a multi-cultural mecca as Los Angeles, to keep an eye on the world calendar.  (Y'know -- someone ought to make one of those.  A calendar that lists all the holidays celebrated everywhere.  'cause, I mean, it'd be fun knowing it's Botswana Day.)  (I thought I was making that up -- Botswana Day.  But I googled it.  September 30.  Now you know.)

I digress.  If'n you wanna learn more about Dia De Los Muertos, here's the website for the event I peeked at while waiting for traffic to crawl across the street.  Says here that Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the only cemetery in the country that opens its gates for a Dia De Los Muertos celebration, and from the looks of the images in their gallery, they really go all out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Yogurt Guy Must Go!

I have a container of yogurt for breakfast every morning.  Yoplait.  (I am partial to the Harvest Peach and Blackberry Harvest, but Strawberry and Raspberry are also in my regular rotation.) 

I bring one to work every day.  Sometimes I forget, and I have to buy one at work.  This is a little annoying as the cafeteria at work charges rather more, but at least I get my Yoplait.

Until a couple weeks ago.  The cafeteria stopped carrying Yoplait.  I forgot my yogurt and had to chose between two other brands.  And I'm not talking Dannon or some other normal yogurt.  I'm talking "Driftwood Dairy" and "Yonson."  No, I hadn't heard of them either.

I bought the Driftwood Dairy (strawberry).  It was a larger container than the Yoplait and cost less -- which made me suspicious from the start.

I tried a spoonful.  Kinda gross.  It wasn't nearly as creamy as Yoplait and it certainly didn't taste as good.  I managed to get through about a 1/3 of it before I just tossed it.

I remembered my Yoplait every day since.  Until today.  (When I, for no known reason, remembered to pack my lunch and my water, but didn't throw a yogurt in there.)  So, I went to the cafeteria.  Same choices.  I picked up a Yonson (peach) and hoped for the best.  When the cafeteria lady was ringing me up, I complained about the lack of Yoplait.  She said they had a new supplier who didn't carry Yoplait.  I told her to deman Yoplait, because this stuff was crap.  She asked if I'd tried the other one.  I conceded that the Driftwood was crap, and I was trying the Yonson today (with reservations).  She said they were trying to work something out to get Yoplait back.  I left, hoping that I had done my part to spur on the revolution.

Now, the Yonson is "fruit on the bottom."  So I expected to open the container and see yogurt, then have to stir up the fruit.  (I can do that.)  I take the lid off and it's ... words fail me.  Separated.  Orange in color.  Watery with curds in it.  I show it to a co-worker.  "They don't really expect me to eat this crap, do they?"  She looks at it and gives me the "I'm not gonna eat it" face.  I take a closer look at the container.  Expiration date:  October 13.  That would be, y'know thirteen days ago.

I go back to the cafeteria.  Find the same cafeteria lady.  Point out that the Yonson she sold me is two weeks old.  She can't believe it.  Says it was just delivered on Tuesday.  She gives me my money back and I run off to my office while she hurries off to check the remaining Yonsons on the shelf.  I can only hope this little error will go on the new supplier's record.  Ha.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Time for Another Weight Loss Entry

First, some good news:  I've improved one more notch on my belt.  Yay.

I've been asked if I have any particular weigh loss goals.  I have three.  I have no idea how far apart they are -- in fact, they might be the same.

First, I have a number in mind.  See, up until a couple years ago, I was gaining weight, but in a fairly steady, go-from-a-size-4-to-a-size-6-over-a-couple-of-years sort of way, that seemed to just be the product of growing older and perhaps eating too many french fries.  (And that was pretty much how I'd control it, too -- by cutting down on my french fries.)  But then, I started on a medication with the unfortunate side effects of increased appetite and increased lethargy, and all of a sudden, I put on something in the nature of 20 pounds in about six weeks.  Once I got my dosage straightened out, the weight sorta "plateaued," but I hadn't really been able to make it go back down until I went to that lifestyle health spa place with my dad.

So ... knock on wood ... I been losing weight ever since.  People have been noticing.  I forgot my Building ID at work the other day, so I had to go through the metal detector.  They made me take my belt off and my pants slid down to my hips -- it's a great feeling when the Court Security Officer says, "Wow!  You lost a lot of weight!"

Where was I?  Oh yeah, goals.  There's three.  The first is, I remember the actual number of pounds that the nurse got when she weighed me in at the doctor's office the day I got prescribed the medication that caused the weight gain.  That's a numerical goal, and I'm somewhere between 4 and 6 pounds away from it.  (As I've said before, my scale is not a model of accuracy.)

My second goal, which may be near that first one (I'm not sure) is that I want my rain pants to fit.  Back in October of 2004, I bought a pair of $100 rain pants.  This was astonishingly expensive, but in 2004, I was thinking, "Hey, I'll be this size for the rest of my life; I might as well spend a little more and get the high quality rain pants I can use forever."  Yeah.  Right.  Last time I tried, I couldn't get the damn things on -- nor could I put on the (also pricey) midweight fleece pants I'd bought to wear under them.  When I boxed up all my clothes that didn't fit for Goodwill, I saved the fleece pants and the rain pants -- because they weren't that tight and the idea I might be able to wear them again wasn't totally out of the question.... and because they were so darned expensive, I couldn't bear to let them go without trying to fit into them again.  As for approaching that goal, I haven't tried on the rain pants yet, but the fleece pants can, technically, be placed upon my person and zipped all the way.  (Side zippers.  Velcro closures above them.)  I say "technically" because they don't quite have the roominess that one expects is fleece pants, but I'm thinking that they may, at some point in the foreseeable future.  (Hopefully by next May, which is when I'm going on a vacation that will require them again.)

Which sorta leads us to the third weight loss goal.  I am, more or less, pretty content with the current eating plan.  It allows me to have a reasonable amount of snacks and desserts, so I don't feel like I'm starving myself or anything.  I hope that I can keep it up indefinitely -- the idea being that it wasn't intended as a short-term "diet," but as a long-term "new approach to food."  So the third weight loss goal is to pretty much keep losing weight until I plateau on this meal plan.  (When my ankle gets better, I'll be able to add exercise back into the mix -- but for now, all weight loss over here is food-related.)  I have no idea where that will be.  For all I know, in six pounds I'll stop losing weight and my rain pants would fit -- which would mean that all three weight-loss goals are the same.  Who knows?  I'll just have to wait and find out what a healthy weight for me turns out to be.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oh yeah, THAT's why

So, last night, I'm minding my own business, eating dinner, watching Lost, and wondering (yet again) whether selling my condo and buying a house won't turn out to be a huge mistake.  I mean, it'll cost me more in the monthly payment (largely because of the major increase in property taxes) and I haven't really taken into consideration how many other expenses come with home ownership (gardener, increased utility bills... geez, I'll have to pay for garbage service...)  I know this is all perfectly normal home-buying jitters, but I'm still doing it anyway.  So I'm sitting there thinking about how my condo is perfectly fine, and I've got some friends here, and why do I want to leave them, and ...

... and then I hear it.  From the unit above mine.  Bedsprings.  Squeaking.  Loudly.  Slowly at first, then faster, Faster, FASTER!!!  I have to pause the TV because it's really hard to concentrate on Lost at this point. Maybe moving isn't such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ms. Perfect and Her Invisible Cat

What with college and dorms and post-college apartments and all that stuff, I've moved a lot.  But I haven't lived in a home that was being shown for sale since I was eight years old and we sold our house in Maryland and moved to California.

I don't remember how long the house was on the market with prospective buyers coming by.  I do remember, though, that my parents had this little phrase to describe the mode our family was in.  And that was, "Mr. and Mrs. Perfect and Their Invisible Children."  Because, y'know, Mr. & Mrs. Perfect certainly don't leave a mess in the bathroom.  And invisible kids' beds are neatly made and their clothes are always in the hamper.  So, during the time our house was on the market, mom and dad would remind us that we had to keep the place looking perfectly neat and tidy by referring to the family as "Mr. & Mrs. Perfect and Their Invisible Children."

Fast forward some thirty years and my condo is on the market -- has been for one whole week.  And during this week, I have spent every morning: folding my bath towel and hanging it neatly on the bar; hiding my shampoo and other bath stuff in a drawer (bought a little plastic bin for it); vacuuming the litter from around the litter box (just bought a Swiffer Carpet Flick because I'm sick of daily vacuuming); sweeping the litter near the litter box (that cat can sure track litter); opening all the blinds; cleaning off the kitchen counter; and otherwise making the place look like it's not really lived in....

.... or lived in by Ms. Perfect and Her Invisible Cat

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Monday, I had the day off.  Columbus Day.

My real estate agent was hosting a "broker caravan" in my condo (when about a dozen brokers come by to check it out) so I needed to be out of there.

So I went to Disneyland.  I'd just renewed my Annual Pass, so, you know, I have to go a bunch of times to make the investment worth it.

They have this one place in California Adventure where you go into a small auditorium and some dude stands on the stage and tells you all about animation.  For awhile, it was a real live actual animator, who would draw something while he talked to you.  Later, they changed it to where there was just some film running where a Disney character (Mushu, from Mulan) does this introduction to animation.  He exchanges a couple lines with a live human being who claims to be an animator, but the live human being could really be anyone in a Disney outfit, as all he has to do is stand there and feed Mushu his cues.

Well they've finally changed the attraction into what it always should have been, which is where they pass out paper and pencils and teach you how to draw a Disney character.  And it's real basic follow-the-steps, draw-a-circle-here sort of stuff, and by the time 20 minutes have passed, you walk out with your very own more-or-less recognizable attempt at a Disney character.  I here proudly display my Donald Duck.

Yeah, I don't think the animators have anything to be afraid of either.  But it was a really fun thing to do, and the kids and grown-ups were totally into it, which is what Disneyland is all about.

The other new thing they've added is the Jedi Training Academy.  It's over in Tomorrowland, on the stage where they used to have a Buzz Lightyear show.  I actually ran over there a few minutes late, so I missed the beginning, but it was pretty easy to figure out what had happened.

There were about 20 kids gathered on the raised stage -- each one wearing a brown Padawan robe over his or her street clothes.  And holding a plastic "training" lightsaber.  They had apparently all been taught a lightsaber combination, which I subsequently came to know by heart (left shoulder, right shoulder, left leg, duck!, left leg again, right leg, go for the head).  There's this Jedi master guy on stage who apparently taught them, and a second Jedi master lady who is standing right below him in front of the stage.

OK, so, right around the time I get there, the kids have all memorized the combination, and then "Dark Side of the Force" music comes on and two stormtroopers run in.  Then the center of the stage lifts up revealing a platform with Darth Vader in it.  (Uh-oh.)  Vader starts saying ... well, he starts saying some classic pre-recorded Darth Vader lines.  I don't think they even bothered getting James Earl Jones to record them, they just used stuff from the movies.  So Vader's saying all this stuff to the kids about joining him over on the Dark Side.  And Jedi master guy tells Vader that he better leave 'cause they've got these, like, 20 well-trained Jedi warriors here so Vader is outnumbered.  So then Vader says something else ominous and pre-recorded, and Darth Maul comes out to join him.

OK, now the fun starts.  Vader is on stage; Maul is in front of the stage, right below him.  Jedi master guy on stage; Jedi master lady right below him.  Then they call over the kids, two at a time.  One kid stands in front of Vader, another one stands in front of Maul, and they do the little light-saber fight they'd been taught (with Jedi master guy calling out each move, in case they forget).  And after each set of kids successfully does battle, the audience just goes crazy applauding them.

So this one kid goes up to fight Vader, and he reaches down to "Activate" his lightsaber.  (This basically involves flicking it so that the telescoping "blade" appears.)  And the kid drops his saber on the ground.  Jedi master guy looks up at the audience, waves his hand slowly and goes, "You saw nothing."  Ah, we saw nothing, yes. 

I totally gotta hand it to the guys playing Darth Vader and Darth Maul, because they managed to set up the blows for the kids to parry no matter how fast or slow the kid was.  And, at one point, the stormtroopers starting approaching, as if they were gonna help Vader fight the kid, so the kid pushes his hands out in their direction ("Force push," says Jedi master guy) and the stormtroopers promptly fall backward with perfect timing.

The whole thing was just brilliant -- and I bet there were a lot of adults out there who wish they'd been able to battle Darth Vader too.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Without Looking, Tell Me What Kind of Drawer Pulls You Have

.... that question was on my mind for about a half hour while I was in Target today.  I couldn't, for the life of me, remember what kind of drawer pulls I had in my bedroom.  But let's go back a bit and find out how I ended up there.

Today was Yom Kippur.  I, being a person of Jewishness, went to temple.  I also, being a person of soon-to-be-putting-her-condo-on-the-market-ness, had the cleaning lady come by to give the place a good once-over before I list the property.

Got home from services and the cleaning lady was still there.  Odd, as she's usually gone by then, but she was still cleaning.  (I have, totally, the bestest cleaning lady.)  I wanted to change out of my "temple attire" into something more comfortable, but, since she was still there, I kept the dress on.

Started rearranging knick-knacks on a shelf when she called me into the bedroom.  There was a small problem.  When she picked up my floor lamp to vacuum under it, the damn thing broke off its stand.

Cleaning lady was pretty upset about this, but, y'know, accidents happen.  Besides, the lamp was probably 10 years old; it totally lived out its useful life.  I told her not to worry, picked up the lamp, and headed downstairs with it.

I planned to throw it in the dumpster in the garage.  I could not do this because the dumpster was not in the garage.  Today was trash day, and someone had moved the overloaded dumpster to the street.  (I knew it was overloaded because, all over the garage floor, I saw pieces of glass from something I'd thrown out the other night.  I swept 'em up and went back to contemplating the lamp.)

I could take it to Goodwill, I figured.  Only needs some glue or a brace or something to put it back on its stand.  Still works.

Felt a little guilty about going to Goodwill just to ditch a broken lamp, so I went into my storage cage to see what else I could give them.  Hmmm, my old printer and scanner.  Won't be needing them.  Put the old printer and scanner in the back of my car, along with the lamp.  (Dress now covered in dust.  Oh well.)  Headed off to Goodwill.

Goodwill lady took the printer and scanner (and "miscellaneous bag of stuff" which I'd labelled for Goodwill a few years ago and had no freakin' idea what was in it -- turned out my old knife block was in there.  Let this be a lesson to you -- no reaching around in strange bags when you might come out holding a chef's knife.) -- anyway, she takes the printer, scanner, and bag, and then takes one look at the lamp and says, "We can't take that."

And I think, "Damn; she discovered my ruse to dump the busted lamp."

But that isn't it.  She didn't even notice it was broken; she said they don't accept that model.  She thinks Salvation Army might take it; they're just down the street.  She adds, "If I took it; I'd just dump it."

And I think, "That's ok with me."  So I tell her to go ahead and dump it.

She says her dumpster is full.  Says there's a dumpster at the end of the mini-mall.  ("But you didn't hear it from me.") 

Which is how I ended up, still wearing a lovely black dress, surreptitiously tossing a broken floor lamp into a dumpster behind a mini-mall.

Wiped my hands (tried not to wipe them on the dress) and went to Target to buy a new lamp -- as I don't think the Master Bedroom shows really well in the dark.

Took about 20 minutes of wandering aimlessly through Target before I found the lamp section.  (They are constantly reorganizing that store.  Can't find anything.)  And I see floor lamps there.  A nice, inexpensive lamp.  Available in several different colors: Black (no); maple with brushed nickel (no); brass (maybe?); or antiqued brass (uh-oh).

I know my bedroom set is wood, and would look nice with the maple.  (Might even be maple.)  But I know there's no brushed nickel in the bedroom.  What the hell are my drawer pulls?  Brass?  Antiqued brass?  Shoot.  I can't remember. 

I can't even remember their shape.  I stand there in Target, trying to envision my bedroom furniture.  I pull at an imaginary drawer -- is it a knob?  Is it a bar?  Is it one of them flappy bars?  (I don't think it's a flappy bar -- I don't remember the sound of them flapping back.)  I try to picture the dresser or the nightstand, and I can't get anywhere with it.  I'm sure I look like an idiot standing there in the Floor Lamps aisle, reaching out my hand to pull an imaginary knob or bar pull, but nothing feels right.

I buy the brass one and hope.

Come home and discover that, yes!  My drawer pulls are brass.  But ... well .. that's odd.  Why haven't I notice that before?

My dresser has the little flappy bar-pulls on it.  My matching nightstand has knobs.  Honest to goodness -- I bought this bedroom set three years ago -- it was the first matching set of furniture I ever bought -- and the pulls on the nightstand are completely different from the pulls on the dresser.

Oh great.  Something else to fix.