Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh yeah, that's professional

Turns out, I helped my boss write an article for a trade magazine, and they need photos of us to run with it.  My boss has a picture on file.  (Hell, he's got one on the wall, too.)

I, on the other hand, not so much.

Yesterday, I found out they needed the picture.  I had to deliver it today.  This gave me limited options.

When I got home from work last night, I was not exactly at my photogenic best.  It would be a total waste of time, I figured, to shower and do my hair at 9:00 p.m. to take a picture when I could take the picture this morning on my way to work.  Being all freshly showered and stuff.

It seemed like a good plan at the time.

So, I get out of the shower, put all sorts of "product" in my hair, throw on a nice blouse and a suit jacket (didn't need the skirt -- it's only a headshot) and got ready to take the picture.

I have a plethora of digital cameras to choose from.  I grab my main camera.  It's only 2.0 megapixels, but I like to travel with it because it's waterproof.  ANYWAY, I stand in the hallway, aim the camera in the vague direction of my head, and take a picture.

The camera turns off.  I turn it on again, look at the photo, delete the photo, aim the camera back at my head (with what I hope is slightly better aim) and take another picture.  Turns out I hadn't recharged the batteries on this thing, so now it was determined to shut off every time the flash went off. 

It wouldn't matter if I could just get a decent picture.  But I couldn't. 

The following is -- I kid you not -- one of the better ones:

Seriously.  You should see the lovely shots right up my nostrils.

Apparently, my arms are not long enough to do this properly.  I can't find a decent surface on which to put the camera (to do this on time-delay) and the cat has not yet mastered photography.

I give up on this camera.  I switch to the one built-in on my laptop.  Here, I can stand in front of a wall, hold my laptop in front of me, watch the image on the screen, and snag the photo when it actually looks right.  It's a perfect plan.

This was not the right time to discover the camera built-in on my laptop is broken.  Nothin' but blackness and static on the screen.  (I thought, "hmm, adjust the brightness."  Then it was whiteness and static.)

I only have one camera left.  A tiny little pocket camera about the size of ... the size of one of them new ipod shuffles.  It is very limited in what it can do -- but one thing it can do that the other camera can't is hook up to my PC and show me the picture on the screen.  The problem here is that its cord is very, very short, so I have to be very near my PC to take the picture.  If I take the picture sitting at my desk, you get a shot of the whole room behind me.

I curl up on the floor, wedging myself against the side of the sofa, where there's nothing but wall behind me.  Aim the camera at myself.  I've got a reasonably good angle on the screen, and from here, the photo doesn't look bad.

Until I actually open it up and take a look at it.

I mean, it's definitely an improvement.  But, y'know, flyaway hair, shiny white nose, and not exactly the smile I'm going for.

I give up.  I've run out of cameras.  I go back on the computer and look for anything where I can safely crop out my face.  I find one ... it's seven years old and I certainly can't use the original, but if I turn it into greyscale it looks just about ... right.

In case you were wondering, I would have serious copyright issues if I used the original:


Friday, November 24, 2006

Famous Last Words

I'm supposed to see my friend Tammy today.  But, with having a cold, we're not real sure that's going to happen.  I spoke to her on the phone last night, and we decided we'd talk this morning.  I told her that I could probably pump myself full of drugs and nobody would know that I'm sick, but it was up to her if she wanted to be around my possibly contagious self.

I had forgotten this adorable little quirk of mine that developed about ten years ago.  About one in three of my colds now include a couple days of laryngitis.

I do not know why this is.  (A stroll through webmd -- to check on the status of contagiousness -- suggests this is probably because I avoid nighttime decongestants early in the cold process unless I'm really really badly congested.  They tend to completely dry out my sinuses to the point of it getting painful, so I try to avoid overmedication.  But, apparently, this can send the, er, mucus, down into one's larynx.  Live and learn, huh?)

So, as of late last night -- no voice at all.  This weirded out the cat something fierce, as I usually talk encouragingly to her quite a bit.  (You know, "good girl!" when she happens to use the box in my presence -- that sort of thing.)  I whispered at her, but it isn't quite the same.  (I know this will come as a shock, but I don't think the cat actually understands my words.)

Got a decent night's sleep and I have a little voice left.  I don't know whether it's going to desert me again today.  The only way to find out is to use it, and I'd like to wait until Tammy calls before I make the foray into polysyllabic dialogue.  (I actually contemplated sending a text message explaining the situation, but since I've been capable of grunting this morning, we'll give words a shot.  She's pretty bright, Tammy is, and will likely catch on after a fairly raspy, "Hello.")

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good News/Bad News

The good news is:  I'm off jury duty.

The bad news is:  I'm home sick.

The ironic news is:  the former has nothing to do with the latter.

Was supposed to show up for jury duty on Wednesday morning.  Woke up sick.  I saw this coming.  I was kinda sick on Tuesday.  And I thought, "OK, I don't want to get sick -- but if I have to get sick, could I at least get sick on Wednesday to get out of jury duty?"  Seems that I, in fact, could.  Woke up sick on Wednesday.  No way I'm going in -- well, not true.  I could go in.  I could drug myself silly and drive the four miles to the courthouse, then infect everyone in the courtroom.  But, really, I would've called in sick to work, so I figured I should call in sick to jury duty.

I called the courtroom to which I had been assigned.  They weren't in.  I left a message.

I was supposed to be there at 9:00.  By 8:40, they still hadn't called back, and I was still in my pjs.  I figured I should call again.  If they wanted me there, I'd need at least fifteen minutes to put on a pair of sweats and drive over.

I called.  The person on the other end of the phone asked what I wanted.  I explained I'm a juror assigned to their courtroom and I'm sick.  I wanted to know what she wanted me to do.  She wanted to me on hold.  (I could do that.)

She comes back about five long minutes later.  Asks my name again.  I give it to her.  Says, "You're at home now?"  Yep.  Says, "In Pasadena?"  Right again.  Says, "And there's no way you can come in?"  I sigh.  "I guess I could come in if you want, but I'm sick."  (I didn't think this was a very difficult concept to get one's brain around.)  She then says, "Well, the judge told me to tell you that the case has resolved, so your jury obligation is complete." 

Now, under normal circumstances, the preceeding sentence would have been cause for the dance of joy.  (Indeed, when I passed the news on to my boss, he said I made his whole weekend.)  But I was a little peeved that I was getting the third degree before she passed this info on to me.  Like, was she testing to see if I was really sick?  Would I have an immediate recovery upon learning jury duty was over?  And what's up with the whole asking-me-if-I-can-come-in thing if she knows that the case has already settled?  (Did she want me to get up off my couch and spread my germs all over the courthouse just so I could go into the courtroom and listen to the judge thank me for my willingness to serve?)

On the other hand, my boss (after celebrating the fact that I would not be off on jury duty for six weeks) asked how I was spending my Wednesday.  I told him that I was sick at home, but I had brought some work home that I was getting a start on.  And he, bless his heart, said, "You just worry about getting well."

So, yeah, my boss.  Something I'm thankful for.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Well, I thought it was funny

OK, this is probably going to take longer to set up than it's worth, but it gave me a great big laugh this morning, and I've been giggling at it for the rest of the day.

I've been watching the new Doctor Who ("new Who" to its friends) on the SciFi channel.  Damned entertaining.  It's a British series, so we're a bit behind on getting it in the US.  The season two DVD is not available until January in the US.  But it is available in the UK in just a couple days.  And I just happen to have a code-free DVD player (which enables me to watch DVDs from other countries).  And I might just deserve a treat within a couple days ...

... I'll probably know on Wednesday.  I got called for jury duty last week and I'm part of panel that will go through jury selection on Wednesday.  A panel for a 30-day trial.  That's 30 court days, people -- six weeks.  And with time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're looking at a trial that might run into freakin' January.  I am not happy about this.  So, I've decided that, if I get stuck on this jury, I'll treat myself to the British release of the season two new Who DVD.

Naturally, this involved looking for said item on Amazon's UK site.  Which led me to the whole "Doctor Who store" on Amazon's UK site.  Because, really, what's a shiny new version of a cult favorite TV show without calendars, action figures, and all sorts of other merchandise?

Which brings us to the sonic screwdriver.  For which I must explain a teensy bit about Doctor Who.  The protagonist is a dude from another planet, who books around the space/time continuum in a space/time machine, having various and sundry adventures.  (Mostly involving aliens who conveniently speak with British accents, and a surprising number of visits to London throughout the ages.  Funny, really, I don't think I ever noticed how odd it was that the space aliens coming to Earth always landed in America until I started watching a series produced in another country.)  He's from a race they call "Time Lords" -- again, the show is British, they can call themselves Lords without it sounding nearly as pretentious as when Michael Flatley does it.

Now, the Doctor (as he's called) isn't the sort who goes around shooting and/or sleeping with every alien he encounters.  He's more of a thinker than a fighter -- more of a Sam Beckett than a Captain Kirk -- and his main tool of choice is the "sonic screwdriver."  When activated, a pretty blue light comes out of it, capable of opening any lock he's got to get through, or sealing up any lock behind him (when the evil aliens are on the other side of the door).  It's actually quite the multi-purpose tool -- sort of a space-age Swiss Army Knife.  And, occasionally, it can be used as a weapon, although not a real blow-big-holes-in-the-bad-guys sort of thing.  (Leading to one memorable encounter wherein the Doctor and a space cowboy type were standing back-to-back, trying to fend off a group of approaching baddies.  The space cowboy takes out his great big sonic blaster gun, and leans over his shoulder to ask the Doctor what type of big ol' sonic weapon he's got -- hopefully rattling off the names of big sonic shoot-'em-ups.  The Doctor looks at his sonic screwdriver and says, rather defensively, "Look, it's sonic, ok?")

All right then.  Here's me, poking through the Doctor Who store on 

They've got the Electronic Sonic Screwdriver, which is a pen that writes in UV ink that reveals when you turn on the blue light.  They've got another model that just lights up the room with its eerie blue light.  Both perfectly acceptable merchandise tie-ins.

....and then they've got ...

The Sonic Screwdriver Ultimate Bath Gift Set

I kid you not.  Load it up with "bath fizzers" which you then shoot out.  "Finish your Dr Who bath experience by washing with the Intergalactic Cleansing Agent."  And, what tops it all off is the slogan:  "become a bathroom Time Lord!"

Friday, November 10, 2006


So, last year, I had this really cool idea.  What if I take one of those days like Columbus Day (which I get off, but not everyone does) and go to some massive Outlet Mall and do all my Christmas shopping before the rush? 

I tried it last year.  It was a remarkable success.  Although I didn't finish all my holiday shopping, I got a good lead on it and was able to complete the rest on the internet.

Totally forgot about it when Columbus Day rolled around this year.  But today was Veterans Day!

There's an outlet mall about an hour's drive from here.  Got myself a real cheap hotel room (their rate included dinner and breakfast) and drove out there last night.  Got a good night sleep, woke up bright and early, had my free eggs and fruit, and was at the outlet mall ten minutes before it opened.

Dude, I parked right next to the wheelchair spots.  That's how early I got there.

Had a list of names.  No real ideas for presents.  Just names.  And there were two things I wanted to buy for myself.  Just two.  (Last time, I got a little carried away on the shopping-for-myself front, so limits seemed in order.)  I needed to buy some sort of shoes that I could wear in the rain and still wear the ankle brace (flat boots that lace up) and maybe, if I'm really good, a dress.  I'm getting kinda tired of wearing my two "one-size slimmer" dresses to the theatre, and, besides, I need something with sleeves as winter is coming up.

My mother says I am a good gift-shopper.  I am not.  I never know what to get people.  The only strategy I can use is to walk into every store (even stores I think I have no interest in) and scope the place out -- in the hopes that some item that I see will trigger a thought with respect to some person on my list.  (Often, the item won't be the right gift, but it will make me think of the right gift -- which I'll then buy online, now that I know what I'm looking for.)  The one exception is that I don't walk into every clothing store -- unless I'm planning on getting someone a particular clothing item, I really don't do it.  (Ihave enough trouble buying clothes for myself -- way too much pressure to figure out someone else's size and style.)  But, even with clothing stores eliminated, walking through a massive outlet mall store by store is gonna take some time.

About eight hours, as it turned out.

Very slow going at the beginning.  The third store I walked into ("Cost Plus World Imports") did not trigger any thoughts for any names on my list -- but, it triggered thoughts for about six people I'd accidentally omitted from the list.  Great.  My list is expanding and I still haven't bought anything.

And the walk-into-nearly-every-store-and-let-it-just-wash-over-me thing did pay off in a couple of unexpected ways.  Pretty early on, I walked through a store selling quartz jewelry and rain sticks and various touchy feely items, and I saw something that would be really ideal for a friend of mine.  Except it was a rather heavy item.  I bought it, and the woman at the counter promised to hide it back there for me until I came by to pick it up later.

By about the third shoe warehouse store (apparently no shoe brands have their own stores now -- it's all those warehouse-type places), I scored a pair of low, flat, black, lace-up, guaranteed waterproof, Timberland boots.  They're ugly, but who am I to complain?  It isn't like I'll be wearing them with skirts or anything.  The damn things were reasonably priced and now the stupid ankle brace won't get soggy in the rain.

Almost halfway through the mall, I found some stuff for some folks at work.  By now, I'm balancing four bags of presents and one bag of Timberlands and I figure I'm never getting through this mall hauling all this stuff -- but, of course, I'm at the farthest possible point for hauling it all back to my car.  It's about now that I see the SmartCarte stand.  You know, like those rental luggage carts you see at airports.  This is a fairly slim cart (so it can get through narrow aisles) with a huge, industrial strength bag hanging off it.  For three bucks.  It irks me to pay three bucks for this, but I need it.  I can even go back and pick up those rocks from the touchy feely place...

Except with SmartCartes, you gotta rent the first one in line.  And the first one in line has a whole bunch of, like, rock salt (that's what it looks like, anyway) in the bottom of the bag.  No way I'm subjecting my delicate purchases to that.  I stand around for awhile hoping someone else will rent that first cart (leaving me the clean one behind it) but there are no takers.  I slog on.

I continue around the next corner into another store.  It's a shop that has all sorts of T-shirts, and sweatshirts emblazoned with logos from various colleges.  Now, my friend Peg went to UC Berkeley and her husband went to UCLA.  Thought I might get them some good-natured rivally type items. 

OK, Peg, if you're reading -- this store sucks.  For men, they've got college T-shirts, and college long-sleeve T-shirts, and college sweatshirts, and college fleece, and college sweatpants ...  And for women, they've got T-shirts that say, "I'm a virgin, but this is an old T-shirt."  Um, guys?  Women started going to college, like, years ago.

So I walk out of there feeling all discriminated against, and I walk right into ... another SmartCarte rack.  And there's some guy there with a free cart, just sorta staring at it.  I'm not clear on why this is (maybe he was trying to return his cart to the wrong end of the rack) -- but he's complaining that there's this loose cart off the rack and I'm all, "Hey, let me take that off your hands."  Woo-hoo!  Free cart!  I gently pile my purchases in the bag -- it's not even half-full -- and head on out with a spring in my step.

It was around here that, after several annoying false starts in warehouse-style clothing stores, I finally found a dress!  Off the freakin' rack.  (Size 8 -- no tummy panel!)  It's black and it's long-sleeved, and it fits, and I actually look kinda slim in it.  I admire my profile in the changing room mirror for a good long time, and buy it.  I also tried on ... in what I was certain was overconfidence ... a straight skirt.  (I can hear the gasps.)  I've been wearing flared skirts for, like, three years, due to the aforementioned big fat ass.  (Hell, long before the weight gain that led to the weight loss ... I been only wearing flare skirts.)  So, here's me trying on a straight skirt.  And it fits.  (OK, it was a size larger than the flared dress -- but there will be no raining on this parade.)  Very exciting.  Nice black wool straight skirt.  Can wear it to all sorts of theatre events.  (Just not in the rain.  I'm tellin' you -- them boots are ugly.)  Even bought a really cute jacket that I can wear with both skirt and dress.  Amazingly pleased with myself and my very first clothing purchase since I got on this diet, I move on.

After a lunch break (salad, of course -- nothing motivates you to keep to the diet like looking good), I got back on the gift bandwagon.  Ended up getting seven more presents (and only one was for someone I added to the list when I saw the item) and hauled my now heaping cart back over to the touchy feely store to pick up those rocks.  Left the mall at 6:00 -- exactly eight hours after I'd begun -- having acquired twelve gifts and the two things I wanted for me.

.... and, hopefully, I can avoid the mall scene until January.

Quick Updates

So, Wil asks:

How goes the condo-selling / house-buying venture?

Any return of the pukies since her majesty went off the special diet?

And how in heck are you doing with the awards banquet?

(By the way, Wil, are you still journalling?  Ain't been receiving none of those updates from your 'blog of late.)

To answer:

1.  Slowly but, hopefully, surely.  Things were pretty dead around here for about ten days or so (no agents coming to see the place), so we dropped the price, punched up the listing, and scheduled an open house for this Sunday.

I am, apparently, a smart ass.  (Yeah, I know.  Came as a shock to me, too.)  My agent called me up to check in, and I was complaining about the lack of activity around here.  Said, "It's vewy, vewy qwiet."

So then, of course, I added, "...I'm hunting wabbits."

Silence comes down the phone at me.  She asks me to repeat what I said, "Er... never mind."

2.  Not so much, but I wouldn't want to tempt fate by even discussing it.  Actually, the special diet (for my Purry Little Princess) was not so much to prevent the cat barf, but to prevent the "inappropriate urination."  Cat barf happens.  I think it may be happening less because Jasmine has finally gotten to the point where she actually likes being brushed.  Cats are creatures of habit so we've gotten into the routine of sitting down on the couch for a brushing as soon as I get home every day.  She loves it.  Jumps on the couch waiting for me when I walk in -- even meowing at me to get a move on if I happen to stop at the phone to check my messages or something.  I don't care.  More hair on the brush means less hair in the kitty digestive system.

Have I ever told you guys my theory on cat insides?  I've discovered that a fairly good (although not foolproof) predictor of kitty barf is if, um, if I don't see any cat poop in the box the night before.  No cat poop at night puts me on "cat barf watch" the next morning.  So I figure the inside of the cat is this great big tube running from one end to the other -- if something can't go out one way ...

3.  Ah, the Awards ... Now, I do not discuss the Awards here -- for fear anything I say may come back to haunt me in the real world.  I was going to say something like "we may have a location," but even that is tipping my hand.  Oy.

4.  OK, you didn't ask, but I need to give a quick diet update -- it'll make the next entry make more sense.  Here's the thing.  Ever since I've put on the weight, I've been wearing the same seven pairs of pants (four jeans, three khakis) over and over again.  This because they are Land's End Custom Clothing (i.e. custom made to fit my big fat ass).  There's also a couple of dresses in the rotation -- but they're not regular dresses, they're "one-size-slimmer" dresses that have a built-in slimming panel (I believe the word they're avoiding is "girdle") underneath the dress.  I would call them my "fat girl" dresses, but, actually, I've got a couple other dresses (big, roomy numbers) that go by that name.  Anyway, that's been my wardrobe for some time.  Conveniently, the pants (particularly the khakis) are sliding down as the weight comes off.  I haven't bought any new clothes yet.  This because -- well, I don't want to invest in new, smaller clothes until I know the size I'm going to settle at.  (Hopefully, I'm still in transition.)  Also because I haven't been exercising -- I've only been dieting.  This means the weight has come off (about sixteen pounds! yay!) but my body has totally been left to its own devices as to where to take the weight from.  Which has resulted in certain parts of me slimming at a different rate than others.  A few weeks ago, I was in the mall and thought I'd see if I could fit my butt into a pair of Size 10 jeans.  The good news was:  I could!  The mixed blessing was:  my waist was a Size 6.  So, I mean, it's back to the Custom Jeans for me.  (I could order another pair in my new size -- but it'll take six weeks to get here...)

Monday, November 6, 2006

Arsenio Hall

Do you remember Arsenio Hall?  Used to have that late-night talk show?  Audience in the "dog pound" would bark at him? 

Eh, you had to be there.

And this one time, he had Eddie Murphy on the show.  And although the Arsenio Hall Show was much more of an entertainment show than a political show (Arsenio was not exactly the Jon Stewart of his time), Arsenio asked Eddie about voting in the upcoming election.  And Eddie said he didn't vote.

Eddie's excuse for not voting was that elections are all fixed anyway and your vote doesn't matter (an excuse that sounds rather more plausible now than it used to -- Arsenio was off the air long before hanging chads and Diebold machines).  And Arsenio did not let him get away with it -- told him that he was a role model for a lot of young people and he should encourage them to vote, rather than modelling a cynical attitude that would just perpetuate under-voting by the young African-American demographic.

Good for him for standing up to Eddie Murphy -- who was both a friend of his and a much bigger star -- on national TV.  Boo to Eddie Murphy for not giving a damn.

I gained a lot of respect for Arsenio Hall that day.  Woof!  Woof!  Woof!