Monday, January 29, 2007

Glamour Shots -- the end of THAT story

Yeah, so, I made Glamour Shots redo the photos because of the little speck on one of them.  (And they're both on the same piece of paper.  That's right -- you buy two 5 x 7s and the cheap weasels won't even separate 'em with a nice paper-cutter for you -- they leave you to it with your scissors.)  Photos were ready on, uh, must have been Thursday.

So I go to the mall to pick them up after work on Thursday.  I get there around 7:00.  I have two hours before the place closes.  I need to pick up a frame because I'm going to see my mom on Saturday and it would be nice to give it to her all framed and stuff.

On my way over to Glamour Shots -- inside the mall -- I pass a Carlton Cards store.  They have a bunch of frames -- including a decent one with lots of open curlicues on it, except it's in a matte pewtery sort of color, and I'm really looking for bronze to set off the sepia.

Here's a tip:  if you ever think, "Gee, what a lovely sepia photo -- I think I'll buy it," first put a little thought into where you're going to get a frame for the damn thing.

I get the photos at Glamour Shots.  I hobble on over to Macy's at the other side of the mall, thinking I'll get a nice frame, then grab some dinner in the food court, then head on home.

Riiiiight.  I stand there in Macy's for about a half hour, holding my little photo up against all the frames in there.  Silver?  No.  Gold?  No.  Black? ...ok, MAYBE Black, but the black has a little bit of silver or gold on it, and what we really need here is bronze.  Trudge out of Macy's in disgust. 

Go into "Things Remembered," thinking I might get a frame I could even personalize to mom there.  Wood frames?  No.  Silver frame?  No.  Shiny Blue frame?  No.  Shiny Red frame? .... ok, MAYBE shiny red.  (Shiny red as in reddish chrome, not shiny red as in nail polish.)  Except they've only got shiny red in 8 x 10 and 4 x 6.  I go up to the lady at the desk and ask if they've got shiny red in 5 x 7.  Now, she can't just look at her stock; she needs to get the product number to type it into her computer.  So she starts flipping through pages in the "Frames" section of the inventory book.  She goes right past it.  I can see this from the other side of the counter, even though I'm looking at the book upside down.  She finishes and says, "I can't find it."  I end up walking her back through the book to find it.  (That page is silver, turn the page; ok, black, turn the page; ok, blue, keep going.  See!  Red!  Now, look at the one in the middle of the page.  Between the 8 x 10 and the 4 x 6.  Yay you!)  So she finds it, types it in.  No 5 x 7 shiny red in stock.  Sigh.

Off to Hallmark.  Off to JC Penney.  Nothing and nothing, although I spend quite a bit of time in Penney's since their frame section is so disorganized.  (A 50% off sale will do that to you.)  Finally, I realize it's about 8:45 -- dinner is totally out, and I better get a frame and get the heck out of this mall before I get locked in.

I go back to the very first store -- Carlton Cards -- and buy the pewter frame.

Friday night, I'm out to dinner with friends, who suggest I go to Aaron Brothers.  (We got an Aaron Brothers?  Yeah, apparently within walking distance of my condo.  Who knew?)  So, on my way to the airport on Saturday, I stop off at Aaron Brothers.  Success!  A 5 x 7 frame with all the open curlicues in bronze.  Hooray!  I reframe the photo right there, throw the pewter frame in my trunk, and head off to the airport.

Can't show you the frame 'cause mom has it now.  Here's the pic:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

[Name Withheld] is a Poopyhead

Friday, I got another offer on my condo (yay!)

Name Withheld submitted a reasonable offer, and wanted to close escrow in thirty days.

I pretty much had a coronary thinking about the idea of packing up everything I owned and moving in thirty days, while I'm still very busy at work and trying to co-produce an awards show.

I submitted a reasonable counteroffer, and wanted to extend escrow another two weeks or so.

I was told that Name Withheld would be submitting one more counter (on price) but was cool with everything else.

Name Withheld's top price, it appeared, was pretty much my bottom price.  So it looked like we'd have a deal.

I came home that night -- breathed some Kitty Filtered Air -- and got the emailed counteroffer.  It had the price I expected, and no other changes.

I was prepared to sign it.


Except the initial offer had said that *I* would be responsible for any homeowners association special assessments that came into being prior to the close of escrow.  Now, there was a teensy little problem with this -- because our association is currently considering changing a fraction of our NORMAL monthly paying INTO a special assessment.  The total monthly payment would stay the same -- it would just be characterized differently.  I wanted to make sure that Name Withheld understood that I wouldn't pay for THIS special assessment.  And I wanted to make sure of this before I signed the counteroffer -- because I was getting a vibe from Name Withheld that she'd be one of those people who would take me to court over this.

A flurry of emails and phone calls follow.  At first, my agent explains it wrong to her agent.  Then I explain it right to her agent.  Then her agent contacts Name Withheld.  Then silence.  I go out to dinner, glued to my cell phone.  My agent finally calls to tell me that Name Withheld will get word back to her agent the next morning.  Meantime, the counteroffer is set to expire at 11:00 a.m. 

Next morning happens.  Nothing at 9:00.  Nothing at 10:00.  Nothing at 11:00.  Around 11:15, I hear from my agent.  Name Withheld thinks that since her original offer said that I would be responsible for any special assessments, if this special assessment goes through, I should have to pay for it.  Totally ignoring that this so-called "special assessment" would just be renaming of part of the regular dues.

Well, now I've got a bit of a problem.  (Breathe more kitty filtered air.)  You see, we haven't actually voted the special assessment.  And it would be good to vote for this -- if we changed some of the regular fees into a special assessment, it would both (a) put a definite ending date on this part of our dues; and (b) make certain the money is earmarked for our reserve fund.  On the other hand, I could vote and lobby against this -- or at least vote that it not go into effect until, say, after the close of escrow -- in order to save myself from having to pay for it.  All because Name Withheld is being a poopyhead and deciding that she SHOULDN'T pay for fees she'd already been ready to pay, just because the fees might conveniently be called something else.

I decide that accepting her offer and voting against the proposal would be, y'know, wrong.  So, I go back into the email/phone call pipeline and pass on the information that I'd be happy to accept Name Withheld's offer as long as she agrees to pay the same amount of money in monthly dues, no matter what the dues are called.

And I wait. 

And wait.

And wait.

And while I'm waiting, I start to think that I don't even want Name Withheld to go ahead with the sale.  One of the things Name Withheld put in her offer is for me to remove a built-in wall unit and do all necessary related repairs.  And I had thought, yeah, I could do this.  But now I'm starting to think, "Man, removing the wall unit will be a serious pain the butt, because I'll have the repaint the wall behind it and lay some new carpet under it."  (When I had the place recarpeted, they just went around the wall unit.)  And, yeah, I have extra carpet bits, but now I'd have to pay someone to lay ten feet of carpet.  Not to mention that I'm starting to have real doubts as to if Name Withheld would actually go through with the sale, and then where would I be if I had removed the damn wall unit for her?

I'm about to take another toke off the cat when my agent calls.  Name Withheld has decided she doesn't want to buy the place.



Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kitty-Filtered Air

A little while after I got Jasmine, a friend -- noticing that I was stressed -- suggested that I breathe some kitty-filtered air.

I replied, "Huh?"

"You take the kitty," he explained, "and hold her in your arms, face-up."

"Uh-huh," I said, dubiously.

"Then you bury your face in the kitty belly and breathe kitty-filtered air."


I admit, I felt ridiculous trying it.  One of those things you do when you're alone but you still look over your shoulder to make sure nobody catches you doing it.

And it works.

OK, yes, I know.  The kitty does not actually filter the air.  But it is a remarkable cure for stress.  Every once in awhile, I'll even find myself suggesting to someone else, "Y'know, you could really use some kitty-filtered air."  Calms you right down like nothing else. 

Which is my way of saying I've been breathing kitty-filtered air quite a bit today.  Don't want to OD on it or anything, but that's some high quality stuff, man.  I'll let y'all in on the details when I'm able, but right now, I've got the kitty filtering system working overtime.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Well, Now I've Screwed Up The Progress of Scientific Research

Went to the mall today to pick up the Glamour Shots pics, only to find a small speck on the photo and I'll be damned if I'm paying that kind of money for something specked.  After the girl behind the desk unsuccessfully tried to rub said speck off with her shirt or scratch it off with her finger, she offered to reprint the photo.  Which, if it wasn't necessary before her attempts at fixing it, most likely was definitely necessary now.  So I'll have to wait a few more days to get that one.

On my way out of the mall, I stopped in The Body Shop.  Looked at various fragrancy things, but didn't buy anything.

Now, frequent followers of my life might recall (I can't find the entry easily or I'd link to it) that I totally dig the Body Shop's Satsuma scent.  You may also recall that I'm totally digging the second season of the new "Doctor Who" (starring David Tennant).  Now, my sister and brother-in-law got me the DVD of second season "Doctor Who" for Hanukkah, which goodie just arrived by mail, courtesy of a mid-January release.  And was, therefore, watched by me for several hours last night.  I mention this because, as it happens, the first episode of second season "Doctor Who" actually has a satsuma (which looks suspiciously like a clementine tangerine, but is, apparently different -- at least according to the produce section of my local market) in it.  OK, got all that?  Good.

So, here's me in The Body Shop, sniffing all their products, paying particular attention to the satsuma line.  Which, naturally, recalls the episode of "Doctor Who" I'd watched the other night, what 'cause it had a satsuma in it.  And, as I leave The Body Shop, and start wandering past The Sharper Image, my mind wanders -- as minds are wont to do -- onto the other things I'd watched on the DVD the other night: the deleted scenes; the outtakes; all that other stuff.  I recall bits that made me laugh, including an amusing little throwaway line in which The Doctor suggests he's sexy and David Tennant accompanies this with a cute little wink.

At this moment, I am approached in the mall by two teenagers; one has a clipboard.  I'm a little startled by this, but I always stop in malls for teenagers with clipboards.  And the clipboardedone says, "Hi.  I'm doing a project for my psychology class.  Right before we started talking to you, what were you thinking about?"

And I pause for a second and say, ".... deciding whether I should go into Sharper Image."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Well, that's gonna slow me down a bit

Back to the ankle ligament.

That would be the ligament that I pulled some years ago, and healed by wearing a lace-up ankle brace for six weeks.  Then reinjured back in August.  The tried the ankle brace again for six weeks without success.  Then went to the doctor, who said to go with the ankle brace for six more weeks, and this time add Advil.

We were supposed to see progress in three weeks.

We didn't.

Nine weeks in the effin' ankle brace and I've got nothing to show for it except a lot of skin irritation from the damn thing.

Now, I returned to the doctor, who came up with the following:

It's probably still just a pulled ligament.  Certainly, that's what the x-rays say.

He can take care of that with a steroid injection.

Or a cast.

It could, conceivably, be a little "dent" or "divot" in the bone.  It would not show up on the x-ray.  It would diagnose with an MRI.

If it's the dent, that would be treated with a cast (heals 70% of then) and, if that don't work, surgery.

Which sets my options out as:

- Steroid injection

- MRI for further diagnosis

- Cast

This last option can be either three weeks in a fiberglass (plaster) cast, or six weeks in an aircast (removable for showering and sleep).

Guess what I did.

Go on, guess.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shiftin' Into High Gear

I have two speeds:  Normal and overdrive.

It always surprises me when I come across people who do not have that second speed.  I'd sorta thought that if I did, everyone else must.  Like it comes hardwired in your DNA or something.  Or, y'know, that everyone responds to adrenaline the same way.

Apparently, not everyone does.  I've met some lawyers who have only one deliberate, plodding speed.  One of them was a trial lawyer -- which I really did not understand, as you've gotta kick it up sometimes when you're in trial, and his inability to do this really drove me up the damn wall.  (Especially because I was working under his supervision at the time.)  It really felt all "tortoise and the hare" -- like I was this furtive little bunny pouncing all around trying to get stuff done and he was sitting there slowly chewing on a blade of grass.

Anyway, my current boss (bless him) doesn't really care when I get to work as long as the work gets done.  The exceptions are the two days out of every month when we have court hearings.  I have to be there at 9:30, when the hearings start.

Last night, before going to bed, I set my alarm for 7:30.  My alarm is always set for 7:30, but this time I meant it.  No hitting snooze for an hour.  Actually have to get up and get ready, so I could leave at 8:30 to make sure I'm at the office on time.

Here's where it gets exciting.  Right around a half hour after I went to bed, I was in that hazy half-awake state, and I thought, "Holy cow!  I didn't set the alarm."  And I looked over at the alarm clock, and I didn't see the light indicating it was set.  I almost turned on the light before I adjusted it, but I didn't want the cat to think I was awake (if I turned on the light, she'd come bounding in wanting to play) so I just adjusted it in the dark, and went to sleep.  Confident in the fact that I'd now set the alarm, I slept pretty soundly.

Until 8:44, in fact, when I woke up of my own accord.  I looked over at the clock and it took about half a second to process.  The alarm did not go off.  And my next thought -- the thought that, apparently, people without that second speed don't have, was:  I can do this.  I bound out of bed.  I make my bed (remember, the place has to look good in case a prospective buyer comes along).  While I'm doing this, the thought goes by that either:  (a) the alarm had been perfectly set before I went to bed, and I stupidly turned it off; or (b)  it was never set and I'd dreamt the whole thing.  Either way, I'm a moron.

No time for a shower -- just did a once-over with one of them pre-moistened cloths you use to remove make-up.  Plug in the emergency electric razor and shave what needs to be shaved.  Jam toothbrush in mouth and brush teeth.  (My toothbrush is an electric model with a 2 minute timer.  No time for that.  40 seconds of brushing, tops.  Actually, it would have been only 30, but ten seconds in, I realized my teeth would get cleaner if I actually put toothpaste on the brush.)  I've already figured out the outfit, and I throw it upon my person.  I spray my hair with Ouidad Botanical Boost, a really spiffy product for situations like this.  Grab my lunch.  Throw cat food in the bowl.  Out the door by 8:55.  From bed to door in eleven minutes.  This has got to be some kind of record.

Traffic cooperated enough that I actually made it to court just as they were starting. 

Then the adrenaline left, and I nearly fell asleep.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And... I'm Still Wearing the Eyeliner

Went to the mall yesterday.  Celebrated Dr. King's memory by ... spending money.  Yeah, maybe I need to work on that.

So, anyway, I was on a quest for some winter wear that, y'know, fits.  I know, I know -- I'm all about saving for a house so there's no point in spending money on clothes that I don't know how long I'll be able to wear ... but then there's the practicality of the fact that I have to pin all my pants so they don't slide off my newly-slim self.  I'm totally cool with that, but it has been suggested to me that my current "look" is a little too oversized.

And, well, when you get right down to it, I was extremely happy with my current state of weight loss.  Not so much the number of pounds involved, but the fact that I got my butt back in the really expensive midweight fleece pants that I wear under the equally expensive rain pants.  Fitting into this ensemble was a major weight-loss goal, and it felt great to slip into them fleece pants and zip them up all the way without, y'know, sucking in.

So, in a combination of celebration and desperation, I bought some new jeans at Eddie Bauer.  The don't exactly fit perfectly (I still have that proportionately-lost-rather-more-weight-in-my-waist-than-in-my-hips problem), but considering what I've been wearing lately, they're a noticeable improvement in the fit department.  And I was darned happy about the size I ended up buying, which was actually a notch smaller than what I was wearing before I even started on the whole medication-induced weight gain.  (I think that was just the eating-too-many-french-fries weight gain.)

And I bought a coupla tops and a really cute dress (an even smaller size than the jeans!) and was wandering around the mall looking for a few other purchases and then I hit upon the ultimate impulse buy for someone who just lost 20 pounds and was feeling all cute and slim...

Glamour Shots.

I know.

I am so weak.

So I'm strolling by wearing my fleece pants and a sweatshirt and looking like a typical "before" picture and I walk by and listen to their sales pitch and next thing I know I'm sitting in a chair and a nice lady name Kahlua (I swallowed my first thought and came up with, "Pretty name") is slathering makeup all over my face and attacking my hair with a curling iron.

About an hour and a half later, I'm slipping into my Eddie Bauer outfit and posing for a dude named Shaun who was taking my pictures.

And then there's the wardrobe changes.  You're supposed to change into two other outfits, but, of course, I didn't bring two other outfits.  "Don't worry," says Kahlua, "You can use some of ours."

Now, half their stuff is for kids.

Of the other half, a good third was graduation robes for High School students.

Another third was lingerie for your more "intimate" photos.  (Shaun told me that if I really wanted to show off my newly slim self, there's a really nice pose he does where I'm "tastefully" wrapped in a long drape of red fabric and he sets off the wind machine.  Kahlua steps in and says, "No, she's conservative."  Probably the first time in 20 years I've appreciated being called conservative.)

So, the last few things on the closet bar were beaded and sparkled tops and a few dresses.  Many of the dresses were in very large sizes (I saw a 28W go by) so they could be put on any customer and pinned up.  I picked two dresses -- a junior-sized pale chiffon number and a woman-sized brown velvet gown.

I experienced wardrobe malfunctions with the both of them.  The pale chiffon had a halter cut to it so I couldn't wear a bra with it and it was a very light chiffon if you see where I'm going with this.  Kahlua came to the rescue by suggesting that I, er, strategically place a coupla sheets of toilet paper under the dress.  Good enough.  So, Shaun snaps a few pics with me laughing because I'm wearing toilet paper, and then I go off for my second wardrobe change.

Into the velvet gown that is, numerically speaking, about twice my size.  Mere pins will not suffice to hold the dress on -- Kahlua attacks the back of it with some banana hair clips.  This turns out to be a fairly big problem.  What looks good about the dress is my profile, but Shaun couldn't really take a shot from that angle without catching bright green hair clip. 

We finish and I go off to grab some dinner while they "put together a slide show" of my pictures for my purchasing perusal.  While eating dinner, I have in my mind their prices and exactly how much I will allow them to sell me.

I return for my slide show (yet another Glamour Shots employee is in charge of selling me stuff -- Kahlua and Shaun are now hiding in the back somewhere).  Turns out that the guy is going to have a very difficult time selling me much because the great bulk of the photos blow.  Honestly.  Everything in the brown velvet dress is totally out because Shaun took full-length shots, which look pretty damn stupid when there's a foot and a half of dress gathered at my feet.  All of the headshots are out because -- while he didn't actually snap me blinking, he often snapped me nearly blinking, so one of my eyelids is open more than the other.  Or he took the shot from so far above that the frame of my eyeglasses runs right across my eyes.  Or I just looked bad.  (You know how photographers sometimes put you in really unnatural positions and then you look at the picture and it looks really good?  In these, I looked really uncomfortable.)

By the time all was said and done, it was about three hours since I'd walked in their door and there was only one picture worth buying.

You'll have to wait till I pick it up to see.  :)

I mean, really cold.

The other night, I went out to dinner with friends and brought home my leftovers.  They were scheduled to be my dinner on Sunday night.

Now, there was some prime rib and some creamed corn, and a coupla pieces of garlic bread.

I thought I'd reheat a piece of garlic bread first and then snack on it while the rest was reheating.

I'd use the microwave, of course.

I moistened a paper towel and wrapped it around a piece of garlic bread.  The put the wrapped bread on a microwave-safe plate.

I hit the "reheat" button, and then paused with indecision.  The microwave wanted to know what type of food I was reheating, and it didn't have a "breads" option.  I went with "pasta."  Seemed close enough.

A little while later I thought, "Gee, that bread has been in there an awfully long time."

A second later, the microwave beeped.  I opened it.

Inside:  A charcoal briquette where the garlic bread used to be.  A burnt paper towel.  A plate with paper towel charred into it.  And, of course, smoke.

The smoke detectors in our building are hard-wired in; there's no way to unplug the detector when you have a cooking mishap.  Also, once the smoke detector smells smoke, it sets off the entire building and calls the Fire Department.  Setting aside the embarrassment involved in admitting to your neighbors that you set garlic bread on fire, there's the whole financial cost -- as the Fire Department has come out on so many false alarms, they said they'd charge us for the next one.

Imperative, then, that I do not set off the smoke alarm.  I turn on the kitchen fan.  I have another little fan-with-filter that I also brought in there. 

It wasn't doing the job.  OK, yeah, the smoke hadn't wafted down the hallway to the smoke alarm yet, but I could still smell "recently-burnt" in my kitchen, so was forced to open a window.  The nearest one was in the living room, where I was sitting.  I had a fire going in the fireplace (no smoke odors there -- gas fire, fake wood) and sat curled on the edge of the sofa, close to the fireplace, while Sunday Night Frigidity came in through the window and saved me from paying a nuisance fee to the Fire Department.

Before bed, I closed the window and left the little fan going.

Next morning, the room still smelled.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wardrobe Issues

It's cold.  It's cold.  Holy crap, it's cold.

Yes, I know.  This is California cold.  Folks in points further East would be quick to point out that this isn't really cold.  But you've gotta see where we're coming from.  Earlier this week, we had temperatures in the 80s.  Now it's a good forty degrees below that, and pushing (if not crossing) freezing at night.  We're not supposed to have this sort of temperature mood swing.  It's unnatural.

It has wreaked total havoc on my wardrobe.

OK, to be fair, I've wreaked total havoc on my wardrobe.  Last year, I went through my closet and tossed everything that didn't fit anymore.  My mother told me I shouldn't do that as I might actually fit into this stuff again, but I wasn't getting anywhere attempting to diet and I figured that an acceptance of my then-current body was something necessary so I did the closet-purge.

And now I've lost twenty pounds.

Nothing fits, and that's great -- but I've tossed everything that used to fit. 

And now it's cold.  And, back in September, when I was packing up all my spare stuff to put it in storage when I put my place on the market, I included my big wool coats in the box.  Because I figured I wouldn't need them.  (I distinctly remember saying to myself, "I won't be going to London this year."  There goes that.)  So wool coats and scarves and all that other nice, warm, outerwear I'd turn to right now are in the box in the farthest end of my storage cage.  I'd have to move furniture to get to them.  Seriously.

I was going to the theatre tonight, so needed something to wear.  And it better be warm, because I don't have a wool coat to throw over it.  So I figured I'd stick with jeans, and put long underwear on underneath.  Found the long underwear -- the "large" long underwear I bought for skiing last year.  A little baggy, but ok.  Put them jeans on over them.  So far so good.

Now I have a big wool sweater to wear.  But wool is itchy, so I need something to go underneath.  Where's the long underwear top?  I didn't buy a long underwear top when I went skiing; my only long underwear top was an older silk one which I'd apparently thrown out last year 'cause it was too small.  OK, I'll improvise.  The sweater is beige with a dark brown pattern across the chest; I'll just put a T-shirt on underneath it.  Where's that beige-colored T-shirt my sister gave me forever ago...?  Shoot.  Must've thrown that out too.

I ended up wearing a white T-shirt which had a green image on it.  You could sorta see the green coming through the sweater on the lower part (where it wasn't covered by the pattern) so I spent the whole night hiking up the shirt or pulling down the sweater.

I keep saying that I won't buy any more clothes until I've hit a plateau on my weight and sorta stayed there for awhile, but in cold weather, I'm definitiely running out of options.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Technology I Am Not Ready For

Interesting.  I don't think this has ever happened to me.

My answering machine is dying, as is my phone.  (These things have happened before.  Indeed, they happen pretty darned regularly.)  So I started researching new phones or phone/answering machine combos.

Then I thought, "Hey, what about Vonage?"  You know, a VOIP provider, someone that routes phone calls over the internet (but you still use a normal phone, it's just plugged into your modem).  Hell, I think AOL even offers one.

I went to the Vonage website.  For about $15/month, you get 500 minutes of local and long distance calls, with reasonable rates for the overages.  Sounds good.

But, before I adopt new tech, I like reading some reviews.  So I went over to CNET and read some Vonage reviews.  And while CNET itself actually had nice things to say about Vonage, the sheer number of "If you value your sanity, stay the hell away" customer reviews was enough to give one pause.  Most people were complaining about lousy customer service and questionable billing practices.  And, indeed, "official" reviews of Vonage on various sites acknowledge that their customer service people have been a bit overwhelmed by the volume of customers, and that they're, y'know, working on the problem.  This, too, gives one pause.  Especially since recent customer reviews suggest the problem has not yet been fixed.

So, I started looking at other VOIP providers to find one with (a) good call quality; and (b) decent customer service.  Guess what.  They don't exist.  Honestly.  I'll find one where there's decent, even glowing, reviews of their customer service -- only to find that their call quality doesn't stand up in tests.  There are tons of VOIP providers out there now -- heck, even AT&T and Verizon have gotten in the game -- and there doesn't seem to be one that has its act together.

Indeed, I'd consider buying the one from my cable company -- on the theory that since they provide my internet connection, they'd only have themselves to blame when something goes wrong -- but they've only got a single calling plan, one that $30/month for unlimited calls.  And I don't make that many calls.  Indeed, I want to do this to save money, not raise my phone bill.  (And that's just an "introductory" rate -- it'll go up after three months.)

So ... no internet phone for me. 

Anyone know a good deal on a phone and answering machine?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Here's a tip

OK.  So, if you happen to find yourself wearing a lace-up ankle brace ...

and you lace it up real tight for good support ...

and it start to itch in back, right above your sock ...

and you think, hey, I could scratch that if I just stick the end of this ballpoint pen in there ...

Make sure the ink is retracted before you do.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

If Only I Could Figure Out Which Foot to Limp On

Yeah, ok, so ... left ligament still weak, so I'm wearing a lace-up sports brace on it every day.  And taking anti-inflammatories twice a day (or, more precisely, whenever I remember).

The other day, I had a meeting at my place, for which I needed all available chairs around the dining room table.  Now, a couple years back, I bought a chair massager thing.  It sits on my desk chair in the living room.  Not wanting my guests to fight over the chair with the back massager on it, I removed it from the chair and hid it in my closet.  It's fairly unwieldly -- a soft chair back and seat with massage mechanism in the back, trailing a power cord and adapter.  Took me several tries to unwind the power cord from around (and under) the chair, but I finally got it out of there.

Next day, I put it back in the chair.  Carried it back out to the living room, moved the adapter out of the way, and prepared to plop it on the chair.  Where, of course, the cat was.

I pulled the chair back from the desk, which had the desired effect of convincing the cat to move. 

While silently congratulating myself for the smoothness of this move, I drop the massage chair.  On my foot.  My right foot.  It doesn't have that nice soft impact that would come with the padded seat of the chair connecting with flesh -- no, I hear (and feel) the heavy massage mechanism smack against the bones in the top of my foot.

I iced it twice that night, but it still hurts when I put a shoe on.  And, of course, since I'm wearing the lace-up brace on my left foot, I need to wear shoes with good support -- i.e. tight ones.  Yowch.  Had to actually take my right shoe off yesterday -- both when driving and at work.

Never a dull moment, surely.  But I certainly never anticipated so much footwear difficulty.

Yep, We're Going

My friend concluded that $1000 for air and a week in a 4-star London hotel is, in fact, too good a deal to let pass.  Yay!

Flight booked!

Now, to find all the fun things we want to do on discount.... (yeah, I got some tricks....)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I appear to be going to London

Y'know, sometimes I think you should just take the damn computer away from me after midnight, because it's only around then that I take ridiculous chances on things like Priceline.

OK, lemme back this up.

A friend and I were sorta toying with the idea of going to London in March.  (I'd leave two days after we finished our Awards show.  Sort of a present to myself for surviving it.)  We were planning a ten day affair, with a side trip to Stratford for a night and a day trip to Stonehenge.  And after I spent way too much time on the computer, I had the cost of the hotel down to about $1200 each.  Which really isn't bad, considering.  But when you throw in the airfare --

-- actually, it's when you throw in the taxes and fees.  There's all these fare sales where the ticket to London is, like, $350.  But then when you click on the "ok, let's buy it" button, they inform you of the additional $150 in fees.  Dude, just call it a $500 ticket, 'k? --

So, anyway, once you throw in the airfare and fees, it's starting to push about $1700 each.  And we'd probably want to eat when we're there, and do stuff, and, well, it was looking like a very expensive vacation and this wasn't such a good time for either one of us to spend that kind of money.  So we set London to one side and I figured I'd let it go.

Two things happened.

First, I spent New Year's Eve with my friends who were visiting from England, which made me all wistful about going there.

Second, an actor I really like just got all officially cast in a show that will be running in London that week.

So then I started thinking about a revised plan.  A cheaper plan.  A plan that that drops Stratford and Stonehenge and is just London, and, hey, maybe I could even fly there on frequent flier miles.  I check with the airline website and I can use frequent flier miles if I fly back a few days earlier than the original plan -- so now I'm talking about a week in London.  OK, great.  That'll save me money on the hotel.

So I worked all my be-your-own-internet-travel-agent magic and was getting NOWHERE on a reasonably priced (yet nicely located) hotel.  Honestly.  Paying for the hotel myself was going to run, like, $2000.  And, y'know, screw that.  I've gotta buy a house.

Which brings us to midnight.  And that downfall of many a late-night web-surfer:  Priceline.  You know, where you can "name your own price" and get a really good deal because they don't tell you the name of the hotel until after you've booked it.  It's a little unnerving because you have to give them your credit card info upfront, so if they accept your offer, your card is charged and the room is booked and that's about it.

I was just jokin' around with Priceline, not entirely serious about the whole endeavor.  So I asked it for a 5-star hotel in the best London neighborhood for, like, $110 a night.  I mean, if it gave me that, I'd find a way to get there.

It didn't give me that.  But it tantalizingly lets you search again if you add a neighborhood or add another star-level.

So, ok, how about a 5-star hotel in one of the two best London neighborhoods for $110 a night?

Didn't give me that either.  I dropped down to a 4-star hotel. 

Still nothing.  Now it's after midnight.  I'm not gonna drop another star, but I check the map and find a third neighborhood I'd be happy to stay in.  OK, Priceline, this is your last chance before I fold up shop and give up this stupid idea.  Give me a 4- or 5-star hotel in one of these three London neighborhoods for (I figure I should kick up the price a touch, just to show I care) $116 a night.

It thinks.  For a long time.  I'm watching "The Cosby Show" on Nick-at-Nite and only occasionally glancing at my computer screen.

My offer is accepted.  My credit card has been charged for 7 nights in a four-star London hotel (I quickly check the hotel's website and find this is a hell of a deal -- they're pricing the rooms at about twice this amount).

It dawns on me that I should probably book a flight since it feels just a teensy bit uncomfortable to have a pre-booked, non-cancellable hotel in London but no actual plane ticket.

I'm about to book the flight when I realize my friend might reconsider, seeing as the plan is now down to less than $500 each for the hotel.  Seeing as it IS after midnight, it probably isn't best to call her right now.  I book a flight for both of us and put it on a 24-hour hold -- hopefully that will calm the part of me that really wants a plane ticket in my hand since the hotel is already booked -- and I'll find out tomorrow morning whether I've got company on this journey.

The, um, journey I wasn't really sure I wanted to take.

Yeah, that one.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Good Thing I'm Not Superstitious

Saturday night, I went out for some Chinese food with friends.  At the end of the meal, we got our fortune cookies.  (I traditionally snap mine open one-handed.)  So, I snap open my cookie and there is no fortune in it.  Everyone else at the table has a fortune, but not me.

When the waiter comes by to pick up our credit card, I ask for another fortune cookie to replace the empty one.  He give me a whole plate of fortune cookies.  I take one off the top and snap it open.  Empty again.

This is getting frustrating (and not just a little weird).  I snap open the third cookie and find a fortune in it. Finally.

Next day -- New Year's Eve -- I'm out for Chinese food with different friends at a different restaurant.  When the fortune cookies come, I recount to them the incident of the night before, while I'm snapping open my fortune cookie.

It's empty.

I drove home totally weirded out.  When I got home, I went over my friends' place to watch the ball drop and be all "Happy New Year!"  They have some of those little cracker things where you hold one between the two of you and you each pull a little tab inside it and it snaps open with a loud bang and various and sundry goodies pop out of it.  Debra and I each grab an end of one to snap on the stroke of midnight.




Pull!  The cracker doesn't snap and the pull tab comes off in my hand.

I get the strangest feeling I need to get right with the universe.

I woke up this morning trying to figure out the empty fortune cookies.  At first, I'd thought it was, you know, bad mojo.  But then I figured that if the Fortune Cookie Spirits (assuming, y'know, that these things actually have any truth whatsoever to them) see something bad in my future, they'd go ahead and say so in a crappy fortune.  Perhaps an empty fortune means that my fortune is not predetermined, and that I have to go out and make my own future.

Which isn't a bad thought as we embark on this new year.