Thursday, February 28, 2008


I am not good at waiting.  There are things I want, and I want them now.

1.  I want a buyer for my condo.  I'm not requesting a buyer at a perfect price, mind you.  Just a nice, reasonable offer from a live human being I can work with.

2.  On Tuesday, I emailed someone about possibly hiring them.  I know they read the message (thank you, AOL's "show status" command) that night.  I want the courtesy of a reply.  Ideally, I want them to accept the job at a low fee, but I want them to AT LEAST tell me if they're able to do it.  Or even thinking about it.  Really:  a sign of life would be acceptable.

3.  I've been hunting down corporate sponsors for stuff for our Awards show.  I want one of them to say, "Sure, we'll sponsor that."

4.  I want to memorize this speech I'm learning to sign.  (I just learned ANOTHER signing pitfall:  apparently a sign done facing one direction means "he," while in the other direction it means the drug "Ecstasy."  Yeah, that's one you don't want to screw up.  Much like the triangle problem.*)

5.  I want there to be gas in my car and food in my fridge.

6.  I want it to be time to go home and my work to be done.


*Read an editorial once about a class of elementary school kids learning to sign.  They were singing and signing some song about shapes.  And when they got to "triangle," they were all unintentionally signing the sign for, um, female private bits.  The amusing part of this story is that, if you think about it, you can probably figure out both signs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sorry, Macy's

Bought some earrings at Macy's the other day.  They were kind of expensive.  The lady at the jewelry counter said I'd get 20% off if I applied for a Macy's card.  I shop at Macy's a lot, so figured, "what the heck."

Now, I actually considered my credit report in connection with this.  Because, y'know, I will (hopefully sometime soon) be buying a new house, and I know that Macy's will make an inquiry as to my credit, and I know that such inquiries alone can kick your score down a few points.  But it's only a Department Store card, and I don't have any Department Store cards, so I figured that nobody would think I'm trying to get more credit than I need or anything, and decided the discount on the earrings would be worth it, all things considered.  So I applied for the card.

I have a credit monitoring service, and a few days later, it duly notified me of the inquiry on my account.

A few days after that, it informed me of my new accounts.  Plural.  Two of them.  A Macy's account and a Visa account.  From the same bank.

Nobody told me I was applying for a Visa card.  Didn't want another Visa card.  Get "pre-approved" Visa card offers all the time and throw the damn things away. 

Took a look at the "fine print" they'd given me when I applied for the Macy's card, and it said that if you apply in the store, they will first consider you for a Macy's Visa card, and only give you a regular Macy's card if you don't qualify for the Visa.  Oddly, this little tidbit was not pointed out to me when I signed the little screen saying, "yeah, I'd like to apply for a Macy's card, please."

An inquiry on a Visa card is not what I want on my credit report.  More importantly, I don't want another Visa card on my credit report.  I don't want people to think I'm overextending myself here, and have tons of credit that I can fall behind on (at 22% interest).  I'm furious.  I wanted a Macy's card, not a Visa card, and this was a total "bait and switch."

I wait until I receive my Macy's Visa card in the mail, and call the enclosed phone number.  It tries to send me through the automated system to activate my card.  I play dumb and it finally gives me to a customer service representative.  She asks what I want.  I say I'd wanted a Macy's card and they sent me a Visa so I'd like to cancel it please.  She asks my account number.  My name.  The last four digits of my social.  My phone number.

Why do you need my phone number?

She's having trouble finding my account.  I tell her I've never activated the card, which probably explains this.  She says it does, and that she'll find it by my phone number.  I give her my number.  She asks if she can put me on hold.  She does.  I hear the hold music for about two minutes, then a click.  She's hung up on me.

Now I'm outraged.  I call again, sit through the recording again, get another agent again.  (Notice that the agent who hung up on me had my phone number, but did not attempt to call back.)  New agent asks what I want.  I say I'm trying to cancel my card and the last agent put me on hold and hung up on me.  New agent asks why I'm cancelling the card.

"Because I wanted a Macy's card and you sent me a Visa."

"That's just a solicit."

"Pardon me."

"We just offer you the Visa card because you qualify for it.  You don't have to get it."

"This isn't an offer.  This is a Visa card.  I'm holding it in my hand.  You opened a Visa account and sent me a Visa card."

I'm getting a little annoyed here.

"OK.  I can close that for you.  Or, I can just close the Visa one and you can keep the Macy's card."

Now, let's be clear here.  I would've been happy with a Macy's card if they'd just sent me a Macy's card.  But, y'know, they may be recording my call for quality assurance purposes.

"This is an unfair business practice.  If this is the way you people do business, I see no reason to continue giving you mine."

"Unfair business practice" is a term of art.  It refers to California Business & Professions Code, section 17200, which prohibits "unfair business practices."  It's the thing that people like to base multi-million dollar class actions on. 

She immediately changes tune.  Says she will cancel "both accounts."  Offers to send me a letter confirming the closure of the accounts.  Does not need my phone number to do this. Apologizes for the last agent hanging up on me, saying it was "unacceptable."  Wishes me a nice day and everything.

Too bad, really.  I would've liked a Macy's card.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Dress!

Got a new dress for our Awards show.  Since the show will be on St. Patrick's Day, I went green -- even though that's normally not my color of choice.

And a new haircut to go with it.  I should note that this (a) what my hair naturally does (not the way Lance styled it); (b) untouched after a full day's work.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Well, if you're gonna oversleep...

... the best time to do it is when you have a hair appointment.

I think I have mentioned my occasional tendency to "lose time" (as Agent Mulder would describe it).  Nothing paranormal going on.  It's just the combination of not getting enough sleep and a medication that "may cause drowsiness."  Put 'em both together, hit the snooze alarm once, and next thing you know, it's an hour later and the cat is staring you down with a look that says, "Look, I tried.  What'd you want me to do? Jump on you?"

I woke up at 10:20.  My appointment was at 11:00.  About 15 minutes away.  I never would have made it if it was anything other than a hair appointment, but being as it is was, it was completely acceptable to tie my hair up in a scrunchie.  Threw clothes on, brushed teeth, fed cat, turned Roomba on, clicked on the photoframe with the "Buy My Condo" slide show, and hit the door.

Normally, I wouldn't fret about being late to a hair appointment, but there was all sorts of karma riding on this one.  Lance, my hair guy, was starting at a new salon, and I was his first appointment.  His only appointment.  The salon isn't even open on Sundays, but he'd offered for me to come in today, and I agreed.  (He later said that, in his culture, today is considered a good day for starting on a business venture.)  So this was all about giving him Good Vibes for the new job, and I would've been letting him down if I started off his new job by showing up late. 

My car screeched into the parking lot at about 10:57.  Oh yeah.  I rock.

.... and thanks for reading (and commenting), Mona.  I don't try to break records with comments or anything, but it's nice to know I'm being read.  :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

My hair has been holding out on me.

Am having an awesome hair day today.  Curls are curling as requested, frizziness is nowhere to be seen, and my hair is -- in general -- obeying the laws of gravity.  It hasn't looked this good in weeks.

This is because I made an appointment for a haircut yesterday.  It knows.

Actually, should be quite exciting.  My hair guy is switching salons (again) and he asked me to be his very first appointment at the new place.  I'll have to be on my best behavior and all -- wouldn't want to scare off his new co-workers. 

Aside to Indigo -- Believe me, we'll have an interpreter for the whole night.  I'm the only idiot trying to interpret for myself.  :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Sautee Your Hand

In a few (short) weeks, I will be making a short speech in front of a few hundred people.

No problem, there.  I've made similar short speeches in front of similar groups before, and I've survived relatively unscathed.  Particularly when I've practiced in advance.

This time, though, my audience will include some Deaf people, and I thought it would be a nifty idea to sign my speech as well as read it.

Actually, I'll likely have to memorize the damn thing, too.  Because I'm short, our podium is tall, and if I'm standing behind the podium reading my speech, I'll have a very small area in which to sign.

So.  Standing in front of a mic.  No podium.  No note cards.  Without a net, as it were.

This calls for writing the speech in advance and learning to sign it. 

I am not a complete novice at signing. 

I am a partial novice.

I learned to fingerspell when I was about 10.  When I was about 20, I spent a summer working for a deaf boss, and managed to learn a couple hundred signs, mostly out of a book.

Now, nearly 20 (ack) years after that, I am out of practice, and armed with the same book, and a few ASL websites.  (And a QuickTime player that crashes every freakin' time I open one of the websites.)

I am, as it turns out, the very illustration of "a little knowledge being a dangerous thing."

I really thought I could accomplish this without professional assistance.  I thought I could rely on my old knowledge of sign, and look up the stray words that I don't know.

I can tell you the moment I realized I needed help.  It was right when I was trying to look up the sign for the word "passionate."  As in, "I'm passionate about theatre" or something like that.  It wasn't in my book, so I went to the website.  The website gave me a sign.  I knew this sign.  It's a sign I remembered from when I was 10, because they told us not to sign it.  See, the sign for "very happy" is made by repeating the sign for "happy" enthusiastically.  But if you repeat the sign for "hungry" enthusiastically, you're talking about a hunger of a rather different kind.  THAT's the sign they gave me for "passionate."

Yeah.  "I'm horny for theatre."  That'll go over real well.

I poked around on Craig's List and found myself a sign language tutor.  Reasonable rates and she lives in the next city over.  I had my first lesson today.  We made it through the first third of my speech -- she taught me the signs for all the words I didn't know.  And, as an added bonus, corrected me on all the signs I thought I knew, but had wrong.

Instead of "any," I was signing something rather like "sculpture"; for "can" I was signing -- well, nothing in particular, but it was kind of petulant; for "something," I was signing "where," and, yes, for "share," rather than making like I was dividing something up with my hand, I was instead sauteeing it, signing "cook."

And let me be perfectly clear here.  EVERY SINGLE ONE of these wrong signs was EXACTLY the way this stupid book told me to sign them.  (I just checked.)  This is what I get for working from a book written in 1963.  I've been signing these things WRONG for 20 years, and I've got about three weeks to unlearn all of my bad habits.  And stop sauteeing my hand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wait? What??

As my sister can attest (from every time we've shared a hotel room), I'm one of those people who does not fall asleep with the TV on.  I can't sleep with the TV on.  I'm all about silence and darkness.  Hell, I've often had to get out of bed to (delicately) kick the Roomba, because its recharger is buzzing and keeping me awake.

But, I do lie in bed and watch TV a bit before falling asleep.  This is especially true since the cat has gotten into the habit of getting pet during this time.  I get ready for bed, jump in bed, put the remote within reach, snuggle under the covers (often with a little heaty thing under the blankets) ... and then Jasmine comes bounding in, wanting to get pet.  I don't actually have to do much here.  Just keep my hand at cat-height, and she rubs herself against me in various directions.  A self-petting cat, basically.  But when she's done, she'll leave and go sleep someplace else.  Sometimes, she will curl up, leaning her head on my hand -- and I think, "Oh, she's going to sleep here" -- but she won't.  She's just hanging out until she thinks I'm asleep -- and once my eyes are safely closed, she's off.  Then I turn off the TV, roll over, and get some sleep.

Except that last night, somewhere the plan went awry.  I was really tired and kept drifting off while the cat was doing her petting routine, and the TV didn't get turned off. 

The TV is on BBC America.  At 1:00 a.m., they run two episodes of Bargain Hunt.  Followed by two episodes of Cash in the Attic.  Both are similar in that they involve experts telling you how much antiques are worth -- then they end up at an auction where you find out how much people will actually pay for the antiques in question.  As shows to fall asleep to, they aren't bad -- listening to folks drone on about the Victorian Writing Desk or the Tunbridge Ware or Tea Caddy (and how do I know what all these things are?) or the ever-increasing numbers coming from the auctioneer -- that's all pretty good dozing-off stuff.  But at 3:00 a.m., if you happen to be up THAT late, you get the actual BBC News.  (Which makes sense, as it's 11:00 a.m. in London by then, so they've got actual news.)

Which might explain why last night I could've sworn I heard something about Fidel Castro getting forty quidfor some nice brass candlesticks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Well, At Least I'm Keeping Them Entertained

I've put together a small slide show for the buyers.  I have it running on a digital picture frame, which is facing the door when they come in.  (Right next to the brochures and the little dish the agents leave their cards in.)

(The little dish, by the way, is something I bought offa eBay a few years ago which claims to be a genuine Victorian calling card tray.  Never thought I'd actually be using it for its intended purpose.)

The slide show contains images of all the improvements I made to the condo (with their prices) and a few other slides.  Here are some of the highlights:

(By the way, if you look really close at the computer screen in the background of that one, it says:  Buy the condo!  It's Great!)

The dry-erase board next to my desk reads:

Buy the condo!

Sofabed Included.

Pretty Much Everything Else* Is Negotiable

*Except the bedroom set, piano, and cat.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

OK. Nobody move.

My real estate agent left today.  After about two hours.  We now have all sorts of paperwork -- listing agreements, disclosure statements and such -- signed, and she'll start bringing other agents around tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

When I started this process more than a year ago, I was looking forward to selling the place.  Now, it's an amazing victory just to get it re-listed.  Open house next Sunday.

.... late last night, I was on the phone with a friend, and he said he had to go do stuff.  And then I said I had to go do stuff, and said, "But I'd rather just sit here petting the kitty."

And there was the faintest moment of silence, and I quickly added, "That's not a euphemism.  I'm actually petting my cat."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Completely Random Fact About My Cat

My cat sometimes does not like to be pet.  (This is not the random fact.  All cats sometimes do not like to be pet.)  When my cat does not want to be pet, she will express this emotion by scratching, biting, or (if she's being good) swatting my hand away.

This is the interesting fact:  In the nearly five years that I have had this cat, she has never expressed a similar rejection if, rather than reaching out to pet her, I am moving toward her to kiss her furry little self.

I can't prove it, but I think she thinks a kiss is grooming.

Social Circles

Sometimes, when I get to thinkin', I start thinking about how nice it will be to have a new house and have a housewarming party in it.  And it'll be an "Open House," where folks can come and go as they please (as long as they don't let the cat out) and I'll have some food out, so people can nosh, and everyone will say what a great house I have and how happy they are that I finally got one.  (Yes sir.  That's how it will be.)

And I start thinking about the different groups of friends that I have.  And while I know that some of the fun of having parties is bringing together people who don't know each other, there's a part of me that is a teensy bit concerned about bringing all my circles of friends together, because I think I have a pretty diverse group of friends.  Particularly in terms of, um, socio-economic strata.

Which is to say, sometimes I go out with friends who can't afford more than a slice of pizza.  And other times I find myself with a somewhat pricier crowd.  (The latter was on my mind this evening as I attended an event held in somebody's house.  Said house used to be owned by Howard Hughes.  Clearly, dude did pretty well for himself.)

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm a lawyer and a theatre critic.  (So I travel in circles of lawyers and theatre critics.  And lawyers tend to make good money but there's not a ton of cash in theatrical criticism.)  But it gets me wondering whether I'm somewhat unique in having "Coke and Dodger Dog" friends as well as "private box at the stadium" friends -- or if everyone happily travels in multiple circles and we're really doing people a disservice by pigeon-holing them in a single category.  I mean, if I have just as much fun in both settings, shouldn't I assume everyone else would, too?  Or are some people just too snooty to enjoy the cheap seats, and others would feel awkward approaching a place-setting with four different forks?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Moral Dilemma

Scalzi, from his home at Whatever, asks:

Your question for the day:

1. A pristine “first state” copy of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today, featuring the infamous “Butcher Cover.”

2. Your adorable, preciously fluffy kitten.

A fire, in your house, spreading so quickly you can save only one of the above.


OK.  Obviously my cat.  But I skimmed through the first 50 or so comments, and I don't think any of them came upon the reason why.

Oddly, I don't think any of them came upon the reason why not, either, as most immediately replaced replaced the Beatles' album with its cash equivalent of roughly $40,000.  The question isn't about kitty versus forty grand.  The question is about kitty versus a largely irreplaceable item of pop culture history.  At least, though, Scalzi didn't make it a truly irreplaceable item -- like, say, the original photograph that ultimately became the album cover.  Ignoring the increase in cash value that would go along with that, the issue would them become whether you would have some sort of responsibility to the ages to save said irreplaceable item of pop cultural significance.

Which leads right in to why I'd save the cat.  Responsibility.  The question isn't Rare Beatles Album versus a fluffy kitten, the question is Rare Beatles Album versus your fluffy kitten.  And while there is definitely some part of me that feels awfully sad whenever any fluffy kittens perish in a fire, I don't owe said kittens anything.  My kitten is my kitten.  When I took her home, that came with a commitment to feed her, give her shelter, try not to lock her in the closet (oops), take her to the vet to keep her healthy, and save her from burning buildings when she can't save herself (and there's no danger to me).

Is my cat worth $40,000?  Offer me $40,000 for her and find out.  As long as I'd be sure she's going to a good home, I'll take the cash.  But that's not really the question.  The question is: would I let my cat die a horrible death, when I easily could have saved her, in order to save a thing?  That answer is no.  My own self-respect can't be bought.