Monday, March 31, 2008

Oh, right. She's a cat.

Got home around 10:30 at night.  When I opened the door, Jasmine was at the far end of the hallway, peeking around the wall to see who it was. 

When she saw it was me, she excitedly ran down the hall toward me

... and made a sharp turn off into the bedroom.

Yeah, I missed you too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Memory Retrieval System

So, the other day, on the sleigh ride, as we passed the half-pipe at Park City, the woman in front of me asked the sleigh driver the name of that Olympic snow-boarding dude with the red hair.  Sleigh driver can't remember -- comments that his sons would know.

And my brain says, "Flying Tomato."  And then it says, "Shaun . . . Something."

And I tell the woman in front of me, "Shaun Something."

And I keep trying to figure out the last name.  I know it's a name that's another word.  I know it's a name I can get, if I think about it long enough.  I run through the alphabet, as I often can retrieve names when I know the first initial, but nothing is hitting.  I give up.  I stop trying to remember the name.

Sleigh gets up to the lodge.  We get out.  I go inside.  Get my table.  Figure I'll find the ladies' room before the rush.  I find it (it's the door labelled "Cowgirls") and enter an open stall.  And sitting there, my brain volunteers, "Shaun White."

Has anyone actually studied this?  The way that you can remember something if you stop thinking about it?  The brain just keeps working on the problem and finds the solution even when it isn't at the forefront of your thoughts.  It's like spotting something just out of the corner of your eye -- the memory is there, but it only comes forward if you're not looking for it.

Weird.  Cool, though.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day Two -- Active Day!

Well, I made up for yesterday's lack of activity today.  Big time.

First, after lunch (I slept in), we piled into the car and headed out to Olympic Park.  Last time I was here, I rode on the Comet -- their bobsled ride (way cool).  This time, I had my eye on the "Xtreme Zip" -- a zipline down the ski jump hill.  It's billed as the "world's steepest zipline."  Kewl.

The process involves riding a ski lift up the hill.  A very slow ski lift.  Which didn't have a safety bar or anything (not that people use them anyway).  But it gave you enough time to think that the only thing between you and a rather unpleasant death is your desire not to die. 

We actually got off the lift above where the ski jumpers get off.  Near the top, there was an "athlete exit," but we went beyond that to the very top.  Where they keep the zip line step-off point.

It's pretty simple -- gravity'll do that.  They've got four harnesses set up -- each on different lines, next to each other.  And the harnesses are leaning against solid wooden gates.  You get in the harness, strap on your seatbelt, and, um, that's about it.  They flip open the gate and gravity takes over, whipping you down the line.  I'm told you hit speeds of 50 mph, but I wasn't really clocking it.

Before riding the zipline, I'd been curious as to how it, y'know, stops.  The ziplines I rode in the rainforest in Alaska were straight across -- and your weight made them dip -- so that they were a bit uphill at the end, which slowed you down.  Here, you're riding way way down and I didn't expect the line to suddenly turn upward at the end.  It was a bit of a mystery -- a mystery solved when I saw the sign right before getting in the harness at the top of the ride.  "This is a very fast ride," it said, "with a sudden stop."

Yeah.  Here I was tooling down the zipline at 50 mph and then they have, like, a solid block at the end of the line, which pretty much stops your zipping experience solid.  Of course, the passenger, being in a harness, has a lot of momentum and keeps swinging -- but it's still not entirely unlike, y'know, cruising along at high speed and then sorta hitting a wall.  My teeth are still rattling.

After that, we drove to Park City Mountain Resort, met up with our skiers and snowboarders, and rode the "Alpine Coaster."  It's a pretty nice ride -- compares very favorably to the Matterhorn at Disneyland.  You're in a car that seats one or two people.  It is pulled on a track, with a cable, way up a hill.  And then, it lets you go down a nice windy track.  It banks a few times, too.  It's a total gravity gig, too -- it isn't like roller coasters where you go down a bit and then go up more -- this is all the way up and all the way down at once.  You have some brakes to control the speed of your car (especially at the end because, again, gravity), but you basically just let loose and ride down the mountain.  Which is totally fun because you're on a track that's pretty much just above a bunch of skiers.  The environment really makes the ride.  (And we'll just skip over the bit where some bratty kid in the car behind me was yelling at me to go faster, and I yelled back at him to "shut up" because I didn't want to hit the car in front of me (and, besides, the car in front of you can go as slow as it damn well pleases so stop whining) and then felt guilty for telling some kid to "shut up," but Peggy said it was OK, 'cause the kid was 12, and someone should tell his rude little self to shut up.)

And then, everyone went back to the condo and I stayed at the resort because I had dinner plans.  I wanted to take a sleigh ride/dinner thing.  (Nobody else wanted to go with me, but I wasn't gonna let that stop me.)  So, I waited around about 45 minutes for the sleighs.  There were about 6 of them, and they each took about 16 people -- but they weren't full -- and we all got in and snuggled under blankets.  (You make friends quick that way.)  They sleighs were each pulled by 2 horses, and we rode right up the "home run" -- the easiest slope to ski down.  (It looked vaguely familiar from last time.)  Note to future skiers:  the horses, um, respond to calls of nature on the slope.  Beware the brown snow. 

We ended up a nice little wooden lodge at the top of the slope.  (It's actually right at the top of the "First Time" ski lift.)  They had fires going and hot apple cider.  I'd expected us all to sit together at big, long tables -- but, no, it was assigned seating with individual tables for each party.  So they put me at a "table for one" right in front of the dude playing guitar and singing.  (I felt obligated to lead the applause for him after every song.)  He played a lot of 60s and 70s music -- heavy on The Eagles, courtesy of the kid at the next table who kept putting money in his tip jar for Eagles tunes.  Some of the little kids got up and danced around, right in front of my table.  Now, when you sign up for the sleigh ride, they tell you to "dress in layers," because the lodge is very warm.  Apparently, one family didn't get that memo, but didn't let them stop them, because one little girl was dancing around in her pink floral long underwear.  Food was decent and the sleigh ride was nifty, but, honestly, for the amount of money they were charging, they shouldn't have also encouraged tips for the musician and sleigh drivers.  Seriously, for that kind of money, they should pay their damn staff. 

So.  Zip line, alpine coaster and sleigh ride.  I'm wiped.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day One

My bedroom is on the first floor of the condo.  Hard to say exactly how many floors it has -- as there's a loft in there someplace -- but there are 3 or 4 distinct levels.  And hot air rises.  Meaning my room is really cold.  And when I turn on the heat enough to get warm, it gets downright toasty in the upstairs rooms.

Some years ago (when I was in a hotel in New York with no heat -- the little weasels at the desk kept assuring me there was, in fact, heat, until they finally conceded that, yeah, the heat was busted) -- anyway, at that time, I learned that the fastest way to warm up in this situation is to take a nice, hot bath.

So, last night, I piled extra blankets on my bed (I'm using the top bunk of one of the beds -- the heating registers are in the ceiling so the upper bunks are warmer), getting it all ready for me to just jump on in -- and prepared to take a bath.  I lean into the tub and turn on the faucet --

-- and cold water comes out of the shower head right down on the top of my head!  Yeah, that was my plan for warming up:  dousing myself in icy cold water. 

Dried off and proceeded to get my nice warm bath with no further problems.  Got a good night's sleep once I figured out exactly how to place myself in the bed to get the best out of the climate.  Woke up (courtesy my alarm clock) at 9:00.  There is definitely something to be said for being in the downstairs room when there are a couple noisy early-rising kids a few stories above.  Didn't hear 'em at all.

Today was, unfortunately, a bit more laid back than I'd intended.  There were about four activities I'd had in mind for Park City -- and two were closed and the other two I needed to wait for the others for (as they wanted to do them with me).  (And they were off skiing and snowboarding today.)  So today, for me, was spent wandering aimlessly through the little shops in the city center.

The shops in Park City can generally be classified as one of two kinds of shops:  One sells tacky, kitschy souvenirs.  The other sells high-end, overpriced jewelry or art.  In both ends, you can find tons of Native American stuff -- it's just a question of whether you want a cheap-o headdress and dreamcatcher, or some high-end silverjewelry adorned with various stones.  ($240 for a pair of silver and tiger's eye earrings?  $240?!!!)  As my buying habits generally put me somewhere between the two ends, I didn't see much here that appealed, although it was nice for a wander.

Other than that -- had a few meals, played with my friends' kids, poked around on the 'net.  Standard stuff.  Tomorrow, I'll head out for some actual activity.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Greetings from Utah

Hi all!

Here I am in Park City for my not-skiing vacation.  I'm sitting in the living room of our rental condo, watching some NCAA basketball.  I say "our."  I'm here with a bunch of friends -- together we're two married couples, two single people, a four year old, and an infant.  We've piled oursevles into a 3 bedroom + loft condo.  (Somehow I ended up with the bedroom with four bunk beds in it.  I'm not asking.) 

We didn't really do much today, other than get here.  My flight was largely uneventful.  (Delayed, but uneventful.)  I met the gang, we got a couple of rental cars, piled a massive amount of suitcases and gear into (and on top of) the cars, and -- after a quick lunch break -- tooled on out to Park City.  After we found our condo, a few of us ran out to the store for supplies, while others went to a take-out place to get some dinner.  And now, we're just relaxing, putting the kids down, and making tentative plans for tomorrow.

So far, I anticipate two problems with the condo.  The first is that there's only 2 keys to it, which may cause a problem because there's a lot of us.  And the second is the garage.  Getting in and out of it.  The garage opens onto a pretty narrow street.  A one-way street.  Sorta half-way between an alley and a street, actually.  And this condo, while on the side of the street (like all the other condos) is the last one on the street and there's just a WALL at the end of it.  So, basically, to pull into the garage, you've got to make a solid 90 degree turn with very little room to move around.  And the cars we've rented aren't exactly compact.  (We got a Subaru Outback and an SUV.)  Basically, any time you pull in or out of the garage, you need a spotter. 

I'm rethinking the insurance waiver.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Favorite Spelling Error of the Day

Looking at various websites that list cool 40th birthday party ideas, I saw one that suggested the theme:  "Merdi gras."

That's it!  I shall have a "Fat Sh*t" party!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Will Not Get Depressed By This. I Will Not Get Depressed By This.

OK, so I'm like, turning 40 this summer.

I'm largely cool with it.  I would very much like to be out of this condo and in a house by then, but if that doesn't work, it isn't the end of the world.  And it isn't like I haven't done everything I could to move that situation along.  Sh*t happens.  We deal. 

But, other than that, yeah.  Largely cool with it.  Largely happy with life, current state of accomplishments, and so forth.  On a path that seems to be working for me.  Job good.  Cat cute.  Theatre critic thing workin' on the side.  Social life acceptable either way -- if I end up with someone, that's great; but I'm certainly having a good time being single, too.

The other day, though, I was toying with various ideas for a shindig of sorts to celebrate the end of my 30s.  Put together a quick list of folks who I'd want to invite.

And then I realized:  Holy crap.  With, like, two exceptions, all of my friends are married.

I'm not entirely certain when it happened.  (I should be -- I went to a lot of their weddings.)  Clearly I wasn't paying attention.  Somewhere over, say, the last 20 years, I've gone from having nearly all single friends to nearly all married friends. 

Huh.  Odd.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guess it's time for a new router

My internet connection is through a router.

The cable modem sends the internet signal to a router.  Two things come out of my router:  a wired cable that connects to my desktop, and a wireless signal that my laptop can ride off of.  Everyone is happy.

Except, yesterday morning, my internet connection started going all flukey on me.  Not loading pages.  I thought it was because I war running a virus scan at the same time, so I paused the scan, and it kept happening.

Today it happened more.  And, unlike yesterday, it wouldn't fix itself if I just kept hitting reload.

Decided to diagnose the problem.  Step one:  eliminate router from the system, and see if I can get internet when plugging the cable modem directly into the computer.

Answer:  I can.

And, dammit, it's faster than through the router.  Here I was, thinking that the wired cable was just passing the signal through the router, when, apparently, the little detour was taking some speed away.

The irony here is that, since my desktop is so fast, I've barely used my laptop for internet access since the day I bought the desktop.  Sure, I'll still take it with me when travelling.  But I used to use the laptop to check my email when I was still in bed in the mornings, and now I just haul out of bed to the desktop, since it's so darned zippy.  So the router was in my system and slowing me down for no reason at all.

Bye-bye Mr. Router.  It was nice knowing you.

A Word About Free Speech

Ever since Geraldine Ferraro made the statement that got her into so much trouble, I've been reading things (mostly smart-ass 'blog comments) about Free Speech.

Largely along the lines of, "Let her say what she wants; we have free speech in this country."

Or even something that ties it into, "That's why we're fighting in Iraq."

It isn't just about Ferraro, either.  I saw some comments throwing around the "Free Speech" mantra today in response to the news story about that Serbian swimmer who got suspended from the European championships for wearing a T-shirt reading "Kosovo is Serbia." 

Which means that it's time for a refresher course on Free Speech.  The "Free Speech" right that we're familiar with is the one hanging out in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  It says "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech."  The key part in that sentence is "Congress shall make no law."  It does not say, "Hey, everyone has the right to say whatever they want, wherever they want, with no consequences."  What is says is:  the federal government shall not throw your butt in jail for anything you say.

Now, through some nifty jurisprudence, the First Amendment has been made applicable to the States, so it isn't just Congress that can't abridge your right of speech, but also the State legislatures.  So, basically, if you're living in the United States, you can say whatever you want without fear of criminal prosecution.  (There are exceptions for threats and stuff, but let's keep this simple.)

This is a pretty major deal.  We take it for granted so much, we don't often realize how major a deal it is.  But as there are still plenty of countries out there where you can indeed be thrown in prison for speaking your mind (especially when what you are expressing is disagreement with government policy), we should realize how freakin' great it is that Jon Stewart can go on national television and call our Vice President the demon spawn of Darth Vader and Sauron (or whatever) without any sort of fear that the Secret Service will tear down his door and whisk him off to Gitmo in the middle of the night.  Hell, he can even say that without fear that the FCC will yank his show from the airwaves.  Or that he'd get fined.  Because Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  It's an awesome right, and one that we probably take for granted because it is so deeply ingrained in our national identity that the very idea of government sanction for speech is simply foreign to us.

Got that?  Good.  Now let's talk about what "free speech" isn't.  Here's a newsflash.  The government lets you say whatever you want, but I don't have to listen to you.  More than that, I don't have to stand by and let you say it.  I can shout you down.  I can say that this sort of speech is not welcome in my house and kick you out for saying it.  I can decide that what you say is so outrageous, it taints the people who choose to associate with you -- and I can choose not to associate with them (or vote for them).  I can say that this sort of speech is not welcome in my place of business and fire you for saying it.

What I'm trying to say here is that this "free speech" right that we have is not the absolute right to say whatever you want free from consequences -- it is only the right to say it without facing governmental consequences.

So.  Can Ferraro say that Obama wouldn't be where he is if he weren't black?  Sure she can.  Can Reverend Wright say "God damn America"?  Absolutely.  But voters who think these are lousy things to say also have a right to withdraw their support from the candidates with whom the speakers are aligned.  And the candidates have a right to distance themselves from the speakers.  Can the Serbian swimmer stand on a street corner in the middle of America and shout his belief that Kosovo is part of Serbia?  You bet.  But the European swimming championships can have a rule saying you can't talk politics in their house, and you'll be suspended if you do.  And the same would be true of a sporting competition in this country.  Because even though, in this great land of ours, we've decided that the government can't restrict your speech, we have not taken the position that speech can't have any non-governmental consequences.

And that is, in my opinion, absolutely correct.  The government can't -- and shouldn't -- stop you from throwing your point of view out there into the ol' marketplace of ideas.  But once your words are out there, they've gotta be tested -- they've got to compete against everyone else's words in dialogue.  And when what you say is offensive or hurtful, you risk other consequences -- the loss of friendship, business, employment, financial opportunities, swimming medals, and so forth.  Indeed, if our only response to the words of someone else could be, "Well, you've got free speech," words would quickly devalue into meaningless shells -- with everyone muttering away happily to themselves, without disagreement, dialogue, persuasion, give and take, or eventual accord.  If we're going to value speech at all -- if we're going to recognize its awesome power to change the world (which we clearly do, else we wouldn't protect it from government interference), then we have to allow it to have consequences on an individual level.

So, don't go around defending any piece of potential offensive speech by saying, "Free Speech!"  Well, I mean, you can do that without fear of the government coming after you for it -- but if you, that won't stop me from thinking you're an idiot.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No! Not the screwed up exit again!

OK, like, forever ago, I was dating this guy who I had to dump.  It was sort of mandatory, what 'cause he told me he'd slept with his old girlfriend while he was dating me.  And he tells me this outside my building, when he picks me up for a date.  So, I give him a little time to explain, decide that his explanation is woefully inadequate, and get up.  I walk to the security gate, stick my key in the lock and ... it won't open.  You kinda have to jiggle the key to make the gate unlock, and 45 seconds of key-jiggling totally ruined the dramatic exit.

Now, today, I went and (as what I'd thought would be a treat for myself) got a massage.  I hadn't been to the "touchy feely" massage place in a number of months, and might have forgotten why.  I remembered now.  While a lot of their massage techs are pretty good, you never know which one you're going to get, and one of them is pretty rough.  Last time I got a massage from him, I hurt for days.  So, tonight, who greets me at the door but Abusive Masseur.

And he tells me before we start that he's going to do a nice, relaxing, pleasant massage.  And I think, "yeah, that'd be nice."

And then he proceeds to torture me.  I can actually go pretty far on the "exactly how much pressure do you want me to use?" scale.  But dude was pushing down on the tight spots really hard.  With all his body weight.  I could feel his hands shaking from all the pressure.  And, of course, this hurt. 

At first I thought he'd respond to the Universal Signs That You're Hurting Me:  things like gasping or trying to wriggle away from him.  When this didn't work, I moved on to the less-open-to-misinterpretation, "Ow."

His response was, "Yes, I know."  Said, soothingly, like to a little kid complaining about a shot.

You know?  Well, maybe you should stop then.  Because I'm the one paying you.  (Actually, I'm the one who pre-paid you.  But still.  Me: client; You: dude I hired.  Work with me, here.)

Gets to the point where he turns me over and asks how I'm doing.  I say something like, "Not too well," and ask if he's planning on "beating me up on this side, too."

He says, "Aw.  I know it hurts." 

Again, thanks for sharing that knowledge.  How about acting on it?

He puts a hot rock on my chest, and starts attacking my legs.  I think that maybe I can brain him with the rock and make a quick getaway before he realizes what's hit him.

Pretty much wherever he "massages" me, he's going very deep.  He is, probably, actually getting the knots out, but I can't really tell because of the searing pain shooting down my arms and legs.  This lacks those pleasant, relaxing qualities he'd spoken of earlier.  I really consider just throwing off the damn sheet and getting the hell out of there, although how to do this without flashing him is a bit of a problem.  (The idea that I should have verbally kicked him out doesn't come to me until much later.)

The package I've prepaid comes with a "cold stone facial" at the end, where they lightly rub cold stones on your face.  I quite like the feeling (you can almost sense your little pores closing up).  So, on the theory that there isn't much left of me to beat up, I figure I'll stick it out till the cold stone part.  (Because he can't find a way to screw that up.)

He does, in fact, find a way to screw that up.  By omitting it entirely.  One minute, he's bending my feet in some awkward position (which he finally stopped on my direction, "Don't do that!" -- like I need to set my recurrent ankle injury off again), and next thing I know, he's all, "OK, take your time getting up."

He walks out.  I burst into tears.  Furious at myself for sitting there and actually letting this dickwad cause me pain for an hour, and not even getting the cold stone thing I'd been promised.  I get up.  I decide there's no way on this earth I'm going to tip the SOB.  I put my clothes on, open the door, and head straight for the front door to the shop.  It's down a flight of stairs, and he calls after me, "Are you ok?"

No.  No, I'm not.  I'm only about three steps from the door (the prospect of the perfect exit tantalizingly close) and I turn back to him and say, in what I hope is a clear, calm voice (but I know isn't), "When your client says you're hurting her, the proper response isn't to say, 'I know' and keep doing it."  I turn back down the stairs, reach for the door knob and --

-- it's locked!  The damn thing is locked!  Instant flashback to when I dumped that guy and I couldn't get the gate open.  Notagain!  I can't tell whether it's the deadbolt or just one of those turny-things in the doorknob that's the problem, and I start wildly twisting them both in the hopes I'll strike upon the right combination before the moment is gone.

And then, the moron comes to my rescue -- at least, the rescue of my exit.  He starts talking to me again.  "Just so you know:  I wasn't using a lot of pressure.  You're just very sensitive.  And the reason you're upset is --"  SLAM.

Victory is mine!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Well, THAT went surprisingly well

I spent the better part of the last week convincing myself that I wasn't going to have stage fright.  Working on the theory that, hey, it's a mental thing anyway, so I was just gonna make an active decision not to do it.  (There was a small moment of concern that I was spending too much time thinking about the concept of stage fright that I would actually talk myself into it.)  But, basically, I stuck with the "just deciding not to put up with that stage fright crap" thing, and it largely worked.  OK, sure, the first award I presented --

-- perhaps I didn't exactly mention that this was our annual Theatre Awards show.  Put on by the Critics organization of which I am a member.  (But not, thankfully, co-produced by me this year.  Much happiness.)  --

So, the first award I presented, yeah, OK, I messed up on reading the name of the theatre for the first nominee.  But I wasn't wigged out by it or anything, and just plowed on.  And by the end of that first sequence of three awards, I was actually having some fun with it and (and I really love this part) mentally in that "meta-" place where I could actually judge how well it was going over and make the occasional adjustment.  So, yeah, really good, and either I'm actually getting more comfortable on stage, or I can highly recommend the whole Mind Over Stage Fright method.

The more difficult award, though, was one I did later in the evening.  The award presentation was the sign language thing I'd been working on.  We were giving an award to a wonderful ASL interpreter, so we thought it would be nifty if I signed the presentation.  And this actually went over very well.  Got through the presentation with my hands misbehaving only once (well, ok, twice, but it was on the same damn word), earned a couple laughs (only one of which I was actually expecting), and, most importantly, totally pleased the dude who was getting the award.  Because, sure, while for the past month or so, it was all about me learning to sign this thing, what it all REALLY came down to was doing this to convey my admiration for the dude's work.  And I did that.  So I am totally pleased with the evening.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Or Mexico. Mexico's good.

OK, so you all know I've been pondering The Cheap Vacation.  I can use frequent flier miles to get someplace, but I need the someplace to be inexpensive when I get there.  Someplace nice and vacationy.  Perhaps outdoorsy.

And, the other day, I was talking with my friend/neighbor about it, 'cause she needs a vacation too.  Indeed, a friend of mine at work said she was selling a week (at the end of March) in a vacation condo in Hawaii for $1000 -- I mentioned this to the neighbor.  It didn't sound like such a bad idea, but since it was a condo, we'd have to go out and get food and stuff.  Which gets pricy.

So, today, I'm at a show.  (I do that.)  It's a charity benefit, and, during the intermission, they have a silent auction.  For zillions of things.  And the bidders at the auction are usually very generous -- often bidding right up to (and sometimes over) the fair market value of the items.  I've bought a few things at their auction over the years -- but, mostly (because of the charitable nature of the other bidders) my main role at the auction tends to be driving up the bids so the charity makes more money.  So I'm looking over the auction brochure and I see they've got a week for two at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta.  Airfare not included (but that's OK, 'cause I got all them miles).  Meals, drinks, kayaking included.  Market Value:  $1700.

And I think, hell, even if I can't get someone to go with me, it'd probably be worth it at, say, $700.  I mean, $100/day for an all-inclusive -- that's good, right?  So I check out the bidding on it.  There's a guy there bidding on it.  Lurking near it.  He's bid on it four times already, and he's standing by the auction table, sort of daring you to outbid him.  The last bid on the sheet is about $600.  I pretend like I'm not interested and walk away.  Ten minutes later, lurking man is gone, having left a $650 bid.  Auction ends in four minutes.  I write $675 and go back inside the theatre.

While sitting there (in, somewhat ironically, the cheap seats), it dawns on me that I've probably played this wrong.  I'm pretty sure my friend/neighbor would go with me, and if we paid, say, $400 each, that's a fairly awesome deal.  I figure Lurking Man has probably kicked the bid up to $700 now,and I should go back and bid as high as $800 -- and let it fall where it falls.

Except when I get back to the auction table, the auction is over, and there's a little line under my bid, indicating that I've won.

It's been a few hours, and I'm still a bit shocked that I did this.  I mean, sure, I've spent way more than this on a vacation -- but that's been highly researched and deliberated -- I've never ponied up this kind of cash on a ten-second look at a one-page brochure and the thought yeah, "Yeah, Mexico could be nice."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Question for The Not-So-Young-'Uns

OK, yeah, so I'm still having my regular ASL lessons, in order to be able to do this speech in sign.

My tutor is really quite good.  I ended up rewriting half the speech the other day, which -- given the current deadline -- was a pretty scary thing to do, but I was confident enough in her ability to teach me to sign this thing.

We did about four paragraphs today, at which point my brain said, "OK, that's enough to memorize for now.  Let me work on mastering that for a few days and get back to you."

Got me thinking about what it must be like for people who go back to school after a number of years off.  I haven't actually learned anything in quite some time.  Sure, in some ways I learn new things every day, and my job involves a lot of research from which I learn specific things.  But not this kind of learning.  The have-a-teacher-show-you-how-it's-done-and-then-you-go-off-and-do-it type of learning.  I haven't actually done that since Law School.  (Learning to figure skate doesn't count.  Because, there, my brain got hold of something long before my body did -- teaching my body how to do something I mentally understood the mechanics of is, again, a very different type of learning.)  This is strictly get-your-brain-around it stuff.  The hands pretty much do what I tell them.

My tutor thought we could probably cover a few more paragraphs tonight, but I stopped because I didn't trust myself to remember any more signs.

And I thought, "Can I go further tonight?"  And then I thought, "I haven't the foggiest idea."  If I was still in school, I would've known my educational limits for the night, but I was at a total loss.  So I took home what she'd taught me to that point and got to practicing.

But it does raise the question:  Have I actually forgotten how I learn?  And have the rest of you experienced something similar?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Unexpected Trip to the Outlet Mall

I'm really going to have to sell my condo soon, before I spend all my money.  Whenever we have an open house, I have to leave.  First time, I went to tea with a friend.  Yesterday, I went to the outlet mall to kill a few hours.

And dump a few bucks.

In fact, I did rather better than I thought I would, see as I didn't buy the leather jacket.

(This was partly due to the collar being slightly tweaked out of shape, and partly due to the idiot salesgirl who picked my bags up off the floor and took them behind the counter, without even telling me.  Even after I stood there for a few minutes, staring at the place my bags used to be thinking, "what would a thief want with six pairs of off-price underwear?"  Even after I walked up to her.  No, she didn't tell me she'd taken my bags until I asked, "Um, did you take my bags someplace or did someone walk off with my stuff?"  I appreciate her concern for my stuff's safety, but would it really have been hard to say, "Um, hey, I'm putting your stuff behind the counter for safekeeping?"  Instead she said, "Yeah.  Anything on the floor we take back behind the counter."  Like I was an idiot for not being aware of this particular store policy.)

Bought two big fleece pull-over hoodies, because they were $10 each.  Conversation with Eddie Bauer Outlet saleschick:

"Wow.  $10.  Really?  Marked down from $30?"


"What's wrong with them?"


"Come on.  Ten bucks?  Are you sure there's nothing wrong with them?"

"They're very warm."

Ah, yes.  It's over 70 degrees here.  Fleece pullovers aren't exactly leaping off the shelves.

But, if you're planning a ski trip...  SCORE!

Props also to the saleslady in the Jockey store who did not laugh at me when I asked to use a fitting room although I had nothing in my hand to try on.  But it did seem better to go someplace private rather than stand there in the middle of the store and try to ever-so-subtlely peek around and see what size underwear I wear (without giving myself a wedgie).  Hey, at least I didn't ask her to check for me.