Friday, October 31, 2008

A Few Words About Prop 8

Apparently, I still have the urge to be political in this 'blog (which I so rarely do), so I might as well get this one off my chest.

To review: The California Supreme Court recently interpreted the Equal Protection guarantee of the California Constitution to require that California extend the (state) right of marriage to homosexuals.

Proposition 8 seeks to overturn that decision by writing into the State Constitution that marriage in this state is reserved for heterosexuals.

Or, putting it another way, Prop 8 wants to pretty much put an asterisk next to California's guarantee of Equal Protection, with a little footnote that says, "except for gay people."

I am against this for a whole variety of reasons. Mostly because I can't think of any reason why my gay friends who are lucky enough to have found someone with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives shouldn't be allowed to have that relationship recognized by law like everyone else's. And also because I have yet to hear a reason why they should not be permitted to do so that isn't grounded in personal religious beliefs, and individual religious beliefs are not really a legitimate basis for state legislation.

But I'm not posting to here to argue in favor of gay marriage right now. I'm posting here to argue against Prop 8 -- and that really is a different argument.

See, we've been taught (as a matter of history) that there have been times when people -- often at great personal risk to themselves -- stood up to protect a victimized minority against a majority. And we've also been taught to admire these folks -- the abolitionists who helped run the underground railroad; the "righteous among nations" who helped save Jews from the holocaust; the white South Africans who stood up against apartheid.

(Yes, you're going to say that we're not enslaving homosexuals, or exterminating them, or segregating their communities. And you're right. And that's not my point.)

My point is, when I learned about these good people, I wondered, "If the situation ever arose, would I be like them?" Would I have the good sense to resist society's peer pressure, to realize that the status quo is wrong, and to come down on the side that history would eventually determine was obviously correct? Would I have had the foresight to know that slavery is wrong, or would I have sat happily on my plantation like everyone else, thinking that that's just the way it is, and that obviously you can't treat slaves like, y'know, people? And even if I knew it, would I have had the courage to act on it, and stand up against a society aligned against me, to side with the people who needed to be sided with?

And it recently hit me that this is that situation. I honestly never imagined that it would happen in my lifetime, in my country, but here it is. Prop 8 is trying to constitutionalize discrimination. Whether we personally approve of gay marriage or not, we should all oppose this. This is the "majority" trying to take away the rights of a minority group, and we should all be insanely vigilant against that sort of thing -- even if only because we should all understand that we may sometime find ourselves in a minority, and we'd want that same protection for ourselves.

And the beauty part here is that we can do the right thing without risk. We don't have to hide anyone in our attic, lie to the police, or suffer acts of violence because we're publicly standing up for the oppressed minority. We can do this simply, and quietly, in the privacy of the voting booth. Just by voting "no."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And, in case anyone else needs a brain wipe after that last post


This is all three of our dolphins leaping right in front of us. (The four of us and the two trainers.)

Again, I stress how awesomely cool it was for us to have three dolphins. When I went back later for zip-lining, we met near the pool, and I saw ten guests there with two dolphins. So we totally lucked out in terms of dolphin to human ratio.

This one is me "dancing" with Nemo. It's one of those pictures where you feel really stupid and awkward in the pose, but it makes a really good snap. Perhaps because Nemo seems so into it.

And hugging Nemo. You gotta hug your dolphin.

And feeding Nemo. I actually got to feed him twice because, the first time, I fed him before they snapped the picture. Something about being about a foot away from the open mouth (with all those tooth) expectantly waiting for a fish makes you want to drop that fish in there immediately.

After this picture, they gave my friend a fish and told her to feed Nemo, and she did exactly the same thing.

Favorite picture. Right here.

That there is the Zen of the Belly Ride.

They did not have any decent pictures of me riding the zip lines. This does not suprise me. It is the third time I've been zip lining, and none of the photos have ever turned out splendidly.

This time, they had many pictures of the other people riding the zip lines, but somehow missed me. They took a bunch of pictures of me on the "Tarzan rope," but since I agreed to spin all the way across, it's just me, with my knees bent, in a blur, with the scenery behind me substantially more blurred.

So, this was the only picture I bought (and since it manages to really highlight my butt, you can imagine how lousy the others were). It's me rappelling down the line at the end of the course.

The Vacation That Keeps on Giving

Apparently, I brought back an additional souvenir from Mexico. A little bacterial stowaway in my digestive system.

I don't know why this surprised me, exactly. I'm certainly not the first person to come back from Mexico with this particular malady. What I did not know, however, is that it can't be cured with the usual stuff one takes to deal with these symptoms. One needs a prescription antibiotic.

Keeping things really exciting, one actually needs the prescription antibiotic to which I am allergic. My doctor was just about to write the prescription for it when I reminded him of this fact. ("Can't believe I forgot that," he says, "You're my only patient with this allergy.") This sent him out of the exam room and into his office for a little research.

Ah, there's nothing like presenting a challenge to your medical professional.

Took him a good fifteen minutes to come up with "plan B" and the assurance that there's no indication of cross-allergies between this drug and the one to which I had reacted badly. I'm actually pretty lucky in this regard, as this here other antibiotic is fairly new and is supposed to be even better than the standard treatment.

I very nearly asked why, if it is better, it isn't the "go to" antibiotic. I didn't ask. I got my answer at the pharmacy, in the form of a $45 copay. My doctor, bless his heart, wrote the prescription for the generic version of the drug, but this one is so new that it isn't generic yet -- meaning that I have to have the brand name version, and my health plan (in its attempt to steer me toward generic alternatives) charges me $45 for it.

(If I'd had the foresight to ask my doctor for a letter documenting the necessity of this drug over the other, I could submit it to my health plan and, if approved, could get a $15 refund. My health plan has also made the refund amount just small enough that the expense in time and effort of entering the "appeal process" and getting one's doctor to write the necessary letter outweighs the amount of the refund. Sneaky little bastards, aren't they?)

So, now I have this shiny new top-of-the-line antibiotic, to kick the ass of my run-of-the-mill Mexican bacteria. Hopefully, the little bug won't stand a chance.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Most Amazing Thing About Mexico

... I did not gain weight.

This is truly amazing. Especially when you understand the quantity of crap I consumed, compared to what I eat normally.

Normally, I eat one container of yogurt for breakfast, a lowfat six-inch Subway sandwich and apple slices for lunch, a piece of string cheese and fruit for a snack, and a salad or four-ounces of meat and some fruit and veggies for dinner. I'm allowed 300 "discretionary calories" to blow on desserts and munchies and stuff.

At the resort, my breakfast consisted of pancakes or french toast (with butter and syrup), some yummy sweet pastry thing that looked like a dough bow-tie dusted in powdered sugar, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, and some fruit. Lunch was a hamburger or hotdog with fries. And I'm not even talking about good all-beef hamburgers and hotdogs. These just gave the impression of once having been near beef. And while dinner varied every night, some things were the same. The meat was always in a heavy sauce (which I never really understood, as the buffet always had 8 different sauces on it, but nothing sauce-less for you to put them on). The rice was always swimming in butter, except on "Oriental Night," when it was fried. (The beans, of course, were always refried.) The "steamed vegetables" had been steamed in a vat of butter. The breads were always served with butter (I don't think there was margarine in the place). All the cakes were soaked in alcohol, except the ones soaked in butter and alcohol. And if you were feeling decaffeinated soda-wise (which I was), your only choice was full-force Sprite, so there's 100 calories right there.

It sorta reminded me of how people cooked maybe thirty or forty years ago, when a "healthy meal" was all about having one item from each of the four food groups, and nobody paid any attention to calories or fat or anything pesky like that.

And did I mention that, during those two hours when (gasp) there was no food out, my friend and I kept ourselves going with creme-filled cookies and candy?)

And I did not gain weight.

This irks me a bit. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy that falling off the wagon did not cost me anything. But, a coupla years ago, I had my weight down to [insert cool number here] and (thanks to other vacations), it has moved up about 5 or 10 pounds, and even though I'm eating exactly what I ate the first time I lost this weight (and exercising exactly as little as I did then), I can't seem to lose it again. But when I pig out in Puerto Vallarta, the weight stays the same.

So I say to myself, "Self, what was different about Puerto Vallarta?" And I come up with three answers.

First, it was hot. It was really, really hot. Perhaps I actually needed the extra caloric intake to function because the sun was just sucking all the life out of me.

Second, I slept. Lots. Sometimes as much as ten hours. While, normally, it isn't unusual for me to get between 5 and 6 hours.

(Between these two items, I am totally understanding the whole siesta thing.)

Third, I was stress-free. Sure, there were small e-mail crises, but I didn't really realize how stress-free I was until around 3:00 today when I again became stressed. Work was being stressy, theatre critic stuff was being stressy, and the world was just, y'know, pissing me off. Whereas in Mexico, I was swimming with dolphins.

Conclusion: More sleep + less stress = weight loss.

Now. How to test this hypothesis... I think I need some dolphins.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last day in Mexico

Beach. Sit. Lounge chair. Cabana. Drink. Sunset.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Zipping through the trees

My friend had initially wanted to go zip-lining in Mexico. Then, some people told her that zip-lining in Mexico wasn´t the safest thing on earth, so we thought we´d give it a pass. But when we were doing the dolphin thing (three dolphins for four of us!) the folks we were with said they´d gone zip-lining with this company earlier in the week, and that it was really safe. Double safety lines, helmets (one zip-lining company we saw on the net did not have helmets in the photos) and a bunch of guides all focused on safety. I was convinced, but my friend decided to sit this one out.

So, at 1:00 this afternoon, I was piled in a jeep with 11 other people, for a one hour ride up into the mountains for zip-lining.

Nearly got car sick in the jeep, but started staring the floor, and that got me there ok. Once we got in and suited up (with safety briefing) we went up into the trees.

The dudes we did the dolphins with advised that you should bring a change of clothes if zip-lining. I did not follow this advice as I didn´t understand it. Once I was up in the trees, I understood it. It´s hot and humid up there, and within about 5 minutes, I was drenched with sweat. Quite literally. My clothes were soggy. My eyeglasses were fogging up. I was rolling up my sleeves, and joking that maybe I ought to just zip naked.

The zip lines were TERRIFIC, though. Including one long one (maned Big Papa) that was 660 feet. We couldn´t even see the end of it before we went.

Near the end was a "tarzan swing" -- although it wasn´t just a rope -- we were hooked on just like with a zip line -- and some of us spun all the way over. They asked if I waned to spin, I said maybe. They said "maybe means yes" and I went for it -- spinning across a river. Too fun!

Shortly thereafter, one of the guides reached over and did something with my shirt -- apparently one of my buttons (yes, that one) had undone itself, and Lucas was the only one who noticed. (Not any of the women, of course.) Guess I nearly WAS zip-lining naked.

And we rappelled at the end. (I have a pic of that.) Never done that before, and also WAY FUN.

Not so fun was the jeep ride back -- where I kept my lunch (by staring straight at the floor) but the little kid next to me didn´t. Barfed right over the edge of the jeep. Poor kid. But ... other than nearly getting, you know, barfed on, it was a terrific day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


We went swimming with dolphins today! Yay!!

I acted like I was about 7 years old when we were waiting for our "briefing." We were sitting on some wooden benches facing forward -- but behind us was the pool with the dolphins in it. They were jumping and practicing tricks and generally doing everything the trainers wanted in order to get some yummy fish. Right there. In the pool. Where we were going to be. Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy!

We were with Vallarta Adventures. Said company has a great big pool (filled with ocean water) and a bunch of dolphins that were pretty much born in captivity. Very friendly, socialized dolphins. (Dolphins who had grown quite accustomed to getting fish several times a day and not having to hunt for it. Dolphins who were more than happy to play with humans for a half hour.)

They run two dolphin programs. Actually, we took the cheaper one, which turned out to be the best. See, the more expensive program is "limited to groups of 10." The cheaper one, as it happened, had only four people signed up for it. So there were four of us and four dolphins. Seriously. We pretty much each had our own dolphin. (Well, until one of our dolphins decided she´d rather eat fish, so we were left with three.)

We pet dolphins. We kissed and hugged dolphins. We had a "belly swim" -- and there were so few of us, we each had TWO belly swims. And dancing with dolphins. And feeding dolphins. And massaging dolphins. And tickling them under their flippers, which they love, just like my cat does.

Then, of course, we purchased the photos of all of the aforementioned dolphin activities. The dolphin swim was actually quite reasonably priced -- which they make up for with the cost of the photos. I shit you not -- I paid MORE for dolphin photos than I did for actually doing the stuff that got photographed. (You will see all my nice, pretty dolphin pix as soon as I get back. My uploading options here are quite limited.)

YAY! Huge smile! Dolphins rock!

Samba Vallarta

We´re staying at a hotel called Samba Vallarta.

Longtime readers of my blog may recall that I´ve ended up here on a bit of a fluke -- I bid on a one-week vacation package at a silent auction. Normally, I research the hell out of a place before I book a stay there. Here, all I had was a small color brochure.

The place isn´t bad. Indeed, in some ways, the small color brochure didn´t do it justice, as it has some picture postcard views. The place is on the beach (well, a stairway UP from the beach), so it has gorgeous ocean views. There are also three pools, zillions of deck chairs around them, palm trees, and well-manicured topiary as well. (We walked by an odd shaped tree the other day, and I burst out with "smiley face!" as, indeed, the tree had been cut to look like one.) It´s a very pretty hotel.

And, as we learned quite by accident, if you leave a gratuity for the housekeeper (or, as we did, if you happen to leave a buck out on the dresser), she will leave you your towels folded in some cute towel origami figure. First day it was a bath towel and a hand towel folded into an elephant. Second day, we got a bath towel, bath mat, and hand towel all together in the shape of a little doll, leaning up against my pillow. Way cute, and worth the buck.

The downside is ... well, the food, really. It´s an all-inclusive resort, with buffet meals every night. Breakfast is good (once we discovered the lady making eggs over in the corner). Lunches consist of hamburgers, hotdogs and fries ... and, when I bit into my first hamburger, I had a flashback to school lunch burgers. It had that same not-quite-beef taste that comes from patties bought in boxes of a thousand. Dinners are hit or miss -- every night is a different menu and some are clearly better than others. I read a review on TripAdvisor that said Mexican Night kinda blows -- I wouldn´t have believed it if I hadn´t seen it, but, indeed, the hotel in Mexico kinda sucks at making Mexican food.

They also promise activities -- including free kayak rentals. Of course, the waves are very high here and someone with my vast experience kayaking in the ocean (i.e. flipped my kayak the one time I tried to come back to shore among waves) isn´t going anywhere near them. So, even though the "all-inclusive" resort includes kayaks, we´re planning a day trip to some secluded bay someplace where the water is safer for such water sports.

But, for lying by the pool and lazing around? This place rocks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Juan -- Happiest Man in Mexico

And I´ve only got 9 minutes to tell you about Juan.

Our first day here, we took a sort of "Introduction to Puerto Vallarta" tour, which piled us all into an air-conditioned bus, took us into the city, gave us a walk around the historic Church, took us to a store where we could get "the best prices on good silver" (which is code for "kickback for the tour company"), a small square where merchants were selling more, uh... crappy goods (kickback also, we´re pretty sure) and then drove us way into the mountains where we had lovely views of the city, drove through a very poor town (to see the "other side of Puerto Vallarta") and eventually met Juan.

Juan works at what was, for some, the raïson d´être of this tour. Juan works at a Tequila factory.

Not a big place. Up in the mountains. Sort of a giant carport in which there are various vats, barrels, and stills. The first distillation of a batch of tequila is not drinkable (being ethanol or something) so they use it to hose down the place. Which gives it a nice alcoholy smell before you even step inside.

Juan takes pride in his work. He tells us all about how Tequila is made. He tells us how to tell good tequila from bad tequila. He tells us how to tell girl agave plants from boy agave plants. He tells us how many bottles of tequila we can take back to our respective countries without violating Customs regulations.

And he has samples. About 6 shots per person, to taste various tequilas. I stopped after the second. Juan says we should never drink alone, so drank with the group on all 6.

Juan drank my unconsumed third shot, too -- as we should never waste tequila.

And after our tour group left, another group came in, giving Juan another opportunity to proudly show off his tequila-making operation, and to continue to get toasted with the tourists.

This repeats all day long.

Juan loves his job.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Greetings from Puerto Vallarta. (Where my "all inclusive" resort charges a peso per minute for the internet, so I´ve got to type fast.)

Travel tip for Puerto Vallarta -- and, honestly, why this isn´t in Wikipedia I´ll never know -- the little weasels who try to sell you time shares are IN THE FREAKIN AIRPORT. They are, in fact, licensed by the freakin airport.

I explain: We get off the plane. We go through immigration. We go through customs (where, due to an amusing miscommunication, the agent thought my friend was smuggling a chicken in her luggage), and then "Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!"

I pre-booked transportation to the hotel. I had a receipt that told me to look for "Timon Tours." Once we exit customs, there´s guys standing there, wearing airport badges, asking you what tour company you are looking for. I say Timon Tours. He says "This way" and takes us over to a lady at the counter. She asks to see my reservation. I give it to her. She says the bus will come in 20 minutes and will be a 45 minute ride to the hotel, because it will have many stops on the way. In the meantime, she offers to give us valuable information such as where to get money exchanged, and what tours to take.

I eventually notice that she is wearing a badge that says "Paradise Village" on it (not "Timon Tours.") I also am very concerned that she has taken custody of my reservation. My friend (who was not wearing her glasses) did not catch on to this as quickly as I did, so kept asking questions about different tours to take.

The lady is missing a brochure for one of the tours. She starts looking for a piece of paper to write the number on. I tell her to use the back of my reservation. This guarantees that she has to give it back to us. Ha.

Eventually, Paradise Village lady swoops in for the kill. All the tours we want add up to $500, but if we agree to sit through a 1-hour no pressure (right) sales presentation at Paradise Village, she´ll do it for $200. Um, no. We start to walk away (reservation now in hand).

She´ll throw in massages for each of us. Still no.

She tries wheedling instead. She´s on commission. She knows we´ll sign up with SOMEONE for a time share presentation later in our trip -- can´t we please go with her since she gave us all this valuable information? No a third time.

We leave that room and enter the actual airport. The guy from Timon Tours has been waiting there for us. With a car, that takes us directly to our hotel. (No stops. No 45 minutes.)

Apparently, we got off easy. With some of the guests, she convinces them to take her "free taxi" instead of the "45 minute bus ride" -- and, not surprisingly, the taxi just HAPPENS to deliver you to Paradise Village.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Last Name

Just got a call from someone asking for "Sue [insert my last name here]." I told her I'm not Sue, but she has the last name right. I don't know any Sue [my last name]. Odds are that we're related, but not in any way that I know. My last name is, you might say, on the uncommon side. It isn't unique, but it isn't one you come across every day. My uncle once engaged in a geneology project -- hunting down everyone he could find on the internet with our last name, and seeing if he could find the common ancestor. He couldn't; but if I recall it correctly, he managed to trace us all to about three separate branches -- he just couldn't find a way to connect those three branches.

Felt bad for the caller; apparently she was friends with Sue some twenty years ago, and was trying to reconnect. As I think my phone book listing is "S [my last name]," it certainly was a reasonable guess.

Got me thinking about the frequency with which I run across people with my name. Which is: generally not (unless I'm at a family reunion). But I have this theory that there's one of us in every industry. My friends who went to Monroe High School asked if my Dad taught History there. (No.) My opthalmologist asked if my Dad was an eye doctor too. (No.) When I worked as an usher at a movie theatre, the projectionist asked if my Dad was a projectionist. (Nope again.) And, to my knowledge, I'm not related to any of those people.

I am both a lawyer and a theatre critic. I am not the first in either line of work. When I was in Law School, a friend came across a business card of a lawyer with my name (my first name, too!) at some coffee shop. I called the lawyer; she'd just won a case and took me to lunch. (She then fixed me up with her brother, on the theory that if we got married, I wouldn't really have to decide whether to take his last name or keep my own.) And there's another theatre writer in Los Angeles with my last name. For a while, some publicists thought we were the same person. (One knows we're two, but thinks we live at the same place, and sends me mail addressed to both of us.) When I explained to one publicist that we weren't (to my knowledge) related, she sat us together so we could meet. Couldn't find the common ancestor there, either, but it was nice to put a face to the name.

My name. My Dad's name. My grandfather's name. I don't think I'd ever change it -- if the opportunity were to present itself. It's who I am, and who my grandfather was. It's on my diplomas and on the deed to my condo (which I just signed and notarized -- and hopefully will be replacing, soon, with a deed to a house). But it's my branch of the family. It's my grandfather coming to America from Eastern Europe. It's him working a shit job to provide for his family. It's my father going to college and working hard to make a better life for his family. It's him sending me to Law School so I can have it even easier. It's my own accomplishments -- not standing alone, but considered as simply a continuation of theirs -- the product of their efforts and the current result of their drive. My place in my own family history.

And, someday, I hope that some kid in one of the other branches of the family, is asked if they're related to "the lawyer" or "the theatre critic" -- and they'll say no, having never even heard of me. But they'll know that I'm out of there, making another mark for the name.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Catnip Banana

A friend at work gave me a banana-shaped toy filled with catnip for my cat.

And now, for your amusement, my interpretation of Jasmine's thought-processes upon being presented with the catnip banana....

What are you waving in front of me? Yes, I can see that it's a toy, but it's a big toy. I don't like big toys. I like little toys that I can bat around. Does this look like something I can bat around? No. Then why would I play with it? OK, fine. I shall humor you by smelling the toy, then I will walk away with my tail in the air expressing my indifferen--


Let me sniff that again.

OMG! OMG! OMG! I have to have that! Give me the banana! Yes! Give it to me now! Now, human! Now!

Ha Ha! I've got it! The banana is mine! I'm queen of the world! I'm the best cat ever! I am so awesome! I can do anything! I can bounce off the walls! Look at me! Bouncing off the walls!

But how to get more of this delightful aroma? Perhaps if I rip into the banana, its catnippy goodness will spill out all over me and I can frolic in its leaves until I pass out -- and then happily spend the next few days picking little bits out of my fur.

But. I. Can't. Get. It. Open.

Perhaps if I hold it in my rear paws and then rip it with my teeth? Yes, yes, that's it. Kick more! Kick more! Rip more!

Hmmm. This is made of sturdy stuff. I shall continue ripping at it.


Those dozens of holes I've made in it with my teeth? That gets me even closer to the stuff inside! Smell it now! Oh yes! Bliss! I must rub myself all over with this toy! Then I can carry its joyous scent with me wherever I go! Think of the power! Oh yes! YES!!

I wuv you, banana.

What's that I hear in the distance? I know that sound. That's human laughter. Didn't I know a human once? I think I might have. Doesn't matter now. I have the banana!!!!

Quick Update

It may, actually, be easy.

The thing in the inspection report that I've got to get the HOA to take care of? The HOA already intends to take care of.

And my agent agreed to take care of the rest of it when I'm in Mexico on vacation. (Did I mention I'm going to Mexico?)

:::Fingers Crossed:::

Monday, October 13, 2008

And on the home selling/buying front

The home inspector came by this week and reported that my condo is largely "satisfactory."

Who knew?

Of course, there is a small list of items in which it is not satisfactory, for which I'll have to have a handyman out, and the air conditioning guy, and potentially an electrician. My immediate thought is to call all these people and have them out.

My second thought is to tell my real estate agent to call all these people and have them out.

I like my second thought better.

And, because it is never easy, one of the things the inspector found is something that it's the HOA's responsibility to fix. And the buyers want me to notify the HOA of the problem and ask them to repair it before close of escrow. (Depending on how one parses that sentence, I have already satisfied my obligation by notifying the HOA and asking them to repair it -- since it is prior to close of escrow. I'm guessing that's not what they had in mind.) But, yet again, I'm potentially in a situation where my ability to close the deal depends on something beyond my control -- basically, the HOA getting something repaired. Now, to be fair, the particular problem sounds to me like (a) something easy to repair; and (b) something the HOA would probably be happy to fix once alerted to the problem. (And I note that two other units recently sold in this building -- why didn't their inspectors notice this?) But, given past experience, I anticipate passing the info on to the HOA, and having them say, "We looked at it, and we don't see anything wrong with it." Or any one of a number of different responses that are not, "yeah, sure, we'll have that done next week."

Sigh. Stress. Sigh.


Hit the mall at 10:00 a.m.

Left the mall at 7:30 p.m.

This is not sane.

Around 3:00, I called home to check my messages, and found a "early fraud alert" from my credit card company. "Yes, yes, it's me. I did that. Yes, that one too. Yes, they're all me." I never complain when Citibank flags suspicious activity, but they do seem to be getting more suspicious lately. This is my third annual Columbus Day shopping trip to this mall, and they never flagged it before -- and I spent way more money the other times.

Yeah, the trip wasn't entirely successful -- I managed only about five Christmas presents. But I bought about 11 things for me, so it wasn't a total loss. :)

Two blog-worthy events --

1. In Cost Plus World Market, they carry a Kosher Teriyaki Sauce. The label says .... (anyone? anyone?) "Soy Vey."

2. Wandering in Bed Bath & Beyond -- and I mean wandering. Bed Bath & Beyond is at about the three-quarter point in my journey through the mall. While I've recently been fired up by lunch, I'm still starting to fade, and the synapses aren't firing as quickly as I'd like. So, I'm wandering in Bed Bath & Beyond, and a dude stops me and says, "Are you married to Scott?"

"Um, no. Sorry." (Continue pushing shopping cart.)

"You look really familiar."

He does not look familiar to me. But, y'know, synapses firing slowly. I give him the benefit of the doubt. I am certain, however, that I'm not married to Scott. I'd remember something like marriage.

"Are you married at all?"

I say "No," before my brain starts waving the red flag that says, "Who tries to pick up women in Bed Bath & Beyond??"

"You're very beautiful."

I smile and say "thanks," because that's what we do as reflex. This, however, knocks me back into consciousness. Don't get me wrong here, the following is not low self-esteem talking. I am not beautiful today. I am, to be sure, capable of beautiful. Today, however, I'm not even close. Jeans. Sweatshirt (with, I noticed later, lunch stain on it). Hair pulled back in a scrunchie. No make-up to speak of. Eyes looking vaguely in different directions. Lips so chapped they hurt. Objective evaluation comes up with: No; not remotely beautiful. He's giving you a line.

He holds out his hand and says, "I'm Steve."
I shake it and say, "I'm Sarah."

(I'm not really Sarah. I'm sorta Sarah. It's an 80% lie.)

I give him a wave and start walking off to shop.

He goes on. "Do you live around here?"

Ha. My brain really wants to say, "Dude, you are SO wasting your time," but instead I just say, "No; I've just come down here for my annual holiday shopping." He doesn't take Geographical Inconvenience for "no" and presses, "What do you like to do for fun?" (My brain says, "I'm not sure; but getting picked up in Bed Bath & Beyond is not on the list.) I smile and laugh and say, "I've really got to get back to shopping" and head on off into the store.

I don't look back. I don't listen back either, but I thought I might've head him say something about how totally rude I was.

(Why, exactly? Because I didn't want to try out the mattresses with you??)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I looked into blogger help re: the "flag this blog" business -- and apparently, according to blogger, you can "unflag" a blog if you change your mind.

Of course, my phone -- which is now certain I've flagged the blog as objectionable -- does not show the unflag button.

I'm gonna have WORDS with Verizon.

My blog -- she is not objectionable.

My phone is a prude.

I have one of those phones that claims internet access. It's not completely useless in terms of email (but can't get the email from one of my accounts, because said account stupidly requires cookies), but its internet capabilities are largely exaggerated.

Case in point: Thought I'd take a look at my blog from my phone. (I'm away from home. Not really away away, just spending the night at a hotel near the "biggest indoor mall West of the Mississippi" (so says their website) so I can get up bright and early and attack my holiday shopping tomorrow.) In any event, I typed in the blog's new URL in my phone, and my phone started loading the page.

First, it loaded the text.

Then, while loading, it loaded a line that read "Flag this blog to blogger for objectionable content."

Then, without me doing a damn thing, it changed that line to read "You have flagged this blog as having objectionable content."

Really? I flagged my own blog? That'd be pretty stupid, wouldn't it?

I immediately turned off my phone, hoping that the thought police over here at blogger wouldn't be pounding down my cyber-door and killing the blog I so painstakingly created (and so recently moved).

Five minutes later I tried again -- to see if I couldn't figure out what happened.

What happened was: it did the same thing again. Now I've apparently twice flagged my own blog as objectionable.

Am awaiting the thought police at any minute now. Hopefully, this won't be my last entry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yes! We have the technology!

Yeah, ok, I likes me some Brit TV.

(BTW, is it odd that Blogger's "profile" thing asks your favorite movies. music, and books, but not TV programs? I understand leaving out theatre (although, being a theatre critic on the side, I do have favorite plays and musicals) but TV? Dude. The masses watch TV.)

ANYWAY, I like, and watch, a reasonable amount of British TV. (Thank you, BBC America.) But an hour-long program (programme?) in the UK is not an hour-long program in the U.S., as our hour-long shows are about 40 minutes, thanks to commercials. Meaning that, if you want to watch an entire British TV show, as it was intended to be seen, you probably need to get your hands on some DVDs and the right technology.

I have both. Thanks to what is, absolutely, the best customer review in the history of Amazon, I could acquire, for a reasonable price, a DVD player that plays British DVDs on an American TV. (Because, y'know, region coding normally makes it impossible to play foreign DVDs on a domsestic player.) Thanks to Amazon's UK Sister, I can acquire said British DVDs. Life is awesome.

But, let's just suppose, hypothetically, that I wanted to share my love for these British TV programs with a few of my friends. Historically, this has been possible only by bringing said friends into my living room. But let's suppose that I'd like to share my love for these British TV programs with my friends in their own living rooms. Historically, this has been possible only by giving said friends a code-free DVD player. (Which I've actually done. Honestly, I should just buy those things in bulk.)

A couple of months ago, I purchased a DVD Recorder. The purpose of said piece of tech is to act much like a VCR -- it records stuff to DVD (for personal use, of course). My cable TV DVR comes with a "record to VCR" feature, by which it sends a copy of any program (saved on the DVR) to the VCR on the receiving end. The beauty part is that the cable DVR box has no idea what the machine on the receiving end happens to be. So, if I plug the DVD Recorder in there, I can now make copies of stuff I've recorded off television. (For personal use.)

Which leads me to last night's journey into ... well, into the web of cables hiding behind my TV (which is now, in case you've lost count, hooked up to: The code-free DVD player, the DVD recorder, the cable DVR box, and a Pinnacle ... thing that functions like a slingbox). Suppose I wanted to, say, personally use a DVD of a British TV program over at a friend's house, when my friend (sadly) does not own a code free DVD player? Can I play the damn thing on the code-free player but have the audio and video feeds go not to the TV, but instead to the inputs of the DVD Recorder? Thereby making an American DVD copy of a British DVD. (For personal use.)

Why, yes. Yes, I can. (Joy!)

The DVD player only has one set of outputs. So I attach the outputs to the TV, crank up the British DVD, go through the menus, get it to the first screen of the actual program, pause it, change the outputs to go to the inputs of the DVD recorder, and hit record on the recorder while I un-pause the DVD player. I'm flying blind, but I can do it.

And the unexpected bonus of this was that, I wasn't flying blind. Since the DVD Recorder has outputs to the TV, I can actually watch what I'm recording, as it just passes the signal right out through. Score!

(Do you know what this means? I can now show people what the original Life on Mars looked like, rather than just saying, "No, really, it's better than the one on ABC.")

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Arial Curse

I see the Arial Curse has followed me from AOL.

I like typing in Arial. It's my font of choice.

And there was something really weird about it on AOL. Despite the fact my journal was set to default to Arial 12, it would actually default to Arial 10. But it thought it was 12. So I'd have to change the font on the whole thing to something else (like 14-point) and then I could size it back to 12 and it would go to 12.

So, it transfers my entire journal in what appears to be a good, normal size of text. I write a new entry. I tell it to make my text "Small" because that looks good on the screen. I preview it. It previews at the same size as the transferred entries. I post it. As you can see, it comes out teeny tiny.

So, I went back in and changed the text size to "normal." Did it change it? Only in preview. In the journal, it came out as "small" again. I tried kicking it up to the next size ("large") and it was freakin' HUGE. Normal sized text in Arial? Sorry, apparently we can't do that.

(Bear with me. My posts are generally more interesting than bitching about font size.)

Checkin' Out the New Digs

So. This is blogger.

:::looks around, checks out the scenery:::

Looks pretty user-friendly, which is good, because I don't have time for anything that will require actual effort to figure it out.

In other news, I may be making a rather larger move. One in the real world.

Yes, kids, after (more or less) two years of listing and unlisting my condo, I actually have a tentative deal to sell it.

(Insert tentative dance of tentative joy. Knock on wood many times.)

We opened escrow this week; apparently survived the buyer's inspection and termite inspection; and the buyer is pre-approved for a loan. Still, we've got a couple weeks of contingencies left, and if I know anything about selling this place, it's not to believe it is
actually sold until such time as I have a big pile of money in my hand and they have the keys.

So, forgive me if I'm a bit distracted right now. I'm alternating between excitement over the idea that I'll get a house ... and stress over the idea that I might not.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dude. Good luck with that.

Dude in line in front of me at the grocery store was purchasing two packs of condoms ... and a home pregnancy test.