Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution

I never have them; never keep them if I do.

But I just thought of one for this year which I am planning to keep.

Resolved:  To use all of my gift cards.

(Conveniently, most of my gift cards have no expiration, or monthly non-use charge.  Thank you, California.)

Having gone through the stack, I have, in no particular order:

- 3 Home Depots
- an AMC Movies (also: an AMC gift certificate ticket, an Edwards Cinemas gift certificate ticket, and 2 Pacific Theaters gift certificate booklets -- clearly, I have movies to see in 2010)
- 2 Bath & Body Works
- 3 Barnes & Noble
- 1 Cost Plus World Market (did I take it when I went to Cost Plus last week?  Noooo.)
- 1 Virgin Megastore
- 2 iTunes (started using them immediately -- yay for free music!)
- 2 Bed Bath & Beyond
- 1 Disney Store
- 1 Petco
- 1 Macy's
- 1 Visa


- a Cheesecake Factory card with $2 left on it

There is such a shopping spree in my future.  And about a third of a piece of cheesecake.

Entries You Would Have Gotten

Yeah, been busy lately.  Here are some brief overviews of the things I would have been blogging, had I not actually been, y'know, doing them...

1.  What is it about the days around the holidays that make them "bring your kids to work day"? And, somewhat related to that, why is it that, in the, oh, thirtyish years between when I used to babysit them and today, I've totally lost my ability to relate to them?  Seriously, when I was a kid, I totally hated when any adult attempted to talk down to me in any way -- and then I go and do it with kids.  Didn't get much work done the other day, 'cause there was a random child in my office, and I ended up explaining everything on my desk to him (and, really, try explaining to a seven-year-old a paperweight with Athena on it, a Sherlock Holmes action figure, a dreidel, and a Doctor Who laser screwdriver.  Come to think of it, I have a very kid-friendly office.)  I wanted to kick him out and get work done, but at the same time, it was going well, and I figured I could use the practice.

2.  For my next month of exercise, I got myself the DVDs of Nowhere Man, which I remember watching sometime in the mid-90s.  It's been a pretty interesting trip so far, seeing as all I remember about the show is:  (a) the premise; (b) the not-entirely-satisfactory finale; and (c) very general plot summaries of three of the episodes.  One of the DVDs would not get along with the player in front of the elliptical machine, so I had to break my rule and watch that one without exercising, and I ended up watching, in the same day, two of three episodes I'd remembered.  One was an episode about a total computer geek who locked himself in his house and lived his life via the proto-internet and VR.  Now, a little under 15 years later, I can say the internet has far surpassed what the episode showed (the geek proudly demonstrated he could order food online because a nearby shop had a fax machine) but our VR still isn't that good.  Also amused how, no matter how much you blow up Bruce Greenwood, his hair remains the same.  I thank the Lord this show wasn't in the 80s and I'm not dealing with a mullet.  But it is making me uncomfortably remember that I did, in fact, rock that "tight jeans, t-shirt, and flannel shirt over it" look.

3.  Had the weirdest dream.  I rarely dream (or, probably more accurately, rarely remember my dreams) so any dream is fairly remarkable.  In this one, something like 25 of my neighbors came over one day and fixed everything in my house I don't like.  (I can tell you exactly where this dream came from, but I'm clearly surprised by how much I apparently want to resurface my kitchen cabinets.)  Also, my cat could talk.

4.  Having moved further East in Pasadena -- and past the end of the parade route -- I thought I'd be free from all the Tournament of Roses parking and traffic issues.  Ha ha, no.  The port-a-potties and temporary ticket (and food) tents have started springing up, and "my" freeway offramp will be closed starting tonight.  Apparently, I'm about a mile away from the post-parade float displays -- so while my old place of residence had to deal with horrible New Year's Eve and New Year's Morning traffic, my current place of residence will deal with it all freakin' weekend.  Still, there's something slightly exciting about watching the viewing stands and port-a-johns go up -- clearly signals the new year (and, in a way, large-scale competence, which always makes me happy).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

And on the topic of Sherlock Holmes

Was poking around my computer and found this piece -- I journalled it back in 2003 (although I'd written it a few years before).  I would just link to it, except I posted it when this blog was on AOL and had length-limitation which required me to break it up into four parts.  I just feel like taking it out for a stroll again (in full form).


I just finished watching "The Abbey Grange." "The Abbey Grange" is a Sherlock Holmes mystery--one in a series that was dramatized some years ago (1986) with Jeremy Brett as Holmes, which aired on PBS' "Mystery!" series. They were purchased by A&E, which explains why I just finished watching one.

I've seen them all before, multiple times. I am quite the fan of these adaptations, having gone so far as to cancel my subscription to Entertainment Weekly in protest of their review of the series. (It was, I should note, a positive review. Entertainment Weekly, however, had the audacity to imply that Sherlock Holmes stories appeal only to men, as if women would not possibly be impressed by a brilliant intellect or, at any rate, a brilliant intellect who does not sleep around.) So, yes, I've loved the adaptations, had seen them all before, and generally had little interest in watching them again (particularly with commercial interruptions).

But "Abbey Grange" is special.

"Abbey Grange" wasn't always special. It certainly wasn't my favorite Sherlock Holmes story when I first read them, nor even my favorite of the television adaptations. But it came to be an important part of my life in 1987.

At college, I took a course in the Legal Studies department which had the profound title of "Foundations of Justice." Now that all is said and done, I'll freely admit that I took the course for the sole purpose of obtaining a letter of recommendation for law school from the professor. The class was large, but I was motivated by the desire to get into a good law school, so I made certain I was known to the professor.

It turned out to be the only class I took, in college or law school, that was taught in the Socratic method. I became "the" student in the class--the one who is always called on when someone else does not have the response the professor is looking for. I knew I could get questioned in that class at any time. As a result (and, perhaps, a cause), I was more prepared for those class sessions than any other class, before or since. Although I did not quite realize it at the time, I learned a hell of a lot along the way. Really LEARNED it. In my desire to always be ready with the answer for the professor, I internalized the things he was teaching. I wasn't merely mastering the material so I could spout it back on an exam and forget it the next week; I was taking it in, engaging in dialogue with myself over the material, and coming to terms with the concepts at issue.

And what concepts they were. The "foundations of justice," I learned, are nothing less than the basic rules upon which societies are built: That before people can come together at all, they must agree to speak the truth; that doing good--justice-- is an end within itself. In my practice as an attorney, I've always respected the "due process" protections our constitution provides. But in "Foundations of Justice," I considered, perhaps for the only time, the necessity of respecting these protections, whatever the consequences, in order for the populace to continue to consent to be governed. The process must always be seen to be, and actually BE, just.

I remember arriving for the final exam in "Foundations of Justice." A three-hour written examination. The exams are set on the table, face down, in front of us. We are not to turn them over, but there is no rule against attempting to make out the type, backwards, from the back of the page. (You can tell I was already thinking like a lawyer.) There is a lengthy single-spaced fact scenario set forth, and the question beneath: a single line, set apart from the rest. I concentrate my efforts on making out the question.

"Did Holmes do right?"

For a moment, I think it is a Sherlock Holmes question. With regret, I chide myself that I am now entering the path to becoming an attorney, and future references to "Holmes" will mean Justice Oliver Wendell and not Sherlock.

But not this time. When we turn over our tests to begin, I am delighted to discover, not the fact pattern of some dry legal dispute, but the familiar story of "The Abbey Grange."

In "The Abbey Grange," a ship's captain was in love (from afar) with a married woman. When her abusive husband struck her, the captain flew to her defense. Attacked by the husband, the captain killed him. The captain then covered the crime to make it appear as if burglars had killed the husband. Holmes deduced the truth, but the authorities did not. When Holmes confronted the captain, he confessed the crime, but admitted no guilt--he believed he had done the right thing in saving the woman from her brutal husband.

Holmes then appointed himself judge, and Watson the British jury. Watson, on cue, acquitted the captain and Holmes, accordingly, set him free, promising to keep the truth a secret unless some other man be brought up on charges for the murder.

The question, "Did Holmes do right?" stared at me from the paper.

I had a sudden thought that, with this particular examination, the issue was not whether I was going to get an "A." The issue was HOW I was going to get it.

I began with the simplest question--was Watson's verdict factually "right?" Did the captain deserve an acquittal on the grounds of self-defense or defense of others? Undoubtedly yes, but this merely scratched the surface of the problem.

Was Holmes legally right in appointing himself judge and Watson the jury, thereby bypassing the legal system? Definitely not, I concluded.

But would the legal system have reached the correct result? And at what cost to the captain and the lady? Did Holmes do right by reaching the right result through the wrong practice?

The resolution to each question simply revealed the next. My determination of whether Holmes did "right" changed with each successive inquiry.

Can it ever be right to usurp the legal system? Is the cost to the fabric of society greater than whatever harm might be avoided by the subterfuge? Does it matter if no one else in the society is aware of the injustice worked to the system?

I honestly cannot recall what my ultimate conclusion was, although I suspect my own bias in favor of Holmes probably played a part. But I think, as with the subject matter of the class itself, it was the procedure of getting there that mattered. Discovering for myself that "right" can be determined factually, legally and morally, and that each standard may lead to a different result. Experimenting with the interplay between doing justice for individuals and doing justice for society. And perhaps most important, realizing that it does not require Oliver Wendell Holmes to raise an inquiry worthy of a Legal Studies final examination. Sherlock will do just fine.

Shouldn't Jews Have Priority?

So, yesterday, I decided to engage in the standard Jewish Christmas Tradition of seeing a movie (followed by eating Chinese food).

That was the plan.

Intended to see Sherlock Holmes.  It had a 2:00 show at the closest theater to me (in a mall), and a 2:30 at a theater about 15 minutes away (in the other direction).  But the mall theater is generally crowded, and the theater in the other direction never sells out.  Considered buying an advance ticket on the web, but the theater that never sells out doesn't have online ticketing.  So, I pile myself in the car and head for the theater that never sells out.

It was not crowded.  

I want to be clear about this.  There is a nearby parking structure I always use.  When I got there, there was one other car in it.  I got the second best parking spot in the whole building.  Strolled on over to the box office where there was a small crowd, but not a huge mob.

Overheard the person in front of me ask for tickets to Sherlock Holmes.  Overhead the lady in the box office tell him that it was front row seating only.  The next show was at 4:20.

OK, sure, not technically sold out, but close enough.

Did not want to wait until 4:20.  Checked on the Droid -- the theater in the mall had their next showing at 4:00.  I could make it to the mall by 3:00, buy a ticket for the 4:00, and maybe grab a bite to eat in the unlikely event the food court was open for movie theatre snacking.

Drove to the mall.  (The mall has a four-story parking structure and a little sign in front of it which tells you exactly how many spots are available on each level.  I, of course, find myself behind the idiot going one quarter mile per hour in the hopes of finding one of the "3" spots it said were available on the second floor, rather than going up a level to the "98" free spots.  Jerk.)  Finally get parked, stroll over to the box office by about 3:05, confirm on the electronic board that they have a 4:00 Sherlock Holmes . . . and notice that the "4:00"  is alternating with "Sold Out."

Crap.  OK, screw it; I'll see Avatar at 3:25.  Sold Out too.  


Fine, fine.  I'll go back to the other theater and see the 4:20.  If they had "front row only" available for the 2:30 show as late as 2:15, surely I could get a good seat for the 4:20 at 3:30.

Haul ass back to the theater which doesn't sell out.  Now there are four cars in the parking structure.  Go back to the box office.  "One for Sherlock Holmes, please."

"That's front row seating only."

The words, "Are you f*cking kidding me?" rushed toward my mouth.  I nearly got whiplash stopping them.


The 3:55 Avatar is also sold out.  Next IMAX 3D showing is at 7:00.

Next Sherlock Holmes is at 4:50.  Well, at this point, what's a half hour?  I buy a ticket to the 4:50.  It is, at this point, about 3:45.  I go in the building and there's a line forming already.  Well, we're a small mob, really, but the helpful theater employee eventually lines us up.  He has to -- there needs to be some way to separate the 4:50 Sherlock Holmes line from the 3:55 Avatar line and the 4:20 Sherlock Holmes line.  Otherwise, chaos would ensue.

(I ask myself where the hell all these people came from.  And, more importantly, where did they park?)

I wait.  Standing there.  Annoyed and hungry.  I realize that my lunch is either going to be a 425 calorie hot dog or a 450 calorie bag of popcorn.  (The popcorn wins, but I decide to wait till the movie.  I know that my movie watching has decreased a lot in the past few years, and I wonder whether the fact that I generally don't want to waste my calories on popcorn has anything to do with it.)  There are two women in line behind me, snacking on candy and ice cream, and debating the merits of the various Twilight novels.  (There's a poster for New Moon around the corner, and one of them snaps a picture of it with her cell phone to show the other so they can both giggle over it.  I glance at them -- gotta be well into their 20s.  Well into.  I very politely look away without rolling my eyes.)

We are eventually let into the theater.  As I was near the front of the line, I get to pretty much sit wherever I want.  I stake out a good place.  Leave my sweater on it to hold it, and ask the person to my left if she would be so kind as to kill anyone who attempts to take my seat.  (She promises strangulation.)  I go off for my lunch popcorn.

I return to the theater.  My seat is still there, but someone has sat down to my right.  She's elderly.  Wearing blue socks with white Mary Jane pumps.  Has brought a blanket to put over her legs.  Has a cup of coffee in the armrest between us, which I am pretty sure she's going to whack into my lap with her shawl.  She comments to the person she's with about every single preview -- generally letting everyone nearby know which movies she intends to see and which ones she doesn't.  (Also telling us in which other movies each of the actors has appeared, and whether she liked their performances.)  I am certain she's going to be trouble during the movie, but the theater is packed and the only place to go is the front row.  Not bloody likely.  Besides, it's just the previews; maybe she'll quiet down during the actual movie.

She starts talking about 40 seconds into the movie.  I lean over to her and softly say, "Can you please keep it down?"

And she says,


Ahh.  This explains much.

I raise my voice a bit and ask again, explaining that we can hear everything she says and could she be a bit quieter?  She quiets, although I have to ask her again about halfway through the movie, and she seems horribly offended that I would interfere with her ability to exclaim to everyone in a ten-yard radius that "Oh!  He doesn't know that guy is Holmes!"

(When she leaves at the end of the film, I am surprised to discover that the person she's with is, in fact, a generation younger than she is -- probably a daughter.  This really annoys.  Two elderly people speaking loudly to each other is one thing, but I expect your kid has some responsibility to tell you when you're being too loud in public.)

Was the movie any good?  Ehh... it wasn't worth an hour and a half of ping-ponging between theaters, standing in line for 45 minutes, having a lunch of stale popcorn, and sitting next to a woman who treated the movie theater like her own private living room.  Then again, I'm not really sure what would be.

The Chinese food was good, though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That's Right Neighborly, That Is

OK.  Last week, my neighbors made some brownies and left me some in a little bag by my door with a little "Happy Holidays" note.

I reciprocated with a dozen chocolate chip cookies (from my friend who has started a home baking business).

Today, they emailed to thank me.  They also told me that our "block captain" is displaying a bell outside her house, which is our reward for having 100% block participation in the holiday decorating.  (That being:  tying Pokey to the tree.)  I responded that I was glad my pitiful solar spotlight (which doesn't so much illuminate Pokey as bathe him in an eerie glow) didn't get us marked down, and commented that I'd have to start shopping earlier next year to find an outdoor spotlight which actually plugs in (rather than one which needs to be attached with electrical cable -- which was all the stores had left).

Tonight.  8:15.  A knock on my door.  My neighbor.  With a spare outdoor plug-in spotlight.

I tell him that's awful sweet of him, but seeing as I hadn't found the spotlight, I hadn't bought the necessary extension cord.  He says no problem, he has an extension cord.  He offers to run it along my driveway and light up Pokey.  I thank him, tell him he couldn't possibly stand outside at 8:30 at night and tape an extension cord along my driveway, and say that if he loans me the equipment, I'll put it up on Christmas day.

He leaves to get the stuff.  I go back inside.  Put on a jacket and some shoes -- figure I'll go up to his house and at least save him the walk back to my driveway.

By the time I get outside, he's already here with a massive box, containing about a quarter mile of extension cord, a power strip, a couple rolls of electrical tape, and a timer.  He's already got the light on Pokey and is planning a route with the cable.

Wouldn't even let me make him a mug of tea or anything.

I'm so touched.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t

Sound the sirens!  It's a holiday present emergency!

OK, here's what happened.  On Black Friday, Best Buy had a really good DVD sale.  A really good one.  I purchased the Firefly complete series for the low, low price of $15.  This was to be part of a gift for a close friend we'll call "Close Friend."

Sometime later, I came up with a much better (and rather more expensive) gift idea for Close Friend.  I couldn't give her Firefly in addition to the more expensive gift (indeed, someone else is splitting the cost of more expensive gift for Close Friend with me).  So, Firefly is just sitting around my house in the Emergency Gift Cabinet.

Last week, I was invited to a holiday party with a round-robin gift exchange.  I think, for a variety of reasons, that Firefly would be a good gift for this group.  (If anything, my one concern was that they'd all seen/owned it already.)  So, I wrap Firefly up for the party. 

On Thursday, the day before the holiday party, I discovered I needed a small gift for a friend at work.  We'll call her Office Friend.  I may have mentioned her earlier -- she's the one I went "stalking" Nathan Fillion with.

(Smart readers can see where this is going already.  Wish I had.)

I decide on the perfect gift for Office Friend:  the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  I'm pretty sure she's never seen it.  I order it from Amazon.  It should arrive today.

Meantime, I take Firefly to the party, see that it finds a good home, and congratulate myself on an excellent use of a spare gift.

I run into Office Friend at work this morning.  She tells me that, over the weekend, she got Dr. Horrible from Netflix.  Watched the whole thing.  Including the special features.  Listened to the commentary.  She has fully done the Dr. Horrible thing.  There's nothing left for her to do with Dr. Horrible.  I smile outwardly and think,

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit"

That's OK.  I can fix this. 

Well, I could fix it if I still had my $15 copy of Firefly

Black Friday sales being over, Firefly is now back up to $39.99 at BestBuy ($38.50 at Amazon), which is considerably more than, y'know, the "small gift" for Office Friend which I was looking for.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

OK, new rule:  Everybody has to have an Amazon wish list and nobody is allowed to buy themselves anything between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How Not to Hit on Me

A couple days ago, I got a sandwich at Subway for lunch.  Walking back to the office, a homeless guy asked, "Hey!  I'm really hungry.  Could I have your sandwich?"

"Sorry, no."  I kept walking, although I thought I probably should've bought the "$5 footlong" and given the other half to someone who needed it.  I'm just about to file this thought away for next time, when he says, "Could I have your number then?"

Really?  I'm a fallback position to food?  That makes me feel so special.

And then, today, just now, after 11:00 p.m.  My cell phone rings.  Takes a minute for me to gently remove the sleeping cat from my lap.  I pick up the phone, say, "Hello," and hear:

"Can I talk to ... wait a second, I dropped my files.  OK, can I talk to [insert name of some dude I don't know]?"

"No.  Sorry, you have the wrong number."

"Are you sure?  This is his parole agent."

I laugh.  "Yes.  I'm really sure.  You have the wrong number."

And then he says, "You sound kind of lonely..." 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The economy ... it sucks

I know this because I took today off work to do all my holiday shopping.  I went to the mall.  I intended to start early, but, of course, didn't get there till around noon.  (Woke up to find I'd somehow set the thermostat to 90.  Had to wait a bit before jumping on the elliptical because I didn't think I was up to the whole "Bikram Cardio" experience.)  I was afraid I wouldn't get parking that late and I actually found a spot better than spots I've found there on weekends and evenings over the past year.  In fact, that whole section of the parking lot was empty.  I expected a reasonable amount of pre-Christmas crowds, but the place was fairly empty.  And sales everywhere.  Big sales, too.  Sales that nearly led me to buy stuff for myself because 40% off for that dress is a good deal.

(Stream of consciousness insert -- I wore a dress from the same clothing line to our office holiday party the other day.  Everyone complimented me on my weight loss -- which is really pretty funny as, with the possible exception of a recent 4 pound loss I'm trying to hang on to (and improve upon), I've been at virtually the same weight for, like, two years.  Note to self:  my jeans, they are not flattering.  The dress, on the other hand, makes me look hot, so I was totally contemplating a similar one.)

Wandered the entire mall for a few hours and ended up buying ... some tea for myself.  (I am a sucker for a good tea, and they had a mighty tasty one.  Which I am enjoying right now, thanks very much.)  Didn't buy anything for anyone else, although the shopping trip did do its trick of jump-starting my thought-process on gift ideas for people.  The internet is great for shopping, but it totally sucks for browsing.  (Yes, I know, there's a pun in there someplace.  I'm too wiped to find it.)

After a similar uneventful stop at Cost Plus World Market (where, after pushing a shopping cart throughout the entire store, I arrived at the checkstand with ... a little tea infuser ball for the new tea.  The shopping cart had clearly been overly-optimistic on my part.)  But, again, ideas.

Came home and spent ... my, it appears to be the last five hours ordering stuff on the internet.  I still have four items left to purchase (can't do them over the web for various reasons, but at least I know what they are) -- and, after that, there's only three people left on the list who need actual gifts.  Anyone else -- I'm donating to charity in your name.  I'll come up with something cool -- promise.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

To my great surprise, it wasn't raining today.  Thought I'd take advantage of the lull in the weather to actually  put the holiday lights on my house.

It started off well enough, as the people who lived here before me conveniently left nails running all along the trim on the roof line of the garage.  (Yes, I know,  you're not supposed to wrap the lights around nails.  I'm new at this and hanging the lights alone.  Any port in a storm, 'k?)  So, I got on my ladder, used that little adapter plug thingy which turns a light socket into an electrical plug, and ran a string of lights across the top of my garage.  I thought it looked kinda nice, although I had two problems when I was done.

1.  Didn't know how to deal with that gap in the lights where I'd connected two strings


2.  Had quite a bit of lights leftover, and couldn't figure out where to put them.  (OK, sure, I could just ball it up and throw it on the roof, but that didn't quite seem right.)

But I did have enough lights to just continue the string across the roofline of my house.  

Did I mention that my house has a peaked roof?

I had bought me one of them extendy poles and "shingle clips."  According to the packaging, you could screw the shingle clip on the end of the pole, string a light through it, extend the pole up to your roof, do a little twisting action to get the clip to slide under your shingle, then untwist the pole from the clip, leaving the clip safely attached.  Says you could hang your lights, without a ladder, in 1/4 the time.

My ass.

Jamming the clip under the shingle required a bit of force, and the clip had to be opened a bit for the rest of it to slide around the width of the shingle.  Is this possible from the other end of a pole 11 feet away?  Oh hell no.  The angle made it completely impossible.

The previous owner left some nails along the roofline, though.  And the pole came with a "hang lights in trees" attachment.  With some luck and decent aim, I could forget about the clips, and use the tree attachment to drape the light-string over the nails.

Insert here the part where I stand in my rose bush, using a pole to drape lights over nails (and then smacking the string with the pole to make sure it was good and tight over the nails), end up exhausted, dirty, wet, slightly bleeding (thank you, thorns), and realizing there's no nail at the tippy top of the peak.  Decide to loosely drape the strand across to the next nearest nail (like frosting round a birthday cake) and realize that would look stupid unless all the rest of the lights are loosely draped, too, so I undo all of the work I'd done, aim for loose draping, and try it again.

The lights drape loosely, but they don't hang on well.  This time, every time I get the strand over a nail and aim for the next nail, the lights fall off the first nail.  This is no good.  The damn things will fall off my house in the next rain.  And/or breeze.

No, I need to go back to the shingle clips, but I can't reach the peak of the roof even if I could get the ladder in the rose bushes, which I don't think I can.  The only thing for it is to get on the roof.

I have a voice of reason.  The first time I heard it was when I was getting my SCUBA certification, and I was underwater and my dive instructor gave me the signal to take off my mask and swim, and my conscious brain said, "Oh hell no," and commenced to seriously freak.  And this little objective voice said, "Hey, this is what a panic attack looks like.  Isn't that interesting?"

And today my voice of reason said, "Do you really think climbing from the ladder to your roof, with no spotter, is a really good idea?"

I admitted defeat and called some friends.  They came over, unstrung all my lights, used the shingle clips, jumped up on the roof, and got the whole set up in about 20 minutes. 

It's not much -- it certainly isn't much compared to my neighbors -- but it is, for the firstest time in my life ... my house, with holiday lights:

Now, it is 8:36 p.m., and (after taking my friends out to dinner to thank them for climbing on my roof and not falling off it), I realize that, also, for the firstest time since I've owned it, I have not used the elliptical machine today.  So I'm off to exercise a good 12 hours after I usually do, because routine stops for no man.  And my neighbors just gave me holiday brownies.  :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Minimal Christmas

So, the neighborhood holiday decoration (the plywood reindeer playing the fiddle) is supposed to be up by Saturday night.  (So says the third email reminder on the subject I just received.  Although, apparently between the second and the third, someone taught them how to spell "Menorah."  This amuses me.)  In any event, the "official" neighborhood holiday decoration period begins on Saturday, so they want my reindeer out by then.  My plan was to also get the lights up simultaneously, but I recently dropped that goal in favor of "just get the damn reindeer up."

This because I've been outrageously busy at work.  I mean, really really busy.  (Or, at least, really really busy for government work.  If I was in private practice, I'd be working hours like this all the time.  But it has rarely happened during the fifteen years I've been with the court.)  So, every day this week, I've planned to put the reindeer out when I got home -- and then I ended up working late and just not being in the mood to haul a plywood reindeer outside at 8:00 at night.

But today it seemed like a "now or never" situation -- it was supposed to start raining tonight and keep going straight through Saturday.  So, unless I want to be hauling reindeer in the rain (not bloody likely), it was tonight.

Got home at 9:00.  Didn't even bother going into the house or changing out of my suede skirt.  Just pulled into the garage, grabbed the six-foot plywood reindeer, and started hauling it out to curb.  (It got named in the process.  It kept getting caught on things -- my car, my clothes, the garage cabinets -- and I ended up saying aloud, "Come on, Pokey.")

Conveniently, Pokey already had some ropes attached to his back, so once I dragged him out to the parkway, I was easily able to tie him to a tree.  I went back into the garage and grabbed my (solar -- yeah, that'll work well) spotlight for him.  I figured I'd have to hammer a screwdriver into the dirt to make a hole for the plastic spike on which the spotlight sits, but the ground was soft enough and the spike went right in.  Aimed the (uncharged) spotlight in what appeared to be the general direction of Pokey; aimed the solar panel in the general direction of where the sun ought to be; put the screwdriver and hammer away; and went back into the house.

Started raining about an hour later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bah Freakin' Humbug

(If it wasn't entirely clear from the last post.)

Well, today was the day -- the day I go out and buy my holiday lights.  I'd investigated; I'd discussed with my neighbors; I grabbed an experienced holiday decorating friend to go with me; I had a plan -- dude, I was ready.

The plan:  pick up friend; go to Home Depot.  Buy:  (1)  White and Blue LED icicle lights; (2)  long extension pole thingy and clips for hanging them; (3)  spotlight for "fiddle-playing reindeer" (everyone on my street has part of the reindeer band -- we're supposed to put them out on the parkway and light them with spotlights); (4) really long extension cord to run from my one outdoor outlet out to the parkway for said spotlight; (5) some heavy-duty tape so nobody trips on said cord; (6) an outdoor timer I can put on the outlet so the icicle lights and the spotlight are only on during viewing hours and do not screw up my electric bill.

The plan failed right after "go to Home Depot."  We found their extension cords, but they were plum out of lights to hang on your house.  The Home Depot dude said their stock had been "decimated," which was a massive understatement.  Their stock was gone.

New plan -- go to my neighborhood OSH.  OSH had a huge stock when I last went -- then again, the OSH is the closest hardware store to my neighborhood, and since we've all got to get our fiddle-playing reindeer (or whatever) out by this Saturday, the place was full of desperate holiday light shoppers.  Myself included.

They did not have LED icicle lights left.  They had non-LED icicle lights.  New plan:  Just plain white LED string lights.  They're out of them, too.  Newer plan:  Screw the lights around my roofline.  I could just buy some small blue LED strings to go around the windows and ... this here LED snowflake or something.

The window strings were not quite long enough for my windows.  

(I did my very best Charlie Brown "AAAAAAARRRRGHHHHH!")

OK, third plan (or was it fourth?  I forgot) -- OK, the blue LED string lights aren't big enough for my windows, but if I get about 6 boxes of them, I can do the roof line.  It isn't the blue/white icicles I was hoping for, but, hey, any port in a storm.  I grab some white LED net lights to throw over some bushes to complete the picture.  Now, find me a spotlight, extension cord, and timer.

At least they had the extension cord.

They only had indoor timers.

They only had spotlights that you have to attach to electrical cable -- they didn't have one with a plug.

OK, new plan -- we'll get this here solar spotlight.  I'd avoided it before because the light output kinda sucks, but sucky light output is better than no light output at all.  This way, I won't need the extension cord. 

The timer thing is still a problem, though.  There's only an indoor timer and I've got 6 strings of blue lights and two LED nets that would like to be on for about four hours a night.

Hey!  They have those little "turn a light outlet into a plug" adapter thingies.  My garage carriage lights take 100 Watt bulbs ... and these little LED jobs are less than 5 Watts a string.  And (bonus) I had the electrician put those lights on a timer.  So I can outline the roof line on the garage and house, plug 'em in to the carriage lights, change the garage light timer to evening hours, and I'm set.  Throw back the net lights, and leave the store ... about two hours after I started, with $100 worth of Christmas in the car, and no more daylight left to hang this stuff.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lost My Gift-Giving Mojo

After completely forgetting about my annual October holiday shopping trip, I'm kind of in big trouble from the gift-giving standpoint.  I generally avoid all malls like the plague until Christmas -- and that "like the plague" bit is becoming slightly more literal.  A doctor once told me (when I was annoying sick during the holiday season) that malls -- being enclosed environments with lots of people circulating -- are places where germs just love to be transmitted.  And given that people feel an obligation to go shopping this time of year, some folks are likely to hit the malls when they're not exactly 100% healthy.  With all that H1N1 business (and me not having been vaccinated), the malls are really on my "Avoid" list, so I'm pretty much left doing all of my holiday shopping on the internet.

Which normally isn't a bad thing -- I generally do everything on the internet after the October mall shopping trip as it is.  But the difference between a mall and the internet is that mall shopping can be somewhat passive.  You just walk into a store and all the merchandise is right there for you to look at.  Not so much on the web, where it helps if you already have an idea of what you're looking to buy -- "scanning shelves" on the web is too huge of an undertaking.  That initial mall trip serves as a good "scouting mission" to give me ideas of things to buy for people on my list (and, as it happens, ideas of things I'd like to put on my Amazon wish list) and without it, I'm pretty much flying blind.

Having made a list of NAMES, I've managed to put check-marks next to 2 or 3 of them, and maybe an idea for 1 or 2 others, but that's it.  I'm kinda screwed.  There are a lot of names there (including some I'm not even certain I'm exchanging gifts with) and I've got No Damn Ideas at all for most of them.  I sit there looking at a name, repeating it over and over in my head and hoping inspiration will strike ... but nothing.

Yesterday, I caught the Ellen DeGeneres show, and she was doing one of those audience holiday gift giveaway things.  Gave each member of the audience $1500 worth of stuff, and I thought, "Great!  I'll get some ideas there."  Not so much.  More than half of it was gift cards -- which is, y'know, great publicity for Target, Staples, and Cost Plus, but not really helpful for me in terms of Gifts To Buy -- and then she gave audience members both a Wii and a XBox.  The audience was thrilled, of course; but, again, in terms of giving me ideas, not all that helpful.

I've looked at tons of holiday gift-giving guides, and none have really given me much inspiration.  I'm starting to think it should be freakin' mandatory for everyone to make an easily-accessible holiday wish list (with many items in different price ranges), so all their friends, family and co-workers can buy them something they want and be done with it.  All of this stress is driving me crazy.  Bah Humbug and all that.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Proto-Internet?

I check various websites every morning before I go to work.  I am also regularly late for work.  Someone, noticing the possible causal relationship here, asked me if I couldn't just do my morning internet-surfing at work.  And I thought back to a job where I did that... except it wasn't exactly the internet.  And that got me thinking back even further than that.

1988.  Law School.  I did computerized legal research on Westlaw.  It had a dedicated terminal which had really zippy connection speeds like 2400 and 4800 baud.  The terminal was incapable of displaying anything other than text.  When you'd sign on, it would spell out "WESTLAW" in great big letters -- but it only had one font size, so to make the word big, it would make out each large letter in asterisks.  One day, I was teaching a blind student how to use Westlaw, so he activated something that would read aloud everything onscreen.  He loaded up Westlaw and the voice proceeded to say, "Star star star star star star star star...."

1989.  Yes, I was teaching Westlaw.  I was good at it and they paid me to sit in the computerized legal research room and answer questions.  Actually, I liked the job for all sorts of reasons -- I put together lesson plans and taught group lessons.  (And I'd plan them out so that the searches would result in really fun results.)  I had a blast.  The job was also responsible for my very first business trip -- Westlaw had all the student reps in the region travel to Boston for a training session.  While there, I got on well with a student rep from Maine, and we ended up keeping in touch via some really cool electronic mail thing which you could make your Westlaw terminal do if you worked for Westlaw and knew the right keys to hit.  Actually, I don't remember a thing about the rep from Maine, but I do remember how awesome this instantaneous communication thing was.

1991.  Upon graduation, I started clerking for a judge.  By this time, you could get Westlaw (and its competitor, Lexis) on a computer in your office -- no dedicated terminal was necessary.  But, it wasn't exactly the internet yet, either.  You had to have Westlaw software loaded on your computer, but, once it was there, you could crank that sucker up and do computerized legal research to your heart's content.  And not just LEGAL research -- "Lexis" wasn't just "Lexis," it was "Lexis/Nexis," and the Nexis part was a database of newspapers and magazines.  And my boss wanted me in the office at 8:00 -- he didn't actually want me to do anything then, he just (as the secretary put it) wanted to know we were there if he needed us.  So I'd come in at 8:00, start work at 9:00, and spend the hour in the middle searching Nexis.

And it took an hour, too, because it wasn't anywhere near as simple as just clicking on Google News.  It was a big ol' database, and you'd search it with boolean connectors.  I had three or four searches I'd check every morning -- using standard search words to get what I wanted.  Usually I wouldn't hit anything, but once or twice I did, and it was beyond awesome.  I'd heard a concept album for a new musical which I really liked and would regularly search for news on the musical.  Once, I figured a new way to rephrase the search and hit upon an article reviewing a different concept album by the same composer.  Found it in my local music store that afternoon at lunch.  And how cool, I thought, this Nexis technology was, because if I hadn't read a review out of some local paper in the middle of ... not where I was ... I never would've known to look for this second album.

So, it's been about 20 years that I've lived with this sort of tech -- eagerly gobbling up every new advance.  And, of course, each little step seemed reasonable compared to the one before (that 9600 baud was lightning to the 4800), but the overall result is fairly stunning.  I mean, hell, now my phone can do more impressive things than my computer could back then.  (And I'm already thinking of the small steps that will make the next generation of phone even better.)  But 20 years from now?  I can't even imagine.

Injury Update

(Re:  3 posts down)

Well, it took just about a week to take care of the broken nail.  Random quirk about me:  my nails grow fast.  I'm not real clear on the normal standard of nail growth, but I do know that mine grow at an above-average rate.  

This is a good thing when you break your nail below the quick.

After three or four days of keeping the whole thing bandaged, it had healed enough for me to successfully attack it with clippers.  I still couldn't cut it at the level of the crack, but I at least got it down the point where I could safely keep it in one of them fingertip bandages.  

A few days after that, circumstances (it started cracking) required me to cut it along the break.  The nail had grown out enough to make this physically possible, but I did have to go a millimeter or two lower than I would have liked.  The result is that I've exposed some of that really sensitive skin that has probably never seen the light of day, so everything I touch with my fingertip is a new and exciting experience.

That sounded dirtier than it is.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In case you were wondering

You know that plot device you see on TV all the time, where there's some emotionally distraught kid who is lashing out at whatever's nearby; and the adult who is nearby pretty much lets the kid hit him over and over again, until the kid just breaks down in tears and lets himself be hugged by the adult?

Don't try this with a cat.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reason #1 Why I Am Glad Jasmine Is An Indoor Cat

Woke up this morning to find something on my pillow that wasn't me.

About two inches from my eyes, there was an offering from the feline.

A toy mouse.

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

I just broke a nail.

That is a major understatement.

Before I went to NY, I got a manicure.  One of my nails had a little chip in it, so the manicurist repaired it with all that powdery stuff that ends up making your nail twice as thick as a normal nail.

And just now, I was having a fight with some plastic wrap on a cardboard box, and ended up snapping the nail backward.  And since it had all that heavy stuff where the prior break was, it broke lower.  Nearly halfway below the quick.  And it didn't completely break -- it split about halfway across.  Blood all over.  In fact, one might say that the dried blood is the only thing holding it on.

I think I should probably cut it as low as I can, but I don't even know if my clippers can make it through the extra-tough nail.  (Not to mention it'll probably start bleeding again.)  And, um, that is so going to hurt.

Shoulda just cut it off when it first started splitting and saved myself all this hassle. 

Edited to add:  Oh, that didn't go well at all.  My clippers couldn't quite cut it.  I tried some really heavy-duty scissors, gritted my teeth, and applied them.  Result:  more blood and the nail still isn't short.  Instead, I've got two big old gashes taken out of the nail, which will now get caught on everything.  And pain shooting down my finger whenever they do.  On the plus side, my neosporin apparently has a topical analgesic in it, so as long as I don't catch the nail on anything else, the throbbing has stopped.

Or... there's another interpretation

Caught a little bit of Fox News the other day.  The commentators were gleefully reporting that a majority of Americans are not happy with the job Congress is doing.  Indeed, a lot of Democrats are not happy with the job Congress is doing.  And since it is a "Democratically-controlled Congress," the talking heads over there at Fox interpreted this as meaning that Democrats themselves are fed-up at the liberal agenda which the Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to force down our throats.

Well, sure, that's one way of looking at it.

Then again, Democrats might be unhappy with the job Congress is doing for a whole boatload of reasons.

Honestly, it isn't that I want to dump the Democrats in Congress and replace them with Republicans.  It's that I want to dump every single individual -- of whatever party -- who thinks his or her job is to grandstand and make speeches geared toward getting sound bites on the evening news, rather than to do the damn job of hammering out legislation.  

Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans agree that we need some sort of health care reform legislation -- and this weekend's vote showed us that the Republicans would rather not debate the current proposal at all, rather than sitting down around the table, and still trying to do their best to create the best piece of legislation for Americans, (recognizing that, since they don't have numerical superiority, they're not arguing from a position of strength).

For myself, I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- I think the best health care plan can only be generated if the interests of providing health care coverage for all Americans are balanced with the interests of not overly burdening those individuals and businesses who will be asked to pay for it.  This sort of solution requires the good faith participation of both sides -- not one side steamrolling its legislation over the other, and not one side taking its toys and refusing to play.

I damn near want to lock 'em in a room, take away all the cameras, and not let 'em out until they have a piece of legislation which satisfies each and every Senator -- or, at least, with respect to which each Senator can say, "I've made this as good as I can possibly make it -- given the interests of the 99 other people in there."

Yes, I know -- I'm idealistic and naive and all that.  But I'm disappointed in Congress in the same way a parent might be disappointed in a child who won't do his homework.  I just expected better of them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I want "PC" points for not laughing.

(Back this story up to when I flew out here....)

Flying out of Burbank, the airport is only one-story high, so you pretty much walk on the tarmac to your plane, and up the stairs.

We're sitting in the terminal, while they're "pre-boarding," waiting for them to call our rows.

The JetBlue rep says, "If you're sitting in row 15 or above, you can use the other gate and enter the stairs at the back of the plane."  I like this plan.  I jump up and join the line at the other gate.  I'm about third in line.  Two guys -- probably a gay couple -- ask if they can cut in line in front of me.  "Sure, go ahead," I say.  The JetBlue rep takes our tickets and sends us to the stairs at the back of the plane.  This is WAY easier than boarding from the front of the plane, where they've actually set up a ramp (with many switchbacks) going all the way to the door.

So, I'm behind the gay guys and one of them says, "This is great!  I love entering from the rear!"

Another Type of Standing Ovation

In this post over here, I mention the "I Can't See" ovation, whereby the audience ends up giving a standing ovation just by virtue of everyone trying to see around the one dork standing up in front (sort of a reverse domino effect).

Today, I saw a new kind of unintentional standing ovation.  This was at Hamlet.  Here's how bows generally work at productions of Hamlet:  The whole cast comes out, you applaud.  They drop the curtain (you keep applauding) and then they lift the curtain again and the lead actor is standing there alone.  You applaud some more, the lead actor magnanimously waves in the rest of the cast from the wings, and you applaud them all once more.  The curtain falls; the house lights go up; everyone goes home.

OK, here's what happened at tonight's performance.  The whole cast comes out, we applaud.  A few people stand up.  The curtain comes down.  It's still dark, but at least half the audience stands up and starts putting on their coats in the dark.  The curtain comes up again, with Jude Law standing there, and a good deal of these folks are still facing their chairs, putting on their scarves.  They have to turn around to applaud for Law (and company) before the curtain comes down, the lights come up, and they can leave.  

Apparently, after sitting through 3 hours and change of Shakespeare, these folks just couldn't wait to get out of there.  And ended up giving a "Putting on Our Coats" standing ovation.

New York Day Two

Well, all by myself, I found an activity for the day.  Seems the folks at Discovery bought the old New York Times building (an interesting enough location all by itself) to set up "Discovery Times Square Exposition."  And they had a new exhibit opening today, so I thought I'd check it out.

(I checked their website to see if I needed to pre-order tickets.  They were sold out all afternoon, so I had to get an early ticket.  Turns out the place was empty.  They weren't sold out -- they were closing in the afternoon to prepare for the Grand Opening tonight.  So, there's an extra $4 down the toilet for pre-ordering unnecessarily.)

Anyway, the exhibit was called "Da Vinci's Workshop," and had about 20 (only a handful full-scale) of recreations of some of Da Vinci's mechanical designs.  Also reproductions of pages from his notebooks, and various computer displays that let you flip cyberpages in one of the notebooks, and then zoom in on a particular design for a 3-D model.  All of which was quite cool, but if you ask me, it wasn't really worth the $20.  Because, I mean, it's $20 for a lot of reproductions and recreations -- that sort of thing should be cheap.  You want to charge actual money, display some actual notebook pages in one of your glass, temperature-controlled display cases.

Thereafter, I decided to walk over to Bryant Park.  There's a "free" ice skating rink there, and also lots of little artisan shops set up for your holiday shopping pleasure.  The "free" is in quotes because, while skating is free, skate rental is $12 and, while locker rental is free, a lock is $9.  In other words, free for locals, $21 for tourists.  Note to self:  bring skates and a lock next time you go to New York in the holiday season.  I poked around the shops for a bit -- bought the perfect gift ... for someone I'm not entirely sure I'm exchanging holiday gifts with -- and then got the hell out of there when I realized I have 2 scripts (in pdf) I have to read tonight (critic business).

It was about 5:00.  I have a show tonight at 7:30, and couldn't figure out how to read both scripts and grab dinner before the show, without carrying my netbook to the restaurant and then take it with me to the theatre.  And my netbook won't fit in my purse, so I'd have to take a backpack, which they'd make me check, and damn, damn, damn.

Checked the email (which transmitted the scripts as an attachment) on my Droid and...

Holy Crap, the damn thing reads pdfs.

I love this phone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig

(And I ask myself, which of my two posts tonight is going to get the most comments?)

OK, so I watched A Steady Rain, which was an interesting little play, although I did wonder (along with, I imagine, everyone else in the universe) exactly what it was about this piece that attracted two major stars like Jackman and Craig to it.  And, in some ways, I wonder why it was that they were cast.  (Well, no, not really -- they were cast because they sell tickets.  Duh.)  But, honestly, you're casting two Chicago cops, so you immediately go for ... a Brit and an Aussie?  Really?  I think I might have found just a teensy bit easier to get into the play if I wasn't so distracted by, in no particular order: (1)  the actors' interesting take on what a lower-class Chicago accent actually sounds like; (2)  wondering if I heard that right, and that not only am I supposed to believe Hugh Jackman is a Chicago cop, but also that he's Italian-American -- how far do these people expect me to suspend disbelief; and (3)  the script clearly says that Jackman's character regularly beats the crap out of Craig's, and looking at the two of them next to each other ... sorry, no, just not seeing it ... Lord, do you see the biceps on that man?

Which leads us to the widely-reported post-show Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS auction.  Post-show, Jackman and Craig both unbutton their shirts (insert appropriate audience reaction here) revealing "wife-beaters" beneath, and explain that they're auctioning them off for BC/EFA.  For the low, low price of way too much money (look, autographed posters were $300), you'd get to go backstage, take pictures with them, and leave with both their wife-beaters, signed and dated.

(I was sitting in the mezzanine.  There was no bidding from up in the cheap seats -- the only time someone said anything was when an usher yelled at someone who was surreptitiously trying to snap a picture.)

I believe the funniest moment was when the bidding appeared stalled at $5000, so Jackman (who was pretty much auctioneer), said, "For $6000, you'll get to watch Daniel take his off."

Man, that $6000 bid came fast.

Ultimately, they sold 'em for $7000, and actually convinced the second-highest bidder to go to $7000 for a second set.

(As an aside, I totally respect the way they did this.  I went to an auction once where someone bid something like $1800 for a trip to Africa, and then they offered a second trip to the next-highest bidder, at the price of the second-highest bid.  Winning bidder went freakin' ballistic.  What happened at A Steady Rain was, when they had bids of $7000 and $6000, Craig went out into the audience to talk to one of them while Jackman spoke to the other and got them each to agree to the $7000 for two sets deal -- and I'm sure something was worked out regarding who got which shirt which was worn on stage.)

They also let anyone who had a spare $2000 to donate to go backstage for autographs and photo-ops; and for those of us who are not independently wealthy, they sold autographed Playbills for $60.  (Someone I know ... who doesn't read this journal ... just got a birthday present.)

A Thought About Creationism

OK, I'm about as agnostic as a Jew can be without actually falling into the atheist column -- so, clearly, whatever I've got to say about Creationism doesn't come from a point of view of, y'know, belief.

But, up until today, I'd figured that religious beliefs could pretty much happily coincide with scientific knowledge if you just start with the premise that G-d put everything in motion.  A divine hand lighting the fuse on the Big Bang, if you will.   

(Besides, "Sister" told me -- in Late-Nite Catechism -- that it's totally cool for Catholics to believe in evolution.  And why on earth would a play lie to me about somethihg like that?)

But after poking around the American National History Museum -- and generally being amazed by the wealth of knowledge there -- I had another idea.  Here's the thing -- I saw something there that said the first planet orbiting another star wasn't actually discovered until 1995, long after I'd graduated (and many years after my last science class).  Or the currently accepted theory for how the moon was created, which is based on knowledge regarding the composition of the moon -- which, obviously, we couldn't have known until we'd actually been there.  So, I mean, our knowledge of the universe and big ol' scientific truths about how it works is continuingly evolving -- and while we still don't have the complete picture, we're getting closer and closer.

And in thinking about where a Divine Creator fits into all this, I have to assume that the Almighty is not, in fact, a moron.  And when putting together Genesis, it probably struck the Lord that His audience at the time -- comprised, I would imagine, of largely uneducated folk, whose scientific knowledge was largely limited to the effects of weather on crops -- wasn't quite ready for the truth.  I mean, hell, you can't really expect a bunch of peasants to understand, say, stars going supernova over 10 billion years ago, and in their fierce explosions creating heavier elements out of hydrogen and helium, scattering them around the universe and giving us the building blocks for things like the earth and, uh, us.

No.  If G-d had any sense at all (which, we assume, He does), he'd give the people the truth they can understand, and let us discover the rest of it when our puny little brains are capable of wrapping themselves around the concepts.  It's a giant cosmic game, with clues scattered out there for us to find them.

And you're probably doing something wrong if you just sit there and accept the story that was good enough for the people of a few thousand years ago, rather than joining in the journey of discovery with the rest of us. 

Oh! And this time it was.....

On every trip, I forget something.  It varies (last time, it was my watch) but, nine times out of ten, it's something that sends me to the nearest drug store upon arrival.

So, last night, I opened up my toothbrush holder, in which I found a toothbrush which . . .

Well, let's just say there's no way my mouth would be cleaner after that thing went inside it.  In fact, there was no way that toothbrush was going inside my mouth.  I tried washing it in really hot water, but no go.  So, today, the first thing I did was hit the local drugstore and buy a new toothbrush.

So, you may wonder, what did I use to brush my teeth last night (and again this morning)?



A Q-Tip

And for tomorrow?

I've adopted Peggy's suggestion and am now blogging from the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum. Where should I go play tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5 hours and 500 calories

Yes, by the time I landed at JFK at around 9:00 p.m., I was operating on 5 hours of sleep and 500 calories.  (My breakfast yogurt, a bag of pretzels, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies.)  

I'm not entirely sure what my minimum necessary caloric intake is in order to function (particularly on minimal sleep), but I'm pretty sure it's more than 500 calories.  It's totally cool of JetBlue to give free snacks, but it is way not cool that they don't even offer meals for sale.  Because when you get on a plane at noon (departure local time) and land at 9:00 (destination local time), you've missed out on at least one, and arguably two, meals.

And (as I'm sure I've mentioned here before), that business about New York being the City that Never Sleeps is a load of crap.  New York sleeps.  Try to get dinner at 11:00 and you'll see my point.  (I actually managed to get a table at Olive Garden at 10:55 -- right before they closed the doors.)

The biggest issue facing me right now is what the hell to do tomorrow.  I plan my New York trips around the plays I'm going to see -- and while I've got a show booked for tomorrow night, I haven't given much thought to what to do before then.  (Other than, y'know, sleep in.)  It may rain, so I'm thinking maybe something indoorsy, but I'm having a heck of time finding something unique, fun, and maybe a little active in this extremely touristy town.

Three. Thirty.

Got to bed at 3:30 last night.  This morning.  Whatever.

On five hours of sleep, I'm not all that clear on details.  I'm one-thought-in-my-head tired.  (Like, when I got in the shower, all I could think was "Fast shower; fast shower; fast shower" -- because if I let my mind wander to anything else, I'd end up missing my flight.

Free Wi-Fi in the airport!  (Thanks, Google.)  Joy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Procrastination Begins

I'm flying out tomorrow at, er, let's see here, 12:30 in the afternoon.  It's about 10:20 at night just now, so, give or take, I've got about 12 hours between now and when I hit the door for the airport.

Number of suitcases currently packed:  zero.

Number of bras that are currently clean:  one.

Yeah.  So clearly this evening's activities will begin with me putting a load in the washer.  (At least I had the good sense to wash, like, ten pairs of jeans last night.  Yes, I own ten pairs of jeans.  Eleven, actually, as I'm pretty sure I was wearing a pair.  I, um, wear a lot of jeans.  A casual office will do that to you.)

And it's also going to involve charging up the netbook, refilling itty bitty shampoo bottles, and all that other crap I do when packing for a trip.

And what am I doing now?  Blogging about it, of course.  I'm a world champion procrastinator at the best of times, but when the matter turns to packing (and its partner in crime, unpacking), my procrastination hits new and exciting heights.  It actually isn't so much procrastination as focussing on the little details so much that the main task doesn't get completed for about, oh, six or seven hours.

(I mean, I can't pack until I have clean bras, now, can I?)

I'm gonna try though, which basically means you're going to be spared the rant you were going to get at Verizon Wireless.  Well, OK, here's the condensed version:

Friday:  Want to order accessories for new phone; want 25% government employee discount.  Would've ordered them when I got the phone, but they can only be ordered them from the special government employee discount website -- the link to which is sent to my government e-mail address via super-secret email, so I must be at work when I do it.  Order accessories (with alleged free overnight shipping).  Receive receipt which does not include 25% discount.  Call Verizon, "where's discount?"  Am told there's a delay in the system processing orders, but once my order is processed, they'll be able to fix it.  

Monday:  Apparently, the order never processed.  Am told to order the accessories again.  Try to use government employee discount website, but my link to it was only good for 48 hours, so the link has expired.  Must get approved for new super-secret email.  Apply immediately; Verizon takes two hours to turn this around.  Get link.  Order accessories again.  Again receive receipt which does not include 25% discount.  Call Verizon, "where's discount?" The order has not yet gone through, but I'm assured that when it processes, I'll get the discount.

Tuesday:  And yet, still no accessories.  Call Verizon -- the second order never processed either.  Now I'm pissed off.  Ask employee if I can order the damn things on the phone because clearly, there's something screwed up with the government employee discount website.  Employee on phone says she'll transfer me to person who can order accessories.  I tell person who can order accessories that I have a meeting in 10 minutes so let's do this fast.  I tell her the accessories I want.  She places the order and asks if she can put me on hold; I say, "Only briefly; I've really got to go to this meeting."  My phone keeps track -- she has me on hold for 10 minutes.  I hang up.  (I am never called back to finish the order.)  I call later and ask if I can get the employee discount if I buy the damn things at a Verizon store.  I am assured that the discount is in my file, so it will be applied.

I (more or less) finish work at 8:30 -- the Verizon store closes at 9:00.  I violate a few speed laws and hit the door at 8:57.  I cannot find the accessories I want.  I ask the nice employee where the accessories are.  He says they're out of stock.  He says he can order them for me, and give me a 25% discount for my trouble.