Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In re: The President's Speech...

... could someone get Nancy Pelosi a box to stand on?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Award Shows

OK, during the "Supporting Actress" intro, in which we not only got a montage of previous winners but also got an intimate description of how incredibly awesome each nominee's performance was, it dawned on me that this was going to be the Longest Academy Awards Show ever.

The lengthy montages and the endlessly stupid presenter banter (telling us what a costume designer does) have done nothing to disabuse me of this notion. Good Lord, we haven't even gotten to the lifetime achievement awards, which tend to take a full segment by themselves.

I am, as it happens, at this very moment working on a (considerably smaller) Awards show which I am involved in producing. I'm taking some notes now. So far I have: (1) Don't script anything for the presenters; (2) the show is about the nominees and the winners not the people putting on the show; (3) if audiences are going to be bored by the technical awards, they'll be even more bored by a description of the award -- just give the damn thing and cut your losses; the people that care already know what the award is for.

Oh geez, now Ben Stiller is upstaging the clips of the cinematographers. See Rule (2), dude. Sure, you got some laughs, but you're making a mockery of the people you're supposed to be honoring.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wow, that was stupid

I've been dealing with a certain amount of pain in my arm lately. Usually just wrap it in one of them ThermaCare thingies, and it eases enough for me to do whatever I have to do.

While I'm not positive about the cause, I attribute it, in general, to the shithole in which I live. I figure it's either the result of the non-ergonomic computer set-up I have here (computer on coffee table) or just the bizarre way I sit on the couch with my arm sorta over the side of it. In either event -- or some other circumstance -- arm hurts. It has been going on for weeks now, but never actually stopped me from doing anything. Doesn't really hurt when I type or write or drive -- it just hurts when I raise it. (For example, every time I put a mug of water in the microwave for tea. The microwave is one of those over-stove models, and the lifting hurts.) But, y'know, no big.

Let's just fast forward to this weekend. I visited my sister in Connecticut. I actually thought this might be good for the arm -- to be away from my crappy non-ergonomic set-up for a few days. And my arm was feeling better by this morning.

Until such time as I (in my infinite wisdom) got on the flight home and hoisted my carry-on into the overhead bin. Actually, it was hoisted only partway into the bin when my forearm decided to tell me in no uncertain terms that this was a really bad idea and completely dropped out of the hoisting process altogether. I tried using only the other arm, but got a bit unbalanced. At this point, a young man in an Army uniform politely asked if he could help me with the bag, and tossed it up there with no problem.

My arm is still really angry that I'd asked it to lift the bag. It spent the bulk of the six-hour flight pointing this out. I was reading a book and had to keep putting it down because it hurt to hold the book up. It also hurt to lift the bottle of water for a drink, to slip my coat back on, to shift my car into drive, and to set the emergency brake. I'm operating most things left-handed now, which is fairly amusing due to the general lack of dexterity on that side.

When I got home, I decided to apply ice, since, although the injury itself wasn't recent, the aggravation clearly was. Except I have no ice. And no bag of frozen peas to use, either. Inspecting the freezer, I discovered ice cream and ... well....

I just spent 20 minutes with a half bag of Hebrew National franks defrosting on my arm.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yes, I'm a lawyer. Why do you ask?

So, the sellers send me their Natural Hazard Disclosure form. Which says the house isn't in a flood risk zone or an earthquake zone (like you can know this) but is in fact in a High Risk Fire Zone.

Really? Based on my totally unscientific study -- which consisted of looking up the street to see how far from the mountains the house was -- I would have said not.

Being in a High Risk Fire Zone, according to the Natural Hazard Disclosure form, requires the property owner (soon to be me) to take certain precautions with the property. I looked 'em up. It's basically keeping trees properly trimmed so that a fire doesn't easily leap from a tree to the house. I am down with this whether I'm in a High Risk Fire Zone or not, but words like "High Risk Fire Zone" say "High Insurance Premiums" to me, so I wanted to take a second look.

Thankfully, the internet provides this information. A little googling leads me to the State's website on Fire Protection Areas (or whatever they call it) and I find a fire hazard zone map of my City. Which does not have the property in a High Risk Zone. Actually, it isn't even in a Moderate Risk Zone. It's right there in a normal risk zone.

I call up the Natural Hazard Disclosure guy and ask him where he found his info, because, y'know, my info says No Special Risk. He emails me his info (also from the internet). Says High Risk.

I compare and contrast maps (putting tremendous strain on my Acrobat Reader). His map says 2005. My map says 2007. I call him back and say, "my map is newer than your map." He says, "My map is the map I have to use." I said, "Who told you to use that map?" He doesn't know. He doesn't seem to care. (Apparently, his patience lasts only as far as showing me his map.)

I could let this go at this point, but, frankly, I'm having too much fun. (And I also think I have a reasonable chance of winning.)

I decide to take the dispute to a higher authority and contact the folks in the State Fire Protection (whatever) office. They are extremely friendly, and happy to help me figure out the deal with this property. I get what may be the official word -- although the woman who I spoke to asked me to send the info in email so she could show it to the head honcho next week, for the Absolutely Official Word.

So, the tentative official word is this: The "official" map is the County map, not the City map. The last time they updated the County map was in 2005, so my Natural Hazard Disclosure guy was, in fact using the currently effective map. However, they're in the process of updating the County maps, and their website has the 2007 draft County map (which reflects the map adopted by my City -- i.e. No Special Risk). They should make the final changes to the County map and approve it within a few months. Which means that the house is currently in a High Risk Zone, but very likely won't be within a few months. Which would be a swell thing in terms of fire insurance premiums.

I'm still keeping the trees safely trimmed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Or it'll make a good 'blog post

While in CVS the other day, I found myself face-to-face with a package of "Nad's."

"Ah," I thought, "The poorly named hair removal product I've seen in all those Infomercials."

(Seriously. I understand it's named after some Australian woman and all. But do we really want to buy a product that, for a misplaced apostrophe, would be named 'nads? Especially when the purpose of the product is forcibly removing hair from the root? Yeah, I can imagine that this sells really well with men.)

But, y'know, I really do hate shaving my legs. And the box tantalizingly offers results of "up to 8 weeks."

So, I figure I'll give it a shot. Worst case scenario, I can blog about it.

Take the box home; open it up. You've got five fabric strips, a flat plastic stick that serves as an applicator, and a jar of ... green goo. It's really, really thick. Science must look at this and go "liquid? solid? I'm not entirely sure." And it's the color of green that says "tastes like sour apple," but with a consistency that says, "you don't want to find out."

So, I follow the directions, which require applying a thin layer to an area on your leg with the plastic stick.

Let me tell you exactly how sticky this stuff is. It's so sticky that, while you're applying it, you get stray leg hairs on the stick. In other words, the goo is already grabbing hairs and pulling them out, just in the act of spreading it.

OK. I've got a thin layer of goo on my leg. Now I put a fabric strip over it, and press downward three or four times as directed. The moment of truth arrives; now I've got to pull my skin taut and yank this damn thing off. The quicker the better, according to the box. I look at the cat. She looks back at me. OK, I think, let's go for it.

Strip yanked; didn't hurt at all. I look at the strip -- covered with goo and my leg hair -- just like in the infomercials. I am impressed. The instructions tell me I can keep using the same strip without adding more goo, until it stops sticking. I do this. The more I press down on the strip, the more the goo starts peeping through the back of the strip, making my hand gooey. It's messy, but it works.

After two sessions with this stuff, here's my report:

1. Use it before you shower, otherwise you'll stick to everything all day long. The goo appears magically attracted to surfaces to which you have not actually applied it.

2. Don't exactly know why they bother having you put the goo on your leg, since, once you first use the strip, all of the goo has been transferred to the strip, and you just keep re-using it. Why not sell pre-goo-ed strips instead? Much tidier.

3. It works just like on TV -- the first time you use it, it does clear a nice path. However, the human leg contains more than a single fabric-strip-sized patch of hair. You need to reach that strip in all sorts of exciting angles. (And I'm not even talking about a bikini wax. CVS had a "Brazilian" hair removal product which actually came with its own mirror. The mind boggles.) But if you're really going to do this right, you probably need a friend. A very good friend.

4. I don't care how many times you can re-use them; five strips is not enough. And waiting to wash and dry the strips before you can finish the task is a real waste.

5. I seriously doubt it's going to last 8 weeks. I'll be surprised if it lasts 8 days.

6. It still has a phenomenally stupid name.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


So, the other day, I left work early to go to the Post Office.

I know. But I get all my mail at a Post Office box while I'm in the temporary apartment, and the damn place closes at 6:00. I have to leave work at about 5:15 to make it. I try to go once a week (and again on Saturday).

So, I'm running out of the office at about 5:20, and I hit the parking garage. The elevator is right there, so I run in and hit the number for my floor. As the door closes, I hear someone running up. My hand instinctively goes toward the close door/open door buttons and I momentarily can't decide which one to go for. I do the right thing and hit "open door," to the gratitude of the dude who was on the other side of the doors.

Fast-forward about 40 minutes. About exactly 40 minutes. I've parked my car and am now across the street from the Post Office. I miss the light, so I'm standing there helplessly staring at a "Don't Walk" sign while my cell phone informs me that, yes, it's 6:00. Going on 6:01, even. The light changes and I run like hell across the street and up the stairs. The Post Office door is actually open, but this is only because there are about six doors, and the woman with the key has started locking them at the other end of the line. As I run in, she tells me they're closed. I make the pitiful face and tell her I just want to get my mail. She tells me to go ahead.

So the question is: Is this good karma payback for holding the elevator for that guy? Or would I have made the light if I hadn't stopped to let him on?

Today's Brain Teaser

How big is my television?

Seriously -- I need to know this. My TV is in storage and it would be nice if, by the time I have the movers bring it to my house, I have a piece of furniture to put it on. To do that, I need to know what size piece of furniture to buy. To know that, I need to know how big the TV is.

I apparently did not blog the purchase of the TV.

Checked my "sent" mail; didn't tell anyone the size of the TV.

The receipt and/or warranty is also in storage.

When I last went to the storage cage, the TV was hidden so far back there, I couldn't even see it.

I give up. How do I find out what size TV I own?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Want to Sage the House

... or do whatever is done these days to get rid of icky mojo.

Received the preliminary title report on the house. There was something in it that was not quite right; specifically, a couple of CC&Rs. This is not quite right because there aren't supposed to be any CC&Rs on the property. And the title report doesn't exactly tell me what the CC&Rs are. It just says that the CC&Rs invalidate any restriction on the property preventing you from selling it to someone based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any of those other things we don't discriminate on.

Hey, I'm down with anti-discrimination clauses.

What threw me here, though, is that these CC&Rs apparently were imposed on the property in 1950. And while I could see it being particularly forward-thinking for this little California community to say that you can't discriminate in housing based on race, it seemed, well, impossibly forward-thinking for the community to say, back in 1950, that you can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. (For one thing, they wouldn't even call it "sexual orientation" for another 40 years.)

So I asked the title company to show me what these CC&Rs actually were -- just to make sure there wasn't something about "and you have to pay a Community Association $100/month" or anything equally annoying hidden in there.

Title company obliged, and sent me a scan of a charming little 1950 restriction saying that the house can't be sold to anyone but a white person.

Obviously illegal. Obviously unenforceable. Obviously (given the identity of my sellers) unenforced.

Still, my first thought was, "Oh my G-d, I'm buying a racist house."