Friday, July 31, 2009

"My watch"

The other night, when I was packing, someone asked me what it was that I was going to forget to pack, and which would therefore be the first thing I’d purchase upon arriving at my destination.

Turned out to be my watch -- a fact I discovered long-before reaching my destination, but, in fact, at the airport.

Just as I was entering the security line.

At around the time when I thought, “I have to take off my watch … shit.”

I’m extremely peeved to have forgotten my watch -- in part due to the long and sordid history I’ve had traveling with watches. (Battery died in London; wrist strap broke in San Francisco; “waterproof” watch did not live up to its name in Fiji.) And then it took (seemingly) weeks to figure out exactly which watch to buy as my new travel watch (which is 90% of the time, my everyday watch as well) and I actually got one I genuinely like. (Having been unable to find exactly all the features I was looking for in a watch small enough to fit on my girly little wrist, I actually split up my watch’s tasks between a kick-ass watch and a travel alarm clock. Concerned that the battery on the travel alarm clock might be on its last leg, I bought a new one before leaving. Did not think to remember the watch, though.)

So, no watch to take off at Security.

I thought, for a moment, that perhaps I could do without -- after all, the travel alarm clock is pretty small; I could carry it in my purse. Then I pictured myself opening up my purse, flipping open a clock, flipping it closed and putting it back every ten or so minutes when I’m on a shore excursion wanting to make it back to the ship in time. Ridiculous. (I’d do it with a pocket watch. I find that little snap that a pocket watch makes when you close its lid quite satisfying -- but the effect would be ruined with a 3 inch square block of plastic.)

So, I had a half hour (or thereabouts -- watchless, I could only guess) to find a suitable replacement on the other side of Security in Terminal 4.

To my surprise, I actually had two choices.

Neither, however, was the $20 cheap Timex for which I’d hoped.

One was the “Everything’s $10” kiosk (sort of like a Dollar Store, but with airport inflation) which had three whole shelves of watches in its costume jewelry section.

The other was the pricey trendy shop, which had watches running from $50 to $500.

I dithered. $50 is a lot to spend on a watch -- especially when I’ve already got a perfectly good watch at home (three, in fact). But would a $10 watch make it three weeks?

I went back to the $10 kiosk to find out. There was one watch there which was small and not entirely unattractive. It also was not ticking. I took a closer look at the shelf full of watches -- maybe 1/3 of the watches were actually running. It was as though you’d spend $10 on a cheap bracelet which looked like a watch, and it if happened to tell the time, well, hey, that was a bonus. (They’ll all be right twice a day, right?)

Resigned, I went back to the trendy store. Went right up to the employee and said, as firmly yet politely as I could, “What’s the cheapest watch in this store?”

It was, in fact, a $50 black Swatch.

I ultimately spent an extra $5 and bought a shiny red Swatch, on the theory that, if I bought the black one, it would never be used again as it is in no way superior to any of my three watches at home; but the red one had the advantage of being substantially redder than all of my watches, and I could conceivably wear it as an accessory with a red dress or something.

(Turns out, I did buy something from the $10 store, though. Having acquired a reasonably priced mp3 player, I’d refused to pay upwards of $20 for a plastic case for it. But it is awful small and prone to getting tossed about in my purse -- and I wouldn’t mind something for the headphones as well. Found a little leather double-zip coin purse thing which fits my purpose exactly.)

So … two things purchased at LAX. Next stop: Toronto International Airport.

Final Report on the Berries

Pictures! I got pictures! This is what happened yesterday, when we had the Box o' Berries and the Debbie Meyer Green Bag o' Berries.

The photos pretty much tell it. The box was looking kinda dry while the bag was looking much healthier and juicier.

But the post-script is also interesting. Today, I ate the bag o' berries ... more than 24 hours after I ate the box at what appeared to be the end of its useful life. Result: the bag was pretty much at the end of its useful life, too. The berries were too moist for their own good, and some had gone off.

So, here's what I can say about the green bags based on this experiment:

For the first four (or so) days, the green bags were unnecessary, and leaving the berries in their boxes, in the produce bin, worked just fine.

But if you want some berries to last a fifth day, stick those in the green bag in the produce bin. But it won't safely buy you much more than a day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eighty Pounds!

That's how much luggage I'll be hauling with me.

There are a variety of reasons for this:

1. They charge me if I have one suitcase weighing more than 50 pounds, but not if I have two suitcases which are each under 50 pounds.

2. One suitcase for London; one suitcase for cruise.

3. You can never overpack for a cruise. Seriously. I mean, two outfits per day are minimally mandatory -- shorts and a tank or T-shirt during the day; dress for dinner. (Stupid "casual dress" requirements say no jeans, shorts, or T-shirts at dinner.) And that's assuming you just do one thing during the day -- if you take a swim or kayak or rest in the sun or whatever, that's another change of clothes. When I did a 7-day cruise in the Great Barrier Reef, I ran out of clothes after about 3 days. So, what I'm saying here is: I pretty much filled the suitcase with as many clothes as would fit in there, in the vain hope that I might possibly have taken too much.

(London -- London is different. London is one shirt for each day day, plus one vest, one sweater and one jacket, which all go with each other. But since the weather is colder in London, it still took up a lot of space.)

So... I've got about 40 pounds in each suitcase (including a folded up duffel bag to carry all the stuff I happen to buy), and I'm pretty much ready to roll tomorrow morning. Wheeeee!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And the Green Bags burst ahead!

Or, more precisely, the plastic container fell by the wayside.

Wednesday morning's berry check revealed the raspberries in the plastic container on the verge of death. They were dark in color, looked a bit dry, and a few had moldy bits. They had that "eat us now before we go completely" look to them.

On the other hand, the Debbie Meyer Green Bag berries were bright, red, and cheerful. They were still a bit moister than I would have liked (despite wiping the inside of the bag daily), but they looked like they had at least another day left in them, while the plastic bin berries totally did not.

The plastic bin berries ultimately died of dryness and age, while I think the Debbie Meyer Green Bag berries will meet their maker due to excessive moisture. One wonders if the Debbie Meyer Green Bag berries might do even better if I punched some holes in the bags to let the moisture out.

One is also concerned how one bag of DBGB berries in the produce bin started dying off yesterday, while another bag was fine today and looks like it might be good tomorrow as well. I suppose it's possible that my six containers of berries, despite coming in the same box, were not, in fact, of the same vintage. A third experiment might be necessary, with mixing all the berries before we begin, to make sure each sample has an equal chance.

The things I do for science.

The DBGB Raspberry Challenge Tuesday Update

It is not looking good for the Debbie Meyer Green Bags.

Yesterday, upon sampling a berry from both the box and a green bag, both seemed fine. On closer inspection, though, I saw a berry in the bag had a little green spot of mold -- or whatever it is that grows on berries when they're dying -- while the berries in the box were green mold-free.

So, the berries which got consumed yesterday were from one of the Debbie Meyer Green Bags -- and I had to inspect each one before I ate it so as not to eat berry mold. There were about three which were in such condition. A few others were very dark and squishy, although still edible.

This means that I have one bag and one box left, and should be able to call a victor today. (And if I can't call a victor today, I may be required to eat half of each sample and leave the remainder to keep the experiment going.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Debbie Meyer Green Bag Raspberry Challenge!

Now that I'm a Costco member, I can get six little containers of raspberries for, like, the cost of two little containers of raspberries at my grocery store. Which is cool because, yes, I can suck down six containers of raspberries before they go bad.

Now, when I first bought all those raspberries a couple weeks ago, I thought I'd test out the ol' Debbie Meyer Green Bags (which I use on all my fruit, in the belief that they actually work) by putting five containers of berries in one great big green bag and leaving one container in its little ventilated plastic box.

Result: A tie. Or, more precisely, experiment called on account of improper experimental method. The five bags worth in the green bag started to turn to juice at the bottom -- I figured it was the weight of all the berries on top squashing the berries on the bottom. And I'd kept the Debbie Meyer berries in the main fridge compartment, while the plastic box was in the produce bin, where it (by the very definition of the produce bin) was collecting less moisture. All things considered, the berries in the bag became too squashed to eat right around the time the berries in the box were going bad, so there wasn't a clear victor either way.

I went to Costco again this weekend and got six more little containers of raspberries. This time, I did the following:
Two (2) Debbie Meyer Green Bags, each with the contents of one box of berries, in the fridge
Two (2) Debbie Meyer Green Bags, each with the contents of one box of berries, in the produce bin.
One (1) box of berries in the produce bin.
One (1) box of berries in my stomach. (Hey, science makes you hungry.)

That was Saturday. By Sunday night, I could issue a preliminary result, which was:

Keep your Debbie Meyer Green Bags in the produce bin.

The liquefication which I'd noticed in the first experiment was not, in fact, a result of too many berries squashing each other. It was a result of no ventilation in the Debbie Meyer Green Bag. To be fair, the directions on the Green Bag direct you to go into said bags on a regular basis and wipe out the condensation which forms on the inside of the bag. When I went in there last night (to consume some berries), I wiped out all the bags -- the bags in the bin were much drier than the bags not in the bin -- and it was apparent that the berries in the bags which were not in the produce bin were already starting to, well, stew in their own juices. Science requires that I consume the worst-performing berries (to keep the better ones in the competition) and this was a bag of non-produce-bin berries. They were definitely edible, but not as firm as the berries I ate on Day One.

In the interest of not ruining more berries, I actually moved the remaining bag to the produce bin. These mixed location berries were consumed on Monday. Result: soggier than the day before. A few berries in the bag may be safely classified as "going, but not yet gone," due to excess moisture.

So, our battle is now down to two green bags in the produce bin and one box in the produce bin. More updates as they happen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Just one more errand

I ran errands yesterday. The plan was that I'd stay home today, do some laundry, pay bills, upload tunes to the new mp3 player... y'know, all that at-home stuff.

Except, last night, right before falling asleep (at, like, 3:30 a.m.), it dawned that there were a few more errands I had to run today. I scrawled them on my white board so I'd remember.

OK, no problem. I wake up this morning and look at the list. I make my plan: Bed, Bath & Beyond for a shade for my garage window (at night, the lights in front of my garage shine through the windows on the garage door, and can be seen through the garage window -- and it's apparent when there's no car there. So if I'm going to be gone for a few weeks, I want a curtain on that window); then to the mall to go to Victoria's Secret and buy just a couple more bras; then hit the pharmacy for a few essentials, then I'm good to come home.


Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond, and buy the shade. The Bed, Bath & Beyond is right near the Best Buy, and I remember that I forgot to put "go to Best Buy for a replacement battery for my travel alarm clock" on my list. And I don't have the battery with me and don't know the size (it's something small). Damn, damn, damn. I buy the shade, and figure I'll bring it home, hang it quickly, and grab the travel alarm battery.

Yeah, you can see where this went wrong.

I'd been hoping that the shade would just slide into the brackets that the previous owner left, but it took a different bracket. So I pulled a ladder over, removed the brackets, screwed in the new brackets, and hung the new shade.

Heh. That's how it was supposed to happen. You can insert in there the use of a power screwdriver, a power drill (with screwdriver attachments), two old-fashioned hand-operated screwdrivers, pretty much destroying a couple screwdriver bits, and only actually managing to get 2 screws in on each side. (Did they test this in the real world before they released it on an unsuspecting bracket-hanging public? The idea is that they give you a little corner bracket that you screw to the inside of the window frame -- screws on the top and screws on the side -- and then there's a bolt hanging down from the top to which you will attach the shade. But the bolt hanging down is strategically placed to block access to every single screw hole on the side, and it's rather in the way of getting a tool well-placed for the top screws as well.) A simple job took an hour, and when I was done, I was dripping with sweat.

No, I understate the situation. There were rivers of sweat pouring off of me. 98 degrees outside and I'm wearing a knit dress, working in my hot garage with the sun pouring through the window. I sweat from places I didn't know I had pores. Flies started buzzing around me because I was a water source. When I was done, I stepped on the scale and weighed a half pound less than when I'd started this morning -- it was all water loss from the sweat.

I didn't imagine I was in anything like decent shape to go to Victoria's Secret and try on bras -- I bet they'd make me buy anything I touched. So I needed a quick shower first.

And before I shower, I might as well re-pot the plant, right? Because that's dirty.

(And somewhat amusing. For my housewarming, my neighbors gave me a basket with all sorts of plants in it. Some of them were obviously fake. Obviously. I assumed they were all fake until one of them started dying on me; then I realized a few were actually alive. So I started watering it, but the basket wasn't made for that, so it all spilled out the bottom. So, yesterday, I bought a pot and some potting soil and figured I'd try to save the survivors.)

So, I repotted the two hardiest of the bunch, tossed the rest in the trash can, took out the garbage in general (as it's trash day tomorrow and, hey, as long as I'm dirty...) and ... dammit, that was my last compactor bag. Fine, I'll add "go to Sears for more compactor bags" to the list just as soon as I get out of the shower.

I showered. I made a list of where I had to go (and when it would close). And ... I'm off. First stop; the mall. Victoria's Secret. I find the right style bra in my size and they have a grand total of one of them. All that for one freakin' bra? I grab some food at the mall because I'll need the sustenance. I then go to JC Penney and pick up a few more bras. (Hooray!)

Back to the car and ... to the pharmacy, men! Necessaries purchased.

To Sears! For compactor bags.

They're out of compactor bags.


To Best Buy for a battery for the travel alarm, and a vague hope they may have compactor bags. Negative on the compactor bags, but I score on the battery.

Haul my exhausted butt out to OSH (hardware store) to see if they have compactor bags. They do! Finally!

I get home, just on the good side of 8:00.

Wiped out, and with NONE of the at-home stuff done.

On Television

OK, I've got about a zillion things to do (this being my last weekend before my trip -- I'm already planning on getting my work done early this week so I can take off another day just to pack) -- anyway, I've got a zillion things to do but am I doing them? No. Because what I feel the really deep need to do is 'blog for a bit about television.

Torchwood, in particular.

Now, just in case you're not all watching BBC America, let me give you a brief rundown of what's going on here.

Torchwood is a spinoff (and anagram) of Doctor Who. It was always intended to be darker, grittier, and have more sex in it. After its first season, someone hit the giant "reset" button on the show and it came back a bit more fun (but still with the sex) for the second season. And at the end of the second season, the giant "reset" button got hit again, two main characters got killed off, and the show didn't so much get renewed as given, instead of a full third season, a five-night mini-series.

Which aired in the UK recently, and just aired on BBC America last week. It got high UK ratings (the best Torchwood ever got, apparently) and while I'm not sure what sort of ratings it pulled in the States (second-tier cable numbers aren't that easy to come by), the critical reception was strongly positive. In other words, well done, Torchwood.

Until you look on the internet and read the message boards. Fans of the show are peeved. Cancelling pre-ordered copies of the DVD. Threatening/promising to never watch the show ever again (assuming it gets picked up for a 4th season, which seems more likely given the numbers for the 3rd). Starting grass-roots campaigns.

Because, you see, Season 3 of Torchwood pretty much hit the giant "reset" button yet again. The mini-series was written in such a way that it could serve as a good series ender if the show didn't get picked up again, although that door was still left open a crack. The mini-series killed off another main character (a fan favorite). And it ended with, well, let's just say making another main character make a tragic choice, which left him emotionally devastated.

Fans were torn apart by both of these things. Writing letters (and raising money for charity) to bring back the dead character. Complaining that it is just too much for us to take -- killing off another one after they'd just killed off two at the end of the last season. Angry that emotionally devastating our lead will make him no fun at all to watch in season four. Whining that his tragic choice was unnecessary, as a perfectly easy solution to the problem would have been available had the writers not prematurely kicked off a guest character before the end of the show. Much, much anger. Much complaining about betraying the writer/fan relationship. (Followed by much hurt defensiveness whenever they're told that the writer doesn't owe them anything.)

To which I can only say: Step back for a second. (And, some of you, step back a little further.) Take a look at what you're doing for a minute.

It's television. These people aren't real. These are characters the writers wrote and the actors inhabited. That their death and emotional trauma hurts you means that the show worked. It jumped out of the television set and moved you. Maybe it moved you in a way you didn't want to be moved; maybe you feel cheated because you feel emotionally manipulated. But this just means that the people behind the show succeeded at what they wanted to do. That you're angry because a main character was killed off means that they created a character you cared about. That you're thinking about ways the lead could have spared the emotional trauma of the horrible decision he had to make means that they succeeded in a telling a story where things aren't fair and saving the world has costs. That's clearly what they wanted to tell.

There are shows I've watched once and haven't watched again. (Warehouse 13 leaps to mind.) And when that happens, I don't jump all over the internet and loudly proclaim that it's crap, a sorry retread of The X-Files, with bad dialogue and plot holes you could drive a jeep through (all of which are true, btw). I just stopped watching, briefly mourned the hour of my life I'll never get back, and moved on. There have also been shows that I watched for years, and then stopped watching when they fell off in quality (say, X-Files itself). I just remembered the good times, felt a bit sad that the show wouldn't be giving me any more entertaining hours, and moved on. That people are taking the trouble to shout how angry they are about Torchwood (even when it's clothed in language that the mini-series was poorly written) are actually saying it was good enough to make them care.

For my own part, I loved it. I enjoyed the first three episodes of the mini-series, and when it got emotionally dark it got really dark, and I applauded that the show had the cajones to, well, (1) actually sicken me with the depths to which humans could sink (in terms of behavior towards each other) when faced with an unwinnable situation; and then, (2) punch me in the gut. It was excellent television, more "can't look away" than anything the show has done before. And for everyone who is complaining because it looks like any fourth season they'd do would be no fun at all given what they've put the characters through, I have only one thing to say:

They still have the giant "reset" button.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Still waitin' on the Me Time

It continued! I didn't think it would but it did!


Wake up (would have been 6 hours of sleep but I overslept -- Feline Alarm Clock woke me after I ignored the radio for about an hour). Exercise. Shower. Dress.

Get in car. Am hauling ass about an hour and a quarter away to review a show. I've also got a blind date for lunch before the show. (The date isn't local, but happened to be in the neighborhood near where the show was, so I thought, "What the hell.")

Am on schedule to be about 10 minutes late. I speed (obviously) but every time I make up a couple minutes, I lose them to traffic. I expect my date to call at some point and ask where the hell I am, so I have my phone's bluetooth thingy in my ear.

About an hour into the drive, my bluetooth thingy rings.

No, let me amend that. If someone is calling me, my bluetooth thingy plays a cheerful tune. If I am calling someone, I hear the brrrring that you always hear when you call someone. This is what my phone is doing, but I am not calling anyone. I look at the phone; apparently, I'm calling my friend Alison, who is the last person I'd called. I hit "end" to cancel the call. A few minutes later, my phone calls Alison again. I hit "end" again. This repeats way too many times, with me cancelling the call each time.

Shortly thereafter, Alison calls me, wondering what I wanted. ("Um, sorry. My phone keeps calling you. I'm about 10 minutes from my destination, at which time I can safely shut it down. If I call you between now and then, I don't mean it. Really sorry.")

Get to lunch. Turn off damn phone.

Meet blind date and try to make bright cheerful small talk when all I can think about is all the stuff I have to do. Doesn't go all that well.

We go to the show. It's short. ("Hallelujah!" I think, "I can get some stuff done tonight.")

Leave the show. Blind date wants to know if I want to spend some time walking on the beach. I tell him I really have to get home and run errands. I tell him it really is no reflection at all on him, but I'm seriously busy and I've already planned out my newly-found hour. I don't think he believes me.

I start the long drive home.

I pull off the highway as I'm cruising past a Home Depot. I have Home Depot cut the keys for me (this is the third attempt, if you're keeping score).

Drive all the way home. Get home.

Side door key works. Front door key doesn't initially work, but I keep trying it and eventually, the lock yields. Yay! Keys work!

I am meeting friends for dinner (these friends are the ones the spare keys were for). I have time to take out the trash first, since Monday is trash day.

I take out the trash, and haul the trash bin to the curb. I haul the lawn trimmings bin to the curb. I pull the recycling bin in my driveway so I can fill it with my recycling -- except there's already stuff in it. My gardener put some stuff in the recycling bin which is way not recyclable. I dig that junk out of the bin and pile it by the side of the house. (It's trash, but it's too big to fit in my trash bin, which is probably why he threw it in the larger recycling bin.) Now I can take out my recycling.

Go back inside. Change clothes (after digging through trash bins). Go to dinner with friends.

Come home. Write the review. (I bet you thought I forgot.) Crash on couch.

Somehow end up with only 6 hours of sleep before work today.

Now, here's what happened today:

1. Tried calling my mom on my cell phone on the way to work; the bluetooth kept hanging up on my mom ... so it could then call my mom.
2. Arrived at the office to find a voice mail from the eyeglasses place which they left on Sunday, telling me my glasses were ready. (Yes, I always call someone's "office" number on Sundays.)
3. Compared notes with friends from dinner the other night and realized we each thought the other left the tip so we accidentally stiffed the restaurant -- since I live closer, it's my job to go there tonight and make it right.
4. Called the cat sitters and signed them up to watch the cat while I'm away. Cat sitter says, "Since you're away for so long, can I have a second set of keys for my partner?"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Need Me Time

I need some "Me" time. I don't actually have any planned this weekend, because it's all jam-packed with shows to see (and review) and errands to run. It has sort of dawned that I'm leaving on my vacation in two weeks, and while I may (oh, I hope) have things under control at the office, it isn't exactly so for my home life. Still haven't called the cat sitter. Need to do that.

Here was today:

Wake up after only 6 hours of sleep. Hit the snooze button enough to kick it closer to 7.

Get up. Exercise. Shower. Dress.

Call Costco. If I order glasses today, how soon can I get them? 7 to 10 business days. Am leaving in ... 9 business days. Damn.

Get in car (with shiny new eyeglasses prescription in hand), off to local glasses-in-a-couple-days place. (Lenscrafters was out of the running for this job as I want Transitions lenses; they only carry their house brand and random googling suggests the house brand ain't all that good.)

Find pair of glasses that will not break the bank. (Discover, happily, that my usually good-for-nothing Vision insurance actually covers Transitions lenses.) Order them.

Back in car. To nail place. 15 minute wait for a pedi. Can't wait; leave.

Go to grocery store; buy special brand of cat litter which (annoyingly) only they carry. Buy lunch. Eat lunch.

Meet friend at movies. See Harry Potter movie. (Good, but a bit plodding. Would not see it again. I do not anticipate it making tons of money from multiple viewings.)

Back to nail place. Get nails done this time. Sit outside hoping wet nails will bake; the sun feels like it is melting the polish rather than hardening it.

Get in car. Head to locksmith. (Need spare key to give friend who will play with cat while I'm away.) Locksmith closed.

While heading out, car reminds me it would like its oil changed.

Swerve on into Jiffy Lube. Get oil changed.

Drive home. Stop at hardware store to get key copied.

Go home. Open door. Door won't open with newly copied key. Dammit.

Momentary crash on sofa. Snack on some watermelon.

Call stupid mail order company and tell them to cancel the dress they back-ordered; it won't make it to me before I leave on the trip.

Drive to nearest UPS drop-off location to return 3 of the 5 dresses they did send me.

Back to hardware store to recut the key.

To pet store to buy new litter pan and about a month's supply of canned cat food.

To dinner with friends.

Back home.

Key still won't work.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Five Hours Sleep

Wake up. Use bathroom. Weigh self.

Put bra on. Something is odd about the clasp, but I can't quite figure it out.

Look down.

Oh. Inside-out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just ... just don't play the damn song, OK?

Was flipping through radio stations and I stopped on one playing "What It's Like" by Everlast. I kinda dig the song; I especially like the second verse, which talks about a girl who got pregnant, the guy left her, and she goes to get an abortion. The key bit goes like this:

Then she heads for the clinic
And she gets some static walking through the door.
They call her a killer and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore.
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose.

So I'm sitting in my car and I hear, "They call her a killer and they call her a sinner and they call her a ..." and then I hear a comedy sound, sort of a big boing.


I mean, I can understand censorship and not wanting to harm the delicate sensibilities of your listeners by having them hear the word "whore." But let's review:

1. The song is ABOUT people calling this woman nasty things. It isn't a gratuitous gangsta use here.
2. If you're gonna edit it out, you could either silence the vocal track or cover it up with a bleep, but a cartoon boing? That's disrespectful.

As it happens, that's the fourth act of censorship in this station's version of the song -- and each one is equally cartoony. There's got to be at least two more -- I turned off the radio before we got to the other expletives.

Look -- Mick Jagger going strangely silent once in a Rolling Stones song doesn't take a whole lot away from the song, but six uses of a cartoon boing really kills the social commentary here. If you can't play it the way it was intended, just don't play the song. You're insulting everyone by treating it like this.

Well, that's done

The fine State of Arizona decided to, er, fine me some $181 for doing 66 in a 55 zone.

(Seriously? 66 in a 55 zone. James May does 66 in a 55 zone.)

(Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

I don't at all doubt that I did that speed. Indeed, I have some vague recollection of not being entirely certain of the speed limit on that particular stretch of highway. I might've even thought it was 65. (Or, I might not. 66 in a 55 zone isn't exactly unheard of where I come from.)

Clearly, I am unrepentant.

But I admitted it and (in the absence of a traffic school option) have coughed up the $181.50, plus the $30 "administrative fee" I had to pay Hertz to cover their costs in ratting me out. (Weasels.) So, I mean, there's $211 I won't be seeing again. (I think that's more than I paid to fly to Arizona in the first place. And rent the damn car.)

But, it's done and paid and we shall not speak of it again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dear Lord, it's a BRACE

My forearm has been bothering me for, like, eight months. In the absence of actually seeking medical assistance, I've poked around on the web, and smart money says "tendonitis." So I bought a little forearm support tendonitis brace from amazon. It's about three inches wide, black, and circles my arm, right below the elbow.

And someone (at work) saw it and asked if I was wearing an armband.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Got A Question

Was watching "Casino Royale" on TV this afternoon, and got to wondering...

Was Roger Moore ever hot?

Friday, July 3, 2009


For my housewarming/birthday, some friends (thanks!) bought me a membership to Costco.

Thought I'd try it out today.

Holy COW. The world shops at Costco on July 3rd. Seriously. All of America was there. You couldn't even see the checkstands because of all the lines winding from them back into the merchandise.

It was not the smoothest Costco shopping trip ever.

First (after quite some time cruising the parking lot for a spot), I found the membership counter. Presented my Gift Membership Card. Woman at counter says, "Fill out this membership form and give it back to whichever of us is available." I fill out the membership form. The next person available is a guy. I give the guy my Gift Membership Card and the Form the woman had me fill out.

Guy says, "Where's the form that came with the gift membership card?"

There was no form that came with the gift membership card.

I say, "There was no form that came with the gift membership card. That lady over there told me to fill out this membership form." Someone else joins in and says, "You need the membership form that came with the card."

"Nothing came with the card. It was in a box. No form."

"Who gave you the card?"

"Some friends." (Thanks again!)

"Well, you have to contact them and get them to give you the form that came with it. We can't do anything without that form."

I stare and blink, a little confused at how to proceed -- why are they not satisfied with the form I just filled out? The woman who had first told me to fill out the form notices the problem, and explains to these idiots that, "no, those were the old cards; with the new cards, all we need is the card, and we give them this form." I thank her gratefully. Get my shiny new Costco card. Off to shop.

It's big. I figure this will be more of a scouting mission than an actual shopping trip, so I go down each and every aisle. The store is in three sections and the first section is, generally speaking, shit for your home. I fill my cart here, with things like fire extinguishers, Rubbermaid food storage things, stick-on motion-sensitive LED lights, and various other things that I knew I sorta needed but hadn't gotten around to buying. I skip the center section and move on to the other side. This is bulk items for kitchen and bathroom. There were only two things I'd really expected to buy at Costco before I went: a bulk pack of toilet paper and bulk pack of deodorants. I ended up not buying either as they didn't have brands I'd used before, and I don't exactly want to experiment with the 36-pack of toilet paper.

Walking through the Bulk Foodstuffs part of Costco, I felt a little silly as a single person. I sure like that brownie mix, but I do want the one that makes five batches at once? And will I really go through 16 packs of "Easy Mac" before they expire on me? Still, I've done warehouse shopping before (anyone remember Price Club?) so I knew not to be distracted by stuff better suited to families with so many kids they've got their own reality shows. I went straight for the things I would use, like the big-ass bottle of Advil and the 12-pack of my favorite brand of chewing gum.

It was good that I saved the center section for last -- it was clothing and fresh food items. And in between the clothing and fresh food -- furniture! Or, more precisely, "the resting area," where all the zonked shoppers were hanging out, getting their second wind. The whole store was a ZOO -- you couldn't even go up one aisle and down the next because you'd run into long lines of people waiting to check out. After my rest break, I continued shopping (three pound box of cherries!) and hoped the crowds would have died down a bit.

They had. When I went to check out, I could actually see the checkstands, and each one had only three or so carts in line in front of it. My three hours at the store had paid off! So, I went in line, scan my stuff ($281 worth!) and pay....

And ... pay, dammit.

And ... why won't this thing take my credit card?

Eh... one of the things they probably should have mentioned when giving me my membership card is that the only credit card they take is American Express. They take debit cards, but I've refused to have the debit feature on any of my cards. This poses a problem. I've invested a lot of time into this $281 worth of stuff; I would like to buy it.

I ask the nice man at the checkstand if maybe he can hang on to my stuff while I go to the bank and get cash. He says he'll take care of it, no problem.

I hike to my car; ask the GPS where the nearest ATM is (a drive-thru ATM, a few blocks away). I drive thru said ATM, repark the car in my same distant parking spot (even though the shoppers have cleared out, the lot is still jam-packed), hike back to the store, find my stuff...

Where's my stuff?

I ask a nearby employee for assistance. She pulls over my cart and sheepishly asks me to remove what isn't mine. Apparently, nobody told her that I was coming back for my stuff, so she'd started throwing stuff other people didn't buy into the cart to reshelve. I pull out about six items. Good, done.

Um, I think my stuff has to be re-rung-up. I'm now on the other side of the registers (all of which still have three carts in line in front) and the lady who had helped me remove the unwanted stuff has gone back to whatever she was otherwise doing. I ask her who can ring me up. She says, "Go to 51; the guy at the end; he'll help you."

I go to 51, where I meet, the nicest person at Costco. He asks how he can help me. I explain that we need to ring up my stuff again, now that I have cash. He senses that I'm not having the best day ever. Asks if I have coupons. I have no coupons; I explain that I just got my membership card today. No problem; he'll give me the coupon prices anyway. I thank him very much. He rings up the groceries, quickly, with no fuss.

The total is $284 and change. This is odd to me, as it was $281 before. Nicest person is a bit stumped too, as he even went and gave me discounts. I take another look at the cart and see a box of fruit snacks that does not look familiar. Another stowaway item! He de-scans it, my total now drops under $270 (thanks to the coupons!) and I end up paying less than I would have paid if they'd taken my credit card from the start. So, yay. :)

Now, to eat three pounds of cherries.

Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

So, I'm lying on the sofa, with the cat. The cat is doing her standard "mixed signals" thing, where she pushes me away with her paw, then stretches out and gives me the "rub my belly" sign.

The mixed signals resolve themselves when she rolls over and falls off the sofa.

I pat the sofa (signal for "get that furry little butt back up here"). She obliges and jumps back up. I reach out to pet her and she pushes me away. Then the mixed signals start again. She reaches out to me with a paw, claws extended, and tries to get a grip on me to pull me closer.

This is usually not a problem, except this time, she manages to get a claw in a very unusual location.

Up. My. Nose.