Saturday, May 29, 2010

Now THAT's What I Call a Sausage Fest...

... dinner at the Hofbrauhaus.

I'm telling you, it's awfully hard to avoid the double entendres when you're eating Bavarian cuisine.  If I wasn't avoiding talking about "sausage," I was avoiding talking about "pork."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thanked and Excused!

Three words I was very excited to hear today.

For awhile there, I started thinking the defense lawyers were actually going to leave me on this jury.  (As a rule, it is the defense lawyers who strike me from their juries -- that is, except when they run out of challenges so we're stuck with each other.  But, when I have been excused, it's nearly always been defense lawyers.  It isn't that I necessarily present myself as having a prosecutorial bent -- it's that, because I work for the Court of Appeal, a good part of my time at work is spent, well, affirming convictions.)

I did my very best to honestly answer the questions asked during jury selection -- while still doing my best to imply that they didn't want me on their jury.  And yet, they seemed to be striking jurors left and right, but left me up there.  
I actually resorted to thinking evil thoughts.  I don't actually think I can project my thoughts, but I did think that I could maybe advance my cause if I stared at the defendants and their lawyers with a look of absolute hatred.  Even contempt, if I could swing it.  

I got a pretty nasty inner monologue going -- mentally insulting everything from counsel's outfit to her meritless objections.  I even started working up a good hate over how long the three lawyers were taking in a whispered coversation -- then I realized they were probably discussing who to strike from the jury pool, so sending them hate vibes for that was very likely counterproductive.  I had just started in on thinking about how one of the defendants was sitting there with a very smug unconcerned expression which probably meant he was totally guilty anyway, when his lawyer thanked and excused me.  (And in time for me to get out of there and make my flight, too!)  I immediately switched to mentally thanking counsel for her good timing, and applauding her good sense in jury selection ... and then hit the road before she changed her mind.


It's Not That I Object to Security

It all started when Orkin got a new payment address.

I pay Orkin via an electronic check from my bank account.  So I needed to log in to my bank account, and change Orkin's payment address.

Yeah, they don't have an option for that.  I need to add Orkin all over again as a new payee.

I did that.

But it wouldn't "activate" Orkin as a new payee until I confirmed my identity.  It asked for my ATM card number and my birthdate.

I gave it both numbers.

It said there was a problem, and for me to check the numbers and try again.

I did (and did).  Rejected again.

I called online customer service for assistance.  I got India.

Normally I don't mind costumer service in India.  They're generally competent and helpful and I don't really care that they speak English heavily-accented.

This guy, however, was treating me like I was four.  You know, asking if I was, in fact, doing my birthdate in the mm/dd/yyyy format they ask me to use.  Yes, you moron, I can read.  And follow directions.

It got worse.  He then asked me my birthday.  I told him.  He told me that they had a different birthdate on file.  I'm sorry dude, I know what my birthdate is.  It has, in fact, been my birthdate since, well, since that actual date.

He puts me on hold for two minutes, comes back on the line, thanks me for my patience, and asks if he can put me on hold.  (Didn't we just do this?)  He then says, "You said your birthday was January, right?"  "No, I said June."  

He goes away.  He comes back.  Tells me that I'll have to go to my nearest branch with two forms of ID in order to prove my birthdate is what I say it is.

It is around this time that I ask for his supervisor.

She tells me we can fake out the system.  Apparently, the system asks different security questions every time.  So we can keep trying until it gives me a security question that isn't my birthdate.  The problem is, every time it asks for my birthdate, I get it "wrong," and it locks me out of my account completely.  Supervisor lady can override that and re-approve my account access, because my identification has been "fully verified" over the phone.  (Then why can't you change my damn birthdate in there?  Oh no, you need to go into a branch to do that.)  

So, to review, the system locks me out (for reasons of security) when I get the security question wrong.  The people in India believe that I am me enough to keep letting me back in, but, apparently, not enough to change my (incorrect) personal information on file.

This is either a tragic lapse in security or just monumental stupidity.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Doin' my Civic Duty

Am presently cooling my heels in the lovely L.A. Superior Court Criminal Courts Building jury assembly room.  (The good news is:  free wi-fi and a few computer stations.  The bad news is:  jury duty.)

As a state employee -- and, indeed, one who works in the legal system -- I have to treat the experience in a somewhat positive fashion as, intellectually, I know how important it is that all citizens step up to the plate and participate fully when called.  As a human being with shit to do, however ... not so much.

They don't have juror parking nearby -- it's about a three or four block hike to where they have juror parking set up.  Coincidentally, it is about the same distance to my office.  So I pretty much just drove to work -- I just didn't walk into the building.  Hiked up to the courthouse.  Duly assembled.  Sat.  Waited.  Nearly fell asleep twice.  Finished my book.

At lunch, I waited ten minutes (with all the rest of the jurors) for one of the four totally overworked elevators, and eventually gave up and took the stairs.  Then hiked back down to work, where we were having a birthday lunch for a co-worker.  Then hiked back to the courthouse.  Waited another ten for the elevators going up.  And am now using my "no more than 25 minutes if people are waiting" on one of the court-provided computers.

"Boredom" does not even begin to explain the mind-numbing feeling of being in here.  I don't know if it's something in the recirculated air, but I'm so bored, there's nothing to look at on the internet.  That's right, I have the whole web to look at (well, except for swimsuit shopping -- there's a sign here that prohibits surfing for porn, intimate apparel, or swimsuits) and I just feel so fried, I can't bring myself to even google anything interesting.

Perhaps if I fell asleep on the keyboard, and had little key-shaped indentations on my forehead, I'd get thanked and excused.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yeah. That went well.

Friend of mind decided it'd be fun to take ballroom dancing class.  She found a "drop-in" class we could attend for $15.  Teaching "American Waltz."  Anyone can drop in, and you just rotate partners every minute or so.  OK, why the hell not?

(I'll tell you why the hell not.  In the lobby, the dance studio had water and coffee.  No damn breath mints.  And they should be mandatory for dancing with strangers.  Seriously, this one dude's breath was so bad, he asked why I was standing so far away from him in hold.  "Are you religious?" he asked.   No, I just have a functioning olfactory system.)

Here's how it works:  you can drop in whenever you want.  Every month they teach the same dance each week.  Eagle-eyed readers will realize that we were showing up on week four of American Waltz, although we were pretty rank beginners.  But I can pick up basic steps pretty quick, and was doing quite well until she threw in something at the end from a more advanced class.  (I got that eventually -- but only with about half the partners.)

So, yeah, I thought it went pretty well, considering.

Until such time as, after class, walking back to the car, I missed my footing, fell on the curb, whereupon a very smart instinct (which I wasn't aware I had) took over and executed a roll, so I landed on my backside rather than my front.  Commented to the couple (in front of whose car I performed this maneuver), "Yeah, I meant to do that."

Smooth move, Ginger.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I ... I ... there are no words

Went to the Dodger game last night.  Turned out it Empire Strikes Back 30th Anniversary Night.

And I innocently thought, "What can you do celebrate a movie at a Dodger game?"

OK, fine, Billy Dee Williams got the honorary shout of "It's Time for Dodger Baseball!"

Some voice actor from The Clone Wars sang the national anthem.

An animated Darth Vader did the Code of Conduct on the big screen.

But this?  I didn't see that coming.  (Probably should have.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hypothetically Speaking...

All other things being equal, do you hire

(a) the guy with a mid-range bid, who offered to beat your lowest estimate?


(b) the guy who came up with the lowest estimate in the first place?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Sign of Being a Grown Up

Now, when I shop at IKEA, rather than attempt to pile three six-foot long, 54-pound boxes into my car (and take them out at the other end), I ponied up the $49 bucks for them to put 'em on a truck and deliver them directly to my family room.  Yeah, not breaking myself is worth fifty dollars.  It's actually a bargain.

(And why, you may ask, am I still shopping at IKEA when I'm safely past grad school?  My lovely family room (aka, the place where I spend nearly all my waking hours) is home to a custom-made sectional, a custom-made media center, and (in a few weeks) a custom-made built-in wall of cabinetry (comprising a desk, some display cabinets, and a secret door hiding the door to my garage).  But there's about a foot-and-a-half of dead space behind the sectional, running all the way along a 20-foot wall.  It asks for a very low line of shelving.  Now, custom-made-built-in-wall-of-cabinetry guy will happily build this for about $90 a foot.  Or IKEA will sell me this job -- usable horizontally -- for $60 for six feet.  Keeping in mind that we're talking about something that will be, basically, hidden behind the sofa, the $180 IKEA version seems preferable to the $1600 custom job.  So, yeah, that's what I was doing at IKEA.  And, for the first time in my life, with the exception of two 99-cent lint rollers, I actually didn't buy anything at IKEA that I hadn't intended to buy before I went there.)

Of course, I'll have to find the time to actually put them together.  Then again, seeing as I own my own power tools, this process, too, may be somewhat different from when I was in college, and had to borrow a screwdriver from a neighbor for the bits that couldn't be done with that two-inch allen wrench IKEA includes in the box.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's a Freakin' Conspiracy

When I got my house, I went to the Post Office, cancelled my PO Box, and picked up a voter registration form.  I filled it out with my new address and mailed it in.

Yet, when the next election rolled around, no voter materials were mailed to me.  I checked my local voter registration website which had no record of me.  Not at my new address; not at my old address either.  (Not even at the apartment I lived at in between the two -- I was pretty sure I never re-registered there, but checked it just in case.)
So, when I went to the DMV to renew my license, I checked the little box saying "register me to vote."  I got a receipt and everything, saying that they forwarded the information to the registrar of voters.

And when I got home today -- information for the upcoming primary was in my mailbox.

... addressed to the former owner.

Checked again on the voter registration website and I'm still not in there.

That's two failed registrations, in case you're counting.

I did, however, get a summons for jury duty.

Monday, May 3, 2010

If you will forgive the Marcia Brady moment...

"Ow!  My nose!"

When I remodelled my kitchen, the contractors placed the microwave a little high.  High enough that I removed the rack, because I couldn't reliably reach high enough to balance food on it.  In fact, I can now tell you exactly how high the microwave is -- the bottom of the microwave is at precisely the height of my nose, a fact I unfortunately discovered when I whacked my nose with the corner of the door when opening it last night.


Really hard.

To the point where I was surprised (albeit pleasantly) that to discover that there was not, in fact, blood gushing therefrom. 

But it did knock my glasses out of whack, and the impact was so great that my front teeth hurt.  Now.  Nearly 24 hours later.

I'm not safe in a kitchen; I'm really not.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dear Diary...

Y'know, I work up such a massive sleep debt during the week, I sleep in insanely on weekends.  Today was no exception.  I got to bed around 11:00 last night, set an alarm for 9:30 ... and didn't actually get up until after 1:00.  And then with exercising, playing computer games, and generally doing nothing, I didn't get out of the house until just before 5:00.

It's 1:20 a.m. and I'm still up -- which isn't surprising, as I've only been up for about twelve hours -- but it puts me solidly in line to repeat this process again tomorrow, which will put me to bed late tomorrow night, and start racking up sleep debt as per usual on Monday.  I am someone for whom "break the cycle" really has to be a goal.

In any event, the day ... or, at least, five or so hours of it, was fairly productive.  I know that there's a ton of unpacking I have to do -- not just from going to Arizona (although, yes, I still haven't unpacked from last weekend) --  I'm talking about boxes from moving in last year.  And I know that one of the main reasons I haven't unpacked is because I know I need to replace the great big wall unit/desk contraption in my living room.  (My inner procrastinator is well aware that unpacking all my desk stuff and books makes no sense if I'll have to remove them all from the shelving to replace it.)  So I finally picked up the phone and called the company I'll be hiring to build it.  They're coming out next Saturday for an estimate.

(Yes, I do know the company I'll be hiring.  They gave me a telephone estimate last year, which I thought was too high.  Then I shopped it around and realized that it really was a quite good estimate, all things considered -- as the only time other companies could come close is if they built it with pressboard rather than wood, and left out all the extras.  So I figured I'd eventually go back to this company when I had my fiscal ducks in enough of a row to spend what it would actually cost to do this right.)

You ever hold two conflicting thoughts in your head at the same time and not realize they're conflicting?  For about two hours after I made the appointment for the estimate, I had the completely unrelated thought about finalizing plans for my (finally scheduled) birthday celebration next Saturday and failed to recognize that next Saturday is next Saturday.  (Honestly, if it isn't in my Droid, it doesn't exist.)

Yeah, the birthday thing was getting annoying -- with everything I wanted being either too expensive, or too far away, or something that half my friends couldn't do, or something that I didn't really want -- so I finally just said "fuck it," moved my birthday up a good month and a half to a more convenient time, and invited a bunch of friends to see Iron Man 2 and have dinner afterward.  So, today I picked up the tickets and made the dinner reservation.  Done and done.  (And it was really when I walked out of the restaurant that I thought, "Oh, yeah, that's when I booked the wall unit estimate.  Idiot.")

Actually, I stopped for dinner at the restaurant.  It's one of those teppan places, where they sit you in groups with other people.  Ended up having dinner with a nice family -- grandparents taking their kid and a few grandkids out to dinner.  Very friendly and sweet.  The granddaughter sitting next to me was a young teenager, and she was at that age where everything her grandfather does embarasses her.  And he knew it, so was harmlessly saying annoying things, just to get a rise out of her.  I was smiling a lot, and just thinking about when I last went out to dinner with either of my grandfathers -- they both passed, gosh, more than 20 years ago.  I very nearly said something to the girl along those lines, and how she ought to just cherish her time with him while he's young enough to still have fun and she's old enough to form lasting memories ... but then I realized that's just the age I'm at, and it wouldn't make any impression on her anyhow.  

Bonus, though -- the restaurant gave us all $5 off coupons -- so I got one and they got six.  Grandfather offered me theirs, as they wouldn't be coming back before the expiration date.  I gladly accepted -- the damn things are stackable -- so that'll save me $35 at my not-birthday party next week.

Got my nails done, too.  It's been forever -- and it's certainly been forever since I went to this particular salon.  (At least three months -- the manager certainly wasn't visibly pregnant the last time I was there.)  About five minutes in, I noticed that the nail tech doing my pedicure had an, er, extra finger.  (Not a whole one, just a sorta partial one.)  I spent the remainder of the pedicure trying not to stare, pondering what sort of difficulties it posed, and wondering why I was so curious about this anyway.  (And I was doing very well until such time as I went to hand her a pen and actually dropped it.  I'm so smooth.)

Came home and rewatched my Iron Man DVD (as though I'd actually need to catch up before the sequel).  It really holds up, though -- my favoritest superhero origin story ever.  Watched some random TV when it was over, and discovered that Dish is now carrying the HD version of BBC America.  This is the cause of much joy over here -- as it has really been annoying to watch BBCA showing all of its "Now in HD" ads but not actually having the HD version available to me.  (Suck it, Charter.)

2:00 a.m. now.  Time to go to bed and cram all of my weekend Things To Do in a few hours tomorrow.