Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hey! Mister!

I was driving along this morning when all of a sudden a shoe flew out of the bed of the pickup truck in the lane next to me. It looked like a nice shoe: bright yellow, Nike, some sleek athletic-type shoe, possibly a running shoe. It popped right out and bounced on the road, and then I was past it, and I didn't quite know what to do. Do I honk at the guy? If I end up even with him in that traffic jam up ahead, do I roll down my window, try to attract his attention, and tell him what happened? In the end, I did nothing, because, well, what was he going to do? Get out of his truck and walk back up the highway to get it?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Baby Einstein Is Destroying Democracy

At least according to this NPR commentator. You know, I agree with the individual points of her premise: Baby Einstein is overrated and George Bush's Iraq plan sucks. But then she loses me with the whole "Baby Einstein and its ilk are causing us to raise a generation of kids who will be unable to fulfill their duties as citizens of our "democracy" (I put that in quotes so that I won't set Ash off on a rant about how we don't live in a democracy, we live in a republic.). Seems a far bit of a stretch to me.


Get a Grip

There's no evidence that they actually planned to kill anyone.
There's no evidence that they had weapons or any other apparent ability to carry out this supposed threat.
Their list included the Energizer Bunny-- an inanimate object that may or may not exist in actual physical form (for all I know, it's only a computer animation).
The authorities are taking this seriously because one or more of these 14 and 15 year old girls-- a group surely known worldwide for being overdramatic-- used the word "kill" on their MySpace pages.
They are essentially and admittedly arresting and incarcerating these girls not because they actually think they are thwarting an act of violence but because they think that these girls might have done something worse at some unspecified time down the road.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Unless I've Misunderstood Their Actual Duties

Ethel and Myrtle are filling out their timesheets, trying to divide their hours into different activity categories. Funny, I haven't heard them mention an entry for "endless gossip and whining".

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This Is Seriously Trying My Need For Instant Gratification

I need new glasses. The frames for the ones I have now are five years old. I've had the lenses replaced twice, and I like them just fine, as far as these things go, but they are starting to show their age. The temple screw on one side keeps falling out, the earpieces are getting worn, and the enamel is chipped in a couple of places. Then, my latest eye exam showed a small change in my prescription, and since I didn't get new lenses after last year's small change, I am now in need of new glasses.

I am a picky, picky glasses chooser. I can't quantify exactly what it is that I want in a frame; it's always a case of "I know it when I see it." And the past several pairs of glasses were exactly like that: a beam of light shone down on them while an angel choir sang "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!", and I knew. So far, I've always been right, in that I like them enough to not only wear them (and I am a vain, vain person, who believes in her heart of heart that my eyes are my best feature, so you know I must like them if I'm willing to obstruct the view of my eyes), but also to keep them. In the past ten years, I've had three frames (and a lot more sets of lenses-- my eyes have gotten just a leeetle worse every year since, um, I was born). I am also a very patient shopper. I will look at every frame in the store if necessary, at multiple stores, and I write down the identifying information on any pair that I think is a contender. I get quotes. And I bargain for discounts, because man glasses are expensive now.

I've already been shopping for these new glasses since I walked out of the eye doctor's office on December 30th, and I've been pretty disappointed in the selection of eyewear available this season. Those half rimmed styles that are so popular right now look cute on the rack, but they all, regardless of material or color, look like Groucho Marx glasses on me. I tried on a million round plastic frames that were too Lisa Loeb, and a few hundred thousand wire rims that are too middle-aged, and I only found one pair of Kate Spade frames that incited lukewarm interest... and since, being Kate Spade, these frames were also in the neighborhood of $400, lukewarm wasn't nearly good enough.

On Saturday, Ash and I were at the mall, looking for a winter coat for him. He has a fairly specific coat in mind: double breasted, trench coat length, and very warm, and apparently that is just asking too much-- at least, if you're not shopping in Stockholm, anyway. I dragged him into the JC Penney optical department along the way, and started trying on one pair of frames after another. The saleswoman drifted over and immediately started telling me that every pair of glasses I put on looked beautiful on me. It didn't come across as intentionally insincere; in fact, it felt more like JC Penney trained her to do it and she's just earnestly trying to do what they told her to do, but it was still vaguely irritating. Still, despite the useless feedback, I found a pair that I really love. They're red and chunky, but not Lisa Loeb-y, and they're definitely a bit of a change from the purpleish wire frames I've been wearing. And best of all, they were cheap, cheap, cheap! The only downside? They'll take 7 -10 days to arrive.

7 -10 days?? It makes my inner Veruca Salt come screaming out. I want my glasses NOW!

It's Still Going to Happen...

... but maybe or maybe not on the 19th.

On Monday, I called the club back and was told that the GM wasn't in. I spoke to another young man who answered a couple of my questions, took my information, and told me that I could call back later in the week and make arrangements to sign the contract and hand over the deposit this weekend.

On Friday, I called the club to find out what time they'd be open. The GM answered the phone and when I told him my name and the date of my event, he very kindly informed me that I couldn't possibly have my reception there on the 19th because someone else is having their event on the 20th. This, as you can probably imagine, seemed a bit of a non-sequitur to me. I pressed for details.

Explanation #1: "We're in a residential area, so we can't possibly host two weddings in a row." I rather acidly noted that I was quite aware of the nature of the area because I live three blocks away. I left unsaid that this means I know full well that a) the club is directly across from the train tracks, which are far noisier than any wedding reception-- and especially a wedding reception featuring our relatively sedate families-- could ever hope to be, b) the closest neighbor to the club is the public library, which will be closed and therefore not in need of quiet at that hour, and c) while this is, indeed, a residential neighborhood, it is not some collection of quiet lanes and secluded estates-- it is, in fact, full of screaming children and barking dogs whenever the weather is nice. He seemed to be aware that I am aware of these things because he quickly switched to...

Explanation #2: "We can't possibly set up for two weddings in such a short period of time." This also seemed rather spurious to me since the contract specifies that you must end the event by 10 p.m. and break down your stuff and vacate the premises by 11 p.m. I started to point this out, but then Mr. GM made the mistake of telling me that the wedding on the 20th has 120 guests and asking how many mine will have. I dryly remarked that we were looking at a similar number and probably a similar setup. He quickly moved on to...

Explanation #3: "The couple on the 20th is having their ceremony here, too, so we told them that they could have their rehersal here on the 19th." After you already told us that we could have our reception?? I started to cry as I was pointing out all of the things that his employees had assured us of that he was now telling me was just impossible and how upset I was that they were not living up to their reputation. Mr. GM became extremely concerned and asked me if he could make some calls and get back to me. I agreed.

Maybe an hour later, he called back and announced that he had booked us for the 13th. Hey, look at that! A Saturday date had suddenly opened up! I gave him all of my information (again) and he told me that we could come in the next day to sign the contract and give them a deposit. In specific, he said "Davia will be here at 2 o'clock". I replied, "Great, we'll be there at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon." He wished me a good day and hung up.

I called Ash and told him about the latest turn of events. Shortly after that, he called me back to remind me that his sister was in another wedding on the 13th. Crap. I totally forgot about that. We talked to Liz that night, and she was extremely understanding. She told us that if it came down to it, she would drop out of the other wedding, but I don't want that and neither does Ash and neither, I'm sure, does she. So it was decided that we would go back to the club and see if they could move us to another Friday or any other date in the general time frame, and if absolutely necessary we would keep the 13th as the date. See, after calling or emailing a whole slew of places, this was the only one we've found that will let us bring in our own caterer, and the exclusive catering contracts are putting the other places around here out of our budget. I refuse to go into debt to pay for this wedding and I won't let our parents contribute so much that it puts them into financial jeopardy, either.

So, on Saturday we walked down the street to the club. And no one was there. I walked across the hall and picked up my books from the library (I love the ability to request books and such online and just pick them up at the local branch.), and then we sat in front of the locked, closed office door for over a half-hour, hope that Davia was just running a little late fading and being replaced by a hot, burning rage.

What the hell is wrong with these people? Hello! We are trying to give you money. A lot of it, considering that you are providing us with nothing other than your rooms, water and electric, and some tables and chairs. We are bringing the food, the workers, the booze, the bartender, the tablecloths, the sound system, the decorations, and everything else that you need!

I left a rather scathing message when we got back to Ash's place, expressing my intense displeasure at this turn of events and requesting that Mr. GM call me at work tomorrow to discuss it, or if he prefers (and frankly, if I were in his shoes, I would definitely prefer), he can call Ash on his cell. We'll see what he has to say about this. Honestly, I don't know that there's anything short of illness or bodily injury requiring a visit to the ER on Davia's part that could excuse this. I really love this facility and want to have my reception there quite a lot. But I don't really want to give my hard earned money to these people anymore.

I've spent a good chunk of time dealing with this already, and tomorrow I get to start making more calls to try and find a backup location in case we can't work things out with the club. Anyone in the area with a suggestion-- unorthodox or off the wall though you may think it is-- please email me and let me know. Or leave a comment.

The thing that I really don't get is that they know that I found them through one of the major wedding websites, on the bulletin board for local brides. Do they not realize that I'm going to turn around and post about this experience and name names when I do so? Do they not care?


Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Really Happening!

We've set a date for the wedding, more or less. I give that qualification only because we are waiting to confirm with the church, but given that I am on the board of trustees at the church and saw the schedule just over a week ago, and the fact that we chose a Friday night, I'm not worried about that.

Yeah, Friday.

Wayyyy back when we first started talking about this in concrete terms, we tossed around the idea of having the reception at the neighborhood club down the street from Ash's place. It's a cute little building and I'd heard good things about holding a reception there. When I called for a price, I was disappointed to learn that it costs about a third more than I budgeted for the hall rental. But after calling around to a million and twelve places, plus researching on the interwebs, the price suddenly seemed downright reasonable, in fact, a bargain. I made an appointment for us to take a look at the inside Saturday morning. I figured that maybe that would make up our minds for us: either it would be dismal and utterly not worth it, or it would be breathtakingly gorgeous and I would fall so in love that I couldn't imagine having the reception anywhere else.

Of course, neither of these happened to be the case.

Luckily, though, it's much closer to the former than the latter, and we like it quite a lot. It's actually very in keeping with my tastes and I love the idea of getting married and celebrating the marriage in the neighborhood where we met, and fell in love, and decided to spend the rest of our lives together. This is a wonderful neighborhood with a close, friendly feel. People say hello to each other, and you get to know your neighbors. During the summer, I would be out jogging and one person after another would call out greetings, and once a man offered me a drink from the garden hose he was using to water the flowers in his front yard, making me laugh. I love it here, and it feels so right to get married in that kind of surroundings.

Unluckily for us, the place is booked. solid. If we wanted to get married there on a Saturday night, we'd have to push it back to the end of November or December. Neither of us wants to wait any longer-- in fact, October seems too far away-- and I especially don't want to get married around the holidays. There's plenty of other stuff going on at that time for everyone, who wants to plan a wedding while shopping and decorating and doing year end stuff at work and all the usual things that make Christmastime so hectic? Also, all of the books and such say that you can expect things to be more expensive around that time, what with competition for halls and caterers and such. Moreover, one of the reasons that we wanted to get married on the date that we originally picked was that we love Fall. We hoped to land in that sweet spot when the leaves are all brilliant colors and the weather is still mild.

The woman from the club went through the book very patiently with us and as it turns out, the date that we wanted had a notation in it as though it had been booked, but without the usual information that accompanies a booking. She advised us to call back on Monday and talk to the club manager and find out for sure. As it turns out, the couple that we passed coming in as we were leaving were on their way in to drop off the deposit for the booking. So close! So far away!

So now we've hit on the idea of moving it back a day and holding it on the Friday before our original date. And in 277 days, I will be Mrs. Ash.


Sometimes, I Even Imagine They Duel

I love it when I hear a story on NPR that describes some esoteric (to the layperson, anyway) point as being a point of contention among scientists. I always get this mental image of a group of scientists in white lab coats-- they look a lot like they just stepped out of a Far Side panel-- trash talking and arguing at the top of their lungs until one of them loses it and slaps another, and then it turns into a melee, with white-coated, thick-spectacled scientists screaming things at each other like "String theory is wrong, you jerk!"


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Discriminating Tastes

In my decade of legal drinking, I've come to the realization that bar restrooms are much like Longfellow's "Little Girl": when they're good, they're very good, but when they are bad, they are horrid.

What makes a bad bar restroom?
  • Filth. Typically, the bad ones are so dirty that germs fear to incubate there.
  • Poor lighting. Just the thing for enabling the drunks to navigate the puddles of dubious origin that almost always dot the floor.
  • Doors that don't lock, or that have such big gaps between the door and the frame that you might just as well not even have the door shut. Bathroom time is private time!
  • No hot water. Look, your germ-infested bathroom is attached to a place where people are putting things into their mouths. Perhaps you even serve something (probably deep-fried) masquerading as "food". Wouldn't it be prudent to provide people with the tools to reduce the odds that they will pass some disease to the people they're sharing an order of wings with? Yes, I am fully aware that not all of them will take advantage of this. Still, it seems like you'd like to make inroads where possible.
  • No soap. See above.
  • No toilet paper. For pity's sake, it's not like the ladies can just give it a shake, you know? And some of us might be planning to hook up after this, so maybe we don't want to drip dry. Or maybe we just plain don't want to drip dry. It's pretty gross.
  • Only one stall for a crowded bar. If you have more than 10 tables or regularly entertain 100 or more patrons, you need more than one stall. It's not like the ladies can share the bowl in an emergency. One stall and 10 or 15 women waiting to use it means that people are getting smacked by the door to the hall/ bar, or else the door is being held open (see above, re: bathroom time is private time), women are trying to rush and they start to take short cuts with the whole handwashing thing, except then there are always a couple of oblivious princesses who stand in front of the sink so that they can primp in the mirror and then other women get stuck waiting to wash their hands and it all turns into one big, unhygenic traffic jam.

The good ones?
  • Not making you gag when you walk through the door is a good first step
  • Make it drunk proof. This means no wobbly toilet seats, no doors that require you to shimmy around them in order to get in or out of the stall, no steps in weird places-- this means you, Place that makes you step up into the dimly lit stall, put in more than one 40 watt bulb, and for the love of St. Francis, please don't use those stupid faucets where you have to hold it down to make the water come out. Those suck royally-- and make it impossible to effectively wash your hands, you morons!-- when you are sober. They become an insurmountable obstacle when impaired.
  • Sufficient supplies. That means toilet paper, paper towels (those stupid hot air blowers just cover your freshly washed hands in germs), and a functioning tampon machine (every girl gets caught out every once in a while).
  • Hot water to wash your hands. And none of that nasty combination lotion-soap that won't rinse off, no matter what.
  • Doors that open out, not in. It's just easier to get in and out of the stalls without unnecessary proximity to the toilet.
The cream of the crop, the Taj Mahal of ladies' rooms?
  • Use actual 2-ply toilet paper, not that half-ply institutional crap that most places use. Yes, I know it's all about the
  • Have pretty, smelly things for you to use. Yeah, I carry a little bottle of lotion with me most of the time, but it's a nice gesture, and I always like to try something new.
  • Hot water and those little automatic sensor faucets, so I don't have to touch the knob that some other woman touched with her germy hands when she turned the water on so that she could flick her hands through the water and leave the restroom thinking that she washed her hands (yeah, real effective, moron. Don't even think I'm sharing so much as a potato chip with you, ever again, you walking germ factory.). The water at work, for example, gets so hot that I figure any germ able to withstand it has earned the right to infect me.
  • An antechamber where you can wait for the next open stall, or primp, or whatever. It's just nicer for everyone involved.
Really, though, what it comes down to is cleanliness. I don't need to eat off the floors or anything, but I don't want to be able to vividly imagine the individual germs crawling all over my skin, either. Which brings me to one of the many things that I like more about my job than about going to law school: people here know how to use a public restroom. I've never yet walked into a stall with something gross in it or on it cf. law school. No one leaves used tampons in the bowl or anywhere else visible. No one walks away without flushing, or leaves urine splashed on the seat or on the floor.

Working with grownups is awesome.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Questions Raised By My Blog Stats

What exactly were you expecting to find?

Friday, January 05, 2007

How Long Can I Resist?

I started training with June. She's very funny, but it's the kind of funny that you don't notice unless you talk to someone for a longer time. In a "It's a Small, Small World" moment, we discovered that we were neighbors when I lived in Buffalo. Literally. She and her husband lived in a house across the street and four doors down at the same time that I was living in the house on the corner. Neither of us remembers the other, and I didn't know most of my neighbors when I lived in Buffalo, but it's kind of a cool coincidence anyway. She's got a thick Buffalo accent, and whenever she says my name it kind of weirds me out, because she sounds just like Finbar's mother.

She's due in two weeks, and she is huuuuuge. I have never in my entire life walked up to a pregnant woman and touched her belly without permission. In fact, I've never asked to be allowed, because I figure that pregnant women get enough people invading their space, and that's a pretty private thing. Still, after sitting with June for hours, I find myself nearly overwhelmed by the irresistable urge to poke her belly. I don't know why! It's horrible, I know! And yet I find myself thinking of it over and over again...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Meeting With the Bosses

I sit, as I may or may not have mentioned (and am too lazy to go back and look), in a different part of our floor than the rest of the team that I work with. This has its advantages (a much bigger cubicle, close to the kitchen) and its disadvantages (Ethel and Myrtle). There is another temp assigned to my team who sits with me, and we get along very well. Carrie got engaged around the same time as I did, and she's studying for the CPA exam, so we've got a bit in common. Every so often, the woman who's training her comes and sits in our cube. Ginny has been working there longer than almost everyone else on our team, and she's just one of the nicest people you'll meet. But you'd be well advised not to take advantage of her niceness, because she. will. destroy. you. Nicely.

Today, being the first day back after the holiday for all three of us, was one of those days where you just can't seem to settle to your work. I'd been reading and re-reading the same document, feeling that strange disconnect where you understand each individual word, but still can't comprehend what it's saying, and I guess Ginny and Carrie were feeling the same, because we started talking about soemthing or other, and soon we were merrily gossiping away about the goings on in the office, and especially about the new jobs that had been posted that morning.

Suddenly, my boss's boss and another of the managers popped their heads around the cubicle wall. We were totally busted, and we knew it. Angela and Wendy asked me if they could see me for a moment. And immediately, I thought to myself, "Oh, God, what did I do to get in trouble." Then I thought, "Nothing. I've done nothing that could get me into trouble. I just had a meeting with my boss this morning, and she specifically said I was doing a good job." And then we were standing in front of one of the conference rooms. There are two kinds of conference rooms here: the open ones and the closed ones. The open ones are used for most stuff. There is a conscious effort to keep people in the loop and foster an open atmosphere in the office, which I think is really great. I've worked places where they doled out information on a need-to-know basis, and it made people paranoid. The closed conference rooms are used only for things that are... more delicate matters. And they were taking me into a private conference room.

"Oh my God. They're going to let me go."

Angela shut the door and asked me, "Do you think you'd like to stay at The Company a little longer?"

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I would!

As it happens, one of the account managers is about to go on maternity leave. And I've been asked to fill in for her while she's gone. That means that I will learn quite a lot about the finance side of our contracts, which should be interesting. Or at least a change of pace. I'm also feeling good because Angela told me that she thought of me right away because Chris (my immediate boss) had spoken so highly of my work and my positive attitude and sense of humor. She told me that they wanted to see what kind of work I could do, "just in case" I decide that I'd like to apply for a permanent job at Our Company.

I went back to my desk and Carrie and Ginny looked at me all big-eyed and asked "Are you OK?" I laughed and told them that I'd been asked to backfill for June while she's out on maternity leave-- one of the many subjects we'd been discussing before Angela and Wendy showed up. Ginny laughed and Carrie moaned, "Oh, no! Does that mean you're leaving me? I don't want to lose my neighbor!"

Shortly after that, I wandered over to the Ladies' and as I was washing my hands after, Chris came in. "I guess you've talked to Angela?" I told her I had. We talked about the arrangement for a minute, and then she looked at me out of the corner of her eye and slyly asked whether I thought I might apply for one of the jobs that were posted that morning. Long story short, she thinks I should apply for her job. Or to be more precise, she wants me to apply for the new Contracts Compliance Manager position that was posted this morning-- the exact posistion that she holds, but presumably that manager will handle a different set of accounts or something.

I guess they are pretty pleased with my work. It feels great to be wanted. I know that nothing's settled or certain or anything, but I think it's a positive sign, and it would be good to have something permanent-- something with benefits! A good start to the new year, at any rate.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I Know It Looks All Crazy

... I'm working on this template, but it's time for bed, so it's just going to stay slightly wonky until I can tweak things.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

"The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!"
~Edward Payson Powell

“New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”
~James Agate

"Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever."
~Mark Twain